20 items from 2014
It represents the culmination of his 16-year, six-film J.R.R. Tolkien marathon — an outsized success in duration, execution, visual-effects wizardry and overall popularity. No director in history has maintained tighter control over the creative direction of a global film franchise, which so far has amassed close to $5 billion in ticket sales alone.
But after bringing his Middle-earth spectacles to the masses, the world’s most famous Kiwi is ready to downsize and return to his low-budget roots: The 53-year-old director-producer-screenwriter is working on adapting several true stories about his native country, with his longtime partner Fran Walsh, that he says will be similar in tone and scope to his 1994 murder tale, “Heavenly Creatures.”
“We really feel a bigger urge now to not continue with another Hollywood blockbuster for a while, »
- Brent Lang and Tim Gray
Despite the admirable Martin Freeman, this last film of a bloated trilogy offers few departures from a tried and tested formula
And so, in the end, we find ourselves once again at the beginning, having travelled there and back again in the company of elves, dwarves, dragons and hobbits – a journey which started 13 years (and more than 17 screen-hours) ago with the unveiling of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in December 2001. Back then, the scope and scale of Peter Jackson’s visual imagination was breathtaking. Animators like Ralph Bakshi had taken a crack at Tolkien’s weighty tomes before, but Jackson was making game-changing use of computer graphics to blur the line between the “real” and the “imagined”. Having never cared for the source novels, I found myself wholly transported to Middle-earth, swept away by the sheer cinematic force of Jackson’s vision. How long ago that all seems now. »
- Mark Kermode, Observer film critic
The opening pages to our exclusive Bad Taste reunion in the January 2015 issue of Empire: (L-r) Peter Jackson, Craig Smith, Mike Minett, Terry Potter and Ken Hammon, photographed exclusively for Empire in New Zealand, on October 22, 2014. Photo: Louise Hatton.In 1987, an ill-equipped but fanatically dedicated New Zealander put the finishing touches on his first movie. That New Zealander was Peter Jackson, and over four long years his short film Roast Of The Day had mutated into Bad Taste, a Diy sci-fi epic about an alien invasion of his hometown, Pukerua Bay. To play the commandos taking on the extraterrestrial threat (as well as the intergalactic bastards themselves), Jackson drafted in his mates Ken Hammon and Pete O’Herne, Hammon’s work colleague Craig Smith, and two guys from the newspaper he worked at, Terry Potter and Mike Minett. For effects, he cooked up prosthetics in his mum’s oven and constructed a rickety flying house. »
That’s the title of Jackson’s ultra-low budget 1987 directorial debut, but unless you’re a hardcore fan, you’ve probably never seen the bizarre sci-fi gross-out comedy about aliens looking to turn humans into low-calorie delicacies for an intergalactic fast food chain.
In addition to directing, Jackson served as writer, producer, cinematographer, co-editor and the head of makeup and special effects. On top of all that, he cast himself in two leading roles: nasty alien Robert (who has a beard) and human extraterrestrial-buster Derek (sans facial hair). In one memorable sequence, Robert pushes Derek off a cliff. (He survives, but cracks his skull and tries to prevent his brain from leaking out for the rest of the film.)
Jackson made the film on weekends over a four-year period, while »
- Geoff Berkshire
Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb…
Variety’s Maane Khatchatourian covers James Gunn’s Facebook comments regarding shared movie universe building:
“The director implies that franchises like “Star Wars,” “Iron Man,” “The Dark Knight” and even “Transformers” and “Twilight” are in the clear because they were conceived as single films and only grew into movie series following audience demand. “But these days studios are trying to grow trees without a strong seed,” he wrote. “Execs and producers and sometimes even directors are focused on the big picture, without perfecting the task directly in front of them — making a great movie.”
Read Gunn’s full comments here.
It is interesting how James Gunn, director of Guardians of the Galaxy, has criticised the one thing that ensured the success of his film. Of course, had Guardians of the Galaxy been produced by a different studio without the connections to the Marvel universe, »
- Simon Columb
Although the ante was upped during the attitude era of the late 90s, controversial or un-pc angles were no stranger to the wrestling business in the years before then. For decades promoters have been presenting raunchy, racist, homophobic or otherwise offensive angles in the hope that controversy will create cash or, at the very least, some mainstream publicity. In the world of professional wrestling there is no such thing as bad publicity even if Vince McMahon can often be found launching tirades against the ‘evil media’. Vince and company have given the media plenty of firepower in this perceived witch-hunt against WWE and their past indiscretions undoubtedly harmed Linda McMahon’s two failed bids for a seat in the Us Senate in 2010 and 2012.
