Saturday, 23 October 2010

Sonic 4

Sonic has never really achieved the glory of his Megadrive days, it's been 16 years since Sonic and Knuckles and then we waved goodbye to the 2D sonic of old.

You can download 'Sonic 4: Episode 1' on xbox live arcade, Playstation Network and WiiWare, a direct sequel to the Megadrive sonic games. And it's a nostalgic, shiny tribute to the speedy blue fella, that all Sonic fans have been waiting for!

A fateful 2D presentation that captures the heart of the original games, but now with a shiny HD (3-D looking) coat. Sonics never looked better! Although it does get frustrating at times and some of the level design is a bit dodgy.

And all those extra lives thrown at you on the casino level pretty much force you to replay that same level. Still, worth checking out for nostalgic fans.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Geek art page

I've made a page on here for some of my geeky drawings and hybrid fan art.

Like this self portrait above.

The link is just to the right, or you can just click here to have a look.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Movie Nerd Makes Life Size Alien Queen and Power Loader in His Basement!

Movie buff Alex has a lot of spare time on his hands and those hands are creative little fellas. On his youtube channel he shows off his impressive work and talks about how he created them. These two in particular made me VERY jealous;

Making of video for the Alien Queen model;

Alien Queen

Made for just $100 and in only 2 weeks!

Making of video for the Power Loader costume;

Power Loader

He made it in 2 weeks, for a budget of about $230.

You are my new hero.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The King of Kong: Steve Wiebe reclaims high score!

Anyone who's seen the 2007 documentary 'King of Kong' will know how epic this news is. If not, stop right here and go watch it...

Steve Wiebe started pursuing the world record high score on classic arcade game 'Donkey Kong' while unemployed, the documentary followed his quest (now working as an algebra teacher) to beat reigning champion and rival Billy Mitchell.

The film ended on a high back in 2007 with Wiebe victorious, but Billy Mitchell won it back not long after the films release, then lost it again for a little while to Hank Chien. And then, like the Empire striking back Mitchell got it back all over again...anyway, Wiebe reclaimed the top spot on the 30th of August, with 1,064,500 points. Yey! It makes me feel all warm inside.

I don't think we've heard the last of this epic saga.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Pimp My Console

I wish my 360, PS3, Wii and all my other consoles could transform into Autobots with lazer-guns, and then combine to make some kind of mechaconsolezilla...

Ahem. Anyway, 'Console modding'; proof that no matter how cool, powerful, innovative and portable a manufacturer can make their latest console, a tech-geek will come along with a soldering iron and make it even better.

One of the most popular mods out there is to take a TV based console and make it into a handheld. Ever wanted to play Zelda 64 on the go? Here's a portable Nintendo 64;

This professional looking orange marvel is by John Grayson, it uses two Canon BP-915 camcorder batteries for about 3 hours of game time. A Sony PSone screen, complete with the N64 console motherboard. And it's kitted out with the rumble pack, memory card and SuperPad 64 Plus controller.

How about the 64's younger brother, the criminally underrated Gamecube?

This one is by modder 'Hailrazer', who does commissions at a price.

But why make a home console into a portable? Isn't a DS or a PSP good enough? The Sony PSP is just a portable PS2 after all, right? WRONG! This is;

The PalmPS2 By Brian Gardiner. Packing a 5" LCD screen, a built-in DVD drive, a single memory card slot, and stereo speakers. Imagine playing Shadow of the Colossus on the go!

Sega didn't quite make it in the handheld market with the GameGear, but what would happen if you turned the most underrated console of all time into a portable gaming device? Well, this;

Featuring a custom designed case, 5" LCD display, and a built-in 16MB memory card. The portable Dreamcast is powered by two rechargeable batteries, for up to 1 1/2 hours of gaming. I'm not sure about the control positioning, but it looks pretty damn slick. And C'mon! Shenmue and Chu Chu Rocket on the move!

If all of these just aren't retro enough for your portable gaming needs what about these;

The Nestari is by the console mod master 'Ben Heck', combining the NES system and an Atari 2600 console into one polished, wood-finish package.

More wood? Check out this SNES handheld, it's a bit special;

Sometimes console modding can create freaks of technology that should never occur...

The Frankenstein's monster of console modding, a MegaDrive/NES monstrosity!

You know what would make your beloved home console that little bit cooler, a nice Star Wars mod;

Now we're talking serious geeky business, the Millennium Falcon Xbox!

Gamecube AT AT, it's the perfect fit! Anyone for a spot of Rogue Squadron?

N64 Tie Fighter. Old Star Wars toy + console the modder got at a yard sale for $1 = Awesome. It just needs a nice paint job.

