Thursday, August 22, 2013

Arkham Origins

I'm not a huge Gamer.

I'm probably what the nerds-in-the-know might refer to as a Mid-core Gamer, if that's actually a term. Either way, seems apt. I'm more than just a casual gamer, but no where near obsessed. I like video games, a lot actually. I have an X-box, and I use it quite a bit, but gaming isn't my main thing. Where I will often buy more books than I'd ever be able to read unless I was holed up in the mountains and waiting out the Apocalypse--ah, to dream--or how I always have a near-constant backlog of movies I'm planning to watch, sometimes I'll go for long stretches without turning on a game. Although honestly, there are also times where I do nothing but... My point is, I have a rule when it comes to games: Only one example of each type of video game at a time. For example, I still have Halo 4 to finish, so I won't buy another First Person Shooter until I do. I don't bother implementing rules like that when it comes to my other obsessions, if that tells you anything. Long story short? (Too late)

Not a huge Gamer.

Anyway, of the ones I do obsess over, the Batman Arkham games are some of my favorites. There's two of them so far and I'm currently pretty close to done with the second one, which is good, because there's a third on the way and I really want it.


For my Amish Readers out there, the first game is called Arkham Asylum. It's a Third-Person Action-Adventure with some Stealth game features, kind of like Tomb Raider or... whatever, who cares... and in it you play Batman as he deals with a big break-out at Arkham. Arkham Asylum is where Batman dumps all the big-time crazy-ass bad guys after he beats the crap out them. I'm not sure why he still uses the place, because people break out of there all the time. It happens so often, in fact, the story line shouldn't even be that big of a deal anymore. The game should have been called Batman Arkham Asylum: Must Be Tuesday.


The second game is called Arkham City and the shit has hit the fan EVEN MORE as the slums of Gotham have been turned into a Super-Max Prison. This is of course, a super terrible idea because... duh, so things get out of control and Batman has to go in and start opening multiple cans of Whoop-ass. The game is an Open-World Third-Person Action-Adventure with Stealth Game features. You can go all over the place and there's so much to do. It's huge. It's beautiful. Lots of enemies. Lots of side missions. Lots of puzzles. Lots of special features and extra characters. Plus, you can play as Catwoman and Nightwing. That's awesome. It's tons of fun, a really great game. Although... come on... a Super villain Super-Max Prison in the middle of the city?

Somebody in the Gotham City Planning Office needs to be fired.

In the end, I really enjoyed both games, so as a result I'm really excited for this new third one. In the big-picture of the main story line, this game is a prequel of the first game, so it focuses on a younger and inexperienced Batman. This is always fun, because as I'm sure you're all aware, old Batman is a big badass, but younger Batman usually has a harder go of things, which will make the game a little more challenging. In a nutshell: Huzzah, people. Hu-motherfucking-zzah. Can't wait.

And as the cherry on top, to herald the new game's approach--known as Arkham Origins--the Powers Behind the Scene have put out a Cinematic Trailer.

Let's take a look.


I like the young Batman angle. I really like the inclusion of Deathstroke... But other than that, the trailer doesn't really tell you much. It shoudn't, of course, it's a Cinematic, they're not supposed to. For the most part, they're all about the Wow Factor, and it worked, I am wowed, but I honestly didn't need to be. I was going to get the game no matter what, even though my plan is to wait for when the Game-of-the-Year version gets released. That way I can have all the extra skins and characters and what not without having to do all the stupid on-line extra shit to get them... I hate that crap. Really, my whole reason for posting this is basically because I love Cinematic Trailers. Love them. I think they look great. I don't know why they don't make a feature-length video in this style.

I'd watch the hell out of that.

So... even though I've posted these before, maybe multiple times, I've decided to post some of my favorite Cinematics below. Yes, again. So what, who cares, I love these. If you haven't seen them, you should definitely watch them. For those of you out there who didn't like the style or the story of the Wonder Woman shorts I posted the other day, these are more traditionally super-awesome.

