Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Top 3 Academy Awardees… That Make The Academy Facepalm

Tonight we celebrated the 83rd edition of the Academy Awards.

Predictably, the English thespian uber-beast that is Colin FIRRRTHHHH managed to walk away with a Best Actor award, while Natalie Portman bagged the Best Actress.

While I haven’t seen The King’s Speech or Black Swan, and thusly can’t speak to the performances of these actors; in keeping with the spirit of the Academy Award festivities this evening, I’ve decided to put together a small list of the top 3 biggest FUCK-UPS the Academy saw fit to hand Best Actor awards to.

The following actors all have one thing in common:

While all may have had some bankability/acting merit at some point in their career, somewhere down the road they saw fit to sell-out and participate in some legendarily horrid films, some of which may or may not contain bear suits and bees.

Anyway, let’s get on with the list:

#3. Anna Pacquin

Yikes! 'Guess I can throw away that theory of her "growing into" that gap...

Anna Pacquin managed to charm her way to a Supporting Actress golden statue for her role in 1993’s, The Piano.

She was 11 years old at the time, making it fairly evident that the Academy staff is likely packed to the brim with pedo-faces.

For those that need a visual aid...

Now, given that Ms. Pacquin was very young when she received her Oscar, you’d expect her experience in the craft would improve as she grew older, right?

WRONG.

Sometime after The Piano, Anna Pacquin would go on to have supporting roles in such classics as, She’s All That, the X-Men series, and even the oh so cleverly titled horror anthology film, Trick ‘r Treat.

Also featuring that fat kid from Bad Santa!

While some might argue that Ms. Pacquin has seemingly found new life in her career with her leading role in the cable series True Blood, I would argue that she’s still very much in crap-town in terms of her bankability.

Case in point, she’s been cast in the upcoming (and largely unwanted) Scream 4, which retains almost none of the cast from the previous films.

Typically that’s not a good sign when dealing with (unwanted) sequels, just look what happened with Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd

#2: Sandra Bullock

 

Am I supposed to be turned on? 'Cause I'm really not... Kinda' hungry, but definitely not turned on...

“It was called The Net, with that girl from the bus…” – Frank Costanza, Seinfeld

Sandra Bullock snagged a Best Actress award in 2009 for her “transformative” role in The Blind Side.

While I would argue that the movie itself was actually kind of flat, with Ms. Bullock’s performance doing little to add to it’s mediocrity; the academy saw fit to give her the nod, thusly solidifying her place on this list.

Sandra Bullock had a rather odd journey to the Academy Awards.

Early on she was TV movie tripe like, Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman.

Thought I was kiddin', didin'cha'?

Then she started to move up in the world, landing supporting roles in modern classics like Demolition Man, and Speed.

That’s right, MODERN. CLASSICS.

Then she got greedy and started conning her way into starring roles in horse shit like The Net, and Speed 2: Cruise Control.

 

Pictured: A shitty, and severly dated movie.

Then came the beginning of the new millenium.

Then, came the era of congeniality.

Tens of thousands were killed in the angry riots spawned by the release of the first Miss Congeniality.

Entire nations were felled in the anarchic firestorm brought on by the announcement of the second in the series, Miss Congeniality: Armed and Fabulous.

Given her greedy nature, combined with the relative stagnation of her career since achieving Oscar gold, I would not be surprised if Ms. Bullock had her goons in Hollywood pounding out a script for Miss Congeniality 3: Botoxed and Beautiful, as we speak…

#1: Nicolas Cage

If you're trying to scare me Mr. Cage, you have succeeded...

No list of Hollywood burn-outs could be complete without the inclusion of Nic Cage.

The Cage began his stint in Hollywood from humble beginnings.

Well, if you call being the nephew of one of the most influential and respected directors of all time, “humble.”

Early on, Cage made an impression in Hollywood with his critically acclaimed role as a douche bag in a handful of scenes from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

 

The Birth of a Legend...

Said performance would prove to be an acting formula Mr. Cage would draw from in crafting many of his finer roles.

For several years, Nic Cage would pop up in films, largely in background roles; often times stealing the show with his unearthly powers of scenery-chewing and not-giving-a-fuck.

