Having spent some time wowing us with the offbeat thrills of Deadpool and the harder edge of Logan, we got some news this week from the more conventional blockbuster corner of the X-Men franchise. The new film, Dark Phoenix, is indeed moving ahead and it’s amassing an impressive cast. Major faces from the past who were presumed to be leaving the comic book series behind have signed on to return and a big name looks set to join to play the villain.
Elsewhere, there were a selection of new trailers for some of the smaller movies on the release calendar for this year and the cast of a truly iconic comedy film reunited for an instantly memorable charity video.
Here’s your movie news round-up…
Jessica Chastain could be next X-Men villain
Fox has formalised the plans for its next X-Men film in the main chronology, according to Deadline, with Dark Phoenix set to follow on from the characters introduced in the dismal X-Men: Apocalypse last year. Long-time series writer and producer Simon Kinberg is set to make his directorial debut with the film and big stars Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy are also set to appear. Meanwhile, Jessica Chastain is in talks to play the main villain – Empress Lilandra.
Chastain is an interesting pick to play a comic book villain and the character, who is best known as the wife of Charles Xavier, certainly has the potential to provide a new wrinkle to the franchise. Fox has done a good job of building a wider X-Men universe outside of its major movies, so it will be interesting to see whether Dark Phoenix can reflect that level of success – particularly given how much they already pushed the Phoenix character in the Apocalypse finale. X-Men: Dark Phoenix has been pencilled in for a November 2018 release.
Stiller and Vaughn face off in Dodgeball reunion
Dodgeball is lauded as one of the best comedies of the noughties. It’s a genuinely brilliant film that not only features one of Ben Stiller‘s best performances, as egotistical fitness freak White Goodman, but also marks one of the few times Vince Vaughn has ever made for an even remotely palatable leading man. The cast reunited this week, 13 years after the original film, for a video to promote an upcoming charity event organised through fundraising platform Omaze in aid of The Ben Stiller Foundation, which provides education to disadvantaged children all over the world. The video sees Vaughn and Stiller square off and trade barbs, before welcoming a selection of their friends.
It’s a really fun video and a smart way to raise money by playing on the nostalgia for a genuinely beloved comedy movie. There are some great nods to some of the best gags from the first film, with Justin Long getting cracked in the head by a wrench and Christine Taylor throwing up in her mouth when Stiller tries to make a move on her. The only thing missing was a cameo from Steve the Pirate, although Alan Tudyk is likely busy voicing every character in the next five or six Disney movies.
Gibson arrives in Daddy’s Home 2 trailer
Drawing on the winning comic chemistry between Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, Daddy’s Home was a really enjoyable comedy movie a few years ago and so a sequel was immediately a sure thing. This week, we got our first look at a trailer for Daddy’s Home 2, in which Mel Gibson and John Lithgow pop us as the fathers of Wahlberg and Ferrell respectively. The two protagonists may have reconciled the differences between their personalities, but this film looks set to ask whether their parents can do the same.
Gibson is believable as a bad boy, particularly given some of the real-life baggage he brings along to the role. The first film was surprisingly charming and fun, which is something the sequel will face a much tougher task to mimic. Thankfully, it has a secret weapon in its back pocket in the shape of John Cena, who made a climactic cameo in the first movie and is kept out of this trailer. Based on his work in Trainwreck, he’s a reliably bizarre comic presence. Daddy’s Home 2 will be released in November 2017.
Gleeson is Pooh author Milne in new trailer
In a more glossy, traditional trailer this week, we got a good look at Goodbye Christopher Robin, which focuses on Domhnall Gleeson as AA Milne – creator of Winnie the Pooh – and Margot Robbie as his wife. The film will tell the story of Milne’s relationship with his son, Christopher Robin, who would of course provide the name for Pooh’s human companion, and the toys who would become the inspiration for the colourful characters of his stories. It looks set to be one of the movies that’s in the frame for awards season next year.
It’s a visually rich trailer, but not one that conveys much in the way of intrigue surrounding the plot. In fact, the trailer seems to be a collage of what critic Mark Kermode would call “Chubby Hmm” moments, in which real life events suggest elements that we, as the audience, know will become part of Milne’s work. It all comes across as very twee and the epitome of the cosy biopic. Goodbye Christopher Robin is due to be released in September 2017.
Crooked Man to lead latest Conjuring spin-off
More than perhaps any other cinematic genre, horror is always in search of the next cash cow. As of right now, it’s the Conjuring franchise. As well as its two main films, it has also yielded two films based on the creepy doll Annabelle and a spin-off for The Conjuring 2 villain The Nun. According to Variety, the next character to get their own movie will be the Crooked Man, played by Javier Botet in Conjuring 2. There’s no other news surrounding The Crooked Man and it’s not yet clear whether Botet, who is making a real living as a go-to monster performer, will reprise his role.
The character only appeared briefly in The Conjuring 2, but Botet made a real impression with his jerky movements that almost gave the image of stop-motion animation. In a film that was scary throughout, the scene in which Botet appeared was one of the most memorable. It remains to be seen whether the other Conjuring spin-offs will be able to vault the rather low bar set by Annabelle, but The Crooked Man has the potential to be genuinely terrifying.
Book of Life animated sequel is in the works
One of the most visually original animated films of recent years is set to get a sequel, according to Variety. Reel FX has confirmed that The Book of Life is getting a sequel from original director Jorge R Gutierrez. The film will pick up from the characters of the first story and Gutierrez has said he is looking to “get the band back together” in assembling his creative team for the new movie. There will almost certainly be more Day of the Dead-inspired visuals and it will be interesting to see if Guillermo del Toro remains on board as a producer.
The Book of Life was a flawed, but interesting, animated movie and one that suggested Reel could have the potential to challenge the seasoned creative teams over at Pixar and DreamWorks. A sequel exploring the characters outside of the traditional romantic narrative of the original film could be the recipe for a movie that has more to it than some eye-popping visuals and a nice line in Latin-inflected covers of pop songs.
Flatliners remake lands spooky first trailer
A remake/reboot/belated sequel for the 90s psychological horror film Flatliners has been rather quietly in development since 2015. The film, which stars Ellen Page and is actually a sequel to the first movie, is finally set to be released later this year. A trailer for Flatliners landed online this week, giving us a look at the story of five medical students who become obsessed with the afterlife. Looking to experience life after death, they carry out a series of experiences where they briefly stop their hearts in order to trigger a near-death experience and catch a glimpse of what lies beyond.
This is a fun trailer that suggests an entertaining movie with the ability to raise a selection of philosophical questions. Page is a good performer who has been short of major roles since Juno and Inception, so it will be interesting to see her with the chance to get her teeth into something interesting. Flatliners will be released into UK cinemas in September.
Will Jessica Chastain make for a good X-Men villain? Which of this week’s trailers made you the most excited? Did you enjoy seeing the Dodgeball cast back together? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.