I’ve spent a lot of time lately talking about the future of science fiction on tv. Last season, we lost some good shows in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Reaper, and it is beginning to feel like there simply isn’t a market for sci-fi on any of the major networks. We’ll likely always have the Sci-Fi (SyFy) channel, but without the success of sci-fi on a major network proving ad revenue can be generated from that genre, the quality of sci-fi programming will be stuck in neutral and we’ll have to accept whatever we can get. With that in mind, I encourage all fans of science fiction television to watch any and all sci-fi programming appearing on the major networks. Today, I’m offering a preview of Virtuality, a 2 hour tv movie on FOX that can make the translation to weekly series if the viewers choose to tune in this Friday. The concept sounds pretty cool, and I think it could be a decent series. Sure, it is on FOX, and that means it’s likely to get cancelled before it’s time, but we have to at least try. The movie airs this Friday on FOX at 8 pm ET/PT. IF you haven’t seen or heard anything about Virtuality, let me fill you in on the concept of the series:
Virtuality is about the crew of the spaceship ‘Phaeton’ who are approaching a vital stage of their epic 10-year journey through outer space. With the weight of the world on their shoulders and their lives being taped for a reality show back on Earth, the pressure is intense. To keep the crew members sane, there is a virtual reality technology device installed on the ship. With the help of that particular device, the crew members can be anyone they want, anywhere at any time, despite living in a closed environment in the lonely vastness of space. Complications arise when they realize there is a glitch in the system which inflicts damage on the psyche of the crew members and unleashes a virus on the ship. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (”New Amsterdam”), Sienna Guillory (”Love Actually”) and Clea Duvall (”Carnivale”) star among others. Peter Berg (”Friday Night Lights”) directed the pilot.
The show is said to be very dark and edgy, dealing with some very serious themes like addiction, the weight of larger-than-life responsibilities, our growing attachment to technology and the inner wish to live in a fantasy or alternative reality and how it influences the way you see things in real life. The two-hour-pilot/film asks some interesting questions about identity, reality and the power of imagination. I have to say that I’ve always felt that quality science fiction addresses some serious issues masked in a veil in the future settings they so often take place in. While the series would take place in the future, it seems to address the issues that are affecting people right now. There is potential here for this series to captivate not only sci-fi fanatics but also a broader audience that wouldn’t likely watch traditional science fiction.
Fans of the genre will recognize the name of the series creator, Ronald D. Moore, from his work on fan favorite Battlestar Galactica. He is widely recognized as a superior talent capable of producing deep and meaningful work without sacrificing the action, excitement and thrills that help make science fiction so great in the first place. His involvement in the making of the series pilot/film is surely enough to draw out some curious Battlestar fans, but Virtuality will need more than that if it is to make the translation to a weekly hour long dramatic series. The pilot hasn’t even aired, and yet it is already facing some serious problems from the network. FOX hasn’t been friendly to sci-fi, and apparently things have yet to change. The project has been in development for quite a while, and there was quite a bit of excitement about it, until Moore turned in the pilot movie to network brass. Here is what Moore had to say about his interactions with FOX officials upon handing in the completed pilot movie:
Moore: Well, [Fox entertainment president] Kevin Reilly’s first response was, “I love it, and if this was a movie, I’d put it straight to DVD right now and release it, and it’d do big business. It’s a great movie. But as a pilot, I’m not sure.” He wanted to tinker around with it a little bit, and we played with variations on it, until we all got to a version we were happy with, and that was the version that Kevin took up the line to the rest of the people at Fox. And ultimately I think the communal reaction was that they were impressed by the production value of the show, they were challenged by the story material, and they just didn’t know if it was going to work on the Fox network or not. They haven’t officially said, “That’s it. It’s over.” You never know how these things turn out, but at the moment I think Fox’s attitude is probably wait and see.
Damn you FOX, damn you. Why do you hate science fiction so much? They have a history with the genre. The fan favorite series Firefly was well received by critics, and yet it was prematurely cancelled. Terminator fans were pissed that T: SCC was cancelled. Now, a great concept created by one of the brightest creative minds in science fiction is being prematurely judged. Damn you FOX. They’ve made it clear that Virtuality is a strong concept with great potential as a weekly series, and it could be an enthralling and challenging series for sci-fi fans and anyone else for that matter. But it’s not good enough to get the green light? And the pilot is shoved into the tv hell-hole that is the dreaded Friday night time slot?
For all you Battlestar fans, I’m sure you all feel grateful for what Ronald D. Moore worked so hard to give you. It’s time to repay him by tuning in to Virtuality this Friday evening at 8 pm ET/PT. Everyone else, I beg of you to please tune in and help to give it a chance to become the weekly series Moore wants it to pay. As a reward for everyone choosing to tune in, you may just be rewarded with one of the most interesting new series’ in recent memory.
I’ve always been a pretty big fan of Stargate in all it’s various incarnations over different mediums. From the first time watching the movie that launched a sci-fi phenomenon, Stargate, I was hooked on the possibilities of the concept and what it could mean for comic books, television, and movies. Stargate hasn’t exactly been a successful franchise, at least monetarily, and it’s struggled to captivate a mainstream audience. The franchise didn’t take off on the big screen, but there have been direct-to-dvd releases and a successful television series’ based on the franchise. No matter what middle America thinks of the franchise, sci-fi fans have proved loyal, and have been rewarded with a lengthy television run for Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis along with a not so successful cartoon series, Stargate Infinity. The last episode of Atlantis aired in January of 09, and I have been itching for some fresh Stargate action ever since. Fortunately for me, and for sci-fi fans in general, Stargate will be returning to television soon. In case you don’t know, Stargate Universe will captivate audiences starting in October on the Sci-Fi (SyFy) channel with a 2 or 3 hour premier film to be followed by regular hour long episodes each week. The series will bring a unique new idea to the franchise and attempt to explore an idea that has not been touched on very frequently in the other iterations of the franchise, to give SGU a fresh feel. I just can’t wait any longer. Perhaps telling you everything I know about the series will help me deal with my Stargate withdrawals. The series is being written by Stargate Atlantis co-creators Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper. Check out what Brad Wright had to say about the new series:
“The idea of Stargate Universe is that it is set on a ship that was part of an Ancient experiment that was set in motion probably millions of years ago — one that they never saw to fruition, but that we can… They got busy with the whole ascension thing.” The experiment is “to send a ship across the universe, and to send one ahead of it to seed the galaxies with Stargates, and that they would one day use the ninth chevron to get there [to the ship]. And that’s what Stargate Universe is.”
