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22 Aug 10:20

Raspberry Pi Cat Doorbell Listens for Meows

Tennis Smith has created a Raspberry Pi-powered doorbell that listens for his to meow before sending a notification text.
19 Aug 12:55

Janet Jackson's 1989 mega-hit 'Rhythm Nation' sonically smashes old hard drives

by Andrew Tarantola

The "brown noise" is a legendary tone purportedly capable of causing people to lose control of their bowels when subjected to its gut-punching harmonic resonance. South Park did a whole thing on it. Turns out that the 5,400 RPM hard drives from a number of old Windows-era laptops possess a brown note of their own: Janet Jackson's 1989 mega-hit "Rhythm Nation."

According to Microsoft Software Engineer, Raymond Chen, who recounted the tale in a Microsoft Developers Blog post earlier this week, "a major computer manufacturer discovered" that playing the music video (above) would not only crash the hard drive of the laptop it was running on, but also any other similar model within earshot.

The Mitre Corporation was not amused by this newfound vulnerability, issuing it an entry in the CVE database. After a thorough investigation, the device manufacturer confirmed that the song contained one of the natural resonant frequencies of the hard drives playing the song essentially rattled the devices apart. Rather than recall untold numbers of decades-old drives, the manufacturer instead opted to develop a workaround by "adding a custom filter in the audio pipeline that detected and removed the offending frequencies during audio playback," according to Chen. 

17 Aug 13:02

BLIND GUARDIAN's HANSI KÜRSCH Talks 'The God Machine': 'We Said It Was Time For An Intense Album'

by Blabbermouth

By David E. Gehlke German power metal veterans BLIND GUARDIAN have a defined songwriting core of vocalist/lyricist Hansi Kürsch and guitarist/composer André Olbrich. The two are responsible for some of the finest epic metal numbers of the last 30-plus years and also for some of its most orchestrated...
15 Aug 09:21

Emily The Criminal Director John Patton Ford On Making A Throwback Crime Film [Interview]

by Jack Giroux

"Emily the Criminal" isn't about a glamorous life of crime. It's not about the rocking highs, the one last job, or the score to end all scores. It's a crime story about survival, with its characters just trying to make it through another crummy week. As Chris Evangelista wrote in his review, "Coupled with the prevailing sense of economic hopelessness, 'Emily the Criminal' often feels like a crime saga for the gig economy; a 'Scarface' for people who work at DoorDash, with capitalism as the film's Big Bad."

John Patton Ford is the writer and director behind the throwback crime film, which focuses more on the mundane than the highly stylized. There's no artifice -- just Emily (Aubrey Plaza) working and hustling. It's a character-driven film with Plaza making every moment feel believable and vital. It's a great performance When we caught up with Ford recently to discuss the movie, we talked about that great performance, and how he realized it was so strong, in fact, that he had to cut out scenes that didn't have her in them.

'I Haven't Seen The Whole Spectrum Of What She Has Yet'

Of course, you had a voice for Emily on the page, but how did that voice change or evolve with Aubrey's performance?

Aubrey is very ... she is aggressive and determined, and when she wants something, she just goes for it in such a fearless and focused way. I think when she came on board, the character became even more narrowly focused and more driven. I leaned into that. She has so much of that naturally, that kind of seeped into the character a bit more when she came on board for certain, if that makes any sense.

It just naturally happened. I feel like we talked a lot about the character's backstory and what her relationship was like with the other people in the movie. But in terms of just what she's like, just walking around, I feel like that just happened. There's a lot of Aubrey in that, a lot of her doggedly determined nature. There's a lot of her.

What made you decide to make her from Jersey?

I think that the perennial East Coast character who's stuck in L.A. is a classic, iconic character. Especially when you move here, there's just so many people from the New York area. And either you acclimatize to what it's like living here, or you don't, and you're constantly this fish out of water. I know so many people from New Jersey. And in a way, I feel like I should be from New Jersey.

My parents were living in Manhattan in the '70s and then they moved somewhere else to have kids. And usually people moved to Long Island or Jersey, but my parents moved to South Carolina. So I'm from South Carolina, but in a weird way, I almost feel like I should have been from one of those places around the city. I feel a kinship with people who are from there.

Of the '70s crime movies "Emily the Criminal" calls to mind, you really capture the mundanity a part of them, just trying to get through the day. Was that important to you?

Yeah. So many of my favorite movies are from that era, especially a lot of Sidney Lumet movies, like "Dog Day Afternoon," or [William Friedkin's] "The French Connection." Those are the big obvious ones. So many of those movies are not afraid to test the audience and to stretch the audience and to ask the audience to empathize with the sort of person that they typically would not be asked to empathize with. In a lot of ways, those movies just had a lot more faith in the audience. This is before there were algorithms telling studio execs what to invest in. It was just individuals going, "Let's take a gamble on this." So yeah. It's a big throwback.

I thought of "Straight Time" because of the casting. In that movie, Dustin Hoffman is terrifying, and at the time, I don't think people thought of him in that light. Aubrey, she's great and has range, but was showing her in a different light appealing? 

Yeah. I love so many of those movies that cast someone who you think you know, and then suddenly you see them in a totally different light. I mean, there's a joy to that. That just stands apart from the movie itself. Just that experience alone is pretty fun. I think of seeing Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler," it was so fascinating. I was like, "Here's this guy I haven't thought of in so long, and now like he's doing this." Or Sandler in "Punch Drunk Love" is the example that we always bring up.

So yeah, meeting Aubrey and suddenly being like, "Oh, look at this complicated, colorful person. I haven't seen the whole spectrum of what she has yet. I didn't know that she had all this going on. Wouldn't it be cool to show that to an audience and to pull back the curtain on this person who we think we know?"

So every day was a nice surprise?

Every day. Every day. With her, it's never predictable. She has this profound ability to catch you off guard at all times with all things. You never quite know what you're going to get. She's, and I mean this in the most loving way, a really unsafe person. She's so unpredictable. And so every day was just a huge surprise. It's a cop-out answer, but that's really the truth.

'Usually, Crime Movies Are About Someone Who Loves Being A Criminal'

How many shooting days did you have?

I mean, we shot the movie in no time, man. We shot the whole thing in 20 days or 21 days. But believe it or not, we did shoot a lot of takes and that's because of the way that we shot it. We did it in a way that's loose enough where we were able to maximize our time. We would just shoot and shoot and shoot. Very often, we'd start the scene the way it was written, and then we'd start improvising. And then by the time we've done nine or 10 takes, it's still the same scene, but it's just way looser and way more improvised than it started off.

What about Los Angeles was important for you to capture over those 21 days?

I'd say the diversity of Los Angeles. It's something I'd never see in movies. Usually, movies about L.A. are isolated to certain ethnic worlds. We're either in east L.A. in Boyle Heights with Mexican gangsters or something, or we're in South Central or we're just with all white people in Santa Monica. And none of those things are accurate.

I mean, the movie is diverse in every single corner. You have a cross section of people in every corner. There's something like a 60% non-Anglo population. 40% of the people here, their parents are first generation. So it's just diverse in a way that's hard to compare to really anywhere in the world. I wanted to show that. I wanted my experience of the diversity of L.A. to be felt in the movie.

You first experienced the world of credit card fraud in L.A., right?

Yeah. I lived in this neighborhood 10 years ago and I knew there was some kind of crime going on. I knew there was some organized crime in the neighborhood, but I didn't know what was up. And then just one day, cover of The L.A. Times, it was this massive FBI bust. And I realized, "Oh, these are literally the dudes on my block." I read about what they'd been up to. A lot of it was unexciting. A lot of it was drugs and guns and stuff I didn't care about. But then they did this elaborate credit card fraud that I couldn't believe. It was so strange and so unique. That's how I got interested.

There really aren't many guns or drugs in this movie.

There are actually no guns in this movie. The thing is, audiences have seen that stuff so many times, that when they see it, it's just so familiar. You just tune it out. Whereas if you see something you've never seen before, suddenly you have the suspense of the unfamiliar. I wanted to capitalize on that and really make it seem so granular and so singular that you feel like, "Oh, this must be real. This isn't something that I can just categorize and put into some box that I'm already familiar with. I have to pay attention, because this is the first time I'm seeing this." That's how I wanted it.

After all the research you did for this, how much do you now know about credit card fraud?

Enough to potentially put me on some watch list, I'm sure. I'm sure someone in the FBI's listening to me on my phone right now. No, I did a lot of research and spoke to people who shall remain nameless. So I feel like I have a pretty good handle on it at this point.

Not to talk out of school, but what did you learn from some of those people you talked to?

That none of them like doing it very much. That none of them did it for pleasure or enjoyment. They all had goals. They all had really specific things that they wanted to achieve. And this was just a means to an end. I think this is something integral: Usually, crime movies are about someone who loves being a criminal. I think those people are out there, but more often than not, it's just people who really want something and they can't figure out another way to get it. They end up doing this thing that's just available and accessible.

'I Always Knew That It Was A Coming Of Age Story'

Did you always have this ending in mind for Emily?

Yeah, but it's tough to talk about without totally giving the movie away to people. I always knew that it was a coming-of-age story underneath it, and that it was about someone learning what they're good at and what they like to do and what they'll probably continue to do in the future. While you're watching the movie, you're watching a thriller and you're held in suspense, but when it's over, only then do you realize, "Oh, that was a coming-of-age story," about someone arriving at, perhaps, where they were always destined to go. And so, yeah. I always had that ending.

So you always saw it as a coming-of-age story?

No, I think the first draft, I was just writing a thriller. I was trying to figure out how to write something that I could make inexpensively and that had thrilling set pieces. It wasn't really personal in the beginning. As I continued to work on it, it became more personal and more emotional. It became more about the character.

Once Aubrey got involved, was it easy to get this made?

No, it was a lot of work. I mean, I met Aubrey four years ago when she got the script. At that point, I'd been writing the script for a couple years. And so, it took us a couple years from that point to find the money. The reality is that we live in a world where it doesn't make a ton of sense to make a movie like this that's this low budget. How do you do that? How do you sell it? How do you make money? How? The system is no longer set up to support stuff like this. So it really was a small miracle that it happened.

Correct me if I'm wrong: She's in every scene, right?

Yeah. There are actually some scenes that she's not in, but we cut them out.

When you cut the scenes that Emily wasn't in, did it just make the movie more intimate?

