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    Riportiamo integralmente l' INTERVISTA con Jan de Bont, director of "Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life"

    Exclusive Interview By Thomas Chau in New York City

    Jan (pronounced YAHN) de Bont takes on the Tomb Raider series by bringing with him the kind of spirit, attitude, and creativity needed for such a franchise. Jan de Bont spent several years as a cinematographer on films such as “Lethal Weapon 3,” “Basic Instinct,” “Die Hard,” and “The Hunt for Red October.” In addition to his camera skills, he reinvented the action genre with his first ever movie as a director, “Speed.” Later in 1996, he quickly followed up with “Speed” with the box-office smash, “Twister,” starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton.

    Jan de Bont now directs Angelina Jolie in “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life.” An avid fan of the Lara Croft franchise and video game, he jumped into the project with the enthusiasm and determination to make “The Cradle of Life” a better sequel.

    I recently sat down with Jan in NYC for a private interview about his latest cinematic piece, for a UGO.com exclusive.

    Tom: The use of CGI has played a prominent role in this year’s summer actions films. Do you think we’re seeing the death of classic action films?

    Jan: I don’t think so. One of the projects I’m currently looking at is a movie that has hardly any CGI. All the action and stunts are done in real life on camera. But the problem is that those films are harder to make. It’s more dangerous, and it demands a lot more physical action and stunts. And it’s not necessarily cheaper either. By the quality of CGI, audiences are now so used to it. They don’t know what is CGI and what is real. For instance, in the sequence where they fly off the Hong Kong building in this movie, everybody who’s seen is convinced that it has to be CGI, or a composite shot, or whatever, but it’s not, that’s all real. So as a director, you try to find what is creative.

    How do you think technology will change action films ten years from now?

    Um, I think it’s a little hard to go that far ahead. I think that [they’re] going to hold back a little bit on the CGI. The depth and physical quality of a movie will be more complex. I think that, at the same time, that the audience would like to see movies that are stunning to watch. I really think they’d like to see spectacles. Summer movies are spectacles; that’s what you pay ten dollars to see. You want to get teased by effects sometimes. I think that will never stop.

    In all of your previous films, there’s never a “damsel in distress,” there’s always a strong female star. Why is that? Why do you feel the need to have a strong female for your central character?

    I think it probably has to do with my childhood. I had a very strong-willed mother, who I totally adored and had a fantastic vision about life, and was always in control of her life. I felt like movies never represented women in a way that is real. There was always like a girlishness about it. They always had to be rescued and they never had equal partners, and I think it’s insane not to have action movies where women be as strong-willed, gutsy, obsessed, and dangerous as male actors.

    So what is it about Lara Croft that fascinates you?

    What I like about her is that she is a very contemporary character. She’s such a strong individual, she’s very driven, she doesn’t need a man, she’s speaks her own mind, and that she’s in control of her own life. I think it’s a lot of what women want and have. On top of that, she is gorgeous of course, and beautiful to look at. I think also, in addition, Angelina adds toughness and danger to her, and new maturity.

    Compared to Helen Hunt and Sandra Bullock, what stood out about Angelina?

    For me, at least, is that incredible dedication to perfection. She really, really wanted to be good at everything. She wanted to make sure that any fighting in the movie would be comparable to any male actor. Everything from stick fighting to horse riding was real to her. There was nothing phony about it [to her], and I think to have that discipline, to really work so hard on your character, and also not to overreact, but to put so much of yourself into the role. A lot of her individual qualities are in the role as well.

    Do you think that because she has become a mother between now and the first movie helped in making Lara Croft a bit more human in this one?

    I definitely think it made a change, but I think it makes for an interesting change. We’re all complex human beings, and if some of that complexity shows through, I think it’s only advantageous for the movie. I can also guarantee, though, that she will never lose her edginess and her attitude, because that’s who she is too. I think her role has grown and there’s more to it.

    So did you get nervous at all when she’s so determined to do her own stunts, because if something happens to her, you will be the one who gets blamed…

    Exactly, you will always be blamed. You have to be really careful, although I do like it for actors to their own thing because I really believe that it’s needed. But never would anybody be put in a situation of being harmful. It would also be the end of the movie and I would have to kill myself! (Laughs) I would be off this movie so fast…

    The movie was filmed in so many different locations – Greece, Africa, Hong Kong, Wales. What was personally your favorite place to shoot?

    I think one of the most amazing locations I’ve ever been in my life, and I’ve seen quite a few I think, is going to the top of the volcano in Tanzania [Africa]. It’s totally spectacular, and it’s an actual volcano where you really have this lava every day, or other day. But being in an area of the planet where scientists believe mankind started is quite amazing.

    Your last two films, “Speed 2” and “The Haunting,”didn’t live up to everyone’s expectations and the first “Tomb Raider” was critically panned. Did you think to yourself, before you jumped into this project, “Oh, this might be a risk?”

    Yeah, I think any movie you do is a risk and at the same time, you have to fight for your movie. Nobody’s out to make a bad movie. In regards to “The Haunting,” people compared it to the old movie, which is such an unfair comparison because we didn’t have the rights to the movie. I couldn’t duplicate a single thing out of the movie because that would have been legal infringement. I had somebody on the set, all the time, to make sure that nothing looked like the first movie.

    It’s always an enormous pressure when you do a sequel. It’s a difficult decision and you have to be very aware of it because the demands are so high and it’s expensive. It’s a tough thing to do.

    So in your opinion, what makes a good action movie these days?

    I think what makes a good action film is ultimately what makes a good action is a story that gets you involved. Just action, by itself, is not going to work. I think you have to know and care about the character. You have to get to know the character. You have to have a character that feels real, contemporary, and like a real person. If you’re able to put all of that in, then you can accept that this person can ultimately extraordinary things. In a way, we all can do that. We sometimes do things that we think, “Oh, I never knew I could do that.” If you create that type of character, then it’s fun to see those kinds of people do that. I really believe that action will always be there and will never disappear.

    What are some of your favorite action movies?

    There’s quite a few I like. I love “The French Connection,” I love “Bullet,” there’s actually quite a variety. I love some of the smaller movies too. I think some of the Hong Kong movies are fantastic. “Iron Monkey,” I love. I think it’s great.

    What are the projects you’re working on now?

    I haven’t quite made up my mind yet because it’s just been to close in getting this one finished. But I’m definitely looking the direction of a movie that is very much based on real-life effects, and very little CGI. It’s a very interesting story, but it’s also difficult because I believe those stories are really hard to make.

    Do you mind being labeled an “action director”?

    I don’t mind but at the same time, I think that there are a lot more relationship scenes in my movies that people tend to overlook. If you look back, a lot of scenes really feel real and are about the characters. Yes, the action is spectacular but it’s not the only thing. I always try to humanity and soul to the characters.

    “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life” opens in theaters everywhere July 25th.

    Source: Cinema Confidential

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