Lena Headey

Eva Green in 300 RISE OF AN EMPIRE

Some films are content being a prequel, and others are happy being a sequel. But 300: Rise of an Empire is having none of that. Instead, the film begins in the first act of Zack Snyder‘s original 300 and carries on past that film’s mass Spartan demise. So yes, it’s essentially The Bourne Legacy of films about Greek warfare. Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) is a Greek general aware of Xerxes’ (Rodrigo Santoro) imminent invasion and struggling to rally the various Greek states together to present a uniform front. Sparta ignores his pleas and instead sends 300 of their bravest off to battle (and we all know how that turned out), so Themistokles is forced to make do and form the best navy he can muster. His enemy equal on the sea, Artemisia (Eva Green), leads the Persian naval forces that once again outnumber their Greek foes by a wide margin. The two master commanders go head to head (and groin to groin) to determine the fate of all of Greece. Snyder co-wrote the script for this follow-up, again from a Frank Miller graphic novel, but he passed directing duties to Noam Murro (Smart People). While some may see that as a step down the resulting film is actually on par in most ways with its equally stylized predecessor. Whether that’s a good or bad thing will vary among viewers, but one thing is certain. If for no other reason, 300: Rise of an Empire is worth seeing for Miss Green in […]

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Have to say, I wasn’t super stoked by the upcoming sequel to Zack Snyder’s über-stylized 300, but the following trailer for 300: Rise of an Empire goes a long way in increasing my interest. More after the trailer.

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review city of bones

Clary (Lily Collins) has moved to Brooklyn with her mom (Lena Headey) and pseudo step-dad, but while her best friend Simon (Robert Sheehan) still lives close enough to visit on a daily basis something is amiss. A visit to a nightclub sees her witness a murder that no one else seems aware of, and when she awakens the next morning after a night of somnambulistic rune doodling her day goes progressively downhill. Her mom is abducted, their apartment is left in disarray, and she’s attacked by a dog that’s seen John Carpenter’s The Thing one too many times. On the bright side though she meets and falls for Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), the lanky, blond killer from the night before, and discovers that she’s not quite the “mundane” teen she thought she was. Instead, she’s descended from a line of Shadowhunters tasked with killing demons, policing vampires, and keeping Hot Topic in business. Together they race to rescue her mom and find the chalice from the palace with the brew that is true before the evil Valentine (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) can use it to rule the world. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is the first film in a hopeful new franchise based on the best-selling YA fantasy series, but while it checks the boxes on many of the genre’s most common ingredients it neglects the ones necessary to tell a good and engaging story. It’s crowded, dumb and more interested in the set-piece destination than in the journey getting there, […]

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300: Rise of an Empire

Don’t call it a comeback, Sparta has been here for years. Abs flexing, motion slowing, blood splattering. This trailer is everything we were promised from 300: Rise of an Empire, at least based on the pedigree established by Zack Snyder’s first film. This time around it’s directed by Noam Murro, whose only directorial credit was the intelligent Sundance-debuting comedy Smart People. I enjoyed that film a great deal in 2008. This, however, is a CGI-designed horse of a different color. The good news? It looks exactly like 300…

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purge questions

Those who have seen the trailer for The Purge, or the film itself, know this is not your normal brand of horror film. The Purge is certainly ful of jump scares and villains out for blood, but it takes that standard idea of horror one step further by infusing the narrative with bigger questions about society and human nature. This is not your typical story of people being pursued and not knowing why. The characters in The Purge know exactly what is out there, but the fear here is they thought they were armed against it, and what is even more unsettling is the realization that the true terror may exist outside of this single night. Life in The Purge is an almost Pleasantville-like world where crime is down, employment is up, and the general population seems content and happy – and there is a very distinct reason for this. For one night, every year, the entire population is allowed to “purge” themselves and give in to any evil or violent tendencies they may have been suppressing in favor of such a well mannered society. But The Purge gives audiences more than just a series of scares, it presents a variety of different questions, both directly and indirectly, throughout the film, but it does not offer many answers. It is not unusual for a horror film to leave audiences with an open ending, but the questions The Purge leaves open are ripe for discussion long after the credits roll. The following contains spoilers for […]

