Friday, 26 November 2010

Dino De Laurentiis

Harry Potter et les Reliques de la Mort by Jean-Claude Götting


Batman by Javier Olivares

Javier Olivares's Batman animated short, produced (I think) to promote the screening of the Tim Burton caped crusader movies on Spain's Canal+ television channel. There's a lot of Batman squeezed into this minute and change short, I particularly liked young Bruce's indifference to the presents his parents offer; only really cracking a smile when Alfred gifts him a gigantic bat plush. Visit Mr Olivares's blog here.

Monday, 22 November 2010

TheManFrowns: Black Ops

A nifty little feature in Call of Duty: Black Ops is the theatre mode. Players can browse full length recordings of recent games, and even edit a short highlight clip from their accumulated gameplay. Here's Disaster Year's contribution to this avalanche of wannabe superplay - 15 seconds of fraught alleyway shoot-outs and reloads, as I (ahem) expertly dismantle a flag runner and his second chance bodyguards with the Stakeout shotgun. I didn't get lucky with those hit markers coming off that lurchy twirl, no sir! Stick around for the end where I get blindsided by yet another spawn lurker. Curse and confound it all!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Superman / Shazam: The Return of Black Adam

Bulletin brief at just under twenty five minutes, Superman / Shazam: The Return of Black Adam reads like a whizz-bang proof of concept for a gestating series. The short ropes in Superman for visibility, noodling about with Clark's less documented weakness for magic as a springboard for our ostensibly similar hero. This emphasis on the fantastical gives the speculative Captain Marvel show a sense of identity explicitly separate from Superman's sci-fi slanted animated adventures.

Marvel's foe is fun too. Black Adam is a vandal reflection driven insane by access to limitless power and longevity. There's even a whiff of Alan Moore's Kid Marvelman in how Adam's allowed his super identity to completely phase out his mortal state. Despite paying lip-service to Moore's human cataclysm, Superman / Shazam ends up lighter and brighter than recent DC animation.

Captain Marvel's world is whimsical. His powers revolve around ill explained rules presented by a doddering ancient. Supporting players casually transform into animals and enemies fade to dust at the prospect of punishment. This could be the perfect post-Avatar: The Last Airbender vehicle for director Joaquim Dos Santos's 80s anime instincts. Captain Marvel would allow for high impact alley-oop fights whilst underscoring the bruising with a pervasive irreverence and childlike illogic. This could be Dos Santos' Dragon Ball.

Super Shinobi vs Pop Culture

Boss rush! Ten minutes of stage end swashbuckling from Sega's 1989 Mega Drive masterpiece The Revenge of Shinobi. Our hero must face: a spineless Godzilla, an undying brain sealed in a plutonium bomb assembly, a scrap yard Schwarzenegger, and a selection of American superheroes. Unifying theme be damned! These pop culture icons just gotta stand in Joe Ninja's way!

This video showcases an early release of the title before it ran afoul of litigious copyright lawyers. Although Spider-Man's heel turn was able to stay thanks to Sega having secured the licence to develop a Mega Drive game entitled The Amazing Spider-Man vs The Kingpin, Batman was eventually swapped out for a demon figure that looked not unlike Go Nagai's Devilman. Likewise, for the 1990 European release, Godzilla was stripped down to a set of walking, fire-breathing bones. Licensing issues have continued to dog The Revenge of Shinobi; last year's re-release on the Wii's Virtual Console had Spider-Man recoloured pink, Sega's usage agreement having long since expired. Disaster Year's favourite bit comes during the rubbish pile Terminator fight, Sega dwell on a character detail ignored in every franchise installment since the 1984 original - when damaged, the cyborg's skin rots and degrades, transforming him into a monstrous carrion rioter.

MOP - Ante Up

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Sweet Smell of Success by Sean Phillips

Commissioned by Criterion for their upcoming BD release. Visit Mr Phillips's blog here.

Highly Skilled Lawyer

The latest character tease for Marvel vs Capcom 3 reimagines She-Hulk as a high-impact female wrestler, equally adept at stratospheric elbow drops and weaponising careless SUV drivers. As an interesting aside, did you know Marvel raced to create a female Hulk character in the wake of the The Bionic Woman TV show? Comic execs were worried that show's success would prompt CBS to introduce a similar lady lead into their own The Incredible Hulk television serial; Marvel raced ahead on that curve so as to own any potential character.

