Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Estelle Getty of 'Golden Girls' dies at 84

By BOB THOMAS, Associated Press Writer
FILE** In this Dec. 25, 1985 file photo, four veteran actresses, from left, Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur and Betty White,  from the television series 'The ' Golden Girls' are shown during a break in taping in Hollywood.  Actress Estelle Getty has died at the age of 84. Her son, Carl Gettleman, says she died early Tuesday, July 22, 2008 at home in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, file)
AP Photo: FILE** In this Dec. 25, 1985 file photo, four veteran actresses, from left, Estelle Getty,...

LOS ANGELES - Estelle Getty, the diminutive actress who spent 40 years struggling for success before landing a role of a lifetime in 1985 as the sarcastic octogenarian Sophia on TV's "The Golden Girls," has died. She was 84.

Getty, who suffered from advanced dementia, died at about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday at her Hollywood Boulevard home, said her son, Carl Gettleman of Santa Monica.

"Estelle always wanted to be an actress, and she achieved that goal beyond her dreams," former "Golden Girls" co-star Rue McClanahan told The Associated Press. "Don't feel sad about her passing. She will always be with us in her crowning achievement, Sophia."

"The Golden Girls," featuring four female retirees sharing a house in Miami, grew out of NBC programming chief Brandon Tartikoff's belief that television was ignoring its older viewers.

Three of its stars had already appeared in previous series: Bea Arthur in "Maude," Betty White in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and McClanahan in "Mama's Family." The last character to be cast was Sophia Petrillo, the feisty 80-something mother of Arthur's character.

"Our mother-daughter relationship was one of the greatest comic duos ever, and I will miss her," Arthur said in a statement.

When she auditioned, Getty was appearing on stage in Hollywood as the carping Jewish mother in Harvey Fierstein's play "Torch Song Trilogy." In her early 60s, she flunked her "Golden Girls" test twice because it was believed she didn't look old enough to play 80.

"I could understand that," she told an interviewer a year after the show debuted. "I walk fast, I move fast, I talk fast."

She came prepared for the third audition, however, wearing dowdy clothes and telling an NBC makeup artist, "To you this is just a job. To me it's my entire career down the toilet unless you make me look 80." The artist did, Getty got the job and won two Emmys.

"The only comfort at this moment is that although Estelle has moved on, Sophia will always be with us," White said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

"The Golden Girls" culminated a long struggle for success during which Getty worked low-paying office jobs to help support her family while she tried to make it as a stage actress.

"I knew I could be seduced by success in another field, so I'd say, 'Don't promote me, please,'" she recalled.

She also appeared in small parts in a handful of films and TV movies during that time, including "Tootsie," "Deadly Force" and "Victims for Victims: The Theresa Saldana Story."

After her success in "The Golden Girls," other roles came her way. She played Cher's mother in "Mask," Sylvester Stallone's in "Stop or My Mom Will Shoot" and Barry Manilow's in the TV film "Copacabana." Other credits included "Mannequin" and "Stuart Little" (as the voice of Grandma Estelle).

"The Golden Girls," which ran from 1985 to 1992, was an immediate hit, and Sophia, who began as a minor character, soon evolved into a major one.

Audiences particularly loved the verbal zingers Getty would hurl at the other three. When McClanahan's libidinous character Blanche once complained that her life was an open book, Sophia shot back, "Your life's an open blouse."

"I always told her she should be a standup comic. She was so funny in person," McClanahan recalled. "She would always say, 'Why couldn't we make these characters Jewish? Why am I Sicilian?'"

Getty had gained a knack for one-liners in her late teens when she did standup comedy at a Catskills hotel. Female comedians were rare in those days, however, and she bombed.

Undeterred, she continued to pursue a career in entertainment, and while her parents were encouraging, her father also insisted that she learn office skills so she would have something to fall back on.

Born Estelle Scher to Polish immigrants in New York, Getty fell in love with theater when she saw a vaudeville show at age 4.

She married New York businessman Arthur Gettleman (the source of her stage name) in 1947, and they had two sons, Carl and Barry. The marriage prevailed despite her long absences on the road and in "The Golden Girls."

Getty was evasive about her height, acknowledging only that she was "under 5 feet and under 100 pounds."

McClanahan said her nickname for Getty was "Slats."

"Because she was so short, itty-bitty," she said.

In addition to her son Carl, Getty is survived by son Barry Gettleman, of Miami; a brother, David Scher of London; and a sister, Rosilyn Howard of Las Vegas.

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Hard Rock And Metal Music Fans Will Love Polaris

Indie Music Review: Polaris

Polaris is a band from Ohio that warns it is not responsible for the melting of faces. Could this warning indicate that they are a little on the hard side of rock? Indeed it is true, and Polaris has one hell of a lot to offer to heavy metal fans.

Polaris describes their music as having rock, metal and southern rock influences. Dare I be so bold as to also add grunge to the list? I swear I hear that influence in there as well. I think their music is a great combination of styles that gives them their own unique sound. They also unplug well in their song "Home".

Polaris plays tight and rocks hard. Dan Newkirk's vocals hooked me from the beginning, providing a distinct sound for the group. This is a band that has it together and will go far. I will have the distinct pleasure of saying I wrote about them "way back when" before they were superstars.

Go listen to Polaris' music and then come back and tell me what you think. Am I right or what?

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Teen Who Just Discovered Led Zeppelin Starting To Piss Off Friends

GURNEE, IL—Mark Campa, 16, who has listened to and talked about Led Zeppelin almost exclusively since discovering the '70s rock group over the summer, is "really starting to piss off" his friends, sources reported Monday.

Enlarge Image Teen Who Just

The Zeppelin-loving Campa.

"I've got nothing against Zep—they're awesome," said James Savich, 16, a longtime friend of Campa's. "But Mark acts like he's the first person ever to really get into them when he's, like, the 59 billionth."

Campa was first exposed to the band in June when older brother Bryan returned from college and started playing Led Zeppelin II while lifting weights in the garage. After one listen, Campa was reportedly hooked, buying his own copy and playing it incessantly for weeks.

Campa's Led Zeppelin fixation soon manifested itself in myriad ways, with the teen playing only Led Zeppelin in his car, drawing the Led Zeppelin IV runes on his arm, and spending $73 at the Kane County Fair ring toss in an effort to win a Swan Song mirror.

According to friends, Campa's newfound love of the band has caused him to behave in a "dicklick" fashion.

