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Oscar-winning British filmmaker Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire, and 127 Hours) has quit as the director of the as-yet-untitled Bond 25, citing “creative differences” as the reason for his departure.

The official twitter page of the 007 franchise announced the news yesterday via a tweet that read; “Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig today announced that due to creative differences Danny Boyle has decided to no longer direct Bond 25.”

It is an unfortunate blow for Bond 25 to lose such an accomplished and high-profile director but, as one of the biggest and most well-established film franchises of all time, there is sure to be a long list of filmmakers ready to jump in and take the reins.

Boyle’s involvement was confirmed in May of this year; with the creative team behind the franchise announcing that “Daniel Craig’s 5th outing as 007 will be directed by Academy Award-winning Danny Boyle from an original screenplay by John Hodge.”

Danny Boyle and John Hodge are long-time collaborators, having worked with each other on several productions, including Shallow Grave (1994), Trainspotting (1996) and its sequel T2 Trainspotting (2017), The Beach (2000) and Trance (2013).

Production on Bond 25 was set to begin on December 3rd 2018 at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, with a scheduled release date of November 9th, 2019. However, it now seems likely that both the production and release dates of Bond 25 will be delayed as they search for a director to replace Danny Boyle.

With Boyle out, social media is ablaze with fans discussing who they think should replace him, with Blade Runner 2049’s Denis Villeneuve, Mission: Impossible – Fallout’s Christopher McQuarrie and The Hurt Locker’s Kathryn Bigelow being some of the most popular choices amongst fans. There are also some who want to see Martin Campbell return to the franchise after already helming two excellent Bond movies in Goldeneye and Daniel Craig’s first outing as 007, Casino Royale. However, due to the fact he is already in pre-production on two separate projects, it seems very unlikely.

As of yet, no replacement has been announced, but it will need to be someone whose vision fits in with that of Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson, who keep a famously fierce control of one of cinema's most successful franchises.

Hollywood A-listers Ed Harris and Jon Hamm have joined Top Gun 2, officially titled Top Gun: Maverick, in mystery roles.

Ed Harris began his acting career in 1976 and since then, he has amassed four Oscar nominations on top of 47 other nominations and 28 wins – including two Golden Globes for Best Supporting Actor. In 2017, he appeared in Darren Aronofsky’s divisive psychological horror, Mother as well as HBO’s hit science-fiction series Westworld, in which he plays the mysterious and enigmatic Man in Black.

Jon Hamm began his acting career in 1997 and has gone on to win two Golden Globes for his performance as advertising executive Don Draper in AMC’s hit drama Mad Men. He also has a further 16 wins, including a Primetime Emmy and a Critic’s Choice Award, and another 81 nominations.

Alone, the casting of Ed Harris or Jon Hamm would be a big boost for any movie or television series, but together they add a whole new level of excitement for the long-gestured sequel to Tony Scott’s 1986 classic that follows Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) – a hotshot fighter pilot whose reckless attitude and cocky demeanour put him at odds with the other pilots at the Miramar Naval Air Station, where he vies with Tom “Iceman” Kasansky (Val Kilmer) for the coveted "Top Gun" award.

Receiving mixed reviews on its initial release, Top Gun has since gone on to become a cult-classic of action cinema, amassing an enormous following and receiving regular screenings all over the world.

The plot of Top Gun: Maverick is being kept tightly under wraps at the moment, but we do know that Tom Cruise is returning as Maverick for the highly anticipated sequel and, if the recent Mission: Impossible sequels are anything to go by; we can expect some truly death-defying stunts from the Hollywood megastar. It is rumoured that Maverick is a flight instructor this time around, training up a new generation of fighter pilots, including the son of Maverick’s best friend and co-pilot, Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, who died in the 1986 original.

Top Gun: Maverick also sees the return of Val Kilmer, in his first major role since his two-year battle with throat cancer. After years of rumoured health problems, he finally came clean about his battle with throat cancer during a December 2017 interview with the The Hollywood Reporter where he revealed that it had “taken its toll” on him and his family and that he had undergone a procedure on his trachea which made his voice raspy and left him short of breath. There is no word yet on how this will factor in to Top Gun: Maverick or how big of a role Val Kilmer will play, but it will be a welcome return for the actor and we are glad he’s making a recovery.

Top Gun: Maverick will by flying in to UK cinemas on July 12th, 2019.

Warner Bros Television, CBS and Chuck Lorre Productions have confirmed that The Big Bang Theory – one of the biggest and most successful sitcoms of all time – will wrap in May 2019 following speculation about the future of the show.

The Big Bang Theory started in 2007 and follows the misadventures of a group of brilliant but socially awkward scientists as they attempt to navigate day-to-day life. Centred on the nerdy and introverted physicists Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstadter, we witness their lives change when Penny, an attractive waitress and aspiring actress, moves into the apartment across the hall from theirs.

A statement about the decision to end the show was released on twitter;

“We are forever grateful to our fans for their support of The Big Bang Theory during the past twelve seasons. We, along with the cast, writers and crew, are extremely appreciative of the show’s success and aim to deliver a final season, and series finale that will bring The Big Bang Theory to an epic creative close.”

