Monday, 31 October 2011

In the early hours of Sunday morning, a 42-year-old male driver, resplendent in his Yoda costume, had a minor collision with a pedestrian and sped off in his car, only to be collared by a police vehicle two minutes later.
The pedestrian was left with only light injuries following the accident, but the Jedi master look-alike found himself on the wrong side of the law and, despite his green mask, was left decidedly red faced.
"The officers were especially surprised to see ... Grand Master Yoda at the wheel," said the statement from police in the city of Darmstadt, near Frankfurt in western Germany.
It appears Yoda had enjoyed his evening too much to be driving and authorities took him to the station, confiscated his licence and took a blood sample. "The hapless Jedi returned home on foot," said police.
"In this case, the force was not with him."
SWTOR will feature three PvP "Warzones", each with its own unique objectives and gameplay. The first warzone is called "Voidstar", and sees players fight for the control of a spaceship. The second warzone, "Alderaan", involves an all-out war on the famous planet, while the third warzone is known as "Huttball".

"In Huttball, two teams meet inside the deadly confines of 'The Pit,' an arena unlike any other in the galaxy! The teams battle for control of a ball which appears in the center of the arena. Whichever team has the ball must run with it, pass it, or use whatever means necessary to get it across the opposing team's goal line, while simultaneously battling the enemy team and avoiding the many fire, acid and anti-gravity traps that litter the playing field. At the end of the match, the team with the most points wins."

The Bafta-winning actor voices Tintin in the big-screen adaptation of Hergé's classic comic books, with Spielberg taking the reins alongside Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson.

Bell admits he was 'terrified' to work with the man he has long admired, telling 'I loved him as a child. This guy's a magician, he's almost otherworldly…'

'Steven speaks to the child in all of us. He's very nostalgic as a filmmaker,' he added.

'Nostalgia is a very special place if you can tap into it and I think he's done that on a worldly conscious level so well – that's why he feels like a magician.'

The Academy Award-winning director originally obtained the rights to adapt Tintin for the big-screen in 1983 but the film stalled, with Spielberg picking up the idea again in 1983.
Jamie Bell  
Jamie Bell was 'terrified' at the prospect of working with Steven Spielberg (Picture: AP)
The film was originally intended to be a live-action movie, something Bell feels would have been 'weird.'

He strongly backs the motion capture element of the film, describing it as a 'great blend' of performance capture and animation.

Bell also feels there should be more recognition of the actor's role in motion-capture, explaining: 'This process is just another way of recording an actor's performance and that's actually very liberating once you realise that.

'I think more of Hollywood needs to understand because I think it needs to be a medium that is more accepted.'

He also stressed the physical nature of the role, adding: 'This is actually acting, this isn't just a voice.

'I didn't throw a rib out and put some vertebrate out of place just doing a voice – we're literally living these scenes we're running around we're throwing each other around.'

But how does Tintin compare to other films using motion capture?

'Better. Way better,' he says.

'In terms of the technology – way better. I love technology so this movie for me is great because I get to be on the edge of the technology in my profession and that's exactly where I want to be.

'That's really exciting for me… this is not Polar Express. Not disregarding those movies – you have to have those films to get to the place… it's a progression. Tom Hanks' performance is still a great performance but in terms of the look of it.'

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Ghent-based Awards concert was dedicated to the late Ronni Chasen.
Alexandre Desplat has been named film composer of the year for 2011 by the World Soundtrack Academy.
Desplat, who also won the prize last year, has had a busy year working on the following films: A Better Life, The Burma Conspiracy, The King’s Speech, The Tree of Life, The Well Digger’s Daughter, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2.
The World Soundtrack Awards were held this weekend as the closing event of the 38th Ghent International Film Festival.
The other winners included Best Original Film Score of the Year for Hans Zimmer’s Inception.
Randy Newman received the World Soundtrack Award for Best Original Song Written for Film with We Belong Together from the film Toy Story 3. Alex Heffes received the Discovery of the Year Award for The First Grader and The Rite. The Public Choice Award went to A.R. Rahman for 127 Hours. The Sabam Award for Best Young European Composer went to Gabriel Heinrich.
Giorgio Moroder received the World Soundtrack Lifetime Achievement Award.
The concert was dedicated to the late Ronni Chasen, who had for many years represented the festival and awards and many of its composers. The concert featured music by her clients such as Elliot Goldenthal, Howard Shore, Hans Zimmer.
Amazon is offering a special $5 coupon to be used towards Super 8 pre-orders. This promotional discount applies to the two-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack of director J.J. Abrams' nostalgic sci-fi/adventure.

Consumers who wish to take advantage of this offer need to add the Super 8 Blu-ray to their Amazon shopping cart and start the checkout process. When "WOODWARD" is entered in the "Gift Cards & Promotional Codes" box that appears during the "Shipping and Payment" stage, $5 will be deducted from the order total.

Currently, Amazon has set the Blu-ray's cost at $24.99, which the coupon drops to $19.99. Should Amazon reduce the price between now and whenever Super 8 officially streets, the $5 discount will also apply to the lower price, provided customers lock in the coupon while Amazon is still offering it.

The promotion is available until November 27th. Super 8 streets on November 22nd.

