Monthly Archives: January 2012

Big Media gets smart?

"The River" - this year's "Lost" or the new "Flash Forward".

In a development which probably isn’t a harbinger of things to come,  ABC Studios have partnered with iTunes in the UK to bring new mystery series, “The River”, to UK viewers a day after it debuts in the US.

This is partly down to the awkward but undeniable fact that no UK broadcaster has picked up the show yet, despite reviews of the pilot like this one from io9.

Something which makes me slightly nervous about this show is the involvement of “Paranormal Activity” creator Oren Peli and Steven Spielberg as producers.  Spielberg’s record on TV isn’t the best – for every “Band of Brothers” or “The Pacific”, there’s a “Falling Skies” or “Terra Nova”.  Neither of those shows is an out and out stinker, but they’ve always seemed to me to be feature projects which couldn’t quite hack it and ended up on telly.

I have to say that I wonder if this is going to be the shape of television to come – buying a single show season pass on a platform like iTunes rather than shelling out for a pricey tv package which has only a few series that you actually want to watch.   The pricing probably has to catch up to make this model of viewing attractive – I’m not sure that I want to commit to a show from the outset which might never get beyond twelve episodes – but as I find myself watching fewer and fewer hours of TV each year (a number which will decrease  yet further when “30 Rock” ends its run), perhaps taking a punt on the new JJ Abrams or Ron D Moore show will seem like the way to go.

 

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“Resident Evil: Retribution” new image, teaser poster and release date

So, it's a low-key, period costume piece, then?

The internets, they keep on giving.

Over on the “Resident Evil” movie Facebook page, there’s a link to this delightful teaser poster for this year’s “Retribution” sequel.  Everything’s gone all Mayan, you might say.

If you’re keeping score, it’s the fifth movie in the Paul Anderson/Milla Jovovich series of game-to-film adaptations and as the last movie – “Afterlife” – was the highest grossing entry in the franchise, it’s hard to see how the September 14th release of this latest film will be anything other than a hit – the fans of the games bitch about the diversions from the game storyline and still buy tickets, the critic’s reviews are (let’s be candid) quite beside the point and at the end of the week, I can think of no more enjoyable experience than heading to the cinema to see Milla Jovovich kicking zombies in the head.

This is the part where Milla negotiates nicely with the zombie horde, yes?

Well, it would be even better if it wasn’t in 3D, but I’m going to lose that battle, so why fight it in the first place?   Stupid glasses it is.

Everybody look at me/'Cause I'm sailing on a boat...

And September 14th, by the way, seems to be the release date for the UK and US – our friends in Australia and New Zealand have to wait until October for the film, which seems desperately unfair or a rare mercy, depending on how you see things.

Isn’t the digital age supposed to bring an end to this idea of stupidly staggered release dates?  Can’t we all share the guilty pleasure awesome at the same time?

 

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Matthew Vaughn signs up for “X-Men: First Class” sequel

Image

In news bound to cheer up fans of smarter superhero fare, director Matthew Vaughn has signed up to direct a sequel to last year’s quite ace “X-Men: First Class”

Hopefully this also means that Jane Goldman (pictured above, with her signature crimson hair which is clearly her bad-ass super-power) will also return – though Empire’s story at the link above indicates that regular Twentieth Century Fox writer/producer Simon Kinberg (“Fantastic Four”/”Mr and  Mrs Smith”) is initially flinging words into his laptop and hoping something sticks.

An early request from this corner – can we hope for a sequel where most of the female members of the team don’t have to walk about in their underwear in the service of ‘being undercover’?  Cheers.

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Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning – demoed!

I have to confess that I’ve been a bit remiss on the gaming side of things.  Since finishing “Uncharted 3” in the run up to Christmas, my time has been monopolised by other things.  This is partly by choice, as I decided to throw some of my energies into reading through the growing stack of novels by my bedside before they formed some kind of sentient, gaudy covered Jenga-like tower of my undoing.

I’ll get to that in a post later this week – blame GoodReads.com and the Sword and Laser podcast for getting me hooked on books anew – but I want to touch on a game demo which reeled me in like a conga eel at the weekend.  I’m talking about the latest action/RPG from EA, Big Huge Games and 38 Studios, “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning”.

If you’re currently neck-deep in your “Skyrim” quest lines, I’m not sure that you’ll find a great deal in the “Amalur” demo to drag you away from your Dragonborn adventures but if you’ve skipped “Skyrim” – and, believe it or not, there are people who haven’t set foot in that epic digital realm – it’s entirely possible that this hybrid fantasy adventure might be your particular flagon of Elven Ale.

