ericvespe FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

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from Austin, TX

  • Activity

    • Fox Continues To Kill It With Their Deadpool 2 Marketing! New Poster Is Both Funny And Beautiful!

      2 months ago

      ericvespe

      If you couldn't be more psyched for Deadpool 2 then prepare to push yourself even further with this gorgeous and funny art poster Fox just released. "From the Studio That Killed Wolverine." Bless you all. I want this on my wall now. 



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      Ain't that thing a beaut? I mean, we have Blind Al, Terry Crews, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Ricky Baker, Shatterstar and Rob Delaney all on one poster! I mean, there's everything AND, literally, the kitchen sink in this poster. If this movie is even a fraction as awesome as this poster we're all in for a great time. Only a week and a half to wait, folks!

    • Wait, John Lithgow is going to play Jud Crandall in the new Pet Sematary remake?!?

      2 months ago

      ericvespe

      This may be a little niche, but today's casting news of John Lithgow joining up with the pending Pet Sematary remake is right up my alley. Lithgow is awesome and he's going to be playing of my favorite King characters: Jud Crandall. 



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      You'll remember the late, great Fred Gwynne played Jud in the original film and he did a bang up job, putting on an authentic Maine accent so thick he became a quick parody. South Park straight up cut and paste him into the series he was so memorable in that role. "Don't go down that road..." 


      Much like Gwynne, Lithgow's career has been mostly built around him being such a lovable guy. There have been a few exceptions, my favorite being his cold-blooded strangler character in Brian De Palma's Blow Out, but on the whole Lithgow was mostly the dad you always wanted.


      Crandall is the granddad you always wanted, so that fits. He's kind, smart, has an answer for everything, but he's also haunted. In this case he's haunted by the knowledge he has... of a little clearing beyond the pet cemetery where the soil is stoney, like a man's heart. And he's haunted by the power he knows that place possesses. 



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      The remake cast Jason Clarke as the lead, Louis Creed, a doctor who moves his family to a small town in Maine and now Lithgow. Both have starred in recent Planet of the Apes movies, so here's hoping Andy Serkis comes in to MoCap the Creeds' undead cat, Church.


      This marks a post-IT renaissance of Stephen King adaptations and I'm there for it. What do you folks think? 

    • Eric Vespe Takes You Behind The Scenes Of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom!

      2 months ago

      ericvespe

      The summer of '93 was an import one for me as a movie geek. Of course I had grown up with Steven Spielberg's work like Jaws and the Indiana Jones films and Close Encounters and ET, but I had never been caught up in one of those as an “event.” They had simply existed, either on cable or VHS. I did go see Last Crusade opening weekend with my family, but it was just a cool thing to do, not necessarily a landmark moment.


      The evening of Friday June 11th, 1993 I was at my grandparent's house. We were watching the news after dinner and the big story were the lines around the block for Jurassic Park. 



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      I was so pumped to see the movie, but also nervous. I was supposed to go see it the next morning, but could I even get in?


      My grandparents very rarely went to the movies with me. Grandpa Vic would often say “I want to keep my shoes” when I'd ask him to go watch movies with me, referring to the sticky floors of the theaters. But they encouraged my movie habit and bright and early Saturday morning my Grandmother dropped me off at the domed Century Theaters in San Jose, California.


      I walked up to the ticket booth while my Grandmother waited to make sure I could actually get in and sure enough I was able to buy a ticket to the first screening that morning. No lines, no problems. I vividly remember getting a Coke and some Red Vines, thinking all that stuff on the news was overblown and then I entered the theater... a buzzing, packed theater.


      Somehow I hit the sweet spot between sold out and lining up hours in advance and just kinda slid on in. I remember sitting off-center and being perfectly happy with my seat and then the usher came in and asked everybody to scoot towards the middle so the next wave of people could have easy access to remaining seats.


      When all was said and done I somehow ended dead center, middle of the theater. It's like fate put me in that seat. Then the movie played and I was hooked in a way I had never been before. Some of it was the buzz of the crowd, some was the technical majesty of the effects, both practical and digital, on the screen, some of it was the charisma of all the actors, a good deal was John Williams' score and there was also a little bit attributed to the state of the art immersive screen I was watching it on.


      The Century theaters were domed, with curved screens so it felt a little bit like I was surrounded by the movie. Not only that, but this was my first experience with Digital Sound. The DTS logo is super cheesy now, but at the time it blew my mind (and my eardrums).





      I was so into the movie. A 12 year old boy in 1993 was already the perfect mark for Jurassic Park and when you add in the fantastic presentation to the mix you get something life-changing.


      I'll always love Jurassic Park thanks to that screening. That summer I was boy obsessed. I both read the original Michael Crichton novel and listened to the audio book (read by John Heard). I collected Jurassic Park trading cards, I bought the making of book, I listened to the soundtrack on repeat, I pumped countless quarters into the Jurassic Park pinball machine. And I dreamed of petting a real life dinosaur.


      Cut to 24 years later and I found myself in the jungles of Hawaii, about to enter a tent filled with animatronic dinosaurs. Twelve year old me was very much on my mind in that moment.


      But lets back up a second. I got the call asking if I wanted to visit the set of the Jurassic World sequel after I had booked a much-needed vacation to New Zealand in that same timeframe. However you must remember that whole page of backstory I just made you read. A little thing like vacation wasn't going to keep me from getting to visit a Jurassic park in real life. The way it all worked out I flew from Austin to LA to Aukland to Wellington (roughly 20-ish hours of travel), got to sleep for a night and then got on an airplane and headed about 10 hours back the way I just came and I did so with a smile because there was a chance I was gonna see some goddamn dinosaurs and for that I'd fly around the world three times over.


      One of the perks of getting to touch down in New Zealand first was I happened upon a bag of limited edition Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Doritos that was only available in the Southern hemisphere. The chips were green colored and “Gamora themed” and I said “Screw it, I'm going to gift these to Chris Pratt if I get the chance.”


      So, me and my movie tie-in junk food ended up in Hawaii where I found out the set visit was very limited. It was just me and Slashfilm's Peter Sciretta there, which made the whole thing feel intimate and less junket-y where you're herded like cattle from one part of the visit to another. Don't get me wrong, those visits are fine, too, but this kind is way better.



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      Our first stop was the destroyed Main Street of Jurassic World, built up off of Police Beach on the North Shore of Oahu. This exterior set was totally cool to be exposed to the elements because in the story for the sequel the Park has been abandoned for years. They've given it back to the dinosaurs and thus everything is overgrown, broken down, unkempt and probably filled with a bunch of dino doo-doo. I didn't see any, but I'm sure it was there.