"Last Saturday night, a bunch of us were driving around cranking the new Slipknot when Mark popped the tape out and started messing with the radio," said Rick Eglund, 17. "I was like, 'Dude, what's your problem?' He said it was time for WLUP's 'Get The Led Out' and that he never missed it. I told him he was gonna miss it that night. Then, he tried to stop me from putting the tape back into my own stereo. I had to pull over and force him to switch seats with Dan [Alberman]."

"The stupid thing is, at the time, we were driving Mark home," Eglund continued. "He has all their CDs, so he could've listened to Zep all night if he'd just waited five minutes. I guess he had to prove what a big fan he is."

In addition to naming his '91 Prelude the "Honda Of The Holy" and renaming his cat of four years "Bonzo" as an homage to late Led Zeppelin drummer John "Bonzo" Bonham, Campa has irritated friends with his constant barrage of Led Zeppelin trivia.

"In the past week alone, I've learned that Keith Moon came up with the band's name, Jimmy Page is in the movie Blowup, and 'All Of My Love' is about Robert Plant's son Karac, who died from a viral infection," Savich said. "And if I hear Mark tell us about the 'mudshark incident' one more time, I'm gonna kill him. Everybody knows Hammer Of The Gods is bullshit, anyway."

Campa has also developed a habit of pointing out Led Zeppelin connections to seemingly non-Zeppelin-related items.

"I downloaded the Lord Of The Rings trailer and, next thing you know, Mark goes into this whole thing about how 'The Battle Of Evermore' references the book Lord Of The Rings," Alberman said. "I had to re-start the trailer after he was done because no one got to see it. It's getting to the point where you're almost afraid to go to a movie with Mark because John Paul Jones' second cousin might be an extra in it."

Added Eglund: "It could be worse, I guess. He could've gotten into the Grateful Dead. Or Floyd. Just imagine if he walked around all day quoting Dark Side Of The Moon. Christ."

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Heath Ledger not the first star who died before the release of movie




Heath Ledger, whose performance as the Joker in the summer blockbuster "The Dark Knight" earned rave reviews, died months before the film hit theaters. He is hardly the first movie star to die before release of a film.

Here's a list of others:

AALIYAH: The R&B star died in a 2001 Bahamas plane crash before the release of vampire flick "Queen of the Damned."

JAMES DEAN: "Rebel Without a Cause" was released one month after Dean, 24, was killed in a 1955 car accident.

CLARK GABLE: Gable died of a heart attack at 59 before the 1960 release of the film "The Misfits."

RIVER PHOENIX: Died of drug-related heart failure four months before his film, "Silent Tongue," came out.

Harlow was just 26 when she died of kidney disease just a month before release of her 1937 film "Saratoga."

SPENCER TRACY: The 67-year-old screen star died of a heart attack after completing "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."

BRANDON LEE: The son of martial arts film star Bruce Lee died in a mishap on the set of "The Crow" just eight days before filming was to be completed.

BRUCE LEE: The martial arts star died at 32 from a cerebral edema, one month before the release of his last film, "Enter the Dragon."

NATALIE WOOD: The "West Side Story" starlet drowned in 1981 just before the completion of the science-fiction thriller "Brainstorm."

: The comedian dropped dead in 1994 while on location filming "Wagon's East." Another Candy film, "Canadian Bacon," was released after his death.

TUPAC SHAKUR: The rapper, 25, was killed in a 1996 drive-by shooting after completing two films, "Gridlock'd" and "Gang Related," both of which were released the following year.

PHIL HARTMAN: SNL star was shot and killed by his wife, Brynn Hartman, in a 1998 murder-suicide two months before the release of his film "Small Soldiers."

CHRIS FARLEY: The pudgy SNL funnyman died of a drug overdose in 1997. His final film, "Almost Heroes," was released the following year.

Screen legend died of cancer in 1961, just a month before the release of his British mystery film "The Naked Edge."

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Dark Knight Roller Coaster Test Drive: Six Flags Delivers Joker-in-a-Box Thrill Ride

Six Flags took the title Dark Knight literally. Its new roller coaster based on the record-bashing, IMAX-thrashing, vehicle-smashing Batman movie is set entirely inside, in the dark.

The ride, which opened in May at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, is an indoor ’coaster geared toward families, but it still packs plenty of thrills—largely because it happens in total darkness. Though Batman is hidden in there, watching over Gotham, “This is really the Joker’s ride,” says Six Flags’ Chief Engineer Larry Chickola. “He’s taken over, and things are out of control.”

The Specs
The 1213-ft.-long, three-level ride, which takes place inside a building disguised as Gotham City’s Wayne Central Station, is made of typical steel, but the construction challenge it presented was unique—even compared with the most extreme engineering it takes to build a roller coaster.

Because of the infrastructure surrounding the ride site, the building that houses the coaster had to be constructed first, and the ride was built inside it. “It was like building a ship inside a bottle,” Chickola says. “We had to come in with the cranes through a little spot, fish it in, and set it up. And we had to do it in perfect sequence—we couldn’t build ourselves into a corner. So we had to build from the outside toward the center.”

The Ride
Before our test ride, a pre-show played a simulated newscast on a large screen. The fictional Gotham traffic reports were soon interrupted by a press conference from newly elected District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart, with noticeably longer hair than in the movie). It wasn’t long before the Joker hijacked the show. “Why so serious?” he asks as a masked man spray-paints a smiley face on the screen (other than numerous maniacal laughs, this is the only line voiced by Heath Ledger’s Joker in the ride). As we progressed through the ride’s line, evidence of the Joker’s presence was everywhere: graffiti and even a TV equipped with a camera and facial recognition software that overlays a Joker mask on your face. We stepped onto the 4-person trains, and were sent into the dark.

The two-minute ride is a wild mouse-style coaster, which means riders take single-car trains through hairpin turns and slow drops at a relatively low speed. The Dark Knight has six 180-degree turns and, according to Chickola, produces more Gs in certain directions than the Kingda Ka ’coaster (Ka currently holds the record as the tallest and fastest coaster in the world.) Exactly how many Gs, however, he wouldn’t say.

As you fly by, scenes of the Joker’s mayhem abound—including an exploding truck and two 3D panels. Batman is there, too, on an exact replica of his motorcycle-ATV hybrid, the Bat-Pod.

The Bottom Line
The ride’s hairpin turns are fun, and the unexpected drops are thrilling, even if they’re short (one relatively big drop, near the end of the ride, elicited “whoas!” from my train). And while it’s hard to take much in—I didn’t even see Batman in either of his two cameos—the ride certainly left me less “serious.” I didn’t stop laughing the entire time. —Erin McCarthy

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Trigger Street Production FANBOYS To Finally Screen And Be Released

The highly anticipated Trigger Street Production FANBOYS to have exclusive screening during Comic Con. FINALLY!

