Sunday, July 22, 2012

Portal 2 Marriage Proposal

Gary Hudston wanted to propose to his girlfriend in a special way.  And the obvious choice was to contract a high-level designer to make him a custom Portal 2 level, where GLaDOS pops the question.  Developer's website

Once Valve heard about the project, they authorized GLaDOS voice actor, Ellen McLain, to produce the custom audio track for the level.

The result is pretty awesome.

It amazes me that people still question what the best game development company is.

... And for no other reason than I love this song, here's the video for 'Still Alive' from the end of Portal 1.

Well, I'm off to replay the Portal games... again.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Breaking of the Batman (A Brief Look at Knightfall and Bane in Batman Comics)

I've not yet seen 'The Dark Knight Rises'.  I'll probably end up waiting a week to avoid the crowds, the midnight opening ugliness notwithstanding.

That said, I've tried to avoid spoilers and really any info on the movie altogether.  Knowing the comics, I probably know where they are going to go with the plot, but I don't want to go into the theater certain of the outcome.  After all, Bane was only really features in one storyline in Batman.  The Knightfall storyline.  Bane was smarter and stronger than Batman, and held a major vendetta.  He was a force to be reckoned with.  I hope they capture this in the film.

Christopher Nolan can obviously do whatever he'd like with the story.  He's been amazing thus far.  However, I am hoping he keeps in the major end element of the Knightfall storyline... The Breaking of the Batman.

The culmination of the Knightfall storyline in the comics.  Batman #497.  Over the course of Knightfall, Bane orchestrated attacks from all of Batman's major adversaries to drain Batman both physically and mentally, culminating in Bane's ultimate defeat of Batman... breaking Batman's back and putting him out of commission.  It laid open Batman's vulnerabilities and self-doubts about being the Caped Crusader.  Made him a more human character once his mortality was exposed, and helped to shape the Batman of modern comics.

Growing up in the 90's when comics were a HUGE deal, this was a major event.  I still consider this as a key point in the Batman mythos.  And I consider this issue to be a classic cover in Batman comics.

I'd love to see at least an homage to this panel in the movie.

Anyone else out there read the comics?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Formally Announced: A look at Marvel vs DC Film strategy

This announcement really shouldn't surprise anyone who saw 'The Avengers'.  The snippet of Thanos at the end of that film signaled Marvel's intent to push into the "Cosmic Marvel" universe.

The choice of this team may be a little surprising however.  The Guardians have been in existence since 1969, but didn't get its own comic title until 1990.  And there have been many different members of the team since its inception.  The most recent of which (seen below) seems to be the lineup set to appear in the film.  I think it's funny Marvel didn't choose a more recognizable name by going with Captain Marvel, or Adam Warlock, or Nova, or Quasar.    

Official concept art for the film revealed at Comic Con

Those with keen eyes may notice a tree and a raccoon in that picture.  They would be correct.  Two members of the Guardians are Groot, a living tree, and Rocket Raccoon, a raccoon.  

To me, this illustrates the wide gap between the Marvel/Disney partnership and the DC/Warner Brothers partnership.  We will see a movie featuring tree and raccoon superheroes no one has ever heard of before we see a big-sceen Flash or Wonder Woman.  I could go up to nearly anyone on the street and they would be able to recognize Flash and Wonder Woman, and probably be able to give me a basic idea of their powers.  Yet the only characters DC seems willing to adapt for the big screen are Batman and Superman (currently filming another reboot).  And so far their other attempt at a major hero (Green Lantern) was a failure as a comic adaptation and movie both.  I can't stand the amorphous space blob villain idea.  It never works story-wise and looks lame on film.  (I'm looking at you Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - Note: not a Marvel Studios film)

And Marvel to this point has had several successful character franchises (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America) where DC/Warner Bros has only had one (The Goddam Batman).  

It's disappointing.  It seems like Warner Bros. is afraid that any characters outside of Batman and Superman won't have a market.  Meanwhile, Marvel/Disney is willing to roll the dice with a C-list team and will probably find success.  Doubly disappointing since 7 times out of 10 when I go to read a superhero comic (trade paperbacks because I'm cheap and impatient), it's DC.

Marvel also announced dates and titles for Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Ant-Man.  All but Iron Man 3 are years away, but Marvel clearly has a plan.  It is rumored that DC will be making a Lobo adaptation with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.  But, the project has been stuck in development hell since 2009... Lobo.  Now I like Lobo just fine, I just cant figure out why they would go with Lobo over a more well known character.

 But hey, I still have high hopes for Superman: Man of Steel.

Thomas Jane Reprises his Role as The Punisher in Fan Film

Whose fan film?  Why, Tom Jane's own, of course.

Tom Jane played The Punisher in the eponymous 2004 film.  The film was not well received, but mostly for the writing, not Tom Jane's performance.  That and it's hard to take John Travolta seriously as a villain.  But there were some good scenes.

