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The great outdoors in film

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Wed, 18/06/2014 - 09:39

To mark the release of British comedy Downhill on DVD and digital platforms, we recount the best films set in the great outdoors...

Downhill (2014)
TV commercial director James Rouse’s big-screen debut Downhill tells the story of four old school friends who reunite decades later in order to complete an epic coast to coast walk across the United Kingdom. The comically incompatible foursome are led by Gordon (Richard Lumsden) and include Keith (Karl Theobald), Simon (Jeremy Swift) and Ned Dennehy’s delightful scene-stealing troublemaker Julian. As revelations are revealed, strops are thrown and feet begin to ache, this comedy not only charms, but enlightens.

The Deer Hunter (1979)
Michael Cimino’s classic, set at the time of the Vietnam war, begins its epic running time in Clairton, a small working class town on the Monongahela River, south of Pittsburgh, where three friends embark on a deer hunting trip. When the Vietnam scenes come around, the film takes itself to Saigon – despite the depravity and disturbing on-screen events, the locale remains a memorable part of the film.

The River Wild (1994)
Despite marital problems, Boston couple Gail (Meryl Streep) and Tom (David Strathairn) head on a rafting trip down the Salmon river in Idaho with their son and pet Dog. On their way, they meet Wade and Terry (Kevin Bacon and John C. Reilly) who at first appear friendly, but show their true colours as violent criminals. To the backdrop of secluded wilderness, the tension is amped up as the family try to escape the two men.

The Edge (1997)
Set in a remote Alaskan locale, The Edge stars Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin who head into the outdoors to conduct a photo shoot. Their plane crashes forcing the two of them into an outdoor territory unknown to them, and one where they have to work together if they’re to survive - especially considering a vicious grizzly bear has targeted them.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)
This horror sleeper smash blockbuster depicts found hand-held camera footage of three student filmmakers who disappeared whilst hiking in the Black Hills near Burkittsville, Maryland to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch. Hiking through the woods, secluded from the outside world, the three begin losing their grip on reality as strange events begin to occur around them - not aided by one of them throwing their map in a creek!

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
Considered by many to be one of the most ambitious film projects to be undertaken, Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy were all filmed simultaneously on-location in New Zealand, best exemplified in the storyline strand following Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Samwise’s (Sean Astin) quest to destroy the powerful ring at Mordor. Filled with plenty of breathtaking sweeping shots that will take your breath away every time, New Zealand is as much a part of this film as everybody else involved.

Into the Wild (2007)
This heartbreaking biographical drama recounts the life of Christopher McCandless. After graduating from Emory University as a top student and athlete, Christopher abandons his possessions, gives all his savings to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, he not only takes in stunning scenery but also encounters a myriad of characters that shape his life.

127 Hours (2010)
This biographical survival drama co-written and directed by Danny Boyle is forced to pretty much take place outside for the entirety of its running time due to the plot, which tells the real-life story of canyoneer Aron Ralston who became trapped by a boulder in an isolated slot canyone in Blue John Canyon in southeastern Utah. The sunshine-strewn location is dazzling, despite the mounting tension that unravels on screen

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1  (2010)
The penultimate instalment of the record-breaking films based on JK Rowling’s novels, this was the first film to take the action out of Hogwarts School. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) find themselves camping in the forest of Dean while on the run from Death- Eaters and desperately searching for the remaining Horcruxes needed to destroy Voldemort. The less-than-cosy camping conditions quickly lead to fractures within the trio, and the peril is noticeably heightened as the heroes must cope without the protection of Hogwart’s enchanted walls...

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola were nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar for this charming, suitably offbeat tale of two youngsters who flee their New England town, causing a local search party to fan out to find them. Typically of an Anderson film, the shots are stunning and take on an almost cartoonish quality in their perfection, while the New England setting proves utterly apt for this funny, romantic (and admittedly, slightly warped) love story.

Downhill is available now on DVD and digital platforms

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Screenjabber Wrestling Podcast 3: A View to a Phil

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Tue, 17/06/2014 - 11:10

The gang are back for the mid-year review of all things WWE, and where wrestling is heading in general for the second half of 2014. Host Tom "Tornado" Mimnagh is joined by "Jumpin" James Nicolaou, "Indie" Mike Loukoumis, "Double H" Harry Harrison-Sumter and "Dangerous" Daniel Akinbola to chat Daniel Bryan, the vacant WWE title, Seth Rollins turning on The Shield, the main event of Wrestlemania, and a certain Mr Philip Brooks. So sit back, relax, and get ready for 45 minutes of pure wrestling talk.

