Angelina Jolie Initially Said No to Starring in Simon West’s Tomb Raider

Angelina Jolie is Lara Croft in Tomb Raider (2001)

Angelina Jolie is Lara Croft in Tomb Raider (2001)
Image: Paramount Pictures

Before Charlize Theron took the mantle as the queen of action cinema, that title belonged to Angelina Jolie, starting with the role of Lara Croft in Simon West’s Tomb Raider (2001).

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The film was the first time Jolie would do intense stuntwork. This fueled her worry about whether or not she was suitable for the part. She told Collier, “I said, ‘I really didn’t feel like that character suited me.’ I actually didn’t at first want to do it; I said no.”

To ease her mind, Tomb Raider director Simon West was patient with her and explained he would give her whatever training she needed. “They said you can travel the world and train with the British Military and so I had three months of seeing what I could do. And I would encourage anybody to do that. Sign up for as much as you can, give yourself a few months, push yourself to the limit and see, ‘What can I do?”

She threw herself into the training to make her action sequences look as realistic as possible. All the hard work paid off as she gave an iconic performance as the video game heroine.

In the interview, she also talks about finding a happy medium between VFX and stuntwork to maximize authenticity. “And I do think the more we have in film that’s visual effects, the more it’s important to do your own stunts if you can because I think the audience knows the difference and it feels real when it is.”

If you want to catch Jolie doing some hardcore stunts watch Tyler Sheridan’s Those Who Wish Me Dead on HBO Max!


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Mary Elizabeth Winstead Adds to Her Action Resume With Netflix’s Kate

Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Netflix’s Kate

Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Netflix’s Kate
Image: Netflix

Mary Elizabeth Winstead is looking to stake her claim in the action genre with her new role in Netflix’s assassin revenge thriller Kate, directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan (The Huntsman: Winter’s War) and written by Umar Aleem.

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Troyan told EW about a particular scene in Kate that made him super anxious. “The hardest one to shoot was the one with Mary and Miyavi inside the apartment,” says Troyan. “We couldn’t shoot that with stunt doubles, so they had to do it themselves. You had two actors that are doing very, very close-contact stunt work. We thought something bad could happen there. This one was definitely making me nervous.”

Looking at Winstead’s filmography, her career has been leading up to this point. She’s never shied away from the action genre. Starring Dan Trachtenberg’s 10 Cloverfield Lane elevated her to another level, but starring in Birds of Prey as Helena Bertinelli, aka The Huntress—sealed the deal. Winstead gives insight into who Kate is and what to expect from the film.

“Kate is a ruthless assassin who is on a job in Tokyo, and she gets poisoned,” Winstead tells EW. “She finds out she has 24 hours to live before the poison kills her, so she sets out on a mission to find out who poisoned her and kill them before she dies. Along the way, she forges this bond with this teenage girl named Ani (Miku Martineau), and they end up taking on this mission together. It’s a heartfelt, brutal, assassin story!”

Kate is releases globally on Netflix this fall, and hot damn, I am excited!


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A Porn Site Sold an NFT, so Of Course the Winner’s Username Is NSFW

A CamSoda model hosts the site’s auction of the CryptoPunk 7060 NFT, which can be seen on the screen.

A CamSoda model hosts the site’s auction of the CryptoPunk 7060 NFT, which can be seen on the screen.
Photo: CamSoda

Even porn sites are getting in on the craze around NFTs. Earlier this week, CamSoda held an online auction for a rare CryptoPunk 7060 NFT. Of course, given that we’re talking about a porn site, it’s no surprise that the winner’s username is NSFW.

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To participate in the auction, the website said that individuals would have to deposit $1 in cryptocurrency in their CamSoda account. In a press release, CamSoda said that the CryptoPunk 7060 NFT, more commonly known as a non-fungible token, sold for $200,000 at its auction on Thursday. The winner, user “mrpussyfucker23,” obviously came with way more than $1.