Let's sort the terminology first. Cumbersome expressions such as "people of restricted height" or "vertically challenged" will henceforth only make it into my copy if specifically requested by Warwick Davis, the dwarf actor who has been a mainstay of two of the great movie franchises of modern time, the Star Wars and Harry Potter series. Did I just write 'dwarf'? Is that allowed?
"Some people don't think it's right to say the word 'dwarf', and the word 'midget' is held by some to be quite offensive, but I don't feel that," says Davis, springing up into a chair the same size as the one I have just plumped down on in the bar of the beautifully refurbished St Pancras hotel in London.
"I'm not part of that PC brigade... I think so many people are afraid to talk to me in case they say the wrong thing. I'd much rather people talk to me and if they say the wrong thing, at least we've had the conversation."
Still, it has its funny side, all this determination not to give offence, not to say the wrong thing. "When people talk to me they will accidentally say things relating to size more than they normally would," says Davis. "So the word 'short' and 'small' comes up in the conversation and I'm thinking, 'That word doesn't really fit there' ... You can see their faces and they're sweating."
It's precisely this minefield of anxiety and embarrassment that Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant find so fruitful. In The Office it was Brenda, the employee in the wheelchair, who was blithely abused by the wrong-headed David Brent, and now it seems it's the turn of dwarves, midgets or whatever. Gervais and Merchant's new BBC sitcom, Life's Too Short, 'documents' the fictionalised life of Davis, whom Gervais has described as "pound for pound ... one of the funniest men I know".
In short (I've got to stop this), Davis plays a comic version of himself, a former Ewok in Star Wars who had a movie, Willow, written specially for him by George Lucas, chased a then-unknown Jennifer Aniston around in Leprechaun (hilarious – check out the trailer online) and had a role in each and every Harry Potter movie. And like the real Davis, 'Davis' runs his own agency for actors under five feet tall (Davis's is called Willow Management, after the Lucas film). Wasn't he worried about placing such a close facsimile of his life in the hands of two famously mischievous comedians?
"I was the least worried out of everyone because of the way that they handled Julie Fernandez's character in The Office... the lady in the wheelchair," he says. "The laughs are at David Brent, not at Julia." But did he ever think Gervais and Merchant had gone too far with their scripts for Life's Too Short? "No. They both know where the boundaries are and what's good taste and bad taste."
Some of the A-listers sitting through Gervais's hosting of the Golden Globe awards earlier this year might dispute that last statement, but then Davis is made of sterner stuff than most self-regarding Hollywood types. Water off a duck's back might not exactly fit the bill, but he's obviously level-headed and realistic. Born 41 years ago with a rare form of dwarfism, spondyleopiphyseal dysplasia congenital, to average-sized parents and one average-sized sister (it's all right to say 'average-sized', says Davis, it's 'normal-sized' he finds odd), his upbringing couldn't have been more, well, 'normal'.
His father was an insurance broker and they lived in the leafy suburbia of Epsom, where outer London finally surrenders to Surrey, and he went to regular school.
"My parents were great," he says. "There was no special treatment at home, I was expected to do as much as anyone else. If I needed something off the shelf then I had to get that thing off the shelf, which was great because it prepared me for the world, because the world isn't there to help you."
It was the 11-year-old Davis's grandmother who, listening to the radio one day in 1981, heard that the makers of the Star Wars franchise were looking for short actors to play Ewoks in the upcoming third instalment, Return of the Jedi. "It's like these Sliding Doors moments," he says. "It's amazing isn't it, if she wasn't in the room at that moment... all of it's different... all of it's different." How different? "My dad's an insurance broker and I would probably have followed in his footsteps – his dad was before him, so..."
Not that young Davis had an eye on a film career – in fact, he was happy to be living what would have been a fantasy for any child of the Star Wars era. "It wasn't so much being in the film as being able to say 'hello' to Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo and Princess Leia and spend time with them. And fight a stormtrooper. It was back to school after that."
And then about a year later he was approached to play an Ewok in a TV spin-off series. "But, you know, there's never been a moment when I've thought, 'What I want to be is an actor' – I find myself here today and it's what I do. The career discovered me rather than me going after it."
Davis owed a lot at this stage to George Lucas, the Star Wars creator even going so far as to write a film, Willow, specifically with the actor in mind – Davis's first role with his face not covered by an Ewok mask. His co-star was Val Kilmer, and Davis ended up sitting next to Princess Diana at the film's Royal Premiere.
"However, I still had to audition," he says. "George had written it for me, but George had trusted Ron [Howard] to direct and his prerogative was to find the best man for the job – and he auditioned many other dwarves all over the world. I think I auditioned about three or four times and then proved I was indeed the right man."
Does he have a challenger as the go-to guy for leading movie dwarf? What about Verne Troyer, Mini-Me in the Austin Powers series – do they have a rivalry, friendly or otherwise? "Verne is a friend of mine, but I don't know whether acting is his first love, whereas it is mine," says Davis. "He enjoys the celebrity and, you know, being Verne Troyer basically.
"Within a smaller marketplace, as it were, with less roles for short actors, then I suppose we are competitors. Then there's Peter Dinklage, who was in Game of Thrones; I worked with him on Narnia, he's an excellent actor." In fact, Davis must know more or less every short actor in the business, having started Willow Management in 1995, now the largest talent agency in the world for actors less than five feet tall. They also have a dozen seven-foot-plus actors on their books ("otherwise they have nowhere else to go").
His co-founder at Willow is Peter Burroughs, now his father-in-law. "He's a short actor as well," says Davis. "We were talking one day about how dissatisfied he was with his agent, and how tired he was of not being recognised for his talent as a performer, and just really being recognised for being four foot six." And then there was the money. "The agent at the time would always ask, 'How many do you need?' 'Oh, that will be 300 quid for eight...' Like fruit, or a commodity."
That would be the Seven Dwarves and an understudy, then. Actually, it was while appearing in pantomime (Snow White, naturally) in Cambridge that Davis first got together with his future wife, his business partner's daughter, Samantha Burroughs, who has the more common form of dwarfism, achondroplasia.
Unbeknownst to the newlyweds, the combination of their conditions came with a high risk of health problems for any offspring. "We weren't aware initially of that – and then our first son, Lloyd, died of inheriting both of our genetic conditions," he says. "That was a horrible shock to us, but also it made us aware and it was a question of trying to learn as much as we could. We were introduced to an amazing professor at the University College Hospital in London, who was pioneering testing in the womb, and another doctor who is trying to discover the gene for SED, the condition I have. He did some tests on me and they actually found the gene. Anyway, so now we're very lucky to have Annabel and Harrison."
Both children appeared in the latest Harry Potter film, but it's Harrison – so named because Davis thought Harrison Davis would be a good name for an actor – who seems to have inherited the performing gene, and has already clocked two movie parts at the age of eight ("He teases me that I didn't get my first film till I was 11"). Davis would argue, however, that the drive to perform has less do with genes than with the exigencies of being born little.
"Being short has determined my personality to a certain degree," he says. "If I'd been average height I don't think I'd have been quite so outgoing, and I see it in my son... you tend to amplify your personality a little bit, just so as you're not forgotten."
The family live in Peterborough and they tend to spend their weekends at home because going out means Davis is, as he puts it, "on duty". In fact, it was his domestic life that first inspired Life's Too Short. Davis had the idea for the sitcom and eventually took it to Gervais and Merchant, having worked with them on Extras. "There was a period a few years ago when I was getting approaches from documentary companies wanting to do a kind of 'Follow Warwick Davis and his family' – and I was kind of 'No, I'm an actor, that's what I do, the family thing that's our thing'.
"And then I thought it would be fun to manipulate the reality here, and the more I started to think about that, the more it became funny and then... You have to keep a little black book and I kept Ricky's number, and I wondered what he thinks..."
Described by Gervais as "a cross between Extras and Curb Your Enthusiasm and One Foot in the Grave, but with a dwarf", the seven-part Life's Too Short is, among other things, a very funny primer to the problems of being a short person. There's a simple scene in the opening episode, for example, where Davis tries to speak into a front-door intercom, although he says his real bête noire is the cash machine. "Not everything is set up for people like us."
The sitcom comes with a stellar guest list that includes Johnny Depp, Sting, Steve Carell (from the American version of The Office) and Helena Bonham Carter, while in the opening episode Liam Neeson gives a splendid turn as a painfully unfunny actor wanting to do comedy.
"I know Liam quite well from working with him before, and Helena Bonham Carter from working with her on Harry Potter. Johnny – we've kept in touch since we worked together..."
One movie franchise that eluded Davis was the Lord of the Rings series, in which director Peter Jackson made the controversial decision not to hire short actors, but to digitally reduce average-sized ones instead.
"I kind of understand why Peter Jackson did what he did – there wasn't the range of short actors to fill the roles," says Davis. "I did go in for an audition, for the role of Gimli that went to John Rhys-Davies, and I joked with [him] about being lynched by a lot of little people, and I think I might set that up really – lots of little people in balaclavas..."
At the end of our meeting, Davis jumps off his chair, and there's a slight jolt as the man with whom I have been on eye-level with for the past hour disappears to below waist. Isn't it a bit galling, I ask him before we part, that so much of our interview has been about his stature?
"I know what you're saying but I don't find it frustrating," he says. "Initially, that's what gave me my opportunity. It's very important that I'm short – it's made me who I am as well, it creates my beliefs, my attitude and everything."

