30 Apr 2013

They're Going To Need A Bigger Boat

The Wondercon trailer for Pacific Rim has been released, and gives us our first looks at Ron Perlman, Charlie Day, and the wide range of various monsters the robots will be fighting in the film. And I've got to say, as much as giant robots punching giant monsters in the face seems like a fun idea, I can't shake the feeling that this whole thing is going to be goofy. I have absolute faith in Guillermo del Toro, one of the few directors I do anymore, but Hellboy 2 got a bit goofy, and with all the CG and neon lights and I'm still not sold on Idris Elba's "rousing speech," and I worry. I'll still see it, I'll just gird myself before I do, and not expect as great a thing as I might have when the project was announced.

Maybe the movie will make this clear, but how exactly are they alien if they came from under the pacific? Wouldn't that just make them aquatic?

The Small Council Should Include A Master Of Tongues

David J. Peterson has a job I would love: he invents languages. President and co-founder of the Language Creation Society, he is current language and culture consultant on the excellent Syfy series Defiance, and inventor of the spoken languages of Dothraki and Valyrian on Game of Thrones. While George R. R. Martin created those languages, his books rarely used more then a few words in a row. Peterson took those words, or phrases, and created a working language that could be spoken by actors, and understood by those willing to learn. And if you don't think in ten years there will a college somewhere offering Dothraki, then you underestimate geek appreciation. And to hammer home that point, I really should have written it in Klingon.

According to Peterson, who actually had to craft two versions of Valyrian (high and low, based on the real world Latin), the show has made only one major mistake in their use of his language guides. Says Peterson, "it should be 'KHAH-lay-see,' not 'ka-LEE-see.' The vowel change bugs me. The producers decided they liked the other way better. They probably thought most people were pronouncing it that way anyway, which is true."

I mentioned how impressed I was with Dan Hildebrand, who played slaver Kraznys in the first four episodes, how despite speaking an entirely fictional language (laced with profanities), he seemed like the most natural and less uptight cast member on the show. Peterson was impressed too, saying "He’s very convincing." And Peterson, as everyone else, was blown away by Emilia Clarke's bad ass boast at the end of episode four. And you can bet that scene wouldn't have been near as impressive if she was just talking nonsense rather then something with structure and reason behind it.

His work over on Defiance is impressive too, especially the Castithan that Jamie Murray and Tony Curran speak most regularly. Because of the smaller budget, tighter episode lengths, and longer assimilation between cultures, most dialogue is in English and the majority of the translations are one word swaps, like shtako in place of shit. Which is a common practise for sci-fi, which replaces every frakking bit of gorram dren with something more FCC friendly.

As I said, Peterson has an awesome job.

Via The Mary Sue.

[Review] - Continuum, Season 2 Episode 2, "Split Second"

[Author's Note: Due to a scheduling issue, the weekly review of Game of Thrones will appear on Wednesday this week. Next week, hopefully, things will return to their regular schedule.]

Courtesy of Reunion Pictures

Continuum isn't interested in absolutes. Last season, I suppose in the interest of introducing viewers to the world, and getting as many people on board as possible, it conformed somewhat to the white-and-black-hat mentality. But as the show progressed, it became more and more obvious that who and what was considered right was becoming increasingly complex. It came very much to a head in this most recent episode, which showed pretty clearly that in the world of Continuum, there is no obligation to dance with the one that brung ya.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are actually a decoy.

29 Apr 2013

Holy Poop Geysers

A second trailer for RED 2 has appeared, and details substantially more of the plot then the first, showing us exactly what Anthony Hopkins will be doing: being the bat-shit insane one this time, allowing John Malkovich to seem more reasonable by comparison. Director Dean Parisot's Galaxy Quest is one of the best parody films ever made, so I'm hoping that this sequel (which is sadly Karl Urban-less) will be a touch cleverer then the original, which was fun but lacked any sort of real edge past the first twenty minutes.

RED 2 is in theatres August 2. Those horribly photo shopped posters, which also appear in this trailer, are probably haunting your cinema lobbies right now.

Via First Showing.

Seeing A Movie This Summer?

Remember when the summer movie season started in July? I'm not the only one who remembers that, am I? I mean, when exactly did March become summer? Even April seems like pushing it to me. Despite Oblivion's release a couple weeks ago, the real summer season kicks off this week with the release of Iron Man 3, and May is as early as I'm willing to concede as being part of summer.

To celebrate the arrival of this, the most profitable of film seasons, here is a fantastically edited mash up of the trailers for films coming out between May and August. It is, in fact, better then some of the trailers for those films.

Via /Film.

[Review] - Doctor Who, Series 7 Episode 11, "Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS"

Well. That happened.

If the poster above had been in anyway indicative of the episode it was meant to represent, I'd say we might have been in for a good time. Sadly what we got was a mess of an episode which, despite having watched it multiple times now, I have no shame in admitting I'm still not entirely certain what it was about. Journey had the most promise of any episode this series, including the one scripted by Neil Gaiman, and is without a doubt the biggest disappointment, and possibly the unparallelled failure of the bunch. I didn't care for The Bells of St. John, but at least it was a muddle that held itself together. Journey ran itself round in circles, then collapsed on the floor, trying desperately to catch its breath. And never did.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that also once two days running through the same room, dressed as a strawberry.

26 Apr 2013

Fan Made Man Of Steel Credits Make You Believe A Film Will Be Good

I am willing to put money down, right now, that this fan made set of credits for Man of Steel will be better then the actual movie Man of Steel. Not a lot of money, mind, but enough to make a point. No image from this trailer was culled, copied or borrowed, but was originally shot or rendered, and constructed over three months by Will & Tale.

Apparently, the rumours are now that Zack Synder will get the job directing Justice League if Man of Steel is a success. Surely, they mean critical success, right? Because even if this thing is a pile of half separated rice pudding, it will make stupid piles of money. I doubt it will reach Dark Knight levels, and surely won't touch Avengers, but still, even Superman Returns was a "hit." Financial success is not always an indicator of quality, especially in the summer.
Via First Showing.

Monsters University Has An Extra Toe

I really don't have anything new to say about my level of excitement over Monster University, other then said level is high. This new trailer, despite being a little chopping, doesn't do anything to diminish that.

Oh, and the demonic sorority sisters are so much funnier considering recent events.

[List] - Possible Marvel Siblings In Avengers 2

“I’ve got these two characters, two of my favourite characters from the comic book, a brother-sister act. They’re in the movie.”
That was Joss Whedon at the Iron Man 3 premier earlier this week, doing his very, very best to get every detail obsessed geek on the internet (like myself) all riled up by dropping a simultaneously vague and presumably obvious hint like that. Everyone immediately jumped on the Scarlett Witch/Quicksilver band wagon, because they are the obvious choice. But Whedon isn't necessarily one for the obvious choices. So, if not the Maximoff siblings, who else might fit Whedon's description? Turns out, there aren't that many off-gender sibling pairs in the Marvel universe, at least not ones that aren't closely associated with Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, and therefore unavailable to the MCU.

But few doesn't mean none, and by my count there are six possibile character pairs which would both be available to Whedon and co., and fit within the universe established by Phase 1. Hit the jump to see the list.

25 Apr 2013

Jack Donaghy: So Powerful, His Influence Is Felt Backwards Through Time

Confession time: I don't like Mad Men. I watched the first season on DVD, because I was told it was the best show since the Wire, or Deadwood, or whatever show was being used as the benchmark back then (for the record, the correct answer is Breaking Bad), and that I had to watch it. So I did, and was bored out of my skull. The plots were dull, or a tiny bit cliche, but mostly the characters were bland and incredibly unlikable, and things didn't look like they were going to change, and I had better things to do then waste my time watching something that I just didn't like, in the hopes that it would grow on me. Sorry, TV, if you haven't gotten after six episodes, you probably won't.

