News Round-up – Bardem eyed for monsters universe, Pokemon Go movie, La La Land trailer and more

In the world of movie news, this has again been a quieter week with the big releases of summer rumbling through cinemas rather than making the headlines.

This week, however, there has been news of some interesting casting for the upcoming Universal Monsters franchise and a number of trailers for some of the biggest films of the start of next year. There was also another tantalising glimpse of the next Star Wars movie coming out of a big celebration event.

Here’s all the movie news worth caring about from the last seven days.


Bardem could be Universal’s new Frankenstein

Javier Bardem pictured in 2011
Javier Bardem pictured in 2011 (Photo: David Torcivia)

The ‘Universal Monsters’ shared universe looks set to be bolstered further by the addition of another top actor. Javier Bardem is in talks to play Frankenstein’s monster, according to a report in Variety, which was later clarified on Twitter. Bardem would join the likes of Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe and Tom Cruise in the rapidly expanding franchise.

Considering the fact that we haven’t seen a single movie in the new Universal Monsters franchise yet, it seems unusual for so many A-list names to be appearing in quick succession. These movies will have to capture a very distinct tone in order to work, particularly given that many of these monsters are simply seen as outdated novelty characters for modern cinema audiences. On paper, this franchise might have seemed like a good idea, but the execution is not going to be easy.


Gosling and Stone smoulder in La La Land trailer

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star in musical drama La La Land
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star in musical drama La La Land

After he burst on to the scene with the masterful Whiplash, I and many others were excited to see what Damien Chazelle would do next. The answer was La La Land, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as lovers in Los Angeles. She is an aspiring actress and he is a musician forced to play in dingy bars. An atmospheric and alluring trailer for the film debuted this week.

It’s a great trailer that showcases a glamorous, romantic tone that has a dreamlike quality to it. Chazelle proved with Whiplash that he is capable of conveying the power and emotion of music on the big screen and, if La La Land can replicate that quality, it could be one of the best musical films of recent years.

La La Land will arrive in UK cinemas in January 2017.


Pokemon Go movie already in the pipeline

Pokemon Go has quickly become a smartphone phenomenon
Pokemon Go has quickly become a smartphone phenomenon

Augmented reality smartphone app Pokemon Go launched in the UK this week and it is already a bona fide phenomenon. It’s perhaps unsurprising, in that case, that studios are circling the rights to resurrect the dormant Pokemon movie franchise. Deadline reported this week that Legendary Pictures is interested in acquiring the rights to make a live-action movie based around the popular universe.

This is an entirely logical move from the money-grabbing Hollywood machine and it could produce the most interesting take on the material since the first animated Pokemon movie in 1998. It’s crucial, though, that they don’t miss the boat on the popularity of Pokemon Go in a similar way to how The Angry Birds Movie arrived considerably after the craze for the game had waned. With the right script, the right cast and the right timing, this could be yet another stage of the Pokemon resurgence.


Liam Neeson is… a talking tree?

Liam Neeson is a talking tree in A Monster Calls
Liam Neeson is a talking tree in A Monster Calls

Juan Antonio Bayona has proven himself to be a very interesting director with his work on The Orphanage and The Impossible and his latest film, A Monster Calls certainly looks like something singular. Based on the novel by Patrick Ness, who also wrote the screenplay, the film follows a young boy whose life is changed when he encounters a tree creature that tells him stories. A new trailer for the film has given us a good glimpse of the creature, as voiced by Liam Neeson. Because of course.

The trailer looks more than a little reminiscent of Spielberg’s The BFG, which is set to appear in UK cinemas this week. But Bayona brings the kind of dark horror inflection to this material that Spielberg simply isn’t capable of in a big blockbuster. A Monster Calls sounds like trash on paper but, with an emotional core, it could be something truly unique when it arrives in January 2017.


Pennywise arrives in first image from It

Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise the clown in It
Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise the clown in It (Photo: Marco Grob/EW)

Coulrophobes everywhere, beware. Pennywise is back! After a long time in gestation, the new adaptation of Stephen King’s It is finally due in September 2017. Entertainment Weekly has released the first image of Bill Skarsgård as the antagonist made famous by Tim Curry in the 1990 miniseries. It looks like the classic Pennywise design is in place , ensuring that the character will once again haunt the dreams of anyone who sees the movie.

Skarsgård told EW that Curry’s performance was “truly great” and discussed how the King novel popularised fear of clowns in a way that it never had been before. He certainly looks to have got a good grasp of the character’s appeal and this image teases a terrifying new take on the iconic villain.


Rogue One clip showcases a grittier Star Wars

Felicity Jones fights back in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Felicity Jones fights back in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The annual Star Wars Celebration event yielded some exciting new material for fans ahead of the release of Rogue One in December. First, there was a new behind the scenes teaser reel for the movie containing lots of new footage, particularly of Felicity Jones as the film’s rebel lead. It certainly seems like director Gareth Edwards has an appropriate reverence for the material and the film’s feel seems more like a war movie than hardcore sci-fi, which is a wise way to differentiate it from the main ‘episodes’.

Alongside the teaser reel, a new Rogue One poster also landed online, with the Death Star looming large over the image. There’s only going to be more and more publicity material for the film as the release date gets closer but, hopefully, the marketing team will mimic the less is more publicity approach that led The Force Awakens to such enormous success.


‘Six seasons and a movie’ for Community?

Cast of Dan Harmon's cult hit TV show Community
Cast of Dan Harmon’s cult hit TV show Community

Dan Harmon‘s cult TV series Community encouraged fans to embrace the mantra that “six seasons and a movie” is the ideal lifespan for a television series. The show finished airing its sixth season on Yahoo last year and, since then, fans have been waiting patiently for Harmon to complete his pledge. Harmon told Larry King Now that the Community movie is still in the pipeline, promising: “It’ll make a great movie. It’ll happen.”

The prospect of a Community film is definitely an interesting one. However, it’s something that could probably do with a couple of years of separation. The central cast are all deeply embedded in their own projects, so it would be nice to see them come back together down the road to come back to the beautifully bizarre universe that they made their home.


Are you ready for a Pokemon Go movie? Does the new Pennywise terrify you? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.

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