Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Thoughts On The Captain America Teaser


Though it hardly qualifies as “big news” in most circles, this past Sunday marked the television debut of the 30 second Captain America: The First Avenger teaser:


Oh yeah, and something called “The Superbowl” happened too.

The Packers won, the Steelers lost, and balance has been brought to The Force; at least until the next season.

Anyway, given that the Captain America preview was a trim 30 seconds in length, and was intentionally edited so as to keep most of the major details of the film foggy at best; here are my thoughts on what I saw:

The CGI used to reduce Chris Evan’s heroic physique to that of the undersized pre-Project Rebirth Steve Rogers appears fairly convincing at this point.

Well okay fine, it doesn't look perfect, but it looks better than young Jeff Bridges in Tron Legacy.

While most likely a minor element of the film, technical gimmicks like this have always fascinated me; particularly when they work, I.E. Lt. Dan’s amputated legs in Forrest Gump.

We’ll see how it turns out on the big screen.

Moving on, I’m pleased to note that nothing looks cheap about the movie as of yet.

Some of the costuming for Thor had an unfortunate, plastic-y look, but the period elements, and overall production design of Captain America seems pretty slick thus far.

Of particular note was the set for the Project Rebirth sequence, not only because it’s the only set we really get a good look at in the teaser; but also because it genuinely looks pretty good.

One thing I was afraid of seeing in a Captain America film, was gaudy or needlessly extravagant production design.

Thankfully, and remember this is just me going by what we’ve seen thus far; this seems to be a non-issue in The First Avenger.

Most everything in the teaser points to an almost Rocketeer-esque (also directed by Joe Johnston) marriage of the pulpy comic book aesthetic and appropriately utilitarian, or at least practical, design elements.

Truth be told, I loved The Rocketeer back in the day, so if Captain America can capture that same gleeful energy, I think we’re in for a good show.

Another thing worth noting in the teaser, is the brief glimpse we get of the Red Skull, as played by Hugo Weaving.

Red Skull is a character who has undergone a great deal of variations in his design.

In his early appearances, as well as the current Steve Epting version of the character; Red Skull had what I like to call a “toad face”.

 

TOOOOOOAAAADDDD FAAAAAAACCCEEE!!!!!

His eyebrows were exagerrated and protruding, like a neanderthal; but the “toad face” part of his design came from his broad, perpetually frowning mouth.

My personal favorite design of the character, was the one featured prominently in the early 90’s (go figure) that featured a very straightforward skull-shaped, well, skull.

In the case of the movie, it would appear that the design was designed primarily to capitalize on Hugo Weaving’s unique facial structure, while retaining some of the classic “toad face” features:

...And he tears off his normal face mask to reveal... A hideous skull mask!

In other words, expect a bug-eyed, big forehead-ed Red Skull that looks more like Agent Smith than, well, a skull.

I already voiced my opinion on the design decisions for the Captain America suit, as posted here; however there’s one last little detail I’d like to add to that, in the form of a comment from a friend of mine.

Chris Evans in the Captain America suit looks like Shaq from Steel.”

No Caption Necessary.

While I was (sadly) inclined to agree in some respects, I still remain hopeful that Captain America will turn out to be a better film than the almost ludicrously ass-tastic Steel.

Even so, if ever there was a comic character that was easy to fuck up, it’d have to be the Cap’n…

At this point, Captain America (along with Green Lantern) is poised to be my big summer movie this year, so keep your fingers crossed people, The Azn Badger commands it!

Advertisements

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Motion Capture Is Cool…

I was watching my newly purchased Blu-Ray of Avatar tonight, when it suddenly hit me that I forgot to write my blog.

Nah, just kidding, I never forget…

While I’m on the subject of movies though, I figure now would be a good time for me to talk about my feelings on motion capture technology; something that Avatar couldn’t have been made without.

I’ve always been fascinated by the artistry of the human body in motion.

I’m a firm believer in the concept that much of how we communicate our image and demeanor to the the people around us, stems from our body language.

That being said, whether it be in stage acting, professional wrestling, dance, mime, sports, or fighting; a person’s character, both fictionalized or genuine; shines through in the manner in which the move their body.

For me, a person that doesn’t converse with new people often, or well for that matter; being able to understand gesticulations and body language goes a long way towards getting to know people.

