Is Covid-19 Saving ‘The New Mutants’ from the Jaws of Failure?

Filmed in the summer of 2017, the first trailer for this Marvel comics movie in the universe of the X-Men came out in October 2017 with a theatrical release date set for April 2018. This was then pushed back, not once, not twice, not even thrice, but at least four times! 

The Fox/Disney merger caused huge uncertainty with a number of projects that were in early stages of production but as this was essentially finished already and undergoing some reshoots it seemed to be shelved for a while, surprising many when it did get a new cinematic release scheduled under the Disney ownership. All seemed positive for it to come out in April until the COVID-19 pandemic pushed all movie releases back, making this a punchline and declared ‘cursed’ by critics and pundits. 

Disney announced this week that they’re pushing everything else on their schedule back again, most imminent of these was ‘Mulan’. It wouldn’t have been surprising then for this to be included in the list of films getting new release dates, though as it’s already been pushed so many times it seemed like it would be taken off the release schedule altogether and instead just go to streaming, but, as it’s not a good fit for Disney+, Hulu isn’t international, and pre-existing agreements seem to suggest it would have to go to initially HBO Max (also not international) as an exclusive streaming platform.

With the ComicCon panel online sparking rumours it was about to have a new date (the same day Disney moved a bunch of other titles to new dates) or be dropped on streaming, which would’ve been a great way to do it if that was what they were going to do, in the end, the panel brought neither. So, when the perfect opportunity to move or release the movie passes with nothing changing, ‘New Mutants’ now stands as one of the very first new wide releases on the schedule and by far the best known.

That leaves us with two possibilities. One, it’s about to be moved back yet again but Disney didn’t take the prime opportunity to announce that. Or two, something that could be sheer brilliance, ‘The New Mutants’ is going to get released as scheduled on August 28th, becoming one of the first new movies in cinemas in months.

Recently there have been other films proudly announcing that they were going to be deliberately releasing as one of the first new wide-releases, some suggesting they were doing it altruistically to benefit cinemas, others admitting they hoped to boost their box office chances. ‘The New Mutants’ wasn’t seen as one of those, it was caught up as a victim of the international cinema closures, yet now, by apparently holding to the once merely optimistic August date, it may give Disney an opportunity to turn a long-shelved, almost scrapped, troubled production, into at least a modest box-office success.

Marketing the movie with a stronger emphasis on its X-Men ties, a young cast popular from ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Game of Thrones’, even highlighting the director’s huge success with ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, could tempt people, especially those who are not in the older, vulnerable groups, back out to cinemas. 

When it looked like the film was being shelved and reworked, this seemed unlikely to get people into even a quarter of the seats in cinema screens, now, after there have been next to no new films released for nearly half a year, this has a really good chance of filling every available seat in many cinemas. Being as it was a film that might have originally been put into just one or two of the smaller screens with a few slots per day, it’ll now get a far bigger release than even the last X-Men film, potentially taking half, or more if popular, of the empty screens. What a potential turnaround. 

I’m hoping this actually is Disney’s plan, if so it’s a brilliant one, though I’ve got to resign myself to the more likely scenario that it’s either about to be rescheduled or reshelved yet again. I hope not, because I’m not the only one who has gone from originally only going to see this at the cinema if I heard really excellent reviews and found myself with some spare time and money, to planning to see it at my earliest possible convenience because I’m desperate to get back to seeing things at the cinema and a weird psychedelic super-powered horror could be just the ticket!

Golden Globes 2020: My predictions, a few thoughts and printable PDF ballot

Here are my predictions (first and second choice indicated) and a few thoughts especially on the few things I’ve actually seen so far. The winners will be announced on Sunday, January 5th 2020. Here’s my printable ballot sheet for you to make your own predictions.

