Zombies just won't die! Sounds pat, but it's true — the trend has been ongoing for so long now, I guess it's more than just that.
Even the kids are getting in on the undead action these days. Although ParaNorman (opening this Friday - see our review here) is definitely aimed at children, you'd never know it when interviewing the actors.
One of the first things voice-actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse said at the recent press conference (in reference to another movie of his, Kickass 2) was, "I'm a bastard-motherf*cker!" Then he referenced a missing rape scene. I have no idea what Kickass 2 is about (still haven't seen the first one), but I hope he won't be quite as verbose when discussing ParaNorman, which is rated PG.
Kodi Smit-McPhee, as the title character main star of the animated 3D stop motion feature, told me he actually became interested in the medium — "I attempted to make a stop motion film… and I will never, ever do it again!" He will stick to just doing the voices, from now on. Kodi said he relates to Norman because he's a misunderstood kid who finds purpose. "This is a lot more fun than The Road, and Let Me In, because kids can watch it." He loves the characters who are ghosts, and likes how the story plays out to show weirdness is indeed a virtue. "It's not bad to be weird. I love being weird."
Actress and onscreen big sister to Kodi, Anna Kendrick, was also on hand to talk about the film and when asked if it was difficult to go back in time, chronologically, she said, "No, I can easily tap into my inner obnoxious teen!" However, when we met Kodi, she felt bad about having to be so mean to Norman. If she could be any other character, she said, "I'd want to be the witch." How scary is it for kids? "It's exciting and intense, but not scary. The monsters are fun, there are lots of twists and it's always keeping you guessing."
Definitely too scary for kids — and many adults! — is the upcoming zombies for real in-your-face action rated R horror movie, Resident Evil 5: Retribution, which sees the return of fan fave, Michelle Rodriguez.
"It wasn’t really much of a challenge to return," she said, even though it has been a decade since she set foot in the Umbrella Corp. "It’s so easy to work with these guys. I had two weeks' worth of prep. I have two personalities. I’ve got my good side, and I’ve got my bad side. Since it’s split like that, it’s only my bad personality that fights so much. Being that that real estate within the film is so small, I only needed two weeks' worth of real training to really get down all the moves that I needed. I had to memorize 90 moves, and it’s not that hard. The stunt double was doing all the wirework, so I didn’t get to have any of that fun. I’m not a professional martial artist, so who am I kidding? But, it was fun to watch her. I was sitting there, eating my snacks and saying, “That looks cool! I wish I could do that!”’
Star Milla Jovovich & Director Paul W.S. Anderson
At what point did they start thinking about this film? Milla Jovovich: What is so amazing about Paul and the way that he works, and the way the Resident Evil franchise has grown, is the fact that it’s not a machine-turned-out franchise. We don’t have a movie coming out every year because we need to fill that slot. It could be every two years. It could be every three years. It’s all about Paul’s imagination and what sparks it, whether it’s CapCom calling and saying, “We have this new monster,’ or a dream, or seeing something on the news. Whatever inspires him, he’s like, “I’ve got this idea,” and two weeks later, there’s the first draft of the script. There’s always this honesty and this organic feeling about the way he writes, and the way these movies come out, that is never scheduled or timed. It’s always, when the inspiration comes, he takes advantage of it and writes it. I think what keeps it fresh is that it’s always fresh for Paul. It’s not like a, “Okay, I have to write another one,” head-in-the porridge kind of feeling.
Paul W.S. Anderson: There is always an excitement about making these movies.
After so many films in the series, has this become more than just a franchise that you go and direct?
Jovovich: It’s been that way, from the first movie.
Anderson: Yeah, that’s how it was on the first film. Milla came to make the movie because she played the game and loved the game, and it was the same for me.
Jovovich: And Michelle Rodriguez.
Anderson: Everyone was passionate about the subject matter. For me, I was passionate about re-energizing the genre that existed when I was a kid. No one had seen an undead movie for 15 or 20 years. There was a great deal of passion and energy that went into the first film, and that’s always continued. I think that’s one of the strengths of the franchise. That’s why the franchise continues to grow. It’s very rare, in a movie franchise, where you have the same creative team behind the camera and in front of the camera, pretty much for the entire growth of the franchise. It’s really in passionate hands.
Jovovich: What makes these movies wonderful is the fact that the Resident Evil universe is amazing. From when I started playing these games with my little brother, when he was 13 and I was 22 or 23, there was that feeling of, “I love this world and it’s really freaky. As soon as the sun goes down, suddenly you get a little nervous.” It was always such a well-beloved, but not the most well-known, game. I know Michelle [Rodriguez] and I got attracted to it because it was the cool underground game. Suddenly, it was this little Europe action-horror flick. Everybody came into it, not asking for paychecks or dressing rooms, but for the love of the game.
= = =
Staci Layne Wilson reporting