Sunday, 7 November 2010


Caligula is almost universally reviled, a film castigated for an endemic vulgarity that sees British stage thesps sharing screen space with clips of bleed-in pornography. At best, this film is thought of as a high concept oddity, a semi-serious sandal epic clashing with the short stroke urges of a smut peddler. This is an ugly film, why should it be anything but? Malcolm McDowell's Caligula is an incomplete impression of a person; his fraught upbringing under the heel of Peter O'Toole's Tiberius has done nothing but sharpen his instinct for survival. As Tiberius's last days drift along, we get a sense that Caligula is his favourite plaything - an almost equal trapped in the role of an indefatigable child. Caligula is able to neatly sidestep the constant threats upon his life, whilst maintaining a smile. Tiberius appears to be grooming his heir as an instrument of extermination for the concept of Rome.

Once in power Caligula declares himself a God, and sets about equalising his cowed ego by heaping a relentless misery on anyone that happens to be within reach. Lensed at the tail-end of the 1970s, you could read Caligula as a punk overlord, a venomous little shit given to humiliating the ruling class for their phony servility. The new emperor drafts laws that make whores of politician's wives, then declares full action warfare on ponds to humiliate his armed forces. Equally, Caligula could be contextualised as a tyrant brat, a sulking infant who treats the world and all in it as his (easily replaceable) toys. Lives are meaningless to this monster; inconvenience a capitol crime, punishable by torture and death.

Fear pervades the film, Caligula is fascinated by it. Having matured in peril, the ruler seems to be daring his subordinates to kill him. It's as if he finds dominion boring, half-wishing to return to his former state to test how sharp his excuses have remained after years of bloated indulgence. Although not necessarily a good film, there's a certain honesty in weaving real orgies into a film obsessed with the idea of Roman decadence. Frequently the digressions take on a metatextual quality, simultaneously forwarding the idea that proximity to such Godhood is an all-consuming aphrodisiac, and filling in the blanks for the serious actors who are disinclined to fuck for film. Likewise, there's a sense of spectacle in seeing hundreds of nervous, dancing extras suffering against vast psychologically spare backdrops. Caligula the film is equal parts plucky and revolting, just like its subject.


With Call of Duty: Black Ops out this week, it's time to bid farewell to the crack compulsive time-sink that is Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer. Disaster Year has sunk umpteen days into this monster, climbing to the dizzy dizzy heights of a legitimate tenth prestige rank. Back slaps all round! Hit that milestone and you can expect obnoxious children to PM you night and day asking for free hack hook-ups. No dice child! You gotta earn this shit! I've run speed classes to stab you in your house, I've gotten hate mail for locking down bombsites with Danger Close M203 noob-tubes, and I've cowered my way back to 30 everytime I've cashed in and prestiged.

To see us out, here's a screamer reel from my favourite YouTube gameplay uploader Sandy Ravage, he of Booster Justice fame. He never sat in corners waiting for traffic, no sir. He rushed headlong into chokepoints firing Italian scatterguns wildly. So what if he was always host, and his chump foes never took out his air support? He's been an inspiration.

Yoshinobu Nishizaki

Wu-Tang Clan - Protect Ya Neck

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

False Flag

Got an hour to kill? Why not sift through this TV show length shill for Call of Duty: Black Ops? As well as showing off an Americana A-Bomb test site, Treyarch's PR chap also spills on the extra grind perk fans can expect. Thanks Treyarch! Nothing like making folk chip away at unpopular game types to maximise their load-out eh? I can think of few other mediums were a salesman would act so disdainfully towards his intended customers. Why must punishment shape the video game experience? Black Ops is due out November 9th; expect Disaster Year's output to dwindle further still.


Japanese box art for 1994's Super Fire Pro Wrestling Special, one of the first games to wear Suda 51's sticky little fingerprints. Mr 51 served as a scenario writer for this grappler installment, drafting a story mode that moved on unrequited love, depression, and eventually suicide. Gives that heroic cover a whole new context doesn't it? It's all a show!

Nirvana - All Apologies