Marvel working on Black Panther spin-off

Marvel Entertainment is working on a spin-off film following the success of Black Panther.


Lupita Nyong’o played Nakia and Letitia Wright (r) played Shuri in Black Panther.

The film was listed as the 10th-highest box office earner of all time, making $1.2bn (£916m), Forbes reported in April.

The series will be based on T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri. The character was played by Guyanese-British actress Letitia Michelle Wright.

The new series will be written by Nigerian author Nnedi Okorafor, who penned the digital comic series Black Panther: Long Live the King for Marvel.

“[Shuri is] an African young woman of genius level intelligence who is obsessed with technology and has travelled spiritually so far into the past that she’s seen Wakanda before it was Wakanda.

The Ancestors call her Ancient Future. And she’s super ambitious. What do I love about her? All that and more,” Okorafor is quoted as saying.

Marvel expects to release the series in October.


‘Don’t let the tail wag the dragon’: what we want from the Game of Thrones prequel

As HBO confirm the direction of its next Thrones project, one loyal subject makes the case for a savage succession.

  • Spoiler alert: this blog contains plot details for every season of Game of Thrones. Don’t read unless you are up to date

Photo: Slash Film

The only solace that can be taken from Game of Thrones coming to an end next year is the knowledge that our time in Westeros is far from over. Nary does a cash cow the size of GoT go unmilked, so we’ve got at least one more Thrones TV show coming our way.

HBO has been busy developing “four to five” treatments for possible companion series. Each is a prequel of sorts to the main show, with none actually touching directly upon George RR Martin’s parent narrative. The names attached to these scripts are no two-bit hacks: Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, Kingsman), Brian Helgeland (LA Confidential, Legend), Max Borenstein (Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island ), Carly Wray (Westworld, Mad Men) and Bryan Cogman (a Game of Thrones old-timer).

In the end, HBO decided to take a punt on Jane Goldman’s idea: a pilot’s been ordered, and if it’s picked up Goldman and George RR Martin will act as co-creators of a whole new series set in the Thrones universe. We’ll likely see it in 2020, and Goldman will be steering the ship as showrunner.

Itches of concern only arise when you start to pore through the details. HBO’s official statement reads:

“Taking place thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones, the series chronicles the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. And only one thing is for sure: from the horrifying secrets of Westeros’s history to the true origin of the white walkers, the mysteries of the east, to the Starks of legend … it’s not the story we think we know.”

The Ringer recently scoured this opaque precis for clues as to where the series might go, and deduced that the “darkest hour” was the fabled Long Night, and the Stark of Legend was most likely Bran the Builder, who is said to have used sorcery to build The Wall, along with basically any other ancient structure in Westeros that wasn’t made of wattle and daub. We’ve seen the origins of the White Walkers already, of course – the Children of the Forest made them, the feckless little idiots – so we may be delving deeper into the forest imps’ war with the human invaders.

You might be thinking, this is all great. That more Thrones can only be a good thing. That Jane Goldman and George RR Martin are so brilliant on their own that together they should probably fight crime or something. That this new series – with its mythic beings, magic walls, faery wars and Night Kings – will surely be epic fantasy on a scale never before seen on TV. And it will be. But that, right there, is the problem.


Remember the bad old days? Sean Bean as Ned Stark. Photo: HBO/Everett/Rex

As the show has grown in scope over the years, so too have its flaws become more numerous. Seasons six and seven, lacking solid, densely plotted George RR Martin source material to draw upon, upped the stakes in terms of spectacle, but at the cost of jettisoning the complex minutiae of political backstabbery that made the first few seasons so helplessly addictive. They were spectacular, yet illogical. Massive, yet weirdly weightless. No multimillion dollar set-piece, from the Battle of the Bastards to the death of Dany’s dragon, has ever come close to replicating the breathless, dizzying rug-pull of The Red Wedding. Or poor Prince Oberyn’s squishy eye-ectomy. Or Tyrion killing Shae. Or Ned Stark having his entire body chopped off. Or any of the gamechanging moments that were born from simple drama.

Game of Thrones was never exactly a quiet, low-key kitchen-sink soap, but the genius of the early seasons lay in the underhand way in which fantasy elements were gradually smuggled in under the radar. Myth and magic were introduced early, yet so subtly that mainstream viewers who would usually balk at dragons and magic were hooked before they even realised they were being hoodwinked. It was, at its beginning and through to its peak, a political drama about the lengths people – fallible, vulnerable, rounded, real people – are willing to go to in the acquisition of power. It was the captivating brutality of the Game of Thrones itself. The action and fantasy were an, admittedly very welcome, bonus.

