Synopsis: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the seventh and final adventure in the Harry Potter film series, is a much-anticipated motion picture event to be told in two full-length parts.
Part 1 begins as Harry, Ron and Hermione set out on their perilous mission to track down and destroy the secret to Voldemort’s immortality and destruction—the Horcruxes.On their own, without the guidance of their professors or the protection of Professor Dumbledore, the three friends must now rely on one another more than ever.But there are Dark Forces in their midst that threaten to tear them apart.
Meanwhile, the wizarding world has become a dangerous place for all enemies of the Dark Lord.The long-feared war has begun and Voldemort’s Death Eaters seize control of the Ministry of Magic and even Hogwarts, terrorizing and arresting anyone who might oppose them.But the one prize they still seek is the one most valuable to Voldemort: Harry Potter.The Chosen One has become the hunted one as the Death Eaters search for Harry with orders to bring him to Voldemort…alive.Harry’s only hope is to find the Horcruxes before Voldemort finds him.But as he searches for clues, he uncovers an old and almost forgotten tale—the legend of the Deathly Hallows.And if the legend turns out to be true, it could give Voldemort the ultimate power he seeks.
Little does Harry know that his future has already been decided by his past when, on that fateful day, he became “the Boy Who Lived.”No longer just a boy, Harry Potter is drawing ever closer to the task for which he has been preparing since the day he first stepped into Hogwarts: the ultimate battle with Voldemort.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” is directed by David Yates, who also helmed the blockbusters “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”David Heyman, the producer of all of the Harry Potter films, produced the film, together with David Barron.Screenwriter Steve Kloves adapted the screenplay, based on the book by J.K. Rowling.Lionel Wigram is the executive producer.
Heading the cast, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson reprise their roles as Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.
The film’s ensemble cast also includes Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Tom Felton, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson, Richard Griffiths, John Hurt, Jason Isaacs, Helen McCrory, Bill Nighy, Miranda Richardson, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall, Imelda Staunton, David Thewlis, Julie Walters and Bonnie Wright.
Warner Bros. Pictures presents a Heyday Films production, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” which marks the latest installment in the most successful film franchise of all time.“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1” will be released worldwide starting November 19, 2010, and “Part 2” starting July 15, 2011.
One of my favorite films from this year’s SXSW was Monsters, the directorial debut of a resourceful British independent filmmaker by the name of Gareth Edwards. Because Monsters is a low budget movie set in Earth’s near future about aliens that live in a quarantined zone in a third world country, it is only inevitable that people make the comparison between Edwards’ film and Neill Blomkamp’s District 9. A coy marketing campaign on the part of Magnet Releasing, who are distributing the film in the United States, that keeps the titular non-humans out of the spotlight isn’t helping anything, either.
So the question is, is Monsters indeed this year’s District 9?
Yes…and no. On the no front, aside from a few elements that are vaguely overlapping – the third world setting, the use of street signs warning about the long-established quarantine zone, a small cast comprised of people you probably haven’t heard of – the two are completely different films. Unfortunately, that may prove to be a problem for Monsters.
Given the film’s title and the marketing, which emphasizes the scale of the quarantine zone and how destructive the unseen beasts can be over the actual plot of a man escorting his bosses daughter through the dangerous zone, I think a lot of audiences are going to be expecting something along the lines of D9. I can hardly blame those expectations. If I hadn’t been fortunate enough to catch the film’s world premiere at SXSW, if all I had to go on was the marketing, I too would be expecting a more Hollywood-style alien invasion movie. That’s not what Monsters is, though. From my review over at Sci-Fi Squad:
Those expecting a non-stop effects extravaganza should temper their hopes right now; Monsters is not the film they’re looking for. Gareth Edwards certainly has no apprehensions about showing off his behemoths, but this is not their movie. This is Andrew and Sam’s movie and that is precisely what makes Monsters so unique. It’s not about blowing your mind with action, it’s about creating an all-encompassing universe in which this subtle and soft story can exist.
So, no, the two are not alike in terms of end goal. Blomkamp’s film is a sci-fi actioner, Edwards’ film is a sci-fi romance. If anything, Monsters is best summarized as District 9 meets Before Sunrise. That said, there is still another half to the answer.
