Chris Lee

March 07, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.

’300: Rise of an Empire’ director Noam Murro talks operatic approach

Sullivan Stapleton in "300: Rise of an Empire." (Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures)
Noam Murro had one question when he was asked to direct the follow-up to 2007′s bloody swords-and-sandals action film “300″: How do you make a sequel to a movie in which everyone died? The answer, in short: You don’t. Zack Snyder’s “300″ concluded with [spoiler alert!] Sparta’s King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and his few, proud soldiers being gloriously slain while making a heroic stand against the overwhelming forces of Persian god-king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). The new “300: Rise of an Empire” uses that Leonidas-vs.-Xerxes narrative as a crucial plot point. In essence, the new film wraps its story around the earlier movie’s action to function as something more like a companion piece than a reboot. “What do you call it? A prequel? A sequel?” says Murro, 52. “It’s an equal, hopefully. It’s a different perspective of the same time. Thematically, […]
March 03, 2014 | 4:57 p.m.

Zack Snyder: ‘Man of Steel’ sequel explodes Superman, Batman universes

The untitled “Man of Steel” sequel hasn’t yet gone into production, and it’s already the most controversial movie in fandom. Chalk that up to director Zack Snyder’s somewhat unconventional casting choices. First, comics stalwarts expressed surprise and skepticism in August with the revelation that Ben Affleck would inherit the cape and cowl from actor Christian Bale, taking on the role of Batman opposite Henry Cavill’s Superman in Snyder’s much-anticipated superhero sequel, the follow-up to his 2013 blockbuster that grossed more than $668 million at the worldwide box office. Then came the announcement that Israeli actress Gal Gadot, best known for her work in the “Fast & Furious” films, would play Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in the movie, and the uproar started anew. Just last month, fresh fandemonium was heaped upon the movie with the announcement that boyish “Social Network” star Jesse […]
June 13, 2013 | 4:55 p.m.

‘Man of Steel’: Zack Snyder tries reconstruction for Superman

Zack Snyder (featured image)
“Man of Steel” began its ascent toward pop-culture immortality during fall 2010 inside a pressurized cabin in the skies between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. A fitting start for the relaunch of a comic book property inextricably linked with the exclamations “It’s a bird! It’s a plane!” Christopher Nolan, the force behind the multibillion-dollar “Dark Knight” movie franchise, and his producing partner wife, Emma Thomas, were sharing a corporate jet with Zack Snyder, the action stylist behind the 2009 sci-fi superhero drama “Watchmen,” and his producer wife, Deborah Snyder. Both couples were on the way back to L.A. from Las Vegas’ CinemaCon, where they had previewed new films. [FOR THE RECORD,  10:06 a.m. PDT June 19: An article in the June 16 Calendar section about Zack Snyder, director of the movie "Man of Steel," said a conversation between Snyder and […]
June 12, 2013 | 10:38 p.m.

‘300: Rise of Empire’ trailer: Swords, sandals, the sea and Xerxes

'300: Rise of an Empire' (featured image)
A new trailer for “300: Rise of an Empire” offers the same sort of swords-and-sandals splendor that made filmmaker Zack Snyder’s visually arresting 2006 adaptation of the landmark Frank Miller graphic novel such a hit. “Rise of an Empire” is not a sequel or a prequel but its own free-standing thing, taking place before, during and after the events of “300.” Directed by TV commercial ace Noam Murro and produced by Snyder, the film sees Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro reprise his role as Xerxes, the nefarious 9-foot-tall antagonist. “The movie looks cool. It’s beautiful,” Santoro told Hero Complex in an interview this year. “It’s like ’300′ but there are fresh things in there. It’s a smart way to do a sequel. The fans are going to be pleased.” More of the Persian “God King’s” back story will be revealed in […]
June 07, 2013 | 4:57 p.m.

Zack Snyder on ‘Justice League’: ‘The door is definitely open’

With director Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” still a week away from the multiplex — and expectation for the Christopher Nolan-produced Superman reboot sky-high — the question has been hanging heavy on fans’ minds: Will a Nolan-style Batman join Snyder’s version of the Last Son of Krypton onscreen for the long-rumored “Justice League” movie? Hero Complex posed this query to both filmmakers earlier this week in search of answers during interviews for a profile of Snyder that will appear in the Los Angeles Times Sunday, June 16. In his tchotchke-filled office on the Warner Bros. lot, Snyder confirmed that the seed for “Justice League” — a DC Comics equivalent of Marvel’s “The Avengers” that features a superhero A-list including Aquaman, Batman and Wonder Woman — has indeed been planted within “Man of Steel.” “Do the DC characters exist in the […]
Feb. 14, 2013 | 4:47 p.m.

