Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Films 2014

5. Sabotage















Hidden deep within the relentless hostility is a thesis on star power and the incompatibility of our 80s relics with modern, team orientated action fictions. With this in mind Sabotage's key moment comes when Schwarzenegger's Breacher discovers his family have been kidnapped by a cartel. This information comes to light out on an airport runway with a private jet to hand. Mooks on standby, ready to be blazed through.

Schwarzenegger's team resists, they swarm him, restraining him. An 80s action narrative is bubbling up, Commando come again, but this false, self-proclaimed family won't allow it to happen. In doing so, they fail Breacher. They should have smoked those Federales on principle, piled into the jet then crashed themselves into the nearest drug compound.

That never happened and Breacher hates them for it. That's all I could think about watching Sabotage, Schwarzenegger had been denied an instinctual, suicidal impulse. His team should've wanted to die gloriously in their commander's service but they didn't. For all their bluster about brotherhood they weren't truly committed to him, or his psychotic ideals, so he stopped loving them. They ceased to be allies or even people in his eyes. Their short-comings transformed them into grist for Schwarzenegger the walking Gulag, fuel to be consumed and excreted on the way to a petty, self-destructive revenge.

Original Review


4. The Raid 2












What are we getting out of superhero films? The colourful application of overwhelming force? What backs up the anger? What emotions drive these heroes? Do they even suffer? Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits harder than the usual dross because Cap is trying to coax a friend out of a lethal, amnesic funk. It's lip service though. Neither body is broken. Cap's life isn't on the line. Nothing is lost.

In The Raid 2 Rama gives everything he has. He turns his back on his wife and newborn for a bullshitted abstract. He compromises his morality, his identity even, to stay hidden. In a finale fight with a slash happy equal his body is pummelled, gouged, and rended. Rama takes an incredible amount of punishment and still keeps coming. That's the kind of superheroism I can key into. Obstinate, illogical, and utterly devoid of any sense of self-preservation.

Original Review


3. '71


















You don't hear a great deal about The Troubles over here. Despite lasting the best part of three decades you're more likely to read about a 74 day conflict with Argentina over the invasion of a distant archipelago. I suppose it's like anything. People are only directed to care about outbreaks and resolutions, the difficult, messy centre is to be glossed over with rhetoric and forgotten.

Go in with zero knowledge, as I more or less did, and '71 is almost like something out of Action or 2000 AD, a terrifying occupation war being fought on the same kind of densely terraced streets you see all over my city. Turns out everywhere that came up during the Industrial Revolution looks the same. All the people sound similar too. It happened 300 miles away and you know fuck all about it. It makes you feel ashamed.

Original Review


2. The Wind Rises














"I've become sceptical of the unwritten rule that just because a boy and a girl appear in the same feature, a romance must ensue. Rather, I want to portray a slightly different relationship, one where the two mutually inspire each other to live - if I'm able to, then perhaps I'll be closer to portraying a true expression of love." 
- Hayao Miyazaki

Original Review


1. Inside Llewyn Davis















I've read a few reviews of Inside Llewyn Davis in which the author hasn't been sure if Davis is supposed to be talented or not. Their take from the Coen Brothers' latest is a pitch black comedy in which a marginally capable person rubs up against failure and refuses to change. For them his craft is indistinguishable from the manufactured graspers he rubs shoulders with. Presumably this failure to connect makes every performance a kind of cosmic punchline in which we are expected to shake our heads and grin at the delusional man with the guitar.

For me Llewyn is obviously, painfully gifted. When he performs diegetic sound dies off, Davis is the focus. During gigs the film's soundtrack is dominated by Oscar Isaac's vocal range. Edits and shots attempt nothing more complicated than a relaxed glance around the show. The meat is always the singing, from hushed, melodic whispers to the peeling, agitated roars of Davis' solo performance of Fare Thee Well. The arrangement is like a fight film or a musical, everything stops dead to drink Llewyn in. We see him in his moment, briefly triumphant and unyielding. Inside Llewyn Davis is a beautiful film about feeling like you're banging your head against a wall. No-one cares, no-one's interested. The only consolation to people in this situation is that at least they're pulping their brains for their own ends and not compromised, in service to someone else.

Original Review

Also Liked:

Under the Skin / Interstellar / The Guest / Map to the Stars / Blue Ruin / The Wolf of Wall Street / The Grand Budapest Hotel / Edge of Tomorrow / The Amazing Spider-Man 2 / Dawn of the Planet of the Apes / Transformers: Age of Extinction

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Video Games 2014

5. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
















After years of stuttering action adventure games Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition offered a brief glimpse of what it was like to own a maxed out PC rig. After sinking entirely too much money into a current gen system I wanted something to show it off. Although essentially a last-gen game given a cursory makeover, Tomb Raider was made new again by the kind of frame rate and control responsiveness usually reserved for extreme action games. Tomb Raider stood out against the rest of the first-quarter releases, its platform shooting the best of an early crop that tended to skew basic and uninvolving.

4. Desert Golfing
















My favourite thing about Desert Golfing is the sound design. Everything is satisfying in its simplicity, from the hollow PUTT when you strike a ball to the crunchy Atari 2600 fizz when you finally manage to sink it. There's no music, no extraneous noises. There's basically nothing. Desert Golfing is relaxing, like someone reached into heyday The Simpsons and dragged out a weird adjunct in the Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge series.

3. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and PT






























Two KojiPro demos that deliver concise, excellent experiences. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes wows thanks to some carefully considered controls. Snake is wonderful to manoeuvre, Hideo Kojima having long since left behind the awkward, claw set-ups of earlier Metal Gears, crafting an interaction model more in line with recent stealth stand outs Hitman: Absolution and The Last of Us.

Ground Zeroes' inputs tend towards simple prods and holds based around how physically taxing each action will be for the player character. There's a constant sense of immersion, risk versus reward. Want to pick that lock? You'll have to sit out in the open while Snake gets to work jimmying it. Snake also moves with an impressive clip, keeping a brisk pace even if he's lying face down and crawling. You'll need all the help you can get. On Hard Ground Zeroes' guards never fail to pursue noises, or really anything out of the ordinary, when conducting sweeps.

PT does as much with even less. The entire game experience is one L-shaped corridor that repeats incessantly. After a few loops new details start to bleed in. You notice the squalor, key colours change, a presence or two makes themselves known. You might even gain access to a bathroom.

