‘Split’ brings M. Night Shyamalan back to fine form: critics

With a 78 percent Fresh rating at reviews-aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, Universal Pictures’ new suspense thriller Split starring James McAvoy has undeniably marked the official comeback story of filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan.

As critic John DeFore writes in The Hollywood Reporter, “genre fans should embrace what is arguably the director’s most satisfying picture since The Sixth Sense. In some quarters, it will generate talk of a comeback for a filmmaker who has suffered both critical drubbing and box-office humiliation over the past decade.”

Peter Debruge agrees in his review in Variety. He shares, Spit is “A welcome return to form from Shyamalan whose unhinged new mind-bender is a worthy extension of his early work.

“Rest assured, there are plenty of proper twists to follow, none more unexpected than the fact that Shyamalan himself has managed to get his groove back after a slew of increasingly atrocious misfires,” Debruge continues. “To be fair, it’s hard to imagine any writer/director sustaining a career based almost entirely on surprising audiences. And though he lost us for a while there, by trading on ingenuity rather than big-budget special effects, Shyamalan has created a tense, frequently outrageous companion piece to one of his earliest and best movies.

“Ultimately, Split belongs to McAvoy, who has ample scenery to chew, but doesn’t stop there — he practically swallows the camera with his tiger-like teeth. With his head shaved, the actor conveys his transformations through body language, facial expression, and accent…While Shyamalan is basically making up rules for dissociative identity disorder as he goes along, the condition has afforded McAvoy the role of his career.”

Film reviewer Jordan Hoffman of The Guardian, assures, “It’s important to say that Split doesn’t hinge on a twist ending. It is a full and satisfying film that, if you stopped watching 18 seconds before the conclusion, would still suit as a juicy bit of smart horror.”

Finally, Haley Foutch of Collider, declares, “Ladies and gentlemen, M. Night Shyamalan has officially caught his second wind. Last year’s The Visit surprised audiences with a delightfully twisted spin and with Split, Shyamalan has reaffirmed his status as B-Movie extraordinaire.”

In Split, though Kevin (James McAvoy) has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him—as well as everyone around him—as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

Split reunites Shyamalan with producer Jason Blum, who produced the filmmaker’s latest commercial and critical success, The Visit.

Opening across the Philippines on January 18, 2017, Split is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

GUIDE: Spring Film Festival 2017

The 11th Spring Film Festival will run from January 25 to 29 at the Shang Cineplex, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, EDSA cor. Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City.

Admission

Admission is FREE on a first-come, first-served basis. There will be a dedicated queue beside the ticket booth of the cineplex for the event. A separate queue will be provided to the Senior Citizens and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).

Screening Schedules

Tickets are distributed for each film 30 minutes before every screening. Schedules are subject to change without prior notice. Please check the cinema on the day of visit.

spring-film-festival-2017-schedule

Featured Films

Six films are featured in this year’s Spring Film Festival. Read on for their synopses and trailers.

spring-film-festival-2017-features


A Complicated Story

A young woman who has been hired to be a surrogate mother is kept in a private apartment with an assistant in order to keep the parents’ identities secret. When the contract is terminated abruptly, she must make several life-altering decisions.


Book of Love / Finding Mr. Right 2

Through happenstance, a gambler in Macau and a real estate agent in California begin exchanging letters.


Everybody’s Fine

Guan goes to visit all four of his children when they cancel their yearly visit.


Horseplay

The reporter, the police and the thief must work together to find the valuable ancient artifact, “Horseplay”.


Red Amnesia

A widow cares for her grown sons and elderly mother, despite their efforts to get her to stop.


Wolf Totem

During China’s Cultural Revolution, a young urban student is sent to live with Mongolian herders, where he adopts a wolf cub.


Other Activities

Jan 25 • Gala Night at the Shangri-La Atrium
Jan 25-31 • Chinese Painting Exhibit
Jan 28 • Chinese Music Concert
Jan 29 • Chinese Pastel Painting Workshop


This event is made presented by Ateneo de Manila University Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies, together with Film Development Council of the Philippines and Credit Suisse, and with the Cooperation of Ateneo Celadon and Shangri-La Plaza.

WATCH: First trailer for buddy comedy ‘Chips’ hits the road

Dax Shepard (TV’s Parenthood) and Michael Peña (The Martian, Ant-Man) star in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action comedy CHiPs. Shepard also directs from a script he penned based on the characters from the popular ‘70s television series created by Rick Rosner.

Watch the film’s first trailer below that’s just been released by Warner Bros.

