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First Look At Bane

May 20, 2011

Hey guys I know its been a while since my last update.  There is a reason for that, which I will explain in a minute. In the meantime Warner Brothers is up to its old viral antics that made the build up to the Dark Knight so much fun. Much like last time they leave well publicized clues all over their promotional web material for fans to deconstruct and following a trail that leads to juicy teases and tidbits about the movie.

This time it started as a soundbite that sounds like garbage but when keen fans put it through their own sound-tech, they discovered that its says “The Fire Rises”.  This of course lead them to a twitter account using that term. As more people follow the account it reveals more and more of an image.

However, keen fans have managed to find the image complete and finished early revealing what is said to be an early look at Bane.

This is certainly reminiscent of the early revelation of the Joker in the previous film, and while neither picture paints a full picture, much like the early Joker images, this will surely have fanboys talking and speculating for weeks. Exciting stuff.

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On to other business. What few readers I have may have noticed that there hasn’t been a great deal of activity here lately.  There are a couple reasons for that, most notably I’ve been too busy. Between work, personal life and other projects I haven’t had the time or energy to keep up with geek news.  While there certainly has been plenty to talk about, there hasn’t been much to say.  Not that I don’t have opinions on recent news, events, films, comics and TV, I could spend hours speaking my mind. Quite frankly I haven’t had the interest in laying it all out in a blog. That’s not to say I am retiring this project, but between the sister blog I have been working on and my own personal life, I haven’t felt like putting my thoughts out into the ether for a while.

Again that’s not to say this blog will die but for the moment and immediate future, activity will likely continue to be slow.

However, if you do wish to follow me I am always on twitter (@jamespsheridan) and working on the Sketchbook! If not then just keep your eyes peeled for when a story comes along that I wish to share or something in fandom I wish to bitch about. Until then, thanks for reading!

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X-Men The First Class International Posters

March 1, 2011

This is one I haven’t had much interest in.  Frankly, as much as I love the X-Men comics the movie series has long since gone off the rails.  So I haven’t been terribly enthusiastic about X-Men the First Class.  However, I have to say that these posters look amazing. Its an interesting reversal, seeing iconic men living in the shadow of the men they will become (similar to early Phantom Menace advertising) and sells the point that, despite the title, its still very much a film about young Charles and Eric as they form their specific philosophies that will guide their actions in later films.  Still not entirely sold, but I think these are excellent posters (certainly better than most X-Men posters…).

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Dead Island

February 17, 2011

I am not usually one to discuss Video Games on my blog.  I only usually do it when I feel passionate about a specific game, which doesn’t happen often.  I am a brand whore I suppose. Most things I take an interest in, I really get pulled in to, racing through TV shows or comics and doing as much cursory reading and research as I can get my hands on. Video games have always felt somewhat disposable to me. You play through once and generally you never play through again (with the exception of the odd game that offers some replay incentive, but those are rare). So while I enjoy gaming, its not often I feel passionate about a game that I feel the need to share it with others.

Even rarer are instance where I take an interest in game trailers. Some are fun, most are just sweeping visuals that rarely match the gameplay experience, and frankly most are just…dull. Not this one:

I am a sucker for “different”. I love when I see unique approaches to rather standard media.  When something stands out from the crowd for reinventing an idea or developing a new one I tend to want to pay attention. The idea of running a series of events backwards to tell a story is not unique, nor is it new.  But when you combine it with incredible visuals, emotional music and stark juxtaposition of slow-mo and fast motion, to create a rather stirring vignette it seems to take on a whole level of power.  If you ran this scene forwards at regular motion, it just becomes a rather generic action sequence with a tragic ending.  But watching it run backwards in slow motion, you slowly watch the tragic tale unfold and become more and more heartbreaking.

Its definitely a game I will be keeping an eye on. I can’t say judging from this alone that I would buy the game, its certainly one that stands out in a rather generic crowd and hits of the emotion and tragedy of zombie stories that I find so fascinating.  If they take this same unconventional approach to their story and gameplay, I doubt this is a game I will be likely to miss out on.  However, if its just another shoot-em-up with a cool trailer, I may have to sit this one out.  Either way this was an eye catching trailer and I am going to keep track of what happens with this one. Don’t let me down boys.

 

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Amazing Spider-Man

February 14, 2011

Yes ladies and gentlemen, as many people have said for months, the title for the rebooted Spider-Man film will be Amazing Spider-Man.  Not really surprising or groundbreaking but I am thankful that we finally have something to call it rather than the Spider-Man Reboot.  I am grateful as well that its a title that’s easily shortened to Amazing or even ASM, much like Empire or Jedi, to help us nerds quickly differentiate between films.

Also they’ve released a new picture of the costume.

