Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Great Scott; it's 2015!

We're here! Back to the Future's future! (Well, we will be by 21st October!)

So what's happening? Well, for entertainment (films in particular), we are COVERED:

Avengers: Age of Ultron,
Jurassic World,
Terminator: Genisys,
Ant-Man,
Spectre,
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Lookin' good! ^^ Now, considering some of my previous posts, I think it's clear that I'll be the most excited for Jurassic World!

(For my previous post in my Jurassic series, CLICK-A-HERE!)

Seriously; cannot wait, now! As it slowly approaches like a T. Rex impact tremor, we keep learning so much more about the dinosaurs that will feature. I was ecstatic when I learned that the T. Rex from the first film is coming back. And this is not just a recreation of that type of Rex, like the 'Classic Predator' in Predators, but this Rex is exact same character! How amazing is that?! She's been living on Isla Nublar for over two decades now. The new company of Jurassic World, Masrani, has taken over everything that InGen used to do and brought a functioning park to life in 2005. There appears to be a T. Rex-dominated area to the North and it seems that Masrani has been looking after the old girl since.
   But there are still so many questions! Will she be the only T. Rex on the island? If so, is she the matriarch? It seems that all the official stuff says that it's her and her alone, but I think I remember seeing a few things that may indicate otherwise and I actually sort of hope that there are a few younger ones! Now then, we're confident that she'll certainly serve at least one purpose in context of the narrative, which we'll elaborate on in a bit, but for now, I'll let you watch the latest trailer for Jurassic World (again if needs be) ^^


DID YOU SEE?! XD But yeah; now we move on to the big bad boy of the film, the Indominus Rex. 'But wait, that's not a dinosaur!' I hear your inner paleontologist cry...Why, that's exactly the point, m'dearies! ^^ As I've mentioned in previous Jurassic World posts, over the years the fourth film has stirred some very *ahem* questionable concepts...But now they've finally brought fourth an idea that makes all the sense in the world! ^^ Indominus Rex is a genetic hybrid composed of various different dinosaurs, so this expands on the science of the first film (using frog/lizard/bird DNA to fill in sequence gaps) and thematically it brings it back around to the ethics of playing God (as well as this, the Spinosaurus from the third film was a lot more stronger and powerful than its prehistoric counterpart would've been, alluding to the fact that InGen may have experimented with extra genetic material for it...Also may explain the frilled neck for the Dilophosaurus from the first film).
   Chris Pratt's character, Star-Lord Owen fills in the voice of reason that we saw from Malcolm, Sattler & Grant from the first film. Think of Owen as a condensed character...! ("Probably not a good idea." is a single line that sums up the entire dinner scene in Jurassic Park! XD) He also seems to be filling Muldoon's role too, as the ranger/warden, but rather than trying to keep Raptors confined, he seems to be training a few...! Well, you can see parallels with real-world zoos and trainers with dangerous big cats or some-such, but at least the Raptors aren't weaponized or mutant human hybrids! XD There's a sense of Owen knowing that he could be lunch at any second and that the Raptors know that he knows he could be lunch at any second, so perhaps there's a strange symbiotic connection going on, here. Maybe, like real animals in captivity, Owen has raised these Raptors in particular from birth? OR how about; one of these Raptors was the little new-born was saw hatch in Jurassic Park (and then handled by Grant)? Considering the Rex, that wouldn't be a surprise! ^^
   Anyway, yes, back to Rexes...! Like I say, with each new event that swings by, we learn a bit more, especially with the Indominus Rex. With the Super Bowl we were given the new trailer linked above. With that we were treated to more glimpses of the I. Rex and soon after, the official details were revealed HERE with all the stats and such. As of writing this post, one thing I noticed was that the length of the I. Rex is 'currently 12 metres'.

'CURRENTLY'.


Now then, as of this posting, Toy Fair in New York is winding up and a whole boat-load of Jurassic World merchandise has been revealed (from both LEGO and Hasbro). From all the awesome stuff it looks like the I. Rex will be a lot bigger than the T. Rex in the film. Bear in mind that the official site is designed virally, to look like it's actually representing the island in real-time, so by the time the film is released, we'll get updated status on the size of the I. Rex...Most likely!
   And onto New York Toy Fair; through the goodies on show, we had our first full eye-full at what the I. Rex will look like! ^^ Also its roar (which sounds like the Wolf Predator from AVPR)! And the fact that its mouth will open 90-degrees! Also confirmation of its ability to change colour to blend! To see it and more, check this Hasbro round-up link from SciFied.
   Way may see even more in a future trailer, but what's interesting is how little we're seeing in the trailers and marketing in general...They're holding back on showing us a lot! And that's understandable; we want to be wowed by the practical effects, we want to be on edge when the I. Rex is hunting some poor fool...We want the cinematic experience to be as fresh as possible. But the most prominant example of holding back of all returns us to the Tyrant Lizard King (or Queen, technically). Where's the T. Rex? We've seen images of her on the merchandise and website, but absolutely no footage of her is available (yet).

Even the 'Park Cam' at the T. Rex Paddock isn't giving us any glimpses.

Now, this may annoy some fans, but I really, really am okay with not seeing the T. Rex until the film itself. It does seem like we're going for a big, grand reveal! I'm thinking that she'll serve as a Godzilla-like role; she hunts and feeds for her own gratification, regardless of humans, her purpose for the narrative will be get rid of the 'challenger' to remain the Apex, references are peppered throughout the film, but we hold back until her reveal, which when it happens, will be an entrance to die for!
   How she will be revealed will be interesting too (and I'm basing this on what evidence there is); first of all, we'll have probably had the I. Rex causing as much havoc as possible, so it gets to that point of Owen's line "We're gonna hit it with everything we've got." *Cue his Raptor Pack*. So Claire (Bryce Dallas-Howard) will have to awaken the veteren:

(Image courtesy of JurassicWorld.com - Amblin/Universal)
We've seen this clip/image in both trailers, so how do we know? Well, the flare says it all! ^^ Remember how the T. Rex was easily distracted by the flare in Jurassic Park? It wouldn't be a stretch to say that the folk who take care of the Rex in World would be notified that she likes flares! *Cue T. Rex in swingin' '60s trousers* (Does this also mean the potential possibility of a surprise cameo by Sam Neill as Dr. Grant?)
   But going by the dressed-down appearence, it seems late on in the film, so there's an argument for awakening the Rex as a last resort. As that door opens, she has the look of terror of a person with nothing between her and the Rex. (If you had to make a T. Rex follow you, you'd be scared, too!)
   The absolute head of the nail in this theory is that one of the LEGO sets revealed will feature the T. Rex and the box design clearly shows the Rex chasing a character on a bike; flare in hand!

