Friday, October 31, 2008

The BIOSHOCK Big Daddy Jack-o'-Lantern

Last year for Halloween I carved two Jack-o'-Lanterns: one of U.S. Presidential candidate Ron Paul and another of larcenous school board member Ron Price. The Ron Paul pumpkin garnered some "oohs and ahhhs" on the Internet and local schookids came by in droves to look and laugh at Ron Price's visage carved large and orange.

So... what was I going to do this year?

I juggled around lots of concepts, and in the end decided that I wanted to take a shot at doing Big Daddy from the video game BioShock. Here it is after two hours of work...

In BioShock, Big Daddies are the protectors of the Little Sisters (click here for the Big Daddy entry at the BioShock Wiki). They used to be human, before radical gene therapy took away their minds. Their skin was then flayed-off and the bare flesh steam-sealed to old-fashioned diving suits. The result was a horrific monstrosity that would roam the underwater city of Rapture, defending the Little Sisters to the death. As a result of the wild success of BioShock, the Big Daddy has become one of the most iconic monsters of the modern era. Suffice it say, you also have to fight these armored freaks quite often in the game.

And here's the Jack-o'-Lantern fully lit...

Yeah, I messed up the "H" in "BioShock" (the rind was rather thin at that spot on the pumpkin and part of it came off too easy while carving) but hey: it's a spot-on Big Daddy! Not too bad eh? :-)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Quoth the Raven... "EXCELSIOR!"

Quick Stop Entertainment has posted a video of comic book legend Stan Lee reading Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" into a camera...

Mash down here for an amazingly powerful performance of Poe's classic poem.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

David Tennant quits DOCTOR WHO!

David Tennant, whose madcap mixture of deadly seriousness and clownish buffoonery endeared millions to his portrayal of the Doctor on Doctor Who, is leaving the show after three seasons, it's being reported tonight.

Tennant will remain for four upcoming Doctor Who specials, including the now-traditional Christmas special, which were already scheduled in lieu of a regular season for the show in 2009 (in order to accommodate the sellout performances of Hamlet that Tennant has been enjoying on the London stage).

But after that, at the end of 2009, expect Tennant's Tenth Doctor to regenerate and another actor - the eleventh since the show began in 1963 - to take over the role. It will also coincide with the beginning of Stephen Moffatt's reign as showrunner.

As an aside, I'm starting to understand what it's usually like for a Doctor Who fan to have the departure of a Doctor happening on a semi-regular basis. First it was Christopher Eccleston a few years ago, and now Tennant. But as the Doctor would be the first to note, change is the one universal constant, is it not?

Okay so... anyone wanna guess who'll be the next to pilot the TARDIS?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Music 4 Games interview Steve Jablonsky about his score for GEARS OF WAR 2

Music composer extraordinaire Steve Jablonsky (who among many credits also does the music for Desperate Housewives and did the score for last year's hit movie Transformers, which longtime readers will remember this very blog going more than a little crazy about) gets interviewed by Music 4 Games about his work on Gears of War 2, due out next week.

Here's some of what Jablonsky has to say about working with Epic, Cliff Bleszinski and music director Mike Larson (who also gets interviewed) on the second chapter of Marcus Fenix and Delta Squad's war against the Locust Horde...

For Gears 2, the guys at Epic wanted every aspect of the game to be bigger, darker, and crunchier than the original game. And I guess they had heard some of these qualities in my film scores. I love writing for orchestra and choir, but I also love experimenting with electronics and different types of percussion. I basically use anything I can get my hands on when composing a large scale score like Gears. Epic gave me a blank canvas, which was really great. I experimented with a lot of hybrid organic/electronic elements, and combined them with the power of a large orchestra and choir. The one thing that we discussed keeping from Gears 1 was the Locust riff. It's a short aggressive rhythmic phrase that works really well in the original game, and they asked for my take on it. The rest of the material and themes are all new. Mike and Cliff made it clear that Gears 2 is bigger, meaner and even more insane than the original game. So I knew I had a big task ahead of me, and the music had to match the intensity of the game.
Click on the above linke for plenty more. And Gears of War 2: The Soundtrack is due for release on November 25th.

