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'The Hobbit' Comic-Con panel is now online: The top 5 highlights

The Comic-Con panel for The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies went online today, making this Monday especially delightful for those unable to attend the madness in San Diego over the weekend. “Huzzah!” Tolkien fans everywhere shouted.

The panel saw numerous cast and crew—including Peter Jackson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett, Evangeline Lilly, Elijah Wood, and Andy Serkis—dole out trivia, make shocking confessions, and laugh with a costumed Stephen Colbert (seriously). Here are the highlights:

1. Stephen Colbert as moderator: Colbert is a J.R.R. Tolkien super-fan (see: the full Hobbit costume he wore during the panel). The late-night host admitted having reservations about Peter Jackson & Co. tackling The Lord of the Rings series, the original works in the franchise, but he ultimately loved the films. Still, he did find a flaw: “The only problem I saw was at a total of 11 1/2 hours, they were too damn short.” Throughout the panel, Colbert popped in and out, offering humorous commentary on the actors, the films, and most importantly, the narrative, which he is extremely knowledgable about, bringing us to…

2. Philippa Boyens admitting she lost a trivia contest to Colbert: Boyens, one of the writers of the series, knows her material backward and forward. Hell, she adapted the books. In a fateful trivia contest, however, she was no match for Colbert. Boyens recalled Colbert’s wife approaching her after the match, saying, “I think this is the greatest night of his life.” Colbert likened his Tolkien aptitude to being “an athlete who’s been training his entire life for a race he never knew was coming.” Jackson joked that Colbert isn’t a modest winner.

3. Peter Jackson updating fans on the Hobbit finale: Jackson began working on the first LOTR movie around 1995, meaning he’s dedicated about 20 years of his life to adapting Tolkien’s work for the screen. “It’s a commitment I’ve really enjoyed taking,” Jackson explained. That being said, the work isn’t over yet. To offer an update, the director said they’re still shooting, and are currently in the middle of filming the Battle of Five Armies. The film will hit theaters December 17.

4. Elijah Wood admitting he never read LOTR (again): Wood was met by boos from the crowd when he confessed, again, that he has never read the LOTR books. A shocked Colbert asked Wood if he knows how to read. In Wood’s defense, he had a pretty convincing explanation: “I read The Hobbit when I was a child and it was a big, big book for me. I had The Lord of the Rings on my shelf and it was one of those things that was very daunting and was kind of always there. I thought, ‘I’ll get to that one day,’ and then these movies came about. I felt like I was living it and experiencing it in such a profoundly deep way that I never really consulted the books. I imagine it’s something that I will go back to but it was such an experience over the course of such a long period of time.”

5. Andy Serkis discussing his process, progress: Serkis is one of the most versatile screen actors around, capable of manipulating technology to bring various forms to the screen. “As an actor, [technology] breaks down barriers,” Serkis explained. “Whatever you are, it doesn’t matter. You can play anything.” After playing Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, Serkis found the lead role as King Kong. “I thought my life was going to go back to normality to play normal films in a normal traditional way. The idea hit me overnight: ‘Hold on a minute: I’ve just played this three-and-a-half foot ring junkie. Now I’m going to play a 25-foot gorilla. This means typecasting is not more.'” Today, Serkis can be seen onscreen as Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, in theaters now. One more bonus: Serkis treated a delighted audience to his Gollum voice.

For the Tolkien-obsessed, check out the full panel here:

'Fifty Shades' star Jamie Dornan was a better ladykiller in 'The Fall'

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So, you like to watch a handsome, shirtless Jamie Dornan do the whole torture thing? Well, then, we’ve got the perfect drama for you—and it’s not Fifty Shades of Grey.

If you want to see Dornan gag women, tie them up, bathe them by candlelight, and cause them grievous bodily harm, you’re better off watching the first season of the BBC’s gripping thriller The Fall. (Catch up on Netflix before season two airs. The trailer premiered yesterday, just in time for 50 Shades madness.) The Fall is a suspenseful and scary thriller, and, unlike Fifty Shades, it’s honest about the slippery entertainment appeal of violence against women.

Dornan plays Paul Spector, a doting father and loving husband who also happens to be a really hot serial killer. Where the 50 Shades trailer makes sadism look aspirational—just let him hurt you, ladies, and you can have it all, the Nicholas Sparks romance, the fashion-mag clothes, and rides in fancy, phallus-shaped planes!—The Fall shows that glamorizing male sexual power over women can also be dangerous. “I was at pains from the start to make sure that there was nothing gratuitous or exploitative in the drama,” its creator, Alan Cubitt, told the Guardian last year. “Sexual killers eroticize violence, power and death, so it’s a challenging line to walk.”

Half of The Fall‘s story is told from Paul’s point of view (we’ll get to the other half in a second), and he’s definitely a voyeur. (His last name, Spector, even hints that he likes to watch.) So it’s necessary that there’s an element of voyeurism in the way the show frames his murders: The victims are young, beautiful, and often left naked on their beds. Their deaths are gorgeously shot, with romantic lighting and tasteful make-up. Paul even bathes his victims and paints their nails before he leaves them. But this isn’t the straight-forward S&M glamor that 50 Shades trades in. It’s all part of the drama’s plan to implicate its viewers in the same objectification of women that excites Paul. And that’s a fair thing to do: Viewers are tuning in to watch a show about a literal lady-killer, aren’t they? READ FULL STORY

Here's Benedict Cumberbatch with a penguin

We could tell you that Benedict Cumberbatch is making his first-ever Comic-Con appearance this week.

