Thursday, 28 July 2011

Venom by James Harren



More Project: Rooftop. This time it's Venom, presented as a living / oozing overall by James Harren. I'm having fun delving back into their archives. It's pure design vim.

Shuma-Gorath by Jemma Salume



Zip over to Project: Rooftop for oodles more of Jemma Salume's delicate, watercoloury redrafts of Dr Strange's cosmic foes.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Rant



World-class raconteur Kevin Smith finally gets his dynamic on with this Red State ad. Caught about half an hour of Dogma the other night on TV, and as fun as the religion riffs can be, anything moving is flat as hell. Action is antithetical to that movie. The second a movement threatens excitement, it's either lost in a crash of mismatching edits, or a fragment in a dull master. Maybe that's why this shill fizzes? It's like Smith's been allowed to make a balls nasty X-Files episode. Sweaty hand-held, low-angles, prowling close-ups, and 70s cop stair vaulting: this is Smith cooking. It's fun to see. Fingers crossed Michael Parks and John Goodman get to have a sweaty, shirtless, WRESTLE.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Super



Super would make for a fine chaser to Observe and Report's maximum ugly. Both deal with mental illness as a primary component in the urge to enforce order. Super details the wrench wielding adventures of Frank D'Arbo, a short-order chef with a relapsing junkie wife and a hotline to Christ. After a hentai slanted communion with the Almighty, D'Arbo sets to policing his city as The Crimson Bolt. D'Arbo's street-level lawmaking motors on a simplistic after-school morality that eventually extends to braining yuppies who break basic social contracts.

Crimson Bolt is ably assisted by Libby, a micro-hipster with a hyena laugh and a taste for ultraviolence. First encountered as a sweary pop-culture tour guide, Libby eventually becomes The Crimson Bolt's ward Boltie. Beginning as a chaste hang-out, their team-up steadily mutates into a terrifying actualisation of the super sexual dysfunction noted by Dr Fredric Wertham. Super pops thanks to Rainn Wilson's sad-sack performance. Wilson is wonderful as a queasy, stunted man hopelessly screaming into the void. The film stumbles slightly with an ending that seems to imply growth, before mutating the sentiment with a prolonged gaze at D'Arbo's bemused, frowned up fizzog. Hopefully, he's learnt nothing.

EXCISED



After an underwhelming tease showing Luke boringly constructing his Return of the Jedi lightsaber in a papier-mâché cave, I wasn't exactly giddy at the opportunity to see more cutting room floor sweepings from the incoming Star Wars saga box sets. Maybe that's why the raw, high plains physicality of Luke disappearing into a violent sandstorm in this Blu-Ray hype clip got my attention? Jedi's not exactly known for its lyricism. The new glimpses of massive, practical sets, and vanity close-ups of ugly space puppets helped too.

Toyoo Ashida

All Hail Megatron by Dan Hipp

Friday, 22 July 2011

"Kung Fu this, bitch!"



Mortal Kombat gets its last DLC pugilist, Mr Fred Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street. Aside from a few familiar grunts, this Freddy's unusually taciturn. I can't quite place which iteration of Freddy this is supposed to be. Robert Englund's day-glo sequel quipper? Or Jackie Earle Haley's more recent Platinum Dunes de-think? Given the character's noseless, action-figure-left-in-the-sun appearance, probably the latter. Far be it from me to pour scorn on a purely bonkers corporate mash-up, but wouldn't it be cooler if Freddy screamed zippy New Line abuse whilst slash-handing his opponents?

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Rocket Raccoon by Eric Orchard



Eric Orchard puts his twist on Rocket Raccoon #1. Shamelessly nicked from Covered. Mr Orchard blogs here.

HYPE



With a DLC drip feed derailed thanks to the Tohoku Earthquake / PSN outage double whammy, not to mention an allegedly rushed release to balance up a lacklustre fiscal year, Capcom strikes back with increment update Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. Expect character balancing, neater netcode, new stages, online lobby tweaks and additional fighters. Announced in this vid are Ghost Rider and Hawkeye for Marvel; Strider Hiryu and Firebrand (Red Arremer in Japan, the hero of Ghosts n' Goblins's Game Boy spin-off Gargoyle's Quest) for Capcom.