For one thing, it’s inevitably a more directed experience, at least in the demo portion that I’ve played.   You watch some cut scene action, create a character and go on a extended tuition of combat, mechanics and get some back story thrown in.  It’s not an earth-shattering approach to the genre, but it is nicely assured and seems to be a slightly better job of chucking you into a single-player action fantasy setting than EA’s “Dragon Age 2” did in 2011.

As is so often the case for me, I’ve gone for the female Elf archetype and played through the demo focusing on combat as much as any of the other talents which you can level up.  And the combat, at least in this vertical slice of game, is accessible, fun and makes you feel like you can mix things up to suit your style until you have the measure of the enemies being pitted against you.

Dodge about a bit, hit some poor unfortunate lackey with arrows from a distance, dash back in and lay waste with your short blades – it’s often so tough to get this stuff right in games, but on the evidence of this demo, if “Amalur” gets something dead on, it’s the fighting.  Boding well for the full retail release, I’m saying.

The settings are fun, the meta-game collection aspects are well integrated and the conversation system is accessible to anybody who’s picked up and played “Mass Effect” in this console generation.   That comparison alone may suggest to whether you want to play it or not, but I’m enjoying what I’ve played of this game and might be reorganizing my time to give this game some attention once it comes out on the 10th of February in the UK.

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What he said…

Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann on the central issue affecting content providers, via Reddit.

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When egos dare – Hagar on Halen

The Red Rocker, rocking in red. Later, haters.

Bless Sammy Hagar – in an age where celebrities dare not speak in public without the assistance of PR’s and PA’s to keep them on message, Hagar’s somebody that you can rely on to tell it as he sees it.

I suspect that, if I had been around as long as him, could buy Belgium with the spare change in my trousers and had been in massive rock bands since the seventies, I too might well not give a tailor’s chalk about offending sensibilities.

Hagar’s been on the promotional trail bigging up his current super group Chickenfoot and has words for the ‘new’ Van Halen material.

And those words include ‘zero inspiration’ and ‘zero creativity’.  Ouch, much?

I can see where he’s coming from – as detailed in previous posts, I’m a little nonplussed by the fact that the new Van Halen stuff is mostly old material which didn’t make it onto earlier records.  That doesn’t sit well with me and Hagar too questions why this new/old line-up hasn’t sat down to write wholly new material.  It’s not like these guys are fresh-faced kids bulking out their album track listing with covers – it’s Van-freaking-Halen, for (Jamie’s) crying out loud.

If seasoned pros like Chickenfoot can get in a room and write new songs, why can’t Dave, Eddie, Alex and Wolfgang get their creative process going?

Hey, I’m not a musician and I don’t know how the writing process works when you’ve been around as long as VH have but the equivalent in another media would be George Lucas going back to a previous project and futzing around with things until they get all messed up.

Hey, now – wait a minute…

 

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TheGessNation – a YouTube vlog which ROCKS…

Nightwish - Finland's finest Symphonic Mentalists...

Surfing YouTube sometimes yields an absolute gem amidst the dross, comment section haters and sponsored piffle.  One such example of this phenomenon is TheGessNation.

Pat, for TheGessNation is his YouTube channel, reviews Heavy Metal albums on YouTube and does so brilliantly.  He gets the absurdity inherent in the genre and celebrates it whilst telling you why the music’s compelling, the place that it has within a band’s previous catalogue and how it all relates to the sometimes bewildering world of Metal sub-genres.

Labouring under the belief that Heavy Metal constitutes one, solitary genre of music?  Oh, how wrong you are, dear friend, how wrong you are…

I’d compare him, in terms of wit and charm, to Metal Hammer magazine writer Dom Lawson (whose ‘Dom’s Metal Sandwich’ is another vlog which you should check out – even if he doesn’t seem that keen on the splendid new Lacuna Coil record...).

If you have to watch one, I’d suggest that the edition which deals with Megadeth’s most recent record, “Th1rt3en” is worth a look – all the skinny on Megadeth’s most recent record and the complex web of madness which is intrinsic to discussing Dave Mustaine’s band of not-so-merry thrashers.

And as if you needed proof of how YouTube can send you down many an interesting rabbit hole – here’s the aforementioned Nightwish recording their most recent album, “Imaginarium”, via a promotional tie-in with Genelac studio monitors.  The things that you find on the internets, eh Marco?

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