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The Raid 2 for 1 cinema ticket offer

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Fri, 28/03/2014 - 21:55

With the hotly-anticipated arrival of The Raid 2 in cinemas on April 11, distributor Entertainment One UK has rereleased The Raid on DVD and Blu-ray with a special Cineworld 2-for-1 ticket offer.

Take advantage of the #RaidRules2For1, grab your specially marked promotional copies of The Raid.

And be a part of a tweet-a-long at 9pm on April 10 in preparation for the arrival of The Raid 2 in cinemas.

There are no excuses not to be part of The Raid phenomenon in 2014.

Synopsis: Deep in the heart of one of Jakarta’s most deprived slums stands an impenetrable high-rise tower block. To most it is 30 floors of hell, housing the city’s most dangerous criminals including gangsters, drug dealers, killers and the area’s most notorious crime lord. The people fear it, the police dare not go near it however in a desperate bid to flush out these offenders an elite SWAT team is tasked with infiltrating the building. Cloaked under the cover of pre-dawn darkness the mission begins and rather than being a clean sweep becomes a fight for survival for all those involved.

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Taking Out the (Trailer) Trash

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Fri, 28/03/2014 - 09:54

By Norman Quarrinton

Trailers can sometimes spoil a film, but most of the time they fill you with a sense of anticipation, excitement and awe. So here is the latest roundup of what is coming soon to a cinema near you ...

Get On Up

Chadwick Boseman star as James Brown in this Mick Jagger produced biographical drama. I can already see critics getting snooty over this one, but who cares?Well, I do actually, but I think this film looks swell. Hopefully it doesn't shy away from, or attempt to sugar-coat some of the more brutal and depressing aspects of the time period it's addressing, unlike director Tate Taylor's previous effort, The Help. I really want this to be a proper warts and all James Brown biopic that doesn't hold back when it comes to dealing with the man's flaws, and as we all know, the Godfather was a very flawed man.
UK & US Release: August 1

The Giver

This adaptation of Lois Lowry's 1993 children's novel stars Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges, Academy Award winner Meryl Streep, and some other guy. The trailer isn't giving too much of the plot away, but as I just said, it's based on a book, so Wikipedia it if you're that bothered.
UK Release: TBC
US Release: August 15


Charlie brown goes digital. That's right folks, everybody's favourite emo is back for the YouTube generation or whatever clever name they're using as a collective name for kids these days. This is another teaser, and the film doesn't actually come out until late next year, so don't get too excited. We can see what the updated animation will look like though. It appears they're going for a digital-but-still-retro-looking vibe, which is nice.
UK Release: October 16, 2015
US Release: November 6, 2015

The Maze Runner

No, it's a not a sequel to The Kite Runner. It's another film based on a kid's book. More dystopia. More action. More "you are the chosen one blah blah blah" stuff. This film appears to tick all the boxes, and if the box office performances of recent releases such as Catching Fire and Divergent are anything to go by, it will make lots and lots of money. Which means we can probably expect three more films from the same franchise. And we grown-ups will enjoy the films, but secretly cry on the inside as we witness the film industry drown itself in teen-fiction adaptations and sub-par comic book films. The plot? Oh yeah - Some teenagers talk about a maze and then go into a maze. I think. And Will Poulter and Kaya Scodelario do American accents.
US Release: September 19
UK Release: October 24

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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Tue, 25/03/2014 - 07:42

Divergent breaks YA curse while Muppets aren't Most Wanted after all

By Rich Matthews

Lionsgate and Summit seem to be the only studios capable of successfully launching Young Adult adaptation franchises, adding Shailene Woodley's Divergent to their tally of Twilight and The Hunger Games.

Taking $56m domestically, the Neil Burger film it isn't on the same scale as the Jennifer Lawrence mega-hit, but may have enough legs to ensure a follow-up. Its success – with a mammoth 69% of the audience being female – was at the expense of Kermit and co, with Disney's Muppets Most Wanted only managing to muster $16.5m compared to the franchise relaunch's $41m three years ago.

