THE HELP, TOUCHING AND REAL

It’s hard to believe that it was only a short period of time ago that people were still separating black from white.  In The Help we find what a little thing like writing a book could do to stir up segregation and bring it to the forefront.  In this story there’s a huge helping of right versus wrong with an unexpected outcome that reminds all that man’s inhumanity to man did exist even in the good old USA.

 

It’s the 1960’s Mississippi and the women in this particular town are prominent southern ladies who spend their days at teas and community events.  Their social life depends on how they look and present themselves so having a maid or two is a normal thing.  Skeeter, a local socialite, has just graduated college from Mississippi State and returns following her long absence. Being brought up by a black housekeeper she’s familiar with the power of the local ladies over the help.  A New York publisher gets a call from Skeeter about her wanting to write for the publication and the editor tells her that she wants something controversial.  When she offers her a story on ‘The Help’ things start getting edgy in Mississippi.

Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis in THE HELP

I like the way writer/director Tate Taylor spools his story out slowly delivering a lot of character build-up in this segregation drama. Featuring fine acting from the whole cast their characters are caring, loving, controlling, hurtful and rebellious making the story forceful and convincing yet entertaining.

Tate Taylor and Emma Stone on the set of THE HELP

Both Taylor and novelist Kathryn Stockett were brought up in Mississippi homes where African American maids did all the work including the much-needed attention to the children of the household.  This first hand knowledge makes the film more real and compelling.  Taylor uses his sets and costumes to depict the era while putting his actors through their everyday routines, confrontations and finally a remarkable showdown that sums up the message embodied the film “Change begins with a whisper”.

 

The musical score by Thomas Newman helps put each of the scenes in the mood intended and remarkably adds to the dialogue. A song by Mary J. Blige “The Living Proof” written and sung by Mary for the film adds power to the presentation. Please stay for the end credits to hear the complete rendition.

 

Emma Stone has been making films for several years, all of which were shallow except for possibly Zombieland where she excelled here as a sweetheart with a cobra’s bite.  Here she does an outstanding job playing Skeeter with a very believable performance showing that yes, she can play with the big girls.

 

The Help is rated PG-13 for thematic material.  It does contain some derogatory language and vicious remarks so please be aware of this in choosing to bring immature youngsters.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very realistic story and reminder of a troubled past (B)

 

 

 

Scarface Explodes Back into Movie Theaters

Centennial, Colo. – August 1, 2011 – Blasting onto the silver screen with the intensity of its original release nearly 30 years ago, the pop culture phenomenon Scarface, starring Al Pacino and directed by Brian De Palma, returns to movie theaters in a one-night Fathom event on Wednesday, August 31 at 7:30 p.m. local time.

Presented by NCM Fathom and Universal Studios Home Entertainment, audiences nationwide will get the opportunity to experience one of the most influential gangster classics ever made like never before — with all-new restored high-definition picture and enhanced audio. Fans who attend this special event will also get an exclusive look at a 20-minute special feature that showcases interviews with popular filmmakers and talent expressing how this epic feature redefined the gangster genre, leaving an enduring influence on cinema. Read more

MARS NEEDS MOMS, on 3D Blu-ray

 

Technology has really taken a big leap with 3D home viewing and many films with the original format are now available on Blu-ray 3D.  This is the case with the newest Disney Release to 3D called Mars Needs Moms.  Sure it hit big in theatres to its target group kids and pre-teens, but now adults can check it out at home.  Whether you have 3D or other mode of video, the animation in Mars Needs Moms rivals PIXAR.

 

The story involves a nine-year-old named Milo who like most all pre-teens can’t seem to get a grasp on growing up.  Whether it’s at the dinner table or keeping his room tidy, Milo’s not one to follow that drill.  But his mom thinks otherwise and while she provides a good life for Milo, she finds herself in the same boat as other moms when it comes to adolescents.

 

One evening a huge commotion outside brings Milo to out of bed only to see his mother being whisked away by an alien space ship. In hot pursuit he catches up to the ship and stows aboard.  What happens next is an adventure filled with comedy, danger and a chance to make it all up to mom.