I understand that not liking Mad Men puts me in the minority, and I'm comfortable with that. My greatest exposure to the show has been that blog that combines screen grabs from Mad Men with quotes from Archer, and I absorb enough information about the show via random internet articles to known what I need: Pete is the worst, Peggy is kind of awesome, Don's going to die, and Fat Betty is hilarious in unintentional ways. I don't know if any of that is actually true, but it's what the internet tells me. So, when the internet told me that there was a 30 Rock reference on the most recent episode, I perked up my reading-ears, and gave it a hear-read.

Apparently, in a recent episode a character in Mad Men went into a bar and ordered a a drink invented by 30 Rock in the seventh season episode Governor Dunston, described by Alec Baldwin's Jack Donaghy as the above, and named by Matthew Broderick's Cooter Burger as:

Is the inclusion of this reference both clever and inspired? Yes. Does it cement Jack Donaghy as so influential, he's possibly a Time Lord? Very probably. Is it enough to get me to try Mad Men again? Not a frakking chance.

Via Uproxx.

Star Trek Finds A Whole Lot Of Vengeance

This is the first detailed look at the big friggin' gun ship Cumberbatch threatens the Enterprise with in the most recent trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness, apparently called the U.S.S. Vengeance, and it's nice to see that Starfleet isn't big into subtly when naming their vessels. At the time, I compared it's shape and size to the Enterprise-E, though now that I get a good look at it I'd say it's more like the Galaxy-class D. A heavily weaponized, made out of mega-blocks and hate, Galaxy-class battleship.

A bunch of new character posters for the film have also been released, and can I just say how disappointed I am that none of the posters for the sequel have been as unique and visually interesting as the fantastic poster for the first film. The crashing Enterprise came close, but looses points for just copying the design used by Iron Man 3. These posters at least give everyone their due (everyone being everyone but Scotty and Chekov), though poor Alice Eve received some terribly photoshop touch ups.

Also being released are brief segments from the film, as if folk needed convincing that they wanted to go see this film. I mean, a long, all encompassing and permeating advertising campaign might have been needed for something like the Avengers, which was an untested property (and I guess it paid off), but this is Star Trek. More then that, it's the sequel to the Star Trek film that convinced people who would never see a Star Trek film to see a Star Trek film. I really don't see the point in releasing scenes like this.

I've included the clips and the posters after the jump; the clips in case some of you (like myself) are avoiding all such materials, spoilers or not, and the posters just cause there are a lot of them. Enjoy, if you are into that sort of thing.

Marvel News Round Up

The Guardians of the Galaxy has found two more cast members, tapping Lee Pace, most recently glimpsed in The Hobbit, but better known as his role as the Pie Maker on Pushing Daisies, and Ophelia Lovibond (Mr. Poppers Penguins) to play potential villains in the film. Ms. Lovibond was initially described as playing "an aide to a near-immortal being called The Collector" before it was removed. Pace, who was heavily favoured for the role of Star Lord, which went to Chris Pratt, impressed Marvel so much they moved him into a primary villainous role, assumed to be that of either the Controller, or the Collector (a supposed copy error has resulted in both characters being interchanged in multiple reports). Disturbingly, this means that the heroic Guardians will be played by Americans, while the baddies will be played by Brits. It is a sad state of affairs when casting lines can still be drawn between what sounds foreign to the majority audience, and what doesn't.

James Gunn has yet to announce anyone in the roles of Groot the Space-Ent, or Rocket Raccoon, but has said this on the furry team mate: "it’s really, really important to me that Rocket Raccoon, who is the heart of the movie, is not a cartoon character, it’s not Bugs Bunny in the middle of The Avengers, it’s a real, little, somewhat mangled beast that’s alone." It's interesting that he's insisting Rocket is the heart of the movie, and not the comedic relief or easily pushy toy-able critter, and yet the only casting rumours we've heard so far have been Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler, the sort of folks you'd cast if Rocket needed to do impressions of late 80's politicians, or make fart jokes the entire film. Hopefully, Gunn is being honest here, because I think making Rocket the comic relief is a bit obvious, and I'd be happy to see him have a bit of substance. But a lot of that substance is going to come from choosing the right voice actor to play the role, and I think they can do a lot better then they've seen thus far.

Elsewhere in the MCU, Kevin Feige has confirmed that the rights to Daredevil, Kingpin and Bullseye, have reverted to marvel, and are now available to Disney for inclusion in Phase 3. The Elektra rights remains a little more complicated, as they wouldn't naturally revert for another year (due to the release date of the Elektra spin off film), though its possible FOX returned those rights willingly when they release Matt Murdock. While I highly doubt we'll see Daredevil in any future Avengers films, or in a stand alone film of his own for some time, as I have previously suggested, if Agents of SHIELD is a success, Daredevil might be a more interesting presence on television then on film.

Via Gamma Squad, and /Film, and again. Twice.

24 Apr 2013

Warehouse 13 Collects Themselves A Watcher

Last season of Warehouse 13, or the first half of this season, or whatever the hell they're calling it, wasn't very good. After three enjoyable seasons, the last ten episodes were easily the weakest they've done, and bordered on embarrassing at times. Hopefully the new season, which premieres this coming Monday (and which I haven't made up my mind if I'll be reviewing or not), will be an improvement over the last.

And they've gotten off to a good start. Along side the returning main cast, and recurring actors Jamie Murray and Kate Mulgrew, is yet another slew of genre and sci-fi stars, to add to the already impressive number of guests the show (which films in Toronto and Montreal) has procured. This season will feature Polly Walker, Enrico Colantoni, Missi Pyle, Joel Grey, Nora Zehetner, Kelly Hu, Steve Valentine, and former Buffy and Merlin (and most recently the best thing in Neverwhere) star Anthony Stewart Head, as the villainous Paracelsus. Head will appear in the final three episodes of the season, presumably in a role similar to the one Anthony Michael Hall played a couple seasons ago.

I was very on the fence about WH13 after last year, but Head's involvement is probably enough to push the show back into my favour. Hopefully, it lives up to that favour.

Via the Mary Sue.

Lionsgate's Logo Flounders Out Of The... Well, Gate

As a cinephile, I've seen a lot of movie logos. And I'm a fan, as I've mentioned once or twice before. So, it's exciting when a company releases a new or updated version of their brand. It's even more exciting when the company does so to announce their transition into a major production studio, as Lionsgate have recently done. The previous Lionsgate logo, which consisted of pulling out of a gear works to reveal a set of literal lion gates, opening into a heavenly cloudscape, has been a favourite of mine of some time. So it is a little disappointing that they abandoned the gears entirely, in favour of a more derivative, but "larger concept" animation.

CEO Jon Feltheimer said, "our new logo reflects the limitless opportunities we see in our future." Unfortunately, it comes off as bland and uninspired. Opening on the world calls to mind the iconic Universal Studios, and the tilt of the galactic plane reminds too much of Relativity Media's own animation. A company should want to strive for unique brand recognition, and the gears gave them that. All this logo does is bring to mind other companies. They get points for including their original Leo Constellation pattern in the stars just before the words appear, but the first few times I thought it was a horse, which again brings to mind TriStar (whose 1980's spiel is inexplicably one of my all time favourites). Also, the presence of the clouds made sense in the old logo, as the gates were opening into the sky. Here, after pulling out of space, they are just confusing. And the music, while big and orchestral, is lifeless and unmemorable.