      They built Main Street on an old WW2 airfield and it looked identical to the one you see (in much better shape) in the first Jurassic World even though that original set was built in New Orleans. The production design team was able to recreate it in exacting detail from the construction drawings, 3-D scans and photos taken on set the first time around.


      I didn't see any evidence of it, but I'm hoping we see a skeleton holding margarita glasses in each hand somewhere in this scene.


      While that's wishful thinking on my part, what I can say is that this location doesn't play a huge part of the movie, but I was told that it serves a pretty big moment that sounds like it mirrors the original Jurassic Park.


      When our heroes return to the island they find more dead dinosaurs than alive dinosaurs. Bones, carcasses, etc. I mean, the dinos have been left to their own devices so naturally the meat-eating meatasauruses have been eating the veggiesauruses and they don't tend to clean up after themselves.


      Apparently our heroes come to Main Street and see their first sign of life: a Brachiosaur walking amongst the ruins. Like I said, it sounds like a callback to the original moment when Grant sees the Brachiosaur for the first time. There's still awe and majesty even as this island is about to go up in flames.


      One of the big characters that has been kept out of pretty much all advertising is Ted Levine's character, Wheatley. We didn't get to see him work, but we heard a lot about him. Ted Levine is a very great and intimidating character actor probably best known as Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs and his character here is apparently a real son of a bitch. He's a hard-ass military style dude on the ground to organize the extraction of the very specific species he's tasked to grab and from the sounds of things he's a little bit of a mix of Pete Postlethwaite's Roland Tembo and Peter Stormare's Dieter Stark from The Lost World in that he'd rather hunt the dinosaurs instead of saving them, but he doesn't seem to have Tembo's respect for the animal. He's a little more cruel about it and like most cruel people in the Jurassic universe things probably aren't going to end too well for this dude.


      While the production was very secretive about what happens after everybody gets off the island we did get filled in on some of the key on-island locations. We know that our group is trying to find Blue and to do so they need to journey to a radio tower on the island where they can plug in and track the dinosaurs (remember they all had tracking devices implanted). I assume there is where Justice Smith's character comes in since he's a computer dude who is deathly afraid of literally everything on the island.


      We've all seen the trailers by now so you know they find Blue. What you might have missed is that Blue has made her nest in the overturned jeep that the T-Rex messed up so beautifully in Jurassic Park. I was told later that the idea to do that came from Mondo, of all places. You may remember their teaser poster print they did for Jurassic World depicting a Raptor on top of the ruins of the car. Apparently that image stuck with the creative team and they couldn't find a place to put it in the first film, so they wrote that into the sequel.



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      And speaking of Blue, I guess it's time to talk about losing my mind and petting a real, living, breathing dinosaur.


      I'm jumping forward a little bit here, but before the final part of our set visit, Peter and I got to step into the SFX tent and see some of the animatronics involved in the movie. We missed the biggest animatronic build of the shoot, sadly. They built a full sized T-Rex all drugged out and in her container, but that wasn't brought to Hawaii so I didn't get to see her.


      I did get to see a baby stegosaurus and Blue in all her head to toe glory, though, so I'm not complaining.


      The stego was a partial build. The body wasn't fully animatronic as the scene it's in apparently calls for it to be fairly stationary. The head, though, was articulated and puppeted by two guys, one controlling the rig that made its head move around in a surprisingly big range and the other using a remote control to make the eyes blink.


      Working together they made this head on metal skeleton come to life. It sniffed at my leg and nudged my outstretched hand like a big, goofy dog. Even though I could see the illusion thanks to the physical body not being in that tent at the time I still bought into it thanks to the animation happening before my eyes.


      The raptor didn't require as much suspension of disbelief. Blue was a full build. She was groggy, laying on the ground, but fully articulated. Her legs could push out, her arms moved, her ribcage expanded and contracted with each breath, her head could raise up off the ground and move around, her eyes opened and closed and could follow you, her mouth and tongue were working. In short, she was alive. In that tent at that moment, with a huge team of puppeteers behind her, Blue was a living thing.


      This was the moment I had dreamed of since I was a wide-eyed kid sitting in that movie theater watching dinosaurs come to life.


      The SFX crew told us that this particular build breaks down into three parts that when connected makes a seamless, full body Velociraptor and that it typically takes 11 puppeteers to bring her to life. Some will operate individual limbs, some the bladders built in that make it look like she's breathing, some on her face.


      The SFX team, lead by Star Wars' Neal Scanlan, didn't just create living dinosaurs. Nope, there's lots of dead ones as well. Near Blue's nest, out in the jungles of Hawaii, they built a full scale, dead adult Stegosaurus. This thing was massive. Sixty feet long, 15 feet tall, and immaculately detailed. Leathery, drying skin hanging over an exposed ribcage... It was sad and beautiful at the same time.


      There were a good dozen more dino carcasses scattered around the landscape. We went to visit the Radio Tower location, which is near where they shot the Gyrosphere Valley sequence in the first Jurassic World, at a place called Kualoa Ranch, which has been the location of a ton of movies and TV shows. When Hurley was golfing in Lost or when Lex, Tim and Dr. Grant were running from the Gallimimus in the original Jurassic Park, the Kong skeletons scene from Skull Island... that was all shot at Kualoa, a giant gorgeous amazingly beautiful reserve. I'm also told the Obamas frequent the event center.



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      One of the locations in this huge natural wonder is a steep green hillside and the Radio Tower was down at the foot of that. They had rigged the whole area with gas pipes so they could pump out fire for a big lava sequence and they even dotted the landscape with those dino carcasses. From the tower location you could easily see for miles and they had a bunch dotting the landscape and like the Stego these aren't just bones, but fully detailed decomposing carcasses.


      The scene in the trailer where Chris Pratt is running down the hill yelling “RUN!” is from this location and it looks way more steep and treacherous in person than it does on camera, let me tell you.


      We saw very little actual filming, but our last stop of the day did take us to the active set.

      The scene is the finale of the big island escape and involved Justice Smith and Chris Pratt and a speeding truck racing down a dock, trying to make it to a boat being chased by lava and probably a dinosaur or two. I don't know about that last part, but it is a Jurassic movie, so if someone's running odds are there's a dinosaur involved somewhere.


      Instead of getting to watch the scene unfold we instead spent our time at this location interviewing many of the key players, including legendary producer Frank Marshall, Justice Smith and Chris Pratt. I've run all those interviews separately and will list them at the bottom of this article. I highly recommend you give them a read if you want to know more about the movie and hear some fun filming anecdotes.



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      This was my first time meeting Pratt and he was every bit the joking, charming leading man type I expected from his film work. Of course within seconds of him entering our interview tent I bestowed upon him the gift of limited edition Doritos that had his face on them and to my delight he was super over the moon about it.