PT gives you something mundane then tweaks it over and over, adding jarring sounds and piling on the unease until you don't even want to move. There's no sense of escape, make it to the other end of the corridor and you're back where you started. Games tend to be about progress, ticking up a number or a value. In exploration games you learn the cues that signal you're on the right track - new paths, key items, enemies to fight. PT has none of this, progress is obscure and contradictory. A breakthrough might be stabbing at the analog sticks while on an options screen or examining an item you've already looked at twelve times before.

2. The Last of Us: Left Behind
















The best standalone DLC since Minerva's Den for BioShock 2, The Last of Us: Left Behind is a short, supplementary campaign that comes on like an adjunct but ends up being a way for Naughty Dog to explode the form and function of their game. Left Behind is an even split between a romantic stroll through a dilapidated mall with your best friend and a fraught struggle to locate medical supplies in a similar space months later.

Pace in the former is largely dictated by the player, you can rush to conclusions or try and wring out every single item or dialogue prompt. Gunplay and distraction mechanics become literal games, part of your bonding experience with the friend who has returned. You can smash windows competitively or chase each other around a Hi Fi separates store with Super Soakers. The object here isn't survival, it's the simulation of interpersonal connections. Friendship blossoming into desperate, teenage affection.

1. Destiny
















Destiny is a tremendous disappointment, particularly for a studio so adept at lacing action setpieces around po-faced intergalactic fictions. Destiny has none of this. There's nothing here to touch Halo 3's Scarab attack, bosses in Destiny are usually scaled up generics with infinite health bars. This dismay is compounded by a post-release maintenance schedule that prioritises wild goose chases and exorbitantly priced DLC.

Fuck all that though, I had my fun. I hadn't gotten caught up in the pre-release hype and I certainly didn't expect to get ten years worth of play out of it. All I wanted was a multiplayer destination. The deciding factor in even purchasing Destiny was knowing I had a ready-made fireteam of work mates chomping at the bit. Co-op can elevate any game, the interplay with your buddies trumping any of the cackhanded moments the game makers have prepared. This emphasis on palling around made a virtue out of Destiny's insignificant framing - barring the pre-gameplay pep talk cum loading screens, there wasn't much story getting in your way. Destiny was all shooting, all the time.

What makes Destiny kind of exceptional is a moment-to-moment gameplay model that is nothing but satisfactory feedback. Shooting is rapid and fun, headshots are unusually easy to score. Mundane tasks stay agreeable far longer than they have any right to purely on the ease of interaction. It's no exaggeration to say that just firing your weapon in the vague direction of an enemy was fun - if it hadn't been people wouldn't have gotten so obsessed with the loot cave. Destiny only really becomes unsatisfactory when you consider the variety of things being shot. Enemies never evolve, locations stay very similar. Destiny is a basic call and response so finely tuned that if the wallpaper changed often enough you'd be playing forever.

Also Liked:

Far Cry 4 / Raiden IV: OverKill / Wolfenstein: The New Order / Alien: Isolation / Escape Goat 2 / Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare / The Uncle Who Works For Nintendo

Gutted I Missed:

Titanfall / Sunset Overdrive / Everything Nintendo put out - the Kyoto company had a banner year.

Jasper Byrne - Decade Dance / Voyager (2015 Mix)

Monday, 22 December 2014

Music 2014

5. Perturbator - Future Club / Humans Are Such Easy Prey





Video game power fantasy music. If I close my eyes listening to this all I can see is a 16-bit Michael Biehn sprite scaling ladders and hurling grenades at indifferent Schwarzeneggers. Matt Furniss as fuck.

4. Taylor Swift - Blank Space



Sharing a personal stereo with my girl, getting driven to London.

3. Le Matos - Kiyoko



Geinoh Yamashirogumi's Kaneda reinterpreted by Le Matos doing Zombie Zombie doing John Carpenter doing Ennio Morricone.

2. Nice Try - No Good / Feels Right





Sounds like shoegazey Blur b-sides sung by someone else.

1. Lana Del Rey - Shades of Cool



A drunken midnight confessional from one of the poor women Lee Marvin brutalises in Point Blank. David Lynch looks on, scribbling notes.

Also Liked:

La Roux - Let Me Down Gently / Futurecop! - NASA / Forth Wanderers - Tough Love / Lazerhawk - Demo / Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk ft. Bruno Mars / Michael Jackson & Justin Timberlake - Love Never Felt So Good / Greyhat - Departure / Mac DeMarco - Let Her Go / Run the Jewels - Blockbuster Night Part 1 / Kiesza - Hideaway

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Jackie Chan in the 1980s - The Cannonball Run
















The best thing that can be said about Hal Needham's The Cannonball Run is that a lot of the stunts look genuinely dangerous. Needham's team excel at making vehicles appear completely out of control. Cars and planes lurch uncontrollably before their pilots administer an expert, last minute correction. Unfortunately these visceral dangers are fleeting, the majority of Cannonball is spent in the company of boozy celebrity capering. Although Roger Moore is fun as a delusional lothario, Jackie Chan is wasted as an inexplicably Japanese racer who'd rather sneak a look at Golden Age pornos than drive his computerised Subaru.

Chan and his navigator (Hong Kong comedian Michael Hui) speak in a garbled mix of Japanese, Cantonese and Mandarin, their scenes bracketed by racist musical riffs. These indelicacies become even more bizarre when you consider Golden Harvest bankrolled the film. Chan's moment in the sun comes late in the day, helping to fight off some sleazy bikers during a brief pause in the competition. Chan even stays to thrash a few more goons when the race resumes, ploughing through nobodies with energetic high-kicks. The most consistent barrier to enjoying The Cannonball Run though, apart from a deeply uncharismatic turn by Burt Reynolds, is that it doesn't really have any punchlines. There are comedic premises, we understand jokes are in play, but they never reach a satisfactory conclusion.

Star Wars by Olly Moss


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Jackie Chan in the 1980s - Battle Creek Brawl













Presumably the highest budgeted Bruceploitation film ever, Battle Creek Brawl sees Jackie Chan's natural charisma drowned out by Robert Clouse's static set-ups and Lalo Schifrin's twangy jazz score. Unlike in Hong Kong were Chan is able to burn through takes on a Kubrickian scale in pursuit of perfection, here the star is forced to settle for 'good enough'. This unpolished approach to action is something of a mixed blessing. At its best, Chan's moves acquire a scrappy desperation absent from his highly drilled Hong Kong work. At their worst, they read like fluffed takes.

