EMILY BLUNT, THE ICE QUEEN IN “THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR”

Emily Blunt, The Huntsman: Winter's War

Coming off rave reviews for her indelible performances in “Sicario,” “Into the Woods” and “Edge of Tomorrow,” Emily Blunt now portrays Freya, the Ice Queen, in Universal Pictures’ new fantasy adventure “The Huntsman: Winter’s War.”

While Ravenna (Charlize Theron) is a wicked devourer of souls and uses her dark magic to drain the life force of her prey, her little sister Freya is a good queen of snow and ice who has built her own frozen kingdom over the decades…quietly watching Ravenna’s rise to power.

When the evil and power-hungry Queen Ravenna betrays the Ice Queen with an unforgivable act, the heartbroken Freya flees home and builds a kingdom as cold as her heart. No one can touch her ever again, and by amassing an army of Huntsmen—who were plucked from their families at an early age—she has ensured her protection…and neither she nor her soldiers will endure the pain of love again.

“Freya’s an interesting villain because who you meet at the beginning of the film is not who she becomes,” Blunt offers. “When you meet her, she’s this incredibly kind person. She’s a young girl who’s in love with the wrong guy, but then she loses her child and becomes so grief-stricken and hardened by the loss that she discovers her power. Her hair turns white, and she goes completely pale and discovers an ability to freeze things.”

After such a betrayal, Freya determines that love must be a wicked and villainous thing, and she sets out to eradicate it from the world, kidnapping children from their parents and raising them to believe that love is dangerous. “I think she truly believes she’s doing the right thing,” Blunt reflects. “She thinks she’s saving these children by putting them into her child army and raising them without love. She’s saving them from ever going through the devastation of what she went through.”

Confirms director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan: “She’s not a villain because she wants power or she wants to dominate. She’s more complex because she thinks she’s saving these kids by turning them into great warriors. She doesn’t realize how cruel that is…that she’s ripping them away from everything they know and love.”

Providing a bit of levity, the actress laughs. “Freya’s probably the most frightening mother figure you could ever want for your child.”

Although Blunt is no stranger to action adventure, having blown audiences away in such films as “Edge of Tomorrow,” she was enticed by the notion of playing a character she hadn’t before explored. “The writing was so good, and Freya was an emotionally complex villain,” she enthuses. “I knew that the part was something I could bite into and that would stretch me.”

Co-star Chris Hemsworth elucidates that Freya is very different from her sister: “Ravenna is so menacing and unforgiving in her attitude. There wasn’t an ounce of humanity in her. What Emily has done with Freya is show that there’s a remnant of a heart in there, although she’s trying desperately to ignore it. She’s constantly pushing back the warmth and trying to buy into the propaganda her sister has been selling her.”

In a way, her remnant humanity makes her even more threatening. Explains Hemsworth: “It’s menacing in a totally different sense. It’s manipulative, because Freya can be so kind to you one moment, and then in the next she can just snap.”

Opening across the Philippines on April 13, “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

RYAN REYNOLDS AND GAL GADOT HOLD KEY SECRETS IN INTENSE ACTION-PACKED “CRIMINAL”

Criminal

The star-studded and high-octane action film “Criminal” headlines Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman in a fresh, provocative spin on the espionage action-thriller that probes the secret world of memory and identity, as it propels an unwitting death row killer into the consciousness of a dedicated CIA agent in a ferocious race against time.

After playing the snarky superhero Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds takes on a more clean-cut character as he plays top CIA agent Bill Pope in “Criminal,” who was on an important mission who holds the key of secrets in the recesses of his mind.  In order to extract vital information, his memories, skills, and training were transplanted into hardened criminal Jericho Stewart’s (Kevin Costner) brain. The procedure was performed by a neuroscientist (Tommy Lee Jones) under the orders and close monitoring of the CIA chief (Gary Oldman).

What they didn’t count on was that Stewart was also able to absorb the other aspects of Pope’s memories, particularly his love for family and an overwhelming sense of responsibility. The fallen agent’s wife, Jill Pope (Gal Gadot) helps convince him of his purpose. For the first time in his life, the criminal was able to clearly distinguish right from wrong and sets about to save the world.

The criminal becomes the hunted yet again, but this time he is on the side of the law. The mission is in the memories and every memory holds a clue. He has 48 hours to find a valuable CIA asset called The Dutchman in order to foil an international terrorist’s plans.

Aside from the intriguing premise, “Criminal” is jam-packed with enough action scenes, explosions, and car chases to satisfy the hardcore action-genre fan.  What is likewise interesting to note is that this is the second collaboration of top-draw film stars Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman and Tommy Lee Jones following the 1991 thought-provoking film “JFK.”

Director Ariel Vromen – who came to the fore with his previous work in the chilling crime story “The Iceman” – saw in “Criminal’s” action-packed story a chance to create a hybrid: to fuse elements of an unnerving psychological battle and mind-twisting sci-fi with the classic cat-and-mouse espionage game. He was drawn to the story’s scientifically provocative central idea: memory transfer, the ability to lock a person’s most intimate and individual sensations, hopes and flashbacks into a total stranger’s brain. Though amnesia and memory loss have long been staples of the cinematic thriller, this story came at it in an opposite way. For “Criminal” is the story of a man gaining memories that both put him on a collision course with a terrorist and change the very foundations of who he believes he is.

