Category: Sony Pictures

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Taglines: Something big was leftover.

Flint Lockwood now works at The Live Corp Company for his idol Chester V. But he’s forced to leave his post when he learns that his most infamous machine is still operational and is churning out menacing food-animal hybrids.

After the disastrous food storm in the first film, Flint and his friends are forced to leave the town. Flint accepts the invitation from his idol Chester V to join The Live Corp Company, which has been tasked to clean the island, and where the best inventors in the world create technologies for the betterment of mankind. When Flint discovers that his machine still operates and now creates mutant food beasts like living pickles, hungry tacodiles, shrimpanzees and apple pie-thons, he and his friends must return to save the world.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is an American computer-animated comic science fiction comedy film produced by Sony Pictures Animation and distributed by Columbia Pictures. The film is the sequel to the 2009 film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which was loosely based on Judi and Ron Barrett’s book of the same name. It was directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn, produced by Kirk Bodyfelt, and executive produced by the directors of the first film, Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The film was released on September 27, 2013. The film grossed over $274 million worldwide.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 Poster

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Directed by: Cody Cameron, Kris Pearn
Starring: Anna Faris, Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, Kristen Schaal, James Caan, Benjamin Bratt
Screenplay by: Judi Barrett, Ron Barrett
Production Design by: Justin Thompson
Film Editing by: Robert Fisher Jr., Stan Webb
Art Direction by: David Bleich
Music by: Mark Mothersbaugh
MPAA Rating: PG for mild rude humor.
Studio: Sony Pictures Animation
Release Date: September 27, 2013

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One Direction: This Is Us

One Direction: This Is Us

An intimate all-access look at life on the road for the global music phenomenon. Weaved with stunning live concert footage, this inspiring feature film tells the remarkable story of Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry and Louis’ meteoric rise to fame, from their humble hometown beginnings and competing on the X-Factor, to conquering the world and performing at London’s famed O2 Arena. Hear it from the boys themselves and see through their own eyes what it’s really like to be One Direction.

One Direction – Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson – were discovered by Simon Cowell on the U.K.’s “The X Factor” in 2010. The band quickly gained a following to become one of the competition’s all-time most popular acts, finishing in the final three and garnering a gigantic and loyal fanbase along the way. In March 2012, One Direction’s debut album, “Up All Night,” made U.S. history, as it was the first time a U.K. group’s debut album entered the U.S. Billboard 200 chart at No. 1. The band has sold over 13 million records worldwide. In November 2012, One Direction released their sophomore album, “Take Me Home,” which includes the hit “Live While We’re Young.”

About the Production

Global superstars, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson introduce to you their big screen debut: ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US. More than just a filmed concert and tour documentary, this is a chance to get up close and personal with the world’s biggest band. Filmed while the guys were taking their world tour to arenas around the globe — from Mexico to Japan to London’s famed O2 arena — the movie mixes high-energy performance footage, candid interviews, and behind the scenes footage to offer a one-of-a-kind perspective into the talent, hard work and mischief that goes into being One Direction. It’s a remarkable story of humble origins, an unprecedented rise to fame and a fan-driven phenomenon that enabled One Direction to conquer the world.

From the Beginning

In the summer of 2010, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson entered Britain’s biggest talent show “The X Factor,” as talented individual artists. At the boot camp stage of the competition X Factor judge Simon Cowell offered the guys the opportunity to stay in the competition as a group.

“I saw five solo artists who were five solo stars, but would be stronger in a group, it was that simple,” says Cowell, a producer on ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US. “I liked each of them individually, and something made me think they would work really well as a group.”

Calling themselves One Direction, they were immediate sensations. A group of talented and cheeky guys who immediately captured a nation of young girls. They didn’t look or sound pre-packaged, they just exuded talent, friendship and charisma both on and off stage.

Says Cowell, “Right from the get-go, if I’d be honest … I was very much of the attitude, ‘I’m not gonna tell you what to do. You can probably tell me what to do,’ you know? ‘You’ve got to sort it out for yourself, ‘cause I think you’re smart enough.’ And that’s always been the way it’s worked with these boys. I had this just amazing confidence in them.”

Fans responded in their thousands, flooding social media, waiting for hours outside TV studios, and voting the boys through each round of the competition through to the grand final. Though they came in third overall on the show – narrowly missing the record deal awarded the first prize winner – the boys knew instinctively that this was not the last the world would see of One Direction.

That instinct to stay together instantly paid off. The band signed to their “X Factor” mentor Cowell’s record label, Syco Records and quickly got to work recording their debut album whilst performing across the UK and Ireland on the X Factor Live Tour. A book chronicling their experience on the road – Forever Young – went straight to number 1 on The Times Best Seller List. The album, meanwhile, was coming together with a stellar team of writers and producers, from Steve Mac (Westlife, Leona Lewis) to Rami Yacoub (Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys) and Red One (Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez).

The band’s debut album, Up All Night, released in October 2011, was an instant smash; a feat forecast by the fact that their first single, What Makes You Beautiful, had already become the biggest single pre-order in Sony Music’s history. In the United States, the boys sought North American success with a string of appearances and performances that not only turned What Makes You Beautiful into an iTunes hit, but led Up All Night to a feat never before achieved by a British band: entering the Billboard chart at number one with their debut record. With three MTV Video Music Awards, a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award (for Favorite UK artist), and three MTV Europe Music Awards (including Best New Act and Best UK & Ireland Act), it truly seemed there was no stopping their rise to the top.

The band’s sophomore album, Take Me Home turned 2012 into a banner year for the boys, hitting the top of pre-order charts in 50 countries. The album’s first single, Live While We’re Young, went straight to No. 1. All in all, Take Me Home topped the charts in 37 countries. The Take Me Home tour, which continued into 2013, was a global sellout, taking Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry, and Louis to Europe, North America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

In July, they released Best Song Ever, a track written specifically for the film. The fun and cheeky video for the song (Directed by Ben Winston) broke records on VEVO with 12.4 million views in one day, making it the most viewed debut video ever on the platform.

Cowell says, “What I’ve loved about working with the boys is that they haven’t taken anything for granted, and they still appreciate and still are in awe of what’s going on. They’ve survived, and they’ll continue to survive because first of all, they’re smart, and secondly they understand their audience and respect their fans. They’ve matured really, really quickly.”

During the tour, though, the notion of a film came together, giving the boys a chance to conquer an entirely different medium.

Making the Movie

When Morgan Spurlock was approached to make a movie about One Direction, he jumped at the chance. “One of the things I’ve always tried to do from the very beginning of my career is create very popular documentaries,” says the Super Size Me director. “And I think that this film, coming off the work I’ve done in the past is the next step. Making something that’s successful to a large audience that tells a great story, that is really intimate and gets you into their lives, but at the same time, is also really entertaining and engaging, with great music.”

Naturally, meeting Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry and Louis was important. Spurlock found the boys completely charming but also level-headed about the phenomenon they were in the middle of experiencing. Notes Spurlock, “They’re very fun. I think they’re incredibly grounded considering the amount of crazy that’s surrounding their lives on a daily basis. And I think that was one of the things that I really liked about them.”

It’s not enough, says Spurlock, that they’re “five good looking guys that get put together in a band. That happens all the time. But the fact that, you know, they actually had the talent and the ability and the drive to kind of push it as far as they have, and continue to do, is remarkable.”

Spurlock filmed in various locales for almost six months, including the band’s performance in Mexico City in early June, 2013. The crew number ranged anywhere from Spurlock alone holding a camera without even an audio person, to fully coordinated concert set-ups involving, says the director, “an army of people.” Filming the band’s O2 performances alone were massive undertakings for someone used to the run-and-gun nature of most documentaries. Says Spurlock, “Probably about, I don’t know, 250 people were working on the concert when we shot at the O2, it was massive.”

As for the behind-the-scenes footage, which runs the gamut from backstage mischief before the show to touching hometown scenes, like Harry working at the family bakery, those moments alone amounted to 500 hours of material. Editing it down was challenging, but the band were instrumental in helping Spurlock and the editors pick the most choice moments. Says Spurlock, “They’ve given really insightful feedback about things that are very personal to them … to things that they remembered that we shot that we have forgotten about, and to remind us to dig and find. It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re right, that was a great moment.’”

For producer Cowell, Spurlock was the ideal choice as director because he was never going to stage scenes or manufacture magic. “Morgan is somebody who likes to kind of eavesdrop,” says Cowell. “He wants to pick stuff up without people realizing that they’re being filmed and that’s his skill and he’s very patient. It’s not about set pieces or ‘Do this for the camera.’ He’s just put the cameras in all these different places and he’s just filmed what it’s like being in this group. It’s fascinating.”

