Surprises and speculation in the movie world

Furious 8 finds its director

If my memory serves me right, speculation began last week regarding Vin Diesel’s role in the next Fast and Furious film. Could he be directing the eighth chapter? Past Fast and Furious directors Justin Lin and James Wan are off developing their next project, leading to the assumption that Vin could have a chance to sit in the directors chair. Well, the verdict is in, and it turns out that Diesel will serve as simply actor-producer.

The Italian Job and Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray took to his Twitter account to announce that he will be helming the next chapter of the “Furious Family”. The decision to attach Gray could not be more appropriate. His directing history has shown him to be able to handle ensemble casts and achieve the difficult task of telling each character’s individual story while maintaining the integrity of the ensemble’s tale. Car — and boat — chases from The Italian Job coupled with Straight Outta Compton’s elements of family and brotherhood through intense situations, not to mention Gray’s well-standing with Universal Studios makes me say, with ease, that Furious 8 is in the best possible hands. And if you happened to be in the mood, Gray’s directorial effort in Law Abiding Citizen created, what I argue, one of the best villains in cinema of the last decade in Gerard Butler’s character Clyde Shelton. Furious 8 will hit theaters on April 14, 2017.

Cast of Harry Potter spinoff adds exciting talent

If the Harry Potter franchise is going to continue its expansion on the big screen, director David Yates knows full well the weight that comes with doing so. What’s the best way to put together an outstanding film? I’m not sure anyone knows for sure, but putting together a knockout cast isn’t a bad start and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is doing exactly that. Already being led by Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, the film has acquired yet another lead in Jon Voight (Coming Home, Midnight Cowboy). The excitement doesn’t stop there. The producers have also signed on Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Pacific Rim). The roles of Voight and Perlman are unknown, though Perlman is rumored to be playing a goblin. The cast is filled out by the likes of Colin Farrell, Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterston, and Ezra Miller. Yates, director of the last four Harry Potter films, is more than capable of delivering another magical thrill ride from the wizarding world and has some particularly impressive talent at his disposal. It seems as if Yates would solemnly swear that he is up to no good. Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them will open in theaters on Nov. 18, 2016.

Marvel Studios chooses writer to pen Black Panther script

Marvel Studios seems to have found a rhythm in their preproduction stages. Developing a character and a story arc seems to be simple due to their origins in the vast source material of the comic books. Then attaching a director and a star flows rather smoothly, as virtually every director and actor would be interested in playing a role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The director then has his hands deep in the development and writing stages of the script. With Black Panther, though, it seems Marvel is taking a new approach with the process. Chadwick Boseman has been attached to play the titular role since Oct. 2014, and Marvel has locked up writer Joe Robert Cole to put together the script, before a director has even been publicly announced. Despite this, however, I have to give Marvel the benefit of the doubt. They have consistently released high quality films since the beginning. Sure, a few efforts have missed the bull’s-eye, but the MCU has the ability to give an audience an exhilarating experience in the theater no matter what order they hire their talent. Captain America: Civil War is coming down the pike, and all signs point to another wild ride. Black Panther is scheduled to hit theaters July 6, 2018.

Could Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams pilot a Jaeger?

Director Guillermo del Toro is gearing up to release his newest project, Crimson Peak, but the looming thoughts of a sequel to his 2013 robots vs. monsters sci-fi film Pacific Rim are still up in the air. Del Toro was able to sit down with Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams and took to his Twitter account to tease us fans. “Had lunch with Maisie Williams yesterday. Remarkable. Dammit- if PR2 happens, that girl is getting a Jaeger.” The film has hit the skids in recent days, being eliminated from Universal Pictures’ release schedule, but this is something exciting to think about. Arya Stark piloting a Jaeger? Are you kidding me? These are the kinds of things fans talk about in living rooms all over the world: “Wouldn’t it be awesome if Arya fought Kaiju?” Williams is an outstanding actor with attitude, charisma, and talent to spare. I’m personally rooting for a sequel to Pacific Rim. I reluctantly entered the theater back in 2013 but walked out thoroughly entertained. I said it would be a waste. I said the effects couldn’t be good enough to make up for the terrible film. I was wrong. I was dead wrong, and now, I can’t cheer loud enough for chapter two. Come on, Universal! Pony up the dough and give us Arya Stark in a giant robot fighting giant monsters!