SYFY WIRE Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror News en SYFY WIRE 144 144 20 Thu, 28 May 2020 13:55:59 -0400 Thu, 28 May 2020 15:00:20 -0400 What's getting Team FANGRRLS through quarantine the week of May 25 <p>Let's be honest: things are different right now, and we don't necessarily have a sense of when that will change, but for now, we're doing whatever we can to get through it. That's why SYFY FANGRRLS is offering our latest series in what's helping us take some of the edge off of this whole shelter-in-place sitch, whether it's playing a new game, watching (or rewatching) a favorite TV show, staring at an actor's gorgeous face... you name it, we're probably doing it.</p> <p>So what have some of the members of Team FANGRRLS been relying on to get themselves through quarantine this week? Let them tell you in their own words.</p> coronavirus Fangrrls lists syfywire-post-211492 Thu, 28 May 2020 15:00:20 -0400 SYFY WIRE Carly Lane WIRE Buzz: 'Upgrade' upgraded to TV; Nolan avoided 007 making Tenet; Wonder Woman 1984 <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em>Upgrade</em></a>, <a href="" target="_blank">Leigh Whannell</a>'s Blumhouse sleeper sci-fi hit from 2018, is headed for the small screen. The director co-created the series along with Tim Walsh (<em>Treadstone</em>) and both will serve as executive producers, with Walsh occupying the role of showrunner. Jason Blum and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones are producing as well.</p> <p>In terms of story, the show "picks up a few years after the events of the film and broadens the universe with an evolved version of STEM and a new host - imaging a world in which the government repurposes STEM to help curb criminal activity," reads the synopsis obtained by SYFY WIRE. </p> <p>A writer's room has already commenced for the first season and Whannell is expected to direct an unknown number of episodes. <em>The Purge</em> vets Krystal Ziv Houghton and James Roland are also part of the writing team. It's unclear whether or not this is the sequel project Blum <a href="" target="_blank">confirmed in 2018</a>, or if a big screen follow-up is still in the works as well.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>Written and directed by Whannell, the<em> Upgrade </em>movie follows Grey Trace (<em>Prometheus</em>' Logan Marshall-Green), a man left paralyzed by a brutal mugging that resulted in the death of his wife (Melanie Vallejo). Resigned to giving up on life, Grey gets second chance when an experimental chip implant called "STEM" not only makes him mobile again, but turns his body into a living weapon. Armed with deadly skills and STEM's voice inside his head, he sets out to avenge his wife's murder.</p> <p>The film brought in $17 million against a $3 million budget and currently holds <a href="" target="_blank">an 88 percent</a> on Rotten Tomatoes. Whannell most recently helmed Universal's<em> The Invisible Man</em> and is already working with Blum <a href="" target="_blank">on a new movie</a>.</p> <hr /><p>It's no secret that <a href="" target="_blank">Christopher Nolan</a> is a massive<em> <a href="" target="_blank">James Bond</a></em> die-hard. One of his favorite movies ever is <em>On Her Majesty's Secret Service</em>, whose alpine setting inspired <em>Inception</em>'s snowy fortress climax. Given his adoration for 007, Nolan actually forced himself to avoid watching any of those films while he was making <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Tenet</em></a>, which is meant to be the director's unique contribution to the spy-fi genre.</p> <p>“This is definitely the longest period of time I’ve ever gone in my life without watching a <em>James Bond</em> film. My love of the spy genre comes from the <em>Bond</em> franchise, and the Bond character very specifically," the filmmaker said during <a href="" target="_blank">a Total Film interview</a>, admitting that he didn't screen any adjacent films for the cast and crew prior to shooting.</p> <p>"I think we all have the spy genre so in our bones and in our fingertips. I actually wanted to work from a memory and a feeling of that genre, rather than the specifics," Nolan added. "I don’t need to reference the movies and look at them again."</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe><figcaption><p>Warner Bros. Pictures on YouTube</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Even with <a href="" target="_blank">a meaty trailer released last week</a>, plot details remain hazy. All we know is that John David Washington (<em>BlacKkKlansman</em>) plays a secret agent working to prevent World War III. There's some kind of time manipulation element to the plot as well — a concept that Washington's character refers to as "inversion." Other than that, all bets are off, but you can expect the scope to be huge. So huge, in fact, that Nolan <a href="" target="_blank">got to crash an actual 747</a> for one of the action set pieces.</p> <p>"It’s about trying to re-engage with your childhood connection with those movies, with the feeling of what it’s like to go someplace new, someplace fresh," the director continued. "It actually has to take them somewhere they haven’t been before, and that’s why no one’s ever been able, really, to do their own version of <em>James Bond</em> or something. It doesn’t work. And that’s not at all what this is. This is much more my attempt to create the sort of excitement in grand-scale entertainment I felt from those movies as a kid, in my own way."</p> <p>The supporting cast is equally as impressive: Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh, Elizabeth Debicki, Michael Caine, Himesh Patel, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Clémence Poésy, Denzil Smith, Dimple Kapadia, and Martin Donovan.</p> <p>If Warner Bros. ends up pushing the film to the holiday season as a result of pandemic, then it could potentially go up against the 25th <em>Bond </em>movie, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>No Time to Die</em></a>.</p> <hr /><p>Setting her <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Wonder Woman</em> sequel in 1984</a> allowed director <a href="" target="_blank">Patty Jenkins</a> to take full advantage of the time period's fashions, music, economics, and, above all, movie-making. Speaking with SFX Magazine for <a href="" target="_blank">the publication's June issue</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">Chris Pine</a> (who is reprising the role of Steve Trevor) compared <em>WW84</em> to the heyday of Steven Spielberg, which just so happened to be in the 1980s. In particular, '84 was the year that saw the debuts of <em>Temple of Doom</em> and <em>Gremlins</em>.</p> <p>"This film is <em>fun</em>," Pine said. "We got to use all the great, bold, colorful excess of the '80s, use that aesthetic and tell a really fun story that has a good message at the end. Ultimately, this is in the sphere of that great '80s Spielberg filmmaking."</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="933" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Warner Bros.</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Also chatting with the magazine, Jenkins shed a little more light on what that "good message" is.</p> <p>"I hope [audiences] will take away really challenging themselves to be heroes in the face of great complexity," she explained. "Because that is what's so important. It is <em>us</em> that has to save the world because there is no Wonder Woman, and it is complex. But the thematics of it really are, we have to look and think about the world we're living in and how we can save it. That's really what I'm trying to do with Wonder Woman in general, is pass it down to the people that watch it. <em>You</em> have to be Wonder Woman now."</p> <p><em>Wonder Woman 1984</em> is slated to hit theaters Friday, August 14. Gal Gadot (Diana Prince), Kristen Wiig (Cheetah), and Pedro Pascal (Maxwell Lord) co-star.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> James Bond Leigh Whannell Tenet Upgrade WIRE Buzz Wonder Woman 1984 Movies TV News syfywire-post-211491 Thu, 28 May 2020 14:54:14 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss Our solar system emerged from the Milky Way and another galaxy smashing into each other <p>Galaxies may look serene and otherworldy in all those NASA photos, but how they actually came into being was the total opposite.</p> <p>Violence ruled the early universe. About 5.7 billion years ago, the nascent Milky Way collided with the Sagittarius galaxy. Astrophysicist Tomás Ruiz-Lara and his research team now believe this is how most of the stars in our galaxy emerged. There was already existing evidence for Sagittarius crashing into the disc of the Milky Way not just once, but three (possibly four) times over several billion years. After looking at data from ESA’s orbital space telescope Gaia, the team found out it is that these galactic mergers were much more intense than previously assumed — and the result was an onslaught of stars.</p> <p>“Galaxy major mergers are thought to be one of the main factors triggering star formation in galaxies, and are predicted to have clear effects on their chemical evolution,” Ruiz-Lara and colleagues said in a study recently published in PLOS ONE, adding that “massive mergers play a critical rose in the formation of galaxies, including the Milky Way.”</p> <p>Just how complex the Milky Way actually is remained unknown until Gaia shed more light on it through 3D maps of the entire galaxy and the positions of its stars. The problem with previous conclusions about our galaxy’s star formation history is that they either focused on just the solar system and its close surroundings or were unable to isolate the star formation events that made the Milky Way what it is now. These events happened about 5.7, 19 and 1 billion years ago (star formation decreased with every event as it does in massive spiral galaxies like ours). Some studies even missed the oldest and most immense burst of star births.</p> <p>Gaia’s observations revealed that more stars formed in the thicker part of the Milky Way disc, though these were mostly older. Fewer but younger stars showed up in the thinner part of the disc. While stars have been emerging in the Milky Way throughout its existence, the collision 5.7 billion years ago produced the most stars in both areas of the disc, meaning that this was likely the most powerful star-forming event our galaxy has ever seen. This is the one that the Sun is thought to have spawned from. It was supposedly created when a monster nebula couldn’t handle its own gravity and collapsed under it. Now the Sun’s gravity holds the planets and moons of the solar system in place and influences geological conditions and phenomena.</p> <p>Gaia even suggested a possible fourth star formation event that happened during the third event and lasted for the final 70 million years. That’s nothing in the cosmos.</p> <p>If the Milky Way and Sagittarius had a Facebook relationship status, it would say “it’s complicated”. It was the gravitational pull of the Milky Way that ensnared Sagittarius and brought them close enough to crash. So how did encounters with Sagittarius lead to the formation of so many stars? Galactic mergers release gargantuan amounts of energy, sending a shock wave through the galaxy cluster and sending the gases within those galaxies into chaos. Such turbulence brings on a huge collapse that sets off the formation of cold, dense gaseous clouds that embryonic stars thrive in. Stars tend to multiply fast in the wake of such a phenomenon. They also tend to live fast and die young. Most of them perish after only a few million years, then explode into supernovae.</p> <p>The force from supernova after supernova shoves huge amounts of gas out of the galaxy. Any surviving gas is consumed by star formation — not that there is enough left for another baby boom of stars. With the galaxy out of fuel, it just stagnates in space. “Pinpointing the causes of these star formation episodes will boost our knowledge of our own galaxy history, providing crucial information on the processes driving star formation on galactic scales,” Ruiz-Lara said.</p> <p>Would this happen again? Unlikely. There is no proof of anything like this occurring in the late history of the Milky Way, so at least that’s one way doomsday will never happen.</p> Milky Way Science space Science News syfywire-post-211489 Thu, 28 May 2020 14:23:33 -0400 SYFY WIRE Elizabeth Rayne WIRE Buzz: Doom Patrol S2 first look; Kipo S2 trailer; Paul Feig's 'The School For Good And Evil' <p>DC Universe’s weirdest superhero show, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Doom Patrol</em></a> (sorry, <em>Harley Quinn</em>), is on its way <a href="" target="_blank">back for a second season</a> and fans of the oddball comic team should be thrilled by the implications of the finale. The show’s debut effort ended with the briefest introduction to the daughter of the Chief (Timothy Dalton): <a href="" target="_blank">Dorothy Spinner</a>. Those in the know recognized Dorothy as a key character (and powerful psychic) that takes part in some of the Patrol’s most iconic storylines. Now that the team is heading to a second season (and a new streamer, HBO Max), fans can get a first look at what the season has in store — including Dorothy.</p> <p>Taken from the first episode of the second season — "Fun Size Patrol" — the below photos show off Abigail Shapiro’s take on Dorothy, as well as the return of occult P.I. Willoughby Kipling (Mark Sheppard), who’s basically like John Constantine’s even less-dependable cousin.</p> <p>Take a look:</p> <iframe src="" frameborder="0" width="320" height="320" allowTransparency="true"></iframe> <p>Fans can also see Dorothy (on a yellow brick road and everything) in the DC Universe poster:</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="2100" /><figcaption><p>Source: DC Universe</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Glad to see Dorothy has some of the facial differences her character has in the comic, though her origins in the series are still undefined. And how these folks fixed their <em>Honey, I Shrunk the Kids </em>problem from the S1 finale is unexplained, but everything seems relatively normal. That’s weirdly unsettling for <em>Doom Patrol</em>, especially since comic fans know that it’s only a matter of time before Dorothy starts bringing her violent imaginary friends to life.</p> <p><em>Doom Patrol </em>also features Robotman (voiced by Brendan Fraser, physically performed by Riley Shanahan), Negative Man (voiced by Matt Bomer, physically performed by Matthew Zuk), Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), Cyborg (Joivan Wade), and Rita Farr (April Bowlby).</p> <p><em>Doom Patrol</em>’s second season hits both DC Universe and HBO Max on June 25.</p> <hr /><p>Next, one of Netflix’s bounty of Dreamworks animated shows is coming back for <a href="" target="_blank">a colorful second season</a> — and fans are getting a first glimpse of it in action. The post-apocalyptic adventures of <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts</em></a>, which sees Kipo (Karen Fukuhara) take on the brainwashing mandrill Scarlemagne (Dan Stevens) and plenty of other crazy threats, is coming back for S2’s ten new episodes.</p> <p>Take a look:</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>Action can wait. What’s a post-apocalypse for if not karaoke? It’s not like anyone has time to make NEW music. Las Vistas will need to bow to Kipo’s mysterious abilities and her friends’ teamwork if it wants to escape from the villainous clutches of Scarlemagne—even if that means listening to mutant pigs, talking bugs, and more.</p> <p>The cast also includes Sydney Mikayla, Coy Stewart, Deon Cole, Dee Bradley Baker, Sterling K. Brown, Jake Green, Lea DeLaria, and Amy Landecker—who is the newest face among the bunch as the secretive Dr. Emilia.<br />  <br /><em>Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts </em>returns to Netflix on June 12.</p> <hr /><p>Finally, the man behind the all-female <em>Ghostbusters</em> team-up is heading to Netflix for a new adaptation: <a href="" target="_blank">Paul Feig</a> is going to direct <em>The School For Good And Evil</em>, which will take on the first book of author Soman Chainani’s New York Times bestselling series.</p> <p>According to <a href="" target="_blank">Deadline</a>, the story about fairy tale schoolmates Sophie and Agatha (and their branching, unexpected paths to princess-hood and utter villainy) will get a script from David Magee (<em>Mary Poppins Returns</em>) and Laura Solon (<em>Let It Snow</em>). Think <em>Wicked</em> meets <em>Harry Potter</em>.</p> <p>Comic antics and otherworldy genre elements seem like a natural fit for Feig, who says he's "truly excited to bring this amazing, touching, funny, and empowering world that Soman created in his wonderful books to life. I feel like a frog that just turned into a prince." Feig is currently working on a script for the <a href="" target="_blank">monster movie <em>Dark Army</em></a>.</p> <p>The final book in the six-part series, <em>The School of Good and Evil: One True King</em>, is coming out on June 2.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Doom Patrol First Look Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts Netflix Paul Feig The School For Good and Evil Trailers Movies TV News syfywire-post-211490 Thu, 28 May 2020 13:35:45 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jacob Oller Amanda Ripley, space bae <p>Women in space kicking all kinds of human, alien, and/or synthetic ass is a subgenre that produces some top-tier space bae content. One of its most iconic contributions, Ellen Ripley, came from the <em>Alien</em> franchise. Thankfully for us, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree — or, in the case of Ellen and her daughter, Amanda, the flamethrower doesn’t fall far from the sleep pod. Long after her mom made a grand gesture of love by blowing up the Nostromo and roasting a xenomorph like a Christmas ham, Amanda Ripley finds herself stepping into her mom’s jumpsuit. When the Ripley women are around, no xenomorph formed against them shall prosper. </p> <p>For those who aren’t familiar with the <em>Alien</em> franchise, Ellen Ripley left her daughter on earth for a job that was only supposed to keep her away for two years. Unfortunately, that return was delayed indefinitely thanks to Weyland-Yutani sending her and her crew to the gates of hell in the form of an orbiting moon named LV-426. They encounter a xenomorph that kills everyone except Ripley, and even though she survives, she’s left floating in a space lifeboat. In <em>Aliens</em>, Ripley is found some 57 years later, but Amanda is no longer alive. The video game and novelization, both titled <em>Alien: Isolation</em>, give Amanda her chance to remind us exactly whose daughter she is and why she’s without a doubt a space bae alum in her own right.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="788" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Creative Assembly, Sega, Alien: Isolation</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>When we meet Amanda Ripley in <em>Alien: Isolation</em>, she’s 26 and still dealing with the trauma of never knowing exactly why her mother was unable to keep her promise to return for her 11th birthday. Fifteen years later, Amanda learns the flight recorder of the Nostromo has been located after a Weyland-Yutani android, Christopher Samuels, offers her a place on the retrieval team. She agrees to go even though she doesn’t actually trust Weyland-Yutani and doesn't believe that the flight recorder exists.</p> <p>Despite her reservations, the need for closure regarding her missing mother is the deciding factor. So, Amanda makes the journey to the Seegson Cooperation space station, the supposed location of the Nostromo flight recorder. The moment that Amanda, Samuels, and the Weyland-Yutani executive Nina Taylor try to board the Seegson, all hell breaks loose. Unbeknownst to Amanda, the trajectory her life takes after her mother goes missing prepares her for every obstacle she faces while on the Seegson, including her encounters with the same creatures her mother met. Spoiler alert: Amanda is the lone survivor who not only defeats not one, not two, but several xenomorphs and a nest — and it’s not even the best part of her heroic journey. </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="788" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Creative Assembly, Sega, Alien: Isolation</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>The <em>Alien: Isolation</em> novelization offers an even deeper look at the life Amanda had without her mother. She's a gifted engineer who is often far more capable than those making the decisions around her. Swap Amanda's job title for Chief Warrant Officer and this sounds awfully reminiscent of Ellen Ripley. Amanda’s uncanny intelligence and maturity are what help her survive to raise herself after her mother goes missing. The stepfather she is left with is an alcoholic who spends more time with his head tilted back than working and taking care of Amanda. At 16, she becomes the sole provider after her stepfather injures his back while drinking on the job. Amanda drops out of school, but her high aptitude for engineering helps her secure a job that keeps them from living on the street and going hungry. </p> <p>In the same way that Ellen Ripley’s determination is rooted in wanting to keep her daughter safe, Amanda’s determination is rooted in her need to find out what happened to her mother. This desire to learn Ellen's fate is used against her several times by people who want nothing more than to scam her out of what little money she has. But those encounters are crucial in helping her discern who’s helpful and who isn’t while making her way through the space station as she faces desperate humans, murderous androids, and the universe’s most lethal life form. Unlike her mother — whose story slowly unravels into chaos — Amanda's situation <em>begins</em> in chaos and she is forced to immediately rely on her own perseverance, engineering skills, and quick wit. For Amanda, the space station has <em>already</em> been ravaged by a xenomorph on the loose. However, like her mother, both their stories begin due to someone’s inability to follow protocol, forgoing it in selfishness. </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="788" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Creative Assembly, Sega, Alien: Isolation</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>At one point, Amanda finds herself trapped on a dislodged space module, careening towards a near-by gas giant with the lone xenomorph that turned the space station into a floating coffin. Thanks to her quick thinking and desperation to survive, she manages to space jump from the module back to the space station in nothing but an EVA suit. It’s a gutsy move, but it’s one that Amanda makes without a second thought. </p> <p>Ellen Ripley would be proud of the way Amanda handles herself against everything thrown at her, including self-doubt. Amanda battles her inner demons while battling literal demons, making her survival as much of psychological horror as it is a physical one. She pretty much goes through years of therapy in the time it takes her to finally learn the truth of what happened to her mom. Amanda deals with abandonment, anxiety, depression, and host of additional baggage while fighting or running away from rogue androids and xenomorphs. She finds healing and forgiveness for herself by the time she finishes listening to the Nostromo flight recorder, which contains the same monologue Ellen Ripley gives at the end of <em>Alien</em>. All the time Amanda spent being angry with her mother disappears once she has a full understanding of the urgency her mother must have felt when she decided she had to prevent Weyland-Yuntani from getting their hands on a xenomorph specimen. There is beauty in the way Amanda not only accepts her destiny to join the battle against Weyland-Yutani, as her mother did years ago, but also how she acknowledges the sheer magnitude of the love her mother had for her to act so bravely and unselfishly.</p> <p><em>Alien: Isolation</em> ends with Amanda floating in space after destroying the ship the xenomorph was brought back on, the space station, and the ship she arrived on. She risks drifting in space until her oxygen runs out all in the vain of ensuring every single xenomorph is exterminated. It's an act of selflessness that clearly runs in the Ripley family — an act worthy of the space bae title and a spot right next to her mom's retired jumpsuit in the rafters. </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="845" height="465" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Creative Assembly, Sega, Alien: Isolation</p></figcaption></figure></div> Alien: Isolation Fangrrls Merry Month of Bae Movies Games syfywire-post-211443 Thu, 28 May 2020 13:00:10 -0400 SYFY WIRE Stephanie Williams The Churn: Max Brooks' World War Z <p>What has two heads, four arms, and an unslakable desire for post-apocalyptic content? The hosts of SYFY’s <em>The Expanse</em> podcast, <a href="">The Churn</a>!</p> <p>That’s right, while the premiere of Season 5 of <em>The Expanse</em> is still months away, <a href="">Ana Marie Cox</a> and <a href="">Daniel W. Drezner</a> could not stop thinking about how it might be diverting to apply their brand of political science-meets-science-fiction analysis to content that has, unfortunately, come very close to home: fiction that addresses world-threatening disease outbreaks. Thus was born <strong>The Churn: Pandemic Edition</strong>.</p> <p>Now: A disease with its origins in China that the Chinese Communist Party covers up with bellicose actions on its borders. An infection that soon acquires a racist moniker. The pandemic spreads and governments either deny there is a serious problem or do the least amount possible to ward it off. Bureaucracies that try to combat the current conflict with tactics to address the previous conflict. Societies ranging from North Korea to South Africa respond with wildly different approaches.</p> <p>No, this isn't about Covid-19, but damn it sounds familiar: it's the premise of what Dan claims is the best zombie novel ever written, Max Brooks’ <a href=""><em>World War Z</em></a>. Ana and Dan discuss why the novel feels so real even though it's about a disease that reanimates dead people. Brooks, inspired by Studs Terkel's oral histories, crafts a gripping narrative that spans the globe (and outer space) with a cast of characters that range from a Karl Rove facsimile to a Japanese computer jockey-turned-samurai to a South African white supremacist with the key to defeating the undead.</p> <p>In the second half of the episode, <a href="">Max Brooks</a> drops by to discuss the origins of his groundbreaking novel, his thoughts on the film adaptation, and what, in his opinion, is the greatest disease facing the United States in 2020.</p> <p>Listen below!</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive audio"> <iframe src="" style="width: 640px; height: 200px; border: 0 none;" width="640" height="200" scrolling="no"></iframe> <audio ><source src="" type="audio/ogg"></audio> <img src=""> </figure></div> <p><strong><a href="" target="_blank">Click here for the podcast's RSS feed.</a></strong></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Subscribe on iTunes here.</strong></a></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Subscribe on Google Play here.</strong></a></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Subscribe on Stitcher here.</strong></a></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Click here for previous episodes of The Churn.</strong></a></p> <p>If you have questions for the cast and crew, tweet us <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>@syfywire</strong></a> with the hashtag #TheChurn.</p> Max Brooks Podcast The Churn The Expanse World War Z Movies Features syfywire-post-211488 Thu, 28 May 2020 13:00:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Bryan Enk The 15 best summer movies ever made, from Jaws to The Avengers <p>It’s ironic that, at a time when we could all really use our traditional dose of escapist summer movie fare at the movie theater, we are unable to do so right now. But that doesn’t mean we can’t replicate that experience from the comfort and safety of our own couches. Which, honestly, are infinitely more comfortable than squeaky movie theater seats.</p> <p>Ever since <a href=""><em>Jaws</em></a> hit theaters in the summer of 1975, Hollywood has rushed to pack multiplexes with its latest and greatest blockbusters vying for our allowance money to feast on their CG eye candy. And while every summer slate is packed with popcorn entertainment, only a few earn “Best Ever” status.</p> <p>As <em>Jaws</em> celebrates its 45th anniversary this year as the first real summer hit that kicked off the blockbuster era, here’s a look back at the best summer movies (in order of release) that ruled over the competition.</p> lists opinion Movies Features syfywire-post-211482 Thu, 28 May 2020 13:00:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Caitlin Busch WIRE Buzz: Ruby Rose talks Batwoman exit; James Mangold shares Logan goodies; S.H.I.E.L.D. ratings <p><a href="" target="_blank">Ruby Rose</a> shocked the world last week by announcing that she <a href="" target="_blank">was parting ways</a> with The CW's <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Batwoman</em></a> series. After releasing a statement, the actress has been rather silent over the matter, with production insiders <a href="" target="_blank">filling in the gaps</a> of what really went down. Rose finally broke her silence last night, thanking the show's crew members in a lengthy Instagram post.</p> <p>"Thank you everyone for coming on this journey," she wrote. "If I mentioned everyone, it would be 1000 tags...but Thank you to the cast, crew, producers, and studio. It wasn’t an easy decision, but those who know, know...I didn’t want to not acknowledge everyone involved and how big this was for TV and for our community. I have stayed silent because that’s my choice for now but know I adore you all. I’m sure next season will be amazing also. Xxx *hangs up cowl and cape.*</p> <iframe src="" frameborder="0" width="320" height="320" allowTransparency="true"></iframe> <p>The CW is reportedly looking for another LGBTQ+ actress to replace Rose for Season 2.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Arrowverse</a> vet Marc Guggenheim (<em>Arrow</em>, <em>Legends of Tomorrow</em>) described the overall recasting situation — however strange, it's <a href="" target="_blank">not without precedent</a> — as <a href="" target="_blank">"a great creative opportunity."</a></p> <p>"I’m a big believer that anytime you face a production challenge, and sometimes it’s in cast while sometimes it’s just logistics, in that challenge, lies a creative opportunity," he said.</p> <hr /><p>With shooting on <em><a href="" target="_blank">Indiana Jones 5</a> </em>delayed indefinitely, director <a href="" target="_blank">James Mangold</a> decided to participate in a Twitter watch party of 2017's<em> <a href="" target="_blank">Logan</a></em>. The filmmaker, who also helmed 2013's <em>The Wolverine</em>, shared a wealth of behind-the-scenes tidbits, photos, concept art, script pages, and pre-visualization videos. There are plenty of goodies to be found on <a href="" target="_blank">the director's Twitter page</a>, including a rationalization for why Hugh Jackman never wore the iconic Wolverine mask.</p> <p>"Sorry. He never put it on," wrote the director. "We never even made a version of the outfit. Everything about his character as I understand it, would keep him from donning a self-promoting 'uniform.' I'm sure the next incarnation of the Wolverine will go there." </p> <p>By "the next iteration" he means the MCU take on the character now that Disney owns the screen rights to the X-Men. Another interesting admission is that Mangold never thought he'd get away with a demented Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) being responsible for the accidental death of certain mutants.</p> <p>"I need there be a profound tragedy behind them. Grateful 4 the bravery of Fox & audiences for embracing," he wrote.</p> <p></p> <p>The final <em>X-Men </em>adventure for Jackman's James Howlett, <em>Logan</em> made almost $620 million at the global box office. The screenplay (written by Mangold, Scott Frank, and Michael Green) got nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, but lost to <em>Call Me by Your Name</em>.</p> <p>"I tried to make a film that put us in the shoes of Gods. Frail Gods. So we could feel their disappointment in us," Mangold <a href="" target="_blank">said during the watch party</a>. "And also their exhaustion. The movie is, for me, undeniably political. About an age when we hide in consumerism, distracted in fantasy, as our real world burns."</p> <hr /><p>The <a href="" target="_blank">seventh and final season</a> of <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.</em></a> debuted to just under 2 million viewers last night, <a href="" target="_blank">according to TVLine</a>. <a href="" target="_blank">The premiere episode</a> (titled "The New Deal") nabbed a "0.4 demo rating, matching both its previous average (2.2 mil/0.4) and its Season 6 finale (1.9 mil/0.4) in the demo," reads the report.</p> <p>The <em>Endgame</em>-y swan song for the long-running Marvel show on ABC finds Coulson and the rest of the team heading back in time to save...HYDRA. DUN! DUN! DUN! Naming the episode after FDR's economic recovery plan during the Great Depression is a great way to call attention to the 1930s setting.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="933" /><figcaption><p>Credit: ABC</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent">“For any fan that [has] watched us from Season 1, [Season 7 is] similar to the Framework in Season 4, where it’s just so exciting to see all the characters in such a different environment,” Chloe Bennet, who plays Daisy Johnson, <a href="" target="_blank">told SYFY WIRE</a>. “To have the environment change so much and challenge the characters in new and different ways, and challenge those relationships, that was really fun."</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Batwoman James Mangold Logan Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Ruby Rose WIRE Buzz Movies TV News syfywire-post-211484 Thu, 28 May 2020 12:40:46 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss Just A Couple Of Arselings: The Last Kingdom Podcast - Season 4, Episode 8 <p>As <em><a href="">The Last Kingdom</a></em> nears the end of its fourth season, the stakes feel higher than ever. After the death of Aethelred, as ineffectual as he was, the lords of Mercia are all looking for a power grab. Edward throws his political weight behind Uhtred as Mercia's interim ruler, but Uhtred knows who deserves that honor more: Aethelflaed.</p> <p>Unfortunately, this means the end of Uhtred and Aethelflaed's romance. Duty and honor over love and all that. However, these two remain strong allies even if the making out is over, which is a good thing because a new threat is gathering power. Sigtrygger is different than the Danish lords that have come before him. He's patient, he's measured, and he's not just looking for bloodshed. This might piss Brida off, but it might make him an even bigger danger than the warlords that have come before him.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive audio"> <iframe src="" style="width: 640px; height: 200px; border: 0 none;" width="640" height="200" scrolling="no"></iframe> <audio ><source src="" type="audio/ogg"></audio> <img src=""> </figure></div> <p><a href="">Join FANGRRLS Jessica Lynn Toomer and Alyssa Fikse</a> as they take you back in time and through every episode of Netflix's <em>The Last Kingdom</em>. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts!</p> Fangrrls Just a Couple of Arselings Netflix Podcast the last kingdom TV syfywire-post-211485 Thu, 28 May 2020 12:30:01 -0400 SYFY WIRE Alyssa Fikse The 100 Discussion: 'The Garden' fills in some major blanks <p>As we are at the beginning of the end for <a href=""><em>The 100</em></a>, it feels a little sad to go a full episode without checking in on most of the core characters. After the chaos in Sanctum in the premiere, "The Garden" feels extremely removed from the action. However, we do get some answers about what is actually in the Anomaly and what lies beyond. Octavia's fate, in particular, was quite mysterious, so getting some answers (some soft, domestic answers straight out of fanfic) about what the most tumultuous Blake has been up to was quite welcome.</p> <p>Still, the lack of Clarke, Bellamy, and Raven stings with so few episodes left. Still, we soldier on and once again have to deal with the legacy of Becca. We're Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer, and we don't quite have a handle on time travel, but we're doing our best.</p> <p><strong>Warning: This discussion contains spoilers for Season 7, Episode 2 of <em>The 100</em>.</strong></p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1200" height="800" /><figcaption><p>Credit: The CW</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>Welcome to Sky Ring</strong></p> <p><strong>Alyssa:</strong> If I'm being honest, I'm not sure what to do with this episode. Sure, we got some answers about where Hope came from and what Diyoza and Octavia were up to for a decade, but hoo boy, was this one hard to follow. We open on Octavia after she followed Diyoza into the Anomaly, coming up out of a lake on a mysterious new planet. Her arm is healed, so that's a plus, and she finds Diyoza about to give birth. Because of the insane way that time works in the Anomaly, Diyoza has been here for three months despite going into the Inferno just a few seconds before Octavia did. But, there's no time to parse the details of that now! A baby's coming! The cleanest newborn baby of all time!</p> <p><strong>Jessica:</strong> Woof. This one was a doozy. Time travel plot devices rarely work for me, usually because I'm too lazy to figure out the science of it all and boy, did <em>The 100</em> really want to give us a whole-ass college-level course in general relativity and quantum physics. But I digress. O bonds with baby Hope after the stress of labor takes its toll on Diyoza. She just gave birth in a hut on a foreign planet. The girl needs a nap! And because the concept of interdimensional travel isn't enough, this episode plays loosey-goosey with flashbacks too which means we flit between Hope's birth and her emergence from the same lake Octavia once popped out of, except she's 20 years older and accompanied by Echo and Gabriel.</p> <p><strong>Alyssa:</strong> Hope informs Echo and Gabriel that the planet is called Sky Ring (she named it as a child), and she takes them to her old home, long abandoned. Echo worries because she lost her gun in the lake, but honestly, that's the least of their worries. Apparently Sky Ring is just a stop on the way to Bardo, which seems to be where most people who enter the Anomaly end up. However, the travel through the Anomaly wipes away Hope's code, so they can't get through to Bardo. From the sound of things, the disciples in Bardo are bad news, and Hope has had to tangle with them before. She explains to Echo that the only reason she tagged Octavia was to save her mother, and that Octavia understood. This found family had a lot of complex dynamics to work through, and the wonky time differences between Sanctum and Sky Ring certainly didn't make things easier.</p> <p><strong>Jessica:</strong> So true. Hope seems to take the news that the code is lost in stride, especially when the group discovers a deranged man living in her home. Apparently, from the time she left and spent on Sanctum to the time she returned, 100 years had passed? My head's hurting already. Hope and Gabriel have a chat about how this whole thing works as he tries to decode the piece of paper. The code opens the bridge to other time dimensions and every person has their own unique mind code. When Hope went through to Sanctum, she wasn't trying to kill Octavia, she wanted to tag her with a tracker, which is another way people can travel through the Anomaly without having their body explode into millions of tiny pieces. It's all beginning to give me a headache so I'm glad when the episode decides to focus on how over all this sh** Echo truly is. She wants to know more about the word guy squatting in Hope's house, and I want to know more about what happened with Octavia and Diyoza 20 years ago.</p> <p><strong>Alyssa:</strong> Yeah, it's a lot to take in. Echo wants to swim to the bridge at the bottom of the lake to make it to Bardo and save Bellamy, and you can tell that Hope is a little tired of hearing Bellamy's name after years of Octavia trying to leave. She snaps "What is it about Bellamy that makes otherwise sensible women willing to die for him?!" Honestly, I think it's the freckles. Hope fills Echo in on the Disciples, who are religious fanatics who live in Bardo and use Sky Ring as a place to leave prisoners who aren't devout enough. The man squatting in Hope's house is one of those prisoners, and he is on a five-year sentence. The tattoo on his arm is counting down to when the disciples will come and collect him again, and Hope tells Echo and Gabriel that they better settle in for a long wait. When the disciples come back, they can fight them, take their suits, and swim to the bridge to Bardo. They just have to wait a few years, so they might as well plant some vegetables. This… doesn't seem like much of a plan.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1200" height="800" /><figcaption><p>Credit: The CW</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>Raising Hope</strong></p> <p><strong>Jessica:</strong> It's really not, but it's also all Hope knows. We get plenty of flashbacks sprinkled throughout the episode, but we'll cover the bulk of them here because Echo's desperate need to get off this planet and out of this timeline reminds Hope of how Auntie O spent six years … SIX YEARS … swimming in that lake, trying to dive deep enough to get to the Anomaly. In that time, she also helped Diyoza raise Hope — who was adorable as a kid and rocked some strong bangs — teaching her to garden and sew … you know, totally domestic life skills we never thought we'd see Blodreina do. I'd be fine with just living in this timeline for the rest of the show tbh.</p> <p><strong>Alyssa:</strong> Right? I couldn't help but wish that the rest of Skykru could just come over and they could form a little commune on Sky Ring, mostly because Farmer Bellamy is something that I would very much like to see. Octavia and Diyoza do their best to raise Hope the best they can, and even though Diyoza forbids it, Octavia and Hope do some covert fight training on the side. In between flashbacks, Echo and Gabriel follow Hope into the woods, and they find a truly macabre chess game set up in the woods. Apparently the deranged prisoner dug up some dead bodies to keep him company (yikes), but lucky for them that he did because surprise! Eligis III was here. This is Planet Beta. Gabriel pulls the mind drive from the dead man's head and sticks it into his handy space iPad. Wasn't there a <em>Black Mirror</em> episode like this?</p> <p><strong>Jessica:</strong> This whole thing is a <em>Black Mirror</em> episode. Planet Beta is where this group called The Disciples sends people who don't pull their weight — read: aren't devout enough — because prisoners can spend 20 years on Sky Ring and only be gone a day or two in their own time. It's very efficient, according to Gabriel. Hope seems to recognize one of the dead corpses but there isn't enough time to make sense of that because Echo's pressuring Gabriel to read the damn chip. We see Becca (I always have a small PTSD flashback when her face pops up on this show) and we learn that Eligis III crash-landed here and only one scientist managed to survive. Gabriel spends the rest of the episode binge-watching his memories while Hope and Echo do their best to bond over their shared concern for the Blake siblings.</p> <p><strong>Alyssa:</strong> Sure, they had no way to escape and no other people around, but the Octavia and Diyoza homestead was pretty idyllic. That is until they dug up one of the guys from Bardo in their garden. As much as she loves Hope and Diyoza, Octavia has been pretty desperate to find her way back to Bellamy so she can apologize for everything. This dead guy seems to have a relatively functional suit on his person (handy!), so Octavia sees this as her ticket to the bottom of the lake and into Bardo. She shares a heartbreaking goodbye with little Hope, but her plan hits a snag when Diyoza strides up to the house with a broken helmet. This was a deeply uncool mood. She claims that she destroyed the helmet for Octavia's good, but part of me can't help but think that Diyoza just didn't want to be left alone with a kid for the foreseeable future.</p> <p><strong>Jessica:</strong> But she does have a bigger point which is that because none of us really understand how time travel works on this planet so if Octavia left, she might not return for decades, which means Diyoza would be dead and Hope would be left alone. I see both sides honestly, but I love that Diyoza made a point of telling Octavia she was her family now too. It's what O's needed for a long time — someone to fight for her, to tell her she matters and is loved. I think there's too much hurt and history with Bellamy to ever fully mend that relationship but I'm happy she could find a new bond that fills the hole somewhat. Instead of telling Bell face to face, she writes him a letter, letting him know she understands all he did for her because she'd do the same for Hope, and wishing him well. She seals it in a bottle and tosses it in the lake, where it will hopefully get sucked up by the Anomaly and somehow find him. One of those things ends up happening.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1200" height="800" /><figcaption><p>Credit: The CW</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>The Trouble With Time Travel</strong></p> <p><strong>Alyssa:</strong> The sweet letter may have inspired a touching voiceover apology from Octavia to Bellamy, but unfortunately, it had a dangerous outcome. The letter did somehow make it to the bottom of the lake and into Bardo, but it just served as a way to alert the disciples that someone was living on Sky Ring/Planet Beta. They send a team of soldiers to take Diyoza and Octavia away, but luckily they were able to hide and save Hope. We get the original scene between Octavia and Hope that served as her hallucination in the last episode, and we really get a sense that Octavia would do anything for her new family. It's devastating that it had such a rough outcome, but thank God Octavia was able to get some space and heal with people who love her. Unfortunately, it didn't last long at all.</p> <p><strong>Jessica:</strong> Good things rarely do. Hope is clearly devastated after reliving this trauma and we're left to wonder how she even survived all those years on her own — if she was on her own — but not for too long because the crazy man is back and he's spouting some cult-ish bullsh** and breaking Gabriel's iPad as soon as he got to the part where his scientist bro was figuring out the code for the Anomaly. Will our faves ever make it off this damn limbo planet? I'm just not sure.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1200" height="800" /><figcaption><p>Credit: The CW</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>What's Next</strong></p> <p><strong>Alyssa:</strong> While I am certainly glad that they filled in some of the gaps with what happened to Octavia, I'm a little sad that we didn't get a check-in with the team on Sanctum. They are in peril! I need to know how they're doing! That being said, I was surprised at how interested I was in an episode without most of the core cast. That really shows how much Echo has grown on me, because I really cared. However, I will never care about her as much as I care about Bellamy and Clarke, so please return to us soon.</p> <p><strong>Jessica:</strong> Like Octavia, I respect Echo but I'm not sure I'll ever truly warm to her. I am down with her mission to "save them all" though so I'll be cheering her on in that regard. I appreciate the sci-fi of it all, but I'm far more interested in the character development of our faves at this point. We got that with Octavia, now I want that with Clarke and Bellamy and the rest. They were the ones in limbo this episode so I hope we see some moves being made at Sanctum next week.</p> Fangrrls The 100 the 100 discussion TV Recaps TV syfywire-post-211461 Thu, 28 May 2020 12:03:35 -0400 SYFY WIRE Alyssa Fikse Moto-Surf! Everything you didn't know about Surf Ninjas <p>During the '90s, director Neal Israel's <a href=""><em>Surf Ninjas</em></a> achieved an unlikely distinction that set it apart from the rest of the martial arts comedies of the decade. Believe it or not, this is the first film that had a video game adaptation that actually came out before the movie! That's a rarity, but there is a reason why it happened: apparently, Sega partially financed the film, and consequently, a Sega Game Gear plays a prominent role in <em>Surf Ninja</em>'s plot.</p> <p>As for the Surf Ninjas themselves, they are Johnny (Ernie Reyes Jr.) and Adam (Nicolas Cowan), two teens who are secretly the heirs to the throne of Patusan, a fake Asian country created over 100 years ago by Joseph Conrad. When ninja assassins come to take out the two brothers, Johnny and Adam discover their latent fighting abilities and take the fight back to their homeland.</p> <p>Adam's Game Gear also had an odd supernatural power. By playing a game, Adam could essentially predict the future and partially control the way events played out. There's definitely a touch of sci-fi/fantasy in there, but it's no less unbelievable than a 30-year old Rob Schneider playing a teenager named Iggy. Schneider plays a fairly large supporting role in the film, and he even made it onto the <em>Surf Ninjas</em> poster!</p> <p>Leslie Nielsen, the star of spoof comedies <em>Airplane!</em> and <em>The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!</em>, had a rare villainous turn in <em>Surf Ninjas</em> as Colonel Chi. Several years before the movie, Chi overthrew Johnny and Adam's father and seized Patusan for himself. However, Chi was so hilariously inept it's miraculous that he could do anything at all. He's no M. Bison!</p> <p>For more <em>Surf Ninjas</em> trivia, check out the latest episode of SYFY WIRE's <a href=""><em>Everything You Didn't Know</em></a>!</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Everything You didn't Know Original Video Surf Ninjas Movies Videos Games Features syfywire-post-211477 Thu, 28 May 2020 12:00:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Blair Marnell Superhero toys are flying high to save the day (and empty your wallet) <p><strong>Welcome back to <a href="">Important Toy News</a>, the SYFY WIRE column that shows you all the best and coolest happenings in the world of amazing toys and collectibles for the week. </strong></p> <p>Let's keep that shopping virtual for just a wee bit longer, fellow toy lovers, and take a spin back through those toy shelves with your resident, if not favorite, Toy Journalist.</p> <p>It may not be store-browsing time quite yet, but we're going to keep on bringing all of that awesome toy news directly to you. Because this week, my toy collecting friends, we are looking (exclusively) at superhero toys!</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="750" height="750" /><figcaption><p>Credit: McFarlane Toys</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>BATFARLANE</strong></p> <p>We'll kick off strong with <a href="">Batman</a><em>, </em>our favorite caped vigilante crusader detective boy!</p> <p>McFarlane Toys has been just owning at life with the new DC Multiverse line. Each newly revealed action figure has been more delicious than the last. So to keep this momentum going, why not add a super cool chase variant into the mix?</p> <p><a href="">Right now for $119.99 on BigBadToyStore</a>, you can purchase an entire case of the black and gray Batman figures with one of the blue and gray "Neal Adams"-style chase variants. Chase version or standard, these figures are awesome quality. They stand 7 inches tall, come with a grapple launcher, Batarang, character card, and a display stand.</p> <p>These bat-boys are shipping June 2020, so prepare for your collection to get cooler.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="723" height="517" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Hasbro</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>WALGREENS BY MOONLIGHT</strong></p> <p>The next beautiful new superhero toy is a Walgreens exclusive, which means... yup, you guessed it — finding it on your local store's shelf will be an adventure.</p> <p>Moon Knight is joining the <a href="">Marvel Legends</a> line-up, and there is something about this figure that I find so fascinating. The last mainstream figure of him we heard about was Mezco Toyz's One:12 Collective Moon Knight, and of course, that ran about $90. So if you want this character on your shelves, you're not ready to drop that much cash, this $20 figure from Hasbro will probably make you happy.</p> <p>In typical Marvel Legends form, Moon Knight will stand 6 inches tall. He also comes equipped with an extra set of hands, some crescent moon accessories, a staff for fighting, and a swap-out head.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="800" height="800" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Mezco Toyz</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>BATTLE-READY WONDER WOMAN</strong></p> <p>Speaking of Mezco Toyz, the company has revealed the newest addition to its One:12 Collective series of figures. It's <a href="">Wonder Woman</a>, and she is combat-ready!</p> <p>Via Mezco, she is "outfitted in a Themysciran battle suit with removable neck and shoulder armor, worn only by the most elite Amazonian warriors. The fearless demigoddess wears a cape with an integrated posing wire that attaches via a clasp at the neck. Bullets ricochet right off her wrist bracelets with the included effects that attach via magnet. Wonder Woman is well-equipped to fight for justice, complete with the Sword of Athena, Lasso of Truth (which can be held on her belt), a battle axe, a spear, and a shield."</p> <p><a href="">She will ship Q1 2021 and is available for preorder today for $85.</a></p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="519" height="750" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Hot Toys</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>EVEN MORE BATTLE-READY WONDER WOMAN</strong></p> <p>Can't get enough Wonder Woman? Now you don't have to, because the incredible people at Hot Toys (makers of super life-like premium statues) are showing off an amazing <a href=""><em>Wonder Woman 84</em></a> figure that stands at an amazing 15 inches tall.</p> <p>Per Hot Toys, the figure is "based on the appearance of actress <a href="">Gal Gadot</a> as Wonder Woman in the upcoming movie <em>Wonder Woman 1984</em>. The figure features a newly developed head sculpt with long curly dark brown real fabric hair and a specialized body tailored for Wonder Woman. The Golden Eagle Armor features a set of massive wings in a natural position, a shiny helmet, Wonder Woman's signature weapon 'Lasso of Truth,' and a specially designed figure stand."</p> <p>You can order Hot Toys' Wonder Woman 1984 MMS577 Golden Armor Wonder Woman 1/6th Scale Collectible Figure <a href="">for $314.99 today</a>. She will ship in second quarter 2021.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1000" height="1000" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Hasbro</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>SPIDER-MANY TOYS</strong></p> <p>Last week, Hasbro celebrated Fan Friday with more Marvel Legends announcements than we knew what to do with.</p> <p>And included in said reveals was something that just blew me away with its glory. It was the <a href=""><em>Spider-Man</em></a> Retro Marvel Legends 6-Inch Action Figures Wave 1 collection! <a href="">It costs $119.99 and will be coming our way in September 2020</a>. Included in this awesome box of action figures of Spidey love is Spider-Man, Electro, Peter Parker, Gwen Stacey, Green Goblin (who I ordered separately right away!), and Daredevil.</p> <p>Each is packaged in that tasty '90s Toy Biz style packaging (which is one of my most favorite aesthetics in the world) and stands 6 inches tall.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="700" height="878" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Medicom</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>ITTY BITTY GAMBIT</strong></p> <p>We're nearing the end, my toy-collecting friends, but we couldn't wrap this up before seeing what amazing Superhero toys are coming out of Japan... because you know what? Toys from Japan are always a special flavor of detailed, gorgeous, perfect, and, well... expensive. But today, Medicom is showing us two new additions to its fantastic MAFEX collection, kicking off with my beautiful love… Gambit.</p> <p>Gambit, as he appeared in the <a href=""><em>X-Men</em></a> comics, leaps into Medicom's MAFEX action figure lineup! Gambit stands over 6 inches tall, and includes a fabric coat with poseable wires built-in. For me, this is basically the ultimate Gambit, and with that '90s hair and headband, there's no love purer than the one I have for my card tossing pre-anime bishonen pretty boy.</p> <p>His box includes two head sculpts, two sets of hands, a staff, two staff energy effects, and two energy playing cards. You can preorder MAFEX Gambit Comic version today for <a href="">$104.99 at BigBadToyStore</a>, or for <a href="">$77 over at HobbyLink Japan</a>. He will ship in March 2021.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1000" height="749" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Medicom</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>HAMMER TIME</strong></p> <p>And last but never least, give it up for America! Captain America that is, as he joins the MAFEX line. This iteration is based on his appearance in the blockbuster film <em><a href="">Avengers: Endgame</a>, </em>specifically the part where he finally wields Thor's hammer.</p> <p>Captain America stands about 6 inches tall and features a ton of articulation for maximum posing options. He includes 3 interchangeable head sculpts, two sets of hands, a shield, a broken shield, Mjolnir, spinning Mjolnir effect, and a lightning effect.</p> <p>He costs $94.99, will ship in March 2021, <a href="">and is available for preorder today.</a></p> Action Figures Collectibles Important Toy News Important Toy News Superheroes toys Movies TV Comics Features syfywire-post-211474 Thu, 28 May 2020 12:00:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Loryn Stone The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: 5 Panem facts we learned from the Hunger Games prequel <p>64 years before Katniss Everdeen led the 12 districts of Panem to revolt against the Capitol, an 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow was helping re-shape the <a href="" target="_blank">Hunger Games</a> into a new dystopian creature. The ferociously ambitious and blond-haired boy who would one day assume the presidency of a segmented country that was once North America <a href="" target="_blank">takes center stage</a> in <a href="" target="_blank">Suzanne Collins</a>' new prequel novel, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes</em></a>.</p> <p>Set against the backdrop of the 10th Annual Hunger Games, the book (<a href="" target="_blank">out now</a> from Scholastic Press) finds young Snow partaking in a newfangled academic program, where the Capitol's brightest — and richest — Academy students are tasked with mentoring the 24 Tributes who will battle to the death as punishment for the district rebellion that ended a decade prior. The goal is to forge a personal connection between the audience and the fighters, thus driving up viewership numbers. Coriolanus is paired up with Lucy Gray Baird, a singer from District 12 (eventual birth place of Katniss) who turns his entire world upside down.</p> <p>At just over 500 pages long, <em>The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes</em> is many things at once: a love story, a tale of fomenting political dissent, an Orwellian satire, an analysis of the unsustainable nature of fascism, an examination of family legacy, and, of course, a villain's backstory. With so much content between the two covers, Collins works overtime <a href="" target="_blank">to fill in a bunch of <em>Hunger Games</em> lore</a> that she established in her first three books.</p> <p>For example, did you know that Coriolanus' evolution into a murderous, remorseless, and power-hungry tyrant is inextricably linked with the evolution of the Games themselves? That's just one of five big things we learned from reading the prequel. Wait for the gong to sound before heading to the rich cornucopia of information below.</p> <h3><em><strong>** Please be warned that the following list contains major plot spoilers for the book! **</strong></em></h3> books Suzanne Collins The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes The Hunger Games News syfywire-post-211435 Thu, 28 May 2020 11:57:47 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss Dungeons & Dragons directors dig into how film will incorporate 'critical thinking' from tabletop game <p>Adapting video games into feature films has always been a daunting task for Hollywood, so just imagine the difficulties in trying to bring a 46-year-old tabletop RPG to the big screen. It's no easy feat, but writer-directors <a href="" target="_blank">Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley</a> will not be shying away from core RPG elements when it comes to their <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Dungeons & Dragons</em></a> movie.</p> <p>"We never wanted to spoof the genre of fantasy or take the piss out of it," <a href="" target="_blank">Daley told The Hollywood Reporter</a>. "But we did want to find another way into it that we hadn't necessarily seen before. Just the format of <em>Dungeons & Dragons</em> is so interesting and fun and all about critical thinking and thinking on your feet and figuring out ways to make things work after they fall flat. There's a lot of the spirit of that that we're trying to inject into the movie itself."</p> <p>"We want it to be fun," Goldstein said. "It's not an out-and-out comedy, but it is an action-fantasy movie with a lot of comedic elements and characters we hope people will really get into and enjoy watching their adventures."</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="916" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Amanda Edwards/WireImage</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><em>The Game Night </em>filmmakers were supposed to start scouting locations in the U.K. back in March, but the growing pandemic made that task impossible. Nevertheless, there's still plenty of movement on the project as Goldstein and Daley have turned in a second draft of the screenplay and participate in weekly conference calls with the studio (Paramount). Storyboards and pre-visualization are also hapening. <em>D&D</em> brand owner Wizards of the Coast remains heavily involved.</p> <p>"They are the experts," Goldstein continued. "We have people there that we work with and it's pretty helpful, because as much as we know about <em>D&D</em>, it's a drop in the bucket compared to the 45 years of lore that's out there, so these guys are such a resource. If we need a particular spell that a [high]-level wizard could do, they could give us a list. It's a lot of fun."</p> <p>"I also play a weekly game of<em> Dungeons & Dragons</em> which has now become Zoom games. That is also a fun way to keep your foot in that world as you are writing a movie about it," Daley added.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Produced by<em> </em>Jeremy Latcham</a>, <em>Dungeons & Dragons</em> will roll the many-sided die in theaters May 27, 2022.