Author Archives: Graeme Virtue

Film studies: five movies to liven up Britain’s classrooms

20th Century Fox is offering US teachers free learning materials inspired by its Nasa-themed hit Hidden Figures. But why stop there?

Related: Should pupils watch movies in class? Discuss …

Kids love movies, and education standards need to be improved. So why not use movies as a teaching aid? It’s not rocket science. Except in this case it actually is. After unexpectedly conquering the box office with its inspiring tale of the resolute black women who helped keep Nasa in the 1960s space race, Hidden Figures is now setting its landing coordinates for the classroom.

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Can Guardians of the Galaxy avoid the perils of the threequel?

Even before the second instalment of the franchise is out, director James Gunn is facing up to difficulties of a third outing for Marvel’s oddball superheroes

James Gunn is hooked on a feeling. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 hasn’t even been released yet and the writer/director has made a declaration of threequel rights. In a Facebook post, Gunn has confirmed he has signed up for a third movie featuring Marvel’s oddball band of sci-fi heroes. “There is a history in Hollywood of haphazard endings to trilogies,” he declared, “and I didn’t want to become a part of that dishonourable tradition of pretending the third one doesn’t exist.”

He’s clearly throwing shade at bellyflops such as Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Batman Forever, where received wisdom tells us acclaimed directors oversaw the first two instalments only to see the third messed up by lesser talents. By sticking with the franchise he helped jumpstart, Gunn wants to elevate Guardians of the Galaxy into the same bracket as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight saga, or Peter Jackson’s brace of Tolkien trilogies. But he might do well to remember that sitting in the same cool canvas director’s chair for three films is no guarantee of success, as these examples demonstrate.

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From Gladiator to Scarface: five film heroes to bring back from the dead

As Ridley Scott plans to revive his deceased Roman warrior for a follow-up to the historical epic, here are some other dead characters ripe for reincarnation

“Death is not the end” is usually a comforting sentiment but it can also be a threat. Hollywood’s voracious appetite for sequels means that even the quiet, dignified passing of a beloved movie’s main character might not prevent a franchise from steamrollering on. Ridley Scott recently declared his desire to resume the story of his Oscar-winning 2000 epic Gladiator but surely the fact that Russell Crowe’s legendary scrapper Maximus expired in the arena might prove to be a roadblock to any sequel? Apparently not. “I know how to bring him back,” Scott recently announced at the SXSW festival. What could the veteran director have in mind? And how might some other currently lifeless film franchises benefit from a death-defying do-over?

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Secret Cinema: five films that shouldn’t get the ‘immersive experience’ treatment

Interactive film events may be all the rage – but some big-screen hits definitely ought to stay firmly on the screen

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Deadpool: ‘I don’t think my mom is going to be able to watch it’

Director Tim Miller and star Gina Carano talk sexual politics, sarcasm and swearing, as Marvel’s adults only motormouth finally makes it to the big screen

Deadpool was the hottest superhero movie of 2012, right up until it wasn’t. A toned-down version of the cult Marvel character had appeared in the stodgy X-Men Origins: Wolverine, played by Ryan Reynolds, but the proposed standalone movie, scripted by the writers of Zombieland, promised to be faithful to the source material: violent, sexy, nutty. Who wouldn’t want to see the adventures of a motormouth mercenary who gets aroused by chimichangas, katanas and Bea Arthur? No envelope would go unpushed, or unlicked. The in-demand Reynolds was signed up and visual effects specialist Tim Miller was announced as director.

Related: Deadpool director: Ryan Reynolds’ character will be first pansexual superhero

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The Revenant: what to do when animals attack

With Leo DiCaprio facing a close encounter with a bear in The Revenant, Graeme Virtue takes lessons from other films where animals are successfully beaten off Continue reading… Continue reading

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Slow West: ‘Working with Fassbender was like being in a band and riffing’

Once a member of 90s eccentrics the Beta Band, now a movie director, John Maclean is taking an equally experimental approach to film

Related: Sundance 2015 review: Slow West – Fassbender saddles up for psychedelic western

Bromance is an overused term. But how else to describe the relationship between John Maclean, one-time Beta Band noisemaker, and Michael Fassbender, smouldering master of screen magnetism? After they collaborated on two micro-budget short films, Fassbender promptly signed up for Maclean’s first feature before a plot, script or title even existed. Is the dashing, in-demand part-time supervillain perhaps some sort of Beta Band superfan?

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Reboot Arnie’s meta-flop: why this shouldn’t be the Last Action Hero

Jurassic Park ate Last Action Hero alive when the two movies were released in June 1993. But Hollywood should have also considered Arnold Schwarzenegger’s high-profile flop when looking for old dinosaurs to revive

Do you remember the first time? Jurassic World may be the fourth film in the franchise, but its marketing campaign has gone to enormous lengths to invoke the spirit of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 original. It hasn’t been that difficult, since Colin Trevorrow’s movie is a checklist of familiar Jurassic Park elements – a return to Isla Nublar, poppets in peril, raptors, tacky in-world merchandise, Muldoon (except he’s Chris Pratt now) – all juiced and goosed to meet the perceived appetites of 21st-century cinemagoers. That it simultaneously preaches about the dire consequences of profit-hungry executives attempting to increase the wow factor by tampering with a magnificent original is just the usual Hollywood obliviousness.

Related: Is Jurassic World sexist? Assessing the film’s key females of the species

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The Fast and the Spurious: the 2001 film franchises that could have been

As The Fast And The Furious releases its sixth skidtastic sequel, Fast & Furious 7, we imagine how other films from 2001 might have repeated the feat Related: Fast and Furious 7 review: Paul Walker’s final film is fitting tribute Continue reading… Continue reading

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Alan Partridge: a look inside his mind

Partridge writers Peter Baynham and Neil and Rob Gibbons reveal what they’ve learned about East Anglia’s everyman philosopher

Peter Baynham When I first heard Alan on On The Hour, which I wasn’t involved in, it felt like a new kind of comedy. I hadn’t seen or heard anything like it before. As I became more involved, I remember thinking he didn’t feel like a one-joke character; there was something three-dimensional about this guy, something real. Without someone as talented as Steve Coogan, he could just have been “the comedy sports presenter”.

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