Tom Cruise to star in Van Helsing reboot

Van Helsing was a big disappointment for Universal. Bringing together the likes of Dracula, the Wolfman and Frankenstein’s Monster, it should have been The Avengers of monster movies, but suffered an absolute mauling at the hands of the critics. Any ideas of a potential franchise were swiftly dead in the water.

However, Universal have now attached electrodes to Van Helsing‘s ruined corpse and are ready to flip the switch, with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci currently developing the script for an upcoming reboot.

Now, whilst that might not necessarily sound like a recipe for success, consider this: Tom Cruise is reportedly on board to produce the film, and apparently, he’s agreed to star in it as well.

Whether or not you’re a fan of Cruise’s screen presence, this does at least suggest that Universal are planning to do things properly this time around. Cruise generally runs a tight ship when he’s on production duties, so hopefully there will be none of the half-assedness that plagued the original.

The team-up with Kurtzman and Roberto represents part of the first-look deal agreed between Universal and the screenwriters, with the pair also set to breathe new life into The Mummy. Prepare to hide behind your sofas… monsters are on the rise once more.

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New trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man has released a new full-length trailer, featuring a wisecracking Spidey, a scowling Peter Parker and a Lizard that looks as though he could give the Hulk a run for his money.

Director Marc Webb has stressed the importance of Peter’s lost parents to his particular story, and judging by this latest trailer, he wasn’t kidding. “The one thing that has haunted me my entire life,” says Parker, grimly, “is finding the truth about my parents.”

Teenage angst aside, the new trailer doesn’t skimp on action, with the Lizard (spotted once again in that signature medical coat we referred to yesterday) causing out and out carnage in New York City. Looks as though Spider-Man’s going to have his hands full with this guy.

Take a look at the new trailer below…

We’ve still yet to see a proper, stationary glimpse of the Lizard in all his glory, but we can understand why Sony want to hold something back for the final release. That said, he does look like a pleasingly physical enemy, and one who should help sell the new Spider-Man as a high-school kid just coming to terms with his powers.

On a similar note, Garfield’s wisecracking could just be the film’s trump card – a return to the mischievous sense of humour of the comic-book Spidey after Tobey Maguire’s distinctly straight-laced incarnation.

The Amazing Spider-Man opens in the UK on 4 July 2012.

We’ve still yet to see a proper, stationary glimpse of the Lizard in all his glory, but we can understand why Sony want to hold something back for the final release. That said, he does look like a pleasingly physical enemy, and one who should help sell the new Spider-Man as a high-school kid just coming to terms with his powers.

On a similar note, Garfield’s wisecracking could just be the film’s trump card – a return to the mischievous sense of humour of the comic-book Spidey after Tobey Maguire’s distinctly straight-laced incarnation.

The Amazing Spider-Man opens in the UK on 4 July 2012.

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The Night of the Hunter

The Night of the Hunter

Motionless for 90 minutes, I could not even remove my coat. I sweated and shivered. I felt in shock. Was the film recreating scenes from my sleep? I had never seen, as far as I can recall, The Night of the Hunter. That is until a cold, wintry night in the 1990s when, working in Glasgow, I went to the city’s GFT cinema to catch a new 35mm print of Charles Laughton’s 1955 masterpiece. It was his only film as a director. Critics panned it on its release, consequently killing off the actor’s career behind the camera, and perhaps robbing history of further works of greatness.

It was a film I’d heard of, but knew nothing about; I wanted to see it, but had no idea why. Then came that dizzying sense of already having dreamt it. So strong was this impression, I felt a bit like the character of architect Walter Craig in 1945′s brilliant Dead of Night, wondering if he is trapped in a repeating chain of interlinked ghost stories. Unlike Craig, though, I didn’t have repressed urges to strangle anyone. Tricks of the mind? Scarier than ghosts.

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Tyrannosaur takes hat trick at British Independent Film Awards

Tyrannosaur takes hat trick at British Independent Film Awards

Paddy Considine collects best film and best debut director awards while Olivia Colman is best actress

Tyrannosaur, Paddy Considine’s gripping and gruelling study of rage, has become the biggest winner at the 14th British Independent Film Awards.

Starring Peter Mullan as a drinking, gambling, washed-up widower, it was surprise winner of the best film award from a particularly strong shortlist that included Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Shame, Senna and We Need to Talk About Kevin.

It is not a first date movie, or rather would be one for unusual people. The tone is set in the first minutes when Mullan’s character kicks his dog to death after he is kicked out of the bookies. While it is not easy to watch, critics have showered the film with praise.

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Ken Russell dies aged 84

Ken Russell dies aged 84

Ken Russell, the veteran director of Women in Love, The Devils and Tommy, has died at the age of 84

Ken Russell, the director behind the Oscar-winning Women in Love has died aged 84. Russell died on Sunday in his sleep, according to his friend, the arts writer Norman Lebrecht.

