Batman Day 2018: JUMPCUT’s Top 5 Cinematic Batmen

Today is Batman Day 2018, an annual event where fans come together to celebrate all things Batman. DC is marking the occasion this year by launching it’s highly anticipated streaming service, which will feature shows such is Titans, Doom Patrol, The Swamp Thing, and even Harley Quinn be getting her own show.

Here at JUMPCUT we’re marking Batman Day by ranking our top five favourite cinematic Batmen. As always with our rankings, the team have voted for their personal favourites, and we use a point based system to determine the final rankings – so the rankings below don’t necessarily reflect the teams personal rankings.

 

#5 LEGO Batman (Will Arnett)

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Will Arnett’s LEGO Batman made his first appearing in the 2014 hit The LEGO Movie and he proved such a hit with viewers that Warner Bros. got big ol’ dollar signs in their eyes and made plans for a solo film. Chris McKay, who directed The LEGO Movie, signed on to direct LEGO Batman’s solo outing and he said the comedy in the film was heavily influenced by films like Airplane! and The Naked Gun – and boy does it show. This animated caper pulled no punches with its barrage of easter eggs, cameos, and its general bat-shit craziness. Arnett is returning to voice this moody vigilante in the upcoming The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, which hits cinemas next year.

 

#4 Adam West

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The late, great Adam West was cast as Batman after a producer saw him in an advert for Nestlé. West played Bruce Wayne/Batman in the Batman TV series that ran from 1966 – 1968 and had 3 seasons and one feature film. Even after the shows cancellation, West returned to the role of Batman in voice-over roles for both TV and animated films – most recently Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs Two-Face, which are based around the campy 60’s version of Batman and his enemies/allies.

 

#3 Michael Keaton

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Michael Keaton donned the Dark Knight’s cape in Batman (’89) and again in Batman Returns (’92), but there were a lot of names in the ring before he secured the role. Actors such as Pierce Brosnan, Tom Selleck, Billy Murray, and Willem Dafoe were all considered for the role before Keaton. His casting caused some controversy amongst comic books fans and Warner Bros received over 50,000 letters of complaint (luckily for them there was no social media platforms back then!) . Complaints aside, Batman (’89) became the fastest film to earn $100m, a feat it managed it just 11 days.  Talks of Keaton returning the the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman have been circling social media later as fans say they would like to see him as an older version of the character in a live-adaptation Batman Beyond.

 

#2 Ben Affleck

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Whilst his future as the caped crusader may be in doubt, Ben Affleck comes graciously in second place amongst our rankings of Batmen. For his first outing in the cape, Affleck went toe-to-toe with Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Affleck was Zack Snyder’s first choice for the role, but it quickly became apparent that, much like Keaton, Affleck’s casting wasn’t popular amongst comic book ‘fans’. Practically minutes after news broke that Affleck would be the latest live-action Batman, people took to social media with a number of petitions calling for Warner Bros. to remove him from the role and cast someone else. Batman v Superman received what Connor4Real would call ‘mixed reviews‘, but Affleck was largely praised for his performance despite the initial backlash. The less said about Justice League the better, but we here at JUMPCUT hope to see Affleck don the batcowl at least one more time in the near future. The whole team are rooting for Ben and wish him all the best as he recently checked back into rehab for his alcohol addiction. You’ve got this, Ben!

 

#1 Christian Bale

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Our number one likely comes as no surprise to you at this point. Bale suited up for Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) in what is surely one of the highest praised comic book movie trilogies to date. Bale originally had to bulk up for the role in Batman Begins as he had just finished filming The Machinist when he was cast. He gained over 100lb in muscle in just a few months, then he and Nolan agreed he was too big and so he had to lose some of that newly gained muscle to get the look of his Batman just right. Bale’s portrayal of Batman is one of the most popular comic book performances to date and the trilogy as a whole has raked in just under $2.5b at the worldwide box office.

And that’s our cinematic Batmen ranked! We’d love to hear your rankings – feel free to tell us over on Twitter, or in the comments below!

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Dunkirk

Year: 2017
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Harry Styles, Barry Keoghan

Written by Sarah Buddery

Films directed by renowned British director Christopher Nolan are always something of an event; few and far between but whenever does come along there is always incredible amounts of expectation. Nolan is one of those rare “classic” directors, one who has a love and appreciation for the craft and skill in making a film, and one who can easily stand amongst the all-time greats, despite his relatively small filmography.

