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12 Trailers That Spoil The Movies

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warnervoduk / Youtube

Movie trailers have a difficult job. They have to condense a full feature film into an exciting, bite-sized morsel without giving away too much. Some do the former great, but blow it when it comes to the latter. Here are 12 trailers that are packed with spoilers.

1. Children of Men

In 2006, director Alfonso Cuarón dazzled audiences with the dystopian Children of Men. The film takes place in a dying world where women are infertile and the human population dwindles as a result. The trailer manages to spoil the film’s entire narrative arch, which features Clive Owen trying to get the world's only pregnant woman to safety. For moviegoers who saw the trailer first, the big reveal that the character is pregnant wouldn't have been much of a surprise—not to mention the climactic boat voyage to possible safety.

2. Free Willy

Everyone knows the story of Free Willy: A boy befriends an orca held captive at a local amusement park and releases it into the ocean. People knew that before the film came out, too—the trailer includes almost every major plot point in Free Willy, including the whale’s daring escape and release into the Pacific Northwest's open waters. (The trailer isn't alone here; Free Willy's poster also spoiled the film’s final scene.)

3. Cast Away

In 2000, Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks reunited after the worldwide success of Forrest Gump for Cast Away. Hanks plays a FedEx employee lost at sea after a terrible plane crash. Will he ever return home after such an ordeal?

The film’s trailer goes out of its way to answer that question, spoiling the movie's resolution. (Yes, he gets off the island.)

4. Terminator: Salvation

Terminator: Salvation was the first Terminator movie to completely take place in the post-apocalyptic future described throughout the franchise. The trailer reveals the mystery behind Sam Worthington’s character Marcus Wright, who is a machine that thinks it’s human. 

5. The Island

Michael Bay’s science fiction action flick The Island saw moderate commercial and critical success in 2005. Perhaps the lukewarm response was due to the fact that its major plot twist was literally a line said in the trailer: "There is no island!" Oh, it also gives away the fact that Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson are clones.

6. Chinatown

Roman Polanski’s masterpiece about crime and political corruption in Los Angeles has one of filmmaking's greatest (and most depressing) final lines: “Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.” Rather than let audiences go for the ride leading up to it, the trailer throws it all away.

7. Carrie (1976)

Director Brian De Palma’s Carrie was a box office hit and pop culture phenomenon in 1976. Sissy Spacek plays Carrie, a misfit who seeks revenge on high school bullies. The trailer played up the film’s mysteries, but ruins it all by revealing the now-iconic climax at a high school prom with pig’s blood and destruction. 

8. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

At the end of The Fellowship of the Ring, audiences were shocked that Gandolf the Grey plummeted to his death after a daring battle with the Balrog. When the first trailer for its sequel The Two Towers came out, viewers were shocked yet again—this time by the sight of Gandolf the White, who survived the fall and continues on in the journey to Mordor to destroy the One Ring.

9. Contagion

Contagion's trailer wanted to highlight the film’s star-studded cast, but it also disclosed one of its most shocking revelations: Gwyneth Paltrow dies. Although her character dies early on in Contagion, the film’s trailer undercuts what would've been a massive shock for audiences who wouldn't have expected to see a major star kick the bucket.

10. Total Recall

Total Recall's trailer spoils a lot of the action movie’s surprises: Quaid’s disguise as a fat woman; the scene where he shoots his wife, played by Sharon Stone (and one of the all-time great one-liners, “Consider that a divorce”); and the film’s climax.

11. Rope

Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 film Rope is one of his most ambitious thrillers. The film takes place in real time and involves a series of stitched-together continuous shots that expertly build tension and suspense. The trailer features the last act of the film, reveals its ending, and spoils the discovery of where the murderers hid the dead body. So much for all that suspense.

12. Speed

Speed was one of the '90s most fun and suspenseful thrillers, but the trailer left little to the imagination. It includes footage of the hostages watching the bus explode from a safe distance, as well as the film's climactic subway chase—in other words, the ending.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]