With all the fuss about this spring’s The Hunger Games, I’d almost forgotten all about Josh Hutcherson‘s other blockbuster franchise, which began in 2008 with Journey to the Center of the Earth. But Hutcherson hasn’t, of course, and he’ll be reprising his role next month in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.

Hutcherson plays lead Sean Anderson, who teams up with his stepfather (Dwayne Johnson) to explore the fantastical, heavily CGI-ed wonderland of the title. Also along for the ride are a wacky helicopter pilot (Luis Guzman) and his daughter (Vanessa Hudgens), as well as Sean’s adventurous grandfather (Michael Caine). Watch the new trailer after the jump.

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There’s still no word on who’ll be playing Éponine in Tom Hooper‘s Les Misérables, but the project has landed yet another well-known star to play her father. According to LondonNetSacha Baron Cohen is set to join Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, and Eddie Redmayne in the musical, in the role of the villainous inn owner Monsieur Thénardier. Helena Bonham Carter was said to be in talks to play Thénardier’s wife earlier this year, but it’s not clear whether she’s actually attached at this point.

Cohen did a bit of singing in his last big-screen musical, Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and is slated to do still more as the lead of that Freddie Mercury biopic from producer Graham King. In terms of non-singing roles, Cohen recently appeared in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, and already has three more movies scheduled to open next year — The Dictator, Madagascar 3, and Django Unchained. Get used to that face, because you’ll be seeing a lot of it in 2012.

Les Misérables opens December 7, 2012. [via The Playlist]

After the jump, a Disney gal decides it’s time to break into more mature territory, and Diablo Cody’s next project finds a mom for Julianne Hough.

Read More »

The first trailer for Journey 2: The Mysterious Island was all about fun family adventure. The film is the sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D, the film that was ahead of the recent wave of 3D releases, and as such got away with some pretty shoddy effects. This sequel is loosely based on Jules Verne‘s novel The Mysterious Island, and the original trailer highlighted a little bit of danger and a lot of wide-eyed adventure all brought to life with effects that are still pretty shoddy-looking. At least there are a few likable people in the cast: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson tags in to replace Brendan Fraser; Josh Hutcherson is the lead kid Sean, and Michael Caine plays Sean’s long-lost explorer grandfather. Luis Guzman is the comic relief, and Vanessa Hudgens is a love interest for Sean.

This international trailer gets a lot more serious, but doesn’t really improve the level of the effects. Which might not be a problem if the entire film wasn’t predicated on the idea of selling viewers a lost, incredible fantasy world. Check it out below. Read More »

One of the movies that kicked off the current wave of 3D films was Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D, which arrived more than a year before Avatar cemented 3D as the next big wave in theatrical technology. Now the sequel to that movie is finished, with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson stepping in for former lead Brendan Fraser. He plays the new stepfather to young adventurer Sean, once again played by Josh Hutcherson, and Michael Caine plays Sean’s long-lost explorer grandfather. Luis Guzman is the hapless, bungling comic relief, and Vanessa Hudgens plays his daughter, who naturally becomes the love interest for Sean.

Like the first film, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island looks like a pretty cheap affair. It is obviously made as easy family adventure, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But families and their kids now routinely watch stuff that looks a whole lot more well-crafted than this, so I wonder how people will respond. The best effect isn’t even a CGI dinosaur, but the Rock’s pecs.

Check the trailer below. Read More »

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson hasn’t exactly blown anyone away with his acting chops, but the guy who once got shot 9 (or was it 3? Either way) times and lived to tale the tale isn’t about to get scared off by a couple of negative reviews. He’s already got three films lined up for next year, and he’s just landed one more: Frozen Ground.

Written and directed by Scott Walker, the film is based on the true story of Alaskan serial killer Robert Hansen, who murdered at least 17 victims over the course of twelve years. Jackson will be playing an ’80s-era pimp, which producer Randall Emmett describes as a “substantial role.” He joins a cast that already includes John Cusack as Hansen, Nicolas Cage as a state trooper, and Vanessa Hudgens as the escaped victim who helps catch Hansen. Frozen Ground will begin shooting in Anchorage next month. [The Playlist]

After the jump, a WWE champ and a Breaking Bad star join Channing Tatum’s stripper movie, and The Last Exorcism star Ashley Bell lands two new roles, only one of which is a sequel to The Last Exorcism.