I think this is a pretty intriguing concept. It’s pretty clear that there are many different ways they can go with the show. As much as I loved SG-1 and Atlantis, they began to get a little stale towards the end of their television runs. If this show ends up just being a retread of previous Stargate concepts and plot devices then it will end up being a massive disappointment. I’m not exactly sure what to expect from the show in terms of plot lines, but I do know that the show promises to be darker, grittier and sexier? That’s right, sexier. Think space lesbians. In case you missed that, that was SPACE LESBIANS!!! In case you don’t believe me, check out this brief post and interview clip about SGU from our friends over at SciFiCool.com. Great stuff.
The show boasts a very intriguing cast, including Robert Carlyle, Justin Lewis, David Blue, and Ming-Na. The series also lists Lou Diamond Phillips on the official press release and he appears in the cast photos, but it is as yet unlcear whether he would be a full time cast member or just a part time recurring character. With or without him, fans will get to watch a varied cast of talented actors with plenty of range. I’m particularly looking forward to watching Robert Carlyle as the shows lead. He has a knack for dramatic acting, and his casting adds a bit of credibility to a fledgling series. In various interviews with Carlyle, he mentioned that he was intrigued by the possibilities of drama in space, which gives us a little idea as to what we can expect from the tone of the new series. Lou Diamond Phillips, were he to join the cast in a more permanent role, would also add some credibility and dramatic ability. For the comic relief, look no farther than David Blue, who’s character is a “total slacker” in his early twenties and an “utter genius” in mathematics, computers and other fields. He is a social outcast with an “acerbic sense of humor”, and lacks confidence in his intelligence. The character breakdown compares him to “Matt Damon’s character from Good Will Hunting with a little Jack Black thrown in”. He is expected to be the comic relief of the show. Sounds pretty funny to me.
I know that there is an extreme dearth of fresh ideas in Hollywood that is seeping into our living rooms on television sets. Spin-off series’ from a successful series are all too common. CSI was spun off into CSI New York and CSI Miami, Law & Order was spun off into Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: CI and Law & Order: Trial by Jury and Law & Order: Crime and Punishment, and surprisingly enough, I could list more Law & Order Spin offs. Sad, huh? I’m just as sick of it as I’m sure you all are. But I’m looking forward to Stargate Universe, not because I am a fan of the franchise, but because SGU promises to do what most of the other spin-offs fail to do; explore subject matter that is far enough away from the original to feellike something completely new. Sure, it could end up being nothing more than SG-1 with a fresh coat of paint. But at least right now, it doesn’t look that way. I’ll be keeping my eye on this, and refuse to judge the show until I see it. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who will be looking forward to this with cautious optimism. Now that Atlantis is over, there are plenty of Stargate fans looking for a new show to love.
Remember: Stargate Universe is coming to the Sci-Fi (SyFy) channel in October. Stay tuned, as I’ll be happy to keep you updated on any and all SGU news, right here on GKS!
For the week of June 14 – 20: Prototype, Ghostbusters and Nintendo’s plan to ruin a generation of children.
Last week PS3 owners were treated to the fantastic inFAMOUS, the open world, super powers, morality choice with great game play game from Sucker Punch. This week however, we see the release of the multi-platform game Prototype from the team that put together last generations smashy The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. The reason I’m mentioning them both here is because we caught first wind of them at E3 2008, and they drew very similar parallels when first reveled. Now that the teams have had another year to work on them, they’ve been released and people have played and passed judgement on them.
Generaly what’s been said about Prototype is that it’s very close to the gameplay of Radical Entertainment’s previous game The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction but brought up to take advantage of current hardware and added more story and badditude to the game. While people have been having fun with it, they’ve taken issue with the developer throwing in everything they could think. Instead they should have taken a step back and widdled the list down and combined/refined their ideas into something that has a little more impact.
Your character wakes up to find he has morphing powers, doesn’t know who did it to him and runs through them game punishing those who deserve it most. An ok premise and a game worth checking out, but if you have a PS3, I would recommend you pick up inFAMOUS to scratch that ‘destroy open worlds with super powers’ itch instead.
Another release readers of the site should get excited about is Ghostbusters The Video Game. Typically licensed games aren’t even worth mentioning but in this case you might want to take a closer look.
Like it or not, this game is being referred to as Ghostbusters 3. The original cast is back for voice overs minus Rick Moranis and Sigourney Weaver, the game’s script got a pass over from Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis and it’s not a bad game to boot.
But it’s not the game play fans will be looking for, it’s the story and I’m happy to report, the game’s worth checking out because of it. The main game play isn’t broken or bad by any means, but the big draw will be because you’re a fan of the movies and you get to hang out with the Ghostbusters.
The guys from this weeks Totally Rad Show had a great discussion of the game and have convinced me that it’s well worth checking out. Not so sure if I’m convinced a video game is the way I want to see a new chapter in the Ghostbuster universe, but I’ll takes what I can get’s.
Nintendo DSi Ware this week is another calculator and another clock, but this time they’re Mario themed! Seriously, the potential for DSi Ware is astronomical with the catalogue of games Nintendo is sitting on, let alone new properties they could be pushing out to take advantage of the new hardware, but instead they keep putting out this garbage. Here’s reason #57 why I’m glad I didn’t buy a DSi.
The big story of the week is Nintendo’s recent announcement of a patient for what they call “demo play” (tentative name) that will first be implemented in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. If you haven’t already figured it out from the name, demo play won’t be the ability to download and play demos on your Wii like you hoped for. No, it will be a button you push when you’re too big of a pussy to get past a hard part in a game that allows the CPU to take over and do it for you while you sit there and watch.
