All eyes were on the Olympic Arena in Stratford, East London as the Slumdog Millionaire filmmaker presented the Isles of Wonder Opening Ceremony - and the Oscar winner did not disappoint.
The sound of the Olympic Bell signalled the official start of the London Games as the patriotic hymn Jerusalem was sung throughout the stadium. Branagh was the first celebrity to appear as he stepped up to portray Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Britain's most revered engineer, and he recited Caliban's speech from William Shakespeare's The Tempest as 965 drummers moved in for the first segment of the show, titled Pandemonium, led by deaf percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie.
The scene showed industrial workers forging five giant rings from red-hot metal and the finished products glowed as they were hoisted high into the air, coming together to form the Olympic Rings.
There was an impressive entrance from The Queen after a film showed Craig in character as 007 arriving at Buckingham Palace to pick up the royal, before heading into the skies in a helicopter. The pair then appeared to jump from the aircraft and parachute into the arena as the video clip drew to a close, while the stadium audience rose to its feet to welcome the monarch and her husband Prince Phillip, the Duke of York as they took their seats for the big show.
Harry Potter creator Rowling read out a passage from Peter Pan in a tribute to British children's literature as inflatable figures of great fantasy villains Captain Hook, Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians, Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter and the Childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang entered the arena. Characters dressed as beloved nanny Mary Poppins then floated in to fight off the darkness and save the day.
The epic production, which featured more than 7,500 volunteers, also saw Sir Simon Rattle conduct the London Symphony Orchestra on a rendition of Chariots of Fire as comedian Rowan Atkinson joined in on the keyboard, performing as his fumbling Mr. Bean character.
Viewers were then taken on a journey through five decades of music in a montage of Britain's greatest pop exports as the sounds of The Who's My Generation, Rolling Stones' (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, The Beatles' hit She Loves You and Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody were blasted through the speakers.
Songs by David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, New Order, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Soul II Soul, Eurythmics, Blur and Amy Winehouse were also included in the soundtrack, as was Underworld's Born Slippy .NUXX, which became the theme tune to Boyle's breakthrough movie Trainspotting.
East London rapper Dizzee Rascal took centrestage to perform and the segment drew to a close with applause for British scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, who created the first website in 1990.
Film footage then turned to soccer ace David Beckham at the wheel of a speedboat on the River Thames as a young athlete held the Olympic torch while they travelled to the Olympic Arena in Stratford, East London, just a stone's throw away from the soccer ace's hometown of Leytonstone.
The ceremony, which has lasted for over two hours, continues.
Like the seemingly generic location at the center of the movie The Cabin in the Woods has a purposefully familiar exterior. But it's a facade and in the film's first few minutes writer/director Drew Goddard draws back the curtain to unveil an innovative and unexpected world. The setup is simple: five twenty-somethings head for a vacation in a lone shack upstate but when they arrive things quickly take a turn for the worse. The run-of-the-mill supernatural antics aren't simply for our amusement — there's another force behind the scenes orchestrating the quintet's demise for a bigger purpose. The mystery behind those horror movie tropes is Cabin in the Woods's clever twist a riff that's wickedly funny and endlessly fulfilling.
The first people we meet in Cabin in the Woods aren't the soon-to-be-terrorized young folk but two technicians Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and Hadley (Bradley Whitford) who coordinate the Cabin's entertaining mischief. They're like employees pulled out of Office Space susceptible to the same droll ups and downs of any job —their gig just involves murdering co-eds. They sit in a control room orchestrating each piece of their plan with well-placed hurdles (cue the creaky door!) and rehearsed extras (enter: mysterious gas station owner). If that screams spoiler don't fret; the who the what the where and the why are all kept secret unraveling in parallel and commenting on the routine horror plotline.
Goddard and co-writer Joss Whedon don't let the scary movie thread fall to the wayside painting their ensemble with colorful characters and great talent: despite being stunning creatures the perfect types for a serial killer to chase down with a a giant knife Dana (Kristen Connolly) and Jules (Anna Hutchison) are smart savvy and sharp (a tangible sign of Whedon's influence); Curt (Chris Hemsworth) and his buddy Holden (Jesse Williams) are big and brutish — but not without personality; and Marty (Fran Kranz)... loves weed. Only after they arrive at the cabin a whiff of pheromonal gas in the air do they transform into the archetypical horror characters. All according to plan.