According to Westerosian scholars (ie George RR Martin and the internet), it’s quite likely that Brandon Stark didn’t even exist – that he was, Ragnar Lothbrok-style, made up of the deeds of several individuals, all rolled into one handy, pocket-sized myth. If so, why don’t we know who these people are? Getting down into the nitty gritty of these unknown heroes’ interactions, and the reasons behind their removal from the history books, would be one fascinating avenue to take. If Brandon is real, watching he and Lann the Clever (who founded House Lannister) squabble and bicker as they form proud dynasties that will still be squabbling and bickering 10,000 years later also promises for some delicious knife-in-back action. This new series will also be set within the era of the first Night’s Watch, and seeing the erstwhile sentries’ embryonic years would also be excellent. And not just to witness the moment someone tried to convince them that celibacy is the best way forward for everyone. We’ll only be on shakier, more BBC1-at-teatime ground if we end up with sillier characters such as The Grey King, who shacked up with a mermaid and lived for a millennium. Or too much of the Children of the Forest. Who, and this can’t be emphasised enough, really are a bunch of little pillocks.

George RR Martin’s hands-on attitude with this new series is encouraging, as is Jane Goldman’s pedigree as a screenwriter. If they sit down together and agree that one good, believable, flawed character is worth a thousand dead CGI dragons, then we could be on to something very special. HBO will surely be hurling tens of millions of dollars at them. The very best thing they could do is resist the urge to spend them all.

Goldman and Martin should, instead, get back to Thrones basics. Throw in some action, sure, but not to the detriment of the very same human drama that made Game of Thrones the phenomenon it became. Don’t let the tail wag the dragon, as it were. Give us murder and intrigue and betrayal and knotty, devious skulduggery in dark rooms. Oh, and if you can think of some way of getting The Hound in it too, then please also do that. Thanks.

SOURCE: The Bloomgist/The Guardian, UK

Movie review: Fallen Kingdom – tropes as dated as the dinos

The latest instalment in the genetically modified franchise could use some new ideas.


With Spanish horror director JA Bayona (The OrphanageA Monster Calls) at the helm, I’d hoped for more creative intervention in this chapter of the Jurassic Park – sorry, World – franchise. Yet though there are some interesting genre flourishes, and a set piece involving a gorgeous, shadowy gothic mansion, this overlong instalment is merely serviceable.

The volcanic, dinosaur-inhabited island of Isla Nublar is about to erupt, and so Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire Dearing (in combat boots rather than heels this time) and animal behavioural expert Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) have been flown in by Benjamin Lockwood’s estate to help transport the dinosaurs to safety, helped along by a sweaty, jittering coder named Franklin (The Get Down’s Justice Smith, playing the underdog with tongue-in-cheek relish) and a tough-talking palaeoveterinarian named Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda). Predictably, some people in on the plan have other designs for the dinos and so the rescue mission becomes a collection of increasingly tense, video game-like scenarios.

The film ends up being a bludgeoning political satire that queries the ethical implications and economic advantages of poaching genetically engineered animals, be it for biopharmaceutical weaponry, corporate seed money or to keep as collector’s items. There’s also an embarrassing coda about how we’re “causing our own extinction by way of avarice and political megalomania”. It shouldn’t be a bad thing that Claire, Zia and Maisie, Lockwood’s spunky granddaughter (Isabella Sermon), are signposted as the bravest characters with the most agency, yet the film’s overt girl-power politics date it. A close-up of Claire’s high heels, followed by one of her combat boots and a scene that sees Zia called a “nasty woman”, grasp at cultural relevance but end up too on the nose. The foreign villains – a Chinese geneticist and a Russian oligarch – are further causes for eye-rolling.

Star Wars has more work to do to get back on track

Solo: A Star Wars Story box office results are a crossroads moment for the space saga. Here is what Disney must do to move the franchise forward.


Solo: A Star Wars Story has just released a flood of new images, revealing a few more details about Paul Bettany’s villainous gangster. Slash Film

When the dust finally settles on Solo: A Star Wars Story, long-term acolytes of George Lucas’s space saga may be reasonably content with it. Although this latest episode may have finally emerged, as AO Scott of the New York Times memorably put it, as “a curiously low-stakes blockbuster, in effect a filmed Wikipedia page”, its muted nature is unlikely to affect audiences for future Star Wars films. Nor will it send Alden Ehrenreich’s chances of retaining the role of Han Solo spinning into the nearest asteroid field.

As a shallow exercise in establishing Solo’s backstory, it ticks all the relevant boxes – even if it does so in workmanlike fashion. It is off screen, in areas that rarely find their way into critical reviews or fan verdicts (but that matter so much to industry watchers), that there is reason for concern.

