Translate 41 different tongues into alien lingo
By DonKaye_ParallelUniverse May 14, 2013 4:32PM
Starting today (Tuesday, May 14), you can translate the 41 languages supported by Bing -- Microsoft's Internet search engine -- into Klingon, the tongue spoken by the alien bad guys of the same name in "Star Trek."
The introduction of Klingon into Bing's translation service comes just as the latest film in the franchise, "Star Trek Into Darkness," is set to beam into theaters nationwide.
You can now take text from any of the 41 languages supported by the Bing translation service and change it into Klingon, just as things written in Klingon itself cam now be translated into more than three dozen Earth-based tongues (Full disclosure: Parallel Universe is also a product of Microsoft).
Microsoft engineer Eric Andeen happens to actually speak Klingon -- one of a small group of humans who do so -- and helped develop the translator for Bing. The original language was created by linguist Marc Okrand, who ran with it after hearing a few made-up Klingon words in the 1979 movie "Star Trek: The Motion Picture."
Those words were spoken by late actor James Doohan, best known for playing the Enterprise's Chief Engineer, Montgomery Scott, but who would also supply voices and lines for aliens from time to time. Okrand published "The Klingon Dictionary" in 1985, while other sites and organizations dedicated to Klingon language and culture have sprung up since them.
Bing director of communications Craig Beilinson said, "We have people who understand the deep science of linguistics and we also have people who are passionate about the Star Trek' franchise. This was a labor of love from a lot of different avenues."
The Klingons do appear in the new movie, and even have a few lines, so you might want to take the opportunity to brush up now and impress your friends by not having to read the subtitles!
"Star Trek Into Darkness" is out on Imax Wednesday, May 15 and in theaters everywhere Thursday, May 16.
Plus more on season finales for 'Doctor Who,' 'Supernatural' and others
By DonKaye_ParallelUniverse May 14, 2013 12:39PM
The premiere season of The CW's "Arrow" comes to a close on Wednesday night (May 15), capping off what has been one of the most successful superhero launches on TV since "Smallville" first soared onto screens back in 2001.
For the uninitiated, "Arrow" is based on the DC Comic character Green Arrow, a billionaire playboy named Oliver Queen who, after being stranded on an island for five years, returns home to Starling City to fight crime as a masked vigilante with his chosen weapon of a bow and arrows.
When the show was first getting ready to launch, the advertising materials seemed to play up the hunkiness of star Stephen Amell -- often showing him shirtless and without a mask -- while downplaying the show's comic book origins, both of which irritated fans who thought their comic book favorite would be turned into another CW teen-angst fest.
And while "Arrow" does have its share of angst, it's of a more decidedly adult and, dare we say, dark nature, indicating that the show's creators and producers (Greg Berlanti, DC writer Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg) have taken a hint from vastly popular comics interpretations like Christopher Nolan's Batman movies.
While "Arrow" is no "Dark Knight" -- and Oliver Queen is no Bruce Wayne, a problem that has plagued the character almost since he was introduced in 1941 -- the show has set a darker, more realistic tone while simultaneously introducing a slew of villains either loosely or directly based on bad guys from the DC rogues gallery. Enemies like Deadshot, Huntress, Count Vertigo, Firefly, Deathstroke, Brutale and the Royal Flush Gang have all shown up in some variation on their comic book personas, linking the show to the books with integrity and style.
Of course, if you've been watching all along, you know that Oliver has gotten closer to the details of the malevolent plot that involved the killing of his father (with Oliver himself as collateral damage on their sabotaged boat) and that the main operator behind it is the Dark Archer, aka Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman of "Torchwood"). With Merlyn now also knowing that Oliver is secretly Arrow, the stage has been set for the confrontation between the two that the entire first season has been building to -- and the title of the season finale, "Sacrifice," is all too ominous.
Whatever happens on Wednesday night, congratulations are due to the cast and crew of "Arrow" for bringing another DC character successfully to life on the small screen. It's strange how DC has fared well on TV (the Lynda Carter "Wonder Woman," "Smallville," various animated shows) and yet, with the exception of Batman and Superman, has been unable to get most of its characters into movie theaters.
The Season 1 finale of "Arrow" airs Wednesday, May 15 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.
Also coming to a close this week is the seventh modern season of the BBC's "Doctor Who." The episode is called "The Name of the Doctor," and that alone is reason for concern: The name of the Doctor is something that almost no one knows. The reported plot description of the episode itself is full of foreboding as the Doctor journeys to the "one place in all of time and space that he should never go": Trenzalore. But it is here that the kidnapping of his friends is leading him, and where the prophesied "Fall of the Eleventh" will take place.