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Jurassic Park - The Deluxe Edition
Pre-orders for the PC and Mac version are now live

In the words of John Hammond, "we spared no expense" on the Jurassic Park: The Game Deluxe Edition for PC and Mac, available exclusively via the Telltale Games Store! We've packed it full of cool InGen approved requisitions including:

A Jurassic Park staff badge as seen in the film
A 32-page field guide full of information about the park and its inhabitants
A Jurassic Park visitor's brochure with fold-out map
And much more!

As well as all of the Jurassic Park gear that's in the box, Deluxe Edition owners also receive access to exclusive digital content including the game's soundtrack and videos!

Owners of the Jurassic Park: The Game Deluxe Edition can download the game on launch day and the physical pack will ship shortly after! If you're a US domestic customer and place your order for the Deluxe Edition by 11/14, you should receive it in time for the holidays. Delivery times to other territories are dependent on location.

Pre-order the Jurassic Park: The Game Deluxe Edition now to ensure you get the limited edition box set at the special pre-order only price of $39.99 - a $10.00 savings!

Pre-Order the Jurassic Park: The Game Deluxe Edition - Only $39.99 until November 15!

Your Avatar Has a T-Rex

The scientists at Jurassic Park clocked their T-Rex at 32 miles an hour but we caught up with it and shrunk it down to fit inside your Xbox 360! That's right, all pre-orders of Jurassic Park: The Game for the Xbox 360 at US GameStop come with an exclusive Jurassic Park T-Rex Xbox Avatar pet to terrorize your digital self!

The T-Rex pet, along with being modeled to look like the tyrant lizard from Jurassic Park causes your Xbox Avatar to re-create Alan Grant's flare waving action during the tour vehicle attack during the first film.

So be sure to pre-order Jurassic Park: The Game for Xbox 360 at GameStop to gear your Xbox Avatar up for the game's November 15 release!

Get all the details on this offer at the Telltale Games Blog!
Chat With Rosette

A big congratulations to Telltale Core Engineer Bruce Wilcox for winning his second consecutive Loebner Prize for Artificial Intelligence recently with his astounding chatbot, Rosette! (Learn more at the Telltale Blog)

While Bruce's chatbot work is a passion for him, it complements the type of research and development that goes on here at Telltale Games! In fact, the technology at work in Rosette is a look at what you may see in future Telltale projects - and you can try it out now!.

Chat with Rosette now!

Visit the official Loebner Prize home page!

Sales of December’s Star Wars: The Old Republic won’t be counted towards the Christmas No.1.
Although the game is the last blockbuster release of the year, due on December 20th, it arrives three days too late to be included in the final count, according to GfK Chart-Track.
The UK chart tracker told MCV this week that the Christmas No.1 will be decided for the week ending Saturday, December 17th – not the week ending Saturday, December 24th as some may have expected.
“Normally we always say the last chart published before Christmas is the Christmas chart,” explained Chart-Track director Dorian Bloch. “We will stick with week 50, ending on December 17th. One issue with not going for week 51 is getting all the data from retail, which will be up to and including December 24th.”
EA dominates the Christmas No.1 list, with 11 titles taking the position – seven of which are FIFA games.
Call of Duty is the overwhelming favourite to be No.1 this Christmas, with three of the last four titles taking that position. But it’s not necessarily a sure thing. In 2008 Call of Duty: World at War was pipped to the top spot by FIFA ‘09.
Since the official All Formats Charts started properly in 1997 there have been only two single format No.1s, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in 2002 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 1998. There’s no GTA this year, so could Zelda cause an upset? At 100/1, Skyward Sword might be worth a quid.
1985 – Commando (Elite)
1986 – Gauntlet (US Gold)  
1987 – Out Run (Sega) 
1988 – Operation Wolf (Ocean) 
1989 – Chase HQ (Ocean)
1990 – Teenage Mutant Turtles (Mirrorsoft) 
1991 – WWF Wrestlemania (Ocean)
1992 – Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (Sega)
1993 – FIFA International Soccer (EA)
1994 – FIFA Soccer ‘95 (EA)
1995 – FIFA Soccer ‘96 (EA)
1996 – FIFA ‘97 (EA)
1997 – FIFA: Road to World Cup ‘98 (EA)
1998 – Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo)
1999 – Tomb Raider: Last Revelation (Eidos)
2000 – Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (Eidos)
2001 – Harry Potter: Philosopher’s (EA)
2002 – GTA: Vice City (Take-Two)
2003 – Medal of Honor: Rising Sun (EA)
2004 – NFS: Underground 2 (EA)
2005 – NFS: Most Wanted (EA)
2006 – FIFA ‘07 (EA)
2007 – CoD 4: Modern Warfare (Activision)
2008 – FIFA ‘09 (EA)
2009 – CoD: Modern Warfare 2 (Activision)
2010 – CoD: Black Ops (Activision)

