First Image of Angelina Jolie as ‘Maleficent’

Disney’s live-action exploration of the hidden life of Sleeping Beauty villain Maleficent has been on the docket for some time, but it seemed like a film that might never get made. That changed when Angelina Jolie‘s schedule opened up and she committed to the role in a serious way. (Thank her kids for that commitment, or don’t, depending on how you feel about the film.) Robert Stromberg is directing, and the film is under way now at Pinewood studios in London. (They were setting up when I was there to see some of Skyfall, but we couldn’t catch a glimpse of anything special.)

Now we’ve got the first image of Jolie in costume as the evil character, and a few new details thanks to a press release from Disney. Read More »

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Juno Temple Boards Disney’s ‘Maleficent’

As the pieces fall into place for a summer start, Disney’s Maleficent is rounding out its cast with one more talented Brit actor. Juno Temple has just boarded the live-action project, which retells the classic Sleeping Beauty fairy tale from the perspective of its villainess (played by Angelina Jolie). Sharlto Copley and Elle Fanning also have key roles. Hit the jump for further details.

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Though Maleficent‘s three leads hail from the States (Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning) and South Africa (Sharlto Copley), the Disney production is looking to the U.K. to fill up much of its cast list. American India Eisley and Brits Imelda Staunton, Miranda Richardson, Lesley Manville, Kenneth Cranham, and Sam Riley have all just boarded the Robert Stromberg-directed live-action film, which retells the classic Sleeping Beauty tale from the perspective of its villain. The descriptions of their roles also happen to offer quite a few more clues about the movie’s plotline, so hit the jump for more details.

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After years of development projects trying to get a movie about Alfred Hitchcock on the screen, two are coming close to fruition. The first is Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, based on Stephen Rebello‘s book of the same title. (Rebello co-scripted with Black Swan writer John McLaughlin.) The film has had Anthony Hopkins set to play Hitch for a while, and just moved from Paramount to Fox Searchlight. And now Helen Mirren will likely play Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville.

Sacha Gervasi (Anvil! The Story of Anvil) is directing this one, the subject of which should be pretty evident from the title, and THR says that this deal is still in early stages, but the film hopes to shoot in April.

After the break, part of the creation of The Birds will hit HBO and the BBC. Read More »

Aardman Animation’s Arthur Christmas opens with a scene that suggests it is not your parents’ holiday movie. In response to one little girl’s query about how Santa manages to deliver all of those gifts around the world in just one night, we’re treated to a thrilling sequence of hundreds of elves jumping out of a giant sleigh-shaped spaceship and delivering the gifts with a high-tech precision that wouldn’t be out of place in a futuristic action thriller.

Spearheading that massive operation is alpha-male Steve (Hugh Laurie), heir apparent to the cushy Santa position currently held by his father Malcolm (Jim Broadbent). Steve and Malcolm, it turns out, are just two members of a long line of Santas that stretch back centuries and also includes Malcolm’s father (Bill Nighy) “Grandsanta,” and Steve’s younger brother Arthur (James McAvoy).

But holiday movies are a decidedly traditional genre, and Arthur Christmas quickly falls into the familiar themes about the magic of Christmas and finding your place in the world and whatnot. Happily, it does so with enough wit and enough feeling to be a cut above some of the more cynical entries in the genre, though it’s not on the level of the best holiday classics.

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You’d be forgiven for suffering from pirate fatigue after this year’s lackluster fourth entry in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but these delightful trailers for Aardman Animation’s The Pirates! Band of Misfits prove there’s still plenty of fun to be found on the high seas.

Directed by Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt, the stop motion adventure follows an eager but misguided Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) as he competes for the Pirate of the Year Award — because, as he explains, “Every time I’ve entered, I’ve failed to win. So, I must have a really good chance this time.” Along the way, he and his similarly off-kilter crew (Martin Freeman, Brendan Gleeson, Russell ToveyAshley Jensen, and a fish with a hat on it) encounter all manner of strange characters including lepers, stuffy scientists, an evil queen (Imelda Staunton), and at least one monkey butler. Watch the trailer after the jump.

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‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ UK Trailer #2

Can you resist the grinning appeal of a new claymation animated film from Aardman Animation? I’m not certain that I can, if the first trailer for The Pirates! Band of Misfits is any indication. The film adapts Gideon Defoe‘s book The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists — a loopy tale of high-seas misadventure and scientfic discovery — with a vocal cast that includesHugh Grant, Martin Freeman, David Tennant, Imelda Staunton, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Brian Blessed, Brendan Gleeson, Russell Tovey, and Ashley Jensen.

Here’s a new UK trailer for the film, which bears the original subtitle ‘In an Adventure With Scientists,’ and pushes the overall story structure more than the last US trailer, but keeps the levels of charm and appeal as high as the crow’s nest. Read More »

Aardman Animation doesn’t just have the CGI holiday film Arthur Christmas to release in the next year. The company also has the stop-motion The Pirates! Band of Misfits, based in part on Gideon Defoe‘s book The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists. The cast was announced not long ago, and is a thing of beauty: Hugh ‘News of the World Killer’ Grant, Martin Freeman, David Tennant, Imelda Staunton, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Brian Blessed, Brendan Gleeson, Russell Tovey, and Ashley Jensen.

The trailer for the film hit today, and if you are (a) dissatisfied with the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, (b) hungry for anything new from Aardman, (c) ready to see a weirdly appropriate use of a Ramones song in a kids’ pirate movie, or (d) all of the above, check it out after the break. Read More »

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