04 January 2016 7416 Views


by James Murphy




Well: You made it. Hope Christmas was fun and restful. It certainly enabled us to catch up on some new Blu-Ray releases. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATION is just as good second time around. Ditto MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. JURASSIC WORLD remains charming, too. I may have been over-generous to TERMINATOR: GENISYS, but I was not alone in that and frankly, there have been worse attempts at reboots and one can blame the trailers and marketing for its main spoilerific disappointment.

Some movies get better with second viewings and perhaps because one can press pause / skip scenes / work out with the film on in the background (KINGSMAN; MAN FROM UNCLE). If you are still seeking a Cinema trip, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS is still playing and should be there right to the wire of its release on digital downloads /Blu-Ray / DVD. SPECTRE is on its way for a February order and you can add it to baskets on Amazon now (the steel case looks amazing).

poster mi

But enough of the past.  It is time to move forward. Obviously we cannot predict how things pan out precisely. Cinema is all about surprises, just like life. But one can make informed guesses and some basic calculations / proposals. So without further ado..here we go!





The awards ceremonies are upon us already. Golden Globes kick things off..Academy Awards finish the job. You can of course factor in lots of Critics’ Circles awards and the like but the general public are basically wanting to predict and then watch the big winners at the Oscars. There will be tears, laughter, awkward jokes, montages and..selfies, for sure. As to probable winners?


Expect SYLVESTER STALLONE to be in with a shot for Best Supporting Actor c/o CREED. It’s the kind of award that matches a decent performance but also somehow embraces a lifetime legacy of work in previously ineligible genre pieces. See also: SEAN CONNERY for THE UNTOUCHABLES (1987).


HARRISON FORD could /should have a chance for his excellent turn as HAN SOLO in STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. Is it a great performance in a character sense? No. But does it save the whole movie and anchor it with humor, emotion, pace and FUN? Yep. In that sense..Ford IS a ‘best’ support contender and he too is owed a gong of some sort before he hits the ‘lifetime achievement’ slot.




EDDIE REDMAYNE should also be a clear contender to win Best Actor in a Leading Role for THE DANISH GIRL. Yes, he won last year. But TOM HANKS did just that in 1994 and 1995 with PHILADELPHIA and FORREST GUMP. It can be done and this is another remarkable performance in Oscar friendly material from a well liked and highly competent character actor.


THE REVENANT might..just MIGHT finally grab an Oscar for LEONARDO DICAPRIO (Leeeeooo) although its somewhat challenging running time and focus on revenge and endurance may cost it a Best Picture win. Same is true for QUENTIN TARANTINO and HATEFUL EIGHT. Is it a great movie? Of course! Is it also dark, violent, cold and lacking that feel good Oscar ambience of optimism? Naturally and yes that may cost it a gong or two.  Commercial flops usually don’t win well, either. But it would be shameful to ignore the efforts of DANNY BOYLE, MICHAEL FASSBENDER and KATE WINSLET in STEVE JOBS.




THE MARTIAN was a remarkable accomplishment and thereby earns a nod for Best Director in RIDLEY SCOTT, surely? Another veteran innovator who MUST be acknowledged is GEORGE MILLER. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD surely stands to win and win BIG. Editing, special effects, possibly Best Supporting Actress for CHARLIZE THERON and yes, Best Picture should ALL be on the potential horizons for Mr. Mad Max.






Big Fights! Big events! BIG BOX OFFICE?

BATMAN will fight SUPERMAN. CAPTAIN AMERICA takes on IRON MAN. Look out for BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE and CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. We know this. YOU know this (come on..it’s not news..indeed sharing news about this sort of thing or so called ‘viral’ pieces is a continued stretch, though sometimes we do strike gold).

Who will win that battle? Well in the movies themselves, it’s GOT to be a draw, right? Nobody REALLY wants to see a Batman with blood on his hands or Tony Stark lose both an ally and his own character progress. As it was, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON went a little too far down the road of making Stark arguably a new big bad on a par with Thanos (ie an agent of division and destruction). It’s interesting, of course. But one could say they DID that with clarity and economy in ONE movie (IRON MAN), thereby making any regressive step in sequels redundant.

As for Batman and Superman, the recent trailer gave everything away. We know the two heroes will fight and that Acts one and two will focus on their clash of moral philosophy as well as actual physical fisticuffs. But come Act Three and some big bad space monster (probably DOOMSDAY) will force a truce and a teaming with GAL GADOT’s WONDER WOMAN to bring the two heroes out of darkness, towards the light and a new franchise called JUSTICE LEAGUE.


Meantime, the baddies are getting their own team up movie: SUICIDE SQUAD. It’s already an internet sensation and its iconography of the JARED LETO JOKER should ensure a healthy opening weekend at the very least. By contrast, DEADPOOL is less well known as a property. But it has already gathered a cult following online via trailers and – yes – ‘viral’ marketing!



