Khamis, 7 November 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

The Desolation Of Smaug has a song


Peter Jackson reveals a track from his upcoming film, written and sung by Ed Sheeran.

OVER the past few weeks, New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson has been pretty busy releasing posters, trailers, exclusive behind-the-scenes clips and pictures of his upcoming movie, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug.

Some days ago, he introduced seven character posters of Bilbo, Thranduil, Thorin, Gandalf, Legolas, Tauriel and Bard.

Early yesterday, Jackson and a few cast members – namely Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans and Andy Serkis – held a live online presentation that took place simultaneously in London, New York, Los Angeles and Wellington (New Zealand), where he resides.

A few hours after that, he put up this new poster (pic) on his Facebook and Twitter pages, which sees all the seven characters in one frame.

And then, early this morning, Jackson gave fans a chance to listen to a brand new track By Ed Sheeran that will be played as the end credits roll in the movie. There's no official word yet whether the song, I See Fire, will be deemed the movie's theme song, but in his Facebook post, Jackson says this: "We have a tradition in our Tolkien films of having a song over the closing credits. 

"It's very important that the song feels right for the world of the movie – and also carries the emotional resonance of the end of that particular film. The Desolation Of Smaug is no different. The ending of this film requires a voice and sensibility that will allow an viewer to process what they have just experienced."

Jackson also talks about how his daughter Katie introduced him to the music of talented young British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran earlier in the year. 

Then, a few weeks ago, while trying to figure out who best to commission for the end credit track, Katie suggested Sheeran, to which Jackson and his wife/producing partner Fran Walsh agreed.

"Ed watched the movie at Park Road Post, immediately went into a room, and started writing and singing. Much of what you will hear on this song was recorded that same day, with a few overdubs and tweaks the following day," shares Jackson of the rough-cut video.

He adds that Sheeran also played the violin in the video, "despite having never played the violin in his life," says the director. The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug music engineer Pete Cobbin coincidentally was around to finish up on Howard Shore's musical scores, so he lent a hand in mixing Sheeran's song.

"It was a great experience, and what you will see in this video are moments captured by our behind the scenes team during the creation of the song. But the images are only supporting Ed's wonderful song. This is his direct emotional response to seeing The Desolation Of Smaug, written and performed on the same day he saw the movie," Jackson concludes.

I See Fire is now available for pre-order on iTunes 

Related story: 

New 'Desolation Of Smaug' posters

War is child’s play


A boy with a brilliant mind learns to lead an army in Ender's Game. 

WRITTEN almost three decades ago, Ender's Game remains ever relevant today to both adults and children. Author Orson Scott Card uses science fiction and fantasy as a platform to write about issues on two ends of the spectrum (bullying and leadership), while never letting his readers forget the ultimate issue, the consequences of war. 

Now, the book – which has captured the hearts and imagination of millions of readers around the world – has been made into a movie starring Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld and Viola Davis. In the film, the story is told from the point of view of 12-year-old Ender Wiggins (Asa) who was conceived to serve in an impending war with an alien nation that tried to conquer Earth before. (In the book he is much younger; in the film Asa looks older than 12.)

Once Ender is recognised as possessing the qualities the military requires – a brilliant tactical mind and an extraordinary gift for calculating winning outcomes – he must attend Battle School, which is located in space. 

There, he must hone his skills so he can become Earth's ultimate leader and warrior. Since he and his fellow soldiers are all children, the training mostly has them playing different kinds of games, including one in a giant zero-gravity space.

Ender soon learns that his lesson never stops even for a moment as he often finds himself in a corner, no thanks to his colleagues or his superiors; and even in the games he must constantly persevere and find a way out. 

What makes this character so enduring is perhaps how he reacts to these tough situations. What also puts him above his peers is his preternatural understanding of his enemies. 

With so many levels of psychological and physical elements in the book – not to mention the sci-fi – the material is definitely ripe for film.

In the production notes of the film, provided by GSC Movies, Linda McDonough – one of the producers – said that she was struck by the intelligence and perceptiveness of a story about a gifted boy thrust into the single-minded world of military training. "It's a compelling story that inspires important discussions about leadership, conflict, resolution and empathy." 

