Category: Action and Adventure
Taglines: Being a teenager can be murder.
A pair of abused and neglected teenage girls almost get away with murder: Sisters Sandra and Beth learned early in life that they had no one to depend on but each other. But when their addict mother Linda makes plans to move the girls in with her abusive lover, the girls’ situation becomes unbearable. Seeing no other way out, Sandra and Beth recruit their classmates to help them plan their mother’s murder.
When the girls’ guilt spins out of control and they compulsively confess their involvement to friends, rumors that they are cold-blooded killers reach the ears of the authorities. The film is a harrowing and heartbreaking look at the teen subculture that nurtured the girls’ murderous fantasies and covered up for them after they committed an unthinkable crime in an effort to create a normal life for themselves.
Perfect Sisters is a 2014 Canadian crime drama film directed by Stanley M. Brooks. The film stars Abigail Breslin and Georgie Henley. The film was released on April 11, 2014. The film was based on the novel The Class Project: How to Kill a Mother, which itself was based on the real-life murder of Linda Andersen.
Film Review: Perfect Sisters
Ineffectual and cartoonish, “Perfect Sisters” dramatizes a case that shocked Canada a decade ago, when two teenage girls killed their alcoholic mother in order to be free of the chaos wrought by her perpetual irresponsibility — a well-planned crime that several of their classmates knew about before it happened.
TV producer Stan Brooks’ first directorial feature provides scant psychological depth, drawing its characters and staging their incidents in crude fashion, despite superficial production gloss. A limited U.S. theatrical launch April 11 is unlikely to significantly heighten visibility for a pic already available on demand and destined primarily for smallscreen sales.
Based on Toronto Star reporter Bob Mitchell’s true-crime tome (which is purportedly far less sympathetic toward the protags), Fabrizio Filippo and Adam Till’s script introduces us to high schoolers Sandra (Abigail Breslin) and Beth (Georgie Henley of “The Chronicles of Narnia” films) as they, along with a little brother, suffer yet another move to new digs.
The cause is, once again, their divorced mom Linda (Mira Sorvino) and her penchant for the bottle, which inevitably causes her to lose jobs and get them evicted. When she acquires a new boyfriend (James Russo) to pay the bills, his abuse and general creepiness hardly improve the family’s lot beyond the realm of rent.
Figuring they might actually be better off without Mom — but with an insurance settlement — the sisters hash out potential matricidal scenarios with best friends Justin (Jeffrey Ballard) and Ashley (Zoe Belkin), though whispers quickly spread beyond that close circle. Nonetheless, the real-life figures (whose names aren’t used here, since they were still minors when convicted) managed to pass the deed off as an accidental death for a time. They remain controversial figures in Canada, since they were incarcerated for only a few years each and subsequently attended universities on scholarship.
The unimaginative telepic tenor is varied — but not improved — by broad bits in which Sorvino plays various caricatured “ideal” mother figures. Mixing the heroines’ puerile fantasies with their much-less-than-ideal reality is a potentially interesting idea, but “Perfect Sisters” is no “Heavenly Creatures,” to say the least. Nor does the cliched dialogue or just-OK cast (in which Henley comes closest to creating a rounded character) help ground disturbing events in a credible everyday milieu a la “Razor’s Edge” and other fact-inspired tales of teen homicide. Still, the pic somewhat improves in its last third, when the deed is done and the girls prove very poorly equipped to keep their secret.
Shot in Winnipeg (the actual events took place in Mississauga, Ontario), the pic is competent but rather flavorless in all tech/design departments.
Directed by: Stanley M. Brooks
Starring: Abigail Breslin, Georgie Henley, Mira Sorvino, James Russo, Rusty Schwimmer, Zoë Belkin, Jeffrey Ballard, Sarah Constible
Screenplay by: Fab Filippo
Production Design by: Gordon Wilding
Cinematography by: Stéphanie Anne, Weber Biron
Film Editing by: Robin Katz
Costume Design by: Noreen Landry
Art Direction by: Scott Rossell
Music by: Carmen Rizzo
MPAA Rating: None.
Studio: Gravitas Ventures
Release Date: April 11, 2014
F-list actress Gina Carano stars as Ava, a trained fighter with a dark past in the movie In The Blood.
When her new husband (fellow F-lister Cam Gigandet) vanishes during their Caribbean honeymoon, Ava uncovers a violent underworld of conspiracy in the middle of an island paradise. Armed with a deadly set of skills, Ava sets out to discover the truth – and to take down the men she thinks are responsible for his abduction, one by one.
The movie In The Blood gets a very limited theatrical release (second and third run cinemas) the same day that it debuts on Video On Demand.
Film Review: In the Blood
I’ll be honest about this film, I am NOT a big action film fan nor do I like ultra-violent films. In the Blood is clearly BOTH of these— especially the latter. The amazing thing is that although the violence made me cringe, it was also a movie that kept me glued to the screen…and my adrenalin pumping!
The film stars Gina Carano and if you’ve never heard of Miss Carano, I wouldn’t be surprised. She’s only done a few films, though she is famous…as an MMA and Muay Thai fighter!! And, as you’d expect from a woman with such training, her skills are INSANELY good. Heck, she seems tougher and more capable than all the male action stars of the genre—and she makes it all look so real! By comparison, films by Van Damme and Steven Seagal look like kids’ films!!! I also love Carano because although she is pretty, she’s NOT the Hollywood type. She has real curves and looks like she’s NOT the product of plastic surgery and bulimia!!
The film is set on some fictional Spanish-speaking Caribbean nation or, perhaps, they intend it to be the Dominican Republic (there are three Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean—and it’s not Cuba and they said it wasn’t Puerto Rico in the movie*)—they never say. Regardless, the place is corrupt…very, very, very corrupt.
