CHRIS ON RAILS

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Rising stars: Get to know AnnaSophia Robb – Part 2 of 3 June 10, 2009

Go here for Part 1 of this post -> Rising stars:  Get to know AnnaSophia Robb – Part 1 of 3

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AnnaSophia Robb has starred in a few independent films that haven’t received much attention.  I’m going to comment mostly on Have Dreams, Will Travel and Sleepwalking.

There are movie spoilers below.


Have Dreams, Will Travel (2007)

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Have Dreams, Will Travel was originally called West Texas Children’s Story.  It’s a bittersweet drama set in the 1960s starring Cayden Boyd and AnnaSophia Robb.  Cayden plays Ben Reynolds who narrates the story and begins by explaining his situation; a neglecting bisexual mother, and an indifferent father obsessed with cleaning his boat in the desert.  On a rainy night, there’s a car that crashes outside the family diner, and surprise surprise, the only survivor is Cassie Kensington played by AnnaSophia.  They take her in until she can get better so that she may live with her grandmother.  She decides to take matters into her own hands and tells Ben that there’s nothing here for her, and convinces Ben that there’s nothing here for him either.  They decide to just randomly take off to her aunt and uncle’s house in Baltimore, and a long road trip takes up almost 80% of the movie.  Along the way they sleep in a barn, get married at Cassie’s suggestion, are detained by the police, ride in a flower power hippie bus, and so on.  Yes, two 12 year old kids get married.

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AnnaSophia Robb on set with her dog Bella

AnnaSophia Robb’s character in this movie  is certifiably insane and talks like no one you’ve ever heard before.  There’s this theme about how “everyone needs a plan” that she stresses throughout the entire length of the movie.  When Ben and Cassie arrive at her aunt’s house, she undergoes a mental breakdown and is admitted to a psychiatric ward.  Apparently her father was an alcoholic and also abused her, and she caused the accident that killed her parents by attacking her father while he was driving.  Ben helps her escape the ward at the end of the movie and they live a fulfilling life, accomplishing the goals that were set in “the plan” they made as 12 year old kids.

This movie was a little deeper than I expected.  After the credits rolled, I felt like I just watched something really bland but also really original at the same time.


Spy School (2008)

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Her expression just about sums up the movie

This movie was really really really terrible.  Thomas Miller (Forrest Landis) is a loner and a compulsive liar at a school.  He has zero friends but somehow manages to capture the attention of cute skater girl Jackie Hoffman played by AnnaSophia Robb.  It was excruciating to watch the pathetic romance unfold.  Thomas foolishly goes for a British girl named Madison played by Taylor Momsen who is about a foot taller than everyone else.  AnnaSophia Robb apparently has her first on-screen kiss in this movie and it is completely awkward because she cries afterwards.

Spy School was just borderline unwatchable because it was incredibly cheesy, the plot was lame, and the acting was terrible…but I guess that is what I should expect for a TV/DVD release movie.  The only good part of the movie was probably all the scenes when AnnaSophia does a funny accent mimicking Taylor Momsen’s character Madison.  If I could buy back the time I lost watching this movie, I probably would.


Sleepwalking (2008)

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AnnaSophia Robb as Tara Reedy and Nick Stahl as James Reedy

Sleepwalking was originally called Ferris Wheel, and I figured out why.  There’s nothing but depressing characters, themes, and imagery that just go round and round.  Try not to sleepwalk through this movie even though it was one of the slowest movies I’ve ever seen in my life.  I watched it with some friends, and they all fell asleep.  I had to watch it a second time to see if I missed anything.  AnnaSophia Robb plays Tara Reedy, the daughter of Joleen Reedy played by Charlize Theron.  Tara is a troubled and bitter kid because her mother completely fails at life and randomly leaves Tara for a short period of time.  This forces her uncle James Reedy played by Nick Stahl to take responsibility and be her guardian.  Basically, the movie slowly builds up to a hellish “vacation” to a farm run by Tara’s grandfather played by Dennis Hopper.  On that farm, they experience some mind-numbingly brutal work and quite a lot of physical, emotional, and mental abuse.  I thought most of the characters in the movie did a decent job.  However, I thought Charlize Theron’s character seemed half assed because they never did explain where she went or why she came back.  Absolutely no closure there but James and Tara have some genuine cathartic experiences by the end of the movie.

