02/04/2014

Editorial: Shifting The Blame

Most people who care about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has by now seen the human-like character designs of the titular characters and as you may have guessed the reaction to the designs and the trailer overall has pretty much amounted to a collective groan of disbelief among fans of both the original source material and movies in general. I for one completely agree, the designs look absolutely hideous and the casting choices are just so big misfires you'd think it was a parody of what a modern trailer for the turtles might have looked like. But no, unfortunately this is very real and it is coming out no later than this upcoming August. People are completely outraged, calling for the head of producer Michael Bay, with their hatred for his Transformers movies still fresh in their minds. The Bay Turtles they're calling it, why must Bay ruin our childhoods they're saying. You'd think I'm overstating here but some of these statements are actually downright seething with hatred. 

No wonder Hollywood don't take them seriously. if you go back a couple of lines you might see the problem right away. They're calling for the head of the movie's producer. Meaning because Mr. Bay's name is attached to the film, the reputations of the people actually working on the damn film are spared. Which is why in this little article we're answering some of the most common fan reactions to the trailer.

  • "The plot for Bay's Ninja Turtles is just downright stupid compared to the source material", okay so the actual screenwriters Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec and Evan Daughtery had absolutely no creative impact on the production whatsoever? By the way how would you know the fine details of the plot if the film isn't slated for release until August?
     
  • "Bay is killing our childhoods with these ugly Ninja Turtles" Setting aside the fact that the words "You killed my childhood" should only belong to the child soldiers of the world.. I'm sure if you asked Mr. Bay himself, he'd tell you that he does in fact not have training in art direction nor actual CGI animation, that credit goes to concept illustrator I. Javier Ameijeiras and the rest of his (I'm sure) talented crew. Nevermind the animators and visual effects artists attached to the production.
  •  "Megan Fox ruining yet another childhood favorite with her presence" Nevermind the 9 different people that makes up the casting crew of the picture or her need for a paycheck to pay for bills and sustenance.
I get the need for a face to attach to something you hate, abstract concepts based on modern tendencies are pretty hard to lash out at however if you're going to lash out - don't just attack a guy with the title "producer" attached to the film. Turtles is, as I said, not due till August and while I'm not looking particularly forward to it given Hollywood's track record regarding remakes of 80's properties - don't act like spoiled children. The 2014 Turtles will probably suck, it will probably make you feel you wasted money on your ticket. However making such a big public outcry over a mere trailer is why the "geek community" isn't taken seriously by most bigwigs. Because most of them as understandably adopted the attitude that the public doesn't know what it wants. Even if you disagree that there is such a thing as a "geek community", that's how the casual viewer sees us, just like the casual viewer wouldn't be able to tell you the differences between Goths, Emo's, Punks, Vamps, Romantic Goths and so on. They just see a bunch of kids dressed in black.

01/04/2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Film: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Release: 2014, theatrical
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Redford, Scarlett Johansson
Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
IMDB page: Link opens in a new window
Description: After a black-ops operation on a hijacked U.S. ship, Captain America starts having doubts about the integrity of S.H.I.E.L.D. as an organization and he soon discovers that maybe modern day America isn't as black and white as the world he came from.

Hans' thoughts:

When you summarize the names of superheroes that will do well internationally in your head "Captain America" is scarcely the first one that comes to mind. Grounded deeply in the American reaction to the Second World War, the character was created basically as a propaganda piece to sell warbonds. One of the most well-known images of the character is simply him giving Adolf Hitler a punch to the jaw. However Captain America: The First Avenger actually turned out to be one of the more well received entries in what is now named "Phase one" of the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), consisting of (in order of continuity): Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and ending with The Avengers in 2012. So far "Phase two" of the MCU is also looking decent enough, while Iron Man 3 received some critical panning and the tie-in TV-show "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." has been deemed a failure by many fans Thor: The Dark World was considered one of the best entries to date. So how does The Winter Soldier hold up? Surprisingly well actually. 