      There was a debate about whether or not he was going to “smash them” that night or hold on to them for posterity's sake and eat them in 20 years. That spurned a quick conversation about just how high you could get eating 20 year old movie tie-in Doritos and then we calmed down and had a nice chat about Jurassic stuff.


      Before we left we got a visit from Bryce Dallas Howard, who was in the tent next door to the one we were doing interviews in. We had interviewed her earlier in the day and since she knew she had two full blown geeks she asked us if we had any thoughts about her dad signing on to do the Han Solo movie. Of course we did and we listed off a few words of geek wisdom that she rapidly typed into the notes app on her phone and she said she was going to send them on to her dad. Whether or not she did and whether or not he took any of them to heart I have no idea, but it was a pretty cool moment nonetheless.



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      And that ended the big trip. The next day I got back on a plane and went back to enjoy my vacation knowing that I had gotten to bond with a real life dinosaur. The SFX guys could explain all the servos and components that made Blue look alive all they want, but I'm pretty sure they just cloned a real life dinosaur. That's my story and I'm sticking with it!


      Thanks for following along on this crazy adventure. Hopefully you know a little bit more about this crazy new Jurassic movie. If not now you know about limited edition Doritos, so I guess it's a win either way.


      If you want to read full transcripts of the interviews with the main players then here you go:


      Director JA Bayona On Making Jurassic World Scary Again

      Producers Frank Marshall & Patrick Crowley Discuss The Goals Of This Huge Sequel

      Chris Pratt Talks About Jumping Through A T-Rex's Mouth

      Bryce Dallas Howard On Becoming A Dinosaur Rights Activist

    • JJ Abrams' crazy Stephen King-themed CASTLE ROCK gets a new trailer and release date!

      2 months ago

      ericvespe

      I'm hoping by now a good many of you have gotten to know me a little bit. If I'm still a mystery wrapped in an enigma for you, I can boil my interests down to two Steves: Spielberg and King. I grew up obsessed with both men's work. Starting in 6th Grade I decided I was going to read every book Stephen King ever wrote. I started with Cujo and being the solitary nerd type throughout all my schooling I had plenty of time to read and by the time I was in high school I had read everything King wrote (even the stuff he wrote under his Richard Bachmann pseudonym). 


      I still pick up every book he puts out and that is one prolific motherfucker, so he keeps me busy. 


      So when it was announced that JJ Abrams was developing a Hulu show called Castle Rock I was already in. Castle Rock is one of King's famous fictional Maine towns and it serves as ground zero for a bunch of crazy shit. The show promised to bring all kinds of King references and characters together and now we've gotten a new trailer that really underlines that.


      One thing that's really interesting is that they're casting it with a few Stephen King movie alums, like IT's Bill Skarsgard and Chosen Jacobs and Carrie's Sissy Spacek. The other cast is top notch, too, including Lost's Terry O'Quinn, apparently playing the new warden at Shawshank Prison, Melanie Lynskey as a real estate agent (tough job in that town), Andre Holland and Evil Dead and Don't Breathe's Jane Levy round out the cast.


      The new trailer not only gives us a better glimpse at what kind of show we should expect it also drops the release date: July 25th. It can't come soon enough for this King nerd. 




    • CinemaCon: First Footage From The Suspiria Remake Is Brutal, Intense and Mean!

      2 months ago

      ericvespe

      On this busy last day of CinemaCon I went to Amazon's presentation specifically because I was hoping to see something from the Suspiria remake.



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      Dario Argento's original is considered by many to be a true masterpiece of horror. From a production design, tone and music standpoint it's hard to disagree with that. Argento's gothic, colorful movie about witchcraft at a dance school gets under the skin.


      Over the years a few different directors have approached this project, like David Gordon Green. His movie didn't happen, but he ended up with Halloween, so don't feel too bad for him. Luca Guadagnino is the one who was able to get this remake off the ground.


      He's an interesting choice for this. He's known for very emotionally charged dramas, most recently Call Me By Your Name. The fact that he's following that sensitive gay romance drama with frickin' Suspiria is bonkers by itself. What's even more bonkers is he shot Suspiria BEFORE he did Call Me By Your Name.


      But what the hell was a Suspiria remake going to look like? Well, today I got to see a little piece of it and it was sure something.


      The footage was graphic, brutal and a little mean. That's a good thing, by the way. Guadagnino ties witchcraft to dance, which is interesting. The footage began with a girl trapped in a mirrored room and then cuts to Dakota Johnson's character about to practice a dance for her instructor, the great Tilda Swinton.


      As Johnson does her routine, her movements have an impact on the poor girl trapped in the mirrored room. I didn't get the impression that Johnson knew the connection was there, but the more intense her dance got the more damage she was doing to the girl in the mirrored room. With each jerk of the Johnson's arms or twist of her body the girl is thrown around the room, her limbs contorting in unnatural ways, bones cracking, jawbone slowly dislocating, until it culminates with Johnson finishing her dance and the girl is left a crumpled, drooling ball of twisted legs, arms and torso.


      When I say the footage was mean, I'm not kidding. This scene went on for a long while. Maybe three or four minutes long and when it ends the girl in the mirrored room isn't dead. Oh no. She should be, but that mound of body parts is hitching for breath, drool spilling out of her broken mouth.


      Tonally that was right on. Visually it was radically different from Argento's movie. It's a good thing that Guadagnino isn't copying the original, but his choice seems to be to go in the complete opposite direction. 



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      The footage I saw was stark and almost colorless. The walls and floor were white, the clothing was all muted, light colors.


      I only saw one little sequence, so who knows if he gets crazier with the colors later in the movie, but I don't see how you remake Suspiria and don't, you know, use color. That's like doing Superman without John Williams' score or a Jaws movie without a shark.


      That said, the most important thing for Guadagnino to nail is tone and boy did he.

    • On-set Interview: Chris Pratt Talks About Jumping through a T-Rex's Mouth from the set of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom!

      2 months ago

      ericvespe

      When I got the invitation to the Hawaii set of the Jurassic World sequel I had already booked a vacation... In New Zealand. Of course I couldn't say no, but the timing was such that I flew from Austin to Wellington, New Zealand, which is about a total travel time of around 20-ish hours, get to sleep for a night, and then get right back on a plane and fly halfway back home, spend a few days in Hawaii and then fly another 8 hours back to New Zealand to enjoy the rest of my vacation.


      I mention this only because in that day and a half I was in New Zealand I found a bag of Doritos... a special bag of Doritos. I know, any bag of Doritos is a special bag of Doritos, but this was a limited edition Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 Doritos flavor that was only available in the southern hemisphere. Naturally, being the thoughtful guy I was, I picked up a bag of these green chips with Chris Pratt's face on it and hauled it all the way to Hawaii to give it to Chris Pratt himself.