You can listen to and download the podcast – or subscribe to it on iTunes ... plus you can follow us on Twitter and join us on Facebook.

PubQuest: We're looking to take the Screenjabber Pubcast on the road, and want your input. Know a great pub in London we should visit to record the show? Drop us a line and let us know.

WriterQuest: We're seeking some more writers, particularly those who want to cover video games for us. Please get in touch if you're keen.

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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Tue, 17/06/2014 - 07:42

22 Jump Street and How To Train Your Dragon 2 both score

By Rich Matthews

In an expected turn, the battle of this week's sequels was won by the R-rated comedy rather than the family-friendly CGI animation. 22 Jump Street, starring returning action goofballs Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, posted the second-biggest opening ever for an R-rated comedy, behind the $85m of The Hangover Part II, with $60m. That's a hefty 65 per cent bump on the original's opening in March 2012, and it's also directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller's second $60m-plus opening this year, following the blockbuster The LEGO Movie. Its global total currently stands at $80.6m.

Coming in just behind with $50m was DreamWorks Animation's How To Train Your Dragon 2. This is a much-needed improvement for Dreamworks following a series of disappointments and is its best opening in four years. However, even though it's higher than the first film's $44m, it doesn't reflect the kind of increase expected for this kind of follow-up, given the huge popularity of the first film, plus a TV series. This reflects a similar pattern shown by Dreamworks' Kung Fu Panda 2, which also opened soft and actually ended up grossing less in North America than the original despite massive popularity.

It's worth noting that both sequels stressed action over fun in their marketing, which may have alienated some of the target audience looking for fare for younger kids. It has currently taken $76.1m worldwide.

The newly-anointed Dame Angelina Jolie edged down to third, with Disney's Maleficent taking $19m to build its US total to $163.5m and its global gross of $436.4m. Tom Cruise's fun sci-fi blockbuster Edge Of Tomorrow continued to struggle domestically, adding $16.2m to its gross of $56.6m – however, Cruise's international star still burns bright with the $175m-budgeted tentpole having grossed $237.6m worldwide. Tomorrow also edged in front of the fan-driven The Fault In Our Stars, which tumbled a fairly precipitous 67.2 per cent to take $15.7m for a US tally of $81.7m and global cume of $120.5m.

The rest of the top 10 was made up of X-Men: Days Of Future Past at six passing the $200m mark with $9.5m and a global total of $661.7m, Godzilla at seven with a further $3.2m taking its domestic total up to $191.3M (worldwide $439.6m), Seth MacFarlane's flop Western comedy A Million Ways To Die In The West at eight with $3.1m ($39m, $59m), Seth Rogen and Zac Efron in the chart's other runaway comedy hit Neighbors at nine with $2.5m ($143.1m, $228.7m), and Jon Favreau's indie cooking dramedy Chef rounding out the chart with $2.3m ($14.1m).

Next weekend sees R-Pattz and Guy Pearce's The Rover expanding nationwide and Clint Eastwood's adaptation of Broadway staple Jersey Boys, neither of which will likely make much of a dent in the top three. However, June 27 heralds the arrival of what looks likely to be the biggest flick of the summer, Michael Bay's Transformers: Age Of Extinction.

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That's Showbiz! With Jenny

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sun, 15/06/2014 - 20:28

By Jenny Priestley 

Well I have to say I'm not at all surprised at the news that Steven Spielberg wants to turn Bryan Cranston's turn as Lyndon Johnson into a mini-series. Having seen Cranston in the role on Broadway recently, I have to say he's absolutely fantastic as the former US President. Spielberg is in the process of optioning the Tony Award-winning play and wants Cranston reprise the role which won him Best Actor at last weekend's Tony Awards. The series will focus on Johnson's first year as the leader of the free world, from Kennedy's assassination to his re-election victory.

Meanwhile, Spielberg is lining up another Tony Award-winner for his latest film. British actor Mark Rylance is in talks to join Tom Hanks in the as-yet untitled Cold War thriller. The story follows James Donovan, a lawyer enlisted  by the CIA to go behind the Iron Curtain to negotiate the release of a US pilot. Filming begins in the autumn.