Jane was not asked back to the role in the follow-up film 'Punisher: War Zone'.  It should be noted that the first film was not a Marvel Studios film, while the second was.  That probably payed a role in the casting choices.

Regardless, Tom Jane seemed to genuinely like the character.  He showed this recently by releasing a short 'fan-made' film called 'Dirty Laundry'.  I put that in quotes simply because the short is very high quality (except for the special effects) and stars both Tom Jane and Ron MFing Perlman!

Jane on the film:
"I wanted to make a fan film for a character I've always loved and believed in - a love letter to Frank Castle & his fans. It was an incredible experience with everyone on the project throwing in their time just for the fun of it. It's been a blast to be a part of from start to finish -- we hope the friends of Frank enjoy watching it as much as we did making it."
Check it out:

Maybe he can convince Marvel Studios to give him another crack at the role.  

I'm on board.

After all, he just wants his kids back

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Game of Thrones Season 3 Casting Choices Announced

Emilia Clarke and Rose Leslie at the Game of Thrones Comic Con Panel

Several new casting choices for HBO's Games of Thrones were announced at Comic Con on Friday.  These choices will appear in season 3 of the show, which is currently shooting, and will begin on March 13, 2013.  Some of the bigger characters cast were The Queen of Thorns, The Blackfish, Meera and Jojen Reed, and Beric Dondarrion.

The biggest name out of the new cast is Diana Rigg, who will be playing Olenna Redwyne, the Queen of Thorns and matriarch of the House Tyrell.  Rigg is best known for playing Emma Peel in the British 60's TV series 'The Avengers' (not to be confused with the Marvel comic).  She seems a good choice for the role, which will require the portrayal of sharp wit and cunning.

Rigg today

Rigg in her 'Avengers' days. Yowza

Another recognizable name is Mackenzie Crook, who will be playing the role of Orell, the eagle-skinchanging wildling.  You probably know him better as Gareth from the UK 'The Office'.  He also played in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.  Seems a good choice for the wildling look.

What are you looking at?

Clive Russell will The Blackfish, Bryndon Tully, well-known knight and loving uncle of Cat Stark.  Russell is an experienced actor who has recently played in the Sherlock Holmes films.  He was also in the Antonio Banderas movie 'The 13th Warrior', which I loved.  That always seemed like an underrated gem.  He should wear the role well.

a gruff, scruff Clive Russell

Thoros of Myr, the red priest, will be played by Paul Kaye.  Flaming sword and all.  Think a less serious, male version of Melissandre.
Paul Kaye

Going along with Thoros, is Beric Dondarrion, the Lightning Lord.  Like the energizer bunny he keeps going, and going, and going... He will be played by Richard Dormer (No relation to Natalie Dormer, who currently plays Margery Tyrell).  Always likes this character.
Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion

The Reed siblings will play a large role in Bran's development, so their casting choices are key.  Meera Reed will be played by Ellie Kendrick.  She has played in 'Upstairs Downstairs' and the BBC miniseries 'The Diary of Anne Frank'.  I like this choice.  My only real gripe is that she doesn't have green eyes, one of the key features of the Reeds.

Ellie Kendrick

Jojen Reed, the character who teaches Bran about greenseeing, will be played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster.  You probably know him as the little boy in the movies 'Love Actually' and 'Nanny McPhee'.  He's a bit older now, and should play off of Bran well in the mentor role.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster

All in all a good job casting the roles.  The production staff hasn't really let me down yet as most of the actors chosen for their respective roles so far have been fantastic.

Now all I have to do is wait 8 months for some new episodes :(

Friday, July 13, 2012

Neil Gaiman to Return to 'The Sandman', Vertigo Comics

The Cure's Robert Smith, er... I mean The Sandman aka Dream aka Morpheus

Announced at Vertigo's Comic Con panel, Neil Gaiman will be returning to pen a new Sandman prequel, chronicling the events that led up to Morpheus (the titular character) being captured in Preludes and Nocturnes.  From Gaiman:
“When I finished writing The Sandman, there was one tale still untold: The story of what had happened to Morpheus to allow him to be so easily captured in The Sandman #1, and why he was returned from far away, exhausted beyond imagining, and dressed for war ...It was a story that we discussed telling for Sandman‘s 20th anniversary… but the time got away from us. And now, with Sandman‘s 25th anniversary year coming up, I’m delighted, and nervous, that that story is finally going to be told.”

Gaiman's address from the con

Gaiman wrote 'The Sandman' for 75 issues from 1989 to 1996, and it remains one of his defining works.  'The Sandman' follows Morpheus, the anthropomorphic personification of dreams, as he sets about to restore his kingdom and realm.  It's basically a dark fantasy/horror story with Morpheus serving as the tragic hero who must change his ways and make up for his past sins, or die.  

Since his run on Sandman, Gaiman has become a hot commodity across all entertainment media; from penning well received novels (American Gods), to having his works adapted for film (Coraline) to writing an episode for Doctor Who.  But his work on 'The Sandman' may still be his best.

