CinemaNerdz Sat, 25 Apr 2015 03:57:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Interview with Alex Garland, writer/director of Ex Machina Sat, 25 Apr 2015 03:57:17 +0000 Alex Garland’s résumé reads like a laundry list of recent sci-fi and horror cult hits, with screenplay credits including 28 Days Later (2002), Sunshine (2007), and Dredd (2012). His latest, Ex Machina, may stand to follow that same path of cult adoration – although hopefully for Garland, its box office will follow more in the footsteps of 28 Days Later than those of Dredd. The sparse, character-driven sci-fi film follows Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), an office drone at a major tech company who wins the opportunity to spend a week at the secluded home of his employer, Nathan (Oscar Isaac). Caleb discovers Nathan has recruited him to test the behavior of an android, Ava (Alicia Vikander), that Nathan has developed. As Nathan begins to display a more megalomaniacal side and Ava proves even more emotionally developed than expected, Caleb’s big week with the boss starts to slide unsettlingly south.

Director Garland made his first big splash in 1996 with his book The Beach, later adapted into a movie by Garland’s repeated collaborator Danny Boyle. He also wrote Never Let Me Go (2010), and has forayed into the video game industry as the writer of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (2010), and story supervisor of DmC: Devil May Cry (2013). However, Ex Machina represents Garland’s first film as director. Garland chatted with CinemaNerdz about the origins of his fascination with science fiction, the future of real-world artificial intelligence and why he doesn’t really care if he returns to the director’s chair.


CinemaNerdz: This movie goes very much against the grain of most mainstream sci-fi movies. It’s quiet, thoughtful, philosophical, and relies more on performances than effects. Was it challenging for you to even get this movie made in the first place?

Ex Machina

Alex Garland and Alicia Vikander on the set of “Ex Machina.” © 2015 – Universal Pictures International.

ALEX GARLAND: I thought it was going to be. I think when I sat down and wrote this, I was thinking along the lines of I might be able to raise something like, I don’t know, $3 million or $4 million. I guess I was going to go to places like Film Forge in the UK, where financing is sort of like pocket money in a way. It sort of has a different set of criteria in terms of why they finance films. But the producers said, “Look, we might as well try to get a budget that allows us to do visual effects at the level that we really ideally would like to do it.” So we did. And then to my immense surprise we found that there actually were people who were willing to back the movie. So that’s a long way of saying yes, I was really, really surprised. It’s not what I expected at all.

CinemaNerdz: What drew you to doing a story about artificial intelligence?

GARLAND: It’s probably largely just that kind of sci-fi instinct, where if you’re into sci-fi – which I am, I love science fiction – you look for collisions between some kind of scientific concept or philosophical concept and also something that relates to the real world as you live in it right now. Sci-fi handles that quite well, I think. It’s quite comfortable with that. In this particular instance it is that if you look at strong artificial intelligence, you are inevitably also looking at human intelligence and consciousness. And that kind of connection is sort of irresistible, I think. So I guess it was something like that.

CinemaNerdz: Did you do much research on real-world AI as you wrote the movie?

GARLAND: I did. The story actually came out initially not from researching a story as such, but just simply reading about AI. It was something that had interested me for a long time. And I’ve got a limitation in my ability to read up about it, particularly as far as books or papers about getting technical. I’m left behind very quickly. But some of the broader aspects of it I found really engaging. And it was while reading about that stuff, in particular a book by a guy called Murray Shanahan, that the idea to present it as a narrative occurred to me.

Ex Machina

Alex Garland, Domhnall Gleeson, and Alicia Vikander on the set of “Ex Machina.” © 2015 – Universal Pictures International.

CinemaNerdz: What were some of the broader aspects of the technology that intrigued you?

GARLAND: Partly I was interested in the fact that we didn’t have it, and in fact that we’re a long, long way from having it. Because I think that the popular conception of AI is that it’s just around the corner and maybe it’s already there, like in some laboratory at some big tech company. And actually any amount of reading on it will quickly lead you to the conclusion that the complexity of having a self-aware machine or a machine with something even resembling an emotional existence is a long way away from us, because we’re lacking some really big conceptual breakthroughs and breakthroughs of understanding before we can get there. So one of the things at a technical level that interested me – or I guess on an actual level, I should say, rather than a technical level – was just about what the disconnect was between the way people perceive AI and where it actually exists. And this is where the crossover between AI and theory of mind really start to occur, is in conversations between people who are really at the forefront of this stuff, or close to it perhaps, about where this breakthrough will come. Is consciousness something that’s kind of emergent from complexity, or is it something completely different? I found that quite interesting too.