(Image courtesy of geekologie.com)
And you can see all the Jurassic World LEGO that was revealed HERE.

All the sets are from the new film, but I really, really hope they will do some from the original trilogy...In fact, if you recall, I have a wish-list!


Oh yes; WE'RE GETTING A LEGO GAME, TOO! *Happy dancing*

(*Side-not, yes, we KNOW this is the third time Chris Pratt will be a LEGO character, but he is not alone in multi-minifigure actor-land! ^^ Others include;

Harrison Ford - Indiana Jones & Star Wars
Warwick Davis - Star Wars & Harry Potter
Samuel L. Jackson - Star Wars & Marvel
Christopher Lee - Star Wars & Middle-earth
Orlando Bloom - Middle-earth & Pirates of the Caribbean
Johnny Depp - Pirates of the Caribbean & The Lone Ranger)

So there's my excitement for Jurassic World, fuelled by New York Toy Fair. Only remains for me to say that I won't be posting much on this Blog anymore. (Whaddya mean, I don't, anyway?! XD) THING IS, I have a new radio show that I'm doing at BCB: Bradford Community Broadcasting. It's called The Fandomain and after the broadcasts, the shows will end up on: fandomain-hub.blogspot.org

Basically it's an outlet for me to talk about what I love, but it's inclusive, so come on board! ^^ It's not just dinosaurs, we cover a range of things. So now, if I need to offload about stuff extensively, or requiring visual aid, or fan-fiction, or whatever, you'll find it here. Anything worth yapping about will be heard on the show.

See y'all around.

AM

Monday, 1 December 2014

Pacific Rim - The One that Got Away

((This Pacific Rim headcanon's a culmination of a number of things; the original concept for Trespasser, which had a damaged, more 'used' look to it before they decided logically all Kaiju would emerge pristine, hence the evolution into Trepasser, the NECA action figure based on the concept art itself, and the growl at the very end of the credits of Pacific Rim itself, suggesting there's at least one Kaiju still out there...!))

18:51 - Shatterdome, Hong Kong, 2026

Alright, you lot...Look...

It's been uh...Nearly been seven months since the clock was stopped. Seven months since we closed the breach. Seven months since we lost Pentecost...

Seven months since I lost my boy.

I know several of you have questions, even concerns, regarding my status as Marshall. I don't care if they're health concerns or whatever mental thing you think I've got. The simple fact of the matter is; we stopped the Kaiju coming through to our world. But we didn't stop the Kaiju. No way. I mean, crikey, we were lucky to even close the breach! But that's thanks to our research team. Geiszler & Gottlieb successfully drifted with the Kaiju hive-mind. And what they saw...What they experienced...Well, they told me everything they could about this...Other world. The masters of this world created the Kaiju directly beneath the breach. And that's where Gipsy Danger went off. The point is; she only destroyed that area. Our doctors told me it was only a little part of that world. It's a very good chance they're still alive, over there. And they'll be looking for revenge. Even though we kicked them square in the arse, I've got a feeling they won't take no for an answer. They're gonna try again. And we've gotta get the upper hand.

You all know Striker's record; eleven kills. Well, what if I were to tell you; one of those kills wasn't officially confirmed...? There was one...We detected it off the North coast of New Zealand; headed straight for Brisbane. My boy and I met it half-way. 'Axehead' we called it. Looked a bit like the one who stomped through San Francisco. But there was something immensely different about this one...The way it behaved. Obviously we know now about the hive-mind. It must've remembered us through previous Kaiju. They all must've done...But *this* one...Like it was fixated. We tried all our usual killing moves and all we got was a broken horn. Its life signs never went down. It just disappeared. Our comms were damaged, so when we got back, everyone thought it was another kill.

Like hell it was.



It's still out there...Probably part of the deep ocean ecosystem now; having a whale of a time. Probably actually having a few whales! And considering all the Kaiju that came after it and everything that's happened since...It knows the breach is gone. It's felt all the pain and defeat of all the other Kaiju...It'll be angry; stewing in its own rage in the deep black sea. But more importantly it'll know what's happening on its own world. It'll be in constant communication with its folks. We need to tap into that. If we do, we can find out exactly when and how they'll be trying to return. We'll also know what orders this lone soldier has been getting in the meantime.

And I think we know one or two of those orders, already. You'll have heard in the news that three oil tankers and two container ships disappeared beneath the Atlantic in the past few months. What you won't have heard is that none of them went down quietly. This bastard's gone to the other side of the world to cause maximum chaos without getting in harms way. So you'll understand if I've been a bit pissed off, lately.

And you'll understand why I had Crimson Typhoon's body fished out of Hong Kong harbour. No disrespect intended...But it's the second most intact Jaeger we've got. Coyote Tango, on the other hand, will soon be coming out of retirement with a radiation-shielding upgrade.

All you potential pilot candidates have got a second chance. We're going after the sneakiest, most dangerous Kaiju out there, so get ready.

- Marshall Hercules Hansen

((Many thanks for everyone concerned for Pacific Rim and NECA for another amazing figure! I tried to get a photo that captures a 'caught in the spotlight' moment for Axehead, adding to the whole 'one who got away' motif...Hopefully it's alright! ^^))

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Wonder Woman (and DC) Musings

Hello!

Exactly seven months since I last did a post! But that's because of awesome stuff, which I'll get around to after the next few weeks...

