Some 600,000 volumes were published in English last year. Here’s a few of the best.Read the rest
Hits and misses from a year packed with big-screen science fiction and fantasyRead the rest
A splendid time with the actor-writer-blogger-geek-champion turned host of TableTopRead the rest
Ethan Gilsdorf gets a sneak peak inside the definitive nerd BibleRead the rest
Ethan Gilsdorf explains why Socrates would have made a good DM and that John Stuart Mill was Lawful Neutral. Catch his talk on Head-Banging, Dice-Rolling, and Summoning Demons tonight in Cambridge, Mass.Read the rest
Ethan Gilsdorf talks to the Monty Python’s Flying Circus alum about his career, his new autobiography, and his limbs.Read the rest
Ethan Gilsdorf meets with the team who animated The Boxtrolls, where old school stop-motion is merged with the latest in CGIRead the rest
Ethan Gilsdorf reports on the most awesome hotel in the country. Meet Stanley the Stegosaurus and friends!Read the rest
A group of boys, aged 9 to 11, plays D&D every other weekend, but their parties never include girls their age. Meredith Jacobson’s DnDnG explores the possibility that their female friends could enjoy the game just as much as they do. By Ethan Gilsdorf.Read the rest
Ethan Gilsdorf gets a first-look at some incredible high-res art from the latest edition of the classic pen-and-paper role-playing game.Read the rest
Ethan Gilsdorf celebrates the origins of D&D and presents Jon Peterson’s exclusive video tour of the place where E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson set out on their first adventuresRead the rest
Ethan Gilsdorf interviews John Howe, Tolkien Illustrator and Conceptual Designer of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Movie TrilogiesRead the rest
Godzilla, like our inner self run amok and gone berserk, just needs a warm mug of cocoa and a good hug. Ethan Gilsdorf on Hollywood’s latest rendering of the kaiju classic.Read the rest
“When I don’t know what to do, I do that!” announces British cartoonist and artist Ralph Steadman in For No Good Reason, just before he unleashes a signature splat of ink onto a sheet of paper. “It just might lead somewhere.” Ethan Gilsdorf interviews the documentary’s director, Charlie PaulRead the rest
Ethan Gilsdorf on the show that embodied the “innovative, lunacy, hope, and fear of the Sixties”Read the rest
In the near future posited by the film Transcendence, which opens today, residents of Berkeley, California are living in a kind of police state. The power grid is down. No computers, no Internet. Which means no Facebook, either (thank God). A shopkeeper uses a beat-up laptop as a doorstop. We know the end days are especially dire because a dirt-caked, cracked cell phone lies lifelessly on the sidewalk. Its technological purpose has been reduced to mere object. A potential tool for an enterprising human. Recall the opening scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey: Instead of apes smashing skulls with bones, the aftermath survivors of Transcendence may as well be wielding their iPhones as weapons.
“They say there’s power in Boston, some phone service in Denver,” intones a melancholic Paul Bettany, playing a neurobiologist named Dr. Max Waters. We quickly discover Max had a hand in creating all this mess. After what he calls an “inevitable collision” between humankind and technology, “things are far from what they were." Existence itself, he says, “feels smaller” without the Internet.
That’s all, folks. Welcome to the not-so-brave world of the new Johnny Depp anti-technology thriller Transcendence. Read the rest
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If Her was all about Scarlett Johansson's off-screen presence–the vagaries of her voice, and what meaning might be read into its inflections–Under the Skin is all about Johansson's looks. And her looking. At you. It's about skin, and bodies, and silent facades. Johansson plays her extraterrestrial invader practically as a mute.
The script for Under the Skin, which opens today in New York City and Los Angeles, and April 11 in select U.S. cities, probably contains a few thousand words of dialogue, max. What conversation there is bridges long silences. Viewers will find no traditional alien versus human action. No chases, or gun battles, or heads exploding with green goo. No little green men or tattooed Klingon wannabes hatching plans to destroy the earth, either.
Likewise, fanboys (and girls) drooling over Johansson won't be treated to some mindless sexcapade. As a nameless woman, Johansson cruises the streets of Glasgow, using her newfound wiles to seduce men for her nefarious purposes. She's an alien femme fatale, and once she's snared you in her spell, gentlemen, her sultry face clicks back to its poker-faced, robotic demeanor. Look out.
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A problem crops up when filmmakers try to adapt epic fantasy worlds to the big screen—particularly beloved, richly-imagined literary ones. Sacrifices must be made. Characters are cut, and plotlines are re-routed. Scenes and places don’t match what readers have pictured with their minds. Fans of the original book cry foul.
In the case of director Alejandro Jodorowsky, his vision for Frank Herbert’s masterwork Dune was so over the top, so surreal (and, at times, so absurd), it probably would have blown the minds of critics before they had a chance to grumble.
That is, if Jodorowsky’s translation and transmogrification of Dune had ever been made. It never was.Read the rest
If you remember the first film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, the 1978 animated version by Ralph Bakshi–the legendary outsider director behind Fritz the Cat, Wizards, American Pop and Fire and Ice–you’ll recall the experience was a mixed bag.
The movie was a dark, moody, oversaturated vision of Tolkien’s world, with stunning design and many memorable scenes. Bakshi used rotoscoping to trace live footage for animation, and posterization to give it a rough, hand-made look. Both techniques allowed many corners to be cut, but at the time, the film’s PR claimed Rings was the “the first movie painting.”
Sadly, Bakshi’s 133-minute film left viewers stranded after the battle at Helm’s Deep, just as Gollum is about to lead Sam and Frodo into Mordor. Roughly two-thirds through Tolkien’s three-part story, Bakshi didn't get to make the final installment. Rankin-Bass, the studio behind the 1977 TV adaptation of The Hobbit, churned out The Return of the King as a “sequel” in 1980, with little artistic resemblance to Bakshi’s vision.
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Interview with Jim Mickle, director of "We Are What We Are," a horror film in the guise of a serious drama
Jim Mickle carves out a niche as an art-house horror upstart.Read the rest
The death of stop-motion animation pioneer Ray Harryhausen raises questions about the future of special effects, writes Ethan Gilsdorf. In the good old days, it did not take so much to trick the eye.Read the rest