And the Pièce de résistance...Drum roll...

HOLY SHIT! R2-D2 comes with a Xbox, Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, Atari 2600, Megadrive, NES, SNES and a PlayStation. He's also got a built-in sound system and projector!


Saturday, 11 September 2010

My name is Phil and I'm addicted to Anime

The Early Years.

I've loved anime since around 1994-95. During my early teens Channel 4 went through a period of showing anime late at night. During one of my late-night channel surfing sessions I found myself transfixed by the super deformed styling of the characters animation and the swear words that came from their mouths. It was a WTF moment that changed everything. My attention was caught long enough to take in the preceding ultra-violence and nudity, and from there on I was hooked! I was 13, seeing a cartoon with guns, gore and titties was possibly the coolest thing imaginable at the time.

I was aware of Japanese animation prior to this, but it was these Channel 4 late-night sessions that really exposed me to the whole phenomenon. I'm glad I got into it when I did, before it become oversaturated. With that first wave of films and OVA distributed by Manga Entertainment it achieved a cult status in the West that made it cool. There was the obvious legendary titles such as Akira and Fist of the North Star, but the ones I remember most fondly from this time squander in near obscurity now...

Cyber City Oedo 808

This sealed the deal. A 3 part mini-series (it’s a massive crime only 3 episodes were ever made!), about 3 convicted criminals in the future who are employed as part of a 'Cyber Police' unit to reduce their life sentences. They have to follow orders and keep in check thanks to an explosive collar around their neck! I’ve only seen it once since watching it back then on TV (a borrowed VHS from a friend years ago), and I’ve only seen it in the English dub (bah!). But from what I can remember this was the most kick-ass awesome action anime I can recall.

If you’ve not seen it and like your old-skool action stuff like Guyver, Crying Freeman and Ninja Scroll I highly recommend this forgotten little gem. Although, I think it’s quite hard to get a none import DVD and even harder to get a version with both the original subs and the English Dub on one disc.

Legend of the Four Kings

Hardly anyone remembers this one, but the few that do always get excited when you mention it. It follows 4 brothers who are the descendants of the divine Dragon Kings, trying to live normal lives on Earth with their supernatural powers and ability to transform into dragons. Obviously this being Japanese animation evil forces come to ruin their precious little lives and all hell breaks loose. I would love to re-watch this series on DVD, but unfortunately it goes for ridiculous money on import.

3x3 Eyes

This series follows Pai, a 3 eyed Sanjiyan Ankara (powerful mystical being) who is the last remaining of her kind and her immortal companion and protector Yakumo. Another I haven’t seen since it was shown on TV that isn’t easily available or affordable on DVD. I remember it having viciously brutal action sequences, taking full advantage of Yakumo’s immortal power of resurrecting from any wound, no matter how severe. He even had the ability to grow his limbs back; so he would get cut up, mutilated and severely beaten and just keep coming back!

A Pop Culture Phenomenon

The first wave of anime to hit our shores during the late 80’s and early 90’s boom caused controversy in the press, newspapers protested at the ‘ultra-violence’, depraved nudity and sexual violence seen in films like ‘Urotsukidōji: Legend of the Overfiend’. This notoriety cemented its cult status in the West.

It became more and more readily available on VHS, the local video store even had some Manga videos and I was introduced to the awesome bio-mech action of Guyver and the zany madness of Dominion Tank Police. Kids at school thought I was weird and immature watching these ‘strange cartoons’.

When I started college a friend there was selling his entire collection and I bought them all. I couldn’t get enough. But I wasn't alone in my habit and with commercial shows like 'Naruto' anime was no longer as cult cool as it once was, but my addiction continues with some of the newer generation, revisiting old favourites for nostalgic reasons and catching up on the classics I should have watched.

Going To Tokyo

During my 2 week Tokyo honeymoon I don’t think I could have geeked-out better anywhere else. All the comic and toy shops and arcades were EVERYWHERE! You couldn’t escape the anime goodness in Tokyo. All that culture, my heart was finally home. 'Mandarake' was the place to be; ‘one of Tokyo's largest vendors of used anime and manga-related products. The store stocks collectibles, VHS tapes, DVDs, CDs and used manga, toys’...

(me at the entrance to Mandarake)

I might have come home with a few little mementos from Tokyo (possibly a suitcase full).

Studio Ghibli and the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo

Studio Ghibli continues to push the envelope on 2D animation, from classics 'Princess Mononoke' and 'My Neighbour Totoro' to the stunning 'Spirited Away'. Animated film really doesn’t get any better than Ghibli! I knew one place I needed to visit was the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka.