The first one is my favorite. It's for the DC Universe Online Game. I hear the game is kind of crappy, but who cares, I love this trailer. Now, admittedly, I'm a sucker for a good dystopian superhero story, it's my jam, but that's not the only reason, it's also really well done. It's got a good story that it tells well. There's great details and some fantastic designs all over the place. And the fights are a blast. It's good, man.

Check it out.


Most of all, I love the little details in this one. Harley Quinn wearing Robin's cape, but it has a big bullet hole in it? Green Lantern fighting with a broken arm? Luthor's high ground being the obliterated Daily Planet? Green Arrow's dead body on the battlefield? So great. My only complaint is Superman doesn't quite sound right, the voice actor is... not the best. But other than that, Wonder Woman is pretty awesome. So is Black Adam. Also, I love that the result of Batman's damaged arm is called-back in the second trailer...



This one is good. Not as good as the last one, but it really digs into the story line more, enough to really irk me that they didn't continue the series. Total missed opportunity. Fracture's abilities were pretty cool. And I love the ending, the Luthor betrayal, the time travel, all great stuff. Plus, you know Batman isn't dead, he's totally going to appear out of nowhere in the past, looking even more chewed-up than before, and ready to kick Luthor's ass... Man, I really wish they'd continued this.

Somehow I'll find the strength to go on...

This last trailer was originally released as three separate clips and here someone has put them all together in order. The best part about these Cinematics is that they remind you just how easily Star Wars can be cool again, because sometimes that's a hard thing to remember. This 14 minute short is basically everything I have ever wanted to see Star Wars do. Hopefully the new trilogy will skew this direction, but... well, let's not worry about that right now.

Instead, let's watch the trailer...



Best lightsaber fights ever, right? Plus, I love all the cool female characters. I'm not that big a fan of Cowboy Bob, as a general rule I think wide-brimmed hats and trench coats is never a good idea when it comes to character design and I really don't understand the type of folks who do, but that's a small complaint. Over all, there's a lot of awesome in these trailers, a lot of awesome and a lot of long-time love. I support that.

Make sure to watch these,
Jon

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wonder Woman


It's been hard not to notice lately that while DC and Warner Bros have been dragging their feet on the making of a Wonder Woman movie, claiming that the character and her origin are too "tricky", Marvel is going: "Here's a movie starring a Space Raccoon with a machine gun."


I guess it's not really all that surprising, so far the one thing Warner Bros and DC have consistently shown they can do right is stick their heads up their own asses. They even dropped a Joss Whedon version a few years ago, something I imagine ended up resulting in a bunch of firings in the wake of the Avengers movie. I mean, to be fair, I understand a little bit of trepidation. Yes, it's true... Wonder Woman has no real definitive story. She has no villains of any real note, and barely any supporting cast to speak of, especially when compared to characters like Superman and Batman and Spider-man and probably even Iron Man now. In fact, it would probably be fair to say that most people only really know her by her accouterments: Her Golden Lasso of Truth, her star-spangled one-piece and Boomarang tiara, her bulletproof bracelets and invisible jet, yadda, yadda, yadda. People know the accessories instead of who she is.

And that's the oddest thing about her.


Despite most people knowing pretty much nothing about the actual character, she's one of the most recognizable super heroes in the world. She's definitely the most recognizable female one. Otherwise, she's in the top three, easily. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman. That's how it goes. Superman is the Earthbound God, the alien protector, the child of the sun, while Batman is his opposite, the Dark Knight, a creature of shadows, the driven human.


Meanwhile, Wonder Woman is a super strong bad ass hero of ancient legend. Like Hercules and Perseus, her origins are tied directly into Greek myths. She lives in a world of mists and magic. She fights monsters and demons and wrathful Gods. That's fertile ground. That's epic ground. And if no one really knows her because her origins and supporting cast are so transient, imagine the creative freedom. To me, she sounds like the perfect mix, the best of both worlds, an incredibly well known media property with very few Continuity chains to chafe at the latest version. You're worried modern audiences won't relate? Make her relateable. And it's not like audiences aren't receptive to fantasy. Lord of the Rings? Hello? Not to mention the fact that they made two of those shitty new Clash of the Titans movies. Marvel made Thor! Crazy-ass Space God Thor! And in November they're releasing Thor 2! Yeah, yeah, sure, Wonder Woman used to be featured in her own now silly-looking TV show. That was years ago, and the image of Linda Carter spinning in a circle is one that is quickly fading from the public conscience, one that can be replaced with something like this:


It seems so simple, so why no Wonder Woman movie? Oh, wait... Woman... I see... Sad. In the meantime, here's some super-cool animated shorts that can be found on the DC Nation Youtube channel. Check them out, they're awesome.