CryptoPunks are a funky bunch of NFTs that have captivated the internet and sold for millions. Created in 2017 by software company Larva Labs in New York, they were some of the first NFTs ever made. CryptoPunks consist of a collection of 10,000 pixel art images, each 24×24 made in 8-bit-style, that each represent a strange character. Not one punk is the same. All of them were generated by a software program and are identified by their unique number and attributes.

When Larva Labs founders Matt Hall and John Watkinson first developed the CryptoPunks, they gave away 9,000 for free and kept 1,000 for themselves, “just in case it becomes a thing,” according to Hall. Since Hall and Watkinson gave away or kept all the CryptoPunks, the only way get one is to buy it from someone who already has one.

There are 6,039 male punks and 3,840 female punks. As their name suggests, they’re punks, or misfits and non-conformists inspired by the London punk movement in the 1970s. If you want to get a better idea of the punks, you should know that 696 wear hot lipstick, 303 have muttonchops, 286 have 3D glasses, and 44 have beanies. Some punks, known as Genesis Punks, have no distinctive elements. Meanwhile, there’s one punk, CryptoPunk 8348, that has seven distinctive attributes: a big beard, buck teeth, a cigarette, an earring, a mole, classic shades, and a top hat.

The punk in the CamSoda auction, 7060, has three distinct features: 3D glasses, crazy hair, and a mole. It is one of 286 punks with 3D glasses, one of 414 punks with crazy hair, and one of 644 punks with a mole. CryptoPunk 7060 was originally purchased in early April for $83,404 in ether, CamSoda said.

While there’s no doubt the CryptoPunks are cool and funky, and that we all got a nice laugh after seeing who won CamSoda’s auction, it’s important to remember that crypto-art has a carbon pollution problem. Although crypto-art is a tiny part of global emissions, if left unaddressed, it will add even more strain on our poor planet.

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Legends of the Hidden Temple TV Reboot Aims to Capitalize on Nostalgia

Mayan Heads on set of Legends of Hidden Temple

Mayan Heads on set of Legends of Hidden Temple
Image: Nickelodeon

Many of you are too young to know what Nickelodeon’s Legends of the Hidden Temple is, but those who do should remember how it was the most lit kid show on television. The CW is looking to tap into that nostalgia by reviving the show, but this time for adults.

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The show was Nickelodeon staple from 1993-1995, and created by David G. Stanley, Scott A. Stone, and Stephen Brown. Legends of the Hidden Temple was a mix of inspirations, mainly from Indiana Jones. As contestants compete for treasures by completing tasks that require running through a set of fake Mayan Ruins and encounter temple guards to throw them off the challenge. Kirk Fogg was the show host, while the almighty Olmec, a giant Mayan head, is voiced by Dee Bradley Baker.

According to Variety, the logline for the show is as follows. “This time, the entire show is taken out of the safety of a studio setting into a “mysterious jungle” with tougher challenges and bigger prizes. Five teams begin the journey, but only one is “strong enough and smart enough” to enter the ominous Olmec’s Temple, avoid the Temple Guards, retrieve a lost treasure and return it to its rightful owner.”

They are also bringing back many aspects of the original like Olmec and task like temple run. All the original team names will be back as well.

For those of you unfamiliar with Legends of the Hidden Temple, watch this clip on youtube. I don’t know if the show has aged well because I haven’t watched it in a while, but I remember the show being great fun.


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All the Animals American Men Think They Can Beat in a Fight and Why They Can’t

Some old timey dude preparing to lose a fight to a kangaroo in London in 1931.

Some old timey dude preparing to lose a fight to a kangaroo in London in 1931.
Photo: Fox Photos/Hulton Archive (Getty Images)

According to a YouGov poll released on Friday, some humans have extremely poor judgment when it comes to determining which animals they could win a one-on-one, unarmed fight against. Namely, they think they can win those fights at all.