It’s so corrupt that when an American tourist is kidnapped (or possibly killed), those responsible for it pay EVERYONE to pretend it never happened—even the cops! So, this leaves Ana (Carano) all alone in a hostile country where practically no one seems able or willing to help. The neat thing about the film is that it is wonderful at misdirection. It’s a very smart film as again and again I was surprised by who was behind all this and why. And, how it all ends is simply impossible to anticipate**.
Overall, this is a super-high action film with an amazing heroine—one that doesn’t stand around waiting to be saved by a man—and I love that. Carano plays the real thing—and action hero in every sense of the word— and a darn scary one!!
So do I recommend the film? Well, I don’t know. Its violence level is off the charts and it’s certainly NOT a film for the kids, your mother or Father Flannigan! Plus, even if you THINK you like action films, you might just find this one too intense, bloody and violent. Often, Ana kills—much like Sonny Chiba did in his Street Fighter films. But aside from the violence, it’s an exceptional film all around. Heck, even NOW after the movie’s been over for some time, my heart is STILL pounding… it’s that intense and that well made.
*They said the film is NOT set in Puerto Rico and talked about how they can escape to the nearby island of Puerto Rico. But, in reality, the film was actually made in Puerto Rico. I don’t know what this will do for tourism!
**If you SERIOUSLY anticipated all the twists, turns and surprises in this film, drop me a line. You are DEFINITELY psychic and I want to talk to you about the Florida Lottery.
In the Blood
Directed by: John Stockwell
Starring: Gina Carano, Cam Gigandet, Danny Trejo, Luis Guzmán, Stephen Lang, Eloise Mumford, Yvette Yates, Hannah Cowley
Screenplay by: James Robert Johnston, Bennett Yellin
Production Design by: Monica Monserrate
Cinematography by: Pedro Juan López
Film Editing by: Lucas Eskin, Doug Walker
Costume Design by: Milagros Núñez
Set Decoration by: Carmen Marie Colon Mejia
Music by: Paul Haslinger
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and language.
Studio: Anchor Bay Films
Release Date: April 4, 2014
Taglines: Survival. Resilience. Redemption.
Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie directs and produces Unbroken, an epic drama that follows the incredible life of Olympian and war hero Louis Louie Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII-only to be caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.
Adapted from Laura Hillenbrand’s (Seabiscuit: An American Legend) enormously popular book, Unbroken brings to the big screen Zamperini’s unbelievable and inspiring true story about the resilient power of the human spirit.
Starring alongside O’Connell are Domhnall Gleeson and Finn Wittrock as Phil and Mac-the airmen with whom Zamperini endured perilous weeks adrift in the open Pacific-Garrett Hedlund and John Magaro as fellow POWs who find an unexpected camaraderie during their internment, Alex Russell as Zamperini’s brother, Pete, and in his English-language feature debut, Japanese actor Miyavi as the brutal camp guard known only to the men as The Bird.
Unbroken is an American historical biographic war-sports drama film, produced and directed by Angelina Jolie, and based on the 2010 non-fiction book by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. The film revolves around the life of USA Olympian and athlete Louis “Louie” Zamperini, portrayed by Jack O’Connell. Zamperini survived in a raft for 47 days after his bomber was downed in World War II, then was sent to a series of prisoner of war camps.
The film had its world premiere in Sydney on November 17, 2014, and received a wide release in the United States on December 25, 2014. The film grossed $115.6 million in North America, with a worldwide total of over $161 million.
Directed by: Angelina Jolie
Starring: Finn Wittrock, Jai Courtney, Domhnall Gleeson, Jack O’Connell, Morgan Griffin, Maddalena Ischiale
Screenplay by: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Production Design by: Jon Hutman
Cinematography by: Roger Deakins
Film Editing by: William Goldenberg, Tim Squyres
Costume Design by: Louise Frogley
Set Decoration by: Lisa Thompson
Art Direction by: Bill Booth, Jacinta Leong, Charlie Revai
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for war violence including intense sequences of brutality, and for brief language.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: December 25, 2014
Taglines: The Defining Chapter.
Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield, and his Company of Dwarves have unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world. Enraged, Smaug rains his wrath down upon the men, women, and children of Lake-town. Meanwhile, unseen by almost everyone but the wizard Gandalf, the enemy Sauron has returned to Middle-earth and has sent forth legions of Orcs in an attack upon the Lonely Mountain.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is an epic fantasy adventure film, directed by Peter Jackson and written by Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Guillermo del Toro. It is the third and final installment in Peter Jackson’s three-part film adaptation based on the novel The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, following An Unexpected Journey (2012) and The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and together they act as a prequel to Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Produced by New Line Cinema, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and WingNut Films, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, The Battle of the Five Armies was released on 11 December 2014 in New Zealand, 12 December 2014 in the United Kingdom and on 17 December 2014 in the United States. It stars Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Stott and James Nesbitt. It also features Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving and Orlando Bloom.
About the Story
Bilbo and the Dwarves watch from the Lonely Mountain as the dragon Smaug attacks Laketown. Bard the Bowman manages to break out of prison, fights Smaug, and eventually kills him with the black arrow given to him by his son Bain. Smaug’s falling body crushes the fleeing Master of Laketown, along with his cronies, who were escaping Laketown on a boat with the town’s gold.
Bard becomes the new leader of the Laketown people as they seek refuge in the ruins of Dale, while Legolas travels to investigate Mount Gundabad with Tauriel. Thorin, now struck with “dragon sickness”, searches obsessively for the Arkenstone, which was stolen earlier from Smaug by Bilbo. Bilbo learns from Balin that it would be best if the Arkenstone remained hidden from Thorin, who orders the entrance of the Lonely Mountain to be sealed off.
