Selfless (DVD): Review

Film

Self/less at its core look at human nature, our fear of death, and ways in which we wish we could cheat that. When dying real estate mogul Damian (Ben Kingsley) transfers his conciousness to a healthy young body (Ryan Reynolds), he soon finds that neither the procedure nor the company are quite what they seem.

While the premise for the story lies in science fiction, the story is still one that is easy enough to understand. No overly complex science or medical terms, just a plain and simple look at life choices, doing what is right, and showing us where greed leads us.

As the younger version of Damian begins to unravel the story, uncover the lies, and as he is forced to take a look at his own life over the years, we are treated to a mix of action and drama, presented to us by a talented cast.

The film eschews big effects for real world locations, grounded in reality, keeping the action real and focussed on story. Selfless if an enjoyable story, and  a fun escape, presented in style, with a talented cast.

Disc And Bonus Features

Self/Less is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a high average bitrate, with no visible artefacts on screen. The image is stable, and if so desired can be scaled up to a larger or higher resolution screen if the viewer has the relevant hardware or software.

Audio

Sound is presented as a 5.1 track, and is clear and crisp. Several of the more action oriented scenes do make good use of the surround channels, expanding the on-screen action, and further drawing the viewer into the story.

Navigation

Navigation is simple, yet easy to understand, with static images for the menu backgrounds.

Bonus

There are no bonus features on the DVD, save for a few trailers for forthcoming attractions at the beginning of the disc.

Mr Holmes (DVD): Review

Film

Time has passed, and super sleuth Sherlock Holmes is now retired. Suffering from early dementia, he now finds himself trying to recall his final case, and the mysterious woman who haunts his thoughts. Are these related, and can he solve this mystery before time finally runs out?

Now living out in the country, Mr. Holmes befriends the young son of his housekeeper, sharing case files and stories with the boy. It is not long before the boy (Roger, played by up and coming talent Milo Parker) urges the detective to solve this final mystery.

Mr. Holmes plays out two stories, running in parrallel, yet juxtaposed. We see the ailing Holmes in his later years, a far cry from the once great and world renowned sleuth. And a view into the past, where we see him at his prime; quick thinking, wise and full of success.

The storyline covering the older Holmes plays out as a sort of introspective, as our hero laments his past and the one case that tripped him up. He examines life and passes these lessons on the young Roger, seeing the enthusiasm of youth in the boy, and perhaps a way to pass on his legacy to the world.

Seeing this great character that we all know so well, in just a sore and sad state, is quite disheartening. It bids on to look at ones own life, and ponder the thought “would we have one nagging question still remaining, at the end of our journey in life?”.

On the other story thread, we see the man so many aspire to be, in control of his own destiny, and respected the world over.

With these two opposing views of a man’s life, Mr. Holmes makes for rather interesting viewing. A plot that is not overshadowed by unnecessary complexities, yet keeps one riveted until the very end. This, of course made all the more enjoyable by the talented cast, and excellent settings of the film.

A mystery from a by gone error, brought to life and championed by one of the best detective characters ever. Mr. Holmes is certainly one that will, without a doubt, be enjoyed by all.

 

Disc And Bonus Features

Mr. Holmes is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a high average bitrate. There are no visible artefacts on screen, and viewers with the appropriate hardware or software can scale up to a higher resolution or screen size, if desired.

Colours are vibrant (especially when in some of the locations where there is a lot of grass and plant life).

Audio

Audio is presented in a 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack, and while this does expand the onscreen environment and further draw the viewer into the story, the nature of the story does not lend itself to much use of the surround channels.

Navigation

The menu is static, and simple, yet easy to use. Text is clear and easy to read.

Bonus

There are unfortunately no bonus features on the disc, apart from a few trailers at the beginning for upcoming disc releases.

Black Sea (DVD): Review

Film

After being let go from his job as crew member on a submarine, Captain Robinson (Jude Law) takes on a job with a shady investor. Together with a mixed American and Russian crew, they will search the depths of the Black Sea for a sunken U B0at from the Nazis containing a large haul of gold.

Black Sea has equal doses of tension, and adventure. The claustrophobic environment of a submarine is captured well with the films sets, and further emphasised when there is a split of loyalties in the crew.

As we are witness to the parley of the crew, schemes are hatched. The less crew left at the end of the voyage, the more gold there shall be to go round, and greed is an ugly monster that soon begins to rear it’s head, not just between old foes of the cold war, but between those whom were once friends.

With a simple yet unpredictable plot, Black Sea is bound to thrill anyone seeking the thrill of a small time adventure. Well cast and directed, the film is one of those with which to while away an afternoon. A story of relationships in the cruellest of conditions, opposing greed, and a struggle to survive. Black Sea is a thrill ride.

Disc And Bonus Features

Black Sea is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

The disc is encoded at a high bitrate, with no visible artefacts on screen. Viewers with the correct hardware or software could scale the picture up to a larger or higher resolution screen, if so desired. Colours are vibrant, and blacks solid.

Audio

Audio is presented in a 5.1 soundtrack, and makes ample use of the surround channels. This enhances the on-screen action, and helps to further submerse the viewer in the events of the film.

Navigation

Navigation is static, and simple, yet functional. The menu text is easy to read.

Bonus

There are no bonus features on the disc, other than a few trailers at the beginning.

International Meisner Training For SA Actors

RayTWilliamsMeisnerBanner

South African actor Vanessa Zachos and the PopArt Centre for Performing Arts are proud to present a Meisner Technique Intensive workshop with Raymond T. Williams (Actor and teacher at James Franco’s New York Studio 4) in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Raymond is a working actor and a teacher at James Franco’s acting school in New York, Studio 4 and brings a wealth of experience to South Africa. He studied and performed for eight years under Jeff Goldblum and as an actor has worked with Academy winners such as Halle Berry in Their Eyes Were Watching God, Monique in Phat Girlz and on numerous films with Actor/Director James Franco (Sal, The Long Home, The Aderall Diaries). He has also directed a film at Studio4.

Actors will learn to work in the moment from their own impulses and feelings and how to connect fully to the other actors in a scene by learning to work off what the other actor does. Raymond will explain the basis for emotional preparation and a complete improvisationbased
approach to scene work with basic script analysis. Actors will touch
on the deeper creative and interpretive elements of acting. Characterization, script analysis and many other advanced acting issues can be discussed.

Career advice and audition technique can be booked complimentary with SA actor Vanessa Zachos. Vanessa has extensive experience in the British film industry working with directors. As an actor she has worked with Academy and Bafta winning directors, Ron Howard in Rush and J. J. Abrams in Fringe and with leading actors Chris Hemsworth, Anna Torv and Colin Salmon.

The aim of this intensive workshop is to give local actors access to an international level of training in order to help bridge the skills gap in South Africa. PopArt and Vanessa aim to offer regular training possibilities in the future.

Johannesburg workshop venue: PopArt Theatre in Maboneng Precinct.
Date: Saturday 27th February 2016 Time: 9am 6pm. Cost: R1800.00 (Minimum 8 hours of Meisner training).

