Monthly Archives: January 2012

Kinect “Star Wars” video – worse than “Phantom Menace”?

So. Much. Wrongness. In. One. Screengrab.

Via the intrepid nerdologists at NeoGaf comes this cringe-inducing look at the upcoming “Kinect ‘Star Wars'” game for the Xbox 360, which reveals categorically that Microsoft may know how to get their console and peripheral into people’s homes but they can’t make video content to save their lives.

Cheesy appearance by R2-D2?  Annoying perky presenters designed to appeal to the Normals?  Lack of anything approaching a relationship to gaming credibility?  All present and correct.

It’s this kind of thing which makes me embarrassed to self-identify as a gamer, as a fan of “Star Wars” and as a nerd.

To think – I thought that the worst “Star Wars” related thing I was going to see this week was that bloody Vodafone advert…

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Van Halen goes to “Chinatown”

Where have all the good times gone?

Should we be worried about the ‘new’ Van Halen record, “A Different Kind of Truth”?  I’m speaking mostly to the VH fans, here, I realise, but normal, non-Eddie, Alex, Dave and Wolfgang obsessives can join in, too – just click on the link above and listen to “Tattoo”.  Join us back here when you’re done.

A band reforming is one issue – Will they still be any good?  Will they all get along?  A band reforming and then taking a bunch of old songs, fragments and demo tunes and reworking them into their new album is quite another and that’s what the advanced scuttlebutt is telling us about “A Different Kind of Truth” – that many of the songs actually date back to Van Halen’s inception during the 1970’s.

I’m all for artists being prolific, but I’m not sure that being prolific is the same as raiding the off-cuts, never-were and ideas that you were never quite able to whip into shape.  Is that really any way to announce that you’re back – by releasing a record largely composed of stuff that your hardcore fan base will be aware of via the tape-trading circuit from back in the day?

I suppose I should just be happy that Van Halen are back again, but I’m holding my judgement until I hear the record.  On that note, Blabbermouth have posted the latest snippet from “A Different Kind of Truth”a song called “Chinatown”, which dates from back in the day but is a little more convincing than “Tattoo” was.  The comments section has it pegged as being melodically in the same territory as VH classic rocker “Hang ‘Em High”, which seems like a fair enough assessment.

It’s only fair to warn you that the vintage 1982 video linked to above contains leopard-print dungarees.  Viewer discretion is advised…

 

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“Lock Out” gets new trailer. Awesomeness still intact.

Film titles are confusing.

Hey up, it's Rudy from "Misfits"!

Depending on where you are in the world, the latest sci-fi action flick from Luc Besson’s Europa Corp is titled “Escape From MS One” or “Lock Out: Maximum Security”.  It’s enough to cause mucho confusion down the multiplex on a Saturday night, should your mind not be on your viewing game.

Who let Michael Bay behind the camera?

I’m probably preferring the “Escape From MS One” variant, if I’m honest, as it offers a subtle homage to the discerning nerd cineaste that this film is wholly in thrall to John Carpenter’s glorious “Escape from New York” (and “Escape from LA”, of which we don’t speak) and no greater template could a genre film-maker have than that snarky, mean-spirited and singular B-movie.

Near orbit, zero-G, white knuckle base jumping, anybody?

There’s a bit more action in this trailer – not all of it brilliant, some of it looking like it escaped from a PS2 game cut-scene – and a bit less of Guy Pearce being all hard-boiled and bad-assed, but the cumulative effect still has me keen to go and support a smaller-scale genre picture when it opens in April.

It’s all about balance, really.  $200 million blockbusters are all very nice but a decent B-movie warms the cockles of my heart.  And if John Carpenter can’t (or doesn’t want to) make this kind of movie any longer, I’m kind of glad that Luc Besson’s production auspices are letting them happen.

 

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The 2011 Minnie Movie Awards

Inspired by Geek Soul Brother’s splendid Mulder awards, and because Gold Globes and Naked Fellows are so last century, I take no small delight in presenting the inaugural Fluffrick 2011 Minnie Awards – the virtual awards ceremony which celebrates great nerdy things and the sleepy terriers who tolerate them (as long as they’re not too loud).

 

The Filmic Pup Who Know's What's Up - Minnie

 

Without further ado, the Minnie for Best Science Fiction Film of 2011 goes to…

Any film which gets me out of the house and headed towards a multiplex cinema nowadays is deserving of some kind of award.  Any film which has me thinking about its implications long after leaving the cinema is clearly doing something right.   Any film that has you scouring IMDB and the trades to see what all concerned are doing next is one that’s more than worth a view if you haven’t seen it already.