As with Enter the Dragon, Clouse shoots his lead on a diagonal axis for vendetta fights. Chan pushes from the top right of the frame to the bottom left, stamping and snapping along the way. Unlike Dragon though, there's very little coverage. Clouse never uses the POV size-ups or injury inserts that made Dragon's climatic fight between Bruce Lee and Shih Kien so thrilling. When Jackie's uncle Mako gets an extreme close-up on his eye-line it feels like something from a completely different film. Brawl's not all bad. Jackie Chan and Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Comedy actress Kristine DeBell make a sweet couple, and, if nothing else, it allows viewers the opportunity to see Chan ducking and weaving around brawny, outlaw territory wrestlers.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

GUSOLINE



Mad Max: Fury Road continues to look amazing. Every other action film due next year is in deep shit.

Jackie Chan in the 1980s - The Young Master













Although more a series of disjointed sketches than a strictly structured film, The Young Master is something of a how-to guide for framing action for maximum impact. Director Jackie Chan progresses fluidly between several distinct approaches, always complimentary to the movement and processes being conveyed.

The film opens with an extended, duelling Lion Dance shot primarily in a series of sustained masters that both simulates the point-of-view of the assembled crowd and demonstrates the difficulty of the performance. We spend so much time watching the dancers cavorting inside the bamboo lion heads that the beasts start to register as characters themselves. Chan holds on the performances so that the details can sink in. The lions are bashful and violent, balanced on human legs that strike and trap. Chan's character, Dragon Lung, is introduced as skilled certainly, but more importantly Lung demonstrates the ability to move in perfect harmony with another.

Elsewhere Chan's camera is energetic, participating with the on-screen action in several different ways. During a supplementary fight with a bully from a rival school the frame tracks Lung twirling an ornate fan around his opponent. Chan zooms in and out on particularly delicate actions, timed in the edit to simulate another hit or beat. The camera engages with the fighters, landing its own blows. Chan also uses zooms to crudely replicate emotional states. During a tense, shame-filled moment between a disappointed Kung Fu master and his treacherous pupil the camera repeatedly crashes in on their faces, building a lurching, sickly tempo.

Hwang In-Shik's high-kicking introduction is built around demonstrating the speed and ferocity of this terrifying villain. Freed by his fellow outlaws, Hwang's Master Kim batters everyone in sight. To add to the hysteria, Chan cues up Gustav Holst's Mars, the Bringer of War for background music. Set-ups are edited quicker and quicker, building a demented, thrashing rhythm. Kim's snappy kicks send hapless mooks from one end of the 2.35:1 frame to the other. The camera also tilts down violently to emphasise the descent of the crumbling, defeated bodies. Master Kim is pure, unconquerable power. Even his associates tremble in his presence. He doesn't need them - he's one man acting alone.

The Young Master concludes with an atypical take on final confrontations. Usually there's a sense that two equals are meeting, the bad guy undone by resting on his laurels or a fatal attempt at cheating. The Young Master doesn't attempt either idea. Kim is obviously, persistently the dominant fighter. Over the course of this lopsided battle Lung is subjected to unbelievable suffering. His arms are locked and bent, fingers are broken, his body is tossed around like a rag. It's an approach that shows a refreshing lack of ego on Chan's part. He's not trying to compete with Hwang's skill set.

Dramatically it also makes Kim a mountain to be scaled, playing into the one crucial thing we've learned about Chan's character - he's psychotically determined. When Lung finally lands a punch it's a euphoric moment. Time stalls as he realises what he's done, joy spreading to every corner of his face in glacial slow motion. Of course, this is followed by one of Hwang's trademark Cinemascope kicks. Chan impresses here in his ability to move in and around Hwang's relentless attacks. He doesn't just stand there, heroically absorbing the punishment, he's a victim tossing himself around manically, accentuating the impacts.

Lung then spends a lot of the fight dramatically passive, existing as a vessel to communicate Hwang's world-class talents. Tremendously outclassed, all Lung can do is wriggle around his opponent. He's the stunt man elevated to a leading role, driven mad by the hardships his body has had to endure. When, after almost half an hour of torment, the human punching bag finally gets the upper hand it's because he's guzzled opium water and basically gone insane. The tumbles and catapulting Chan used to accentuate Hwang's assault become Lung's arsenal. His body is completely numb and can therefore be used as an eleven stone projectile. Dragon Lung doesn't win because he's better than Master Kim, instead he triumphs by simply refusing to give up.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

PSX - Uncharted 4: A Thief's End



Uncharted 4: A Thief's End looks fun. Instead of ruthlessly separating gunplay and gymnastics, why not string them together in an unbroken stream of mountain grappling, zoning, and brawling? Based on this footage, Naughty Dog is taking the same stealth sandbox approach as The Last of Us, adding some verticality into that heady mix.

PSX - Gimme Indie





As the year is draws to a close, it's time to compile best-of lists and beat yourself up over all the cool stuff you either didn't see or never got around to playing. Video games pose a particular problem - in order to gorge yourself on everything available you have to buy a fleet of dedicated machinery. Thankfully (for me, since I've only forked out for a PS4) Sony are muscling their way towards a mini-monopoly, meaning two of this year's biggest misses - Shovel Knight and Super Time Force - are due on Sony's system sometime next year.

Tell Your Sister... (Blue) by Dan McDaid


Destiny in Detail - Worries for the Future



What I'm enjoying most about Matt Lees' Destiny videos is the constant back-and-forth in how he describes the game. Destiny is obviously, and persistently, a quality product, there's just nowhere near enough of it. Really, the majority of my objections about the game are about how Bungie have rationed their higher level content.

Jackie Chan - How to Do Action Comedy by Tony Zhou



Tony Zhou talks us through the incomparable genius of Jackie Chan, breaking down what it is that keeps his contribution to action cinema so vital. Zhou's point about pain and fallibility is especially important. If there's no sense that your heroes are out of their depth, then what are the stakes?