- Lewis Howse
How good is the low budget New Zealand horror film Housebound? Well, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has hailed it as "Bloody brilliant!"—and the man knows what he's talking about, having started his career with such minimally financed but fabulous splatterfests as 1987's Bad Taste. Written and directed by Gerard Johnstone, Housebound stars Morgana O’Reilly as a young woman named Kylie Bucknell who, according the official synopsis, "is forced to return to the house she grew up in when the court places her on home detention. Her punishment is made all the more unbearable by the »
- Clark Collis
Well this years Frightfest is over and I’ve had a week to digest everything – it’s safe to say this year was… interesting. The move from the Empire to Vue West End, whilst not without the odd teething problem, was a success. Yes, the atmosphere had changed a little, at least in terms of experiencing a film with hundreds of people instead of thousands, but the positives of the move truly outweighed any negatives. My personal positive? The wide range of films on show this year and that fact there was No problems getting into the Discovery Screens this year – which in my own case, was where I saw some of the best films of the festival.
Speaking of films, whilst there was no outstanding, totally blown me away, movie this year, there overall standard was Very high, with only one real dud of the entire week (and I »
- Phil Wheat
It’s the third day of shooting the low budget horror ‘Tonight They Come’ on location in the wilds of New Zealand. The director is already beside himself having to work with a self-obsessed leading man and a bimbo actress when into his line of fire comes a new runner, wannabe screenwriter Wesley Pennington. An accident-prone nerd, Wesley tries his best to fit in with the crazed cast and demented crew while falling head over heels for Susan, the set caterer. But something nasty has entered the local water supply and suddenly the zombie extras start acting like genuine members of the living dead, gore stunts looks even more authentic and actual severed limbs fly. “Reel life” turns real life as Wesley attempts »
- Phil Wheat
Permanently pissed-off Kylie Bucknell is, after a bungled robbery, forced by the courts to return to her family home when she’s given an eight-month home detention sentence. Her punishment for a botched Atm raid is made all the more intolerable by the fact she has to live with her over-bearing motor-mouth mother Miriam who’s convinced the house is haunted. But after dismissing Miriam’s superstitions, rebellious Kylie too starts hearing unsettling whispers in the dark, creaking floorboards and strange bumps in the night. Has she inherited her mother’s overactive imagination or is there indeed evil afoot between the windows and doors?
- Phil Wheat
After a brief hiatus due to our live coverage of Comic-Con, we’re back with a double-sized edition of the Indie Spotlight, highlighting the recent independent horror news sent our way. Today’s feature includes a new trailer for Come Back to Me and I Spill Your Guts 2, release details on Schism, Silent Retreat, and the Class of Nuke ‘Em High soundtrack, and much more:
Come Back to Me Trailer: “Sarah (Walder) and Josh McLaren (Passmore) are a young married couple living in suburban Las Vegas. Shortly after a car accident, Sarah begins to suffer a series of disturbing memory lapses and frequent blackouts that seem to be increasing in intensity. Unsure of what is happening, and feeling as though she is losing her mind, Sarah comes to learn she is pregnant. To add to her shock, she subsequently discovers that her husband is sterile. As her marriage and world begin to fall apart, »
- Tamika Jones
"Will you follow me one last time?" It was interesting how different my reaction to Saturday's panel for "The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies" was to the reaction Greg Ellwood had. I agree with him that Cate Blanchett was positively radiant and that Stephen Colbert couldn't have been funnier in his unbridled nerd enthusiasm for all things Tolkien. I think everyone on the panel was great. I love these people, no doubt about it. And as I've written, I think the "Hobbit" films so far are good at what they're doing and getting better, while still not as great as the work he did on "Lord Of The Rings." What I had a problem with on Saturday was that the panel was at least twice as long as anything else Warner Bros. did. I guess at this point, financially speaking if nothing else, Peter Jackson and company have »
- Drew McWeeny
Bengal Mangle Productions have claimed that Ted is an unlawful copy of their animated bear from web series, Charlie The Abusive Teddy, that was aired in 2009 and 2010 on YouTube and FunnyOrDie.com. They said that Charlie and Ted both have strong similarities with one another, as they spend most of the time sitting on the living room couch, drinking and smoking. Also, their mannerisms such as swearing and attitudes to things are substantially the same they added and what’s even more bizarre is that they also bought in Twitter accounts in to the argument, saying they too copy the tone of Charlie.
- Louise Tooth
They're talented, individual, but could, possibly, do with a bit of editorial guidance. Could these directors use a boss, we wonder?
In truth, we're a bit frightened about this one. Several times in pub/coffee shop/cider drinking in the park conversations, we've chatted about film directors who perhaps have got too powerful, that they seem to be able to get their own way without having someone to call bullshit on them - be it a good boss, or a very good friend that they trust and listen to.