My verdict, they can do better, and the sooner they figure that out, and maybe return to the gear motif in some way, the better for them.

Via First Showing.

[Review] - Continuum, Season 2 Episode 1, "Second Chance"

Courtesy of Reunion Pictures
Last year, I felt the biggest surprise we were treated to on television was the Canadian time travel series Continuum. Surprising because it resisted all the temptations it put before itself. Despite a procedural framework, it never really conformed to the trope. Despite threatening to burn itself and its possible story directions out, it managed to find new and unexpected avenues to explore. Despite the tendency, it never tried to give a simple answer to the philosophical questions that always arise when time travel is involved, and never bogged itself down with technobabble and pseudoscience to explain complex ideas away. By the end of the first season, the show had settled into itself quite nicely, and crafted a balanced cast of complex characters for the viewer to enjoy.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that once brought themselves back to life after being shot six times.

23 Apr 2013

Thor Is Truely Desperate

I think I've said this before, but I'm going to repeat myself: Thor was my favourite of the Phase 1 Marvel films. Not the usual choice, I know. But (and I'm even including Avengers in this), if I were to sit down and watch any of Phase 1 just on a whim, I'd more likely choose Thor then any of the others. I don't know why. Well, I do actually. Despite fantasy not being my preferred genre, I'm a big fan of classical mythology, I don't care what culture it comes from, and Tom Hiddleston is... just... neat.

So, I have a lot of high hopes for Thor: The Dark World. And this first trailer does little to diminish those hopes. It heightens them. I'm still uneasy about Loki returning, and hope that this will be his MCU swan song (and suspect the same will be true of Portman's Jane Foster), but this film, under the amazing talent of Alan Taylor, looks damned beautiful.

And I can't wait for the awkward conversation about that time Thor helped saved New York from an alien invasion, and didn't even send Jane a text.

Good News Everyone, I've Got Some Bad News

Comedy Central has cancelled Futurama. The final batch of 13 episodes, set to start airing on June 19th, officially part of the seventh season (or whatever volume number they'll put on the DVD release) will be its last on the network that brought the series back from the dead. However, it wasn't that much of a surprise for Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, as their contract with Comedy was on a per annum basis. Because of this, they've structured each of the revived seasons to potentially be the last. Said Groening, "We’ve been in this situation before and it’s tempting when you’re doing episodes that are as good or better than anything you’ve ever done to continue doing it."

After seven seasons (eight, if you count the films as one) is an impressive run for a smart sci-fi animated programme that was cancelled during its initial run, but Groening is hopeful that the show will find new life yet again, saying, "We would love to continue. We have many more stories to tell. But if we don’t, this is a really great way to go out… I think these episodes are the best ones we’ve ever done." The producers are apparently already shopping the series to potential new networks, though that list grows short. The only channels that would seem like a natural fit would be Adult Swim, or hilariously FOX (the network that cancelled them the first time), with their new ADHD lineup. The only other sensible option would be Netflix or another online streaming service, essentially doing what Futurama already did by taking the films direct to market.

The news makes me 40% sad. I love the show, a perfect blend of absurdity, comedy, and intelligence. While it may have began as a blend of the Simpsons and Star Trek, it has grown into a show that is as influential and culturally relevant as both of those shows. Characters like Bender and Zoidberg will continue to exist in the popular culture for years, if not permanently. If they manage to find yet another new home then good on them. But if this is finally the final end, then I won't be as disappointed. The show has had a good run, two point of fact, and nothing last forever.

All that remains would be to put its head in a jar.

Via Collider.

[Review] - Game Of Thrones, Season 3 Episode 4, "And Now His Watch Is Ended"

Courtesy of HBO.
This episode was a treat for any and all of us who want the series to expand beyond narrative established by books. Much of what happened in this episode was new material that the producers have added in, both to pad out the distance between "big" episodes, and also to fill in some characters that have never gotten their full due. In the process, Benioff and Weiss have crafted a well balanced midsized episode, where a lot of behind the scenes stuff happened, all of it necessary for what is to come.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that once fell off a horse into a pile of shit.

22 Apr 2013

To Explore Strange New Worlds

69c, 62e, 62f, and Earth. Courtesy of NASA

I believe that life exists in the cosmos. Statistically speaking, you pretty much have to. In the past six years, 656 confirmed exoplanets have been discovered, compared to 210 planets discovered in all the time before 2007. In the first 16 months of the Kepler mission, 2300 possible planetary candidates were identified. Really, considering that our own solar system has eight planets, four of whom are rocky, and three of whom are in the so-called Goldilocks zone, it shouldn't be a surprise that planets are plentiful in the universe. Its getting to the point where we can admit that planets are in fact very common, and that the majority of stars have at least one planet orbiting them. The current thinking suggests a hundred billion planets in our galaxy alone. If even a fraction of those support life of some kind, that is still potentially millions of planets.

I believe that life exists in the cosmos. Our planet is stupidly encumbered with life, so much so that it is ridiculous. Everywhere we turn, we discover a bit of life that really shouldn't be there. Creatures living the lowest, coldest, most pressurised depths of the ocean, life present in hot pressure and volcanic vents. Life in arid wastelands and in freezing conditions. Life, to quote my favourite movie, finds a way. And while to date our planet is the only one confirmed to have life on it, it is understandable considering that we haven't actually been to other planets to look for it, and the rovers that have successfully landed on Mars aren't equipped to look. That isn't their mission.

I believe that life exists in the cosmos. I just believe that we get hung up sometimes on our own special Arrogant Presumption. The Goldilocks zone is the area around a star where liquid water can exist, and therefore, according to everything we known about Earth, the ideal place for life to emerge. Life, as it exists on Earth. Which, as a man of science, I must admit is the only definition we have for life, and therefore must be the benchmark for it. However, I am not a scientist, I am a professional speculator, and can therefore say that this definition is constrictive. We cannot dismiss the potential that life is capable of arising in native environments and adapting to those environments, and might do so in environments so harsh, so different, so alien to us that Earth-like life would never survive. But we have to start somewhere, and the Goldilocks zones are as good a place as any.

NASA reports that two solar systems, Kepler-62 and 69, have had positive identifications of planets orbiting them. More then that, several of the planets are Earth sized and assumed to be rocky. And a handful, including multiple planets in the same solar system, are within the Goldilocks zone. Kepler-69 is roughly the same age, size and luminosity of our own star, 2700 light years away in the constellation Cygnus. Two planets orbit 69, b and c: 69c (70% larger then Earth) falls into the Goldilocks zone in a way similar to Venus, orbiting in 242 days. 69b transits the star in only 13 days.

Kepler-62 is a 7 billion year old star 1200 light years away, in the constellation of Lyra. Smaller and dimmer then our star, it has been confirmed to have 5 planets (62b-f) orbiting. The three inner planets are inhospitable, orbiting very close to the star, and in 5, 12, and 18 days respectively. There are two planets within the Goldilocks zone: 62 e orbits at the inner edge in 122 days, and is 60% larger then Earth. 62f orbits further out, in 267 days and is only 40% larger then Earth. While neither have had their compositions confirmed, they are expected (considering their size) to be rocky worlds, and could potentially have liquid water.
I believe that life exists in the cosmos. I don't believe that aliens have visited Earth and experimented on us (though, if you think about it, alien abductions are essentially what we do when we put dolphins in aquariums). I do believe that missions like Kepler are helping to identify the places in the galaxy where there is the greatest possibly for life to have evolved. And that where life exists, there is the potential for complex life. And where there is complex life, there is the potential for intelligent life (something that we are more and more coming to realise isn't a rarity on this planet). I believe that life exists in the cosmos, and that somewhere in the cosmos someone is looking for us as much as we are looking for them.