Then came Moonstruck, a film that received enormous critical acclaim; and very likely would’ve netted Mr. Cage an Oscar had Cher not overwhelmed his performance with her massive aura of FAIL and gender neutrality.

 

WHAT.... IS, IT!!!!!????

Years passed, and Cage, now starting to make waves as the possible “next big thing” in the industry, started churning out half-assed shit like Firebirds, seemingly for the fun of it.

Few realized it at the time, but the man was challenging us to a twisted and bizarre game of his own designs, daring us to take him seriously as an actor one minute, only for him to turn heel and pump out half-assed performances in blockbuster films.

It was a game only he himself could understand, let alone enjoy; and yet for some reason we foolishly kept coming back for more.

As with his acting method founded so long ago on the bleachers of Ridgemont High, Nic Cage; sly son of a bitch that he is, once again found a new devious element to add to his modus operandi…

1995 saw the release of Leaving Las Vegas, the film that would finally give Nic Cage his Best Actor award.

 

Pictured: Nic Cage's acting coaches.

Despite receiving universal acclaim critics worldwide, Nic Cage would later go on record stating that he had no memory of ever having made a film called “Leaving Las Vegas,” claiming that he spent all of ’95 fighting savage women on one of his privately owned islands while wearing a bear-suit.

Regardless of the truth of this matter, Nic Cage would display great proficiency in bear-suit combat tactics in some of his later films, suggesting he may indeed have had prior experience in said activities…

Following his Oscar success, the Nic Cage floodgates of crappiness and truly not-giving-a-fuck would burst wide open.

Amplifying Nic Cage’s powers of “phoning-it-in” and “not-giving-a-damn” 10 fold, Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay would go on to sink their claws into the enigma that is The Cage; casting him in overblown crap-fest after overblown retarded crap-fest for years to come.

 

Urge to kill, RISING...

Con Air, the Gone in 60 Seconds remake, the National Treasure series, horrible movies thrown in our faces cock-first, over and over and over again every summer…

Then, things got worse.

While few could argue that Next, Bangkok Dangerous, and The Sorceror’s Apprentice were *ahem!* “taxing,” even for the sternest of Nic Cage fans; everything seemed to come to a head with 2006’s remake of The Wicker Man.

Awe-inspiringly bad, to the point where few could argue that Nic Cage had finally topped himself in terms of simultaneously not-giving-a-shit and intentionally trying to ruin a film; The Wicker Man was the proverbial dick-slap to the face of the Academy that awarded him as Best Actor of 1995.

It was a facepalm for the ages, and one I believe most in Hollywood relive every time Nic Cage’s face pops up on a movie poster.

With potential gems like Drive Angry and Ghost Rider 2 still regularly showing up on Mr. Cage’s resume in the foreseeable future, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Academy actually tries to take back that award somewhere down the line…

 

 

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The Roast Poster

Pictured: The poster that sidelined me from posting for 2 days.

A few days ago I mentioned that I was unable to get much writing done on account of a photoshop project that my brother asked me to do for him.

The project in question was a poster/flyer for a comedy roast he was going to be doing of a coworker of his.

It took me about 2 days of hard work, but I think I managed to do my brother proud.

At the outset of things, I asked my brother to lay out any particulars or essential elements he had in mind for the poster, to which he responded by telling me to just go nuts and do whatever I felt worked best.

*Sigh* I hate it when people tell me that, ’cause then it leaves me with no one to blame my fuck ups on but myself.

Oh well, I suppose it’s better than someone slinging a laundry list of bullshit demands at you form the outset.

In any case, as you’ll no doubt see above, I did in fact go nuts with this one; hopefully for the better.

Oh yeah, if you’re wondering why the fuck Nicolas Cage is on there, here’s a rundown of my thought process:

On the other hand, does Cameron Fucking Poe really need an explanation?

I wanted to throw something silly and over the top on the poster, y’know;  for effect.

I tapped my temple for a minute or 2, scanning the innumerable pop culture references housed in my skull for something epicly EPIC in terms of over the top-ness.

And wouldn’t you know it, The Wicker Man was the first (and funniest) thing to pop into my head.