Challenging yourself to get past these seemingly impossible areas of the game are what make the experience satisfying. I would even go as far to say they are character building, but with the new ‘Nintendo Easy Button’ players can say ‘Fuck it, I don’t have the patience or the will to try after even the smallest negative feedback from a game.’ I’m the way I am today, because Mega Man 2 was my abusive parent and made me a man and I loved the game for it. It separated the men from the boys.
And since later levels of a game require you to have built up the skills and understanding enough to get through them, won’t using the Demo Play button too much produce players not prepared enough to take them on? The rewards for seeing the later half of the game are based on the dues you’ve paid to get there.
Forget 3D movies ruining the new generation, it’s Nintendo’s Demo Play you should be really worried about.
Dale can also be found over at www.8bitcyclops.com, looking at design, photography and old video game magazines.
He is a Hell-born demon who exists to train new soldiers in Hell’s army. His powers and abilities put him near the top of the list of most powerful villains of all time. Oh, and he’s a real bastard. If only being a jerk was considered a super power… IGN recently compiled a list of the top 100 villains of all time, and he was listed as the #97 villain. This week’s Hero/Villain of the week, from the pages of Image Comics, is the vile, disgusting, and pure evil demon, The Violator!
Real Name: Unknown Alias: Violator, The Clown
Status: Villain Occupation: Violator lives to serve Malebolgia and cultivate souls on Earth for future enlistments in Hell’s army. He also serves as a guide to all new Hellspawns.
Height: 3′ 10″ (as the Clown) The Violator’s height is known to flucuate
Unique Abilities: The Violator is a demon from Hell, and as such he has all the powers of a powerful entity from Hell. Violator is a superhumanly strong and resilient demon who has various supernatural powers including, shape/size shifting, healing, telepathy, possession of others, the ability to breathe fire, teleportation, and necromancy. The true extent of his powers are unknown, but it’s been made clear that the Violator can easily obliterate a Hellspawn, though he is not allowed to kill one without a director order from Malebolgia.
Career Highlights: Violator appeared in the second issue of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, and he has been squaring off against Spawn ever since. Violator frequently assumes the form of Clown, a short and obese human body with blue face paint. The Clown is the alter ego and disguise of the Violator, he uses this form so that he may walk among human beings. Whenever Violator possesses a body they also show this trademark face paint. Battles with Al Simmons, the first Spawn to appear in the comics, have been epic and brutal, and they have been particularly humiliating for Violator. In one particular battle, when Spawn returned to Hell to claim the throne of the 8th circle, Violator appeared to stop him and was promptly dispatched in a humiliating fashion. It was assumed that he had died, but the Violator has died many times, each time resurfacing in Hell or on Earth to torment Hellspawns and all those important to them. Sometimes battle with the Violator is as much physical as it is mental – as the Clown, he takes great pride in working “behind the scenes” to wreak havok in Spawn’s life by twisting those he has trusted and cared for against him.
In one particularly interesting plot line, Spawn was blamed for the murders of the city’s mafia members, and the Violator had to come to Spawn’s aid. After finding out Spawn had been blamed for the murders of the city’s mafia leaders he decide to show them the truth but without his demon form he knew it would be impossible so he made a deal with Spawn to borrow some of his power and bring it back after he got what he needed. Once he began murdering mafia members Tony Twist retaliated and sent out hitmen, however Violator had the aid of an ex-soldier with a grudge against the Mafia. The whole time however his brothers grew angry and embarrassed with Violator’s actions and decided to put a stop to him, after Violator had attacked the mafia his brothers found and fought him only to have him reveal that thanks to Spawn he regained his ability to change back to his demon form and defeated his brothers then betrayed his help and killed him escaping into the night as the mafia lost track of him, returning only to give Spawn back his power…. and to plan his revenge.
As the Clown, he has attacked Spawns closest allies and confidants, the homeless whom have taken refuge in Rat City, marking them all with his trademark blue face paint. He possessed hundreds of civilians and caused them to act as criminals, running amok and wreaking havoc on the city and committing random acts of violence. The attacks left Spawn laying beaten, broken and bleeding in his Al Simmons personae, and right when Spawn was at his weakest, the Violator just disappeared. This is indicative of the pure insanity of the Violator – his actions can be seemingly random yet always have a purpose, and you never know what his true plans are until it is too late. More recently, in Spawn #167, a new clown emerges, who is thin and agile, and fond of using knives. He hijacked a new body, and went right back to work cultivating evil on Earth and preparing souls for enlistment in Hell’s army. He still has the ability to change into his demon form when he wishes.
The Violator is revealed to be the cause of all the havoc of an apartment complex, freeing the residents of restraint and allowing them to fulfill their desires and violent urges. This allowed the Violator to create a portal to Hell from which the other Phlebiac Brothers (demons from Hell who could be considered Violator’s demon brothers) could enter the world. Violator is confronted by Spawn, but easily gains the upper hand in the battle. Mere moments from Violator’s victory, the spirit of the man whose body Clown is possessing gains control when his body sees his former lover. The man decides to go through the portal into hell, knowing that the only way to close the portal was to trap himself and Clown on the other side while he could still maintain control over his body. His plan trapped the Violator in Hell once more, seemingly with no means of escape.
Clown later reappeared on Earth, only to be shocked at finding the decapitated body of his nemesis Spawn lying in an Alley. He see’s this as an opportunity to assume command of an army of Hellspawns to lead the attack against Heaven by killing everyone who knew about Spawn’s demise and assuming the identity of Spawn, against the orders of the Elders (powerful demons who seem to be “in charge” in Hell). Yet he couldn’t do it alone, and proceeded to track down a demon living amongst humans in a human body, and attempts to enlist his assistance. When the demon refuses, the wicked sense of humor of the Clown is displayed perfectly when he leaves a “surprise” for the demon. You see, Clown is not going to accept no for an answer. Clown gives the man two days to get his affairs in order before departing. The man, still defiant, looks in his desk drawer to find the severed heads of his prize winning dogs and a note from the Clown reading, “I’m not Clowning around!” Classic!