One of the reasons critics and fans alike loved District 9 is because it was different and original and looked like it was made on a budget 10x times the amount of what actually went into the movie. In the production department, Monsters is without question this year’s District 9. The entire movie was made on a microbudget with a crew of two people (yes, two people!) and filmed completely on location. In fact, it’s even more removed from the studio system because Edwards did everything by himself.
All of the special effects were created by him at home using nothing but off-the-shelf software and equipment that you or I could easily get a hold of. If he didn’t know how to do a particular effect, he looked it up online and figured out how to do it. You’d never be able to tell that from the film, though. The effects aren’t just stunning, however, they’re also prolific. The tanks? The signs warning about the aliens? The explosions? Edwards added them all in post production, but they’re often so subtle that many of them won’t even register as special effects at all– and that’s one of the greatest compliments you can ever pay a sci-fi film.
“This year’s District 9 or not, Monsters is still a must see movie. I’m sure a good deal of people have been anticipating it thanks to all the festival buzz, but I’m also sure that it’s not on most people’s radar. If you’re in the former group, then I’m yet another person confirming that it’s as special a film as everyone else has been saying. If you’re in the latter camp, however, I kind of envy you. I’d love to see the movie without knowing anything about it all over again.
Having said that, I’m actually not sure what has me more excited to see Monsters again, the above trailer or the below (spoiler free) making-of clip:
It’s been a long while since we’ve had news of a Bob Marley biopic. Four years ago, widow Rita Marley was trying to whip up a film, which then fell into the ether until 2008, when it was a battle of the features as her biopic came back just as Martin Scorsese was looking to helm a documentary. Marty had rights to the music, Rita’s project fizzled, Marty left the other project, and that was that. No Marley on the big screen.
Now it’s time for a new reggae fight to theaters, this time from an Emmy-nominated director from the UK.
Deadline reports that Jenny Ash (America: The Story of Us) is developing her own biopic that will focus on Bob Marley’s life in London in 1977. The year was a big one for Marley; he’d left Jamaica after someone tried to kill him, performed his big gig at the Rainbow Theatre, mingled with the punk rock Sex Pistols, and also discovered the cancer that ultimately killed him in 1981. Around this time he also had an affair with Cindy Breakspeare, who had become Miss World. Like most biopics that get cooking, Ash wants to focus on the romance and sees the story as a triangle between Bob, Rita, and Cindy, the latter of whom Ash has spent time with.
But, just like before, it could all come down to the music. They don’t have the rights to the music yet, and the way Deadline describes it, it looks like Rita is once again in control of the tunes; they think Rita’s “antipathy to Cindy” could pose a problem when it comes to getting access. Even more, I bet there’s a possibility that her project finds new life again. 2006, 2008 … it’s prime time for the third try.
Are you itching for a Marley love triangle? Wishing it was more about the music? Wishing it wouldn’t be at all?
If it’s the middle choice, I’d suggest patience. Once one biopic gets going, others are sure to follow.
Over at the excellent Los Angeles Times blog 24 Frames, reporter Steven Zeitchik looks at why a Salt sequel might or might not happen. The stars, director, and producer were cagey about a sequel during their press tour, despite the fact that, as Zeitchik puts it, “its ending was left open wider than Red Square.” Studios see female leads as a risk, especially in a male-dominated genre, but Jolie is a wild card when it comes to action. If anything, Jolie’s dramatic work has been less commercially successful than her action films, especially since previous action flicks she’s been in — Wanted and the Lara Croft series, for example — already had built-in audiences.
Zeitchik points out the many possible roadblocks for Salt, including the packed schedules of Angelina Jolie and director Phillip Noyce. The bigger question marks are Sony and Salt’s producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura and whether or not Salt will make money in international territories.
But my answer to the question posed in the title of this post is, “Hell, yes!” Valid complaints were raised about some of Salt’s faults, but I was too busy watching Angelia Jolie show why she’s one of the best action stars out there. Sure, a friend next to me astutely guessed what Salt would do or who was who as the movie progressed, and some of the dialogue is canned, but I didn’t notice because Evelyn Salt was busy using a maxi-pad to bandage her wounds.