The full list of nominees for the 77th Golden Globes are:

BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA

1917
1. THE IRISHMAN – Seems to almost definitely be the frontrunner here, though Scorsese hasn’t endeared himself very well recently, which could work against him.
2. JOKER – Could possibly take it as the critical reception was overwhelmingly positive.
MARRIAGE STORY
THE TWO POPES

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA

CYNTHIA ERIVO – HARRIET
2. SCARLETT JOHANSSON – MARRIAGE STORY
SAOIRSE RONAN – LITTLE WOMEN
CHARLIZE THERON – BOMBSHELL
1. RENÉE ZELLWEGER – JUDY

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA

CHRISTIAN BALE – FORD V FERRARI
ANTONIO BANDERAS – PAIN AND GLORY
2. ADAM DRIVER – MARRIAGE STORY
1. JOAQUIN PHOENIX – JOKER – Is this even in need of debating? He’s a great actor, people were blown away by this performance, it’s near enough a lock.
JONATHAN PRYCE – THE TWO POPES

BEST MOTION PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY

DOLEMITE IS MY NAME
2. JOJO RABBIT – I’m really looking forward to seeing this very soon, it looks wonderful and may manage a surprise win.
KNIVES OUT
1. ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD – Obvious choice which has divided critics a little though not enough to make it an underdog.
ROCKETMAN

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY

2. ANA DE ARMAS – KNIVES OUT
1. AWKWAFINA – THE FAREWELL – One of the few I’ve seen so far and it’s brilliant. She’s wonderful, this should be an easy win.
CATE BLANCHETT – WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE
BEANIE FELDSTEIN – BOOKSMART
EMMA THOMPSON – LATE NIGHT

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY

DANIEL CRAIG – KNIVES OUT
ROMAN GRIFFIN DAVIS – JOJO RABBIT
1. LEONARDO DICAPRIO – ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD
2. TARON EGERTON – ROCKETMAN – He’s local, would be nice to see him win, but I think as attention-grabbing as this role is, it’s potentially overshadowed by some of the other nominees.
EDDIE MURPHY – DOLEMITE IS MY NAME – Had some buzz before release but once it was out I heard very little about it and no buzz or praise has lingered so I doubt it’s win-worthy.

BEST MOTION PICTURE – ANIMATED

2. FROZEN 2 – Seems like an obvious choice, maybe too obvious and too soon.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD
THE LION KING – Really beautiful visual work, but it added nothing of value to the story, so very unlikely to win.
MISSING LINK
1. TOY STORY 4 – The Toy Story films have been infallible, this had a high risk of disappointing, yet it didn’t, so I think may clinch a win out of relief and enduring affection.

BEST MOTION PICTURE – FOREIGN LANGUAGE

2. THE FAREWELL (USA) – Not going to win, sorry, the winner is as good as set.
LES MISÉRABLES (FRANCE)
PAIN AND GLORY (SPAIN)
1. PARASITE (SOUTH KOREA) – Clear winner, it’s dominating the conversations about foreign language films recently.
PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE (FRANCE)

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN ANY MOTION PICTURE

KATHY BATES – RICHARD JEWELL
ANNETTE BENING – THE REPORT
2. LAURA DERN – MARRIAGE STORY
1. JENNIFER LOPEZ – HUSTLERS – There was a lot of buzz about this, though it’s not nominated otherwise, so this may be a win to show a general sense of support for a film that only narrowly missed out.
MARGOT ROBBIE – BOMBSHELL

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN ANY MOTION PICTURE

TOM HANKS – A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
ANTHONY HOPKINS – THE TWO POPES
2. AL PACINO – THE IRISHMAN
JOE PESCI – THE IRISHMAN
1. BRAD PITT – ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD

BEST DIRECTOR – MOTION PICTURE 

1. BONG JOON HO – PARASITE – I just have a hunch that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will exercise the foreign aspect of their organisation, going for someone who might otherwise be overlooked.
SAM MENDES – 1917
TODD PHILLIPS – JOKER
2. MARTIN SCORSESE – THE IRISHMAN – He’s not endeared himself in the industry recently with some critical comments that suggest some insensitivity to audiences and the current state of cinema and the changing nature of distribution.
QUENTIN TARANTINO – ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD

