Now playing in theaters is director Noam Murro’s 300: Rise of an Empire. In the sequel to Zack Snyder’s 300, Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), and Artemisia (Eva Green), the vengeful commander of the Persian navy. The film also stars Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, David Wenham, Igal Nao, Callan Mulvey, Jack O’Connell, and Andrew Tiernan. I’ve seen the film twice now and am happy to report the sequel kicks ass. The fight scenes are extremely well done, the 3D actually adds to the story, and Eva Green’s performance is worth the price of admission. It also might have the best sex scene of 2014, and it’s only February. While many might have wondered if we needed a sequel to 300, I’m very happy they made it.
At the Los Angeles press day I landed an exclusive video interview with Jack O’Connell and Callan Mulvey. They talked about their reaction to the finished film, the use of 3D, what it was like filming in Bulgaria, and a lot more. Hit the jump to watch.
With director Noam Murro’s 300: Rise of an Empire opening March 7th, WB. has released a new featurette that focuses on the villains. In the sequel to Zack Snyder’s 300, Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), and Artemisia (Eva Green), the vengeful commander of the Persian navy. The film also stars Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, David Wenham, Igal Nao, Callan Mulvey, Jack O’Connell, and Andrew Tiernan.
I caught a screening a few days ago and am happy to report the sequel kicks a lot of ass. The fight scenes are extremely well done, the 3D actually adds to the story, and Eva Green’s performance is worth the price of admission. While many might have wondered if we needed a sequel to 300, I’m very happy they made it. Hit the jump to watch the featurette and here’s all our previous coverage on the film.
Here’s today’s latest casting news:
- Jack O’Connell is in final negotiations star in Universal’s spy thriller Station 6 as the younger lead.
- Colin Quinn is the latest performer to join Amy Schumer in Judd Apatow’s next directorial effort, Trainwreck.
- Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 will add David Henrie, Eduardo Verastegui, Nicholas Turturro, and Gary Valentine, with Molly Shannon and Raini Rodriguez in negotiations to star alongside Kevin James.
Hit the jump for more.
Warner Bros. has released a slew of new high-resolution images from director Noam Murro’s upcoming stylish actioner 300: Rise of an Empire. The story takes place before, during, and after the events of director Zack Snyder‘s 2006 film 300, centering on the naval battles between Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) and Artemisia (Eva Green) and the latter’s control over Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). These new images give us a look at the expanded 300 universe, from Xerxes’ origin to the intense naval battles between Artemisia’s army and Themistokles’ crew. We also get a brief look behind-the-scenes by way of a few official set photos, confirming that there is indeed a lot of blue screen involved in bringing Rise of an Empire to life.
Hit the jump to check out the images. The film also stars Lena Headey, Jack O’Connell, Hans Matheson, David Wenham, Igal Nao, and Andrew Tiernan. 300: Rise of an Empire opens in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D on March 7th.
One of the best films I saw at this year’s Berlin Film Festival was ’71, which is the feature directorial debut of Yann Demange (whose credits include some high-profile and acclaimed British television series like Top Boy, Criminal Justice, Secret Diary of a Call Girl). The film is set in Belfast in 1971 and it’s about a young British soldier (Jack O’Connell ) that’s accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot. Trapped behind enemy lines, he’s unable to tell friend from foe, and we follow as he tries to find his way home, while the locals battle for supremacy. One of the reasons the film is so powerful is that it doesn’t portray any character or side in absolutes. Each person we meet along the way has depth, and Demange doesn’t pull any punches when depicting the violence of the times. It’s a great film that I hope finds domestic distribution.
While in Berlin, I was able to participate in a roundtable interview with Jack O’Connell. He talked about how he got involved in the project, how the film isn’t just an action thriller, what he knew about the conflict prior to filming, the strong visuals of the film, how he got into acting, future projects like 300: Rise of an Empire and Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, and a lot more. Hit the jump for what he had to say.
The first trailer for Angelina Jolie’s next directorial effort Unbroken has landed online by way of an extended Olympics TV spot. The film tells the incredibly true story of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympian and WWII bombardier whose plane crashed at sea in 1943. Zamperini and two crewmates floated adrift for 47 days and 2000 miles, eventually finding themselves caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a POW camp where Zamperini was targeted by a sadistic overseer. The real Zamperini appears in this spot to recount his story as we’re treated to the first footage from Jolie’s impressive-looking feature, which includes cinematography by The Master himself, Roger Deakins. It’s a brief look at what’s likely unfinished footage, but this inspiring story is sure to be a tear-jerker this holiday season.
Hit the jump to watch the trailer. Jack O’Connell plays Zamperini in the film, which also stars Domhnall Gleeson, Finn Wittrock, Alex Russell, Carla Thexton, and Garrett Hedlund. Unbroken opens in theaters on December 25th.
The first trailer and poster have been released for the prison drama, Starred Up. The movie stars Jack O’Connell (300: Rise of an Empire) as a young convict whose latest stint in prison is complicated by the fact that his father (Ben Mendelsohn) is a fellow inmate who’s trying to protect his violent, traumatized son. I caught the movie at TIFF and quite enjoyed it. This trailer doesn’t spoil the picture, but it doesn’t make it stand out either. However, the eight British Independent Film Award nominations it racked up will hopefully bring the movie the attention it deserves.
Hit the jump to check out the U.K. trailer and poster. Starred Up opens in the U.K. on March 21st; no U.S. release date has been announced.