Roster rooters over at NeoGAF have also dug up info and character art for eight further fighters on the sneaky: Marvel fans can expect Dr Strange, Nova, Rocket Raccoon, and the Immortal Iron Fist; Capcom drafts Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney, Frank West, Resident Evil 3's Nemesis, and Dante's twin brother Vergil from Devil May Cry 3. Nose around online and you can pre-order this shameless cash-in / desperately craved recalibration for under £25.

Web Head



What I like best about this sneak peak at The Amazing Spider-Man is Andrew Garfield's Steve Ditko dimensions. He's lank and beanpole were Tobey Maguire was stout and muscular; Garfield's wild hair even pushes in a Brendan McCarthy / Ditranko direction. Other than that it's a dour glimpse at next year's blockbuster that seems to hinge on the spy kit mysteries of Parker Snr's briefcase. Given that this flick abandons Jim Cameron's organic solution, is this version of the web-shooter an inherited gadget? Vim comes in the form of a Mirror's Edge influenced zip around the New York skyline.

Sketch Thursday: Frank West



Dead Rising's sleazebag hyper-consumer hero Frank West. I could've stressed his chubs more. Currently prepping himself for a return to zombie stomping in second installment re-jig Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, and, if NeoGAF snoops are to be believed, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. Welcome back Frank!

Sons of Batman



Batman doesn't kill or use guns, so how do you squeeze a team-based video game shooter out of that licence? Simple! If you're Gotham City Impostors, you plunder The Dark Knight Returns and Batman Beyond for imitation identity grist, imagining a city under siege scenario without either Batman or Joker. Players take control of numbskull geeks with faction threads and murder minds. Do you reckon there's any chance we'll get The Nixons too? I think the best we can hope for is a bat branded Team Fortress 2.

Over the Edge



Here's how the deathly angular Batman: The Animated Series (or more accurately, The New Batman Adventures) conceptualised a titanic rumble between Bane and Batman. We pick up events shortly after Barbara Gordon falls to her death battling The Scarecrow. Blaming Batman, a distraught Commissioner Gordon uses his daughter's funeral as bait, and hires Bane to break the Bat. Balls nasty! Not to worry, the whole episode is Barbara Gordon's fear toxin induced fever dream.

Dark Knight Triumphant?



Calamity! Batman's gone, Gotham crumbles, and James Gordon lies broken. A brutal, mutated young upstart rules the night, necessitating the Dark Knight's return. The Dark Knight Rises has more than a whiff of Frank Miller's masterpiece about it, doesn't it? It's also interesting that attention is referred back to Batman Begins; is Ra's al Ghul narration contextualising Batman or Bane? Both are unwavering super-identities locked into abstract extinction arcs. I wonder if it'll turn out that Bane's American adventures are sponsored by the League of Shadows? His reliance on psychotropic psychosis enhancers is certainly consistent with their MO.

THUNG



Difficult to know what to make of this brief tease for The Thing, the unwanted prequel to John Carpenter's 1982 Antarctic apocalypse. The footage has been well received, but all I'm seeing is a karaoke drag-act, with the demure Ms Winstead standing in for weirdy beardy Kurt Russell. Many shots look like straight lifts from the Carpenter calibration, even aping Dean Cundey's overripe location lensing. The creature's barely glimpsed - likely due to the all-ages rating for this shill - but the brief convulsion snatches we do see suggest shape homage. Fuck that noise! The whole premise of the creature is a revoltingly utilitarian approach to dimension. It rends and tears its flesh and bone to fit objective. The idea that it could have default guises and sizes not only undermines Rob Bottin's (and Stan Winston's) kaleidoscopic SFX work on the '82 model, it also goes some way to making the creature seem uniform and dull. Hopefully the splendidly named director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr, whose priors include a feature about a homicidal lift, will prove me pessimistic.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Zombie Zombie - Assault on Precinct 13 (Main Title)

This Time It's War



Aliens is 25 today. Happy Birthday Aliens! Like The Godfather Part II, Aliens is a follow-up that examines the characters and situations of its forebear, pulling them in directions antithetical to your usual repeat-em-up sequel think. Aliens is successful, in part, because it's interested in the character of Ellen Ripley. She hasn't been reset between pictures so she can endure the same expectation mandated arc. Instead her further adventure is informed by the past we've seen her experience; she's been mutated by it. Ripley is no longer a company stooge, she's an individual nursing a keen sense of personal responsibility. She doesn't wait for the alien to come to her, she seeks it out. She wants to destroy it. It doesn't hinder Aliens that it's also full of cool cool action beats and sweary space marines.

