Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Walking Dead

I finished watching The Walking Dead today. Turn away now, this will contain SPOILERS!

It was pretty good, but I wouldn't call it amazing. It was the writing that was lacking in some spots of the series as a whole. Mainly it was in the 5th episode when the camp is suddenly overrun with walkers (zombies). There is a technique taught in some gaming circles where if the action or story starts to get slow have two guys with guns kick in the door. Figure out who they are later. That's what it felt like when the camp was absolutely crawling with them. It felt like a plot device for the story to move but didn't fit well. Earlier in the show they'd come across one or two solo walkers that somehow wondered up the hill and that was totally within the realm of possible for this show. Other than that the last episode was a little too conveniently timed. The gang arrives the night before the whole place is set to blow. I suppose they may have accelerated the process by showering away all the hot water. But again this is television and can be forgiven. For a zombie show it showcases the situation dramatically and very realistically compared to most in this genre. Sometimes the zombies seem a little too clever. In the first or second episode (I don't recall now), it seemed like one undead lady almost recognized her house. But who knows. Their limits haven't been fully defined yet.

One spoiler I caught was that Merle (spelling) didn't show up in the 2nd half of the show which was for-shadowed with the fact that Michael Rooker's name wasn't in the credits. He always plays such a good asshole. His brother took me for a spin trying to remember where I had seen him before when it finally came to me that he was one of the Boon Dock Saints! No wonder he looked natural with a gun. I think Jeffery DeMunn is the strongest actor in the cast. His character caught me as the most real.

I read the trade paperbacks years ago and I recall it being an excellent comic. Someone reported that the first episode was almost shot for shot the first comic issue. I don't recall if that's so. Could be. Both mediums are good productions. From what I remember the show took a pretty big turn from the events of the comic. I'm sure I'll be tuning in when the 2nd season is upon us. Zombies sure seem like the in thing for a while now. Maybe this show will start to kill that fad... but naturally, the fad will rise from the dead to keep on going.............

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Christmas Carol

The Doctor Who Christmas Special has becoming a fun tradition for us. We get to it after all the important events and obligations are behind us. We can get back to our regular routine by way of a blue Police box.

There seems to be an adrenaline rush over the series ever since David Tennant handed the torch to Matt Smith. This special had that level of energy throughout the whole episode. There is also a higher level of weird with the 11th Doctor that I kind of like.

A Christmas Carol felt very much like The Girl in the Fireplace. Both stories take place over a short period of time for the Doctor and for us, but for the people in the story or in this particular situation the Doctor's interventions took place over decades, over an entire lifetime. In this story, the Doctor takes a very active role in the character's history. A deliberate intervention to directly change the outcome or steer to the Doctor's desired possible future. This is a departure from the Doctor's usual modus operandi. It almost seemed like the Doctor's meddling could be seen as a punishment for the character in question's decision.

One interesting part that I expect will cause a lot of message board commotion is a character met himself and even embraced himself and there was no paradox.

It was a good addition to the list of adventures and the previews for season 6 look as cool as ever.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Manga Bible

For $2.00 at Half Price Books. I figured I'd take a look and keep it until I found that it was deliberately contrary to it's source material or just plain poorly made with no real or true concept of the source.

The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelations. Published by Doubleday, concept and art by Siku and script by Akin.
I have been pleasantly surprised and impressed with the quality of the little book. This is not intended to be a literal translation of the Bible, but to tell a lite version of the basic story through the Japanese comic style known as manga. To this goal I think it succeeded well. The art is very stylized and often leans towards humorous, but also is pretty serious and sometimes a bit suggestive when the story calls for it.

The neatest thing about the book is since it is not an in-depth translation and just skims the stories, occasionally there is a tab in the corner of some of the pages that references the real verses that tell the specific Bible story.

This is a tight little production that I'm comfortable to leave laying around for anyone to pick up and page through. I hope, like the creators of the book, that it encourages people who might not usually read the Bible, to become inspired to do just that.

Siku is a comic book creator from England known for several Judge Dredd comics as well as a Megacity spin-off- Pan African Judges.

