Telltale Games likely to close after final season of The Walking Dead

Clementine from 'The Walking Dead.'
Image: telltale games

UPDATE, 6:06 p.m. ET: Telltale Games has issued an official statement, which has been added below. Story has been updated throughout.

Beloved game studio Telltale Games went through a major downsizing.

The company went through a major round of layoffs Friday, dropping the size of its studio from about 250 people down to just 25 people as the developer moves toward “majority studio closure,” Gamasutra, The Verge, and US Gamer, and former Telltale employees reported Friday.

Known for its narrative-driven chapter-based games like The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and Batman: The Telltale Series, Telltale is holding onto the small group of people to complete the final season of The Walking Dead, which still has three announced episodes expected to release in September, November, and December, according to US Gamer.

According to reports, the second Wolf Among Us game and the recently announced Stranger Things game have both effectively been canceled. 

Telltale Games started in 2004 and rocketed in popularity with their critically acclaimed Walking Dead game in 2012, introducing their narrative, episodic style to a broader market. Along with games based on The Walking Dead, Telltale created narrative games based on other popular series including Minecraft, Borderlands, Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Galaxy, and a whole bunch more.

Read more: https://mashable.com/article/telltale-games-layoffs/

Henry Cavill Flying Away Is an Opportunity for DC to Start Over

The latest death of Superman is upon us: Henry Cavill, the English-born actor who’s played the Man of Steel in three movies, is reportedly leaving the DC Universe. What Warner Bros. will do going forward is unclear, but the studio did release a statement today saying "we have made no current decisions regarding upcoming Superman films." And with that, for the first time in years, the onscreen fate of one of DC's most critically and commercially bulletproof characters is up, up in the air. And maybe it should stay that way.

Ever since 2013's Man of Steel, Warner Bros. has been attempting to replicate the shared-storyline success of Marvel's decade-old mega-franchise. It could have worked. Warners had plenty going for it: A galaxy-sized archive of DC Comics characters and narratives; access to major stars like Ben Affleck (Batman) and Will Smith (Deadshot); and a hit-making architect in writer-director Zack Snyder. But whereas the Marvel films balanced gravitas with humor and comaradery, Snyder’s brooding vision was full of aggro heroes and city-leveling catastrophes. The resulting movies were bombastic, baffling, and unaware of their own joylessness (not to mention expensive). By the time of 2017's failed Justice League—the equivalent of a two-hour screen-saver, full of unhappy performers and unconvincing CGI—it was clear the studio's unification plan would need to be rethought.

Now, DC's big-screen interconnected universe may be dead for good; at the very least, it's on ice. Deadline notes that Affleck—who has portrayed Batman in a trio of Warner Bros. films—likely won’t be returning to the cowl-and-growl role that resulted in one of the more depressing memes of all time. And a long-ago-promised sequel to Justice League will likely slip off IMDb at some point soon, much to the chagrin of no one, save for Jason Momoa's abs sommelier, who was looking forward to that bonus.

Instead, Warner Bros. is focusing on stand-alone stories featuring characters like Wonder Woman, Shazam, The Joker, and Batgirl. Wonder Woman 1984 will take place in a Supes-free past, while the recent Aquaman trailer was almost exclusively about Aquaman, with no winking big-star cameos. Even the in-the-works The Batman looks to remain grounded in Gotham.

These are characters who are creeping toward their 100th birthdays, yet have remained fundamentally unchanged for decades. Both are due for some sort of radical re-thinking.

For those who've endured the studio's labored, Martha-lovin’ attempts to bring their heroes to the multiplex, the new DC Existential Unilateralism (or DCEU) feels like the only sane approach. Characters like Batman and Superman were never intended to play well with others: They’re outsiders—one a billionaire loner, the other an awkward alien—whose social skills and inflexible ideology all but demand they work in fortresses of solitude. One of the more inspired elements of the Tim Burton-directed Batman was to play up the fact that Bruce Wayne wasn't particularly suave or assured; instead, he was a night-crawling nut who barely felt at home in his own mansion. The idea of Burton's Batman having a sustained conversation with another hero, much less teaming up with one of them, was unthinkable.

That first modern Batman movie turns 30 next year—which points to another reason for Warner Bros. to pull the limelight from some of its better-known in-house heroes: There’s very little left to say about them. The last four decades have seen eight live-action movies with Superman, and ten featuring Batman. Villains have been recycled, costumes have been refurbished, origin stories have been reiterated. These are characters who are creeping toward their 100th birthdays, yet have remained fundamentally unchanged for decades. Both are due for some sort of radical re-thinking.

