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Jan 2012 19

by A.J. Focht

With its release scheduled for July 20 of this year, The Dark Knight Rises is now well into its post-production and marketing phase. Entertainment Weekly was the first to debut several official shots in their issue last week. On top of several shots of Bane and others inside the magazine, the cover featured a close up of Batman and his new suit.

A new still has flown in from the set of The Man of Steel as well. The shot isn’t official, and is a bit blurry, but even out of context, it’s pretty epic. It features a fire truck that has been impaled by a tree and what could possibly be Superman underneath doing said impaling.

Despite all the epic news coming out from other superhero films, we’re being reassured that Iron Man III will be one of the best superhero movies ever. Now that is a tall order considering the lackluster spectacle that was Iron Man II, but Robert Downey Jr. has added his weight to the claim that the third film could be one of the best superhero movies of all time. The film will be going back to its roots and is looking to recapture the elements that made the first film successful.

The CW hasn’t given up on riding the superhero train. They are now working on a pilot episode of DC Comics’ Green Arrow franchise. Unfortunately, Justin Hartley, who became well known for his portrayal of the Green Arrow on Smallville, is not involved with the project.

Speaking of DC Comics, the company has gone through another logo change. They have gotten some flak for their past logo changes, but this might be by far the worst. Their new logo screams ‘CORPORATION’ not ‘COMICS.’

After concluding its second season on BBC, Sherlock has been renewed for a third. The show’s co-creator, Steven Moffat, confirmed the renewal via Twitter. The second season in the series is set to premiere on PBS this spring.

Talking of turning classic tales into shows, NBC is making a television series based on the Dracula lore. The series is going to be set in the 1890’s, and is being developed by Tony Krantz and Cole Haddon. While Dracula is the iconic vampire, I don’t see the need for anymore vampire television for a few years.

That isn’t to say there aren’t some vampire stories still worthy of being told on screen. For instance, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter has just released several new pics and a behind the scenes video. And the historical fiction doesn’t end there. The second most badass president (first place still goes to ol’ honest Abe) is getting his own film. That right, FDR American Badass will feature our polio stricken president fighting Nazi werewolves.

Abigail Spencer has joined the Whedonverse and will star in Joss Whedon’s next film. What film is that exactly? Well the only details we have is that it’s a “supernatural romance.” Spencer does comment that, “It’s the most romantic film in the history of time.” There is no saying what Joss is up too, but let’s be honest, has he let us down yet?

On a final note, it looks like George Lucas is going to be taking things easier. After the release of his upcoming film, Red Tails, Lucas will be taking on his own form of retirement. What this seems to mean is he will no longer be working blockbuster films, and will instead focus on movies on a smaller scale. Lucas has also been rather honest about why he has made this decision, and it’s all our faults. The massive amount of negative fan criticism from the Star Wars prequels and special editions really hurt him. Who would want to keep making films for fanboys who hate you? Despite flaws in his latter work, this fan would just like to say, “Thank you.” George Lucas transformed the world of sci-fi for so many of us, and we must respect the tremendous effect he has had on the evolution of nerdom.

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Jan 2012 11

By 99Percent

It was a casual Sunday and I found myself walking through the local video game store. I’m always on the lookout for games that are influenced by real-world events, geopolitics or other revolutionary ideas as presented in digital form. While I’m still waiting for the ultimate game that portrays presidential elections, an upcoming release by a major global gaming studio has caught my eye and for possibly the wrong reasons.

Ubisoft is updating Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six series with a new sequel in 2013. Only this time, the baddies aren’t mysterious investment bank-type Arabs pointing Kalashnikovs. After seemingly an entire generation of blowing up Muslims, we’re finally getting a reprieve from the barrage of first-person-shooters that portray all of the Middle East as though it were one big underground weapons market.

So who (or what) has become the latest enemy of the state to be deemed a necessary kill for Clancy disciples in the video game world?

It just might be the 99 Percent.

You knew this would happen sooner or later. According to early press reports and box art, the enemy of America now comes from within. Rainbow Six: Patriots is a squad-based game that paints those who fight for economic inequality as a terrorist threat.