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Strangest scene in the whole movie

I think the best scene in this movie is when Tara is smoking by the motel pool and just roller skating around.  It’s very lolita-like as she just lounges on a pool chair and gazes back at the young boys in the jacuzzi.  When she jumps in the pool, it’s her way of saying that she has control over her life and that she won’t take the path her mother took.  I think all the bonding scenes with her uncle were also pretty good.  By the end of the movie, James realizes that his involvement in taking care of Tara has mostly changed has life for the better.  To enjoy this movie or at least watch it with an open mind, I think you need to be able to sit through really slow moving material, and sift through the crap to get to the good stuff (if there is any).  Most people I know are typically the kind with the patience to only watch action movies or comedies.  Also, most people just want to watch a movie and not spend too much time analyzing what happens, and that’s why this movie is indie film material.


Jumper (2008)

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AnnaSophia Robb looks like Natalie Portman here

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AnnaSophia Robb plays Young Millie in "Jumper"

This is not an independent or low budget film, but she had a really small almost unnoticed role in this movie.  If you want to see AnnaSophia Robb as a brunette, Samuel L Jackson play his typical badass character, and some absolutely ridiculous but inventive action scenes, then here you go.  The only issue I have with this movie is that it leaves way too many unanswered questions by the end.  For example, where did the jumping power come from?


Dear Eleanor (2009)

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AnnaSophia Robb plays Ellie Potter in "Dear Eleanor"

What can we expect for her next movie?  She was supposed to do a movie called The White Giraffe with Gabor Csupo, the director of Bridge to Terabithia.  It has an interesting story.  The story tells of Martine, an orphaned young girl emigrating to South Africa to live with her grandmother on a game preserve.  The tale is filled with African magic and mystery as Martine searches for the truth behind the legend of the white giraffe. This is exactly the kind of movie that AnnaSophia likes to do, something with a good story to tell.  Unfortunately, the project is apparently dead in the water, and we probably won’t see it get the green light.  Anyway, AnnaSophia Robb will be starring in Dear Eleanor.

This movie is still in pre-production as of 6/10/2009.

IMDB Synopsis:

The story of two fourteen year old girls, Ellie and Max the Wax, who travel across America in 1962 during the chaos of the Cuban missile crisis in search of Eleanor Roosevelt and Ellie’s late mother.  Their secret journey begins in their hometown of Manteca, California (The Pumpkin Capital of the World).  Their final destination: New York City (The Big Apple).  Along the way they’re robbed by a guy who looks like Warren Beatty and helped out by Max’s Aunt Daisy, a vaudevillian contortionist who can fold herself into a bag.  When Ellie loses all hope of ever finding her mother, Aunt Daisy pushes her onward to discover just what is waiting for her at Eleanor Roosevelt’s house, and why this adventure will not be the end of her journey, but just the beginning.


Charity Work

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AnnaSophia Robb interviews with TC Magazine

So what else does she do?  Well she is involved in volunteering and giving back through charity work.  AnnaSophia is an activist in the Dalit Freedom Network, an organization that essentially helps poverty stricken people (specifically Indians in the lowest caste) across the world from the United States.