 

The 3D special effects are blazing on a home theater.  The strength comes mostly on the depth of field, but there’s plenty of action that comes out at you.  The most exciting thing I found however is the crispness of the animation.

 

Like most Blu-ray and DVD the fun for the kids here is the replay button that will allow them to run the film over and over again.  The story has a lot of kiddy twists and keeps them interested and laughing.  I found myself getting involved in the story even though I found it a little trite and corny at times.  Sure it’s a one time through for me, but since there are children in my life, it will get played plenty of times.

 

There are some cool extras on each of the formats.

 

If there is a 3D theater in your future you’ll want to get the 3D combo pack which has 4 ways to view, 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy all in one package.  Otherwise Mars Needs Moms can be obtained in a Blu-ray Combo or just a DVD.

 

The extras on the 3D disk include everything on the Blu-ray & DVD plus…. “Mom-Napping (All-new 3D Exclusive) – There‘s more than meets the eye during the Martian abduction of Milo‘s Mom”. This alternate scene — completely finished in 3D — tells all.

 

Blu-ray 2D includes Everything on the DVD plus an “Extended Opening – The movie begins… but wait, there‘s more. See it here.”

 

They all have deleted scenes, and many other fun things to search out.  You know, I never thought the youngsters as young as 5 years old would even find the extras, but my son’s children are pros at it.  And even if they have seen it once, unlike me, they will upload it again.

 

Things like  “Life On Mars: The Full Motion-Capture Experience” – Go way behind the scenes to where the actors performances are captured. This feature-length, picture-in-picture viewing mode also lets you listen to director Simon Wells and actors Seth Green and Dan Fogler give a fun and insightful look into creating the movie.

 

Deleted Scenes with Simon Wells introductions (4 Blu-ray 2D Exclusive Deleted Scenes) – 7 deleted scenes of which four are exclusive to the Blu-ray 2D release. Some cool scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Now you can see them with introductions by director Simon Wells.

 

“Flower Power” Easter Egg – the name of the show that Ki watched and learned English from is entitled ?Freaks on the Street.

 

Bellflower Serves up Violence, Sex and High-Octane Insanity

 

Written and directed by Evan Glodell and filmed on a micro budget, Bellflower is an incendiary bit of filmmaking that unapologetically welds violence, loveless infatuation and post-teen angst. The characters are, for the most part, irresponsible losers in almost every sense of the word. Untethered from reality, theirs is a video-game existence that follows a crazy-eights destruction-derby path to self-annihilation. Yet, like a car crash, there’s something about Bellflower that draws us in and keeps us engaged.

The film opens with reverse vignettes of violence, foreshadowing the film’s bizarre, unconventional style that, at times, descends to film-school production values. We’re introduced to Woodrow (Glodell) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson) who devote part of their free time constructing a flamethrower and sprucing up a flame spewing car, a “black tarantula” called Medusa—all in preparation for a MadMax type of apocalypse that Aiden envisions is just around the corner.

Glodell’s characters exist in a universe where there are no jobs, no police, and seemingly no social order or framework. Lives, loves and ambitions are as disheveled as the squalor of their surroundings. Everything is focused on the carnal here and now, oblivious to consequences. When Woodrow threatens a huge beer-brawling patron outside a bar and expects him to apologize to Milly, we’re not surprised that Woodrow lands flat on his ass. Or when he trades in his car for a motorbike and rides thousands of miles from Texas to California with Milly, impulse trumps common sense.

Glodell’s obsession with “Lynchian” homages sometimes interferes with plotting detail and makes us question the motives of Bellflower’s characters. When Woodrow meets Milly (Jessie Wiseman) in a bar over a bug-eating contest, she becomes the monkey in Bellflower’s wrench. And for a while, the film segues into a kind of Blue Valentine tragedy. Milly’s abrupt change of heart and Woodrow’s rekindled relationship with Milly’s friend Courtney (Rebekah Brandes) both serve the script but leave the story line running on half cylinders. Milly warns Woodrow that things will end badly, which turns out to be the only predictable bit of narrative in this film.