Cape Town workshop venue: The Alexander Bar Upstairs Theatre in association with PopUpstairs. Dates: Tuesday 1st March and Wednesday 2nd March 2016 Times:1pm 5pm. Cost is R1800.00 (Minimum 8 hours of
Meisner training). All levels will be catered for. The workshops are also suitable for Directors and Writers.

For more details and to keep track of the times of the workshops please connect on Facebook:
www.facebook.com/events/539467362876426/

Johannesburg Workshop: Book online, or email at popartjhb@gmail.com for EFT details:
popartcentre.co.za/performingartscentre/upcomingworkshops/
Cape Town Workshop: Book Online alexanderbar.co.za/showsupstairs/

More details on the tutors and venues:
Raymond T Williams : www.imdb.com/name/nm0931507/
Studio 4 : phwstudio4.com/nyc/staff/raymondwilliams/
Vanessa Zachos : www.imdb.com/name/nm2292071/
Johannesburg: PopArt Theatre: popartcentre.co.za/
Cape Town: Alexander Bar Upstairs/ PopUpstairs: alexanderbar.co.za/showsupstairs/

Email for workshop enquiries: popartjhb@gmail.com

About Meisner:

Meisner developed this technique after working with Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler at the Group Theatre and while working as head of the acting program at New York City’s Neighborhood Playhouse. He continued its refinement for fifty years. In 1935, Sanford Meisner, one of the founding members of The Group Theatre (along with Stella Adler, Bobby Lewis, Harold Clurman, and Lee Strasberg), joined the faculty of The Neighborhood Playhouse. Over the years, he developed and refined what is now known as the Meisner Technique, a stepbystep procedure of selfinvestigation for the actor now globally recognized and among the foremost of modern acting techniques.Meisner believed that the
study of the actor’s craft was rooted in acquiring a solid organic acting technique. It was a cornerstone of his teaching that this learning process occur not in a theoretical, abstract manner, but in the practical give and take of the classroom, where as he once said, “the students struggled to learn what I struggled to teach.” Through that struggle the gifted student, over time gradually begins to emerge solidly in his or her work.

Producers Guild Award Winners 2016

January 23rd saw the Producers Guild of America (PGA) announce this year’s winning motion picture, television, and new media productions at the 27th Annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

The Jerry Seinfeld-created web series, “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” won the Producers Guild Award for Outstanding Digital Series for the second year in a row.

The television program “Game of Thrones” (Season 5) and its producers David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Bernadette Caulfield, Frank Doelger, Carolyn Strauss, Bryan Cogman, Lisa McAtackney, Chris Newman, and Greg Spence won the Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama.

Closing the evening, the film THE BIG SHORT and its producers Brad Pitt & Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner won the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures.  This category is one of the most eagerly-anticipated of season, as it is widely considered a strong prognosticator for the Best Picture Oscar®.

In addition to its competitive awards, the PGA presented special honors to Jim Gianopulos with the Milestone Award; producer David Heyman with the David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures; Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) with the Visionary Vanguard Award, accepted by Lynwen Brennan and John Knoll; and producer Shonda Rhimes with the Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television. The Stanley Kramer Award was presented to the feature documentary, THE HUNTING GROUND, accepted by producer Amy Ziering, which included a special performance by Lady Gaga who sang “Til It Happens To You” her Oscar®-nominated song written for the film by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga.

Theatrical Motion Picture Winners

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures:

The Big Short
Producers: Brad Pitt & Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:

Inside Out
Producer: Jonas Rivera

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures:

Amy
Producer: James Gay-Rees

Television Winners

The David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television:

Fargo (Season 2)
Producers: Noah Hawley, John Cameron, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Warren Littlefield, Kim Todd

The Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama:

Game of Thrones (Season 5)
Producers: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Bernadette Caulfield, Frank Doelger, Carolyn Strauss, Bryan Cogman, Lisa McAtackney, Chris Newman, Greg Spence

The Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Comedy:

Transparent (Season 1)
Producers: Jill Soloway, Andrea Sperling, Victor Hsu, Nisha Ganatra, Rick Rosenthal, Bridget Bedard

Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television:

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (Season 1)
Producers: Marc Smerling, Andrew Jarecki, Jason Blum

Outstanding Producer of Competition Television:

The Voice (Seasons 7 and 8)
Producers: Audrey Morrissey, Mark Burnett, John de Mol, Marc Jansen, Lee Metzger, Chad Hines, Jim Roush, Kyra Thompson, Mike Yurchuk, Amanda Zucker, Carson Daly

Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment & Talk Television:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Season 2)
Producers: Tim Carvell, John Oliver, Liz Stanton

Outstanding Sports Program:

Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel

Outstanding Children’s Program:

Sesame Street

Outstanding Digital Series:

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Q&A With John Boyega Of Star Wars

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Star Wars saga begin a long, long time ago, way back in 1977. And now the eighth (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)  instalment of the popular film franchise, set three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire in Return of the Jedi, is currently in cinemas worldwide, breaking so many box office records.

Now, a new threat arises, and the Resistance and a small band of heroes are the only one who can stop them. The First Order is certainly a malevolent force to be reckoned with.

John Boyega – Finn

JohnBoyegaFinnStarWarsBorn in London, England, actor John Boyega plays Finn, a former Stormtrooper (designation FN-2187). He is trying to give up his connection to the First Order and soon finds himself in the midst of the battle between good and evil, as he meets up with the films heroes.

Q: Please introduce yourself and who you play.

A: Hello, I’m John Boyega and I play Finn.

Q: Tell us about the audition process.

A: I got a call about the auditions for “Star Wars” and my agent told me that J.J. Abrams wanted to meet with me and wanted to put me on tape for the role. I didn’t know what part I was going up for and I hadn’t read the script obviously, so I took a train into Central London, met J.J., spoke about the role, and then did the scenes. It was two scenes; I practiced it a few times, and then we put in on tape. It was quite the experience because it was nerve-wracking knowing that it was “Star Wars” but not knowing the specifics of the part. After that it was recall after recall, then a screen test in which Chewbacca came, which was exciting. Then I got the call saying that I got the part, and that was after seven months of extreme auditioning.

Q: Do you remember the moment when you were actually told that you got the part?

A: Prior to getting the part, I had been at a premiere at another film I had done, and my mind was definitely more fixated on whether I’d receive the part or not. I remember being on the red carpet and it had leaked that I was up for the “Star Wars” part. So, there were various media outlets asking if I was up for “Star Wars.” I was like, “I haven’t heard anything, but if J.J. Abrams wants me to be in ‘Star Wars’ that would be amazing.” The next day, I get an e-mail from J.J. asking where I was. I told him I was at home and he asked if I could get to a little cafe in Mayfair. I hopped in a cab, drove down, and saw J.J. in the cafe by himself, drinking a cup of tea. We had a brief conversation and he asked me whether I was ready, if this role could possibly happen. He asked me if would be interested in working out and training, both as an actor and physically. He asked me if I realized how big the responsibility would be. I was like, “Yeah, I’ll be fine. I’ll do anything.” Then he told me I was the new star in “Star Wars.” Everything stopped. I noticed everything. I noticed how many sugar cubes were in this little cup on the table. All the time it was going through my head: “He just said I’m the new star in ‘Star Wars.’” I was willing myself to breathe. Then J.J. raised a cup of water and said, “Congratulations.”

