Posted on Sunday November 3, 2013, 21:59 by Nev Pierce
This is the story of a Little Favour made of big ones, a personal trainer with a gift for storytelling and a British actor proving he can kick ass like a Yank.
Of course, Benedict Cumberbatch has already battled beyond the stars, but Trek is fantasy, whereas the brisk, punchy Little Favour – apparently the highest selling short on iTunes, even before release – is a resolutely contemporary piece.
Cumberbatch plays Wallace, an ex-serviceman haunted by his past and pulled back into violence when a former comrade-in-arms (Colin Salmon) asks him for the titular kindness. Revealing much more would be to spoil the surprises of a short that pulls off the rare trick of leaving you both satisfied and wanting more.
Writer/director Patrick Victor Monroe has known Cumberbatch for a few years – introduced by mutual friend Tom Hardy – but they got to know each other better when Monroe trained him to play Khan. “Because I was bu...
Posted on Monday October 22, 2012, 18:48 by James White
3D as a whole is still a controversial topic, and is rarely more divisive when considering older films converted to 3D. But with its new, 3D Blu-ray release of 2004 Will Smith sci-fi thriller i, Robot, 20th Century Fox seems committed to winning over naysayers and giving 3D TV owners the best experience possible from a film that, while it wasn’t shot in the format, definitely appears to benefit from it.
Empire was invited to the Fox lot to meet some of the tech team involved in the new conversion and to hear how the process works. We’ll spare you the talk of different layers and avoiding “cardboard issues”, but suffice to say a lot of care and attention has been lavished on this, utilising some hardware that promises to make future releases much more impressive.
And while the intent is naturally to boost the number of 3D Blu-Ray discs on the market to encourage us consumers to buy them, that wasn’t the main focus on this job. “It's no...
The latest Madagascar outing was first, with co-directors Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon and Eric Darnell bringing 12 years of friendship to bear as they each claimed to have invented the best elements of the franchise and running us through the previous adventures of New York Zoo escapees Alex (Ben Stiller), Gloria (Pinkett Smith), Marty, (Chris Rock) and Melman (David Schwimmer).
After showing some scenes and introducing the new characters incl...
Posted on Monday January 16, 2012, 04:32 by James White
So that was the Golden Globes 2012, then. Frankly, the experience of watching this year’s event was less one of blogging, more one of slogging.
Though everyone was wondering what wacky, insulting antics Ricky Gervais would get up to as host this year, it would appear that the Hollywood Foreign Press had actually found a way to insert a tiny poison bomb into Gervais’ leg, which they’d threatened to detonate if he strayed too far from the bounds of his cheeky chirpy, smug-for-pay persona. So we were treated to far fewer cracks at the expense of celebrities, and seemingly more at his bosses and NBC, the American network the show was on: "Tonight you get Britain's biggest comedian hosting the world's second biggest awards show on America's third biggest network. Sorry, it's fourth. For any of you don't know, the Golden Globes are just like the Oscars, but without all that esteem." And comparing the ceremonies again: "The Golden Globes are to the Oscars what Kim Kardash...
Posted on Thursday November 10, 2011, 03:12 by James White
Titanic is coming back to our screens this April in a shiny, new 3D conversion. And like an approaching iceberg, there’s nothing you can do to stop it. But James Cameron, the man who wrangled the giant ship on to screens to huge success back in 1998, wants you to be happy with the idea of revisiting Rose, Jack and the rest. So he showed 18 minutes of 3D-retooled footage, and then took the stage at 20th Century Fox’s Zanuck screening room. for a round of his usual candid showmanship to explain why.
“We get to bring Titanic back to the big screen after having been gone for 15 years. There's a whole generation of people who have never seen the film in a movie theatre. I'm a strong believer in the theatrical experience in general, but specifically for this film. When people commit three hours plus a little bit of their lives to sit in a dark room and share this journey with these characters, they find that it's a very powerful, emotional experience a...
This time last month, Rango was a project we, like most almost everyone else, had only the most rudimentary knowledge of: an animated film being directed by Gore Verbinski, with Johnny Depp providing key vocal talent. Then, a few weeks back, the teaser trailer landed. Which was, to be honest, unhelpful. You know the one: that shot of a desert road, with a wind up fish (out of water, and in mid-air) slowly making its way from one side of frame to the other, which didn’t really elicit much more of a response from anyone, beyond “Okaaaaaay.”
Thank your chosen deity then that Paramount chose last week to launch the far more exciting first proper trailer. Now we talkin’. Why? Because just twenty four hours earlier, we’d been at the film’s production offices, ...