CinemaNerdz: You’ve said you consider this film more skeptical of human intelligence than having that sort of anxiety towards artificial intelligence that we often see in movies.

GARLAND: Yeah, yeah, certainly human behavior, definitely.

CinemaNerdz: So it sounds like you’re not too worried about the potential of AI even further down the road, in this long-term scenario you’re talking about.

GARLAND: Yeah. Just out of interest, have you seen the movie?

CinemaNerdz: Yes.

GARLAND: Okay. So then this will make more sense, I guess. I think the position that the film takes is not to say that there’s nothing to be alarmed about, that it’s not implicitly dangerous or inherently dangerous in some way, but just that it’s not one thing or the other in terms of the position you might take. In terms of good and bad it’s not binary. The film very often draws a connection between nuclear power and Oppenheimer, and AI research and Nathan. It felt to me like there was a decent analogy that could be made between the two. Nuclear power has a huge amount of latent danger but it’s also got some very good things about it in the way that we can use it to produce energy, for example. So I think I was trying to position AI around there, you know, as something that it’s understandable why we might be alarmed about it. But if we deal with it with sort of sufficient checks and balances it could be very good for us.

Ex Machina

Alex Garland and Oscar Isaac on the set of “Ex Machina.” © 2015 – Universal Pictures International.

CinemaNerdz: So the alarm we might have about it should be more dependent on the quality of the people who create that technology?

GARLAND: One-hundred percent on the people who create the technology and the people who then use the technology. My concerns are definitely based on people. I think in the case of AI there’s a reason to be not exactly – I’m trying to think of the right word. I suppose it is “distrustful.” There’s a reason to be distrustful of big tech companies, not because they are doing anything wrong – I have no real idea whether they’re doing anything wrong or not – but just simply because they’re so powerful. And when things are that powerful you just have to be cautious with them, simply out of prudence, I think. So it’s not actually a criticism of any tech company in and of itself. It’s just a sort of general requirement that says when humans are in a position, or when organizations or particular bodies of humans are in a position, of a lot of power it’s wise that that power should have oversight and checks and balances. That’s all.

CinemaNerdz: You’ve done pretty diverse subject matter underneath the umbrella of sci-fi. What interests you about working with this genre in general?

Science-fiction audiences are quite up for having thoughts proposed or floated around and explored to one degree or another.

GARLAND: I think it’s the permission, from my point of view. You’re allowed to throw in big ideas and even to have overt philosophy if you want without having to feel bad about it, because it kind of reflects this space that people can get into in response to big ideas and philosophy. It’s a word they kind of reach for automatically, which is “sophomoric.” And I think they reach for it out of a kind of embarrassment, really – an embarrassment of your fear, and an embarrassment of the idea being expressed. If you put these kinds of things in an action movie, or even actually in an adult drama, it basically boggles people. Science fiction is just more relaxed, I think. It’s just more laid-back about the whole thing, and science-fiction audiences are quite up for having thoughts proposed or floated around and explored to one degree or another. I think they just take a pleasure in it. And from my point of view that’s nice. It makes for a really nice candor, and it’s sort of like a collegiate, easygoing place to work in.

CinemaNerdz: When did you develop your fascination with the genre? Is this something you’ve been interested in since you were a young man?

GARLAND: I was. I was interested in it since I was young. But I had a problem, which was that although I was interested I wasn’t good at it. I’m in my mid-forties now, and when I was a kid, twelve or thirteen years old, my parents got a home computer. I tried to learn how to program in it. I could do very basic programs in a language actually called Basic. But I was terrible at it. I had no aptitude. I was very bad at maths at school and in fact I was so bad at the sciences, like physics and chemistry and biology…I never sat in the exams in those subjects. So I’ve always been a step behind and struggling, I think, to understand and read about these kinds of things. But in my early twenties for whatever reason I gave it another shot, which was not out of nowhere, because I had been interested in it when I was younger. I got a kids’ book actually. It was about the atom, which was actually aimed at ten and eleven-year-olds. I read it and I thought, “Well, I did understand that, at least,” so I carried on reading. And then from that point I’ve continued to read about this stuff throughout my adult life. In fact, I read much more about science than I do about anything else these days. But I’m very aware of my limitations with it. The limitations I had as a child, I’ve carried through till now.

