Sharlto Copley

review open grave

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Two Brits, a German, and a woman from Hong Kong walk into a bar, except the bar is a forest and they don’t so much walk in as the do wake up in the middle of it. The common thread among them is that none of them know who they are or how they got there. Enter a South African (Sharlto Copley) who’s just awoken in an exposed pit filled with dead people and who, like his new friends, also has no recollection as to what the hell is happening. Low on trust, high on anxiety, and fully loaded for bear thanks to a stocked armory, the group struggles to search for clues and remember who they are and what they could possibly be doing together in the middle of the woods. Memories slowly begin to bubble to the surface, but they’re not coming fast enough to adequately respond to the discovery of bodies tied to trees with barbed wire or left hanging from the branches above. And then the crazed, zombie-like mouth-breathers attack. Details aside, Open Grave‘s setup here is familiar enough that you’d be forgiven for immediately thinking the gang is trapped in purgatory and destined to eventually realize that they all died in a plane crash or maybe a spin class accident. Thankfully though the actual story is far more imaginative and interesting. If only its execution was as successful.

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Oldboy

Few people would ever accuse Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy of being subtle cinema, but Spike Lee’s remake of the 2003 feature smashes any lingering vestiges of the restrained right into the ground with a bloody, looming hammer. Strangely enough, the opening credits of Oldboy provide some insight into the feature itself – this is “a Spike Lee film,” not “a Spike Lee joint,” and it’s “based on the Korean film,” not “based on Park Chan-wook’s film” or “based on Garon Tsuchiya’s manga.” This is not a unique feature and even its own director isn’t interested in putting his signature touch on it. As with Chan-wook’s film, Oldboy centers on a seemingly regular man who is abducted, thrown into a prison-like hotel room for two decades, and framed for the heinous murder of his ex-wife. Josh Brolin is effective enough in the role, and he’s got the fiery anger and unswerving drive element of his character down pat. Emotions not fueled by rage and revenge aren’t quite his forte, at least here, but those don’t really come into play into further down the line. For the first act of the film, he’s just about perfect. Brolin’s Joe Doucett is a flabby, drunk loser who thinks that a smooth-talking attitude will help him succeed at work (it won’t) and just yelling about things to his beleaguered ex-wife will get her to shut up (it also won’t). He’s unsympathetic, but he certainly doesn’t deserve his punishment (or, well, does he?).

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grave

Fresh off of battling Matt Damon over the future version of healthcare reform in the sci-fi epic Elysium comes South African acting sensation Sharlto Copley, who’s got another performance in a crazy looking genre picture in the bag and ready for our consumption. The new film, from Spanish director Gonzalo López-Gallego (Apollo 18, but let’s try to give him another chance), is called Open Grave, and while its new trailer doesn’t do too much to explain to us the mysteries at its center, if definitely earns it that title. This thing is chock full of rotting corpses and shoddy burial techniques. Click through to watch the ad, but be warned that it contains screaming and shooting and bodies experiencing convulsions. Skin is torn, flesh rots, and secrets abound. Is this a zombie movie? A movie about some shadowy organization torturing test subjects? Something else entirely? You be the judge.

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Blomkamp and Copley

Neill Blomkamp‘s Elysium may have received lukewarm reviews from critics and its box office performance this past weekend wasn’t ideal (even if it did end up on top), but even with a mixed reception, Elysium is proof of one indisputable fact: Blomkamp and Sharlto Copley are a perfect pair. Copley’s performances have been far and away the best aspects of both Elysium and their previous collaboration, District 9. Sony and MRC must feel the same way, because the two studios are joining forces to finance the next Blomkamp/Copley team-up. Titled Chappie, the pic will be a comedy, showcasing a lighter side of science fiction where (presumably) fewer people will be liquified by futuristic explosives. Along with the film’s studio backing, an official synopsis for Chappie has also been released: “Chappie tells the story of a robot imbued with artificial intelligence who is stolen by two local gangsters who want to use him for their own nefarious purposes.” Copley will voice the titular robot, while Ninja and Yolandi Visser will also star. Two members of the rap-rave group Die Antwoord will be playing the robot-thieving gangsters.