"Knew it."

Seriously though, before we wrap this up, I have two questions about the invisible jet:
1. What's the point of it being invisible, if everyone can see you when you're in it?
2. Why have a jet--invisible or otherwise--if you can fly?

Never understood that.

And then of course, there's this:


Wonder Woman!
Jon

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Controller

This Taiwanese short film by Writer and Director Saman Kesh is somewhat succinctly summed up as: "A girl who can control everything, perpetrates her own rescue by taking control of her boyfriend." It's an action-packed, cleverly-shot and cool looking little short film that owes more than a little to the tropes of classic anime. What else is going on? Beats me. Plus, I don't get the ending, unless Kesh meant the "everything" in the synopsis to be taken literally, which would not only place this film in a crazy anime-like world, but a fully automated sci-fi one too. Whatever. Weird ending or not, I really enjoyed all the stuff that led up to it.

Check it out.


I know karate, voodoo too,
Jon

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Believe

Lately I've been talking about TV shows. I've posted a few reviews, both of shows I liked and shows that disappointed, and I've mentioned one of the two shows that I will be looking forward to now that Fringe is all done. The first show I'm interested in was called Almost Human. The second show I will be checking out this Fall is called Believe.


What a terrible Promo image. It's so unimaginative and quick and shoddy. It's so bland. Honestly, that's not the best sign right from the start. Plus, the eagle-eyed among you may have also noticed that this show, like Almost Human, has ties to J.J Abrams, who you might recall I am generally not a fan of. His stuff often disappoints me. What's my problem with J.J. Abrams' stuff? Mostly it's due to the fact that right from the start I'm always interested, and not because it's usually sci-fi stuff either, I'm talking about the High Concepts.

Would I be interested in a big budget POV film about Godzilla attacking New York? Yes I would. Would I be interested in seeing an homage to the films of Spielberg in the 80s about a group of kids who see a captured alien escaping from a train crash? Yes I would. Would I be interested in a kick-ass female spy navigating the deadly twists and turns of global espionage? Yes I would. Would I be interested in a group of people crash-landing on an uncharted island populated with weird monsters and mysterious secrets? Yes I would. Would I be interested in seeing Joe Pesci and Danny Glover fishing somewhat wackily? Actually... no. No, I wouldn't be interested in that. But I digress. The point is, somewhere between High Concept and Execution, Abrams and I usually part ways.

Like I said, he often disappoints...


But the good news is, he probably won't be too involved in the day-to-day on-set stuff with Believe or Almost Human, so much like Fringe there's a very good chance it won't suffer from his inability to create a cohesive narrative or stick-the-landing. Another piece of good news with this show? Alfonso Cuaron is the other big name involved. I've mentioned how much I enjoy his stuff. Simply put, I think he's amazing. I love his vision and his eye. So that's definitely a good thing, maybe even good enough to out-balance Abrams' influence. Maybe. Now, he probably won't be as involved in much of the day-to-day stuff either. He'll probably be more of a big picture presence, but I'm okay with that. Children of Men has made me a fan of his work forever.


So if Abrams and Cuaron pretty much cancel each other out and we're back to square one, what is it that draws me to this show in particular over the veritable plethora of eager genre TV that will soon be clogging up our sets this Fall?

Succinctly: I like the idea.

According to the Internet, and from watching the trailer posted below, the show follows a young girl born with special abilities--maybe she's the Buddha, maybe she's Christ, maybe she's Superman, at least, maybe one day--for now she's just a scared little girl with a too-heavy destiny hanging over her head and weird powers that she can't control. The people who are trying to protect her and shepherd her to the day when she does... whatever it is she is fated to do that will change the world, need help. They turn to a man on death row. He is supposed to be her protector, so they spring him from prison. The unlikely duo bond as they hit the road, staying low and off-the-grid, and barely one step ahead of the evil forces hunting her, drawn to her abilities, and her destiny.