Akin served as Nickalodian's art director.







OK Go videos

This is a collection of the videos by OK Go. No reason other than they're incredibly creative and I want to further recognize the wonderful effort these lads put into their unique niche.














Saturday, December 18, 2010

TRON: Legacy

Saw TRON today. This is full of spoilers so be warned.

While I recognized scenes that probably were fantastic in 3D, I'm glad we went to a 2D version. The effects were outstanding. Through a lot of the beginning there were many references to the original TRON. It seemed that pretty much all the sets were revisited in Legacy. There were disc duels, lightcycle duels, and an added one- lightjets. These are like the cycles which leave a solid ribbon along their path, but in the form of aerial dogfight with the ribbons hanging behind the vehicles.

The movie is very much like the original film in its pacing and over all plot. Missing were separate villains such as Master Control and a Sark character which were combined into one character antagonist who has a handful of unique henchmen this time around. Mostly what is offered is updated versions of everything we've already seen. The only thing new are a new life-form manifested from the creation of a newer Grid. This supplied a suitable minority for the autocracy lead by Clu to put down and wipe out. Another idea presented was that the programs could come up and out into the real world. There were some neat flashback scenes featuring the creation of this Grid by Flynn, Clu and Tron. One disappointment, the Bit was missing from Legacy.

We glimpse some of the everyday life of the Grid's city and here the movie takes a Film Noir feel like we just stepped into the Matrix as we follow the plot into an elegant bar. Other aspects have a Matrix feel as sometimes Users seem to manifest powers over and above the abilities of the native Programs.

I thought was disappointing compared to the original film was the digitizing and journey into the Grid. Here he was suddenly just there. It appeared that Sam didn't even feel the transfer.

One big difference from the first was the presence of many more females than in the first film. In a good way. I thought Quorra [Olivia Wilde] was adorable.

A small detail that bothered me was the introduction of projectile weapons. The above mentioned bar scene had a character randomly shooting a cane/rifle. It seemed very out of place suddenly to see any kind of gun weapon in the Grid. Before the only projectiles were discs or glowing spheres of various sports. The lightjets had turrets and mounted weapons that, again, seemed out of place here.

My favorite thing about TRON: Legacy was Daft Punk. They did a great job scoring the music and their cameo was hilarious and subtle. I think they didn't even alter their helmets!

I wonder how the film holds up if one had not seen the original film.

The film is left wide open for sequels probably with the hopes of a newly rebooted franchise. I don't know if this is a good thing or not. Regardless of it's possible open end, it is a nicely self contained complete  package of a movie. I liked it and I'd see it again. If only to try to catch more references to the first one.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Kokuriko-Zaka Kara and The Last Sortie

There is a new Ghibli film in the making! Kokuriko-Zaka Kara sounds like perhaps the most realistic film to be made by Ghibli along the lines of Grave of the Fireflies.

Goro Miyazaki Directing Latest Ghibli Movie 'Kokuriko-Zaka Kara'

December 16, 2010
Source: Anime News Network
by Alex Billington
Kokuriko-Zaka Kara Artwork
Gather ’round Studio Ghibli fans! It was just announced by the legendary Japanese animation studio, as reported on Anime News Network (via SlashFilm), that their newest feature-length film is an adaptation of Chizuru Takahashi and Tetsurō Sayama's manga Kokuriko-Zaka Kara (see Wikipedia). Directing will be Goro Miyazaki, son of legendary Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, who directed their 2006 movie Tales from Earthsea (watch the trailer). Studio Ghibli is already hard at work on this and The Borrowers, as they say Kokuriko-Zaka will actually hit theaters in Japan next summer, plus the official website just went up.
The story is set in 1963, a year before the Tokyo Olympics, and follows the coming of age of an ordinary high school girl named Komatsuzaki (seen above in artwork from the website) in Yokohama, a harbor city near Tokyo. Her sailor father went missing after an accident, and her photographer mother often goes abroad for work. Her family now runs a lodging house. The manga recounts Komatsuzaki's everyday life of "laughter and tears" with two boys: a school newspaper member and the student council president. No magic wizards in this one, it sounds like. Hayao Miyazaki co-wrote the script with Keiko Niwa, also of Tales from Earthsea.
As everyone knows, I'm a huge Miyazaki/Ghibli fan and I'm always interested in their newest feature films, especially because they're some of the only beautiful hand-drawn animated films left these days. I'm looking forward to The Borrowers as well as Kokuriko-Zaka Kara (which I'm sure will get an English title soon), but we're on a delayed schedule in the US and probably won't see either of these new films for a few more years.