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Tetra-Vaal-robot

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career.  Years from now (let’s say 2154), Neill Blomkamp’s significance in film history books will be that he was discovered through his short films. Specifically by Peter Jackson. And for a while he became a sort of poster boy for the situation where a young talented and economical filmmaker catches Hollywood’s eyes with a remarkable short film showcasing computer-generated special effects that make it look like it cost a million bucks. He will also be known for being part of the related trend of a new filmmaker turning his calling-card-functioning short into a debut feature. And as it turns out, another short of his is set to be adapted for his third feature. And another was a test for what was supposed to be his first (the famous failure of the Halo movie). Following film school and a short time working as an effects artist in Vancouver (he’s credited with animation on such things as 3000 Miles to Graceland and Smallville), the South Africa-born director made four notable shorts, one of which is really a commercial, before he moved into the big pictures courtesy of the mentoring Jackson. A fifth short was what originally came about through that partnership. You can watch all five below followed by links to watch six of his exceptional early ad works.

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Breaking Bad Walter White

The morning’s most fascinating articles from around the movie website-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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district9-commentary1

Four year ago, Neill Blomkamp directed the surprise hit District 9, a speculative sci-fi film about the integration of aliens into human culture. Based in his home country of South Africa, District 9 was embraced by critics and audiences, earning three somewhat expected technical Academy Award nomination and a completely unexpected Best Picture nod. However, before the film was released anywhere, Blomkamp recorded his commentary on the film, giving a unique insight into its production with no knowledge of its eventual success. At the time of recording, Blomkamp had been present to show the film in public once, at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Com, and he was feeling pretty good about the movie based on the audience reaction. At least this time, the Comic-Con love translated into box office success and critical acclaim.

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Elysium

Expectations are a dangerous thing, and right now few people realize that as well as Neill Blomkamp. Four years after his debut film District 9 wowed audiences and critics alike he’s finally ready to unleash his follow-up, Elysium. Audiences looking to see if he can avoid a sophomore slump may also be hoping to be rescued from a fairly underwhelming summer for sci-fi/action films, so expectations are doubled. Well, at least they’re already familiar with disappointment. Max De Costa (Matt Damon) is an ex-con trying to keep out of trouble and stay employed, but the reality of Los Angeles in 2154 isn’t making things easy. The city’s population, much like the rest of Earth’s, consists entirely of the poor and oppressed who can barely afford basic health care and clean living conditions. Luckily they’re all pure of heart. Floating high above them, teasingly just out of reach, is the space station Elysium. Home to the wealthy and the healthy, life up there is little more than a dream for those below. When an on the job injury leaves Max with five days to live he reluctantly returns to his criminal ways to facilitate a quick trip to Elysium and a life-saving visit to one of the station’s all powerful med beds. Standing in his way are Elysium’s Secretary of Defense Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and her black-op henchman Kruger (Sharlto Copley). Complicating things further is the reappearance of Max’s childhood love, Frey (Alice Braga), whose leukemia-riddled daughter is also in need of medical […]

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Europa Report

Intense, unnerving, claustrophobic. These are three adjectives that describe some of the best trips into space that man has taken in the realm of science fiction. Films that come to mind: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, perhaps even the less fictiony Apollo 13. Every time men and women venture into the depths of space, things get a little intimate and uncomfortable. And that’s before things start to go wrong. So to say that a movie like Europa Report — a found footage movie about humanity traveling to one of Jupiter’s moons — accomplishes this could also be construed as par for the course. It’s five people in a confined space, traveling into the unknown. Of course it’s going to get a little tense. Add some of the film’s more ambitious, haunting fictions and you’ve got yourself a movie that, once it settles into its story, will have you occasionally gripping the armrests of your seat.

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Bad Motherfucker

Have you ever jacked in? Have you ever wire tripped? Have you ever done it for two hours without wanting to throw up? Producer Timur Bekmambetov and director Ilya Naishuller are hoping that you can stomach a feature-length film they describe as “the world’s first POV action movie” — a project that will most likely feel like you’re watching someone else play a video game. Shot on a GoPro camera and starring Sharlto Copley, Hardcore exists because of Naishuller’s insanely popular music video for “Bad Motherfucker”, but while that was a four-and-a-half minute, first-person display of fantastic action choreography, it’s a bit difficult to imagine watching a feature version without getting at least a little queasy.