I was ecstatic. It was probably the happiest day of my life. I walked all around London just in dream land. This felt different. I’ve received calls for roles that I fought for before, but this not only felt like a triumph for me as an actor, but a day that felt like a day that I was a part of history and that just made me really, really happy.

Q: How long was it before the table read that you knew you got the role?

A: I was told I had the role about one week before the read through. We were told to keep quiet; we couldn’t tell any family or friends. No one knew about it. Obviously, there was no press release and it was really hard just going through normal life without saying that I was cast in “Star Wars”! But I was really excited that the picture came out with all of us at the read through. It was really historical. It was amazing. I didn’t even tell my Mum or Dad! They found out the day of the read through because I was told specifically to keep it quiet.

April 29th, Pinewood Studios, UK – Writer/Director/Producer J.J. Abrams (top center right) at the cast read-through of Star Wars: Episode VII at Pinewood Studios with (clockwise from right) Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Producer Bryan Burk, Lucasfilm President and Producer Kathleen Kennedy, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Writer Lawrence Kasdan. Ph: David James © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved
April 29th, Pinewood Studios, UK – Writer/Director/Producer J.J. Abrams (top center right) at the cast read-through of Star Wars: Episode VII at Pinewood Studios with (clockwise from right) Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Producer Bryan Burk, Lucasfilm President and Producer Kathleen Kennedy, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Writer Lawrence Kasdan.
Ph: David James
© Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved

Q: Were you a “Star Wars” fan?

A: I was born in 1992, so I grew up on the prequels, and then my dad told me that I should go back and watch the originals also because that rounds up the whole Anakin and Luke Skywalker story. So I did go back and watch the originals and thought they were amazing. Every actor captured our imaginations and it was definitely an artistic influence for actors, directors, and everybody in the entertainment field from visual effects to everybody that makes the magic happen. “Star Wars” has definitely been a part of my Sci-fi nerd, geek side. I’m a big comic book reader and it’s part of that universe. Now I’m in it. It’s crazy!

Q: Who were your favorite characters?

A: Han Solo and Chewbacca. I’m a big R2-D2 fan, too. Now we’ve got our new BB-8 who’s probably like the young, upcoming R2-D2. But the whole universe is just amazing to me. The whole narrative and the character arcs really just fit together. George Lucas did a good job.

Q: Do you have a favorite “Star Wars” film?

A: “Return of the Jedi” is my favorite film because you find Luke Skywalker at a very vulnerable time. In the first film he was learning who he is and learning about this special world that’s out there that he never knew about. “Return of the Jedi” is a great mix of drama, comedy, and somewhat expands the universe in terms of the Ewoks and other creatures that you find in the movie. It’s my favorite because it’s the establishment of each character at a different point in their lives. You see the whole story from a different point of view. I always saw the first two films as from the point of view of R2-D2 and C-3PO. That’s how I saw it when I was younger. I only cared about these droids. These droids are just being exchanged, and passed around, and it’s just from their POV of what their masters are doing. But, “Return of the Jedi” is fixated on Luke Skywalker’s story and he’s becoming the top Jedi on the streets right now and that was really cool to me. I love it. I could talk about this all day.

Q: How did you feel on your first day of shooting in Abu Dhabi?

A: Abu Dhabi, in the heat, was quite the experience. Going out there and being in this environment—huge desert, loads of props, a big set, and obviously J.J. Abrams with his enthusiasm and his energy, coming in and saying that we’re starting “Star Wars” Episode Seven—was just amazing. Just looking around and taking it all in and saying, “I am here. We are about to film this movie.” I knew it was going to be an experience I would never forget.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm 2015
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Ph: Film Frame
©Lucasfilm 2015

Q: What was it like shooting in Abu Dhabi?

A: Abu Dhabi is very hot as everybody knows but it is a beautiful place. We were there to shoot the first part of the movie. I’m in this nice hotel and I get in my car and as we’re driving, I’m looking all around at the structure of Abu Dhabi. It looks amazing. We ended up in the desert where the TIE Fighter scene was being shot.

When I walk to set, I see this huge, life-size TIE Fighter, black and red, crushed in the sand. Balls of fire everywhere. Debris. TIE Fighter skid marks going 200 yards. And of course Finn has to be in the Stormtrooper outfit. I had to wear a Stormtrooper outfit in this heat for the next couple of days. Let’s just say it was a combination of sweat, passion, fandom, ice cubes, eye drops and a lot of water. I was drenched in sweat by the time I got out of the Stormtrooper outfit. But, most days, it got easier based on passion and fandom alone. I was trying to be professional but every time J.J. Abrams would come up to me with a note, I’d be like, “It’s a TIE Fighter!” I was literally star-struck seeing the TIE Fighter next to me. It made the scenes easier, though it was absolutely hot.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Finn (John Boyega) Ph: David James ©Lucasfilm 2015
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Finn (John Boyega)
Ph: David James
©Lucasfilm 2015

Q: When did you meet Daisy Ridley and how did you two get along?

A: Daisy Ridley and I met during the audition process and it was important for us to have chemistry reads and just get to know each other so that we could have a good chemistry on screen. Ever since then we’ve just bonded and we had a great time. It’s funny because we’re both going through this same experience of being in a picture that’s huge, and being on something of this scale is new to both of us. We’re kind of holding each other’s hand through this experience and we’ve been having fun! Cracking jokes and singing nice sing-along songs every morning, which everyone else doesn’t like, but we do our thing. We’ve been having fun.

Daisy and I get along on screen and off screen, so what you will see in the movie, in terms of our rhythm, in terms of our banter, is real off screen. When J.J. was going through the script with us, he made some tweaks based on our relationship and the rhythm in the way we talk to each other. It’s great that’s been implemented in the movie because people will feel that these two strangers, who’ve come from two different worlds, but somewhat are the same, are bonding and that there’s a real friendship between them. When you believe in characters that have great chemistry, you buy into the reality of it. You care about the characters. So it’s been wonderful working with Daisy, and having this real chemistry on screen. It’ll benefit the whole movie.

Q: Tell us about you rap songs.

A: The official Daisy Ridley and John Boyega “Star Wars” album was founded based on some time off in the desert. We’re not always in front of the screen, so we had a lot of time hanging out. We decided to make raps about our experience. Just think of it as poetry.

Q: Daisy Ridley seems very serious about this role.