While there has been no confirmation as to the exact reasons why they have decided to end the show, many feel that it is a positive thing that the creative team has decided to end the show on a high-note, instead of dragging it out and risking cancellation further down the line. One thing is for certain though – it definitely isn’t a ratings issue, as it still continues to pull in huge numbers. The most recent season of The Big Bang Theory was the number one show on U.S. broadcast television, averaging a colossal 18.8 million viewers per week.

The Big Bang Theory has been such a monster success that in 2014, the five main stars – Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar – renegotiated their contracts and each earn a whopping $1million per episode. Now, considering each season of The Big Bang Theory runs for 24 episodes and there have been four seasons since 2014, that amounts to a dizzying $96million each.

Since its debut, The Big Bang Theory has gone on to amass 52 Emmy Nominations and when it comes to an end in 2019 after 279 episodes, it will be the longest running multi-camera series in television history – and that’s not a bad legacy to leave behind.

For those of you who are saddened by this news and are going to miss your weekly fix of nerdy adventures, fear not! For The Big Bang Theory spin-off Young Sheldon is already a hit and has been picked up for a second season.

The world of music mourns today as icon Aretha Franklin has succumb to her illness and passed away peacefully at 9:50am on Thursday 16th August, surrounded by family and friends at her home in Detroit, Michigan.

Aretha Franklin’s representative, Gwendolyn Quinn announced that Franklin passed away after a battle with advanced pancreatic cancer.

Former President of the United States, Barack Obama, paid tribute to Franklin in an official statement released yesterday;

“Aretha helped define the American experience.” He said. “In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the ‘Queen of Soul’ rest in eternal peace.”

In an unbelievable career that spanned more than half a century, Aretha Franklin touched the lives of countless people all over the world. Throughout her career, she was nominated for a total of 34 Grammy Awards, winning 20 of them, including best female R&B performance for eight straight years, and three “Grammy Special Awards”The Legend Award in 1991, a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994 and a Person of the Year award in 2008.

She also had 88 Billboard Chart hits and, during the peak of her career, she accumulated more than two dozen Top 40 hits that spent a combined total of 97 weeks in the Top 40.

On top of all this, Aretha Franklin also holds the distinction of being the first woman ever to be admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Rest in peace, Aretha Franklin – while you may be gone, the legacy you leave behind will echo through the ages.

A mass line-up of stars – some old, some new and some in-between – lit up yet another hugely successful Simmer Down Festival, as the likes of Misty In Roots, Dennis Lloyd, Pulse Beat, Nash + Abel, Lekan Babalola’s Sacred Funk Project featuring R T Kal and the Handsworth Community Choir made this arguably the best there ever was.

And, for the organizers to get the legendary reggae band that is Inner Circle to headline what was a truly inter-cultural programme features internationally acclaimed artists alongside the very best in homegrown talent - a day to remember for the thousands who turned up, it proved to be the coup of all coups for all concerned.

Covering some 50-years of magical hits, known the world over, present band members including; Ian Lewis, Roger Lewis, Bernard ‘Touter’ Harvey, Lancelot Hall and Trevor ‘Skatta’ Bonnick made for a memorable day with so many there already making plans for next year.

Massive respect must be given to the Parks and Events team from Birmingham City Council, and especially Garry Peal, “The Adopted Jamaican” – a name given to him by The Phoenix Newspaper following the hard work and effort he put in around bringing the Jamaican Track and Field team to Birmingham, and also his work surrounding Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations.

Garry was a visible and visibly loved figure at Simmer Down, as well as at Big Johns Mela on the same day, and is actively involved with events from all communities and all backgrounds on a regular basis. Simmer Down was no exception and the work of the Council support team was evident in the safe and smooth running of the day.

Simmer Down; sponsored by locally-based Crucial Sauce, is the festival which celebrates Birmingham’s rich cultural diversity by paying tribute to the centrality of reggae and other musical genres that have contributed to the city as one of international culture and real diversity. And it, again, proved it ‘all hands down,’ with some of the leading dignitaries present highlighting the impotence of its relevance - on Britain’s second city events calendar and its contribution to making Birmingham such a vibrant and ‘must-visit’ venue.


Check out the full feature in the September edition of The Phoenix Newspaper.

With our very own, world-class theatre right on our doorstep, Birmingham welcomes the wonderful and quirky musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s tale to the Birmingham Hippodrome.

As a child, I was a huge fan of both Roald Dahl’s original story as well as Danny DeVito’s 1996 film adaptation and I honestly didn’t know what to expect from Matilda: The Musical. “Surely there isn’t a better, funnier and more exciting way of telling this story”, I thought. Boy, how wrong I was. Matilda: The Musical is remarkable in every sense of the word – from the set design to the performances and the choreography to the music – it is wall-to-wall brilliance.

