A new How to Train Your Dragon 2 clip has been released online, and it should bring to mind another recent fantasy franchise. The long-awaited DreamWorks Animation sequel picks up five years after the events of the first film, as Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless are exploring new territories while the rest of their friends are enjoying dragon races. During one of Hiccup and Toothless’ journeys, they discover a secret ice cave, hundreds of new wild dragons, and the mysterious Dragon Rider. This new clip provides a look at the aforementioned dragon races, as the main characters take part in a Quidditch-esque game that involves picking up sheep and dropping them into baskets. It highlights the film’s great sense of humor, gorgeously colorful animation, and soaring score, making the wait for its release that much harder.
Hit the jump to watch the new How to Train Your Dragon 2 clip and to check out a batch of new high-resolution images. The film also features the voices of Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Kit Harington, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Djimon Hounsou, and Kristen Wiig. How to Train Your Dragon 2 will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May and opens in theaters everywhere on June 13th.
Now playing in theaters is Wally Pfister’s directorial debut Transcendence. The film revolves around a group of scientists trying to build the first self-aware supercomputer, and when lead researcher Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) becomes the target of anti-technology extremists, he unexpectedly becomes a participant in his own transcendence. Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany play two of Will’s fellow researchers, and as we’ve seen from the trailer, they have conflicting viewpoints on turning their co-worker into a computer. The film also stars Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman, Cole Hauser, and Clifton Collins Jr. For more on Transcendence, click here to watch some clips and here’s all our previous coverage.
Last week at the Los Angeles press day, I landed an exclusive interview with Freeman. He talked about how he got involved in the project, working with Pfister, if he thinks great directors share some common traits, if directors get intimidated working with him, if he thought The LEGO movie would be such a huge hit, Luc Besson’s Lucy, how he won’t be in London Has Fallen (the sequel to Olympus Has Fallen), how he might be doing a remake of Going in Style, and a lot more. Hit the jump for what he had to say.
Now playing in theaters is director Ivan Reitman‘s sports drama Draft Day. The film takes place within the span of one day, the day of the NFL draft. Kevin Costner plays a general manager who has the opportunity to save football in Cleveland when he trades for the number one pick. As the day’s events unfold, he finds the lines between his personal and professional life becoming blurred. Draft Day also stars Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Josh Pence, Tom Welling, Chadwick Boseman, Sean Combs, Sam Elliott, Terry Crews, Arian Foster, Ellen Burstyn, and Frank Langella.
At the Los Angeles press junket I landed an exclusive video interview with Welling and Pence. They talked about getting to work with Reitman and Costner, surprising NFL facts, alternate takes including one that featured Welling getting punched by Costner, and a lot more. Hit the jump to watch.
HBO has released a new, full-length The Normal Heart trailer for director Ryan Murphy’s (Glee, American Horror Story) adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Larry Kramer stage play. The film follows the HIV/AIDS crisis in New York City in the early 1980s, and it looks at the nation’s sexual politics as gay activists and their allies in the medical community fought to expose the truth about the burgeoning epidemic to a city and nation in denial. Though Murphy is a bit hit and miss (his last two films were Running with Scissors and Eat, Pray, Love), I’m encouraged by The Normal Heart’s stellar ensemble cast and the fact that Kramer penned the screenplay. Mark Ruffalo and Taylor Kitsch, in particular, look to be standouts, and the tone feels reminiscent of the heartwrenching documentary How to Survive a Plague, in which Kramer plays an integral role.
Hit the jump to watch the full-length The Normal Heart trailer. The film also stars Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Alfred Molina, Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare, Corey Stoll, and Julia Roberts. The Normal Heart premieres on HBO Sunday, May 25th at 9pm ET/PT.
Inspired by a true story, the indie drama Small Time tells the story of Al Klein (Christopher Meloni) and his longtime friend, Ash Martini (Dean Norris), who own a used car lot together. While Martini is a happy bachelor, Klein still pines for his ex-wife (Bridget Moynahan) and struggles to find common ground with their son (Devon Bostick), who has decided to follow in his father’s footsteps.
