Category: Universal Pictures
Taglines: A new funny film about love. With a bit of time travel.
The night after another unsatisfactory New Year party, Tim’s father (Bill Nighy) tells his son that the men in his family have always had the ability to travel through time. Tim can’t change history, but he can change what happens and has happened in his own life—so he decides to make his world a better place… by getting a girlfriend. Sadly, that turns out not to be as easy as you might think.
Moving from the Cornwall coast to London to train as a lawyer, Tim finally meets the beautiful but insecure Mary (Rachel McAdams). They fall in love, then an unfortunate time-travel incident means he’s never met her at all. So they meet for the first time again—and again—but finally, after a lot of cunning time-traveling, he wins her heart.
Tim then uses his power to create the perfect romantic proposal, to save his wedding from the worst best-man speeches, to save his best friend from professional disaster and to get his pregnant wife to the hospital in time for the birth of their daughter, despite a nasty traffic jam outside Abbey Road.
But as his unusual life progresses, Tim finds out that his unique gift can’t save him from the sorrows and ups and downs that affect all families, everywhere. There are great limits to what time travel can achieve, and it can be dangerous too. About Time is a comedy about love and time travel, which discovers that, in the end, making the most of life may not need time travel at all.
Love, Family and Time Travel
The genesis for About Time ignited from a conversation that Curtis had with a friend about what they would do if they were told that they had only 24 hours left to live. “We both decided that we’d want a very normal day at home with the family, doing the things you normally do,” recalls Curtis. “I thought it was an interesting observation, and the next step was how I would be able to incorporate this into a movie. It would have to be about someone who could manipulate their final day or manipulate their life in some way to enable them to come to that conclusion. That’s when I thought about time travel.”
Curtis says that About Time is an evolution for him, as his early work very much focuses upon the relationships among friends. He shares: “Four Weddings is, in many ways, as much a film about friendship as it is about love. There were a lot of friendships in Love Actually as well.” Naturally, Curtis’ interest in human dynamics evolved as he grew older. “With my mum and dad passing away within the last five years, and with my children all growing up, I am a family man most of all. This film has as much to do with a brother and sister, a father and mother as it has to do with love. And, of course, when two people fall in love, they are finally going to turn into a mother and a father, and you see that happening during the course of the film.”
The comedy reunites Curtis with Working Title producers Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, for the eleventh time in 25 years. Remembers Bevan: “We did our first film together in 1983 called The Tall Guy. All of Richard’s films have a lot of familiarities, but are always breaking new ground. The authenticity of a Richard film is that it will make you laugh, cry and think. About Time returns to the ‘Curtisian’ world in the same vein as Love Actually, Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral, but this feels more grown-up and more reflective. He set out to make a movie to reflect on the good and bad things in life and to make you appreciate what’s in front of you.”
Although Fellner finds it difficult to believe that they’ve spent a quarter of a century creating work together, he’s similarly impressed by his longtime friend’s evolution as a filmmaker. He notes: “Richard never settles for good. He pushes himself as an artist to best his previous work, and audiences respect that drive. His stories are so deeply personal, so intimate that it’s impossible not to be drawn into them. I appreciate that he finds humor in the pathos of our everyday experiences and makes the humdrum extraordinary.”
While love and family were integral in the creation of Curtis’ vision, the time-travel aspect would make scripting a very calculated endeavour. Curtis was careful to make sure rules were in place for Tim and his Dad as they travel through time, so as to make the film’s concept less fantasy and more endearing. So, what exactly are those rules? The first is that time travel may not happen before a man in this family is 21. The second is that one must go into a small dark place—such as a cupboard, closet or wardrobe—clench his fists and think of the specific time, date, place and address of where he wants to go. The third is that he can only go to an event in his own past that he can remember; he can’t go into the future or way back into history. The fourth? Every decision he makes will have ramifications on his future.
Producer Nicky Kentish Barnes adds that she admired the unorthodox narrative put forth by the film’s writer/director. She says: “About Time is very autobiographical, in a sense; it’s bits of Richard’s life all put together in a beautiful and well-crafted story. The story is very emotional; we had grown men crying on reading the script. It is a slight, sort-of-magic realism with the time-travel aspect, but it adds to the emotional content, rather than feeling that it’s taking you out of the story.”
With the shooting script locked, Curtis and his producers set about the exciting task of finding a young couple who could give voice to his words, along with a set of family and friends to populate this unique world.
Feeling Loved Up: Casting About Time
From the start, the producers and casting director FIONA WEIR knew performer Domhnall Gleeson would be ideal for the role of the time-traveling Tim Lake. However, he did quite shock them upon introduction.
In the midst of filming Anna Karenina, Gleeson arrived at a meeting with Curtis, sporting a head of long hair and bushy beard. Laughs Curtis of the meeting: “At first, Domhnall was very difficult to cast. He turned up with this enormous orange beard, and he looked like a 35-year-old Russian autocrat. It was hard for me to imagine what he actually even looked like, but in the end it was an easy decision. He has a lot of the qualities I most love in an actor and actually has them as a human being. He has doubt, high spirits and optimism, and he is very funny.”
His rugged exterior aside, producers were keen on the Irish actor joining the production as their lead. Compliments Bevan: “Domhnall is a brilliant young actor and has the ability to be extremely dramatic and very funny, which is a very unusual combination.” The producer didn’t mind that his lead, heretofore best known for his pivotal role in the Harry Potter series, was an unorthodox choice. Bevan continues, “It’s refreshing to see a new face playing a lead in a Richard Curtis film—a different face and not a posh boy—he gives the film a whole different feel.”
The minute About Time begins, audiences see Tim as a normal guy. He’s a slightly confused, but very likeable hero, who is going through his life with the same level of confidence the majority of ordinary people can muster. “You love Tim’s character from the beginning,” reflects Kentish Barnes. “You want him to succeed when he meets the love of his life.”
When Gleeson first read the script, he laughed aloud, which he took as quite the promising sign. Reflects the performer: “It was sweet relief reading the script. It had so much to say about a way of living your life that I found valuable and beautiful. That was Richard’s introduction to the film for me, and that was what I tried to keep close to my heart while we filmed.”
With Gleeson on board the production, filmmakers moved forward in casting the role of Mary, the young American woman with whom Tim falls in love, marries and starts a family. Because of Rachel McAdams’ busy schedule, the filmmakers weren’t certain she would be able to join the production. Little did they know, however, that she adored the script.
Curtis was thrilled that an actress of McAdams’ caliber had signed onto the film. He muses: “Rachel is someone, who every time I’ve seen her in a film, I have melted with this sense of comfort and love. We were certainly lucky to get her.”
Bevan agrees that McAdams was absolutely perfect for the role, commending: “Rachel has that great girl-next-door quality. She has the beauty, the humor and the wit, but she also has the ability as an actress to make whomever she is playing against look equally as great.”
McAdams recalls what drew her to the part: “I enjoyed the script immensely and loved what it was about. It was quite moving with a very simple, but so meaningful moral of the story, and I loved all the characters. I knew that signing onto a Richard Curtis film was just a good package deal; he does these things so well. He is very generous with his spirit and brings so much of himself to the project.”
The performer appreciated that the expatriate was as complex as her on-screen love, sharing, “Mary’s got this funny mix of confidence and total insecurity. But then she meets Tim, and she just blossoms. He ushers her in the direction she was meant to go in, and the puzzle pieces fit, finally.”
For the seasoned young performer, working with Gleeson was a surprising joy. She enthuses: “It’s been wonderful to watch Domhnall transform from the younger Tim to the older Tim. He has this endless energy for physical comedy, and his comedic timing is impeccable. He always seems to find humor. Domhnall is so grounded, so rooted in the character, and he makes everything matter.”