Sadly, DEADPOOL also looks a tad nasty and smugly pleased with itself, beloved already among every geek who fancies themselves as being a bit ‘edgy’. Sorry, RYAN REYNOLDS. You ARE  a great leading man. But frankly, you can do better and DESERVE better. WHY must EVERY actor’s career now stand and fall on some comic book property?  Anyway, we’ll see if Reynolds’ gamble paid off in February.


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Speaking of which: BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH. you are taking a BIG risk with DOCTOR STRANGE (arriving November). This has THE best cast. EVER. TILDA SWINTON!! And yes, Cumberbatch is now a bona fide movie star. Matinee idol / action hero..he aint. But nice man, hard worker and consummate actor: absolutely. So give the guy a chance at playing super hero, why not?


Well..GREAT though the artwork looks, fact is, this is still a tough sell. Magic! Sorcery! Horror! It’s in the existing Marvel universe, sure. But they went to great lengths to tell us that magic = just high science (THOR). So this will either be the biggest sleeper hit of the comic book blockbuster universe or a very expensive flop. My money is on the former. But even so..BEWARE!




For a balance of risk AND ‘sure thing’ though? I’m going with X MEN: APOCALYPSE. DAYS OF FUTURE PAST was a big hit (but that had less competition and a unique selling point). This one has no HUGH JACKMAN or PATRICK STEWART. And its bad guy looks like Ivan Ooze from POWER RANGERS (even with additional special effects edits and OSCAR ISAAC in the role).


But X MEN has a clear and unique vision and balances risk taking with ongoing universe building; nostalgia and looking forward at once. MICHAEL FASSBENDER also lends charismatic charm as Magneto. And most importantly of all..the one thing that no other super-hero movie has this year..a secret weapon..a magic talisman for blockbuster business..none other than JENNIFER LAWRENCE. I love her. We love her. YOU love her. The end. They’re also featuring another thing of beauty in the X MEN trailer: OXFORD UNIVERSITY! Bodes well..






jungle book 1


TOM HANKS returns as Robert ‘Da Vinci Code’ Langdon to face INFERNO. MATT DAMON and PAUL GREENGRASS give us the return to the BOURNE franchise that we all wanted. MICHAEL FASSBENDER (yep: him again and rightly so!) brings ASSASSINS CREED from the gaming world to the big screen. GHOSTBUSTERS gets an all lady reboot (though there will be cameos from some of the old cast).




STAR TREK BEYOND marks the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved franchise with what looks like a big screen tribute to its television series’ ethos. The trailer has had mixed reactions. But I rather like its simplicity. I also believe SIMON PEGG will have helped enormously as writer on the script and that IDRIS ELBA will make a great villain. And it’s always good to see CHRIS PINE in actual leading man mode, where he should be! I do hope they paid royalties to the BEASTIE BOYS estate for using THAT song, though!



Meanwhile STAR WARS will give us ROGUE ONE and tell a story set in the world of the original trilogy, with a brave band of rebels stealing the plans to the DEATH STAR.STEVEN SPIELBERG trades serious historical pieces for an old school family romp in THE BFG (that trailer is pure, classic, Spielberg atmospheric magic).





UK based comedy gets a big hearing with three outings: DAVID BRENT: LIFE ON THE ROAD; BRIDGET JONES’ BABY and ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE. TARON EGERTON teams with HUGH JACKMAN for EDDIE THE EAGLE: the year’s sleeper hit, feel good, real life David and Goliath / rags to sort of riches against the odds, sporting comedy.



"Independence Day Resurgence" Global Production Event


INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE could repeat its success of twenty years ago, though the lack of WILL SMITH (who defected to SUICIDE SQUAD) is sadly palpable and whilst they are promising bigger alien ships, it’s difficult to see the ‘USP’ this time round.



THE JUNGLE BOOK should prove a massive hit in the new batch of DISNEY live action adaptations of old animated classics line. For old school animation: look no further than ZOOTOPIA (and play the related games while you await the release at: POKI ZOOTOPIA GAMES).



There should also be the usual batch of movie news throughout the year.

Some expected (official statements on INDIANA JONES; JAMES BOND 25STAR WARSYOUNG HAN SOLO ; BATMAN; AVATAR; ALIEN, DIE HARD and assorted other franchise futures) and unexpected (NETFLIX releases; comic convention revelations; franchise reboots; sleeper hits that come from nowhere; podcasts and retrospectives; births/ marriages/ divorces/ deaths; internet meltdowns and ‘viral’ sensations).



And we will be with you, every step of the way at MOVIE VIRAL!

See you at the Movies.



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