During the opening ten to fifteen minutes, I was a little weary. I was enjoying myself, but the audience didn’t seem overly engaged in what they were seeing, with some of the early comedy enticing only a handful of unenthused chuckles, and there were a few moments where I felt that the show itself was wading a little too close to pantomime territory, complete with crazy costumes and deliberately over the top performances. However, and this is a very, very big however – once the story and characters were established, the performance took on a life of its own, with the audience suddenly being seduced by the show and, before long, the crowd were roaring and cheering and applauding until their throats were hoarse and their palms were sore. It was a beautiful thing to witness a packed auditorium “click” at the exact same time. Audience participation is a vital thing when it comes to theatre and, as silly as this may sound, I truly believe that the typical reserved nature of Britons was a major factor in the opening fifteen minutes. We are a famously withdrawn nation of people with our trademark stiff upper lip and phobia of embarrassing ourselves, so nobody wants to be the first person to burst out laughing in a busy theatre; but once one person does it, the ice is broken and engaging in a performance suddenly doesn’t seem daunting anymore – and that was precisely my experience in the opening of Matilda: The Musical. From the moment the first big laugh echoed through the theatre, the entire audience were caught up in the whirlwind of emotion the show throws at you; and that is part of the brilliance of Matilda: The Musical.  In one moment, you’ll be in fits of laughter and the next; you have to pause for a moment because there’s a lump in your throat and have to try your best not to cry in front of everyone. Unless that kind of thing doesn’t embarrass you, in which case you can just let it all out! It is far more cathartic that way.

The cast, comprised predominantly of young children, are truly stunning and transcend their youthfulness by delivering strong, controlled performances, keeping you entranced and never missing a beat. Their professionalism is deeply impressive and the fact that such a huge production rests entirely on their tiny shoulders speaks volumes of the talent these kids have. Of course, this is very much Matilda’s show and I just have to give a special mention to young Nicola Turner, who was our Matilda for the night, for giving a truly breath-taking performance. She imbued Matilda with the necessary strength and defiance that has become synonymous with the character, while also lending a heart wrenching vulnerability to her because, let’s not forget that if you strip away all of the fun and bright colours, Matilda is the story of a neglected child trying to find her place in the world and Turner never loses sight of that. Carly Thoms is also wonderful as Matilda’s teacher Miss Honey; a character who endured an upbringing much like that of Matilda’s and the dynamic between these tormented souls is fantastic. Then there’s the character we all love to hate, the evil Miss Trunchbull, brilliantly portrayed by Craige Els, who reprises the role after playing the character in the West End production for three years between 2014 and 2017. Any time he steps on stage, infused with prosthetic make-up and a bodysuit that makes him look like a hulking hunchback, you can’t help but be mesmerised by Els and his uncanny ability to portray an overwhelmingly irredeemable character in such a way that, while you still hate Trunchbull and the horrid things she does, you can’t help but love every second she’s on stage. Matilda: The Musical is very much an adaptation of the original novel by Roald Dahl as opposed to a reworking of the film adaptation, meaning none of the actors feel obliged to imitate their cinematic counterparts and have the freedom to bring something completely new and unique to their respective roles.

Of course, as a musical, there’s a plethora of musical numbers throughout the production – some are small and intimate and some are big, fun and erratic with intricate choreography and, while I’m certain you’ll leave the theatre with a particular favourite, it has to be said that all of the music in Matilda: The Musical is exquisitely written by Australian comedian and musician, Tim Minchin. If you are familiar with Minchin’s work, you can tell from a mile away that his own, very distinct stamp is all over this musical. He has a stunning ability to write music that is both wickedly smart and funny, while infusing it with so much genuine emotion that in between the belly-laughs, your vision will grow hazy from the tears invading your eyeballs. It’s trademark Tim Minchin. One song in-particular remains seared into my mind and it comes in the shape of a solo performance by Matilda. The song is called “Quiet” and comes when Matilda first realises there is something very different and very powerful about her and that she can’t control what’s going on in her head. It’s a painfully beautiful ballad that will speak to everyone who has ever struggled with feeling different or alone, or the belief that they don’t belong. It is a deep and powerful song that perfectly marks a pivotal moment in the show. I truly hope Minchin works on more musicals in the future, because his unique talents and skillset are perfectly geared towards the stage.

Matilda: The Musical is a dazzling experience that genuinely has something for everyone and feels like a very significant and very immersive communal experience. If you give yourself entirely to the performance and allow yourself to be swept up in the magic, you’re in for an unforgettable experience.

Matilda: The Musical is at the Birmingham Hippodrome from August 15th to September 8th – do not miss it!

Netflix has unveiled the first official images from their upcoming, dark re-imagining of classic American sitcom, Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996-2003).

18-year-old actress Kiernan Shipka stars as Sabrina Spellman in the Netflix Original Series, which reimagines the story as “a dark, coming-of-age tale that follows Sabrina Spellman, as she wrestles to reconcile her dual nature as a half-witch, half-mortal while standing against the evil forces that threaten her, her family and the daylight world that humans inhabit.”

Described as a “Fantasy/Horror”, this reboot comes from Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa – the mind behind the comic book series of the same name, published by Archie Horror – a subsidiary of Archie Comics.

In the world of television, Aguirre-Sacasa is best known as the creator and showrunner of Netflix’s hit show Riverdale, as well as writing and producing episodes of CW’s Supergirl and the musical mega-hit Glee. The fact that Aguirre-Sacasa, the creator of the original comic book series, is also the driving force behind this Netflix adaptation has left many fans extremely excited.