Though I can’t pin down the first time I saw it in action, motion capture technology is an amazing tool that I’ve grown to love very much.

The basic concept of it alone is utterly intriguing to the point in which I found myself wanting to be involved with it at some point.

Seriously, if you know anyone with an “in” to the motion capture industry, let me know!

For those who are unaware, motion capture is a technology that uses a specialized camera and computerized tracking system to map out and record the movements of a subject’s form.

Using the data recorded through this process, said movements can then be transposed onto the anatomy of a digital character.

In the context of movie or videogame production, doing so allows CGI animators to save (some) time by using actual human actors to map out a performance for digital characters, which can then be finessed or tweaked further by the animators.

In many ways, it’s the heir apparent to the classic animation technique of rotoscoping.

In many ways, the largest benefit of motion capture technology, is that it grants directors and animators an incredible degree of control over their projects.

If George Lucas is any indication, control is something that is very important to filmmakers.

They say some of the best moments in film history have been the results of happy coincidences, or even mistakes.

While that may be true, CGI stands as a counter to that, as a tool that allows filmmakers a degree of control that makes the word “mistake” seem almost obsolete.

CGI allows directors to create and animate just about any imagery that pops into their head, but motion capture technology allows them the ability to continue to work with actors, while taking advantage of the technology to precisely extract the desired performance from said actors.

While I don’t see live-action movies going away at any point in human existence, the inherent possibilities of producing digital motion captured films are downright incredible.

Think of it this way:

When producing CGI films with motion captured performances, one gains the freedom to set their film anywhere they want, populated by whatever they want.

They also retain the ability to cast big-name actors that put asses in the seats, not to mention gain the capacity to modify the actor’s appearance to their liking.

Not only that, motion capture also allows for stunt actors to be inserted into scenes without having to be shot at distance or from behind, as the whole process would be seamless.

Come to think of it, the whole concept of “stunts” as a whole could potentially be removed when making a motion captured film.

After all, the whole thing is performed in a sound stage, not to mention the actor can be “removed” from scenes whenever necessary, thereby allowing the animators to take over for the dangerous or “un-performable” sequences.

Still, the idea of being able to slip Donnie Yen’s motion capture performance into Tom Cruise’s digitally de-aged body is something that I’m sure a lot of people would pay to see.

To me though, the most interesting aspect of motion capture in film, is it’s effect on the acting process.

Acting in a green room, surrounded by artifice, actors have to dig deep and use their imagination to summon strong performances.

In short, more stress is put on the actor to use their body to convincingly occupy the digital landscape their character inhabits.

From the audience’s perspective, I find it changes how we view these performances as well.

While I myself am normally attuned to the physical aspects of an actors performance, when I watch motion captured performances, I find myself drawn to dig a little deeper.

I can’t tell you how much fun it is to see a digital character walk around in a movie, only to find the tiniest little inkling of evidence of the fact that you are in fact seeing a familiar actor, give a performance in an unfamiliar shell.

In many ways it reminds me of my lifelong love of Godzilla, or any sort of “suit acting” for that matter.

When Haruo Nakajima stomped around in a Godzilla suit, you could instantly tell it was him by the “largeness” and sheer character of his movements.

When Kane Hodder killed bitches as Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th movies, we could always tell it was him by how savagely he went about killin’ bitches.

When Peter Weller was switched out in favor of Robert John Burke (the fattie from Thinner) in Robocop 3, we were all up in arms; not just because that movie sucked, but because Burke’s physical performance simply wasn’t Robocop.

While motion captured performances will never beat good ‘ole “man-in-suit” acting, the concept is similar enough that is brings me great joy to watch.

I look forward to seeing the day when Donnie Yen steps into the motion capture studio and shows us what motion capture pictures have been missing out on.

Seriously, why the fuck hasn’t anyone made a martial arts movie in mo-cap yet, huh?

That’s right Robert Zemeckis and James Cameron, I’m lookin’ at you two…

Filed under: Boxing, Kung Fu, Movies, Tokusatsu, Wrestling, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Beowulf: Summarized by A COLLEGE GRADUATE

Let’s get one thing straight:

I read Beowulf.

Not only that, I read, and dissected Beowulf for school within a month of seeing the movie.

That being said, I know the story.