CinemaNerdz: There are really only three main characters in this movie. Did that minimalistic, intimate, character-driven type of story make things easier on you as a first-time director, or did it present more of a challenge?

Ex Machina

Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson in “Ex Machina.” © 2015 – Universal Pictures International.

GARLAND: Neither, I think. It was a mutual state. It may seem easier as a production, because you have a limited cast and also that cast is in a limited location. That makes many aspects of the production quite controllable and actually frees you up so you can spend more on visual effects than you might be able to otherwise. But from a directing point of view – or actually I think I’d rather just say from a filmmaking point of view, from the point of view of being one of the filmmakers on the film – the issues are very similar. No, let me put it another way. They’re not similar. What you save on one thing, you might lose on another because the [unintelligible], which is effectively what you just described, might be cinematic in some respects and might push towards being more theatrical like a stage play. And of course it is a film, so that gives you something unique to watch out for and fight against, whereas if you’ve got something that’s on a bigger canvas with lots of sweeping crane shots and action sequences and stuff like that, then that’s obviously in that sort of bubble.

CinemaNerdz: The cast is so essential to this film and they pull it off well. How did you go about selecting the three leads?

GARLAND: Well, Domhnall Gleeson – this is the third time I’ve worked with Domhnall, so I know him very well. We’ve worked together closely in the past under quite difficult circumstances, so we had a pretty tight bond, I’d say. So that was quite straightforward. I just called him up. He was the first person that was cast, in fact. I said, “Do you want to do it? Here’s the script. Take a read. Let me know if you want to do it.” The other two, I guess it was just a more formal, traditional process. I had seen both of them in other films and they’d been very striking. Nothing particularly interesting about that, because good actors usually are obviously good actors. Anybody can spot that quite easily. These two are good actors, so I spotted that as one would. I’d seen Alicia in a film called A Royal Affair and Oscar in a film called Body of Lies, and both of them in those parts did something that felt relevant to these parts. So I was lucky enough to get them.

I really do see a director as being just another person in the crew and not the kind of godhead figure that we’re constantly suggested the director is.

CinemaNerdz: You’ve been in the movie business for quite a while, but this was your first time in the director’s chair. What surprises came out of this process for you?

GARLAND: No real surprises. I’ve been working on films – you kind of implied that I’ve been working for a while, I think. And I have. I’m on set usually every day and there’s something very particular going on. I’m there every day and I’m there throughout the edit and pre-production, so this is all much the same, you know? This film was made by a group of people, of which I was just one. And many of those people have been on all the productions I’ve worked on. So there was really no very meaningful change between the films before this one and this one.

CinemaNerdz: Would you like to return to directing again?

GARLAND: In some respects I don’t care. The goal is just to make interesting films up to the limit of one’s ability, you know? I can easily imagine writing something that somebody else directed, or I can imagine not bothering with that and doing it myself. To be honest – I’ve really now talked about this in several of the interviews that I’ve done – I think there is a way we perceive directing. I don’t perceive directing in that way, so I frame the question slightly differently. I really do see a director as being just another person in the crew and not the kind of godhead figure that we’re constantly suggested the director is.

See Ex Machina in theaters everywhere on April 24, 2015!

]]> 0
Movie Review: Ex Machina Fri, 24 Apr 2015 09:00:46 +0000 Ex Machina may not be quite as profound an “ideas” movie as writer-director Alex Garland thinks it is, but I’m willing to cut it some slack for at least taking the shot. Garland’s film is intimate and intensely character-driven, with essentially only three main characters bouncing off each other in a very confined space. The film raises some interesting questions about human emotion, our desire to control it and what happens when we get that control. But most importantly it’s a science-fiction movie, given a wide Ex Machinarelease and starring some notable actors. It’s refreshing to see a mainstream sci-fi flick that doesn’t follow Hollywood’s Star Wars-on-crack approach, throwing as much money as possible at creating as many explosions and spaceships and eye-popping creatures as possible. For that reason it’s easier to forgive Ex Machina’s shortcomings and celebrate its many strengths.