Jackie Chan is especially significant because his on-screen suffering doesn't tend to be emotional. Instead it's hardship expressed as visceral, bone-breaking movement. It's cinema. You don't even need to understand the words, Chan's films can be watched raw. Jackie Chan is dedicated to demonstrating how the hero can be injured, but will never break.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks as 20XX delves into the most active stage of Jackie Chan's career - the 1980s.

Friday, 5 December 2014

The Dark Judges by Carlos Ezquerra


Destiny in Detail - Is the Loot System Fair?



Matt Lees makes a convincing case for the longevity of Destiny's multiplayer. A couple of weeks in and I'm already feeling fatigued with its major opposition (and publisher stablemate) Advanced Warfare. I've only played Sledgehammer's game off-and-on so everyone else has long since worked out the best places to set up camp, and which routes to take. Given the fractional health, latency is much more pronounced in AW. Destiny's longer time-to-kill helps to conceal much of these match-up issues, providing an overall fairer feeling experience.

VICTORY



After six years of updates and tweaking, we're finally getting another numbered Street Fighter game. Somewhere in this corporate lifestyle reel is a quick glimpse of Ryu and Chun-Li battling it out in Street Fighter V. At the very least a timed exclusive on Sony's console, which explains Ryu driving around in a cab in those release day PS4 adverts, SFV looks like it's going for a less cartoony design approach. There are no close-ups of howling faces during super move wind-ups and characters are lithe and lined compared to their Street Fighter IV drafts.

The Klams - The Elves Are Back In Town

BluntOne - All We Got Iz Us / Rockers



Thursday, 4 December 2014

GENISYS



This Terminator: Genisys trailer is a strange experience. It comes on strong with re-purposed scenes and ideas from the Jim Cameron entries before morphing into a full-on Marvel movie. If nothing else, it looks like Alan Taylor's film finally gets the complete future war prologue from Terminator 2: Judgment Day's tie-in novelisation on-screen. LA 2029 is a looker too. The human resistance, and their skeletal enemies, are lit like they're fighting in a city sized version of Tech Noir.

Although Jason Clarke is appropriately weathered as John Connor, Jai Courtney is a bizarre substitute for Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese. Courtney has zero of Biehn's wirey, malnourished intensity, the actor instead reads as a sub-Tatum, beefy, romantic lead. Chicken breasts and protein shakes must be widely available in the wasteland. This obvious sop to demographics is leavened by Emilia Clarke's Sarah Connor immediately subordinating her new boy toy.

I wonder how screenwriters Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier will handle this Sarah? The T2 fringe and ponytail would seem to indicate an all-business approach, perhaps even a character that views her coupling with Reese as a necessary transaction in the process of creating a messiah. Presumably this Sarah is fully aware for how the following decades will unfold. Clarke's youthful, bratty demeanour, not to mention her cyborg father figure, mean this characterisation will probably be closer to Edward Furlong's John Connor than any previous Sarah.

Which leaves us with The Terminators. Lee Byung-hun looks great when he's running around 1980s alleyways, less so when he's hurling his body parts around like spears. Conceptually, there's an instant pop in the idea of a T-1000 interposing itself into The Terminator. It's reminiscent of Frank Miller's Skynet from RoboCop Versus The Terminator - an elemental, God-like force that overwrites time incessantly until it arrives at an advantageous path. It's a situation here born of sequel escalation, but the idea of chaotic agents arriving unexpectedly is pure Terminator.

Surprisingly, Schwarzenegger looks like a bit of a fifth wheel. Aside from junking his youthful doppelgänger, and ticking off another aborted Cameron sequel in the process, it doesn't look like he has much to do. Perhaps it's a sign of the star's waning power? This doesn't look like a top billed role, more a special appearance. Also, a protector Terminator hurling itself out of one helicopter to detonate another is just fucking stupid. At the very least, he's just nixed his camouflage.

It's a shame that Genisys isn't designed to take place on one long night. Even in this brief glimpse there's a sense of bloat. As the trailer rolls on we get further and further into anonymous, boringly framed second-unit work. The afternoon bus flip in particular is straight out of a Marvel sequel. Kramer Morgenthau ain't no Adam Greenberg either. I can see why the cinematographer got the gig, aside from priors with Taylor, his work on the Sleepy Hollow pilot nicely tracked an undying thing through a series of night shoots.

It's hilarious though to note that a two hundred million dollar Summer blockbuster can't wring out the same level of grimey verisimilitude as a six million dollar, non-union shoot. I know it's an entirely different genre - this is Terminator as a palatable franchise proposition rather than a thriller - but threat has taken a back seat. The shot of the T-1000's cop car arrival is, despite the much higher stakes, strangely perfunctory. Compare it to a similar sequence in the original. Cameron and Greenberg signal terrestrial danger with blaring sounds and lights. Taylor and co could have at least hosed the streets down and given the film that sweaty, post-storm texture.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

AWAKEN



Star Wars hasn't looked this visually dynamic since Genndy Tartakovsky was quietly shown the door. Stylistically our first look at Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens is the complete opposite of the static wides used to tease Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. Instead we've got John Boyega stumbling towards us gasping and the camera pushing-in on Daisy Ridley dressed like a Ralph McQuarrie doodle. A trio of tight close-ups reintroduce us to the Empire's bully boys, the clipped, insert inflected energy of the shots stressing something almost hand-held. Everything's moving, from the Falcon's graceful loop de loop to the hammering, lopsided stride of the newest Sith lord.

Judge Dredd by Simon Bisley


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

CLEVER GIRL



Last weekend I trudged around London's Natural History Museum looking at all their monster bones. Despite a lack of Tyrannosaurus rex (the King is only completely present as a twitchy robot replica) the exhibit was fun. They had wrought iron replicas commissioned by Princes, remains of all the big hitter herbivores, and even a G1 Grimlock and some Black Zoids tucked away in a glass display case. This last detail felt especially emblematic of a tour rooted explicitly in a late-80s idea of pre-history, something Jurassic World seems to absolutely revel in.

Based on these glimpses, Trevorrow's terrible lizards are boringly classicist. Drab olives and greys for skin, zero spines or feathers, and, because they don't trust the material, a monstrous gene spliced threat inherited from an 'extreme!' 1990s toyline. Jurassic World was an opportunity to throw around some new information and challenge the preconceived ideas people have about dinosaurs. We could have had a dangerous, omnivore Triceratops gobbling up kids or a Tyrannosaur covered in barbed, downy feathers.

