Category: Fantastic Movies

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

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The Hobbit; The Battle of Five Armies Movie

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.

The Hobbit; The Battle of Five Armies Movie

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 Five Armies Movie Poster

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

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

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.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 - Jennifer Lawrance

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 Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 - Jennifer Lawrance

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.”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

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.”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

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 Movie Poster

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

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The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner Movie

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.

The Maze Runner - Kaya Scodelario

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 Movie Poster

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

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The Giver

The Giver Movie

Taglines: Search for truth, find freedom.

THE GIVER tells the coming-of-age story of Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a young man raised in a seemingly utopian world where everyone appears to be happy. This sense of harmony is created by a strictly engineered existence where the community is deprived of the so-called burden of memories. They have no notion of suffering, hunger, or violence.

On the other hand, there’s no freedom, no choice and no individuality. Being treated with a regimented daily injection, the humans are genetically designed not to feel emotion or see color, and the scientifically-controlled environment prevents any visual distinctiveness that may stimulate sensation and alter the order of their seemingly utopian world. They live in sameness: identical homes, identical clothes, and an identical family structure. Family units in this unusual society each consist of a husband, a wife, and two children: one male and one female who are born to designated “birthmothers.”

Apart from a bright intelligence, and integrity, there is something slightly ‘different’ and exceptional about Jonas. At the Ceremony where youth is assigned their vocations, the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) selects Jonas to inherit the position of the community’s Receiver of Memories. In this, most-honored position in the community, he will become the keeper of ancient memories before the time of ‘Sameness’. Jonas enters into training with the current Receiver of Memories, known as the Giver (Jeff Bridges). The old man is kind, but weary as he carries the burden of memory.

The Giver is an American social science fiction film directed by Phillip Noyce and written by Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weide based on the 1993 novel of same name by Lois Lowry. The film stars Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgård, Odeya Rush, Katie Holmes, and Taylor Swift. It was released in the United States on August 15, 2014.

The Giver Movie

Development

Lois Lowry’s science-fiction novel The Giver has sold more than ten million copies worldwide and is Harper Collins’s top-selling children’s eBook. Today the ‘young adult’ fiction is assigned reading by middle schools throughout the United States and has assembled a massive fan base in the youth audience.

Co-producing partner Walden Media spent over a decade developing the project, and Chief Operating Officer, Frank Smith, says, “The Giver is the crown jewel of children’s literature, and we are proud to add this film to the list of other great book to film adaptations we have produced like Holes, Charlotte’s Web, Bridge to Terabithia, Because of Winn-Dixie, Romano, and The Chronicles of Narnia.”

The motion picture adaptation of THE GIVER represents the fulfillment of a twenty year-long dream for actor Jeff Bridges, who also serves as a producer on the production. “My daughters read the book, but before I had known that they had read the book, I was looking for some material in which to direct my father, Lloyd Bridges,” he recalls. “I also wanted to make a movie that my kids could watch at the time. I was looking through a catalogue of children books and I came across this wonderful cover of a book, with this old, grizzled kind of guy on the cover and thought, ‘Oh yeah, my dad can play that guy!'”

Bridges says that he was expecting to read a children’s book, “but on an adult level it worked so well, and I thought this was going to be a terrific project for my father to be involved in.” Bridges went as far as shooting, with his own video camera, an entire movie in which he directed his father in the character of The Giver, along with his nephew in the role of Jonas.

Together with his manager at the time, Neil Koenigsberg, Bridges spent a number of years trying to develop the project that went through numerous incarnations with a variety of directors and screenwriters. “Because it was such a successful book, I thought this will be a movie that will be easy to get made, but that proved not true!”

The Giver Movie - Odeya Rush

More than fifteen years ago, a company where producer Nikki Silver was working owned the rights to the property. Silver concedes that it was by good fortune that she was able to acquire the rights herself, “I’ve always been a lover of children’s literature, especially young adult, and The Giver is one of the prize pieces of children’s literature.”

Starting at that time, Bridges and Silver began to develop and nurture the project together, and tenaciously kept it alive. Silver explains, “Jeff had been involved up to the point that I came across the project and I immediately called him to ask if he still wanted do it. I got a resounding ‘yes’ – and from there it’s been a long journey for myself, Jeff and Neil.” Silver adds that she kept in close touch with author, Lois Lowry, over the years. “She loved our vision of it and stayed with us, and here we are today, which is so exciting!”

Silver, who faced similar challenges in getting backing for the project, says, “It was particularly difficult because everybody loved and respected the material. However, it was both a drama and it was for kids, and those words scared a lot of people. But The Weinstein Company stepped up and were willing to take up the challenge with us.”

Lois Lowry’s Unique Sameness

Lowry recalls the genesis of the book that she wrote some twenty years ago. “It was not prompted by any political thought; it was inspired by my father who at that time was very old, and his memories were fading. He was living some distance from me and I’d pay him a visit every six weeks. Over time it became more apparent that he was losing memories that to me were so important. I also saw that he was content, as he had forgotten every sad and scary event that he experienced, including his involvement in World War II, and the death of his first child – my sister – at a young age. This made me think about the importance of memory and how one can manipulate it.”

Having grown up on military bases around the world, where all the houses were identical and the rules were the same for everyone, was Lowry’s source of inspiration in creating the world of Sameness in which Jonas and The Giver live. “While living by a lot of rules and in an orderly environment makes them content, there’s also the reality that the more you try to exist in that kind of role, the more you are desperately lacking. Now that I no longer live that way, I can appreciate the diversity and the variety of the neighborhoods and places where I now live.”

On why she thinks stories about dystopian, futuristic societies are so appealing to young people, Lowry adds: “They are growing up in a world with so much uncertainty in it and there’s so much out there to be worried about. When I was a kid in the Eisenhower years, I never thought about the future, I assumed it would all be as pleasant as it was then.”

“Kids today are more sophisticated than I was and they have access to media. I didn’t have a television growing up. I think they have cause to be concerned and to try to sort out what their role is going to be in the shaping of the future. That’s why they’re drawn to this sort of speculative fiction.”

The Importance of Memory

The most pivotal of the multi-layered themes in THE GIVER is memory, as a source of wisdom as well as pain. The community that Lowry created in the novel uses strict rules to remove freedom of choice and individuality. While this is done to achieve an existence devoid of conflict and difference, it quickly becomes evident that this is also a world robbed of depth and emotion.

“The question that is put to the audience is: does the end justify the means? What are we willing to do for simple comfort? Are we willing to scrap all these huge polarities in our lives? Can we be rid of the tremendous sorrows and tremendous joys in life in order to just have a neutral, safe, relatively happy existence? Is that good enough for us?” muses Bridges.

