Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Variety magazine is reporting that the powerful Dreamworks studio, founded by Steven Spielberg,  has purchased the rights to Karen Marie Moning’s ‘Fever’ series set among the fairy folk in Ireland.
The five book series tells the story of a young woman from Georgia, Mackayla Lane, who travels to Ireland to track down the murderer of her sister.
While there she encounters a world filled with ancient secrets, fairies, goblins vampires and other hard-to-kill creatures.
Dreamworks envisages the five part series as their answer to ‘Twilight’ and other vampire and fantasy franchises that have become enormously popular. The author has already said that she will seek to have the films made in Ireland
She told the Sunday Times: "When I first saw Dublin, I knew I was going to set a story there. I've long felt an inexplicable fascination with Ireland."

Showtime is teaming with Steven Spielberg and Stephen King on a new drama series based on King's 2009 best-seller "Under the Dome," reports.
The novel centers on residents of Chester's Mill, Maine, who begin turning on one another after an invisible force field suddenly surrounds their town, cutting them off from the rest of the world.
No casting has been announced.
DreamWorks' Spielberg and Stacey Snider bought the rights to "Under the Dome" shortly after it was published in November 2009.
King will serve as an executive producer on the Showtime series, and the search is on for a writer.


Celebrating the release of the Star Wars Complete Saga Blu-ray with the master of stop motion

Star Wars interview: Phil Tippett
TM & © Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Now heading his own effects studio, hard at work on the new Twilight movie no less, as stop motion animator and creature effects on all three Star Wars films, Phil Tippett crafted some of the most iconic scenes in the saga, from the AT-ATs emerging from the snow to the eerily fascinating patrons of the Mos Eisley Cantina, and was on hand for the birth of SFX powerhouse Industrial Light & Magic. Tippett takes a Tautaun down memory lane with SciFiNow.
What was the first thing you remember hearing about the first Star Wars movie?
“I had a couple of a friends that I worked with, we worked at a place called Cascade Pictures and they did television commercials, the Pillsbury Doughboy and Jolly Green Giant and car commercials and that kind of thing. And they had a little insert stage called Stage Six that was kind of our home, it was the only place in the United States at that point that was doing stop motion animation, so that’s kinda where everybody gravitated to – I mean my mentors were Jim Danforth and David Allen, who were the lead animators there. Me and my friends – Dennis Muren who was a lighting cameraman and Jon Berg who built armatures and puppets, and Ken Ralston and all these guys – we all wanted to work on movies, but there weren’t any movies and we couldn’t get into unions and no-one was doing that kinda thing.
“Dennis got hired to work on this little movie called Star Wars that George Lucas was directing, and we were all fans of American Graffitti and THX and we thought, ‘Oh, that could be fun’, and so Dennis started working there, and from there it just kinda ballooned. He was on the night crew and he hired Ken to come on as assistant camera, and then things just started happening. So I was tracing the progression of Star Wars through Dennis – at that point they were having a lot of problems, this was the year before the release or something like that, getting everything working, all the stop motion control and blue screen and all this kinda stuff, so they weren’t getting that much footage. They were running out of time and money was getting flushed down the toilet, then I would go over and visit, look at the set ups, watch what they were doing, have dinner with them, and stayed abreast of it.”
“George wasn’t happy with the Cantina scene, he didn’t get all the footage that he needed and he didn’t like the creatures, so he needed to set up a little insert unit where we could shoot additional creature stuff for that Cantina scene. So I got involved with it – a bunch of out of work animators – Doug Beswick, Jon Berg, myself and a couple of others.”
Star Wars interview: Phil Tippett
SciFiNow issue 58 is out now!
Was it a bit of a trial by fire?
“No, it was fun! George ran the scene for us and we just went ‘Woooah, hey, this is gonna be good!’. So we were all very excited, so as a group we put together a small shot under the auspice of Rick Baker and threw in a bunch of masks that he’d made, and Ron Cobb did a bunch of designs, so we moved into this tiny little place and George would come by every week or so to check out the progress, and it was at that point that we added the stop motion puppets that were brought in – I was working on them on the side. And he said, ‘Oh, you guys this stuff too? Hmm’, so he started thinking and that’s how we got the gig doing the chess scene, and Star Wars was shot with me and Jon as stop motion animators. That was a long winded answer!”
What was it about the Cantina scene that was missing?
“George needed to flesh out more unusual creatures that they weren’t able to get, Stuart Freeborn got sick on that show, and wasn’t able to deliver all the stuff that he hoped to be able to deliver. Most of the creatures that they shot in England were like animal type things – mole people and crocodile people, that kind of thing – and George wanted it more like space aliens, so we fleshed out that kinda stuff. So pulled all this stuff down to an insert stage in La Brea, and all of us guys that made the stuff got to put the masks on, and George came down and Carroll Ballard shot all of these little inserts on little sets that matched what they had in England. We just spent a couple of days putting on masks, and acting and doing all this stuff… it was fun!”
Was George good at giving feedback on the various designs?
“No, he was all very easy. He’d say ‘come up with a bunch of stuff and do as much stuff as you can’.”
Was the atmosphere a lot different on The Empire Strikes Back?
“Everybody was really optimistic about everything because Star Wars was such a huge success, it was fun working on that movie and being able contribute but nobody had any idea that it would be the phenomenon that it was. When George elected to move his operation up north I was more than happy to be a part of it because we all owe him so much – and I was born in the San Francisco Bay Area, so it totally worked out for me. Everybody had a really great time, we had a really whacky schedule because we didn’t have a lab in San Francisco – the lab was in Washington – so we’d get our dailies back at two o’clock in the afternoon or something like that, so we couldn’t really do a whole lot of work, so we’d come in late and work ‘til like three or four o’clock in the morning. We played a lot, every Friday was darts and beer, and we would make up projects out in the field and do weird little set ups that had nothing to do with anything – I think at one time we did a false perspective thing with glass that made a B-29 crash into the building, silly stuff like that.”