★ William H Macy has joined Mel Gibson in the thriller Blood Father. The film's plot is about a former prisoner who reunites with his estranged 16-year-old daughter, who has been targeted by drug dealers. The film's directed by Jean-Francois Richet.

★ Kirsten Wiig is heading behind the camera to make her directorial debut with a new film she's written with Annie Mumulo, her co-writer on Bridesmaids. The new film will follow two best friends who are "in over their heads and out of their depths". The pair will star as the lead characters.

Meanwhile, Wiig's Bridesmaids co-star Maya Rudolph is joining Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in their new comedy about two grown sisters who decide to throw one last huge party in their parents' house before it's sold. The Nest will also feature James Brolin.

And in yet more Bridesmaids-related news, Melissa McCarthy will be planting her hands and feet in concrete in Hollywood next month. She's taking part in the ceremony at the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre in July 1, the day after the LA premiere of her new film, Tammy.

US TV network NBC is planing to make an "event series" about The Beatles. It'll be an eight-part drama charting the rise of the Fab Four (I can't write 'and fall' as they arguably never did). The show is being created by Michael Hirst, who previously gave us The Tudors. No word yet on who'll be playing John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Everyone seems to be talking about Orange Is The New Black following the release of season two on Netflix the other week. Now producers are busy working on season thee and have asked Mary Steenburgen to join the cast. No word yet on who she'll be playing.

Some of the cast from The Fault In Our Stars will be in London to promote the film's UK release later this week. As well as a special screening on Tuesday, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern and Nat Wolff will be at the Apple Store on Regent Street on Monday to promote the film. No Shailene Woodley though.

Meanwhile, Divergent – which also stars Woodley and Elgort – will be out on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK on August 11.

Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey is to receive the 2014 American Cinematheque Award on October 21.The annual event will honouring McCoanughey for his contribution to cinema over the last 20 years. Let's hope they focus more on his work in Dallas Buyers Club than Failure to Launch.

★ Kylie Minogue is resurrecting her acting career by working with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. She's joining the action star in the disaster flick San Andreas. As I'm sure you've guessed, the plot follows a huge earthquake in California. We don't know how big Kylie's role will be yet but the film's out next summer.

★ Keanu Reeves is to replace Daniel Craig in courtroom drama The Whole Truth. Reeves will play a lawyer defending his client who is accused of murdering his wealthy father. The cast also includes Renee Zellweger and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (currently starring in Belle). Filming begins next month.

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Screenjabber Podcast: Listen to us, you bastards

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sun, 15/06/2014 - 19:50

Join Sarah Sharp, Mark Searby, Jessy Williams, David Watson and host Stuart O'Connor as they eulogise Rik Mayall, scrutinise the Sheffield DocFest and reviewerise (that's a word, isn't it?) the new entries in UK cinemas this week: Oculus, A Perfect Plan, 112 Weddings, The Young and Prodigious TS Spivet and Devil's Knot.

You can listen to and download the podcast – or subscribe to it on iTunes ... plus you can follow us on Twitter and join us on Facebook.

PubQuest: We're looking to take the Screenjabber Pubcast on the road, and want your input. Know a great pub in London we should visit to record the show? Drop us a line and let us know.

WriterQuest: We're seeking some more writers, particularly those who want to cover video games for us. Please get in touch if you're keen.

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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Mon, 09/06/2014 - 06:52

The Fault In Our Stars shines while Cruise teeters on the Edge Of Tomorrow

By Rich Matthews

Just when you thought that Young Adult fiction adaptations would be limited to Hunger Games sequels and the odd mini-hit such as Divergent, that film's star – Shailene Woodley – pops up in the film version of runaway romantic bestseller The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green.

The story of two lovers who meet at a cancer help group has grossed a runaway $48.2m to top the US weekend box office. How big a hit it ends up being may be signposted by the large dropoff day-by-day after its mammoth Friday opening day, but if you consider that Fox only spent $12m on it, whatever happens now is just more gravy. It's even started a decent international rollout, so it's overall global is a healthy $65m.

