Saturday, 17 December 2011

TYRANNOSAUR by Joe Sparrow



Joe Sparrow's take on the Tyrannosaurus Rex, which, to my eye, cannily mixes modern paleontological ideas about biped posture, the colour palette of Jack Kirby's Devil Dinosaur, and the prehistoric weaponisation of Tyco's Dino-Riders toyline. Mr Sparrow's blog E - SPACE is a delight, full of sketchbook revision, process posts, and a cast of original characters that look like Max Fleischer Popeye people as painted by Koji Morimoto.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Also Van Damme



Sylvester Stallone hands stewardship duties on The Expendables over to Simon West, a former Jerry Bruckheimer stable shooter who peaked with 1997's endlessly rewatchable Con Air. I've never felt like Mr West got his due for Con Air. The film is routinely heaped in with Michael Bay's usual one-note action sludge, despite having a sly self-awareness, and operating sense of humour. It resembles Bayhem, that's undeniable, but it has an ironic streak that'd have Michael scrunching his face up in confusion. Also Van Damme.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

WALL RUN



After this week's VGA reveal, here's Hideo Kojima and Kojima Pro staff openly discussing the circumstance that lead to the original incarnation of Metal Gear Rising getting shitcanned. Also of interest is Mr Kojima's brief outline for a possible Metal Gear Solid 5 - what were MGS3's Cobra Unit up to during the D-Day landings? A title focusing exclusively on this fictional World War II outfit is an incredibly exciting proposition. Formed in 1942 during the Battle of Stalingrad, and espionage active throughout the rest of the conflict, the multi-national Cobra Unit would be a great framework to interactively examine the shifting battle lines of the Second World War. Look out for more sneak peaks at Platinum Games hyper-caffeinated recalibration too.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

BREAK



In a world of photshopped, float-head atrocities, teaser posters seem to be the last bastion of stark, singular images designed to hype movies. Warner Bros continues its run of classy, idea based one-sheets with this ad for The Dark Knight Rises. Last year we had a burning, ruined Hogwarts. This year we get Tom Hardy's Bane prowling away from the remains of a Batman.

Via

Striker + Extended Mags = Fun



Despite having a self-publishing suite similar to Black Ops, I've spent very little time messing around with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3's theatre mode. In the first few weeks of release playing online was hassle. The maps are tiny and lined with total debris, making movement difficult. The community has been reluctant to dash about and engage, preferring to sit in corners and ambush. Netcode is disgraced by a crippling latency workaround designed, but unable, to give everyone the exact same AAA experience. MW3 has chugged and frustrated.

That's before you even get into a weapon levelling system that leaves some arms effectively hobbled for the majority of their lifespan. Although I committed acts at least as impressive as the un-skill I've previously posted, there was no record of it - one of the placebo workarounds for the total lag experienced at launch was to set recording to OFF. And so it has remained. Six updates in, online play is starting to become bearable again. Mistakes feel like my own rather than the result of an uncaring, spiteful universe that wants me upset. So this is is me, charging around what looks like Hong Kong hip firing absurd shotguns at unsuspecting enemies. Enjoy.

VGA 2011: The Last of Us



Naughty Dog's latest looks set to continue the studio's unbroken streak of bleeding edge PS3 development. The Last of Us sells with an apocalyptic scavenge scenario, staffed by a gruff chap and his Ellen Page look-alike pal. Hopefully it'll be the heartstring tugger Dead Island promised, but utterly failed to be.

VGA 2011: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance



After more than a year of radio silence, we finally get a new look at the upcoming Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Looks like the rumours were true; this troubled title has been handed off to extreme action stalwarts Platinum Games. Ludicrous subtitle aside, Raiden's solo adventure seems to have finally graduated from a slice mechanic tech-demo to a hyper combat game in the vein of Platinum's Vanquish. Is it me or does Raiden sound more than a little like Willem Dafoe too? Although Revengeance appears to have zero in common with the usual Metal Gear tactical espionage, it does scratch an itch every series player has had since 1998 - we finally get to play as a cyborg ninja.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Filthy Little Mudbloods



FilmDrunk ran this earlier; enterprising / mental American college students have translated Harry Potter's broomstick rules footy into an actual real game. Seriously. There's even a governing body that're currently lobbying Pepsi for a grant to get their game into elementary schools. For the first few minutes of this vid I was wondering how they were going to translate the Golden Snitch into boring reality. A remote control helicopter perhaps? Nope! If anything, their solution is much better. A lightweight thug runs around pushing people over and generally dancing out the way of their clumsy lunges. Brill.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Jerry Robinson

AIR-DASH





Although the meat and potatoes of the combos shown in Clip 1 are still swipe repetition, at least DmC is displaying stability. Granted this vid cap spec is unlikely to be running on console, but it's nice to see Ninja Theory's franchise fuck-about isn't dropping frames, or screen tearing through the action. This footage is bordering on robust - not something that could be said of the studio's last few slide shows. As scripted pandemonium goes, Clip 2's architecture seizure is a fine indication of where Ninja Theory's head has been at throughout development; cannibalising visual cues from Inception to manufacture an impossible platformer. It's not the sort of action that immediately springs to mind when you think of Devil May Cry, but the aggressively fluctuating demands put on the players jump and dash moveset is a kick. These clips, coupled with the news that Capcom and Ninja Theory hit up the authors of various Devil May Cry FAQs to playtest the new juice, would seem to suggest fan concerns aren't being taken lightly. Maybe there's hope after all?

