Tuesday, December 28, 2010

'The Empire Strikes Back' Deemed Not Scruffy Looking by the Library of Congress

On the same year Star Wars fans celebrated the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back—considered by most to be the best film in the saga—the acclaimed sequel reached another illustrious milestone in 2010 when it was added to the U.S. Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.

Also among the 25 films honored was George Lucas’ student film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4 EB, which joins Empire and Lucas’ previous inducted works Star Wars: A New Hope and American Graffiti on the Library of Congress’ list of films considered worthy of preservation.

Empire’s induction comes just weeks after the death of its director, Irvin Kershner.

Other films added to the National Film Registry this year include Airplane!, The Exorcist, The Pink Panther (1964) and Saturday Night Fever.

For the full list of 2010 inductees, click here.

'Spider-Man' Musical a Spider Short

After suffering a concussion during the first preview performance of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark on Nov. 28, actress Natalie Mendoza is officially leaving the production, The New York Times reports. She played Arachne, a villainess that plays a key role in Spider-Man’s origin story.

To be more specific, Arachne—an original creation by Lion King director Julie Taymor—is the spider that bites Peter Parker and gives him super powers. And she sings!

Spider-Man was to be the Broadway debut of Mendoza, 30, a film and theater actress and musician who is perhaps best known for her lead role in 2005 horror flick The Descent.

“Thank goodness I had such a brilliant neurologist who made sure I recovered properly,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “Nice to be almost back to normal … almost anyway haha! Thanking God for peace, real friends, love and health and healing.”

Chris Tierney—a Spider-Man stuntman who fell roughly 20 feet to the stage during a performance last Tuesday—is still recovering from multiple injuries, including a hairline fracture in his skull, four broken ribs, a bruised lung and three fractured vertebrae. Two other actors have suffered serious injuries due to the show’s complex (and clearly unsafe) stuntwork and effects.

The show’s opening night was recently pushed back four weeks to Feb. 7 to give Taymor, the producers and composers Bono and The Edge time to streamline the show before critics review it.

Click here to read the full story.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

'Tron: Legacy' a Superficial Triumph

It seems like just about every movie studio is gussying up their most beloved intellectual properties to capitalize on the ongoing 3D craze at the cinema—and few studios know how to cash in on nostalgia quite like Disney. More than 28 years after the release of the original Tron, a poorly received sci-fi curiosity that helped usher in the age of computer animation, the House of Mouse unveils Joseph Kosinksi’s Tron: Legacy, yet another sci-fi curiosity that similarly pushes the boundaries of visual effects.

But is it any good? Well, if you’re one of the many technophiles that fell in love with the original cult classic, there’s no reason why you won’t appreciate Legacy’s story, which ties into the original while at the same time setting the stage for future adventures in the Tron universe. For everyone else, however, Legacy is a string of gorgeous set pieces that just happens to be loosely held together by a narrative that is as simple as it is needlessly convoluted.

What’s Old Is New Again

Sure, Legacy is a sequel, but it’s less about continuing the story as it is about introducing the franchise to a new audience in the hopes that they’ll stick around for the sequels, animated series, comic books, video games and whatever else Disney has in store. In other words, seeing the original Tron will enhance your enjoyment of Legacy, but it’s not necessarily a requirement. In fact, Disney allegedly stopped printing DVDs of the original Tron so younger audience members wouldn’t skip Legacy due to its predecessor’s now-dated visual effects.

At the beginning of the film, we learn that software engineer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), the protagonist from the first film, has created a new “digital frontier” called The Grid, a virtual domain separate from the computer world in the first Tron. One night, when he returns to his office to continue his work on The Grid, he vanishes completely and is presumed dead. Two decades later, his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) is still haunted by his father’s disappearance, but when Kevin’s colleague and friend Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) receives a mysterious page from Kevin’s office, Sam investigates. Could his father still be alive?

As one might expect, a trip to dad’s old stomping grounds inadvertently transports Sam to The Grid, a world that is hardly as idyllic as his father had intended. Overseen by the maniacal Clu—a program the elder Flynn created to help him build his digital frontier—The Grid is a dangerous place, and it’s up to Sam to evade Clu’s clutches, track down his father and find a way home.

The story serves its purpose, but it’s really just an excuse to bombard the audience with dazzling visuals (as was the case with last year’s Avatar). Having said that, the special effects are worth the hefty price of a 3D screening. From the fast-paced Light Cycle match to a thrilling climactic chase sequence, Legacy is determined to make sweet love to your eyeballs.

Flynn Abides
No one really expects much in terms of acting from these big-budget 3D extravaganzas, but Legacy’s cast is seldom lost amidst the CGI chaos. Channeling the “Dude” of Big Lebowski fame, Bridges brings to The Grid a healthy dose of humanity as its messianic creator. Hedlund, a relative unknown, rises to the task as the film’s in-over-his-head hero, while the stunning and talented Olivia Wilde provides eye candy of a different sort entirely as the mysterious Quorra. Clad in skintight leather and latex, Wilde often draws attention away from the digital wizardry around her, but I doubt you’ll be complaining.

Even a creepy, computer-generated and de-aged Bridges pulls off an excellent performance as the calculating baddie Clu. We’re approaching the uncanny valley, folks.

With a Twist
As visually impressive as this film is, even its most ardent supporters would admit that the story nearly falls apart in the third act as it races toward its conclusion, largely due to a fairly major “twist” that never feels as important as it’s clearly supposed to be. Without going into spoiler territory, I’ll say that a character that was supposed to be dead, well, isn’t. The reveal is cheap, and this character’s fate serves only to set up a sequel.

Tron Is Serious Business, Apparently
Although the original Tron was pretty goofy—especially for those of us who were introduced to it long after the fact—Legacy takes itself completely seriously. As a result, it’s loaded with moments that should be a lot more fun than they actually are. The core concept behind the Tron films is preposterously cheesy, and it would have better served the film to treat the material with a bit more levity. Not everything needs to be dark and gritty, even though that is the trend these days.

Aural Fixation
Electronic music duo Daft Punk composed the soundtrack for Legacy, and it’s one of the things I loved most about the film. It’s remarkably similar to Hans Zimmer’s work on The Dark Knight score, with a welcome smattering of synthesizers added to the mix. Daft Punk’s tunes wonderfully complement the eye-popping visuals in Legacy, giving The Grid an otherworldly feel.

End of Line

Tron: Legacy will leave you hungry if you go to the theater craving a good story, but it’s a veritable feast for the eyes. Grab your 3D glasses and indulge.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Muppets: Ringing of the Bells

Enjoy this Christmas classic, courtesy of Muppet Studios.

Merry Christmas from The Wort Report!

Here’s wishing each of you Wortmaniacs out there a Merry Christmas. And, for my Wookiee readers, Happy Life Day!

