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14 items from 2007


Sundance Film Festival 2008: Park City at Midnight lineup

29 November 2007 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- Though small, the horror-fantasy flick section packs a punch with notable standouts including Michael Haneke and George A. Romero preeming their latest and Quentin Tarantino making a comeback. I believe it has been a long time since he showed his face here... not since  film called Reservoir Dogs. Though he didn't direct the project titled Hell Ride - this collaboration between him and Larry Bishop once again ventures into "homage territory". Serving as a launch pad for Magnolia Pictures, we find the new label Magnet Releasing showcasing of Spanish flick Timecrimes. Here are the rest of the films that will show late in the night...:The films screening in Park City at Midnight this year are: "Adventures of Power" / USA, Director and Screenwriter: Ari Gold In his quest to become the world's greatest air-drummer, a small-town dreamer must overcome obstacles and ridicule to save the day. Cast: Adrian Grenier, »

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'Terminator' Series Scraps School Scenes

24 July 2007 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

A U.S. TV series based on The Terminator movies has axed a storyline because of its similarities to the Virginia Tech massacre. The Sarah Connor Chronicles is scheduled to be aired next year and follows a mother trying to protect her son from mankind. But a scene where character John Connor is attacked at school has been axed by TV network Fox, following the mass killings at the university in Virginia in April. Josh Friedman, an executive producer on the Fox TV show, says he is working on a revised storyline. The title role has been given to British actress Lena Headey, who has previously appeared in The Brothers Grimm and Ripley's Game. »

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Eye Candy: Cashback

23 July 2007 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- They often mention making short films as a great industry calling card – thus has been the case for director Sean Ellis whose already moved onto bigger projects with the horror-thriller The Brøken with Lena Headey. Nominated in 04’ for best short film, the film festival audience favorite short film would later become the full length feature film version that was released this just past weekend by Magnolia Pictures. Though it was stylized in a manner that kept me interested, I was not a fan of Cashback and was curious to see the origins of the Cashback idea, so a simple search and I have what I found below. Enjoy the mini version it might make for an interesting comparative study – what do you think?   The short film won the following: Best European Short Film Festival (Grand Prix), Chicago International Film Festival (Gold Hugo), Leuven International Short Film Festival (Audience Award »

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U.S. series stage British invasion

15 June 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Big-ticket U.S. television series were bound for the U.K. en masse Thursday in a slew of major studio deals with U.K. broadcasters.

Virgin Media Television, in a groundbreaking deal with Warner Bros. International Television, has secured exclusive U.K. rights to the upcoming drama "The Sarah Connor Chronicles", starring British actress Lena Headey.

WBITV also signed a programming deal with Channel Four, while Disney ABC International TV also signed with Channel Four for a slew of programming.

Virgin 1 said that it will be giving its new acquisition "the full multimedia treatment -- offering viewers the opportunity to watch whenever and wherever they want." Catch-ups and previews will be available via Virgin Media's television on-demand services.

Virgin also said that its Virgin 1 service will be the new U.K. home of the "Star Trek" franchise -- from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" through to "Star Trek: Enterprise" -- totaling 624 hours of sci-fi programming, acquired from CBS Paramount International Television.

"We're going to commission the best U.S. and U.K. producers to come up with bold and brave ideas that always have entertainment at their heart," Virgin 1 director of programming Celia Taylor said, "but Virgin 1 is also about liberating our viewers with a compelling on-demand offer and exciting UGC and broadband strategies."

Meanwhile, Channel Four has signed a new deal with WBITV securing a slew of programming for Channel Four, E4 and More4, according to Jeff Ford, director of acquisitions for Channel Four, and WBITV president Jeffrey Schlesinger. »

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'Catweazle' to get feature film remake

30 May 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

COLOGNE, Germany -- German production house Niama is teaming up with Richard Carpenter, creator of 1970s Brit TV series "Catweazle", for a feature film remake of the cult children's program.

Niama producers Dan Maag and Thomas Reisser, together with Carpenter and production partner Phil Knight, will co-produce the "Catweazle" film, which begins shooting in September in the U.K. and Germany.

Catweazle is an eccentric magician from 1066 who travels through time to the present day. Convinced the modern world is just a new, strange form of magic, he teams up with a farmer boy to try to find his way back home.