That’s why Nic Cage is on the poster.

Another thing mentioning about the poster, is that the badger wearing the samurai helmet is likely going to be the banner/mascot for this blog whenever I decide to start, y’know; paying for it.

My brother suggested that I take the time to make a personal stamp or mark for myself for promotional purposes, with his initial suggestion being something along the lines of a badger face on the M. Bison hat in place of the skull emblem.

Pictured: A shitty cosplay M. Bison hat.

While I was totally on board for the Bison Badger emblem idea, (after all, we are brothers) I ended up doing the samurai helmet thing instead ’cause I felt the “Azn” part of the blog title should be represented as much as the “badger” part.

Thanks for the suggestion bro’, got thinkin’ all big n’shit now.

Anyway, in case you are truly fuckin’ dense or something, the names and faces on the poster have been changed in the interest of preserving the subject’s privacy/modesty.

Hope everyone likes the poster as much as I do!

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Thoughts On Tron Legacy

I went to see Tron: Legacy in theaters today.

No, I didn’t watch it in 3D, and no; I was not at all excited to see it.

The original Tron was a movie that I never really had any sort of love for.

Sure, it was an astounding technical/visual achievement for it’s time, but that doesn’t mean it was all that good a movie.

To be perfectly honest, even as a kid I found the original Tron to be a muddled, confusing, and downright boring film.

“Boring” is a powerful word when used to describe a film consisting entirely of flashing lights and pretty colors.

As I sat in the theater today, I couldn’t help but feel that this Tron for the new generation; seemed to share many of the problems of it’s predecessor.

The film wasn’t bad, it was just sort of mediocre; and horribly paced to boot.

If ever there was a film that lost it’s way in the second half, it would be Tron: Legacy.

The basic plot of the film involves Jeff Bridges’ character from the previous film, Kevin Flynn; becoming trapped inside the digital realm of his own design, The Grid.

While doing whatever the fuck he does in there, he creates a digital program copy of himself, named Clu; and instills within him a “simple” directive of creating a perfect world.

As seemingly all computer-to-man exchanges seem to turn out, Clu ends up obeying this command to a fault, going so far as to usurp his creators position of power to achieve his goal.

It’s a fairly interesting set-up, that sadly is introduced to us far too late in the game to garner any significance to the audience; nor does it amount to any sort of dramatic pay-off.

Make no mistake: Tron is not a writer’s film.

Anyway, as you may have guessed, the little tidbit of the plot I just gave you is not something made apparent to the audience right off the bat.

Instead, we get treated to an introductory segment wherein our would-be protagonist, (he kind of gets shoved to the side… As does everyone else once THE PLOT gets dropped on us in the second act) Kevin Flynn’s son, Sam, (Garrett Hedlund) shows off for the 3D cameras through a series of EXTREME activities.

Truth be told, I found myself snickering through all of this, (as well as most of the film) as I couldn’t help but feel that it was the filmmaker’s way of justifying Sam’s physical prowess during the action sequences in the grid.

We see him ride his motorcycle, WRECKLESSLY, thereby showing he can drive a light cycle.

We see him do some hood jumping over cop cars that looks curiously like free-running, showing he’s not a feeb.

And on top of that, we see him do some fancy computer hacking, showing he is indeed computer literate enough to solve the mystery needed to START THE FUCKING MOVIE.

The reason I found this humorous, was the fact that I kept wanting them to show us a scene of him playing some Ultimate Frisbee in the park, y’know; to justify his awesomeness in Discs of Tron.

I’m jus’ sayin’, if you’re gonna’ take the time to cover your bases so artificially, you might as well cover them all.

Just so we can all say I talked about the plot, (Tron has a plot?  Since when?) the whole thing starts out sentimental and heartfelt, then it turns into a chaotic mess of (decent) action scenes, then THE PLOT comes crashing down, stopping the film’s momentum dead in it’s tracks.

From there we lose any sort of affinity we might have had for any of the characters, Michael Sheen acts faggy, and the whole thing ends with an anti-climactic bang.

Without exagerrating, the story progression felt like it was written by a 5 year old with A.D.D.