The notion of Nolan directing a war film perhaps surprised a few people, and indeed I was one of those people questioning whether it would be Nolan directing a straight-up war film, or whether it would be a “Nolan-ified” war film. The short answer is it is neither of those things and it is wise not to go in expecting a “war” movie as you might imagine one. It isn’t short on action by any stretch, but it is much more of a thriller that just happens to be set during the events of Dunkirk.

It is fairest to describe ‘Dunkirk’ as a “ticking-clock thrilller” – quite literally in fact, as not only do the events seem to occur in real-time, but there is an ever present ticking sound incorporated into the score, serving as an ever present reminder of impending doom and tension.

This film was almost nothing like I was expecting, but was absolutely everything I wanted and so much more! ‘Dunkirk’ has the Nolan stamp all over it, with all the class and finesse that you would expect, but it is boldly and brilliantly different from anything he has done before. ‘Dunkirk’ is a breath-taking, heart-stopping masterclass in nail-biting tension that perfectly balances the action with genuine human emotion. It is a survival story at its core, and just as meticulous, precise and measured as you would expect from Nolan.

Shot on IMAX film, ‘Dunkirk’ is visually stunning to look at, and it is so refreshing to see an action thriller that is genuinely worthy of receiving awards. The cinematography is stunning and the mind-blowing attention to detail ensures that everything looks and feels as accurate as it possibly can. The incredible aerial acrobatics and dogfights were largely done for real, using real planes and with the actors genuinely placed within the cockpit of an aircraft; the result is something which is immersive and heart-stopping in places. So often you can be taken out of the moment because you know it was created on a computer or using a green-screen, and whilst you can be assured Tom Hardy and co were safe throughout, there’s some genuine heart-in-your-mouth moments that are heightened by knowing that they were done for real.

Frequent Nolan collaborator, Hans Zimmer is back with an incredibly emotive and brilliant score. It is so wonderfully woven into the soundscapes of war, incorporating the roars of planes and the tense ticking clock to absolute perfection. The  use of sound in ‘Dunkirk’ is undoubtedly awards worthy, and whilst it might be too early to call, I would be very surprised not to see it up there in the technical categories.

As is so often the case with Nolan films, the score and sound are sometimes a little overwhelming in places which made it a hard to hear the dialogue in places. Whilst it did an excellent job of conveying the chaos and noise of war, it did also make it a little difficult to connect with the characters at times. Whilst the tight run-time (by Nolan standards anyway!) did a great deal to keep it concise and measured, it did also leave a few untied loose ends which some may find frustrating. However, it is still dramatic at every turn, with unbelievable amounts of tension and an unrelenting energy that will leave you breathless.

It is perhaps the nature of the story that it wasn’t about connecting with the characters, more just the various situations occurring simultaneously which does make it difficult to pick a stand-out acting performance. Mark Rylance’s heroic every-man was the easiest to connect with however as he made a daring trip across the sea to save those stranded and surrounded by the enemy. Cillian Murphy’s deliberately un-named and shell-shocked soldier also does an excellent job of conveying the horrors of war and the effect it had on many. Despite it only being one man, the fact is he represents the mental anguish and damaged psyche of millions of people who have been through similar horrors, and it was a surprisingly powerful performance.

‘Dunkirk’ is an utterly stunning film which is as close to a perfect film as you can get. A fair warning if you’re hoping to see this in IMAX; the noise of the bombers and gunfire is absolutely deafening, so whilst it might lead to a loss of hearing, it’ll be more than worth it. Absolutely unmissable.

Sarah’s rating: 10 out of 10

This Week In Film Trailers

Wonder Woman

With just under a month to go before ‘Wonder Woman’ is unleashed in cinemas across the globe, we are being treated to multiple new TV spots and posters, just in case you weren’t hyped up enough already. Fans of the TV Show ‘Gotham’ were treated to a sneak peek at ‘Wonder Woman’ on Monday night, which was shortly released online after it aired. This is one of my most anticipated films this year and with each trailer, TV spot, clip, and poster, my excitement continues to grow.