The actor reveals that an important personal memory of his was the role his mother played in his youth. “I had a wonderful mother. She used to play with all of us, quite intensely. Each child would have an hour a day when our mom devoted all of her attention to each of us. In my hour, I would say, ‘Okay Mom, let’s go under the table and you be the space monster and I’ll be the thing,’ and she would just love that!”

Brenton adds, “My favorite theme in the story is that it touches on love and the idea that fighting for love is one of our main strengths as humans. Jonas becomes the most curious when he experiences love, and he pushes for that throughout the story.”

Monaghan shares, “What I like most about this story is that there is no real villain. It’s not about bad guys. Most of the rules of deprivation come not from bad intentions, but from quite the opposite, from good intentions. In their purity this community believes that they are doing the right thing. That’s very relatable to reality in that most of the time when people do bad things, they don’t know or believe it’s bad. I think that’s very important to teach kids.”

Thwaites believes that the powerful relevance of the movie will draw an audience. “I also hope that as a young artist portraying Jonas, I will encourage younger people to emote, and to not be embarrassed to voice their opinions or to voice their emotions.”

The Giver Movie Poster

The Giver

Directed by: Phillip Noyce
Starring by: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush, Cameron Monaghan, Taylor Swift, Emma Tremblay
Screenplay by: Michael Mitnick, Robert B. Weide
Production Design by: Ed Verreaux
Cinematography by: Ross Emery
Film Editing by: Barry Alexander Brown
Costume Design by: Diana Cilliers
Set Decoration by: Andrew McCarthy
Music by: Marco Beltrami
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for a mature thematic image and some sci-fi action / violence.
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: August 15, 2014

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Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

Taglines: All heroes start somewhere.

An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe.

To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits—Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand—with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.

Guardians of the Galaxy is a 2014 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the tenth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The film was directed by James Gunn, who wrote the screenplay with Nicole Perlman, and features an ensemble cast including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, and Benicio del Toro. In Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter Quill forms an uneasy alliance with a group of extraterrestrial misfits who are on the run after stealing a coveted orb.

Guardians of the Galaxy - Karen Gillan

Making The Epic Space Adventure

Shooting began in June 2013, in the UK and over a long, hot summer through autumn, a dedicated cast and crew worked ardently together, embracing and realizing director James Gunn’s vision. Production designer Charles Wood was tasked with designing and creating the weird and wonderful environments in which the action takes place. It was important for Gunn to have physical sets to shoot on, a rare treat for cast and crew who work on many productions that rely on huge green-screen stages to create their biggest sets. As one would imagine, production was massive but in spite of the extent of the work, Wood was excited by the scope of the job, saying, “There was such a range of sets, of environments to explore, and each so vastly different from one another; it was a thrilling opportunity.”

Gunn had a very clear vision for the film, which was fully embraced by his creative team, and while the possibilities seemed limitless, it was important to Gunn that the spaces felt as real as possible. He says, “One of the driving forces, from the beginning, was to create a gritty world that was still very colorful. I miss some of the color palettes of the ’50s and ’60s science fiction films when things were much brighter and to intermingle those different looks from the past and create our own look was very important.”

Production designer Charles Wood concurs: “There is a color palette system within the film that changes from one environment to the other and is very purposeful. The different technologies and machinery are all planetspecific and very diverse.”

Charles Wen, head of Marvel’s visual development, also points out, “James was adamant about making sure the technology felt Space Age, but not too advanced or over-the-top. It needed to almost feel timeless as if space / time is generally just relative.”

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Environments

The first otherworldly place visited in the film is the abandoned planet Morag, which Wood and his team designed in a neutral palette to fit its sandy environment. In contrast, when Peter Quill enters the sunken secret temple on Morag, Wood used vivid golds, greens and blues to accent the jewel-like interior.

The Kyln-the space prison where the Guardians meet and form-was the production’s largest build; a 360-degree set, and a feat of engineering, comprised of 100 tons of steel across three levels, extended in post-production by a further 200 feet. The set features corridor systems connected to main cells and bays built on a steel frame on wheels.

The Kyln set was repurposed several times, with each transformation often requiring a good deal of working around the clock for the departments to accomplish the complex transitions, which included a revamp of The Collectors lab, Taneleer Tivan’s museum of extraordinary things.

The watery planet of Xandar is one of the brighter environments in the film. The actual set is just a footing for a gigantic virtual set, inspired by the architecture of Santiago Calatrava, and the monumental steel, glass and white concrete arch of the Liege train station in Belgium provided its backdrop.

Wood and his team also built Knowhere, a port of call and observatory for intergalactic travelers of all species and from all times, located inside the decapitated head of a Celestial, on the edge of the universe. Knowhere is evocative of an industrial mining town with a gritty, rough and tough atmosphere. Both the Boot of Jemiah and The Collector’s lab were outstanding sets for Knowhere built by Wood and his team.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Spacecraft

One of the spacecraft production designer Charles Wood and his team designed for the film was the Milano, Peter Quill’s ship, which is a Ravager ship and part of Yondu’s fleet. Less high-tech technology was used in the design to give the idea that Quill wants to have more hands-on control and experience the ride-much like a driver who prefers stick over automatic.

Constructed as a double-level composite set, with an upper flight deck and lower living quarters, it was a 14-week build involving several trades. “Our biggest inspiration for the Milano was Chuck Yeager and the early test flights and missions that took place in the late ’50s, early ’60s,” says Wood. “So we looked at a lot of that footage. James wanted to come up with an environment for Quill that was reminiscent of Earth and had a tangible quality-mechanical with chrome and leather and a muscle-car look. A little boy’s dream.”

In order to have the sense that Quill thought of his ship as home, Wood and set decorator Richard Roberts worked to collect and build items that would evoke 1980s nostalgia. “Rich and his team got together all of the ephemera and other bits and pieces to remind him of home,” says Wood. “The Milano itself was probably the biggest construction thing that we did and unusually for a prop master, I’m also involved in the manufacturing of the set decoration parts. So we did an immense amount of work going from the beds to all of the flight seats. Everything in the Milano was created from scratch.”

Richard Roberts echoes, “We made everything. We bought ejector seats from jet fighters and completely remodeled them and we worked from a lot of concept work that Charles Wood created. So we were creating a ship that looks like it’s got some ’80s notes, but we built it so it was really just the personal items that we bought that are from the ’80s.”

Among the items the filmmakers built was a cassette player built into the spaceship that looks like a car stereo. They also installed shag-type carpet of various colors and a black light in the living quarters. With the idea that Quill had a backpack with him when he was abducted from Earth, Roberts peppered the interior of the Milano with iconic items that would have been in a 9-year-old’s possession in the 1980s: Alf stickers, baseball cards and Troll dolls, among other items.