NEW YORK, NY (July 21, 2008) – Trigger Street Productions and The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that the highly anticipated film “Fanboys” will have an exclusive screening of the film during this year’s Comic-Con International Convention. Tickets will be given away to the first 300 people in line at the Lucasfilm’s 7th Annual Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge Awards, held on July 24th at 8:30pm in Ballroom 20 at the San Diego Convention Center. During the Awards Ceremony director Kyle Newman will introduce select footage from the film, providing fans a sneak peak of the full-length feature to be shown at 10:30pm that same evening.

In the preceding months, Star Wars fans across the globe had generated a remarkable grassroots campaign, demonstrating unanimous support for the main character’s battle with cancer to remain in the storyline of the film. In response to this widespread zeal, the filmmakers incorporated extensive feedback into the final cut.

“I could not be more excited that ‘Fanboys’ is being released this September and is the version of the film that the fans want,” said “Fanboys” producer Kevin Spacey. “I am enormously grateful to Jedi Knight Harvey Weinstein for having allowed Trigger Street to restore “Fanboys” to its original story and am thrilled that it will first screen during Comic-Con. We believe in this film and are honored that George Lucas and all his team gave us permission to film Skywalker Ranch and let us have so much fun with Star Wars. We also have a couple of surprises in the film that I think will bring added enjoyment to all the fans of Lucas' great and epic movies and Trigger Street is proud to have produced this film and to have kept the dark side at bay.”

“Speaking for everyone involved in the project, we are truly grateful for all the passion the fans have shown the film,” stated director Kyle Newman. “Their support has been nothing short of phenomenal and I couldn't think of a better place in the world than San Diego during Comic-Con to unveil the final cut of ‘Fanboys.’”

“If this movie doesn’t show that Lucasfilm has a sense of humor, nothing will!” said Howard Roffman, President of Lucas Licensing. “We were happy to give them permission to have some fun with Star Wars and salute our incredible fans at the same time.”

Set in 1998 the film, starring Jay Baruchel (“Knocked Up,” “Million Dollar Baby”), Tony Award Winner Dan Fogler (“Kung Fu Panda,” “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”), Sam Huntington (“Superman Returns,” “Not Another Teen Movie”), Chris Marquette (“The Girl Next Door,” “Another World”), and Kristen Bell (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Pulse”) is a heart-warming comedy that follows a group of young, passionate Star Wars fans on a cross-country quest to break into George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch and watch “Star Wars: Episode 1- The Phantom Menace,” before it’s released.

“Fanboys” is a production of Trigger Street Productions and Picture Machine. The film is directed by Kyle Newman and produced by Kevin Spacey, Dana Brunetti, Evan Astrowsky and Matthew Perniciaro. The script was written by Kyle Newman, Adam F. Goldberg and Ernest Cline and Kevin Mann serve as executive producer.

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Top 10 Movie Assassins

What is it about one of the world’s darkest and most evil professions that makes it seem so sexy and appealing on the big screen?

Whether it be slow motion shoot-outs, ass kicking kung-fu or just Angelina Jolie strutting around in next to nothing, the silver screen has always been kind to the morally questionable profession of contract killing.

So here it is, a list of the 10 best movie assassins to ever grace our screens…

10 - Michael Sullivan, Road to Perdition

Cold, calculated and - beneath it all - a family man, Tom Hanks makes a surprising turn as Michael Sullivan, a character who is not afraid to get his hands dirty. The final confrontation between Hanks and Paul Newman in the rain-soaked street is an intense and memorable scene and Hanks proves his versatility once again and pulls off the moustache look quite nicely.

9 - El Mariachi, Desperado

This guy is as comfortable behind a gun as he is behind the guitar, and bagging Salma Hayek on the side isn’t bad going either. The character El Mariachi played by Antonio Banderas was also in two other features (although Banderas only played him twice), but Desperado stands as one of the best action films of the 1990s featuring one of the best assassins.

8 - Vincent, Collateral

One of the Cruiser’s best performances and his standout of the last decade, Vincent is an impulsive assassin, going with the flow or whatever. He’ll chuck a fat Angelino out the window without batting an eyelid.

7 - The Jackal, The Day of the Jackal

Neither man nor watermelon stands a chance against this classic cinematic assassin. The role that made Edward Fox a star of the time was played in the remake by Bruce Willis (for some reason with a dodgy bleached haircut). The original remains a cinema classic and handed us one of the coolest cinema villains.

6 - Anton Chigurh - No Country For Old Men

Striking fear into any heart that lays eyes on his haircut. Anton leaves fate to decide whether to kill his victims or not. Deservedly winning an Oscar for the role, Javier Barden creates one of the greatest villains of all time.

5 - The Bride, Kill Bill

She made slicing through 88 trained samurais look like cutting through butter and managed to make someone’s heart explode by finger-tapping their chest. The Bride is fuelled by bloody vengeance, until she gets all weepy eyed at the end, that is. Still she remains Quentin Tarantino’s best creation.

4 - Martin Q. Blank, Grosse Point Blank

The most relatable assassin on the list, he’s depressed, lonely and stressed. Returning home for a reunion sets things back into motion and being hunted down, he brings out all the tricks to stay alive. John Cusack makes the character effortlessly cool and has unofficially followed up the film with this year’s War Inc, which is apparently a bit rubbish.

3 -T-800, Terminator

It’s not your average assassin that starts off walking around butt naked into biker bars but then this is a robot. Arnie’s most famous role had the Austrian hulk killing anything that moves and, with a near indestructible body, he is probably the hardest to kill on the list.

2 - Jason Bourne, The Bourne Identity/Supremacy/Ultimatum

We always thought that Matt Damon was like a Streisand, but he’s rocking the shit in this one! Damon came out of nowhere and smashed us around the face with a book, giving us the best assassin/spy of our generation. Silent and deadly, this guy could kill you with a bit of sticky back tape if he needed to.

1 - Leon, Leon

From start to finish Leon approaches everything with thorough thinking and complete dedication. He doesn’t make things up on the fly like Bourne, Vincent and Sullivan and it wasn’t until Natalie came along that he finally gained a weakness. The hardest, coolest, coldest killer around, Leon is cinema’s best assassin by a long shot.

So what do you think? If it came to be one big tussle between the list who would win?