It’s been fantastic to see the support shown on social media for the film following some bloggers and websites questioning the films supposed lack of marketing in the lead up to it’s release. Daily I see people on Twitter counting down to it’s release, sharing the still, trailers and adverts, and generally spreading positivity and showing nothing but love for the film, cast, and crew.

“Before she was Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, Diana meets an American pilot (Chris Pine) who tells her about the massive conflict that’s raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can stop the threat, Diana leaves her home for the first time. Fighting alongside men in a war to end all wars, she finally discovers her full powers and true destiny.”

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Dunkirk

After a countdown began on the official website earlier this week, Twitter began speculating when to expect a new trailer for Christopher Nolan’s latest film. The speculating didn’t last long, as Monday afternoon a Tweet emerged with a teaser clip announcing the arrival of the trailer today!  Each day this week a similar Tweet has been sent from the Dunkirk account which said ‘Time is running out’ and ended with #400000Men, #933Ships, #26Miles, and #9Days. Then this afternoon the brand new trailer was released online in all it’s glory. There’s just something about the ‘Dunkirk’ trailers so far that I just really admire and just makes me even more excited to see it. They never just focus on one character in particular, giving me a feeling that this film will have a number of individuals it may focus on in particular, amongst lots of scenes with lots of soldiers involved. 

“In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.”

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The Dark Tower

The highly sought after trailer for ‘The Dark Tower’ finally hit the web this week, and despite fans excitement and anticipation for it, it was met with some scepticism. Fans of the Stephen King novels thought that the tone and style of the film were different to what they had expected, but most were excited nonetheless.  Having not read the books (I know I know, they’re on my list!), I think the trailer looks pretty good, and I’m excited to see an Elba vs McConaughey showdown. 

“The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.”

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Guy Ritchie’s latest film is almost here and the final trailer was release his week, 2 weeks before the films hits the cinemas in the UK. Whilst there’s not much new footage amongst these TV spots, I think they do a really good job of sustaining peoples interest in seeing the film. There’s been quite a mixed reaction from those lucky enough to have already seen this at preview screenings, with numerous people saying they were slightly disappointing with it, and other praising Ritchie’s efforts.

“When young Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down, and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy whether he likes it or not.”

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It Comes at Night

‘It Comes at Night’ looks like another promising film from A24, the studio that brought us the Academy Award winning ‘Best Picture’, ‘Moonlight’, and other fantastic films such as ‘Room’, ‘Ex Machina’, ‘The Witch’, and many more. The trailer focuses on Joel Edgerton’s character and his family, who live in isolation as an unknown threat has forced them to lock themselves away in fear. I thought this trailer was a fantastic first look at the film and looks like it could be another winner from A24. The trailer doesn’t hold back on the tension and some of you may want to avert your eyes at one but in particular… You’ll know which bit I mean when you see it. 

“Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, the tenuous order a man (Joel Edgerton) has established with his wife and son is put to the ultimate test with the arrival of a desperate family seeking refuge. Despite the best intentions of both families, paranoia and mistrust boil over as the horrors outside creep ever-closer, awakening something hidden and monstrous within the man as he learns that the protection of his family comes at the cost of his soul.”

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Bonus: Blade Runner 2049

Now whilst the new trailer hasn’t been released yet, today we were treated with  surprise announcement that one is arriving Monday. What a way to start a week! 

Written by Tom Sheffield

The First Dunkirk Trailer Is Finally Here!

Four months ago a teaser for Christopher Nolan’s next film, ‘Dunkirk’, hit the web. The teaser gave next to nothing away and ever since it was uploaded, the internet has been begging for a full trailer. Then 24 hours ago the ‘Dunkirk’ Facebook page started a live stream of live-camera footage from Dunkirk. Fans eagerly watched the stream for hours, in the hope of the trailer being released yesterday. But exactly 24 hours after the live-stream started, the trailer finally began to play.. 

Whilst there’s still no official synopsis, those who listen to the dialogue in the trailer and know the real history behind the film will know what’s in-store for us. Nolan himself commented on the plot earlier this year and said “‘Dunkirk’ opens as hundreds of thousands of British and Allied troops are surrounded by enemy forces. Trapped on the beach with their backs to the sea they face an impossible situation as the enemy closes in.”