The film follows Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a young programmer at the Google-esque fictional tech company BlueBook, who wins an office lottery to spend a week with BlueBook head Nathan (Oscar Isaac). Nathan’s domicile redefines the word “secluded” – Caleb is flown out onto Nathan’s expansive property in a helicopter and then instructed to hike the rest of the way in. Nathan, a big fan of drinking and an even bigger fan of compensatory workouts, insists upon a laid-back friendship with Caleb. He reveals that he’s brought Caleb in to perform a version of the famous Turing Test, assessing the human emotional capacity of Ava (Alicia Vikander), an android Nathan has created. But as Ava turns out to be even more strikingly human than Caleb expected, the scope of Nathan’s megalomaniacal ambition comes slowly to light.

On paper, this whole concept lives or dies on the strength of the actors cast and how well they’re directed. Fortunately, there’s nothing to worry about in either department here. Although Gleeson has the least colorful of the three main roles, he perfectly portrays Caleb’s essential innocence and his slow grapple with the moral dilemmas Nathan’s assignment presents. Vikander is a wonderful otherworldly presence in early scenes in which all but her face is rendered as sleek CGI machinery, later portraying Ava’s fierce, developing intelligence with an occasionally terrifying calm. Isaac, one of the best young character actors in the business, is the crown jewel of the cast, imbuing Nathan with an assertiveness that’s irresistible despite the character’s unsavory, manipulative nature. Garland cannily builds tension among the trio, creating an unsettling sense of oncoming horror. The mood is neatly accented by the way Garland and cinematographer Rob Hardy dwarf the cast in the eerily lit hallways and cavernous rooms of Nathan’s antiseptic high-tech compound.

Ex MachinaEx Machina’s main fault is the sense of a depth reached for but not quite attained. The film brings up some big philosophical issues but the answers, such as it has to offer, aren’t particularly earth-shattering. There’s a nice twist in the third act that plays out with a finely paced, sickening slowness, but the denouement that follows is dragged out in a way that suggests something similarly shocking while never really paying off that expectation. With its literary and historical references, Ex Machina plays dress-up in professor’s clothes and can’t quite pull off the act in the end. But if you can compensate slightly for the expectations the film creates for itself, you still have a compellingly acted and effectively staged sci-fi with memorable characters, interesting ideas and artfully crafted mood. I’ll take it.

]]> 0
Trailer Trashin’: Unearthing the New Mad Max: Fury Road Trailer Tue, 21 Apr 2015 09:00:24 +0000 We’re halfway through April dear readers, and that means the summer movie season is closer than ever. On this week’s Trailer Trashin’, I take another look at one of my most anticipated films of the year, George Miller’s action extravaganza Mad Max: Fury Road.

Premise: In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, loner “Mad” Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) meets Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a woman who wishes to cross the desert. Captured by the forces of warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), Max’s only hope for freedom is Furiosa, who is on the run from Immortan Joe because she stole his most precious resource: five young women who have been kept as objects and whose purpose is to mother the next generation. They need Max’s knowledge of the desert to safely cross it and escape the madness of their Mad Max: Fury Roadenemies.

My take: The trailer kicks off with Max, who has manacles on his wrists and a gag in his mouth, running through dimly-lit tunnels, pursued by a gang of ghostly-pale, shirtless bald guys. The chase passes through a cave where several more of the pale guys are taking apart a car, possibly Max’s own V8 Interceptor. In voiceover, we hear Max say “In this wasteland, I am the one who runs from both the living and the dead.” This is accompanied by unnerving flash-frames of what look like the faces of children. Max continues, “A man reduced to a single instinct…” Max pushes through some doors to the outside, only to find himself faced with a sheer drop. With no other options, Max leaps toward an old construction crane, trying to snag its hook with the chain of his manacles. “Survive,” Max’s voiceover finishes.