Runners up in this category were:

Coping with the twin demands of launching a franchise and establishing more continuity for this summer’s “Avengers” extravaganza, Kenneth Branagh had more than enough on his plate with “Thor”.  That he delivered an entertaining movie which delivered laughs, action and some quite excellent performances (Idris Elba – represent!) indicates that Branagh is a film maker to call if you want your widescreen spectacle balanced with character comedy.

and

Yes, the latest Paul Anderson movie is the polar opposite of the movie at number one.  It’s dumb, noisy and historically so bizarre as to constitute some kind of public call for better teaching of the subject in our schools.  All those issues aside, this latest adaptation of “The Three Musketeers” was quasi-Steampunk mentalism of the highest order.  Worth it just for Orlando Bloom channelling Adam Ant and confirming that sneering villainy is something that he’s really rather suited for.

Every great (or middling) film must be counterbalanced by one which isn’t so enduring.  A film which saddens and irritates in equal measure.  To wit, the next award is the Most Disappointing Movie of 2011.

As the second movie was a shrill, misogynistic, racist and overwhelmingly brain-dead effort, this third sequel didn’t have a lot to live up to.  Being in focus and not giving you a migraine might have been considered a major result,  but this film managed to make massive destruction, rocking-socking robots and jaw-loosening spectacle somehow unforgivably dull:   If a skyscraper falls in Chicago, and you’re busy checking your smartphone because the stuff on-screen is so overblown that you don’t care if anybody lives or dies, does anyone hear it?

Perhaps we were spoiled in 2010 by Christopher Nolan’s “Inception”, which balanced the demands of action cinema and arthouse style and showed us that mainstream summer movies can be pump up the adrenaline and intellect alike?  Perhaps the impressive 3D tech could have been used for a purpose other than ogling Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s admittedly compelling posterior? Perhaps we realised, at long last, that Shia LaBeouf really isn’t much of a star and why were we watching him again?

For whatever reason, the third “Transformers” movie arrived in the summer, did the predicted, gang-busting business worldwide and barely troubled the memory for longer than it took to say “Was Alan Tudyk really in this film?”  Some more questions. Why did they end up in Chicago?  Who was double-crossing whom?  Did Huntington-Whiteley really outwit a robot by appealing to its mechanoid vanity?  Is it possible to make a movie which mostly erases itself from your memory almost immediately after viewing it?  Because I believe that this franchise may well have pulled it off.

Runners up?

Ah, DC’s much-vaunted “Green Lantern”.  With a galaxy-spanning police force composed of imaginative alien creatures, gigantic cosmic phenomena/villains and decades of comics continuity to draw from, how did this film’s creative talents decide that what we really wanted to see was a piss-taking Ryan Reynolds leering at anodyne anon-o-blonde Blake Lively and a resolutely Earth-bound story.  Such a missed opportunity.  There’s talk of a sequel, but unless it’s a ground-up reinvention, does anybody really want to see it other than DC Entertainment’s accountants?

and

“Season of the Witch” wasn’t scary enough for horror fans, wasted Ron Perlman and Robert Sheehan in nothing roles and was so tired, predictable and half-hearted that I expected it to peter out rather than actually finish.  I know that we’ve come to expect comparatively little of Nicolas Cage in films these days, but “Season of the Witch” so completely drops the ball and wimps out in its final act (Hey! All the stupid, evil creatures are actually real and it’s not just man’s inhumanity and irrationality which is causing all the horrible stuff to happen to people!) that it becomes an ordeal to watch.

For shame, Dominic Sena, for shame!

A final Minnie category for now?

Most Disappointing Movie Development of 2011.

Whether you want it or not, whether it works or not, and ensuring that you have to see a movie in the format because there’s never a 2D screening when you want to see it.  The good uses are few and far between and the bad ones are seemingly stinking up a multiplex near you every weekend.

It’s here to stay, because there’s a lot of money invested in it, but it’s not my first choice for entertainment and I doubt that it’s many of yours either.

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“Doctor Who” – 50 years of change…

Hats are cool. I wear hats now.

Industrious YouTubist Babel Colour has updated their 2008 video and now includes clips from every (available) “Who” story from 1963 to the present day.   Enjoy 9 minutes and 26 seconds of awesome Time Lord adventures with questionable effects, curiously insubstantial scenery and more imagination than you thought possible.

