Cats 2014 London Launch

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking musical Cats will officially return to the West End for a limited 12-week run from 6 December to 28 February 2015 at the London Palladium. The new edition of the show which ran for 21 years and nearly 9000 performances during its original London run will feature reworked music and interpretations of at leats two songs. Introducing elements of rap and street dance to familiar numbers like  ‘The Rum Tum Tugger’ and ‘Growltiger’s Last Stand’.S

Cats has been presented in more than 26 countries,  translated into ten languages and seen by over 50 million people worldwide. It success is due to a Grammy award winning soundtrack and popular classics like Memory. The new Christmas season run of the show on it’s return to the capital is aimed squarely at enchanting a new generation. In particular young audience members will have the chance to have their own trademark Cat makeup applied as part of the new experience at the London Palladium.

Check out a gallery of images below of the Cats in action at the London launch event below:

 

Hercules Director Brett Ratner Interview

Director Brett Ratner, best known for the Rush Hour series and X-Men The Last Stand finally gets to tackle his dream project Hercules with appropriately musclebound leading man Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Here’s what he had to say during a London press conference with his cast to promote the film.

Q: We see a lot of fun in this film and you seem such a fan of the character Hercules, would you agree with that, Brett?

 For me, as a kid growing up, I dreamed of making a swords and sandals movie, and Hercules is the ultimate character: the first superhero. I read the graphic novel and this story demystified the myth, and is really the ultimate interpretation of the story. A lot of these films, in modern times, are all about the spectacle, the visual effects. I set to make something that was grounded, that was realistic, that had emotion, that had heart, that had characters, that was an ensemble: it wasn’t just about Hercules, it was about his team as well. When I met with Dwayne, I was just like, “Oh my god, this film is now breathing life!” Dwayne really came on-board and it became something that was real. At first, it was just a childhood dream, and then all of a sudden I was sitting in my living room, looking at Dwayne! It’s his dream to play this role, but he’s making my dream come true, so I want to thank him here in front of this audience for doing that for me. But, the truth is, at the end of the day, it was the hardest film I’ve ever done, I’m sure a lot of these actors can say the same thing. But, it was incredibly rewarding and we had incredible fun. It wasn’t until he came into London for his first fitting for hair and makeup, put his wig on and put his clothes on, and I saw the transition. I saw the moment for the first time, I watched him looking in the mirror and become Hercules. His whole persona changed. I took a picture of that moment. Behind your back, Dwayne. I just thought he owns this, and everything fell into place: each one of these guys became the characters. And, even though I’ve been watching Ian my whole life, I saw him as Amphiaraus. By the way, he had the easiest job on set because he was not wearing a wig, he has fantastic hair!

Q. The films boasts a lot of impressive sets alongside CGI effects does’t it?

What’s cool is, we actually built the sets in this movie, and with a lot of movies these days, the actors go into a green room and they point at the camera in different directions and we build it in post. We built some of the biggest sets I think I’ve ever stepped on in my entire life, it felt like we were setting a movie in the Bible: it was epic. It was helpful to the actors to come on the large-scale sets that were actually built, they weren’t CGI’d – we use CGI to extend them, but the actors were walking on to one of the biggest sets in the world.

Q: Why was it important for you to do it that way?

 Well, I think it’s better for me; it’s just an old-school approach. I would have done it with miniatures if I could, but the truth is, to build it, it just makes the feeling of going to battle every day. We built villages from scratch, we found a piece of land, spent months excavating it and built each little structure: if you went there, there were signs of people living there, our production designer, Jean-Vincent Puzos, really put in the effort. Every day you walked onto the set, it was an experience, you felt like you were actually there.

Q: Can you tell us about casting Ingrid Bolsø Berdal  as an amazon warrior?

 

I’ve never seen an actor as committed to her character. She would sleep in her wardrobe at night – not literally of course! When everyone else was having fun and relaxing, Ingrid was going on imaginary hunts with her armour and archer around the property in Budapest, asking actors, “Can we go into the forest and go hunting? We won’t kill anything! We just gonna pretend like we’re hunting in the forest.”

Q: Irina Shayk plays Hercules wife, what made her the right fit alongside Dwayne?

 Irina is a bit of a star, and you never know how someone is gonna react, but we were doing a scene at four o’clock in the morning, and there were hundreds of dead men in a ravine, and I didn’t even wanna walk in the ravine. And I said to Irina, “You’ve gotta go and get in the ravine and lay down on top of all these soldiers,” and she was like, “Okay.” I said, “Are you sure? I wouldn’t wanna do it if I was you!” The ravine was disgusting!

Q: Dwayne Johnson is your leading man, can you talk about his physical dedication to the role?

 The discipline of Dwayne is inspiring. I think you gained thirty-five pounds of muscle on the movie, maintained it, and was up before anybody at four in the morning, working out twice before you even got to set! At one point he said to me-…can I say the F-word? “Don’t screw this up, Brett. I’m working so hard!” Three hours of hair and makeup, and his commitment to this character was unbelievable and for everybody involved. I would have been suffering just from the food part!

Q:  Dwayne mentioned that he grew up watching the Hercules character, who has been reinvented time after time, so how did you come to decide on how you wanted to portray him? What was the story you wanted to tell?

 It was really the demystification of the myth that got me excited about it. Where all legends begin and where they end up. For me, it was such a unique twist to do a grounded realistic version of the story, and, as Dwayne said, I think it’s very difficult because it’s a story that everybody knows, everyone is familiar with it, so how do we make it modern and contemporary and special? Dwayne himself portraying that role was able to make it fresh; a Hercules for this generation, and I believe, in watching the movie, there’s nobody else that could have played this role, especially of this generation. And, to be a part of that, is really exciting for me, and hopefully this film is gonna be really successful and we’re gonna keep making these over and over again. And then the spin-offs!

