Aug. 30, 2014 | 7:00 a.m.

’80 Days': Jules Verne-inspired game brings a more global perspective

Travel by land, by sea and even mechanical horse in mobile adventure "80 Days/" (Inkle)
THE PLAYER Back in grade school, I proposed doing a book report on “Gold Rush!” — a computer game first released in the late ’80s. My teacher thought I was trying to pull a fast one. Yet the truth of the matter is “Gold Rush!” contained more text and actual history than the heavily illustrated dinosaur book I chose instead. But the dinosaur sketches were encased in binding. “Gold Rush!” had disks. There was a day when the most popular games were essentially interactive novels — point, click, read and type. That day was killed by the first-person shooter, which ushered in an era during which the most dominant of games were competitive and reflex-based. But there’s good news for those who believe a written sentence is more powerful than digital bullets or the ability for players to hijack a […]
Aug. 30, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.

‘Doctor Who': Samuel Anderson begins his journey with the Doctor

'Doctor Who' Samuel Anderson (featured image)
Samuel Anderson found out he’d landed a gig on “Doctor Who” the day after Thanksgiving last year. He was hanging out with friends, listening to loud music and generally relaxing when his agent called. He took the call alone on the balcony and found out he was going to play Danny Pink. “I went back inside and told my friends ‘Bloody hell, I just got “Doctor Who,”‘” Anderson said during a phone call from England the day before his first episode, “Into the Dalek” was set to debut. “Just then my phone rang again. It was my agent again, who said, ‘Don’t tell anyone.'” Lucky for Anderson, that momentary slip didn’t hurt him. “My friends are too cool for spoilers,” he said. Anderson wasn’t in the first episode of the new season, “Deep Breath,” but that doesn’t mean his character, […]
Aug. 29, 2014 | 12:00 p.m.

‘Divergent': Shailene Woodley, Theo James promise emotional ‘Insurgent’

Shailene Woodley kicked off 2014 with the Sundance Film Festival premiere of “White Bird in a Blizzard,” the Gregg Araki film in which she plays a teenager whose mother unexpectedly disappears. Two months later, she was forging her own path in a future Chicago in “Divergent,” the first big-screen adaptation of the bestselling young adult novels written by Veronica Roth. By midsummer, she was grappling with first love and a terminal cancer diagnosis in the breakout hit “The Fault in Our Stars.” But neither her demanding work schedule nor the attendant onslaught of exposure Woodley’s received appears to have created much stress or tension for the young actress, who has developed a reputation in Hollywood for her candor and earthiness. Both qualities were on display when the 22-year-old sat down with Hero Complex last month to discuss the August arrival […]
Aug. 28, 2014 | 6:49 p.m.

‘As Above, So Below’ makers find horror, Hell lurking beneath Paris

Perdita Weeks in a scene from the film "As Above, So Below." (Universal Pictures)
Set in the catacombs beneath Paris, Legendary’s new horror film “As Above, So Below” sees a group of adventures, led by enterprising scholar Scarlett Marlowe (Perdita Weeks), set out to reclaim the mythic philosopher’s stone, a powerful alchemical artifact said to possess the ability to turn base metals into gold. But the expedition takes a surprising, and sinister, turn when Marlowe and her companions seemingly encounter horrors from their pasts, and possibly enter the gates of Hell. The film is the latest project from the producing-directing team of Drew and John Dowdle, who most recently fashioned  2010’s “Devil,” a supernatural thriller about five strangers trapped in an elevator and the evil lurking among them. But the pair has a history with horror — John, a New York University film school graduate, and Drew, a former mergers and acquisitions specialist on […]
Aug. 28, 2014 | 11:48 a.m.

Batman looms over the five boroughs in New York Comic-Con poster

The 2014 New York Comic-Con poster showcases Batman. (DC)
Gotham’s most famous crime fighter is featured on the new poster for New York Comic Con. Current “Detective Comics” co-writer and artist Francis Manapul, known for his work on such titles as “The Flash,” “Justice League,” “Witchblade” and “The Necromancer,” created the image for the upcoming pop culture expo, which will take place at Manhattan’s Javits Center Oct. 9-12. The poster superimposes a determined looking Batman over a map of the five boroughs; the iconic vigilante marks his 75th anniversary this year. Although it began as a more narrowly focused celebration of comic books, like its behemoth West Coast rival, San Diego’s Comic-Con International, NYCC is increasingly dominated by pop culture – especially television. Last year, an estimated 130,000 fans descended on New York’s far west side to attend the four-day confab featuring some 400 panels, screenings and special events. […]
Aug. 28, 2014 | 11:16 a.m.

‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1′ posters spotlight rebel warriors

Natalie Dormer as Cressida in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1." (Lionsgate)
A series of new character posters spotlight the “rebel warriors” featured in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,” the next installment in the blockbuster film franchise, which is set to arrive in theaters  Nov. 21. The posters feature Liam Hemsworth’s Gale, in addition to a host of new faces joining the series with the third movie, including Mahershala Ali as Boggs, Evan Ross as Messalla, Wes Chatham as Castor, Elden Henson as Pollux and “Game of Thrones” favorite Natalie Dormer as Cressida. Click through the gallery above to see each of the images. Last month, a new teaser was released for the film showing how Katniss Everdeen reluctantly finds herself the symbol of rebellion in the world of Panem, and the target of ruthless President Snow. The clip opens with a conversation between former games maker Plutarch Heavensbee (the […]
Aug. 26, 2014 | 1:04 p.m.

‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.': See photo of Lucy Lawless as Isabelle Hartley

Lucy Lawless in "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (ABC)
Marvel has released the first image of Lucy Lawless as Isabelle Hartley, the new character she’ll play on the second season of ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Hartley is a seasoned S.H.I.E.L.D. veteran helping to rebuild the organization after its spectacular destruction — a key point in Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” that directly impacted the ongoing narrative of the show and the lives of Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his roster of operatives: Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), Skye (Chloe Bennet), Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). Lawless, beloved by fans for her turns in such series as “Xena: Warrior Princess” and “Battlestar Galactica,” is one of several new actors joining the show’s ensemble. Reed Diamond, Nick Blood, Henry Simmons and Kyle MacLachlan will each play a role in “S.H.I.E.L.D.’s” second […]
Aug. 26, 2014 | 11:29 a.m.

‘Doctor Who': ‘Deep Breath’ set for Blu-Ray release Sept. 9

Peter Capaldi poses for a photo in New York on Aug. 13. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
“Deep Breath,” the feature-length “Doctor Who” season-premiere episode that debuted on BBC America on Aug. 23, will be coming to Blu-ray and DVD on Sept. 9. Directed by Ben Wheatley, the episode was written by current “Doctor Who” showrunner Steven Moffat and set the Doctor and his companion, Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman), on very familiar territory in Victorian London — the city is threatened first by a rampaging T. Rex and then by repair bots run amok, harvesting human organs for their own purposes. The installment marked the beginning of Peter Capaldi’s tenure as the cosmic time-traveler, though the Scottish actor, best known for his role as a foul-mouthed government official in the political comedy “The Thick of It,” is no stranger to the “Doctor Who” universe. He appeared in the 2008 episode “The Fires of Pompeii” alongside the 10th Doctor, […]
Aug. 25, 2014 | 4:01 p.m.

‘Mission: Impossible': New Tom Cruise actioner heads into production

Tom Cruise is embarking on a new mission. Production kicked off Monday on the fifth film in the “Mission: Impossible” franchise; the upcoming release will see Cruise reprise one of his most successful roles, super-spy Ethan Hunt, for director Christopher McQuarrie. The actor is also producing the film, which McQuarrie wrote with Drew Pearce and Will Staples. The production is scheduled to shoot in Vienna, Morocco and London and will see franchise veterans Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames join Cruise on screen. Alec Baldwin and Rebecca Ferguson are also set to appear in the film. The previous film in the series, 2011’s “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,” directed by Brad Bird, earned nearly $700 million at the global box office to rank as Cruise’s highest-grossing film. Since then, though, the actor has appeared in several projects that had […]
Aug. 25, 2014 | 12:54 p.m.

‘Action Comics’ No. 1: Superman debut issue fetches record sale price

Superman just set a new world’s record. An original copy of “Action Comics” No. 1, which introduced the world to the iconic hero, fetched $3.2 million on EBay for owner Darren Adams of Pristine Comics in Federal Way, Wash., making it the most expensive comic book ever sold. The comic, published April 18, 1938, already has made history in a number of ways, of course — it is recognized as the publication that brought the world its first comic book superhero, created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster when they were still high school students in Cleveland in the early 1930s. The copy that was sold was in excellent condition, which merited the high price. ComicConnect, an online auction site, purchased the issue from Adams. In the comics, the cape-wearing, crime-fighting Kryptonian paved the way for the likes of […]
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