As well as looking incredibly stunning, ‘Dunkirk’ boasts a heavy hitting cast line-up featuring the likes of Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and former ‘One Direction’ band member, Harry Styles. 

‘Dunkirk’ storms into UK theatres 21st July 2017

Written by Tom Sheffield

 

Nolan’s Dunkirk Gets Teaser Trailer

I about to commit the cardinal sin. I’m not a fan of Christopher Nolan. There, I said it. ‘Dunkirk’, however, looks absolutely phenomenal. Somebody on Twitter expressed their opinion of the trailer by saying, “it looks like Christopher Nolan, through and through.” I disagree. It will star Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, but that’s where the similarities end. This looks like something completely different in comparison to what he usually does; and that’s what really excites me. This is Nolan, so we know it won’t be a straight up war film a la ‘Saving Private Ryan’. The trailer, more of a teaser, doesn’t show much so I looked up the film to get a couple extra details. Here’s where things get weird though, Harry Styles (of One Direction fame) will also appear in the film. I can’t help but scratch my head and wonder why, other than this could be a marketing masterstroke to boost opening weekend figures as the Directioners take cinemas worldwide by storm.

Dunkirk will hit UK cinemas in Summer 2017. 

Written by Dalton Brown

Luke’s Top 5 Superhero Movies

Written by Luke Riley

Greetings to all geeks, nerds and superhero fans. The time is finally upon us and Batman and Superman have come together on the silver screen. Many of us have finally witnessed two of the most iconic heroes battling it out in ‘Batman v Superman’, a pre-cursor to what will be the Justice League and the DC Universe. To celebrate this, I bring you my (very subjective) top 5 superhero/comic book movies. I personally like these comic book movies as they represent what I like to see in terms of action, characters and the stories. Please feel free to comment below, whether it be to tell me what a great list I’ve put together, or that I’ve made a huge mistake.


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5. Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

The first ‘Hellboy’ film is a visual feast for the eyes, with an intriguing story and awesome characters, and the lovable red devil returns in this sequel. Guillmero del Toro turns it up to 11, and this is absolutely his movie. This sequel solidifies the universe that was set up in the first, with an amazing animated flashback in the intro to set up the motives of the villain, The Elven Prince Nuada. ‘Hellboy 2’ is so true to itself, everything is believable within the context it is presented. While we still haven’t seen a third in the franchise, this continuation brings it full speed to the conclusive, amazingly choreographed final fight. This movie proves that Guillermo del Toro can take source material and translate it well to the screen. Now, let’s pray for the trilogy to be completed.


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4. Avengers Assemble

The massively popular Marvel Cinematic Universe hinged on the success of 2008’s ‘Iron-Man’ – if that movie wasn’t a hit, we would never have seen an Avengers film. However, in 2012 we saw our beloved team come together to battle Thor’s adopted brother, Loki (played fantastically by Tom Hiddleston). The initial worry was whether each of these huge characters would be given enough screen time, but those worries were quickly slapped aside as each character was given their time in the spotlight in ‘Avengers Assemble’.

In one movie, we get; Iron-Man fighting Thor, Thor fighting Hulk, New York getting invaded by an alien army from another dimension and hints at the impending arrival of Thanos. Read that sentence again and remember that it all happened! What a world it is, that this material is given credence, presented authentically and respects source material as well as the audience. In Joss Whedon we trusted, and he truly delivered what is now a favourite of many comic book fans.


MAN OF STEEL

3. Man Of Steel

Following on from ‘Superman Returns’ – a movie which I actually enjoyed – the man in blue was to be given a fresh reboot. ‘Superman Returns’ wasn’t enjoyed by many, and whilst it was set to have two sequels, those plans were shelved so that Warner Bros could re-adjust. If ‘Superman Returns’ was an evening of peaceful and reflective classical music, then ‘Man Of Steel’ is a night of sweat-inducing heavy metal. From the first frame, the pace of this movie does not stop, the first 20 minutes being a krypton-based civil war. We also get a never-before-seen fighting Jor-el (Russell Crowe) as he has a brief encounter with Zod.