Early simulated clips that may or may not make the final release are indeed astounding. The opening scene of the first working imagery officially released portrays a home invasion – complete with the physical assault of the mother of a newborn baby – as undertaken by a band of anti-corporate zealots. Here’s a snippet of dialogue from a YouTube preview as released by Ubisoft…

“You really did cash in on everyone else getting foreclosed didn’t you? Today, you’re going to make up for that…”

Wow. I guess we’ve all been waiting for a blockbuster shooter that paints the 1 percent as victims. Thanks Tom Clancy. If violence again rears it’s ugly head at future protests, I guess we’ll know who is throwing fuel on the fire.

For those that don’t feel like watching the preview footage, what unfolds then is an exercise in violence gone amok as an apparently American-born, kevlar-vest wearing terrorist known within the game as a “True Patriot” proceeds to strap an explosive device on a docile target. It all ends in more violence as the well-armed hero Rainbow Six team can’t seem to solve the bomb problem, so they throw the target off a bridge in New York City which may or may not be the George Washington.

Given that some consider video games like these to be military trainers, many of the people whose voices gave birth to the Occupy movement are likely to be revolted and disgusted that some of their protest messages may now be fodder for what could turn out to be a very violent and very scary simulation.

Worse, does this game further encourage the militarization of domestic policing with respect to the portrayal of anti-establishment protesters?

The “True Patriot” moniker given the American terrorists in this game seems like a mix of Tea Party and Occupy movements. Granted, the game is in very early in development, but this ripped-from-the-headlines approach should upset some of the 99 Percent who hold nonviolent civil disobedience to be one of the founding principles that helped shine a spotlight on a progressive voice of unity.

If the new terror threat is indeed an underclass emboldened by cries of “this is what democracy looks like,” we’re all going to be in a lot more trouble than we think. By the end of many of the Occupy encampments, some of the public opinion voiced against those protesting was clearly being molded by a media that sought to vilify the Occupy movement as a stinking underbelly that needed to be held under the boot of a police state.

If the next step is really to turn weapons – even the digital kind – upon this group, a new front has been opened up in an entertainment propaganda / information war that civic, cloud-based journalism may find impossible to counter.

Seems the 1 percent has quite a few tricks up their golden-cufflinked sleeves.

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Jan 2012 11

by A.J. Focht


[Bob and Kemper in Droids You’re Looking For]

Superheroes are taking back Saturday mornings. A few weeks ago, Cartoon Network announced they were doing a new block of programing called DC Nation that would feature the DC heroes. Now its Marvel’s turn for the kind of cartoon resurgence we’ve been waiting for ever since Disney bought them out. The mouse-eared company will be starting their own superhero programming block called Marvel Universe. It will provide exclusive Marvel content including series of The Avengers, Hulk, Iron Man, and Thor. They will also be doing a Spider-Man series based on the Ultimate Spider-Man line, but it will feature Peter Parker, not the new Miles Morales.

Thor 2 has seen a lot of trouble pre-production, but they’ve finally settled on a writer. Robert Rodat, whose previous credits include Saving Private Ryan, will be penning the sequel to the Marvel blockbuster. The script needs to be completed pretty soon as they plan to start filming this summer.

The live action Star Wars television series is not just a myth, and now it has a name. In a recent interview with IGN, Rick McCallum, producer and right-hand man of George Lucas himself, announced the working title for the series is Star Wars: Underworld. There is no sure date when it will launch; they are apparently waiting until they can economically produce it for $5 million an episode.

Star Trek 2 has added a new cast member in the form of Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch. While his exact role has not been named, it is widely considered he will be a new villain in the J.J. Abrams sequel.

There is a new face to Ash William from the Evil Dead series, and she looks nothing like Bruce Campbell. Lily Collins (The Blind Side) is the first official member to join the cast of the new incarnation, taking the lead role. Now, to be fair, she will not be Ash, her name will be Mia. She will however being playing a part very similar to that played by Campbell in the 1981 original. I hope her name is actually Michael or something of the like just as a throwback to Ashley (Ash) Williams.

While were thinking about zombies, is this a good time to mention that World War Z will be a trilogy. After a chorus of complaints about the first one taking place during the actual Zombie War and not after like the book does, this may be Paramount Pictures way of making up for that, or more likely just a way to capitalize on the fad. Either way, we can hope the second and third movie will do the book some justice where it looks like the first will fail.