People, places, and essential plot devices seem to manifest at will, all in an attempt to streamline the process of getting the characters from point A to point B.

Despite the convenient nature of The Grid’s layout in regards to the central plot, it amazes me that somehow the film is still boring, and manages to throw us in the doldrums for more than half it’s running time.

Rest assured, most of the breadcrumbs of dramatic tension that the film attempts to sprinkle in the early goings are either ignored, or… No, actually they were all pretty much ignored.

Anyway, from an acting standpoint, I felt that everyone did alright with what the script had to offer.

Jeff Bridges was “fun,” I guess.

His retro dude-isms were decidedly out of place, and therefore worthy of a smile or 2, but for the most part his character, along with most everyone else; felt anemic and devoid of any real character.

Even so, Jeff Bridges has an inherent inviting aura of gravitas to him, so it’s hard for me to say anything bad about his performance.

I will say this though:

The digital mask used to portray Clu as a young Jeff Bridges was a pretty decent likeness, especially in profile and from over the shoulder, but the lips of the damn thing just looked wrong to me.

A friend of mine and I were joking that the “Digital Bridges” bore a resemblance to Bill Maher, such that we both felt Maher should’ve been cast in the part.

It was most apparent when he was speaking, particularly when yelling, (watch out for the speech sequence, he looks like shit…) but otherwise it was a decent attempt.

Good try, but we haven’t breached the uncanny valley just yet folks.

I feel it’s worth mentioning, that Michael Sheen will likely go down in history as the foremost authority on playing faggy Brits.

Seriously man, take one look at the man’s imdb, and you’re likely to find like 20 fuckin’ listings of him playing “Faggy Brit #4.”

While it may sound like I’m making fun of him, (I am) one should also note that Sheen’s just happens to be the only real notable performance in the entire film.

Watch out for all the cut-backs to him during the nightclub sequence, his posing and dancing were truly inspired.

And faggy.

Moving on, coming into Tron, Garrett Hedlund was an unknown item to me.

Despite having just seen him as one of the lead actors in a multi-million dollar film, I have to say, the man is still a nobody in my book.

‘Nuff said.

Olivia Wilde’s performance in the film was decently entertaining, bearing a wide-eyed inquisitiveness that made her a bit more endearing than most characters; however her place in the plot was somewhat lost to me.

She was apparently of vital importance to the story, as well as to the human world outside The Grid, however the explanation as to why felt inadequate.

Oh well, maybe I just couldn’t hear it over the FUCKING DAFT PUNK MUSIC!

That’s right folks, Daft Punk did the music for Tron: Legacy!

Not only that, they’re also in the fucking movie!

Did I mention Daft Punk did the music for Tron: Legacy!?

In case you couldn’t tell, the above statements were an example of sarcasm on the part of the Azn Badger.

Daft Punk’s score for Tron: Legacy is actually quite good.

There are some fairly inspired themes, particularly in the film’s quieter moments, and the whole score gels well with the aesthetic of the movie quite nicely.

My only real issue with the soundtrack, is probably more the fault of the editor and the director than Daft Punk, and that’s the fact that, like Inception; I felt the soundtrack held too large a presence in the film.

Much like anything in this world, if you pollute your film with too much music, no matter how beautiful; it will end up being detrimental in the long run.

Anyway, let’s get to the one part of this review that I’m sure everyone is here for:

The visuals.

Tron: Legacy is a very handsome film.

The artistic design is striking and beautiful, as well as imaginative and inventive to a fault.

The color palette is decidedly bleak for the most part, with black (as opposed to white in the first film) being a constant in most of the designs, and other colors being used as a highlight.

Rest assured, in classic Star Wars fashion: Red = Bad, Blue = Good.

To the credit of the digital artists, I found myself genuinely at a loss when it came to determining which props and sets were real, and which were digital.

Unlike in George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels, wherein the sets bore an artificiality to them that made the actors “pop” out from them, many of the railings, floors, and walls in The Grid were lit/rendered with such attention to detail and texture, that I honestly couldn’t tell if they were real or fake.

Speaking of texture, I want to thank the design team of Tron: Legacy for going the extra mile to design actual costumes for virtually all of the characters in the movie.

