Recently I received a copy of Elysium: The Art of the Film to review.
I really dug into it and when I saw the actual movie was almost a little sad, because the movie didn’t quite live up to the conceptual ideas presented in the book. That said, if you liked the movie, then you are going to absolutely love the art book.
Written by Mark Salisbury with a foreword by Neill Blomkamp, Elysium: The Art of The Film is pretty in-depth. It is presented in the form of a coffee table book and comes in at around 180 pages. The book covers designing the movies version of earth, Favela, the parole office, the factory, robots, the arms dealer named Spider, tattoos, surgery, the exo-suit, vehicles, Carlyle’s shuttle, weapons, and the Raven. The book then uses the second half to go in-depth on Elysium itself, describing the Torus, some of the logo designs, deportation, the control room, and Kruger.
Each of these sections are filled with concept art, some pictures from the set, and very detailed descriptions of the design process. This book is a designer and a film makers dream come true. Some sections are accompanied with comments from the actors themselves and the crew behind the film.
I was really pleased to see all the different ideas that didn’t make it into the movie. It’s crazy to see how radically different the movie could have been if they had chosen one design over another. The book has a great assortment of mechs that didn’t even make the movie at all. A lot of hard work goes into a movie at the pre-production phase and this book really shows it.
Another cool treat is that some of the art is designed by Syd Mead, the legendary sci-fi artist behind Aliens, Blade Runner, Tron, and Short Circuit (Johnny 5 is alive! Haha).
Elysium: The Art of the Film retails for 26.99$ and if you are a sci-fi lover, an art lover, or a fan of Elysium then I recommend you pick it up. Your friends will love comparing it to the movie if you keep it out on a coffee table for them to flip through.
If all of the waxing poetic about the game wasn’t an indicator, I like it. Superficially, Divekick is a joke. Obviously. One of the characters is a doctor named Dr. Shoals who has rocket boots and its looking for a cure for a foot disease called Foot Dive. Of course it’s a joke.
As Divekick matured, its roster grew, and with more characters, things to distinguish between characters needed to be added. As a result the roster is significantly expanded, allowing players to choose a character to fit their playstyle. With that comes a certain degree of having to learn a character and I was initially scared that this would mean the end of what I enjoy most about Divekick—its transparency. But as I played, I found that these fears were unfounded as it’s as complex as it is understandable. The metagame of Divekick—trying to figure out when your opponent will attack, how high they’ll jump, etc…—is incredibly complex, but the controls and movesets are so limited, you’re always in control and your opponent’s moves are never an unknown.
The game features single player mode, which has exactly as much story as you’d expect—somewhere between five and six panels of moving comics plus three dialogue banter sessions. Of course there’s a local versus mode, even on the Vita, but there’s also an online portion which boasts the best netcode of any fighter out there. To be fair though, I’ve had more than one match with a little lag, and one in which the loading screen came up for a few seconds before the battle resumed.
The art style is hand drawn and can be a little amateurish at times, but it all fits with the themes of the game. The music is unobtrusive and the backgrounds aren’t distracting, lending to the idea that in Divekick, combat is king. Just like in most fighters, you can complete story mode in about half an hour per character if you’re bad. Matches are completed in anywhere between 15 seconds and the absolute maximum of 3 minutes, meaning it’s as quick as it is intense.
Verdict: Come on, have I not gushed enough? Divekick is hands down the most simple, elegant, fair, and accessible fighter I’ve ever played. To fighting game terri-bads like myself, it’s perfect since the investment to get proficient is so low. And to fighter pros, it’s also perfect since the movesets are so simple, you’re forced to be creative and quick thinking to pull off a victory against a seasoned pro. Or lucky. That’ll work too.
Just go buy it, come on man.
As a side note, Iron Galaxy was kind enough to give me a review code for the game the day before its release on a far too late request from me. Even though he wasn’t in the office, the CEO himself handled my request quickly and got me the code very quickly, so thanks so much to Dave Lang. Also for the record, I bought the game on Steam just so I could support them with my dollars. You should too!
Five friends walk into a bar. Then another. And another…
The World’s End is a movie about five high school friends who once attempted to drink a pint at each of the twelve bars in their town. This feat is referred to as the golden mile, but they couldn’t quite pull it off. Their fearless leader (Simon Pegg) walks around in a black trench coat, combat boots, and a punk rock attitude about anything and everything. His right hand man (Nick Frost) always has his back. Their three other friends (Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsan) and mainly along for the ride. Years pass. They lose touch with one another. Everyone moves on in life except for Gary King (Simon Pegg). So he gets the gang back together to attempt to finish the golden mile, hoping that it will fill the hole that has become his life.