At the film’s press day, writer/director Joel Surnow talked about how the first draft of Small Time was written in 1976, why he kept going back to the story, how different the finished film is now, the casting process, why he wanted the story to have a little edge to it, that he’s hoping to go into production on his next film this year, and why he thinks it’s fantastic that 24 (for which he was the co-creator/executive producer) is returning to television, while actor Christopher Meloni talked about why this story and character appealed to him, not wanting to fall into any cliches, working with co-star Dean Norris, his experience making Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, and why he wanted to sign on for the comedy series Surviving Jack. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
Thursday evening’s TV ratings are in. Here’s a brief look at the highlights:
- The season five finale of NBC’s Community saw a slight ratings uptick, rising 11% from last week’s series low 0.9 rating to a 1.0 rating in the 18-49 demo and scoring 2.9 million viewers. It barely edged out Parks and Recreation for the night, but that’s still far from a “solid” ratings performance. And yet, a sixth season renewal is actually looking pretty likely since it would put the series in a lucrative position for syndication. If NBC doesn’t renew Community and “Basic Sandwich” ends up being the series finale, we’ll all just have to assume a giant asteroid destroyed all life on earth. It is canon, after all.
- Over on ABC, Scandal closed out its buzzworthy third season with a 3.4 rating and 10.45 million viewers, rising 13% from last week and marking the show’s highest rated season finale yet. A fitting end to what’s been a breakout season for the Shonda Rhimes soap.
Hit the jump for the rest of the TV ratings report for Thursday, April 17th, including Parks and Recreation, Parenthood, The Vampire Diaries, and more.
While Joss Whedon is currently directing the blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron, he hasn’t forgotten about indie fare. His previous film was the microbudget adaptation of Much Ado about Nothing, and he also wrote the upcoming drama In Your Eyes. Directed by Brin Hill, In Your Eyes is “about two seemingly polar opposites who are deeply connected in ways neither could have ever imagined.” The opening scene has gone online, and if it’s focused on the younger versions of the two “polar opposities”, then this scene reveals their intriguing, supernatural connection. Even though there is a supernatural twist, I almost got a Snow Angels vibe when it comes to an idyllic school environment being disrupted by a distant tragedy. I’m definitely curious to check out more of this film.
Hit the jump to check out the In Your Eyes opening scene. The film stars Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks), Michael Stahl-David (Cloverfield), Mark Feuerstein (Growing Pains), and Abigail Spencer (Rectify). In Your Eyes premieres this weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Filming on Justin Kurzel‘s Macbeth is currently underway, and the first two images have been released. The adaptation of Shakespeare’s play stars Michael Fassbender as the titular Scottish king with Marion Cotillard playing Lady Macbeth. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Fassbender says all the cast speaks with Scottish accents except for Cotillard. “We felt it would be unreasonable for her to put on a Scottish accent,” says Fassbender. “It would not be unreasonable to presume that her character spent time in the French court.” I’m willing to allow for that assumption when there’s a great actress like Cotillard in such a juicy role.
Hit the jump to check out the Macbeth images and to learn more about Kurzel and Fassbender’s take on the material. The film also stars Paddy Considine, David Thewlis, Sean Harris, Jack Reynor and Elizabeth Debicki. Macbeth opens in the U.K. in early 2015.
Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures have released a new Godzilla featurette. This featurette is a brief chat with director Gareth Edwards. For those who don’t know, Edwards breakthrough feature was 2010′s Monsters, an indie film that looks far more expensive because of Edwards’ background as a visual effects artist and his ability to use effects shots wisely rather than simply throwing a bunch of CGI at the screen. In this interview, Edwards explains that he’s going for a realistic take on Godzilla, which stays true to the original 1954 movie. Even though there’s a giant monster roaming around, the original film is really about living in the aftermath and fear of the atomic bomb. While I assume Godzilla won’t be a dour blockbuster, I’m glad Edwards respects the monster’s origins and wants to be true to the spirit of the classic picture.
Hit the jump to check out the featurette. The film stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, and David Strathairn. Godzilla opens in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D on May 16th.
Comedy is the most subjective of mediums, and one man’s hilarious genius is another man’s desperate hack. Widely successful comics often water down their material in order to appeal to the broadest possible demographic, while niche comics tailor their message to much that they can’t break out of their established audience. Key and Peele seem to have avoided that fate by finding the right mixture of intelligence, critical thinking and personal passion with their Comedy Central series. The jokes feel like they come from your clever best friend: accessible without being so bland that they fall flat. Their new Blu-ray set – covering the first two seasons – puts some of their best routines on display, which are more than enough to excuse the occasional failure. Hit the jump for my full Key & Peele Blu-ray review of seasons one and two.