Friday, 28 October 2011

To paraphrase Amity Police Chief Brody, you’re gonna need a bigger bookshelf.
Written by Matt Taylor and featuring photographs compiled by Taylor and Jim Beller, “Jaws: Memories From Martha’s Vineyard” is an irresistible treasure trove of knowledge, a must-own for film buffs.
Director Steven Spielberg’s classic 1975 thriller “Jaws” marked the birth of the modern blockbuster, and tales of its production are legendary — such as the difficulties of getting the prop sharks to work are nearly as well-known as the film itself. But for “Jaws” nuts and Spielberg superfans, “Memories” is something refreshingly new: a history of the film’s production told through the stories and photos of residents of Martha’s Vineyard, the charming Massachusetts vacation destination where the film was shot.
Among the priceless stories that fill nearly every one of the book’s 296 pages is the fact that the production was nearly dealt a fatal blow by something far more dangerous than any shark: zoning regulations. Production designer Joe Alves points out: “There wasn’t any place on the island zoned for set building because there had never been a movie made there before.”
But, it turns out “Jaws” and Martha’s Vineyard needed each other: Spielberg needed authentic local flavor, and the production gave a much-needed boost to the area’s economy.
“The banks were clamping down on everybody because of the recession, and the Islanders were having a hell of a time,” local hotel owner Bob Carroll recalls. “Universal Studios came just in time and really gave the island a shot in the arm.”
“Memories” is a book about the film, of course, but more than that, it’s about a community and its hard-working residents. Thanks to Taylor and Beller, proper credit finally can be given to folks like Craig Kingsbury. A South Orange native who was raised in Short Hills before making his way to Martha’s Vineyard, Kingsbury played doomed fisherman Ben Gardner in the film and helped acclaimed actor Robert Shaw craft the iconic role of Captain Quint.
In his foreword to the book, Spielberg describes “Memories” as “an astonishing behind-the-scenes anthology of pictures, recollections and anecdotes from the people who supported the making of ‘Jaws’ and who, in so many ways, were invisible to me until now, 37 years later.”
With “Memories From Martha’s Vineyard,” Spielberg and his fans can finally salute the locals who helped him make film history.


Thursday, 27 October 2011

Steven Spielberg has revealed that a script has been written for Jurassic Park 4.

The fourth installment of the dinosaur franchise was confirmed at the San Diego Comic Con in July, and the director has confirmed that the screenplay is going well.

He told Empire: "The screenplay is being written right now by Mark Protosevich. I'm hoping that will come out in the next couple of years. We have a good story. We have a better story for four than we had for three..."

The legendary director also discussed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, admitting that it wasn't the way he wanted to direct the film, saying: "George [Lucas] and I had big arguments about the MacGuffin. I didn't want these things to be either aliens or inter-dimensional beings. But I am loyal to my best friend. When he writes a story he believes in - even if I don't believe in it - I'm going to shoot the movie the way George envisaged it."

When asked about a fifth Indy movie, Spielberg replied that George Lucas is “Working on it.

"George is in charge of breaking the stories. He's done it on all four movies. Whether I like the stories or not, George has broken all the stories."

Spielberg's latest film, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, is on general release.
The X Factor might be losing a few viewers this year, but show bosses might take comfort in knowing that at least the calibre of their viewer is rising.

That's right, Steven Spielberg has confessed that he became hooked on the show while he was filming in Britain - and he reckons that Simon Cowell takes it easier on the Brits than he does on Americans.

The 64-year-old Hollywood legend, who directed such classics as Jaws, ET: The Extra Terrestrial and Schindler's List said: ""My family became completely infatuated with The X Factor. We watched it all the time.

"I wanted to go to sleep because I was shooting but I'd wind up watching instead of sleeping. I became a sappy devotee."

And he claimed that Simon Cowell was nicer to his fellow countrymen and women than he is to the hopefuls he has to deal with on The X Factor US (and previously American Idol).

He continued: "I couldn't believe how nice Cowell was to his fellow Brits and how horrendous he had been to all the Americans. What an attitude adjustment!"
Blu-ray has lost quite a bit of traction in consumer interest with streaming media capturing most of the attention these days.

Recent data released by IHS also suggest that Blu-ray has not quite climbed to the level of sales movie makers anticipated when the first players were released more than five years ago. According to IHS, Blu-ray movie sales were just 4.9 million units in the first three weeks of September, compared to DVD sales of 23.8 million. However, Blu-ray sales are more than twice as high as they were in the same period of last year (2.3 million).
Content is driving sales and it seems that this is not different for Blu-ray. Rather disappointing sales earlier this year appear to have been improved with some significant releases in September, such as the release of Tyler Perry’s Big Happy Family, and Sons of Anarchy: Season 3 in the first week of the month. Rio was released on August 2, but remained the number one BD title for the week. X-Men followed in the second week. In the third week, there was notable increase in sales from  1.6 million to 2.2 million discs, which was quite apparently promoted by the releases of Thor and Star Wars.
“Studios are starting to bring the crown jewels out of the vault for BD release,” said Jan Saxton, an analyst for IHS. “That, coupled with the first releases from a very strong summer box office, has the potential to turn the movie disc market around. Weak DVD sales have continually dragged the market down in 2011, but with the strong showing of X-men: First Class, Thor and Star Wars, the overall market may have hit an inflection point.”
X-Men reportedly sold about 600,000 units in its first week, Thor and Thor 3D hit about 500,000 in the debut week and the nine-disc Star Wars set sold 400,000 units, IHS set. However, Star Wars sales were heavily discounted: the MSRP is $140, but retailers such as Amazon sold the package for as low as $83. Walmart lists it for $80.,news-12888.html

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Robin Williams tied the knot for the third time this weekend, marrying graphic designer Susan Schneider at a ceremony in the Napa Valley town of St. Helena, which saw a celebrity guest list including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Billy Crystal.
Williams' marriage to Schneider comes just over a year after his divorce from second wife Marsha Garces, with whom he'd had two children with, Zelda Rae, aged 21, and 19 year-old Cody Alan - the comedic actor also has a child from his first marriage, 28 year-old Zachary. The UK's Daily Mail reports that Williams and Schneider have had a special bond ever since the latter supported him through heart surgery, with the San Francisco Chronicle reporting that the couple were "thrilled and excited" to be getting married. Details of the ceremony itself remain vague, although the Mail has a picture of the couple looking relaxed and in good spirits as they travelled light for their post-wedding honeymoon.
A mellower imitation of his former self, Robin's latest marriage is unlikely to end in the shame of his first to Valerie Valerdi in which he had allegedly had a fling with cocktail waitress Michelle Tish Carter. To add further insult to injury Carter sued him two years after meeting him in 1984, claiming he'd given her the herpes simplex virus.
Tensions run high as the clones carry out Krell's difficult orders and embark on the deadly mission to take the capital of Umbara in "Darkness on Umbara," a new episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, airing at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT Friday, October 28th on Cartoon Network.