Okay, so we all saw Shaun of the Dead right? What about Hot Fuzz? Some loved the first and weren’t really down with Hot Fuzz. Those people were wrong. Hot Fuzz is great. Taking the formula that worked so well in those two movies, The World’s End decides to flip Nick Frost and Simon Pegg from their usual character roles. This time, Simon Pegg is the bumbling idiot, while Nick Frost plays the level-headed one. The good is that Nick Frost pulls off the role switch with colors, giving an impassioned strength to the character. The bad is that Simon Pegg pulls of the idiot, but can’t quite give him the endearing likeability that Frost normally does.
The first two acts of the movie are tightly weaved, supplying several fun moments. The cinematography is hands down the best of the three, with Edgar Wright’s love of quick-cut, adrenaline fueled expositions showing his experience from the past few movies he’s done come full circle. The choreographer from the past few movies returns as well. Learn her name.
She is wonderful and The World’s End is easily her crowning achievement in choreography, with fight scenes that would fall to pieces in less capable hands.
In fact, The World’s End can be summed up by the choreography and cinematography. Edgar Wright shines as a director. Litza Bixler knocks it out with the choreography. The third act though? Frankly, it was a let down. The final joke gets a bit stretched out and heavy-handed. The time wasted in this scene could have been used to show off more of the rich back story between the five friends. Luckily, there is a fun little epilogue that ties things up without giving the typical “happy ending”.
This is a small complaint and the movie is a good time, but definitely not as powerful as Shaun of the Dead or as thrilling as Hot Fuzz.
I give The World’s End a 7 out of 10.
Hello folks, I’m back! I have for this week a modest children’s book offering everyone should check out. The book, from one of our favorites Candlewick Press, is called Mitchell Goes Bowling by Hallie Durand and illustrated by Tony Fucile. This is a must read book if you have a young child and need a good book for nightly reading or it make a great gift, be it for a birthday or for milestones such as starting preschool (or first day of gasp, KINDERGARTEN). At least, I would have liked receiving a book like this at that age.
Mitchell’s plot is rather straightforward; Rowdy four year-old Mitchell and his dad have an afternoon together at the bowling alley for the first time and we follow their antics as Mitchell learns the ups and downs of the game. This is the second Mitchell book and collaboration between Duran and Fucile (the first being 2011’s Mitchell’s License now being re-released as Mitchell Goes Driving as part of what I will assume be an ongoing Mitchell Goes series); the book is fresh, charming with witty and very current humor sensibility and descriptions from Fucile as we follow the father-son duo as they play their game.
If Tony Fucile’s kinetic, and animated yet simple artwork looks familiar and brings to mind The Incredibles or other Disney and animated works you’re not far off; Fucile has worked more than twenty years in the animation field whether as a character designer, head of animation, supervising animator, visual development or character artist and animator (not all at the same time) for many films in the Disney/Pixar canon and other studios. A few of the works Fucile has contributed to include The Little Mermaid (1989), FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992), Aladdin (1992) The Lion King (1994), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) The Iron Giant (1999), The Incredibles (2004), and Ratatouille (2007).
Fun, quick and endearing, visually comedic. this is a great book for all ages. However there is something that sets this book further apart. The one thing that really makes this book special is that the titular Mitchell comes from a bi-racial family; Mitchell shares his dad’s curls but none of his complexion or coloring, and that fact is presently plainly without fuss or being tied to the narrative stories in either book.
It are these quiet displays of representation that make all the difference. I know there are so many families that look exactly like Mitchell’s family and have for the longest time struggled with proper representation, seeing themselves in American entertainment media which overwhelmingly skews towards white families even in 2013. This now two book series is a classic-in-the-making series (and if there are continued adventures it could be a fun animated TV show or shorts) and while pretty casual and fresh it is completely worth the space on anyone’s shelf; hopefully there will be more and more adventures of Mitchell and his family to come soon. Overall (so help me I can’t resist), it’s a perfect strike! Check this out when it comes out this September.
Mitchell Goes Bowling
by Hallie Durand
illustrated by Tony Fucile
Candlewick Press | 9780763660499 | $15.99 | Available Sept 2013
Until next time!
Staff Writer/The Doctor
However you feel about the recent casting of Ben Affleck as Batman, it’s definitely near objectively depressing news to hear that he is no longer attached to the epic film production of Stephen King’s The Stand. Affleck is replaced by Scott Cooper(Crazy Heart), who will also rewrite the script. Apparently Affleck is tied to a non-cape-related project with Warner Bros and had to drop out of the project. While I certainly enjoyed the television miniseries (in all of its occasionally cheesy glory), I was really excited to see a proven talent like Affleck take on a project of this magnitude.