Meanwhile, Galadriel, Elrond and Saruman arrive at Dol Guldur and free Gandalf, sending him to safety with Radagast. They battle and defeat the Nazgûl and Sauron himself, banishing them to the East. Azog, marching on Erebor with his vast Orc army, sends Bolg to Gundabad to summon their second army. Legolas and Tauriel witness the march of Bolg’s army, bolstered by Orc Berserkers and giant bats.
While Bard and the Laketown survivors shelter in Dale, Thranduil arrives with an elf army, supplies and aid, and forms an alliance with Bard, wishing to claim an elven necklace of white gems from the Mountain. Bard attempts to negotiate and reason with Thorin to avoid war, but the dwarf refuses to cooperate. After Gandalf arrives at Dale to warn Bard and Thranduil of the Orc army on the way, Bilbo sneaks out of Erebor to hand the Arkenstone over to Thranduil and Bard.
When Bard and Thranduil’s armies gather at the gates of Erebor, offering to trade the Arkenstone for Thranduil’s gems and Laketown’s share of the gold, Thorin nearly kills Bilbo in a furious rage. After Gandalf forces Thorin to release Bilbo, the arrival of Thorin’s cousin Dáin with his Dwarf army worsens matters. A battle of Dwarves against Elves and Men is imminent, when Wereworms emerge from the ground releasing Azog’s army from their tunnels. With the Orcs outnumbering Dáin’s army, Thranduil and Bard’s forces, along with Gandalf and Bilbo, join the battle as some of the Orcs, Ogres, and Trolls attack Dale.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom
Screenplay by: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro
Production Design by: Dan Hennah
Cinematography by: Andrew Lesnie
Film Editing by: Jabez Olssen
Costume Design by: Bob Buck, Lesley Burkes-Harding, Ann Maskrey
Set Decoration by: Simon Bright, Ra Vincent
Art Direction by: Simon Bright, Andy McLaren
Music by: Howard Shore
Studio: New Line Cinema
Release Date: December 17, 2014
Taglines: Fire burns brighter in the darkness.
Katniss Everdeen finds herself in District 13 after she literally shatters the Games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage.
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about movies of the year.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is an American science fiction adventure film directed by Francis Lawrence with a screenplay by Peter Craig and Danny Strong. It is the first of two cinematic parts based on the novel Mockingjay, the final book in The Hunger Games trilogy, written by Suzanne Collins, and the third installment in The Hunger Games film series, produced by Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik and distributed by Lionsgate Films.
Our Leader The Mockingjay
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is the highly-anticipated third installment of the blockbuster phenomenon that blazed across movie screens around the globe. The story now accelerates to new, exhilarating levels as the futuristic chronicle of Katniss Everdeen enters into a new realm. The Games may have been obliterated for good, but the fight to survive is about to intensify. Faced with the most daunting odds – and watched by the eyes of a hopeful nation – Katniss must put into motion courage, strength and empowerment against the all-powerful Capitol. This is the moment when she realizes she has no choice but to open her wings and fully embody the Mockingjay symbol. If only to save Peeta, she must become a leader.
The story begins again as Katniss has just been rescued from the destruction of the Quarter Quell. She awakens in a shocking world she didn’t even know existed: the deep, dark underground of supposedly annihilated District 13. She quickly learns of the devastating reality she must face: District 12 has been turned to rubble; and Peeta is being held, manipulated and brainwashed by President Snow in The Capitol. At the same time, Katniss’s eyes are opened to a secret rebellion rapidly spreading from District 13 throughout all of Panem – a rebellion that will place her at the center of a daring plot to hack into The Capitol and turn the tables on President Snow.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 dives further into the fabric of Panem and into the story’s most powerful emotions as Katniss and the nation enter a harrowing but transformative time. Explains returning director Francis Lawrence: “Emotionally, Katniss is like a foreigner in a strange land as this story begins. This is the time when she realizes she can’t stand by and do nothing. There has been too much deception and the people Katniss loves are in danger. She will do whatever it takes to keep them safe.”
The director continues: “The stakes have always been high in The Hunger Games but now the entire world opens up. The Games themselves are gone, but threat of oppression now permeates all of Panem. This chapter gave us a chance to reveal entirely new locations with amazing action sequences. It’s a gigantic movie.”
In her third and most poignant turn as Katniss, Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence relished the chance to portray the character at this heightened juncture as she emerges from distress to take her first steps into leadership. “I was excited for Katniss to come into her own as a leader, but she’s still a very reluctant hero,” Lawrence observes. “In the first movie she wanted to save her family. In the second, she tried to save her friends and herself. Now, she starts to realize the impact she has on the wider world and that she has a choice to lead this battle for what is right.”
That choice does not come easily for Katniss, who recoils at nearly every element of her new life: the militaristic order of District 13, the pressure to perform on cue, and the heart-wrenching reality of war. Katniss remains hopeful that becoming the Mockingjay might truly change things. “As an actor, the challenge was having Katniss wake up in a brand new environment, where she has to rebuild herself from nothing. Katniss has not only left behind her old life as a District 12 victor, she has entered a world unlike any other. Says Lawrence: “She has to get used to a new way of life in District 13. Everything is deeply unfamiliar and it’s all underground, so she can’t even go outside or hunt.”
Lawrence continues about approaching Katniss: “She felt almost like an entirely different character because she is so stripped down and feeling so empty. It’s something that truly does happen to people after traumatic events like she’s been through. Katniss still has the same core, but she’s in a completely different place inside and out.”
As Katniss takes on the public role of the Mockingjay, she is asked by President Coin [Julianne Moore] to appear in a series of “propos” – viral propaganda videos that District 13 uses to communicate with and inspire rebels across Panem.
“She goes into the propos feeling like a pawn, like the Mockingjay is just a symbol she’s not connected to or passionate about,” Lawrence says. “The whole idea of the propos is to get people fired up, to band together – so Katniss faking at being something that she’s not doesn’t work. It’s only when she sees the human cost in District 8 that a true spark is ignited. The more she sees, the more it becomes a personal fight for her.”