The original "Catweazle" series ran for 26 episodes during 1970-71 on British TV and starred Geoffrey Bayldon as the Norman-age wizard.

John Henderson ("The Borrowers") has signed on to direct the film. Casting is under way.

"Catweazle" will be Niama's second English-language production following World War I biopic "The Red Baron". Directed by Nikolai Mullerschon and starring Matthias Schweighofer, Til Schweiger, Lena Headey and Joseph Fiennes, the tale of legendary German flying ace Baron Manfred von Richthofen had its market debut at the Marche du Film in Cannes. »

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At Myriad, Miller, more on the menu

17 May 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

CANNES -- Sienna Miller is set to star in A Woman of No Importance, Sarah Polley, Paddy Considine, Debra Messing and Scott Speedman will star in Cry of the Owl, and Lena Headey will star in Six Bullets From Now, all part of Myriad Films' Festival de Cannes presales lineup.

In the Oscar Wilde adaptation Importance, Miller plays a 19-year-old American who finds herself falling in love with the womanizing Lord Illingworth (Sean Bean) in the English countryside until his mother (Annette Bening) throws a wrench in his plans. Bruce Beresford is directing Howard Himelstein's screen version of Wilde's comedy, set to begin shooting in September.

In Owl, an adaptation of the novel by Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley), Polley plays a woman who falls for her stalker (Considine). Things take an ugly turn when her jilted ex (Speedman) plans revenge. Messing plays the ex-wife of Speedman's character in Jamie Thraves' upcoming thriller.

Bullets, loosely based on a true story, features Headey as the good-hearted girlfriend of a thief (Josh Lucas) who plans a heist at New York's Pierre Hotel in 1971. »

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Fall season taking on foreign air

15 May 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

It's crunch time for TV studios' business affairs departments, but this year it seems as if they're spending as much time preparing work visas for the shows' stars as they do closing deals for new series.

A trend that emerged during the pilot-casting season comes into focus this week when the networks pick up their new series: Foreign actors are playing the leads on a staggering number of new dramas next season.

There have been a few here and there -- Brit Hugh Laurie of House and Australian Anthony LaPaglia of Without a Trace, both Emmy winners for their roles on the shows -- but never quite like this. It's across the board on every network, and it's massive.

Almost all new drama series with a single lead that will premiere next season -- a total of eight shows -- have a foreign actor playing the role of an American. Even two iconic Hollywood characters, Jamie Sommers of The Bionic Woman and Sarah Connor of the Terminator franchise, will be played by British actresses Michelle Ryan and Lena Headey, respectively.

NBC picked up five one-hour series for next season, the ensemble dramedy Lipstick Jungle, the action comedy Chuck and a trio of single-lead dramas, Bionic Woman, Journeyman and Life, all three of which are toplined by British actors: Ryan, Rome star Kevin McKidd and Band of Brothers star Damian Lewis, respectively.

NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly, who compared Lewis to Laurie at the network's press conference Monday, had been joking that NBC should be nominated for BAFTAs, the British TV awards. »

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'Terminator' Revived for 2009 Movie

11 May 2007 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

The Terminator will be back, thanks to a new takeover by entrepreneurs Victor Kubicek and Derek Anderson. The pair have bought the rights to the film franchise, which has already scored three blockbuster hits, from producers Andy Vajna and Mario Kassar, and they're planning to have a fourth film in cinemas by 2009. It's unlikely that Arnold Schwarzenegger will return as the title character and no director has been attached to the fourth Terminator film. The new movie will center around character John Connor, who was a teenager in the first Terminator films, as he leads mankind on a futuristic battle against machines taking over the planet. The franchise is very much back in vogue - 300 star Lena Headey will reprise Linda Hamilton's Terminator resistance fighter Sarah Conner in a much-anticipated TV series, The Sarah Connor Chronicles. »

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'300' & 'Dead Man's Chest' Lead MTV Movie Award Nominations

