Dec. 18, 2014 | 1:47 p.m.
Of all the visually striking sequences in “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” one of the most arresting comes well into the film, the final installment in Peter Jackson’s latest fantasy trilogy, where dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield is wrestling with the greed and arrogance that threaten to rob him of his honor. At a special Hero Complex fan screening of “Five Armies” on Dec. 11 at New York’s AMC 34th Street 14 & IMAX, Thorin actor Richard Armitage explained how that scene came together — it was born out of collaboration between Armitage and Jackson. “There were so many moments of experimentation throughout the course of filming, but this was toward the end of the shoot,” said Armitage, seated beside his “Hobbit” costar Lee Pace. “It was just a simple stage direction which said, ‘Thorin sees his reflection […]
Dec. 18, 2014 | 11:23 a.m.
Even for the stars of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” the film’s impressive visual scale can come as something of a surprise. At a special Hero Complex fan screening of the film on Dec. 11 at New York’s AMC 34th Street 14 & IMAX, actors Lee Pace, who plays the Elven king Thandruil, and Richard Armitage, who stars as the dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield, explained what it’s like to watch director Peter Jackson’s vision unspool on screen after having spent so much time on the New Zealand set. “You see a lot of stuff that you never knew was there when you were shooting it,” Pace said. “I remember talking to Pete about the army, ‘It’s going to be a big army, right?’ ‘Oh yeah, it’s going to be big.’… Then I watch the movie back and […]
Dec. 17, 2014 | 4:00 a.m.
Richard Armitage came to the New Zealand set of Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” primed for combat. The concluding installment of Jackson’s three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel features clashing tribes of warriors racing into conflict over an unimaginably vast treasure inside the mountain kingdom of Erebor. Armitage, the English actor who plays hirsute dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield, has been preparing for battle since his acting school days with some very talented classmates. “One of the reasons I went to drama school was because I really wanted to learn stage fighting,” a clean-shaven Armitage explained recently. “Weirdly enough, David Oyelowo was my fight partner at drama school — Benedict was maybe two years behind me…. We won so many competitions together. I’ve still got the trophy on my mantel. It’s a little helmet on a […]
Nov. 26, 2014 | 7:00 a.m.
Jennifer Kent was a successful actress in her native Australia when she wrote a letter to art house provocateur Lars von Trier, whom she had long admired but never met. She was seeking career advice — Kent hoped to transition behind the camera — so she reached out to one of the world’s most singular directors. Not long after, she found herself shoveling snow and handling other odd jobs on the set of Von Trier’s divisive 2003 drama “Dogville.” But she also had the rare opportunity to shadow the Danish filmmaker and study his take-no-prisoners approach. “I didn’t need to learn about the technical process of filmmaking,” Kent said earlier this month, during a visit to L.A. “I needed to develop courage in my own voice.” Her unconventional course of study appears to have paid off. With her new horror […]
Nov. 24, 2014 | 11:37 a.m.
Oscar Isaac will star as the powerful villain in “X-Men: Apocalypse,” the next installment in the long-running Fox franchise based on the Marvel Comics series. Bryan Singer is set to direct the film, which is scheduled for release on May 27, 2016. The casting means that Isaac, an acclaimed actor who garnered critical attention for his role in “Inside Llewyn Davis,” among other roles, will have two blockbuster franchises on his resume — he also is due to appear in J.J. Abrams’ highly anticipated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which is set to arrive in theaters late next year. Singer originally announced “X-Men: Apocalypse” on Twitter last December; the movie will see the mutants face off against the popular titular villain of the 1990s storyline “Age of Apocalypse.” “It’s another one of the great ‘X-Men’ storylines, which is cool,” franchise […]
Nov. 20, 2014 | 2:43 p.m.
Inside filmmaker Francis Lawrence’s West L.A. office sits a framed collection of arrows with an inscription reading, “May the odds be ever in your favor,” a signature line that fans would immediately recognize from “Hunger Games” lore. The director received the gift for his work on last year’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” which saw him take the reins on Lionsgate’s blockbuster franchise from original director Gary Ross. With the release this weekend of the third movie in the series, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,” the odds would continue to be in Lawrence’s favor. The film, with Jennifer Lawrence reprising her starring role as headstrong archer Katniss Everdeen, is on track to break boxoffice records, possibly collecting as much as $160 million in just three days of release, according to some early estimates. “Mockingjay” sees the leaders of […]
Nov. 10, 2014 | 1:00 p.m.
Talk about groovy — Bruce Campbell is set to reprise his iconic role as Ash in a new TV series for Starz, “Ash Vs. Evil Dead.” The new series, which arrives as a follow-up to Sam Raimi’s venerated horror franchise, reteams director Raimi with longtime producing partner Rob Tapert and star Campbell. Raimi will direct the first episode of the new series, which will unfold in 10 half-hour installments. It is set to premiere on Starz in 2015. “ ‘Evil Dead’ has always been a blast. Bruce, Rob and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to tell the next chapter in Ash’s lame, but heroic saga. With his chain saw arm and his ‘boomstick,’ Ash is back to kick some monster butt. And brother, this time there’s a truckload of it,” Raimi said in a statement. “Ash Vs. Evil […]
Oct. 31, 2014 | 8:00 a.m.
In a barren Georgia warehouse on a cold January day, Jennifer Lawrence was doing something unusual for the young Oscar winner. She was acting very, very badly. Lawrence was filming a scene for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1,” in which her strident archer Katniss Everdeen was attempting to summon righteous indignation for a propaganda piece designed to stoke a nascent uprising. Katniss may be many things — a fierce warrior, a devoted sister, a reluctant symbol of hope — but a talented thespian she is not, and Lawrence was giving it her all. FULL COVERAGE: Movie Sneaks “She was very good at it,” director Francis Lawrence recalled of his star’s ability to turn in an intentionally lousy performance. “We had a bunch of variations, but we didn’t want to go too far. Some were really broad and funny […]
Oct. 31, 2014 | 6:30 a.m.
Judging strictly from the title, it might seem safe to assume that “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” the concluding installment in Peter Jackson’s latest trilogy of films based on the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien, would arrive as something of a war film, Middle-earth style. But Jackson insists that the blockbuster fantasy, which opens in theaters Dec. 17, is far more interested in charting the descent of proud dwarf Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) into a crippling madness than it is in conjuring images of battlefield brutality. “It’s very much like a thriller. That’s the tone of it,” Jackson said, speaking by phone from New Zealand, where he was in the final throes of completing the film. “I’m not letting that tone go for a second. It gives me a chance to feel like I’m making a different movie, […]
Oct. 30, 2014 | 6:10 p.m.
In 1990, horror novelist Clive Barker released “Nightbreed,” his second feature film as a writer-director. The follow-up to his provocative 1987 study in sadomasochism, “Hellraiser,” “Nightbreed” arrived as an adaptation of Barker’s novella “Cabal” and posited a world in which monsters had been driven to an underground sanctuary called Midian. The city begins to haunt the dreams of a Canadian man named Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer), who is under the psychiatric care of one Philip Decker (David Cronenberg), a therapist with questionable motives and dark secrets of his own. The movie, which featured artistic contributions from the likes of Ralph McQuarrie and Danny Elfman, opened to middling reviews. Writing for The Times, critic Michael Wilmington observed that there was a “thick, clunky quality” to the film with “remarkable moments scattered throughout — wild nightmare visions and a tingling sound track […]