And with that, you probably know what’s coming. Grab some egg nog and consider yourselves warned.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

OSHA, Department of Labor Could Squash 'Spider-Man'

Enough is enough, Julie Taymor.

Following yet another serious performer injury—this brings the total to four for everyone keeping track— the Lion King director’s $65 million Broadway catastrophe Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is under investigation by both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the New York State Department of Labor, The Wall Street Journal reports. The show’s producers have agreed to enact more rigorous safety precautions in light of the string of on-set accidents.

Additionally, the Actors’ Equity Association “is working to ensure that performances will not resume until back-up safety measures are in place,” as noted in a statement released by union representatives. This is the first good news about this show I’ve heard since its inception.

According to the article, Spidey stuntman Christopher Tierney, 31, fell more than 20 feet off a platform during the final 10 minutes of Monday night’s preview performance. Reportedly, “someone missed their cue” and forgot to anchor a tether to Tierney’s harness.

As reported by BroadwayWorld, Tierney has suffered several broken ribs and bleeding, and is hospitalized in serious but stable condition.

So let’s recap: This is the most expensive show in Broadway history, the cast (and the audience) is clearly in danger due to an apparent inability to pull off the show’s complex stunts and, based on early reviews, the music sucks (thanks Bono!). Is Turn Off the Dark really worth all of the damage its caused thus far? Do the show’s producers actually need an actor to die onstage before they realize this thing is a bad idea? How about an audience member getting mortally wounded when a stunt goes awry?

The show’s official opening date was already pushed back to Feb. 7 before this latest accident, but these persistent safety issues could push that start date back even further.

Monday, December 13, 2010

'Mass Effect 3' Gets a Trailer, Release Window

At the Spike Video Game Awards on Saturday, Electronic Arts and BioWare unveiled a trailer for Mass Effect 3 as well as a holiday 2011 release window for the final installment in the acclaimed Mass Effect trilogy.

Judging by the world premiere Mass Effect 3 teaser trailer, which you can watch below, Commander Shepard must defend Earth from a Reaper invasion.

I’m disappointed that we’ll have to wait another year to finish the story, as I was under the impression that the gap between the second and third games would be far shorter than the two-year gap between Mass Effect and its sequel. However, based on how the first two games turned out (especially Mass Effect 2), the wait will be worth it.

As for the trailer…meh. I’m a huge fan of this series, but there’s not a whole lot to latch onto in this clip. As a matter of fact, the Earth setting and the alien invasion premise make the Mass Effect universe seem a lot smaller than it actually is. Oh well.

(Via GameTrailers.com)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dr. Hugo Strange Knows the Dark Knight’s Secrets in 'Batman: Arkham City'

I made it a point to have something—anything—better to do than stay in on Saturday night and watch the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards. But I have to admit, some of the trailers that debuted during the show were actually pretty cool, including a revealing trailer for anticipated Batman: Arkham Asylum sequel, Arkham City. As the title suggests, the action this time takes the Caped Crusader off Arkham Island and onto the streets and rooftops of Gotham City.

An earlier trailer revealed that the Joker will return from the first game, as will his deranged gal pal and henchlady Harley Quinn. Other Batman villains set to play a role in Arkham City include Mr. Freeze, Talia al Ghul, Two-Face, Catwoman and Dr. Hugo Strange who, in the trailer below, notes that he knows the Dark Knight’s secret identity and will use it against him.

On a sadder note, IGN reported earlier this year that Arkham City will be Mark Hamill’s final portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime. “This will be my last, there’s no question about that” he said. “But it’s the last hurrah.”

Hurrah indeed. Arkham City hits stores next fall. Watch the VGA trailer below.

(Via GameTrailers.com)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett Return for 'The Hobbit'

Deadline is reporting that Orlando Bloom is expected to reprise the role of Legolas in The Hobbit, the forthcoming two-part prequel to Peter Jackson’s Academy Award-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy. This news follows confirmation that Cate Blanchett will be returning to the J.R.R. Tolkien film franchise as Galadriel.

It should be noted that neither Legolas nor the Lady of the Wood explicitly appear in Tolkien’s original text, but I wager Jackson will have little trouble weaving them into the core narrative.

For the full story, click here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Watch 'Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime' in Action

Having seen this trailer for Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime, a brand-new adventure available for download next year, I can’t say I’m all that excited about the thing. It doesn’t look like there’s going to be much of a story to this semi-sequel to Atari’s Ghostbusters: The Video Game, and since the original cast won’t be returning, I doubt it will have any of that dry Ghostbusters humor. Still, you’ll be able to bust ghosts with your pals for just a few bucks. And, as Ray Parker Jr. is quick to remind us, bustin’ makes us feel good.

(Via Wired.com)

"Who Gives a S**t About Points!?"

Video game comedy site Dorkly has posted an amusing Ninja Turtles-themed video that more than a few beat-em-up fans can relate to. It gets bonus points not only for being set in Turtles in Time—one of the most fun licensed video games of all time—and an expletive-laden reference to world champion video game player Billy Mitchell (of The King of Kong fame).


Monday, December 6, 2010

New 'Ghostbusters' Game Available for Download Next Year

It might not be the full-fledged sequel to 2009’s Ghostbusters: The Video Game that we were hoping for, but it’ll have to do. USA Today’s Game Hunters blog revealed that Atari and Sony have teamed with developer Wanako for Sanctum of Slime, a four-player co-op game available for download in the spring for Playstation Network, Xbox Live and Windows PC Download.

Unlike the first game, which was a third-person shooter, Sanctum of Slime is a top-down adventure similar to Konami’s arcade-style downloadable game Zombie Apocalypse. Also unlike the first game, this new title will not feature the voices of original cast members Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson. Players will again assume the role of the mute “Rookie” Ghostbuster from the first game, who after helping the original team save New York City, was offered the opportunity to open his own Ghostbusters franchise.

Making its first appearance in Sanctum of Slime is a new vehicle called the Ecto-4WD, which players will be able to drive. The USA Today piece notes that this is the first time we’ll be able to get behind the wheel in a Ghostbusters title, but I distinctly remember driving the Ecto-1 in the original Nintendo game. Hooray for research!

For the full story, click here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dan Aykroyd Addresses 'Ghostbusters 3' Rumors

A third Ghostbusters movie is apparently still happening, even though all evidence (and common sense) seems to point to the contrary.

In an e-mail to horror website Bloody-Disgusting, a reader notes that Ghostbusters 3 producer/writer/star Dan Aykroyd said in a recent WGN Radio Chicago interview that casting for the film is underway, and that fresh faces such as Bill Hader, Anna Faris and Eliza Dushku are being considered. Aykroyd also confirmed Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver’s involvement as well as the production’s May 2011 start date.

