Todd Martens

April 26, 2015 | 10:00 a.m.

Robots and women share the battlefield in ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 3′

"Call of Duty: Black Ops 3" boasts cybernetic-enhanced soldiers. (Treyarch / Activision)
The future-set “Call of Duty: Black Ops 3″ makes some bold predictions about combat in the decades to come. Soldiers, for instance, will be outfitted with robotic arms, giving them super-human strength. Additionally, women will be just as prevalent on the front lines as their male counterparts. The Treyarch-developed “Call of Duty: Black Ops 3,” due Nov. 6 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, is the first in the blockbuster franchise to allow fans to play as a female character in the single-player campaign. Or even play as a whole mini-squadron of women, as “Black Ops 3″ will blur the lines between single and multiplayer games and allow up to four people to play the campaign cooperatively via an online connection. It’s a move that aims to capitalize on what many believe the “Call of Duty” franchise does best — […]
April 26, 2015 | 8:18 a.m.

‘Orphan Black': The Castor clones ignite a battle of the sexes

Tatiany Maslany faces new threats in the third season of "Orphan Black." (BBC America)
Reality came to “Orphan Black” this past week. On the surface, this is a show about clones. Yet as Tatiana Maslany’s Sarah Manning has uncovered the secrets that led to her creation in a corporate lab, “Orphan Black” has alluded to sociopolitical themes that touch upon religion and civil liberties. Among the threats leveled at Manning, however, none may be as chilling as those circling around her at the start of Season 3. Since its inception, “Orphan Black” has dealt with the power divide between men and women, chronicling via science fiction how one’s status throughout life is determined pre-birth. Manning has spent the past two seasons fighting for her identity, her daughter, her ability to be a mother and her right to know her sisters. This year the BBC America’s “Orphan Black” has received an infusion of men, and they’re […]
April 24, 2015 | 11:32 a.m.

Telltale Games teaming with Marvel Entertainment

Telltale Games is working with Marvel Entertainment on a new video game series. (Telltale Games)
Having proved it can effectively adapt a comic into a game with its work on “The Wolf Among Us” and “The Walking Dead,” the Bay Area’s Telltale Games is increasing its comics’ portfolio. Telltale has partnered with Marvel Entertainment for a game project to be released in 2017, the company revealed Thursday night in San Francisco. Little is known about the game, including its title, at this point beyond the year-long release window. Telltale has won acclaim in recent years for its narrative-focused games that emphasize dialogue rather than action. They’re episodic, with each chapter generally able to be completed in two or three hours, and are leading a movement that brings games closer to interactive television shows. Additionally, Telltale’s work with Robert Kirkman’s ‘The Walking Dead” and Bill Willingham’s Vertigo series “Fables,” on which “The Wolf Among Us” is based, focused on original […]
April 23, 2015 | 8:30 a.m.

‘Con Man’ from Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion finds a home in Vimeo

Con Man
There was a brief moment for potential awkwardness at last week’s Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim. On the third night of the fan convention during a Q&A with Mark Hamill, an audience member had a request. She wanted to hear about the most uncomfortable run-in Hamill had with a fan. The actor, known best for his portrayal of Luke Skywalker in the “Star Wars” films, didn’t throw anyone under the bus — at least completely. “You’ll meet someone and he’ll say, ‘I invited you to my 11th birthday, and you never wrote back,'” Hamill said. “I say, ‘I’m sorry. How old are now?’ And he’ll go, ’33.’ Wow, that’s 22 years of hatred building up.” But to hear at least one veteran of science fiction tell it, the oddest moments at fan conventions are not the ones generated by those who […]
April 19, 2015 | 2:17 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Tattoos, a convention tradition

Vinny Romanelli of New York City gives Angela Byrd an angelic R2-D2 tattoo at Star Wars Celebration.  (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
“Star Wars” fans, if this weekend’s Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim is any indication, are a patient lot. Thousands camped out Wednesday night to be in the same room as director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, and lines to buy exclusive convention merchandise could stretch up to three hours. That’s about how long, for instance, it took me to purchase a wall clock in the shape of Salacious B. Crumb, the rat-like pal of Jabba the Hutt in “Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi.” Others waited an hour or so to purchase ornaments. Some waited for love (speed dating sessions for men seeking women were booked by Friday morning, dashing my hopes of a “Star Wars romance) and still others waited hours for a glimpse of new video game “Star Wars: Battlefront” or a chance […]
April 19, 2015 | 8:37 a.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Mark Hamill talks of being ‘drafted’ for ‘The Force Awakens’

