17 items from 2015
Stephen Moyer has arrived on the Ouarzazate, Morocco, set of National Geographic Channel’s Killing Jesus with just three hours of sleep after a numbing 20-hour journey to the remote city by land and air. Fortunately, his exhaustion serves the intensely pivotal scene he is about to shoot. Standing in a crowded courtyard on Ridley Scott’s sprawling Kingdom of Heaven set, Moyer — who plays Pontius Pilate, Roman governor of Jerusalem — is locked in a final showdown with the high priest Caiaphas (a simmering Rufus Sewell) over Jesus’ fate. Pilate urges Caiaphas that scourging is punishment enough for the savaged … Continue reading →
- Lori Acken
Ouarzazate, Morocco. Officially, the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate is nicknamed "The door of the desert," resting south of the High Atlas Mountains and on the edge of the Draa Valley. Thanks to the presence of Atlas Studios, though, Ouarzazate is perhaps more appropriately known as The Hollywood of Central Morocco, or perhaps even The Hollywood of Morocco. Ouarzazate has a population of just over 50,000, but in late October of 2014, that population includes a disproportionate number of Jesuses, Judases and an absurd number of Marys, both Jesus' mom and of the Magdalene variety. It's late October of 2014 and Ouarzazate is the beating heart of TV's Biblical world. "It's a very holy town right now," laughs Haaz Sleiman, one of the Ouarzazate Jesi -- Yes, that should be the name of a fantasy baseball team -- specifically playing the title role in National Geographic's "Killing Jesus," the project that has brought me to this region. »
- Daniel Fienberg
Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing” series brings its most inherently commercial title — “Killing Jesus” — to National Geographic Channel, and at least with this topic, nobody needs to worry about O’Reilly claiming to have been there. Produced by Ridley Scott’s company, an outfit that’s no stranger to epics, the production lends a straightforward quality to the story, and takes its name seriously, squarely focusing on the circumstances and scheming that surround Christ’s death. Along the way there are discreet miracles, but this represents a more historical approach to material that’s currently arriving in abundance, a byproduct of History’s success with “The Bible.”
Compared with other recent depictions of Jesus, this one — directed by Christopher Menaul from an adaptation by Walon Green — is perhaps most notably characterized by restraint. So while covering a good deal of ground, the filmmakers don’t linger over the ordeal of the Crucifixion in the way, »
- Brian Lowry
Indie science fiction with a rare humanism, a scientific and emotional mystery with a solution Hollywood wouldn’t dare go anywhere near. I’m “biast” (pro): I’m a big sci-fi geek
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
I needed a really good science fiction flick to wipe away the couple of bad ones I’ve had to endure in the past week or so, and Continuum — aka I’ll Follow You Down in the U.S. and Canada — did the trick beautifully. This is almost the movie that Project Almanac wanted to be — kinda maybe, if it could have broken out of the cheap Hollywood trope in which FX trump emotion — an exploration of the human impact that time-travel could potentially have. There are next to no FX here, and not even any new SFnal ideas. What there is »
- MaryAnn Johanson
Not so long ago, the Easter holiday, as far as mainstream TV networks were concerned, was defined by ABC’s annual airing of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 epic “The Ten Commandments.” Local stations might cue up the Fred Astaire-Judy Garland chestnut “Easter Parade.”
But the success of History’s “The Bible” miniseries in 2013 has spurred networks to take a second look at Holy Week leading into Easter as a showcase for event programming. National Geographic Channel has set March 29, Palm Sunday, as the premiere date for “Killing Jesus,” the latest in the series of telepics based on historical novels by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard.