What ultimately emerged from the editing process was the sense that moviegoers were going to get a special peek into the members’ lives. Adds Spurlock, “You feel like you really do get to become a part of this journey and these boys and this band.” It could even generate new fans, he suggests. “I think every One Direction fan should take someone who isn’t a One Direction fan, because I think when people see the movie, they’ll see a different side to these boys that they probably didn’t think existed or they didn’t think they would enjoy. And I bet they’ll convert a lot more fans than they think they will.”

As for the decision to film the 02 concerts in 3D, Cowell says it’s “unbelievable. The 3D is sensational. It actually makes the concert like being there. It’s really clever.”

None of ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US would have happened, however, if the boys hadn’t put their faith in the project, and from the get-go, they all believed in what could be achieved.

“There’s a tremendous amount of trust you have to have, between you and the subjects that are in the film,” says Spurlock. “It takes time. It takes conversations. You have to spend time with one another to talk, feel comfortable, and know that this person is there to tell an honest story about you, and tell a story that you ultimately want to be told. And, you know, I give them credit. I mean, they were really open and honest with us about their lives, their fears, about the things that were going on with them, and kind of letting us come into their world. It’s a big undertaking, and it takes a lot of courage, and they were fantastic about it.”

In the end, says the director, the boys in One Direction understood that this was an opportunity to document a special time in their lives. “They realize this movie is a time capsule,” notes Spurlock. “They already know how special it is, and to be able to have something like this where you can really show – whether it be your family down the road, your kids down the road, something you just want to keep for yourself – that really does capture the essence of this moment in its purest form.” Adds Spurlock, “I think they’ll treasure this whole experience.”

And is he now a fan?

“Listen, I’ve seen thirty-plus One Direction concerts at this point,” says Spurlock. “I am like a hardcore Directioner now!”

One Direction: This Is Us Poster

One Direction: This Is Us

Directed by: Morgan Spurlock
Starring: Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Jon Shone, Dan Richards, Sandy Beales, Josh Devine
Cinematography by: Neil Harvey
Film Editing by: Marrian Cho, Guy Harding, Cori McKenna, Wyatt Smith, Pierre Takal
Music by: Simon Franglen
MPAA Rating: PG for mild language.
Studio: Sony Pictures
Release Date: August 30, 2013

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Elysium

Elysium Movie

In the year 2154, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined planet. The people of Earth are desperate to escape the crime and poverty that is now rampant throughout the land.

The only man with the chance to bring equality to these worlds is Max (Matt Damon), an ordinary guy in desperate need to get to Elysium. With his life hanging in the balance, he reluctantly takes on a dangerous mission – one that pits him against Elysium’s Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and her hard-line forces – but if he succeeds, he could save not only his own life, but millions of people on Earth as well.

About the Film

In 2009, Neill Blomkamp burst onto the scene with his first feature film, District 9. It was an enormous critical and commercial success: critics praised Blomkamp’s filmmaking style, and audiences around the world turned out to the box office to support the film’s originality and innovation. But the reason it resonated was that the movie had themes that grabbed the audience: the way the film seamlessly blended a genre alien-invasion movie with biting and relevant social commentary pleased both moviegoing audiences and members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who nominated the movie for Oscars® for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Elysium Movie - Jodie Foster

In his film, Elysium, Blomkamp has drawn two distinct and separate worlds: an overpopulated, ruined Earth, and Elysium, a man-made space station for the extremely wealthy. While in 2013, six astronauts live and work on the international space station orbiting about 250 miles above the surface of the Earth, 150 years from now, in Blomkamp’s vision, those humble beginnings will expand to become a home with the best of everything for the rich. “The idea, in a way, is ludicrous,” says Blomkamp. “The idea of taking up stone, and mortar, and concrete, and swimming pools – and everything you’d need to build these mansions in a space station – is satire. It just reinforces the central idea of the film – the people of Elysium have unimaginable wealth, and they use those resources to build a separate, synthetic, almost hermetic environment for themselves. In that way, Elysium is the reverse of an alien-invasion story – it’s still about human beings trying to protect a way of life, but instead of fighting for Earth, they do it by going into space.”

Blomkamp based his ideas for a perfect world apart from a desperate, ruined Earth on real-life concepts. “Back in the ‘70s, people were actually discussing the idea of leaving Earth and building space stations for us to potentially live on one day. One of the top answers to that challenge was the Stanford Torus. I like the idea of taking this well-known concept and caking it with wealth, diamonds and Bel Air-style mansions – the idea, the image, of putting these exorbitant, ridiculous mansions on a doughnut-shaped space station is hilarious to me, and it becomes something I want to make a movie about.”

Elysium Movie

Simon Kinberg, who produces the film with Blomkamp and Bill Block, says that the non-stop action of Elysium and the political subtext of the film mesh well together, because both come out of who Blomkamp is as a writer and director. “First and foremost, Elysium is an action movie, but the thing about Neill is that he happens to be very interested in the world and politics,” he says. “There are themes in the movie that you wouldn’t expect from a summer action movie, but hopefully, a moviegoer can see the movie and enjoy the action experience, but have something seep in about the real world as well.”

“Neill has the gravitas and expertise as a filmmaker to deliver a crackling action thriller that also tackles serious themes and subjects,” adds Block, the CEO of QED International, which also produced District 9. “After our experience with Neill on District 9, we were thrilled to do this one with Modi Wiczyk and MRC.”

“I want to blow things up as much as I want to make films that are about serious topics,” Blomkamp says. “I’m more of a visual artist than anything else. I don’t want to make movies that are too serious – I like action and visual imagery, and that’s where it starts for me. But I’m also interested in politics, so once I’ve set up the world and start getting into character and story, the political ideas that intrigue me work their way in there. The subjects that interest me tend to be large, sociological concepts, and I like the idea of making films about those concepts in ways that aren’t heavy-handed or preachy – I hope that putting these topics in this setting will let the audience look at them from a different perspective. The most important thing to me is that the movie is entertaining, but I like to put a worthwhile story underneath, so it isn’t just pure popcorn.”

“I like to think it’s a hopeful message,” says Matt Damon, who takes on the lead role of the film. “Even in a future where it’s every man for himself, it’ll be possible for a human being to hold on to his humanity.”

Just as District 9 explored ideas of social justice, class separation, and race relations, Elysium asks important questions about where we are now in a context of where we are going. “The entire film is an allegory,” Blomkamp says. “I tend to think a lot about the topic of wealth discrepancy and how that affects immigration, and I think the further we go down the path that we are on, the more the world will represent the one in Elysium. In that sense, I think the questions that underlie the film are quite accurate.”

In fact, Blomkamp says that the heart of the conflict is more real than one might realize. “When people see the wealth of Elysium back-to-back with the poverty of Earth, I think some will think that it’s more extreme than reality – and it is not. The two things exist, on Earth, right now,” he says. “In Mexico City, in Johannesburg, in Rio, you have pockets of great wealth, gated communities, amidst a sea of poverty. And I think that’s where the cities of the US are going to end up, too – that’s why the movie is set in Los Angeles. But that disparity can’t last.And I don’t know what we’re going to get – whether we’re going to pull ourselves forward or self-implode. Elysium is the fork in the road.”

About the Production

To portray the world of Elysium, it was necessary to draw two very distinct and different worlds – with two locations and two styles of shooting. “Contrast was a huge part of making this film, because we wanted to show Earth and Elysium back to back,” says Blomkamp. “So, to maintain that very distinct, black-and-white partition between the two places, we thought about every single element of the filmmaking process being separate.”

Production Designer Philip Ivey’s main goal in designing the film was to play upon the contrast been the haves on Elysium and the have-nots on Earth. “The idea is that all of the money is on Elysium,” says Ivey. “But even though Earth has to feel gritty and real to the audience, so do the clean surfaces on Elysium. We have robots trimming the hedges; everything is heavily manicured. It is all made from the finest materials.”

The film was primarily shot in two locations: Mexico City, which doubles for Los Angeles in 2154, and Vancouver, which doubles for Elysium. “Neill’s aesthetic sensibility is about making things real, and that comes through both in the locations and the action,” says Kinberg. One of the other aspects of District 9 that captured audiences and critics was that at times, the film felt real – dramatic scenes, mockumentary footage, and real news video were all part of the same story. Kinberg says that Blomkamp brings the same sensibility to Elysium. “The sun is real, the smoke is real, the smell is real. The chaos, struggle, and danger of the city informs and infects the movie. Physical action feels gritty and real.”

Filming in Mexico – especially in some of the poorest parts of the country – the irony was not lost on the cast or crew. “As we were filming, I couldn’t help but feel that we are living in our own private Elysium – our own version of this story,” says William Fichtner. “The fact that the people of Elysium want to keep their perfect place for themselves, well, that’s not unlike our circumstances today.”

Another way that Fichtner’s character is shown as living in literally a different world from the residents of Earth is in his vehicle – represented by one of the world’s most exclusive brands. “We approached Bugatti to see what they would come up with if they were designing a shuttle between Earth and Elysium,” says Cameron Waldbauer, the film’s Special Effects Coordinator. “In two days, they turned around a bunch of illustrations – Neill picked one that he really liked, we 3D modeled it, and then we made it, out of foam and fiberglass.” The shuttle even has the Bugatti badge.

