Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Newsroom Premieres Tonight

HBO has a potential goldmine on it's hand with Aaron Sorkin's return to television, The Newsroom. I just got done binge watching all seven seasons of The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip in anticipation of the show's premiere. Like The West Wing, Sports Night and Studio 60 this new show chronicles the lives behind the camera at a cable news network like MSNBC, CNN or Fox News. Jeff Daniels leads an epic cast of actors, playing the on-air voice of the news, and after a major gaffe (god, I hate that word) he and his crew have to figure out a way to do the news and do it well. You can expect just as much walkandtalk rapid fire wit as West Wing and The Social Network, now with more swearing. I'm excited to see Dev Patel again, who was amazing in Slumdog Millionaire and Skins, and Jack McCoy himself Sam Waterson in his first post-Law and Order role. Now let's hope this can last longer than Luck.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Taken 2: Electric Boogaloo

Liam Neeson is back as the former ass kick operative Bryan Mills in Taken 2. This time he's being chased by mobsters out for blood.
Liam Neeson returns as Bryan Mills, a retired CIA operative who decimated an Albanian slave-trading ring to rescue his kidnapped daughter. A year later, on a trip to Istanbul, Mills gets a surprise visit from his daughter, Kim, and his wife, Lenore. The happy reunion turns sour when Lenore is taken by gangsters serving Murad, father of one of the fallen Albanian criminals. With his wife held hostage and Kim on the run, Mills must once again use his lethal skills to track down his wife and eliminate all who stand in his way.

I was a big fan of the first film, it reminded me of Luc Besson's Leon: The Professional. It worked as a standalone action movie, but I don't think it needed a sequel. That doesn't mean I won't see it. Come on, the director's name is Olivier Megaton, could you get a better director with a more kick-ass name?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Android and Robots and Cyborgs, Oh My!

Are robots eventually going to kill us all? Most science fiction movies and television series would lead us to believe this. Are all robots inherently evil?

The most recent movie to look at the interaction between humans and robots is Prometheus, a group of explorers travel to a distant planet in search of knowledge and answers to life's questions. They bring along an android David, who acts as caretaker while the crew of the Prometheus is in a cryogenic sleep. He studies languages to assist the team of scientist and in his spare time, bleaches his hair to look more like Peter O'Toole's T.E. Lawrence from Lawrence of Arabia. He assists the team on the ground as they search long-forgotten ruins but he also follows the orders of his creater Peter Weyland. Doing so, he puts some of the scientists in harms way. He shows no real malevolence mostly because he has no emotions, but his actions lead to death and despair. Looking back at movies and tv you can see a lot of robots, cyborgs and androids who share his cold and calculating nature.

There have been robots throughout films and movies but the one who was probably the biggest threat to man was Ash from Alien, Like David in Prometheus, Ash was on the crew of the Nostromo assisting the mining crew on an interstellar mission investigating an unknown signal in deep space. After coming into contact with alien life Ash attacks the crew while carrying out orders sent down from the company the crew is employed by. The crew of the Nostromo had no idea they had an android on the crew and the realization was one of the biggest twists in film history to that point. The android was carrying out orders to retrieve the alien organism but that put humans at risk, and it was willing to harm human life to fulfill it's objectives. Ash and David are a lot alike, thanks to Weyland Industries.

David in Prometheus mentions that every child wants to kill it's parents. Is that the reason why most robots want to kill their makers? That's the theme of Battlestar Galactica. Once the race of robots, cylons gained true artificial intelligence and became self-aware they were at war with the humans who created them. They went so far to destroy humans that hey created cybernetic organisms that resembled humans, all the way down to the cellular level. Being able to infiltrate human society they were able to launch a simultaneous attack wiping out most of the human race. The same applies to the machines in Terminator and The Matrix who decide to eliminate and subjugate humans. The Daleks fight the Time Lords in Doctor Who to eliminate all sentient life in the universe because of life's flaws and impurities.

In Blade Runner humans fear the cyborgs they created in their image, replicants, that were forced off-world to do the jobs humans wouldn't have to. They hunt down replicants who return to Earth because they're stronger and can blend in with the population. The fear of an other is same fear the crew of the Nostromo felt in Alien, the same inherent fear in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where the most terrifying monster we could face looks exactly like us. That fear is realized in Battlestar Galactica, where there are multiple copies of cylon models who go unnoticed, some are sleepers who do not even know they are robots. It's deep space McCarthyism when you can't trust that the person next to you is actually human, who can you trust.

