Sunday 13 November 2016

The RoboCop of Elephants

I don't know if you know this, but they're equipping elephants that were injured in the line of duty with advanced, 21st Century prostheses.

Okay, well that's partially true. The elephants were injured in the line of the duty of being an elephant, which is mostly just wandering around doing elephant shit. By which I mean the shit that elephants do in their day to day lives, as opposed to the shits that they do in their day to day lives. It is actually both, though. The shits are encompassed within the shit.

The power of English!

Anyway, it's pretty much all we should be asking of these guys. The shit and the shits. That and they don't do any of the aforementioned on the people furniture, but you want to be polite about that. Don't antagonise an elephant. That's some life advice.

Write it down.

So, in an attempt to stamp out crime they've now pushed these cyborg elephants into patrolling the streets, essentially making them the 'RoboCop of elephants'.

Here is an artist's rendition:

Okay, not an actual artist. It was me. I photoshopped that. It's the same picture from the top, but zoomed in and tilted a little. Did you notice? I'm not going to do two. Maybe I will, because I also potatoshopped this:

That's his partner. It's a potato. They're a team.

Okay, not all of what I am telling you is true, but you know what? You are not the boss of me. You're not my mum or dad. Well, one of you is my mum and dad. Two separate ones. Not the same one. Probably. I'm pretty sure my mum and dad still read these (Hi guys!).

But you know what else? They aren't even the boss of me either. I'm a fully grown arse adult. I mean, my arse might do some more growing. Summer is coming, and that is my favourite season to 'not ever go outside' as much as possible. I hate the sun, along with a lot of the other outside things.

I've totally lost my train of thought now.

Look, here is a video that will probably clarify those truthful bits of what I've been saying, and what is wild speculation.

It would be fair to say that my version was more spectacular. It's the Hollywood version. The Bollywood version would have a huge dance number.

Huge from the size of the elephants, not the number of elephants. We can only have four, because of the budget.

Saturday 14 May 2016

The Dendy Newtown is playing Studio Ghibli's Only Yesterday

The Dendy Cinema at Newtown, being the sort of place that it is, is currently showing Studio Ghibli's Only Yesterday, which is a good one to be able to see.

I'm biased, I love the Studio, and I love the different directors who rock and roll therein. Only Yesterday is sort of strange in the line up. It's the one (next to probably Ocean Waves) that's been east available here in Australia.

I can't back that claim with real information, but it feels that way. It's rarely including in the film festivals, it doesn't get its own individual screenings (until now), and it was the least frequently stocked, even when everyone started stocking 'all' the Ghibli films.

The assumptions I've made as the causes of this are that it's a non-fantastical drama, it wasn't dubbed into English until recently, and probably mostly because it isn't a Hayao Miyazaki Ghibli film.

These don't at all influence the quality of the film. It's very good. I enjoy it greatly. But it does make it harder to market than a lot of the others that have been made available. It is also the sort of film that they didn't need to make as an animated film. It might've been cheaper to go live action in fact. Maybe not. There is some 1960s' stuff in there that might've made it hard, but it's definitely not your standard fare. Well, there is more this sort of thing now, but still not piles of it. Maybe there is literally piles of it somewhere. I don't know where that is. I don't get to see it.

It was directed by Isao Takahata, who is responsible for Pom Poko, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, and the incredible and totally heartbreaking Grave of the Fireflies. Takahata is, to me, one of those directors that you turn up for, and to that point I'm not going to tell you much about Only Yesterday, except that it was written for, targeted at, and incredibly well received by adults.

It wasn't one of the Ghibli films that I saw before adulthood, so I can't tell you what a child might think of it, but there things in it that make sense when you have a childhood to look back on. It also probably helps if you grew up in the country, and then lived in the city later, but I can't comment to that, because it wasn't my life. Didn't impact my appreciation of the film. I love it, but I love all the Ghibli drama stuff.

If you're interested in heading out to see it, the times and days through May that I'm aware of are listed below:

Saturday, 14th
2:15pm   |   6:40pm

Sunday, 15th
2:10pm   |   7:00pm

Monday, 16th
2:15pm   |   7:00pm

Tuesday, 17th
2:15pm   |   7:00pm

Wednesday, 18th
2:15pm   |   7:00pm

Pick one. Go and see it. It's very highly regarded for a very good reason. Sheep up, people! Get on the bandwagon!

Sunday 1 May 2016

Not Blade Runner Trivia

Blade Runner

As a Blade Runner fan who talks about their affection for Blade Runner in the public arena, I am subject to people telling me Blade Runner trivia in order to gauge the limits of the information I have consumed about the film.

This is fun. I enjoy this. Sometimes there are things that other people have to share that are interesting, unknown to me, and actually true. It is a thing of joy.

The interesting part is a given, because it is about Blade Runner. That is causation. The unknown thing is less common, because I'm across it more than most people. This doesn't bother me. I really like talking about my favourite film. You had me at 'Bl'.

Actually, there are probably a lot of films that start with 'bl'. 'Blade' is probably also not enough, because, you know, Blade and the other ones of those that they made.

You had me at Blade Runner.

The last one is a bit of a weird one, because it isn't something that I can often verify while I'm standing there talking to you while you tell me these things. Sometimes, I know enough about what you're talking about to make a judgement call, but more often than not I will go and investigate it in the afterwards time.

However, there are some quite common bits of Blade Runner 'trivia' that are not in fact trivia. And they're super common. They get told to me a lot. And they all sort of come from a similar place, and concern the source materials of the film.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?The first that I'm going to do you for is some combination of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (the book on which the film is based) being: A short story; having not enough of a plot to make into a film; and having only a very vague relation to the film.

The novel (which it is) is 244 pages, and the plot of the film is an abridged version of one side of the narrative of the book. Even without touching on the whole digital Jesus preserved as an MMO plot, there are still a great number of major plot elements that happen in the sanctioned android bounty hunter plot that the film simply doesn't have time for.