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Oldboy Poster 2013

  Brimming with impenetrability, the first poster for Spike Lee‘s take on Oldboy features Josh Brolin dressed as Neo, making his escape from a steamer trunk in the middle of a field while Elizabeth Olsen (or Sharlto Copley with shaved legs) stands poignantly facing the other way. Its premiere is a preamble to a trailer release which will most likely happen this week (*cough*Wednesday*cough*) — so we’ll finally get to see how Lee  and screenwriter Mark Protosevich plan to tell the story (and how much hammer-wielding takes place). While you wait, stare at this until the yellow umbrella dissolves into symbolism or you go cross-eyed.

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trailer elysium full

It’s 2154, and the Occupy movement has essentially taken over the entire planet. Before you go thinking that’s a good thing though realize that it only happened because the 1% has left Earth to live in luxury aboard a space station designed solely for the elite. One man (Matt Damon) with nothing to lose has something to say about the arrangement. Writer/director Neill Blomkamp burst onto the scene with District 9 four years ago, and it’s finally time to unveil his follow-up. Elysium treads initially familiar ground with it’s mix of science fiction, action and heavy social commentary, but any worries that Blomkamp is being lazy with his second film are about to be smashed. The new trailer below shows all you need to know about the story alongside some spectacular effects, thrilling set-pieces and glimpses of the bad guys (Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley). Enjoy.

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Europa Report

Wouldn’t it be so great if a group of smart, dedicated, ambitious astronauts blasted up into space in search of intelligent life and the pursuit of knowledge and something wonderful happened? Like they didn’t die at the hands of a bunch of screeching, flashing, horrifying aliens? Or they didn’t get abandoned up there, away from the only home they know? Or they didn’t leave behind a bunch of video depicting their last days alive? Wouldn’t that be just the tops? Well, probably not in terms of pure entertainment value, but it would certainly be a different take on the tired space exploration genre. However, based purely on the pull quotes in this first full-length trailer for Sebastian Cordero’s Europa Report, the space-exploration-gone-horribly-awry trope might still have some fresh moonrock to mine, and this feature just might do it. Starring Michael Nyqvist, Sharlto Copley, and Daniel Wu, the film centers on a private mission to Jupiter’s fourth moon (Europa) and apparently a whole bunch of bad stuff that goes down once the crew touches down and starts work. You know how it is. So what happens up there? Oh, we don’t know, but check out the first full trailer for Europa Report after the break to get a tiny idea of what might await us in space.

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poster oldboy spike lee

Director Spike Lee‘s upcoming Oldboy is viewed as a remake of Park Chan-wook’s brilliant 2003 film, but in reality it’s a new adaptation of the original source material, a graphic novel by Nobuaki Minegishi. The story remains the same, though. A man (Josh Brolin) is kidnapped and imprisoned for twenty years with no clue as to his captor’s motive or identity. He’s inexplicably released one day and given a limited amount of time to discover the answers to all of his questions, but he may not like what he finds. In fact, he most definitely won’t like what he finds. Oldboy co-stars Sharlto Copley and Elizabeth Olsen and hits theaters on October 11th. [Press Release]

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Elysium

Director Neill Blomkamp has, thankfully enough, not kicked any of his thematic interests while making the transition to his sophomore effort. The District 9 helmer returns to theaters later this summer with his Matt Damon-starring Elysium, another sci-fi epic that deals with the inherent evils of rigid class division and the true measure of a man modified by technology far beyond his control. Put simply – if you were into District 9, you’re going to be into Elysium.

