New Features in Preview for Xbox App on Windows 10 and Xbox One. Microsoft Apologizes for Confusion Over 1080p-60fps Witcher 3 Footage on Xbox Channel. Rock Band DLC Re-licensing Info - Updated...
Official Google Blog: Say hi to Fi- A new way to say hello. Thanks nin. How Google?s Project Fi pricing stacks up to the competition.
Google wants to power up the Web with push notifications and home icons. Policy and product updates aimed at combating abuse. Thanks HARDOCP.
Facebook Q1- Mixed earnings; 1.44 billion monthly active users. Thanks HARDOCP. Slightly fast and not furious- Lightweight car challenge brings out wicked cool prototypes. Apple Studio Display was...
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TotalBiscuit's Notline Miami review. A look at this game which even has a rip-off thread for such complaints. Thanks nin…
Link of the Day: Whomp! - Bargain Bane. Thanks JDreyer.
Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer were on hand in Las Vegas yesterday as part of Warner Bros. Pictures presentation at CinemaCon. Speaking with MTV afterwards, Cavill was asked if he'd seen much of Zack Snyder's upcoming "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and is the film essentially a "Man of Steel" sequel just with Batman in it:
"I've only seen a little bit of ADR stuff, but that's it, and that wasn't even in color… I'm hoping to see it some time this year, for a friends and family screening or something. But I really know nothing about what the finished product looks like. I wouldn't call this a Superman sequel. This is Batman vs. Superman, so it's a separate entity altogether. It's introducing the Batman character, and expanding upon this universe, which was kicked off by Man of Steel. It's an introduction to the character, and ultimately an introduction to Justice League."
Speaking of the film, some B-roll footage of an exhibit about the film has gone online and showcases some close up detailing regarding the costumes of the three main Justice League members (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman) in the movie.
Developing for years with a script by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, Marvel's "Ant-Man" underwent some major re-writes in the wake of Wright's departure from the project in May last year. Since that time Adam McKay and Paul Rudd have done enough of a re-write to get 'Screenplay By' credits whilst Wright and Cornish are getting 'Story By' credits.
Wright's departure remains a hot issue to this day. Spending years on the project and then departing due to irreconcilable creative differences, the prevailing thought has been that Wright's unique sensibilities didn't fit with the Marvel formula.
In a new interview with Buzzfeed, "Avengers: Age of Ultron" director Joss Whedon says that he has read Wright and Cornish's script and thinks it's perfect:
"I don't get it. I thought the script was not only the best script that Marvel had ever had, but the most Marvel script I'd read. I had no interest in Ant-Man. [Then] I read the script, and was like, Of course! This is so good! It reminded me of the books when I read them. Irreverent and funny and could make what was small large, and vice versa.
I don't know where things went wrong. But I was very sad. Because I thought, This is a no-brainer. This is Marvel getting it exactly right. Whatever dissonance that came, whatever it was, I don't understand why it was bigger than a marriage that seemed so right. But I'm not going to say it was definitely all Marvel, or Edgar's gone mad! I felt like they would complement each other by the ways that they were different. And, uh, somethin' happened.
One of the rumored reasons for the departure was Marvel wanted changes to the film to make it a better fit for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Whedon admits that he has his own trepidations when people talk about his films being just setup for the next few films from Marvel:
"Somebody said, 'Well, that was a great setup for the next thing!' in one of the test screenings, and I died inside. [Marvel executives] were like, 'No! They say that all the time, it's fine.' I was like, 'No, that's the worst thing I could have heard.' I want people to come out feeling done. And if I don't do that, if I haven't brought you on that journey and closed it out, f--k me. That's the danger of this sort of serialized storytelling, turning the motion picture experience into episodic TV. Because we have episodic TV, and now you don't even have to wait to watch it, you can binge it. So that's to me a dreadful mistake."