Jon Baker (Shepard) and Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (Peña) have just joined the California Highway Patrol (CHP) in Los Angeles but for very different reasons. Baker is a beaten up pro motorbiker trying to put his life and marriage back together. Poncherello is a cocky undercover Federal agent investigating a multi-million dollar heist that may be an inside job—inside the CHP.

The inexperienced rookie and hardened pro are teamed together, but clash more than click, so kickstarting a partnership is easier said than done. But with Baker’s bike skills combined with Ponch’s street savvy it might just work…if they don’t drive each other crazy along the way.

Also starring are Rosa Salazar (Insurgent), Adam Brody (Think Like a Man Too), Kristen Bell (Frozen), and Vincent D’Onofrio (Jurassic World).

Opening across the Philippines on Thursday, March 23, 2017, “CHiPs” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company.

‘Godzilla’ meets ‘The Ring’ in new monster movie ‘Gremlin’

Emmy Award-winning director, Ryan Bellgardt’s (Army of Frankenstein) upcoming creature feature Gremlin has invaded Philippine cinemas after its premiere at the 2016 American Film Market in Santa Monica last month.

Described as Godzilla meets The Ring, Gremlin boasts top of the line computer generated effects from some of the best in the game, as well as vibrant, slick direction from Bellgardt from an original story.

High Octane Pictures President, Galen Christy says, “We are so proud to be working with Ryan and his incredible team again on bringing Gremlin to the marketplace. This film is so unique and wild that I know viewers are going to go insane for it as there’s truly nothing like it out there!”

Four years after Army of Frankensteins, and six after his directorial debut with the TV Movie Two Movie Guys’ Intergalactic Holiday Showdown, director Ryan Bellgardt is back at what he does best, working on a horror film. He’s also the President and Creative Director of Boiling Point Media, a production company based out of Oklahoma City. He’s an Emmy winning director with many local television, music video and corporate video credits, and in 2012, he co-founded Six Stitches Entertainmnt, in association with Boiling Point Media, and with filmmakers Josh McKamie and Andy Swanson. Together, they produced their first full length feature film “Army of Frankensteins.”

Two years after the murder of his 10-year-old son, Adam Thatcher receives a mysterious box from a relative containing a terrible secret, a creature that will brutally kill everyone he cares about one by one.

The only way to release himself from the curse is to give the box to someone he loves, continuing the never ending circulation of this ancient evil. As the ominous timer on the box counts down to its end, Adam can only imagine the horrors that await. Does he give the box away to save his family, or face his own demise while unleashing a powerful terror on the rest of humanity? He can’t destroy it. He can’t escape it. He can only give it to someone he loves.

“Gremlin” is now playing in Philippine cinemas, rated R-13 by the MTRCB and locally distributed by Rafaella Films International.

Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan topbill animated film ‘Ballerina’

Ballerina is a 3D computer-animated musical fantasy adventure about following your dreams, with an all-star voice cast that includes Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan, Maddie Ziegler and Carly Rae Jepsen, directed by Eric Summer.

Paris, 1884. A recently orphaned girl arrives in Paris from Brittany. Felicie Milliner is 11 and has no money but one big, passionate dream: to become a dancer. Dancing is what makes her feel alive and connects her to her late parents. With nothing left to lose, Felicie takes a big risk: she “borrows” a spoiled brat’s identity and enters the Opera Ballet School. But how long can she be someone else? Mentored by the tough and mysterious cleaner, Odette, Felicie learns that talent is not enough – it takes hard work to be better than her ruthless, conniving fellow students. That and friendship. And when Felicie meets the inventive, exhausting and charismatic Victor she gets a soul mate. He also has a dream: becoming a famous inventor. Together, despite their constant banter, they both encourage each other to reach for the stars. After losing herself on the way, Felicie will emerge with a new found self-belief, love and a new home. She will also be a true ballerina.

Opening across the Philippines on January 18, 2017, Ballerina is released and distributed by Captive Cinema.

‘Fifty Shades Darker’ comes out with character banners

One of the big screen’s most tempestous couples – Anastasia and Christian – are featured in separate character banners for Universal Pictures hotly anticipated romantic thriller Fifty Shades Darker. Hers has the tagline, “No more rules.” His says “No more secrets.”

Check out the banners below and watch Fifty Shades Darker in Philippine cinemas starting February 8, 2017.

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson return as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades Darker, the second chapter based on the worldwide bestselling Fifty Shades phenomenon. Expanding upon events set in motion in 2015’s blockbuster film that grossed more than $560 million globally, the new installment arrives for Valentine’s Day and invites you to slip into something a shade darker.

