Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Total Massacre

Disaster Year is chomping at the bit, desperate to get its hands on a copy of Takashi Miike's festival darling Thirteen Assassins. Miike's latest tells the story of a troupe of untested samurai being hired to ambush a brutal, despotic feudal lord. In order to annihilate him and his vast entourage, the samurai seize control of a village and transform it into a gigantic trap fortress. Thirteen Assassins is generating incredible buzz; Kurosawa comparisons, in particular, are being flung around all over the place. Let's hope it gets a UK distribution deal quick smart!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


Because you've been good, here's a minute and change of shill for the Coen Brother's Christmas present adaptation of Charles Portis's True Grit. You don't got John Wayne no more, but you do get Jeff Bridges by way of replacement. That's a good deal.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


How much this ad will resemble the final flow of BioShock Infinite is anyone's guess, but this proof of concept gameplay short deftly, and repeatedly, shifts between the alien sights of a floundering pure-blood sky city as wonder, and the interaction play the new world offers. If Irrational can bottle even a fraction of this magic, we're in for a 2011 treat.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

What's interesting about this home video re-edit of Superman II is that it's a purely speculative recalibration, designed as the concluding chapter to a version of Superman: The Movie that doesn't even exist. Originally Superman was to end with the Man of Steel averting nuclear disaster by punting one of Luthor's ICBMs into space, thus freeing the Phantom Zone Kryptonians. The time rewind finale that played at the end of the released Superman was to be saved for the sequel, with Clark playing God to undo the ruin Zod has made of Earth.

Assembled from as much Donner footage as possible, and hung on a bare frame of Richard Lester's work, this approximate cut does much to undo the eccentricities of Lester's sequel. Zod's presence is clipped and fleeting, ditching much of the culture clash hysteria. Greater emphasis is placed on Zod's hatred for Jor-El, recontextualising Zod's aimless bullying of Earth as a necessary dithering before Superman appears. Likewise Superman's dabble with humanhood is bracketed with Godhead projections of Marlon Brando's Jor-El pleading with his lovesick son to keep a cool head. The scenes between Reeve and Brando vibrate as the full messianic subtext of Superman is explored.

Dressed as a human, Superman outlines his desire to live with Lois as a human. Jor-El calls him selfish, saying that making one person his focus contravenes the mission. He cannot commit to both. Superman rages, knowing his father is right. He is thinking only of himself, but doesn't he deserve to? Hasn't he earned the right to explore his own desires? What's interesting is how centred and calm Jor-El is. The phantom projections of the Fortress of Solitude blur the line between simulation personality, recording, and actual soul fragment. Here Brando delicately and patiently outlines the folly, while providing the means with which to perform it. Richard Donner's Superman II presents a messianic predicament but firmly contextualises it in emotionally human terms. The father is willing to do what he sees as an ethical wrong in order to provide a happiness for his child. Likewise, when it all does go wrong, the same father is equally prepared to extinguish the half life that remains to him in order to restore the super-man. Christian doctrine is inverted as the father lays down his life for the son.

In Lester's film Superman's power shrink was an artificial obstacle to allow Zod a speedy dominion. It also presented Kal-El as a dimwit, blind to his other half's desires. In Lester's II it often appears that the clumsy Clark identity is the root personality, that the poised Superman is the elaborate act. In Richard Donner's II Superman is the clearly the true state of this man.

Westworld by Methane Studios

Produced to mark a special Alamo Drafthouse brand screening.

IG-88 by Ken Taylor

Part of Ken Taylor's Bounty Hunters Wave 1 series from Mondo.



Head on over to Sean Witzke's Supervillain blog and get your read on as Witzke's counts us down through his favourite movies in a series of features winningly entitled No Star Wars. Curmudgeons may note that the list barely strays from masculine zip cinema, but who cares when the write-ups are this densely personal? He's certainly made a similar Disaster Year list more or less redundant. Of particular note is Witzke's reading of the conclusion to Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, which bypasses nihilistic knee-jerks to zone in on a speculative future beyond the petty for dear little Alex. If you want to dash straight to that, Witzke ranks it number 2.

Part 1 100 - 75
Part 2 75 - 51
Part 3 50 - 41
Part 4 40 - 31
Part 5 30 - 21
Part 6 20 - 11
Part 7 10 - 1

Track back Mr Witzke's Emma Peel Sessions label for oodles of similarly packed pop-culture commentary.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010


First glimpse of Shinji Mikami and Suda 51's Shadows of the Damned, looking very much as if EA have turned over their Dead Space engine and told the two developers to go absolutely bonkers. Players seize control of a shouty Colin Farrell lookee-likee as he boulders through the shuffling and demonic; set to music, and guided by situations, expertly calibrated to be a thirteen year old boy's idea of 'totally fucking rad'. Skull gun! Computer crossbow! ABSINTHE VENDING MACHINE!