As if anyone needed convincing, Whedon also confirmed that bootleg Spider-Man post-"Ultron" credits sequence that popped up on Youtube this week and has already scored nearly two million views is indeed a fake. Whedon tells Flicks and the City that he has no idea where it came from:
"We wanted to be clear that there was no tag scene at the very, very end of the film. Because after sitting through 40 minutes of credits and not seeing anything, we thought people would become irate. [Laughs] So no, I don't know where that started."
Speaking of "Avengers: Age of Ultron", my own review of the film is now online here.
More polished, but less cohesive as a whole, "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is ultimately a respectable and easily enjoyable sequel that maintains the quality of its predecessor just enough that many a debate will be had about which is the superior effort. Though advertised as a darker and more brooding follow-up, the real surprise of 'Ultron' is how much in line with the first film's tone and structural beats this is.
An opening action set piece around a secret base? Check. Plenty of Joss Whedon-style witticisms? Even more here than the original and some a bit more daring. Some friction between the group members? You bet. The entire third act being one giant action sequence in which a city is in danger and we cut between our heroes trying to save it and stop hordes of mute enemy soldiers that are essentially cannon fodder? Absolutely.
One can't quite escape the been there, done that feeling to the film which means it doesn't have the soaring highs of the first's big crowd-pleasing moments. Part of the problem is that in trying to do so much more within the confines of the same runtime, you have a film so stuffed with characters, story arcs and references that it often doesn't have time to fully develop some of these people - especially the newer characters introduced in this outing.
The scale on offer is more impressive than the first, ranging from some truly gigantic action that is often astonishing to witness (albeit more CG-laden than ever), to smaller scenes that ultimately give the film plenty of heart and humanity. Key to that is the film doesn't bother with having to explain the need to bring these characters together, and so it can focus on both this particular entry's plot shenanigans along with the interpersonal relationships of the members of the team.
By far the film's best scenes belong to the tentative relationship between Black Widow and Hulk, both characters afraid to let go and get close to someone. The pair have found a fascinating and carefully blooming relationship with each other, and full credit goes to both Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo who deliver committed performances that have you believing in this odd yet welcome pairing.
Similarly one character given short shrift last time, Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye, gets not only some good lines but a welcome subplot in this that offers a respite from all the noise and bombast throughout the rest of the movie. Downey, Evans, Hemsworth, Jackson, etc. are so comfortable in these roles that there's little to say other than that they play them along familiar lines. Aside from Downey though, they all take a back seat in this film and so don't go in expecting a lot from each beyond driving the plot forward, offering some fun banter, or dealing with some induced nightmares involving the well-worn trope of facing your fears.
As Ultron, James Spader's voice work is as delicious as you'd expect. However, the character itself is frustratingly under developed - only teasing us with interesting threads which we never get to see develop as he's too busy acting snarky and evil due to motivations that lack any real conviction or serious development. Paul Bettany's work as The Vision is similarly excellent and limited by the writing. However, the enigmatic nature of the character is a big part of his appeal and he is certainly the most intriguing new addition that the film brings to the screen.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen don't leave much of an impression, this Quicksilver far less engaging than Evan Peters' cheekier and more energetic take in last year's "X-Men: Days of Future Past". The power of Olsen's Scarlet Witch is also decidedly vague and seems to change from scene to scene. Both characters are given an interesting motive for their hatred of the Avengers, but don't have much more to them beyond that.
The humor of the film overall feels more natural, the barbs more character driven and frequent this time out though they admittedly don't always land despite some valiant attempts. When they do though, there's some great belly laughs - including a couple of double entendres in the second half that'll have people howling. Don Cheadle and Andy Serkis also pop in for some fun cameos.
The pacing is fast, hoping from one foot to the other every minute and trying all sorts of different things with much of it landing quite well. Yet it rarely sits still enough to explore these themes, and some scenes have obviously been truncated enough to feel compromised - such as a sequence with Thor going to the UK to visit a cave.
