Saturday, 31 July 2010

LucasArts has insisted upcoming Star Wars sequel The Force Unleashed II remains on target for an October release despite the executive producer's decision to quit.
Executive producer and writer of the Force Unleashed videogame series, Haden Blackman, resigned from LucasArts yesterday after 13 years with the studio, IGN reports.
"I've had a fantastic time working with the team at Lucasfilm and am really grateful for their ongoing support," Blackman said in a statement.
"While the decision to leave LucasArts did not happen overnight or come easily, I really feel that now is the best time for me to move on and explore new creative challenges and I look forward to the next phase of my career."
LucasArts said Blackman's departure will not affect the game's development.
"From launching Behind the Magic to delivering Star Wars: The Force Unleashed I and II, Haden has been an invaluable member of the team during his tenure with the company," LucasArts told GamePro.
"We are extremely grateful for his many contributions, fully support him in his new endeavours and wish him all the best in the future."
Star Wars creator George Lucas is attempting to stop a business from creating replicas of the lightsabres in the hit film series, which actually contain a powerful laser that can damage eyesight.
Lucasfilm has threatened Wicked Lasers, based in Shanghai, with legal action if it does not immediately change or cease production of the Spyder III Pro Arctic Laser.
CNN has reported that Lucasfilm argues the Pro Arctic Laser "was intended to resemble the hilts of our lightsabre swords, which are protected by copyright”.
However, Wicked Lasers chief executive Steve Liu has also told CNN that his company has made other products like the Wicked Laser for several years. "Most people feel it's kind of ridiculous," he said.
"We would never use any comparison like that to Star Wars or a lightsabre or anything like that."

Friday, 30 July 2010

Admitting paranoia over the treatment of the franchise, reaffirms its commitment to releasing high quality titles.

MCV interviewed executive Haden Blackman about the franchise and the prospects of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II this autumn.
"We are so paranoid about tarnishing Star Wars. We want to make every game as good as possible, but it doesn't always work out that way. The Force Unleashed II is a better game. Whether it reviews or sells as well, I have no idea."
Recommitting to quality games is great, though the proof will be in the games themselves. LucasArts has done well by 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge this year, so here's hoping The Force Unleashed II follows suit.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

A list of the top songs and soundtracks from John Williams. His musical pieces are finely arranged and cement his nickname as 'America's Composer.'

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Inside The Magic have managed to get an interview with the man who has ridden the Indiana Jones Adventure more than 1700 times.  Yes 1700!
Interview: Disneyland fan Emmanuel Elefante has ridden The Indiana Jones Adventure more than 1,800 times

Click the Jump to read the story.
Full Ride Through after the 2009 Refurbishment. Hadrosaurus is working again!

Jurassic Park River Adventure Universal Studios Hollywood Flume Ride.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg will be shooting his latest film on a windswept, isolated moor - in Britain.
Dartmoor is the backdrop for a big-budget adaptation of War Horse, a novel by Devon writer Michael Morpurgo.
The book tells the moving story of a horse sold to the cavalry and then shipped to France during the First World War, and his young owner's mission to bring him home.

Hollywood treatment: Legendary Oscar-winning Director Steven Spielberg (left) is to shoot an adpation of 'Warhorse' - a novel written by Michael Morpurgo (right) in Dartmoor and London
'I know they are filming on Dartmoor and in London,' said Mr Morpurgo, who used his home village of Iddesleigh, near Winkleigh, North Devon, as the location for part of the novel.
'I am excited and I hope to go on set and see it.'
The author said he was thrilled that Oscar winner Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy were working together on the production.
'They made ET, Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan,' he said.
'They have made the most exciting films and I am hoping they will do something wondrous with War Horse.'

And adding to the list of top names involved with the film are the twice Oscar-nominated Emily Watson and David Thewlis, who played Professor Lupin in the Harry Potter films.
Richard Curtis, famous for a range of programmes and films including The Boat That Rocked, Dr Who and Four Weddings And A Funeral, will be the screenwriter, alongside Billy Elliot's Lee Hall.
The well-known story is already receiving critical acclaim as a stage adaptation in London and will soon be seen by theatregoers across the pond when the production moves to Broadway.
Mr Morpurgo has seen the script for the film, which is due to be released next year, saying the writers had been "kind" to show it to him and allow him to make comments.
'It is fairly like the book,' said the author, who explained that the story was told by the horse, Joey.
'It is live action and the horses are going to be real for the most part, so we will see the story from the horse's eyes to some extent.
'All of the essential elements of the story are there, which is wonderful so it is going to be up to Steven with his magic to turn it into a great film.'
Mr Morpurgo believed that filming would begin in August and last about three months but he was not sure when the crew would descend on Dartmoor.
'It is going to be an event for the West Country,' he said.
'So much of Devon is stunning and I love the idea of bringing the countryside to people all over the world.'

This Video Contains music from the "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" Soundtrack - composed by Nicholas Hooper. The full soundtrack will be released on July 14th by Warner Brothers Entertainment.

Any requests for Soundtrack Of The Week please let us know via message, or our facebook page

Sunday, 25 July 2010

The main purpose of this painting was to capture the atmosphere of the battle over this monstrous space station.
Fans of Ralph McQuarrie have a lot to get excited about at Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando, Florida next month! The biggest and most exciting announcement is that we are bringing a gallery of over 100 original Star Wars illustrations from Ralph McQuarrie's personal collection to the show, as announced in the LA Times and on earlier this week. You'll be able to see, up close and personal, preliminary drawings and sketches dating back to the day Ralph received the script for The Star Wars from George Lucas. Most of theses pieces are being unveiled for the first time as part of this gallery showing.

To commemorate the event, Dreams and Visions Press has produced a limited edition 48-page, 8.5 x 11 souvenir program that will be available exclusively in the gallery, which includes reproductions of all the images on display along with detailed descriptions of each piece. Limited to only 1,000 copies, it's the perfect keepsake to relive your memories of this very special gallery exhibit.