You all probably know how I feel about the upcoming Green Lantern movie, and how silly the digital Lantern suit looks to me; so it comes as a surprise to me that Tron would contain actual physical costumes, and quite good ones at that.

Everyone sort of looks like Dark Knight Batman/ninjas in The Grid, and while that doesn’t really do it for me personally, I have to say; they were stunningly well-designed.

On that note, the whole film has a very cohesive look to it that was clearly meant to reflect the orderliness of a computer system, however the metaphor seems to have stopped there.

Many of the design choices, while all wonderful to look at, are a little bit silly; even by sci-fi/fantasy standards.

In the world of The Grid, there are drunk hobo “programs,” (in the form of people wandering the “streets”) and there are dance clubs.

The streets of The Grid are perpetually covered in puddles of “water,” and programs carry umbrellas to shield themselves from “rain.”

Not only that, planes in The Grid show a tendency to stall when pushed too hard.

They’re little things, I know; but purposeful oversights to an imagined world’s continuity for the sake of art always make me giggle just a little.

In summary:

Tron: Legacy is a fantastical visual experience, just don’t expect any sort of depth to it… Or any entertainment value above the level of “mediocre.”

Well designed and imagined, the film is simply lacking in the one area that usually matters most in any film:

Writing.

That being said, if you do go see Tron: Legacy, make sure to look out for shades of Star Wars in Jeff Bridges costuming, as well as some of the events during the films final act.

When Jeff Bridges told his son to hop on the gun of their escape craft, I nearly cracked up waiting for him to tell the kid, “Don’t get cocky!” while he was shooting down TIE fighters, er, I mean “Tron Planes.”

Anyway, thanks for reading!

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Demon’s Souls: Conquered

*Ahem!* I win...

*WARNING! SPOILER ALERT PERTAINING TO END GAME EVENTS.  NO SPECIFICS, BUT IF YOU REALLY WANT THE END-GAME TO BE A SURPRISE, TURN BACK NOW!*

Last night was easily one of the worst of my life.

Don’t expect this to happen on this blog all too often, but I’m sorry to say that my experience of being stuck in a snowy traffic jam in the Seattle area for 6 hours straight was horrible to the point in which I don’t think I want to share the details.

Seriously, it was that bad.

Anyway, as a result of getting home from work at around 11:30 PM, as well has having my body be a complete wreck as a result of the harsh cold and tight confines of my car, I decided that I simply could not allow myself to go to work today.

Despite this, Amazon saw fit to penalize me for doing so; even going so far as to call me in the morning to chastise me for my actions.

Though I love buying products the company, working for Amazon gives me an insight into the inner workings of their ground-level management that really leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Oh well, it’s a job, and that’s more than a lot of people have at the moment, so I’m thankful.

Moving on, as any self-respecting survivor of a 6 hour traffic jam would do, I decided to use my self-enforced day off from work to play Demon’s Souls.

No way was I gonna’ go outside today, even to pick up a copy of The Expendables.

I’ll do that tomorrow…

*Ahem!* Anyway, in short; I managed to beat Demon’s Souls today.

Much like the rest of the game’s limited story sequences, the end of the game was quite flat, and very much anti-climactic.

Truth be told, it had been so long since I had started the game (just over 20 hours of game time) that I honestly didn’t even remember who the last boss was, or why I was fighting him for that matter.

In either case, the last boss was pathetic.

Like, “he couldn’t hit me if he tried,” pathetic.

On one level, this was quite disappointing, as many of the earlier boss fights in the game were quite epic, and fairly inspired in how the actual battles were carried out.

At the same time though, as I recall bits and pieces of the supposed “story” of Demon’s Souls, (seriously, there’s not much to be found) I’m starting to understand that the final boss of the game was supposed to be a pitiful creature, to the point where it’s ironic that it serves as the game’s final challenge.

Demon’s Souls was an excellent game.

While it indeed has flaws, as pretty much any game does; it benefits from an indefinable element in it’s gameplay and presentation, a “hook” that serves to draw in a certain demographic of gamers.

As it turns out, I fit pretty well into that particular category of gamer, as I enjoyed my time with Demon’s Souls.