Bravo Capcom! The Osaka based video game company is whipping up a PR hurricane around inbound sequel Dead Rising 2. First, we had the bite-size snack Case Zero, a 360 DLC exclusive that managed to turn your standard pre-release demo into a cash concept, without alienating buyers. Sold as a Live Arcade title, Case Zero took core mechanic introduction - the building blocks of any teaser - and wove them into a short bulletin point game experience. Case Zero had achievements, super-play concepts, and a whole shitkicker neighbourhood to play around with. It was a brief scramble, but with multiple outcomes based on player diligence; the entire Dead Rising time management experience, but in an easy-to-swallow afternoon supplement.

Now, ahead of this month's release of the main Dead Rising 2 we get word that there's to be a download only epilogue featuring first title survivor Frank West. Disappointed this game revolves around the untested Chuck Greene? Worry not! Frank's in the fan service aftercare! Dead Rising 2: Case West is set to be another Xbox 360 exclusive, but I wouldn't bet against a special re-issue for PlayStation 3 in the near future, uniting all these batty odds and ends.

Monday, 13 September 2010

TV on the Radio - I Was a Lover

"Getting this title in the cage is gonna make forty five thousand dollars difference in my annual earnings brother!"

Now that's how you cut a wrestling promo! Not for the faint of heart! Apparently there was some doubt that Roddy Piper had enough psycho chops to grapple with a punishment dishing tag team called The Sheepherders (later known as The Bushwhackers in the WWF). This was Piper's reaction. Why pose and make threats when you can simply brain yourself and not flinch? I wouldn't want to come within ten feet of him after that. Extra lunatic points for blurring reality lines by making his income woes the motor for his psychosis.


This jumble reel of Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer matches by G4 TV demos a couple of gun attachments and killstreaks I haven't seen anywhere else. Jump straight to the 1 minute mark to see Black Ops's new assault rifle attachment - as an unrelated aside, did you know that the United States military hasn't used flamethrowers since 1978? They're a public relations disaster apparently.

Elsewhere, see a successful chase down with the explosive remote control car at 1:40; and from 2:10 there's a demonstration of the two-chance Valkyrie rocket launcher. 7 kills nets you an airdrop with a launcher and a couple of missiles. This controllable bonus replaces both Modern Warfare 2's Predator missile and Javelin. This play snatch also features persistent use of player customised gun sights, and a quick glimpse of a few of the new maps.

BioShock 2: Minerva's Den

With the main series off to explore castles in the sky, this last gasp DLC for BioShock 2 could be the final trip to Ayn Rand's Atlantis. Closure for this originator strand lurks tantalisingly close thanks to the discovery that Rapture houses a monstrous super-computer with the calculative means to puzzle out a cure for the city's geneticl subversion. As in the main BioShock 2 campaign, players again take control of a prototype Big Daddy, here a blunt force slave tasked with invading a facility at the behest of a some puny humans. Despite appearances to the contrary, 2K Marin aren't simply replaying a previous avatar beat for the sake of asset frugality. This Big Daddy has a distinct role to play in a tale that noodles on war and the individual, the flexibility of race in a universe of biological customisation, and industrialised personality.

BioShock 2's vast arsenal is supplemented here with a withering laser rifle, and a singularity plasmid that turns frothing mutation mobs into spinning balls of fleshy debris. Legacy plasmids and weapons are rationed atypically to any previous game blueprint, forcing the user to reconfigure their strategies to better suit what's available; discovering the finer points of less popular abilities in the process. With no research means available, opponents stay strong throughout Minerva's Den. Security robots in particular become ferocious, persistent nuisances. There's no shortage of them either, even mom and pop Splicers prowl this underwater IBM assisted by mechanical bodyguards. Minerva's Den is an excellent example of a DLC epilogue, it provides a concise slice of melancholy, new toys to experiment with, and addresses some of the disappointment perhaps felt when it was revealed that we mightn't be returning to Rapture anytime soon.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Superman II

Sired by a deeply troubled production that saw the original saga director Richard Donner junked in favour of Richard Lester's lighter, financially tighter, touch; Superman II perseveres as an entertaining muddle of faintly clashing ideas. Lester's jokey, exaggerated tone actually compliments Donner's big city living. It's as if mankind has gone slightly insane now that the world has a tangible messiah. Everyone acts large, and people take catastrophic risks, assured that they now have a super-safety net should they fall. Is this what inspires Superman's weariness? In Superman II, he seems awfully eager to throw away his powers and position when an office romance opportunity arises. Pratfalls aside, Lois's discovery of Clark's secret identity could be contextualised as a passive aggressive cry for help. Otherwise, are we to believe a God thing that can alter the trajectory of time has serious trouble navigating a rug? With Superman stuck in a navel gazing funk, it falls to Terence Stamp's Zod to bring the fun.

