Australian actor Chris Hemsworth returns as the muscle bound Norse God with a great big hammer in Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World. The superhero dominance of Hollywood continues unchecked. I've lost count of the number of comic book inspired movies that have arrived or are about to. From Captain America to X-Men, there’s no end in sight. Surprisingly, given their number, almost all have been worthy of attention, and Thor: The Dark World is no exception. The first Thor adventure, directed by Kenneth Branagh, was a dramatic and humorous ride that deserved its critical praise and wide appeal, introducing Thor as a rejected son, banished to Earth by Odin, the Allfather of the Gods. While trying to hang onto his powerful hammer and fighting off colossal, Earth destroying robots, Thor eventually learnt humility and grace.
 

The first trailer for The Desolation of Smaug, film two in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit Trilogy, has arrived and whatever else can be said about Jackson's adaptation of Tolkien's beloved novel, this trailer presents an unquestionably lavish and captivating vision. Alongside familiar faces from An Unexpected Journey, we're introduced to Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) a woodland Elf (created by Jackson and Co.) and Bard the Bowman of Dale (Luke Evans); we also get a better look at Thranduil (Lee Pace) the Elvenking, father of one Legolas Greenleaf (Orlando Bloom) who once more leaps into the fray. Best of all however we get a good glimpse of the dragon Smaug.
 
As Lt. Col. James Rhodes might say (privately at least), Iron Man 3 rox. The first cab off the rank since Joss Whedon's The Avengers, Iron Man 3 is a worthy addition to the Marvel stable. There's no surprise that it fails to measure up to the ensemble magnificence of The Avengers - and really, what could other than The Avengers 2? - but even so, this third Iron Man movie is at least as good as the two that preceded it, and it sets a high benchmark in a year in which we'll see sequels to Thor and Captain America.
 
Disney has sent us a few character posters from The Lone Ranger for your viewing pleasure. Johnny Depp stars as Tonto and Armie Hammer is the title character.  Helena Bonham Carter (a frequent Johnny Depp collaborator) is also on board as Red Harrington. The Lone Ranger is directed by Gore Verbinski and based on the American Old West character serials of the same name. Not really sure what to make of this one. This could be very silly or very funny - or both perhaps? There are two trailers for you to watch after the character posters.
 
When Guillermo del Toro walked away from the helm of The Hobbit movies back in 2010, there was some consolation (for those of us who had been anticipating his distinctive handling of Tolkien’s story) in the knowledge that the director would be able to pursue the host of other projects he was then attached to. At the time these included (but were not limited to) Frankenstein, Dan Simmons’ Drood, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Slaughterhouse-Five, Death: The High Cost of Living, Hellboy 3 and, of course, his decades long ambition to adapt HP Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness.
 
In theory, the video-game-to-movie transition should be smooth, seamless and awesome. Video games that become movies are usually plot-driven games, filled with kick-ass action sequences, mind-blowing kill moves and hot babes. Unfortunately, in practice, things don't go so well.
 
Almost everything worth writing about this topic is in the title, but a bit of padding won’t go astray. The second trailer for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released today by Warner Bros. and Wingnut Films. As impressive and exciting as the first trailer was, giving us our first good glimpse of Middle Earth since the conclusion of Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy almost ten years ago, it was little more than a teaser in comparison to this magnificent second trailer with its sumptuous vision - both rich and thrilling - and real sense of narrative.
 

With a title like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, you could be forgiven for expecting to be heading into the cinema to watch a comedy. Unfortunately director Timur Bekmambetov and writer Seth Grahame-Smith (screenplay and novel) have created an amazingly straight laced, extremely serious tale about the 16th President of the United States as a part-time vampire hunter.
 
How much unrestrained enthusiasm can a reviewer get away with before being dismissed as an uncritical fan, I wonder. I might just be about to find out. For the second time this year I’m struggling to rein in my enthusiasm and keep check of the superlatives I feel the need to toss about with wild abandon in what should be a sober critical review of a remarkable movie. This is not a situation I often find myself in, and it’s all the more surprising as the two movies in question are from the same far-fetched Superhero genre, one that has come to dominate our screens and the box office in the last decade. Few of this genre’s offerings aspire to be any more than entertainment and while that’s not an unworthy aspiration, it’s also true that when the thrill of the moment has passed, there’s often little to say and even less challenge in saying it.
 