Also, Jon Pertwee is super cool, but you knew that…

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Wright and Pegg at “The World’s End”

After a crappy day at work, believe me when I say that this picture makes things quite a bit better:

How's that for a bit of Fried Gold?

The mere prospect of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and (let us hope) Nick Frost working on the final part of their “Three Cornettos” trilogy makes me very happy.  Why not read Slashfilm’s take on things?

I met Simon Pegg once, at a signing for his autobiography/memoir/deranged ravings of a bearded genius, “Nerd Do Well”.  He was as splendid a chap as you could have hoped for and was very nice about my Scott Pilgrim shirt.  Isn’t it cool when the people that you admire turn out to be thoroughly decent?

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One Block To Rule Them All…

The Precious...

 

Via Topless Robot comes a picture which words can only taint the real beauty of.  Yes, “Lord of the Rings” Lego sets are real.  And glorious.

Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I’m going to be camping outside Toys R’ Us with other nerds of questionable sanity for a while…

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Nickelback strikes back!

It’s a tough life being in the most loathed band in the world.

Beware, Twitter Haters - this man's coming for ya'

Despite having more record sales, successful world tours and fans than they know what to do with, Nickelback still cop for flak wherever they go – mostly, I imagine, from  hipper-than-thou, online-centric,  indie music fanboys.  Or people with ears (sorry – had to go there). And whilst nobody is required to be rational or sensible when discussing music on the internet, I would venture that much of the disdain aimed at the Canadian rock band far outweighs their significance.

You can always, after all, turn to another radio station or ignore them entirely, going about your day as though nothing of value was lost to you.  But then, that’s a rational response to a minor first world problem and that kind of thinking could break the internet forever.

To get back on message, Nickelback have struck back, via the most deadly weapon in any modern media-savvy celebrity’s arsenal – their Twitter feed.

Run for the hills – the drummer’s sent you a mean tweet!  Oh, snap!  That snarky @reply just came from the jewel-encrusted smartphone of Chad Kroeger himself (or the guy that Chad Kroeger employs to…you get the picture).

Where will it all end?  Probably with things going a little something like this (video features very NSFW language).  We can but hope.

 

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Andy Serkis snubbed by Academy, still loved by nerds…

Never mind, Andy - we still love you.

With an imperious inevitability largely calibrated on their ability to crush nerd dreams and hopes, Andy Serkis‘ excellent motion-capture performance in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” was today overlooked by the halfwits by apparently comprise the acting division of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as Hollywood’s shadowy nominating committees announced the nominations for the 2012 Academy Awards.

Still, Serkis’ snub isn’t the only face palm moment.   No “Drive”? Check.  Eleven nominations for a Scorsese movie that – whilst glorious – it’s target audience found eminently skippable? But, of course.  Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross score for “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” totally ignored?  You got it.  It’s like the Academy hates Geek Culture or some shizz?

Perhaps if he were, you know, a ratings-boosting, honest-to-goodness, proper movie star such as Brad Pitt or George Clooney (both nominated this year – what are the odds?) we might not be having the same discussions.  But as Hollywood seems utterly unable to create new stars, it’s probably understandable that they’ve chosen to nominate what they can understand and what they can market rather than performances which are too complex or too unfashionable for their delicate artistic brains to fully grasp.

Gizmodo has a piece today whose headline sums up my feelings quite nicely, thank you very much…

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Microsoft SpaceBucks To Go Bye Bye?

Eurogamer reports today that Microsoft are preparing to phase out their unloved virtual currency, Microsoft Points, by the end of 2012.

Microsoft Points - good riddance?

Moving instead to payment based on regional currency in the territories where Xbox Live, Zune Marketplace and similar MS platforms now operate, this development might well bring a song to the heart of any bleary-eyed gamer at 2:00am who can barely work out how to stand unaided let alone negotiate the confusing territory of the computing giant’s virtual money and it’s idiosyncracies.

80 points equals One British pound does it?  Not for much longer, if a report first published by Inside Mobile Apps is to be believed (I read it mostly for the riveting coverage of proactive synergies in the hand-held market space, don’t you know?).

I’m sure that this will be an entirely positive development and not just an excuse for prices to climb astronomically based on the price of the dollar against the pound and vice versa – because Microsoft wouldn’t dream of doing anything like that, of course…

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