[story by David A. Scarborough]

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The Dark Knight: 10 Things I Liked, 5 Things I Didn’t

Posted by Robert Fure (robert@filmschoolrejects.com)

If you’re like me and, basically, anyone you know, you went out and saw The Dark Knight this weekend. Likewise, you probably walked out of the theater thinking that was a damned good movie. But I wouldn’t be me if I weren’t two things: handsome and critical. So instead of posting a bunch of pictures of myself, I’m going to give you 10 things I liked about this Batman flick and 5, yes, 5, things that I didn’t.

** Warning: Spoilers **

10 Things I Liked

10. The Musical Cues. While the score itself was good, though not something I’d listen to on a daily basis, the musical cues in the film, I thought, were awesome. Especially whenever the Joker was around, about to do something wicked, the music really amped it up.

9. Lies. I love that Gotham isn’t a perfect place. In this movie more than the last, and any other hero film, there are lies. Alfred deceives by not handing over the letter, Gordon lies, Batman lies, Bruce Wayne lies. Just like in the real world, everyone lies.

8. Heath Ledger. I’m getting this one out of the way - yes, Ledger was, by far, the best Joker we’ve ever seen. While I’m not totally convinced he’s a lock for an Oscar or anything, he did do at least as well and appeared on screen far longer than Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. Ledger gave a terrific performance.

7. Gordon Returns. I was overcome with joy to see the mask come off and have Gordon underneath it, arresting the Joker. I love Gordon and I love Gary Oldman. I was totally convinced the mysterious driver was a bad guy right until the end of the chase.

6. The Chase. That was pretty wicked. RPGs, automatic weapons, and a batcycle. When Batman flipped that semi-trailer over, it was a thing of beauty that made me smile ear to ear.

5. Two Face’s Face. This film didn’t let up when it came to violence or darkness and a prime example was the horrendous and awesome visage of Two-Face Harvey Dent. A bit Jonah Hex inspired if you asked me, but totally awesome.

4. The Cast. Christian Bale, as always, was brilliant. Gary Oldman and Eric Roberts were great. The cast here was as strong as ever and the group they have assembled is nearly perfect.

3. The Joker. Ledger aside, the writing behind the Joker was great. Finally he was a brutal mass killer with a twisted sense of humor rather than just some pissed off clown with a bag of tricks.

2. The Dark. Batman has been a dark character and often thats when he’s at his best. This film may have veered just a touch too dark for some, but I’d rather err on the side of violence, sadism, and menace than on camp.

1. Themes. Notably of escalation. I really liked the Batman imitators springing up and the (comic inspired) idea that the Joker only exists because of Batman, who in a way, makes things worse by taking the fight to the next level.

Honorable Mention: The Excitement. I was really giddy about sitting down in the theater to watch this movie. More excited than I’ve been in years.

5 Things I Didn’t Like

5. Gordon “Dies.” I should have known something was up when we didn’t see much of the actual ‘death’ but I was legitimately pissed at the movie at that point. If not for his resurrection, I would have thrown a hissy fit at the end of the movie.

4. 2 hours, 32 minutes. Now, the film didn’t feel that long while watching it and it didn’t really drag at all, but the length did affect some of the “wow” feeling. Hollywood should try to scale back the length of these blockbusters before we end up with 3+ hour flicks every summer.

3. Batlash. AKA, the Hype. Most people agree this movie lives up to the hype, but I think that, for me personally, being constantly barraged with how great it was and how Heath needs an Oscar and how its ‘perfect’ and all this really affected me. My hopes were elevated too high even for The Dark Knight to [reel] me in. That said, the movie was still great, but not the instant pants exploding orgasm I had been lead to believe. This actually made me thing that a lot of us, critics, movie-goers, are starting to lose the ability to think for ourselves. We’ve been told and told and told this movie was great and, nearly in lock-step, everyone agrees. Hell, those who don’t are immediately threatened by those who haven’t even seen the film yet.

2. Two-Face Dies. Now this is a comic movie and it’s possible he’s alive and will be back, but I’m not sure if I like the habit of killing off the villains at the end of the Bat movies. Batman isn’t supposed to be a killer and yet in the past two films he’s definitely helped along their deaths, whether by tackling them over a ledge or just refusing to rescue them. Where is the rogues gallery going to be? The morgue instead of Arkham?

1. Rachel Dawes. I’m supremely satisfied she exploded. To me, there was virtually nothing different between Maggie G. and Katie H. The Rachel Dawes character held absolutely no appeal to me whatsoever and I’m glad shes gone. I just couldn’t get into her on any level.

(Dis)Honorable Mention: Michael Jai White. This guy is a supremely talented martial artist, but his acting isn’t up to par for this movie. All he did was furrow his brow, bear his teeth, and speak angrily. Didn’t like him.

So there we have it. My dislikes aren’t anything major, though I’m sure I’m about to be roasted anyways, either for criticizing the hype, not fawning over Heath Ledger enough, or for saying it was too long. Let me be clear - I enjoyed this movie. I think with repeat viewings and more time to really mull over its complexities, I will appreciate it more and more. Maybe the film left me a little less fulfilled because I was expecting more of a popcorn type flick and was really delivered something unexpected - deep characters and an exceptionally strong and deep storyline, full of complexities. I wouldn’t say it was perfect, but it came damned close.

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The 5 Greatest (and 5 Worst) Board Games Based On Films

Escape%20From%20New%20York.jpgBy Chris Cummins

In the carefree days before the Internet, DVDs and the Xbox 360, one of the only ways to relive the magic of your favorite movie was through board games. If you are a child of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, chances are you remember wasting countless hours parked down in front of your favorite movie tie-in game. Sure, these may have killed the time before V came on, but were they any good? Since the last thing most folks want to do these days is sit around and interact with other people for hours at a time, the movie-based board game is a largely a thing of the past. (With the exception of those bastardized versions of Monopoly). Which games recaptured the magic of their cinematic inspirations, and which ones rightfully made their way to the bargain bins? Let’s take a look.

The Great:

5) Alien

As if their 18-inch Alien figure wasn’t nightmare-inducing enough, Kenner unleashed this “exciting new game of elimination and escape” upon kids in 1979. Complete with a mock blood-stained directions sheet, the game had players attempting to reach the Narcissus safely before being ruthlessly slaughtered by an Alien. Whoever completed this task first was the winner. In reality, the player who didn’t piss the bed afterwards was the true victor. This one was geared at players aged 7 and up, because getting mauled by a horrifying outer space monster with acid for blood would have been way too intense for 6-year-olds. Jesus.