That last one could have been especially great. Introduce the Rex as a bashful thing, almost ashamed of what we've found out about it. Then, as soon as the Park falls apart, sell incredibly hard on the idea that this thing is the most terrifying beast on the planet. Every other scene should be Rex triumphing over some puny contender. Instead of replaying Spielberg beats for nostalgia money, the filmmakers should've sat down and gobbled up some monster-as-protagonist fiction. World's Tyrannosaur should be as visually distinctive as Ricardo Delgado's Age of Reptiles, as Machiavellian as Pat Mills and Mike McMahon's Satanus, and as invincible in a straight fight as Shusuke Kaneko's apex heel Godzilla.

GOJIRA X MACARONI



Steven Sloss makes excellent use of impassive men firing rifles and the soupy injury effects in Jun Fukuda's Godzilla films, crafting a nifty, time travelling conflict between the King of Monsters and two Macaroni megastars. Godzilla as a big game target is a pretty great concept too. It fits in nicely between the moneyed plutocrat who thinks he has a close, personal relationship with a God of Destruction in Godzilla vs King Ghidorah and Godzilla 2000's boring storm chasers.

Scrivello's short also delivers on Toho's habit of abortive, would-be crossovers. Hoping to repeat the success of the studio's King Kong match-up, Shinichi Sekizawa proposed a Batman vs Godzilla project in the mid-60s. Details are scarce regarding Sekizawa's treatment but in my mind's eye Adam West and Burt Ward have been blasted with a growth ray and are high-fiving the Big G over King Ghidorah's cooling corpse.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Rumble in the Bronx


















In an attempt to finally crack the American market, Jackie Chan is transplanted to New York for some Crocodile Dundee culture clash. Viewed today Rumble in the Bronx is refreshing on several levels. Firstly, Chan makes very little attempt to modify his policeman persona for his new audience. Chan is portrayed as deeply, remorselessly, uncool. No attempt is made to disguise the fact that Chan is a middle-aged man either. He doesn't have any cool affectations or props and everything he wears is made out of stone washed denim. Neither is Chan particularly aggressive. When cornered by a pack of delinquent bikers Chan doesn't batter his way through. He flees, cowering in an alleyway.

Despite ditching on a convenience store job (and a more age appropriate pairing with Anita Mui) to romance Françoise Yip's lingerie model, Chan is positioned as a stable, responsible adult. His presence immediately straightens out his new squeeze and the petty criminals she runs with. Chan admonishes them for wasting their lives, making a heartfelt plea for peace. Contemporary kids must've rolled their eyes into the fucking ground. In that sense Chan is taking a similar tact to Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop. Both films juggle action and social responsibility, transforming an action vehicle into a brochure for an after-school fitness programme. Masculinity is likewise equated with the ability to give back to your community.

As ever, Jackie Chan is an absolute joy to watch. His narcy, straight-laced character informs the psychological pace of film's action. Fights are tight and frenzied, with lots of inserts of smashing glass and bloody, alarming, escalation. Chan flings himself around mercilessly, demonstrating that he doesn't need any green screen assistance. He is the special effect. The star scrambles all over urban detritus, hijacking a series of exciting vehicles to crash into his enemies. Director Stanley Tong overcranks the action so that we can always recognise Jackie Chan within the danger. Time stalls so we can gaze at Chan's actual body tumbling towards something solid and indifferent. Flubs aren't concealed either. Deep in the third act a key stunt obviously goes very wrong. Chan's ankle bends and breaks as he lands on a speeding hovercraft. His character doesn't even flinch. He's too busy rolling towards a Mafia goon to even care.

HARDCORE / Biting Elbows - Bad Motherfucker



Ilya Naishuller's proof-of-concept reel for Hardcore, a POV shoot-out film starring Sharlto Copley as a World War II Tommy, and produced by Night Watch's Timur Bekmambetov. Skip to 3:58 if you want to knuckle down to the carnage. Naishuller came to Bekmambetov's attention after completing a first-person short / music video entitled Bad Motherfucker.



Naishuller's work impresses in the same way as the unbroken hospital takes in Hard Boiled do. We're treated to long, gasping gawps at actors charting a course through a building rigged with explosives. They have to remember their lines and hit their marks if they want to keep their fingers. Naishuller is currently running an Indiegogo campaign to get the movie finished. Donate enough scratch and you can nab yourself one of the many Go-Pros the team trashed.

Adventure Time #35 by Jimmy Giegerich


Monday, 3 November 2014

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - GET RAVAGED



TheSandyRavage wrecking straight out the gate, natch, on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Ravage runs with an oversized, drainpipe shotgun that looks straight out of Sylvester Stallone's Judge Dredd. I think this is the scattergun that fires 'directed energy' rather than something useful like, I don't know, lead?

Friday, 31 October 2014

Retro-Ahoy: Half-Life



Stuart Brown casts his analytical eye over Half-Life for the first in a more detailed retrospective series. Brown is a bit of a treasure. He doesn't rely on manufactured excitement or a cynical gimmick, instead he turns out short, snappy information pieces. He's basically the BBC2 of video game culture.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Sabotage















Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a Great Ape in charge of a team of heavily armed Juggalos. Sabotage plays like an old man fantasy with Schwarzenegger's Breacher as the elder gent able to run intellectual rings around the kids. His age makes him mythic and untouchable in their eyes, an abstract idea of masculine supremacy. The kids fucked up though. Although an idea of fraternity or family is repeatedly stressed, usually by the subordinates, it's clear Schwarzenegger has other ideas. Initially Sabotage seems to be a Friday the 13th instalment with Schwarzenegger as a monstrous bogeyman ticking off his disappointing children.

Sabotage, as it turns out, is instead about how disposable everybody else in your life is when measured against loved ones. Schwarzenegger allows his team to eat itself, but doesn't actively participate. Neither does he intervene. He's above the infighting because he's locked in somewhere else, waiting. Skip Woods and David Ayer's ending was allegedly hijacked, pruned and re-arranged to shift overt villainy off Schwarzenegger. All the nervous studio interference has done though is add an air of indifference. Breacher is truly, exceptionally, callous. Schwarzenegger as a giant, flushed knuckle that'll step over the bodies of people prepared to die for him if it'll equalise a personal situation. The team might love him but he doesn't love them.