Yeah. And also, we just discovered that the minute you leave her, it felt like some sort of violation of a contract that had been created with the audience. Without her in the scene, it felt like, "Wait a minute, this isn't the movie that we were told we were watching." It felt just wrong. She has a certain magnetism and a certain charisma. You just want to watch her do things. You just never know what she's going to do in life and in this movie. If you got her, you might as well hold on her.

"Emily the Criminal" opens in theaters on August 12, 2022.

Read this next: The 23 Best Heist Movies Of All Time

The post Emily the Criminal Director John Patton Ford on Making a Throwback Crime Film [Interview] appeared first on /Film.

15 Aug 09:16

How Matt Ryan's Constantine Became The Center Of The Modern DC Universe

by Rafael Motamayor

The DC cinematic universe, especially its live-action movies, seems quite disjointed and messy. There is no cohesive arc to the movies, no build-up to something bigger. For the last couple of years, however, that has been part of the charm, with standalone, isolated movies like "The Suicide Squad," "Birds of Prey," and "The Batman" exploring weird stories and characters in creative ways. Sure, they are not connecting into a big event film, but the sheer creativeness of each of the films makes them better than what a coherent, uniform, but formulaic universe could produce.

Reportedly, this was all supposed to somewhat change with "The Flash," a movie with a lot of aspirations. Not only is it supposed to introduce the multiverse to the DCEU, but also bring back Michael Keaton as Batman, all while also serving as a sort of reboot the same way "Flashpoint" did for the DC comics. In that storyline, Barry Allen, aka The Flash, ends up accidentally changing the course of history by going back in time and changing the past. When he goes back to undo it, it accidentally resets the entire DC universe.

While the fate of "The Flash" movie is still up in the air, it is time to recognize we don't need to wait for Barry Allen to become the center of the DC multiverse, because we already have one. The answer to every DC problem has been staring us in the face for the past eight years: make it all about Matt Ryan's Constantine.

From Humble Beginnings To A Central Role

Back in 2014, Ryan starred as John Constantine in an NBC pilot for a show built around the character created by Alan Moore, Stephen R. Bissette, Rick Veitch, and John Totleben on the pages of the iconic '80s run of "Swamp Thing." A working-class occult detective, warlock, and con man, Ryan's Constantine was praised for being a comics-accurate depiction of the Hellblazer in a show that had fantastic special effects and good use of creepy atmosphere, especially for a NBC series. But as comics-accurate as Ryan was in the titular role, the show was severely bogged down by a dull narrative and network censorship that prevented the character from smoking on screen or from being bisexual like in the source material.

The show was canceled after 13 episodes, but almost immediately there were plans to bring Constantine over to the Arrowverse. Stephen Amell and "Arrow" showrunner Marc Guggenheim campaigned to integrate Constantine into that universe as they had already introduced some mystical elements from the comics like the Lazarus Pit. Finally, in 2015, Ryan reprised the role in an episode of "Arrow" where he helps bring Sara Lance's soul back from hell, playing the same version of the character from the NBC show.

The news got even better once Ryan made an appearance on the best TV show, "Legends of Tomorrow," which then led to a series regular role and some of the best moments of that show. Constantine brought dry humor, tons of scams, and some horror flair that mixed phenomenally with the Legends' wacky slapstick, all while quickly becoming a bisexual icon on the show.

The Animated Return Of A King

Live-action is not enough for the Hellblazer, of course. Even before "Legends of Tomorrow" got tragically canceled, Ryan was already giving voice to the character on various animated projects. There was the Arrowverse-adjacent "Constantine: City of Demons" web series, but also the "Justice League Dark" movie set in the DCAU — a series of interconnected animated movies that started out as adaptations of comic book storylines but started to revolve more and more around original stories.

Most importantly, Constantine even got to be the center focus of the last DCAU movie before that continuity got rebooted, in "Justice League Dark: Apokolips War." That movie played out as a Crisis event, and was inspired by Grant Morrison's "Final Crisis." The film follows the efforts of the remaining members of the Justice League to regroup after Darkseid decimated the Earth and all its heroes. Constantine plays a major role in getting the team together and saving the world (while reuniting with his ex, King Shark!), and it is he who convinces Flash to go back in time and change the timeline, leading to a reset.

Most recently, Ryan reprised his role once again in the excellent third season of "Harley Quinn." This one is notable because the show is renowned for its disregard for DC canon and continuity, as it constantly reimagines popular characters like Nightwing, while killing established characters like Scarecrow, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and even actual actor Billy Bob Thornton.

The Key To The DC Universe

If the whole point of "The Flash" movie being crucial to the future of the DC cinematic universe is that Barry Allen is the one that causes the plot of the movie — and the eventual reboot — to happen via time travel, then Warner Bros. Discovery can easily find a way to make Constantine the culprit. I mean, the guy is a wizard! Would it be harder to believe that a spell gone wrong causes the entire multiverse to change compared to a guy running so fast he goes back in time?

Granted, Matt Ryan reprising the role in so many projects could be just a coincidence or a cool homage to a good actor in a fantastic role, but what if it isn't? What if Matt Ryan's Constantine is the one constant in every DC universe? That would easily solve all of DC's continuity problems, and allow for arguably the single biggest crossover in film. 

Forget "Infinity War," and forget "Spider-Man: No Way Home." Make a DC crisis film where you bring in all the live-action movies, the entire Arrowverse, but also the DC animated universe, and even "Harley Quinn." Hell, if you want, you can even bring in Keanu Reeves from 2005's "Constantine" for good measure and explain it as bizarro world. And if we're really shooting for the stars here, why not get Guillermo del Toro to direct the film and make the Justice League Dark movie he always wanted?

Read this next: Every DC Movie Made Prior To The DCEU Ranked From Worst To Best

The post How Matt Ryan's Constantine Became the Center of the Modern DC Universe appeared first on /Film.

15 Aug 09:14

Bodies Bodies Bodies Star Maria Bakalova On The Movie's Depiction Of Gen Z [Interview]

by Jack Giroux

Maria Bakalova is the audience's eyes and ears into the claustrophobic world of "Bodies Bodies Bodies." Bee (Bakalova) is one of the two outsiders among a group of friends throwing a hurricane party in a mansion. She's a mystery to this otherwise tight-knit group, so when someone dies, people look in Bee's direction. That's about as much as should be said about Halina Reijn's horror-comedy, which takes pleasure in toying with audience's expectations. 

Bakalova, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm," pulls off a tricky performance in "Bodies Bodies Bodies." One, she plays the only reserved character in a house full of big personalities. Two, Bakalova needs to walk a fine line between revealing too much or too little about her character. She is in a murder mystery, after all. It's a fun role for the actress, who told us about her experience making "Bodies Bodies Bodies" in a recent interview.

'That Type Of Fear And Comedy Satire Reflection Of The Decade We Live In Is Contagious, In A Way'

This movie is a great time in the theater. 

Thank you so much. I think that the movie is pretty theatrical and that type of fear and comedy satire reflection of the decade we live in is contagious, in a way. A24 managed to create something that feels so authentic and contemporary like this right now. That is a mixture of, "Oh gosh, that's mortifying, and funny, ridiculous" at the same time. Yeah, thank you for watching it.

Halina comes from theater, and you have a theater background.

[Turns to look at her background] 

[Laughs] Oh.

I started in with the jokes because now I'm like, "Okay, I didn't get to do a lot of jokes in this movie, but I can do it now in the press." Yes, Halina is incredibly talented in every way possible. She is so sensitive and she knows how to express, to explain, to make you feel comfortable that you can dare to do something extreme. I think the directors who happened to be actresses prior, their directorial debuts are very much ahead of the way that they connect with their cast. She's been phenomenal. 

The background that she has that is theatrical has been just an incredible benefit for me, because we literally spoke the same language somehow, the way that she goes through the script, goes through the idea of rehearsing, table readings, physical blocking the scene, long takes that feel like a stage play, it's been amazing. I quite missed playing on stage. So having to work on "Bodies" and feeling like I'm still in a play felt incredible.

'I'm Trying Not To Think About The Jokes In General, Even With 'Borat''

What were some of the major discussions you and Halina had about the movie?

It was very important to me to work and develop this character with her, because the character itself is so far away from me. I mean, I have to learn a lot of things from her because she's so private. That is so respectable and interesting, because I feel like the more mysterious you are, the more interesting you are, somehow. With me, it's like, whatever goes to my head, goes straight out of my mouth, which we have to work on that. But Halina helped me develop somebody that is mysterious. Somebody that is quiet. Somebody that has lots of secrets. Somebody that feels, but is afraid to say it out loud. That's the way they communicate. The way that they try to fit. The way that they even walk. Because it's such a unique part of human behavior, the way they walk.

Everything happened with Halina, through Halina, because the character was exactly the opposite of myself and the things that I did prior to "Bodies" in the last two years. I spent almost a year working on [her "Borat 2" character] Tutar, which became part of my life, which is so extroverted and out loud. It was interesting to try to fill these big shoes of somebody that has a lot to say, but will not say it. People will take that she's weak. She is the most vulnerable one and ready to, I don't know, to escape and cry and be shy when she might be actually the strongest one at the end of the day.

The misconception that niceness is weakness.

Yeah, unfortunately.

Since you didn't get to make many jones in the movie, how did you approach the few you did have?

I'm trying not to think about the jokes in general, even with "Borat." I mean, with "Borat," which was full-on satire comedy, I was approaching it as real drama, as a real-life situation, and with this one as well. I think the jokes in "Bodies Bodies Bodies," which there are not a lot of, are happening because of the circumstances she fell into and the way that she's approaching these circumstances.

These people around her that are so far from her, they have it all. They're like kids with privilege and having all of these glamorous ideas and possibilities to get them. So it's nothing like she's seen before, nothing she had experienced before. I think the jokes with Bee are the awkward moments that she just creates for herself because she's going to try to fit in the group, but she will not. She will fail because that's just not her. Just by going through the Instagram of these people or TikTok and seeing how impressive they are and trying to be impressive yourself as well. But by somehow portraying somebody that you're not, of course, is going to make you fail. And, of course, you're going to look even more ridiculous. So I think her funniness in a way is because of her awkwardness and because of her trying to fit, building a fake persona somehow, lack of communication, and she is a little bit too kind.

'What The God Damn F*** Am I Seeing?'

Probably for a lot of people, you're playing the most relatable character in the movie. Did you see her as the audience's eyes and ears in this story? 