The Star Wars: Episode VII casting rumor mill has been so quiet for a few weeks that I was almost starting to miss it. Today, it’s fired back up with an exciting possibility. The latest actor rumored for a role in the movie is Jack O’Connell. O’Connell is mostly unknown to American audiences, but after seeing his work in Starred Up at TIFF, he’s definitely an actor to watch. He’s magnetic, charismatic, and could be on the verge of a big breakthrough when he stars in Angelina Jolie‘s adaptation of the bestselling book, Unbroken, which opens next Christmas.
Hit the jump for more on how O’Connell might be headed to a galaxy far, far away.
The nominations for the 16th annual Moet British Independent Film Awards were announced today, and David Mackenzie‘s Starred Up led the pack with eight including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Jack O’Connell), and two Best Supporting Actor nominations (Ben Mendelsohn and Rupert Friend). I haven’t seen many of the other contenders, but I caught Starred Up at TIFF, and it absolutely deserves any acclaim it receives, especially for O’Connell.
Other notable nominees included possible Oscar contenders Blue Jasmine (Best International Film) and Judi Dench for Philomena (Best Actress). It’s a good collection of nominations, but if I had to note some absences, I would point out that The Double deserved some more love (Mia Wasikowska was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, so the film was eligible). Also, I don’t know if Dom Hemingway was eligible, but if so, ignoring Jude Law for Best Actor is criminal. Hit the jump for the full list of nominees. Winners will be announced on December 8th.
Angelina Jolie is currently in the midst of production on her second directorial feature Unbroken, and Universal Pictures has now unveiled the first images from the Australian set. The film chronicles the incredible life of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympian and WWII bombardier whose plane crashed at sea in 1943. Zamperini and two crewmates floated adrift for 47 days and 2000 miles, eventually finding themselves caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a POW camp where Zamperini was targeted by a sadistic overseer. Jack O’Connell leads the film as the young Zamperini, and these images offer a first look at the actor on the ocean set as Jolie watches over the scenes.
Hit the jump to take a look at the images. The film also stars Domhnall Gleeson, Finn Wittrock, Garrett Hedlund, Alex Russell, and Carla Thexton. Unbroken opens in theaters on December 25, 2014.
Despite last week’s news that Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past) was being brought on to do a significant rewrite of the script, 20th Century Fox is still movie full-steam ahead on its Fantastic Four reboot. Josh Trank (Chronicle) remains onboard to direct and Matthew Vaughn is producing the pic alongside Kinberg, and now word has surfaced that Fox is preparing to offer test deals to a number of actors that will read for the lead roles. Names like Elizabeth Olsen and Allison Williams have been bandied about over the past year, but this new crop of actors includes Game of Thrones and House of Cards alums along with a couple of other actors who have been mentioned with regards to the project for some time.
Hit the jump to find out who Fox is looking at to play the titular Fantastic Four. The film is slated to hit theaters on March 6, 2015.
In movies, a father-son bond can be repaired in various ways: A game of catch, a cross-country road trip, or a death in the family to name a few. Starred Up finds a new one by putting the reconnection inside a prison, and the attempts of a father to protect his reckless son from getting murdered by other inmates. Supported by excellent performances from Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn, director David Mackenzie and screenwriter Jonathan Asser have removed the schmaltz from this kind of story by taking two men who aren’t just estranged; they’re both violent and dangerous in a volatile environment. The filmmakers then proceed to further expand the story by offering the son different support structures and choices that further complicate the father-son relationship.
Yesterday, the Telluride Film Festival announced its line-up, and since the festival begins today, we can expect to start hearing reactions to potential awards-contenders very soon. In addition to the announcements, new images have been released for festival entries Under the Skin starring Scarlett Johansson; Alexander Payne‘s Nebraska starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte; Agnieszka Holland‘s HBO miniseries Burning Bush; and David Mackenzie‘s Starred Up starring Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn.
Hit the jump to check out the images, and keep up with our new Oscar Beat column as Adam keeps an eye on this year’s awards race.
While Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey earned a limited release when it first hit theaters, her next film is getting a very wide opening. Universal Pictures announced today that Jolie’s Unbroken will hit theaters on December 25, 2014, just in time for the holiday (and awards) season. Based on the non-fiction book by Lauren Hillenbrand, the film tells the incredible true story of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympian and WWII bombardier whose plane crashed at sea in 1943. Zamperini and two crewmates floated adrift for 47 days and 2000 miles, eventually finding themselves caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a POW camp where Zamperini was targeted by a sadistic overseer.
Embedded in the press release regarding the release date is the fantastic news that the immensely talented Roger Deakins (Skyfall, No Country for Old Men) will be acting as the director of photography on the pic, which boasts a screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen. Production on Unbroken should begin later this year. The other films currently scheduled for release on Christmas next year are the Annie remake, Disney’s star-studded musical Into the Woods, and Night at the Museum 3. Hit the jump to read the press release. [Update: Variety reports that, after a screen testing process, Jack O'Connell (300: Rise of an Empire) has been tapped to lead the film.]
Director Matthew Vaughn is eyeing a trio of actors for the young lead opposite Colin Firth in his graphic novel adaptation The Secret Service. The story is about a veteran secret agent who takes his ruffian nephew from the streets of London and into a British spy school that molds its students into suave 007-types. Colin Firth is onboard to play the uncle, and Vaughn is reportedly testing John Boyega (Attack the Block), Jack O’Connell (300: Rise of an Empire), and Christian Cooke (Magic City) for the role of the young nephew. It’s a potentially star-making role, as Vaughn chose Secret Service as his follow-up to X-Men: First Class after dropping out of X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Fox is apparently very high on the adaptation.
Hit the jump for more, including the prospect of Vaughn reteaming with his Kick-Ass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson on the project.