For director Gavin Hood, the story of Ender's Game provided him with a chance to transport audiences to a future world that asks questions our present selves are grappling with. Hood elaborated on one of the questions: "Is real leadership the exercise of brutal authority in order to get people to do what you want, or is it more about drawing them in to get the best out of them? Ender is struggling with these questions throughout the film." 

Since the core of the film revolves around an extraordinary young boy, it was crucial to find an actor who could convey the weight that Ender is carrying and all the inner conflict he is feeling. Producer Lynn Hendee noted: "The book's millions of fans have been projecting themselves into the character for years. People who love the book see themselves in him and it was crucial for the story that we allow them to continue to do that." 

A worldwide search found Asa, who has appeared in films like Hugo, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas and Son Of Rainbow. Hood said of Asa: "When we found Asa, it was like a light bulb went on. Asa is mature beyond his years, genuinely kind, compassionate, intelligent and everything else we needed for Ender. 

"The character is amazingly complicated in terms of both intellect and empathy. The biggest challenge was how to preserve his spirit. Asa does that superbly." 

Asa Butterfield in Ender's Game.

According to Asa, Ender's Game was his favourite script among the scripts he received. The now 16-year-old actor said: "Kid saves the world and fights in zero-gravity – what more could you want? I knew it would be an exciting and fun shoot." 

Another plus to Ender's Game is that it has put Harrison Ford back in outer space. He plays Colonel Hyrum Graff, the commander of the Battle School, the man who recruited Ender into the programme. Ford was intrigued by the complexity of the character and the responsibilities he bears. 

"His job is to win this war for humanity. Failure is not an option. Graff uses extremely young people to fight the war because their minds operate at a higher speed and deal with a tremendous amount of technology and input without getting frazzled." 

Despite all the heavy themes, Hood said Ender's Game has a good balance between the entertainment value and moral issues of the story. The director concluded: "One of the great things about Ender's Game is its amazing ability to feed you both visually and emotionally."

Ender's Game opens in cinemas nationwide tomorrow.

People's Choice Awards nominees


Glee, Sandra Bullock and Katy Perry among those with most nominations.

Television musical series Glee led the nominees for the annual fan-voted People's Choice Awards, while actress Sandra Bullock and pop singers Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake each scored five nominations.

Fox's Glee picked up eight nominations for the only Hollywood awards show covering film, music and television that is voted solely by the public. The People's Choice Awards ceremony, set for Jan 8 in Los Angeles, kicks off the Hollywood awards season, which culminates with the coveted Academy Awards – or Oscars – on March 2 next year.

The People's Choice winners are chosen by fans, who can vote online across 58 categories spanning film, TV and music starting this Thursday through Dec 5.

Glee scored nominations for best network TV comedy, while its stars Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Jane Lynch and Lea Michele each won nominations in the comedy acting categories.

Fan recognition for Glee comes four months after series star Cory Monteith died from a heroin and alcohol overdose in Vancouver, Canada, causing a delay in production. Glee bid farewell to Monteith and his character in a sombre episode last month.

The series also picked up nominations for the awards show's more off-beat accolades, including favourite TV "bromance", favourite TV "gal pals" and favourite on-screen chemistry.

Bullock won nominations for best movie actress, best dramatic actress, best comedic actress as well as two nominations for top movie duo for her roles in outer-space drama Gravity with George Clooney and buddy-cop comedy The Heat with Melissa McCarthy.

Justin Timberlake (right) with Ben Affleck in Runner, Runner. Timberlake has five nominations in the People's Choice Awards. 

Perry picked up her nods for best female music artiste, pop artiste, and favourite music fan following. Her song Roar was nominated for best song and music video. Pop singer Justin Timberlake, who released his album The 20/20 Experience in two instalments this year after a five-year music hiatus, also earned five nods including top male music artiste, pop artiste, R&B artiste, best album and best song for Mirrors.

Action films Fast & Furious 6, Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness along with animated features Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University were nominated for favourite movie. Jennifer Aniston, Robert Downey Jr, Hugh Jackman, Melissa McCarthy and Channing Tatum each picked up three nods in the acting categories.

The awards show will be broadcast on CBS in the United States and hosted by Beth Behrs and Kat Dennings, stars of the CBS comedy series 2 Broke Girls. Organisers said more than 160 million votes were cast to select this year's nominees for the awards, which is in its 40th year. — Reuters


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