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For example, 6% of respondents believed they could beat a grizzly bear, 8% are confident of their ability to take on a gorilla or elephant, 14% are delusional about their ability to overpower a kangaroo, and 30% think they could best an eagle. Men, in particular, appear to dramatically overestimate what animals they could beat up, with a bigger percentage of American men than women saying they could beat every animal with the sole exception of a lion.

All of these people are wrong. The only correct answer is no. The human is a weak fleshy sack of TV dinners and incorrect trivia answers and without the coward’s advantage of a weapon will lose every time. Here’s why.

Grizzly Bear

Grizzly bears don’t want to fight you, because they mostly want to be left alone while they eat plants, berries, fish, insects, and carrion. The biggest ones, depending on the species, also weigh up to 1,700 pounds. You’re fucked.

Lion

A lion would pounce on you. Game over. If there is tall grass around you won’t even know how dead you are before it happened.

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Elephant

Elephants are the size of trucks if trucks had big horns on the front and four legs to stomp on you with when they’re done running you over. They can also hurl you around with their prehensile noses. Most importantly, they are much, much smarter than any unarmed human who would choose to fight an elephant.

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Gorilla

The gorilla is a gentle giant and would probably never choose to fight you. It could also rip off both your arms and beat you to death with them if you chose to fight it because male gorillas have an estimated strength of around six times that of a human and an arm span of 7.5 to 8.5 feet. Also, they have fangs.

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Crocodile

The crocodile would simply bite you with its giant mouth.

Wolf

Wolves have mouths full of very sharp teeth designed to keep their prey from pulling away from their bite. They are also capable of running 35 to 40 miles per hour in short bursts and have wicked-fast reflexes. The wolf wins, no exceptions.

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Kangaroo

Kangaroos should be far higher on this list. They have giant claws on their high legs that can easily disembowel a human and their kicks could potentially shatter bones. Pretty sure it could cold clock you in the face with its front legs too. The only way a kangaroo will not kick your ass is if it chooses not to for some reason.

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Chimpanzee

Chimpanzees can be extremely aggressive. Lead biologist Frans de Waal of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center told Scientific American their strength is “utterly incomprehensible” to a human, with males having arm strength up to five times that of a human as well as large canine teeth. They can also climb trees and stuff and then jump on you. They know how to use simple tools and are not going to respect the no-weapons terms of the fight. Chimpanzees invented war a long, long time before humans did and have been perfecting it ever since.

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King Cobra

Whether or not you manage to fight it off, you will still lose within about 15 minutes or so, because its bite is extremely venomous in large quantities.

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Large dog

See Cujo.

Eagle

The eagle can fly, meaning it can swoop down at your eyes and blind you with its razor-sharp claws. It will continue to have an impeccable sense of vision while doing so. Also, I assume its beak is very sharp.

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Medium-sized dog

This is the same level of danger as a large dog, except the dog would win a less impressive welterweight belt when it was finished with you.

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Goose

Do not underestimate a hostile goose. Just trust me on this.

House Cat

Uh, they’re tiny little jaguars that could kill you at any time, but simply choose not to because it’s easier to have you open the tin cans of food for them. Cats also know every one of your weaknesses and will ruthlessly exploit them. They kill two billion animals a year in Australia alone and you will be one of them.

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Rat

While rats may have been unfairly blamed for the Black Plague, I still wouldn’t take your chances.

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Open Channel: Let’s Celebrate This Guy’s 77th Birthday

Today is George Lucas’ birthday, seen here with Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner and some guy in a black suit.

Today is George Lucas’ birthday, seen here with Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner and some guy in a black suit.
Photo: Lucasfilm/StarWars.com

Seventy-seven years ago a man was born who would release a movie in 1977 that would change the face of the world. He’d do a few other things too. That man’s name is George Lucas. Today, May 14, is his birthday, and we’ve love you all to celebrate.

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It’s almost too difficult to list all of the ways Lucas has changed the world. Star Wars, of course, is the easiest one. Nothing you think of that has happened as a result of that franchise would have happened if he didn’t create it. So Boba Fett, Baby Yoda, Han Solo, lightsabers, Mandalorians, Hera Syndulla—while he didn’t create all of those things himself, all of them are still a result of his work.