Her leading man, Gleeson, returns the kind words: “Rachel brings this gorgeous honesty to her character. She’s very funny, and she brings something that is pure and uncomplicated in the best possible sense. It was joyous being on set with her all the time.”
In casting the role of Tim’s Dad, filmmakers turned to a veteran of Curtis’ films: much-feted performer Bill Nighy, first introduced in a Curtis role as a washed-up rocker in Love Actually. “Tim’s Dad is a strange synthesis of a lot of people I’ve met,” explains Curtis. “There’s a lot of my feeling about my father in the role, and it was a fun idea to have Bill play the part. To cast a friend you actually love in that part was a great pleasure.”
Directed by: Richard Curtis
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Margot Robbie, Domhnall Gleeson, Lydia Wilson, Vanessa Kirby
Screenplay by: Richard Curtis
Production Design by: John Paul Kelly
Cinematography by: John Guleserian
Film Editing by: Mark Day
Costume Design by: Verity Hawkes
Set Decoration by: Liz Griffiths
Music by: Nick Laird-Clowes
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: November 8, 2013
Taglines: Times change. Friendship doesn’t.
The Best Man Holiday is an American tragicomedy film written and directed by Malcolm D. Lee. It is the sequel to the 1999 film, The Best Man. The film was released on November 15, 2013 by Universal Pictures. It stars Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard, Harold Perrineau, Morris Chestnut, Monica Calhoun, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Melissa De Sousa and Regina Hall, reprising their roles from the 1999 film along with the supporting cast.
About the Story
Mia Sullivan (Monica Calhoun), wife of Lance Sullivan (Morris Chestnut), has written letters requesting the gangs attendance for Christmas: Harper Stewart (Taye Diggs) and his nine-month pregnant wife Robin (Sanaa Lathan), Julian and Candace (Harold Perrineau and Regina Hall), her best friend Jordan Armstrong (Nia Long) and boyfriend Brian (Eddie Cibrian), Quentin (Terrence Howard), and Shelby (Melissa De Sousa). Now that all the friends have arrived at the house the celebration begins. At dinner, the old friends catch up with each other while tensions ensue between Shelby and Candace.
Years after Harper’s debut novel, he seems to have stumbled upon writer’s block and financial constraints as well as pressure from his agency to come up with newer and better material for his next book. His agent suggests he write a biography on Lance, who is set to retire from football and that because of their friendship, it’ll be easier for Harper to be able to gain from writing about Lance. Also because the timing would be perfect given Lance’s decision to retire.
The Murch family also seems to be doing well, Jullian having opened the school that he had worked hard to establish with his wife, former stripper Candace (who has kept her maiden name) as his head of admissions. However his main donor decides to withdraw his relationship with the school, reason being that he has been made aware of Candace’s past and out of fear of risking his reputation as a man with morals he’d rather cut all ties with Jullian and the school.
It is then that Jullian sees a video on YouTube showing his wife at a fraternity party accepting money for sex. In the Stewart household, Harper is frustrated and stressed out as he goes through a heap of past due bills and letters of demand, however being a proud man he chooses not to tell Robin and also decides to pursue writing Lance’s autobiography without telling anybody. Shelby is also living the life she dreamed of as she is now part of the social elite and is a prominent reality TV personality, a cast member of the real housewives TV show franchise, also a self-proclaimed notorious reality TV star. Robin is still insecure with regards to Harper and Jordon’s friendship. Q is now a successful brand manager and is heavily connected to prominent celebrities.
After arriving at the Sullivan’s, Harper notices Mia’s dramatic weight loss but brushes it off and focuses on the reunion and on gathering information about Lance for the autobiography.
The next day, Brian says goodbye to Jordan and leaves for his family’s annual Christmas gathering in Vermont. As he leaves, Jordan tells him that, while she loves him, she does not need him. Harper, Q, and Murch go to the grocery store while Lance is at a team meeting and Harper’s credit card is declined. Q shows concern, but Harper denies having money problems. After dinner that night, the men dance and lip-sync to “Can You Stand the Rain” for the ladies to great response. All of the couples in the house have sex that night, while Q sends risque photographs of himself to Shelby. Harper goes down to the kitchen, where he and Jordan make some small talk, and Jordan says she knows that Harper is writing Lance’s biography.
As Harper heads back to bed, he finds Mia throwing up blood. Mia reveals to Harper that she was diagnosed with cancer more than a year ago and is dying. After Lance walks in on the two talking, Mia explains to Lance that Harper knows. They both ask Harper to keep the condition a secret. At breakfast the next morning, Q and Shelby accidentally switch phones and Shelby finds the Candace video on Q’s phone.
She tries to use it to coerce Jullian to resume his previous relationship with her, but Jullian rebuffs her advances. Not long afterwards, Candace loses patience with Shelby and confronts her, which leads to a physical altercation between the two in front of Shelby’s daughter, after which Candace leaves the house with Jullian’s and her daughters. Lance drives the men to his football practice, with Murch and Q starting a fight in the backseat, but Harper intervenes to before it degenerates further. While at the practice, Q cynically explains to Murch that such a video comes with marrying a stripper.
The Best Man Holiday
Directed by: Malcolm D. Lee
Starring: Taye Diggs, Nia Lon, Morris Chestnut, Harold Perrineau, Terrence Howard, Regina Hall, Melissa De Sousa
Screenplay by: Malcolm D. Lee
Production Design by: Keith Brian Burns
Cinematography by: Greg Gardiner
Film Editing by: Paul Millspaugh
Costume Design by: Danielle Hollowell
Set Decoration by: Peter P. Nicolakakos
Art Direction by: Aleksandra Marinkovich
Music by: Stanley Clarke
MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual content and brief nudity.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: November 15, 2013
From ancient Japan’s most enduring tale, the epic 3D fantasy-adventure 47 Ronin is born. Keanu Reeves leads the cast as Kai, an outcast who joins Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada), the leader of 47 outcast samurai. Together they seek vengeance upon the treacherous overlord who killed their master and banished their kind. To restore honor to their homeland, the warriors embark upon a quest that challenges them with a series of trials that would destroy ordinary warriors.
47 Ronin is helmed by visionary director Carl Erik Rinsch (The Gift). Inspired by styles as diverse as Miyazaki and Hokusai, Rinsch will bring to life the stunning landscapes and enormous battles that will display the timeless Ronin story to global audiences in a way that’s never been seen before.
47 Ronin is directed by Carl Erik Rinsch based on a screenplay by Chris Morgan and Hossein Amini. While the film is based on the true story of the forty-seven ronin, it is a fantastical take, being set “in a world of witches and giants”. The studio Universal Pictures first announced the project in December 2008 with actor Keanu Reeves attached to star.
Variety reported, “The film will tell a stylized version of the story, mixing fantasy elements of the sort seen in The Lord of the Rings pics, with gritty battle scenes akin to those in films such as Gladiator.” Universal planned to produce the film in 2009 after finding a director. In November 2009, Universal entered talks with Rinsch to direct the film. For Rinsch, who has filmed “visual and stylish” blurbs for brands, the film is his feature film debut.
In December 2010, the studio announced that the film would be produced and released in 3D. Between March and April 2011, five Japanese actors were cast alongside Reeves: Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi, Kou Shibasaki, and Jin Akanishi. According to Variety, Universal chose them to make the story more authentic instead of picking actors that would be recognizable in the United States. Universal is providing Rinsch with a production budget of $170 million despite his lack of feature film experience, which The Hollywood Reporter considered to be a “large-scale, downright risky” move.
