Category Archives: Guest Post

Could A Wonder Woman Game Be On The Way?

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Wonder Woman is all the rage in the comic world of superhero developments. The character is set to be played by Gal Gadot when making her silver screen debut in next year’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice but will then get a solo film in 2017. Additionally, an article at Tech Times recently confirmed that DC Comics will revamp the character in print, too, with an upcoming new series called “The Legend Of Wonder Woman.” The comics will apparently tell the story of a young Diana Prince (aka the eventual Wonder Woman) growing up as an Amazonian princess before taking on the rest of the world.

This is all a pretty big victory for those who have been calling for more of a female presence in the superhero entertainment industry. Wonder Woman truly is everywhere: in upcoming films, in a new comic strip, in entertainment news headlines, and expected to be flying off the shelves as a popular Halloween costume once again. But one question that has yet to be answered could end up being one of the biggest ones for the ongoing exposure of the character to modern fans: is there going to be a video game as well?

As of now there’s not much talk of such a project, though it’s worth noting that Wonder Woman does already exist in a few modern games. Most notable among these are the popular Injustice games that exist on both console and mobile devices, incorporating a huge selection of DC characters in a brawler/combat style. And Wonder Woman is right there among them. However, the character is also featured at Gala Casino’s games section in a slot machine experience. The game is largely about the slots and involves real money play, but it has a brilliant comic-esque Wonder Woman cover and includes the “Ares bonus game” in which Wonder Woman fends off a plague of zombies. Not bad, at least for invoking some Wonder Woman lore.

But gamers and Wonder Woman enthusiasts alike will be holding their breath for more given the emergence of the character and the lack, currently, of signature DC game series. In fact, with the exceptional “Arkham” series now wrapped up, a Moviepilot editorial went in-depth discussing why Rocksteady (the developers who made the “Arkham” games) should consider partnering with Warner Bros. for a major Wonder Woman franchise. (*Editor’s note: Not to mention this franchise would be pretty lucrative just by attracting the female gaming audience who loved Arkham but yearn for more diversity in main characters, story lines, and who have been begging for  female comic book characters to be the center attraction in well anything.) Some of the specific suggestions are pretty exciting, but the basic idea is that Rocksteady could infuse Wonder Woman games with the same scope, detail, and basic fighting and movement mechanics that so many loved in the “Arkham” series, while creating whole new worlds to do it in. Because Wonder Woman sort of bounces back-and-forth between mythical realms and the DC Universe, such games could make use of everything from Gotham City to Olympus, with fascinating new supporting characters and villains to go with the settings.

At this point it’s still only an idea, but it’s certainly a fascinating one to think about. DC appears to be determined to get the cinematic version of Wonder Woman right, and if she’s as popular with fans as many hope she will be, a major gaming adaptation may be a natural next step.

The Mystery of a Great Book

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I spent months slaving away on my first story, a science fiction epic of grandiose proportions. When I completed it, I thought to myself, “This is great. Everyone’s going to love this.”

I was nine years old.

But seriously. I had written something I’d never read anywhere else before. It was new and bold. It was, in fact, a science fiction adventure called “Mr. Mooney Goes to the Moon” about an ordinary guy selected (by mail!) to go to the moon, where he has adventures and comes home again.

I liked it.

My parents oohed and ahhed appropriately. My sisters and brothers said, “Good job, bro!” My best friend politely said, “Nice. Now let’s go ride bikes.”

At nine years old, the secret to a really great story was still a mystery. My knowledge of those particulars lay in my distant future; I was a long way away from writing The Ultra Thin Man, and I had a lot to learn.

I’m still learning.

Learning how to write is cheap. I listened to professional writers give me conflicting advice. I heard writers and editors say use common sense. Some said intuition leads the writer in the right direction. Some believed writers write when they’re inspired. Some touted the importance of complicated outlines. Some said just start writing and see what happens.

After college, I started submitting short stories with serious intent, emerging from my insular writer’s lair to put new stories out there, competing with a scrum of writers bent on similar goals. But I still didn’t have a clue about what made a story great.

My first rejection letter came to me in 1981: a little card from Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, with a cute illustration of a pig dressed as a mailman looking up with consternation at an open mailbox, a slimy tentacle sticking out from the inside holding a letter. Editor George Scithers had typed an actual note on the card. I would’ve been awed by this personal attention if I hadn’t immediately noticed the first word, “Sorry.” He went on to say: “This fails to hold interest. The characters are one-dimensional and they tend to give long lectures about the situation instead of live in it.”