Visit their website for more information -
In Falling Skies, Steven Spielberg's TV series coming summer 2011, it's six months since aliens wiped out most of humanity. How can Noah Wyle and Moon Bloodgood prevail? Our first glimpse of a trailer gave us some hints. Spoilers ahead...
The panel, moderated by io9's own Marc Bernardin, started with our first trailer for the series, which only gave a few gruesome glimpses of the alien attackers. I saw one clear shot of metal feet stomping past as someone cowered in hiding, and there were quick cuts of a scene where Noah Wyle and a friend take on a monster in a storage facility or supermarket storeroom, and I thought I could see a ridged head. (In the roundtables for Falling Skies, Noah Wyle hinted that the aliens had more than two legs, and you had to get up close and personal to kill one.)
The trailer starts with a child's voiceover narrating the horrible events of the alien attack, interspersed with some gray-tinged footage of the real thing. The child says that he/she was in school when the aliens arrived - and the aliens did not want to be friends. We see footage of a flying saucer coming and blowing up some houses, intercut with a child's drawing of several flying saucers coming down. There's also a child's drawing of jagged-toothed green aliens swarming. There were millions of these aliens, the child says, and they blew up all the big cities as well as the army bases.
We see Noah Wyle talking to one of his kids, who says he just wants everything back the way it was, with his house and his bike and his room. Wyle responds that it's going to get better.
We also see the resistance's military leader, played by Will Patton, saying the cities are a loss, and everybody needs to split up and hide, so they can survive. Noah Wyle, who plays a history professor, says that history is full of cases where a smaller, less well-armed force made so much trouble for an invading army that the invaders had to leave. Noah also pushes a guy on the ground and shouts, in his best Christian Bale voice, "We either do this the right way, OR WE DIE!" There are lots of glimpses of dark evil aliens attacking, intercut with explosions and quick cuts of action scenes. It looks pretty lavish and wide-screen, and this is all just from the pilot, since that's all they've shot so far.
Our first glimpse of Spielberg's "Jericho meets Independence Day" series
So how is it that Tom Mason (Wyle) goes from being a history professor to helping to lead the resistance? Well, his study of the American Revolution has left him with a deep understanding of the sort of military tactics that an out-gunned force can use against invaders. And this comes especially handy since the aliens have taken out the power grid and knocked the human race back to a 19th century level of technology. (I gleaned all this from the panel as well as the roundtable interviews.)
Tom Mason is in charge of keeping the civilians alive, while Patton's character is in charge of the military side, and if you're guessing the two come into conflict, then you're definitely right — it sounds very much like the early days of Laura Roslin and William Adama, all over again. (And of course, producer Mark Verheiden, who was also on the panel, worked on Battlestar Galactica.)
The American Revolution thing will come up a lot — but not as much as it could have. The show was originally going to be called Concord, after the famous Revolutionary War battle, and the Revolutionary parallels were going to be thick and fast. The producers decided to dial back on the American Revolution thing after realizing it could limit the show.
Wyle described his character, Tom Mason: "He's truly an academic. He's a guy who leads with his intellect." He welcomed the challenge of taking this character and turning him into a real military leader and inspiring hero. The main take-away message from the panel and roundtables, in general, was that this show will be uplifting, and not as depressing as BSG could be at times. Yes, genocide and hardship will bring out the worst in people, and people will do things they never thought they'd be capable of - but we'll also see how it brings out the best in people.
"It's not a show about people tearing each other apart. That's not a show we wanted to do," said Verheiden.
Verheiden said he and the other producers know why the aliens are on Earth and what they want - he won't tell us just yet, but they do have it figured out. And they have an endpoint for the series in mind, even if they don't know every detail of how they'll get there just yet, since they have to see how the characters develop. Each season will consist of just nine or 10 episodes on TNT over the summer, so it's less of a commitment than a 22-episode season, Wyle said.
Our first glimpse of Spielberg's "Jericho meets Independence Day" series
Co-star Moon Bloodgood said her character is a pediatrician who lost her husband and child in the attacks, and she falls in love with Wyle's character. Unlike the character Bloodgood played in Terminator Salvation, this time around Bloodgood doesn't do much action. She looks after the children among the hundreds of survivors. "She's a mother type, very empathetic. Always wanting more peace than violence," said Bloodgood.
Wyle, Bloodgood and Verheiden promised that a lot of the sort of issues you'd expect will be explored in this show. How do you reconstruct society after it's been destroyed? Are there things about the old social order that you don't want to preserve? Should you cling to social institutions when society is all but gone? How young is too young for a child to start carrying a gun? What's more important: teaching a child to protect him/herself, or trying to let him/her stay a child a little longer?
Oh, and the trailer showed a glimpse of a trashed supermarket called ShopSmart, but Verheiden said any Evil Dead reference was purely unintentional.
The pilot is already in the can, but the show begins filming on its order of nine episodes on Monday. Wyle said the scripts for the upcoming episodes are clever and surprising and full of ridiculous action, as the humans take the fight to the nasty aliens.
From Site: IO9
Los Angeles Times