MUNCH BATTLE



SMASH! POSE! DINOSAUR! It might be a sequel to a lame duck, but at least Transformers: Fall of Cybertron understands that the leap from intergalactic transforming automobiles to intergalactic transforming tyrant lizards is minor, bordering on irrelevant.

Pity the film bods never got wise. Yes, Mr Bay. We understand you must cram every inch of the screen with jiggling lingerie models, screaming dickheads, and mechanical atrocity, but you have elected not to include the Dinobots, because they are silly? Quite right. I mean, why would a twenty-foot tall berserker robot want to mutate into a Tyrannosaurus Rex? Who cares if it's maximum awesome, right? It just wouldn't make sense. It's almost like Michael Bay believes he's making features with operating logic and reason.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Thing (2011)



Dishonestly sold as a prequel, Matthijs van Heijningen Jr's The Thing is instead a beat for beat remake of John Carpenter's 1982 model. Minus, of course, pesky things like nuance, or that film's suffocating sense of despair. 2011's Thing is lean to the point of being malnourished. Outpost 31's predicament was a slow burn realisation of utter extinction. This Norwegian camp - staffed by at least as many Americans - instead knuckle down immediately to action movie posturing, lest they burn any of their brisk 90 minute screentime on anything as wasteful as creeping dread. There are no asides depicting husky shaped Things stalking around dozing men here, those infected have apparently mutated through osmosis, programmed to reveal themselves in bombastic fashion when the audience's attention starts to drift.

The psychology of the threat differs too - in Carpenter's film doppelgangers transformed into abstract organ mashes only when cornered, and frequently only as a distraction to allow smaller components to escape. 1982's Thing was desperate to survive, and would tear itself apart to do so. This Thing instead prowls around flashing combat modes at the drop of a hat, changing into insectile lumps to stalk the talent in extended peril sequences like an animalistic dickhead. These forms disappoint too. Rob Bottin created a creature that cannibalised bone and organ to fit utilitarian objectives. Reveal set-pieces were intense, kaleidoscopic nightmares - bearded men battling horrifying, transcendent shapes. Desperately unable to compete, Image Engine have simply lifted ideas from elsewhere, so in 2011 we have Mary Elizabeth Winstead at war with Dead Space's car crash slashers, and a literal human centipede. Although too efficient to be completely awful, The Thing 2011 still resembles poorly conceived jump-start sequels like Predators or Terminator 3. These are films made by people inheriting other's hard work. They have no connection or passion for these creations, and they do not understand these creatures as anything other than a brand ripe for exploitation. This Thing is a merchandise movie.

NINE THOUSAND



Freddie Wong and Brandon Laatsch accomplishing, in just over one minute of YouTube poop, what James Wong's Dragonball Evolution didn't manage in ninety, namely a credible live action interpretation of Dragon Ball Z that accounts for all of its garbled, lost in translation lunacy. In this short we get the wide, wasteland angles of Toei's spare animation series; lunatic action figure hairstyling; as well as ultra still posedowns and something like dub VA Chris Sabat's hysteria readings.

Cozzi 101



A beardy Lou Ferrigno teaches us the origins of the Ursa Major constellation, from 1983's Hercules. Thanks Lou!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Usagi Yojimbo by Mr Hawthorne



Comic Twart

Immortals



Generally concerned with juggling perfume ad hardbodies and bland hero questing, Immortals briefly springs to life whenever Mickey Rourke's King Hyperion stalks the frame. Hyperion wields the same kind of casual cruelty as Malcolm McDowell's Caligula. Subordinates are routinely mauled to pass the time, enemies bundled into bull shaped ovens to power abstract musical instruments. Enlist in Hyperion's cause and you can at least expect to have your face gashed and genitals obliterated. Hyperion's objective is simply misery. His presence choking all around him while he sits gnawing his way through an unceasing supply of stoney fruit. He's repulsive. Every level of Rourke's performance invites disgust. He fights like an animal, stabbing at eyes with thumbs, and hooking fingers deep into cheeks.

