Although only 15 years old, Constantine is already aging well. The adaptation of the Hellblazer comic continues to find more fans and doesn’t date in the special effects department like so many early and mid-2000s movies already have. There’s no hard rock, pop culture references, or even outdated tech that could age the movie. Director Francis Lawrence created a world of his own in his noir-ish, sometimes hellish vision of Los Angeles.

When Constantine was released in 2005, it wasn’t as well-regard as it is today. Perhaps after years of watching frequently interchangeable comic book movies, Lawrence’s idiosyncratic addition to the genre plays better today. Whatever the reason, Lawrence is pleased Constantine continues to entertain, especially after a slightly disappointing box-office performance and lukewarm reception from critics.

Before directing Constantine, Lawrence was an in-demand music video director. He helmed music videos for Jay-Z, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and even his I Am Legend star, Will Smith. The list is long. Initially, Keanu Reeves wasn’t interested in a music video director making Constantine, which is one of the many stories Lawrence told us when looking back at his directorial debut (now celebrating its 15th anniversary).

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the sandman james mcavoy

Taking on the role of Morpheus in The Sandman is a daunting task for any actor. It’s not just because the character has never been seen beyond the comic book page before, nor because it’s hard for any human actor to try to put themselves into the role of an immortal, anthropomorphic personification of Dreams. For James McAvoy, who plays the lead character in the Sandman audio drama for Audible, it was particularly difficult to play a character who was so inhuman and so silent — two very difficult elements to convey across the medium of audio. But McAvoy was up for the challenge, and up for the honor of being the first actor to ever portray Morpheus in an adaptation.

“Personally what I love about Gaiman’s writing [is not only] the strange fantastical worlds, but actually characters that you can identify with,” McAvoy said in a roundtable press conference over the phone ahead of the release of The Sandman audio drama. “Even if they are the lords of the Dream Realm and they’re not strictly human, there’s just something that compels you and brings you into them.”

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the sandman audio drama

It seemed like an adaptation of The Sandman was trapped in development hell for nearly as long as the titular personification of Dream was imprisoned by his captors in Neil Gaiman‘s acclaimed graphic novel series (okay, that was 70 years, but the point still stands). Multiple attempts have been made to bring Gaiman’s weird, fantastical world to the big screen, with Warner Bros. periodically planning adaptations throughout the ’90s, and writers like Roger Avary, David S. Goyer, Jack Thorne, and Eric Heisserer coming and going, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt at one point set to take on the role of Morpheus. But all those attempts had fallen through, until it seemed like The Sandman was doomed to “unadaptable” status, like so many others.

Then, along came a new decade and we have not one, but two Sandman adaptations on their way. But curiously, the first-ever adaptation of The Sandman wouldn’t be a screen adaptation as fans had long expected, but an audio drama adaptation on Audible directed by renowned audio director, and frequent Gaiman collaborator, Dirk Maggs.

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the sandman audio drama

The Sandman was a groundbreaking comic book series when Neil Gaiman‘s surreal and disturbing saga of the adventures of the anthropomorphic personification of Dream launched in 1989. A horror-fantasy series that reimagined the mythical character from folklore as a pale, moody figure with a shock of black hair, The Sandman was one of the most visually arresting comics out there, and remains so to this day. So how do you take such a visually striking story and turn it into an audio drama?

By going back to the source.

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The Old Guard Trilogy

Not all comic book properties are created entirely equal. First published in 2017, the highly popular Image comic series The Old Guard concerns a small group of immortal warriors who live in secret, only surfacing for missions that promise large sums of money—and usually they have to be able to morally justify the mission (which typically involves killing, although they aren’t strictly assassins). Although they have lived off the radar for hundreds—perhaps thousands—of years with no explanation given as to why they are immortal, in the 21st century, it’s pretty much impossible to disappear and stay hidden. So their existence, abilities and purpose are catching the attention of those who not only wish to hire them but also those who want to exploit them.

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Jake Kasdan, once known exclusively as a comedy director, is now playing in the big leagues. With just the right amount of nostalgia and newness, Kasdan turned Jumanji into one of the biggest modern franchises around. While the large scale and effects were initially new to him, he’s now growing comfortable working at that level.

Kasdan made his directorial debut with a sharp ’90s noir with a killer Bill Pullman performance, Zero Effect. It features a Pullman performance deserving of more love in this world. Kasdan followed his directorial debut with Orange CountyThe TV Set, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. During our phone interview with Kasdan, we recently talked about how Walk Hard has changed the biopics forever, how he’s grown as a filmmaker making the Jumanji movies, and the unfortunate state of the world at the moment.

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1917 featurette new

The “hidden man” is how editor Lee Smith sees himself in 1917. Not for a second did Smith want audiences paying attention to his cuts or tricks, but to instead immerse themselves in director Sam Mendes‘ World War I story, which is constructed to take place in one seemingly unbroken take. Despite the obvious technical wizardry and razzle-dazzle, they pulled it off. Audiences were caught up in the feeling and exhilaration of 1917, not the craft of 1917.

The war pic isn’t the first time Smith and Mendes collaborated. The two worked together on Spectre, which involved a long take that gave the editor and filmmaker some ideas of how to accomplish 1917. Outside of Smith’s collaborations with Mendes, he’s edited several Christopher Nolan films, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, and an underrated gem from the early 2000s, Buffalo Soldiers.

Recently, Smith spoke to us about his intense work on 1917, a few of the movie’s standout sequences, and doing what hasn’t been done before.

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Creature and Special Make-up Effects Creative Supervisor Neal Scanlan began his career working on films such as Walt Disney’s Return to Oz, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth and the 1986 Oscar-nominated Little Shop of Horrors. A founding member of the Jim Henson Creature Shop, Neal was involved in projects such as WitchesBabe (for which he won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects), 101 DalmatiansThe English Patient, and more.

In 2011, Scanlan was asked to head up the Creature and Make-Up FX department for the new series of Star Wars movies. He has worked on every film of the Disney era: The Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Last Jedi, Solo, and the final episode of the nine-part Skywalker Saga, The Rise of Skywalker.

With The Rise of Skywalker now available on Digital HD and hitting 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on March 31st, I recently got the chance to speak to Scanlan about his work on the film. He discussed the process of creating creatures for the saga, the origins of Babu Frik, and some tantalizing details on a character we didn’t see: The Eye of Webbish Bog.

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the rise of skywalker deleted scene

Based on various reports – and the official novelization – it’s clear that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker underwent some big changes before it ever hit the big screen. One such change was the removal of a sequence where Kylo Ren visits a creature to learn the location of Darth Vader’s Sith wayfinder. According to Star Wars creature designer Neal Scanlan, the creature – dubbed The Eye of Webbish Bog – was actually built, and the scene was shot.

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Birds of Prey - Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie colored smoke

On the February 4, 2020 episode of /Film Daily, /Film senior writer Ben Pearson is joined by /Film writer Hoai-Tran Bui to discuss the latest film and TV news, including the favorite to win Best Picture at the Oscars, Chris Pratt returning to television, AppleTV+ and Disney+ subscription numbers, and Chris Rock’s Saw reboot getting a title. And in our Feature Presentation, HT will tell us about her experience at the London premiere and junket for WB’s Birds of Prey. Read More »