Lawrence was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Julianne Moore in the role of President Coin. “When I heard she was going to play Coin, it was the most exciting, unbelievable news in the world. I think Julianne is one of the greatest actresses of all time, just absolutely phenomenal. She was even more impressive in person. She is such a sweet family woman and also hilarious. Working with her was a dream come true.”
While Lawrence and Moore got along, their characters have a cool tension between them. “Their relationship is complicated. They share similar ideals, but with all she’s been through, Katniss feels she cannot fully trust her,” Lawrence comments. “President Coin can see how important Katniss is to leading this rebellion, but she also doesn’t believe Katniss can actually do it. She’s still suffering from post-traumatic stress and President Coin is skeptical that using Katniss is something that she can actually control.”
Also rewarding to Lawrence was the chance for deeper interaction with Liam Hemsworth as Gale, who remains Katniss’s devoted friend and strongest link to her past. “Katniss and Gale have such a rich history,” she acknowledges. “There are so many complexities to it because before Katniss went into the Games, Gale was the only person who really understood her. Following the games, she and Peeta had this experience together that no one else, including Gale, could ever understand. She and Gale are in a very interesting place and it was nice to explore more of that.”
For Francis, one of the highlights of the entire Hunger Games series has been watching Jennifer take Katniss through a vast range of experiences, each one internalized into a character who is now thick with many layers. “It’s incredibly complex to track somebody who is going through so much emotionally,” he says. “Katniss has incurred a lot of damage, and now here she is trying to figure out where she stands in the world, whether or not she trusts the people in District 13, and whether she wants the responsibility of becoming a part of the rebellion. Jen has done the most amazing job with every nuance.”
In thinking about Katniss and reflecting on one of her favorite scenes, producer Nina Jacobson notes: “When Katniss goes to District 8 and says, ‘If we burn, you burn with us,’ for the first time she sees the impact that she has on people. Those moments – where Katniss owns what and who she is – really give me the chills.”
Jacobson says the films biggest astonishment may be how emotionally resonant it is – not just because the story is entering a time of war, with all its accompanying sorrow for the lost and hopes for the future, but because it is also a time when Katniss must change faster than ever. “It’s a very tense and powerful story and the emotions on screen are surprisingly deep,” concludes the producer. “It takes you to places you will not expect to be taken. It’s provocative, thoughtful and up to the last minutes of the film, the way it unfolds is shocking.”
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is such a fantastic epic,” she summarizes. “This part of the story is important to tell — about how powerful a person’s voice can be. It is always easier to follow the person in front of you, but I think we all have a Mockingjay in us. We all have the ability to make a stand and do the right thing.”
District 13 vs. The Capitol
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 reveals for the first time the most covert place in all of Panem: secretive District 13, where Panem’s rebels have carved out their own rigidly ordered society miles underground.
District 13 and The Capitol are mirror opposites in every way. The Capitol is sensationalist spectacles, over-the-top garish hues and gleaming lights. District 13 is steeped in shades of gray, claustrophobia, conformity and the stark reality of what’s happening in the Districts. While The Capitol has been living high on the hog off the people, District 13 has been biding its time, preparing for the day when they would finally take a stand.
Up until now, only The Capitol knew about District 13, having carved out a non-aggression treaty that allowed it to exist so long as it stayed underground. As rumblings of war begin in earnest, District 13 and The Capitol are pitted against each other in a battle of images designed to win support – and key to it all is the ultimate District 13 symbol and foe of The Capitol: the Mockingjay.
Francis notes that the history of District 13 makes it unique even in dystopian Panem. “What we discover is that 13 was bombed in the Dark Days 75 years earlier. It was a graphite mine with old nuclear facilities. There were survivors, and instead of giving up, they moved underground and created an alternative civilization outside The Capitol, hidden from view. They’ve created a very ordered, militarized civilization, where people are trained as soldiers from a very early age. All this time, they’ve been waiting for a rebellion to start so they could take back The Capitol.”
Creating this clash of two cultures – and dueling visions for the future of Panem – was one of the biggest and most exhilarating tasks of the film. “There’s really nothing in this movie that you’ve seen before of Panem,” notes producer Jon Kilik. “You’re immersed into District 13 – the one place no one outside has seen, the place no one except The Capitol even knew still existed. It’s a whole new journey for the audience. We’ve been through jungles and plagues in the Games but now to be living miles underground, things are even more intense and it puts an even greater pressure on the characters. It was also an incredible design challenge, and the result is a tribute to the skills of Francis Lawrence and our production designer Phil Messina.”
Katniss might not much like District 13, but she is their long-awaited ideal of a people’s hero, someone who isn’t in it for glory but is motivated by her own pure sense of right and wrong. “She is a simple girl from the lowest of the Districts, so the message of District 13 is that if she can stand up to The Capitol, anybody can do it,” Francis explains. “That’s why they want to use her in the propos. The hope is that if she stirs enough people up and all the Districts begin to unify; they could actually defeat The Capitol.
The Unseen Panem: Design
Bringing District 13 to life – and giving audiences glimpses into the turmoil catching like fire across Panem was one of the most intriguing tasks faced by Francis and his design team, headed by production designer Phil Messina, who also designed The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. The two envisioned taking the scale of the third film beyond anything they had done while relying largely on real locations rather than digital ones. In addition to shooting on soundstages in Atlanta the production went further afield to luxury chateaus and apartment complexes in Paris.
Messina began by turning Suzanne Collins’ flights of imagination into a detailed vision of District 13. He illustrated a series of shadowy, claustrophobic, bunker-style sets for this brave new world amid the rubble. A combination of factory locations and intricate soundstage sets produced the final results. “Our inspiration for the design came from 1960s and 1970s nuclear facilities,” he explains. “The idea is that District 13 has developed as a kind of closed-loop society. They have been completely cut off from The Capitol, so they’ve been adding on new technology on top of old technology. You will see analog push buttons next to high tech – and that mix was very intentional on our part.”