But like all Ghostbusters 3 news, take this with a grain of salt. Or, more appropriately, an ounce of ectoplasm.

Remembering Irvin Kershner, Director of 'The Empire Strikes Back'

Irvin Kershner, known to Star Wars fans as the director of The Empire Strikes Back, has passed away. He was 87 years old.

I became hooked on all things Star Wars at the tender age of three, when my parents introduced me to The Empire Strikes Back on VHS. I had no idea there were other Star Wars films in existence at that point in my life, so I’m fairly certain large portions of the story went right over my head. Nevertheless, I thrilled to the Rebels’ Hoth escape, the Millennium Falcon’s race through an asteroid field to evade the Empire, the wisdom of Yoda and the exciting lightsaber duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.

Even though I had no real concept of the grander Star Wars universe—something I’d go on to spend many years examining and appreciating—Kershner’s storytelling sensibilities made that galaxy far, far away feel accessible, rich and, most importantly, real. Sure, George Lucas unveiled Star Wars to the the world with the original film in 1977, but it was Kershner’s sequel released three years later that transformed Lucas’ space opera into a genuine modern myth. This is probably why just about every adult Star Wars fan will name The Empire Strikes Back as their favorite film of the saga.

“Following Star Wars, I knew one thing for sure: I didn’t want to direct the second movie myself,” Lucas said in a statement on StarWars.com. “I needed someone I could trust, someone I really admired and whose work had maturity and humor. That was Kersh all over.”

Lucas met Kershner while he was a student at the University of Southern California, and came to admire the elder filmmaker as a mentor.

“I didn’t want Empire to turn into just another sequel, another episode in a series of space adventures,” Lucas explained. “I was trying to build something, and I knew Kersh was the guy to help me do it. He brought so much to the table. I am truly grateful to him.”

The Star Wars creator added, “He was a friend as well as a colleague. He will be missed.”

Indeed, he will be. Click here to read a recent interview with the director, originally published in the August/September 2010 issue of Star Wars Insider.

Leslie Nielsen Passes

As just about anyone with an Internet connection or a cable subscription is probably well aware, legendary comedic actor Leslie Nielsen died over the weekend due to pneumonia-related complications. He was 84 years old.

Though he is perhaps best known for roles in slapstick comedies such as Airplane! And the Naked Gun series, Nielsen appeared in more than 100 films and 1,500 television series over the course of his storied career.

Shirley, he will be missed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving from The Wort Report

Here’s wishing each of you out there a happy and safe Thanksgiving. In honor of tomorrow’s celebration of turkey, pies and football, I present you with this video chronicling the creation of a questionable holiday dish called TurBaconEpic, aptly described by Epic Meal Time as a “bird in a bird in a bird in a bird in a bird in a pig.”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Brandon Routh Won't Return as Superman

Well, this was expected. Deadline.com is reporting that Brandon Routh—the actor who played Superman/Clark Kent in Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns—won’t be returning for Zack Snyder’s upcoming franchise reboot.

Instead, Warner Bros., Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan are casting a “wide net” when it comes to casting the new Man of Steel. According to Deadline’s Nikki Finke and Mike Fleming, the next actor to don the iconic blue and red costume will be within the age range of 28-32 and will be a relative unknown.

Synder’s film is scheduled to begin production in June. For the full story, click here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Natalie Portman in a Thong!

Got your attention? Good. David Gordon Green has reunited his Pineapple Express pals James Franco and Danny McBride for Your Highness, a medieval-era stoner buddy comedy set for release on April 8, 2011.

As cool as it is to see Franco and McBride teaming up yet again in a film like this—albeit now in a fantasy setting—I’m more impressed by Natalie Portman’s involvement in this type of thing. Then again, she’s proven that she has comedic ability based on her Funny or Die and Saturday Night Live appearances.

Check out the red-band trailer, which features an oh-so-gratuitous shot of Ms. Portman in that thong I promised earlier. And before you ask, no, she hasn’t responded to any of those letters I’ve been sending.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The 'Green Lantern' Trailer Looks Terrible

Dodgy CGI. Lame jokes. Cheesy voiceovers. Ladies and gentlemen (mostly gentlemen), judging by this just-released trailer, I’m pretty confident that next summer’s Green Lantern film is going to suck—or at least enrage legions of diehard comic book geeks (which honestly isn’t all that difficult, but still).

Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

Get Pumped for 'Wolverine 2: The Wolverine'

Okay, that headline isn‘t exactly accurate (as you’ll soon read), but I get a kick out of redundant movie titles. Yes, I‘m weird. What of it?

Hitfix reports that the follow-up to X-Men Origins: Wolverine helmed by Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Black Swan) won’t actually be a sequel at all. Aronofsky told the website that the film will be called The Wolverine, and should be considered a “one-off” as opposed to a true sequel to the lackluster 2009 X-Men prequel.

In other words, think of The Wolverine as a standalone graphic novel as opposed to a trade paperback collection.

I’m cool with the idea of Aronofsky not referencing the other films, but I sincerely hope he doesn’t mangle the series’ already shaky continuity. Otherwise, Fox is better off just rebooting the series and starting fresh (although with X-Men: First Class already in production, that’d be pretty stupid).

For the full story, click here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Spider-Man Musical Delayed Yet Again!

Give it up, Webslinger. This is getting embarrassing.

The Associated Press has reported that the long-delayed Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has postponed its debut yet again, with previews now beginning on Nov. 28 for a Jan. 11 opening. The show was originally set to open just four days before Christmas, with previews beginning before the lucrative Thanksgiving holiday.

The latest in a long line of delays for Turn Off the Dark is tied to the $60 million production’s complicated Cirque du Soleil stunts and various technical issues.

“I’m not surprised that Spider-Man is delayed,” an unnamed theater producer not connected with the production told the AP. “They are building a musical that costs three times as much as the biggest musical we’ve seen previously.”

The previous titleholder for most expensive show on Broadway was the $25 million Shrek the Musical, which failed to earn a profit for its investors.

The Spidey musical, helmed by the Tony Award-winning director of The Lion King, Julie Taymor, was originally set to open in February, 2010. The timing issues have been exacerbated by two on-set accidents that injured actors—including one who broke both of his wrists during an aerial stunt—and the New York State’s Department of Labor’s failure to complete a safety review when producers said they were unprepared to show all of the aerial theatrics in a single day.

The show also features music by U2’s Bono and The Edge, which is another problem entirely.

For the full story, click here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chris Nolan Casting Two Female Roles in 'The Dark Knight Rises'

It looks like Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises won’t be a Bat-sausage fest after all.

Deadline.com is reporting that Nolan is meeting with six actresses to cast a new love interest for Bruce Wayne and a female villain. The six women being considered for the roles are Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts, Blake Lively, Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway and Keira Knightley.