The squeezing in of references to the bigger events of the MCU, not to mention the stage setting for Phase Three at times, feels nearly as jarring as the attempts to do the same in the pre-Avengers Phase One films. There's the definite feeling that a couple of key character moments and greater MCU setup scenes have been excised from this to keep the film rushing along at rocket speed, a shame really and hopefully it will be something that will be rectified with the home video release.
It's certainly a more ambitious film with attempts to dive a bit deeper into the characters this time out. Yet even Whedon, who is such a master with balancing large ensemble casts, is juggling so many balls in the air with this that he can't help but drop a few even as he impresses so well with what ones he can keep up.
Most won't mind the overstuffing a bit - in terms of satisfying a crowd the movie does exactly what it says and should please the multitude of Marvel fans for some time to come. 'Ultron' avoids the sophomore slump of some other big franchises of late, but it also doesn't soar beyond what you'd expect despite an obvious desire to. It's also loads of fun and never dull.
Warner Bros. and Alcon Entertainment have unveiled the first official stills from Ericson Core's remake of Kathryn Bigelow's 1991 action classic "Point Break". Luke Bracey takes on the role of young FBI agent Johnny Utah in this outing. Utah must infiltrate a team of thrill-seeking athletes led by the charismatic Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez).
Whilst the first film dealt with surfing, this one focuses much more on the world of extreme sports. Ray Winstone, Teresa Palmer, and Delroy Lindo also star in the film which opens on December 25th.
War On Everyone
The first photo is out of Michael Pena and Alexander Skarsgard at work on "The Guard" and "Calvary" director John Michael McDonagh's new film "War on Everyone" which is currently shooting in New Mexico.
The black action-comedy stars both actors as corrupt cops looking to blackmail and generally stitch up all the felons they cross paths with. Unfortunately they come across someone even more dangerous and unscrupulous than them. [Source: Empire]
Russ and Roger Go Beyond
Michael Winterbottom is in talks to direct the Will Ferrell-led comedy "Russ & Roger Go Beyond" for STX Entertainment. Christopher Cluess penned the script and filming begins later this year.
The true story tale deals with how softcore porn maestro Russ Meyer teamed with film critic Roger Ebert on "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," the first X-rated film to be released by a studio. [Source: Variety]
Ghost in the Shell
Out doing press for "Avengers: Age of Ultron," actress Scarlett Johansson has revealed that the upcoming live-action take on the classic manga/anime "Ghost in the Shell" begins shooting in January or February next year.
The actress signed on for this film this January and says the project is definitely happening with Rupert Sanders directing, but that's all she knows at this point. [Source: Collider]
Sony’s new film studio chief Tom Rothman has reportedly approved a $154 million budget for Paul Feig's upcoming all-female "Ghostbusters" reboot. Feig reportedly had had to make changes to the script in order to reduce the budget from the estimated $169 million budget that was originally planned. [Source: THR]
One of the less talked about but no less important panels of the Star Wars Celebration convention over the weekend was a panel held with the members of the Lucasfilm Story Group - a group of employees in charge of the new 'Star Wars' canon.
Created by President Kathleen Kennedy and headed up by Kiri Hart, these Lucasfilm employees have to make sure that not just the films but all the new tie-in media efforts including books, comics, TV shows, video games, etc. are all part of this new continuity and don't contradict each other.
One interesting revelation though (via Slashfilm) is that while the Expanded Universe characters and stories have been wiped clean, there are plans to reboot or reintroduce characters from that world in the canon.
As 'The Old Republic' video games are set millennia before the original films, they're presently working under the assumption that it is canon until it isn't. For now, they don't have plans to do stories set in that time period.
In related news, Gizmodo have posted up photos of a listing (now removed) from the Fat Brain Toys website for an official Sphero remote control BB-8 toy coming later this year with a listing price of $150.
This would seem to confirm comments from Disney CEO Bob Iger who has revealed in a New York Times piece that a working, apple-sized version of the loveable rolling droid from the trailers will be available at Christmas. Said version you will reportedly be able to control with your iPhone.