Things certainly weren't so rosy for Tom Cruise in Doug Liman's Edge Of Tomorrow, which was beaten into third by Disney revisionist holdover Maleficent. With its $29.1m opening, Tomorrow even lags behind the $37m opening of Cruise's recent similar sci-fi actioner, Oblivion, which went on to take $89m in the US but $286m worldwide. Tomorrow has already opened to $111m abroad, to take its opening tally to $140, which makes its result likely to be close to Oblivion overall. That's only really a problem for Warner Bros when you consider the film's reported $170m-plus budget – the studio is putting all its money on the Cruiser's still-strong international star power.

Holding strong at two, Angelina Jolie's long-gestating Maleficent took a fairly magical $33.5m to take Disney's latest neo-feminist take on one of its classics to $127.4m domestic and a more-than enchanted $335.5m. Suddenly that Disney gamble seems much more like a safe bet. How it holds up against more upcoming family fare – How To Train Your Dragon 2 flies in on June 13 – remains to be seen.

The top five was finished off by two films with very different fortunes. At number four, X-Men: Days Of Future Past continued to cruise towards the $200m line, taking $14.7m to raise its domestic total to $189.1m and worldwide to $609.6m (now easily the most successful entry in the franchise), while Seth Macfarlane's Ted follow-up A Million Ways To Die In The West could only corral a further $7.2m to take its herd up to a meagre $30.1m domestic and $50.1m global.

Also running out of steam at number six, Gareth Edwards' Godzilla update took just shy of $6m to raise its homegrown tally to $185m, so it will be lucky if it will get to $200m at this point. Globally, the mega-monster is nearing $400m with $393.7m. For a bit of perspective, now the initial hype has died down, the 1998 version (considered a flop) took $230m in adjusted money in the US alone, and last year's robots vs monsters Pacific Rim managed to take in $411m in its run. Coming at seven, the Seth Rogen/Rose Byrne/Zac Efron R-rated comedy Neighbors kept its cool with $5.2m ($137.8m US, $223.4m worldwide), while Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore rom-com Blended limped to another $4.1m ($36.5m) and Jon Favreau's indie cooking comedy Chef rustled up an extra $2.6m for a slowly growing domestic gross of $10.4m. Topping everything off at 10 was Disney's Jon Hamm baseball sports drama Million Dollar Arm with $1.8m ($31.3m).

Next weekend, alongside Dreamworks' returning Dragon, Sony serves up action comedy sequel 22 Jump Street starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.

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Screenjabber Podcast: Sun's out, 'cast out

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Fri, 06/06/2014 - 20:04

They're back! Again!! Join Amon Warmann, Doug Cooper, Mark Searby, Peter Johnson and host Stuart O'Connor for a quick trawl through last week's releases, before they tackle the new entries in UK cinemas this week: Grace of Monaco, Cheap Thrills, 22 Jump Street, Fruitvale Station and The Sacrament. PLUS a sneak peek at the upcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

You can listen to and download the podcast – or subscribe to it on iTunes ... plus you can follow us on Twitter and join us on Facebook.

PubQuest: We're looking to take the Screenjabber Pubcast on the road, and want your input. Know a great pub in London we should visit to record the show? Drop us a line and let us know.

WriterQuest: We're seeking some more writers, particularly those who want to cover video games for us. Please get in touch if you're keen.

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PREVIEW | Grid Autosport

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Wed, 04/06/2014 - 08:22

Grid Autosport: set adrift on racing bliss

By Steve Boxer

Grid Autosport might be the last major current-gen racing game, and it’s certainly the most impressive. We got hands-on with it, and delved beneath its great-looking surface with the help of its developers.

Can you have too much of a good thing? That’s the question that sprang to mind when we heard that Codemasters is preparing to release Grid Autosport, the latest iteration of its much-loved multi-disciplinary racing franchise, just a year after Grid 2. And, like Grid 2, it will run on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, so it isn’t as if, thank the Lord, it’s some quick-and-dirty console-crossover next-gen port.

Keen to ascertain what Grid Autosport is all about, we hot-footed it to Stratford’s Olympic Park, where a car-park had been converted into a track to host an event called Drift All-Stars and, we were told, we’d be initiated into the mysteries of drift by professional drift-racers. Sure enough, there they were, with their odd anonymous Japanese hatchbacks with garish paint-jobs. But alas, they weren’t allowed to take to the track with us as passengers, thanks to what would fall somewhere into the spectrum between negligence and sharp practice on behalf of the event organisers.

