Ben Wheatley, Brilliance, Halloween: Weekly Round Up

Ben Wheatley

Ben Wheatley, Brilliance, Halloween: Weekly Round Up – Oh my God! This week we have… well, we actually have interesting, fascinating, exciting, bizarre and intriguing news. For the first time in, truthfully I’m not sure when, two worlds collide, and the original filmmaking I champion is finally crashing into the mainstream in the form of none other than Ben Wheatley. Because Ben Wheatley is directing Tomb Raider 2. That’s right! Ben Wheatley.

For those of you who don’t know, Ben Wheatley is the man behind such cult classics as Kill List, Sighseers, A Field in England, High Rise and Free Fire. He’s UK based, and his films are always interesting, well made, and strange. Often called the British David Lynch, Wheatley is more than that, and he has fast become one of my favorite filmmakers currently working.

Tomb Raider, meanwhile, is the now iconic video game franchise featuring Lara Croft. Two lackluster adaptations starring Angelina Jolie were released in the early 2000s, and while they were fun, they lacked anything in the way of… well, anything, really. Last year saw a movie reboot starring everyone’s favorite robot Alicia Vikander. The reboot seemed to do okay but also basically disappear from all existence one it had done it’s cinema run.

Apparently, it did better than I thought, as the sequel is on the way, and with the British director at the helm.

Quite what this will wind up being is anyone’s guess, but consider me absolutely, completely fascinated. The 2018 movie was pretty dull, to be honest, and while it certainly had more to offer than the earlier attempts at a movie franchise, it still failed to really live up to the promise of the premise. I came away from it wondering what someone like Christopher Nolan might to for the franchise, but I certainly wasn’t expecting Ben Wheatley.

Whatever it is that attracted Wheatley to the project and convinced the studio heads to give him what will be his first mainstream blockbuster, I have no idea. But many are speculating this will be a challenger to Marvel’s 2021 release Shang-Chi, and I can tell you know I know Tomb Raider “ will definitely be top of my list… Ben f**king Wheatley!

Speaking of weird, interesting indie voices who suddenly go and make mainstream blockbusters, Guillermo del Toro’s new movie, Nightmare Alley, a remake of the 1947 carnival thriller of the same name, continues to become one of my most anticipated movies of next year.

We already know that both Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett will be appearing in the film, as they both signed on relatively soon after the project was announced, but this week we got the news that Rooney Mara will also be joining the cast. Mara is always an interesting screen presence, so I’m curious to see what she brings to what is already a pretty impressive cast.

Will Smith has been out of favor recently. After a string of bad films (you guys remember Bright? Yeah? And we thought Suicide Squad was bad!) the star looks a long way from his early days as the headliner of such cool, unique and genuinely well made family blockbusters as Men in Black and Independence Day. But all of that could change, as the Fresh Prince looks set to tackle superheroes once again (God, wasn’t Suicide Squad just terrible?) with Paramount Studios upcoming adaptation of Marcus Sakey’s Brilliance.

Telling the story of young people born with special abilities, Brilliance could fill the void left behind after Disney’s acquisition of Fox and subsequent failure to announcement the X-Men as part of Marvel’s Phase 4 line-up means that that particular franchise seems dead in the water. And when I first read about this, I thought it sounded like it could be something interesting for Smith to take on.

Unfortunately, it’s being written by Akiva Goldman, who is the screenwriter behind Batman & Robin, Jonah Hex and The Losers…

The Losers was fun, I guess? I don’t know. Anyway, I’ll hold true judgement until I see the movie, but that doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence, so maybe there will be no change, and this’ll just be yet another addition to the long line of Will Smith’s could-have-be-great-but-was-actually-terrible recent filmography.

Last, but not least, this week; as if the Halloween franchise couldn’t get any more confusing, now we have strange casting inconsistences to contend with. 2018’s Halloween chose to ignore the entirety of the franchise other than John Carpenter’s original. It saw Jaimie Lee Curtis return as Laurie Strode, to face off against her arch nemesis (something that makes no sense when you ignore Halloween II, but that’s a rant for another day) Michael Myers.

Now, we already now that the two terribly title sequels to 2018’s Halloween, Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends (seriously, guys… come up with better titles), will be shot back-to-back, and will see Curtis return alongside Judy Greer, who played her daughter. This week, we also learned that two other characters will be returning.

Firstly, we’ve got Lindsay Wallace, one of the two children Laurie and Nancy were babysitting in the original movie, who was played by Kyle Richards. She’ll be reprising her role in the upcoming movies.

It’s not surprise that the other returning character is Tommy Doyle, the young boy who was being babysat in the original. Played by Brian Andrews in Carpenter’s film, Doyle returned to the series in the form of a very young Paul Rudd in 1995’s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. Confusingly, neither Andrews or Rudd are retuning to the role this time around, and the part will instead be played by Anthony Michael Hall, who we all know from the likes of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Weird Science. 

The whole franchise has become so convoluted and strange at this point that weird inconsistencies like this don’t even bother me anymore. Let’s just hope the movies are good, right? Maybe the could hire Ben Wheatley?

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Alex Secker is a writer/director/editor. His debut feature film, the micro-budget thriller Follow the Crows, won Best Independent Film at the Global Film Festival Awards, while his stage-play, The Door, won the People’s Choice Award at the 2017 Swinge Festival.


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