After the studio logos, we get a close-up of a hot branding iron bearing a symbol we’ll keep seeing throughout the trailer, an image of a human skull in the middle of a steering wheel with flames coming off the top. This is the symbol of our villain, Immortan Joe, who we’ll meet shortly. The shot of the branding iron is immediately followed by a close-up of someone, presumably Max, with the symbol branded on the back of their neck.

We hear the voice of Immortan Joe booming and echoing over some kind of loudspeaker as he addresses his followers. “It is by my hand you arise from the ashes of this world!” As he speaks, we see his people – including the same kind of pale, bale goons from earlier – gathered in front of a stone pinnacle where Joe’s symbol has been carved into the cliff face. We see Immortan Joe himself putting on his mask, a wicked-looking gas mask-like contraption decorated with a human jawbone and teeth. Another shot of the symbol in the cliff face, but this time with water flowing out of three massive valves embedded in the rock; if this means that Joe is able to control these people’s access to water, that shows how he has so many followers. A quick shot of Joe looking through a telescope. A truck with a trailer racing across the desert. A close-up of Imperator Furiosa, driving that same truck. In the back of the truck we see four of Joe’s five “brides,” whom Furiosa has sprung from captivity; from left to right, they are Toast (Zoë Kravitz), Capable (Riley Keough), Fragile (Courtney Eaton), and The Dag (Abbey Lee Kershaw). As Joe finishes speaking, we see Max in a cage inside Joe’s lair, surrounded by several sleeping goons.

Next we see Joe, wearing some freaky translucent armor, opening what looks like a bank vault door, which leads into the chamber where his brides are kept. Inside the chamber, which is actually kind of nicely furnished for a post-apocalyptic world, he finds no brides, only Miss Giddy (Jennifer Hagan), who points a gun at Joe while saying “We are not things. We are not things!” with those same words written on the wall behind her. Joe advances on her, bellowing “Where is she taking them?”

Furiosa’s truck drives through the desert, with either a sunset or sunrise behind it. Furiosa checks her mirror. We see all five brides in the back – from left to right, Toast, Capable, Splendid (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), Fragile, and The Dag. Inside the prison we saw earlier, the bottom drops out of Max’s cage, and he’s left swinging. Out in the sunlight, Joe’s fleet of modified vehicles are out in force, with poor Max strapped to the front of one of them, a weird metal mask over his face. Joe himself is driving one of the vehicles, clearly leading the hunt to get his women back. Fast cutting between shots of Joe’s goons, ending with a close-up of one fellow who’s supplemented his pale skin and black makeup around his eyes with a Glasgow smile.

Mad Max: Fury RoadMore quick cutting of action follows as intense music kicks in. Furiosa and one of the pale goons, who must have switched sides, are leaning out of her truck and firing weapons – Furiosa has a mini-crossbow, while the goon has an old grenade launcher. Immortan Joe’s goons use spears to destroy a car covered in spikes, including one crazy bastard who leaps onto the car with a spear in each hand. A guy manning a gun turret on top of a car shields his face as what looks like a tanker truck explodes.

“I want them back!” Immortan Joe bellows as we see him at the wheel of his vehicle, with a strange canopy of what looks disturbingly like human skin stretched across a metal frame behind his head. A quick shot of the brides, just to make it clear who Joe’s referring to. “They’re my property!” Joe finishes, as we see Splendid leaning out the open door of the truck, looking defiantly back, with Capable holding her so she doesn’t fall out. This is followed by a close-up of the waist of one of the brides, who is wearing some kind of chastity belt branded with Joe’s symbol, plus nasty-looking claws over the genital area. But the brides are clearly done with him, as a pair of bolt cutters held by someone off screen cut through the side of the belt.

A distant shot of Furiosa’s truck heading into a massive sandstorm, followed by a close-up of Furiosa wearing goggles and a cloth over her nose and mouth. As the wall of airborne sand hits the vehicles, Max – who’s hanging on to the top of one car – is thrown backward. Driving that car is Nux (Nicholas Hoult), one of Immortan Joe’s main henchmen, who gleefully says “Oh, what a day! What a lovely day!” even as the winds tear off part of his car’s roof. A big truck rams a smaller car from behind, smashing the car and sending pieces of metal flying.

