New trailers: Studio Ghibli’s first TV series, a mysterious new sci-fi film, and more

Sometime last year, my girlfriend told me she’d watched Carol while on a flight. It was mostly a great movie, she’d said, but she couldn’t understand why, in a movie about a woman becoming comfortable with her interest in another woman, it would be so prudish about showing actual intimacy. It almost felt offensive.

It turned out, she was right. A few months later, it came out that Delta, the airline she was on, was censoring Carol, cutting out pretty much all of the physical intimacy in the film.

I’d been wanting to see Carol anyway, so she rewatched it with me recently — and including those scenes makes for a noticeably different tone. The oddest part of all of this was the strange feeling that we could be lied to so easily, that with the snip of a few seconds of footage here and there, Delta could so significantly change the message of a well-crafted story.

Check out 13 trailers from this week below.

Cars 3

Cars is far from Pixar’s most acclaimed series, but kids seem to love it — so it’s back for another go. From the looks of it, this one takes on a pretty traditional sports tale, coming back after an injury, and applies it to the racing world, insofar as cars are living/breathing creatures in this movie and need to recover. Alongside the injury, modern technology is also a threat. The metaphors are kind of jumbled, but hey, it’s Cars. It’ll be out June 16th.

Manifesto

I feel like Cate Blanchett often gets stuck playing the same type of roles, so it’s fantastic to see what’s happening in Manifesto: Blanchett is taking over pretty much the entire movie, playing 13 roles throughout that all look exceptionally different. The film heads to Sundance later this month, so it’ll likely hit general theaters within about a year’s time.

Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter

Amazon is bringing Studio Ghibli’s first ever TV series to the US. The show looks like it taps into the same sense of wonder and adventure that every Ghibli story does, and while its computer animation isn’t quite as stunning, it’ll be hard to complain so long as it feels as magical as Ghibli stories so often do. It’ll all come out on January 27th.

?????

A24, the studio behind Ex Machina and Under the Skin, put out this mysterious trailer for a new sci-fi film this week. There are basically no details. A24 isn’t even giving the movie’s name yet (unless its name is Untitled, but… probably not?). Anyway, it seems cool, and I really like the editing in the trailer, especially when a falling tear is used to transition the on-screen text. As you might have guessed, there’s no hint as to when it’ll be out.

XX

This is very cool: XX is an anthology of four short horror films, all directed by women. It’s getting a lot of attention for including the directorial debut of Annie Clark — who you may know better as the musician St. Vincent — but there’s also one really big filmmaking name too: Karyn Kusama, who was behind last year’s very-well-received The Invitation.

Sleight

Sleight is sort of like super-low-budget Iron Man, if Tony Stark were just a kid trying to make some neat gadgets to impress his friends. The film is about using those powers for magic and then to get out of a load of trouble. It got some good reviews at Sundance last year, and now it’s headed to theaters on April 7th.

iBoy

It’s another week, so of course there’s another surprise Netflix trailer. While I strongly dislike iBoy‘s name, it has a sci-fi premise that could be a lot of fun — plus Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams is in it. The movie is basically about a kid who gets super powers that make him like Neo inside the Matrix, but all within the real world. It’s out January 27th.

Guerrilla

John Ridley, the writer behind the film 12 Years a Slave, is the executive producer, writer, and in some cases the director behind Guerrilla, a six-episode miniseries coming to Showtime. The series is about a couple pushing back against the UK government’s attempts to stop black activism in the 1970s. Idris Elba costars. It starts airing April 16th.

Their Finest

Lone Scherfig, the director behind An Education, is back with a World War II era movie that looks like it has the same mixture of style and attitude that she’s known for bringing to the screen. It’s a movie about movies, but it’s also about women taking on a bigger role in the film industry during World War II and men’s predictably poor response. It’ll be out March 24th in the US and April 21st in the UK.

My Life as a Zucchini

This is Switzerland’s entry for best foreign film at the Oscars this year, and it looks absolutely adorable, with colorful stop-motion animation like you rarely see anymore. This trailer is in the film’s original language, but an English dub — with Ellen Page, Amy Sedaris, Will Forte, and Nick Offerman voicing — will be opening right alongside it when the film hits the US. It starts to roll out February 24th.

Dark Night

I’m really not sure how to feel about this. Though this film doesn’t name any names, Dark Night is basically a fictionalization of the events surrounding the 2012 Aurora, Colorado theater shooting. This trailer makes the film look truly scary, but without seeing the full movie, I’m left very uncertain about whether it handles the subject matter in an appropriate way… or if there even is an appropriate way to fictionalize this at all. Reviews at last year’s Sundance were mixed. It’s out February 3rd.

