TIME movies

Watch: This Trailer for the Final Hobbit Movie Is Ready for Battle

Welcome back, Bilbo

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After a relatively last-minute title change that took the final installment of the Hobbit series from There and Back Again to The Battle of the Five Armies, Peter Jackson’s Tolkien adaptation is living up to its title with a suitably bellicose first teaser trailer, which premiered for a live audience at Comic-Con over the weekend. (Fun fact: the panel at which the trailer was shown was moderated by Stephen Colbert, who has a cameo in the movie, according to HitFix’s liveblog of the event.)

“Will you have peace or war?” the trailer asks — and even if Thorin weren’t there to tell us the answer (hint: war), it would be easy to guess, as the trailer is chockablock with archers, armor and dramatic music.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is due in theaters on Dec. 17, 2014.

TIME movies

See Brand New Avengers: Age Of Ultron Concept Art

Avengers assemble!

As a special treat for San Diego Comic-Con 2014, Marvel released concept art for the second Avengers movie, Avengers: Age Of Ultron. The art shows all of the original Avengers from the first movie, as well as newcomers Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), fighting off legions of menacing Ultron robots. As an added bonus, the artists snuck in Vision, a super android who will also be joining the Avengers, into the background of Quicksilver’s concept art. The android superhero will be played by Paul Bettany, also known as the guy who’s married to Jennifer Connelly, who has previously voiced Iron Man’s artificially intelligent supercomputer JARVIS in the Marvel cinematic universe.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron comes to theaters on May 1, 2015.

TIME Opinion

I Don’t Love Lucy: The Bad Science in the Sci-Fi Thriller

Maybe if the screenwriters had used 20% of their brains...

You use a whole lot more than 10% of your brain—but a common fallacy that says otherwise is nonetheless the central premise of a new movie

Now there are three Lucys I have to keep straight: The 3.2 million year old Australopithecus unearthed in Ethiopia in 1974; the eponymous star of the inexplicably celebrated 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy; and, most recently, the lead character—played by Scarlett Johansson—of the new sci-fi thriller straightforwardly titled Lucy. Going by intellectual heft alone, I’ll pick the millions-year-old bones.

The premise of the movie, such as it is, is that Lucy, a drug mule living in Taiwan, is exposed to a bit of high-tech pharma that suddenly increases her brain power, giving her the ability to outwit entire police departments, travel through time and space, dematerialize at will and yada-yada-yada, cut to gunfights, special effects and a portentous message about, well, something or other.

The movie poster’s teaser line? “The average person uses 10% of their brain capacity. Imagine what she could do with 100%.”

Let’s forgive the poster its pronoun problem (the average person—as in just one of us—uses 10% of their brain capacity), because the science problem is so much more egregious. The 10% brainpower thing is part of a rich canon of widely believed and entirely untrue science dicta that include “Man is the only animal that kills its own kind” (tell that to the lion cubs that were just murdered by an alpha male trying to take over a pride) and “A goldfish can remember something for only seven seconds” (a premise that was tested…how? With a pop quiz?).

No one is entirely sure where the 10% brainpower canard got started, but it goes back at least a century and is one of the most popular entries in the equally popular book 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology. There is some speculation that the belief began with an idle quote by American philosopher William James who, in 1908, wrote, “We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources,” an observation vague enough to mean almost anything—or nothing—at all.

Some people attribute it to an explanation Albert Einstein offered when asked to account for his own towering intellect—except that Einstein never said such a thing and even if he had it would not make it true. Still others cite the more scientifically defensible idea that there is a measure of plasticity in the brain, so that if the region that controls, say, the right arm, is damaged by, say, a stroke, it is sometimes possible for other parts of the brain to pick up the slack—a sort of neural rewiring that restores lost motion and function.

But none of that remotely justifies the 10% silliness. The fact is, the brain is overworked as it is, 3 lbs. (1,400 gm) of tissue stuffed into a skull that can barely hold it all. There’s a reason the human brain is as wrinkled as it is and that’s because the more it grew as we developed, the more it bumped up against the limits of the cranium; the only way to increase the surface area of the neocortex sufficiently to handle the advanced data crunching we do was to add convolutions. Open up the cerebral cortex and smooth it out and it would measure 2.5 sq. ft. (2,500 sq cm). Wrinkles are a clumsy solution to a problem that never would have presented itself in the first place if 90% of our disk space were going to waste.

