Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Heroes Give Hope" Limited Edition Print

In an effort to raise money for Japan, still in need though we don't hear about it on the news constantly anymore, artist Dave Williams created this amazing poster. Combining the flag of Japan with William's take on 72 different iconic heroes, this simple yet beautiful piece is a one of a kind that you can big on here.

Can you name every character featured below? If so, prove it in the comments!

(Note - Dave has also made some badass posters for the Back to the Future trilogy, Thor and X-Men: First Class. A Captain America one should be appearing on his site soon, so be sure to check out the linkage below to stay updated!)

Your Favorite Heroes have gathered to offer their support with this fantastic new Print by Artist and Illustrator Dave Williams

This Limited print measures 24 x 18 inches and is printed on a 350gsm matte It is numbered 1/1 and signed by the artist. It features unique interpretations of dozens of the most iconic heroes of the past few decades and was created uniquely for the Heroes Give Hope Auction. It will never be sold or reprinted again.

Printing services for this piece were graciously donated to the auction by Tom Sound

You can find more of Dave William's work here or by following him on twitter @davewi11 .
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Blu Ray Review: Lord of the Rings: Extended Editions

Cross-posted and commissioned by

Today marks the release of one of the best things to happen to Blu-ray since Blu-rays blu made their blu way into existence: The Blu-ray Extended Editions of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Digitally remastered from the films’ original 2K files (unlike the theatrical cut Lord of the Rings Blu-ray release), these movies can now look as beautiful on a television as they did in theaters, no matter the size of your screen. My breath was just as taken away with the stunningly crisp picture (approved personally by Peter Jackson) on an 82-inch TV as it was on a 42-inch, as it was on a 23-inch. And the sound, now presented in 6.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, is powerful, all encompassing, sleek and dynamic. Watching with surround or not, I still felt like I was chillin’ (or as the case mostly was, fighting/traveling/arguing/rescuing) in Middle Earth. The quality is definitely maintained here partly because the film is still on more than one disc, allowing more room for the smallest of details to come through in both picture and sound.

Including the two containing the film itself, each title brings with it five discs. The nine discs of extras are perhaps the most extensive I’ve ever seen. The first disc of extras for each film focuses on the process of book to screen/pre-production. The second disc of extras for each film focuses on the production itself, post production, and theatrical release. The third disc of extras house each correlating part of the Costa Botes documentary.

Now, are the 26 hours of extras also in HD? No. They aren’t Blu-ray, just DVDs. But I almost wonder if this is a sneaky way of immediately pointing out how impressive the remaster actually is. Going from 1080p to DVD-upgraded-by-Blu-ray-player is a very noticeable switch. An even bigger shock is going from the films’ rich HD images to the behind the scenes video footage, so low quality, even the faces in the foreground are slightly blurry. But because you get used to the low quality rather quickly, it thankfully doesn’t remain a nuisance.

Another important note here is that the 26 hours of extras are all exactly the same as the ones on the Extended Edition DVDs, save digital copies and some trailers for Lord of the Rings: War of the North. The downside here, obviously, is if you already own the DVDs, you are paying a lot of money *only* for the Blu-ray discs. But at the same time, I almost appreciate the lack of new extras as it means those who aren’t fortunate enough to own Blu-ray players don’t have to fear that they are missing out on any actual additions to the set they cannot own.

But for those of you who haven’t memorized the extras on the original extended editions, here is a handy dandy breakdown of what you’ll be getting for your $120.

Lord of the Rings Extended Editions - Blu rayDisc 1/Disc 2 – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Extended Edition
-The Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition in HD/6.1 DTS-HD Part One (105 min) and Part Two (123 min)
-Four Commentaries, Directors/Writers, Design Team, Production/Post-Production team, Actors
-War of the North Trailer on Disc 1
-MTV Movie Awards Clip on Disc 1
Council of Elrond spoof with Jack Black and Sarah Michelle Gellar