Ayers shoots Schwarzenegger as an icon. The star's age isn't avoided or concealed, it's almost fetishised. Repeated close-ups let you drink in the decades. Ayers holding on an eyeline that looks more and more like Clint Eastwood's with every passing year. Arnold is shot like he's The Dark Knight Returns' Bruce Wayne, an ageing weightlifter who gets drunk to dredge up the most awful memories he can. Even his haircut is great, a self-administered close crop that undoubtedly reeks of Brylcreem. Sabotage is easily the best post-Governor Schwarzenegger film simply because it approaches the star as a relic. He's from another time. This mechanical male doesn't fit in with his beer-swilling tat-frat. They're flawed and messy. In comparison, Schwarzenegger is steel.

Monday, 27 October 2014

The Blob (1988)
















Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont hijack Irvin Yeaworth's red scare original, amping up the individualism and transforming it into a strange, outsider movie. As well as having a more politically dubious, terrestrial origin, The Blob systematically kills all the usual male leads until we arrive at the second-banana motorcycle enthusiast and a would-be distressed damsel. The film initially seems to be orbiting a young guy-next-door. Paul Taylor is set up as a Michael J Fox figure, he succeeds by accident in sports and has a friend that gets him into trouble with his prospective girlfriend's father.

Paul appears to be the engine, he has romantic potential and homespun guts. Unfortunately for him The Blob doesn't give a shit about the hero's journey. Next up there's the local Sheriff, initially an antagonistic presence who redeems himself by following logic rather than prejudice. He's killed as an afterthought, his half-digested body showing up as a soupy detail in his love interest's death. The government forces that turn up half-way through end up being completely compromised, leaving local pariah Brian Flagg and cheerleader Meg to take care of business.

Meg and Brian form a back-and-forth, post-Aliens action collective. A couple united through a desire to not be told what to do. While the rest of the town is being rounded up by Hazmat infantrymen - possibly for liquidation - Meg is breaking curfew to find her missing brother. Brian plays rebel by investigating the crash site and turning up a conspiracy. Aside from that, the duo spend the last act rescuing each other. Brian crashes a snow machine into the Blob and ends up rolled and trapped, Meg loots an M16 and lays down suppressing fire.

ToyWorld TW-04G Grant


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Friday the 13th
















In its opening acts Friday the 13th comes on like a safe, corporate alternative to Halloween. There's no real attempt to make the teen victims particularly likeable, Sean S Cunningham's film delivering an in-built emotional distance between the audience and his characters. They act like Porky's extras even though they're in a dire situation. So when they get slashed and prodded we can delight in the Tom Savini orchestrated deaths.

On the face of it, 13th is the slasher film as product, ruthlessly hitting a series of bullet points passed down from realer, rawer examples. Tick them off - mild titillation, spook house gore and everyday objects re-purposed as anti-teen arsenal. The technique's not even really there. Shots that initially appear to be simulating the killer's POV often settle into that of a passive, invisible third-party. This observer is often, obviously, in the actors' way too. 13th can't decide if it's an immediate, Panaglide thriller or a baroque, marshland terror.

Eventually though it becomes clear that Cunningham was pitching something a little closer to a reverse-Psycho. Structurally, it was there all along. We opened with a bright, sparkly first girl - who we assumed was the lead - being casually despatched by the, then apparently male, killer. This detail was confused by introducing the rest of the cast half-way through the episode, breaking tension. The danger surrounding Annie wasn't really given a chance to percolate, coming off as a distraction rather than a shock.

Heavy breather percussion aside, much of Harry Manfredini's music is shrill, screeching strings swiped wholesale from Bernard Herrmann's Psycho score. When the killer finally arrives it's a middle-aged woman with a little voice in her head, egging her on. Mrs Voorhees is an odd proposition for a final threat, she looks like a TV busybody in the Jessica Fletcher mold and betrays little savagery beyond a few gleeful head bumps. The rolling confrontation between her and final girl Alice, despite a meaty conclusion, is an airless thing full of rubbish on-the-fly weaponry and arthritic movement.

Perturbator - Humans Are Such Easy Prey

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare / Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - NOSTALGIA





I'm finding it hard to get excited about Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Although the air-dashing looks kind of fun, the near-future weapons don't do anything for me. Guns made up in planned city sweatboxes rarely do. They all seem so dull and interchangeable. I spent most of my time with Destiny wishing I had a possessed Mosin-Nagant with a futuristic, retrofitted sight. I want some connection to reality. The classic Modern Warfare games were equipped with the best of Cold War engineering - the M16 platform vs the AK-47, with run-ins by the FN FAL.

Those guns had resonance. I grew up with them, saw them on TV in proxy wars and The A-Team. Good guy and bad guy guns from a million 80s action movies, choose your fav. You can grab an MP5 and play-act as Hans Gruber, or equip an M60 and pretend you're Rambo or Animal Mother. Guns are interesting to me in the abstract, horrifying things that track alongside ideologies and political movements. I can accept them as grey machinery you lug around like an accessory in an expensive, networked game of tag, but I don't want to be told they're awesome. Knee-jerk revulsion is part of the appeal. These new weapons look like something that'd ship with an action figure.

Destiny in Detail - Why Are We Still Playing?



Matt Lees with a superb breakdown of Destiny. Unlike their previous games, Bungie's latest is a game built on constant repetition with zero setpieces that still manages to keep you playing for over a hundred hours. Lees touches on basic feedback loops, something Destiny is incredibly good at, and the only occasionally satisfying one arm bandit reward system. As Lees points out Destiny, like the Call of Duty series come to think of it, is a game experience wholly built out of how well the in-game guns handle. Every single weapon, regardless of class or level, is consistently fun to fire at your enemies.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
















The polar opposite of something off-brand and colourful like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Jonathan Liebesman's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sees an established children's line subsumed in a misunderstood, post-The Dark Knight mire. Urban terror should be a decent fit for the franchise, after all Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's original comics were full of gritty avengers engaging in bootlegged, Frank Miller mysticism. Liebesman's film wobbles though because it's clearly meant to be consumed by kids. Pre-teens at that. The turtles have the sing-song personalities rattled off in Chuck Lorre's 80s cartoon theme and the central character is basically a child detective.

