Friday, February 27, 2015

Five Things That Woke Me in the Night Throughout the Week

Let’s see what I fixated on in the dead of night at various times throughout this past week…

1.    Why can’t my Pikachu be as awesome as the one on TV?

No matter the game, try as I might, I can never seem to catch, train or trade a Pikachu that is actually worth a shit.

That Pikachu on TV?

That asshole is one episode from curing genital herpes. Meanwhile, all of mine, at best, are just... OK.

And don’t give me that horse shit about the one on the cartoon being special. I’ve taken down Team Rocket, Team Plasma and Team Flare. Alone!

If anyone deserves a special Pikachu it’s me!

Goddamnit, it’s me…

Tom Puts My Skin On For Me - A Chat With SFX Make-Up Artist THOMAS SMITH

I’ve never really mentioned prosthetics or special effects makeup in very much detail in any of my columns before.

It isn’t something I have done much of myself, because for those amazingly realistic finishes you see in the movies, it takes time, practise and wisdom that only comes from experience.

Special effects makeup itself is an art form and can really make a movie, so I sincerely apologise for overlooking something so vital to cinema and costume until now.

In terms of SFX makeup, 2014 was a good year. X Men: Days of Future Past, Horns, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and I, Frankenstein, for instance. all had some cool makeup that looked impressive on screen and has probably left some cosplayers itching to try it out for themselves.

The award winning He Took His Skin Off For Me, a release from last year that may have slipped under your radar, has probably some of the best SFX makeup a budding cosplayer can hope to learn from. It’s basically a Kick Starter funded, gory and touching 101 of the human anatomy, and their website even has a link to "how to" tutorials.

If makeup for film and special effects is something that interests you, or you just want to be grossed out and moved at the same time then you should really see this short.

By Ben Aston

I managed to get hold of the sculptor and artist Thomas Smith, known for his work on Thor: The Dark World, Dark Shadows, Maleficent, World War Z and Ridley Scott’s recent Exodus to ask him about his creative input on He Took His Skin Off For Me.

Leonard Nimoy: Beyond Spock

By Erin Maxwell

This morning, actor, director and writer Leonard Nimoy passed away after battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

His long and esteemed career in the entertainment industry is best marked by his turn as Spock on Star Trek. Adorned with spiked ears, high-arched eyebrows and his stoic demeanor, Nimoy’s Spock became an iconic character on both the small and large screen, a character wisdom forever influenced generations of fans, as well as pop culture itself.

But Nimoy was more than the Vulcan he portrayed. There was a time where his acting chops depended on more than just ears and logic.

Here is a look back on a few of his early TV roles.

BLACK & WHITE & SHINY ALL OVER: Robots in Classic Sci-Fi Films

Robots (or "iron men" or "mechanical men") occupy one of the most important positions in science fiction film history.

Some great classic robots appeared in color, like Robby from Forbidden Planet, 1956, or Gog and Magog from Gog, 1954.

But since most robots are silver and gray anyway, they rarely suffer from appearing in black and white.

Depending on how you define "robot" you might mention the mechanical "statue" from The Mechanical Statue and the Ingenious Servant (a 1907 short, apparently lost) or the mechanical "dummy" from A Clever Dummy (a 1917 short), both of which make very brief appearances.  If androids count as robots, then you might mention "Frank" from Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965).

I'm going to list "real" robots in feature films - the ones everyone would recognize as robots.

The earliest robots were super tough and super strong.  Most were silent, even when appearing in sound films.  Not until the 1950s did robots attain beam weapons, computer brains, or other special abilities.

It's notable that almost every robot is evil, or put to an evil purpose, until Gort in 1951.  And even Gort's purpose is debatable.

So here is a rundown of robots in black and white sci-fi films, going back to the very beginning.

LEONARD NIMOY (1931-2015)

He was Spock.  He was Not Spock.  He was Spock.

Actor, director, photographer, poet, singer Leonard Nimoy has passed following a short hospitalization for end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a diagnosis which he had shared with the public last year.

Boston born Nimoy appeared in a number of B-pictures, serials and television guest shots including Zombies of the Stratosphere, Perry Mason, Them!, The Twilight Zone, Sea Hunt, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Gunsmoke and the Outer Limits, before taking on the role that gained him prominence on Gene Roddenberry's series Star Trek.

Nimoy portrayed Mr. Spock, a green blooded half-Human half-Vulcan science officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise.  Broadcast from 1966 to 1969, Nimoy's performance earned him three Emmy nominations and international fame.

His relationship with Trek was a complicated one, battling typecasting and when a revival of the series, Star Trek Phase II was initially announced, Nimoy would only commit to a recurring role.  Eventually, Phase II evolved into Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Nimoy appeared in six Trek films and also directed two of the films, The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home.  Nimoy voiced Spock in an animated series, and appeared in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and was the only actor from the original series to appear in both of director J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reimaginings.

Nimoy's interests in the arts served him well, with successful forays in poetry, music, photography and stage acting.  He appeared in such plays as Vincent, Fiddler on the Roof, Camelot, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The King and I, Caligula, Twelfth Night, Sherlock Holmes, Equus, and My Fair Lady.

In addition Nimoy directed a number of projects including Three Men and a Baby, The Good Mother and Funny About Love and includes among his countless acting credits Mission: Impossible, A Woman Called Golda, Fringe, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Simpsons and Futurama. He also hosted the iconic seventies series, In Search Of...

Nimoy was a man, but became an icon and influence on millions of people's lives.  He lived long, he prospered, and now logical or not, he's gone.  But will never be forgotten.

Check out some clips of Mr. Nimoy after the jump.


Skating To New York is a contemporary coming-of-age adventure about five boys on a small-town Canadian high school hockey team, who live to skate. After losing a big game, they decide to do something never attempted before - skate across Lake Ontario to New York on the coldest day of the year.

Starring Connor Jessup ("Falling Skies"), Gage Munroe (I Declare War), Dylan Everett ("Degrassi: The Next Generation") and Jason Gedrick (Backdraft), Skating To New York is a story about home and friendship, about leadership and facing danger, and about growing up - but never giving up.

And we're giving away three copies!

FOCUS (review)

Review by Caitlyn Thompson
Produced by Denise Di Novi
Written and Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro, 
Gerald McRaney, BD Wong, Robert Taylor, Dominic Fumusa

A sexy and mysterious conman takes on a gorgeous young woman as his intern.

Formulaic shenanigans ensue.

That’s Focus.

As far as con artist films go, this one is satisfactory, but only just so.

My qualms:

The movie is overall fun and dapper in the moment, but I found it immediately forgettable upon completion. Characters and plot are thin and formulaic. Expository scenes of con-life and rules all play out by the end of the film.

The twists and turns turn and twist but we all know the outcome before it happens.
I wasn’t convinced of any chemistry between Nicky (Will Smith) and Jess (Margot Robbie) either. It often looks as though they are about to break character and start giggling. Their back-stories are alluded to, but never expanded upon. Robbie’s character reaches for some depth initially by blurting out, “I’m a dyslexic foster kid.” It’s an awkward throw away line and her past is non-existent from that point on.