How the LEGO Movie Was Built – Esquire

The new LEGO Movie (out Feb 7.) is actually, improbably, really great. There’s a twist at the end which falls kind of flat but the best parts – and the real DNA of the project – owe much to early stop motion classics like Jason and the Argonauts and the “Wait, really?” humour of Robot Chicken.

Much of that cred is owed to Chris McKay, the film’s Animation Supervisor, Co-Director, and Editor who previously came from, yes, Robot Chicken. I spoke to McKay for Esquire about how the movie was, literally, put together. As a guy who grew up with both LEGOs and Wallace and Gromit, this was a fun one. Also, writing about toys is kind of rad.

More here: How The LEGO Movie Was Built.

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Jon Chu Talks Justin Bieber, Living with a Pop Star for Esquire

i.1.justin-bieber-jon-chu-videoWelcome back from radio silence. There are a couple more stories up but please do take a look at my recent profile of Jon Chu, the director of Justin Bieber’s new movie, Believe. As a guy who grew up in California dreaming of being a film-maker, Chu got sucked into the Bieber’s world. That kind of shift changes the phone calls you get.

Chu’s directed a variety of movies (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Step Up 3D, etc.) but, really, what happens when half a million Belieber’s follow you on Twitter, and how do the people around the pop star deal with his aggressive afterglow? For the interview, I spoke with Scooter Braun, Nick DeMoura, and Bill O’Dowd to try and answer those questions at the same time that Bieber announced his early “retirement” from music.

Please do check it out here, “The Man Behind Justin Bieber,” and let me know what you think.

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Why We Love Big Fighting Robots – A Family Tree of “Pacific Rim”

pacific rimPacific Rim looks really cool, it also looks a little familiar. The newest film from Guillermo del Toro – he of Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy – is a big monster movie mashup of kaiju and mecha films. It also looks a lot like Power Rangers (this fact has not been lost on YouTube.)

It’s one in a surprisingly long line of series that feature lots of people piloting a big robot that saves the world. Why, exactly, are we so drawn to Pacific Rim‘s image of multi-pilot super-robots?

the big o

I had the good opportunity to write about the film and its ties to influential animes like Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Voltron, Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, Space Battleship Yamato>, and The Big O, and even older books like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

There’s a bit of history and a bit of pop psychology, but it basically comes down to:

Why do movies like Pacific Rim speak to us? First, they’re cool to look at. Second, they realize the universal, childish wish to be bigger. And third, they revel in our desire to break stuff without fear of being in trouble, or getting in trouble (i.e., with mom and dad).

Also, robots with cannons for arms. For arms.

Please check out the full story and click the hell out of it. I’d love to hear what you think.


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Why Your Superheroes Are Getting Gayer —

Gay Superheroes

Northstar’s Wedding, Astonishing X-Men #51

The extraordinarily good folks over at recently picked up my story on how the comic book industry at large has unexpectedly become one of the strongest advocates for gay rights and marriage equality. Batwoman’s a lesbian, Green Lantern’s gay, and it seems like everyone (even in the Archie universe) is getting married.

It’s a story that’s been on my mind for a while now, and seems to be ever more important with the rash of hate-related crimes happening in New York.

Major thanks to Marvel, DC, and Archie Comics for finding the time to talk, and to Esquire for rolling the dice. A snippet below, but please do read the whole thing right here:

From the neon spandex costumes to the over-muscled, over-breasted heroes in them, it’s hard not to look at a group of comic-book superheroes and think: “Shit, someone’s got to be gay.”

And in fact, more and more superheroes are literally coming out of the closet, turning the comic-book industry, however surprisingly, into one of strongest advocates for gay rights and marriage equality. In just this past year, there have been two same-sex marriages on the covers of different big-brand comic books and the introduction of the first transgender comic-book character.

Gay characters have been in comics for decades, but it’s been difficult to get someone like Spider-Man or Batman onboard. Now that’s starting to change.

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11 Unique Urban Farming Projects Featured at Texas A&M

urban farming

Merry Project

Unexpected. A story I wrote a while back on “The Future of Food: 11 Unique Urban Farming Projects” for Mashable was recently featured in a Texas A&M lecture on Global Food Supply and Its Implications. The section is part of the Academy for Future International Leaders which is definitely overstating the case.

Regardless, it was a fun story, and an honour to show up in the reading materials. Check out the full story on Mashable to hear about underground gardens in Japan, vertical farming in the US, social networks in the UK, and more.

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Oscar Watch: Daniel-Day Lewis and “Lincoln”

daniel-day lewis lincoln

It’s Oscar season, which means everyone is getting ready to watch Daniel-Day Lewis win an Oscar for Lincoln. I wrote a short little story for tracking Lewis’ career run at the awards show and it looks like he’s actually getting better with age. Also, he’s playing a founding father. So, sorry Bradley Cooper.

The story basically comes down to: “If you’re not Daniel-Day Lewis in a year when Daniel-Day Lewis has a film coming out, should you even bother?” Well, sometimes, just maybe not 2012. Read the whole story over at Details.

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YouTube Star BAKER’s 5 Million View Gamble


I wrote a story for MTV’s O Music Awards site on BAKER, an up-and-coming YouTube star. He, like a lot of young talent, is trying to figure out how to turn a ton of digital attention into real world success. Interesting guy, nice interview, cool picture. Give it a read over at MTV!

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