Almost three years of silence have followed the announcement that Sam Raimi was attached to direct a big screen adaptation of Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft. Typically a silence of this magnitude indicates that a project has bitten the dust or found its way into development hell, but reading between the lines of Raimi’s recent announcement that he is no longer involved with the movie, it does in fact appear that there may be some life left in this project after all.
 
A prequel to the classic 1939 musical fantasy The Wizard of Oz is on its way and the first trailer has hit. The original film told the story of Dorothy and her dog Toto who end up in the fantastical land of Oz after being caught in a tornado. After meeting the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, they travel to the Emerald City in search of the Wizard of Oz, who Dorthy hopes can help her return home. She is helped on her journey by the Good Witch of the North and pursued by the Wicked Witch of the East (it's a safe bet she was the film's villain). The Wizard of Oz is based on the children's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum published in 1900.
 
Bloody Disgusting announced last week that Viggo Mortensen has been offered the lead role of Henry Clemens in Neil Marshall's The Last Voyage of the Demeter, a spin-off from Bram Stoker’s classic tale of horror, Dracula. The news spread like wildfire, and for good reason. While the offer of a role is just an offer and may be rejected for any number of reasons, and The Last Voyage of the Demeter has been languishing in development hell for the better part of a decade and may in fact never make it out of port, any announcement that includes mention of Neil (Centurion, Dooms Day, The Descent) Marshall, Viggo (Lord of the Rings, The Road) Mortensen in the context of Bram Stoker’s Dracula definitely warrants some excitement.
 
The on again off again big screen adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book appears to be on again. According to Deadline, Disney resurrected the project last Friday with a high six figure bid for the rights, making the studio the third (at least) to take over the project.
 
The Dark Tower film project, an adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower novel series, is back from the dead after Warner Bros. announced they would provide financing. Universal Pictures pulled out of the project in 2011. The original announcement from Universal suggested there would be feature films as well as two seasons of a television series (to bridge the gap between films). Undoubtedly, if the first film is successful, Warner Bros. will follow the same path. HBO (a sister company of Warner Bros.) is expected to produce the TV series if all goes well.
 
Joss Whedon's The Avengers has robbed me of my critical mojo! If you're a regular reader of this site, you'll know that my reviews of SF and fantasy media tend towards critical analysis. I don't apologise for that. Entertainment is never just entertainment and there are values and messages both subtle and overt embedded in all forms of writing - sometimes intentionally but more often than not merely implicit to the beliefs of the writer. When we don't take seriously the entertainment we consume so enthusiastically, there's a risk that we fail to understand the messages that wash over and through us as we're being entertained.
 
Marvel’s The Avengers, featuring an all-star superhero cast led by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark (Iron Man), is about to hit. Every superhero you can poke a stick at (at your own risk of course) will band together to fight a force that threatens the world. Even Thor and The Hulk are along for the ride - and both these guys are known to be anti-social and temperamental in tight situations.
 
On paper, Disney’s John Carter has much going for it. First and foremost, it’s an adaptation of the enduring pulp fiction of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Perhaps best known as the creator of Tarzan, Burroughs’ creations have been hugely influential and have stood the test of time to become classics of the pulp form. Based on Burroughs’ first novel, A Princess of Mars, John Carter’spedigreeis classic science fantasy with its blend of heroic fantasy in a Martian landscape replete with monsters, swordplay, futuristic weaponry and flying ships. The movie adaptation promises high adventure, spectacular effects and creatures and over the top action, and for the most part John Carter delivers on this promise.
 
This week, during a webchat hosted by Empire, Tom Hiddleston (aka Loki) let fall a few tasty morsels about the follow-up to Kenneth Branagh’s mighty Thor. The webchat was primarily concerned with Hiddleston’s latest movie, War Horse, but attention inevitably shifted to Thor 2 and the revelation, straight from the (War) Horse’s mouth, that filming will kick-off this summer in London. The release date has now drifted from 26 July 2013 to 15 November 2013, allowing Marvel Studios a healthy 18 months for filming and post-production.
 
If you've seen the six minute prologue to Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, you will almost certainly have an opinion about the quality of the audio track, or more precisely the clarity of the new villain’s voice. Bane is played by Tom Hardy, a fine actor with a formidable presence, but for this villainous role he is required to speak through a mask that covers much of his face, seemingly muffling his voice.
 
The first full trailer for Peter Jackson's long awaited and highly anticipated adaptation of The Hobbit has been released and it is a glorious vision, to be sure.