Well, no; that’s not entirely true, but for the purposes of this post bear with me.

If you ask me, the original Beowulf story (well, the translated/updated version that we all read today anyway…) was trashy and uninspired, even for it’s time.

The composition of the story is fractured, the characters are barely 2 dimensional, and the whole thing is downright caveman simple.

What I mean to say is:

Beowulf was a campfire story for DUDES, a story meant to entertain on the most visceral of levels, and one that was seemingly thrown together on the fly one night, probably by a drunk-ass dude with PTSD from killing and raping 5,000 women and children.

Wow, that was graphic.

Anyway, what follows is an intentionally stupid and ridiculous summary/reenactment of the original telling of the Beowulf story as I know it.

Try to picture this being told around an old-world viking campfire.

Please enjoy, and bear in mind, this post was brought to you by a 4 year college education:

“Okay, so there’s this monster, uh, Green- (no, wait…) Grendel!  Yeah, that’s right, Grendel!

One day, Grendel showed up at some castle, and was all like:

“IMMA’ KILL ALL’AH’ YOUSE’!”

With that, Grendel started cuttin’ bitches, so the peoples in the castle whipped out their celly’s and called the pimpest dude in the neightborhood:

BAY-O-WOLF.

Yeah that’s right, BAY-O-WOLF.

Only thing is, he’s so fuckin’ BADASS that he spells it “Beowulf,” ’cause he’s all like:

“I don’t want suckah’s soundin’ out my name n’shit.  That’s some bullshit right there, son…”

Anyway, Beowulf shows up and is all like:

“Yeah, I’ll kill your monster, but first let us all get drunk while I take some ‘roids and whip out my cock… Y’know, as a sign of good sportsmanship.

Don’t question me, I’m BADASS.”

Right as the parties startin’ to die down, Grendel busts down the door on a bad trip or some shit and is all like:

“IMMA’ KILL ALL’AH’ YOUSE’!”

So, these 2 guys bein’ the dudes that they are, Beowulf and Grendel end up drinking themselves stupid.

Naturally, again; dudes that they are, the 2 of them get into a slap boxing/wrestling match, presumably over who the better Bond was, Connery or Moore.

(It was Connery…)

Despite what began as a friendly contest, Beowulf somehow accidentally tears Grendel’s arm out of it’s socket.

That, my good friends, is what shall henceforth be known as a “party foul.”

Anyway, that’s the story!  Goodnight!”

Inevitably, gathered around a campfire with nothing else to do, someone would eventually have to ask:

“Really?  That can’t really be the end, can it?”

Not wanting to upset his testosterone and boose juiced audience, our storyteller would most likely do what he could to improv a second act for the story:

“So, *cough!* turns out Grendel had a mom

Not only that, Grendel had, uh, a SAVAGE BEAST of a mom that was 10 times more SAVAGE than him on his most SAVAGE of days!

Yeah, that’s right, SAVAGE!

‘Cause, y’know how mothers are, am I right guys? *Wink* *Wink*

……….. How come nobodies’ laughing?

*Ahem!* Anyway, Grendel’s mom shows up at the castle and is all like:

“IMMA’ KILL ALL’AH’ YOUSE’!”

So then Beowulf, fresh after having just bedded every lady in waiting in the court, is all like:

“Yeah, ‘imma kill that bitch for yah’, just let me get juiced up and nak- (no, wait he already did that) I mean, juiced up and shit-faced and I’ll get right on it.

Then maybe I’ll get naked and score some poontang afterwards…”

(Hold for applause)

Yeah, thought you guys would like that part…

With that, Beowulf, being the BADASS that he is; goes and puts the ground and pound to Grendel’s mom like she stole from him.

Seriously, that bitch got tapped out so fast, The Flash was like “Waddah’ fawk jus’ happened!?”

During the after party, Beowulf gets laid, gets hammered, and becomes king.  The end.”

Despite the storyteller’s pleas though, inevitably some other loudmouth jackass would demand that the story keep going.

Hoping to satisfy his audience, and finally bring an end to the epic monstrosity he had birthed that evening, the storyteller would ultimately go balls-out with his final act, intentionally jumping the shark for fear of further demands of continuance:

“Okay guys, this is really the end now, so don’t ask for any more story tonight, ‘k?