Image Credit: Munawar Hosain/Fotos International/Getty Images
It hasn’t been a great summer for 3-D cinema. For one thing, attendance in 3-D theaters is dropping — possibly because people are unwilling to pay the added surcharge, but more likely because American moviegoers have gotten tired of paying extra money for a darker image. More disturbingly, however, there was no breakout film this summer that absolutely demanded to be seen in 3-D: No panoramic How To Train Your Dragon, no neon-spectacular TRON: Legacy, not even a cheesy thrill-ride like Jackass 3D or Piranha 3D. The one film that actually seemed to justify the 3-D was Transformers: Moon over Memphis, and even that was ultimately undone by Michael Bay’s inability to stage giant-robot-action as anything more than digital robo-sludge.
Despite growing complaints, 3-D isn’t going anywhere. In fact, some of 2012′s biggest films offer intriguing possibilities for the form. Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, and the new Spider-Man reboot are all being filmed in 3-D. If nothing else, these films will probably look better than the 3-D conversions that darkened Pirates, Captain America, Thor, and most other films this summer. But first, this fall sees two master filmmakers attempting 3-D for the first time: Martin Scorsese is delivering his children’s film Hugo, while Steven Spielberg is following in the footsteps of his former protege Robert Zemeckis with the motion-capture cartoon The Adventures of Tintin.
Can the two directors salvage 3-D in the wake of the extra dimension’s disappointing 2011? More to the point, can they do something genuinely different with the form? The other upcoming 3-D films have a depressing sameness about them: More animated films (Happy Feet Two, Puss in Boots, Arthur Christmas) and the Clash of the Titans-esque Immortals. In fact, the only other distinctive-looking 3-D film.. .is A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, which (based on the trailer, at least) looks like a movie-length deconstruction of the whole stupidity of the 3-D craze.
I recently saw the original 3-D print of Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder, and it’s actually remarkable to see what the great filmmaker did with the format; it’s the rare movie that uses the added dimension for something more than “arrow in your face!”-style thrills. (Same goes for Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams, probably the quietest 3-D film ever made.) If Scorsese and Spielberg can wring something new out of the format, we might still be looking at the dawn of an extra-dimensional revolution in cinema. If not, then prepare yourself for a difficult 2012.


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

"Raiders of the Lost Ark" (Lucasfilm)
To mark the 30th anniversary of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Hero Complex is hosting a free screening of the Indiana Jones classic – and a live onstage interview with Hollywood titan Steven Spielberg.
The event with the three-time Oscar winner is Sept. 12 at the Regal Cinemas L.A. Live Stadium 14 in downtown Los Angeles. The screening of the newly restored and digitally projected film begins at 7 p.m., and the interview, moderated by Hero Complex lead writer Geoff Boucher, will follow the movie.
The tickets are free and are now available through our sign-up website. To be eligible for ticket giveaways that will lead up to the screening — and to find out about other upcoming Hero Complex events – follow us on Twitter: @LATherocomplex.
Steven Spielberg (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)
The 64-year-old Spielberg is approaching a new chapter of his career with two December releases, “War Horse” and “The Adventures of Tintin,” that mark his return to the director’s chair after three years spent in the roles of producer, executive producer and DreamWorks studio executive. He is also ramping up to direct “Lincoln,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis, and “Robopocalypse,” based on the Daniel H. Wilson novel.
For many fans, no Spielberg film has aged better than “Raiders,” which finished 1981 as the highest-grossing movie of the year and went on to be nominated for the Academy Award for best picture. It gave the world Harrison Ford in his signature career role as an adventure-loving archaeologist named Henry Jones Jr. but better known as “Indy.”  George Lucas, who Spielberg still refers to as “my best friend,” created the fedora-wearing hero, and the three sequels that would follow would unite the two filmmakers across three different decades.
The future of the franchise will be one of the top topics during the Sept. 12 interview.
The set of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (Lucasfilm)
In a May interview with Boucher, Spielberg said he looks back on “Raiders” with deep affection.
“It’s really startling,” Spielberg said. “Number one, it seems like it was only five years ago, it does not seem like 30 years ago. And the other great thing is I’m still close to everybody that made the movie. We’ve all watched each other grow up and olderolder [not old] – and I love how that ‘Raiders’ family has stayed together for 30 years. We’re all still the closest of friends. ‘Raiders’ was the first movie where I actually shot the movie without thinking. I like to say that the line in ‘Raiders’ that most typifies the production of that movie was when Harrison says, ‘I’m making this up as I go along.’”