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Dungeons & Dragons John Francis Daley Jonathan Goldstein wizards of the coast Movies News syfywire-post-211480 Thu, 28 May 2020 10:58:42 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss Chosen One of the Day: Father Stewart from VelociPastor <p>First of all, <em>VelociPastor</em> is art. That's all you truly need to know. It is art about a pastor who moves to China...</p> <p> </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="781" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Wild Eye Releasing</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>...where he gains the power to turn into a dinosaur, using this ability to fight crime. Like I said, art. </p> <p>But the real star of the film is Father Stewart (Daniel Steere), specifically during his Vietnam flashback wherein we learn the man has seen some <em>sh*t</em>.</p> <p>Like his best friend killed in front of him.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="600" height="284" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Wild Eye Releasing</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>And his lady love exploded in front of him.  </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="600" height="284" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Wild Eye Releasing</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>And definitely this wig from the Blink 182 music video collection.  </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="594" height="284" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Wild Eye Releasing</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>The hero of the tale may be our glorious dino-ninja-priest-boy, but Father Stewart and his flawless hair are the heroes we deserve.</p> <p> </p>       Chosen One of The Day Fangrrls The Velocipastor Movies syfywire-post-211481 Thu, 28 May 2020 10:30:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Courtney Enlow AI just got way creepier because it can now read your personality from a selfie <p>Can you tell what a completely random person is like just by staring at a selfie? Unless you’re <a href="">psychic</a>, probably not. Selfies can’t automatically give away personality traits to the human eye. This is where AI has just gotten more fascinating or downright scarier, depending on how you see it.</p> <p>Artificial neural networks are now able to figure out what your next potential date (or anyone else) could be like just by being creepy. <a href="" target="_blank">AI developed by a team of Russian scientists</a> can predict traits like agreeableness, neuroticism, openness and extraversion just by scanning photos. It could be revolutionary for finding optimal matches not just for dating, but also customer service and online tutoring, among other things.</p> <p>“In addition to emotional expressions and other nonverbal behaviors conveying information about one’s psychological processes through the face, research has found that valid inferences about personality characteristics can even be made based on static images of the face with a neutral expression,” <a href="" target="_blank">the scientists said</a> in a study recently published in <em>Scientific Reports. </em></p> <p>So what if <a href="" target="_blank">your neutral expression is Resting B**ch Face (RBF)</a>? While there is no specific answer about how the AI would interpret that, it does process your resting face and <a href="" target="_blank">facial morphology</a> to make inferences about personality, such as determining how extroverted you are by how symmetrical your face is. Facial width to height ratio (fWHR) can indicate how dominant and aggressive you are. Human interpretations based on fWHR have indicated that we may have evolved to be sensitive to static facial features in our perception of others. Everything this AI is programmed to interpret has been studied before, but human personality is unbelievably complex. No wonder this tech is only 58% accurate, even though it still <a href="">outperforms any human</a>.</p> <p>You read that right. Advanced neural networks from the future we are now living in would still get a failing grade in Facial Interpretation 101.</p> <p>This AI is still in its nascent stage. It was tested with 12,000 volunteers who filled out one of those self-report questionnaires not too different from those "What character are you?" quizzes responsible for wasting hours of valuable time on the internet. The data from their answers was based on the <a href="" target="_blank">Big Five model of personality traits</a> often used in psychology — openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. That was merged with 31,000 selfies that a series of neural networks had to interpret while leaving out faces with emotional expressions. And celebrities. And cats. Cats are always disgruntled about something anyway.</p> <p>Out of the Big Five, the most recognizable trait turned out to be conscientiousness, and the AI was more easily able to decode the personalities behind female faces than male ones. While the accuracy wasn’t stellar, this experiment, done in an uncontrolled setting, was still more accurate than previous studies done in controlled settings, even with hi-res photos.</p> <p>“We believe that the present study, which did not involve any subjective human raters, constitutes solid evidence that all the Big Five traits are associated with facial cues that can be extracted using machine learning algorithms,” the team concluded. “However, despite having taken reasonable organizational and technical steps to exclude the potential confounds and focus on static facial features, we are still unable to claim that morphological features of the face explain all the personality-related image variance captured by the [neural networks].”</p> <p>That leads to the inevitable. Futuretech is almost never unattached from <a href="http://ttps://">some sort of ethical dilemma</a>. If AI facial interpretation starts becoming the standard for determining who is going to make it into a certain school or get hired for a particular job, humanity could end up missing out on some really valuable talent. Remember that this thing is only a little more than half accurate. It can’t replace a portfolio or an interview. While it can certainly help interviewers and others with decision-making power to have an idea of what they’re in for, they still need to interact with humans to assess their actual abilities. Can you imagine HR just trashing people’s profiles based on what a <a href="">robot</a> told them?</p> <p>While this tech will probably be most valuable as an assist to matching people with tolerable first dates (among other things), it’s going to need an upgrade before being released for public use. Just take an internet quiz to find out which <em>Game of Thrones</em> character you are until then.</p> ai Artificial Intelligence selfies Technology Science News syfywire-post-211447 Thu, 28 May 2020 10:10:10 -0400 SYFY WIRE Elizabeth Rayne Galaxy's Edge theme park goes online with ambitious new Star Wars VR experience <p>With the massive Disney theme parks (Walt Disney World and Disneyland) <a href="" target="_blank">opening up again in a staggered return</a> to normalcy over the course of the late summer, fans will eventually get to see all the rides, attractions, and snacks that make those places so special — including at the newest land, <a href="" target="_blank">Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge</a>. But for those willing to wait a little longer before braving the coronavirus in public, a new VR experience set in the world of Galaxy's Edge may be just the ticket.</p> <p>Announced today, <em>Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge</em>, from ILMxLAB (the Lucasfilm VR studio that brought fans <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series</em></a>) and Oculus Studios is coming to fans later this year.</p> <p>According to a release, the experience will involve an original story set in the world of Galaxy's Edge's Batuu — more specifically, on the outskirts of Black Spire Outpost, where players will run into characters both old and new. Gameplay and difficulty settings will differ based on what fans want from the experience and whether they're seasoned VR vets or simply displaced theme park obsessives.</p> <p>“The rich storytelling in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has redefined what a Disney park experience can be, and we are thrilled fans will have an opportunity to discover new stories, meet new characters and explore new regions of the planet Batuu in <em>Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge</em>,” said Scott Trowbridge, Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Executive, in a statement. “Now our guests can immerse themselves in these stories both inside and outside our parks.”</p> <p>In addition to the concept art posted above, fans also got a poster teasing the experience:</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="720" height="1080" /><figcaption><p>Source: ILMxLAB</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>"We are so excited for fans to step into <em>Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge</em> later this year,” said Vicki Dobbs Beck, ILMxLAB Executive-in-Charge. “This action-packed adventure not only speaks to the promise of connected and complementary experiences by extending the lore around Black Spire Outpost, it represents another meaningful step in ILMxLAB’s quest to transition from storytelling – one-way communication – to storyLIVING, where you’re inside a world making consequential choices that drive your experience forward."</p> <p>This "storyLIVING," as Beck calls it, might be the safest, most responsible way to experience Galaxy's Edge for a while due to the pandemic, even if Walt Disney World and Disneyland eventually reopen and return to business as usual (or with precautions in place for as long as needed). <em>Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge</em> will release to VR systems later this year.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Disneyland Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge theme parks VR Walt Disney World Movies Games News syfywire-post-211478 Thu, 28 May 2020 09:36:20 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jacob Oller Are rivers of liquid methane washing away craters on Saturn’s moon Titan? <p>Titan is Saturn's largest moon, and <a href="" target="_blank">the second biggest in the solar system</a>. It's a world unto itself; nearly as big as Mercury, with a nitrogen atmosphere with higher surface pressure than Earth. The Cassini spacecraft swept past the giant moon an incredible <em>127 times</em> over its 13-year tour of the Saturn system, taking close-up images of the moon.</p> <p>The thick atmosphere blocks visible light, <a href="" target="_blank">but by using radar Cassini could not only "see" Titan's surface, it could map height of features there</a>. It can also detect how rough the terrain is; smooth areas don't reflect radar well, so look dark, while bumpy surfaces look bright as they reflect a lot of the radar waves back to Cassini.</p> <p>You might think there would be plenty of craters there, but until recently only 60 were seen. Small craters are difficult to spot, of course, and there may be fewer anyway due to Titan's thick air; smaller comets and asteroids explode before they reach the ground (like <a href="" target="_blank">the Chelyabinsk asteroid did in 2013 over Russia</a>). But even then, craters are rare. That implies erosion, like on Earth; <a href="" target="_blank">on airless bodies like the Moon craters are saturated</a>, shoulder-to-shoulder, but on our active Earth very few are seen.</p> <p>But what's doing the eroding? We know that wind plays a role on the surface. The equator of Titan is lined with dunes, made up of grains that are not sand but instead frozen nuggets of hydrocarbons. But studies have shown that winds on Titan are too slow to do much by the way of erosion.</p> <p>So what's been repaving Titan's craters? <a href="" target="_blank">A new paper looking at Cassini radar measurements</a> draws a very interesting conclusion: It's not air, but <em>liquid</em>. And not water (which is frozen into solid rock by the frigid temperatures so far from the Sun), but liquid methane.</p> <p>They came to this idea looking at the structures of the craters. When an incoming asteroid hits the surface, it carves out a huge bowl. Material is flung away from the newly formed crater, piling up around it. Also, the bowl will have a raised rim around it from material pushed upwards by the impact.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1300" height="1522" /><figcaption><p>30 newly identified candidate craters on Titan observed using Cassini. The size in kilometers is listed at lower left (so D11 = diameter of 11 km). The certainty of each is listed, with very certain being C1 and not certain C4. Names for some are at top right. Credit: <a href="" target="_blank">Hedgepeth et al.</a></p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>First, the scientists looked for craters in the data with these features. 60 had been found before, but in the new study they discovered 30 more candidates. They looked for circular features with dark floors and bright material around them; the assumption is that blocky ejected material around the crater will be radar reflective, while the floors would be smooth and dark as, over time, sand or other stuff fills in the crater. Not every crater fit those criteria, but many did.</p> <p>Then for the ones they could they looked at the rim height above the surface and the floor depth below it. Pristine craters tend to have high, sharp rims, and older ones are more degraded.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="692" /><figcaption><p>A pair of craters on Saturn’s moon Titan mapped by Cassini’s radar. Credit: <a href="" target="_blank">NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI</a></p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Once they had those results, they compared them to craters on <a href="" target="_blank">Jupiter's moons Ganymede and Callisto</a>, which are roughly the same size, mass, and surface gravity as Titan (noting that impact speeds are lower farther from the Sun, where orbital speeds are slower, so pound for pound Titan impacts tend to happen with less energy). What they found is that Titan's craters were much shallower than the other two moons.</p> <p>This, they conclude, is due to infill, material flowing into the Titan craters. But was that driven by wind or fluid?</p> <p>Well, they found that the rims of Titan craters were degraded, too. It has already been established that air-driven processes are weak on Titan, so from all this they conclude that liquid is flowing over and into the craters, eroding the rims and leaving behind sediments on the floor.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="1334" /><figcaption><p>Ligeia Mare is a sea of liquid methane at Titan’s north pole. Note the feeder tributaries leading into it. Credit: <a href="" target="_blank">NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/Cornell</a></p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>So where does the liquid come from? <a href="" target="_blank">The poles of Titan are covered in lakes of liquid methane</a> (also discovered and confirmed by Cassini observations). <a href="" target="_blank">There's obvious evidence of rivers and tributaries leading from higher elevations down into those lakes</a>, strongly suggesting Titan has something like Earth's water cycle but with methane instead: Methane evaporates from the lakes, precipitates down in the higher hills as rain or snow, which then melts, flows along those rivers, and refills the lakes.</p> <p>So it's possible the craters on Titan are getting flooded, which is why they are so degraded. The authors don't speculate too specifically on how this works, just saying that it's likely fluvial (liquid flowing) processes doing the work. I would guess that seasonal weather might bring rains that could then flood the craters.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe><figcaption><p>Crash Course Astronomy: Saturn</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Oh, how cool would it be to have a dedicated Titan orbiter and surface explorer? Something that could be there for a couple of decades to see how the seasons change what's going on there?</p> <p>And hey, NASA is planning a future lander: <a href="" target="_blank">Dragonfly, a quadcopter which can hop around the surface of Titan</a>, examining different places in detail. That mission has a 32-month baseline, but missions like this tend to get extended if they perform well. It may not be long enough to see seasonal changes, but wow, what a chance to see this weird, alien world up close.</p> <p>… and yet, despite being so different from Earth, it's so familiar. Thick air, liquid, rain, lakes, seasons… it may be frigid compared to what we're used to, but frozen it isn't.</p> Bad Astronomy Cassini impact craters Saturn Titan Science Features Bad Astronomy syfywire-post-210121 Thu, 28 May 2020 09:00:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Phil Plait The team heads to the 1930s to save HYDRA?! in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s final season premiere <p>It's been a long (long, long, long) wait, but Marvel's OG series is finally back for one last adventure — and the team heads back in time to save the world one last time. They've even brought an old friend back to life for the ride.</p> <p><strong><em>Spoilers ahead for "The New Deal," the Season 7 premiere of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which aired Wednesday, May 27, 2020 on ABC.</em></strong></p> <p>We already knew <em>Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D</em>. would be headed into the past for its final season, and now we know exactly what the board looks like for the team's last mission. Simmons has been prepping for this for a while, and takes the team back to New York City circa 1931 in pursuit of the Chronicoms, which now have their sights set on Earth. They don't know why the Chronicoms are there, but they've been studying Earth and know every details of the timeline — so they can make surgical strikes (or "pull the thread") in just the right places in the timeline to effectively erase S.H.I.E.L.D. from the history books. If there's no S.H.I.E.L.D., they presume there are no heroes to stop them further down the time stream.</p> <p>But diving into S.H.I.E.L.D.'s history means they're going to need an expert with the knowledge and skill set to spot the clues everyone else might miss — so say hello to LMD Coulson. It's kind of funny how many times Coulson has been resurrected at this point, and it took this long to actually make him an LMD. But they did it, and now he's back, with a few Chronicom tech updates to boot. Coulson is understandably disoriented and a bit pissed about it all, but once he knows the stakes, he realizes he has to help. So Agent Coulson falls in line under Director Mack, and uses his keen S.H.I.E.L.D. history to lead them to a speakeasy base run by Patton Oswalt's Koenig. Or well, Koenig's great grandfather, probably.</p> <p>As for the Chronicoms, they're stealing the faces of New York cops to try and yank at that mysterious thread, which the team assumes is to assassinate FDR before he's elected president and founds the SSR (which eventually turns into S.H.I.E.L.D.). But nope, the target is actually a relative nobody working at Koenig's club: Freddie Malick, eventual father of HYDRA leader Gideon Malick. Diving into our own MCU history, fans are likely aware of that <em>Winter Soldier</em> twist that found HYDRA was deeply entwined in the origins of S.H.I.E.L.D. Well, take one out and they're both gone.</p> <p>The team's first mission is to make sure HYDRA remains intact, which really seems full circle, considering just how many seasons they spent trying to stop HYDRA. It seems the Chronicoms are the ones who really know how to cut off the right head. As for saving Freddie, that was a nice twist. It seems like we'll be visiting a few different time periods this season, and it stands to reason this fake-out approach could stick around. Because the Chronicoms aren't looking at the obvious timeline tweaks, they know the little changes that can have the biggest consequences.</p> <p>The episode ends with a fan favorite team member looking a bit feral. Last season ended with Agent May on the verge of death, though Simmons used her new tech upgrades to save her. But, as Enoch tries to care for her recovery, May wakes up and goes rogue. We see her hiding in the ceiling, and it begs the question of just how much lingering damage May might be suffering from her clash at the end of last season.</p> <h2>Assorted musings</h2> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="933" /><figcaption><p>Marvel</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Fitz is nowhere to be seen this week, after being separated from Simmons at the end of last season by the Chronicoms. He was sorely missed, and hopefully he'll be reunited with Simmons and the rest of the team soon. FitzSimmons has been through a lot over the length of this series. If they don't get a happy ending once it's all over, we riot.</p> <p>Yo-Yo gets an upgrade thanks to Simmons' tech upgrades, and now she's sporting a new pair of arms that apparently return the sense of touch back to her — after spending the past season sporting a pair of robotic arms. Which makes sense, especially if they're time traveling. Robo-arms stand out a bit when you're strolling around 90 years in the past.</p> <p>Seeing Coulson and Daisy having a moment to just decompress the weirdness of all this was a great scene. It's so refreshing to see these two just teaming up and kicking butt together. If this is a last hurrah, hopefully there'll be plenty more moments like that along the way.</p> <p>Simmons looks like a changed woman, and you can see the pain and determination in her face. She doesn't blink when it comes time to torture and fry a Chronicom for information. We've seen her deal with a lot over the years, but the lead up to this season has clearly changed her.</p> <p><strong>Up next</strong>: More alien craziness, and Deke pulls a gun.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV Recaps TV Features syfywire-post-211363 Thu, 28 May 2020 00:03:22 -0400 SYFY WIRE Trent Moore WIRE Buzz: Secret Society of Second-Born Royals trailer; Greg Berlanti plays Forbidden Game; more <p>The trailer for Disney+'s original live-action film <a href=""><em>Secret Society of Second-Born Royals</em></a> has just hit the web. And by the looks of things, being second in line to the throne in this universe comes with some very big advantages, like awesome superpowers!</p> <p>The sci-fi fantasy film follows Sam (Peyton Elizabeth Reed), a rebellious teenage royal second in line to the throne of the kingdom of Ilyria, who would rather do anything other than her royal duties. As you can see by the clip below, she soon discovers that she's part of an old secret society of second-born royals, an organization that works to keep Illyria safe, and whose members wield extraordinary superhuman abilities thanks to a gene exclusive to second-borns of royal lineage.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>The royal recruits must protect the kingdom from the menace known as Inmate 34 (<em>The Handmaid Tale</em>'s Greg Byrk), an escaped convict looking to take over the throne.</p> <p><em>Secret Society of Second-Born Royals</em>, directed by Anna Mastro (<em>Marvel's Runaways</em>), streams exclusively on Disney+ starting July 17. The film also features Skylar Astin, Olivia Deeble, Niles Fitch, Faly Rakotohavana, Isabella Blake Thomas, Elodie Yung, Ashley Liao, and Noah Lomax</p> <hr /><p><a href="">Greg Berlanti</a>, the <a href="">super-producer</a> behind the <em>Arrowverse</em> shows, <em>Riverdale</em>, and <em>Chilling Adventures of Sabrina</em>, is developing a trilogy of horror YA novels from the author of <em>The Vampire Diaries</em> into a TV series for Warner Bros. Television. According to <a href="" target="_blank">Deadline</a>, WBTV acquired the rights to <em>The Forbidden Game</em> books by L.J. Smith in a competitive situation.</p> <p>Published in 1994, <a href=""><em>The Forbidden Game</em></a> trilogy consists of the books <em>The Hunter, The Chase</em>, and <em>The Kill</em>. The story centers around Jenny and her six friends as they enter a <em>Jumanji</em>-like game that drops them into different shadow worlds. Within the game, they must fight off their worst nightmares, or die and have their souls imprisoned forever. The stakes are set by a mysterious blue-eyed boy named Julian who can move freely between worlds. Though determined to save herself and her friends, Jenny’s loyalties are tested when she falls in love with Julian.</p> <p>Sarah Schechter and David Madden from Berlanti Productions will executive produce along with Berlanti. The search for a writer is currently underway.</p> <hr /><p>Joker as a social media Influencer? It has a certain dastardly ring to it.</p> <p>Apparently DC agrees, as the comic book giant has unveiled the first of its Instagram-exclusive comics with 10 panels of a prelude story that leads into <a href=""><em>Batman #92</em></a> starring the Caped Crusader's arch-enemy Joker and his brand new galpal in crime, <a href="">Punchline</a>.</p> <p>The latter of course made her DC debut last month in <em>Batman Vol. 3 #89</em>, and her creator, writer James Tynion IV, has <a href="" target="_blank">called</a> Punchline the "anti-Harley Quinn," as she's more the silent, serial killer type.</p> <p>Now the deadly duo will feature in an original plotline that will be the first of three new prelude episodes that Tynion "cooked up" for DC's Instagram page, as he put it on Twitter, "to give you a taste of Gotham while you're waiting for Batman to return next month."</p> <p>The first prelude is already up on <a href="" target="_blank">DC's Instagram Story</a>. <em>Batman # 92</em> — written by James Tynion IV, with art by Guillem March, colors by Tomeu Morey, and covers by Tony Salvador Daniel and Yasmine Putri — drops on both digital and print on June 2.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive audio"> <iframe src="" style="width: 640px; height: 200px; border: 0 none;" width="640" height="200" scrolling="no"></iframe> <audio ><source src="" type="audio/ogg"></audio> <img src=""> </figure></div> Batman DC Comics Disney+ Greg Berlanti Secret Society of Second-Born Royals WBTV Movies TV Comics News syfywire-post-211470 Wed, 27 May 2020 21:50:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE James Comtois Henry Cavill in talks to reprise Superman (sans mustache) for Warner Bros. - Report <p>It's looking likelier than ever that <a href="">Henry Cavill</a> will don the cape again.</p> <p>As reported by <a href="">Deadline</a> and confirmed by <em><a href="" target="_blank">Variety</a></em>, the <em>Mission: Impossible</em> and <em>Witcher </em>star is back in talks with Warner Bros. to reprise his role as Superman, two years after last playing the iconic character in the studio's underwhelming <a href=""><em>Justice League</em></a>.</p> <p>As anyone who's been following the saga of Sup can attest, Warner Bros. dithered on the direction of its <a href="">DC Extended Universe</a> after <em>Justice League</em>'s lackluster box office performance and mediocre critical reception (also not helping: the uncanny valley under Cavill's nose when producers brought him back for reshoots and had to <a href="">digitally erase a mustache</a> he grew for another part).</p> <p>As a result, the powers that be at WB opted not to go forward with a <a href="">previously planned <em>Justice League</em> sequel</a> or a <a href="">follow up</a> to 2013's <em>Man of Steel</em>.</p> <p>Instead, studio suits decided to proceed with standalones <em>Wonder Woman</em> and <em>Aquaman</em>, leaving Cavill out in the cold regarding the direction of DC's biggest superhero. The actor reportedly then <a href="">left the franchise</a> after three Superman appearances, which also included 2016's <em><a href="">Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice</a></em>.</p> <p>But with Warner Bros. now acceding to fan demands and announcing it will <a href="">release Zack Snyder's fabled <em>Justice League</em> cut</a> on HBO Max in 2021, it doesn't take x-ray vision to see that a reunion of Cavill and Clark Kent might be in the offing.</p> <p>No word exactly how Superman will fly on the big screen again. Insiders tell <em>Variety </em>that Cavill won't be suiting up for the Snyder Cut, but will likely do a cameo in either <em>Aquaman 2</em>, <em>Suicide Squad 2</em>, or <em>The Batman</em>. But if Snyder's version ends up renewing interest in a new <em>Justice League</em> entry, there could be plenty of adventures to come, be it a standalone or another <em>Superfriends</em>-style adventure.</p> <p>As for the 'stache that launched a thousand memes and inspired <a href="">Movember giving</a>, the thesp dropped into Snyder's <em>Man of Steel</em> live watch party last week to express his eagerness to right what a lot of fans have long considered to be a very big wrong.</p> <p>"For me, having just watched <em>Man of Steel</em>, this was such a big moment," Cavill said. "I would love to see a version of <em>Justice League</em> without the mustache."</p> <p>And perhaps a few more Superman movies as well.</p> <p>A rep for Warner Bros. was unavailable for comment.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive audio"> <iframe src="" style="width: 640px; height: 200px; border: 0 none;" width="640" height="200" scrolling="no"></iframe> <audio ><source src="" type="audio/ogg"></audio> <img src=""> </figure></div> Henry Cavill justice league Man Of Steel Snyder Cut Superman Warner Bros. Movies News syfywire-post-211475 Wed, 27 May 2020 21:35:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Grossberg WIRE Buzz: American Horror Story goes to the beach; Lord of the Rings cast reuniting; more <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em>American Horror Story</em></a>'s 10th season is <a href="" target="_blank">delayed until 2021</a>, but that hasn't stopped <a href="" target="_blank">Ryan Murphy</a> from dropping hints and clues about its mysterious story and setting.</p> <p>Earlier today, the horror anthology's co-creator posted a photo of a beach at dusk with a caption that reads: "<em>American Horror Story</em>. Clue." Based on that, it looks like the series is headed to the shore in some way, shape, or form — which fits in with what Murphy <a href="" target="_blank">recently said</a> about Season 10 relying on the weather. If the production shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic persists through the summer, then <em>AHS</em> won't be able to take advantage of that sultry beach climate, presumably.</p> <iframe src="" frameborder="0" width="320" height="320" allowTransparency="true"></iframe> <p>This isn't the first time the image of a beach has passed across Murphy's Instagram page. When he revealed the cast <a href="" target="_blank">back in February</a>, the actors' names appeared on a backdrop of waves crashing against an ominously overcast shore.</p> <p>Kathy Bates, Macaulay Culkin, Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Adina Porter, Lily Rabe, Anjelica Ross, and Finn Witrock have all been cast for Season 10. Culkin is the only non-returning player.</p> <p>FX has also placed an order for a spinoff called <em><a href="" target="_blank">American Horror Stories</a></em>. Hoping to shoot at the same time as the upcoming season, the new show will feature self-contained stories that run for an hour apiece.</p> <hr /><p><a href="" target="_blank">Josh Gad</a> is slowly, yet effectively, reuniting the cast and crew members of every genre film (and genre film franchise) we hold dear in this world. But apparently his virtual reunions centered around <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Goonies</em></a>, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Back to the Future</em></a>, and <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Splash</em></a> were just the appetizers for the resurgence of a certain, ring-based fellowship.</p> <p>That's right, the cast of Peter Jackson's <em><a href="" target="_blank">The Lord of the Rings</a> </em>is coming back together for a Zoom call to be streamed on <a href="" target="_blank">Gad's YouTube channel</a> this coming Sunday, May 31, at 12 p.m. ET.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins), Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee), Billy Boyd (Pippin Took), Dominic Monaghan (Merry Brandybuck), Orlando Bloom (Legolas), and a wine-drinking Ian McKellen (Gandalf) will all be present.</p> <p>Though not teased in Gad's announcement video, based on <a href="" target="_blank">the tweet</a> below from <em>Vanity Fair</em> writer Joanna Robinson, it sounds like there are also going to be appearances from Jackson, Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), John Rhys-Davies (Gimli), Liv Tyler (Arwen), Hugo Weaving (Elrond), Miranda Otto (Éowyn), Andy Serkis (Gollum), Sean Bean (Boromir), and Karl Urban (Éomer).</p> <p>Is it too much to hope that <a href="" target="_blank">J.R.R Tolkien mega-fan Stephen Colbert</a> pops up too?</p> <hr /><p class="media-element-parent">Solstice Studios, the company behind <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Unhinged</em></a> with Russell Crowe, has picked up screenwriter Graham Moore's "futuristic thriller" <em>Mind Fall</em>, <a href="" target="_blank">Deadline confirmed this afternoon</a>. Cedric Jimenez (<em>The Man With the Iron Heart</em>) is set to direct.</p> <p class="media-element-parent">The <em>Total Recall</em>-esque, <em>Inception</em>-esque, <em>Bloodshot</em>-esque film takes place in a world where an illicit technology allows you to remove memories from one person's mind and implant them into someone else's. When a woman gets involved with the memory black market, she "soon finds herself accused of murdering a man she has no recollection of knowing," reads the synopsis provided by Deadline.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="1089" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent">Moore won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for writing Morten Tyldum's World War II drama <em>The Imitation Game</em>.</p> <p class="media-element-parent">Solstice Studios is also producing Robert Rodriguez's <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Hypnotic</em></a>, "a mind-bending action thriller that will make you question your own reality." Ben Affleck will star.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> American Horror Story Josh Gad Mind Fall Ryan Murphy The Lord of the Rings WIRE Buzz Movies TV News syfywire-post-211466 Wed, 27 May 2020 19:15:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss Motherland: Fort Salem toes a fine line and exceeds expectations <p>When the first trailer for Freeform's <a href=""><em>Motherland: Fort Salem</em></a> dropped online in May 2019, it's safe to say that few could have predicted what the series (which debuted almost a year later) would look like. That's because that trailer showed only a sliver of the world the show itself would seek to unfold over its 10-episode first season.</p> <p>Though it does set the stage for the alternate America of that world — one where witches have become the military and the site of their historical executions has become their training ground — its two-minute summary of that world and those witches fails to depict the amount of care and nuance with which it tackles the very real concerns of indoctrination, institution, and unchecked power.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>In the version of the United States at the center of <em>Motherland: Fort Salem</em>, the witch trials did happen in the late 17th century, but they ended when one of the accused witches, Sarah Alder, struck a deal with the men in power: Stop killing witches, and they will fight your wars for you. Over the centuries they upheld that bargain, and the U.S. Army became an institution made up not of average citizen volunteers but of conscripted witches born to be soldiers and raised to fight battles on behalf of their country. While the vision of this alternate present begins, at least somewhat, as one in which all witches are proud to protect and serve, that concept is quickly dismantled as the series ponders whether an army and a country built on the blood of a single people forced to serve is really anything other than a form of slavery dressed as duty.</p> <p>The show tackles these difficult subjects by excellently deploying a cast of characters that is diverse in, well, diverse ways. Not only are the witches of Fort Salem from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, or representative of <a href="">a spectrum of sexualities</a> (the show has yet to tackle the spectrum of gender in a matriarchal society), they also represent a multiplicity of points of view on their role as soldiers. For some, like Abigail Bellweather, military service is the family business and has been since the first witches donned the colors of the budding USA. Families like hers are large and wealthy and full of decorated soldiers and family mythologies of valor in the face of overwhelming odds. She has faith in the system because her family is the system.</p> <p>On the opposite side of things is Raelle, a powerful healer from a rural area who spends her time using her powers to help people around town. Her mother died in the line of duty, and as a result Raelle's opinion of service stops just short of disdain. She has neither affinity nor allegiance to the military, and she arrives at Fort Salem fully expecting she will die quickly once she is deployed into combat because witches aren't so much soldiers as they are fodder for the war machine. Raelle is very likely the type of soldier you might get if the military forced only certain families to fight and die for a cause they did not support.</p> <p>Then there is Tally, the only one among them who volunteered for the cause. Tally's family was granted a boon. They were no longer required to serve because so many of them had died in the line of duty, nearly wiping out their family. But Tally, brought up in a world full of propaganda and desiring more than anything to do good in the world, chooses to forgo safety to join a cause. Tally represents those who, in real life, seek out service as a means of finding purpose and a way to make an impact on the world. Of course, the goals of institutions have a way of swallowing up and overpowering the goals of the individuals that make them up, especially when those individuals lack power within those institutions.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="1120" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Freeform</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Over the course of the first season, <em>Motherland: Fort Salem</em> builds the world around these three young women and their differing perspectives to deal with tough questions about the role of the military in society and the way institutions and a lifetime of indoctrination can obscure reality. They all believe that they are entering into a world of black and white, of right and wrong, and that they are playing on the side of the unequivocal good guys. They are, after all, fighting for a cause and against an enemy — in this case a group of magical terrorists known as The Spree — who are willing to murder civilians to make a point. But, as with all things, the truth is much more complicated, there is no such thing as black and white, and just because you're told something is true doesn't make it so. At the end of the day, Abigail, Raelle, and Tally (plus a cast of supporting characters) must learn things for themselves, question information that is handed to them, learn to trust themselves, and challenge authority when they witness abuses of power.</p> <p>If that sounds like a lot of young adult fiction to you, that's because <em>Motherland: Fort Salem</em> shares a lot of DNA with franchises like <em>The Hunger Games</em> and <em>Harry Potter</em> and <em>His Dark Materials</em> and any number of epic fantasy stories about young people standing up for themselves and their friends in the face of an unjust world. It is earnest and dramatic, and the romances that power much of the non-military drama are intense to an almost comedic degree. What sets the show apart, however, in addition to the fact that it is the gay goth dream of a TV series I would have killed for when I was a teenager, is its devotion to telling a powerful story about bonds between women and sisterhood over service.</p> <p><em>Motherland: Fort Salem</em> wrapped up its first season on Freeform at the end of May and has been renewed for a second season, likely to be released sometime next year. At only 10 episodes, the series has barely scratched the surface of the world it has built and has already unearthed so many questions and conversations it is sure to explore going forward. If the first season is any indication, there are likely no easy answers waiting on the other side, which is exactly what makes it so exciting to watch.</p> Fangrrls Motherland: Fort Salem witchy wednesday TV syfywire-post-211404 Wed, 27 May 2020 18:00:01 -0400 SYFY WIRE Tricia Ennis The Last of Us Part II: New details, game footage from Naughty Dog’s ‘most ambitious’ game <p>Fast forward a few years from the end of <a href=""><em>The Last of Us</em></a>, and things just can’t stay peaceful. Right when Joel and Ellie are settling into something resembling normal lives in a burgeoning Jackson, Wyoming, survivors’ enclave, something violent happens — and whatever it is, it sounds like it's about to set Ellie off bigtime.</p> <p>While we still don’t know what’s got her so hell-bent on vengeance (and nope, we’re <a href="">not peeking</a> at those alleged spoilers floating around out there), we <em>do</em> know she looks like an arrow-slinging badass trying to dish it out. In a meaty slice of previously unseen gameplay, Sony and Naughty Dog unveiled a cool new glimpse at <a href=""><em>The Last of Us Part II</em></a> in today’s Sony State of Play update, which was devoted entirely to the soon-arriving game.</p> <p>Check out the whole thing below (or skip right to the gameplay, which begins at the 14:28 mark):</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe><figcaption><p>PlayStation on YouTube</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>The action takes Ellie out of a deceptively placid outdoor creek and into the flooded ruins of an abandoned building, where she water-spelunks her way through a decrepit boiler room and into hostile territory. From there, it quickly becomes apparent that she’s grown an extra layer of super-thick skin even since having to grow up fast in her <a href="">first outing</a> with the 2013 original.</p> <p>Creative director <a href="">Neil Druckmann</a> also zoomed in on some of <em>Part II</em>’s new systems, including a workbench feature that’ll let players craft items and modify weapons with upgrades that’ll improve their bang quotient while, thankfully, also reflecting the changes you make on-screen. Druckmann teased that much of the new game takes place in the overgrown ruins of Seattle, though Ellie’s far-ranging journey also will span places, seasons, and climates not seen in its acclaimed PS3 (and remastered on PS4) predecessor. Running from combat and refocusing will also be an option — which sounds like a good thing, since guard dogs can track your scent and end up nipping at your heels in no time.</p> <p>Druckmann doubled down on <em>Part II</em> as Naughty Dog’s “largest, most ambitious game” yet, saying what we’re seeing here just “scratches the surface” of how epically scaled the next single-player chapter in America’s post-apocalypse (and Sony's <a href="">growing <em>TLOU</em> franchise</a>) will unfold. The story sounds legit, the action looks goosebump-worthy, and the scenery’s never looked better. So steer clear of the leaks and keep yourself in suspense just a little longer: <a href="">At long last</a>, <em>The Last of Us Part II</em> is set to hit the PlayStation 4 on June 19.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Playstation The Last of Us Part II video games Games News syfywire-post-211469 Wed, 27 May 2020 17:53:46 -0400 SYFY WIRE Benjamin Bullard About face! The Mandalorian's masked hero prompts Golden Globes to revise awards rules <p>Bad news for <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Mandalorian</em></a>, <em>The Masked Singer</em>, and most of the cast of<em> Doom Patrol</em>: <a href="" target="_blank">The Golden Globes</a> are changing their rules around to better delineate their stance on masked performances — and <a href="" target="_blank">Pedro Pascal's helmeted Din Djarin</a> may have been the impetus behind it.</p> <p>According to <em><a href="" target="_blank">Variety</a></em>, the change in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's awards — which reportedly states that "voice-only performances are not eligible in any acting category" — was prompted by Pascal being hidden for all but a bit of the Disney+ <em>Star Wars</em> show's eight-episode first season. When the helmet finally came off in the finale, the HFPA must've breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that Pascal was really under there ... because it seems like they were so caught up about the masked secrecy that they decided to disallow such performances in their future considerations.</p> <p>Apparently since Pascal showed his face that one time, he would've been eligible for his <em>Mandalorian</em> role, so it seems any amount of face time is enough to qualify. Will future showrunners and filmmakers pop their actors' faces on-screen for a few seconds simply to pop through this loophole? Perhaps since the coronavirus might encourage extra-safe production practices, including masks, the Globes will have to get comfortable imagining the hidden pretty faces.</p> <p>Another, less specific, rule has also been added about TV works. A new "Anthology" category has been appended to the limited series/TV movie section of the awards — which makes sense due to the increasing quantity of quality genre-based anthology TV, like <em>Black Mirror</em> and the CBS All Access reboot of <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Twilight Zone</em></a>.</p> <p>While there's no date for the 2021 Golden Globes (or even confirmation that they'll go on like usual), <em>The Mandalorian </em>returns to Disney+ this October.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Disney+ Golden Globes The Mandalorian Movies TV News syfywire-post-211465 Wed, 27 May 2020 17:51:12 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jacob Oller Outlander's Ronald D. Moore talks Revolutionary War era, teases 'more than one' spinoff idea <p>After all the hell it put its hero through, <a href=""><em>Outlander</em></a> ended its fifth season with a satisfying reunion between Claire and Jamie (and perhaps an even more satisfying death, thanks to Marasli’s newfound gumption). With all that Claire had to endure to reach that moment of peace, the <a href="">Season 5 finale</a> almost felt like a retrenchment; a way to pause and look forward at what Starz might be planning next.</p> <p>While the series has mostly followed the one season/one book formula as it moves through the Diana Gabaldon novels on which it’s based, there’s still a ton of ground to cover as development on Season 6 gets underway. Speaking recently to <a href="">Collider</a>, show creator <a href="">Ronald D. Moore</a> didn’t get too specific about the details, but said the upcoming season will definitely lean heavily into the Revolutionary War setting that Gabaldon has laid down in the novels.</p> <p>“People who saw this last season; the fifth season, saw that we were already starting to pull from certain things from Book 6 and other books in the series. We’ve always been sort of free to kind of play around with some of the chronology and borrow things from different books,” Moore said. “So we’re not perfect about a book a season, and we’ll continue that going forward.</p> <p>“The large arc that’s still defining where we are is, we’re in the New World; we’re in the American colonies, and the American Revolution is getting closer and closer. So that’s like a big thing that’s gonna be moving front and center the further we get into Season 6.”</p> <p><em>A Breath of Snow and Ashes</em>, the next <a href="">Gabaldon book</a> due for Starz’s TV adaptation, takes the Frasers out of the turmoil of establishing a homestead in North Carolina and into the turmoil of negotiating loyalties as the violent beginnings of the colonies’ break with Britain looms. As with all of <em>Outlander</em>, things only get <a href="">more interesting</a> because of Claire’s time-hopping back and forth to her original 20th-Century life, as well as encountering and recognizing fellow time-stranded travelers back in her new (or is it her old?) 18th-Century haunts.</p> <p>Fans eager for a status update on a <a href="">potential <em>Outlander</em> spinoff</a> won’t come away with any big revelations from Moore’s new remarks about whom that series might involve and where it could be set. But it definitely sounds as if Starz is serious about getting one of Moore’s ideas off the ground.</p> <p>“We’re still talking about it,” Moore said. “Starz is interested and we’re definitely in conversations. Sony and Starz are in conversations about a spinoff series, yeah…We have more than one idea. We have a couple of ideas, and it’s still in internal conversations, so we’re not really prepared to go out and say what it is.”</p> <p>While <em>Outlander</em> already has gotten the green light for a sixth season, we don’t yet know when to expect Claire’s next TV chapter to begin — especially with the industry-wide production delay brought on the by coronavirus pandemic. In the meantime, there’s plenty of ground to cover if you’re just now getting on board: You can catch up with all of <em>Outlander</em>’s first five seasons at Starz.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Outlander Ronald D. Moore Starz TV News syfywire-post-211468 Wed, 27 May 2020 17:23:10 -0400 SYFY WIRE Benjamin Bullard Could the simian world of Planet of the Apes actually be our future? <p>The second <a href=""><em>Planet of the Apes</em></a> movie, <em>Beneath the Planet of the Apes, </em>turns 50 this week, and it's just one of many, many films exploring the idea of a primate planet. There were <a href="">the five original films,</a> <a href="">Tim Burton's 2001 reboot</a>, and the three latest movies, starting with 2011's <em>Rise of the Planet of the Apes</em>.</p> <p>What's clear from the series' long history is an enduring desire for tales of humans interacting in meaningful ways with our closest evolutionary relatives.</p> <p>To see a great ape is to look into the past and see ourselves. It's understandable why stories like these scratch a particular itch in our psyche. It's impossible to look upon a chimpanzee, orangutan, gorilla, or bonobo and not see the humanity in their eyes. To wonder what they're thinking. And to also wonder if, with just a little help, they might be able to communicate clearly to us.</p> <p>Today, the only way to satisfy those desires is through our fiction. And we've done that to the tune of nine movies and counting. Still, we can't help but continue to wonder: Is it possible, through an evolutionary or technological nudge, for great apes to rise to human-level intelligence?</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong>APE INTELLIGENCE</strong></p> <p>Before we investigate the possibility of advanced intelligence in great apes, we must first set the stage. It's commonly held that apes are as intelligent as human toddlers, though that might not be as good a comparison as we previously believed. Likewise, they might not actually be such perfect analogues of our prior evolutionary selves. As it turns out, apes might be even smarter than we give them credit for.</p> <p>Recent <a href="">research, carried out at the University of Adelaide</a>, suggests modern great apes might be more intelligent than our early hominid ancestors. <em>Australopithecus</em> had similar brain sizes, and the brain-to-body ratio is one indicator of intelligence in a species. Comparing those between early hominids and modern apes gave some indication. But it isn't the only factor. Another is blood flow to the brain.</p> <p>When comparing the skulls of modern gorillas to those of <em>Australopithecus</em>, researchers found canals nearly twice as large in gorillas. Chimpanzees and orangutans, while smaller-brained, also had larger canals than those of early human ancestors. This indicates high blood flow, which suggests the potential, at least, for higher intelligence, irrespective of the brain-to-body ratio.</p> <p>In short, looking at great apes might still give us a window into our own past, but that view is more recent than we previously expected.</p> <p>Further, when trying to place modern apes on an intelligence scale, past research has been somewhat lacking, at least as it's laid out in an <em>Animal Cognition</em> article entitled <em><a href="">The Mismeasure of Ape Social Cognition</a></em>, by David A. Leavens, Kim A. Bard, and William D. Hopkins of the University of Sussex, the University of Portsmouth, and Georgia State University, respectively. The article discusses the various ways research involving apes has played fast and loose with variables.</p> <p>Studies designed to compare the intelligence of apes with human children often aren't as controlled as, perhaps, they should be in order to come to confident conclusions. The most important variable discussed is that of social conditioning, of which human children enjoy over a lifetime, and of which apes aren't. In essence, human children are afforded an immeasurable amount of test preparation, by way of constant interaction with other humans, to which the apes are not privy.</p> <p>As a result, any conclusions reached about the innate intelligence of apes is muddied. There is, of course, no clear solution to this dilemma. One could raise an ape, from birth, in a human environment — or, alternatively, raise a human child, from birth, with apes — and then make comparisons. But those "solutions" have obvious and serious ethical concerns.</p> <p>All of this suggests, at least, that apes are likely more innately intelligent than we give them credit for. We simply don't have the tools to accurately measure their abilities, and we are otherwise biased toward human-centric measures.</p> <p>Additionally, there is no clear measure of what intelligence means. We can't honestly suggest that the only measure of intelligence is being able to successfully achieve what humans do. To be sure, there are things we are very good at, and which apes are less skilled at. On the other hand, there are particular tests apes excel at, and humans fail miserably. This is clearly illustrated by memory tests carried out at Japan's Primate Research Institute.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>In the test, numbers are laid out in random order and location on a screen. The task is to remember where all of the digits are located and recall them accurately. The trick is, as soon as one number is touched, the rest are covered over by white squares.</p> <p>Chimpanzees not only outpace humans in this sort of memory recall, but they do it incredibly fast and with a high degree of accuracy. Were this the standard measure of intelligence, chimpanzees would beat out humans without any doubt.</p> <p>This demonstrates that intelligence is not as black and white as we like to think. Humans are clearly smart, on the whole, but only when measured by the things we consider to be important.</p> <p>Researchers at PRI have suggested a sort of Cognitive Trade-off Hypothesis, by which humans lost this kind of rapid recall in favor of other talents. The parts of the brain that previously might have allowed us to excel at this rapid recognition and short-term memory were sacrificed so that we might be able to improve at other tasks, which were more important to our survival.</p> <p>It's probably true to say, then, that both humans and apes are intelligent, just in slightly different ways.</p> <p>The question then becomes: Is it possible for apes to become intelligent in the ways in which humans are?</p> <p><strong>ANIMAL UPLIFT</strong></p> <p>There are lots of sci-fi stories about animals that have been made smarter or more human-like, including <em>The Island of Doctor Moreau</em> and <em>Umbrella Academy</em>'s Pogo. But could we actually bring those animals to life?</p> <p>There are two methods by which non-human animals could reach human levels of intelligence.</p> <p>The first, of course, is the method by which we got here: evolution.</p> <p>There has been some recent evidence that some apes and monkeys are now in an equivalent to the human Stone Age. It's unclear whether this is a recent development or one that we've only just noticed. Whatever the case, these animals have checked one of the intelligence boxes previously ascribed only to humans.</p> <p>It's also worth noting that evolution is not a scale, along which all animals travel. We tend to think of our own evolution as a path from Animal to Human. And, from a certain point of view, it was. But natural selection doesn't care about the guidelines we ascribe to progression. Evolution is not a ladder that species climb, it is a process driven by environmental pressure that can push a species in myriad directions.</p> <p>All species alive today have evolved just as much as we have, but in different ways. Great apes are not less evolved than us, just differently so. As such, there's no definitive reason that they should move toward human levels of intelligence. Unless, of course, their environment requires it.</p> <p>If an intelligent ape is the goal (though it's questionable whether it should be), it might require a technological intervention, one of which we might be capable.</p> <p>In 2019, researchers in China led by Bing Su at the Kunming Institute of Zoology <a href="">placed a human version of the gene MCPH1</a> — a gene that relates to brain size and is believed to possibly be involved in the evolution of human intelligence — <a href="">into 11 rhesus macaque embryos</a>.</p> <p>When the macaques were two to three years old, scientists tested their memories, which were found to be in excess of their peers. This suggests that by modifying the DNA of non-human animals, in specific ways, we might be able to push their intelligence beyond their natural bounds.</p> <p>Again, we run up against ethical concerns with this type of research.</p> <p>Say we were successful in creating an animal with significantly advanced intelligence. Where would that animal fit in the world? Surely, it could find only frustration and be potentially ostracized by those of its own community. Could it live happily among us? Would we end up with an animal intelligent enough to understand what was done to it, doomed to suffer all of its life?</p> <p>Proponents of such research suggest that the findings could help to reverse or prevent cognitive disorders in humans. But it is our responsibility, as the bearers of these technologies, to clearly investigate not only our motives, but the potential repercussions.</p> <p>Discussion of these kinds calls into question any and all research involving animals, but especially those animals so closely related to us. When we look into the eyes of apes and see ourselves, we might consider extending not only our curiosity, but also our compassion. Perhaps visions of animal experimentation and uplift are better suited for our screens than our laboratories.</p> Beneath the Planet of the Apes Planet of the Apes Science Behind the Fiction Movies Science Science Behind the Fiction Features syfywire-post-211446 Wed, 27 May 2020 17:00:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Cassidy Ward Sean Murphy fixes broken stories in new sci-fi fantasy graphic novel 'The Plot Holes' <p>Since his meteoric rise in the comics kingdom starting with his creator-owned cult classic <em>Punk Rock Jesus</em> and 2014's Eisner-winning sci-fi miniseries with writer <a href="">Scott Snyder</a>, <em>The Wake</em>, writer/artist <a href="">Sean Murphy</a> has been blazing a distinctive trail by staying true to his creative roots and redefining the raw limits of the medium.</p> <p>After his sizzling run with writer Rick Remender on Image's futuristic pop-punk saga <em>Tokyo Ghost</em> and a high-octane gig with Mark Millar on<em> Chrononauts</em>, the masterful Murphy hit full afterburners beginning in 2018 by deconstructing <a href="">Batman</a> for DC's smash hit <em>Batman: White Knight</em>. This was followed up by last year's sequel, <a href=""><em>Batman: Curse of the White Knight</em></a>, which ended this past March.</p> <p>Now the maverick illustrator is taking his newest and most ambitious project to the crowdfunding community on <a href="">Indiegogo</a> with a rousing new fantasy adventure graphic novel titled <em>The Plot Holes</em>, and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive preview for this bold endeavor alongside comments from its orchestrator.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1000" height="1000" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Sean Murphy Art</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent">"<em>The Plot Holes</em> is about a failed comic book artist who realizes that his world isn't real," Murphy tells SYFY WIRE. "He's actually inside of a novel that sucks and is going to be deleted. He gets approached by a squad of superheroes called <em>The Plot Holes</em>. What they do is hop into a ship and jump from book to book, fixing each plot as they go so that each book they fix can get published. This is all in a digital <em>Matrix</em>-y type of world.</p> <p>"So he joins them, basically going from book to book trying to save as many of these worlds as he can. Sort of an editorial staff armed with guns and swords. Like <em>Quantum Leap</em> meets <em>Wreck-It Ralph</em> in a way. It's definitely a kitchen sink type of universe. I created it because I had so many bucket list genres I wanted to do one day and I wasn't getting done with things fast enough. So I thought I'd just create a team where one guy's from a manga, one guy's from a Victorian vampire story, one guy's a car guy, one guy's the comic strip. They're all from different worlds like <em>Guardians of the Galaxy</em>. They do and they don't get along and have to keep moving forward if they want to survive."</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1375" height="888" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Sean Murphy Art</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Murphy's current plan is to complete <em>The Plot Holes </em>with longtime collaborator, ace colorist<em> Matt Hollingsworth,</em> then go back to<em> Batman</em>, then do another volume of <em>The Plot Holes</em>. With how <em>The Plot Holes</em> is designed, he can do any genre he wishes. Want to do an ancient Egypt thing? Great, then leap into a story that unfolds in ancient Egypt.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1375" height="888" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Sean Murphy Art</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>"I come from the indie world, so the crowdfunding route is kinda second nature," he explains. "I've already done two Kickstarters, so I kinda know how these things go. Normally once your book is out it takes two years before a reader can get the deluxe hardcover edition. I thought, 'Why don't I just do that first, start out with the deluxe hardcover, straight to readers? I don't have to share the money with anybody after I cover my costs. Then I can worry about distributing it in Europe or the United States to the local comic shops.' For me, it's the same process I always do, but in reverse. I was really excited to see if it works out. It came along at a convenient time, in a weird way, so I'm glad I'm going this route. It's good for people who are do-it-yourselfers. It's kind of the Wild West, and it gives creators a lot of freedom. Right now, with the coronavirus, we're all not sure about the stability of comic book shops and getting things distributed and where the industry is going to be in a year."