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The Star eCentral: Movie Reviews

Star Wars invades Singapore

Posted: 15 Jan 2014 11:45 PM PST

(From left) George Lucas, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, unveil a statue of Star Wars character Yoda to officiate the opening of Disney's Lucasfilm's new animation production facility, the Sandcrawler in Singapore. -- AFP/Stefanus Ian 

Rango won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film, while Pacific Rim has grossed more than US$400mil (RM1.28bil) worldwide.

Kennedy, 60, joined Lucasfilm in 2012 after having worked as a producer on more than 60 films, including four of the highest-grossing films in history: Jurassic Park (1993), E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008) and The Sixth Sense (1999).

The eight-time Oscar nominee says she will carry on working as a producer. One of her projects is the highly-anticipated seventh Star Wars film, expected to be released next year (2015).

It has been reported that there will be a new Star Wars film every year, starting from next year (2015), with the seventh film being the first of a trilogy. Origin stories will dominate the slate.

These will sit alongside a series of standalone, spin-off movies, focused on individual characters. Names mentioned in previous reports for possible spin-offs include Yoda, Han Solo and Boba Fett.

Asked if she was concerned about the possibility of the spin-offs distorting the story threads laid down in the original saga, she says that the universe created by series creator George Lucas was large enough to contain "endless opportunities" for new content.

"George was so clear as to how that works. The canon that he created was the Star Wars saga. Right now episode seven falls within that canon. The spin-off movies, or we may come up with some other way to call those films, they exist within that vast universe that he created," she explains.

But there are rules to follow.

"There is no attempt being made to carry characters (from the standalone films) in and out of the saga episodes. Consequently, from the creative standpoint, it's a roadmap that George made pretty clear."

Lucasfilm Singapore is now fully housed in its new seven-storey building at the Fusionopolis high-tech park. All staff from the previous facility at Changi Business Park have moved into the new space, which features a 100-seat theatre and state-of-the-art digital production facilities and a public garden.

The building is named Sandcrawler, after the mining machines seen the Star Wars films.

There are now more than 400 employees at Lucasfilm Singapore, the majority of whom are artists. There are 130 Singaporeans employed there, with the rest coming other countries in the region.

Since its founding in 2005, Lucasfilm Singapore has contributed to projects such as the animated television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, while ILM Singapore was involved in several instalments of The Pirates Of The Caribbean movies, the Transformers trilogy, the Iron Man franchise, The Avengers (2012) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). — The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Love lost

Posted: 15 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

Pierre Andre's latest film focuses on the idea of forsaken romance.

DIRECTOR Pierre Andre had The Notebook in mind when he came up with the script for Muka Surat Cinta. As a fan of love stories, the idea of forsaken love has always intrigued the actor-turned-director.

Muka Surat Cinta tells the story of married couple Putra (played by Mikael Andre) and Luna (Nina Iskandar). Despite Luna's best efforts to make their marriage work, Putra feels that things are going nowhere. Luna also faces another challenge in Nurul (Atikah Suhaime), a girl who has a crush on Putra and will stop at nothing to win his heart.

"In Muka Surat Cinta, I want to focus on the message that we're always searching for love. It's something I want to explore with the audience, that perhaps the person you're looking for is just right in front of you," said Pierre, 28, during a phone interview.

Later, Putra comes across a secondhand book and becomes obsessed with it. In the book, there is a love quote written by its previous owner.

"Putra finds a quote that really moves him in a novel terpakai. The journey begins when he goes on a search to find the person who wrote the quote."

Pierre had initially written the script for Muka Surat Cinta as an independent short film. And instead of Muka Surat Cinta, the original title was Perempuan Muka Surat Tujuh.

"When I pitched the script to (production company) Metrowealth, they asked me to expand the story to make it more suitable for a mainstream audience. I didn't make a lot of changes to the original script. I think the only major change was the film title."

The film also sees Pierre collaborating with his younger brother Mikael. Previously, the two worked together on the horror film Highland Tower.

"Sometimes, it's quite hard because he's young and there is a lot for him to learn. Still, I'm really glad that he got to embody the part really well."

Pierre described his forlorn hero Putra as "the strong, silent type". "There are some things that Putra struggles to say. Eventually, he learns that sometimes, you can convey more by not even saying anything at all." n Muka Surat Cinta opens nationwide on Jan 16.

Muscling his way back in

Posted: 15 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

With two Hercules movies out this year, we look back at the legendary hero's screen appearances over the years.

HERCULES battles Hercules this year, with Kellan Lutz playing the demigod in Renny Harlin's now-in-theatres The Legend Of Hercules and Dwayne Johnson taking on the Greek hero in Brett Ratner's Hercules: The Thracian Wars, based on the Radical Comics miniseries, on July 25.

Of course, Hercules – the Roman name for the Greek hero Heracles – has been immortalised on film for more than 50 years, with similar characters hitting the screen since silent-movie days.