What’s more, our bodies simply couldn’t afford to maintain so much idle neuronal tissue since the brain is an exceedingly expensive organ to own and operate—at least in terms of energy needs. At birth, babies actually have up to 50% more neural connections among the billions of brain cells than adults do, but in the first few years of life (and, to a lesser extent, on through sexual maturity) a process of pruning takes place, with many of those synaptic links being broken and the ones that remain growing stronger. That makes the brain less diffuse and more efficient—which is exactly the way any good central processing unit should operate. It also allows it to use up fewer calories, which is critical.

“We were a nutritionally marginal species early on,” the late William Greenough, a psychologist and brain development expert at the University of Illinois, told me for my 2007 book Simplexity. “A synapse is a very costly thing to support.”

Added Ray Jackendoff, co-director of the center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, “The thing that’s really astonishing might not be that we lose so many connections, but that the brain’s plasticity and growth are able to continue for as long as they do.”

OK, so the Lucy screenwriters aren’t psychologists or directors of cognitive studies institutes. But they do have the same 100 billion neurons everybody else’s brains have. Here’s hoping they take a few billion of them out for an invigorating run before they write their next sci-fi script.

TIME Television

Everything You Need to Know About the Third Season of Arrow

The trailer reveals that Oliver's next nemesis will be a familiar one to those who know their way around the DC Comics universe

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Though there will be contenders this fall both new (Gotham, The Flash) and old (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), CW’s Arrow currently holds the crown for television’s best superhero series. The show’s Comic-Con panel over the weekend did little to diminish the belief that it’s a title that showrunners Marc Guggenheim, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg are keen to hold on to through next year and beyond (though the latter two will also be helming The Flash).

The first step in that direction was to introduce a villain worthy of the legacy that Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) and Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) had established in Arrow’s first two seasons. Guggenheim, Berlanti and Kreisberg certainly did that, teasing Ra’s al Ghul — name-checked frequently in Season 2 and perhaps best known to audiences as Liam Neeson’s villainous character in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins — at the conclusion of the Season 3 trailer. Whether Ra’s will immediately establish himself as the season’s big bad villain is unclear. Mention has been made of his bad blood with Oliver Queen’s nemesis Malcolm Merlyn, but it remains to be seen which of the two villains is a greater threat to Starling City. (Ra’s introduction also makes it likely we’ll see more of his daughter, Nyssa, as well as the recently departed Sara Lance.)

A little closer to home, Stephen Amell, who plays Oliver, says much of his focus for this season will be figuring out whether Oliver is able to balance his job as The Arrow with his life as Oliver. That’s been a struggle since the show’s first episode, but Oliver has yet to be put in a position where he really must choose between the two. Even if that moment doesn’t arrive in Season 3, it’s clear that the producers intend it to be a constant struggle at the forefront of the audience’s minds.

Oliver’s sister, Thea (Willa Holland), will also face some hurdles of her own. When we last saw her, she was riding off in a limo with Malcolm, her biological father, and appeared none too eager to return to Starling City in the immediate future. Of course she’ll have to come back eventually, because that’s how things work, but Holland indicated there would be some changes apparent in the youngest Queen upon her return: “The Thea that you guys saw in Season 1 and Season 2 is not the girl coming back in Season 3.”

Also arriving in Starling City this season is The Atom, played by Brandon Routh, who many will recognize as Superman from Bryan Singer’s 2006 version. Though his alter ego, Ray Palmer, will be a bidder for Queen Consolidated, it’s not yet apparent how The Atom will factor into the season’s developments.

A few other moments of note from the trailer: Roy (Colton Haynes) has a cool new outfit and seems to be doing just fine without the mirakuru; Oliver doesn’t seem to want Diggle (David Ramsey) in the field anymore for some as-yet-revealed reason; and Oliver will be taking Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) on a date (spoiler alert from Amell: it goes “horribly.”)

Perhaps most intriguingly, producers also revealed that this season will feature a double-crossover episode between Arrow and The Flash (the former airs Wednesdays, the latter Tuesdays), and that Oliver will appear in The Flash pilot.

Arrow returns on Oct. 8 on the CW.

