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Archive for December, 2012

Preludes to Erebor.


Plenty of trailers of note accompanying the return to Bag End tonight. (So far, reviews have been decidedly mixed, but I remain cautiously optimistic.) First up, we have a very grim Kryptonian moping around like he’s Bats — and getting lousy advice from Pa Kent — in the second trailer for Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, with Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Antje Traue, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Ayelet Zurer, Lawrence Fishburne, Richard Schiff, Harry Lennix, Tahmoh Penikett, and Christopher Meloni.

Hrm. I wouldn’t have picked this grim direction for Superman — seems like a Captain America vibe would work better — but at least it’s different, I guess. Hopefully the presence of Chris Nolan will help rein in Snyder’s Sucker Punch sensibilities.


Idris, meet GLaDOS. GLaDOS, Idris. Cthulhian monsters from under the sea fight giant robots in the first trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, with Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman, and, yes, GLaDOS. Eh, I dunno…I’m sure I’ll probably see it, but I’m getting a Battleship vibe from this, to be honest.


Tom Cruise is Legend — or is he WALL-E? — in the first trailer for Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion, also with Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Zoe Bell, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo, and Andrea Riseborough. Hrm, ok…I was liking it better before Freeman showed up with those goofy goggles.


Meanwhile, over on the other side of the planet, Will Smith gives Jaden Smith a few Batman Begins lectures while running from iffy CGI sabertooths in the first trailer for M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth. Wait a tic…M. Night Shyamalan? Yeah, not happening.


Mr. Lowry. Sam Lowry! Has anybody seen Sam Lowry?!? Ah yes, speaking of films I will not see, he’s playing the president in that new GI Joe movie, the one where they blow up London. Didn’t see the first one, and a year of reshoots and post-conversion 3D is not normally a recipe for success.


New love awakens Nicholas Hoult from a zombie-like stupor — er, a zombie stupor — in the full trailer for Jonathan Levine’s Warm Bodies, also with Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, and John Malkovich. Cute premise…it’ll depend on the reviews.


We’re seeing this? What do you mean we, white man? Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp bring the legend of The Lone Ranger to life for Disney and Gore Verbinski, also with Tom Wilkinson, Helena Bonham Carter, Ruth Wilson, James Badge Dale, William Fichtner, and Barry Pepper. Sorry, but even with the usually reliable Wilkinson as the Big Bad, all I can see here is Hunter S. Tonto.

You’re On File.

“Under the new rules issued in March, the National Counterterrorism Center, known as NCTC, can obtain almost any database the government collects that it says is ‘reasonably believed’ to contain ‘terrorism information.’ The list could potentially include almost any government database, from financial forms submitted by people seeking federally backed mortgages to the health records of people who sought treatment at Veterans Administration hospitals.”

The WSJ tells of the (very limited) debate withing the administration that accompanied the NCTC’s new database on everybody. “It’s breathtaking’ in its scope, said a former senior administration official familiar with the White House debate.”

“I am the one who lists.”


“This illustrated countdown represents my favorite 25 films of 2012 (with a few red herrings thrown into the intro sequence just to mess with you)…I tried my best to play fair and really stick to movies that played / are playing / will play in American movie theaters at some point during this calendar year, but at the end of the day I can’t resist taking a Walter White approach to these things: ‘I’m the one who lists.'”

Criterion Corner critic David Ehrlich makes a video announcing his top 25 of 2012. This isn’t my list by any means — I still have some catching up to do, but suffice to say, The Master won’t be on whatever I come up with — but this is a beautifully edited video nonetheless.

Darkness Over Oahu.

“For the first time, I felt that numb terror that all of London has known for months. It is the terror of not being able to do anything but fall on your stomach and hope the bomb won’t land on you. It’s the helplessness and terror of sudden visions of a ripping sensation in your back, shrapnel coursing through your chest, total blackness, maybe death.”

71 years after the day of infamy, the WP publishes a graphic first-hand account of the Pearl Harbor attack by journalist Betty McIntosh, now a hale and hearty 97.

The Fourteenth Share.


With one week to go until An Unexpected Journey — I’m all set for a midnight 3D 48 FPS showing, haters be damned — first images appear from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: There and Back Again. The first pic is self-explanatory. (As one wag in the comments put it, “I really don’t like the direction they’re going with Scrooge McDuck.”) In the other, that’s Legolas (obviously) and Bard (Luke Evans), presumably discussing some facet or another of the Battle of Five Armies. I still have a troubling feeling the third film in particular will veer far into the wilderness of fanfic, but so far so good.

From Hell’s Heart…


After relying heavily on Star Wars for their first outing, J.J. Abrams and co. now borrow from the Dark Knight and the Nolanverse — especially the Inception button — to lend heft to the teaser for Star Trek: Into Darkness, with Benedict Cumberbatch as the new, still unidentified Big Bad. (Khan? Gary Mitchell? Garth of Izar? Smaug? Severus Gruber?) Eh, I’m in…but we just did the vengeance-upon-the Federation schtick with Eric Bana in the last movie.

Screw the Sled. I’ll Drive.

Driving a car actively demonstrates to potential rescue dog adopters that you can teach an old dog new tricks. The dogs have achieved amazing things in eight short weeks of training, which really shows with the right environment just how much potential all dogs from the SPCA have as family pets.”

As if most PetSmart parking lots weren’t crazy enough, an Auckland, New Zealand branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has seemingly taught rescue dogs how to drive. What could possibly go wrong?

HAL’s acting squirrely.

“Deception is not something that comes very naturally to today’s artificial intelligence programs. For most robots, it’s hard enough to navigate the world the way it is without introducing fantasies about the way it’s not into the equation. So to help robots get the hang of misleading others, the team has turned to the squirrel, or ‘forest liar,’ to give robots the tools they need to learn the subtle arts of deception.”

It can only be attributable to human error: Also in the “This will end badly someday” department, programmers at Georgia Tech teach robots how to lie. No way this will cause problems. Wait, just a moment…just a moment…I’ve just picked up a fault in the AE35 unit. It’s going to go a hundred percent failure within seventy-two hours.

?II remirP.


“I have to apologize. I was born with a disfigurement, where my head is made of the same material as the sun.” Er, isn’t everyone? In any case, Shane Carruth’s long-awaited follow-up to Primer, Upstream Color, gets a teaser. It premieres at Sundance early next year.Update: And now a second teaser.

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