And, finally, he inserted a small dagger to the heart: “The story lacks any central wonder or new idea.”

Ouch.

Not ready to give up, I cranked out new stories and mailed those out, and the rejections piled up. Some were form rejections, some had a few encouraging notes. I took some classes. Attended some workshops. Eventually sold some stories. Not many; I still received way more rejections than acceptances. Then I debuted Talebones, a small press magazine I edited for 14 years until 2009. I received about 200 short story submissions a month. At a twice-a-year schedule, that meant 1200 submissions an issue, and I could only buy about eight stories.

Mostly, these stories (like my earliest attempts) were boring. I admired the courage of some of these writers, who were chucking their work into the mail as fast as I could reject them, but I started to learn more about my own writing. I began to see that it wasn’t so much the courage of these writers that mattered. It was about how well they could communicate with readers. You see, as an editor, I was now an audience. I had certain things I liked about stories, things I hated. I wanted to be entertained. I wanted stories to pull at my heartstrings, or strike me with fear. I needed the best stories in my magazine because I had subscribers who expected great stories.

What I learned is the same thing filmmakers intuitively understand when they make movies. The audience is most important. The audience desires story. They want to be entertained. They want to be enlightened. How do filmmakers do that? They merge language and style with strong actors and powerful images and emotional music, and they draw a cathartic response from the audience without them seeing who’s pulling the strings.

When I understood this, I realized the same rules applied to writing short stories, and when I started working on novels, I found that the rules held sway here as well. Language creates that relationship between the writer, the characters, and the reader. Maybe I could even write the type of book that got picked up for film or TV. (It’s a dream I have.) But I knew, deep down, a book that paid attention to its relationship with the audience, if nothing else, was a book that had soul.

A book with soul is faithful to itself, but it shares that experience with the reader, and that makes for a great book.

PSwenson1 credit Bobbie ClimerGuest post written by Patrick Swenson, author of the novel “The Ultra Thin Man.” Swenson is the publisher and proprietor of Fairwood Press, a small Fantasy and Science Fiction publisher based in Washington state. You can find him online at www.patrickswenson.net and on Twitter at @patrick_swenson. “The Ultra Thin Man.” is his first novel.

Photo Credit: Bobbie Climer

At the Intersection of Geeky and Cool: Hackers in the Movies

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Despite continued efforts on the part of government coalitions and private security firms to stem their activity, hackers continue to present a significant threat to any individual or organization intent on keeping information secure. According to a 2011 survey from the Ponemon Institute, 90 percent of companies claim to have been targeted by hackers. Fortunately, the reach of individual hackers remain far less extensive than what is portrayed in the hottest hacking movies of the past 20 years, but films such as “Hackers” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” still do an excellent job of showing the potential consequences of security breaches.

Hackers

One of the earlier films starring Angelina Jolie, the 1995 cult hit “Hackers” focused on a group of high school computer geniuses attempting to bring down a group of corrupt corporate leaders. Yes, the film’s protagonists were definitely dorky, as reflected in the alias ‘Zero Cool,’ but they also retained the sort of geeky hip status later seen in such real-life figures as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. At the time of its release, the film received some flak for engaging in what many termed as ‘hacksploitation,’ but critic Roger Ebert ultimately viewed it as a valuable contribution to an increasingly prominent film genre.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Based on the hit novel by Stieg Larsson, the American remake of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” movie appealed to British and American audiences, with its casting of Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. Although the plot failed to completely revolve around hackers, this subculture still played an essential role, allowing protagonists Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist dig up the dirt necessary to solve a deadly mystery. Expect even greater influence from Lisbeth’s hacking friends in such future releases as “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” Much of the hacking plot from the novelized sequels reflected the reality of circa-2004 hackers and, assuming this subplot is retained in the upcoming films, should give audiences an inside look at the real lives of international hackers.

Live Free Or Die Hard

The fourth installment in the popular “Die Hard” series, “Live Free Or Die Hard” shifted its focus to the efforts of cyber terrorists, a growing concern among audience members in 2007. Despite the liberal interpretation of cybersecurity taken by screenwriters and film producers, many elements of the “Live Free Or Die Hard” plot were based in reality. For example, while critics deride fears concerning the diversion of natural gas as overblown, they do acknowledge the ability of talented individuals to access everything from personal bank accounts to the Social Security Administration, exemplifying the need for experts at LifeLock and identity theft protection companies at large to continue to provide fraud protection and thwart hackers.