The point is, Bellflower’s puzzle piece storyline shifts gears erratically like Medusa, roaring, squealing, careening and fishtailing aimlessly. The audience is left hoping that the film will slow down, settle in neutral for just the briefest moment and answer some basic questions–like where are these characters really headed? And what do they want out of life or their relationships? But this is not that kind of film. Glodell sustains the pedal-to-the-metal ride, sans logic, hoping you’ll stay with him for every emotional, violent funhouse turn as the film leaps relentlessly to its hellish conclusion.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, AWESOME

Do you have your Action/Adventure fill for summer, or are you ready for more?  Try Rise of the Planet of the Apes for a thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.  I like the way Director Rupert Wyatt makes sure each exciting scene develops with emotion, first creating interest, then suspense finalizing in aggressive thrills.  If you are ready for a creative story that connects to the original, then swing down to your nearest movie theater.

 

The story goes something like this; Will Rodman (James Franco) a budding scientist has developed a virus that has signs of curing Alzheimer disease called ALZ112.  Testing it on chimpanzees he finds that it makes them smart and easier to manage.  His test subject Bright Eyes seems to be progressing nicely till one day where she starts to shy away from her handlers.

 

Because of her aggressive emotional state, one handler tries to move Bright Eyes to another cage and that’s when she bolts escaping from the lab into the foyer. Fearing that she will hurt someone a security guard shoots her, revealing that she was about to give birth.  The ape child Caesar gets taken and raised by Rodman.  When she starts showing signs of over aggressiveness by injuring a neighbor, Rodman is forced to take Caesar to a special primate compound.  When the virus ALZ113 gets discovered things take a serious turn for the worse.

You can see the detail and realism in this shot of the revolt by the apes

The CGI, make-up, puppetry, performance capture, stuntmen and special effects make the film a success. With the film wholly dependent on the realistic look of the apes, the creators do a superb job of binging the animals to life.  I am amazed on how the personalities of each of the animals progress as the film goes on.  Showing the playfulness, cleverness and then aggression of the primates, the crew makes the film work.

Caesar (Andy Serkis) examins the ALZ113 container

Director Rupert Wyatt does a great job of moving the story along at a pretty fast clip introducing his characters, interacting them within storyline and keeping his audience on the edge of their seats.  His selection of Franco as Will Rodman proves to be a perfect choice making the scientist a caring and instinctive person who can relate to the apes.  But the most creative role goes to Andy Serkis as the ape Caesar who Wyatt hones into the most amazing performance this year.

 

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes is PG-13 for intense and frightening sequences of action and violence. The film has very little flaws during the nearly two-hour playtime.  All the apes looked real and dangerous when need be.  The support acting is flawless, cinematography bright and expansive, storyline interesting and certainly well worth watching.

 

Stay after the credits start to roll for the thread that makes the final connection to the original Planet of the Apes.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A thriller with a gorilla. (A)



 

 

THE CHANGE UP, MISSES TERRIBLY

Not much to say positive about The Change UP a lame film that tries every old trick in the book to grab your attention and make you think it’s comedy.  The film suffers from ‘I’ve seen that before’ and a sick humor syndrome.  If you think that watching a baby try to stick its hand in a blender is funny, then this is your kind of weird.

 

Two long time buddies, Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) and Dave (Jason Bateman), go out to a bar to watch a Braves game, get drunk and end up peeing in a magic fountain that swaps their brains to live in each other’s bodies.  Now straight arrow Dave, a family guy with a gorgeous wife (Lisa Mann) and three kids, has worked hard all his life to be this amazing lawyer on the verge of becoming a Vice President of his firm, while Mitch has been hanging out being a playboy wannabe actor.  So when the two exchange lives the craziness begins.