Known for a flamboyant style developed during his early career in television, Russell’s films mixed high and low culture with rare deftness and often courted high controversy. The Devils … a religious drama that featured an infamous scene between Oliver Reed and Venessa Redgrave sexualising the crucifixion – was initially rejected by Warner Brothers. It will be released in its entirety in March next year, 42 years after it was made, when it will form part of the British Board of Film Classification’s centenary celebrations.

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Take Shelter: ‘Spins us around and shouts in our face’

Xan Brooks is impressed and alarmed by Take Shelter, Jeff Nichols’s brooding take on societal unease, in which family man Curtis (Michael Shannon) can see that a storm is gathering, even though it may be only in his head. Should he protect his family from the weather? Or from himself?

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Why silent movies are golden once more

Why silent movies are golden once more

A silent film hasn’t won the Oscar for best picture since Wings took the top prize at the very first ceremony in 1929. A year later, the talkies had taken hold, and it’s fair to say they have dominated the awards ever since. But now, for the first time in more than 80 years, a silent movie is being talked up as a real Oscars contender.

The Artist is a French film, but set in Hollywood at the end of the silent era, and shot like one of the very best films from that time. That means it’s black-and-white, it uses the squarer “Academy Ratio” frame rather than widescreen and, yes, it’s silent. It’s a beguiling, A Star is Born/Singin’ in the Rain story of two lovers whose paths and careers cross – a leading man from the silent days falls down on his luck, while a young flapper named Peppy makes it big in talking pictures.

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The Iron Lady: first screening

The Iron Lady: first screening

Was it a dream or is it a nightmare? In the early years of the 21st century a frail old woman totters around her London home, assailed by memories that rise up unbidden. They tell her that her husband still lives, and that she remains the prime minister, the cherished daughter of a nation of shopkeepers, called upon to save Britain from ruin. For the old woman, these ghosts provide reassurance, a sunny remembrance of days gone by. Others, by contrast, may be hard pressed to keep the horrors at bay.

While one doubts whether Baroness Thatcher would wholeheartedly approve of any large screen biopic, it seems likely that she’d have a certain, sneaking affection for The Iron Lady, which prints the legend and keeps the dissent on spartan rations. Yes, the film provides glimpses of a blustering Michael Foot, and archive footage from the poll tax riots. At one stage angry protesters slap on the window of the heroine’s limo to tell her she’s “a monster”. Yet there’s little sense of the outside world, the human cost, or the ripple effect of divisive government policies. It is a movie that gives us Thatcher without Thatcherism.

The Iron Lady, directed by Phyllida Lloyd from an Abi Morgan script, opts for a breezy, whistle-stop tour through the unstable nitroglycerin of Thatcher’s life and times. The tone is jaunty and affectionate, a blend of Yes Minister and The King’s Speech, fuelled by flashbacks that bob us back through authorised history.

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The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride

Fittingly enough, the first time I saw The Princess Bride I was languishing in bed with flu. Bizarrely, that’s an ideal state for a tale which begins with a grandfather determined to read a proper story to a similarly sickly boy.

At first glance an opening scene of a child playing a computer game and the entrance of Peter Falk, looking inescapably like Columbo, even without the cigar and overcoat, does not bode well. One’s own scepticism at what is to come is mirrored by the boy’s uncertainty over the prospect of his grandfather reading from a book. “Has it got any sports in it?” he asks warily. “Are you kidding?” asks Columbo. It has “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles …”

And so it does, and from then on we are in the world of Buttercup and Westley, of Prince Humperdinck and the Dread Pirate Roberts, of Vizzini, Fezzik and Inigo Montoya. It’s an enchanting land of silly names and sillier dialogue and sillier-still cameos. But all this silliness is underscored by soaring themes – true love, ultimate suffering and the all conquering power of friendship – not to mention a score by Mark Knopfler that punctuates the climaxes with perfect comic timing.

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The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski

In our writers’ favourite films series, Rosie Swash explains why she is bowled over by the Coen brothers’ surreal masterpiece

Before we get into this, I should say that my other favourite film isCasablanca. Romance, sacrifice, heroism, war; Casablanca has it all. But does it have the Dude engaging in a plan to confront an adolescent car thief while watching his landlord perform an interpretative dance while dressed as a tree? No, it does not.

Like a teenager who discovers Che Guevara T-shirts, there is nothing original or particularly inspired about liking The Big Lebowski. So predictable, you’ll say. Dear God, it’s not even the best film by the Coen brothers, have you not seen Barton Fink? Year after year, I watch films that make me cry, films that make me laugh, and films that keep reappearing in my head for days, weeks after, because they’re so good – but I’ve never watched anything that I love as much as The Big Lebowski.

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