Rebecca Keegan

Oct. 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m.

San Fransokyo architects built a new world for Disney’s ‘Big Hero 6′

The San Fransokyo cityscape in "Big Hero 6" is an urban mash-up of San Francisco and Tokyo. (Disney)
Before the directors of the new Walt Disney Animation movie “Big Hero 6″ settled on their story, they created the world in which it’s set: a jammed, vibrant place called San Fransokyo. A mash-up of San Francisco and Tokyo set in the not-too-distant future, San Fransokyo is a dense, hilly city with cable cars and cherry blossoms, Victorian row houses and glittering neon billboards. The filmmakers’ idea — never stated in the film — is that in a parallel universe after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the city split off and an influx of Japanese immigrants helped rebuild it. San Fransokyo is a quintessential example of the craft of world building, the process of constructing a wholly imaginary universe for films, television, video games and other media, that involves creating the look of everything from buildings, vegetation and vehicles to […]
Sept. 05, 2014 | 7:45 a.m.

‘Book of Life’ spins colorful folk-art fantasy tale

Zoe Saldana voices Maria, a woman who is wooed by Manolo and his longtime best friend Joaquin, in the movie "The Book of Life." (Twentieth Century Fox/Reel FX)
Animated characters are often inspired by animals, toys or fairy-tale princesses. But in “The Book of Life,” an animated fantasy due Oct. 17, writer-director Jorge Gutierrez found his muses in an unexpected and vibrant new place — the world of Mexican folk art. The Mexico City-born Gutierrez, best known for creating the Emmy-winning Nickelodeon series “El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera” with his wife, Sandra Equihua, sets his story during the Mexican Day of the Dead, when it’s said that spirits can pass between worlds. Best friends Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum) battle for the affection of Maria (Zoe Saldana), and two spirits, the motherly La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and fearsome Xibalba (Ron Perlman) bet on who will win. Gutierrez, making his first feature film with the help of producer and mentor Guillermo del […]
July 24, 2014 | 7:23 a.m.

Comic-Con: Guillermo del Toro takes fans into ‘Crimson Peak,’ ‘Pacific Rim’

Guillermo del Toro outside the "Crimson Peak" Gothic Gallery at Comic-Con
If he could, Guillermo del Toro would probably walk through San Diego’s Comic-Con International talking to every fan personally about their shared love of monsters, robots and things that go bump in the night. Instead, the director helped create two immersive worlds for the Legendary booth at the convention, a virtual reality encounter where fans can train to pilot a Jaeger–the giant, neurally linked robots from his 2013 science-fiction epic “Pacific Rim”– and a Gothic gallery they can stroll through to enter the world of his next project, the 2015 haunted house film “Crimson Peak.” FULL COVERAGE: Comic-Con 2014 To enter the “Crimson Peak” portion of the booth, which Del Toro gave press a tour of Wednesday night, fans walk through snow-covered gates into a space that includes evocative props and costumes from the film. Set in a deteriorating mansion in 19th century northern England, “Crimson Peak” stars Mia […]
July 24, 2014 | 5:00 a.m.

Comic-Con 2014: Outcry, action against harassment grows

Anna Kegler, left, Rochelle Keyhan and Erin Filson, representing a group called geeksforCONsent at Comic-Con. The trio will be handing out anti-harassment paraphernalia at the convention. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
SAN DIEGO — Mariah Huehner attended her first Comic-Con as a newly minted comic book editor a few years ago, looking to network with artists. But at a nighttime party in a hotel by the bay, she realized that others had a different kind of connection in mind. “One of the guys suddenly had his hand on my butt,” said Huehner, 35, who is best known as the author of the “True Blood” and “Emily and the Strangers” comics. “It’s a shocking reminder that you’re seen differently.” FULL COVERAGE: Comic-Con 2014 Comic-Con International’s dense crowds, Bacchanalian atmosphere and mask-wearing anonymity make it prime territory for misbehavior, according to both men and women who have attended the event many times. Here, and at other similar events around the country, convention-goers have been known to grope, stalk and take “upskirt” photos with […]
July 04, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.

‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’: ‘Godfather’ inspires Serkis’ Caesar

Before Francis Ford Coppola shot “The Godfather,” he gathered his cast for a meal during which the actors all reflexively began deferring to Marlon Brando, establishing a crucial dynamic of the film. Last April in a forest in British Columbia, when director Matt Reeves wanted to inaugurate another feared and respected screen leader, Andy Serkis’ simian ruler, Caesar, in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” he remembered that story, which Coppola had shared with him at a film class. “I had imagined that Caesar was the Don Corleone of the apes,” Reeves said. Reeves sent his cast of ape actors through improvisations to help establish Serkis’ character as the alpha. “The emotional life of the apes was the thing I was desperate to explore.” And just as Brando relied on a quiet virility to communicate Corleone’s authority, Serkis built […]
June 13, 2014 | 11:49 a.m.