The show will also introduce a new race of monsters known as the Whispermen as what happens threatens to destroy the Doctor's "past, present and future lives" with the asking of a question that should not be answered (the response is what the episode's title refers to). The show will also see the return of River Song (Alex Kingston) and Dr. Simeon (Richard E. Grant), and we'll also reportedly learn the secret of why the new companion, Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) is an "Impossible Girl" who should not exist.
Of course, the rumors are flying wildly that this finale will lay the groundwork for the big 50th anniversary special, scheduled to air on BBC One in the U.K. on Nov. 23 (no exact airdate for BBC America has been announced). It's already been confirmed that the 10th Doctor (David Tennant) and his beloved companion Rose (Billie Piper) will appear in the show, with veteran British actor John Hurt set to play a major role as well ... but who or what is he playing?
There is a bizarre but fascinating rumor about Hurt's role in the 50th anniversary show over at Giant Freakin' Robot, but it's a huge spoiler, and if it's true, it has dramatic and controversial implications for the entire "Doctor Who" series. All we'll say is this (and stop reading here if you want no further hints): In this weekend's season finale, it may not be the name of the Doctor that is revealed ... but his number.
The Season 7 finale of "Doctor Who" airs Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET/PT on BBC America.
Also coming to a close in May:
"Supernatural" (Wednesday, May 15, at 9 p.m. ET on The CW): Oddly, the eighth-season closer of the little show that keeps chugging along has the same title as the "Arrow" finale: "Sacrifice." And with the Winchester brothers (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) trying to seal off hell, while others are taking on heaven itself, you know that title will end up meaning something.
"The Vampire Diaries" ends Season 4 on Thursday (May 16 at 8 p.m. on The CW) as the town of Mystic Falls is overrun with ghosts just in time for "Graduation" and the search for a cure to vampirism comes to a head.
"Beauty and the Beast" (May 16 at 9 p.m. on The CW) will close out its first season with "Never Turn Back," as Cat (Kristin Kreuk) discovers shocking secrets about her family's past, Vincent (Jay Ryan) faces his possible death and Gabe (Sendhil Ramamurthy) takes steps.
"Bates Motel" (Monday, May 20, at 10 p.m. on A&E): The wildly successful "Psycho" prequel/reboot is riding strong ratings and positive reviews all the way to the finish of its 10-episode debut season, with a second one already on order.
"Grimm" (Tuesday, May 21, at 10 p.m. on NBC): The modern fairy-tale thriller brings its second season to a close with "Goodnight, Sweet Grimm," as Nick (David Giuntoli) investigates a series of mysterious assault and learns that Eric Renard (James Frain), brother of Capt. Sean Renard (Sasha Roiz) has arrived in town.
More season finales to come in June!
Wachowskis' beautiful, baffling epic comes to Blu-ray
By DonKaye_ParallelUniverse May 14, 2013 12:33PM
One of the most entertaining things about "Cloud Atlas," the film adaptation of David Mitchell's sprawling novel directed by Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, is the end credits where you get to see every character that each of the major actors in the film played. They all portray a minimum of five or six each -- some of them lead roles, others little more than background parts -- but there's undoubtedly a few where you sit there and say, "I didn't realize he/she was in that story too!"
There are plenty of moments like that in the six interlocking stories that comprise "Cloud Atlas," and while viewing it on Blu-ray allows one to savor those a bit more, the film overall remains one of sometimes frustrating extremes. For all its complexity of structure, for instance, the movie's overarching theme -- "everything is connected" -- is simple almost to the point of banality. For every outstanding makeup job to make a star like Tom Hanks unrecognizable, there is an awkward, distracting attempt to make, say, Englishman James D'Arcy into an Asian male. And for every visionary sci-fi moment like those found in the Neo Seoul segment, there are stretches of clumsy comedy like the interminable tale of Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent).
Still, "Cloud Atlas" has to be commended for its sheer ambition (Mitchell's 2004 novel was considered one of those "unfilmable" books), its scope and its audacity in asking the audience to keep up with the way the film hopscotches from story to story -- an effect that can make even the viewer feel unstuck in time like Billy Pilgrim in Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five."
The movie also brought the Wachowskis -- whose last effort was the candy-colored fantasy "Speed Racer" in 2008 -- squarely back into a realm where they excel at world-building. While Tykwer ("Run Lola Run") handled the three stories set in the 20th century, the Wachowskis took on the 19th-century tale as well as the New Seoul and post-apocalyptic tales set in the far future and clearly felt at home there in a way they haven't since the original "The Matrix" back in 1999. We'd almost like to see a whole movie set in Neo Seoul, and we're glad that Lana and Andy are getting even more cosmic with their next film, "Jupiter Ascending."