Talk about serendipity. Wicket the Ewok sits in a black taxi as it pulls up outside the Trafalgar Hotel. Standing on the pavement, waiting to get into the cab, is none other than Luke Skywalker's (well, Mark Hamill's) wife. It's the kind of chance encounter that were any Star Wars geeks to witness it, they'd probably implode like a Death Star in excitement.

"I'm always getting these Sliding Doors-style moments," says the cab's besuited occupant - all three foot six inches of him. Warwick Davis, Britain's most celebrated short actor, has experienced many such pinch-me happenings in his career, whether it's hugging Harrison Ford's leg as Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi or playing the lead over Val Kilmer in Hollywood blockbusters.
"Pound for pound, Warwick Davis is one of the funniest men I know," says Ricky Gervais. Just as well, given the Harry Potter, Willow and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy star is to be the centrepiece of the comedian's new seven-episode series on BBC2 this October. (Davis is also one of the richest, with one website putting him at number seven in the "all-time 100 stars at the box office", one place above Tom Cruise.)
Life's Too Short is the third in the Gervais/Stephen Merchant trilogy of TV sitcoms (after The Office and Extras). Gervais calls the comedy "a cross between Extras and Curb Your Enthusiasm and One Foot in the Grave, but with a dwarf". Davis plays an egotistical version of himself (or as Gervais says, "a conniving, back-biting little Napoleon") who runs a small persons' talent agency, as he does in real life. Gervais and his writing partner Merchant appear as themselves, along with a glittery salvo of A-list names from Gervais's Hollywood contacts book: Johnny Depp, Sting, Steve Carell and Cat Deeley.
With Merchant gushing that Davis is a "real comic star-in-waiting", it's no wonder the actor feels slightly daunted. "The pressure gets worse every time they [Gervais/Merchant] say something like that," chuckles the 41-year-old. "But they're such clever writers - Stephen's very good at getting himself into a little person's headspace, which is difficult for him, being so tall."
Davis first met the pair in 2006 for an episode of Extras: "Ricky pitched the comedy by saying, 'it finishes with me twatting you in the face'." The episode featured Gervais kicking Davis. "I was in agony," he recalls. "I had to throw myself on the floor 20 times because Ricky wanted to try different lines."
But with Gervais's trademark political incorrectness, isn't Davis worried some jokes may be too much, disability-wise? After all, Gervais recently admitted to Absolute Radio that he got Davis to deliberately fall over in scenes as a practical joke on the crew. "They gasp because we've not told them and they think he's really hurt. It's great," says the comic.
"They do have respect for it," emphasises Davis. "Our relationship is creatively strong enough that if I feel uncomfortable with something, they'd listen because I know this world better than them.Plus, if you look at the way they've handled disability, the joke is never at the expense of the person with the disability. Think how David Brent handles the girl in the wheelchair in The Office - she's never the one who looks stupid, it's him. Of all the writers in the world, they're the ones I worry about least."
Davis was born with spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita (SED) - a rare genetic condition that affects bone growth. "Day-to-day, it's a struggle sometimes to get moving," he says. "Walking is my favourite thing - I would love to set off up a Lake District fell - but I know I'll suffer. For me, a five-minute walk to Leicester Square is a long way."
The condition has also been passed on to Davis's two children, 14-year-old Annabel and eight-year-old Harrison.
"My wife is short as well, so having children was like playing a genetic lottery," Davis points out. "The chance of us having a normal child was one in four, and the chance of a child developing SED was also one in four. We'd previously had two children who inherited a fatal condition who both died [a boy survived just nine days in 1991 while another son arrived stillborn two years later]. So to get Annabel was like, 'Yes!' We feel very lucky to have those two..."

Read more over at

The R2 unit will be available through Japanese import sites next month. Image courtesy of Lucasfilm Limited.
You won’t find Princess Leia begging for help when you turn on Sega Toys’ new Star Wars-themed projector. You’ll have to settle instead for a brilliant rendition of our galaxy instead.
The R2-D2 Homestar Planetarium is the latest in Sega Toys’ line of astral projectors. But unlike other models, it’s the only model that identifies a fully operational Death Star. Condolences to members of the Rebel Alliance: Alderaan is no where to be found.
The unit stands at 8 inches tall, and the LED projector runs for up to three hours on four AAA batteries. The planetarium will be available for 6825 yen ($91) when it hits stores in Japan next month. Stateside astronomers and Star Wars geeks will be able to procure the projector from import sites like Japan Trend Shop, which is taking pre-orders. Pairs well with the Blu-Ray edition of the movies, also out in September.


Monday, 29 August 2011

This pooch was caught bearing an uncanny resemblance to Star Wars favourite Chewbacca as it sat in the front seat of what could be a Ford Galaxy far, far away.
Here's looking at Chew: Star Wars favourite, wookiee Chewbacca
Here's looking at Chew: This pooch is a dead ringer for Star Wars favourite, wookiee Chewbacca

This picture was taken as the dog sat in front of the car's heater, the hot air sculpting the pooch's hair into the unmistakable style of the fictional wookie in the Star Wars films.

