Friday, November 30, 2007
UPDATE: The trailer for the film has been released, check out some detailed film to comic comparisons of it here.
Photo 1: The Newsstand
The first thing that pops out about this image is that they've relocated the newsstand from the Southeast corner of 40th St and 7th Ave to somewhere near Grand Central Station. In the book the location allowed for it to be within sight of Madison Square Garden, where thousands died at a Pale Horse concert. Maybe the big fat kill in the movie will be Grand Central commuters instead of metalheads.
MUCH more analysis after the jump...
Obviously, we've got the Bernies in their places, with Little Bernie sitting in front of a large ad for Tales of the Black Freighter, the comic he is reading throughout the story.It's also interesting to note that he's leaning against a fire hydrant instead of an electric car recharging station. Why? More on that later. They've also crammed a lot of other locations from the book onto the same block. For instance, the Rumrunner Bar, next to which the ill-fated Moloch lives:
Also, the Burlesk strip club, complete with the "Enola Gay and the Little Boys" marquee:And lastly, a poster for the aforementioned Pale Horse/Krystalnacht show hangs in the background:
Photo 2: Gunga Diner
On the opposite corner from the newsstand (at least in the book), the Gunga Diner stands. They've maintained the shape of the window trim and the elephant logo, but sexed it all up a bit to good effect. There also appears to be a curtained greenscreen off to the left, which *ehem* wasn't in the book. Notice the difference in the taxi designs. The comic is based in an alternate 1980s where the influence of Dr. Manhattan has fast-forwarded us into new technologies like the electric car, among other things. The movie appears to be set in a non-alternate 80s, with normal cars and therefore, as I mentioned above, no charging stations. What does this mean? Is the Dr. Manhattan character's influence on the world downplayed in the movie? This was a major theme in the book, I wonder what they're cookin'.
Photo 3: Treasure Island
Nothing really happens here at Treasure Island, aside from it being the earliest chronological appearance of the "Who Watches the Watchmen?" graffiti. They've added some details about what's on sale, and oddly used the chiefly British spelling of "collectibles." I guess that's what you get when you hire Canadian art directors.
Photo 4: The Pawn Shop? Hurm. Couldn't find any pawn shops in the book, but I did find a (much smaller) Nixon four more years poster:Which brings up an interesting point. Dave Gibbons' illustrations for the comic were extremely dense with little artifacts from the world of the book. But these artifacts were always subtle, never drawing attention to themselves. Notice that I couldn't find a better image of the Rumrunner sign, the Burlesk sign, or the Gunga Diner. These things are all throughout the book, yet they are easy to overlook because they don't announce their presence. We don't even ever see the full phrase "Who Watches the Watchmen?" We have to piece it together from the fragments we see throughout the story. This is what makes rereading Watchmen such a treat--you'll always notice something you never saw before. Here's hoping Zack Snyder is approaching the film with the same delicate touch.
All in all, these stills get me excited. They feel like Watchmen. Notice how faithful they're being to the slightly bizarre yellow and purple-heavy color scheme of the book: the yellows of the door Rorschach is walking towards and Treasure Island, and the purple Gunga Diner. Vrrr nice.
Indulge yourself with some brand new iphone cases with cool concept designs.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
You put your ipod in your pocket, and in your pocket are your keys and a pen that, unbeknownst to you, sprung a leak yesterday.
The moment will come when you feel like listening to the “No One” by Miss Alicia Keys.
You reach for your ipod and see this:
There’s a crapload of ink dried up permanently covering almost 2/3 of your screen. Friend: “Hey what song is this?” You: “I DON’T KNOW.”
That scratch takes itself right through the touchwheel.
Don’t hate yourself. It’s not like you were about to velcro your ipod into a forty-dollar accessory like it’s about to go on a trip to Mars. If you’d wanted to cart around a refrigerator-sized device that plays music, then you could just put your home stereo system into a wagon. Tell me I'm wrong. No, you wanted an ipod that was shaped like an ipod. And don’t step over here with an idea about some translucent royal blue holiday saran wrap googity moogity that, while sure it maintains your junk’s silhouette, is about as nice to look at as the CIA headquarters in DC and about as good at protecting you and yours as the CIA has been in recent years. Tell me I'm wrong.
There's hope. Four weeks ago, I was at an event with my friends A. H. Robe and Albertson Rather.
I came upon two gentlemen selling these. They're gelaskins. Check out how nice.