Wood’s efforts were not lost on Chris Pratt, whose character Peter Quill commands the Milano. “I couldn’t believe it when I first saw it and I have been in awe ever since,” enthuses Pratt. “Inside it, I felt like I was on a ride at a theme park, something people would wait in line all day just to get a glimpse of and I got to pretend it was mine. It was pretty amazing and helped inform my performance.”

Wood and his team also crafted the Dark Aster, Ronan’s spaceship, which is a Kree warship. Suggestive of a flying mausoleum, the design is minimal and brutal-a stark, gray, colorless world devoid of any set dressing whatsoever, relying purely on its heavy concretelike architecture to convey its tone and function. Lee Pace, who plays the villain Ronan, was impressed with his “ride.” “You’ve never seen a spaceship like this. It’s massive: the size of the Empire State Building turned over on its side three and a half times,” says Pace. “A colossal, steel flying device. It’s awesome.”

On the flight deck of the Dark Aster, four Sakkaran pilots guide the ship using glowing balls that they manipulate with synchronized hand movements. The filmmakers hired synchronized dancers so that the hand movements would be perfectly in sync.

Part of Wood’s build was a large wall where Ronan communicates with others. It acts like a big screen, but it has an uneven finish with texture and carvings. When Ronan is communicating with people, their faces appear in the wall.

The Dark Aster also houses Ronan’s fleet of Necocraft in its massive wings. Yondu’s mother ship is called the Eclector and it is the second largest spacecraft in the movie. It houses the entire Ravager fleet. It boasts a room called the Strategarium, which is like a conference room with manually operated screens.

Co-producer Jonathan Schwartz sums up Charles Wood and his team’s work best when he says, “The sets are genius. Charles has done an absolutely incredible job of making the script come to life. If you read the script and tried to envision it, it would be impossible. It’s so different, so crazy, and like nothing else we’ve ever done before. You don’t fully understand the movie until you see it spring up around you in a full 360-degree set.”

Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Poster

Guardians of the Galaxy

Yönetmen: James Gunn
Oyuncular: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro
Senaryo: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman
Prodüksiyon Tasarımı: Charles Wood
Görüntü Yönetmeni: Ben Davis
Kurgu: Fred Raskin, Hughes Winborne, Craig Wood
Kostüm Tasarımı: Alexandra Byrne
Set Dekorasyonu: Chris ‘Flimsy’ Howes, Richard Roberts
Müzik: Tyler Bates
Türkiye Dağıtımı: UIP Filmcilik
Gösterim Tarihi: 1 Ağustos 2014

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Hercules

Hercules Movie

Taglines: Before he was a legend, he was a man.

Haunted by a sin from his past, Hercules has become a mercenary. Along with five faithful companions, he travels ancient Greece selling his services for gold and using his legendary reputation to intimidate enemies. But when the benevolent ruler of Thrace and his daughter seek Hercules’ help to defeat a savage and terrifying warlord, Hercules finds that in order for good to triumph and justice to prevail… he must again become the hero he once was… he must embrace his own myth… he must be Hercules.

Hercules is an American adventure film directed by Brett Ratner and starring Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Reece Ritchie, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Joseph Fiennes, and John Hurt. It is based on the graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars. Distributed jointly by Paramount Pictures and MGM, it was released on July 25, 2014. It is one of two Hollywood-studio Hercules films released in 2014, the other being Summit Entertainment’s The Legend of Hercules.

Hercules Movie - Barbara Palvin

An Ageless Myth

The immortal legend of Hercules — the demigod renowned for his mighty deeds and valor – gets a high-adrenaline 21st century makeover as director Brett Ratner and leading action star Dwayne Johnson bring Hercules to life in a modern incarnation … as a man struggling to live up to his own lore in a world of fearsome villainy.

This version of Hercules is an icon who has vanquished lions and hellhounds, and is publicly feared and revered as a super-human champion; but deep within, he remains wounded by tragedy and uncertain of his legacy. Accompanied by five faithful companions, he travels the empire selling his services for gold and using his formidable reputation to intimidate his enemies. But when the benevolent ruler of neighboring Thrace and his daughter seek Hercules’ help to defeat a terrifying warlord, Hercules can no longer skate by on the folklore surrounding him.

He must learn to embrace his own myth and become the hero people believe in. Says Dwayne Johnson: “Making a movie about Hercules has been a passion project of mine for a very, very, very long time. He’s a character who over the centuries has been an inspiration to many, myself included. But this time, we wanted to give audiences a Hercules they’ve never seen before. When we meet Hercules in this movie, he’s an exile suffering with regrets, fighting only for gold. He has to overcome his demons and find his heart to become the man people want him to be.”

“What’s different about our Hercules is that he is a regular man who has disavowed the fact that he’s the son of a Greek god,” adds Brett Ratner. “Every legend starts with a true story and when I read the script based on the graphic novel Hercules – The Thracian Wars, what blew me away is that it was so grounded in a reality you could feel. That’s what I wanted to bring to the screen.”

Hercules Movie - Dwayne Johnson

For Ratner, no stranger to high-octane screen action from the “Rush Hour” series to “X-Men: Last Stand,” , taking on “Hercules” would mean working on his most epic scale yet – but also zeroing in on Hercules’ place in an era of potent anti-heroes. “This is a story full of constant action, humor and kickass battles, which everyone loves seeing. But I hope people will also walk out of the movie feeling the power of Hercules’ belief,” says the director.

The inspiration for re-imagining Hercules began with the Radical Studios comic book series Hercules: The Thracian Wars, in which British comics writer Steve Moore thrilled readers with the story of a self-doubting fallen hero seeking redemption. Even in the earliest stages, Radical co-founders Barry Levine and Jesse Berger hoped the visually ambitious graphic novel would make the leap to the screen – and break the mold of movies based on classic mythology, which are so often steeped in fantasy or even animated.

The graphic novel first spiked the interest of Johnson during a visit to the Radical offices. “Their comic book was a unique take on Hercules that grabbed all of our attention,” recalls the star. “They took all the cool mythologies of Hercules and tweaked them in a way that gave the story a contemporary power. It was a Hercules audiences aren’t yet familiar with.”

Soon after, Ratner joined the project and Radical Comics was thrilled with the synergy. “It turned out that Brett was a Hercules fan from since he was a little kid,” Levine recalls. “He brought in an unbridled enthusiasm and passion, and started coming up with incredible ideas.”

Those ideas merged with the work of screenwriters Ryan Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos, who put Hercules right in the thick of a volatile time of shifting alliances, military conquests, tribal unrest and imperial ambitions. It’s a world in need of mythic powers, but Hercules isn’t exactly convinced he has them to spare.

