Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why? Just explain why, Japan.

This is too AWESOME to be on the Japanese equivalent of a pinball machine. Make this into a 13-episode series, please.


~ acsound

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Where on Earth can she be?

I love Carmen Sandiego. I played the game on old-school floppy disks on the APPLE II-E, and I even have a segment of her math edutainment game on the Wii. As a kid, my fanon was that she briefly dated Don Flamenco (Punch-Out) in the 1980s (he had referenced a "Carmen" in-game), thus making her more awesome.

Luigi tried a similar geography edutainment game as his debut solo outing (Mario is Missing), but it didn't work out, so he had to wait until the Gamecube era (Luigi's Mansion) to break out as a star in his own right.

Carmen Sandiego (Broderbund), Oregon Trail (MECC), and Number Munchers (MECC) were the holy edutainment gaming trinity back in the day. (Yes; I'm (35 years) old--deal with it.)

Carmen had two game shows on PBS, and a cartoon show with one of the most EPIC theme songs the 1990s had to offer:

Thus, when MovieBob noted a link to Hollywood Reporter about a possible Carmen Sandiego movie, that perked my interest. Jennifer Lopez will produce the film, and may use it as a star vehicle.

My thought is that Hollywood has produced WORSE video game movies with better actors (Super Mario Bros.: the Movie), so I doubt that Jenny Lopez could damage Carmen's brand.

Besides, if Battleship--a board game with NO CHARACTERS to center a plot around--got a film, then Carmen sure as hell deserves one.

And to the writer of this movie: I strongly recommend a cool retro anime called Lupin III, as well as any number of good heist movies, to get a feel for the proper pacing.

This is an easy film, and it should be a good film for kids and parents to enjoy--a kids' film done right, with a ton of merchandising rights to sell when it makes back its budget. (That sassy red fedora and trenchcoat alone will make a mint--many little girls will want that outfit.)

Don't disappoint me, Hollywood. I forgave you for Super Mario Bros.: The Movie. I overlooked Street Fighter: The Movie. Neither of these games lends well to live-action film. But if you, Hollywood, manage to fuck up a movie based on a video game based on a genre that Hollywood does well (cat and mouse heist film)--especially after Hollywood finally made a decent film with Prince of Persia...

...just. Don't. Disappoint. Me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Captain Planet is *not* my hero.

No. Just no.

No Captain Planet and the Planeteers movies, Hollywood: PLEASE.

A cheesy Hollywood movie based on good ideas can still entertain an audience (as the three Transformers films and numerous bad video game films have proven; the game films at least make for good snark bait, and there's an actual audience--like it or not--for the Bay films).

A cheesy movie on a rotten premise will just be BAD. Adolescents, without adult supervision, fly around in an advanced solar vehicle to save the environment. Surely there are better environmental film concepts than the environmental movement's BIBLEMAN.

Think for a moment: five teenagers with magic rings (based on the four classical elements and "heart") given to them by the deification of planet Earth, use said rings to summon a powerful golem superhero...who is weakened by dirty water, smoke, garbage, nuclear waste (which is the only one that makes sense for a superhero), or Hitler glaring at him. The writer coming on board to a putative CAPTAIN PLANET movie would have to keep Ted Turner far away in order to make it good; otherwise, any fans of CAPTAIN PLANET will get their equivalent of Battlefield Earth.

Okay: I concede that any idea, no matter how horrid, could theoretically make a good movie; that is to say, I agree with MovieBob that there isn't actually such a thing as a "bad" movie premise. Some ideas are just nigh-impossible to execute competently with the current focus-group controlled culture entrenched within Hollywood.

The series itself was mildly watchable, if a bit out of its depth regarding the issues it preached about (particularly the AIDS virus). The main reason this series receives my ire is that this dull, preachy show was considered good by Ted Turner; yet a show I--and scores of other people--loved and enjoyed, Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron, was cancelled by Mr. Turner because it depicted character deaths onscreen.

Mr. Turner is entitled to his opinion and beliefs. I'm also entitled to hate the idea of a Captain Planet movie--especially when there are better "save the environment" movies that have already been made.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nostalgia and Novelty.

The year was 1981. In January of that year, I had only recently turned four. That's when video games became a blip on my radar. By that point, there was Pac-Man and other noteworthy gaming franchises being born...

...including a goofy, pudgy man in red overalls who jumped over barrels. His name was obviously Mario. His brother Luigi showed up in a later arcade game in 1983, then the two of them rescued a princess from a spike-shelled ox-kappa demon hybrid in 1985; making gaming history.

I grew up with the Plumber. My oldest nephew was using an NES controller as a teething ring. That's how far back my history (and my money) goes with Nintendo and its stable of game companies.