4) The Great Muppet Caper 3-D Game
Much like the movie it was based on, this game offered up plenty of spectacle, fantasy and derring do...but man was it a bitch to put together. I have vivid memories of my father preparing to throw this game across the room while trying to assemble the Mallory Gallery. Once the 3-D representations of buildings from the film were finally constructed (meaning that you had to disassemble the damn thing every time you wanted to put it away), the aggravation was quickly forgotten and players got to maneuver Beauregard’s taxi and the Happiness Hotel bus through a replica of a London street with hopes of being the first to get their hands on the fabled Baseball Diamond. It’s bulkiness aside, what made this piece of merchandising magic so special was how it used the game’s oversized board to perfectly recreate the film’s settings and atmosphere.

3) The Game of Jaws

Okay, technically this isn’t a board game, but this makes the list for sheer coolness alone. Essentially a variation of Perfection and Operation, this game had players attempting to fish out nautical crap from the Great White’s mouth using a gaff hook before his spring-loaded jaw snaps shut. The only thing that could make this game better would be if players could retrieve Alex Kinter’s torso or Mayor Vaughn’s anchor suit from the fearsome fish’s belly. If you track this one down, be sure to take your turn first, as Jaws’ jaw invariably slams shut as soon as the second player has a go.

2) The Incredible Hulk: Smash
When I was a kid, the only thing I liked about going over my cousin’s house was that he had a Hawaiian Punch board game in which players could smash pineapples made out of modeling clay. I couldn’t tell you what the game was about, I was too focused on obliterating those goddamn pineapples. With the recent release of The Incredible Hulk: Smash, an new generation can experience the same visceral thrills that so enraptured me as a kid. Using a mold and Play Doh included in the game, players can make a car or plane and travel around the board, hoping that their friends don’t demolish their vehicle with a big green Hulk fist known as the Smasher. The first person that makes it out of the city without being smashed wins. Simple and easy. Although, kids who get this game are probably just gonna beat the hell out of each other using the Smasher. That’s kinda awesome.

1) Dawn of the Dead
Giving you the ability to play as a zombie (whereupon your goal is to kill three people) or as a human (in which case you have to secure the mall before it’s overrun by the flesh eaters), this game adaptation of George Romero’s masterpiece proves that you can do so much with just a flimsy play map and 90 minutes to kill. Originally released by small gaming outfit Simulations Publications Incorporated in 1978, this notoriously hard to find release is so difficult to track down than several rip-offs and fan-made recreations have popped up over the years. (The best of which can be found here). Download it and immerse yourself in the brain-munching fun. Hit the jump for the 5 worst movie-based board games ever made.

The Terrible:

5) Left Behind: The Movie: The Game
“Mommy, buy me that game about all the soulless heathens who are stuck on Earth to suffer after Jesus swoops up all the good people to heaven.” Okay, this one is an easy target. I’m willing to bet that most Topless Robot readers aren’t exactly big on fundamentalist board games. And in the interest of full disclosure I haven’t played this one. If Larry the Cable Guy had a Git-R-Done Hoedown game, I’d crap all over that too without opening the box. It’s the same thing for the same people. I know I’ll probably be removed from Kirk Cameron’s Christmas card list for saying so, but there’s no way this game is even remotely entertaining. Show me a kid whose last name isn’t Flanders who is clamoring for some Tim LaHaye and Larry Jenkins-approved freetime fun. You can’t. And why would this game’s target audience even want to spend their final days hunkered down in front of this? I imagine that there’s a lot to do in preparation for the End Times. This game confuses and frightens me. Moving on...

4) E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial

Much ado has been made over the fact that the Atari E.T. game was such a disaster that thousands of unsold copies of it wound up in a New Mexico landfill. Well folks, Parker Brothers’ board game based on Steven Spielberg’s heartwarming family favorite wasn’t much better. In this affront to plastic and cardboard, you had to move an annoyingly cute E.T. figure around the board, assembling pieces of the communicator so that he can phone home and have his spaceship rescue him. Whatever. The problem was that gameplay took FOREVER and was about as much fun as doing word problems while at the dentist. The kids in the above commercial love it. I hope their lives turned out miserable.

3) Robocop VCR Game
Robocop is easily mankind’s greatest achievement. To paraphrase Jack Black’s Evil Dead 2 speech in High Fidelity, it’s a brilliant film, it’s so funny and violent. To this day, I can’t see Ronny Cox in anything without declaring “I had to kill Bob Morton because he made a mistake, and now it’s time to erase that mistake.” My point is, this film is Bert to my Ernie. This game however, not so much. You have to remember that in the late 1980s, VCR games were all the rage. Well, they tried to be anyway. The problem is that by incorporating board game play with a VCR component, everything took three times as long as it should. You had to cue the tape up, you had to drudge around the board waiting to actually watch a heavily edited scene from the film. It was about as thrilling as watching Robocop 3, or god help you, the TV series with the giggle-inducing villain named Pudface. I played this once in middle school and my friend’s VCR ate the tape. Fitting, I felt.
2) Escape from New York
Although it’s a huge turd, this game from Dungeons & Dragons creators TSR is one of my prized possessions. You see, I’m totally convinced that I pulled a Dreamscape and willed it into existence. During one of my recurring dreams in which I was in a long-gone toy store picking up Mego figures on clearance, I saw an Escape from New York board game by the cash register and promptly snatched it up. After I woke up the next morning and realized how utterly pathetic even my subconscious life was, I headed out to one of the vintage toy stores I frequented and lo and behold, there it was!. After getting it home, it quickly became apparent that at no point in the game was I going to get to encounter The Duke or that chick from the Chock Full O’Nuts. No, instead I got to meander around the board in search of missing documents and a president whose appearance on the box cover looks more like famed suicidal politician Budd Dwyer than Donald Pleasence. My dreams always betray me.

1) The Sting Game
Remember in that episode of Freaks and Geeks when Mr Weir was trying to get Sam and Lindsay to play that stock market game The Pit and they just didn’t give a shit? Same deal here. This is something that you’d have to play over at your grandmom’s house, and not the cookie-baking, surprise Star Wars-figure-giving one either. I’m talking the bullshit granny whose home is populated by Emmett Kelly clown statues and the smell of dead dreams. Kids aged 10 and up don’t want to play games based on Newman and Redford films. They want to smash clay pineapples and eat brains. Fuck this game.

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Writer/Director Christopher Nolan Talks About 'The Dark Knight'

By Rebecca Murray

Writer/director Christopher Nolan on the set of 'The Dark Knight.'