A recommendation here that applies to each of these movies – because each commentary so specifically touches on different aspects of the films, they really allow you to create your own educational experience. Curious about the lighting and absence of color in Moria or about any of the digital effects? Click over to the Production track. Want to know how on earth Faramir and Eowyn holding hands could have been cut or why certain other elements were added or deleted? Listen to the Director/Writers track. Want to learn about Elijah Wood’s love of beer or hear what was going through each character’s head after Gandalf’s fall? Switch to the Actors track. And if you are curious about the design of the Ringwraiths or what was done to Frodo’s Elvyn cape to make it look like a rock, click over to the Design Team track. Although the names of those speaking only pop up based on which commentary you selected at the beginning, so if you *do* go track hopping, you won’t necessarily know who is speaking when. My personal favorite track was the Actors because not only do you get fun anecdotes and get to hear about the acting process, you also get bits and pieces of what would appear on the other tracks. For example, if you’re curious about King Theoden’s transformation, you’d think you’d get the most info from Design or Production, but it’s actually Bernard Hill on the Actors track that goes into it the most.

Disc 3: The Appendices, Part 1: From Book to Vision

-JRR Tolkien: Creator of Middle Earth (22min)
Brief biography on Tolkien and history of books & fandom
-From Book To Script (20)
Hear the relationship of many of the actors and crew members to the books, then learn about the process of initially adapting the books to screenplays.
-Storyboards and Pre Viz: Making Words into Images (20)
Learn about the importance of story-boarding and the many different ways of creating them
-Three Storyboards that didn’t quite make it into the film (11)
-Two Pre Viz Animatics (3)
-Two Storyboard/Pre-Viz to film side by side comparisons (4)
-Bad End Set Test (6)
FAVORITE ALERT. Peter Jackson and some crew members act out a couple scenes that take place in the newly built (but not yet dressed) home of the Baggins’. The highlight is getting to watch Peter Jackson throw his all into his performance of Bilbo.
-Designing Middle Earth (41)
Going through the production design of the film from start to finish
-Weta Workshop (43)
In depth look at all of the armor, weapons, special makeup effects, prosthetics, creatures and miniatures, it’s the coolest doc on the disc. I swear, co-founder of Weta, Richard Taylor with his loud, bizarrely accented voice could lead a really eccentric cult or something. And, well, I guess he kind of does.
-Costume Design (12)
Learn about the design for many of the characters’ costumes and get some perspective on just how much work goes into costumes for a project like this. If you’d like to know why 40 duplicates had to be made of every single costume, this is the one to watch.
-Galleries with optional slideshows of people and realms
If you ever plan on dressing up as a character from Lord of the Rings, this feature is your saving grace. Sketches, close ups of detailing, the actual pieces on actors – the best reference guide you could possible ask for
-Middle Earth Atlas
Interactive map of Earth. Pick the path of either Frodo or Gandalf and follow their journey on the map, complete with clips
-New Zealand As Middle-Earth (8)
Your guide to visiting Lord of the Rings set sites when you visit New Zealand! A map pointing out which realms where shot where, with location scouting footage and thoughts from location scout and Supervising art director, Dan Hennah

More - way more - after the jump!

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

On The Scene: The 37th Annual Saturn Awards

Crossposted on

 I attended the Saturn Awards for a fifth time this year, and once again we Firefly vodkaed-chickened-cheesecaked our way through a two-hour ceremony celebrating the best in science fiction, fantasy, and horror. This year saw special career awards given to Bert I. Gordan, Michael Biehn, Frank Darabont, Kevin Feige, and Dean Devlin, and honored both Inception and Fringe with multiple wins. Here is our rundown of the evening.

Most Heartfelt Speech
Andrew Connolly, accepting on behalf of The Lieutenant of Inishmore, which nabbed Best Local Stage Production, Drama, or Comedy. His speech was well written, thought out, and paid nice respect to the Academy and event itself. Very classy, Connolly.

Most Inspiring Speech
From a winner, Marc Scott Zicree, who wrote The Twilight Zone Companion and co-accepted for the Blu-ray release of seasons one and two, spoke of his love for The Twlight Zone, how difficult it was to get the anthology made, how amazing it is that 50 years later the show is still winning awards, and how we should never give up on our dreams no matter what.