I’m sure many of you out there are already speculating that one of these roles will be revealed to be Selina Kyle/Catwoman, but I really like the idea of Hathaway as Talia al Ghul or Weisz as, well, anyone. As for Natalie, I find it hard to believe that she’d do a Batman film after starring in three Star Wars prequels, V for Vendetta and Marvel Studios’ upcoming Thor. She must be getting tired of creepy love letters from her nerdy fans (which would explain why she’s never answered mine).

For the full story, click here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What a Piece of Sith

Review: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 (Xbox 360)

At the time of this writing, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II has been on store shelves for close to two weeks, and if you’re the type to scour video game review sites and blogs on a daily basis, you’re already well of its myriad of problems and you’re probably not all that likely to pick it up in the first place. But if you’re still considering a purchase, I’ve got a few reasons to save your cash for something else.

Bear in mind, I wasn’t all that complimentary toward the original Force Unleashed. In fact, in my review of the first game, I called its core combat gameplay a “needlessly tedious exercise” and lambasted its broken camera and targeting system. However, I did—and still do—think that the original title’s story of betrayal and redemption had an “old-school” Star Wars feel to it, surpassing much of the melodrama and ham-fisted plot developments that plagued the prequel trilogy. Surely a sequel would address the original game’s shortcomings and deliver an equally gripping narrative, right? Well, read on, young Gameplayer.

I Find Your Lack of Story Disturbing

As I already mentioned, Starkiller’s emotional journey made the original game worthy of at least one playthrough. But if you played that story to completion and earned the “light side” ending, you know that Darth Vader’s evil-turned-valiant secret apprentice sacrificed himself to save the fledgling Rebel Alliance. So how the hell are we still playing as him in the sequel? It’s a good question, and it’s one LucasArts doesn’t bother to answer in TFU 2.

In this game, you’re one of many clones of the original Starkiller, but you’re haunted by the memories of your deceased Force-sensitive template. Is he really a clone? Did Vader somehow revive his fallen apprentice? Is this clone a medical anomaly? We never really find out. Instead, we follow Starkiller on his single-minded mission to reunite with Juno Eclipse, his love interest from the original game. And that’s about it. The game never gives you a reason to care about what happens this time around, let alone provide a compelling argument for its existence as the continuation of a finished story. If you’re expecting anything deeper than a “fight the bad guys to kiss the hot girl” plot from your video games, you might want to try something a little bit more sophisticated in the writing department—Just Dance 2, for instance.

Also, without going into detail, this game also makes Vader look like even more of a wimp than the prequels did, especially following the ridiculous (and canon-defying) finale.

Mash Buttons, Throw Controller, Repeat
The combat, Force powers and camera are greatly improved from the first game, meaning you’re able to slash, fry, toss and dismember legions of Stormtroopers, mechs and walkers to your heart’s content. Unfortunately, the routine wears thin about midway through the game (which is after the second level, by the way, but I’ll get to that later).

Force abilities are cool until you come face-to-face with enemies resistant to them, while wielding two lightsabers at once is awesome until you come up against enemies that block any and all physical attacks. And since the game likes to throw a healthy mix of opponents that are alternately weak to Force attacks and resistant to them, most of the game is spent frustratedly spamming enemies with whatever they’re vulnerable to so you can move onto the next group of bad guys. Isn’t being a badass Jedi with near-limitless power supposed to be fun?

“Boba Fett? Boba Fett? Where?” (SPOILER ALERT)
To answer your question, Mr. Solo, he’s in TFU 2…for about a minute. Yes, in an effort to appease Star Wars fanboys, LucasArts weaved two of the saga’s most popular characters—Boba Fett and Yoda—into the narrative. Wait, “weaved” isn’t the right word. Crammed? That sounds about right.

You meet Yoda outside the infamous “dark side” cave on Dagobah (he sits on a rock and spouts some nebulous dialogue in a cutscene), while Boba is hired by to kidnap Juno and lure Starkiller into a trap. You see him, but you never get to fight him. Instead, you battle legions of robot spiders in the bowels of a command ship. Yay.

The brevity of these cameos didn’t stop LucasArts from using both iconic characters in their marketing material (Yoda’s even on the back of the box). It’s funny how that works.

This Game Is Four Hours Long
I was going to include a clever title for this section, but I opted to take the direct approach because THIS GAME IS $60 AND ONLY FOUR FRIGGIN HOURS LONG. TFU 2 isn’t a full sequel: it’s a glorified expansion pack.

However, the repetitive combat and the copy-and-paste level design actually make the game feel twice as long. So that’s something.

I’d love to be able to say that TFU 2 is somehow worthy of a rental, but with so many better action titles on the market right now—including Dead Rising 2, Fable 3 and Fallout: New Vegas—playing through this lackluster sequel would rob you of time better spent playing games that matter. Sure, the graphics and the controls are an improvement on those of the original Force Unleashed, but the lame story, laughable length and boring combat not only make this a bad game, but a seemingly-intentional insult to Star Wars fans. LucasArts should be ashamed.

Martin Sheen in Talks to Play Uncle Ben in Upcoming Spidey Flick

Charlie Sheen’s battle with addiction has been making headlines recently, but that hasn’t stopped his dad, acting veteran Martin Sheen, from making some news of his own. The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog reports that the elder Sheen is in final negotiations to play Uncle Ben in Sony’s unnamed Spider-Man franchise reboot.

As Peter Parker’s wise-but-doomed father figure, Sheen would join Andrew Garfield as Peter/Spider-Man, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy and Rhys Ifans as the unnamed villain rumored to be the Lizard. Sally Field is reportedly in early talks to play Aunt May.

I’m still not totally sold on the idea of rehashing Spider-Man’s origin story just ten years after the first film hit theaters, but this is shaping up to be a stellar cast. Let’s hope director Marc Webb makes the most of the talent on his hands when he starts shooting next month.

The film is slated for release on July 3, 2012.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Zack Snyder’s ‘Superman’ Reboot Will Be “Different”

Wow, Zack Snyder’s having a good week. First, the trailer for his upcoming action flick Sucker Punch is dropping jaws all over the blogosphere, and now his recent interview with Empire (via Digital Spy) has comic book geeks buzzing about his anticipated reboot of the stagnant Superman franchise.

Man of Steel fans who were disheartened by the “been there, done that” narrative of Superman Returns—Bryan Singer’s painstakingly dull homage to Richard Donner’s 1978 classic—can rest assured that this new film won’t be a retread.

“It’s a different story,” the Watchmen director told Empire of the script penned by Batman Begins/The Dark Knight scribe David Goyer, quick to clarify that the film will not play fast and loose with Supes’ core mythology. “I won’t say there’s a break from the canon or anything like that, but there is definitely an approach that makes you go, ‘Okay, that's a way to get at it.’”