A: Daisy Ridley is a hard worker. She’s very serious and passionate about this. From the moment I met her, she was fixated on making this role believable and relatable. She’s worked hard in collaboration with J.J. to make Rey loveable and soft, vulnerable, innocent, but at the same time you believe that Rey can become stern, and hard, and kick some butt and that’s what she does. She’s really strong, and it helps to have someone like that to bounce off of. We’re able to collaborate in certain scenes and get the best laughs. It’s been amazing not being in this by myself. Not being a young lead by myself. I love the fact that it’s a duo of leads. So, whatever experience we go through for the first time, it’s both of us going through it. In real life and in the movie. The whole experience, the process, has helped create balance in the galaxy and on Earth.

Q: What did you think of BB-8?

A: BB-8 is amazing. BB-8 is so cute and charismatic…and a little bit feisty. I’m starting to wonder if R2-D2 is a distant cousin. BB-8 is lovely to work with. I have to talk about BB-8 as an actor because BB-8 is actually there on set. On “Star Wars” we’re not messing around. It’s puppetry; it’s animatronics, and BB-8 is a combination of both. It’s been amazing working with BB-8. Sometimes he’s a bit rude and has to work on his attitude a bit. But, as a droid that just got this part, he has a long way to go.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens L to R: Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) Ph: David James © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
L to R: Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac)
Ph: David James
© 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved.

Q: Talk about J.J. Abrams as a director.

A: J.J. Abrams is an actor’s director. He understands the balance between the technical and the artistic. He’ll get the best out of his crew and his cast. Until we reach a balance, he won’t be satisfied. That’s what I love about J.J. Also, J.J. is a “Star Wars” fan. He’s clued up on “Star Wars” and very energetic on the set. He has his microphone next to him and always beatboxing, playing music. He’s a very vibrant young man. From an actor’s perspective, he gives you the best notes in terms of a scene and helps you get the best out of your character. It’s been fun working with him. They couldn’t give this opportunity to a better guy, and what I’ve seen so far looks really good. J.J. Abrams—he’s got this. He’s good.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens L to R: Director J.J. Abrams on set w/ John Boyega (Finn). Ph: David James ©Lucasfilm 2015
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
L to R: Director J.J. Abrams on set w/ John Boyega (Finn).
Ph: David James
©Lucasfilm 2015

Q: Do you have a sense of J.J. Abrams’ vision?

A: J.J.’s influence is definitely evident when you read the script. Especially with Finn because Finn is charismatic like J.J.; fun, very funny and very real and that’s something that’s a part of J.J. I feel that he’s put in Finn. But also it connects to the original “Star Wars,” where there was danger but it wasn’t like, drama-danger, it’s “Star Wars” danger; it’s exciting and thrilling and that’s something J.J. has a big influence over, and he’s doing a great job.

Q: Would you say that J.J. Abrams is celebrating the old in this new film?

A: I will say it’s true that J.J. is definitely accepting the new with the CGI but also at the same time he is paying homage to the old with physical effects, and it has been amazing because every time I get in that car to come to Pinewood to film “Star Wars,” I always think to myself, “What am I going to see with my very eyes today that’s going to make me go, ‘Wow, I’m filming Star Wars?’!” And there always is something. I feel like it’s going to continue like that for the rest of the shoot.

Q: As a fan who loves all sides of technology and practical, how do you think J.J. Abrams has done?

A: J.J. has managed to keep the balance between what we’re used to from the old “Star Wars” films—physical effects, real, loveable, relatable characters, great story arc—and the balance between what we know something we’re used to now, such as CGI and motion capture, and he’s managed to make this really good balance within the movie. He’ll do everything he can do physically before then expanding his ideas to what we can do on the computer. J.J. has done a very good job with making sure that the fans get to keep what made them love the “Star Wars” films, but also opening up the world to a new generation. It’s a good collaboration and that’s what you need for a space opera.

Q: What was it like working with Harrison Ford?

A: As he works on set, Harrison has a great understanding of the artistic side of shooting a movie as well as the technical side of shooting a film. If anyone asks me what I have learned from working with Harrison Ford on “Star Wars,” I’ve learned that whatever film I go on to after this, shooting a film or a movie as an actor is a balance of the technical and the artistic. As an artist, you’re portraying a role, being an actor, and performing. But the camera is the eye of the audience, so you have to also facilitate that. You have to facilitate the lighting, the positions and the visual effects. Harrison knows how to do all of that with great balance but also have fun and make it a comfortable set. He hangs out with us after filming. I took him to southeast London to a nice Nigerian restaurant. He spoke to me about all the things that he’d been through and all the things he’d seen over the years as an actor. It was great to learn from an actor. He’s a cool man.

Q: You’ve trained hard. Talk us through your regimen.

A: So for a role like this, and for a film like “Star Wars,” there’s a lot of action and definitely J.J. is great at doing the action both in space and on ground. As actors we definitely need to learn some hand-to-hand combat and how to use the lightsabers, so I was involved in over seven months of training. I actually played a lot of “Star Wars” music; there was a lot of John Williams coming from the speakers in the gym. I would do some intervals and run and do some cardio, skipping, boxing, weight training, all that kind of stuff. When we started filming, I felt like I was ready.

Q: Was the combat training pretty serious stuff?

A: It was. Our lightsabers are really heavy, so you do get a sense of this power and this Force that’s coming out of this weapon and it does really do something to you, but you do have to be strong and you do have to have skill. But it’s been fun doing the stunt training because I’ve always wanted to swing a lightsaber. We were actually working with wooden sticks for a long time to keep safe and get used to the movement and to learn the choreography.

Q: How was it like working with Oscar Isaac?

A: I definitely love Oscar Isaac.. He’s very articulate and has a great sense of art. He does take this very seriously, and also at the same with a character like Poe, he’s very charming and handsome and fun. I’m younger than him and he’s done so much more, so it’s great to learn from him.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens L to R: Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) Ph: David James © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
L to R: Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac)
Ph: David James
© 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved.

Q: Describe the experience of being at Pinewood Studios.

A: It’s amazing. When you come on set, it takes your breath away. The sets match what they were back in the first three original “Star Wars.” It’s easier to act when everything is physical, everything is around you and you can play with some things. It’s the “Star Wars” magic and that’s something George Lucas started and we’re definitely carrying on with that.

Q: Are you finding it fun to be surrounded by all the creatures?

A: I’m definitely having fun surrounded by the creatures. I am a big creature-feature fan, and I love physical effects. I love the creatures being there right in my face. We have a great team that does the puppetry on these creatures. It’s quite hilarious also because when the camera’s not rolling they still stay in it, so the animatronics are still going, the puppetry’s still going, so you find yourself having conversations with several different species you’ve never met before. It’s a good time.

Q: Do people recognize you on the street?

A: In terms of recognition, no. I’m definitely taking in the privacy and the fun of just being able to go to the store and buy a few groceries and have no one bother me. I’m definitely taking that in now because London is a special city to me; it’s where I grew up and I love going to Central London. I love walking the London streets and for me I’m just doing all of that now, and I’ve accepted that it’s going to change. I’m fine with that because it is something special that we’re doing here, and we’re working with good people who are definitely here to help us and to talk to us about the exposure and the amazing things that are going to happen in the next few months. It’s going to be unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Q: There is a huge global expectation for this film. How does that make you feel?

