I hope Pacific Rim signals more ginormous robot movies on the way

Ginormous robots. Check.

Titanic monsters. Check.

Sweet visual effects. Check.

Pacific Rim has all the makings of  a brilliant summer blockbuster. Hopefully the script will be up to the challenge of complementing the flashy visuals, but when we take a moment to honestly assess this kind of movie, there’s some expectation of switching the brain machine to “off” and doing some healthy suspension of disbelief to enjoy this kind of movie.

A few thoughts about the trailer:

1. Mr. Del Toro and his concept artists must be big fans of Warhammer 40K’s Tyranids.

The Hive Tyrant’s cousins got big parts in the movie.

Games Workshop: inspiring terrifying creatures everywhere.

2. If a giant robot movie with no pre-existing fan base can make it big, and I certainly hope so for this movie, then it suggests that it is time to bring out the movie that I’ve been waiting for years to see produced: Mechwarrior.

Rolling thunder. In space. With massive dropships. And energy weapons. 100% awesome and then some. Image source: http://shimmering-sword.deviantart.com/art/Unseen-Moon-367110033?q=favby%3Amaxshields%2F55292083&qo=65 He’s an awesome artist. Check him out.

My giddy-o-meter jumps a couple notches at the thought.

Zen – the art of switching off the brain

I’m sorry for the posting paucity, but other issues have been clamouring for my attention over the past little while.

It’s always nice to have something to chill out on when the pressure is on. I enjoy watching this piece with the speakers playing softly. It’s not a great video, but the movement, colour, and music seem to come together to let my mind veg out for a while.

I hope it lets you find your zen moment, too.

On being judgemental – why I could never sit at an Iron Chef’s table

I don’t really watch TV. I am too busy scouring the world for ideas and inspiration, and I find most of what is on television these days to be of little value.  That’s a personal belief and not a judgement on those of you who do enjoy watching the picture box. If it provides an uplifting moment to an otherwise dreary day, makes you laugh, or you find some measure of education in its offerings, more the power to you.

I do get collateral exposure to the telly’s contents when my wife does watch it. She’s a huge fan of all the home renovation, decorating, and cooking shows out there. One indelible impression that I have been left with is that I would be a terrible cooking competition judge. When I see the likes of Mr. Ben-Israel or Mr. Steingarten slam into people who have put their hearts out on their plates, I have to grant them some measure of respect, despite their frequent appearance as insufferable jerks as they render judgement upon the people that stand before them. Were I in a similar position, the moment one of those dishes would be laid out on the table in front of me, it would disappear in a puff of cake shrapnel or splashes of savoury sauce. “Omnomomonomonom!”

Artist’s rendition of Max Shields as a Food Channel judge.

Before the cameras would have had time to pan back fro the Chairman for the chef to explain his magnificent creation, only crumbs would remain on my plate. I like food, you see. I’d probably beg forgiveness the first time, and ask for seconds that I may properly judge. But after the third or fourth time, they’d probably be on to me, so I’d be reduced to picking food off of the other judges’ plates for a while. Even though I’m a nice guy and not really one to degrade the people that hand me food, I am a right proper savage when someone tries to take something away from me without my permission, particularly when food is at stake. Any attempts by the other judges to keep me from accessing their plates would be met with vicious snarling, drooling, and a flashing of fangs. Hungry wolves have got nothing on me.

You think he’s scary? Just you try and take food away from me!

This may somewhat affect the panel’s ability to provide a full review of the meals that have been laid out before them, but I think I can handle that with a “too right!” to one and an “attaboy!” to the other competitor, perhaps an invite out for a beer after the show, because if you’ve put food on my plate, you’re awesome in which way I look at it. We can all be winners, so long as you feed me.

Viewers would probably be more entertained as a wrestling match ensues behind the table, which would probably be good for the show, too. It’s all about the ratings, baby!

Turning the tables: Aaron Diaz’ Zelda as a a protagonist

Dresden Codak artist Aaron Diaz explores Zelda as Link in this stunning illustration inspired by Anita Sarkeesian’s Video Game Tropes vs Women.

I think this clearly illustrates that there is plenty of potential to create strong, engaging characters that can appeal both to men and women in games. Exploitation of the female form in games is a crutch, not a mark of talent. It may certainly drive sales in a certain demographic, but undoubtedly turns off many more players (a hint for dudes: it’s the other 50% of the human race.)

It’s time for the entertainment industry to move beyond trying to appeal to the inner teenage boy’s sex drive and start delivering stories and games that can stand on their own thanks to substance rather than T&A.

The Hobbit in HD – An Unexpected CG

I did not catch The Hobbit while it was showing in theatres. Thanks to the magic of iTunes,  I purchased the HD edition and began feasting my eyes on…PS 3 video game footage?

I’ve never seen a Blu-ray edition of the Lord of the Rings, so it is hard for me to compare, but the photography seems off somehow. Clearly, the Hobbit was made by incredibly talented artists, but for some reason I am unable to let myself get sucked into the story as I did for the LOTR. The image quality is surreal, too crisp, and what may well be carefully-crafted creature masks look like CG. Perhaps they are CG, which may explain that aspect. Nonetheless, I find my suspension of disbelief challenged at every scene. The villains don’t quite seem to be physically present, but rather appear as uncanny apparitions on screen, unlike the masked orks, goblins, and uruks of the LOTR. Herein lies the rub for FX-heavy movies, and with television technology pushing towards ever-higher resolutions the effort needed to seamlessly blend live action and CG will become ever more difficult. Entirely CG films also run the risk of looking like elaborate cut scenes from video games rather than feature length blockbusters.

As much as I loved Peter Jackson’s efforts to bring to life LOTR, wondrously lifting the images my imagination had built years before and displaying them in the flesh, I am not so certain it works as well for the Hobbit. A few observations:

1. The Hobbit takes place in a more innocent time than LOTR, and this is reflected in the tone both the book and the film set, but I am not quite so sure that singing dwarves translates from paper very well.

2. Azog looks like a computer game character pasted onto most scenes. Though my recollection of the book’s version is clouded by the decades since I read it, don’t recall him having that prominent a role. A useful tool to stretch the film out into a trilogy, I suppose.

The Uncanny Azog

3. Have I mentioned the paradox of fancy graphics vs. physical effects yet? Just checking. There’s CG here. Lots of it.

4. It’s still a fun movie, and it fits into the LOTR, so I’ll probably end up watching it again a few times, regardless. The true curse of the Ring!

Uber’s uber-solid model design

I am always awed by the beauty of strong design. The folks over at Uber recently released a new batch of imagery for their upcoming game, Planetary Annihilation.

Uber Entertainment’s Planetary Annihilation blog

They convey so much information through the use of simple shapes and strong textures.

All I can say is ‘wow’!