Well, we only can do so much as actors to try to make people empathize our characters. I think that's why "Bodies" was so well-written: You can empathize all of these horrible characters somehow. Because all of them are like, "What the god damn f*** am I seeing?" But at the same time you're like, "Well, I kind of feel for you." I hope they feel for her. I hope that the message had landed properly. 

Somehow I think she has the most objective perception of all of them, because she's just seeing all of them together for the first time, whereas they have seen each other for years and years and years, having all of the secrets, developing further more toxic relationships between each other. She's like the camera. She's like the audience, so I hope it feels this way.

They all do have moments where you think, "Oh yeah, this is a person you shouldn't just laugh at."

Yeah. Especially by seeing the ending and seeing how much they destroyed each other for this. I'm not giving any spoilers, but was it actually worth it?

Since the movie plays with expectations, and you're playing a mysterious character, did you try to do anything that would lead the audience to think one way or another about Bee's part in the murder mystery? 

Well, I feel like when the script is good, you just follow the script and the director's guidance. I try to be as honest as possible, because that's all I can do. I don't think she thinks she's mysterious. I approach her as Maria. Like somebody that is mysterious. She has her reasons to be mysterious. Maybe she doesn't need them, though, because the more secrets you have, the more weak you become because you have to hide a lot of things and you have to remember what you've hidden before. 

If you say a lie, you have to remember what type of a lie you've said. So just try to be honest, whether on screen or in life. It's easier. It's way easier. But yeah, she is mysterious. But she's just somehow scared of exposing herself in a way that she might look bad, she might fail. Which is going take her to a failure as well, because she's just so hidden and mysterious.

What read especially truthful to you about the depiction of Gen Z? 

Sarah DeLappe has done a phenomenal work by using the proper language and putting a meaning behind it, because a lot of people are kind of underrating the language that Gen Z and millennials, are using. Very popular words, we're using it without meaning it. I feel like all of these people, we can see, are pretty intelligent. They are intelligent. They're just using a different slang. So, that was relevant in the script. Plus, the way that they communicate with each other. I remember the first scene was starting with the kiss that is in the movie. And I was like, "Okay, I can immediately have a vision of how this is going to look on screen."

I was seeing all of these characters that have been introduced to me. "This is this girl. This is that girl. This is the boy of the group. This is the new guy, as well. Maybe these two people can be connected." I just couldn't stop reading in one breath. I was waiting until the end to see who did it and who started it? What happened? What went wrong in this whole game night? What is happening? And when I saw the ending, it felt like somebody slapped my face and I was like, "Whoa, I would've absolutely never guessed that's what it's all about!"

So did the movie end up very close to what you first imagined when you read it? 

Yeah. I was reading it and it was all of this mixture of genres that are so well connected. It's a thin line between comedy and horror, tragedy and satire. Because the bigger the fear, the funnier the expression, somehow. The deeper the sadness, the more satirical it looks, because, at the end of the day, we're so small in this huge universe and we're focused on our little problems when something bigger around us is happening. When we see them fighting about a podcast or fighting about, I don't know, a memoir book that somebody has written? It's ridiculous!

"Bodies Bodies Bodies" is now playing in theaters.

Read this next: How These Child Stars Feel About The Horror Movies That Put Them On The Map

The post Bodies Bodies Bodies Star Maria Bakalova on The Movie's Depiction of Gen Z [Interview] appeared first on /Film.

11 Aug 13:13

This robot from Amazon monitors your home and follows you around autonomously

by Autoblog Staff
11 Aug 13:11

Bird of prey: Hawk hired to scare pigeons away from San Francisco metro riders

by Reuters
03 Aug 17:17

Turn Your Aquarium Up to 11 With the MetalFish PC Case

The case includes a USB-powered filter, oxygenator, fish health tuned lighting, and it can fit up to a Micro-ATX motherboard, 90mm tall CPU cooler, and 220mm graphics card.
28 Jul 09:05

Sylvester Stallone’s latest film looks like Rocky, Logan, and Superman rolled into one

by tom.power@futurenet.com (Tom Power)

The official trailer for the Sylvester Stallone-starring Samaritan has been revealed – and it looks like another surprisingly fun superhero offering from Amazon Studios.

Released on Wednesday, July 27, the Prime Video movie's first teaser poses a simple question: what if Rocky Balboa, aka the legendary boxer Stallone portrayed for nearly 50 years, possessed superpowers?

Intrigued? You should be. The forthcoming superhero film looks like Rocky, Logan, Unbreakable, and Superman blended together in a potentially good film. Prime Video subscribers, then, will want to add this flick to their watch list ahead of its August 26 release.

Check out the official trailer for Samaritan below:

Based on Bragi F Schut, Marc Olivent, and Renzo Podesta's comic series of the same name, Samaritan stars Stallone as Mr. Smith, an elderly and reclusive Granite City citizen and neighbor to teenager Sam Cleary (Euphoria and The Umbrella Academy's Javon 'Wanna' Walton). One day, when Sam is attacked on the way home from school, Smith steps in to save the day – and, to Sam and his bullies' surprise, displays abilities of a superhuman nature.

Putting two and two together, Sam realizes that his savior is none other than Samaritan, a superhero thought to have perished in a titanic, fiery battle with his arch-rival Nemesis 25 years earlier. Smith has been laying low ever since and, despite an increase in criminal activity in the three decades since he faked his own death, Smith refuses to adopt his superhero mantle once more. It's up to Sam, then, to coax Samaritan out of retirement and rescue a city on the brink of chaos.

Based on its teaser trailer, Samaritan looks like it'll be a far cry from other Prime Video superhero offerings. The Boys and Invincible, two of the best Prime Video shows, are jewels in Amazon's streaming crown, albeit ones with a hard R rating. 

The official poster for Prime Video superhero movie Samaritan, which stars legendary actor Sylvester Stallone

Check out the official poster for Samaritan. (Image credit: Amazon Studios)

By contrast, Samaritan seems as though it'll toe the line of a PG-13 film (that's a 12 rating in the UK), which would align it with similarly rated superhero flicks including every Marvel movie to date and most Batman films. Samaritan's gritty, real world aesthetic is sure to draw comparisons with other non-Marvel or DC films, such as Unbreakable and Chronicle, while its locations and sets have the smaller scale budget look and feel of those seen in early Rocky movies. Given its "reclusive superhero meets starry-eyed youngster" story, too, Samaritan seems like it'll take its cues from another superhero film in 2017's Logan, although it's sure to bypass the mature content on show in that X-Men movie.

Samaritan's supporting cast includes Game of Thrones alumnus Pilou Asbaek, Spider-Man: No Way Home's Martin Starr, In The Heights' Dascha Polanco, and Riverdale's Sophia Tatum. The movie adaptation's script has been penned by Samaritan's co-creator Schut, with Julius Avery (Overlord, Son of a Gun) on directing duties. Stallone and Braden Aftergood (Nobody, Hell or High Water) are among Samaritan's producers.

Having been delayed several times by the pandemic, Samaritan will launch on Prime Video worldwide on Friday, August 26.

25 Jul 12:33

A chess-playing robot broke its seven-year-old opponent's finger

by Steve Dent

In something out of Black Mirror meets Queen's Gambit, a chess robot accidentally broke the finger of its seven-year old opponent during an exhibition in Moscow, The Guardian reported. The child apparently moved his piece too soon and the robot grabbed his finger and squeezed it, causing a fracture before help could arrive. "The robot broke the child’s finger," said Moscow Chess Federation president Sergey Lazarev. "This is of course bad." 

Video shows the robot grabbing the boy's finger and holding it for several seconds a group of people come to free him. It's not clear what went wrong, but Lazarev said the child had "made a move, and after that we need to give time for the robot to answer, but the boy hurried and the robot grabbed him." He implied that the robot's suppliers may need work on the safety aspects, saying the are "going to have to think again." 

The boy was identified as Christopher and went on to play the next day, finishing the tournament. His parents, however, have reportedly contacted the public prosecutor's office. Russian chess official Sergey Smagin downplayed the incident, calling it "a coincidence" and saying the machine was "absolutely safe." 

In any case, the incident can be seen as a modern parable of the dangers of robots, even in something as innocuous as chess. On a larger scale with things like robotic cars, however, the stakes are considerably higher

21 Jul 09:58

First Look At the Characters from Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

by Luke Reilly

Paramount Pictures and eOne have unveiled the first glimpse at their upcoming fantasy film Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves via a series a shots showcasing the cast of the film in full costume.

The images, which feature stars Hugh Grant, Michelle Rodríguez, Chris Pine, Justice Smith, and Sophia Lillis, can be seen in the gallery below.

Little is officially known about the film, but an apparent synopsis discovered back in 2021 indicated the plot would involve a thief assembling a crew in the wake of a botched heist, in order to rob a traitorous
conman who stole all his loot.

Hugh Grant has been confirmed to be playing Forge Fletcher, the main villain.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves will release on March 3, 2023 after several years of delays.

To hear more from some of the cast and crew of the film, IGN will be hosting a TikTok Live at the Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Tavern Experience at San Diego Comic-Con on Wednesday, July 20.

Luke is Games Editor at IGN's Sydney office. You can chat to him on Twitter @MrLukeReilly.

01 Jul 08:33

A swarm of Cruise robotaxis blocked San Francisco traffic for hours

by Amrita Khalid

A small fleet of Cruise robotaxis in San Francisco suddenly stopped operating on Tuesday night, effectively stopping traffic on a street in the city's Fillmore district for a couple of hours until employees were able to arrive. TechCrunch first noticed a Reddit post that featured a photo of the stalled driverless cabs at the corner of Gough and Fulton streets. Cruise — which is General Motor’s AV subsidiary — only launched its commercial robotaxi service in the city last week. The rides feature no human safety driver, are geo-restricted to certain streets and can only operate in the late evening hours.

Cruise apologized for the incident in a statement, but gave little explanation for what caused the mishap. “We had an issue earlier this week that caused some of our vehicles to cluster together,” a Cruise spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. “While it was resolved and no passengers were impacted, we apologize to anyone who was inconvenienced.”

The GM-backed AV startup won the first driverless taxi permit in a major US city, and began offering San Francisco residents free rides in February. After launching its paid passenger service on June 24, early reviews from Cruise passengers came pouring in. One passenger noted that his Cruise car took an unusually long route to get to his home. Another passenger seemed to have a more positive experience, even leaving a cash tip for the driverless car.

This week’s traffic jam appears to be Cruise’s first major stumbling block, at least for its commercial service. Back in April, police stopped a Cruise car for not having its headlights on. Officers appeared unsure of how to proceed after discovering there was no human behind the wheel.