For now, a late-night thing...I take it everybody has heard about DC and their attempts to try and catch up with Marvel?


(GIF not mine)

Cute, isn't it? ^^

Or not...If you consider what DC have been up to recently...

The point is, As soon as Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury said 'Avengers' back in 2008, everybody realized Marvel were kick-starting something unprecedented. They knew what was coming. And everybody knew that if DC and Warner Bros. were to ever try and match them with their own cinematic universe with the Justice League, it would be seen in many different ways (by film fanatics, comic-book afficianados and common audiences) as a copy-cat move.

Yes it would, but that would mean we'd have the first live action Wonder Woman on screen! Why pick out this character in particular? Well, she is arguably one of the three most famous DC characters EVER...So how many actors have played a live-action Batman? 7. How many for Superman? 6. But Wonder Woman? ONE. 1. UNO. SOLO. ETC. (More like 'Oneder Woman', am I right?! Okay, you get the idea...)

(via https://twitter.com/marlaerwin/status/466391974866853890/photo/1
 And kudos to Lynda Carter!)




Here's where I could be letting off steam...You see, Zack Snyder brought us Man of Steel last year. Putting aside the obvious things to complain about for a second, he peppered the film with a few teasers to a wider universe of characters...For example; Lex Luthor, his (eventual) arch-nemesis. Everybody who left the film without a headache (seriously, it's the only film I have ever gotten an actual headache from) were gearing up for the inevitable sequel. What we would've expected #2 to contain would be things such as; Kal-El adjusting to city life (from a rural upbringing), friendly romantic and professional competition with Lois Lane at the Daily Planet and actually helping to rebuild Metropolis as Superman and actually saving people...This time...Y'know, being a hero. I read somewhere that Lex Luthor could be introduced as the actual man to save Metropolis by funding the relief and rebuilding efforts...Using his nefarious ways to paint Superman as a destructive force not suitable for the city. Conflict would ensue with who the public should trust, and so on...


The thing is, I would be one hundred percent behind this idea...If it weren't for Zack Snyder. I was okay with Man of Steel, in that I can justify it as the Casino Royale of the franchise, to some extent...We only really got to see Kal-El become the Clark Kent/Superman we're familiar with, right at the end. Many people agree that we need a stand-alone sequel where we see him be the hero we deserve AND need! (Yes, I went there.) It's logical! But of course, this is Snyder we were hoping this from...I'm surprised anybody actually trusted him with any thought of logic!

So, coming 2016, we'll be getting an as-yet-untitled 'Batman vs. Superman' film. Snyder awkwardly dropped this bombshell at San Diego Comic-Con 2013. And like a young child with his action figures, he doesn't want them shoulder-to-shoulder in a story to inspire team-work and friendship, he wants them SMACKIN' THE CRAP OUTTA EACH OTHER!!!

The subsequent collective sighs scared the environmentalists of the world...('Cause...CO2...)

Okay, so Batman and Superman on screen together for the first time; cool...But we knew the DC would be going in this direction, somehow. See, going back to the teasers; one of them was a Wayne Enterprises satellite. I spotted it! And now back to the Lex Luthor idea, it would've been interesting for a standalone Man of Steel 2 to subtley reference that Luthor is not the only donator for the Metropolis relief effort. It would give Superman a chance to look into it at the epilogue and discover the nearest one; Bruce Wayne of Gotham City...Then Kal-El's next quest is to find him and uncover what his interest is in Metropolis. BOOM. Credits roll...Lead into the crossover (which finds his simple little quest become complex as he can never find Bruce Wayne, but will learn of somebody who can; the Batman...)

However, in Snyder's mind, Batman vs. Superman doesn't necessarily mean just them...It was announced that Wonder Woman will be making her live-action film debut (hah! Thought I'd forgotten about her, didn'tcha). Since then we've heard the casting announcements for the new characters...But it goes to show you how desperate DC are to catch up with Marvel (and tripping up over themselves in the process), when the only uncontroversial casting announcement was Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth. Oh and Cyborg will be in the film too...Which is good; representation an' all...

But the next thing after is Justice League...And Zack Snyder will once again be in the director's seat (many desks were destroyed by collapsing heads from this announcement...Take a moment to remember the desks). Seriously, it may look like this is a post to bash Snyder (and fair enough), but some ideas he did well; filming with 35mm, the rich Krypton backstory and how that informed Superman...Henry Cavill, Amy Adams...It's just that with all the criticisms, he responds to them with this unbearable attitude like he's correct and everybody else is wrong. In my opinion, that's not the type of person you'd prefer to handle a universe with characters coming from so much history and massive fan-bases...Of course you cannot please everybody, but at least have the decency to recognize when elements have been so negatively received. The audience is just as active in film-making as the creators. Otherwise you're just making them cough up for something they don't want...Like taxes...That's it; Zack Snyder's films are turning into tax-collection.


(Side note: It seems that the only decent form(s) of media DC have been getting right in recent times is TV and animation:
(From this thread: http://glitterstim13.tumblr.com/post/85567002787/boynerdramblings-on-your-left But just wait until Marvel's Netflix series start hitting our screens...!)


DC's best films in the past decade have only come from Christopher Nolan...So why try competing with Marvel? With TV, Arrow has been doing brilliantly and has already expanded their own superhero roster with the Black Canary and the Flash. So building up characters and introducing new ones for new series - still connected - could work for the Justice League. Build each major hero and save Superman and Batman 'til last, bring Wonder Woman back to TV (lord knows they have tried for her) and just have the Justice League film as a sort-of culmination point...Anyway, that's just a thought...)

Anyway, so what's the big idea? DC and Warner Bros. fast-tracking a Justice League picture; okay. Then what? Release individual pictures for the seperate characters afterwards? We hope so. (It's a different way to do it from Marvel and I think DC/Warner know that very well.) Especially for the only female in the main Justice League roster...! Gal Gadot has apparently signed for three pictures as Wonder Woman. There is a slight worry about this, due to three being the magic number. You can bet your bottom currency denomination that there will be a trilogy of Justice League films. Therefore, Wonder Woman won't be getting her own story anytime soon.