But never mind, as we could drift away happily in the game itself, without running any risk of injury. Producer Toby Evan-Jones was on hand to explain that Grid Autosport contains no fewer than five distinct forms of motor-racing: “There are touring cars, with packed grids, where you’ll be trading paint; open-wheel features precision racing, standard specs and slipstreaming; street racing involves aspirational cars, tight circuits and aggressive racing; tuner competitions feature drift-racing and a time attack mode which is all about tuning; and endurance racing often takes place at night, and features much longer races and tyre wear.”


The first three racing disciplines are pretty familiar from Grid games of the past (and Toca Race Driver games before them), but even minimal hands-on time with them suggested that Grid Autosport will turn out to be a worthwhile exercise.

The first thing you notice is that it looks appreciably better than Grid 2 – indecently good for a current-gen game, in fact. Textures are convincing, track detail is stunning and particle effects utterly convincing. The legendary grid levels of car-feel were abundantly evident, too, with huge-engined, rear-drive street-racers feeling completely different to light, pointy open-wheelers and front-drive touring cars.

And the outlandish drift-racers, which would get sideways with the merest steering input and had to be turned in way before any corner you approached, were both utterly unlike anything else and enormous fun to pilot. We found the endurance racers – a new addition for the franchise – pretty tricky. They had vast amounts of power going through the rear wheels, so tiptoeing around corners to avoid race-wrecking spins was de rigueur. And the endurance races had an interesting accelerated-tyre-wear mechanism which meant that it often paid to take things gently at first, before waiting for your rivals’ grip-levels to fall off a cliff.

As any Grid fan would expect, some of the world’s top circuits are in the game, rendered in impressive detail – we drove around Jarama, Yas Marina and Hockenheim, plus the familiar San Francisco street circuit from Grid 2, the detail of which had made a noticeable leap forward since Grid 2, with its trademark jumps proving particularly spectacular. There will be 80 to 90 cars in the game, all with full damage engines – we drove a Formula 3 open-wheeler, a pumped-up street-racing Audi and a specialist drifting machine. Expect a drip-feed of details on tracks and cars as Grid Autosport nears its launch date.

Structure: online and single-player

Evan-Jones explained that, in the single-player Career mode, “You can choose your path, specialising in one or two disciplines, if you like.” You’ll be racing for specific teams so, at the start of each season, you’ll get a number of offers, and can choose the one which meshes with your favoured disciplines and comes with season-goals that you feel able to achieve. Then you race for that team – which provides the cars and sponsors -- for a season. Evan-Jones says that team-mates feature: “You can issue commands to your team-mate: if, say, you’re both supposed to finish in the top five and you’re ahead, you can tell him to get a move on.”

Another unusual mechanic in the multiplayer game sees persistent damage being applied to your cars, along with a limited number of garage slots. Evan-Jones said: “You can buy cars new or second-hand, but you need to pay to repair them. As you accumulate XP, you’ll unlock tuning options and customisable liveries. But the more you run a car, the more it costs to repair it, so at some point, you’ll have to decide whether you want to sell it to free up its garage slot.”

As with Grid 2, the single-player and online sides of the game are kept separate. Racenet, Codemasters’ equivalent of Criterion’s Autolog, which generates online challenges on the fly, looms large as ever and, in Grid Autosport, has one major new feature: Clubs. Evan-Jones said: “You can create a Racing Club or join one. If you make a Club livery, using the livery editor, you can distribute it to everyone in your Club, and in that livery, they will contribute to the Club’s overall performance and standing.”

The way Evan-Jones tells it, his development team felt there was unfinished business when Grid 2 came out, and there were requests for features from the sizeable Racenet community (over a million-strong, according to Codemasters), including the return of Cockpit Cam, which is indeed back for Grid Autosport. So it just drove on with the development and made big strides early on, hence the swift arrival of Grid Autosport. And the fruits of his team’s labours are indeed impressive: there’s just no way that we’ll see a better-looking, more state-of-the-art or more intelligently structured racing game for the outgoing generation of consoles. Which bodes well for the first next-gen take on the Grid franchise – even though, Evan-Jones says, Codemasters won’t be rushing onto the PS4 and Xbox One until it can deliver something truly stunning. But as last hurrahs of a console generation go, Grid Autosport is hard to beat.

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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Wed, 04/06/2014 - 07:59

Maleficent is magical while A Million Ways To Die In The West is DOA

By Rich Matthews

Disney did it again, with Angelina Jolie scoring the biggest opening of her career after four years away from the screen as Sleeping Beauty reboot Maleficent took $70m this weekend.