While the Clown proves to be the slightly more devious and humorous side of the demonic entity, the brutal hatred of the Violator is frequently made clear. Consider his interrogation of a fallen Angel who had information he wanted. He found an Angel crucified to a wall(thanks to the newly ordained HellSpawn). He didn’t know about the new Spawn, and asked the Angel who pinned her to the wall, as he beats her with a crowbar. She laughs at his lack of knowledge about “What your side is doing, Mr. Clown,” which angers Clown. He gives her a reason to fear him as he contorts his Clown face into that of the Violator. She says she is unafraid, to which he replies, “There are worse things than death, especially for an Angel,” he then tears the wings from the helpless Angel’s back. Wicked.
Key media appearances: The Violator is such a popular villain in the world of comics that he is starting to seep into pop-culture. He was the subject of the song “Violate” by heavy metal band Iced Earth, from their Spawn-themed concept album The Dark Saga. It’s a pretty kick ass song if you are into that style of music, and if it was possible to give a comic character a theme song, that would be exactly what Violator’s song would be. The character has also appeared in nearly every Spawn video created over the years, starting with the very first Spawn game for the Super Nintendo . He has also appeared in the HBO Spawn miniseries, and the character was spoofed on Seth Green’s Robot Chicken. In the world of film, the Violator appeared as the main villain in the one and only Spawn movie made to date. The quintessential Violator outside of the comics remains the one from HBO’s miniseries. Check out this little video featuring the Clown/Violator. Warning: This clip contains foul language and plenty of blood!
Aside from the main Spawn comic series’, he appeared in the Japanese Manga Shadows of Spawn. But if you really want to get the Violator experience, you need look no farther than Spawn’s long running series. He has appeared in 63 issues, so there is a wide variety of titles to choose from. You should, however, start from the beginning in issue #2. He also made a pretty cool appearance in the Hell Spawn series and 1995’s 4 issue series Blood Feud, written by the legendary Alan Moore. Definitely something to check out, as is the case with all of Moore’s work. The Clown even got his own solo series, albeit a short one (pun intended), for 3 issues in the Violator: The World series.
Recap: The Violator appeared on IGN’svillain list for a reason. Whether he appears as the Clown or in his true demonic form, he is a villain that you cannot take lightly. His cunning and patience allow him to attack Spawn and the world with complex and convoluted schemes that take plenty of time and preparationto enact. His sheer strengthand his demonic abilities make him a force to be reckoned within any physical confrontation. Consider the fact that most villains have one thing; most villains have either the superior intelligence and cunning, or the overpowering strengthand physical abilities. So few villains can attack their foes withboth. For the comic readers among us, the multi-dimensional Violator provides high quality entertainment in a variety of different fashions. The foul mouthed Clown can provide the laughs from his crude jokes and harassment of Spawn, along with his intellect providing the surprises and drama that any good multi-issue plan of attack can. As the Violator, fans are treated to plenty of “wow factor.” His demonic form is wicked cool, and seeing him in action as a demon is nothing short of intense. My favorite Spawn comics are the ones that prominently feature the character. Violator is one of the coolest looking villains too. All of these things considered, it’s likely that this Spawn villain will be making some sort of appearance in the Spawn film that creator Todd McFarlane is currently working on.
He is considered Hank Pym’s greatest creation. The heroic scientist certainly didn’t intend for his foray into artificial intelligence to result in an unstable sentient robot that hates his “father” and the rest of humanity. Pym used a copy of his brain to endow consciousness to a crudely built robot, passing Pym’s uber-intelligence on to his creation. But a keen intellect was not all that the robot received from Pym; he also received Pym’s mental instability. After gaining sentience and realizing a pure hatred for the human race, Pym’s creation brainwashed him and convinced Pym to abandon the lab where he worked. The robot was intent on improving upon it’s crude form, and after he created four new “bodies” for itself, he was born – the villain known as Ultron!
Real name: Ultron Alias: Crimson Cowl, Great Devil, Great Ultron, Iron Man, Mark, Omega, Ultimate Ultron, Ultron-5 (and hundreds of other sequential numerical designations), Ultron Mark Twelve, Ho Yinsen Status: Villain
Occupation: Full-Time Villain, would-be world conqueror, scientist, mass murderer, and ruler of Phalanx
Height: 6’9″ (known to fluctuate) Weight: 535 lbs (known to fluctuate)
Unique Abilities: Ultron’s abilities vary with each redesign, but typically include superhuman strength and durability, the power of flight, and various offensive weapons such as concussion blasters, radiation emitters and his “encephalo-ray”, which plunges its victims into a deathlike coma. The latter ray also allows Ultron to mesmerize and outright mind-control his victims, or implant subliminal hypnotic commands within their minds to be enacted at a later time. Ultron’s outer shell is usually composed of Adamantium, rendering it almost totally impervious to damage; however, his internal mechanisms are generally less durable and more easily damaged. Ultron’s Adamantium forms have proven vulnerable to molecular rearrangement devices and the metal-destabilizing ore known as Savage Land Vibranium (“anti-metal”). Some Ultron models feature tractor beams and energy absorption capabilities. Most Ultrons are powered by a small internal nuclear furnace, and incorporate a “program transmitter” which can beam part or all of Ultron’s programming into remote locations such as computers or alternate robotic bodies. Ultron can often control other machines remotely even if he has not transplanted his consciousness into them. One recent Ultron model developed hive-mind technology, allowing him to animate and control hundreds of alternate Ultron bodies at the same time, becoming a robotic one-man army. Ultron is one of the foremost robotics experts on Earth.