 

Hercules Dwayne Johnson Interview

Former Wrestling superstar turned action movie hero Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock finally gets to take on his dream role of mythical hero Hercules. Directed by Brett Ratner and showcasing an eclectic global cast the sword and sandals epic fuses legend with CGI and real hulking muscles. Here’s what Dwayne had t say about the project during a recent London press conference.

Q. What did feel like on that first day when you became Hercules?

It was amazing being him. When I was able to put everything the hair, the makeup, the armour, it was an incredible feeling. The second part to that was stepping on set for the very first time: our first day of shooting. We opened up with a very spectacular scene on our very first day with one of our ensemble battles, and it was an epic day, and again the second part to how gratifying it was for me was, as an actor, was when everyone else stepped into their role. Watching these guys here really transform themselves and lock-and-load. A lot of times in acting, you have a shift-and-click moment when you get into a character, and these guys just blew me away.

Q. Why were you so determined to get this role?

Well, I’ve grown up loving and admiring Hercules. There’s that iconic moment where Hercules breaks the chains from the pillars, and screams, “I am Hercules!”, which, for me as a kid, was always a mesmerising moment. I remember having a poster of Steven Reeves in the old days, when those posters looked painted at that time, and I was always inspired by it. Hercules was the very first movie I had enquired about when I first got to Hollywood in 1999-2000, and that time, I didn’t have the ability to green-light anything. Then it came around years later, so I sit in front of you guys today, very grateful for the role and grateful to have a director on-board and certainly grateful to these actors.

Q. Did this ask of anything different for you in terms of physical dedication?

It did, it was the most physically challenging and demanding role. I started prepping at about six months out, had a great fitness coach and diet coach and wanted to come in as Hercules! Brett and I spoke a couple of years ago when we first met about the project, and we said that you get one crack at Hercules, especially when you wanna make a movie with all these actors that’s a defining movie because there’s been so many Hercules in the past; film, TV and cartoons, books and everything like that, so we had an opportunity, and I felt that I was gonna work as hard as I possibly could, transform my body and bring it in at a certain peak. But, I do wanna give a lot of credit by the way to Ingrid because her transformation was incredible! In her wardrobe, unlike a lot of ours, a lot more of her body was showing, all of her stomach and all of her legs, and when you come in at a certain physical point, when you reach that physical peak, you have to maintain it for five or six months. And that is the most difficult thing to do because everything has to match from day one to day ninety-five or whatever it was, so, as Brett was saying, we’d be shooting these scenes at three or four o’clock in the morning, and everyone was so tired and freezing, and I look of into the corner and Ingrid would be in the corner doing exercises, everything she possible could! So, I give her and all of us a lot of credit. For all of us, including Ian, it was the most physically challenging movie we have done!

Hercules London Photocall images below:

 

Earth To Echo Review

The Plot

With their homes being removed to make way for a new highway, three friends decide to spend their final night together trying to figure out the mystery behind a strange map that begins to appear on their phones. Armed with handheld cameras and their bikes, the boys soon come across a lost alien/robot looking for his ship.

The Good

Found footage films almost exclusively fall predictably into the horror genre, with only a few notable exceptions. Earth To Echo is perhaps the first found footage film for children since the genre took off. And it’s odd to think it’s taken so long. On the other hand it’s easy to see why.

Found footage has always been inextricably associated with horror and it’s obviously not a genre that lends itself to family friendly fare. However, with Earth To Echo audiences get a traditional family film which surprisingly manages to make the most of the medium.

Although the film occasionally jumps audiences out of their seats with well timed scares, the central plot of three heroes setting out on a mysterious nighttime quest is generally much less intense. Building suspense without ever risking traumatising younger audiences

Then of course we have Echo. The titular robot/alien hybrid is the heart of the film and brings with him, echoes (no pun intended) of ET. A lost alien looking for a way back home is definitely not a new story. However Earth to Echo gives it a modern update and makes it feel like a traditional family classic with a dash of YouTubing mixed in for good measure. Sort of a mix of ET and The Goonies with a tiny sprinkling of Super 8 added in.

The three main cast members do their job well, despite their young age. With them, and the young girl who comes into the story, being really the only fleshed out characters in the film it’s nice to see them work together and play off each other easily.

The Bad

There’s not much to criticize about Earth to Echo. It’s put together well enough and has no real gaping holes in either plot or character. The film’s only real flaw or vice is occasionally being  a little overly unrealistic. The fact that these children have access to quite extensive camera equipment is rather ridiculous. The most dubious item being a camera built into a pair of sunglasses that look completely out of place in a child’s possession.

Also it would have been nice to have some of the adult characters, such as the parents having more to do than simply being proof of existence in the background. But as mentioned before, the child actors hold the film together well enough on their own.

The Ugly Truth

Earth to Echo is a well done family film which brings the found footage genre to a new audience, hopefully paving the way for more opportunities like this. With great nods to classic family films and a simple yet engaging storyline, Echo is definitely worth a trip to the cinema with the kids.

Pride In London 2014 Pictures

Checkout 300 exclusive photos from the celebrations and parade at last weekend’s Pride In London annual Pride celebrations. Tens of thousands of party goers took to the street to stand proudly besides  London’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities during the annual  festival. Starting at 1pm at Baker Street the colourful procession danced it’s way through Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus, Pall Mall and ultimately arrived in the heart of Trafalgar Square.  Thought the weather occasional turned nasty nobody could truly rain on this Parade…