Beloved children’s author Michael Morpurgo is turning into a one-man Hollywood hit factory.
With Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Morpurgo’s War Horse due out here in January, another of his titles is galloping onto the big screen.
Up-and-coming actors Jack O’Connell and George MacKay will play the leads in the film version of Morpurgo’s 1982 novel Private Peaceful about two farm-labouring brothers, Charlie and Tommo Peaceful, who leave Devon to enlist to fight in World War I. One of them is court martialled for cowardice.
‘It highlights the iniquity of us shooting our own men during the war,’ said Guy de Beaujeu, who is producing the film with Simon Reade, the writer of the film’s screenplay.
 George Mackay
 Jack O'Connell
Star pair: Up-and-coming actors Jack O’Connell and George MacKay will play the leads in the film version of Morpurgo’s 1982 novel Private Peaceful
In fact, Private Peaceful has already played an important role in prompting discussions in Parliament about granting group pardons for the 306 British soldiers executed for offences such as cowardice and desertion during the Great War.
De Beaujeu observed that, some years ago, a senior Ministry of Defence official saw a stage production of Private Peaceful and was so moved he ‘saw the light’.
He persuaded his superiors to debate the issue further in the House of Commons and the result was the issuing of posthumous pardons. Many of the dead have since had their names recognised on World War I memorials.
Rising star: Alexandra Roach, who played a young Margaret Thatcher, also stars
Rising star: Alexandra Roach, who played a young Margaret Thatcher, also stars
Director Pat O’Connor has assembled an admirable cast. Richard Griffiths and Frances de la Tour (working together on a non-Alan Bennett project for once) will play a bumbling colonel, who runs the local village, and a grocery store owner respectively.
Alexandra Roach, who stars as the young Margaret Thatcher in the much anticipated The Iron Lady, plays Molly, the young woman both Peaceful brothers fancy.
But it is O’Connell and MacKay who will carry most of the movie once it moves from Devon to the trenches.
O’Connell portrayed the young Bobby Charlton in the BBC TV drama United and started his career in This Is England.
He was meant to be filming thriller uwantme2killhim? But that has been delayed for financial reasons, meaning he was available to do Private Peaceful.
MacKay played Clive Owen’s elder son in The Boys Are Back and also has a role in the BBC-Working Title TV version of Birdsong, based on Sebastian Faulks’s novel. Producer De Beaujeu said the movie would film in and around Suffolk with a crack crew that includes the award-winning cameraman Jerzy Zielinski and designer Adrian Smith. Mark Knopfler will compose the score.
Hero Fiennes-Tiffin and Samuel Bottomley will play Charlie and Tommo as children.
Morpurgo fans will be interested to hear that Radio 4 will broadcast a version of Private Peaceful on Christmas Day; listen out for the author, who has a cameo voicing the vicar.
Meanwhile, the stage version of War Horse continues playing in London and on Broadway.
And Spielberg’s film is sure to be a major contender for Baftas and Oscars.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

 The latest developer walkthrough for Star Wars: The Old Republic focuses on the Eternity Vault. The Eternity Vault is a high-level Operation, or raid, for eight players.

"A prison discovered buried in the ice on Belsavis is thought to house an ancient and deadly evil that could threaten the galaxy. To counter this threat, General Threnoldt dispatches Imperial forces to investigate the prison and confront the dangers within," reads BioWare's description of the video.

After landing on Belsavis with escape pods, the party of Imperials regroups and battles a small army of droids. During the skirmish, we get to see the different roles that characters can perform in battle. Like other MMO's, SW:TOR has tanks (durable characters that draw enemy fire), healers (characters that keep everyone standing), and DPS (dedicated damage dealers). Success in this and other Operations depends on the ability of the team to work together - especially when that giant mech arrives.