AMC is on a roll with innovative programming like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, and now they are bringing a mafia classic back to life. The company is producing a cable series based on the Martin Scorsese 1990 mobster classic, Goodfellas. To make the news even better, Nicholas Pileggi, writer of the movie and the original non-fiction book it was based on, Wiseguy, is set to co-write the series.

We have another classic being brought back to life, albeit in a different medium. After twenty-five years as a cult favorite, The Labyrinth will be getting a prequel in the form of a graphic novel. The long rumored project will explore the story of how Jareth, the guy played by David Bowie, comes to the Labyrinth for the first time.

Finally, just a friendly reminder to everyone wanting to attend San Diego Comic-Con 2012, they have changed their registration system. If you would like to register for a ticket to go, you first have to preregister for a Member ID. You can start this process now via the Comic-Con website. Just don’t get stuck being unable to snag a ticket the day they go on sale because you didn’t preregister.

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Jan 2012 09

by Morgan

Hello again fellow nerds! It’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed some games. I know, I blame Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for taking up a huge chunk of my free time. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been playing other games, and I’ve found some treasures.

1. Egress (PC / Free)

This is a pretty short game at about 30 minutes per playthrough, but it’s a gem. Evoking the mood of Duncan Jones’ movie Moon, this sci-fi point and click adventure puts you in the role of the captain of a 2-man space mission who has lost his crew-mate to mysterious, shadowy aliens. The plotline is engrossing and the art and music are well done, which both serve to make up for the slow transition scenes (many of which can be avoided by pressing ESC) and one very baffling puzzle. If you choose to play this interesting and unique free game, never fear if you get stuck on this particular puzzle: plenty of people have provided hints online.

***

2. Dark Meadow (iPhone & iPad / $5.99)

Imagine a slightly calmer Silent Hill run on the Unreal engine and you’ve got this game. When you start this your character will wake up in a creepy run down mental hospital, one of my favorite horror tropes, with a helpful stranger talking to you over the intercom system. You can then wander the halls searching for items and fighting creepy, mutant-like enemies and finding “safe” areas in which you can further unravel the story behind this sanitarium. Since your character never dies, but instead is transported back to their original room, this game decreases frustration, plus you get more background information from your intercom friend each time you awaken. The atmosphere and gameplay make this well worth its pricetag.

***

3. St. Mistu (iOS / $0.99)

On a completely different note, this cute and charming game is fantastic and is less than a dollar. You begin with a scene setting up the plot: a blind man is making pizza for himself, and realizes that he has run out of olives! Refusing to eat pizza without his favorite ingredient, he must get to the store. However, the world outside is full of obstacles, and you must show his guide log the best route to get him through each scene on his quest. The art is gorgeous and hand-drawn and the game strikes the perfect balance between cute and challenging. It’s also the perfect game to play on trips, as you can play it for five minutes or half an hour.

***

4. The Gamebook Adventures (iOS / $4.99 each)

I was introduced to these when the newest game in the city, Temple of the Spider God came out and the entire catalog of Gamebook Adventures went on sale. I snatched up three immediately under the assumption that if I loved playing Dungeons and Dragons I would enjoy these. I was right! They can best be described as “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories combined with classic dice-rolling RPG gameplay. Each is an interesting story set in an original world, and as you read through you are presented with options that alter the story as you go. You’ll also fight battles and gain achievements along the way. The stories are long and involved, and interesting enough that you will want to go back and replay them to find alternate paths. They’re excellent both for those familiar with adventure gameplay and great for someone looking for an introduction – like this little fella.

***

Related Posts:
Morgan’s Casual Game Recommendations: Pt 7
Morgan’s Casual Game Recommendations: Pt 6
Morgan’s Casual Game Recommendations: Pt 5
Morgan’s Casual Game Recommendations: Pt 4
Morgan’s Casual Game Recommendations: Pt 3
Morgan’s Casual Game Recommendations: Pt 2
Morgan’s Casual Game Recommendations: Pt 1

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Jan 2012 04

by A.J. Focht

The New Year is off to a good start as nerd rage scores one over the film industry. After the massive amount of complaints surrounding Bane’s voice in The Dark Knight Rises, Warner Bros. has cracked and made it easier to understand in the audio mix. While Christopher Nolan had no intentions of changing the voice, the studio’s fear of the fan outrage won out.

