The ‘Kong: Skull Island’ Monsters Were Inspired by ‘Princess Mononoke’

kong skull island

The trailers for Kong: Skull Island feel like some kind of bizarre fever dream given a blockbuster budget and I mean that in the nicest way imaginable. I’m not entirely sure what director Jordan Vogt-Roberts is cooking up with this one, but I sure like the look of the menu: Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L. Jackson battling giant monsters on King Kong’s island home in the ’70s with a disheveled John C. Reilly on hand to provide exposition while the posters deliberately borrow imagery from Apocalypse Now? Holy cow. Sign me up.

So yeah, it makes perfect sense that Hayao Miyazaki‘s Princess Mononoke was also a touchstone for the production. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Skull Island itself is shaped like a kitchen sink.

This new tidbit comes our way via an interview with Vogt-Roberts over at JoBlo, where the Kings of Summer director explained that it was important for each of the Kong Skull Island monsters to radiate both horror and awe:

The creatures are a big thing. Jurassic World obviously owns the dinosaur thing right now. If Kong is the God of this island, we wanted each of the creatures to feel like they’re individual gods of their own domain. Miyazaki and Princess Mononoke was actually a big reference in the way that the spirit creatures sort of have their own domains and fit within that. A big thing was trying to design creatures that felt realistic and could exist in an ecosystem that feels sort of wild and out there, and then also design things that simultaneously felt beautiful and horrifying at the same time. Where if you look at this giant spider or water buffalo, you stare at, a part of you says, ‘that’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen’ and ‘oh my god, that’s going to kill me right now, I need to run for my life!

This has always been one of my favorite elements of Miyazaki’s work – he recognizes the beauty of the worlds he creates while never forgetting that nature (whether it be real or fictitious) is harsh, unforgiving, and often indifferent to your mere human feelings. For every Totoro, there’s a number of less fluffy and far less less friendly creatures waiting to chomp your bones. Princess Mononoke, which was released in 1997 and is a full-stop masterpiece, is one of his toughest, gnarliest movies, a fantasy adventure enraptured by the glorious beauty and equally glorious ugliness of nature.

I find this point of comparison for Kong: Skull Island to be fascinating, reflecting the wide range of influences Vogt-Roberts seems to be bringing to the film. Hell, any filmmaker making a King Kong movie who pauses to think about Princess Mononke is a filmmaker I’d like to follow. For his first big studio outing, Vogt-Roberts seems to be going all-in and making the kind of crazy, personal film that some filmmakers wait a lifetime to make. I can’t wait to see if it all comes together when the film opens on March 10, 2017.

The post The ‘Kong: Skull Island’ Monsters Were Inspired by ‘Princess Mononoke’ appeared first on /Film.


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‘The Walking Dead’ Will Have Less Main Character Deaths; Watch Midseason Premiere Promo

the walking dead characters

The characters who’ve survived so far in The Walking Dead comics have probably lived this long for a reason. Since Robert Kirkman’s black-and-white zombie comic started in 2003, quite a few prominent characters have been killed off in the zombie wasteland. The series is famous for some memorable death scenes. Season seven of the television series, which returns in less than two weeks, was even hyped up over the death of one character — a tease in the season six finale that polarized fans.

Kirkman says, at least in the comics, not to expect too many major deaths in the near future. Below, read what else he had to say about the fate of his characters and watch a promo for the second half of season seven of The Walking Dead.

Kirkman recently completed the Whisperer War storyline. The war left only one major character dead, which might’ve surprised a few fans. For Kirkman, killing off only one central figure was the logical choice to him. In issue #163, he explained why:

In my opinion, there should be less death in the book now, much less, because the careless people, the scared people, the people learning how to live in this world are already dead. This is the cream of the crop, so to speak. So, yes, there can be a conflict like the Whisperer War, and there can be very little death. You think Michonne is going to just let herself get bitten by a zombie or stabbed by a Whisperer at this point? It wouldn’t be believable! Rick, Andrea, Carl, Jesus, Dwight, Negan, Maggie, these people are tempered steel! That’s not to say they’re invulnerable, or ‘safe’ now but it would take a lot to kill them.