I could do the usual 'let's not get all 'Womens' Lib.' about this'...But no; LET'S. It's not taboo; people just don't want to bring it up. We need to. Wonder Woman Needs her own film. A quick search through sites like The Mary Sue will explain to you in detail why we need it (just in case you haven't got it already). DC/Warner Bros. seem to come up with every pathetic excuse under the sun to not do anything about it. For that, I point you to this Tumblr thread. Which proves that it would be easier for Marvel to buy the rights from DC to make their own. Because, even Anthony Mackie (Marvel's Falcon) has indicated that the money spent would be worth it.

Marvel have seen the light; they have been showing a whole range of strong and dynamic female characters throughout their cinematic universe...Pepper Potts defeated the villains in the three Iron Man films, the science is strong with Betty Ross, Jane Foster & Darcy Lewis, they're pushing the Black Widow boat out, with more prominant roles in each film she appears in, Lady Sif has been shown as Marvel's answer to Wonder Woman (enough said), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a regular ensemble composed of equal amounts men and women and best of all; Peggy Carter, will be getting her own TV series (based on her appearences in the Captain America films and the highly acclaimed One-Shot: Agent Carter), where she will get to kick the misogyny of the 1940's right in the patriarchy! (I CANNOT WAIT! Now we're waiting for characters in both the films and TV such as Ms./Captain Marvel, Wasp, She-Hulk, etc.)
   Meanwhile, DC/Warner Bros. seem to think that Wonder Woman is 'tricky'...More tricky than a billionaire spending obscene amounts of money to dress as a bat to put fear into criminals, rather than donating his wealth to Gotham where it's needed most? More tricky than an invincible humanoid alien whose only weakness is the element from his own freakin' planet whilst using a pair of glasses as his only disguise...?

Here's an artist who has seemed to understand Wonder Woman better than Warner Bros. may ever do...His work makes Wonder Woman a powerful warrior with a great heart; a faithful representation of the Amazons...THE Wonder Woman I want to see on screen:


SEE?! As soon as I saw these, I fell in love! ^^ This is the Tumblr thread where I came across them...I post this because the comments are brilliant:
http://bloodbabe2003.tumblr.com/post/85205493379/3squirrels-manicpixiedreamergirl

And here's the artist's collection of all his wonderful Wonder Woman creations:
http://nebezial.deviantart.com/gallery/?catpath=%2F&q=wonder+woman

(Whilst we're at it; yes, Batgirl, Batwoman, Powergirl, Birds of Prey, Supergirl, etc. films, please.) 

Why do I feel so passionate about this? Because like a lot of rational modern men, I'm a feminist. In a general sense, I'm fed up of Women being marginalized, treated unfairly and victimized by patriarchal dominance (in all walks of life...Summed up perfectly by Wonder Woman herself). Yes, some things are getting better...But there's a long way to go. I've come across plenty of amazing Women online and through social media and blogging and such...And more often than not, it's because they have put themselves out there to do what they love (creative and journalistic writing, gaming, production, fightin' the good fight, etc.) Like them, I don't just want girls to grow up believing that they need to find a hero; I want them to *be* the hero...And the Women I've come across through Twitter, Tumblr and such are proof that Women are already heroes in my book (refers to the old 'Ginger did everything backwards in heels' addage)...Every major female figure to me that I know or have come across has something to aspire to or be inspired by. And I know Women who will destroy anybody who says that they will have to 'work twice as hard to be seen as half as good as men'. Women in general (remember, it's the Lionesses who go out hunting and return with faces soaked in blood...) have to go through so much in their lives, usually against men...But they fight, they persevere, they become their own superheroes.

Wonder Women are everywhere...It's been time, for a long time, to give them representation.


AM

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Jurassic World

Before we start: just in case you haven't yet...My previous instalment of JP posts: http://swift-inspiredinspiration.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/update-jpiv.html - I'll wait until you're up to speed. ^^

All good? Now then; here's the next in my ongoing Blog-posts on Jurassic Park IV...

Which now has an official title: JURASSIC WORLD. And a snazzy new logo to go with it:


(Full size image here: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BT4jxKCCEAASCxa.jpg:large)

"Fabulous!" (As the mother at the beginning of The Lost World remarked!)

The new title was revealed with the logo and I feel that this was a great way to do it. And, to be honest; I rather very much like it!

It gives it what we're familiar with and, by word alone, aims to expand what we already know. And that's always a good sign for a follow up. And by swapping 'Park' for 'World', it also gives us a sense that this is a new step entirely for the series. Almost a reboot (which thank goodness it isn't). Perhaps giving us the potential to have a new sub-series; we've had the 'Parks', so now we're getting the 'Worlds'. Also reflected in the blue hue, instead of the usual red.

Also, by the title alone, we are given the possibility to imagine that the Dinosaurs may not just be restricted to Isla Nublar or Las Cinco Muertes (something I touched on in a previoues post). It also opens up the potential for new human characters...However much we'd love Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum to reunite!

Of course this isn't the first time the term 'World' has appeared on a Jurassic title. In fact, it could be said that the notion of expanding the universe was a key driving force for The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

But it still carried 'Park'. And #IV has basically condensed it down into a nice, snappy title. Hopefully the Dinos will be just as snappy! I'm sure they will be; the director seems to know what he's doing:


Jurassic World has a release date of June 12th, 2015. Actually really looking forward to it, now!


UPDATE: 18th December, 2013 - Phil Tippett, the original Jurassic Park Dinosaur supervisor is returning for Jurassic World! As you can imagine; am VERY pleased about this! ^^ (Announcement here!)


AM

Monday, 2 September 2013

VII Things for Episode VII

Hullo!

I've been in a Force-orientated state of mind recently, so here's a question we've all been wondering for months now:

'What the heck is happening with Star Wars: Episode VII?!'