A: Working on “Star Wars,” I feel a sense of responsibility because “Star Wars” is bigger than just the movies, although the movies are the core of “Star Wars,” but there are the video games and the comic books. People are relating to these characters in different ways and, for me, I do feel a sense of responsibility for whatever character I am creating. I want to make sure that “Star Wars” fans are happy after they leave the cinema and that they have a lot to talk about. With this film and with the script, you have different characters, different dynamics and everybody is filling the shoes to make this really works.

Q: What are you most looking forward to when the film comes out?

A: When the film comes out in December I am looking forward to sitting down at the IMAX in Waterloo, because that’s where I always used to go growing up, and watching it with my family and friends and just enjoying “Star Wars” as a fan, nothing more. I know what, obviously I know the story, I know about the characters, but I feel like I’m blessed to a certain extent that I can watch a film I’m in and just accept it as an independent thing, I almost let it go and it’s the audience’s now, it’s the fan’s now, and I want to partake in that, I want to be a Star Wars fan, I want to go there with a Chewbacca t-shirt, have my R2-D2 mug put some soda in there and have a great time and watch Star Wars like any other fan, that’s all I want to do.

Q: What do the new generation characters add to the film?

A: There’s something amazing about the new generation characters in “Star Wars.” They are obviously younger, and less experienced, and they don’t know about themselves as much as the other characters do. They don’t have an established view of the galaxy and they are learning.

Finn is definitely the physical representation of the young generation when it comes to the “Star Wars” universe. “Star Wars” has a huge following but there is a small percentage of young people who haven’t been introduced to the “Star Wars” universe, or who are more into the expanded universe, but don’t know how to relate to the movies. Finn is their direct link. He doesn’t know what’s going on and is freaked out by droids and aliens. So, I think the audience will enjoy a relatable character that is going through these situations.

Read the SAMDB Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens here.

Q&A With Daisy Ridley Of Star Wars

SWTFA Logo

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Star Wars saga begin a long, long time ago, way back in 1977. And now the seventh (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)  instalment of the popular film franchise, set three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire in Return of the Jedi, is currently in cinemas worldwide, breaking so many box office records.

Now, a new threat arises, and the Resistance and a small band of heroes are the only one who can stop them. The First Order is certainly a malevolent force to be reckoned with.

Daisy Ridley – Rey

Daisy Ridley - Rey - Star WarsDaisy Ridley, a talented young British actress, plays the films heroine Rey. A scavenger on from the planet Jakku, she is skilled in many ways, including an innate ability to fix anything mechanical.

Q: Let’s start with introducing yourself and the role you play.

A: My name is Daisy Ridley, and I play the character of Rey.

Q: How did you hear about the part?

A: The first time I actually heard about this I was with three friends. One is a makeup artist and the other is a stylist. Somebody said, “Did you hear ‘Star Wars’ is coming out?” I immediately e-mailed my agent, and said that I really need to be seen for this. I don’t know why; I just had this weird feeling. I wound up getting an audition. So, for the first audition I was an hour early. Literally pacing up and down outside. I’d never been nervous like that before for something. It was the first time in an audition process that I felt everyone was rooting, not for me, but for the idea of an unknown person getting the part.

Q: Did you know you were going for the lead?

A: I knew it was a big part, but I didn’t know that it would be in the whole thing. I didn’t know what Rey’s journey would be and where she would end up. It was only when I read the script that I realized the enormity of, not only her, but her place in the whole thing.

Q: How did you find out you got the part?

A: My last audition was really amazing. A few days later, I knew I’d hear from J.J., and my phone was broken. I didn’t get the call. I didn’t know what was going on. I finally got through to him and he told me I’d be starring in “Star Wars.”

Q: And what was your reaction?

A: I was outside a theater where my friend was in a show, of which I missed the first half while all this was going on. I remember kicking a bottle on the ground like everything had changed. But it was all the same. And then I had to watch the rest of the show. My phone died. I couldn’t call anyone. I sat on the tube going home thinking, oh my God. Not able to tell anyone for an hour. Then, finally, I could tell my mom and sister. But, it didn’t really kick in for months.

Q: How did you tell your family?

A: I burst the front door open and went, “I got ‘Star Wars!’” My sister was like, what? And my mum was like, what? When I told my dad, who was asleep at the time, he just swore. That’s how it happened.

Q: How was that time for you, when you wanted to tell the whole world and couldn’t?

A: The time between knowing and the announcement was so strange. I was thinking about it as if I were pregnant, like I couldn’t tell anyone until the three-month mark. It was originally a month, and it kept extending. My birthday was really hard. I sat with all my friends, and it was really hard not to say anything. As time went on, it got easier. My mom, dad and sister knew, so I had that.

Q: What does it feel like to be a star in a movie that has global appeal?

A: I’m just starting to realize how big a thing it is. When J.J. Abrams told me I got the part, he said that my life was going to change. I could imagine it, but I couldn’t feel it, until it began to happen. The people have done it before are coming back and it’s like a family. It’s like people revisiting things. So, I feel honored that I’ve been allowed to continue the journey with my part as well as part of the team.

Q: Were you a fan of the franchise?

A: I remember being in the cinema and watching one because I remember being terrified. But because I was younger than the first generation of “Star Wars” fans, it wasn’t such a huge thing in my life—until now. But it does permeate popular culture. It’s on magazines. It’s referenced everywhere. But it was only until this year that it became a really big part of my life.

Q: Who’s your favorite character? Whom do you relate to?

A: Luke Skywalker. I think of it more of a universal thing. He embodies so much of everyone. Everyone starts out on a path; then circumstances change, and things happen, and you go to a new path. The thing that’s always with him is the good. He’s the good against the evil. He’s looking out for Leia and Han Solo too. So, he’s got other people’s best interests at heart. So the choices he makes are positively affecting, not only him, but the people around him. I think that’s what so many people do in life and that’s probably why I feel like that. He’s someone I can relate to.

Q: Do you have a favorite line from “Star Wars”?

A: It’s from “The Empire Strikes Back.” On Luke’s way to find Darth Vader, Yoda tells Luke that he has to go in a dark cave. Luke asks Yoda, “What’s in there?” And Yoda says, “Only what you take with you.” That brings everything together; the idea that everything you have inside you hopefully will lead to good things. Luke, even at the end, hoped for the best in his father, and the best there was. So you have to give it to him that his hope held out.

Q: What are the life lessons that “Star Wars” offers you?

A: Family is incredibly important, but I also think in fifty years I’ll look back and really realize the life lessons that I learned from this part of the journey as kind of a whole. So hopefully, I’ll learn some more life lessons on the way.

Q: What will you bring to “Star Wars”?

A: I’m still early on in my life, let alone in my career. But, hopefully, I’ll bring freshness and self-confidence but with vulnerability. All the things that make me, that’s what I’ll bring to the character.

Q: What would you like to impart to young girls in this journey?