We’ve got a few casting stories to attend to this evening. Briefly:
- Chris Pine is in talks to lead Disney’s coast guard drama The Finest Hours, which now has a new director in Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl).
- Michael B. Jordan is attached to lead the action thriller Men Who Kill, which is being developed as a star vehicle for the actor at 20th Century Fox.
- X-Men: First Class actor Caleb Landry Jones is in talks to join director Roland Emmerich’s gay rights drama Stonewall.
Hit the jump for much more on the aforementioned casting.
Though we still have no definitive word on what Steven Spielberg’s next project will be, the filmmaker is adding another incredibly promising project to his potential slate. Variety reports that Spielberg plans to direct and produce the religious drama The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara for The Weinstein Company and DreamWorks, and he has enlisted his Lincoln and Munich scribe—not to mention Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright—Tony Kushner to pen the script. Based on the non-fiction book by David Kertzer, the story concerns an Italian Jew who, in 1858, was forcibly removed from his parents at the age of six by authorities of the Papal States and raised as a Catholic. He later became a priest in the Augustinian order, but the ordeal set off an international controversy.
Though the religious pic certainly sounds like fascinating material for Spielberg and Kushner, Edgardo Mortara will not be Spielberg’s next project. He has now narrowed his Lincoln follow-up down to two choices, one of which is a sci-fi epic and the other a battle of leaders set against the backdrop of the Spanish conquistadors’ interaction with the Aztec peoples. Hit the jump for much more on where we stand with regards to Spielberg’s next film.
This Sunday, April 20th, WGN America premieres Salem, the network’s first venture into original programing, staring Shane West, Janet Montgomery, Ashley Madekwe, Seth Gabel, Xander Berkeley, Iddo Goldberg, Tazmin Merchant and Elise Eberle. Salem travels back to 17th Century Colonial Massachusetts for an alternate look at one of the darkest chapters in American history, approaching the infamous era from the point of view that witches were not only real, but manipulating the gruesome events of the trials to their will. The pilot kicks the show off on a strong note; a fun and creepy mixture of horror, fantasy and history that sets itself apart with singular imagery, an engaging mythology and a uniquely sensual approach to dark magic. And like any good period piece, the sets and costumes are absolutely stunning.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the set in Shreveport, Louisiana where the town of Salem has been meticulously reconstructed from the ground up. From the gallows to the docks, even the brothel, I got to walk through it all. To say it was impressive would be a massive understatement, so naturally I was excited to sit down with Production Designer Seth Reed and talk about the process of bringing 17th Century Salem to life. The next day I visited the soundstage to tour the interior sets and get an up close look at the costumes. With some of the show’s most impressive pieces on display, I walked through the set of Salem’s eerie forest with Costume Designer Joseph Porro while he told me about his research process, taking historical liberties and which pieces were his favorite to design. Check out both interviews after the jump.
A director has been chosen for the horror sequel Sinister 2. Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) co-wrote and directed the first film, which revolved around a true crime writer (Ethan Hawke) who moves his family into the home where a family was previously murdered, only to stumble across Super 8 footage depicting the murders of said family and numerous others. Though Derrickson returned to co-write the sequel with Sinister co-writer C. Robert Cargill, he opted to step back and let another filmmaker take the helm, and he announced on Twitter this evening that Citadel director Ciaran Foy will be taking the reigns of Sinister 2. Hit the jump for more.
Warner Bros. has released the first Jersey Boys trailer and poster for director Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of the popular stage musical. The film tells the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, chronicling the group’s rise in the 1960s with such hits as “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man” and subsequent troubles that came with their success. I was a bit surprised to see that the pic maintains the direct address from the stage musical, with the various characters speaking into the camera to move the story along, but it could be an interesting addition to what’s essentially a rags-to-riches-to-troubles biopic of the Four Seasons. On the stage, the story is a lot of fun and almost plays like a musical version of Goodfellas, so it certainly has strong potential. My main hesitation is Eastwood, whose dreary aesthetic and tone don’t particularly scream “movie musical.” But he’s an avid music fan and a musician himself, so maybe he’ll surprise us with this one.
Hit the jump to watch the Jersey Boys trailer and to check out the pic’s debut poster. The film stars John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Vincent Piazza, Michael Lomenda, and Christopher Walken. Jersey Boys opens in theaters on June 20th.