Marvel has weaved its magic once again with Doctor Strange, perhaps a lesser known comic entity in the MCU but seemingly just important as the rest.
In this origin story, we meet Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a brilliant neurosurgeon who knows it. He is never shy to show off his considerable skills, sometimes to the detriment of his colleagues, like his former flame, Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams). However, Dr. Strange is taken down more than a peg when a terrible car accident leaves his hands virtually unusable, and he watches his career fade quickly away.
Desperate to regain his stature once again, he embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts – a world mostly hidden to the naked eye, but which is just as alive – and dangerous – as anything the Avengers have to face. Strange soon learns the trick of the trade by the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and becomes a masterful sorcerer, as he is drawn into a battle with a rogue disciple Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), who naturally wants to end the world as we know it.
In the thriller The Accountant, Ben Affleck stretches to play Christian Wolff, a math savant who can uncook books like nobody’s business – and has coped being on the autistic spectrum with his own certain set of skills (Read our review).
At the press day, we learned eight things about Affleck’s performance and how he prepared:
On the challenges of this role:
Ben Affleck: It was a very challenging role and it required a lot of research. [Director] Gavin [O’Connor] and I went around and spent time with people who were at various places on the autism spectrum, and observed behavior and talked to them and engaged with them in everything from what their daily life is like to what type of movie they’d like to see about someone with autism. We got a lot of different responses, but really, the value was in grounding the guy and making him like real people we had met and seen in real life, rather than just an imagined version of what it might be. It was a cobbling together of observed behaviors and character traits from people we met. That’s what I anchored the performance in. Continue reading How to Interview: Ben Affleck on “The Accountant”→
In the hands of director Timur Bekmambetov, this re-imagining ofBen-Hur is true epic action adventure wrapped up in a classic story of brotherly love, betrayal, forgiveness and finally redemption.
ScreenPicks talked with the men of the film – Jack Huston (Judah Ben-Hur), Toby Kebbell (Messala), Rodrigo Santoro (Jesus) and Morgan Freeman (Ilderim), and learned these nine things about making Ben-Hur.
On apprehension of doing another Ben-Hur:
Morgan Freeman: None! All the more reason to do it. It’s a re-imagining of a story that’s already been told three or four times. At least twice before in movies. I worked with Timur before. I know he’s very innovative when it comes to special effects and stuff like that. I couldn’t see how it was not going to be an exciting adventure.
On playing Judah Ben-Hur:
Jack Huston: I initially went after the role of Messala, which was interesting because I went and sat down with Timur and in my rather impassioned way spoke about Messala. Timur being Timur just sat and wrote everything down. Then later he said to me, when I’d gone out for a few auditions, “I think you might be right for Judah. I think you’re our Judah.” Then I went and tested and I somehow got the role. He said later to me, “The reason I felt that about you as Judah is not only did you feel like Judah to me but it was the way you spoke about Messala. You spoke about Messala with such love that he was never the bad guy to you.” He said, “For you two to have that relationship, it had to stem from real love between two brothers, and that’s how Judah felt about Messala.” Inadvertently, it was a beautiful way into the character, because the people who love you the most sometimes are the ones who hurt you the most. For this movie to work, that had to stay true, right to the very end. For the redemptive moment, for that last bit of forgiveness, you need to feel these brothers’ love. I was like, “Hah, Timur, you’re a smart dude. You got this. I feel good.”Continue reading How to Interview: 9 Things to Know About “Ben-Hur”→
Laika Animation’s stop-motion technique is truly something to behold. With films like Coraline,ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls, you are amazed by the amount of effort it takes to make the movies, just as you instantly forget it as you get wrapped up in the storytelling.
Their latest efffort, Kubo and the Two Strings is no different, but is also the studio’s most ambitious and beautiful film to date, a lush feast for the eyes coupled with a story rich with culture. Laika’s CEO, Travis Knight, makes his directorial debut with the film, and it’s easy to see the passion he and his Laika team have poured into it.
Kubo and the Two Strings tells the story of a young Japanese boy named Kubo (Game of Thrones’ Art Parkinson), whose capacity for love and imagination has no bounds. He cares for his traumatized mother in a cave above the sea, but in the day, he goes to the local village to tell stories about his late father, a great warrior named Hounsou — stories his mother has told him. But it’s how Kubo tells these tales that keeps the village folk enthralled, using his magical musical instrument and origami to bring the characters to life.
Kubo, however, is soon confronted with his mysterious past, one his mother has tried to keep him safe from. Once unleashed, Kubo is forced to go on a quest, at his mother’s behest, to find his father’s magical armor in order to protect him and defeat a vengeful spirit wanting to take Kubo away forever. Along the way, Kubo finds quest companions, Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), who each protect and serve Kubo is strange ways.
Disney is just on a roll. Period. Their latest effort transforming one of their old-school animated films into a live-action gem is Pete’s Dragon – and it’s a poignant family film for the ages.
Set somewhere in the Pacific Northwest (but actually shot in the lush forests of New Zealand), Pete’s Dragon tells the simple story of Pete (Oakes Fegley), who finds himself stranded in the forest at very young age but finds a big, soft, green furry dragon named Elliott, and the two live peacefully together deep in the forest and away from civilization.