It's perceived underperformance is also likely due to an over-saturated family market, what with Dreamworks Mr Peabody & Sherman still at number three, grossing $11.7m for a total of $81m and $183.2m worldwide.

The Spartan warriors of 300: Rise Of An Empire managed to hold off religious flick God's Not Dead despite a decline of 54.9%, taking $8.7m for a total of $93.8 and $289.2m globally. Meanwhile, God's Not Dead managed to genuflect up $8.6m to land at number five.

The rest of the top 10 consisted of a running-out-of-petrol Need For Speed ($7.9m, $30.4m, $125.6m), a wider 300-plus screen release for Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, which cracked the 10 at seventh worth $6.8m ($13m, $46m), Liam Neeson being less Non-Stop than he hoped ($6.3m, $78.2m, $142m), the little yellow chaps of blockbuster The LEGO Movie ($4.1m, $243.4m, $391m), and finally, Tyler Perry's The Single Moms Club ($3.1m, $13m).

Also of note, controversy magnet Lars von Trier's unrated sex-themed curio Nymphomaniac: Volume I couldn't get it up, taking only $175,000 from 22 locations for a lowly average of $7,000 per location.  Disney behemoth Frozen made it to 12th on the all-time chart, with its total of $1.05bn.

Next weekend sees Russell Crowe building a big boat in Darren Aronofsky's bible adap Noah and Arnold Schwarzenegger partnering with Avatar's Sam Worthington in Sabotage, before Captain America: The Winter Soldier punches into theatres on April 4.

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INTERVIEW: Elliot Goldner on The Borderlands

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Mon, 24/03/2014 - 08:56

Screenjabber's Stuart O'Connor chats with British writer-director Elliot Goldner about his new found-footage horror film, The Borderlands.

SYNOPSIS: Don’t believe everything you see. A team of Vatican investigators are sent to the British West Country to look into reports of paranormal activity during a Christening at a newly re-opened remote church. Father Crellick has webcam proof of artifacts moving on the altar and other weird happenings. But two of the three-man team aren’t so sure.

Deacon and Father Mark Amidon are experts in the field of faked miracles and play the footage continually looking for wires and trickery. Going back through church records though, the holy place does seem to have a history of strange occurrences, and there is that raspy scratching sound they keep hearing coming from the walls. So they set up cameras in the nave and around the pulpit in the hope of filming and recording something unusual. An elaborate fake, or could this one be the real deal? If they don’t lose their way they may just find out.

Listen to the interview

As part of the launch of Our Screen, The Borderlands will have exclusive screenings this Friday, March 28, at the Edinburgh Cameo, Liverpool Fact, Norwich Cinema City, Brighton Komedia, Hackney Picturehouse and Brixton Ritzy.

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Screenjabber Podcast: A long way to the pub

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sat, 22/03/2014 - 16:38

This week join Doug Cooper, Peter Johnson, David Watson and host Stuart O'Connor back in the pub for reviews of the new UK releases A Long Way Down, Labor Day, The Machine and Starred Up.

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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The New (In)Complete Complete and Utter History of Britain

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Wed, 19/03/2014 - 13:02

Before there was Monty Python and Ripping Yarns, there was The Complete and Utter History of Britain.

Written by and starring comedy legends Michael Palin and Terry Jones, The New (In)Complete Complete and Utter History of Britain includes the two surviving episodes, along with never-seen-before footage available to own for the first time.

Releaswd by Network Distributing, this DVD and Blu-ray set will be available to buy from April 7 2014, with a recommended price of £19.99.
The two existing episodes can be seen as recorded and as transmitted, plus a new 50-minute feature with brand new linking material by Palin and Jones, and previously unseen series footage from Terry Jones’ personal archives.
Shown in 1969, the same year that Python became part of the national consciousness, this series takes a typically skewed look at British history – and reports it as if television had been around to cover it at the time.

