News Round-up – Mr Sulu comes out, Radcliffe in Imperium trailer, Pixar plans and more

The world of movie news has been quiet this week, with publicity set to kick into an upper gear on a number of the big July film releases in the next few weeks. However, there have been a few major developments even whilst the blockbuster world has largely kept its mouth shut.

Controversy has been stirred in the world of Trekkies with a surprise announcement about a beloved character, Daniel Radcliffe has left Potter behind with a tough new rule and Alicia Vikander‘s take on a video game icon now has a release date pencilled in.

Here’s your round-up of the week’s biggest movie news.


Mr Sulu is gay in Star Trek Beyond

John Cho as Sulu in the new Star Trek trilogy
John Cho as Sulu in the new Star Trek trilogy

There was a bombshell for Star Trek fans this week, with the announcement by actor John Cho that the character of Mr Sulu will be revealed as a gay man in new film Star Trek Beyond. Cho told Herald Sun the news on a visit to Sydney on the film’s promotional tour. The actor said that he liked the film’s idea “not to make a big thing out it”, reflecting the way the world is changing.

On paper, this seems like a great step forward for diversity and a nice, subtle way of including a gay character in an existing movie universe. However, that was not the case for original Sulu actor George Takei, who is himself a married gay man. He told The Hollywood Reporter that the decision to reveal Sulu’s homosexuality was a “twisting of [Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry]’s creation” and “really unfortunate”.

It remains to be seen how this new theme will be dealt with in the finished film, but we’ll find out when Star Trek Beyond hits UK cinemas on July 22.


Radcliffe goes undercover in Imperium trailer

Daniel Radcliffe in the trailer for thriller Imperium
Daniel Radcliffe in the trailer for thriller Imperium

It’s Daniel Radcliffe, but not as you know him. The Brit has gone from boy wizard to farting corpse, but he has now taken a detour into edgier territory – as an FBI agent undercover in a neo-Nazi terrorist group. The film is Imperium, helmed by debut writer-director Daniel Ragussis. The first Imperium trailer landed online this week, with Radcliffe and co-star Toni Collette centre stage.

Questions have always been raised about Radcliffe’s versatility and acting ability. He has excelled in more offbeat fare like Horns and romcom What If, but this seems like a far more intense, meaty role that he may not have the range to carry off. This could be the film that marks Radcliffe’s arrival as a serious acting force, but it could also expose his shortcomings as a performer. On the basis of this trailer, though, there’s plenty to recommend Imperium when it hits these shores in September.


Vikander’s Tomb Raider set for 2018 release

Alicia Vikander in Aussie action film Son of a Gun
Alicia Vikander in Aussie action film Son of a Gun

Back in May, Oscar-winning actress Alicia Vikander was cast as the new Lara Croft in a reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise. This week, there was another tidbit for those interested in the action project, with The Wrap announcing that the film will land in March 2018. Brilliantly named Norwegian filmmaker Roar Uthaug, who sounds like he should be decapitating people on Game of Thrones, is set to direct the movie for MGM and Warner Brothers.

Vikander is taking over cinema, one movie at a time, and this could be yet another major tentpole for her to add to her impressive back catalogue. Very few people have actually been clamouring for a new take on Lara Croft, but if anyone can carry it off, it’s cinema’s brightest rising star.


Pixar turns its back on sequels… for now

Pixar had huge success with Inside Out in 2015
Pixar had huge success with Inside Out in 2015

It has been easy to criticise Pixar for becoming increasingly reliant. Originals as interesting as Inside Out showcase the depth of creativity at the studio, but there’s no doubt that big money sequels like Toy Story 3 and Finding Dory are a big part of their success. That might be about to change though. Pixar president Jim Morris told Entertainment Weekly that the majority of the upcoming slate comprises original films.

Pixar’s director model means that sequels are only ever produced by the original filmmakers and, given the lengthy process of making an animated movie, this can often leave enormous gaps between sequels. This is perhaps bad news for those expecting a follow-up to Wall-E or Ratatouille, but a blessing for those who, like me, believe that Pixar’s unique roster of creative talents should be turning their hands to new, original projects. That’s where they’re at their best.


Emma Watson’s new film struggles in UK

Mikael Nyqvist and Emma Watson in dark thriller The Colony
Mikael Nyqvist and Emma Watson in dark thriller The Colony

Doomy headlines have surrounded Emma Watson‘s new movie The Colony after the Chile-set drama only managed to pick up £47 at the box office during its opening weekend. The Telegraph reported that the film was released in five cinemas under the Reel banner and was simultaneously released on video-on-demand services by distributors Signature. As well as its poor box office performance, the film has received a decidedly mixed reception from critics.

This story represents a bit of a distortion of the modern model for indie distribution. The Colony‘s success has nothing to do with how much money it makes in cinemas. It’s a film that exists for VOD and only made a brief foray into multiplexes to lend it a little more credibility than the average straight-to-streaming project. The movie will likely do okay on demand and its brush with the media over its commercial “failure” will probably end up putting even more eyes on it.


Soderbergh set for Panama Papers drama

Steven Soderbergh speaks at a Q&A for Haywire in 2012
Steven Soderbergh speaks at a Q&A for Haywire in 2012 (Photo: Tamara Dunn)

Steven Soderbergh? Isn’t he retired? It seems like the diverse filmmaker behind movies such as Magic Mike and Ocean’s Eleven is about to return to make a film about the most topical of scandals. Deadline reported this week that Soderbergh is involved as producer on an upcoming movie about the Panama Papers leak “with an eye to direct”.

The script for the movie will be written by Scott Z Burns, who previously worked with Soderbergh on Side Effects and Contagion, based on the upcoming book Secrecy World by Pulitzer-winning reporter Jake Bernstein.

This is certainly rich subject matter for a movie and Soderbergh has certainly shown in his previous work that he is capable of finding an innovative way to convey complex material on the big screen. If there’s anyone who can make sense of the Panama Papers scandal in a movie, it’s the man who made the definitive take on the war on drugs with Traffic.


Mara and Helms join political conspiracy tale

Kate Mara discusses Fantastic Four at Comic-Con
Kate Mara discusses Fantastic Four at Comic-Con (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Kate Mara will be hoping to rid herself of the stink of Fantastic Four when she takes on a pivotal role in Chappaquiddick – a movie based on the major political scandal involving Senator Ted Kennedy in 1969. According to Deadline, Mara will play Kennedy’s assistant Mary Jo Kopechne, who died when Kennedy drove his car off a bridge accidentally before swimming free and not reporting the accident for several hours. Ed Helms has also joined the cast as Kennedy’s cousin, who ultimately pressed him to call the police. Jason Clarke will portray Kennedy himself.

This project, based on a script that appeared on the 2015 Black List, could well bring light to a story that isn’t massively well known outside of America. The ‘Chappaquiddick incident’, named for the Massachusetts island on which it occurred, is widely believed to be the reason that Kennedy was never able to follow his brother to the office of President. Mara is an intriguing actress and Helms, in a rare non-comedic role, could prove an interesting addition to the cast.


Is the Sulu sexuality announcement a good step for diversity? Can Daniel Radcliffe cut it as an undercover cop? Do you want Pixar to keep the sequels coming? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.

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