Jan. 16, 2013 | 2:57 p.m.
The visual effects world has never been the glamorous side of Hollywood, but the artists at Weta Digital charged with creating the grotesque Goblin King in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” surely have the best claim to hard labor in this year’s Oscar race. In order to craft the character’s uniquely bloated and beastly look, the team at Weta examined medical journal images of herpes, boils, gangrene, tumors and rashes. They worked overtime to make the Goblin King’s bulbous neck goiter jiggle just so, and to conserve the subtleties of an alternately comic and menacing motion-capture performance delivered by Australian actor Barry Humphries (better known — minus goiter, plus purple wig — as Dame Edna). “He’s a giant, evil goblin,” said Weta visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri. “It was all about making him as disgusting as possible, and fine tuning […]
Dec. 18, 2012 | 11:41 a.m.
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” broke a December box-office record by collecting $84.8 million over its debut weekend, but Hero Complex didn’t need the figures to know that J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” prequel would be popular. The first of Peter Jackson’s planned three-part adaptation of Tolkien’s landmark 1937 novel, “Unexpected Journey” chronicles the initial leg of Bilbo Baggins’ trek over the Misty Mountains to help Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and his band of dwarf followers reclaim their lost treasure and their homeland. The second movie, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” is due next year, with the final chapter, “The Hobbit: There and Back Again,” due for release in 2014. We’ve counted down to the film’s theatrical release with exclusive interviews and photo galleries. Now that the spoiler-wary have had a chance to see “An Unexpected Journey” in […]
Dec. 11, 2012 | 2:10 p.m.
“‘I’ve always tried to make movies that pull the audience out of their seats. … I want audiences to be transported.” That was Peter Jackson speaking earlier this year about what he was hoping to achieve with his return to Middle-earth. With the first installment in that epic saga, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” set to open Friday, we thought it might be fun to offer you the chance to watch the entirety of Peter Jackson’s conversation with Hero Complex contributor John Horn, which was recorded at Comic-Con International in July, just before the announcement that the two-film adaptation of “The Hobbit” would become a trilogy. PHOTOS: 60 images from ‘The Hobbit’ In the interview, the filmmaker revealed how he selected the footage that was unveiled at the pop culture expo, describing the scenes as “more character-based” while still speaking […]
Dec. 09, 2012 | 8:00 a.m.
Sometimes a performance changes an actor’s life– and sometimes it revolutionizes an entire industry. Both occurred when English actor Andy Serkis played the part of Gollum in Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, the first photo-realistic movie character created using the technique of performance capture. Now Serkis is reprising his role as Middle-earth’s sallow-skinned “preciousssssss”-seeking cave dweller in Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” which opens Dec. 14. PHOTOS: 60 images from ‘The Hobbit’ For Serkis, who has since become a digital acting specialist in movies like “King Kong,” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “The Adventures of Tintin,” it was surprisingly hard to return to a character whom he had helped make iconic. “Every single day of my life I’m reminded of Gollum in some shape or form, with someone walking up to me asking me […]
Jan. 23, 2012 | 12:49 p.m.
With Academy Award nominations looming Tuesday morning, there’s been a lot of buzz about a possible supporting actor Oscar nod for Andy Serkis, the performance-capture pioneer who played the resistance fighter chimpanzee Caesar in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Serkis, who helped put motion-capture technology on the map a decade ago with his portrayal of Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” films, received a Critics’ Choice Movie Award nomination for his Caesar performance, and “Apes” co-star James Franco has been campaigning on his behalf for awards recognition. Hero Complex sat down with Serkis earlier this month in a video chat with readers to talk about “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and his other projects — including Peter Jackson’s upcoming two-part adaptation of “The Hobbit” and Steven Spielberg’s current release, “The Adventures of Tintin” — and what […]
Jan. 11, 2012 | 5:23 p.m.
In the cutting-edge and ever-expanding world of performance-capture roles on film, Andy Serkis remains the man to go to. He’s almost single-handedly turned an aspect of acting once thought to be fit only for stuntmen and tech geeks into a respected and (dare we say it) Oscar-worthy avenue of performance. Last year, Serkis saved a mostly humdrum summer with his showstopping performance as Caesar, the Spartacus-like simian of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” and he can currently be seen in director Steven Spielberg’s performance-capture feature “The Adventures of Tintin” as the seafaring Capt. Haddock. In December, Serkis will step back into his decade-old digital costume as Gollum in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” Join us on Friday, Jan. 13 at 1 p.m. Pacific for a live chat with Serkis as he discusses his most famous film roles on […]
Nov. 03, 2011 | 4:45 p.m.
The Los Angeles Times Holiday Sneaks issue runs Sunday. Here’s an early look at one of the stories, a primer for Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin.” To many Europeans, Tintin is as familiar a boy adventurer as Harry Potter or Spider-Man. But most American audiences will get their introduction to the character when Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin” hits U.S. theaters Dec. 21. Created as a newspaper comic strip in 1929 by the Belgian artist Georges Rémi, who wrote under the pen name Hergé, Tintin’s stories have been translated into some 60 languages, generating sales of more than 200 million books. Hergé’s work first attracted Spielberg’s attention in 1981, after European critics likened the globe-trotting plot of the director’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark” to a Tintin tale. Spielberg later acquired Tintin’s rights from Hergé’s widow, but it […]
Aug. 05, 2011 | 9:00 a.m.
One of the earliest visual effects shots Weta Digital delivered to “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” director Rupert Wyatt was a closeup of the film’s lead chimp, Caesar (Andy Serkis), in a moment of guilt and confusion. Born with hyper-intelligence thanks to an Alzheimer’s drug and raised by humans, Caesar had just tapped into his ape instinct and rampaged violently through a suburban neighborhood. Serkis filmed the scene wearing a motion capture suit and head rig, and it was up to the artists at Weta to retain the look of contrition and bewilderment on his face while turning him into a chimpanzee. “We needed the audience to understand what Caesar was feeling with no dialogue,” said Joe Letteri, senior visual effects supervisor at Weta. “Andy had delivered the performance with his eyes, with his whole body, and we […]
Aug. 04, 2011 | 1:42 p.m.
An intimate dinner table scene in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” foreshadows how the balance of power between humans and simians is about to change, when an exceptional young chimp named Caesar (Andy Serkis) reminds an aging Alzheimer’s patient named Charles (John Lithgow) how to use a fork. “It’s an extraordinary moment when a chimp is teaching a human being how to do something basic,” said Lithgow. “There is this tenderness where Caesar is more capable than the old man. And there is a grain of plausibility there.” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” which opens Friday, is a prequel to the storied science fiction franchise launched in 1968 about a world where hyper-intelligent apes rule over wordless human slaves. In the new film, a scientist named Will (James Franco) is seeking a cure for the Alzheimer’s […]
Aug. 03, 2011 | 3:26 p.m.
If performing apes had a union, a picture of Andy Serkis would be pinned to the office dartboard. The 47-year-old British actor has stolen two of the greatest simian roles of the 21st century right out of their hairy, prehensile hands: first, the title primate in Peter Jackson’s remake of “King Kong” and now Caesar, a sentient, wordless chimpanzee who becomes a Che Guevara-like revolutionary in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Opening Friday, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is a reboot of the science fiction film franchise inspired by French author Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel about a planet where hyper-intelligent apes rule over mute human slaves. The new movie, from British director Rupert Wyatt, is the origin tale of the young ape who sparked that subversion of power. The story begins in present-day San Francisco, where […]