Read her essay on her life changing trip to India -> http://www.annasophiarobb.com/summer_vacation_india.pdf

“So why would a girl who already has so many things going want to take the time to help children halfway around the world?  For AnnaSophia, the answer is simple — you never know what kind of difference you can make.  [My family and I] sponsor a couple of children in India and you never know, if those children get a good education and grow up, they could become the prime minister of India.  They could create a cure for cancer,” AnnaSophia said.  “Who knows what the potential of our world is, but we all need to help each other.” – excerpt from AnnaSophia’s interview with TC Magazine

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“All her hard work is paying off and everyone from producers and critics to fans and moviegoers are starting to take notice.  AnnaSophia has been nominated for several awards and won the Young Artist Award for Best Leading Actress in 2008.  But while it may be her big smile that captivates people on the silver screen, it’s AnnaSophia’s big heart that really stands out.” – TC Magazine

AnnaSophia Robb has accomplished quite a bit at such a  young age, but there’s much more on the horizon for this young actress.  Most of her movies usually have a decent depth and a memorable character, and I hope she continues starring in such films.  As long as she stays grounded, avoids the stereotypical Hollywood life, and picks the right films, we might see an Academy award winning actress one day.


Recent Interviews

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AnnaSophia Robb interviews with Nylon Magazine

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AnnaSophia Robb interviews at 14th Annual Palm Beach Film Festival

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AnnaSophia Robb dances at Zlin Film Festival

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AnnaSophia Robb interviews at Zlin Film Festival

 

Angels and Demons is terribly good May 26, 2009

Welcome to the first GUEST post by a friend of mine…you can call him sunpar.  However, I added all the images with my own captions.


Angels and Demons – Movie Review

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When The Da Vinci Code debuted at Cannes nearly 3 years ago, we knew about it.  The Catholic Church spoke out against it, the film gained worldwide notoriety, and the circus was soon in full effect. Bishops railed against its inaccuracies, protesters camped out in front of movie theaters, and one 61-year-old Catholic nun protested outside Lincoln Cathedral by praying on her knees for 12 hours.  In Manila the film was rated ‘R18’, while India, always sensitive to religious controversy, banned the film outright in certain areas.  Believers were asked to boycott the film, the actors, and Sony itself (stop buying their ridiculously overpriced and impractical gadgets, surely that will teach those heathens!).  And at every step, the Media hounded us with updates, beating the story to death and force-feeding the carcass to the public on a daily basis.

In comparison to the event and the faux cultural significance that accompanied The Da Vinci Code, the release of the sequel, Angels and Demons, barely registered.  Sure, there is the requisite Today Show segment and the odd Times Square billboard as well as a few half-assed reviews in various publications; but the heart just doesn’t seem to be in it.  I even remarked to Chris on my way down to the appropriate theater that I’d just passed five other movies that I’d rather see.

There's no national treasure in this movie, only conveniently placed statues that point the right way.

There's no national treasure in this movie, only conveniently placed statues that point the right way.

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Ewan McGregor is in this movie too.

The reason for the relatively quiet opening of Angels and Demons is that the upshot of the entire hullabaloo over The Da Vinci Code was a movie that grossed over three-quarters of a billion dollars worldwide in 2006, including (at the time) the third largest opening weekend in US history.  The Academy’s nominations for best film, which included the exquisite Babel and the endearing Little Miss Sunshine, were virtually invisible next to such widespread interest.  Code obliterated even the summer blockbusters, making nearly as much money as the third X-Men movie and the third Mission Impossible combined.  Clearly if the Catholic Church had planned to deter its flock from straying, they failed miserably.

Or did it?  For once, proper perspective was delivered from Hollywood itself as the film actors’ fought to maintain a semblance of rationality in the midst of the furor.  Tom Hanks, himself a believer, said the story “is loaded with all sorts of hooey and fun kind of scavenger-hunt-type nonsense…  [If critics] are going to take any sort of movie at face value, particularly a huge-budget motion picture like this, [they’d] be making a very big mistake.”  And indeed that was the case: people watched the movie, noted the usual over-the-top Hollywood extravaganza, and went on to their lives.  Evidently, it takes more than a second-rate author and Tom Hanks’ preening charm to fundamentally challenge one’s faith.  Even Hollywood, those Godless mongers of sin, had no such pretensions.  The only lasting impact of the movie for the Catholic Church has been an overwhelmingly positive one.  Tourism to Rome and Vatican City has increased since 2005, when Dan Brown’s book first hit the mainstream.  The movie helped turn viewers onto the rich history and exquisite art of Christianity and if anything has brought some Christians closer to their faith.  The Catholic Church had no reason to be anxious over Brown’s works.  And why should it be; why should the Catholic Church pay mind to this farce of a production?  Is the Smithsonian Institute threatened by National Treasure?

