Rebecca Keegan

March 23, 2014 | 3:58 p.m.

‘Divergent’ director talks deviating from Veronica Roth novel, fan ire

APphoto_Film Review Divergent
“Divergent” director Neil Burger had to create a vivid future Chicago, cast a unique, young female warrior and distill Veronica Roth’s dense, 487-page book into a 139-minute movie. But perhaps his trickiest task was to make a movie that would satisfy “Divergent’s” loyal fan base. At a Hero Complex preview screening of the film March 19 at the AMC Burbank 16 & IMAX theater, Burger discussed how he handled fan expectations and how involved Roth was in the production — right down to a cameo role. “I had thousands of questions for her,” Burger said. Set in a futuristic Chicago where people are divided into factions based on their personalities, “Divergent” stars Shailene Woodley as Tris, a young woman who doesn’t fit into any one faction. PROFILE: Shailene Woodley embraces being divergent Actor Jai Courtney, who plays Eric, an intimidating […]
March 22, 2014 | 2:30 p.m.

‘Divergent’ filmmakers talk finding Tris, Eric’s menacing tattoos

APphoto_Film Review Divergent
“Divergent” director Neil Burger and producer Doug Wick went to great lengths to assemble a dynamic young cast for the film, but the movie’s most important role came easily, according to Wick, after a meeting with actress Shailene Woodley, who had just come off “The Descendants.” “We were preparing to do a worldwide search,” Wick said at a Hero Complex preview screening of “Divergent” March 19 at the AMC Burbank 16 & IMAX theater. “She seemed so exactly Tris. The worldwide search quickly went away.” Based on a novel by Veronica Roth and set in a futuristic Chicago where people are divided into factions based on their personalities, “Divergent” stars Woodley as a young woman who doesn’t fit into any one faction. MORE: What Shailene Woodley’s costars had to say about her Burger, Wick, and Jai Courtney, who plays Eric, the […]
March 22, 2014 | 8:21 a.m.

‘Divergent’: Neil Burger on his approach to creating dystopian Chicago

Zoe Kravitz Shailene Woodley
“Divergent” director Neil Burger wanted his adaptation of Veronica Roth’s dystopian novel to feel different from other futuristic cinema in a crucial way. “We’ve seen other movies set in the future — they’re often dark and cold looking and grim and bleak,” Burger said at a Hero Complex preview screening of “Divergent” March 19 at the AMC Burbank 16 & IMAX theater. “I thought, maybe there’s a different way to go at this… to make the society seem… kind of inviting. It’s much more luminous and the colors are warmer to start with.” Set in a futuristic Chicago where people are divided into factions based on their personalities, “Divergent” stars Shailene Woodley as a young woman who doesn’t fit into any one faction. MORE: What Shailene Woodley’s costars had to say about her Along with Burger, producer Doug Wick and actor […]
Feb. 08, 2014 | 9:20 a.m.

‘Lego Movie’: Will Arnett’s bad boy Batman influence? Christian Bale

“The Lego Movie” features Will Arnett tacking Batman’s brooding cool guy image to its logical extreme — idiocy. Directed by “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” and “21 Jump Street” filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, “The Lego Movie” follows everybrick Emmet (Chris Pratt) as he tries to stop an evil tyrant (Will Ferrell) from gluing the universe together. Batman, the narcissistic goth boyfriend of Lego resistance fighter Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), speaks in a growl, only builds with black bricks and dismisses Emmet’s every building idea. In an interview with Hero Complex, Arnett shared how he and the filmmakers found their post-Christian Bale Batman sound, how much input DC Comics had into the character and what his personal Lego-building style is. Hero Complex: At some point in the last 10 years or so our culture started taking superheroes very seriously, and none more […]
Aug. 07, 2013 | 12:21 p.m.

‘Elysium’: Sharlto Copley on ‘creative chemistry’ with Neill Blomkamp

Tim Burton has Johnny Depp. Martin Scorsese has Leonardo DiCaprio. And Neill Blomkamp has Sharlto Copley. The “District 9” writer-director and his leading man might not be as well known as others in Hollywood, but Blomkamp and Copley are emerging as one of science fiction’s most loyal and potent actor-director partnerships. Copley played a mild-mannered bureaucrat charged with relocating some aliens in Blomkamp’s Oscar-nominated 2009 sleeper hit, and now the “District 9” duo is working together again on two more movies, a sci-fi comedy called “Chappie” and Friday’s future-set drama “Elysium.” “There’s an intangible creative chemistry when I work with Neill,” Copley said of the friend he met when he was 22 and Blomkamp was 16. “We have common tastes and styles of what we like in film and characters.” In Blomkamp’s latest, Earth is crime-ridden and overpopulated, and the […]
Aug. 06, 2013 | 11:48 a.m.