The State of California requires AV companies to report any collision that involve property damage, bodily harm or death to the DMV, which publishes the data online. A total of 18 reports involving Cruise vehicles have been filed this year.

25 Jun 11:55

Gaming and Entertainment Companies Respond After Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade

by Rebekah Valentine

Following this morning's Supreme Court decision to overturn landmark abortion rights decision Roe v. Wade, video game and entertainment companies are beginning to speak out against the ruling, and in support of reproductive freedoms.

Having previously made a statement of support when the decision prematurely leaked in May, Bungie has updated its blog post on the subject to announce it was implementing a travel reimbursement program for employees and their dependents to access reproductive healthcare that may not be available in their states.

Previously, Bungie also encouraged its audience to donate to charities including URGE (Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equality), Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, In Our Own Voice, and Trans Lifeline to help support rights to essential healthcare.

Bungie CEO Pete Parsons also tweeted the following with regard to the decision:

"This is a difficult day for our country. Good people will be hurt by this decision. Bungie will do whatever we can to protect our people and ensure they can live happy, healthy lives."

Bungie isn't alone in speaking up. Insomniac Games tweeted a statement as well which reads, "We are human beings who make games. Reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy are human rights."

Sony Santa Monica tweeted similarly a few hours later: "We believe that bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom are fundamental human rights. Santa Monica Studio will continue to uphold these values and support our team members in receiving access to the care they need."

And Naughty Dog, Guerrilla, Bend Studio, PlayStation London, Media Molecule, and Sucker Punch have also spoken up with similar language:

These statements are notable given the stance of their (and, soon, Bungie's) parent company Sony when the draft opinion first leaked earlier this year. At the time, PlayStation president Jim Ryan asked PlayStation employees to "respect differences of opinion" and reportedly discouraged internal studios from making public statements. Insomniac pushed back internally, resulting in both Insomniac and PlayStation donating $50,000 each to the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP).

Among Us developer Innersloth has also joined in with links to a number of organizations providing reproductive and essential healthcare, alongside its own statement:

"Innersloth supports reproductive choice and liberty. The ending of the constitutional right to abortion is a gender, racial, economic, and human rights disaster for both present and future generations. There are so many people and local organizations to support. If you can, len them your voice, time, action, money, or privilege. We stand with everyone affected."

Devolver Digital, publisher of games like Card Shark, Inscryption, and Death's Door, shared the following short statement:

And Guild Wars 2 creator ArenaNet, which was one of the first companies to speak out when the draft ruling initially leaked, reiterated its support as well:

Ubisoft has also tweeted support for reproductive rights, and additionally pointed to a longer statement penned by chief people officer Anika Grant and VP global diversity and inclusion Raashi Sikka from June 15 that expresses support not just for reproductive freedoms but also for the LGBTQ+ community amid the potential impact of this decision.

"On behalf of Yves and all of Ubisoft’s leadership team, we want to be clear: at Ubisoft, we believe that women’s rights are human rights, trans rights are human rights, and equal rights for all are essential to creating a world where everyone can be their authentic selves and thrive," the longer statement reads. It goes on to reiterate that it is reviewing its benefits packages for US employees to ensure that women and LGBTQ+ workers and their families "will have access to the quality healthcare [they] need."

Fellow AAA publisher EA has not issued an express statement against the overturning in keeping with its prior reported internal statements that it was "inclusive of all points of view" and thus would not issue a public statement either way. However, it did publish a letter it sent to employees today announcing it too would offer expanded travel health benefits in the wake of the ruling, and encouraging employees to participate in company social impact programs.

More and more companies have joined them throughout the day, including AAA developers such as Bethesda and Niantic:

And mid-sized and smaller developers such as Unbroken Studios, Airship Syndicate, Team Meat, Cold Iron Studios, That's No Moon, Future Club, and Hi-Rez Studios.

In addition to individual studios and publishers, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) has also issued a statement, alongside a list of suggested resources for reproductive rights, care, and support, which includes the Center for Reproductive Rights, Human Rights Watch, Planned Parenthood, National Women's Law Center, and United States of Women. Its statement is as follows:

The International Game Developers Association supports and empowers game developers around the world in achieving fulfilling and sustainable careers. We believe bodily autonomy and choice over one's own reproductive and healthcare matters are pertinent to achieving this mission. One must be in control of their own health matters in order to successfully manage their career and life.
As a global organization, we understand that not all individuals experience or have access to freedoms and liberties pertaining to bodily autonomy, and we oppose efforts to weaken existing liberties. We are deeply concerned by increased government interventions undermining and limiting reproductive choice and access to care. We applaud and show solidarity with games industry and community leaders who are taking action to support all who are negatively impacted by these attempts.

And in tech, Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman has shared a statement from Apple affirming its benefits support employees seeking reproductive healthcare that may be unavailable in their home states.

Netflix and other entertainment companies also respond

Gaming isn't the only space that's taking action. While major entertainment companies have refrained from issuing statements as of yet, reports indicate that a number of them are issuing statements to employees and offering healthcare support.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix is offering a $10,000 lifetime allowance for travel reimbursement for, among other things, gender affirming care and abortion. In an email to employees, Paramount CEO Bob Bakish reminded them that company health policies include coverage of travel-related expenses “if the covered health service, such as abortion, is prohibited in your area.” And Warner Bros. Discovery is apparently expanding its healthcare benefits to "include expenses for employees and their covered family members who need to travel to access a range of medical procedures, including care for abortions, family planning and reproductive health.”

Per a Variety report on the same topic, Meta, Sony, and Conde Nast are similarly offering or looking into offering travel reinbursement. And Disney has expressed its commitment to employees to provide access to family and reproductive care "no matter where they live."

Hollywood unions have also spoken up. A report from The Hollywood Reporter reveals that the Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA, Writers Guild of America, IATSE, and Actors Equity have all issued statements to their members offering support for reproductive freedoms to their members, while also demanding legislative action to codify the right to abortion.

In a joint statement, WGA East and West's board of directors condemned the ruling:

“Once again, this court has chosen to ignore public opinion and to violate the privacy and health of a vast percentage of the American population," the statement reads. "This decision will lead to injury, death, and the denial of basic human rights that allow Americans to lead the lives they choose without fear of interference or bodily harm. We now look to the states to enforce existing law or to act to pass new legislation that will protect against the Supreme Court’s misguided and harmful decision.”

It's likely we'll see other gaming and entertainment companies similarly come out in public support given the large number that spoke out when the draft opinion first leaked. We will continue to update this article as more issue statements.

Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.

Update 6/24/2022 2:12pm: This piece was updated post-publication to include statements from the Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA, Writers Guild of America, IATSE, Actors Equity, PlayStation London, Ubisoft, Media Molecule, ArenaNet, EA, Bethesda, Niantic, Unbroken Studios, Airship Syndicate, Team Meat, Cold Iron Studios, That's No Moon, Future Club, and Hi-Rez Studios.

24 Jun 11:54

Harley Quinn Season 3 Finally Arrives on HBO Max This July

by Ryan Leston

It’s official – Harley Quinn is back, arriving on HBO Max this July. The hit animated series starring Kaley Cuoco as the iconic Harley Quinn doesn’t have a confirmed release date just yet – but it will be back at some point in July, according to a Warner Media press release.

That’s good news for fans, who will be dying to see where Harley goes next…

At the end of Season 2, Harley and Ivy (now officially a couple) headed out on the road to cause chaos and mayhem on a cross-country road trip that Harley describes as their “Eat, Bang, Kill Tour.” A spin-off limited comic book series aptly named “Eat, Bang, Kill Tour” depicts their antics as they find themselves pursued across the country by Commissioner Gordon.

Season 3 will pick up where they left off, heading back to Gotham with Commissioner Gordon hot on their heels… and it looks as though we can expect to see even more DC characters, with Nightwing, John Constantine, Mad Hatter, Clock King, and Amanda Waller already confirmed. There’s even a cameo with director James Gunn, so expect it to get a bit meta.

Elsewhere, Harley Quinn’s Kite Man will be starring in his own spin-off – a show that’s described as “Cheers for villains” which sees him running a bar where supervillains hang out.

IGN’s Harley Quinn Season 2 review says: “the series looks to be even stronger in its sophomore outing. The new status quo and stronger emphasis on Gotham's villains help create a darker tone while still delivering all the zany, deep cut DC humor fans could ask for. Season 2 may well succeed where Birds of Prey never quite did - exploring what happens when Harley sets out to become her own woman.”

Kaley Cuoco stars as Harley Quinn alongside Alan Tudyk, Lake Bell, Rahul Kohli, Diedrich Baker, Tony hale, Matt Oberg, and Ron Funches. Harley Quinn was developed by Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker, and Dean Lorey with Halpern and Schumacker serving as showrunners.

Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.

24 Jun 10:46

Westworld Season 3 Finale Recap

by Scott Collura

Warning: Full spoilers follow for Westworld Season 3.

Westworld's third season wrapped way back in May of 2020 with the episode "Crisis Theory" (read our Season 3 finale review), capping off the HBO series' journey to the "real world" of the futuristic society where theme parks are populated by robot "hosts." Or so we thought. But now, trailers for Westworld Season 4, which debuts on Sunday, June 26, continue to feature what at least appears to be a world outside the parks. Of course, with Westworld, one never can tell...

Westworld of course stars Evan Rachel Wood as the host Dolores Abernathy, who, having gained sentience over the course of the previous seasons, left the Delos park where she lived for decades as, essentially, a slave, now on a mission to take down humankind for the sake of her fellow 'bots. Or so we thought...

A lot happened in the Season 3 finale of Westworld, so let's delve into some of the key points and try to figure out how they might play in Season 4.

Westworld Recap: Is Dolores Dead?

Year three told the story of what happened to Dolores after she had escaped the Westworld theme park at the end of the previous season. Setting up shop in a near-future L.A., she created a bunch of copies of herself, or more specifically, copies of her mind, but in different bodies, all as part of her grand plan for the season...

But did Dolores Prime die in the Season 3 finale? She seemed to be gone by the end of "Crisis Theory," even if she sacrificed herself in order to achieve her true mission. After being captured by Vincent Cassel's tech genius Serac, Dolores had her mind probed by the uber-AI system known as Rehoboam. It was looking for the key to accessing the "Sublime" (the Valley Beyond artificial reality where many of the hosts escaped to last season). The thing is, Dolores didn't actually have the key -- she had hidden it with Jeffrey Wright's character Bernard (more on that in a second) -- and so as Rehoboam dug deeper, deleting her memories as it went along, it found nothing... except for a trap.

