Dec. 14, 2014 | 2:11 p.m.
SyFy’s new space-based miniseries “Ascension” begins its three-episode life Monday, offering a fictionalized take on real-world history. In 1963, John F. Kennedy proposed a covert space mission dubbed Project Orion, designed to save the human race from the destruction of Earth following the Cold War. The series, created by Adrian A. Cruz and Philip Levens (“Smallville”), posits that the mission took place, sending hundreds of people on a century-long voyage to populate a new world. Almost 50 years into the journey, however, a young woman’s murder prompts the ship’s population to reconsider the voyage in a new light. The ensemble cast includes “Battlestar Galactica’s” Tricia Helfer, Brian Van Holt (“Cougar Town”), Al Sapienza (“Person of Interest”), Ryan Robbins (“Falling Skies”) and Brad Carter as Stockyard Master John Stokes, who helps control and keep stock of the food and supplies for […]
Dec. 14, 2014 | 12:43 p.m.
With “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” arriving in theaters Wednesday, a number of the film’s stars have hit the promotional trail — with even the fearsome dragon Smaug turning in a memorable appearance on “The Colbert Report.” Not to be outdone, Bilbo Baggins actor Martin Freeman hosted “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, and in a brilliant segment, spoofed not only Peter Jackson’s J.R.R. Tolkien films, but also Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s memorable comedy “The Office,” in which Freeman played the likeable, down-on-his-luck Tim Canterbury. Watch the sketch below. Fans of the British “Office” will recognize some memorable lines and scenes directly reference dialog and situations from the series, with Tolkien creations standing in for some of the original characters. The final film in the “Hobbit” series, “Five Armies” picks up where last year’s “The Desolation of Smaug” […]
Dec. 12, 2014 | 4:52 p.m.
THE PLAYER My relationship with Nintendo is maybe not as healthy as it should be. This realization comes to me as the year draws to a close, when one is pressed to discuss the most innovative or thoughtful interactive experiences of the year. Games such as the haunting “The Vanishing of Ethan Carter” or the whimsically lonely “Broken Age: Act 1” are some that immediately spring to mind. These are titles that made the same sort of lasting impression as a TV season of “Orphan Black” or a movie screening of “Big Hero 6,” which was full of unexpected considerations on loss. Like the getting-by struggles at the heart of hip-hop act Run the Jewels, these are all examples of pop culture with layers, where revisiting is encouraged. Yet there is one Wii U game in heavy rotation that I […]
Dec. 12, 2014 | 12:51 p.m.
The villainous dragon Smaug brought fire, smoke and more than a few zings to “The Colbert Report” as Stephen Colbert’s guest on Thursday’s episode of the Comedy Central show. Colbert, an avid fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings,” introduced Smaug as “the last great fire-drake of the Third Age.” “My guest tonight has armor like tenfold shields, teeth like swords, claws like spears, a tail like a thunderbolt, wings like a hurricane and breath like death,” Colbert said, quoting Smaug’s self-description in Tolkien’s writing. “Though he might want to leave that last part off his Tinder profile.” Smaug then makes his CG appearance, thundering through the wall of Colbert’s stage and bellowing, “The chiefest and greatest of calamities is in the house!” Smaug, of course, is the evil and greedy antagonist in “The Hobbit: […]
Dec. 12, 2014 | 10:48 a.m.
The first trailer for “The Divergent Series: Insurgent” is out, offering a glimpse of Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) in action as they prepare to fight back against the cruel autocrat who tried to kill them in the first film. “Insurgent,” based on the second novel in Veronica Roth’s bestselling YA trilogy, follows young heroine Beatrice “Tris” Prior, a girl who discovers she doesn’t fit neatly into one of five rigidly divided societal factions in a dystopian future version of Chicago, but rather has aptitude for multiple factions — a dangerous trait known as divergence. INTERACTIVE: ‘Insurgent’ 3-D posters In the first film, “Divergent,” which drew more than $288 million at the international box office earlier this year, Tris tried to hide her abilities and joined Dauntless, the faction based on bravery, where she met love interest Four (James). […]
Dec. 11, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.
