Nazneen Contractor may not yet be a household name, but trust us, she's heading for stardom at warp speed.
A veteran of stage and screen, as well as a formidable dancer, the actress is familiar from her performances on television series such as Rules of Engagement, The Border, and Last Resort. She is perhaps best known, however, for her more-than-meets-the-eye role as Kayla Hassan on the eighth season of Fox's 24.
With Star Trek Into Darkness, Contractor is making her debut appearance in a massive franchise blockbuster. Now playing in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D nationwide, the follow-up to the 2009 reboot returns director J.J. Abrams to the series. The secretive story finds an act of terrorism rocking the Federation from within Starfleet itself. When the U.S.S. Enterprise is tasked with capturing the culprit, it's a quest that will test Captain Kirk and potentially cost him his crew.
Tom Cruise has saved the planet onscreen a time or two, but in Oblivion, hitting theaters this Friday, the battle for Earth ended decades ago.
A rare event movie that's also an original work of science fiction, Oblivion takes place sixty years after a massive war with alien invaders left humanity intact, but utterly devastated Earth.
While most of the species has departed for greener pastures elsewhere in the solar system, Jack Harper is tasked with repairing the high tech drones that protect the last of the planet's resources from remaining aliens called "Scavs." After years of lonely work on Earth, Harper and his partner Victoria are in the final weeks of their assignment when a series of incidents – an encounter with creatures on the surface and the crash of a space capsule carrying a beautiful woman who seems to know Harper – upend his notions of himself and the universe.
The film is the sophomore feature for director Joseph Kosinski, who holds the title of highest-grossing first-time director thanks to Tron: Legacy. Cruise (Jack Reacher) stars as Jack Harper, and the supporting cast includes Morgan Freeman (Olympus Has Fallen), Olga Kurylenko (To The Wonder), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (HBO's Game of Thrones), and Zoe Bell (Death Proof).
IAR was among the outlets present on the Universal lot to take a peek at some of Oblivion's impeccably designed hardware and speak to the creative figures behind the film. Kosinski, Kurylenko, and Freeman were all on hand to discuss the origins of Oblivion, the attraction of the project, crafting original sci-fi, working with Tom Cruise, building up a sense of mystery, participating in onscreen action, and making movies that leave the audience talking.
42, hitting theaters nationwide this Friday, April 12th, is a film that not only presents a historical story with vitality and emotion, but it is a cinematic testament to real life courage and true heroism.
There's no shortage of heroes at our multiplexes, but more often than not our onscreen heroes wear spandex costumes and perform acts of elaborate, visual effects-aided derring-do.
The new drama 42 focuses on the heroism of Jackie Robinson, who in 1947 broke the color barrier, becoming the first African American to play Major League Baseball. 42 isn't simply a biopic tracing Robinson's life story, however. It takes place over several years and focuses on both Robinson and Branch Rickey, the General Manager with the vision and wherewithal to sign Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Facing opposition and entrenched racism from the public, the press, and even other players, Number 42 and the coach met their critics with grace, humility, talent, and endurance. In the process, the two men changed not just the game, but the country.
Chadwick Boseman (TV's Persons Unknown and Lincoln Heights) stars as Jackie Robinson, with Harrison Ford (Raiders of the Lost Ark) as Branch Rickey. Oscar-winning LA Confidential screenwriter Brian Helgeland (A Knight's Tale, Payback) directs the film from his own script.
At the Los Angeles press day for 42, Boseman, Ford, and Helgeland were all hand to share their enthusiasm for the film. All three members of this trio were happy to discuss the real life history, how 42 developed at Legendary Pictures, casting Boseman in the role of a lifetime, playing against a star of Ford's caliber, and collaborating with Rachel Robinson.
For his latest feature, this Friday's Tyler Perry's Temptation, writer-director-producer Tyler Perry opts not to star.
The prolific filmmaker hangs up his Madea wig and fake bosoms for this new film, the first of his efforts in which he hasn't appeared since 2010's For Colored Girls. In Perry's films, the presence of the chainsaw-wielding sassy elderly woman frequently offsets heavy drama with the antics of his most famous creation.