Thanks to Greg from Music 4 Games for the heads-up!

You mean there's another WATCHMEN trailer too?!

EDIT: I have found out that this is NOT the second trailer for Watchmen. That one is still due out with Quantum of Solace. This is just some preview footage shown during the Scream Awards last night. Still looks awesome though :-)

Rorschach's illegal entry. Dan's sexual fantasy and mushroom cloud. Dr. Manhattan's demonstration on the tank. Adrian's Antarctic retreat. Laurie's realization. The blood-stained smiley-face button...

This will be the Citizen Kane of comic book movies when it comes out in March.

So here's the second trailer for Watchmen:

And speaking of the Watchmen movie, there are reports that the ending has been altered significantly from the book. Namely, (SPOILER highlight to read) that the "alien" cooked up by Ozymandias to destroy New York City in his mad bid for world peace has been replaced with a scheme involving free energy and Dr. Manhattan. But a number of sources have also assured that the original ending is in the movie, or at least has had effects work done related to it.

Regardless, I'll be there opening day to see this. I've waited almost 20 years to see Rorschach's cool mask on the big screen... and in a few short months it's going to finally happen!

The teaser for BIOSHOCK 2: SEA OF DREAMS

I have a confession to make...

Ever since first playing it this past March, I have become absolutely addicted to the video game BioShock.

Actually, "addicted" isn't the right word at all. "Enchanted", "enthralled", "captivated", or something to that effect would be much more apropos. The game finally arrived on PlayStation 3 this past week and owners of that system are finally getting to discover what Xbox 360 folks (like me) have known for some time now: that BioShock might be the most beautiful and thought-provoking video game yet produced. Let's face it: a game that examines with cold brutality what human nature is capable of doing in the absence of God and higher morality is certainly going to be cut from a different cloth than the rest.

So I've played BioShock all the way through three times now, always getting to the "good" ending 'cuz I just can't bring myself to harvest any of the Little Sisters, and all the while coming up with new ways to try to take out the Big Daddies protecting them. Some nights I even dream of Rapture: the underwater city that is the setting of BioShock.

And speaking of dreams of BioShock...

If you get all the way through the PlayStation 3 edition of BioShock, you unlock the following teaser for BioShock 2: Sea of Dreams, due out next year. Would you kindly hit the "play" button and commence to arousing your curiosity:

Two things stick out from this spot to me: first, that's apparently a Little Sister, now quite a few years older. And then the BioShock 2 logo is encrusted with barnacles and sea rot... so perhaps that means a return to Rapture several years after the original game. 2K (the company that produced BioShock) has hinted that BioShock 2 will be both a sequel and a prequel, so maybe we'll also get to at last witness the terrible events of the night of New Years Eve 1958, when the society of Rapture self-destructed.

Can't wait to play this! :-)

Monday, October 27, 2008

No TRICK 'R TREAT this Halloween (thanks for nothing Warners!)

Last December I attended Butt-Numb-A-Thon 9. For those who don't know, Butt-Numb-A-Thon is an annual film festival/geek pow-wow that Harry Knowles of the Ain't It Cool News website hosts at one of the Alamo Drafthouse theaters in Austin, Texas. For twenty-four straight hours, the invited are treated (and sometimes assaulted) with some of the best examples of the motion picture medium, hand-picked by Knowles. Almost a year later and I still can't help but giggle madly whenever I think of Feels So Good (the urethroplasty documentary that we watched during breakfast) and no doubt a lot of people who were there have tried to explain "BECAUSE YOU ARE WHITE!!!" to their friends. But anyhoo...

The final movie of last year's Butt-Numb-A-Thon - the one holding the coveted slot of "best unreleased film you had no idea was coming" - was Trick 'R Treat, a horror anthology by writer/director Michael Dougherty. Starring Anna Paquin, Dylan Baker and Brian Cox among numerous other familiar actors, I thought that Dougherty had crafted quite a wonderful "love letter" of sorts to Eighties-style horror movies with Trick 'R Treat. I wrote at the time that I was very much looking forward to watching it again when it was released the following Halloween. Y'all have no idea either how much I've been telling other people to be looking for this movie, 'cuz it was most certainly a terrific "treat"!