Darth Vader Ralph McQuarrie Star Wars George Lucas Comic-Con
Forget The Force, "Star Wars" fans can thank a balky old furnace in Berkeley for the discovery of some nearly lost treasures from the earliest days of the Jedi universe.
When George Lucas was first pitching the idea of a cosmic fantasy that happened a long time ago and in a galaxy far, far away, it was the vivid artwork of Ralph McQuarrie that the young filmmaker used to communicate his strange, otherworldly concepts and characters (some of the most famous paintings, of the droids in the desert, can be seen below). McQuarrie became renowned for his art labors on the film, and for years "Star Wars" scholars have analyzed and discussed every sketch and painting -- well, not every one, it turns out.
In the months after the lavish, 400-page retrospective "The Art of Ralph McQuarrie" was published in 2007, the illustrator was dealing with a far more mundane life event as a repair team came to his house to deal with a failing furnace. Steve Sansweet, the Lucasfilm director of content management and head of fan relations, said the homeowner nuisance delivered a moment of archival serendipity.
Star WArs droids Ralph McQuarrie
"We thought that we had seen all of Ralph’s 'Star Wars' work here at Lucasfilm — literally hundreds of production paintings, matte paintings and sketches, all carefully photographed, inventoried and preserved," Sansweet said. "But because his home furnace needed to be repaired a few years ago, and a forgotten bookshelf unit had to be moved to let the repairman get at it, Ralph discovered an old box on a shelf that was filled with the treasures."
It was too late to put them in the art book, but now Lucasfilm has incorporated these "lost" pieces into a McQuarrie masterworks exhibit that will be staged at Celebration V in Orlando, Fla., in August. There will be 100 original pieces from McQuarrie's personal collection -- design work on characters, creatures, spacecraft, weapons and worlds. There are numerous thumbnail sketches and pencil drawings, such as the one at the top, that were used in the making of the now iconic "Star Wars" production paintings, Christmas cards and other items.
Ralph McQuarrie at work Star Wars "Star Wars" was the first film McQuarrie worked on, and it led to golden opportunities for him; he lent his art talents to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," "Battlestar Galactica" as well as the 1985 film "Cocoon," for which he won an Academy Award in the visual effects category. But McQuarrie, 81, will always be remembered by film fans for his work in the realm of the Jedi.
"It’s unusual that an artist becomes almost as well known to fans as the actors in a significant movie," Sansweet said. "But almost from the start, 'Star Wars' fans have been as interested in how the films were made as who was in them. For them, Ralph McQuarrie is a legend, the man who helped turn visual the ideas in George Lucas’ mind. They were great collaborators."
Of particular interest, perhaps, are the cache of sketches from Day One -- the drawings that McQuarrie made the day he received the "Star Wars" script from Lucas. Also, Lucasfilm has assembled the exhibit to trace the evolution of some signature pieces, from the nascent sketches up through finished paintings.
At the top of this post, published for the first time anywhere, is a Darth Vader sketch made by McQuarrie that has special resonance this year, as this is the 30th anniversary of "The Empire Strikes Back".
"This was a rediscovered piece that we had not seen before," Sansweet said. “This Ralph McQuarrie sketch from 'The Empire Strikes Back' was done to prepare for a production painting of the lightsaber battle on Cloud City between the Dark Lord and his son, Luke Skywalker.”
Sansweet said the latest discoveries and ongoing passion for "Star Wars" will only add to the legacy of the Indiana native who looked down at a blank piece of paper and gave line and form to the words of Lucas. 
"Ralph is a truly gentle man who has spun mind-blowing stories from his imagination; I’ve had the privilege of listening to some late at night. He has done commercial art, concept art and personal art — all with the same care, the sparsest of lines and vivid use of color. And he has inspired so many of the men and women who became artists and went into the entertainment business."
-- Geoff Boucher
Empire 30Harrison Ford returns to 'Star Wars' universe ... for one night
Jon Stewart will interview George Lucas on stage in Orlando
VINTAGE VIDEO: Ford and Hamill on 'Today' show in 1980
The Vader Project returns to L.A. for one last hurrah
Darth Vader for TomTom GPS: 'Bear left, to the Dark Side'
Yucks with Yoda? New 'Star Wars' comedy show
VIDEO: 'Star Wars' and Ke$ha? May the Farce be with you
Lucas asked David Lynch to direct 'Return of the Jedi'
The Rancor interviewed about his 'grudge' against George Lucas
Artwork and photo: At top, a recovered Ralph McQuarrie sketch showing Darth Vader leaping (Lucasfilm). Second, one of the famous concept paintings for the first "Star Wars" film (Lucasfilm). Third, McQuarrie at work (Associated Press photo)
Updated: A previous version of this post suggested that the McQuarrie exhibit in Orlando would contain reproductions of the rediscovered pieces; the exhibit will contain the originals of  the long-lost art and some reproductions of other McQuarrie works that are in the Lucasfilm archives.
In 1980, George Lucas released the sequel to end all sequels with Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. 30 years later, FluffyLogic, THQ Wireless, and Lucasfilm are releasing the an iPhone app centered around one of the film’s most memorable scenes. No, not the father part, but the epic snow battle on the ice planet Hoth in the tower defense app Star Wars: Battle for Hoth. Though it may be a tower defense game, Battle for Hoth brings enough new tricks to the table to keep things interesting. Coupled with classic elements as well as newer micromanagement possibilities, and very basic social features, it’s a game that is well worth the $2.99 price tag. The bad part is that it comes with a handful of usability and intuitiveness issues. The good part is that its enough to give Star Wars lovers a complete and total geek-out.
The basics are easy enough. Imperial soldiers are trying to reach Echo Base, and it’s up to you to stop them. Any troops that get through will cause damage to the base, and when its health reaches zero, it’s game over. In order to defend, players place “towers” that consist of everything seen in the movie. This ranges from cheap foot soldiers to heavy ion cannons to x-wing and snow speeder air support.
TrenchesLike all tower defense games, players must manage income – Command Points – and placement. However, while both of these are similar to their predecessors in basic ways, they are also just as different. Command Points, for example, are not earned passively as enemy units are destroyed, but must be picked up (they are green wrenches), before they disappear, when they are dropped from random Imperial units; typically these are the ones at the end of a wave.
Placement is also prudent, as enemies do not simply funnel from Point A to Point B. On the contrary, many levels can have multiple entry points, and units can attack from either, or both, at any given time. In order to compensate for this, players must balance the quality (units can be upgraded) and quantity of their own forces.
To help in this, players can build trenches, like in the movie, to funnel enemies where they want them to go. Moreover, soldier units can be placed inside them to gain a defensive bonus. Unfortunately, as the game progresses, and enemy TIE fighters and AT-AT walkers get introduced, the trenches do considerably less, in that they simply get bypassed.
It goes without saying that fighting units are going to take more than soldiers, so players must begin adding various gun placements to take them out. Additionally, some can only hit ground and others can only hit air, so, again, variety is a necessity. Beyond this, Battle for Hoth also incorporates an energy mechanic. This means that any tower must have a power generator in relative proximity to work. Also, that power generator can only power a finite number of turrets (up to four when upgraded).
TIE FighterAnother cool aspect of the game is air support. It’s not anything extravagant, but players can also power x-wing and snow speeder control towers that will send out the various air units to support the ground forces as needed.
The strategy aspects of the game don’t stop here either. In a majority of tower defense games, towers are not attackable: Not the case in Battle for Hoth. Imperial troops can, and will, destroy player defenses.
Players can actually adjust the AI of their units to attack specific targets. These commands can apply to a single unit or all units of that type and consist of attacking targets with the most/least health or the closest to Echo Base or land/air targets (assuming it can target both). Also, since the Imperials appear to use similar AI, using all units at one’s disposal is a very wise venture.
Unit GuideIn the complaint department, the issues are minor at worst. Though the game is pretty easy to figure out, there isn’t much instruction as to what new units do when the player earns them each level. There is a separate page that explains each one, but having to stop the game and look it up really breaks the game flow. Additionally, the game’s difficulty curve is a bit awkward. Each level is not necessarily harder than the last once you figure out how to use the new, unlocked, defenses, but in a level of, say, 30 waves, it’s fairly easy until the last three to five. Beyond any of this, the upgrade and command buttons on each individual unit is a bit small for those with bigger fingers.
On the social side of things, the game comes with the OpenFeint basics, including a leaderboard for each level and a fairly sizable number of achievements. We’re still hoping for the mobile, social games to start thinking outside the box in the social department, but with the game itself already pretty solid, it’s not a big complaint.
All in all, Star Wars: Battle for Hoth is definitely a must-have for Star Wars fans. Whether or not it’s a strong recreation of one of the film’s most astounding moments is debatable, but it is fun, nonetheless. Hoth also tries its best to bring back that nostalgia by integrating clips from the movie as well, but that’s a trick seen in a majority of Star Wars titles already. Overall, with a strong amount of strategy and a depth-level  that is perfect for beginners and advanced strategists alike, it’s a game well worth the price tag.