When we go to earth, we see Clark Kent as an adult, trying to find out who is he is. From the moment Clark finds a crashed Kryptonian ship to the final fight, the movie is quite literally a comic book on the big screen. It’s not just the conflict between Superman and Zod that has divided audiences, with this film being highly polarising and widely panned. I love it though, and the sequel, ‘Batman v Superman’, which has also divided audiences. Both films are full of action and beautifully pay homage to their comic book counterparts, which is a big tick for me.


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2. Batman Begins

Warner Bros wisely put our Dark Knight on the shelf after the dreadful ‘Batman & Robin’, and it seemed like the caped crusader was done with. However, a hero would appear in the form of Christopher Nolan, a man who would strip away the needless cliches to reveal a very well-crafted story in a real world setting. Not only is this movie on an almost CGI-free diet, we are introduced for the first time to a live action R’as Al Ghul. While ‘The Dark Knight’ builds on the strength of ‘Batman Begins’, this is where the origins are so beautifully crafted. With a grimy colour palette, strong performances and a satisfying story, this is a worthy mantle for Batman to stand on high. It also comes with a bombastic soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer; not only does the music fit the tone, it enhances it ten fold. For me this is the essential solo Batman movie, as I enjoy a villain who is lordly yet able to beat some fool into the ground if needed. I do enjoy ‘The Dark Knight’, but this first in the trilogy really hits a home run for me.


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1. X-Men

“Mututation, it is the key to our evolution” – Professor Charles Xavier

This is an opening quote that shows this movie will have intelligence and a respect for the source material. The first scene is particularly interesting as we see a young Magneto being taken away from his parents, as well as the origin of his power. His power is born of hatred and from being persecuted for being different and also the love for his parents. In his adult years, his motives are to protect his fellow mutants, but he also sees humans as inferior; he believes they should become mutant or die if they aren’t worthy. He becomes the things he hated, the reason why he is who is and also what created him. This hate is countered by the gentle yet determined Professor X, who believes the two species can co-exist. While we have characters such as Wolverine, Cyclops and Storm, my enjoyment stems from the conflict of Xavier and Magneto. These former friends with opposing ideologies have several conversations throughout this film which, because of their combined acting abilities, have more excitement than any fist fight. The first movie in the ‘X-Men’ series signified that Hollywood was ready to take comic books seriously, and I am thankful it began with The Children of the Atom.

Uno Memento

I discovered some deeply disturbing news yesterday – another great film is set for an unnecessary remake. This time, it’s the turn of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Memento’, the intelligent and mysterious indie-thriller from 2000. As I tried to organise my thoughts on this – beyond typing the words “NOOOO”, “Why, Hollywood, why?” and excessive use of the shocked face emoji – I pulled together a few reasons why such a remake is a terrible idea.

For one, ‘Memento’ is already a bloody fantastic film. The tale of a man suffering from crippling short-term memory loss, who utilises an unusual method to help him remember key details that will eventually lead him to his wife’s murderer, is a beautifully original and perfectly executed idea from Christopher Nolan. It is a film which warrants re-watches aplenty but certainly does not warrant a remake. The original cast is headed up by the incomparable Guy Pearce, with support from the inimitable Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano, the latter of which is in a league of his own in this film. I find it so hard to imagine anyone else playing these characters, that I feel a little sorry for the actors cast to fill the originals’ boots.

Writer and director, Christopher Nolan, is currently one of the most popular visionary filmmakers of our time. Not only is this the man who gave life to a gritty, modern Dark Knight trilogy, but his last five films feature on the all-time box office records. Someone this popular is bound to inspire viewers to look at his back catalogue, meaning ‘Memento’ is still being discovered. Ergo, remake not needed – let the world find the original.

15 years is not nearly long enough for a film still achieving ‘classic’ status to be remade. The fact that Christopher Nolan isn’t involved only adds to the ammunition against Memento ‘take two’. My head says I should reserve judgement and give it a chance, but my heart says hell no! Who ever heard of a good remake anyway?

Written by Sasha Hornby 

Watch This Space: September 28 – October 4

Welcome to your weekly go-to film guide – WatchThisSpace – where we recommend what to watch in the cinema and on the television, and remind you of those brilliant films hiding in your DVD collection.

IN THE CINEMA

This week’s sees the release of TWO of our most anticipated films of the year. First up, if you’re a Sci-Fi fan, the annual, mandatory, lost in space film lands on Wednesday. Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ has an out of this world cast (get it), including Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Get our verdict here.

