A talented child star, Kathryn Newton saw her career momentum increase exponentially during her teenage years. Born Feb. 8, 1997, Kathryn Newton made her screen debut as Colby Marian Chandler, the you...
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Here's a feat: taking what is likely the oldest, most well-known story in the world, and making a retelling feel inventive. Over the course of its two-and-a-half-hour runtime, Darren Aronofsky's Noah takes many forms — Tolkien-esque fantasy, trippy psychological thriller, merciless dissection of the dark points of abject faith — never feeling too rigidly confined to the parameters of the familiar tale that we've all experienced in the form of bedtime stories, religious education lessons, and vegetable-laden cartoons. As many forms as the parable has taken over the past few thousand years, Aronofsky manages to find a few new takes.
The director's thumbprint is branded boldly on Russell Crowe's Noah, a man who begins his journey as a simple pawn of God and evolves into a dimensional human as tortured as Natalie Portman's ballerina or Jared Leto's smack head. Noah's obsession and crisis: his faith. The peak of the righteous descendant of Seth (that's Adam and Eve's third son — the one who didn't die or bash his brother's head in with a rock), Noah is determined to carry out the heavenly mission imparted upon him via ambiguous, psychedelic visions. God wants him to do something — spoilers: build an ark — and he will do it. No matter what.
No matter what it means to his family, to his lineage, to his fellow man, to the world. He's going to do it. No matter what. The depths to which Aronofsky explores this simple concept — the nature of unmitigated devotion — makes what we all knew as a simplistic A-to-B children's story so gripping. While the throughline is not a far cry from the themes explored in his previous works, the application of his Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan ideas in this movie does not feel like a rehashing. Experiencing such modern, humane ideas in biblical epic is, in fact, a thrill-ride.
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Although Aronofsky accesses some highly guttural stuff inside of his title character, he lets whimsy and imagination take hold of the world outside of him. Jumping headfirst into the fantastical, the director lines his magical realm with rock monsters — "Watcher" angels encased in Earth-anchored prisons as punishment for their betrayal of God — and a variety of fauna that range in innovation from your traditional white dove to some kind of horned, scaled dog bastardization.
But the most winning elements of Noah, and easily the most surprising, come when Aronofsky goes cosmic. He jumps beyond the literal to send us coursing through eons to watch the creation of God's universe, matter exploding from oblivion, a line of creatures evolving (in earnest) into one another as the planet progresses to the point at which we meet our tortured seafarer. Aronofsky's imagination, his aptitude as a cinematic magician, peak (not just in terms of the film, but in terms of his career) in these scenes.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
With all this propped against the stark humanity of his story — not just in terms of Crowe's existential spiral, but in character beats like grandfather Methuselah's relationship with the youngsters, in little Ham's playful teasing of his new rock monster pet — Aronofsky manages something we never could have anticipated from Noah. It's scientific, cathartic, humane. Impressively, this age-old tale, here, is new. And beyond that feat, it's a pretty winning spin.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
The sequel to the 2007 supernatural horror movie, starring Katie Featherston and Kathryn Newton, beat out Ben Affleck's Argo, which had earnings of $16.6 million (£10.4 million).
Animated family film Hotel Transylvania came in third with ticket sales of $13.5 million (£8.4 million), thriller Taken 2 followed close behind at four ($13.4 million/£8.3 million) and Tyler Perry's new movie Alex Cross debuted in fifth ($11.8 million/£8 million).
After the events of the first Paranormal Activity, chances were that we were never going to see "Katie," the preyed upon twenty-something at the center of the ghastly events, ever again. Few horror movie franchises follow the same people throughout their subsequent sequels. It was easy to imagine another faceless couple terrorized in the same ways as Katie and her boyfriend Micah in a theoretical Paranormal Activity 2.
Thankfully, that wasn't the case. Later installments built on the mythology of the established world, giving actress Katie Featherston reason to return in Paranormal Activity 2 and once again in this week's Paranormal Activity 4. This time she's working with directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (who helmed the third installment of the series), but speaking to Hollywood.com, Featherston insists it's one big family reuniting once again. "Oren [Peli, director of Paranormal Activity] is still very much involved as a producer," says Featherston. "The whole gang is still there. Ariel and Henry are really fun, very engaging. They work really well together. And they listen. If I have a thought or question, they're right there to talk to me about it. We film a lot, enough for two or three movies. It's always exciting to see what ends up in the final cut."