In one guise or another, he's fought ancient-world despots and sorcerers, mythological beasts and the attractions of femmes fatale. He's ridden chariots into battle, horses through treacherous passes and ships to high adventure – often on budgets that wouldn't pay for a minute of Clash Of The Titans.

Yet, whether accomplishing the 12 Labours or leading villagers into rebellion, whether fighting anachronistically in the gladiatorial arena or voyaging with the Argonauts, Hercules on-screen is a hero for the ages. Or at least for the past several decades.

Steve Reeves

"If you want something visual/that's not too abysmal/We could take in an old Steve Reeves movie." So sang the pansexual Dr Frank N Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, alluding to the campy appeal of Hercules (1958) and Hercules Unchained (1959), starring bodybuilder Reeves. The 1947 Mr America and 1950 Mr Universe became a gay icon playing the bare-chested hero in these two Italian-made epics, each released in the United States a year after their European debuts.

The Incredible Herc - Lou Ferrigno traded his torn purple pants for a belt and loincloth to play Hercules in two low-budget sword-and-sandal flicks.

Lou Ferrigno have played Hercules in the past.

In the former, Hercules joins the Argonauts to retrieve the Golden Fleece, and wins the love of Princess Iole (Sylva Koscina). In the latter, he is mystically mesmerised by Omphale, Queen of Lydia (Sylvia Lopez), but eventually regains his memory and saves his captive wife.

Reeves would go on to do a slew of such mythological mishmashes, playing Goliath in Goliath And The Barbarians (1959), Phillipides in The Giant Of Marathon (1959), Aeneas in The Trojan Horse (1961) and Romulus in Duel Of The Titans (1961), among others. But it was his Herculean labours that launched a fantasy-epic subgenre colloquially called ...

Hercules, the Disney version (voiced by Tate Donovan).

Hercules, the Disney version (voiced by Tate Donovan).

Sword-and-sandal films

After the Hercules movies became hits, Italian studios and American distributors released more follow-up films than Hercules had Labours.

Called "sword-and-sandal" or "peplum" films – after the short tunics/overskirts men wore in them – dozens of such films battled it out at the US box office into the mid-1960s. At least 19 starred Hercules, played variously by bodybuilders including Mickey Hargitay, Reg Park, Mission: Impossible's Peter Lupus (credited as Rock Stevens) and Kirk Morris (nee Adriano Bellini).

Like Godzilla in that era's giant-monster movies, Hercules sometimes teamed with others of his ilk, such as Samson, Goliath, Ursus and Italy's homegrown Hercules, Maciste. In fact, a few Hercules movies actually starred one of those interchangeable others – and were retitled and dubbed here to star Herc.

Hercules And The Black Pirate (1963) was the Samson movie Sansone contro il corsaro nero, for instance, while Hercules And The Masked Rider (1964) was the Goliath picture Golia e il cavaliere mascherato.

Animated Hercules

In Walt Disney's Hercules (1997), its title character voiced by Tate Donovan, the young demigod must become "a true hero" in order to join his brethren on Mount Olympus.

Trained by the satyr Phil (Danny DeVito), vexed by the evil Hades (James Woods, who steals the show) and beloved by the conflicted Megara (Susan Egan), he battles the Titans, a hydra and other menaces – and even has time to belt out a few songs.

Facepalm moments

The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (1962). So you don't believe Moe, Larry and Curly-Joe time-travelled to ancient Ithaca to help Hercules (Canadian bodybuilder Samuel "Samson" Burke) depose an evil king? Why, I oughtta ...!

Hercules Against The Moon Men (1964). This Mystery Science Theater 3000 staple actually stars the Italian hero Maciste (Sergio Ciani, aka Alan Steel), dubbed and retitled here to star Herc. Whatever his name, he battles alien invaders in ancient Greece. Talk about Chariots Of The Gods.

Hercules In New York (1969). Billed as Arnold Strong, a 22-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first film teams up with a pretzel vendor, rides a chariot through Times Square, buys lunch at the Automat and gets his voice dubbed by another actor.

The Incredible Herc

In between The Incredible Hulk TV series and TV movies, the two-time Mr Universe Lou Ferrigno starred in the 1983 Italian picture Hercules and its 1985 sequel, The Adventures Of Hercules.

Sorbo the Lean

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (syndicated TV, 1995-1999) was a Hercules for the millennial generation. The hero as portrayed by Kevin Sorbo was lean and green, not a bacchanalian bodybuilder, and as concerned about social equality and the preservation of Mother Earth as he was about protecting villagers from monsters and capricious gods.

With his most frequent sidekick, Iolaus (Michael Hurst), he often encountered the warrior princes Xena (Lucy Lawless), who would spin off into her own syndicated hit. Leading up to Sorbo's series were five 1994 TV movies – all co-starring Anthony Quinn, by Zeus! — Newsday/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services


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