Career Highlights: Ultron is one of the most cunning and vile villains in the Marvel Universe, and his track record certainly backs that up. In the 70’s, Ultron crashed the wedding between the Inhuman Crystal and the Avenger Quicksilver, where he battle the Avengers, the Inhumans, and the Fantastic Four before being defeated. He appeared on Battleworld (as Ultron v11) to battle the Thing during the Secret wars. Grimm brought his head home as a souvenir, which proved to be a mistake, as he drops and loses the head in battle. When Ultron returned, it was assumed that Ultron 11 somehow came back, by it was proven to be a new Ultron model, Ultron 12 – a model that was different from the others in that Ultron 12 tried to form an actual relationship with his “father” Hank Pym. When Ultron 11 did return gunning for Hank Pym and Wonderman, Ultron 12 came to their assistance, and the three defeated Ultron 11. Ultron 12 told Pym he was happy to help save his “Father’s” life, then promptly deactivated himself. In the 90’s, Ultron 17 teamed with Alkemha in an effort to create a volcanic winter by placing bombs at the base of several volcanoes. One particularly memorable act of villainy is when Ultron 19 slaughtered the population of the fictional state Slorernia. Over the years, Ultron has stopped at nothing to destroy the human race and it’s heroic protectors, often impersonating various heroes or villains. His ultimate goal is clear, and coupled with his ability to continually return “from the dead” in a newer and more deadly form, Ultron should be considered one of Marvel Universe’s biggest threats.
Key media appearances: Ultron first appeared in Avengers #54 in 1968, and has been a thorn in the side of the heroes of the Marvel Universe ever since. Some of his key comic appearances include: Avengers #161-162 as Ultron-8 (where it is responsible for the creation of Jocasta whom it wishes to take as a robotic bride), Daredevil # 275-276 (where as a pawn of Doctor Doom, it attacks Daredevil before a programming conflict deactivates the robot), Avengers#19 (where he slaughters the population of the fictional state Slorernia before once again being defeated by the Avengers in Avengers 22), Iron Manvol. 3, #46 – 48 (an Ultron formed from an old version of Iron Man’s armor, who leads the cult the Sons of Yinsen in an attempt to conquest via religion. The character is defeated by Iron Man and Jocasta), Mighty Avengers issues #1-6 (Ultron interfaces with Iron Man’s armor, which Iron Man had integrated with his biology. This allows Ultron’s program to transform Iron Man into a new version of Ultron that has the human appearance of the Wasp, albeit with a metallic skin. This version is eventually destroyed by new Avenger Ares, who uses a computer virus to wipe Ultron’s program from Iron Man’s armor. Ultron’s image later briefly appears on one of Pym’s computers) and in the Annihilation: Conquestcrossover where one version of Ultron leads the alien race the Phalanx, who view Ultron as the sympathetic father they have yearned for. Together, they invade Kree space. Taking control of the body of Adam Warlock, Ultron hopes to achieve “true techno-organic perfection”, but is eventually forced to abandon Warlock’s body by the Technarchy Warlock. It is destroyed in combat by Wraith and Quasar.
Ultron would totally kick Metallo's metal ass!
In other media, Ultron appeared as a villain in the animated series The Avengers: United They Stand, and the character was done quite well. His only film appearance (so far) is in the Marvel animated DVD release, Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow. The character is depicted as a major presence that dominates a world where the heroes we know have all either died or gone into hiding. A great appearance and a great overall movie, that comes with my highest recommendation! While Ultron hasn’t appeared much outside of the comics, the impending release of an Ant-Man film and a film for the Avengers, it appears likely that we will be seeing much more of this robotic menace on the big screen sometime in the next 5 years.
Recap: Ultron is a constant presence in the Marvel Universe. He is a villain that boasts a deadly combination of wicked keen intellect and raw robotic power, making him one of the deadliest villains to ever square off against the Avengers. The tragic story behind his villainy – including his origins and hatred of his “father” Hank Pym, add a whole new level to the character, taking him from run of the mill evil robot to true Super-Villain status. Ultron uses his abilities to control all sorts of machines, including the ones he created himself andheroic machines like the Iron Man suit, to play mind games with the foes he faces. This always leads to intrigue and mystery in all of his comic appearances. Ultron is one of the most intriguing Marvel U villains, and it is his time to shine. What a great way to introduce all you Ultron nubes to a villain I’m certain you’ll be seeing on the big screen very soon.
It appears to be a great time for sci-fi fans. This year alone is bringing us some (potentially) awesome science fiction in Star Trek, Terminator: Salvation, Moon and now District 9, a film that for the most part flown under the radar.
District 9 is a documentary-style alien flick directed by Neill Blomkamp, a short-film & commercial director recently recognized for his Halo inspired shorts that blended real-life footage and CG spacecrafts. The film is being produced by Peter Jackson; you’ll recognize this team as they were both signed to direct and produce a Halo feature film. That was put on hold, and voila.
Take a look at the incredibly unique teaser trailer below, to get a sense of the style of the flick:
Tell me that trailer ain’t engaging as hell.
District 9 has just shot up to the top of my most anticipated list. It’s got this cool Cloverfield meets Independence Day vibe going on. We’ll have more updates on District 9 up until it’s release on August 14th.
I don’t normally tend to delve into the music world here on GKS, as that’s a whole other beast, but this little musical morsel wet my appetite enough and is pretty relevant to the type of thing we’re all about.
If you’re not aware of the band Mastodon, you should be. They are hands down the most important band working today and are defining and reshaping genres with their latest album, a most amazing opus called Crack the Skye.
Now, the album itself is, for all intents and purposes, a concept album; meaning from the first track to the last, a story is told with a constant narrative. It’s incredibly fascinating and fun and could honestly translate well into a film.
Which is what was talked about over at Billboard – the possibility of a Crack the Skye feature…?
Apparently Brann Dailor, the band’s drummer (and responsible for the album’s story/lyrics) has hammered out a screenplay based on the album, with an unnamed director. The article also says that more than one director has expressed interest.
This is amazing news, if it ever becomes a reality, for the album and it’s story is incredibly cool. A film based on the story would be unlike anything we’d ever seen before, and I can only imagine having Mastodon score the beast – listen to the album for yourself and tell me it wouldn’t make for an epic score.