Filming began on March 14, 2011 in Budapest. Production moved to Shepperton Studios in the United Kingdom; additional filming in Japan was also planned. Reeves said that scenes are filmed first in the Japanese language to familiarize the cast, and the scenes are filmed again in the English language. The actors’ costumes were designed by Penny Rose, who said, “We decided to base it on the culture and what the shapes should be—i.e., everyone’s in a kimono—but we’ve thrown a kind of fashion twist at it. And we’ve made it full of color, which is quite unusual for me.”
Directed by: Carl Erik Rinsch
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Rinko Kikuchi, Tadanobu Asano, Hiroyuki Sanada, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
Screenplay by: Chris Morgan, Hossein Amini
Production Design by: Jan Roelfs
Cinematography by: John Mathieson
Film Editing by: Stuart Baird
Costume Design by: Penny Rose
Set Decoration by: Elli Griff
Music by: Ilan Eshkeri
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, and thematic elements.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: December 25, 2013
Taglines: Everyone’s driven by something.
Rush is a biographical sports drama film centered on the rivalry between race car drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the 1976 Formula One motor-racing season. It was written by Peter Morgan, directed by Ron Howard and stars Chris Hemsworth as Hunt and Daniel Brühl as Lauda. The film premiered in London on September 2, 2013 and was shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival before its United Kingdom release on September 13, 2013.
Rush portrays the exhilarating true story of two of the greatest rivals the world has ever witnessed—handsome English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and his methodical, brilliant opponent, Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). Set against the sexy and glamorous golden age of Formula 1 racing, Rush follows the two drivers as they push themselves to the breaking point of physical and psychological endurance, where there is no shortcut to victory and no margin for error.
James Hunt and Niki Lauda are two highly skilled race car drivers who first develop a fierce rivalry in 1970 at a Formula Three race at the Crystal Palace circuit in England, when both their cars spin out and Hunt eventually wins the race. Hunt is a brash, young Briton with a penchant of vomiting before every race, while Lauda is a cool, calculating technical genius who relies on precision. After a falling out with his father, Lauda takes a large bank loan and buys his way into the BRM Formula One team, meeting teammate Clay Regazzoni for the first time.
Meanwhile, Hesketh Racing, the fledgling racing team Hunt drives for, enters Formula One as well. Lauda then joins Scuderia Ferrari with Regazzoni and wins his first championship in 1975. Hesketh closes shop after failing to secure a sponsor, but Hunt manages to land a driving position in McLaren after Emerson Fittipaldi leaves the team. During this time, Hunt marries supermodel Suzy Miller, while Lauda develops a relationship with socialite Marlene Knaus.
The 1976 Formula One season starts with Lauda dominating the first two races while Hunt struggles to catch up. Hunt wins the Spanish Grand Prix, but is disqualified after a post-race inspection rules that his car is too wide. Struggling to comply to F1 rules, Hunt suffers a series of setbacks on the next few races, and his situation is further exacerbated when Suzy is discovered to have a relationship with Richard Burton. Following his divorce, he regains his competitive spirit and his disqualification in Spain is overturned, reinstating the points he lost and putting him back into championship contention. Meanwhile, Lauda marries Marlene in a private ceremony; he starts to have concerns about the effects of his marriage to his racing career.
At the German Grand Prix, Lauda urges the F1 committee to cancel the race due to rain on an already dangerous race track; the request is vetoed by majority of the racers after Hunt convinces them that Lauda fears losing the points race. Both Hunt and Lauda start the race with rain tires, which becomes a costly tactic due to most of the track quickly drying up.
They both pit to change tires during the second lap, but halfway toward the third lap, a suspension arm in Lauda’s Ferrari breaks, sending the car crashing violently into an embankment before it bursts into flames and is further hit by other cars on the track. Lauda is airlifted to the hospital with third-degree burns to his head and toxic fumes in his lungs. For the next six weeks, Lauda is treated for his injuries while he watches his rival dominate the rest of the season. Against his doctor’s orders, he returns behind the wheel of his Ferrari at the Italian Grand Prix to finish fourth while Hunt fails to finish the race.
The 1976 season comes to a climax at the rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix, with Lauda leading Hunt by three points. By the end of the second lap, Lauda returns to the pits and retire from the race, opting to stay with his wife instead of risking his life again on the track. After facing stiff competition under grueling conditions and overcoming a late pit stop, Hunt finishes third, giving him enough points to beat Lauda by one point and win the championship. He spends the rest of the year with fame, sex, and drugs, while Lauda takes an interest in flying private planes.
At a private airfield, Lauda suggests for Hunt to focus on the next racing season, but later on realizes that Hunt no longer has anything to prove. Hunt continues to race until his retirement in 1979, and becomes a motorsport broadcast commentator until his death in 1993 at the age of 45.
Directed by: Ron Howard
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino, Natalie Dormer, Stephen Mangan
Screenplay by: Peter Morgan
Production Design by: Mark Digby
Cinematography by: Anthony Dod Mantle
Film Editing by: Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill
Costume Design by: Julian Day
Set Decoration by: Michelle Day
Art Direction by: Katrina Dunn
Music by: Hans Zimmer
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, nudity, language, some disturbing images and brief drug use.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: September 20, 2013
Taglines: Rule the dark.
The infamous Riddick has been left for dead on a sun-scorched planet that appears to be lifeless. Soon, however, he finds himself fighting for survival against alien predators lethal than any human he’s encountered. The only way off is for Riddick to activate an emergency beacon and alert mercenaries who rapidly descend to the planet in search of bounty.
The first ship to arrive carries a new breed of merc, more lethal and violent, while the second is captained by a man whose pursuit of Riddick is more personal. With time running out and a storm on the horizon that no one could survive, his hunters won’t leave the planet without Riddick’s head as their trophy.
Riddick, the latest chapter of the saga that began with 2000’s hit sci-fi film Pitch Black and 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick reunites writer / director David Twohy (A Perfect Getaway, The Fugitive) and star Vin Diesel (the Fast and Furious franchise, xXx). Diesel reprises his role as the antihero Riddick, a dangerous, escaped convict wanted by every bounty hunter in the known galaxy.
Riddick is a British-American science fiction thriller film, the third installment in the Riddick film series. Produced by and starring Vin Diesel as the title character, Riddick is written and directed by David Twohy, who previously wrote and directed the first two installments, Pitch Black (2000) and The Chronicles of Riddick (2004). The film was released on September 4, 2013, in the UK and Ireland, and September 6, 2013, in the United States. It was shown in both conventional and IMAX Digital theaters.
About the Story
Nine years after the events of Pitch Black, Riddick has become increasingly uneasy in his role as Lord Marshall of the Necromonger fleet. His refusal to swear into the Necromonger faith has caused dissent among his subjects and assassination attempts by his subordinate commanders.
Riddick strikes a deal with Commander Vaako; the location of Furya and a ship to take him there, in exchange for Vaako becoming the next Lord Marshall. Led by Vaako’s aide, Krone, Riddick and a group of Necromongers arrive on a desolate planet. Recognizing that it is not Furya, Riddick kills most of his escort when they attempt to assassinate him. In the chaos, Krone causes a landslide and buries Riddick alive.
Emerging from the rubble with a fractured leg, Riddick manages to reset and splint his broken leg and fend off native predators: vulture-like flying animals, packs of jackal-like beasts and swarms of venomous, scorpion-like water dwelling creatures called Mud Demons. Needing time to heal, Riddick hides himself within some abandoned ruins. Riddick later sees a vast savanna beyond some rocky cliffs, but the only passage through is guarded by Mud Demons, which inhabit several muddy pools.