Stamp plays Zod as an autistic vandal, utterly bewildered by anything that doesn't immediately abdicate to his whim. His lack of understanding actually disqualifies his actions as broadly evil, Zod often seems more like a bored aristocratic degenerate playing at being a tyrant. His defining criminal act on Krypton is breaking something that doesn't belong to him. We are given no sense of calamitous sedition, simply that Jor-El possess a bright sparkly toy, so a jealous Zod must snap it. He's a child. It's easy to imagine Zod has a doting, moneyed Kryptonian mother somewhere, always eager to bail her special little soldier out his latest mischief. On earth, his entire agenda is built around a playground bully's idea of submission. He just wants everyone to agree that he's the best. All this makes Zod completely excellent to watch. He has no interest in Earth, and makes no attempt to understand anything. He's instantly bored with any success, and reveals no wider master plan other than cursory subjugation. He has no use for Earth or anyone on it. He just wants their tribute. Kneel before Zod.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game asks that you be aware of the titles that have informed its experience. It helps if you've gotten your plain management tactics down through a childhood spent pumping coins into Final Fight and Golden Axe arcade cabs; but to be truly prepared players should have dabbled with Technos Inc's 1989 consumer minded NES stat brawler River City Ransom. It's a decision in keeping with Bryan Lee O'Malley's fiction, but obstinate to accessibility. Pilgrim characters start extra weak, rendering the opening stage as a lengthy humiliation gauntlet, full of rampaging chibi body hooligans with vast health bars to chip at. Assuming your character is already complete, as in say Streets of Rage 2, could get you mugged before you even reach the first gig showdown. Eventually you learn to prowl the backgrounds for shops, building up a technique boosting CD collection. With the entire Smashing Turnips back catalogue firmly in hand, Scott Pilgrim: The Game opens up, revealing a besotted, mischief minded tribute to 2D fighters and arcade affectations. Everything breaks! Scott Pilgrim: The Game is also a dream artifact, the first playable iteration of Paul Robertson's wonderful pixel seizure reels, overloaded with detail, character, and cheeky recalibrations of Pilgrim's ex dilemma. Hopefully, it won't be the last.

Anamanaguchi - Another Winter


Japanese Escape from New York poster.


1997: Fuga da New York

Italian Escape from New York poster.



Hi there Keiji Inafune! When Capcom were first dipping their toe in the US video game market, they perhaps felt that selling a rampaging Pinocchio bot to kids raised on Stallones and Schwarzeneggers was a tough proposition. Their solution? A dreadfully rendered box art cover that sold on a pistol packing, muscled, monster man. That little blue man you see onscreen is pure allegory consumers! Never ones to let anything go to waste, Capcom have included this bizarro cultural clash point as a playable entity in the upcoming Mega Man Universe. They've even gone and made him all excellent and charming. All hail Capcom!

"I used to be like you..."

Jason Eisener's Hobo with a Shotgun continues to wow. This latest ad cues audience for the next great society eats itself flick. Shotgun's transcended it's cheapy nasty fauk shill origins in a way that Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse stablemate Machete still hasn't really managed. Previously we had a 70s grunged up revenger, chronicling the equaliser skirmishes of a potato headed gurner. Now? We've got Rutger Hauer giving extinction speeches to infants while the montage splices in mob motivated future shock, with a pulsing electronica beat. Disaster Year's booking fucking tickets.

Justin Bieber - Baby (El-P Death Mix)

Disaster Year's mini foray into Twitter feed misogyny music continues with El-P recruiting Wings to put the evil on Justin Bieber's penny sweet pop. First heard over at Byron Crawford.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Sci-Fi Revoltech Alien Warrior

Kaiyodo's latest addition to the heavily articulated Sci-Fi Revoltech action figure series is the Aliens re-draft of the xenomorph design.



Call of Duty: Black Ops's latest tease sells on a brand new multiplayer mode that experiments with risk and reward in a Free-For-All context. Wager Match allows players to gamble with in-game currency, allowing them to stake unlock coin on their chances of a success in a series of fraught, specialist encounters. Of the four match types previewed, One in the Chamber looks the most promising. Recalling GoldenEye and Counter-Strike custom games, pistoleros have one single bullet, with a reload only available if you manage to successfully ambush another competitor. Disaster Year's mind is already racing with images of snaking stand-offs, as miss shooters desperately and inexpertly try to sneak a knife in whilst making pokey strafe runs. Hopefully these modes won't grind down into boring lurker hunts. The idle must be punished! No solid word on where you'll spend your winnings, but presumably your spends feed back into Black-Ops's custom load out systems - vapour word holds that unlockable weapons and streaks are based on individual decision rather than a rank ration.