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina also stars British actor Richard Coyle as Father Blackwood, British actress Lucy Davis, most recently seen in Wonder Woman, as Hilda Spellman and Australian actress Miranda Otto, best known as Eowyn in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, as Zelda Spellman.

From Stranger Things to Ozark, and Riverdale to The Crown, Netflix is known for producing quality original content and, with a pre-existing audience already built-in who have grown and matured since the original TV series ended back in 2003 – a deeper and darker exploration of the character is sure to pique interest, meaning Chilling Adventures of Sabrina could be Netflix’s next big hit.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is said to be “tonally in the vein of Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist” and premieres on the streaming juggernaut on October 24th 2018 – just in time for Halloween!

British actor Idris Elba has fuelled rumours that he is in talks with long-time Bond producer, Barbara Broccoli, to take over as the legendary MI6 agent once Daniel Craig steps away from the role.

In a deliberately cryptic tweet, he shared a seemingly irrelevant picture of himself with a funky filter on it, but the interesting part of the tweet is the caption that accompanied it;

“My Name’s Elba. Idris Elba.”

There are several ways one can take this. Either this is Elba’s way of teasing that he is in fact in-talks with the producers and casting directors, or he is simply stoking the fire just to cause a storm among Bond fans everywhere.

The 45-year-old actor, best known for his role as John Luther in hard-hitting British crime-drama Luther and Russel “Stringer” Bell in The Wire – a show often hailed as one of the greatest of all time. Recent years has seen his star-power skyrocket, taking him in to the world of big-budget blockbusters, playing Thor’s trusted friend and confidant Heimdall in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe as well as playing the villainous Krall in Star Trek: Beyond and voicing the deadly Shere Khan in Disney’s live-action remake of The Jungle Book.

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Since sharing the cryptic tweet that sent social-media in to meltdown, Idris has posted a tweet saying “Don’t believe the HYPE…” which many have taken as confirmation that his original tweet was all in jest and that he isn’t involved in any Bond talks.

However, just before tweeting “Don’t believe the HYPE…” he posted a picture of iconic hip-hop group, Public Enemy and, those of you who are familiar with their song “Don’t Believe The Hype” will know that the full lyric is “don’t believe the hype, it’s a sequel” and every new Bond film that comes out is, for all intents and purposes, a sequel.

So, what many have taken as confirmation from Elba that he isn’t involved could actually be more cryptic hints that he actually is. Or maybe we’re just reading too much in to it?

Now, the idea of a black actor taking over the iconic role of James Bond is a controversial one, with many people taking to the internet to express their displeasure with it, stating that Bond creator, Ian Fleming, literally describes the character as a white man with blue eyes and dark hair. In his novel, Casino Royale, one character remarks “Bond reminds me rather of Hoagy Carmichael, but there is something cold and ruthless." Hoagy Carmichael was an American composer, singer and actor born in 1899, who was a tall, slim, white man.

However, there has also been an overwhelming amount of support for the potential casting of Idris Elba, with many remarking that we are living in an ever-evolving and more accepting society, where people of all colours, creeds, religions and backgrounds are seen as equal. Barbara Broccoli herself has been quoted as saying that “now is the time” for a non-white actor to tackle the role and that she believes it will “eventually happen.”

Whether or not Idris Elba is actually up for the role is yet to be confirmed, but one thing is for certain – Idris certainly enjoys fuelling the fire, leaving Bond fans shaken and stirred.

Comedian Jack Whitehall is set to star as Disney’s first “openly-gay” character in Jungle Cruise, based on Disneyland’s theme park ride of the same name where “a small riverboat takes a group of travellers through a jungle filled with dangerous animals and reptiles, with a supernatural element.”

While no official character details have been revealed, a source told The Sun that Whitehall will be “playing a gay man” who is “hugely effete, very camp and very funny.”

Whitehall took to Instagram to express his excitement by saying he is “honoured to be a part of this epic adventure” and went to say “I am having the time of my life with my amazing co-stars.”

However, Omar Sharif Jr, an Egyptian-Canadian actor, model and gay activist, has condemned the decision to cast a straight actor as Disney’s first openly gay character and aimed a tweet directly at Disney – “Really Disney? Your first significant gay role will be played by a straight white man perpetuating stereotypes? Fail! This ship should sink.”

Now, while there has been some backlash against the decision, there has also been a lot of support from celebrities, politicians and the general public, with some of them defending the decision based on the fact that a role should go to the actor best suited for it. Openly gay Labour MP Wes Streeting took to Twitter to defend the decision;

“Shock as actor is asked to play someone different from themselves.” He said. “Isn’t that kind of the point? Wouldn’t always casting gay actors in gay roles be condemned for typecasting?”

No matter where your opinion falls on the issue, it has to be said that this is still a pretty big step forward for Hollywood. For a brand as huge as Disney – a franchise aimed almost exclusively at children and young people – to create and embrace an openly gay character, could potentially lead to other Hollywood heavy-hitters to create and cater more roles to the LGBTQ community. Will that be the case? Only time will tell…

Jungle Cruise will also star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt and is set to release in October, 2019.