TIME movies

Christopher Walken Joins Disney’s New The Jungle Book

Christopher Walken leaves the "Late Show with David Letterman" at Ed Sullivan Theater on June 11, 2014 in New York City.
Christopher Walken leaves the "Late Show with David Letterman" at Ed Sullivan Theater on June 11, 2014 in New York City. Donna Ward—Getty Images

Giancarlo Esposito from Breaking Bad will also lend his voice

Oscar winner Christopher Walken is giving Disney’s The Jungle Book the bare necessities–his voice.

The actor has signed to work on the upcoming feature film, alongside Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba and Ben Kinglsey, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Giancarlo Esposito, better known as Gus from Breaking Bad, has also joined the cast. Walken will play ape leader King Louie while Esposito will play Akela the wolf.

The film, directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Chef), is a mixture of CGI and live-action footage. Only 10-year-old Neel Sethi will appear on-screen, starring as the young boy Mowgli.

The film, which swings into theaters on Oct. 9 next year, is one of two adaptations of the Rudyard Kipling stories in the works — a live-action version from Warner Bros. directed by Andy Serkis, aka Gollum from Lord of the Rings, is also on the way.

[THR]

TIME Media

The Sarah Palin Channel: $99.95 a Year, Comes With Salad

In her latest media-politics endeavor, the former governor seeks to escape the "filters," this time between her and her fans' credit cards.

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In the welcome video to the Sarah Palin Channel, the former governor of Alaska explains her motivation for starting a personal subscription network: “We’ll go beyond the soundbites and the media’s politically correct filter to get to the truth.”

Over her six years in the national spotlight, Sarah Palin has not exactly lacked for media platforms, filtered or unfiltered. She’s had a reality show on TLC and one currently on Sportsman Channel. She’s been a paid contributor to Fox News. And should even Fox prove too much filter for her truth, she’s had no problem taking her message direct, on Twitter, on Facebook and in videos. For Palin to have less-filtered access to the consciousness of her followers, she would have to possess their very souls.

But the most notable distinction about this brand-new platform, so far, is that it allows the former governor to get a message out to the public without the traditional, mainstream filter between her and your wallet. A subscription to SarahPalinChannel.com is $9.95 a month, or $99.95 a year (with a two-week free trial period). That’s 96 cents more a month than a Netflix streaming subscription. It’s 95 cents more a year than an annual subscription to Amazon Prime, which also offers music, streaming TV and movies, Kindle benefits, and free shipping. Not here; if you’ve been mail-ordering your smoked salmon from Alaska (there’s no online store at the SPC site), you will still have to pay full freight.

So politics aside, it’s fair to ask what the value proposition is for a subscription to Sarah Palin Channel. At this early point–the channel launched Sunday and began collecting paid subscriptions at startup–much of SPC’s front-page offerings are repurposed and available in some form free elsewhere.

There’s the seven-minute video calling for President Obama’s impeachment from earlier in the month; various speeches, like her July 19 talk to the Western Conservative Summit, that are on YouTube; reproductions of conservative meme images; a link to her daughter Bristol’s blog at the religious site Patheos.com. There’s a national debt counter and a countdown clock to the end of the Obama administration. Getting a place of prominence is “Sally’s Word of the Day,” a feature “brought to you by my Scrabble-obsessed Mom and her friends.” (The inaugural word: “Rectitude”–”the quality of being honest and morally correct”–which reproduces the Merriam-Webster definition verbatim.)

But wait! There’s more! The marquee original content thus far is a collection of short videos in which–as she’s been doing via Facebook–Palin weighs in on current events hitting longtime talking points. The trouble in Ukraine, for instance, is evidence that we need to “unlock” our natural energy resources, or Drill, Baby, Drill. Another publicizes her book from last year re-fighting the “war on Christmas.” In others, she answers questions from supporters, such as, “How many things can you name that Obama has failed at?”

Many of SPC’s short videos recall Palin’s hits for Fox News, placing her in a home-office setting backed symbolically by a carven eagle, a flag and a globe, speaking in a single take, YouTube-style; others have her speaking at an angle to the camera, as if addressing an unseen interviewer. The tone is on-brand: the folksy, familiar speech (after last year’s Phil Robertson controversy, she tells fans, “You guys rose up and said, ‘Oh my gosh, enough is enough!’”), her knack for digs that will rouse fans and aggravate detractors (Obama is “addicted to OPM”–say it out loud–”other people’s money”), the Alaskan-mountain imagery on the homepage.

