Wonka, Thor, Damon: Weekly Round Up – For some reason I have never been able to quite fathom, Hollywood has something of an obsession with prequels. Now, I’m not saying that there is necessarily anything wrong with the concept of a prequel, just that sometimes certain properties simply don’t need an expanded, in-depth backstory. Star Wars never needed episodes 1, 2, and 3, for example, while Alien didn’t need either a Prometheus or an Alien: Covenant, and I think the less we say about the Harry Potter world’s Fantastic Beasts franchise the better. That is, of course, not to say that there haven’t been times when the prequel approach has worked, but more often than not it seems it doesn’t.
The reasons for this are undoubtedly more complex than I can go into here, but most of the time it would appear, to me at least, that the problem is simply that we just don’t need to know. When a story is crafted, often the writer or writers will put whatever information is needed into their work – this way it makes sense for the audience – and as a result the “back story”, if you want to call it that, is kind of already dealt with. Oftentimes prequels suffer from the need to reach an inevitable conclusion since they must, of course, ultimately line up with what came before. The times that prequels in Hollywood have worked are few and far between – in fact, Planet of the Apes seems to be the only real example that sticks out to me, although I’m sure there are some out there who would argue for Maleficent or Rogue One – and when they have worked it tends to be because of a radically new interpretation of the material or building the inevitable outcome into a sort of tragic endpoint.
With that in mind, it is with great frustration and irritation that I bring you this week’s top story; that Warner Brothers are now in the process of developing a prequel to the Roald Dahl classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
There have, of course, been two versions of the book already brought to the screen, the classic Gene Wilder film, and the divisive Tim Burton take, but regardless of where you sit on the, er, Wonka-fence, I think we can all come together in some sort of agreement in that we kind of don’t need to know what Willy Wonka, chocolate extraordinaire, was like in his younger years. As a character, he doesn’t work when thrust to the center of the story anyway… I mean, we saw that well enough with Johnny Depp’s take, didn’t we?
The film will reportedly be titled simply “Wonka” (which is fucking hilarious when you’re a kid in the UK, let me tell you) and will be directed by Paddington and Paddington 2’s Paul King. Now, King’s involvement, admittedly, pricked my ears a little. While I remain skeptical about the whole prospect, I do feel the need to remind myself of how I felt when I first saw the trailers for Paddington, as well. So, yeah. I’ve been proved wrong before and would be happy to be proved wrong again. Still, I think this is something of an uphill battle for King and the folks at Warner Bros. since, other than King’s involvement, everything else about the project does seem to scream – for me at least – generic studio bullshit.
“Wonka” will focus on the title character’s discovery of Oompa-Loompas and detail just how he became the owner of the world’s most famous chocolate factory. And if that didn’t have you sort of squirming in your seat already, the studio is reportedly eyeing up either Spider-Man himself, Tom Holland, or Timothee Chalamet for the role.
Still, it’s not all depressingly predictable news this week. As I’ve mentioned before in this roundup, I’m something of a Guy Ritchie fan, and while I await the release of his latest crime thriller, Wrath of Man, which sees him reteam with Jason Statham, I am also eagerly lapping up news of his next project, a spy thriller titled Five Eyes, which will reportedly also star Jason Statham, who will be appearing opposite American actress Aubrey Plaza.
Well, this week we got some new news from the work of Five Eyes in the form of a couple of new cast members, themselves reuniting with the director. The first up is Josh Hartnett, who appears in Wrath of Man, while the other is Hugh Grant, who is returning to work with Ritchie after appearing in last year’s The Gentlemen. For me, this news is doubly exciting, because I do quite like Hartnett as an actor, and it’s good to see him doing stuff like this, while Grant’s transformation from rom-com fav to intriguing character actor has been a joy to watch, so I can’t wait to see where he takes us next.
Our final story this week concerns the MCU and specifically the latest outing for Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. The film, titled Thor: Love and Thunder, seems Hemsworth reteam with Ragnarok director Taika Waititi. It will also star Tessa Thompson, Jaimie Alexander, Christian Bale as the villain of the piece, Gorr the God Butcher, and Chris Pratt, reprising his role as Star-Lord from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.
Perhaps the most interesting cast member, though, is Natalie Portman, who is returning to the series after creative differences saw her split from Marvel. Portman and Hemsworth aren’t the only stars from previous movies to return though, as this week we learned that Matt Damon will also be back.
For those of you who don’t know, Matt Damon made a brief appearance in Thor: Ragnarok as the actor playing Loki in an Asgardian production of that film’s predecessor, Thor: The Dark World. The scene was played as a little cameo joke, but it would seem that Damon is appearing in a more substantial role in Love and Thunder, as he is reportedly quoted as saying that he will be filming in Australia for “the next few months”.
What his role in the film will be is anyone’s guess, but it is somewhat intriguing since Matt Damon remains one of the only major actors currently working not to have made a substantial appearance in a superhero film, so… yeah. Watch this space.
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