Ewan McGregor is one hood short of a Jedi.

Ewan McGregor is one hood short of a Jedi.

If you think about it, this brilliant line also works in Star Wars.

If you think about it, Ewan McGregor's memorable line in Angels & Demons works in Star Wars.

The greatest flaw of The Da Vinci Code was that it was too respectful of Dan Brown’s work.  It should have treated the novel as National Treasure with arguably even more fantastical theories and conspiracies.  And to that point, credit should go to director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer for eschewing any pretensions of transferring (nonexistent) literary value into the sequel.  The point of the movie is no longer to submit Brown’s convoluted conspiratorial yarns to the viewer through long tedious dialogue, but to produce a watchable action movie.

Compared to its predecessor, Angels is refreshingly brisk and active.  Characters die and disappear from the story arc while the main protagonist (Tom Hanks reprising his role as Professor Robert Langdon) wastes nary a moment on sentimental hogwash.  Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer plays the requisite cardboard-cut-out female protagonist counterpart, Vittoria Vetra, who helps “solve” the clues and fit the puzzle together.  The clues themselves are comical and even make the viewer laugh out loud at the absurdity at points.  They are not sufficiently intricate to offer any hint of realism, but then that is probably an endeavor better suited for prose than motion picture.

Stellan Skarsgård is constantly in the wrong in Angels & Demons.

Stellan Skarsgård is constantly in the wrong in Angels & Demons.

Other formulaic devices abound throughout the movie, though perhaps not to its detriment.  Stellan Skarsgård, one of the more recognizable “oh, that guy is in cinema”, plays the always ridiculous role of the constantly wrong authority figure.  His function within the plot is that of the constant nay-sayer and doubter to make the protagonist’s revelations more poignant and significant.  He is Abigail Chase to Hanks’ Ben Gates, Scully to  Hanks’ Mulder.  Ewan McGregor appears as the Carmelengo Patrick McKenna, the rare role for him that does not involve full frontal nudity or sexual deviance.  His character instead serves to progress the plot and add character ambiguity in an otherwise one-dimensional cast.

Stellan Skarsgård in Pirates of The Carribean:  The World's End.

Stellan Skarsgård in Pirates of The Carribean: The World's End.

I went into Angels and Demons expecting crap and hoping it would be over soon.  I came out having witnessed mediocrity and pleasantly surprised it was over so soon.  As a movie judged on its merits alone, The Da Vinci Code was ill-conceived.  It was a movie that did not know if it was a true motion picture or a running dialogue summarizing Dan Brown’s conspiratorial vision.  And with that basis, Angels must regrettably be deemed a success.  This is a movie that unlike its predessor knows what it is: pure summer blockbuster action movie drivel.  Despite the many hundreds of millions Code earned in the box office, there are few who can say it provided a pleasant movie experience.  And although I cannot in good conscience recommend that people spend their money on this National Treasure-esque farce, if that’s the type of movie you seek, Angles and Demons will satisfy you.

 

Rising stars: Get to know AnnaSophia Robb – Part 1 of 3 April 8, 2009

Hello everyone.  It’s been over a year since I stopped blogging.  I’m coming back now and I’ll start off with a get-to-know series on young actors and actresses.  I’ll begin with AnnaSophia Robb since I’ve been seeing her a lot lately in movies.

Go here for Part 2 of this post -> Rising stars:  Get to know AnnaSophia Robb – Part 2 of 3

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AnnaSophia Robb looking pretty at Park City, Utah


The lovely AnnaSophia Robb is going to be a powerful force in Hollywood.  From the age of three, she wanted to be an entertainer.  At the age of five, AnnaSophia started out on a church stage singing in front of 500 people in her home state of Colorado.  She dreamed big and found her calling in the entertainment industry.  When most kids were simply watching afternoon television and playing sports, AnnaSophia was asking her mother how people get into movies and get on TV.  Her mother told her that she needed an agent.  By the age of eight she was taking acting classes, and by age nine she was finally scouted by an agency.