If you really break down the film, there isn't a lot of plot. A great majority of the film is exposition stacked side by side as they wind through the climax of a much longer story that took place before the film even started. If Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was much emptier than that, Deckard would get some noodles with Batty who'd explain everything that happened prior to their White Dragon dinner date before Deckard shoots him over who gets the last giant, mutant prawn.

The next one is that the title, Blade Runner, is taken from William Gibson's Neuromancer. It isn't. It doesn't even appear in the book. You wan't a citation? How about, on page never the term 'blade runner' appears zero times in quick succession. Fuck you! Never mind that the book was first published in 1984, two years after the film was first released in cinemas. Yeah!

Before I explain where it actually came from, I'm going to put up my last bit of anti-trivia for this session, because I'm going to kill two synthetic birds with one electric stone.

William S. Burroughs, being the other great literary William in my life, did not write the first draft of the script for Blade Runner. I'm not going to lie, I've been so excited by that nugget in the past that I think I've actually promoted it in words on the internet. It might be out there right now. I'm not looking. Admitting failure is one thing, googling it is another.

This didn't happen.

You ready for that stone.

The Bladerunner
It is well documented that the title was licensed from a treatment called Blade Runner (later published as Blade Runner (a movie), which was written by the above mentioned William S. Burroughs, but instead of being based on Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? it's based on The Bladerunner by Alan E. Nourse, which is about a medical black marketeer, and was written in 1974. This is noted within the credits of the actual film!

Boom! Birds murdered!

I recommend Nourse's The Bladerunner and Burroughs' Blade Runner, but they're very much in my wheelhouse.

Look at that cover over there. It's fucking beautiful.

I don't hate when people tell me this stuff, but I hate when they argue relentlessly citing non-primary sources. Don't tell me the contents of a book you've never read, when I've read it a dozen times. Don't do that. At that stage I don't really care what your source is. I've read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I know full well what lies therein. You want to tell me about different contextual readings that you've read about without having read the actual book? Let's do that. That is interesting. I'm down.

The first person to tell me about watching Alien 3: The Assembly Cut within a feminist context had never seen any of the Alien films, and you know what, it's a game changer.

Monday 25 April 2016

Why I love Blade Runner: The Bastion

The Final Cut is the one they did in 2007, for the 25th anniversary of the film, and it is exquisite. It is the way I have always remembered the film when I'm not watching it. That's what they've done. They've cleaned it up. The dialogue syncs with the video, you can't see the stunt doubles' faces, the flying cars aren't on wires, and you can't see off the side of the set in the closing scenes on the rooftop.

It's got all that unicorn stuff that a lot of people don't like, but Deckard was always a replicant to me. Nothing to do with the unicorn, or the glowing eyes. It's just a better story.

Whenever they need one, they unwrap one of these Deckard replicants, install the original Deckard's memories, and then let him go out and get Chinese food, so that they can go and ask him to come back for 'just one more job'. Maybe they let him do more than that. Maybe he has a shower. Who knows? Then they give him a gun, and send him out to kill replicants who weren't engineered to think that they're human. They're basically monstrous, terrifying children. Petulant teenagers who can lift a full grown adult up with one arm.

He could've died at any point in that film, and I assume they'd just send out another one. I'm fairly certain that there's only one in the film, but hypothetically, they could. If he had died, it would've cheapened his role in the grand drama, and it is. That. A grand drama. For Deckard, Roy, Pris, Leon, Zhora, Rachel, and Tyrell (who is also a replicant) this whole story is life and death. It's huge for them. It's completely defining. But they're just playing roles in a game.

Making J.F. Sebastian one of the only humans that gets caught up in this whole thing (him, Holden, and Hannibal Chew), and the only one we really get to know, and everything that we see of him gives us insight into the kind of person that he is. Everything. The grubby workers overalls with precision tools in the front pocket that he wears. Speech, facial expressions, and body language that all move forward in moments, giving us piecemeal thoughts and actions. An apartment that is cluttered and untidy in two rooms, while the rest is in a state of near complete dilapidation. His friends consist of incomplete people, dummies, and children, with the only two that seem to be of any great complexity being a caricature and a teddy bear who're dressed in military getup.

Sebastian is the only one of the humans who're killed that we get to know, and they make a point of showing us that he is essentially alone. I mean, he's not. He's not. He has friends. He has his friends. The friends that he made. The friends that he genetically engineered. It's important to understand that. They're alive. They're living things.

J.F. Sebastian may be only tangentially associated with society, but he's not alone. That's what they're showing us.

He's surrounded by these living things, and the last time that they see him is when he leaves with Roy to see Tyrell.

How complex are their minds? How complex is their understanding of the world? It's stated in the film that Tyrell designs the minds of the Nexus models, but what are the extent of J.F. Sebastian's talents in the area? Their not complex enough not to walk into walls, but definitely complex enough to be wary of Roy and Pris where Sebastian is not. Not enough to look past the gift of human interaction.

So, these replicants play out their grand opera. Their lives and existences are defined, and their epic roles are cast in high melodrama, and in their wake they've destroyed something that was a kind of beautiful, and in reality, there isn't anyone left to give a shit. Not really. It's terrifying, and it's tragic, and it's straight up fucking beautiful.

Then you never see the teddy bear again after Roy and Sebastian go to see Tyrell. Did he understand enough of what was going on that Pris had to kill him? Was she worried that he might warn someone who came by? Did she coax the bear away from JF's other friends and crush the life out of him as a precaution? Did this all happen when we weren't looking?

I'm telling you now that I can't deal with that. That bit's too much for me. It can be argued that you can hear him greeting Deckard when he arrives, but you just don't see him, and that's enough for me. I argue that point, because the image of Pris at her most violently predatory towards this sentient teddy bear who only at the last moment might understand what is happening is too much for me.

But either way, the replicants still go on with what little's left of their lives, and the city rolls on. The Blade Runner unit gets out another Deckard when they need it, and the Tyrell Corporation gets out another Rachel and another Tyrell.