As for the rumors that Superman II villain General Zod will be the Last Son of Krypton’s adversary next time around, Snyder quipped that “the Internet has no idea what’s going on.”

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The 'Sucker Punch' Trailer Hurts Real Good

Regardless of how you feel about director Zack Snyder, you have to admit that his films—which include his Dawn of the Dead remake, 300 and Watchmen—look phenomenal. Therefore, it is with great excitement that I present you with the trailer for his high-octane action film Sucker Punch, which hits theaters next March.

The film centers around a young girl who, after being institutionalized by her sinister father, creates an over-the-top alternate reality for herself to aid in her escape from confinement. Dragons? Check. Ninjas? Check. Robots? Check. Gunfire? Check. Smoking hot women kicking ass? Check and mate.

I officially cannot wait to see what Snyder does with his Superman reboot, which is still in the early stages of production.

Check out the Sucker Punch trailer below.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

‘Entertainment Weekly’ Offers First Look at Chris Evans as Captain America

The cover of the Nov. 5 issue of Entertainment Weekly gives fans their first up-close and official look at Chris Evans as Steve Rogers in Marvel Studios’ Captain America: The First Avenger. The issue’s six-page spread on the anticipated 2011 film features a few more more never-before-seen photos of Evans as Cap in addition to a glimpse of Hugo Weaving as the villainous (pre-Red Skull) Johann Schmidt.

With his chiseled jaw and all-American haircut, the former Johnny Storm certainly looks like Cap to me, and I like that the design is a real-world revision of Cap’s comic book garb that doesn’t abandon its most recognizable elements, namely the red, white and blue color scheme, the stripes on his torso and the star on his chest. And let us not forget his legendary shield, which remains as iconic in live-action as it is on the printed page.

Bravo, Marvel.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nolan Names His Next Batman Film

For the past two years or so, comic book fans—and fans of good movies in general—have been anxiously awaiting Christopher Nolan’s inevitable follow-up to his Oscar-nominated masterpiece The Dark Knight. While that sequel is still a long way off—hitting theaters in 2012—at least we all know what to call it.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times’ Hero Complex blog, Nolan confirmed that his third and final Batman film will be called The Dark Knight Rises.

Hmmm. The Dark Knight Rises. Not quite as exciting as we thought it might be, is it? Indeed, a title says very little about the quality of the actual film (Nolan’s Inception would still be awesome even if it was called Sleepy Time Mind Spies). However, there’s something disengaging about simply adding the word “rising” to the end of the title of the previous film, especially considering the fact that the title progression from Batman Begins to The Dark Knight was so dramatic. All that said, it’s pointless to gripe about the title of a movie that’s still a year and a half away. Let’s move on.

Nolan also confirmed that the Riddler will not be the villain in The Dark Knight Rises. Filmmakers have also ruled out Mr. Freeze and, barring some creative casting, we probably won’t be seeing the Joker either. Since Nolan’s Bat-verse is very much grounded in reality, I’m guessing the Penguin is a reasonable possibility, as are Catwoman, Bane, Black Mask, Deadshot, Firefly or even Harley Quinn. It’s tempting to rule out outlandish adversaries such as Clayface, Killer Croc and Poison Ivy, but let’s keep in mind that Nolan made the extremely supernatural Ra’s al Ghul semi-realistic in Batman Begins. Hell, we might even see a gritty reimagining of Clock King or Maxie Zeus.

Nolan also revealed in the Hero Complex piece is that The Dark Knight Rises will not be screened in 3D. James Cameron weeps.

For the full story, click here.

Lando Calrissian’s ‘Real Talk’

I’m not much of an R. Kelly fan, but it’s pretty impossible not to love Lando Calrissian...well, except for the whole selling out your friends thing, but as he told Leia, he “had no choice.”

This is a major week for Star Wars fans. Season two of The Clone Wars is out on DVD and Blu-ray, while The Force Unleashed 2 is tearing it up on consoles. Oh, and for the record, I spent a few hours with the game on Tuesday night and it rocks far more than the original. But I digress.

Thanks to a YouTube user by the name of FrankenseussLabs, geeks have yet another reason to celebrate Star Wars this week: an uproariously funny and bizarre parody video for R. Kelly’s “Real Talk,” starring our favorite gas-mining scoundrel-turned-rebel hero. Watch the video below.

(Via Topless Robot)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

He’s Got the Tools, He’s Got the Talent

At Spike TV’s Scream 2010 awards show, Bill Murray shockingly appeared in his iconic Ghostbuster uniform to accept the best horror movie award for Zombieland, for which he also won best cameo honors in recognition of his brief (but wholly memorable) appearance as himself. However, the comedy legend was quick to remind fans that there was no hidden message behind his choice of outfit. In other words, this doesn’t mean he’s signed on for Ghostbusters 3—or if it’s even happening.

“I don’t mean anything by this, it’s just all that was left that was clean,” Murray quipped in reference to his Peter Venkman garb, complete with a fairly realistic proton pack. Of course, it’s very likely that he just loves screwing with us.

Watch the clip below.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Marvel Universe Gets the 'Tron' Treatment

In one of Disney’s most brilliant marketing moves since acquiring Marvel Entertainment earlier this year, the House of Mouse has teamed up with the House of Ideas to give our favorite Marvel characters the Tron treatment in anticipation of Walt Disney Pictures’ Tron: Legacy, which hits theaters on Dec. 17. Hooray for corporate synergy!

Beginning in November, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, Ms. Marvel, Captain America, Wolverine and others will be reinterpreted as denizens of the computerized Tron universe on variant covers of the publisher’s top titles.

My personal favorite? Mark Brooks’ Tron reimagining of our favorite wall-crawler on the variant cover of Amazing Spider-Man #651. The issue hits shelves on Dec. 15.

To check out all of the Tron covers, visit Marvel.com.

Friday, October 15, 2010

'Ghostbusters 3' Has a Script?

If you’re like me, you’re probably pretty frustrated with the constant barrage of Ghostbusters 3 non-news that’s been hitting the Web over the past year or so. At this point, I’m convinced it’s never happening, and the sooner we all come to terms with the fact that last summer’s Ghostbusters: The Video Game is the closest we’re going to get to a third Ghostbusters movie, the better off we’re all going to be.

But if you’re clamoring for more wishful thinking disguised as news, I’d like to direct your attention to a piece I stumbled across on IGN. Reportedly, Stefano Paganini, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s product manager for Catalogue, and TV Series, announced at Rome’s Ghostbusters Day 2010 (yup, they love Ghostbusters in Italy) that “the script for Ghostbusters 3 has been approved so the engine is turned on!”