For the design of Elysium, the filmmakers went in the opposite direction. Even though the rich of Elysium can afford the best of everything, “Money doesn’t necessarily buy taste,” Ivey notes. “You have your faux Tuscan mansions, your Malibu modern, the ultramodern houses. And out the windows, thanks to the visual effects, you see the other side of the Torus and spacecraft flying through.”

For certain set concepts on Elysium, the filmmakers called upon the legendary futurist designer Syd Mead (Blade Runner, Tron, Aliens). “It was an honor to have met him and worked with him,” says Ivey. “He did a number of concept illustrations of the torus for us very early on. Later, as the project progressed, Syd’s main contributions were in the overall geometry of the control room and the briefing room. Those are two of my favorite sets in the film.”

The stunts were overseen by Mike Mitchell, the film’s stunt coordinator. “For me, the process began by jumping around in Neill’s office, moving his couches and grabbing glasses and pretending they’re props,” he says. “From that moment, Neill and I started clicking.”

For Mitchell, working with Matt Damon was working with a natural. “He has an exceptional ability to remember movement,” says Mitchell. “He speaks our language. I’m sure he’s been greatly tuned by his work on the Bourne films – but it’s crazy. You can show him six or seven moves in a fight, and then you’ll go to lunch, come back and he’ll say, ‘OK, that was a left, a slip, a right, and that elbow?’ I’d look at Shaun Beaton, Matt’s stunt double, and go ‘OK.’ We don’t remember, but he does.”

About the Special and Visual Effects

Elysium marks a hybrid between the special and visual effects – capturing in camera what could be physically built and in the computer what could not, and, in some cases, blending the two techniques.

“Neill wants to make a movie that people haven’t seen before,” says Visual Effects Supervisor Peter Muyzers. “Every director does that to one extent or another, but Neill takes it to another level. He creates the story, develops it, and gives them an experience unlike any other out there.”

Blomkamp began by giving strong direction on the look of the droids and the weaponry to the artists at WETA Workshop, who also designed the aliens and weaponry on District 9. They would also design the “HULC suit” – the biomechanical exoskeleton that Max wears and gives him superhuman abilities, even as he is dying.

“It was my favorite prop in the movie,” says Special Makeup FX / Costume / Props Supervisor Joe Dunckley. “When we first got the brief from Neill, it was difficult to imagine how we were going to execute it. In the end, it came off great.”

According to Dunckley, the HULC suit required eight months of research and development and 75 revisions before the design was finalized. In the end, the actor wearing the suit was impressed. “The big thing was mobility,” says Damon. “Elysium is a real action movie, with running and jumping and climbing and fighting, so they wanted to make sure that I could actually move in the suit, and the guys at WETA knocked that out completely. I had 100% mobility. Everything looked metal, but it was super-lightweight, just 25 pounds, distributed all over my body. I could stay in it all day and I’d feel totally fine.”

There are several different kinds of droids populating the world of Elysium – police officers, military, government, medical – and though most would be completed by the visual effects artists at Image Engine (which also created the aliens of District 9), the design process began at WETA Workshop. “The process of designing the droids was very similar to what we did on District 9,” says Dunckley. “Neill wanted them to have a similar size and proportion to humans, but a much sleeker look.”

And that humanoid, bi-pedal form was no accident. “We had to make sure that the design allowed us to cover up the actors,” says Dunckley. Indeed, during production, the roles of the droids were played by stuntmen in gray suits and painted out later, in the computer, by the VFX artists.

“The most important aspect of creating the performance of the droids was making sure that Neill could direct that performance on set with the gray suit actors to achieve a realistic interaction with the cast and environment,” says Muyzers. “Then we could replace that actor with a droid in postproduction and maintain that performance all the way through. We didn’t use motion capture, but the animators were able to directly translate all of the nuances of the droid’s actions frame by frame in exactly the way Neill wanted it.”

Muyzers re-teams with Blomkamp after collaborating with the director on District 9. “District 9 was fairly straightforward – we had a real environment, and we put characters into that environment as realistically as we could,” he says. “On Elysium, it was almost the other way around – Neill wanted to create a world that didn’t exist, but had to look absolutely believable. We created the environment into which we inserted live-action characters. Because of what Elysium is – the home of the very rich – we did lots of research. Neill provided us with images and video of Beverly Hills and Hollywood and the luxury lifestyle. We coordinated closely with Phil Ivey, the production designer, to determine the size of the ring, the width of the ring, how many people could live on Elysium, and how many houses would there be, what do these houses look like, what kind of infrastructure would there be and then obviously, how you get to Elysium. We ended up with a ring three kilometers wide, with a diameter of sixty kilometers – that translates to about a half-million people, living on this space station.”

The most challenging visual effect, says Muyzers, are the establishing shots of Elysium. “It had to be a design, a torus, that you could see in the sky when you’re on Earth. Even when you’re far away, it has to be recognizable as a ring, like you’re holding your wedding band up to the sky,” he says.

Elysium Movie Poster

Elysium

Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Alice Braga, Sharlto Copley, Diego Luna, Emma Tremblay
Screenplay by: Neill Blomkamp
Production Design by: Philip Ivey
Cinematography by: Trent Opaloch
Film Editing by: Julian Clarke, Lee Smith
Costume Design by: April Ferry
Set Decoration by: Peter Lando
Music by: Ryan Amon
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence and language throughout.
Studio: Sony Pictures
Release Date: August 9, 2013

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The Smurfs 2

The Smurfs 2 Movie

In this sequel to Columbia Pictures / Sony Pictures Animation’s hybrid live action / animated family blockbuster comedy “The Smurfs,” the evil wizard Gargamel creates a couple of mischievous Smurf-like creatures called the Naughties that he hopes will let him harness the all-powerful, magical Smurf-essence. But when he discovers that only a real Smurf can give him what he wants, and only a secret spell that Smurfette knows can turn the Naughties into real Smurfs, Gargamel kidnaps Smurfette and brings her to Paris, where he has been winning the adoration of millions as the world’s greatest sorcerer.

It’s up to Papa, Clumsy, Grouchy, and Vanity to return to our time, reunite with their human friends Patrick and Grace Winslow, and rescue her! Will Smurfette, who has always felt different from the other Smurfs, find a new connection with the Naughties Vexy and Hackus – or will the Smurfs convince her that their love for her is True Blue? Returning cast includes Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Sofia Vergara, with Katy Perry as Smurfette and Hank Azaria as Gargamel. Brendan Gleeson joins the cast as Victor. Joining the voice cast are Christina Ricci and JB Smoove as Vexy and Hackus.

About the Production

In Columbia Pictures / Sony Pictures Animation’s 2011 hit The Smurfs, the world’s favorite three-apple-high heroes proved that fifty years of success in every medium is no accident. Since first appearing in the pages of a Belgian comic book in 1958, Peyo’s Smurfs have entertained children and adults around the world, coming to life in comics, books, television series, films, videogames, live shows, figurines (over 300 million sold)… and, finally, they ruled the world’s box office.

The Smurfs 2 Movie

The film was truly a global phenomenon, going on to take in over $560 million. “Whether you live in Brazil, or in China, or in Russia, or Paris, or Belgium, or New York… whether they’re los Pitufos, or i Puffi, or les Schtroumpfs… everybody loves the Smurfs,” says producer Jordan Kerner. “With The Smurfs, and now The Smurfs 2, we’re seeking to make films that translate across all geographical boundaries – which fits, because the themes of the Smurfs cross all cultures.”

“These are characters that live in people’s childhoods,” Kerner explains. “They are remembered and revered in the hearts of the generations who saw or read them. So we believed it was our duty to take the characters that the audience knew and loved, and expand them into a present time, from an emotional and a comedic standpoint. Peyo’s daughter and a co-producer on the film Veronique Culliford and I work extremely closely together on the development of the stories – I’m very lucky that we get to work on a second film, because I love the characters, I love to see how they grow and change, and I desperately want to know what’s going to happen to them after the movie’s over. How could you not want to know what happens to Clumsy, Brainy, Grouchy, Papa, Smurfette, and Gargamel – the characters the writers and Raja brought to the screen?”

And what happens is this: where the first film saw our adorable blue friends taking a bite out of the Big Apple, The Smurfs 2 sees them showing off their cosmopolitan appeal with a new adventure that takes them to the City of Light – Paris, France!

“The most exciting thing for me, as a director, is setting this huge adventure all through Paris,” says Raja Gosnell, who directs the film, reprising his role from the first film. “We even got to film places where, to my knowledge, no one has ever filmed before. We were on stage in the Paris Opera House, we shot in the flying buttresses of Notre Dame. Between the great love of the Smurfs and the work that Jordan and our co-producer Raphael Benoliel did with the Paris authorities, we got into places where I thought we’d never get to shoot. What more can a director ask for?”