And I believe that we won't necessarily recognise each other then we find each other.


[Review] - Oblivion

Courtesy of Universal Pictures
I haven't seen a movie in theatres since February. This is a long time for me, but nothing that has been released this spring inspired any sort of desire in me. I'm rarely enchanted by prequels and remakes, or big glossy CGI spectacles, and I'm not going to waste money on any movie that can be described as "Die Hard on/in a ..." So, it's been a dry spell. But I've been looking forward to Oblivion. Not for any reason in particular, other then I'm always on the look out for an effective science fiction film, something that I feel we haven't been treated to in quite some time. And I'm not generally one for Tom Cruise films. But something in the trailers made me pause and reflect. And now I know what it was.

Joseph Kosinski obviously loves science fiction. Like Tarentino likes B-movies, Kosinski has clearly made a life study of the classic sci-fi of the '60s and '70s. While there was nothing clearly referential in the teaser material, I must have recognised an intention on the part of the director to make a film that wasn't just meant to look good, or make money, but stand up as an example of the genre, while also being a love letter to that genre. And what a love letter it is.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers, especially for the second half of the film, so if you haven't seen it yet, don't read this. Just don't. I'm giving you fair warning here. Really, just see the film, then come back, OK? Fine, fine, hit the jump. But don't say I didn't warn you. I wash my hands of any blame from here on out.

[Review] - Doctor Who, Series 7 Episode 10, "Hide"

One of the reasons I enjoy Luther is, despite the procedural nature of the show, Neil Cross is able to twist the plot enough to keep the viewer on edge, without it being damaging to the narrative. The sudden surprise revelations, or unexpected right turns rarely feel out of place. His revelation that the Mummy wasn't Grandfather in the Ring of Akhenaten was meant to be such a twist, but the underwhelmingness of the sun/gas giant/space pumpkin undercut the twist. Hide, Cross' initial venture into the Whoniverse, is not only superior to Rings, but also more successful, both at establishing a tone straight away, but then turning said tone completely on its head, and it feeling completely natural for it to have done so.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers which once summoned a spirit from the other side, but later suffered from buyers remorse.

19 Apr 2013

20th Century Fox Moves With The Literal Times

Getting closer...

In 1999, Matt Groening wanted to change the 20th Century Fox logo at the end of each episode of Futurama to 30th Century Fox, to reflect the fact that the show takes place in the 30th century, and that it is a fun logo gag, and those are awesome. Fox denied this request, so Groening did it anyway. The assumption was that 20th Century was a copyright, and to alter it would be disrespectful and possibly illegal. Anyway, once they saw how harmless and funny it, was they were OK with it, and so it has been. At the turn of the millennium I remember there being some questions, with Futurama referenced, if the actual company would change their name to 21st Century Fox. The answer was no, that the name was historic and reflected the culture and achievements of the era of its birth.

After much exploration, and valuable input from our executive team, we’ve chosen the name 21st Century Fox to take us into the future. 21st Century Fox is a name that draws upon the rich creative heritage of Twentieth Century Fox, while also speaking to the innovation and dynamism that must define each of our businesses through the 21st Century. Our new name is inspired by the very first company we acquired nearly thirty years ago as our initial foray into the awe-inspiring world of entertainment.
That is Rupert Murdoch, in a memo sent to all (former) 20th Century employees and shareholders, of the name change to the newly created Entertainment Division of the Murdoch empire (the Publication Division will continue under the untarnished and trustworthy name NewsCorp). The new 21st Century Fox will replace the film production company Twentieth Century Fox, and the television production company Twentieth Television.

I believe the implications of this are clear: very soon, our celebrities and admired dead presidents will have their heads preserved in jars. And I for one will welcome our denecked rulers and attractions.

Via /Film.

DC And Pixar Hear Voices

Courtesty of DC.

I cannot be counted among the fans of the DC crossover event Flashpoint. Least of all because, in the end, it gave us the New 52, a boondoggle of a relaunch that pretty much gutted my picklist. The only "thing" that was interesting about the alternate timeline was the Atlantian/Amazonian war, which as someone who has spent years studying Greek Mythology, is a fun (and not entirely unprecedented) concept.

So, when it was announced that the DC Animated Movies would be wasting an entry on Flashpoint, I was disappointed but not surprised. It was Geoff Johns brain-child, and what he says goes in the DCU nowadays. Earlier in the week, they announced the full title, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, and the voice cast for the film, and it will at least be saved by its cast. Returning, yet again, to the roles they inhabit so very well, will be Kevin Conroy as Batman, Dana Delany as Lois Lane, Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern, and Vanessa Marshall as Wonder Woman. Usual Superman Tim Daly will be replaced by his son, Sam, and Justin Chambers will be filling in for Michael Rosenbaum as the Flash (possibly justified as Rosenbaum played Wally West, and Flashpoint features Barry Allen). New to the cast will be Kevin McKidd as the alternate timeline Batman, meaning Conroy will be featured limitedly. Also new will be Michael B. Jordan as Cyborg, C. Thomas Howell as Professor Zoom, Cary Elwes as Aquaman (awesome), Danny Huston as General Sam Lane, and Ron Perlman as Slade Wilson (also awesome).

Pixar has also announced the full cast of Monsters University. Joining returning cast members Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Bonnie Hunt (making her sixth Pixar film appearence, the most other then John Ratzenberger) and Steve Buscemi, and the previously announced Dave Foley, Helen Mirren, Julia Sweeney, Joel Murray and Peter Sohn, will be Frank Oz, Nathan Fillion, John Krasinski, Sean P. Hayes, Tyler Labine, Beth Behrs, Charlie Day, Aubrey Plaza and Alfred Molina. Kelsey Grammer will replace James Coburn (due to his death) as Henry J. Waternoose III, and as always Ratzenberger will play a role, possibly reprising the role of the Abomible Snowman from the original.

Pixar has also announced that Peter Docter's (Toy Story 3) next film, Inside Out (the previously untitled feature taking place within the human mind) will be released in the summer of 2015, nestled between the Avengers 2 and the J.J. Abrams Star Wars relaunch. A release in June also means Pixar will have two 2015 releases, with Finding Dory following along behind in November. Despite all this news, there have still not been any major announcements concerning next May's release, The Good Dinosaur.

Pixar, I'll say it to you the same as I say it to everyone else: I want my dinosaur!

Via ComicsAlliance, /Film, and The Mary Sue.

[List] - 16 Dinosaurs That Could Be In Jurassic Park 4

Stop waving and run! Via Wikipedia

Jack Horner, discoverer of the Maiasaurus, author of the book How to Build a Dinosaur, and consultant to all Jurassic Park films to date (and partial inspiration for the character of Alan Grant) has said that in Jurassic Park 4 film, a new dinosaur will be introduced, saying, "I can’t actually tell you who that will be, but you’ll want to keep the lights on after you see this movie." Horner understands the potential for increasing the general knowledge of specific species through a JP film is incredible, saying, "Jurassic Park created the velociraptor." It certainly made raptor a household name, and the sequel (which isn't really a Jurassic Park film, but ask me about that later. I'm busy now) stuck with the T-rex and raptor formula.