BEST SCREENPLAY – MOTION PICTURE

1. NOAH BAUMBACH – MARRIAGE STORY
BONG JOON HO, HAN JIN WON – PARASITE
ANTHONY MCCARTEN – THE TWO POPES
2. QUENTIN TARANTINO – ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD
STEVEN ZAILLIAN – THE IRISHMAN

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – MOTION PICTURE

ALEXANDRE DESPLAT – LITTLE WOMEN
2. HILDUR GUÖNADÓTTIR – JOKER
RANDY NEWMAN – MARRIAGE STORY
1. THOMAS NEWMAN – 1917
DANIEL PEMBERTON – MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – MOTION PICTURE

“BEAUTIFUL GHOSTS” — CATS – I can’t see anyone wanting to give Cats an award for anything.
2. “I’M GONNA LOVE ME AGAIN” — ROCKETMAN
1. “INTO THE UNKNOWN” — FROZEN 2 – Seems most likely.
“SPIRIT” — THE LION KING
“STAND UP” — HARRIET

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA

BIG LITTLE LIES
THE CROWN
KILLING EVE
2. THE MORNING SHOW
1. SUCCESSION

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA

2. JENNIFER ANISTON – THE MORNING SHOW
1. OLIVIA COLMAN – THE CROWN
JODIE COMER – KILLING EVE
NICOLE KIDMAN – BIG LITTLE LIES
REESE WITHERSPOON – THE MORNING SHOW

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA

1. BRIAN COX – SUCCESSION
KIT HARINGTON – GAME OF THRONES
RAMI MALEK – MR. ROBOT
TOBIAS MENZIES – THE CROWN
2. BILLY PORTER – POSE

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – MUSICAL OR COMEDY

BARRY
1. FLEABAG
THE KOMINSKY METHOD
2. THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL – The only one I’ve actually seen in this category, consistently good, maybe not at its very best this last season, however.
THE POLITICIAN

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES – MUSICAL OR COMEDY

CHRISTINA APPLEGATE – DEAD TO ME
2. RACHEL BROSNAHAN – THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL
KIRSTEN DUNST – ON BECOMING A GOD IN CENTRAL FLORIDA
NATASHA LYONNE – RUSSIAN DOLL
1. PHOEBE WALLER-BRIDGE – FLEABAG

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – MUSICAL OR COMEDY

MICHAEL DOUGLAS – THE KOMINSKY METHOD
1. BILL HADER – BARRY
BEN PLATT – THE POLITICIAN
2. PAUL RUDD – LIVING WITH YOURSELF – I really loved this show, it had some great ideas and developed them very well indeed, plus Rudd pulls a double shift so is rightly included in this category.
RAMY YOUSSEF – RAMY

BEST TELEVISION LIMITED SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

CATCH-22
1. CHERNOBYL – I think this could, and should, sweep the awards for which it’s nominated.
FOSSE/VERDON
THE LOUDEST VOICE
2. UNBELIEVABLE

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR A MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

KAITLYN DEVER – UNBELIEVABLE
JOEY KING – THE ACT
HELEN MIRREN – CATHERINE THE GREAT
2. MERRITT WEVER – UNBELIEVABLE
1. MICHELLE WILLIAMS – FOSSE/VERDON

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR A MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

CHRISTOPHER ABBOTT – CATCH-22
SACHA BARON COHEN – THE SPY
RUSSELL CROWE – THE LOUDEST VOICE
1. JARED HARRIS – CHERNOBYL – Superb throughout, it was compelling and he anchored the whole series, a clear winner to me.
2. SAM ROCKWELL – FOSSE/VERDON

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, LIMITED SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