1 May 2007 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

War epic 300 and sequel Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest are leading the nominations for the 2007 MTV Movie Awards with five and four nods apiece. Both films have been nominated for the Best Movie award, alongside Blades Of Glory, Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan and Little Miss Sunshine. 300 star Gerard Butler is up for Best Performance and Best Fight, while Lena Headey and Rodrigo Santoro have been nominated for Breakthrough Performance and Best Villain respectively. Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest actors Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley have also both picked up nods for Best Performance, while Bill Nighy is up for Best Villain. The nominations are: Best Movie: 300, Blades of Glory, Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan, Little Miss Sunshine, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Best Performance: Gerard Butler - 300; Johnny Depp - Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest; Keira Knightley - Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest; Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls; Beyonce Knowles - Dreamgirls; Will Smith - The Pursuit Of Happyness Breakthrough Performance: Emily Blunt - The Devil Wears Prada; Abigail Breslin - Little Miss Sunshine; Lena Headey - 300; Columbus Short - Stomp The Yard; Jaden Smith, The Pursuit Of Happyness; Justin Timberlake - Alpha Dog Best Comedic Performance: Emily Blunt - The Devil Wears Prada; Sacha Baron Cohen - Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan; Will Ferrell - Blades Of Glory; Adam Sandler - Click; Ben Stiller - Night At The Museum Best Kiss: Cameron Diaz & Jude Law - The Holiday; Will Ferrell & Sacha Baron Cohen - Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby; Columbus Short & Meagan Good - Stomp The Yard; Mark Wahlberg & Elizabeth Banks - Invincible Marlon Wayans & Brittany Daniel - Little Man Best Villain: Tobin Bell - Saw III; Jack Nicholson - The Departed; Bill Nighy - Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest; Rodrigo Santoro - 300; Meryl Streep - The Devil Wears Prada Best Fight: Jack Black & Hector Jimenez vs. Los Duendes (Wrestling Match) - Nacho Libre; Gerard Butler vs. 'The Uber Immortal' (The Spartan/Persian Battle) - 300; Sacha Baron Cohen vs. Ken Davitian (Naked Wrestle Fight) - Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan; Will Ferrell vs. Jon Heder (Ice Rink Fight) - Blades of Glory; Uma Thurman vs. Anna Faris (Super Girl Fight) - My Super Ex-Girlfriend Best Summer Movie You Haven't Seen Yet: Evan Almighty ; Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer ; Hairspray; Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix ; Rush Hour 3 ; Transformers »

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300

15 February 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

This review was written for the festival screening of "300".BERLIN -- The Frank Miller experience continues in "300". This is the second movie to transfer a muscular story and visuals from a Miller graphic novel to the screen. Instead of the neo-noir, pulp-fiction theater of cruelty in the Robert Rodriguez's 2005 film "Sin City", "300" dives into the mythology of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. Here, according to the graphic novel by Miller and Lynn Varley, 300 Spartan warriors went up against the barbarous hordes of the Persian god-king Xerxes and died valiantly defending Greek notions of freedom and justice.

Those turned off by the sex-and-violence cartoonery of "Sin City" can embrace "300", which screened Out of Competition here. In epic battle scenes where he combines breathtaking and fluid choreography, gorgeous 3-D drawings and hundreds of visual effects, director Zack Snyder puts onscreen the seemingly impossible heroism and gore of which Homer sang in "The Iliad". A raging hero mowing down multitudes with sword, shield and spear suddenly seems plausible.

The designed look of this alternative world, the abstraction and beauty of its topography, colors and forms, open up the human action to larger-than-life deeds and grand gestures that in a more realistic context would be pure camp. The film, which opens domestically March 9, will attract a sizable worldwide audience, skewering heavily male, of course.

Greece in the 5th century B.C. is a land truly favored by the gods, bathed in rich, harmonious Dark Chocolate, beige and gray colors. A prologue swiftly establishes the austere warrior city-state of Sparta, whose men are trained from birth to fight, to never retreat and never surrender.

The film's hero, King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), has lived his entire life to fight this battle against the Persians. Its sole survivor, Dilios (David Wenham), is the one who narrates the tale. Messengers from the Persian army arrive in Sparta, arrogantly offering either capitulation or annihilation. Leonidas kills the messengers.

But political opportunism rules the Spartan Council, which insists that Leonidas consult the Oracle. This consists of beautiful young and drugged women controlled by sickly, corrupt priests. The Oracle refuses to release the Spartan army to its ruler as no battle can occur during an upcoming religious celebration.

