July 25, 2014 | 1:27 p.m.
With “The Last of Us,” Naughty Dog craftsman Neil Druckmann helped create one of the most emotionally affecting survival games ever released. Now, as he writes the script for Screen Gems’ upcoming big screen adaptation of “The Last of Us,” he’s endeavoring to make the first truly great video game movie. Druckmann and filmmaker Sam Raimi, who will produce the film through his Ghost House Pictures banner, surprised the Hall H crowd at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Friday morning with a presentation devoted to the project, which is still in its nascent stages, hoping to stoke fan excitement for its upcoming adaptation of the apocalyptic survival game. “The Last of Us” was one of the most widely lauded games of 2013. The story tracks Joel, who is hired to smuggle a 14-year-old girl, Ellie, out of a quarantine […]
April 04, 2013 | 6:15 a.m.
Fede Alvarez still remembers the first time he watched “The Evil Dead.” Inside a darkened Santa Monica editing bay where he was putting the finishing touches on his remake of the 1981 horror film, the Uruguay native recalled when he was 12, and he and a friend had ventured into a video store two blocks from his home in Montevideo, urging the clerk to recommend something really scary. “We were done with all the ‘Nightmares on Elm Street’ and ‘Friday the 13th,’” said Alvarez, whose “Evil Dead” opens in theaters Friday. “We asked the guy, ‘We’ve seen it all, give us something real.’ I remember him looking around, and he was like, ‘Here, take this, kid, and run.’” More than 30 years after its initial release, there remains something delightfully transgressive about “The Evil Dead,” the ultra-low-budget horror flick that […]
March 12, 2013 | 10:50 a.m.
Sam Raimi’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” might have earned some mixed reviews from critics, but there’s no question that there’s magnificent spectacle on display in the $200-million movie. Scott Stokdyk served as the film’s visual effects supervisor — he worked with Raimi on the director’s three “Spider-Man” films — and played a key role in conjuring the otherworldly imagery that fascinated moviegoers. Hero Complex caught up with him briefly to talk about the project’s Technicolor aesthetic and the design of Finley, the sweetly comic flying monkey voiced by Zach Braff. HC: Often production designers will talk about how they approach creating a film’s design, but I’m guessing very similar conversations must take place about a movie’s visual effects — determining what role they will play in helping to craft the overall look? SS: I worked on the project for […]
March 12, 2013 | 6:00 a.m.
One of the most memorable aspects of Sam Raimi’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” is the unlikely kinship that arises between James Franco’s cad con man turned hero Oscar Diggs and Finley, the tiny talking monkey given voice by actor Zach Braff. At an early Hero Complex screening of “Oz the Great and Powerful” at the AMC Century City 15 & Imax last week, Braff, famous for his work on television’s long-running sitcom “Scrubs” and his lauded turn behind the camera as director of the memorable indie “Garden State,” among other projects, described his on-set chemistry with Franco, whom he now considers a close friend. “James is a wacky guy, and I love wacky people,” Braff said during a Q&A that took place following the film. “There’s times I’ve done movies where you really can’t get along with the person […]
March 11, 2013 | 2:17 p.m.
“Oz the Great and Powerful” handily won the weekend box office with an impressive $80.3 million take in the U.S. and Canada, making it the biggest hit of the year so far. The film, Sam Raimi’s quasi-prequel to the 1939 Oscar-winning musical “The Wizard of Oz,” benefited from its broad appeal (not to mention higher 3-D ticket prices). For the actors starring in the lavish fantasy inspired by the books of L. Frank Baum, though, the emphasis was on performance, not eventual box-office returns. Attempting to find the right approach to Finley, the sweet-natured talking monkey who becomes a boon companion to James Franco’s magician con man in the magical realm, proved an interesting assignment for Zach Braff, the actor explained last week at an early Hero Complex screening of “Oz the Great and Powerful” at the AMC Century City […]
March 11, 2013 | 10:10 a.m.
At first glance, “Oz the Great and Powerful” might not seem to have a lot in common with AMC’s hit zombie series “The Walking Dead,” but they share one key element: Greg Nicotero. The veteran makeup artist now spends much of his time on the Georgia set of the popular show, serving as co-executive producer and directing episodes as well, but he also worked with Howard Berger and the artisans at their shop, KNB EFX Group, to create the fantastic looks for director Sam Raimi’s voyage to the world of Oz created by L. Frank Baum. In Raimi’s vision, that land is populated by creations such as the China Girl (Joey King) and Finley (Zach Braff), the talking monkey that becomes a key companion for James Franco as his magician con man travels through the fantastic landscape and quickly becomes involved in a war […]
March 10, 2013 | 11:40 a.m.
Howard Berger is the Oscar-winning makeup artist who took home his golden statuette for “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (a prize he shared with longtime collaborator Tami Lane, who went on to oversee the makeup for Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”). His latest professional challenge again transported him to another fanciful land — for Sam Raimi’s lavish fantasy “Oz the Great and Powerful,” he designed makeups for Munchkins, Wicked Witches and one strangely familiar Winkie. Berger spoke to Hero Complex prior to the film’s release about the intricacies of redesigning one of cinema’s most iconic villains — though with spoilers in mind, he declined to name the actress who ultimately becomes the movie’s Wicked Witch — and what it was like to re-team with his old friend Raimi. (The pair first worked […]
March 10, 2013 | 8:00 a.m.
In “Oz the Great and Powerful,” James Franco might play the magician conman who’s called upon to bring peace to a faraway fantasy land, but it’s Zach Braff’s dutiful Finley who really has to do the heavy lifting — why else would a winged primate dress as a bellhop unless it was to carry a wizard’s bags? Finley is just one of the fantastic creations that populates “Oz the Great and Powerful,” the weekend’s hit spectacle event movie that stands as a quasi-prequel to the Oscar-winning 1939 musical, “The Wizard of Oz.” Bringing the character to life required Braff — the actor famous for his turn on television’s long-running sitcom “Scrubs” and his lauded turn behind the camera as director of the memorable indie “Garden State,” among other projects — to supply plenty of comedy. But the role also required […]
March 06, 2013 | 5:10 p.m.
With three “Spider-Man” films on his resume, Sam Raimi has overseen some pretty large projects. But the director said that none of them quite prepared him for “Oz the Great and Powerful.” “Spider-Man lives in a world that already exists, and we were just creating the CG to put into it,” Raimi told Hero Complex in a recent interview. “With ‘Oz’ we had to create a world from scratch. No blade of grass or flower existed before. It was all generated by artists and props people and botanists.” Opening Friday, “Oz the Great and Powerful” represents the first directorial effort from Raimi since his 2009 horror movie “Drag Me to Hell,” and stands as his grandest filmmaking challenge to date, simply from a technical standpoint if no other. In fashioning his take on the world conjured by L. Frank Baum, […]
March 05, 2013 | 2:39 p.m.
It was the news “Evil Dead” fans have been wanting to hear for years: In a recent interview promoting his upcoming Disney fantasy “Oz the Great and Powerful,” director Sam Raimi mentioned that he and his brother Ivan were planning to craft a script for the next installment in their beloved cult horror movie franchise this summer. And then he backpedaled. In an interview with Bleeding Cool, Raimi said he’s felt pressured by the rabid “Evil Dead” fan base to return to the series that launched his career, but that he doesn’t exactly have the passion or enthusiasm to tackle the project right now. “I’m afraid that every time I talk about it people get really mad at me when I don’t follow through with it. I would like to work on the script over the summer, that much is […]