They come for a variety of ipod models, and some phones and computers too. Most importantly, they look good.
These gelaskins are made of a special adhesive designed for use on buses and cars. The adhesive is tough. Your keys won’t be able to scratch up your nano no matter how much they want to.
The gelaskins peel right off, too. Maybe you get tired of the beautiful artwork encasing your ipod. Well, remove it. Go ahead. What’s that, you applied your gelaskin last year? That shit peels off like it’s late for a meeting, no matter how long it’s been in place.
And the gelaskins collection is well curated. This is one of those opportunities to give the world a lot of information about yourself. What kind of person are you? A dreamy kid? Troy McClure? Proudly into golf?
Here’s my 2nd generation nano today: protected on all possible sides (there’s even a gelascreen on my screen protecting it from scratches).
Here’s a jacked-up modification AHR made using the sassy steam punk gelaskin she got at an expo. It’s for an iPod touch, not her classic kind, but she wanted to look cool, so she’s trying to make it work.
Friday, November 30th
- Jurassic Park
- Midnight @ The Sunshine, 143 East Houston Street, Manhattan
Saturday, December 1st
- Target 30 Free Hours
- 12pm @ New Museum For Contemporary Art, 235 Bowery, Manhattan
Sunday, December 2nd
- Fix Tape Exchange
- 8pm @ Sound Fix, 110 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn
Thursday, November 29, 2007
As much as I'd like to see Pixar set a precedent for high-quality animated films competing on the level of other critically acclaimed films, I don't see it happening this time around. 2007 looks to be a pretty damn good year for American films, this being the year when the US's endless war anxiety finally rose to the surface in an eruption of downbeat, bloody movies, setting up a crowded playing field that I doubt Ratatouille will squeeze into.
What would it take, I wonder, for an animated movie to get nominated these days? The first and last cartoon to compete for Best Picture was Beauty and the Beast; has there been another animated film released in America since then that has had the same winning combination of production value, dignity, and traditional storytelling? The Triplets of Bellville was a bit hit with critics, but it was way too weird to play as an Oscar movie (although that year the extremely weird Return of the King won, which in addition to being a mess was one of the most boring movie I've ever seen, despite featuring a scene where a man on fire jumps off a mountain). Action-comedies are persona non-grata as far as the Oscars are concerned, so The Incredibles is out too. I think the only animated movie in the last seven years that could have had a shot was Spirited Away, which was also foreign and pretty bizarre, but was easy to watch and by a famous and celebrated filmmaker. But Spirited Away has come and gone, let's look to the future. If Ratatouille can't change Americans minds about animated film, perhaps Persepolis can. With an amazing looking trailer and extremely timely subject matter (a first person recollection of Iran's Islamic Revolution), Persepolis is poised to be one of the biggest adult-oriented animated features in U.S history, and will also likely determine commercial viability of animated films adapted from comics. Given those stakes, I hope Persepolis lives up to it's hype. But as far as awards go, it'll have a hard enough time wrenching that statue out of Ratatouille's hands in the Animated Feature category, especially if the Best Pic campaign fails. Or who knows, maybe Jerry Seinfeld will do his stand-up in every Academy voter's living room and Bee Movie will take the whole thing.
Related: My schizoid review of Ratatouille with a title that makes zero sense.
Geekanerd's look at Persepolis' acting talent, plus one of the early trailers.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The Boing Boing guys get up close and personal with a giant Atari 2600 joystick. Seems like it would be fun to play with a friend, one on stick and one on button. Things were so simple back then, it would take an entire party to work a giant PlayStation controller.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
In the following scene, the recently resurrected Ra's Al Ghul tries to temp Robin to the dark side. Notice the lack of backgrounds in the following exchange, although I must say the colorists at least gave a nice sort of sponge-paint texture with what could have been a solid color background. The acting here is mediocre; you might expect a little more sting in Robin's face upon hearing Ra's offer to bring his parents back to life, but underacting isn't as distracting as what's coming up in a few panels....
Here comes the big acting moment...
What is that expression in the last panel? From Ra's dialogue, we can surmise Robin is supposed to be feeling...anger? Hurt? Self-Doubt? Schadenfreude about what a loser Jason is? It's impossible to tell what Dini had intended Robin's reaction to be, because nothing in this drawing, not the expression, the angle, or the lighting, is going to tell us. It's unfocused acting.
Shortly thereafter, it seems Robin might actually be convinced....