So Leonidas has little choice but to "take a stroll" to the north with 300 of his best warriors as "bodyguards." He chooses to engage the Persians in the Thermopylae pass, a narrow corridor between the steep cliffs of the Aegean Sea. Here the vast numbers of the enemy count for little since only a few can go up against Sparta's best at any one time.

The stage is thus set for a cinematic meal: A succession of charges by Persian forces -- slave warriors, physical oddities, African animals, magic wizards and an elite guard called the Immortals in black Darth Vader masks -- is slaughtered by the 300. Snyder instinctively knows when to shift to slow motion or quick stop-action to catch the brilliant athleticism of his fighting choreography. This is thrilling stuff.

Then comes Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) himself, a bejeweled, depraved giant carried on a high tower by his slaves. The god-king tries unsuccessfully to seduce Leonidas in a homoerotic passage as the ancient world stands still.

But it is a deformed and pathetic creature, Ephialtes (Andrew Tiernan), an outcast Spartan, who betrays the 300 by showing Xerxes a hidden path leading behind Spartan lines. The 300 are doomed yet die "beautiful deaths."

Adapting Miller's take on Spartan battle wear, Snyder and costume designer Michael Wilkinson strip the warriors down to essentials: a helmet, shield, red capes, loin cloths and scandals in warm colors. All the rest is manly flesh. The Persians, by contrast, are dressed in all sorts of jewels, peacock color, gold, purple, black -- a hooker's ball of exotic, foreign and decadent costumes.

Snyder and his writers Kurt Johnstad and Michael B. Gordon open up a second front of villainy back home as wily politician Theron (Dominic West) manipulates the council against sending reinforcements and crudely takes Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) sexually. This is weak and unconvincing, but it does get the writers around the historical fact that the expedition against the Persians, fully supported by the city-state, probably numbered around 7,000 rather than 300.

Butler is a paragon of manhood as the fine warrior-king, but in a Frank Miller world there is no time for introspection and doubt, making him a two-dimensional creature in this 3-D world.

Headey, looking alarmingly skinny, seems more like a fashion model than reigning queen. Vincent Regan as the Captain is a man with a ferocious appetite for killing. All other roles are somewhat perfunctory as Spartan ideals overrule much of an inner life.

Obviously, the true stars here are the armies of technicians, designers, fight choreographers and cinematographer Larry Fong, who collaborate on this stylized vision of the ancient world. Then add Tyler Bates' robust, haunting and soulful music.

What isn't clear after two Frank Miller graphic novel movies is where this technique is leading. So far it has served only exaggerated blood, guts and sex. "300" suggests that it might create worlds of myth and fantasy not necessarily ruled by mayhem. If not, though, it's going to get old, even ancient, very fast.

300

Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros. Pictures in association with Legendary Pictures and Virtual Studios present

a Mark Canton/Gianni Nunnari production

Credits:

Director: Zack Snyder

Screenwriters: Kurt Johnstad, Michael B. Gordon

Based on the graphic novel by: Frank Miller, Lynn Varley

Producers: Gianni Nunnari, Mark Canton, Bernie Goldmann, Jeffrey Silver

Executive producers: Frank Miller, Deborah Snyder, Craig J. Flores, Thomas Tull, William Fay, Scott Mednick, Ben Waisbren

Director of photography: Larry Fong

Production designer: James Bissell

Visual effects supervisor: Chris Watts

Music: Tyler Bates

Costume designer: Michael Wilkinson

Editor: William Hoy

Cast:

King Leonidas: Gerald Butler

Queen Gorgo: Lena Headey

Dilios: David Wenham

Theron: Dominic West

Captain: Vincent Regan

Stelios: Michael Fassbinder

Astinos: Tom Wisdom

Xerxes: Rodrigo Santoro

Ephialtes: Andrew Tiernan

Running time -- 117 minutes

MPAA rating: R »

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300

15 February 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

BERLIN -- The Frank Miller experience continues in "300". This is the second movie to transfer a muscular story and visuals from a Miller graphic novel to the screen. Instead of the neo-noir, pulp-fiction theater of cruelty in the Robert Rodriguez's 2005 film "Sin City", "300" dives into the mythology of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. Here, according to the graphic novel by Miller and Lynn Varley, 300 Spartan warriors went up against the barbarous hordes of the Persian god-king Xerxes and died valiantly defending Greek notions of freedom and justice.