And then, on Friday, swap futuristic spaceships for swords and Shakespeare with ‘Macbeth’. The idea of this one has really grown on us lately, and after watching the epic trailer, we are confident this will be a bloody, enthralling retelling of this classic tale. We could well see some Oscar nominations for this film too, if Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard pull out the performances we know they’re capable of. Get our verdict here.

ON THE TV

Monday 21:00 GMT: ITV2 are showing one of the all time greats on Monday night. We may have recommended you watch it before, but ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is certainly worthy of our persistent attempts to push you in its direction.

Thursday 22:15 GMT: The Rugby World Cup is in full swing, and although South Africa may have suffered the ignominy of losing to Japan in what people are saying is the biggest upset of all time, the country has an important history associated with the competition. Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon star in ‘Invictus’ on ITV4, the biographical drama about Nelson Mandela’s ambition to use the tournament to bring a divided nation together.

Friday 21:00 GMT: The first instalment of the recent reboot of the ‘Star Trek’ franchise is on E4 on Friday night. A star-studded cast under the direction of JJ Abrams in a sci-movie, sound familiar? Why not get a feel for Abrams style when it comes to all things intergalactic, and get excited for his Star Wars offering coming later this year.

Saturday 14:45 GMT: A children’s animated film that you might not have seen is ‘The Iron Giant’, showing on Film4. Filled with political allegory and social commentary for the adults to enjoy, and stunning visuals and excitement aplenty for the children, it’s the perfect way to spend your Saturday afternoon.

Sunday 21:00  GMT: The honour of being this week’s Sunday night recommendation is bestowed upon war classic ‘Apocalypse Now’. With a brilliant cast featuring Robert Duvall, Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford and Martin Sheen, this wonderful achievement in cinema wowed critics and fans alike at the time of its release in 1979, and still continues to do so now. Don’t miss this on ITV4.

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

Memento: With the likes of ‘The Dark Knight’ trilogy, ‘Interstellar’ and ‘Inception’ already to his name, it would appear that Christopher Nolan can do no wrong. One of his earliest films in the directing chair was the mind-bending ‘Memento’, starring Guy Pearce as Leonard, who is trying to solve the murder of his wife, but is hindered by short-term memory loss. He therefore has to come up with an ingenious method to retain the knowledge he gains in order to track down the killer. This is a thriller by definition, without the explosions. It’s more subtle and clever and will have you guessing and thinking all the way through, and for days afterwards as well.

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas: Confession time – I haven’t actually seen this one myself yet. But before you rise in protest, I’m advocating this film because I too will be digging it out this week and I want you all to join me so we can have a discussion about it. See, that’s nice, right? After Benicio del Toro’s gripping performance in ‘Sicario’, I have to see more of his work, and ‘Fear And Loathing’ seems like a good place to start. Generally adored by film fans, and lamented by critics, which side will you fall on?

Due Date: One of my favourite comedy actors, Zach Galifianakis, celebrates his birthday this Thursday. Since his big break in ‘The Hangover’, this portly, bearded guy has taken over the world and is arguably the funniest man around. My favourite film of his is ‘Due Date’, where Zach and Robert Downey Jr endure a road trip like no other. Not everyone is a fan of this film, but I literally laugh every minute and love the chemistry between the lead roles. If you enjoy a spot of silly humour, raise your popcorn on Thursday and say happy birthday Zach, thanks for the laughs.

Rain Man: Tom Cruise is not an actor that I like, at all. However, he is one of the stars of the show in Rain Man. Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman play the estranged Babbitt brothers, the latter of whom has severe autism. Hoffman’s performance is one of the best I have ever seen and his portrayal of Raymond is enough to make grown men cry. You have been warned.

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Nick Deal and Jakob Lewis Barnes.

The Martian

Written by Chris Winterbottom
Edited by Nick Deal

Ridley Scott has had mixed results with his various filmmaking projects, during a career which has spanned almost 40 years, from exquisite masterpieces such as ‘Alien’ to the painfully dull ‘Kingdom of Heaven’. His name is synonymous with quality, yet for me, I am always sceptical when a new Ridley Scott film is released. ‘Exodus: Gods And Kings’ was a disappointment with both audiences and critics and ‘The Counsellor’ was highly divisive. There is always the promise of something great with a Ridley Scott film though, and it was no different when ‘The Martian’, with Matt Damon at the fore, was announced.