But next time it plays out this funny little guy who built himself his own little bastion from the decaying world around him and populated it with the things in his own mind won't be there, but the friends he left behind will be. Will they always wonder what happened to him? Do they continue to expect him home at any moment? Are they sad? Do they miss him?

It makes me cry every fucking time, because it should.

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Wonder Woman: Dawn of Justice

I wanted to say a whole seperate thing about Dawn of Justice's Wonder Woman, because she's not in the title of the film, and really the only reason she isn't there is because it's been so long since she's been really clear in the public consciousness.

But when she turns up in the costume and her new theme booms through the cinema you're pretty certain that she needs her own film.

Outside of the comics she's mostly been an ensemble player since her TV series ended in 1979. Then for years it was Super Friends, then all those Justice Leagues that they've had, of which Super Friends is also one. There was the animated Wonder Woman, which despite being both critically and financially successful compared to other animated DC films is still fairly obscure.

But, I could go on about how much I really like all of the animated depictions of Wonder Woman until the cows come how, but I don't have cows anymore, and even when I did, they were steers. And they never really wandered far enough away that we really worried about whether or not they were home. But I could happily, because there's some pretty wild stuff in that rabbit hole.

Like so many other DC characters, Wonder Woman's public image sort of suffered at the hands of previous mainstream depictions. They weren't necessarily bad when it was that they were happening, except for Super Friends, which apart from that one half of every episode for that one season was more or less entirely terrible all of the time, but those other ones, they didn't age well.

Linda Carter was great, but the decades have flown by in their invisible jet, and she just sort of looks silly, but they all do. Less silly than Adam West, but probably about as silly as Christopher Reeves, except in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace where everybody looks incredibly silly.

I am way off mission here.

This new Wonder Woman is the Wonder Woman that I think she is meant to have been. They've gone back to the mythology. Imagine a more serious take on a cross between Highlander, Athena, James Bond, and Xena: Warrior Princess, which now that I'm saying it sounds really silly, but just try and imagine that, but with a really serious face.

That's what's happening. It's fucking weird if you think about it too hard. But that's who she's always been really. I mean tonally, no. No. DC are bad this, I've said so before, but this is good.

I've spoiled shit already. If you go back over what I've just said, I've spoiled stuff, but that isn't really important. What is important is that this new Wonder Woman is an Amazonian super spy, who's come to wreck shop.

That's her thing. It's one of her things. She has lots of things.

The lasso is there, and the braces, but she's also got a sword and shield, which makes sense as a great Amazonian warrior. The invisible jet is gone. I mean, I assume so. I didn't see it. That was terrible. I won't do that again.

Yes, I will.

Wonder Woman really drives home why as a DC Comics fan I really, really enjoyed Dawn of Justice. There are some weaknesses in the film as a film, but I don't rally care, because there were a lot of things in it that I really enjoyed, and of which I want more, and I want more of Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, which I will get in 2017's Wonder Woman.

We all understand the rush that was put on this movie. We know that it was just going to be the sequel to the last one they made, but with the title fight spin, but they were adamant that they would get their Avengers out of the gate, and I feel like they forced themselves to cover a ton of ground that they perhaps didn't need to, but the Wonder Woman stuff is good. Excited for the future of the franchise good.

Excited that she might spend more time in the foreground of the popular consciousness.

Sunday 10 April 2016

Wolf Children

I was nursing a fairly deep suspicion that the intent to get round to Mamoru Hosoda's Wolfn Children would be a thing that happened way down the line, but here we are. I found the time to get it watched again, and now you can have it. It's done.

The review is done. The film has been done for a while, and available for having for the good majority of that time.

We're a little down the line here, but not as far as I imagined.

Anyway, in much the same way that The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is very much about a girl who leapt through time, Wolf Children is about wolf children. Well, they're part wolf. Wolfier than me at that age. Probably wolfier than most of us.

This one is sort of urban fantasy in a way. Which is sort of a misnomer in this instance, as it isn't really an urban setting. I mean, it starts urban. Like, super urban. Totally not really the point though.

Mamoru Hosoda tells these stories that are the invisible things that are happening in our own world. Mythology in the background noise. We don't notice because we're busy with our own lives, but he brings us up to speed. That is very much what's happening in Wolf Children.

Like, you're buying groceries and swiping right, and that lady down the hall/balcony thing is raising actual wolf children.

It feels real world. It feels like a fantasy story set deep in our real world. The details make it work out like that.

I don't really want to give any of the plot points away, so I'll only say that it's about a family in which the children (of which there are two) have some wolf heritage. Being about a family there are happy things, and there are sad things. That's what happens in families. That's what happens in life.

It's got a lot of life in it. They cover a lot of ground. The story is really about the mum, and told mostly from her point of view, but narrated by the daughter. But it's about her acquisition of, and subsequent early life with the titular wolf children.

When I say, 'acquisition of', I'm not suggesting that she poached them or anything of that ilk. She gets them in the traditional way that people get children.

The whole thing is beautifully told. And animated. I like that. I tend to watch a lot of animation, and I like it when it's beautiful.

This beautiful animation of which I speak is reminiscent of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, but you'll get that. They're both a mix of traditional and CG, but you don't really notice the latter. I mean, if you're looking for it, you'll see it. There's a bit where they're turning crops out of the soil, and the soil is CG, but it's that sort of CG where they've covered it in hand painted textures, which I quite like as a thing.

Also like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, the details and crispness of the animation tend to wax and wane, but Hosoda knows what he's doing here. The moments are chosen well. You don't need the details when they're gone, and the fluctuating crispness is clearly a stylistic choice. These are common traits in anime (and manga), but he handles it differently. You can pick his stuff when you see it.

At the end of the day, I highly recommend Wolf Children. I think it's one of those films that everyone should see. You aren't all going to love it, but it's the sort of film they'd make live action and people would love if it was pulled off well.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Batman vs Superman Review: Geek Free and Spoiler Free

It's awesome.