As he builds an immunity to the Mud Demon’s venom, Riddick improvises melee weapons, while raising and training an orphaned jackal-beast pup. The two eventually succeed in defeating the Mud Demons and reach the savannah. Riddick soon realizes a massive series of approaching storms are unleashing countless more of the Demons, who must keep their skin wet at all times to survive. Needing to get off-world, Riddick activates an emergency beacon in an empty mercenary station, which broadcasts his identity and presence on the planet.
Two ships promptly arrive in answer to the beacon; the first a group of bushwhacker bounty hunters led by a violent and unstable man named Santana, and another better-equipped team of professional mercenaries led by a man who is not initially identified but is named Boss Johns. Riddick has left them a blood message vowing death to every merc unless they leave one of their ships and depart the planet on the other.
Rubio, Nunez and Falco are killed during the first night, forcing a reluctant Santana to cooperate with Johns. Riddick later manages to steal power nodes from each of the teams’ ships and then approaches Johns and Santana to strike a deal for their return. However, the conversation turns out to be an ambush. Johns’ second-in-command, Dahl, shoots Riddick with powerful tranquilizers. In an effort to defend his master, Riddick’s alien jackal brutally attacks Santana, but is shot multiple times in the throat.
Back at the Merc Station, Johns interrogates Riddick about the final fate of his son, William J. Johns (the mercenary from Pitch Black). When the storms finally reach the station, large numbers of Mud Demons emerge from the muddy ground, and besiege the station, killing Lockspur and Moss. Johns agrees to release Riddick in order to locate the hidden power cells. Santana stops him and attempts to kill Riddick, who is worth twice as much dead as he is alive. Riddick instead beheads Santana thus keeping his earlier promise to kill the merc and avenge the death of his pet.
They then fight their way to the ship which houses the hover bikes with Vargas being killed. Johns, Santana’s man Diaz, and Riddick leave the ship together on hover bikes on a mission to retrieve the power nodes. During their journey, Diaz knocks Johns’ bike over the side, causing him to crash. He is then picked up by Riddick.
After they reached the power nodes, Riddick reveals to Johns about his son’s addiction to morphine and a spineless attempt by his son to utilize a child as ‘bait’ for the hostile animals on the world they were stranded on ten years prior. With both of them distracted, Diaz attempts to kill Riddick and Johns. Riddick fights and kills him, but not before unintentionally damaging the only working hover bike (Diaz had already disabled the other one).
Riddick and Boss Johns fend off a seemingly endless horde of Demons while running back to the station. Riddick is severely wounded. Johns takes both nodes and abandons Riddick. After treating his wound, Riddick begins to fight a futile battle against the advancing Demons. Just when it seems he is about to be killed, Johns arrives in one of the ships and shoots the creatures while Dahl descends to rescue Riddick.
Directed by: David Twohy
Starring: Vin Diesel, Jordi Mollà, Matthew Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista
Screenplay by: David Twohy, Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat
Production Design by: Joseph C. Nemec
Cinematography by: David Eggby
Film Editing by: Tracy Adams
Costume Design by: Simonetta Mariano
Set Decoration by: Daniel Carpentier, David Laramy
Music by: Graeme Revell
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language and some sexual content / nudity.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: September 6, 2013
Taglines: You can’t fight your destiny.
Kick-Ass, Hit-Girl and Red Mist return for the follow-up to 2010′s irreverent global hit: “Kick-Ass 2.” After Kick-Ass’ (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) insane bravery inspires a new wave of self-made masked crusaders, led by the badass Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), our hero joins them on patrol. When these amateur superheroes are hunted down by Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse)—reborn as The Mother Fucker—only the blade-wielding Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) can prevent their annihilation.
When we last saw junior assassin Hit-Girl and young vigilante Kick-Ass, they were trying to live as normal teenagers Mindy and Dave. With graduation looming and uncertain what to do, Dave decides to start the world’s first superhero team with Mindy. Unfortunately, when Mindy is busted for sneaking out as Hit-Girl, she’s forced to retire—leaving her to navigate the terrifying world of high-school mean girls on her own. With no one left to turn to, Dave joins forces with Justice Forever, run by a born-again ex-mobster named Colonel Stars and Stripes.
Just as they start to make a real difference on the streets, the world’s first super villain, The Mother Fucker, assembles his own evil league and puts a plan in motion to make Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl pay for what they did to his dad. But there’s only one problem with his scheme: If you mess with one member of Justice Forever, you mess with them all.
Write It to Make It: Kick-Ass Is Reborn
“Kick-Ass,” the revolutionary creator-owned comic that Mark Millar launched with artist John S. Romita Jr. in 2008, challenged curious readers with one simple question: “Why has nobody ever tried to become a superhero?” The two men answered that query with a barrage of violence, memorable characters and quotable dialogue.
Freshly buoyed by the blockbuster success of the Universal actioner Wanted— based on his same-titled book—Millar began to explore the possibility of bringing “Kick-Ass” to the big screen. Because “Kick-Ass” was an independent comic, this allowed the creators greater freedom in approaching production partners who would appreciate the series’ bracingly unique storylines.
Around that time, director Matthew Vaughn was looking for his next project and had recently been introduced to Millar by Stardust co-writer Jane Goldman and her husband, Jonathan Ross. Millar later pitched Vaughn a number of ideas, but it was Kick-Ass that resonated most. Vaughn was determined to apply the same anarchic spirit of the comic to the filmic version—even if that meant including scenes in which an 11-year-old Hit Girl mows down dozens of heavily armed men with an arsenal of weaponry and a string of expletives. When turned down by Hollywood’s major studios, Vaughn decided to finance Kick-Ass independently.
Scripted by Goldman and Vaughn, Kick-Ass brought to the screen the wild story of Dave Lizewski, an ordinary Manhattan teenager who sets out to become a real-life superhero. Donning a green-and-yellow wet suit and calling himself Kick-Ass, he captures the imagination of the public and becomes an online phenomenon. Kick-Ass soon discovers he is not the city’s only superhero when he meets a fearless and highly trained father-daughter crime-fighting duo—the cowl-draped Big Daddy and ninja assassin Hit Girl. As Kick-Ass becomes entangled in their quest to take down the criminal empire of local ma ioso Frank D’Amico, our hero gains a nemesis of his own: Frank’s teenage son, Chris, who has taken to calling himself Red Mist.
The movie was nothing short of a huge gamble, but one that the filmmakers were prepared to take. Kick-Ass was lensed in 2008, with Vaughn showing it to potential distributors a year later. He subsequently sealed deals with Lionsgate and Universal Pictures to release it in the U.S. and internationally, respectively, in 2010. Kick-Ass was met with astonishing reviews such as Richard Corliss’ Time magazine rave: “It soars, jet-propelled, on its central idea of matching a superhero’s exploits with the grinding reality of urban teen life and on the aerodynamic smoothness of thefilm’s style.”
Although the groundbreaking film caused some critics to raise their eyebrows in dismay, it was adored by audiences who understood Vaughn’s strong desire to upend the genre. In turn, the movie pulled in almost $100 million globally, proved enormously successful on DVD/Blu-ray metrics and gained a passionate following along the way.
All the while, Millar and Romita continued the work on their homegrown saga. The first chapter of their follow-up comic series, “Kick-Ass 2, Issue 1,” debuted on October 20, 2010. Set several months after the events of the first run, the books reconnect us with Mindy and Dave as they struggle to keep their identities as Hit Girl and Kick-Ass a secret—while she trains him to be a better hero who can take a much-less forgiving punch. Meanwhile, Red Mist returns with an increasingly psychotic new attitude and an unprintable name change to match. Forming a group of super-villains, Chris takes the deadly game to the next level as he attempts to exterminate the duo that killed his reprobate father.