      This interview was conducted in a tent on a dock where they were shooting a scene involving a big truck surrounded by fire racing to the water. The tent next door housed Bryce Dallas Howard. How do I know this? Well, she cameos in this interview after covertly dropping some eaves. You'll see.


      Right before this interview started I delivered unto Mr. Pratt his Doritos and, as expected, he was super nice about it and thanked me for bringing them to him and said he was going to either A) Destroy the whole bag or B) Save them for posterity and eat them in 20 years, which was either going to result in his death or him getting high as fuck.


      Pratt was every bit the magnetic dude you'd imagine him to be. Very laid back, but clearly super charming. You understand why he's a movie star when you meet him. The dude's funny, never put on airs and was just an overall pleasure to talk to.


      As a reminder, I conducted this interview with Slashfilm's Peter Sciretta, who joined me on this trip, so don't be surprised when you see his name pop up in the below interview, which covers a lot of ground. We learn more about where Owen is at, what he's been doing in the years since the events of Jurassic World, how Pratt deals with fanboying out over the legends he works with and much more!


      Enjoy the chat!



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      Peter Sciretta: It's been a few years since Jurassic World. What has Owen been up to?


      Chris Pratt: I have an idea as to the backstory. What I know and what Bryce and I and JA have all decided on... We hint at it a little bit through the interaction between Owen and Claire, but I think he's been running away a little bit. Where we landed in terms of my backstory and our relationship is that something has broken us. We're not together. The thing that has broken us is that Claire feels as though she has to do something to make it right and Owen feels as though there's no way to make it right, so you have to move on. I think that's the thing that destroyed us.


      Claire is now working for this organization and she's pouring all her energy into trying to save these dinosaurs and my character is like “let's go on a road trip. Let's forget what's happened. You keep obsessing about this.” It all came from the idea that he's a combat veteran. He's been through some stuff beforehand, so this isn't the first time he saw something really terrible happen. He's come to realize you have to sometimes accept what you've gone through and realize there's no way of changing it. That's what broke them. It's a control thing between the two of them.


      So, what he's been up to is he's been building a cabin by a lake, off the grid a little bit, probably drinking a little bit of beer and listening to music, hanging out... being solitary.


      Eric Vespe: We know part of Owen's motivation for returning to the island is to help Blue. Can you talk a little bit about how Owen might be different this time around considering the experience he had last time around. Has his point of view changed at all?


      Chris Pratt: Through the course of this film it will change, but it happens now, not between the two movies. He's coming to terms with his responsibility in working with the raptors and ultimately what the final intention with these things could be.


      We do this cool thing... It's this video log from early on in the Raptors' lives. Owen kept a video diary tracking their progress, so we see the Raptors as hatchlings to two months old, then six months old. It's this way to look into just how mammalian they are in their intelligence levels and their cognitive reasoning skills. They exhibit behaviors of empathy. He starts to realize that they've created these things that look like raptors, but they're much more.


      This movie really does open up a whole new concept for the Jurassic movies moving forward. You get an understanding that he knew a little bit more about these raptors than he'd want to let anybody know. I think he's cynical about Hoskins from the first movie, In-Gen, what their intentions are about creating animals this dangerous and this intelligent. You can assume what somebody bad would want to do with animals like that. Part of him feels as though the best case scenario is that they all die. When this island goes up in smoke it might be the right thing and maybe finally his responsibility for potentially creating a disastrous result with these animals will go away.


      So, in a way he thinks it's a natural thing for the dinosaurs to go away, but what brings him there is not so much saving the dinosaurs, it's protecting Claire; his love for her. He knows she's too big-headed. He knows she's going to go. He's not going to let her go on her own, so it's his love for her that brings him back to the island. At first. Through the course he realizes there's a little bit more to his relationship with Blue. And that he's a robot. (laughs)



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      Eric Vespe: Yes, a learning computer. He's Arnold from Terminator 2, not Terminator 1.


      Chris Pratt: Yeah, T2! (laughs)


      Peter Sciretta: The last film had a couple animatronics, but this one has a lot more. What was it like meeting these dinosaurs? I mean, I touched Blue and I almost cried.


      Chris Pratt: I know! It's really great. Because of the scenarios contrived in this film we have these passive dinosaurs. When you see the movie you'll see why they're not always running or jumping or leaping or doing things that animatronics aren't good at. They're sitting still. We did that in the first film with the Apatosaurus as it was dying in our arms. That was a real animatronic and it was amazing to hold this thing that felt living and breathing, its eyes were opening and closing. As many advancements in CGI that they've made since '93 when the first film came out they've also made some serious advancements in animatronics. These things are really very, very lifelike.


      Because of these situations we have a T-Rex and a Raptor that are full animatronic puppets. You got a dozen guys operating them and it's really cool. It's much easier as an actor to have something to react to. It's been great. Blue is awesome.


      Eric Vespe: How cool is the Rex? We've only heard about that build. We weren't able to see her in person.


      Chris Pratt: There's an awesome moment where Claire essentially rides this passed out, drugged T-Rex, which wakes up and I have to dive through its jaws. It's a really crazy sequence...


      (From next door, through the thin tent flap) Bryce Dallas Howard: SPOILER!


      Chris Pratt: Hey, I read the talking points. It said I could talk about it!


      (Still from the tent next door) Bryce Dallas Howard: Even the T-Rex?!?


      Chris Pratt: It what it says right here! (to us) Of course, Bryce is over there listening.


      Bryce Dallas Howard: (laughs) And I wouldn't call us broken, Chris!


      Chris Pratt: You've got to read the talking points.


      Peter Sciretta: Bryce was talking about how JA will play music between takes and sometimes during takes. You're used to that. James Gunn does that on the Guardians films. How is it different here with this movie?


      Chris Pratt: It's a great tool. I love it, I'm in full support of playing music through a take, even if it comes at the expense of the dialogue. Having a rhythm that's resonating through each person caught on screen is very, very helpful. You can forget that it's mid-third act and we are running for our lives. You're making this million piece puzzle and you may spend all day shooting something that takes 5 seconds. You get bored, you're sitting there annnnd action! Cut! You forget you're supposed to be breathing heavily. You forget when it's linked together it gets very manic and suspenseful. The music really helps with that.


      (JA) uses that a lot and he uses it for jump scares. He has this whole playlist that's always wired in, including a T-Rex roaring. From time to time he'll play it and we'll all react to it naturally because we don't know it's coming. He loves to manipulate us in that way, which is really helpful as an actor. He'll scare us out of nowhere or do something unexpected.


      Eric Vespe: Like play a fart sound?