Genius

National Geographic made a TV series about Albert Einstein that, from this trailer, seems to be filled with a lot of bad accents and dramatic dialog but a lot of good intentions when it comes to presenting the man, his life, and the incredible work he did to advance our knowledge of psychics. There doesn’t appear to be a release date just yet.

Raw

This is the best-looking trailer for a movie about cannibals that I’ve seen since at least last week.

Watch SpaceX launch its first Falcon 9 rocket after September’s launchpad explosion

Today, SpaceX is hoping to get back to launching — and landing — its rockets again, a little over four months after one of its Falcon 9 vehicles exploded on a Florida launchpad. The company’s vehicle is slated to take off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 12:54PM ET, carrying 10 satellites into orbit for the communications company Iridium. And as is the norm with Falcon 9 launches these days, SpaceX will attempt to land the majority of the rocket upright on one of its drone ships in the Pacific Ocean following takeoff. But most of all, the launch itself needs to go smoothly if SpaceX wants to move forward and accomplish its many goals that lie ahead.

It’ll be the first flight that SpaceX has attempted since August, since the company was forced to go on a hiatus from spaceflight after the September launchpad explosion in Cape Canaveral. The vehicle was being loaded with propellant in preparation for a static fire test — a routine procedure that SpaceX does prior to flight, in which the rocket engines are turned on while the vehicle is constrained. During this fueling process, the vehicle suddenly went up in a spectacular fireball, destroying the Falcon 9 and the Israeli Amos-6 satellite that it was supposed to carry into space just a few days later.

SpaceX has spent its time grounded trying to decipher what happened, finally coming up with an official cause for the explosion two weeks ago. The source of the failure originated within the rocket’s upper liquid oxygen tank, which stores the vehicle’s super chilled liquid oxygen propellant. Also housed inside this tank are three smaller tanks called composite overwrapped pressure vessels, or COPVS. These vessels store cryogenic helium, which is needed to fill up and pressurize the liquid oxygen tank when the propellant is used up during flight. SpaceX determined that the materials making up the COPVs had a bad reaction with the liquid oxygen in the tank, ultimately causing the propellant to ignite.

With the official cause decided, SpaceX originally said it was aiming to return to flight on January 8th, but the launch was ultimately delayed until today due to rain and heavy winds this past week. The company conducted a static fire test of the Falcon 9 vehicle January 5th in preparation for the flight, and the company finally received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to launch and land its Falcon 9 vehicle for the upcoming mission. In fact, the FAA launch license gives SpaceX permission to launch the next seven rockets for the Iridium NEXT mission — an endeavor that will put 70 satellites into orbit for Iridium.

“The FAA accepted the investigation report on the AMOS-6 mishap and has closed the investigation,” the FAA said in a statement. “SpaceX applied for a license to launch the Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The FAA has granted a license for that purpose.”

The pressure is on for today’s launch, since SpaceX’s launch delays have had some important consequences. The company had to push back all of its launches last year, including the first flight of its Falcon Heavy — a larger heavy-lift vehicle that is essentially three Falcon 9 cores strapped together. SpaceX had also been planning to relaunch one of its landed rockets for the first time before the end of last year, a big milestone in its quest for reusability; that too had to be put on pause. The launch hiatus was also partially responsible for pushing one of SpaceX’s customers, Inmarsat, to book a different rocket for one of its spacecraft. Plus, an exclusive report from TheWall Street Journal reveals that SpaceX experienced a $260 million annual loss following its previous rocket explosion in 2015, as well as a 6 percent loss in revenue. So the health of the business may also be a concern following last year’s launchpad accident.

A successful launch today will be crucial for a company that has some very ambitious plans for the future. SpaceX is claiming the Falcon Heavy will finally fly this year. And with that launch, rumor is the company will attempt to land all three rocket cores after takeoff. Additionally, SpaceX has its obligations to NASA to worry about. The company has a contract to periodically send cargo to the International Space Station, and SpaceX vehicles are supposed to start sending people to the orbiting lab in 2018.

Meanwhile, SpaceX is also forging ahead — albeit slowly — with its plans to start a colony on Mars some day. Last year, CEO Elon Musk detailed the designs for the company’s future Mars colonization vehicles, and SpaceX has said that it plans to start sending spacecraft to Mars in 2018.