Internationally, the recast fairytale grossed $100.6m from 47 territories, including more than $10m in the UK. With Frozen edging up the all-time grossers chart – it's now number five – Disney looks to have another non-romantic true love hit on its hands, with its target female audience historically more loyal and prone to repeat visits than the the male-dominated fan groups who propel superhero and action movies to the top of the box office, only to drop away on the second weekend – which is evident in X-Men: Days Of Future Past dropping 64.1 per cent in its sophomore bow, taking $32.6m for a US tally of $162.1m.

The latest X-Men did set a new franchise record thanks to a far superior international gross than the rest of the series, crossing the $500m benchmark. Increasingly, geek movie are more dependent on strong legs internationally.

Godzilla also continued the US box office pattern at number four, losing a further 60.5 per cent to take $12.2m for a total of $174.7m – undoubtedly a hit, the Warner Bros monster movie will have to show real stamina if it's to hold on in the face of the rest of the summer tentpoles. It's global gross stands at $374.7m.

Just ahead of Godzilla (barely) at three was Seth MacFarlane's Ted follow-up, Western comedy A Million Ways To Die In The West – also from Universal. Showing that even the seeming Midas touch of Family Guy MacFarlane can't withstand the modern audience's apparent distaste for the oater, it only managed to lasso $17.1m, compared to the $54m-plus grabbed by the profane talking teddy bear in its debut bow. It also managed to bag $10.3m internationally, but it looks very unlikely to get anywhere near Ted's $549m "highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time" status. MacFarlane's next flick? Ted 2 is a sure bet.

The top five was rounded out by the underperforming Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore reunion relationship comedy Blended, with an $8.4m gross for a meagre $29.6m domestic total.

There were no other new entries into the top 10, with Neighbors continuing to do outstanding business by taking $7.7m ($128.6m US, $207.9m global), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 still lagging behind the first reboot with $3.8m ($192.7m, $690m) and will be lucky to scrape much past $200m, Disney Jon Hamm baseball vehicle Million Dollar Arm at 8 with $3.7m ($28.1m), Jon Favreau's return to his indie roots Chef cooking up $2m ($7m), and Cameron Diaz/Leslie Mann/Kate Upton revenge comedy The Other Woman taking $1.4m ($81.1m, $172.4m).

Next weekend Tom Cruise looks likely to be staring at Oblivion and Jack Reacher numbers with sci-fi actioner Edge Of Tomorrow from Bourne launcher Doug Liman and Shailene Woodley gets a star test with The Fault In Our Stars.

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The Top 10 Crime Fighters

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Fri, 30/05/2014 - 08:52

For a while now, many have deemed RoboCop to be popular culture’s most recognisable crime-fighting characters of all time. In line with its Limited Edition Blu-ray Steelbook, Blu-ray and DVD release on June 9 from STUDIOCANAL, we count down not only the 10 most recognisable crime-fighters, but the best 10 the entertainment world has had to offer...

Dirty Harry 
Appearances... Dirty Harry (1971), Magnum Force (1973), The Enforcer (1976), Sudden Impact (1983), The Dead Pool (1988)
Played by... Clint Eastwood

It’s quite impressive that Eastwood has played Harry Callahan, his defining cop not afraid to cross ethical boundaries to serve justice, a total of five times over his illustrious career. An inspector with the San Francisco police department, his primary concern is to protect and avenge the victims of violent crime by any means necessary.

Popeye Doyle 
Appearances... The French Connection (1971), French Connection II (1975)
Played by... Gene Hackman

Based on real-life New York City police detective Eddie Egan, Hackman’s portrayal of the character Popeye Doyle is deemed one of the genres best characters, the actor winning the Best Actor Oscar for his efforts. A tough detective, Doyle is not afraid to cross the line to catch the criminals who deserve to get caught, dedicated to catching drug dealers littered throughout the city.

John McClane 
Appearances... Die Hard (1988), Die Hard 2 (1990), Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), Live Free or Die Hard (2007), A Good Day to Die Hard (2012)
Played by... Bruce Willis

If you were to ask every uncle the world round who their action hero is, they would probably provide Willis as an answer – in no doubt down to the fact he is John McClane. Fighting megalomaniacs ranging from German terrorists to AWOL US mercenaries in locations ranging from skyscrapers to aeroplanes, McClane is the dependable force that will no doubt save the day – a legacy so strong that not even the somewhat poor fifth outing, A Good Day to Die Hard, could taint it.