Olivia Wilde plays office hottie Sabrina

Although I do like what Bateman (Extract) and Reynolds (The Proposal) have done in the past, the script the two have to act out is far too kinky, sleazy and ridiculous for anyone other than hormonal males that need a stimulating brain fix.  That said, Olivia Wilde looks great in the raw, and if she didn’t use a body double, so does Lisa Mann.

Mitch tries his best to be Dave

The Change Up has an inordinate amount of site gags that in most cases cause laughter and for this the film does entertain.  However, that’s not enough here because I really didn’t find myself accepting Bateman inside Reynolds nor Reynolds inside Bateman’s skin.  The two are too much alike to become different and this predictable film proves it.  I really can’t say that any film of this one’s ilk ever worked including Freaky Friday, Like Father Like Son and Vice Versa.  The only one that came close is Face Off where you could feel the sinister coming out of Nick Cage’s Caster Troy and the softening of John Travolta’s Sean Archer.

 

The film is rated R for pervasive strong crude sexual content and language, some graphic nudity and drug use. In the film they present a new term, ‘lorno’ meaning a light porno film and after watching The Change Up I had the feeling I just saw one.  Although comically presented, the over the top scenes tend to be more of a gross out than a misadventure.  Other scenes show babies handling knives, sticking their tongue in an electrical socket and a hand in a blender, all of which are more shocking than funny.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  Only if you and your buddy have nothing else to do. (D)

 

 

 

 

 

 

SNOW FLOWER, BLOOMS

Beautifully photographed the drama Snow Flower and the Secret Fan provides a stunning window into the lives of four women.  Although the film is a bit long, I found the journey well worth taking. Although a major chick flick, the film still plays well to older males.

 

The film features the custom of laotung a binding of friends for life as soul mates.  The tradition comforts the main characters Snow Flower (Ji-hyeon) and Lilly (Li Bingbing) through the best of times and then the toughest tests of their lives.

 

In a parallel story in present day Shanghai, the laotong’s descendants, Nina and Sophia, struggle to maintain the intimacy of their own childhood friendship in the face of demanding careers, complicated love lives, and a relentlessly evolving Shanghai.  Drawing on the lessons of the past, the two modern women must understand the story of their ancestral connection, hidden from them in the folds of the antique white silk fan, or risk losing one another forever.

Snow Flower and Lilly become laotung

Director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club) pulls excellent performances from his cast although I found myself struggling at times to separate the modern day female pair from their ancestors because he used the same actors.  Even with the make up and costume differences, the ploy just doesn’t work for me.  That said, Ji-hyeon as Snow Flower/Sofia and Li Bingbing as Nina/Lilly are brilliant in their roles portraying the delicate women who have to live through some very hard times.

 

The film does have some drawbacks however; the transitions between the modern day laotung women to their 1800’s counterparts happen a little too frequently, which causes a disjointing of the storyline.  Although director Wang found it a necessary bridge between eras, larger spans of each couples lives would have made the film more compelling.  Continuity suffered from a possible shorting of some scenes, especially the invasion of the Chinese rebels that displace a whole village only to find them returned in such a short span of time.

 

The customs of the early Chinese involve foot binding whereby the parents of young girls wrap their feet tightly so they will not grow.  Since most high-class suitors like women with small feet it becomes a way for most families to increase their station in life. Nicely inserted this binding process generates empathy and sadness for Sunflower and Lilly adding to the emotional charged film.

 

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is rated PG-13 for sexuality, violence/disturbing images and drug use. Be cautions on dragging along immature pre-teens due to the subject matter. English subtitles are used during Chinese dialog.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A challenging film for viewers and the filmmaker. (B-)


 

Fast Five Announces Blu-ray Street Date

Universal City, California (July 26 2011)—Spectacular street chases and pulse-pounding physical action are set against the mesmerizing beauty of Rio de Janeiro’s exotic thoroughfares in Fast Five, the most successful installment of the Fast & Furious franchise.  Vin Diesel and Paul Walker lead a reunion of returning all-stars from every chapter of the phenomenally successful franchise built on speed plus action superstar Dwayne Johnson (Faster) in the all-new action caper available October 4, 2011 on Blu-ray™ and DVD Combo Packs, DVD, Digital Download and On Demand.