A rendering of the future Falcon Heavy.
SpaceX

With such a busy manifest, the next few years could prove to be pretty wild for SpaceX. While one of the company’s launchpads at the Cape was badly damaged during the September accident, SpaceX has the option to continue launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base, as well as a newly renovated pad at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. Those two sites will allow SpaceX to get back to its launch schedule, which includes another satellite launch later this month and a cargo resupply mission for NASA tentatively scheduled for early February.

But first, it needs to make sure today’s satellite launch goes smoothly. Up until now, weather hasn’t been that cooperative, and the mission has to deal with an instantaneous launch window. The Iridium satellites need to get into a very particular polar orbit — a path around Earth that runs from pole to pole — so there’s very little flexibility for when the Falcon 9 can get off the ground. That means there’s only one shot today to get it right.

Star Wars will not digitally recreate Carrie Fisher for future movies

Tonight Lucasfilm took to the Star Wars website to make it very clear that the company will not be using digital effects to recreate Carrie Fisher in future entries of the franchise.

“We don’t normally respond to fan or press speculation, but there is a rumor circulating that we would like to address,” the statement reads. “We want to assure our fans that Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa.”

“Carrie Fisher was, is, and always will be a part of the Lucasfilm family. She was our princess, our general, and more importantly, our friend. We are still hurting from her loss. We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honor everything she gave to Star Wars.”

The rumor in question began circulating last week, when The Hollywood Reporter ran a story indicating that Lucasfilm was considering several different options in the wake of Fisher’s death last month at the age of 60. One was using computer-generated effects to create new scenes for General Organa, who was reportedly set to have a significant role in Star Wars Episode IX. (Fisher had already shot all of her scenes for Rian Johnson’s upcoming Episode VIII.) Earlier this week, BBC Newsnight reported that Disney was already in discussions with Fisher’s estate about the use of her likeness in subsequent films, but today’s announcement is clearly intended to put a stop to any discussion of a CG version of the actor.

Recreating actors with digital techniques has been used going back to Brandon Lee’s performance in The Crow, but that was primarily piecing together existing footage and using it in different contexts. In Rogue One, however, Industrial Light & Magic was able to recreate Peter Cushing and a 19-year-old Fisher with a combination of stand-in performers and digital artistry. But just because something can be pulled off technologically does not mean that it should, particularly when it comes to the moral and ethical concerns inherent in digitally resurrecting a beloved actor. In this particular case, it seems clear that Star Wars will be showing Carrie Fisher the respect she deserves.

The most promising headphones from CES

Headphones at the Consumer Electronics Show this year were a subdued affair. No huge and dramatic launches; no nervous energy about the impact of a future iPhone without a headphone jack, as there was in 2016. It seems like everyone is still busy working on new wireless models that aren’t quite ready for launch this early in the year. But that’s left a lot of room at CES for headphones to distinguish themselves along the classic lines of awesome sound and excellent comfort. Here are my top three picks from among the many headphones I listened to during the big show in Las Vegas.

Klipsch Heritage HP-3

Klipsch Heritage HP-3Klipsch Heritage HP-3
Klipsch Heritage HP-3
Vlad Savov

These large, semi-open back cans made their debut at CES in prototype form. As far as I’m concerned, Klipsch needs to change absolutely nothing about the prototype and just put the HP-3s out on the market. The lightness of these headphones belies their size, and I found them effortless to wear. Made out of real oak, machined metal, and featuring pillowy-soft memory foam pads, the HP-3s are a tactile delight, and my brief listening session suggested they sound as high-end as they look.

The Heritage HP-3s will be Klipsch’s flagship model for the foreseeable future, and at $999, they extend significantly beyond the company’s usual line of consumer-class in-ear and on-ear cans. The Heritage branding is applied to some of Klipsch’s best speakers, and the American company hopes to expand that lineage into personal audio as well. Full disclosure: though I’ve never met him, Klipsch’s headphone designer is also called Vlad, which may be positively prejudicing my judgment of these headphones.

Blue Ella

Blue EllaBlue Ella
Blue Ella
Blue Microphones

Ask any podcaster about Blue microphones and you’ll be regaled with happy tales about the quality of the company’s recording gear. But Blue has been growing increasingly serious about making inroads in the headphone business as well, and at CES it introduced three new models to its range. The $700 Ella is the obvious flagship among them, offering the unique combination of planar magnetic technology and a built-in amplifier.