Beyond that, what SPC is trying to sell is community and connection. The site’s videos are shareable on social media–so depending on your friends-and-family list, you’ll be seeing them free on Facebook soon enough–but you can only see or post comments if you subscribe. The idea, an FAQ says, is that “the community would feel more secure”–secure enough, for instance, for one commenter to post on the Putin video that “Like most people who have been paying attention, I would trade our little Kenyan collectivist for Vladimir Putin any day.”

For my money, though–or rather, what will be my money if I keep my subscription beyond the free trial–the channel is most effective, like many of Palin’s past media efforts, when it takes her out of the talking-head chair, especially in a series of odd, often fascinating “Behind the Scenes” videos. In one, Palin, wearing a vest and an Oscar the Grouch T-shirt, shows off a painting in her home office of a tableau of Republican presidents–Ike, Reagan, both Bushes, Lincoln, Nixon–laughing around a pool table. In a little inset photo, she’s holding her son Trig at a Tea Party rally, where she says her appearance was misinterpreted by the media. “At that time, I didn’t have so much of a platform or a microphone to counter some of the falsehoods and goofy, stupid things that some of the news channels say and do,” she says. “But now I do!”

Thanks to you, subscriber! Really, you could make a good case that the biggest feature SPC offers subscribers for $99.95 a year is the ability to give Sarah Palin $99.95 a year–that is, to feel empowered, to feel like part of a movement, to defy the politically correct media that don’t respect you, to stick it to “the powers that be” by standing up for liberty and Christmas.

Whether Palin has any future in politics or SPC is one of the last efforts to monetize the brand that John McCain launched by naming her his running mate in 2008, Palin demonstrably still has that ability to home in on exposed nerves, to appeal to a sense of cultural besiegement and grievance, to make the personal archly, needlingly political.

Just look, for instance, at her video, “An Alaskan Garden and the Lessons for D.C.,” which promises “a behind-the-scenes look at the Governor’s kitchen garden.” For over six minutes, Palin stands in her kitchen, tearing up lettuce for her salad–bought at the store, she says, not grown in her yard–and talks about the abundance of sunlight in the Land of the Midnight Sun, and the richness of Alaska’s resources in general, and what it all says about what this country would be if those liberal bureaucrats would just get out of our darn way: “The sun and our volcanic soil that makes this area so rich, so rich in resources, this soil, our oil and our gold and all that God’s created for man’s use, the minerals, the fisheries, the resources in the state can help secure the union. And once the Feds figure that out and allow us to unlock the lands in Alaska and responsibly develop them? Well, our country will be more secure.”

Just one thing, though: you never do get that look at Palin’s kitchen garden. You just see her step away from her salad for a second and look at some unseen spot beyond her kitchen window. But pony up just $9.95 a month, or $99.95 a year, and who knows? Maybe someday, all will be revealed.

TIME Music

REVIEW: Tom Petty’s New Album Hypnotic Eye Stays Red, White and Blue

Hypnotic Eye
Warner Bros.

The veteran's latest critiques modern America while embracing the heartland rock of their early years

This post is in partnership with NME.

For almost 40 years, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers have been channeling the red blood and blue collars of the USA into their radio rock. Yet Petty has rarely come across more overtly American than on this, his 13th studio album. Through the gritty rumble of opener “American Dream Plan B,” the honky-tonk blues of “Burnt Out Town” and the vigorous “Full Grown Boy” and “Shadow People” especially, these 11 songs see Petty harness the grand ol’ USA more than ever before. It’s not patriotic, though. Rather, this album critiques modern America while embracing the heartland rock of Petty’s early years. It won’t convert the unconvinced, but Petty sounds as inspired as ever.

More from NME: Sex Pistols bassist reveals he hasn’t spoken to John Lydon in five years

More from NME: 26 Huge Autumn Tours To Get Excited About

TIME movies

An Open Letter to John Cusack About the Hot Tub Time Machine Sequel

Where have you gone, John? Or should I ask, when have you gone?

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Dear John,

Can I call you John? You seem like the sort of fellow who wouldn’t mind taking things casually right from the get-go. I’ll bet you even ask assistants and bellhops who call you “Mr. Cusack” to call you “John” instead. Make ‘em feel real comfortable, like you’re a swell guy who they could grab a beer with if you both had the time. Anyhow, that’s not why I’m writing this letter. I’m writing this letter because I just saw the trailer for Hot Tub Time Machine 2, and I’d be lying if I said i weren’t insanely, unnecessarily excited. Four years of waiting, finally almost over.