The San Diego Comic-Con panel for the upcoming LucasArts sequel to The Force Unleashed opened with some amazing cinematic footage from the game. In the footage previewed to Comic-Con attendees, Vader reveals to Starkiller that he is in fact a clone, produced to Vader’s exact specifications and designed to be the perfect apprentice.
But the news goes from bad to worse, as Vader explains that he is actually a failed clone. Prone to strange and distracting flashbacks and weird memory-holes, Vader declares Starkiller useless and orders him killed. Starkiller of course, has other plans. Using his incredibly powerful force abilities, he breaks free of his bonds, destroys his Stormtrooper captors and proceeds to flee the planet Camino, becoming a fugitive in the process.
The footage from Force Unleashed 2 really set the tone for the big Lucasarts panel revolving around the upcoming sequel to one of the best Star Wars game properties in recent history. A second clip shown at the start of the panel, begins to reveal the back-story to this sequel, showing Starkiller on the run from Vader now, taking his ship and heading for a nearby planet to rescue his friend General Rahm Kota. ‘Unleashed 2′ is revealed to possess a very rich storyline with deep character development as we follow Starkiller on his journey to be reunited with his one true love, Captain Juno Eclipse.
Hit the jump for a preview of the gameplay, some of the new force powers available in the sequel, as well as a very special Comic-Con exclusive reveal of a small, but pivotal character who will appear in the new game.
Next up, some of the amazing gameplay was previewed, with tons of in-game footage. In this update, force powers take center stage in a huge way. New powers like Jedi Mind Trick allow Starkiller to turn enemies into allies, though if they have an accessible way to kill themselves, they will often take that route first. Picture stormtroopers throwing themselves out windows, or otherwise walking in front of laser turrets, as Starkiller scrambles their minds. Existing force powers have also been amped up significantly.
Starkiller now dual wields two light sabers by default, which is visually stunning to watch him as he slices and dices his way through enemies with acrobatic aplomb. A new ability, called ‘Force Fury’ slowly builds up and then when unleashed by the player, Starkiller’s attacks become devestatingly powerful.
Waves of enemies can be blown to fractions by activating Force Fury.  Some powers have been refined a bit, such as the always-handy deflect power, which seems to work better in the second game. New grappling moves and cinematic finishing moves really pump up the drama and it is truly impressive to watch Starkiller leave a wake of destruction everywhere he goes.
The game engine, Ronin, has been updated to version 2.0 and provides better overall effects. AI has been refined and expanded, now boasting over 25 AI units that really force the player to mix up their attacks and really strategize to overcome always varying challenges. As in the first game, there is a ton of environmental interaction possible, with the ability to force push and fling objects and destruct just about anything you see in the game.
Starkiller can now force crush huge battle droids, compacting the dangerous bots into tin cans in a move that resembles Doctor Manhattan’s powers from the Watchmen. This is indeed a game that reimagines the nature and scope of the force and really takes things into a whole new level.
LucasArts had one final and very special reveal for Comic-Con attendees. A cinematic trailer shows Vader hiring Boba Fett to bring back his wayward apprentice. The LucasArts reps mentioned that Boba plays a small, but pivotal role in the game’s sequel. One can only imagine the tricks Boba will have up his sleeve in order to capture the now fugitive Starkiller.
LucasArts is still testing and tweaking the difficulty level of the game in certain areas as well as play-testing the game ahead of its October 26th release date. The Force Unleashed II will be available for the PC, XBox 360, PS3 and Wii. Be sure to hit the official site for more details and some glimpses of the game as they are unveiled.

Saturday, 24 July 2010


...and its a Star Wars game!

The Bearded Trio Recommends Trench Run on the Iphone.  Now with a major update including the Millennium Falcon

Use the Force to overthrow the evil Galactic Empire as they attempt to destroy the small Rebel base on Yavins jungle moon.

As part of the Rebel Alliances Red Squadron you dogfight with TIE Fighters above the Death Stars surface before heading into a trench where you are inundated by cannon fire.

Dodge obstacles, and stay out of Darth Vaders sights as he tries to gun you down before you have the chance to fire your proton torpedoes into a thermal exhaust port the size of a womp rat. If successful, a direct hit will cause a chain reaction that destroys the Death Star, thus saving the Rebel base from impending doom.
Intergalactic planetary… Bounty hunter Boba Fett is in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II.

The news emerged last night from Comic-Con, San Diego.
Yesterday publisher Activision held a preview event for the game in London, and the lovely Keza MacDonald was there for Eurogamer. Here's what she told us in an email last night:
"Boba Fett is totally in the game, but you don't get to play him or anything. Darth Vader hires him to hunt down Juno, the love interest from the first game, in order to lure Starkiller's clone into his grasp.
"Fett's in the game as a response to fans' requests for more iconic Star Wars characters to liven up Force Unleashed's created universe."
Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: Trench Run 2.0 hit Apple’s App Store on Tuesday with new ships from the movie series along with the ability to use your iPhone or iPod touch to control the Web-based version of the game.

Version 2.0 added the Millennium Falcon, Y-Wing and TIE fighters, Darth Vader’s TIE fighter, improved graphics and explosions, 3D cockpits, and improved game lighting. The update also includes three new Millennium Falcon-based levels.

Star Wars: Trench Run 2.0 is priced at US$4.99 and is available at Apple’s iTunes-based App Store.

Release Date: TBA 2011
Genre: Science Fiction
Cast: Olivia Wilde, Jeff Bridges, John Hurt, Bruce Boxleitner, Amy Esterle
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Writer: Adam Horowitz, Richard Jefferies
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

LucasArts has released a new video for Star Wars: The Old Republic, showcasing this upcoming MMO set in the Star Wars universe. The action takes place thousands of years before the rise of Darth Vader, when war between the Old Republic and the Sith Empire divided the galaxy. Players can choose to play as Jedi, Sith, or a variety of other classic Star Wars roles.
Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
Hollywood filmmaker Steven Spielberg doesn't believe directors should use special effects unless it is relevant to the story of a film.

The "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" director admits it is up to individual filmmakers how to use new technology in movies, but he prefers a simpler approach, reports contactmusic.

"There are so many tools we have now in the tool shed and it's just a matter of individual choice of how we use these tools," said Speilberg.

"I frankly think that special effects are becoming too special. There are too many special effects in all these movies today. It means that the movie starts on a special effect, ends on a bigger special effect and the middle is the same special effect," he added.

However, the three-time Oscar winner admits he still has an admiration for James Cameron's "Avatar", despite much of the movie using performance capture technology.