Available for a limited time only, the Blu-rayand DVD Combo Packs bring the full-throttle excitement of the ultimate Fast Five experience to the screen with perfect picture and the purest digital sound available on Blu-ray™, as well as an extended edition of the film with even more explosive action, exclusive bonus features, a DVD to enjoy in the car or on the go, and a Digital Copy of the film that can be downloaded and viewed on an array of electronic and portable devices anytime, anywhere including laptops, tablets, and smartphones as well as Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray™ set top boxes.  Debuting on the Fast Five Blu-ray™ is Universal’s Second Screen, an all-new app for tablets and computers that provides an innovative and interactive viewing experience. To preview Universal’s all-new Second Screen for Fast Five visit http://preview.tinyurl.com/UniSecondScreenF5preview. Read more

CENTRAL FLORIDA FILM FESTIVAL – NEWS

 

6th Annual Central Florida Film Festival

SEPTEMBER 2-5, 2011

OCOEE HOSTS ANNUAL FILM FESTIVAL

 

(Ocoee, Florida)  Did you know that each Labor Day weekend (September 2-5, 2011) hundreds of actors, producers and directors converge in Ocoee, Florida, to showcase their work on the “Big Screen”?  The city of Ocoee, for the third consecutive year is proud to host the Central Florida Film Festival (CENFLO) at the West Orange 5 Cinemas (McGuire Avenue & RT #50).  This four day event is where new and veteran film makers alike showcase their work.

CENFLO will screen more than seventy films from nine foreign countries and nineteen states during the Labor Day weekend.  The West Orange 5 Cinemas became the host of the festival in 2009.  For the first three years the festival was presented in Kissimmee, Florida.  Film attendees will see Indie feature films, shorts and documentaries. “Those who attend our festival are treated to a fun filled weekend. Films, seminars, panel discussions, and an awards show are presented to inspire film makers and watchers alike,’’ said Bob Cook, CENFLO executive director. “ We love Ocoee and are excited to screen in a beautiful movie theater which gives our film makers a feeling of accomplishment and valuable exposure.”

“The twenty-five dollar ($25) “Movie Watcher” pass is an excellent value,” continued, Cook, “You can spent the entire day at the movies and receive a medium popcorn and medium soft drink for one low price.”  Guest speakers include, Glenn Morshower from the Fox TV series “24” and director, Griff Furst of the film “Swamp Shark.”

Date:     September 2-5, 2011 (Labor Day weekend)

Place:   West Orange 5 Cinemas (McGuire & Route #50) in Ocoee, Florida

Tickets: Movie Watcher (All Day) Pass = $25 (Includes medium popcorn and medium soft drink)

Single movie tickets = $10

Information:  www.CentralFloridaFilmFestival.com


Check Out Escape 2 New York Festival This Weekend

 

Let’s get some more festival madness out of the way, shall we? Starting with Southampton’s Escape 2 New York coming up this weekend. Another brain-child from the creator of The Secret Garden Party UK, Freddy Fellowes,  Escape touts itself as being not your average music festival. It seems up to the boast with a pretty solid line-up of musical acts as well as some out of the ordinary tricks hidden up it’s fancy sleeve: everything from massive brunches to cool art installations. Read on for more info …

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‘Deathly Hallows’ Composer Alexandre Desplat on the Final Score

 

If you have seen the superb final installments of the Harry Potter series, The Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and  2 (and who hasn’t by now, seriously), you already know how seamlessly composer Alexandre Desplat’s (The King’s Speech, Twilight: New Moon, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) beautiful scores fuse with and bolster each films’ stunning visuals.