Here we have the opposite problem; in the first panel, Robin is seriously over-acting his line. We learn shortly after this sequence that Robin is just stalling for time, so perhaps the artist felt Robin should be over-acting, to convey to the audience the fact that he's just playing along. But did we really need both the arched eyebrow and a hand-to-chin pondering pose straight out of the silent film era? This is the kind of acting you could get away with if you were drawing a henchman, or some other kind of dim-witted character. But with a character like Robin, it comes off as overselling a simple point. The second panel is a little better, as you do see a bit of urgency in his face, although for someone who learned from Batman, that certainly isn't much of a poker face.
Here we see an subtle example of out-of-character acting. Some might dispute this point, but this struck me as too smug of a pose for the Dark Knight. I'm not saying that Batman has never been written as a smug jerk, but in Dini's run of Detective he's tended to be more on the stoic side. Whether you like this pose or not (and I'll admit it's a cool expression), this is a good example of how an expression can color a characters "line-reading". Combined with the smirk, this line comes off like undignified bragging.
Speaking of smirks, here we have a Arkham doctor conferring with a colleague after seeing a trio of villains bouncing off the walls in a padded cell, due to events seen in Nightwing #138.
Now, I realize Arkham has a history of hiring some pretty screwed up people. But that smirk is out of control. Combined with the arched eyebrow and a literal gleam in her eye, and you have the most evil woman in the world. It's hard to call this an out of character moment, since we don't know who this character is, but it's clear that this moment is about the contrast between what the doctor is feeling and saying, and it would have been more believable, and therefore more chilling, if the smile felt like something between the reader and the character, as opposed to a huge grin everyone in the room can see.
Meanwhile, Talia and Batman wander around in the snow....
Besides the "clothing/anatomy doesn't work that way" alert in panel four, that last panel has Batman looking kind of like Santa Claus in his level of jolliness. It's kind of hilarious though, so maybe I'll just stop complaining here. Here's hoping next month's issue of Tec is more balanced.
Doesn't it say something about humans that when we program a conversational robot all the damn thing talks about is how much it loves its creators? My favorite part of the video is when he's talking to the baby and says "I'm a baby too, you know. But one day I'll be as smart as a real human. And when that happens, I'm going to come and find you. And... we'll be friends." It doesn't take a genius to read the murderous intent between those lines.
Read the rest of our "The Future Is Here" Series...
Monday, November 26, 2007
Product Placement Alert - Catwoman #76
This was actually a really fun comic, but these out-of-nowhere product shots kind of eeked me out. I suppose it could just be a creative choice that Catwoman loves her Chucks but...surely there are more appropriate shoes for the professional cat burgler. Whatever. Here are the shoes the second panel are based on:
Hit the jump for time travellers, zombie shoppers and crying children!
Achievement in Futurespeak - Invincible #46Time travellers with "superior future fighting skills" stealing the Declaration of Independence and escaping on a "time sled"? Count me in!
Never Forget - Countdown to Mystery #3Batman can't go a day without being reminded of his dead parents.
Best Splash Page - The Flash #234
This is just a great looking splash page. Artist Freddie Williams III gives us a big beautiful cityscape that really pops with oustanding colors by Tanya and Richard Horie. The Flash's speed-path kinda reminds me of those Family Circus cartoons with the dotted line.
Seasonal Reminder - Countdown to Mystery #3
This scene takes place in a man's subconscious, but it also serves as a timely reminder of the horrific spendor of Black Friday.
Best Dramatic Pathos - The Flash #234
Context: The Flash's kids arguing about their new powers, and the boy is more wary because he privately overheard that their unstable powers might one day kill them both. The combination of angles in the first two panels are really disorienting, considering the boy is hanging upside down and the girl is half inside a wall. This combined with excellent kid-dialouge makes for a very tense couple of panels, and sudden wide shot at the end effectively captures a particular sort of helplessness only felt by little kids in confusing situations. And where would superhero comics be without childhood angst?
Banana Radomizer Award for Achievement in WTF - The Search For Ray Palmer, Gotham By Gaslight
Besides the editorial mistake (after Kyle jokes about searching 131 worlds, Monitor Bob looks at Jason and says, "There are only fifty-two worlds, Jason, you know that."), there's this strange insistence by Jason Todd in the first panel that this Victorian Era World is somehow where he truly belongs. And he was saying that throughout the whole book. What is it exactly that attracts you to this world, Jason? Your love of social caste systems? A strong interest in antiques? Have you been steam-punk cosplayer all this time? Just find Ray Palmer already.
