Todd Phillips and Martin Scorsese are teaming up for a Joker movie!

Batman perhaps has the most prolific rogue’s gallery in all of comic mythology ranging from the earthy and seductive Poison Ivy, the squatty yet manipulative Penguin, the icy and ruthless Mr. Freeze, to the brilliant and powerful Bane, but there has always been one villain who practically grins to go mano-e-mano with the Dark Knight, every chance he can get!

476efd36679f5b3b5125ffd0a0918061-joker-art-joker-batman

Image by DC Comics

Gotham City’s Clown Prince of Crime, simply known as The Joker, has long established himself as the arch-nemesis and complete antithesis to the Batman. Batman carries himself as the serious figure of order, watching over the streets and citizens of his hometown ready to protect them at a moment’s notice, while the Joker is madness personified with a perverted sense of humor, eager to crack a smile and/or a skull whenever he feels the need to do either. The Bat and the Clown have done battle dozens of times in both live-action and animated features and they have always been paired together. That is, until now!

The Joker is getting his own origin story, directed by Todd Phillips, known for films such as The Hangover and War Dogs and the legendary Martin Scorsese is attached to this project in an unspecified role. In a surprising reveal, this standalone Joker picture will not be a part of DC Extended Universe and Jared Leto, who starred as the Joker in Suicide Squad, will have no involvement in this project.

Sources say the story will take place in the ’80s and have more of the look of a gritty crime drama than comic book movie, which had a lot to do with getting Scorsese’s commitment to the project.

I find this a puzzling move for Warner Bros. and DC because I felt that the Joker was very underutilized in Suicide Squad and I was hopeful that Leto would have an opportunity to flex his acting muscles as the purple-clad clown in a future installment of the DCEU, perhaps in a Suicide Squad sequel or in Matt Reeves’ The Batman. Also, it is strange to keep this project isolated from the DCEU since characters in Batman’s canon such as Nightwing and Batgirl are getting their own features but to keep this Joker film separated from this franchise that is appearing to be getting its feet under them is a strange move.

Aside from Haynes and Scorsese, only Scott Silver, who is co-writing a script with Haynes, is attached to this project. No one is currently penciled in to portray the Clown Prince of Crime though, nor is a production schedule or release date confirmed.

Obi-Wan Kenobi Spinoff Finally Underway!

star-wars-obi-wan-kenobi-jedi-cloak-3

Image by Disney & Lucasfilm

After a period of speculating, ruminating and waiting for the stars to align, another of Star Wars’ most prominent characters is finally getting his time to shine on the big screen. Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi is finally getting his own installment in the Star Wars Anthology series; the spinoff series that has already produced Rogue One and is currently progressing with the Han Solo spinoff feature starring Alden Ehrenreich and directed by Ron Howard.

At present, the Obi-Wan Kenobi spinoff is in the early stages of development. There is no script yet there is a director involved in Oscar-nominee Stephen Daldry. Daldry’s credits include The Reader, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Billy Elliot and The Hours. The role of Obi-Wan Kenobi was held first by the late and great Alec Guinness in the original Star Wars trilogy. In the prequel trilogy, Ewan McGregor held the role and while there is no confirmation that he will reprise the role, he has expressed interest in returning to the Star Wars universe as the great Jedi master who trained Anakin Skywalker and afterwards watched over and introduced the ways of the Jedi to Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy.

Since there is no script yet and no actors involved at present, it is impossible to determine when the movie is scheduled for release but for a Star Wars fan like myself, I for one would like to know more about this character and when this takes place in the Star Wars timeline.

Daniel Craig is not done as 007 after all!

