Back to the future

From new releases in the Bond and Batman series to follow-ups to Blade Runner and Beetlejuice. 

Sequels to a number of classic films, plus new instalments in long-running movie franchises are on the horizon. Here's our pick of the crop.

Sequels

Blade Runner 2

British director Ridley Scott will make a follow-up to his 1982 cult classic, Blade Runner, arguably one of the finest sci-fi films ever made. Inspired by Philip K Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the original film was set in a dystopian Los Angeles in 2019. Humans have genetically engineered "replicants" who take on the human form but were designed to serve exclusively as labourers and entertainers. "Replicants" are illegal on earth and "blade runners" like Deckard (Harrison Ford) are employed to root out and kill them. The film combines stunningly surreal imagery with an atmospheric soundtrack. As well as being an impressive thriller, the film explores what it means to be human.

Producers Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove say: "It would be a gross understatement to say that we are elated Ridley Scott will shepherd this iconic story into a new, exciting direction ... This is a once in a lifetime project for us." Kosove added that filming could begin in 2013 at the earliest, with the film not being in cinemas until at least 2014.

Last year Ridley Scott directed Robin Hood and next year sees the release of Prometheus, an adventure film set in outer space. 

Beetlejuice

The writing and producing pair David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith are working on a sequel to Tim Burton's 1988 horror-comedy Beetlejuice.. The original was about a couple of ghosts, Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara Maitland (Geena Davis), who find that a family is moving into their new home. Their attempts to scare the family away fail because their eery ways become a money-making scheme. The ghost couple recruit Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) to help, but soon find him hard to control.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly Katzenberg and Grahame-Smith said that the film will not be a remake and will advance the plot of the original:

When Warner Bros. came to us about it, we said the only way we'd do it if we got Tim [Burton's] blessing and involvement, and we got that, and the star of the movie has to be Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice, and it's a true continuation 26 years later. Not just throwing him in as a cameo going, "Hey, it's me. I endorse this movie." We're not there yet [with Keaton] because we don't have a film to present to him.

Last year Keaton was the voice of Ken in the critically-acclaimed Toy Story 3 and played Captain Gene Mauch in Adam McKay's The Other Guys.

Tintin 2

The first person to direct three major films simultaneously, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson will direct Tintin 2 after The Hobbit. Anthony Horowitz, author of the popular Alex Rider spy novels series was hired last year as the writer for the project. Horowitz's script is likely to be based on an amalgamation of two adventures: Prisoners of the Sun and The Seven Crystal Balls and might be called The Adventures of Tintin: Prisoners of the Sun

The first film in the Tintin series is released this December, directed by Stephen Spielberg and produced by Jackson. The details of the third instalment are to be confirmed.

New instalments

Bond 23 "Skyfall"  

Following on from Quantum of Solace, shooting has begun for the the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall, which will be released in October 2012. Revelations about M's (Judi Dench) past test Bond's loyalty to her, and he must also protect MI6 from attack. The new Bond girl is Sévérine played by Bérénice Marlohe, a French television actor. The film's budget is rumoured to be £125m.

Director Sam Mendes talked about Skyfall at its launch in London: "I'm incredibly excited to be doing it and it has, I think, all the elements of a classic Bond movie including, to quell rumours, a lot of action and many other things too." he added that the action would "co-exist with the drama ... That's the balancing act to strike."

The Dark Knight Rises

Christian Bale is back as Batman in Christopher Nolan's last film in the series. Set for release on 20 July 2012, the film is currently in its post-production stage.The cast includes Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, Tom Hardy as the villanous Bane, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

From TV to film: Arrested Development

Five years since it was on television screens, the Emmy-award winning American sitcom Arrested Development will now become a film. Earlier this year, Arrested Development's creator Mitchell Hurwitz told Digital Spy that he was starting work on a feature film adaptation with co-writer Jim Valley. The film will follow the shooting of the long-awaited fourth season of the sitcom next summer. The film does not have a release date yet, although Hurwitz has said that its creative side is mostly already planned out.