Rourke's performance lifts Tarsem Singh's film, a terrifying villain that lacks any sort of equal, moral opposite. In comparison, Henry Cavill's Theseus is a one-dimensional spear thruster, deeply fixated on equalising sneers targeted at his mother, with a surprising gift for pep-talks. Luke Evans's Zeus simply mopes around with the rest of his Versace pantheon, constrained by nonsensical cosmic laws that sometimes require him to murder his children. This is Greek myth by way of the action adventure assembly line. Gods hamstrung by noble notions of Judeo-Christian divinity, heroes passively locked into dull journeys. Only the baddies get to have any fun.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

HIT BUTTONS



In the early 1990s you weren't nobody if Konami hadn't beaten your likeness into a scrolling arcade fighter. 1991's The Simpsons Arcade Game featured the Klasky Csupo ugly / awesome drafts of the family, bopping their way through Springfield and beyond in an attempt to wrestle back Maggie from Mr Burns. Although staffed with generic, grinning suit toughs, barely a second passes without some form of cameo from a minor series player. This first stage clip features appearances from Waylon Smithers, Super Slugfest (The Simpsons's hyper-violent take on Nintendo's Punch-Out!! games) champion Howard, Martin Prince, Principal Skinner, and Professor Von Brauner (the fat wrestler boss) from the Bart the Daredevil episode. Unlike every other attempt to wring some dough out of the licence, The Simpsons Arcade Game never seemed like a sleazy cash-in. It instead appeared to be a lovingly crafted attempt to bring battle mechanics to the Simpsons universe. Either that or Konami went gaga over the endless succession of revoltingly designed slouch people they had to play around with. Rumour has it we can expect a Live Arcade / PSN re-release pretty soon. Fingers crossed we get Konami's Aliens arcade eventually too!

V



Looks like we're heading back to Los Santos for Grand Theft Auto V. Rockstar's sideways glance at LA last appeared in 2004's hugely ambitious Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, a game that effortlessly juggled a mid 90s gangbanger narrative, and statewide crime sprees. Bop to the top, and you could set up home in Las Venturas, a gaudy Vegas analog. San Andreas was as close as the series has strayed to becoming a statistics RPG. Financial strategising ticked away in the background, and hero character CJ could go to seed if your caloric intake wasn't burnt off down the virtual gym. Bored gamers could comb the endless forest landscape for an elusive (impossible?) glimpse of a Sasquatch.

Will GTAV match that level of detail? This clip at least suggests the series's satirical bent is intact, at least as much screen time is dedicated to scenes of financial fallout as interactive criminality. GTA thrives in these quiet mission moments - peeling to your next objective, ears full of in-universe shock-jock speak. It's also refreshing that Rockstar North are selling the experience of interacting with a functioning fortress city, rather than just sandbox havoc. Fingers crossed Rockstar North aren't too proud to take pointers from Rockstar San Diego's Red Dead Redemption, a title that did much to de-fuss the company's open-world template. Missions were ruthlessly checkpointed, progression also eased with recharging health and a simplified gunplay system. The developers might also want to take a look at Volition's Saints Row series, which, despite a low-rent personal image, manages to present an easy, intuitive series of control systems.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Sketch Wednesday: Frieza



Dragon Ball Z's intergalactic despot after Son Goku has roughed him up good. The androgynous, lizardy Frieza is a villainy high-point for Akira Toriyama's manga masterpiece. He's a brick wall of transformations and power-ups, against which the principal characters exhaust themselves. Despite sustaining horrifying losses to his own personal attache of alien lunatics, Frieza never seems even slightly rattled. Everyone's best, most desperate efforts are child's play to him, until he runs up against a prophecy warrior, created by his own hand.

The Tofu Survivor



Complete Resident Evil 2 an inordinate amount of times, and you'll be given the option to play through a parody version of the game's The Fourth Survivor unlockable mode. Instead of thugging around as the Umbrella corporation's top bag man Hunk, players get to lark about as a lump of tofu, complete with squeaky comedy sound effects and Mickey Mouse gloves. As you can see by this gameplay clip, Mr Tofu really hates zombie dogs. Get knifed pup!

Virus City



After several middling gameplay clips failed to wow, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City finally warms up by shilling on pure nostalgia. Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis have been image plundered to ignite some excite. With full HD remix remakes looking increasingly unlikely for the two PlayStation sequels, this could be as close as we'll get to a bells and whistles re-experience. As well as a Leon S Kennedy NPC running around causing havoc, we get Claire Redfield, the Mr X Tyrant, Nemesis, and William Birkin's mutating G monster. Best of all, we also get a glimpse of fourth survivor Hunk, larking about with the Umbrella Special Forces team. Hopefully, that means Tofu will put in an appearance. Shame, all these face toys seem to be off limits, players stuck playing as interchangeable gas-mask people. Shame. Almost got excited then.