Tyler Perry's Temptation, however, is concerned principally with morality and straightforward drama. Based on his own play Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, Temptation concerns Judith, a levelheaded Washington D.C. marriage counselor who has long been married to her reliable childhood sweetheart. When Harley, the wealthy head of a social media empire, enters her office, however, Judith is unprepared for his charms. With his decadent lifestyle of drugs and private jets, Harley sets about seducing Judith, inducting her into his souped-up world regardless of the consequences, which prove devastating for Judith.
Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Television's Friday Night Lights) stars as Judith, with Robbie Jones (Hurricane Season) as Harley and Lance Gross (Meet the Browns) as Judith's husband Brice. The supporting cast also includes Vanessa Williams (Television's Desperate Housewives), Ella Joyce (Our Family Wedding), Brandy Norwood (Television's The Game), and Kim Kardashian (Television's Keeping Up With the Kardashians).
At the Los Angeles press day for Tyler Perry's Temptation, Perry himself spoke with a group of entertainment journalists from around the world. IAR was on hand to hear Perry discuss his decision not star, the film's exploration of morality, his own regrets, the depiction of drug use and sex, working with Kardashian, marriage, and what's next.
This Friday, March 29th, another Stephenie Meyer novel is coming to the screen, but this one involves no sparkly vampires or shirtless werewolves. An adaptation of Meyer's 2008 bestseller, The Host leaves behind the supernatural trappings of the Twilight franchise, capturing instead the author's first science fiction tale.
The Host takes place in the future, after an invasion by incorporeal body-snatching extraterrestrials known as "Souls." These parasitic creatures have taken over the minds of almost every person on Earth, creating a homogenized worldwide culture. But small pockets of humanity remain uninfected, acting as a resistance force against the invaders.
When Melanie Stryder, one of the few humans left, is captured by the Souls, she's infected with an all-star Soul in order to locate and snuff out the resistance. This Soul, known alternately as The Wanderer and Wanda, is overwhelmed by the will and emotions of Melanie, however, and soon finds itself empathizing with its host, seeking out Stryder's loved ones in order to connect with them rather than destroy them.
Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, The Lovely Bones, Atonement) stars as Melanie Stryder, with Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds, National Treasure) as the villain, a determined, authoritarian Soul known only as The Seeker. Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, Lord of War, In Time), meanwhile, serves as both writer and director of this new adaptation.
At the Los Angeles press day for The Host, IAR was on hand to sit down with the trio for a series of roundtable interviews. Andrew Niccol, Saorise Ronan, and Diane Kruger all enthusiastically discussed adapting the source material, collaborating with Meyer, casting, the difficulties of a hero with such internal conflict, bringing the novel's characters to the screen, and the possibility returning for a sequel.
Olympus Has Fallen remedies a longstanding action movie omission.
In the decades since Die Hard, audiences have been treated to seemingly every possible "Die Hard in a novel setting" film, from hockey rinks to Air Force One. While the President's airborne ride has been hijacked onscreen before, somehow the White House has managed to evade cinematic siege.
That changes this Friday, March 22nd, when Olympus Has Fallen bringing thunderous action to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Gerard Butler (300) stars in the film as Mike Banning, a Secret Service agent who has resigned himself to a desk job after disappointing President Benjamin Asher, played by Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight). When a highly coordinated attack by a team of North Korean terrorists places the White House under their control and results in the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State being taken hostage, Banning is the only man who can save the day from the inside.
While Banning beats his way through bad guys, Speaker of the House Trumbull, played by Morgan Freeman (Driving Miss Daisy), must take the reins of the nation and lead it through a struggle that brings the entire world to edge of annihilation.
Butler and Freeman – who lead an all-star cast that also boasts Eckhart, Angela Bassett (Malcolm X), Rick Yune (Die Another Day), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Robert Forster (Jackie Brown), Dylan McDermott (The Campaign), Cole Hauser (Good Will Hunting), and Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black) – were on hand for the Los Angeles press day promoting Olympus Has Fallen, as was IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick, along with several other members of the press. The two actors enthusiastically discussed explosions, presidential acting, humidity, researching roles, the ensemble cast, and expressing character through action.