Unlike Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is very scarce in referencing the events of The Avengers, instead The Winter Soldier gives us a more in-depth look at the intelligence bureau known as S.H.I.E.L.D. Where our titular hero portrayed by Chris Evans, a man of simple values and straightforward methods, is having trouble fitting in with the methods of his secretive boss Nick Fury, portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson. Evans portrayal of Cap is as good as ever, his arc in this movie is very much about having old world viewpoints in a new world and while the actor himself turns in a good performance, and the writing is actually really good. I can't let the fact go however, that his costume has never really been all that good in any of the movies thus far and unfortunately it's the same case this time around. Costume designers seem to just be unable to get it to look good, and that makes total sense since the original Captain America suit was designed in the 1940's and has seen little to no updates in the years since then. This time they decided to make his ears be free from the hood part of the suit and unfortunately that makes them seem huge. I quickly got used to it, but in the first few moments of the movie I had to remind myself that this was not a comedy. The movie has a lot of returning actors and it works to the advantage of the piece, as instead of throwing a lot of new things at us we have the growth of already established characters with the exception of newcomer Sam Wilson, portrayed by Anthony Mackie. Mackie fits right in with the old cast however, and quickly sets up himself as another well-known Marvel character. His special effects are actually done really well and though his action scenes in full get-up are few they are very enjoyable and doesn't take away focus from the main cast - though unfortunately his costume design for this movie follows the Hollywood trend of removing as many colors as possible from superhero get-ups as was the case for the MCU's version of Hawkeye. The other newcomer is seasoned veteran Robert Redford as the chairman of S.H.I.E.L.D. and he has a lot of great moments in the movie. His portrayal made one of the twists of the movie all the more surprising. Scarlett Johanson returns as Black Widow, once again showing new sides of the character and seems to just have a lot of fun portraying the character. Nevermind the fact that she's not held back by a tacked on romantic sub-plot that probably would've been present in a lesser movie. Black Widow is thus far the only female superhero set up in the MCU, but she can definitely stand toe to toe with the likes of both much more seasoned actors Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Redford. 

The elephant in the room in this review thus far is of course The Winter Soldier himself, this is not because of his portrayal (the character is actually done a lot of justice and I enjoyed every single scene he was in) but because his identity is supposed to be a complete secret. Rest assured Marvel fans, there's no big fake out moments here as was the case with The Mandarin in Iron Man 3. More than that I'm not really willing to say, even though promotional material for the movie has not been all that secretive I feel that non-comic book nerds should discover this awesome plot twist for themselves. So there's that. Moving on to the action of the movie, it has a fair amount of "shaky cam". Meaning of course that the camera is moved frequently in the film to up the intensity of some of the scenes. Unfortunately it makes some scenes fairly hard to follow and I heard complaints from one of my companions that he could barely see what was going on in some of the bigger action scenes at all. It's a big shame because on the other hand the hand-to-hand combat scenes are really good and the choreography makes the action in these scenes seem very intense without needing the added effects of shaking the camera. 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a much more eventful movie than its already strong predecessor and stands as a testament to the really great thing Marvel Studios has going at the moment proving that the high quality of "phase one" wasn't a complete freak of nature. The special effects of the movie are great, even if we're not able to see as many of them as we would like due to the rapid camera movement and the writing of the story is spot on - taking one of the major plotlines of Captain America's comic line and updating it for modern movie going audiences and the setting of the MCU.

18/03/2014

News: Something different!

So normally our approach to video games have been a review of the story lines and not much else, that's a bit of an incomplete experience when you consider the medium which is why I've started a Let's Play channel! Come see and judge for yourself this time around. Our first subject? Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock, however the next game is already planned and on its way! Two episodes are posted daily at around 7 and 8 PM (GMT+1) and I hope you'll take a look!

Go to this link to visit and subscribe to my channel

or just start the playlist of the first series right here (currently at episode 8)

Project Wonderful 3