Shakespeare and Draco Malfoy go looking for the body of Jesus in Clavius (formerly known as Resurrection)

josephfiennesJoseph Fiennes — best known perhaps for playing the title character in Shakespeare in Love — has been cast as an agnostic Roman centurion who goes looking for the body of Jesus in a film called Clavius. Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, has also been cast in the film in an unspecified role.

Clavius is one of a number of films that were first put into development in the years following The Passion of the Christ — and like, say, Christ the Lord, it is only now going into production after years of rewrites and moving from one company to another, etc., etc.

It all began in 2007, when Hyde Park hired Paul Aiello to write Risen: The Story of the First Easter. Then, in 2013, LD Entertainment hired Kevin Reynolds to rewrite the film with Karen Janszen and direct it under the title Resurrection. And now, according to Deadline, Reynolds is going to start shooting the film in Malta and Spain this month, aiming for an Easter 2015 release date.

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He’s Pharaoh! He’s Moses! He’s somebody else entirely! Ben Kingsley talks Exodus, appears in Night at the Museum trailer

vlcsnap-2014-07-31-22h09m42s196Two movies. Same studio. Coming out only a week apart. Both of them have something to do with ancient Egypt. And both of them star Ben Kingsley in a prominent supporting role.

One of those movies is Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, the third in the series about a bunch of museum exhibits that come to life at night. The series already has a Pharaoh — Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek), who appears in all three films — but Kingsley joins the series as yet another Pharaoh in this newest film.

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Noah on Blu-Ray: some quick notes on the bonus features

noah-target-aThe Noah Blu-Ray is here — and with it, a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff that we have never seen before. Here are some quick notes on the bonus features.

First, a reminder that different editions of the film come with different bonus features.

As far as I know, seven bonus features have been released one way or another so far, and all of them are available on the “exclusive” Target edition of the Blu-Ray. (The bilingual packaging on the disc I bought here in Canada listed only six bonus features, but the actual disc had all seven.) But only three of them are available on the Blu-Ray that is available everywhere else.

Also, three bonus features are apparently included if you purchase the film directly from iTunes (if you use iTunes to get the free “digital copy” that comes with your disc, you won’t get any bonus features, just the film), but one of the iTunes bonus features is actually from the Target disc and not from the regular Blu-Ray.

Confused yet? I’ll try to sort it all out below.

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The Bible and Son of God: just how different are they?

sonofgod-bluray-aIf you’re the sort of person who has wondered just how much overlap there was between The Bible and its big-screen spin-off Son of God, have I got the spreadsheet for you!

It’s still a work in progress, but for now, anyone who is interested can download it from this Dropbox link. The basic idea is this: in one column, I list the timecodes for every scene from the last five episodes of The Bible (with the episode number where the hour would be), and in another, I list the timecodes for every scene in Son of God.

The advantages of this format are twofold: First, you can compare the relative lengths of the two versions of any given scene; more often than not, the movie tightened things up a tad, but every now and then the movie padded things out by adding elements that were missing from the miniseries. And second, because the movie added some scenes, deleted some scenes, and rearranged some other scenes, you can select either column and list all the scenes from one version of the film in the order in which they appeared in that version.

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“Drug dealers, money launderers, and kidnappers”: Esquire looks at what happened to Benedict Fitzgerald and his proposed prequel to The Passion of the Christ

benedictfitzgeraldThe Passion of the Christ was such a huge hit ten years ago that many people wanted a sequel. Mel Gibson never showed any interest in making one, but his screenwriter Benedict Fitzgerald certainly did — or, to be more precise, Fitzgerald proposed making a prequel about the mother of Jesus, which he initially called Myriam, Mother of the Christ.

I have been keeping tabs on this film ever since it was first announced in January 2007, but the film itself has never been made. Instead, there have been persistent rumours and reports — the title has changed a couple times, and different actors were rumoured to be up for the part of Herod the Great, etc. — and now comes the wildest, craziest report of them all. Esquire magazine posted a story yesterday with the headline ‘How the Mother of All Sequels Crashed and Burned’, and it explains in some detail how Fitzgerald’s ambitions were derailed by “drug dealers, money launderers, and kidnappers”. It also gets into his lawsuit against Gibson.

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DVD review: Heaven Is for Real (dir. Randall Wallace, 2014)

The first thing you notice, when you pop the Heaven Is for Real disc into your player, is the trailers. Four of the five trailers that kick things off are for “faith-based” films of one sort or another, all of them co-produced by Sony’s Affirm Films division. (The films in question are When The Game Stands Tall, Moms’ Night Out, Courageous and Soul Surfer.) But nestled in the middle of that pack is a trailer for… The Amazing Spider-Man 2. One of these things is not like the other, right?

The funny thing is, the inclusion of that ad makes perfect sense — and not just because the Spider-Man films are also distributed by Sony. If you’ve seen Heaven Is for Real, then you know that Colton Burpo, the boy whose near-death experience the film is all about, has a toy Spider-Man. Indeed, the book on which the film is based mentions this toy a few times, and on page 33, the toy is explicitly described as “Colton’s favorite toy, his Spider-Man action figure.” (The bulk of the book takes place in 2003, i.e. one year after the first Spider-Man film.)

So the presence of Spider-Man on this disc isn’t just a case of corporate synergy. Even so, the inclusion of this detail, combined with the exclusion of other, more pertinent details from the book, serves as a helpful reminder that this film is no mere independent Christian film, but reflects a major studio’s effort to cater to the “faith-based” market while appealing to the broadest possible audience.

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