This is a nice contrast to the many spy photos that have been floating around raising the blood-pressure of fanboys accross the net, as this is likely how the costume will look when photographed.  Aparently the cameras they are using (for the eventual 3D release of the film) photograph differently than conventional cameras so the costume and lighting has to look a little different. That’s probably why the costume has looked so bland.   This one shows the lines, the webbing, the full mask (though sadly tilted so we can’t see it entirely), the webshooters and the colours. The only thing missing are the ridiculous boots that has so many people seemingly upset. While I am still not a fan of the lines or the weird angles and such, they are growing on me and when posed like this (how the character will probably appear for a lot of the film), a lot of the costume makes sense.  The majority of the details and design elements are on the face, shoulders, hands and feet, the rest (that has looked particularly bland) will often be obscured.

All in all I am getting more excited as the release date approaches and I hope that this movie is able to succeed where the previous films failed so hard.

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Dark Knight Rises Casting News

January 19, 2011

So its been officialy stated who the villains are for Nolan’s next Batfilm. The lovely Anne Hathaway will be playing Selina Kyle, and Tom Hardy (who had been cast a while back but it was never stated who he was playing) will portray Bane. For those of you who haven’t followed along Selina Kyle is usually the thieving Catwoman, a villain with a history of incredible sexual tension with the Bat. Bane is of course one of the more infamous villains of the 90s, a muscle-bound brute whose attributes are enhanced thanks to the drug Venom he pumps himself with.  He is probably best known for breaking Batman’s back in the story Knightfall that lead to Bruce Wayne stepping back and letting future character Azrael take the cape and cowl for a while. He’s a potentially challenging villain for Batman as he can not only overpower him physically, he is Batman’s intellectual equal. So this should be interesting.  I don’t believe its stated that this version of Selina is necesarily Catwoman, however the connection remains, and the opportunity to see Hathaway leap around in skin tight leather outfits…um, I’ll be in bunk.

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Recent Marvel Film Pics

January 15, 2011

So as some of you have noticed we’ve had a few new pics from Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures and their upcoming projects.  I promised I would break down each character and I will.  Lets star with the God of Thunder.

THOR

This one there isn’t much to say.  We’ve gotten a pretty good look so far into the movie and what direction the productions design has gone in.  While I would have liked something a little more old world and barbaric (we are talking about the Gods of Vikings here), I have to say that they have taken an approach similar to the more recent character design of Thor since the title’s relaunch and I quite like it. Its slick and regal like the son of a king would be, but still has the mail and bulk of a warrior.  And it unmistakably looks like Thor. It feels likes its leapt right off the page.  Mjolnir looks just as heavy and powerful as it should. And the Halls of Asgard looks just as heavenly and regal as you would expect.

CAPTAIN AMERICA

This is one I’ve been waiting a long time for.  I love Captain America.  He’s my Superman without all the ridiculous power. He is a heroic idealism personified in a human being and represents the very best of humanity.  I’ve never been a fan of the casting of Chris Evans as Captain America, he’s always been a very funny actor and though he can do drama, he never, ever struck me as someone who could play the very serious and very devoted Steve Rogers. He also never looked the part so I am dismayed by pics like this when he looks like a kid wearing his dad’s clothes.  Cap is the peak of human fitness, strong, fast and agile. Chris while tall and buff always struck me as much too scrawny for the part.  Even after having beefed up considerably he still feels too small.

The Costume is something that I’ve been concerned about from the start.  Unlike Wolverine or many other characters there isn’t much you can do with Cap’s costume.  You can’t just put him in black leather and call him Captain America. His suit is part of the character, the man draped in the flag of his nation a walking symbol of liberty. He is iconic, and needs to remain iconic as that’s the point of the character both in and out of the comic.  He was a rallying point for his fellow soldiers, to remind them what they were fighting for, to be a symbol and motivator in the bleakest of conditions.  So you can’t mess with the costume too much and get away with it. I understand that liberties will always be taken as what works on the page doesn’t always translate well.  Comic artists aren’t necessarily thinking about practicality when they design costumes for their characters and often it just doesn’t translate well without creative license.

When the concept art was released months ago for the character I was intrigued.  Its was a different approach to the comic character but it worked…on the page.  Here I am not so convinced.  Its a very busy costume, with straps and belts going every which way.  There appears to be little armor or purpose to the design, it looks cumbersome and bulky and lacking practicality that a soldier of war would require. The Iconic look remains but it doesn’t look as finessed as the concept art made it seem.

I like the gloves, the helmet, the belt and holster.  It reminds me of Ultimate Captain America’s costume.  But I am still not sold on the torso. And the shield.  I love the shield! Its beautiful.

Cap aside I am concerned about the design of the Hydra agents behind him.  Their equipment feels much too modern.  Offset against the vintage truck behind them they feel like as anachronism.  They are much too machined and perfect.  While steampunk would have been a little too old something in that direction would have been appropriate.  Advanced technology that looks age appropriate.  I suppose that’s difficult to communicate but I’ve seen it done before and I know its possible.