link



NOTE - The following has been updated here...
(It will not be a film, it will be a manga)





The news was also reported on Den of the Geek where they reminded us [me] that there is a sequel for Porco Rosso in the docket from Ghibli as well.


Studio Ghibli announces new animated feature

Ryan Lambie

Japanese masters of animation, Studio Ghibli, has announced its next feature, called Kokuriko-Zaka Kara…

Published on Dec 17, 2010

Called Kokuriko-Zaka Kara, the movie will be overseen by Goro Miyazaki, the son of Hayao. Perhaps the most reality-based Ghibli movie since 1988's astounding Grave Of The Fireflies, the film is set in 1963, and relates the story of a schoolgirl living in Yokohama.While we patiently await the western release of Studio Ghibli's most recent feature, The Borrower Arrietty, the Japanese animation house has announced its next project.
Goro Miyazaki's last film was Tales From Earthsea, a movie that was greeted with a mixed critical reception when it appeared in 2006, but nevertheless did plenty of business in its native Japan, even knocking Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest off its number one spot on its week of release.
Given that Ponyo On The Cliff took two years to make it to UK shores, it's fairly safe to say that we won't be seeing a subtitled incarnation of Kokuriko-Zaka Karatill approximately 2013.
Looking even further into the future, we've also got Hayao Miyazaki's Porco Rosso sequel, The Last Sortie to look forward to. Now, that's one film we'd love to see.

link

Kokuriko-Zaka Kara sounds fine, but it's The Last Sortie that I'm looking forward to. Wow! Ghibli doing a sequel and to choose Porco Rosso to make one for! We can't ask for more than that.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Les Miserables

My 2010 New Years Resolution was this- To [at least] start the Victor Hugo novel- Les Misérables. This book is immense! I've seen various screen adaptations and the musical (twice!) so I come into it pretty familiar with the main story. It's the details I'm interested in now. To fall in love with the characters and story. And that I did. What I wasn't prepared for was all the tangents Hugo takes away from the story. For example, Bishop Myriel- this character has a small part in the movie and the musical. He's the guy that Jean Valjean tries to steal silver flatware and dishes from but Bishop Myriel forgives him and has Jean Valjean take the silver candlesticks, too. Wonderful character and we don't see him ever again in said productions. In the novel we read about every single detail about this man before that scene after we read about every single detail about Jean Vanjean. It's very extensive and well done and the scene takes a much more meaningful tone with all the back ground knowledge on hand.

"Forget not, never forget that you have promised me to use this silver to become an honest man.... Jean Valjean, my brother: you belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from dark thoughts and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God!"

I must confess that I'm not actually reading the book proper. I'm listening to it in audio book form. This takes place about four times a day on my commutes to and from work (with a split shift). And it's been working fabulously. I look forward to my commutes. At one point our protagonist is making tracks across the countryside on foot and comes across the battlefield of Waterloo or something like that because all of a sudden we're studying that battle from every possible facet, much like we did with Jean Valjean and Bishop Myriel. But the story takes place decades after this battle. But here it is, in every detail... why!? I thought for a while that I may have somehow been listening to the wrong audio book. Like some digital files got mixed up with a military history book or something. But as suddenly as we left, we were back on track with the story.

My momentum has started to wane. My plan was to make it to where the movie/musical jump ahead ten or so years, after Cosette is rescued from the Thénardiers. I've shelved the book for now. Hugo has started another major tangent, this one about religious orders and nuns and such. A good time to set the book down and get back into some Sherlock Holmes.
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