Can Peter Jackson break the steampunk curse?

Is 2018 the year steampunk finally gets its big break on the big screen?

This month Peter Jackson, best known for bringing Middle Earth to Hollywood, presents another epic film with epic aspirations. Written and produced by Jackson, Mortal Engines is an adaptation of Philip Reeve’s YA novel of the same name and depicts a futuristic world of cities that have evolved into giant, cannibalistic moving machines. The movie is rife with anachronisms: The characters collect contemporary technologies (laptops, smartphones, even toasters) but they exist alongside machinery that recalls the Industrial Age — think large gears, furnaces, and, yes, steam. These are the trademark elements of steampunk, a subgenre of science fiction that has never quite found its footing in live-action American cinema.

But perhaps Mortal Engines can break the steampunk curse.

In its narrowest definition, steampunk takes place in an alternative Victorian-era society in which fantastical machinery abounds. But in a broader sense, steampunk preoccupies itself with questions of time: time travel, time periods, and most importantly, technologies that are both of the time and outside of it. In its broadest sense, steampunk isn’t even limited to genre; it’s an aesthetic, a subculture marked by its fashion: bustles and gears, gadgets and top hats.

While the genre can trace its inspiration all the way back to 1927 with the release of the famous German silent film Metropolis, it’s never really had a sustained run of success. Popping up only every few years, steampunk films generally suffer from middling-to-negative critical reviews or disastrous box office numbers.

The most famous steampunk disaster was probably 1999’s Wild Wild West, starring Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, and Salma Hayek in a gaudy, over-the-top circus of a production with more gadgets and hijinx than you could count. Cowboys on steam trains with ejecto-seats? Unmistakably steampunk — but …read more

Source:: The Week – Entertainment


Melvin Dummar, purported heir to Howard Hughes estate, dies at 74

By Emily Langer | The Washington Post

Melvin Dummar was driving through the Nevada desert in December 1967 when he stopped to relieve himself and saw, he said, a thin, graying man lying on the ground, bleeding. The only right thing to do was to stop, and so Dummar did.

As he told it, he invited the man into his Chevy, asked him where he wished to go, and drove him several hours to Las Vegas. There, on the passenger’s request, Dummar dropped him off behind the Sands Hotel, giving him some pocket change to take on his way.

Dummar, a magnesium plant worker who at the time was en route to Southern California to make amends with his estranged wife, assumed the man was a “bum,” he said years later. But in what he described as a turn that upended his life, he came to believe — and to insist despite widespread doubt – that his desert acquaintance was the reclusive billionaire industrialist Howard Hughes.

Dummar, who made international headlines and inspired the film “Melvin and Howard” (1980) with claims that Hughes had bequeathed him more than $150 million for his act of kindness, died Dec. 9 at his home in Pahrump, Nevada. He was 74 and had complications from cancer, said a grandson, Justin Dummar.

“Finding Mr. Hughes out there in the desert has changed my life forever,” Mr. Dummar told the Associated Press in 2004. “I was promised about $156 million in his will for saving his life. But I never got a penny of that money and have wound up scorned, sick and nearly broke.”

The legal saga involving the Hughes estate — and Dummar’s claim to a share of it — began shortly after Hughes died in 1976. Hughes, also a noted aviator and Hollywood producer, had amassed a fortune of …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


Preview: ‘Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown’ appears ready for takeoff

After an interminable wait, “Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown “ is on the runway ready for takeoff. First announced in 2015, the latest chapter in the fighter jet saga was supposed to come out in 2017, but delays have pushed back the game’s release to 2019.

According to IGN, franchise director Kazutoki Kono said the postponement was needed to achieve their goal and they planned to use the extra time to “perfect and optimize” the project. At a preview event in San Francisco, the team showed off a game that benefited from the extra time in the oven.

The multiplayer was good as I played through free for all and team deathmatch. Gunning down rivals with machine guns and missiles is difficult and takes skill as players chase opponents through the skies. Part of the reason is the unpredictability of players. The wide freedom of movement means they can swerve left, decelerate and nose dive to avoid being locked on.

Another element that makes kills harder is the ability to hide in clouds. If players are locked on from behind, they can fly toward clouds to escape missiles. Although they may be tempted to linger in the cover, they have to be careful because ice may cover their aircraft’s engines and cause them to crash. It balances the gameplay out so jets can’t hide in the cover forever.

Amid the chaos of the dogfight, I found it was best to just fire into a crowd and pray that something connects. When locking on to opponents, it’s likely better to fire when you’re close to your prey so they have less time to maneuver out of the way.

Two factors that add another dose of unpredictability is the terrain and weather. The terrain can be varied. Players can fight in wide open areas above …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


Is there a Kate Middleton double-standard in Meghan Markle’s wedding air freshener controversy?

In the recent onslaught of reports about feuds, tensions and tears in the British royal family, stories about Meghan Markle wanting to use air fresheners at her May 19 wedding at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle may seem like ancient history.

But like Tiara-gate, Air-freshener-gate has been repeatedly trotted out over the past two weeks as an example of how the U.S.-born former TV actress was especially “demanding” and “bridezilla”-like in the lead-up to her marriage to Prince Harry.

Orange blossom candles reportedly burned as Prince William placed a wedding ring on the hand of Kate Middleton, at Westminster Abbey, in 2011. (AP Photo/Andrew Milligan, Pool)

Then again, perhaps this is a case of a royal newcomer facing a double-standard, when Kate Middleton got to apply her favorite orange blossom scent to her 2011 wedding to Prince William in Westminster Abbey.

This is no doubt among the many big and small controversies raging around Meghan and Kate and brothers Harry and William these days. Not surprisingly, the pregnant Duchess of Sussex, a Hollywood pro, didn’t at all let on that she was concerned about the negative headlines about her when she, and her growing baby bump, “stole the show” at the British Fashion Awards Monday night, Vanity Fair reported:

When you’re a pregnant duchess wearing high fashion, it’s hard not to steal the spotlight.

— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) December 10, 2018

As for air-freshener-gate, it stems from a Daily Mail report in late November that Meghan had asked for air-freshening atomizers to be sprayed in the 550-year-old St. George’s Chapel. This request was seen to be especially excessive, “ridiculous” and even insulting to the royal family’s own judgement about what odors are tolerable during church services, a source explained to the Daily Mail.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during their …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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