However, this is all just a first impression.  Its but one still image, months away from the film’s release.  I will need to see all this in action, see the performance and the movement before I can render and actual judgement.  I know I’ve seen other costumes before and thought they were ridiculous until I saw the movie, so I may very well be eating my own words in a few months time. We’ll see…

SPIDER-MAN

There isn’t much known about the new Spider-Man project.  Its difficult to get confirmation about much of anything.  Sure lots of people state that they have official word but few cite sources and are frequently debunked. We don’t even have a title yet.  So I’ve been cautiously optimistic as there is much potential in a new project to do things right, but it could so easily go wrong, and without any official word or tidbits about the story or design, its difficult to judge whether this will be  a decent outting for my favorite superhero or another mess.  He’s been unfortunate in the last decade with a slew of mediocre movies that were heavily miscast to a couple of failed animated series that never caught on.  I still maintain that if they gave Spectacular Spider-Man its due time it would surpass Batman as the best animated series on many people’s lists.

So for all the doubt it was encouraging yesterday to finally see Andrew Garfield  in costume.

First I want to say, on the whole I like it.  However, there are elements I am certainly not fond of. For one the rubber latex look is terrible.  I hope its just the picture, but the costume feels like it was peeled off an old highschool gym class basketball.  Its much to rubbery. People have complained about the textured look but I think its necessary design to keep it from looking like a giant condom. Then there is the webbing pattern.  I fully admit that I didn’t like Raimi’s raised webbing look of the previous series, but it quickly grew on me.  Here its much more muted and understated and I wonder if it will get lost in the photography.  I can’t say I am a big fan of the way it fades down his torso and nearly disappears. The chest spider is interesting.  It may be something that grows on me but it feels a little too much like a graphic artist trying to hard to do something different for the sake of doing something different.  Then there’s the gloves. Again the redesign seems unnecessary, an additional flourish for no real reason, but its something I can live with.  All that bothers me is that they seem to be tweaking for no reason other than to make it look cool, which, again, is unnecessary. As a friend of mine pointed out, if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it.

However, those are all cosmetic complaints.  The real issue is practicality.  Much like Cap this is something I will need to see in motion to really get a sense of whether it was a good idea, but frankly I am concerned that the rubber latex design might be a little too cumbersome. I am not sure Garfield can get a full range of motion in that, and lets face it, Spidey is meant to be a really active character whose physicality defies the usual human limits.  He needs to be flexible and agile. Instead he looks like he would strain him self lifting his arms up to shoot a web.

And where are the seams? I get that they are trying to go for a one piece suit look, but it shouldn’t be one piece.  We are talking about a teenaged superhero who has to change in allies behind the school or in midtown.  He wears this under his clothes and slips on the mask, boots and gloves when he jumps into action.  With a one piece outfit he’s going to have to slip it on like a wetsuit each time he needs to change which is not only cumbersome, but takes time. There should be a break down of his costume that is readily apparent. This is of course all speculation, I could be entirely wrong. But I like to see some thought put into the design, some research into the character that is evident when I see the costume.  I can’t see much of that.

However, there is one thing that brings me hope that we are heading in the right direction.  Its difficult to see but if you blow up the hi-res version of the image and look at his wrists you can see the unmistakable glint of metal. That’s right.  Mechanical webshooters.  No more organic ones.  As much as I liked Raimi’s approach that a highschooler couldn’t design such a complex device for use, that was all negated when we were supposed to accept that a highschooler could design such a complex costume on such a small budget. I am glad to see that Webb and Co have taken a more classic approach to the character which is promising

Design aside, I think Garfield looks terrific. His mop-top hair and scrawny look, with a bag slung over his shoulder, reminds me very much of Ultimate Spider-Man, which is the most encouraging aspect of all. Last week’s spy pics were equally promising.  I am a big fan of Garfield’s jacket and hoody look, again very reminiscent of Ultimate Peter Parker’s design, one that I am a big fan of.  And then there is Gwen.

Gwen has forever been a favorite character of mine.  She is beautiful, intelligent, independent and capable of taking care of herself.  She isn’t the usual damsel-in-distress girlfriend that has become such a tired trope for the Superheroes. She is someone who can challenge Peter emotionally and intellectually. And she was one of the few things about Spider-Man 3 I really enjoyed.  But there wasn’t enough of her.  We barely saw her relationship with her father, which is an integral part of her character, or her annoyance with Parker’s unreliability. So its encouraging to see her in these spy-pics in all her classic glory. The coat, the skirt, the boots, the scarf are all classic gwen.  The only thing that’s missing is the trademark headband, which I can’t fathom why that’s been missing so far. That aside, the small glimpse we have had inside the new Spider-Man production have been encouraging and I look forward to much more.

Now…tell me who the hell is playing Jameson!

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Denis Leary as Captain Stacy

January 14, 2011

 

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