Saturday, June 30, 2007

Intergalactic Space Nazis

This week starts yet another reality altering universe defining comic crossover. After Infinite Crisis and Civil War both hitting my wallet in a big way I said I was out for the foreseeable future. That didn't last though. Shortly after Crisis I started picking up Green Lantern just in time to see Batman fail recruitment and Amon Sur get inducted into the Sinestro Corps. In the past few years my interest in GL has been slowly growing and I've read most of the important points of the mythos but I wasn't that bothered about this crossover. However, the backup stories detailing some of the more important members of the Sinestro Corps was slowly getting me hooked and then I read the Ion maxi-series which not only was a great look at Kyle's new place in the universe but offered a hint of things to come so I signed up. From here on in expect major spoilers.

The first issue, a one-shot, landed this week and the story kicked off in a major way. Hal and Kyle have both been following up their own investigations into the Yellow Rings and they meet up on Oa, the Green Lantern base world, just in time for the first frontal attack by the Sinestro Corps. Kyle gets taken and many GL's bite the big one and things look bad. However, things look at lot worse when you find what happens to Kyle now that he's in Sinestro's clutches. Mentally tortured and stripped of his defences we're shown that his new expanded powers are thanks to benevolent entity, basically the new Parallax's opposite. This now gone and Kyle scared out of his mind leaves him open to possession by the fore-mentioned opposite and we have a new Parallax. The reveal of the rest of the higher ups of the Corps is more power than the bad guys in Infinite Crisis ever showed.

What really impresses me is that Johns seems to have been building towards this since his first Green Lantern script, the entity of Parallax was questionable but at least made Hal redeemable, making it not the only entity out there makes perfect sense. He's also tied in his own work from Infinite Crisis while also pulling from Crisis on Infinite Earth's and the entire history of the Green Lanterns. I'm glad I'm reading this crossover because it was easily my favourite of the week, and a week that included Iron Fist and X-Factor that is saying something. To be fair Sinestro Corp has always been billed as a Green Lantern story and so far I don't see this being untrue. After the last few pages I had to check the cover to check the name was "Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps" and due to the amount of power there has me worried for the characters which are fast becoming my favourites.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Less to Meet The Eye

In a few weeks the world will be exposed to Michael Bay's vision of Transformers, which I'm not entirely sure about. Bay has a good eye for over the top action, something really needed for this film. However, things can go a bit wrong in his films just look at the Cuba sequence in Bad Boys 2 and most of Pearl Harbour.

That's not what we're here to talk about today. No, it seems Hasbro are moving away from Takara and giving Cartoon Network a shot at a animated show. On a very basic level I'm happy, I've never really given any time to the imported show made by Takara but the few I caught bugged me with their weird and long plotlines. Usually I'm a fan of such things but they just seemed to crawl along like Dragonball Z. All very Japanese, which of course does make sense. On the other hand, there were many things that I mentioned a long time ago that needed to be fixed with Transformers that Takara actually did.

The news that Cartoon Network have released is very worrying for any long term Transformers fans. No longer will the Autobots be fighting their long term enemies the Decepticons, instead they'll be fighting evil humans and "basically turning it into a superheroes story". This is totally against everything that has gone before where the Autobots are a peaceful race and are really bothered about getting back to Cybertron, but have to fight so humans doesn't get enslaved by Megatron and his cronies.

The art is, erm, different for Transformers as well. It's what I call Americanised anime so really its just following the trend the majority of the industry is going. The character design is where things really change. Prime's got a chin that would make Bruce Campbell jealous and the military bot (I want to say Hound but since no names have been released and its just a departure I'm not going to guess with any of the old names) looks like a metal version of The Thing.

The show also seems to be going for a Emergency services theme, Prime's once again a fire truck and there is also the military vehicle and a Ambulance. There's also a small yellow car and a motorbike which don't look to be anything emergency service related but look like they could have sirens as well and I'm willing to put money on the yellow car being Bumblebee since he somehow always manages to be popular. It's an interesting direction and one of two things that make me wonder if they can pull this off.