The third film attempted to try something new, by using (and completely misrepresenting) the Spinosaurus, which to be fair is a visually interesting animal. Unfortunately, the Spinosaurus never caught on in the way the raptors did, and so in Jurassic Park 4 they're going to try it again. The question becomes, with between 300 and 700 species indentified, which terrible lizard will be making their big screen debut?

After the jump, I run through a list of possible suspects.

18 Apr 2013

R.I.P.D. Might Have Been Better Off Staying Dead

Ryan Reynolds has had no kind of luck establishing himself as a franchisable action star. Blade 3 was meant to spin off on his character, and it went no where. Wolverine was meant to introduce Deadpool, and despite Reynolds' insistence, that spinoff hasn't moved an inch since Wolverine killed the X-Men prequel business. Green Lantern was meant to show that DC can make a non Batman related movie that is good, and proved just the opposite. And while Reynolds gets a lot of flack for being a less charming version of essentially Nathon Fillion (funny, because they both started out on the same show), I think the bigger issue is that Reynolds just keeps picking terrible films to make.

Case and point, I have no idea what to think about R.I.P.D. It is obviously a rip off of Men in Black, so much so that they don't even try to hide it. But the tone... On first viewing of this trailer, I wrote it off entirely. Bridges is playing his role less like Rooster Cogburn and more like Yosemite Sam, the jokes are hammy and groan worthy, and it has been my experience that movies that intentionally try to be so-bad-its-good are only ever just bad. On second viewing though, I wonder if Robert Schwentke (director of RED) intentionally made the movie as if it were a live action Looney Tunes cartoon. The action certainly looks that way, the performances are over the top in the way that people seem to think cartoons are (despite Roger Rabbit proving just the opposite), and the last scene in the trailer, with the bus, is straight out of the Road Runner. So, maybe I'll give it a chance.

And maybe the next trailer won't be total crap.

Whedon, On Avengers 2: "It’s Going To Be Awful."

With the premier of Iron Man 3 closing in and Captain America 2 having just started filming, Joss Whedon has had the opportunity to give no specific information about Avengers 2. It will start filming in February, he told ET, which is good because his first draft of the script isn't done yet. It also leave enough room for some possible casting announcements at Comiccon this July. When asked about the possible plot, Whedon reveals that while he didn't intend of doing the sequel, he did have an idea of where to take things if he did return.

Quote, "I know what’s going to happen… it’s going to be awful." Clearly he means that the characters will find their lives more the worse for wear, which if you've sampled Whedon's past work you'll know is par for the course. There was never a happy ending that Whedon can't find a way to shank in the side and let bleed out on the floor. And that is why we love him.

In other MCU news, Michael Rooker (late of the Walking Dead) has signed on to reunited with his Slither director James Gun in the Guardians of the Galaxy. Rooker had previously expressed an interest in appearing in the film in some capacity, and it is now confirmed that he will be playing Yondu, an explanation that means as much to the general public as "I wollybanked my tuttlefiend." Yondu, as turns out, was a founding member of the Guardians, but has not to date (as far as we know) been featured in any of the concept pictures Marvel has released. In terms of casting for Gunn's film, that only leaves the primarily digital characters of Groot the Space-Ent and Rocket Raccoon, and the matter of the villain.

There is also the suggestion going around that Marvel has started looking for possible cast members for the as of yet entirely theoretical Doctor Strange movie, which I'm not putting a lot of faith in. Ant-man is confirmed to be the first Phase 3 film, with Strange still only a possibility, and Edgar Wright has given no indication that any of the Ant-man roles have been cast yet. I understand that Feige really wants to make Strange, but there is counting your eggs and there is putting the cart. I suspect Strange will remain elusive for some time yet.

Unless they are casting for the Thor post-credits sequence. In which case, there might be some hocus-pocus in our near future.

Via Collider. Twice.

Ricky Jay Is The Greatest Living Magician

A couple days ago, I mentioned how much I enjoy and respect illusionists. What I didn't mention at the time is my favourite illusionist, Ricky Jay. Probably the greatest illusionist working today, certainly the best slight-of-hand artist, he isn't flashy or crass. His act harkens back to the Victorian showman, a loquacious gentleman telling stories and performing feats damaging to delicate sensibilities. His voice is as powerful as his hands are talented, hypnotic to listen to while the cards do his bidding.

An expert in his field, he was worked with the Encyclopedia Britannica to define the terminology of prestidigitation, and his consulting firm Deceptive Practise has provided "Arcane Knowledge on a Need to Know Basis" to just about every movie having to do with magicians and illusions and card sharks for years. Jay is also an accomplished author and actor, having appeared in a recurring (and non magic role) in Deadwood, as a Bond villain in Tomorrow Never Dies, and a host of others. Friends with David Mamet, who directed all three of Jay's one man shows (and if you haven't seen His 52 Assistants, then you haven't experienced true wonder, and certainly can't find it here), and folk like Steve Martin.

A documentary, Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay, the result of decades of work, is getting limited releases after impressing audiences at the New York Film Festival last year. It not only tracks Jay's career, but also those of the magicians and illusionists who inspired him, mentored him, and transitioned prestidigitation into the twentieth century.

And I so very badly want to see it. For more information about the film, and the current release schedule, check out the film's site.

17 Apr 2013

Warner Bros And DC Don't Know What They Are Doing

My bias against Man of Steel is well established, and this third trailer does little dissuade me from the belief that this film will be nothing more then yet another retelling of the Richard Donner films (more Superman II this time, compared to Bryan Singer's Superman '78 reshoot). From an action perspective, yes, this film looks like a marked improvement over the most recent attempt, considering that in this 3 minute trailer Superman punches more things then he did in that whole previous film. But if the Amazing Spider-man accomplished anything, it was that retelling the same story over and over again isn't just unnecessary, it's annoying.

But, I am willing to give it a chance to surprise me. And I honestly hope it does. I hope it makes me eat every negative word I've written about it. And inspiring hope is kind of Superman's whole deal, so maybe its already a success.

Of course, this is DC and Warner Bros we're talking about, and they rarely pass up an opportunity to screw things up. Recently, Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros told EW that Man of Steel "allow[s] you to really introduce other characters into the same world," and this picture will set up a connected Cinematic DCU (The CDCU, maybe. Or the DCMU?), in the vein of Marvel's films. David S. Goyer, who was involved in the Dark Knight series and Man of Steel, has said that rather then using the Marvel model of setting up future films within films, they would follow the model of Batman Begins and the Joker card, suggesting a future without being specific about it. Which would be great, if I thought they'd be able to pull it off.

DC has, at this time, no movies in the pipeline. The Nolan-verse Batman films are finished, and Green Lantern died on arrival. The Justice League movie, which was supposed to go head-to-head with Avengers 2, while not being scrapped, may well have stalled. And as ambitious as it is to start the shared universe with a group film, part of what made Avengers work (the non Whedon parts of the equation) are that the characters were all well established going in, meaning time didn't need to be wasted introducing them all to the audience. We didn't need to see Tony inventing the armour, or Thor finding his hammer, because he already had. We got to skip over the ponderous origin stuff that bloat the first act of most superhero films. With Justice League, going in cold to any non Kryptonian or Bat characters, they'll have to set up Wonder Woman, Flash, et al., who they are, and where they come from. And that screams fragmentation and dull exposition to me.

What is obvious (or seems obvious to me, at least) is that Warner Bros wants a piece of the billion dollar pie that is superhero movies, but are unwilling to put in the enormous effort that Marvel has in order to produce the third highest grossing film of all time. When Kevin Feige talks about Phase 2, and Phase 3, you can feel how excited he is about these films. You never get that when Warners starts talking about Bats and Sups and such. It's just cold industry talk. I have never detected anything close to the level of passion that the Marvel and Disney folks have for their products, from the people across the street.