The Matrix

In “The Matrix,” hackers are viewed not as villains but as victims of a very punitive and misleading system. But unlike their fellow sufferers, talented characters Trinity and Neo find the means to fight back, utilizing their tech talents for the good of society. Action heroes reflect society at large, which is why Neo and Trinity’s status as computer geeks proved so significant throughout the course of “The Matrix” trilogy.

Guest Post Written by Jerry Holloway

Jerry has a degree in computer science and writes about the ever-evolving world of computers.

From “Easy Rider” to “The Terminator”: The Hottest Motorcycle Actors

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Motorcycles remain the quintessential sign of the rebellious spirit — although they’re nowhere near their level of Hollywood glory from the 1960s and ’70s. However, a comeback just might be on the horizon! Fueled by films in which cool-talking dudes ride snazzy bikes while wearing sweet motorcycle helmets, the return to the motorcycle age offers excitement for enthusiasts of all ages. It also means a renewed interest in such classics as “The Great Escape” and “Easy Rider” — films perfect for inspiring and fostering that enduring motorcycle spirit.

Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape”

Steve McQueen’s motorcycle stint in “The Great Escape” is arguably the most iconic motorcycle jump in cinema history. First, the 1961 Triumph TR6 Trophy Bird had to undergo significant changes before it became an integral part of the film. Set in World War II Germany, the film would not have worked with a 1961 motorcycle. Instead, set designers painted it an unobtrusive gray to hide the anachronism — not that such efforts stopped McQueen’s biking antics from stealing the show! To be fair, McQueen didn’t actually take part in the iconic fence jump for which “The Great Escape” is still remembered. A stuntman stepped in for those honors, leaving McQueen the enviable task of riding a sweet bike in all the ‘easy’ scenes.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Terminator”

Say what you want about Arnold Schwarzenegger, or rather, “Ah-nold,” you must admit he looks pretty snazzy on a motorcycle. In “The Terminator,” the beefcake movie star brought Austrian appeal to his Honda 750, with which he chased the adorable (but surprisingly effective) Honda Scooter carrying Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor. Later films included equally impressive bikes, such as the Indian Motorcycle from “Terminator 3.” According to USA Today, Schwarzenegger reunited with the beloved Indian Motorcycle during a 2010 visit to Simi Valley.

Marlon Brando in “The Wild One”

Bad boy Marlon Brando captured the hearts of millions of teens with his 1953 appearance in “The Wild One.” Although not necessarily his best film, photo stills from the movie continue to elicit female interest — both from Brando’s Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle and his soulful eyes. Enthusiasts at the Daily Mail claim that Marlon Brando and his Triumph Thunderbird are in the midst of a revival, posting record sales of 49,000 bikes in 2009 alone.

Peter Fonda in “Easy Rider”

No list of the hottest motorcycle stars is complete without Peter Fonda and his Captain America Harley-Davidson from the classic rebel film “Easy Rider.” Considered the ultimate motorcycle movie, “Easy Rider” set the standard for all later biker films. Although Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper also offered their acting expertise (and sweet bikes) to the effort, Peter Fonda proved most successful in raising heart rates. Sadly, according to KVUE ABC News, a 2010 fire destroyed Fonda’s iconic “Easy Rider” bike, along with a whole host of other vintage automobiles and motorcycles. Fortunately, Peter Fonda did not suffer the same fate.

This guest post was written by William Martin.

William Martin knows a thing or two about video marketing. Chances are, you’ve seen the work he’s done for his clients on YouTube ads.

Great Movies that Started as Books or Plays

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You’ve probably never thought of Disney as a giant recycling company, but it’s one of the best in the entertainment business at taking old classic tales such as “Cinderella,” or books such as “101 Dalmatians,” and turning them into feature films. Its popular movies are then spun into television shows, Disney books and ice skating shows. A few, including “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King,” and now “Aladdin,” have also been recreated as Broadway musicals Continue reading

DVD Review: Yours Mine & Ours (1968)

Time for home movies

In the 1960s, big Catholic families weren’t uncommon. Nor were big navy families. But a family of 22 was remarkable. A true story of a navy widower, Frank Beardsley, with 10 children and a navy widow, Helen North, with 8 children, who fall in love and end up with two more children inspired this 1968 film. A 2005 remake starring Rene Russo and Dennis Quaid took the basic premise but adapted it heavily to make it more relatable for a modern audience. We’re focusing on the original film, which stars the legendary Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda. Continue reading