Monday, November 26th
- In The Mouth of Madness
- 10pm @ Metropol/Cinema Classics, 332 11th Street, Manhattan
Tuesday, November 27th
- Animator Tom Sito
- 7pm @ School of Visual Arts, 209 East 23rd Street, 3rd Floor
Wednesday, November 28th
- Music Trivia Quiz
- 9pm @ Freddy's Bar & Backroom, 485 Dean St, Brooklyn
Thursday, November 29th
- Claudio Sanchez and Ken Kelly
- 5pm @ Jim Hanley's Universem 4 West 33rd Street, Manhattan
Sunday, November 25, 2007
The evidence after the jump...
There's a Letters to the Editor section on page two, and the second letter (titled "Major Letdown?") is about the formulation of the Major Crimes Unit, the branch of the Gotham City Police Department that Gotham Central focuses on. This by itself might not be a direct reference to the comic, but the next example is more explicit.
On the front page, there's an article titled "Dent Tip Line Targets City's Dirty Cops", which reports ib how ADA Harvey Dent is launching a campaign against corruption in the GCPD (apparently it's "dividing the city" in half). In the continuation of this article on Page 3, the fifth paragraph down contains a list of cops that are under investigation for corruption. Included are Jim Corrigan, Roger DeCarlo, and Timothy Monroy.
Roger DeCarlo and Timothy Monroe (presumably misspelled as Monroy) are a team of dirty cops featured in Gotham Central #32, in which they haphazardly kill a runaway girl only to find out she was under the protection of Poison Ivy (d'oh!). Jim Corrigan should be a very familiar name to Gotham Central fans (as well as old-school fans of The Spectre but let's disregard that for now), as Corrigan was a crooked CSI officer and one of the series' main villains.
As much fun as it was to spot these references, I'm not sure if their inclusion mean much. The list of corrupt cops includes a number of other names, and everyone on the list including those I mentioned can be found on the GCPD Police Roster on Wikipedia. So either the writers behind this paper are really up on their Bat-history, or they're just handy with Wiki research. Either way, seeing Gotham Central characters mentioned in the context of the new movies rekindles my hope that the old rumor about Renee Montoya making a cameo will be true. Don't play with my emotions, Warner Brothers!
Friday, November 23, 2007
Friday, November 23rd
- Neck Face: Closed Casket
- 11am-6pm @ Dactyl, 64 Grand Street, Manhattan
Saturday, November 24th
- Bitmap: as good as new
- 7pm @ VertexList, 138 Bayard Street, Brooklyn
Sunday, November 25th
- I Hate Forrest Gump!
- 7:30pm - Midnight @ Monkey Town, 58 N 3rd Street, Brooklyn
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Most Creative/Inexplicable Use Of Powers - Superman Prime, Countdown #24
Sooo...what's going on here? How does heat-vision plus water equal multiple nuclear explosions? Did Supes Prime actually float there for however long it took him to raze all of Atlantis, one square inch at a time? Did he boil the entire ocean until all of the nuclear cores in Atalntis(!?) went critical? Is he using his heat-vision to hit the Atlantis' Death Star style exagust port that causes the whole city to blow up? I need more information.
Beatdown of the Week - Rip Hunter, Booster Gold #4
Nothing pisses off Rip Hunter like having his old girlfriends erased from the space-time continuum. Wait, but if she was erased from time, how would he remember her? Oh well, I'm sure it's explained somewhere - let's focus instead on that upper-cut in the last panel. Even if the path of his arm is a little stilted, that's a hell of a punch.
Black Adam Award For Tearing A Guy In Half - Black Adam, Black Adam: The Dark Age #4
What I like most about this page is that these two doomed Black Ops soldiers totally have the right idea about what to do if you see Black Adam coming for you. Don't stop and shoot, just run. Fire your weapon aimlessly behind you as your run, sure, but really concentrate on the running part. They both still died, of course, but style points for both of them.