GOD GINRAI

Concept Prime



This is an Optimus Prime I can get behind! Although colour correct, the Optimus Prime seen in the Michael Bay Transformers flicks is calibrated with male ideal dimensions. He's all tight waist, and booming chest. A truck cab vanished into fracturing layers of mechanical musculature. The design stresses organic, I'd prefer something a little more blocky, like the above idea. This design has playset flavours; the body armour synchronicity between Optimus Prime and his usually useless trailer compartment recalls the God Ginrai draft of the outline from Transformers: Super-God Masterforce. Head on over to Massive Black's blog for more anime slanted Prime conceptions, including a few spikey enough to resemble Evangelions.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

NEO TOKYO IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE



Off to see Akira tonight, it's been scheduled on a great big screen at my local art house cinema, FACT, as part of a benefit for the Tohoku Earthquake relief fund. Just to include you, here's Streamline's trailer for their dubbed American issue of Akira; usually seen dumped (to get you pumped) on the front-end of many first wave releases from UK home video label Manga Entertainment.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon



The mistake I keep making with Michael Bay's Transformers films - besides actually paying to see them - is an assumption that anyone involved considers the titular robots with any level of interest outside of a CG prop designed to shill toys. Blocky 1980s favourites are recalibrated into sexualised insects complete with writhing mechanical muscles, then pimped like they matter in gasping, eye-catch teaser trailers.

I am tempted to imagine the Transformers portrayed as characters, with agendas and interests, rather than the dull tech-demo mish-mashes they end up being. There's a brief brief joy in hearing Leonard Nimoy cast as yet another renegade Transformer, but that nostalgia bubble is quickly popped by a paucity of screentime and tone deaf Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan quotes. Unfortunately, in Transformers: Dark of the Moon it's not just the robots that operate solely as unthinking popcorn prods, the humans are unspeakable voids too.

Everytwat hero Sam Witwicky is a screaming, shaking mess. Every interaction is an impatient twitch masking his repressed, impotent violence. When not the direct target for his total abuse, girlfriend Carly Spencer haunts frame fringes, avoiding eye-contact and smiling passively. Instead of any recognisable strain of comedy we get Witwicky convulsing and capering, flinging himself around in an agitated frenzy while statue still straight men patiently wait to say something stupid. In fiction, his constant ego vomiting must be endured - he's special.

Who the fuck is Sam designed to appeal to? Sociopathic date rapists? Shut-in loners with a heaving sense of entitlement? Sam plays like a prank character. It's impossible to even imagine a moment were he was considered a likeable lead. There's a vague sense of fun trying to puzzle out who he's meant to represent. Maybe he's an unconscious collaboration between writer and actor to thrust their fuhrer think director into the limelight? Like Bay, Sam's all hissyfits and gimme misogyny.

The character's withering expectation and total entitlement could just as easily be read as a reflection of the perceived audience - an Ain't It Cool News commentator dumped front and centre in a Summer blow-out feature. His only talent is to bitch and hate his way through proceedings, stressed that his superior narrative knowledge isn't shared by the peons bumbling around beside him.

Either way, it's a vile performance, a concise demonstration of the emotional incompetence endemic to Michael Bay. As a director, and perhaps even as a man, he is utterly incapable of subtlety. Everything is pointlessly aggressive and hysterical, thus barely anything registers. You're beaten into submission. Civilians are vapourised, buildings topple, and my favourite childhood toy zips around like an angry wasp, but nothing lands. Nothing is exciting. It's all mulch. The film never sits still. No-one thinks. It's just more, more, more, more. Total excess, punched into your mind for nearly three hours. £15 for an IMAX 3D headache.