Crack the Skye’s story, according to Brann Dailor on the album’s Wikipedia entry is:
There is a paraplegic and the only way that he can go anywhere is if he astral travels. He goes out of his body, into outer space and a bit like Icarus, he goes too close to the sun, burning off the golden umbilical cord that is attached to his solar plexus. So he is in outer space and he is lost, he gets sucked into a wormhole, he ends up in the spirit realm and he talks to spirits telling them that he is not really dead. So they send him to the Russian cult, they use him in a divination and they find out his problem. They decide they are going to help him. They put his soul inside Rasputin‘s body. Rasputin goes to usurp the czar and he is murdered. The two souls fly out of Rasputin’s body through the crack in the sky(e) and Rasputin is the wise man that is trying to lead the child home to his body because his parents have discovered him by now and think that he is dead. Rasputin needs to get him back into his body before it’s too late. But they end up running into the Devil along the way and the Devil tries to steal their souls and bring them down…there are some obstacles along the way.
Tell me that wouldn’t be an awesome film if done right; I imagine it capturing the tone of Hellboy mixed with Lord of the Rings meets Donnie Darko. Oh how Guillermo Del Toro is made for a project like this.
But for now it’s merely poop shoot, and I doubt anything will happen soon if at all on a Crack the Skye film; but a boy can dream.
Want a taste of what the film could hold? Check out the video for the albums lead single, Divinations. This is utterly epic.
So what are your thoughts – have you heard the album? Yay or nay? What about films based on albums in general?
For the Week of April 26, 2009: This week we talk about TMNT: Turtles in Time, Starcade, Rhythm Heaven, Twin Galaxies, Excitebots, Banjo Tooie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Game Auctions, and my 15 minutes of fame. Whew!
Excitebots: Trick Racing for the Wii was released and it’s good! Even though it has ‘Excite’ in the name, it is more like Excite Truck and not like Excite Bike. You drive as a insect/robot/truck that transforms depending on the situation, art style has a bit of a Beetle Adventure Racing vibe to it, great sense of speed and random fun things happening around every corner. The course morphs and changes each lap, you knock over bowling pins, kick soccer balls, swing around bars for speed boosts. Sounds pretty crazy and recommended if you’re looking for some fun on the Wii.
Your old favourite Banjo Tooie for the N64 is now seeing new life on Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA). Late last year Rare put out the surprisingly fun Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (I say surprising because of their decision to stray from the platformer gameplay Banjo is known for) and released the N64 original for XBLA along side. Now we’re seeing the sequel being released this week on XBLA which is nice, but the most exciting part is that the ‘Stop ‘n Swap’ feature Rare had originally planned for the N64 version, but never implemented, is back in. The idea is that there were collectables in the first and second games that were never obtainable unless you initialized the Stop ‘n Swap mechanic, ripped the cartridge out of your system and put in the other Banjo game. Something to do with the N64 being able to retain some data for a short amount of time, so you’d have to be quick! Not sure I’d go back into the games just to try that, but it’s nice to see the idea finally realized.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine the game is out. Can’t say I’m too interested since it’s shaping up to be another run of the mill character action game, but if you’re into comics and stuff (and you are if you’re reading GKS), it should provide some fun.
This just in: TMNT: Turtles in Time is getting remade for XBLA. The guys over at ninja-pizza.blogspot.com have the full story, the most important being that Tokka and Rahzar have replaced the original level bosses Bebop and Rocksteady. What were they thinking?
I also noticed that the Twin Galaxies site has a user forum with a section dedicated to answering questions about the documentary The King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters. What was really on Billy Mitchell’s video tape at the airport? What’s the deal with the apparent break in and examination of Steve’s Donkey Kong arcade board? Find out on the forums!
In other news, I finally finished Bionic Commando: Rearmed and made ‘The Leader’s’ head explode. This game is exactly what a remake should be. A team passionate about the original material, that includes pieces from both the American and Japanese releases (Spikes where bombs should be, ect.), is self aware and makes call backs to the original (messed up translations during localization), great graphical and audio upgrade, true to the level design and game play mechanics, a ton of extra content added and not over priced.
The demo for the new Bionic Commando came out this past wednesday and from videos I’ve seen it looks like a lot of fun, but word on the street is the controls are a bit jankey. Hopefully they team can get some feedback from the demo and tighten the game up before launch, but until then, you be the judge.
Michael Jackson‘s auction items are available to see on Flickr. I’m not one to get into celebrity news, but seeing what kind of weird stuff Mr. Jackson has gotten into over the past years had me curious. The big surprise in the lot wasn’t the painting of himself as king, but the full blown Virtual Boy kiosk. It’s fun to think about him sticking his face in there for some Nester’s Bowling or Mario Tennis.
Some guy on eBay is selling his entire game collection to get some money towards a down payment on a house. He has great taste, so whoever ends up with this auction will be very happy, especially considering his collection of Neo Geo games. They were big and expensive (launched at around $650 back in the early 90’s) back in the day and even more so now, so if you wanted an arcade perfect port of a game without the arcade cabinet, the NeoGeo was the way to go. It is the quintessential retro gaming platform for it’s quality and rarity of games. This post contains over 100 pictures, so beware if you’ve got a slow connection. P.S. – Looks like the auction was removed this afternoon. Weird.
And finally the show that should be on tv 24/7, Starcade is adding an unprecedented 139 episodes to its already staggering streamable library. Head on over to the site and start watching! Then start dreaming of a life in which Geoff Edwards is your dad.
This weeks episode of CO-OP has a good discussion of Rhythm Heaven for the DS (great rhythm game with a bit of a goofy Wario Ware vibe) and the Final Fantasy 13 demo.
A new episode of A Life Well Wasted was put up this week and it’s as fantastic as ever. Great narrative and interviews set to a great sound track and it’s all about video games! The amount of thought and effort put into each episode is a real treat.
