Probably not, but a very important person isn't quite denying it. J.J. Abrams keeps talking up Benedict Cumberbatch's Star Trek villain, whoever he might be. John Barrowman discusses his Arrow villainy. Plus go deep inside The Hobbit's visual effects!
Spoilers from here on out!
Top image from The Dark Knight Rises.
Our eloquent protestations notwithstanding, director J.J. Abrams still isn't saying a damn thing about who Benedict Cumberbatch is playing. But he's happy to talk about how the Sherlock star is playing whoever his character is:
"Rather than answer anything that would give away the fun of the movie, I would say that the character that Benedict plays, he brings such an incredible power to it. His voice alone, I actually as a joke should have had him read the lunch menu. He makes anything sound great and brings such a force to it that hopefully when you see the movie, this character, all speculation aside, will be really compelling, not because of any connection to anything past, but because of who he is and what he brings to it. The whole thing, not just his backstory, but his agenda, his plan, his secret, all that is what, for me at least, makes him such a frightening and cool villain. Also, the real villains - when they're not just two-dimensional, angry vengeful types - don't see themselves as the bad guy. They are the good guy and have complete rationale and motivation. So true to form, the character that Benedict plays has an absolute sense of right and wrong, and he's on the right side."
There's more at the link, including Abrams's thoughts on how Star Trek Into Darkness will sidestep common sequel pitfalls. [MTV]
/Film has a good rundown of spoiler-y tidbits gleaned from a recent visit to Bad Robot, the most important of which is that if John Harrison really is a decoy name for Benedict Cumberbatch's character, then it's one hell of a decoy — multiple people during the visitor called the character that, so it wasn't just invented for that one random image caption. Anyway, here are some more highlights, although do check out the link for full descriptions for each of these and more:
3. The Klingon home planet of Qo'noS will be visited and Klingons will kick ass.
7. The StarFleet Council won't play a big part in the film.
8. Michael Giacchino has only recorded music for the first 9 minutes but hopes to include the ORIGINAL original theme.
10. The first nine minutes of the movie could change.
14. Spock wears a heat resistant Volcano suit, and it took four months to create.
All the rumors about Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing Batman just won't die — even though Gordon-Levitt's people have already denied it — and the specific notion that Gordon-Levitt could cameo as the Caped Crusader in Zack Snyder's Superman movie just got one hell of a non-denial denial from no less than Christopher Nolan. The Dark Knight Rises director, who is one of the producers of Man of Steel, was asked about the rumors of a Gordon-Levitt cameo, and he replied, "I can't talk about that. You know that." Reportedly, he did so while smiling, which probably just means he's really enjoying messing with our heads — and I'd expect nothing less from the director of Memento, The Prestige, and Inception — but if you want to take all this as his coy admission that Gordon-Levitt will indeed make a brief appearance as the new Batman in Man of Steel... well, I guess I'd say that's now just mostly ridiculous, as opposed to completely and utterly ridiculous. [Movieline]
Visual effects maestro Joe Letteri suggests that, pending the success of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey's 48 frames per second format, director James Cameron might go even further for his next Avatar movies:
Jim's still thinking 60, because it's a persistence of vision artifacts and to quote Doug Trumbull and the studies he's done, he says it tends to go away at around 64. I tend to agree with him from the tests we've done. We've gone to pretty high frame rates and after about 64, the returns are pretty minimal and to tell you the truth, the difference between 48 and 60 is not as noticeable as the difference between 24 and 48 so for practical reasons, we decided to go with 48 because asking the theaters to have projectors and servers that could handle 60 was not really practical in the time frame we had for "Hobbit" plus it would have meant even more work, double the amount of work, that we were already committed to at 48 frames.
Here's the latest promo clip.
Visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri discusses how he and his team were able to do things that wouldn't have been possible when Lord of the Rings was made, particularly with the portrayal of the goblins:
We had a lot of techniques going that we always keep progressing forward, new advancements in how you do eyes, how you make skin look like skin, hair, cloth, how you build a mountain, how you build a tree, all those things that have now just become part of the toolkit that we need because we obviously could be asked to create anything. Having said that, there's still a lot of work that goes into making this. You take a scene like the goblin cavern and you have to build this big three-dimensional landscape and anchor it with places people can walk around in and do all this action it's not that much different than building a live action set. Even if you have the tools to do it, it's still not the push of a button. There's still a lot that has to be crafted by hand and all put into position and lit and choreographed to make it all work. It's a bit of both, but we knew going into it that we wanted it to be big. We wanted it to be like we were returning to Middle-earth in the best possible way.