This can be a very good thing. After all, we want film directors to be free to tell their stories. We don't want studio suits calling the shots. And some directors use their independence wondefully well, without losing what bought it to them in the first place (so, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Robert Zemeckis and such like).
It’s no secret that The Hobbit films haven’t been as universally praised as director Peter Jackson’s trilogy of Lord of the Rings films, with many pointing to The Hobbit’s propensity for CG over practical effects (and discarding of miniatures altogether) as distracting and, at times, downright ugly. Though Jackson got his start with gore-filled, practical effects-based horror comedies like Bad Taste and Dead Alive, his recent work has leaned heavily on visual effects. However, Jackson’s affinity for CG sequences didn’t simply begin with The Hobbit or even King Kong, but with the Lord of the Rings trilogy itself. Rewatching the films, one can see a growing amount of CGI-enhanced sequences as the series moves on, with Return of the King concluding in the epic VFX-heavy battle of Minas Tirith. Though some are fans of what Jackson has been doing with cutting-edge technology, others are disappointed in the shift. »
- Adam Chitwood
Stars: Jason Crowe, Josh Eal, Erin R. Ryan, Steve Rimpici, Dustin Mills, Allison Fitzgerald, Janet Jay, Roni Jonah, Brandon Salkil, Minnie Grey, Eugene Flynn, Dave Parker | Written and Directed by Dustin Wayde Mills
Dustin Wayde Mills is an indie filmmaker out of Ohio, who specializes in low (some would say micro) budget horror, a number of which involve puppets(!), released directly to his [growing] fanbase via self-distributed DVD, Blu-ray and VOD channels. Having found some success with the films released under his Dustin Mills Production banner, Mills has expanded his repertoire with his new production shingle Crumpleshack Films which aims to produce rough(er) exploitation flicks. And with the release of the first Crumpleshack Films production, Her Name Is Torment, we’re taking a look at some of the highlights of Mills’ oeuvre, beginning with his killer bunny flick Easter Casket.
All hell breaks loose when Peter Cottontail aka The Easter »
- Phil Wheat
The New Zealand Film Commission is getting out of the business of selling feature films and shorts internationally as part of a wide revamp of the agency.s structure and mission.
The Nzfc will seek to place the new and recent films it represents with sales agents and is hiring a consultant with sales experience to manage the transition. That process will start on April 1.
The organisation, which has 129 films under its care, will continue to handle sales of at least some of the older titles. The Commission has sold the films it produced or invested in for more than 40 years, including An Angel at My Table, Bad Taste, Vigil, Once Were Warriors, Sleeping Dogs, Smash Palace, The Navigator, The World's Fastest Indian and, more recently, Black Sheep, Eagle vs Shark, Two Little Boys and Fresh Meat.
Lindsay Shelton, who served as marketing director from its inception in 1979 until 2001, was »
- Don Groves
It’s going to be a tough ask for writer/director Joss Whedon to top his hugely enjoyable and successful superhero ensemble The Avengers. As we wait patiently for the follow-up, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, we’re left to ponder the script direction and just what our favourite comic-book characters will be up against this time around. Most recently we learned not only will S.H.I.E.L.D.’s finest battle James Spader’s robotic villain in the sub-title but Thomas Kretschmann’s Baron von Strucker!
In a recent interview, Whedon has commented on the upcoming sequel and which franchise – or more specifically ‘entry’ – he’s going to be drawing his inspiration from:
“The events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier will definitely affect the world of Avengers 2. But at the end of the day, I have to make my movie assuming that people will only have seen the first one, or possibly »
- Craig Hunter
Further information has come to light regarding the Italian part of filming on the upcoming "Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron".
Along with the previously announced Fort Bard in Northern Italy, the nearby municipalities of Aosta, Donnas, Pont-Saint-Martin and Verres will also be used for location filming. Up 1,500 cast and crew, including 500 extras, will be involved in the film.
Reportedly Marvel submitted proposals to use the location over nine months ago, so this filming has been planned for a while.
In less confirmed news, reports have emerged of some filming for the movie taking place in Korea, specifically Seoul's Gangnam District and surrounding Gyeonggi Province.
The bulk of filming takes place at Pinewood-Shepperton in the UK starting this March.
Source: Bad Taste & KPopStarz »
- Garth Franklin
Joss Whedon attended the French premiere of his "Much Ado About Nothing" film recently where he discussed the project he's heavily involved in prep for now, some small Marvel film called "Avengers: Age of Ultron".
Talking with Allocine, he revealed that the upcoming "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" will have an impact on the story in 'Ultron', and added that Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather: Part II" was a major influence on the upcoming sequel:
"The events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier will definitely affect the world of Avengers 2. But at the end of the day, I have to make my movie assuming that people will only have seen the first one, or possibly not even seen the first one.
- Garth Franklin
20 items from 2014
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