"'Avatar' is the perfect example of everything in service of the story. Every single moment of life that Jim and the actors breathed into that movie was story-centric," he said.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Mumbai: Three of director Abhishek Kapoor’s favourite movies include Mystic River, Schindler’s List, and the Hindi blockbuster Sholay.
Each of these three movies holds a special relevance for him. “Mystic River has been directed by Clint Eastwood, who is my favourite Hollywood director. The movie unfolds in such a fine way, with no bit of extra manipulation that it grips the viewer,” he says.
Abhishek Kapoor

This is a story about childhood friends Jimmy Markum, Sean Devine and Dave Boyle who reunite following the death of Jimmy’s daughter. Sean’s a police detective on the case, gathering disturbing evidence. He’s also tasked with handling Jimmy’s rage and need for revenge. He is also enthralled by the genius of director Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. What leaves him awe-struck is the fact that Spielberg managed to come up with Schindler’s List at the same time while he directed the blockbuster thriller Jurassic Park. “I am so mesmerised by his versatility,” he adds. Schindler’s List is the true story of Czech born Oskar Schindler, a businessman who tries to make his fortune during the Second World War by exploiting cheap Jewish labour. But he ends up penniless having saved over 1000 Polish jews from almost certain death during the Holocaust. “As for Sholay, I fall short of words to appreciate it.” The Rock On director, who watches some 15 movies in a month, looks for purity in every film, and watches any movie that he can lay his hands on. Though he admits to enjoying comedy to the core, “The idea of directing a comedy has still not crossed my mind,” he speaks. Talking about how films are now being inspired by books, Kapoor feels, “If a book has a good story, it can definitely be made into a good flick too.” He now finds it difficult to watch movies for the sole purpose of entertainment. “Each film seems more of a study instead,” he says.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

MARTHA'S VINEYARD, Massachusetts (Reuters) - After 35 years, people haven't tired of talking about or watching Steven Spielberg's quintessential summer movie "Jaws."
The shark-in-the-water thriller remains competitive on the Hollywood blockbuster list, having raked in over $470 million at box offices worldwide. Adjusted for inflation, the number would be around $1.9 billion today.
Composer John Williams' ominous two-note "shark" theme is known by kids and adults of all ages, whether they've seen the movie or not.
The movie flooded theaters for the first time in June 1975, and the buzz around it remains particularly strong on the original "Jaws" movie set -- the beaches and towns across Martha's Vineyard, which portrayed the fictional Amity Island in the 1975 film based on Peter Benchley's best-selling novel.
On the Vineyard, it's almost as easy find a resident who played an extra in the flick as it is to buy an ice-cream cone.
Most extras were kids back then, and paid $5 a day to swim in the ocean, play on the beach, and most importantly, run screaming from the water when Jaws -- more affectionately known by those involved with the movie as Bruce, a mechanical shark -- was approaching.
"It changed scary movies completely," said Tina Miller, a lifelong resident of the Vineyard, who was an extra in the movie alongside her father and brother.
Tom Smith, now a police officer in the Edgartown neighborhood, was a third grader when he was an extra in the original "Jaws," again in junior high when he was cast for the sequel, and he took a week from college to do special security for "Jaws: The Revenge," the fourth film in the series.
"The people who were involved in the movie are proud of that," he said. "It's part of the identity of those people."


"Jaws" is also part of the Martha's Vineyard brand. The lore surrounding the film draws fans from across the globe for a glimpse at the beach where young Alex Kintner was snapped from his raft, or the empty plot in the sleepy fishing village of Menemsha where crews built shark-hunter Quint's cottage.
Martha's Vineyard, a 45-minute ferry ride off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is known for its low-key, private style and remains a sought-after vacation destination.
Scenic beaches, spectacular sunsets and vacationing U.S. presidents have long been a feature, but "Jaws" has contributed steadily over the years to an economy reliant on tourism dollars.
There are no stands hawking "Jaws" t-shirts near the ferry dock, nor billboards pronouncing it the home of the famous Great White shark. There isn't even an official tour of filming locations.
But if prompted, local taxi drivers will eagerly offer anecdotes from the summer of 1974 and point out "Jaws bridge," where the giant shark famously swam into the pond.
The most widely publicized celebration to date was five years ago, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the movie's release. The island hosted JAWSfest 2005, a three-day celebration with an open air screening that attracted more than 4,000 visitors and island residents.
Fans are clamoring for another such event. And island businesses, eager to recover from a dip in tourism during the recession, would be eager for the boost.
Joe Badot, general manager at The Harborside Inn in Edgartown, said occupancy during JAWSfest climbed to nearly 90 percent, when a typical June would fill just half of his 90 rooms.
Susan Sigel Goldsmith, co-director of JAWSfest, would like to see the next "Jaws" event as a tribute to the cast and crew. "These people have changed our lives, our island, our culture," said Goldsmith.


Documenting the impact of the film on island history has been a full-time job over the last two years for Matt Taylor, who is polishing a 300-page account of how "Jaws" was made.
The book, titled "Martha's Vineyard Remembers Jaws," includes about 800 never before published photographs of the production snapped by islanders, and 65 interviews with those closest to the filming. It is set for release this fall.
Taylor said readers will be surprised to learn about the impact island residents had on the film's success, pointing particularly to contributions from Susan and Lynn Murphy.
Lynn Murphy, a Vineyard marine mechanic, was hired to help run the special effects in the water.
"They were having a terrible time with it until Lynn came along and set everything straight," said Taylor. "Lynn, and his knowledge of how to do things on the water, really saved the production."
The photos in his book were compiled by "Jaws" fan and memorabilia collector Jim Beller who, despite technology advances that make some of the "Jaws" special effects look rudimentary 35 years later, isn't worried the movie will lose its luster for the "Avatar" generation of fans.
"If you love a good suspenseful movie, a movie that has everything, or you are a Steven Spielberg fan, see it," he said. "If you like swimming -- think twice."

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

“The Pacific,” the HBO miniseries about World War II from Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, captured 24 Emmy nominations to lead the shows vying for television’s most-coveted awards.
“Glee,” the Fox network show about a high-school glee club, came in second with 19 nominations, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences said today in Los Angeles. “Mad Men,” the AMC series about a Madison Avenue advertising agency in the 1960s, was third with 17.
HBO, owned by Time Warner Inc., garnered the most nominations with 101. Among cable networks, Cablevision Systems Corp.’s AMC was second with 26. Walt Disney Co.’s ABC was first among broadcasters with 63 nominations, garnering 14 for “Modern Family” and 12 for “Lost,” the fantasy series about island castaways that concluded this year.
In 10 parts, “The Pacific” was produced by the creators of “Band of Brothers,” the HBO miniseries about 101st Airborne’s role in World War II in Europe. “The Pacific” told the intertwined stories of three Marines as the U.S. battled Japan.
The show was produced by Spielberg’s DreamWorks, HBO Films and Playtone, Hanks’s production company, according to, an entertainment-industry website. The Emmys are scheduled to air Aug. 29 on NBC.
“Glee,” a first-season show on News Corp.’s Fox, was ranked among the 20 most-watched in weekly ratings from Nielsen Co. Nominations for the program included best comedy series and nods for actors Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele.
“Modern Family,” another newcomer, corralled comedy nominations for the series and several cast members.
Conan O’Brien was nominated for best variety series for his short-lived run as host of “The Tonight Show” on NBC.
Among broadcasters, CBS came in second with 57 nominations. NBC, owned by General Electric Co., had 48, and Fox had 47.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Qui Gon Jinn 
Lightsaber Limited EditionExactingly copied from surviving filming props in the Lucasfilm archive, this awesome replica reveals never before seen details.

Qui Gon Jinn Lightsaber Features:
  • Machined aluminum and brass parts
  • Anodized black details
  • Anodized red female knurled button
  • Intricate pommel detailing
  • Museum quality display case with mirrored base and acrylic cover
  • Numbered plaque and certificate of authenticity

Buy Qui Gon Jinn's infamous lightsaber today!