Fans will not care that this is the most expensive Star Wars movie ever, thanks to reshoots following the sacking of original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Nor will they remember that Ehrenreich allegedly had on-set acting lessons to look and sound like Harrison Ford. (He doesn’t, not even a little bit.)

But in years to come they may recall that the movie’s debut in cinemas marked a turning point in Disney’s fortunes – the sliding doors moment that led to the studio finally beginning to get Star Wars right. For the Mouse House has now had six years in charge of Star Wars, a period that has hopefully taught it something about how to steward the saga going forward. With luck, Disney can now put its foolhardy apprenticeship behind it and begin to learn the true ways of the Force.

The studio has called it right on a number of occasions. It correctly surmised that the kid-friendly, CGI-heavy approach of Lucas’s prequel trilogy was the work of a man oblivious to the reasons fans enjoyed his creation in the first place. The Force Awakens reintroduced audiences to the concept of a rollicking space yarn. Rogue One gave us the Blake’s 7 of the saga, a gorgeously doom-laden narrative of self-sacrifice that featured one of the series’ finest space battles.

Last year’s The Last Jedi, for all its faults, suggested that Rian Johnson is the right director to take Star Wars into new territory. Johnson’s antics with Luke Skywalker may have upset superfans, but he proved himself willing to subvert tropes and imagine new themes for the saga. His proposed new trilogy, free from the diminishing returns of the Skywalker family narrative, is a tantalising prospect.

However, as a cinematic universe, Star Wars’ does not yet boast the easy flow between pictures that Marvel enjoys. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has so far failed to assemble a team of film-makers capable of delivering original visions and keeping the narrative moving onwards and ever forwards. From time to time, the saga is still stuck in pre-hyperspace purgatory, the powers that be shaking their heads at the departure of yet another film-maker who seemed so promising, and muttering under their breath: “It’s not my fault.”

If it has any hope of hitting light speed any time soon, Disney needs to balance appointing the exciting up-and-coming writers and directors who will surely be the future of Star Wars and retaining the services of established directors such as Howard and Tony Gilroy (who was parachuted in to rescue Rogue One two years ago). The studio also has to strike the right balance between reconfiguring Star Wars in the mode of Marvel, as an endlessly episodic saga that’s built for laughs, and re-establishing the sense of cosmic wonder that permeated the original trilogy. It may well find it impossible to achieve both goals, at least if the audience reaction to The Last Jedi’s more irreverent moments is anything to go by.It needs a firm, confident hand on the Millennium Falcon, rather than the nervous, capricious pilot that appears to have been in place since 2012. Only then will the stars up ahead zoom into peripheral vision, as our heroes escape from the Dark Side of the Force all over again.

Film Board begins clamp down on street movie screening booths

Arusha — The Tanzania Film Board intends to clamp down on local shacks charging people for watching movies and TV broadcasts. The street public film rooms have recently been suspected of screening lewd programmes.


The Executive Secretary of Tanzania Film Board, Joyce Fissoo said the people who screen films in local booths will also be subjected to register their businesses, acquire licences and ensure that all films shown there are genuine copies with official trademarks from the releasing companies.

She was speaking during a training workshop that the board had organised for actors, producers and retailers of local films, and held in Arusha, with focus to improve the sector in Arusha, Manyara and surrounding regions.

The booths, according to the TFB officials, will also be required to censor their contents before airing, to ensure that much of the programmes screened there are of local Tanzanian producers and those that are foreign should adhere to laws and regulations of the country.

“Tanzanians do not have the culture of attending film screening in large theatres, because majority of the people can be seen watching movies in local booths located within residential areas, and if we can improve the contents and setup of these ventures, they can very much help to boost the film industry and promote local contents,” said Fissoo.

On her part, the Culture Officer for Arusha Region, Irene Ngao reminded the local film producers to submit their scripts to the district and regional film boards for reviews before starting shooting as per regulations.

“Some local film makers usually by-pass district and regional boards, instead they go straight to national boards, where they are referred back to us with their stories. They should make use of local offices to make their work and process easier,” she said.

One of the local film actors, Lucy Mushi Kweka said locations for filming remain a major challenge; “we keep begging for private houses or schools for shooting, and sometimes the owners change their mind in the middle of shooting, forcing us to shift places, which makes the films choppy and unrealistic.”

SOURCE: Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Movie review: The Shape of Water – a seductively melancholy creature

Guillermo del Toro’s magical movie, a cold war thriller, is underpinned by a superb cast and knowing nods to Hollywood classics.