“The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness,” a documentary that offers a rare behind-the-scenes look at the famed Studio Ghibli in Japan, is out on digital platforms this week. Hero Complex readers get an exclusive first look at a scene from the film, which depicts the inner workings of the animation studio behind the acclaimed films “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Princess Mononoke” and the Academy Award winner “Spirited Away,” among others. In “The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness,” director Mami Sunada (“Death of a Japanese Salesman”) follows legendary director and Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki (“The Wind Rises”), co-founder and director Isao Takahata (“Grave of the Fireflies”), and producer Toshio Suzuki over the course of a year. Sunada documented the studio’s rush to complete Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises” and Takahata’s “The Tale of The Princess Kaguya,” both released in 2013. The exclusive clip […]
Dec. 10, 2014 | 5:26 p.m.
One of the most controversial decisions “The Hobbit” filmmakers made was the addition of Silvan elf warrior Tauriel, an entirely new character not present in J.R.R. Tolkien’s story. And perhaps nobody was more suspicious of changes than Evangeline Lilly, the “Lost” alumna who portrayed the new character in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” in theaters next week. “I was adamant that I wouldn’t see [‘The Lord of the Rings’] films because there was no way that anybody was going to be able to re-create what I had imagined in my mind on the screen,” the self-described Tolkien purist told Hero Complex last year. But the efforts of screenwriters Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens to craft a character whose presence “didn’t feel jarring” and “felt like she belonged” in […]
Dec. 10, 2014 | 4:58 a.m.
THE PLAYER The young, college-age man meant to praise Telltale Games’ emotionally wrenching take on “The Walking Dead” during a Q&A session Saturday night at the first-ever PlayStation Experience, a fan convention in Las Vegas largely dedicated to hyping mainstream and indie titles due out for Sony’s game platforms. “I was crying like a little girl,” he said, admiring the game’s effectiveness in one particularly difficult-to-stomach scene. An audible gasp shot through the room and a woman in the audience immediately spoke up.“I didn’t cry,” she yelled. Melissa Hutchison, the voice actress whose character was responsible for the tears, was next to chime in. “I cried like a grown woman,” she said, inspiring cheers from the crowd. If one is going to speak at a video game event in 2014, it’s best to first carefully consider the remark. As the […]
Dec. 09, 2014 | 8:08 a.m.
Adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s 300-page story “The Hobbit” into a movie trilogy gave the filmmakers plenty of room to develop supporting characters into major players, not least of whom was Bard the Bowman, portrayed on the big screen by Luke Evans. Evans, whose previous titles include “Dracula Untold,” “Fast & Furious 6″ and “Immortals,” debuted as the devoted father in Middle-earth’s impoverished Esgaroth in last year’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” The film saw Bard, who possesses the last black arrow capable of killing the dragon Smaug (played through performance-capture technology by Benedict Cumberbatch), smuggling Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and his company of dwarves into Lake-town — one step closer to reclaiming their homeland. But Bard’s decision to help Thorin and his company inadvertently leads to the destruction of his home after the dwarves unleash the dragon’s wrath. “The Hobbit: […]
Dec. 06, 2014 | 9:03 a.m.
THE PLAYER Compared to galas honoring film, television and music, awards saluting the video game industry are a more casual, T-shirt-and-jeans affair. One should also come prepared to watch plenty of clips full of splattered blood and splintered bodies. Yet even a young and relaxed medium has heritage acts, and it was industry legends Mario and Link (the latter the hero of “The Legend of Zelda”), who were called upon to open and close this year’s Game Awards in Las Vegas. The classic characters anchored a broadcast in which venerable video game studio Nintendo stole the spotlight from more powerful, more violent competitors. That is, if one is judging The Game Awards by the trophies awarded. During the three-hour event, which was shown online and on each major home video game console, previews for upcoming games appeared more celebrated than the games released in the […]