Between Noyce and Jolie, I’d see Salt sally forth again and again in theaters, and not just because I like the idea of a lady kicking butt. Angelina Jolie is at her finest doing action, and the stunts choreographed with longtime collaborator Simon Crane are a thing to behold. Twisty spy thrillers are a guilty pleasure that I enjoy indulging, and in a rather disappointing summer, Salt was one of the few movies I was looking forward to; luckily, it didn’t disappoint.
Would you tune in for more Salt-y adventures, or have you seen enough of Evelyn’s hijinks? Is she a second-rate Jason Bourne or one you’d pay to see again?
Michael Cera assumes the role of geek king — one more time — in this surprisingly entertaining adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels from Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright. Despite the mountain of potential cliche and deja-vu, Wright finds novel ground, thanks to a potent visual imagination, a complete understanding of the genre and a sincere heart that pushes through the veneer of cool.
Starring: Michael Cera, Alison Pill, Ellen Wong, Anna Kendrick, Kieran Culkin and Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Rating: Three and a half stars out of five
The world certainly did have an axe to grind with Scott Pilgrim — even before the first frames of this Edgar Wright movie hit the screen. It’s not a specific quibble; it’s a question of deja-vu.
For starters, did the world really need another movie featuring gangly Canadian nerd icon Michael Cera in an awkward romantic lead? Moreover, did we need another adaptation of a graphic novel that’s attained cult status? And really, are we so culturally bored that any film featuring a hip soundtrack and some clever video game-inspired special effects will have us drooling at the corners of our slack mouths?
Even though Ghost World came out close to a decade ago, and the pulp pages of comic books appeal to a decidedly niche market, Wright proves there’s still ample terrain to explore and exploit in the ink-stained genre with this reel that gets the tone spot on.
Wright, the director of Shaun of the Dead, brings so much raw energy to this potentially tired mix that you have to surrender to the wackiness within the first act, because it’s delivered without irritating affectation.
Even Cera, who’s awfully close to parodying his own image, finds a way to transcend his own persona by reformulating his goofiness. He strips away the underlying sense of geek ennui, and, in turn, clears the way for his character to assume the dimensions of Greek myth.
Just in case you aren’t up on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s oeuvre, Scott Pilgrim is a modern character from modern times who shares a lot in common with Perseus, the demi-god of Greek legend.
He appears to be a complete mortal, and suffers the slings and arrows of failed romance, but Scott Pilgrim has a weird brand of super-strength that emerges whenever he’s forced to face off against his enemies.
In this case, those enemies are the seven evil exes who once courted his new girlfriend, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
Without any long, drawn-out explanation or primer in Hellenic narrative, Wright simply throws us in the tub of make-believe with an inflatable raft and lets us make the call: Do we want to go for this ride or not?
It’s an easy question to answer, because Wright decks out the screen with so much colour, such fun characters and so many great T-shirts, the mix is undeniably seductive.
Best of all, Wright recognizes his entire movie rests on the flimsy shoulders of wilful suspension of disbelief, but he makes no apologies for a single flight of fancy.
At one point, as Scott is sucked into yet another showdown with a former love, he looks to his gay roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin) and asks: “You’re seeing this, right?”
Wallace responds with a deadpan remark and urges him to fight.
The result is a movie that seems to operate on two completely different levels at the same time. In one plane of experience, Scott Pilgrim is just an ordinary guy who plays bass in a basement band. On another plane, he’s Pilgrim, a righteous avenger who does battle with the forces from the underworld with all the combat aplomb of a video game-addicted teen.
Wright, borrowing from O’Malley, successfully fuses all the pop-culture references with bits and pieces of pagan myth, because he’s not obsessed with the logical weight of the story.
When Scott suddenly assumes the form of a Mortal Kombat-inspired avatar, Wright immediately changes the frame and the look of the film to match what we’re about to see. Even the opening corporate salvo of planet Earth turning in space has been recreated in crude pixel form to give us the right taste of time before the movie even begins.