But first, they need to disappear for a while. It took almost two decades for the camp-Batman of the '60s to transform into the noir-weirdo Batman of the '80s. The same amount of time passed before audiences were willing to let go of the square, small-screen Superman of TV, and embrace Christopher Reeve's winking, more emo Man of Feels. Those sort of changes require a prolonged absence—one that allows characters, and viewers, to evolve at the same rate. If you want moviegoers to believe a man can fly, it helps to ground him for a while.

Plus, the more DC moves away from its flagship capers, the better their chances of finding weirdness in the margins. A few years ago, Marvel’s Ant-Man—a character whose exploits were were relegated to the three-for-a-dollar discount-boxes—became a household name. And the Guardians of the Galaxy were essentially cult heroes until the 2014 hit movie bearing their name. Similarly, DC's television efforts have found ways to make mainstream heroes out of lesser-known properties like Black Lightning, Firestorm, and Hawkgirl.

There are several other potentially compelling—possibly even fun?—DC characters that could work in movies (the Wachowskis were angling to make a Plastic Man film as far back as the mid-'90s). But for now, the strategy of an Aquaman here and a Supergirl there is far more sensible given the glut of superhero headlining acts that have put DC's characters in such dire straits (both on and off screen). Batman and Superman can afford to take some time off. There's plenty more to marvel at.


More Great WIRED Stories

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/henry-cavill-superman-dc-future/

At last, an Oscar for popular film. Because who needs another The Shape Of Water? | Hadley Freeman

Many of the most enduring films of the past few decades remain ungarlanded

When I was a kid, my parents had an amazingly impressive collection of video cassettes, from Bing Crosbys White Christmas to Shoah (nothing like a nine-hour Holocaust documentary to make these cosy nights in go with a swing). But my favourite tape was The 65th Anniversary Of The Academy Awards: Oscars Greatest Hits! I was not so much obsessed with this video as possessed by it, and to this day my go-to karaoke song is Billy Crystals opening number from the 1991 Oscars: Ghost! Can it win this lottery?/ Ghost! Made me take up pottery. Do you want to know when Cher took Val Kilmer to the Oscars as her date? How pissed off Barbra Streisand looked in 1992, not to be up for best director for The Prince Of Tides? Then you, my friend, have come to the right columnist.

I still love the Oscars, in all their ludicrous, self-regarding glory. But in recent years they have somehow become elevated from that show where Rob Lowe once sang a duet with Snow White to being a statement about Where America Is Now. On the left, the Oscars have been hammered for being so old, white and male; on the right, they have been criticised for becoming too worthy. An awards ceremony turning itself into a culture war is a makeover to rival Julia Roberts swapping thigh-high boots for twin sets in Pretty Woman (a performance which itself was nominated for an Oscar; as I said, I know all the important stuff).

Last week it looked like the Oscars had capitulated to the right, by announcing there will be a new category called outstanding achievement in popular film, AKA the We Know You Care More About Black Panther Than Whatever Won Best Picture Last Year award (it was The Shape Of Water, a title you will have forgotten again by the end of this sentence). This category will presumably favour movies that have made over $100m, and celebrities heretofore not known for an aversion to money were uniformly horrified. The film business passed away today with the announcement of the popular film Oscar, Rob Lowe tweeted, having apparently forgotten he and I might have mentioned this before literally sang with Snow White at the 1989 Oscars. Film critics were even more disgusted, with one arguing that the Oscars are about staying alive to excellence.

Um, are they? Because ever since Harvey Weinstein bullied the Academy in the 1990s into refashioning the awards criteria to fit his then company Miramaxs image, the Oscars have been about celebrating the indie-ish, the artsy-ish and the thuddingly middlebrow and for every Moonlight, there are about 17 The Kings Speeches. Action movies never get nominated any more, and nor do comedies; instead we have near self-parodic Oscars Movies Dramatic Films full of Actors doing Serious Acting.

Meanwhile, many of the most enduring films of the past few decades remain ungarlanded by what is allegedly the most significant film award in the world. Take the 1986 Oscars, where the big winners were Out Of Africa, Kiss Of The Spider Woman, Prizzis Honor. All solid movies, no question, none of which youve seen since 1986. And what little film was fobbed off with best sound effects editing? Back To The Future. Now, Im not saying Out Of Africa shouldnt have won. But I am saying Back To The Future should definitely have also won. And so should The Dark Knight, Batman, Alien, Dirty Dancing, Bridesmaids and Terminator 2, none of which even got a best film nomination.