Until, that is, a kindly park ranger, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), discovers Pete and takes him into the local town. Pete doesn’t necessarily want to be “rescued,” insisting he has been well taken care of by his friend, Elliott. Of course, none of the adults believe him, except maybe Grace’s dad, Meacham (Robert Redford), who claims he, too, has seen Elliott a long time ago. Only the daughter, Natalie (Oona Laurence), of a local lumberman, Jack (Wes Bentley), believes Pete’s story. Needless to say, they all end up meeting the sweet dragon, and while some are fearful, it’s Pete and Elliott’s true bond and friendship that prevails and wins them, and us, over.
The action-packed Star Trek Beyond, the third installment in the new franchise, completely embodies the original series in tone and heart, and stands as the best effort in this reboot series to date.
The 2009 Star Trek introduced those iconic sci-fi characters – Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Bones (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and Sulu (John Cho) – as young upstarts joining Starfleet Command, and then cleverly skewed the timeline to create an alternate universe from the original. The 2013 follow-up, Star Trek Into Darkness, however, seemed to bite off more than it could chew with an overly convoluted plot and unnecessary throwbacks, particularly in the way they brought back Khan.
Now, with Star Trek Beyond, they’ve worked out the kinks and have delivered a solid film that is, to date, most closely attuned to the beloved 1960s series. Under the guidance of director Justin Lin (who takes over the reins from J.J. Abrams), and armed with a superb script from Simon Pegg (aka Scotty) and Doug Jung, this is an action-adventure in which the crew of the Enterprise have been on their five-year mission to keep peace in the galaxy but find themselves stranded on a remote planet where they have to stop a bad guy (with a twist to the Star Trek past) from wreaking havoc. Simple and effective.
If you’re human, then you’ve been afraid of the dark at least one time in your life – and the latest horror film Lights Out plays right into that fear.
Swedish filmmaker David F. Sandberg, who, along with wife Lotta Losten, first created the Lights Out story two years ago as a short film for a competition. That film went viral on YouTube with over one million views – and naturally, Hollywood came calling.
Sandberg had to flesh out the story a bit to make his first feature film, so he centered it on Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), a young woman who realizes her little half-brother, Martin (Gabriel Bateman), is experiencing the same events that once tested her sanity. Rebecca works to unlock the truth behind the terror, which brings her face to face with an entity who cannot survive in the light and has an unnatural attachment to their mother, Sophie (Maria Bello).
The great love between Tarzan and his Jane is one of literature’s most enduring romances. The strong ape man falls for the beautiful American girl, living in Africa with her father. Tarzan marries Jane, and the two move to England to live as the Claytons, Lord and Lady Greystoke. Except civilized life isn’t really for them, so they return to Africa to live out the rest of their days.
In the newest version of the classic story The Legend of Tarzan, Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie bring the iconic characters to life and display a real chemistry, making Tarzan and Jane’s love affair very romantic and oh-so-sexy. When they are called back to Africa (under false pretenses they soon discover), it becomes a rescue mission for Tarzan to save his love – even though Jane does a pretty good job fending for herself.
Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book The BFG – about the friendship between an 11-year-old girl and a giant – has been brought to glorious life by really the only man who could do it justice: director Steven Spielberg.
As the tale tells, orphan Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) encounters the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance) who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kindhearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because, unlike them, he refuses to eat children. The two then must come up with a plan to stop the ogre-ish giants from stealing children, which includes help from Queen Elizabeth II (Penelope Wilton).
Returning to the fantastical realm, it’s familiar territory for Spielberg, who once again excels at bringing heart and imagination to the big screen, all through Dahl’s keen insights into childhood sensibilities.
As a re-imagining of the 1977 animated Disney classic, this Pete’s Dragon uses all the great CGI techniques to bring the story of Pete and his friendly, furry dragon, Elliott, to life.
As the official synopsis reads, “For years, old wood carver Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford) has delighted local children with his tales of the fierce dragon that resides deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. To his daughter, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), who works as a forest ranger, these stories are little more than tall tales… until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley). Pete is a mysterious 10-year-old with no family and no home who claims to live in the woods with a giant, green dragon named Elliot. And from Pete’s descriptions, Elliot seems remarkably similar to the dragon from Mr. Meacham’s stories. With the help of Natalie (Oona Laurence), an 11-year-old girl whose father Jack (Wes Bentley) owns the local lumber mill, Grace sets out to determine where Pete came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this dragon.”
Watch the trailer!
At a recent presentation for Pete’s Dragon, ScreenPicks was able to view four clips from the movie, which were each fantastic in showing us just enough of the story to make us want more. Redford’s Mr. Meacham has a twinkle in his eye when he is telling stories about a “dragon” in the forest, while Howard as Grace (who looks a lot like Redford, so good casting) is kind and patient with her father. But when she and Meacham see Elliott for the time, tears will come to your eyes. Continue reading How to Watch: New ‘Pete’s Dragon’ Trailer for All the Right Fuzzy Feels→