</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1358" height="918" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Sean Murphy Art</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>"I'm not worried about comic shops going away," Murphy adds. "If you're a smart owner trying out different things, you're always going to be able to survive some way. And with all these comic book movies coming out, having a shop that specializes in merchandise for these billion-dollar franchises, how can that not be viable? The industry itself will change and then it will be up to the shops to find new avenues and ways to partake in that.</p> <p>"Sort of like a record store," he notes. "I can download my favorite music right now, but there's something about going to a vinyl shop and buying a big 18-inch vinyl, getting the booklet and the smell and the experience. People are willing to pay a premium for the collectibility of those things. If I was a comic shop, that's what I'd be focused on. Less on weekly stuff and more on collectible things and deluxe hardcovers in the future. This is how comics are in Europe and Japan. They don't like cheap weekly floppies. They want a nice high quality-printed, 66-page edition and they're happy to wait a year before it comes out. The model we're headed toward has to be a mix of what Europe and Japan are doing and what's happening digitally online. We'll crack the code, we just need to focus on it and stop pretending that it's going to be scary."</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1274" height="888" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Sean Murphy Art</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent">Murphy's <a href="">Indiegogo</a> campaign has been a raging success, with nearly 1,800 backers pitching in to the tune of over $155,000 so far with 49 days left and strong interest continuing to mount. <em>The Plot Holes</em> lands March 2021!</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1124" height="1054" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Sean Murphy Art</p></figcaption></figure></div> comic previews Sean Murphy The Plot Holes Exclusive Comics News syfywire-post-211445 Wed, 27 May 2020 16:42:18 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jeff Spry WIRE Buzz: Despicable Me’s Gru + Minions coronavirus PSA; Picard filming delayed; more <p>Plenty of entertainers in the world of genre have either reprised famous roles or used their association with the darker side of fiction to remind fans to be safe during <a href="" target="_blank">the coronavirus pandemic</a>. We even got a warped version of <a href="" target="_blank">Freddy’s song from <em>A Nightmare on Elm Street</em></a>. Animated characters cutting COVID-19 PSAs, however, are a much more rare commodity. So when <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Despicable Me</em></a>’s Gru and the inescapable slapstick Minions released a video about pandemic safety, it made sense for fans to listen.</p> <p>Featuring Gru’s film voice, Steve Carell, the team-up between The World Health Organization, United Nations Foundation, and Illumination is all about giving some tips to the younger segment of the genre fandom.</p> <p>Take a look:</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>Physical distancing, home activity, Zoom calls, and kindness are all hit hard by the voiced-over supercut, which will eventually be dubbed in multiple languages. </p> <p>“At this challenging time, we must find all ways possible to provide hope to people while sharing advice that can protect our health,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom said in a statement. “WHO is excited to be working with Illumination and Steve Carell and the joys of the Minions and Gru to promote the importance of physical distancing, keeping active and connected, and being kind and compassionate to overcome COVID-19.”</p> <hr /><p>Next, while some genre projects are helping combat the pandemic with PSAs, others are feeling its impact in less positive ways. <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Picard</em></a>, for instance, has had its shooting schedule bumped a few months. The CBS All Access <em>Star Trek</em> show that gave Patrick Stewart fans a glimpse into <a href="" target="_blank">Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s fate</a> was set to shoot its sophomore effort in the middle of June. Now, it’ll be delayed.</p> <p>During the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Star Trek: Voyager</em> 25th anniversary livestream</a>, Seven of Nine’s Jeri Ryan explained that things weren’t going to go ahead as planned for the series’ second season. Kate Mulgrew asked about how <em>Picard </em>was faring under the coronavirus, leading Ryan (who also appears in the new show) to answer that the greenlit S2 was being pushed beyond the summer.</p> <p>"They're hoping we can start shooting in the fall," Ryan explained.</p> <p>No word on whether this will affect the premiere of the season’s 10 episodes, which are currently set for either a late 2020 or early 2021 premiere.</p> <hr /><p>Finally, a YA series about a magical school (no, <a href="" target="_blank">not the one you’re thinking of</a>) is going to get the cinematic treatment.</p> <p>According to <a href="" target="_blank">Deadline</a>, Universal has nabbed the rights to Nebula Award-winning author Naomi Novik’s <em>Scholomance </em>series and its first book — <em>A Deadly Education </em>— is already being developed into a movie.</p> <p><em>A Deadly Education</em> looks to be the first novel in a planned trilogy, called “a twisted, super dark, super modern, female-led <em>Harry Potter</em>” <a href="" target="_blank">by its publisher</a>. That makes sense, because it’s a magic school filled with death, power, and monsters — no teachers allowed. It follows El Higgins, who will need to survive the dangers of education while trying not to blow her classmates apart with her arcane prowess.</p> <p>The adaptation has yet to land a creative team, but the book will publish this fall.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> coronavirus Despicable Me Minions PSA Scholomance Star Trek: Picard Movies TV News syfywire-post-211464 Wed, 27 May 2020 16:15:43 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jacob Oller SpaceX's new spaceship toilet is a bit of a mystery: 'We'll let you know how it works out' <p>The crew of <a href="" target="_blank">SpaceX</a>'s Crew Dragon capsule are set to make history during their <a href="" target="_blank">May 27 test flight</a> to the International Space Station. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will ride to space in what will be the Kennedy Space Center's first manned launch in nearly a decade. But the real burning question isn't attached the the inclement weather, the private corporate interests, or the national pride associated with returning to orbit from American soil — it's about pooping.</p> <p>Over the course of the livestreamed launch (seen below), Behnken and Hurley will be spacebound for a long time in that capsule if all goes well.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent">They won't arrive at the ISS until May 28, in fact, so they'll have almost an entire day of confined sitting/floating to accommodate. That means bathroom technology was a must. What exactly that technology is — and how it'll function — seems to be one of the more mysterious elements of the launch. "I don't know the potty answer to the potty question," said SpaceX vice president of mission assurance Hans Koenigsmann <a href="" target="_blank">during a Monday news conference</a>. And few people are talking about how it works at all.</p> <p class="media-element-parent">NASA's been mum on the subject while <a href="" target="_blank">Business Insider</a>'s investigation found out that it was on the capsule's ceiling. "I don't know if the toilet is really cool, necessarily, but it is there," ex-astronaut/-Dragon developer Garrett Reisman told them. According to <a href="" target="_blank"></a>, even those going onboard the Crew Dragon capsule aren't necessarily sure how it'll go. "We'll let you know how it works out," Hurley said back on May 1 with regards to using the mysterious toilet. "We'll let you know when we get back."</p> <p>But even <em>that</em> might not be something that happens, if Reisman is to be believed. The consultant elaborated that the astronauts probably won't even use the (perhaps needlessly secretive) facilities on Crew Dragon and instead "hold it," because going to the bathroom in space is so little fun.</p> <p>"I can tell you from personal experience, and data collected by NASA — it's kind of like going on a camping trip, in the sense that, for the first 24 hours, your body kind of shuts down a little bit as far as the digestive system goes," Reisman said. "So, I guess where I'm going with this is, I don't think there's going to be a whole lot of pooping on Dragon."</p> <p>Launches are great and going to space rocks, but the more mysterious and evasive these toilet answers are, the more the world will want to know: how is SpaceX making these astronauts poop?</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Crew Dragon space SpaceX Science News syfywire-post-211467 Wed, 27 May 2020 15:21:56 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jacob Oller SYFY celebrates Pride with LGBTQ programming slate, from Wynonna Earp to Xena <p>After going big on <a href="" target="_blank">Women's History Month back in February</a>, SYFY is continuing to celebrate the inclusive side of fandom by partnering with LGBTQ+ advocacy organization GLADD to bring tons of queer content this June. The National Pride Month celebrations include marathons, celebrity guest spots, and plenty of LGBTQ content coming from the <a href="" target="_blank">SYFY FANGRRLS</a>.</p> <p>Parades might be an iffy proposition during this particular summer, but staying indoors isn't going to stifle Pride this year. Being a queer, socially distanced couch potato is downright relatable representation in 2020.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>That's why GLAAD is helping SYFY with PSAs featuring resource and donation links throughout the summer, and helping host virtual events. But the SYFY shows fans love are also leaning hard into their queer elements.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em>Wynonna Earp</em></a>, for example, will celebrate #WayHaught every week, playing themed marathons all about the relationship between Waverly Earp (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) and Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell) each Wednesday in June:</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>Fans will also get <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Xena: Warrior Princess</em></a> marathons (iconic) on Thursdays, and stars Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor might even pop in for a spot or two along the way:</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>Oh, and let's not forget the all-female creative team behind <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Vagrant Queen</em></a> will bring fans its S1 finale on June 4:</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>“During a time when many Pride events have been cancelled, SYFY and USA are offering viewers a place to celebrate and feel celebrated with specialty content in honor of National Pride Month,” SYFY president Chris McCumber said in a release. “We are so grateful for GLAAD’s partnership and advocacy towards positive representation, and look forward to joining together to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community throughout June.”</p> <p>Some of that celebration, as fans may have already guessed, will take place in between the marathons, episodes, and movies. With tons of fan-made testimonials, trivia, and education about queer creators, SYFY is making this Pride Month one to remember. SYFY FANGRRLS is doing their part too, with recommendations, the queer-focused “Strong Female Characters: Uncoded” podcast, and tons of specialized articles (plus, how can you not love a game titled "Reboot, Remake it Gay You Cowards, Ruin"?).</p> <p>“SYFY and USA each have long histories of sharing LGBTQ stories that entertain, enlighten, and inspire and this Pride month will bring empowering content and series to fans all over,” GLAAD Chief Communications Officer Rich Ferraro said in a statement. “During a Pride month when many LGBTQ community members will not be able to gather in-person, LGBTQ visibility matters more than ever and SYFY and USA’s content will help to ensure the spirit of Pride still shines bright.”</p> <p>Everything gets a lot more colorful starting in June.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Pride Month SYFY Vagrant Queen Wynonna Earp Xena: Warrior Princess Movies TV News syfywire-post-211463 Wed, 27 May 2020 15:00:45 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jacob Oller The continuing popularity of alternate history TV shows <p>The Darkest Timeline is a phrase born out of the Season 3 <em>Community </em>episode “Remedial Chaos Theory” that has since become a shorthand of sorts for whatever horror the world is experiencing. Troy's (Donald Glover) scream upon seeing his apartment is on fire can easily sum up any of the years from 2016 to present. Sitting alongside five other timelines, this multi-verse episode of <em>Community </em>is a different spin on a “What If?” narrative, which often looks to a global event as the jumping-off point. </p> <p>While the “darkest timeline” approach is a popular option for the genre, taken by Philip K. Dick and Philip Roth in the novels <em>The Man in the High Castle</em> and <em>The Plot Against America</em> (both of which have been adapted for television in the last decade), not all alt-histories take the worst-case scenario approach to the “here’s what you could’ve won” concept. Recently, several optimistic variations have joined the fray including the Netflix limited series <em>Hollywood </em>and Quentin Tarantino’s<em> Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood</em>. Differing greatly in style and content, both projects chose show business and Los Angeles as the foundation rather than politics (though the two overlap, of course). What do the subjects at the heart of these differing timelines say about the period we currently live in?    </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="843" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Amazon Prime </p></figcaption></figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent">Fiction that takes a real event and imagines a different result did not begin with the outcome of WWII, even if the depiction of a world in which the Nazis were victorious is a popular jumping-off point of this genre. Some examples go back to the Romans with the defeat of Alexander the Great providing a counter-historical imagining in <a href="">Titus Livius’ <em>History of Rome</em></a> (alternatively referred to as <em>Ab Urbe Condita Libri</em>), which was written between 27 and 9 BC. In the 19th century, Napoleon’s losses were turned into a victory for fictional purposes, and <a href=""><em>If It Had Happened Otherwise</em></a> was a 1931 collection of essays offering up versions of what could’ve been across history — including who Mary, Queen of Scotts, married and who won the American Civil War.</p> <p class="media-element-parent">Mid-20th-century science fiction narratives saw a boom in this kind of story; two world wars and atomic anxiety are a heady inspirational combination for depicting a catastrophic reality, a topic explored in Susan Sontag’s <a href="">still relevant</a> “The Disaster of Imagination.” In 1962, Dick’s <em>The Man in the High Castle</em> was published, detailing the Axis Powers' victory over the Allies in WWII (with a later twist in the novel). </p> <p>Adapted for TV in 2015, creator Frank Spotnitz probably didn’t foresee just how depressingly relevant the villains at the center of this story would become. Coincidence does play a role in the timing of a series, but there are also cultural factors that feed into TV shows and movies greenlit to match the mood of the globe, as well as how viewers respond to them. David Simon’s 2020 HBO adaptation of Philip Roth’s 2004 novel <em>The Plot Against America</em> takes on a new urgency when factoring in the current administration. “If you read the novel it's startling how allegorical it is to our current political moment. He wrote it obviously without Trump in mind. This was published in 2004,” Simon told NPR in a <a href="">recent interview</a>. Fact is often stranger than fiction, so something that wasn’t written with a particular intention or figure can still reflect a real-life scenario. </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="933" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Michele K./HBO</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>In <em>The Plot Against America</em>, Charles Lindbergh — <a href="">a Nazi sympathizer</a> — beats Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election, unleashing a wave of anti-Semitism. The child at the heart of the story is a version of author Philip Roth, making it a personal story in a version of history that didn’t happen. Adapting this novel now makes a statement about the current fractured state of not just the United States, but the world. Allegory is one way of translating and understanding events; by setting something in a past that took a turn right instead of left, it puts distance between the divisive present and a historical event with a different outcome. However, the audience recognizes and draws the line between what could’ve been and the very immediate threats to the political landscape. Art helps us make sense of trauma and alternate histories help reflect anxieties by portraying a turbulent past that never was. It is why a political event such as an election or the victors of a world war tend to provide the framework of these narratives.     </p> <p>Debuting in November 2019,<em> For All Mankind</em> is one of Apple TV+’s flagship shows, taking a defining moment of the 20th century and flipping the outcome. In this case, the USSR landed on the moon before Neil Armstrong could utter the immortal words of its title. At first glance, this doesn’t sound <em>as </em>monumental as who became president or who were victorious in WWII, but Ronald D. Moore’s drama details the impact this would have on the morale of the nation at the height of Cold War tension.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="933" /><figcaption><p>Source: Apple</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>In the first episode, hope is put on the chopping block if the Apollo 11 mission fails. It is not the kind of pep talk you typically get from the Houston control center, but in those versions of the moon landing, the US has not been beaten and the president isn’t breathing down their necks. The butterfly effect begins in the pilot episode including Ted Kennedy canceling his Chappaquiddick shindig — the weekend that resulted in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Without this scandal, Kennedy is a potential rival to Nixon in the next election.</p> <p>Rather than turning away from the space program, NASA has to keep toe-to-toe with their rivals so when the Soviets send female astronauts to the moon, it gives women a chance to make their mark in this prominent role. Alternate history doesn't have to mean a timeline with no progress — in fact, in this case, women get an opportunity to be part of this program long before they did in reality.    </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1280" height="853" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Hulu</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent">A "What If?" narrative set in the 1960s will likely deal with the Kennedy family in some capacity. <em>For All Mankind</em> opens with a montage of JFK's space race speeches that are a major part of his legacy. The 1963 assassination tore a hole in this decade, which is what Stephen King’s novel-turned-Hulu-miniseries <em>11.22.63 </em>centers on, and the conspiracy that trails the event also makes it ideal for this type of story. Protagonist Jake Epping travels back to 1960 to stop the Kennedy assassination; however, when (<strong>spoiler alert</strong>) Jake successfully stops the shooting, it has a detrimental impact. Returning to 2016, Jake finds a wasteland because, after Kennedy’s two terms, Alabama Governor George Wallace becomes president. This is a case of being careful what you wish for — the grass is definitely not always greener on the other side. </p> <p>Changing events is part of the DNA of <em>Quantum Leap</em>. which focuses on the lives of normal people as Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) leaps into various humans to change the past for the better. Occasionally, big-ticket names such as JFK would show up, including the double-bill in which Sam leaps into Lee Harvey Oswald. Sam was never meant to stop Kennedy’s death, rather he leaps into a Secret Service Agent’s body just in time to save the First Lady. In the <em>Quantum Leap</em> version of events, Jackie is also a victim on this November day. It is surprising the early ‘90s ABC show has yet to have a reboot — with the right cast, it could be great — and there is something incredibly hopeful about this series because it focuses on small stories (with the odd exception).  </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1296" height="730" /><figcaption><p>Credit: NBC</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><em>Timeless </em>and <em>Outlander </em>have opposing motivations concerning the preservation of history. The <em>Timeless </em>team does everything in their power to keep the world as it was (featuring the likes of the aforementioned Charles Lindbergh and JFK), whereas the Frasers attempt to change the Battle of Culloden and are currently on the cusp of the American Revolution. These shows look at whether history can be changed rather than a version of the world that is different from our own.</p> <p>Neither dips their toe into multiverse theories, which is at the heart of <em>Fringe's </em>parallel worlds. Some things are better over there, while others are not. One common thread denoting an alt-timeline is the proliferation of blimps. The many-worlds theory suggests infinite outcomes exist alongside one another; for example, the Nazis were victorious, and simultaneously they were defeated. The parameters for alternate historical events are infinite. </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="933" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Sony Pictures</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>WWII and the Cold War cover a period of 60 years, so it is unsurprising this tumultuous period provides seemingly endless opportunities for storytelling. Adding the concept of alt-timelines opens up the potential to incorporate allegorical tales, a bleak version of reality, or even wish fulfillment. Hollywood is the land of make-believe and there is no one this town likes to write about more than itself. Quentin Tarantino rewrote the end of WWII using cinema as the fiery backdrop in<em> Inglourious Basterds</em> before taking on the infamous Sharon Tate murder and the so-called end of the 1960s in <em>Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood</em>. The latter is something Joan Didion discusses in her seminal essay “<a href="">The White Album</a>,” observing the mood of August 9, 1969. “The tension broke that day. The paranoia was fulfilled.” In Tarantino’s version of events this date still ends in a bloodbath, but rather than Tate and her friends, the perpetrators are killed. What follows in the days and weeks after remains unseen, but this “happy ending” is still a bloody one. </p> <p>Taking the optimistic post-WWII energy that infiltrated the movie industry, Ryan Murphy asks what if Tinseltown had opened its arms to everyone and not just the stories of the white, straight and cisgender. <em>Hollywood </em>begins like a run-of-the-mill story focusing on youthful faces trying to become the Next Big Thing before peeling back the "What If?" layers. Righting the wrongs of the past comes with good intentions but it feels like it sells short real-life figures like Rock Hudson and Anna May Wong, and their very real struggles. Tension is lost in the second half of the series, which culminates in an Oscar ceremony that should have been. Rather than portraying the truth of this decade, <em>Hollywood </em>embraces the magic of movie illusion. The ability to imagine what could've been will be the daydream some will find refreshing while others will only see how disingenuous it is. </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="933" /><figcaption><p>Credit: SAEED ADYANI/NETFLIX</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Wistful romanticism is a big part of the <em>Hollywood </em>aesthetic, which is currently in short supply in the real world. When times are tough, this genre can either reveal a utopia or show that things are not as bad as they could be. Philip K. Dick was influenced by Ward Moore's 1953 novel <em><a href="">Bring the Jubilee</a></em>, in which the Confederacy had won the Civil War. A similar story was recently slated to be made for TV. Yes, <em>Game of Thrones </em>showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were slated to make <em>Confederate </em>for HBO, but the reaction to this particular historical revisionist tale was not met with open arms. Alt-history is a very popular genre; however, two white guys helming a show in which slavery is still legal was incredibly misguided, and <a href="">it didn't go beyond pre-production</a>. <em>Watchmen </em>instead<em> </em>became the alternate history to watch, dealing with race and real events like the 1921 Tulsa massacre. The <em>Watchmen </em>graphic novel debuted in 1985 when the Cold War was still precarious and the fear of nuclear annihilation was very real, the TV show arrived during an equally unstable period.</p> <p>When the world feels like it is on fire, escapism takes on different forms including finding entertainment in a past that looks worse than our present. To borrow from Robert Kennedy who, paraphrasing a <a href="">George Bernard Shaw</a> quote, wasn't talking about alt-history narratives: “Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” But in an alternate timeline, maybe he was.  </p> <p> </p> Fangrrls Hollywood Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Outlander The Plot Against America Timeless Watchmen TV syfywire-post-211290 Wed, 27 May 2020 15:00:01 -0400 SYFY WIRE Emma Fraser 'Make it a little more Ridley Scott': How Snowpiercer's 1,001-car train got built IRL <p>In the cold, post-apocalyptic world of <a href=""><em>Snowpiercer</em></a>, the only humans left alive survive because of the titular train, a 1,001-car monster created by the mysterious Mr. Wilfred. In the real world, though, somebody had to design Snowpiercer — and make it so they could actually film a TV show inside such seemingly cramped sets.</p> <p>"To be honest with you, there are a couple of design issues and challenges about the train," production designer <a href="">Barry Robison</a> tells SYFY WIRE. "The train cars are no wider than 12 feet and our longest car was 60 feet long, but for the most part, they were 40 feet long. So, for any designer going into a project like this, it's an abstract challenge in the nth degree."</p> <p>Robison also had to make the train visually interesting — it's a dystopian society on rails, not an Amtrak, after all. Rather than imitate the train as it appeared in <a href="">Bong Joon Ho's film adaptation</a>, Robison decided to go back to the original French graphic novel that both the film and the new TNT show are based on.</p> <p>"The graphic novel was really robust in its stylization," Robison says. "It didn't feel sci-fi. It didn't feel steampunk-ish. It just had this really strange other world-like quality about it. And that's what I wanted for the design. I wanted it to be strong, robust, and strange."</p> <p>Robison revealed more of Snowpiercer's secrets in his interview with SYFY WIRE.</p> <p><strong>Was it tricky to design sets that were both realistically cramped, but also that it was possible to actually film a TV show inside of?</strong></p> <p>In one word: Yes. [<em>Laughs</em>.] It was really a challenge. We had these cars that the effects department had built by the time I had arrived on location in the studio. They were semi-trailers that had been adjusted for the stage. Our base platform was there. We had four soundstages and there were probably between four and six cars per soundstage, creating the 1,001 train cars. We left them on the wheels of the semi-trailers so that they constantly moved and shifted on stage. The walls of each car were built into panels that could be dropped so that cameras could get inside the train.</p> <p><strong>Is the design of the train functional? Are you aware of where the main path through the cars is or did you ensuring that everything needs to fit in the train fits in the train? Or do you take some creative liberties for the sake of making a more exciting set? </strong></p> <p>In my first week, I really felt that it was necessary to map out the train — all 1,001 cars. And I've got to tell you, it was really fun. It was a very long map in 16-inch to one-foot scale. I mean, it was forever long, because the train is over 10 miles long. I worked with [executive producer James Hawes] and [Showrunner Graeme Manson] on how many tail cars, how many border crossing cars, how many third-class cars, how many second-class, how many utility cars for waste or food. We were really trying to be accurate and real about the train because Graeme and James and TNT wanted the technology to be rooted in today. This could happen three years from now as opposed to way in the future. So what we're dealing with is technology that we know of today within those cars. We tried to keep it as real as possible. And yes, we did have to take license on a number of occasions, but not so much that I think that the audience wouldn't believe that we were being true to the train.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1200" height="800" /><figcaption><p>Credit: TNT</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>Can you talk a little bit about your design philosophy when creating the distinction between First Class cars or Tail cars? How does the look of the train change as we move up Snowpiercer? </strong></p> <p>The overriding concept between First and the Tail is light. In the Tail, it's a windowless, dark environment. Once you get into Third Class, we start introducing lights. I want you to think of it almost like a ship — an ocean liner. If you're lower class or are in the sub part of the ship, it's windowless. You go to your next level, maybe you'll have the smallest of windows or portholes, and larger windows in second and obviously into First Class. And along with that a change of texture and materials and that was really, super important to show class distinction as well.</p> <p>In the Tail section, it's dark metal, grunge. Third Class has sort of grim colors, no metallics. Everything's a painted surface. Second introduces metallic finishes and better finishes, all staying within the train vernacular. In First Class, the finishes are luxurious, high-end, gloss lacquers, rich carpeting. One thing that TNT was adamant about was they did not want chrome finishes anywhere on the train. I thought that was a great call on their part, and I talked them into using copper. I wanted to use copper because copper is an old material and it can change depending upon how the copper is used. In First Class, it was high, high, high polish.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="933" /><figcaption><p>Credit: TNT</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong><a href="">When I interviewed Daveed Diggs</a>, he had a lot of praise for the sets and he said he was especially excited for fans to notice all the little details you'd packed every car with. Are there any details or Easter eggs that you were especially proud of? </strong></p> <p>[I'm proud of] the first-class dining room. I said, well, there's gotta be a strata structure even in the first class. So you'll notice that there are three tiers in the car. Up by the fireplace — that would be Wilfred's domain. Should he ever come in contact with the first-class passengers, he would be able to sit up there and look down and sort of lord over everyone.</p> <p>"The Chains" was an interesting car. Graham had written this section of the train as a place where artists and young people could get together and live communally. Originally, it was a normal train car. And I said, "Hey, I've got this great idea. As the train's moving after all these years, foodstuffs are being used up and now there are empty cars. Why not have these young people go in and sort of take them over as their space? They've cut holes in the different containers and they put in ladders." It's sort of a strange and cool community element. Over the years, things are glued together and nothing is perfect. You can sort of see that in the engine as well, where monitors have been sort of put up on walls where they wouldn't originally be.</p> <p>We did not want a perfect environment because that's true sci-fi, where it's so perfect and clean. I kept saying "we've got to make it a little more Ridley Scott." The thing that Ridley Scott and his designer Arthur Max did so brilliantly is to make their environments look lived-in. There may have been a high-tech gloss finish at one time, but not anymore.</p> Interviews Set Design Snowpiercer TV Features syfywire-post-211456 Wed, 27 May 2020 15:00:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE James Grebey WIRE Buzz: Disney World eyes July re-opening; Avatar 2 story details; Planet of the Apes <p>Following <a href="" target="_blank">the soft re-opening of Disney Springs</a> last week, <a href="" target="_blank">Walt Disney World</a> in Orlando, Florida is looking to open up its different parks, starting on Saturday, July 11. <a href="" target="_blank">Per Variety</a>, Disney and SeaWorld executives submitted re-opening proposals to Florida’s Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force, both of which were approved.</p> <p>Magic Kingdom (the park we all think of when we think of Disney World) and Animal Kingdom will welcome customers back on the 11th, with Epcot and Hollywood Studios (which includes Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge) following suit a few days later on Wednesday, the 15th. SeaWorld, on the other hand, is set to splash back down Thursday, June 11.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="933" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Matt Petit/ABC via Getty Images</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Naturally, there are to be plenty of health restrictions and protocols in place in order to prevent the spread of <a href="" target="_blank">COVID-19</a>. Temperature checks upon arrival, social distancing while inside the parks, contactless payments, mobile food orders, sanitization stations, and reduced capacities will be par for the course. Meet-and-greets with costumed characters, parades, and playgrounds for kids are temporarily suspended.</p> <hr /><p>James Cameron's <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Avatar</em></a> sequels <a href="" target="_blank">resumed production in New Zealand</a> this week and when it rains, it pours. Thanks to executive producer <a href="" target="_blank">Jon Landau</a> (who confirmed that filming was starting back up in the first place), we now have some delicious story details about <em>Avatar 2</em>, which is slated to hit theaters everywhere next December.</p> <p>"This is the story of the Sully family and what one does to keep their family together," <a href="" target="_blank">he told Radio New Zealand</a>. "Jake and Neytiri have a family in this movie, they are forced to leave their home, they go out and explore the different regions of Pandora, including spending quite a bit of time on the water, around the water, in the water. I think, why do people turn to entertainment today, more so than ever? I think it's to escape, to escape the world we're in, to escape the other pressures they have in their lives."</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="787" /><figcaption><p>Credit: 20th Century Fox</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Very interesting. This confirms that Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) did indeed settle down after Jake transferred his consciousness into an avatar body at the end of the first movie. We already knew that the next four films would explore different areas and Na'vi tribes on Pandora, but it's nice to know that the stakes are much bigger, now that the protagonists presumably have vulnerable children to look after on their next adventure.</p> <p>"I think with <em>Avatar</em>, we have an opportunity to allow people to escape to an incredible world with incredible characters that they will follow, in much the same way as Peter Jackson was able to do with <em>Lord of the Rings</em>, so that's what we're looking forward to doing," Landau added, confirming that the film crew is smaller than it was before the pandemic.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Recently speaking with Empire Magazine</a>, Cameron said that he didn't believe the production delay would affect the sequels' various release dates, which range between 2021 and 2027.</p> <hr /><p>Another big franchise that's trying to eke by amid the shutdown is Wes Ball's <a href="" target="_blank">high-profile continuation</a> of the <em><a href="" target="_blank">Planet of the Apes</a> </em>series. <a href="" target="_blank">During an interview with Discussing Film</a>, the <em>Maze Runner</em> vet confirmed that the script is still being worked on by Josh Friedman, a prolific genre scribe who actually co-wrote the second<em> Avatar</em> with James Cameron.</p> <p>Plenty of concept art is also being produced and Ball is hopeful that a virtual production can kick off "relatively soon because it’s largely a CG movie." When asked how his interpretation on the IP would relate to the simian story established by Matt Reeves' recent <em>Apes</em> reboot trilogy, the director hinted at new take that will be reverent at the same time.</p> <p>"They honored the original movies they sprang from, the Charlton Heston movies, but they grounded it in a modern sensibility and it just worked," Ball said. "Caesar is one of the great movie characters that we’ll have throughout time. So what do you do to follow that up, right? At the same time, I wasn’t interested in doing a part four either. We want to also do our own thing."</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1200" height="600" /><figcaption><p>Source: Fox</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>"We have a take. We have a way of staying in the universe that was created before us, but we’re also opening ourselves up in being able to do some really cool new stuff," the director continued. "Again, I’m trying to be careful here. I’ll say this, for fans of the original three don’t worry – you’re in good hands. The original writers and producers that came up with <em>Rise</em> and <em>Dawn</em>, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, they’re also on board with this. Josh Friedman is writing this thing, a lot of the same crew is kind of involved. We will feel like we’re part of that original trilogy, but at the same time we’re able to do some really cool new stuff. It will be really exciting to see on the biggest screen possible."</p> <p>The project is also set to utilize the groundbreaking motion capture/CG tech that was going to be used on Ball's <a href="" target="_blank">scrapped <em>Mouse Guard</em> film</a>.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Avatar coronavirus Jon Landau Planet of the Apes Walt Disney World WIRE Buzz Movies News syfywire-post-211458 Wed, 27 May 2020 14:50:29 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss This Week in Genre History: Super Mario Bros. the movie gets an instant 'game over' <p><strong>Welcome to <a href="">This Week in Genre History</a>, where Tim Grierson and Will Leitch, the hosts of the <em>Grierson & Leitch</em> podcast, take turns looking back at the world's greatest, craziest, most infamous genre movies on the week that they were first released.</strong></p> <p>Bob Hoskins, who died in 2014 at the age of 71, was one of Britain's most respected character actors. An Oscar nominee who deftly battled with a cartoon bunny in the beloved <a href=""><em>Who Framed Roger Rabbit</em></a>, he shined in subversive sci-fi satires (<em>Brazil</em>) and ambitious Hollywood blockbusters (<em>Hook</em>) alike. But he never forgot his most galling experience.</p> <p>"The worst thing I ever did? <a href=""><em>Super Mario Bros.</em></a>," the late actor <a href="">said in 2007</a>. "It was a f***in' nightmare. The whole experience was a nightmare. It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent. After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set! F***in' nightmare. F***in' idiots."</p> <p>Twenty-seven years later, that infamous cinematic catastrophe has lost none of its power to amaze with its sheer WTF-ness. Meant to launch a franchise, <em>Super Mario Bros.</em> hit the big screen on May 28, 1993, and was the first major film based on a video game. Hoskins played Mario, a gruff Brooklyn plumber working alongside his goofy kid brother Luigi (John Leguizamo). But they get more than they bargained for when they venture to a strange parallel New York known as Dinohattan that's populated with freaky upright reptiles and led by the villainous President Koopa (Dennis Hopper). Also, there's a Devo Chamber that turns humans into mindless lizards, resulting in a scene that traumatized a generation of young moviegoers.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><em>Super Mario Bros.</em> has to be seen to be believed. Some movies are so bad that <a href="">they're secretly good</a>. This film is so bad it crushes your spirit. It's unfathomably terrible. It does to your brain what the Devo Chamber does to Toad in the movie.</p> <p><strong>Why was it a big deal at the time?</strong> Nowadays, it's pretty common for video games to get the big-screen treatment. But before <em>Street Fighter</em>,<em> Mortal Kombat</em>, and <em>Lara Croft: Tomb Raider</em> ruled the multiplex, Nintendo bet big that audiences would be psyched to see a movie version of its Mario character.</p> <p>And why not? After all, the Italian-American plumber had been a fixture in arcades and home gaming systems since the early '80s, first appearing as the barrel-smashing hero in <em>Donkey Kong</em> before getting his own game. (When you bought the original Nintendo Entertainment System in the late '80s, it came with <a href="">the <em>Super Mario Bros.</em> cartridge</a>.)</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>And the company certainly seemed to have assembled a smart creative team to ensure that the movie was a success. Producers Jake Eberts and Roland Joffe had collaborated on Oscar-winning films like <em>The Killing Fields</em> and <em>The Mission.</em> Cinematographer Dean Semler had snagged an Academy Award for <em>Dances with Wolves</em> and had also shot <em>The Road Warrior.</em> The married directing team of Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel had co-created <em>Max Headroom</em>, one of the most innovative TV shows of the '80s. And Hoskins was in demand thanks to the effects-heavy crowd-pleaser <em>Who Framed Roger Rabbit</em>, replacing Tom Hanks who, at that stage of his career, wasn't yet a box-office titan. (Remember, this was before his Oscar wins for <em>Philadelphia</em> and <em>Forrest Gump</em>.)</p> <p>But about a year before its release, it was clear <em>Super Mario Bros.</em> was in serious trouble. A shocking <em>Los Angeles Times</em> set visit led to a <a href="">damning article</a> that painted a picture of a tense, miserable production in which the directors yelled at their cinematographer and the cast was frustrated by the endless rewrites. (When Hopper was told that Morton and Jankel wouldn't do interviews, the <em>Easy Rider</em> icon replied, "That's the smartest thing I've heard from them. That's the only intelligent thing I've heard that they've really actually done.")</p> <p>It didn't help matters that the trailer looked little like the game audiences loved. What was this weird, scary fantasy world that the filmmakers had created? "This wasn't 'Snow White and the Seven Dinosaurs,'" Joffe <a href="">later said</a>. "The dino world was dark. We didn't want to hold back." In a world of edgy kids' movies like <em>Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles</em>, maybe <em>Super Mario Bros.</em> could catch on.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong>What was the impact? </strong>Audiences just weren't interested. Premiering over Memorial Day weekend of 1993, <em>Super Mario Bros.</em> <a href="">ended up fourth at the box office</a>, bested by <em>Dave</em>, <em>Made in America</em>, and <em>Cliffhanger</em>. And while there were some striking visual ideas in the movie — production designer David Snyder made Dinohattan a funky dystopia right out of <em>Blade Runner</em> — the story was a witless, stitched-together disaster. Critics absolutely hated it, including Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, who tore it apart on their show:</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><em>Super Mario Bros.</em> ended on an ambiguous note — Luigi's love interest Daisy (Samantha Mathis), now the leader of the parallel universe, comes back to New York to ask for the brothers' help — but any hope of a sequel died once the film flatlined commercially. Needless to say, this wasn't an auspicious start for either Nintendo or video game movies in general. Even now, <em>Super Mario Bros.</em> is considered <a href="">one of the worst game adaptations of all time</a>, and its directors were effectively blacklisted because of the movie. "We were like lepers in Hollywood," Morton <a href="">later told <em>The Guardian</em></a>. "To this day people say: 'You did <em>Super Mario Bros.</em>? Oh God...' It was 20 years ago, but it's still there. What can you do?"</p> <p>This is what happens when you build a whole film around the belief that a movie starring Mario and Luigi just needed a lot of fungus to be a blockbuster.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong>Has it held up? </strong>Just like some masterpieces are hard to appreciate simply because their reputation is so glowing, an utter dog like <em>Super Mario Bros.</em> might seem too terrible to be true. C'mon, is it really that awful?</p> <p>Yes, it is.</p> <p>Hoskins and Leguizamo have no chemistry, and Hopper mostly hams it up as Koopa, behaving as if he just wants the whole miserable experience to be over. Every joke falls flat. (Fisher Stevens and Richard Edson, who play the witless Iggy and Spike, basically <a href="">came up with their own lines on set</a> because the script was so dreadful.) The only thing that's even remotely charming is the discovery that Goombas secretly really love to slow-dance:</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>No one involved with <em>Super Mario Bros.</em> has a nice thing to say about it. Even two years ago, Leguizamo <a href="">went on <em>Late Night With Seth Meyers</em></a> to lament that he turned down a part, ironically, in Tom Hanks' <em>Philadelphia</em> in order to play Luigi. But for fans of the game who hated what Hollywood did to the Mario Brothers, redemption may be on the horizon: A few years ago, Illumination (the company behind <em>Despicable Me</em>) began pursuing plans to <a href="">do an animated <em>Super Mario Bros</em></a>.</p> <p>"I like that this was not done well the first time," Illumination founder Chris Meledandri <a href="">said in 2018</a>. "I think that's more exciting or more worthy than simply making another version of a film that was done incredibly well to begin with."</p> <p>Safe to say, he'd have to try pretty hard to make a film that's even worse.</p> <p><em><a href="">Tim Grierson</a> is the co-host of </em><a href="">The Grierson & Leitch Podcast</a><em>, where he and Will Leitch review films old and new. Follow them on<a href=""> Twitter</a> or visit<a href=""> their site</a>.</em></p> opinion super mario bros. super mario bros. movie This Week in Genre History Movies Features syfywire-post-211428 Wed, 27 May 2020 14:30:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE James Grebey Glen Mazzara lays out his vision for the Dark Tower series we'll never get to see <p>For a little while last year, there was hope among fans of Stephen King's epic <em>Dark Tower</em> series that the live-action adaptation we'd all been dreaming about would finally arrive. After years of discussions and development, and <a href="" target="_blank">one failed big-screen adaptation</a>, a streaming series from former <em>The Walking Dead</em> showrunner Glen Mazzara was <a href="" target="_blank">set up at Amazon</a>, and a pilot was in production.</p> <p>Then, earlier this year — amid development of equally ambitious new series focusing on <em>The Lord of the Rings</em> and <em>The Wheel of Time</em> — Amazon <a href="" target="_blank">opted not to move forward</a> with <em>The Dark Tower</em>. Now, in a <a href="" target="_blank">new episode of <em>The Kingcast</em> podcast</a>, Mazzara has laid out his vision for an epic series that we'll never get to see. </p> <p>Back in 2017, Mazzara was just coming off his series <em>Damien</em> when MRC asked him if he had a take on <em>The Dark Tower</em>, which at that point was still being eyed as a potential cross-media franchise that would include both feature films and seasons of television to connect them. With that in mind, Mazzara's take began with an idea for a series that would follow a younger version of Roland, the gunslinger of Gilead, as he discovered the treachery of his father's advisor Marten Broadcloak, then set out from Gilead to fight his own battles. </p> <p>"That way I was carving out my parcel and it would be free from interference," Mazzara said. </p> <p>Then <em>The Dark Tower</em> feature film, starring Idris Elba as Roland and Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black, flopped at the box office, setting the stage for an entirely new adaptation at Amazon, where Mazzara's <em>Dark Tower</em> pitch ultimately landed. With the whole of King's epic saga to work from, Mazzara and his staff faced a choice: Did they begin their version of the story with King's first book, <em>The Gunslinger</em>, or did they begin with a prequel point of view? Mazzara explained to <em>Kingcast</em> hosts Scott Wampler and Eric Vespe why he ultimately chose the prequel option.</p> <p>"I thought if we have a character that loses everything — he loses his mom, he loses his dad, he loses the love of his life, he loses his ka-tet, he loses his land, his kingdom. He just loses the entire world, and he feels responsible for it. And then when he's stumbling through that desert — to me, that was going to be episode 304 -- we've seen him lose everybody in the Battle of Jericho Hill. Then all of a sudden the audience is <em>invested</em>," Mazzara said. "The audience has gone through the process. The audience has lost all of that, and now the audience understands exactly who Roland is when he meets the adult ka-tet and he goes on his journey."</p> <p>With that in mind, Mazzara focused the early seasons of his series plan on the fourth book in King's saga -- the prequel story <em>Wizard and Glass</em> -- with material also taken from flashbacks in <em>The Gunslinger</em> and the sidequel novel <em>The Wind Through the Keyhole</em>, to lay out who Roland was before his entire world fell apart. That would have included his relationship with Susan Delgado, the war that ultimately brought down Gilead, and the Battle of Jericho Hill that saw Roland lose his childhood friends. It would have also given the character of Marten — a sorcerer who seduced Roland's mother and worked to bring down Gilead from within — a bigger role in the early part of Roland's life, as both he and the young gunslinger would be in search of the "wizard's glass" (a kind of seeing stone) in the Barony of Mejis. Mazzara's way of introducing this struggle would have also included a direct reference to the opening scene of King's entire epic.</p> <p>"The story of the pilot is basically Roland in the desert. 'The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed,'" Mazzara explained. "In this version he’s chasing Marten because Marten was with [Roland's mother Gabrielle Deschain] and he’s vowed his revenge. In the books, [Roland] gets his guns to kill Marten and then Marten sort of disappears from the narrative. So [Roland] chases Marten across the desert and ended up in Hambry. He meets Susan. In the pilot it’s the Feast of the Kissing Moon and she’s being presented to the mayor and she meets Roland on the road. Roland goes into Traveler’s Rest."</p> <p>From there, Roland's early tragedies would have unfolded through the story of <em>Wizard and Glass</em>, and by the third season the series would have picked up with a more aged, weary Roland pursuing the Tower, which he would have seen through the wizard's glass back in earlier episodes. Eventually, if he'd been able to move forward with the series, Mazzara and his team would have adapted the entire saga over the course of several years, including some ambitious plans for side characters.</p> <p>"I was really looking forward to Blaine [the demented monorail train from <em>The Waste Lands</em>]. I had ideas for that," Mazzara said. "I was really looking forward to [Father Callahan]. In fact, I was hoping to take Callahan's backstory from the time that he leaves 'Salem's Lot to the time he ends up in Mid-World, I wanted to do that as its own mini-series. I didn't think you could fit that into <em>The Dark Tower</em> proper, so I wanted to split that off. I had plans to hire the best joke writers in Hollywood to write when Roland and Susannah meet Dandelo. I really wanted that to be laugh out loud funny. There were all these things I was jonesing to do."</p> <p>Sadly, we won't ever get to see Mazzara's version of the story, and while he seems to have made peace with that, he also seems convinced that someday someone will come along and tackle the entire epic. </p> <p>"I think there is interest. I'm hopeful. I'd like to watch it. You know, I would have liked to have done it," he said. "I think it's just a matter of the timing. It's an expensive show. It's a sprawling show. You have to really do it right. You have to have a team of people who really commit to knowing this material. And I think the audience would have to be patient."</p> <p>For more on Mazzara's <em>Dark Tower</em> plans, including a more in-depth discussion of shooting the pilot, <a href="" target="_blank">listen to the full episode of <em>The Kingcast</em></a>. </p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Amazon Glen Mazzara Stephen King The Dark Tower TV News syfywire-post-211460 Wed, 27 May 2020 14:08:19 -0400 SYFY WIRE Matthew Jackson The Pull List: How the pandemic changed comics. Plus new projects, Avengers & Suicide Squad <p><em><strong>Welcome to </strong></em><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>The Pull List</strong></a><em><strong>, SYFY WIRE's weekly comics column that gets at the pulse of what's going on in comics right now. Everything from huge crossovers to real-life issues facing the industry, a cool first look, the week's hot new comics, and everything in between. Basically, we're here to help you with your pull list.</strong></em></p> <p>This week, after a brief interlude in which they embraced digital publishing as a stopgap, Marvel Comics will roll out new single issue comics for the first time since <a href="" target="_blank">Diamond shut down</a> shipping operations two months ago and effectively put a halt on the comics direct market as we know it amid the<a href="" target="_blank"> COVID-19</a> pandemic. Basically, for the first time in two months, the gang's all here at your local comics shop, albeit with somewhat smaller offerings and amid public health concerns that mean you'll still have to pick up your books in a socially distant way. Since comics are back, though, it's worth taking a moment to consider what we may have learned about the market amid the pandemic, and what lasting effects the shutdown might have on the way we buy, sell, and read comics.</p> <p>Last week, DC Comics <a href="" target="_blank">announced <em>DC Connect</em></a>, a new digital catalog available free on the publisher's website that promises solicitation information for all of their upcoming books and, in the months to come, things like "talent interviews, preview pages from upcoming stories, behind-the-scenes looks at projects in development, multimedia content, and more." The catalog will replace a previous iteration titled <em>DC Previews</em>, and arrives in the weeks after DC embraced an alternative distribution model that saw them entering into agreements with two new distributors while Diamond was closed. When those alternative distributors worked well enough for the company on Tuesdays amid the pandemic, DC also announced that it would allow retailers to begin selling all of its books on Tuesday, effectively <a href="" target="_blank">creating a second New Comic Book Day</a>.</p> <p>So far, none of the other major publishers have followed DC's lead on this, either in terms of alternative distributors (other than the publishers who were already partnering with book producers to distribute trade paperbacks and hardcovers) or in terms of the new Tuesday release date option for retailers. That said, DC's continued shifts in their model even as Diamond begins to ramp its business back up are worth paying attention to. When Diamond put shipping on pause, most publishers shied away from alternative distribution, as well as efforts to ramp up digital releases out of a sense of solidarity with retailers, who were also often resistant to the idea of setting up accounts with other distributors. Much of the industry hit the pause button rather than trying something which might have confused and even riled retailers and readers alike, while DC took some small steps in the direction of trying something different.</p> <p>Now, Diamond's back up and running and publishers are ramping up their releases again, but DC's not abandoning its different approach. Will they lean in harder to their alternative models in the coming weeks? Will they be phased out? It'll no doubt depend a great deal on the response from the market at large, particularly now that all of the competing publishers are putting out new product again. I certainly don't have the answers, nor do I have the direct market expertise to predict with any degree of certainty how this will shake out in the months to come. What I <em>do</em> know, though, is that even as comics get back to something approaching "normal," we should be paying attention to what sticks around after this strange collective pause, and what we learn from it.</p> <hr /><h2>Comic Book Legal Defense Fund-raising</h2> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1042" height="313" /><figcaption><p>Comic Book Legal Defense Fund</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has been a valuable resource for the comic book community for more than 30 years, and they're one of many organizations that's stepped up to help in a big way amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to keeping up their vital work on the legal front to preserve free expression in the medium, they've expanded their resources in this time of crisis to include resources for retailers seeking financial aid due to economic hardship and offering virtual education for teachers and librarians. Now, they need your help to continue their work.</p> <p class="media-element-parent">Last week, CBLDF launched <a href="" target="_blank">a new fundraising drive</a> that features some very exciting rewards if you're able to pay the fee to become a member of the Fund. Beginning later this week and continuing all through June, CBLDF will host a variety of virtual experiences for members with some of the most celebrated creators in comics. Want to be part of a Q&A with Dave Gibbons or Alex Segura? How about a live art session with Colleen Doran or Tim Seeley? How about a series of talks with industry legends led by former DC Comics president Paul Levitz? All of these events and more are available at various CBLDF membership levels, which start at $30 and move up through $50 and $100 tiers. Head over to the CBLDF's website for more information.</p> <hr /><h2 class="media-element-parent">Cool new projects: 'Big Girls' and 'Blacking Out'</h2> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="651" height="1000" /><figcaption><p>Image Comics</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent">I love comics and I love monster movies. Put them together with an intriguing high concept and I am all the way in, which is why I was very excited to see Image's announcement late last week that Jason Howard (the artist on <em>Trees</em>, another great high concept book) is taking the reins as writer and artist on his very own creator-owned project titled <em>Big Girls. </em>What's <em>Big Girls</em>? Well, it takes place in a world in which men have transformed into giant, city-destroying monsters, and the only thing standing in their way are the Big Girls, equally giant women who've become monster fighters for the good of the planet. What I love about comics is the subtlety!</p> <p class="media-element-parent">"The heart of the story really came from me sometimes feeling overwhelmed by the size of the world's problems, it can seem like the only fix is an equally big solution," <a href="" target="_blank">Howard said</a> in an interview with THR. "Exploring that feeling became the story's setting, where their problems are literal giant monster men who are destroying the world (science you crazy!). Fortunately they have an equally giant solution, Big Girls who kick monster butt."</p> <p class="media-element-parent"><em>Big Girls</em> arrives this August from Image, and you can go check out an <a href="" target="_blank">amazing four-page preview</a> at the publisher's website right now.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="680" height="438" /><figcaption><p>Chip Mosher/Kickstarter</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent">It's become something of a minor tradition here at The Pull List to highlight cool comics Kickstarters, and another intriguing one came roaring out of the gate this week. <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Blacking Out</em></a> is a new crime comic from writer Chip Mosher (who you might know best as the head of ComiXology Originals) and artist Peter Krause (<em>Irredeemable</em>), with colors by Giulia Brusco, letters by Ed Dukeshire, and design work by Tom Muller.</p> <p class="media-element-parent"><i>Blacking Out</i> has that intoxicating mix of a classic crime story framework and an unforgettable backdrop that I find hard to resist. It's the story of Conrad, a drunken and disgraced ex-cop trying to solve the murder of a women whose body was found in the wake of a massive California wildfire. As he fights both external and internal battles, Conrad races to solve the crime and find a measure of redemption along the way.</p> <p>The book's Kickstarter goal of $500 was met in less than 10 minutes after it launched this week, and was really only there to cover final printing costs. If you want to chip in enough to get a beautiful deluxe hardcover edition of this story, you'll have a beautiful object on your hands by the end. If you just want a digital copy for $10, you'll get it in a matter of weeks.</p> <hr /><h2><strong>This week's hot new comics: Avengers, Suicide Squad</strong></h2> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="585" height="899" /><figcaption><p>Image Comics</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>It's the biggest week for new comics in two months, so here's what we're excited about this New Comic Book Day.