"Obi-Wan, promise... promise me you will train the boy. He is the Chosen One. He will bring balance. Train him..." Qui-Gon Jinn Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace

Defiant to the end, with his last breath the venerable Qui-Gon Jinn exacts a fateful promise from his Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi, to train a young slave boy named Anakin Skywalker to become a Jedi Knight.

During a mission to settle a simple trade dispute between the greedy Trade Federation and the peaceful world of Naboo, Qui-Gon and his apprentice became embroiled in a sinister plot, engineered by the mysterious Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith.

Escaping an ambush, the Jedi landed on the Outer Rim world of Tatooine, where Qui-Gon met a young slave boy, Anakin Skywalker. A practitioner of the Living Force, Qui-Gon sensed the boy to be the "Chosen One," a Jedi who would bring unity and balance to the Force, and requested permission of the Jedi Council to train the boy. Fearing Anakin's future to be clouded and uncertain, the Council refused.

As the nefarious scheme of the evil Darth Sidious reached its climax, Qui-Gon was killed in battle by the vile Sith Lord's apprentice, Darth Maul. Mindful of his beliefs Qui-Gon swore Obi-Wan to carry out his last wish, setting in motion a chain of events that would bring chaos, but ultimately peace, to the galaxy.

In Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon's lightsaber was machined by the prop department from aluminum. Resin parts were cast and a rare, red aircraft button was added as decoration. Working directly from surviving props in the Lucasfilm archives, Master Replicas' engineers have crafted a copy of the hero version of the hilt from machined aluminum, featuring rich black anodized parts, never before seen details, and a red anodized button complete with the rare knurl of the original.

What's in the box?

Qui Gon Jinn Replica Lightsaber handle, museum quality display case with mirrored base and acrylic cover, numbered plaque and certificate of authenticity.

Sunday, 18 July 2010


hings have been pretty light on Pixar loving of late but that ain’t gonna last too long with the release of Toy Story 3.  No doubt its going to be a masterpiece of style, technical wizardry, storytelling and everything else that they do all so well (its all guesswork until I see it but lets face it, Pixar don’t exactly do bad films…).  So ye can all drool over the visuals but what  caught my eye is that Pixar, along with Skywalker Sound and Dolby Laboratories, have developed a new 7.1 surround sound configuration for the film to be viewed in – unfortunately Dolby are essentially men-in-white-coats and lack the creative genius of Pixar so the best name they could come up with was well….Dolby Surround 7.1.

Nerds, put your specs on, things are gonna get wordy!! So Read the rest here

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Mary Bihr, LucasArts' vice president of global publishing, has defended the company's commitment to original creations by telling Gamasutra that it is "not opposed" to looking in new directions.

The LucasArts E3 selection was a little lopsided in the ideas department this year, showcasing Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2, the BioWare-developed MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic and, of course, the as-yet-unnamed Star Wars game for Kinect that was debuted as a tech demo. A special edition of Monkey Island 2 was also shown, but (although welcome) this is a remake of a game that is almost two decades old.

"We're a company that is always looking for innovations" Bihr claimed, before referring to "the technology we're using in The Force Unleashed 2" as an example. While that technology may be impressive, it is still powering a long-standing, traditional franchise.

Bihr did, however, offer a little hope for those waiting for new creations from LucasArts. "We see ourselves as continuing a longstanding tradition we've had of being storytellers" she said, "Both original stories and original franchises."

Friday, 16 July 2010

Last week, model and occasional actress, Kelly Brook, made news by appearing in a magazine photo shoot wearing the iconic Princess Leia slave costume from Return of the Jedi (see how she looked here). In doing so, Brook joined a legion of famous (and not so famous) people who have paid homage to the greatest princess of all time.

Whether it's the Leia during her 'doughnut-on-either-side-of-her-head' phase or in the sexy garb that Jabba the Hut designed for her, Princess Leia's fashion choices have always been a permanent fixture in pop culture. Basically, if anyone bothered to do a 'Most Parodied Thing Ever' list... Leia would definitely be in the top five.

So, with that in mind, here are our ten favourite Princess Leia tribute moments from the world of movies, telly and beyond. Needless to say, the force is strong in all of our selection...


The actual gameplay trailer we witnessed behind closed doors at E3 2010 has finally been released by LucasArts!!
Watch as all the classic MMO gameplay you have come to love, are taken to a galaxy far far away for Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Star Wars: The Old Republic E3 Multiplayer Demo

Thursday, 15 July 2010

He was the quintessential American artist of his generation, creating scenes that captured turning points in life . . . and dreams of what lies ahead.

They are the quintessential American filmmakers of their generation, creating scenes that capture turning points in life . . . and dreams of what lies ahead.

Still, you might be surprised to learn that Norman Rockwell's work had a profound influence on Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, starting when they were boys, inspired by his covers on the Saturday Evening Post.

"He was able to sum up the story and make you want to read the story," said Lucas, "but actually understand who the people were, what their motives were, everything in one little frame."

It was Lucas who started collecting Rockwell.

His friend and colleague, director Steven Spielberg, said he couldn't believe that somebody he knew had "a living, breathing oil painting by the hand of this great American icon. It was amazing."

"So you decided to get some, too?" asked Braver.

"Well, well yeah; I copied this guy and got a Rockwell," Spielberg laughed, adding, "I went out and I got a bigger Rockwell!"

The first exhibit of the works they own just opened at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington.

Gallery and Extended Interview With Lucas and Spielberg

On a tour of the exhibit Lucas remarked that he'd never seen all the pictures all in one place.

There's “Shadow Artist,” which usually hangs in Lucas's office: "It's the entertainer, using light and motion," he said, "which is where our industry started."

"Boy on a High Dive” is usually in Spielberg's office.

When asked if it were his favorite Rockwell painting, Spielberg said, "Well, let's put it this way: This is the Rockwell that, every time I'm ready to make a movie, every time I'm ready to commit to direct a movie, that's me - that's the feeling in my gut, before I say 'yes' to a picture. Because every movie is like looking off a three-meter diving board, every one."

Curator Virginia Mecklenberg, who was "thrilled" with the quality of the collections the two filmmakers had amassed, points out that Rockwell himself was fascinated with the movies, spending time in Hollywood where he captured Gary Cooper on location for “The Texan."

"He was just fascinated with the idea of the, quote, cowboy, being made up by the tough-talking Hollywood makeup man?" Braver asked.

"Well, he's reversing roles here," Mecklenberg said. "The makeup man's chomping on a cigar but he's also putting on the makeup and he's got this cloth on his lap, that's smeared with rouge and lipstick. And Cooper is . . . he's beautiful."