The mix of searing, high-octane action with the psychological intensity of a man trying to figure out if he is killer or savior was irresistible. “This is a big thriller. We have massive action sequences with cars, helicopter and the huge Airbus 400, along with intense fight scenes and excitement,” Vromen points out. “However, I believe today’s audiences are also looking for something beyond thrilling explosions and car crashes. I felt the unique journey of Jerico’s growth into a different person could be just as exciting as the non-stop action.”

“Criminal” opens in Philippine theaters on April 13 and is released locally by OctoArts Films International.  Trailer link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKPZ67eumew

ANNA KENDRICK AND SAM ROCKWELL KILLER COUPLE IN R-RATED ROMCOM “MR. RIGHT”

anna kendrick and sam rockwell in MR RIGHT

Blending dancing, violence and romance into one-of-a-kind hybrid entertainment, “Mr. Right” stars Anna Kendrick as manic Martha who falls in for Francis (Sam Rockwell), a professional assassin with a cause.

When Martha discovers that her new beau is a professional hitman, who kills the people ordering the hits.  But the bodies pile up, Martha must decide whether to flee or join her man in the mayhem.

Like her co-star Rockwell, Anna Kendrick combines dramatic chops — showcased in her Oscar-nominated “Up in the Air” performance — with the natural wit displayed in “Pitch Perfect” and its blockbuster sequel. When she read the “Mr. Right” script, Kendrick savored the chance to go a little wild. “The most exciting thing for me was the way Max wrote Martha as someone who’s always been a little psychotic,” Kendrick says. “He mentioned to me that some script notes suggested he make her this mild mannered girl until she encounters Mr. Right. But I thought it was funny and wise to make Martha bat shit crazy from the get go.”

Kendrick also sparked to Mr. Right because she knew Rockwell would be playing the title role. “I always pictured Mr. Right as Sam,” she says. “I knew he would bring amazing energy to the character. He makes you love this guy who’s killing people. but because it’s Sam playing Francis, you’re rooting for him.”

Director Cabezas sealed the deal with Kendrick after they met in New York and bonded over a their shared vision of a bold, unpredictable heroine. “Paco showed me a lot of pre-vis stuff on his computer,” she recalls. “We talked a lot about making sure that Martha was fun and active and not your typical damsel. For example, when we meet Martha, she’s being unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend and she crawls into a closet and gets drunk. I really liked doing that scene, being able to spout profanity and nonsense where you don’t even know what you’re saying half the time and you go ‘This is my job! I’m at work, these are my co-workers, this is crazy'”

Producer Jacobs says “Often times with movies in this genre, you see the female lead running scared once the gunfire starts. We needed to find an actress who had that America’s sweetheart girl next door quality, but underneath all of that, in Mr. Right, the gunfire kind of turns Martha on. Anna knew how to pull off that turn.”

Kendrick’s Martha also gets in on the action once she learns how to channel her so-called “gift of motion.” “The stunt team has been amazing,” says the petite actress. “They know how to make you look good even if you’re a little five foot weakling. I’ve had a good time bludgeoning people.” Beard sums up Kendrick’s performance concisely. “Once she takes on Mr. Right’s moves, Anna kicks ass.”

As producer Jacobs sees it, Mr. Right ultimately succeeds on the strength of its leads. “When people see Francis and Anna fall in love with each other, that’s going to be the home run of the movie,” he says. “In order to stand out in this day and age, you can’t stick to regular conventions. Francis and Martha are so fun and the dialogue is so unique, you’re happy to spend two hours with these people.”

An explosive cocktail of romantic action comedy hits cinemas when “Mr. Right” opens April 6 (from Pioneer Films).

THE DARK KNIGHT BEATBOXES IN 2nd TRAILER FOR “LEGO BATMAN MOVIE”

The Lego Batman Movie

Warner Bros. has released a second trailer for “The LEGO Batman Movie,” the animated Caped Crusader’s spinoff feature from the critically acclaimed box-office hit “The LEGO Movie.” The trailer may be viewed at https://youtu.be/pupfujJ3Z_s.

In the irreverent spirit of fun that made “The LEGO® Movie” a worldwide phenomenon, the self-described leading man of that ensemble – LEGO Batman – stars in his own big-screen adventure. But there are big changes brewing in Gotham, and if he wants to save the city from The Joker’s hostile takeover, Batman may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up.

Will Arnett returns to voice the Gotham vigilante in the satirical spin on the classic comic book character for director Chris McKay. The screenplay is written by Seth Grahame-Smith (“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer”).

The film also stars Michael Cera as Batman’s sidekick Robin, Rosario Dawson as Batgirl/Barbara Gordon, and Zach Galifianakis as The Joker, Ralph Fiennes as Alfred Pennyworth and Mariah Carey as the Mayor of Gotham.

Opening across the Philippines on Feb. 09, 2017, “The Lego Batman Movie” is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.