Sketch Wednesday: Penguin



Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, Penguin made his debut in December 1941's Detective Comics #58. Recently seen in the Batman: Arkham City video game with a right wonky Cockney accent, not mention thinks and demeanor in common with The Long Good Friday's Harold Shand.

Friday, 4 November 2011

HAPPY DITKO



It was Steve Ditko's 84th birthday on the 2nd.

Happy Birthday Mr Ditko.

Image via the indispensable Grantbridge Street & Other Misadventures.

Friday, 28 October 2011

El-P - Rush Over Bklyn



Nab this track here, all of El-P's proceeds go towards Mr. Dibbs's medical bills. Heads up via Byron Crawford.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Batman: Year One



Perhaps aware that much of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's original piece was gobbled up by the Christopher Nolan franchise, Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery, and Tab Murphy's adaptation of Batman: Year One doesn't attempt to swell events with tacked on action spectacle. Instead we get a lean, mean, war journal; bulletin events and headlines from the first twelve months of Batman's war on crime. A few dopey clarification lines aside, Miller's headache speak survives intact, dominating the film's mood and motor. Mazzucchelli isn't quite so lucky. The outline of the artist's figure frames remain, but they've lost their scratchy, sweaty quality. Likewise, the putrid colours of the newsstand issues are lost in pastels. Aside from Ed McGuinness's action figure drafts, the DC OVAs have struggled to replicate individual artistic ticks. Year One is no exception, but at least Miller's writing is allowed to pop.

Benjamin McKenzie reads Miller with the dull clip of total psychosis. A performance, and presentation, unafraid to portray a multimedia character thinking like a serial killer. Bryan Cranston synchronises perfectly with James Gordon, the actor incapable of giving any reading that doesn't throb with a wounded, conflicted masculinity. Cranston is adept at finding the dark, secret corners of married males - the light frenzy of leadership, or the cold-sweat panic of responsibility. Cranston gamely plays along as Miller's writing exposes the heroic Gordon in unheroic ways, creating flaws and imperfections that colour, rather than void, Gotham's human face of justice.

We've had many Miller adaptations in the last few years, but none of them, not even the Miller co-directed Sin City, have given a complete account of his beguiling, hysterical ability. Sin City deleted the abuse and illness that informed a lunatic like Marv. Zack Snyder's 300 forgot to acknowledge that Leonidas knew he was a fascist battling on behalf of someone else's democratic ideal. Miller's skill is that he can place a recognisable psychological state within the confines of comic reality. He invests his characters with fanatical drives and masochistic kinks that play like truth in worlds teaming with super-identities. This Batman then is the closest yet to full-Miller. Find his indelible mark in the lack of excuse used to justify Bruce Wayne's behaviour. There are no asides to contextualise scenes in which Batman promises to mutilate a criminal. Gordon is framed considering his gun while his heavily pregnant wife sleeps. There is no levity, just the suffocating desire to punish. Extremity of thought, as well as action. This is Frank Miller. He trades in seizure chivalry.

Are you alone?



First level footage of Battlefield 3's single player campaign, on Xbox 360 with the 1.5GB HD textures pack installed. For comparison's sake, here's the same gameplay without the install. As much as I like the synthetic digital camera fizz, DICE's most impressive work is always with their soundscapes. Buried underneath all this peerless demolition Foley is a machine-man throb that sounds like Brad Fiedel's T-1000 theme played in reverse. Hopefully, the rest of the campaign is a little more ambitious than bleeding edge corridor shooting.

I HIT A NAZI



Italian Spiderman is dead!

Long live Danger 5!

Toot Toot Sonic Warrior



With Sonic the Hedgehog's Lead Programmer Yuji Naka hard at work helming a Mega Drive sequel in America, it fell to to Sonic's creator Naoto Ohshima to develop a separate release designed to take advantage of Sega's new supplementary hardware, the Mega CD. Sonic CD featured crisp J-Pop anthems, and animated cut-scenes by Toei Animation and Studio Junio, as well as a time travel gimmick that allowed players to leap back and forth undoing Dr Robotnik's techno-pollution. Despite a PC port, and an appearance as part of a GameCube / PlayStation 2 compilation, Sonic CD's initial release on an expensive, niche system assured the title the dubious distinction of being the least played Sonic game. Thankfully, this forthcoming digital release looks to be fairly definitive, adding in the instant momentum of Sonic the Hedgehog 2's spin-dash attack, and retaining the Japanese soundtrack that was removed for the original American issue.

Monday, 24 October 2011

"We need a shadow of our own."



The outlook's pretty bleak for national monuments in this latest piece of Modern Warfare 3 hype - France's Iron Lady looks like she's about to topple over. Despite some appearances to the contrary, Modern Warfare 3 runs on a new version of the standard Call of Duty engine. Unofficially referred to as IW 5.0, this iteration allows for the faster streaming needed for all the vast, brutalised urban landscapes on show here. The warhorse IW 3.0 engine, used by such titles as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Black Ops, continues to heavy lift behind-the-scenes for Activision's 007 titles.