I like that.

It's a little broad, sure, but there's potential to do something kind of cool. Check out the trailer...



Not bad, right? It's always nice to see Delroy Lindo. Sure, there's some real bad Man-hair going on, but the Lone Wolf and Cub-ness of it could be appealing. What do you think?

Big Geeking, watchin' some new TV,
Jon

Monday, August 5, 2013

Almost Human

I have been known to watch TV occasionally...


My last post was all about how much Defiance disappointed me, how I had hoped for better, better writing, better acting, better stories, just all around better. And yet, well... you can read all about it here. But for the lazy, basically there are two main reasons I was disappointed with that show.

1. I just like this shit 



It's true. Sci-fi. Fantasy. Horror. And all the shades in between. In my TV, in my movies, my comics, and my books, I love that shit. Spend any amount of time with me and you'll see, the topic will swing that way, at least if I have my druthers. I'm not all about it, of course, I do like other stuff, but y'know... close enough. Especially when it comes to the topics that appear on this blog. What can I say? I like it. I know it. I'm somewhat well-versed in it, so I like to talk about it. And, as is probably a bit obvious after reading a post or two here, I have opinions on the subject. Also, I'm very picky. Some people out there might say I'm too picky, but I would simply encourage those poor souls to raise their abysmally low standards. In a nut shell, I really wish Defiance had turned out to be good, because I would have loved to watch a show like that.

2. Fringe was great, but now it's gone


I've mentioned Fringe before.

A well-written sci-fi show that somehow survived for 5 seasons on Fox? That's unheard of, people, a rare beast indeed; it was like a God damn Bigfoot Unicorn or something... Of course, it only managed to pull this off because the usually underwhelming auteur J.J. Abrams was behind the show and Fox really wanted to be in the J.J. Abrams business. Unfortunately, being in the J.J. Abrams business not only means J.J. Abrams, it means Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman, too. The three of them together? I am not a fan. Yes, they certainly make money, but I don't get why. They can do the Big Wow, they're occasionally thrilling, sure, but their scripts are hollow, a narrative failure, and often kind of dumb. In simple terms: They disappoint.

And yet somehow, Fringe did not.

Fringe was about FBI Agent Olivia Dunham. She stumbles into a weird case and gets pulled into a bigger conspiracy. At first blush, it sounds a lot like X-Files, huh? Sure. That's fair. It definitely shares some DNA, but the differences are readily apparent upon viewing. For one, the cases aren't the same. They aren't alien-y, it's more weird super science and crazy comic book stuff. You will see things like a city bus with everyone inside frozen in amber, or a disease that makes people's skin melt like wax, or an airplane crash caused by a passenger who turns into a rampaging porcupine-monster-man. To solve these cases, and the much bigger, world-shattering mystery behind it all, Olivia recruits insane genius and super-scientist Dr. Walter Bishop, a man who spent decades in a mental institution, and his genius son, Peter, a con-artist and jack-of-all-trades. It was way better than X-files. For one, the show actually answered the weird questions it posed. Big things happened on the show that actually changed the status quo, often radically. Most of all, it told a whole story. Sure, it had the occasional down episodes, every long running show does, but overall, it was ballsy and imaginative and filled with some really great performances.

...And now it's gone, and I'm looking for something new to watch.

Posted below is the trailer for the first of two possibilities. Let's take a look:



Almost Human is by J.H. Wyman, he was one of the main people behind Fringe. Yes, Abrams and the boys will probably be in the mix too, getting their big stupid ham-handed sausage fingers all up in everything, but with Fringe's legacy, I'm willing to give the new show a chance. Will it be as good? I don't know. Karl Urban is pretty damn fantastic, I do know that. His Bones McCoy in the last few Star Treks was amazing and I loved him in Dredd. But like I said, we shall see, the specter of Defiance still looms. Honestly though, this looks much better, doesn't it?


Fingers crossed...
Jon