CBS is airing miniseries “The Dovekeepers,” set in biblical times, over four hours on March 31 and April 1. And NBC is launching its 12-hour “A.D: The Bible Continues” series on Easter Sunday, April 5. Both “Dovekeepers” and “A.D.” hail from the producers behind “The Bible, »
- Cynthia Littleton
Back in late October, I spent three days hovering in the corners of The Temple in Jerusalem, or at least perched to the sides of an elaborate set in Ouarzazate, Morocco watching production on National Geographic's "Killing Jesus." I saw Haaz Sleiman's Jesus cast out some money lenders, watched Rufus Sewell's Caiaphas try to stir a mob against Jesus and witnessed Kelsey Grammer in priestly robes go up and down the same set of steps a dozen times. The third NatGeo adaptation from Bill O'Reilly's "Killing" series was directed by Christopher Menual and written by Walon Green and its cast is about as eclectic as one could possibly imagine, featuring Vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer as Pontius Pilate), Gimli (John Rhys-Davies as Annas), Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui as Herodias) and NBC Motorcycle Doctor (Eoin Macken as Herod Antipas). I'll have much more on "Killing Jesus" as we get closer the Sunday, »
- Daniel Fienberg
It was Amazon Original Series' most-watched pilot, and now it's received a full series order. Celebrations are in order for writer Frank Spotnitz and director David Semel's take on Philip K. Dick's The Man In The High Castle.
The alternate history drama, adapted from Dick's 1962 novel, is one of the winners of the online streaming service's popularity contest in which Prime membership gives customers the power to vote as to which shows are greenlit.
Set in an alternative universe in which the Allied Powers lost WWII, The Man In The High Castle has espionage, global conflict and political intrigue in spades. It also has the bonus of Ridley Scott executive producing alongside The X-Files and Hunted writer, Frank Spotnitz.
You can read our thoughts on the pilot here, »
Almost 20 years after that loss, the United States and much of the world has been split between Japan and Germany, the major hegemonic states. But the tension between these two powers is mounting, and this stress is playing out in the western U.S. Told through the lives of a collection of characters in various states of posing (spies, sellers of falsified goods, others with secret identities), The Man in the High Castle examines life and history as it relates to authentic and manufactured reality.
Executive produced by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner), the hour-long drama stars Alexa Davalos (Mob City), Luke Kleintank (Pretty Little Liars), Rupert Evans (The Village), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat Legacy), Joel De La Fuente »
To celebrate the release of “Where The Devil Hides“, the eerie and atmospheric possession chiller – coming to DVD 26th Jan. 2015 – we have a copy on to giveaway courtesy of Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.
Like recent super-cool indie sleeper-hit The Sacrament, Where The Devil Hides revolves around a religious cult. Unlike that film, Where The Devil Hides’ cast features some of cinema’s most iconic actors – Colm Meaney, Rufus Sewell and Jennifer Carpenter, who all turn-in career-best performances.
Pre-order via Amazon.
The competition closes at midnight on Sunday, February 8th. UK readers only please. To enter, use one of the following methods…
a Rafflecopter giveaway
By entering this competition you agree to our terms and conditions, which you can read here. »
- Gary Collinson
The Man in the High Castle, Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
Directed by David Semel
Released January 15th, 2015 by Amazon
For fans of Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle will have undoubtedly already been on their radar for quite some time. Dick’s fiction has been adapted into several acclaimed films, including Blade Runner, Minority Report and A Scanner Darkly. In this recent batch of Amazon pilots, Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files) adapts The Man in the High Castle with the vision of turning the source material into a full television series. Those unfamiliar with Dick’s written work need only know that his interest is in science-fiction and that the worlds he creates are generally immersive, vast, and intricately planned-out.
In that regard, The Man in the High Castle is a success. I’ve always thought »
- Sean Colletti
To celebrate the release of Where The Devil Hides, the eerie and atmospheric possession chiller – coming to DVD 26th Jan. 2015 – we have a copy on to giveaway courtesy of Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.
Like recent super-cool indie sleeper-hit The Sacrament, Where The Devil Hides revolves around a religious cult. Unlike that film, Where The Devil Hides’ cast features some of cinema’s most iconic actors – Colm Meaney, Rufus Sewell and Jennifer Carpenter, all turn-in career-best performances.
Where The Devil Hides is available to order on Amazon today: http://amzn.to/1DOHqRW
To win a copy of Where The Devil Hides on DVD, just answer the following question:
Email your answer to NerdlyComps@gmail.com, making sure to include your name and address. »
- Phil Wheat
If picked up, Amazon Pilot The Man In The High Castle could become as compulsive to watch as The Americans meets Lost...