Thief



Sat across from a woman he's decided loves him, James Caan's Frank starts to talk about surviving in prison. How he had to deconstruct and eliminate basic drives and feelings to operate within a rigged, brutal, system. It transformed him. He is an individual, isolated by design, successfully working a small, capable crew. He's at the top of his game, but beginning to realise perhaps he needs more. His career isn't satisfying. Meticulously plotted diamond heists are no longer challenging.

In spite of this, Thief isn't about a man opening himself up and successfully experiencing the simple joys of life. Quite the opposite, Thief is about a man attempting to embrace a regular Joe existence, and realising how vulnerable that makes him. It creates targets, that allow people to threaten and attack him. Entering a corporate structure robs him of his freedom. His hit-and-run heisting incompatible with a machine that wants to industrialise his process. This terrifies Frank. Michael Mann's debut feature locates a monastic, Bushido core in precise criminality. To excel, your emotions must be dulled, you must act as if already dead. Eliminate all ties. Retaliate like a savage.

Tangerine Dream - Beach Scene

John Nada



Making-of clip for John Carpenter's working class classic They Live. Looks like Roddy Piper and Keith David had a ball shooting that back alley slugfest. Carpenter makes a pretty nifty point about the foreign policy of They Live's aliens, and their desire to turn the United States into a subordinate, third world nation. That doesn't sound familiar at all.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

METALHAWK

Johnny Cash - Tennessee Stud

Bullet Jam



Rising Star Games are set to publish yet another Cave manic shooter with questionable attitudes towards the fairer sex. Hooray? Like Deathsmiles, DoDonPachi Resurrection features submissive teenyboppers acting coy in-between rounds of grinding up continent sized robots. Video games can be a terrible place. Male characters get to delight in their might authored carnage, ladies are stuck simpering like playthings. Why aren't video game women allowed to be confident? Why is their competence incidental? Iffy sexual politics aside, Cave serves up the finest in bullet smothering microplay, it's just a shame they marry this hyper-intense twitch play to the demented doodlings of slobbering, panty sniffing shut-ins.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Resident Evil Code: Veronica X



Lacking a numerical designation and originating on Sega's Dreamcast system, Resident Evil Code: Veronica X is considered the black sheep of the biohazard family. The remit here is lightly experimental, a fevered break from the Raccoon City milieu. Pre-rendered backgrounds have been dropped in favour of real-time environments. The usually fixed fright frame can, on occasion, pinball around to track your creeping steps. It's a faint escalation, allowing the game to further obscure immediate dangers, and your proximity to them. The stately home horror of the main series bleeds in around the edges, but for the most part Code: Veronica is set in desperate, depressing spaces, stained with industrialised murder.

The player starts in what can only be described as a concentration camp - bare, concrete brutalism spotted with the odd wooden barracks, and patrolled by rabid Dobermann attack dogs. The graveyard heaves with emaciated, sexless corpses that stagger and moan pathetically. Make it to the plush living quarters of the jailors and you'll find lightly obscured monument to blitzkrieg machinery. Escape, and it's off to a frigid gulag, scored with straight lifts from Brad Fiedel's terrible future Terminator score. Even for a horror game, Code: Veronica is ruthlessly downbeat. Unavoidable superfoes drain your dwindling resources, allies just grist for infection, and destruction. Your ultimate enemies are two incestuous science siblings with infinite money to pursue their derangement. The unfolding narrative positions them as manufactured reincarnations of a brilliant aristocratic scientist, their dilemma built around the creeping dread they feel at their lack of permanence. Played today, Code Veronica is an antiquated, almost clumsy experience. Resident Evil's tank controls frustrate, and there's a level of crisscross backtracking early in the game that borders on satirical. Adjust to these eccentricities though, and you discover a tightly mapped objective sequence that dares you to speed-run.

"The will of a single man can be broken."



Less than a month until Modern Warfare 3 hits, time for another hysteria trailer! Over the course of three games, the Modern Warfare series has shifted from World War II missions in a contemporary setting to the kind of denied-ops meta-narrative usually seen in Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid games. This campaign clip almost ignores the idea of an America under siege to focus on rhetoric posturing between a Russian radical nationalist and a Cockney war criminal. We're in the realms of superheroics here. A weightless shoot-out on a Presidential airliner only serves to make this point explicit. Considering the countries Call of Duty mainly sells in, and the conflicts we're currently involved in, maybe that's the only tasteful way to conceptualise war on this scale? Last year's Medal of Honor struggled to juggle what it saw as an 'authentic military experience', and basic gameplay demands. The result was a dull, dawdling single-player, spotted with a morally detached jingoism that revelled in the implication that Pakistan was next on the Coalition of the Willing's international hit-list.