Cabin in the Woods has its cake and eats it too simultaneously clicking as a terrifying horror film a cackle-worthy satire and a thought-provoking dissection of the genre. Alongside its send-up of the overplayed "cabin in the woods" mechanics are grander ideas. Why do we watch? Goddard evaluates every perspective but never in a didactic fashion. There's a fury of imagination in every scene every joke Goddard and Whedon's script taking every opportunity to push the concept to unanticipated places. Across the board all the actors are able to balance the unusual heightened realism with Hemsworth proving his knack for comedy and versatility as an up-and-comer.
Cabin in the Woods is non-stop fun from beginning to end concluding with a grand finale that no amount of spoilers could ever dilute. At SXSW I called Cabin "the most crowd-pleasing movie of all time" and while that may seem sensationalist I assure I'll be rewatching this one for a long time.
The Welsh-born actor, who is best known for his starring role in 1960s sci-fi drama A for Andromeda, spent almost 60 years in showbusiness.
Halliday became a professional actor after serving in World War II. He joined the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, England in 1950 and worked alongside great thespians like Richard Burton and Sir Ralph Richardson.
During his career, he appeared on cult TV shows Dr Who, The Sweeney, The Saint and The Avengers.
He also featured in the films The Swordsman and Remains of the Day.
His final movie was 2005's star-studded Lassie, in which he played a vicar.
In Red Riding Hood the age-old fairytale of a little girl who learns the perils of talking to strangers has been turned into a sort of supernatural harlequin murder mystery by Catherine Hardwicke director of the 2008 teen vampire flick Twilight. Though nominally a horror film its dearth of scares and potent strain of adolescent melodrama will inspire more comparisons to Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling saga than its director would probably care to acknowledge.
In this version the titular red-cloaked heroine played by doe-eyed Amanda Seyfried is given a name – Valerie – and cast not as the disobedient naïf we remember from the original fable but a headstrong and independent-minded young lady who would never fall for the tricks of some hairy beast masquerading as her grandmother. Although betrothed by parental arrangement to Henry (Max Irons) the respectable scion of a wealthy blacksmithing family her heart really belongs to Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) the darkly handsome town badboy whose chosen occupation woodworker apparently ranks far below blacksmith in the social hierarchy.
Valerie is inclined to run off with Peter but soon such inclinations must be shelved when her sister turns up dead the apparent victim of a wolf that has terrorized the residents of Daggerhorn the rustic medieval-ish mountain village in which the film is set (the exact setting and time period are kept weirdly indeterminate) for decades. The men of Daggerhorn resolve to avenge the girl’s death and slay the murderous animal once and for all but they appear hopelessly outmatched until Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) a blustery hunter/inquisitor with dubious religious credentials arrives on the scene. Solomon informs the beleaguered Daggerhornians that the wolf they are dealing with is no mere wolf but a shape-shifting werewolf with powers far greater than any of them had anticipated.
Even worse when the moon isn’t full he (or she) walks among them unnoticed in human form. Everyone is a suspect Solomon declares and soon Red Riding Hood evolves into a hokey whodunit filled with all sorts of unconvincing feints and red herrings. At the center of the mystery is poor Valerie in whom the werewolf seems inordinately interested. “Ohmigod you can talk!” she gasps when the werewolf first speaks to her telepathically – a line that got some of the loudest laughs in a film that is far too often inadvertently comedic.
Such is the danger of a film that treats such a subject as ridiculous as Red Riding Hood’s with such unrelenting gravity – melodrama curdles into gooey processed cheese. And this film is slathered with it. Which wouldn't be so bad if the subject matters were at least a little suspenseful but Hardwicke is unable to exact much terror or fright out of David Leslie Johnson’s too-tame script. (The film’s PG-13 rating doesn’t help.) What we’re left with is a gauzy romance that might have even ardent Twi-hard types rolling their eyes.