For a long time, at least until he wrote Tintin in Tibet, Hergé’s favourite adventures of his ace reporter were The Secret of the Unicorn and its sequel Red Rackham’s Treasure, two of the three sources for Steven Spielberg’s new film (see feature, left). This gripping sequence, a detective thriller involving historical flashbacks, petty theft, attempted murder and a hunt for pirate treasure, offers classic ingredients for the cinema.
It was while researching Hergé’s biography that I discovered a note he made three months before his death in 1983. “If anyone can bring Tintin successfully to the screen, it is this young American film director…” it said, without actually naming Spielberg, who had approached him about acquiring the Tintin film rights the previous year, and whom he was due to meet in Brussels at the end of March 1983. Hergé, something of a film buff and an admirer of Spielberg’s early films, died on March 3 of that year.
To flesh out his forthcoming film, Spielberg has also included elements of The Crab with the Golden Claws, a key work which includes the first meeting between Tintin and the alcoholic Captain Haddock, 11 years after the reporter had first set out on his adventures alone except for his faithful fox terrier, Snowy. Haddock, an anti-hero reflecting the more voluble characteristics of Hergé’s own personality, was soon to become the most popular character of the series.
Hergé kept a notebook by his bed to record his dreams. This undoubtedly explains the regular occurrence of dream sequences in the adventures, including the hallucination in The Crab with the Golden Claws, in which Haddock mistakes Tintin for a champagne bottle and tries to throttle him, or Tintin’s dream that the captain confuses him with a bottle of burgundy and is about to skewer him with a corkscrew.
For Hergé, this desert-set, drug-smuggling adventure was a form of escapism following the German occupation of Belgium. He had put aside another desert adventure with a German villain – to be resurrected and completed after the war as Land of Black Gold – and stepped away from the current-affairs-inspired scenarios of the previous adventures.
The same is true of the treasure hunt of The Secret of the Unicorn, free of any allusion to the shattering world events that accompanied its unfolding in the pages of the leading Belgian daily, Le Soir, which was itself under the control of the German authorities.
For these books, Hergé developed his working methods. For the atmospheric rendering of the Unicorn, he drew on material from the Musée de la Marine in Paris and maritime collectors he knew. The unusual ship’s wheel chandelier in Haddock’s flat is taken from a postcard sent to Hergé that summer by a colleague on holiday.
As for Marlinspike, Haddock’s ancestral home, it is nothing less than the Loire château of Cheverny, shorn of its two wings, taken from a visitor brochure that Hergé had acquired. With no funds of his own to buy it back, the captain relies on the generosity of the splendid Professor Calculus who has received government funds for the patent on his shark submarine used so successfully in the search for the wreck of the Unicorn.
Cuthbert Calculus makes his debut in Red Rackham’s Treasure, trying to interest Tintin in a submarine, and he is certainly another reason for the popularity of this book. Hergé had previously shown a fascination for absent-minded professors, but now he had created a character – based on the Swiss physicist Auguste Piccard whom he would observe loping along the streets of Brussels – that could not be bettered for inventions, or humour.
And for slapstick, he could rely on the blundering pair of detectives, Thomson and Thompson, remarkably similar though not actually twins. Altogether, as far as entertainment is concerned, it is a winning line-up.
  • Michael Farr is the author of Tintin: The Complete Companion (Egmont) and The Adventures of Hergé: Creator of Tintin (John Murray). He will be giving an illustrated talk at the Wigmore Hall on Oct 22, in aid of orphans in Manilla Details:
from -

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

 Production Under Way on Second Season of TNT's Top-Rated Series Falling Skies
TNT has launched production on the second season of Falling Skies, the epic series from DreamWorks Television and executive producer Steven Spielberg and starring Noah Wyle. The show finished its first season as basic cable’s #1 new series for the year-to-date. The second season of Falling Skies will air as part of TNT’s summer 2012 lineup. Several cast members are providing Twitter updates on the production using the hashtag #tntbackontheset.

Falling Skies takes place in the aftermath of an all-out invasion by an alien military force. Wyle stars as Tom Mason, a Boston history professor and the father of three sons, who must put his extensive knowledge of military history to the test as second in command of a regiment of resistance fighters protecting a large group of civilians. Falling Skies also stars Moon Bloodgood as Dr. Ann Glass, a pediatrician who has become the survivors’ primary physician; Will Patton as Colonel Weaver, the gruff and emotionally scarred commander of the 2nd Massachusetts, the team of civilian-soldiers whose job it is to protect the survivors; and Drew Roy, Tom’s oldest son who is just about to turn 18.
In the second season of Falling Skies, viewers will learn what happens to Tom after his decision to go with the aliens at the end of the first season. Tom hopes that by agreeing to a dialogue with the invaders, he will not only free his son Ben from the invaders’ influence, but also get a better picture of the aliens’ overall plan.
Falling Skies scored more than 6.9 million viewers in its first season and ranks as basic cable’s #1 new series for the year-to-date. The series also finished summer as basic cable’s #1 drama among key adult demos. In addition to Spielberg, Falling Skies is executive-produced by DreamWorks Television heads Justin Falvey and Darryl FrankRemi Aubuchon and Greg Beeman also serve as executive producers.
About TNT
TNT, one of cable’s top-rated networks, is television’s destination for drama. Seen in 100.5 million households, the network is home to such original series as The Closer, starring Emmy® winner Kyra Sedgwick; Rizzoli & Isles, starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander; Falling Skies, starring Noah Wyle; Franklin & Bash, with Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Breckin Meyer; Leverage, starring Timothy Hutton; and Southland, from Emmy-winning producer John Wells, as well as the upcoming series Major CrimesDallas and Perception. TNT also presents compelling original movies, including a slate of thrillers set to premiere this fall in The TNT Mystery Movie Night showcase. TNT is the cable home to powerful dramas like The MentalistBonesSupernaturalLas VegasLaw & OrderCSI: NYCold Case and, starting next year, Castle; primetime specials, such as the Screen Actors Guild Awards®; blockbuster movies; and championship sports coverage, including NASCAR, the NBA and the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. TNT is available in high-definition.
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news; entertainment; animation and young adult; and sports media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.
Filming a scene for Revenge Of The Sith, one of the Star Wars movies, actor Anthony Daniels found himself in an embarrassing position.
As C-3PO, the endearing robot and loyal friend to Luke Skywalker, he was dressed in a skintight gold bodysuit and mask when he suddenly realised he needed his reading glasses.
‘My outfit was made from metal moulded to fit my body, with two dots in the mask to see through — there was no room for spectacles,’ says Anthony, 65, one of the few cast members to have starred in all six Star Wars films.
Perfect vision: Anthony Daniels couldn't wear glasses when playing Star Wars robot C-3PO so had laser eye surgery
Perfect vision: Anthony Daniels couldn't wear glasses when playing Star Wars robot C-3PO so had laser eye surgery
‘I had a crew member standing in front of me holding up my lines, but without my glasses I couldn’t see things close up. I had to ask them to stand farther and farther back to try to enable me to see them in focus. I felt daft.’
Like almost everyone over the age of 40, Anthony suffers from presbyopia — an age-related blurring of close vision caused when the lens of the eye becomes less elastic. This means you find it more difficult to zoom vision in and out and hard to see things up close.