“I just love to perform. That’s all I can ever remember wanting to do,” AnnaSophia explains. “When I was about 8, I begged my mom for an agent because that’s how I heard actors got started. After taking an acting class, I was invited to come out to L.A. It just all kind of started from there.”

In 2003, she set off on her first round of L.A. auditions during the pilot season.  Her family lived in a guest house as he father worked and her mother drove her around to auditions in the daytime.  More than 40 auditions later, AnnaSophia had finally gotten her first real gig in a commercial advertising Bratz dolls and Happy Meals for McDonalds.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited in my life. I mean, I get excited when I hear that I [got] a movie and it’s really going to happen–I’m always jumping up and down and ” screaming. But this McDonald’s commercial was just the biggest deal ever. We ate cold french fries and old Chicken McNuggets for a really long time. But I thought it was just the best job ever. I loved meeting all of the people and all of the food.” – AnnaSophia Robb on getting her first gig for McDonalds.

Living a double life is not easy.  Young actors and actresses can get caught up in the whole stereotypical Hollywood scene, and they could end up in weekly tabloids or be those child star wonders who only make it for a few years.  They need to face complicated career choices and navigate through the pressures of celebrity culture.  However, AnnaSophia Robb won’t let the fame go to her head.  She’s still living in her hometown in Denver, Colorado and started attending a public school in the area after several years of homeschooling.  When she started freshman year at the new school last fall, many of her classmates were oblivious to who she was until a trailer for her movie ran on national TV during the Super Bowl.

AnnaSophia Robb signing autographs at Sleepwalking premiere

AnnaSophia Robb signing autographs at "Sleepwalking" premiere

“The Race to Witch Mountain ad came on during the Super Bowl and, of course, the whole school watched it.  By Monday, everyone had seen it. They didn’t act any different. It wasn’t like, ‘You are in a movie!’  It was just kind of like, ‘You worked with Dwayne Johnson–that is so cool!  He is so hot!'” – AnnaSophia Robb on being exposed at her high school.

In addition to acting, her other interests include several forms of dancing such as jazz and hip-hop, gymnastics, swimming, skiing, kickboxing, reading, and running on her school’s cross country team.  Here’s a quick rundown on some of her more popular mainstream movies.


Because of Winn-Dixie (2005)

AnnaSophia Robb as Opal with Winn-Dixie

AnnaSophia Robb as Opal with Winn-Dixie

Although she made her acting debut in 2004 after landing some television gigs, it wasn’t until 2005 that she gained popularity on the big screen.  Her first major on screen appearance was an adaptation of a popular children’s book.  On her second trip to L.A., AnnaSophia did three auditions and a screen test…and finally accepted the lead role for Opal in Because of Winn-Dixie.  I saw this movie and it’s one of those funny and touching family movies.  It’s no different than seeing any other Disney movie except there’s no singing, but there is a monkey and a small pig listening to Dave Matthews play the guitar.  Yes, Dave Matthews as in Dave Matthews band.

The movie is about a lonely 10 year old girl who has just moved to the small town of Naomi, Florida.  During the summer, she finds a dog wreaking havoc in a Winn-Dixie supermarket.  She takes the dog in and discovers that Winn-Dixie becomes friends with everyone he meets and she meets new people along the way as well.  Opal rekindles a relationship with her father and discovers that each person in her town had a sad and lonely past.   The dog is the key to bringing everyone together.  She realizes that almost everything good that happened to her over the summer was because of Winn-Dixie.  Cue laughter.  Roll on snare drum.  Females say awwww.