I listened to a pair of Ellas at Blue’s CES booth and I loved the dynamism and impact of their sound. I was also super impressed by the redesigned self-adjusting headband. Having previously tested the Blue Mo-Fi, the original headphone from this company, I found the earlier iteration of this headband to be over-engineered and ultimately not a great solution for distributing the headphones’ weight. But this new one feels like it’s solved all the problems and delivers a secure and comfortable fit. Preorders for the Ella open this month, and I’ll be sure to review them as soon as possible to verify my positive first impressions of their improved sound and comfort.

Audio-Technica DSR9BT

Audio-Technica DSR9BT
James Bareham

You had to know that a Japanese company would win the prize for the most boring — and yet difficult to remember — product title at CES. Audio-Technica’s new flagship wireless headphones, the DSR9BT, are actually very interesting, owing to their Pure Digital Drive system that removes the need for a traditional digital-to-analog converter inside the headphones themselves. What that means in practical terms is a simpler, lighter construction and a more efficient use of battery power.

My time with the DSR9BT was the briefest from among the trio of headphones on this list, but it was sufficient for me to obtain a positive impression of their sound. I’d grown intimately familiar with Björk’s discography on my flight over from London, and when I played the opening track of Homogenic with these headphones, I instantly recognized their wide soundstage and crisp, detailed presentation. It was an experience I wanted more of. While the DSR9BTs are indeed very light, I was less thrilled about the quality of their materials, which felt less refined than, for example, the construction of Blue’s headphones.

At $549, Audio-Technica’s new wireless headphones are very much at the top end of their market, but they might just be able to justify that with the quality of their sound. They’ll be going up against the wireless Bowers & Wilkins P7 and the newly introduced Beoplay H9, both of which are better built and more stylish, but also have a distinctly warm, bass-rich sound. For those yearning for more high-fidelity precision from their Bluetooth cans, Audio-Technica’s DSR9BTs present an intriguing proposition.

I’m conscious that each of these pairs of headphones costs plenty of money to acquire. But I also think that headphones, like mechanical watches, shouldn’t be judged on the same value matrix as other personal electronics. If you find a pair perfectly suited to your tastes and needs, it could easily last you a decade or longer, and so I feel it’s fair to invest a little more in them.

Astronauts are spacewalking again to upgrade the space station’s power system

It’s time for round two of NASA’s project to upgrade the International Space Station’s power system. NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency will step outside the orbiting lab this morning and install new lithium-ion batteries to the outside of the ISS, replacing the station’s previous nickel-hydrogen batteries.

It’s the second spacewalk for NASA this month, and it’s meant to finish up the work started on the first spacewalk conducted last week. For that one, Kimbrough and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson hooked up the new batteries on channel 3A — one of the station’s eight power channels. Today, Kimbrough and Thomas will do the same for channel 1A.

In preparation for this month’s spacewalks, six lithium-ion batteries and six adaptor plates were sent up to the station in December on a Japanese HTV cargo craft. Each power channel on the station has three strings of batteries, with each string containing two pairs of nickel-hydrogen batteries. And each battery pair has to be switched out with one lithium-ion battery and an adapter plate.

Just like last week’s spacewalk, the astronauts have had some preliminary help from those on the ground. Robotics teams in Houston used the Canadian robotic arm on the station and a dexterous bot, aptly named Dextre, to relocate the new and old batteries into the right positions to make today’s installation run more smoothly. Kimbrough and Pesquet just need to install the last few adapter plates and hook up the lithium-ion batteries with data-link cables.

Of course, many channels will still be left with the old nickel-hydrogen batteries after the spacewalk, so the entire power upgrade for the ISS won’t be done for a while. NASA needs to send up more lithium-ion batteries before the remaining channels can be updated, and those “shipments” are supposed to happen over the next few years.

Today’s spacewalk gets underway around 7AM ET, when Kimbrough and Pesquet leave the station, and is planned to last the standard 6.5 hours for a NASA spacewalk. Check out the space agency’s coverage of the event above.

Amazon is launching its own $5-a-month anime streaming service

Amazon is launching a new on-demand video service dedicated to anime. A subscription to the newly-unveiled Anime Strike will cost you $4.99 a month, and grants access to more than 1,000 anime titles aimed at older viewers. Anime Strike’s library includes series like Scum Wish and Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga (broadcast on the same day they air in Japan) as well as classic films like Akira and Paprika, and exclusives content such as Onihei and The Great Passage.

The new service is part of Amazon Channels — a selection of standalone streaming services that the company launched in December 2015. Anime Strike joins about 100 other channels, including over-the-top services like HBO, Starz, and Showtime, and online-only options like Seeso and Tastemade.