Those turned off by the sex-and-violence cartoonery of "Sin City" can embrace "300", which screened Out of Competition here. In epic battle scenes where he combines breathtaking and fluid choreography, gorgeous 3-D drawings and hundreds of visual effects, director Zack Snyder puts onscreen the seemingly impossible heroism and gore of which Homer sang in "The Iliad". A raging hero mowing down multitudes with sword, shield and spear suddenly seems plausible.

The designed look of this alternative world, the abstraction and beauty of its topography, colors and forms, open up the human action to larger-than-life deeds and grand gestures that in a more realistic context would be pure camp. The film, which opens domestically March 9, will attract a sizable worldwide audience, skewering heavily male, of course.

Greece in the 5th century B.C. is a land truly favored by the gods, bathed in rich, harmonious Dark Chocolate, beige and gray colors. A prologue swiftly establishes the austere warrior city-state of Sparta, whose men are trained from birth to fight, to never retreat and never surrender.

The film's hero, King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), has lived his entire life to fight this battle against the Persians. Its sole survivor, Dilios (David Wenham), is the one who narrates the tale. Messengers from the Persian army arrive in Sparta, arrogantly offering either capitulation or annihilation. Leonidas kills the messengers.

But political opportunism rules the Spartan Council, which insists that Leonidas consult the Oracle. This consists of beautiful young and drugged women controlled by sickly, corrupt priests. The Oracle refuses to release the Spartan army to its ruler as no battle can occur during an upcoming religious celebration.

So Leonidas has little choice but to "take a stroll" to the north with 300 of his best warriors as "bodyguards." He chooses to engage the Persians in the Thermopylae pass, a narrow corridor between the steep cliffs of the Aegean Sea. Here the vast numbers of the enemy count for little since only a few can go up against Sparta's best at any one time.

The stage is thus set for a cinematic meal: A succession of charges by Persian forces -- slave warriors, physical oddities, African animals, magic wizards and an elite guard called the Immortals in black Darth Vader masks -- is slaughtered by the 300. Snyder instinctively knows when to shift to slow motion or quick stop-action to catch the brilliant athleticism of his fighting choreography. This is thrilling stuff.

Then comes Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) himself, a bejeweled, depraved giant carried on a high tower by his slaves. The god-king tries unsuccessfully to seduce Leonidas in a homoerotic passage as the ancient world stands still.

But it is a deformed and pathetic creature, Ephialtes (Andrew Tiernan), an outcast Spartan, who betrays the 300 by showing Xerxes a hidden path leading behind Spartan lines. The 300 are doomed yet die "beautiful deaths."

Adapting Miller's take on Spartan battle wear, Snyder and costume designer Michael Wilkinson strip the warriors down to essentials: a helmet, shield, red capes, loin cloths and scandals in warm colors. All the rest is manly flesh. The Persians, by contrast, are dressed in all sorts of jewels, peacock color, gold, purple, black -- a hooker's ball of exotic, foreign and decadent costumes.

Snyder and his writers Kurt Johnstad and Michael B. Gordon open up a second front of villainy back home as wily politician Theron (Dominic West) manipulates the council against sending reinforcements and crudely takes Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) sexually. This is weak and unconvincing, but it does get the writers around the historical fact that the expedition against the Persians, fully supported by the city-state, probably numbered around 7,000 rather than 300.

Butler is a paragon of manhood as the fine warrior-king, but in a Frank Miller world there is no time for introspection and doubt, making him a two-dimensional creature in this 3-D world.

Headey, looking alarmingly skinny, seems more like a fashion model than reigning queen. Vincent Regan as the Captain is a man with a ferocious appetite for killing. All other roles are somewhat perfunctory as Spartan ideals overrule much of an inner life.

Obviously, the true stars here are the armies of technicians, designers, fight choreographers and cinematographer Larry Fong, who collaborate on this stylized vision of the ancient world. Then add Tyler Bates' robust, haunting and soulful music.

What isn't clear after two Frank Miller graphic novel movies is where this technique is leading. So far it has served only exaggerated blood, guts and sex. "300" suggests that it might create worlds of myth and fantasy not necessarily ruled by mayhem. If not, though, it's going to get old, even ancient, very fast.