AnnaSophia Robb with director Wayne Wang

AnnaSophia Robb with director Wayne Wang

“Wayne Wang, the director, really helped me become a more mature actress. When I first started filming, I was really over the top. He just helped bring me down and make me real. That was really wonderful, a really wonderful experience. Also, what I learned about filming is it takes forever. I mean, there are so many different angles and shots. I mean, it just takes forever.” – AnnaSophia Robb on what she learned filming her first movie.

On the Ellen Degeneres show


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

AnnaSophia Robb as Violet Beauregarde in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"

AnnaSophia Robb as Violet Beauregarde in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was her second major movie in 2005 and it was a box office hit worldwide.  She played the gum-chewing karate chopping brat Violet Beauregarde.  This movie was a breakout role for her and helped escalate AnnaSophia’s popularity among teen audiences.  I thought this movie was great.  Fantastic cast, visually stunning, and a much better Willy Wonka played by the talented Johnny Depp.  This movie adaptation was also closer to the book.

AnnaSophia Robb at a bubble gum blowing contest

AnnaSophia Robb at a bubble gum blowing contest

Great interview with Diane Sawyer on being Violet Beauregarde

Some Violet Beauregarde scenes from the movie.


Bridge to Terabithia (2007)

AnnaSophia Robb and co-star Josh Hutcherson

AnnaSophia Robb and co-star Josh Hutcherson

Based on an award winning children’s book written by Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia was inspired by her son David Paterson.  During his childhood, David’s friend died and this story was her attempt to make sense of that loss.

This was the second movie I saw AnnaSophia Robb in and she impressed me.  I hadn’t noticed her too much before this movie.  She plays Leslie Burke, an eccentric and charming girl who moves in next door to Jesse Aarons played by Josh Hutcherson.  This role was a natural fit for her.  Bridge to Terabithia really resonated with me because of the parallels to my childhood; mostly my interest in art/drawing, my big imagination, and my love of doing things outdoors when I was a kid.  I didn’t read the book as a kid so I didn’t know what the movie was really about.  When I first saw the trailer to this, I thought oh it looks like another copycat movie to the whole Chronicles of Narnia craze.

I was definitely fooled, as this movie is much deeper and touches on several mature themes.  I can see why they did that for the trailer though.  It’s tough to draw audiences to a fantasy adventure movie like this without having some sort of action sequences.  Many people didn’t read the book though and despite the surprises, many people ended up loving the movie for the story.

AnnaSophia Robb holding Prince Terrien

AnnaSophia Robb holding Prince Terrien

AnnaSophia had read “Bridge to Terabithia” before she auditioned for the film and was already a huge fan.  “I remember I would stay up late reading the book and then wake up and start reading again in the morning,” she says.  “It touched me in a way I hadn’t been touched by a book before.  I really loved the characters and all the imagination.  I think it reminds me that even though I have to grow up, I don’t ever have to stop pretending and imagining.”

AnnaSophia especially felt close to Leslie.  “She’s one of those people who’s just always lit up, who has this glow about her, and no one can bring her down,” she says.  “Leslie’s such a lively and energetic character, it was really fun for me to become her.”

On March 30, 2008, Robb won her first career award when she was named “Leading Young Actress” at the Young Artist Awards for her role in Bridge To Terabithia. The film itself won a Young Ensemble Cast award.

DVD release interview with co-star Josh Hutcherson


The Reaping (2007)

AnnaSophia Robb with Hilary Swank in "The Reaping"

AnnaSophia Robb with Hilary Swank in "The Reaping"

Starring opposite Hilary Swank, AnnaSophia was pretty creepy in this movie playing a child (Loren McConnell) who helps rain 10 horrible plagues on a town.  Most of the acting in this movie was basically just creepy staring and some ambiguous lines.  It seems like every child actor needs to have the obligatory scary kid role.  During the filming of The Reaping, AnnaSophia wrote her own horror story titled “Backseat Swamp” which you can view here on YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wytHiAB9040

AnnaSophia Robb is funny carting around a cow

So strange and funny, I had to put this up

“Being able to do this film with Hilary Swank was, that’s a really big reason why I did it,” explained Robb. “And I just really enjoyed working with her and she gave me some good acting tips. Just acting, being able to do some intense scenes around her, was just really a great opportunity for me. I loved being able to work with her.” – AnnaSophia Robb on working with Hilary Swank