As the film begins, Smurfette is in the Smurf village, surrounded by her brothers and Papa, but still feeling somewhat alone. After all, she hasn’t quite come to terms with her origins. As everyone knows, Smurfette was created by Gargamel as part of one of his evil schemes – but Papa used love and a magic spell to turn her into a True Blue Smurf. That was all a long time ago, but still… she’s not quite sure about it all. “She starts to ask herself some questions: where does she come from, does she fit in,” says Katy Perry, who voices Smurfette. “In a way, it’s like she’s becoming a teenager, asking the same kinds of questions we all go through when we come of age. She’s really trying to figure out if she’s a real Smurf. She was created by Gargamel, so there’s a bit of naughtiness that’s been subdued for a long, long time. But it’s not about where you came from or who created you; it’s what you choose to be and where you want to go in life.”

About the Smurfs

Feisty SMURFETTE hasn’t been feeling like her sparkly self – it’s her birthday and that always brings reflection. She’s been having some uneasy thoughts that maybe she isn’t really 100% true blue Smurf. True, Gargamel created her, but Papa used magic to make her a real Smurf. So, when Gargamel kidnaps her on the eve of her birthday, and she is introduced to her newly-created siblings, the Naughties, she starts to form a bond. Papa musters a daring rescue, but will she choose the family she knows, or the new family she’s discovered?

Nine-time Grammy Award nominee Katy Perry lends her own nuanced, energetic, and sensitive combination to the voice of Smurfette.

“It was fun to get back into character,” says Perry. “I blocked out a couple of days to prepare for it, because I get into a zone where I really have to turn it on. Smurfette isn’t my normal voice – it’s like my voice and a bag of rocks, with a pinch of sugar.”

Perry says she was gratified by the chance to work in scenes opposite Christina Ricci. “It’s nice to know that she’s playing my evil twin,” says Perry. “I really look up to her, both as a person and as an actress – she’s done so many incredible films.”

“Katy’s performance is amazing, because she’s able to portray both sides of Smurfette – from one moment to the next, she finds the character immediately,” says Kerner. “On the one hand, you have the kittenish, funny, sweet Smurfette character that everyone in Smurf Village embraces. On the other hand, this is a very dramatic story for her character – she’s kidnapped, separated from the Smurfs, and thinks she’s never going to see her family again. All of that sense of abandonment, and loneliness, and fear comes through in Katy’s vocal performance. She’s just revelatory as a comedic actress. She will be a major comedienne in films. Brilliant instincts, inherently funny, and just beautiful.”

PAPA SMURF is, of course, the wise, kind and gentle parent to his 100 children (99 boys and 1 girl), doing his best to make each one feel safe and loved and keep the Village a happy place. When Smurfette is kidnapped by Gargamel, it’s all for Smurf and Smurf for all! Papa loves all his children equally, but can’t deny that the bond with his adopted daughter has always been special. She’s always felt like she doesn’t belong, and even Papa isn’t quite sure how to prove to her that she’s a True Blue Smurf.

The late comedy legend Jonathan Winters is the voice behind the altruistic, gentle and wise Papa Smurf. Even after a heroic trip to New York City, CLUMSY has not developed any new, graceful moves. That’s OK – he knows that it’s what’s on the inside that counts most. So while he might not seem like an obvious choice for a rescue mission – and in fact, it’s his two left feet that bumble him into the job – he just might be a perfect choice after all.

Anton Yelchin gives voice to the innocent, exuberant Smurf with a heart of gold, Clumsy. He says that coming back into the booth to record the character was as comfortable as wrapping oneself in a warm blanket. “We had already done the hard work, on the first film, of figuring out what the character was going to be, what he was going to sound like, so I could just enjoy myself,” says Yelchin. “The second time around, I was used to the way it works – in animation, lines can change, animation can change, and that gives you a freedom in the booth.”

“The first film was about Clumsy discovering that he doesn’t always have to just be clumsy; he can be heroic, too,” Yelchin continues. “I think this film builds on that – he’s still doing everything that got him the name Clumsy in the first place, but now, he thinks of himself as a hero, too – it’s fun to play with that idea. I enjoy playing Clumsy because he’s so much fun – he’s very sensitive and tender, but also very funny and silly. And did I mention he’s a hero? He’d be very upset with me if I didn’t mention that.”

GROUCHY has always been the Smurf to see a dark cloud in any silver lining and going on another rescue mission really ticks him off! But that’s all about to change. In a fit of negativity, he looks for inspiration. He’ll proudly rename himself Positive Smurf! (Really?) With his glass now half-full, he discovers how much an upbeat attitude can contribute – but will the sunny disposition hold up when the Smurfing gets tough?

George Lopez is the voice that captures all of Grouchy’s irascible personality. “Everybody loves a curmudgeon,” says Lopez. “The rest of the Smurfs are all so happy, so it’s fun to see one Smurf try to throw the others under a bus. Even when he complains, you still love him. But in this movie, he gets tired of that. He’s going to try to be positive. It doesn’t work out for him, but he’s trying.”

“There are very few characters that are known all over the world like the Smurfs are. How many people get to be a part of something like that?” he continues.

Meet VANITY, definitely the most handsome guy in the Village – as he’d be the first to tell you. Sure, he’s got charm and looks, but as far as being a valuable member of a search-and-rescue team, the only place you’ll find him looking is in a mirror. Even so, Vanity might just surprise you by revealing an inner depth and courage at a time when it’s needed the most. Or not.

English comedian and star reporter for “The Daily Show” John Oliver provides the voicethat puts the panache in Vanity. “Vanity’s role begins and ends with himself, so there’s no real interaction between Vanity and his immediate surroundings – unless those surroundings are reflective,” says Oliver. “He’s the star of his own world. His first and only skill is narcissism – but if that can help save someone, that’s great.

”Playing anyone that selfish is appealing,” Oliver continues. “The first thing you’re taught as a child is not to be selfish, to share things, to be nice to other people. And Vanity kicks against all of that. To him, no one is as good as he is. That’s quite fun to mess around with – the idea that spectacular things can happen all around you, and all of it is less impressive than your own face.”

“I’m British, which, by extension, makes me European, so the Smurfs were an iconic part of my childhood,” says the actor. “It wasn’t something you needed to seek out – it was just there all the time. They were a predominant cultural force – these strange, blue, Belgian creatures.”

The film is also packed with cameo roles, ranging from Shaquille O’Neal (Smooth Smurf) to Jimmy Kimmel (Passive-Aggressive Smurf) to Sean White (Clueless Smurf) to Mario Lopez (Social Smurf) to Kevin Lee (Party Planner Smurf) to Mario Lopez (Social Smurf).

About Gargamel

He’s back and out for blue! Unbelievably enough, the repulsive and nasty GARGAMEL is now a global superstar, admired by countless fans who find his Parisian magic stage show astounding and his “evil wizard” act charming. Regardless of all the fame and fortune, he still desperately seeks what he really wants – to be the most powerful conjurer in the world and capture the Smurfs to extract their essence! Creating the Naughties and kidnapping Smurfette is just the beginning of a dastardly plan that might be his ticket to power.

Hank Azaria once again steps into the madness of this wicked wizard. “He’s a miserable, angry, sad person, and the Smurfs are so happy that he takes it personally,” says Azaria. “He hates them for how happy they are. And, because he’s an evil wizard who is obsessed with Smurfs, he naturally concludes that they are all that is standing in his way from becoming the world’s most powerful wizard.”

For Azaria, revisiting Gargamel is sweeter the second time around. “It was easier this time. It’s such a weird character that it made me nervous the first time,” recalls Azaria. “I have to credit Jordan Kerner; he really wanted to make sure the character stayed medieval and antiquated, and Raja Gosnell wanted to make sure that he was heightened and always passionate and crazy. Now, Raja and I have a good shorthand with each other, what we want to try and what we want to do – it’s very pleasant, it’s a really fun job, coming to work and making these little creatures come to life every day.”

In fact, for Azaria, playing Gargamel is like no other role. “It is like being in another world. It really is odd,” describes Azaria. “The experience of making the movie is a little bit insane, since I’m mostly yelling at, screaming at, and chasing nothing – except on the occasions when they bring in a real cat.”

And ah, that cat. Azrael – the only “special someone” in Gargamel’s life. “I think it’s really funny that he has this intensely intimate relationship with a cat that is smarter than him,” says Azaria. “The cat knows better than he does, and when the cat meows he can tell what the cat is saying. I find that amusing.”

“Azrael really is smarter than Gargamel,” says Gosnell. “And the cat lets him know at every turn.”

“They are essentially an old, annoyed at each other married couple, and the romance has gone out of their relationship,” adds Azaria. “Every film, I try to get in the line, ‘Why did I ever marry you?’, saying it to the cat, but they never really keep it in there; one day, if we keep making these movies, one day I’ll be able to say that.”