© Warner Bros Pictures

"I think the big challenge really in doing a sequel is to build on what you've done in the first film, but not abandon the characters, the logic, the tone of the world that you created for the first film," explained Nolan. "So there are elements the audience will expect you to bring back that you need to bring back. You also have to balance that with the need to see something new and to see something different, and that's been the challenge through the whole of making the film."

Tim Burton's Batman Returns was typical of Burton's quirky, dark style of filmmaking but with The Dark Knight Nolan outdoes Burton, taking the Batman franchise into even more disturbing territory. "You certainly can push it too far, but interestingly there are different ways to be disturbing," offered Nolan. " I mean, I don't talk a lot about the previous films because I didn’t make them and they're not mine to talk about, but certainly if you look at Batman Returns with Danny DeVito as The Penguin, eating the fish and everything, there are some extraordinarily disturbing images in that movie. But they're coming at it from a surreal point of view."

"I think the ways in which this film is disturbing are different. We try to ground it a little more in reality and so I suppose there's a sense there that might get under your skin a little more, if it relates to the world that we live in. As I say though, there are different tones that can be taken with adapting this character to the movies. Indeed, in the comics, one of the things that Paul Levitz at DC Comics first talked about when I first came onboard for Batman Begins is that Batman is a character who traditionally is interpreted in very different ways by the different artists and writers who've worked on it over the years. So there's a freedom, and an expectation even, that you will actually put something new into it, that it'll be interpreted in some different way. I think of any of the superheroes Batman is the darkest. There is an expectation that you're going to be dealing with more disturbing elements of the psyche. That's the place that he comes from as a character, so it feels appropriate to this character."

The Dark Knight pushes the PG-13 limit (it earned its rating for intense sequences of violence and some menace). Nolan knew that was the rating the studio was targeting throughout production and kept that in mind when crafting the film. "…Part of my creative process is knowing the tone of the film that I'm going to wind up with. So always knowing that this was going to be a PG-13 movie and that we want kids and families to go see this, you think along those lines and you don't really tend to come up with stuff that's completely beyond the pale."

Nolan believes that although it does push the PG-13 boundary, The Dark Knight never really crosses the line into 'R' territory. "If you assess the film carefully and analyze it with other films, it's not a particularly violent film actually. There is no blood. Very few people get shot and killed, compared with other action films," said Nolan. "There's plenty violence in the film, believe me. We tried to shoot it and dress it in a very responsible way so that the intensity of the film comes more from the performances and the idea of what's happening and what might happen. A lot of the intensity comes from the threat of those things that may happen that then don't. There's definitely an intensity to that."

"I think the MPAA were very responsible in their assessment of the movie. I made it very clear to them that I'd gone into this knowing that it had to be a PG-13 and every day on set when we were dealing with violent issues I would be careful to tone things down and say, 'Okay, we're not going to use any blood squibs. We're not going to shoot things that can't possibly be in the film.' So it's a very bloodless film. We're dealing with a hero who won't carry a gun and who won't kill people, which is almost unique in terms of an action film. It's a conversation that I've had with the studio, with the MPAA and everyone else at different stages to say that it's very hard actually making one of these huge-scaled films with a heroic figure who's not prepared to kill people. But I think it's an interesting challenge and I think that it takes the story more interesting places."

Warner Bros Pictures never attempted to intercede in the filmmaking process and never tried to get Nolan to lighten the tone or change the direction of The Dark Knight story. "I don't really fight with the studio. I never have because I think you lose. It's quite a powerful organization that's paying for the whole film. My experience and my way of working with them has been a very positive collaboration, really. I think the thing that I try to do as a filmmaker is try to be very communicative to the studio and to everyone else. I try to really explain to them what it is that I am doing so that any big disagreements about the nature of what the thing should be are had right on Day One of putting the script together, rather than when you're actually shooting the film or editing the film," said Nolan.

It's impossible to discuss The Dark Knight without bringing up Heath Ledger. Ledger's performance as The Joker is the first performance of 2008 to gather Oscar buzz. If in fact Ledger is honored by the Academy for his portrayal of the twisted character, then he would be the first actor to receive an Academy Award posthumously since Peter Finch won for Best Actor in 1976's Network.

Sadly, Ledger passed away while The Dark Knight was in post-production. Many members of the media, and the general public, speculated that playing The Joker affected Ledger so deeply that it contributed to his death. Asked to address that, Nolan replied, "I'll answer that simply to say that it diminishes his skill as an actor. The job of an actor is someone who takes on a character and distinguishes between real life and a character. Anyone who's spent time on a movie set knows that it's a very artificial environment and the great skill of someone like Heath Ledger or Christian Bale, all these guys, is that they can be jobbing along in a workaday environment and then when the camera rolls they can find this great character."

"I'm very confident that the performance has been edited exactly as it would've been had Heath not died," said Nolan about dealing with the loss of one of the film's stars after shooting had wrapped. "It was very important to me that his performance be put out there exactly the way that we had intended it and that he had intended it to be seen as well. Watching him come up with the characterization was a pretty exciting and pretty amazing thing because you're looking at an actor craft an iconic presence for a character, but making it human at the same time. That's an incredible thing to do and the way in which he's done it is extraordinarily complicated."

"Everything about what he does from every gesture, every little facial tick, everything he's doing with his voice – it all speaks to the heart of this character. It all speaks to this idea of a character who's devoted to a concept of pure anarchy and chaos. It's hard to get a handle on how those elements combine. The physicality reminds me of the great silent comedians. It has a bit of [Buster] Keaton and [Charlie] Chaplin about it. The voice is very difficult to imitate. Every film set, on every crew there are dozens of talented mimics who are always taking off different performances or lines that they've heard from actors before, but no one could do The Joker. No one has been able to imitate it successfully. It's very elusive and complicated, but working with Heath you would see that he very precisely worked out every aspect of him. "

Nolan says Ledger talked to him throughout the process of getting into the character of The Joker. "Yeah, to a degree. When I was working on the script and he'd gone off to think about what he was going to do with the character, he would call me from time to time and talk about the things that he was working on. But the truth is that when you're outside that process before you get to set it's all a bit abstract. So he was talking to me about how he'd been studying the way that ventriloquist dummies talk and things like that. I'd be sitting on the other end of the phone going, 'Well, that's a bit peculiar.' But what I'm really hearing is an actor really invested in trying to come up with something very unique," explained Nolan. "Then when I saw it all come together, the conversations we'd had kind of made sense. I could see where he was coming from with that with the pitch of the voice."

"He would talk about having it change pitch dramatically in very sudden ways and things like that. That helps the unpredictability of the character. When we were mixing the sound for the film, we let his voice – normally you're sort of flattening out voices to make them clearer, evening out the volume at which they speak - but with The Joker we felt that you had to let it be a little bit out of control in the way that he performed it."