The other thing is some of the people involved have some good pedigree with shows like Teen Titans, The Batman, X-Men and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. At the end of the day we'll just have to wait and see if we finally get a good Transformers show. I'm not holding my breath though.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Torch and Surfer Show

4: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Funny it's called that, because really the Fantastic Four really don't do that much in the film. There's one scene where they actually work as a team, and that falls apart miserably. Really it should have been called The Human Torch meets the Silver Surfer. Apart from those two Sue runs around worrying about her wedding and moaning about their lifestyle not being the right environment to bring up a family and The Thing plays well off of Johnny and is good for a few laughs but really doesn't do much. Admittedly Reed's genius is put to good use in this film and he was much better here than the first film.

As for the actors from the returning cast Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis seem a lot more comfortable in their roles. Jessica Alba on the other hand looked out of place the whole movie, and it was unsettling to see her with totally blonde hair and blue eyes. In the first movie it never bothered me but I'm now convinced she's been miscast in this movie, or at the very least they've tried too hard to make her the traditional Sue Storm instead of just letting her look like herself.

The worst part of the film was Galactus. You see a planet destroyed at the start of the film by something that isn't the Surfer, then he tells Sue that something else is coming with barely anytime left of the film. No real menace was put behind the big G, and for him to then turn up and be a massive cloud was pathetic. I'm entirely aware the regular Marvel Universe version wouldn't work on film, but Ultimate would or even some giant spaceship. Not something that looks like an update of the Planet Eater from Kirk-era Star Trek. The fight between Surfer and Galactus was rather boring to say the least as well.

At least it was better than the first film, and I'm sure with the money we're going to get a sequel and if the rumours are to believed it's going to follow a similar formula and launch the Black Panther. Hopefully there's a bit more teamwork and the end of the film doesn't revolve around the guest star saving the day.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

No Solid, Liquid or Zombies?

I've finally managed to pry myself away from my 360 to play two games from the last generation it's taken me far too long to get round to. What has managed to pull me away from the grasp of Achievement Points and Live? The last Resident Evil and Metal Gear games of course.

Both of these franchises I was relatively late to. Metal Gear Solid I played as the second game appeared and I didn't get to that until it was ported to the Xbox. Resident Evil I arrived even later for. Despite the story really interesting me I'd somehow never played any of the series, sure I once saw someone start 2, and I once tried a friend's copy of the first Resident Evil but I missed the concept of the series and ran out of bullets pretty quickly and died. It took me to owning a Gamecube and Capcom remaking the series on the Gamecube for me to actually play the series properly.

Finally giving into the fact I'd never complete Code: Veronica without restarting I started what many have said is the best in series, Resident Evil 4. It was a pleasure to be stepping into the shoes of Leon again, as Resi 2 was my favourite so far and I found Leon's half of the story was much better than Claire's. It's quite a shock at the start of the game to realise that it's got a lot more gung-ho with Leon shooting anything that moves that isn't the President's Daughter. So far I have to agree with the accolades this game has got and it is one of the best Resident Evil's made to date.

It's a shame I can't say the same for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Not to say I'm not enjoying the game, because I am, but I definitely preferred the last two games over this one. The references to the previous games (yet to happen when Snake Eater takes place) are great for the fans and playing as the man who will become Big Boss is certainly a thrill but something just seems to be missing. The jungle setting certainly is bold and well implemented but for me Metal Gear works better in an urban type environment. Also something about David Hayter's performance in this game is lacking and his usual performance as Snake just isn't working for me this time. A boss battle that took me nearly two hours is very impressive, however being in the mood to deal with it has seriously slowed my playing time of the game down.

All said though, I am enjoying both games a lot and I'm glad I prised myself away from the addition of Gamerscore for these two additions to some of the biggest franchises of gaming culture.