In the post-summer lull before the cogs of awards season start to turn, it’s quiet in the world of cinema. However, this week hosted a major trailer for one of the biggest blockbusters of the winter months in the shape of Passengers, starring A-list double act Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt.
Elsewhere, we got first looks at the new John Wick and Jumanji movies, with the latter drawing the ire of the internet for some rather questionable wardrobe decisions. There’s also another film based on a smartphone app, so the collapse of narrative originality continues.
Here’s your movie news round-up…
J-Law joins Pratt for Passengers trailer
Passengers hit the headlines when it was first announced that female star Jennifer Lawrence would earn more than Chris Pratt for the movie. A Passengers trailer finally landed online this week and it teased a sci-fi romance between two astronauts who wake up early from their sleep pods. Things start to go wrong pretty quickly and it soon becomes clear that there’s something darker and more disastrous going on. In common with many recent blockbuster teasers, this trailer then proceeds to give away almost every twist and turn of the plot in depressing fashion.
The trailer is certainly compelling and it showcases an impressive chemistry between two of the biggest stars in Hollywood at the moment. I’d rather it had left a little more to the imagination in terms of the plot, but this seems like another sophisticated piece of work from Morten Tyldum, director of The Imitation Game. I will definitely be in line when Passengers arrives in UK cinemas just before Christmas.
Jumanji set pic sparks controversy
The hype machine for the upcoming Jumanji reboot has been moving at full speed in recent weeks as cameras have started rolling on the film, which stars Dwayne Johnson, his Central Intelligence buddy Kevin Hart and former Doctor Who companion Karen Gillan. This week, The Rock posted a first set pic from the film on his Instagram page and the internet exploded in disgust at Gillan’s distinctly impractical outfit. Gillan defended the costume choice on Twitter, saying there was a reason she was wearing “child sized clothes”.
Aside from the rather distasteful costume that Gillan is wearing, this is a fun set pic showcasing the ample comedic talent that will appear in the new Jumanji film. There are plenty of questions as to whether the film needs to be made, but the casting team has certainly played a blinder. Jumanji is scheduled for a July 2017 release, placing it squarely in the heart of summer blockbuster season.
Keanu goes gun-fu for John Wick 2
After the gun-fu thrills of the original movie, John Wick: Chapter 2 has earned a place as one of the most highly anticipated sequels currently on the calendar. This week, a poster arrived for the film, showcasing Keanu Reeves being measured for a rather suave suit. It’s safe to say that Reeves’ title character isn’t preparing for a nice, quiet dinner date and will be deploying his new suit in something akin to the wildly inventive gunplay that made John Wick such an unexpected treat.
John Wick was a tremendous movie and there’s every chance that the sequel will be just as good, embracing the stripped-down storytelling and tightly choreographed action. The first film hinted at an intriguing, complex criminal world that leaves ample room for a sequel to explore. John Wick: Chapter 2 will be released in February 2017.
Denzel and Fuqua back for Equalizer 2
We have known for quite some time that a sequel to The Equalizer is being made, with Denzel Washington set to return in the vigilante leading role. Collider spoke to producer Todd Black, who confirmed that director Antoine Fuqua will also be returning and that the film will start shooting in September 2017. It’s safe to say that the film’s original release date, which was set for September 2017, will now have to move, unless the schedule really is superhuman.
The Equalizer wasn’t a particularly impressive film and there’s little appetite for a sequel. Washington, though, is a prime example of action movie cool and he could well elevate the material to a degree that creates an interesting movie. The script will have to be a definite step up from its predecessor, which essentially just strung action sequences together loosely without much desire for coherence.
Leto goes arty for Warhol biopic
Jared Leto received distinctly mixed reviews for his ultra-method turn as the Joker in Suicide Squad earlier this year. His next role looks like it could be a decidedly more conventional piece of work. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Leto is set to star in and produce a biopic of pop art pioneer Andy Warhol. Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter will write Warhol based on Victor Bockris’ biography from the 1980s. It’s another major LGBT role for Leto, who won an Oscar for playing a trans woman in Dallas Buyers Club.
This seems like a solid role for Leto, who will be aiming to return to his critically praised work ahead of his inevitable reprisal of the Joker role. Warhol is a compelling character and this could well be a movie that enters the awards conversation when it arrives on our screens. With Leto and Winter on board, it certainly looks like a prestige picture.
Rings hit by yet another delay
Few films have been shunted around by the studio as much as Rings – Paramount’s belated new take on the famed J-horror franchise that started with Ringu in 1998. It has had about four different release dates and looked as if it was set to occupy the traditional Paranormal Activity spot in this year’s Halloween calendar, but the studio has intervened. Rings has now been shifted once again and won’t hit American cinemas until February 2017. There’s no news yet on when we’ll get it over here in the UK.
It doesn’t bode well that Rings keeps being moved around by the studio and likely betrays a lack of confidence that the movie can actually relaunch the franchise. The Rings trailer we saw a couple of weeks ago was a rather generic horror preview and perhaps Paramount does not think that the film can shoulder the burden of being Halloween’s biggest horror movie.
Fruit Ninja to head from app to screen
After the rather impressive box office performance of the mediocre Angry Birds Movie, which brought in more than $300m worldwide, it was somewhat inevitable that more app adaptations would arrive on the big screen. The latest smartphone time-waster to come into the crosshairs of Hollywood producers is Fruit Ninja, in which players swipe their way through falling pieces of fruit. If you thought it wasn’t possible to find a property with even less of a narrative than Angry Birds, you have been conclusively proven wrong. It sounds too bizarre to be true, but The Hollywood Reporter wrote this week that New Line Cinema has picked up the rights.
I can’t think of a single reason why these rights have been bought. Fruit Ninja was never as well known and popular as Angry Birds and it’s not exactly a game that many people poured much of their time into. There seems little chance that New Line is going to be able to get a decent film out of this and it could end up being a bit of a flop.
Were you impressed by the Passengers trailer? Or is the Fruit Ninja movie more your style? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.