What do the early reviewers say about Star Trek Into Darkness?S

Plus, J.J. Abrams chats with Playboy about Star Trek and Star Wars. Anthony Mackie and Georges St. Pierre drop Captain America: The Winter Soldier hints, while Don Cheadle discusses James Rhodes's role in Iron Man 3. Another The Wire alum joins The Walking Dead. Plus hints about Arrow and The Vampire Diaries. Time for spoilers!

Top image from The Walking Dead.

Star Trek Into Darkness

Early reviews from Australian critics are in, and the early word has ranged from mixed to positive, with everyone praising Benedict Cumberbatch's performance as the villain John Harrison. MTV News has a great roundup, but here's one passage they quote from David Farrier of 3 News:

"It's a riveting action-adventure in space, complete with interpersonal relationships. The bro-mance between Kirk and Spock is in full force here. Grown men cry. And yes, it looks like a J.J. Abrams film. There's the lens flare, and the camera tracking a crashing spaceship might as well be a bigger version of the plane from the 'Lost' pilot. Smoke billows and it all feels very real, like you could reach out and touch it."

Check out the rest of the roundup at the link. [MTV]

J.J. Abrams provides one of his more comprehensive answers about how this film is different from its predecessor:

The first film was very much about these disparate orphans coming together and starting a family. The next step has to be about going deeper and, yes, as the title indicates, getting a little more intense. We're testing these characters in ways they deserve to be tested: Kirk being cocky to a fault, Spock being so Vulcan that it raises the question of how he can possibly be a friend or lover when he's that unemotional. I learned so much doing the first Star Trek movie. I'd never done any kind of space adventure before or anything on that scale. We knew the second one had to be bigger and not just for bigger's sake. It was where the story was taking us. We got really cool glimpses of the Enterprise in the first movie. This time we get to see areas of the ship nobody's seen before.

And the villain is more complex now. In our first film Eric Bana plays a wonderfully angry Romulan dude, pissed off and full of vengeance. In this one, the bad guy is still brutal and fierce, but he's got a much more interesting and active story. We have to grapple with many layers of his character. He's essentially a space terrorist, and Benedict Cumberbatch, whom people know from BBC's Sherlock, is fucking kickass in the role. Kirk and the rest of the crew are figuring out how the hell to get an upper hand with this guy. The darkness is real in this movie, and it's incredibly challenging and terrifying, and it can certainly be lethal. You need that edge, partly because Star Trek has been so relentlessly parodied over the years.

[Playboy]

Elsewhere, Nazneen Contractor discusses her role in the film — some of which was seen in the IMAX prologue — and why she can't reveal her character's name:

Sadly, I cannot reveal my character's name as I've been sworn to secrecy by Paramount and Bad Robot. It's a pivotal plot point that the studio wants to keep under wraps but I can tell you that she is new to the Star Trek universe. The rest will be revealed at the premiere…

We of course know your character shows up in the first nine minutes of the film. Do you appear at any other point in the film? How many scenes were you involved in with "Star Trek Into Darkness"?
I do appear again in the film at yet another cathartic moment.

[Comic Book]

And here's the Japanese trailer, including some brand new footage. [Superhero Hype]


Star Wars: Episode VII

Going back to the Playboy interview, J.J. Abrams offers some general thoughts on how he's approaching the new Star Wars movie, although he stresses it's impossible to say anything too substantiative about a movie without a finished script, and that includes any talk of returning characters:

Here's the thing. I try to approach a project from what it's asking. What does it need to be? What is it demanding? With Star Wars, one has to take into account what has preceded it, what worked, what didn't. There are cautionary tales for anything you take on that has a legacy-things you look at and think, I want to avoid this or that, or I want to do more of something. But even that feels like an outside-in approach, and it's not how I work. For me, the key is when you have a script; it's telling you what it wants to be.

Star Wars needs to look different from Star Trek, certainly.
As with anything, because these are very different worlds, they shouldn't feel the same aesthetically. They can't. You're right. But again, I don't apply aesthetics first and fit a movie into that aesthetic. If I had come into Star Trek with those eyes, I would probably have been paralyzed. The advantage here is that we still have George Lucas with us to go to and ask questions and get his feedback on things, which I certainly will do. With Star Trek it was harder because I wasn't a Star Trek fan; I didn't have the same emotional feeling, and I didn't have Gene Roddenberry to go to. But I came to understand the world of Star Trek, and I appreciated what fans felt and believed about this universe and this franchise.

[Playboy]


Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The Hurt Locker and Pain & Gain's Anthony Mackie discusses his role as Captain America's new sidekick, the Falcon:

I've toned up and trimmed down a lot for Winter Soldier. Playing the Falcon, he's supposed to be flying around. If you have all those muscles, flying would be very difficult. And Chris Evans isn't a big guy at all, so I felt like it would be a huge disservice for me to show up and be 210 lbs and stand next to him. So I just kind of slimmed down and toned up so we would look like we are in the same movie.

Very polite of you. How are they going to visualize your telepathy with birds?
What they do is the Falcon has had two or three incarnations over the life of the character, so they took all three and formed it into one character. They released the photos of my character in his uniform about two weeks ago, so all of that stuff we're figuring out and we're going to play into taking down the Winter Soldier.

He also discusses whether co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo have made the sequel's tone more comedic, in line with their background on sitcoms like Community and Happy Endings:

You know what, it doesn't feel that way. The Russo brothers are very good as far as putting people in a situation that's funny and letting them find their way out. But also with this movie, what they're doing that's really cool is allowing us to find those dark beats. They're allowing us to really make those characters real people as opposed to slapstick comedy cartoons.