Ninja Turtles 2014 gives the impression of a half-term feature hijacked at the last minute to appeal to the ghoulish spectrum of the superhero crowd. Life-ending bumps and matter-of-fact executions are present but never justified. Shredder has been inserted as a final boss but there's no solid narrative space for him. Villain minutes are instead apportioned to a megalomaniacal scientist who's despatched with a spot of head trauma courtesy of the sixth male lead. Like every other rebooted 1980s toy line Ninja Turtles seems to have been pitched as being exactly the same but with even more violence. It's a playground grasp at maturity, chemical weapons are smuggled into the film as if to denote seriousness and weight.

Likewise the turtles are depicted as seething mini-Hulks with the strength to hurl rival ninjas through speeding subway trains. Raphael and pals are massive, sweating, muscle lumps apparently running on the Unreal Engine. Splinter is positively Cronenbergian and Shredder looks like Michael Bay's Megatron cosplaying as a Predator. All this ugliness directly informs the film's one saving grace - the fights are blocked like a Donnie Yen movie. Liebesman shoots low and wide on full-contact between a menagerie of McFarlane Movie Maniacs. CG stunt work is experienced in sustained, sideslipped takes that emphasise impact with grinding, mechanical noise. The animated delivery in Ninja Turtles' action scenes may undermine any real sense of danger but I appreciated the effort.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

3K



To mark the 20th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 this week, blast processor Christian Whitehead released this proof-of-concept clip for an iOS port. Bizarrely it seems Sega are reluctant to take Whitehead up on his proposal, despite the developer's superb track record with the company mascot. Whitehead's conversions of Sonic 1, 2 and CD are world-class digital curation, Sega should be beating down his door to put together a re-release of Sonic 3 & Knuckles, not the other way around. Really, if the Japanese Corporation had any sense, they'd be issuing his ports on every format and have him building a Sonic game from scratch.

MATCH CUT



The British Film Institute's re-release trailer for Stanley Kubrick's ageless 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Curse of Frankenstein

















Dreary parlour intrigue enlivened by Peter Cushing's lizardy Baron. Terence Fisher and Jimmy Sangster's Frankenstein is a cold-blooded manchild who grew up moneyed. People are treated like possessions, poured over when they have value, discarded when they don't. The Curse of Frankenstein introduces psychosis to the Baron's actions. He uses his steely, detached determination to go shopping amongst his social circle, selecting prize body parts to build a perfect man. Unfortunately, the Monster's brain is damaged between cadavers. Christopher Lee's stiff reanimated highwayman has but two gears - cowering and homicidal.

Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles The Hyperstone Heist by Joel Chan


Chromatics - I'm on Fire

Friday, 17 October 2014

Dracula (1958)

















Terence Fisher and Jimmy Sangster's pass at Dracula stresses the otherworldly sexiness of the Count, comparing his animal magnetism, and any attendant vampirism, to a drug addiction. Dracula's wives know he's wrong for them but they just can't help themselves. Although primarily set in Germany, the cast have the prim disposition of Victorian gentry. They're all buttoned-up and sexually desperate.

Despite having a fiancée, ill-fated vampire hunter Jonathan Harker can't resist falling under the spell of the brunette he meets in Dracula's castle. She flounces around in a nighty and pleads with him to help her, she's being held against her will. Harker is all too willing to play the hero. Her weakness is a ploy though. The second Harker takes her in his arms to smother away her worries, she clamps down on his neck.

Dracula has similar success with the woman in Harker's life. Straight-laced German fraus are no match for Christopher Lee hurriedly running his lips all over their faces. This Dracula isn't a superhuman monster that can transform into a bat, he's a mysterious stranger in complete command of his sexuality. He lures woman from their marital bed and makes them his. He ensnares them with his piercing stare and won't let them go. He awakens things inside them they didn't even know existed. He's the other man.

Despera by Chris Faccone


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Two-Face by Ramon Villalobos


'71


















'71 trades in danger. It takes the political and ideological framework of The Troubles and uses them to confuse and catalyse a midnight expedition movie. After a police raid becomes an excuse to beat up cowering Catholic mothers, a young Private is separated from his unit by a riot. In terms of genre, '71 immediately recalls The Warriors or John Carpenter's Escape From New York, but this isn't just instant hostility from a city full of droogs. By dint of birth anyone the lost Private meets could be help or hindrance. Likewise, the political perspective doesn't, to this outsider at least, feel shortchanged.

Screenwriter Gregory Burke layers characters with anxiety, creating a sense that no-one in '71 is operating moment-to-moment. Instead everyone is wracked with fear, acting out the labels they've been designated. '71 portrays ethno-nationalist conflict as a compulsion that grips the young and wearies the old, a fever state that various levels of establishment use to get their way. '71 takes a recent and underreported conflict and uses it to complicate every level of plotting until the film seethes with total menace. The people the Private meets have interior and exterior objectives, often operating in direct opposition.

The most terrifying group in play though are the Military Reaction Force, a four-man black-ops squad that rolls around Belfast in a clapped-out old banger. The MRF are pure venom. They aren't muscled specimens dressed like film stars, they look supernatural. Razor thin pub fighters dressed like childhood photos of your mad uncle. These guys look like they survive on cigarettes and spirits. Everything in Yann Demange's mise en scene suggesting that they are completely empty, both physically and emotionally.

The MRF aren't there to prop up any local agenda, instead they sow chaos and perpetuate conflict. I mentioned Escape From New York earlier, the MRF's presence here would be the equivalent of having Snake Plissken tailed by a team of CIA hitmen that make counter-productive deals with every side and casually chat about the necessity of rubbing out allies. They're aliens beamed in from the gamesmanship dimension, utterly amoral and working for someone you've never even heard of.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Крепость / Fortress



Dima Fedotof's CG short is pure Heavy Metal. In a far-flung future automated war machines go through the motions, fighting long past the point of reason. Fedotof's functional aesthetic mixes Dan O'Bannon data read outs with the kind of mass produced monstrosities you'd expect from tomorrow's total war.