</p> <p><strong><em>Avengers</em> #33: </strong>There's no one working in superhero comics right now who can take beloved canonical concepts and mash them up into something entirely new quite like Jason Aaron, and he's proven that time and time again with his <em>Avengers</em> run. Issue #33 features the launch of a new arc for the book, and the arrival of artist Javier Garron to take over for Ed McGuiness, which makes this a nice jumping-on point if you've only been peripherally aware of the book so far (though you should definitely go back and catch up for more context).</p> <p>The new arc is titled "The Age of Khonshu," which means Moon Knight is here to bring his particular brand of chaos to the adventures of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but not necessarily as an ally. No, after the interstellar insanity of the Starbrand saga, the Avengers now find themselves facing Moon Knight at the peak of his powers, and it's one of the most exciting arc launches of the run so far. Garron is a welcome addition to this particular part of the book, because his style seems particularly suited to Moon Knight's fighting style. The issue opens with a spectacular martial arts sequence in which the panels themselves seem to be shaking with the fury of the punches, and from there the story takes some spectacular fantasy turns that allow Garron to draw everything from epic landscapes to crowds of monsters. It's a hell of a new direction for the book, and it's clear by the end of the issue that we're heading for something big even by <em>Avengers</em> standards.</p> <p><strong><em>Suicide Squad</em> #5</strong>: Maybe it's because I've read a lot of press releases in my time, but I must confess to carrying a healthy dose of skepticism whenever a new creative team promises they're going to show us something unprecedented when they take over a popular title. I've been burned before, and I'm betting you have too. You go in expecting some kind of thrilling shift in the status quo and you get...well, not that. But I should have known better than to count this creative team out, because writer Tom Taylor and artist Bruno Redondo are absolutely crushing their <em>Suicide Squad</em> run so far. What started with a shakeup of the team dynamic has since evolved into a deadly game of shifting agendas and secret plots, and it all comes to a head in a big way with #5 thanks to the presence of that perpetual chaos agent known as Captain Boomerang.</p> <p>The legendary Squad member is back, and this time he's serving as the centerpiece of a standoff between the Squad's new handler, Lok, Osita's group of reluctant new recruits, and Deadshot and Harley, who find themselves ready to make a change. Redondo's beautifully expressive art — he draws one of the best Boomerang faces I've ever seen — dials the tension in perfectly as the issue picks up steam, and Taylor's knack for pacing with this series just keeps sharpening. By the time it's all over, we've been treated to a game-changing issue of a tremendously entertaining book, and I can't wait to see what's next.</p> <p><strong><em>King of Nowhere</em> #2: </strong>If you're looking for a book outside of the realm of superheroes but you still want a genre fix, check out BOOM!'s <em>King of Nowhere</em> from writer W. Maxwell Prince and artist Tyler Jenkins. The series followed a drunken drifter named Denis as he stumbles into Nowhere — a "private town" full of strange citizens and even stranger threats — and meets everyone from a fish man to a bartender with an upside-down face. Once he's sure he's no longer dreaming, Denis finds himself roped into the town's strange goings-on, even as a violent figure from his past closes in.</p> <p>The framework for the story has all the elements of a crime drama with a "drifter with a dark past" hook, while also carrying all the allure and spellbinding possibility of a fantasy story, and Prince's scripts and their poetic narration manage to deliver the goods on both sides of that genre divide. Then there's Jenkins' art, which reminds me of Jill Thompson and Dave McKean working on some of the dreamier parts of <em>Sandman</em>. It's instantly evocative of a certain kind of story, one in which magical things are apt to sprout out of every nook and cranny even as regular occurrences like bar fights and hangovers proceed as usual. It's a beautifully realized story, and it's just getting started.</p> <p><strong><em>Bog Bodies</em>: </strong>Of course, it's possible you're looking for something even further departed from the world of fantasy this week, and for that there's <em>Bog Bodies</em>, the Image Comics graphic novel from writer Declan Shalvey and artist Gavin Fullerton. Set in the darkness of the mountains outside of Dublin, <em>Bog Bodies</em> is an instantly haunting, compelling crime story about a gangster who's fleeing retribution from a couple of of his collaborators after a job gone wrong. As he runs deeper into the dark, he stumbles upon a missing woman who's been lost in the woods for days. Together, they must evade a determined pair of killers who are trying to tie up loose ends no matter what.</p> <p>Ongoing series can take a little time to find their tonal balance, particularly if they star a popular character, but graphic novels have to come in with the perfect marriage of art and story right away or they risk losing the reader in the opening pages. Shalvey and Fullerton are in perfect sync here, as the darkly beautiful art provides the shadows while the often surprisingly funny script blends in a bit of light, and it all builds toward a deep and compelling story of violence and regret. It's the kind of crime drama you could picture seeing on prestige TV, a <em>Fargo</em> for the Emerald Isle, but told in a way that no other medium but comics could give it to you. It's the kind of book that hits you right between the eyes.</p> <p>And that's it for The Pull List this week. Until next time, remember what John Custer told his son Jesse in the pages of <em>Preacher</em>:</p> <p><em>"You gotta be one of the good guys, son: 'Cause there's way too many of the bad."</em></p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Boom! Studios DC Comics Image Comics marvel comics The Pull List Comics News syfywire-post-211444 Wed, 27 May 2020 13:28:24 -0400 SYFY WIRE Matthew Jackson The wicked spells of Michelle Gomez <p>It takes a lot to steal my focus away from the Doctor. I was doing femme-swap cosplays of the Doctor long before <em>Doctor Who</em> did me a solid and cast a woman in the role. Friends of mine embraced the companions of the renegade Time Lord as their point of view, audience-surrogate avatars. Meanwhile, I always gravitated towards the strange lonely god character existing on the fringes of the world — watching it, loving it, but never fully being part of it. There was never a threat to the Doctor's role as my favorite character on <em>Doctor Who</em> — that is until Missy quite literally twirled onto the screen.</p> <p>I've spilled gallons of ink on the Series 8 premiere episode, "Deep Breath," and the reason why I chose to memorialize it <a href="">in a tattoo</a>. But aside from all of the other things that I love about that episode, it will always also be the vessel by which Michelle Gomez began her invasion of my heart. While Gomez was already the devilish darling of such British TV classics as <em>Green Wing</em> and <em>Bad Education</em>, it took Cybermen and Time Lords to bring her to me.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="970" height="545" /><figcaption><p>Credit: BBC</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>At first glance, Missy — the first canon female incarnation of the iconic villain, the Master — might not seem all that remarkable. Missy's look, a sort of demented Mary Poppins (complete with umbrella), falls firmly in the line of Steven Moffat-era <em>Who</em>'s most-favorite type of <a href="">female villain</a>: slightly anachronistic, impeccably dressed, and with the ever-present hint of governess meets dominatrix to her. But while this look had been a go-to for villains played by the likes of Celia Imrie, Keeley Hawes, and Diana Rigg, Gomez is the one who most felt like perhaps she had just brought her own stuff from home.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1280" height="720" /><figcaption><p>Credit: BBC </p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>That was the genius of Gomez's Missy. I know enough about the process of television production to know that shows have scripts and that Moffat was a particularly prolific showrunner. But this tiny Scottish woman with cheekbones you could slice vegetables on brought such chaotic fire to the role that made it feel like the show had just turned into a documentary, that Missy herself had just invaded the set of <em>Doctor Who</em> and the crew were forced to just turn the cameras on and react to whatever she did.</p> <p>But it would be foolish to look at what Gomez did with Missy and write her off as a one-trick pony. For proof of that, I invite you to turn your gaze to her equally as notable heel-turn (turned face-turn, turned heel-turn again? I'm not sure, it gets confusing) as <a href="">Lilith, aka Madam Satan</a>, on Netflix's <em>Chilling Adventures of Sabrina</em>. For as much as it might have seemed a natural fit to bring similar manic energy to the role of Lucifer's hatchet woman and eventual regent queen of Hell, Gomez chose a different path.</p> <p>Where Missy is a raging firestorm, Lilith is a simmering boil. She is restrained, calculating, and smoldering. It's not that she's any less murderous than Missy, she simply takes her time with it. Savors it.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="935" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Diyah Pera/Netflix</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Strangely, her style seems to make an equal about-face in the other direction. Missy's unstable demeanor felt in check by her impeccable, conservative attire — with ankle-length skirts, fully buttoned shirts and vests under a Victorian overcoat, and hair neatly pulled up under a tiny hat. Lilith, on the other hand, lets her hair out in gloriously full waves, the bigger the better. Her styles run from curvy read vintage numbers to full-on "queen of bones" gowns complete with demonic crowns. It's as if all that Missy energy had to go somewhere and exploded out into the wardrobe department.</p> <p>And <em>Sabrina</em>'s third season gives us yet a third version of Gomez's work, the somewhat lost and confused Mrs. Wardwell, Sabrina's mortal teacher turned surprised principal who struggles to find her place back in her own life after Lilith hijacked it for so long. It's telling though that even once she's given up her cover and returned to Hell, Lilith doesn't change her face. Why would anyone give up being Michelle Gomez if they didn't have to?</p> <p>Whether she's raising her voice or raising Hell, letting her locks flow or pulling us in with her perfect eyeliner, Michelle Gomez makes bad feel like the most fun. The world and I are hers to burn.</p> Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Doctor Who Fangrrls Merry Month of Bae Michelle Gomez witchy wednesday Fangrrls default TV syfywire-post-211238 Wed, 27 May 2020 13:00:01 -0400 SYFY WIRE Riley Silverman The Invisible Man & Upgrade director Leigh Whannell working on new film at Blumhouse <p>Filmmaker <a href="">Leigh Whannell</a>'s genre career has lived at Blumhouse since his <em>Saw</em> collaborator, James Wan, hopped over to the production outfit for the <em>Insidious</em> franchise. Whannel wrote all four parts of that series, helmed the latest installment, and leaped into <a href="" target="_blank">directing originals with the scrappy <em>Upgrade</em></a>. Now Whannell — fresh off of <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Invisible Man</em></a> and news that he's penning a possible <a href="" target="_blank">remake of <em>Escape from New York</em></a> — and Jason Blum — head of Blumhouse — have hinted at what the future holds for them both and where their futures cross over.</p> <p>Speaking to SYFY WIRE for <em>The Invisible Man</em>'s arrival on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, Whannell demurred on <a href="" target="_blank">the <em>Escape from New York</em> remake</a> (he's previously said that he's "a little afraid of" the daunting task and wants "to approach it very carefully") but opened up a bit about what the dream version of his post-quarantine project looks like.</p> <p>"I wish I knew exactly what my next film project was," Whannell says. "It's an interesting time. It's a good time to think at least, it's like the pause button has been hit on the world. Usually, when I'm trying to think of ideas for movies, I do a lot of staring out the window — and maybe I feel a little guilty about that — but now everybody's staring out the window, so I don't have to feel too guilty. But I don't know what the future holds for movies."</p> <p>That uncertainty has pervaded the industry, sidelining productions around the world and catalyzing the development of safety guidelines for those hoping to get back to work. Blumhouse has recently been in talks to get back on the Universal lot, though even those plans are still reportedly waiting on plenty of greenlights involving officials in government, insurance, and health capacities. For Whannell, these stumbling blocks simply mean that any end product needs to be extra special.</p> <p>"I know I want to do something really unique," Whannell says. "I feel like movies are hard anyways and now in the coronavirus era, it's really, really hard. So if I'm gonna make a movie I want it to be a real statement — something you can't get anywhere else."</p> <p>And, according to Blum, at least one of these films is already in the works at Blumhouse (with whom Whannell <a href="" target="_blank">signed a first-look deal in February</a>).</p> <p>"In the fall, we have our next <em>Halloween</em> movie [<em>Halloween Kills</em>] and so far we're holding onto that date in October [Oct. 16]," Blum tells SYFY WIRE. "We have another movie for a date in November. We haven't announced it yet, but we have the movie and it's great. That's what's at stake for the rest of the year and obviously we're cooking up all sorts of things to come. And we're working on one project I'm really excited about with Leigh. We haven't announced it yet, but it's coming soon.”</p> <p>As more and more production companies dip their toes into resuming work — and Hollywood looks to continue business, if not as usual — more details are likely on the way.</p> <p>Whannell's latest film for Blumhouse, <em>The Invisible Man</em>, is now available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Blumhouse Interviews Jason Blum Leigh Whannell the invisible man Exclusive Movies Features syfywire-post-211401 Wed, 27 May 2020 13:00:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jacob Oller Jedi Temple Challenge: First Star Wars game show drops nostalgic trailer ahead of June premiere <p>The galactic games begin in the first trailer for <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge</em></a>. Harkening back to the classic Nickelodeon game shows of the 1990s and early 2000s, <em>Jedi Temple Challenge</em> (hosted by Jar Jar Binks actor <a href="" target="_blank">Ahmed Best</a>) is basically <em>Legends of the Hidden Temple</em> with a fun, <a href="" target="_blank">Lucasfilm</a> twist.</p> <p>Interestingly, the series will not premiere on Disney+ as we all previously assumed, but on the <a href="" target="_blank">Star Wars Kids YouTube channel</a>. The first episode arrives Wednesday, June 3 and subsequent installments are set to debut each week thereafter.</p> <p>Facing "three challenging rounds of Jedi trials," teams of two will vie for a chance to enter the fabled Jedi Temple, probe "the mysteries inside, and prove their bravery to become Jedi Knights." Dressed in sweeping Jedi robes, Best serves as master of ceremonies alongside two droids: one a wise-cracking, bipedal bot voiced by <em>Veep</em>'s Mary Holland meant to recall C-3PO, the other a beep-booping Astromech droid meant to recall R2-D2.</p> <p><strong>Check out the trailer now:</strong></p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>As you can see, Padawan contestants must prove both their physical prowess (by completing obstacle courses on distant planets) and mental knowledge (by answering trivia questions and solving puzzles aboard Jedi Star Cruisers and the like) — all while avoiding the temptation of the Dark Side. If Anakin Skywalker competed on the show, he'd probably lose.</p> <p class="media-element-parent">"With <em>Jedi Temple Challenge</em>, it brings back this idea that we all have levels of connection to the Force, and you can actually grow your connection to the Force and it can become stronger through these trials at this temple," <a href="" target="_blank">Best said in early April</a>. "All of those things that Yoda did with Luke Skywalker at Dagobah in the swamp, this is where it was first. It was in this temple. You had to get good here. I dig that. It’s something that I think would be wonderful for kids. Because now there’s a path to this thing ... Now there are actual steps you can take to being a strong Jedi. It gives you belief and faith."</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Ahmed Best Disney Lucasfilm Star Wars Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge TV News syfywire-post-211455 Wed, 27 May 2020 12:44:27 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss SpaceX and NASA's historic Dragon launch scrapped due to poor weather <p>It's been almost nine long years since astronauts were launched into the Earth's orbit from American soil. <a href="" target="_blank">SpaceX and NASA</a> were hoping to make history today by sending a pair of space-farers (Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley) to the International Space Station via the famous Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida — flying in SpaceX's new Crew Dragon spacecraft. Unfortunately, inclement weather conditions led to the mission being scrubbed.</p> <p>They're going to try again on Saturday (May 30) and barring that, Sunday (May 31).</p> <p>Once the mission does finally go through, it'll be the first instance of astronauts heading to space on a commercially built rocket. A success, moreover, holds incredible implications for the cost of domestic space launches and who ultimately handles them (i.e. the private sector or the government) from here on out.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">The pre-launch event</a> was available to view in different forms across multiple platforms, including a three-hour special on the Science Channel and Discovery channels. Those without a television, though, didn’t (as <a href="" target="_blank">Douglas Adams</a> would say) need to panic — a livestream of the pre-launch build-up was available on YouTube. Check it out below:</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>"What the astronauts bring to the table is the crew-vehicle interface. What would work on orbit, what might not work on orbit, what would definitely work," Hurley said in a pre-recorded segment. "To be able to just have the entire, integrated team that's gonna support us getting to and from space station — talking together, working through the challenges that simulators typically throw at you. It's just been an incredible undertaking to see where we've come in just the last five years."</p> <p>"My role on the Demo-2 mission is to make sure that we get this vehicle tested and evaluated, so that we can move on to more operational missions at the International Space Station," Behnken said. "We've got a lot of objectives onboard the vehicle that we need to accomplish to really make sure that it's good to go. We'll make sure all those systems are working during the test flight, so that the future missions will have them available, even if they don't plan to utilize them."</p> <p class="media-element-parent"><a href="" target="_blank">SpaceX</a> founder and CEO <a href="" target="_blank">Elon Musk</a> and NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine (both of them wearing face masks and standing at a distance) spoke with Behnken and Hurley ahead of the launch. With no audio, it was unclear what topics they discussed, but it's probably safe to assume the words "good luck" were uttered. The two astronauts were standing in their custom-made space-suits that are a far cry from the bulky costumes of the Apollo era. </p> <p>Not long after, Kelly Clarkson appeared remotely to sing the national anthem.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="1053" /><figcaption><p><strong>NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (R) and Doug Hurley (L) walk out of the Operations and Checkout Building on their way to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft on launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center</strong> Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent"><em>Space Launch Live: America Returns to Space</em> aired on the Discovery and Science Channels. The special featured appearances by Musk; singer Katy Perry (after all, she did sing and co-write <a href="" target="_blank">"E.T."</a>); <em>MythBusters</em>' <a href="" target="_blank">Adam Savage</a>; former <a href="" target="_blank">NASA</a> engineer Mark Rober; former astronauts Mike Massimino and Karen Nyberg; active astronauts Jessica Meir and K. Megan McArthur; NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine; and astronaut Chris Cassidy from the International Space Station.</p> <p>"We've done everything we can to make sure that the rocket is safe and that the spacecraft is safe," Musk said during an interview with Washington Post reporter Christian Davenport. "I really want to get the youth excited about the future of space and get us thinking about the future in exciting ways. The future's gonna be better than the past; we'll be out there [as] a space-faring civilization, having cities on Mars, having cities on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Ultimately going beyond the solar system to other star systems. I think the United States is a nation of explorers."</p> <p>“Everything SpaceX does feels like a science fiction movie to me," Savage said, speaking from his nerdy workshop. He added that today is so important because we all need stories, especially during the pandemic, of humans coming together to do the seemingly impossible. Touching on Musk's hope of an eventual manned missions to Mars, he said: "I'm not sure if we're gonna get there during my lifetime, but I am sure that human beings will eventually colonize the solar system."</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="933" /><figcaption><p>Credit: PHILIP PACHECO/AFP via Getty Images</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Katy Perry is (and you can't make this up) watching the launch on a retro television with giant rabbit ears from the late 1960s. The singer appeared on<em> Space Launch Live</em>, sitting on a fake moon with a sea of twinkling stars in the background. For all we know, she could've snuck onto the stage of a high school production of <em>Peter Pan</em>.</p> <p>"We just wanted to pay homage to the '60s and all the incredible space travel that happened then, landing on the moon," Perry explained of her outdated TV set. She also touched on the streamlined SpaceX suits, saying: "I think they're absolutely elegant and beautiful and I agree they are the definition of the future now ... They look absolutely comfortable, they look like an incredible feat in engineering and I know that they're gonna keep these astronauts safe and tht is the most important part."</p> <p>"It's very important that since it is the future, that it look and feel like the future and that it seems exciting," Musk explained during the Davenport interview. "You want kids to look at that spacesuit and say, 'I wanna wear that suit one day.'"</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="987" /><figcaption><p>Credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Olivia Munn</a>, Lance Bass, <a href="" target="_blank">William Shatner</a>, and Mark Cuban were among some of the celebrities to send their well wishes to Behnken and Hurley.</p> <p class="media-element-parent"><a href="" target="_blank">IMAX</a> hosted its own watch party with astronaut Terry Virts and producer/director Todd Douglas Miller (<em>Apollo 11</em>). There were actually two events planned, one for the launch and one for the docking (set for tomorrow morning). Since the latter is no longer happening today, we'll have to wait and see if IMAX decides to reschedule it for the weekend.</p> <p>While it is a bit anti-climatic to see the mission scrubbed, Musk, ironically, had some words of comfort during his chat with Davenport, which was filmed prior to the launch.</p> <p>"You don't want to truncate hope," he said. "The possibility of being a space-faring civilization out there among the stars, it's very important to keep that hope alive."</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Adam Savage astronauts Musk NASA SpaceX Science News syfywire-post-211453 Wed, 27 May 2020 12:19:49 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss Vampire fish suck delicious blood from their prey, but these monsters’ DNA is now being used to stake them <p>B-horror has nothing on a phenomenon that might as well be called <em>Attack of the Vampire Fish. </em>Imagine a bizarre fish that latches onto prey with a suction cup mouth, drills a hole in their flesh with its tongue, and slowly sucks out their blood and liquefies their tissues while they are still alive.</p> <p>However much this might sound like a bizarre movie that crawled out of the ‘80s, <a href="">sea lampreys are a real threat</a> — and infesting the Great Lakes. You know something is a nightmare when it becomes resistant to the pesticides meant to annihilate it. Now scientists are getting revenge by trying to hack this thing’s DNA before it takes over.</p> <p>Lampreys have the potential to drain the life essence out of over 100 million pounds of Great Lakes fish if they keep breeding. They have no jaw, bones or actual teeth but can murder fish up to 100 times their size and could eventually end up killing the ecosystem from the top down. Never mind that has and still can wreak havoc on fisheries. Lampricide (it isn’t just mosquitoes and murder hornets that get doused with poison) isn’t working as well as it used to since these parasites just keep adapting. Biologist Nick Schloesser <a href="">is coming up with something more effective</a>. <a href="">Environmental DNA (eDNA)</a> monitoring could help keep what is the world’s largest collective body of water from being sucked dry by the lamprey.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="791" /><figcaption><p>Lampreys literally suck. Credit: Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>eDNA is DNA that organisms leave behind in their environments. Lamprey DNA, and the eDNA of any aquatic life-form, can easily get diluted and scattered throughout the water by currents and other disturbances in the water. That doesn't stop scientists from tracking this monster down. Scholoesser graduated from University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, which has been collaborating the U.S. Geological Survey since the 1970s. He has been able to use his research and experience to help wildlife organizations use eDNA to screen for lampreys as efficiently as possible. Like many UWL graduates, he now works with the USGS to keep advancing <a href="">lamprey control</a>.</p> <p>The only way lampreys could previously be sought out and eradicated was through tedious and expensive physical monitoring. Knowing exactly where to carry out extermination methods such as lampricide and barrier dams can save enormous amounts of time and money. eDNA allows for a much faster and more expansive investigation at a fraction of the time and cost. Lampreys spawn in tributaries and give themselves away without realizing it because they are constantly sloughing cells of their bodies, leaving eDNA in their wake. Both U.S. and Canadian Fish and Wildlife Services are taking advantage of this by searching for this evidence to determine how high the lamprey population is. They are <a href="">pretty harmless filter feeders as larvae</a>, but lampreys can blow up to 40 to 50 times their size by the time they reach adulthood. Scary.</p> <p>Future methods of lamprey suppression could go beyond tracking their DNA to actually hacking it. Scientists are <a href="">looking into methods of biocontrol</a> that involve genetically modifying the vampire’s prey while genetically sterilizing the predator itself. There are just too many gaps in knowledge to pull that off successfully right now.</p> DNA Fish Science Vampire Science News syfywire-post-211448 Wed, 27 May 2020 11:34:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Elizabeth Rayne Battlestar Galacticast: Remembering Season 3, Episode 20: 'Crossroads Part 2' <p>Welcome back to <strong>Battlestar Galacticast</strong> ... time to talk <em>Battlestar Galactica</em> Season 3!</p> <p>All Along the Watchtower! Our company is all met as <a href="">Marc Bernardin</a> and <a href="">Tricia Helfer</a> are joined by <a href="">Michael Trucco</a> (Samuel T. Anders), <a href="">Aaron Douglas</a> (Chief Galen Tyrol), and <a href="">Rekha Sharma</a> (Tory Foster) to discuss the final episode of Battlestar Galactica Season 3: "Crossroads Part 2."</p> <p><strong>Spoiler Alert</strong> for Season 3! Listen below ... and <a href="">watch every episode of <em>Battlestar Galactica</em> on SYFY!</a></p> <div><figure class="op-interactive audio"> <iframe src="" style="width: 640px; height: 200px; border: 0 none;" width="640" height="200" scrolling="no"></iframe> <audio ><source src="" type="audio/ogg"></audio> <img src=""> </figure></div> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Click here to subscribe via Apple Podcasts.</a></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Click here to subscribe via Spotify.</a></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Click here to subscribe via Google Podcasts.</a></p> Aaron Douglas Battlestar Galactica Battlestar Galacticast Michael Trucco Podcast tricia helfer TV Features syfywire-post-211457 Wed, 27 May 2020 11:30:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Bryan Enk WIRE Buzz: Zoolander gets stylishly animated for CBS; Potter hits HBO Max; The Fear Collection <p>We feel like we're taking crazy pills because <a href="" target="_blank">CBS All Access</a> is now streaming an animated <em>Zoolander</em> movie and somehow, we didn't even know it existed until today. Not only that, but the film features the voices of the original core cast: Ben Stiller (Derek Zoolander), Owen Wilson (Hansel McDonald), and Jerry Stiller (Maury Ballstein; the elder Stiller, who was father to Ben, <a href="" target="_blank">sadly passed away</a> a couple of weeks ago).</p> <p>Styled in the same vein as the old <em>Spider-Man</em> and <em>Johnny Quest</em> TV shows of the 1960s, <em>Zoolander: Super Model</em> finds Derek and Hansel protecting the world from the dark forces of the fashion world. It's crazy, over-the-top, and just the thing you need after the lackluster live-action sequel in 2016.</p> <p>You can check out the really, really ridiculously good-looking trailer below:</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-vimeo"><iframe src="" width="640" height="360"></iframe></figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent">News of the project's streaming status was confirmed on Twitter by its animation house, Augenblick Studios. Like the previous two <em>Zoolander</em> flicks, the cartoon is packed with celebrity guests like Patton Oswalt, Tim Gunn, Christine Taylor, Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, Jon Daly, Heidi Klum, Jenny Slate, Andy Daly, and more.</p> <hr /><p class="media-element-parent"><a href="" target="_blank">HBO Max</a> (<a href="" target="_blank">launching today</a>) has become even more magical with the inclusion of all eight <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Harry Potter</em></a> films. <a href="" target="_blank">According to Deadline</a>, the movies based on <a href="" target="_blank">J.K. Rowling</a>'s best-selling book series are now available to stream on the fresh subscription platform. That also applies to the two <em>Potter</em> spinoff films — <em>Fantastic Beasts</em> and its sequel, <em>The Crimes of Grindelwald</em>.</p> <p class="media-element-parent">"You can't have our experience without having <em>Harry Potter</em> be a part of it," Michael Quigley, head of WarnerMedia Entertainment content acquisitions, reportedly said (via <a href="" target="_blank">THR</a>) in January.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="580" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Warner Bros.</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>It makes a ton of sense when you think about it: a Warner Bros. property available on a WarnerMedia-owned service. Obviousness aside, it's a no-brainer marketing move that will certainly draw in a good chunk of subscribers. HBO Max is fast becoming a one-stop shop for all WB content, old, new, original, animated, live-action — you name it.</p> <p><span>Across all eight films, one special marathon event, and the two </span><em>Fantastic Beasts</em><span> movies, the Wizarding World film franchise has racked up </span><a href="" target="_blank">over $9 billion</a><span> at the global box office.</span></p> <hr /><p><span><a href="" target="_blank">Variety brings word</a> that Sony Pictures International and <a href="" target="_blank">Amazon Prime</a> Video are diving into the unknown of faceless, madness-</span>inducing<span> terrors with <em>The Fear Collection</em>, a horror film anthology from </span><em>The Day of the Beast </em>director<span> </span>Álex de la Iglesia. Under the deal, he'll be able to write, direct, and/or produce genre movies — the plan is to make two a year — which will then hit theaters in Spain (via Sony Iberia) before moving over to the country's iteration of Prime Video.</p> <p>All international distribution is to be handled by Sony <span>Pictures International</span>.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="951" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Samuel de Roman/Getty Images</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>“It’s an ambitious project that I’ve been hauling around for years," de la Iglesia said in a statement to Variety. "The concept is to make a collection of films that unveil a universe of horror beyond time. The characters face supernatural forces that threaten humanity. The idea is to generate a label of films with a specific character, Cosmic Horror.”</p> <p>“Álex is a true maestro of horror. <em>The Fear Collection</em> is the perfect platform for Álex and Sony Pictures International Productions to explore the boundaries of genre filmmaking in Spanish cinema,” added Laine Kline, head of Sony Pictures International Productions.</p> <p><em>The Fear Collection</em> is said to be attracting talent like de la Iglesia's usual writing partner, Jorge Guerricaechevarría; <em>[REC] </em>writer-director Jaume Balagueró; <em>The Bride</em> director Paula Ortiz; <em>Veronica</em> co-writer Fernando Navarro; and<em> I Can Quit Whenever I Want</em> director Carlos Theron. Whether any of these people end up as directors under the overall deal remains to be seen, but if they do, de la Iglesia will get a creative say in all of their projects.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> CBS All Access Harry Potter HBO Max The Fear Collection WIRE Buzz Zoolander Movies TV News syfywire-post-211451 Wed, 27 May 2020 10:46:45 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss Chosen One of the Day: Hot Casper <p>As of this week, the movie version of <em>Casper</em> is 25 years old and we are therefore ancient. And for many of us, our romantic awakening is also 25 years old because we were tiny-baby-thirsty for Casper. The human one, not the round ghost boy, though he was a very good round ghost boy.</p> <p>So if you haven't seen the movie <em>Casper</em>, it's a ton of death and tragedy, like a weird amount for a kid movie and I say that as someone who grew up watching childrens' movies of the '80s. Kit (Christina Ricci) befriends Casper (a dead child) and her mom (a dead Amy Brenneman) turns Casper human as a treat and Real-Live Boy Casper is played by Devon Sawa, human sexual awakening for tween me. They dance, he whispers, it's awesome. Then he turns back into a ghost and scares her friends which is also awesome. Your living fave could never.</p> <p>Wanna feel old? This is Casper today, 25 years later:</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="852" height="480" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Universal Pictures</p></figcaption></figure></div> Chosen One of The Day Fangrrls Movies syfywire-post-211454 Wed, 27 May 2020 10:30:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Courtney Enlow HBO Max goes live today, axes algorithm for sections curated by humans <p><a href="" target="_blank">HBO Max</a>, the WarnerMedia streaming service boasting a massive backlog of genre content (and which recently made headlines for <a href="" target="_blank">being the home of the all-too-real Snyder Cut of <em>Justice League</em></a>), has launched. And it's apparently trying to do things a little differently.</p> <p>Aside from a library that features such fan-favorite genre offerings as the <a href="" target="_blank">Studio Ghibli films and the <em>Harry Potter</em> series</a>, HBO Max boasts a few <a href="" target="_blank">solid originals</a> — with more to come in the future, of course — and a way of displaying it all that's relatively unique in a streaming environment dominated by Netflix. Rather than rely on a massive and omnipotent algorithm to make its suggestions, HBO Max is first banking on the human element.</p> <p>According to <a href="" target="_blank">The Verge</a>, subscribers can find sections on the app where anyone from WarnerMedia pros to celebrities have put together watchlists — eschewing high-tech wizardry for shows and movies “recommended by humans.” That's just as important to HBO Max as the actual content of its vault, according to the service's senior vice president of product experience, Sarah Lyons. And the experience is only going to get more social as the service hits the public.</p> <p>“We’re going to be testing a lot of different ways to give other humans recommendations," Lyons explained. "As testing goes, and as we evolve the experience, we’re certainly looking at things like friends giving other friends recommendations. But we need to read the data and see how consumers engage.”</p> <p>In the meantime, HBO Max isn't just sections straight from people — as refreshing a concept as that might be. There are still the service's channel-like bubbles, offering up collections like media from DC, TCM, Adult Swim, or the aforementioned Studio Ghibli. WarnerMedia has a big ol' bunch of content, so separating it up as much and as helpfully as possible is going to be key to HBO Max's success. And the human element is only going to become more important as the service gains a user base.</p> <p>“There’s so much great content out there that customers are kind of getting a little overwhelmed,” Lyons said. “It’s really hard for them to make a choice about what to watch. We felt like there was a real opportunity to do something a little different with regard to discovery.”</p> <p>HBO Max goes live today, May 27.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> HBO HBO Max streaming Movies TV News syfywire-post-211452 Wed, 27 May 2020 10:18:41 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jacob Oller First Listen: Jessica Jones is back with new mystery in Serial Box's 'Playing with Fire' audiobook <p>Are you yearning for more hardboiled mysteries starring Marvel's <a href="" target="_blank">Jessica Jones</a>? Fret not, dear reader! SYFY WIRE brings you an exclusive preview from <em>Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire</em>, from <a href="" target="_blank">Serial Box</a>. On sale tomorrow, the immersive audiobook finds Jessica trying to lead a healthier lifestyle full of therapy, a no-drinks-on-the-job policy, and a load of cases that won't strip her soul to the bone.</p> <p>This self-care attitude is thrown out the window and spectacularly set ablaze when our hero takes on a missing-persons job that leads her to the body of a boy lying dead under an overpass. To the regular authorities, it seems like a simple overdose situation, but not for Jessica Jones — wisecracking and jaded private eye extraordinaire. Her obsessive search for answers may lead to her very undoing, but that's okay, just so long as there's some booze along the way.</p> <p>In our never-before-heard audio snippet (taken from Season 1, Episode 1), Jones meets with the boy's frantic father, Colin Greene, who doesn't seem to be all that accepting of super-powered folk. Still, a job's a job, even if it means you're forced to confront the fact that everyone you love is dead. Don't worry, though, Malcolm's still around.</p> <p><strong>Take a listen now:</strong></p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>Did you catch the "Hellfire" reference in there? Could we be in for some X-Men cameos in this story, or is it simply a reference to a place where Mr. Greene's son was last seen? Aha! The mystery is afoot, Watson ... er, Jessica.</p> <p class="media-element-parent"><em>Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire</em> is narrated by Fryda Wolff (<em>Apex Legend</em>, <em>Mass Effect: Andromeda</em>). It was written by Lauren Beukes (<em>The Shining Girls</em>, <em>Broken Monsters</em>); Elsa Sjunneson (<em>Alone in the Light</em>); Zoe Quinn (Vertigo’s <em>Goddess Mode</em>); Vita Ayala (Marvel’s <em>Nebula; Age of X</em>); and Sam Beckbessinger (<em>Team Jay</em>). The cover art (below) was drawn by Annie Wu.</p> <p class="media-element-parent"><span>You can pre-order all 16 episodes of </span><em>Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire</em><span> </span><a href="" target="_blank">right here</a><span> for $9.99. Serial Box has also </span><a href="" target="_blank">collaborated with Marvel</a><span> on e-books based on </span><a href="" target="_blank">Thor</a><span> and </span><a href="" target="_blank">Black Widow</a><span>. A Black Panther-based project is on the horizon as well.</span></p> <p>"Over the last 80 years, Marvel has grown to become a lifestyle for every kind of fan around the world — but it all started from serialized storytelling," John Nee, publisher of Marvel, said in a statement when the partnership between the two companies was announced last winter. "We were impressed by the quality and creativity of Serial Box’s content, and we are excited for both Marvel and Serial Box fans to experience these new stories together each week."</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1300" height="650" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Annie Wu/Serial Box</p></figcaption></figure></div> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Exclusives jessica jones Marvel Podcast Serial Box Exclusive Comics News syfywire-post-211431 Wed, 27 May 2020 10:05:36 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss What you need to know about today's NASA/SpaceX crewed launch <p>The last time human beings launched from American soil into Earth orbit was on 8 July 2011 — 8 years, 10 months, and 20 days ago. It's been 3,247 days.</p> <p>That is planned to change today, when a SpaceX Falcon 9 is scheduled to roar into orbit for the Demo-2 flight, a <a href="" target="_blank">Crew Dragon</a> atop the 70 meter-high stack, with two astronauts on board: <a href="" target="_blank">Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley</a>.</p> <p>The launch is scheduled for today at <strong>20:33 UTC</strong> (4:33PM Eastern US time).</p> <p><em>[<strong>UPDATE</strong> (27 May 20:30 UTC): The launch for today was scrubbed due to weather. The next attempt will be Saturday, 30 May, at 19:22 UTC.]</em></p> <p>If all goes well they'll be at the International Space Station in about a day, whereupon the Dragon will dock automatically with ISS at the Harmony module, and Behnken and Hurley will begin work with the Expedition 63 crew already on board. They're scheduled to remain from about 1 to 4 months, returning to Earth for a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean no later than late September.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="787" /><figcaption><p>Artwork of the Crew Dragon on final approach to the International Space Station. Credit: <a href="" target="_blank">SpaceX via Teslarati</a></p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Everything related to hardware and wetware (humans, that is) looks good; on 22 May <a href="" target="_blank">the rocket performed a successful “static fire” test</a>: A full-up test including fueling the rocket and a short propellant burn to make sure all is well.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">The flight passed its readiness review</a> on Monday, 25 May, and is go for launch.</p> <p>The only problem <a href="" target="_blank">as I write this</a> is weather. A storm system off the coast of Florida has reduced the chances of launching today to 60%. If the launch has to be delayed for any reason a second attempt can be made on Saturday, 30 May at 19:22 UTC (3:22 p.m. Eastern), and a third on Sunday, 31 May at 19:00 UTC (3:00 Eastern). These are <em>instantaneous windows</em>, meaning that if the Falcon doesn't launch right on time, they'll have to wait for the next window, when the orbit of ISS lines up with the launch facility in Florida once again.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="711" /><figcaption><p>The astronaut walkway connecting the launch tower to the Crew Dragon on top a Falcon 9 for Demo-1 in 2019. Credit: <a href="" target="_blank">SpaceX</a></p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>There is a lot riding on this mission. When the Space Shuttle Orbiter <em>Atlantis</em> touched down for the last time on 21 July, 2011, the Shuttle Transport System program had already been canceled by President Bush. The Constellation program was started to design and build a replacement vehicle, but was plagued with cost overruns and schedule delays. President Obama canceled that, but there wasn't much to replace it with. NASA wound up saddled with the Space Launch System, which I have been <em>very</em> clear about <a href="" target="_blank">as a gross waste of time, money, and effort</a> — it will cost at least a billion bucks to launch (and that's not including the many billions spent designing it), is non-reusable, and is basically a jobs and pork program by <a href="" target="_blank">certain members of the Senate</a>.</p> <p>During the gap in America's ability to launch a crewed mission, we've had to rely on the Russian Soyuz rocket, and <a href="" target="_blank">they have been price-gouging NASA for some time</a>. But they recently lowered their prices, <a href="" target="_blank">announcing it in a somewhat petulant manner to my ear</a>. Why? Because of SpaceX.</p> <p>When the private space company SpaceX started up it had many problems — getting to space is <em>hard</em> — but step-by-step they've made progress, <em>amazing</em> progress. Their first rocket, <a href="" target="_blank">the Falcon 1</a>, had three failed launches before achieving orbit in 2008. Since that time <a href="" target="_blank">the Falcon 9</a> has had 83 launches, including 31 reflown rockets after the first stage booster had returned to Earth. <a href="" target="_blank">The Falcon Heavy</a> has launched three times, all successfully. In 2012 the first <a href="" target="_blank">Dragon capsule</a> berthed with the ISS, and has been back up a score of times, with several capsules reflown to space, some more than once.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>The Demo-1 flight was in 2019, with the unoccupied Crew Dragon launched and successfully docking with ISS. Now, a year later — after delays, to be sure — Demo-2 is ready to fly.</p> <p>When it does, and if it's successful, it will mean astronauts can once again launch on American-built vehicles from American soil. A source of pride? Certainly. <a href="" target="_blank">But it will also save NASA a ton of money</a>. SLS and the Orion capsule have already cost about $40 billion (2020 dollars), and it's unclear when they will launch humans. Falcon and Dragon have cost a fraction of that, and going into the future will cost far less per flight, too.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="1120" /><figcaption><p>The SpaceX Demo-2 astronauts (Bob Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley, right) in front of their Crew Dragon capsule. Credit: <a href="" target="_blank">NASA</a></p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>I've thought about this gap in American human spaceflight, mostly in terms of history. <s>After the Skylab 4 mission, which splashed down on 8 February, 1974, it was little over seven years before the US launched people again on the first Space Shuttle flight</s>. <em>[Correction (27 May, 2020 at 15:00 UTC): Skylab 4 was <strong>not</strong> the last crewed American mission; the Apollo-Soyuz mission was, which launched on 15 July 1975. My apologies for the error, and </em><a href="" target="_blank"><em>my thanks to Stefan Barensky for pointing it out</em></a><em>.]</em> At the time that seemed interminable… but who recalls it now? The Shuttle flight was itself historic, of course, but four decades later that gap is more of a footnote in spaceflight history.</p> <p>The first flight of a crewed Dragon is historic as well. But I wonder if, in a few decades time, the gap will seem more incidental than influential. A political failing that slowed but did not stop the urge to explore space.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="867" /><figcaption><p>The Sun rises on the Crew Dragon atop a Falcon 9 in the shortly before the Demo-2 launch, returning American astronauts to space from American soil. Credit: <a href="" target="_blank">SpaceX</a></p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Mind you, the next flight of the Dragon with astronauts on board, called <a href="" target="_blank">the Crew-1 mission</a>, is scheduled for <strong>30 August</strong>. That's just three months from now. Clearly NASA is confident about this demo flight, but it also shows that flights to space may become a lot more common in the near future. Once <a href="" target="_blank">Boeing's Starliner</a> starts flying as well we'll see what the future of crewed spaceflight really is.</p> <p>Oh, and incidentally, that last flight of Atlantis in 2011? The pilot was Doug Hurley. He is literally spanning the gap in US human spaceflight, a single human bridge across the years that brings all of humanity a step closer to being a space-faring species.</p> <p>May they have clear skies and a smooth ride to orbit. <em>Ad astra.</em></p> <hr /><p><em>You can watch the launch live at these streams:</em></p> <ul><li><em><a href="" target="_blank">NASA TV</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="" target="_blank">SpaceX</a> </em></li> <li><em><a href="" target="_blank">PBS</a></em></li> <li><em>The Discovery and Science Channels will also be covering it live.</em></li> </ul> Bad Astronomy Falcon 9 International Space Station NASA Spaceflight SpaceX Science Features Bad Astronomy syfywire-post-211433 Wed, 27 May 2020 09:00:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Phil Plait Dystopia, revolution, and the team is trapped on TV in the penultimate Legends of Tomorrow <p>It’s not uncommon to say <em>Legends of Tomorrow</em> went to some weird places this week — it’s easily the most bizarre superhero show to ever hit the genre — but this latest episode might just be the wildest, and best, of the series’ run.</p> <p><strong><em>Spoilers ahead for “The One Where We’re Trapped on TV,” the latest episode of The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow, which aired May 26, 2020.</em></strong></p> <p>It’s somewhat rare that one episode can so fully encapsulate the heart of what makes a series tick, but that’s what we got in this week’s <em>Legends</em>. This is a show about misfits fighting long odds, and we got that in heart-on-your-sleeve spades this week. After Charlie cut a deal with her sisters to use the Loom of Fate with them, we wake up to a very different world that’s been fully rewritten by the Fates. It’s basically a 1984-esque dystopia, with the Fates watching all, squashing any whiff of rebellion from the history books, and making the masses eat varying colored versions of mush.</p> <p>We get to see this dreary world through the lens of our old friend Mona, who spends her days toiling away at the Historical Sanitation Office, rewriting history books. She runs across Gary (who is now a crazy man screaming on the street corner, which is about as On Brand as you could get) and they start to realize something is amiss on TV…</p> <p>As for the Legends, they’ve been banished to the realm of television, written into the Fates’ streaming service that functions to comfortably brainwash the populace into submission. Nate, Behrad and Zari are in a Friends knockoff; Sara, Ava and Rory are in a Star Trek riff; Constantine and Astra are in the poor man’s Downton Abbey; and then the whole gang gets dropped into a twisted version of Mr. Parker’s Cul-de-sac along the way. This is a show that’s never shied away from riffing on the meta things that make TV tick, and this was probably the most deft and earnest take yet.</p> <p>In a surprise return, it’s the OG version of Zari who manages to break through the TV character brainwashing, jumping into her old body when she realizes something is wrong. She then leads the mission to reassemble the Legends, even if they’re still hilariously confused and playing out their assigned TV trope roles. Constantine is a butler trying to bury his temptation to the dark arts; Nate and Behrad are silly dude bros (okay, not a stretch there), while Sara and Ava are co-captains of a star ship who always win the day (and Caity Lotz gets to show off her Shatner-esque delivery to great aplomb).</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1200" height="800" /><figcaption><p>The CW</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>After reuniting and having their memories restored due to a timely rewrite from Mona on Mr. Parker’s Cul-de-sac, the Legends are once again tossed back to their respective shows, as Charlie tries to lock them back down for what she sees as their own protection in this new world. And oh man, those sing-along tunes will haunt your dreams for days.</p> <p>There are plenty of laughs as the Legends bounce from show to show reassembling the team, but the heart comes in the moments in-between. Matt Ryan will positively rip your heart out, as Constantine bears out that Astra really is his original sin, and if she wants to stay in this TV show world with whatever version of her mother exists there, he’ll happily do it if it will make some tiny amount of amends for ruining Astra’s life. After everything we’ve seen Constantine go through, it’s an earned moment and a raw one. </p> <p>As for Sara and Ava, once their memories are restored Ava worries that escaping the show would mean Sara being dead once more. But, a fake life together is no life at all — the living is in the risk, the unknown, so they allow Rory’s hilariously hair Khan-ilte to blow up their ship and “cancel” their show. Astra comes to a similar conclusion after getting a chance to talk with this version of her mother, and realizes she’s not the real thing — though she does get some closure to at least be able to talk with her in the first place.</p> <p>OG Zari takes charge of her TV pulpit to foment a full-fledged uprising for the masses. Even better? Charlie uses her newly-restored Fate powers to split Zari’s thread — meaning both versions of Zari are now living, breathing and walking around. Yeah, things are probably gonna get a bit weird for Constantine and Nate. But hey, it’s great to see both versions of this character get a chance to shine. Because they’ve both earned their place on the Waverider.</p> <p>By episode's end, the Legends get all their shows “cancelled” (though thankfully, <em>Legends</em> itself is already renewed for next year) and walk back into the real world, even if it is now a dystopia. Long odds or not, the Legends are ready to take back reality.</p> <p><strong>Next week</strong>: The season comes to an end with an all out battle with the Fates. It’s gonna be a wile ride. Hopefully all the Legends, two Zaris and all, make it through alive.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p> </p> DC's Legends of Tomorrow The CW TV Recaps TV Features syfywire-post-211442 Tue, 26 May 2020 23:47:14 -0400 SYFY WIRE Trent Moore Star Trek: Voyager cast reunion discovers Kate Mulgrew would redo the first season if she could <p>It took Captain Janeway and crew seven years to get out of the Delta Quadrant — and a quarter century more to share their adventures online.</p> <p>The cast of <a href=""><em>Star Trek: Voyager</em></a> reunited on a <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Stars In The House</em> livestream</a> Tuesday night to celebrate the fourth <em>Star Trek</em> series' <a href="">25th anniversary</a> as well as help raise money for <a href="" target="_blank">The Actors Fund</a> to assist those in the entertainment industry left unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic.</p> <p><a href="">Kate Mulgrew</a> (Captain Kathryn Janeway), Garrett Wang (Starfleet Officer Harry Kim), Roxann Dawson (Chief Engineer B'Elanna Torres), and Robert "Robbie" Duncan McNeil (Helmsman Tom Paris) zoomed in to answer the first round of questions from SiriusXM hosts Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley, as well as Netizens beaming in from around the globe.</p> <p>Joining the conversation a little later were <a href="">Robert Picardo</a> (The Doctor), Robert Beltran (First Officer Chakotay), <a href="">Jeri Ryan</a> (Seven of Nine), and Ethan Phillips (erstwhile cook turned Ambassador Neelix).</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>The <em>Voyager</em> alums traded old stories, cracked jokes, and caught fans up on how they view the iconic show, which ended its seventh season run on UPN way back in 2001.</p> <p>Here's a roundup of some of the biggest revelations, including what Mulgrew would do over again if she had the chance!</p> <p>When asked by a fan in Australia what it was like to be the first female captain in the <em>Star Trek</em> universe, Mulgrew compared it being "shot out of a cannon" — especially since she came in as a last minute replacement when Geneviève Bujold, the actress originally hired to play Janeway, quit on the second day of shooting the pilot (apparently she wasn't accustomed to the <a href="" target="_blank">pressures of working on a weekly TV series</a>).</p> <p>"It was terrific. It was overwhelming," said Mulgrew, now 65. "I was not the first choice [for the role]. Geneviève Bujold had it for two seconds. I had about four days to collect myself and then I started Monday morning. It was a formidable undertaking but once I got my sea legs it was great."</p> <p>Added McNeil: "There was a lot of uncertainty when Geneviève left…and the moment you said the first line on the bridge, personally I said this show is gonna work. We were gonna make it."</p> <p>Quizzed about what they liked least about their characters, some of the cast members noted the challenges posed by the uniforms (Garrett: "It pulled in all the wrong places") and long hours getting into and out of makeup (Dawson: "the makeup… was 2 ½ hours to put on and 45 minutes" to take off). Others noted the difficulty of portraying a character sans emotion — like Picardo's Chief Medical Officer (Picardo: "at first he was a blank slate").</p> <p>For her part though, Mulgrew spoke candidly about the toll <em>Voyager</em>'s production took on her home life, since the long hours kept her away from her two young children.</p> <p>"I think the most favorite is obvious because I was the captain and what could be more gratifying than that? Not much," she said. "But my least favorite was the conflict that I still say today that exists for all women in a leading role who are raising children by themselves. That was a very difficult conflict… but it was ongoing for seven years because those were their formative years. They were 10 and 11… and to this day they have not seen [<em>Voyager</em>]. Kids are tough. They want their mother… and they did not understand it, especially with two boys."</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>When not going out of their way to praise each other, the show's inclusiveness, or their fans, the cast couldn't resist poking fun at each other. They also revisited old jokes — like the irony of the Doctor finally getting a proper name, "Joe," in the series finale.</p> <p>"I think the joke over the seven years was that once my character was given the freedom to select his name, he couldn't make up his mind," said Picardo. "The fact that they gave me Joe was a personal joke to me cause every male in my family was named Joe. Joe is the most popular name in my family. So it tickled me."</p> <p>When asked about revisiting Seven of Nine in CBS All Access' <em>Picard</em>, Ryan waxed poetic about her character's "resiliency and guts" and how "she's trying and struggling... she's just awesome."</p> <p>When Mulgrew wondered out loud about the future of the new <em>Star Trek</em> spinoff, Ryan also revealed that Season 2, which CBS already greenlit, was scheduled to start shooting in the middle of June, but due to the coronavirus, has been temporarily postponed.</p> <p>"They're hoping we can start shooting in the fall," she said.</p> <p>Towards the end of the Q&A, Mulgrew dropped perhaps the biggest bombshell about her taking on Janeway: what the stage and screen veteran would do over again, given how quickly she had to take on the role in the first place.</p> <p>Mulgrew: "A lot… I would certainly go back and redo the first season and endow that language which was diabolical with real meaning… those were terribly long days and I didn't know what I was doing. Had I had the guts to endow her more completely with knowledge of what she was saying, I would have felt steadier on my feet."</p> <p>As for this being a pandemic, when asked how to avoid COVID-19, Mulgrew suggested doing what any good Starfleet officer would do: stick to the science.</p> <p>"I would certainly abide by what science dictates to the letter. That would be wearing the mask at all times, wearing the gloves at all times, keep social distancing at six feet, and stay in at all times as much as you can," the thesp said.  </p> <p>Now that's the way to live long and prosper.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Kate Mulgrew reunions Star Trek Star Trek: Voyager TV News syfywire-post-211441 Tue, 26 May 2020 23:10:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Grossberg Unearthed footage of Steven Spielberg’s unfinished alien road-trip game 'LMNO' looks ahead of its time <p>One of the most intriguing casualties lost in the void of missed video game opportunities is a never-released exploration game from the mid-2000s from <a href="">Steven Spielberg</a>. Codenamed “LMNO,” the game was meant to feature a friendly Earthbound alien sidekick — one with special powers she'd use to help out on a cross-country road trip.</p> <p>As fans may have known from previous reports and leaked footage over the years, “LMNO” never finished development, and never got far along enough to even have a proper title. But thanks to a new documentary about the history of <a href="">Arkane Studios</a>, one of the developers originally tasked with making the game, an extended new look at previously-unseen gameplay reveals a high degree of polish for a project that never saw the light of day — as well as some ambitious ideas, some from <a href="">Spielberg</a> himself, that other games at the time were just starting to incorporate.</p> <p>Arkane eventually would go on to develop big-name games for Bethesda like <a href=""><em>Prey</em></a> and <em><a href="">Dishonored</a>, </em>and the documentary even devotes an interesting segment to the studio's involvement in a never-made <em>Half-Life</em> sequel. But it's especially interesting to watch Arkane's developers walk crowdfunded documentary maker <a href="" target="_blank">Noclip</a> through some cool new "LMNO" footage, starting around the 22:20 mark in the clip below.