It’s Comic-Con weekend and that means a deluge of super cool movie news has landed online courtesy of the geek culture spectacular across the pond in San Diego. Marvel and DC were both there with the latest salvos in their respective superhero universes and Warner Bros also gave us a good look at Ready Player One, which seems like a concerted effort to fit all popular culture ever produced into a single movie.
Elsewhere, it was a big week for trailers. We got our first glimpse of Guillermo del Toro‘s new monster film and a teaser for The Disaster Artist gave us our first look at what appears to be a fun dramedy based around the making of one of the most notorious bad movies of all time. We also said goodbye this week to one of the most iconic names in horror history.
Here’s your movie news round-up…
Warner Bros brings the big guns to Comic-Con
Warner Bros was the studio that made the biggest splash at Comic-Con 2017 over the weekend, debuting a four-minute trailer for upcoming superhero spectacular Justice League. It’s a really fun teaser, showcasing a much brighter visual palette from Zack Snyder and a smattering of comedy, mostly courtesy of Ezra Miller as The Flash. There’s also plenty of kick-ass action for fans of Wonder Woman and more of Jason Momoa trying to be Wolverine… if that’s the sort of thing you like. Justice League will be released in November 2017.
It also sounded like there might be a little trouble in paradise for DC, with The Hollywood Reporter revealing that Ben Affleck‘s future as Batman might be somewhat limited. Matt Reeves, who is on board to direct The Batman, reportedly has a wide-ranging franchise planned and a source said Affleck’s advancing age could be a barrier to those plans. There’s certainly a degree of sense to this. If the plans for Batman in the DC Universe are long-term, it makes sense to introduce the change before Reeves embarks on his franchise.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros brought another huge movie to its Comic-Con panel as we were treated to our first look at Steven Spielberg‘s virtual reality blockbuster Ready Player One, adapted from the beloved novel of the same name. It sees Tye Sheridan play a young man who frequently immerses himself in a VR game, featuring pop culture references as wide-ranging and bizarre as Freddy Krueger, The Iron Giant and the DeLorean from Back to the Future. It’s a really enjoyable trailer that throws everything at the audience with chaotic visual styling, although we did the whole pop culture thing in Lego Batman Movie. Ready Player One will be released into UK multiplexes in March 2018.
Thor: Ragnarok unveils bonkers new trailer
Not to be outdone, Marvel also rode in to Comic-Con looking to make a big splash – and splash they did. The footage from Avengers: Infinity War that debuted last week at D23 Expo got another airing and, by all accounts, tore the house down again. The big news for those of us not in Hall H, though, was the arrival of a brilliant new trailer for Thor: Ragnarok. Director Taika Waititi has certainly stamped his oddball sensibilities on the film going by this new trailer, which teases great chemistry between Chris Hemsworth‘s Thor and Mark Ruffalo as Hulk. In an attempt to stop Cate Blanchett bringing about the apocalypse, the duo must even join forces with Tom Hiddleston as the tricksy Loki.
This is a great trailer and one that suggests Marvel is going way out into left-field after the return to formula represented by Spider-Man: Homecoming. Ragnarok looks gloriously batty, colourful and visually inventive. It also looks as if it’s going to be another very funny Marvel film, with the comedy a little more unconventional than what we have come to expect. Thor: Ragnarok is due to land in the UK in October.
Horror icon George Romero passes away
The film community was dealt a huge blow this week by the news that horror legend George Romero has died at the age of 77, following a brief battle with lung cancer. Romero was an icon of the horror genre and one of the most influential voices in scary movies, having popularised the idea of zombies in cinema with Night of the Living Dead and its deeply satirical sequel Dawn of the Dead. He would continue to make films until 2009’s Survival of the Dead. He was a huge influence on many modern filmmakers and Edgar Wright, in particular, wrote an eloquent piece about how important Romero was to him, both before and after his homage to the filmmaker in Shaun of the Dead.