The UK’s Communications Regulator, also known as Ofcom, recently published their 2018 Media Nations Report which breaks down the UK’s viewing and listening habits, and the ten most-streamed shows in the UK have been revealed and Netflix is still very much the dominant streaming platform in the UK;

  1. Friends (Netflix)
  2. The Grand Tour (Amazon)
  3. The Crown (Netflix)
  4. Stranger Things (Netflix)
  5. Peaky Blinders (Netflix)
  6. Black Mirror (Netflix)
  7. The Big Bang Theory (Netflix)
  8. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Netflix)
  9. The Good Place (Netflix)
  10. Vikings (Amazon)
That’s right, folks! Iconic American sitcom Friends is the most-streamed show in the UK, despite ending way back in 2004. With old fans returning to re-watch it and falling in love with it all over again and younger audiences who perhaps weren’t even around in its original run discovering it for the very first time, Friends has once again become a cultural phenomenal, just like it was during its original run from 1994-2004.

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Amazon’s motoring series The Grand Tour which follows the escapades of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, stands strong in second place, despite a 7% decline in Prime viewership between the first and second seasons.

Netflix’s historical drama The Crown comes in at number three and Stranger Things, another Netflix Original series that took the world by storm when it started back in 2016, comes in at number four – showing that its popularity is not diminishing over time.

Birmingham-based drama Peaky Blinders comes in at number five, with Black Mirror, The Big Bang Theory, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Good Place and Vikings rounding off the list.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have approved and confirmed some major changes to their annual Academy Awards, also known as The Oscars.

First of all, they are making moves to streamline their broadcast and shorten the televised version of the show to three hours. To achieve this, they plan on cutting out some “below the line” categories that bloat the broadcast by having them announced during the commercial breaks. While one can understand where they are coming from, it also seems like an unintentional insult to the nominees and eventual winners in those particular categories. For many of them, perhaps all of them, this is the biggest night of their lives and a piece of art they have painstakingly worked on is being honoured at the ceremony, so to push their category aside is to inadvertently disregard the hard work they have put in.

Another major change to the ceremony is the introduction of a brand-new award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film. Now, what this vague term essentially means is that big blockbusters that have been snubbed by The Academy for decades will now be eligible for an award. Big superhero movies like The Avengers, big action epics like Mission: Impossible and even horror movies – a genre notoriously disregarded by The Academy – will now see regular nominations.

Unfortunately for The Academy, some of these changes have been met with backlash from both the general public, film critics and filmmakers alike, with the Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film award in-particular being referred to as desperate pandering by The Academy, in an attempt to boost their ratings after the 90th Academy Awards saw a ratings drop of 19% when compared to the 89th Academy Awards, also marking the first time in a decade that the ceremony failed to lock-in over 30 million viewers. Many are frustrated that such a generic category has been fabricated while there is still a distinct absence of recognition for departments such as Stunt Work and Casting – two vital yet often overlooked elements within film.

No matter what you think of the award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film, at the very least it means that there will now be a lot more hardworking people getting recognition for the art they have created, resulting in a lot more joy being spread among the attendees on Oscar night, and joy is never a bad thing – is it?

“In the aftermath of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, Scott Lang grapples with the consequences of his choices as both a superhero and a father. As he struggles to rebalance his home life with his responsibilities as Ant-Man, he's confronted by Hope van Dyne and Dr Hank Pym with an urgent new mission and must once again put on the suit and learn to fight alongside The Wasp in order to take down the mysterious new villain, Ghost.”

Set two years after the events of CIVIL WAR, we find Scott Lang under house-arrest as part of a bargain plea with the US government – two years of house-arrest, followed by three years of probation, with no unauthorised use of his powers, and he will not be tried and convicted for breaching the Sokovia Accords. So, here he is, confined to his house, trying to make the best of a bad situation by spending some quality time with his young daughter. Now, I think it is pretty safe to say that Paul Rudd is one of the most beloved actors working today – he is effortlessly funny and endlessly charming and his down-to-earth ways have amassed a huge following. He’s a genuinely likeable guy, and he brings that likability to the role of Scott Lang and seeing him interact with his daughter in such a funny and authentic way immediately brings the audience back in to his story and makes you remember why you fell in love with him in the first place. The legendary Michael Douglas returns as the O.G himself, Dr Hank Pym. Now, any time a big, A-list acting legend like Douglas signs on for a blockbuster like this, it is very easy to make the assumption that they’re only in it for the money and, while that may very well be the case, it definitely doesn’t affect his performance. Douglas brings a believable vulnerability to Pym – a good man, who has made some terrible decisions throughout his life and is still paying for those decisions, all these years later – and it results in some genuinely touching moments, especially with his daughter Hope van Dyne, played by the exquisite Evangeline Lilly. In fact, an argument could be made that Lilly steals the show here as The Wasp, carrying herself with confidence and exuding badassery.  She kicks more butt in this movie than one could adequately describe and she is entirely believable while doing it. To those us who watched LOST all those years ago, Evangeline’s talent as an actress has always been as clear as day, with her uncanny ability to bring tenderness to such a hard character, audiences will really fall head over heels for Hope van Dyne in ANT-MAN AND THE WASP. She has a lot more to do in this sequel than in the original, and it will leave you desperate for more and I, for one, hope she becomes a staple character in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe going forward, because…well – I’m in love with Evangeline Lilly. Okay? So what? Leave me alone.