Beyond the things in the Star Wars universe, think of everything that branches off from it in the real world. Because of Star Wars, Lucas changed filmmaking with the creation of Industrial Light and Magic, a company that has gone on to create some of the most memorable effects in film and television: Jurassic Park, Terminator 2, Harry Potter, Back to the Future, hundreds more, all thanks to Lucas.

Take it a step from there. ILM was where a team of graphic designers branched out, were acquired by Steve Jobs, and created a company called Pixar. Pixar exists because of Lucas. Beyond even Pixar, think about all the kids who saw Star Wars and it inspired them to become filmmakers, actors, writers, whatever. I myself have frequently used my experience and passions about Star Wars to help further my career and life. So you’d probably not be reading this right now if it wasn’t for Lucas.

It goes on and on and on. So many of the toys that have been sold in the past 50 years are because of the success Lucas had merchandising Star Wars. Not just Star Wars toys—basically all licensed toys. Oh, and on top of all that, he helped create Indiana Jones and THX, and he gives millions and millions of dollars to charity.

That’s just the tip of the Star Destroyer. It’s been a good 77 years for Lucas and, below, we’d love for you to share your favorite memory of the filmmaker. Or maybe what you think first when you think of him.


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Here’s How to KoЯnify Your Website

Illustration for article titled Here's How to KoЯnify Your Website

Photo: Chung Sung-Jun (Getty Images)

AAЯЯЯЯЯЯEEEEEE YOOOOUUUU ЯEEEEAAADDDDYYYYY……. to KoЯnify your website?

The golden age of KoЯn came to an end right around the time that everyone suddenly realized they need a website. But history is cyclical, and KoЯn is cool again while the website is dead. After a decade of people teaching themselves HTML or paying through the nose to put up an overdesigned web page touting their personal history or business, most people can get by with a LinkedIn and an Insta these days.

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But the corpse of the personal website lives on in the automated hosting fees that many people just forgot about. Maybe you’re one of those people. Maybe you see that annual hosting charge come down every year and think that you’ll do something with that outdated destination someday. Well, I’ve got a suggestion for you.

Developer David Hallberg Jönsson recently uploaded a little script that’ll KoЯnify your website for you. That is to say, every instance of the letter R will automatically flip to a reversed letter R because, in Jönsson’s summation, “Я is always cooler than R!”

Here are Jönsson’s instructions for how to make your website cool:

To add the KoЯnify script to your website, include this script tag in your HTML:

<script src=”https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/gh/dvdhllbrg/kornify/kornify.js”></script>

Then you can KoЯnify at will with the following Javascript code:

kornify();

For example, to add a KoЯnify button you can do:

<button onclick=”kornify();”>KoЯnify me!</button>

That’s it, folks. We’re on the cusp of the weekend, and weekends are for completing stupid projects. Go forth and KoЯnify the web.

You Can Pet a Virtual Cat and Feel Its Simulated Fur Using This Elaborate VR Controller

For some pet owners, being away from their furry companions for an extended period can be heartbreaking. Visiting a beloved pet on a video call just isn’t the same, so researchers at National Taiwan University developed a VR controller that allows the user to feel simulated fur while petting a virtual animal.

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Created at the university’s Interactive Graphics (and Multimedia) Laboratory, in collaboration with Taiwan’s National Chengchi University, “HairTouch” was presented at the 2021 Computer-Human Interaction conference this week, and it’s another attempt to bridge the real world and virtual reality to make simulated experiences feel more authentic by engaging more than just a user’s sense of sight and sound. A VR controller, the motions of which can be tracked by a virtual reality headset so the movements of a user’s hands are mirrored in the simulation, was augmented with an elaborate contraption that uses a couple of tufts of fake fur that a finger can feel.