SUPER CLUTCH





More clutch gameplay from Daigo. In the first clip, Mr Umehara's Balrog follows a total rush round with some teasing rope-a-dope, before throwing out dizzy combos for fun. Clip 2 sees Daigo's copper Ryu win back a round from almost being perfected on Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition. Listen to that crowd! Don't even give Daigo an inch. He plays fighting games like a Dragon Ball Z character; you're never beating him, you're just making him angry.

Bert Jansch - Black Waterside

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

MP-10 Convoy



Takara's issue of a re-designed Masterpiece Convoy. This new draft of Optimus Prime lacks the blocky, marionette quality of the MP-1 Convoy. The MP-10 iteration is more dynamic, with the kind of spikey anime dimensions favoured by Studio OX's Generation 1 promo art.

Image courtesy of Higekuma Toy Toy.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Skin I Live In



A lithe young woman contorts and stretches her body into spikey yoga angles. She wears a body sock that covers every inch of her from the neck down. She is fed from a stainless steel dumbwaiter, her food drugged. She molds endless clay busts with make-up materials, and is desperate to mutilate herself. She is trapped, and surveyed. Treated like property, owned by a brilliant surgeon with a mahogany tan, and a kink for opium. He pores over her form, examining and assessing. Molding her. Making her perfect. The Skin I Live In is about domination and control, a glacial dissection of gender roles in sexual power plays. Regardless of class, or intellectual standing, men in Skin want to fuck and overwhelm their women. They are uncomplicated and naive, assured by their capacity to penetrate. The women are duplicitous and conniving, concealing agenda. They feign the submission their partners desire. In Almodóvar's film having a vagina doesn't make you weaker, it makes you stronger. It allows you to trap.

Impossible Challenge



William Friedkin's Wages of Fear remake Sorcerer, consigned to distribution purgatory after Star Wars crushed its box office. Harlan Ellison dug it. Gotta track it down.

SUPER BEAST



2D superstar Daigo Umehara uses everything in his arsenal to eke out the slimmest of victories in Super Street Fighter II X: Grand Master Challenge. These clips are always fun to watch. Fighting games are built on systems with endless situational variables - some moves cancel out others, and certain sequences can be chained into each other in such a way that beats and recoveries are missed. Every input you make has a value and weakness. So, what's your next move? What's your opponent doing? If you miss your next hit, where does that leave you? Even if you know exactly what's possible, it can be quite another thing to actually accomplish it. Above all, this clip demonstrates the value of passive intimidation. Sometimes, Daigo's copper coloured Ryu is doing nothing at all, letting possibility fuck with his opponent.

MC5 - Kick out the Jams

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

REC 2



More found footage from the Spanish apartment block. REC 2 amplifies events within the confines of the original disease space; so instead of mismatched civilians dodging zombies in a quarantined building, we get an armed response unit breaking in with an objective. The new players race to REC's creepy-crawly final area, ransacking the hysteria room for clues. Beats are reconfigured and repurposed to fit a sequel agenda, REC 2 instantly expanding and embellishing the core intruder concept, violently seesawing the survivors between safety and peril like a hyper-caffeinated Prince of Darkness. REC distinguished itself from the running undead pack by tying the infection into Vatican sponsored research into the occult. REC 2 runs with this, hinting at a higher, celestial conflict, using the supernatural to manufacture anxiety within the POV format. There's a severe interest dip when the film takes a time-out on the Police to hang out with a trio of bratty teenagers, but that misstep is accounted for by the newly self-determined agenda the disease displays - a manipulative, knowing intelligence, with boundless ambition, and a talent for deception.

THUNG 2



The most unwanted follow-up since An American Werewolf in Paris continues the anti-wow with this red band attention grabber. Jump scares! Imperilled hotties! No obvious practical creature effects! This shit looks antithetical to the utter hopelessness the Carpenter flick routinely generated. Aside from a whip thick tentacle capped with a flower-head sucker, the biology of the creature is failing to excite. Bottin's beast was an impossible mess of innards programmed to ensnare. This calibration lacks anything approaching that level of intensity - shifting bones and bits are always concealed by elasticated, discoloured, CG skin. Deforming human shapes can be fun, but the thing shouldn't have base elements, it should be insane.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Drive



Ryan Gosling's Driver has no equal. He has no opposite to set himself against, no nemesis to confound him. He's alone. As much as Drive is about a heist tumbling out of control, it's equally about a man trying to find his place and create roots. Driver has at least three jobs - a wheelman of supernatural ability, a day-play stunt-driver, and a mechanic. He demands distance as a criminal, his only interaction a neutral rundown of what his client can expect. His movie role that of marginalised crew, made-up in a Matt Dillon fright mask, staging lethal car crashes for incompetent directors. At the garage he labours under the paternal gaze of Bryan Cranston's Shannon, an inveterate fuck-up with ambition beyond his means.