Now here’s your opportunity to learn how he managed to produce two of the best scores in the popular film series’ history. Read our interview below for an in depth look at the composer’s creative process as well as his thoughts on the finished product …

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Beer-Soaked & Sweatin’ It Out at the Village Voice 4Knots Music Fest

 

[In case you missed it] … Every summer for ten years straight, The Village Voice has tossed New York a golden indie-rock bone with its popular (not a dirty word in this case) Siren Music Festival showcasing a well-curated roster of artists. This year they decided to pull a switch-a-roo, doing away with Coney Island’s Siren to debut Manhattan’s 4Knots Music Festival – a showcase with basically the same vibe as before, only written in a different font and held at a better location. Land ahead…

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An Interview with the Cast of Torchwood

A hugely successful British import that’s creating quite a buzz, Torchwood hit American shores with a bigger budget, lots of action and just the right blend of humor and romance. In this cast interview, Torchwood newbies and regulars express their thoughts about their characters and what excites them about the amped-up series everyone’s talking about.

Gwen is such a complex character. How will she change?

Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper): She changes in every episode. She’s got a new threat, a new man to fight.  She changes all the time. She adapts all the time. She’s unstoppable. She’s so militant, so driven.

Do you have a direction that you want your character to go?

EM: Well, not that it would mean anything, but Gwen is going in the direction that I love to play. I love the action and her witty-ness. I could never come up with a better idea than the writers. I mean, I could say something, but it would be so lame. So, she’s going in the right direction. With all the fighting that Gwen does, my friends are starting to call me Kung Fu Cooper.

The action and martial arts are great. Do you have a stunt double for the fight scenes?

EM: Oh, I do. And she probably hates my guts. At the end, she comes in and gets all done up and she does the stunt. But I do all the fight scenes myself. Their staff is great. They’ll go through the fight scenes with me. It’s like a choreographed dance. I do all of it. I love it.

Did you go through any martial arts training?

EM: I’ve always done that sort of thing. I started boxing at a young age. You get taught stagecraft combat. Some people can do it, others can’t. If I thought for one minute that I was really taking a chance in doing something, that I’d risk breaking my neck, I’d tell the stunt double, okay, you can take over from here.  There are so many great fight scenes coming up. I can’t wait for you to see them. Actually, there’s one scene where my stunt double smashes through a wall and into a shop. They wouldn’t let me do that one.

Will Esther’s character grow in the CIA?

Alexa Havins (Esther Drummond): She changes drastically. She’s the character that changes the most and grows the most. She’s a little meek and by-the-book. And we all know that you can’t do that with Torchwood. When you’re out there, there are no rules. It’s crazy. It’s dangerous and it’s raw and real. You’ll see an emotional growth and a physical growth with Esther.

What’s going to happen to Esther romantically?

ED: She wants a little Mekhi in her life. You’ll see that in the first couple of episodes–he’s rough, emotionally shut off from the world and he’s focused on work. So she’s trying to get through, “knocking at the door.” You’ll see their relationship develop but it kind of takes a turn, so it develops in a different direction. The biggest relationship is with Captain Jack and Gwen. They [writers] really take her under their wing and develop that.

Do you work with the writers on the script?

ED: No, we don’t. We talk. And say, “wouldn’t it be great.” But the writers are so darn good. Every script you get is great. They put so much time and thought into story development. Some ideas have been bounced around for years–like the Miracle Day concept. Russell [Davies] is a brilliant storyteller and he brings in Jane [Espenson]. I did sit down with them and they said this is kind of where we are and this is where we want Esther to go.  It was a really strong place for her. She’s initially a little nervous, a little out of her element. But she has a fun place to go. It’s a good experience.

Your character is perhaps the most fascinating. What’s his journey?

Bill Pullman (Oswald Danes): Well, he’s trying not to go to Hell.  He’s got a great journey and I think it comes from Russell’s sense of humanity, which never abandons characters. He’s ready for any character to take surprising moves. Russell is always appreciative of his audience.  But he doesn’t want to be told what to write or how to tell a story. And I think there’s a kind of mischief in him that wants to set up an expectation and then turn it around and around again. Some of that is just good storytelling. And some of it is just heh, heh, heh!