A: I would say, be strong and be thoughtful and take care and realize how you’re affecting other people. Learn and grow and don’t be scared if things are offered to you that you’re not sure about but may change your life. Dive in feet first. Take everything you can and appreciate every day. Appreciate the people around you who support you and never feel on your own because you never are.

Q: Who is Rey and what is her role in the story?

A: Rey begins in her own world. She goes on this crazy adventure and meets Finn and BB-8 and she finally starts to make these bonds she’s never had before. It’ll be epic.

Q: Can you talk us through your look?

A: We went through many versions of hair, and a few versions of costume. When we finally decided on the hair, and I put the costume on, you could feel everyone go, that’s how she should be. Everything is supposed to look like Rey put it together herself. So, the hair is the iconic three buns, which we call the three knobs. The costume is gorgeous. It’s pretty, but she works in it. Everything she’s got fits her perfectly. I put the costume on and I feel pretty bad-ass.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Rey (Daisy Ridley) Ph: Elena Dorfman © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved..
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Rey (Daisy Ridley)
Ph: Elena Dorfman
© 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved..

Q: Talk us through the training process. Your character is badass.

A: I started stunt training just a few weeks after I found out. We did hand-to-hand and used boxing to warm up. J.J. wanted me to look like I work out. So I’ve been working the upper body. That was four hours a day, four days a week for three months. Without the guys we’re training with, there’s just no way John Boyega and I would have gotten through Abu Dhabi. The running stuff was so hard. It was a relief when there were explosions because we needed a break from the running. I haven’t stunt trained for a while, but I’m still fitness training to keep the levels up. There are such long days that you need the energy it brings.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm 2015
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Ph: Film Frame
©Lucasfilm 2015

Q: What sorts of things do you do?

A: Stunt wise, we’ll do warm up and sparring, and kicks and boxing. Then, I’ve been climbing. So, I started at a proper climbing wall, now they have one on the stage. I really like it now. There were days if I slipped, my confidence was lost. But I really like it. It’s so amazing doing something you haven’t done before and feeling that you’re gaining knowledge in it.

Q: Tell us about the staff training.

A: We started the staff training with a wooden stick. I don’t know how I did it; the adrenaline must have kicked in on the day. I never thought I’d be able to carry on as long as I did doing the fight sequence. The staff was fun. On the day of the fight scene, I was petrified. It was the first action thing I’d done. After the fight, I felt good. I felt like all the training had been for a good reason. In training, you feel like you’re pushing yourself to the limit. Then, you get on set and push further. It’s an incredible feeling.

Q: Did you get anything out of the training personally?

A: I was really pleased with the training as a personal thing. We have this incredibly strong female character and to have a strong female character is amazing. I’d never climbed before; I’d never done fight training before. It’s such an amazing feeling to scale a 30-foot wall, or get through a fight with an incredible swordsman. I feel like I held my own and that’s an amazing feeling.

Q: Talk us through your experience in Abu Dhabi.

A: Abu Dhabi was really nice because we were able to go a day early. John and I were taken around the mosque and palace, which were really lovely. We had a couple of days to get used to the heat as well. It was so hot that you could literally feel the sand burning through your shoes. But, once you give in to the heat, it’s okay. You know it’s consistent; it’s going not going to change, so there’s no point in fighting it. But everyone was so well looked after. When it got to the running bits, the hardest part was when it was a mix of hard and soft sand. That was a killer on the legs. The night before the last day of filming, that run was easier but my lungs were really pushing it. It got hotter and hotter. You’d go from doing lots of stunt things, then to acting and intimate moments.

Meeting BB-8 was tricky because I hadn’t worked a person on screen let alone a little droid. So, that was hard but because it was so tricky at first that it made it much better when things got easier. Towards the end of Abu Dhabi, I looked back and thought I’ve really come a long way since the beginning. I look back now and wish I could do the first few days again. The atmosphere is amazing.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens L to R: Director J.J. Abrams w/ actress Daisy Ridley (Rey) on set. Ph: David James ©Lucasfilm 2015
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
L to R: Director J.J. Abrams w/ actress Daisy Ridley (Rey) on set.
Ph: David James
©Lucasfilm 2015

Q: Talk about your costar John Boyega.

A: It’s so great how well we get on. In Abu Dhabi we didn’t have a chance to really meet, and that relationship wasn’t there at first. But since we’re here, and building that relationship in the scenes, it’s easy. It’s not hard to find it with someone you get on with. It’s a chemistry thing. As it went on, we’re just like brother and sister. We get on really well. We’re both incredibly silly.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens L to R: Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) Ph: David James © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
L to R: Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega)
Ph: David James
© 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved.

Q: How did you feel when you first stepped on the Millennium Falcon?

A: What was so strange was the crew was hundreds big then suddenly it was just a few of us. It’s such an iconic set and J.J. really wanted it to be perfect, so there was no mistaking what we’re trying to create. It’s just so big. There are moments where I’m like, “I’m flying the Millennium Falcon!”

Q: How did you feel about being on set with the legacy cast?

A: When I first met Harrison, we just sat down for a coffee together. He was talking about his experience in the whole thing, not just Han Solo, but the “Star Wars” saga. Then we all had dinner together, which was great.

Q: And Chewie. Was he everything you dreamed of?

A: It’s so funny seeing Chewie up close. He’s got a little mustache that is lighter than his face. And, he’s just so big!

Q: Tell us about working with J.J. Abrams.

A: J.J. is amazing. I’ve never really been on a film set before, and everyone adores him. He’s very kind, very generous. He was so great at the beginning because I was so nervous. He’s so patient, which is really important for me because I spent a lot of time going, I can’t do this. He made sure everyone on set was feeling great. There’s no one not worthy of a hello and a thank you. There have been so many moments when he’s gotten on the mic and told everyone that the work they’re doing is incredible, which it is. They’re getting that warmth from him that is needed. In such a big film personal relationships can be lost. But, because he is who he is, they’re not at all. Everyone feels praise. Everyone feels loved. Everyone feels appreciated. That is so important. He’s created this incredible world, and in the real world he’s this incredible man as well.

Q: What about the producer, Kathleen Kennedy?

A: The first time I met her, we were talking about role models and she seemed really approachable. It wasn’t until after that meeting that I found out how many films she’s worked on. We were talking to her the other day, John Boyega and I, and she was just laughing. She’s incredibly powerful and incredibly smart. She’s a mother. She’s caring. She’s kind. She’s there every day. She’s not this scary person who runs the show. She’s someone who’s there as support, making sure we’re happy. She’s an incredible woman.

Q: Do you think that “Star Wars” is about family?

A: Yes and the family thing translates everywhere. Even on set, it feels like a family. It’s that feeling of bonding. Because Rey is trying to find her place in this world in the same way I was trying to find my place in the world, the similarities were really nice. I felt so welcomed and taken in, and people seemed to care how I felt, which translates into the Rey thing as well. She suddenly has these people who care about her and she’s finding her place within that.

Q: Tell us about BB-8.