‘Die Hard’: Jai Courtney on Willis, Jackman, action movie etiquette

APphoto_Film Review A Good Day to Die Hard
By late 2011, Jai Courtney had given up on trying to take Hollywood by storm and simply wanted to go home. The brawny Aussie actor had absented himself from the Land Down Under for nearly half a year to hustle work in the Northern Hemisphere, spending 3½ months in Pittsburgh to portray an evil mercenary in the romper-stomper Tom Cruise action flick “Jack Reacher.” Less than 24 hours after Courtney auditioned for his most high-profile role to date — costarring in the new installment of the blockbuster “Die Hard” film franchise, “ A Good Day to Die Hard” — his mind was not on his next job. It was on boarding his flight at LAX. “I was not going to gamble on this — I had been away so long,” Courtney, 26, recalled. “I went to the airport and was […]
Feb. 02, 2013 | 9:15 a.m.

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje talks ‘Thor’ sequel, ‘Bullet to the Head’

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (featured image)
Amid the narrowing concentric circles of corruption, murder and big city racketeering featured in the shoot-’em-up action caper “Bullet to the Head,” which arrived in theaters Friday, British actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s character, crime kingpin Robert Nkomo Morel, occupies the center ring. He’s the movie’s heavy: a smooth-talking, African-born arch manipulator, all wide smiles, tailored tuxedos and silken menace with an outsize physicality that can recall Geoffrey Holder’s James Bond nemesis in “Live and Let Die.” But in “Bullet,” Akinnuoye-Agbaje comes up against the immovable force of Sylvester Stallone, portraying old-school hit man for hire James “Jimmy Bobo” Bonamo; he’s hellbent on taking an eye for an eye when his partner is murdered after carrying out a mob hit. GRAPHIC: ’80s action heroes reload A son of Nigerian immigrants who earned a law degree from King’s College in London, Akinnuoye-Agbaje is […]
Jan. 31, 2013 | 6:41 p.m.

‘Bullet to the Head’: Walter Hill on Stallone, ‘anti-buddy’ movies

Sylvester Stallone, left, and Jason Momoa in a scene from "Bullet to the Head." (Frank Masi / Warner Bros.)
In the shoot’em-up action thriller “Bullet to the Head,” which reaches theaters Friday, Sylvester Stallone portrays Jimmy “Bobo” Bonomo, a New Orleans hit man with a perma-scowl, Technicolor sleeve tattoos and an unshakable live-and-let-die moral code. When his murder-for-hire wingman is whacked after a job – part of a setup by the guys who hired them – Bobo enters into a reluctant partnership of convenience with by-the-book police Det. Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang of “Fast Five” and “Live Free or Die Hard” fame) to button-hole the responsible parties – and exact no small amount of gritty street justice in the process. The odd couple’s odyssey across the Crescent City underworld comes locked and loaded with explosive set pieces: a bloody parking garage shoot-out, a honky-tonk knife fight, an exploding bayou ambush and a climactic ax fight scene between Stallone and a […]
Jan. 18, 2013 | 4:34 p.m.

’300′: Rodrigo Santoro talks Xerxes’ return in ‘Rise of an Empire’

Rodrigo Santoro as Xerxes, the Persian king who claims to be a god in "300." (Warner Bros.)
To reprise the character of Xerxes, the nefarious 9-foot tall antagonist he portrays in director Zack Snyder’s breakthrough swords and sandals blockbuster “300,” for the highly anticipated August spinoff  “300: Rise of an Empire,” Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro learned the true meaning of no pain, no gain. The role demanded that Santoro rebuild the same rippling musculature he shows off to impressive effect in the 2006 historical thriller (based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller) – a truly Herculean effort that involved three months of grueling gym workouts to build biceps and add bulk to Santoro’s slight surfer’s frame. “It was intense,” the actor said during an interview to promote his turn in the new Arnold Schwarzenegger action vehicle “The Last Stand,” directed by revered South Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-Woon. “It was a very specific physique that character has. […]
Jan. 16, 2013 | 4:45 p.m.

‘Last Stand’: Kim Jee-Woon on Hollywood, Arnold’s action comeback

Kim Jee-Woon is the South Korean director of the new Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick "The Last Stand, " his first American movie. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)
On the set of the shoot-’em-up thriller “The Last Stand,” South Korean director Kim Jee-Woon and Arnold Schwarzenegger suffered from what we shall term a certain failure to communicate. They literally could not speak each other’s language, relying on translators to trade ideas thanks to Kim’s negligible English and Schwarzenegger’s heavy Teutonic accent. Nonetheless, according to Kim, the inability to find common parlance with one’s star — or any cast member, for that matter — was hardly a stumbling block. Over lunch in Hollywood, the director went so far as to extend an inspirational message to other international moviemakers deficient in English-speaking skills. “Overseas directors who want to work in Hollywood, the language barrier is not a problem,” Kim said through a translator. “With the right talent, any director can be successful.” In his case, that talent pool includes none […]
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