James Cameron recalls his ‘angry wannabe filmmaker’ phase [video]

Writer/director James Cameron photographed during the 2014 Hero Complex Film Festival at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood on May 31, 2014. (Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times)
While writing his 1984 breakout film “Terminator,” James Cameron lived on McDonald’s, diner coffee and the money he made painting one-sheets for bad direct-to-video movies. The director, who would go on to helm the highest-grossing movie of all time, “Avatar,” expressed a surprising fondness for that early, “zero billion dollar” stage of his career while speaking at the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival recently. “It was actually easy to write cause I didn’t have to self-isolate like I do now, from multi-tasking with other businesses, and with a family with five kids,” Cameron said, when he took the stage late last month at the event, which was held at the TCL Chinese 6 Theaters in Hollywood May 30-June 1. “I was already isolated… basically just a sad, dark, isolated human being.” In an in-depth conversation between screenings of “The Terminator” and its […]
June 12, 2014 | 12:46 p.m.

Schwarzenegger as Kyle Reese?! James Cameron on ‘Terminator’ casting

It’s hard to imagine James Cameron’s 1984 film “The Terminator” starring anyone other than Arnold Schwarzenegger in the title role. But there was a moment when that iconic piece of casting was in doubt. Speaking at the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival recently, Cameron took the stage for an extended Q&A between screenings of “The Terminator” and its sequel “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” to discuss the making of the movie that launched his and Schwarzenegger’s careers. During the conversation, Cameron recalled how Schwarzenegger nearly didn’t get to deliver his famous line, “I’ll be back.” Instead of the Terminator, the movie’s terrifying, nearly mute cyborg sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor, Schwarzenegger was originally up for the role of Kyle Reese, the movie’s hero, who was ultimately played by Michael Biehn. At the behest of his financiers, who were high on casting […]
June 09, 2014 | 11:09 a.m.

‘Big Hero 6′: Disney Animation’s first Marvel movie gets new poster

'Big Hero 6'
When Walt Disney Animation Studios last year announced its first movie inspired by a Marvel comic, an adaptation of a lesser known crime-fighter series called “Big Hero 6,” director Don Hall said that the absence of a detail-obsessed fan base for the series was part of its appeal, as it left every character and setting open to interpretation. “I was looking for something on the obscure side, something that would mesh well with what we do,” Hall said in an interview with Hero Complex. “The idea of a kid and a robot story with a strong brother element, it’s very Disney.” On Monday, a new teaser poster arrived for the project, which will center on a robotics prodigy named Hiro Hamada and his robot companion BayMax, who join a team of superheroes in a high-tech city called San Fransokyo. (For a […]
June 03, 2014 | 1:10 p.m.

James Cameron details writing strategy for ‘Avatar’ sequels [video]

It takes a village to write three movies at once — or at least that’s how James Cameron is approaching the three “Avatar” sequels. Speaking at the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival over the weekend, the “Avatar” director described his strategy for completing the three scripts – which are scheduled to be shot simultaneously beginning later this year — with a technique borrowed from television writers’ rooms. Taking place at the TCL Chinese 6 Theaters, the Hero Complex Film Festival featured screenings of Cameron’s seminal 1984 science fiction film “The Terminator” and sequel “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” The director took the stage in between the films for an extended Q&A in which he discussed his progress on scripts for the next big film franchise on his plate, the Pandora-set fantasy “Avatar.” “The first thing I did was I sat for a year and […]
June 01, 2014 | 7:34 a.m.

James Cameron shares ‘Terminator’ memories at Hero Complex Film Festival

Writer/director James Cameron photographed during the 2014 Hero Complex Film Festival at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood on May 31, 2014. (Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times)
Revolutionary filmmaker James Cameron is one of the most venerated directors working in Hollywood today. But three decades ago, his life was very different. He was earning a living painting one sheets for B-grade movies and using McDonald’s coupons his mother sent to him to eat regular meals. It was during that time that he wrote the script for the film that would transform his career. “I  was a sad, dark, isolated human being,” Cameron recalled during an interview onstage at the 5th annual Hero Complex Film Festival at the TCL Chinese Theatres in Hollywood on Saturday, following a screening of 1984′s “The Terminator.” “There was an innocence to it in a funny way. I was the anonymous, angry wannabe filmmaker, and I think there’s some courage to say whatever comes into your head…. I was a free voice in […]
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