Except it ain't happening.

For whatever insane reason that they've got for doing this, Warner Brothers is withholding Trick 'R Treat from release. Barring some crazy miracle of distribution, it won't be seen this Halloween at all. Maybe next year though. Maybe.

Folks, there's a reason why Trick 'R Treat is being called by those fortunate enough to have seen it as "the absolute best horror movie" in years. It's darned perfect. The four tales told in Trick 'R Treat are so exquisitely orchestrated, the pacing is just right and the casting is spot-on excellent (to say nothing of Dougherty's wonderful script and directing) that this is a movie that demands not only a proper release, but for the suits at Warners to throw an unconscionable amount of money at Michael Dougherty's feet so that he can make that entire series of Trick 'R Treat films that he hinted about at Butt-Numb-A-Thon. Considering that the current slate of films is still recovering from the writers strike, Trick 'R Treat should be downright obligated to have prime territory at the cinemas.

This is, really, a very sad thing. I now feel like one of the lucky to have been able to enjoy this film. And everyone else should have the opportunity to be as delighted about Trick 'R Treat as we were at Butt-Numb-A-Thon last year.

C'mon Warners, give this film the wide release it deserves!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Weird Al" Yankovic offers "Whatever You Like"!

"Weird Al" Yankovic is hard at work on his new album and he couldn't wait to share the first single from it! "Whatever You Like", a parody of T.I.'s hit song of the same name, is a spirited anthem (or is that a dirge?) for the current economy...

Speaking of Weird Al, this month's Wired magazine has an excellent article about his career and how he's still finding gobs of new fans!

And if you enjoyed "Whatever You Like", you can own it for yourself (and give Al some hard-earned cash) by buying it through iTunes or Amazon.com or Rhapsody or Napster!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Return

If you haven't already, take a look at "Last Day", the absolutely haunting and beautiful new commercial for Gears of War 2:

In its own way, that spot (which was made by the same crew that pulled off the award-winning "Mad World" ad for the original Gears of War two years ago) conveys more of what I've gone through in the past two months than I care to find words on my own to articulate about.

Okay well, my personal life has changed quite a lot. And not in ways that I would have ever expected or wanted to have happened. My faith in many things got rattled to the core. Including my faith in God. That came back. Other things... didn't. Since the last real post I wrote over a month ago (which was made in very unusual circumstances) things in the outside world have taken a turn for the worse. Heck, the United States is now a de facto socialist country, whether enough of us are willing to admit it. And in case anyone was wondering: yeah, my info was about Wachovia. And that ain't to brag about it either...

It may or may not be the wisest thing to at the moment, but I'm going to take a stab at returning to blogging. It won't be as intensive or regular as it has been, and I've no intention of "going after the bad guys" again for awhile. Right now it's just something to help me through some things, and still share what I think is cool and interesting stuff with what turns out to have been quite many more regular readers than I knew were out there (appreciate the e-mails y'all :-) It makes me happy to do that. Sometimes getting to laugh at myself, and having others laugh too at it... I like that also.

I don't plan on discussing politics anytime soon either, by the way. But in case anyone's wondering: right now there are two people that I'm currently set to vote for. There may be a very few others that I might consider casting a ballot for, but those are the ones that I know haven't made any negative campaign ads. I'm sticking to the policy that I talked about months ago here: if any candidate runs a single negative ad, they don't get my vote. Might mean that I'm gonna turn in a pretty vacuous ballot, but I don't mind. It's a small enough price to pay for sticking to one's principles.

(Actually, I've told many of my friends that for President I'm going to vent my frustration by doing a write-in vote for "A glass of whiskey a gun and two bullets". I might post the pic of that on here come Election Day :-)

Okay well... let's find something neat to talk about, eh?