I spoke to Andy Serkis earlier and I asked him about the goblin cavern scene specifically because I thought that might be hundreds of extras running around, but a lot of it was constructed based on what they did on set.
Yeah, we did some small pieces of the set that the guys could run around on and do some of the action especially that bit where they're brought before the Goblin King because a bit of the action happens on that well-lit platform in front of the throne but most of what you see in there is digital. In fact, a lot of what was shot, we wound up replacing, just because of the complexity of the camera moves and the stereo. We shot goblins with partial suits on, but we were going to be adding their heads. A lot of what we were really doing that for was for a couple shots where it was practical. Most of the time it was easier to just replace them with completely digital characters then to try to match heads onto partial bodies. Sometimes we ended up just replacing everything that shot including the actors, because it was just easier to construct the big shots that way. Yeah, we've gotten to the point where we can make characters and digital doubles. As long as you're not talking about nuanced emotional dialogue performances, you're talking about action scenes, sometimes it's just easier to go all digital with it.
Letteri also explains the benefits of 48 frames per second:
Well, it solves one problem in 3D, which is motion blur. If you tend to be prone towards motion sickness when you see something really blurry in 3D, this really alleviates that problem, but it does change the look of the film because everything looks hyper-real. Yeah, as Peter mentioned, and I'm hearing the same thing too from the few screenings I've been to, when you talk to people, the more familiar you are with film and the more nostalgic you are for film, the harder it is to let go, and after a while, you can't let go, and you take it for what it is. Anyone who I talked to who is younger who is used to seeing film in any number of different ways says it's like really not even noticeable, not really a big deal.
There's still a ton more fascinating technical discussion at the link. [Coming Soon]
Here's a quintet of posters for the upcoming zombie romance — or, more specifically, zombie/human romance — starring X-Men: First Class's Nicholas Hoult. [Coming Soon]
Here are two promo images from the Monsters, Inc. prequel. [First Showing]
Here's the latest trailer for this year's Christmas special, "The Snowmen." [Life, Doctor Who, and Combom]
The latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine has confirmed that the second half of season seven will begin airing in April 2013, featuring a bunch of episodes that are heavy on visual effects. April 2013 is also when the big 50th anniversary special starts filming, and producer Marcus Wilson calls it "a love letter to fans." For his part, Matt Smith won't confirm he's in anything beyond the anniversary special, saying he simply "hopes" to be in the 2013 Christmas special. I don't think it's yet been made clear — or really even discussed at all — whether any of season 8 would air before the anniversary special in November, but I'm willing to just enjoy the ride on this one. [Blogtor Who]
Here are some promo photos from this Friday's episode, "Black Blotter." [SpoilerTV
The sixteenth episode will reportedly see the introduction of a potentially recurring character known as Shaw, described as "a cross between Jason Bourne and Catwoman [who] works for a secret organization that murders terrorists." In case it wasn't immediately clear, yes, "she will be a force to be reckoned with." [SpoilerTV]
Here's a short synopsis for the tenth episode, "The Cricket Game":
When Regina is accused of murdering a beloved fairytale character, Emma thinks she is innocent; Prince Charming and Snow White plan the evil queen's execution.
Here's a short description for the eleventh episode, "Sins of the Father":
Sasha offers Father Douglas a disturbing arrangement; a mysterious new tenant moves into the Drake; Alexis makes a discovery about Louise.
Torchwood's John Barrowman discusses his big new genre role, the villainous Malcolm Merlyn:
Well, I'd like to be a square-jawed villain! [Laughter] The way I look at Malcolm Merlyn is that he is a hero to himself. He's a hero who's ruthless. He is trying to protect his company, his world, his investment. And how he goes about it is that he looks at Oliver and the Arrow as someone who's being a bit ruthless himself – he's snapping necks and shooting people. Why is that any different than what I do in the business world? So there is a bit of a rivalry going on there. But it is nice for me to play a bad guy, because, as you say, when I was younger I always played the ingenue or the romantic male lead, and then I played the troubled hero in "Torchwood." But this is a thrill. I'm having a blast. And I've said to them, rather than always being a recurring role I would love this part to build and build until I become somebody who is a series regular. That's my goal as John Barrowman, the person whose business is being an actor and an entertainer.
I was going to ask, how long are you planning on sticking around as it stands?
I am signed for the rest of the series. That's all I'll say.
The thirteenth episode will reportedly introduce Miranda, Joe Bishop's wife, in what may become a recurring role. [SpoilerTV]
Additional reporting by Amanda Yesilbas and Charlie Jane Anders.