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Heavenly Sword CG film set for 2014, began as a 'production experiment'

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Animation studio Blockade Entertainment's CG-animated film based on Sony's hack-and-slash adventure title Heavenly Sword is set to launch in spring 2014, the company told IGN alongside the reveal of the film's first trailer.

Brad Foxhoven, Blockade CEO, said the film began with a "very small" budget but screened well to audiences, pushing Sony to set up international distribution for it. Foxhoven said the film was originally a "production experiment" conducted by Sony and Blockade, with the goal to use existing video game assets and materials to produce a full-length film.

"By capitalizing on the enhanced production efficiencies, the additional resources and investment could then be placed on the actual production itself," he said. "The result would be a smaller-budgeted film that would look and feel like a much more expensive production."

Foxhoven explained the film follows "fiery red-haired heroine" Nariko (voiced by Fringe star Anna Torv) on a quest to destroy an army of invaders lead by King Bohan (Alfred Molina) and save her clan. Nariko must use the Heavenly Sword to do so, a weapon that once belonged to a powerful deity, and must race against the clock to defeat Bohan before the sword drains away her life. The film also features a "new and pivotal character" named Loki (voiced by Thomas Jane).

Developer Ninja Theory and The Lord of the Rings actor Andy Serkis, who played Bohan in the original Heavenly Sword game, provided the studio with ample material for the film. After a positive reception at the Cannes Film Festival, Blockade and Sony decided to increase the film's budget.

Foxhoven noted that the film closely follows the plot of the game, with one major deviation.

"In the game you never actually get to see the true 'chosen one,' because he was never born," he said. "In the film, though, we introduce him — and give Nariko the task of getting the Heavenly Sword to him. This creates a driving element through the second act of the film, and places even more pressure on Nariko when everything falls apart."

A sequel was initially planned for Heavenly Sword, which was scrapped by Sony. However, the character of Nariko was popular with fans and was ultimately included as a playable fighter in the brawler PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. News of the film leaked several months ago when Blockade announced it was working on another animated film based on the Ratchet & Clank franchise.