We now cut to what must be the aftermath of the storm, as Max pulls himself out from under the sand. Furiosa stands next to her truck, holding what look like a wrench filed down into a crude knife. Max approaches her truck, holding a double-barreled shotgun and with an unconscious Nux slung over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry. “Wanna get through this?” Furiosa says to the brides, “Go!”

The music ramps back up and the fast cutting resumes. A guy in a gas mask wields a chainsaw. A motorcycle lands on top of a tanker truck. A dude with wild hair and a blindfold fires twin submachine guns. Two of the brides run away from the truck. A pale goon jumps from his car onto a flatbed truck, as Rictus Erectus (Nathan Jones), another of Immortan Joe’s main henchmen, stands behind him. Behind the wheel of a big truck decorated with skulls, Max shifts into high gear to get away from an explosion. A group of pale goons beat massive drums set up on the back of a dump truck. A motorcycle slides under the wheels of the skull truck. A car with a mounted machine gun on top flips end-over-end as it falls into a pit-trap. Max jumps from the roof of one moving vehicle to another, body-checking a guy out of his way as he lands. One of the brides falls out of Furiosa’s truck as the door rips off its hinges. Max and a couple goons are hanging from some crazy arm rig. The brides are shocked as a grappling hook pierces the roof of their truck, mere inches away from their heads. A huge truck covered with spikes comes apart in a massive cloud of dust.

Several shots of Immortan Joe’s fleet chasing Furiosa’s truck through the sandstorm and across the desert follow. In voiceover, Max says “As the world fell, each of us in our own way was broken.” Furiosa’s truck is surrounded by four of Joe’s vehicles, Mad Max: Fury Roadwhich use those arm rigs in a way almost like pole vaulting. A goon on the end of one rig grabs hold of Toast and pulls her out of the truck. Max’s voiceover continues “It was hard to know who was more crazy, me, or everyone else.” Rictus Erectus, looking quite pissed-off, hefts a heavy machine gun and grimaces. A monster truck made out of an old coupe jumps in front of Furiosa’s truck. Furiosa pulls her truck hard sideways to smash into one of Joe’s cars, which is shooting a flamethrower at the truck. A shot of Max back in Joe’s prison, thrashing around in waist-deep water and surrounded by goons. A Max’s voiceover finishes, we see the other side of the dump truck with the drums in the back, where a guy dressed in red stands in front of a massive bank of speakers, playing a guitar that shoots fire out of the neck. It immediately cuts to another shot, with Max also up on the speaker truck; he grabs hold of the guitar and swings it, and the guy in red, around to hit a pale goon.

An aerial shot of a line of vehicles racing through a canyon. A group of children made up like the pale goons gathered in Immortan Joe’s lair. Furiosa embraces a tearful Valkyrie (Megan Gale). More shots of cars and motorcycles racing across desert and over rocks. A pale goon wipes out his motorcycle and is crushed by what looks like a dune buggy covered in spikes. Another pale goon hangs upside-down off the hood of a car, holding a baby’s bottle in one hand. Valkyrie and an old woman hug the dirt as a truck drives by over their heads. Still more vehicular carnage. The brides look up, through the torn-open roof of the truck. Max falls out of the truck, only saved by Furiosa grabbing him with her mechanical left arm. Furiosa, a look of pure rage on her face, head butts a bald guy with a beard. A car that’s on fire is lifted off the ground by the winds of the sandstorm. Max racks the slide on his pistol and fires over his shoulder at some goons on motorcycles. Joe’s convoy is rocked by a massive explosion. Max in the tunnels being chased by goons. A flamethrower car is rammed from behind and totaled. Finally, a modified old-school roadster, decorated with skulls and with Rictus Erectus hanging on to it, is sent airborne in the canyon from earlier.

This might be the most exhaustive and detailed Trailer Trashin’ column I’ve ever written. But I’m just that excited for this movie. The first footage that came out from San Diego Comic-Con last year got me interested, but now I’m chomping at the bit to see this. This film looks insane, and in the best possible way. When the middle of May rolls around, I’ll definitely be seeing Mad Max: Fury Road.

ANTICIPATION: This look like just the thing for a lovely day at the movies.