And Rockwell, famous for his sense of humor, might be tickled to see that one of the macho guys he painted in 1935 bears a striking resemblance to Indiana Jones, in the 1981 Lucas-Spielberg collaboration, "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

The 1941 Rockwell painting called "The Flirts” could be a prelude to Lucas' "American Graffiti," released 32 years later.

Spielberg actually paid homage to one of Rockwell's most famous images, "Freedom From Fear," in his 1987 film, "Empire of the Sun."

"I actually had the magazine open to that picture when they were putting the young boy Jim to bed, before everything falls apart in World War II," he said.

In fact, in a 1959 "Person to Person" interview, CBS Newsman Edward R. Murrow asked Rockwell about the enduring popularity of those images.

"Do you have any idea of how many copies have been made of those paintings?" Murrow asked.

"I don't really know, I know it runs in the millions and millions," Rockwell replied.

But many of Rockwell's fans had no idea that he composed each one of his works the way a film director sets up a shot . . . picking out the props, organizing the lighting. "He even auditioned his models," said Mecklenberg, "to make sure that they would act out the roles that he expected them to play in his pictures."

(© 1930 SEPS: Curtis Publishing.)
There's ample evidence of that at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. Along with Rockwell's studio (preserved as he left it), and walls of his Saturday Evening Post covers, there are also thousands of photographs from which Rockwell sketched and painted.

(Left: "Gary Cooper as the Texan," 1930, from the collection of Steven Spielberg.)

Archivist Corry Kanzenberg said Rockwell's models were usually his New England neighbors, folks like Mary Whelan Leonard.

She was 9 years old when Rockwell asked her to pose for “A Day in the Life of a Girl.”

Sot "I loved the idea of being told a story and then being a part of it," she said.

She appeared on three Saturday Evening Post covers, including "Girl With a Black Eye."

Rockwell worked hard to get the girl's grin: "And he gets down on his hands and knees and he starts banging the floor and doing all these antics to make me laugh," Leonard recalled. "And eventually I do it!"

Of course, Steven Spielberg is also famed for directing kids . . .

"I've often admired Rockwell for how tough it is sometimes to get kids to be natural," Spielberg said.

And like Spielberg and Lucas, Rockwell was never afraid to send a moral message . . .

"I think he's left a legacy that'll never be forgotten," said Lucas. "You know, so many artists have a tendency to paint without emotion, without any connection to the audience. And both Steve and I are die-hard emotionalists, and we love to connect with the audience."

"He had a tremendous respect for the virtues of mankind," said Spielberg, "and there was a real sense of community, of family, and especially of nation."

A vision of the American spirit . . . for this Fourth of July

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

As he’s about to turn 20, the German actor’s career looks set to surge.
David Kross was so impressive as Kate Winslet’s teenage lover in The Reader (pictured),  it’s surprising the young German actor has only made two films since then, the German-lingo dramas Same Same But Different and Das Blaue vom Himmel (The Blue of the Sky).

His career looks like getting a major boost as Steven Spielberg has enlisted him for the cast of War Horse, one of the first films produced by DreamWorks Pictures since it finalised a long-term financing deal with Indian conglomerate Reliance ADA Group.

Based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo and set in 1914, the movie centres on Joey, a bay-red foal sold to the British Army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. Joey's courage touches the soldiers around him but the nag pines for Albert, the farmer's son he left behind. Albert heads to France to try to save his pet.

Newcomer Jeremy Irvine, whose only previous screen credit is the UK Disney Channel series Life Bites, has landed the plum role of Albert. Emily Watson and Peter Mullan will appear as his parents. Kross will play Gunther, presumably a German soldier. The cast also includes David Thewlis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Niels Arestrup, Leonard Carow, Rainer Bock and Robert Emms. Shooting starts in August.

Kross, who turns 20 on July 4, won a Shooting Star award which honours young actors presented by European Film Promotion, a pan-European network of film promotion and export organisations, at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival. 

He was still at school when he won the part of Michael, the 15-year-old who has an affair with Winslet’s former prison guard, in Stephen Daldry’s The Reader. He made his screen debut at the age of 12 in German TV’s Help, I’m a Boy.

In director Detlev Buck's 2006 film Tough Enough, he won critical acclaim as a boy who moves to a more popular Berlin neighbourhood and is victimised at school. He teamed with Buck again in Same Same But Different as a German high school student who goes backpacking and falls in love with an HIV-positive prostitute (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk) in Cambodia.

Hans Steinbichler’s Das Blaue vom Himmel spans a 60-year period, focusing on a woman (Hannelore Elsner), who starts to lose her memory of recent events but vividly recalls the distant past.

Kross, who began a three-year course at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in 2009 but dropped out after a year, seems a well-grounded young man. He was in Cambodia shooting Same Same But Different when he heard he’d been nominated for the Shooting Star award. His reaction: “I was elated and surprised; I didn't expect anything like that.”

One imagines the call from Spielberg was an even bigger thrill.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Sarah Carlson/TimesDaily
Young visitors to the “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” exhibit look at Luke Skywalker's original speedracer used in “Star Wars,” on display at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville. The traveling exhibit is open through Sept. 6.
By Sarah Carlson
Staff Writer

Published: Sunday, July 4, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 6:29 p.m.

Leaving a darkened theater into the bright sunlight one afternoon in 1997, I contemplated the film I'd just seen — “The Empire Strikes Back.” And then, my 12-year-old self made Carlson family lore by saying this thought out loud:

“The third one makes more sense now.”
My parents cracked up, and still laugh about the line today, as we exited the screening of the classic 1980 film. But it was true — I'd largely skipped over “Empire” as a child in favor of the Ewoks in '83's “Return of the Jedi.” And these were the glory days before the prequels, which I'd rather not discuss.
Seeing the reissued film that spring helped form my love for the ultimate sci-fi series, a love my parents gained firsthand in 1977 with the release of “Star Wars” and one subsequent generations have found, usually as kids: “Star Wars” is just fun.
I couldn't help but revert back to age 12 recently as I toured the “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” traveling exhibit on display at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville. Walking through the exhibit with members of the press and their friends and families last weekend during its opening, we all reverted to children as we gawked at some of the original scale models and costumes used in the series. We managed to refrain from pushing kids aside to play with the interactive features, though.
The traveling exhibit was produced by the Museum of Science, Boston, and Lucasfilm Ltd., “Star Wars” creator George Lucas' production company, and its stop in Huntsville is the first in the Southeast. Tickets for the exhibit are selling well, said Amy Dawkins, of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, and advance sales for this holiday weekend predict busy days.

Read the rest here

Monday, 12 July 2010

It's been 35 years, but people are still scared to get into the water. That's the legacy of a two-hour movie released in June 1975 by a then little-known director called Steven Spielberg, and which turned the hitherto tranquil act of visiting the beach into a nerve-wracking pursuit which involved the humming, at ever increasing speed, of two musical notes: "dee-dum."
The film, of course, was Jaws. And aside from forever poisoning our relationship with vast predatory fish, it also made an indelible impact on modern culture as the first ever Summer Blockbuster: the first movie to pass the milestone of making $100m at the box office, and the first to be marketed by a major Hollywood studio as a cultural event.
Before Jaws, new films were typically released in a handful of cinemas, often on a Monday night, before widening to more screens if enough people turned up. 