It’s charming and quaint, but unfortunately photography was forbidden inside this enchanting building. Although…

(the robot from Laputa! This statue is on the roof of the museum)

Of the new generation of anime?

One of my favourites is Elfen Lied

The animation is technically excellent, colourful and fluid. A fascinating story following a new strain of the human race knows as the Diclonius, held captive and experimented on in a facility. Lucy a dangerous Diclonius girl escapes the facility and kills all that get in her way. But she is injured in the process and develops a childlike split-personality in the outside world, only reverting back to her true self when in violent situations. The attempts to recapture Lucy by various characters is where the anime becomes really entertaining and often harshly brutal. The violence is exceptionally gory; limbs fly around the screen, body parts are cut into segments, heads are decapitated, blood paints the scenery and the violence is treated almost like an art form, which some find overly gratuitous. In my opinion it’s a fine example of modern anime.

There’s so many great films and OVA I could go on and on forever, but I wont…

so yeah, crack is cheaper and probably better for your social life than a nerdy anime obsession.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Film Treats To Be Excited About In 2010

We’re more than halfway through the year and still revelling over an early display of awesome from 'Kick-Ass'. Here’s my top 5 most anticipated films of the remaining year…

1. Toy Story 3

Toy Story is probably the best CG animation ever made, Toy Story 2 was a good sequel and Pixar have continued to release groundbreaking films that adults enjoy as much as children year after year. This is my most anticipated film of the year. Can't wait!

2. Inception

This is possibly gonna be the biggest film of the year that isn't a sequel to a rubbish vampire film. From director Christopher Nolan, expectation is high after the success of 'The Dark Knight' and with Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead and a reported budget of $170 million. I'm a big fan of Nolan's Memento and The Prestige. I'm hoping this will live up to the hype.

3. Predators

What makes this so anticipated for me is that it completely ignores the terrible Alien Vs Predator films and the not so good Predator sequel (starring Danny Glover). And Robert Rodriguez is onboard to produce, with creative control and to watch over director Nimród (yes, 'Nimrod') Antal, director of Armoured (2009). We deserve a good Predator film!

4. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

From director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) and based on a comic book series. Scott must battle the seven evil ex-boyfriends/girlfriend of the girl of his dreams, before they kill him. It could be stylish, cheesy fun. I have faith in Edgar Wright.

5. Tron: Legacy

Released at the end of the year, this is a sequel to the 1982 cult classic. Jeff Bridges is back and the teaser trailer showed off some pretty slick special effects. The original was a flop, but gained a huge cult following and it’s one I remember fondly from my childhood. Roll on December!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Top 10 Film and TV Geeks

The best nerdy nerd nerds on the big and small screen.

1. Egon Spengler (Ghostbusters 1 and 2).

"Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light"

2. Doc Brown (Back to the Future Trilogy).

"Let me show you my plan for sending you home. Please excuse the crudity of this model, I didn't have the time to build it to scale or to paint it. [reveals intricate tabletop model of the town square]"

3. Seth Brundle (The Fly).

Genius physicist, inventor, twitchy, tweed jackets...

4. Steve Wiebe (The King Of Kong).

Devoting your life to beating the Donkey Kong world record is pretty nerdy.

5. Comic Book Guy (The Simpsons).

"I've spent my entire life doing nothing but collecting comic books...and now there's only time to say...Life well spent!"

6. Mulder and Scully (X-Files).

They spend their days investigating extra-terrestrial and paranormal activity…

7. Moss (IT Crowd).

"You see the driver hooks a function by patching the system call table, so it's not safe to unload it unless another thread's about to jump in there and do its stuff, and you don't want to end up in the middle of invalid memory...hello?"

8. Donatello (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).

Nuff said.

9. Doctor Sam Beckett (Quantum Leap).

"Oh boy"

10. Sheldon (The Big Bang Theory).

"You have about as much chance of going out with Penny as the Hubble Telescope has of finding that at the center of each black hole there's a little man with a flashlight trying to find the circuit breaker"

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Cult Classic Reviews #2: Scanners

An early film from David Cronenberg, from his first wave of b-movie horror films. Scanners was made the year I was born (1981), I remember seeing it when I was pretty young and finding it a disturbing watch. There was something unsettling about the tone of the film and the idea of someone being able to get inside my head and kill me with just the power of their mind.

Watching it now it’s aged, but still manages to be pretty disturbing all the same. Yeah, most of the acting is wooden, it’s badly dubbed in parts, laughably corny in a few places and the effects might be dated, but they still have a charm and the infamous exploding head is as good today as it was back in 1981.