      Chris Pratt: (Laughs) Not yet. We're almost done, but he hasn't done that quite yet. But I like that. It's a good tool to use to get people excited or scared or give a sense of wonderment. Especially when he plays the John Williams score. (hums the main theme) Oh my God! It allows you to do nothing because in this film we are actors and we contribute so much, of course, but there are characters we don't even see because they're going to be animated, but they're going to need to have their moment or the score will need to have its moment. It's a big collaboration and sometimes you need to sit back and let the music take center stage. When you play that music it reminds you “Oh, I don't need to try to upstage this with acting or faces or anything. I don't have to do anything here, just let the music guide me and the audience to what we're supposed to be feeling.”


      There's some great stuff, like when we're flying to the island for the first time and we're looking out the window and he's playing this music and it puts you in the scene, like you're an audience member. It's really cool. I like it a lot.


      Eric Vespe: JA was telling us that there's a heavy focus on suspense in this film. There was a little bit of that in the first Jurassic World, but it was more focused on the spectacle of the new park and the disaster movie aspect of things going wrong. Hearing that this one was going rely more on suspense did that make you more excited to do this? I can imagine the worst thing for you to do is read the script and think “We just did this.”


      Chris Pratt: It was really exciting to understand we were doing something really different. I was thrilled when I got the script. I think people have high expectations for sequels. I think with this one those expectations will be met, if not surpassed. It does something different. It opens up a new chapter. It's called Fallen Kingdom. The Kingdom of this movie is people stuck on an island with dinosaurs freaking out and killing everyone. That is falling and we're moving onto something else.


      The first one was a disaster film. Shifting the tone over to suspense is really nice because I think with suspense you can do a lot with very little. You don't see Jaws for a good 2/3rds of the movie. You know he's there, there's music, you see the evidence of it... Not to say we're doing exactly that. I don't think that necessarily works as much anymore. I was just watching Jaws the other day with my son and he's like “Where's the shark?”


      Eric Vespe: And you're like “Disowned!”


      Chris Pratt: Yeah, disowned! Get the fuck outta here! He's four and during the third act battle I was like “I'll show you the shark, get in here!” He was like “Aaaaaaaaahhh” and I was like (sternly) “You'll sit and watch! You earn this!”


      Peter Sciretta: What's it like working opposite Jeff Goldblum?



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      Chris Pratt: Man, he's amazing. A huge part of the success of Jurassic World was the success of Jurassic Park. It all started in '93 with them and with him. I know that we had the blessing of Steven Spielberg and Universal and fans, but it's nice that he signs up to do this movie because in a way it's giving it his blessing. That was really cool. He's a terrific actor and maybe the kindest actor out there. He's really cool and smart and funny and interesting. It's really awesome to have him in this movie.


      Peter Sciretta: He has such a unique rhythm in how he plays things. He's different from everybody else. I feel like if I was in a scene with him I'd just become the kid that saw Jurassic Park and I'd be watching him instead of being in the scene.


      Chris Pratt: I feel like if I answer that I'll be giving away too much, but you do have to get it out of the way when you work with someone like Jeff Goldblum or I just did Guardians with Kurt Russell... You work with these people who are icons... It's a two step process. First, you have to be authentic and let them know just how crazy about them that you are. You make that really short and brief. You get that out of the way so you're not a liar or the guy that doesn't acknowledge them. You pay your respects.


      After that you immediately move to step B which is you become a peer and a collaborator or else you lose their respect. If every time you see them you go “Dude, this is so crazy!” you might not be the right guy for this job. Even when you're feeling that the third, fourth, fifth, sixth day you work together you kind of have to bury that and get right to the work.


      It's a strange thing being famous. I'm certainly not an icon like a Kurt Russell or a Jeff Goldblum. They are icons and maybe one day I will be, but if their journey is similar at all to mine you don't really feel that way about yourself, so if people feel that way about you it's kind of an uncomfortable situation that you politely and patiently wait for to be over so you can get back to being normal again. So you get through that stuff. You go “Oh my God, I love you! I can't believe we're working together!” and then you get to work.


      Peter Sciretta: All the great Michael Crichton stories had a little something on their mind. They weren't just adventure plots. They always had some kind of commentary. What do you think is on this movie's mind?


      Chris Pratt: (Pauses) It feels relevant to now and I think part of that has to do with technology, which is not necessarily something that doesn't serve the greater good, but is valuable. Maybe we put aside moral dilemmas because you can make money. It has a little to do with greed. That's a theme that resonated in the first movie as well and continues to resonate in this series. It's a cautionary tale against greed and over-ambition and a lack of respect for the natural order and confidence in our ability to control that which we can't control.


      Eric Vespe: Which is Dr. Malcolm's stance in that first movie, so it makes sense that he's back in play here.


      Chris Pratt: Yeah, that's right.


      Peter Sciretta: Who are the real monsters: the humans or the dinosaurs?


      Chris Pratt: That's a good question! (laughs)



      3irOiap.jpg



      So that's the interview! Still got a couple more, with the two new faces in the group Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda, coming up plus my detailed set report where I tour the island, see some dead dinos and also some very much alive (read: amazing animatronic) dinos and so much more!


      Stay tuned!

    • CinemaCon: JJ Abrams Says Bad Robot's OVERLORD is NOT a Cloverfield Sequel!

      2 months ago

      ericvespe


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      Hey, everybody. At the big Paramount panel at CinemaCon this afternoon JJ Abrams appeared on-screen to introduce some footage from Bad Robot's Overlord, a WWII horror movie directed by Julius Avery. First, he said that Overlord is Bad Robot's first R-rated movie and that it's "batshit crazy."


      Then he said contrary to what you may have heard on forums and Reddit Overlord is NOT a stealth Cloverfield movie. In fact he said they're developing a "true, dedicated Cloverfield sequel" according to JJ. That means it's not one they retrofit into the universe late in the process like both 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Cloverfield Paradox. 


      So, what is Overlord. Like I said it's a WW2 horror movie about a small squad of soldier shot down over enemy lines during the Normandy Invasion. From the footage it seems like the survivors stumble across a bunker with some real messed up shit inside. We're talking Re-Animator stuff involving syringes with red stuff in them that can seemingly bring people back to life, seemingly undead monstrosities and other nightmarish things. Those Nazis are never up to any good, are they?


      The standout sequence in the footage was one of the soldier approaching a gurney with a woman on it, obscured mostly by a curtain. She's begging for help in French. The soldier pulls back the curtain and reveals the head is about all that's left. It's just her head, still asking for help, and her spinal column. Everything else has been stripped away.


      So, it's gonna be gnarly. That's very much my kind of horror movie, so count me on board with this one as well!

    • CinemaCon: First Footage From Halloween Is Screened! Michael Myers Comes Home And Jamie Lee Is Ready For Him!