We could explain that he’s a voice talent in the upcoming film The Penguins of Madagascar, which comes out in November.

But none of that is actually necessary to appreciate the simplicity of this photo. It’s Benedict Cumberbatch with a penguin, and that’s pretty much everything you need to know.

We need to talk about the jeans: Dissecting the 'Fifty Shades' trailer

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Turning E. L. James’ bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey into a movie has been 50 shades of complicated, with issues ranging from trying to find the perfect Christian Grey—Matt Bomer? Charlie Hunnam?—to deciding what the film should be rated. But after a large amount of teasing (which would infuriate Christian), the first trailer for the highly anticipated film has finally arrived. Starring Dakota Johnson as Anastasia and Jamie Dornan as Christian, the trailer takes us into the couple’s first meeting, first kiss, and first, well, you know. So what do you say we dissect every inch of this trailer like we’re the dominant and it’s the submissive? (Too far?)

READ FULL STORY

Secrets behind J.J. Abrams' lens flare revealed (you'll be surprised)

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Have you ever noticed a subtle light glowing in one of J.J. Abrams’ films? Probably not. I mean, with Captain Kirk in the frame…

But Luke Knezevic has certainly paid attention to Abrams’ penchant for the technique, prompting him to make a comedy short revealing the truth behind the lens flare. Turns out that flash of light is actually an actor.

Meet Lorenzo Flarius, the Human Lens Flare. Abrams “discovered” Flarius after hitting him with his car. Feeling guilty, the director placed the wannabe actor—who essentially has a flashlight for a head—in his films. Like, all of his films. In multiple scenes. Flarius even refers to himself as “the hardest working man in show biz.”

Flarius’ roommate is less impressed by the actor. (“He’s just an overpaid human flashlight!”) Watch the drama ensue below, and find out which Abrams project Flarius will appear in next.

'The Bourne Supremacy' 10 years later: Does the action hold up?

There’s certainly no shortage of fights, explosions, and car chases to witness onscreen these days, but much of the action is, frankly, dull—the result of a tired series or a simple lack of creativity.

Just over a decade ago, however, the Bourne Identity set the action bar high. And since today is the tenth anniversary of the franchise’s second film, The Bourne Supremacy, we’re taking a look back at how the series got action right, how it has weathered the last 10 years, and what action films circa 2014 can learn from the trilogy.

Doug Liman, executive producer, and Dan Bradley, stunt coordinator and second unit director, both agree: The action in The Bourne Supremacy—and the trilogy as a whole—stands up because it’s character-driven. It’s in the vein of The French Connection’s signature car chase, featuring Gene Hackman’s Doyle pounding his fists as he attempts to catch up to a train he’s pursuing.

[Note: Liman directed and produced The Bourne Identity, and executive produced The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Bradley served as stunt coordinator and second unit director for The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, and The Bourne Legacy. For the purposes of this story, we are focusing on the three original Bourne films.]

“There’s so many action movies where the dialogue and the character scenes are just an excuse to get you to the next action scene,” Liman says. “The action scenes are the reason the film exists.” Liman recognizes this problem in many of this summer’s releases, believing that these films would be “unwatchable” if you took the action out of them. READ FULL STORY

'80s TV stars sing 'Let It Go'

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While listening to Frozen’s “Let It Go,” have you ever thought, “Patrick Stewart and/or a bunch of other ’80s TV stars would make this gem even better”? No? Well, video producer Jim Cliff went ahead and edited together clips from over 60 different ’80s television shows to make a new, Tom Selleck-filled version of “Let It Go” anyway—and yes, Stewart’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard even joins in on the chorus.

READ FULL STORY

Honest Trailer: 'Divergent' is just 'The Hunger Games' minus games

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Divergent and fellow young-adult series The Hunger Games have a few things in common—enough things to confuse Screen Junkies, creators of the always-amusing Honest Trailers, into thinking that Divergent actually is The Hunger Games.

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Listen: Kate Hudson shares her favorite 'Overboard' lines and so much more

Kate Hudson stopped by EW Radio’s “Bullseye” hour Tuesday to promote her new movie Wish I Was Here. Hosts Adam Markovitz, Tim Stack, and Tanner Stransky also got her chatting about so much more—dressing like a Game of Thrones Wildling last Halloween, why she gave up playing soccer, her mother Goldie Hawn’s best lines in Overboard, and her 10-year-old son Ryder’s friendship with Danny McBride. Listen to the full interview below. READ FULL STORY

Zach Galifianakis and Ted Danson bring The National doc to 'Broadway'

In Hollywood, when big celebrities discover a splendid little documentary, they’re sometimes tempted to adapt it into a big-budget feature film—which may destroy what they loved about that little doc in the first place. But Ted Danson and Zach Galiafanakis aren’t your typical power-mad narcissists. They fell in love with Mistaken for Strangers, the poignant music doc about slacker Tom Berninger and his brother, Matt, who happens to be the lead singer of The National. Rather than turn it into a film, the two former Bored to Death co-stars took that pure story to the only place it could truly be told: the stage.

In a new Funny or Die video, the perfectly-cast Galifianakis talks about his dream to come to Broadway—after playing Shrek off-Broadway. READ FULL STORY

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