[Screen Rant]

UFC fighter Georges St. Pierre discusses his appearance as the villainous Batroc the Leaper:

I'm done filming, I was there for a week. It was a lot of fun I made a lot of new friends. My character is a French mercenary, speaks French, a martial arts expert of Savate, [and an] Olympic lifting champion. A little bit like a guy who can jump really high and stuff. The character fit me well. My new look [right now] was for the Captain America movie, I just molded it a bit different than my character was a week ago. [During filming] it looked much more sinister.

[Comic Book Movie]


Iron Man 3

Don Cheadle explains how James "Rhodey" Rhodes fits into the movie:

We find him coming back and meeting with Tony. They haven't seen each other in a while. They get back into it right away with Tony wanting to be involved and know about this bad guy and help out. He's not persona non grata, but there is a distance that the government and military is trying to create. The Avengers came in and solved this world problem, and where was the military?

Rhodey becomes Iron Patriot quite early on. Is he appropriated by the military?
He's not necessarily appropriated, but for lack of a better word he is. He's been reappropriated, but he was always a military man. He's taken Tony's design and they're going to use it now for the government. Tony gave him the technology and he's working with another organisation to enhance it and do different things with it. It's a responsibility he takes very seriously.

There's some more at the link. [Empire Online]


Transcendence

Cole Hauser, who has already appeared this year in A Good Day to Die Hard and Olympus Has Fallen, has reportedly joined the cast of this upcoming movie, which sees the directorial debut of Christopher Nolan's cinematographer Wally Pfister. Hauser joins a cast that already includes Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall, Cillian Murphy, and Kate Mara, and he will reportedly play "a military officer called upon to save the world." [Heat Vision]

Also, the movie's release date has reportedly been moved up a week from April 25 to April 18, 2014. [@ERCboxoffice]


Transformers 4

Director Michael Bay explains why, even though he and Megan Fox are now on good professional terms again, she won't return to the Transformers franchise, in the process offering some hints about how this new story will set itself apart from the previous trilogy:

"No. Because it's a totally different story. It's with Mark Wahlberg and his daughter. It's the same [world]. You have the three movies, but there's a reason why there's a new cast. And it's explained very clearly when you see it, and it's going to feel natural. So it's not like we're starting over or anything like that."

[TFW 2005]


Last Day on Mars

Here's an interview with Dollhouse star Olivia Williams and James Norton, who recently had a supporting role in the Doctor Who episode "Cold War", about their upcoming Mars-set film. For more information on the movie, check out this link.


The Walking Dead

The Wire actor Lawrence Gilliard, Jr. has reportedly been cast as Roy Stark, a new series regular role for season four. The character is described as a "former army medic who is deeply haunted by his past." [International Digital Times]


Arrow

Star Stephen Amell discusses what troubles for Oliver lie ahead, including his upcoming fallout with Diggle:

That's Episode 21. Oliver and Diggle have a little bit of a falling out because Diggle is really after getting Floyd Lawton (aka Deadshot) and is becoming a little bit obsessive, and Oliver doesn't share the same commitment because there's still an overall goal. That rubs Diggle the wrong way. So, at least momentarily, he is not at my disposal and I have to send young Miss Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) into the field.

Is Oliver concerned about losing himself to the Hood?
As things ramp up towards the season finale, he's just focused more and more on the task at hand. Whether it's his father's list, the glyph, how it relates to The Glades, or the looming specter of Tommy knowing his secrets, there's not a lot of time for him to have perspective right now. That's why so many things are probably about to come crashing down.

He also discusses how John Barrowman's Malcolm Merlyn helps tie together the season, including the flashback elements:

We had the fight in Episode 9, and there are a couple of fights to go. It's wonderful because we have this entire mythology for the season. In Episode 21, we've announced that we're flashing back to before Oliver sets sail on the Queen's Gambit with his dad, and the entire mythology of our first season and the reason almost everybody is doing what they're doing is laid out by Barrowman, in this very eloquent, John Barrowman-esque monologue. It's nice because it pays off what we've been setting up. Just as a viewer, I would like it because you sit there and you go, "Oh, wow! These guys had a plan." We had a plan, from the moment that we saw Malcolm in the fourth episode. Even the glyph in the second episode was the first connection where Moira sits in the car. All of that is coming home to roost right now.

There's still plenty more at the link. [Collider]


The Vampire Diaries

Costar Claire Holt discusses tonight's episode, "The Originals," which sets up a planned Klaus-starring spinoff:

It absolutely looks and feels different. Just shooting in New Orleans makes it different. There's so much production value there. Everything looks beautiful. It's so historic. The colors are vibrant. It really elevated the episode. And then tonally, it's a different feel. It's a little darker. The voodoo and the witches of New Orleans add a new element to the show. And the character dynamics are different. It's still in keeping with The Vampire Diaries and what makes that show popular. [But] it's taking it to a new level. I'm really excited for fans to see it.

You didn't get to film in New Orleans yet, so what is Rebekah up to in Mystic Falls?
She's faced with the decision of whether to follow her brother and remain loyal or lead her own life in Mystic Falls. She's felt very betrayed by Klaus, and he's said some awful, horrible things to her. She's not one to forgive too quickly or easily. That's definitely going to be on her mind when Elijah pleads with her to follow them and help our brother. But then she's also been really loyal and valued her family for a very long time. It's going to be a tough decision for her - and maybe the decision won't be made. It's going to be a long journey of repairing their relationship.

There's more at the link. [TV Line]


Additional reporting by Katharine Trendacosta and Charlie Jane Anders.