300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 5 days ago

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As the supplements suggest, 300: Rise of an Empire is not a straight sequel to Frank Miller and Zack Snyder’s 300, as it can also be described as a prequel, sidequel, and probably some other words that have been invented to describe modern spin-off films that don’t pick up after the last film ended.  Rise of an Empire is meant to be like a glove to the first film, as it surrounds the original narrative with new material.  The results are a film that doesn’t totally work on its own terms, but does offer a delicious scene-stealing performance from Eva Green.  My 300: Rise of an Empire Blu-ray review follows after the jump. 

New UNBROKEN Trailer and Images Starring Jack O’Connell as Olympian and War Hero Louis Zamperini

by     Posted 10 days ago

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Universal has released a new Unbroken trailer online along with a batch of new images.  Angelina Jolie‘s film tells the incredibly true story of Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell), 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.  O’Connell looks good and the cinematography is very pretty, but this trailer also features people shouting platitudes like “You can take it, you can make it,” and “A moment of pain is worth a lifetime of glory.”  It looks like prime Oscar-bait, and while it turn out to be a good movie, the sappy tone of the trailer makes me feel like the film should be called “Unbroken: It Will Inspire the Living Shit out of You“.

Hit the jump to check out the Unbroken trailer and images.  The film opens December 25th, and also stars Domhnall Gleeson, Miyavi, Garrett Hedlund, and Finn Wittrock.

STARRED UP: Check out the Trailer and Poster for the Prison Drama Starring Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn

by     Posted 11 days ago

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Tribeca film has released the Starred Up trailer and poster.  The drama centers on Eric (Jack O’Connell), a 19-year-old who has been in the prison system most of his life, but is now incarcerated in a penitentiary for adults.  Once inside, he must confront his violent tendencies and a renewed relationship with his estranged father (Ben Menedelsohn).  I really liked the film when I saw it at TIFF, and this trailer does a good job of highlighting O’Connell’s excellent performance without giving away too much of the plot.  This is definitely an indie to keep on your radar when it’s released next month.

Hit the jump to check out the Starred Up trailer and poster.  The film hits iTunes on August 26th and will be released in theaters on August 29th.  Starred Up also stars Rupert Friend.

Irons and Miller Join HIGH-RISE; Sarsgaard and Ryder to Lead EXPERIMENTER; Galifianakis Has TULIP FEVER; Butler Set for DEN OF THIEVES

by     Posted 67 days ago

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We have a few casting stories for you this morning.  Briefly:

  • Jeremy Irons and Sienna Miller will join Tom Hiddleston in Ben Wheatley‘s adaptation of J.G. Ballard‘s High-Rise.
  • Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder will lead the biopic Experimenter, The Stanley Milgram Story.
  • Zach Galifanakis has signed on to Justin Chadwick‘s period romance Tulip Fever.
  • Gerard Butler is set to star in the heist drama Den of Thieves.

Hit the jump for more details on these casting bits.

Joe Cornish Set to Direct SECTION 6, a Universal Spy Thriller Starring Jack O’Connell

by     Posted 124 days ago

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Joe Cornish has beaten out competing directors David MacKenzie and Tom Hooper for Universal’s spy thriller, Section 6.  After a bidding war that resulted in the studio’s winning seven-figure purchase, the search for a director turned into a rather lengthy process.  That search is now over with Cornish on board, and Jack O’Connell starring as a young protege.  Here’s the logline: “The historical spy thriller follows the World War I-era formation of British intelligence agency MI6 and its first director, Sir George Mansfield Cummings, who served as the inspiration for M in the James Bond series.”  (Via The Wrap)

Jack O’Connell and Callan Mulvey Talk 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE, Filming in Bulgaria, 3D, and More

by     Posted 132 days ago

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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.

Watch a New Featurette about the Villains of 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE

by     Posted 143 days ago

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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.

Jack O’Connell in Negotiations to Star in SECTION 6; Colin Quinn Joins TRAINWRECK; PAUL BLART: MALL COP Sequel Fills out Its Cast

by     Posted 149 days ago

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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.

Over 40 New Images from 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE Starring Eva Green, Sullivan Stapleton, Lena Headey, and Rodrigo Santoro

by     Posted 149 days ago

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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 Tiernan300: Rise of an Empire opens in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D on March 7th.

Jack O’Connell Talks ’71, How It’s Not Just an Action Thriller, 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE, Angelina Jolie’s UNBROKEN, and More

by     Posted 153 days ago

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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.

Olympics Trailer and New Images for Angelina Jolie’s UNBROKEN Starring Jack O’Connell

by     Posted 154 days ago

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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 HedlundUnbroken opens in theaters on December 25th.

First Trailer and Poster for STARRED UP Starring Jack O’Connell, Ben Mendelsohn, and Rupert Friend

by     Posted 177 days ago

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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.

UNBROKEN Star Jack O’Connell Rumored for “Key Role” in STAR WARS: EPISODE VII

by     Posted 222 days ago

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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.

British Independent Film Award Nominations Announced; STARRED UP Leads with 8 Nominations

by     Posted 251 days ago

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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.

First Images from the Set of Angelina Jolie’s UNBROKEN

by     Posted 262 days ago

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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 ThextonUnbroken opens in theaters on December 25, 2014.

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