This week’s movie releases

This week’s movie releases

FILM: THE MARTIAN (3D)

CAST: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Eljiofor, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Donald Glover, Mackenzie Davis

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew.

But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return.

Based on a best-selling novel, and helmed by master director Ridley Scott, THE MARTIAN features a truly star studded cast. Principal photography on ‘The Martian’ began November 8, 2014 in Budapest.

The gorgeous Central European capital has become known for hosting a litany of big budget Hollywood movies because of its beautiful locales and experienced local crews. But what particularly drew filmmakers to the city for this project are the soundstages at nearby Korda Studios.

Korda’s Stage 6, said to be the largest in the world, was ideal for constructing a Martian landscape that would include the Hab and the launch pad for the MAV. The set was used primarily for dialogue scenes, Hab interiors, and the giant sandstorm sequence. Matching wide-scope vistas were later filmed in Jordan.

Says producer Mark Huffam: “We had scouted the Australian Outback as a possible landscape for the Martian surface. That didn’t work out, and we decided to shoot most of the Martian sequences as interiors, giving us greater control of the environment, and then matching those with exteriors at Wadi Rum in Jordan.”

During production, Korda was a bustling hub of activity, as all six soundstages were being utilized for constructing and revamping a dozen major sets, including the spacecraft Hermes and the astronauts’ Hab on Mars. The art department was constantly racing to stay a step in front of Scott, who works quickly and has been known to get ahead of schedule. The showpiece set, however, is the Mission Control Room, NASA’s communications hub. A huge central screen, surrounded by more than a dozen other screens, displays vital data and images NASA is monitoring at any given time. These images are being sent from satellites, reconnaissance orbiters, probes, and the International Space Station. It is in Mission Control where Mindy Park (Mackenzie Davis) learns Watney is still alive – and where NASA leaders will months later command and monitor the launch of the rocket intended to save him.

NASA was a key collaborator, consultant and advisor on the entire project, from script through principal photography. Producer Mark Huffam remembers calling NASA during the first production meeting with Ridley Scott and being “very pleased to learn that they knew the book and were enthusiastic about an open-door relationship and free exchange of ideas.” Production was allowed to film rocket launches at Cape Canaveral, including the December 2014 liftoff of the Orion, a next-generation spacecraft designed to take humans deep into space as a first step toward human exploration of Mars. The Orion was sent into orbit containing a Ridley Scott tribute: the first sketch the director made of Mark Watney, on the script’s cover page, with the astronaut’s bold declaration, “I’m going to science the s**t out of this planet.”

The partnership with NASA initiated with Bert Ulrich, the agency’s film and television liaison, and then expanded to include, among others, Dr. James Green, NASA’s Director of Planetary Sciences, and Dave Lavery, from the Mars office, who acted as technical consultants on the script and the production.

Ulrich says Andy Weir’s novel, which is now unofficial recommended reading at Johnson Space Center, and Ridley Scott’s acclaimed body of work resonated deeply within the agency as it prepares its journey to Mars.

“Science fiction, especially in films, is continually an influence on real science,” Ulrich states. “I think both art and science draw from similar aspects of creativity, curiosity and vision.”

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A-scene-from-Straight-OuttFILM: STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON

CAST: Aldis Hodge, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Keith Stanfield, Neil Brown Jr., O\’Shea Jackson Jr., Paul Giamatti

DIRECTOR: F. Gary Gray

The film revolves around the rise and fall of the Compton, California hip hop group, N.W.A, and borrows its title from the group’s debut album. In 1988, this groundbreaking new group revolutionised music and pop culture, changing and influencing hip-hop forever. N.W.A’s first studio album, ‘Straight Outta Compton’, stirred controversy with its brutally honest depiction of life in southern Los Angeles. With guidance from veteran manager Jerry Heller, band members Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, DJ Yella and MC Ren navigate their way through the industry, acquiring fame and fortune. They secured a place in history the moment they told the world the truth about life in the hood, which ignited a cultural war in the United States.

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A-scene-from-Hotel-TransylFILM: HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2

VOICE CAST: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg

DIRECTOR: Genndy Tartakovsky

In this sequel to the 2012 film, ‘Hotel Transylvania’, the hotel is now open to human guests. Mavis and Johnny have a baby boy named Dennis whose lack of any vampire abilities worries his grandfather Count Dracula (Adam Sandler). When Mavis (Selena Gomez) and Johnny go on a visit to Johnny’s parents, Dracula calls his friends Frank, Murray, Wayne, Griffin and Blobbie to help him put Dennis through a monster-in-training boot camp. However, when Dracula’s father, Vlad (Mel Brooks), arrives at the hotel for an impromptu family get-together, Hotel Transylvania is in for a collision of supernatural old-school and modern day cool.