1up’s beloved podcast Retronaughts has returned this week with a bit of a changed format. Instead of a round table of knowledgeable writers talking about games of yesteryear, this weeks show is more of a tighter focused discussion that stays on topic. It’s a refreshing change, but I’ll have you know that the best part of the show comes at about the 1:14:00 mark when they start reading mail.
It’s hard top write a wrap-up article on an event that I didn’t go to, but with the internet connecting everyone and their grandmas, and the modern cellphone capturing everything from burning buildings to movie trailers, I can magically become an authority on anything be it there in person or at home in my underwear in front of my iMac. Which is exactly how I spent most of my weekend.
I can’t say that this year’s Con was better or worse than the previous one’s, especially considering that my ass wasn’t even there, but there certainly seemed like a lot more stuff was leaked to the internet last year. Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk had a huge presence in ’07, as did Dark Knight. I think a huge reason for this is that this year, the Con occurred after all the major summer blockbusters. All the attention was for future releases, not upcoming releases. And let’s face it, the SDCC is hardly about comics anymore.
Without a doubt, Watchmen is/was the treasure of this year’s Con, and from what I heard, the panel was nuttier than Nick Nolte at a cotton-candy eating contest. They played about 4 minutes of footage from the flick, that’s not seen in the trailer that destroyed every ones ass two weeks ago. As far as I know the footage hasn’t leaked to the net yet, but if it does I will annihilate everything in my path to get to it.
The other big thing coming out of every one’s mouths post-con (insert dirty joke here) is the trailer for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, that I originally wrote about here. Well that footage has leaked online in two parts, Part I and Part II. When the trailer was described to me, I thought ‘holy shit, that sounds awesome’. Upon viewing said trailer I thought ‘holy shit, that looks terrible’. Seriously… why is everyone going batshit over this? It clearly looks like it fits in tonally with X-Men: The Last Stand, which was embarrassing to watch. The feeling I got from this footage was that there’s just a whole bunch of mutants and characters just thrown in for the sake of it. Like Gambit, a huge fan-favorite. What the hell does he have to do with Wolverine’s origins? Nothing, the studio just knows that people go apeshit over him. And God knows why – the Gambit character is dreadfully boring. Just entirely unremarkable. If there’s one bad thing to come out of the ultimately awesome 90’s Fox cartoon, its that it made people go ga-ga over the stupid Cajun. And Blob looks like ass. And Will.i.am is in it. And he’s in the Black Eyed Peas. And his name is fucking ridiculous. And you just know they are going to cock up Deadpool, even with the magnetic Ryan Reynolds playing him. And Emma Frost looks twelve years old. And Wolverine has the same leather jacket from the other X-Men flicks. And Sabretooth has short hair. Though I will give Liev Schreiber the benefit of the doubt because he is awesome. But goddamn does this movie look terrible. Seriously people, pull your heads out of your asses.
But that’s my two big rants for now. In point form, here’s some of the things I’m excited about, and some of the things on my shit list.
Heroes season 3 episode 1 played in full to a great response
The Tron 2 teaser looks badass… err, make that “TR2N”
That’s all I can think of for now. The Con is over and my exciting life of living vicariously through other people’s fun and excitement is back to the humdrum days of normalcy. Mark my words though, GKS will be reporting live from the San Diego Comic Con soon enough… 2009?
It’s no surprise that Watchmen is getting the most attention here at GKS. Hell, that’s how this site’s name cam about… But the thing I’ve been looking forward to most out of this year’s Comic Con, is the fallout from the Watchmen panel. Though GKS is relying on second hand info, it appears that the panel was mind blowingly awesome.
As well as a Q&A with the entire cast and Zach Snyder, four minutes of footage from the film was shown. The footage included (courtesy of Joblo.com, original article here) :
The footage starts with a close-up of Rorschach’s mask changing shape. Slow, operatic music plays in the background. A giant Dr. Manhattan walks through the fields of Vietnam using his powers to annihilate soldiers who are futilely trying to run away. Their bodies explode with gory blast. The signature drop of blood splashes on The Comedian’s pin. Rorschach is walking through Comedian’s apartment searching for clues. He opens his secret closet where all his superhero wares are kept. He looks at The Comedian’s costume and his arsenal. We cut to Patrick Wilson (who looks absolutely amazing) as Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl) sitting outside his costume chamber. He’s schlumpy and sad.
A group photo of The Minutemen with the flash powder going off and Sally Jupiter rubbing her eyes. Dr. Manhattan and Laurie on Mars as their home rises and rotates around them. Laurie in Nite Owl’s lair pulling a tarp off the dusty Owl Ship. The shot from the trailer with Jon Osterman transforming into Dr. Manhattan only this time more graphics (you slowly see him disintegrating). A tweezer slowly moving watch gears. Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II sharing a kiss while a mushroom cloud erupts behind them. A shot of a presidential chair spins around and reveals Richard Nixon.
The Owl Ship breaks through the ice in Antarctica. A Vietnamese woman slashes Comedian across the face. Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II break Rorschach out of jail. Silk Spectre II slowly unzips the front of her costume revealing her cleavage (I’m assuming we see a lot more in the movie). Dollar Bill shot dead. Comedian getting thrown through the window and slowly falling to the ground while his pin spins into frame and freeze on the classic log.
I am more excited for this flick than any other in my 26 years of existence.
Newsarama also posted a wicked article with higlights from the Q&A here.
Watchmen comes out tonight in my effing dream.. I mean, March 2009.
Thanks for putting forth that extra effort and clicking through to this new site from the ol’ blogger page. Don’t forget to relink your bookmarks, because I’m setting up camp here for a while. I kind of like it. It’s a bit of a fixer-upper, but it’s homey.
Going from Blogger to WordPress is like night and day – and for a web designer it’s shaming that its taken me too long to at least see what the thing can do. It’s also a tad shameful that I’m using a templated site as well, but to hell with you, I’m busy. As for the meat of this site itself, you can expect a lot more of what you’re used to – my pretentious film reviews – as well as a few other nuggets of rapture that I dare not speak of at this moment (for those of you looking for a bit of a hint, they may rhyme with “podcast” and “screenplay” among other things).