Months ago, Affleck confessed to hitting a road block with the adaptation, so I suppose it’s better that he was replaced than to have the movie canned completely, but it hits hard to see another King-project, especially a film based on another one of his best works, swirling around development hell after the dream of a Dark Tower movie fizzling out so unspectacularly.
King fans will just have to hope Doctor Sleep is great enough to make us forget about going to the movies or wait for Kimberly Pierce’s turn at a Carrie film to hold us over until the next bad DKU news. Check out The Stand miniseries on Netflix if you get a shot because it’s one of the best of his made for TV adaptations.
Recently, I’ve been looking for games to keep me occupied between my irregular working schedule and had UnEpic suggested to me. Always willing to try out new indie games, I threw caution to the wind and bought it from Steam for a wonderful $7.99. To my unfortunate discovery, I found the game lives up to its name, UnEpic is actually un-epic.
The first issue I encountered before I even began playing was trying to run it on my computer. Admittedly my Alienware is older now, and has a harder time running the new and shiny software, but upon booting UnEpic, I was greeted with a black screen and menu sounds. To my dismay, it was a problem that could only be solved by updating my graphics drivers, which are now out of make and no longer have supported drivers. After dealing with this error, I got in to playing the game.
What struck me first about the game was the hand drawn title screen, which was well animated and lent a sense of foreboding about the game to come. Would I be thrown in to a gritty and dark adventure with monsters to slay and quests to complete? The scene opens with a group of players playing a tabletop RPG, where our protagonist excuses himself to the bathroom. Thus our adventure begins.
UnEpic places you straight in to the action with a rudimentary starting story, basic introduction to your inventory and equipment. There is also a severe lack of basic movement tutorials, and I was left to figure them out on my own. The controls however, feel well tuned and you have good response from the character, which is great when compared to other metroidvania style games.
As I progressed through the game I was provided with many more basic tutorials for looting items, and how to split my bag in two to make sorting easier. I’d have preferred an inventory option to sort my items by type, or have some other form of inventory management instead of having to do it manually. I found myself spending a lot of time in the inventory comparing weapons and armor, locating potions to bind to hotkeys and sorting potion ingredients that dropped with sheer abundance.
UnEpic does implement a crafting system, so you can make various potions with effects that are very useful – 3 levels ago. Potion crafting is learned by purchasing a recipe from any of the vendors that are located throughout the dungeon, for exuberant amounts of money that you must then learn from your inventory. The entire process from learning to creation is too long and drawn out, with the final result of creation being handled poorly. Many of the crafted items are simply dropped on the ground and must be reacquired before leaving the area, instead of the items being added straight to the inventory. This is frustrating, especially if you take in to the account the random encounters with thieves inside the dungeon, that steals any item left behind on the ground while you are away from that room. Yes, this adds an element of life to what is essentially a stagnant dungeon crawler, but often it is easy to lose those essential items that have dropped or been crafted.
The combat in UnEpic is enjoyable, with a very hack and slash feel. There is not a whole lot of opportunity to dodge, and most of the time it’s easier to soak up the damage. There are definitely areas where crouching to dodge incoming missiles would be handy, but if you can equip yourself with enough healing potions, and are savvy enough with getting yourself to a save point, you won’t need to worry about avoiding damage. This can be frustrating as it does take time to drink a potion, which can often mean the difference between life and death. Poison is a commonly occurring status effect, with many creatures able to stack instances of poison on you, which can dramatically and quickly drain your health.
UnEpic also implements weapon type switching to get the best damage out of your weapon against specific enemies. For example, a mace is excellent for breaking those deadly barrels that sit in the corner and glare at you and a sword is good for stabbing living things. It’s great that the developer thought of trying to add a little more complexity and meaning to weapon types, but after putting a handful of points into my sword skill, I could take down pretty much everything that sniffed at me funny with either magic or a well placed sword swing to the everywhere.
Verdict: UnEpic lives up to its name; it is very un-epic. Combat was well tuned, and it definitely promotes exploration and character progression in classic RPG fashion. What it lacked though was a well developed story, natural dialogue and too much backtracking. I found myself having to retrace my steps often, and I would often ignore the weapons mechanic for my sword which was pretty effective against everything. UnEpic has charming graphics reflective of many older metroidvania games, and the sound design is pretty good. UnEpic is good for those afternoons where you don’t have much to do and want to kill an hour or two before you go out, or are just looking to chill and not think too hard.