Shannon aspires to mold and govern, but his influence over Driver is limited, even laughable. Like all the other males in Drive, proximity to the Driver is withering. He makes them seem small and weak. Visually, Drive shares the sodium lamp fizz of 70s/80s chase thrillers like The Driver, or To Live and Die in LA. There's even a coiled mechanism that recalls the mission minds of The Terminator's time travellers. Structurally though, Drive is closer to mysterious stranger films like Shane, Yojimbo, or A Fistful of Dollars. A self-actualised island personality exploring its tender urges in the midst of slaughter. Total psychosis working a protector kink. It's never going to work out for Driver, but at least he tried.

51



Baseball as musclebomb meltdown! Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture's latest video game sketch, Diabolical Pitch, will see players flinging their arms wildly at the 360's Kinect sensor, imitating homicidal home plate deliveries. But that's not all! If this trailer's gameplay accurate, expect to mime bazooka zap arms, Super Sentai poses, and Dragon Ball Z fusion dances.

Special Day



REC 3 ditches on POV hysterics and stairwell slaughter to truss up a slight Spanish girl in a basque and garters for a sweaty chainsaw throwdown. Let's all pretend we're appalled.

Kavinsky - Nightcall

Friday, 16 September 2011

Higher Trash



Blessed with a trailer that hums with clipped, Walter Hill code speak, not to mention pure Tangerine Dreaming, Drive promises machine-man accomplishment, sweaty, petty criminal worlds, and gloss magazine lookers dressed for an 80s revival spread. Refn has priors dissecting trash cinema action archetypes - Bronson sifted through movie informed muscle to locate an instinct level attention seeking. Can't wait to see what he's got to say about the kind of terse, calculators Toshiro Mifune pioneered. Drive hits September 23rd in the UK, lucky US readers can see it now.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

MAXIMUM VIOLENCE, IMMEDIATELY



Gareth Evans follows up traction catalogue Merantau with sweaty SWAT apocalypse The Raid, which, judging by this two-minute clip, expertly juggles Assault on Precinct 13 style siege seizures with martial arts hyper-kinetics, and Die Hard's lone-wolf heroics. Expect a review as soon as possible.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

TV Girl - Baby you were there

MW3: Jugg



One last Modern Warfare 3 clip to briefly demonstrate how one of the player controlled Juggernaut point streaks works. In previous games, the Juggernaut was a heavily armoured enemy type in the Spec Ops game modes. Usually accompanied by foreboding music, these jogging tank men specialised in running you down and ruining your day.

There are two Juggernaut streaks in Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer. The one shown here, Juggernaut Recon, is awarded for reaching an 18-point streak using the Support Strike Packages - point streaks tailored to cater for teams rather than individuals. Other Support Strike rewards include reconnaissance vehicles, and ballistic vests. It's worth noting that when using the Support system, streaks do not reset on death. Regardless of how many times you die, you are always building towards your chosen rewards.

As well as being able to sponge damage and chase down enemies for a riot shield bashing, players equipped with Juggernaut Recon will become mobile motion sensors, pinging enemy locations for allied players. The other Juggernaut streak is available when using the Assault Strike Package, which does reset when you die. Reach 15 unbroken kills and you get the body armour, an M60 machine gun and a ridiculous Magnum revolver.

Testament: The Bible in Animation - Elijah







Keen followers of Mike McMahon's splendid Tugging Your Coat blog may have been shocked to learn that Mr McMahon worked on a Bible animated series for the BBC. I know I was! I have vague recollections of Testament: The Bible in Animation popping up in an afternoon slot on BBC2 during school holidays. Like the BBC's Shakespeare animations, they were always worth sitting through if caught. The animation was usually lightly experimental, and the content a shade more gruesome than what you would expect from the apparently dull subject matter. Predictably, McMahon's episode is totally fucking awesome, and features beardy, angular men kicking hell out of each other to brooding opera music. That Elijah was a real shitkicker.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Fizzy Pop



It is a widely held belief that the greatest indignity the Alien series ever suffered was a rash of witless crossovers with Fox stablemate Predator. Au contraire! Real sci-fi masochists are directed towards this shit shill for Pepsi; a 1992 event commercial that features the Alien 3 draft of the Xenomorph struggling to locate two scruffy young grungers in a smokey alley, whilst suffering some incredibly shitty comedy vermin sound effects. Fincher's flick made the creature look like a writhing mess of copper tubing and polished black diamond. Nightmarish contrast! This burper has all the visual sophistication of a light creeper on a cable TV children's channel.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

MW3: Rush



This is the juice! Finally, a rush flavoured shill for Modern Warfare 3, featuring exactly the sort of qualities that should be stressed to get people hyped. Although loaded with freeze-frame info, yesterday's multiplayer reveal basically boiled down to four minutes of slow-motion glamour shots of architecture and character models, arguably the Call of Duty franchise's weakest link. With Battlefield 3 looking like an interactive front line news report, that sort of hawking looked, frankly, batty. Why move on graphics, when the competition's comfortably killing you in that match-up? This minute and change is different though, teasing toys and tech, whilst never breaking 60 FPS sprint pace. This year, if you want to get people excited about the lightly antiquated Call of Duty franchise, you've got to make it look like an ice cream headache - too many treats, eaten too quickly.

