News Round-up – Fifty Shades trailer, Harley Quinn movie, Rogue One and more

In amongst all of the craziness of the demise of The Great British Bake Off, the world of cinema got a little bit lost in the shuffle this week. There was, however, plenty going on including the first full trailer for Contractual Obligations: The Movie – or Fifty Shades Darker, as I believe Universal would prefer it to be called.

Elsewhere, Margot Robbie got a pleasingly Old Hollywood bit of news, Adam Driver dropped a tease for the tone of Star Wars: Episode VIII and Dwayne Johnson voiced a demigod. Because of course he did.

Here’s this week’s film news round-up…


Fifty Shades of trailers

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson in the trailer for Fifty Shades Darker
Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson in the trailer for Fifty Shades Darker

It would’ve been easy for Fifty Shades of Grey to be a bad movie given its utterly awful source material. However, it was a surprisingly entertaining film adaptation, let down only by its need to adhere to the pitiful dialogue and plot of the book. This week, a first trailer for sequel Fifty Shades Darker appeared online and it looks very po-faced and serious indeed. No one looks like they want to be there, the melodramatic plot seems to be played straight and there’s yet another Beyonce cover.

Hopefully, Fifty Shades Darker has a little bit more fun than it seems to in its trailer. The first film had plenty of fun in amongst the awkward drama so this one will find time for that as well. The loss of director Sam Taylor-Johnson, who brought real class to the project, is certainly going to be a problem, but hopefully new helmsman James Foley can find a tone that suits the ridiculousness of El James’ writing. Fifty Shades Darker will arrive in cinemas in time for Valentine’s Day next year.


Margot Robbie secures Harley Quinn solo movie

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad

Margot Robbie was one of the best parts of Suicide Squad as Harley Quinn and she also managed to walk out largely unscathed from the otherwise awful Legend of Tarzan. She has been rewarded for her successful summer by signing a first look deal with Warner Bros. According to The Hollywood Reporter, this includes a solo outing for Harley. Robbie has already built up a reputation and partnership with the team at Warner Bros and this continues her ongoing battle with Alicia Vikander to become Queen of Hollywood.

This feels like the sort of thing that would have happened in the classic era of Hollywood, when studios signed actors rather than specific movies. Given that Robbie is one of the closest things we have to a proper old school movie star, it’s appropriate that she has been signed to such a deal. The prospect of a Harley Quinn solo movie is an exciting one and it seems that this might be the best way to ensure that Harley gets more character than some quirky one-liners and lots of shots of her arse.


Del Toro set for Predator reboot

Benicio Del Toro speaking at Comic-Con in 2013
Benicio Del Toro speaking at Comic-Con in 2013 (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Shane Black‘s reboot of Predator is continuing to move forward. They have now secured a big name star, with Sicario actor Benicio Del Toro attached to appear, according to a report in Deadline. Other than that, there isn’t really very much news to add about the project, which is still very much in its infancy.

It’s certainly true, however, that Del Toro is a very strong bit of casting. He is a great villain and a great character actor in general, so he will certainly add a touch of gravitas to proceedings and some of his trademark sinister edge. In the meantime, he’s also attached to Soldado, which is the sequel to Sicario and one of the films I am most looking forward to seeing.


Moana rides the wave in new trailer

Auli'i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson in the trailer for Moana
Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson in the trailer for Moana

Disney has been on quite the roll of late, with the already iconic Frozen and this year’s fiercely intelligent Zootropolis. The studio’s latest movie, Moana, features a princess in the South Pacific who joins forces with a demigod – voiced, of course, by The Rock – to embark on some sort of quest. The latest Moana trailer was revealed online this week and there’s plenty of aquatic action on show.

This seems like mostly generic kids’ adventure fare, with some impressive animation and a refreshing focus on people of colour rather than the usual parade of lilywhite Disney leads. The presence of Dwayne Johnson, though, is always a positive and Disney is on enough of a hot streak that there’s no reason this won’t be another great film. Fingers crossed. Moana will arrive in UK cinemas in early December.


Driver compares Episode VIII to Empire

Adam Driver promoting Star Wars at Comic-Con in 2015
Adam Driver promoting Star Wars at Comic-Con in 2015 (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Director Rian Johnson recently wrapped filming on Star Wars: Episode VIII, which has a hard act to follow in the wake of the nostalgic joy of The Force Awakens. In an interview with Collider this week, Kylo Ren actor Adam Driver spoke about the film and had some very positive things to say about Johnson and the project. Driver said that the script is “similar to how Empire Strikes Back has a different tone”, which is high praise indeed. He also praised Johnson’s commitment to “nuance and ambiguity”, which hints that Episode VIII will be the perfect follow-up to the frothy fun of the reboot.

Elsewhere in the world of Star Wars, Alexandre Desplat has been replaced as the composer on upcoming spin-off Rogue One. He has been replaced by the equally well-known Michael Giacchino, who has sci-fi experience after working on the rebooted Star Trek franchise. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the recent reshoots motivated this switch of personnel. It would be easy to worry that this means there is trouble afoot with Rogue One, but all of the pieces seem to be in the right place, so I am still excited for the film’s December release.


Pacific Rim casts its female lead

Humanity goes to war with monsters in Pacific Rim
Humanity goes to war with monsters in Pacific Rim

A little while back, fans of Guillermo del Toro‘s action epic Pacific Rim got a treat when news started to surface of the sequel. John Boyega, beloved star of The Force Awakens, was attached to the project and he now has a female lead to play off. Variety reported this week that newcomer Cailee Spaeny has won the major role in the film. We know very little about Spaeny’s role or the film’s plot, but Boyega is playing the son of Stacker Pentecost, portrayed by Idris Elba in the first movie.

It’s tough to comment too much on this given how much of an unknown Spaeny is, but it’s encouraging to see that Pacific Rim 2 is moving forward given how enjoyable the first film was. I’m more than ready for another dose of robots fighting monsters, with a side order of the brains that are sorely missing from the Transformers movies.


Sausage Party director to remake Toxic Avenger

Troma's cult classic superhero movie The Toxic Avenger
Troma’s cult classic superhero movie The Toxic Avenger

It seems likely that animated comedy shockfest Sausage Party is well on its way to becoming a bona fide cult movie, whispered about on playgrounds all over the world. It’s somewhat appropriate in that case that the film’s director, Conrad Vernon, is now attached to direct a remake of The Toxic Avenger. The original film, released in 1984 by Troma Entertainment – kings of campy cinema. The film tells the story of a nerdy janitor who becomes a deformed superhero when he falls into a vat of toxic waste.

Vernon seems like the perfect choice for this project given the unadulterated anarchy of Sausage Party. It’s likely that his take on the material will be slightly more restrained than the low-budget madness of the Troma version, but it will retain that core premise. On the heels of Deadpool, there’s certainly a market for subversive, strange superhero movies and it might well be the case that The Toxic Avenger finds a niche.


What did you think of this week’s trailers? Are you excited to see Harley Quinn go solo? Is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in safe hands? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.

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