“The relationship between Gargamel and Azrael was very much Hank’s creation,” says Gosnell. “Hank really didn’t want to be monologuing the whole movie – it was better for him to have a character he could bounce back and forth with, even if it is a cat.”

Kerner says that realizing the character of Azrael meant walking a fine line. “Azrael definitely has a voice, but isn’t a talking animal,” he says. “Azrael can say ‘meow,’ and Hank, as Gargamel, can reply with, ‘Why are you angry with me, because we left Paris?’ Meow means 10 million things to Gargamel.” On camera, the cats Cheeto and Krinkle, along with a few other hero tabbies, did most of the heavy lifting as Azrael; for his facial performance and scenes requiring a fully animated cat, the filmmakers call on Sony Pictures Imageworks for the CG cat. Voice actor Frank Welker gave the tricky kitty his meow.

It’s said that the clothes make the man – and surely that was never more true than about Gargamel. Azaria spent hours in the makeup chair every morning to help get him into character. “The overall look with his head being shaved, the teeth, the hair and everything, it changes him so much,” says makeup effects department head Todd Tucker. “When he gets into that makeup, he can’t help but go into Gargamel zone.”

“The wardrobe gives him a padded belly and back, his posture changes, he hunches over for the character,” adds Tucker. “His whole body movement, everything about him changes pretty drastically, so it’s a very different character than Hank is for sure.”

“As soon as Hank steps out in makeup and hair, he completely inhabits the role. He becomes Gargamel,” says Kerner. “It’s in his posture, it’s in the way he carries himself, it’s how he modulates his voice. He puts up with all the makeup, he puts up with shaving his head completely bald, he puts up with the big teeth we put in his mouth, and he’s having so much fun doing it that he’ll immediately give you ten variations on his performance.”

It takes about two hours, all told, to turn an actor into an evil wizard – about 90 minutes of makeup, followed by 20 to 30 minutes of hair.

As might be fitting, Gargamel’s robe gets a makeover for The Smurfs 2 – one deserved by the toast of Paris. “We changed the lining of the cape, making it red,” explains Montreal costume designer Véronique Marchessault. “It also had to be kind of magical, because at one point he’s in his robe, and then, seconds later, the squirrel wings appear.” Gargamel uses those wings to fly off of the Eiffel Tower into the portal he conjures at the Trocadero Fountain.

Playing Gargamel in the Smurfs films has been a virtual rediscovery of Azaria’s childhood imagination. “You get to play like you’re a child; you’re imagining these little creatures. I had three imaginary friends when I was a kid, and I would spend a lot of time with them,” says Azaria. “It’s like I’m doing that again, only I’m a little more angry at these imaginary friends than the ones I grew up with. I’m playing with a pretend cat, pretending to do magic, and waving a magic wand, and then somebody makes a light effect happen. When you’re a kid, you always dreamed you could do things like that, and then you get to do it as an adult, and then they pay you – it’s pretty nice.”

The Smurfs 2 Movie Poster

The Smurfs 2

Directed by: Raja Gosnell
Starring: Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Jayma Mays, Jacob Tremblay
Screenplay by: J. David Stem, David N. Weiss, Jay Scherick
Production Design by: Bill Boes
Cinematography by: Phil Meheux
Film Editing by: Sabrina Plisco
Costume Design by: Véronique Marchessault, Rita Ryack
Set Decoration by: Frédérique Bolté, Marie-Soleil Dénommé, David Laramy
Music by: Heitor Pereira
MPAA Rating: PG for some rude humor and action.
Studio: Sony Pictures
Release Date: July 31, 2013

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Grown Ups 2

Grown Ups 2 Movie

The all-star comedy cast from Grown Ups returns (with some exciting new additions) for more summertime laughs. After moving his family back to his hometown to be with his friends and their kids, Lenny (Adam Sandler) finds out that between old bullies, new bullies, schizo bus drivers, drunk cops on skis, and 400 costumed party crashers, sometimes crazy follows you.

Grown Ups 2 is an American buddy comedy film directed by Dennis Dugan, and also produced by Adam Sandler, who also starred in the film. It is the sequel to the 2010 film Grown Ups. The film co-stars Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Nick Swardson, and Salma Hayek. The film is produced by Adam Sandler’s production company Happy Madison and distributed by Columbia Pictures. The film was released on July 12, 2013. Although it was a box-office success, grossing roughly $247 million on an $80 million budget, it was heavily panned by critics. It was nominated nine times at the 2014 Golden Raspberry Awards.

Filming of Grown Ups 2 began on May 2, 2012, in Massachusetts, United States and ended on July 15, 2012. Columbia Pictures and Happy Madison Productions distributed the film. The film was written by Adam Sandler, Fred Wolf and Tim Herlihy and directed by Dennis Dugan, Sandler’s longtime collaborator. The film was released on July 12, 2013 in the United States. It was released on August 9, 2013 in the United Kingdom. Rob Schneider did not reprise his role from the first film because of scheduling conflicts.

Grown Ups 2 Movie

About the Film

They’re back — Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, and David Spade re-team for summer fun in Grown Ups 2.

Sandler’s most successful comedy in his long career, the 2010 film Grown Ups took the box office by storm as audiences laughed their way to more than $260 million worldwide. Remarkably for a comedy star, Sandler has proven equally popular at home and abroad — the film took in over $100 million overseas.

So, after more than ten years of blockbuster comedies, Sandler is doing something he’s never done before: a sequel. Director Dennis Dugan, who helms his eighth Sandler film with Grown Ups 2, says that there are several reasons why the time is right. “It was just exciting to bring everybody back together,” he says. “All the characters and relationships were so rich and funny, we knew there were lots more stories to be told. It’s like visiting old friends.”

For Chris Rock, re-teaming with his fellow funnymen meant the chance to be an especially funny movie. “It’s a playful competition,” he says. “I wanted to be funnier than Spade, Spade wants to be funnier than Kevin, and Kevin wants to be funnier than Adam. You just can’t help it, if you’re a comedian. But the positive side is that I think we really do make each other funnier.”

Grown Ups 2 Movie

Adam Sandler returns as Lenny Feder. Once a Hollywood big-shot, his most recent trip back to his hometown — allowing him to reconnect with his old friends — opened his eyes to what’s really important in life. It’s a lesson he didn’t forget. “Lenny has quit his job as a Hollywood agent and moved the family back to his hometown,” Dugan explains. “He wants the kids to grow up in a normal place, rather than the craziness of Hollywood.”

Kevin James plays Eric Lamonsoff, who has to face his ultimate fear in the movie. “One of the things the movie is about is these guys re-living their youth a bit, and now that they’re grown up, they’re facing up to the things they never dealt with when they were young,” says James. “My guy is the one guy who never jumped off the huge cliff at the quarry back in the day. Lenny and the guys don’t let me live it down… so when the challenge is put in front of me, I am forced to conquer the fears of my youth… or go to a diner, either one.”

Chris Rock returns as Kurt McKenzie. A househusband in the first film, he’s gone back to work in Grown Ups 2 — not that you’d know it. “He’s supposed to be a cable repairman, but — like all cable repairmen — he’s figured out how to do as little real work as possible,” Rock explains. “He gives you the window — ‘I’ll be there between noon and four’ — and then he waits for that one moment when you can’t answer the door. Knock, no answer, and boom — he leaves the note, reschedule.”

David Spade’s character, Marcus Higgins, gets a bit of a comeuppance in Grown Ups 2. “In the first movie, he discovered that the life he thought he wanted, single and free, wasn’t as fulfilling as his friends’, even though they were tied down with wives and kids,” says Spade. “Well, in the sequel, he finds out that the free-and-easy life wasn’t as free or easy as he thought — he has a son that he never knew about, and he’s coming up to the town to spend some time with the father he never knew. Oh, and the kid is about 18 and enormous and knows how to hold a grudge.”

Grown Ups 2 Movie

The Viewes

Salma Hayek plays Lenny’s wife, Roxanne. This very fashion-conscious woman leaves LA for the small-town, east-coast life. “She’s the only fish out of water,” says Hayek. “The rest of the characters grew up together. So it takes her some time to find her place in her new home town.”

For Hayek, the chance to re-team with the cast of Grown Ups was the only invitation she needed. “I was so excited to get back together with these wonderful actors and comedians,” she says. “We’ve stayed in touch and I love to work with them — they are so good. I especially love the girls, Maria and Maya — we really bonded last time and we’re more relaxed this time. Maya is one of the best comediennes in America, and she actually gets better, year by year. And Maria just brings it — she was fierce.”

Hayek says that being on the set is an inspiration for all of the actors to do their best comedic work. “I was really impressed by how funny everyone was — even actors that you wouldn’t expect. Shaquille O’Neal was a revelation to me — he’s hilarious, and in this one, he’s the funniest he’s ever been.”