Set Design Secrets from “The Great Gatsby”

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Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” is a sumptuous visual feast for the moviegoer this summer. With a $104 million dollar budget, Luhrmann and his wife, Oscar-winning set designer Catherine Martin, have created a visually unique movie. A daring mix of old and new, this interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel has created quite a buzz offering a new look at the Roaring Twenties. Continue reading

A Brief History of Single-Season Television Shows – Infographic

The current TV season officially ends next Wednesday, May 22nd, and with it comes several show cancellations. A second season is never a sure thing; TV networks commonly cancel shows that started off with a lot of hype. In fact, approximately 25% of shows get canceled after their first season.

666 Park Avenue, Last Resort, and Golden Boy are just a few shows on the chopping block this year after only one season. Check out the data we compiled covering single-season shows from 1955 to today.  You’ll be surprised to find that some of the best known actors and executive producers in the industry were also attached to several canceled shows. Continue reading

How Will the ‘Need For Speed’ Video Game Franchise Influence the Movie?

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The venerable racing game franchise “Need for Speed” has kept up its high-octane momentum for the better part of two decades, and it’s now racing to the silver screen. Beginning with “Need for Speed” in 1994 to the recent “Need for Speed: Most Wanted” in 2012, the franchise has accrued a legion of fans over the years, a fact that no doubt contributed to the movie’s creation. Let’s take a look at how the video game franchise may have inspired the movie, which is set to open spring 2014. Continue reading

The Best Animated Movies for Kids

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Through moving illustrations and computer-generated images, animators create movie magic that stirs the heart and soul. Animation surpasses the limits of live action film and offers an integral function in galvanizing a child’s imagination. Here are some of the most creative and innovative animated movies of recent memory.

Cars

A tale of anthropomorphic automotives, Pixar’s “Cars” tells the story of rookie racer Lightning McQueen and his efforts to travel to California to win a tiebreaker race. When McQueen takes an unintentional detour into the antiquated town of Radiator Springs, his chance to win the gold cup seems to have disappeared in a puff of exhaust fumes. Fortunately for the determined race car, he meets an eclectic crew of vehicles to help him arrive at his destination. The film is an animated love letter to cars and features animated equivalents to the Plymouth Superbird, Hudson Hornet and Porsche 911 Carrera among others. The race cars of the Piston Cup are all equipped with new Goodyear tires, or “Lightyear” tires as they’re called in the film.

WALL-E

Centuries into the future, Earth has been transformed into a planetary landfill. Robots, like WALL-E, are left to sort out the worldwide mess, while humanity becomes morbidly obese after flocking to space. WALL-E is soon joined by EVE who is searching for sparse signs of vegetation, and a story of robotic romance ensues. For two lead mechanical characters that communicate wordlessly, they are both astonishingly relatable and human-like. This animated film is no mere children’s movie, but an undeniable science-fiction masterpiece displaying the dangers of rampant consumerism, over reliance on technology and environmental apathy.

Shrek

Everyone’s favorite Scottish ogre challenged animation powerhouse Disney with the release of “Shrek” in 2001. When Shrek’s swamp home is overrun by fairytale creatures, the not-so-jolly green giant and a garrulous donkey must stop the lord who is responsible for their displacement. The film successfully parodies fairy tale classics, and places Shrek in the unlikely shoes of a charming hero archetype to save the beautiful princess—who coincidentally plans to marry the villainous lord.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Wes Anderson brilliantly adapts Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book into a stop-motion spectacle. Unable to control his larcenous nature, the dashing Mr. Fox brews up a plan to rob the nefarious farming trio of Boggis, Bunce and Bean which places his fellow animal kingdom in peril. The comic caper features impressive animation, an A-list cast of voice actors and is steeped in Anderson’s characteristic charm and quirkiness.

Toy Story

“Toy Story” is the film that launched CGI-animated movies and placed Pixar firmly on the map. You should know the story by now: a group of toys inconspicuously live out their lives under their child owner Andy’s nose. Cowboy Woody’s status as “number one toy” is threatened when space-age action figure, Buzz Lightyear, arrives at Andy’s birthday. When a sadistic toy torturing neighbor jeopardizes Andy’s toys, Buzz and Woody must overcome their rivalry and live to be played another day.

This guest post was written by Tiffany Smith.

Tiffany is a writer, editor and artist from San Franscisco.