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Jolie touts ‘Unbroken’ Saga of survival

LAS VEGAS, March 26, (AP): Angelina Jolie took to the stage at CinemaCon, the annual convention of theater exhibitors, on Tuesday to reveal footage from the upcoming survival saga “Unbroken,” which she directed and produced. “I wanted to make this film because its message is one that we all need now more than ever,” said Jolie in front of the crowd of theater owners at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Shot in Sydney last year, the film tells the true story of Lou Zamperini, a World War II hero and track star who ran in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Zamperini, who is played by Jack O’Connell, spent a harrowing 47 days afloat in the Pacific Ocean following the 1943 crash of his US military plane. He spent the following two years as a prisoner of war after washing up behind Japanese lines. Developed originally by Universal Pictures in 1957, the biopic was supposed to star Tony Curtis, said Universal chairwoman Donna Langley before introducing Jolie. But after many false starts, the project never took shape. It wasn’t until Zamperini’s story caught the attention of Jolie, that the film really began to evolve.

“She fought for it and earned the right to direct it,” said Langley, who called Jolie “a true filmmaker.” “Unbroken,” to be released in December, is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s book “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,” which chronicles Zamperini’s life. “Lou Zamperini is the toughest man I have ever met,” said Jolie. “He’s a fighter and true hero. He is also a man of faith, full of love and humility. He sounds perfect. But he wasn’t always. Smoking, stealing and drinking by the time he was 9, he was convinced he was worth nothing and full of darkness.” The footage teased revealed affecting scenes of Zamperini’s struggles, from his efforts to escape from his military plane after it crashed into the ocean, to the beatings her underwent as a prisoner. “Unbroken” is the second time Jolie has directed a feature. The 2011 war drama “In the Land of Blood and Honey” was her first. Here’s a look at three other of the studio’s most promising films, from a racy love story to the return of a few beloved ensemble casts:

* “Fifty Shades of Grey,” directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. The first look at the trailer for the spicy romance based on E.L. James’ best-seller revealed a tale that appears far sweeter than it is steamy. The suave Christian Grey (Dornan) sweeps the ordinary-looking Anastasia Steele (Johnson) off her feet with a joyride in his helicopter, a visit to his swanky Seattle apartment, and a fancy make-over. Anastasia properly transforms from plain Jane to sexy sophisticate. “Why are you trying to change me?” she asks her new lover. “I’m not,” he replies. “It’s you who is changing me.” But it’s not all sentimental. The camera pans over Christian’s collection of S&M toys as Beyonce’s sleek and sexy “Haunted” plays in the background. The film is set for release on Valentine’s Day of 2015.

* “Fast & Furious 7,” directed James Wan and starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Tyrese Gibson. We may not have a hard and fast answer for how the studio will finish the film since Walker died before production concluded, but those scenes he was able to shoot definitely find their way into the seventh installment of the franchise. In the trailer, Walker, along with his crew of fierce drivers, stun viewers with a stunt involving driving cars out of a helicopter and safely landing with the help of parachutes. Flashy fight scenes and plenty of bare skin are once again on display. The seventh installment is scheduled to hit theaters on April 10, 2015.

* “Dumb and Dumber To,” directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly and starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. The anticipated sequel finds Harry (Daniels) visiting Lloyd (Carrey) in a home where he’s been faking helpless for 20 years as a gag. The pair then searches for the daughter Harry never knew he had. There’s a cringe-worthy bit with a catheter, an inappropriate instant with an old lady, we visit their same crappy apartment, the dog truck is back, and Kathleen Turner plays Harry’s baby mama. Queue a very satisfying phew! The comedy is scheduled for release Nov 14.

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