      2 months ago

      ericvespe

      Universal's presentation at CinemaCon was pretty spectacular. Yes, they had Cher there to Fernando in celebration of the Mama Mia sequel. Yes, they have video introductions by people like The Rock and Peter Jackson... but the thing I was most looking forward to was the very first look anywhere of the new Halloween movie.


      And boy did they deliver.



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      Producer Jason Blum brought out the great Jamie Lee Curtis to introduce the footage. The set up is that after Loomis shot Myers at the end of the first movie he was eventually captured and re-institutionalized and Laurie has been waiting and preparing for the last 40 years for him to escape. She's with her daughter and granddaughter the Halloween he does get out.


      So the footage definitively states that none of the Halloween sequels matter. Everything that has been made after the events of the first film is out the window. There was even a scene with teenage characters talking about Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. “Wasn't it her brother that killed all those people?” “It wasn't her brother. That was something people made up.”


      In the footage we see a couple of reporters or documentarians visiting the asylum where Myers is and they approach a man standing in an open courtyard, back to them, chained to the ground. Of course the dummy reporter guy pulls out the mask. I can't tell you whether or not Michael responds to that (because we didn't see any more of that scene), but it introduces the mask and Michael certainly gets it back at some point.


      My biggest takeaway from the footage was that they were taking everything very seriously. If you were wondering if having Danny McBride co-writing this with David Gordon Green meant we were getting a more comedy/horror thing you were fuckin' wrong.


      There's an insanity to Michael this time out that is really off-putting. He's not going crazy, but his body language and actions are just “off.” Super creepy.


      Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode is no damsel in distress here. In fact I don't think there was one shot of her being afraid. Quite the opposite. She's not only prepared for this moment (having rigged her house with various safe rooms, weapons and hidden compartments), she's been hoping for it. At one point she even says that she prays he gets out someday so she can kill him.

      From the footage I can say that when he does get out (looks like a bus crash lets loose a lot of the inmates) Laurie is hunting him just as much as he's hunting his victims.


      There was a great scene where a woman (I think maybe one of the reporters/documentarians?) is in a bathroom stall and you see Michael's boots walk in. She's like “Occupied” and his hand reaches over the top of the stall door and drops a half dozen bloody teeth down on her.

      That's the kind of crazy we're dealing with here.


      The footage ended with a kid in bed asking his mom (or maybe a babysitter?) to close the closet door. The door is open a crack, the light from inside spilling out. She pushes it closed, but it bounces back. She does it again, it bounces back open. Third time it bounces she opens it fully revealing Myers, knife in hand.


      Very much a straight horror movie and I can't wait to see it. The mask looked right, the tone was right, Jamie Lee was super fired up. I'm super psyched about that footage and I can't wait to see the movie.

    • On-Set Interview: Bryce Dallas Howard On What To Expect From Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom!

      2 months ago

      ericvespe

      I've been lucky enough to have run into Bryce Dallas Howard many times over the years. I remember interviewing her at Comic-Con waaaaaaay back for Spider-Man 3. She's always been nothing but gracious, kind and a thoughtful interview.


      The first thing I noticed when I walked into her trailer were the tall adventurers boots she was wearing. Of course a crack had to be made about the meme of her running around the jungle wearing high heels in Jurassic World and she rolled with it, saying it was in her contract that she had to suitable footware this time out.


      Claire has evolved quite a bit from the cold, uncaring businesswoman at the start of Jurassic World. She begins Fallen Kingdom as a political advocate, passionately fighting for the rights of the dinosaurs to exist. She's trying to make some amends for the part she played in the disaster at the park in the last movie.


      Howard talks a bit about this turn for her character, where Claire goes in this film and what the future potentially holds for her. Plus I get to recommend one of my all-time favorite movie series to her, so keep your eyes peeled for that! Enjoy the chat!



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      Bryce Dallas Howard: Obviously I haven't been able to talk to anybody else about this movie! You guys know a lot about the movie now, right?


      Eric Vespe: We know a little bit. We certainly know a lot more than we did yesterday!


      Peter Sciretta: It sounds cool. I'm glad that they're returning to the island. I was afraid it was going to move directly into militarized dinos or something.


      Eric Vespe: I like the set up. It reminds me of Son of Kong. Back in the day King Kong was a huge success and they rushed out a sequel about them going back to Skull Island, but they do it because the island is sinking and they're trying to rescue the last Kong. Of course that doesn't go well...


      Bryce Dallas Howard: These things never do!


      Eric Vespe: But I like that premise here because of what it means for your character. In the first movie Claire goes from someone who is cold and disconnected to realizing the implications of what she's been doing. JA told us you start this movie as a dinosaur rights activist, which means Claire gets to start the movie from a proactive position.


      Bryce Dallas Howard: It is. And going back to speak to what you were saying about being glad that it's back on the island, I feel the same way. Having shot so much of the movie in England... On the last movie we started in the jungle. We shot all in the jungle and then we went to New Orleans. For this one, we shot so much of it (in England) and then came here and Chris and I were like “Yeah, now it feels like Jurassic. Thank God!”


      Without human beings entering into a space that is dinosaur turf it doesn't feel like the Jurassic experience. That's a lot of what this movie is about. Up to this point the entertainment value of these films is that the most dangerous thing is the dinosaur where the truth is it's really human beings that are the most dangerous species. Finally in this movie we're having that clash. We've been on their turf and now they're coming on ours and ours is becoming theirs and what does that mean? That's the question.


      What I'm talking about right now isn't actually the plot. I'm not tricking you, but from a thematic standpoint that's the movie. The wish-fulfillment of Jurassic is the question “What if human beings and dinosaurs coexisted simultaneously? What would happen?” There are various permutations of what could occur. That's what these stories are examining.


      Peter Sciretta: They told us this takes place 5 years after the last one. What has happened in your character's life in those five years?


      Bryce Dallas Howard: I keep thinking 3 (years), but anyway!


      Eric Vespe: We were told it's 5 years from the end of the first movie and three years from events of the prologue in this movie. Does that make any sense?


      Bryce Dallas Howard: I'm gonna ask some questions! What I'm imagining is that it's been roughly the same amount of time that audiences have been away from this story. It's like everything has been occurring in real time, basically. When we watch this movie it's as if it takes place in 2018.


      To speak to what you were saying regarding Claire and the way she's shifted, her internal self and her external self are starting to become one whereas in the last film her behavior, her actions were really out of alignment with her values. That was the inner conflict with the character and by the end of it her power is being used for good; her righteousness is being used for good. The very thing that was leading her astray is the very thing that saved Chris Pratt and two cowering children surrounded by stuffed animals!


