Okay, so let it be known upfront that I’m a fan on Ben Wheatley. His filmography may be varied, and not every project is a hit, but by and large I know that when Ben Wheatley is directing a movie at the least that movie is going to be something interesting. Just take a look at this week’s Netflix release, a lavish retelling of the classic novel Rebecca, which was made famous by the Hitchcock movie.
While Wheatley’s Rebecca may, but like the new Mrs. de Winter herself, be forever stuck in the shadow of a superior former version, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. It leans further toward the melodrama than the Gothic, but Wheatley’s Lynchian approach to nightmares and dreamscapes is present throughout, and that’s something.
It’s no surprise then that I was curious when he was announced a few months back now as the director of Tomb Raider 2, a sequel to the 2018 big screen outing for everyone’s favorite video game archeologist that would see Alicia Vikander reprise her role as Lara Croft. It seemed a peculiar choice, there is no doubt about that, but Wheatley as a director does have form when it comes to spooky things from the ancient past. After all, what is folk horror if not an exploration of the long-forgotten world of old, and Kill List, A Field in England, and yes, even Sightseers, all have that sort of concept running through them.
But if you, like me, thought the Tomb Raider announcement was strange, well, you ain’t heard nothing yet. This week we learned that the director of High-Rise and Free Fire will be taking on another surprise sequel to a 2018 big-budget Hollywood blockbuster, and this time there seems to be even less that makes sense about it.
That’s right folks, Ben Wheatley, known for his blend of discomforting atmospheric horror and kitchen sink drama, will be taking on The Meg 2, in which, presumably, Jason Statham once again fights a giant shark. Full disclosure, I actually quite enjoyed The Meg, which makes this even more interesting to me.
Of course, it’s possible Wheatley might aim for a harder rating and more grisly violence than the first movie, directed by John Turtletaub, did, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Meg could benefit from being a bit less action-adventure and a bit more horror, so if the studios are willing to take a left-field choice like Ben Wheatley for director, then who’s to say they won’t go further than that.
Could The Meg become some kind of absurd and over-the-top action horror franchise like Alien? Are we about to see Jason Statham batter a giant shark to death with a hammer? Does it turn out there are prehistoric monster worshipping cults out there? Who knows? But whatever happens, this movie suddenly became one of the most fascinating up-coming projects out there.
And while we’re on the subject of massive mega-blockbusters that are way better than they have any right to be, this week Universal Pictures confirmed that they intend to wrap up the main Fast and the Furious franchise continuity with the one-two punch of F10 and F11.
Justin Lin, the man who is more or less responsible for the entire franchise as it currently stands, will return to direct both outings, and it’s assumed that he will be joined by returning cast members Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Chris “Ludicris” Bridges and Tyrees Gibson among others. Of course, we’re still waiting for F9, which would have been coming out this year, but due to the ongoing Coronavirus crisis has been rescheduled to a May 2021 release.
It’s important to note here that this announcement is only in relation to the main series, as there are currently still plans in place for a sequel to Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, which starred Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham (him again!) at some point in the not too distant future.
In 2017 Paramount Pictures attempt to kick start their own over-the-top action blockbuster franchise with a gritty reboot of the 90s children’s show Power Rangers. Poor box office takings and even poorer critical receptions meant that the franchise was dead pretty much after that first entry, but it would seem that studio isn’t entirely done with the concept.
Instead of producing a sequel though, the folks over at Paramount are intending to reboot the whole thing and start again, envisioning a connected series of films and television shows, sort of like Star Trek. Unfortunately, however, they have decided to let Alex Kurtzman carrying on destroying the classic sci-fi franchise, and have instead hired End of the F**king World and I Am Not Okay With This writer, Jonathan Entwistle, to shepherd the project.
What this will look like is anyone’s guess, but it makes sense that a more interconnected universe of film and television is the way forward now for the extended cinematic universe model, so I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more studios looking at properties that could potentially take up that mantle.
Speak of which, it looks like we’re getting yet another reboot of Battlestar Galactica as well! The last proper reboot of Battlestar Galactica was the 2004-2009 television series, which is pretty highly regarded in science-fiction crowds. This new take on the material, however, will be a movie reboot, and X-Men: Dark Phoenix scribe Simon Kinberg has been signed to write and produce the project.
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