Eon Productions, the producers behind cinema’s most prominent assassin, have dropped news related to the next installment of the long running James Bond franchise. It was reported that the next James Bond feature, currently titled Bond 25, will bow into theaters on November 8, 2019. Upon the reveal of the release date of the new James Bond flick, news has been put to rest regarding who will be carrying the license to kill: Daniel Craig is reportedly coming back!

daniel_craig_-_film_premiere_22spectre22_007_-_on_the_red_carpet_in_berlin_282238740972029

Image by GlynLowe.com from Hamburg, Germany

Craig has been portraying 007 since 2006, when he made his debut in the highly successful Casino Royale. His stint as Bond includes three more features including Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre, which arrived in theaters in late 2015. After Spectre began its theatrical run, Craig has publicly expressed his exhaustion and frustration with the role, speculating as to whether he will relinquish the role to another actor and walk away. With Bond 25’s release date secured, sources have seemingly confirmed that Daniel Craig will return as the vodka martini-drinking, Aston Martin driving, British spy armed with a Walther, a few gadgets from Q’s laboratory and a gorgeous woman for company.

Mr. Craig’s return is a done deal, according to two people briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid conflicts with Eon and MGM.

At present, the studio is narrowing down on finalists to direct the 2019 spy thriller, and there is no mention on whether anyone else is slated to star in the picture. Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who have written the previous six Bond movies, are teaming up once more to write the script for the new 007 adventure. Bond is coming back. Craig is coming back. 2019 is not that far off so, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens from here on out!

Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

I went into Spider-Man: Homecoming similar to how I approached Guardians of the Galaxy years ago. With this character getting a third cinematic reboot, with another actor portraying him, I felt that this was getting exhausting; Spidey needed a break from movies and I felt that audiences needed a break from Spider-Man movies but when Kevin Feige seized a chance to integrate the character into the highly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe-the Avengers Initiative-I thought “what the hell?”

And so, Tom Holland made his web-slinging debut in Captain America: Civil War and did a great job I might add, which led him to Homecoming, a film by Jon Watts chronicling Peter Parker’s efforts to prove himself to his mentor/benefactor Tony Stark that he is hero enough to stand with Earth Mightiest. This teenager, takes it upon himself to thwart a string of robberies orchestrated by a disgruntled and disillusioned superhero-mess cleaner named Adrian Toomes, armed with advanced weaponry derived from the Battle of New York from so many years ago.

spider_man_poster

Image by Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures

For the weeks leading up to this, I tempered my expectations for this movie because every live-action Spider-Man movie from the woefully executed Spider-Man 3 to the underwhelming failure that was The Amazing Spider-Man franchise highlighted that the wall-crawler has indeed hit a wall when it comes to movies. Coming out of the theater, I acknowledged that I truly underestimated this movie and the players involved in shaping it; Tom Holland, Jon Watts and the screenwriting team including Watts, Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers won me over; this movie made Spider-Man great again!

The approach to actually have a teenager portray a teenage superhero paid off; the influence of classic 1980s cinema like Ferris Bueler’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club was felt; the fact that this film knew its place within the grand scheme of the Avengers Initiative was very playful and overall, the writing and execution of Spider-Man: Homecoming was authentic, fresh, relatable and fun!

Tom Holland made a believer of me when he swung into Captain America: Civil War in the red and blue suit and when the spotlight shined on him, he didn’t shrink away; he embraced this role and delivered as Peter Parker. The supporting cast of Michael Keaton, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revolori, Marissa Tomei, Abraham Attah, Laura Harrier, Donald Glover, Hannibal Burress, Michael Churness, Logan Marshall-Green, Bokeem Woodbine and familiar faces such as Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau, Chris Evans and Gwyneth Paltrow all got in on the fun in this movie.

Michael Giacchino’s score was thrilling, Salvatore Totino’s cinematography was crisp and savvy, Debbie Berman and Dan Lebental’s editing was very good, Oliver Scholl’s production design was rock-solid, Louise Frogley’s costume design was excellent, the visual effects were amazing and convincing, the story and script was sharp and smart and overall, I loved how this movie was shaped and constructed.

Spider-Man: Homecoming was funny, thrilling, creative, relevant and relatable to audiences and I thought that this movie really did justice by its title character in a way the previous films could not. Spidey set out to prove himself that he could hang with the Avengers and establish himself as a true hero and in this movie, credited to writer/director Jon Watts and star Tom Holland, he accomplished just that. Very well done and very well recommended!