Run The Jewels - Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck) [Feat. Zack de la Rocha]

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Dynatron - Throttle Up / Rise To The Stars / 37 Million Horsepower / Intergalactic Highway

Tetsuo: The Bullet Man
















Tetsuo: The Bullet Man won't sit still. The film seethes with energy, Shinya Tsukamoto's camera hurtles around with DV abandon, inducing a low-level kind of motion sickness. Bullet Man is often physically uncomfortable to watch. Following the acrobatic motion of our latest mutated salaryman is impossible. His actions are lost in a hyper-caffeinated jumble of destruction and shocked reaction shots. Although obviously employed to mask a meagre budget, the spasming point-of-view perfectly tallies with the psychological state of a man transforming into a Brutalist art sculpture.

Like Tetsuo: The Iron Man this optical assault is backed with a clanging industrial noise that runs through the film like a malfunctioning heartbeat. It's oppressive, a restless note that implores progression. Tsukamoto brackets revelation with screens filled with writhing wires and scratched up medical stills. Bullet Man is a collage, a feature-length music video able to suggest a level of narrative coherence through visual consistency. Until it decides to unspool and explain things, Bullet Man sings, reorganising the Oedipal trauma of Tetsuo II: Body Hammer using the visual language of the first film. Tsukamoto can't resist unpacking his ideas though. A backstory involving human vivisection and sex robots is undermined by the kind of stilted, stumbling line readings usually heard overdubbing imported 80s anime.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Tetsuo II: Body Hammer




















Lacking the frenetic, fevered energy of its forebear, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer is instead a series of dreamy interludes linked by variations on the same chase. Tetsuo: The Iron Man was a waking nightmare in which a young man struggled to cope with the changes his body was undergoing. Body Hammer, although apparently unconnected, deals with metamorphosis as an ancient abuse regurgitated in times of extreme stress. Iron Man was concerned with the present, Body Hammer is about tapping into the past and divining memory.

Taniguchi Tomoo and his family live in an apartment straight out of an aspirational hi-fi advert. Tomoo looks like a Steve Ditko drawing, his wife is permanently dressed for a minimalist fashion shoot. This time Tokyo is shot with cool blues, focusing on glass buildings and an attendant sense of alienation. When his son is kidnapped by a team of muscle bombers, Tomoo pursues, his body stretching and exploding to reveal a rib cage made from pistols. Iron Man felt like a city collapsing in on itself, effluence and people mixing to create a creature able to survive in this steaming pit. Body Hammer instead has a city in stasis. Mutation is something to be forced, often leading to rusty, clattering failure. Tomoo then represents a pure evolutionary leap. He is the new life form, a stumbling mix of concrete and artillery. A mobile city state able to consume weaklings and spit out carnage.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Tetsuo: The Iron Man




















Shinya Tsukamoto shoots Tokyo as a claustrophobic ruin unfit for human habitation. Tsukamoto's city is a series of tight, cluttered rooms filled with knotted wires and electronic bric-a-brac. Roofs seem far too low - Tsukamoto's characters are always stooping and crawling. They writhe and sweat profusely, the camera pushing in tight on their pained, dripping faces. In this sense Tetsuo: The Iron Man reminds me of Harlan Ellison's I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream. Like Ellison's short story, Tetsuo features a handful of humans trapped in a vast mechanical landscape at the mercy of some sadistic higher being.

Tetsuo's ascended intelligence is The Metal Fetishist, a vagrant that has forced a threaded steel rod into his leg and become a kind of rust God. After a hit-and-run encounter with a bespectacled businessman and his horny girlfriend, Fetishist transforms into a mechanical, viral infection that mutates anybody he comes into contact with. The businessman accidentally triggers his own transformation with his electric razor, causing pustulous steel boils to sprout up on his cheek. Tetsuo takes the body-morphing antics of the Japanese superhero genre and wrings them dry. People in Tsukamoto's film don't become cybernetic do-gooders, instead they shred their significant others with drill-bit dicks and dream of the Earth as an endless factory dedicated to liquefying mankind. Power corrupts them instantly.

Greyhat - Freaking Out All The Time

The Fauns - 4AM (Power Glove Remix)

Thursday, 2 October 2014

The Fog



















The Fog opens with an elderly man telling ghost stories to children on a beach. Although brief, and added after reshoots, the interlude is this film's version of Dr Loomis' Halloween framing diatribes. We are told about the destruction of a clipper, the boat shorn apart on rocks after the crew mistook a campfire, set by greedy locals, for a navigation light. The yarn helps us understand the psychological viewpoint of something betrayed and dead, a cold thing at the bottom of sea that hates the living and wants to strike out.

Despite a simplistic set-up, Fog is a little flabby. Themes fire off in a million different directions and never quite coalesce. John Carpenter and Dean Cundey spend a lot of their screentime (beautifully) photographing smoke prowling over various landscapes. Attacks are few and far between and none of the human characters are particularly interesting. Fog's main problem is the menace keeps shrinking. We start out with the idea that everybody and everything in Antonio Bay is imperilled. Unfortunately, this is quickly ditched. We trade a mini-apocalypse for a six man countdown.

Fog, like all campside bullshitting, rambles and disappoints, but the ghost attacks are great. The drowned sailors are swollen, rotting lumps, drained of colour and detail. They snatch at the living, clawing them with fish hooks and plunging kitchen knives into their bodies. Considering its adult rating Fog is unusually anaemic. Instead of arterial blood Carpenter uses a suite of visceral sound effects to turn basic mobbing into something suggestive of a crunchy, X-rated cannibal attack.

Kanye West - Dark Fantasy / Lost in the World ft. Bon Iver



Akira by Jimmy Giegerich


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Big Trouble in Little China #6 by Alexis Ziritt


HELLFIRE



An action sequence from Transformers: Victory, staged like a side-scrolling shooting game. This two minute sequence encapsulates everything fun about 80s mecha anime. The limited TV animation doesn't hold the excitement back, it enriches and informs it. Instead of complicated movement strings we get unusual angles and tense framing. Seeing the combined Victory Saber ship repeatedly smashing through identical bulkheads doesn't get dull, the loop is too quick.

We also get time to hold on two gigantic heavenly bodies hurtling towards each other, slow motion stretching the moment of impact out for maximum effect. The sound design is wonderful too. When the two machines eventually collide the impact is shrunk down to a tiny detail, noted with the crackling sound of giallo glass shattering. After a brief pause, the destruction blossoms - bizarre vacuumed whines and crunchy, debris field explosions combining to stress the otherness of intergalactic robots tearing each other apart in space.