Maya Rudolph plays Deanne McKenzie, the wife of the character played by Chris Rock. She says, “Chris is hands down one of the smartest, funniest people alive so getting to work with him is always a dream. He can seriously talk to you about anything and I guarantee it will be the most insightful, intelligent, most hilarious take on an issue that you’ve ever heard. He could read me the Chili’s menu and I’d be happy.”

Maria Bello plays Sally Lamonsoff. She says that a working on an Adam Sandler production is unlike any other. “You have so much freedom,” she says. “Adam and the guys expect you to make improvisational choices with your character. Not every choice you make will make it into the movie, but that’s OK — some will, and they’ll be some of the biggest laughs you get.”

“This time, when I got the call, I knew what to expect — I was going back to summer camp,” she continues. “Adam and Happy Madison create that atmosphere for all of us in Marblehead and Swampscott. It’s a really fun production — I was thrilled.”

Grown Ups 2 Movie Poster

Grown Ups 2

Director: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, David Spade, Maya Rudolph, Maria Bello
Screenwriter: Fred Wolf, Adam Sandler, Tim Herlihy
Production Design by: Aaron Osborne
Cinematography by: Theo van de Sande
Film Editing by: Tom Costain
Costume Design by: Ellen Lutter
Set Decoration by: Jennifer M. Gentile
Music by: Rupert Gregson-Williams
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and suggestive content, language and some male rear nudity.
Studio: Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Release Date: July 11, 2013

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White House Down

White House Down

Taglines: It started like any other day.

In Columbia Pictures’ White House Down, Capitol Policeman John Cale (Channing Tatum) has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, when the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation’s government falling into chaos and time running out, it’s up to Cale to save his daughter, the president, and the country.

White House Down is n American political action film directed by Roland Emmerich about an assault on the White House by a paramilitary group and the Capitol Police Officer who tries to stop them. The film’s screenplay is by James Vanderbilt, and it stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, with Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Jason Clarke and Richard Jenkins in supporting roles. The film was released on June 28, 2013 and has since grossed more than $205 million worldwide White House Down is one of two films released in 2013 that deals with a terrorist attack on the White House, the other being Olympus Has Fallen.

White House Down - Channing Tatum

About the Film

Columbia Pictures’ White House Down is the new action film from director Roland Emmerich, whose films, including Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and Anonymous, have taken in more than $3 billion worldwide. His latest film is an action movie on an epic scale starring the most recognizable home on the planet, which is very familiar territory for Emmerich. “Actually, that was the one thing holding me off – I wondered, ‘Can I really do the White House again?’” laughs the man who had aliens blow up the building in Independence Day and sent the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy through it in 2012. “Ultimately, I wanted to tell this story because it features strong characters and a very different and unusual narrative, combining action elements with those of a political thriller of worldwide significance.”

“Obviously, Roland likes to play with symbols and icons,” says producer Bradley J. Fischer. “If you look at the content of the films and the storytelling, his films are big event movies that unfold over a worldwide scale, but they’re also about breaking down ivory towers of one form or another. So, sure, he’s destroyed the White House before, but it’s never been the centerpiece of the film – both in the plot and in the underlying storytelling – the way it is here.”

“This is really a global story,” says producer Harald Kloser, who previously worked with Emmerich as a writer and producer on 10,000 BC and 2012, and composed the music on those films as well as Anonymous and The Day After Tomorrow. “If anybody takes over the White House, they’ll have access to the world’s largest weapons arsenal. A takeover of the White House would for sure trigger a global crisis with unimaginable consequences.”

White House Down

The character at the center of White House Down is John Cale, an ex soldier and divorced father who’s trying to put his life back on solid footing – especially when it concerns his relationship with his daughter. The role is played by Channing Tatum. “Cale’s been trying to figure out his life for years, to get it together. He doesn’t really have the tools to put it all into place,” says Tatum. “But his heart is good – he’s always wanted to be his daughter’s hero. And now that he’s realizing that he can’t be that, due to mistakes he’s made, he thinks, ‘Well, she idolizes the president – if I can’t be her hero, maybe I can help protect the guy who is.’”

“At the start of the movie, he’s probably a better buddy than a father,” says Tatum. “He’s not a good role model or someone you want to go to for advice. But if the stuff hits the fan, he’s the guy you want – he’s been through a lot of it.”

“That’s part of the hero’s journey in this movie,” says Kloser. “He has to accomplish something on the outside – saving the world – and something on the inside. And the story on the inside is the emotional story with his daughter.”

Opposite Tatum, the filmmakers cast Jamie Foxx as President Sawyer. Fischer says that casting Jamie Foxx was part of the key to defining the tone of the film. “We were hoping to find the right actor to play the President – somebody who could play it in a way that was a little disarming,” says Fischer. “We were hoping to find an actor who could bring the gravitas of the presidency, but also a comedic element – not jokes, but funny, light moments that would cut the tension. In a way, Cale and Sawyer are a classic ‘buddy’ pairing. That’s why Jamie was perfect – he won an Oscar® for the way he can inhabit different characters. Not only that, but it turned out he has great chemistry with Channing – they played off of each other in a way that we all found incredibly satisfying to watch. With Channing and Jamie together, the movie is just so much fun.”

Foxx says that the 46th president of the United States is “a man who would do anything to protect America, but also a man who understands that in order to protect America in this day and age, you have to have an understanding of the enemies. If you don’t have that understanding, or a way to open a dialog, you’ll forever be at odds and something drastic will constantly keep happening.”

Emmerich says that Vanderbilt wrote the character of President Sawyer as an interesting counterpoint to Cale. “When President Sawyer gets elected, he wants to do so much – and then when he’s in the job, it’s not that easy. He has to spend an inordinate amount of time on the politics of the job,” says Emmerich. “Whereas Cale’s goal is to try to impress himself and his daughter, the president is holding himself up against greatness – he wants to do something truly presidential, something Lincolnesque. He wants to be remembered as a great president. So that is part of the fun of the movie: you have a former soldier battling it out intellectually with the commander in chief as they’re stuck together throughout the movie.”

Fischer came to the project along with his Mythology Entertainment partners, James Vanderbilt and Laeta Kalogridis, when Vanderbilt revealed to Fischer that he had written the project in secret. “James said, ‘I’ve been working on something. I don’t think it’s quite ready yet, but I want you to take a look at it.’ So I took a look at it and told him he was crazy, because it was fantastic. The script started making its way around town and before we knew it, we were getting unsolicited offers from studios. We decided to go with Sony, and within 48 hours, we were sitting with Roland Emmerich, the movie was greenlit, and we were off to the races.”

White House Down Movie Poster

White House Down

Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Jason Clarke, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins, Joey King, Rachelle Lefevre, Matt Craven
Production Design by: Kirk M. Petruccelli
Cinematography by: Anna Foerster
Film Editing by: Adam Wolfe
Costume Design by: Lisy Christl
Set Decoration by: Marie-Soleil Dénommé, Paul Hotte, David Laramy
Music by: Harald Kloser, Thomas Wanker
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action and violence including intense gunfire and explosions, some language and a brief sexual image.
Studio: Sony – Columbia Pictures
Release Date: June 28, 2013

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After Earth

After Earth Movie

Taglines: Danger is real. Fear is a choice.

In the near future, an environmental cataclysm forces the human race to abandon Earth and settle on a new world, Nova Prime. One thousand years later, The Ranger Corps, a peacekeeping organization commanded by General Cypher Raige, comes into conflict with the S’krell, alien creatures who intended to conquer Nova Prime. Their secret weapons are the Ursas, large, blind predatory creatures that hunt by “sensing” fear.

The Rangers struggle against the Ursas until Cypher learns how to completely suppress his fear, a technique called “ghosting”. After teaching this technique to the other Rangers, he leads the Ranger Corps to victory. Meanwhile, Cypher’s son Kitai blames himself for the death of his sister Senshi at the hands of an Ursa. Kitai trains to become a Ranger like Cypher, but his application is rejected due to his recklessness, and Cypher views him as a disappointment. Kitai’s mother Faia convinces Cypher to take Kitai on his last voyage before retirement.

During flight, however, their spaceship is caught by an asteroid shower forcing them to crash-land on the now-quarantined Earth. Both of Cypher’s legs are broken, and the main beacon for firing a distress signal is damaged. Cypher instructs Kitai to locate the tail section of the ship, which broke off on entry to the atmosphere. Inside is the backup beacon, which they can use to signal Nova Prime. Cypher gives Kitai his weapon, a wrist communicator, and six capsules of a fluid that enhances the oxygen intake so he can breathe in Earth’s low-oxygen atmosphere. Cypher warns him to avoid the highly evolved fauna and flora, and be careful of violent thermal shifts. Kitai leaves to find the tail section, with Cypher guiding him through the communicator.