Judging from the anger over the new category, youd think the Oscars had ruled that only films earning more than $100m qualify for best film. In fact, the popular Oscar will ensure that more smaller films qualify for an Oscar, as the bigger ones get siphoned off to their own new category. Some have argued that popular is a phoney award, and this year, a way of fobbing off Black Panther. Only film obsessives know (and care) that Toy Story 3 won for best animated film (a then relatively new category), and not best film. To everyone else, its a big Oscar winner.

This anger is not really about the Oscars, but an anxiety about how the movie business is changing. Studios no longer really make adult dramas like Out Of Africa, but instead rely on big-budget franchise movies. These have become, largely, junk, relying on CGI instead of quality scripts and direction. But that is also changing: Black Panther would clearly be a worthy winner, as Wonder Woman would have been and with the new category these mega movies wont hog the awards away from smaller films, as Titanic did in 1997.

The idea that the Oscars were ever about pure cinematic excellence could only be entertained by someone never blessed with an Oscars Greatest Hits! video. They are about the TV ratings, and if no one watches the show, then no one will get an award not Black Panther, nor any future Moonlights. Whether making the Oscars more inclusive or more populist will stop the shows plummeting ratings remains to be seen. Honestly, some of us would be happy just to hear another pottery/lottery rhyming couplet.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/aug/18/oscar-popular-film-shape-water-hadley-freeman

The 10 Best Starry Night Mashups on the Web

Vincent van Gogh, 1889

The Starry Night is an oil on canvas by Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh. Painted in June 1889, it depicts the view from the east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

It has been in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City since 1941, and is widely regarded as among Van Gogh’s finest works. The Starry Night is one of the most recognized paintings in the history of Western culture and as such, has been the source for mashups, remixes, and reinterpretations in a wide range of mediums and formats.

Below you will find what we believe to be the 10 best Starry Night mashups on the Web.

Starry Night x Stranger Things Mashup

 

Artist Unknown

Starry Night x Joker Mashup

 

Artwork by Vartan Garnikyan

3. Starry Night x Calvin & Hobbes Mashup

 

4. Starry Night (Ebru) Painted on Dark Water

 

Read more: https://twistedsifter.com/2018/08/best-starry-night-mashups-on-the-web/

7-Year-Old Is Heartbroken After Only 1 Friend Shows Up to His Birthday PartyThen Superheroes Plan an Epic Surprise!

A Houston boy named Max was absolutely devastated when only one of the 30 friends he invited to his birthday party showed up on June 30.

His mother, Susann, had planned the party for the 7-year-old and his friends at a nearby trampoline park, and had high hopes for her little man’s celebration.

However, when just one friend and his sister showed up, Max was totally heartbroken.

Susann said most people didn’t even RSVP, so she wrote a letter to the 94.5FM radio station, asking them to remind parents to RSVP.

But the discouraged mama never expected that the radio station would actually read her letter on the air AND that the Houston Cosplay for Charity would hear the broadcast.

Superheroes like Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Catwoman and more suited up to give max the “do-over” birthday celebration of a lifetime a month later. And this party couldn’t have been any more different than the last!

Forty people came to the second party, including the volunteer cosplayers and a few friends who couldn’t make it the first time.

Max was absolutely STUNNED when he walked in on the totally unexpected surprise.

The overwhelming expression of joy was written ALL over his face as he hugged each superhero who came into the room.

The woman who dressed as Wonder Woman, Brandi Coatsworth, had reached out to Susann after hearing about Max’s tear-jerking story, and the two planned the extravaganza together. The trampoline park even gave the second party for free!

“Anyone who knows Max and his story was just heartbroken for him,” said Susann. “He’s such a great, kind kid that it’s hard to hear something like that happened. When [the radio show] forwarded Brandi’s email, I was floored. I had no idea something like that would or could happen,” she added.

But the charity cosplayers couldn’t have been happier to see that huge smile plastered on Max’s face at the sight of his newfound friends.

“It only takes a moment to make a difference in someone’s life,” remarked Brandi. “Seeing the pure joy on his face is why we do what we do, and it really warmed our hearts to see such a sweet child so happy.”

Kudos to these kindhearted superheroes who went out of their way to make Max’s day by turning a birthday disaster into a birthday to remember!

Read Next On FaithIt
5 Ways to Know If Your Friendship Is Toxic

Read more: https://faithit.com/7-year-old-heartbroken-only-1-friend-shows-up-birthday-party-superheroes-plan-surprise/

Crazy Rich Asians Changes Nothing About Rom-Coms, and Everything About Movies

Rachel Chu and Nick Young are like most millennial couples in New York City—at least millennial couples in which one is a brilliant economics professor and the other is heir to a real estate empire in Singapore. There’s a problem, though: Nick (Henry Golding) has kept Rachel (Constance Wu) in the dark about his circumstances back home. His plan to invite her to Singapore for the wedding of his best friend and to meet his family, he hopes, will remedy this. So begins director Jon M. Chu’s posh extravaganza, Crazy Rich Asians, a movie of necessary firsts and communal heart.