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review purge mullen

As with most things in life, there are good trailers and there are bad trailers. Bad trailers may lay out the entire film third act or not do a good job of selling you on the film, while a good trailer often teases just the right amount of a story to get you hooked and ready for more. The trailer for The Purge fell pretty firmly in the good category, explaining the outlandish future-set premise and teasing a home invasion storyline. It was up to the film to deliver on the promise of a fun, entertaining film, but unlike the trailer before it, it didn’t do a great job. The premise is certainly interesting. Set in 2022, America is “a nation reborn,” words you will hear throughout the film. Unemployment and crime are at all time lows thanks to a new government program called the Purge. For one night a year, from 7pm to 7am the next morning, all crime is legal. Police, fire and emergency medical services are suspended during this time and anything goes. For James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) and his family, the Purge has been a pathway to prosperity. James makes a shit-ton of money selling fancy, very secure looking security systems to wealthy homeowners (including many of his neighbors) to protect themselves during the annual Purge. His wife Mary (Lena Headey) is nice enough but seems to have a little more edge than the typical soccer mom, though perhaps that’s Headey and her history of playing […]

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review purge

When is a good old-fashioned home invasion movie not a good old-fashioned home invasion movie? When it sets itself in the near future and forgets to be all that good. Welcome to The Purge. It’s 2022, and the United States has finally solved its growing problem with violence and crime by making it legal. More precisely, it’s legal for a twelve hour period one night per year. Citizens are encouraged to stay safe in their secure homes, unless of course they care to vent their animalistic rage and partake in the annual event. The Sandin family feels safe behind their state of the art security shutters, but when their dumbass son has a crisis of conscience and lets an injured man in, all hell breaks loose.

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Drinking Games

The 90s were good in some ways. Other ways, not so much. The odious Sylvester Stallone version of Judge Dredd was one way the 90s kind of sucked. Fortunately, we have a new Judge available on DVD and Blu-ray. Dredd brings back the hard-boiled character in his full violent glory. With Karl Urban playing the lead role – and not being afraid to stay within his helmet for the whole film – Dredd delivers on R-rated violence and gore. And it doesn’t hurt to have Olivia Thirlby at his side. While Dredd is dispensing justice, dispense yourself a few beers and enjoy the film.

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Dredd

Karl Urban is the law. And finally, that’s something that matters. Since 1995, the only world we’ve ever known for the character of Judge Dredd, the motorcycle-riding judicial system created by the British writer/artist team of John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra in the late 1970s, has been the overly silly vanity project starring Sly Stallone in 1995. Stallone’s Dredd was, at best, a parody of the original comic character. And while it delivered a bit of fun at the time, history does not look fondly on the attempt. It wasn’t the film that such a character deserved, despite the unfamiliarity American audiences had with him. Enter writer Alex Garland and star Karl Urban, who set out to make Dredd 3D a worthy adaptation. For that matter, lets just forget the past and say what really matters: Enter Dredd. The real one.

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Dredd 3D

“Judge Dredd” started as a comic book series in 1977 and eventually became so long-lived and popular that it spawned a really bad film adaptation in 1995. Get that movie out of your head now – pretend like it never happened – because Dredd 3D is a completely new take on the character; one the values hard-hitting action over comic book camp, one that has no interest in wacky side kicks or studio mandated love interests. The story is simple: in the far future, humanity has started living in gigantic city-states the size of small countries that are densely populated and densely developed. What with so many people being piled on top of one another, poverty has run rampant, crime is ubiquitous, and street gangs rule the day. The only line of defense between innocent people and complete chaos are the Street Judges, a group of dangerous and highly trained operatives who prowl the streets on their big motorcycles while carrying their big guns, acting as judge, jury, and executioner all in one. Our story centers on a Judge who goes by the name of Dredd; he’s pretty much the most badass one.