When things are this zany, you have to surrender and giggle — which is a good place to enjoy obvious entertainments such as these. Perhaps the biggest surprise in this silly and satisfying mix was the fact Scott Pilgrim got to keep his Canadian passport for the voyage.
The graphic novel is a Canadian export, printed in Portland by Oni Press, but the production money behind this movie is largely American, thanks to Universal’s involvement. So are many of the stars, including the Oscar-nominated Anna Kendrick, who plays Scott’s sister, and Culkin, who keeps our logic-based inquiries at bay with declarative statements about the mutable nature of reality — and his attraction to men.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure there was enough novel ground left to tread in the world of offbeat comics and geek chic, but Wright proves genre cliche can be reinvented with imagination, self-awareness and enough courage to be sincere, when it might have been easier to slip into a cocoon of sarcasm.
An all-star cast of action-movie icons headline Sylvester Stallone’s explosive action thriller about a group of hard-nosed mercenaries who are double-crossed during a treacherous mission. Approached by the shadowy Church (Bruce Willis) to overthrow tyrannical South American dictator General Gaza (David Zayas) and restore order to the troubled island country of Vilena, stoic soldier of fortune Barney Ross (Stallone) rounds up an unstoppable team that includes former SAS soldier and blade specialist Lee Christmas (Jason Statham); martial arts expert Yin (Jet Li); trigger-happy Hale Caesar (Terry Crews); and cerebral demolitions expert Toll Road (Randy Couture). Traveling to Vilena on a reconnaissance mission with his old pal Christmas, Barney meets their local contact, a cagey guerrilla fighter named Sandra (Giselle Itie), and together the trio scopes out the landscape.. It isn’t long before Barney and Christmas have discovered that their actual target is not General Gaza but James Monroe (Eric Roberts), a former CIA operative who has recently gone rogue. Monroe won’t be easy to get to either, because his hulking bodyguard Paine (Steve Austin) is a force to be reckoned with. When their mission is compromised, Barney and Christmas are forced to flee, leaving Sandra behind to face almost certain death. But Barney isn’t the kind of soldier to abandon a mission, or a hostage, and now in order to get the job done he’ll need the help of his old crew.
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, David Zayas, Giselle Itie, Terry Crews, Nick Searcy; Directed by: Sylvester Stallone
Based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Oni Press comic book of the same name, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World follows the eponymous slacker rocker on his colorful quest to defeat his dream girl’s seven evil ex-boyfriends. Twenty-two-year-old Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) may not have a job, but rocking the bass for his band, Sex Bob-omb, is a tough job unto itself. When Scott locks eyes with Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), he knows she’s the girl he wants to grow old with. But Ramona has some serious baggage; her supercharged exes rue the thought of her being with another man, and they’ll crush any guy who gives her a second glance. Now, in order to win Ramona’s heart, Scott will do battle with everyone from vegan-powered rock gods to sinister skateboarders, never losing sight of his gorgeous goal as he pummels his way to victory. Shaun of the Dead’s Edgar Wright directs the film from a script he penned with Michael Bacall. Superhero veterans Chris Evans and Brandon Routh co-star in the action comedy as two of the seven ex-boyfriends.
Cast: Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Satya Bhabha, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Alison Pill, Brandon Routh, Johnny Simmons, Mark Webber, Mae Whitman, Ellen Wong; Directed by: Edgar Wright
Back in 1987, in the golden age of action heroes, the horror film Predator featured the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura as muscular mercenaries fighting space aliens in the Amazon. Now, “Predator” has been remade, as Predators and the space aliens are now at war with Adrien Brody, who won an Oscar in 2002 for playing the emaciated piano player persecuted by the Nazis in “The Pianist“
Thus the world of the action hero has changed: Bulked-up Oscar winners are racing through the world’s jungles with submachine guns, while aging bodybuilders and athletes are going into politics.