Release Date: May 15th, 2015

Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoë Kravitz, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Courtney Eaton, Nathan Jones, Josh Helman, John Howard, Richard Carter, iOTA, Angus Sampson, Jennifer Hagan, and Megan Gale
Director: George Miller
Writers: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris

]]> 0
Win Passes to An Advance Screening of The D Train Mon, 20 Apr 2015 09:00:10 +0000 Enter here for your chance to win passes to an advance screening of The D Train starring James Marsden and Jack Back.

For your chance to receive two (2) complimentary passes to see an advance screening of The D Train at the AMC Forum 30 in Sterling Heights, Michigan on Wednesday, April 29th at 7:00PM, just look for The D Trainthe “giveaway” box further down on this page.

There you’ll be directed to a variety of methods by which you can enter the contest. You’ll be asked to provide a valid email address, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, and Tweet the contest. That’s it. That’s all you have to do to enter. We’ll contact you to let you know if you’ve won one of the pairs of passes that we have. But hurry, because the contest ends at 12:00AM on Friday morning, April 24th!


THE D TRAIN: All his life, Dan Landsman (Jack Black) has never been the cool guy. That’s about to change – if he can convince Oliver Lawless (James Marsden), the most popular guy from his high school who’s now the face of a national Banana Boat ad campaign, to show up with him to their class reunion. A man on a mission, Dan travels from Pittsburgh to LA and spins a web of lies to recruit Lawless. But he gets more than he bargains for as the unpredictable Lawless proceeds to take over his home, career, and entire life. Showcasing Jack Black and James Marden’s most outrageous performances to date, THE D TRAIN serves up the question: how far would you go to be popular? Co-starring Kathryn Hahn and Jeffrey Tambor.

Follow THE D TRAIN on FACEBOOK and TWITTER, or visit the Official Website

THE D TRAIN will be released in theaters everywhere on May 8, 2015!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

]]> 12
Weekend Box Office: Furious 7 Bests Paul Blart Mon, 20 Apr 2015 05:11:30 +0000 Even with three major debuts, very little can stop the car-crunching excess of Furious 7, which held the top spot at the box office yet again for a third week with an estimated $29.1 million. However, despite the fact the film has now made over a billion dollars in worldwide revenue, the weekend is beginning to show cracks, as second-place finisher Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 came close with an estimated $24 million. Though a decent start for a film that cost $30 million, the comedy sequel has been severely lambasted by critics and has not shown much hope with audiences, either. On the other end, audiences have been mixed about Unfriended, which earned an estimated $16 million, but critics have been slightly Furious 7more positive about it, which is more than can be said about almost every found footage horror film of the past year.

Home will soon break even thanks to worldwide gross, but its estimated $10.3 million only adds up to a minor success. The Longest Ride, with an unreported budget, is likely not doing too well either, remaining the lowest earning Nicholas Sparks’ adaptation to date even after a second weekend and an estimated $6.9 million. In the meantime, Get Hard is closer to Home in terms of success, an estimated $4.8 million adding to a successful run if one counts worldwide take, but at only $40 million to make it much less of a hurdle to climb.

Monkey Kingdom, the latest DisneyNature documentary, opened to critical acclaim but the lowest opening of a DisneyNature film yet with an estimated $4.7 million, though considering Earth (2007) is the highest earning film of the brand with $32 million, expectations for huge profits is probably not particularly high (especially as the only one to release its budget, Oceans (2009), cost $80 million to make and did not see much financial return on that investment).

Woman in Gold added 500 more theaters to its showings, but lost in weekend earning with only an estimated $4.6 million more to its $15.9 million in revenue. The Divergent Series: Insurgent, with an estimated $4.2 million, has, like much on this list, become a minor success when counting its worldwide gross, but failed to capture as much as would likely be hoped. However, tenth-place finisher Cinderella is a success on a wide scale, an estimated $3.9 million making it successful here and abroad by wide margins.

Box Office Weekend (April 17th – 19th)

  1. Furious 7…$29.1 million
  2. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2…$24 million
  3. Unfriended…$16 million
  4. Home…$10.3 million
  5. The Longest Ride…$6.9 million
  6. Get Hard…$4.8 million
  7. Monkey Kingdom…$4.7 million
  8. Woman in Gold…$4.6 million
  9. The Divergent Series: Insurgent…$4.2 million
  10. Cinderella…$3.9 million
]]> 0