From a presenter, veteran actor Monte Markham, who before presenting Best Science Fiction movie to Inception, talked about how the Emmys were grand fun for about four years until the audience got over it and started not caring about the ceremony anymore. He went on to profess how happy he was to finally get to attend the Saturns and be in a room with people truly passionate about what they are celebrating, all of whom respect each other. He was extremely well-spoken (and looked amazing for 75) and made us all pause what we were doing and truly listen. Except for one person.

Most Inappropriate Behavior
During that same speech about respect, Salt screenwriter, Kurt Wimmer, who may or may not have been utterly wasted, started talking to a producer at his table in his outdoor voice. Ten “SHHHHs” later and he managed to shut up. Not cool, dude. I don’t care how much you don’t know who the person on stage is, you still give him respect. And also, you wrote Salt, so stfu.

Best Intentioned Inappropriate Behavior
After host Jeffrey Ross made a somewhat crude joke about Michael J. Fox, Michael Biehn took the audiences’ groans one step further and started vehemently booing. Ross, having no idea the disapproval was coming from a major award recipient of the night, still responded with class — sort of — with “Thanks for the support!” and as the boos continued, “That’s my writer.” Biehn then calmed down and the evening continued, but those of us who were seated near his table now happen to know that for whatever reason, Michael Biehn is a stark defender of Michael J. Fox. Awe.

Most Hilarious Presenters
Doug Jones should host this thing, I’m telling you. In a fabulous steam punk floor-length jacket, Jones brought smiles and warmth to the show as he presented the Visionary Award to Kevin Feige.  Such a doll, he is.

When French Stewart and Whitney Abel presented Best Cable & Network TV Show, Stewart opened with a joke that Abel had just confessed to him backstage that she was highly intoxicated. While this was no doubt a joke and on top of that, one Abel wasn’t expecting, she responded perfectly, as if it WAS true, naturally blushed, filled with giggles, keeping the audience in stitches. Who knew these two would end up pulling off such a delightful routine?

Most Energetic Acceptance Speech
Vince Gilligan for Breaking Bad excitedly named every single person in the audience from Breaking Bad — two and a half tables worth. He also referred to Aaron Paul’s date as Paul’s “soulmate” which elicited many “awes” from the audience.

Coolest Tidbit
During Kevin Feige’s video acceptance speech from the set of The Avengers, we got a little sneak peak at something I don’t believe has been previously alluded to anywhere. At two different points in the video, a PA walked through the background, trying to find a place to put a giant gold glove amongst all the other Avengers props laying around. At one point, Feige turned around and exclaimed, “Put that away, it’s a secret!” Cue hum of the audience, trying to figure out how the Infinity Gauntlet will fit into The Avengers.

Also appreciated Frank Darabont informing us that he was directing a second unit for The Walking Dead in Georgia that very morning before making his way to L.A. for the awards.

More after the jump!

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Book Review: Crazy4Cult Cult Movie Art

 (crossposted on

The Big Lebowski. Fargo. Edward Scissorhands. They Live. Shaun of the Dead. Back to the Future. Jaws. Blue Velvet. Beetlejuice. Blade Runner. Planet of the Apes. Tron. The Warriors. The Evil Dead. Office Space. Donnie Darko.

If I just listed any of your favorite movies, then brace yourselves, an art book is being released by Titan this week that is going to make you lose your mind.

Gallery 1988's Crazy4Cult Cult Movie Art is a collection of art based on, you guessed it, cult movies, that has been displayed in four different shows at Los Angeles' Gallery 1988 over the past couple of years. I've had the good fortune to have attended two of these showings and the better fortune to have picked up some art prints before they sold out at said showings.

The idea is brilliant - tell a bunch of uncommonly talented underground artists to create a piece or multiple pieces based on their favorite cult movies. The results are beautiful, gruesome, clever and comfortingly nostalgic. I've salivated over some of these pieces for years and am thrilled that I now own all of them in a 175 page coffee table book, the cover of which features crazy eyed, Pulp Fictioned Sam Jackson, surrounded by bullet holes, pointing a gun in my direction. My living room just got a whole lot happier.