After Earth Movie

Kitai is attacked by giant baboons and, during his escape, is bitten by a poisonous leech. Kitai administers the antidote, but two of his capsules are damaged, and his nervous system shuts down. When Kitai awakens, he narrowly escapes a thermal shift. Kitai lies to Cypher, not informing him of the damaged capsules. That night, Kitai listens to Cypher tell him a story of when he was attacked by an Ursa, how he realized that fear is merely an illusion created by the mind’s thoughts of the future, and thus he first began to “ghost” himself from the Ursas, choosing to live rather than to let his enemies, both fear and the Ursas, decide his fate.

The following day, Kitai reaches a mountaintop, and Cypher learns about the broken capsules. Knowing that the only way to make it with two capsules would be to skydive, Cypher orders Kitai to abort the mission. Believing his father still sees him as a disappointment, Kitai blames Senshi’s death on Cypher’s absence on the day of the attack. He skydives from the mountaintop, but is captured by a giant condor, and his communicator is damaged.

Kitai wakes in a nest of the condor, where he is surrounded by huge saber cats attempting to get hold of the condor’s chicks. Kitai and the condor fight the saber cats, and Kitai escapes. He reaches a river and builds a raft to continue along the river. Tired, Kitai falls asleep on the raft. He dreams of his sister, Senshi, who reassures him that Cypher’s bitterness is just his own anger for not saving her. Senshi urges Kitai to wake up and when he does, he is surprised by another thermal shift and nearly freezes to death. Kitai is rescued by the condor, who sacrifices itself for him.

After Earth Movie Poster

After Earth

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Isabelle Fuhrman, Zoe Kravitz, Sophie Okonedo, Kristofer Hivju
Screenplay by: Gary Whitta, M. Night Shyamalan
Production Design by: Thomas E. Sanders
Cinematography by: Peter Suschitzky
Film Editing byB Steven Rosenblum
Costume Design by: Amy Westcott
Set Decoration by: Rosemary Brandenburg
Music by: James Newton Howard
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and some disturbing images.
Studio: Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures
Release Date: May 31, 2013

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Kill for Me

Kill for Me Movie

Taglines: What wouldn’t you do for your roommate?

While trying to move on from an abusive ex-boyfriend, Amanda (Katie Cassidy) looks for a roommate to help pay the rent. Hailey (Tracy Spiridakos) just moved to college to get away from her own abusive past. Now roommates, both girls find comfort in their friendship and make a pact to help each other overcome their pasts…

When Amanda’s abusive ex-boyfriend catches up with her, a riveting roller coaster of suspense and twists is set in motion. In order to survive, the two girls face their harrowing past together. But as Hailey’s past becomes more transparent, it’s difficult to decipher who is the victim and who is the cold-blooded killer.

Kill for Me is drama thriller film directed by Michael Greenspan, and starring atie Cassidy, Tracy Spiridakos, Donal Logue, Adam DiMarco, Ryan Robbins, Joanne Wilson, and Crystal Mudry.

Kill for Me Movie

About the Story

The college student Natalie Ross goes missing and her friend and roommate Amanda Rowe accuses her ex-boyfriend Cameron McClure to the police. However nothing is proved against Cameron and Amanda’s roommate Zoe decides to rent Natalie’s room to share the expenses of their house. They accept the student Hayley Jones and she gets close to Amanda. When the upset Cameron threatens Amanda, Hayley defends her and they have a close relationship.

Soon Cameron breaks in their house and hits Amanda; however Hayley arrives at home and hits Cameron on the head with an axe. Hayley convinces Amanda to hide the corpse, burying in the farm of her abusive father Garret Jones. Then she tries to convince Amanda to kill Garret, but Amanda refuses. Hayley kidnaps Amanda’s friend Mark to force Amanda to kill her father. What will Amanda do?

Kill for Me Review

Kill for Me is a rainy-day thriller. It’s not something you need to alter your life to seek out, but it sure beats getting out of your pajamas on a day when you really don’t have to.

Amanda Rowe (played by Katie Cassidy) is a college student who’s upset over her missing friend and housemate Natalie. She’s also got a creepy stalker ex who she’s pretty sure had something to do with Natalie’s disappearance. When her new housemate Hailey (Tracy Spiridakos) takes up residence, we have several minutes of fraught ladylonging (you know, college) and then fortunately the aftermath of an upsetting event gets them kissing. The upsetting event also spins us into the capital-p Plot, so I guess we have quite a bit to thank it for.

Kill for Me Movie

Kill for Me is sure-handed about a lot of the elements that make up a good thriller: The pacing is nice, and I give it a solid B for tension. There are a few indie-movie flaws that are to be expected, such as that one time when the PROPS AND MAKEUP DEPARTMENTS WOULD LIKE TO SAY HELLO AND LOOK AT WHAT THEY DID, and the film’s bloody-minded refusal to admit that one should probably be able to hear a car pulling into the farmhouse’s driveway. But one can overlook them with a little moxie and goodwill.

The first couple of plot twists are good ones (and, hey, anything that leads to two fond roommates comforting each other in the shower can’t be all bad), but the end of the movie becomes a mess of trying too hard to be blow-your-mind clever and hatched plots that you can’t think too hard about without getting cranky over their impracticality.

That said, it’s a rainy day, and by then you will be deep into the cocoa, so who cares? Just enjoy it. Katie Cassidy is more assured actress than Spiridakos, but they both do fine, and Donal Logue is an added treat. There is also solid direction and a few pretty cool shots thrown in. Overall, it’s a better-than-expected way to curl up for an afternoon of scheming.

Kill for Me Movie Poster

Kill for Me

Directed by: Michael Greenspan
Starring: Katie Cassidy, Tracy Spiridakos, Donal Logue, Adam DiMarco, Ryan Robbins, Joanne Wilson, Crystal Mudry
Production Design by: Michael N. Wong
Cinematography by: James Liston
Film Editing by: Mark Shearer
Costume Design by: Andrea Desroches
Set Decoration by: Will Gendemann
Music by: Michael Brook
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and some sexuality.
Studio: Sony Pictures
Release Date: February 12, 2013

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The Call

The Call Movie - Halle Berry

Taglines: There are 188 million 911 calls a year. This one made it personal.

Veteran 911 Emergency Call Center operator Jordan (Halle Berry) has the kind of job that’s not for the faint of heart: navigating the public’s distress in order to save lives. But when a young woman’s frantic report of a prowler ends tragically, Jordan is devastated. Reassessing her life, Jordan wonders if perhaps she’s experienced her last fraught-filled phone call.

With a supportive cop (Morris Chestnut) for a boyfriend, maybe it’s time to step back, enjoy life, and teach others the ins and outs of her high-pressure profession. That lifeline to strangers isn’t over yet, though. When average American teenager Casey (Abigail Breslin), is abducted by a serial killer (Michael Eklund), she manages to place a 911 call from the trunk of the killer’s car.

Jordan, leading a group of new recruits through the massive Call Center operation, is in earshot of the call. It’s an all-too familiar scenario for this experienced public servant, but before long, Casey’s situation reveals itself as eerily, shockingly familiar. There’s only one thing Jordan can do: take charge in a way she’s never done before. She must turn Casey into a partner in helping them track down the killer, and prove that this call is Jordan’s calling.

The Call Movie - Abigail Breslin

The Call is an American crime thriller film directed by Brad Anderson and written by Richard D’Ovidio. The film stars Abigail Breslin as Casey Welson, a teenage girl kidnapped by a serial killer and Halle Berry as Jordan Turner, the 9-1-1 operator who receives her call. Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund, Michael Imperioli, and David Otunga also star. The story was originally envisioned as a television series, but D’Ovidio later rewrote it as a 94-minute feature film. Filming began in July 2012 and spanned a period of 25 days, with all scenes being shot in Los Angeles, mainly Burbank and Santa Clarita.

Placing The Call

Central to the effectiveness of The Call is its twofold realism: the experience Casey goes through, and the verisimilitude of the call center where Jordan works. Of the kidnapping scenes with Breslin, director Brad Anderson explains, “We literally shot her scenes in the trunk of cars, so we were able to bring the audience into her space and feel her claustrophobia and fear.”

Producer Jeff Graup says, “The abduction is in real time, so we wanted it to be as real as possible, so the audience won’t be taken out of the movie. We really wanted to have edge and grit to it, where the audience is feeling what Casey’s feeling, which is impending doom. Brad is the perfect guy to get that mood out, because this journey is one where you want the audience to feel as uncomfortable as we were reading the script.”

The Call Movie - Halle Berry

To that end, trunk sets were designed with removable pieces so cameras could be put where needed. A special probe lens was used so an even greater level of claustrophobic intimacy could be achieved. With realism the operative word during the shoot, Anderson aimed for a loose, hand-held style. “I’m not locking down the camera. I’m allowing the action to drive the camera as opposed to vice versa, and keeping everything spontaneous-feeling.

I guess documentary-style would be the simplest way to describe the look. We’re also shooting everything with a certain shutter speed that gives it a very kinetic feel, since eighty percent of the story, from the point where Abby’s character is abducted, to the end, is just a continuum of amped-up suspense and drama. It just spirals into craziness, so we’re trying to keep the look to match that.”