The set designs for District 13 were as desolate as the designs for The Capitol were lavish, transporting the actors into this very raw, austere reality. Says Julianne Moore: “It was rendered so incredibly beautifully. It made me think of what you imagine East Germany was like before the wall came down – very militaristic, really grey with people waiting for the moment of change.”
The underground city is laid out as a kind of multi-level maze that culminates in President Coin’s Command Center. “The Command Center is the brains of the entire operation where all the systems like water, oxygen and power are controlled. We organized it like a military hierarchy where above it all, Coin is at her post kind of overlooking everything,” Messina explains.
Another highlight of District 13’s design is purloined hovercrafts. “We liked the idea that the rebel hovercrafts would be an older generation of The Capitol hovercrafts, maybe something they had stolen previously. We had already seen a Capitol hovercraft previously so it was fun to generate something that was its antecedent and has a lot more texture,” says Messina. “The aesthetic was taken from WWII Russian planes, as well as some submarines and helicopters for cockpit configurations.”
The hovercrafts were hung off of huge cranes to simulate flight. “When we first started designing pieces of the hovercraft, we thought how much fun it would be to fly. It took a lot of calculations to make sure the crane would be safe. The Atlanta special effects department built a steel structure that they were confident about. It had to be rehung at different places and it was a huge pain,” laughs Messina, “but it really paid off with some fantastic footage that looks like a real craft landing from the inside.”
The idea was to use as many practical locations as possible. “Our practical locations give the movie a sense of scope and at the same time a groundedness so that it feels like it readily could be our future,” says Nina Jacobson. “If you tried to do that purely through digital magic you couldn’t get that sense of authenticity we wanted, where you see a real hovercraft land and your characters get out of it and interact with a real environment.” The actors also loved the sense of immersion. “Using locations that were so grounded in a sense of reality only made things that much more truthful,” says Ali.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 also hones in on the other Districts as unrest grows. “We wanted to show the consequences of Katniss joining the rebellion and how the propos start to inspire people in different Districts. So you see the lumber District start to rebel by propelling up trees and then you see the hydroelectric dam getting blown up in an extraordinary sequence. I think like you’re really able to see things in the Districts we haven’t seen before but in a way that is always connected to Katniss,” Jacobson comments.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Robert Knepper
Screenplay by: Danny Strong, Peter Craig
Production Design by: Philip Messina
Cinematography by: Jo Willems
Film Editing by: Alan Edward Bell, Mark Yoshikawa
Costume Design by: Kurt and Bart
Set Decoration by: Emmanuel Delis, Mark Rosinski
Music by: James Newton Howard
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images and thematic material.
Studio: Lionsgate Films
Release Date: November 21, 2014
Taglines: Don’t set him off.
When a retired hit man is forced back into action by a brutal Russian mobster, he hunts down his adversaries with the ruthlessness that made him a crime underworld legend in John Wick, a stylish tale of revenge and redemption set in a brilliantly imagined New York City and starring World Stunt Award-winner Keanu Reeves.
After the sudden death of his beloved wife, John Wick (Reeves) receives one last gift from her, a beagle puppy named Daisy, and a note imploring him not to forget how to love. But John’s mourning is interrupted when his 1969 Boss Mustang catches the eye of sadistic thug Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen). When John refuses to sell the car, Iosef and his henchmen break into his house and steal it, beating John unconscious and leaving Daisy dead. Unwittingly, they have just reawakened one of the most brutal assassins the underworld has ever seen.
John’s search for his stolen vehicle takes him to a side of New York City that tourists never see, a hyper-real, super-secret criminal community, where John Wick was once the baddest guy of all. After learning that his attacker is the only son of a former associate, vicious Russian crime boss Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), John turns his attention to vengeance. As word spreads that the legendary hit man is after his son, Viggo offers a generous bounty to anyone who can bring John down. With a veritable army on his trail, John once again becomes the remorseless killing machine the underworld once feared, launching a pitched battle against Viggo and his soldiers that could mean the end of them both.
About the Production
When producer Basil Iwanyk of Thunder Road Pictures first read Derek Kolstad’s original screenplay for John Wick, he found himself drawn to the contradictions and complications faced by its main character, a seemingly ordinary man who harbors an extraordinary secret.
“The tone of the script was subversive and really fun,” says Iwanyk. “It had a very clear emotional throughline and a great premise for an action movie. John Wick is the story of a man who loses his wife and has his home invaded, his car stolen and his dog killed. It’s a very human premise for a big action movie, something that could happen to anyone. To me, the holy grail of the action genre is to pair a very simple and very accessible premise like this with a hyper-real style, as we’ve done with this film.”
Kolstad found his inspiration in some of his favorite film-noir classics. “When I was a kid, I watched a lot of movies,” he explains. “My favorites always had a revenge motif. And I love the antihero. So I wanted to explore what would happen if the worst man in existence found salvation. Would it be true to his core? When the source of his salvation is ripped from him, what happens? Do the gates of Hades open?”
And so began the extraordinary journey of John Wick, the only man to ever walk away from a shadowy world of elite professional killers and survive, only to be sucked back in by fate. “John’s the kind of guy who walks into a room and has everything laid out in his mind like a chess game,” says Kolstad. “In the underworld, he’s a legend, and he’s been away long enough that the young up-and-comers have heard the name, but don’t necessarily believe all the stories.”
Given the character’s fabled career as an assassin, the filmmakers initially imagined an older actor in the role. “Instead, we decided to look for someone who is not literally older, but who has a seasoned history in the film world,” says Iwanyk. “Keanu Reeves is someone I’ve always wanted to work with.”