Posted on Thursday June 17, 2010, 16:45 by Helen O'Hara
It was announced today that Stephen Daldry (The Hours, Billy Elliott, The Reader) and Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire) will be in charge of the Opening Ceremony for the London Olympics in 2012. Obviously it's nice to hear that two of Blighty's finest will be overseeing the shindig, and will be in charge of making it both spectacular in execution and awesome in conception. But what can we expect to see from their Olympics adventure? We input all the data into Empire's steam-powered computing machine and odds extractor, and here's what came up as possible inclusions:
1. We open with two security guards chasing Paula Radcliffe, dressed as Virginia Woolf, around the stadium.
Posted on Thursday April 1, 2010, 17:00 by James White
A couple of days ago, Empire was invited into a magical realm where dreams become reality, charismatic pirates cross the ocean and Nic Cage can be a shaggy-haired sorcerer. Not a fictional world of powerful wizards – just one powerful producer. Yes, we stopped by Jerry Bruckheimer’s office.
We were there to see some footage from one of Bruckheimer’s big summer blockbusters, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, which sees Cage’s plasma ball-conjuring mystic Balthazar Blake finally tracking down the person he thinks can become as powerful as Merlin himself. That person happens to be Dave Stutler, played by Judd Apatow protégé and rising comedy star Jay Baruchel, who between work on She’s Out Of My League and How To Train Your Dragon, is all over films released this year.
But Blake’s quest will not be an easy one. His arch nemesis, Maxim Horvath (portrayed with suitable snark and snarl by Alfred Molina), has es...
Posted on Monday March 1, 2010, 09:27 by Nev Pierce
Death is the villain you can't beat. Infection is the villain you can beat, slice, mash and shoot repeatedly in the head.
Infection makes for great cinema. OK, infection makes for OK cinema, mostly... with occasional stabs at greatness. But it's spreading.
Today, you have a choice in your Disease Of The Week movie.
There's Extraordinary Measures, which reviewers tell us is essentially 105 minutes of Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser trying to out-scowl each other in the quest to cure Pompe disease (something to do with over-spending until your football club is on the verge of bankruptcy).
Or you can catch The Crazies, in which an accidentally applied government bio-weapon turns a town of hick Yanks into fury-fuelled simpletons who keep trying to kill each other. Yes, apparently, this is different from usual.
The Crazies is a remake of George Romero's '70s shocker. Not only has Romero made - in Night, Dawn & Day Of The Dead - three of the best films ever about death (ea...
Posted on Saturday February 13, 2010, 20:55 by Damon Wise
It's been interesting watching the reactions to Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island, from the trailer alone. People seem to forget that artists have a fractious relationship with their times, that sometimes their work arrives out of synch with public taste, and that sometimes their art takes chances that even their most loyal followers won't accept. The irony, of course, is that nobody knows this better than Scorsese, who has conducted a personal journey through the film cultures of three very cine-literate countries (Italy and the US, with Britain on its way) and directed a milestone documentary (No Direction Home) about the musician, poet and electric folklorist Bob Dylan, himself no stranger to controversy and public questioning. Along the way, the song remains the same; sometimes a contemporary audience isn't always sitting in the right seats to judge.
So what has Scorsese done to blot his copybook, in the wake of his most successful commercial run since the 70s and early 80s? Well...
Like any decision regarding the Man of Steel, it’s bound to be a controversial one: the character has been around for so long and so many people (including Richard Donner and, more recently, Bryan Singer) have tried their hand at making a movie based on him, to varying levels of success, that no one can seemingly please everyone.
But Nolan has a solid, proven track record with DC/Warners’ other heavy hitter, Batman and while he has no plans to ditch Gotham City for Metropolis (he has his brother and David Goyer are currently working on the scr...
Posted on Thursday February 4, 2010, 10:41 by Ian Freer
As a huge Spielberg-phile in general and Jaws-freak in particular, I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of producer David Brown aged 93 this week.
It seems to me that Brown was a dying breed of gentleman producer. As Ron Howard, who worked with Brown on Cocoon, put it Brown was "less the wheeler-dealer than the great judge of content. He knows that story drives everything. He loves writing, and he know what ideas will translate and what won't." Which didn’t mean that Brown wasn’t above the odd gimmick or two. Spielberg had made up some Jaws T-shirts at the start of production. When the director turned up for a meeting with Brown and producing partner Richard Zanuck with every intention to quit, the pair were sporting the Spielberg-sponsored Jaws T-shirts, guilt-tripping the director into returning to work.