That’s all well and good, but until I hear something more official than this—or at least until Bill Murray stops vehemently denying that the project is at all moving forward—I’m going to assume that there is no Ghostbusters 3—only Zuul.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Darth Vader Gets His Ass Kicked

As much as I liked the concept and story behind 2008’s Star Wars: The Force Unleashed—an action game that put you in control of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice —I found the gameplay to be extremely lacking in several key areas. LucasArts affirms that the sequel, which hits store shelves Oct. 26, addresses the game’s most glaring issues, namely its repetitive combat and frustrating targeting system. Fingers crossed.

Regardless of how the game actually turns out, the marketing has been pretty amazing. In this television spot, for example, we see Darth Vader get his ass handed to him by his former apprentice Starkiller, who, after sacrificing himself to save the fledgling Rebel Alliance at the end of the last game, is very much alive thanks to the miracle of cloning.

Check out the commercial below.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

NYCC: Hasbro Unveils 'Captain America' and 'Thor' Movie Action Figures

Although Hasbro already debuted action figures from their forthcoming Captain America and Thor movie lines at Comic-Con International in San Diego in July, the toymaker had a few surprises in store for New York Comic Con attendees this past weekend, giving fans a glimpse at what they can expect to find on store shelves before the films hit theaters next summer.

As was the case with Hasbro’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Iron Man 2 lines, Thor and Captain America offerings will include assortments based on the films themselves as well as the comic books that inspired them. Like all of Hasbro’s Marvel movie action figures, these will be in the same scale as the company’s extensive Marvel Universe collection.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Don't Touch Starbuck

She’s survived Cylons and has even gone toe-to-toe with Jack Bauer. But Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica, 24) is still afraid of one thing in this universe: Nerd germs.

At the 2010 New York Comic Con, which concluded yesterday, this bizarre notice at Ms. Sackhoff’s autograph booth caught my eye:
Don’t mistake this as an insult to Katee: Judging by the questionable hygiene of many of the folks wandering the show floor (both in and out of costume), I don’t blame her for wanting to avoid having to touch any of them. Furthermore, Starbuck always struck me as more of a fist bump person to begin with.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nerd News Roundup!

With New York Comic Con kicking off this weekend, geeky news and announcements have been particularly abundant over the past few days. Here are the most noteworthy:

Emma Stone Is Gwen Stacy
I have a confession to make: I have a massive crush on Emma Stone. She’s charming, she’s gorgeous and—perhaps most important of all—she has incredible comic timing. Don’t believe me? Watch Zombieland again.

So I was understandably pretty excited when I learned that Ms. Stone would be starring as the romantic lead in Marc Webb’s 2012 Spider-Man reboot. However, I was befuddled when I learned that the redheaded actress would be playing Peter Parker’s blonde (and doomed) first love, Gwen Stacy. Surely, Ms. Stone would be a better Mary Jane Watson, no?

Evidently, as reported by First Showing, Stone’s a natural blonde, so the casting isn’t as bizarre as it would seem. Cosmic. (Via First Showing)

Zack Snyder Will Direct Chris Nolan’s Superman
Say what you will about 300 or Watchmen, it’s hard to deny the fact that Zack Snyder is pretty good at creating compelling visuals. His actual ability as a storyteller, however, is often questioned by critics.

Be that as it may, Warner Bros. has confirmed that Snyder will be taking the helm of the studio’s Superman reboot, which is being produced by Chris Nolan (The Dark Knight, Inception) and written by frequent Nolan collaborator David S. Goyer.

This could be cool, assuming that Nolan, Goyer and Snyder refrain from simply rehashing the Richard Donner series, one of the predominant flaws of Bryan Singer’s 2006 attempt at a franchise reboot, Superman Returns. However, it’s rumored that the villain in the Man of Steel movie revival is Superman II baddie General Zod.

Aw, crap. (Via Heat Vision)

Transformers 3 Has a Title
Managing to somehow sound simultaneously pretentious and idiotic, Michael Bay’s third Transformers movie—due out next summer—is apparently called The Dark of the Moon. Wow, Pink Floyd is gonna be pissed.

I guess it’s better than Bay’s rumored original title, Transformers: F*ck You, Megan Fox. (Via Seibertron)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Get Ready for 3D 'Star Wars' in 2012

Earlier this week, Lucasfilm announced that all six films in the Star Wars saga are being converted to 3D and re-released in theaters, starting with The Phantom Menace in 2012.

Yes, that means Jar Jar Binks will soon have the opportunity to annoy us in three dimensions.

Decade-old fanboy gripes aside, it’ll be pretty cool to see the entire saga in theaters once again, although one hopes that Star Wars creator and notorious tinkerer George Lucas stays his hand when it comes to unnecessary alterations to the classic films. A nip and a tuck here and there, sure, but if Lucas further populates the original trilogy with irritating CGI aliens and slapsticky robots, there will be a lot of nerds cringing behind their 3D glasses. There’s enough of that stuff in the prequels.

Judging by the official statement posted on StarWars.com, it looks like Lucas and his team are determined to avoid the missteps that plagued previous post-production 3D conversions, namely Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Louis Leterrier’s Clash of the Titans and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender.

“It takes a critical and artistic eye along with an incredible attention to detail to be successful,” said John Knoll, visual effects supervisor for Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic. “It is not something that you can rush if you want to expect good results. For Star Wars we will take our time, applying everything we know both aesthetically and technically to bring audiences a fantastic new Star Wars experience.”

For more on the 3D Star Wars saga, click here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

'Iron Man 2' Hits DVD and Blu-ray

Iron Man 2—the most satisfying 2010 summer blockbuster this side of Inception—blasts its way onto DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow, Sept. 28. If you’re at all into comic books (Marvel in particular), you’ve probably seen it at least once already in theaters. Me? I saw it twice. So there.

Although I loved Iron Man 2 (hence the whole “saw it twice” thing), It pains me to say that it didn’t quite live up to the original. At times, it felt less like a true Iron Man sequel than an advertisement for future Marvel Studios films, namely Joss Whedon’s The Avengers and Joe Johnston’s Captain America. Still, in spite of its cluttered narrative, Robert Downey Jr. was perfect as Tony Stark, while the rest of the cast—including Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson and Mickey Rourke—did superb jobs as well. As for the action scenes, they were suitably slick, especially the bombastic finale.

To read more about Iron Man 2, check out my review at Broken Frontier by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Geeking Out Over NYCC

Excelsior! I’ve received my weekend pass for New York Comic Con 2010, taking place at the Jacob J. Javits Center on Oct. 8-10, and I couldn’t be happier. Last year’s NYCC—my first large-scale comic book convention—was the most gloriously nerdy weekend of my life, and I fully expect this year’s event to be even better.

If you don’t have your tickets yet, first of all, what the hell’s the matter with you? Secondly, you can find out how to get your hands on some by clicking here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

“You came [on] that thing? You’re braver than I thought.”