Amazon’s Anime Strike

One notable omission in Amazon Channels, though, was online anime streaming service Crunchyroll, which is owned by AT&T-Chernin Group’s Otter Media and has more than 750,000 paid subscribers. Anime Strike looks like it’s intended to plug that gap in Amazon Channels, although it doesn’t offer the content for younger viewers and non-anime series that Crunchyroll includes.

You’ll need to be a n Amazon Prime subscriber in the US to sign up to Anime Strike, but you can try a 7-day free trial before you start paying. According to Variety this is only the first curated subscription channel that Amazon is going to be offering, with more to come in the following months.

How to preorder the Nintendo Switch right now

Nintendo finally revealed all the important details about its new Switch console today, and preorders for the device are already live. If you’d like to get your hands on the $299.99 console when it launches on March 3rd, you can head over to Walmart or Best Buy to place an order. The Switch comes in two variations right now. One is a standard grey model, and the other is a “neon” version with blue and red Joy-Con controllers. The company is also conducting a limited preorder run at its Nintendo World location in New York City, but online orders are probably a safer bet at this point.

As for launch games, Amazon has listings up for high-profile titles like Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odysseyboth of which launch later this year. Only the Wii U version of the launch title The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is available for preorder now from the online retailer. Amazon’s product page for the title, which is supposed to have a simultaneous Switch and Wii U release on March 3rd, says it won’t be released until March 31st. So there’s some inconsistencies here, as to be expected the chaotic aftermath of such a colossal news dump.

Hopefully over the next day or the next few days, these confusing launch windows and availability hiccups are ironed out and it becomes easier to figure out when and how to get our hands on launch titles and forthcoming games. For now, however, Best Buy and Walmart are the best ways to ensure you get a Nintendo Switch console on or around launch day. Depending on when you try and place a preorder, you may have to do in-store pickup to try and snag a device on launch day, as shipping times may have been pushed back from when the initial product pages went live.

– Source: Walmart
– Source: Best Buy

Nintendo announces Switch specs: 720p screen, 32GB of storage, and more

In addition to the wealth of news surrounding the Switch that Nintendo announced at its Tokyo event tonight, we finally got some concrete details on the hardware specifications of Nintendo’s latest console.

The Nintendo Switch device offers a 6.2-inch, 720p multitouch display that runs at a 1280 x 720 resolution when used in a handheld mode. When docked, the Switch is capable of outputting full 1080p visuals through an HDMI connection to an attached TV. Nintendo says that the Switch runs off a custom Nvidia Tegra processor, but hasn’t released more specific details.

Storage-wise, the Switch includes 32GB of onboard memory, which feels dramatically low in today’s age of 500GB and 1TB Xbox Ones and PS4s, especially with the modern focus on downloadable titles. However, storage can be expanded through the use of microSD cards. Games for the Switch will come on physical GameCards, which may help alleviate the console’s onboard storage space by offloading most of the storage requirements for each game to the individual GameCards.

Nintendo SwitchNintendo Switch

Nintendo is advertising between 2.5 and 6 hours of battery life for the Switch, depending on the graphical demands of the games being played. It’s hard to know exactly how that will translate on a game-by-game basis, but for reference, the company estimates around three hours of battery life while playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But unlike other portable Nintendo consoles, the Switch uses a standard USB-C connection, making it easy to recharge on the go.

Lastly, the Switch can connect to the internet through an 802.11ac Wi-Fi connection, with the ability to connect to up to eight Switch consoles at once for local multiplayer. Additionally, the Switch will be able to connect using ethernet using a USB LAN adaptor with the dock.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has damn fine box art

Video game box art isn’t what it used to be, but every once in a while a game comes out in a package that makes you proud to have it on your shelf. The upcoming Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild — which is coming to both the Switch and Wii U on March 3rd — is one such game. The latest Hyrule adventure takes place in a gorgeous open-world that has a hint of Studio Ghibli to it, and that sense of style shows in the box art.

Just look at it:

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the WildThe Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The one image lets you know exactly what to expect: a vast, solemn world full of mystery and adventure, all of it just waiting to be explored.

Nintendo Switch: all of the news announced in Tokyo

At an hour-long event in Tokyo, Nintendo finally provided an in-depth look at its next piece of hardware, the Nintendo Switch. Not only did the company announce the Switch’s price and release date, but also showed off its unique new Joycon controllers, and revealed a number of games, including Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2. If you missed it all, here’s everything you need to know.