Roy Scheider plays Chief Martin Brody in the first two Jaws films

After Jaws, the industry's playing field shifted: having learned that a single movie could make $100m, studios began taking bigger gambles. They filled cinemas with expensive "tent-pole" productions which opened on a Thursday or Friday in hundreds of theatres at once. If they caught the zeitgeist, financial returns were stellar. If they didn't, the losses were equally spectacular.
This, give or take, was the revolution that gave rise to the most influential films of the past three-and-a-half decades. Without Jaws, the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films would never have been green-lit. There would be no Batman, Spider-Man, Transformers, Mission Impossible. Not for nothing is Steven Spielberg widely known as the "father" of the modern blockbuster.
Yet lately, there have been signs that the time-honoured genre he created may be slipping into decline. More and more action-packed special-effects-laden cinematic extravaganzas have bombed, while smaller, quirkier titles have upset the odds and succeeded. The evidence pointing to the blockbuster's demise is written not just in the Oscars, which for years have tended to be dominated by independent titles, but in the 2010 box office charts. Recent months have seen ambitious projects like Prince of Persia, Clash of the Titans and Ridley Scott's Robin Hood land with a soft thud, making only a fraction of expected takings. The Memorial Day holiday, traditionally one of the most lucrative weekends in the US box office calendar, was the worst in 17 years.
Universal, the studio which launched Jaws in 1975, is in the regrettable position of not having produced a bona fide hit for over a year. MGM, which used to churn out storied blockbusters, is on the verge of bankruptcy. While Hollywood keeps churning out expensive action films, more and more of the breakout hits of recent times appear to have been cut from a different cloth. "Over the years, the term 'summer blockbuster' has come to mean a very specific sort of movie, targeted mostly at teenage boys or families," says Tim Gray, the editor of Variety. Yet, Gray says, the most modish movies of recent summers have been titles like The Hangover, an adult comedy with no major stars, and Mamma Mia, a quirky musical. Last year saw offbeat titles like District 9 and Inglourious Basterds make unexpectedly healthy returns.
"Studios are catching on to the fact that there are audiences beyond the traditional Transformers crowd," adds Gray. "Last year there were seven or eight real surprise hits, including things like Paranormal Activity and Taken, which made huge sums. In the past you'd maybe expect no more than two or three."
The great irony about Jaws is the fact that it owed much of its success to a happy accident. Spielberg, 27 at the time of filming secured a $7m budget for his adaptation of the novel by Peter Benchley, and decided to spend the cash filming key scenes off the coast of Martha's Vineyard (rather than in a cheaper, safer, indoor tank). A special-effects nut, Spielberg also decided to create a hydraulically powered fake shark called Bruce. Unfortunately, Bruce suffered technical problems. First he sank. Then salt water played havoc with his mechanics. Filming ran over schedule. Even when he did work, Bruce still looked fake. So once Spielberg got to the editing room, he made perhaps the most important decision of his career: he took a hatchet to his proposed film, editing out almost all of the footage of the shark, so that it only appeared, very fleetingly, and mostly towards the end, when the audience had already suspended its disbelief.
Paradoxically, the change made Jaws exponentially more terrifying. Film-goers saw the results of the shark's handiwork: the screaming holidaymakers and the ocean stained red with blood. But the villain of the piece remained hidden.
Realising the commercial potential on their hands, Universal delayed release until Friday, 24 June 1975. They marketed it heavily, with endless adverts and trailers and a memorable slogan: "Don't go in the water!" It opened straight into 400 cinemas, an uncommonly large number for the era. The profit margin, for the first run, was 1,500 per cent. On the opening night, queues of teenage boys formed outside cinemas. Over the ensuing weeks, many of them were prepared to pay to see Jaws several times. It had become the first real "event" movie.
This taught studios two things: with editing, even mediocre footage can be re-engineered into a brilliant film, and if you bet big you stand a far higher chance of winning big. The Jaws model gave us Star Wars and Top Gun, and some of the most memorable films of the past 35 years. But it has also become a licence to make bad films. As studios took bigger bets, they began ironing out provocative quirks in their products, tending to leave them artistically neutered.
In Jaws we can also see the start of the disheartening trend for endless, unimaginative sequels. The film had three – in 1978, 1983 and 1987, each worse than its predecessor. These days, even the kind of release schedule pioneered by Jaws has been endlessly abused. An average new Hollywood film hits between 2,000 and 3,000 cinemas on the opening weekend. To cynics, this allows a bad film to get a vast audience before word gets out that it's lousy. But audiences appear to be getting wise to those tricks. It's getting harder, if you like, to tempt them into the water.

Music from the 1990 motion picture composed and conducted by Alan Silvestri.
A modder has recreated Disneyland's Indiana Jones: Temple of the Forbidden Eye ride using Valve's undead shooter Left 4 Dead.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Star Wars sound engineers Matt Wood and David Acord have spoken to this week’s ForceCast. Chiefly, they were chatting in a rather specific and delightfully nerdy manner about a single detail of the original Star Wars soundtrack, debating whether or not Obi Wan’s scary roar was borrowed from a Hanna-Barbera cartoon called Dino Boy. However, at the end of the segment, they revealed the following:
And, to be honest, that sound effect has been changed again. So at some point the audiences will be hearing that scene again with the new sound effect.
At some point, unspecified, in the future. Intriguing. Here’s another quote on the new version of the effect:
[We] decided it should sound even more human. And the human it does sound like… yeah, we’ll talk about that another time.
Sounds like they’re trying to forge some new subtext in this latest remix, and very subtly so.
It’s stated clearly in the interview that the DVD remix was done in 2004, and that another full mix was done in 2007. But why? Was that when Lucasfilm started the process of mastering the films for Blu-ray? Very possibly. But the films have played in HD on TV already, and from what the guys were saying here, the fresh soundtrack wasn’t rolled out then; it’s still unheard.
There’s another possibility. Back in 2005, Lucas attended a Showest event promoting the In-Three company’s 2D to 3D conversion process. During the session, they even played the dumbstruck crowd a converted version of a scene from Attack of the Clones as well as the entire opening reel of the first Star Wars picture, the one the die-hards now call A New Hope, with every frame of it in 3D.
Word was that all three Star Wars films would be getting 3D rereleases in cinemas, and it’s a rumour – well, more than a rumour, really – that simply refuses to go away. Official statements from Lucasfilm might have been foggy or even contradictory on the matter, but we know George at least wanted, and has tried, to convert his saga into 3D. And that could well have been the perfect excuse for another, maybe more dimensional, overhaul of the soundtrack too.

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