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.

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Why the class of '94 still rules British poetry

The message of the 1990s generation - that seeing clearly is not as simple as we think - comes across powerfully in four new collections.

In 1994, the “New Generation” of poets was intent on bringing about one of those shifts that periodically redefine a culture. Twenty-odd years later, we can see that, imperfect though the project may have been, the baby boomers did change the face of British poetry. The class of ’94 still dominates the field, as this quartet of fine books demonstrates.

Of the four poets under review – one each from the remaining big trade poetry publishers – it is Kathleen Jamie who has arguably shifted ground the most over the decades. She is now equally well known for her insightful, evocative prose about the Scottish environment, in Findings and Sightlines. Like her prize-winning previous collection, The Overhaul, The Bonniest Companie is alive to every detail of plant and creature. Though they also capture skies, stones and animals, its (mostly short) poems work a little like a herbarium, storing these details for us to examine “a rock-pipit’s seed-small notes”, or “every fairmer’s fenceposts/splashed with gold”.

But the excitement of The Bonniest Companie comes in the concentration of its language and the way that concentration reveals its author’s fierce focus. The inclusion by anglophone Scots of entirely Scots poems in English-language books is a contemporary cliché and can be rebarbative. By contrast, Jamie reinvigorates poetic language, using dialect and loanwords alongside standard English to create vivid, springy textures. Colloquial compressions add to the bouncing, tight rhythms. Stepped lines compress the springs yet further.

None of this is drily technical: this joyous book re-creates the livingness it observes. A poem such as “Migratory III” feels tossed and slung between the line ends:

Those swans out there at the centre

of the loch

a dozen or thirteen

moored close together, none adrift –

they’ve only just arrived

an arrow-true, close-flocked,

ocean-crossing skein . . .

If Jamie has broken through to a new and distinct form of northern lyric, her compatriot Don Paterson deepens a long-term project in his 40 Sonnets. In recent books, he has variously translated, written about and anthologised the form. He is a master of strict formal verse, and his virtuoso touch has always embraced both humour and moving metaphysical reflection, as it does again here. The collection includes comic monologue, an onomatopoeic record of white noise, homage, love poetry and elegy.

Most of the 40 poems are in iambic pentameter. This is no longer the automatic choice for the sonnet form, as Paterson knows better than most. Elsewhere, beyond the sonnet, pentameter seems a natural fit for the diction of certain contemporary poets (such as Tony Harrison or Sean O’Brien) who have a particular kind of lapidary authority. For Paterson’s quicksilver intelligence, iambic pentameter provides a less “natural”, more audible music: the form adds to and changes the poem, not only as it is being written but for the reader. We hear and rehear its effects and the well-known sonnets of history echo in Paterson’s poems:

The body is at home in time and space

and loves things, how they come and go,

and such

distances as it might cross or place

between the things it loves and its

own touch.

Characteristically criss-crossed with a metaphysical thought that is also a spatial metaphor, this is an extract from “Souls”, one of several sonnets here that will surely soon enter the anthologies.

Sarah Maguire’s Almost the Equinox is itself an anthology. This generous volume, at almost 150 pages long, interleaves work from her four collections, eschewing the conventional chronological treatment. In its new and satisfying whole, we trace recurring themes. Each of three consecutive poems called “Psoriasis” is taken from a different collection. Connections are often tonal and emotional: a Tunisian migrant’s story juxtaposed with a Warsaw childhood juxtaposed with Ramallah create what Maguire calls “the soft cry of crossed songs”.

She observes the physical world and the definitive failure of human choices with equal clarity. Her tone can be wry: “Your abandoned bottle of Russkaya vodka lies in my icebox,/Cold as a gun . . .” After a while, though, it becomes apparent that wryness is a veil. These are love poems to the world. The “you” that they repeatedly address is not necessarily a lover but the poet’s self; even, perhaps, us. Maguire’s world knits together even when it seems not to: the Middle East and London, the lost birth mother with the adoptive one, absent lover and speaker. As she writes in her title poem, “The tide has turned, the Thames comes inching back,/drowning everything it will reveal again.”

If Maguire’s poetic world is densely furnished, Neil Rollinson’s seems to have had everything unnecessary removed. ­Talking Dead, his fourth collection, is as lucid and direct as anything being written today. Partly that is because he has moved beyond contrivance. Every word is subordinated to its purpose: not the display but a mastery of the writing self.

Rollinson was not part of the “New Generation” promotion but made his debut two years later. Though his poems read with the ease of apparent artlessness, they are absolutely wrought. This book’s title sequence turns the “little death” convention about orgasm inside out: the recently dead speak of the rapture of violent demise. That could be appalling in both taste and tone. But these lyrics are perfectly judged, as when “Talking Dead – The Bed” turns drowning into a dream sequence:

I opened my mouth to breathe,

like I do in dreams,

and the water flowed into me.

The point is not reportage but the resolving logic of a beauty that is found in unexpected places: death, the smell of urine, a child kicking a toadstool.

Rollinson has an impeccable ear. His eye is impeccable, too. And possibly that is the lesson of the 1990s generation: seeing clearly is not so simple as we once thought. 

Fiona Sampson’s collection “The Catch” is newly published by Chatto & Windus

The Bonniest Companie by Kathleen Jamie is published by Picador (62pp, £9.99)

Almost the Equinox: Selected Poems by Sarah Maguire is published by Chatto & Windus (149pp, £15.99)

40 Sonnets by Don Paterson is published by Faber & Faber (44pp, £14.99)

Talking Dead by Neil Rollinson is published by Jonathan Cape (51pp, £10)

This article first appeared in the 05 February 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's war