In regards to it’s vaunted, and supposedly impenetrable difficulty level, I have this to say:

The game is indeed quite difficult, but only if you’re bull-headed and refuse to adhere to the “rules” of the game.

The gameplay of Demon’s Souls is methodical and rigid, meaning the game is difficult; but everything has a rhythm and a weakness, so it’s up to you the player to determine these factors before charging headlong into things.

Hell, I game in practically reverse order, resulting in most of the enemies being far too powerful for me to handle most of the time, and yet in the end, I managed to get past them all through careful planning and observation.

As you play Demon’s Souls, just remind yourself:

The game is challenging, not unfair.

If you get pissed and break your controller when you die in a game, then I’m sorry, Demon’s Souls is probably not for you.

Seriously, controllers are what, $50?

You’d be bankrupt in a week.

If however, you take every death in the game as a sign of your own failings, an indication that you could’ve played better or smarter, then chances are you’ll have a lot of fun with Demon’s Souls.

Now that I’m done with my little advertisement for the game, I feel I should take a moment to talk about some of the random things that stuck out to me in my first playthrough of Demon’s Souls:

I was a little upset at the very limited selection of armors I ran across in the game.

While it’s probably my fault moreso than the game’s, I found that as a Knight, I only ended up changing my armor maybe twice throughout the entirety of the game.

Maybe it’s just because I selected a Knight, who just happens to start out with some the better starting equipment, but I felt myself getting bored of constantly finding new weapons and equipment, but never finding an armor that was good enough to switch over to.

Seriously man, I ended up beating the game wearing Mirdan armor, something the Temple Knight starts the game out with if I recall.

To me, that’s the equivalent of watching a version of the Iron Man movie where Tony Stark remains in the original Iron Man suit throughout the entire movie.

That’s that just plain sad.

Another quick thing, from a gameplay standpoint, those fuckin’ dragons were truly fucking pathetic.

Seriously man, they’re not enemies, or bosses for that matter, they’re fuckin’ scenery.

Destructible scenery that can, and will; wreck your shit 20 times before you figure out how to get past them.

I found one of those dragons on a list of 2009’s worst boss fights, and I can honestly say, whoever wrote that list is certainly justified in doing so.

Don’t ask me how I found the patience to actually kill those motherfuckers, but I did; and that’s largely the reason why I’m writing this “I beat Demon’s Souls, quick everyone, suck my golden cock!” article today instead of a week ago.

Seriously man, that traffic jam last night might’ve taken 6 hours of my life, but I’ll be damned if those dragons didn’t take at least an hour between the 2 of them.

Other than that, I think that’s about all I’ve got to say about Demon’s Souls for now.

Now that I’m done with the game, I think I’m gonna’ move on to something radically different.

With Metal Gear Solid 4 as my first PS3 game, followed by Demon’s Souls, I think it’s time I played something besides a 3rd person action game.

My gut is telling me to try Valkyria Chronicles, but I’m also leaning towards something a little more mindless like UFC: Undisputed 2010 (*Gasp!* but Azn Badger, I thought you hated the UFC!?).

At the same time though, who knows; maybe I’ll surprise even myself and hop back on the Final Fantasy wagon, of which I’ve been off ever since VIII.

There’s a lot of great games out there for the PS3, old and new; so feel free to let me know what I should look into.

Anyway, happy snow day to me; hopefully everyone drove safe this evening!

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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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Best MAN!!! #4

Well, we’ve reached the halfway point in The Best MAN series.

Yes, I am aware that there are in fact 10 games in the linear Mega Man series, however; as someone who has yet to play #9 or 10, I don’t feel qualified to determine who The Best MAN for those games might be.

Oh well, that still leaves 8 other games for me to work with.

Speaking of which, let’s get down to the matter at hand: Mega Man 4.

Awkward composition, but clearly an improvement over previous covers. Mega Man's face looks kind of pedo though...

Mega Man 4 was the first game in the series to feature the Mega Buster charge shot.

Little known fact: Mega Man's anus is located in his left hand.

This simple change in the mechanics of the gameplay would profoundly effect the Mega Man series all the way until Mega Man 8.