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Robert Zemeckis is preparing to make his live-action return with the film Flight, in which Denzel Washington will play a commercial pilot who safely lands a troubled flight, saving almost all aboard, but finds his own role in the flight’s trouble under investigation.

Now Kelly Reilly (Pride and Prejudice, Eden Lake, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) is in talks for the other lead role, “Nicole Devlin, a drug addict who is at rock bottom when she meets Whip,” with the latter character being Denzel’s role. The two characters find their friendship developing as they each deal with their personal demons. John Gatins wrote the script. [Deadline]

After the break, Olivia Wilde becomes the object of one man’s affection, and Vanessa Hudgens becomes another. Things definately don’t work out well for one of the two of them, however, and perhaps for both. Read More »

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After years of talk, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are finally making a film version of the ’60s supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows, and Warner Bros. has just given the film a plum date: it will open on May 11 2012. So one year from now, you’ll be able to join the argument over whether the film is the latest step for one of the most significant director/actor teams of the past two decades, or only another predictable product of Tim Burton’s well-documented idiosyncrasies. I have no idea what to expect out of the film, but the cast includes Helena Bonham Carter, Chloe Moretz, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jackie Earle Haley, which should be a lineup strong enough to convince even the Burton-averse to take a look.

After the break, info on releases for The Rock’s next movie, and a Will Ferrell/Zack Galifianakis pairing. Read More »

The indie drama Gimme Shelter will go into production at the end of this month in Connecticut, and it has Brendan Fraser set to star, with Vanessa Hudgens now likely appearing as well. Ron Krauss wrote and will direct; the film follows a pregnant homeless girl (Hudgens’ role) who “flees her abusive mother and seeks out her biological father. He first takes her in but then throws her out when she refuses to abort her child.”

The dad is Brendan Fraser, and it sounds like the sort of not so massively sympathetic role that he doesn’t often play. So that could be interesting. As a side note, I understand why the film is titled as it is, but at this point it is really time to leave certain Rolling Stones songs alone, and ‘Gimme Shelter’ is one of them. [THR]

After the break, Seth MacFarlane’s Ted gets one more, and Anthony Mackie might be in line for a couple big films. Read More »

It’s December 2009, and I’m in Vancouver Canada. Earlier this morning we saw the first press screening of James Cameron’s Avatar with an audience of Vancouver press and filmmakers which included District 9 director Neill Blomkamp. A few hours later, I’m standing in a green screen stage at Vancouver Film Studios. This is the production centre where a lot of sci-fi television series are filmed, shows such as Dark Angel, Smallville, Battlestar Galactica, Bionic Woman, Reaper, Caprica, Eureka, Fringe, Human Target and films such as X-Men II and 3, I Robot, Fantastic Four 1 and 2, The A-Team and 2012.

Zack Snyder filmed some of Watchmen on this lot, and has returned to Canada to shoot his latest — Sucker Punch.

Snyder even pushed our set visit back a couple hours so that we could attend that local screening of Avatar, allowing us the ability to see the movie at the same time as the press at the nationwide press screenings. The fact that Snyder was able to arrange this is mind-boggling for a bunch of different reasons, but especially considering studio politics — Avatar was being released by Fox and Sucker Punch was a Warner Bros production. And most other filmmakers probably would have said “Fuck Avatar”, not wanting to be out-done — how can your set visit possibly compete with a film which was billed as a cinema changing event? But that’s the kind of confident filmmaker Snyder has become.

A helicopter is situated about twenty feet above us, and Snyder is on a ladder talking to Jena Malone, one of the four main stars of the film. Jena Malone plays Rocket, beside her is Emily Browning, who plays Baby Doll, Abbie Cornish, who plays Sweet Pea, Vanessa Hudgens who plays Blondie and Jamie Chung who plays Amber. Snyder explains how the helicopter will bank to the left in the upcoming wide shot. Emily asks how far they’re jumping in the real world, and Zack quickly responds “About twenty feet” before stopping himself and laughing “What real world?”

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