      Where we are now, I think, is we're seeing a woman who is definitely stepping into her power. She's fighting for these dinosaurs. She's taking responsibility and trying to basically present the argument that there's lions in the world and there are dangerous species of snakes and sharks... there's all these dangerous creatures and yet if those creatures are threatened with an extinction level event we protect them. So, guys, we have an endangered species here. They're actually here. This is now reality.


      Eric Vespe: It doesn't matter that they were genetically created by man.


      Bryce Dallas Howard: Yes. They're afforded the same rights as any other endangered species. That's her point of view of the situation and this is her cause.


      Eric Vespe: We know there are some newcomers and you'll be with Chris again onscreen, but tell me how Claire reacts to Ian Malcolm.


      Bryce Dallas Howard: Oh my gosh. I have a real hard time separating my own personal reaction to Dr. Ian Malcolm from Claire's reaction.


      Eric Vespe: So you just keep seeing the shot of him with his shirt open from Jurassic Park?



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      Bryce Dallas Howard: Exactly! That glistening chest, black shirt and perfect golden tan. Totally bronzed. I know that shot vividly! I could probably guess the lens they were using, but anyway... (laughs) I met him a couple of years ago. I mean, I didn't meet him, I saw him across a crowd. I saw him and he was his charming self, but I never met him because he was across the crowd, but we had a connection from the start.


      Then I met him in the UK. I think that Claire would absolutely have the utmost respect for his approach and his logic and his certainty and confidence. He's also very tall and did I mention he's tan and I happen to know he also sings and plays music...


      Eric Vespe: And cooks!


      Bryce Dallas Howard: And cooks food. But where does Jeff Goldblum end and Dr. Ian Malcolm begin, really? Wouldn't it be so crazy if the twist of the movie is that Claire ended up with Dr. Ian Malcolm? Forget about the dinosaurs, people!


      Eric Vespe: Well, we know he's always on the lookout for the next ex-Mrs. Malcolm.


      Bryce Dallas Howard: Yes! Yes! Yes!


      Eric Vespe: And the ultimate arc of these films is seeing him get married and divorced over and over again.


      Bryce Dallas Howard: Yeah, who he goes through. That's the real journey. Oh my gosh, that would be really funny.


      Eric Vespe: But from a character perspective Claire in the first Jurassic World seemed to not have any nostalgia for the original park or the goings on there. I imagine she might have a different reaction to Malcolm then as she would now.


      Bryce Dallas Howard: He's a character who is the voice of reason. He's Michael Crichton, in a way. He's the philosopher. You're right, at the beginning she was disconnected, but now it's a different story. I've never actually thought about what Claire would think about him. That's interesting because she would have known about him. Ugh! I didn't do my homework!


      Peter Sciretta: So, what is the plan? The plan is to save the dinosaurs, but bring them where?


      Bryce Dallas Howard: I mean, that's part of the question. If you can imagine what you would do in real life, that's the dilemma. Where do you bring them? Do you put them in a zoo? Do you create a private sanctuary? Do you do this all over again with another island? What's the plan exactly?

      It's so weird the way art mirrors life. The challenge that we're having with emerging technologies and the consequences that we're needing to live with because of these paradigm-shifting technologies that are getting introduced. Figuring out policy about these technologies from a government perspective is almost impossible.


      Our government was designed to move slowly so that our lives didn't change abruptly, yet our lives are changing abruptly because of free trade and the open market is evolving so, so quickly. We are experiencing this moment where we are having to regulate ourselves, hence this Dr. Ian Malcolm being the voice of reason and representing, thematically, what this movie's about.


      Where do we bring the dinosaurs? You can imagine the government would get involved with something like that, but would they figure out what they're going to do quickly enough? If not, what do you do?


      There's a lot of activism happening right now to accelerate the solutions. Anyway, I'll step gently off my soap box... (laughs)


      Peter Sciretta: I do love that this film seems to be going back to the Michael Crichton style of having a political commentary, of saying something about us.


      Bryce Dallas Howard: Yeah, absolutely. He's like Isaac Asimov or HG Wells. He's a futurist. He was a scientist and he understood what was going to be happening in the future. He had an analytical mind that he used to help propel his imagination. He was one of those guys, one of those thought prophets.


      The moral questions of the first Jurassic Park provided a lot of substance, but those questions are really what we're dealing with presently that feels so urgent and so personal. To get to make a Jurassic film where at the center of it is Michael Crichton's philosophies so we can have that mirror moment, that's when movies get to do more than what movies typically get to do. A little bit. If we can. Because it can't be didactic.


      What Crichton did was he never pushed an agenda at all. He presented a dilemma. That's what sci-fi is! Sci-fi is all about “what if?” I don't have to tell you guys what sci-fi is... (laughs) But it's not about the answers, it's the questions.


      Eric Vespe: The genius of the initial concept of Jurassic Park is... I want to go there! I'm on the side of the people making the park because I want to see a T-Rex. When you're reading it you realize “Ahh, I'm kind of the bad guy for wanting this...” There's a level to complexity to that initial idea and it sounds like you guys are expanding on it.


      Bryce Dallas Howard: Yeah, it is the dilemma. If something can be a little bit thought-provoking and a lot of fun then even that's enough. It's when things don't have a point of view (they fail.)


      Peter Sciretta: What is Claire's relationship now with Owen?


      Bryce Dallas Howard: That's... that's... that's a question, for sure.


      Peter Sciretta: We've been told that one of them moved on and one of them didn't.


      Bryce Dallas Howard: Okay.


      Peter Sciretta: Which one moved on?


      Bryce Dallas Howard: You know what? That's a question that they ask one another. (laughs) You guys will know what that means when you see the movie! It's based on an improv that Chris and I had in a room early on.


      In the trailer this morning I announced to the trailer “I'm going to start a Google Doc and if you guys have any ideas for the next movie, if there is one, fingers crossed, let me know, no matter how wild.” My makeup artist was like “You know what? You know what I really miss? Like I Love Lucy and the dynamic between Ricky and Lucy and how you would never think that they belong together, but they have each others back no matter what. The circumstances, the comedy, comes not from a lack of understanding, but from a lack of ability to communicate initially.” She said this and I was like “I'm putting it in the Google Doc.”


      There's something about the dynamic between these characters that both plays into and against the tropes of movie relationships. It's always fun to think about that. Chris and I were talking through what kind of parents Claire and Owen would be and that lead us to talk about what kind of parents we are, are we helicopter parents or not, the ways in which we could be better and blah-blah-blah.


