Watch: #ChanningTatum and The Boys are Back to the Grind in #MagicMikeXXL Trailer

Magic Mike XXL Poster

The success of 2012’s Magic Mike (yes, it really has been three years) virtually guaranteed that a sequel would be made, whether anyone wanted it or not. I’m thinking that the same audiences that made the first one such a surprise hit, are gonna want to get in on this action as well.
What’s not to like? Most of the same ingredients have been reassembled, namely Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez and Kevin Nash, plus a few tweaks have been made that at first blush would appear to be for the better. One, no Alex Pettyfer. Thank you, sweet baby jeebus. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but I’m pretty sure his abs were chiseled from wood – which would explain his acting. Ditto Cody Horn.
I’ll miss Matthew McConaughey, but he’s now an Academy Award winner. The price to get him to take off his shirt has probably quadrupled since then. Steven Soderbergh isn’t directing, but his presence will still be felt. He’s on board as executive producer, overseeing his long-time assistant director and producing-partner, Greg Jacobs at the helm.
The additions should be fun. In the trailer below we get a glimpse of Elizabeth Banks, Andie Macdowell and Jada Pinkett Smith, who seems to be doing a riff on her “Gotham” character, Fish Mooney (but I could be wrong). Who we don’t see, at least I didn’t see them (I might have to watch it a few more times *cough*) are terpsichorean newcomers Donald Glover and Michael Strahan.
Feast yer peepers on this:

While it would be so easy to dismiss Magic Mike XXL as just more voyeuristic, stereotypical piffle, that would be missing the point. It is voyeuristic and somewhat stereotypical, but the film knows it. No one is taking themselves too seriously here. Everyone is in on the joke. Let’s face it, these boys need an outlet to show off the fruits of all of that hard work and long hours put in at the gym. Tatum-tot is never going to be known as a great thespian. He knows where his strengths lie. The original Magic Mike was conceived by Tatum and written by his producting-partner, Reid Carolin and it was based on his own real experiences. This time around he and Carolin co-wrote the script as well as produced. And Joe Manganiello can only cash in on his guns and pecs for so long, before the Werewolf thing is a distant memory and he gets too long in the tooth. Where else, and by whom, are these guys going to get the unrestrained adoration they crave on so grand a scale as a wide release motion picture shown on the big screen with audiences cloaked in the anonymity of a darkened theater, free to drool at their leisure without worrying about going home covered in body glitter, and the only dollar bills they’ve parted with paid for a ticket and popcorn?

And given that 95% of what Hollywood produces is still aimed at 18-25 year old straight man-boys, I think the rest of us have earned this.

The question now will be, where do they go from here?  There is only one way to up this ante. If Magic Mike XXL is the hit I predict it will be, the 3rd installment will be in 3D…in IMAX.

Magic Mike XXL, which also stars Amber Heard, Stephen “Twitch” Boss, and Gabriel Iglesias, starts its strut across the globe in the US on July 1 and the UK on 3rd July.

London Has Fallen Finally Has a Director! – edited

London Has Fallen, movie, poster, teaser, Gerard Butler

1st teaser artwork for London Has Fallen

I have no idea how to feel about this.

The good news is that four months after the announcement that Olympus Has Fallen was getting a sequel, with the catchy title London Has Fallen, which one would think would be a HUGE clue as to the plot line, Millennium has finally signed a director for the project.

The bad news is that his name is NOT Antoine Fuqua. I had been convinced that the reason the director of the original had not signed on for the sequel yet was that he was holding out for more money. After all not only was OHF a huge box office hit, but he’s got The Equalizer (with his Training Day star, Denzel Washington) in the can, a film with such high expectations a sequel to THAT film has already been green-lit. But it seems that Fuqua is moving ahead with his passion project Southpaw, with Jake Gyllenhaal. Or maybe the producers didn’t meet his price.

Either way, London Has Fallen will now be helmed by Fredrik Bond, a director of music videos with one other feature to his credit, the festival favorite (and uber-indie) The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, with Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood and Mads Mikkelsen. (And they weren’t even action &/or violence-laden heavy metal videos. We’re talking Moby.)

Yeah, that’s a head scratcher. Maybe Melissa Leo recommended him, assuming she’s coming back for LHF (hey, she didn’t die in OHF), since she’s in TNDoCC as well.

This actually doesn’t disturb me as much as the fact that Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt’s script has been rewritten by Christian Gudegast. One of the reasons I was ready to buy a ticket to this sequel, which in my humble opinion, with the rare exception of films like Jaws and The Godfather, are generally not a good idea, was that the husband & wife team responsible for the first film was back on board for the second. Again, just my humble opinion, but that their script is being redone by a writer whose biggest claim to fame is the Vin Diesel vehicle, A Man Apart does not inspire confidence. Although in all fairness, it might be the best Vin Diesel vehicle. But having said that, need I say more? (More proof that all roads lead to Gerard Butler – A Man Apart was directed by F. Gary Gray who directed Law Abiding Citizen. Just a bit of trivia.)

As it stands now, the only things London Has Fallen will have in common with Olympus Has Fallen will be its stars Gerard Butler (who will again produce) as Secret Service Agent Mike Banning, Aaron Eckhart as President Asher and Morgan Freeman as Speaker of the House Trumbull.