A notable influence on television comedy, this series fed directly into the work they did for Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
The set includes:
A 50-minute feature containing new linking material by Palin and Jones;
interview with producer Humphrey Barclay;
the first two episodes as transmitted (the only ones still to exist);
the first two episodes as recorded (includes some different sketches to those transmitted);
all existing film insert material used in the series, kept safe by Jones for more than 40 years
a brand new booklet by archive television historian Andrew Pixley;
extensive image gallery;
and script and production paperwork PDFs.
Only existing incompletely in the archive, Palin and Jones revisited this series in 2013 and recorded new material to link the best of the existing material into a new feature: The New (In)Complete Complete and Utter History of Britain 2013.

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The Muppets are lost in the House Of Mouse

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Wed, 19/03/2014 - 08:57

By Mark Searby

At one point or another, everyone has laughed at a Muppet joke. Whether it was during their successful stint on Sesame Street, or maybe when they had their own TV show, or one of their numerous film outings (OK, some were better than others). And yes, even the times when they have popped up in a TV show or a film for a cameo.

The Muppets will last forever. Jim Henson created them with so much enthusiasm that we can’t help but love them. And yet... and yet... they have lacked any real focussed direction for a couple of decades now. One of the biggest franchises on the planet just seemed to be relegated to the direct-to-DVD market for most of the 1990s.

Step forward Disney. In 2004, the studio paid $60 million to acquire the rights to The Muppets from the Jim Henson estate. If anyone could make the ragtag bunch of funny puppets into a revitalised worldwide phenomenon, then it would be the company that has enjoyed success on such a grand scale in every decade since inception.

Walt Disney knew how to make TV shows and movies that all ages would enjoy, and that ethos – as well as his rules – have been passed down to each generation that has worked for the company. Michael Eisner, the chairman and CEO at the time of the purchase, was a huge fan of The Muppets even before he worked at Disney. He said at the time: “Since the time I worked with Jim Henson on the first Muppets TV special in the 1960s, it was obvious to me that his characters would make a deep imprint on the hearts of families worldwide, and this announcement is the culmination of a long-time desire to welcome them into The Walt Disney Company.”

But since that buyout in 2004, what has Disney done to promote The Muppets? One TV movie called The Muppets’ Wizard Of Oz starring R&B singer Ashanti, which was enveloped in nothing but negative reviews. A direct-to-video release of Kermit’s Swamp Years and only three TV specials – all in 2008.

The original Muppet Show TV series (which ran for five seasons) is only partially available on DVD. The first season was released while the ink was still wet on the takeover contract, but musical numbers were cut due to copyright. It then took them two years to release season two, but this came uncut. Another year and season three was pushed out uncut with a nice collection of extras too. However, season four was announced but failed to materialise due to musical and Star Wars copyright issues. The original films languished on VHS and poor transfers to DVD. And we had no new film from 1999 up until 2011’s The Muppets.

Yet The Walt Disney Company seemed reluctant to push The Muppets further during their 2011 rejuvenation. Why? What is Disney afraid of? Is it keeping Kermit and friends down because a decades old rivalry when Henson’s TV programmes would constantly win the ratings battles against Walt’s shows? Are they more interested in churning out merchandise than putting them back on the big screen?

The answer seems to be that The Walt Disney Company just didn’t know what to do with The Muppets. So many ideas have been floated about since the purchase. A new start for The Muppets never happened as they got pushed between different corporate divisions; a new TV series called America’s Next Muppet (a riff on America’s Next Top Model) completely died at the planning stages. Further shuffling around the Disney corridors continued, and then in 2008 Henson’s creations were pushed into the new, expanding teen High School Musical/Hannah Montana market.

Dick Cook, the chairman of Walt Disney Studios at the time, said: “Developing the kind of high-quality entertainment we have planned for the global relaunch of The Muppets takes time.” Three TV specials with various teenage music/film stars, alongside seeing their furry faces adorn clothes in stores that were happy to stock them – Macy's had a limited edition tote bag and department store F.A.O. Schwarz created a Muppet-themed boutique where customers could design their own Muppet. But this new direction didn’t take hold and soon they were relegated to their boxes again.

But maybe, just maybe, there is light at the end of The Muppet-verse. In part due to Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller, who had to virtually beg Disney to let them near the franchise. It may have taken the duo (and other writers) the best part of three years to finally get a script together that reintroduced The Muppets to the new movie world, but it seems to have done the trick. The Muppets was a commercial and critical success around the world in 2011-12.