Bruce Wayne AKA Batman  
Appearances... Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995), Batman and Robin (1997), Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Played by... Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale

Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger for the DC comic strip, Batman bears no introduction. While his alias Bruce Wayne becomes the heir of Gotham after the murder of his parents, his caped crusading counterpart fights devilish villains ranging from The Riddler, The Scarecrow and The Joker. While Tim Burton's and Joel Schumacher’s films embraced the more fun aspect of this character, it was Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the franchise in 2005 that really translated the real-world murky crime underworld to Gotham, a feel that truly benefits Batman’s crime-fighting capabilities.

The Lieutenant 
Appearances... Bad Lieutenant (1992), Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)
Played by...
Harvey Keitel, Nicolas Cage
Keitel depicts the eponymous Lieutenant in Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film, an extremely debauched law enforcer who takes drugs, engages in threesomes and lets petty thieves away with their crimes. As the film continues, his behaviour spirals out of control, with his efforts in catching the criminals ramping up to unethical degrees. Cage played the character in Werner Herzog’s reimagining, Port of Call New Orleans.

Judge Dredd 
Appearances... Judge Dredd (1995), Dredd (2012)
Played by... Sylvester Stallone, Karl Urban

Originating as a comic book character, Judge Dredd is an extremely recognisable character largely thanks to the helmet that he wears. A law enforcement officer in a violent dystopian future, he is judge, juror and executioner all in one who seeks out crime scenes to lay down the law as he sees fit. Stallone played an incarnation of the character in a badly received 1995 film (many were disappointed by the character removing his helmet...) but a fresh version starring Urban as the titular Dredd wiped the slate clean, providing the crime fighter with a lease of cinematic life.

Jack Bauer 
Appearances... 24: Seasons 1-8 (2001-2010), 24: Redemption (2008), 24: Live Another Day (2014)
Played by... Kiefer Sutherland

24 pretty much altered the way network television was viewed, enhanced even more so by Sutherland’s role-of-a-lifetime as Jack Bauer, an agent who mostly works for LA’s Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU). Throughout the series, which has just returned to screens after a four year absence, Bauer fights terrorists from around the world to prevent attacks on America, ranging from the political, the biological and the personal. Appearing in all 194 episodes to date, Bauer is one of TV’s greatest heroes, working alongside the White House and employing questionable tactics to acquire the information he needs. Altogether now: "Dammit!"

Alonzo Harris 
Appearances... Training Day (2001)
Played by... Denzel Washington

Washington plays LAPD narcotic detective Alonzo Harris in David Ayer’s critically-acclaimed Training Day; winning an Oscar for Best Actor, Washington plays the crime-fighter as a hard-core justice seeker, who is a master manipulator and somebody who the criminals would be afraid to cross. Engaging in illegal actions to seek justice, such is Harris’s status that some of these are sanctioned by higher authority making Harris an even more dangerous force.

Appearances... The Raid: Redemption (2011), The Raid 2: Berandal (2014)
Played by... Iko Uwais

Having now played Rama in two films, Uwais’ character has become something of an icon, participating in authentically-choreographed fight scenes (some of which take place for extended amounts of time), like nobody has before.  A loving husband and father-to-be at the beginning of the first film, Rama is shown as somebody who views survival as key and will do all he has to in order to fulfil his orders as a rookie police cop. By the time of Berandal, he is a rookie SWAT officer who integrates himself into a crime family to uncover corruption within the police force.

Alex Murphy – RoboCop
Appearances... RoboCop (1987), RoboCop 2 (1990), RoboCop 3 (1993), RoboCop (2014)
Played by... Peter Weller, Robert John Burke, Joel Kinnaman

When dedicated cop Alex Murphy is killed in the line of duty, he is transformed into a cyborg entity known as RoboCop by mega-corporation OmniCorp. His aim? To rid Detroit of its rising crime levels. Leading to scenes such as RoboCop proving he can out-fight a room filled to the brim with criminals, he is not only an imminent force in the films but in the history of cinema, perhaps proving one of the most recognisable crime-fighters of all time. Memorably, he is programmed to follow three prime directives: serve the public trust, protect the innocent and uphold the law. Comply or die, indeed.

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