That wasn’t the only news from The Dark Knight Rises to break last week. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Anne Hathaway released some previously unknown details about scenes in the film. As if that wasn’t enough, the forty second montage from the prologue was leaked last week, and promptly removed.

Marvel Studios has released a new movie poster for The Avengers. The poster taps into the recent fad for classic looking movie posters. While the art style rather interesting, the poster is just about what you would have expected.

After five years of legal wrangling, the courts have made a decision as to the proper owners of Ghost Rider. No shocker, but Marvel will retain the rights. The case was brought to the court by Gary Friedrich, the modern re-creator of Ghost Rider. Marvel commissioned him to update their original Ghost Rider, a cowboy, and he delivered with the well-known skeleton motorcycle rider. Unfortunately for Mr. Friedrich, he signed over all rights of his character to Marvel, twice. It was on this grounds that the court decided that Marvel would keep all rights, and Friedrich, whose complaint stemmed from being cut out of the profits from the first movie, won’t be seeing profits from the upcoming sequel either. Just a good reminder to all artists to make sure they keep track of their intellectual rights.

Some more legal bullshitting coming out of Marvel; their lawyers are now proposing the case that the X-Men are not human. While the Mutant versus Human status has long been an issue in the comics, this time it’s being used in the real world for capitalistic gain. Certain countries tax less on figures that are not human, and thus, Marvel must insist that the X-Men are not humans. Perhaps these countries should change the wording to ‘humanoid’ to avoid confusion.

The largest scale model of Serenity has been found in the depths of the Universal Archives. The replica builders at Quantum Mechanix came across the model used in the Firefly series and had a chance to take several photos. Someone really should consider rescuing this piece and putting it some sort of science fiction museum, lest it disappears again into the depths, never to be seen again.

One last bit of news, Netflix has released a three minute trailer for their first original series Lilyhammer. It follows the story of an ex-mobster who enters the witness protection program. Sopranos veteran Steven Van Zandt plays the role of the protagonist, Frank ‘The Fixer’ Tagliano. This is the debut original series to come from Netflix, but they have several others in the works, including the final season of Arrested Development.

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Dec 2011 28

by A.J. Focht

Another batch of photos from the Amazing Spider-Man have been released. Unlike the previous photos that have focused on Andrew Garfield and the Spider-Man suit, these photos include shots of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy as well.

Despite all the drama surrounding Patty Jenkins’ departure from Thor 2, Marvel studios is pushing forward and has announced that Game of Thrones director Helmer Alan Taylor will now be directing the film. Assuming there are no other delays, the film should be set to meet the previously scheduled November 15, 2013 release date.

Walt Disney, parent company of Marvel, is getting their greedy hands into the comic giant’s upcoming projects. Despite all of the calls not to, Disney will be releasing The Avengers in 3D. The film was not shot in 3D, and the 3D will all be added in postproduction. The good news is Joss Whedon has come out and said that the film will not be “obnoxiously 3D.”

Speaking of Disney messing with the Marvel movies, they have also announced that an unnamed Marvel project has been bumped up from June 2014 to April 2014. With one other unnamed project scheduled for May 2014, there are rumors that it is because the films will be related in some way. As the two movies are still unannounced though, speculation is rife as to what they might be.

There is confirmation that Watchmen 2 is underway. Bleeding Cool published the cover art to Watchemen 2, but was then contacted by DC and asked to remove it. Most of the reposts have also been taken down, but we can tell you they featured Nite Owl by Andy Kubert and Joe Kubert.

The cast of Ender’s Game has just gained some true star power. Harrison Ford has officially signed on to play Colonel Hyram Graff. And in case Ford doesn’t provide enough box office oomph, they have also landed Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) to portray Petra Arkanian. This cast of the film is really giving me high hopes that it will end up a sci-fi classic rather than a dud.

On the day the Prometheus trailer was to release, it was leaked. Just hours after, the official trailer was “debuted” by the studio. It finally sheds some light on what the movie is about. Simply put: as humans search for their beginning, they may find their end.

More news from Middle-earth; To help celebrate the holidays, Peter Jackson posted his fifth production blog. This video focused on the location of the shooting, and includes some reasoning for filming in New Zealand.

