Edgar, Simon and Nick Meet at The World’s End

by Ethan Alter August 20, 2013 11:04 am
Edgar, Simon and Nick Meet at <I>The World’s End</i>

As a filmmaking team, director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have put their unique satirical spin on zombie films (Shaun of the Dead), buddy cop pictures (Hot Fuzz) and now with their latest collaboration, The World's End, alien invasion features. But as with the previous two installments in the so-called "Cornetto Trilogy," there's a lot going under the surface of this rollicking sci-fi comedy, which stars Pegg as Gary King, a pushing-40 drunkard who reunites his four teenage pals (including Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and, of course, Frost) in order to relive an epic pub crawl in their quaint hometown that they never had the chance to complete. On a recent press tour through New York, the trio discussed the deeper meanings of The World's End and where that evocative title comes from.

The Adventures of Tintin: Raiders of the Lost Unicorn

by Ethan Alter December 21, 2011 6:00 am
<i>The Adventures of Tintin</i>: Raiders of the Lost Unicorn

There's a clever gag early on in The Adventures of Tintin that effectively passes the baton from the title character's comic-book origins in the 1930s to his 21st century incarnation as the hero of a lavish animated blockbuster. In the scene, investigative journalist/globetrotting adventurer Tintin (played here by Jamie Bell via the magic of motion capture technology) is sitting with his back to the audience, having his picture drawn by a flea market street artist. The illustrator puts the finishing touches on the portrait and hands it over to his subject, saying proudly, "I think I've captured your likeness." With that, Tintin turns towards the camera and we see the character's past and present in the same frame. On the canvas is a sketch of Tintin as Belgian artist Hergé first drew him all those years ago. Next to that is the version of the character the animators at Weta Digital -- the New Zealand effects house operated by Peter Jackson, one of the primary creative forces behind this new movie, along with its director Steven Spielberg -- have come up with. While these two faces aren't precisely mirror images of each other, the mo-cap figure is still recognizably Tintin. In a single shot, the filmmakers convincingly lift this iconic character off the two-dimensional comics page and turn him into a walking, talking movie star.

Battle of the Blockbusters: <i>Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol</i> and <i>Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows</i>

After the year-end glut of prestige pictures and awards bait, it's kind of a relief to settle in for a pair of high-concept blockbusters that have no greater ambition beyond blowing stuff up real good. That's the mission statement behind Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol, the second and fourth installments in their respective franchises. The former reunites director Guy Ritchie with Robert Downey Jr. as a strapping, ass-kicking Sherlock and Jude Law as his right hand man/pseudo boyfriend Dr. Watson. The latter matches Pixar wizard Brad Bird (making his live-action directorial debut) with Tom Cruise reprising his role as Ethan Hunt, the Impossible Missions Force's premiere covert agent. Both films emphasize spectacle over story (Ghost Protocol even more so, since several sequences were filmed using IMAX cameras), action over acting and explosions over erudition. But only one of them actually makes good on its promise of escapist entertainment.



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