300

Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros. Pictures in association with Legendary Pictures and Virtual Studios present

a Mark Canton/Gianna Nunnari production

Credits:

Director: Zack Snyder

Screenwriters: Kurt Johnstad, Michael B. Gordon

Based on the graphic novel by: Frank Miller, Lynn Varley

Producers: Gianni Nunnari, Mark Canton, Bernie Goldmann, Jeffrey Silver

Executive producers: Frank Miller, Deborah Snyder, Craig J. Flores, Thomas Tull, William Fay, Scott Mednick, Ben Waisbren

Director of photography: Larry Fong

Production designer: James Bissell

Visual effects supervisor: Chris Watts

Music: Tyler Bates

Costume designer: Michael Wilkinson

Editor: William Hoy

Cast:

King Leonidas: Gerald Butler

Queen Gorgo: Lena Headey

Dilios: David Wenham

Theron: Dominic West

Captain: Vincent Regan

Stelios: Michael Fassbinder

Astinos: Tom Wisdom

Xerxes: Rodrigo Santoro

Ephialtes: Andrew Tiernan

Running time -- 117 minutes

MPAA rating: R

»

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300

15 February 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

BERLIN -- The Frank Miller experience continues in "300". This is the second movie to transfer a muscular story and visuals from a Miller graphic novel to the screen. Instead of the neo-noir, pulp-fiction theater of cruelty in the Robert Rodriguez's 2005 film "Sin City", "300" dives into the mythology of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. Here, according to the graphic novel by Miller and Lynn Varley, 300 Spartan warriors went up against the barbarous hordes of the Persian god-king Xerxes and died valiantly defending Greek notions of freedom and justice.

Those turned off by the sex-and-violence cartoonery of "Sin City" can embrace "300", which screened Out of Competition here. In epic battle scenes where he combines breathtaking and fluid choreography, gorgeous 3-D drawings and hundreds of visual effects, director Zack Snyder puts onscreen the seemingly impossible heroism and gore of which Homer sang in "The Iliad". A raging hero mowing down multitudes with sword, shield and spear suddenly seems plausible.

The designed look of this alternative world, the abstraction and beauty of its topography, colors and forms, open up the human action to larger-than-life deeds and grand gestures that in a more realistic context would be pure camp. The film, which opens domestically March 9, will attract a sizable worldwide audience, skewering heavily male, of course.

Greece in the 5th century B.C. is a land truly favored by the gods, bathed in rich, harmonious Dark Chocolate, beige and gray colors. A prologue swiftly establishes the austere warrior city-state of Sparta, whose men are trained from birth to fight, to never retreat and never surrender.

The film's hero, King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), has lived his entire life to fight this battle against the Persians. Its sole survivor, Dilios (David Wenham), is the one who narrates the tale. Messengers from the Persian army arrive in Sparta, arrogantly offering either capitulation or annihilation. Leonidas kills the messengers.

But political opportunism rules the Spartan Council, which insists that Leonidas consult the Oracle. This consists of beautiful young and drugged women controlled by sickly, corrupt priests. The Oracle refuses to release the Spartan army to its ruler as no battle can occur during an upcoming religious celebration.

So Leonidas has little choice but to "take a stroll" to the north with 300 of his best warriors as "bodyguards." He chooses to engage the Persians in the Thermopylae pass, a narrow corridor between the steep cliffs of the Aegean Sea. Here the vast numbers of the enemy count for little since only a few can go up against Sparta's best at any one time.

The stage is thus set for a cinematic meal: A succession of charges by Persian forces -- slave warriors, physical oddities, African animals, magic wizards and an elite guard called the Immortals in black Darth Vader masks -- is slaughtered by the 300. Snyder instinctively knows when to shift to slow motion or quick stop-action to catch the brilliant athleticism of his fighting choreography. This is thrilling stuff.

Then comes Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) himself, a bejeweled, depraved giant carried on a high tower by his slaves. The god-king tries unsuccessfully to seduce Leonidas in a homoerotic passage as the ancient world stands still.

But it is a deformed and pathetic creature, Ephialtes (Andrew Tiernan), an outcast Spartan, who betrays the 300 by showing Xerxes a hidden path leading behind Spartan lines. The 300 are doomed yet die "beautiful deaths."