This review contains spoilers.
1.1 The Man In The High Castle (Pilot)
Adapting the worlds of Philip K. Dick to visual media is always a tricky proposition. For whatever reason, the person who has done Dick's work the most justice is Ridley Scott in his production of Blade Runner. Even that was different from the source material, but it works brilliantly as a film thanks to Scott's pruning and shaping, and that's one of the reasons why Amazon Studios' adaptation of The Man In The High Castle has been greeted with such interest from fans of all things weird. After all, when you have Ridley Scott and The X-Files guru Frank Spotnitz attached to the same project, it seems like only good things can result.
Get ready to watch, rate and review Amazon’s just-released pilots — a slate of 13 original comedy, drama, docuseries and kids offerings now available on Amazon Instant Video.
The pilots come from a talented creative roster that includes both newcomers discovered through Amazon Studios as well as highly-acclaimed veterans such as Ridley Scott (Blade Runner), Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files), Carlton Cuse (Lost), Randall Wallace (Braveheart), Shawn Ryan (The Shield), Brad Silberling (Jane the Virgin, Lemony Snickets…), Mark Waters (Mean Girls), Academy and Emmy Award winning director Alex Gibney (The Armstrong Lie), Angela Santomero (Blue’s Clues), and Carol Greenwald (Arthur).
Over the course of the next four weeks, viewer feedback will ultimately help to decide which of them get picked up to full series. So your opinions matter! You could help choose the next Golden Globe-winning series, after all.
Check out the synopsis of each of them below, and start watching them here today. »
Actor Haaz Sleiman was raised Muslim, and describes himself as “spiritual” today, which makes it all the more interesting that he’s playing Jesus in the National Geographic Channel movie about the son of God’s life and death — the combination of those two facts is something that certain religious groups have taken an exception to.
At Wednesday’s Television Critics Association press tour, Sleiman answered questions about his own faith with grace befitting the religious figure he portrays in Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Jesus.” Sleiman explained that the two religions aren’t as different as many people assume, »
- Tony Maglio
Amazon Studios’ first pilot season of 2015 will debut Thursday, Jan. 15, unveiling seven drama and comedy projects as well as a half-dozen kid-centric pilots.
Already due to debut via Amazon Studios this year are the first full seasons of Bosch, Hand of God and Red Oaks, plus Season 2 of Transparent. (Chris Carter’s The After meanwhile just had its series order scrapped.)
The dramas and comedies are as follows (click photos to zoom):
Get ready for our first pilot season of 2015, launching January 15th, when seven new primetime and six new kids pilots will debut on Amazon Instant Video. As with previous pilot seasons, viewers in the Us, UK and Germany will be invited to watch, rate and review them all over the course of four weeks, ultimately helping to decide which of them get picked up to full series.
The new pilots come from both highly-acclaimed and newly-discovered creators, and a legion of talented actors, directors and producers signed on to bring the pilots to life. Here’s a brief summary of each:
The Man in the High Castle – Based on Philip K. Dick’s award-winning novel, and executive produced by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner), The Man in the High Castle explores what it would be like if the Allied Powers had lost WWII, and Japan and Germany ruled the United States. »
Weta Workshop artists worked on Brett Ratner's Hercules, which starred Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson ("G.I. Joe: Retaliation") in the title role. They designed amazing creatures, weapons and costumes. Below, are forty images, which are just a small portion of their effort. You can see alternate and final designs for the serpent-like water monster Lernaean Hydra, the dangerous and massive Erymanthian Boar, the Nemean Lion with the impenetrable hide and the three-headed hellhound known as Cerberus. You can also see costume and weapon designs for Hercules and his comrades Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), Atalanta (Ingrid Bolso Berdal), and Tydeus (Aksel Hennie). Everyone knows the legend of Hercules and his twelve labors. Our story begins after the labors, and after the legend. Haunted by a sin from his past, Hercules has become a mercenary. Along with »
17 items from 2015
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