‘The Martian’ takes Scott back to the familiar territory of the science-fiction genre, something he attempted to do with the recent ‘Prometheus’, which met a luke-warm reception at best. Based on an acclaimed novel of the same name, ‘The Martian’ sees Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, stranded on the Red Planet after a fierce storm hits and the rest of his crew flee without him. Watney is presumed dead, finding himself alone on this alien land with only meagre supplies, his grit, determination and will to survive keeping him company. Get an idea of what is to come by watching the trailer.

The film seems interesting to me and promises to be a simpler project for Scott, who is more accustomed to directing films that are epic in every sense of the word such as ‘Gladiator’. For a while he was fancied (although I debate this) as the David Lean or John Ford of the modern era, creating huge expansive movies in the epic genre; a genre that was previously dormant in Hollywood. It says a lot about Scott’s portfolio of work, that a movie spanning millions of miles, between Earth and Mars, appears to be a much more intimate and elementary project than he is used to.

The idea of a man stranded alone in a foreign place is not a new concept and the idea reminded me, to some degree, of the plot of ‘Cast Away’. Just replace the island for a planet and you may see the similarities. Although it does promise to be much more than just a simple “lost in space film”. Scott’s movies, particularly those set in space, often have great big philosophical mutterings embedded in the story. ‘Alien’ was concerned with the fear of women and ‘Prometheus’ simply asked “how did it all begin?” I have no doubt that ‘The Martian’ will have plenty of thematic exploration in the film to keep us interested, and will have us talking about it days after we’ve seen it. I love films that ignite the audience’s intellect, making them question what it all means, creating debate between friends and family.

I have not read the source material, written by Andy Weir, although I am now going to pick up a copy in preparation for this movie. It has proven to be very popular and even the one and only Tom Hanks stated he will be first in line when the film is released. The film clearly has some high-profile backing, not to mention a quite brilliant cast ensemble, particularly Jessica Chastain who is one of the finest screen talents working today. It is surprising to see Kristen Wiig on the cast sheet, an actor who we have seen mostly in comedies rather than sci-fi epics. But Wiig is a capable and watchable screen presence and I am looking forward to seeing her in a film completely at odds with anything she has done before. We might see a change in her career, much in the same way Jonah Hill has transformed his. From working in Judd Apatow movies, to being nominated at the Academy Awards twice for his work on ‘Moneyball’ and ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’, it is clear that Hill was prepared to challenge himself. Perhaps Wiig will have a similar career trajectory, maybe even a nomination or two will come her way. When you consider the cast also includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Michael Pena and Kate Mara, it’s impossible not to be impressed.

Matt Damon is another actor I feel is underrated. He doesn’t have the classic leading man look and yet, like Benedict Cumberbatch or Tom Hanks himself, he is insanely charismatic. An important quality of the film is to be focussed predominantly on his character alone; big responsibility indeed. He will have to deliver a terrific performance, and carry the burden of being on-screen for such a long time; much like Hanks did in ‘Cast Away’ or Sam Rockwell did in ‘Moon’. Damon was actually concerned about the role saying that it was too similar to the one he played in Christopher Nolan’s epic ‘Interstellar’. I can see his point, although Scott has been quick to nullify the issue by saying the films are nothing like each other. It’s fair to say then, that on this evidence, ‘The Martian’ will probably have a more existential philosophical tone rather than the hardcore physics exam-like tone that existed in Nolan’s film. 

We get a “lost in space” film annually now, and ‘The Martian’ is undeniably this year’s installment, but I am looking forward to this film immensely. Despite being a fan of all the actors involved, I am somewhat disillusioned by Ridley Scott’s work. I really want this to be as great as it looks, but I have the overwhelming fear that it will be a great big let-down. The film’s UK release is penned in for 30 September, a period that is stranded between summer blockbuster season and the time where awards panels are on the lookout for contenders, which is never a good sign. But with a cast this good, a story so simple and with source material to fall back on, it is the first Ridley Scott film I truly believe, with all my heart, has to be great. Fingers crossed.