“The screenplay deconstructed the myth of Hercules,” Flynn observes. “He has completely rejected the famous legends about himself – and you see that he is someone close to giving up. But he has one last chance to cleanse his demons and become whole again.”

With Johnson cast as Hercules, the screenplay took on new dimensions. “Once Dwayne came aboard, we really started bringing out the fun and charisma of Hercules,” explains Spiliotopoulos. “We wanted the audience to enjoy Dwayne’s humor, his charm, and the thrill of a summer action movie about Hercules.”

Summarizes Johnson: “For me, the tone of ‘Hercules’ had to be right on the money, it had to find that balance between humor, heart, and big, epic action – and I think we were able to do that and ground the story in characters who are a lot of fun. I wanted Hercules to have a cool charm, and to be everything physically that people always imagined he would be.”

Back to B.C.

To bring audiences back to the B.C. era of fabled Greek heroes in an exciting, modern way, Brett Ratner decided early on he would go old school – building epic sets from scratch. In search of the square footage to pull off such a feat, the production journeyed to the Origio Film Studios in Hungary, where “Hercules” would use all seven of their soundstages as well as a vast backlot.

“Brett was adamant from the beginning that he wanted epic, memorable sets,” Beau Flynn recalls, “and shooting in Budapest really allowed us to go for it.”

Adds Ratner: “We were able to create incredible battle sequences on a scale I never dreamed you could shoot, let alone survive, with horses, chariots and hundreds of warriors.”

The experience was often surreal as hundreds of Greek soldiers marched to the set carrying their shields, followed by tattooed, bald Bessi warriors bearing fearsome blades, and then teams of horses pulling chariots. For many, the feeling was of being transported in a time machine.

“Every set was like something out of Cecil B. DeMille, with that kind of scope,” recalls Rufus Sewell. “It makes a big difference to actors because you’re reacting to a real environment.”

Ratner also recruited a crack creative team. “These were all people I had dreamed of working with in the past and I finally had that chance,” says the director.

Heading the team was Ratner’s long-time collaborator, cinematographer Dante Spinotti, a two-time Oscar nominee for “The Insider” and “LA Confidential.” “Dante makes you forget that the camera exists,” says Ratner. “He really invites you into Hercules’ world.”

The duo also worked closely with production designer Jean-Vincent Puzos, who most recently worked with Michael Haneke on the Academy Award-winning “Amour.” “Jean-Vincent and I talked about “Hercules” for over a year before production,” explains Ratner. “He came up with amazing designs that always brought a new and fascinating slant. It was his idea to get away from the classic white marble look — and the dark, textured look he created works so well for our story.”

The centerpiece of Puzos’ design was the Bessi village of Thrace, which becomes the site of a ferocious battle. He had one goal: to make it feel as alive as any neighborhood in the 21st century. We built the houses with wood, stone, and mud,” explains set decorator Tina Jones. “Jean-Vincent wanted it to be gritty and dirty. He wanted you to be able to almost smell how awful it was.”

On a soundstage at Origio Studios, Puzos fabricated another colossal set: Cotys’ courtyard citadel rising like a phoenix, and featuring a magnificent altar to the goddess Hera atop a huge staircase lined with flame-filled braziers. Here, the classical white marble beauty of Hera contrasted dramatically with the grittiness of the rest of the set. “I decided to paint all the wood red. In Greece they used to paint everything in bull’s blood because it is very dense. It connected everything to the primitive feeling that the bull was protecting the people,” says Puzos.

Ratner was gratified by the work of Puzos and his team. “The citadel set looked and felt real, and the audience will feel that when they watch the film,” he says.

The piece de resistance for Puzos was the dungeon set, where Hercules is chained and taunted by King Eurystheus and Cotys. “I think it is the most impressive of all the sets,” he says, “because of the patterns we created with the stones, the fire and the green river of sulfur.”

Jones had a lot of fun with it. “We had cages full of skeletons, an executioner’s block and chains everywhere,” she says. “It takes you to a shocking place.”

Hercules in Battle

Though Brett Ratner is a veteran of high-style modern action, having collaborated closely with Jackie Chan for years, this film would take him into fresh territory. He aimed to create fierce, primal fights that might come out of myth, but feel like they are happening right this moment.

Ratner recruited a formidable team to work with the cast, headed by second unit director Alexander Witt, stunt coordinator Greg Powell and fight coordinator Allan Poppleton, who in turn brought in daring stunt performers from England, Canada, New Zealand, Hungary, Slovakia, and Bulgaria, as well as a group of sensationally skilled horsemen from Spain headed up by Ricardo Cruz Sr.

As soon as Powell read the script, he started thinking about just how enormous Hercules’ strength might be. “He’s not supernatural,” notes Powell, “but he is a big guy, probably twice as big as I am, so if I can throw someone six feet, then he can throw them twelve. I worked on that principle throughout the fight sequences.”

He then began working closely both with Ratner and Johnson to develop Hercules’ distinctive fighting style. Despite having just recovered from surgery, Johnson insisted on doing all his fights himself and immediately started training with the Hercules’ club and hefty sword. “Dwayne is massive, so we incorporated his size and all wrestling skill into Hercules’ style,” explains Poppleton. “He was very hand-on with ideas – for example, coming up with his own methods of using the club.”

“He needed to wield this thing like the back of his hand,” says Johnson of the wooden club Hercules employs with deadly aplomb, “because it has been his weapon of choice over the years.”

Powell and Poppleton worked with the cast for a month prior to shooting. The culmination of all their work would come to a boil in the tricky battle between Hercules, his mercenary band, the Cotys Army and the Bessi warriors who breach the wall and start wreaking total havoc.

“What was unusual is that Brett wanted the Cotys army to be ill-trained in that battle, so that Hercules realizes that he needs to whip them into shape,” Poppleton explains. “At the same time, he wanted the Bessi warriors to be crazy, berserk, almost animalistic kinds of creatures.”

“The Bessis come in strangling, punching, and kicking anyone in sight,” adds Powell, “and our boys did an amazing job there.”

Says Johnson: “The Bessi battle is an epic, epic fight with a unique twist – and it becomes a defining moment for Hercules and his band.”

Throughout filming, the production was able to work with horses that had been carefully trained over many months to fall in battle and other teams trained to haul the chariots driven by Hercules and his band. Four magnificent black Friesians thrilled cast and crew as they pulled Hercules’ chariot, nostrils flaring, manes flying, and shiny black flanks gleaming in the sun.

Driving the chariots was another ancient skill that had to be mastered by cast members – and took 6 weeks of daily training to master the balance. Ian McShane says that it was a unique test. “I ride horses, I love horses, but driving a chariot is something completely different,” he remarks.