The ‘sublime’ Sally Hawkins, with Doug Jones in The Shape of Water. Photo: Allstar/Fox Searchlight

In my opinion, the 21st century has produced no finer movie than Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro’s 2006 masterpiece, which acts as a sister picture to his 2001 Spanish civil war ghost story, The Devil’s Backbone. Like Del Toro’s first feature, Cronos (1993), these Spanish-language gems possessed a unique cinematic voice, the distant echo of which could still be heard even amid the thunderous roar of 2013’s Pacific Rim. Now, with his awards-garlanded latest (co-scripted by Game of Thrones graduate Vanessa Taylor), Del Toro has conjured a boundary-crossing hybrid that is as adventurously personal as it is universal, a swooning romantic melodrama that reshapes the mythical themes of Beauty and the Beast with deliciously bestial bite.

An opening voiceover establishes the fable-like tone, setting the story “a long time ago” in “a small city near the coast, but far from everything else”. This is the US in the early-60s, with the cold war and the space race providing the backdrop for “a tale of love and loss and the monster who tried to destroy it all”.

Sally Hawkins is sublime as the orphaned Elisa Esposito, voiceless since the day she was found “by the river, in the water”, the scars on her neck suggesting the key to her silence. Elisa lives above the Orpheum cinema, an old-school dream palace where The Story of Ruth and Mardi Gras play to a slow trickle of patrons. Her neighbour, Giles (Richard Jenkins), is an artist who has lost both his hair and his job and spends his days watching Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Betty Grable on TV reruns, dreaming of the waiter behind the counter in the local Dixie Doug’s pie emporium.

Elisa works as a cleaner at the Occam aerospace research facility where she mops floors with the loquacious Zelda (Octavia Spencer). When Occam takes possession of an amphibious creature from the Amazon, Dr Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) wants to learn from this strange beast, once revered by local tribes as a god. Vindictive government agent Strickland (Michael Shannon) disagrees, seeing only “an affront” that he dragged here from South America to be tortured and destroyed. Yet Elisa, whose expansive and erotic dreams are fuelled by water, hears music in the creature’s plaintive cry; a haunting refrain interweaving with the waltzing melody that accompanies her own floating steps.

What follows is a weird and wondrous romantic thriller that casts its inspirational web wide: from 50s monster movies such as Creature From the Black Lagoon to Ron Howard’s 80s mermaid rom-com Splash, via the 12th-century writings of Persian poet Hakim Sanai. Del Toro calls it “a fairytale for troubled times”, citing Douglas Sirk and Vincente Minnelli as touchstones, alongside Mexican film-maker Ismael Rodríguez. There are strong undercurrents, too, of the silent pathos of Keaton and Chaplin, interspersed with bouts of musical fantasy, including an audacious Fred and Ginger-style routine that mirrors the monochrome dance designs of Follow the Fleet.

It sounds ridiculous, yet through some magical alchemy it works – magnificently so. Part of its success is the superb ensemble cast: Shannon seething as the scripture-quoting patriot whose world starts rotting from the inside out; Spencer radiating resilience as Zelda, tirelessly tending to the needs of others; Stuhlbarg underplaying nicely as the scientist with lofty aspirations and fluid affiliations. As for Doug Jones (who has been breathing life into Del Toro’s beautiful monsters for decades), his shimmering amphibian man is a sinewy symphony of movement, the perfect partner for Hawkins’s heroine, swimming through the dreamy pools of her endlessly expressive eyes.

Luis Sequeira’s costumes and Paul D Austerberry’s production designs make this blue-green fantasy world real, while Dan Laustsen’s cameras flow like water around the drama, their movement providing the cue for Alexandre Desplat’s lovely score, which juxtaposes jaunty accordions with breathy flutes – musical dialogue for wordless characters.

“You’ll never know just how much I care,” runs the tune, sung by Alice Faye in Hello, Frisco, Hello, which echoes nostalgically through The Shape of Water. The genius of Del Toro’s creation is that we know exactly how much Elisa cares for her soulmate and how he makes silent sense of her fish-out-of-water feelings. Watching them dance around each other, I became aware of the shape of my own tears, swept along by the emotional waves of Del Toro’s sparkling drama, succumbing to its seductively melancholy song of the sea.

#BlackPanther stars head to South Africa

While we are sure Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address this evening will be gripping viewing, we suspect it may be somewhat overshadowed by another event.

The stars of the much-anticipated Black Panther film are due to descend on Johannesburg this evening for its South African premiere.

Among those walking the red carpet will be Kenya’s Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira, best-known for her role in hit show The Walking Dead.