Arrested Development focuses on the life of the formerly rich and dysfunctional Bluth family. The cast includes Jessica Walter, Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi and Michael Cera. Although the sitcom never achieved especially high ratings, it attracted a strongly devoted fanbase. The sitcom is so funny that the viewer hardly has time to laugh at all of the jokes and its return is very welcome.

BBC
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Would the BBC's Nazi drama SS-GB have felt half so resonant a year ago?

This alternate history is freighted with meaning now we're facing the wurst-case scenario. 

Would SS-GB have felt half so resonant a year ago? Though the clever-after-the-fact Nostradamus types out there might disagree, I can’t believe that it would. When it comes to the Second World War, after all, the present has helpfully stepped in where memory is just beginning to leave off. The EU, in the process of fragmenting, is now more than ever powerless to act in the matter of rogue states, even among its own membership. In case you hadn’t noticed, Hungary, for instance, is already operating as a kind of proto-fascist state, led by Viktor Orbán, a man whom Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, jokingly likes to call “the dictator” – and where it goes, doubtless others will soon follow.

The series (Sundays, 9pm), adapted from Len Deighton’s novel, is set in 1941 in a Britain under Nazi occupation; Winston Churchill has been executed and the resistance is struggling to hold on to its last strongholds in the countryside. Sam Riley plays Douglas Archer, a detective at Scotland Yard, now under the control of the SS, and a character who appears in almost every scene. Riley has, for an actor, a somewhat unexpressive face, beautiful but unreadable. Here, however, his downturned mouth and impassive cheekbones are perfect: Archer, after all, operates (by which I mean, barely operates) in a world in which no one wants to give their true feelings away, whether to their landlady, their lover, or their boss, newly arrived from Himmler’s office and as Protestant as all hell (he hasn’t used the word “degenerate” yet, but he will, he will).

Archer is, of course, an ambiguous figure, neither (at present) a member of the resistance nor (we gather) a fully committed collaborator. He is – or so he tells himself – merely doing his job, biding his time until those braver or more foolhardy do something to restore the old order. Widowed, he has a small boy to bring up. Yet how long he can inhabit this dubious middle ground remains to be seen. Oskar Huth (Lars Eidinger), the new boss, is keen to finish off the resistance; the resistance, in turn, is determined to persuade Archer to join its cause.

It’s hard to find fault with the series; for the next month, I am going to look forward to Sunday nights mightily. I would, I suppose, have hoped for a slightly more charismatic actress than Kate Bosworth to play Barbara Barga, the American journalist who may or may not be involved with the British resistance. But everything else seems pretty perfect to me. London looks suitably dirty and its inhabitants’ meals suitably exiguous. Happiness is an extra egg for tea, smoking is practically a profession, and
the likes of Archer wear thick, white vests.

Swastikas adorn everything from the Palace of Westminster to Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace is half ruined, a memorial to what the Germans regard as Churchill’s folly, and the CGI is good enough for the sight of all these things to induce your heart to ache briefly. Nazi brutality is depicted here as almost quotidian – and doubtless it once was to some. Huth’s determination to have four new telephone lines installed in his office within the hour is at one end of this horrible ordinariness. At the other is the box in which Archer’s mutinous secretary Sylvia (Maeve Dermody) furiously stubs out her fag, full to the brim with yellow stars.

When I first heard about The Kettering Incident (Tuesdays, 12.20am; repeated Wednesdays, 10pm) I thought someone must have found out about that thing that happened one time I was driving north on the M1 with a more-than-usually terrible hangover. Turns out it’s a new Australian drama, which comes to us on Sky Atlantic. Anna (Elizabeth Debicki), a doctor working in London, pitches up back in Tasmania many years after her teenage friend Gillian disappeared into its Kettering forest, having seen a load of mysterious bright lights. Was Gillian abducted by aliens or was she, as some local people believe, murdered by Anna? To be honest, she could be working as a roadie for Kylie, for all I care. This ponderous, derivative show is what happens when a writer sacrifices character on the altar of plot. The more the plot thickens, the more jaw-achingly tedious it becomes.

Rachel Cooke trained as a reporter on The Sunday Times. She is now a writer at The Observer. In the 2006 British Press Awards, she was named Interviewer of the Year.

This article first appeared in the 24 February 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The world after Brexit