It's been eight years since Sin City set a new standard for fidelity to source material in a comic book adaptation, essentially using Frank Miller's Dark Horse comic as storyboards. Since then, co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Miller have promised a sequel. For years, that sequel looked like a pipe dream.
But Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is currently scheduled to hit theaters in 2D and 3D on October 4th.
When the follow-up finally came together last year, Rosario Dawson was one of the first Sin City actors to enthusiastically announce her renewed participation. Now that she has completed her work on Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Dawson is talking exclusively to IAR about playing Gail again after such a long break, promising that the return to Basin City will be "incredible."
With its time-travel story allowing two generations of mutants to appear together in the same film, next year's X-Men: Days of Future Past has inspired a tremendous amount of anticipation, chatter, and hearsay well before a frame of film has been shot.
Today, though, we have an exclusive update from no less a source than James McAvoy, who reprises his role as the younger Professor Charles Xavier in the sequel, scheduled for nationwide release on July 18, 2014. The actor confirmed that he has read finally read the top-secret screenplay and promised that the film will provide fans with "something different, new, and unexpected."
In Carter Beats the Devil, his unimpeachable novel about a magician in the early Twentieth Century, author Glen David Gold cautioned, "Tragedies with happy endings. Never underestimate them."
In The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, hitting theaters this Friday, March 15th, the tragedy is the eponymous illusionist's success.
Struck by a pure love for the wonders of professional magic as a youngster, Burt Wonderstone recruits his best friend to be Anton Marvelton, his sidekick in a magic act built on pure enthusiasm and childlike wonder. More than three decades later, Wonderstone and Marvelton are the biggest magic act on the Las Vegas strip, and Wonderstone has grown arrogant, jaded, and miserable. When Steve Gray, a hipper street magician, breezes into town and usurps the duo, however, Wonderstone must rediscover his love of illusion in order to redeem himself and bring crowds back to his act.
Steve Carell (The 40 Year Virgin, Crazy, Stupid, Love.) stars as Wonderstone, with Steve Buscemi (Fargo) as Marvelton, Jim Carrey (Dumb & Dumber) as Gray, Olivia Wilde (TRON: Legacy) as Wonderstone's assistant Jane, and Alan Arkin (Argo) as Rance Holloway, a legendary magician who inspired Burt. The supporting cast also includes James Gandolfini (Zero Dark Thirty), Brad Garrett (TV's Everybody Loves Raymond), Gillian Jacobs (TV's Community), and Jay Mohr (Street Kings).
Appropriately enough, the press day for The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was held in the air-conditioned neon oasis of Las Vegas, where stars Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, and Steve Buscemi were eager to talk up their new comedy. The trio discussed building their outrageous yet human characters, comedy versus drama, the similarities between magicians and actors, working with David Copperfield, filming on location in Vegas, and Carrey's paunch, which he calls "Mr. Cuddly."
Tuesday, March 12th, Ang Lee’s visually breathtaking Life of Pi arrives on Blu-ray 3D, Bu-ray, and DVD with a number of special features that explore the making of this astonishing film. Life of Pi focuses of Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma), a young man who survives a tragic disaster at sea and is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While marooned on a lifeboat, he forms an amazing and unexpected connection with the ship’s only other survivor — a fearsome Bengal tiger.
Life of Pi received the most awards for a single film at the Academy Awards this year including best director, cinematography, visual effects, and musical score. I recently had the chance to be amongst the first members of the press to speak with Ang Lee since his film won big at the Oscars. Lee was joined by Life of Pi’s editor, Tim Squyres (Gosford Park, The Ice Storm), and screenwriter, David Magee (Finding Neverland), at the Crosby Hotel in New York City to promote the Blu-ray/DVD release. The filmmakers presented deleted scenes that will be available on the Blu-ray/DVD and discussed the extensive pre-production process of the film.