It’s always fun to see the power of the internet in action. It’s even more fun to see the power of fanboys and fangirls – especially when they’re angry that their favorite sci-fi show has been cancelled unduly early. A few months ago, University of Wisconsin-Stout theater professor James Miller, who was also such a fanboy, posted an infamous Firefly quote outside his office to protest against the show’s untimely demise at the hands of Fox.

You don’t know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake. You’ll be facing me. And you’ll be armed.

The campus police failed to appreciate the geeky reference, or the irony – that the quote isn’t about killing but about playing fair – and removed the “offending” quotation. But it didn’t end there. The school authorities threatened Miller with criminal charges, and fearing for his job, he contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) to defend his right to free speech. After the school refused to back down, the case was taken to the internet jury. This video explains how the online massive – and Neil Gaiman – helped Miller defeat the close-minded educational institution.

A final cheerful clip to brighten the last of the holidays, for those who didn’t catch it, Stan Lee had an amazing cameo in Chuck’s holiday special.

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Dec 2011 21

by A.J. Focht

Attached to the Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol IMAX screenings is a new six minute prologue for Dark Knight Rises. Many bootlegged copies were spread around online after its release, but Warner Bros. has done a good job of shutting them all down. For those not able to visit an IMAX theater and see the prologue, the first official trailer has been released. While Christian Bale’s voice in The Dark Knight was a running joke, it looks like Bane’s voice may be worse. Even though Warner Bros. is nervous about the fan response to the voice, Nolan refuses to change it.

Reports that Patty Jenkins left her position directing Thor 2 of her own accord may have been fabricated. Recently, sources reveal that she may have been terminated without any proper cause. Natalie Portman is said to be very upset over these changes, as she signed onto the film specifically because Jenkins was supposed to be directing it. While it’s unclear which story is correct, there is clearly drama brewing among the cast that could affect the movie’s deadline.

No more waiting for bits and pieces of information on the Amazing Spider-Man. Sony has launched the official website for the film. The site includes photos, trailers, information and more goodies. Any information on the movie that you’ve been wanting will likely be found there.

Following the release of a batch of posters last week, the producers of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance have released a new official trailer. It definitely captures the dark tone that the new film was going for while keeping the black humor that fans expect.

That’s it for the superhero movies, but there is one other big superhero project on the horizon. Marvel Comics will be making a novel adaptation of their classic Civil War storyline. Civil War was one of the most groundbreaking events in comics, and the novel, to be written by Stuart Moore, is set to hit shelves in June 2012.

Ridley Scott released a series of posters for his upcoming project Prometheus earlier this week, and has followed them up with teaser trailer footage. The first official full trailer will release this Thursday. While the project is not related to the Aliens universe, the posters and footage give it a very similar feeling.

First he’s in Oz, then he’s not, and now he is again. The roller coaster that is Bruce Campbell’s role in the upcoming Oz: The Great and Powerful has kept the rumor mill turning. Most recently, we hear he’s back in and they have shot footage. While we still don’t know exactly what role he is playing, he did mention he will have a confrontation with Oz (played by James Franco).

For the manga lovers out there, there is some great news regarding Rurouni Kenshin. The first trailer of the live action movie has hit the internet. The film looks extremely well done, and the character casting appears to be spot on. It’s currently slated to hit Japanese theaters on August 25, 2012.

A full synopsis of The Hobbit has been released. No real surprises here, but a good chance to familiarize yourself with the story and what you can expect from the movie, if you don’t know already that is. To go along with that, the official trailer has been released. It’s looking to be just as epic as any of the Lord of the Rings movies.

Who is the best vampire slayer of all-time? If you answered Blade or Buffy, you’re wrong. The correct answer is, Abraham Lincoln. New posters for Tim Burton’s imagining of the Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter book have been released. The official plot synopsis tells us that the film will explore the secret life of our greatest president, an untold story that shaped our nation. Amongst the wave of Twilight-inspired vampire trash, it will be nice to have a quality, dark, and likely humorous vampire story told in a way that only Tim Burton can.

On a final note, Doctor Who: Worlds In Time will preview this week. The new game based on the popular BBC sci-fi series is a free-to-play, browser based MMO game. Players choose their avatars and interact in a game environment with a traditional ‘Flash-based’ art style. While it’s not a big budget MMO, it should be a nice treat for those whole like to spend quality time with Time Lords.

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