The book begins with a forward by longtime Crazy4Cult supporter, Kevin Smith, a third of which is appropriately one long penis joke. I wish there had been more background information on Gallery 1988, on Crazy4Cult, on the artists, on the artists' relationships with the filmmakers whose films these pieces were inspired by, but the focus of this book, like every showing I've been to, is simply the art speaking for itself. As Smith says in his closing paragraph,
"No words I use here can prepare you for what you're gonna see inside: artists painting other artists. Andy Warhol would be so proud."
And to a certain extent this is true. I suppose my knowledge hungry mind can take to the Internet if I wish to learn more about the process. My only other small gripe is wishing there was an index in the back of the book with page numbers beside each artist, but perhaps aware of an overall lack of context, a more digital age friendly road was taken, listing the artists' websites beside their names instead.

But on to what works in this book, because the introduction and index are really the only weak points.

The layout is spot on, flowing easily from one movie to the next. Right before Smith's introduction is a haunting Shepard Fairey piece inspired by They Live, which upped the film's want-to-see factor for me ten fold. After the introduction, the first collection of pieces are, naturally, based on Kevin Smith joints, my favorites of which were specifically inspired by Mallrats. The book then moves into some stunning takes on true classics - Dracula, Metropolis, The Wizard of Oz, and Nosferatu (Seriously, Maria, Dorothy Who, and Snowfall Over Poppies became instant favorites, based on the artwork alone) before going Full Cult, delving into Pink Flamingos, Clockwork Orange, Harold and Maude, Dawn of the Dead and all too long section on Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory aka the most terrifying movie of all time. The book continues jumping from film to film until concluding 170 pages later on The Big Lebowski.

One of my favorite things about having each movie grouped together is noticing each artists take on characters' specific costumes. This is especially fun with The Goonies, comparing the cartooned take of Goonies Never Say Die with the detailed paper doll like series consisting of their costumes paired with memorable quotes.

Even just casually flipping through the book, one can't help but notice the true artistry at work from all directions. Each person who contributed to this book has such an incredibly distant style, that no two pieces even begin to look alike. If an artist created more than piece, you instantly recognize the style, but because each of these films has such powerful imagery on its own, the book doesn't become the slightest bit redundant. It's absolutely fascinating to see how each film triggers each artists' imaginations.

I loved seeing how one person would be moved to create a simple, beautiful portrait like (The Big Tourist) Marla, from Fight Club, The Eraser Guys Are Coming from Eternal Sunshine, or Mathilda from The Professional, another compelled to fit entire plots of the movie into one painting like Self Respecting Consumers from Mallrats, or Back To The Future Part 1/Back to the Future Part 2, others inspired by one moment or one image like Temptresses from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Come Play with Us from The Shining or I Can't, Eddie and Hold Me...I Can't, three works inspired by the same moment in Edward Scissorhands, and some who took characters and created something completely new like The Parking Ticket from Star Wars or River Tam and the Fireflies from Firefly.

And of course, we can't forget about the mash-up, one of the stand out delights of Crazy 4 Cult, a novelty that now appears regularly in apparel from companies like RIPT, Tee Fury and Threadless. We see them here in all the Crazy 4 Cult posters as well as 8 Bit Beach Party, a piece I was happy to have the chance to dissect again and LA Plays Itself, a take on a postcard that combines multiple movies set in Los Angeles.

It doesn't stop with paint on canvass. The book shows off mixed media sculptures, stuffed dolls, 3D paper collages, figurines of all kinds and matchbook sketches. While neat to see photographed in the book, they aren't quite the same as seeing them in person and act as a strong motivation for making your way to Crazy 4 Cult 5...or 6....or 7...if you weren't convinced already.

But more so than having the chance to admire the artists and creative teams behind the films, the book is a must own for the feelings it engenders and memories it brings back for the reader. A Goonies inspired map, entitled In Pursuit of Willy, took me back to elementary school, when I would draw elaborate maps filled with obstacles set in Fantasy worlds instead of paying attention in class. Sweets for the Sweet, a Rocky Horror inspired piece, caused me to recall the first time I saw the film in high school and felt simultaneously hip and depraved for loving it as much as I did.