Ron Howard takes command of Han Solo movie!

An interesting development has occurred over the last few days related to the Star Wars anthology film focused on Han Solo. Originally, the film was well underway on the road to production with directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord, writers Jon and Lawrence Kasdan and stars such as Alden Ehrenreich as the title character with a supporting cast including Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Joonas Suotamo, Michael Kenneth Williams and Phoebe Waller-Bridge but dissention between Miller and Lord and the production team has forced the directors to abandon the project leaving the film in a state of standstill.

It didn’t take long for Kathleen Kennedy and her team of producers to find a suitable replacement to pilot the film. Today, it has been confirmed that Academy Award winning director Ron Howard will assume command of the Han Solo origin story.

Ron Howard has certainly enjoyed a great deal of success throughout his career. His body of work as a filmmaker includes prestigious films such as Backdraft, Cocoon, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, Frost/Nixon, Rush; he certainly has the clout and the creative spirit to shape the origin story of the character who would become an important figure in the Star Wars universe. Personally, I think Kathleen Kennedy and the Star Wars production team missed out on an opportunity to hand the film to a director of color or a woman but I’m willing to give Ron Howard a chance with this project.

The Han Solo movie will arrive in theaters by May 25, 2018.

Tom Hardy is a web-slinging anti-hero!

A few weeks ago, Sony Pictures announced that the Marvel character and Spider-Man antagonist Venom would be featured in a standalone spinoff set to arrive in theaters sometime next year. The fan-favorite character has already made his big-screen debut in the disappointing blockbuster Spider-Man 3, portrayed by Topher Grace, but this project is seen as an opportunity for Sony to get the character right and potentially usher in a new anti-hero universe based on Spider-Man’s rogues gallery.

News has broken that names have now been confirmed to sign on for the spinoff. Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer will direct and Oscar nominee Tom Hardy is set to star in film.

Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner, the latter of whom worked on 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, wrote the script for Venom. Plot details are being kept in the black but Hardy, who is said to be a Venom fan, will play Eddie Brock, the character who first became Venom.

Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach are producing along with Amy Pascal.

The internet is calling this casting a coup and I can’t help but agree. Hardy is an excellent actor who is a year removed from his first Oscar nomination in The Revenant and has starred in action and drama movies a plenty including Inception, Warrior, has a superhero movie under his belt already portraying the sinister Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, rode through the wasteland in Mad Max: Fury Road and will star in the upcoming Dunkirk; I can’t help but be impressed by Hardy’s body of work thus far and I look forward to seeing him give life to this tragic and deadly character. Venom is set to snare an audience on October 5, 2018.

Jimmy Kimmel will host the Oscars. Again.

jimmykimmelhwofsept2012

Image by Angela George, via Wikimedia Commons

A few months ago, a moment which I like to believe was the greatest upset of all time occurred under the watch of Jimmy Kimmel. Kimmel, obviously, was not at fault for the controversial mix-up at the Oscars but the consequences for the Best Picture mix-up have led to shakeups. Fortunately, Kimmel will avoid said shakeups. That’s right, Kimmel is back for a second tour of duty as Oscars host!

Jimmy Kimmel will be back as host of the Oscars when the 90th edition of the annual Academy Awards ceremony is held March 4.

The Academy and ABC announced Tuesday that the late night host will reunite with producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd for the 2018 show.

I welcome this news since I found Kimmel an entertaining and refreshing Master of Ceremonies during the 89th Oscars. He fueled his “feud” with Oscar nominee Matt Damon, he arranged for cookies and doughnuts to parachute from the ceiling upon the audience, he had a Lion King moment with Lion star Sunny Pawar, he made sure the President was watching, he arranged for tourists to stop by and have photo moments with the nominees; he certainly kept the show interesting and I look forward to his encore on March 4, 2019.