News Round-up – Rian Johnson to helm new Star Wars trilogy, trailer for Spielberg drama The Post and more

We’ve become almost accustomed by now to the news of Disney sacking people from Star Wars movies, or wrestling control away from creators for eleventh hour reshoots. With that in mind, it was gratifying to see some good news this week for one of the directors who is in the franchise’s roster – although I expect Rian Johnson‘s new role is dependent on the success of The Last Jedi.

Elsewhere, the awards season cogs continued to turn with a trailer for The Post, in which Steven Spielberg puts together an Oscars dream team, and Universal took the next step in quietly winding down its floundering Dark Universe. Sadly, the week’s other big news concerned the terrible allegations against Kevin Spacey, which have led to some extreme measures in connection to a movie Spacey had already made by the time the first alleged victims came forward.

Here’s your movie news round-up…


Rian Johnson on for new Star Wars trilogy

Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson at D23 in 2017
Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson at D23 in 2017 (Photo: Disney/Image Group LA)

Disney must have serious confidence in Rian Johnson. Before The Last Jedi has even hit cinemas, Lucasfilm has announced that Johnson will have creative control of a new Star Wars trilogy and he will write and direct the first entry. The films will reportedly introduce new characters and explore “a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored”. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, who has acquired a reputation for ruthlessly firing directors, called Johnson a “creative force” in the company’s statement.

This is a very encouraging move for Johnson and the quality of The Last Jedi. Lucasfilm has shown it has no problem getting rid of filmmakers, even at the last possible moment, so they must have great confidence in what Johnson has made. It will be refreshing to see a selection of movies in the Star Wars universe that are not welded to the Skywalker saga, finally allowing the company to explore the enormous world it has created over the years. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is due out in December.


Streep and Hanks shine in trailer for The Post

Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in journalism drama The Post
Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in journalism drama The Post

After the release of the trailer for Phantom Thread a few weeks ago, Steven Spielberg’s journalism drama The Post was the last of the awards season big hitters we still hadn’t seen anything from. That changed this week when a first trailer for the film arrived online, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks as the publisher and editor respectively of the Washington Post during the publication of the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s. They revealed a great deal of wrongdoing on the part of the American government throughout the Vietnam War.

This is a trailer that, like many for this kind of movie, struggles to make the process of journalism look exciting. It also suffers from arriving just a year or two after Spotlight roared its way to glory at the Oscars. However, there’s no arguing with the powerhouse pairing of Streep and Hanks, given added heft by Spielberg behind the camera. The Post will be released into UK cinemas in January 2018.


Plummer to replace Spacey in completed film

Kevin Spacey will be replaced by Christopher Plummer in All the Money in the World
Kevin Spacey will be replaced by Christopher Plummer in All the Money in the World
(Photos: Alexander Kluge and Courtney)

The fallout from the allegations of sexual misconduct against Kevin Spacey has led to him being axed from Netflix series House of Cards and unseated from the lead role in its biopic Gore. This week, the repercussions continued with the news, via Deadline, that Ridley Scott is set to reshoot parts of his crime drama All the Money in the World, which is due for US release in just five weeks. Scott will replace Spacey, who was due to play oil tycoon J Paul Getty, with Oscar winner Christopher Plummer, who was reportedly the initial first choice for the part.

This is a big commitment from Scott to erasing Spacey from the film, which was being earmarked by some as a potential awards contender. Spacey only did between eight and ten days on the movie and it’s unclear whether the scenes will be entirely reshot or whether there will be some visual effects work to make the switch happen. It’s a huge undertaking, but one that makes sense given the abhorrent allegations against Spacey. All the Money in the World is due in UK cinemas in January 2018.


Goodbye to the Dark Universe already?