But you know what I didn’t see in that trailer? You, John. I didn’t see you.

In case it’s not already apparent from the fact that I’m writing you this letter, I’m something of a fan of yours. Loved High Fidelity. Ditto Grosse Pointe Blank. And you know what else I’m not ashamed to admit? Enjoyed Serendipity far more than I probably had any right to, but I’m not making any apologies. If I’m being honest though, my favorite John Cusack film is probably Hot Tub Time Machine. Is it technically “the best” of your films? Maybe not, but it’s one of those movies that I can’t help but start watching if I catch even a glimpse of it on cable.

A couple years ago, I was in Iceland with friends and we’d stopped in at a pizza shop after a full day on the road. We were going to grab a quick slice and then check in at our inn so we could get some sleepy before another busy day. Then we noticed Hot Tub Time Machine was on the TV in the pizza joint, already about 20 minutes in. We stayed for the entire movie. All of us had seen it before.

The trailer for the sequel looks similarly appealing. Craig Robinson remains awesome. Rob Cordry presumably hasn’t stopped being hilarious. Clark Duke seems mostly the same, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Hell, even Chevy Chase came back for a second ride. Chevy Chase. Sticking. Around. Think about that for a second.

Anyway, as much as I enjoyed the trailer, the fact that you weren’t in it never stopped being at the front of my mind. It’s not that your character was one of the great all-time film characters, but he was the glue of that group — a very enjoyable group, but one that could veer towards excessively zany without a grounding force (that’s you!) to keep them centered. And yes, I do appreciate the irony of worrying about people being too bizarre in a movie about a time-traveling hot tub.

That’s the thing about the first movie though: the premise was so absurd that the movie itself didn’t have to try all that hard to be outrageous (and being set in the 80s didn’t hurt in upping the comedy quotient either). Without you around, the first film’s ideal balance can’t be replicated in the sequel. Perhaps it’ll end up being for the better, but it’s always risky messing with success.

I’m sure you’re busy (especially judging by your IMDb page), and I’m sure there were other factors as well, but if there’s any chance this letter finds you in a generous mood, feel free to fire up that old hot tub time machine, head back a couple years and put yourself in the sequel. I won’t tell anyone we had this chat (butterfly effect, apocalypse, incurring Adam Scott’s wrath, etc.).

Your friend,

Eric

TIME Television

#DontKillSeanBean Campaign Aims to Save Actor From Yet Another Onscreen Death

Will he survive his latest role in TNT's Legends?

Sean Bean is the actor who’s died a thousand deaths. From Lord of the Rings to Black Death to Game of Thrones, Sean Bean has been shot, drawn and quartered, beheaded, you name it. This FHM infographic counts 16 on-screen deaths for the actor, which has provoked a campaign to save the actor in his latest endeavor, TNT’s Legends.

“I’ve died a lot of different deaths. Maybe it’s the quality of my death people are fascinated by. I liked Lord of the Rings. Big death,” the actor told The Daily Telegraph. So when TNT producers launched a #DontKillSeanBean marketing campaign over the weekend at San Diego Comic-Con, the hashtag quickly went viral.

No word yet on whether Sean Bean will survive his latest role, but here’s a reel of all his deaths for your viewing pleasure:

TIME movies

Watch: J-Law Finally Shows Up in a Mockingjay Trailer

The trailer is finally available for those who didn't make it to Comic-Con

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After two teasers featuring the ever-creepy President Snow, the upcoming Hunger Games installment Mockingjay Part 1 has finally given fans a glimpse of Katniss Everdeen.

The latest teaser trailer for the hotly anticipated movie, dubbed “Our Leader the Mockingjay,” deviates from the PSA format of the previous two to show a more typical cut of scenes from the actual movie, culminating in what appears to be Katniss’ arrival in District 13. That comes complete with Plutarch and Gale, plus new cast members Julianne Moore as President Coin and Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones‘ Margaery) as Cressida.

Prior to showing up online, the trailer debuted on Friday for audiences willing to wait in line at Comic-Con in San Diego.

The movie comes out Nov. 21, 2014.

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