What Rachel doesn’t realize when she accepts Nick’s invitation is that he isn’t just from any family, but Singapore’s wealthiest and most influential (a fact that has lended him celebrity-bachelor status among locals). It doesn’t take long for the drama of home to reveal its sneer. Rachel—who is Chinese-American and thus considered an outsider—finds herself in an obstacle course for acceptance. The first series of hurdles are relatively painless. Nick’s cousin Astrid (Gemma Chan) is harboring secrets of her own; she’s discovered her husband is cheating and finds an unlikely confidant in Rachel. Next are Nick’s aunties and a former flame. With help from her college BFF Peik Lin (a rowdy and riotous Awkwafina) and cousin Oliver (Nico Santos), Rachel proves a resilient spark against their torrent of social exile.

The final hurdle turns out to be Nick’s mother, the matriarch of the clan. Deeply protective, Eleanor Sung-Young (a steely Michelle Yeoh) is a woman of familial duty and respect, and believes Rachel is the wrong woman for Nick. And so the women come to represent dueling ideals of tradition and freedom. Eleanor wants Nick to take control of the family business, but he’s become enthralled with the idea of carving out a life with Rachel, even if that happens to be in America. A mother’s wrath, though, is unforgiving and its reach endless. Eleanor’s last-ditch effort to torpedo the couple’s relationship—by exposing a long-buried secret about Rachel’s father—triggers the film’s most high-stakes moment.

Crazy Rich Asians culminates like a Singaporean Cinderella, illustrating the extent each character will go to for the people they love. It’s a film of big ambitions that doesn’t entirely upend the rom-com format, but instead infuses the genre with a tint of hope. And so, we are left with a movie about sprawl—and the lengths people travel to connect with others, to greet them where they are, to find peace on common ground. Between mother and son. Between partners and friends. Between America and Singapore. Between the known and the unknown. Between truth and fiction.

Based on the 2013 novel by Kevin Kwan, the film does vital work in demolishing certain Asian stereotypes that have found an unlikely lifeforce in American pop culture. Early on, Peik Lin’s father (a predictably bonkers Ken Jeong) instructs his two youngest children to finish their dinner; “Think of all the starving children in America,” he says. Other chasms the film attempts to cross prove less fruitful. Unfolding at a blistering pace, it never quite comes up for air to allow for enough nuance around characters that demand it. Astrid and Eleanor’s backstories, while convenient, feel microwaved and could have ultimately benefited from more substance and time.

These are important stories to tell. And we need to witness them on screen. But danger lurks in the collective narrative.

The marrow of the film, and its most crucial lesson, deals with the politics of comfort: how those on screen navigate the trappings of high society, and how we, the viewers, are cushioned into a specific characterization of Asian identity. The movie is full of humor and pluck, but nothing emotionally gut-wrenching. And deservedly so. It is a rom-com after all. But one gets the impression that Hollywood would have been less eager to greenlight a $30 million film that more closely resembled 1993’s The Joy Luck Club, which chronicled four struggling immigrant families in San Francisco. It was the last studio-backed feature to enlist a majority Asian and Asian-American cast until Crazy Rich Asians (which includes actors that span the diaspora—China, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines).

The comfort nourishes us, but is it what we need? We only ever witness the splendor of Singapore, touring its most elite enclaves and never once getting a peek into its other, less affluent regions. Not that the film, its writers or director, have that particular obligation. But it does raise the question—who is this movie speaking for and speaking to? That is not to take away from its historic achievements. But a movie of such cultural immensity is bound to be viewed as representing for the whole, whether it intends to or not—a weight shouldered earlier this year by Black Panther.

These are important stories to tell. And we need to witness them on screen. But danger lurks in the collective narrative. It’s an onus routinely projected onto major films (or books, or TV shows, or even politicians): The first Asian this. The first black that. But no one movie can speak for the whole. Not entirely. The fault is ours, really. We are a culture that, in 2018, still revels in “firsts.” A culture that happily celebrates victories we so desperately need, but rarely investigates why it took us so long to get here.


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Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/crazy-rich-asians-review/

Legendary Comic Book Writer Paul Levitz Unmasks the Horror Lurking in Brooklyn

Brooklyn was a place residents worked to escape in Paul Levitzs day, which was decades before an influx of wealthy whites transformed it into something barely recognizable to its natives.