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe><figcaption><p>Noclip on YouTube</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Arkane’s Sebastien Mitton says that “LMNO” would have followed a plot that Spielberg had created, one apparently intended for a double treatment on the big screen. “It was Spielberg’s story,” Mitton explains:</p> <p>“He had a script, and he wanted to make a movie and a game. … So the story is, I can’t remember the name of the player character, but he’s charged with getting someone out of prison, and it turns out this person [the prisoner] is an alien. She is held in a kind of FBI lab, ‘X-CAP’ I think it was called. So we manage to get her out of the prison, and we travel with her like on a road trip, very Spielberg-like, from the East Coast to the West Coast.”</p> <p>Though Eve (that’s the alien) was a non-playable AI character who accompanied the main protagonist, her parkour style of running and jumping to reach inaccessible places was meant to be a big feature in the game — as was first-person combat that didn’t involve shooting firearms, something the filmmakers point out Spielberg required. At the truck stop-based level that Arkane developed, Eve definitely shows off her own unique set of moves, bending and twisting her way up walls and onto rooftops the way only an alien could.</p> <p>Hand-to-hand combat in first person was still rough around the edges at the time too, as anyone who spent time with the lurchy sword swinging in even a AAA title like <em>Oblivion</em> (2006) can attest. But the early build shown in the clip shows Arkane was well on its way to getting the feel of fighting just right, while highlighting an engaging game environment that doesn’t lack for beauty or detail. Eve, whose communication powers are limited by the fact that she's... well, an alien, has her forehead light up when certain things pique her interest, and her facial animations even look ready for prime time — especially considering the game was never finished (just check out her “ugh!” reaction when she intrepidly tries to chug a bottle of mayonnaise).</p> <p>Spielberg’s gaming partnership with publisher EA ended up yielding only one released title (<em>Boom Blox</em>, which hit the Nintendo Wii in 2008). But thanks to this newly-revealed footage, at least we finally have a more complete idea of the Area 51-style road trip the iconic director wanted to take us on. And who knows? Maybe Spielberg’s mysterious Americana story might one day find new life somewhere down the road. After all, <a href="">stranger things</a> have happened.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Steven Spielberg Games News syfywire-post-211440 Tue, 26 May 2020 22:15:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Benjamin Bullard Why Christopher Nolan blew up a real 747 for one of Tenet’s biggest action scenes <p>To pump up the action for his upcoming time-bending thriller <a href=""><em>Tenet</em></a>, director Christopher Nolan already had presided over the explosions of dishes, windows, a small fleet of cars, and — judging from the <a href="">latest trailer</a> — even an entire symphony orchestra. So when it came time to film a sequence involving the hair-raising destruction of a passenger plane, he was faced with a choice: Go the special effects route and let CGI computers work their magic, or find an actual airplane and let the practical effects team wreak havoc.</p> <p>Not one to ignore the impact of footage that only a real-world shot can capture (just ask James Cameron, who <a href="" target="_blank">blew up</a> an obsolete bridge over the open water of the Florida Keys for <em>True Lies</em>), Nolan of course went with option B. In a new interview with <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Total Film</em></a>, he explained, it just made more sense — and, amazingly, cost less money — to buy a full-scale 747 and give it the starring role in one of <em>Tenet</em>’s many explosive shots.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe><figcaption><p>Warner Bros. Pictures on YouTube</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>“I planned to do it using miniatures and set-piece builds and a combination of visual effects and all the rest,” he said, explaining that the production team ended up stumbling across a field of retired planes while scouting locations in California. “We started to run the numbers... It became apparent that it would actually be more efficient to buy a real plane of the real size, and perform this sequence for real in camera, rather than build miniatures or go the CG route.”</p> <p>The audacity of plowing a real jumbo jet straight into a hangar (as seen at the end of the above trailer) mystified <em>Tenet</em> co-star Robert Pattinson, who told <em>TF</em> that a stunt that rare and ambitious — in a <a href="">Nolan movie</a> where ambition is par for the course — rises to new levels of “ridiculousness.”</p> <p>“You wouldn’t have thought there was any reality where you would be doing a scene where they just have an actual 747 to blow up!” said Pattinson. “It’s so bold to the point of ridiculousness... I remember, as we were shooting it, I was thinking, ‘How many more times is this even going to be happening in a film at all?’”</p> <p>We definitely don’t have an answer, but apparently retired planes are still relatively plentiful and cheap — so long as you’re working with a blockbuster budget. Nolan described his plane purchase as "a kind of impulse buying," and said the real props for pulling off the visual spectacle go to special effects supervisor, Scott Fisher, and production designer, Nathan Crowley.</p> <p><em>Tenet</em>’s still secretive plot revolves around the eponymous trigger word’s role in tapping the power of “inversion,” a <a href="">phenomenon</a> that isn’t exactly time travel but appears to allow star <a href="">John David Washington</a> (whose character name hasn’t been revealed either) to walk through (and perhaps reverse) future events. As <a href="">one of the first</a> box office tentpoles timed to arrive in theaters tentatively reopening from the coronavirus pandemic, Warner Bros.’ <em>Tenet</em> is supposed to crash onto big screens July 17 — though that release date has been removed from the latest trailer. Sadly, we can't see into the future like a Nolan character, so we'll be on the lookout for any news if the studio ends up adjusting <em>Tenet</em>'s timeline.  </p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Christopher Nolan stunts Tenet Movies News syfywire-post-211436 Tue, 26 May 2020 21:45:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Benjamin Bullard WIRE Buzz: Doug Liman directing Tom Cruise in actual space; Doctor Whos unite; Fraggle Rock series <p>New details launched today on that movie that <a href="">Tom Cruise</a> is planning to <a href="">actually shoot in outer space</a>.</p> <p>Per a report from <a href="" target="_blank">Deadline</a>, which first broke the news, <a href="">Doug Liman</a> (<em>The Bourne Identity, Jumper</em>) is attached to direct the action-adventure film that his <em>American Made </em>star is working on with Elon Musk’s <a href="">Space X</a> and <a href="">NASA</a>.</p> <p>Although details on the film’s story and title are still under wraps, NASA confirmed earlier this month that Cruise was in discussions with Musk's SpaceX about teaming up with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to shoot the first narrative feature film in outer space. The project is set to be filmed on the International Space Station.</p> <p>And seriously, what more do you need to know for now? The star of the <a href=""><em>Mission: Impossible</em></a> films and the director of one of his best sci-fi forays, <em>Edge of Tomorrow</em> (which Cruise and Liman are still presumably <a href="" target="_blank">making a sequel to</a>), are making the first narrative feature in space! Who cares what its working title is? Eat your hearts out, Stanley Kubrick, James Cameron, and George Lucas!</p> <p>Anyway, Liman has apparently been a part of this project since its inception (oh, yeah, that reminds us: Take that, Christopher Nolan!) is writing the first draft of the screenplay and producing the film with Cruise.</p> <hr /><p>Grab your Jelly Babies and allonz-y! <a href="">Tom Baker</a> and <a href="">David Tennant</a> are both starring in a new <a href=""><em>Doctor Who</em></a> audio drama from <a href="">Big Finish</a>, kicking off a trilogy of stories that each feature a different pair of Doctors teaming up to battle a familiar enemy. Beginning this August, the first volume of <em>Doctor Who: Out of Time</em> will see the Fourth Doctor (Baker) and the Tenth Doctor (Tennant) teaming up to outwit the Daleks (Nicholas Briggs).</p> <p>The Cathedral of Contemplation exists outside time. It opens its doors across the universe to offer solace to those in need. Occasionally, the Doctor drops in when he needs a break from saving all of time and space to get some perspective. The thing is, he's already there several lives earlier, so when dimension barriers break down, his past and present collide. And when the Daleks invade and commandeer the Cathedral, the two Doctors must unite to stop them…or face extermination twice over.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="600" height="600" /><figcaption><p>Big Finish</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>“Tom Baker was obviously the first Doctor that I knew,” said Tennant in a statement. “I was small when he took over and I grew up through the seven years that he was the Doctor. I was a massive fan. I met him in John Menzies in Glasgow and he signed my book. I had a doll of him. All that. Tom Baker was very much the Doctor. There is something about the way he is associated with the character that seems utterly timeless.”</p> <p>“Of course, it was hugely exciting — with a certain amount of pressure too — to bring together two of the most iconic Doctors, cemented in the public imagination from new and classic TV eras of Doctor Who,” writer Matt Fitton added. “I thought putting them up against the Daleks — the Doctor's most persistent enemy — would bring out all the ways in which they are at once the same Time Lord — and also very different versions too.”</p> <p>No word yet on who will star in the next two entries in the trilogy. Only time will tell.</p> <p>Set for release in August, <em>Doctor Who: Out of Time</em> is now available to <a href="" target="_blank">pre-order</a>.</p> <hr /><p>Get ready to go down to <a href=""><em>Fraggle Rock</em></a> again.</p> <p>Thirty-six years since the Doozers and company bulldozed their way into viewers' hearts, <a href="" target="_blank">Deadline</a> reports that Apple is teaming with The Jim Henson Company for a new take on the late Muppet master’s Emmy-winning kids series, which first aired on HBO back in the ‘80s.</p> <p>Per the trade, the rebooted version will continue to follow the adventures of original cave dwellers Gobo, Red, Boober, Mokey, Wembley, and Uncle Traveling Matt, and feature brand new songs and the same welcoming vibe of the original.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>The new Fraggle Rock will be produced by The Jim Henson Company along with New Regency.</p> <p>A premiere date has yet to be announced, but the show will stream on Apple TV+ as part of its lineup for kids and families, which already includes recent addition <em><a href="">Fraggle Rock: Rock On!</a> </em>shorts, Sesame Workshop’s Parents Choice Award-winning <em>Helpsters,</em> and Annie Award-winning <em>Snoopy in Space</em> from Peanuts.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Big Finish David Tennant Doctor Who Doug Liman Fraggle Rock tom baker Tom Cruise Movies TV News syfywire-post-211437 Tue, 26 May 2020 20:45:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE James Comtois The labyrinthine journey to a Labyrinth sequel: Everything you need to know <p>With today's news that director <a href="" target="_blank">Scott Derrickson</a> (<em>Doctor Strange</em>) and writer Maggie Levin (<em>Into the Dark</em>’s “My Valentine”) will be making a <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Labyrinth </em>sequel</a> for TriStar Pictures, fans of <a href="" target="_blank">Jim Henson’s original</a> have to be more excited than David Bowie’s Goblin King doing the "Magic Dance." But the road to the greenlight has been long and arduous for the project, so we at SYFY WIRE will attempt to play Hoggle and guide you through the labyrinthine journey to a <em>Labyrinth </em>sequel.</p> <p>First off, just be thankful there aren’t two versions of this article — one that only lies and one that only tells the truth — because even in the back-and-forth of Hollywood development, the <em>Labyrinth </em>sequel’s path isn’t too hard to follow if you stick to the facts. The original 1986 film was very much secluded to a loyal but small cult upon release, recouping only about half its budget. So it’s no wonder TriStar and The Jim Henson Company didn’t publicly get anything in motion for a sequel until 2014.</p> <p>That’s when screenwriter Nicole Perlman (<em>Guardians of the Galaxy</em>, <em>Captain Marvel</em>) started talking about work on a sequel — NOT a reboot:</p> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">news sadly broke</a> about 10 days after star David Bowie’s death in January of 2016, so the excitement was overshadowed by the mourning of fans everywhere. Bad timing.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">More than a year later</a>, in April 2017, and that development/writing process resulted in the attachment of director Fede Alvarez (<em>Don't Breathe</em>). Alvarez’s collaborator, writer Jay Basu (the pair worked together on <em>The Girl in the Spider's Web</em>), also boarded the project.</p> <p>“Labyrinth is one of the seminal movies from my childhood that made me fall in love with filmmaking," said Alvarez at the time. "I couldn’t be more thrilled to expand on Jim Henson’s mesmerizing universe, and take a new generation of moviegoers back into the <em>Labyrinth</em>.”</p> <p>His plans were to apparently return to the titular maze, filled with puppets and pubescent metaphor, as a continuation to the first film. In fact, around this time, there were even <a href="" target="_blank">talks of making a <em>Labyrinth </em>musical</a>, which was just one of the <a href="" target="_blank">various new media formats</a> the franchise was exploring. Jim's son, Brian Henson said that alongside the sequel, "We are working on a theatrical adaptation of the original movie for the stage. Those are the two areas of excitement for the <em>Labyrinth </em>property that we have."</p> <p>The planned musical kind of disappeared, but Alvarez's version of the sequel as far as having a completed draft of the screenplay. “It is basically a direct continuation of the first movie many years later, and I can't tell you much more about it,” Alvarez said in October 2018, after <a href="" target="_blank">ANOTHER year and change had passed</a>, “but we have a script, and we're very excited about it so we'll see where that goes.”</p> <p>Alas, that long-developing, slow-burn process didn’t result in the in-demand Alvarez staying with the project. He <a href="" target="_blank">officially stepped down</a> in April of 2020.</p> <p>“It’s so hard to decide what’s worth your time. And what’s worth the attention of the audience. <em>Labyrinth </em>was something I was going to do at some point, but then I stepped down,” Alvarez told Bloody Disgusting’s <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Boo Crew</em> Podcast</a>. “I just felt…when people have a preconceived notion of what something should be, it’s very hard to succeed — to surprise them. They’re just expecting the same thing again. So I just decided I didn’t want to do things as a director that people knew already what it was. Or have a preconceived notion of how it should look on the screen. So <em>Labyrinth </em>would be something that people would judge that way, so I decided not to do it.”</p> <p>Now, just a month later, Henson/TriStar have found their new creative team. Will they bend more pleasingly to this “preconceived notion” that drove Alvarez away? <em>Doctor Strange</em> director Derrickson survived one bout with the MCU (though <a href="">not a potential second</a>), so his track record has at least one mark in that fan-service direction.</p> <p>As for the coming sequel in its current form? The only other detail currently known is that Henson's children, Lisa and Brian, are executive producing alongside Derrickson and his frequent cohort C. Robert Cargill. And so the labyrinthine journey moves onward.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Fede Alvarez labyrinth Maggie Levin Nicole Perlman Scott Derrickson The Jim Henson Company Movies News syfywire-post-211434 Tue, 26 May 2020 19:55:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jacob Oller Very Important Binge: Agent Carter <p>Welcome to <a href="">Very Important Binge (VIB)</a>, where SYFY FANGRRLS tells you how to navigate your favorite TV shows.</p> <p>After Captain America's apparent death, Agent Peggy Carter didn't spend much time in mourning before she went right back to her work as a secret agent, busting heads and taking names. The <em>Agent Carter </em>TV series picked up right where <em>Captain America: The First Avenger </em>left off, with Hayley Atwell returning in the role as Carter.</p> <p><em>Agent Carter</em> is definitely a series that left this earth too soon. Only 18 episodes of the series exist, meaning you can definitely watch the whole hecking thing in one particularly industrious TV-binging day if you really wanted to. In fact, we recommend that. Watching 18 episodes of Agent Carter all in a row is about all we need to know of Heaven, so definitely go do that right now if it sounds at all appealing to you. If you aren't totally ready to jump all the way in, or if you just want to reminisce with us about our favorite episodes, we've pulled together some of Agent Carter's greatest hits.</p> Agent Carter Fangrrls Hayley Atwell lists Very Important Binge TV syfywire-post-211057 Tue, 26 May 2020 18:00:01 -0400 SYFY WIRE Sara Century Splash stars Tom Hanks & Daryl Hannah dive into charity reunion (and talk tail tales) <p>It's sometimes tough to find bright spots amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but one of them has undoubtedly been watching beloved entertainers find new ways to amuse and delight us from afar, often while raising money for a good cause. <em>Frozen</em> and <em>Beauty and the Beast</em> star Josh Gad, for example, has done his part through <em>Reunited Apart</em>, a web series built around gathering the people behind classic films for a little bit of virtual discussion. After thrilling the internet with reunions for <em>The Goonies</em> and <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Back to the Future</em></a>, this week Gad decided it was time to make a splash with ... <a href="" target="_blank">well, <em>Splash</em></a>. </p> <p>After posting a teaser video in which he demanded Ron Howard — who directed the classic fantasy rom-com back in 1984 — deliver Tom Hanks to viewers, both Gad and Howard made good on their tease Tuesday when they convened for a chat that included Hanks himself, as well as costars Daryl Hannah and Eugene Levy, co-writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, and producer Brian Grazer. The chat doubled as a <a href="" target="_blank">fundraiser for DIGDEEP,</a> a nonprofit working to provide water and sanitation access to more than two million Americans who still don't have those utilities.</p> <p>In discussing how the film came to be, Howard immediately recalled the days of trying to convince Disney that the movie was worth doing even as another mermaid film starring no less a movie star than Warren Beatty was in development (it was never released), making the studio skittish. </p> <p>"I said, 'All right, look. I'm 27 years old. [Director] Herbert Ross is in his 60s. He doesn't have to work as hard as me. Warren Beatty is not going to hustle. I will live at this studio," Howard promised. "'I will not leave the lot until the movie is out before theirs. If it happens to be a horse race, they cannot win it.' They sort of bought that."</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>When it came to casting, the film was a notable breakout for Hanks, then best-known for his television series <em>Bosom Buddies</em>, and while Hannah was already an established film actress at that point (she starred in <em>Blade Runner</em> just two years before), it turned out they were both nervous about the romantic elements of the film. </p> <p>"I was terrified because I was still, even though I was like 21 or 22, I still really hadn't had a boyfriend," Hannah said. "I was terrified about the kiss."</p> <p>Though Howard recalled Hanks' professionalism during the process of testing for screen chemistry with Hannah, the director also noted that the now-two-time-Oscar winner was convinced he'd lose his job by blowing his first moments with the actress. </p> <p>"Tom is always cool as a cucumber, coolest customer you could possibly imagine. So he doesn't <em>look</em> terrified, but he says, 'I'm sick with fear, because I think I'm going to lose this job doing this [chemistry test],'" Howard recalled. "And I said, 'You'll never be onscreen! I'm just going to shoot over your shoulder' or something.</p> <p>"Tom did it, dutifully," he continued. "Daryl rocked the test, it was all great."</p> <p>For more stories from the making of <em>Splash</em>, including a special guest paying tribute to the late John Candy, check out the video above.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Daryl Hannah Josh Gad Ron Howard splash Tom Hanks Movies News syfywire-post-211430 Tue, 26 May 2020 17:42:41 -0400 SYFY WIRE Matthew Jackson WIRE Buzz: Star Wars: The High Republic delayed; NOS4A2 S2 trailer; Bourne films not dead <p>The worlds of movies and TV aren’t the only ones in entertainment affected by the pandemic’s lockdown. Publishing and all the geeky books it brings to fans is suffering from similar delays and hiccups, especially from large institutions with massive IP. That reality struck today when Lucasfilm announced that its planned <a href="" target="_blank">Star Wars: The High Republic</a> launch had been delayed.</p> <p>The High Republic, <a href="" target="_blank">AKA Project Luminous</a>, plans to tell tons of stories 200 years before the Skywalker saga of the films all featuring a time when the Jedi were strong and there was, effectively, a "Jedi Knights of the Round Table" situation. This was all set to begin in August, timed to Anaheim’s <em>Star Wars</em> Celebration. Cut to present day, quarantine in effect. </p> <p>Posting on the official <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Star Wars</em> site</a>, Lucasfilm Publishing creative director Michael Siglain explained what was going on with the planned “massive, interconnected, cross-publisher” book initiative. </p> <p>“I know that waiting isn’t easy. And I know fans have been excited for this since it was first announced,” Siglain said in a statement. “And while I still can’t say much about it, I can tell you that our story architects — Claudia Gray, Justina Ireland, Daniel José Older, Cavan Scott, and Charles Soule — are continuing to work away on this new era of stories.”</p> <p>The launch in its entirety is getting pushed to January 2021, starting with Charles Soule’s adult novel <em>Star Wars: The High Republic: Light of the Jedi </em>and Justina Ireland’s middle grade novel <em>Star Wars: The High Republic: A Test of Courage</em>. Those two hit stores on Jan. 5 while Claudia Gray’s YA story <em>Star Wars: The High Republic: Into the Dark</em> will publish Feb. 2. Others, like Marvel’s <em>Star Wars: The High Republic</em> series and IDW Publishing’s <em>Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures</em> series, will get new dates in the near future.</p> <hr /><p>Next, the <a href="" target="_blank">second footage</a> from the second season of AMC’s <em><a href="" target="_blank">NOS4A2</a> </em>is giving some gruesome details to the revival of the vampiric Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto). The official trailer shows off the new life of Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings), who’s got a young son, a lover, and a past she hopes to put behind her. But the “death” of Manx certainly doesn’t make her intense, paranormally-infested life any less crazy.</p> <p>The sophomore entry into showrunner Jami O’Brien’s TV adaptation of <a href="" target="_blank">Joe Hill</a>’s 2013 novel picks up after the book’s time hop — eight years after season one — and sets Vic up against a timeless baddie who’s kidnapped her son and is heading to Christmasland.</p> <p>Take a look:</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>Morgue murders, gas attacks, biker romance, and one very spooky wintery wonderland await fans of the otherworldly horror series. Oh, and magic Scrabble tiles. Never disobey the magic Scrabble tiles.</p> <p>Jahkara Smith, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Virginia Kull, Jonathan Langdon, Ashley Romans, Jason David, and Mattea Conforti co-star in the second season when NOS4A2 rides again on June 21.</p> <hr /><p>Finally, one of the creative <a href="" target="_blank">voices behind the next <em>Indiana Jones</em></a> and the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Bourne </em>franchise</a> has weighed in on the latter’s film future. The super-spy series last left its movie run with Matt Damon’s decade-spanning performances in <em>The Bourne Identity</em>, <em>The Bourne Supremacy</em>, <em>The Bourne Ultimatum</em>, and <em>Jason Bourne</em>. But that doesn’t mean that the CIAmnesia action is over.</p> <p>Speaking to <a href="" target="_blank">Collider</a>, series producer Frank Marshall explained that the hunt was on to find a proper cinematic voice to bring Bourne back to the big screen. “I do like the <em>Bourne </em>series, and I do think that’s an opportunity for different filmmakers to come in now,” said Marshall. “So, I’m hoping that we can find a new story for <em>Bourne </em>and a new filmmaker. We are looking.”</p> <p>The fourth film in the series,<em> The Bourne Legacy</em>, already proved that a Damon-less version of the films work, focusing its story on Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner). But with the hunt for a new filmmaker, fans of the secret-filled series shouldn’t expect helmers  Doug Liman, Paul Greengrass, or Tony Gilroy to return.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Bourne Jason Bourne NOS4A2 Star Wars: The High Republic Trailers Movies TV News syfywire-post-211432 Tue, 26 May 2020 17:02:04 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jacob Oller The Invisible Man's star and director explain the art of beating yourself up <p><em><a href="" target="_blank">The Invisible Man</a> </em>was always going to be made or broken by the central power of its antagonist. <a href="" target="_blank">Filmmaker Leigh Whannell</a> set the villainous Universal Monster — updated to an abusive optics mogul with a high-tech suit rather than actual invisible skin — into a film filled with negative spaces, suggestions, and anticipation. The resulting scares made the film, coming to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on May 26, a hit at the box office and a critical darling. But it took a lot of work to sell the <a href="" target="_blank">film's invisible villain</a> (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) to its audience.</p> <p>As the star and protagonist, <a href="">Elisabeth Moss</a> certainly played a huge part in that, as her incredible performance as an increasingly frazzled survivor being gaslit made audiences afraid of her invisible tormentor, too. But actual "invisible" effects — both special and practical — were essential. The invisibility suit itself was a rubbery machination covered in high-tech cameras. Not only was this design scientifically realistic — Whannell's team <a href="" target="_blank">consulted a physics professor at The University of Sydney</a> — it was Whannell's first and only choice.</p> <p>“There weren't many other options," Whannell tells SYFY WIRE. "During the screenwriting process, I researched invisibility and what was available — or, not so much what was available, but what people were working towards. And I came up with this idea for how the suit could potentially work, but by the time we got to Sydney, it was kinda too late to come up with a new design, if I'm being honest. So when we talked to these scientists and they said ‘Yeah, technically this would work if you had A, B, and C — which we don’t have yet but could have in the future,’ I was relieved more than anything.”</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>After lucking out with their next-gen sneak suit concept, Whannell and team then had to lean on their stunt teams, camera operators, and actors to sell the idea that there was an unseen baddie running amok. Aldis Hodge, who plays the heroine's supportive friend James, has a memorable run-in with the titular Universal Monster — and it was right out of an action movie. The action movie Whannell directed right before <em>The Invisible Man</em>, as a matter of fact.</p> <p>"Everything leading up to it was a lot of training with the stunt team," Hodge tells SYFY WIRE. "We were working with the same stunt team that Leigh Whannell had on <em>Upgrade</em>. If you’ve seen <em>Upgrade</em>, then you already know how fantastic their work is and how they shoot things. The rig that they put the camera on is a rig they’ve built that’s special to Leigh and what he’s doing."</p> <p>The team knew what they were in for... Hodge didn't. "When it came to my stuff, they were like 'Well how agile and athletic are you? Because you’re gonna have to beat yourself up,'" the actor remembers. "I wasn’t fighting someone in a green suit — it was me throwing myself around."</p> <p>That meant training, which Hodge was comfortable with ("I grew up a martial artist and I still train today"), that got increasingly advanced. "The first couple of rehearsals, they showed me their idea for it, then put me on the mat," Hodge says. "Then we started going through the choreography, beat by beat, working out things we thought could work, working out things that didn’t work. When they knew how comfortable I was with the athletic element of throwing myself around, they were like 'OK, let’s add this, let’s try this.’”</p> <p>The crew was responsible for preparing Hodge to sell an entire fight on his own. Not only was the role a rare chance for the actor to represent a black single father with no agenda and a heart of gold ("There’re very few times we get to see black men in this particular role with the honesty and the nature of who we are, as men, being reflected," he says) it was a performance that pushed his action skills to the limit.</p> <p>"When it comes to fights on screen, the person who sells the fight is the person who’s getting hit," Hodge says. "If you don’t believe the hit, you don’t believe the damage done — you don’t believe the dynamics. So you have to be really in sync and when you’re working with a partner, there’s a little bit of extra room to lean on. When it comes to working by yourself, it’s just you. If the fight sucks, it’s your fault."</p> <p>That eventual solo effort was the product of plenty of collaboration, which Whannell finds particularly prevalent in his native Australia, where he's shot his last two Blumhouse films.</p> <p>“Australian crews, there is this real attitude of everyone’s helping each other. The unions aren’t as strict in terms of crossover," Whannell says. "I’ve heard that on some American sets, it’s like, ‘No, you’re from the lighting department, you can’t touch anything in there.’ It’s a more strict separation of departments, whereas, in Australia, the grips will come in and help the art department build — we’re all in it together because Australia doesn’t make tentpole movies. We’re not making blockbusters — it’s a smaller population and we’re making smaller budgeted films."</p> <p>That DIY spirit makes these crews "perfectly designed to make Blumhouse movies," Whannell says, which is "probably why Jason [Blum] likes shooting there so much." Now that Whannell's had another secretive film confirmed at Blumhouse (where the filmmaker has a first-look deal), perhaps he'll once again be shooting down under in the near future.</p> <p>The Invisible Man<em> will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD on May 26.</em></p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><em>SYFY and Universal Pictures are properties of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.</em></p> Aldis Hodge Interviews Leigh Whannell the invisible man Movies Features syfywire-post-211402 Tue, 26 May 2020 17:00:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jacob Oller Character actor Richard Herd, known for Star Trek and V, dies at 87 <p>Richard Herd, the veteran character known for his work on <em>Seinfeld</em> and recognizable to genre fans for appearances in the <em>V</em> and<a href="" target="_blank"> </a><em><a href="" target="_blank">Star Trek</a> </em>franchises, died Tuesday at the age of 87 at his home in Los Angeles. Herd's wife, actress Patricia Crowder, informed <a href="" target="_blank">The Hollywood Reporter</a> of her husband's death, which was due to "cancer-related causes."</p> <p>Herd was never a household name, but over the course of nearly five decades of screen acting he became a recognizable face, bringing his commanding presence and versatile talents to dozens of film and TV credits, including classic films and legendary sci-fi franchises. </p> <p>Born in Boston in 1932, Herd credited his mother with sparking an interest in the arts. His first major brush with acting greatness came during an apprenticeship at the Boston Summer Theater, where he had the chance to brush up on his Shakespeare with legendary movie star Claude Rains. </p> <p>"One evening, he heard a group of us rehearsing Shakespeare and offered to come in early each night to work with us," Herd recalled in a 2015 interview. "He taught me you shouldn't just get involved with the language, but look ahead for the intent and direction of the character you are portraying."</p> <p>After a detour into military service during the Korean War, Herd moved to New York to pursue his acting dreams. After laying the foundation of his career in the theater, he made his feature film debut alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1970's <em>Hercules in New York</em>. </p> <p>More roles soon followed. In 1974, the death of actor Richard Long led to Herd being called up to replace him in the now-classic drama <em>All the President's Men</em>, and the rest of the 1970s were quite busy for him. He booked several jobs a year, including roles in <em>The China Syndrome</em>, <em>The Onion Field</em>, <em>F.I.S.T.</em>, <em>Starsky and Hutch</em>, and <em>Ike: The War years</em>. That prolific streak continued in the 1980s, which is also when Herd became a key part of science fiction history. In 1983 he was cast as Supreme Commander John in the miniseries <em>V</em>, a role he later reprised for <em>V: The Final Battle</em> in 1984. Other major roles that decades included <em>T.J. Hooker</em>, <em>Planes, Trains & Autombiles</em>, and more. The came <em>Star Trek</em>. </p> <p>Herd joined the illustrious group of actors who've participated in the <em>Star Trek</em> franchise for the first time in 1993, when he was cast as the Klingon L'Kor for the two-part <em>Star Trek: The Next Generation</em> episode "Birthright." In 1999 he joined the even smaller group of actors who've played more than one character on <em>Trek</em> when he was cast as Admiral Owen Paris in <em>Star Trek: Voyager</em>, a role he eventually reprised for the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Star Trek</em> fan film <em>Renegades</em></a>. He was also a founding member of <a href="" target="_blank">The Enterprise Blues Band</a>, a music group formed by <em>Star Trek</em> actors to perform at fan conventions and other events.</p> <p>Herd's other major genre credits throughout his career included roles in <em>SeaQuest 2032</em>, <em>Buffy the Vampire Slayer</em>, <em>Quantum Leap</em>, <em>Ghost Whisperer</em>, and the voice of Preacher Whitting in <em>Bioshock Infinite</em>. Even if you don't know him for his many sci-fi and fantasy appearances, though, you might recognize him as Mr. Wilhelm from <i>Seinfeld</i>, the role for which he will be perhaps best remembered. </p> <p>In addition to his wife Patricia, Herd is survived by his daughter Erica, his son Rick, and his stepdaughter Alicia.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive audio"> <iframe src="" style="width: 640px; height: 200px; border: 0 none;" width="640" height="200" scrolling="no"></iframe> <audio ><source src="" type="audio/ogg"></audio> <img src=""> </figure></div> obituary Richard Herd Star Trek Star Trek: The Next Generation Star Trek: Voyager V TV News syfywire-post-211429 Tue, 26 May 2020 15:38:33 -0400 SYFY WIRE Matthew Jackson Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Chloe Bennet talks final season's time-hopping, Coulson’s resurrection, and Deke <p>After spending a good bit of time in an aborted future in year five, time travel is nothing new to the world of <a href=""><em>Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D</em>.</a> — and the show’s final season is aiming to put a Marvel-ous spin on some largely unexplored corners of the MCU timeline.</p> <p>Season 7 of the <a href="">long-running Marvel series</a> premieres on Wed., May 27 on ABC. Star Chloe Bennet, who plays Daisy Johnson (aka Quake), chatted with SYFY WIRE about the final season and dropped some hints about what fans can expect when the show returns from its lengthy hiatus. Bennet says the time-hopping of the final season, which kicks off with the team heading to the early 1930s, gave the crew and cast a chance to up their game for the show’s final adventure and try out things they’ve never been able to do before.</p> <p>“For any fan that [has] watched us from Season 1, it’s similar to the Framework in Season 4, where it’s just so exciting to see all the characters in such a different environment,” she explains. “To have the environment change so much and challenge the characters in new and different ways, and challenge those relationships, that was really fun. Every department gets to step up their game, from set design, to hair and makeup, to wardrobe. It’s really such a challenge for all the characters and just such a different environment, and with every decade comes different challenges and that was really fun.”</p> <p>As for how the team deals with the concept of time travel itself — since playing around in the past can have consequences very different from being stuck in a future you want to prevent — Bennet says the season digs into the different interpretations of how time travel works and the implications of making changes, both good and bad.</p> <p>“There’s a lot of debate on the morality of changing things in time, and what happens to the future. We have so many perspectives, whether it’s Coulson with the moral heart of the issue, or the scientific perspective with Fitz and Simmons — what do we prioritize and how do we make sure we make the right changes, but not too many?” she says. “I think it’s a fine line, a balance of what kinds of choices and moves you’re going to make. I think it’s going to go back and forth throughout the whole season of who is okay with it, and who is not, because it’s a big decision.”</p> <p>Though Bennet had one of those trademark Marvel snipers trained on her to prevent her from revealing any specific time periods we’ll visit this season, she did tease they’ll have the feel of some of the show’s most-loved standalone episodes. She also promised plenty of Easter eggs to reward fans who have stuck with the series until the end.</p> <p>“I’m not quite sure which ones I’m allowed to say [laughs], but I will say we definitely stay busy traveling. It’s really fun to see which time period matches different characters, and which ones feel most at home in different time periods. I think the writers definitely had a fun time going down memory lane to different decades that might have a closer spot to their hearts,” she says. “It was just really such a colorful series finale in terms of the season. Throughout the series we’ve had these different bottle episodes that are fan favorites. There have been so many of those kind of ‘one-off’ episodes, and this season there’s a lot more of those specific kinds of palates... The writers go out of their way to make sure there are a lot of hidden treats and special things — whether it's guest stars or moments that nod back to moments we’ve had throughout the series.”</p> <p>Of course, traveling back to the past isn’t all sight-seeing and meeting your idols, since the past wasn’t always a perfect place — especially when it comes to racism and sexism over the years. Bennet promises those societal differences won’t be ignored, adding they do “a really good job of acknowledging it while still keeping that Marvel tone.” Characters like Daisy and Mack get a chance to tackle some of those adversities head-on: “You always wonder ‘what would I do?’ if something happens, and to get to answer those questions in different decades was interesting,” Bennet adds.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="933" /><figcaption><p>Credit: ABC</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>COULSON'S (LATEST) RESURRECTION</strong></p> <p>Bringing Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson back to life has become a staple of the series ever since its debut all those years ago. Coulson <a href="">famously died</a> in the first <em>Avengers</em> film before the series even premiered, and was resurrected with alien tech to lead his team. Then he died at the end of Season 5, only to return via some alien artifacts with no memory. And now he has returned yet again for the show’s final season as a Life Model Decoy, joining up with the team he’s assembled one last time.</p> <p>Once the Coulson LMD was built, as the team was debating whether or not to actually activate him, it was Daisy who pushed the button to fire him up. But why did she do it? Bennet said it was the culmination of a seasons-long journey of the relationship between Coulson and Daisy. She noted the Season 5 finale — which ended with Coulson’s death — found Daisy saying goodbye and having “a hard time letting go” of the closest thing she’s ever had to a father. Then Season 6 found her “coming to terms with the new version of herself without him.” So why bring him back, if she’d reached a point where she was at peace with his absence?</p> <p>“I don’t think she wanted to bring him back for the purpose to have this kind of emotional crutch of support. I think she just simply missed him, and that’s what is kind of sweet about it,” Bennet explains. “I think that sets Season 7 up for a really fun relationship between the two of them. We’ve said our goodbyes, we’ve gone through so much, and now it’s kind of been a really fun excuse for them to just work together and say ‘Let’s just save the world’ and not worry about ourselves.”</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="1050" /><figcaption><p>Credit: ABC</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>CHRONICOMS AND... DAISY/DEKE 'SHIPPERS?</strong></p> <p>From Hydra to supervillains and a wide assortment of aliens in between, the <em>S.H.I.E.L.D</em>. team has faced off with an eclectic assortment of villains throughout the show’s lengthy run. So where do the Chronicoms rank? According to Bennet, “they’re probably our hardest,” since they are super-strong, incredibly smart, and can manipulate time. That said, the change in big bads this year did offer up some welcome changes when it comes to action scenes.</p> <p>“They give us a run for our money. The Chronicoms are up there. But I’ve got to say, it’s a little bit nicer because we don’t have like melting aliens, in terms of actual, practical make-up, but they were fun,” she says. "Those characters, the fighting style as well, was really interesting to work that in from that perspective, too. Because they have a much more robotic fighting style, and obviously fighting against them was different because of how much power they had. It’s kind of fun to have a baddie who is just as powerful as Daisy. So there are some really good fights we will see coming up this season.”</p> <p>Oh, and Bennet’s favorite change with all this time-traveling to fight the Chronicoms? Her Quake super-suit isn’t all that practical in the past, so she got a change in wardrobe that gave her a bit more flexibility for all those kicks and flips: “Fighting in a dress was much easier than fighting in my Quake suit,” she says with a laugh.</p> <p>As for the question of whether or not fans will get any payoff from time-displaced team member Deke’s (Jeff Ward) longtime crush on Daisy, Bennet remained fairly tightlipped — but did acknowledge fans have waited a long time to see if Quake can ever find true love.</p> <p>“I don’t want to give anything away, but I just feel this really strong sibling energy,” she says. “But I wouldn’t knock — everyone wants Daisy to find love and we’ll have to see if that happens this season.”</p> <p>The seventh and final season of <em>Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D</em>. kicks off Wednesday May 27 on ABC with 13 new, time-traveling adventures through the Marvel universe.</p> <p>Who knows, maybe they’ll even run into “<a href="">America’s ass</a>” while they’re out there? Though, you know, we doubt it — but the <em>S.H.I.E.L.D</em>. crew has carved out its own <a href="">little corner of the MCU</a> that’s more than compelling enough without the A-list heroes stopping by to lend a hand, anyway.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Chloe Bennet Interviews Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Exclusive TV Features syfywire-post-211362 Tue, 26 May 2020 15:30:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Trent Moore What's in the attic? How scary movies utilize this space <p>In horror, a locked home can quickly turn from a safe haven into a trap in which killers and ghosts lurk in dark corners. Whether inside a haunted house or a venue penetrated by an outside threat, the attic space is often a source of scares. Unlike every other room in a private residence, the attic is often out of bounds, with a small hatch to access the dusty, dark, and cobweb-filled location. Used for storage, hearing noises from above is a sign that all is not well, and going up to investigate will only lead to more peril.</p> <p>Audiences know full well that nothing good can come of this curiosity. Of course, characters in scary movies aren't going to listen to the various bumps and scratches as a warning to stay out. If they did avoid climbing the pull-down steps, we would be denied such memorable moments from <em>Hereditary</em>, <em>The Exorcist</em>, and the recent <em>Invisible Man</em> adaptation. As we continue our <a href="">horror journey around the home</a>, let's dig into why this location is so scary.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1012" height="1500" /><figcaption><p>Credit: A24</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Scary movies wield metaphors like a weapon, so a haunted loft space is also making a larger statement about the family who must endure terrors from above. In <em>The Exorcist</em>, single mom Chris MacNeil's (Ellen Burstyn) introduction occurs while she's hearing unusual noises for the first time in the Georgetown home she is renting while shooting a movie. The sound causes her to check on her sleeping daughter and she finds an open window, which doesn't seem all that troubling. She thinks the overhead bumps are nothing more than rats, even though she is told the attic space is clean. The following night she hears it again, but this time she makes the very poor decision to investigate alone with only the light of a candle for company.</p> <p>Director William Friedkin delivers the first scary moment from within the home courtesy of some classic tricks that horror aficionados will likely expect but still enjoy. Chris walks into an unseen object (because it is so dark) and is startled, not by a ghost or a killer, but the handyman who has already told her there are no rats. The jump scare was expected, but her candle briefly igniting into a larger flame for no apparent reason is not. The traps lie untouched; rats are not to blame for the unsettling commotion.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="1120" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>The correlation between the open window and the mysterious presence making itself heard indicates <a href="">something has penetrated</a> the so-called protective walls of this home. Not all things heavenly come from above, nor will God necessarily intervene when they do. Demons don't just reside in basements — although they are also a fan of this locale — and the loft provides ample opportunity to turn a family home into a hellscape. Just ask Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) in <em>Sinister</em>.</p> <p>When moving into a new place, exploring all the rooms to see if the previous tenants have left anything behind can turn up treats or unwanted items. When the residence you have moved into was the scene of a horrific crime you are currently researching, a discovery could be a major breakthrough. The attic is where we put things we don't want to throw out or deal with — very much out of sight, out of mind — so when Ellison finds a box containing a projector and several Super 8 reels he thinks he has struck gold. The innocently labeled "home movies" are actually a box of snuff films, including the family that used to reside (and died) in this home. Creepy af, but great research material.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="788" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Summit Entertainment</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>What better place to set up a private screening than the most isolated room in the house? A sloped roof might awkwardly crop the picture, but the missing ghostly children of <em>Sinister</em> don't have to experience the latest in home cinema options. Additionally, this is the perfect location for a creepy movie club run by the Pagan deity Bughuul causing these violent acts. The moral of <em>Sinister</em> is that anything you find in the loft is only going to cause more harm than good. The Graham family from <em>Hereditary</em> would confirm this if they still had their heads (or hadn't spontaneously combusted).</p> <p>This film, which takes storing items you don't want anyone to see to the extreme, inevitably reveals the discovery of the exhumed (and headless) body of Annie's mother decaying in this space. A decades-long plan to conjure Paimon — one the eight kings of Hell — is in its final stages by the cultists that have infiltrated the Graham home. Paimon's symbol is a repeated image throughout the film, but it is at its most disturbing when painted on the attic walls in blood. In one of the most terrifying sequences of Ari Aster's feature directorial debut, Peter (Alex Wolff) seeks refuge in the attic — the age-old running upstairs when he should be going out the front door mistake — and locks the door so his mom can't get in. Instead of banging on the door with her fists like a regular person, she uses her head as a battering ram. The bruises aren't going to matter in the morning, given that once she does end up in the roof of her home, she cuts her own head off using piano wire.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>Storing old family keepsakes is what this arena is often used for, but the metaphorical and literal ripples of this cannot be underestimated within the <em>Hereditary </em>setup. Toni Collette has encountered a trifecta of attics covering a spectrum of unsettling scenarios.</p> <p>In the 2015 Christmas horror-comedy <em>Krampus</em>, she experiences toy terror in the attic when the now-sentient beings attack. The beams of their flashlights are little protection against these forces. And in <em>The Sixth Sense</em>, she looks on helplessly after her son is trapped in the top room of a birthday party venue. After reluctantly agreeing to appear in the play "Locked in the Dungeon," the two kid bullies give Cole (Haley Joel Osment) a horrifying experience. We never see inside the room; instead, we are subject to Cole's terrified screams as he can't get out and his mom Lynn can't get in.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent">Sprits and demons are not the only danger lurking, as flesh-and-blood humans also resort to hiding and stalking from above. In the original 1974 <em>Black Christmas</em>, the killer takes up his attack position from within. A classic babysitter urban legend tells the story of calls coming from inside the house, and <em>Black Christmas</em> takes this concept and runs with it. When the doors are locked, the college students are simply trapping themselves inside with the person who is tormenting them.</p> <p>A decade later, in <em>House on Sorority Row</em>, the attic is the scene of the final battle with the murderer — who gets extra creepy points for dressing as a clown. The hatch that is so often the mouth of the scary space helps subdue the killer when he falls through; the ending is ambiguous because, of course, he opens his eyes before it cuts to black. <em>Black Christmas</em> also ends on a cliffhanger with the police outside standing guard but blissfully unaware the murderer has been inside the entire time.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1136" height="452" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions </p></figcaption></figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent">Hiding in plain sight is a benefit of Adrian Griffin's (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) tech suit in the recent <em>Invisible Man</em> adaptation. After faking his death in the aftermath of girlfriend Cecilia's (Elisabeth Moss) escape the home, Adrian proceeds to gaslight her to the extreme, taking up residence in the house she fled to. Even though he is invisible, he needs a base of operation so no one accidentally walks into his still solid form — plus he still needs to sleep. The obvious place is the attic, so he can spy on her from every room.</p> <p>Cecilia rings his phone in a bid to draw him out, and the eerie realization that the vibrations are coming from the ceiling uncovers his disturbing proximity. In a movie full of nerve-inducing sequences, this one is peeking-through-your-fingers levels of tense as Cecilia goes up to investigate. The realization he has been here the entire time is horrifying, and the way she ultimately deploys paint to reveal his presence is genius (and jump-worthy).</p> <p>Most attics are full of dust and memories without the malevolence or murder, but horror plays on our fears of this dark space. In some cases, what is stored up above are items we aren't quite ready to dispose of or hold larger meaning. However, these rules are twisted in scary movies to ensure that whatever the darkness is hiding is not going to spark joy. If you hear a noise coming from the attic, it probably isn't rats.</p> Fangrrls Hereditary ScreamGRRLS Sinister The Exorcist the invisible man Movies syfywire-post-211099 Tue, 26 May 2020 15:00:01 -0400 SYFY WIRE Emma Fraser Seth MacFarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West has the greatest genre cameo of all time. Change my mind. <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em>Back to the Future Part III</em></a> celebrates its 30th anniversary this week, but I don't want to talk about the western-inspired conclusion to <a href="" target="_blank">Robert Zemeckis</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Bob Gale</a>'s iconic <a href="" target="_blank">sci-fi trilogy</a>. Well, that's not entirely true. Rather than discussing <em>Part III</em> itself, I want to talk about its far-reaching influence on a much smaller film (one that's fast slipping into obscurity) called <em>A Million Ways to Die in the West</em>.</p> <p>The movie, which fittingly celebrates its own release anniversary this coming weekend, marked the second live-action directorial effort of <a href="" target="_blank">Seth MacFarlane</a>. Co-written by MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, and Wellesley Wild, <em>A Million Ways </em>is an R-rated, <em>Blazing Saddles</em>-type parody of the western genre, centering on Albert Stark (played by MacFarlane), a put-upon sheep farmer with a Deadpool-like knack for calling attention to the horrific lethality of the frontier in the latter half of the 19th century.</p> <p>But that's not the point of this piece. No, I want to fast-forward to the tail end of the film's second act when Albert, on his way home from a date, spots a strange blue light flickering from <a href="" target="_blank">the town's livery</a>. He heads over to poke his head inside the building, and who should he see but <a href="" target="_blank">Christopher Lloyd</a>'s Doctor Emmett L. Brown, tinkering with his famed time-traveling DeLorean. Alerted to Albert's presence, a flustered Doc covers up the car with a tarp and insists that he's simply working on a "weather experiment." Confused, but seemingly satisfied, Albert accepts the story and leaves. Marveling at how close he came to being discovered as an anachronism, Doc lets out a "Great Scott!"</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>A few bars of Alan Silvestri's twinkling <em>Back to the Future</em> theme carry us over into the next scene, and that's that. Doc's character is never mentioned again — and never mind that <em>A Million Ways</em> takes place in 1882 (not 1885, as in <em>Part III</em>) in the town of Old Stump (not Hill Valley). The sequence runs for less than a minute (yes, I timed it) of the film's 116-minute runtime and has no bearing on the overall plot. It's pure fanboy indulgence on the director's part, but damn, is it absolutely perfect; a wish-fulfillment kind of moment you never knew you wanted to see until you see it — like John Hurt reprising the <em>Alien</em> role of Kane in Mel Brooks'<em> Spaceballs</em>.</p> <p>It wasn't <em>Back to the Future Part IV</em>, but it didn't need to be. Enough of the accurate details (like Doc's cumbersome ice maker and flowing mane of white hair) are there to spark delight in the audience. Even Lloyd, who was around 76 years old at the time of <em>A Million Ways</em>' production, proved that he hadn't lost any of his manic magic.</p> <p>MacFarlane effectively brought a franchise — one everyone thought was finished for good — back to the big screen in a fun, new way. I'd expect nothing less from a major <em>Back to the Future </em>acolyte who has parodied the series <a href="" target="_blank">multiple times</a> throughout <em>Family Guy</em>'s 18-season run and <a href="" target="_blank">owns a perfect replica</a> of the DeLorean driven by Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly.</p> <p>"When Christopher Lloyd was on the set, everybody came out. There was this buzz of excitement because 'Oh my god, Doc's here. Doc Brown's here,'" the writer-director says in a behind-the-scenes featurette (see below) about the small tribute to <em>Part III</em>. "He was great. He was just an affable, kind, pleasant guy, who really loved being there. The other thing that was nice to hear was, we were told that he loves that character, and that's refreshing to me because oftentimes you see actors who are identified with iconic characters and all they wanna do is distance themselves [from them]. He has embraced that character and loves it as much as we do, so that was one of the most fun days on set during the production of the movie."</p> <p>"To kind of be back in that, to see Doc Brown again, to see that car, it's like seeing an old buddy from your childhood where you're like, 'Oh my god, it's so great to see you again,'" producer Scott Stuber adds in the video. "The 12-year-old in every one of us kind of came out that night."</p> <p>"It was as if we had some form of royalty visiting the set and everybody must have a picture with Chris," producer Jason Clark concludes.</p> <p>Lloyd's bit appearance turns an OK movie into an extremely memorable one, but it's not something anyone could have pulled off. </p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>After delivering two hit TV shows (<em>Family Guy</em>, <em>American Dad</em>) and the <a href="" target="_blank">highest-grossing original R-rated comedy in history</a> (<em>Ted</em>), MacFarlane had some serious clout and influence in Hollywood that allowed him to give in to his wildest impulses on <em>A Million Ways to Die in the West</em>. Nothing was off limits, no ask too big, and it shows in the star power the film was able to attract, even if it meant a one-word or non-verbal role. In addition to Lloyd, the film features cameos — big and small — from Ewan McGregor, Patrick Stewart, Bill Maher, Jamie Foxx, Gilbert Gottfried, and Ryan Reynolds.</p> <p>In terms of licensing, the fact that Universal Pictures owns both properties probably didn't hurt either.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="580" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Universal Pictures</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Compared to the success of <em>Ted</em>, MacFarlane's second big-screen outing was an unfortunate cinematic misfire. It wasn't all that loved by critics (case in point: <a href="" target="_blank">a 33 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes</a>) and couldn't crack $90 million <a href="" target="_blank">at the global box office</a> against a modest $40 million budget. I myself discussed a number of the movies' shortcomings <a href="" target="_blank">in a review for my college newspaper</a> and closed things out by suggesting that MacFarlane try his hand at sci-fi instead. It turns out I inadvertently predicted<em> The Orville</em>, but that's a discussion for another time.</p> <p>Six years later and I'm still geeking out over Doc Brown popping up in <em>A Million Ways to Die in the West</em>. Sure, I'm also a little sad and bitter that the epic cameo was ruined for me in one of the promotional trailers. Nevertheless, viewing it for the first time, even in trailer form, blew my mind, prompting me to turn to my friends in the darkened theater and whisper, "Did you see that?!" I don't recall what movie that teaser played in front of, but I sure do remember that moment of wide-eyed excitement. That's the power of the scene for you — or rather, that's the power of love.</p> <p><em>MacFarlane, Lloyd, Stuber, Clark, Sulkin, Wild, and cinematographer Michael Barrett could not be reached or declined to be interviewed for this story.</em></p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> A Million Ways to Die in the West anniversary Back to the Future Back to the Future Part III Christopher Lloyd opinion Seth MacFarlane Movies Features syfywire-post-211408 Tue, 26 May 2020 15:00:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss Harry Potter was never here! J.K. Rowling busts real-world locales boasting bogus connections <p><a href="" target="_blank">J.K. Rowling</a>, the author behind the pop culture behemoth <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Harry Potter</em></a> (and the newly announced fairy tale <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Ickabog</em></a>), is no Luddite. She's <a href="" target="_blank">constantly tweeting</a>, be it to announce new projects, interact with fans, change the Wizarding World canon, or talk politics. Her latest social media endeavor is responding to fan theories, tourist traps, and other locations around the real world that are pretending to have some connection to <em>Harry Potter</em>'s real-world origins. The world is full of Gilderoy Lockharts, and Rowling is busting them all.</p> <p>"I was thinking of putting a section on my website about all the alleged inspirations and birthplaces of Potter," Rowling wrote on the first in a thread of offenders, noting that she'd "been writing Potter for several years before I ever set foot in this cafe, so it’s not the birthplace, but I *did* write in there so we’ll let them off!"