Wait, from the outset, I must make clear that I'm bringing bias to this table. That's a disclaimer.

I'm coming in prepared to like this movie. I'm died in the wool. DC is my jam, and it's my toast time. But it's also worth mentioning that I went in prepared to like a lot of DC Comics movies that I can't like. Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps are the only two comic titles that I've read pretty regularly since I finished high school, and The Green Lantern is easily one of the worst superhero movies that they've ever made.

Batman vs Superman is not that. It is a good film, and a lot of people are saying that it isn't, but it really is. I have my theories on why people don't like ti, but that's them. They can speak for themselves. I'm more than happy for people to say stupid things for themselves, and be as wrong as they feel like being. They're the ones without jam on toast in this scenario, while I fatten up at the breakfast table.

There is an elegant dance at play here, because it feels like there are two films playing at the same time. It feels like there is a very distant sequel to The Dark Knight Rises and another very direct sequel to Man of Steel interwoven into one film, which is sort of a strange thing to say, because neither of those films are particularly good. Well, they aren't good.

I don't like either of those films. Not for a lot of the very public reasons that people make funny comments about. They're just tedious as films. The Dark Knight Rises is ridiculously slow and painfully off message from the source material, and Man of Steel just says what it wants to say clumsily and then spends most of the latter half of the film forgetting that it had anything to say.

I'm just expressing that that is where it's at tonally. This film is a good DC Comics film. It feels like it is on the right path. When you watch it you are watching a film about threat, and war, and fear.

It's not funny. It doesn't need to be funny. It's not a Marvel film, and I don't think it should be. DC has characters like that, that you'll see later. This isn't those guys. But those guys are coming.

This is a Batman and a Superman who've seen some things, and more importantly, they've done some things. Things that have warped them. Changed their perspective.

The Batman that is in this movie, and the Batman that is being played by Ben Affleck is good. Like, really, really good. Like, maybe the best. Maybe. Depending on how you like your Batmen, this might be the best one that they've ever had. I really like this Batman. This Batman is a veteran of the war he has waged. He is a paranoid, violent, shattered man, who somehow constantly finds it in himself to keep going, and it's taken a toll.

I'm telling you right now I want to see Batfleck play this Batman in solo Batman movies. I would watch a prequel. An earlier version of this Batman where we see him get get broken. I would watch that. I would also watch sequels. I just want more of this Batman.

This is 1930s' Batman and 1980s' Batman. That's who this guy is. He is The Dark Knight. He pushes Christian Bale down the scale towards Adam West. He is the night.

And you know what? He is an even better Bruce Wayne.

You still recognise him though, and they do a very good job of making you understand the differences, but it's okay because you know who Batman is. We all do.

The Superman on the other hand is the same one that was in Man of Steel, but now he carries the weight of everything that happened there on his shoulders. In a lot of ways, it justifies a lot of what went on in Man of Steel, and it does it in a way that makes sense of all, but it doesn't make up for the clumsiness of the delivery in the that film.

You don't need to have see Man of Steel though. They cover all the salient points pretty well. In the same way that you are well aware of the Batmen, you are also knowing of these Supermen of which I speak. You know that. They assume that, and I'm glad that they do. Then they show the bits from the first film from the perspective of others, because it drives this plot.

And there is a plot, but it is sort of incidental, but it still works. Sort of. But it doesn't matter.

At the end of the day the film is about these titans who find a way to make war, and the films is about how we're getting to the Justice League, and it's doing that. It's getting to DC's Avengers. And I make that comparison only because it's about their hero club, but they role pretty differently.

Oh, and how good is Wonder Woman? I will let you know.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Inclusionary Tactics

I tend to geek out in an obsessive and gleeful sort of way. I've been known to wriggle, squeal, and make databases when expressing my love for something. I'm like Sooty with SQL.

These are observable behaviours.

Beyond the non-verbal vocalisations, and data entry, is another equally observable behaviour. I like sharing the things that I love with the people I love, like, know, meet, and/or of which I am in the immediate vicinity. Some might say 'aggressively so', and indeed some have said that. To my face. It's real! Let me share my things that I love with you.

All I need is your face, and the things that are on it! Your face bits!

I play a game and I want my friends to also love this game (I suppose sometimes I need hands too for these activities). I watch a show and I want my friends to eat fish fingers and custard with me while watching the show. I watch a movie and I see it with as many people as are interested in going even if it means that I have to see Guardians of the Galaxy a cool fourteen times on the big screen.

So cool.

So very, very cool.

When I love a superhero/video game/comic/movie/book/show/album/musical/teddy bear/documentary and I can take something away from our time together that I find joyous or meaningful, I want to be able to 'psychologically motivate' my friends to participate in this thing so that they might also experience that joy or meaning. That seems like an important thing to me. It makes sense in my brain.

In my brain it is a really deep sort of love and affection. Remember this when you have things pressed against your face.

What doesn't make sense in my brain is the idea that anyone should be made to feel excluded by the things that joy me up in my face. And butt. That's where my wriggling starts. Right down in the butt.

Why wouldn't I want everyone to have equal opportunity to feel represented, empowered, and inspired by the mediums that mean so much to so many of us? That seems dumb.

I'm not saying everyone should like everything, because that's unwieldy. It's the kind of idea that breaks things. It's clumsy. I'm saying that everyone should have the opportunity to love everything.

There should be some variety of fair representation within a medium and genre and the services that deliver them to our face receptors. And, I suppose, hand receptors.

Call it a campaign of selfishness, and you can, but just because someone wants something that someone else doesn't think they should have, it doesn't mean that they shouldn't get it.

This is topic du jour, and I'm not contributing anything groundbreaking here. All and all, this is mundane in its passivity, but these are my words on the thing.

I think we should all have a Nightwing. He changed my life. I'm not even kidding. He did that! From his pages! Nightwing is the real hero in the entire Batman franchise. For me. The rest of them are tragic figures. It's bananas gothic up in Gotham.