Everyone will be affected to some extent, but until ten years ago there was no alternative, apart from reading glasses. Anthony, who lives in London with his partner Christine, was diagnosed with presbyopia at 40. Though he started using reading glasses, his sight caused him real problems with film work and his public appearances at Star Wars conventions.
‘I needed my glasses pretty much all the time, but rarely wore them in public because I began to feel self-conscious about them,’ he says.
Over the past decade, laser techniques have been developed to compensate for the focus problems associated with presbyopia. While lasers can’t treat the lens, they are used to change the shape of the eyes, which tricks the brain to allow you to read normally.
Until recently, this was done through a technique called mono vision. The weaker eye is made slightly short-sighted by flattening the cornea (the clear dome-shaped bit at the front of the eye). This eye can then do the close reading work while the other eye is left untreated to do the distance work.
‘There is always an optical trade-off with this kind of procedure,’ says Professor David Gartry of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and a consultant surgeon at the Moorfields Eye Hospital, London.
‘You can see at distance and up close, but there will be a difference in the intermediate range of vision — the picture on a nearby wall may not look as sharp as it was, for example.’
However, Anthony underwent a newer form of laser surgery for presbyopia called Laser Blended Vision, which treats both eyes.
Ditched the glasses: Anthony felt self-conscious wearing his specs
Ditched the glasses: Anthony felt self-conscious wearing his specs
It takes just eight minutes and, according to the designers of the system, leaves no gap between long distance and short distance vision. They claim patients achieve 20/20 vision in 97 per cent of cases.  
A laser is used to open up a flap across the front of the eye and is then used to alter the shape of the cornea.
‘We work on the non-dominant eye to make it slightly better at near work, while still good at distance,’ says Professor Dan Reinstein of the London Vision clinic, who developed the original version of the process in 2005.
‘We also adapt the dominant eye to be excellent at distance and good at near work. Where it differs from mono vision and other laser eye surgery is that the focusing power of the whole cornea is taken into account when altering its shape, not just the central point.
‘With mono vision, the eye that does the reading looks after things from 20cm to 50cm, while the eye that does the distance sees from about three metres to infinity — but neither eye sees in the mid-distance of between 50cm away and three metres.
‘With the newest version of Laser Blended Vision, people see from 25cm to two metres in the reading eye and from 75cm to infinity in the distance eye. It means you can see near and far, and everything is in focus.’
But the newer method is not suitable for everyone. ‘In 3 per cent of people, the brain will not make the two eyes work in synch, and so the quality of vision is not correct,’ says Professor Reinstein. ‘But we pick this up beforehand by running tests.’

'The difference in my eyesight is nothing short of miraculous. I wish I'd had this done years earlier'
The procedure is also not suitable for people with thinner corneas. 
‘There may be small fluctuations in clarity of vision from day to day after the procedure, but these usually settle within two or three weeks,’ he says.
There is also a risk of developing dry eye, and it can take time for the brain to adapt to learn how to ‘blend’ the two eyes. ‘These symptoms improve over a few months,’ says Professor Reinstein.
Anthony had the procedure two years ago after a frustrating time at a live stage event at the O2 Arena in London. He was narrating the Star Wars story with music from the films.
‘It was a two-hour show and there were a lot of lines — and as you get older, lines get harder to learn,’ he says.
‘So at every break, I would dash off the stage, put on my glasses and re-read the script. I had to have glasses on both sides of the stage, and every time I took them off my make-up smudged. I thought: “This is silly.” ’
Encouraged by Christine, who’d had laser surgery, Anthony decided to have the treatment. ‘It didn’t hurt, though I did see wonderful spirograph patterns. It was over in four minutes and then they did the next eye,’ he says.
‘I noticed a difference instantly. I could suddenly see small-print on signs on the wall. I had to wear dark glasses for the first day, and for a week I had see-through hoods to put over my eyes in bed so I didn’t roll over and damage them.
‘The difference in my eyesight is nothing short of miraculous. I wish I’d had this done years earlier — it would have made life in the C-3PO suit so much easier.’

Monday, 24 October 2011

He may be one of the dark side's evil enforcers, but this Stormtrooper clearly shows a lighter side in these rather unlikely family snaps.
They were created by amateur artist Kristina Alexanderson, who likes to believe the footsoldiers actually have a normal home life despite their deadly day job as Darth Vader's henchmen.
In one scene - crafted using a Lego figurine and a 4in plastic replica - the notoriously regimented Star Wars soldier is seen tenderly carrying his son.
Showing the ropes: The Stormtrooper gives his son skipping tips on a sun-kissed morning
Showing the ropes: The Stormtrooper gives his son skipping tips on a sun-kissed morning
Any port in a Storm-trooper: The evil footsoldier cowers under a girly umbrella. He appears to be making his son hold it for him
Any port in a Storm-trooper: The footsoldier ducks under a floral parasol held by his son

Another shows a classic father-and-son moment as they play hopscotch in the blazing sun on a hand-drawn chalk grid.
In others, he is seen ducking under a particularly floral parasol in the rain.

Self-professed Star Wars fan Kristina, 40, began the online project in the summer of 2010 and has since taken a posed-up image of the father and son Stormtroopers each day since - uploading them to her website for her fans.
Playing around: Father and son enjoy a game of hopscotch together - a far cry from the Stormtrooper's day job
Playing around: Father and son enjoy a game of hopscotch together - a far cry from the Stormtrooper's day job
They all depict the Lego and plastic figurines in unlikely everyday situations - and are aimed at highlighting the good and evil in people.
Kristina said: 'I think we have to remember that even though they work for the dark side of the force, they are humans, with feelings and all that.
'Do they get scared? Do they worry about their kids? Do they play and have fun? I believe they do, no matter how evil people perceive you to be.'
Kristina has now amassed over 500 images of the pair - which she takes with her as she travels around the world in her day job encouraging children to publish their work online.
Each scene takes her anything between ten minutes and three hours to set up and shoot.
Tender trooper: Darth Vader's enforcer holds his young boy in a loving embrace. Artist Kristina Alexanderson has created more than 500 images of the pair
Tender trooper: Darth Vader's enforcer holds his young boy in a loving embrace. Artist Kristina Alexanderson has created more than 500 images of the pair
Take Your Child To Work Day: The Stormtrooper gives his son a piggyback to meet the boss
Take Your Child To Work Day: The Stormtrooper gives his son a piggyback to meet the boss
The 40-year-old, from Sweden, added: 'Most of them are taken at home in the kitchen, or outside in the street were I get better light.
'I travel a lot with work and during the past year I have taken the mini Stormtroopers with me wherever I have gone.
'They have been around the world a lot - from my homeland Sweden to places like London and San Francisco.'
She added: 'It all started in 2010 when during the Spring I found some great picture resources online with these still life images. 
'They used toys from the Stars Wars Saga and they quickly became my favourite thing to view online.
'So I borrowed one of my sons' Lego Stormtroopers to become the child and bought a 4in plastic toy from a toyshop to be the father and began making my own. My kids love them and are my greatest critics.'
An unlikely moment as a Stormtrooper shares a tender loving moment with his son as the youngster runs into his arms
An unlikely moment as a Stormtrooper shares a tender loving moment with his son as the youngster runs into his arms

New heights: Father and son enjoy a ride on a swing
New heights: Father and son enjoy a ride on a swing

Awesome: Father and son take in the intricate beauty of a spider's web
Awesome: Father and son take in the intricate beauty of a spider's web
Steven Spielberg's new Fox drama Terra Nova will end its first series on a cliffhanger.