Mark Hamill
Mark Hamill, who portrayed young Jedi Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy of “Star Wars” films, offered a chilling alternate timeline for this December’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the seventh film in core space fantasy saga. What if he said no? Speaking Saturday night at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, Hamill regaled a packed auditorium with tales of “Star Wars” past and present. Hamill spoke of how “Star Wars” creator George Lucas first broached the subject of a new trilogy of films, shared details about the difficulty of working with a Jedi Master puppet in Yoda and said he initially viewed “The Force Awakens” director J.J. Abrams with a hint of suspicion. The talk brought to a close the the third day of the four-day fan expo, one that over the course of the weekend has featured droid races, speed dating, costume […]
April 18, 2015 | 7:15 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: ‘The Force Awakens’ is a ‘transference of generations’

Images from the new teaser trailer (#2) for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." (Lucasfilm)
Forget the shiny digital gloss that marked the three “Star Wars” prequels. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the upcoming seventh episode in the space fantasy saga, drew its primary inspiration from the late 70s and early ’80s look of the original trilogy, said key members of the new film’s visual effects team on Saturday at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim. Speaking on a panel on the third day of the four-day fan expo, the effects wizards assured fans that “The Force Awakens” emphasizes characters over digital magic. “It’s almost liked ratcheting it down,” said Christian Alzmann, part of the production team for “The Force Awakens.” Alzmann, who worked on “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones,” was asked how the J.J. Abrams-directed film would distinguish itself amid today’s landscape of effects-heavy genre films. “To me, there’s almost like […]
April 18, 2015 | 9:10 a.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Anthony Daniels praises J.J. Abrams

Anthony Daniels
If C-3PO brings a little comic relief to the “Star Wars” saga, then the man who inhabits the robot, Anthony Daniels, is the one who brought the humor to Star Wars Celebration. While fans may have wanted dirt on the upcoming J.J. Abrams-directed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Daniels instead wanted to dish on unfortunate product placement and the uncomfortable places sand can find itself in a robot suit. Daniels treated his hourlong discussion Friday night at Celebration as if it were a variety show, playfully flirting with an audience member dressed as C-3PO’s robot companion, R2-D2, and interjecting numerous jokes into his tales of “Star Wars” past. The conversation brought to a close the second day of panels and discussions at the four-day fan expo, one that had earlier hosted lively conversations with the likes of Carrie Fisher and Ray Park. A fan […]
April 17, 2015 | 11:11 a.m.

Star Wars Celebration: ‘Battlefront’ gets franchise back in the game

"Star Wars: Battlefront" is the first major video game release since Disney dismantled LucasArts. (Dice / Electronic Arts)
THE PLAYER On Thursday morning “Star Wars” fans received a glimpse of the next cinematic episode in the fantasy saga. On Friday it was time to learn how to play in it. “Star Wars: Battlefront” took center stage as Day 2 of the four-day Star Wars Celebration fan expo opened in Anaheim. The game, the first under a 10-year pact between Lucasfilm and Electronic Arts, is due Nov. 17, about a month in advance of the J.J. Abrams-directed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Early glimpses of the game reveal it to be a sort of blaster-heavy “Star Wars” greatest hits collection. Want to play with lightsabers? Those are here. Want to shoot a blaster like Han Solo? You can do that. Want to pilot an X-Wing? Of course that’s a possibility. Want to play as Darth Vader on Endor, the planet […]
April 16, 2015 | 2:12 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Tears, droids and J.J. Abrams open the Anaheim fan convention

"Star Wars" fans wait in line to enter the Star Wars Celebration expo at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Richard Shotwell / Associated Press)
J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy made bold promises for the “Star Wars” universe on Thursday morning, speaking to thousands of the most dedicated fans of the sci-fi franchise at the Star Wars Celebration expo in Anaheim. Asked how he can possibly please all “Star Wars” fans with his upcoming film, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Abrams hunched his shoulders and said, simply, “Well, we will.” Judging by the reaction of the 2,700 attendees inside the showcase auditorium at the Anaheim Convention Center, the director is hitting the right notes. A second teaser for the December film was unveiled near the end of an hour-long panel — which started the four-day convention — featuring Abrams, Kennedy and multiple generations of “Star Wars” cast members. The new clip featured some old favorites such as Han Solo (Harrison Ford), a voice-over from Luke […]
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