The new film, Muppets Most Wanted, looks set to continue the trend of getting the gang back together on the big screen for further outings. Ten years on from the purchase of Henson’s creations, Disney executives seem to have got their heads around how to make The Muppets a proper money-spinning and hugely popular franchise all over again.

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection. The lovers, the dreamers and me ...

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Screenjabber Podcast: Let us get under your skin

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Fri, 14/03/2014 - 11:07

This week join Doug Cooper, Peter Johnson, David Watson and host Stuart O'Connor for reviews of the new UK releases Need For Speed, Under The Skin, The Zero Theorem, The Stag and Back To The Garden.

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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Female Action Heroes

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Thu, 13/03/2014 - 08:58

In Katniss Everdeen, the world has been introduced to a heroine for the ages; at once a devoted family girl and bow-and-arrow action huntress, Everdeen is one character with her priorities (largely) worked out. Cinema has a history of churning out all-powerful influential heroines throughout the decades. With The Hunger Games: Catching Fire about to be released on Blu-ray, DVD and download, here's a look at some of the best female heroes cinema has delivered ...

Princess Leia – Star Wars (1977-present)
Carrie Fisher’s role as Princess Leia in George Lucas’s sci-fi behemoth is nothing short of iconic; for all the memory of her on-screen flirting with Harrison Ford’s Han Solo, the shock reveal of her brother’s identity and that cinnamon bun hairstyle rose an action heroine to root for. Finest moments include the evacuation of Hoth and, of course, strangling Jabba the Hutt to death. With the news that JJ Abrams is reviving the series, Fisher has herself announced that she will indeed be reprising her role as Leia from 2015.

Ellen Ripley – Alien (1979-1997) 
Warrant officer Ellen Ripley starts out oh-so innocent, minding her own until an alien creature boards the Nostromo, leaving Ripley the lone survivor after it kills everybody else on board – and so movie gold is born. Many have stated that Sigourney Weaver’s role isn’t simply the greatest action heroine, but the greatest female protagonist of all time. With an on-screen life spanning three decades, the character’s life was overseen by maestros including Ridley Scott, James Cameron (with Weaver turning in an Oscar nominated performance for the sequel, Aliens) and David Fincher.

Sarah Connor – The Terminator (1984-present)
Initially appearing in James Cameron’s first two Terminator films (The Terminator and its sequel, Judgement Day), Sarah Connor’s life has evolved beyond cinema. However, Linda Hamilton’s performance remains the epitome of the characters existence. A young student pursued by a deadly robot (Arnold Schwarzenegger) sent back in time to kill her before she gives birth to John Connor, a man who will go on to lead a successful future rebellion against Skynet. A very different take on the character was presented in ill-fated television series The Sarah Connor Chronicles, in which Lena Headey depicted the character, while Emilia Clarke is set to reprise Connor in fifth film instalment Terminator: Genesis in 2015, alongside Arnie himself.

Trinity – The Matrix (1999-2003)
You need look no further than Trinity’s opening scene in The Wachowskis’ seminal sci-fi film The Matrix, and it’s beyond certain that Carrie-Ann Moss’s leather-clad computer hacker is a heroine for the ages. Initially Morpheus’s (Laurence Fishburne) first in command, she soon becomes a love interest for Neo (Keanu Reeves) – this not dampening her ability to kick butt and capture audiences' wonder.

Lara Croft – Tomb Raider (2001-2003)
Love the films or – let’s face it, hate them – there is no denying the prowess of video game character turned movie heroine Lara Croft. There is also no denying that Angelina Jolie was a slice of casting perfection, running through catacombs and hunting ancient artefacts. Despite the poor response to the initial film adaptation or its sequel, The Cradle of Life, Croft is embedded into popular culture as one of the most influential – and desired – female characters in history.