</p> <p>She was actually in The Elephant House, so that's at least a point in its favor. Way better than some of the others, like this Portuguese bookstore:</p> <p>Or the Shambles, Gandy Street, or the Old Firehouse:</p> <p>Or literally any parking meter, spot, or garage:</p> <p>Basically, if fans are keen on a <em>Harry Potter</em> book locations tour, they might as well save their Galleons. But Rowling did post a few locations that actually DO have some relevance to the writing of the series. Places like Severus Road, which wormed its way into Rowling's subconscious:</p> <p>And the true birthplace of Harry Potter, Rowling's old Clapham Junction apartment:</p> <p>Perhaps not as glamorous as a quaint cafe or a gilded library, but it's a fitting origin for Harry Potter's own under-the-stairs brand of relatable magic. Rowling's work can next be read as <em>The Ickabog</em> is released chapter by chapter over the course of this summer.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Harry Potter J.K. Rowling Movies News syfywire-post-211420 Tue, 26 May 2020 14:18:30 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jacob Oller Just A Couple Of Arselings: The Last Kingdom Podcast - Season 4, Episode 7 <p>There's a new Viking in town, arselings, and he's about to become a major player in this fight for a united England. </p> <p>But first, <a href="">The Last Kingdom</a> needs to get its house in order which is what Edward tries to do in the show's seventh episode. He's arguing with Ealdormen, crashing Wittans, and throwing his allies in prison. Not a good look. He does reach an understanding with Uhtred though only after Aethelhelm tortures the poor guy for a bit. </p> <p>Elsewhere, Eadith and Osferth panic over how to save Aelfwynn, and Brida is rescued by a new Danish conqueror with ties to Cnut and plans to find his own path to glory. </p> <div><figure class="op-interactive audio"> <iframe src="" style="width: 640px; height: 200px; border: 0 none;" width="640" height="200" scrolling="no"></iframe> <audio ><source src="" type="audio/ogg"></audio> <img src=""> </figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent"><a href="">Join FANGRRLS Jessica Lynn Toomer and Alyssa Fikse</a> as they take you back in time and through every episode of Netflix's <em>The Last Kingdom</em>. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts!</p> Fangrrls Just a Couple of Arselings Podcast the last kingdom TV syfywire-post-211425 Tue, 26 May 2020 14:00:01 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jessica Toomer Robert Picardo on that big Star Trek: Voyager reunion and 25 years of being confused for a doctor <p>By <a href="" target="_blank">IMDb</a>'s measure, <a href="">Robert Picardo</a> has 230 acting credits and counting, with fan-favorite roles dating all the way back to <em>Kojak</em>. But for many, he'll always be the Doctor, aka the Emergency Medical Hologram (EMH), on <a href=""><em>Star Trek: Voyager</em></a>.</p> <p>With many conventions and appearances going by the wayside during these socially distanced times, Picardo and his USS <em>Voyager</em> crew are virtually reuniting to celebrate the show's 25th anniversary tonight on <a href="" target="_blank">Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley's <em>Stars in the House</em> YouTube show</a>. The good doctor hopped on the phone with SYFY WIRE to tell us what to expect from the big reunion, as well as how it came together — which basically boils down to him recently appearing on <em>Stars in the House</em> for a <em>China Beach</em> reunion (where he played another doctor) and then pitching Rudetsky and Wesley on the idea of doing another one for <em>Voyager</em>.</p> <p>"So I reached out to <a href="">Kate Mulgrew</a>. She was on board immediately; then I emailed all my castmates and to their great credit and my ongoing admiration for them, they all said yes immediately. And so now we've just been trying to get the word out," Picardo tells SYFY WIRE.</p> <p>Tonight at 8 p.m. ET, Picardo will be joining Kate Mulgrew (Captain Kathryn Janeway), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine), Roxann Dawson (B'Elanna Torres), Robert Beltran (Chakotay), Robert Duncan McNeill (Tim Paris), Ethan Phillips (Neelix), and Garrett Wang (Harry Kim) to benefit <a href="" target="_blank">The Actors Fund</a> while recalling all the fun of making the fan-favorite <em>Trek</em> series that gifted us 172 episodes over the course of seven wild seasons, beginning in 1995.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="1856" /><figcaption><p><em>Star Trek: Voyager</em> cast: (Front, Center) Kate Mulgrew, (Second Row, L To R) Jeri Ryan, Ethan Phillips, Roxann Dawson and Tim Russ (Back Row, L To R) Garrett Wang, Robert Picardo, Robert Beltran and Robert Duncan Mcneill. (Photo By Getty Images)</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Picardo tells us the cast has mostly stayed in an "ongoing dialogue" over the years, not just because they see each other at conventions and the like, but because of the genuine friendships that began developing within that first year of production. Really, though, it all started with the casting of their beloved Captain Janeway, Kate Mulgrew, who wasn't the executives' original pick. That'd be Geneviève Bujold, <a href="">who backed out of being the franchise's first female captain</a> after spending a couple of days shooting the pilot.</p> <p>"I think I read about all this on SYFY WIRE, by the way," Picardo jokes while recounting the uncertainty of the moment. "So she parted company and there was a brief few days of panic when we were all afraid that somebody might be recast, because there were rumors that if they couldn't find the actress they liked, they would switch the captain to a man and then change the sex of one of the other characters, that's the rumor we all heard. But then Kate stepped in, they loved her from the moment she stepped off the bridge; we were safe and in very good hands. If she had any fear at all, nobody noticed it. She claims later that she was terrified when she first started, but I couldn't see it."</p> <p>As for Picardo's start, let's just say it took him a while to find his bedside manner, as he "had virtually nothing to do with the pilot." He was also concerned because he was playing the artificial intelligence character, and following in the "enormously successful" shoes of <a href="">Brent Spiner</a> (Data on <em>Star Trek: The Next Generation</em>). "I was afraid I would be compared to him endlessly and unfavorably because he was so lovable and kind of childlike in his role and I was kind of, you know, crusty and curmudgeonly, and ... pissed off. And not a very cuddly character," Picardo says.</p> <p>But as a Yale-trained actor with plenty of Broadway experience (a trait common among his <em>Voyager</em> castmates), Picardo figured it out.</p> <p>"There was a certain amount of anxiety, but then I started to understand my role more, and what made him different and special, because I wasn't super <em>Star Trek</em> savvy when I started. But I realized partway through the first season, ‘Oh my God, I got the plum role.' I thought I had gotten the worst part because there was so little of him in the pilot," Picardo says. "When I was cast I told all my friends, ‘I was cast in the new <em>Star Trek</em> series. It's a good job to get at this time in my life. My children will now go to college when they grow up, but I have to tell you I've got the dullest part in the show ... I'm playing a computer program of a doctor who is holographically projected, described as colorless, humorless. Does that sound like a bucket of fun to you for seven years?' And it turned out that it was, and I couldn't have been more wrong."</p> <p>Picardo hid behind his "resting bitch face" and bluffed it until about the second half of the second episode, when he first started to realize things were going in the right doctorly direction.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="2083" /><figcaption><p>Robert Picardo and Jeri Ryan in <em>Star Trek: Voyager</em> episode "Imperfection" (Photo By Getty Images)</p> <p> </p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>"Anyway, there is a scene in the very second episode after the pilot where Kes, Jennifer Lien, comes to the Doctor's office looking for soil samples for her hydroponics bay, and he complains bitterly that he was designed for emergency use only, that he has the combined knowledge of two and a half thousand medical textbooks, the combined experience of 27 Starfleet officers, and this and that, and this and that … ‘but yes, let me get your dirt.' It was clear that he was upset at not being respected the way he felt he was supposed to be, and that he was going to be used beyond the parameters of his program design," Picardo says about the "aha" moment. "And also because he was supposed to adapt and learn and even to have an emotional subroutine so that he would have some sort of empathy for his patients, he would have some sort of programmed developable bedside manner.</p> <p>"All of those things made him different in a way that I had not understood fully," Picardo continues. "And at that point, it kind of clicked in my head, and I went, 'OK, he has a chip on his shoulder because of this, so whenever he's not being respected he's going to be unhappy and he's going to fight back.'"</p> <p>Picardo also has a built-in doctor's gravitas about him, perhaps because medicine was a childhood ambition of his, to the point where he was pre-med for two years of undergraduate at Yale before switching to theater. Just the same, while he does get inquiries into his doctoring services occasionally, he's not going to be doing house calls any time soon.</p> <p>"The fact that I got to be a doctor vicariously for four years in Vietnam in <em>China Beach</em> and then seven years in outer space on <em>Star Trek</em>, I feel like in some way that it was a vicarious experience," he says. "Having said that, no one wants me to operate on them, no one wants me to give them medical advice. But yes, you do get asked sometimes, because they're used to you, apparently, you're seeming at least to know what you're talking about."</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>As far as having a favorite "I'm a doctor, not a ..." moment, Picardo says it's got to be the one that likely landed him the job.</p> <p>Picardo initially read for the part of Neelix, which ultimately went to his good friend Ethan Phillips. "And in that moment," Picardo says, "I saved myself 6,000 hours of my life spent in a makeup chair." But the producers went against form and invited Picardo back to read for the Doctor. While there was no "I'm a doctor" moment scripted for the audition, the actor had heard ahead of time that they "wanted someone funny."</p> <p>"So at the end of the audition, after the last scripted line when they left me activated in sick bay and I have nothing left to do, I look around the supposedly empty room ... but of course, there's 16 people watching me, but it's supposed to be an empty sick bay," Picardo recalls, "I look around and I say, ‘I believe someone has failed to terminate my program,' and then I said, ‘I'm a doctor, not a nightlight.' And got a big laugh and got hired that day, you know, four hours later. So yes, borrowing from the great DeForest Kelley, as I've often said, put my children through college. You can't go wrong stealing from the greats."</p> <p>Of course, all this Doctor talk got us wondering if there's a future for the character. It's not like a hologram can't get projected into another timeline around the universe, right?</p> <p>"I honestly don't see it happening," Picardo says. "It's always fun to return to something, and like Brent's character, I played not only the guy himself but the programmer, so the programmer has aged, even if the artificial-intelligence character hasn't aged ... so I haven't given you much of an answer, but presently I would say no, but if they were to ask me, who the heck knows?"</p> <p>But even if the Doctor himself never shows up in <em>Star Trek</em> again, Picardo's Starfleet service is forever.</p> <p>"It's the gift that keeps on giving, <em>Star Trek</em>, if you're lucky enough to be an actor in one of the shows, and I'm always very taken with the breadth of talent of my colleagues," Picardo says.</p> <p>And of course, we'll get to see the good Doctor back among his shipmates tonight, May 26, at 8 p.m. ET, as Captain Janeway and her crew reunite to celebrate <em>Voyager</em>'s 25th anniversary and, perhaps more importantly, to raise money for <a href="" target="_blank">The Actors Fund</a>.</p> <p>"I'm just hoping that people will find it in their hearts to do whatever they can <a href="">for this good cause</a>, because, as you know, the theater is in lockdown indefinitely, and so is all of the entertainment industry, basically," Picardo says. "Audiences know the 1 or 2 percent of the Screen Actors Guild that are working on television making a good living, but then for that 1 or 2 percent there are 98 percent that are often very marginally employed, they have second and third jobs, and they really need The Actors Fund at a time like this to help them out."</p> <p>So tune in tonight and help actors everywhere live long and prosper.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Interviews Kate Mulgrew reunions Robert Picardo Star Trek Star Trek: Voyager TV Features syfywire-post-211427 Tue, 26 May 2020 14:00:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Adam Pockross James Mangold hints at return to 'core ideas' for Indiana Jones 5; Frank Marshall updates <p><a href="" target="_blank">Taking over for Steven Spielberg</a> isn't an easy task, but <a href="" target="_blank">James Mangold</a> is going try his hardest with <a href="" target="_blank">the fifth <em>Indiana Jones </em>movie</a>. With the project delayed until 2022 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the director can't say much (or anything) about its plot at this time, but has assured fans that he'll be applying the important lessons he learned on 2017's <em>Logan</em>, which dealt with another beloved legacy character.</p> <p>"Like in all my work, I'm always trying to find an emotional center to operate from," <a href="" target="_blank">Mangold told</a>, going on to explain that "with any franchises, serving the same thing again, the same way, usually just produces a longing for the first time you ate it." His point was that when you're dealing with a long-running property, fans are driven by nostalgia and the desire of wanting "the first one over again. So, you have to push something to someplace new, while also remembering the core reasons why everyone was gathered."</p> <p>For Hugh Jackman's<em> X-Men</em> swan song, Mangold (who was "dealing in a world of a very pressured franchise") admitted that he unfettered himself from a lot of the "canon" and "baggage" in order "to try and make the best story."</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="932" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Paramount/Lucasfilm</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>He continued, "the core values of Logan, of Wolverine, and Charles Xavier and the X-Men, were something that I felt we never abandoned. The core ideas of their honor, their sense of duty, and the uniqueness of this particular set of characters that they were outcasts, oddities ... And in any franchise I take in, I'd always be trying to capture and make sure that we preserve those core ideas that are at the center, because that's why these stories are more than franchises. They're the fairy tales of our contemporary culture."</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Chatting with Collider</a>, executive producer Frank Marshall offered a quick update on the status of <em>Indy 5</em>'s production, elucidating all of the ways the sets will have to be made safe in order for shooting to begin.</p> <p>"We’re looking at the guidelines that are coming slowly, from the health experts and the studios and the different parts of the business, and we’re just trying to incorporate everything, so we can move forward and be safe," he said. "It’s going to obviously slow things down, so we’re trying to adjust. You won’t see a lot of big crowd scenes, for example, for awhile. There won’t be any more craft service, so maybe that’ll be good for people, in keeping more fit. It’s a moving target right now. There are a lot of people working on the solutions, to be able to work and be safe."</p> <p>Marshall added that Mangold is the perfect choice to direct, thanks to his deep adoration of the <em>Indiana Jones</em> series.</p> <p>"He’s a wonderful filmmaker. I think he also has a relationship with Harrison. It was all of the right pieces coming together, at the right time," the producer continued.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="903" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Lucasfilm</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Spielberg is also attached as an executive producer ("Steven is staying on as a producer, so we’ve got the best of everything," Marshall said), with <a href="" target="_blank">Harrison Ford</a> set to reprise the titular role. No other casting announcements have been made yet. Heck, we don't even know what supernatural artifact Professor Jones will be seeking this time around. Jonathan Kasdan, son of <em>Raiders of the Lost Ark </em>screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and co-scribe on <em>Solo: A Star Wars Story</em>, is penning the script.</p> <p><em>Indiana Jones 5 </em>has been shunted from one release date to another since it was first announced by Disney. Its latest theatrical debut is set for July 29, 2022. Hopefully it sticks for good this time, and if it doesn't, well, we can always blame Belloq for snatching the treasure out from under us at the last second.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> coronavirus Frank Marshall indiana jones Indiana Jones 5 James Mangold Logan Movies News syfywire-post-211423 Tue, 26 May 2020 13:40:56 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss Watch Watchmen’s director unpack the show’s complex villains: ‘Bad guys don’t know they’re bad’ <p>The finale of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' groundbreaking graphic novel <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Watchmen</em></a> solidified Ozymandias, aka Adrian Veidt, as one of the greatest comic villains in history. The panache, the ambition, the ruthlessness, and — above all else — the timing of the baddie are unmatched among antagonists who primarily exist to allow their heroes to fight another day.</p> <p><em><strong>** This story contains spoilers for the HBO limited series — so make sure you watch more than 15 minutes before reading! **</strong></em></p> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">world's smartest man</a> had a twist-filled plot in the <em>Watchmen</em> sequel series on HBO, where he (played by Jeremy Irons) was a necessary component in combating the show's Lady Trieu (Hong Chau). After watching the critically acclaimed superhero series, fans had no doubt that Ozymandias was back (even if those behind the show were <a href="" target="_blank">playing coy about his role</a>) and that his particular brand of villainy was the perfect match for its central standoff.</p> <p>SYFY WIRE has a spoiler-filled exclusive clip from a behind-the-scenes featurette from the home video release, focusing on the show's baddies (and why they were perfect for each other) and hosted by none other than executive producer/director Nicole Kassell (who won a Directors Guild of America award for her work helming "It's Summer and We're Running Out of Ice").</p> <p>Check it out:</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>"Bad guys don't know they're bad," Kassell explains. "I believe Lady Trieu definitely believes she's going to save the world. I think Veidt did, too."</p> <p>Only a villain who thinks he's smarter than the gods could take down a villain who wished to attain the power of a god. Right? Probably. At least it makes sense in <em>Watchmen</em>'s world of cynical anti-comic book antics. In fact, Veidt's eventual plot to stop Lady Trieu is "almost the most honest moment he's had" over his history as a <em>Watchmen</em> character.</p> <p>And fans can relive the shocking magic of the show — oddball finale included — soon enough, as the HBO limited series hits Blu-ray and DVD on June 2.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Exclusives HBO Watchmen Exclusive TV News syfywire-post-211403 Tue, 26 May 2020 13:32:25 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jacob Oller Wonder Man, reality TV star bae <p>If there was a <em>Real Househusbands of the Marvel Universe</em>, Simon Williams would have a spot in <em>all</em> the promo. Wonder Man is one of Marvel’s most reality TV show-ready superheroes on their roster. He's already got those iconic ionic yams <em>and</em> power second only to the Mighty Thor. And on top of that, there is <em>plenty</em> of drama and complicated history.</p> <p>An embezzling son of an industrialist, a Zemo pawn, a zombie, an Avenger, a Hollywood star — the list goes on and on like that ionic body, and it’s what makes Wonder Man our made-for-reality-TV bae.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1242" height="1945" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Marvel Comics, Wonder Man Vol 1. #1</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Simon Williams enters the Marvel Universe as he's found guilty for embezzling money from the munitions factory he inherited from his late father. The company had lost substantial profits thanks to Tony Stark, which provided an opportunity for Baron Zemo to use a bitter Williams — now facing jail time — as his pawn to use against the Avengers.</p> <p>Bitter might actually be an understatement because Williams was willing to let Zemo blast his body with supercharged ionic energy. Williams goes from an average-looking trust fund baby to a muscular heartthrob who gives Enchantress hungry eyes and has the Executioner shook.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1084" height="539" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Marvel Comics, Avengers Vol. 1 # 9</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>The plan doesn't exactly run smoothly, because what fun would that be? It turns out Williams actually had a few ions of goodwill within him and saves the Avengers after working against them. Unfortunately for him, this act of heroism is the last thing he does for a while.</p> <p>As an incentive to destroy the Avengers, Baron Zemo infects Wonder Man with a disease, a cure promised once the deed was done. The Avengers are unable to cure him; instead, they put his body on ice and record his brain waves to bring him back in some capacity. It’s a messy origin story worthy of a <em>Real Househusbands</em> tagline: “Zemo gave me my powers, but I ultimately gave myself the true prize of redemption.”  </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="981" height="488" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Marvel Comics, Avengers Vol. 1 # 9</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Wonder Man’s life turns into a full-blown daytime TV soap opera once he returns to the land of the living. After the Avengers defeat Black Talon, a villain who awakened Wonder Man from his assumed dead state, they learn that Wonder Man wasn’t dead at all. His body was actually going through a transformation caused by the ionic energy Baron Zemo bombarded him with. The reveal throws Wonder Man into a never-ending existential crisis.</p> <p>In the name of making matters messier, there is a synthetic, sentient Hitachi wand named Vision existing with his recorded brain patterns. Adding some spice to that mess, thanks to Wanda Maximoff’s love for artificial men, we’ve got ourselves one hell of a love triangle. What’s a reality TV show without a good fight with the coworker you’ve fallen in love with and her husband who is also your clone?</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="922" height="1386" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Marvel Comics, Avengers Vol. 1 # 158</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Vision’s existence makes Wonder Man question his own and vice versa — and when their feelings for Wanda are added to the mix, all hell breaks loose. The entire Wonder Man/Vision conundrum continues even after the two find common ground when they defeat Simon’s evil brother, Grim Reaper. Yes, Wonder Man absolutely has an evil brother — it's on-brand with his life. </p> <p>Before Wanda and Vision leave the Avengers, Vision and Wonder Man make nice with one another. Wonder Man considers him the lost good brother he never had. It’s totally not at all weird that Wonder Man still harbors romantic feelings for his brother’s wife, getting with her romantically sometime after they split. This, of course, leads to yet another fight between the Vision and Wonder Man over Wanda — and that's not even mentioning that Wanda loved Wonder Man so much, she willed him back into existence after he died for the umpteenth time. The side-piece is usually the source of all the drama worth paying attention to.</p> <p>Wanda isn’t the only person who has found themselves drawn to Wondy’s iconic ionic body and baggage. He had a thing with Carol Danvers as well as Amora the Enchantress and a woman named Alex Florés — for whom he goes to hell and back, literally. It’s a little surprising the man who knocked Prince Namor unconscious didn’t catch more hearts, but that might be due to all his back-and-forth coming to terms with who and what he is. </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="877" height="594" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Marvel Comics, Avengers Vol. 1 #155</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Wonder Man might struggle with no longer having a normal human body or if he even actually exists, but his humanity is more intact than he realizes. Mentioning he’s died an umpteenth number of times wasn’t hyperbolic; he’s sacrificed himself to save the world and universe about as many times as Ultron has come back to antagonize the Avengers. At one point, Wonder Man questions their ethics and if they did more harm than good, firmly believing the latter.  </p> <p> </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1064" height="1653" /><figcaption><p>Credit:Marvel Comics, New Avengers Annual (2011) #1</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Wonder Man’s humanity can also be found in his <a href="http://Chosen One of the Day: Off-duty Beast and Wonder Man">friendship with Beast</a>. It’s a friendship deserving of its own best buddy limited series. They club together, hang out at the Avengers mansion, hook each other up with terrible blind dates, and play floating games of poker with one another. Their relationship is about as close to a healthy relationship Simon Williams ever truly knows, to be honest. </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1242" height="1523" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Marvel Comics, Uncanny Avengers (2015) #28</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Funnily enough, canonically, Wonder Man is approached by his agent to have his own reality show, and he declines. He doesn't want to be a washed-up star trying to stay in the limelight, which is valid reasoning. However, everything about his life screams for a camera crew to follow him around, if not for the drama then for those ionic yams he pulls his costume over as he runs to help someone in need.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="702" height="604" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Marvel Comics, Wonder Man Vol 1. #1</p></figcaption></figure></div> Fangrrls marvel comics Merry Month of Bae Comics syfywire-post-211340 Tue, 26 May 2020 13:00:01 -0400 SYFY WIRE Stephanie Williams Marc Guggenheim directs the Legends of Tomorrow into a wacky Star Trek tribute <p>As one of the chief architects of the <a href="">Arrowverse</a>, <a href="">Marc Guggenheim</a> has been involved with crafting over 200 hours of The CW's superhero universe. He co-created <a href=""><em>Arrow</em></a> and <a href=""><em>DC's Legends of Tomorrow</em></a>, oversaw this season's epic <a href="">"Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover</a>, and conceived and wrote the tie-in animated series <a href=""><em>Vixen</em></a> and <a href=""><em>Freedom Fighters: The Ray</em></a>. But he'd never stepped behind the camera to direct.</p> <p>That changes with this week's episode of<em> Legends of Tomorrow</em>, "The One Where We're Trapped on TV," an ambitious installment that features call-outs to several iconic TV series. Following <a href="">last week's heartbreaking defeat</a> by the Fates sisters, the team has been transported into various television shows, unaware of their true identities or that they are living in a dystopian timeline that's been rewritten by the Loom of Fate.</p> <p>Nate, Zari, and Behrad star in <em>Ultimate Buds</em>, a <em>Friends</em>-like sitcom; Constantine and Astra are transported to <em>Highcastle Abbey</em>, a <em>Downton Abbey</em> homage; and Sara and Ava give inspired impressions of Kirk and Spock in <em>Star Trip</em>, <a href="">a parody of the classic <em>Star Trek</em> series</a>. Later, they all wind up on <em>Mister Parker's Cul de Sac</em>, a twisted version of <em>Mister Rogers' Neighborhood</em>.</p> <p>Those disparate settings made Guggenheim's directorial debut particularly challenging. And though he is a consulting producer on <em>Legends</em>, he was not involved in creating the script for this episode, which was written by executive producers Grainne Godfree and James Egan last fall while Guggenheim was busy working on the final episodes of <em>Arrow</em> (including the <a href="">potential <em>Green Arrow and the Canaries</em> spinoff</a>) and the "Crisis" crossover. And that was by design. "I wanted to get the true experience, it should be like being an episodic director where I'm just handed a script," he tells SYFY WIRE.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1200" height="800" /><figcaption><p><em>DC's Legends of Tomorrow</em> meets <em>Downton Abbey</em>. (Credit: Jack Rowand/The CW)</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Originally, Guggenheim had playfully lobbied his colleagues for a gentle introduction to the director's chair. "I kept sticking my head in the writers' room and saying, 'Give me an easy one!'" he says. "And they come up with five different looks instead. I think we all had a really good laugh about it. It was interesting because it was kind of like film school. The one thing I knew pretty much from the very beginning was that I wanted to direct each of those five worlds in the style that has already been established. It really required a lot of going back and watching a lot of the shows we were homaging with a different eye, with an eye towards what makes this show visually a show."</p> <p>The results are convincing, including some impressive craftsmanship to recreate the aesthetic of each show. The <em>Ultimate Buds</em> set is a perfect replica of Monica and Rachel's apartment from <em>Friends</em>, which was built from scratch. "I gotta give a major shout out to the art department," Guggenheim says. "Any one of those looks is a full episode’s worth of work. To do it five times over — and just to be clear, it's not like they got five times the amount of money or five times the amount of time. They did all this in the normal prep schedule."</p> <p>Guggenheim says he finally took the directing plunge to help jolt him out of a creative slump, at the encouragement of Arrowverse boss Greg Berlanti. "He suggested that I do something that scared me," Guggenheim says. "And he suggested that I direct. I had never really thought about directing, but the idea kind of grew in my consciousness, and the more I thought about it the more excited I got about the prospect. Also terrified."</p> <p>Though he's a TV veteran (his other credits including everything from <em>Law & Order</em> to <a href=""><em>Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia</em></a>), he admits it was a tough task — but ultimately a rewarding one. "The first day was really hard; we had 14 hours [of shooting] and a million set-ups and I was like, 'This is nightmare, I just need to survive,'" he admits. "By the end of the second day I was like, 'I can do this, I'm not panicking, but I never want to do this again.' By the end of the third day, I was like, 'When can I direct again?' So I was definitely surprised by how much I ended up really enjoying the experience."</p> <iframe src="" frameborder="0" width="320" height="320" allowTransparency="true"></iframe> <p>Luckily, <em>Legends</em>' current fifth season (which concludes June 2) finished production prior to the coronavirus crisis. The ensuing pause has given Guggenheim a chance to fulfill his New Year's resolution of writing new creator-owned comic books (he's a longtime writer for both Marvel and DC), and get started on several projects in development, including the screenplays for potential film adaptations of the <a href="">Image Comics series <em>Prophet</em></a> and the <a href="">Spider-Man character Jackpot</a>.</p> <p>As for the Arrowverse, Guggenheim does hint at another potential animated tie-in series. "There's something in the works that is really, really awesome," he teases. "And will make a lot of people happy." Beyond that, it's yet to be determined when he might return to Earth-Prime. "With the end of 'Crisis,' with the end of <em>Arrow</em>, I felt like a chapter had definitely ended," he says. "I was in the process of talking with Warner Bros. about what the next chapter would look like when the pandemic hit. At some point I imagine we will resume those conversations, but the answer is unfortunately lost in the limbo that we're all currently living in."</p> <p><strong><em>DC's Legends of Tomorrow</em> "The One Where We're Trapped on TV" airs Tuesday, May 26 at 9 PM ET on The CW.</strong></p> Arrowverse DC's Legends of Tomorrow Interviews Marc Guggenheim TV Features syfywire-post-211410 Tue, 26 May 2020 13:00:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Rich Sands All hail the Goblin King! Scott Derrickson set to direct long-awaited Labyrinth sequel <p>Despite <a href="" target="_blank">losing out</a> on the <em>Doctor Strange 2</em> gig, director <a href="" target="_blank">Scott Derrickson</a> has found a most worthy replacement. <a href="" target="_blank">According to Deadline</a>, the filmmaker has been hired by TriStar Pictures to helm the long-awaited sequel to <a href="" target="_blank">Jim Henson</a>'s <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Labyrinth</em></a>. Maggie Levin, the scribe of<em> Into the Dark</em> and <em>My Valentine</em> for Hulu, is writing the screenplay.</p> <p>Released in the summer of 1986, <em>Labyrinth </em>was a dark fairy tale about a young girl (<a href="" target="_blank">Jennifer Connelly</a>) who must rescue her baby brother from the clutches of Jareth, the dreaded Goblin King (<a href="" target="_blank">David Bowie</a>). Like <em>The Dark Crystal</em> four years prior, the film — written by <a href="" target="_blank">Terry Jones</a> and produced by <a href="" target="_blank">George Lucas</a> — was another great showcase for Henson's wizardry with practical puppets. In addition, it offered the chance <a href="" target="_blank">to introduce some music</a> into the story by utilizing Bowie's star power and talent. The title refers to a winding maze the main character must navigate in order to reach her goal.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>Similar to <em>Dark Crystal</em>, <em>Dragonslayer</em>, <em>Return to Oz</em>, and <em>Something Wicked This Way Comes</em>, <em>Labyrinth </em>was one of those '80s movies for kids that was way scarier than it had any right to be. It turned out to be a box-office and critical dud, but has gained a powerful cult following over the years, living on through video games, <a href="" target="_blank">comics</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">RPGs</a>, and a <a href="" target="_blank">potential stage musical</a>.</p> <p>Talk of a big-screen sequel <a href="" target="_blank">began in 2016</a> when Nicole Perlman (<em>Guardians of the Galaxy</em>) was tapped to write a script for a direct follow-up. The following spring, Fede Alvarez (<em>Evil Dead</em>, <em>Don't Breathe</em>) <a href="" target="_blank">was hired as director</a>. He offered an update on the screenplay <a href="" target="_blank">in the fall of 2018</a>, but that's where the updates stopped.</p> <p>Henson's children, Lisa and Brian, are executive-producing the latest sequel effort on behalf of The Jim Henson Company. Derrickson is also attached as an executive producer alongside his usual writing partner, C. Robert Cargill.</p> <p>There are obviously no casting announcements to report on this early in the process, but the movie certainly has the option to bring back Connelly as an adult version of Sarah Williams for a serious nostalgia rush. Furthermore, it can blend old-school effects with modern-day CGI (hopefully with more emphasis on the former), just like <em>The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance</em>.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> david bowie Jennifer Connelly Jim Henson labyrinth Scott Derrickson Movies News syfywire-post-211424 Tue, 26 May 2020 12:39:35 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss Zack Snyder’s Justice League had a Darkseid, and he just officially revealed himself <p>There were a <a href="" target="_blank">lot of elements</a> that got dropped when filmmaker Zack Snyder had to leave the production of Warner Bros. and DC's <em>Justice League</em>. Some of them were minor things — elements of backstory, a non-mustached/CGI Henry Cavill — but others were huge. Like, major villain huge. Darkseid was meant to be the Thanos-esque baddie teasing the superhero team-up and acting as the major threat they'd need to combat after a cliffhanger. However, he got dropped. But, now that the <a href="" target="_blank">Snyder Cut</a> is getting <a href="" target="_blank">released by HBO Max</a>, under the name <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Zack Snyder's Justice League</em></a>, the man behind this villain is finally able to claim his antagonistic throne.</p> <p>Ray Porter, an actor who's appeared in things like the <em>Lost</em> epilogue and voiced memorable characters in <em>BioShock 2</em> and more, has confirmed the rumors: he is Zack Snyder's Darkseid.</p> <p>Take a look:</p> <p>Porter, who's long been rumored to have played the Fourth World Big Bad, then went onto the LightCast podcast, during which he addressed having to keep this secret since <em>Justice League</em> hit theaters.</p> <p>Way cooler than his lackey Steppenwolf, the space Hitler-esque Darkseid was supposed to be the root of all the Knightmare sequences in the Snyder Cut (and the Joss Whedon theatrical version). The Jack Kirby creation is one of DC's greatest villains and would give the Justice League a much bigger challenge than any of his underlings...not to mention some New 52 cred, as the comics saw the villain as the instigating force behind the group's gathering. Snyder had a similar idea in mind for his film, which he teased with an image on Twitter:</p> <p>So why was Porter mum on the subject until now? Well, the answer is mostly a dry, legal one. "There's stuff that I don't want to give away, because we get to see it now," Porter said of his 2016 filming. "I just stayed quiet about it because I didn't want to give anything away, and I had signed [an NDA] and I don't want to mess with Warner Bros. They've always been very nice to me, and I don't want to make them mad."</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent">He even went so far as to message the studio directly when rumors started to swirl about his involvement. "I got messages saying, 'Did you play Darkseid in <em>Justice League</em>?' I immediately went into panic mode and I shot off an email to Warner Bros. and I shot off an email to DC like, 'I didn't say anything. I didn't say anything,'" the actor explained.</p> <p class="media-element-parent">But then came the fateful <em>Man of Steel</em> screening where Snyder himself announced that his version of the story was going to get its own day of reckoning. Could Porter finally break his silence? "Afterwards, I texted Zack, and I said, 'Can I come out of the Darkseid closet now?' And he responded, 'Yes,'" Porter said. "I guess in a way it was kind of selfish for me to be able to finally say, 'Yes, I did this.' It was like, 'Oh, thank God, I can finally say this.' I didn't realize it would blow up as big as it did."</p> <p>Porter certainly recorded some version of Darkseid during the movie's early production, but he might have to bring some more of that Apokolips heat as Snyder rallies his cast to do pick-ups and other production on the (still nebulous) form of his official cut.</p> <p class="media-element-parent">Fans will learn exactly what that looks like when <em>Zack Snyder's Justice League </em>hits HBO Max in 2021.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Darkseid Ray Porter Snyder Cut Zack Snyder Zack Snyder’s Justice League Movies News syfywire-post-211422 Tue, 26 May 2020 12:27:23 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jacob Oller WIRE Buzz: American Horror Story delayed; Dark final season trailer; Wallace & Gromit <p>Like so many other live-action media projects in the works during the current health crisis, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>American Horror Story</em></a>'s 10th season has been delayed to 2021, <a href="" target="_blank">The Hollywood Reporter</a> confirmed this morning. Earlier this month, anthology co-creator Ryan Murphy said the new season <a href="" target="_blank">might be postponed</a>, as its story was so heavily reliant on the weather.</p> <p><em>THR</em> also got confirmation from FX president John Landgraf that <a href="" target="_blank">the <em>AHS </em>spinoff,</a> <em>American Horror Stories</em>, is officially happening at the network. The project will, in Murphy's own words, consist of "one-hour contained episodes."</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1347" height="1000" /><figcaption><p>Credit: FX</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Kathy Bates, Macaulay Culkin, Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Adina Porter, Lily Rabe, Anjelica Ross, and Finn Witrock are all attached to star in Season 10. Culkin (best known for playing Kevin McCallister in <em>Home Alone</em>) is the only newcomer of the bunch and according to Murphy, will have "crazy erotic sex" with Bates' character.</p> <p>At this time, it's unclear whether or not <em>Fargo</em>, <em>A Teacher</em>, or<em> Y: The Last Man</em> (all of them FX productions) will launch this year as originally planned.</p> <hr /><p><a href="" target="_blank"><em>Dark</em></a>'s third and final season will officially light up <a href="" target="_blank">Netflix</a> on Saturday, June 27. The date was announced with the release of a mind-bending teaser trailer, which promises "the last cycle."</p> <p>"Will the loop finally be broken?" ponders the trailer's YouTube caption. We'll get a firm answer next month.</p> <p><strong>Watch now:</strong></p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent">First released in 2017, the German-produced TV show drew favorable comparisons to another Netflix original: <em>Stranger Things</em>. After all, both deal with motifs of missing children and paranormal stirrings in a small town. That said, Season 1 of <em>Dark</em> was seen as more of a winding, enigmatic maze when compared to the nostalgic events going on in Hawkins. <a href="" target="_blank">IndieWire</a> went so far as to claim that: "Anyone Expecting <em>Stranger Things</em> is in for a Hypnotic, Jarring TV Puzzle."</p> <p>The show was co-created by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese.</p> <hr /><p>For their next onscreen exploits, <a href="" target="_blank">Wallace and Gromit</a> are wading into the waters of interactivity, but it won't be entirely in stop-motion. <a href="" target="_blank">Aardman</a>'s famous duo "will invite fans directly into their adventures via <em>The Big Fix Up</em>: a first of its kind, story-driven experience that you can take part in at home via your smartphone or tablet!" reads the description.</p> <p>Blending AR, CG, and "mixed reality techniques," the project marks a collaboration between Aardman Animations and <a href="" target="_blank">Fictioneers</a>. The story finds the happy-go-lucky Wallace and his silent dog Gromit embarking on a new business venture: Spick & Spanners. Together, they'll set out to "Fix Up Bristol," the U.K. town in which Aardman studio is based.</p> <p>“Aardman is a multi-faceted creative studio and is just as happy with classic filmmaking as it is with new and emerging technologies, Merlin Crossingham, Creative Director of<em> Wallace & Gromit</em>, said in a statement. "Wallace and Gromit’s heart and soul is in stop-motion, but they have often dabbled in the cutting-edge of tech, and this is one of those occasions. We are delighted to join forces with the amazing folk at Fictioneers to take Wallace and Gromit on a new adventure in such a groundbreaking way.”</p> <p><strong>Watch the teaser below:</strong></p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent">“We’re thrilled to be working with our friends at Aardman to deliver the first augmented <em>Wallace & Gromit</em> story. We, at Fictioneers, are on a mission to innovate storytelling with our groundbreaking methodology. It is a rare privilege to be able to do so with some of the most beloved animated characters in the world and to give fans the first opportunity to join in <em>Wallace & Gromit</em>'s story,” added Susan Cummings, co-founder of Fictioneers and managing director of Tiny Rebel Games.</p> <p class="media-element-parent">To move the story along, <em>The Big Fix Up</em> is set to utilizie "different types of media" such as "multi-user AR gameplay, new CG animations, in character phone calls, comic strips, Extended Reality (XR) portals and more. All brought together in a mobile app, used as a ‘window’ into their world."</p> <p class="media-element-parent">Last May, Aardman promised that <a href="" target="_blank">more <em>W&G </em>content was coming</a>, but specified that fans should expect to see more shorts before another feature film. The characters' last big screen foray was 2005's <em>Curse of the Were-Rabbit</em>. </p> <p><em>The Big Fix Up</em> arrives this fall in the United Kingdom and will be compatible with Apple and Android smartphones. You can get more info <a href="" target="_blank">right here</a>.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Aardman Animations American Horror Story dark Netflix Wallace & Gromit WIRE Buzz Movies TV News syfywire-post-211418 Tue, 26 May 2020 12:01:51 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling publishing new fairy tale 'The Ickabog' <p>The creator behind one of fantasy's biggest literary and cinematic creations is bringing a new fantastic beast to life. <a href="" target="_blank">J.K. Rowling</a>, the author behind the inescapable <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Harry Potter</em> franchise</a>, announced today that she's written a fairy tale, called <em>The Ickabog</em>, and that it will all be released for free in the coming weeks. This is the first return to non-adult fiction for Rowling since the series' completion and the first non-Wizarding World work of that kind.</p> <p>Writing on her <a href="" target="_blank">website</a>, Rowling explains that she "wrote most of a first draft in fits and starts between Potter books, intending to publish [<em>The Ickabog</em>] after <em>Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows</em>." Then she took a break, then she published her adult-oriented crime novels. Now — thanks in part to the isolation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic — it's finally time for the fairy tale to reach the general public.</p> <p>"A few weeks ago at dinner, I tentatively mooted the idea of getting<em> The Ickabog</em> down from the attic and publishing it for free, for children in lockdown," Rowling wrote. "My now teenagers were touchingly enthusiastic, so downstairs came the very dusty box, and for the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in a fictional world I thought I’d never enter again."</p> <p>The book, aimed to be read to children (though any ages 7-9 could read it themselves), is "about truth and the abuse of power" and isn't meant to be timely or topical — especially considering Rowling thought up the idea "well over a decade ago." These readers will be able (and encouraged) to submit illustrations for the story, which may be featured when the story is published in print, eBook, and audio formats this November. Rowling has also pledged her author royalties to groups "particularly impacted" by COVID-19.</p> <p><em>The Ickabog</em> will be published a chapter "(or two, or three)" at a time on its own website, every weekday starting today, May 26, and July 10.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Harry Potter J.K. Rowling The Ickabog Movies News syfywire-post-211419 Tue, 26 May 2020 11:19:07 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jacob Oller Theme parks are reopening — Here’s what that means for your visit <p>After many weeks of local government meetings and anxiously awaiting announcements, a major American theme park is finally opening next week amidst the coronavirus pandemic. No more hypothesizing, rumor-mongering, <em>or</em> guessing — we're finally able to report on a re-opening and give you all the details on how it'll go down.</p> <p>Forget the small-talk: Let's get right down to business and big news, shall we?:</p> <p><strong>UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT WILL BE OPEN JUST IN TIME FOR SUMMER</strong></p> <p>As announced on Thursday, Universal Orlando Resort will welcome back guests starting next month. All three Universal parks — Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios Florida, and Volcano Bay water park — will open to the public on June 5, following two days of team member operations and two days of invited guests, which will likely <a href="">include annual passholders</a>.</p> <p>After a <a href="">long back-and-forth</a> about which theme parks would present at the <a href="">Orange County task force meeting</a> last Thursday, Universal stepped up to the plate and became the only one to <a href="">outline its return plans in detail</a>, which have now been approved. (It's said that <a href="">Disney will submit its plans this week</a>, while SeaWorld <a href="">floated a June opening</a> but has not yet presented a reopening plan to the group.)</p> <p>When Universal opens next week in the era of COVID-19, it won't just be flipping on the lights for Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and pushing the turnstiles forward — there will be numerous safety precautions put into place upon reopening. Entrance rules for CityWalk will remain in place for the two theme parks, as it serves as their main entrance (Volcano Bay has its own); temperature checks will be in place, hand washing is recommended, and <a href="http://">face masks are required for everyone</a> over age 2.</p> <p><a href="">Attendance will be limited</a> at all of Universal's parks, and while specific details are still to come, it appears there will not be an advanced reservation system in place. At Universal's Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida, however, there will be a wide range of new safety-focused, socially distanced procedures, including an increased emphasis on cleaning and disinfecting across the park, <a href="">limited capacity in shops and restaurants</a>, disposable menus implemented and enhanced mobile ordering with cashless payments.</p> <p>Ride vehicles will separate guests to accommodate social distancing, while the queues themselves will be staggered to provide extra space. (3-D glasses, which are always disinfected after each use, will continue to be used but handed to each guest directly.)</p> <p>Whether you're on your way down to Orlando soon or have a vacation planned in the distant future, here's the incredible news: Virtual queue is going wide. The same system that operates Volcano Bay's "don't worry, we'll hold your place so you can come back and ride it" virtual lines will be implemented on land, only in lieu of Tapu Tapu waterproof sensors, it'll all be through the Universal Orlando app. (It's here, too, where you can use scan tickets at the turnstile and even sync up your credit card for mobile order payments, reducing contact with team members at points of purchase.)</p> <p>Yes, UOR regulars know the system is already in use at select attractions like Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon and Fast & Furious — Supercharged, but what they'll be thrilled to learn is that it's apparently been extended to <a href="">Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure</a>. You know, the unbelievably popular coaster that debuted just shy of a year to date of the park's reopening and has proven a herculean feat since then to actually get on board.</p> <p>There will be no nighttime entertainment at reopening — theme park hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily — and details about offerings like parades and character meet-and-greets are still to come, as are those of the rides themselves.</p> <p>According to Universal, a "majority of the attractions and experiences within the parks are scheduled to open," but no details have yet been confirmed. Whatever you do get on board, note that you'll be required to use hand sanitizer — and you'll need to keep that mask on to ride even the most intense attractions, like The Incredible Hulk Coaster.</p> <p>There are exceptions: Masks will not be required while dining (at socially distanced tables, natch) or on theme park water rides or Volcano Bay's slide and pool experiences.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="875" /><figcaption><p>courtesy Universal Orlando Resort</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Only time will tell how Volcano Bay's procedures will be implemented — how does one keep a mask dry and separated from others' belongings while on the way to a ride that has only shoe cubbies? — but Volcano Bay will also be limiting its capacity within pools and rivers and will not mix parties on raft rides, which could make ride height and weight requirements tricky. (Solo sliders: you've been warned.)</p> <p>The expansive water theme park already has virtual line technology built into it, as well as a Tapu Tapu wristband that allows for contactless "check-ins." Lounge chairs, which are usually clustered on the beach in front of the behemoth <a href="">Krakatau volcano</a>, will be separated to meet social distancing requirements.</p> <p>As for those admission prices? Don't expect a pandemic discount; tickets and full-price and room deals are on par with regular specials. (Note: many of Universal's on-property hotels show availability starting June 5 but are <a href="">not seemingly guaranteed to be open</a>, possibly leaving opening week primarily to a local audience.)</p> <p><strong>WHAT DISNEY WORLD IS LIKE RIGHT NOW</strong></p> <p>When Disney Springs, the downtown district at Walt Disney World <a href="">reopened last week</a>, it was major news. Now, however, in the wake of Universal Orlando opening up entirely, it doesn't feel as major. That may change tomorrow, however, when some Disney-owned businesses, including mega-shop World of Disney, open to the public for the first time since the resort shut down months ago.</p> <p>While the parks, hotels, and restaurants throughout the resort remain closed, picking up theme park merchandise may scratch that vacation itch and there are still <a href="">plenty of Disney meals</a> to be had throughout Disney Springs. From a <a href="">special Starbucks drink</a> commemorating the reopening to <a href="">waterfront fries</a>, it's a little slice of normalcy, done with <a href="">increased safety precautions</a> and procedures. Early word comes with a recommendation to <a href="">make advanced dining reservations</a> — waits are long, likely due to socially distanced seating and reduced capacity at restaurants — as well as an interesting note regarding grab-and-go food and drinks.</p> <iframe src="" frameborder="0" width="320" height="320" allowTransparency="true"></iframe> <p>Guests are allowed to remove masks while dining, but it's a bit more ambiguous when eating or drinking while walking around the outdoor mall. According to <a href="">Disney Food Blog</a>, "we were informed that — if you have food or drink in hand — you may keep your mask lowered while you eat or drink." (It's worth noting that there are many more food kiosks and "walkable" dining options at Disney Springs than at Universal CityWalk.)</p> <p>I'm unable to check the vibe myself, as I'm quarantining in California, so I'm more than a little curious about how that rule will be enforced when the parks do open, given that I'm usually shoving popcorn in my face whenever I'm on Disney turf. 'Til then, I'll just be watching people dine on fries and frozen wine slushies at my <a href="">favorite Disney Springs restaurant</a> and dream of when I can get back to Orlando in a safe manner.</p> <p><strong>DON'T MISS THIS...</strong></p> <p><a href=""><em>Podcast The Ride</em></a> coined the ultimate theme song for Buena Park — home to Knott's Berry Farm and, as you'll soon learn, the holy waters of Soak City — that's just the thing to get you through the last days of May.</p> <p><strong>TWEET OF THE WEEK</strong></p> <p>YES, this pandemic may have robbed us of the entirety of Spring 2020, but in its place, we have RIDES FOR OUR FOODS!</p> <p><strong>LINKS! LINKS! LINKS!</strong></p> <p>- These <a href="">vintage Universal cups</a> are so legit. (P.S.: they have been <a href="">repeatedly restocking</a>, in case you missed out at first.)</p> <p>- It's official: The NBA is <a href="">officially discussing plans</a> to host official games at Disney World, officially.</p> <p>- If there's one good thing to have come from a pandemic that shuttered our favorite places, <a href="">it's this</a>.</p> <p>- Orange garage? Lime garage? Yes, it's a debate among Disney Springs fans, and <a href="">there's only one right answer</a>.</p> <p>- <a href="">Same</a>. Same, same, same.</p> <p>- Wanna know just how much theme park news there was last week? <a href="">Vice President Mike Pence came to town</a> and it's just a blip on the radar.</p> <p>- <a href="">More details have emerged</a> about the DVC (Disney Vacation Club) tower at Disneyland Hotel.</p> <p>- Universal Studios Japan <a href="">could open soon, too.</a></p> <p>- A perfect recipe for when you <a href="">really, really, really, really want to eat your feelings</a>.</p> <p><em>SYFY and Universal Orlando are properties of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.</em></p> coronavirus Theme Park News Theme Park News Universal Orlando Walt Disney World Games Features syfywire-post-211411 Tue, 26 May 2020 11:00:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Carlye Wisel Critics praise Steve Carell and cast, but say Netflix's Space Force doesn't quite get off the ground <p>Houston, we may have a bit of a problem with <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Space Force</em></a>. The reviews are in for <a href="" target="_blank">Netflix</a>'s government satire (created by <em>The Office </em>vets <a href="" target="_blank">Steve Carell</a> and Greg Daniels) and critics are not floating amongst the stars with ecstasy.</p> <p>Quite the opposite, in fact — many are grounded, unable to achieve liftoff with a show that seeks to lampoon the newly-created sixth branch of the U.S. Armed Services, which is dedicated to conquering the cosmos. And that's the general consensus here: despite a great cast the series' title is only surface deep and the content around it never really feels like a deep enough exploration of the meaty premise.</p> <p>That's not to say that everyone thought<em> Space Force c</em>rashes and burns. There are a few noteworthy elements critics have honed in on like the show's high production values and the always reliable <a href="" target="_blank">John Malkovich</a> (playing the titular program's head science advisor, Dr. Adrian Mallory). In terms of stuff that doesn't quite work, we have the main character, Carell's Mark R. Naird, a four-star general who — according to Entertainment Weekly — inexplicably vacillates between "insufferable buffoon" and "good-hearted guy." Nevertheless, there is some hope that the show can improve on some of its more half-baked elements in a second season if it's renewed.</p> <p>The story kicks off when Naird, hoping to be promoted to head of the Air Force, is instead tasked with establishing Space Force. He and his family are relocated to a remote base in Colorado, where all sorts of wacky hijinks ensue with a collection of colorful and diverse characters. Noah Emmerich, Ben Schwartz, Lisa Kudrow, Diana Silvers, Jimmy O. Yang, John Blandsmith, Tawny Newsome, Don Lake, Jane Lynch, Fred Willard, Patrick Warburton, and Diedrich Bader co-star.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong>Put on your space-suit and see what critics are saying below...</strong></p> <p>"For every glimmer of Carell’s deft timing and empathetic acting, there are several more bewildering character notes that keep Mark, the series’ ostensible anchor, floating out of reach. Given its creative team, it’s not altogether surprising that <em>Space Force</em> is at its best when letting its workplace dysfunction take over." <strong>-Caroline Framke, <a href="" target="_blank">Variety</a></strong></p> <p>"<em>Space Force</em> just isn't close to consistent — especially in the first half of the season, the misses outweigh the hits — and even as it settles into itself a little more, it's hard to buy all the eventual smoothing out of characters and plot lines from that choppy beginning. As star-studded, erratic sci-fi satires from spectacularly talented creators go, <em>Space Force</em> has a lot in common with HBO's maddening <em>Avenue 5</em>. Maybe both shows will work through their kinks by a second season, but don't go into this first set of <em>Space Force</em> episodes without expecting the rough patches." <strong>-Daniel Fienberg, <a href="" target="_blank">The Hollywood Reporter</a></strong></p> <p>"By far the most enjoyable thing about <em>Space Force</em> is John Malkovich, who drapes his weird and languid charisma over every frame he’s in ... The actor is equally exhilarating in Mallory’s more frantic moments, whether screaming about the guy who used to steal his pencils at IBM or barking out the international country code for China. <strong>-Kristen Baldwin, <a href="" target="_blank">Entertainment Weekly</a></strong></p> <p>"Naird’s obstinate, destructive behavior would make<em> Space Force</em> a difficult binge even if all the other elements were perfectly balanced. But too much of it keeps finding new ways to waste the incredible amount of talent and money on display here ... it feels like nobody was ever able to go much deeper than [the] title. And even that might have been OK if Carell and Daniels had remembered the rough genesis of Michael Scott from the first time they worked together." <strong>-Alan Sepinwall, <a href="" target="_blank">Rolling Stone</a></strong></p> <p>"<em>Space Force</em> might fall apart without Malkovich. As the well-spoken, well-reasoned foil to Naird’s blunt-talking, 'when in doubt, drop a bomb' general, everything from Malkovich’s carefully paced elocution to his subtle reactions work in brilliant comedic contrast to his regular scene partner. Together, Carell and Malkovich forge a charismatic pair that could carry even more episodes than they already do, while Malkovich’s Dr. Mallory could certainly stand for more development on his own.