Twenty-four hours after its release, “Kick-Ass 2, Issue 1” sold out, and the “Hit Girl” companion title has since become the most popular comic book with a female lead in more than a decade. The irst two chapters of the “Kick-Ass 3” series are currently in release, completing the trilogy and bringing Dave Lizewski’s story to an exciting finish later this year.
Millar walks us through the evolution of this signature property: “Kick-Ass was about a guy deciding to become a superhero and influencing others to do the same. Kick-Ass 2 takes that idea and runs with it. Now we have this group of people who, inspired by the heroics of Kick-Ass, have formed a crime-fighting gang, Justice Forever. At the same time, Chris is embarking on the opposite journey. He has decided to become a self-proclaimed super-villain and is recruiting his own army. It takes something that was singular in the first movie and makes it into something more exciting. It’s that sense of escalation, of expansion, that you always want with a sequel.”
As Millar and Romita created the characters and own the rights to them, the two men take the fate of our everyday superheroes very seriously. Romita explains that he and Millar have just as much invested in the fate of Dave, Mindy and the other members of Justice Forever as the diehard fans do, and it is tough to create bad situations that happen to them. The artist says: “All of the interesting characters that are in Justice Forever, you want them to win. Here I am, a comic book artist, and I want these characters to be superheroes because I don’t want anything bad happening to them. I like all of them.”
Kick-Ass’ unexpected success, set the stage for a sequel; however, it would take a couple years for the next chapter to begin production. Kicking off in 2011, Vaughn met with Cry_Wolf director Jeff Wadlow to discuss a project known as Bloodshot. Wadlow had written the screenplay, and Vaughn was attached to direct.
Other commitments resulted in Vaughn’s inability to continue with Bloodshot, but he remained interested in working with this intriguing young director. When Vaughn’s obligations to the X-Men franchise wrapped him up for the foreseeable future, the filmmaker pondered abdicating both writing and directing duties to Wadlow, which would allow Vaughn to remain involved as a producer.
Wadlow was so adamant that Vaughn pass the mantle on to him, he set to work on a script without a deal yet in place. The filmmaker recalls: “I wrote it to direct it, and I wasn’t going to let anyone else do it. That’s the upside of taking on the risk of writing the script without a deal in place, initially. Even though Matthew and I talked a lot, I jumped before there was any real plan in place. I wanted to make the movie, and so I wrote it to make it.”
Vaughn offers that Wadlow was just the director to take the reins. He commends: “Je ’s pitch or Bloodshot was damn impressive, and then his script came in. It was exactly what his pitch was, which in Hollywood is very rare. I liked him, and he had a passion for comics, especially or ‘Kick-Ass.’” Still, the passing of the torch wasn’t immediate. Re lects Vaughn: “Even though I want to give people breaks, it was a weird decision to hand this over to a director. I thought I have to find the right person who is hungry, but has experience and is passionate. As well, I like writer/directors because it means they can know how to write a screenplay. Sometimes, you can have a great script then you hire a director who does something totally di erent with it.”
Directed by: Jeff Wadlow
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Morris Chestnut, Claudia Lee, Amy Anzel
Screenplay by: Jeff Wadlow, Mark Millar, John Romita Jr.
Production Design by: Russell De Rozario
Cinematography by: Tim Maurice-Jones
Film Editing by: Eddie Hamilton
Costume Design by: Sammy Sheldon
Set Decoration by: Sophie Newman
Music by: Henry Jackman, Matthew Margeson
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, pervasive language, crude and sexual content, and brief nudity.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: August 16, 2013
Taglines: 2 guns, 1 bank.
For the past 12 months, DEA agent Bobby Trench and U.S. naval intelligence officer Marcus Stigman have been reluctantly attached at the hip. Working undercover as members of a narcotics syndicate, each man distrusts his partner as much as the criminals they have both been tasked to take down.
When their attempt to infiltrate a Mexican drug cartel and recover millions goes haywire, Trench and Stigman are suddenly disavowed by their superiors. Now that everyone wants them in jail or in the ground, the only person they can count on is the other. Unfortunately for their pursuers, when good guys spend years pretending to be bad, they pick up a few tricks along the way.
Academy Award winner Denzel Washington (Safe House, Flight) and Mark Wahlberg (Contraband, Ted) lead an all-star cast in 2 Guns, an explosive action film that tracks two operatives from competing bureaus who are forced on the run together. But there is a big problem with their unexpected partnership: Neither knows that the other is an undercover federal agent.
Starring alongside Washington and Wahlberg in 2 Guns are Paula Patton (Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, upcoming Baggage Claim) as Agent Deb Rees, Bobby’s handler at the DEA who further blurs the lines between on- and off-duty; Bill Paxton (Apollo 13, television’s Big Love) as Earl, a honey-tongued CIA asset who is even tougher than the men he takes down; Fred Ward (Sweet Home Alabama,Tremors) as Adm. Tuwey, the Navy bigwig who could be Stig’s last shot at staying alive;
Attached at the Hip
BOOM! Studios published the first issue of writer Steven Grant and artist MATEUS SANTOLOUCO’s explosive five-issue miniseries, “2 Guns,” in 2008. Grant told the intriguing tale of Bobby and Stig, two undercover agents who discover that the amount of cash locked in the bank vault that they are robbing is not remotely what they expected. When the two find themselves double-crossed by the very men who set them up to do the job, they must go on the run from the organizations they vowed to serve.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of BOOM! Studios Ross Richie walks us through the source material: “It’s a story about characters ground up by the system, set within the framework of government agencies that pursue their goals, no matter the consequences. Steven took the familiar noir trope of an undercover cop tale, and he deconstructed that. He also included lots of comedy and action to make it incredibly entertaining.”
The series of graphic novels is written by a man with a curious take on this style of writing. “I like doing crime comics,” admits Grant, who calls 2 Guns an “anti-buddy” story. “I don’t actually believe in good and evil. From my perspective, people walk a line, fall on this side or that, and wobble back and forth. It’s just a natural existence. I tend to view my material not as dramas, but as situational comedies where everybody in the story thinks they know what’s going on, and actually nobody in it knows what’s going on.”
Producer Marc Platt, who has shepherded to the big screen action hits such as Wanted and Drive, was keen to develop the graphic novel series brought to him by his colleague, fellow 2 Guns producer Adam Siegel. Platt discusses his initial interest in the source material: “I always love stories where there are two characters who are seemingly very different, and the journey of the story is the way in which those two characters find their way to each other. Here were two guys who don’t want to be in the same general vicinity of each other, but who are forced to work together and learn something about each other and themselves in the process.”
To develop the story into a film, Platt and Siegel found a writer who could turn this crime story series—replete with much humor and multiple twists—into a taut script. Explains Siegel: “I was a big fan of Blake Masters’ work on the television drama Brotherhood, which I thought had two great masculine roles: two people on both sides of the law. Blake sparked to the graphic novel immediately, especially the Butch & Sundance elements that he saw in them.”
Fresh off of three seasons on an award-winning show, Masters jumped at the chance to work on fare that was a bit lighter. “2 Guns is twisted in its own way, but I instantly saw the spine of the story and the chance to create some great characters in this world that the graphic novel set up,” he offers. “The characters and the humor of the movie are inextricably bound together. The humor is coming out of each character’s worldview and the way in which those views clash. Everybody has their own code, and they can’t believe everyone else doesn’t share their code.”
Platt was pleased with the direction in which Masters’ script was headed, and he flew through a review of the initial treatment. The producer recalls: “I read the first draft of the screenplay on an airplane between Los Angeles and New York, and got to around page 80 just before landing. I shot off an e-mail from the plane to Adam that said, ‘I love these first 80 pages, and if the last 40 are just as good, we’re in!’”