Between the chariots and ancient weaponry and graphic choreography, the action was so challenging on “Hercules,” it kept all the actors and stuntmen on their toes. But for Dwayne Johnson, it’s the way Hercules comes to approach his battles that explains his endless appeal. “Hercules might get knocked down, but then he comes back stronger, and that’s a lot like how life is. We all come back after a fall and we come back stronger. We’ve all got a little Hercules in us.”

Hercules Movie Poster

Hercules

Directed by: Brett Ratner
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, John Hurt, Rufus Sewell, Aksel Hennie, Rebecca Ferguson, Barbara Palvin
Screenplay by: Ryan Condal, Evan Spiliotopoulos
Production Design by: Jean-Vincent Puzos
Cinematography by: Dante Spinotti
Film Editing by: Mark Helfrich, Julia Wong
Costume Design by: Jany Temime
Set Decoration by: Tina Jones
Music by: Fernando Velázquez, Johannes Vogel
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for epic battle sequences, violence, suggestive comments, brief strong language and partial nudity.
Studio: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Paramount Picturs
Release Date: July 25th, 2014

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Transformers: Age of Extinction

Transformers: Age of Extinction - Nicola Peltz

This is not war. It’s extinction.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is a science fiction action film based on the Transformers franchise. It is the fourth installment of the live-action Transformers film series and stars Mark Wahlberg in the lead role. A sequel to Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the film takes place five years later, after the Decepticon invasion of Chicago. Like its predecessors, the film is directed by Michael Bay and executive produced by Steven Spielberg.

Ehren Kruger is the film’s screenwriter, having written every Transformers film since Revenge of the Fallen. The film features an entirely new cast of human characters and is the first in the series to feature the Dinobots. Returning Transformers include Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Ratchet, Leadfoot, Brains, and Megatron (now known as Galvatron). The film was released on June 27, 2014, in IMAX and 3D.

As humanity picks up the pieces, following the conclusion of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Autobots and Decepticons have all but vanished from the face of the planet. However, a group of powerful, ingenious businessman and scientists attempt to learn from past Transformer incursions and push the boundaries of technology beyond what they can control – all while an ancient, powerful Transformer menace sets Earth in his crosshairs. The epic adventure and battle between good and evil, freedom and enslavement ensues.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

About the Story

Sixty-five million years ago, during the Cretaceous period, beings known as the “Creators” detonate “Seeds”, bombs that cyberform large areas of land, wiping out most life on Earth. In the present, a geologist named Darcy Tyril discovers a dinosaur corpse covered in a strange metal in the Arctic.

Five years have passed since the Battle of Chicago and humanity has grown fearful of Transformers. The U.S. military has severed joint combat operations with the Autobots. While officially the Autobots are granted sanctuary, secretly, even without the U.S. President’s knowledge, Cemetery Wind, an elite CIA unit headed by paranoid agent Harold Attinger and team leader James Savoy, tasked with hunting down the remaining Decepticons, is also secretly hunting down Autobots, believing them to be a threat, and have murdered most of them. With the aid of the Transformer bounty hunter Lockdown, they ambush and brutally kill Ratchet. Their primary target, however, is Optimus Prime, whom Lockdown personally wants alive.

Meanwhile in rural Texas, Cade Yeager, a struggling inventor, and his friend Lucas buy an old truck to strip it for parts in hopes of sending Cade’s daughter Tessa to college. Cade soon discovers that the truck is an injured Optimus Prime and repairs him. After locating Optimus in Texas, Cemetery Wind and Lockdown travel there and confront Cade, Tessa, and Lucas. Optimus comes out of hiding and attacks the operatives, allowing Cade and his friends to escape.

Transformers: Age of Extinction - Nicola Peltz

They are saved by Tessa’s secret boyfriend, Shane Dyson, with whom they escape, though Lucas is killed by Lockdown’s grenade. While in hiding, tensions between Cade, his daughter and Shane rise due to the fact that the two teenagers kept their relationship secret. Optimus, meanwhile rallies the last remaining Autobots: Bumblebee, Hound, Drift, and Crosshairs. Cade hacks into a drone he took from the attack in Texas, and learns that Cemetery Wind is working with a corporation called KSI. They decide to infiltrate KSI headquarters in Chicago for information.

Meanwhile, Joshua Joyce, the head of KSI, shows Tyril that he has perfected transformium, the codeable, molecularly unstable metal that the Transformers are composed of. He has imprisoned Brains to decode dead Transformers’ brains and utilize their data for human-created Transformers. He shows Tyril his prized creation, Galvatron, who was created using data from Megatron’s brain. Optimus and the Autobots storm the facility, free Brains, and start to destroy the facility. Joyce stops them, and when he explains that humans don’t need the Autobots anymore, now that they can create their own Transformer soldiers, the Autobots leave.

Transformers: Age of Extinction Poster

Transformers: Age of Extinction Poster

Transformers: Age of Extinction
Directed by: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Stanley Tucci, T.J. Miller, Sophia Myles, Kelsey Grammer, Melanie Specht
Screenplay by: Ehren Kruger
Production Design by: Jeffrey Beecroft
Cinematography by: Amir Mokri
Film Editing by: Roger Barton, William Goldenberg, Paul Rubell
Costume Design by: Marie-Sylvie Deveau
Set Decoration by: Rosemary Brandenburg, Missy Parker
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo.
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: June 27, 2014

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Maleficent

Maleficent Movie

Taglines: Don’t believe the fairy tale.

“Maleficent” explores the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the classic “Sleeping Beauty and the elements of her betrayal that ultimately turn her pure heart to stone. Driven by revenge and a fierce desire to protect the moors over which she presides, Maleficent cruelly places an irrevocable curse upon the human king’s newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Aurora is caught in the middle of the seething conflict between the forest kingdom she has grown to love and the human kingdom that holds her legacy. Maleficent realizes that Aurora may hold the key to peace in the land and is forced to take drastic actions that will change both worlds forever.

Maleficent is a dark fantasy film directed by Robert Stromberg and produced by Walt Disney Pictures, from a screenplay written by Paul Dini and Linda Woolverton. Starring Angelina Jolie as the eponymous Disney Villainess character, the film is both a prequel and a re-imagining of Walt Disney’s 1959 animated adaptation of Sleeping Beauty, and portrays the story from the perspective of the antagonist, Maleficent. It began filming on June 18, 2012, and is scheduled for release on May 30, 2014 in the Disney Digital 3D and RealD 3D formats, as well as in conventional theatres.