<strong> -Ben Travers, <a href="" target="_blank">IndieWire</a></strong></p> <p>"We've been blessed with some truly magnificent TV comedies during the past few years –<em> Fleabag</em>, <em>Atlanta</em>, <em>Barry</em>, and <em>Derry Girls</em>, to name just a few – which makes the job of any newcomer tricky. But while <em>Space Force</em> gives it a good old go, it doesn't reach those starry heights." <strong>-Abby Robinson, <a href="" target="_blank">Digital Spy</a></strong></p> <p>"Carell is so charming you can't help rooting for him even when he's at his most jarheaded. But his character, and in fact most of the characters, could be more sharply defined. There's a reason we remember Michael Scott, Dwight, Jim, Pam and the rest of <em>The Office</em>'s workmates: they're so specific with identifiable traits, wants and frustrations. But after watching the first episode of <em>Space Force</em>, heck, even after the entire first season, it's hard to know who Carell's general actually is." <strong>-Richard Trenholm, <a href="" target="_blank">CNET</a></strong></p> <p>"<em>Space Force</em> is delightfully absurd, a comedic light that comes along at the best possible time. The satire throughout is welcome comedy, poking fun at the notion that the United States government aims to convert soldiers into space-faring crimefighters. Admittedly, the parodies are a little too on-the-nose at times, removing the suspension of reality some might expect while they put on a movie or TV series. Even then, that's something that speaks volumes to the world we live in, rather than to the quality of the programming itself." <strong>-Adam Barnhardt, <a href="" target="_blank"></a></strong></p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> John Malkovich Netflix reviews Space Force steve carell TV News syfywire-post-211416 Tue, 26 May 2020 10:49:36 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss Chosen One of the Day: The Sephiroth chorus in Final Fantasy VII <p>Don’t lie to me — you’ve thought about it. We’ve all thought about it. We’ve all wished for a desperately intense orchestra arrangement to play every time we appear, with a demonic and beautiful chorus of voices crying out our name in staccato beats. </p> <p>No? Just me? </p> <p><em>Final Fantasy VII</em>’s soundtrack is already great, but the track “One Winged Angel” that plays for Sephiroth? In a word? </p> <p><em>Perfection</em>. </p> <p>Around 1 minute and 18 seconds, we finally hear the choir sing it: <em>Seph-i-roth! Seph-i-roth! </em></p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>It’s the ideal accompaniment for a giant, handsome, terrifying JENOVA experiment. In the minute span of time it takes for his name to hammer into your head, he’ll have had ample seconds to slice you to ribbons. The song is just there to remind you who did it if you forget. It was <em>Seph-i-roth! Seph-i-roth! </em></p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>Like everything else for <em>Final Fantasy VII Remake </em>released this year, they remade our wayward antagonist’s song, and I am pleased to report it still as the kids say, <em>bangs</em>. Both the original and the remake are written by the same composer, Nobuo Uematsu, who I believe has a very deep understanding of the Goth-Aesthete. The Remake version is aptly titled “One-Winged-Angel-Rebirth” and it’s about three minutes longer than the original which leaves way more time for horror-horns and suspenseful trills so you know Sephiroth’s about to <em>Seph-i-roth</em> you up. </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="540" height="300" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Square Enix</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Truly, whether he’s a mass of polygons or a hyper-realistic anime-man-come-to-life, Sephiroth knows what it takes to make an entrance and we appreciate that. </p> <p>Someone hire me a demonic choir so I can have this level of energy coming into 2021. <br />  </p> Chosen One of The Day Fangrrls Final Fantasy VII Games syfywire-post-211415 Tue, 26 May 2020 10:30:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Preeti Chhibber One ring (galaxy) to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them <p>It's the kind of galaxy Sauron would love.</p> <p>You've probably seen images of spiral galaxies, and elliptical galaxies, and even weird, distorted irregular galaxies. But have you ever seen a <em>ring galaxy?</em></p> <p>These probably started out as disk galaxies, much like our Milky Way. But then they suffered a direct hit collision with a smaller galaxy, the latter punching right through the middle of the bigger galaxy. The changing gravitational influence of the smaller galaxy as it approaches and leaves creates an expanding ripple in the bigger galaxy, what astronomers call a <em>radially propagating density wave</em>. It sweeps up gas and compresses it, forming an expanding ring of star formation.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="1122" /><figcaption><p>The Cartwheel Galaxy, a relatively close by ring galaxy 500 million light years away. Credit: <a href="" target="_blank">NASA/ESA/Hubble Borne, processed by Judy Schmidt</a></p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>They're rare now, happening in only about 0.1% of disk galaxies in the local Universe. Due to a higher collision rate in the past, it's expected there would be more 10 billion years ago than there are today. But in fact they're rare back then, too. Searches for them haven't turned up many.</p> <p>But a new deep survey of the sky yielded several, <a href="" target="_blank">including one called R5519</a>, which <a href="" target="_blank">turns out to be big, bright, and fairly weird</a>.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="518" /><figcaption><p>Hubble observations of the extremely distant ring galaxy R5519 show it in visible and near-infrared light (left), infrared (middle, with additional image from the Magellan telescope), and also in ultraviolet and visible light (right) which is an indicator of star formation rate. Credit: <a href="" target="_blank">Yuan et al. </a></p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>It's a whopping 10.7 <em>billion</em> light years away, so we're seeing it as it was when the Universe was only 3 billion years old. That right away is interesting; disk galaxies were rare at that time so seeing one this far away is pretty amazing.</p> <p>It's part of a small group of galaxies, and in fact one of them, R5593, may be the culprit bullet galaxy that plunged through the heart of R5519; it has two nuclei (maybe it's merging with another small galaxy) and a protuberance pointing away from the ring galaxy. That could be due to the influence of the gravity of the ring galaxy on R5593, pulling out a streamer of gas and stars in what's called a <a href="" target="_blank"><em>tidal tail</em></a>. That's common during collisions. R5593 is something like 100,000 light years from the ring galaxy now, indicating the collision was something like 40 million years ago.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>The ring is over 30,000 light years across, and is furiously making stars at a rate at least 50 times what the Milky Way does. That's different than the ring galaxies that are nearer to us in the local Universe, which tend to have bigger rings but make stars at a much lower rate.</p> <p>R5519 is also surrounded by a large diffuse disk of stars that's something like twice the size of the Milky Way's disk, and far larger than most other galaxies that are 10 billion light years from us. It's unclear why the ring galaxy would be so different from ring galaxies closer to us, and from galaxies local to <em>it</em>. It really does stand out as an oddball.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="1160" /><figcaption><p>Hoag’s Object is a perfect example of a ring galaxy, about 600 million light years away. Credit: <a href="" target="_blank">NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); Acknowledgment: Ray A. Lucas (STScI/AURA)</a></p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>The collisions that form ring galaxies commonly make two rings, one forming as the bullet galaxy approaches, and the second as it recedes. It's not clear if the ring in R5519 is the first or second one; different methods for determining its age yield results consistent with either. Perhaps further work can help narrow down it age, which in turn will help astronomers understand the mechanics of the collision and its aftermath.</p> <p>The importance of this galaxy is that it tells us about conditions for galaxy formation and evolution when the Universe was much younger. Given that collisions were more frequent back then, why are there so few ring galaxies? The astronomers who observed R5519 posit that there were fewer disk galaxies at the time, and it's also possible there were so <em>many</em> collisions that ring structures were destroyed quickly too. There weren't many small galaxy groups either, and the dynamics of these groups may aid in the formation of rings.</p> <p>Not much is known about ring galaxies more than about a billion light years away from us. This one is <em>much</em> farther than that, so perhaps could help anchor some ideas about how the formation of these bizarre objects changes over time. We're still trying to figure out how disk galaxies form in the first place, and strange examples help show the extremes of what can occur.</p> <p>R5519 may not be the One Ring to Rule Them All (for ring galaxies I'd make that call for Hoag's Object, pictured above), but given how it may help us understand not just ring galaxy formation but also disk galaxy formation as well — like the one we happen to live in — then it really <em>is</em> the "one ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them."</p> Bad Astronomy galaxies galaxy collisions Hubble Space Telescope Science Features Bad Astronomy syfywire-post-211398 Tue, 26 May 2020 09:00:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Phil Plait Diana strays far from home in DC's new YA Wonder Woman graphic novel, Tempest Tossed <p><a href="">DC Comics</a> is adding to the deep mythology of <a href="">Wonder Woman</a> with a dynamic new deluxe graphic novel that finds a teenage <a href="">Princess Diana</a> whisked away from the exotic comforts of home and into vastly unfamiliar territory in the wilds of New York City — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive preview to absorb alongside comments from its talented creative team.</p> <p>Written by <em>New York Times</em> bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson (<em>Speak, Wonder Women in History</em>) and illustrated by Leila Del Duca (<em>Sleepless, Afar</em>), <em>Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed</em> arrives on June 2 and finds the young Amazonian celebrating her 16th birthday and anticipating her long-awaited acceptance into the valiant warrior tribes of Themyscira.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="906" height="1404" /><figcaption><p>Credit: DC Comics</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>However, the gala festivities are suddenly halted when rafts carrying refugees bust through the barrier that separates her island nation from the perils of the outside world. When Diana defies the Amazons in an attempt to bring the disenfranchised strangers to safety, she finds herself engulfed in the tempestuous waves of the ocean and cut off from the only world she's ever known and into a savage land called America.</p> <p>Plunged into a strange realm beyond Themyscira for the first time, Diana grapples with danger and injustice while staying with a Polish family where she aids undocumented immigrants and low-income families, encountering issues such as gentrification, human trafficking, and corruption while redefining what it means to belong, and to be an Amazon.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="940" height="742" /><figcaption><p>Credit: DC Comics</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>"I've adored Wonder Woman since I was 10 years old; I kept a full-size picture of her on my closet door," Anderson tells SYFY WIRE. "Her example gave me the confidence to participate in sports (which my mother hated) and got me reading stories about Greek mythology. I wanted to show the complexity of adolescence power – both when teens feel powerless and when they find their strength. I also wanted to show what the United States looks like to someone who was pure of heart.</p> <p>"Working with Leila was a dream. She took my rough ideas of visuals and elevated them way beyond my imagination."</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="936" height="796" /><figcaption><p>Credit: DC Comics</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Del Duca hadn't seen many versions of Diana with bangs in other iterations of her character, so the artist gave her a bit of a makeover for this project.</p> <p>"Bangs sometimes make people look younger, so I decided to switch up her hairstyle with the hopes of her seeming more teen," Del Duca explains to SYFY WIRE. "In regards to costuming, I wanted to have her wear unassuming clothing, like her fashion sense wasn't fully realized since she didn't have the cultural background or economic option to even purchase things once she started living in the human realm.</p> <p>"Laurie is an amazing writer, and working on her script was so incredibly fun and moving," she adds. "For me, it's a sign of a good project when I end up tearing up while reading and drawing a story — and I teared up a lot on this one! Laurie wrote a story so imbued with meaning, symbology, and heartwarming morals, and I'm so thrilled I got to be the one to draw it. I hope readers gain more empathy towards refugees and immigrants by reading this book. And I hope that people new to American culture find a friend in Diana as she experiences how confusing life can be when first coming to the USA."</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="944" height="768" /><figcaption><p>Credit: DC Comics</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p class="media-element-parent">Now dive into our exclusive 7-page preview of DC Comics' <em>Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed</em> (June 2) in the full gallery below.</p> comic previews DC Comics Interviews Wonder Woman Exclusive Comics News syfywire-post-211409 Mon, 25 May 2020 15:22:03 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jeff Spry Back to the Future Part III is actually the best sequel in the franchise <p><em>Back to the Future Part III</em> gets a bum rap. </p> <p>While the finer points of its narrative were lost on younger audiences when it first came out 30 years ago this week, a recent rewatch in honor of its 30th anniversary reveals it’s arguably the best sequel in the popular series. (Sorry not sorry, <em>Back to the Future Part II.</em>)</p> <p>The final chapter in Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale’s classic time-travel movie trilogy is (no pun intended) a Swiss watch of a script. The engaging story, set in the Wild West, clicks into place like safe tumblers as its intricate structure, brimming with callbacks to key moments and payoffs to events in the first film, finds Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) once again going back to the past in order to ensure his future. Upon initial release, reaction to Part III was somewhat muted and mixed — especially coming off the hoverboard-filled (and more convoluted) box-office hit <em>Back to the Future Part II</em>. </p> <p>While fans have obviously devoted significantly more care space to the first two installments, it’s <em>Part III </em>that comes closest, tonally, to matching and building upon the escapist, summer movie feel of the original 1985 adventure. It’s understandable why legions of fans have revisited the first two films in the <a href=""><em>Back to the Future</em></a> trilogy more often over the years, but that doesn’t mean you should sleep on this underrated threequel. </p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><em>Back to the Future Part III</em> literally picks up where the previous installment left off. An alternate Marty surprises the s*** out of the original film’s 1955-based Doc Brown (<a href="">Christopher Lloyd</a>) — moments after Doc just sent the original Marty back to 1985. After Marty informs Doc he’s come back from the future — one where an evil Biff and self-lacing sneakers reign. From here, <em>Part III</em> hits the ground at 88 mph with a straightforward story that reaches back into 1885 Hill Valley for one last, epic flex of the flux capacitor.</p> <p>Marty’s mission: Find Doc Brown and save him from being “shot in the back over a matter of $80” by Biff’s grandfather, Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen (played by the OG Biff, Tom Wilson). Romance ensues as well, this time for Doc, as Marty comes from 1955 with word of Clara (Mary Steenburgen), a woman Doc hasn’t met yet but, when he does, she will become his true love. The movie that ensues is the love child of what would happen if Zemeckis had a threeway with John Ford’s <em>Stagecoach</em> and H.G. Wells.</p> <p>Streamlined and engrossing, thanks in part to being at ground level with these two effortlessly likable main characters,<em> Part III</em> seems to be a direct response to the criticism that <em>BTTF II </em>was too convoluted for its own good. (Even though these sequels were shot back to back). In fact, <em>BTTF II </em>seemingly dined out on finding new ways to entrap Marty in a series of complex paradoxes involving events of the first film, just so Zemeckis could show off his then-new motion capture and VFX techniques. (The filmmaker has a signature penchant for re-inserting figures into historical events, as he explored with much acclaim in 1994’s <em>Forrest Gump.</em>)</p> <p>Less gimmicky than its predecessor, <em>Back to the Future Part III </em>doubles down on the beating heart of the series, the relationship between Marty and Doc, and gives them satisfying, emotional arcs that tug on the heartstrings in the film’s final moments. Whereas the first two movies were largely Marty stories, Doc takes center stage here. (Doc’s happy ending, where he goes from an eccentric man out of time to one who finally finds where he belongs — in a distant, simpler past he always admired but was born far too late to live in — is truly inspired.)</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="980" height="657" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Universal Pictures</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>The film also closes the time travelers’ loop and literally smashes any hopes audiences have of seeing them break the laws of physics ever again when a train in 1985 crashes into the DeLorean. The time machine that could once fly is now scrap metal. A terrible, burdensome privilege reduced to junk. They leave the door open a crack, however, when Doc, Clara, and their family show up in Doc’s latest invention: a time-traveling locomotive. Even with the hint of more potential adventures in their future, the audience feels satisfied leaving it at this one.</p> <p>It feels like a definitive ending because each character has come to the end of the story they started on thanks to Zemeckis and Gale’s commitment to character-first genre storytelling. This time around, the big emotional stakes are more personal than those of <em>Part II</em>, hovering near the level of those that drove Marty in <em>BTTF</em>. <em>BTTF III</em>’s nods to previous benchmarks in the series, like Marty waking from a “bad dream” to find himself being tended by his mom or her ancestor, or encountering Biff and his goons at a public establishment, they’re more than mere nostalgic needle drops. They are integral beats that underscore how far Marty and Doc have gone, even if their newest adventures subtly echo and reframe key moments from previous ones.</p> <p>ZZ Top’s anachronistic cameo notwithstanding, <em>Back to the Future Part III </em>mostly holds up, thanks to the timelessness of its predominant Western setting and the charming dynamic of its main characters. You can tell Zemeckis and his collaborator, Gale, are as big a fan of westerns as they are of science fiction, especially with their dialogue. Take the scene where Marshall Strickland — an ancestor to Marty’s future high school principal and disciplinarian — faces off against Mad Dog and his posse at the entrance to a soiree. After using his scattergun to force Tannen to relinquish all his firearms before joining the party, Strickland drawls out: “Only party I’ll be smiling at is the one that sees you at the end of a rope.” Both the line and delivery feel like they could be in a classic John Wayne or Clint Eastwood western.</p> <p>But only <em>Back to the Future Part III</em> could mesh the two genres of western and sci-fi together in a way that gives both two of their best entries. The franchise has always been both science fiction and a period piece, but it was a gamble in 1990 to ditch the former and make the movie a full-throated western. That is a tricky feat to pull off, and the filmmakers and cast make it seem effortless. </p> <p>It’s not the stone-cold modern classic <em>BTTF</em> is, or the staple of online fandom that <em>BTTF II</em> became. But <em>BTTF III </em>is that rare threequel that sticks the landing in such a satisfying and rewarding way that, 30 years later, still holds up. </p> <p><em>The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBCUniversal.</em></p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> anniversary Back to the Future opinion Movies Features syfywire-post-211351 Mon, 25 May 2020 13:33:12 -0400 SYFY WIRE James Grebey With its own built-in armor, this prehistoric monster fish had no fear when it came to head-butting its dinner <p>Before there were ever the thunderous footsteps of a brontosaurs or the terrifying teeth of a <em>T. Rex,</em> a monster armored fish existed—and its armor isn’t even the weirdest thing about it.</p> <p><a href=""><em>Titanichthys</em></a> was a behemoth by <a href="">Devonian</a> standards. 380 million years ago, the 16-foot fish ruled prehistoric waters long before anything on land got huge. There’s just one thing. You would probably expect this creature to have teeth as imposing as its size, but unlike some of its fanged and fearsome relatives, it didn’t. So how did it manage to feed? No <a href="">fossils</a> revealing that have emerged until now. Sam Coatham of the Univeristy of Bristol, a postgrad studying paleobiology, decided to instead use an existing <em>Titanichthys</em> jaw fossil to find out. Seems this fish was fierce in its own way. It slammed headfirst into massive amounts of zooplankton to force them into its gaping maw.</p> <p>Maybe you wouldn’t expect an apex <a href="">predator</a> to evolve into a <a href="">megaplanktivore</a> (a deceptively large creature which preferred plankton over larger prey), but it definitely happened.</p> <p>“There is little direct proof … However, we can infer from the rise in diversity of predators with high energetic demands that there was probably sufficient productivity to support relatively complex ecosystems,” <a href="">Coatham said</a> in a study recently published in <a href=""><em>Royal Society Open Science</em></a>. “Consequently, it seems probable that productivity did increase, potentially facilitating the evolution of a giant suspension feeder in the Devonian.”</p> <p><a href="">Suspension feeders</a> lurk underwater, catching floating food such as plankton in their mouths. The way <em>Titanichthys</em> is thought to have devoured its dinner is a type of suspension feeding called <a href="">continuous ram feeding</a>. This involves the predator shoving its open mouth into a mass of prey and catching as much as it possibly can before that prey gets on the move again.</p> <p>Both prey and surrounding water are swallowed into the cavernous abyss beyond its jaws, but was probably a living horror movie for plankton and other micro-creatures that got engulfed. Coatham and his team studied the lower jawbone of <em>Titanichthys</em> and compared it to other extinct and extant species of fish. Next to the bones of fish that went for larger prey, its jaw was determined not to have been strong enough for that.</p> <p>Extant fish closest to <em>Titanichthys</em> include the basking shark and the whale shark, both giant filter feeders that only look as if they would be dangerous to humans. Because <em>Titanichthys</em> is believed to have evolved from earlier durophagous fish, which were able to bite down on prey with hard shells, it is thought to be even closer to the whale shark, which is also believed to have had durophagous predecessors but evolved into a suspension feeder.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1050" height="1200" /><figcaption><p>What Titanichthys probably looked like as it looked for more food to smash its face into. Credit: Mark Witton</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><a href="">This evolution possibly happened</a> after the first trees appeared on land during the Devonian period. Their roots reached deep, affecting the breakdown of rocks with a high silicone content, and the nutrients from soil and rocks would end up being carried into the oceans. This brought on a mass extinction event triggered by the lack of oxygen in the darkest depths, but more nutrients may have been the reason that fish and other creatures that previously fed on prey with shells slowly turned into megaplanktivores.</p> <p>“There are almost certainly other planktivorous species in the fossil record yet to be identified,” <a href="">Coatham said, adding that</a> “The common reduction in stress [and] strain resistance observed here could be used as an indicator of planktivory in such cases where it seems plausible but cannot be identified definitively, due to the absence of fossilized suspension-feeding structures.”</p> <p>So maybe <em>Titanichthys</em> was no <a href="">Jaws</a>, even though it must have looked like nightmare fuel, but that is still some sick armor.</p> Fossils Paleontology Underwater Science News syfywire-post-211405 Mon, 25 May 2020 12:08:22 -0400 SYFY WIRE Elizabeth Rayne TV THIS WEEK: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns; Space Force blasts off; Legends and more <p>The big story this week is one fans have waited a long time to see — <em>Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D</em>. is finally back for its final adventure. The OG Marvel show is still going strong and headed back in time for its last hurrah.</p> <p>Aside from <em>S.H.I.E.L.D.</em>'s return, Netflix's high-profile new comedy <em>Space Force</em>, starring Steve Carell, makes its debut this Friday. The CW has some fresh superhero stuff on tap, including a trippy episode of <em>Legends of Tomorrow</em> that sends the team into various TV shows (yeah, it sounds bonkers), plus a new episode of freshman series <em>Stargirl</em> (which is looking <a href="">pretty great</a>). CBS is bringing the classic adventure action on Sunday with <em>Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade</em>.</p> <p>Digging deeper, Discovery has a special look behind the scenes of the upcoming first U.S. launch of an astronaut in SpaceX's new spacecraft; FX has a new <em>What We Do in the Shadows</em>; HBO has the network premiere of sci-fi-ish flick <em>Lucy in the Sky</em>; TNT has a new <em>Snowpiercer</em>; DC Universe has a new <em>Harley Quinn</em>; SYFY is showing the new <em>Tomb Raider</em> flick; plus a whole lot more.</p> <p>Check out the full rundown below and let us know what you'll be watching on TV this week.</p> <h2>HIGHLIGHTS</h2> <p><strong>NASA & SpaceX: Countdown To Launch (Discovery), Tuesday 10PM</strong></p> <p>Elon Musk and the greatest minds from SpaceX and NASA are on the verge of making space history; behind-the-scenes access reveals how these pioneers dream up and test new technology that will make trips to the moon, Mars, and beyond commonplace.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong>DC's Legends of Tomorrow (The CW), Tuesday 9PM - "The One Where We're Trapped On TV"</strong></p> <p>After Charlie does the one thing that goes against her nature when it comes to her sisters, she tries to protect the Legends by scattering them in different television shows. Of course, in true Legends style, some can't just be blissfully ignorant and happy but figure out a way to end up messing with the system.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong>Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC), Wednesday 10PM - "The New Deal"</strong></p> <p>Coulson and the agents are thrust back in time and stranded in 1931 New York City. The team must find out what happened.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong>Space Force (Netflix), Friday - Season 1</strong></p> <p>Space is ... hard. From the crew who brought you <em>The Office</em>, <em>Space Force</em> premieres May 29 only on Netflix. The series finds a four-star general grudgingly teaming up with an eccentric scientist to get the U.S. military's newest agency ready for liftoff.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong>CBS Night at the Movies: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (CBS), Sunday 8PM</strong></p> <p>Archaeologist Jones (Harrison Ford) rescues his kidnapped father (Sean Connery), and the two race the Nazis to find the Holy Grail.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <hr /><h2>MONDAY</h2> <p><strong>The Titan Games (NBC), Monday 8PM - "The Titan Games Premiere"</strong></p> <p>Season 2 premieres with an action-packed two-hour episode. Host and Executive Producer Dwayne Johnson reveals the competition's new format with regional brackets and the addition of Professional Athlete Titans representing each region. In this episode, competitors from the Central division will compete in a best-of-three competition where the winner will move on to battle a Pro-Athlete Titan on Mt. Olympus, the consummate athletic test of speed, strength, agility, and endurance.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong>Creepshow (AMC), Monday 9PM - "The Companion; Lydia Lane's Better Half"</strong></p> <p>Harry stumbles upon an old scarecrow and accidentally brings it to life; Lydia kills her lover and needs to hide the evidence, but she gets trapped inside an elevator with the body.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <hr /><h2>TUESDAY</h2> <p><strong>Stargirl (The CW), Tuesday 8PM - "S.T.R.I.P.E."</strong></p> <p>After Courtney has an unexpected run-in with a member of the Injustice Society of America, Pat reveals the truth to her about their history. Meanwhile, Barbara is elated when she sees Courtney making an attempt to get along with Pat, not knowing the secret they've been keeping. Finally, things take a dangerous turn at Blue Valley High's open house night when Courtney becomes the target of a dangerous foe.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong>DC's Legends of Tomorrow (The CW), Tuesday 9PM - "The One Where We're Trapped On TV"</strong></p> <p>See more in our "Highlights" section above.</p> <p><strong>NASA & SpaceX: Countdown To Launch (Discovery), Tuesday 10PM</strong></p> <p>See more in our "Highlights" section above.</p> <hr /><h2>WEDNESDAY</h2> <p><strong>The 100 (The CW), Wednesday 8PM - "The Garden"</strong></p> <p>Echo and Gabriel learn more about Hope and her mysterious past.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong>Ultimate Tag (Fox), Wednesday 9PM - "Real Men Do Cry"</strong></p> <p>More taggers are introduced and six new contestants fight it out. J.J., T.J., and Derek Watt host.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong>Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC), Wednesday 10PM - "The New Deal"</strong></p> <p>See more in our "Highlights" section above.</p> <p><strong>What We Do in the Shadows (FX), Wednesday 10PM - "Collaboration"</strong></p> <p>Nandor's old familiar from the 1970s returns to Staten Island, Guillermo leaves to serve a new master, and Nadja and Lazslo revive their musical act.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <hr /><h2>THURSDAY</h2> <p><strong>Blindspot (NBC), Thursday 9PM - "Existential Ennui"</strong></p> <p>When an op goes bad, the team must deal with a proverbial monster in their house before it can take them down one by one. Meanwhile, Director Weitz is forced into a tense game of psychological chess as Madeline Burke attempts to assess his loyalty and root out a potential mole at the FBI.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong>Siren (Freeform), Thursday 10PM - "The Toll of the Sea"</strong></p> <p>In an effort to save Hope, Ryn and Ben confront Tia in an undersea battle between the mermaid tribes. Maddie and Robb work to find a cure for Xander while Helen and the hybrids help restore order. Ted struggles to accept Ben's reality.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <hr /><h2>FRIDAY</h2> <p><strong>Space Force (Netflix), Friday - Season 1</strong></p> <p>See more in our "Highlights" section above.</p> <p><strong>The Vast of Night (Amazon Prime), Friday</strong></p> <p>Amazon picked this buzzy, period-set genre flick up on the film festival circuit. It's set in the 1950s and follows a switchboard operator and radio DJ who stumble upon a mysterious audio frequency that could change their small town and the future forever.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong>Harley Quinn (DC Universe), Friday - "Bachelorette"</strong></p> <p>The ninth episode of the second season of the DC Universe original animated series <em>Harley Quinn</em>, and the 22nd episode of the series overall.</p> <p><strong>Masters of Illusion (The CW), Friday 8PM - "Virtual Magic, Psychic Worms, and Hank Klok"</strong></p> <p>Hosted by Dean Cain, <em>Masters of Illusion</em> features amazing magic performed by cutting-edge illusionists, escape artists and performers displaying skills ranging from perplexing interactive mind magic to hilarious comedy routines — all in front of a studio audience. Magicians featured in this episode include Trigg Watson, Jeki Yoo, Lefty, Krystyn Lambert, Eric Jones, and Hans Klok.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <hr /><h2>SATURDAY</h2> <p><strong>Lucy in the Sky (HBO), Saturday 8PM</strong></p> <p><em>NETWORK PREMIERE</em>: After an awe-inspiring experience in outer space, an astronaut returns to Earth and starts to lose touch with reality in a world that now seems too small.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong>Tomb Raider (SYFY), Saturday 9PM</strong></p> <p><em>NETWORK PREMIERE</em>: Hoping to solve the mystery of her father's disappearance, young Lara Croft embarks on a perilous journey to his last-known destination -- a fabled tomb on a mythical island that might be somewhere off the coast of Japan.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <hr /><h2>SUNDAY</h2> <p><strong>CBS Night at the Movies: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (CBS), Sunday 8PM</strong></p> <p>See more in our "Highlights" section above.</p> <p><strong>Killing Eve (AMC), Sunday 9PM - "Are You Leading or Am I?"</strong></p> <p><em>SEASON FINALE</em>: Villanelle is a psychopathic assassin, and Eve is the woman charged with hunting her down; the two fiercely intelligent women, equally obsessed with each other, go head to head in an epic game of cat and mouse.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong>Snowpiercer (TNT), Sunday 9PM - "Access Is Power"</strong></p> <p>Layton descends into Snowpiercer's black market with Till, searching for both the killer and a valuable commodity for his revolution; Melanie stages a prize fight to distract the passengers from mounting class tension.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong>Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (Showtime), Sunday 10PM - "How It Is With Brothers"</strong></p> <p>Tiago and Lewis interrogate Diego; Adelaide warns Molly about her personal desires; Townsend learns of Kurt's surprising past; Peter Craft makes a decision about his marriage with Linda; Maria tracks down Mateo and pleads with him to come home.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p><strong><em>*TV listing information via TV Guide, Zap2it, network listings.</em></strong></p> DC's Legends of Tomorrow Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Space Force SpaceX Stargirl TV This Week TV Features syfywire-post-211396 Mon, 25 May 2020 10:30:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Trent Moore How did this galaxy emerge from the chaos just 1.5 billion years after the big Bang? <p>Telescopes are time machines.</p> <p>The farther away an object is, the longer it takes its light to get to us, so, in a sense, the farther in the past we see it. The most distant objects we see are so far away that their light took nearly the age of the Universe to reach us, so we see them as they were when the Universe was very young.</p> <p>When we look at very distant galaxies (and therefore as they were when they were just getting started), we see that they are actually galaxy <em>fragments</em>: weird, distorted little things that are still growing. These fragments collide and merge with each other (further distorting their shapes for some time), eventually settling down into majestic elliptical and spiral galaxies like we see today. But, back then, they were still just irregular pieces.</p> <p>Which is why it's so weird that <a href="" target="_blank">astronomers just found what looks like a massive disk galaxy 12.3 billion light years away</a>. In other words, this galaxy already had its act together less than 1.5 billion years after the Universe began! It's the most distant rotating disk galaxy ever seen.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="700" /><figcaption><p>The Wolfe Galaxy seen by the Very Large Array (green, left), which shows diffuse molecular gas, and ALMA (red, right) which shows colder gas and dust, with Hubble observations (blue) as a background for both showing where stars are forming. Credit: <a href="" target="_blank">ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), M. Neeleman; NRAO/AUI/NSF, S. Dagnello; NASA/ESA Hubble</a></p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>The galaxy is called DLA0817g (nicknamed the Wolfe Galaxy, after the late Arthur Wolfe, an astronomer who was an advisor to several of the scientists who did this research), and it was observed with the <a href="" target="_blank">Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array</a>, a collection of dishes in Chile that observe light at much longer wavelengths than the human eye can see. It's sensitive to light emitted by things like singly ionized carbon (that is, carbon atoms missing one electron) and cold carbon monoxide gas, both abundant in galaxies. It can measure the speed that gas is moving (which also tells you the mass of the galaxy), and <a href="" target="_blank">clearly saw evidence</a> of the disk in the galaxy rotating at 270 kilometers per second, about the speed you'd expect for a large, massive, settled galaxy not too unlike our own Milky Way.</p> <p>Hubble observations of the Wolfe Galaxy showed it has regions in it blasting out ultraviolet light, which is a sure sign that lots of stars are forming — some of those stars are very massive, and emit copious UV. The amount implies the galaxy is making stars at a rate of at least 16 times our own galaxy, and it could be far higher (the galaxy is dusty, and that blocks UV light; other indicators imply a star formation rate of over a <em>hundred</em> times the Milky Way's, which is a <strong>lot</strong>).</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="845" /><figcaption><p>A section of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, one small spot in the sky filled with galaxies. Nearly every object in this image is a galaxy. Note how the smallest galaxies are a wide variety of irregular shapes. Credit: <a href="" target="_blank">NASA, ESA, H. Teplitz and M. Rafelski (IPAC/Caltech), A. Koekemoer (STScI), R. Windhorst (Arizona State University), and Z. Levay (STScI)</a></p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Traditional models of how disk galaxies form have a very difficult time producing such a galaxy. In those models gas falls into a forming galaxy, getting very hot, and shapes itself into a roughly spherical object that then cools and settles down into a disk. But that takes a several billion years, far longer than this galaxy has been around. Also, hot gas suppresses star formation, since the gas needs to cool before it can gather itself together to form nebulae and stars.</p> <p>The astronomers who made these observations think that the galaxy grew in size by having <em>cold</em> gas falling into it. Instead of just slamming into the forming galaxy and heating up, it comes in at a rate the galaxy can assimilate, keeping it cooler. This idea has been gaining some traction in the past couple of decades.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-vimeo"><iframe src="" width="640" height="360"></iframe></figure></div> <p>But it has problems, too. Some of the gas may also come in as smaller, gas-rich dwarf galaxies merge with the bigger galaxy, too. But those are typically relatively violent events that heat the gas, making a cold disk hard to maintain. Clearly, there's more to learn about this process.</p> <p>An interesting point about how this galaxy was found: Normally, deep surveys of the sky find the brightest examples of things first, since those are the easiest to find. But in this case the Wolfe Galaxy was found by accident. Astronomers were looking at an even more distant galaxy <a href="" target="_blank">called a <em>quasar</em></a>, and saw that its light was being absorbed by cool gas a little closer to us. They took a look and found that gas was a part of the Wolfe Galaxy. Since the galaxy is relatively faint, that means that there may be many more big, well-formed disk galaxies in the early Universe.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="956" /><figcaption><p>Artwork depicting the Wolfe Galaxy, a massive disk galaxy similar to the Milky Way that was already well formed when the Universe was 1.5 billion years old. Credit: <a href="" target="_blank">NRAO/AUI/NSF, S. Dagnello</a></p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Now the fun part is finding more of them. We'll need a lot more examples to understand all the processes that go into making galaxies like this. Was the Milky Way formed this way too? That would be a very interesting thing to know.</p> <p>When we look into the distant Universe this way, we're seeking the clues to our own past, which will inform us of how we got here. That's one of the biggest questions we have, and I love that we're finding the answers.</p> ALMA Bad Astronomy cosmology galaxies Hubble Space Telescope Spiral Galaxies Science Features Bad Astronomy syfywire-post-211395 Mon, 25 May 2020 09:00:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Phil Plait This is what happens when you use a selfie stick to make a scientific discovery <p>There are many instruments used to make scientific discoveries, from picks and chisels to powerful hi-res electron microscopes. Now that honor can also go to a selfie stick.</p> <p>It wasn’t a typical selfie stick that Russian paleontologist Nikolay G. Zverkov used to get a better angle. While at the Natural History Museum in London, he <a href="">wanted to zoom in closer</a> to the fossil of a 150 million-year-old Late Jurassic <a href="">ichthyosaur</a>, a prehistoric sea monster that resembled a deranged dolphin with bulging eyes and much scarier teeth. <a href="">The skeleton</a> had been in the museum for a century but suspiciously looked like a genus of ichthyosaurs Zverkov recognized. Because the glass case was mounted too high on the wall, he ingeniously attached his digital camera to a fishing rod and captured some photos that made a huge revelation.</p> <p>Because Zverkov had seen eerily similar skeletons in Russia, he pulled this bizarre move to see whether they were really the same extinct creature. After emailing the photos of the fossil to paleontologist and Baylor University doctoral candidate Megan L. Jacobs, she realized its skeletal morphology matched that of ichthyosaurs found in the UK. She and Zverkov were able to prove that the specimen that had been hanging out in the Natural History Museum for so long was actually the same kind of ichthyosaur as the Russian and British specimens. This particular ichthyosaur, <em>Nannopterygius enthekiodon,</em> was thought to be rare until it was found to be much more widespread because of a photo taken with a selfie stick.</p> <p>“Nikoly’s excellent detailed photos significantly expand knowledge of <em>Nannopterygius enthekiodon</em>,” Jacobs said. “Now, after finding examples from  museum collections across the United Kingdom, Russia and the Arctic—as well as several other <a href=""><em>Nannopterygius</em></a> species—we can say <em>Nannopterygius</em> is one of the most widespread genera of ichthyosaurs in the Northern Hemisphere.”</p> <p>Ichthyosaurs (<a href=""><em>Eurhinosaurus</em></a> pictured at top) were one of the fearsome marine reptiles that ruled the oceans for 76 million years. <em>Nannopterygius enthekiodon,</em> the first part of its scientific name literally meaning “tiny wing” in reference to its fins, was about 5 feet long, with its tail taking up half of its body length. This creature thrived in the warm and shallow waters that covered what is now most of Europe. Its sharp teeth were covered in cementum that prevented them from falling out, which explains <em>enthekiodon</em>, or “sheathed tooth.” Those teeth are thought to have clamped down on fish that also lived in the shallows. It must have had no problem chasing them, since its bones revealed it to be a fast, torpedo-shaped swimmer, an ambush predator that shot across short distances to snap up startled prey.</p> <p>Zverkov and Jacobs recently <a href="">published their findings in the </a><em><a href="">Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society</a>,</em> where they state that <em>N. enthekiodon</em> was not nearly as rare as it had been previously assumed to be, and that another species of <em>Nannopterygius, N. borealis,</em> had been unearthed in the process of going through Russian specimens. Both species are related to the much larger ichthyosaur <a href=""><em>Opthalmosaurus</em></a>. This carnivorous beast <a href="">plunged so deep</a> for a meal that some fossils reveal signs of it having suffered from the bends. With saucer eyes that were like night vision goggles, it navigated the eldritch depths of the ocean in search of <a href="">the squid it craved</a>.</p> <p>So next time you go to a museum, remember to bring a selfie stick, because you never know what might be lurking there—even if it’s been dead for hundreds of millions of years.</p> Fossils Paleontology selfies Science News syfywire-post-211399 Sun, 24 May 2020 19:48:47 -0400 SYFY WIRE Elizabeth Rayne Scientists are all abuzz over this rare prehistoric bug fossil found in Utah <p>We all know bugs are the true rulers of modern Earth, and with the<a href=""> biggest biomass </a>of any terrestrial animal, there are nearly 1.4 billion bugs for every person on the planet! <a href="">Insect fossils</a> dating back to the Age of Dinosaurs are exceedingly rare, so when researchers unearthed a bug specimen out of the legendary <a href="">Morrison Formation </a>in Southern Utah, you better believe it elicited a rousing response.</p> <p>A team of <a href="">paleontologists</a> based in Utah and Argentina has identified a 151-million-year-old insect fossil from the famous fossil-rich region of North America that first delivered the skeletons of well-known carnivores and herbivores like Apatosaurus, Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus, and Stegosaurus.</p> <p>Officially named <em>Morrisonnepa jurassica</em> in a new study pubished in the online journal <a href="">Historical Biology</a>, the large fossillized insect is likely a menacing predator related to today's giant water bug, which are known to frequently munch on snails, tadpoles, and salamanders.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="674" height="1024" /><figcaption><p><em>Fossil of Morrisonnepa jurassica along with a modern giant water bug, Lethocerus. Credit: Utah State Parks/Maria Belen Lara et al.</em></p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><em>Morrisonnepa</em> was categorized within the hemipteran insect group <em>Nepomorpha</em> (“true water bugs”) and seems to be a close cousin of the modern family <em>Belostomatidae</em>. Most 21st-century examples have a wicked stinging proboscis close to their mouth and can often be found hunting prey both from the air and underwater in ponds and creeks.</p> <p>Co-author of the research paper, paleontologist John Foster of the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum in Vernal, Utah, reveals that body fossil evidence of the insect fauna of the Late Jurassic in North America is sadly lacking.</p> <p>“We always dreamed of finding actual insect fossils in the Morrison, but until the first report in 2011 there had been nothing,” <a href="">Foster noted</a>. “That report gave us hope, but still, when this specimen appeared under a microscope, mixed in with a bulk batch of unidentified plant fossil material, it was shocking to realize that we were looking at an insect abdomen and wing – and big ones. There are plenty of good plant fossils at this site, so if we luck out and can find more insects too, it’ll be the icing on the cake, as they say.”</p> <p><em>Morrisonnepa</em> was initially discovered back in November 2017 near a dig site in the Late Jurassic-age Morrison Formation in southeastern Utah.</p> <p>This flying insect fossil represents the majority of its abdomen, two portions of the forewing, and what appears to be the head. It's just the second insect body fossil ever discovered from the Morrison Formation in the last 140, making it an exceptionally uncommon find due to bugs having chitin exoskeletons rather than mineralized bones.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="768" height="959" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Utah State Parks/Maria Belen Lara et al.</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>“Most of the information on fossil insects in the United States comes from Carboniferous, Permian (Paleozoic Era), and Triassic (Mesozoic) strata,” lead study author paleoentomologist <a href="">María Belén Lara</a> of the Centro de Ecología Aplicada del Litoral in Argentina explained. “Therefore, this finding is of utmost importance for the country. Also, with this discovery, we can support that the true aquatic bugs of the Jurassic were morphologically similar to their modern counterparts.”</p> <p>This impressive insect fossil is now housed in the paleontology collections at the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum in Vernal, Utah, and the research crew hopes to head back to the site in the near future to track down additional insect specimens.</p> Fossils insects Paleontology Science News syfywire-post-211397 Sun, 24 May 2020 15:44:20 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jeff Spry The Empire Strikes Back's bounty hunter scene perfectly captures what makes Star Wars so great <p>The genius of the worldbuilding of the original <a href=""><em>Star Wars</em></a> trilogy is the balance between telling the audience everything they <em>need</em> to know about the characters, the world in which they inhabit, and the stories surrounding them without telling the audience so much that there’s no room for them to <em>want</em> to know more about it all. From the Mos Eisley cantina to Cloud City, every set piece comes with a sense of wonder that is, when you think about it, extraordinarily difficult to strike from a craft stance. And no scene in the trilogy has exemplified this more clearly than the introduction of the bounty hunters in <a href=""><em>Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back</em></a>.</p> <p>It is, in retrospect, shocking just how short it is, considering its lasting legacy on not only the <em>Star Wars</em> franchise but pop culture at large. In just a hair over 45 seconds, the film establishes an archetype within its universe, propels the plot forward, and introduces the man who will become one of the all-time great icons of the <em>Star Wars </em>saga in <a href="">Boba Fett</a>. Its efficiency in conveying information paired with the immediate allure of the characters it introduces makes for a scene that captures everything that has made the world of <em>Star Wars</em> so alluring for over 40 years now. </p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>When we first glimpse the hunters, who <a href="">Darth Vader</a> summoned to hunt down the <em>Millennium Falcon</em>, they’re on a platform above a crew of Imperial cronies plunking away at interstellar keyboards. One of the Imperials leans over the shoulders of another two and inquires as to why there are bounty hunters aboard and, man, this little exchange is so underrated in terms of the appeal of the characters and the scene itself. He asks why they’re around with the tone of an eternally middle-management goon in an office building whose mediocrity has his boss desperate enough to bring in temps or specialists to get the job done. These dudes are so incredulous, confused as to why their boss has had to bring in a bunch of freelancers to get the job done despite the fact that they are very clearly the reason (as evidenced by the fact that the <em>Falcon</em> is, uh, still on the run).</p> <p>One of them backs away from the computer and turns to face a wall, finding himself suddenly at eye level with ... a pair of clawed lizard feet? The officer reacts accordingly and immediately we cut up to this ant’s-eye view of a lizard man with a gun. Let me repeat: <em>a lizard man with a gun</em>. My dude is spooked, as anyone who finds themselves face to face with the bounty hunter we’ve come to know as Bossk should be. His fellow officer gives him an excuse to leave and he bolts.</p> <p>Admittedly, part of the reason he’s spooked is that Bossk is, you know, <em>a lizard man with a gun</em>, but there’s also this incredible air of menace, from Bossk’s guttural hiss to the perspective provided by the angle of the shot. Bossk literally towers over the officer, conveying a stilted power dynamic. Imperial officers? They’re errand boys in the grand scheme of things. Bounty hunters? They’ll kill you and they’ll pull the trigger themselves.</p> <p>Not to harp on the point, but it’s also worth taking a minute to appreciate the whole “lizard man with a gun” thing. The central appeal of the bounty hunters, as with any great <em>Star Wars</em> side character, is how friggin’ cool they all look. Each has a unique, compelling design (well, most do — Zuckuss and 4-LOM feel a little more interchangeable) that feels like it comes with a history, an entire story you just need to dive into. From IG-88’s eerie, stiff head turn after Vader scolds Boba Fett to THE LIZARD MAN WITH A GUN, they feel so fully formed despite having about 15 collective seconds of screen time. </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="800" height="600" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Lucasfilm</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>There’s also such killer (sorry) simplicity in Vader literally shaking his finger at Boba Fett and telling him, “No disintegrations,” implying not only that there have been previous disintegrations but that Vader is so desperate to get this job done that he has resorted to re-hiring the guy who did those disintegrations. That implicit menace added so much to Fett’s legacy over the past 40 years. When paired with his incredible suit design, it made for a <em>Star Wars </em>icon who, unlike Luke or Vader, thrived in the culture because his mysterious air turned him into something of a blank slate of badassery.</p> <p>While we get some of the backstories (and future escapades) of the hunters in novels, video games, RPGs, and future films in the <em>Star Wars</em> saga, in terms of the main text, that’s it. We get a scene well under a minute that tells us everything we need to know but still leaves us wanting for more. It’s <em>Star Wars</em> worldbuilding condensed into a few quick shots and a half-dozen brilliant character designs. The same ethos of storytelling would go on to be utilized in everything from the prequel trilogy to the <em>John Wick </em>series in the coming decades, though it’s never done as memorably or as effectively as it is when Vader, at his wits' end, resorted to calling in a crew of professionals so frightening that even Imperial guards were left quaking in their boots. </p> <div><figure class="op-interactive audio"> <iframe src="" style="width: 640px; height: 200px; border: 0 none;" width="640" height="200" scrolling="no"></iframe> <audio ><source src="" type="audio/ogg"></audio> <img src=""> </figure></div> Boba Fett Darth Vader opinion Star Wars Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back Movies Features syfywire-post-211349 Sun, 24 May 2020 12:03:21 -0400 SYFY WIRE James Grebey Westworld: Jonathan Nolan and Ed Harris tease the Man in Black's 'rightful damage' in Season 4 <p>There's no telling when we'll get to see <a href="" target="_blank">Season 4 of <em>Westworld</em></a>, especially with <a href="" target="_blank">the pandemic</a> keeping all productions on hold, but that doesn't mean we don't have anything to look forward to.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">The Season 3 finale</a> left fans with one humdinger of a post-credits scene, as William (<a href="" target="_blank">Ed Harris</a>) had his throat slit by an android version of the fan favorite Man in Black (also Harris) controlled by Charlotte "Halores" Hale (Tessa Thompson). It would seem that Dolores Abernathy's (Evan Rachel Wood) plan to take over the world with an army of hosts is indeed coming to fruition, and series co-creator <a href="" target="_blank">Jonathan Nolan</a> is very much looking forward to the bloodbath.</p> <p>"I'm a big believer in being guided by irony, that he winds up becoming this thing that he's controlled for so long," Nolan said during a Zoom-based Paley Center roundtable with the core cast and his fellow co-creator/wife, Lisa Joy. "On a visceral level, I just can't wait to watch Ed kill <em>everyone</em>."</p> <p>"I just gotta say, I was really happy to get back in my Man in Black suit and out of my white suit, which I spent most of the season in," Harris added. "I have no idea what they have planned for me as 'Mr. A.I. Man in Black,' but we shall see. I'm teamed up with Tessa, I know, so hopefully we can do some rightful damage somewhere."</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>The real mastermind here is Charlotte Hale, an extension of "Dolores Prime" who became seriously disillusioned when the latter blew up Hale's family (played by Michael Ealy and Jaxon Thomas Williams) at the end of Episode 6. It's pretty existential stuff, but Thompson kept her cool and relished the chance to play such a multifaceted character that spends much of Season 3 discovering herself.</p> <p>"I loved getting to play all the different Charlottes this season," she said. "Sometimes she's 'Charloes,' sometimes she's 'Halores,' and then by the end of the season, I think she's a whole new thing, which doesn't have a name yet. I'm looking for the fans to send suggestions for what that could be."</p> <p>You should really check out the entire Paley Center call, which involves a great gag from <a href="" target="_blank">Jeffrey Wright</a> (Bernard), who tricked all the participants into thinking his feed was frozen.</p> <p>Seasons 1-3 of <em>Westworld</em> are now available on <a href="" target="_blank">HBO</a>'s various streaming platforms.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> ed harris HBO Jonathan Nolan Tessa Thompson Westworld Westworld Season 3 TV News syfywire-post-211394 Sun, 24 May 2020 11:31:13 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss Laika pits stop-motion characters against each other in animated fight challenge video <p>Zoe Bell's <a href="" target="_blank">Boss B*** Fight Challenge</a> was just the tip of the iceberg, folks. Matched action combat has entered the world of stop-motion animation with a new video from <a href="" target="_blank">Laika Studios</a> — the film company behind <em>Coraline</em>, <em>ParaNorman</em>, <em>The Boxtrolls</em>, <em>Kubo and the Two Strings</em>, and <em>Missing Link</em>.</p> <p>A high-jumping Boxtroll, a small army of plastic cows, a katana-wielding ronin made of silver, and a pair of sentient shoes are just a few of the characters that duke it out in a series of short, interconnected fight sequences. It's impressive when people do these viral fight challenge videos in live action, so just imagine how much time and effort went into making this one.</p> <p>"No one ever said animating was safe," reads the Twitter caption, which asks fans to follow the studio on TikTok. Laika's page on the Vine-like app boasts a collection of behind-the-scenes videos.</p> <p>In the most recent awards season, <em>Missing Link </em>won Best Animated Feature at <a href="" target="_blank">the 77th Golden Globes</a>, but lost out on the equivalent Oscar to Pixar's <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Toy Story 4</em></a>. Despite receiving Academy Award nominations for all of its movies produced so far, Laika has yet to win an Oscar.<em> Kubo</em> racked up a second nod for Best Visual Effects, but lost to Jon Favreau's remake of <em>The Jungle Book</em>.</p> <p>"The films that we’re developing now are really challenging for us as a studio, and really exciting for me personally, because I think they are so unique and so different, unlike anything that anyone else is doing or that we’ve done," Laika CEO <a href="" target="_blank">Travis Knight</a> (also director of <em>Bumblebee</em>) <a href="" target="_blank">told Deadline earlier this year</a>, teasing the company's upcoming projects. "At the same time, we’re recognizing how much the landscape across the industry has shifted, where it effectively isn’t just the theatrical experience any longer, with so many different avenues opening up, including streaming."</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> animation Laika Studios stop motion Movies News syfywire-post-211393 Sat, 23 May 2020 20:43:49 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss Weirder than Star Wars, this dinosaur kind of looked like Jar-Jar Binks with no teeth <p>Gungans don’t exist, except on Naboo, which also doesn't exist, but in a galaxy far, far away from the Empire and the Rebel Alliance, there was once something that could almost pass for that species of alien.</p> <p><a href="">Jar Jar Binks</a> apparently has a cousin who has been extinct for 110 million years. When a peculiar bone was found in a Cretaceous fossil site in the Australian province of Victoria several years ago, it was mistaken as a vertebra from a <a href="">pterosaur</a>. When paleontologists Stephen Poropat and Adele Pentland from Swinburne University recently re-examined it, they couldn’t figure out what type of pterosaur the bone belonged to. The answer was that it wasn’t from a pterosaur at all. It was a relic of an elaphrosaur (literally “light lizard”), which is known to have lived in other areas, but was the very first of its kind ever found in Australia.</p> <p>Elaphrosaurs and pterosaurs both had light, hollow bones, so it was easy to misidentify the fossil. This bone structure was an advantage that boosted elaphrosaurs' speed on land and helped pterosaurs take to the air. What gave away that the vertebra in question wasn’t from a pterosaur was its shape. Unless there is some unknown and deviant subspecies buried out there, all pterosaurs that have been discovered share vertebrae that have sockets at the head and end in some sort of rounded, protruding structure. This vertebra had sockets at both ends.</p> <p>“We soon realized that the neck bone we were studying was from a therapod: a meat-eating dinosaur, related to <em><a href="">Tyrannosaurus rex</a>,</em> <em>Velociraptor,</em> and modern birds,” says Dr Poropat. “The only catch—this ‘meat-eating dinosaur’ probably didn’t eat meat!”</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="791" /><figcaption><p>What an elaphrosaur supposedly looked like. See the distant resemblance to Jar-Jar? Credit: Ruairidh Duncan</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Elaphrosaurs wouldn’t have been out of place on Naboo. Their long necks and lightweight build allowed them to evade predators, and while their head shape wasn’t too unlike Jar Jar’s—sans the bulging eyes—they had toothless gums that wouldn’t have been able to imitate that borderline scary grin of his. While these therapods were related to mostly carnivorous dinosaurs, but obviously couldn't eat meat without teeth. Even stranger is how fossilized skulls of other elaphrosaurs have revealed that this dinosaur <a href="">would hatch</a> with teeth but eventually lose them and grow a horny beak instead. They were not only missing teeth, but barely had arms. What could pass for arms were two stumpy limbs with even tinier hands. They make T. rex look like it had a reach.