Dolores managed to hack Rehoboam while it was hacking her, and gave control of the AI to Caleb (Aaron Paul). In so doing, Caleb, with some clutch help from Maeve (Thandie Newton) and her samurai sword, commanded Rehoboam to erase itself, which it did and which would now allow for humankind to live out their lives by their own accord -- for better or for worse -- instead of under the guiding influence of Serac's ultimate computer. The last thing we see before the credits roll is Caleb and Maeve watching as the city around them burns. Yes, Dolores' true plan was to free humankind. "This is the new world," says Maeve, while "Brain Damage" from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon plays. "And in this world, you can be whoever the f**k you want."

Yes, Dolores' true plan was to free humankind.

So which Dolores will we be getting in Season 4? When the Season 3 finale dropped, showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy insisted that the Prime version of her was done, telling Variety: "Dolores is gone. We’re not yet discussing publicly the direction the show is taking, but the fun thing about this show is, you know, from the beginning Lisa and I wanted to make a show that constantly reinvented itself, that could be a different show every season. I think it’s important with a show in which death can be impermanent — these are robots, after all — to mark the occasion with Dolores. That version of that character is gone. We love Evan Rachel Wood and we haven’t started talking publicly about exactly what the show looks like going forward. But it looks very different."

Her mind had been wiped last we saw her, a lifeless husk laying on the platform beneath Rehoboam's giant orb. Still, we also know that Dolores duplicated her mind in other hosts in Season 3, creating divergent Doloreses, if you will. Most of those were seemingly destroyed throughout the season, but at least two remain: The Dolores inside a Charlotte Hale host body (Tessa Thompson) who had turned against Dolores Prime by the finale, and seems set to be an antagonist in Season 4. And then there's also Clifton Collins Jr.'s host. He had been a recurring character named Lawrence (a.k.a. El Lazo) in the previous seasons and popped up briefly in the Season 3 finale under the guise of a cop, although Bernard figured out that his body was housing another copy of Dolores. Surely transplanting the Lawrence host's pearl (brain) into a fresh Evan Rachel Wood body wouldn't be too much effort, even though she wouldn't have the same memories from Season 3 that Dolores Prime did.

In the trailers for the new season, we see that Evan Rachel Wood is back as a Dolores... or rather, according to the actress, a character called "Christine." She told EW recently that her character is "much more human this season." She seems to be mirroring her Season 1 version, where she was on the cusp of realizing she was living in an artificial reality, essentially. "This is the story about a girl," she says in the trailer. "Every single day she wakes up, the more she sees it. But nobody else can. There's something wrong with the world, and it's her fault."

William: The Man in Black or The Host in Black?

The Man in Black is dead. Long live the Man in Black! Ed Harris' character, also known as William, Delos' big bad boss, spent Season 3 struggling with his inner demons. He was institutionalized through the trickery of the Charlotte Dolores, where he participated in a therapy session with various versions of himself from the past (and perhaps the future?), including the young incarnation who was a regular character in Season 1 of Westworld and played by Jimmi Simpson. In "Crisis Theory," William is committed to "saving the world" from the host uprising, and we last see him in the first of two post-credits scenes.

It is there that he entered a Delos International facility in Dubai where, after stating that the hosts are "breeding" and shooting a security guard in the head, he made his way down to the basement-level research lab and found exactly what he expected: host shenanigans. The Charlotte Dolores was there, telling William he's right on time, and that yes, he is going to save the world -- for the hosts. A duplicate of William, in full Man in Black get-up, then appeared and, after a brief struggle, slashed William's throat. We then saw that he was right about the breeding thing -- the facility is full of host-making machinery.

The idea that the Man in Black would go full host certainly calls back to many fans' impression of him from before the show debuted.

The idea that the Man in Black would go full host certainly calls back to many fans' impression of him from before the show debuted, as he was clearly designed to evoke the Gunslinger robot played by Yul Brynner in the original 1973 Westworld film on which the show is based. And while it sure seemed as though the real William was a goner after his post-credits run-in, the trailer for Season 4 would seem to indicate that Charlotte/Dolores has somehow kept him alive, if trapped.

Still, existence of a Man in Black host (or duplicate) does track with the post-credits scene from the end of Season 2 where a version of the character still existed in what was apparently some distant point in the show's future. Speaking of which...

Bernard Gets Dusty

Jeffrey Wright's Bernard is the last person we see in the Season 3 finale, in the second post-credits scene. As noted above, while Dolores had led Serac (and the viewer) to believe that she held the key to accessing the Sublime, she had actually placed it with Bernard, apparently because she couldn't fully trust herself with it.

Earlier in the episode, Bernard paid a visit to Gina Torres' character Lauren Weber, who is now an elderly woman but also the wife of the late Arnold Weber, the co-creator of the hosts and the human that Bernard was based on. Back in Season 1, Bernard thought he was actually a human, and part of the trickery engineered by Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) to maintain that illusion was the false memories he had of his dead son Charlie, as well as video calls from Lauren -- or at least the simulation of the same. But here Bernard had the chance to finally meet the older Lauren face to face, which was also a nice chance for Gina Torres to return to the role as the two characters mourned the loss of Charlie.

Returning to the motel where he was hiding out with the injured host Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), Bernard dons a VR headset to finally access the Sublime. And then he seemingly shuts down and the scene cuts away. But later, in that final post-credits scene of the episode, we see that Bernard comes back online. The only thing is, clearly some time has passed. Like, maybe, a lot of time. He's covered in dust, and it's possibly not just regular old dust but fallout from a nuclear war or some other disaster. It seems clear that the Westworld timeline has jumped far ahead in this scene. After all, this is how Joy described the time period that the Man in Black was in at the end of Season 2: "In the far, far future, the world is dramatically different. Quite destroyed, as it were."

Quite destroyed sounds very dusty, doesn't it? So what do you think all this means for Westworld Season 4? Let's discuss in the comments!

This story orginally ran in May of 2020. It was updated on June 23, 2022, with the latest information about Westworld.

22 Jun 13:11

Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen Want Obi-Wan Kenobi Season 2

by Adele Ankers

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Obi-Wan Kenobi stars Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen are open to the idea of continuing their characters' stories for a second season of the Disney+ Star Wars series.

Speaking with British GQ, McGregor reflected on returning to his Star Wars role for the first time in 17 years on the set of Obi-Wan Kenobi alongside Christensen. He also indicated that he would don the Jedi robes again if the opportunity arose. "I really hope we do another," he said. "If I could do one of these every now and again — I'd just be happy about it."

McGregor also mentioned what it was like to reunite with his Star Wars prequel trilogy co-star after all of this time, and how he felt in his first scene with Christensen suited up as Sith Lord Darth Vader. "I got a jolt of fear that made me six years old again," he admitted. "I've never experienced that before. I just about crapped my pants."

It seems that Christensen isn't quite ready to hang up his helmet either. Speaking to RadioTimes, the actor expressed his desire to reprise his Star Wars role for a second season of Obi-Wan Kenobi or another project that involves his character, noting that Lucasfilm billed Obi-Wan as a six-part limited series but there may be more stories to tell yet.

"Well, it was definitely conceived as a standalone story. But I would love to continue with this character. You know, I think there's certainly more there to explore and I would be so excited to get to do so," he told the outlet, adding that if there was a second season of Obi-Wan Kenobi, he "would certainly be open to" returning for more episodes.

The sixth and final part of Obi-Wan Kenobi dropped on Disney+ on June 22, and it featured a major Star Wars cameo that is sure to get viewers talking. IGN scored the episode a 9 out of 10, calling it "a near-essential piece of Star Wars viewing" that "elegantly ties a bow on the stories it began, while enhancing the ones that are yet to come."

Adele Ankers-Range is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow her on Twitter.

13 Jun 10:26

Ikea is launching a turntable with Swedish House Mafia

by Chris Smith
Ikea turntable

If you’re a vinyl aficionado, you’ll probably know that Ikea makes one of the most reliable and affordable record shelves around.

Now the furniture manufacturer is providing something to sit on top of those shelves, adding to its audio range with a turntable.

At 2022 Milan Design Week, the Swedes have announced a new Obegransad range of products which includes a new desk, armchair, and a turntable. They’ve all been designed in collaboration with compatriots, the super group Swedish House Mafia.

The chunky, yet minimalist turntable has a simple design and Ikea says it “celebrates the timeless joy of the listening experience with vinyl records.”

Other than the fact it’ll work with the company’s Eneby speaker, we know very little about the record player. We can see switches for turning the record player on/off and alternating between 33rpm and 45rpm. Stereo outs too.

It doesn’t appear as if there’s a built-in speaker, but we would expect some Bluetooth connectivity if it’s to hook up with the wireless Eneby speaker. It’s also got an Audio-Technica cartridge and a manual tone arm. It’s coming out in the autumn and is yet to be priced.

Ikea record player turntable

Designer Friso Wierman added: “Today you see a lot of slim record players that are almost trying to hide, but we wanted something very bold, and we wanted the record player to be a very physical manifestation of music.”

Ikea has plenty more to say about the rest of the range. The desk has raised platforms for speakers and a shelf for a keyboard, which suggests it could be handy for making and playing music.

Ikea armchair

The armchair is described as “the perfect balance of form and function, which is central to this collaboration. The minimalistic design creates a pure elegance, the adjustable straps strengthen functionality, allowing to fine tune the comfort level. The armchair showcases the part of the collection which supports creating a relaxing environment to enjoy your music experience in the home.”

The post Ikea is launching a turntable with Swedish House Mafia appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

13 Jun 10:25

World First Room Temperature Quantum Computer Installed in Australia

by francisco.pires@outlook.com (Francisco Pires)
Quantum Brilliance has installed one of its room-temperature, nitrogen-vacancy quantum accelerators on the premises of Australia's Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre, creating a scientific playground for its more than 4,000 researchers to interact with hybrid, quantum-classical systems.
07 Jun 13:43

Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe Release Date Announced

by Casey David Muir-Taylor

There’s good news for fans of the Beavis and Butt-Head series. The release date for the upcoming film, Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe, was revealed today alongside a new trailer.

Mike Judge's classic duo's return will premiere internationally on the streaming service Paramount+ on Thursday, June 23. It will be the iconic duo’s first appearance in over ten years.