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Casting is currently at a fever pitch regarding the next great hope in the Young Adult film franchise arms race, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. The most recent news we had about director Harald Zwart’s series-launcher is that Game of Thrones and Mad Men vets Lena Headey and Jared Harris had landed roles as two of the adult characters, and today comes news that two of the teenage roles that make up most of the primary cast have also been filled. The thrust of the City of Bones story, again, is that a girl named Clary Fray (Lily Collins) becomes suddenly involved in the hidden world of Shadowhunters (powerful beings who hunt demons right under our noses). The first Shadowhunter that she comes across is dreamboat Jace Wayland (Jamie Campbell Bower), a troubled orphan who comes complete with a foster family. Said family is most importantly made up of two siblings who Jace lives and hunts demons with, Isabelle and Alec Lightwood. These are the oh-so-important roles that have now been filled.

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Mortal Instruments Casting

Recently, a round of bad guy casting pointed to the fact that the next big YA novel-to-movie franchise, The Mortal Instruments, might be getting ready to move forward in earnest, and another chunk of casting announcements that came out today seems to serve as confirmation. Joining names like Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower – who are cast as the young, attractive leads – come a couple of more experienced actors who have been tapped to take on some of the adult roles, and one more (relatively) young actor, who is set to play a hip side-character. First up, Game of Thrones’ Cersei Lannister, Lena Headey, has been tapped to play Jocelyn Fray, the mother of the film’s protagonist, Clary. Seeing as much of the first film involves her disappearance, she probably won’t have much to do here, but one can only imagine she’s also been locked in for potential future installments. Next on the list is Mad Men’s Lane Pryce, Jared Harris, who has signed on to play a character named Hodge Starkweather. Starkweather serves as a live-in tutor to many of the young demon hunters who make up the main cast, so Harris’ extreme Britishness should serve him well there. Finally, All About Women actor Godfrey Gao is taking on the role of Magnus Bane, a flamboyant hipster who also happens to be the most powerful Warlock in Brooklyn. Glamour shots of the actor on the Internet confirm that he should be pretty enough for the part.

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Lena Headey in Dredd

The first trailer for Dredd – starring Karl Urban, Lena Headey and Olivia Thirlby is just a taste of the inevitable slow motion to come. In the story, Headey’s character Ma-Ma controls all the manufacturing for a new drug that makes the user feel like time is going at 1% of its normal speed. Because when you want drugs, you want something that will make your life feel 100 times longer. Instead of launching a bunch of well-made PSAs about the dangers of the drug, Judge Dredd and his rookie Judge infiltrate the highrise where Ma-Ma is operating in order to take her down. It’s Bale’s Batman with a huge helmet on. Enjoy it for yourself:

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Game of Thrones: Blackwater

They’ve been telling us all along, those fine marketeers at HBO. Winter is Coming. War is Coming. More Winter is Coming. War is Here. There’s No Where to Hide. And throughout season two we’ve peered back at them and said, “ok, but when?” There is no time better than the present, I always say. Especially when episode nine, “Blackwater” is upon us and the battle has raged with massive green flames. Even though there’s one frame left, anyone who has watched last night’s episode has now seen the season’s penultimate chapter. Stannis Baratheon sails toward King’s Landing with a massive army and he will not rest until he has taken the Iron Throne away from the boy King Joffrey. That’s where we pick up the tale as we travel on with our Blog of Thrones… As always, Blog of Thrones is written from the perspective of a relative novice to George R.R. Martin’s books. It focuses solely on Game of Thrones the show and assumes that you’ve seen everything up to the latest episode. If you travel down this Kingsroad and find yourself spoiled, the king will know the reason why. 

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Winter is Coming. And War. But mostly Winter. And playful ginger girls from beyond The Wall. Yes, it’s time again for our weekly Blog of Thrones, the part of the week when we urge you to gather around the mead cooler and talk of Westeros and the Free Cities of Men. As we march through the show’s second season, it’s important to be constantly reminded that Winter is Coming. It stands as an excellent motto for all of what is to come in this story — “Winter” is not just about cold, but of war and evil and evil war. With that in mind, we put Winter is Coming on our banners this week and forge on as the staggeringly good HBO series ripped from the mind of George R.R. Martin (and his books) moves swiftly toward a season two finale that continues to promise big things. This week, we learn about a few key personality traits shared by many a character in this Game of Thrones. As always, Blog of Thrones is written from the perspective of a relative novice to George R.R. Martin’s books. It focuses solely on Game of Thrones the show and assumes that you’ve seen everything up to the latest episode. If you travel down this Kingsroad and find yourself spoiled, the king will know the reason why. 