How did you prepare to play such a creepy guy?

BP: You know actors. That’s kind of the gift you get, to go off and build a separate reality. I have always found that sometimes clearly delineated characters are the easiest to do–rather than, like, a male lead in a romantic comedy, which is the hardest thing to prepare for. Oswald is great because you got stuff to read, you got YouTube, and you got your own time alone. You know you’re going to a place that’s different from yourself, so you give yourself the time to separate from the father, the check writer, the kid’s school chauffer. So you go, “okay, I got some work to do. I’m going to be away for three hours now.” It’s like a joy. I love getting a job because it’s like, I don’t have to figure out how to fix that tractor anymore.

We’re already seeing changes in Rex. Where’s your character going this season?

Mekhi Phifer (Rex Matheson): What’s great about playing a strong character like Rex– who’s thrown into this Torchwood world–is the arc that I get to play. He’s hard edged and a little set in his ways, and he can be a bit abrasive at times, but once he really realizes–and Torchwood realizes–that we need each other, you start to see the change in him. We peel back his layers like an onion and you begin to see what makes him tick. We get a glimpse of what his family life was like and what his lifestyle was like. So he’s going places. It’s a really good journey.

Did you do some background research on the CIA to get up to speed on how they operate?

MP: You know, it didn’t really require that much background work, although I did my own personal research on the Internet. On my last show, I got to play an FBI agent, so I worked with the FBI. I’m also a big espionage film buff. I’ve seen a lot of movies about the CIA and what they go through. But the show is really character driven rather than procedural driven. So we don’t have to be so locked into procedure. And the CIA is more unorthodox, not like the FBI who wear suits and ties. The CIA get to wear whatever they need to blend in to do their job efficiently, so it changes to whatever’s on the page.

Do you like the humor in the show?

MP: I love it. It’s not slapstick. It’s borne out of real situations.

Interview with the Cast of Spartacus: Vengeance

The epic story of Spartacus continues in Season 3 with rich storytelling, stunning visuals and realistic gladiatorial combat unlike anything seen on TV. Australian actor Liam McIntyre takes over the role as the fierce Thracian warrior in Spartacus: Vengeance.  The part of Spartacus was played in the first season by acclaimed Andy Whitfield, who was forced to leave the show due to health issues. In this interview, cast members and Executive Producer Steven S. DeKnight reveal their passion and emotional investment in the series that has captivated so many fans.

The producers have sworn you to secrecy. That said, where do you hope Gannicus will go? What’s his journey?

Dustin Clare (Gannicus): He’s pretty solo, really. He’s a journeyman. He continues to be a man of his own world. He’s got a pack on his back and he gets to make his own decisions when we find him again.  He doesn’t have anyone to answer to. He’s not controlled by the caste structure of the ludus. He’s very much a master of his own destiny.

You put a challenge out to Crixus. Will you be running into him? Or at least looking for him?

DC: He’s going to run into everyone again.  He’ll be visiting new characters. He definitely has relationships that he’ll have to re-establish and re-connect with. We also see a change in the man, a change from where we saw him in the prequel. He hasn’t exactly been away studying how to be a hairdresser. He’s been changing and growing. We’ll see a different man. A man who has a lot of skeletons to deal with. I’m excited to see where the writer’s will be taking the character.  I like to keep the audience guessing as to where he’s going and where he’s coming from.  Some of his foibles will remain intact, but after 5 years, we’ll be seeing a change in Gannicus.

Will Gannicus have a love interest? Will he find someone?

DC: I think Gannicus always has love interests.

Will he be fighting for pay?  How will he survive?

DC: Good question. Just scraps, basically. He’ll live off the earth.

What will happen to Lucretia?

Steven S. DeKnight: She’ll be introduced in episode one. You’ll get an inkling of what’s going on with her.  How she survived the stabbing, you won’t know right off, but it will be explained.

Will the baby Survive?

SD: I can’t tell you that. But it’s one of my favorite story lines.

What was your boot camp like?