Now, not all robots are bad news. Data from Star Trek Next Generation became a senior officer on the starship Enterprise and in Star Trek: Nemesis he was Lieutenant Commander, one rank below the First Officer Command Riker. Some robots maintain objectivity and are subservient to humans. Wall-e spends his time on Earth organizing the Earth's garbage long after humans have fled to the stars, he even comes to humanity's defense when the AI on the ship ferrying humans through space goes rogue and attempts to kill the captain. Robot from Lost In Space protects Will Robinson from danger, Johnny 5 protects humans in Short Circuit and even one of the T-800 robots comes back through time to protect John Connor from other cybernetic Terminators. Then you have Steve Austin, the six-million dollar man, who is critically injured and rebuilt using cybernetics. So they're not all bad.

So what do you think, while robots live with us in harmony or will they eventually rise up and enslave or obliterate us?

Watch Dogs E3 Game Footage

Ubisoft showed off something new at E3 this year. The studio known for Tom Clancy games like Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon showed off a new open world game called Watch Dogs. From the game trailer it reminds me of the television series Person of Interest which takes place in the present where our every move can be traced by cameras, cell phones and computers. This game coming from the same studio that created the Assassin's Creed series, another free roaming open world experience, looks to follow that same idea.

While the trailer doesn't give much in the way of gameplay it makes me more than a little worried, big brother type stuff you know. You play as a guy who can go around hacking and spying on the people around him to your advantage. The gameplay footage does look great, it's looks like GTA and Assassin's Creed had a baby. I'm definitely interested in seeing more of this game.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Django Unchained Trailer

Christmas can't come any sooner. Quentin Tarantino's latest movie Django Unchained comes out this holiday season and the first trailer premiered today. There have been many news stories of who's in and who's out but the principal cast is set and it looks amazing. Here's a brief synopsis.
Set in the South two years before the Civil War, DJANGO UNCHAINED stars Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. The unorthodox Schultz acquires Django with a promise to free him upon the capture of the Brittles - dead or alive. Success leads Schultz to free Django, though the two men choose not to go their separate ways. Instead, Schultz seeks out the South's most wanted criminals with Django by his side. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago. Django andSchultz's search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), the proprietor of "Candyland," an infamous plantation where slaves are groomed by trainer Ace Woody (Kurt Russell) to battle each other for sport. Exploring the compound under false pretenses, Django and Schultz arouse the suspicion of Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), Candie's trusted house slave. Their moves are marked, and a treacherous organization closes in on them. If Django and Schultz are to escape with Broomhilda, they must choose between independence and solidarity, between sacrifice and survival...

I'm definitely excited, and this trailer is definitely a step in the right direction when it comes providing some plot details as well as some action. We've hit a time where movie trailers are teased and lack any information to get you excited as to not spoil you. I thought this was just right, and how can you go wrong when you have Johnny Cash and James Brown in the same trailer.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Last of Us Trailer and Gameplay

I haven't been paying attention to much of the news coming out of E3 this year, but the footage I was most excited about was for Naughty Dog's The Last of Us. There have been a couple of trailers released since the announcement of it back in 2011, but finally getting some footage was a great capper for Sony's press conference. Naughty Dog's been on a roll thanks to the Uncharted franchise, a handheld game was just released on the PS Vita, and this is their first new property since the Jax and Daxter and Sly Cooper action platforming games. Here's a brief synopsis of the game from the trailer ad:
The Last of Us is genre-defining experience blending survival and action elements to tell a character driven story about a population decimated by a modern plague. Cities are abandoned and being reclaimed by nature. Remaining survivors are killing each other for food, weapons and whatever they can find. Joel, a ruthless survivor, and Ellie, a young teenage girl who's braver and wiser beyond her years, must work together to survive their journey across what remains of the United States.

The game reminds me of Cormack McCarthy's The Road, the idea that human beings can be more worse than the horrors that surround them. That's a central theme to The Walking Dead, zombies shuffle along aimlessly hungering, the humans were the people who left laws and morals behind in order to survive. The gameplay shown from E3 definitely shows that. Using the game mechanics of Uncharted but adding some survival-horror elements, we get a closer look at life after the end of the world.

I can't wait to try a demo of this.