September 28, 2006
Trio of films offers eclectic choices: sea, spies, punk
(Page 2 - Previous Page)
Audiences will get a chance to get to know the Bad Brains, Minor Threat and Black Flag, bands that have haunted Blush all these years when the rockumentary opens on Sept. 29 at the Nuart. If there's a lore to Blush's Hardcore, it would have to be that it doesn't matter much what moves you, as long as you can be inspired to make some movement as a human being.
-- Karla Blume, Contributing Writer
"Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker"
Anthony Horowitz, a tall, dark-haired man, sits down on a comfortable couch on the 12th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel. He has written "roughly a book a year for the past quarter century," including mysteries, as well as TV shows, but he says, "children's books are my passion and, possibly, my forte."
Horowitz is here to talk about "Stormbreaker," the first book in his Alex Rider series of children's books, which he has adapted into the upcoming film, "Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker," to be released Oct. 13 by MGM and the Weinstein Co.
He looks quite relaxed, even as he recounts his often harrowing childhood. He attended boarding school beginning at age 8 and says he was "beaten until his legs bled" by his teachers. Though the beatings started early, so did his desire, his need, to be a writer. "I was a writer," he says. "There was no choice."
He began by telling tales after the lights went out at bedtime to his classmates. "It helps to have had shadows in your childhood," the 51-year-old writer says. "Stories were a lifeline."
While he was "being brutalized" at schools like Rugby, he was also "being spoiled" at home by his wealthy parents. He lived in "a huge house with servants," he says.
He may have known that his father made money, but he did not know much else about him. "My father was an odd man," he says. "To this day, I don't know what he did. He was a fixer, a businessman."
Horowitz has drawn upon this cryptic background in writing the Alex Rider series. In "Stormbreaker," Alex Rider, the 14-year-old protagonist, knows nothing of his parents and thinks his uncle, who dies early on, was a banker. As it turns out, his late uncle was a spy working for MI6, the legendary British intelligence service that employed the fictional James Bond.
After his uncle's death, Alex also becomes a spy for MI6. This teenage James Bond foils the plot by evil mastermind Darius Sayle, played in the movie by Mickey Rourke, to poison English schoolchildren with a smallpox virus that has been implanted in a newfangled computer, the Stormbreaker.
Director Geoffrey Sax and producers Marc and Peter Samuelson chose Alex Pettyfer, a former child model, for the lead. He is tall, athletic and physically strong enough to be convincing in the fight scenes with adults, of which there are plenty. Whereas in the book Rider delivers a karate kick to one thug in a chop shop, in the movie the boy holds off and vanquishes five men after ejecting himself from his deceased uncle's high-tech BMW.
This is just one of the many changes from the book, which came out in 2000. Others may seem politically correct in this post Sept. 11 age. For instance, in the book, Sayle is a diabolical computer magnate of Egyptian descent, bearing the improbable first name of Herod. Horowitz says that he chose the name of the King of Judea as a joke, a pun on Harrod's, the famous department store in England, and he chose Egypt as his bad guy's country of origin because, as he says almost without irony, "Egypt seemed like such a neutral country in a way. I didn't want to make a political statement."
Horowitz says he wrote many of Rourke's lines, including the ones when his Sayle complains of being bullied and traumatized by his English schoolboy peers "with passion." Although Sayle is unquestionably a bad guy, Horowitz says that "he's still motivated by something very human."
Besides the Bond movies, the other obvious influence on Horowitz has been J.K. Rowling. At the time that Rowling burst on the scene with "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," Horowitz was writing comic novels about a young boy with magical powers. Horowitz, who says he is "an enormous fan" of the Potter books, immediately switched to writing about someone in the real world.
Alex has no magical powers. He may be viewed as a sexier version of Harry Potter, but his gifts all come from hard work, years of training in the martial arts and mountain climbing. Still, it is difficult to think of him as being devoid of wizardry when he can beat up members of the Special Forces and speak several foreign languages at the age of 14. Horowitz, who knew little of his own father, does not necessarily see any of himself in Alex: "If you make him Jewish, that makes him belong more to one group of kids than others. In a world where adults are at each others' throats, kids are all basically at heart the same."
-- Robert David Jaffee, Contributing Writer
1 | 2