Having the nous and foresight to give Spielberg his feature film directing break The Sugarland Express, Brown supported Spielberg...
Posted on Tuesday February 2, 2010, 19:31 by Helen O'Hara
Helen: Well, here we are – and it feels like it’s a pretty predictable mix. Avatar and The Hurt Locker lead the way, both with nine, with Inglourious Basterds, Precious and Up In The Air snapping at their heels. This year’s awards feel suspiciously like a two horse race between Bigelow and Cameron’s movies (will Oscar reward the money, the scale and technical innovation or the sheer ability?) but perhaps I am unwisely discounting Tarantino and Reitman too early. Precious, I feel, is a lock only for Best Supporting Actress, which will go to Mo’Nique or there is no justice.
But let’s focus on Best Picture to begin with. We can discount any film that didn’t also get a Best Director nod from winning, I think. So goodbye (but well done for joining the party) District 9, The Blind Side (definitely the WTF nomination there), An Education, A Serious Man and (the mig...
Posted on Friday January 29, 2010, 11:54 by Chris Hewitt
The scene: The Empire offices, Friday. Chris Hewitt is leading a news meeting (yes, we have news meetings).
Chris: So, Miramax has been closed down by Disney.
Helen O’Hara: We should do something on that. A celebration or something.
Chris: A celebration? Of Miramax? Are you mad? What have they ever given us?
Pause. Ali Plumb: [meekly] Quentin Tarantino?
Ali: Quentin Tarantino?
Chris: Oh yeah, Quentin Tarantino. After all, Harvey and Bob Weinstein were the guys who took a chance on him with Reservoir Dogs, and then partnered with him throughout his illustrious career. You could make a case that Miramax is the House That Quentin Built, so yeah, they did give us that.
Phil de Semlyen: And they introduced world cinema to a wider audience.
Posted on Friday January 29, 2010, 02:11 by Damon Wise
Taking a break from the Sundance marathon, I found myself watching the SAG awards telecast on Sunday night, which is actually a much bigger event that I'd ever realised. Quite a few things went through my mind as I watched, one of them being that I really think the Oscar race is taking shape now, and, if you haven't already put your money on Jeff Bridges for Best Actor, I think you should do so now, ditto for Mo'Nique (Precious) and Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds), since they too seem to have a lock on their respective supporting-actor categories. But the thing that surprised me most was the award for Best Ensemble cast; like many others, I'd have bet the farm on Nine, for pedigree alone, so I was actually quite shocked – in a good way – to see the guys from Inglourious Basterds win the day. It proved to me that there are still some upsets possible along the way.
So this got me to thinking about the upsets I'd like to see. For Best Acto...
Posted on Thursday January 28, 2010, 12:13 by Chris Hewitt
For my money, Shane Black may just be the best commercial screenwriter in Hollywood. From the first two Lethal Weapons through to The Monster Squad to The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Last Boy Scout and his wonderful directorial debut, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, nobody else in Hollywood – not even Tarantino – boasts Black's knack for tweaking genre tropes with an ear for tough-guy dialogue worthy of Chandler, Ellroy, Leonard.
So, naturally, I’m delighted by the news that he’s set to reteam with Mel Gibson on the spy thriller, Cold Warrior. And so should you. In case you need some persuasion, here are ten lines of dialogue that will make you glad that Black is back…
1. “Touch me again, and I’ll kill ya.” Bruce Willis warns Kim Coates’ slap-happy henchman of the consequences of violating his personal bubble in The Last Boy Scout. It’s a laconic threat worthy of Bob Mitc...
Posted on Wednesday January 20, 2010, 07:30 by Helen O'Hara
So this morning we've learned that the next Spider-Man film will have a budget of about $80 million. That puts it on a lower budget than Sherlock Holmes, lower than X-Men Origins: Wolverine (by nearly half). Heck, it's less than Fast & Furious, which cost about $85m, and only just more (not adjusting for inflation) than the first X-Men movie. So what does this mean for the film, and might Spidey have been better going for balls-out 3D instead?
Let's look at what the budget means first. That sort of money certainly implies that we're going to see less action - or at least less newly-developed, complicated, CG action. Wall-crawling and web-shooting is probably in; multiple trips around the city by web, massive fire effects, large things collapsing and CG character work* is probably out. The first X-Men movie is the one to think about here: the action there was pretty small and scattered until the final show-down (which would barely make the opening reel of...