Executive producers Brannon Braga and Rene Echevarria have promised a huge cliffhanger will end the dino-drama's first season leaving fans wanting more. The duo have also revealed that Terra Nova will take on a more serialised format in the build up to the finale which is currently scheduled to air in December.

"We come to see the conspiracy with the Sixers is being orchestrated in 2149, and as we get toward the season finale we will go to 2149 and see that more's kind of a cliffhanger. All the elements come to a head, it's a two-hour finale. "The 11th Pilgrimage is scheduled to arrive - and who's going to show up?......We also set up a new mystery, so in that sense it's a cliffhanger." - Rene Echevarria speaking to Entertainment Weekly

Fox have yet to renew Terra Nova for a second season but so far the drama has performed solidly for the broadcaster. It has also performed well for its UK broadcaster Sky One were it has attracted strong ratings. However, the shows costly budget - rumoured to be $4 million per episode - could prove to be its downfall.

Mark Hamill will apply the force to an upcoming superhero comic book series called "NEW-GEN," the comic's creators announced Thursday.
The man better known as Luke Skywalker will serve as a creative consultant for the franchise, including an upcoming live action feature film production.
The announcement came at New York Comic-Con this week, where the "Star Wars" actor is something of a minor deity.
To introduce Hamill, the company will release a special six-issue graphic novel, "NEW-GEN: Volume One," featuring a "forward" from Hamill who shares his thoughts on this next-generation comic franchise that evolves around the battle over nanotechnology.
Also joining the "NEW-GEN" team for the upcoming live action feature film are producer Mace Neufeld ("The Hunt for Red October"), co-producer and first assistant director Kim H. Winther ("X-Men: First Class"), director of photography/cinematographer David Tattersall ("Star Wars: Episodes I, II, III"), visual effects supervisor Jeffrey A. Okun ("The Day the Earth Stood Still"), production manager John H. Starke ("The Punisher"), production designer Oliver Scholl ("Jumper") and composer Christopher Young ("Spider Man 3").
"NEW-GEN" founder and creator J.D. Matonti will helm the production as the feature's director, with the franchise's Julia Coppola and Chris Matonti serving as the film's executive producer and producer.
The series is printed and distributed by Marvel Comics, "NEW-GEN," but is also billed as a transmedia property with its tentacles in everything from merchandise to mobile, video games, the company said."


Sunday, 23 October 2011

Hollywood heavyweights have come together for Michelle Obama and Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative in a new series of PSAs.
Steven Spielberg joins Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks in the three PSAs to bring attention to the unique needs and strength of America’s military families.
“The entertainment community answered the Joining Forces call and has done what they do best — bring to life stories that move us,” said Obama. “Through this PSA campaign, Americans will learn more about the unique challenges and needs of our military families, see their strength, resilience and service, and find out how they can give back to these extraordinary troops and families who have given us so much.”
“As a military mom, I know just how much it means when people reach out to show their support for our service members and their families,” adds Jill Biden, whose son served in Iraq. “The first lady and I hope that this campaign will inspire more Americans to take action and reach out to military families in their own communities around the country.”
The PSAs are the brainchild of Bruce Cohen, the Academy Award-winning producer who leads the Inter-Guild Joining Forces Task Force, an entertainment industry coalition that provides creative and production support for Joining Forces.
To watch the three videos, click here.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

 It was 1983.  Way before the interweb and cable TV the only way you could get a glimpse of an upcoming blockbuster was the good old fashioned cinema trailer.  I remember seeing the trailer for Return Of The Jedi for the first time.  I wasn't expecting it as there was no word of a release date or when it was coming to the UK but here was the trailer in all its glory.  I was more excited about this trailer than the movie hence I can't remember what I went to see (probably The Secret Of Nimh.)  It was at the height of my Star Wars obsession (of which has never come down) which is why for me Return Of The Jedi will always have a special place in my heart, Ewoks and all.

Award-winning film producer Steven Spielberg is reportedly in talks to make a movie in Michigan.
WWJ-TV is reporting, the Hollywood filmmaker is negotiating with Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration.Spielberg is reportedly in current production for a movie based on Abraham Lincoln that is being short in Virginia.A new movie project in Michigan would be a boost for Snyder, who took some political heat for the state’s new cap on film-production tax incentives.According to the WWJ report, State Majority Leader Randy Richardville is aware of the talks with Spielberg.“You could be hearing something very, very exciting over the next couple of weeks,” Richardville is quoted saying by WWJ.No other details about the Spielberg project have been reported, so it is not certain whether Spielberg would be a director or producer on the film.
, Star Wars: The Old Republic
SWTOR: Collector's Edition
Here's a question for you: How is Star Wars: The Old Republic like Christmas? Right, it releases the same week, but do you know another way it's like Christmas? That's right! Opening the Collector's Edition is like opening one of those box-inside-a-box-inside-a-box presents your uncle gives you as a gag gift. However, this one should be more fun because the deeper you dive into the box the greater the gift becomes.

This giant box, featuring a painting of bounty hunter Shae Vizla directly on the front, slides open from the top revealing six items inside. The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural features full-color images of the events leading up to the Sacking of Corurscant. A tabloid-sized galaxy map visually indicates all the places you will be able to visit in the game. An authenticator key helps secure your personal information from hackers. A statue of Darth Malgus hides in the largest box within the main box. A single CD contains the full musical score for the game, and lastly, the three-disk game set is encased inside a collectable metal case.

Catch a one-and-a-half-minute video unveiling each piece after the break.