The movies depicted in Crazy4Cult Cult Movie Art were selected because of the gut connection audience goers (no matter how few saw the films upon the initial release) developed to them over time. They are about the weirdos, the outcasts, the unlikely hero, they are quirky, horrific, filled with joy, they are filled with characters we relate to, and characters we want to relate to, they are atypical, they are special and for all of these reasons, I've always adored what Crazy4Cult has done and continues to do, and am thrilled to see a collection like this available for those who don't live in Los Angeles and have never had the chance to attend a showing.

If the book, available now, simply isn't enough for you, Titan is also releasing a Crazy 4 Cult calender next month. If you do live in Los Angeles, Crazy 4 Cult 5 is opening Friday, July 8th, at Gallery 1988, and will run until the 30th. See full post

Friday, June 17, 2011

Top Five Movie Related Games Of E3 2011

 I had the pleasure of attending E3 last week, a beautiful yet confounding place that makes one feel privileged and deprived in equal measure. For those of you in the dark about how E3 works, most of the major new games had demos that were only watchable or playable by the gaming elite, by appointment only. Everyone else wanders over to the Activision Booth to play Modern Warfare 3 or 2K to pounce on Bioshock: Infinite only to find nothing more than a poster as the only proof of their existence. But this does not stop Muse. Sure, I can't speak to games like Uncharted 3 or Skyrim beyond what we've all seen online, but my film bloggery sixth sense successfully managed to track down and get in depth with my most anticipated movie and comic based games. And also helped me spot rando celebrity after rando celebrity (Casper Van Dien, Josh Gomez, Aisha Tyler, Scott Porter and ... Zac Efron?), but that's neither here nor there. So without further ado - my favorite movie related finds of E3 2011.

5. Captain America: Super Soldier

The big story surrounding this game starting back at Wondercon was how it held the potential to not suck. And huzzah, that potential seems to be being met! Nice visuals and environment, stellar voice acting, and fighting mechanics reminiscent of Arkham Asylum or even some recent Prince of Persia, this was the only movie-to-video-game adaptation of its specific ilk shown at the entire conference that I thought I'd actually play again (despite fun enough gameplay and a script by Marv Wolfman, the design and tone of Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters were a big turn off, Cars 2 was cute, but not for me, couldn't care less about Transformers: Dark of the Moon and while the Kirk/Spock co-op in the Star Trek is promising, I didn't get close enough to the game to judge anything for myself.) The free flow style combat in particular got my heart rate elevated for about a half second, which is more than I can say for a lot of the games I tried out over the course of these three days. Sega gets a lot of flack in general for distributing sub-par movie based video games, so I'm very curious to see how this turns out. The demo didn't sell me completely, by any means, but it definitely has me optimistic.

4. Kinect: Star Wars

When Kinect first hit E3 last year, the first thought through my mind and many others, I'm sure, was "So how soon til we get to use the Force?" Well, the answer is now! Or, more accurately, in about six months. Kinect Star Wars uses the motion technology for lightsaber slashing, force throwing, kicking, jumping, and the like, and while I'm still not entirely sold on this tech in a full game (Fable: The Journey, you're my only hope), I gotta admit this demo was a lot more fun than I was expecting. Your right hand controls the saber, your left the force, and sometimes you use both hands together (though where the lightsaber disappears to I don't believe was addressed....) to access the force to its fullest degree. To move forward, you take a step forward and kind of awkwardly lean in that direction and to accidentally roll-jump over an enemy you do some sort of combination of awkward leaning and awkward jumping. I still don't know how I did it, but it wasn't not badass...

The pros? I did feel like I was using the force. I went in the second group during my particular demo, which meant unfortunately to the detriment of my partner, my brain already had the moves down, so I kind of destroyed everything in my path before he had a shot. As the demo progressed, we were supposed to try out new moves like the jump kick! But in lieu of that, I continuing using the force to throw every robot in my path into the walls, the ceiling, each other. Screw jump kicking, HELLO, I HAVE THE FORCE, IMA USE IT, THX. I got a lot of joy out of a tiny five minute demo, not gonna lie.