Otherwise, they'd just announce a slew of films, put their money where their mouths are, and get on with it. If they aren't willing to take that risk, they deserve none of the reward.

Via ComicsAlliance.

Star Trek Gameplay Looks A Little Slow, And Puffy

I'm way late to the party on this one, but the latest "trailer" for Star Trek: The Game is just good fun. It's good to see Shatner is still up for being part of the Trek team. Of course, I don't think Shatner has ever turned down an opportunity to mock himself, and for that I love him.

I'm looking forward to the game, not as much as the film, but I have always wanted to explore the Enterprise in a digital environment, and this game promises that, while also allowing the player to directly control either Kirk or Spock for the first time. While there will be no DLC (which I'm thankful for, as I do not DL any C, and hate having to wait for potential Game of the Year, or Complete editions of games), there are a few pre-order exclusive uniforms. What I think is a lost opportunity is the lack of a skin to play the game as Shatner. Not Kirk-Shatner, but the Shatner in the video above. Denny Crane Shatner, taking on the Gorn.

How would that not have been fun?

Forget About Winter, Darkness Is Coming

The release of what Paramount is insisting will be the last trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness before the May 17th release has made me realise something: I'm very excited about this film. I knew I was looking forward to it, but the three full, proper trailers have managed to take this lapsed trekker and reignite something inside me that hasn't been active in years.

Maybe its Robocop playing an admiral, maybe its the image of a bunch of Klingons getting their asses handed to them by Cumberbatch, maybe its the fact that according to this trailer, Cumberbatch is in possession of a ship the shape and size of the Enterprise E. Maybe its because these trailers have looked exciting and funny and sad all at once, but I'm at the point now where thinking about the film makes me involuntarily smile, which is a sign of good things because I rarely voluntarily smile, even when I'm happy.

So clearly, this film has wormed itself way into my brain and is controlling simple muscle function. I don't appreciate that, and I will be writing J.J. Abrams a letter to that effect, but in the mean time I want the next month to fold up on itself so I can on the other side of things, and see this damned film. 

Screw "I Believe In Harvey Dent," I Believe In Jim.

16 Apr 2013

Alison Brie Makes Me Feel Better

My bad, really. I was all primed to rip into the WB and DC about some comments they made about Man of Steel, and then yesterday happened, and the bluster kind of drained out of me. It'll come back to me by tomorrow, when I feel that complaining about a movie actually matters again. Right now, I'm just kind of funky and all bummed out.

So, to make up for it, here is a video of Alison Brie recreating internet memes with her face. I don't know what these "memes" are, but I know what an "Alison Brie" is, and so help if she doesn't become a A-list movie star as soon as Community gets cancelled, then there really is no justice in the world. She is adorable! Dammit!

See, the ol' bluster is coming back already.

Via The Mary Sue.

[Review] - Game Of Thrones, Season 3 Episode 3, "Walk Of Punishment"

Courtesy of HBO

While I still maintain that Blackwater is a better exemplar for the structure of episodes, and I will continue to beat that dead horse until it is little more then ripe jam, if I had my druthers, every episode of Game of Thrones going forward would follow Walk of Punishment's tone. As I mentioned last week, the show (outside of Tyrion's story) has never been big on humour, and if there is one major fault to the show it is that it is very dour and morose. The only writer that has ever been able to find room for jokes has been Vanessa Taylor, which makes the fact that this episode was written by Benioff & Weiss all the more remarkable.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that once traded their first born child in exchange for a bit of light housekeeping.

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

At this point, I don't think anyone needs to be "brought up to speed" on what happened in Boston yesterday, this sort of "event" tends to make news around the world. And I'll be honest, I went back and forth on mentioning it at all. It isn't the sort of thing I usually talk about on this site. But, I kept coming back to the fact that to gloss over it, as if it didn't happen is just as bad or worse then talking about it, and getting it wrong.

When last I updated myself on the facts of the event, it was not assumed that it was the act of a terrorist group. As the White House clarified yesterday evening, this was an act of terror, no question. Any time people are hurt, people are killed in order to draw attention, to frighten and to terrorize, that is an act of terror. Whether it was an organised group, a loose-knit group, or just one lone crazy, they did this to make people afraid. Otherwise, there wouldn't have been two bombs. Otherwise, they wouldn't have been set at the finish line. Otherwise, they would have had the decency to stand up and say "I did this" and explain in their own demented logic why, instead of running and hiding. Running and hiding makes them cowards. Killing and maiming people with shrapnel bombs makes them cowards. Everything that the person or persons did yesterday that led to this makes them cowards.

But, of course, it worked. That's the trick about terror. It always works. It makes people afraid. Every event like this (like the upcoming London marathon) will see increased security, despite the fact that an event exactly like this will probably never happen again. That's why it was effective, because no one had ever bombed a marathon before (though, and this shows where my head is most of the day, when I first heard I thought 'Rizzoli and Isles did an episode like this in the first season'). It wasn't something anyone expected, and now marathons and other large scale events will be locked down for years because of the fear that it might happen again. And, once people have begun to forget, and everything cools back down, in a few years Channing Tatum will make a film called Run about it, with a poster done all in orange. Because that's the way things go sometimes.

The majority of people in the world and on the web won't have been directly effected by this, and I'm one of them. But I thought it best to say something, because a horrible thing happened yesterday. Three people are dead, 100 more are injured, some very seriously, and that deserves to be remembered. The rest of the day though will go on as normal on this site, and tomorrow, and the next day. At noon, there will be a review for the third episode of Game of Thrones, and later this afternoon, I'm going to bitch some about Warner Bros and DC. That should be fun.

Should be.

15 Apr 2013

Veronica Mars Returns To Neptune, By Way Of San Diego

Friday night, The Veronica Mars Kickstarter closed to pledges. Just over 90,000 people, including one who donated the $10,000 to get a single line walk on role in the film, has pledge to give $5.7 million, 3.7 more then the minimum required to get the project off the ground. According to the project's main page, this would-be movie now holds the Kickstarter records for fastest project to raise both 1 and 2 million, highest funded film project, third highest funded project in all of Kickstarter, and the project with the most backers ever.

To celebrate, Rob Thomas has announced that the film will have a presence at the 2013 San Diego ComicCon. Said Thomas, “We’re still working with the organisers to figure out if we’ll be holding an official, scheduled panel as part of Comic-Con. I’ll be there, along with as many of our cast members as I can bring along, and we’ll be doing an exclusive Q&A session.” No word if this will include Kristen Bell, who despite being Thomas' partner in crime in getting this project up and running, just gave birth in late March. I'm sure by the time July rolls around she'll be good to go.

As for the money, Thomas is being very clear about where the five million will be spent.
$2 million was our minimum goal. It would be enough to get a movie made, but it was never going to let us make the exact movie we really wanted to make, or the one we know you deserve. I’ve spoken to the press a lot in the past month — turns out they’ve been pretty excited about this whole thing — and one thing I’ve explained is that the final script will depend on how much we’re able to raise. $2 million would have been enough to get us back on the screen. When we started, we didn’t want to set our goal higher than that, for fear we might lose our chance to make the movie at all. But because of you, we did go higher. Way higher. We’re at $4.5 million now. That’s a lot of money. But for a feature length movie, it’s still a pretty conservative budget. Everything you’ve pledged beyond the initial $2 million gives us more options, and for that I’m eternally grateful. More backing means more locations, more sets, more actors, and most important of all, more shooting days.