If "Cloud Atlas" -- a gorgeous-looking film that also benefits greatly from its debut on Blu-ray -- is in the end emotionally unengaging, it at least provides an intricate maze of puzzles and clues that viewers can get swept up in intermittently. The bonus features on the Blu-ray -- including bonus features on the way the directors divided up their responsibilities, the way the stories link together, the science fictional aspects and more -- are diverting if unremarkable, a description that even its most scathing critics couldn't make stick to this impressive movie itself.
10 things you didn't know about "Cloud Atlas":
1. "Cloud Atlas" was shot at studios in Potsdam-Babelsberg, Germany, with location work done in Dusseldorf, on the Spanish island of Majorca and in the Scottish cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow -- the latter of which doubled for San Francisco.
2. While the all-star cast includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant and Hugo Weaving, actors who were asked but did not join the movie included Natalie Portman, Ian McKellen and James McAvoy.
3. The Wachowskis and Tykwer almost had to abandon the project several times when financing failed to come through or was pulled at the last minute.
4. The film was financed and made without major studio backing, and its final $102 million budget made it one of the most expensive independent films ever.
5. The Wachowskis were first introduced to the book by Natalie Portman, who was reading it while starring in "V for Vendetta" (which the siblings wrote and produced).
6. Think following six stories is demanding? David Mitchell originally envisioned nine tales for his book, including a present-day one about a Korean rapper.
7. With Tykwer and the Wachowskis working separately on their segments, the three directors appeared together on the set only one day, and only because Tykwer's shoot was canceled that day.
8. The book tells half of each story first in order, then comes back around to the second half of each, while the movie jumps from story to story usually within the space of a scene.
9. All the major actors wanted to be in all six stories, and while some couldn't make it, Tom Hanks played one role for a total of 90 minutes just to get into one particular tale.
10. Yes, "Cloud Atlas" spans space as well as time -- but you have to see the movie to find out how.
Reboot of franchise turning into full do-over
By DonKaye_ParallelUniverse May 13, 2013 5:15PM
There's been talk for a while now of reviving the "Gremlins" franchise via a sequel, but sadly -- in our opinion -- that appears to have devolved into plans for a remake.
According to Bloody Disgusting, Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg are producing the project for Warner Bros. The initial idea was a sequel to the original 1984 movie (and its under-appreciated, totally bonkers 1990 follow-up, "Gremlins 2: The New Batch"), but now in typical fashion any idea of creativity has been thrown out the window in favor of a rehash.
There's no word yet on a director (we suppose original "Gremlins" and "Gremlins 2" director Joe Dante won't be invited to the dance), or whether Grahame-Smith will write the picture too. We kind of hope he doesn't.
Why? Well, while we have not read his books "Pride and Prejudice with Zombies" and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," we do know that Grahame-Smith wrote the screenplay for the pretty lousy 2012 movie version of the latter. He also wrote the horrific script for last year's unwatchable "Dark Shadows" remake from Tim Burton. In Hollywood logic, that should automatically qualify him to write a remake of one of the 1980s' most beloved horror comedies, right? (He's also written a yet-to-be-filmed "Beetlejuice" redux and has done some work on the new "Fantastic Four" script.)
Make no mistake, "Gremlins" is beloved, partially because the creatures, brought to life by puppetry and animatronics, had such a handmade charm to them while also being thoroughly creepy. We have no doubt that all that will be replaced by CGI in the new film.
In case you don't recall, the story centered on a teenager (Zach Galligan) whose father brings home a cuddly but mysterious pet called a Mogwai. There are three rules one must follow when it comes to taking care of the little critter, and when those rules are disobeyed, all hell breaks loose.
Will the new version keep the fairly nasty tone of the original? Who knows? Just thinking about this makes us tired.
What about you? Do you think remaking "Gremlins" is a good idea? Tell us on our MSN Movies Facebook page and on Twitter.
Paul Giamatti is one very angry villain
By DonKaye_ParallelUniverse May 13, 2013 2:44PM
A fistful of new set pictures have surfaced from the set of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2,"giving us our first look at the villainous Rhino as played by Paul Giamatti.
The whole thing got started with this photo of Russian criminal Aleksei Sytsevich (Giamatti), tweeted by director Marc Webb himself:
Then these surfaced, showing Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) rescuing a man and a little girl from a falling bus, possibly after it was rammed by a truck driven by the Rhino -- who looks mighty furious and dangerous in some additional shots (via Collider):
And finally, here's Spidey (and that is apparently Garfield doing his own stunts) getting all up in Sytsevich's grill -- literally (via io9):
Now the big question is, are we seeing a new, more "realistic" version of the Rhino, or will he eventually end up in some iteration of his famous suit from the comics?
We will venture to say that Giamatti already looks perfect as the "human" Sytsevich -- but if he somehow goes full Rhino (through generic experimentation, maybe?), this "Amazing Spider-Man" could already be way better than the first.