- Zodiac: The Directors Cut w/ David Fincher
- 6:30pm @ Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Thearer, 165 W. 65th Street
Tuesday, November 20th
- Comic Book Club w/ Josh Neufeld, Dan Goldman, & Jeff Newlet
- 8pm @ The P.I.T, 154 W. 29th Street, Manhattan
Wednesday, November 21st
- IT IS FINE. Everything Is Fine! with Crispin Glover
- 7:30pm @ The IFC Center, 323 Ave of the Americas, Manhattan
Thursday, November 22nd
- Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
- Parade starts at 9am, come early - click the link for viewing locations.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Friday, November 16th
- Medal of Honor Heroes 2 Launch
- 6pm@ Nintendo World, 10 Rockefeller Plaza, Manhattan
Saturday, November 17th
- Mulholland Drive
- 12:10am @ IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave, Manhattan
Sunday, November 18th
- The Big Apple Con
- 10am @ Penn Plaza Pavilion, 401 Seventh Avenue at 33rd St., Manhattan
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Marching bands merely playing video game music is hardly newsworthy in this day and age, but this Cal band goes the extra mile and actually acts out some old faves on a large scale: Tetris, Super Mario Bros., Pokemon... It's all there. A triumph of mankind's drive to do awesome shit.
Milk & Cookies via Gizmodo.
Lately it seems like you can't take two steps in Manhattan without someone shoving a Beowulf screening ticket in your face. Yesterday hipster-nerds picked up passes at the East Village bar The Sunburnt Cow at release party for the Beowulf video game, which I'd assume is visually indistinguishable from the Beowulf movie which already looks like a video game cut-scene.
Today the free passes are being given out in true-blue nerd locations; Forbidden Planet and The Neutral Ground Gaming Room (Magic Players, holla!). Details after the jump.
Each pass admits 2, and the screening will take place at 8pm TONIGHT. Passes will be available at the stores between 12pm and 4pm.
This is a Village Voice sponsored event, and if you're part of their fairly awesome Movie Club mailing list you'll be automatically entered in a email-drawing for passes, but really, who can take that chance?
According to the ad in the Voice, only 50 tickets will be available at each location, so I'm guessing they'll go fast, particularly at Forbidden Planet. Possibly slightly less so at Neutral Ground, because the address the Voice published in their ad was, according to the store clerk I spoke to, "completely wrong". The completely right store locations are:
840 Broadway (on the corner of East 13th Street)
15 West 37th Street
(between 5th & 6th Avenues)
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Alex dishes on merch opportunities:
You’ll be able to take your band avatars, pose them, create album covers with your band logo and different scenes with your avatars. And then you’ll be able to turn that into real world stuff. For example, figurines based upon your Rock Band avatars, t-shirts with your fake band’s album art and your tour dates on the back from your accomplishments within the game, bumper stickers, old records, things like that. Really cool real-world merchandise based on this fictitious band that you’ve created in the game.Alex on the future of the Rock Band platform:
In 3 to 5 years people are going to expect to be able to play with music as the normal way that they experience music that they love. If you have a favorite band that releases a new album, sure you’ll buy the CD but you’ll also want to go onto the Rock Band server and download the game levels based on those 15 new songs to experience them as an active participant in the music-making.Alex tackles the "why not just play the guitar?" question:
The guitar controller is very abstracted from a real guitar, but even in the case of the guitar controller there are some foundation skills that you learn. Rhythmic impulse with your right hand and independent pitch control with your left hand — those are foundation dexterity skills that if you build them up playing the game, they will translate to being able to lock in and play in rhythm.He goes on to say that it provides a window into the joy that comes with really playing guitar, that the singing portion will make you a better singer via its pitch feedback, and that playing the drums WILL TEACH YOU DRUMS, period.
Alex on smaller bands getting in on the action:
[Something else] we’re actually considering is releasing our own authoring tools out freely into the world, such that if you’re a band and you and your three friends are in your bedroom or garage making music, and no major label will even give you the time of day but you believe in your music, you can actually produce a game level yourself and send it to us for publishing on the game servers or distributing to your friends.But like I said before, go read the whole interview.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
As an icon, Mario is inseparable from the medium he represents, a name practically synonymous with the pastime, and like other creations brought about in gaming's infancy, absolutely absurd. Stare too long and you realize he's an overweight, mustachioed Italian stereotype who battles sentient turtles and grows to immense proportions when he comes in contact with mushrooms. But these are conventions of a universe that we've had over 20 years to become familiar with. Why does the mushroom make Mario big? Because it's a super mushroom. Duh.But they accepted all that twenty years ago, why not now? Is the argument that people have become too literal minded and afraid of a little surrealism? Or does the improvement of graphics technology leave less room for playful abstraction? Linde won't settle the issue for you, but he might give you something to think about.
Image from Rob's SketchBlog.