‘Elysium: The Art of the Film’ details Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi tale

From "Elysium: The Art of the Film." Motion Picture Artwork and Photography © 2013 TriStar Pictures Inc. All rights reserved.
Neill Blomkamp’s second feature “Elysium” opens in theaters Friday, but a new book out Tuesday showcases the unique production design of the politically minded sci-fi tale. “Elysium: The Art of the Film,” written by Mark Salisbury, collects production art, photos and cast and crew commentary and includes a foreword by Blomkamp. Hero Complex readers can click through the gallery above to see a selection of images from the book. Blomkamp won a massive following with his full-length debut, 2009′s South African-set “District 9,” which earned upwards of $115 million in North America and received an Oscar nomination for best picture, and “Elysium” arrives with a great deal of fan anticipation. Set in 2154, the film stars Matt Damon as the heavily tattooed Max Da Costa, a down-on-his-luck reformed thief who embarks on a desperate mission to break into the orbiting […]
Aug. 03, 2013 | 10:00 a.m.

‘Elysium’ director Neill Blomkamp on political sci-fi: Society gets to me

Neill Blomkamp is photographed in Santa Monica on July 15, 2013. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)
In the future-set utopia that Neill Blomkamp dreamed up for “Elysium,” the lawns are manicured and lush, the women are slim and beautiful, and everyone is very, very rich. If that sounds a lot like certain neighborhoods in Los Angeles, it’s no accident — the South Africa-born writer-director found inspiration for his fictional enclave in Bel-Air and Beverly Hills as well as wealthy sections of his home city, Johannesburg. “A lot of parts of L.A. are interchangeable with suburbs in Joburg,” Blomkamp said. “Very big, ostentatious houses with palm trees and lawns. Lawns are very important. Never underestimate lawns.” Blomkamp’s action movie, which opens Aug. 9, is about haves and have-nots in 2154, with the haves living on Elysium, a luxury habitat that orbits a ruined, overpopulated planet. Down on Earth, factory worker Max (a shaven, tattooed Matt Damon) contracts […]
Aug. 03, 2013 | 6:00 a.m.

‘Elysium’: 33 photos from Neill Blomkamp’s Matt Damon, Jodie Foster film

Matt Damon, left, Alice Braga and Emma Tremblay in a scene from "Elysium." (Columbia TriStar Pictures)
“Elysium,” Neill’s Bloomkamp’s new politically minded sci-fi thriller, opens Friday, marking the second film from the talented South African writer-director who won an ardent following with his groundbreaking, Oscar-nominated debut, “District 9.” The story, set in the year 2154, sees Earth ravaged by drought and poverty; the wealthy have abandoned the planet for a blissful life on a beautiful space station called Elysium, a paradise where any illness can be cured and interlopers are kept out at extreme cost. After a workplace accident leaves him facing death, Matt Damon’s troubled, tattooed Max Da Costa finds himself in desperate need to reach Elysium and willing to embark on a wild scheme in order to save his own life. But his plans bring him into direct conflict with Jodie Foster’s officious Secretary Delacourt and a black-ops thug known as Kruger, played by […]
July 19, 2013 | 8:00 p.m.

Comic-Con: Modest ‘Europa Report’ gets San Diego’s biggest stage

SAN DIEGO — On the first day of Comic-Con, producer Ben Browning was dozing in the lobby of the Wyndham San Diego Bayside Hotel, exhausted after an early morning drive from Los Angeles to promote his independent science fiction film “Europa Report.” Browning was waiting to make a presentation in the San Diego Convention Center’s largest and most infamous room, Hall H, which holds more than 6,000 people and hosts the event’s biggest names — casts of movies and TV shows with cult-like followings, such as “The Hunger Games,” “Captain America” and “The Walking Dead.” Alpha fans camp out overnight for the chance to see stars and advance footage on the cavernous hall’s jumbo screens, and the fans’ penchant for sharing reactions via social media has made the space a temple of pop culture marketing and snark. FULL COVERAGE: San […]
July 19, 2013 | 7:04 p.m.

Comic-Con: Joss Whedon shows ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ pilot

Joss Whedon screened his anticipated new Marvel Television/ABC pilot, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,”  at Comic-Con on Friday, revealing a superhero show firmly in the humorous Whedon mold, and one that feels as if it were written expressly for the crowds packing the San Diego Convention Center this weekend. The pilot, written by Maurissa Tancharoen and Whedon’s brother Jed (who happens to be married to Tancharoen), resurrects Clark Gregg’s well-liked Marvel movie character Agent Phil Coulson, who was dramatically killed off in “The Avengers.” “I didn’t like being dead,” said Gregg, after receiving a standing ovation from the audience. “But I really loved my death.” In the new show, Coulson assembles a team of espionage and law enforcement agents, including flying ace Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), surly black-ops specialist Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), brainy computer geek Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), science genius […]
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