Last year the news happened; Disney bought Lucasfilm, Lucas himself was retiring and new Star Wars was on its way! And here's my response to that:

http://swift-inspiredinspiration.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/star-wars-vii-viii-ix.html

So, since that initial excitement (almost a year ago now), we've been...treated...to...many, many...well...morsels of...well, not even morsels really...more like 'crumbs'...of news...

See, this is the issue; we've heard next to nothing. Big events have happened this year; San Diego Comic-Con, Star Wars Celebration Europe II and Disney Expo 23...Three massive events perfect for Episode VII news, announcents and even panels...

Not a sausage.

It was even said that the majority of Disney Expo 23 attendees turned up for the potential of Episode VII news.

This lack of news, coupled with the shut-down of several pre-existing Lucasfilm projects (including Star Wars: The Clone Wars) has lead to an 'image' of a shady corporation. More disheartening than this have been the constant and tiresome rumours...The latest of which have attached Benedict Cumberbatch and Gene Hackman to the project. Actors from the previous films have constantly expressed interest in returning...Nothing. In fact; anything we have been told; we already knew.

The only real, official morsels of news over the past year have trickled through the internet, feeling like blood drawn from a stone. Is a bit of assurance too much to ask for?

So far, there are seven main things we know about Episode VII:

1. Who's Piloting the Ship

Kathleen Kennedy, new CEO of Lucasfilm, is one of the producers along with Bryan Burk, who is a long-time collaborator of J.J. Abrams, the director. Now then, I do have reservations with hiring such a big name...But then again he has proven himself with most of his film work (Star Trek Into Darkness being the notable exception). George Lucas himself is serving as the consultant, similar to what he did with The Clone Wars.

2. Who's Scoring
John Williams is returning; yay! Nobody more suitable to score, really.

3. Who's Writing
Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt has been penning the band new adventure. Given his proven talent with taking well known and established characters and settings after a relatively long gap (and cramming all the emotion and humour possible)...I have confidence that he can craft a great new journey.

4. Rough Timeline
Of course all the upcoming films will be set after Return of the Jedi. The issue this raises is the conflict with the Expanded Universe. Hopefully they'll be sensible and respect all the work that the authors and creators that have contributed to the saga. As far as we know, the story will be original and it will (most likely) take the events of the EU into account. The focus will (most likely) be on Luke's son; Ben Skywalker.

5. Production
Production (i.e. Principal Photography) will begin early 2014. However as a UK resident, the most exciting point will be that filming will make a most welcome return to the UK! And in Pinewood Studios, no less! Much of the original trilogy was done at Pinewood. This effort to evoke the original trilogy is reflected in the next point...

6. Film
...Which is actually the most exciting aspect, especially from a film-making standpoint; Episode VII will be shot on 35mm FILM! Episode I (1999) started toying with digital recording and then II (2002) & III (2005) were completely digitally shot. Now that digital cinema is more prevalent these days, it does make a bold (and welcome) statement to shoot Star Wars in 35mm again.
   Of course this leads to one of the most exciting possibilities for VII, considering Abrams' last film; we may very well get the first ever Star Wars picture with IMAX.

7. Release
May 2015.


Basically, these are basics...

I'm all for keeping things a surprise as much as possible this day and age, but they're just being silly now!

It's nearly been a year since the revelation of Episode VII and we don't even have a title.


AM

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Predator (2) - The Lost Tribe


With the amazing range of NECA action figures of Aliens, Predators and Terminators, people always imagine little stories to go with them, like any toy range. However, the level of detail, attention and love that NECA gives their lines are second to none. Most of the figures look like they will come to life at any second!

Their Predator range is no different. Since starting on characters from Predator 2, NECA did something unprecidented; they released every single Predator seen on screen at the end, inside the ship! It started with the clan leader known as the 'Elder' (which, as of the end of 2014, has been released with upgrades)...Like many other NECA figures, the Elder came with a little bio on the back of the packaging. And, like many others, the bio provides a little touch of backstory. However for the Elder, the bio briefly describes his role and what he does in the film. The following eight members of the tribe all share the same description with each other, which is a brief on the whole tribe itself, 'shrouded in mystery'...

I love mystery. And the staff at NECA respect mystery a great deal...But from the amazing figures, the details cannot be ignored. Each Predator appears to have their own personality traits and distinctive looks...Of course I imagine and speculate who these characters are...
L-R: Boar, Snake, Stalker, Lost, Guardian, Elder, City Hunter, Warrior, Scout, Shaman

So here are my own bios. Hope you enjoy! ^^

(Images of the NECA figures are all mine).



ELDER

The Leader of the Lost Tribe, this Elder Predator has seen a good few hundreds of years of hunting. He has been hardened by his early decades and subsequently mellowed from his recent reflections on his own longevity.
   The tribe he has command over consists of many close relatives. Even Jungle Hunter (who was an active member of the tribe before venturing off on his own hunts) is rumoured to be one of Elder’s many offspring.
   Due to his familial connections, he can be fairly lenient in terms of enforcing penalties upon the members of the tribe...Especially relative to other clans, the majority of which deliver death or banishment as common punishments. The Lost Tribe’s sentences are known to have various levels, depending on how serious the misdemeanours are. Since the primary weapons of the Lost Predators are connected with their nervous systems, the Elder’s preferred penalty is Gauntlet Removal, severing the bond from the perpetrator’s biology...Often extremely painfully.


SHAMAN
  • Direct relative to SCOUT
  • Close relative to CITY HUNTER, BOAR, SNAKE, GUARDIAN & LOST
As the self-proclaimed ‘spiritualist’ and ‘chemist’ of the tribe, Shaman relies more on beliefs than sciences. He has frequently experimented with different substances which he believes to be stimulating and performance enhancing.
   However, recent blends of dangerous toxins have lead to the removal of his gauntlets. Due to his constant experimentations, the Elder forced him into solitary confinement until the effects of his substances wore off...Only after then were his gauntlets torn from his skin.
   Since his punishment he has pursued other interests, including creating his own weapons and tools. His favoured instrument sees his wrist blades set atop his custom-made ‘trophy staff’. Despite his fairly honourable accomplishments other members of the tribe still seem to detect substance odour on him...Occasionally.


