LOS ANGELES (AP) — Leaving behind the original's grungy Jakarta tenement setting for the luxurious hangouts of Indonesia's organized crime overlords, "The Raid 2" pumps up its production values several notches. Even so, it's easy to imagine that one of the biggest items on the budget might be the orthopedics bill, since this orgy of broken bones and vicious badassery makes its cult predecessor look like a peevish bitch-slap. Lining up bloody showdowns like the dizzying acts of a hyper-violent ballet, Gareth Evans' sequel invites accusations of, ahem, overkill. But the fanboys will eat it up.
By Piya Sinha-Roy LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The soundtrack to Disney's "Frozen" showed no signs of slowing down four months after its release, as sales for the album hit a high note and held the top spot on the Billboard 200 album chart on Wednesday. "Frozen," which features the Oscar-winning song "Let It Go," sold 202,000 copies last week according to figures from Nielsen SoundScan, its biggest sales week since its November 25 release. Alt-rockers Foster the People debuted its latest record "Supermodel" at No. 3, electronic music DJ Skrillex came in at No. 4 with "Recess" and grunge rockers The Pretty Reckless notched No. 5 with "Going to Hell." Latin pop crooner Enrique Iglesias' latest studio album "Sex and Love" clocked in at No. 8 in its opening week, while rockers Taking Back Sunday rounded out the top ten with "Happiness Is." For the week ending March 23, overall album sales totaled 4.7 million, Billboard said, down 22 percent from the comparable sales week in 2013.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Diego Luna's heartfelt biographical drama, "Cesar Chavez," chronicles the five-year struggle of the United Farm Workers co-founder in the 1960s to get California grape growers to the negotiating table to hammer out fair wages and better conditions for exploited field laborers. It's a stirring story of a real-life fight for social justice, and clearly a passion project for the Mexican actor-turned-director. But while the film's old-fashioned virtues and the integrity of its subject matter give it some traction, pedestrian handling, a lumpy script and some significant miscasting mean it only occasionally summons the dramatic power to match the events it depicts.
The actress is attached to headline this indie drama in the role of an aging rock star. Coming off of her role in "August: Osage County," Meryl Streep has agreed to play an aging rock star in "Ricky and the Flash," Thewrap.com reports. The character attempts to reconnect with her children after decades of being estranged from them, mainly due to her thirst for glory and excess. The indie drama was penned by Diablo Cody, the screenwriter behind "Juno" and "Young Adult." Jonathan Demme ("The Silence of the Lambs," "Rachel Getting Married") will direct the feature, which is not currently attached to a production studio.
After playing a powerful American senator in the political series "House of Cards," Kevin Spacey could portray an iconic British politician in this biopic. "Captain of the Gate" will pay homage to the great orator and military strategist Winston Churchill, who was twice prime minister of Britain (1940-1945 and 1951-1955). According to the Hollywood Reporter, the feature will focus primarily on Churchill's rise to power and his appointment as prime minister of the coalition government in 1940, at age 65.
By Eric Kelsey LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After spending a decade at the Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the "Harry Potter" film franchise, actress Emma Watson put her magical training to good use for her first big budget post-Potter role, in biblical action blockbuster "Noah." In director Darren Aronofsky's movie, out in U.S. and Canadian theaters on Friday, Watson plays Ila, the wife of Noah's eldest son, Shem, who is played by Douglas Booth. The film distributed by Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures stars Russell Crowe as the ark-building Noah and Jennifer Connelly as his wife, Naameh, in a dark, psychological reimagining of the Old Testament flood story.
The fiery car accident last year that killed "Fast & Furious" actor Paul Walker was caused by excessive speed and not a mechanical failure, the Los Angeles County Sheriff said on Tuesday, concluding its almost four-month investigation. The red Porsche Carrera GT sports car driven by Walker's friend Roger Rodas, 38, was traveling at speeds of 80 to 93 miles per hour (129 to 150 kilometers per hour) before Rodas lost control of the car and crashed into trees and a utility pole in Santa Clarita, California, northwest of Los Angeles. "Investigators determined the cause of the fatal solo-vehicle collision was unsafe speed for the roadway conditions," Los Angeles County Sheriff Commander Mike Parker said in a statement. Walker, 40, died from traumatic injuries and burns while Rodas died of multiple traumatic injuries in the one-car crash on November 30, the Los Angeles County coroner's office determined in January.