Early on during the script’s development, Mark Wahlberg expressed interest in joining 2 Guns. He came aboard as Navy Petty Officer Michael “Stig” Stigman, a fast-talking sharpshooter who is as awkwardly charming as he is cunning. For more than a decade, Stig has served the Navy honorably. But when he does six months in the brig after attacking a military police officer (MP), Stig is drafted into one of the Navy’s shadier ops and officially considered AWOL. He can maneuver in the dark, and he’s now dispensable if he decides to go off the Navy’s playbook.
The actor describes what drew him to the role: “The story goes back to those great buddy action comedies that I’ve always been a huge fan of. Stig’s that guy who just goes on impulse. Going into the bank heist, they’ve both been playing each other; neither has been completely honest about who they are or their motivations. Even though he’s playing Bobby, and Bobby’s playing him, Stig’s still honest about how he feels. He’s up for a good time, but if he gets rubbed the wrong way, he can go dark pretty quick.”
Although their mission has them planning to steal approximately $3 million of drug kingpin Papi Greco’s cash when we are introduced to the reluctant partners, Stig and Bobby get much more than they bargained for. When they open (read: blow up) the safety deposit boxes at Tres Cruces Savings & Loan, they discover more than $43 million—money that will most definitely be missed when they go on the run.
Wahlberg brings us up to speed with the moment when it all goes to hell with the agent and the operative: “After the heist is over, unfortunately it’s either Bobby or Stig, and Stig gets the upper hand. Stig doesn’t want to kill Bobby because he’s very fond of him, but he has a job to do. In the scuffle, Bobby’s DEA badge drops and Stig is upset— even though he’s been double-crossing Bobby—that Bobby had the nerve to double-cross him.”
For his part, DEA agent Robert Trench is called many names. And depending upon the role you play in his world, you may know him as Agent Trench, Bobby B. or Bobby Beans. He’s spent three years infiltrating Manny “Papi” Greco’s Sonora, Mexico-based empire, and in the past 12 months, he’s brought in Stig to work the job. Bobby’s latest deal has him trading 500 American passports for cocaine, and Greco has come up with cash, not coke. As Bobby and Stig head back into the U.S.—happy to still have their heads attached to their bodies—they are hauled into custody. Both of their superiors are less than pleased they’ve come back empty-handed.
Masters expanded upon this rich world that Grant created and underscored that when you’re in deep with a drug lord, your handlers are bound to wonder if you are on the take, or as Papi puts it, you “skim a little cream.” After Bobby and Stig are questioned separately at immigration control, Bobby is given two more weeks before the DEA pulls the plug on his operation. Stig’s plan of robbing the bank where the drug lord stashes his cash is looking like Bobby’s best option for nabbing the criminal. Until they make the heist and realize they’ve actually stolen the CIA’s money.
Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, Fred Ward
Screenplay by: Blake Masters, Steven Grant
Production Design by: Beth Mickle
Cinematography by: Oliver Wood
Film Editing by: Michael Tronick
Costume Design by: Laura Jean Shannon
Set Decoration by: Leonard R. Spears
Music by: Clinton Shorter
MPAA Rating: R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: August 2, 2013
Taglines: Defending our world one soul at a time.
Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds headline the 3D supernatural action – adventure “R.I.P.D.” as two cops dispatched by the otherworldly Rest In Peace Department to protect and serve the living from an increasingly destructive array of souls who refuse to move peacefully to the other side.
Veteran sheriff Roy Pulsifer (Bridges) has spent his career with the legendary police force known as R.I.P.D. tracking monstrous spirits who are cleverly disguised as ordinary people. His mission? To arrest and bring to justice a special brand of criminals trying to escape final judgment by hiding among the unsuspecting on Earth.
Once the wise-cracking Roy is assigned former rising-star detective Nick Walker (Reynolds) as his junior officer, the new partners have to turn grudging respect into top-notch teamwork. When they uncover a plot that could end life as we know it, two of R.I.P.D.’s finest must miraculously restore the cosmic balance… or watch the tunnel to the afterlife begin sending angry souls the very wrong way.
One Soul at a Time: Developing R.I.P.D.
Before Peter M. Lenkov wrote for hit television series such as 24, CSI: NY and Hawaii Five-0, he cut his procedural teeth on the series of graphic novels known as “R.I.P.D.” Since Dark Horse Comics founder Mike Richardson first heard Lenkov’s pitch for this story about two rogue cops working on the other other side of the law in the late ’90s, Richardson has had an eye on adapting the otherworldly “R.I.P.D.” series of comics for the big screen.
During his tenure at Dark Horse, Richardson has led his team to translate some of their most popular graphic novels into hit films such as The Mask, Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The producer knows that the endeavor of selecting the right time to adapt unique properties for the big screen is a strategic one. Richardson remarks: “As a publisher, you’re always looking for great publishing material. We try to recognize that potential, which is what happened with ‘R.I.P.D.’ Keeping mindful that his company traverses two mediums, Richardson adds: “It’s hard to be precious with the graphic novel when you’re talking about translating it to a screenplay. They have different requirements and elements that require a director who is able to extrapolate that something special to make a great film.”
First published in 2003, Lenkov’s popular four-issue series tells the raucous story of a police force comprising officers who are on their second tour of duty with the Rest In Peace Department. This team has the ability to traverse the real world and the netherworld to keep demons at bay and ensure that the balance of life and death—and the inherent safety of humanity—remains a guarantee.
Over the course of the past decade, several different treatments of the material were floated around Dark Horse, and some scripts came close to being made. But it was when R.I.P.D. executive producer Ori Marmur, a production executive at veteran producer Neal H. Moritz’s Original Film, saw Lenkov’s graphic novel during a visit to Richardson’s offices that the project kicked into high gear.
Fortuitously, Marmur—quite taken by the concept of the graphic novel in front of him—was having lunch with filmmaker David Dobkin and asked Richardson if he could show Dobkin “R.I.P.D.” to get the writer/director’s thoughts on the material. Dobkin called Richardson after reading the comic and advised that he loved the book and was interested in developing it into a film. In fact, he came onto R.I.P.D. and did a great deal of work on the story before the project took on a new direction.
Ultimately, it was the writing team of Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi—working from a story in which they share credit with Dobkin—who jump-started a version of the screenplay that Richardson and Moritz would feel was ready for the big screen. Richardson explains the next stage of development: “Phil and Matt were working on another Dark Horse project when we pitched them the idea of creating a screenplay for R.I.P.D. that expanded upon David’s terrific work. They liked the material and switched over from the earlier project to this one. We were lucky to get them.”
Coincidentally, over the past several years, Hay and Manfredi have also worked with Original Film on several other projects. Their writing style is complementary to the action genre in which Moritz, a prolific producer who counts the Fast & Furious franchise, 21 Jump Street and I Am Legend among his numerous film credits, excels. At the same time, the writers chose to infuse the story with additional elements that reflect their darkly comic tastes.
The richness of the premise and intricate world creation excited Moritz as much as it did Richardson. He notes: “On the conceptual level, the idea of the R.I.P.D. was a unique one about a police department whose sole task is to find the dead living amongst us and bring them back to the other side to face judgment. On another level, it hearkens back to my favorite buddy-cop films like 48 Hours and Lethal Weapon. There is this fantastic dynamic between these two guys. What we set out to do was make a buddy-cop movie that had great action, but at the same time we wanted to ensure that there are big stakes and the cinematic scope of a summer film.”
From the start, the screenwriting team’s goal was to retain the salient elements of the graphic novels while exploring the rapport between two wholly disparate guys—a newly dead modern-day police officer and his gunslinger counterpart from the Old West—and how they learn to work with one another. This interplay became the standout aspect of the script. Says Hay: “We wanted to maintain that inspirational nugget of the comic book. It’s morphed into this landscape that fits the best of what we’ve been thinking about over the last few years.”