The plot has them in London to attend the British Prime Minister’s funeral. Of course some brain-trust with an evil bent thinks that they can use this occasion to kill all of the world’s leaders and “unleash a terrifying vision of the future”. Of course. This premise is no more preposterous than that of Olympus Has Fallen, which I believe I’m on record as having enjoyed enormously. So, at least on that score, my disbelief is still safely suspended…for now.

London Has Fallen has a release date of October 2nd, 2015 and production is scheduled to begin in October. Butler is supposed to be in Louisiana in October to film Geostorm for Dean Devlin. Millennium is based in Louisiana, so maybe it’s possible. (Hey, London is expensive.) More to come.

**Edited to add: London IS expensive so London Has Fallen will, if the sets being constructed are any indication, be filmed in Bulgaria.  Production may still begin in October, but filming is set to begin in December. (Hopefully indoors.)  I knew that.

So, what do you think of the latest development? Does the selection of this particular director have any influence on your interest in London Has Fallen?

Dream Works Animation Says Merry Christmas…

How to Train Your Dragon 2, poster, movie, sequel

…with the first full-length trailer for How to Train Your Dragon 2, the sequel to the wildly successful original from 2010.

As the trailer opens, we see that things have changed in Berk. At the beginning of the first film Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) wanted to be from anywhere but there. The sequel picks up five years later and the young Viking is obviously proud of his homeland where man and dragon harmoniously coexist.  (A good bridge between films is the short, 2011’s How to Train Your Dragon: Gift of the Night Fury.  It’s not a coincidence that it aired on television again mere days before the release of this trailer.)

Hiccup and Toothless, his pet dragon, their relationship obviously grown richer, are, of course, still adorable. They’re also still spending their time exploring and soaring above land and sea. During one such adventure, they discover hundreds of wild dragons living in an ice cave inhabited by the mysterious Valka (Cate Blanchett), who seems to be running a sort of dragon sanctuary.

trailer via JoBlo.com’s YouTube Channel

“A mother never forgets.”  What was that? Mother? Whose mother?? Hiccup’s? Or could it be she was referring to Toothless’ mother? As it stands we have six months to wait for an answer.  Hopefully we’ll get more clues with the next trailer. In any case, HTTYD2 is definitely on my “must see” list for 2014.

The official synopsis:

The thrilling second chapter of the epic HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON trilogy returns to the fantastical world of the heroic Viking Hiccup and his faithful dragon Toothless.  The inseparable duo must protect the peace – and save the future of men and dragons from the power-hungry Drago.

Directed by Dean DeBlois (although this time without his creative partner Chris Sanders), who is also the only credited screenwriter this time around, the cast includes voices from the original Gerard Butler (Stoik the Vast), Craig Ferguson (Gobber), America Ferrera (Astrid), Jonah Hill (SnotLout), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fishlegs), T.J. Miller (Tuffnut),  and Kristen Wiig (Ruffnut), as well as newcomers Blanchette, Djimon Hounsou (Drago Bludvist), and Kit Harington (Eret).

The score of the first film was, in my humble opinion, a key factor contributing to its lasting popularity. Let it be known that composer John Powell has returned to score this film as well.

The first film was released in 3D, as well as conventional 2D, and I saw it both ways. I’ve said many times that I’m not generally a proponent of 3D, but there are some movies that I do believe deserve the technology, as well as your extra ducats. The original How to Train Your Dragon was one such and I believe, judging from the aerial scenes in this trailer alone, that the sequel will also qualify.  We’ll find out when How to Train Your Dragon 2 opens in 3D in the US on June 13 and 4th July in the UK.  By the way, HTTYD3 already has a release date: June 18, 2016.

Watch this space for more!

More Hemsworth! More Hiddleston! More Hopkins! More THOR!

…oh yes and more Elba!

Chris Hemsworth, Thor, movie

courtesy Marvel via imdb

I know we just talked about it last week, but  this new trailer for Thor: The Dark World has a good deal more of everything we’re looking for than that teaser we were given a few months ago.

At the top of the list is gravitas. Perhaps it is because the comic book Thor is based on long cherished Norse mythology, but he is both more serious and taken more seriously than a lot of the denizens of the Marvel canon. They’ve got Sir Anthony Hopkins playing Odin for Asgard’s sake!  Of course, the somber tone was set when this sequel was titled Thor: The Dark World.

The new trailer also does a better job of reminding us how visually stunning Thor’s world is, plus it gives us a better look at the key players, including Natalie Portman’s Jane, making it clear that her relationship with Thor is  at the heart (pun intended) of this story. We get more of  Ray Stevenson’s Vollstagg (who appears, thankfully, to have lost some of the curl in his hair), and Jaimie Alexander’s Sif.  Idris Elba’s profile has increased a hundred-fold since the first film and so naturally we get a better look at Heimdall, Also of note, is the trailer time given to Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. It was recently confirmed that Loki will not be a part of the upcoming sequel to The Avengers (which, despite the fact that it makes sense in terms of the character, is a still a bummer), so enjoy him while you can.

Watch this:

First, I have to say that I am always surprised by how deep Chris Hemsworth’s voice is.  Second, I love the way they tied this to last summer’s The Avengers. Five words (and a slap) lets us know where this movie falls in the timeline and that the characters are aware of the events from that film.

Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself.  In the aftermath of Marvel’s “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos…but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

Thor: The Dark World also stars Stellan Skarsgård, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, and Rene Russo and will be in UK theaters on 30th October and in the US on November 8, in glorious 2D!

edited to add pics! D’oh!