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The Star eCentral: Movie Reviews

Oozing with fun

Posted: 30 May 2014 08:24 PM PDT

L. Frank Baum's grandson gets his own Oz movie.

A friend suggested during a dinner party that Roger Baum – the great-grandson of Wizard Of Oz creator L. Frank Baum – should write a book based on the characters who live in the Land of Oz.

Roger Baum got past his initial misgivings and wrote Dorothy Of Oz in 1989. It's taken 25 years, but a film version of the book, the animated Legends Of Oz: Dorothy's Return, opens this coming Thursday.

"My initial reaction was a presumption that I could do it. Then I began to wonder if I could really do it. There are millions of Oz fans worldwide.

"My great-granddad's books have been translated into 72 different languages. I didn't want to insult my great-granddad, but I think it worked out OK," the 75-year-old Baum says.

Until four years ago, Baum didn't think the book would ever be made into a movie. He did suspect that if anyone was interested, it would be Alpine Pictures since the company had a quote from the introduction to L. Frank Baum's The Last Princess on its website: "A prominent educator tells me that fairy tales are of untold value in developing imagination in the young. I believe it."

The film company initially had no interest in Roger Baum's work, but it eventually opted to adapt the first book Baum ever wrote based on the Oz characters.

Fans of the Oz books will see familiar faces – Dorothy and Toto – but also new characters such as the wicked Jester (voiced by Martin Short), the heroic Marshal Mallow (Hugh Dancy), the wobbly owl Wiser (Oliver Platt) and the ancient tree Tugg (Patrick Stewart).

Baum's plan was to use the original characters from his grandfather's books to bridge his works to the original tales, but he then add new characters and events even if they didn't line up exactly with the original books.

"My great-granddad wrote 14 books and he never meant for them to be a series. But the kids kept asking for another one," Baum says. "Some of his books are contradictory. So I thought it was safer to add new characters. I also kept that all of the stories are about love, heart, wisdom and courage."

And just like his great-grandfather, Baum turned to the Flying Monkeys for the scary parts.

The adaptation of Dorothy Of Oz to script form, by Adam Balsam and Randi Barnes, included several changes. They moved the scenes of Dorothy in Kansas to a more modern time and had the evil Jester turn the people of Oz into marionettes instead of china dolls.

Baum had final script approval, but he was very cautious about suggesting changes to the early pages.

"You can change one thing at the beginning and it has a ripple effect. I found myself concentrating on the ending because those were simple to manoeuvre and change. The important thing was that good wins over evil," Baum says.

He understands why so many people love the books his great-grandfather wrote because his parents read him the books every night.

L. Frank Baum died 19 years before Roger Baum was born, but he heard lots of stories about his great-grandfather.

"I hope this is a compliment to my great-granddad," Baum says. "It was a scary proposition but also my honour."

Legends Of Oz: Dorothy's Return opens in cinemas nationwide on June 5.

Starlight Cinema, Malaysia's biggest outdoor cinema, is back!

Posted: 28 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Set down your picnic baskets and lay out your mats – Starlight Cinema, Malaysia's biggest outdoor cinema, is back!

Taking place at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian Park from June 13 to 21, moviegoers will be treated to some of Hollywood's biggest titles like The Dark Knight trilogy, Man Of Steel, Pacific Rim, both instalments of Despicable Me, plus classics like The Sound Of Music and Titanic.

"We decided to bring back Starlight Cinema this year due to an overwhelming response from fans who have clearly missed the cinematic event," said organiser Rev Asia Holdings Sdn Bhd's managing director Voon Tze Khay.

"We've lined up an interesting bag of movies, which should keep audiences happy," he added.

Horror flicks such as Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and The Conjuring will also be shown.

On top of that, there will also be a beer garden, a bazaar, plus other activities that will help moviegoers unwind (or you could simply look up and gaze at the stars).

For a complete movie listing and show times, visit

Très Jolie effect: Angelina through the years

Posted: 28 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Angelina Jolie has grown from being gothic and rebellious to becoming one of the most powerful and graceful women in Hollywood. Let's chart her maturity through her projects.

The Rock 'N' Roll Dreams Come Through (1994)

Before Jolie got herself onto the A-list, she was cast next to Meatloaf for this music video. Check it out: She's only 19, but there's no mistaking those lips and her eyes.

Hackers (1995)

This was the film in which Jolie met her first husband, British actor Jonny Lee Miller (now starring in the TV series Elementary). They were married shortly after the movie was done, and divorced four years later.

Gia (1998)

Jolie took on the challenging part of 1980s supermodel Gia Carangi, who rose to the top of the fashion world as quickly as she was struck down by her untimely death at age 26. For her effort, Jolie won a Golden Globe and received an Emmy nomination.

Pushing Tin (1999)

Jolie met her second husband, much older US actor Billy Bob Thornton, in this film. In their brief marriage, they provided fodder for the tabloids with their unusual public displays of affections (for example, wearing vials of each other's blood). They divorced in 2003 after four years.

Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Jolie won her first Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress with this film. She was lauded for portraying a mental patient with passion and insight, although her sanity was in question at the Oscars when she kissed her older brother James Haven on the lips, leaving him in tears during her acceptance speech and raising the eyebrows of everyone watching.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Fanboys finally learned that Jolie was as adept in action sequences as she was in dramatics, and this was the start of many action movies she would make. The film was a hit, despite Jolie's terrible British accent, as Lara Croft proved she was no archaeologist by trampling all things ancient.

Mr & Mrs Smith (2005)

Another film, another "husband". Brad Pitt's marriage to Jennifer Aniston was falling apart when Jolie met him on the set of this hit film. Yes, that fact is arguable, but there was a sex scene that had to be deleted for the film to earn it a PG-13 rating. You decide.

A Mighty Heart (2007)

Pitt produced this movie based on real events that shocked the world. Jolie took on the part of French freelance journalist Mariane Pearl, who went in search of her husband Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter, when he was kidnapped (and ultimately murdered) by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002.

Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Though Jolie did give her voice to another animated film, 2004's Shark Tale, she sounds much better here as the fearsome warrior-cat Tigress. She was also in the sequel Kung Fu Panda 2 and two other related short films, Kung Fu Panda Holiday and Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters.

Changeling (2008)

Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film based on real events received three Oscar nominations, including one for Jolie in the Best Actress category. The film stars Jolie as a working single mum in California in the 1920s, who is reunited with her missing son (by a corrupt police force) only to realise he is an impostor.

In The Land Of Blood And Honey (2011)

After directing the documentary, Jolie went on to direct this war drama set during the Bosnian War.

Unbroken (2014)

Other than Maleficent, Jolie has another movie this year that she directed. The feature film, scripted by Joel and Ethan Coen, chronicles the life of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic track star who survived a plane crash in the Pacific theater, spent 47 days drifting on a raft, and then more than two and a half years as a prisoner of war in several brutal Japanese internment camps. 


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