IT’S been 14 years since Scott Mitchell Rosenberg first started what was to be the Cowboys and Aliens graphic novel, the title of which was so compelling that the movie rights were bought even before the book was finished.
But it’s taken this long for filmmakers to figure out the conundrum of how to bring these two classic genres together on film – a film which is launched in cinemas across the UK this week.
The huge task of adapting Cowboys and Aliens from book to big screen fell into the hands of Iron Man screenwriters Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, as well as writer Steve Oedekerk, known for his work on Bruce Almighty.
“We were brought onto Cowboys & Aliens just as the Iron Man shoot was wrapping up, and were offered a chance to create an entire story universe on a blank slate,” said Ostby. “There was an existing graphic novel, which we very much admire, but we chose instead to be inspired by the novel’s indelible cover art: a cowboy on horseback, racing away from a looming spaceship overhead.”
Despite the title sounding a little far-fetched, the writers, together with executive producer Stephen Spielberg, believed that the two different genres were meant for each other.
“It occurred to us as we started writing our first draft, ‘Why hasn’t anyone done this before? These two genres belong together.’
“We imagined the epic grandeur of John Ford’s The Searchers, infused with the magic of Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” said Fergus. “Every character in the piece touches on a classic Western archetype, but each also strives to be a rich, unique character in their own right.”
In 2008, Spielberg brought writers/producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci onto the project to get it ready for preproduction and along with Damon Lindelof, the men reworked the screenplay to create a shooting script that fulfilled Spielberg and Rosenberg’s ultimate vision for the project.
“What I respect about Alex and Bob is that they wanted to keep this concept authentic,” said Spielberg. “They’ve made it all real from the standpoint of the characters.
“Even if the aliens never came down in this film, there’s still a tremendous story of conflicted characters in a range war. It’s one that starts to bubble up to the surface in the very first act of Cowboys & Aliens.
“If it was just cowboys, it would be a pretty darn good cowboy story. If it was just aliens, it would be a pretty good alien story unto itself, but then when you combine the two… it’s wonderful.”
The men found the trick would be to strive for a balance between these distinct worlds of the lawless West and alien invaders.
As Orci says, however, it wasn’t long before they understood the rationale for the project’s lengthy gestation.
“Although we heard the title and said, ‘Let’s do it!,’ when we sat down to write, we realized it was going to be much harder than we initially thought," he said. "We knew that it had to feel organic and had to weave together naturally.”
The collision of genres gave the writers a rich palette of archetypal characters and situations with which to play.
They took the elements that fans of the Western are familiar with and reinterpreted them through the lens of an alien-invasion film.
It was during the Comic-Con convention in 2009 that Kurtzman and Orci bumped into director, producer, writer and actor Jon Favreau, who was brought on board to direct the film.
“I had heard about the project during the time that I was making Iron Man,” remembers Favreau. “I thought it sounded cool, so when Alex and Bob approached me, I read the script and signed on. It was a great script, a real page-turner.
“My idea was to embrace both genres and through the juxtaposition of the classic form of both the alien-invasion movie and the Western create something new and exciting.
“I believe that people are thirsting for something like this.”
It was then that the filmmakers went about casting their unique flick and while action star Daniel Craig may not be the first person one considers when the words ‘American cowboy’ come to mind, Favreau, who transformed Robert Downey Jr. into a superhero in Iron Man, has a knack for inspired casting.
“He was the first cast member we brought on,” explains the director. “I realized in talking with him and looking at him that he has this gruff, handsome, Steve McQueen-type quality.”
A longtime fan of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, as well as Alien and Blade Runner, Craig didn’t feel as if it would be a big leap to bring these genres together and prepared for the part by watching as many Westerns as he could.
“I watched a lot of John Wayne Westerns, but my favourite ones are the ones from the ’70s—movies like Little Big Man and those so-called dirty Westerns where there’s a little more reality,” he said.
Harrison Ford’s character, Woodrow Dolarhyde, was one of the last to be cast and although Spielberg and Ford have a long working relationship, it wasn’t a given that the man who is inextricably linked with Indiana Jones and Han Solo would come aboard the project.
And while Ford was initially intrigued by the project, he was also skeptical – that was until Favreau talked him round.
“What’s interesting is that these people back in 1875 in the Old West didn’t have our experience of space travel and planetary understanding when the invasion happens,” Ford explained.
“They have no context in which to understand what was occurring.
“The only possible context is the one that was given to them by the preacher in town.
“The aliens were possibly demons and remained demons throughout the telling of the story.”
Cowboys and Aliens is in cinemas now, certificate 12A.


Saturday, 27 August 2011

Here are some rare Star Wars photos you may not have seen. Incidentally did anyone spot the George Lucas look-a-like in Super 8? He was in the crowd and looked very much like the classic Lucas just like the one below. It was the scene when they were having a police conference. If I find a photo I will post here for you.

Its the weekend so what better way to celebrate the days off but with some more classic photos of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher.)  Okay its a poor excuse but hey she was my first crush.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away … a host of rebels, bounty hunters and Imperial guards were overshadowed by the more glamorous antics of Luke and Leia. That's the cheeky premise of Elliott Quince's new book, which fleshes out the lives of lesser-known Star Wars characters in modelling clay

• Plasticine Tatooine: Stories from the Star Wars Second String is available from

 Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. In “Brave,” a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasts. Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late. Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and produced by Katherine Sarafian, “Brave” is a grand adventure full of heart, memorable characters and the signature Pixar humor enjoyed by audiences of all ages. The film takes aim at theaters on June 22, 2012, and will be presented in Disney Digital 3D™ in select theaters.
Red Bull invited Tom Cruise (Minority Report, War Of The Worlds) to take a break from production of his new movie, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, to pilot the Red Bull Racing F1 car through Southern California's 2.5-mile (4km) Willow Springs circuit.
He reached a top speed of 181 mph (291 km/h) - just 4 mph off the top speed of his instructor and 13-time Grand Prix winner, David Coulthard.