PATRICIA ARQUETTE – THE ACT
1. HELENA BONHAM CARTER – THE CROWN
TONI COLLETTE – UNBELIEVABLE
2. MERYL STREEP – BIG LITTLE LIES
EMILY WATSON – CHERNOBYL

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, LIMITED SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

ALAN ARKIN – THE KOMINSKY METHOD
2. KIERAN CULKIN – SUCCESSION
1. ANDREW SCOTT – FLEABAG
STELLAN SKARSGÅRD – CHERNOBYL
HENRY WINKLER – BARRY

The Odd Futility of ‘Once Upon A Deadpool’

Fox pulled a bit of a surprise out of the bag when they announced in September that there would be an ‘Untitled Deadpool Movie’ released in December 2018, just 7 months after the success of ‘Deadpool 2’.

It transpired that this shock mystery release is a new ‘family friendly’ edit of ‘Deadpool 2’, with about 20 minutes of added scenes. Shamelessly edited to obtain a franchise-low rating of PG-13 in the U.S. so it can capitalize on a slightly younger audience that hadn’t previously been able to see it in theaters. With needed cuts that all-important target was obtained.

However, here in the U.K. both ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Deadpool 2’ were rated 15 (for clarity here that means nobody under 15 will be admitted regardless of if they have an older guardian accompanying them). Therefore the nearest equivalent rating here in the U.K. would be a 12A, which allows 12’s and above to see it unaccompanied, while under 12’s can also see the movie if accompanied by an adult.

The ‘family friendly’ re-edit ‘Once Upon A Deadpool’ has been given its U.K. rating by the BBFC and it’s… a 15!

That means with all the edits, cutting out enough to placate the U.S. rating board the MPAA, they’ve not changed it in any meaningful way in the eyes of the BBFC.

There’s a clear and simple reason for this. Though the marketing has said that no ‘Fs’ will be given in ‘Once Upon A Deadpool’, meaning we know that the most offensive language has been removed, this was never the biggest hurdle for it’s U.K. classification.

Violence seems to be the most obvious explanation. U.S. audiences are far less concerned by that in their PG-13 movies than U.K. audiences are. So while the re-edited movie may be less rude and crude than before, it’s no less violent, something we care about on this side of the pond, especially when it comes to what children see.

I am fascinated by what Fox has done here, making two edits of a film to capitalize on a larger audience, and while others may hate it (especially when it comes to a character like Deadpool), I’d not be against having an option of edits for some films, especially in this genre I’m so fond of. Whether this is a one-off oddity or a new trend will largely depend on box-office success, something that will be clear in a few days time once the numbers for the U.K. and U.S. are released. 

I do think it will be a success in the U.S. and I think it will have a little success in the U.K. with fans who saw ‘Deadpool 2’ and now want to see the 20 minutes of new footage and are interested to see what else has changed. If the violence had been largely cut, I think we would be looking at a far larger success story on this side of the Atlantic as teens want something to go see with their friends as they enter the school holidays. 

Nevertheless, if it is to become a new technique used by studios to widen their audience, they might want to refine it a little, taking into consideration some international variations that would make a huge difference in overseas markets. All the work of re-editing and drastically changing a film to theatrically release it for a younger audience, seems like a lot of work for a limited reward if it only makes a discernable difference to the American theatres. 

Wonder Woman and her Enduring Love (Potential Spoilers)

UPDATE: Looks like I have a shot at being right as Chris Pine’s return has been officially confirmed for ‘Wonder Woman 1984’

Would you look at that! ‘Wonder Woman‘ has done far better than anyone expected. After the DCEU’s preceding films ‘Batman v. Superman‘ and ‘Suicide Squad’ were such disappointments and widely derided as soon as the initial fervour waned, expectations for Diana’s solo opener were considerably lowered, something I felt the effect of. It’s weirdly pleasing then to see how it has broken records weekly, probably becoming the most successful film of the new DCEU and still going strong at the box office in many places, as well as being the highest-grossing film ever by a female director.