Finally today, the launch of the second trailer for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" last week has wiped out several records. According to marketing firm Zefr, the preview has recorded over 64 million YouTube views in its first week of release.
That bests the original 'Force Awakens' teaser first-week total of 58.2 million views and the best first week of any movie trailer in 2014 or 2015. Counting non-YouTube views, Disney announced separately that the trailer recorded 88 million views in its first 24 hours.
Sources: Heat Vision
"Full story: http://bit.ly/1ywcyDw
Exchanging gazes with dogs boosts levels of a bonding hormone in both them and us, suggesting they evolved to hijack a uniquely human way of bonding".
From http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16412-pet-dogs-rival-humans-for-emotional-satisfaction.html from http://boingboing.net/2015/04/20/eye-to-eye-contact-with-your-d.html ...
An anonymous reader writes: Apple is sending out invites to random registered developers, giving them the chance to buy an Apple Watch with guaranteed delivery by the end of the month. "Special Opportunity for an Expedited Apple Watch Order," the invite email states. "We want to help give Apple developers the opportunity to test their WatchKit apps on Apple Watch as soon as it is available. You have the chance to purchase one (1) Apple Watch Sport with 42mm Silver Aluminum Case and Blue Sport Band that's guaranteed to ship by April 28, 2015."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
dcblogs writes: A U.S. House bill that will set the nation's basic research agenda for the next two years increases funding for computer science, but at the expense of other research areas. The funding bill, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chair of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, hikes funding for computer science, but cuts — almost by half — social sciences funding, which includes the study of human behavior. Cybersecurity uses human behavior research because humans are often the weakest security link. Research funding social, behavioral and economic sciences will fall from $272 million to $150 million, a 45% decrease. The bill also takes a big cut out of geosciences research, which includes climate change study, from $1.3 billion to $1.2 billion, an 8% decrease. The insight into human behaviors that comes from the social science research, "is critical to understanding how best to design and implement hardware and software systems that are more secure and easier to use," wrote J. Strother Moore, the Computing Research Association chair and a professor of computer science at the University of Texas.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Mark Wilson writes: When you receive a call you'll usually see the number of the caller, but this may not be helpful in identifying them before you decide whether to pick up. Facebook's answer to this problem is Hello. This new app comes from the Facebook Messenger team and aims to tell you more about the person getting in touch with you even if you don't have their number saved in your address book. Currently available for Android, the dialer app also allows for the blocking of calls from individuals.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Annanag writes: There were rumours — but now it's been confirmed. Chinese scientists have attempted the ethically questionable feat of genetically modifying human embryos. The scientists try to head off ethical concerns by using 'non-viable' embryos, which cannot result in a live birth, obtained from local fertility clinics. The study is a landmark — but also a cautionary tale.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
HughPickens.com writes: Amir Mizroch reports at the WSJ that a PayPal executive who works with engineers and developers to find and test new technologies, says that embeddable, injectable, and ingestible devices are the next wave in identification for mobile payments and other sensitive online interactions. Jonathon Leblanc says that identification of people will shift from "antiquated" external body methods like fingerprints, toward internal body functions like heartbeat and vein recognition, where embedded and ingestible devices will allow "natural body identification." Ingestible devices could be powered by stomach acid, which will run their batteries and could detect glucose levels and other unique internal features can use a person's body as a way to identify them and beam that data out. Leblanc made his remarks during a presentation called Kill all Passwords that he's recently started giving at various tech conferences in the U.S. and Europe, arguing that technology has taken a huge leap forward to "true integration with the human body." But the idea has its skeptics. What could possibly go wrong with a little implanted device that reads your vein patterns or your heart's unique activity or blood glucose levels writes AJ Vicens? "Wouldn't an insurance company love to use that information to decide that you had one too many donuts—so it won't be covering that bypass surgery after all?"
Read more of this story at Slashdot.