Before we get to the Rancor part of the game, however, there is one other thing worth addressing that fans of Star Wars will want to take notice of -- pod racing.  Yes, one of the most thrilling aspects of the original Phantom Menace film -- and not to mention coordinating Sega arcade and Nintendo 64 home releases -- will be included in Kinect Star Wars, and will let players sway about as they try to win circuits on Tattooine, as well as everywhere else that the game takes them.  This will no doubt be a welcome change of pace from the somewhat average action segments -- the ones that kind of turned us off from Kinect Star Wars to begin with.
But you came into this article for one primary reason -- a Rancor.  That creature that tried to crush Luke Skywalker in Jabba's pit in Return of the Jedi makes a welcome return to gaming with his debut as a playable character in Kinect Star Wars -- and this return couldn't be more well timed.
In this segment of the game, players control the Rancor as he stomps and romps throughout a stage, skooshing enemies flat and occasionally chowing down on a Jawa to maintain his strength.  We don't know what it is, but this segment alone has some sort of emotional attachment to it.  We actually start to feel as if we need to play the game again, for another reason outside of the pod racing.
Congrats, you've been relocated!
No word yet on how long these segments last, or even if there's more than just one, but if LucasArts and Microsoft were wise, they would add multiple stages for both of these segments as mini-games and/or challenges, letting players come back and go crazy in their favorite pod racer, or as a Rancor on the loose.  Smashing Tattooine to smithereens sounds so good right now.  It's like Rampage but even more well conceptualized.
What's next, Han Solo laser blast stages?  No idea...but we'll keep a close eye on Kinect Star Wars in the months ahead.  And it'll give us another excuse to get one of those awesome custom Star Wars system bundles.  (We needed a new Kinect anyway, but whatever.  GIMME!)


Friday, 26 August 2011

On The Dennis Miller Show Dan Akroyd has hinted that Ghostbusters 3 may go ahead with or without Bill Murray.:

"Yes, we will be doing the movie and hopefully with Mr. Murray. That is our hope. We have an excellent script. What we have to remember is that 'Ghostbusters' is bigger than any one component, although Billy was absolutely the lead and contributive to it in a massive way, as was the director and Harold [Ramis], myself and Sigourney [Weaver]. The concept is much larger than any individual role and the promise of 'Ghostbusters 3' is that we get to hand the equipment and the franchise down to new blood."

Akroyd's take on the long-rumored sequel is familiar to dedicated fans, as it's the "Next Generation" take on the franchise we've heard bandied about for many years. Akroyd gave an update about what's going on with the old gang

"My character, Ray, is now blind in one eye and can't drive the cadillac. He's got a bad knee and can't carry the packs... Egon is too large to get into the harness. We need young blood and that's the promise. We're gonna hand it to a new generation."
Christopher Lloyd has reprised his role as Doc Brown for a Back to the Future-inspired Argentinean commercial. The video, which appears to be an advert for electronics store Garbarino, shows a young man and woman in the street at night who film footage of the iconic Back to the Future DeLorean. As the car comes to a standstill in front of a Garbarino store, Doc Brown emerges and says: "Great Scott! What year is this? 2011!" Watch the Back to the Future ad, discovered by Slash Film, below:
Jurassic Park

Universal Pictures has announced that the original film from Steven Spielberg's classic trilogy will come out in UK theatres again from Monday, September 23. Though the film has been digitally remastered, the special effects have not been changed. Jurassic Park's cinematic return coincides with the franchise's release on blu-ray, with all three movies available on the platform from October 24. The Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy boxset will feature six-part documentary Return to Jurassic Park, which has interviews with the cast as well as Spielberg. Spielberg recently revealed that a fourth Jurassic Park film will arrive "in two or three years".
Harrison Ford promoting his new movie 'Extraordinary Measures', Berlin
Harrison Ford has admitted that he does not know if George Lucas will come up with an idea for a fifth Indiana Jones film which both he and Steven Spielberg will like.

Talking to Tania Snuggs on Absolute Radio, the actor again insisted that he would love to reprise the character but suggested that a follow-up to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was not yet certain.

"Well I don't know if George [Lucas] is able to come up with an idea that both Steven [Spielberg] and I think is going to work but I'd love to play the character again," Ford said.

Ford had previously said that he would be "as happy as pie" to return to the role if they develop the character and find the right story.

Earlier this year, Shia LaBeouf revealed that Ford was "staying in the gym" to keep in shape for the role.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

After several years since rumbling first arose suggesting LucasFilm and ILM were going to replace the hideous and creepy Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Yoda puppet with a CGI version, the first evidence of their work has made its way online just ahead of the Jedi Master's debut on the upcoming Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-ray set. One of the many complaints Star Wars raised about Episode I was the inclusion of a Yoda puppet that was less convincing than the one used to Episode V nearly 20 years prior. He looked like a reject off the set of The Muppets and was upstaged, in aesthetics, by the all-CGI Jar Jar Binks.
LucasFilm dropped hints several years ago that it was their intent to eventually replace Yoda in Episode I with a new CGI version. The only logical places for the new Yoda to pay a visit was either the Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-ray set coming out September 16, or the theatrical release of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in 3D in February 2012. Now it looks like CGI Yoda will be making an appearance in both.
As confirmed last week during my trip to LucasFilm to preview Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray, below you'll see a video of the new Yoda in all his CGI glory. Just below is an additional video of the original Yoda puppet who joins Han Shoots First in George Lucas' trash bin of no longer wanted scenes side-by-side with the new Yoda. My vote is for new Yoda.