Nor is Brody alone. Earlier this summer, the hunky, swashbuckling hero of “Prince of Persia” was played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who received an Oscar nod for “Brokeback Mountain“. Next year’s “Green Hornet” will star Seth Rogen, the amiably chunky co-star of such comedies as “The Forty Year Old Virgin” and “Superbad“. The current titleholder as World’s Favourite Superhero is Robert Downey Jr., who received an Oscar nomination in 1992 for “Chaplin“, but now thrills crowds as “Iron Man” and — for a change of pace — an unusually athletic “Sherlock Holmes“. Oscar nominee, Edward Norton (“American History X” and “Primal Fear”) has announced he will not return as “The Hulk” in “The Avengers”, but the rumour is that he may be replaced by Mark Ruffalo (Independent Spirit Award for “You Can Count On Me”.)
Where have you gone, Sylvester Stallone?
Nowhere, actually. At 64, Stallone is reuniting his action-hero pals — Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren — along with some of the new guys, such as Jason Statham, in “The Expendables“, a movie that plays on the image of the golden age icons. There weren’t many Oscar winners among them, let alone nominees for Independent Spirit Awards, but bicep for bicep, they could kick Adrien Brody’s butt. If Schwarzenegger had been a piano player in 1940s Poland, he would have won the Second World War single-handedly.
Today they’re, well, expendable: Stallone and Schwarzenegger and the others of a more muscular era — a time when an Austrian accent or a mouthful of marbles didn’t stand in the way of saving the world — have been replaced by a more lithe and athletic model. Statham is a throwback to that era, but the other Great White Hopes of the 21st Century, names like Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson, have faded into jokey takeoffs or children’s movies, where their size and fearsome demeanour are played for laughs.
That’s also a danger with action films, of course, and the reason why “The Expendables” appears to come with the ironic self-awareness that has made the genre so ripe for parody: the muscled men mowing down the enemy while remaining invulnerable themselves.
The action heroes of the early days of cinema were performers such as Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Errol Flynn, dashing heroes who bounded around historic sets, outsmarting evil kings or sorcerers. They had a pre-computer athleticism that has been replaced today by the martial-arts suppleness of Jackie Chan or Jet Li, who is also in “The Expendables”. Sometimes they were cowboys, like John Wayne, an early example of the Large Man, whose power is that he doesn’t get hit by bullets, but never misses himself, an ability that has been passed down through the ages.
The action hero as muscleman was a function of the biblical epic or the historic fable: 1950s beefcake Steve Reeves, say, flexing his muscles as Hercules or — to a newer generation — Schwarzenegger looming ominously as “Conan the Barbarian”. But in the new age of big special effects, he came in other forms as well: suave (Sean Connery and the other Bonds), smart (Matt Damon and Will Smith), absurd (Steven Segal, Jean-Claude Van Damme, et al.), retro (Harrison Ford), insane (Mel Gibson, then and now), or smirking (the Law of Bruce Willis).
Rambo intensity gave way to Neo metaphysics: The hero who could defy gravity and dodge bullets was a creation of both special effects and a new kind of heroism, the bravery that comes at the edge of an existential void. Humphrey Bogart — a kind of action hero in the 1940s, when they were noir and fought with fists — stared into a glass of booze and wondered why, of all the gin joints in the world, she had to walk into his; Keanu Reeves stared at a blank manufactured world and wonders at the very nature of reality.
Meanwhile, almost when no one was looking, a new kind of tough guy invaded the action genre, and it wasn’t a guy at all. Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley kicked alien butt in “Alien“; Uma Thurman kicked martial-arts butt in the “Kill Bill” film;, Sarah Connor kicked time-travel butt in the “Terminator” films. Last month, Angelina Jolie took over a role that was meant to be played by Tom Cruise — a part-time action star who fatally injured his career jumping from a couch — and kicked CIA butt in “Salt“.
The result is a confusing time for the action genre, which is suspended between two eras: The no-neck he-men are giving way to actual actors and (gulp!) women. The development has created films that are more flexible, mashups of action and irony of the sort you get when a Michael Cera, say, goes all tough-guy in “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World“. The classic action stars have, through age and popular taste, become figures of nostalgia.
“My men are not expendable,” said Schwarzenegger in the original “Predator”, but, 13 years later, that’s exactly what they are.