The bottom line? That extra support will give us the freedom to make the best movie possible. That additional money could mean the difference between a movie that lasts 90 minutes, and one that lasts 110. It could also mean the difference between us shooting in Southern California, where the series was shot, and in a less expensive location somewhere else.
Originally, the plan was for the $2 million to be a sign of faith for Warner Bros, who would have kicked in the rest for what the project needed. Based on the immediate success of the drive, Warner Bros is letting the fans fully fund the project alone, covering only the advertising and distribution. Thomas also made clear that a certain percentage of the raised funds will go back to Kickstarter as a service fee, and a certain amount will go towards producing the t-shirts and other bonus goodies that backers were promised at different price ranges. What is left will go towards making the film, which as Thomas said, for say 3 million of the initial five and a half is a shoe string budget for a film. Certainly more then the budget for an episode of TV, but the point here is kind of not just making a final episode, it's about making a movie.

I look forward to seeing how the project progresses, because if nothing else it is certainly a different way of doing things.

Via the Mary Sue.

[Review] - Doctor Who, Series 7 Episode 9, "Cold War"

Courtesy of the BBC
Since this is the 50th anniversary year, and since the programme is intent on revisiting as much of the show's history as it can (and bloody well should), before we begin I'd like to take a moment to reflect on the nature of reintroduction. Since the show was revived, many classic villains have returned with, and all of these require reintroduction, to the audience of the young, the uninformed, and the Americans. The majority of these were given big, flashy two parters: Age of Steel for the Cybermen, The Hungry Earth for the Silurians, The Sontaran Strategem for the Sontarans. And for the most part, these episodes were crap. They were too concerned with building up the intended reputation of the creatures in question, resulting in the Doctor spending most of one episode being properly frightened by some ominous shadow from out of time, and another overcoming a disappointingly mediocre reality.

The best reintroduction the show has done was in the magnificent Dalek, the first episode of the revival that felt wholly and properly Who, that introduced a new generation to the pepper-pot psychopaths, and made it immediately obvious why "hide behind the sofa" is part of the British vernacular. Oh, if only the Daleks had been used as sparingly and as effectively in those early days, or ever really. It was the menace at their best. The obvious success of Dalek is clearly where Mark Gatiss was working from when he brought us Cold War, and the return of the Ice Warriors, and the first end-to-end good episode of Series 7b.

Hit the jump to read the review, which contains spoilers which are also pale and spindly when out of their armour.

Jonathan Winters Has Died

Master of improv Jonathan Winters died last Thursday at the age of 87, of natural causes. Best known for his manic free-range style, and for characters like Maude Fricker, Winters made a name for himself during the 1950's on his own comedy shows, and again during the 1960's and 70's when he was a favourite late night talk show guest, for the likes of Jack Paar and Johnny Carson.

Despite his deep, commanding voice (which later in life got him a considerable amount of voice work, most recently as Papa Smurf in 2011's The Smurfs, and the upcoming Smurfs 2), and bulldog look, the rubberfaced comedian described himself as a big kid, always playing. Indeed, his bouncing-off-the-walls style of taking the smallest thing and milking it for everything it was worth, a style that directly inspired and mentored Robin Williams, was reminiscent of a child playing with toys, making it up as they go. Winters turned it into art.

Despite appearing in nearly 50 films and TV shows, scripted work was not where he was at his best, and to see the real power and talent of Winters at work, you have to look at his comedy sketches from the 50's, from his late night appearances, and his Grammy award winning albums. I think the best thing said about Winters came from Jack Paar, "If you were to ask me the funniest 25 people I've ever known, I'd say, 'Here they are - Jonathan Winters.'"

12 Apr 2013

The Cast Of The Dark Knight And Zombieland Made A Movie About Magic

I'm a big fan of illusion. Not for the "where'd the bird go" stuff, but because from a very early age I recognised the skill and talent and years of practise that goes into being good enough to trick people into thinking that actual magic happened. Having went through a "magic" phase in my youth, and recognising that I had none of that skill or talent or patience makes me respect those that do even more.

I'm a big fan of movies about illusionists. But only when the movie is about illusionists pretending to use magic, not magicians pretending to be illusionists. That's just fantasy, and there is a place for it, but not what I'm after (The Prestige gets a pass as it is technically science fiction, and only one small element of it). My hope for Louis Leterrier's Now You See Me is a movie about illusionist pretending to use magic, and not a movie about magicians pretending to be douchbags, because despite some off looking CG in this second trailer, the movie does have an appealing look to it.

Or maybe Morgan Freeman's smooth tones are just misdirection.

Want To Reduce Those 190 Million Year Old Wrinkles? Try Collagen Injections

University of Toronto paleontologist Robert Reisz may have discovered preserved collagen in Jurassic era dinosaur remains, according to the cover story on the current issue of Nature. Collagen makes up between a quarter to a third of all protein materials in the connective tissues of mammals (loss of collagen is what causes osteoporosis). Outside of it's naturally occurring instances, it is regularly used in plastic surgery, to aid the healing of scars and grafts, and as something vain people get injected into their face.

And none of that has anything to do with dinosaurs, but this does. Timothy Huang of China's National Chung Hsing University discovered a fossil site which, once excavated, revealed 200 embryonic bones from a Lufengosaurus, a prosauropod dating from the early Jurassic period 190 million years ago (seen above), as well as a selection of other species. Embryonic fossils are very rare, with the majority dating from the Upper Cretaceous, so the age of the discovery is incredible enough. The range and condition of the bones means that Reisz and his team can chart how the animal grew and changed during its embryonic stages, something that hasn't been possible before. Reisz and his team have already been able to determine that the femur size of Lfengosaurus doubled in size during a short incubation period.

Additionally, Huang, a chemist, tested for organic markers on a whim, knowing that the chances of finding any organic material preserved is slim, but when it is located, it is always an important discovery. With the recent clarification that DNA has, at a maximum, a 6.7 million year life, the best the researchers could hope for would be protein remnants. What they found were the oldest known discovered complex proteins preserved in a fossil. To discover them in something as delicate and rare as an embryonic fossil, and a fossil as old as these was, as Reisz put it, "mind boggling." The hope now is to extract this organic material, study it, and compare it to living creatures, in a effort to understand how dinosaur bones and tissues formed during the earliest developmental stages. Said Reisz, "We think they are collagen fibres that represent the framework on which the bone was built. We have very good evidence that this is native dinosaur tissue."

Via the Toronto Star and Macleans.

[Opinion] - In Appreciation Of Jim Beaver

Of all the things that worked perfectly on Justified this season, one that was never really in doubt was the ability of actor Jim Beaver. The man managed to parle a single episode guest role in season two into a recurring role in three and practically a member of the principle cast in season four. This was down to his sheer talent making him someone the writers and producers desperately wanted to get back on the show, as often as possible.

But it's not just Justified. Beaver's presence in anything provides at least an island of stability and security in otherwise uncertain arenas. It has been, however, since the turn of the millennium, that Beaver's work has attracted the widest audience, and greatest acclaim, appearing as a regular on Deadwood and Supernatural, and guest starring on Breaking Bad and Justified.

After the jump, we appreciate the career of Jim Beaver. With spoilers to the above mentioned series.