Beavis and Butt-Head are dipping their toes into sci-fi and Judge says the new film could easily “sit atop all future lists of the Dumbest Science Fiction Movies Ever Made.”

The movie, voiced, produced, and directed by Mike Judge, will have the two not-so-bright characters working at a space camp as part of juvenile sentencing. There they excel and are asked to join the mission to space, but ruin the mission and are left for dead. They eventually make their way into a black hole and travel from 1998 to 2022 and meet an alternative version of themselves.

Besides the new film, the duo can be seen in all their glory as the full library of 200+ remastered episodes will be available exclusively on the service alongside South Park at a later time. A new Beavis and Butt-head series is also coming later this year.

Earlier this year, Mike Judge offered a glimpse at what the two might look like now, middle-age spread and all. It has yet to be confirmed if this glimpse into the future will be seen in either the new movie or series, but perhaps that will be the alternate version they meet.

An exclusive look at the new movie will debut at the 2022 MTV Movie & TV Awards, which air live Sunday, June 5, at 8PM, ET/PT.

Casey is a freelance writer for IGN. You can usually find him talking about JRPGs on Twitter at @caseydavidmt.

31 May 11:26

France officially bans English gaming terms like 'eSports' and 'streaming'

by Steve Dent

English jargon has invaded every corner of France, causing consternation among language purists — a trade fair popular with politicians during election season is called "Made in France," for example. Despite widespread usage in business and elsewhere, the government has decided to pick on gaming, officially banning terms like "streamer" and "cloud gaming," according to AFP. Going forward, the far more convoluted terms joueur-animateur en direct and jeu video en nuage must be used for any government communications.

The changes were made in consultation with France's Ministry of Culture, which has in the past touted the gaming industry as a French economic success story. However, it told the AFP it's concerned that English terms could become a "barrier to understanding" for non-gamers. (That's a solid point, as I can attest that many French non-gamers wouldn't have a clue what a term like "streaming" means.) France's language keepers, l'Académie française, has also expressed concern about English jargon in gaming, having published a lexicon of alternate French terms back in 2017. 

The changes were issued in the government's official journal, meaning they're binding on all government workers. However, it's hard to see them catching on in daily use or even on French websites or newspapers. Previous efforts by l'Académie française to replace anglicisms have not gone well — its attempt to get people to use l’access sans fil à internet instead of le wifi failed completely, as The Local France points out. 

30 May 10:25

AMD-Powered Frontier Supercomputer Breaks the Exascale Barrier, Now Fastest in the World

The AMD EPYC-powered Frontier supercomputer is the first exascale system in the world, taking the top spot with mind-bending stats.
27 May 08:16

Star Wars Celebration 2022: Everything Announced So Far

by Adam Bankhurst

Star Wars Celebration 2022 has officially arrived and it looks to not only reveal what the future holds for the galaxy far, far away, but it also promises announcements for Indiana Jones 5, Willow, and much more.

In 2022, Star Wars Celebration runs from May 26 through May 29, and this roundup will gather all the biggest and best stories out of the show. We will constantly be updating this page throughout the weekend, so check back often to ensure you don't miss a thing!

Star Wars' Andor Trailer and Release Date Revealed

Andor, the Disney+ original series starring Diego Luna's Cassian Andor, will officially premiere on August 31, 2022. Alongside the release date news, Disney also shared the first teaser trailer for the series that will take place five years prior to Rogue One. It was also confirmed that Andor's first season will consist of 12 episodes and a second part is in the works with another 12 episodes.

Star Wars Andor Trailer Breakdown: The Rebellion Begins

Check out our breakdown of the Star Wars Andor trailer for a scene-by-scene recap of this prequel to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Andor Is the First Star Wars Show for Disney That 'Doesn't Lean' on StageCraft

In an interview with IGN, Andor executive producer Sanne Wohlenberg revealed the upcoming Disney+ show will be the first Star Wars show to not lean on Stagecraft, the immersive CGI screen that has been used for The Mandalorian, Book of Boba Fett, and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

“We haven’t been working with Stagecraft at all for our show, no,” says Andor executive producer Sanne Wohlenberg in an interview with IGN at Star Wars Celebration. “It is the first Star Wars show for Disney Plus that has not been leaning into that technology.”

Star Wars: Skeleton Crew Officially Announced for 2023 With Jude Law

Disney has officially announced Star Wars: Skeleton Crew, a new Disney+ original series that will launch in 2023 and star Jude Law. Created by Spider-Man: No Way Home's Jon Watts and Christopher Ford, Star Wars: Skeleton Crew will follow a group of 10-year-old kids from a small planet who get lost in that galaxy far, far away and must try to find their way home. The story will take place after Return of the Jedi and will fit within the timeline of The Mandalorian and Ahsoka.

The Mandalorian Season 3 Is Coming in 2023

Disney revealed that the third season of The Mandalorian will premiere in February 2023 on Disney+.

The Mandalorian Season 3 Footage Previews Mando's Redemption and Looming Conflict With Bo-Katan

While it was only shown behind closed doors, IGN was part of the Star Wars Celebration panel that revealed the first footage of The Mandalorian's third season. The footage is a sizzle reel of sorts and reintroduces us to characters we have already met like Emily Swallow's Armorer, Carl Weathers' Greef Karga, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee's Captain Carson Teva, Amy Sedaris' Pelli Moto, and more. However, the big focus was Katee Sackhoff's Bo-Katan Kryze, who looks to be on a collision course with Mando and Grogu.

Obi-Wan Kenobi Production Included a 'Vader Movement Specialist' on Set

Hayden Christensen spoke to IGN and revealed that director Deborah Chow had a "Vader movement specialist on set for us to make sure we stay true to the Vader we know and love."

Ian McDiarmid on Whether Palpatine Will Appear in Obi-Wan: 'Don't Get Your Hopes Up'

During Star Wars Celebration, Ian McDiarmid himself appeared to address rumors that his character Emperor Palpatine will be part of Obi-Wan Kenobi. For those hoping for a "flesh and blood" appearance by good old Sheev, McDiarmid warns that you shouldn't "get your hopes up."

Ian McDiarmid Says a Palpatine Prequel Series Would Be 'Very Interesting'

While Palpatine may not appear in Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ian McDiarmid did say that an Emperor Palpatine prequel series potentially starring Tom Hiddleston would be "very interesting."

Indiana Jones 5 First Image Revealed at Star Wars Celebration

Harrison Ford stopped by Star Wars Celebration to help share the first image of Indiana Jones 5. Unfortunately, there was no trailer or further story details.

Willow Gets a New Trailer At Star Wars Celebration

Willow got an official teaser trailer at Star Wars Celebration and it was confirmed that Warwick Davis will return as the Nelwyn dwarf and sorcerer Willow Ufgood this November. This sequel is set 20 years after the 1988 original and Davis will be joined by Joanne Whalley (Sorsha!), Eri Kellyman, Ellie Bamber, and more.

Star Wars: The High Republic to Showcase Jedha Centuries Before the Empire

Marvel revealed the next two Star Wars: High Republic comics heading to our galaxy, and they look to take place centuries before the Skywalker Saga. Launching in October 2022 as part of Phase 2 of the ongoing High Republic initiative, this series will introduce a new Jedi Character named Vildar Mac and will take place on Jedha, the holy moon introduced in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

There's a Tiny Akira Kurosawa Figure Hidden Somewhere in Certain Episodes of The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian executive producer and writer Dave Filoni has revealed that he has hidden a tiny Akira Kurosawa figure on every episode he's directed of the Disney+ show.

Obi-Wan Kenobi's Inquisitors on Having Darth Vader as a Boss

Hayden Christensen vs. The High Ground: The Funny Story Behind Losing to Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan Kenobi Has Cut Himself Off From The Force

Indiana Jones 5: Harrison Ford Shares Tearful Moment With John Williams

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26 May 09:04

Dyson's robot claws could retire your dishwasher by 2030

by Chris Smith
Dyson Dishwasher robot

Dyson has revealed its next advancements in household robots, which are capable of washing and drying dishes, cleaning furniture and tidying up after messy children.

The reveal at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) showcases prototype robots that can grab household objects without breaking or dropping them, as well as navigate around furniture and clean the upholstery.

The plan is to bring the finished versions of the previously top-secret products to British households by the end of the decade. Chief Engineer Jake Dyson calls it a ‘big bet’ on future robotic tech that will “drive research across the whole of Dyson, in areas including mechanical engineering, vision systems, machine learning and energy storage.”

The advances, which the company says takes its robotic ambitions far beyond the floor-based robots currently sweeping up after humans, can be seen in the preview video published below.

In a blog post written in the third-person, the company said: “Dyson provides further definition to its ambitions in advanced robotics, and signals it is accelerating development of an autonomous device capable of household chores and other tasks.”

Hopefully they’re better than the claws at amusement arcade that suddenly drop the prized cuddly toy the moment its lifted from the pit. Wouldn’t want them smashing grandma’s best china now, would we?

Dyson robot

The company is seeking 250-odd experts to join its teams, which will be moving into “the UK’s largest, most advanced, robotics centre at Hullavington Airfield.” Dyson said it has secretly been refitting the hangers over the last six months as part of a £2.75bn investment in the sector.

It is awfully nice of Sir James to do this in the UK, considering the billionaire shifted company HQ to Singapore after spending years championing the potential economic benefits of post-Brexit Britain.

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The post Dyson's robot claws could retire your dishwasher by 2030 appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

24 May 10:27

Mission: Impossible 7 trailer teases Tom Cruise's biggest stunt yet – watch it here

by axel.metz@futurenet.com (Axel Metz)

The first trailer for Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part One has officially released online – and it's every bit as thrilling as we'd hoped.

The two-minute promotional spot, which was initially screened at CinemaCon last month, leaked to social media for several hours on May 21, though Paramount Pictures has now shared the footage worldwide. 

You can check it out via the video link above.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part One (or Mission: Impossible 7) is scheduled for theatrical release on July 14, 2023, with its sequel, Dead Reckoning: Part Two, slated to follow on June 28, 2024. 

Frequent series director Christopher McQuarrie returns to the helm on both projects, with Hayley Atwell, Rob Delaney and Indira Varma among those joining existing cast members Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames and, of course, Tom Cruise, on the Mission: Impossible 7 call sheet.

Both movies will mark the last in the series for franchise talisman Cruise – though judging by the event's of this first trailer, the veteran actor won't be showing any signs of slowing down.

