News Round-up – Deadpool 2 director, new Cloverfield film, Ice Cube is Fagin and more

The ongoing saga surrounding the Deadpool sequel dominated the world of movie news this week. There was a misguided fan petition, rumours surrounding the reasons for original director Tim Miller leaving the project and, finally, the announcement of a new frontrunner for the job.

Elsewhere, there were a couple of really bizarre casting announcements, a fresh bombshell from JJ Abrams and the news of an action sequel that literally no one has asked for or wants to see.

Here’s your weekly film news round-up…


Deadpool 2 eyes John Wick action expert

Ryan Reynolds brought quickfire comedy to Deadpool
Ryan Reynolds brought quickfire comedy to Deadpool

It’s been less than a week since Tim Miller departed Deadpool 2 due to “creative differences” with star Ryan Reynolds. It seems that Fox is moving on quickly, with John Wick co-director David Leitch in contention to fill the vacant chair. Variety is reporting that Leitch is frontrunner for the job, though there are other names in contention. This comes after a week in which deluded fans started a popular petition for Quentin Tarantino to direct the film, which is utterly ridiculous.

Leitch would be a very solid choice to direct Deadpool 2. The action sequences in Deadpool were considerably weaker than than the comedy, which was nicely done, and Leitch’s work in John Wick shows that he definitely knows his way around chaotic, anarchic gunplay. He would certainly be a better choice than Tarantino, who operates in a completely different world. Deadpool 2 is slated for a January 2018 release.


God Particle joins Cloverfield universe

JJ Abrams speaks at Comic-Con in 2010
JJ Abrams speaks at Comic-Con in 2010 (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

JJ Abrams has continued to flex his muscles as a producer this week, with the announcement that his mysterious project God Particle is actually set to be within the Cloverfield universe. The Wrap broke the news this week that the shady sci-fi movie will be a follow-up to the original found footage movie and this year’s 10 Cloverfield Lane. There’s a formidable cast attached to the film, including David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris O’Dowd.

This announcement certainly doesn’t come with the element of surprise that greeted the last Cloverfield movie. That one came as a real shock and gave a surprising marketing boost to an interesting thriller that otherwise would have been unlikely to see the inside of most multiplexes. It comes across as a little cynical, particularly given Abrams’ plans to expand the universe with further entries. But if it’s half as good as 10 Cloverfield Lane, then I’m on board. God Particle will be released in February 2017.


Ice Cube reviews the situation

Ice Cube performs at Supafest 2012
Ice Cube performs at Supafest 2012 (Photo: Eva Rinaldi)

Disney is planning a new take on Dickens’ Oliver Twist, with Ice Cube as Fagin. Yes, you did read that right. The Hollywood Reporter wrote this week that the rapper will play Fagin in a new musical take on the story, set in the modern world. Thomas Kail, who won a Tony for directing the popular musical Hamilton, is assisting Disney in putting the project together. Cube is also co-writing the script treatment for the film, which is at an early stage of development.

This seems like a very intriguing project, particularly given the involvement of Ice Cube. This is almost certainly going to be a vastly different slant on the material than any previous adaptation, including the Oscar-winning 60s musical, in which the late Ron Moody gave us the definitive take on Fagin.


Pixar shuffles release date calendar

Pixar's sentient toys were last seen in the deeply emotional Toy Story 3
Pixar’s sentient toys were last seen in the deeply emotional Toy Story 3

Pixar has been shunting dates around on its release date calendar, with particular reference to two major sequels that the animation studio currently has in the pipeline. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pixar has moved around The Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4. The two films have swapped places on the Pixar slate, with The Incredibles 2 now due in summer 2018 and the return of Toy Story slated for summer 2019. The films will be added to next summer’s sequel Cars 3 and Coco, which will land in November 2017.

This is a move that makes a great deal of sense. The Incredibles should be a much easier nut for Pixar to crack and they will want to strike while the superhero craze is in full swing. Meanwhile, Toy Story 4 is a project that a lot of people, myself included, are incredibly sceptical about. I would rather Pixar took its time with this one, in order to make sure that they get it absolutely right.


Stallone out of Rambo reboot

Sylvester Stallone has played Rambo in four movies
Sylvester Stallone has played Rambo in four movies

Eight years after Sylvester Stallone bid farewell to one of his most iconic characters in John Rambo, there’s a reboot of the franchise in the pipeline. He did return to Rocky with this year’s Creed but, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Stallone will not be back for this one. Criminal director Ariel Vromen has been tapped to helm Rambo: New Blood, in which a younger actor will take on the part.

The Rambo franchise is less well-known than Rocky and there doesn’t seem to be much appetite for a return to the character. However, like with Creed, there’s something attractive about a new actor getting the chance to shine in the spotlight. Without the seal of approval provided by a Stallone appearance, though, the film could struggle for traction. If it has a good script behind it and the new lead actor proves to be a solid choice, the new Rambo could definitely work.


Kevin Hart to don Santa’s red coat

Kevin Hart performs stand-up at Western CT State University
Kevin Hart performs stand-up at Western CT State University
(Photo: Western CT State University)

When you think of Santa Claus, you don’t immediately think of squeaky-voiced comedian Kevin Hart. However, that’s who Disney thought of when they were casting their now festive family adventure, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Disney is hard at work developing Dashing Through the Snow, which is said to be similar in tone to Liar Liar and Elf. The film will follow a workaholic detective who may be able to repair his strained relationship with his son, if Santa helps.

This is unconventional casting, but casting that simultaneously makes complete sense. Hart has appeared in several very good comedies this year and appears to have developed the ability to dial down his infuriatingly zany shtick when the time calls for it. It seems like it has been rather a long time since we got a future Christmas classic, but hopefully Disney will pull off something special with Dashing Through the Snow.


Butler to defend POTUS again in threequel

Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart in action sequel London Has Fallen
Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart in action sequel London Has Fallen

One of the worst films of this year was London Has Fallen, in which rather alarming racism accompanied a ham-fisted, lame-brained action movie in which Gerard Butler yelled expletives at people for two hours. Deadline reported that Butler is getting back in the saddle for Angel Has Fallen. The title refers to the codename for presidential plane Air Force One and this time, it seems as if Butler’s security lunk will be the target of terrorism. We don’t know if Aaron Eckhart will return as the beleaguered POTUS.

I don’t have any appetite for another movie in this series, which started with Olympus Has Fallen, and I have real trouble that anyone is ready for another go round, particularly given how much contempt the latest film seemed to have for its own audience. Despite a lower budget, the second film made even more box office dollars than the first, which is mystifying. I don’t know who is going to see these movies, but I really want to tell them to stop.


Do you think David Leitch is a good choice to helm Deadpool 2? Who would be a better Fagin than Ice Cube? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.

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