That's the main reason I'm really annoyed with them sometimes: signing on to SOPA--given the glut of FREE ADVERTISING gamers have given them over the decades, they really ought to cut their fans some slack. (IP piracy sucks, but the media companies are trying to swat flies with sledgehammers. Government/corporate fiat over the Internet is not the answer.) That, and their NoA arm doesn't think that Last Story will sell. (I mean, it's only a brand-new RPG from the creator of Final Fantasy. It'll never sell...?)

Having said that, you know what irritates me even more? Nintendo detractors. Aside from the ones pointing out legitimate stupid dick moves Nintendo's made over the past three decades (Nintendo's a corporation; dick moves are inevitable...), they mostly gripe about being "sick of Mario, Zelda, and Kirby"; they want to see something new from Nintendo.

Never mind that if they've lost interest in Nintendo's output, they likely already have Sony and Microsoft products to amuse them; why do they grouse on games they don't even play anymore?

I understand that nostalgia junkies are a problem for the gaming medium, but so are novelty junkies: those who crave "new ideas" for novelty's sake--the hell with whether the new property is any good or worth a gamer's money.

Mario is overplayed, overhyped, and overdone. All true. The problem detractors of the good Mr. Jumpman have: 92% of his games are very, very good, and well-executed. The other 8% are third-party horseshit with a Mario license, like Mario's Early Years.

You ask "What about Mario is Missing?", dear reader? Ah. The SNES version has a decent soundtrack, uses actual SMW sprites, and stars Luigi. The only problem with MiM is that the enemies are no threat to Luigi--that was annoying.

Brand-name recognition means something, especially when the product actually is high-quality.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

MovieBob's questions to Science.

The good Mr. Chipman of Boston, MA posits questions (amid his usual snark) to the scientific community.

First, the jetpack: no. Just no. It looks cool, but the average person (such as MovieBob and myself) isn't the Rocketeer, and will likely go up in flames. I advocated the Jetsons-style flying car on his site, and here's why:
  • We have the means to protect human life in the event of an ordinary car collision, so it's a simple matter of scaling that to account for midair accidents.
  • The automotive industry has the infrastructure to manufacture said Jetson cars. Again, apply existing knowledge to the flying models--and make them fuel-efficient hybrids.
  • We'd no longer need airplanes or cruise ships to visit foreign continents, only passports. Vacation traveling and international work commutes all become cheaper. Moving to another country.
  • Air pollution would be reduced (with the removal of planes and terrestrial cars).
The industries involved would have to account for various birds' migration patterns, but that's doable (and wise).

The "cultured meat" business would solve a few problems, but would create others, such as the extinction of all domesticated farm animals. (Except for pigs and horses--who are smart and adaptable: they have gone feral, after all.)

As far as the space program, it's less "John Q. Douchenozzle" demanding an ROI, and more "Suzanne Greenpeace" and "Bobby World-Hunger" not seeing the point of spending money and resources on sending rockets to other planets when we have problems "here at home/on Earth".

In truth, the bulk of humanity and the environment's problems stem from the fact that we've simply outgrown the planet.

Sylvia Engdahl, a science fiction author, is convinced that this is the case:

I realize that what I’ve been saying here doesn’t sound like my usual optimism. But the reason it doesn’t, I think, is that most people don’t understand what’s meant by “space humanization.” Some of you are probably thinking that space travel isn’t going to be a big help with these problems, as indeed, the form of it shown in today’s mythology would not. Almost certainly, you’re thinking that it won’t solve the other problems of Earth, and I fear you may be thinking that the other problems should be solved first.

One big reason why they should not is the “narrow window” concept. The other is that they could not. I have explained why I believe the problem of war can’t be solved without expansion. The problem of hunger is, or ultimately will be, the direct result of our planet’s limited resources; though it could be solved for the near-term by political reforms, we are not likely to see such reforms while nations are playing a “ zero-sum game” with what resources Earth still has. Widespread poverty, when not politically based, is caused by insufficient access to high technology and by the fact that there aren’t enough resources to go around (if you doubt this, compare the amount of poverty here with the amount in the Third World, and the amount on the Western frontier with the amount in our modern cities). Non-contagious disease, such as cancer, is at least partially the result of stress; and while expansion won’t eliminate stress, overcrowding certainly increases it. The problem of atmospheric pollution is the result of trying to contain the industry necessary to maintain our technology within the biosphere instead of moving it into orbit where it belongs.

In short, all the worldwide problems we want to solve, and feel we should have solved, are related to the fact that we’ve outgrown the ecological niche we presently occupy. I view them not as pathologies, but as natural indicators of our evolutionary stage. I would like to believe that they’ll prove spurs to expansion. If they don’t, we’ll be one of evolution’s failures.

Note: I am not Sylvia Engdahl; I don't live in Oregon with two cats. :)

Think about it: even if only one billion people leave Mother Earth for the Final Frontier, the pressure will be off said Earth. That number is: if the peoples of Japan, South Korea, the US (which includes me), and most of Europe left to populate the rest of the solar system--if not cruising on a starship to stars unknown.