Laser Blast



Another stark Atari 2600 Game Room alumni; Laser Blast is notable for being an early effort by Pitfall designer David Crane, and for a pounding monotony that easily feeds into attainable high-scoring. Players control a single golden flying saucer, cursed to roam featureless expanses, frying trios of ground based resistance with pulsing purple death rays. Clock up a thousand points, easily accomplished once your multiplier starts to multiply, and you get a reinforcement. On a peak point earn you'll be chalking up ninety points per kill, adding an extra try for every four screens cleared. Once you've got yourself locked into a twitch and shoot pattern, you'll be near invincible.

The game doesn't change either; it's always the same enemies, trapped in the same world. Eventually your real foe becomes complacency. You'll break out of locked extermination sequence, trying to showboat, causing your craft to be mercilessly shot out the sky. A short, sharp shock, forcing you to readjust back to mechanical input. You must comply. Successful interaction with Laser Blast is rapidly shifting into place, and firing. Pause, or miss your shot, and you'll be punished with a lethally instant retaliation blast from below. Your only real means of self-expression exists when you fail. Once destroyed, enemy attack sequences freeze allowing you, if you so wish, to adjust the fall of your dying craft so that your wreckage lands on the enemy. They won't even attempt to move. They expect to die. Although terminally basic, Laser Blast is interesting because it exists as a kind of benign hypnotic funk. You're constantly rewarded with points and lives, simply for memorising a brief series of button taps. The game never gets harder or easier. It's just a static, endless, war of attrition. Who will get bored first?

Vox Pop



Building on that E3 minute and change, here's a whole quarter-hour of BioShock: Infinite's roller coaster sky world. Our last peak stressed action; this expanded clip details the lightly tender back-and-forth between player character Booker DeWitt and super-charming NPC Elizabeth - who bears more than a passing resemblance to The Guardian's beauty columnist Sali Hughes. The relationship seems like a neat inversion of the Big Daddy / Little Sister dynamic from the previous two series installment, with the player cast as an accomplice rather than an agitator. We are also allowed a more sustained gander at Columbia, the World's Fair dirigible setting, designed to sell American exceptionalism abroad, currently experiencing a total sociological meltdown. Also glimpsed is Elizabeth's ability to sneak a peak at the kind of evil 80s last seen in Back to the Future Part II.

The Big Pink - Velvet

Sketch Monday: Klegg



Leafing through copy paper review notes, I came across this doodle of a Klegg. Debuting in Judge Dredd mega epic The Day The Law Died, a Klegg is a giant, carnivore mercenary from outer space that'll only accept their payment in meat. Chief Judge Cal found them FASCINATING.

Monday, 4 July 2011

LASERBEAK

LA Noire: Nicholson Electroplating



Placed deep in LA Noire's final act, Nicholson Electroplating interrupts, then diverges the established narrative with what initially appears to be total calamity. Phelps's serial story recapping is nixed mid-flow by a mushroom cloud blossoming on the horizon. Your partner briefly frets about a Soviet extinction invasion before duty instinct kicks in. Leaping into your patrol car, the two of you peel towards the devastation. The sky is black, the streets washed brown with debris, a fine rain of glittery fallout drifting down from above.

Your destination marker leads you through trauma shock LA to a row of shops being ransacked by armed opportunists. Like any good disaster cop, you pull a bead on two of the harder cases, chase them down, then coolly execute them. Unfortunately, intent soon shifts. The sky rapidly clears - turns out the explosion was sub-sub-nuclear - and you spend the rest of the case trailing pimps, with a taste for industrial espionage, on the Howard Hughes payroll. Nicholson Electroplating is a colourful enough beat, but it never lives up to the promise of its opening seconds. That teased a speculative nightmare scenario; the player desperately scrambling to restore a vague sense of order following an overwhelming atomic attack. This DLC could have been a complete genre recalibration in the vein of Red Dead Redemption's Undead Nightmare installment, instead it's just another diverting post-retail chapter.

Incredible Lines



Cartoon Bruce Banner giving us great ascension face on the way to becoming your standard Lou Ferrigno / Groovy Age Incredible Hulk. This short animated clip must stand as one of the most honest small screen representations of the Marvel Comics ethos, what with Stan Lee wittering on, needlessly explaining everything we're already seeing. Music cue sounds eerily similar to similar distress melodies heard in the first season of Sunbow's The Transformers cartoon too.

Ben Folds Five - Missing the War