And it seems they are just as excited to head for South Africa as South Africa is to see them:

Film review: 12 fierce facts about Marvel’s Black Panther

To say that Marvel’s Black Panther is one of this year’s most anticipated films would be an understatement.

Film review: 12 fierce facts about Marvel's Black Panther

Following the star-studded premiere and the first thoughts of the film making headlines in recent weeks, fans are sure to be flocking to cinemas worldwide on Friday.

But before you settle into the cinema seats with your popcorn and drink, there are some facts and figures you may want to know.


1. First appearance
Marvel’s Black Panther character made his debut in the comic book world in Fantastic Four Vol. 1 Issue 52, published in 1966.

2. Strong fierce women
An important part of the Black Panther lore incorporated into the film is the Dora Milaje, the cadre of strong fierce women who serve as the personal security force to the King and royal family. These tall, statuesque, bald warrior women, who move as one, command attention wherever they go.

3. A pool of actresses, stunt women and Broadway dancers
Led by Danai Gurira’s character, Okoye, the Dora Milaje security force features an international contingent of women from all over the world, including Florence Kasumba who returns to play Ayo, a character that first appeared in Marvel Studios’ Captain America: Civil War. The Dora Milaje were cast from a pool of actresses, stunt women and Broadway dancers so that each individual Dora could have specialised skills that they brought to the table.

4. The official language of Wakanda
It was decided early on that Xhosa, one of the official languages of South Africa, would be the language of Wakanda. A precedent had been set in Marvel Studios’ Captain America: Civil War, when celebrated South African actor John Kani, who portrayed King T’Chaka, used his native accent. Chadwick Boseman, who plays T’Challa/Black Panther, picked it up from him as well.

5. Using African drums
The cast and stunt team practiced with African drums played by musician Jabari Exum so that their movements would have a musical quality found in many African-based martial arts.

6. Learning to ride a rhino
Actor Daniel Kaluuya learned how to ride a horse as practice to simulate riding W’Kabi’s armored rhino in the film.

7. South African father and son acting duo
South African actor Atandwa Kani plays the character of Young T’Chaka to his father and celebrated South African actor John Kani’s King T’Chaka.

8. Stunt work
The cast did the bulk of the fight work that will be seen on film. Chadwick Boseman, whose skill set includes a comprehensive martial arts background, knew what he was in for when he and all the other actors had to attend a “boot camp” to prepare them for the physical aspects of their roles.

9. Creating Killmonger’s scars
Michael B. Jordan, who plays Erik Killmonger, spent about two and a half hours in the special effects makeup chair every day, while makeup designer Joel Harlow and three other makeup artists applied close to 90 individually sculpted silicone moulds to his upper body. This “scarification” application process entails transferring each mould and then blending and painting them to match Jordan’s skin tone. Each of Killmonger’s scars represents a “notch” of his kills over the years.

10. Building the set
The majority of the Wakanda sets were constructed on sound stages at Pinewood Studios in Atlanta, including the Tribal Council; the Wakandan Design Group, Shuri’s hive of research and development of the vibranium rich country; the ancient subterranean Hall of Kings; and most notably Warrior Falls, the ceremonial heart of Wakanda’s revered traditions.

11. Matching the rocks of Oribi Gorge in South Africa
Over 25 000 cubic feet of foam was used in the Warrior Falls set, which was sculpted to match the rocks in Oribi Gorge in South Africa.

12. The perfect action sequence
Director Ryan Coogler wanted the South Korea action sequence to be seamless, so he had an editor on set cutting footage in real time. This is not often done during production, but Coogler felt it was the best way to capture all the action, stunts and special effects in frame on time.


Black Panther: Marvel petitioned to donate 25 percent of their profits to black community

An American resident, Chaz Gormley, has created a petition on requesting that the “Walt Disney” company donate 25% of the profits to communities.

Black Panther: Marvel petitioned to donate 25 percent of their profits to black community

‘Black Panther’ star Forest Whitaker suggests that the highly-anticipated Marvel Studios film will take its characters to outer space. Photo: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

He wrote,

“Surely, more than just black people will be heading to the movies on February 16th to indulge in another piece of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however, Marvel Studios hasn’t pulled out all the stops to get everyone else to come to the theaters – they’ve blatantly targeted the black community, because they want the one thing the black community has to offer in abundance – black dollars”.

“You have the ability to not only be entertained, but to leave the theater in February knowing that a portion of your money will be coming back into your community. To not only go see a film about a fictitious country in Africa with advanced technology, but the opportunity to invest in programs which focus on the fields – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – that make such advancements possible, in real life”.

As at the time of writing, 2,600 people have signed the petition.