For me, Romero stands out as an innovator up there with peers like John Carpenter and Wes Craven, who helped move horror in new directions. Night of the Living Dead, made on the definition of a shoestring budget in 1968, still stands up today as a haunting, terrifying watch and its follow-up is a searing social commentary that showed horror’s potential to say something powerful about the real world. Romero will be sadly missed.
Franco goes Wiseau for Disaster Artist trailer
Among those who have a baffling adoration for bad movies, The Room is Citizen Kane. It has a cult appeal like few other movies and, indeed, James Franco has been receiving awards buzz for his portrayal of that film’s writer-director-star Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist. The first teaser trailer for the film landed this week, recreating one of the film’s most notorious moments with Franco, Seth Rogen and Dave Franco. It sees Wiseau repeatedly fluff his lines on a bizarre rooftop set, with an enormous green screen behind it.
This is a funny trailer for a film that has an enviable comedy cast and a great deal of steam behind it coming off its festival run. Franco’s performance seems to nail the bizarre cadence of Wiseau and there is a sense of lovingly taking the piss which could mark the film out as a comedy film worth watching. There’s also a nice edge of self-awareness to an indulgent actor-director making a film about an indulgent actor-director. I just hope James Franco sees that. The Disaster Artist does not yet have a UK release date, but expect it to be around awards season.
Del Toro returns with Shape of Water trailer
A new movie from Guillermo del Toro is always a cause for celebration. Cinema’s most talented monster maestro returned this week with a trailer for The Shape of Water, which sounds like vintage GDT on paper. It follows Sally Hawkins as a mute janitor working in a government laboratory, where she happens upon a strange amphibious creature in a tank. Michael Shannon also stars in what seems to be something of an antagonistic role. It looks set to be another example of the completely unique humanist horror that Del Toro has made into his trademark.
The problem here is that this trailer seems to contain the entire plot of the movie from start to finish, including one shot that hints strongly at the fate of a major character. Other than that, it’s a very strong trailer that hints at an atmospheric and interesting piece of work, aided by a great central performance from Hawkins. After the camp of Crimson Peak, it’s interesting to see GDT go back to something quieter. The Shape of Water does not yet have a UK release date.
Patel and Stiller on for Chippendales drama
Dev Patel and Ben Stiller have both signed up to take on major roles in an interesting-sounding drama about the rise and fall of male stripper troupe Chippendales, according to Deadline. Patel will play Steve Banerjee, who turned an LA dive bar into an emporium of flesh-based entertainment, with the help of choreographer Nicholas De Noia, who will be portrayed by Stiller. The film, which has a Boogie Nights vibe, is set to follow the rise of this enterprise and how a brutal contract killing threatened to tear it all apart.
This sounds like it could be a very interesting film and it seems as if it might be something of a change pace, particularly for Stiller. It could easily feel like a bargain basement Magic Mike, but the real-life story is interesting enough to make this a project worth monitoring. Positioned right and with the right team behind it, it could even rise to the awards level. Patel has certainly been there before.
Horror villains return for Jigsaw and Leatherface
Two icons of horror cinema, from two different generations, are set to collide at Halloween. Jigsaw, which revives the Saw franchise seven years after The Final Chapter, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel Leatherface are both due to arrive this year and both launched trailers this week. Jigsaw teased a strange, quasi-comedic tone in its preview, lampshading some of the franchise’s tropes while also embracing its ludicrous traps as detectives investigate a new run of murders that bear the hallmarks of the long-deceased John Kramer. Leatherface, meanwhile, released a much more standard trailer, but one that teased a blood-soaked origin story.
Neither of these films needed to be made and both certainly have the feel of a cash-in about them, particularly given how far horror has moved on in recent years. However, both of these trailers look like enjoyable slices of horror silliness with plenty of grim scares in there. I’m certainly intrigued to see how they turn out. Jigsaw will be released in the UK in October. Leatherface does not yet have a British release locked in, but its American release is set for October.
What are your favourite George Romero moments, as we say goodbye to the cinematic legend? And which of this week’s trailers made you most excited? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.