11 Apr 2013

This Is Your Geek Test. Name Them All Before the Credits

I love science fiction. It's not my favourite genre, but it's the one I have the most allegiance to. I'll defend it to my last breath. I suppose its because the genre is infinitely adaptable, that it allows you to tell interesting stories in non traditional ways, and has the greatest potential to have a real "wow factor." A good science fiction book can blow your mind, a good science fiction movie can look amazing, and all of them have the potential to inspire the reader/viewer/listener/absorber. When I'm developing ideas, I always run them through my sci-fi filter first, to see if the characters and story would be best served in that slightly more extreme version of reality then in a more grounded and strictly regimented genre (if the science aspect isn't critical, I then pass it through my western filter, and finally my gravy filter - the understanding that the narrative might be improved with the addition/subtraction of more gravy based plot devices).

I can trace a lot of my love back to the concept of a ship, and a crew, and this video of Niki Minaj’s Starships wonderfully illustrates all that is good and fun about ship-based sci-fi. Microcosms of society, allegorical stories, personality archetypes; a well crafted and balanced crew has great potential (I've never understood why someone hasn't adapted Lord of the Flies on a space ship). That was what made Firefly so appealing. It wasn't huge, in the tradition of Star Trek, it was intimate. In 9 characters, Joss Whedon was able to represent the human psyche in graceful form. Ship-based science fiction is at its worst when it all it wants to be is explosions and special effects, and at its best when it focuses on the humanity of the characters.

Also, there is always a lot of pretty, pretty ships.

Via the Mary Sue.

Sherlock Reveals Two Of Three

The name of the second episode of the upcoming series of Sherlock has been announced, and the Steve Thompson scripted episode will be known as The Sign of Three, which will follow the premier episode The Empty Hearse.

Obviously titled after the second Sherlock Holmes novel, The Sign of Four, it is unclear how much, if any, of that plot will carry over. The novel concerns a lost treasure and the British rule over India, a modernisation of which might stretch credulity. What almost certainly will remain unchanged is the introduction of future Mrs. Watson, Mary Morstan, as a client of Holmes, and the largest part of the canon not yet included in the series (Moffat and Gatiss having too much fun playing with the notion of Watson being a bit of a hound).

Mary's involvement seemed obvious from the beginning, as Moffat's three hints words - "Rat, Wedding, Bow" - pointed to the possibility of the bachelor Watson getting hitched in Sherlock's absence. The casting of Martin Freeman's partner, Amanda Abbington in an unspecified role for this series further cemented my belief that Mary would appear. And this pretty much clinches it. Now all that remains is to find out what the duo will be up to in the finale.

I would like to take a moment to make mention of Steve Thompson, who never seems to get the appropriate amount of respect. Writing The Blind Banker in series one, and hitting it out of the park with The Reichenbach Fall in series two, he never seems to get as much attention as Moffat or showrunner Gatiss despite doing equal share of the work. Thompson has also contributed to Doctor Who, writing the underwhelming Curse of the Black Spot, and the greatly anticipated (by me at least - corridors!) Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS . So, good on you Steve Thompson. Keep up the good work.

And for next series, remember that my favourite Holmes story is The Speckled Band.

Via The Mary Sue.

Because Renaming Earth "Tartarus" Would Have Been Too On The Nose

I was a fan of District 9 when it was first released. But I've grown less and less charmed with it with each subsequent viewing, to the point where I'm not inclined to see it again, lest my initial opinion degrade entirely. It was with this in mind that I avoided most news about Neill Blomkamp's follow up, Elysium. I'm still not 100% on what it is about District 9 that is eroding my once pleasant thoughts, and I didn't want them to colour my first impressions of this film, starring Matt Damon.

And those first impressions? It looks good, and I mean that literally. I have no idea if the story will hold together, but like District 9, the special effects look impeccable. I don't understand, if the current level of technology can generate this kind of special effect (or those in District 9, which was made for considerably less money), how we still get CG that looks absolutely awful. I mean, The Hobbit didn't look as good as this trailer.

I'm a sucker for a sci-fi story, so I'll see Elysium. But that's no guarantee I'll like it.

10 Apr 2013

Join Sam Raimi Within The Woods

In 1978, and for around $2000 ( big money for a couple kids from Michigan), Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell shot this 30 minute "proof of concept" film for what would become The Evil Dead. In Campbell's autobiography, he talks about taking this film and showing it to rooms full of dentists and their wives, trying to get funding to shoot the full length film (he recommends dentists, as they always have money to spend).

Filmed on Super 8mm, it is the lowest of the low budget, but is also an excellent counter balance to Raimi' recent Oz, the Great and Powerful, which while sharing the occasional stylistic flare, is as far from these humble beginnings as you can get.

All things being equal, I prefer this.

Via /Film.

Marvel Phase 2 News

There is less then a month to go before Iron Man 3 hit theatres, Thor: The Dark World is well into post production, and as of  Monday, filming has begun on Captain America: The Winter Soldier, set for release one year from now. Marvel has released the official synopsis of the film, which like it did with Thor and Iron Man, reveals very little.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier will pick-up where Marvel’s The Avengers left off, as Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and teams up with Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, to battle a powerful yet shadowy enemy in present-day Washington, D.C."
The biggest news to come out of this announcement is the reveal that Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow isn't just putting in a cameo, but is actually co-lead of the film, cementing her role as the highest profile female character in the MCU, and making her the third most ubiquitous supporting character, behind Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury (who will also be appearing in the Cap sequel), and Clark Gregg's Coulson (who won't be. He's busy elsewhere).

It was also revealed that screen legend Robert Redford, whose casting was announced last month, will be playing Alexander Pierce, a senior SHIELD agent, who in the comics was Fury's right hand man, and an expert in the workings of HYDRA. Undoubtedly, his role will include a bit of history with Cap's war time foes, and the appearance of the Winter Soldier. That, paired with the return of Toby Jones as HYDRA mastermind Arnim Zola and Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter also suggest flashbacks to the post-Cap war period, and the possible Soviet expansion of HYDRA's activities.

Elsewhere, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the next film in the lineup and slated for an August 2014 release, has been shoring up its cast. Joining Chris Pratt as Peter Quill will be MMA fighter Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, and Zoe Saldana as Gamora. This leaves only the roles of Rocket Raccoon and Groot the Space-Ent left from the main cast left to fill, and both of those will be CG or motion capture roles. Marvel is interested in either Jim Carrey or Adam Sandler for Rocket Raccoon, clearly intending on making him the Ted style comedic relief, though I can think of a dozen voice actors who would be better in the role then either of those two 90's call backs.

Bautista has spent years in the WWE and MMA, and has recently moved into acting, appearing in The Man with the Iron Fists, and the upcoming Riddick. Saldana, despite making a big splash with her roles in Star Trek and Avatar, has yet to find success outside of sci-fi genre work, and is obviously sticking with what works (Guardians, while representing the biggest risk to Marvel's run of success, has the potential to be a lucrative franchise for the company, with the resurgence of large scale space operas spurred on by Star Trek and Star Wars).

If Guardians films this summer, for a fall release next year, next will follow Joss Whedon's sequel to Avengers, set for release in spring 2015, and Ant-man the fall of the same year. While Marvel isn't releasing any details about either of those films just yet (other then Joss Wheodn teasing that his philosophy in writing the sequel is "Death, death and death."), Morris Chestnut might have just nerdgasmed his way out of a potential role, tweeting that "Not final. #BlackPanther may be in #avengers2 first." The suggestion that Chestnut has auditioned, or at least talked about playing the role, and giving away the farm on Twitter will probably result in Marvel denying it first to us the public, and then to Chestnut himself by not returning his phone calls.

Rule number one, especially when dealing with Marvel: don't shoot yourself in the foot. Just ask Jason Momoa.

Via Collider. Again and again.
Newer Posts Older Posts Home