The cons? Despite what anyone may say, the game is clearly on a rail. Yes, you can choose how you want to engage in combat, as demonstrated by the fact that I ignored the guy taking us through the demo and killed those robots how I wanted to kill those robots, damnit, but it isn't open world, you can't choose where to go. This will make for a supremely fun arcade style game that makes you feel like you are using the force, but doesn't exactly revolutionize gaming or prove that this tech can appeal to hardcore gamers (again, Fable, and Mass Effect 3's voice control, I'm looking at you). Another big con? I was told the game goes through all the universes/movies, which means however many hours of going through allthe universes/ opposed to just the good ones. I don't need to spend anymore time with clone-troopers-JarJar-young-obi-wan than I already have. Seriously. Get it away from me. This may be a deal breaker. When Star Wars: Kinect: The Original Trilogy comes out however? I'll be there. Conclusion? Jury's still out on whether or not this will be a buy, but I did enjoy the crap out of throwing enemies around by merely raising my hand.

3. Lord of the Rings: War of the North

As someone who is not a fan of the past Lord of the Rings games, I wasn't even planning on trying this one out, but once I heard playing the demo got you entrance into the Lord of the Rings swanky, exclusive open bar/baron of beef/live orchestra over game footage extravaganza in the south lobby that I had been coveting all week, I couldn't get there fast enough. Good work, Warner Brothers Interactive and Snowblind Studios, good work.

The game is set during the movies, specifically during The War of the Ring, which concludes in Return of the King, but way up North. We were playing co-op and could choose to either be a human, elf or dwarf. I clearly picked the elf, cause it was a chick, and hello. Knowing absolutely nothing about this game, I just jumped in and started fighting, healing my teammates when they got hurt, shooting arrows at the baddies in the distance and staff bashing the baddies who were in my face face, and this was all having no idea what I was doing, what the controls were, what the end game was - literally all I knew was that wine was in my very near future. The game was so unexpectedly intuitive, that I didn't need any of that. I had a fantastic time figuring it out on my own and played for WAY longer than I probably should have. The only reason we died and had to stop playing was because whoever chose the Dwarf didn't pick up on the fact that he needed to save his teammates when they were dying and effed it up for all of us. Jerky, selfish dwarf. You know who you are. Bottom line is even without knowing all the details, I was almost sold - on brief gameplay and graphics alone. Once reviews come out around its August 24th release, I'll know for sure if I'll be making that purchase.

2. Arkham City

Okay, FINE, it's not technically based on a movie, which is why I won't be giving it the number one slot, but mastering the art of the comic book video game, especially one that has been brought to the big screen as eloquently as Batman has, is no easy feat. Arkham Asylum was a pleasant surprise because it worked so hard to be as specific to the character and universe of Batman as possible, that despite the hand to hand combat being somewhat less than impressive, the game still worked fantastically overall. Rocksteady Studios has hands down taken the universe and gameplay to the next level with the sequel. I watched a fifteen to twenty minute demo that showed off the awesome that is playing as Catwoman, then, thanks to some crafty maneuvering, and by crafty maneuvering, I do mean sheer luck, got my hands on the game for a solid twenty minutes, thus getting to see a lot more of the world that the standard twelve minute demo normally allowed. During this time, I hacked into the Tiger soldier radio system, went off track and nabbed a Riddler trophy, attacked a few giant groups of goons, used Batman's detective skills to uncover some vital ballistics information, used the new gliding system to fly around Gotham City and revisited one of all time favorite game mechanics - Batman's stealth takedowns.

I was positively giddy, being in this world again, especially now with the introduction of a solid open world, being able to fight more than one henchman at once (probably the most glaring combat omission from the first game), being able to use the surrounding environment in combat, new gadgets, and entire challenge rooms that open as you collect Riddler trophies. But what has me most excited? Hands down, getting to play as Catwoman. Her mechanics are slinkier, more stylish and yes, sexier, than Batman's, all while maintaining that strong sense of control I've grown to like so much while controlling the Dark Knight. She crawls, she whips, she's fast, and delving into her gameplay adds 10-15 hours to the game, which, if you only stay on course with the main storyline and play only as Batman, clocks in at 20-25 hours. But because playing her does enhance the overall story and certain areas are only accessible by her, the game developers highly recommend taking her for a spin. Confirmed new characters include The Penguin, Two Face, the aforementioned Catwoman and Hugo Strange, plus I got the strong sense that Robin may be making an appearance as well, though no one from the studio would confirm or deny. For more details on the game, arriving on my doorstep immediately upon its October release, head here.