So a bunch of time passes, and Beowulf’s real old n’shit, right?

He’s still king n’all, but he’s real fuckin’ old is all.

Anyway, everything’s good n’shit, but then A FUCKIN’ DRAGON shows up, and Beowulf’s all like:

“I’m old and the evils of gravity have made me ashamed to disrobe in public anymore, but imma’ kill the FUCKIN’ DRAGON for everybody, ’cause goddamnit; I’m BADASS and that’s what I do.

… Even though the dragon hasn’t really done anything to warrant it’s killi- Goddamnit I’m the KING, and I’m BADASS, so this is fuckin’ happening… Right now!”

With that Beowulf heads down to the FUCKIN’ DRAGON’S house and starts wreckin’ shit like no other while his little buddy Wieglaf hangs back and is all like:

“Oh snap!  Beowulf’s a fuckin’ beast!”

Shit goes wrong though, and Beowulf falls on his knife or some shit, leaving Wieglaf to pwn the FUCKIN’ DRAGON on his own (with a little help from aimbot…).

Anyway, Beowulf dies or some shit, I don’t know; I’m tired let’s go to bed.”

Well, folks, that was my summary/reenactment of the first telling of the Beowulf story.

Hopefully you all enjoyed it, and/or learned something!

 

 

 

 

 

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Few Thoughts on Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend

Ladies and gentleman, let it be known that when it comes to crafting an Ultraman film, there is such a thing as too much action.

Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend clocks in at a trim, 90 minutes in length, with about all but 10 of those minutes being devoted to over-the-top fights and flashy, green-screened eye-candy.

Like most Ultraman and tokusatsu features, Legend’s dialogue consists almost purely of cliches and “isms” of the genre, none of which is spoken at a volume that could be described as anything less than “epic.”

“If we all try our best, anything is possible!”

“Everyone, distract the final monster with your trademark attacks so the brand new, crazy-overpowered guy can go Super Saiyan and land the final blow!”

*Everyone exchanges nods*

“Un!”

*Final monster is killed*

“NOOOO!!!! THIS CAN’T BE! I’M INVINCIBLE!!!!!”

Go ahead, sit down and watch the film with a checklist. If it’s been said before in a kid’s anime, I guarantee you it’s in there somewhere.

Okay, so we’ve established that the film is action-packed, flashy as fuck, poorly written and acted, but what does that all add up to?

Um, not quite, but it shows your thinking.

Basically, the movie amounts to little more than fanservice, and lights with sound.

Not exactly the best description a movie could hope for, but entertaining in its own right.

While movies like Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen desperately plead for their audience’s attention with scene after scene of unfunny comic relief loosely stringing together scenes of robots fighting, Galaxy Legend takes the road less traveled and delivers an experience virtually devoid of dialogue, comical or otherwise, but is instead packed to the brim with action and fighting.

I’ve heard some people say that the Transformers movies were a let down in the sense that the one thing a movie based on the franchise should’ve been able to promise it’s viewers, was scenes of robots fighting.

Despite this, both films in the series largely dropped the ball in delivering on this promise.

Though Galaxy Legend is not a good film, and is definitely not a whole lot better, if at all, than any of the Transformers movies, I will say this:

The makers deserve a pat on the back for actually delivering on what they promised to give us, even if it wasn’t much.

On the inside cover of the DVD case there is a movie program printed on heavy cardstock.

Inside this program, there is a list of 5 key points that the makers of film outlined as it’s finest acheivements:

(Apologies for mistranslation on my part, my Japanese ain’t so hot)

1. Pitting the Ultra Heroes against 100 monsters.

2. Creating a villain born on the M-78 Nebula, Ultraman Belial.

3. Giving Ultraseven a son, Ultraman Zero.

4. Creating an entry in the Ultra series with state of the art visual effects and “hard” action.

5. Creating a story based exclusively around the Ultra characters and the Land of Light.

Despite the overall quality of the movie being pretty “meh”, the guys at Tsuburaya managed to complete every goal they established for themselves.

Oh yeah, and the effects and fights were easily the finest in franchise history.

Well done gentleman, well done.

Sorry for the late post today, got held up by Iron Man 2 and Mother’s Day stuff!

Stop by tomorrow for a massive, scene-by-scene summary of Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend!

Filed under: Movies, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Donate