BOAR
  • Direct relative to CITY HUNTER, SNAKE, GUARDIAN & LOST
  • Close relative to SHAMAN & SCOUT
A Predator with a zest for hunting on the edge, Boar frequently visits the Super Predators’ Game Preserve Planet to hone his skills of survival. The variety of animal and plant species dropped onto the planet means that he finds it more exciting than Earth, as he does not know what he’ll encounter next. Should he run into too much trouble on the planet, Boar’s only aid comes from his close ally Stalker, who takes him to the preserve and sometimes even participates in hunting exercises...Not that Boar knows when or how.
   In order to challenge himself further, Boar has become a rare example of a hunter who has willingly ditched his wrist-blades. In order to aid survival and physical combat, he exchanged them for a spare wrist-computer. Despite his preference for hand-to-hand combat, his does keep one weapon and one only; he decided to keep a Smart-Disc as it provides long-range and close-range defensive and offensive capabilities.


STALKER
  • Direct relative to WARRIOR
As a close ally of Boar, Stalker hones his own skills on the Game Preserve Planet with him. With more patience than Boar, Stalker lives up to his namesake as he prefers to study potential prey for behavioural patterns and weaknesses to exploit. His minimal armour and equipment means that he has developed advanced stealth capabilities. And he only kills when necessary...But when he does, he makes the kill exceptional.
   As he is the one who commandeers the shuttle to and from the preserve, it is Stalker’s responsibility to ensure that the shuttle is not damaged...They often go without informing the other clan members. As a result, their first venture got Stalker and Boar in trouble; however Stalker took full responsibility on his own accord, which resulted in the loss of his gauntlets.
   One day Stalker would like to be able to track one of the Super Predators...Provided they do not follow him first. So far he and Boar have been extremely lucky in not encountering one so far.



SNAKE
  • Direct relative to CITY HUNTER, BOAR, GUARDIAN & LOST
  • Close relative to SHAMAN & SCOUT
With a distinctive and striking colour scheme, Snake is the one who is usually found on his own. He prefers his independence and isolation rather than the company of others. As a result of his preferences, he does frequently cause friction within the tribe...Though he will argue that they cause it. His short temper led to the loss of his gauntlets.
   During past hunts Snake has developed a taste for collecting more than just skulls for trophies. He reasons that since he can’t carry his trophies around with him, he takes skins and fashions them into parts of his armour. But he has had little chance to hunt a great deal...In fact he has often wanted to hunt on his own, like Jungle Hunter. But as long as his temperament is little, so too will be his chances. 

"Viper! You son-of-a-bitch!"
The only time Snake is vaguely approachable is when he sees his brother, Viper. As members of the Serpent Clan, they do what they do when they like and however they like it. Able to talk himself in and out of any situation, Viper convinced Snake to give him his removed wrist-blade gauntlet. As he can negotiate well, it's convenient that Viper's fine with being the one to get them out of trouble. But as brotherly as he is, he will not let Snake near his Blade Fighter.

GUARDIAN
  • Direct relative to CITY HUNTER, BOAR, SNAKE & LOST
  • Close relative to SHAMAN & SCOUT
As a truly exceptional hunter, Guardian is one of the most trustworthy, reliable and respected members of the tribe. In terms of honour, skill-set and equipment, he is second only to City Hunter; one of the few Predators that Guardian looks up to.
   Guardian’s determination to improve his hunting prowess comes with many reasons; the main one being the Engineers. For a long time, Guardian has studied everything known about the species (history, biology, etc). He even modelled his mask after their bio-suits, proving that he lives for the day he will be able to meet and hunt down an Engineer. Of course there are rules on hunting sentient species, especially those as evolved as Engineers, but Guardian only sees the restrictions on them as a challenge.


LOST
  • Direct relative to CITY HUNTER, BOAR, SNAKE & GUARDIAN 
  • Close relative to SHAMAN & SCOUT
As the ‘scientist’ of the clan, Lost has developed many new technologies over the decades, but he has recently blurred the line between technology and biology. At first he started to capture his quarry and keep them alive, rather than kill...He would perform cybernetic experiments on his prey, often killing them in the process. He did not let others know about his tests to begin with, as he needed more successes to do so. Through many failures and improvements, he became so sure with himself that he started his current obsession with testing the cybernetics on himself.
   Replacing the standard armour (and weapons) with his own, he grafted the majority of the armour to his nervous system; just like the average wrist gauntlet...Along with other mysterious developments he believes that the expansion of his senses will make him a better hunter. However his ‘improvements’ have not come without cost. The self-inflicted implants have had a few side-effects to his biology...Most notable being the drastic skin discolouration.
   The surgical skills he has taught himself have proven invaluable to the rest of the tribe, however uneasy they are around him (some even wonder if he's been inhaling Shaman's substances). The skills also add to his combat agility; along with his hand-crafted weapons, they give him a literal edge over his opponents and rivals.
   The most recent technology that Lost has developed includes; a fearsome bio-mask and an extremely powerful shoulder cannon. He has also acquired a custom long-sword and a deadly shuriken (the latter of which other members believe he has stolen from another clan). But it is his short bone-handled cleaver that he uses to deliver the most effective kills...Or worse.


SCOUT
  • Direct relative to SHAMAN
  • Close relative to CITY HUNTER, BOAR, SNAKE, GUARDIAN & LOST
One of the youngest members of the tribe, Scout has just as much inexperience as enthusiasm. Like most first kills, his elder counterparts found his pride amusing after he hunted down a creature no bigger than himself. Since then, Scout has not cleaned his wrist-blades...And according to him, he never will; he believes that leaving the stains makes him look more formidable.
   A lot of Scout’s training and knowledge came from Jungle Hunter, who also suggested that he use as few weapons as possible for speed, efficiency and stealth. The two hunters are close allies and Scout respects Jungle Hunter a great deal...Even to the degree that Scout has kept the basic design of his bio-mask as a respectful reference. However, due to his inexperience, he’s also slightly jealous of Jungle Hunter. 