      I was thinking later on, “You know what? I feel like Owen would be the helicopter parent and Claire would be chill and cool and be like you need to let them be what they're going to be.” That would show the evolution of Claire. It's fun to consider those things and have room for those things. You set up the trope and then you play against it. You set up the trope and then I'm with a flare outrunning a T-Rex while he's cowering with children. I like to mention that every once in a while, at least three times in every interview. (laughs)


      Eric Vespe: Can I give you a suggestion for your Google Doc? My favorite movie husband and wife of all time: Nick and Nora Charles in the Thin Man series. Myrna Loy and William Powell are the leads and they're an upperclass husband and wife duo who decide being rich isn't enough and they decide to solve murders on the side. To make it even better they're both drunkards.



      wink.jpg



      Bryce Dallas Howard: That's so cool!


      Eric Vespe: They love each other through and through, but toss out barbs at each other all the time.


      Bryce Dallas Howard: Oh, dude, thank you so much! That's what we were talking about this morning! Someone else mentioned Castle and someone else mentioned Sherlock Holmes and Watson. It's so great when it gets to the point where's it's about partnership.


      This is interesting. In this movie, for Owen and Claire it is about partnership. We've talked about it a lot because that's what Chris and I feel like with one another. We always say “We make a good movie team!”


      JA and Belen (Atienza), his producing partner, are an incredible team. This story of what it takes to be a team and what it takes to become partners is encapsulated somewhat in the defying of the gender tropes.


      Eric Vespe: It'd probably be good to talk about JA since he's the main new ingredient here. We know that he likes to play music. He told us there was a specific scene where there was no dialogue and you were looking at something and he played three different pieces of music: a romantic one, a scary one and a funny one and he said you ended up playing it three different ways.


      Bryce Dallas Howard: I'm shocked that I've never thought of or experienced doing that before. Joe Wright plays music on set, but it's more for levity between scenes. JA doing that changes everything instantly. This whole generation of actors came up as cinephiles. That's why we love making movies because we're obsessed with movies, so for him to play these classic scores and different kinds of music just instantly gets you into that headspace and you understand what the scene's about.


      Also, we're working with a young actress... this is her first movie. She's naturally very gifted and extremely cerebral, so she's fantastic, but the music helps her just as much as it helps us. The premise of it was he was like “I'll do it for Izzy because it help her,” and Chris and I were like “Oh my God, this is amazing!”


      Something about JA that is crazy... we met each other years and years and years ago. We had a general meeting that was for a movie he didn't end up directing, that I didn't end up acting in, but he was attached as a director and we had this meeting at the Chateau that turned into this two-hour dinner and I just fell in love.


      Peter Sciretta: He's so charming!


      Bryce Dallas Howard: Oh my gosh! He's so charming and passionate and adorable. When the movie didn't happen, I honestly and kind of jokingly referred to him as “The One Who Got Away.” To all my friends! Like “The one who got away did another amazing movie without me!”


      When Colin (Trevorrow) was sharing with Chris and I who were the frontrunners he was hoping to work with and he mentioned JA I was like (gasp) “Dude, he was the one that got away!” He was like “You had a relationship with him?” “No, no, no.”


      I love Colin so-so-so-so much and it was such an incredible experience working with him and I was super bummed he wasn't going to be directing this movie, so it was really crazy to me that he mentioned JA who was literally the person I've been joking about for 10 years as the one that got away.



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      That's it for this one. Still more Jurassic World goodies to go! A young fella by the name of Chris Pratt will be tomorrow. I began the interview by gifting him a limited edition back of Guardians of the Galaxy Doritos, so you know he was in a good mood for that chat.

    • Han Meets Lando In Footage Shown At CinemaCon

      2 months ago

      ericvespe

      Today was a big day at CinemaCon. STX, Warner Bros and Disney all had their big panels and since we're so close to release of Solo: A Star Wars Story they actually treated us to a nice, juicy full sequence from the latest Star Wars movie.


      The scene had Emilia Clarke's Qi'Ra leading Alden Ehrenreich's Young Han Solo through some dingy gambling den to meet some mystery person, who is said to have slipped through the Empire's fingers more than just about anyone else. He has a ship they need for whatever they're up to. Star Wars fans know what's coming up.


      They pass a ring in the center of the smoke and alien-filled hive of scum and villainy where beat up droids are murdering the shit out of each other and then they get to the high stakes table where, yes, Mr. Lando Calrissian is playing some Sabacc with a bunch of scoundrels.


      Han walks up and the angle is low, catching his trademark DL-44 blaster at his hip, his legs framing Lando for this iconic moment of two charming rogues meeting each other for the first time.



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      Donald Glover as Lando is everything you want it to be. He's so at ease in this role and naturally charming. It's like he was meant to be Billy Dee Williams' heir. He has some line as Han walks up where he's talking to one of the aliens at the table and it was something like “There are no liars in this game, just players.” Simple line, but the way he delivered it felt so authentically Lando that I was instantly won over.


      Ehrenreich as Solo I'm still iffy on. He's got the charm factor and the swagger, but something felt a little forced about it. I'm not sure if I'll feel the same way seeing his character in the context of the full movie, but he didn't feel as natural a fit to me as Glover did playing Lando.


      They have a great interaction to start. Han: “Is this seat taken?” “If the seat's empty, it's not taken, friend.” Han introduces himself, Lando returns the favor.


      Han wins his first hand of Sabacc (“Beginner's luck,” he says)... the game seemed to be played like poker, where there were rounds of betting before revealing your hand. Lando wins the next one and a conversation develops about their ships... Han's laying the groundwork for a big bet where he bets his ship (whether it exists or not) against Lando's, which we know is going to be the Millennium Falcon.


      That moment eventually comes, but not before Lando needles Solo a little bit, calling him “Han,” not “Hawn.” Han corrects him. Lando repeats his mispronunciation and that made my inner geek stand up and clap a little bit. I wondered if they were going to address that since Billy Dee's Lando always mispronounced Han's name in The Empire Strikes Back. Now there's a character reason for it.



      solo_ew_han_1_ed4568fc.0.jpeg



      So, the big bet comes and Lando puts his ship on the line and then... I don't know. The footage cuts off.


      If I'm a betting man I'd say they did that for a reason. Han will win the Falcon from Lando, but I have a feeling this is a case where they're going to throw a twist on your expectation. Or they don't and I'm wrong, which happens all the time. But something in my gut is whispering that there's going to be something more to this scene.


      I'm a little bit of a tougher sell on these spin-off movies than most. I love a lot of the detail of Rogue One, but I couldn't shake the fan-fiction feeling I got from the movie. This Solo footage was fun, had great, colorful Star Wars-y feeling sets, wardrobe, aliens and characters, but I got some of that same vibe here.


      That's not necessarily a bad thing. People loved that feeling in Rogue One, just like people ate up the EU books. It's filling a niche and I can't begrudge those fans.


      For my part, it looked fun. If that's all the movie is I'll be happy. I just want it to be fun.


      Make sure to keep an eye out for more CinemaCon coverage as this crazy fest goes on!

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