Reeves’ impeccable action pedigree, which includes the groundbreaking Matrix trilogy, two chapters of the blockbuster Speed franchise and the daredevil adventure Point Break, has justifiably earned him iconic status in the action world. But for the past five years, Reeves has been devoting most of his time to his directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi.
“So audiences haven’t seen much of him,” notes Iwanyk. “We thought that gave him a fresh and interesting edge. I think the audience will believe that this character has been retired for five years, because in some ways Keanu retired as an action star for a while.”
Reeves signed on to headline John Wick, working closely with the writer to refine the story. “Basil and Peter Lawson of Thunder Road brought the script to me with the idea that I would be a part of such a great collaboration,” the actor says. “We all agreed on the potential of the project. I love the role, but you want the whole story, the whole ensemble to come to life.”
Kolstad says there was no “star temperament” working with Reeves. “What I really like about Keanu is that he’s a normal, laidback guy,” he says. “He’s incredibly bright and such a hard worker. We spent as much time developing the other characters as we did his. He recognizes that the strength of the storyline lies in even the smallest details.”
Looking to infuse the film with innovative action sequences that would set it apart from the pack, Reeves contacted the filmmaking team of Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, co-founders of 87Eleven, one of Hollywood’s most elite stunt groups. Reeves and Stahelski originally met on the set of The Matrix and Stahelski eventually became the actor’s stunt double. Together with longtime friend Leitch, Stahelski has worked on dozens of high-profile action films, and the pair are now two of the most in-demand second-unit directors in Hollywood.
Approached to design and film the blistering action scenes of John Wick, Stahelski surprised the producers by asking if he could pitch his ideas as director. After years at the top of his profession, he was ready to transition to the next level, with his longtime collaborator Leitch on hand to produce. When this screenplay landed on his desk, he knew it was time to grab the opportunity.
“It had gun fights, knife work, car chases and lots of hand-to-hand combat,” says Stahelski. “Dave and I talked about the potential to make a great graphic-novel-influenced action movie set in an almost mythical world. We pitched Keanu, Basil and the guys at Thunder Road the idea of John Wick as an urban legend, a thriller assassin movie with a realistic vibe and an otherworldly setting.”
Reeves was already confident the duo had the skill and creativity to stage John Wick’s groundbreaking action sequences better than anyone else. “Hearing Chad speak about the material and how he thought he could visually bring it to life was revelatory,”
Reeves says. “He and Dave were interested in making each character unforgettable. They had given thought to the themes of the movie, the double life, the hyper-reality. They’ve been closely following the film since day one and trying to bring out all the emotion that is in this piece.”
As a filmmaking team, Stahelski and Leitch were the ideal choice for John Wick, according to Reeves. “Chad and Dave are experts in terms of this genre,” the actor notes. “The dialogue is hard-boiled but it’s also got the humor of graphic novels, the kind of amazingly original imagery and framing that we’ve come to associate with them. It’s a unique vision. I thought it was exciting and really cool to see all of these influences and experience and craft come together.”
Iwanyk was immediately sold on Stahelski and Leitch’s approach to the film. “Their take for the movie and their visual presentation were so in line with what we were thinking the movie should be,” says the producer. “Everything from the color palette to the way in which the action should be staged and shot to the lookbook just felt right.”
Directed by: David Leitch, Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Bridget Moynahan
Screenplay by: Derek Kolstad
Production Design by: Dan Leigh
Cinematography by: Jonathan Sela
Film Editing by: Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir
Costume Design by: Luca Mosca
Set Decoration by: Susan Bode
Music by: Tyler Bates, Joel J. Richard
MPAA Rating: R for strong and bloody violence throughout, language and brief drug use.
Studio: Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate Films
Release Date: October 24, 2014
Taglines: Connection takes courage.
A young woman joins the military to be part of something bigger than herself and her small town roots. But she ends up as a new guard at Guantanamo Bay instead, where her mission is far from black and white. Surrounded by hostile jihadists and aggressive squadmates, she strikes up an unusual friendship with one of the detainees. A story of two people, on opposite sides of a war, struggling to find their way through the ethical quagmire of Guantanamo Bay. And in the process, they form an unlikely bond that changes them both.
Camp X-Ray is an American independent drama film based on the temporary detention facility Camp X-Ray at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The film is the directorial debut of Peter Sattler who also wrote the screenplay. It stars Kristen Stewart and Peyman Moaadi with John Carroll Lynch, Lane Garrison, and Joseph Julian Soria in supporting roles. The film premiered on January 17, 2014 at 2014 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. dramatic competition category and released on October 17, 2014 by IFC Films.
On February 6, 2014, IFC Films announced their acquisition of the North American rights to the film. Shooting Stars LLC acquired the rights to distribute the film in the United Arab Emirates. EDGE Entertainment will distribute Camp X-Ray in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. The film will also be distributed in Lebanon and Iraq with an October 30, 2014 release date.
Production for Camp X-Ray took place in Los Angeles and Whittier, California. Principal photography began on July 17, 2013 and ended in mid-August. The location used for filming the prison scenes was the abandoned Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility in Whittier, California.
Directed by: Peter Sattler
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Peyman Moaadi, John Carroll Lynch, Lane Garrison, Joseph Julian Soria, Cory Michael Smith
Screenplay by: Peter Sattler
Production Design by: Richard A. Wright
Cinematography by: James Laxton
Film Editing by: Geraud Brisson
Costume Design by: Christie Wittenborn
Set Decoration by: Adam Willis
Art Direction by: Joshua Locy
Music by: Jess Stroup
MPAA Rating: R for language and brief nude images.
Studio: IFC Films
Release Date: October 17, 2014
Taglines: The End of the World has only just begun.