Although I used a modified Star Wars quote for the headline, I assure you that this blog post is not of a family-friendly nature. I urge all of those with delicate sensibilities to stop reading right now.

In other words, s**t just got real.


Okay, now that it’s just us mature (snicker) folks left, I’d like to call attention to a recent post at The Smoking Gun, which I stumbled across via Topless Robot. Evidently, a 28-year-old Florida man by the name of William Tyler Black got caught masturbating to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue (featuring superhottie Brooklyn Decker) in the middle of a Wal-Mart. He’s facing exposure of sexual organs charges, according to a probable cause affidavit.

A store employee reportedly told police that Black “ejaculated onto the floor and wiped his hand on a toy along with rubbing his foot on the suspected semen on the floor.”

A police source told TSG that the toy in question was a Hasbro Star Wars lightsaber.

Oh, you bastard.

Look, I know masturbation’s making headlines this week. Hell, Christine O’Donnell—the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Delaware—has been quoted as saying the act is synonymous with adultery, sparking quite a bit of spirited debate on the blogosphere and in the media on the ins and outs of self-pleasure. But wiping one’s baby batter on a lightsaber? That’s damn near blasphemy in my book. It’s “an elegant weapon for a more civilized age,” for Obi-Wan’s sake!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ Returns This Friday

If you consider yourself a Star Wars fan (and who doesn’t?), then you really owe it to yourself to tune in to the season three premiere of Star Wars: The Clone Wars this Friday at 9 p.m. ET. I know, I know, it’s no secret that I’m what one might consider a “hardcore” Star Wars fan, and a James Wortman nod of approval for a Lucasfilm product is as expected as catcalling in a Jets locker room. (Oh, snap!)

But before you start labeling me a blinded, unrepentant Star Wars nerd, I should remind you that I absolutely loathed the 2008 theatrical Clone Wars film, which served as the feature-length premiere of the series (read “Clone Bores” at Broken Frontier if you need proof). I hated the simplistic plot, the juvenile dialogue and the stylized animation bugged the hell out of me. If you’re a computer-animated flick opening the same summer as Pixar’s WALL-E, you’d better be damned spectacular. Alas, The Clone Wars was far from it.

I considering avoiding the series at all costs, but I talked myself into tuning in cautiously when the first episodes debuted a few weeks later. And you know what? I learned the show was actually pretty good. More sophisticated than the slapped-together film and a hell of a lot more fun than the prequels, The Clone Wars for me went from a guilty pleasure to must-watch TV in a matter of weeks. And, thankfully, the storytelling and the animation only improved in the second season (on DVD/Blu-ray Oct. 26), as supervising director Dave Filoni and his team grew confident with the material.

With season three, I’m absolutely stoked to see what lies ahead for Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and the rest of the gang in that galaxy far, far away (except Jar Jar Binks, he still sucks). If the quality of storytelling last season is any indication, we’re in for a real treat. And, really, as divisive as the prequel trilogy was, it’s about time the Star Wars fan community had something to celebrate in unison.

If you’ve yet to check out The Clone Wars, get caught up by visiting the official Star Wars site.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hey, a ‘Marvel vs. Capcom 3’ Trailer!

It’s been an exhausting week, so I’ll spare you my typically-excessive verbiage and just leave this Marvel vs. Capcom 3 trailer here. Feel free to geek out to your heart’s content, I promise I won’t mind.

The anticipated third installment of this blockbuster fighting game franchise hits consoles next spring. And with that, I wish all of you Wortmaniacs an awesome weekend. Enjoy!

(Via Topless Robot)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

‘Trek’ Turns 44

Damn it, Jim! I’m a doctor, not a historian!

Okay, I’m neither, but here's a pretty cool bit of trivia for all of you Trekkies (I’m sorry, “Trekkers”) out there: The original Star Trek series made its NBC debut exactly 44 years ago today, on Sept. 8, 1966.

The first episode that aired was “The Man Trap,” during which a shape-shifting “salt vampire” stalks the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. True Trekkers know that this wasn’t the first episode produced: “The Cage”—the actual pilot featuring a different captain, Christopher Pike—was deemed “too cerebral” by NBC execs. Instead, the first Trek adventure aired was a hokey-yet-fascinating monster story that encapsulated much of what fans would come to love about the kitschy sci-fi series, which would go on to spawn five spin-off shows and a whopping 11 feature films (about half of which are actually good, but that’s another story).

In celebration of Trek’s ability to not only live long, but prosper (ugh, sorry), watch “The Man Trap” in its entirety on YouTube.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Some Spider-Man Reboot Tidbits Hit the Web

Apologies in advance for the limited updates lately. Between a busy work schedule and a social calendar packed with end-of-summer activities, I’ve been a tad estranged from the blogosphere, for better or for worse. I’m hoping to blog a bit more often moving forward, but if I stick to posting once a week for a while, I’m sure you’ll get over it.

Speaking of getting over things, I’m actually starting to get optimistic about Sony’s ill-conceived and unnecessary reboot to its ridiculously lucrative Spider-Man movie franchise. No, I’m still not keen on seeing Peter Parker in high school again, but I was also unsure about Warner Bros. retelling Batman’s origin story a few years back. In that case, returning to the well brought us Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, so at least there’s evidence that rebooting comic book movie franchises can work if done correctly by the right people. Here’s hoping Marc Webb—the director behind the surprisingly good (500) Days of Summer—is up to the task when he takes the helm of the 2012 web-slinging superhero flick.

I recently came across a Hollywood Reporter interview with Andrew Garfield, the 27-year-old actor playing the title role in Sony’s as-yet-unnamed Spidey reboot (fingers crossed for The Amazing Spider-Man, but that would make too much sense). In the interview, Garfield—who stars in the upcoming Facebook movie The Social Network—gushed that he’s a lifelong Marvel Comics fan, which is always a good sign.

“I have been waiting for this phone call for 24 years,” Garfield said in reference to his casting. “It’s a true f**king honor to be a part of this symbol that I actually think is a very important symbol and it’s meant a great deal to me, and it continues to mean something to people. So yeah, I feel like I’ve been preparing for it for a while. Ever since Halloween when I was four years old and I wore my first Spider-Man costume.”

The Hollywood Reporter piece notes that the film starts shooting in December.

In other Spider-Man movie news, it’s rumored that actress/singer Hilary Duff could be up for a role in the 3D franchise reboot. The Globe and Mail casually mentions in a profile on the former Disney child star and her hockey player husband, Mike Comrie, that what appeared to be a script for the film was seen on the couple’s kitchen table. Highlighted lines in the script were vaguely marked “girl.”

