‘Inferno’ marks Robert Langdon trilogy for Ron Howard

Ron Howard has been the keeper of the cinematic legacy of Dan Brown’s best selling books for many years now – he made the hugely successful The Da Vinci Code back in 2006 followed, three years later, by Angels & Demons.

Each one, says Howard, has presented its own unique opportunities and the latest in the franchise – Columbia Pictures’ Inferno was, at least in that regard, exactly the same as its illustrious predecessors.

“These films are hard work,” he says. “And you feel a lot of responsibility because they’re books that people love. But you know, they really are thrilling life experiences.”

Inferno finds the famous symbologist (again played by Tom Hanks) on a trail of clues tied to the great Dante himself. When Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), a doctor he hopes will help him recover his memories. Together, they race across Europe and against the clock to stop a madman from unleashing a global virus that would wipe out half of the world’s population.

Inferno is the most visually stylistic film in the series so far, with a series of cryptic dream sequences that take audiences inside Langdon’s head and lend an entirely different feel than previous installments. That is precisely what draws director Ron Howard to this series – out of 23 feature films made over more than three decades as a director, the only sequels he has chosen to helm are Angels & Demons and now Inferno.

“There have been characters that I love as much as I love Robert Langdon, but I always want to push myself to do something different. It’s more interesting than repeating yourself,” Howard explains. “But that’s what’s so great about the movies based on Dan Brown’s books – each of them is so different, and he explores such different themes in each adventure. Inferno is the most stylistically different yet. With this series, I get to go back and revisit a character I love while continuing to push myself in new directions.”

In the film, Langdon must make sense of clues relating to Dante’s epic poem. Howard explains, “Langdon’s hallucinating mind is tormented by a man obsessed with Dante. He’s forced to pick up the pieces and make sense of this clue path that’s been laid before him.”

Inferno, says Howard, is a movie that will both entertain and provoke discussion. “The Dan Brown stories combine these button-pushing ideas that offer the audience two things; there’s the tempo, the pace, there’s the clue path and there’s this feeling that you’re going to have something to talk about when the movie is over.”

Opening across the Philippines on October 12, 2016, “Inferno” is distributed by Columbia Pictures in the Philippines, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

Luke Evans, Justin Theroux, Edgar Ramirez star in ‘The Girl on the Train’

Luke Evans (“Fast & Furious” franchise), Justin Theroux (“The Leftovers”) and Edgar Ramirez (“Deliver Us from Evil”) provide the masculine presence in the female-centric tale, “The Girl on the Train” from Paramount Pictures. The film also stars Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson and Haley Bennett.

Based on Paula Hawkins’ bestselling novel, “The Girl on the Train” is directed by Tate Taylor (“The Help”) and adapted for the screen by Erin Cressida Wilson. In the film, Rachel (Blunt), who is devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day, until one morning she sees something shocking happen there and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds.

To cast the two key male roles was just as crucial, according to producer Marc Platt. “It’s interesting to be involved in a film that’s so female-centric,” he says. “Usually, it’s the guys who are more complicated and then there’s the ‘girl’ role, and our challenge here was to develop characters that wouldn’t just be the ‘boy’ role in a film about the women. The story is also very much about the men.”

To play the role of Tom, a father caught between his new wife and an ex who is deteriorating into the madness of addiction, the filmmakers cast Justin Theroux, who can currently be seen starring in the hit series “The Leftovers.”

For Theroux, “The Girl on the Train” is all about appearances. He describes: “It’s set in this suburban place, just upstate, just outside of the city. So there is that picket-fence element to it, and wondering what’s behind those perfect little shutters and curtains.” For a passenger peering into the homes she passes by, however, the view becomes more intimate. “There’s something about looking into people’s backyards that is almost more invasive. You are literally seeing their dirty laundry hanging out in the back; you’re not seeing what’s presented in the front.”

The actor hits upon a theme that readers of Hawkins’ work frequently note: The main character’s addiction adds a curious element to Rachel’s trustworthiness. “It’s not a thriller in the traditional sense,” says Theroux. “It’s seen through the lens of a human problem. No one believes the least reliable witness: Rachel.”

For the role of Scott, the second object of Rachel’s obsession, the filmmakers cast Luke Evans, who is known for roles in “The Hobbit” series, as well as the “Fast & Furious” franchise.

Evans admits he became quite the fan of the complex characters in Hawkins’ novel, one he found to be a gripping page-turner. “When I began the book, I didn’t want to put it down,” he gives. “I’m not surprised it’s done as well as it has. The whole story is about an inquisitive human being who creates chaos because of her curiosity, and it’s enthralling.”

The Welsh performer found Rachel’s obsessions fascinating, and he quickly agreed to portray one of the key figures who populate her world. He describes Scott as a man who’s in a tempestuous relationship with Megan (Haley Bennett), and a jealous husband who inevitably becomes a suspect when she disappears. “He’s questioning a lot about himself and about the women in his life, and how they’ve treated him,” the actor says. “So there’s a lot of anger and mistrust.”

Rachel’s need to find out what happened to Megan leads her to visit the missing woman’s psychiatrist, Dr. Kamal Abdic, whom Rachel—and the cops—suspects may have been involved in her disappearance. As the story unfolds, we learn that the relationship between Abdic and Megan was much more than doctor and patient. “There is this wonderful cat-and-mouse quality to what happens between Megan and her doctor,” says Bennett. “She is a lonely, broken woman who lures him in. He takes the bait.”

To play Dr. Abdic, the filmmakers cast Édgar Ramírez, known for his roles in such films as “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Deliver Us from Evil.”

“Kamal Abdic is a man of few words,” offers Ramírez. “He loves to listen to these women because he is also fascinated, or a little turned on, by their despair. He listens to all their stories, but he genuinely falls in love with Megan. There’s a special sense of innocence in her, and he knows that she uses sex as a way to connect.”

Initially posing as a patient to learn what she can about Abdic, Rachel opens up to the doctor, revealing more than she ever intended. She describes her heartbreak at not being unable to have a child, subsequent divorce and alcohol-induced blackouts. “Abdic is the only one who listens to the secrets,” the Venezuelan actor adds. However, he pays the price for crossing the line with his patients. “He knows everything about what’s going on, and ironically, is the first one who becomes a suspect.” He pauses, “We cross lines because we feel lonely, and we are longing for connection.”

Opening across the Philippines on October 5, 2016, “The Girl on the Train” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.