Nice interview with a movie critic


Race to Witch Mountain (2009)

AnnaSophia Robb, Dwayne Johnson, and Alexander Ludwig in "Race to Witch Mountain"

AnnaSophia Robb, Dwayne Johnson, and Alexander Ludwig in "Race to Witch Mountain"

I never saw the original movies so I can’t compare this reboot to the older ones.  However, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is in this and any movie with him is guaranteed to be entertaining.  The guy has awesome screen presence and he’s funny which makes him even better.  AnnaSophia Robb plays an alien named Sara who comes to earth with her brother Seth (played by Alexander Ludwig).  They are searching for a device to save their home world and they enlist the help of a cab driver (Jack Bruno played by Dwayne Johnson) and a UFO expert (played by Carla Gugino).  This movie is supposed to be an action packed “re-imagining” of the original…and I guess it is.  I definitely liked it.  It was entertaining and had plenty of action to steamroll you to the finish.  As far as Disney action movies go, I’m not sure if they could have made this any better.  Bring your kids, family, friends, whatever.

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“I had a hard time not laughing all the time. We were cracking up on set. We had so much fun. Between Andy Fickman and Dwayne, who is such a character and so hilarious, and Alexander, who is like my favorite person in the whole world, we were having such a great time. It was really a happy set.” – AnnaSophia Robb on her experience filming Race to Witch Mountain


These first two videos are dubbed in Russian for the first 40 seconds or so, but the INTERVIEWS are in English.


Funny interview (starts at 40 second mark) between AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, and Dwayne Johnson.  Part 1 of 2

Funny interview (starts at 39 second mark) between AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, and Dwayne Johnson. Part 2 of 2

Rare look behind the scenes with AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, and Andy Fickman

Funny interview with AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig on the Bonnie Hunt show.

AnnaSophia Robb has shown a great acting range and style beyond her years.  The similarity to Dakota Fanning’s success is uncanny.  She’s a powerful force indeed.

I’ll be going through some of her lesser known movies in Part 2.  Stay tuned.

Go here for Part 2 of this post -> Rising stars:  Get to know AnnaSophia Robb – Part 2 of 3

Some quotes taken from GL Magazine.  Some pictures from http://www.annasophia-robb.org/

Links to interviews of ASR

 

I AM LEGEND is a fascinating and fun adventure (Movie Review) December 16, 2007

Filed under: Entertainment,Film,I Am Legend,Movie Reviews,Movies,Will Smith — allyouneediscourage @ 10:51 pm

WARNING:  This review contains a few spoilers.

I AM LEGEND official movie poster

I AM LEGEND is like a mashup of different movies.  It’s part sci-fi action, part horror thriller, and part moral tale of survivalism.  Take Will Smith who is a big movie star and throw him into a movie with a fascinating and gripping view of the end of the world.  What do you get?  Well you get a mostly entertaining movie with a well done first act and a problematic second act that feels rushed.  The movie begins with an interview of Dr. Kripper (Emma Thompson) who is speaking about her scientific breakthrough in finding a cure for cancer. She has taken the Measles virus and altered it at a genetic level so that it attacks only cancerous cells.  The treatment has proven 100% effective in over 10, 000 clinical trials.  Of course, this cure is too good to be true and something goes horribly wrong.

I AM LEGEND Will Smith sits by destroyed Brooklyn bridge

Most of the movie takes place in 2012 in a desolate and ravaged New York City.  The opening scenes in this movie contain special effects that are excellent, and it really creates a realistic yet almost magical view of a dead city.  Because there is no upkeep to the city, weeds are rampantly growing, buildings are crumbling, and wild animals run free.  Robert Neville is apparently the last man on earth after that miraculous cure for cancer mutated into a deadly virus.  This virus had an infection rate of about 90% which basically turned the world’s population into “The Infected”.  Of the remaining survivors, 1% had immunity and this number was drastically reduced when the infected population turned on the survivors.  Neville has not seen anyone for three years and his only companion is his daughter’s pet dog named Sam.  It is explained that some animals are immune to the airborne virus, but they are still vulnerable to contracting the virus through physical contact with infected.