What do you think of Paul Giamatti as the Rhino? Tell us on our MSN Movies Facebook page and on Twitter.
'Avengers' spin-off series to debut this fall
By DonKaye_ParallelUniverse May 13, 2013 3:41AM
"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." has been picked up by ABC-TV, becoming Marvel Studios' first network television series.
Both Marvel and ABC are owned by Disney, and with the series being essentially an offshoot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and especially the colossal "Avengers" movie, the show getting the green light is not exactly shocking news.
S.H.I.E.L.D. either stands for Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate (according to the comics since 1991) or Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (according to the Marvel movies beginning in 2008 with "Iron Man"), but either way, it's a secret government intelligence organization that has been one of the unifying threads of both the comics and the recent Marvel movies, culminating in "The Avengers."
In the new series, the members of S.H.I.E.L.D. will "investigate the new, the strange, and the unknown across the globe, protecting the ordinary from the extraordinary," according to ABC's official description.
Leading the charge will be Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), the popular character from the Marvel movies who met his end in "The Avengers" but is somehow returning to life for this venture. Joining him as agents will be espionage specialist Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), expert pilot Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), engineer Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), biochemist Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and the newest recruit, computer hacker Skye (Chloe Bennet).
"Avengers" writer/director Joss Whedon has directed the pilot and will executive produce the series along with his brother Jed Whedon, Jed's wife Maurissa Tancharoen (both of whom co-wrote the pilot with Joss), Jeffrey Bell and Jeph Loeb from Marvel Television.
Yes, that's a photo of the cast above, while below is a first look at the show, which aired Sunday night before the season finale of "Once Upon a Time," is now online, and actually looks pretty freaking cool.
Are you ready for more Marvel adventures on prime-time television? Will "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." be on this fall's "must watch" list for you?
Are you excited for the "Avengers" spin-off series? Tell us on our MSN TV Facebook page and on Twitter.
Production going back to where it all started
By DonKaye_ParallelUniverse May 11, 2013 1:28AM
LucasFilm announced on Friday that "Star Wars: Episode VII" will be filmed in the UK, bringing the franchise back to where the bulk of its first four movies were produced.
According to The Wrap, LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement, "We've devoted serious time and attention to revisiting the origins of 'Star Wars' as inspiration for our process on the new movie, and I'm thrilled that returning to the UK for production and utilizing the incredible talent there can be a part of that."
Taking "Star Wars" back to the UK does feel like a homecoming. Most of the original trilogy -- "A New Hope" (1977), "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) and "Return of the Jedi" (1983) -- was shot at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, while 1999's "The Phantom Menace" moved to nearby Leavesden, where much of the "Harry Potter" series was also shot. Kennedy did not indicate whether a studio had been selected for the new movie.
The last two "Star Wars" entries to date, "Attack of the Clones" (2002) and "Revenge of the Sith" (2005), were filmed at the Fox Studios facility in Australia.
Production on "Episode VII" is reportedly set to begin in early 2014, with J.J. Abrams directing from a script by Michael Arndt. Plot and casting details are all unknown at this point, although original stars Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) have all been approached to appear in the film.
"Star Wars: Episode VII" will be out in theaters in summer 2015.
Plus: Get a look at a shaggy Professor X in 'X-Men'
By DonKaye_ParallelUniverse May 10, 2013 1:48PM
A whole bunch of photos from the sets of upcoming movies has surfaced, so we thought we'd put them all in one place for you!
First up are pictures tweeted by director Matt Reeves (via Screencrush) from the set of "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," the sequel to 2011's excellent reboot, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." For fans of the original "Apes" movies, these photos should strike a nostalgic chord:
Yes, those are apes -- or actually, the humans in motion capture suits playing them -- on horseback! The first time you saw an ape in the original 1968 movie was a shot of a gorilla soldier riding a horse, so this is clearly an awesome homage to that.
That's Andy Serkis as Caesar on the horse to the right, and he's speaking with actor Jason Clarke, who plays a human survivor. Are the apes fully talking in this film? We can't wait to find out...
Next up (via Superhero Hype) we get our first look at the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" -- or again, more accurately, the actors playing them in their mo-cap rigs. Notice the shells on their backs...
Here's Megan Fox on the "Ninja Turtles" set as well:
And finally, director Bryan Singer's latest tweet shows a shaggy, very '60s-looking Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) on the set of "X-Men: Days of Future Past" -- quite a different look from the bald, distinguished older version (Patrick Stewart) who will also show up in this time-traveling adventure.
Enjoy all these as we head into the weekend...
"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is out in theaters May 23, 2014.
"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" is out in theaters June 6, 2014
"X-Men: Days of Future Past" is out in theaters July 18, 2014.
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