It’s easy to scoff at the idea of “Lizzie Maguire” starring in a big-budget comic book movie, but I could totally see her as Peter Parker’s pre-Mary Jane sweetheart, Gwen Stacy. Just sayin’.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

If Mammary Serves …

Okay, I went for an easy boob joke in the headline, but when I came across a new batch of screenshots from Batman: Arkham City—the hotly anticipated sequel to Arkham Asylum—breasts were the first thing that came to mind. Maybe it’s because Catwoman’s ample bosom is so prominently displayed in the images. It could also be the fact that the game developers at Rocksteady are seemingly determined to dress Joker henchbabe Harley Quinn in bust-enhancing fetish garb whenever possible. Not that I’m complaining, but still …

Titillation (ha!) aside, Arkham City looks like it’s shaping up nicely, and its fall 2011 release window can’t come soon enough. Head over to Kotaku.com to check out more images from the game.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A 'Piranha 3D' Sequel Is Spawning!

We’re all a bit baffled by the surprise success of Piranha 3D—Alexandre Aja’s three-dimensional rehash of Joe Dante’s 1978 schlocky creature flick—but with a $10 million opening weekend and a surprisingly generous critical reception, a sequel to the gloriously bloody horror comedy is already in the works.

“We are thrilled that audiences are not just loving Piranha 3D, but cheering for it,” producer Mark Canton said in a statement. “And it’s fantastic that so many critics are really getting the movie and recommending it. We can’t wait to get to work on the sequel.”

Suck it, Eat Pray Love.

In spite of my love of B-movies, I’ve yet to see this bad-on-purpose epic, but if all I’ve heard about its over-the-top gore (in 3D!) and gratuitous nudity (in 3D!) is true, I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it. Get it? Sink my teeth? Comedy.

To read more about the Piranha 3D sequel, head over to MTV.com.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A 'Today' Interview Strikes Back

I came across this gem on Topless Robot earlier today. Video website Devour recently unearthed a 1980 Today interview with Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill, which aired just one week before The Empire Strikes Back hit theaters. Observe the contrast between Hamill’s youthful exuberance and Ford’s already-apparent disinterest in the Star Wars franchise.

Watch part 1 below.

Bryan Singer Reveals 'X-Men: First Class' Details

Call me a cynic, but I just haven’t been able to muster up any real excitement about Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class recently. Yes, based on what we saw with Kick-Ass, Vaughn is a capable director when it comes to comic book adaptations. And, yes, the fact that X-Men and X2: X-Men United director Bryan Singer is returning to produce the forthcoming prequel inspires some confidence. But let’s be honest: half of the X-Men movies have been utter garbage (X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and if we look back at the original two films, they haven’t aged as well as we might have hoped. So why should we, comic book nerds, really care about a prequel film in a franchise that we only kinda, sorta care about in 2010?

Well, Singer himself recently gave a few reasons for us to start paying attention when he called Ain’t It Cool News’ Harry Knowles. Here are a few of the details Singer touched on:
  • The film takes place in the 1960s, grounding it firmly in the civil rights movement.
  • We’ll get to see Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) with hair, before he is bound to a wheelchair. Both he and his eventual nemesis Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) will be in their late 20s.
  • January Jones and Kevin Bacon are playing Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw, meaning that the Hellfire Club will play a major role in the film.
  • X-Men: First Class will have an “international” feel, giving it what Knowles describes as a “James Bond vibe.”
  • The costumes will be “far more comic bookish.” Does that mean Cyclops, Jean Grey and co. will be donning the old-school blue and yellow tights? Stay tuned, True Believers.
X-Men: First Class starts filming on August 31. For the full story, click here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Looking Back and Moving Forward at Star Wars Celebration V

As most geeks are probably well aware, Star Wars Celebration V took place this past weekend in Orlando (ha, Lando). This particular Force-centric convention celebrated the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, considered by many to be the best film in the saga, but it also clued fans in on some upcoming developments pertaining to that galaxy far, far away.

George Lucas and co. unveiled an exciting new trailer for the anticipated third season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which kicks off September 17. The clip introduces Savage Oppress, a servant of the dark side and a formidable new threat to the Galactic Republic. Oppress is a Zabrak, the same species as Phantom Menace baddie Darth Maul. I’m guessing he’s savage and, well, oppresses people from time to time. Sigh.

“It’s important that when creating a new character that they become iconic,” says Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni. “It was important that you don’t confuse him with Darth Maul—we couldn’t make him red and black so we made him yellow and black.”

Okay, cool, I dig the look of the character (pictured above), but the name? After General Grievous, Cad Bane and now this guy, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next major Star Wars villain gets saddled with the name Evil Vicious. it’s almost as if the creative team at Lucasfilm just picks synonyms for “bad” out of the thesaurus and calls it a day when it comes to naming new villains. I’d go on, but since The Clone Wars is an excellent show overall, I’ll let the lazy monikers slide for now.

Perhaps the biggest piece of Star Wars news to come out of Celebration V was the announcement that the entire Star Wars saga will arrive on Blu-ray in the fall of 2011. The boxed set will feature all six films and extensive special features, including deleted scenes. Among this never-before-released footage is an introductory sequence from Return of the Jedi that shows Luke Skywalker building his lightsaber.

Reportedly (and expectedly), the set will not include the unaltered pre-Special Edition versions of the first three films. On the contrary, we’d all be wise to expect entirely new alterations to the original trilogy when the set hits shelves next fall.

For complete Celebration V coverage, visit StarWars.com.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

'BioShock' Takes to the Skies

As much as I loved the original 2007 BioShock, I could never bring myself to purchase its sequel, released earlier this year. I’d heard good things, but the general critical consensus was that it was well crafted, but it was essentially a retread of the first game. Now, if you’re aiming to rehash a game, BioShock certainly provided a great template: it was fun, engrossing, looked amazing and provided a great deal of story without force-feeding it to the player. I welcomed a return to the underwater dystopia of Rapture, but part of me wanted something new and fresh for the follow-up that would justify shelling out another $60. Fortunately, Irrational Games’ BioShock Infinite looks to be exactly what I was waiting for. After all, what better way to freshen up the franchise than by taking it from the depths of the ocean to the clouds?

BioShock Infinite takes place in 1912 in the airborne, hyper-patriotic American city of Columbia. Gaming blog Kotaku reports that Irrational—which did not develop BioShock 2—has been working on this project since wrapping up the original BioShock.

Although it takes place prior to the first game, Irrational’s creative director Ken Levin does not consider it a prequel.

“I don’t want to think about that,” Levine told Kotaku. “I don’t think it’s particularly constructive to have that conversation.”

But, like in the first game, BioShock Infinite transports the player to a crumbling would-be utopia. Levine describes it as a symbol of turn-of-the-century American Exceptionalism.

“This is not a floating world’s fair,” he said. “Columbia is a Death Star.”

Consider my interest piqued. Click here to watch the trailer.