Telltale Games has announced that Back to the Future: The Game will be coming to the Wii later this year.
Telltale Games has released a number of episodic titles through the WiiWare service, such as Tales of Monkey Island, Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space and Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, but their recent tiles have typically been released on other platforms. Nintendo fans can rejoice however as Back to the Future: The Game is coming to the Nintendo Wii.
In a press statement issues today Telltale Games announced that a deal has been signed with Nintendo to release titles on the console. The first confirmed title will be Back to the Future: The Game, due out in October in North America for only $19.99.
At the moment it is unknown if more of their titles will be released on the Nintendo Wii but the press release does refer to Back to the Future: The Game as the first title in the deal to be released so we assume more are coming. The press release only mentions North America but we'll keep you updated about whether or not it will be released in Europe as well. Telltale co-founder and CEO, Dan Connors said this about the announcement:
“Securing a publishing agreement with Nintendo of America ensures that we can make our popular content available on every major console platform. This signing is a significant milestone in our long-term growth strategy. Back to the Future: The Game is a great fit for the Wii platform and we’re excited to bring it to retail this holiday.”
Kinect Star Wars delayed until 2012

"Microsoft and LucasArts have elected to move the launch of Kinect Star Wars beyond holiday 2011 to ensure the full potential of this title is realised," said a Microsoft spokesperson.

The spokesperson confirmed that the delay was for both the stand-alone game and the Kinect Star Wars Limited Edition Console.
Microsoft and LucasArts unveiled the Star Wars Xbox 360 console inspired by R2-D2 and C-3PO back in July. This first ever custom Xbox 360 and Kinect bundle will include an R2-D2 blue-and-white themed console, a custom Xbox 360 Wireless Controller inspired by C-3PO and a matching white Kinect sensor.

Thebeardedtrio is rather sad by this but if it means ultimately a better game then its got to be worth the wait.  Glad they are not rushing this one.

Carrie Fisher has shown off her slimline new look on US television this morning.
The Star Wars actress has shed 50lbs in nine months since becoming the face of diet company, Jenny Craig, she said.
But some couldn't help but notice that her face, as well as her body, seems to have undergone a transformation of sorts.
Her appearance on America's Today show sparked buzz on Twitter this morning, with one viewer noting: 'What on earth did she do to her face?'
Feeling fabulous at 54: Carrie Fisher unveiled her slimline new look on America's Today Show this morning
Feeling fabulous at 54: Carrie Fisher unveiled her slimline new look on America's Today Show this morning
Another added: 'Is anyone else watching the @todayshow? It looks like Carrie Fisher had mad plastic surgery on her face.'
While she kept quite about her rejuvenated features, she was certainly forthcoming about her decision to lose weight.

The star, who is now a size 8, told the Today Show: 'I couldn't look in the mirror. I saw pictures of myself where I didn't look like myself.
'I thought I was getting old. It turns out [I] was mostly getting fat.'
With her new Size 8 figure, the 54-year-old is feeling more confident than ever, and is even ready to find love again.
Looking for love: The actress says she is now ready to start dating again
Looking for love: The actress says she is now ready to start dating again
Rejuvenated: Carrie's face looked rather wrinkle free as she left the Today Show studio and right, in 2009
Rejuvenated: Carrie's face looked rather wrinkle free as she left the Today Show studio and right, in 2009
Rejuvenated: A pouty Carrie looked rather wrinkle-free as she left the Today Show studio and right, in 2009
'I'm putting myself on the market,' she says in a separate interview in the latest issue of America's People magazine.
Bikini girl: The Star Wars actress as Princess Leia
Bikini girl: The Star Wars actress as Princess Leia
'I'm ready to date again; this is my announcement.'
Her previously flames include her Blues Brothers co-star Dan Aykroyd, singer-songwriter Paul Simon and casting agent Bryan Lourd, with whom she has a 19-year-old daughter, Billie.
Carrie  also joked that she wanted to get back in shape so she could don the metal bikini she wore as Princess Leia in the 1977 classic sci-fi hit.
'I want to get back in it and walk around the house like an idiot.
'You know, answer the doorbell, [and say], "What, this old thing? I'm just wearing my home style metal bikini."
'I'll come out with a line of metal bikinis for women over 40.'
At one point the actress topped the scales at 180 lbs, she has said in the past.
In order to transform her body, she reduced her intake to 1,500 per day.
Her favourite snacks include Skinny Cow Cookies 'n Cream ice cream and Kozy Shack rice pudding.
She also embarked on a fitness regime, doing 40-45 minutes of cardio five times a week.
'I'm not in love with the treadmill,' she admits. 'We're in a truce situation. But I really like elliptical because I can read.'
Look at me now! Carrie is now a slender Size 8
Look at me now! Carrie is now a slender Size 8
Look at me now! Carrie is now a slender Size 8

Read more:
Walt Disney famously said, "I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse." For the Pixar artists, it was all started by a lamp.

Twenty-five years ago (Aug. 17, 1986), "Luxo, Jr.," a short depicting the misadventures of a rambunctious little desk lamp and his weary father, premiered in Dallas and did something no computer-animated film had done before: It made audiences laugh. The first film from Steve Jobs' newly formed company Pixar and the second from director John Lasseter, "Luxo" launched the most successful and innovative animation studio since Walt Disney's heyday in the 1930s.

Without "Luxo," there would be no Woody and Buzz, no Sully and Mike, no Remy, no Wall-E, no Lightning McQueen and no Incredible family. The lamp is still the corporate symbol.