Every night, Robert Neville goes into lockdown mode inside a barricaded house in Greenwich Village.  The doors have giant locks, the windows have heavy metal shutters, and there is a gun in almost every room of the house.  Then the inhuman screaming begins as infected survivors roam the streets looking for things to kill.  The CGI for The Infected is absolutely horrendous by modern standards.  They resemble predatory zombies yet have vampire-like traits and weaknesses:  warped pale flesh, reactive to UV light, drawn to the scent of blood, fang-like teeth, extremely strong, and very quick movement.  At first they are scary, especially the superb suspense buildup in the first encounter with The Infected inside an abandoned warehouse.  After that scene, they are just not that scary.  Facial expressions, movement, the eyes, the skin, everything about them looks heavily computer generated and this really takes away the plausability of such creatures.  It seems these zombie vampires just serve the purpose of being lame cookie cutter menaces.  But really, this movie is not supposed to be like 28 DAYS LATER so this aspect of the movie can be excused.

I AM LEGEND Will Smith with family escaping Manhattan

I AM LEGEND Will Smith sleeping in bathub with dog Sam

For the most part, this movie is about the struggle of Robert Neville.  It’s difficult to imagine what it would be like to be deprived of human contact for a few months let alone several years.  It’s even more difficult to imagine losing your entire family in a matter of seconds, then having the willpower to commit yourself to finding a cure for this virus which has destroyed humanity.  Robert Neville faces this harsh reality and basically looks forward to a future of despair.  However, everyday at midday he goes to the dock by the Hudson river, transmits a radio message, and hopes for survivors.  He has a laboratory in the basement where he conducts experiments for a cure with disappointing results.  He manages to go about hunting and gathering food when he’s tired of canned variety.  There are mannequins that he set up around a video rental store, and he jokingly talks to them everytime he visits the store for another rental.  He has gone a bit crazy, but he still remembers his mission and what he promised the day when Manhattan was quarantined.  This is his Ground Zero.  He can still fix this.

The buildup into the second half of the movie is good, but the actual second half feels rushed.  After a sad event that breaks Neville’s spirit, he attempts a suicidal act at night in an SUV.  Just as he is about to be killed, he is somehow saved by a woman named Anna and her son.  There’s little to no explanation about how they managed to get into Manhattan, perhaps by boat since all the bridges have been decimated by military aircraft.  The next day, Neville wakes up surprised to find himself alive in his home.  The following events seem to just fly by in 20 minutes.  Anna claims to know of a colony of survivors in Vermont.  It seems absurd that they went through all this trouble just to find one man.  There’s some religious material about God injected into the second half that’s unconvincing.  When night falls, the sounds of infected can be heard approaching the house because Anna made the mistake of driving through the city before the sun came up.  What a convenient way to present the final action scene.  Somehow through all the chaos, it is found that one of the potions concocted by Neville earlier in the movie seems to actually work in reversing the effects of infection, but how?  Given a few changes, this movie could have been truly excellent, but the second act just seemed to collapse into rapid fire scenes and missed opportunities that only raise questions.

I AM LEGEND Will Smith walking abandoned street with dog Sam

I AM LEGEND does contain many memorable scenes, such as the moments between Neville and his dog, the evacuation scene of Manhattan when he’s saying goodbye to his family, and the first encounter with The Infected.  This is one of Will Smith’s better movies and for the most part, his acting is above average.  He really does deliver a pretty solid performance.  The scenes of a deserted New York City are effective and provide an enlightening vision of what the world would look like without us.  Overall, I AM LEGEND is a fun, inventive, and fascinating adventure.

SCORE:  B+

Smith’s ‘Legend’ grows with $76.5M debut – Yahoo! News