Ledger drew from a wide variety of sources to come up with his unique and definitive take on The Joker. "It's really a lot of different things mixed together," said Nolan. "Certainly visually, with the makeup, I always had the idea of Francis Bacon paintings and I showed those to Heath and showed those to John Caglione who did the makeup. We were looking at smearing and smudging and caking the makeup on him, doing it in ways that we could degrade the look through the film. But really I think what he's done is very unique. You can see different influences. You can see Alex in A Clockwork Orange. You can see a Francis Bacon paintings or the punk sort of influence, but I think there's a very unique combination that he's made from those."

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'Transformers 2,' 'Star Trek,' 'G.I. Joe' Lead Our Most Anticipated Movies Of Summer ... 2009

"The Dark Knight" opened this past weekend to astonished and appreciative crowds everywhere. It's the best movie of the summer, they cried! The best superhero movie of all time, they shouted! A sequel that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath

as "The Godfather: Part II," they exalted!

But you wanna know what it really is? So 2008.

Sure, we've got the next "Mummy," "Tropic Thunder" and "Pineapple Express" left to go, but with summer 2008 winding down we thought we'd take a look at our most anticipated movies ... of summer 2009.

"The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus"

One-thousand-year-old Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) has a problem: The head of a magical theater, the good doctor can transport even the most jaded and cynical audience member through a world of pure imagination. All fine and good, of course, unless the devil himself granted you those powers — and kidnaps your daughter to seal the deal. What's a guy to do? Call on some pretty powerful friends, who include a dwarf (Verne Troyer) and a mysterious outsider named Tony, to help track her through parallel dimensions.

Director Terry Gilliam had a problem too: With production well under way on his latest leap into pure imagination, Gilliam lost his Tony when Heath Ledger died suddenly from a drug overdose. What's a director to do? Call on some pretty powerful friends, of course, including Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell, who will each pay tribute to Ledger by playing his last-ever character in various parts of the movie. Now just what sort of Faustian bargain do we have to make to get Ledger back ... and where can we sign up?

"Year One"

Not every story has to be original, you know. This one, actually, is ripped off from one of the first. Starring Jack Black, Michael Cera and Hank Azaria, "Year One" is a parody of biblical proportions — literally — as our protagonists navigate such landmines as Sodom and Gomorrah, and Cain and Abel, all in a search for the meaning of life. What is it? "It's so hard to ... " Cera hesitated, before looking up with a coy smile when we asked him last year. "I wouldn't do a good job [of describing] it, I guess." We'll be there to find out on June 5.

"G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra"

It's one of the worst parts of getting older — no matter how excited you are about something, it'll never match the feelings of anticipation and joy you got from the same thing at the age of 6. Right? Not for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who acted like a diabetic walking into the Wonka factory when his role as Cobra Commander came up. And why not? An origin story of sorts, "Joe" will follow a slew of old favorites, including Duke (Channing Tatum), Snake-Eyes (Ray Park) and the Baroness (Sienna Miller) as they try to save the world (or end it). Know this, Joseph: Your enthusiasm is infectious. (And knowing is half the battle.) "G.I. Joe" heads into battle August 7.

"Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time"

The biggest problem in modern cinema with the portrayal of Middle Easterners? They're never the good guys! Thank goodness, then, for Jake Gyllenhaal, who will step into the titular role of Prince Dastan, a sixth-century Persian prince who must rescue the Sands of Time from an evil nobleman (Ben Kingsley). Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Disney is hoping that this is the next "Pirates" — a fun romp with boffo effects. All fine and dandy but, good grief, we haven't seen this much cultural revisionism from Disney since they gave us an Aladdin that looked like Tom Cruise. The video game-turned-movie hits theaters June 16.

"X-Men Origins: Wolverine"

Go back far enough in any story and pretty soon just about everything becomes lame. Want proof? Darth Vader was the most evil man in the universe — until George Lucas told us he just had mommy issues. So when it comes to one of the coolest guys in comic history, you can understand our trepidation. But what's not to like about a Wolverine origin story? It's got a whole boatload of mutants (seriously, we stopped counting when we got to 10). "Root-a-toot-toot!" Under the direction of Oscar winner Gavin Hood, "Wolverine" kicks off the summer-movie season May 1.


Ah, to be old and retired, free from the rat race of human existence, from the responsibilities of work and family, given leisure time to perfect a craft, play a game of cards, eat an early dinner, and of course, engage in a worldwide quest filled with danger, excitement and peril (from your house, no less, which you've converted into a hot-air balloon and flown to South America). For some reason, those last few things aren't listed on my grandmother's AARP bulletin. No matter. Hot on the heels of the phenomenal artistic success of "WALL-E," Pixar's "Up" gets a release May 29.


He deflated the conflict between Jews and Palestinians. He incited a riot in Arkansas. God bless him, he even managed to piss off Ben Affleck. All praise Sacha Baron Cohen, the quickest comedic wit around and the man behind the funniest movie of the decade, "Borat." The dumb, the ignorant and the slow — look out! The joke's on us again when "Brüno" opens May 15.

"Star Trek"

They've been to the farthest reaches of the galaxy, and, if rumors are to be believed, they'll soon journey to the city on the edge of forever. But ask any "Star Trek" fan where they'd most like to see the intrepid crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise boldly go next, and they'll all tell you the same thing: into renewed relevance. At least 20 years since their last mainstream hit, "Trek" regulars Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Chekov , Scotty and Sulu get reimagined by J.J. Abrams. Beam us up May 8.

"Terminator Salvation"

They are fearless machines — merciless, dispassionate and ferociously deadly. They have access to time machines and weapons capable of unspeakable destruction. They are constructed of nearly invincible polymers, capable of surviving almost anything. They are the Terminators. And they can't freaking kill one stupid woman and her bratty kid! Even though they've tried three times! How about a little "self" awareness, Skynet? You're terrible at your job. In this reboot after half a decade away from the big screen, the T-1000 and his pals search for John Connor (Christian Bale) and his wife as the future war begins. On May 22, will the fourth time be the charm? Not likely. They'll "be back" for at least two more sequels.

"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen"

Giant. Effing. Robots. Killing each other. Need we say more? All right, you twisted my arm. How about this? Giant. Effing. Robots. Killing each other. And Megan Fox. Yeah, you're right. That's much better. Director Michael Bay, Fox, Shia LaBeouf, Optimus Prime and the rest are back June 26.