Peyton Reed returns for directing duties and he has made a significant progression as a filmmaker since making ANT-MAN back in 2015. He’s more confident in his abilities and there’s a certain flair here that felt absent in its predecessor, with eye-popping action sequences that are leagues above everything we saw in the original, with Ant-Man and The Wasp growing and shrinking at will while decimating hordes of bad guys in fast, frenetic fight scenes that never lose focus of the rapidly changing heroes, intercut with comedy that feels more consistent and assured than before, allowing Paul Rudd and company to really come in to their own, delivering quippy one-liners and goofy dialogue with amusing sincerity. Unfortunately, ANT-MAN AND THE WASP suffers from a few pacing issues that stop the film in its tracks on a number of occasions, and these pacing issues arise when the movie pauses in an attempt to explain all of the crazy quantum science-y stuff at play in the story because, at the end of the day, it’s a fictional science and doesn’t really help us understand what is going on any more or less. Now, the writers are self-aware enough to allude to the absurdity of it all, with Scott Lang pausing for a moment and asking “are you guys just putting the word ‘quantum’ in front of everything?” because that is exactly what it feels like and, even though the writers acknowledge it for comedic effect, it doesn’t make it any less detrimental to the flow of the film. This may not seem like a major issue, but for a film that gets everything else so right, it really prevents ANT-MAN AND THE WASP from breaking out of the mid-tier of Marvel adventures. It also has a pretty flat ending, which is saved by a tantalising mid-credits scene. In true Marvel fashion, there is also a post-credits scene, but I will warn you now – it is a scene that serves as nothing more than one final joke that almost feels like it’s poking fun at those of us who chose to stick around to see it. In fact, it is such a throwaway moment that it’s actually included in all of the trailers. I’m not kidding. If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve already seen the post-credits scene. Boy, Marvel Studios really are getting a little cocky with all their success, aren’t they?

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ANT-MAN AND THE WASP is a lighter, much breezier entry in the ongoing Marvel canon and is the palate cleanser we so desperately needed after the hard-hitting AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR came along and broke our collective hearts all those months ago. It’s a hell of a lot of fun but it tangles itself up in excessive exposition in a desperate attempt to explain and clarify a fictional science and, in the end, it still just sounds like a bunch of scientific words strung together to form sentences that don’t really mean anything. Other than that, there is a hell of a lot to love about this movie and, aside from Marvel’s intergalactic escapades like GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and THOR: RAGNAROK, both of which are wickedly funny and lovably goofy, there’s a strong chance ANT-MAN AND THE WASP may be the funniest earth-set movie in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and, while it is hard to imagine it having any kind of lasting impact on the MCU as a whole, it is still a fun slice of creamy escapism to sink your teeth in to.

Hollywood legend, Robert Redford, has announced that his upcoming role in David Lowrey’s The Old Man and the Gun will be his last, as he plans to retire from acting to focus solely on directing.

Now, while this means Redford’s presence in Hollywood will still be strong for years to come, the announcement still brings an end to an iconic acting career that has spanned 78 projects across 58 years, touching generation after generation. Appearing in countless classics such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, All The President’s Men, The Great Gatsby and A Bridge Too Far, it is difficult to imagine a time when Redford hasn’t been in our lives. More recently, he has made a variety of intriguing choices, appearing in the epic superhero adventure Captain America: The Winter Soldier as the sinister Alexander Pierce, where he was given the opportunity to flex his villainous muscles; something he has rarely done throughout his career, while also appearing in the beautiful and heart-felt reimagining of the family favourite Pete’s Dragon; a film about a young orphan boy who befriends an adorable dragon after a heart-breaking tragedy leaves him alone in the woods. As well as appearing in big-budget blockbusters, Redford also dedicated time to much smaller, more intimate projects such as All Is Lost – a one-man show with minimal dialogue about a man lost alone at sea after his boat collides with a shipping container. All Is Lost is an under-appreciated gem and proof that, even in the twilight of his career, Redford was still prepared to challenge himself as an artist and push the boundaries of what audiences expected of him. Then, there is the wonderful Our Souls at Night, A Netflix Original Movie that tells the story of Louis Waters (Robert Redford) and Addie Moore (Jane Fonda), two aging widows who begin to form a connection in an attempt to make the most of the life they have left. It is a gorgeous, low-key Romantic-Drama featuring two acting giants exploring a story that Hollywood so often reserves for much younger performers.

Aside from his glowing acting career, Robert Redford also founded the Sundance Institute; a non-profit organization dedicated to the discovery, inspiration, support and development of independent filmmakers and theatre artists.  Redford truly has dedicated his life to the world of cinema, both professionally and personally, excelling in his own career while helping others find their voice so they can start building their own. While Redford will always remain a Hollywood juggernaut, his diminished presence will be a big loss for fans everywhere.

The screen will miss you, Mr. Redford.