The HairTouch controller not only presents the fake fur when a user touches a furry animal in VR, but it’s also capable of simulating the feeling of different types of fur, and other surfaces, by manipulating those hairs as they extend and contract. By controlling the length of hairs, the fake fur can be made to feel softer and more pliable when it’s fully extended, or stiffer and more coarse when only a small amount of the fibers are sticking up.

To accurately simulate a pet, whose fur coat doesn’t stick straight up like the fibers on a paint brush do, the fake fur on the HairTouch controller can also be bent from side to side, depending on the user’s hand and finger movements in the simulation, and the orientation of the virtual animal. Petting your dog from 3,000 miles away doesn’t seem like the best use of hundreds of dollars worth of VR gear (unless you’re a really devoted dog owner), but the controller can be used to simulate the feel of other textures, too, including fabrics, so the research could also be a welcome upgrade to virtual shopping—a promised use of the technology that hasn’t really moved past the concept stage.

Don’t expect to see the HairTouch available as an official Oculus accessory anytime soon (or even ever), as it’s currently just a research project and the prototype isn’t quite as sleek as the VR hardware available to consumers now. But it’s a clever idea that could find its way into other hardware, and other applications, helping virtual reality blur the lines with reality.

In Our Star Wars: The Rising Storm Excerpt, the Mystery of the Nihil Deepens

Star Wars High Republic: The Rising Storm book cover crop featuring three Jedi with purple, blue, and green lightsabers.

Inset of Star Wars: The High Republic – The Rising Storm cover.
Image: Joseph Meehan/Del Rey

The High Republic is no longer in a time of peace. After the events of Charles Soule’s Light of the Jedi, the first adult book set in Lucasfilm’s new wave of Star Wars stories set some 200 years before the events of the movies, the galaxy is under attack by the marauders of the Nihil and suffering from the Great Hyperspace Disaster caused by their leader Marchion Ro.

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Now Ro plans to attack the upcoming Republic Fair, but how? This exclusive from Cavan Scott’s The Rising Storm, the follow-up to Light of the Jedi, doesn’t fully answer this question, but it does reveal the answer is much, much more complicated than it seems. In it, Marchion Ro arrives at an unknown frozen planet for a very mysterious purpose…

Illustration for article titled In Our Star Wars: The Rising Storm Excerpt, the Mystery of the Nihil Deepens

Image: Joseph Meehan/Del Rey


Cold had never worried Udi Dis. He had never experienced it growing up, but that had been so long ago now, the tropics of Talor little more than a distant memory. There had been so many worlds since then, so many routes plotted and sold. His father would have been ashamed of the life his son had led, but what else was new. None of this stopped Dis’s breath catching as the Spider’s ramp thudded down on the dusty ground. The cold was intense even here in Rystan’s habitable band, but Dis couldn’t let it show. He wouldn’t. He strode down the ramp wearing a fur-lined cloak and mask to protect his eyes from the wind, the metal clattering beneath his clawed feet, ignoring the chill that sliced through his feathers like a vibroknife.

“There she is,” croaked a voice as Marchion Ro himself exited the craft. Dis dropped into a defensive position, his grip on his wingblades tightening, the curved weapons the only possession he still had from home. A bundle of furs was rushing toward them, leading a trio of large creatures that looked like escapees from a bio-splicer’s nightmare, a hideous mix that was part blurrg and part bantha. Not for the first time, Dis wished his affinity for the Force, the kinesthesia that allowed him to navigate the stars with such precision, extended to the Jedi’s fabled premonition, a sense of danger before it struck. For all he knew, those thick pelts hid a disintegrator or laser-flail.

He flinched as Ro’s hand settled on his shoulder.

“At ease, soldier. That’s our contact.”

Soldier. It had been a long time since Dis had been a soldier. It had been a long time since Dis had been anything. Long before he found the Nihil.

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Ro strode past him, stepping off the ramp as the newcomer threw her arms wide.

“Marchion, Marchion, Marchion,” she wheezed with familial joy. “You have come back to us. Finally. You have returned to the Path.”

