Trailer Trash

Firstly, congratulations to Barack Obama, you carry not just the hopes of your own nation, but those of the entire free world.  Good luck sir.  Now, back to geekery.

I’ve long since learned to get over the fact that as a video-game fan Hollywood hates me and everything I hold in esteem.  If not then why would they continue to give Paul WS Anderson and Uwe Boll money?

Not only does the film industry apparently hate video games, turns out they’re also pretty antsey about anime as well.  After months of letting myself get over excited this weekend I finally saw the trailer for the Hollywood remake of Dragonball.

In case you’ve been living on Namek for the last twenty-five years or so Dragonball is a manga series written and drawn by living legend Akira Toriyama.  It followed the adventures of alien martial-artist Goku and his friends and was inspired in part by the Chinese folk tale Journey to the West.  The narrative covers a period of around thirty years, a total of 519 chapters over 42 volumes.  Toei animation translated Toriyama’s works into two successful anime series.  Dragonball and Dragonball Z originally broadcast on Fuji television from 1986 to 1996.  A third series Dragonball GT continued Goku’s adventures, but was not based on the original manga, and ran for only 64 episodes.

The Hollywood rework of Dragonball doesn’t seem all that bad on paper.  Kung-fu Hustle’s Stephen Chow is producing, director James Wong is best known for his work on the Final Destination movies, so a strange choice to direct what is essentially a children’s movie, but I am a fan of FD so I’m willing to give benefit of the doubt.  The cast includes one of my favourite TV actors James Marsters as the film’s antagonist Lord Piccolo, and Chow Yun Fat as Sensei Roshi.  The rest of the cast is less inspiring though with Justin Chatwin (Tom Cruise’s whiney runt son in Speilberg’s Car-crash remake of War of the Worlds) in the lead as Goku.

After watching the trailer, I’m starting to worry just a little that this isn’t going to be the movie that the franchise deserves, the trailer involves scenes set if not in, then at least outside an American high school, this seems a little out of sync with the world in which the series is based.  The trailer involves scenes featuring Piccolo in which I can’t help but notice that he isn’t green, despite claims that the character would look similar to how he appeared in the anime, in a similar pallette error Emmy Rossum’s portrayal of Bulma Briefs is sorely lacking the original’s blue hair.

Finally and this is where i earn the “Rant” tag, WHERE THE FUCK IS KRILLIN?  I read somewhere that some of the more cartoon-esque characters wouldn’t appear in the movie, that’s fine, I can understand why an anthropomorphic pig, or a talking cat might get the chop but Krillin is Goku’s best friend in both the manga and the Anime.  Former bandit-king Yamcha is the only one of the Z-fighters set to make an appearance in the movie.  The film adds further characters to Goku’s circle of friends which didn’t appear in the manga, and I find it hard to accept that one of these characters couldn’t be Krillin, this is a reimagining of Dragonball, so Krillin doesn’t have to be a short, bald, buddhist monk, but a character portraying several of Krillin’s character traits would have been a kindness to fans of the series.

Dead Space Review

Dead Space Artwork
It’s dark, my leg brushes something and sends it clattering across the floor. Instinctively I bristle, what else could have been alerted by my clumsiness? A second later I feel it’s safe to breathe out, and as I do an inhuman moan issues from around the next corner. Frozen in place all I can do is watch as the sleek, monstrous form comes into view. Turning towards me with eyes glowing in the darkness, it says ‘Meow?’

Dead Space is EA’s latest game in which you’re a regular joe trapped on a huge industrial capital ship in space as biomechanical monsters try to eat your face. Sounds familiar? It should; it’s the setup for just about any space monster movie ever but don’t be quick to dismiss it for it’s mildly cliched setting, Dead Space captures the atmosphere of such movies with aplomb dropping subtle hints to its inspiration all the time.

As I hinted at in my slightly misleading intro, Dead Space keeps you on your toes, unlike an overzealous feline jonesing for dinner number 3. I can’t say it’s strictly scary but it is tense. The designers have gone to great lengths to keep you guessing from where the next hideous, screaming monster is going to pop up from, and it’s here that the slightly annoying camera comes into it’s own leaving you frantically waving the mouse around to get a bead on a destructible chunk of necrotised flesh. Many are stating that the game isn’t survival horror but I beg to differ, the over-the-shoulder, clunky nature of the camera, light backtracking, ammo management, space-zombies and atmosphere all put it firmly into survival territory in my book. What other game have you stopped yourself from saving because you thought you heard some creature nearby as you were just accessing the save screen?

The only reason I can see that some are loathe to avoid the survival horror moniker is the fact that you’re actually pretty lethal to the beasties inhabiting the ship. Equipped from the start with a tool that lets you cut limbs from your assailants, a single bad guy proves little challenge provided you can catch him at range; but don’t expect this to be the norm. Later on you’ll be beset by bads from all corners and it’s here the game’s other main tool takes over; the stasis tool allows you to slow down time for a target, at the expense of draining it’s own ammo reserve. Together with inspired weapons, such as a remote control buzzsaw, you feel quite well tooled up to take on the Ishimura’s crew but don’t think that you’re going to be running around guns blazing. Without careful management you may end up swinging or throwing blunt objects at the monsters, a less than ideal situation.

I may be a little biased here, I got my copy of Far Cry 2 on Thursday but felt a little disappointed by it, so I decided to swallow the expense and pick up the game on Friday night after work. By midday on Sunday I was watching the end credits. Weighing in at about 12 hours the pace is good, and I never felt like any part was over long nor were there any obvious attempts to artificially lengthen the gameplay.The inventory management and weapon and character customisation, while fairly cosmetic, add to the game a surprising amount, forcing you to make trade offs in your gear. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not Diablo but a nice addition. Story-wise, it’s not Poe. The plot and ineviatble twists are perfectly acceptable and feel built into the game, rather than a last minute addition but never threaten the realms of genious.

Dead Space feels like a slightly brawnier version of Bioshock mixed with Paul W.S. Anderson’s only good movie, Event Horizon, with queues taken from Aliens and Resident Evil 4. Cinematic, tense and brutal it’s superb fun; highly recommended.

Watch Stalker now, free

I’m sure some of you non-neanderthals have played S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl, GSC Game World‘s magnum opus. What you might not know is that the game takes much of it’s inspiration from the novel Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky.

In 1979 the book was adapted into a motion picture by Andrei Tarkovsky, who directed the original (and by far the best) version of Solaris. Shot in Estonia, the film apparently suffered a great number of setbacks and conditions during shooting have been blamed in causing the early deaths of cast and crew.

The full version of the movie is linked below. Watch and enjoy:

Via Warren Ellis