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Redoing Judge Dredd. Not the safest call, but one of the tricks the production from Lionsgate, DNA Films and IM Global has up its sleeve is the power of Lena Headey. When it was first announced, Karl Urban (Dredd himself) might have been that weapon, but Headey has become a fan favorite on Game of Thrones (a show people like to watch in great quantities apparently). Here’s a look at the actress as Madeline Ma-Ma Madrigal, rocking some serious scars and a look that could burn down a barn. What do you think? Hellacious, right? [LA Times]

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Game of Thrones: The Old Gods and the New

It’s time to call you back in, my Bannermen. And Bannerladies. As you well know, Winter is Coming. And as we steam past the midpoint of season two, the big season finale is also coming to the lands of Westeros. So our weekly Blog of Thrones can see the end of this round, not clearly, but on the horizon. This week we learn plenty of lessons along with the denizens of Winterfell, King’s Landing, Harrenhal and whatever the hell they call those mountains north of The Wall. These lessons will likely come back to be important later in the season, as many a collision course is being set. War may be upon these gamers of thrones, but we are yet to see the real bloodbath that is to come. As always, Blog of Thrones is written from the perspective of a relative novice to George R.R. Martin’s books. It focuses solely on Game of Thrones the show and assumes that you’ve seen everything up to the latest episode. If you travel down this Kingsroad and find yourself spoiled, the king will know the reason why. 

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There’s nothing quite like applying humor to a horrific slice of history to give new blood to some well-tread territory – thus a “pitch black comedy” set during WWI that centers on romantic affairs between sworn enemies. The Playlist reports that director Jon Amiel‘s film, The Poisoners, has lined up a really wonderful cast to give some laughs (and love) to the WWI-set story. Coming from script by television writer Paul Billing, the film follows “a group of women left behind in an English farming community during WWI who then become romantically intertwined with several German prisoners of war.” So, like, reverse In the Land of Bloody and Honey? The film’s cast now includes Emily Watson, Anna Friel, and Lena Headey as just some of those British ladies who fall in love with their apparent enemies. They will be joined by German actors Ken Duken, Hanno Koffler, and Alexander Scheer so, at the very least, this one is going for some cultural authenticity. While that’s a great cast, I’m most excited about seeing more work from the ever-charming Friel.

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Blog of Thrones

If only one could create an opening credits sequence for a blog post, the one for this particular column would be as informational and visually pleasing as that of Game of Thrones. If you’re paying attention — something I’m not always one to do — keeping a close eye on the opening credits for season two’s second episode will bring clarity to some of the other areas of Westeros left unexplored in season one. Namely Pike in the Iron Islands and Dragonstone. The geography of all this is going to become important as season two wears on, one can assume, because it seems like everyone will be moving from their respective locations and descending on King’s Landing, where episode two’s missing boy, the false King Joffrey, waits for all-out war. But before that happens, season two appears to be slowing down a bit, taking some time to introduce us to new characters. Gone is the dizzying march across the lives of season one’s beloved (and not so beloved) characters. In its place are some new faces, some new alliances and yeah, some of that wonderful Game of Thrones nudity. Of course, as you read on with this week’s Blog of Thrones, remember that you should do so having watched this week’s episode and the entirety of season one. This author will not be held responsible for spoiling anything that has already aired. Also, here’s hoping you brought some notes, as there will be a discussion at the end.

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Despite the fact that the 300 sequel 300: Battle of Artemisia will be something of a prequel that tells the story of how Xerxes rose to power as a God King, it seems like we’re going to get a chance to catch a glimpse of old favorites King Leonidas and Queen Gorgo in the movie anyway. While talking to Movies.com, 300 producer Bernie Goldmann told them that this time around, “it’s a different story, however there’s a small part for Lena [Headey]. There’s a small part for Gerry [Butler].” There’s a bit of a risk you take in these sorts of situations of doing small cameos for famous characters, as sometimes it can look pandering and take the viewer out of the movie (think of all the times when characters from the original trilogy awkwardly got their name announced as they turned to the camera in the Star Wars prequels), so hopefully 300: Battle of Artemisia is able to bring back Lena Headey and Gerard Butler in an organic way.

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