MW3: Hang Tough



20XX needn't have worried. Despite the latest Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer trailer disappearing up its own wazoo, turns out the attendant press event, Call of Duty XP, could be counted on for twitchy gameplay feeds. This clip from Spec Ops's Survival does a nice job of demonstrating the mode, showing the staggered round progression, how you'll use the laptop currency system, and the total feedback that made Modern Warfare 2 fun on wheels. Like Nazi Zombies, it looks like the players can be quickly overwhelmed and downed, but at least the enemies aren't an endless procession of bullet sponge National Socialists. The mix and match of different enemy types, including chemical weapon dicks that apparently release disorientation gas upon death, suggests a hyper-mobile siege thinker, that consistently demands new responses and tactics if you're to scrape by.

Friday, 2 September 2011

MW3: Grimace Shot



In contrast to Modern Warfare 2's gameplay feed multiplayer trailers, this reveal for Modern Warfare 3 online leans heavy on the play-as-narrative baloney kicked off by Call of Duty Elite's Karl shills. It's interesting to see eye-catch glimpses of perk load-outs and such, but it never really translates into any meaningful examples in this bloated slow-mo stare at what we can expect come November. It's all just so Call of Duty as brand. I ain't no shareholder, I wanted Call of Duty as fun. Still, there's hype to be had. Call of Duty 4's Overkill Perk is back, allowing two primary weapons; that prowling robot sentry gun looks like a blast; and your equipment load-out now includes Halo style defensive options. It'll be interesting to see how much punishment that electrostatic shield thingy can sponge, and whether or not Scavenger resupplies it. Could be essential for bomb rush/defense on Demolition style gametypes.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Jurassic Park by Aaron Horkey



Devil Beast triumphant! Peep the blue wash variant of Mondo's new 70s rock flyer flavoured Jurassic Park pin-up. Thanks Inside The Rock Poster Frame!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Pixies - Head On

Tinker



With the Star Wars Blu-Rays finally on their way, can we expect yet more legacy tinkering from George Lucas and his army of ILM Yes Men? Badass Digest reckons we can. The above clip purports to include a leaked sound file from the new HD masters (married to vid footage from the existing DVD release); specifically some audio additions to the throne room throwdown from Return of the Jedi. I'm sure strongly worded boycott petitions are being drafted as we SPEAK.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Crouching Roundhouse



Making full use of the upload to YouTube option, here's my first online ranked match on Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition. I'm the grey gi Ryu with the yellow bandanna. Don't expect much, still gotta shake out the cobwebs. Far too much jump-in, and slow pokes. That said, I'm having a time with this game. Sat up close with the music blaring stereo, it's like I'm back playing my Dreamcast in 2001, avoiding going to uni.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Two-Fisted



Everything gets a trailer! Enjoy this flash animation pass at some panels from Frank Miller's upcoming al-Qaida stomper Holy Terror, scheduled to drop on the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. How's that for maximum nasty? 20XX hopes are sky high - Miller's contextualised the piece as wish-fulfillment propaganda, a contemporary spin on the super (racist) anti-Axis Batman serials from the mid 194os. Given that Miller currently enjoys a rep for being a grubby, right-wing smut peddler, there's an expectation that Holy Terror won't operate above the level of one-note slugger. I hope that isn't the case. The Dark Knight Strikes Again showed the man has a real gift for sharp satirical swipes and political caricature. More of that please.

No Fun



Despite ranking the original Devil May Cry as the best game of 2001, I've barely posted anything about Ninja Theory's upcoming series rejig DmC Devil May Cry. Why? Frankly, it's all just too depressing. Nothing shown so far has contradicted that first announce impression of a half-think title rushing around undoing all its predecessors good work. Ninja Theory's main contribution to the franchise so far has been the decision to scowl up doofy Dante to appease autistic 15 year old boys, and cut the frame rate in half. Gee, thanks!

This combat clip presumes to allay fan fears, but all I'm seeing is an angry young avatar slowly chugging through some default weapon swirl combos. Where's the mental? I'm seeing mid-string weapon changes, but it's all focused around various forms of dull dull blade. Where's the bat-spewing vampire guitar? Where's the briefcase that unfolds into an attack helicopter sized combat platform? And if not them, then where's something like them? Where's the whooping, the cheering? Where the fuck is Dante?