Adds writing partner Manfredi: “But it always comes back to this buddy-cop movie that we wanted to tell of a newly dead officer and his veteran partner.”
Joining the core team in production duties was seasoned action producer Michael Fottrell, whose diverse résumé of motion-picture credits includes Fast & Furious, Fast Five and Live Free or Die Hard. Offers Fottrell: “What I loved about Phil and Matt’s script is that they were able to make this new world that Nick and Roy have entered just as believable as the one that exists on the plane that humans understand. It’s a delicate dance to merge comedy with action and spectacle, and they nailed it.”
Recruiting Boston’s Finest
It is through Boston police detective Nick Walker’s eyes that the audience is drawn into this divine order of law enforcement. A hard-charging detective who knows how to work the system, Nick pays the ultimate price when he is killed in the line of duty during a routine drug bust. Facing final judgment and unsure of what fate holds in store, Nick is given an offer he can’t refuse: Either take his thug-busting talents and pay a penance of 100 years of service in the R.I.P.D. or face an uncertain judgment in the afterlife. Propelled by the desire to find his murderer and reunite with his wife—and convinced he can sidestep the department’s strict rules—Nick opts for an assignment with the R.I.P.D. and begins an eternal education.
Early in the project’s genesis, Ryan Reynolds joined the film to portray the slain detective who has a big surprise awaiting him in the afterlife. Enthusiastic about the role and keen to take a more active part in the development, Reynolds also signed on as an executive producer. “The script has been through all sorts of iterations, and finally landed on this current version,” he shares. “I love the comic and our script takes its essence, as well as its basic plotlines and devices, and uses that. There’s a bit of tragedy and a love story wrapped up in this incredibly funny, charming movie, which is a hard thing to pull off.”
With Reynolds on board for one of the two lead roles, Robert Schwentke, who most recently directed the blockbuster Red—the eponymous action-comedy based on the comic book—would sign on for R.I.P.D. The filmmaker’s passion for the source material, as well as his vision for the action-adventure, made a real impression on Moritz, Richardson, Fottrell and Reynolds.
Moritz, who had seen Schwentke’s first feature film, the 2002 thriller Tattoo, was keen to work with the German-born director. “I met with Robert on numerous occasions for other movies, but I could never convince him to do one. When R.I.P.D. came up, I had a feeling we would get him and I was glad to get his call,” recounts the producer. “He is visually an amazing director. What I appreciate more than anything, though, is that he knows how to get to the heart of a movie. He gives us incredible visuals and action, as well as a terrific relationship between these two characters.”
Richardson agrees with his fellow producer on their choice, noting: “I really liked Red, so when Robert’s name first came up, we were excited to talk with him about the project. I have to say that his vision of the movie clicked right away for me. We listened to a lot of directors and they would be strong on one element or another, but Robert had a true vision for the film that really spoke to us.”
Schwentke would soon hunker down with Hay and Manfredi and begin to fine-tune the characterization and narrative, which, for material that is supernatural and fantasy-driven, is an arduous task. Recalls Hay: “Robert, Matt and I just holed up together. The core scenes in the movie—the true character comedy, what sets the movie apart—remain close to what was written from the very beginning. But when Robert came in, he had such a specific vision that it helped us take the mythology to another level. He had insanely awesome ideas, and we locked it up together and were able to put everything in the script that we always wanted.”
This period turned out to be most rewarding for the team as the direction of the film was solidified—especially when the filmmakers discovered they had a fan in Oscar®-winning actor Jeff Bridges, who would come aboard in the role of grizzled Sheriff Roycephus “Roy” Pulsifer. After serving several tours of duty for multiple infractions in the department, Roy has a weary “been-there, seen-that” attitude. Save his lone-gun style and persnickety ways, this R.I.P.D lawman is the best of the best and knows every trick in the cosmic universe.
The performer found a big fan in producer Moritz, who commends: “Jeff is one of my favorite actors of all time. When I learned that we were going to work together, it was one of the highlights of my filmmaking career. R.I.P.D. was almost made a number of times, and there were a number of actors who almost played this role. But when we were on the set watching him perform, I thought, ‘Who else did we ever think could play Roy?’ He came in and infused this character with such wit, sarcasm and lovability.”
Fresh off his Oscar®-nominated tour de force in True Grit, Bridges wasn’t initially looking to inhabit another cowboy role on the big screen. However, Roy’s subtle comedic panache—one reminiscent of Bridges’ turn as The Dude in the cult classic The Big Lebowski—piqued his curiosity. Bridges and his representatives had been aware of the R.I.P.D. script and had been tracking its progress until he felt it was the right time to approach the team. He recounts: “I threw my name into the hat and I’m lucky I got the gig. I’ve had a really good time.”
Bridges and Schwentke engaged in marathon conversations as they created a definitive persona for Roy. The actor was not disappointed with the director’s input, noting: “I enjoyed working with Robert so much. It’s funny, but when I’m preparing for a part, I find that I see everything through the filter of that role. While I’m working, I glean all kinds of inspiration from everything I’m around—from the way a guy sits in a chair to a book I’m reading. One of the things Robert turned me onto was a great artist named Jim Woodring (a cartoonist and Dark Horse Comics contributor) who created the cult comic ‘Frank.’” It’s very surreal and influenced my character quite a bit.”
Producer Richardson was pleased to see that the two worlds in which he worked had such an interesting crossover. He recalls the inspiration: “Jeff actually drew pictures of Jim’s character while he was sitting on the set. I loved it and asked Jim to create an original ‘Frank’ piece of art and gave that artwork to Jeff on set. Jeff returned the favor by signing one of his ‘Frank’ pieces for Jim.”
Even in the afterlife, Roy still has his demons; he carries several hundred years of grudges and baggage from his past, especially toward the coyotes that picked his bones clean after he was shot. Despite his musings of Zen-like detachment and trying to let go, Roy hasn’t dealt well with his own history…even though he believes he’s made peace.
The constant friction between the two mismatched cops drives the comedy throughout R.I.P.D. But even as Roy schools Nick in the rules of engagement or waxes poetic on life, love and the pursuit of Deados (laws-of-nature-defying souls that refuse to move on), the old coot offers up the rare insight that resonates with the rookie. “Occasionally, Roy produces a real nugget of wisdom, but usually it’s pretty tried and true,” laughs Reynolds. “He’s got 200 years of experience working in this world, and he knows there’s no way to reach out to loved ones left behind. With Roy’s guidance, Nick discovers that he’s haunting his wife and not connecting with her.”
Once Bridges and Reynolds began rehearsals in Boston, their congenial off-screen friendship could not help but influence their on-screen rapport. Says Bridges: “Ryan is a lovely cat. He just hits all of those targets and makes it come together, and that’s a special talent. We jam on so many levels. Acting is all about creating that illusion, but if you do have a cool relationship outside of shooting the movie, you can bring that into the work. Ryan and I had a good time together off the set just hanging out.”
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Mary-Louise Parker, Stephanie Szostak, Marisa Miller, Kevin Bacon
Screenplay by: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Production Design by: Alec Hammond
Cinematography by: Alwin H. Küchler
Film Editing by: Mark Helfrich
Costume Design by: Roberto Craciunica, Susan Lyall
Set Decoration by: Kathy Lucas
Music by: Christophe Beck
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, sci-fi / fantasy action, some sensuality, and language including sex references
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, sci-fi/fantasy action, some sensuality, and language including sex references.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: July 18, 2013
Taglines: Back 2 Work.
Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s worldwide blockbuster Despicable Me entertained audiences around the globe in 2010, grossing more than $540 million and becoming the 10th-biggest animated motion picture in U.S. history. In summer 2013, get ready for more Minion madness in Despicable Me 2.