You don’t survive as long as Rick, Andrea, Negan, Maggie, and the rest of the crew have by acting stupid in those scenarios. The fact that they’re faster, stronger, and harder to kill makes perfect sense. Also, The Walking Dead deaths can only target main characters for so long until there’s nobody left to follow, so of course Rick and everybody are going to stick around a little while longer.

In a promo for the season 7 midseason premiere of The Walking Dead, though, the characters appear far more vulnerable (via IGN):

As stated above, the season six finale wasn’t satisfactory for all fans. The people who weren’t fans of the ending shouldn’t expect the same mistake twice with the season seven finale. “I think everyone on The Walking Dead creative team has taken note of that, and I don’t know that I would expect a similar cliffhanger at the end of season 7,” Kirkman said.

Here’s the official synopsis for the second half of Season 7:

The first half of Season 7 saw Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the group broken by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), forced to fall under his will and brutally convinced to live under his rules. The second half of the season will focus on preparing for war and gathering the supplies and numbers to take Negan down once and for all.

Rick’s group will find out yet again that the world isn’t what they thought it was. It’s much bigger than anything they’ve seen so far. While they have a singular purpose – to defeat Negan – it won’t come easy. More importantly, victory will require more than Alexandria. They need the numbers of the Kingdom and the Hilltop, but, similar to how Rick felt, Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Gregory (Xander Berkeley) do not want bloodshed. To convince them otherwise will take more than speeches. The lengths Rick and the group will have to go to in order to find weapons, food and new fighters is nothing short of remarkable.

We’ll meet new survivors in incredible places. We’ll see Rick and the group tested in ways we’ve never seen before. We’ll see treachery from people we trust. Rick is confident as he will see his group and many others band together with the common goal of taking down Negan. But no amount of planning will prepare the group for all-out war with Negan and his army.

The Walking Dead returns to AMC on February 12.

The post ‘The Walking Dead’ Will Have Less Main Character Deaths; Watch Midseason Premiere Promo appeared first on /Film.


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Character Introductions: Part 5

Think there’s nothing to introducing characters in a script? Think again!

Over the next few weeks, I’m doing a deep dive into the subject of character introductions. Why the hell would I do that?

Read Part 1 for background.

Part 2 here.

Part 3 here.

Part 4 here.

Part 5: Physicality and Personality

I can not tell you how many times I have read a character’s introduction where the writer’s exclusive focus has been on describing that individual’s physical attributes. The color of their hair (blonde, brunette), the general shape of their body (tall, short, skinny, fat), how they might be perceived by the public (handsome, beautiful, frumpy). Sometimes the descriptions are pretty scant, sometimes the descriptions run on and on, down to the figure’s dress, pants, shoes, and socks.

Here’s the thing: A character’s physical description may be important, but it is almost never necessary unless what is being described is tied directly to something of meaning about who that individual is.

Let me put that another way to drive home the point: The only time you should describe physical attributes is if they convey something of significance about the character, some meaningful and memorable aspect of their personality as it relates to that figure’s involvement in the playing out of the story.

There are two guidelines about describing a character’s physical details when they are introduced:

· Is this information important?

· Why is this information important?

The key to these questions is almost always about how what is described reflects the character’s persona. Thus whenever you are tempted to comment upon a character’s physicality, you should always link that decision with their personality.

Physicality and Personality

People make choices about the clothes they wear. Those choices are an extension of their personality. A person who wraps herself up in a mink coat to go shopping at a grocery store is likely a considerably different individual than someone who is adorned in a leisure suit. Or how about the way the Dude is introduced in the script The Big Lebowski [written by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen]:

Bermuda shorts and sunglasses [at night!] are tied directly to the Dude’s personality: “a man in whom casualness runs deep.” Thus an important visual reference.

Sometimes a character has no choice about how they appear to the world. In the script Avatar [written by James Cameron], the Protagonist Jake Sully is introduced this way:

Wheelchair conveys crucial information about Sully’s physical condition. The description of his eyes [“hardened by the wisdom and wariness of one who has endured pain beyond his years”] speaks directly to the character’s personality.

And what of body features and how they can reflect on a character’s persona? In the script Black Swan [written by Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz and John J. McLaughlin], here is how the Protagonist Nina is introduced:

Nina’s bare feet say it all: corns, blisters, bunions, proof of the hard work she endures as a ballerina and her commitment to that hard work.

There are many components of a character’s physicality a writer may focus on when introducing them. Here are some of the key ones:

· Body: type, size.

