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My Movie Week... with Mike Shaw

Arnold Schwarenegger.
Arnold Schwarenegger.

The last time Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron worked together was on the (then) record-breaking Terminator 2. Playing an emotionless robot from the future, Arnie was the perfect foil to Cameron’s mad professor direction, packed with inventive special effects and ridiculous explosions.

The Hollywood rumour-mill says that the pair may be working together again, on Avatar 2. Apparently Arnie will be playing “a bad guy human general” in the forthcoming sequel.

Aside from Sigourney Weaver in a supporting role, the first film was light on movie stars, pushing the stunning 3D into the limelight instead. Casting Schwarzenegger would be the exact opposite of that approach.

It’s an interesting idea, but for time being, it remains firmly in the tray marked ‘Speculation: Probably a lie’.

Daniel Radcliffe, pictured here as Billy in The Cripple of Inishmaan, is starring in a new Frankenstein film. Picture: Johan Persson
Daniel Radcliffe, pictured here as Billy in The Cripple of Inishmaan, is starring in a new Frankenstein film. Picture: Johan Persson

Another interesting casting rumour concerns Daniel Radcliffe. The erstwhile Harry Potter is frontrunner to take the lead role in the forthcoming Freddie Mercury biopic.

It may sound unlikely, but since Sacha Baron Cohen left the film, Radcliffe
has become the favourite among producers and investors involved in the project.

A secret source (aren’t they always), said: “Daniel has been told the part is his if he wants it. Despite his youth, Daniel impressed movie bosses with his portrayal of gay poet Allen Ginsburg in this year’s movie Kill Your Darlings. Plus, he’s closer in height to Freddie than Sacha, who’s much taller. Daniel can really sing, too.”

Which is all lovely, aside from the fact that, no he can’t. He sang in the Broadway show How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, but was merely passable – certainly no Freddie Mercury.

Sacha Baron Cohen had been connected to the picture for years, but dropped out in July due to ‘creative differences’. It’s thought Cohen wanted a more honest, direct approach to the story, while those in charge aim to sanitise Freddie’s life in order to get a more lower age rating.

Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) is penning the script which deals with the lead up to Queen’s iconic performance at the
Live Aid concert in 1985.

Daniel Radcliffe is proving to be a good actor, and has made some decent choices post-Harry Potter, but he is absolutely the wrong choice for this part. He’s as wrong as Cohen was right.

Rest assured, when I’m in charge, this kind of thing won’t happen.

A touch more Star Wars news. Director J.J. Abrams says the main thing he hopes to bring to Episode VII is authenticity.

When asked which of the previous films best represents what he’s trying to do in terms of the spirit and tone of Episode VII, he said: “Impossible for me to say because it’s going to be an evolving thing. I would say we are working really hard to make a movie that feels as emotional and authentic and exciting as possible. Whatever your favourite Star Wars movie is and how to compare it is really sort of subjective.

“I remember reading a thing somewhere, someone wrote about just wanting [the new film] to feel real; to feel authentic. I remember I felt that way when I was 11 years old when I saw the first one. As much of a fairytale as it was, it felt real. And to me, that is exactly right.”

I hope Abrams can get this right, and does a better job of it than he did with the terrible, terrible new Star Trek. If he does, then when Episode VII comes out, my son will be the perfect age to enjoy the fairytale for himself.

Stephen Boyd and Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur, 1959. Picture: MGM.
Stephen Boyd and Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur, 1959. Picture: MGM.

One piece of news that definitely isn't just a rumour, is the revelation that Wanted and Night Watch director Timur Bekmambetov has been confirmed as director of MGM's remake of Ben-Hur.

This new film aims to be different to the 1959 classic starring Charlton Heston, by sticking to the 1880 Lew Wallace novel more closely and exploring the original story's themes of revenge and redemption.

Of course, none of this negates the fact that remaking Ben-Hur is sacrilegious, but I thought you deserved to know.

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