Nov. 22, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.

‘That Dragon, Cancer’ brings a serious real-life ordeal to gaming

"That Dragon, Cancer" brings a little magic to a serious topic. (Ryan Green & Josh Larson)
THE PLAYER One of the first things you hear in Ryan Green’s video game is a voice mail. Though it’s not a horror game, the sound isn’t just frightening; it’s borderline bone-chilling. A woman leaving a message for her husband sounds exasperated. She’s leaving the doctor’s office and coming home without any answers. The couple’s baby boy is vomiting. Maybe it’s this? Maybe it’s that? There is no diagnosis. And why is the child’s head always cocked to one side? Everyone is thinking the worst, but no one is saying it. At this point the player can see a glimpse of the boy, whose name is Joel. The voice mail, it turns out, was a memory, and Joel, now older, is on a slide in a park. He’s almost 5. His older brother wants to know why he doesn’t talk. […]
Nov. 21, 2014 | 2:52 p.m.

‘Star Wars': Vader is triumphant in Lego’s ‘New Yoda Chronicles’ video

Darth on Disney XD
“Star Wars” headlines are in no short supply these days. The Star Wars Celebration will be in Anaheim next year, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Lost Missions” was just released on video, and fans are salivating over any tidbit offered about J.J. Abrams‘ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” But for those who want a fun fix of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and the rest, Lego Star Wars has been offering up a different take on George Lucas’ vision under the title of “The New Yoda Chronicles.” Above is an exclusive clip from “Clash of the Skywalkers,” the final chapter in the four-part “Yoda” series. The comedic tales are set in the prequel universe and feature Jedi Master Yoda in new adventures. The Emperor sends Vader to destroy Luke, while Yoda leads Jedi and padawans in a fight to stop […]
Nov. 21, 2014 | 10:48 a.m.

‘Strange Magic’ trailer offers singing elves, fairies and goblins

Dawn (Meredith Anne Bull) is crazy for love; her sister Marianne (Evan Rachel Wood) takes a decidedly different stance in "Strange Magic." (Lucasfilm)
Disney has released the first trailer for the upcoming Lucasfilm animated musical “Strange Magic,” offering a glimpse of the movie’s eccentric world of fairies and goblins. The film, inspired by William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” pits the magical folk (sparkly fairies and elves) against the Dark Forest’s mysterious creatures (goblins and other troll-like creatures) in a battle over a dangerous potion. Based on a story by “Star Wars” mastermind George Lucas, “Strange Magic” will feature modern-day pop songs from the last six decades. The trailer features covers of “Wild Thing,” “Say Hey (I Love You)” and a rather grating rendition of “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch.” (Check out the trailer below) Gary Rydstrom, a seven-time Academy Award-winner for sound and sound effects editing, is directing the film from a screenplay penned by David Berenbaum (“Elf”), Irene Mecchi (“Brave,” “The Lion […]
Nov. 20, 2014 | 2:43 p.m.

‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay’ director on Jennifer Lawrence and Philip Seymour Hoffman

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen; Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee. (Lionsgate)
Inside filmmaker Francis Lawrence’s West L.A. office sits a framed collection of arrows with an inscription reading, “May the odds be ever in your favor,” a signature line that fans would immediately recognize from “Hunger Games” lore. The director received the gift for his work on last year’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” which saw him take the reins on Lionsgate’s blockbuster franchise from original director Gary Ross. With the release this weekend of the third movie in the series, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,” the odds would continue to be in Lawrence’s favor. The film, with Jennifer Lawrence reprising her starring role as headstrong archer Katniss Everdeen, is on track to break boxoffice records, possibly collecting as much as $160 million in just three days of release, according to some early estimates. “Mockingjay” sees the leaders of […]
Nov. 19, 2014 | 2:03 p.m.

‘Legends of the Knight': Batman inspires ordinary heroes in documentary

A scene from "Legends of the Knight." (Brett Culp Films)
Filmmakers and comic book creators have taken Batman to some dark and scary places in recent years, but a new documentary steps away from the grim and gritty to examine the Dark Knight’s bright side as the character inspires people to do good. “Legends of the Knight,” out this week on DVD and video on demand, weaves together the true stories of ordinary heroes, including a man who dons the cape and cowl to visit children’s hospitals; a journalist whose love of superheroes offers her courage as she lives with muscular dystrophy; a town that comes together to grant the wish of a little boy with leukemia to be a superhero for a day; and a student who, while dressed as Batman, does anonymous good deeds for his community. The feel-good film, from director Brett Culp, also features extensive interviews […]
Nov. 19, 2014 | 11:11 a.m.