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Most Moviegoers Plan To See Dark Knight Again

64% of Dark Knight moviegoers say they plan to see the movie again in the theater, according to a poll conducted this weekend by fandango. Sixty-two percent of those respondents said that Heath Ledger’s incredible performance is the factor that makes them want to see it a second time.

Discuss: Do you plan on seeing The Dark Knight again on the big screen? If so, why?

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Janet Jackson's 'malfunction' fine nixed

A federal appeals court Monday threw out a $550,000 indecency fine against CBS for Janet Jackson's breast-baring "wardrobe malfunction" at the 2004 Super Bowl.

The three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Federal Communications Commission "acted arbitrarily and capriciously" in issuing the fine for the fleeting image of nudity.

Ninety million people were watching the Super Bowl when singer Justin Timberlake reached for Jackson's chest.

The court found that the FCC fine for the "broadcast of a nine-sixteenths of one second glimpse of a bare female breast" deviated from its nearly 30-year practice of fining broadcast indecency only when it was extremely "pervasive."

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10 Best: Battle Cries — 'By the Power of Greyskull... I Have the Power!'

By Lara Kristin Lentini

  • 1. "This is where we fight! This is where they die!"
    King Leonidas

    In 300, the king of Sparta uses this catchy jingle to rally his troops against the Persians. It scores big points for clarity, but it really gets a boost when 300 Spartans shout "HA-OOH!" in response.

  • 2. "Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?"
    Sergeant Major Daniel Daly

    Besieged and outnumbered at the 1918 Battle of Belleau Wood, Daly egged on his men with a rhetorical question — and it actually worked. So well that Johnny Rico reused the line in Starship Troopers.

  • 3. "By the power of Greyskull ... I have the powerrr!!!"

    Prince Adam needs a thesaurus. His catchphrase is repetitive and vague (the power to do what, exactly?), but it's all about delivery: Props to him for managing to say it with conviction in a Speedo.

  • 4. "Over? Did you say over? Nothing is over till we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!"

    The Animal House call to arms transcends its historical imprecision by appealing to the brotherhood of all men and, by implication, the universal desire to get tanked wearing a bedsheet. Toga! Toga!

  • 5. "From my cold, dead hands!"
    Charlton Heston

    The NRA spokesperson and president didn't invent this slogan, but when he uttered the phrase in a primal, throaty growl while brandishing a musket over his head at the group's 2000 convention, it made the leap from bumper sticker to battle cry.

  • 6. "Tulta munille!" (Fire at their balls!)"
    Finnish troops

    In Väinö Linna's World War II novel The Unknown Soldier, the Finnish hollered this easy-to-remember directive, masterfully exploiting castration anxiety.

  • 7. "Carthago delenda est!" (Carthage must be destroyed!)
    Cato the Elder

    Back around 157 BC, the Roman statesman worked this imperative into all of his speeches on the senate floor. He also dropped it cold at toga parties and around town until the Third Punic War finally kicked off. Sound familiar?

  • 8. "Leeeroy Jennnkins!"
    Leeroy Jenkins

    This machinima avatar is immortalized among the World of Warcraft crowd for plunging into battle shouting his own nom de guerre while his comrades dawdled on the sidelines overthinking their strategy.

  • 9. "I am the Love Angel, I am Wedding Peach, and I am very angry with you!"
    Wedding Peach

    In her eponymous manga and anime, the poor girl has to juggle a demanding junior high schedule while fighting an endless variety of devils. She didn't ask to be the Love Angel. It makes you wonder why her cry is so mildly worded and tempered with ambivalence.

  • 10. "Today is a good day to die!"

    This badass race cherry-picked its maxim from the Sioux for its counterintuitive melding of both negative and positive thinking — a brand of logic sure to befuddle Spock.

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Christian Bale Arrested for Allegedly Assaulting Mother, Sister; Actor Denies Allegation

LONDON — Christian Bale on Tuesday denied allegations of assault made by his mother and sister, hours after the star of "The Dark Knight" was arrested, questioned by London police and released.

The 34-year-old actor spent four hours at a police station, but was not charged and was released on bail. British media reported that Bale's mother and sister complained he had assaulted them at the Dorchester Hotel in London on Sunday night, a day before the European premiere of "The Dark Knight."

Bale's London-based law firm, Schillings said Bale, issued a statement denying that an assault took place.

"Christian Bale attended a London police station today on a voluntary basis," the statement read. "Bale, who denies the allegation, cooperated throughout, gave his account in full of the events in question, and has left the station without any charge being made against him by the police."

A woman thought to be Bale's sister Sharon told reporters "it's a family matter" from her home in Corfe Mullen, 110 miles southwest of London. A man who answered the door at the home of his mother Jenny Bale in nearby Bournemouth said she did not want to comment.

The Sun newspaper said Sharon and Jenny Bale had made the complaint. Bale, who was born in Wales, has three older sisters: Erin, Sharon, and Louise Bale.

The reports surface just days after "The Dark Knight," which co-stars the late Heath Ledger as Batman's nemesis the Joker, took a record $158.4 million at the box office in its opening weekend.

Asked Tuesday whether Bale had been arrested, a London police spokesman did not refer to him by name but said: "A 34-year-old man attended a central London police station this morning by appointment and was arrested in connection with an allegation of assault."

The spokesman requested anonymity because he is not authorized to be identified under police policy. British police do not name suspects who have not been formally charged.

The force later said in a statement that the man had been released on bail pending further inquiries and told to return in September. It did not specify the date.

The Sun said police did not question the actor Monday because they did not want to interfere with the premiere of the movie, in which he stars as the vigilante crime fighter. The next scheduled stops on the film's European premiere tour were Madrid, Spain, July 23; and Tokyo on July 28.

Bale first made a splash as the child star of Steven Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun" in 1987 and as an adult has made his name with intense screen roles. His films include "American Psycho," "The Machinist" and "Batman Begins."

In "The Dark Knight," Bale reprises the role of wealthy playboy Bruce Wayne and his crime-fighting alter-ego Batman, a brooding vigilante superhero still scarred by the murder of his parents.

Bale is also the stepson of author and feminist leader Gloria Steinem. Her assistant said Tuesday that she's at a writing retreat and was unavailable for comment.

Bale's current project is playing John Connor in "Terminator Salvation," scheduled for filming this week in New Mexico. The film "will continue to shoot with Mr. Bale when he has completed his International tour for 'The Dark Knight,"' said Lee Anne Muldoon, unit publicist for the movie.

A records check turned up no criminal record for Bale in the Los Angeles area, where he's lived with his wife, Sibi Blazic, and their young daughter.

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