Left Behind follows Rayford Steele (Nicolas Cage) who is piloting a commercial airliner just hours after the Rapture when millions of people around the globe simply vanish. Thirty thousand feet over the Atlantic, Rayford is faced with a damaged plane, terrified passengers, and a desperate desire to get back to his family. On the ground, his daughter, Chloe Steele (Cassi Thomson) is among those left behind, forced to navigate a world of madness as she searches for her lost mother and brother.
Left Behind is an American apocalyptic thriller film directed by Vic Armstrong and written by Paul LaLonde and John Patus. The film is based on the novel of the same name written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, and is a reboot of Left Behind: The Movie. The film was released on October 3, 2014 and was panned by critics.
About the Story
University of Central Arkansas student Chloe Steele has flown in from college to surprise her father, pilot Rayford Steele, for his birthday party. Her mother Irene Steele quickly calls to inform her, however, that her father cannot make it. While at the airport waiting for him, Chloe meets up with investigative reporter Cameron “Buck” Williams.
Rayford shows up on his way to a flight and apologizes to Chloe for missing her birthday party, insisting he was called in to pilot a flight to London at the last minute. He also assures Chloe things are fine between himself and his wife, who recently had become an active believing Christian, much to Chloe’s disgust.
Chloe suspects things are not fine between her father and mother – she had seen him flirting with flight attendant Hattie Durham and notices he has removed his wedding ring. Her suspicions soon are confirmed when an airport worker hands Chloe two hard-to-get theater tickets in London that Rayford had ordered, indicating his trip to London and possible extramarital fling was planned all along.
Chloe brushes off another one of her mother’s preachings about Christianity and takes her brother to the mall. While there, her brother suddenly vanishes, leaving only his clothes behind. Chloe is shocked and notices this same thing has happened to numerous others at the mall. Mayhem breaks loose as shoppers begin looting the stores. A driver-less car plows through the mall windows, and a small plane without a pilot crashes in the mall parking lot. Chloe sees television reports of children and some adults disappearing, as worldwide panic sets in.
On Rayford’s flight, the same strange event has occurred – several people, including his co-pilot Chris Smith, Kimmy, one of the flight attendants, and all the children on board, have simply disappeared, leaving their clothing and personal effects behind. The remaining passengers panic and demand answers. Rayford does his best to reassure the passengers he will pass on information once he has any. Rayford has difficulty getting radio or satellite phone contact with anyone on the ground, until he is finally informed that people have disappeared everywhere and the world is in uproar. Soon a pilot-less jet approaches directly into Rayford’s flight path. He narrowly avoids a midair collision but the jet damages Rayford’s fuel line. He decides his only option is to return to New York and hope his fuel holds out.
On the ground, Chloe hears her father’s Mayday call on her cell phone and assumes his plane has crashed. She later finds her mother’s jewelry left behind in the shower, as she has also disappeared. Chloe makes her way to New Hope Church to discover the family pastor Bruce Barnes who explains God has taken his believers to heaven, and the rest have to face the end of days. The pastor explains he was not taken because he didn’t really believe what he had preached. Rayford comes to the same conclusion by examining his copilot and stewardess’ personal effects. He tells Hattie the truth about his wife. She is initially upset as she didn’t know he was married, but Rayford convinces her to be brave and to help calm the passengers down until they can safely land.
Directed by: Vic Armstrong
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Cassi Thomson, Chad Michael Murray, Lea Thompson, Nicky Whelan, Martin Klebba, Jordin Sparks, Stephanie Honoré, Laura Cayouette, Ashton Leigh
Screenplay by: Paul LaLonde, John Patus
Production Design by: Stephen Altman
Cinematography by: Jack N. Green
Film Editing by: Michael J. Duthie
Set Decoration by: Barbara Haberecht
Art Direction by: Jeremy Woolsey
Music by: Jack Lenz
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some thematic elements, violence/peril and brief drug content.
Studio: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Release Date: October 3, 2014
Taglines: What do you see when you look at me?
In The Equalizer, Denzel Washington plays McCall, a former black ops commando who has faked his death to live a quiet life in Boston. When he comes out of his self-imposed retirement to rescue a young girl, Teri (Chloe Moretz), he finds himself face to face with ultra-violent Russian gangsters. As he serves vengeance against those who brutalize the helpless, McCall’s desire for justice is reawakened. If someone has a problem, the odds are stacked against them, and they have nowhere else to turn, McCall will help. He is The Equalizer.
The Equalizer is an American thriller film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by Richard Wenk, based on the television series of the same name. The film stars Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Melissa Leo, Haley Bennett, and Bill Pullman.
Principal photography began in June 2013 on location and took place in different cities of Massachusetts. This was the first film to have Village Roadshow Pictures co-finance the deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment since Saving Silverman in 2001. The film was premiered at 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2014, and released worldwide on September 26.
About the Story
Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is a retired black ops government operative who lives in Boston, Massachusetts and works at a Home Mart hardware store, where he befriends many of his co-workers and also tries to help a security guard trainee named Ralphie pass his qualification exam. McCall has promised his recently deceased wife that he’d leave his old life behind, but is compelled to act after his teenage friend Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz) whose real name is Alina, was seen being mistreated by her pimp. Alina’s life was destroyed at the age of five or six when she was a victim of sex trafficking by the Russian Mafia and then became their sex slave and forced into prostitution.
Robert vows to save her after she is hospitalized after being brutally beaten by her pimp, Slavi (David Meunier). McCall enters a restaurant owned by the Russian mob and tries to convince Slavi to release Alina by paying him $9800, but Slavi refuses. McCall pretends to walk away, but turns back and takes out Slavi and his men with their own weapons, removing the footage from all the security cameras.
In retaliation, Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich) sends his enforcer Teddy (Marton Csokas) to Boston to find and eliminate the culprit. Meanwhile, Ralph withdraws his application for being a security guard at Home Mart to help out his mother at his family restaurant, which was set on fire by corrupt policemen as an act of extortion. McCall confronts the corrupt policemen and forces them to pay back all the money they have gotten through extortion. Ralph passes his test and becomes a security guard at Home Mart.