Adapting Miller's take on Spartan battle wear, Snyder and costume designer Michael Wilkinson strip the warriors down to essentials: a helmet, shield, red capes, loin cloths and scandals in warm colors. All the rest is manly flesh. The Persians, by contrast, are dressed in all sorts of jewels, peacock color, gold, purple, black -- a hooker's ball of exotic, foreign and decadent costumes.

Snyder and his writers Kurt Johnstad and Michael B. Gordon open up a second front of villainy back home as wily politician Theron (Dominic West) manipulates the council against sending reinforcements and crudely takes Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) sexually. This is weak and unconvincing, but it does get the writers around the historical fact that the expedition against the Persians, fully supported by the city-state, probably numbered around 7,000 rather than 300.

Butler is a paragon of manhood as the fine warrior-king, but in a Frank Miller world there is no time for introspection and doubt, making him a two-dimensional creature in this 3-D world.

Headey, looking alarmingly skinny, seems more like a fashion model than reigning queen. Vincent Regan as the Captain is a man with a ferocious appetite for killing. All other roles are somewhat perfunctory as Spartan ideals overrule much of an inner life.

Obviously, the true stars here are the armies of technicians, designers, fight choreographers and cinematographer Larry Fong, who collaborate on this stylized vision of the ancient world. Then add Tyler Bates' robust, haunting and soulful music.

What isn't clear after two Frank Miller graphic novel movies is where this technique is leading. So far it has served only exaggerated blood, guts and sex. "300" suggests that it might create worlds of myth and fantasy not necessarily ruled by mayhem. If not, though, it's going to get old, even ancient, very fast.

300

Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros. Pictures in association with Legendary Pictures and Virtual Studios present

a Mark Canton/Gianna Nunnari production

Credits:

Director: Zack Snyder

Screenwriters: Kurt Johnstad, Michael B. Gordon

Based on the graphic novel by: Frank Miller, Lynn Varley

Producers: Gianni Nunnari, Mark Canton, Bernie Goldmann, Jeffrey Silver

Executive producers: Frank Miller, Deborah Snyder, Craig J. Flores, Thomas Tull, William Fay, Scott Mednick, Ben Waisbren

Director of photography: Larry Fong

Production designer: James Bissell

Visual effects supervisor: Chris Watts

Music: Tyler Bates

Costume designer: Michael Wilkinson

Editor: William Hoy

Cast:

King Leonidas: Gerald Butler

Queen Gorgo: Lena Headey

Dilios: David Wenham

Theron: Dominic West

Captain: Vincent Regan

Stelios: Michael Fassbinder

Astinos: Tom Wisdom

Xerxes: Rodrigo Santoro

Ephialtes: Andrew Tiernan

Running time -- 117 minutes

MPAA rating: R

»

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Warners Germany flies with 'Red Baron'

6 February 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

COLOGNE, Germany -- Warner Bros. Germany has picked up Niki Muellerschoen's €18 million ($23 million) "The Red Baron", an English-language epic based on the life of the legendary World War I fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen, for German release.

"The Red Baron", which HanWay Films is shopping to buyers at the European Film Market in Berlin, stars Matthias Schweighoefer as the Baron and Joseph Fiennes as his nemesis Capt. Roy Brown.

The feature, currently wrapping postproduction, also features German stars Til Schweiger and Axel Prahl and Lena Headey, who appears in Zack Synder's "300", which has its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival on Feb. 14.

Warner Bros. plans to release "The Red Baron" in German theaters this fall. »

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'300' set for day-and-date Imax bow

25 January 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

TORONTO -- Giant-screen exhibitor Imax Corp. on Thursday said a super-sized version of Warner Bros. Pictures' "300" will bow on its giant screens March 9, day-and-date with traditional theaters.

Toronto-based Imax said that the Zack Snyder sword and sandal adventure about the ancient Spartan battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. will be digitally converted to its big-screen format before it unspools in theaters nationwide.

Each year, Imax screens six or seven digitally remastered Hollywood movies. "300", based on Frank Miller's epic graphic novel, will be the first Hollywood blockbuster on its screens this year.

"Warner Bros. Pictures and the filmmakers are very excited to bring this unique cinematic experience to both conventional and Imax theatres this spring," Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros. Pictures, said in a statement.

"300" stars Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham and Dominic West.

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