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 Screenshot

1. Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7

Say what you will about casual gaming, but no one can deny that TT Studios has nailed the art of the movie based video game. Placing you directly into the story with extremely user friendly co-op gameplay, their titles have always been easiest to play with your movie obsessed, if not video game obsessed, friends, while acting as a completely enjoyable respite for the more "hardcore" gamers, a nice break from shooting zombies in the face and getting blown up by faceless enemy forces. Since Lego Star Wars: The Original Trilogy came out, I have been ecstatic for the possibilities, most specifically one - Lego Harry Potter.

Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 was, dorky as this is, a mini dream come true for me, both because the Harry Potter Universe is one I'll always choose to spend more time in, and because 1-4 meant eventually 5-7 aka when shit gets real. When the chance arose to play a level (Godric's Hollow, Bathilda Bagshot, Grave of Lily & James Potter, oh my!) and chat a bit with lead game designer and all around awesome dude, Arthur Parsons, I seized the opportunity. So what did I learn?

During the first four movies, the gang doesn't really venture much outside of Hogwarts, so Hogwarts acts as your main gameboard, Diagon Alley as the menu. But because so much of movies 5-7 take place outside of Hogwarts, the universe has expanded to such an extent that you can go take the train to London if you are so inclined. The new game is loaded with new mechanics, character specific abilities, and spells, 170 playable characters including Bellatrix, Slughorn, Umbridge, Lavender Brown, and Arthur Weasley, and some out of the box levels that will have you squirming with excitement. Parsons is a HUGE Harry fan, so when he heard about the game being developed while he was working on Lego: Batman, he jumped at the chance to be involved. And having a true fan at the helm makes a huge difference. Parsons let on that even more than the last game, this one would have inside nods to the books that will seem perhaps like made up additions to those that have only seen the movies, but will help make the game even more of a special experience for those of us who have devoured the books. He also confirmed the Deathly Hallows flying motorcycle level, the Order of the Phoenix flying on the Thames level, and perhaps the coolest tidbit of all, a 2D platformer, pop up book style, Limbo like level depicting the Tale of the Three Brothers. Plus, expect The Epilogue to rightfully appear as a bonus level.

Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 hits stores around the time of the DVD/Blu-Ray release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two and I will own it and love it and marry it. See full post

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Which Of These Super 8 Actors is Most Likely To Break Out?

Whenever the cast of a movie consists almost entirely of unknown youngins, however critically acclaimed or shamed, whatever number it hits opening weekend, one thing is for certain - the film will jumpstart at least one, if not multiple fresh faced careers. It's always fun to look back on kid driven movies of yore and observe who succumbed to Child Actor Syndrome, who left the business, and who managed to break out in some way, still working to this day, behind the camera or in front of it, as the lead or the sidekick, the villain or the love interest, on television, in the movies, on stage or creating their own work on the internet. So we decided to take a look at the kids of JJ Abrams' flawed but sweetly fun Super 8 to try and figure out who has the best chances of moving on to a long and lucious career in the entertainment industry. As a bonus, we've thrown in some possible directions their careers could take, based on potential counterparts that have already made the transition.

Zach Mills - Preston
Age: 15
IMDB Credits: 26
While not featured enough in the movie to get a real sense of his ability as an actor, Mills boasts an already impressive resume, proving he's is in it to win it, for now at least. And with those floppy ears and lanky frame on his side, there's always the possibility of a bright future playing the dorky friend until he can graduate to playing the quirky, dirty and/or smarmy character roles. In terms of romantic lead potential, I wouldn't say that's necessary in the cards for young Mills, but hey, that's not a bad thing, just ask Jackie Earle Haley. This type is valuable and Mills is already well on his way to cornering that market for his age group.
Possible directions: Jackie Earle Haley, Lukas Haas, or Wil Wheaton