With regards to the depiction of the Emergency Call Center, a busy, console-filled room called the Hive in the film, authenticity was a high priority. The filmmakers made several visits to two Los Angeles Emergency Call Centers. Says producer Bradley Gallo, “We all spent a tremendous amount of time there to make sure we got the technical aspects correct.”

On capturing the real vibe of a call center, producer Jeff Graup says, “The way the 911 Center was portrayed was very important to us. A call center has never been seen on film. Everyone has either called 911 or knows someone who has, but no one really knows what it looks like or the process. We wanted to make sure that the entire set accurately reflects everything that goes on, from the calm to the stress.”

The Call Movie - Halle Berry

Production designer Franco-Giacomo Carbone (The Expendables) replicated the call center in an existing office space in Thousand Oaks, CA, which was big enough to build the entire set, including over 12 operator stations and a phalanx of monitors, as one would see in a real call center. Eighty extras were used to give human weight to the “buzziness” of the Hive.

The company Playback Technologies was also recruited to get the on-set video playback elements of a screen-filled control room right. Says Playback Technologies president Steve Irwin, “We have a crew of guys responsible for getting the right content on the monitors. And with this large number of monitors, we try to keep them all on, and the whole room up and operating like an actual 911 center. One of our areas of responsibility is to make sure that the Arriflex high-definition cameras are able to photograph all the monitors, so color temperature, color balance, exposure, whether monitors are going to flicker when they’re re-photographed, are all in control. We work with the director of photography to make sure everything looks as good as it can.”

Anderson addresses the importance of the Hive set in terms of the story’s emotional stakes. “It’s been a challenge trying to create the scale we need for these scenes. Much of [Halle’s] action is at a desk on a phone in front of a computer, but despite that, we wanted to set it in a location that, when you pull back, you realize the scope of it as opposed to just being an office space. The Hive we’ve created is as big as they tend to be, and has all the eye candy, as we like to say — monitors and jumbotrons and things that help create the sense of urgency. This is our biggest location, and we wanted to get all the details right.”

Not only did an actual 911 call center veteran consult on those details, the production used some real operators on the floor. “It’s all driving to try and create that authenticity, that realism,” says Anderson.

In the end, the filmmakers want The Call to entertain, with a story that not only pulses with excitement, but that resonates with themes of redemption and empowerment. Says producer Bradley Gallo, “Abigail’s character is a goody two-shoes who doesn’t really go outside the bounds of what you’re supposed to do, and she has to overcome that and stand up for herself, to the point where she has to take on a killer. That transformation is an awesome theme. And Halle is playing a character who loses a girl on a call, is tortured by it, and has to get redemption through another call.”

Screenwriter Richard D’Ovidio likes that the excitement of The Call is made more enriching by putting women front and center. “[Women] are always the ones being saved, and I like that the two of them save themselves and each other in the process, you know?” says D’Ovidio. “A lot of the 911 operators are women, and they’re tough, they’re strong, they’re composed, and it’s very impressive to watch.”

The Call Movie Poster

The Call

Directed by: Brad Anderson
Starring: Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Michael Imperioli, Morris Chestnut, Ella Rae Peck
Screenplay by: Richard D’Ovidio
Production Design by: Franco-Giacomo Carbone
Cinematography by: Tom Yatsko
Film Editing by: Avi Youabian
Costume Design by: Magali Guidasci
Set Decoration by: Robert Gould
Music by: John Debney
MPAA Rating: R for violence, disturbing content and some language.
Studio: Sony Pictures
Release Date: March 15, 2013

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Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty - Jessica Chastain

Maya is a CIA operative whose first experience is in the interrogation of prisoners following the Al Qaeda attacks against the U.S. on the 11th September 2001. She is a reluctant participant in extreme duress applied to the detainees, but believes that the truth may only be obtained through such tactics. For several years, she is single-minded in her pursuit of leads to uncover the whereabouts of Al Qaeda’s leader, Osama Bin Laden. Finally, in 2011, it appears that her work will pay off, and a U.S. Navy SEAL team is sent to kill or capture Bin Laden. But only Maya is confident Bin Laden is where she says he is.

For a decade, an elite team of intelligence and military operatives, working in secret across the globe, devoted themselves to a single goal: To find and eliminate Osama Bin Laden. Zero Dark Thirty reunites the Oscar winning team of director-producer Kathryn Bigelow and writer-producer Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) for the story of history’s greatest manhunt an the world’s most dangerous man.

Zero Dark Thirty is an American action thriller war film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal. Billed as “the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man”, the film dramatizes the decade-long manhunt for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. This search eventually leads to the discovery of his compound in Pakistan, and the military raid on it that resulted in his death on May 2, 2011.

Zero Dark Thirty - Jessica Chastain

About the Story

Maya, a young U.S. Central Intelligence Agency officer in 2003, has spent her entire brief career since graduating from high school focused solely on gathering intelligence related to Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda, following the terrorist organization’s September 11 attacks in the United States. She has just been reassigned to the U.S. embassy in Pakistan to work with a fellow officer, Dan. During the first months of her assignment, Maya often accompanies Dan to a black site for his continuing interrogation of Ammar al-Baluchi, a detainee with suspected links to several of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks.

Dan subjects the detainee to torture, including waterboarding, and humiliation. He and Maya eventually trick Ammar into divulging that an old acquaintance, who is using the alias Abu Ahmed, is working as a personal courier for bin Laden. Other detainees corroborate this, with some claiming Abu Ahmed delivers messages between bin Laden and a man referred to as Abu Faraj. In 2005, Abu Faraj is apprehended by the C.I.A. and local police in Pakistan. Maya interrogates Abu Faraj under torture, but he continues to deny knowing a courier with such a name. Maya interprets this as an attempt by Abu Faraj to conceal the importance of Abu Ahmed.

Maya continues to sift through masses of data and information, using a variety of technology, hunches and sharing insights. She concentrates on finding Abu Ahmed, determined to use him to find bin Laden. During a span of five years, she survives the 2008 Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing as well as being shot at in her car by armed men. Dan, departing on reassignment, warns Maya about a possible change in politics, suggesting that the new administration may prosecute those officers who had been involved in torture.

Zero Dark Thirty - Jessica Chastain

A fellow analyst researching Moroccan intelligence archives comes to Maya and suggests that Abu Ahmed is Ibrahim Sayeed. Maya agrees and contacts Dan, who is working at the C.I.A. headquarters. Maya has found that Ibrahim Sayeed had a brother, Habib, and theorizes the C.I.A.’s supposed photograph of Abu Ahmed was of Habib, as he was said to bear a striking resemblance to Ibrahim and was killed in Afghanistan.

Dan uses C.I.A. funds to purchase a Lamborghini for a Kuwaiti prince in exchange for the telephone number of Sayeed’s mother. The C.I.A. traces calls to the mother. One caller’s persistent use of tradecraft to avoid detection leads Maya to conclude the caller is Abu Ahmed. At Maya’s behest and with the support of her supervisors, numerous C.I.A. operatives are deployed to search for and identify Abu Ahmed. They locate him in his vehicle and eventually track him to a large urban compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, near the Pakistan Military Academy.

The C.I.A. puts the compound under heavy surveillance for several months, using a variety of methods. Although they are confident from circumstantial evidence that bin Laden is there, they cannot prove this photographically. Meanwhile, the President’s National Security Advisor tasks the C.I.A. with producing a plan to capture or kill bin Laden if it can be confirmed that he is in the compound. An agency team devises a plan to use two top-secret stealth helicopters (developed at Area 51) flown by the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment to secretly enter Pakistan and insert members of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group to raid the compound. Before briefing President Barack Obama, the C.I.A. Director holds a meeting of his top officials, who assess only a 60–80% chance that bin Laden rather than another high-value target is living in the compound. Maya, also in attendance, states the chances are 100%.

The raid is approved and is executed on May 2, 2011. Although execution is complicated by one of the helicopters crashing, the SEALs gain entry and kill a number of people within the compound, among them a man on the compound’s top floor who is revealed to be bin Laden. They bring bin Laden’s body back to a U.S. base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where Maya visually confirms the identity of the corpse. Maya is last seen boarding a military transport to return to the U.S. and sitting in its vast interior as its only passenger. The pilot asks her where she wants to go but she does not reply. He leaves for the cockpit and she weeps.

Zero Dark Thirty Movie Poster

Zero Dark Thirty

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Scott Adkins, Mark Strong, Jennifer Ehle
Screenplay by: Mark Boal
Production Design by: Jeremy Hindle
Cinematography by: Greig Fraser
Film Editing by: William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor
Costume Design by: George L. Little
Set Decoration by: Lisa Chugg
Art Direction by: Ben Collins, Rod McLean
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
Screenplay by: R for strong violence including brutal disturbing images, and for language.
Studio: Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures
Release Date: January 11th, 2013

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