· Face: expression, shape.

· Hair: style, appearance.

· Eyes: focus, outline.

· Mouth: language, contour.

· Gait: movement, speed.

· Attire: design, economics

· Demeanor: attitude, movement.

All of these present opportunities to help craft a compelling and memorable introduction, but none of them mean anything unless they convey something of importance about the character’s inner self and speak to their personality.

Another consideration on how much detail to go into is the importance of the character to the story. That brings us to the subject of primary, secondary and tertiary characters.

That’s the subject of tomorrow’s post.


Character Introductions: Part 5 was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

‘The Blackcoat’s Daughter’ Trailer: Starring the Girl From ‘Mad Men,’ the Girl From ‘Sing Street,’ and the Devil, Probably

the blackcoat's daughter trailer

I’ve been looking forward to seeing The Blackcoat’s Daughter ever since I missed it during Fantastic Fest 2015, back when it was still going by its original title, February. Oz Perkins‘ directorial debut inspired a great deal of conversation throughout the festival, with audiences split over whether or not it was a gem or…let’s just say “not a gem.” Any film that can stir up that divide people and get them talking is a must-see.

After a lengthy delay, the film is set to arrive soon and an atmospheric new trailer has shown up.

The trailer is light on plot but heavy on mood, with Mad Men‘s Kiernan Shipka and Sing Street‘s Lucy Boynton playing girls who are left alone at their prep school over winter break when their parents never show up. And then awful things start to happen, things involving evil forces and “brutal bloody violence,” as the MPAA warning promises us. Emma Roberts is also on hand, playing a character heading toward the school for reasons unknown.

Here’s The Blackcoat’s Daughter trailer:

It’s an extremely effective trailer, reminding me very much of last year’s incredible The Witch (and if it’s half as good, we’re in for something cool). For a taste of what to expect, Perkins’ second film, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, is currently streaming on Netflix.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter will premiere exclusively on DirecTV on February 16 before A24 releases it in theaters on March 31. Here’s the official synopsis:

A deeply atmospheric and terrifying new horror film, THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER centers on Kat (Kiernan Shipka) and Rose (Lucy Boynton), two girls who are left alone at their prep school Bramford over winter break when their parents mysteriously fail to pick them up.  While the girls experience increasingly strange and creepy occurrences at the isolated school, we cross cut to another story—that of Joan (Emma Roberts), a troubled young woman on the road, who, for unknown reasons, is determined to get to Bramford as fast as she can. As Joan gets closer to the school, Kat becomes plagued by progressively intense and horrifying visions, with Rose doing her best to help her new friend as she slips further and further into the grasp of an unseen evil force.  The movie suspensefully builds to the moment when the two stories will finally intersect, setting the stage for a shocking and unforgettable climax.

The post ‘The Blackcoat’s Daughter’ Trailer: Starring the Girl From ‘Mad Men,’ the Girl From ‘Sing Street,’ and the Devil, Probably appeared first on /Film.


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A forgotten 1986 novel predicted a terrible Trump-like president

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An erratic president causes unprecedented chaos in his first two weeks in office. He lashes out at Australia, threatens to invade Mexico, imposes an anti-terrorism travel ban that makes terrorism more likely, and shoots off angry missives at the New York Times when he should be coordinating a military raid from the situation room. 

That’s all Donald Trump. What, did you think I was going to tell you behavior this bad was predicted in a 1986 satirical novel? 

Yes, there are plenty of Trumpian echoes in the book in question — Christopher Buckley’s forgotten bestseller, appropriately named The White House Mess. But for the most part, what it shows us is how far below regular satire this presidency has sunk.  Read more…

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‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ boss explains that literal cliffhanger in the Season 2 finale

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Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Season 2 finale of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, titled “Can Josh Take a Leap of Faith?”

There are a lot of twists and turns in the final episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 2.

But showrunners Rachel Bloom (who also stars as Rebecca Bunch) and Aline Brosh McKenna always knew exactly what line to end with:

“Josh Chan must be destroyed.”

That’s right, after two seasons of obsessing over Josh Chan — aka the reason she moved to West Covina, California — Rebecca Bunch has had a change of heart. Why? Josh Chan left her at the altar for … God? (He’s going to become a priest.) Read more…

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