Maleficent Movie - Elle Fanning

About the Story

An elderly narrator tells the story of Maleficent, a strong and powerful faerie living in the Moors, a magical realm bordering a human kingdom. As a young girl, she falls in love with a human peasant boy named Stefan, but his affection for Maleficent is overshadowed by his ambition to become king. As they grow older, Stefan stops seeing Maleficent. After Maleficent defeats the current king in battle when he attempts to invade the Moors, he offers to name whoever kills her, his successor. Stefan overhears this, goes to see Maleficent and deceives her into thinking that he has come to warn her of the king’s plot.

He drugs her and attempts to kill her, but cannot bring himself to do it, so he cuts off her wings with iron (iron burns faeries) and presents them to the king as proof of her death. Maleficent rescues a raven named Diaval to serve as her informant and he reports to her that Stefan has been crowned king. The realization that Stefan betrayed her to gain the throne devastates Maleficent and in retaliation, declares herself queen of the Moors, forming a dark oppressive kingdom with Diaval as her one companion.

Maleficent Movie - Angelina Jolie

Some time later, Diaval informs Maleficent that King Stefan is hosting a christening for his newborn daughter, Aurora. Bent on revenge, Maleficent arrives uninvited and curses the newborn princess: on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel, which will cause her to fall into a death like sleep.

After Stefan is forced by Maleficent to beg for his daughter, she offers a caveat: the curse can be broken by true love’s kiss. Terrified of Maleficent’s vengeance, Stefan sends Aurora to live with three pixies (Knotgrass, Flittle and Thistlewit) until the day after her sixteenth birthday, while he destroys and burns all the spinning wheels in the kingdom and hides them in the deepest dungeon in the castle. He sends out his armies to find and kill Maleficent, but she surrounds the Moors with an impenetrable wall of thorns.

Maleficent Movie Poster

Maleficent

Directed by: Robert Stromberg
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Juno Temple, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Toby Regbo, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Brenton Thwaites, Sarah Flind
Screenplay by: Paul Dini, Linda Woolverton, John Lee Hancock
Production Design by: Dylan Cole, Gary Freeman
Cinematography by: Dean Semler
Film Editing by: Chris Lebenzon, Richard Pearson
Costume Design by: Anna B. Sheppard
Set Decoration by: Lee Sandales
Music by: James Newton Howard
MPAA Rating: PG for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images.
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: May 30, 2014

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Earth to Echo

Earth to Echo Movie

Taglines: No one would ever believe our story.

Earth to Echo is an American sci-fi drama film directed by Dave Green, and produced by Robbie Brenner and Andrew Panay. The film was originally developed and produced by Walt Disney Pictures, who eventually sold the distribution rights to Relativity Media, which released the completed film in theaters on July 2, 2014.

When a group of young friends begin to receive bizarre encrypted messages on their cellphones, they embark on an incredible adventure to discover the meaning behind these communications. Soon enough, they realize that the messages they are receiving are from a mysterious being from another world – one who desperately needs their help.

After a construction project begins digging in their neighborhood, best friends Tuck, Munch and Alex inexplicably begin to receive strange, encoded messages on their cell phones. Convinced something bigger is going on, they go to their parents and the authorities. When everyone around them refuses to take the messages seriously, the three embark on a secret adventure to crack the code and follow it to its source. But taking matters into their own hands gets the trio in way over their heads when they discover a mysterious being from another world who desperately needs their help. The epic, suspenseful and exciting journey that follows will change all of their lives forever.

Earth to Echo Movie - Ella Wahlestedt

About the Story

Tuck, Munch and Alex are a trio of inseparable friends whose lives are about to change. Their Las Vegas suburb, Mulberry Woods, is being destroyed by a highway construction project that is forcing their families to move away. They mourn what will surely be the end of their happiness and friendship as their families move to separate ends of the country.

During the last week together, Alex’s phone, as well as his family’s, begin “barfing”—displaying weird electronic signals. Munch and Tuck figure out these signals only start at a certain point in the neighborhood. At one point men from the construction crew come to give out new phones, apologizing for the apparent electrical short that caused this, but the boys hide their phones.

Munch discovers that the image on his phone is identical to a desert 20 miles away. While at school they plan to tell their parents they are sleeping out at one of the other boys’ houses and then ride their bikes to find what the image leads to.

That night, Tuck and Alex collect an extremely nervous Munch who has cold feet. After some convincing they get him to come, telling him it’s their last night together before Alex—who’s moving in with another foster family—and eventually all three, move away. They bike out to the desert and what they discover is something beyond their wildest imaginations: a small friendly alien robot who has become stranded on Earth. In need of their help to rebuild his spaceship, the three friends come together to protect the alien, which they name Echo. Trying to find missing parts, they travel all over the desert and into a pawn shop; a house that happens to be Emma’s (or, as Munch calls her, “Mannequin Girl”), who joins them to get away from her parents; a bar; and an arcade.

However, they are being chased by government officials who have gone undercover as construction workers to investigate a spaceship that entered Earth’s atmosphere near the construction site. They shot Echo down and, believing that if Echo rebuilds his ship it will kill everyone on Earth, plan to kill him. After collecting a few of the pieces, the kids and Echo are caught, and the government is almost able to kill Echo before they escape. They steal the government’s van and follow the last map on their phones to reach Echo’s spaceship.

The map leads them to Alex’s backyard; the spaceship was under the neighborhood all along. Tuck, Munch and Emma now believe the officials and try to convince Alex to believe them, too, but he doesn’t listen. Alex puts Echo in the spaceship and tearfully says goodbye. The spaceship rebuilds itself, pulling each piece out of the ground, and blasts off into the sky. Only the four kids are around to see it (except Munch’s mother, whom no one believes) and think the holes appear because of a brief earthquake caused by the ship taking off.

Having been wrong about their predictions regarding the spaceship, the government officials depart. The kids’ parents discover that they were out all night, getting them in trouble. While they saved their neighborhood, Alex and Munch still have to move away; Tuck is able to stay but regrets that it isn’t the same without his friends. Despite this, the group realizes that true best friends remain so despite whatever distance separates them, and they remain friends for life.

Earth to Echo Movie Poster

Earth to Echo

Directed by: Dave Green
Starring: Teo Halm, Astro, Reese C. Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt, Jason Gray-Stanford, Samantha Elizondo
Screenplay by: Henry Gayden, Andrew Panay
Production Design by: Kasra Farahani
Cinematography by: Maxime Alexandre
Film Editing by: Carsten Kurpanek, Crispin Struthers
Costume Design by: Judianna Makovsky
Set Decoration by: Missy Parker
Music by: Joseph Trapanese
MPAA Rating: PG for some action and peril, and mild language.
Studio: Relativity Media
Release Date: July 2, 2014

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Journey to the West

Journey to the West

Journey to the West is a French-Taiwanese film directed by Tsai Ming-liang. It had its world premiere at the Panorama section of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival on February 2014.