And Barbara Gordon. She is also my hero. She's fucking awesome.

From the honest places of my self, it frightens me to think of the lives of others without the refuges and representation that I had just because of who I already was when I was born. I feel like it helped me.  I really do.

There should be enough variety so that we can all have a Nightwing (or Barbara Gordon), and we should all feel welcome there. We should all feel welcome in all the Leagues and Squads and teams and Tardises (Tardii? Tardims? Tarda?) and servers. All the servers!

Because I want you all there!

Sunday 13 March 2016

How I became excited for 'Batman v Superman'

I've made no bones about my preference of comic kingdoms. I'm DC. That's where my happiness lives. I am that guy. That's how I get down, and I like to get down!

I've made this complaint before. I've said it before. I've said that the major DC characters are so deeply woven into the modern consciousness that 'we know what a Superman is and how they get down', and he also likes to get down.

We all like to get down.

We also know what a Batman is. We know these things. DC characters run deep in the modern vernacular. I never have to sit in DC superhero films and explain who characters are to my friends. That doesn't happen.

Okay, sometimes it happens. Not often though. Not like Marvel. Don't get me wrong, Marvel has its A-listers too, but Superman and Batman? No, they don't have those. They don't have Wonder Woman, or The Flash, or Aquaman.

DC's problem when it comes down to it is one of recognition. What they seemingly consistently fail to realise is that their stories are the best part. Like, balls to the wall awesomeness told in sequential art.

Marvel trades in awesome characters. I can't deny that. They're so much fun, and they're characterised deep, and when they're done poorly you can really tell. 

Whereas DC are sewing the tapestries of our modern mythology. There is an ebb and flow in the characters, but their roles in the mythos are known and important. Their stories and their roles within those stories are what's important.

I'm not off topic, it just seems that way.

Doomsday is in the trailer.

Doomsday has a very specific role in the mythology. He killed Superman. He kills Superman. He will kill Superman. He is killing him right now, and he will always be killing him. That's who Doomsday is. 

He is the guy that killed Superman more than he is his own identity. Doomsday is the point of no return for the beginning of The Death and Return of Superman, which leads into so many other things.

Why this is important is that The Death and Return of Superman is perhaps one of the greatest comic story arcs ever written, but it won't be a part of this new film continuity, because it really doesn't look like they're killing Superman in the opening film. Also, The Death and Return of Superman isn't really, really a Justice League story.

I was at a point where I already felt the same way about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as I do about The Dark Knight Rises and that horrible Green Lantern film, which totally undercut the possibility of far superior stories being told as part of their continuity, Knightfall and Emerald Twilight respectively.

I was disappointed.

Until I heard that The Flash does something very specific in the film that is his role in the mythology. There is this thing that The Flash is responsible for. This really important thing that makes him one of the most important characters in the entirety of all of the comics that have ever been published by DC. I'm not even going to go into it here. That isn't going to happen.

Watch the movie.

I think we should all see it.

I'm ridiculously pumped for this thing, and all the things that they make after! Come at me with all of your things!

Monday 22 February 2016

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

(時をかける少女 Toki o Kakeru Shōjo)

As I sit here rewatching The Girl Who Leapt Through Time for the bagullionth time, I find myself pondering yet again, 'Why haven't I ever talked about this on United by Glue?'

There isn't a good reason, and most of the actual reason is that my experience of it predates the blog, which as far as reasons go isn't really a good reason. It's bad.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is very good. Very, very good. It is a very good anime film that I think a lot of people have seen, but probably more should have seen. And should see it have they not.

Unlike Summer Wars (which is a comparison that will make more sense in a few paragraphs time), The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is exactly what it says it is. That's what it's about.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Falling Through Time

See the picture? I mean she looks a lot like she's falling right there, but you're going to have to take my word for it.

I'm going to be straight with you. She is falling right there in the picture. She leaps and then she falls. She is also god awful at landings. Leap, fall, crash. That's the process.

Regardless, it's not a poetic way of talking about having to suddenly grow up or anything like, which is what I thought it might be before I saw it. It might be somewhere, but not here. Here it is pretty literal.

What it is is a sort of science fiction, high school, comedy about friendship, and romance, and bullying, and family, academia, and some baseball too I guess. There's also some pudding that gets a lot of play too. That drew me in. I love pudding. There is a bit where she time travels so that she can re-eat the pudding. That's when it got super real for me.

I'd do that.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time having lunch

That picture is not the pudding scene, but I didn't get a picture when I was watching it, so I just put one in with some juice. I think it's juice. Unlike the pudding it is more of a bit part foodstuff.

Really, really, and as is so often the case these days, the science fiction elements aren't really there to serve themselves, but to serve the other elements of the story, which is good, because it is essentially all those other things that make the story.

In a really sort of, but kind of of not really at all way it is sort of, but kind of not really like a more positive Doniie Darko. But not really. But also sort of. Things are definitely more straight forward than Donnie Darko. They explain pretty much everything. Nearly everything.

Look, it's not at all like Donnie Darko. I don't know why I brought it up.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time with her friends
The characters are all the archetypes that you sort of expect in a high school anything sort of story, but it is all very charmingly told, and the situation is pretty different to what you might've seen before in other things.

The dude, if there was to be only one, who is behind this is Mamoru Hosoda, who has made a bit of a name for himself of late with his high quality, charming adventures into invisible elements of the real world is also responsible for Summer Wars, which I have spoken about here at The Glue, and Wolf Children, which I definitely will. He also has The Boy and The Beast which is on the horizon, but might have crested it.

I should check.

Yeah, no, it's still on the approach.

But... ah.... hey, look out for that. It's probably going to be pretty darn good. In the meantime though, go and have a look at The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, because it's good. Pretty darn good.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time getting dinked
There is also a book from all the way back in 1967, which has been adapted some 10 times, but this film is a sequel of sorts, because it's also still an adaptation of the original book while at the same time being a sequel. Because who said they can't do that? Not me. They've done it. It's too late now. if you did have a problem, there's nothing you can do. You could write a letter.