Chris Melandri and his acclaimed filmmaking team create an all-new comedy adventure featuring the return of (former?) super-villain Gru (Steve Carell), his adorable girls, the unpredictably hilarious Minions… and a host of new and outrageously funny characters.
Now that the ever-entrepreneurial Gru has left behind a life of super crime to raise Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher), Gru, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) and the Minions have some free time on their hands.
But as he starts to adjust to his role as a suburban family man, an ultra-secret organization dedicated to fighting evil around the globe comes knocking. Now, it’s up to Gru and his new partner, Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), to discover who is responsible for a spectacular crime and bring him to justice. After all, it takes the world’s greatest ex-villain to catch the one vying to take his place…
Life Post-Villainy: Despicable Me 2 Begins
In Despicable Me, we were introduced to our protagonist, super-villain Gru, who was given a monumental challenge when he encountered three orphan girls who unexpectedly changed his life. The arc of the relationship between Gru and Margo, Edith and Agnes was the heartbeat of this animated adventure, and remains an essential element in what has grown into a franchise.
As the filmmakers approached the story for Despicable Me 2, they felt that the ending of the first movie—Gru realizing how much he loved the girls— was truly a beginning for the characters. The formation of this unusual family, and how they will move forward, provided a rich and identifiable point of engagement for moviegoers across the globe who saw their unique families reflected in this animated one.
After Despicable Me’s success, what became clear to the team was that the first film served as a launching pad. Illumination Entertainment CEO Chris Meledandri elaborates that it was the outpouring of support that ensured that there would be more tales of Gru and his family: “After Despicable Me’s success, it was clear that we wanted to make another film. The storytelling process of determining what was going to happen in the next film was a natural evolution. I’ve never had an experience where a conversation about a sequel was as organic as it was with Despicable Me 2. The characters and relationships that had been formed suggested many different places that we could go with the story. But we knew that the underlying core was going to be about the evolution of this family. That was absolutely clear.”
The creative team behind Despicable Me returns for Despicable Me 2 with a unified goal: to honor what worked so well in the first story, to amplify those elements through character and story, and deliver the combustible mixture of the sweet, the subversive and the unexpected that had such an impact on audiences. Meledandri acknowledges that this was no accident: “The team that made Despicable Me over a four-year period was nothing short of extraordinary. From our incredibly talented directors, Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin; to our writers, Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio; to my producing partner, Janet Healy; and all of the animators, designers, storyboard artists, technical directors, sound mixers—there were hundreds of people who brought their talents together to realize this wonderful film. I am fortunate enough to have them back to make the sequel. The relationship that was forged through the first film has translated into shorthand and a collaborative spirit on the second film that’s extraordinary.”
Healy reflects that this easy rapport among her colleagues made for a much more fluid process this time around: “Because Despicable Me 2 represents a reunion of the same crew, we knew one another very well and how to complement one another’s strengths. It made it much easier to revisit these characters in this world. This allowed us to think more about what their story would be this time because we didn’t have to figure out the look of the picture or how bad Gru should be or the characters of the girls. It was all there for us to mine.”
In Despicable Me 2, we pick up with Gru, the girls and the Minions, and we see what life for them looks like post-villainy. For Gru, there are practical questions that he has to answer: Is he capable of being a good father and leaving the exciting (not to mention lucrative) world of villainy behind? How will he provide for his daughters and continue to employ Dr. Nefario and the Minions now that the spoils of wickedness are in his past? Sums Meledandri: “For Gru, it’s life after villainy, and now his primary responsibility is his family. He’s trying to figure out how to support them and has started a cottage industry in his lab. He’s retrofitted his lab to become a jam and jelly factory.”
Despicable Me 2
Directed by: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Ken Jeong, Miranda Cosgrove, Moises Arias, Russell Brand
Screenplay by: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul
Production Design by: Yarrow Cheney, Eric Guillon
Film Editing by: Gregory Perler
Music by: Heitor Pereira
MPAA Rating: PG for rude humor and mild action.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: July 3, 2013
Taglines: One night a year all crime is legal.
James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is a wealthy home security salesman who lives in a nice neighborhood in the streets of San Francisco, California. James has made a fortune selling home security systems—comprising security cameras and metallic “butts” blocking any possible entrance—that are specifically designed for the Purge. One of the neighbors, Mrs. Grace Ferrin (Arija Bareikis), tells James’ wife Mary (Lena Headey) the neighbors have been gossiping that the extension on the Sandin family’s house was financed by the security systems which her husband had sold them in the first place.
At their heavily-fortified house, Mary struggles with their two children, Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and Charlie (Max Burkholder). Zoey is dating an older boy named Henry (Tony Oller), of whom her father does not approve and Charlie constantly questions the need for the purge. Charlie has a little robotic video doll on an RC car with a pair of glasses and the glasses are connected to the camera, causing Charlie to see everything in front of the RC Car.
Zoey goes to her bedroom, where she finds Henry, who snuck into the house before the lockdown to convince James to bless their relationship and figured he could not be thrown out of the house during the Purge. Later an Emergency Broadcast System message appears on television, telling America the rules of the Purge and that all police, fire, and hospital aid will be shut down for the 12 hour period. Tornado sirens start blaring outside, commencing the start of the annual “Purge”, which is a period when all crime is legal and emergency services remain suspended.
The Sandin family watch the events of the Purge unfold via the video monitors in the lounge. After a while, Charlie is left alone and notices a bloody stranger (Edwin Hodge), outside the house pleading for help. Charlie deactivates the security system and lets him in. James intercepts the stranger and holds him at gunpoint. Henry appears and opens fire on James, to eliminate the obstacle preventing his relationship with Zoey. James fatally shoots Henry, and in the confusion the stranger escapes to hide within the house. Zoey runs off with the fatally-wounded Henry and watches him die. James then goes off in search of his daughter and the stranger.
Later, a group of masked vigilantes led by a sadistic man who wears a suit and is known as “Polite Leader” (Rhys Wakefield) arrive at their home, looking for the stranger. The leader emphasizes that James’ family and the “Purgers” have common interests in the Purge, and that they have no desire to hurt “their own people”. The leader reveals that the stranger’s homelessness made him a good candidate for purging, and that James should not impede their right to purge, the leader’s sadistic personality is proven when he kills his best friend (John Weselcouch) just for interrupting his conversation with James.
The leader suggests the family give them the stranger or else they’ll kill everyone inside. James admits that the security system was designed to act as a deterrent, but not to withstand any number of aggressive assaults. Charlie finds the stranger and leads him to a secret hiding place. Zoey inadvertently stumbles into the stranger when she tries to hide in the same place and he holds her at gunpoint. Mary arrives on the scene and as the stranger’s attention is focused on her, James forcibly takes Zoey from him and straddles him on the floor, pounding his head with a vase and knocking him out. James and Mary tie up the stranger to subdue him, aggravating his wounds, ready to deliver him to the people outside.
After seeing James with Zoey, the stranger sadly tells James to take him outside. However, the Sandins have a change of heart after realizing they are becoming essentially no different from the purgers outside. The “Polite Leader”, seemingly unsatisfied, announces that their time is up. Using chains and a truck the Purgers tear down the metal walls and the Sandins are forced to defend themselves.
Directed by: James DeMonaco
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield, Tony Oller, Arija Bareikis
Screenplay by: James DeMonaco
Production Design by: Melanie Jones
Cinematography by: Jacques Jouffret
Film Editing by: Peter Gvozdas
Costume Design by: Lisa Norcia
Set Decoration by: Karuna Karmarkar
Music by: Nathan Whitehead
MPAA Rating: R for strong disturbing violence and some language.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: June 7, 2013