This is a world plagued by demons, who cause its human inhabitants unspeakable suffering. Young demon hunter Xuan Zang, fearlessly guided by his belief in “giving himself for the greater cause”, risks his all and conquers a water demon, a pig demon and the demon of all demons, Sun Wukong. He embraces them as his disciples, and melts them with love. Meanwhile, Xuan Zang discovers the true meaning of Greater Love himself. In order to atone for their own sins and save the common people, the four of them embark on a journey to the West that’s full of challenges…

Q & A with Stephen Chow

An Inside Look at Journey to the West

300 Nursery Rhymes is a very interesting invention. It’s supposed to be just a songbook for children. But it becomes a super-powerful demon-hunting tool in the film. How did you come up with the idea?

Since I was a kid, I’ve always liked singing nursery rhymes. I was also once a well-known TV host for children’s programs. Nursery rhymes are the love of my life. So they became part of the story. I wanted the demon-conquering stunt to be something cute and childish, and touching in the demons’ eyes. That’s how I thought of nursery rhymes.

There are some other powerful weapons in the film, like the Infinite Flying Rings. What inspired that?

The Infinite Flying Rings first appeared in the film Buddha’s Palm. Able to change flying direction mid-air, they were created as a weapon to counter the great Buddha’s Palm. But in the end, they were no match for Ten Thousand Dancing Buddhas – the ninth palm position in Buddha’s Palm. Even so, they’re still a very powerful weapon. I liked the idea a lot and borrowed it.

Journey to the West

Everyone was looking forward to seeing your performance in Journey. But you’ve ended up not appearing in the film at all. Why did you choose to just direct and not act?

The main reason is that Journey is a very challenging project. I thought about it a lot. I needed to be 100% focused if I wanted to make a good film about this subject matter. I’ve tried directing and acting simultaneously several times before. But I felt that if I did that again, I wouldn’t be able to make a great film with this story. So in the end, I chose to give up acting and concentrate on making the best film I could.

In each and every one of your previous films, there are a lot of memorable lines. Is there any dialogue in Journey that’s special and that you’re particularly proud of?

There is lots of good dialogue in Journey. My favorite has to be “Forever is too long. Seize the moment.” It resonates with A Chinese Odyssey from more than ten years ago. At the same time, it’s also a new look at love.

It’s very impressive that you’ve always been able to blend love stories with humor in your films. Journey is no exception. People will inevitably compare the love relationship between Wen Zhang and Shu Qi’s characters to the one between Joker and Zixia. What do you think?

I think they are both touching stories, very tragic. Only tragic love stories can be touching. There’s nothing to write about a happy love story. Therefore they need to be tragic. Of course, because the actors have changed, what emerges on the screen is different too. But the touching part remains the same. I personally think that Journey is more touching.

Q & A with the Gang of Demon Hunters

How did Stephen Chow find you?

Wen Zhang: At first, Mr. Bill Kong called me. I was in Singapore for business when he called. He wanted me to find time to fly to HK and meet with Mr. Chow. I heard that he was going to make a film. So I thought maybe he was casting for it. But I had no idea why he wanted to see me. And when we met in Hong Kong, we were just chitchatting. He asked if I had any friends in Hong Kong, whether I was eating well and getting enough sleep, what I was planning to do and whether I had watched and liked A Chinese Odyssey. I didn’t hear from him for a long time. Maybe a month before shooting started, he sent me the script and asked me to read it. I didn’t know which role I would play until days before we started shooting. And the next time I saw him was in Heng Dian.

Huang Bo: I turned it down at first, because I felt that Stephen Chow’s Monkey King was already so deeply entrenched in the audience’s memory. Everyone loved that Monkey King, and it would be very challenging for anybody to take on the role again. Also people would inevitably compare your performance to that of the previous Monkey King, which would be limiting, I thought. But in the end, Mr. Chow tricked me into doing it (laughs). He asked me how I would reprise the role and I shared my thoughts with him. He then told me, “Good ideas. Better than mine. Come and just act in the way you described.” And there I was.

Stephen Chow’s films never follow the rules. What was it like working with him?

Shu Qi: You can go wild and crazy with your role in a Stephen Chow film. So in Journey, I tried to act in an exaggeratingly comedic way for the first time. Like when you walk into a forest and boom, a monster jumps out at you. You need to be ready, and fight it. It’s really satisfying.

Stephen would demonstrate how to act for each scene. So when we were shooting, I’d watch him perform first before I did it. It feels like you saw it first. Whatever you need to do, you’ve seen in the theater already, but it’s someone that you (the audience) won’t get to see. Wow!

Wen Zhang: Xuan Zang is a heavy-duty role. He’s in almost every scene. I found the script very interesting, tears and laughter in one role. At first, I couldn’t find the “right” performance. By “right”, I mean the style of comedy of a Stephen Chow film. It was very hard to hit the mark at the beginning. The first week of shooting was torture. I spent a lot of time talking to Mr. Chow about the character and how to find ways to make it funnier. He would help me sort out various ways to interpret the character. So I think Mr. Chow is really a master of comedy. He gives actors a lot of space. If this were the same Xuan Zang as Master Law Kar Ying’s, he wouldn’t have come to me.

Huang Bo: Stephen Chow is a legend! As an actor, I never imagined that I would be working with Stephen someday. Once you talk to him, you realize he’s a very intelligent person. As a comedy actor, or rather a comedy director now, he’s brimming with humor, which is really important. I feel very privileged to have had this opportunity to work with him. I learned a lot from him as a filmmaker too. He has extremely high standards for everything and won’t just settle for the easy solution. He’s always trying to create something better. The character Sun Wukong, for example, was supposed to have been locked in the cave for 500 years. So he had to look like it — bald, old and pale.

What was it like to work with Shu Qi?

Stephen Chow: I saw the power that lies beneath her beauty and sex appeal. It’s power, not violence. And those martial arts skills! I have a good eye for talent, don’t I? I can often see what other people don’t. I’ve known for a long time that Shu Qi has it in her. So I asked her to play Miss Duan.

Wen Zhang: The way she looks and dresses is very feminine. But deep down, she has a lot of masculine qualities. You would probably imagine that she’s pretty, elegant and graceful all the time. But when you see her in person, she’s actually pretty casual. She would show up to the set in baggy pants, a white t-shirt and flip-flops. Sometime holding a cup of coffee, sometimes a piece of corn, very casual in general. When she speaks, it’s very loud and clear too. Anyway, it’s completely different from what I had imagined. Because when you see her on the big screen, like in If You Are Not the One, she’s feminine, lovely and cute. But in real life, completely the opposite, very much like a guy.