Thanks to the "found footage" nature of Paranormal Activity 4, Joost, Schulman, and their ensemble of actors are able to shoot a sizable amount of material — both drawn from the script and completely created off the cuff. "For the sequels, they've had a general idea of where they want the stories to go, but they've left a lot of room for improvisational fluidity," says Featherston. "If one of us thinks of something great in the moment or an idea, we can usually do it pretty quickly. I think that serves the story."
Featherston recounts shooting one scene from PA4 involving series newcomer Kathryn Newton and Brady Allen, who plays an older version of the boy Featherston's character kidnaps in the second film. After shooting it a few times, Peli stepped in to suggest a few other ideas. "Oren said, 'What if we tried a scene in another room and changed it up a bit.' And then the directors said, 'Yeah, seems like a great idea!' And that ended up being in the movie. It happened right there on the fly." Featherston likens the style to comedic improvisation. "I think it's a similar muscle. You have to listen and be quick on your feet and be grounded in the moment."
Continuing the series trend to stick with what works, Featherston insists that, even with Paranormal Activity 4, the making of the movies preserves the run and gun feel of the original — complete with practical special effects. "In the first movie almost everything, except for one tiny little shot at the end, was done practically," says Featherston. She explains that as that while the budgets for each film have grown a bit with each installment, Peli, Joost, and Schulman try and stay true to the tone and indie feel that's become a keystone. "Lots of dragging, wires, pulling — quite a bit of it is right in the room."
Paranormal Activity's expanding mythology has slowly dug into the identity of what plagues the franchise's characters and Featherston sees a real potential in the religious aspects of that reveal. While the actress isn't a religious person, she does have a "strong connection with spirituality and with God" and sees a lot of potential in touching on faith in the franchise. "I think it's an interesting way to take the franchise," says Featherston. "The idea of demons and exorcisms is rooting in religion, so it makes sense." Featherston admits that she grew up with a religious family, but that it's never kept them from enjoying her work in the movies. "At the end of the day, we're making a really enjoyable scary movie. We're not trying to make a huge statement."
After four outings, Featherston expresses interest at trying her hand at other types of material. That said, she still has questions about her alter ego "Katie." "I feel bad for the normal, unpossessed Katie," says Featherston. "She's still in there!" The actress imagines a Paranormal Activity where Katie has a chance to wake up from her possessed state and discover the life she lost — her boyfriend Micah, her sister, and her family. "I don't know if it's a scary movie — it sounds like a bad drama. But I'd love to see some closure. [Laughs] Paranormal Activity: The Indie Drama."
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures]
How Will Horror Movies Continue to Frighten Us?
'Paranormal Activity 4' Trailer: The Ghosts Are on Your Skype Call
Dial M for Makeover: Which Star Looks the Most Like Hitchcock?
Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
A talented child star, Kathryn Newton saw her career momentum increase exponentially during her teenage years. Born Feb. 8, 1997, Kathryn Newton made her screen debut as Colby Marian Chandler, the young daughter of Liza Colby (Marcy Walker) and Adam Chandler, Sr. (David Canary) on the venerable soap opera "All My Children" (ABC, 1970-2011). After appearing in the shorts "Abbie Down East" (2002) and "Bun-Bun" (2003), Newton booked an even more substantial role on the sitcom "Gary Unmarried" (CBS, 2008-2010) as the wry, wise-beyond-her-years Louise, the overly socially conscious daughter of divorced parents (Jay Mohr and Paula Marshall). Stealing her scenes, Newton won a Young Artist Award and earned two additional nominations for her work on the series, which helped her land a fun supporting role in Cameron Diaz's blockbuster hit comedy "Bad Teacher" (2011) as the unimpressed object of affection of a spectacularly dorky student (Matthew J. Evans). Ascending the Hollywood ranks, Newton earned an even bigger profile boost when she booked the lead role in the horror smash "Paranormal Activity 4" (2012) as a young woman who finds herself and her little brother caught up in a terrifying ghost story.<p><i>By Jonathan Riggs</i>