When a wounded Christian Grey tries to entice a cautious Ana Steele back into his life, she demands a new arrangement before she will give him another chance. As the two begin to build trust and find stability, shadowy figures from Christian’s past start to circle the couple, determined to destroy their hopes for a future together.

Also returning from Fifty Shades of Grey are Academy Award® winner Marcia Gay Harden, Jennifer Ehle, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Victor Rasuk, Eloise Mumford and Max Martini, who are joined for the first time by Oscar® winner Kim Basinger, Hugh Dancy, Bella Heathcote and Eric Johnson.

“Fifty Shades Darker” is directed by James Foley (Fear, House of Cards) and once again produced by Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti and Marcus Viscidi, alongside E L James, the creator of the culture-spanning blockbuster series. The screenplay is by Niall Leonard, based on the book by James.

“Fifty Shades Darker” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’ caps biggest game-based film franchise

Writer, director, producer and franchise veteran Paul W.S. Anderson returns to helm Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, the sixth and final installment in the most successful video game film franchise ever.

The improbable beginning of Paul W.S. Anderson’s fantastically successful, franchised motion picture adaptation of the Resident Evil video game reads like a Hollywood ending. Producer, Jeremy Bolt, who has worked with Anderson for 25 years and including all the Resident Evil editions, recalls, “Back in 2002 we had just made a movie for Warner Bros. called Soldiers, which did not perform as well as we’d hoped. So I went back to England and made a couple of small films, and Paul holed up in his house in Venice Beach where he played video games for 6 months. Out of the blue he called to say ‘I’ve been playing the game Resident Evil and we have got to get the film rights.”

Since then, Resident Evil has grown to become one of the most successful game-to-movie franchises in the history of cinema, the first five installments in the franchise having grossed in excess of $1 billion worldwide and earning consistent No. 1 openings at the box-office. Thrilling fans of Capcom’s original video game and action/sci-fi movie audiences alike, the movie franchise has built up a hardcore fan base in the millions and reputation of its own over the 14 years that it has enthralled audiences with cutting edge action and a continually novel approach to the sci-fi/action genre.

Milla Jovovich stars in Screen Gems’ RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER.

Bolt opines about the global success of the series. “I think it’s the combination of style action and horror. It isn’t a straight horror movie and it isn’t a traditional zombie movie. It has a fantastical, and Sci-Fi element. I think Paul introducing the character of Alice made it different to the game so that when you go see one of these movies you don’t just have to be a fan of the game to enjoy it, you get something extra which is the character of Alice. I think also we have a good villain in the evil and all-powerful Umbrella Corporation, it’s always a good villain to have that and totally relatable in the modern world.”

Jovovich shares her ideas as to why audiences have been so enthralled with Resident Evil, “I like to believe that people respond to honesty, passion and fun. When we started we didn’t expect this Resident Evil movie to become a franchise, we did it because we loved the video game. Every film has become a labor of love and fun, experiencing more and more in this crazy, amazing, sci-fi world. I think everybody involved just really has a great time doing it. I think audiences respond to that energy and enthusiasm.”

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter picks up immediately after the events in Resident Evil: Retribution, in which Alice is the only survivor of what was meant to be humanity’s final stand against the undead. Now, she must return to where the nightmare began – The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse.

Director Paul W.S. Anderson on the set of Screen Gems' RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson on the set of Screen Gems’ RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER.

Among the diverse group of acting talent are returning stars, Milla Jovovich reprising her starring role as Alice, Ali Larter (Resident Evil: Afterlife), as Claire Redfield, Shawn Roberts (Resident Evil: Afterlife), as Albert Wesker, and Iain Glen (Game of Thrones, Resident Evil: Extinction) in the role of Dr. Alexander Isaacs, and newcomers to the franchise include Ruby Rose (xXx: Return of Xander Cage), Irish actor Eoin Macken (The Night Shift), Japanese television personality and model, Rola, as Cobalt, South Korean actor, Lee Joon-Gi (My Girl) as Commando, British actor, Fraser James (Law & Order), with Latin American actor, William Levy (Addicted).

Opening across the Philippines on February 1, 2017, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is distributed by Columbia Pictures, the local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ assembles main characters for payoff poster

Disney has just unveiled the main poster art for Beauty and the Beast, showcasing the principal cast. Check out the poster below and watch the film when it opens in the Philippines on March 15, 2017.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a live-action adaptation of the studio’s animated classic which refashions the classic characters from the tale as old as time for a contemporary audience, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs.