Huang Bo: It’s my first time acting alongside Shu Qi. I feel like there’s nothing she can’t do as an actress. She can play cute, silly, feminine and delicate, anything. I think our acting is very different this time. The script is different from a creative perspective. So are the tempo and style. Of course, it’s still uniquely Stephen Chow. If there’s one thing that’s the same, it’s the humor, and the excitement.

What do you think of Wen Zhang?

Shu Qi: Just a year and a half ago, I still thought of him as a newcomer. I had only seen him in Ocean Heaven. So I really thought he was autistic or something. But when we were shooting Journey, I found out that he’s smart as hell. He’s also a great comedic talent. He can sing, he can dance, direct, act, you name it. I really admire Wen Zhang. He is so talented at such a young age. More importantly, he’s married already and has a kid and a happy family. I am really envious.

Huang Bo: Wen Zhang is an extremely smart guy, smart actor. He’s very good at acting. He was able to quickly adapt for this film. The character is very different from what he had done before. I think it’s talent, it’s acting skill. He is a brilliant actor. I haven’t seen him in a comedy before. For this film, he’s delivered a completely different Xuan Zang.

What was it like working with Huang Bo?

Shu Qi: When Huang Bo showed up, you could immediately tell he’s no regular guy. When he stands in front you, you feel surprised and impressed. He’s been through a lot. And after Lost in Thailand, he’s even more “lost”. So every time we meet, we always have a good laugh together.

Wen Zhang: Huang Bo has his own very unique style of comedy. The general public loves that grassroots feel. We like to do lowbrow stuff, contemporary and colloquial. It’s easier for young people to relate to. Tongue-in-cheek and humorous.

There’s a scene in the film where you sing Love of A Lifetime. Can you please tell us what it was like filming that scene, and how do you like it?

Shu Qi: It felt like the entire world was watching me singing and dancing on top of a hill. I don’t know how to describe it in words. It really felt like dancing on a hilltop. The stage was very small. It could hold two or three people at most. I had to do the Chow style sexy dance like I was really into it, and the crew was watching me. It felt like a real dance performance. And because we were shooting in the middle of nowhere, it also felt like we were in ancient times. When you stand on an elevated stage and a big spotlight is shining on you, it’s very awkward to have to dance in front of the crew. After all, I’m not a dancer by training. And on top of that, I had to sing too. So when you go into the cinema, please bring earplugs. When it gets to that part, please cover your ears.

Q & A About the Post Production and Special Effects

Can you please tell us about the computer-generated demons?

Ken Law (Visual Effects Supervisor): The Sand Monk was reincarnated as the well-known fish demon. But Mr. Chow didn’t want it to be 100% fish or entirely alien, like the creature in Host. He wanted to add some uniquely Chinese features to it, referencing the monsters in The Classic of Mountains and Seas. In the end, the fish demon we created has a tiger’s head and also horse feet on its belly.

There are a few different looks for the pig demon. He was known to be an ugly beast. After being killed by his cheating wife and her paramour, he likes to mask himself with a handsome guy’s face. Later on, after Miss Duan defeats him, we see the true demon in him, which has quite a surprising look.

As for the Buddha — the story wants to convey the message that he’s everywhere. Xuan Zang tries to explain to Wukong that even though he’s escaped his imprisonment in the cave, he’s still under the control of the Buddha. Therefore, we have several “incarnations” for the Buddha too.

Stephen Chow: There hasn’t been any Chinese film before Journey that’s had really cool CG demons. What you’ll see this time is that we’ve put a lot of efforts for into creating our demons. So the audience will feel like it’s something they haven’t seen before.

Sun Wukong is an ever-changing character, an embodiment of the imagination. He has a shape-shifting power known as the “72 transformations”. So he can be anything he wants to be. In our story, he appears in many shapes and forms. Huang Bo only plays one form of Sun Wukong. We had a few other actors for Wukong too. Some are not even actors; for example, there’s a beast. He can be a monkey, or a big King Kong. That’s how versatile he is.

What were the director’s requirements for post-production?

Angie Lam (Post-production Supervisor): “Realness” was what he required from the special effects department. For example, for that transition from outer space to the earth at the end of the film, we had to watch a lot of sci-fi movies. We even called the science museum. The SFX supervisor joked about asking NASA for help. Mr. Chow likes eating fish. So it comes as no surprise that the fish demon feels so real. “To do anything well, you really need to focus and do it diligently.” That’s a line from The God of Cookery. For any seemingly small change he made, there was a lot of research behind it. Every time I traveled with him, I noticed a few thick books in his bag.

Ken Law: Mr. Chow had his own vision for the special effects. Generally he would start by telling us about the concept or vision he had in mind. We would then try a few different things he had suggested, and he would pick the most suitable ones. He liked to scout the sets too, so that he could connect the actors, the sets and the props with the special effects. Sometimes what we pre-visualized on the computer was not ideal for a set. He was able to make changes to the plan before shooting.

There are a total of 880 CG shots in the film. We had over thirty people working in Hong Kong and 60 more in Korea. It took us more than a year to finish post-production. Our team in Korea also hired some special effects specialists from Hollywood.

Can you please tell us what’s special about the 3D effects in Journey?

Stephen Chow: There’s nothing special about the 3D effects in Journey. It’s been converted to 3D in post. If you compare it to other 2D to 3D conversions, I think we’ve done a good job with Journey. I’m very happy with what we’ve able to achieve. I’ve seen some terrible 3D films. They made me wonder whether there’s a need for 3D. Honestly speaking, personally, I’m not a fan of 3D. But for some of the scenes in Journey, 3D really has created a different look. Now I’m starting to feel more positive about 3D in general.

What are our biggest advantages, compared to Hollywood, in making fantasy films?

Stephen Chow: It takes a lot of resources, including time and money, to make fantasy films. Hollywood is the most advanced in that regard. After all, they have the biggest film market. But we have our own strengths too. We don’t need to compete with them for these resources. We have “imagination and creativity”. Imagination and creativity first, and then the resources to bring them to reality. To me, it’s really a matter of imagination. I don’t think we are any less creative than Hollywood.

Journey to the West Movie Poster

Journey to the West

Directed by: Chi-kin Kwok, Stephen Chow
Starring: Qi Shu, Stephen Chow, Chrissie Chow, Zhang Wen, Bo Huang
Screenplay by: Stephen Chow, Chi-kin Kwok
Production Design by: Bruce Yu
Cinematography by: Sung Fai Choi
Film Editing by: Chi Wai Chan
Costume Design by: Pik Kwan Lee
Music by: Ying-Wah Wong
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for fantasy violence including bloody images, some sexual content and partial nudity.
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Release Date: March 7, 2014

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