WARRIOR
  • Direct relative to STALKER
Where Lost is one of the most advanced and Snake is one of the most vicious, no member of the tribe is as formidable, brutal and terrifying as Warrior. Regularly going after groups, as well as lone prey, the amount of kills he has under his belt is unmatched by anyone else...Even Elder. And, unlike anyone else, Warrior does not care whether he leaves the skulls of his prey intact. He only cares if they’re dead or alive.
   Warrior’s reputation is feared and respected by both enemy and ally alike. Even Predators of other clans know of him. Perhaps the single act that makes it all worthwhile for Warrior is his pursuit of prey; he makes a point to make sure they notice him before the kill. He truly enjoys their terror and it is represented by the last thing that his prey sees; his fearsome bio-mask.
   Warrior’s reputation has also given him unimaginable self-confidence. So much so that recent hunting trips for marine monsters in dangerous interplanetary oceans have started to corrode his armour and unintentional ingestion of algae has given him a somewhat pale green complexion. Nevertheless, he will always live up to his reputation, hunting bigger and more dangerous game. Most hunters, including Warrior himself, see him as a one-Predator army. As such, he has plans which will aid (and potentially end) the clan wars with the Super Predators...




And there you have it!


AM

(Again, many thanks to the guys at NECA! ^^ A real inspiration as a company and as people! Check 'em out if you haven't already! ^^)

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Pacific Rim - Mechas & Monsters

Following on from my previous post reviewing Pacific Rim...I decided to hold back on two aspects that are the most crucial of all; the Jaegers and the Kaiju...For now!

This is more-or-less 'part two', but I will be saying something about each Jaeger and all the live Kaiju featured in the film, so this is more about the love than reviewing!

Overall I found the creation, designs and effects of the Jaegers and Kaiju most incredible...Especially how they interacted with the world around them; Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) handled the VFX work and they have blown themselves out of the water (reference intentional) for Pacific Rim. We've seen films with huge masses of CGI water before (Star Wars - Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, etc), but they have mainly been background elements. They have looked great from a distance, but the lack of interaction between other things can be a clue as to how the effects have evolved today...In Pacific Rim, entire battles take place in raging storms and the skyscraper-sized machines and creatures regularly break and interact with the surface of the ocean. The amount of detail in the CGI waters, even for the larger-scale frames, just go to show how much work has gone into it...And that's just the water.


JAEGER (German for 'Hunter')

As the Jaegers we inspired by the many mechanoids from Japanese culture, it's clear to see why Guillermo del Toro wanted to make his different and recognisable. I believe he has pulled it off wonderfully. Even within the world of Pacific Rim, each Jaeger looks distinct and unique, each with differing capabilities and even personalities (a few things Michael Bay needs to learn...! Haha).


COYOTE TANGO - Japan (Mark 1)
As Coyote Tango feautures heavily in the promo material (as above), you would've expected it to have as much a part to play as the other four Jaegers. Not so, as it would seem. Yes, it does play a vital role in the film, but the appearence of Tango is reduced to nothing more than a cameo...And only within Mako's flashback as well.
   The design of Coyote Tango is distinctive from the other Jaegers in that it's rather indistinctive, compared with the others. As the mech is only a Mark I, this does make some sense in the universe. The only really defining features of Tango are the two massive cannons on its back.
   The downside to Tango's fleeting cameo is that we didn't really get to see it in action. The cannons look like they could've done some serious Kaiju damage, so I would've been happy to see the fllashback show the whole fight between Tango & Onibaba. However I do understand and accept why we didn't see much (it was crucial to stick with Mako and her POV). There's solace in the knowledge that Tango has been retired from active duty; perhaps in a sequel the Jaeger will be revisited and revamped and we'll see the return of Coyote Tango.


CHERNO ALPHA - Russia (Mark 1)
The Jaeger from the Russians is a seriously beefy-looking tank of a mech. The large cylindrical energy cell atop the body (where other Jaegers' heads would be) makes Cherno one of the most recognisable. It was pleasing to see a more hand-to-hand/sparring fighting style than the other Jaegers. Like the others it has a very unique heavy-handed style. If there's one thing I find strange; it's that the legs of Cherno seem disproportionate to the rest of the body...Somehow they look as if they shouldn't be able to support the rest of the Jaeger. There may be an explanation, but it's quite curious! Anyway, according to the backstory that we know of, the Jaeger personally saw off and defeated six Kaiju in Russia before the events of the film. It's easy to see why!


GIPSY DANGER - USA (Mark 3)
Undoubtedly the 'hero Jaeger' of the film, Gipsy Danger has the most human-looking proportions and features than any other Jaeger. (This was most likely intentional for audiences to connect with, of course.) Del Toro stated that he wanted Gipsy to be akin to a western gunslinger...I can see what he means, but the streamlined and chest-reactor design reminds me more of Iron Man! (Hold that thought; there's something related I'll get to later!)
   For unique attributes, I absolutely loved the blades that emerged from each arm. Initially they look like chainsaw-type weapons, but they're just segmented; the pieces form solid blades. Plus the inclusion of rocket boosters in various parts of the body (torso, elbow, etc) were very clever and creative!


CRIMSON TYPHOON - China (Mark 4)
Straight away, the Crimson Typhoon sets itself apart from other Jaegers with the bold, flag-based colour scheme, the three arms and the cyclopsian-looking head.
   The colour marks a significant move for CGI. Up until recent years, red has been a very problematic colour to 'control'...Especially for CGI. (In fact, the issue with reds lead to the Transformers decision to have the flame deco on Optimus Prime...Later for the sequels, red characters became more common, suggesting that ILM have at least conquered some of the issues). The level of photo-realism in Crimson's red just goes to show how far the reds have come...And good job, too!
   With the three arms of the Typhoon, I believe they're a more physical representation of the three pilots (the only three-member pilot team for any Jaeger). It seems that with the triplets, the extra arm was added to accomodate and make use of extra brain power...It's a shame that we didn't get to see much of all three triplets in action. But at least the capabilities of the Typhoon were portrayed brilliantly!