If you are interested in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, which you should be, you can get it in all the regular places that one gets these sorts of things. I mean, Madman and iTumes are where I tend to get this sort of thing, so you can go there I suppose.

I'll try and get that Wolf Children review out sometime soon for you too. I think a lot of people will like that one too. I'll put links here somewhere when it happens.

Saturday 20 February 2016

Yet Another Astro Boy

Astro Boy Reboot
I grew up on Astro Boy, and my mum sort of grew up on Astro boy too. But different ones. This is because they keep making them. I've said before that they keep wheeling the little guy out to see how the new generation will take him every couple of decades or so, and that is an apt assessment of the way it's been handled.

Anyway. They made it again in 2003, and Astro Boy, in its third go round, is a well animated, science fiction, adventure cartoon. It's much of the same sort of thing as both the 1963 and 1980 cartoons. It's Astro Boy. Like, proper Astro Boy. Not like that 2009 3D, CGI movie that is not Astro Boy. It isn't. It feels wrong.

Have you seen it?


That's mean. It tried to be Astro Boy, bless its little rocket socks. It put on the underpants and it went flying high in the sky, and all that jazz, but it just didn't really get there. To the Astro Boy place. It got to the sky. I mean, I think it did. Where does the sky start?

Anyway, the one that is is because it's got most of the old stuff from the first two series with some more focussed storytelling in the major story arcs, and a more deliberately dark tone.

I say that it's more deliberate, because both the preceding series are pretty dark. There was a lot of death, and Astro frequently came out the other side of an episode feeling like no one really won. But they were also more playful and optimistic than the new series. Call it seesawing. Call it tonal diversity. Either way, the new one is more consistent in what it wants to be (unless you watch it in Japanese, in which case it still is, only less so).

It's also slicker. That's probably its main selling point over the other two. It's a slick 50 episode action-adventure cartoon with prejudice, robots, and all that atomic age Pinocchio guff that we get out of bed for.

It's a good thing they did this. Plugging the little, robot guy back in and polishing him up every 20 years or so for another go round is going to be how we mark the generations in eras to come. He's good for us with all his butt machine guns and finger lasers.

Oh, B-T-dubs, did I mention that they're making a new one?

Yeah, that's what that whole Astro Boy Reboot thing was at the top of the post. Did you think that the thing I was just talking about was the reboot? No, that is not the case.

Anyhoo, apparently, someone didn't get the memo, and they're getting him out o' the drawer (P.S. punned the hell out of that) sooner than they meant to. I mean, he's not due for another 7 years, and they go and do this:

Now, there is a lot of implication that my little buddy, Astro, be living it up in some sort of digital environment, where he himself may be a a digital thing, or an avatar of the more modern vernacular.

And, I'm not saying I don't want this, because I do. I want all the Astro Boys. Except the one that I mentioned not wanting earlier. That, I don't want.

But, I guess I'm concerned at the direction they're taking, and I don't really understand yet if they're wheeling out a new Astro Boy or whether they're just wheeling out the brand for a thing that isn't really Astro Boy.

This may or may not be a thing that I want. I mean, perhaps they're trying to appeal to a modern audience with all them computers, and gigabytes, and the like, but robots are just around the corner. They're soon, but not yet.

Does their lack of immediacy make them unappealing to children? I mean robots were nowhere in sight when I was one of those, but they appealed the shit out of me.

Still do.

Regardless, it looks pretty, and I'll probably be watching it.

Astro Boy Reboot Cityscape

Thursday 18 February 2016


If you know what Akira is then you might be wondering 'more what?'

More of the already epic 2000+ page manga that was written and illustrated by one guy? No, his hands still haven't recovered since the mid-nineties.

Are they making a followup film that abridges the second half of the manga similar to what the first film did for the first half? No. That isn't happening either.

Am I talking about the live action version that has spent more time on production hiatus than than Duke Nukem Forever?

I am not.

What I am talking about is that at a recent comic festival in France, Katsuhiro Otomo (who is the dude that is the one that made it) said after being asked about the future of Akira that they were considering an anime television series.

Now the question was asked in French and then answered in Japanese, so there might be some translation issues all up and in this.

Also, worth noting that we didn't clarify who 'they' were. There was also no real discussion of who would be making it, how long it would run, how faithful or thorough it would be, or when it might happen, because the whole statement is just up there in that other paragraph.

But, look, hey! Let's get a little excited. Akira!

Akira is an interesting duck. The role it played in popularising anime in the western consciousness is unparalleled. If you speak English and you enjoy anime as anime, then this was the catalyst for the culture that exists today that lets that happen.

Anime was popular before Akira, but it was popular as children's television. Shows like the Astro Boys, RobotechStarblazers, and so many others played a similar role in western culture before Akira as things like Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon did after it.

There were also anime films that were available and watched prior to Akira. That happened. I'm not saying that that isn't a thing. It is.

Also, when I say 'Western', I specially mean 'English Speaking' because I'm a small minded, anglocentric cultural invader. I've said so before. The French and Italians were onto all this sooner. Germans too maybe. Who knows? They probably know. Some of them.

But Akira, or really it should be AKIRA, for us in the English speaking world was our first real 'look at this shit they're making in Japan' moment. And we did. Look. It was incredible. I mean it still is incredible. If you watch it now, it's still visually stunning.

Even on VHS it was stunning. Sound, visuals, everything.

AKIRA still stands as an example of something that live action just couldn't do. I mean, it probably can now, but when you look at it, and the beauty of animation, would you want it too.

I don't. I just don't want that. It's so beautiful. Such an exquisite thing.

I only hope that this anime series that is under consideration is as beautiful. I mean, could it be? Could they just take the film as a base and make more of it?