</p> <p>Another strange factoid about the Victoria elaphrosaur is that it didn’t live in what was supposed to be its stomping grounds or during the stretch of time most of its relatives were alive. Until now, elaphrosaur fossils have surfaced in South America, Africa, Madagascar, and India, but never in Australia. Most elaphrosuars and their relatives, such as the Chinese Limusarus, lived much earlier, around 160-145 million years ago, during the late Jurassic. The Victoria specimen is the second-youngest member of its group and one of just two known elaphrosaurs that ran around during the Early Cretaceous. While no skull has appeared yet for this particular one, the Swinburne team is holding on to the image of it as a toothless reptilian freak for now.</p> <p>So what if Gungans have longer arms? The near-polar location of the site where the fossil was unearthed suggests elaphrosaurs could survive more extreme temperatures. Jar Jar may be amphibious, but would he be able to stand the cold? Meesa no think so.</p> dinosaurs Fossils jar jar binks Paleontology Movies Science News syfywire-post-211392 Sat, 23 May 2020 19:47:59 -0400 SYFY WIRE Elizabeth Rayne Dick Hallorann's death in The Shining is both a WTF moment and tragically inevitable <p>The death of Dick Hallorann in Stanley Kubrick's <em><a href="">The Shining</a> </em>is one of the great <a href="">WTF</a> head fakes in horror film history. It’s also one of the most infamous instances of the racist trope in which black people in horror are murdered to add excitement and pathos to the plight of white victims. And it’s a bleak, toothy acknowledgment of the racism of the looming white monster that is Hollywood, and the United States. In <em>The Shining</em>, which turns 40 today, May 23, this ugly history of the industry and the country is turned into a magnificently orchestrated — and queasily inevitable —  jump scare. </p> <p>Dick is the chief chef at the Overlook Hotel in the Colorado mountains; he's also got psychic powers. He's wintering in Florida when he gets a mental distress call from Danny Torrance, the young, also-psychic son of the Overlook's winter caretaker, Jack. Jack has been possessed by the malevolent spirits of the hotel, and <a href="">as he sinks into feral homicidal madness</a>, Dick heads to the rescue. He catches a plane from Florida, drives across Colorado, and rents a snowcat to take him over the snowed-in road in the middle of a terrifying storm. He's arrived! Danny and his mom Wendy are safe!</p> <p>And then just about as soon as Dick gets into the Overlook, Jack leaps from behind a corner and buries an ax in his heart.</p> <p>The <a href="">scene itself</a> is a masterpiece of sound design and visuals. Dick enters the Overlook as you hear the wind blowing distantly outside, a faint whistling that makes the hotel feel even more empty and silent. Dick, played by Scatman Crothers, walks down the Overlook's cavernous, dimly lit hall, dead center in the screen, his feet making a soft <em>thunk-thunk</em> on the tiled floor. His back is to the viewer as he shuffles tentatively away; he looks awkward and vulnerable in his bulky coat.</p> <p>"Anybody here? Anybody here?" he calls repeatedly, his voice echoing slightly. Then Jack Nicholson leaps from behind a pillar with a sharp howl, and as the ax sinks in, the soundtrack disgorges a scraping, hideous theme from composer Krzysztof Penderecki. Dick cries out in pain, and Danny, hidden away in the hotel, starts to scream, too, his shrieks indistinguishable from the music. The images cut from Danny's open mouth to Dick's agony, to Jack, whose tongue protrudes from his mouth. His face is a mask of gleeful concentration as he twists the ax in the wound.</p> <p>Dick's death is the sole murder in <em>The Shining</em>, and part of its power is the way it's both a shocking twist and an inescapable climax. You think Dick is going to right the wrongs of the Overlook right up until that terrible, bloody moment when you know he won't. But once you know his fate, his long trip across the country seems, in retrospect, like a journey to the ax — you suddenly realize that sharp-edged doom that has been swinging throughout the movie.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>It's not just fate that has come for Dick. It's prejudice. In the original Stephen King novel, Jack wounds Dick, but the cook survives, and escapes from the hotel with Danny (Danny Lloyd) and Wendy (Shelley Duvall). But horror films, in general, are unkind to black people, and that was especially true of those released during the '80s. As the site BlackHorrorMovies <a href="">succinctly explains</a>, "black actors and actresses are ... systematically relegated to supporting roles in the Hollywood system, and in horror movies, supporting roles equate to dying roles."</p> <p>In other words, white people are the heroes; black people are not. So black people die.</p> <p><em>The Shining</em> only really has four major roles in it: Jack, Wendy, Danny, and Dick. Of these, Dick is the least important and gets the least screen time. He's there mostly to provide exposition, and explain to Danny and the audience how psychic powers work. The white family is the focus of attention. Dick, who — in line with a long, racist tradition of black people on screen — seems to have no family of his own, is just there to help the Torrances. So it's natural that Kubrick decided to sacrifice him to build suspense and up the stakes. That's what happens to black people in horror films.</p> <p>Even by the standards of horror films, though, <em>The Shining</em>'s racism feels particularly deliberate and premeditated. As Dick makes his way toward the Overlook, one of the ghosts in the hotel warns Jack the cook is coming. As they talk about Dick, they both repeat the n-word over and over, rolling it over their lips with almost sensuous bile. Jack is outraged that his son has called a black man for aid. His baffled anger is of a piece with his rage at Wendy when he accuses her of sabotaging his career because she wants to get medical care for their sick son. The Overlook looks into Jack's soul, and what it sees there is spittle-flecked self-pity and white male entitlement. Jack, in his own mind, deserves to be a success; he deserves to be a great novelist. He hasn't been able to fulfill his destiny. Some woman, some black man, some child, must pay. </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="700" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Warner Bros. </p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><em>The Shining </em>is about the evils of abusive white men. But it's also a celebration of those evils. Jack is, after all, the film's main character, and Nicholson, eyebrows flexing with cheerful malevolence, gives the movie its most memorable performance. The grandiose, beautiful Overlook, with its ghosts, is a metaphor for Kubrick himself. They both magisterially orchestrate horrific images. Dick even tells Danny the ghosts are "just like pictures in a book" — or he could have said, just like pictures on a screen. Kubrick's formal mastery is also a kind of cold, sadistic control. He, and the Overlook, and Jack have got you. The film closes like a trap.</p> <p>Dick's death is plotted by both the hotel and the movie, which makes the hotel a kind of metaphor for Hollywood, that industry which schemes constantly to kill people who look like Scatman Crothers. You can almost hear <a href="">Jordan Peele</a> yelling to poor Dick, back through the decades, <a href="">"Get out!"</a> But the doomed chef doesn't listen, his psychic senses useless against the force of Hollywood tropes. Someone needs to be sacrificed for horror; someone's corpse has to be the foundation for this great edifice. The hotel, like the movies, is a massive puppetmaster of death. It takes up Dick and takes up the ax. It brings them together from vast distances so they can be joined in an inevitable red marriage, giving birth to that terrifying scream.</p> <p><em>The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBCUniversal.</em></p> opinion stanley kubrick Stephen King The Shining WTF Moments Movies Features syfywire-post-211323 Sat, 23 May 2020 15:06:42 -0400 SYFY WIRE James Grebey When Marvel Comics had to go beyond The Empire Strikes Back (but not too far) <p>Imagine an ongoing comic-book series in which the main hero can never battle the main villain, and can have no romantic involvement with the female lead — the only woman in the regular cast; one of the most popular characters becomes unavailable for years; and the immensely talented writer/editor who has been at the helm for most of the run decides to leave. You might think that series was doomed. In many cases, you’d be right. But in 1980, when the monthly <em><a href="">Star Wars</a> </em>title published by <a href="">Marvel Comics</a> ended up in that very situation, not only did it confront those significant creative challenges successfully, it actually thrived. </p> <p>The series had been around since early 1977, launched by writer/editor Roy Thomas and artist Howard Chaykin with a six-issue adaptation of the original movie. Thomas and Chaykin then crafted a new storyline focusing on Han Solo and Chewbacca that ran in Issues #7-10, after which both men departed. Writer/editor Archie Goodwin and artist Carmine Infantino took over with Issue #11.</p> <p>Goodwin, who died in 1998, was unquestionably one of the best writers and editors ever to work in the comic book industry. He guided Marvel’s <em>Star Wars</em> series through a long run of stories that expanded the universe, introduced new characters and concepts, and planted seeds for the then-upcoming second movie, <a href=""><em>The Empire Strikes Back</em></a>. For example, Goodwin and Infantino showed, in Issue #35, how Darth Vader learned of Luke Skywalker’s existence. </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1000" height="563" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Marvel/Lucasfilm</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Once the series reached its 45th issue, however, it had to deal with the aftermath of the second movie. The Marvel adaptation of <em>Empire</em>, written and edited by Goodwin and illustrated by Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon, ran in Issues #39-44. Like the movie, the comic version left the characters — not to mention the audience — reeling, what with Vader declaring that he is Luke’s father, Han frozen in carbonite and taken away by Boba Fett for delivery to Jabba the Hutt, Luke losing his hand and getting a cybernetic replacement, and Leia professing her love for Han (does she really love him, or will she end up with Skywalker after all?). The comic was left in a unique — and unenviable — place. It couldn’t resolve any of those dangling plot threads, as the next movie would do that. But the comic couldn’t just spin its wheels for the next three years, either. Goodwin was the ideal person to write the series during this uncertain time.</p> <p>But that was the moment Goodwin stepped down, to focus on his duties as editor of Marvel’s brand-new magazine, <em>Epic Illustrated</em>. Incoming editor Louise Simonson (Louise Jones at the time) had her work cut out for her. Goodwin stuck around for a little while, contributing a handful of stories over the next six months, including the special double-sized 50th issue. During this period, he presented a Luke Skywalker who was just as unsure as the audience was about whether Vader was telling the truth about his father. As Luke himself noted in Issue #45, the idea that Ben Kenobi had misled him was “unthinkable.” (In that same issue, Goodwin also inserted something of a continuity conundrum: He showed Luke somehow reunited with his lightsaber, which of course Skywalker lost when Vader chopped off his hand. Luke would continue to use this lightsaber in subsequent issues.)</p> <p>During this time, J.M. DeMatteis, Larry Hama, and Mike W. Barr each contributed a one-shot tale to keep the series going as editor Simonson looked for a new regular writer. The one constant was Infantino, whose storytelling was always beyond reproach — though to <em>Star Wars</em> purists, he never drew the characters to look like the actors who played them, and never depicted the ships, weapons, and technology the way they appeared on film. When Williamson and Garzon produced the <em>Empire</em> adaptation, they made a concerted effort to capture the look and feel of the live-action incarnation, marking a major shift in the art style of the comic. A new standard had been set, and Louise Simonson made it a priority to meet that standard regularly.</p> <p>“I knew what Lucasfilm liked, and what they really liked more than anything else in the world was Al Williamson’s artwork,” she says. “But it was impossible for us to get Al [as the regular artist] because he was very slow — there was just no way. So I did the best I could to make the book look that good.”</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="966" height="1486" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Marvel</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>To that end, with Issue #49 she brought on penciler Walter Simonson, her husband, who was then well on his way to becoming one of the most popular artists in the industry, and paired him with inker Tom Palmer. With his photorealistic inking style and talent for capturing likenesses and technical accuracy, Palmer played a key role in helping Louise Simonson achieve her vision for the series. “Tom was great,” she says. “You could have done stick figures and he would have turned it into something genius.”     </p> <p>With Issue #51, the series had a new regular writer, David Michelinie. “I was a huge <em>Star Wars</em> fan,” he says. But coming aboard turned out to be a bigger challenge than he had anticipated. Given the end of <em>Empire</em>, the Marvel team was faced with the following rules from Lucasfilm: Luke and Vader could never come face to face; Luke and Leia’s relationship could not progress in any way; Han, Boba Fett, and Jabba were off limits (though Han did appear, via flashback, in Issue #50 and 1982’s <em>Star Wars Annual</em> #2); Luke could not further his Jedi training; and Yoda and Kenobi could not appear (aside from a dream sequence in Issue #50).</p> <p>Nevertheless, the new team aimed to start off with an ambitious two-parter — only to cause Marvel to get a rare rejection notice from Lucasfilm. The proposed storyline involved the Empire building a second Death Star, without the design flaw that allowed Luke to destroy the original. According to Louise Simonson, Lucasfilm’s response was “You can’t do that. We can’t tell you why, but you can’t do it.”</p> <p>Michelinie saw the rejection as a major clue. “When the idea of creating a second Death Star was bumped, I was kind of like, ‘Cool! Guess what’s going to happen in the next movie?’ I kind of enjoyed that,” he says.</p> <p>The team’s solution: Have the Empire build what was basically a giant cannon in space that could blow up planets. Lucasfilm approved. “We did exactly the same story we would have done, except we called it the Tarkin — it was really a Death Star, without a circular cover,” Walter Simonson says.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1152" height="1696" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Marvel</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>One of the main highlights of the Tarkin story was a sequence in which Luke and Vader almost cross paths and Vader displays just how powerful he is when an airlock opens behind him and he is nearly sucked out into space. The airlock, incidentally, was opened intentionally by one of Vader’s own men, in retaliation for all of the Imperial officers Vader executed during <em>The Empire Strikes Back</em>. </p> <p>Under Michelinie and Simonson, the series moved forward and gained momentum, as it had under Goodwin. “It was kind of like going on side streets,” Michelinie says. “I figured, as long as all the streets came back into the main drive when the next movie came out, I could move a little bit to the side as we were going along the road.” </p> <p>The creative restrictions drove them to be more original and innovative. With Vader limited to rare appearances — he only showed up twice during the 18 months that Michelinie served as writer — there was an emphasis on introducing new villains and threats. The Rebels faced a variety of ambitious Imperial officers, strange malevolent alien creatures, and merciless slavers. The search for Han was put on hold, under the rationale that the Rebels needed all available personnel (and ships) as they searched for a new location for their main base of operations. That brought Lando Calrissian and Chewie back into the fold on a regular basis, allowing Lando to develop a relationship with each of the original cast members. When the search for Han finally resumed (in Issue #68), bounty hunters — including the ones seen briefly in <em>Empire</em> — became a recurring threat. Leia even encountered someone who at first appeared to be Boba Fett, but turned out to be an old colleague of his, named Fenn Shysa.</p> <p>Micheline and Simonson created the illusion of change — things seemed to happen, the characters appeared to grow in new ways, but nothing was done that could interfere with or contradict anything in the next movie. For example, Luke and Leia appeared to grow closer and more affectionate, but there was nothing romantic about it unless a reader really wanted to see it that way. The Rebels established a new base on the planet Arbra, where they joined forces with small, telepathic, rabbit-like creatures called hoojibs.</p> <p>Most significantly, Luke began a relationship with a female Rebel pilot named Shira Brie, which aroused misgivings in Leia and ultimately led to disaster when Shira’s ship was blasted to pieces. And Luke, guided by the Force, was the one who fired the shot. This launched the popular “Luke Skywalker: Pariah” saga that ran through Issues #60–63. Believed by a growing number of Rebels to have killed Shira out of carelessness or even malice, Luke found himself essentially shunned, and began to doubt himself and the Force. The disaster even tested the strong bond between him and Leia. So Skywalker began a personal quest to learn the truth and determine if he could ever trust in the Force again, leading him to seemingly fall right into the clutches of Darth Vader.  </p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="340" height="397" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Marvel</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>“That storyline really played with the characters,” Michelinie says. “Did the Force really betray Luke? I was able to stretch the subplots over several issues, and I think it paid off well.” </p> <p>Walter Simonson also considers the storyline a high point. “I wanted to push the ‘Pariah’ story at least an issue or two longer!” he says.</p> <p>The series experienced another major shakeup when Walter Simonson left with Issue #66 to focus on other projects. Michelinie departed three issues later. Louise Simonson turned to Jo Duffy, who had previously written Issue #24 — a tale of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the days of the Old Republic — to take over as writer. Duffy was paired with artist Ron Frenz, a relative newcomer at the time, who had already penciled Issue #67. Palmer remained as the inker to help maintain the distinctive, rich, cinematic look and visual accuracy that the series had achieved. </p> <p>Issue #71 began a long storyline that planted the seeds for <em>Return of the Jedi</em> but also took the series in new directions. One of Duffy’s first accomplishments was to kick the search for Han into high gear, sending Luke, Leia, Lando, Chewie, and the droids across the galaxy to investigate various leads. This coincided with the search for a pair of missing Bothan spies who disappeared while trying to bring to the Rebels stolen information about the Empire’s latest super-weapon. (Guess what it is.)</p> <p>In a bit of déjà vu for the series, Duffy and Frenz had the same experience on one of their first stories that Michelinie and Simonson had with their “second Death Star” tale. For Issue #73, the cast was supposed to visit a world populated by small, furry creatures, called Lahsbees, who used primitive hang gliders for transportation. Lucasfilm demanded extensive changes to the creatures, but wouldn’t say why. Of course, Duffy and Frenz had inadvertently anticipated the Ewoks. “I couldn’t figure out why Lucasfilm gave me such a hard time about the Lahsbees — until I saw the script for <em>Return of the Jedi</em>,” Duffy says.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="409" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Marvel</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>“In the initial design of the Lahsbees, they were sort of gremlin-like, with really wide eyes,” Frenz recalls. “They ended up being very feline-like in the printed book. It was funny — Lucasfilm had to tell us how to fix them without giving too much away, because they didn’t want information to get out about the Ewoks. And they freaked out about the hang gliders.”</p> <p> Duffy, like Michelinie before her, also seized the opportunity to further develop Lando, far more than the movies ever did. Despite his superficial similarities to Han, Calrissian was shown to be more egotistical, more stylish, and possessing an even greater potential for comedic moments.</p> <p>“Lando was a riot,” Duffy says. “Heroic, tough, dedicated — and also kind of conceited, and that makes it really fun to set him up and knock him down a peg. I had a great time with him.”</p> <p>Duffy could also adopt a darker, more serious tone, as she did in Issue #80, in which Luke, Leia, and C-3PO search for one of the missing Bothan spies at an Imperial stronghold. There they encounter the spy’s droid, LE-914, with whom C-3PO establishes something of an emotional bond before the story comes to a tragic conclusion — one that demonstrates the depths of Darth Vader’s cruelty and leads directly into <em>Return of the Jedi</em>.</p> <p>With that issue, the post-<em>Empire Strikes Back</em> era of the comic series was officially over. Despite the creative restrictions placed upon them, the Marvel team managed to produce a satisfying body of work that stands as the connective tissue for two of the most beloved movies of all time.</p> <p>“It was difficult trying to maintain interesting stories that tied in with the movies without actually moving either the characters or the situations any way but sideways,” Michelinie says. “But it was a fun challenge.”</p> <p>-------</p> <p><em>Marvel’s complete 1977-1986 run of </em>Star Wars <em>comics is currently being reprinted in the trade paperback series </em>Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Original Marvel Years<em>.   </em></p> <p><em>This article is dedicated to the memory of Charles Lippincott (1939-2020), who brought </em>Star Wars <em>to Marvel in the first place. </em></p> Interviews Marvel Star Wars Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back Movies Comics Features syfywire-post-211355 Sat, 23 May 2020 13:08:07 -0400 SYFY WIRE James Grebey Why are black holes surrounded by a haze of eerie clouds, and do they eat them? <p>Whatever you thought you knew about clouds as those white fluffy things in the sky is about to be destroyed.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Supermassive black holes</a> are surrounded by strange clouds. These clouds are actually outflows of gas that somehow escape the gaping maw of a <a href="" target="_blank">black hole</a> and end up clumping around it, which is more proof that even these cosmic monsters don’t devour everything in sight. Some material that ventures closer and closer to the dreaded event horizon ends up getting flung far out instead of vanishing forever (though there are scientists who may question “forever”). UNLV doctoral student Richard Dannen and his research team have now shed light on why these clumps occur deep in the vacuum of space.</p> <p>"This work is important because astronomers have always needed to place clouds at a given location and velocity to fit the observations we see from [supermassive black holes],” Dannen said (via <a href="" target="_blank">UNLV's news center</a>). “They were not often concerned with the specifics of how the clouds formed in the first place, and our work offers a potential explanation for the formation of these clouds."</p> <p>Dannen, whose team recently published <a href="" target="_blank">a study in <em>Astrophysical Journal Letters,</em></a> created a computer model that demystifies how these clouds supposedly form. Heat gets really intense near a supermassive black hole, which allows for superfast plasma outflows that still aren’t too fast to form clumps. Gas that escapes the event horizon too fast will not have the time to cool into space clouds. The model was designed to look into the outer shell of the clumps, which takes thousands of years to accumulate. Turns out that there is a disturbance near that shell that lowers gas density and lets the gas heat up and lifts out colder gas further away.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="985" height="985" /><figcaption><p>Credit: NASA</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>“One of the main mechanisms that could drive mass outflows on parsec scales in active galactic nuclei (AGN) is thermal driving,” Dannen explained in the study. “The same X-rays that ionize and heat the plasma are also expected to make it thermally unstable.”</p> <p>These outflows were previously expected to be smooth, but have now been found to form in clumps, some of which are more than 1 parsec (3.3 light years) wide. The team’s research, supported by NASA, involved creating digital versions of clumpy cosmic wind by simulating outgoing gas that has been exposed to the black hole’s extreme radiation. They were able to prove that previous studies couldn’t confirm the existence of these clumps for several reasons. Sometimes there wasn’t enough radiation for plasma to enter the zone where it would become thermally unstable. Other models showed that gas would accelerate at a speed that allowed it to stretch and stabilize once it was in that zone, or that it would zoom through space too fast for clumps to form.</p> <p><a href="">Lurking in the center of every galaxy</a> is a supermassive black hole. Those that feed ravenously on the gas and dust around them are also known as active galactic nuclei, extremely dense objects <a href="">at least</a> 100,000 times more massive than the Sun. <a href="" target="_blank">Quasars</a> are the brightest type of active galactic nuclei, flashy enough to overpower all the stars in their galaxies while releasing more energy than that of a hundred average galaxies. Sometimes these beasts end up surrounded by more material than they could possibly eat. While the event horizon is the point of no return, it is so energetic that when fast-moving particles around it produce high-energy radiation, it can fling out plasma up to several light years from the black hole they evaded.</p> <p>There are still more questions floating in the cosmos. What happens beyond the gaseous shell? Does that gas escape from the black hole’s accretion disc? Why do some of these clouds take off at 20 million miles an hour? That should keep you awake at night.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive audio"> <iframe src="" style="width: 640px; height: 200px; border: 0 none;" width="640" height="200" scrolling="no"></iframe> <audio ><source src="" type="audio/ogg"></audio> <img src=""> </figure></div> Black Holes clouds supermassive black holes Science News syfywire-post-211368 Fri, 22 May 2020 20:40:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Elizabeth Rayne An AI built Pac-Man from the ground up just by watching people play Pac-Man <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em>Pac-Man</em></a>, one of gaming's most <a href="" target="_blank">recognizable and influential classics</a>, is turning 40 this year. With such a legacy, the Bandai Namco game solidifies its place as one of the arcade's longest-lasting offerings — a game so familiar and accessible that anyone could figure out how to play. Or, if you happen to be an advanced piece of artificial intelligence, figure out how to program the game.</p> <p>That's what happened when Nvidia Research gave its GameGAN (which relies on Generative Adversarial Networks) 50,000 videos of people racing through the various mazes and chomping the various dots/pellets of <em>Pac-Man</em>. Just from watching these videos of people playing the arcade classic, the GameGAN figured out how the game works, well enough to make its own version.</p> <p>If you think deepfakes are scary, just try watching an AI reverse-engineer software simply by observing it:</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> <p>That's some hacking the Matrix business right there.</p> <p>Writing on the <a href="" target="_blank">Nvidia blog</a>, Isha Salian explains that the GameGAN's version of the game — made without the AI ever seeing a line of code — is possible because, using "two competing neural networks, a generator and a discriminator, GAN-based models learn to create new content that’s convincing enough to pass for the original."</p> <p>“This is the first research to emulate a game engine using GAN-based neural networks,” said NVIDIA researcher and project lead Seung-Wook Kim. “We wanted to see whether the AI could learn the rules of an environment just by looking at the screenplay of an agent moving through the game. And it did.”</p> <p>The AI learned the rules, created the maze and characters (blurry as they may be, which is par for the course of AI-generated images), and made a human-playable version of the game using images and keystroke information.</p> <p>Now the floodgates are open to how the gaming world — and beyond — will be able to use this technology. Making a video game that dominated the '80s is one thing, but these GANs could function as simulators for all sorts of gaming environments ... as long as they could watch enough work in those virtual spaces to understand how they work. It might not happen anytime soon, but the top games every year may eventually consist of many key AI-created elements.</p> <p>GameGAN was created by Kim, NVIDIA’s Toronto research lab director Sanja Fidler, researcher Jonah Philion, University of Toronto student Yuhao Zhou, and MIT professor Antonio Torralba. Nvidia plans to release its AI-developed <em>Pac-Man</em> later this year.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> ai Artificial Intelligence Pac-Man Games News syfywire-post-211359 Fri, 22 May 2020 19:05:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jacob Oller Look of the Week: Natalie Dormer's Penny Dreadful shape-shifting style <p>Welcome back to <a href="">Look of the Week</a>, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!</p> <p>John Logan's <em>Penny Dreadful</em> spinoff switches from gritty London at the turn of the century to Los Angeles in 1938, offering up horrors in a sun-drenched city that is ready to ignite. As shape-shifting chaos demon Magda, Natalie Dormer is the supernatural antagonist at the heart of <a href=""><em>Penny Dreadful: City of Angels</em></a>, whispering into the ears of men who need little encouragement to light the spark. Racial tension is threatening to envelop not just Los Angeles but the world — which is on the precipice of a world war — and Magda weaves a path of destruction wherever she goes. The original <em>Penny Dreadful</em> excelled in the wonderfully macabre <em>and</em> stunning costumes, and this follow-up is keeping with the sartorial strengths via Magda sowing seeds of discontent in different guises.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1200" height="800" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Showtime </p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>The primary story arc follows LAPD's first Chicano detective Tiago Vega (Daniel Zovatto) and his Jewish partner Lewis Michener (Nathan Lane) as they investigate what looks to be a racially motivated murder; however, there is more to this grisly tableau than meets the eye. Man may be doing a lot of the legwork in pouring gasoline on a volatile situation, but Magda is encouraging this behavior in a variety of aliases — from a troubled German immigrant with an abusive husband to a political secretarial aid subtly pushing her nefarious agenda. Distinct costumes separate the four characters Dormer inhabits, ranging from a to-die-for black leather power-shoulder gown to a closet packed with delicate baby blue tea dresses. Magda's overall endgame seems set on destroying L.A. from within (and providing the Third Reich with a US base of operations) and her wardrobe is part of the vast arsenal at her disposal.</p> <p>The first episode opens with literal light and dark imagery. Magda's signature leather (or rather pleather) gown is shark-like in its moments, gliding through the field with a trail of flames behind her. "Are you ready, sister? I'll give you many souls," she tells the white lace-clad Santa Muerte (Lorenza Izzo) as they look on at the unsuspecting humans Magda is about to slaughter. The scene serves as a representation of the two sides of death; Santa Muerte safely guides the deceased to the afterlife, whereas Magda revels in chaos and violence.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1200" height="800" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Showtime</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Crafting four distinct characters (as well as the rest of the cast and hundreds of background actors) is a challenge costume designer Christie Wittenborn rose to. Magda's goth girl aesthetic is not bound by the 1930s period that dictates what Elsa, Alex, and Rio wear. Each persona plays a role in corrupting the men around her, using different aspects of femininity and assimilation to get the desired result. Elsa, for example, must appeal to fellow German ex-pat Dr. Peter Craft (played by <em>Penny Dreadful</em> alum Rory Kinnear) who is the head of the American German Bund and wears the swastika with pride.</p> <p>Blonde curls and an array of Peter Pan-collar pastel frocks and a demure beach cover-up help catch the doctor's eye. "This incarnation of Elsa is Aryan ideal made flesh," is how the designer <a href="">described this look to <em>Variety</em></a>, which taps into the racist ideology Dr. Craft subscribes to.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1200" height="800" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Showtime </p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Dormer often portrays characters possessing a duality, whether it is playing not one but two iconic Sherlock Holmes figures in <em>Elementary</em> or the schoolmistress with a secret past in the 2018 TV adaptation of <em>Picnic at Hanging Rock</em>. Even as Margaery Tyrell in <em>Game of Thrones</em> she switched between kind and manipulative, going toe-to-toe with Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) — and failing spectacularly.</p> <p>Playing sweet, sultry, and devious are all aspects Dormer has wielded with aplomb in the past, but in <em>Penny Dreadful</em> she takes the chameleon charm to new levels, and what she wears aids this transformation.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1200" height="800" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Showtime</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Oozing glamour is one way to capture hearts, but in her role as a secretarial aid she eschews makeup and color so the piggish councilman she works for pays attention to her ideas and not her body. The boxy neutral skirt suit is masculine-meets-feminine styling that strips the stripes and frills of an outfit worn by <em>His Girl Friday's</em> Hildy Johnson and leaves the bland outline. However, the buttoned-up blouse and jacket are still appealing, and this lack of vanity is how she wraps Councilman Charlton Townsend (Michael Gladis) around her finger.</p> <p>In contrast to the drab council closet, the patrons who spend their evenings at The Crimson Cat are dressed to impress. Pachucos are vital to the history of Los Angeles and play an important role in how Magda chooses to manipulate Tiago's younger brother Mateo (Jonathan Nieves) as the Zoot suit-wearing Rio. Looking for his place in the Mexican-American community he believes his cop brother has turned away from, Mateo heads to this popular dance hall.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1200" height="800" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Showtime</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>A night embracing this subculture is broken up by the racist cops and this ignites his rage. A surprise curfew leads to the raid in "Wicked Old World," which comes after a jubilant dance sequence. One act of aggression by the police is to cut the suits with razors — "so we're not Pachuco anymore," Rio notes, before saying she is this way even naked. Mateo points out the obvious factor that Rio is white, but Magda's backstory for this cultural appropriating character is that she was born in Mexico before moving to L.A. when she was three years old.</p> <p>It isn't a case of throwing together any high-waisted suit. The Zoot suit has a specific silhouette and place in the history of Los Angeles — its origins are in jazz and African-American communities in Harlem, Chicago, and Detroit. No doubt the Los Angeles "<a href="">Zoot Suit Riots</a>" of 1943 factored into this story (just a few years ahead of reality). On Instagram, <a href="">Wittenborn notes</a> the costume design team made 75 suits using over 1000 yards of fabric for this episode — and each one is stunning.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="933" /><figcaption><p>Credit: Showtime</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Magda can look and dress however she pleases in the blink of an eye, which is how she targets the various male figures she believes will help set this city ablaze. Picking her clothing carefully, she uses a curated image to tap into a divided Los Angeles. Not everyone is easily manipulated; Tiago will have to figure out how he can wear the badge of an LAPD detective and still retain his identity while racists hurl slurs his way.</p> <p>God (or the perception of God) also has a role to play via Sister Molly (Kerry Bishé), who is bound by an image that has been thrust upon her. A battle is coming and so far, <em>Penny Dreadful: City of Angels</em> is proving a demon is just as powerful in a pastel tea dress as she is in a black leather frock with fire trailing behind her.</p> Fangrrls Geekouture Look of the Week Natalie Dormer Penny Dreadful: City of Angels TV syfywire-post-211316 Fri, 22 May 2020 18:00:01 -0400 SYFY WIRE Emma Fraser What We Do in the Shadows will vamp it up for a third blood-sucking season on FX <p><a href="" target="_blank">FX</a> will sink its fangs into a third season of <a href="" target="_blank"><em>What We Do in the Shadows</em></a>, the network announced this afternoon. The news comes as Season 2 of the hit vampire-based comedy series (created by<a href="" target="_blank"> Jemaine Clement</a>) nears the end of its 20-episode run.</p> <p>"We’re incredibly happy that critics and audiences are all in on <em>Shadows</em>,” Nick Grad, president of original programming for FX Entertainment, said in a statement. “Week in and week out, the producers, writers and our amazing cast continue to make one of the funniest and best comedy series on TV.”</p> <p>The show, which currently boasts <a href="" target="_blank">a 97 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes</a>, follows a group of gothic, undead roommates who live together on Staten Island. Much of the comedy is derived from their ignorance of modern fashions and conventions. Throughout the course of the second season, the characters have navigated their way through Super Bowl parties, internet trolls, and, of course, all the other supernatural beings that are to be found within the Tri-State area.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="933" /><figcaption><p>"Ghosts," Season 2, Episode 2, <em>What We Do in the Shadows</em>. Credit: FX</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Kayvan Novak (Nandor), Natasia Demetriou (Nadja), Matt Berry (Laszlo), and <a href="">Mark Proksch</a> (Colin Robinson) play the vampires. Harvey Guillén co-stars as their human familiar, Guillermo.</p> <p><em>Star Wars</em>' Mark Hamill <a href="" target="_blank">recently guest starred</a> as Jim the Vampire, an enemy from Laszlo's past. Other celebrity appearances have been made by Wesley Snipes, Dave Bautista, Nick Kroll, Tilda Swinton, Evan Rachel Wood, Danny Trejo, Haley Joel Osment, and Benedict Wong.</p> <p><em>What We Do in the Shadows</em> is based on the 2014 mockumentary film of the same name written and directed by Clement and <a href="" target="_blank">Taika Waititi</a>. Both serve as executive producers on the small screen adaptation alongside Paul Simms, Scott Rudin, Garrett Basch, Eli Bush, and Stefani Robinson.</p> <p>The Season 2 finale ("Théâtre des Vampires") airs on FX Wednesday, June 10. According to FX, the current season "is averaging 3.2 million total viewers across all linear and non-linear platforms through the first six episodes," marking "a +25 percent increase over the first season."</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> FX Jemaine Clement Renewal Taika Waititi What We Do in the Shadows TV News syfywire-post-211366 Fri, 22 May 2020 17:20:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss Simon Furman breaks down 'bot battles in IDW's new Transformers '84: Secrets & Lies #1 <p>Powering up for late July is a fresh tale of <a href="">Autobots vs Decepticons</a> as <a href="">IDW Publishing</a> primes itself to release <em>Transformers '84: Secrets & Lies #1 — and SYFY WIRE </em>has an exclusive sneak peek inside all the machine-driven mayhem.</p> <p>Written by legendary <a href=""><em>Transformers</em></a><em> </em>writer <a href="">Simon Furman</a> and paired with arresting artwork courtesy of Guido Guidi (<em>Transformers</em>) and John-Paul Bove (<em>Judge Dredd</em>), this four-issue miniseries charges back to unleash a new chapter set within the original<em> Transformers</em> comic book universe. </p> <p>Following the raging success of <a href="">last year's <em>Transformers ’84 #0</em></a> one-shot, the plotline picks up as the Cybertronian Civil War churns on. Decepticon scientist Shockwave has encountered an insurmountable obstacle to the Decepticon’s hard-won victory and subjugation of the planet: an imposing menace named Megatron!</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="450" height="683" /><figcaption><p>Credit: IDW Publishing</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Join Furman in our four-page unlettered preview of the premiere issue of <em>Transformers '84: Secrets & Lies #1</em> below, as he dissects the panels with his deep knowledge of the new project and the entire <em>Transformers </em>saga.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="450" height="683" /><figcaption><p>Credit: IDW Publishing</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>PAGE 1</strong></p> <p>"As with <em>Transformers ’84 #0</em>, Punch (or, rather, Counterpunch here) takes on the role of omniscient narrator for <em>Secrets & Lies</em>, from some unspecified point in the future – while also featuring in the main action, playing for both sides as it were. His cross-factional nature allows him a unique take on events. We’re back on Cybertron here, at the height of the civil war that gripped the planet (before the Ark was launched and subsequently crash-landed on Earth), and much more of this mini-series is set on the Transformers’ homeworld – exploring aspects of the conflict (and characters) never seen before."</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="450" height="683" /><figcaption><p>Credit: IDW Publishing</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>PAGE 2</strong></p> <p>"One of the missing bits of Cybertronian story I really wanted to get into was something alluded to by Megatron in Marvel’s <em>Transformers #1 </em>(story page 4, panel 3), namely the notion of rebuilding Cybertron as a (mobile) cosmic dreadnought. It’s never really followed up on in the Marvel series, but we really get into it here (and, in fact, forms the backbone of <em>Secrets & Lies</em>). And yes, here’s Skyfire – the name given to Jetfire in the animated TV series. I know what you’re thinking, Jetfire was created on Earth, in<em> Transformers (US) #11</em>… or was he? Maybe… he pre-existed on Cybertron, as in the cartoon series (where, as here, he functioned as a scientist), and was re-created."</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="450" height="683" /><figcaption><p>Credit: IDW Publishing</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>PAGE 3</strong></p> <p>"Also in the animated TV series, Starscream and Skyfire were established as fellow scientists (and friends, or colleagues) – a link I’ve appropriated here. Of course, Counterpunch is deeply involved in everything, and what we’re building up to is something the Marvel comics showcased quite a bit, the rivalry (or maybe difference of opinion/tactics) between Megatron and Shockwave."</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="450" height="683" /><figcaption><p>Credit: IDW Publishing</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><strong>PAGE 4</strong></p> <p>"The attack on Stanix is also referenced by Optimus Prime in <em>Transformers ’84 #0</em>, dovetailing the narratives somewhat. Ratbat made his U.S. comic book debut in<em> TF US #27</em>, which established his role (on Cybertron) as the Decepticons’ fuel auditor, and here he plays a bigger role in the unfolding events. By the way, Shockwave’s solution (on the following pages) provides another key twist to established/formative events in <em>Transformers (Marvel) #1</em>."</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="450" height="683" /><figcaption><p>Credit: IDW Publishing</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>IDW's <em>Transformers '84: Secrets & Lies #1</em> lands in comic shops on July 29.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> comic previews Exclusives IDW Publishing Interviews Transformers Exclusive Movies Comics News syfywire-post-211360 Fri, 22 May 2020 17:05:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Jeff Spry Celebrating The Empire Strikes Back and the wonder of Mando's Volume [Jabba the Pod 2.22] <p>We'll be honest, we thought one thing more than any other while we were watching the incredible shooting stage known as "the volume" in action during the fourth episode of <em>The Disney Gallery: Star Wars: The Mandalorian.</em></p> <p>We want one.</p> <p>Using the general idea of digital projection pioneered in the 1933 <em>King Kong</em>, fused with green-screen technology and a gaming engine that renders in real time, this state-of-the-art filming stage has started to fulfill the vision that George Lucas had many years ago. He said that one day we'll be able to shoot these things in our garage — it is clear that the effects magic on <a href=""><em>The Mandalorian</em></a> brought everyone much closer to that reality.</p> <p>Our heroes on <a href="">Jabba the Pod</a> (Matt Romano, Caitlin Busch, and Brian Silliman) marvel at the newly revealed technology, and also celebrate 40 years of <a href=""><em>Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back</em></a> in their latest episode. Listen below, or wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive audio"> <iframe src="" style="width: 640px; height: 200px; border: 0 none;" width="640" height="200" scrolling="no"></iframe> <audio ><source src="" type="audio/ogg"></audio> <img src=""> </figure></div> <p><a href="">Click here to subscribe on Apple Podcasts.</a></p> <p><a href="">Click here to subscribe on Google Podcasts.</a></p> <p><a href="">Click here to subscribe on RadioPublic.</a></p> <p><a href="">Click here to subscribe on Spotify.</a></p> Jabba the Pod Podcast Star Wars Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back The Mandalorian Movies TV Features syfywire-post-211344 Fri, 22 May 2020 15:30:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Brian Silliman In honor of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Christopher Pike, this is your life! [Warp Factor 2.7] <p>Welcome back to <a href="">Warp Factor</a>, where we're changing course to celebrate the news of the recently announced Pike-centric series, <a href=""><em>Star Trek: Strange New Worlds</em></a>.</p> <p><a href="">Anson Mount</a> will star as Captain Christopher Pike, alongside <a href="">Rebecca Romijn</a> (Number One) and <a href="">Ethan Peck</a> (Spock), and they will all continue their adventures on the pre-Kirk U.S.S. <em>Enterprise</em> following their appearances on <a href=""><em>Star Trek: Discovery</em></a>. Mount is not the first actor to play Captain Pike (he follows Jeffrey Hunter and Bruce Greenwood), but he quickly made the role his own.</p> <p>He had some fun along the way, he ruffled a few feathers, and he's not only getting his own series ... something the fans have been asking for ever since Season 2 of <em>Discovery</em> ended. He's also getting his very own retrospective!</p> <p>That's right, it's time for a Warp Factor Special: Christopher Pike, this is your life! Watch below, and in honor of Pike, "hit it."</p> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Anson Mount Original Video Star Trek Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Warp Factor Videos TV Features syfywire-post-211361 Fri, 22 May 2020 15:15:00 -0400 SYFY WIRE Brian Silliman Jurassic World producer Frank Marshall says that 'Dominion' kicks off a 'new era' for franchise <p>If you think the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Jurassic World</em></a> series is going to go extinct after the release of <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Dominion</em></a> next summer, you've got another think coming, buster. <a href="" target="_blank">Speaking with Collider</a>, franchise producer <a href="" target="_blank">Frank Marshall</a> gave a simple "no" when asked if writer-director <a href="">Colin Trevorrow</a>'s dino trilogy capper would fossilize the iconic (and prehistoric) IP for good.</p> <p>"It’s the start of a new era," Marshall, a longtime producing partner of Steven Spielberg, said. "The dinosaurs are now on the mainland amongst us, and they will be for quite some time, I hope." </p> <p>He hinted at telling future stories where humans have come to accept dinos as the "new normal." We can all certainly relate to that as we continue to adjust our lives around the invasive COVID-19. Moreover, Trevorrow has already set the stage for those peripheral tales with the release of <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Battle at Big Rock</em></a>, a short film that centers on a family terrorized by an Allosaurus while on a camping trip.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="949" /><figcaption><p><strong>L-R: Trevorrow and Marshall</strong> Credit: Rich Fury/Getty Images for Universal Studios Hollywood</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>Written by Trevorrow and Emily Carmichael, <em>Jurassic World Dominion</em> will wrap up the stories of Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), and Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong). <em>Jurassic Park</em> vets Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Alan Grant (Sam Neill), and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) are along for the ride as well.</p> <p>Daniella Pineda, Omar Sy, Justice Smith, Jake Johnson, Isabella Sermon, Mamoudou Athie, DeWanda Wise, Dichen Lachman, and Scott Haze co-star. To help raise charity for those affected by the coronavirus, <a href="" target="_blank">one lucky fan</a> is getting the chance to appear as a bipedal dinosaur snack.</p> <p>The film is currently scheduled to hit theaters on June 11 of next year, but with the production shutdown caused by the current pandemic, there's always a chance it could be delayed.</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Colin Trevorrow Frank Marshall Jurassic World Jurassic World: Dominion Movies News syfywire-post-211354 Fri, 22 May 2020 15:11:35 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss Knives and Skin and its nuanced take on the dead girl trope <p>"Dead Girl stories are ultimately about uncovering female darkness and revealing male innocence," Alice Bolin said in a 2018 <a href="">interview with <em>Bitch</em> magazine</a>. Her book <em>Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession</em> is viewed by many as the final word on a trope that has defined much of how our entertainment media views victims of violent crime. The book is a must-read for many culture critics and brings up endless salient points on why this trope has deeper societal effects than one might think at surface level. The quote easily applies to stories like <em>Twin Peaks</em> and <em>True Detective</em>, among many others.</p> <p>Criticism of the "beautiful dead girl" trope tends to cite that it goes back about as far as <em>Twin Peaks</em>, but that is nowhere near the origin point. This is something that has been appearing in folklore, in classical painting, and in film well beyond the last 28 years. In 2019's <em>Knives and Skin</em>, however, we see a different kind of story. While the plot is indeed centered around a young woman who dies mysteriously, there is a gentle humanization behind the story that never treats her loss as anything but tragic. It's not necessarily a subversion so much as a humanistic take that throws societal assumptions out the window and adds layers to a tired trope.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1084" height="610" /><figcaption><p><em>Knives and Skin</em> (2019) / Credit: Newcity's Chicago Film Project</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><em>Knives and Skin</em>, written and directed by Jennifer Reeder, takes place in an unnamed small town that most residents dream of escaping. A young girl named Carolyn, the daughter of a high school choir teacher, goes missing. The town comes together to search for her, but they find nothing. As the film moves along, we see the community struggle with their own lives while the search for Carolyn continues. Specifically, her mother, reeling from the loss of her child, makes everyone nervous and uncomfortable. They don't know how to deal with her grief, and neither does she. Her love for her daughter clouds everything. A part of her is destroyed by Carolyn's absence. Her pain is never trivialized, and it emanates from her every moment onscreen.</p> <p>There are countless reasons to praise <em>Knives and Skin</em> that have nothing to do with its central plot and everything to do with the general tone of the movie. The complicated cast of characters who struggle with their darker natures while attempting to reach out and make genuine contact with one another is heart-wrenching across the board. Moments of triumph abound, be it from the girl who stands up to the inappropriate sexual advances of her teacher to the popular cheerleader finding love and acceptance in her own queerness. A cappella renditions of popular '80s songs from the cast are not at all necessary to the plot, but they are crucial to the tone of the film. In their every appearance, they show the healing potential of music. The songs disarm people who are suffering and grant moments of serenity at the center of a troubling plot.</p> <p>Characters are allowed to be shown as problematic and exist without moralistic overtones. People make mistakes. They can't communicate. They say the wrong things. They do bad things and they do good things. They fail. They find joy even amidst horror and suffering. They reach out to each other in flawed, clumsy ways and, more often than not, find nothing to hold onto. Carolyn is not a secret seductress, as we see so often in "dead girl" media, but just an average teen girl who would have gone on to live her own life of nuance. She does not have to be anything else for her death to be devastating.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="750" height="422" /><figcaption><p><em>Knives and Skin</em> (2019) / Credit: Newcity's Chicago Film Project</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p>In response to Bolin's book, many articles popped up about the "subversion" of the "dead girl" trope. It's hard to say if it's truly possible to subvert it without a complete reimagining of how we, as a society, view victims. Even when every effort is made to humanize and sympathize with the dead girl, she remains something unknown and distant by her very nature. Delving into her "sinister secrets" does no favors for her, and the focus on "beautiful, white teenagers" in suburban communities with something to hide continues to reinforce our social dismissal of women that our society deems less innocent, less valuable, and, as so often goes implied by news outlets and police departments, intrinsically less worthy of life. Subverting that is difficult, if not impossible, because the message it sends is so problematic. Even merely via the act of humanizing the people at its center while refusing to simplify the grief caused by lost or missing children, the "dead girl" trope inherently becomes something else.</p> <p>Here there is no dark secret to uncover. The girl at the center of <em>Knives and Skin</em> is not sexualized, nor is she dragged for secrets on a cold metal table by a group of dispassionate men. Her corpse is not beautiful. Her cause of death is never totally clear, but it appears to be a complete accident. Her community reels from her loss, because even those who did not know her are profoundly moved by the knowledge that they failed her. The film shines a light on these personal failures, these regrets, these subtle kindnesses and cruelties that make up a life, and it asks us not to look away. By showing us a complex picture of a community suffering loss and by refusing to grant us a simplified take on human suffering by appointing a singular hero or villain, <em>Knives and Skin</em> gives us a much more nuanced take on a trope that has historically treated women as disposable.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="585" /><figcaption><p><em>Knives and Skin</em> (2019) / Credit: Newcity's Chicago Film Project</p></figcaption></figure></div> Fangrrls Knives and Skin ScreamGRRLS Movies syfywire-post-211261 Fri, 22 May 2020 15:00:01 -0400 SYFY WIRE Sara Century WIRE Buzz: David Ayer on his Suicide Squad cut; The CW's unfilmed finales; and Tuca & Bertie revived <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em>Tuca & Bertie</em></a> was canceled by Netflix after one season <a href="" target="_blank">last summer</a>, but that's not the end of the story for the avian duo voiced by Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong. The animated series (created by <em>BoJack Horseman</em> alum Lisa Hanawalt) will return for a second season on <a href="" target="_blank">Adult Swim</a> next year.</p> <p>“I’ve been a fan of Adult Swim shows since my teens, so I’m thrilled to bring my beloved fowl to the party and be a new voice for a fresh decade of absurd, irreverent, yet heartwarming adult animation,” Hanawalt said in a statement.</p> <p>In the show, Tuca is a carefree and cocky toucan, while Bertie is an anxious and daydreaming song thrush. The two characters live in the same apartment building, and Bertie's boyfriend, Speckle (voiced by <em>The Walking Dead</em>'s Steven Yeun), is an upbeat and optimistic robin.</p> <p></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">As <em>Variety</em> points out</a>, <em>Tuca & Bertie</em>'s exaggerated — and often surreal — art style will feel right at home with Adult Swim's other beloved animated outings like <em>Rick and Morty</em>, <em>Robot Chicken</em>, <em>Aqua Teen Hunger Force</em>, <em>Metalocalypse</em>, and <em>Squidbillies</em>.</p> <p>There's no set premiere date for when the show's return. Adult Swim has the option for future episodes after Season 2.</p> <hr /><p>The biggest pop culture news of the week was that Warner Bros. was allowing <a href="" target="_blank">Zack Snyder</a> to finish his <a href="" target="_blank">long-fabled cut of <em>Justice League</em></a>, which will debut on <a href="" target="_blank">HBO Max</a> sometime next year.</p> <p>With the <a href="" target="_blank">#ReleaseTheSnyderCut</a> campaign resulting in such a rousing success, DCEU fans are now moving on to the next goal by using the almighty hashtag to try and convince the studio to give up another holy grail: David Ayer's original print of <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Suicide Squad</em></a>.</p> <p>Ayer addressed the matter on Twitter in a very cautious and diplomatic way, writing: </p> <p>"It is simply not my call or my IP. I love WB - it’s always been my ‘home studio’ I fully respect and support the incredible path the DCU is taking under their stewardship. My cut of <em>Suicide Squad</em> may always be just a rumor. And that’s just fine."</p> <p>Over the last few years, the director has used social media as a way of opening up about the things that went wrong with the film. He's voiced regret over not making Jared Leto's Joker <a href="" target="_blank">the main villain</a> and the decision to <a href="" target="_blank">overly-sexualize</a> Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn. Just this week, Ayer revealed <a href="" target="_blank">some axed plot points</a>, like a romance between Harley and Will Smith's Deadshot, and Jay Hernandez's Diablo surviving.</p> <p>Writer-director James Gunn will revamp the team next August in<em> <a href="" target="_blank">The Suicide Squad</a></em>.</p> <hr /><p>While the <a href="" target="_blank">coronavirus pandemic</a> forced many network series to wrap up their various seasons earlier than planned, it doesn't mean we won't see a conclusion to their stories. Thanks to an in-depth piece <a href="" target="_blank">from TVLine</a>, we now have a better idea of what to expect from a number of genre shows when they're finally able to safely restart production.</p> <p>According to <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Batwoman</em></a> showrunner Carolin Dries, Episode 22 would have left off on "a pretty epic cliffhanger, and a huge crisis for the Bat-team." She added that they're "still going to use a lot of that, because it’s also a great launch for the season."</p> <p>The biggest question mark right now, however, is <a href="" target="_blank">who will replace Ruby Rose</a> in the title role.</p> <div><figure class="image"><img src="" width="1400" height="467" /><figcaption><p>Credit: The CW</p></figcaption></figure></div> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em>Charmed</em></a> showrunners Craig Shapiro and Liz Kruger were a bit more hesitant to give up details about what would have gone down in the Season 2 finale, but promised that viewers will see a resolution in Season 3.</p> <p>“We will have a chance to wrap up all of these stories as we intended,” Shapiro said. “It’s just going to be a minute.”</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em>Riverdale</em></a> was in the midst of filming the 20th episode of its fourth season, what executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa describes as "our senior prom episode."</p> <p>That will pick up in Season 5 because “they’re big, emotional episodes, and there’s a lot of stuff with the characters that we’re still playing out," Aguirre-Sacasa added, teasing "major, major repercussions that go down at prom, in true teen drama fashion."</p> <hr /> <div><figure class="op-interactive video video-youtube"><iframe src="" width="640" height="390"></iframe></figure></div> Adult Swim David Ayer Suicide Squad The CW Tuca & Bertie WIRE Buzz Movies TV News syfywire-post-211353 Fri, 22 May 2020 14:40:05 -0400 SYFY WIRE Josh Weiss