Speaking of my reviews, there was a time, long ago in a galaxy far away, that I was going to be writing reviews for a local website specializing in showtimes for the city – all was in place for me to start. I had given them my bio, picture and even a couple reviews to start the race with. They were concerned about my language as my writing had been less than acceptable at a cocktail party, and this was a “family site”. I cleaned up and censored my reviews for the next little while and didn’t think anything of it. He never got back to me. The dude dropped me like a used diaper. Now that’s professionalism. My tattoo artist said it best, when I told him about my prospect of contributing to the other site.
Are they going to pay you?
Well tell them to shove it up their ass!
So this, is me telling them to shove it up their collective asses. I genuinely did want to contribute to your site, and was excited about it. I just don’t buy the bullshit excuse that you have no time to update the site or even answer my goddamn emails – you specialize in movie times… you update at least once a week.
Dont’ call me bitter though, I’m actually glad things didn’t work out for us. I was never really keen on having my thought-out and seasoned reviews in with the terrible lot that you publish. That’s just fucking awful.
That’s the end of that. I’m excited for this new vessel to set sail, maybe even gain some crew if anyone is interested. If not, to hell with you. This beast is loose regardless.
Now, I have nothing against the Irish at all. I love those friendly fooks. Their contributions to potato cookery and the cereal industry are unrivaled. And how can you not like that accent. It has all the charm of the Scots with only half the retardation of the Newfies. Hell, they gave us Conan O’Brien and House of Pain.
I give all those in Ireland, and any Irish descendant worldwide over the age of 40, free reign on this day or any other day to let their green flag fly. But back to this westernized abortion known as “St. Paddy’s Day”…
I hate it. It’s stupid. It is completely irrelevant in this town. You live in Boston? Have at it. Calgary? To hell with you. Calgary is as Irish as I am part Sasquatch (which, despite my impressive beard-growing abilities, is none). It is merely an excuse for middle-aged and over-weight secretaries (oops, admin-assistants) to get drunk at 3 pm on a Monday afternoon. I worked downtown on St. Patrick’s Day last year, and it’s pathetic. The whole sector shuts down and people get filled with this nonsensical euphoric giddiness akin to that of a two year-old getting their own chocolate cake. I’m sorry, but what connection to Ireland does nineteen year-old Xian-Ling have? None, but you’re damn sure she will drink enough food coloring infused beer to dye her innards green for a month.
Lord it will be a vibrant day at the waste management plant tomorrow, let me tell you.
Today I celebrate me not being a dick-bag just for the sake of getting drunk and saying “woo”. While I’m at it, I just may read a book about the history of Ireland and actually do something positive with myself.
If you don’t know that iTunes has a “celebrity playlist” section, then you fail at life for living under a frigging rock. That’s not to say that its actually any good really. Sure checking it out may be a fun way to waste a half hour, but aside from the occasional nugget of godliness like Brian Wilson or Elvis Costello it has become saturated with athletes and reality show pop-tart princesses providing a list of their favorite songs to dry hump to in the club.
So I figured I would take a stab at this. I like making playlists. I also like spreading the word on good music. And my music is good. And you can’t argue that. Not on this blog. And I also like being pretentious. So here you go, here is my one attempt at arranging a celebrity playlist – not necessarily my favorite tracks of all time, but just tracks I’m into right now. Calling them “tracks” makes me feel like I know what I’m talking about. Now rock out with your rooster exposed.
*Obligatory black & white artsy-fartsy portrait
“Someone’s In The Wolf by Queens Of The Stone Age”: “I listened to this song on repeat for an hour before a job interview once. It was the only interview in which I didn’t get the position. This could be due to the fact that I became feral and pissed on the potted plant and bit the receptionist.”
“Panasonic Youth by The Dillinger Escape Plan”: “Listening to this song is the closest you will get to aural-sex. As in sex with your ear. And not in a gentle way. At all. I call it ear-tercourse.” “It’s Gonna Be A Long Night by Ween”: “This is how you do a Rock ‘N’ Roll song. Gritty, sweaty and reeking of testosterone. Don’t call your mother. Don’t call your priest. Don’t call your doctor. Call the police.” “Accessible Losses by Darkest Hour”: “This song is a slow burn that leads to an explosion of flesh and teeth. DH is the only band to successfully melt my face with EVERY TRACK.”
“Ballad of Humankindness by The Dears”: “One of those songs that makes me happy and sad at the same time. Wonderfully human vocals.”
“So Did We by Isis”: “Be forewarned – listening to this song full blast is akin to looking at the contents of the Arc of the Covenant.“ “The Cowboy Song by Faith No More”: “It’s tough picking just one FNM song. I really dig Mike Patton’s lyrics in this one. My soul aches for never being able to see them live.”
“Mother Puncher by Mastodon”: “First time I heard this, my second pair of balls dropped.“ “Going Steady by Death From Above 1979″: “If the evil robot Bill & Ted from Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey formed a band, and were really really good, DFA1979 would still be better. Wait… they were in a band, WyldStallyns. DFA… still better.”
“Reptillia by The Strokes”: “Undoubtedly the most fun you will having playing Rock Band with your friends.” “If Your Poison Gets You by Frank Black”: “I sing along to this in the car.”
“Mama by Genesis”: “If you think Genesis is cheese, go take a dirt nap. This track is chilling.”
“Seasick, Yet Still Docked by Morrissey“: “Easily the saddest song ever written. At the same time it is so beautiful.”
“Samson by Regina Spektor“: “Makes me feel like I’m in the GAP or an iPod commercial. A sad track, but I like her lyrics and she has a quirky voice.” “Blindfolds Aside by Protest The Hero”: “Almost didn’t make my list, but it’s a valiant show of young musicianship and a real ripper of a tune.” While I don’t condone downloading music illegally, if you would like a copy of my celebrity playlist, leave a comment and we’ll see if I can get you a copy. It is highly coveted and each one will come signed. Glossy 8×10’s are extra though.