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.


Marvel mainstay returns while DC is a man down (updated)

Tom Hardy had to forfeit his role as Rick Flagg in Suicide Squad

Even though I’ve been busy covering all of this awards hysteria, I have been keeping my ear to the ground regarding upcoming projects that I’ve had my eye on. I had to hold off on reporting some news regarding an upcoming DC cinematic venture that broke yesterday because I was venting about the Oscar nominations and preparing for the Critics Choice Award. So, now seems as good a time as any to report that Tom Hardy had to bow out of David Ayer’s Suicide Squad. Scheduling conflicts had to force the Inception and Dark Knight Rises star to bow out of the star-studded film about notable DC Criminals and supervillains who do dirty work for the U.S. government. Hardy was slated to play Rick Flagg, a U.S. Colonel who has a hand in assembling the Squad and tries to get them in line to do their duty, even though the Suicide Squad is loaded with criminal and psychotic egos constantly clashing. Reports are circulating that Jake Gyllenhaal could possibly reunite with Ayer, they worked together on the film End of Watch, and fill the roster spot but nothing has been confirmed as of yet. Suicide Squad is scheduled to arrive in theaters on August 6, 2016 starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Cara Delevigne, Jai Courtney, Viola Davis and Jesse Eisenberg.

Scarlett Johansson will be back as Black Widow

DC lost a talented actor in Tom Hardy for Suicide Squad, yet Marvel is reporting that familiar faces will be back for one of its upcoming installments. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow will return to the The Avengers Initiative in Captain America: Civil War. The Russo Brothers, who will return to direct the sequel to Winter Soldier, announced that the S.H.I.E.L.D., well former S.H.I.E.L.D., spy/master assassin will return to play a role in the major Phase Three installment, which will not only pit Avengers Captain America and Iron Man against each other due to this new Superhero Registration Act, but introduce Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, King of the African Nation of Wakanda, a.k.a Black Panther. The directors also announced that Sebastian Stan will return to portray Bucky Barnes, now known as the Winter Soldier. Captain America: Civil War should be considered a mini-Avengers at this point, considering so many heroes are at the center of the action. The film is scheduled for release on May 6, 2016 starring Chris Evans as Captain America, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Daniel Brühl, who was tapped to play the unknown villain a few months ago, and also Hayley Atwell and Dominic Cooper will return to reprise their roles as Peggy Carter and Howard Stark.

Update: Joel Kinnaman, has been cast to replace Hardy as Rick Flagg. Kinnaman starred in the recent remake of RoboCop last year.

Meet the Suicide Squad

Jared Leto, Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Tom Hardy, Cara Delevigne and Jai Courtney are Task Force X aka Suicide Squad

The crown jewel of the DC Cinematic Universe for the foreseeable future has to be Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice which will come to theaters by 2016, but right behind that movie which will unite five of DC’s most iconic heroes on screen is another notable team from the DC mythology. In August 2016, David Ayer will direct Suicide Squad. For those who don’t know much about this team, here’s the rundown according to the DC mythology:

The Suicide Squad are a team of extremely dangerous criminals tasked to perform black ops for the United States government in exchange for commuting their respective sentences. If any member(s) of the Squad don’t exactly play fair, they are immediately terminated via a surgically implanted explosive node at the base of their spines.

Anyway, the cast for the installment has been cast and finalized. There is speculation that Jesse Eisenberg will make an appearance as Lex Luthor, but for now, the cast includes the following.

Jared Leto – The Joker

Will Smith – Deadshot

Tom Hardy – Rick Flag

Margot Robbie – Harley Quinn

Jai Courtney – Boomerang

Cara Delevingne – Enchantress

This is impressive for a collection of reasons. For the first time since Heath Ledger’s iconic portrayal in The Dark Knight, a performance that earned him a posthumous Oscar win, the Joker will be featured in a superhero movie. What’s more is that the Joker will be played by recent Academy Award winner Jared Leto. Also, Will Smith has a reputation of being an actor who doesn’t come cheap and him as the leader of the Squad, Deadshot, is a virtual slam dunk. Tom Hardy will get a second chance to play a DC villain; the first time he was cast in a superhero movie was in The Dark Knight Rises, where he played the menacing Bane. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn was a foregone conclusion, Jai Courtney was attached to the film for some time now and Delevigne rounds out the remainder of the cast. Suicide Squad will arrive in theaters on August 5, 2016.

A look back at the 2013 summer blockbusters

Well moviegoers, it is August, which translates to: “it’s time to get ready to go back to school” a.k.a “summer’s over.” Astronomically, fall begins on September 22nd, but it is pretty easy to tell that summer is winding down and the the calendar days until school’s first term is getting closer and closer. Especially for me since I start graduate school in a few weeks. Anyway, let’s take a look back at a memorable season of summer flicks featuring monsters, heroes, aliens, zombies and the far and few between. If I was asked to describe this year’s crop of summer motion-pictures compared to year’s past, I would say I expected better from the films released between late May to July’s twilight. Let’s breakdown the best and the worst.

The surprise of the summer: “Fruitvale Station.”