A: BB-8 is going to be loved by everyone. He’s so small, so much smaller than R2-D2 and because he’s puppeteered, he’s alive. He was the first character I had a real scene with, and I was nervous because he’s not a human being. But, because of the puppeteers, he comes alive. BB-8 is brilliant. He’s amazing.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens L to R: Rey (Daisy Ridley) & BB-8 Ph: David James © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
L to R: Rey (Daisy Ridley) & BB-8
Ph: David James
© 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved.

Q: Do you feel that Rey is your character now? That you’ve got this?

A: I realized what this film might be to people. I hope that people will love it. I think they will. I feel like I’m coming into my film family. Every day is fun. I haven’t had one day where I didn’t enjoy it. There are moments when I think how many people love “Star Wars” and it’s scary trying to fit into that world that people know so well and love so much. It’s nerve-racking thinking what Rey might represent to these people and whether they’ll like her or not.

Q: What sticks in your mind as a fond memory?

A: I can’t pinpoint a specific memory. Every day, getting to set, I feel like I’m fizzing with excitement off of something new: incredible creatures, sets and people. I can’t give a favorite part.

Q: Was that the most surreal moment?

A: The first few months of doing the job was so surreal, I can’t even remember some of it. I suddenly felt part of the excitement, part of something that people were going to love and people were excited to see again. You feel you’re not alone. Everyone is part of this whole thing, trying to make “Star Wars” happen again in the best way. I think people are going to love it.

Q: What is it that you want audiences to take away?

A: I’d love for people to feel the way we do working on it. There’s such a good feeling about the film and what we’re doing and the characters that are being made and formed in front of our eyes. I’d love for the audience to understand each of the characters’ stories and connect with the new characters, and I hope that their love for the old characters returns even more than before. I’d love for people to leave the cinema thinking, aside from all the action and the fights, that it’s an incredible story of people finding their place in a world.

Read the SAMDB Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens here.

4DX Takes It To Point Break From This Friday

Point Break

Nu Metro Cinemas opened the first ever 4DX cinema in Africa at Nu Metro V&A Waterfront on 16 December 2015. One month of business has seen STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS in 4DX achieving ground-breaking box office results. Nu Metro has now confirmed that POINT BREAK will share the bill with the 7th instalment in the STAR WARS saga from this Friday, 15 January 2016

Point Break

The popularity of this revolutionary new cinema format has been proven with most of the 4DX shows for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS reaching sold-out status for the past month. This achievement is further highlighted by the fact that some shows were sold out weeks in advance, with customers arriving at the cinema specifically asking to buy tickets for the film in the 4DX format (it has also been showing in the standard 2D/3D formats at the Nu Metro V&A cineplex).

Following this phenomenal opening, Nu Metro Cinemas will be showing POINT BREAK in 4DX, along with STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS in 4DX, at the Nu Metro V&A Waterfront cinema from this Friday. The two films will alternate showtimes daily.

“Nu Metro Cinemas would like to extend a big THANK YOU to the thousands of customers who have supported 4DX during the past month. We wanted to give South Africa a truly immersive cinema experience, and it has been embraced as such,” stated Nitesh Matai, GM for Nu Metro Cinemas. “4DX fulfilled those expectations as the new 4D cinemas involve all five senses for consumers to enjoy a cinema outing like nothing else they’ve seen, heard, or felt before. With the introduction of 4DX, Nu Metro Cinemas has now joined an elite group of cinema chains using this technology, and showcasing popular blockbusters in this exciting new cinema format.”

88th Oscars® Nominations Announced

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Guillermo del Toro, John Krasinski and Ang Lee announced the 88th Academy Awards® nominations today (January 14).

Del Toro and Lee announced the nominees in 11 categories at 5:30 a.m. PT, followed by Boone Isaacs and Krasinski for the remaining 13 categories at 5:38 a.m. PT, at the live news conference attended by more than 400 international media representatives.

Academy members from each of the 17 branches vote to determine the nominees in their respective categories – actors nominate actors, film editors nominate film editors, etc. In the Animated Feature Film and Foreign Language Film categories, nominees are selected by a vote of multi-branch screening committees. All voting members are eligible to select the Best Picture nominees.

Official screenings of all motion pictures with one or more nominations will begin for members on Saturday, January 23, at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Screenings also will be held at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood and in London, New York and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Active members of the Academy are eligible to vote for the winners in all 24 categories.

