Dec. 19, 2014 | 4:36 p.m.
THE PLAYER Congratulations, video game community. You have graduated. Like film and television before you, you are now mainstream. In the same way there are those who see lots of films and those who only see a few films, there are those who play lots of games and those who only play a handful. Some play more, some play less, but the video game community now belongs to us — all of us. Resistance is futile, but that isn’t stopping purists from trying, desperately, to fight back. They long for a time when video games were underground and playing itself was an act of rebellion, and no doubt the past year in games has been a tough one for them. LIST: Todd Martens’ best video games of 2014 Changes are not just afoot, but are in fact galloping over long-held […]
Dec. 19, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.
THE PLAYER One of the most unforgettable video game characters of 2014 was a princess and one whose name most Americans would recognize: Snow White. Only this version of Snow White isn’t exactly similar to the royal in fairy tales of yore. A star of Telltale Games’ “The Wolf Among Us,” this Snow White is a tough, no-nonsense New Yorker. The Snow of “The Wolf Among Us” is a rarity in video games, in part because she’s a woman and in part because Telltale has crafted a game in which Snow’s every word can send the player into a second-guessing headache. LIST: Todd Martens’ best video games of 2014 Snow also couldn’t have come at a better time. Much of the past year in gaming was marred by a quasi-Internet-driven movement known as “gamergate.” The phrase was almost immediately associated […]
Dec. 19, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.
THE PLAYER New faces dominated interactive entertainment in 2014, from a tiny princess adrift in a puzzling kingdom to a Native American lost in the Alaskan arctic. Those looking for something familiar, take heart, an Italian plumber still had a role in one of the best games of the past 12 months. Here’s a look back. “Monument Valley” (Ustwo). Miniature kingdoms — some in the sky, some in meadows, some in black holes — toy with our perception as we guide a princess through forgotten lands. Each tap of the screen reveals an unexpected perspective, all of them suitable for framing. “Framed” (Love Shack). A comic book sprung to life; panels can be slid and rotated to drastically change the action. This is an uniquely mobile experience and one that has the player acting like the director of an animated […]
Dec. 18, 2014 | 1:47 p.m.
Of all the visually striking sequences in “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” one of the most arresting comes well into the film, the final installment in Peter Jackson’s latest fantasy trilogy, where dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield is wrestling with the greed and arrogance that threaten to rob him of his honor. At a special Hero Complex fan screening of “Five Armies” on Dec. 11 at New York’s AMC 34th Street 14 & IMAX, Thorin actor Richard Armitage explained how that scene came together — it was born out of collaboration between Armitage and Jackson. “There were so many moments of experimentation throughout the course of filming, but this was toward the end of the shoot,” said Armitage, seated beside his “Hobbit” costar Lee Pace. “It was just a simple stage direction which said, ‘Thorin sees his reflection […]
Dec. 18, 2014 | 1:40 p.m.
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” filmmakers Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh are bidding Middle-earth goodbye after six films. “Five Armies,” which caps “The Hobbit” prequel trilogy, is in theaters, and though director Jackson says he’s “too close” to the movies to know if they’re good, fans of the series appear to be showing up in force at the box office. “Five Armies” grossed more than $11 million in domestic ticket sales for opening-night showings Tuesday, in addition to the roughly $125 million it has earned overseas. For Jackson and Boyens, who spoke to Hero Complex via phone prior to the film’s release, it’s been a long journey from “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” which introduced moviegoers to writer J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy world more than a decade ago, to […]
Dec. 18, 2014 | 12:40 p.m.
While interviewing writer Joe Keatinge and artist Leila Del Duca about their creator-owned Image Comics series “Shutter,” the first thing that stands out is how often they make each other laugh. There’s a relaxed, friendly energy between the two collaborators that is clearly evident, even through the filter of a conference call, and that personal connection has translated to outstanding creative chemistry on the comic-book page. Keatinge and Del Duca have two very different histories with the medium. A Los Angeles native, Keatinge grew up in an area heavily populated with comic shops, and can’t recall a time when comics weren’t a part of his life. Del Duca was raised in Missoula and Billings, Mont., where comic shops were scarce. She was exposed to the medium through the Internet and the early days of webcomics, but it wasn’t until college […]
Dec. 18, 2014 | 11:23 a.m.
Even for the stars of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” the film’s impressive visual scale can come as something of a surprise. At a special Hero Complex fan screening of the film on Dec. 11 at New York’s AMC 34th Street 14 & IMAX, actors Lee Pace, who plays the Elven king Thandruil, and Richard Armitage, who stars as the dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield, explained what it’s like to watch director Peter Jackson’s vision unspool on screen after having spent so much time on the New Zealand set. “You see a lot of stuff that you never knew was there when you were shooting it,” Pace said. “I remember talking to Pete about the army, ‘It’s going to be a big army, right?’ ‘Oh yeah, it’s going to be big.’… Then I watch the movie back and […]
Dec. 17, 2014 | 3:33 p.m.
Peter Jackson’s big-screen adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” is coming to a close with “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” which opens in U.S. theaters tonight. “Five Armies” caps a saga consisting of six feature films set in Tolkien’s elaborate fantasy world Middle-earth — a project that began more than a decade ago with Jackson’s acclaimed “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The third film in that series, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” won 11 Oscars, including best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay and best visual effects. Although “Five Armies” does not seem destined for similar awards gold, fans of Tolkien and Jackson have already turned out in force overseas; the film has earned more than $122 million at the worldwide box office since opening last week. “Five Armies” […]
Dec. 17, 2014 | 4:00 a.m.
Richard Armitage came to the New Zealand set of Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” primed for combat. The concluding installment of Jackson’s three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel features clashing tribes of warriors racing into conflict over an unimaginably vast treasure inside the mountain kingdom of Erebor. Armitage, the English actor who plays hirsute dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield, has been preparing for battle since his acting school days with some very talented classmates. “One of the reasons I went to drama school was because I really wanted to learn stage fighting,” a clean-shaven Armitage explained recently. “Weirdly enough, David Oyelowo was my fight partner at drama school — Benedict was maybe two years behind me…. We won so many competitions together. I’ve still got the trophy on my mantel. It’s a little helmet on a […]
Dec. 16, 2014 | 12:09 p.m.
Few actors have been a part of as many celebrated genre stories as Andy Serkis. Following the success of the sequel “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” the English actor is slated to appear in next year’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” But if there were a pivotal moment in Serkis’ career, it was his portrayal of the tragic creature Gollum in Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy more than a decade ago — a role that paved the way for the next chapter in his career and pioneered the performance-capture acting and technology that served as a launchpad for his London studio, the Imaginarium. Now, Serkis’ work on “The Hobbit” marks another turning point in his career — the transition from the screen to the director’s chair. In addition to […]