Not really, because the film doesn't follow the plot. Some scenes are amalgams of ones from the manga. Some are brand new shortcuts to get the plot done in 2 hours.

You could take some of it, but more what I'm wondering is if the film will act as a template for the series in terms of the way it looks. That's what I want.

It should be what we all want.

Friday 12 February 2016

Deadpool is really Deadpooly

So, I saw me some Deadpool, and I think its good. Really good. It is the Citizen Kane of faithfulness to the spirit of its source material, which, granted, is a very specific sort of Citizen Kane, but it's pretty awesome in that regard.

Some of you may remember the last time that Ryan Reynolds sort of played Deadpool, but didn't really, in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He played Wade Wilson, who is Deadpool, but someone else played him when he was actually being Deadpool, but then they never called him Deadpool, and he didn't act like Deadpool, and wasn't really Deadpool, so you could be forgiven for missing that whole thing. Probably congratulated too. It was terrible.

This time around Ryan Reynolds basically just plays himself the whole time, which is more or less just Deadpool. Kind of like that time Tom Cruise played the totally narcissistic vampire who preys on people like cattle in Interview with a Vampire.

Deadpool isn't just a little self aware, it trades deep on the current value of the cultural currency of comic book films. It also references the shit out of a ton of other stuff. There is something in there for everyone. Even superhero penises, for those of you who've been hanging out since The Watchmen.

It's also very violent, and very funny (but probably not for everyone), and it has a lot of little rewards in it for people who like comic books, and like the films that are based on comic books. You probably don't even need to like comic books that much. Of the people that I saw it with, only two of us seemed to have more than a passing understanding of who Deadpool is, and I don't know that you need more than that.

Even the X-Men that appear in the film, few as they may be, which is two, which is very few considering how many of those guys there are, are fucking beautiful to behold. I already prefer these guys to the ones in the other films.

Colossus not only gets the most screen time he's ever had, but he also gets the most faithful and engaging portrayal yet.

And Negasonic Teenage Warhead! Sweet mother of Lucifer! While being nothing like her comic book appearances, she's un-fricken-believably awesome! I hope they keep her around.

Their appearance and really heavy characterisation bodes well for all the X-Men films, which have been sort of all over the place, but mostly humdrum, which this film is not.

This is the first time I've watched an X-Men film and not thought that I would be more likely to recommend the 1990s' X-Men The Animated Series. You shouldn't really think of it as an X-Men film though. It doesn't really feel like one. Not like the other ones they've made.

You should probably see this movie. Take a gander. You might like it.


Sunday 31 January 2016

Having trouble with Panda's comic on mobiles?

It has been brought to my attention that some people are having trouble getting the comic to load in a readable resolution on their smartphones, and I'm fairly certain that I've found the root cause of the problem.

After a little QA here at United by Glue I think we've narrowed the problem down to the mobile version of the site which appears to bit-crush the life out of images making text indecipherable.

Is there a way around this?

Yes, there is. Tapping on the image opens it in a new window, where it is not only displayed at its full resolution, but it's all easy to zoom in and scroll the image.

Alternatively, you can scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on ' View web version', which takes a little longer, and makes the site hard to navigate on small screens, so probably don't do that.

I am trying to find the time to sit down and fix the problem in the mobile version of the site, but I don't have a heap of spare time in which I'm not tired right now, but when it does happen, I will most definitely let you all know.

Until then, I hope I've made reading Panda Rhu on the go just a little easier.

Thursday 21 January 2016

DreamWeb vs Metrocide: The Illicit Dreams of Adolescence

I made a recent return to Metrocide that reminded me of things that I had left half said the first time around. I originally had a bit about a game called DreamWeb in it, but I cut it out so that I could expand on it here instead of leaving something half said.

The story goes sort of like this:

There are certain key-phrases, attributes of the setting, and elements of presentation in Metrocide that reminde me of 1994's cyberpunk, top-down adventure game, DreamWeb. A game that was refused classification in Australia, which is something I wouldn't know until I read a 1996 article on Australian game censorship in PC PowerPlay. I'm fairly, but not entirely, certain about that. I remember the article, but we're reaching deep into the way back here. Regardless, it was at the time of consumption that I'd had the game for two years.

Had Australia had an R18+ rating for games at the time, I'm pretty sure that DreamWeb would've received classification, even though there are some aspects of the game that might even prevent it from getting classified under the new system.

While the violence is far less realistic than modern games, it is far more immediate. Far less removed from the world we live in. There are also some scenes of said violence, including interrupting a couple mid coitus so that you can kill one of them while the other hides under the bed, and performing a mercy killing on one of your victims that you've already fatally maimed, that might see it refused classification under the new system.

I should explain.

In DreamWeb you play as Ryan, who is either saving the world, or a serial killer who has a dysfunctional relationship with reality and/or sensory input. It's all kind of left open for interpretation.

I remember going back and forth on it throughout my two playthroughs. I remember a lot of the thought processes involved with the playing of that game. I remember the discomfort at the tasks at hand, and I remember trying to wrap my head around what was going on.

I also remember having this distinct sense of dread right up until the end of the game that I would be expected to kill Ryan's girlfriend. It seemed like the kind of thing that the game was going to ask me to do. It was already full of unreasonable justifications for some fairly appalling stuff, and I was genuinely relieved when the game ended, and it had never come up.

It is clear that the developers' intentions were to make the player uncomfortable.

In the prevention of the apocalypse, you're committing some fairly straightforward murder. You might be saving the world, but you aren't fighting most of these people. You're navigating their security systems, while they hide from you, because you're there to take their lives.

It's not the immediate kill or be killed scenarios that games normally present you with, and then there's the potential that Ryan's brain cut loose some time ago, and you're just riding his whole scene into the ground. You aren't a warrior. You're a killer.

Metrocide is similar in this regard, except your killings are less elaborate. You're stalking your 'contracts' with a much more mundane sense of purpose. You're not saving the world, and you're not going to extraordinary lengths. You're getting paid, and you're leaving them on the asphalt. It's less complicated.