Universal has unveiled the star-studded cast of its Dark Universe
Universal has unveiled the star-studded cast of its Dark Universe

Universal may have jumped the gun in announcing a wide-ranging franchise related to its monster properties. After the star power of Tom Cruise failed to propel The Mummy to box office or critical success, questions were immediately asked about the future of the Dark Universe. Those questions were further asked when the decision was made to delay the planned Bride of Frankenstein movie. The Hollywood Reporter revealed this week that super-producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan – initially hired to be the Kevin Feige figures of the franchise – have stepped away from the universe. This suggests things may be dead in the water.

It’s a shame to see the Dark Universe falling apart at the seams. I thought The Mummy was actually a very entertaining horror-inflected adventure and I was intrigued to see how Universal could bring all of their monsters together to form a Marvel-esque, interconnected franchise. Now that ship has seemingly sailed, I would at least like to see them continue with their remakes in isolation. While I could definitely do without Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man, I really want to see what Javier Bardem can do as Frankenstein’s monster.


Fifty Shades finale leads to obvious puns

Dakota Johnson in saga-closing sequel Fifty Shades Freed
Dakota Johnson in saga-closing sequel Fifty Shades Freed

I don’t think that Fifty Shades Freed, which marks the conclusion of the Fifty Shades trilogy, will be making many lists of the most anticipated movies of 2018. There is, however, nothing we can do about the film’s existence and, this week, we got a full trailer for the film. Dakota Johnson‘s Anastasia and Jamie Dornan‘s Christian Grey are married, but there seems to be some sort of conflict as a result of Anastasia’a disgruntled former boss, who was glimpsed briefly at the end of this year’s Fifty Shades Darker.

This trailer is most noticeable for its cheeky tagline – “don’t miss the climax”. Other than that, there’s very little to recommend it. In fact, this seems to be about 20 minutes of plot expanded into a two-hour movie. With that said, the first few Fifty Shades films have been enjoyable in their own way and there’s no reason to believe this one won’t possess more than enough silliness to make it at least a passable evening at the cinema. Fifty Shades Freed will be released in February 2018.


MacKay and Crowe to lead outlaw thriller

George MacKay and Russell Crowe will star in a film about Ned Kelly and his gang
George MacKay and Russell Crowe will star in a film about Ned Kelly and his gang
(Photos: Gordon Correll and Eva Rinaldi)

His latest film might have been a bust but, aside from Assassin’s Creed, Justin Kurzel has been a reliably interesting and entertaining filmmaker. This week, Variety announced that Kurzel’s next movie will tell the story of outlaw Ned Kelly, starring George MacKay as the gang leader, with Russell Crowe and Nicholas Hoult also part of the cast. True History of the Kelly Gang will focus on the notorious bushranger, who died in 1880 during a shootout with Aussie police.

This is a compelling cast for Kurzel and it will be good to see him going back to the Australian roots that yielded Snowtown, which remains his best movie by some distance. The cast he has assembled is very impressive, with Essie Davis – star of The Babadook – also set to play a major role in the movie. True History of the Kelly Gang is due to start filming on Aussie soil in March 2018, with no release date currently set.


Michael B Jordan to direct novel adaptation

Michael B Jordan promotes Black Panther at Comic-Con in 2017
Michael B Jordan promotes Black Panther at Comic-Con in 2017 (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Michael B Jordan‘s star is in the ascendancy. He wowed audiences and critics with the title role in Creed and is set to become a major cog in the Marvel machine with a villainous turn in Black Panther. His rise to the top is set to continue behind the camera, with Deadline reporting that Jordan has signed up to make his directorial debut with an adaptation of the David Barclay Moore novel The Stars Beneath Our Feet. The story follows a Lego-obsessed African-American kid growing up in Harlem, New York.

It makes sense for Jordan to add the directorial string to his bow and the story sounds like an interesting one, with plenty of potential for thematic exploration. If Jordan proves to be half as good behind the camera as he is in front of it, he will instantly become a real filmmaker to watch in Hollywood.


Is Rian Johnson the right person to helm three new Star Wars movies? Does The Post stand a chance at Oscars glory? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.

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