But its hold on its children can be felt in the bitterness, the contempt and the truth behind the opening lines of Levitzs newest comic book: I got Brooklyn in my blood. But it sure as hell isnt this Brooklyn.

The lines belong to Billy OConnor, a pissed-off Marine veteran of Afghanistan turned asshole cop whose struggle with PTSD fuels the engine of Brooklyn Blood, Levitzs first original comic in 40 years published outside DC Comics.

Levitz, an East Flatbush native raised in the shadow of Tilden High School, spent decades shaping DC Comics as a writer, editor and eventually publisher. But on Wednesday, the smaller-press Dark Horse Comics will publish a collected edition of Brooklyn Blood, Levitzs hybrid detective thriller/horror story, a collaboration with artist Tim Hamilton.

Its a creative stretch for Levitz, one of the first comics fans to turn professional, whos most widely known as the driving force behind DCs Legion of Super-Heroes, a 30th century intergalactic task force helmed by teen heroes Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, and Lightning Lad. Brooklyn Blood riffs off Ed McBains detective fiction, he saysgreat procedurals and often structured to work around not developing too much detail about an adversaryand felt it was important to ground such a work in a familiar place.

OConnor is channeling my amazement at the borough changing. Not disgust, part joy, part amazement… and some worry that the working class transformative power of Brooklyn may get lost in the shift, Levitz tells The Daily Beast.

Brooklyn Blood, first serialized in the anthology series Dark Horse Presents, is a nervous tale driven by trauma. OConnors flashbacks to his armored personnel carrier running over an insurgent roadside bomb both complicate and help him unravel the case of a serial killer stalking Park Slope. With help from a psychic, OConnor and his Muslim partner, Nadira Hasan, get sucked ever deeper into a seemingly random spate of slayings that connect to something ancient and occult lurking within the fabric of the borough. Theres even a guest appearance by the borough of Queens.

Somehow, despite the supernatural elements of the story, the least realistic thing about the comic is the idea of a serial killer in Park Slope, the least distinct and interesting neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Well, Levitz says when I ask him about the Park Slope settingor, more accurately, vent my Park Slope antipathyI could argue the contradiction between a peaceful neighborhood and the manic crimes add texture…but mostly it was the history that led me there. To say more would probably spoil the story, but Levitz has a fair point.

He also has a secret weapon: his collaborator Hamilton, whose deep pools of black ink combine with smooth linework to look like a mix between Gahan Wilson and Sin City-era Frank Miller. Hamilton, a Brooklyn resident himself, renders a faithful, familiar 7th Avenue. His color palette is appropriately muted, full of mustards, soft blues and bursts of pink that feel somehow like a woozy borough at dusk, humid even in the fall when the story takes place. Levitzs friend, the comics artist Christine Norrie, connected him with Hamilton, whose adaptation of the Ray Bradbury classic Fahrenheit 451 had caught Levitzs eye.

Levitz is a crucial figure in comics history. His LOSH is the definitive version of a fixture franchise for DC that has fallen into eclipse in recent years, despite a recent televised depiction on the CW show Supergirl. But Levitzs work off the page has similar staying power. It was under Levitz and his similarly legendary publishing partner Jeanette Kahn that DC, ahead of rival Marvel, implemented a royalty system for writers and artists. With creators compensated more fairly than before, DC underwent something of a creative renaissance that stretched beyond revitalized Superman or Batman stories and into the launch of mature-readers imprint Vertigo and black superhero sub-universe Milestone Media.

Levitzs time as a DC executive ended in 2009. But in 2015, he and artist Sonny Liew revamped the Doctor Fate character. This version of the superhero mystic was an Egyptian-American living in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Though Levitz long ago decamped for Manhattan, his daughter lived in Boerum Hill and Williamsburg, making it not so easy to disentangle from a borough he hasnt lived in since he was 23. But the ghosts of his childhood linger: the zoo in Prospect Park, classes at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, taking in the Childrens Museum in Crown Heights or the majestic Brooklyn Museum on Eastern Parkway, where he later volunteered making up boxes for the gift shop.

Brooklyn was the place you worked to get out of in my day, Levitz remembered over email. It's long been a launching pad for immigrants and their families (I'm first generation American), and still is, but now there's this cool aspirational dimension for young people. I think that's unlike anything we've ever seen before…and amazing.

And in his blood.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/legendary-comic-book-writer-paul-levitz-unmasks-the-horror-lurking-in-brooklyn