Yesterday, I attempted to argue with the readers of Kevin Church’s comics blog (click on the comments to read the exchange) that the depiction of the Joker in the Dark Knight trailer is lacking an essential Jokerly quality. What I subsequently learned:
1) Do not, even jokingly, be dismissive of the movie Casino Royale.
2) Spider-Man 2 would’ve been taken much more seriously if the filmmakers had ignored all those previous depictions of Dr. Octopus as a scientist with four mechanical arms and just made him a thug with some switchblades.
My latest acquisition for the Wii is Geometry Wars: Galaxies, a souped-up version of the popular minigame originally included as an Easter egg in an XBox racing title.
I’m coming late to the Geometry Wars, but I can imagine that the design team’s brief was “make the greatest ’80s game that never really existed.” It certainly has the look, aping the simple vector graphics of classics such as “Tempest.” There’s even a high scores screen with simple block letters for your initials. It’s just missing the quarter slot and the lingering funk of overexcited video game jockeys.
I can best describe the experience as playing “Robotron” in a fireworks factory. Odd geometric shapes come at you from all sides of a grid-like enclosure floating in space, multiplying in a constant frenzy until you succumb to their tender embrace. Your laser fire explodes in colorful showers against the walls, and even seems to warp space itself as the grid lines twist beneath it.
It’s pretty intense, but as a child of the “Pong” era, I appreciate the return to the good old days when playing a videogame didn’t involve 70 hours of questing. You play until you die, and you always die.
While the original game had a single grid, Galaxies offers some 60 different playfields, each with their own quirks and challenges. It also gives you a helpful “drone” that can be programmed to behave in various defensive manners. (I have a tendency to be freaked out by my own drone, as it’s yet another geometric shape, and I occasionally mistake it for an enemy in the midst of the insanity.) Adding another bit of complexity to the otherwise simple gameplay is the need to collect the glowing bits that destroyed enemies leave behind, as they build up your score multiplier as well as serving as the game’s currency for unlocking new levels.
It’s all highly addictive, and if it really had been an ’80s arcade game, there would’ve been a line of quarters all the way across the bottom of the screen. (That’s how we saved our place in line back in the day, you whippersnappers.)
Yesterday, New Line Cinema and Peter Jackson announced that they have buried the
hatchet Sword That Was Broken and are proceeding with plans to make the film version of The Hobbit as well as a sequel to be named later. I think it was inevitable, as New Line was soon going to lose the rights to Tolkien’s books. Besides, making a follow-up to Lord of the Rings without Jackson’s involvement would’ve been just beggin’ for a public ass-whoopin’.
This could be very cool or very, very awful: the Wachowski brothers (the guys who brought us The Matrix, for better and worse) are doing a film adaptation of my all-time favorite cartoon series, Speed Racer. USA Today has posted the first production photos, and I’m guardedly optimistic about them.
This is one of those films shot mostly in front of greenscreens (ala 300 and Sky Captain), and if the photos are any indication, the Wachowskis appear to be going for a gaudy hyper-reality. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; what I liked most about the cartoon was its excess.
In the world of Speed Racer, it wasn’t enough to have a cross-country road race. The course had to involve bottomless chasms, active volcanoes, or be at least partially-underwater for it to be worthy of the Mach 5. It was a given that all but a handful of racers would die in horrible, fiery wrecks, and that Speed would win the day by tearing through the pack in the last few seconds before the finish line. Speed Racer ruined real race cars for me; who wants to see cars maneuvering politely around a flat oval?
Certainly, it’s only now that this gravity-defying speedway insanity can be properly depicted in live action. If there’s at least one scene in which the Mach 5 rips through a forest at 150 mph tearing trees to shreds with its rotary cutters, I’m there.
Plus (and this is why Vic will be there with me), it has a monkey in the trunk.
Update: And here’s the trailer! Fuck, yeah!
Last week saw the release of Bender’s Big Score, the first of four direct-to-DVD animated films based on the defunct Futurama series. Misunderstood by Fox TV execs who quickly yanked it from its primo post-Simpsons, pre-X-Files slot (in favor of that chancre on TV’s lip Family Guy), Futurama was shuffled off to scheduling hell where it was constantly pre-empted by football. Happily, the combination of cable rerun ratings and DVD sales figures have (as was also the case with Family Guy) given it another chance.
When Futurama shared Sunday nights with The Simpsons, I had no doubt which was the better show. Not only was the writing fresher (remember, this was well after The Simpsons‘ heyday) and the computer-assisted animation more spectacular, but Futurama added a loose story arc and a mixture of comedy and pathos.
Nowhere did the latter come into play more than the notable episode “Jurassic Bark,” in which Fry–a human trapped 1,000 years in the future due to a cryogenic freezer accident–discovers the fossilized remains of Seymour, the stray dog he once befriended in the 20th Century. The technology exists to clone Seymour but at the moment of activation, Fry says no. Having learned that the dog lived some twelve years past the time that Fry was deep-frozen, he realizes that he was only a small part of Seymour’s life and decides to let him rest in peace. However, we soon learn what he never knew: that Seymour never stopped waiting for Fry to return. In a long, sad montage, we see him standing ever vigilant outside the pizza parlor where Fry worked, aging over the years, and finally laying down to sleep.
As good as that particular episode is, I can never watch it again. It was as if the animators wrenched my heart from my chest and stamped it to bits on the sidewalk, and that was before I lost my first pet earlier this year. Even typing the above description makes me misty.
There are a lot of reasons I enjoyed Bender’s Big Score, but the big one is a welcome piece of revisionism regarding the fate of Seymour. The complicated time-travel plot has multiple versions of Fry returning to the 20th Century, one of them deciding to stay behind. We see Fry return to the pizza parlor, stopping to pat the patient Seymour on the head. We never view much interaction between the two, and the plot has present-day Fry spending a couple of years away from home searching for a narwhal (don’t ask), yet the happy implication is that Seymour didn’t spend all that time alone after all.
Granted, we do get to witness the real reason for Seymour’s fossilization (hint: it involves Bender), but I still find it oddly comforting to know that this dog that never really existed outside an animation cel knew a little happiness first.
It’s not often that I weigh in on former pop princesses turned drug-addled sluts, but really, enough with the Britney bashing. Tabloids, you’ve won: you’ve convinced us that Ms. Spears is a crazed, baby-endangering ho-bag.
The November 28 Star magazine, which has been festooning checkout aisles everywhere I’ve been this past week (I have no idea what it was doing at PetSmart), advertises “Inside Brit’s Crazy House”, an expose’ about her (alleged, remember it’s all alleged) double-locked secret room adorned with “pink handcuffs, ceiling mirrors and bizarre costumes.” My God, that’s shocking. Bizarre costumes? For a pop singer? On the other hand, I don’t see the big deal about the rest. I mean, who doesn’t have pink handcuffs and a mirror on the ceiling?
Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether Britney is one bullwhip shy of the Marquis de Sade, let me just say this: I DON’T FUCKING CARE. Britney Spears was barely interesting when she was a former Mouseketeer playing the I’m-so-innocent-don’t-you-want-to-fuck-me card, and she’s even less interesting in her new persona as a stupefied hayseed who used to perform or something.
She’s pathetic, and you guys are pathetic for continuing to pile on her. I’m not gonna make some self-serving YouTube video or anything, but for fuck’s sake, leave the girl alone for twenty minutes and perhaps she’ll start to make some less destructive choices.