The story of Oscar Grant is one to see in “Fruitvale Station

All of these big-budget, stylized and larger-than-life named movies completely overshadowed this gem, which could end up making rounds during Awards Season in 2014. Ryan Coogler’s docudrama about the last day of Bay-Area resident Oscar Grant, starring Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz and Octavia Spencer is one of the best films of the year and the sleeper of the summer. “Fruitvale Station” is a must-see movie.

The biggest disappointment of the summer: the super-hero films of the summer.

Summer 2012 was highlighted by two of the most profitable and iconic super-hero themed films in history: “Marvel’s The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” Apparently, those movies were hard acts to follow. “Iron Man 3,” “Man of Steel” and “The Wolverine” were all highly anticipated adventures and there is no denying that they scored big at the box office, but unfortunately they didn’t live up to their respective hypes. All three films were nothing better than average at best. The genre has seen better than what the class of 2013 had to offer audiences. Speaking of super-hero films of summer 2013…

The best super-hero film of summer 2013: “Man of Steel.”

“Man of Steel” soars above its competition

Zack Snyder’s bold approach to his Superman origin story may not be in the same class as Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy but it was the best super-hero feature of the year so far. The feature was the most faithful to the origin story in the comic lore as possible as the details of Kal-El’s arrival on Earth led to the inevitable battle between Henry Cavill’s Superman and Michael Shannon’s General Zod. The cast was good, the direction was decent, the story was solid but somewhere along the line, this movie was just underwhelming. I really hope the sequel can pack more punch though.

The worst super-hero film of summer 2013: “Iron Man 3.”

I wish I go so far as say “disappointing” but I can’t be merciful here. Shane Black’s sequel to Jon Favreau’s installments was very disappointing. The beginning of Phase 2 of the Avengers Initiative was an adaptation of the Extremis storyline, where Tony Stark is up against a foe more dangerous than anyone he has ever faced: a terrorist calling himself, “The Mandarin.” Unfortunately, Shane Black altered the story to the point where it just feels so unfaithful to the original films and comics and the only saving grace was Robert Downey Jr. “Iron Man 3” missed the mark completely.

Best visual effects: “Pacific Rim

Guillermo Del Toro’s completely original sci-fi robots vs. monsters extravaganza boasts Academy Award caliber visual effects. “Pacific Rim” is set a few years into the future where giant inter-dimensional creatures called Kaiju wreak havoc on mankind and humanity’s only line of defense is the Jaeger Program: two psychically connected pilots operate a 25 ft tall giant fighting robot. The film also features a well-developed an imaginative story, solid performances from Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Idris Elba, Charlie Day and Ron Pearlman.

Best animated film of the summer: “Turbo

The underdog story about a snail-turned-speed demon is the most computer-generated animated fun I’ve had at the movies all summer. Unlike “Despicable Me 2,” and “Monsters University,” “Turbo” is an original idea with that special it factor that really gets the audience into the story and rooting for the characters.  The parallel plots between Ryan Reynolds’ Turbo and Michael Peña’s Tito is as equally fascinating as the concept of a snail racing in the Indy 500.

The best motion picture of the summer: “Fruitvale Station”

In terms of overall structure, entertainment value and impact, Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station” stands above the rest. I highly encourage movie fans to venture out and see this extraordinary movie.

The worst motion picture of the summer: “The Lone Ranger

Forgive me Johnny Depp for I am a big fan but this adventure from you and “Pirates of the Caribbean” director Gore Verbinski, just didn’t put the “wild” into The Wild West. Overall, this adventure starring Depp and Arnie Hammer was boring from start to finish and completely left its audience in the dust.

Final summary: This year’s crop of summer blockbusters was completely lackluster compared to year’s past. I always keep my expectations for a film high but overall, almost every movie I was looking forward to seeing this summer completely fell beneath the bar. Sure, there were a few exceptions but honestly, this year was dry in terms of excitement.

Fortunately, the year is about to experience a better class of film. The final months of the calendar year is typically when the elite class of films arrive in theaters for consideration for Awards Season. I’m really looking forward to what the industry has to offer when it comes to year’s end but unlike the summer blockbusters of 2013, I don’t want to end up disappointed.

The #3 movie of 2012 is…

Christopher Nolan's epic trilogy comes to a close in "The Dark Knight Rises"

Christopher Nolan’s epic trilogy comes to a close in “The Dark Knight Rises”

The Dark Knight Rises.”

Synopsis: An eight-year era of peace following the death of Gotham District Attorney Harvey Dent is jeopardized when a mercenary named Bane, played by Tom Hardy (“Inception”), arrives in Gotham City to “liberate” the city. The presence of this menace forces Bruce Wayne, played by Academy Award winner Christian Bale (“The Fighter,” “American Psycho”) to unearth his vigilante alter-ego, Batman, to defend his city from this devilish terrorist.

Why is this movie #3?: Without question, this epic conclusion to one of the best trilogies of its genre is a defining milestone to the incredibly ascending career of visionary director Christopher Nolan (“Memento”). The character arc for Bruce Wayne is astounding and Nolan managed to successfully intertwine his arc into his vision for tying all three films of the “Dark Knight” trilogy together. The entire cast was awesome, the screenplay was rich and intense and the direction was nothing short of spectacular. This trilogy couldn’t have found a higher note to go out on.