Catch Robert Redford’s final performance on December 7th, 2018 in The Old Man and the Gun – based on the true story of Forrest Tucker and his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public.

England and Tottenham Captain Harry Kane, who recently led our international football squad in a valiant effort at the 2018 World Cup, defying the odds and uniting a nation has welcomed a beautiful baby daughter in to the world, mere days before the new Premier League season gets underway.

Harry Kane took to Twitter to announce the news and shared a wonderful photograph of himself and his fiancée Kate Goodland with their beautiful baby daughter, Vivienne Jane Kane.

The 25-year-old striker captioned the photograph with "Our beautiful addition to the family! Vivienne Jane Kane. I’m so proud of Kate Goodland for having the most amazing water birth with no pain relief at all."

It has been quite the summer for Harry Kane, having led England’s most successful shot at the World Cup title since 1990, emerging as the top goal scorer and winning the Golden Boot. The summer of 2018 is most definitely one for books for the Kane family.

All of us here at The Phoenix Newspaper would like to congratulate Harry Kane and Kate Goodland on their news and we wish nothing but health and happiness for them and their newest addition to the family.

EastEnders’ star, Rudolph Walker, together with Britain’s Got Talent phenomenon, Donchez Dacres, will take to the stage at this year’s Simmer Down Festival in a bid to raise awareness of the increased risk of prostate cancer in black men.

The two celebrities have joined forces with Simmer Down’s charity partner, Prostate Cancer UK, after new figures released by the charity today(i)reveal that a startling 70 per cent of black men are unaware that black ethnicity is a primary risk factor for the disease. Well over half (60%) of black men over the age of 45 have also never heard of, or don’t know what the PSA blood test is – the first diagnostic step for the disease.

One in four black men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime – double the one in eight risk faced by white men in the UK. Rudolph and Donchez will stand alongside Prostate Cancer UK at this year’s festival to raise awareness of the significant risk that prostate cancer poses to the lives of black men and encourage black families to take action.

Rudolph (78), who is most widely known for his role as Patrick Trueman in the BBC soap EastEnders has been a long-time supporter of Prostate Cancer UK and is one of the charity’s Stronger Knowing More ambassadors.

He said: “The first time I heard about prostate cancer was when my uncle was diagnosed over 20 years ago. I was very close with my uncle but I only found out about his diagnosis after talking to his brother in Trinidad. At that point prostate cancer wasn’t really talked about in any detail in the family.

“My uncle was treated with chemotherapy and lived quite a number of years after being diagnosed but he never spoke about it - never mentioned the serious nature of what he was dealing with. At the time I didn’t really understand how serious it was until one day I had a call to tell me that he’d died from the disease.

“Since then I’ve become determined to do my bit to raise awareness of prostate cancer as much as possible, and so I’m delighted to be back at Simmer Down this year. It’s so important that every black man is aware of his risk and takes the necessary steps to protect himself.”

2018 Britain’s Got Talent finalist, Donchez Dacres (61), who rose to fame with his song,Wiggle Wine, is also a proud supporter of Prostate Cancer UK and will take to the stage at this year’s festival for a one-off performance.

He said: “I am a black man over the age of 50, placing me in two ‘at risk’ groups for prostate cancer. A friend of mine was treated for the disease recently and I’ve seen first-hand the impact it can have on the lives of men and their families.

“I make sure I’m checked regularly for prostate cancer. Thankfully so far my results have come back clear but one in four black men aren’t so lucky. I’m looking forward to getting up on stage at this year’s festival – not only to get everyone moving to Wiggle Wine but also to encourage all black men over the age of 45 to take the first step and book an appointment with the doctor to discuss their prostate cancer risk. It’s a conversation which could save your life.”

Prostate Cancer UK will be supporting the Simmer Down Festival as part of its Stronger Knowing More campaign. The flagship campaign which has been running since January 2017 aims to inspire black men to face their risk of prostate cancer by having the courage to talk to their doctor and spread the word, so that the disease is picked up earlier and treated in time.  Celebrities that have already pledged their support alongside Rudolph Walker include Benjamin Zephaniah, Linford Christie and David Haye.

It is not clear why black men face a higher than average risk of prostate cancer but it is widely thought that genetics could be an underlying factor. The PSA blood test is the first step towards diagnosis and black men are encouraged to start speaking to their GP about the test from the age of 45 – five years earlier than other men.

Tony Wong, Prostate Cancer UK’s Men at Risk Programme Manager said: “We’re delighted to be back at Simmer Down this year and to have the support of both Rudolph and Donchez. With over two thirds of black men still unaware that black ethnicity is a risk factor for prostate cancer we’ve certainly got a big job to do.

“This is a disease that we can’t afford to ignore.  However, as a black man myself I am all too aware of the long-standing taboos that surround prostate cancer within our communities and too many men continue to let pride get in the way of their health. Ultimately, it’s putting lives at risk.

“It’s important to remember that if prostate cancer is caught early it can often be successfully treated and that’s the message we want to get across to men at the festival this year.”

Prostate Cancer UK will have a dedicated area at the festival with information and a Specialist Nurse on hand to speak to people with any questions or concerns about the disease. A number of fun activities will also be taking place at the stand to help raise awareness of the most common cancer in men.

“MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT finds Ethan Hunt and his IMF team in a race against time after a mission goes horribly wrong and nuclear-grade plutonium falls in to the hands of The Apostles – a global terrorist organisation comprised of the surviving members of The Syndicate, who are promising to finish what Ethan Hunt’s ultimate foe, Solomon Lane, started two years earlier.”

Tom Cruise is back for yet another seemingly impossible mission as the world’s most badass secret agent, Ethan Hunt – a character once considered a poor man’s James Bond who has now took on a life of his own, completely separating himself from the rival franchise and establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with who, if we’re all being honest, could probably kick the double-o and the seven out of James Bond. Now, as a Brit, those words feel downright blasphemous leaving my mouth, but there comes a time in every man’s life when he must decide who would win in a fight between two beloved fictional characters and, when it comes down to Hunt vs Bond, I’d have to give the edge to Hunt. Unless we’re talking specifically about Daniel Craig’s Bond, in which case I may be forced to reconsider – but I digress.

Tom Cruise is not the only familiar face returning. Ving Rhames is back as Hunt’s close friend and IMF tech genius Luther, who has been with Hunt since his very first mission back in 1996. Over the years, Cruise and Rhames have developed an excellent rapport and their on-screen chemistry is always fun to watch. Simon Pegg is also back as Benji; another tech-whizz who sometimes doubles as a field agent, and he brings with him that trademark Pegg personality, complete with scathing British sarcasm and awkward British charm. The wonderfully magnetic Rebecca Ferguson returns as the sometimes-ally, sometimes-enemy but always badass Ilsa Faust, whose true intentions are a constant mystery, adding to the ever-escalating tension. Other returning cast-members include Alec Baldwin as Alan Hunley, IMF’s governing body and the wickedly talented Sean Harris, who is as terrifying as ever as Ethan Hunt’s ultimate nemesis, Solomon Lane. There is also a very welcome addition to the cast here in the shape of Henry “The Moustache” Cavill as CIA agent August Walker, who has been tasked with keeping a close eye on Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, with orders to shut them down if things get out of hand. Cavill’s hulking physique contrasts nicely with Cruise’s short, quick and lean physicality, with a fun “strength vs speed” dynamic between the two.

For the first time in the franchises twenty-two year history, we also have a returning director, with Christopher McQuarrie taking on another mission after the fantastic and highly successful ROGUE NATION and once again, he completely knocks it out of the park. It is actually quite difficult to believe that Fallout is only McQuarrie’s fourth feature-film as a director and he is already at a level where he is successfully orchestrating blockbusters of this magnitude, complete with long, intricately choreographed action-sequences and some of the biggest stunts ever committed to screen. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if, going forward, McQuarrie becomes as integral to this franchise as Tom Cruise, returning for each new instalment and finding new ways to blow our collective minds and, while we’re on the subject of having our minds blown, let’s talk about the stunt-work on display in FALLOUT. Seriously, this cannot be overstated – the stunt-work pulled off here are feats of sheer insanity and it’s quite amazing nobody died during the making of this movie. Most of us have known this for years, but if you still had any doubt in your mind then FALLOUT will confirm it for you; Tom Cruise is an absolute psychopath. Love him or hate him, it is difficult not to admire the sheer devotion this man has for his craft, insisting on giving audiences the most authentic cinematic adrenaline shot possible by performing all of his own stunts. If he’s not speeding through oncoming traffic on a motorcycle, he’s leaping from buildings. If he’s not leaping from buildings, he’s hanging from a helicopter thousands of feet in the air. There is nothing Cruise isn’t prepared to do for this franchise and that passion is infectious and rubs off on the rest of the cast and crew, who all up their game to match his madness. In a cinematic climate where CGI has become so commonplace that most people assume anything that seems far-fetched probably isn’t real, it is refreshing to see a big blockbuster franchise that dares to do things the old way.

Now, let’s not forget that this is a MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE movie and if you’ve seen any of the previous instalments, you know you’re in for a big, silly and completely ludicrous globe-trotting adventure and if you can suspend your disbelief for a few hours, you will love this movie. However, if you’re one of those people who prefer their action movies to be dark, gritty and grounded in reality, FALLOUT is not the film for you, because everything that happens in FALLOUT is utterly preposterous, but the material is approached with such a contagious enthusiasm that no matter how ridiculous things get, it never feels forced or out of place.

A complex plot with high stakes, twists and treachery around every corner, a great cast who all look like they’re having an absolute blast and action like nothing you’ve seen before, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT emerges not only as the best entry in the long-running action franchise, but quite simply as one of the greatest action movies ever made. The cast, the direction, the music, the stunts – everything comes together in a perfect storm of filmmaking, resulting in one of the most breathlessly entertaining movies of the year. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE has become the most consistent and reliable action franchise out there, with Tom Cruise and company constantly defying expectations and one-upping themselves with each new entry. One can only imagine where they will take any future instalments, because topping FALLOUT is going to be a very tall order, but I said the same thing about GHOST PROTOCOL and ROGUE NATION, so what the hell do I know?

Words by Antony Brown