It’s Cronenberg's intense direction, ideas, and use of audio and visuals that make it effective and these basic elements continue to serve him well today, only with bigger budgets and better casts. The films strongest card is Michael Ironside, who makes for a formidable villain, he seems to be channelling a bit of a angry Jack Nicholson in his performance, snarling and chewing scenery as he epitomises pure evil. It's a solid piece of acting in the midst of the b-grade support. He doesn't seem to get the credit he deserves, but he’ll always have fans in the cult film world for his roles in Scanners, Total Recall and the cult sci-fi series V.

It’s not the best of Cronenberg's films, it's not even the best of his early works, but it’s a memorable piece of b-movie history nonetheless and a movie that always comes up in conversations about cult film. 7/10

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Quick Film Review Round-up

Catching up on some of the films I've seen recently;

Raging Phoenix

Firstly, I have to say; I absolutely love Jija Yanin's debut martial arts flick, ‘Chocolate’. It was fresh and original and the unique lead character really gave Jija room to showcase her amazing talents. As soon as I saw this was available, I had to see it! It was good to see her in a film playing a more standard role and how she’d handle it, and I think Jija's got enough charisma to command the screen. She starts out as a regular dysfunctional teen with ‘issues’, and everything seems to be going wrong in her life. When things turn for the worse and she's kidnapped by a gang, she’s fortunately rescued by a skilled martial artist and taken in by a group of drunken, life-loving misfits. These likeable oddballs see her potential and train her.

The first half of the film is pure, quirky fun and the rescue sequence and training montage are highly entertaining. The martial arts used in the film mixes Thai kickboxing, with a kind of hybrid drunken style, hip-hop break dancing, which is really enjoyable to watch. However the film seems to lose its way towards the end and the tone change becomes severely dramatic, yet too ridiculous to take seriously. The main issue for me is Jija doesn't get enough screen time to display her skills, it’s not until the finale where she really gets room to breathe, and it’s a little too late. It’s not really the vehicle for her to truly shine, but it’s fun and does have some moments of flare. 7/10

Natural City

I decided to give this a watch because of all the talk of it being the ‘Korean Blade Runner’. Being a massive fan of Ridley Scott’s futuristic dystopian masterpiece, and with Korea churning out some excellent cinema in recent years, I was pretty excited at the prospect. The influences from Blade Runner are pretty clear; cyborgs living among people, rouge cyborgs rebelling at their short lifespan, and a military cop (or MP) who has fallen in love with a artificial dancer close to expiring. The films focus is the struggle to extend her existence and go against his profession. Visually the film is great for the most part, some nice cinematography and subtle special effects complement some pleasing static shots.

But, the film fails to deliver in the action department. There are some good sequences hidden in there, but the way the action is shot, ruins any impact; too much slow-motion, muffled audio, and clumsy editing that’s trying to be flashy, but doesn't work. The film works better in the quiet scenes, but the pacing is too slow and I didn't really feel any empathy towards the lead characters plight. The acting is solid enough and I don't think the actors are to blame, Ji-tae Yu is good in the lead role (more known for playing the villain in Oldboy). It's just the general direction, pacing and script don’t do the story or actors any justice. 5/10

Ip Man

Biopic about the Chinese icon, who shaped Wing Chun Kung-fu, rebelled against Japanese dictators during World War 2 and later in life (after the credits) went on to train Bruce Lee. The film obviously takes artistic merit with the story and fabricates events for a more entertaining film experience, but it’s more about capturing the essence of the man and his legend. The film looks stunning, with first-rate production values giving the film a rich vibrancy, but the film never becomes overly grand, telling its marvellous tale in a rather quiet, intimate manner and I think this reflects the kind, gentleman character of Ip Man brilliantly.

The drama balances the action perfectly and Donnie Yen’s charm and effortless authority lights the screen on fire. The action really is outstanding, with choreography by legend Sammo Hung, one particular scene where Ip takes on a group of Japanese martial artists is breathtaking and you believe every limb snapping brutal moment of it. The Chinese Kung Fu versus Japanese Karate is a sight to behold. Absolutely captivating! 9/10

Dance of the Dead

‘Zom-Com’ involving a high school prom night. I know this is supposed to be a harmless, cheap and cheerful little flick, but I found it lacked the fun and charm that made films like ‘Brain Dead’ and ‘Shaun of the Dead’ good movies. It’s more like Idle Hands, which on a recent re-watch I also found lacking. Overall tiresome and I can’t think of anything to be complimentary about. It’s got some pretty good ideas that could have been the ingredients for a entertaining ride, but doesn't deliver them effectively enough. 4/10