It’s no surprise then to see that ‘Wonder Woman 2’ has already been confirmed, potentially able to overtake the production of another ‘Man of Steel’ movie, likely the troubled ‘The Flash’ solo movie, maybe even ‘The Batman’ if that continues to have issues. One reason I and others want to see another film with this character and by the same creative team is the vastly-improved tone, as ‘Wonder Woman’ brings a sense of fun and joy to the DCEU that has been missing for years, including a romance that’s actually believable. For more extensive thoughts on this read my spoiler-free review here.

There will be spoilers for ‘Wonder Woman’ from this point on, so if you haven’t yet seen the film and don’t want key points spoilt maybe read the rest of this after you’ve seen it. 

As discussion began on the sequel, rumours surfaced that Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) may be set to return in the second movie. This may surprise you as 1) he ostensibly died at the end, you can’t have missed that, it was big! And 2) the second film is (possibly) being set in the 80’s so if living he would be pretty old. Not blessed with her magical genes, he won’t age as gracefully as Diana, so theoretically he would be a nonagenarian beset by all the human ails that go along with such advanced years.

So, how could his return work?

I have a few interesting thoughts that are not ‘spoilers’ per-se as I have not based them on any comic book basis (that I know of as I haven’t read any of them). Well, in my full review of the film I tried very hard to avoid drawing comparisons with ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ as many had already done, but I think there may be some ways the writers could resolve this issue by drawing upon (read ‘copying’) ways that franchise has kept characters alive despite all attempts to kill them and the large jump in time.

Firstly, the Wonder Woman TV show in the 70s had Steve Trevor Jr. so that’s a possible option to give Pine a way in. It would be weird, weirder than Captain America dating Peggy’s great-niece, yet completely possible. However, the film offered no real solid reason to think Steve had a child. There are a few comments about him never marrying (at least not successfully), maybe hinting he had a past love, though I’d say it’s a real stretch to take these few lines and see an underlying sub-text suggesting he has a son.

The second most likely way we might see Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is with a flashback scene of some sort. I have no idea what this would be about or how it would fit into the story, maybe something to explain the existence of a son so that Jr. can be introduced.

For me, there’s a more interesting option, one that the film does leave just enough room for in the narrative and editing of Steve’s death (we don’t see him engulfed in flames up close, possibly as it would change the rating). Dr Moreau and Ludendorff filled that plane (we believe) with their deadly gas, though we know she also had another concoction, the strength-enhancing vials she gives her mentor. What if, the plane had the deadly gas and/or that completely different substance?

Imagine these scenarios for a moment. If Steve had even just some of the good stuff and made use of it before being engulfed in a fireball, maybe it would be just enough to give him the resilience to survive the flames and fall. True, that would then raise the question why he didn’t make his way back to Diana by the end of the historical part of the film, or the actual end of the film (which is decades later and plenty time even on foot to find her).

However, let’s go even more into the ‘Captain America’ comparison with an unlikely extensive ripping off of the ‘Winter Soldier’. Imagine the plane was being filled with the strength-enhancer instead of the deadly gas. In which case, when it exploded, Steve would have been engulfed in an intense extreme overdose, in comic book and superhero tropes (just think of any heroes created by a chemical spillage) enough to make him invincible, near immortal, likely even slowing the effects of ageing. However, I’ve learnt in my extensive study of the genre that these powers can take a little time to have an effect, sometimes making their recipient unwell or even unconscious for a time. Therefore it would incapacitate Steve, making him vulnerable to amnesia, capture, brainwashing, all the usual features that allow for massive plot twists many years in the future.

Surely they won’t do this with ‘Wonder Woman 2’, after the many and clear similarities to ‘Captain America’ it would just be asking for more unfavourable comparisons, and pretty unoriginal. Though we must remember, in this world of comics almost anything is possible and beloved characters almost never truly die. If they want to repeat the much-prasied chemistry, the writers will find a way!