The footage kicks off with a montage of various exotic locales set to the ominous narration of Henry Czerny's Eugene Kittridge: “Your days of fighting for the greater good are over,” we hear him tell Cruise's Ethan Hunt.

“This is our chance to control the truth, the concepts of right and wrong for everyone for centuries to come,” the original Mission: Impossible character continues. “You’ve been fighting to save an ideal that doesn’t exist, [that] never did. You need to pick a side."

We then see a series of shots showing Hunt on horseback in the desert, smashing through the streets of Rome in a rather expensive BMW, evading capture in a bright yellow Fiat 500, running through a candle-lit cathedral... you get the idea. 

The trailer really ups the ante, though, in its final moments, when we see Cruise performing a much-hyped motorcycle stunt from a particularly high cliff-edge in Norway. In a 2021 interview with Deadline, the actor said of the sequence: “This is far and away the most dangerous thing I’ve attempted,” adding that the stunt is something he’s “wanted to do since [he] was a little kid.” 

By the looks of things, Cruise certainly wasn't lying. 

As mentioned in our previous story on the trailer's leak, fans have been quick to proclaim their excitement for Mission: Impossible 7's roof-raising action. "[A] major side effect of watching the Mission: Impossible trailer is that I am no longer looking forward to any other movie this year and now want to fast forward to 2023,” one Twitter user wrote, while another said that the footage "makes the last Bond film look like a commercial for watches." Ouch. 

It's certainly frustrating that we'll have to wait until next year for the return of Ethan Hunt and company, though Cruise fans have a perfect distraction to ease the pain in the form of Top Gun: Maverick (which we awarded five-stars in our review).

23 May 13:37

London’s railway of the future is finally here

by Daniel Cooper

London has the oldest underground railway in the world, and on May 24th, it will welcome its newest addition to the family. Crossrail is the realization of a dream first mooted in 1941, but one that would only start being built in 2009. It is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the western world, arriving several years late and several more billion pounds over budget. But it’s hoped that this gigantic system will spur growth, relieve congestion on its Victorian-era network and remind the world of what Britain can do when it puts its mind to something. No pressure, then.

The London Underground as it exists today was borne out of a historical railway boom, with competing companies building routes to serve the city’s major economic hubs. Its many quirks are a consequence of nearly 200 years of politics, commerce, geography and geology shaping how things work. It comprises eleven lines, 272 stations and 250 miles of track, which is now under the aegis of a dedicated body, Transport for London.

Despite the wealth of transport links, many of the lines were built to serve a city far smaller than its present population. Not to mention that London is the center of gravity for far more than just the people living within its metropolitan area – it dominates much of the southeast of the country. It’s for this reason that Crossrail was given the green light, as both a way to relieve congestion on its tiny, Victorian-era tunnels, and to recognize just how broad London’s influence had become.

Image of Crossrail Rolling Stock at Old Oak Common.
Crossrail Ltd.

Crossrail runs from Shenfield, a commuter suburb 35 miles northeast of London in the neighboring county of Essex, via the Great Eastern Main Line. It then runs through the city, connecting to the Great Western Main Line and then on to Reading, a large town 40 miles west of London. When fully running, it is expected to serve 200 million passengers a year, increasing London and the south east’s total rail capacity by around 10 percent in total. Crossrail is primarily an above-ground line, aside from the Central Operating Section (COS); the tunnels that run through London itself.

“It’s hard to fathom how there is space in this city to put in new stations, new infrastructure,” says Olga Konopka, Principal Delivery Engineer at Crossrail. She cited an example of how when the new Crossrail tunnels pass existing Jubilee line tunnels, the gap between them is just two meters (6.5 feet). A fleet of eight 1,000-ton Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) were tasked with weaving a new route through some of the most congested soil anywhere in the world. It’s one of the reasons that Crossrail’s birth hasn’t been an easy one – since you’ve got hundreds of years worth of infrastructure that you can’t touch during the construction process.

The TBMs pulled around seven million tonnes of material out of the ground, but Crossrail’s leaders said that almost all of it was re-used. For instance, around three million tonnes of soil was donated to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. This was used to construct a new wetland nature reserve at Wallasea Island in neighboring Essex. The rest of the clay soil was used to restore landfill, raise land and, in one instance, help build a golf course.

Image of a passenger being walked to safety along the Crossrail emergency escape route during trial running.
Luca Marino / Crossrail Ltd.

Some 26 miles of tunnels have been dug below the city, which took between May 2012 and May 2015 to complete. Konopka explained that as well as being “the biggest civil engineering project in Europe,” it also produced the largest tunnels dug for the London underground. The Central Line, for instance, has a diameter of roughly 3.5 meters (around 11.5 feet), while Crossrail tunnels are 6.2 meters (around 20 feet) wide. “Crossrail tunnels have an emergency walkway in them, which is a massive improvement to health and safety from the current infrastructure,” she said.

Konopka explained that there was some art and artistry baked into the system to help things run smoother and smarter. For instance, the gradient of the railway line gently inclines in the tunnel sections approaching a station. That way, a train slows down more efficiently since some of its forward motion is being sapped by the hill it has to climb. The situation is reversed when you pull out of a station, the track sloping almost imperceptibly downward in order to give the train a speedy departure.

It should be clear by now that Crossrail, despite the fact that it is an electric railway running under a city, is not a regular subway. It may feature on the Underground Map, and even has a line name – The Elizabeth line – but it’s not an official part of the underground itself. (Pedants beware: Crossrail denotes the project, the Elizabeth line is the thing you’ll actually be riding.) Because it connects to mainline stations at either end, and uses full-size mainline trains, it is a railway unlike anything else in the UK. In fact, the closest comparator is Paris’ Réseau Express Régional (RER), a series of lines that connect commuter suburbs to the city itself, and then moves people between stops in the city – a railway that acts like a subway when it’s in the middle of a city.

Southall platform, sign and boarding ramp.jpg
Crossrail Ltd.

One thing that was often repeated was the fact that Crossrail was a project designed to marry the very old and the very new into one seamless whole. “Farringdon was the first part of the Underground,” said Konopka, “we need[ed] to somehow marry up the old and the new, and that’s been the biggest struggle.” And making a 21st century railway run in perfect harmony with a pair of railways built in the Victorian era is one of the reasons that Crossrail’s deadline slipped from 2018 to 2022. (COVID-19, of course, was the other.)

“Conceptually, the project is brilliant,” says Colin Brown, Technical Director of the Crossrail project, but “it joins up to railways that were built in Victorian times, and that’s where your problem starts,” he said. “The Great Western was built by [Legendary engineering pioneer Isembard Kingdom] Brunel,” he explained, “and the Great Eastern wasn’t far behind it.” “The technology on those two railways has evolved over many years,” he said “but hasn’t been changed since the ‘60s or ‘70s.”

Britain’s railways, including the two main lines that Crossrail connects, use an antiquated, analog signaling system to communicate hazard warnings to drivers. This system, after a series of fatal train disasters in the ‘90s, was updated slightly to improve safety, but remains a 20th century tool. The digital replacement is ETCS (European Train Control System), which brings digital technology into the railways and promises a much safer network overall. While Crossrail was built with ETCS as standard, it also had to play nice with its analog predecessors.

Subway systems, however, use an entirely different signaling system called Communications Based Train Control (CTBC). Given the density of trains using tunnels under cities, and the need for accurate location data, CBTC is key to run services with small gaps between each train. Crossrail may not be a subway, but it will run 24 trains per hour inside the tunnels, and so needs to behave like one while it’s underground. Not to mention that CBTC is the only system that can also run the more subway-esque functions, like platform screen doors and tunnel vent interfaces.

Brown explained his dismay at the patchwork of systems and why it wouldn’t have been simpler just to pay to standardize the technology. For a variety of reasons, it wasn’t deemed feasible, and so engineers have spent years finding ways to make the old and new, analog and digital, above-ground and below-ground systems work as one cohesive whole. “You’ve [never had] a mainline train morphing into a metro train and then morphing back out again,” said Brown – at least not in the UK.

CBTC is also predominantly automatic, with drivers acting in a more supervisory role while the trains are underground.This automatic system will even operate the train when it needs to reorient itself ready for its next leg of the journey. “When it gets to Paddington,” said Pradeep Vasudev, Head of System Integration, “the driver pushes a button and then he walks from one cab to the other [at the other end of the train] while the train drives itself.” This system is also sufficiently smart that it can help find ways for the timetable to recover when a train breaks down or an incident causes a delay elsewhere on the line.

And because the system is now so much more complex, and broad, means that the timetabling systems are paramount. “For the first time, a train in Bristol [120 miles west of London] breaking down could affect a train on the Great Eastern [Main Line] in Shenfield [Crossrail’s Eastern Terminus, 35 miles northeast of London],” said Vasudev. And, of course, on the software engineering side, all of this information, and calculation, needs to be boiled down to a series of simple commands that a staffer can use to recover the service when things go awry.

One problem that Crossrail was also forced to address was the privatization of Britain’s railways in the early ‘90s. Rather than a centrally-planned and operated railway, the then Government decided to franchise each region’s railway operator. Consequently the Crossrail project had to engage with a variety of operators running different lines and find some happy harmony. “We have MTR driving, we have RFLI who owns the central section of the railway, we have London Underground, who operates a lot of the stations, we have Network Rail on either side, when we go into Heathrow, we’ve got Heathrow Express which is a different operator,” said Vasudev.

“Some of that, you’ll never get away from the fact that an operator is key, regardless of how much information the system can give you,” said Vasudev. Lee Price is one such operator, a former personal trainer and badminton coach who joined the company in 2016. Price’s story is common among new Crossrail drivers, coming from outside the train driving fraternity rather than within. This was because the project opted not to poach drivers from other underground or mainline services to avoid denting staffing levels elsewhere. (Not to mention that it helps bring the economic benefits of the system to more people, creating training and job opportunities.)

Image of an unfinished tunnel at Woolwich station.
Andrew Parish / Crossrail Ltd.

Price is now a veteran of the service, and trains other drivers, although he too isn’t yet rated for the entire route. Since it’s being used as three separate railways, it will only be after the central section is opened that drivers will be running back and forth on a regular basis.

Unlike a mainline train, or a subway, the role shifts depending on where along the route the train is. “On the East and the West, you’ll be physically driving [the train],” he said, while in the COS, “in theory, the train is automatic, but we’re there for more of a safety [role].” “Although you’re doing less, you still have to remain alert,” he added, especially in the dark tunnels that require drivers to “keep their awareness up.”