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image_elysium sharlto copley

One of the more anticipated films hitting theaters next year is Neill Blomkamp‘s Elysium. The sci-fi epic is the director’s long-awaited (well, since 2009 anyway) follow-up to his breakout hit District 9, and it follows a similar path melding action, science fiction and social commentary. It stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, William Fichtner, Diego Luna, Talisa Soto and Sharlto Copley. He played the hero in District 9, but Copley’s turn here is of a far darker flavor. Empire Online has just debuted the first glimpse above of Copley in full bad guy gear, and he’s nigh unrecognizable. Elysium is set in the year 2159, and pits the oppressed people of the ruined planet Earth against the privileged elite aboard the Elysium space station. Matt Damon is ex-convict man-on-a-mission Max, fighting with the Terrans for equality, and Jodie Foster is the dastardly government official intent on enforcing anti-immigration laws and keeping Elysium for the Elysians; Kruger is her relentless attack dog.” Elysium invades theaters August 9th, 2013.

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Europa Report

What’s Europa Report? Great question. It’s one you’ll probably still be asking after seeing the first teaser trailer. And after reading a synopsis. The movie from director Sebastian Codero stars Sharlto Copley and tells the story of a crew of astronauts chosen from all over the world to journey to one of Jupiter’s 67 moons to search for sentient life. So it’s about as vague as any space thriller, but one thing’s for sure: the trailer is really, really beautiful.

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Anglina Jolie Maleficent

Production on Maleficent started on June 13th, and the movie won’t be in theaters until March 14th of (wait for it) 2014, but Disney has already released a teaser image of star Angelina Jolie as the iconic, evil witch queen who really hates Sleeping Beauty. To be fair, without Maleficent, the fair-haired heroine would just be called “Beauty,” and that name was already taken, so she probably wouldn’t have a cool nickname at all. Credit has to be given to Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked” for birthing a modern fascination with the villain’s side of the story (but mad respect to the old school “Grendel”), and the Robert Stromberg-directed fairy tale promises just that for Jolie. Although this will be the directorial debut for the veteran effects designer, the writing team features both Paul Dini and Linda Woolverton, so there’s a lot to be hopeful for. Plus, the cast also includes Elle Fanning, Juno Temple, Sharlto Copley and a ton of other solid names. Clicking on the image makes it largified. [Disney]

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After years of rumors and buzz, Disney’s live-action take on the Angelina Jolie-starring Maleficent is finally zipping along full steam ahead. THR reports (via Cinema Blend) that Elle Fanning is now set to star as Princess Aurora (best known to those not in the fairy tale know as Sleeping Beauty), along with a murderer’s row of the other prime cinematic talent. Fanning was rumored to be in talks back in March (thanks to a nifty exclusive over at Twitch), but it’s nice to get some confirmation on what’s really lovely casting. The outlet also appears to confirm that Sharlto Copley, who is going on a job-accepting tear, is set to co-star as “Stefan, the half-human, half-fairy bastard son of the human king.” The rest of the cast will now include including Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville as Knotgrass and Flittle (two of three pixies who care for Princess Aurora), Miranda Richardson as fairy Queen Ulla (also Maleficent’s aunt, though she reportedly doesn’t like her so much), Sam Riley as Diaval (Maleficent’s “right-hand man who can transform into a raven”), and Kenneth Cranham as the human king looking to rule the fairy kingdom as well. While this casting is all well and good, we appear to be missing a vital role – the handsome prince!

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Deadline Hawthorne reports that, after weeks of speculation, Spike Lee‘s Oldboy has finally signed an interesting pick to play the film’s central villain. Sharlto Copley was the latest name rumored for the role just last month, but after rounds and rounds of unsuccessful casting for all three major roles in the film, it seemed like the project was a bit doomed. But now that Copley is officially set for the part, and costars Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen remain locked in, the film is set to start filming in late September. Like Park Chan-wook’s 2003 film, Oldboy centers on Brolin’s character (in this incarnation, he is reportedly named “Joe Douchett”), a man who has been imprisoned against his will by an unknown man. Eventually freed, he’s set on a course to find the man who put him there (and to discover why) – Copley will play “Adrian Pryce,” “a mysterious billionaire trying to destroy the life of Joe Douchett.” But until Oldboy kicks off, Copley is busying himself with another high concept role, this time as a potential hero.

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published: 04.18.2014
A
published: 04.18.2014
B+
published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.17.2014
D+

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