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“Kufa,” Ro responded, but he made no attempt to return the embrace that the old woman so obviously desired. Instead she let her arms fall to her swaddled sides once more, content to grin at the man who had unleashed a reign of terror on the Outer Rim. “It is good to see you, Cousin.”

Another surprise. Was this crone, with her leathery skin and toothless smile, a relative of the Eye himself? Dis knew little about Ro’s past, save for the fact that he had inherited the title of Eye from his father, Asgar. Beyond that, no one knew much about Ro’s lineage, or even his species with their slate-gray skin and pitch-black eyes. And yet there was something in the face of this woman—with its strange tattoos so similar to lightning bolts of the Nihil—that was familiar, even if Ro looked like he could snap her like a barium reed.

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“We have missed you,” the woman said, gazing up at the Eye. “When we received your message, the Elder barely believed it . . .” She trailed off, lifting a shaking finger to his mask. Ro allowed her to touch it, another first as far as Dis knew. “Although I would rather see your face. It’s been so long.”

Ro guided her hand back down, holding it warmly in his hands. “Later. When we are in the Shrine.”

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That, at least, seemed to placate her for the time. “Yes. Yes, the Shrine. Although the temperature will be worse, not better.”

“I can well believe it.”

“But it will be worth it . . . to look upon the Leveler. To feel its nullifying peace.”

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“As our ancestor did, long ago.”

“As we were taught. All of us.”

Tears shone in the old woman’s dark eyes. Dis wondered if they would freeze.

“You have truly come back from the darkness.”

Ro released her hand.

“You will take us, then?”

Kufa’s gaze shifted to Dis, as if seeing him for the first time. “And who would you bring to the fields of Golamaran? Who would you bring to the Shrine?”

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“This is Udi Dis,” Ro told her, raising a hand in Dis’s direction. “A . . . a friend.”

Dis liked that. Not a bodyguard. Not even just a pilot. A friend.

The old crone’s eyes bored into him.

“He is . . . what?”

Dis wanted to yell that he was freezing.

“He is Talortai,” Ro answered for him. “A species strong in the Force.”

Her eyes flicked back to her cousin’s masked face.

“The Force?”

This time Dis spoke up. “I am a navigator. A pathfinder.”

She chuckled, obviously amused by his choice of words. “Are you now? Well, whatever you are, whatever you can do, you are welcome.” Again she glanced up at Ro. “As were the credits that came before you. Such generosity.”

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“I knew the journey here would be difficult for you,” Ro said. “Do you still have that old rust bucket?”

“The Open Hand? Yes, yes I do. Half devoured by rust-weevils, but she still flies, although not to the Shrine.” She patted the hide of one of the shaggy beasts that waited patiently beside her. “The slarga will get us where no transport will fly. They are strong.” She glanced back at Ro. “They have to be, where we’re going.”

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Excerpt from Cavan Scott’s Star Wars: The High Republic – The Rising Storm reprinted by permission. Copyright Del Rey.

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Star Wars: The High Republic – The Rising Storm will be available on June 29, along with its audiobook by longtime Star Wars narrator Marc Thompson, from Del Rey.


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Not Even This Adorable Robot Could Get My Fat Cat to Exercise

Illustration for article titled Not Even This Adorable Robot Could Get My Fat Cat to Exercise

Photo: Victoria Song/Gizmodo

My cat Pablo is fat. His fluffy tummy flops wildly from side to side when he runs, and he only runs to his food bowl. On the chart of chonky cats, he is most definitely a “megachonker” and a kibble binge or two away from graduating to “oh lawd he comin’.” I wake up most mornings to his tail smacking my face as he yowls because it’s been an unacceptable eight hours since his last meal. I don’t particularly care that he is a Big Boy so long as he’s relatively healthy. However, something had to be done after his last vet visit. Not only did he tip the scales at 19 pounds, the veterinarian called my husband to say, “We’re concerned. He’s far too young to be this fat.”