The 88th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The Oscar® presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards
Performance by an actor in a leading role
  • Bryan Cranston in “Trumbo”
  • Matt Damon in “The Martian”
  • Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”
  • Michael Fassbender in “Steve Jobs”
  • Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl”
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
  • Christian Bale in “The Big Short”
  • Tom Hardy in “The Revenant”
  • Mark Ruffalo in “Spotlight”
  • Mark Rylance in “Bridge of Spies”
  • Sylvester Stallone in “Creed”
Performance by an actress in a leading role
  • Cate Blanchett in “Carol”
  • Brie Larson in “Room”
  • Jennifer Lawrence in “Joy”
  • Charlotte Rampling in “45 Years”
  • Saoirse Ronan in “Brooklyn”
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh in “The Hateful Eight”
  • Rooney Mara in “Carol”
  • Rachel McAdams in “Spotlight”
  • Alicia Vikander in “The Danish Girl”
  • Kate Winslet in “Steve Jobs”
Best animated feature film of the year
  • “Anomalisa” Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson and Rosa Tran
  • “Boy and the World” Alê Abreu
  • “Inside Out” Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera
  • “Shaun the Sheep Movie” Mark Burton and Richard Starzak
  • “When Marnie Was There” Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura
Achievement in cinematography
  • “Carol” Ed Lachman
  • “The Hateful Eight” Robert Richardson
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” John Seale
  • “The Revenant” Emmanuel Lubezki
  • “Sicario” Roger Deakins
Achievement in costume design
  • “Carol” Sandy Powell
  • “Cinderella” Sandy Powell
  • “The Danish Girl” Paco Delgado
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” Jenny Beavan
  • “The Revenant” Jacqueline West
Achievement in directing
  • “The Big Short” Adam McKay
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” George Miller
  • “The Revenant” Alejandro G. Iñárritu
  • “Room” Lenny Abrahamson
  • “Spotlight” Tom McCarthy
Best documentary feature
  • “Amy” Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees
  • “Cartel Land” Matthew Heineman and Tom Yellin
  • “The Look of Silence” Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
  • “What Happened, Miss Simone?” Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby and Justin Wilkes
  • “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” Evgeny Afineevsky and Den Tolmor
Best documentary short subject
  • “Body Team 12” David Darg and Bryn Mooser
  • “Chau, beyond the Lines” Courtney Marsh and Jerry Franck
  • “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah” Adam Benzine
  • “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
  • “Last Day of Freedom” Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman
Achievement in film editing
  • “The Big Short” Hank Corwin
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” Margaret Sixel
  • “The Revenant” Stephen Mirrione
  • “Spotlight” Tom McArdle
  • “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey
Best foreign language film of the year
  • “Embrace of the Serpent” Colombia
  • “Mustang” France
  • “Son of Saul” Hungary
  • “Theeb” Jordan
  • “A War” Denmark
Achievement in makeup and hairstyling
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin
  • “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared” Love Larson and Eva von Bahr
  • “The Revenant” Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
  • “Bridge of Spies” Thomas Newman
  • “Carol” Carter Burwell
  • “The Hateful Eight” Ennio Morricone
  • “Sicario” Jóhann Jóhannsson
  • “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” John Williams
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
  • “Earned It” from “Fifty Shades of Grey”
    Music and Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio
  • “Manta Ray” from “Racing Extinction”
    Music by J. Ralph and Lyric by Antony Hegarty
  • “Simple Song #3” from “Youth”
    Music and Lyric by David Lang
  • “Til It Happens To You” from “The Hunting Ground”
    Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga
  • “Writing’s On The Wall” from “Spectre”
    Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith
Best motion picture of the year
  • “The Big Short” Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers
  • “Bridge of Spies” Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers
  • “Brooklyn” Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” Doug Mitchell and George Miller, Producers
  • “The Martian” Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer and Mark Huffam, Producers
  • “The Revenant” Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent and Keith Redmon, Producers
  • “Room” Ed Guiney, Producer
  • “Spotlight” Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin and Blye Pagon Faust, Producers
Achievement in production design
  • “Bridge of Spies” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard Henrich
  • “The Danish Girl” Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Michael Standish
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration: Lisa Thompson
  • “The Martian” Production Design: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Celia Bobak
  • “The Revenant” Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Hamish Purdy
Best animated short film
  • “Bear Story” Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala
  • “Prologue” Richard Williams and Imogen Sutton
  • “Sanjay’s Super Team” Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle
  • “We Can’t Live without Cosmos” Konstantin Bronzit
  • “World of Tomorrow” Don Hertzfeldt
Best live action short film
  • “Ave Maria” Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont
  • “Day One” Henry Hughes
  • “Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)” Patrick Vollrath
  • “Shok” Jamie Donoughue
  • “Stutterer” Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage
Achievement in sound editing
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” Mark Mangini and David White
  • “The Martian” Oliver Tarney
  • “The Revenant” Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender
  • “Sicario” Alan Robert Murray
  • “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Matthew Wood and David Acord
Achievement in sound mixing
  • “Bridge of Spies” Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew Kunin
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo
  • “The Martian” Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth
  • “The Revenant” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek
  • “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson
Achievement in visual effects
  • “Ex Machina” Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams
  • “The Martian” Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner
  • “The Revenant” Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer
  • “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould
Adapted screenplay
  • “The Big Short” Screenplay by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
  • “Brooklyn” Screenplay by Nick Hornby
  • “Carol” Screenplay by Phyllis Nagy
  • “The Martian” Screenplay by Drew Goddard
  • “Room” Screenplay by Emma Donoghue
Original screenplay
  • “Bridge of Spies” Written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
  • “Ex Machina” Written by Alex Garland
  • “Inside Out” Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
  • “Spotlight” Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy
  • “Straight Outta Compton” Screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; Story by S. Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff

Ant-Man (BluRay): Review

Film

Recently out for prison, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is talked into doing a small job breaking into a house to steal from Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). However, things do not go according to plan, and he ends up with only a suit.

Scott soon discovers that this is no ordinary suit, but one that can shrink the user down to the size of an ant, and gives them super strength. Though a series of events, Scott ends up being mentored by Dr. Pym who enlists his help in stopping antagonist Darren Cross.

Scott needs to embrace the powers of the suit in order to become Ant-Man, and save the world from Cross’s alter ego the Yellow Jacket.

Fitting into the bigger Marvel universe, including many references and an appearance by Falcon, Ant-Man still manages to keep its own style. Bringing together action, adventure and some humour, the film can be viewed as part of the bigger whole, or as stand alone.

A talented cast bring the characters alive. Stunning visual effects transport the viewer into the macro world each time Ant-Man shrinks himself down with the suit. And an entertaining story, that is sure to delight Marvel fans. While there are not many plot twists, and the story is easy enough to follow, even for younger audiences, this is a fun ride and we are sure to see more of Ant-Man in the future.

A fun story, in a disc containing many additional features, Ant-Man is a great addition to any movie collection.

Disc And Bonus Features

Ant-Man, another addition to the Marvel universe, is available now to purchase on disc in South Africa.

Video

The video is encoded at a high average bitrate, with no visible artefacts on screen, and a very clear full HD image. Those with larger or higher resolution screens would be able to scale up, given the right hardware or software.

Audio

Audio is presented in a DTS-HD 7.1 mix. And while not common place yet, more and more titles are shipping with Dolby Atmos, and one would be right to assume that Disney would have included this on the disc, given that Ant-Man was originally mixed with an Atmos soundtrack.

Audio on the disc is clear and encoded at a high average bitrate. The film makes extensive use of the surround channels, fully immersing the viewer in the on-screen action, and greatly enriching the viewing experience.

Navigation

Navigation, and the menu screens, are very stylish and detailed, while still being easy to follow and understand. The menu backgrounds comprise of some video from the actual movie, but these do not give away more than what was generally on the trailer.

Bonus

Feaurettes:

Making Of An Ant-Sized Heist: An insight into Ant-Man and supporting, with interviews from the cast and filmmakers. A look behind the scenes.

While not spoiling the story, this featurette is made far more interesting once you have seen the main title. Fast paced, yet coming in just under fifteen minutes running time, this is a very interesting addition to the disc, and is sure to be enjoyed by anyone interesting in learning more about the people involved in the film, as well as a bit more about the characters themselves.

Let’s Go To The Macroverse: The filmmakers talk about the look and visual effects of the film, and its style. A closer look at the film units involved, from first and second unit, to the macro unit used to film the world from the perspective of Ant-Man himself.

WHIH New Front: A bunch of clips giving some further information on the events in the Marvel universe. Starting with a clip about the robbery at Vista Corp.

Next up is some purported surveillance footage, showing Scott Lang perpetrating the break in that lead him to being convicted and sentenced.

An interview with Darren Cross of Pymtech by Wired Insider, speaking about how this character (played by Corey Stoll) furthered the technology created by Dr. Hank Pym.

Another WHIH broadcast with an interview with Scott Lang, and giving a history of the character, his work history, and giving yet more insight into how this character fits into the Marvel Universe with The Avengers and SHIELD.

Deleted and extended scenes: Scenes presented here are those that affected the pacing of the story, or revealed too much information, or what was not necessary as the audience would have figured this out for themselves. Some scenes also provide some interesting insight into the directors vision for the film and the story itself.

Gag Reel: Some of the outtakes, and funny incidents caught on camera. A fun and humours interlude to the viewing experience.

Audio commentary with Peyton Reed and Paul Rudd: Rewatch the film with narration by the filmmakers. A great insight for those who are, or wish to become, filmmakers themselves. A great addition to the disc, as audio commentaries are often an interest to a wide audience, but are also often missing from new releases.