Gabriel Basso - Martin
Age: 16
IMDB Credits: 11
Based on his performance in Super 8, I would have guessed Basso was exactly like Martin, the case with most child actors. So you can imagine my surprise when I found out not only is he is a regular on The Big C, but he plays a character nothing not even remotely a little bit like his role in Super 8, proving the 16 year old already has some epic range. Plus, once the period thick rims are removed, we start to notice Basso's intriguing look and wonder if Sam Worthington will need a teenage version of himself on the screen anytime soon. Based on The Big C and Super 8 simply on their own, perhaps no one would think twice about Basso as a performer to be reckoned with, but if there's anything rare in kid actors, it's the ability to actually act, so I'm already expecting lots more to come from this one.
Possible directions: Josh Brolin or Christian Bale

More after the jump!

See full post

Friday, June 10, 2011

How To Spend Your Los Angeles Friday [Events]

Well I found out about these too late, didn't I?

For you movie lovin East siders out there, tonight the Downtown Independent has gone Full Epic with a double feature of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and Weird Science, complete with drinking game and beer pong. What?!?!

"Fourscore minutes ago... we, your forefathers, were brought forth upon a most excellent adventure conceived by our new friends, Bill and Ted. These two great gentlemen are dedicated to a proposition which was true in my time, just as it's true today. Be excellent to each other. And... PARTY ON, DUDES!"

Doors at 7pm.
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure at 8pm.
Weird Science at 10pm.
Rooftop Bar & Beer Pong til 2am.

$10 Advance, includes one drink on the house.
$15 At the Door (if available).

"If you can't get a date, make one!"

A sampling of drinking rules:
1. Whenever someone in the movie says "dude" you drink.
2. Take a drink every time you hear Anthony Michael Hall's lisp.
More to come!

Seriously. I want to go to there. Tickets.

East side too far? Fear not, cult comedy fans of the West side, there's something for you too.


TONIGHT, Friday, June 10th Gallery1988 Venice will open "Camp Firewood: Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Wet Hot American Summer," with over 60 artists paying tribute to the classic cult comedy. And we're insanely privileged to have the movie's director and co-writer, David Wain, to host the art show! DREAMS DO COME TRUE.
The show runs through June 29th.

Opening reception: TONIGHT, Friday, June 10th from 7-10PM. 

214 Pier Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90405

The Hero Complex Star Trek Double Feature is sold out, so you know, don't worry about that one. See full post

Thursday, June 9, 2011

And Muse's Favorite Game of E3 2011 Is...

I got to see a 15-20 minute gameplay demo and play the game itself for a solid 20 minutes and am in love. A big reason I am so ecstatic here is because most of the other games I tried and loved I already knew I would love - this came as a very pleasant surprise, as I think it VASTLY improves upon the original. More on this soon. For now - enjoy the video :)

Note: I didn't get to play any of the behind closed doors games, so Uncharted 3, Bioshock: Infinite, Skyrim, and Mass Effect 3 weren't in the running here. See full post

Summer Reading List

As a Literature major, I don't have enough time to read unassigned books or to read contemporary literature during the school year. But now that I'm on Summer vacation I'm excited to read new(er) works purely for pleasure! Check out my Summer reading list below (I'm gonna try really hard to avoid laziness and read at least half of these great books). Hopefully there's a book on my list that strikes your interest. Also, feel free to suggest titles to me!

Just Kids, Patti Smith
Oh this memoir sounds so cool.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon
I know, it's ridiculous that I haven't read this already. Whatever, don't judge me!

2666, Roberto BolaƱo
This book sounds like surreal, postmodern awesomeness and I've been meaning to read it for years.

Daughters of the River Huong, Uyen Nicole Duong
A novel that combines family history along with the turbulent and rich history of Vietnam.

Jane was Here, Sarah Kernochan
A mystery thriller novel from an Academy Award winning screenwriter and filmmaker.

Sinister Resonance, David Toop
This book examines the presence of sound and listening throughout numerous texts and artworks. Really though, it sounds fascinating.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, JK Rowling
Clearly, I've read this one before. I'd just like to reread it in preparation for the final film! See full post