This is something to which I am not desensitised. In either game. It's still a jarring experience. Well, I haven't played DreamWeb in close to two decades, but thinking about some of the scenes still makes me uncomfortable. Metrocide is a little more straight forward. It's easier to play. Right up until the game tells you that your mark is on their way home, and that they were carrying a picture of their husband and a carton of milk.

If you're anything like me, this is enough to turn you on the armed gangs in the area in order to achieve your goals, who it is much easier to hold responsible for the state of affairs in which you have found yourself.

Despite these similarities, the approaches are entirely different, and the genres reflect this. DreamWeb is a story and you're there to hit the beats. You're Ryan, doing what you're told, and you're only real choices are whether or not to keep playing. You're a witness. Metrocide gives you a goal and a set of rules, and then it leaves you to make your own mess.

In this way, Metrocide is more reminiscent of the early Syndicate and Grand Theft Auto games, which is a comparison I drew in the review. DreamWeb, on the other hand, is not like anything else that I've played.

If you're interested in playing DreamWeb, it is still illegal in Australia (it was never granted classification), but it can be downloaded for free from the ScummVM (which you'll probably need to run it) website. There are some other games available for free on the site, inclduing the incredible Beneath a Steel Sky, which is another amazing science fiction game.

Metrocide, if you're interested in that fairly excellent thing, is still available through SteamGood Old GamesHumbleGreenman GamingGamersgate, and the App Store.

Wednesday 20 January 2016

A Spot of Building

There are grand plans for it when it's finished. Well, not grand, but grander. Right now it is mostly used as a landing strip for sandwiches that I toss up so that I can eat them in bed. Needless to say, there has been an increase in the number of sandwiches being consumed in bed.

Imagine that you're already at a point where, most days, you're at two out of three meals a day being of the sandwich format. Plus, maybe, some sort of smaller sandwich type snack. Most days.

This is your starting point. Well, it's ours.

Any new advancements made to broaden the sandwich based meal horizon is something of which advantage will be taken.

Though sandwiches were being consumed in the bed previously, there was a limit on this because there was nowhere for unconsumed sandwiches, partially consumed sandwiches, or the resulting crumbed sandwich bag or plate to reside.

This is changed. We have homes for all those things.

It would be fair, and honest, to say that this sandwich based functionality is not a temporary situation. The plan now is that this sort of sandwich convenience be ongoing. If push came to shove and hard decisions had to be made, I would live among the boxes, and keep the 2220mm high sandwich table.

All in all, Panda and I are happy with what's going on here. Sandwiches are more or less a guarantee of that.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

An Open Letter to Capcom

Dear Capcom,

Seriously bro?! What is happening over there at your place?

Where all the games at?!

CAPCOM: What about the production costs of making these games run on PC?

I hear you. I do. I understand that you are in the financial phase that accountants refer to as the 'Where is all my money at?' phase. That's not a good phase to be in. You make some money on some games, and you turn around and spend it on other games, and then you need money for pudding, and there is no pudding money left, so you have to mix sugar with other non-pudding foods for that faux-pudding experience.

I've been there.

It's rough.

But wait, hear me out for a minute or two. You've made games for PC before. It's true. Call someone in development and ask them if you don't believe me. It's a crazy true thing.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the games that you've already released to PC that I would gladly exchange for real money that you can keep. You keep the money, and I will keep the right to download any of these games onto my computer.

Breath of Fire IV and 6
Dino Crisis 1 and 2
Ghosts 'n' Goblins
Ghouls 'n' Ghosts
Forgotten Worlds
Mega Man X, X3, X4, X5, X6, X7, X8, Legends, and Legends 2
Monster Hunter Frontier
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Justice for All and Trials and Tribulations
Street Fighter, II, Super II, Super II Turbo, Alpha, and Alpha 2
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo

This is not a comprehensive list of all of the PC released titles that are not available through Steam, just the ones I'm concerned about. I didn't include the missing Resident Evil/Biohazard games, because it seems like you have a plan there, and I also didn't include a bunch of games with which I am either unfamiliar or in which my interest is only passing.

I also didn't include X-Men: Children of the Atom, because I am fairly certain that Marvel have taken their toys and gone home, in so much as they've started squirrelling away their IP for more truly sub-par gaming experiences that are deep within their control, but if I thought for a moment it was within your control, I would be all over that.

CAPCOM: What about all the pirates?

There is this argument that people say that you've been saying that you don't release all these old games onto platforms like Steam, because, and I shit you not, you are worried about pirates. The number of minutes that it would take me to illegally acquire and start playing any one of these games today, while I am sitting here on my PC, would be counted in minutes, probably on a single hand.

The piracy argument doesn't fly.

Or float.

It's a terrible argument. What I have to do currently in order not to pirate these games is buy a new console or keep 3 old ones. 3! 3 Consoles that I have no interest in owning outside of the handful of retro titles that I still want to play. I could purchase a new console so that I can get access to some of these games on the corresponding console specific marketplaces on which they are no doubt available, but I'm not really keen on spending a few hundred dollars just so that I can have the opportunity to spend more money to rebuy games I already own.

I already rebuy games that I already own, and do so on a semi-regular basis. I rebuy them because of the convenience of not having to live inside multiple platforms. I don't want to own all of these different plastic boxes that are in various stages of decay so that I can play my old games.

I want to go to one place and play my games. I want to always be able to go to that place and play my games. That is what I want. That's why everyone hates Origin. We want to live in one dark little corner and throw money in there so that we don't ever have to leave. You could have some of that money, Capcom. It could be yours. I want it to be yours.

Once our relationship is more firmly established we can start to talk about things like Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, DarkStalkers ResurrectionStreet Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition, Okami, Ultimate Ghouls 'n' Ghosts, and Final Fight: Double Impact.

Let's be serious. That is where the relationship is headed.

Yours if you want me,

Jacob C W Henwood