Beauty and the Beast is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince within.

The film stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Oscar® winner Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s eccentric, but lovable father; Josh Gad as Le Fou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Golden Globe® nominee Ewan McGregor as Lumière, the candelabra; Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as Cadenza, the harpsichord; Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, the feather duster; six-time Tony Award® winner Audra McDonald as Madame De Garderobe, the wardrobe; Hattie Morahan as Agathe, the enchantress; Nathan Mack as Chip, the teacup; Oscar nominee Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and two-time Academy Award® winner Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.

Directed by Oscar® winner Bill Condon based on the 1991 animated film, Beauty and the Beast is written by Evan Spiliotopoulos and Stephen Chbosky and Bill Condon and produced by Mandeville Films’ Academy Award® nominees David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman, with Emmy® winner Jeffrey Silver, Thomas Schumacher and Oscar nominee Don Hahn serving as executive producers. Eight-time Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the animated film, provides the score, which includes new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as three new songs written by Menken and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice.

Beauty and the Beast will be distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International. #BeOurGuestPH

‘Arrival’ gets nine British Academy Award nominations

Columbia Pictures’ provocative science-fiction thriller Arrival continues its illustrious awards season run as the Denis Villeneuve film has just scored nine British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director.

It also landed Best Adapted Screenplay nod for screenwriter Eric Heisserer and Best Actress for lead star Amy Adams.

arrival-movie-amy-adams

Rounding out the categories Arrival got nominated for are Music, Cinematography, Editing, Sound and Special Visual Effects. The winners will be known on February 12, 2017.

In Arrival, a mysterious spacecraft touches down across the globe, and an elite team – lead by expert linguist Louise Banks (Adams) – are brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers – and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.

Also starring Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker, Arrival is based upon the acclaimed short story by Ted Chiang titled Story of Your Life.

Opening across the Philippines on February 15, 2017, Arrival is distributed in the Philippines by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

James McAvoy amazes as man with multiple personalities in ‘Split’

Golden Globe Award-nominated actor James McAvoy won over global audiences with his critically acclaimed performances in Atonement, Wanted, X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Now, he stars in Universal Pictures’ new suspense thriller Split, an original film that delves into the mysterious recesses of one man’s fractured, gifted mind.

McAvoy stars as Kevin who has evidenced 23 personalities—each with unique physical attributes—to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), but there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Taylor-Joy), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him—as well as everyone around him—as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan felt there were only a handful of actors who could play the demanding role of a man with 23 personalities in Split. It was paramount for Shyamalan that Kevin’s personalities not be viewed as caricatures but as fleshed out personas that audiences would embrace with sympathy.

Shyamalan saw McAvoy as absolutely up for the challenge. “This is the most complex character I’ve ever written. I was thinking, ‘Does he understand what I’m asking him to do in this piece?’ And he did; I’ve never worked with an actor so fearless.”

McAvoy was immediately intrigued with the story’s many twists and turns. “I read the first 10 pages and thought, ‘Wow, what is this?’ Then I read the next 10 pages and thought, ‘What is that?’” he says. “It felt like I was being continually confronted with something completely different. That’s the joy of what Night does so well. He keeps an audience on their toes trying to figure out what the film is: Are we watching a thriller, a psychological drama, horror, sci-fi or something supernatural? And this film is all of those genres.”

Shyamalan and McAvoy worked closely to ensure the actor’s performance remained incredibly singular as he transformed into each role with authenticity. “Night’s demanding and almost forensic in what he wants you to do,” McAvoy says. “He has a very specific idea of what he wants in his mind, yet he’s extremely collaborative and giving.”

Changing colors and characters—sometimes within the same shot—was particularly demanding. “You hope the audience will buy you as one character,” McAvoy explains. “Then you need them to buy you as this next persona and make that transition interesting without alienating viewers.”

Still, the role presented the seasoned stage and screen actor with an extraordinary opportunity. “To be honest, I quite enjoy playing each character, because as an actor you rarely get the chance at this type of performance,” he says. “It’s quite exciting to radically change what you’re thinking, who you are and what makes you in a moment.”

“When you think about what James had to do in this film, it’s astonishing,” raves producer Jason Blum. “Not only was he seemingly effortless as he switching between alters on certain shooting days, he switched between them during certain scenes. You’re seeing an actor at the top of his game, and we were all awe-struck by what he managed to do as an extraordinarily disciplined actor. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I hope his performance receives the critical acclaim it deserves at the hands of Night’s deft direction.”

Opening across the Philippines on January 18, 2017, Split is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.