Crossrail opens to the public on May 24th, with services running between Paddington and Abbey Wood. On the day, the various arms of the service will be rebranded from TFL Rail – a placeholder name – to the Elizabeth line. 12 trains per hour will run along the line, starting at 6:30am and ending at 11:00pm each weekday, with a fuller service ramping up over time. One of the new mainline stations, Bond Street, has yet to open thanks to service delays.

Work on the project is not likely to be complete for a long while yet, but if the railway does help boost London’s fortunes, it won’t be long before eyes look forward to the next project. Crossrail 2 is a proposed line running from Broxbourne and Cheshunt in London’s northeast down to Chessington, southwest of the city. It is designed to join up routes north and south of the city, and relieve congestion on those journeys as much as Crossrail is expected to do from east to west.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 and government funding cuts have put the project on ice for the foreseeable future. But one thing that is clear, is that the expertise, the lessons learned from Crossrail’s slower-than-expected birth, are currently embedded in the team that’s just finishing their work. To let all of that experience wither on the vine would seem like a criminal waste of resources. Then again, there will be voices asking why London deserves yet another expansion of its public transport network when other major cities have nothing. As always, politics, economics, geography and geology will determine the future of the most famous tube in the world.

22 May 06:15

Netflix's Love, Death and Robots finds the 'nerd joy' of adult animation

by Devindra Hardawar

What happens when animation geeks get the greenlight to produce whatever they want? You get Netflix's Love, Death and Robots, an anthology series that's meant to remind viewers that cartoons aren't just for kids. You'd think that would be a foregone conclusion in 2022, decades after anime has become mainstream, Adult Swim's irreverent comedies took over dorm rooms, and just about network/streaming platform has their own "edgy" animated series (Arcane and Big Mouth on Netflix, Invincible on Amazon Prime).

Still, it's all too common to see the medium being diminished. At the Oscars this year, the best animated feature award was introduced as something entirely meant for kids, prompting the filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), to demand that Hollywood elevate the genre instead. Even Pixar's library of smart and compelling films still aren't seen as "adult" stories.

Love, Death and Robots, which just released its third season on Netflix, feels like a crash course in the unlimited storytelling potential of animation. It bounces from a cute entry about robots exploring the remnants of human civilization (the series' first sequel, 3 Robots: Exit Strategies, written by sci-fi author John Scalzi), to a near-silent, visually lush game of cat and mouse between a deaf soldier and a mythical siren (Jibaro), to a harrowing tale of whalers being boarded by a giant man-eating crab (Bad Traveling, the first animated project directed by series co-creator David Fincher).

Jennifer Yuh Nelson, supervising director for Love, Death and Robots, tells Engadget that the animation industry has certainly made progress when it comes to telling more mature stories. "Everyone that works in animation has been talking about trying to get more adult things done because it's [about] the freedom of exploring the whole spectrum of storytelling," she said. "You're not trying to do things for a certain age group."

Love, Death and Robots
Netflix

But, she says, animators were also told the audience for mature projects wasn't necessarily there. "I think it takes a show like [this] to prove that it can [work], and that makes the whole business and the whole company town basically look around and say, 'Oh, this is a viable thing that people actually want to see.’"

Series co-creator Tim Miller (Deadpool, Terminator: Dark Fate) also points to the power of video games, which has been telling mature narratives with interactive animation for decades. That's another industry that was initially seen as toys for kids, but has matured significantly with rich storytelling from indie projects, like Kentucky Route Zero, to big-budget blockbusters like The Last of Us. Games and animation are practically evolving together, with audiences demanding more complex ideas and creators who were raised on earlier generations of those mediums. You don't get to the excellent Disney+ remake of DuckTales, or Sony's recent God of War, without a fondness for the simple joys of the originals.

"Animation has grown so much and reflects a taste of the people making it and the people that are watching it," Nelson says. "It's a generational shift. People demand a certain level of complexity in their story, and so it's not princess movies anymore."

Love, Death and Robots

With every season of Love, Death and Robots, Nelson says that she and Miller are focused on finding stories that evoke a sense of "nerd joy." There's no overarching theme, instead they look out for projects with scope, emotion and a potential to be visually interesting. And while none of the shorts have been turned into standalone series or films yet, Nelson notes that's a possibility, especially since some authors have explored other ideas within those worlds. (I'd certainly love to see those three quirky robots poking fun at humanity for an entire season.)

The series also serves as a showcase for a variety of animation techniques. Some shorts show off meticulously crafted CG, while others like Bad Traveling use motion capturing to preserve the intricacies of an actor's movement or face. Jerome Chen, the director of military horror short In Vaulted Halls Entombed, relied on Unreal, which makes his piece seem like a cut-scene from a game I desperately want to play. And there's still plenty of love for more traditional 2D techniques, like the wonderfully bloody Kill Team Kill (directed by Nelson, a far cry from her playful Kung Fu Panda sequels).

Love, Death and Robots
Netflix

"The tech doesn't replace the art, but the experimentation allows these studios to find ways of doing things better," Nelson said. "[The show gives] freedom for all these different studios to try their own language."

Miller has a slightly different view, saying on some level it's like "tech is the art and they somehow mixed together." While he agrees with Nelson, who was quick to point out "artists can make art with a stick," Miller said you'll still need a certain level of sophisticated technology to create photorealistic stories.

The great thing about an anthology series like Love Death and Robots? Both of those philosophies can co-exist while equally demonstrating the power of animation.

20 May 07:22

Marvel’s Daredevil is reportedly getting a brand new series on Disney Plus

Oh glorious day! It appears as though the 'Man Without Fear' will finally be returning to our screens in the near future, with Variety reporting that a brand new Daredevil series is currently moving forward at Disney Plus.

According to the report, the new Daredevil series will be written and executive produced by Matt Corman and Chris Ord, known for their work on such shows as Covert Affairs and Containment, though the duo's representation has declined to comment on the matter.

Marvel's Daredevil previously enjoyed three successful seasons on Netflix before being unceremoniously cancelled back in 2018 along with all the streaming giant's other Marvel shows at the time.

As for this new series, actor Charlie Cox is expected to reprise his role as Matt Murdock, the blind lawyer who moonlights as the vigilante brawler Daredevil, as is Vincent D’Onofrio, who played the villainous crime lord Wilson Fisk, better known as Kingpin.

Daredevil in the MCU: what to expect

Although Netflix's Marvel adventures always occurred adjacent to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, its characters never really crossed into the MCU proper until Kingpin's arrival in the first season of Hawkeye. That was followed almost immediately by Matt Murdock's brief appearance as Peter Parker's lawyer in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Rumors of a new Daredevil series on Disney Plus began to surface soon after, with Cox himself stating he wants a Daredevil and Wilson Fisk rematch in the MCU.

If Variety's report is to be believed (and it probably should, given the longstanding publication's reliability), Cox will surely get his chance to don the Daredevil costume and resume his criminal-pummelling duties.

That said, we suspect Disney's version of Daredevil will be far less violent and brutal than the one that debuted on Netflix, going by Hawkeye's far less menacing take on the character of Kingpin (who was last seen wearing a goofy white suit and Hawaiian shirt combo).

In truth, that seems like a reasonable trade-off to us – it's entirely possible for Daredevil to engage in brilliantly staged fight scenes without revelling in blood and guts, and softening the character will make it easier for him to interact with other heroes from the MCU – could Matt Murdock team up with fellow lawyer She-Hulk on a case? It seems likely!

Additionally, it would also open the show's creators up to Daredevil comics outside of the usual Frank Miller / Brian Michael Bendis orbit, such as Mark Waid's utterly fantastic 2011-2014 run, which had a tone much closer to what we've seen from the MCU.

That said, nothing has been confirmed at this stage, so we'll have to wait until Marvel or Disney makes an official announcement. In the meantime, you can stream the first three seasons of the previous Daredevil series on Disney Plus right now. Not a Disney Plus subscriber? You can sign up now by clicking on one of the options below.

17 May 13:48

Conti ransomware group threatens to oust Costa Rica's government as crisis deepens

by Steve Dent

Last week, Costa Rica declared a state of emergency following a massive Conti ransomware attack on its government. Now, Conti has boosted its threat, saying its aim is nothing less than to overthrow the government, The Associated Press has reported. "We have our insiders in your government," the group said. "We are also working on gaining access to your other systems, you have no other options but to pay us."

The group, which also doubled its ransom demand to $20 million, may be trying to take advantage of the fact that Costa Rica's President Rodrigo Chaves has only been in office for a week. "We are at war and that’s not an exaggeration," Chaves said, adding that officials were dealing with a national terrorist group with collaborators inside the nation. He says that the scale is broader than thought, with 27 government institutions, including municipalities and state utilities, affected. 

The US State Department has declared a $10 million bounty on Conti, saying the attack "severely impacted the country's foreign trade by disrupting its customs and taxes platforms." It's reported to have affected Costa Rica's ministries of finance, labor and social security, among other bodies. 

Conti was also in the news recently after attacking Parker Hannifin, a major component supplier for Boeing and Lockheed Martin. It reportedly infiltrated current and former employees, stealing information like their social security numbers, passport numbers, bank and routing numbers and more. 

However, the threat to overthrow Costa Rica's government is likely just a ruse to extort more money, according to a ransomware analyst cited by the AP. "I believe this is simply a for-profit cyber attack," said Emisoft's Brett Callow. "Nothing more."

16 May 21:58

PlayStation Has Created A "Gamer Dictionary" And It's Actually Incredibly Useful

Sony has released PlayStation's ultimate list of popular, gaming-related terms, and while that might conjure up images of someone twice your age explaining what "pwning some noobs" means, it turns out it's actually incredible useful.

Published as a part of Sony's "This Month On PlayStation" blog, the list contains well over 100 words and phrases that are all regularly used in gaming spaces. While it does contain more than a few dated phrases (see: "git gud" and "noob-tube"), the list delves into plenty of useful terms as well.

For example, the list might be helpful to those trying to understand certain game design elements or genres, as it explains things such as what it means for a game to be procedurally generated as well as the differences between RPGs, ARPGs, JRPGS, and CPRGs. It also covers quite a few more technical and hardware-driven terms, including haptic feedback, ray-tracing, resolution, frame rate, and more. For those new to certain genres or online gaming, it also explains concepts like "farming," "min-maxing," "camping," and "juggling." Not sure what it means when your teammates tell you to "pull aggro" or ask you about your loadout? Sony's dictionary covers that too.

Continue Reading at GameSpot