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The high-fiber prescription diet food has not worked. We bought him a harness and leash for walks, but only managed to drag his prone body to the front door before the harness slid off, proving that cats are, in fact, liquid. The only form of exercise Pablo believes in is extreme napping. I write all this so you know the Enabot Ebo Pro did nothing wrong. The blame lies squarely on Pablo’s rotund shoulders.

The Cutest Robot in All the Land

The Ebo Pro is stupid cute. It’s a teeny, tennis ball-sized robot with pixelated eyes that express feeling. When you turn it on, it proudly says “EBO!” like it was a Pokémon. I’m pretty immune to cute stuff after a 7-year stint in Tokyo, a land of brain-breakingly cute things, but I’ll admit it: I squealed unboxing it. My review unit came with a secondary outfit, complete with reindeer ears and a Santa hat, which I can confirm is ridiculously adorable when you put it on the bot. It also comes with a two different “hats,one with a built-in laser pointer, and another to entice your kitty with silicone feather attachments.

Functionally, the Ebo Pro is a chimera made of a pet cam, robot vacuum, and cat toy. It has a 1080p camera that you can view through the companion app, and the Pro model also features AI that’s capable of recognizing your pets and family members. It can also auto-record videos. You can choose to either actively drive the robot through the app, or schedule it with various pre-set modes to play with your pet at a certain time or day of the week. When it runs low on battery, it’ll automatically return to its charging dock. And, like most self-navigating robots, it also features collision sensors.

Setup is fast and painless—you just download the Ebo app, create an account, and have the Ebo Pro scan a generated QR code. After that, it took about two hours for it to charge up to full, and then I was ready to torture—er, play—with Pablo.

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Pablo prefers to just sit and stare at the Ebo Pro from a lofty perch.

Pablo prefers to just sit and stare at the Ebo Pro from a lofty perch.
Photo: Victoria Song/Gizmodo

How It Works

Manually driving the Ebo Pro takes some getting used to, and I never got great at it. That just might be me, however. The camera feed helps you navigate, though the Ebo Pro is a wobbly bot. It’s not the worst thing, but sometimes when you’re chasing a pet under some furniture, you won’t get the smoothest video. This is exacerbated when you’re doing this away from home on spotty LTE, but I find that’s true of any pet camera. There are also a few buttons you can press to help the Ebo Pro interact with your cat. For instance, you can press a dash button to make it dart forward, while another makes Ebo pretend to play dead. Each action triggers another very cute “EBO!”, which Pablo has not once appreciated.

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Frankly, Pablo was not a fan of me manually driving the Ebo Pro. Every time I drove the bot up to him, he’d give it a cool stare that said, “What the fuck am I supposed to do with this?” If I bumped into him too many times, he’d jump up onto a surface where Ebo could not follow. Just when I think Pablo is actually a glorified couch cushion, he does prove that he is a cat. Case in point, he’s bananas for laser pointers. However, he’s a fancy boy and only likes laser pointers if you flick it back and forth in a specific pattern. It wasn’t easy to manipulate the laser like this in manual mode unless I hit the button that makes the Ebo Pro spin in a circle. Pablo was unamused, and unmotivated to do anything other than stare into the camera like he was in an episode of The Office. This was disappointing, as he lost his shit when I reviewed the PetCube Play 2, which also has a built-in laser.

I thought I’d try enticing him by sticking the silicone feather onto the Ebo Pro’s head. Pablo loves his feathers, even if he can only chase them for a few seconds before it’s nap time again. I definitely caught him eyeing the feather, but again, he couldn’t be bothered to interact unless the bot was motionless on its charging dock.