Beatrix Kiddo (aka The Bride) – Kill Bill (2003-2004)
Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman came up with the idea of this character during the shooting of Pulp Fiction, a whole decade before the film hit cinemas; The Bride (revealed as Beatrix Kiddo in Vol 2) is a victim of an attempted massacre, a bullet to the head putting her in a coma for years. When she comes to, she seeks out each member of the Deadly Viper’s Assassination Squad, headed by former beau Bill, looking for revenge. Dressed in her yellow jumpsuit, a Hattori Hanzo sword in hand... The Bride is one of the most memorable action heroines of the noughties.

Hit-Girl – Kick-Ass (2010-2013)
Perhaps the most controversial action heroine on the list, Hit-Girl AKA Mindy Macready (played by Chloe Grace Moretz) is an 11-year-old, foul-mouthed killing machine. Delivering dialogue to make your ears bleed with deadpan brashness, Moretz has taken the character – made famous by Mark Millar’s graphic novel – and presented her to the world in a way no other could. Stealing the show alongside on-screen father Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) in Kick-Ass, her role in the sequel perhaps proved a standalone Hit-Girl film would be a good route to go down.

Hanna – Hanna (2010)
Not quite as gasp-inducing as Hit-Girl, Saoirse Ronan’s 15-year-old German assassin Hanna is introduced to us when she shoots a reindeer with an arrow. Realising she missed the animal’s heart, she pulls out a handgun and puts it out of its misery. Such is the character’s seriousness and almost alien-like movements, it’s a marvel that by the film’s end Hanna has become the loved action heroine she is.

Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games (2012-present)
Prowling through the woods, bow and arrow in hand, her braid hanging loose from her head as she hunts... Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss Everdeen, a character who not only encounters constant traumatic occurrences, but battles such a wide array of conflicting emotions throughout the films, it’s a shock she’s still standing by the climax. Deeply loyal, strong-willed and as fierce as they come, Everdeen is one character you would not want to mess with. Lawrence has taken Suzanne Collins’ protagonist, and made her quite potentially the defining action heroine of this decade.

• The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is released on Blu-ray, DVD and download on March 17

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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Mon, 10/03/2014 - 22:06

300: Rise Of An Empire storms to number one

By Rich Matthews

While the $45m opening of Warner Bros' 300: Rise Of An Empire isn't as impressive as Zack Synder's original Frank Miller comic-book adaptation's $70m (grossed on the exact same weekend in 2007), it still trounced all competition at this weekend's box office.

The real test of the stylised sequel's Spartan muscle will be how well it holds its position on its second outing next weekend.

However, its main competition, Dreamworks Animation's Mr Peabody & Sherman, could only muster $32.5m, which is better than previous disappointments Turbo and Rise Of The Guardians, but lags behind the studio's other big March releases – The Croods and How To Train Your Dragon.

However, it did post a strong $65.8m for a worldwide total of $98m. Rise Of An Empire likewise proved more muscular at the international box office, pacing ahead of the original with an opening of $187.8m, making it's global opening $132.8m.

Meanwhile, perhaps the real success story is on a smaller scale, with Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel setting a new per-theatre average of $200,000 for a gross of $800,000. Something of a crowd-pleasing comedy, Fox Searchlight's ensemble indie may well prove to be a sizeable hit when it expands.

At number three, Liam Neeson's Non-Stop for Universal dropped 45 per cent to take $15.8m for US gross of $52.6m (for $72.6m worldwide). It was followed at four by Warner's breakout hit The LEGO Movie, with $11m ($224.9m US and $360.5m worldwide), and Fox's Son Of God at five with $10.4m ($41.9m).

The Monuments Men (sixth with $3.1m, $70.6m, $116m), 3 Days To Kill (seventh with $3.1m, $25.5m), Frozen (eighth with $3m, $393m, $1.01bn), 12 Years A Slave (getting a Best Picture Oscar bump of 116 per cent at ninth to take $2.1m, $53m, $158.5m) and Ride Along (10th with $2m, $130m, $140m) round out the rest of the top 10.

Next weekend sees Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul making a bid for big-screen success with video game adaptation Need For Speed, while Jason Bateman makes his directorial with the limited opening of Bad Words and KickStarter-funded TV spin-off Veronica Mars also takes a limited bow.

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