We have the technology to build orbital space habitats, and to make it livable for out-of-shape people (who probably still need to get in shape, but the lack of gravity can only help).

Unlike Mrs. Engdahl, I would be happy if I could live on a planet or moon: I want seasons to pass, and proper day and night cycles. Still, her idea has merit.

In any event, we need to go into space before some mook invents the holodeck:

In a future where space travel is mundane, the holodeck would provide a nifty diversion from the everyday grind. In the 21st Century (that is, now), all human progress would grind to a screeching halt.

Summary: Space "humanization" and flying cars are needed before the holodeck.

Thank you, scientific community. That is all.

~ acsound

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Entertainment for the Sexes.

Here's the problem, as I see it.

Boys get all the cool stuff: cars, jets, tanks, trains, robots; robots that transform into cars, jets, tanks, and trains. They also get to have fantasies about doing awesome and exciting stuff: traveling on adventures, rescuing princesses, saving the world, fighting enemies, flying through outer space.


Most toys "for girls" center around doing some form of work--much of it domestic.

Tea party sets? Work. Barbies? You get to style her hair and lay out what fashionable clothing she'll wear (This would be the case even if Mattel did make a "realistic woman" Barbie--which would sell, by the way.)

Baby dolls. WORK. Especially if the dolls actually poop, pee, and cry.

My Little Pony. Ooh, girls get their hair. That's work!

How about girls' kitchen playsets? Housework. Easy Bake ovens? More fucking work.

"Girls seem to mature faster than boys." Gee, I wonder why?

Maybe it's because while six-year old boys got to experience sports cars that changed into giant robots from outer space, six-year old girls were at home hosting tea parties, changing their toy daughters' diapers, and getting their boss Barbie ready for her high-powered hostile takeover meeting with Jerrica Benton.

Oh, for house-fried rice! Men: don't you care complain about your daughter wanting to play with your son's Transformers.

Girls just wanna have fun.

I feel better now.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

They wasted a perfectly good movie...across three movies.

I'd have to say the overarching problem with the Bay film trilogy is wasted potential. If only Bay had looked at "More Than Meets the Eye", Part One--the first damned episode of G1--for at least two minutes, then the nit would have realized that you didn't need to have 45 minutes of human stupidity to pad out his movie.


Just watch the first two minutes, from 0:32 - 2:32. A little bit of backstory from the narrator, then...

Transforming robots fighting and escaping other transforming robots! Complete with explosions!

When do we see any Earth humans in MTMtE? Please note below:

At this point in the story the Transformers have been on planet Earth for 4 million years; both sides are scouting each other out. We have no contact with humans at all until 8:00 (8 minutes) into the clip; that contact lasts until 8:25 - 8:27--all of 27 seconds.

And we don't meet the human heroes of the story--in this iteration, Spike and Sparkplug Witwicky--until 1:08 into this clip:

(Note here that the "Sam" of this version already has a job.)

My point is not to say that G1 Transformers is epic storytelling. Taking off the fun Nostalgia Goggles and putting on the sophisticated Grownup Monocle, this series is just as cheesy and full of plot holes as Bay's movies. In G1's defense, though, I must state that it called itself The Transformers, and gave its audience (eight-year old cereal and syrup-sandwich eating boys (and girls))...

the Transformers. More than any of the Bay films combined.

It seems to me that if you were to edit out all the unneeded padding with various humans in Bay's trilogy: Transformers, Revenge of the Fallen, and the newly-released film Dark of the Moon; and restrict human-TF interaction to Sam, his love interest, and maybe those military dudes....

We'd have one good Transformers film by Michael Bay--instead of three bad ones.

Granted, it would still be a stupid Transformers movie--especially with these two in it:

But it's the humans that drag the films down further, across all three movies.

"Wait a minute," you, my dear reader, say. "You didn't watch any of these movies!"

I saw this:

And this:

After that, I didn't need to continue writhing in pain.

The above hulks of third-rate modern art sculpture posing for Michael Bay's camera are supposed to be Optimus Prime and Starscream. You know, two of the most iconic robots in the whole franchise, representing each faction.

The first one is forgiveable: That blue thing with flame decals could be Optimus--after a trash compactor had its way with him.

There's no excuse for Starscream, however. None. Not a single one.

I'm not even saying this as a Transformers fan. No. I'm saying this as a character designer: these robots look god-awful, and they animate like shit. (No, I will not post a clip!) They're too "busy", as it were--there's more detail on Ops and Screamer than necessary. Even with the power of Autodesk Maya on Bay's side, the robots will still have lots of twitching motors and gizmos, and movie viewers won't be able to tell who's fighting who.

There. That's my unsubstantiated, yet informed, opinion of all three Transformers movies by Michael Bay. I'm in the minority, but it's my blog, and I can cry if I want to.

~ acsound