STRIKER EUREKA - Australia (Mark 5)
In the film, the offering from down under is the most advanced Jaeger to exist. It's easy to see why this design was the original consideration for the 'hero Jaeger'. The design is sleek, the 'wings' on the back a great addition and weapon systems (retractable arm-blades and chest-missile launchers) are the ultimate in Kaiju behind-kicking!
   The only niggle I would say about the design is that, although it's a fantastic design, it's not as strikingly distinct as others and therefore quite similar to Gipsy Danger...In fact, sans the 'wings' on Striker and the nuclear turbine on Gipsy, they are the only two Jaegers that come close to looking alike to the casual viewer. Nevertheless, it's brilliant to see Australia have such an important role in a western blockbuster (something I can't remember since Mission: Impossible II...Back in 2000). I really hope that Australia will play a role just as important in the sequel.

And probably because of Australia in an important role, there's something about this image (and moment in the film) that makes me beam! ^^



In the expanded universe, there are many other Jaegers from many other countries. For the sequel, I hope that we'll get to see more of them. I especially want to see Jaegers from; Canada, Mexico, Chile, New Zealand (a Middle Earth Jaeger! Imagine that! XD). I'd also love to see contributions from countries that don't border the Pacific Ocean such as; Italy, India, Germany, South Africa, Brazil, UK, Portugal...


KAIJU (Japanese for 'Monster')

The term 'Kaiju' is a combination of Japanese terms, it it does have more literal translations, but 'monster' is the simplest. (If you want to go further, the Kaiju featured in Pacific Rim and the classic Toho films are really examples of 'Daikaiju' - 'Giant Monster'!)
   The designs for the Kaiju in Pacific Rim are incredible. Just like the Jaegers, thought and care has been put into them to make sure they are distinguishable, unique (both in the film universe and amongst themselves to a degree) and have the potential to become iconic in the future of western cinema.
   Not to give too much away for those who haven't seen it, but there is a connection between all the Kaiju that means they're all close...Dangerously close...


TRESPASSER - Category III
The one that destroyed the Golden Gate Bridge. I'm actually only presuming that Trespasser is a Category III Kaiju due to his size. Distinctive by the massive Dinosaur-like crest atop its head, the basic body with four arms and clawed hands will make further appearences in other Kaiju, further solidifying their connection.


ONIBABA (Japanese: 'Demon Hag'/'Ogre Grandma') - Category II
The Kaiju that attacked Tokyo in Mako's flashback and the one killed by Coyote Tango. Very crustacean-like in appearance. I do love how some of the Kaiju names are Japanese insults!


KNIFEHEAD - Category III
In the film, this is the first Kaiju we see tangle with a Jaeger. With a body shared with Trespasser and an appearance akin to a shark, Knifehead proved to be more than a challenge for Gipsy Danger...


MUTAVORE - Category III
Mutavore is the monster that attacked Sydney and, as a result, tangled with Striker Eureka. Officially the first referred to as a female. The final design of Mutavore became simpler than the concept art depicted above.


OTACHI (Japanese: 'Big sword') - Category IV
The translation of 'Otachi' is befitting for this Kaiju as she's one of the most vicious. She's able to project a corrosive acid fom her mouth, her massive tail ends with crushing claws and she can fly...So far the only Kaiju known to. Design-wise she is one of my favourites (next to maybe Trespasser). Perhaps it's because there's something Xenomorph/Dino-esque about her...


LEATHERBACK - Category IV
Like Otachi, Leatherback is one of the more cunning of the Kaiju. However, his strength lies in his brute force. With a body built like a gorilla and an EMP organ on his back, Leatherback is certainly a formidable opponent for the Jaegers.


RAIJU (Japanese: 'Thunder Beast') - Category IV
A crocodilian look sets Raiju apart from the others and is perhaps the most reminiscant (from the Pacific Rim Kaiju) of the classic Toho monsters. Swift and speedy through water, one other unusual (and creative) feature of Raiju is that his head is encased within a larger, armoured shell. This results in a 'head within a head' appearence...Not too dissimilar from the sandworm in BeetleJuice.


SCUNNER - Category IV
Partnered with Raiju, Scunner is another Kaiju with a similar body to Trespasser & Knifehead, but is also a very distinctive Kaiju due to the masive horns either side of its head. As deadly as Knifehead's blade, the horns can be very formidable when the Kaiju uses itself as a battering ram.


SLATTERN - Category V
Without a doubt the largest and most powerful Kaiju. Slattern is aptly the 'Chernobog' of Pacific Rim; the Devilish monster as you enter Hell. And it's easy to see why; one of the most evil-looking creatures ever! (The notion that even bigger and more powerful Kaiju could emerge is just near-unthinkable!) In fact, I wanted to see much more of it...But I suppose I'll have to see the film again for that!


If you support any of the Jaegers or Kaiju, here's a place where you can do just that...Jaegers are taking the lead so come on, you Kaiju lovers! ^^

With a sequel on the table, Guillermo del Toro and Travis Beacham have so much potential to explore. Personally I'd love to see Jaegers and Kaiju clash in more environments, such as jungles or deserts (of course they'd have to make that make sense). Regardless I can't wait to see what comes next for the mechas and monsters!

The British Film Istitute recently did an article on selected Japanese monsters and their movies, in the wake of Pacific Rim. And they're exactly the monster movies that Guillermo is inspired by...So here's a chance to explore the Kaiju (or Daikaiju) that started it all! ^^ (I'll probably use this to catch up!)

http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/features/top-trumps-giants-japans-monster-movies

Which brings me briefly to 2014...Logically in the film industry we'd see something that's tried and tested before going about original projects. However, we're seeing a dramatic shift...
   Legendary Pictures may have released Pacific Rim this year...But they, along with Monsters director Gareth Edwards, have been working on something with just as much passion and love that del Toro has for Pacific Rim. Something that I believe will fully restore general public love for monster movies...

THE MOTHER OF ALL KAIJU:



AM