"Up until that point, people looked at computer animation as a technical demonstration," said Ed Catmull, president of Walt Disney Animation Studios/Pixar Animation Studios. "There were a few things done for television commercials, but 'Luxo' moved out of the realm of a tour-de-force of technology — even though it was — to people recognizing it was a short film in its own right and enjoying it as such."

"Luxo, Jr." began as an exercise in modeling while Lasseter was working at the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm (where he directed his first short, "The Adventures of Andre and Wally B" in 1984).

Now chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios (and the director of "Toy Story," "Toy Story 2," "Cars" and "Cars 2"), Lasseter recalled in a recent telephone interview: "I had a big drawing table in my office with a Luxo lamp on it, so I just took that lamp in front of me as a subject. I love bringing inanimate objects to life, and thought it would be a fun object to move around."

Lasseter showed some test footage in Brussels of the lamp hitting a ball with its shade. Raoul Servais, the noted Belgian animator, was impressed and asked about the story. When Lasseter said the work was "just a character study," Servais told him that no matter how short a film was, it should have a story, with a beginning, a middle and an end.

When Lasseter returned home, he began thinking about a story for his lamp character. Inspiration struck when co-worker Tom Porter brought in his infant son.

"Spencer was just a few months old and incredibly cute," Lasseter says. "I looked at how he was scaled in comparison to adults, then I looked at the lamp I was modeling, and I thought, 'What would a baby lamp look like?'"

In February of 1986, Jobs bought the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm, and formed Pixar. Catmull, who was president of the new company, wanted to present a film from the company at the annual SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics) convention, the showcase at the time. Lasseter envisioned a film with elaborate camera movements and realistic backgrounds.

But Pixar was primarily a hardware company, selling the Pixar Image Computer; Lasseter and his crew would have to use the company machines at night. They didn't have the computer power or the budget to create camera moves or backgrounds, beyond a floor for the characters to sit on. In hindsight, Lasseter attributes much of the success of "Luxo, Jr." to that enforced simplicity: "The lack of camera moves and the lack of a complicated background made everybody focus on the characters."

Lasseter animated the film on the equivalent of a night shift. Pixar technical department manager Deirdre Warren recalls, "John would leave a sticky note on my desk: 'DW, come and wake me up when you get in.' He'd be under his desk asleep on a sleeping bag or something. He was there for weeks."

A graduate of the CalArts character animation program and a former Disney animator, Lasseter applied the techniques of hand-drawn animation to the new medium, techniques he'd learned from three of the studio's Nine Old Men — Walt Disney's nickname for his key cadre of animators.

"With computer animation, we could make things look like they were certain objects, but it's the movement that truly makes you believe what it is," he explains. "And the movement comes not from the computer, but from the principles of animation I learned from Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston and Eric Larson."

At the premiere of "Luxo," computer graphics pioneer Jim Blinn came up to Lasseter with a question. Expecting something highly technical, Lasseter was surprised to hear him ask, "Was the parent lamp the mother or the father?"

"I knew by Jim's question that we had entertained audiences because of the story and the characters, not because it was made by a computer," Lasseter says.

"The answer was it's actually a father, but it's based on my mother," he continues. "When we got into a kind of iffy situation, instead of grabbing at us, she would say, 'You got yourself up there, you get yourself down.' I figured that was what the father lamp did: The little lamp hopped on the ball, and the father is thinking, 'You're going to break your light bulb!' But he lets him pop the ball: 'That's what you what get for jumping on your ball!'"

The success of "Luxo, Jr." was followed by a series of shorts ("Red's Dream," "Tin Toy," "Knick Knack") in which the Pixar artists explored and developed their medium, much as Disney had used the "Silly Symphonies" as stepping stones to "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

"We were a hardware company; we didn't actually have any business doing animation, because there was no money in it," Catmull says. "We were struggling as a company, but Steve knew that in our hearts, we wanted to do animation, and if there's one thing Steve understands, it's passion."

Jobs has said, "Pixar was a money pit for me. I kept putting money into it, and the only bright spot was John's short films. He'd say, 'Can I have $300,000 to make a short film?' And I'd say, 'OK, go make it.' That was the only thing that was fun."

The success of the shorts led the Pixar crew to believe that its goal of making the first computer-animated feature was attainable. Supervising technical director Bill Reeves recalls, "When you went to a screening of 'Luxo,' you could feel a buzz that just wasn't there for the other stuff. That's when my leap of faith came. Through those short films, 'Luxo' being the most inspiring, we got our confidence up: 'We should try this and see where it goes.' Nine years later, we released 'Toy Story.'"

Since then, the 12 Pixar features have earned more than $6.5 billion worldwide and have won 10 Oscars. And it was all started by a lamp.


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

A series by London-based illustrator and designer Aled Lewis features famous paintings mashed up with 80s adventure games for the iam8bit art show.

The pieces include a mix between: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure (1989) and Salvador Dali's 'The Persistence of Memory'; The Secret of Monkey Island (1990) and Vincent Van Gogh's 'Cafe Terrace On The Place Du Forum 1888'; Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel (1987) and Leonardo da Vinci's 'The Last Supper'; and Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love (in Several Wrong Places) (1988) and Edward Hopper's 'Nighthawks'.


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