‘Cinderella’ trailer: Disney brings magic to live-action fairy tale

Lily James in "Cinderella." (Disney)
The first trailer for Disney’s live-action take on Cinderella is out, and from the looks of it, the film adheres closely to the animated classic, right down to the cartoon-y mice. “Cinderella,” directed by Kenneth Branagh from a screenplay penned by Aline Brosh McKenna and Chris Weitz, sees “Downton Abbey” actress Lily James wearing the Disney princess’ iconic glass slippers. “Game of Thrones” alumnus Richard Madden portrays her prince, Helena Bonham Carter plays her fairy godmother, and Cinderella’s trio of tormentors include Cate Blanchett as the stepmother and Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera as the wicked stepsisters. The trailer, released Wednesday, is narrated by Hayley Atwell (“Agent Carter”), who plays Cinderella’s mother — a character who does not appear in Disney’s animated rendition of the fairy tale. “I want to tell you a secret that will see you through all […]
Nov. 17, 2014 | 12:24 p.m.

‘Star Wars Celebration': Watch exclusive first-look video for fan expo

Organizers of Star Wars Celebration, the traveling confab that celebrates all things connected to George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away, are expecting April’s gathering in Anaheim to be the biggest yet — thanks in no small part to the anticipation surrounding the release of J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The 2015 Celebration rolls into the Anaheim Convention Center April 16-19, with interactive programming including diorama building, Jedi training and “Star Wars” tattooing. A new session of “Star Wars University,” a classroom-style presentation that in the past has featured a lesson in storyboarding with “Star Wars Rebels” executive producer Dave Filoni, also is set to take place during the semi-annual event . Last week, Hero Complex exclusively debuted the poster for the 2015 event; today readers can check out a new promotional video for the Celebration above. The Celebrations […]
Nov. 17, 2014 | 11:30 a.m.

‘Captain America: Civil War': Fans respond to Daniel Brühl’s casting

Actor Daniel Brühl. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Speculation is ramping up about the role Daniel Brühl will play in “Captain America: Civil War” after Marvel announced his casting Friday. Brühl — who is known for his performances in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” and Ron Howard’s “Rush” (incidentally opposite “Thor” actor Chris Hemsworth) — will star alongside Chris Evans (Cap), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), and Chadwick Boseman (newcomer Black Panther) in the third “Captain America” installment. “With Daniel’s ability to deliver intense, nuanced performances, we knew we had found yet another great actor to share the screen with some of our biggest heroes,” producer Kevin Feige said in Marvel’s blog post announcing the casting. The film sees directors Joe and Anthony Russo returning after this year’s hit “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which has raked in more than $715 million at the international box office. Brühl’s role has yet to […]
Nov. 17, 2014 | 7:47 a.m.

‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay’ blitzes with ‘SNL,’ poster, TV spots

'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1' poster (featured image)
The Hollywood hype machine is kicking into high gear for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,” which opens in theaters Friday. The latest additions to the blockbuster mega-franchise’s media blitz include two new TV spots, a new poster and a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live.” “Hunger Games” stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth crashed costar Woody Harrelson’s “SNL” opening monologue — a parody to Taylor Swift’s hit single “Blank Space” from her recent album “1989.” Lawrence’s co-stars used the opportunity to tease her about her tone-deaf singing voice, comparing it to the Internet-famous screeching goats. The weekend also brought a new street art-inspired poster for “Mockingjay – Part 1,” as well as two new TV spots (check them out below). In “The Hunger Games” films, Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen, victor of the Hunger Games — […]
Nov. 15, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.

‘Framed’ review: Craft a noir comic in this stylish mobile game

"Framed" is a short experience, but its puzzles get tricky. (Loveshack)
THE PLAYER The long-standing Mad magazine comic strip “Spy vs. Spy” is occasionally like a puzzle — a short back-and-forth that asks the reader to piece together images to see which spy has the upper hand. If it were a film, the cuts would be fast and the swapping of one frame for another would change the entire outcome. Now imagine dragging the frames around the page. Instead of resulting in one’s demise, the larger-than-life hammer or roped-together dynamite could set off a brief tale of revenge. Or we could call a truce. Perhaps we could rewrite the end of the narrative to reveal a twist. Maybe the two spies had been played as pawns in a larger scheme all along. If you get rid of the Looney Tunes-like imagery and turn all that into a game, the result would […]
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