Part Robot, Part Pet Cam

Even though Pablo wasn’t keen, I liked that this could work as a supplementary pet cam for when we’re away from home. The problem with regular pet cams is they’re fixed in a single spot, while your pets are free to wander. With the Ebo Pro, I can follow them around. As with other pet cams, you can also talk to your pets and record video. If a regular pet cam is a security camera, the Ebo Pro feels more like a robot camcorder. The auto-record function initially gave me the heebie jeebies, but I was pleasantly surprised that Ebo Pro doesn’t store any video in the cloud. You can only live stream, which you have to manually start, or watch saved videos on your phone. Another plus is because you don’t need to store data on the cloud, there’s no extra subscription fee.

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Another feature I liked that Pablo hated was the auto-tracking. I was impressed at how well the Ebo Pro was able to recognize faces and move toward them without me having to drive the bot. (Side note: When Ebo recognizes a face, it rushes forward with heart eyes and, c’mon, how cute is that?) It meant I didn’t have to use my two remaining brain cells to figure out how to follow the cat. Again, Pablo was not having my bullshit. Whenever he’d had enough, he’d lead the Ebo Pro to my dog Daisy. While the Ebo Pro can recognize faces, it’s not so great at distinguishing between a cat and a dog (or human). This asshole just handed off the Ebo Pro to Daisy and said, “Your problem now.” Daisy’s reaction was to sniff the Ebo Pro and then nap harder. (Daisy also objects to any attempts at doggie fitness.)

After all my frustration in manual mode, I had more “success” with the Ebo Pro’s automated modes and scheduling. So long as the laser pointer was enabled Pablo would sometimes half-heartedly chase the laser for 10 minutes. Actually, “chase” is being generous. He sat there, stared at the laser on the ground for a few minutes, and once or twice, batted at it with his paw. Not quite enough to count as “exercise,as he still preferred to spend most of the hunt lying down. Whatever, I’ll take it. With Pablo, any engagement is good engagement.

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This picture pretty much sums it up.

This picture pretty much sums it up.
Photo: Victoria Song/Gizmodo

Again, I have to stress the Ebo Pro did nothing wrong. It self-docks better than any robot vacuum I’ve ever tested—including the ones that cost several hundreds of dollars. It also wiggles its butt while backing into the dock, before letting out a celebratory “EBO!” when it succeeds. I can’t say how the Ebo Pro handles carpeting, as my floors are all hardwood, but I had zero issues with its ability to navigate around chair legs and other furniture. The collision sensors are also impressive. Even though the Ebo Pro definitely knocked into a few doors, it did so gently. (Once, a Roomba bulldozed and chipped the wood of my dining room chair, so never underestimate the damage a self-navigating robot can inflict.)

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Look at this smug jerk. You win this time, asshole.

Look at this smug jerk. You win this time, asshole.
Photo: Victoria Song/Gizmodo

No Match for a Lazy Cat

So no, Pablo does not love the Ebo Pro, though I do think he’s curious about it. Sometimes I catch him sniffing it or eyeing it warily as he walks past its dock. I can tell you what new toy he does love: empty laundry hampers. Every laundry day, this little shit discovers his inner rabbit and leaps in and out of them with abandon while rubbing his cat hair all over my freshly clean clothes. A highly sophisticated $299 robot? Pfft. No. An old, falling apart laundry hamper that he’s seen several hundred times before but is suddenly enamored with? Hell yeah.

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This is the risk every cat owner is all too familiar with. Personally, $299 is too pricy for me, considering Pablo is lazy as hell and prefers guarding his water bowl from Daisy to playtime. However, if you have a cat that does like to play and are thinking of getting a decent pet cam, the Ebo Pro is a good option. It’s only about $100 more than higher-end interactive pet cams, but offers superior interactivity and stores an unlimited number of videos on your phone without a monthly subscription. To me, that’s a fair trade-off if you’re reasonably certain your cat (or dog) will enjoy playing with the Ebo Pro. Unfortunately, that’s not in the cards for me—even though I wish it was.

Pablo is sitting on our daybed as I write this review, smugly licking his paws because he’s fully aware that he’s won this battle. Enjoy it while you can, buddy. Mama’s got 10 tabs open on high-tech cat treadmills, so we’ll see who gets the last laugh.

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