Liam McIntyre (Spartacus): It’s agony, obviously. That’s kind of a prerequisite. But because I come from a place where the last film I did, I had to lose weight and get in shape, by the time the official boot camp came up, I’d already done like four months of boot camp, so I was like, I’m feeling up to this. It’s exciting, too, to be able to keep up with the grueling routine. It was very demanding.

Where do you hope your character will go?

LM: The beauty of this is that it’s kind of a vaguely pre-written history with enough dot, dot, dots to make it as exciting as you want it to be. So, I’ve got no complaints with the way the history goes. I think leading a massive army is a pretty exciting job.

Lucretia took a sword in the abdomen the last time we saw her. Are you hoping her unborn child will live?

Lucy Lawless (Lucretia): I’m hoping for that, yes. I don’t know how that’s going to go down.  If the baby dies, she would have lost the promise of a nuclear family. She would have lost all support, all male support. She would have had nothing in ancient Rome.  Without a man to prop her up, she would have no money, no talent. So what’s she going to do to survive? I don’t know. And raising that kid. Whew!

Now that you and Ilithyia (Viva Bianca) have become such close friends, will you be looking her up?

LL: Close? Et tu Brutus. Our relationship becomes much more tangled. I love that Viva Bianca is the actress playing Ilithyia. She’s a great colleague and a great acting partner. We like to mess with the audience’s mind. You’ll get to see more of her. The episode is called Angel and my character has a lot of payback to dish out.

You have a family. Do your kids watch the show?

LL: All of my children have survived to at least 8 years old and they’ve never seen the show. One of my kids loves horror–the youngest one. He can totally handle those types of shows. My daughter, who is now 12 years old, works on the show.

Can you give us any clues about Lucretia’s romance in the new season?

LL: All I can tell is that she continues to use sex as a weapon.

You have a score to settle with Gannicus. Will you run into each other?

Manu Bennett (Crixus): Words were exchanged at the end of the prequel along the lines of “We’ve not yet proved ourselves in proper challenge.”  There’s a lot of scores to settle in the show. I don’t think I’d place that one as the most important. It’s a big possibility. All the characters that the fans expect to see will show up at some point. Even some characters they don’t expect to see, like Lucretia.  The season’s called Vengeance, so that’s where a lot more of the energy lies. I don’t have vengeance against Gannicus, necessarily, but I do have an eagerness to test my mettle against him. This season is definitely more about retribution–on both ends.  The Romans want vengeance against us for staining their pride, and we’re now free men with swords in our hands. That said, we’re in the middle of the enemy’s country. If they can find us, we’ll take our vengeance upon them. There are a lot of things that are plotted through the series so far that give us even more reason to want vengeance. It’s a good title for this season.

Will your character change this season?

MB: I’ve always tried to change my character all of the time. One of the things I’m always thankful for as an actor in portraying Crixus is that he’s always changing. He always has to confront something—either of the heart or a physical challenge or the darkness. There are things in the mix going on that make this season for me especially challenging. Things about manhood and leadership that keep changing my character. But I think that’s what makes our show interesting for the audience. The stagnation of potentially one set, one character, one neighborhood, is not the case with our show. One of the great things about this season is that instead of being shot around the ludus and the fighting arenas, we actually go out in the real world. And one of the biggest things we were discussing was exactly what that world would look like. On a television budget, can you do it, can you have a great result? Episode one of season one was pretty challenging for our creative team because they had to start off with nothing and we got a lot of criticism about how that world looked a bit unreal. But in season three, you’ll see an aerial shot of the mines. It looks like the diamond mines in Africa. And it’s so real, we wondered how we did it on our budget. The world that we’re in looks amazing. The forests, mountains, valleys, rivers, seaside villages, everything looks amazing.

Will you run into Ashur (Nick Tarabay)? You didn’t exactly leave on the best of terms.

MB: Well, he didn’t die. He’s a sneaky bugger. Everyone knows he’s going to show up at some point. It’s called Vengeance.