The charge shot allowed the player to power up their standard bullets to form a singular, larger and more powerful shot that dealt approximately 3 times as much damage as a normal shot.

While this made combating the basic enemy fodder a somewhat simpler affair, the charge shot ultimately caused the boss fights to take on a more methodical pace than was customary for the series.

In fighting the robot master bosses, Mega Man’s standard bullets were de-powered to the point in which they only did one unit of damage per hit.

In addition to this, the duration of the invincibility frames given to the bosses (and Mega Man himself) upon being struck, were increased significantly, presumably for the sake of giving the player time to charge another Mega Buster shot.

The following is an example of the horrors of invincibility frames:

In essence, the introduction of the Mega Buster forced the player to pick their shots, rather than try to overwhelm their enemies as was possible in the previous games.

Mega Man 4 also introduced a handful of new characters to the series canon.

Flip-Top Eddie, Dr. Light’s walking briefcase, made his first appearance in Mega Man 4, showing up to give the player a random item during certain stages.

Also, the game featured the first appearance of Dr. Cossack and his daughter Kalinka.

Pictured: Dr. Cossack and Kalinka.

The Russian, and therefore evil; Dr. Cossack serves as the games’ main antagonist until the latter stages of the game when it is revealed that Dr. Wily kidnapped Kalinka, thereby forcing Cossack to do his bidding.

That evil son of a bitch...

Mega Man 4 was a pretty solid addition to the series.

The Mega Buster represented a major change in the series, one that I still can’t decide was for the better or worse.

The game was very difficult, arguably one of the more difficult entries in the NES series of Mega Man games.

The soundtrack was very good, while taking on a dramatically different sound from it’s predecessors, not in composition, but in MIDI instrumentation.

Give this remix of the iconic Mega Man 2 Title Theme a listen to see what I mean:

That’s enough about that crap though, let’s get down to who’s The Best MAN!

Well, that would have to be:

Pharoah Man

PHARRRRRROOOOOOOOAAAAHHHH MAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNN!!!!!

Really, was there any doubt on this one?

Mega Man 4 was by no means a perfect Mega Man game, however one thing it did better than most was the designs of it’s 8 robot masters.

AWESOME!!!!

Consequently, the designs for the 8 bosses were not designed by Capcom’s in-house artists, but from the results of a public mail-in contest.

Thank you creative people of Japan for giving us the awesome character designs of Mega Man 4!

No wait, I take that back...

Anyway, despite the general awesomeness of MOST OF the MAN designs in Mega Man 4, none can hold a candle to Pharoah Man in the looks department.

I mean fuck, look at him!

He’s got the Pharoah headdress, the MC Hammer/Vanilla Ice-esque pointy shoulders,

That's right, The Azn Badger is a survivor of the dark time known as "The 90's."

an awesome grill covering his mouth,

Wheeljack: You Are Remembered.

and his color scheme is both intricate and iconic.

You knew I'd find a way to slip Seinfeld in there, didn't you?

Hey, Dive Man and Skull Man might be cool, but shit son, HE’S A FUCKING PHAROAH.

You guys ain't got shit on THE PHAROAH.

Despite Pharoah Man’s landslide victory in terms of looks, it takes more than looks to be The Best MAN.

Fortunately, Pharoah Man’s got pretty much every base covered.

His stage is fun and has one of the better background tracks in the game.

His weapon is badass and is chargeable just like Mega Man’s Mega Buster.

"I AM PHAROAH, AND THIS, IS MY KINGDOM!!!!!!"

Not only that, but he’s a tough customer and puts up one helluva’ fight when you finally get around to facing him…

Flash Stopper = MEGA RAPE.

Provided you don’t have the Flash Stopper.

You use the Flash Stopper and he’s just a pussy like everyone else.

Seriously, he can’t even move if you Flash Stopper his ass.

For real, any fool could whoop him like a little bitch if they used the Flash Stopper.

Pictured: Any Fool.

We’ll just forget about that for now though and honor Pharoah Man as The Best MAN that he is.

Seriously though: LIKE A LITTLE BITCH.

Filed under: Games, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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