News Round-up – Ant-Man and the Wasp trailer, MacLaren to direct Cowboy Ninja Viking and more

The Sundance Film Festival has brought some interesting films to the forefront, but it’s barnstorming horror movie Hereditary that has emerged from Utah with the most buzz behind it. It was scooped for biggest trailer of the week, though, when Marvel debuted a first full look at Evangeline Lilly and Paul Rudd in Ant-Man and the Wasp, which is set to pick up the pieces after the inevitable carnage of Avengers: Infinity War.

Elsewhere, there were some big director announcements, including a fantastic opportunity for TV director Michelle MacLaren to finally make her jump to the big screen.

Here’s your movie news round-up…


Ant-Man and the Wasp trailer buzzes in

Evangeline Lilly in Marvel superhero movie Ant-Man and the Wasp
Evangeline Lilly in Marvel superhero movie Ant-Man and the Wasp

As the palate cleanser after Infinity War, it’s likely that Ant-Man and the Wasp may get a little lost in the shuffle when its release comes around. However, as the sequel to a surprisingly fun movie and, crucially, as a movie featuring the first female title superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date, it’s a very significant story. This week, we got a trailer for the film, showcasing a level of light-hearted humour and gentle banter between the two leads, but also a considerable amount of tension.

This looks set to be a decent film, but it wasn’t a trailer that set the world on fire. The movie has a tough job to do in order to make itself stand out in the crowd, given the deluge of high-stakes superhero movies on the way in the coming year. Hopefully, it will do things a little differently and wisely foreground its female star. Ant-Man and the Wasp will fly into UK cinemas in August 2018.


MacLaren directs Pratt in Cowboy Ninja Viking

Chris Pratt promotes Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at Comic-Con
Chris Pratt promotes Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at Comic-Con (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Given that it has a barmy name, a big studio behind it and Chris Pratt in the leading role, it’s fair to say that Cowboy Ninja Viking is going to be a rather huge movie. With that in mind, it was exciting this week to see Deadline report that Michelle MacLaren will be the one to direct the film. MacLaren is best known for her work on Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, but has been on the brink of breaking out as a movie director for a long time. She was originally set to direct Wonder Woman before “creative differences” caused her to step aside from the job.

It’s great to see MacLaren finally getting a big opportunity and this project sounds like a delightfully quirky outlet for all involved. The prospect of Pratt portraying such a bizarre comic book character is a really enticing one, particularly with someone so interesting in the director’s chair. Cowboy Ninja Viking is pencilled in for a June 2019 release.


Blunt joins Johnson in Jungle Cruise cast

Emily Blunt at San Diego Comic-Con in 2013
Emily Blunt at San Diego Comic-Con in 2013 (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Once upon a time, the idea of a movie based on a Walt Disney World ride would have seemed ridiculous. However, with the Pirates of the Caribbean films bringing in billions of dollars over the years, they are now bona fide money makers. The latest theme park adaptation in the works is Jungle Cruise, which has Dwayne Johnson on board to star and Jaume Collet-Serra, Liam Neeson‘s regular action movie collaborator, set to direct. Variety announced this week that Emily Blunt is going to join the movie. It will see Blunt working with Disney again after playing Mary Poppins for the studio.

This sounds like a hell of a dream team. Johnson and Collet-Serra alone were enough to make the movie exciting, but the addition of Blunt gives it an extra frisson of fun. All of these people are capable of producing properly fun, silly blockbuster movies, so there’s every indication that this one will be just as enjoyable. Jungle Cruise will be going in front of cameras in May, if all goes to plan.


Compton director set for Men in Black movie

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in sci-fi comedy Men in Black
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in sci-fi comedy Men in Black

There have been numerous attempts to relaunch and reinvigorate the Men in Black franchise over the course of the last few years, including a bizarre potential crossover with the Jump Street series. The latest one seems like it actually stands a chance of going somewhere, with Deadline reporting that F. Gary Gray, director of Straight Outta Compton and The Fate of the Furious, is in the frame to reboot the franchise. The movie is expected to feature a completely new cast and will go back to the core premise of a covert force policing aliens, which are hiding on Earth in plain sight.

I have never been a big fan of the Men in Black movies and it’s a phenomenon that has completely passed me by. However, I have enjoyed Gray’s last few movies and he has shown that he can direct both action and character very well indeed. If Gray decides to approach the franchise’s concept from a different angle to the knockabout comedies we have seen before, this could fire the starting pistol on a revitalised big series for Sony, which is struggling for blockbuster clout.


Hereditary among big week for horror trailers

Unsane, Hereditary and The First Purge are due out in 2018
Unsane, Hereditary and The First Purge are due out in 2018

There were horror trailers all over the shop this week, with the most notable being the trailer for Hereditary, which exploded out of Sundance with enormous buzz as one of the scariest movies made in years. Distributor A24 picked up the rights and announced a US release date for June, but there’s no word on a UK release yet. We also got a first look at Steven Soderbergh‘s super secret project, Unsane, in which Claire Foy finds herself confined to a mental institution. The entire thing was shot on iPhones, which gives it a compelling, DIY feel. Unsane is due in cinemas next month.

Finally, and in less welcome news, we got the first teaser trailer for a new Purge movie this week. It seems that any pretence of subtlety has been tossed out of the window because, complete with a poster featuring an obvious take on a Donald Trump baseball cap, this is being framed as a take on modern American politics. It’s also called The First Purge, which seems to suggest that the grisly tradition will have been started by an obvious analogue for the Wotsit-haired president. The First Purge will be out in July.


Sam Raimi to direct Kingkiller Chronicle film

Sam Raimi at Comic-Con in  2014
Sam Raimi at Comic-Con in 2014 (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Sam Raimi is not unaccustomed to going for long periods of time without working on a film. However, he’s set to get back behind the camera very shortly to direct the adaptation of The Kingkiller Chronicle, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He’s not the only big name attached to the adaptation, which already has Hamilton supremo Lin-Manuel Miranda on board as a creative producer. The books tell the story of Kvothe, who is a famous musician with magical powers.

I’m not familiar with the Kingkiller books, but the concept sounds very unusual. The two names already announced to be involved don’t exactly sound like a match made in heaven, but it will be interesting to see Miranda working on something a bit darker than Moana. There’s also a connected TV series for this one in the pipeline, so big plans are afoot.


Three Billboards tops London Critics Awards

Frances McDormand is hoovering up awards for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Frances McDormand is hoovering up awards for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Acidic drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri continued its exciting streak of awards season success this week, leaving with three prizes after the London Critics Circle Awards. The movie won Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Actress for Frances McDormand. The other big winner in the acting world was Timothée Chalamet, who put himself back into Oscar contention for Call Me By Your Name, while Best Director was somewhat surprisingly handed to The Florida Project director Sean Baker.

It is beginning to seem like Three Billboards is the firm favourite for the Best Picture Oscar, despite losing out in terms of nominations to The Shape of Water. These awards were mostly predictable, but there were a few pleasant surprises, including the nod for Baker, whose film has completely dropped out of awards contention after a strong start.


Did you enjoy the new trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp? Are you excited to see what Michelle MacLaren can do with Cowboy Ninja Viking? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.

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