Teddy determines McCall is the culprit; surprised by his skills, Teddy tries to capture him to use those skills instead of killing him. McCall, however, outsmarts his pursuers and escapes, while completing more acts of vigilantism. McCall visits fellow retired operatives Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo) and Brian Plummer (Bill Pullman) in Virginia, who help him acquire intelligence on Pushkin’s activities. It is revealed that Teddy is ex-Spetnaz, and that his real name is Nikolai. After McCall leaves, Susan remarks to Brian that McCall was not actually looking for help, but was actually asking for permission.
McCall then captures Frank Masters (David Harbour), a corrupt Boston policeman who has been aiding Teddy, by trapping him in his car and threatening to flood the vehicle with carbon monoxide. Frank relents and helps McCall destroy one of Pushkin’s money laundering operations in Boston. Later, McCall confronts Teddy at dinner; McCall pledges to bring Pushkin’s empire down, and soon destroys a container ship used by Pushkin to smuggle goods. Unsatisfied with Teddy’s lack of progress and his increasing monetary losses, Pushkin warns Teddy he can either kill McCall or not come home to Moscow.
In retaliation, Teddy and his men attack Home Mart and take Ralph and the workers of Home Mart hostage, threatening to kill them if he does not surrender. McCall enters the store and disables most of the lighting, tells Ralph to get the hostages to safety, and then kills Teddy’s henchmen one by one. After a struggle between McCall and one of Teddy’s men, Ralph comes back to help McCall, but is shot in the leg. McCall tells Ralph to turn on the electricity after an exact time of 40 seconds. McCall sets up a number of chemicals in a microwave; the electricity turns it on, causing an explosion that kills the last of Teddy’s men. McCall finally kills Teddy with a nail gun.
Directed by: Scott Frank
Starring: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Haley Bennett, Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo
Screenplay by: Richard Wenk
Production Design by: Naomi Shohan
Cinematography by: Mauro Fiore
Film Editing by: John Refoua
Costume Design by: David C. Robinson
Set Decoration by: Leslie E. Rollins
Music by: Harry Gregson-Williams
Studio: for strong bloody violence and language throughout, including some sexual references.
Studio: Sony Pictures
Release Date: September 26, 2014
The story follows a boy named Thomas who wakes up in a strange place called the Glade with no memory aside from his first name. The Glade is an enclosed structure populated by other boys, and is surrounded by tall, stone walls that protect them from monsters called Grievers that live in the Maze, which surrounds the walls around the Glade.
Every day, some of the kids who are Runners venture into the labyrinth trying to map the ever-changing pattern of walls in an attempt to find an exit. As soon as Thomas arrives, unusual things begin to happen and the others grow suspicious of him. The Maze seems familiar to Thomas, but he’s unable to make sense of the place despite his extraordinary abilities as a Runner. When the first girl arrives in the Glade, she brings a message that she will be the last one to ever arrive in the Glade, as the end is near.
The Maze Runner is an American dystopian film based on James Dashner’s 2009 young adult novel of the same name. The film is the first installment in The Maze Runner film series and was directed by Wes Ball, with a screenplay by Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers, and T.S. Nowlin. The film stars Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, and Will Poulter.
About the Story
A boy wakes up inside a rusty elevator that was in the water for hours. When he arrives at the top, he is greeted by other boys in a grassy clearing called the Glade, which is surrounded by tall walls. The boy is unable to remember anything about himself, but Alby, the leader of the Glade, tells him that his condition is normal and that he would remember his name soon. He shows him the Glade and how it is run. The boy wonders what is beyond the opening in the wall adjacent to the Glade, but he is warned not to go through there, as it is a maze. The boy meets Chuck, and the two become friends.
There is a party that night to welcome the newest arrival. Every month, a new person and supplies come in the elevator. Newt, second in command and gardener, explains that the Maze is the only way out. The most able boys become Runners, who are the only ones allowed into the Maze. They search for an escape route during the day, but return before nightfall, as the Maze entrance closes at dusk, and no one has ever survived a night in the Maze. The boy ends up in a fight with a boy named Gally, during which he suddenly remembers his name: Thomas.
While Thomas is gathering supplies in the woods, he is viciously attacked by Ben, a Runner, who has been stung by a Griever – deadly monsters that lurk in the maze. The boys force Ben into the Maze to die. Minho, a runner, and Alby attempt to retrace Ben’s steps in the maze, but Alby is stung and rendered unconscious. Minho appears at dusk, dragging Alby, but is unable to reach the entrance in time. Seeing this, Thomas runs into the maze. Minho and Thomas survive the night, with Thomas successfully killing a Griever, and they return the next day with Alby to the astonishment of the other boys.
Gally, upset that the fragile peace between the boys and the Grievers may be in jeopardy, proposes punishing Thomas for entering the maze, though Newt overrules him and makes Thomas a Runner. Thomas accompanies Minho and a few others into the maze. They find the Griever’s corpse and remove a beeping mechanical part, discovering that it is numbered to correspond to a certain section in the maze. The first ever girl arrives in the elevator, who apparently recognizes Thomas. A note indicates that she is the final person that will be sent. The girl, named Teresa, carries two syringes filled with a mysterious substance. The Gladers use one on Alby, and he gradually recovers from his sting and starts to regain his memories.
The Maze Runner
Directed by: Wes Ball
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, Chris Sheffield, Patricia Clarkson
Screenplay by: Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers
Production Design by: Marc Fisichella
Cinematography by: Enrique Chediak
Film Editing by: Dan Zimmerman
Costume Design by: Christine Bieselin Clark, Simonetta Mariano
Set Decoration by: Jon Danniells
Music by: John Paesano
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images.
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: September 19, 2014