Two-time Oscar-winning animation great John Lasseter has landed himself his own star on Hollywood’s iconic Walk of Fame. As Chief Creative Officer at Pixar and Walt Disney’s animation studios, the director and producer has helmed the recent popularity of animated films.
Lasseter, who is also stationed as principal creative advisor at Walt Disney Imagineering, will be unveiling his Walk of Fame star with Cars star Bonnie Hunt on Tuesday, Nov. 1. The animator’s star will be the 2,453rd to grace the famous pavement and will be located directly outside the landmark El Capitan Theatre.
Family Guy star Seth Green is working on an animated sitcom based on the Star Wars saga, according to the head of licensing at Lucasfilm.
Howard Roffman said the series would premiere "within the next two years" but refused to be drawn on details.
Taboo-busting animation Family Guy has already created three one-off specials based on the first Star Wars trilogy.
Roffman added that inspiration had also been drawn from French And Saunders' spoof of The Phantom Menace.
The extended sketch, which aired in a 1999 Christmas special, starred the comedy duo as Toby Jugs Kenobi (Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Pork Dim Sum (Liam Neeson's Qui-Gon Jinn).
Robot R2D2 was played by 1970s game show character Dusty Bin.
Parodying the film's labyrinthine plot, which revolves around a series of trade negotiations, the main characters spend time delivering tedious exposition full of meaningless jargon.
"We have been dispatched here to negotiate the present blockade and thereby relieve the present turmoil and accelerate the plans of the trade union congress of the deltoid outer nebobbian haemorrhoid rim," notes Kinobi in one scene.
Roffman said he had shown the spoof to Star Wars creator George Lucas "with trepidation in my heart, but I don't think I have ever seen him laugh that hard!"
Green, who plays the imbecile son Chris Griffin in Family Guy, is also the co-creator of anarchic animation Robot Chicken. Both series have produced parodies of the Star Wars films.
French and Saunders in their Phantom Menace spoof French and Saunders took on the roles originally played by Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor
In Family Guy episode Something, Something, Dark Side - a retelling of The Empire Strikes Back - the makers poke fun at the genre conventions of science fiction.
"May I have everyone's attention please?" says Princess Leia, addressing the rebel forces.
"We're evacuating into outer space with literally infinite directions in which to flee. However, we have decided that our transports will travel directly towards the fleet of Star Destroyers. Any questions?"
Even the iconic Star Wars title sequence is parodied: "It is a time of civil war and renegade paragraphs flying through space."
Speaking at the Brand Licensing convention in London, Roffman said that in addition to the animated series, a live action TV programme based on the Star Wars universe was under consideration.
He had previously described the much-rumoured programme as "an ambitious move".
"We have to solve the problem of not being able to produce movie quality programming on a TV budget," he told Marketing Week earlier this month.
The Star Wars franchise is one of the most lucrative in film history, worth almost $23 billion (£14.57 billion) since the series' cinematic debut in 1977.
In addition to video games, collectable characters and other merchandise, a 3D version of The Phantom Menace will be released in February next year.
Steven Spielberg has won the seal of approval of Tintin's native land - Belgium - for his new movie version of the classic cartoon.
In Tintin's home city of Brussels, local critics had a sneak preview of The Adventures Of Tintin - The Secret Of The Unicorn, and knives were sharpened in case the Hollywood director had desecrated one of Europe's greatest cartoon characters.
But the reviewers were won over by the new computer-animated movie, which used performance-capture technology to create cartoon versions of actors Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig and Simon Pegg.
"Bull's eye," headlined the Dutch-speaking De Standaard newspaper. "A pure jewel" the Francophone Le Soir had on its front page.
Spielberg will come to the October 22 world premiere in Belgium in person, knowing the critics themselves have rolled out the red carpet.
The Adventures Of Tintin, co-produced by Peter Jackson of Lord Of The Rings fame, will be released in Europe, Asia and the Middle East ahead of a debut in the US - where Tintin is largely unheard of.
The cartoon books have been translated into 70-plus languages from Chinese to Armenian, and sold in the tens of millions of copies.
Tintin's creator Herge, who died in 1983, is a national hero in Belgium.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Beware of the dog - for Bones is the pooch with enough power to blast you into outer space, with his new disguise as an All Terrain Armoured Transport (animal) walker.
Katie Mello decided to give her cute canine a menacing makeover in time for Halloween - complete with mechanical legs and laser shooting helmet.
Using foam for the top body armour, and light fabric for the limbs, Bones was converted into a barking version of the Imperial Walker, made famous in The Empire Strikes Back.
All dressed up: Bones is the pooch with enough power to blast you into outer space in his new disguise as an All Terrain Armoured Transport (animal) walker
All dressed up: Bones is the pooch with enough power to blast you into outer space in his new disguise as an All Terrain Armoured Transport (animal) walker
Bones Mello
Bones Mello
Makeover: Bones was given the menacing makeover in time for Halloween

Mello, who works at the Oregon animation studio Laika which produced the critically acclaimed film Coraline, is now the proud owner of an Italian greyhound which has become known as 'the AT-AT dog'.
Describing how she created the costume, she wrote detailed descriptions of each stage of the production process on Bones' very own Facebook page.

She started by making a foam form of the three-year-old's body, which she then used as a guide to create the machine's armour.
'It was made to minimise the fittings on Bones the actual dog. He is patient, but there are limits,' she said.
Bones Mello
Bones Mello
Foam memory: The casts of Bones' body were used to help create his costume
Follower of fashion: Bones seen posing his two-piece speed suit
Follower of fashion: Bones seen posing his two-piece speed suit
Bones Mello
Bones Mello
Armoured animal: Bones' tries out his body armour (left) and his speed suit (right) ready for fitting

Shoe fitting: Bones tests out his new fancy footwear for size
Shoe fitting: Bones tests out his new fancy footwear for size
She then placed him in a two-piece speed suit, which was completely open underneath, and held the body of the vehicle on him to check the fit.
'I made the body all out of foam sheet, which was 1/4 inch thick with 'fun foam' sheets on top. It hardly weighs anything.'
The body suit was then painted. 'The round disks at the joints snap on to the suit so it is more comfortable and easier to get on and off,' she added. The AT-AT walker was a major part of the Galactic Empire's army.
Described as a 'behemoth of a war machine' it stood at 22.5 metres high and could reach speeds of 40mph.
It was controlled by a crew of five, which included a pilot, gunner, commander and two deck officers - and gained a reputation for being a brutal beast in battle.
Behemoth of a war beast: The AT-AT as made famous in The Empire Strikes Back
Behemoth of a war beast: The AT-AT as made famous in The Empire Strikes Back
Under cover: Using foam for the top body armour, and light fabric for the limbs, Bones was converted into a barking version of the Imperial Walker made famous in The Empire Strikes Back
Under cover: Using foam for the top body armour, and light fabric for the limbs, Bones was converted into a barking version of the Imperial Walker made famous in The Empire Strikes Back

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