I actually heard this news today from my local comic shop.  I had just read Preludes and Nocturnes, the first graphic novel of the series two weeks ago and coincidentally was there to buy book two, The Doll's House.  The cashier let me know as I was at the register.  Suppose it helps to keep up on news from the Comic Con if you deal in comics.  It's been a very enjoyable read so far and I hear it only gets better.  So I'm pretty pumped for this announcement.

The new mini series is scheduled for 2013.

I better get reading so I can catch up.

But seriously

Heck I'll throw Edward Scissorhands in there too for completeness

Bonus fun fact: Neil Gaiman is currently married to Amanda Palmer, formerly of the Dresden Dolls and currently just an awesome musician and performer

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Everybody Loves Hypnotoad: 2012 Comic Con Hypnotoad Exclusive Revealed

Shrouded in mystery until preview night, Kid Robot's Hypnotoad figure was finally revealed!

The description from the Kidrobot blog:

All Glory to the Hypnotoad! Meet Hypnotoad, beloved hypnotizing amphibian from Matt Groening’s celebrated television series, Futurama, now stylized in 4.5 inches of vinyl. Now, you too can win a pet contest. Don’t have sheep? Herd your cats, because his eyes really pulsate with changing colors. How? Toy magic. So it’s like having the real Hypnotoad? Nope, it’s a toy! Hypnotoad pre-releases at Kidrobot Booth #4529 at San Diego Comic Con, retailing for $39.95 US, and at Kidrobot stores,, and select retailers worldwide beginning August 2. Droning hum not included.

I want some of that toy magic.

If there were only one con exclusive I could get my hands on, it'd probably be this one.  Luckily it's only a pre-release, not a true con-exclusive, so I might be able to find one on it's August 2nd wide-release.  

All Glory to Hypnotoad

Never, Never has this meme been more applicable:

Sneak Peek of Michonne in Action from Upcoming Season 3 of The Walking Dead

After her badass, samurai sword-wielding entrance at the end of season 2's finale of The Walking Dead, what can we expect from Michonne in season 3?

More samurai sword-wielding badassery, for one.

The popular character from the comics will be played by actress Danai Gurari, from HBO's Treme.  Season 3 of TWD comes back with 16 new episodes in October.  Expect a new setting (the prison) and new characters.

Danai Gurari as Michonne

Here's a sneak peek of Michonne in action from season 3 of The Walking Dead.  It also features a little behind the scenes on set with actor Steven Yeun, who plays Glenn.  The set stuff was nice to see.  Seems like maybe they got back a little of that slashed budget that hurt the production last season.

The clip is from the aftershow 'The Talking Dead' hosted by The Nerdist's Chris Hardwick.  You should check out that show.  It usually features interviews with showrunners and celeb fans of the comic/show and gives a nice little perspective on the recent episodes.

The clip:

Can't wait, the whole prison saga is my favorite plotline from the comics.

And expect more news about The Walking Dead to break from Comic Con in the coming days.

You guys getting a little excited yet?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Steam Summer Sale 2012 Bundles Leaked

Each of the last two years Steam has started its massive summer sale the last weekend in June.  This year it is late in coming, but Valve have confirmed that the sale will still be happening.

Here's a list of the confirmed bundles that will be available.

  • Day 1: Anomaly Warzone Earth, The Baconing, Cave Story+, EDGE, Lone Survivor.
  • Day 2: Botanicula, E.Y.E, Oil Rush, Splice, Universe Sandbox,
  • Day 3: Bit Trip Beat, Braid, Bunch of Heroes, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, Runespell Overture,
  • Day 4: A Valley Without Wind, Atom Zombie Smasher, Blocks that Matter, Sanctum, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP,
  • Day 5: Audio Surf, Gemini Rue, Greed Corp, Tiny Bang Story, Ys: The Oath in Felghana
  • Day 6: Awesome, Defcon, Space Chem, Ticket to Ride, Trauma
  • Day 7: Avadon, Dungeons of Dredmor, Qube, Vessel, Zombie Driver
  • Day 8: Demolition Inc, Hoard, Sol Exodus, Swords and Soldiers HD, Wings of Prey,
  • Day 9: Capsized, Jamestown, Revenge of the Titans, VVVVVV, Zeno Clash
  • Day 10: All Zombies Must Die, Beat Hazard, Bit trip Runner, Eufloria, Machinarium
  • Day 11: Hydrophobia, Orion: Dino Beatdown, Star Ruler, Waveform, World of Goo
Other confirmed bundles:
  • 1C Collection Pack
  • Adam's Venture Complete Bundle Retail
  • Anno 2070 Pack
  • Batman Arkham Asylum, Batman Arkham City and Batman Gotham City Imposters Bundle
  • Bethesda Collection (BRINK, Fallout New Vegas, Skyrim, Hunted)
  • Bioshock Franchise Pack
  • BIT.TRIP.BEAT Bundle
  • Carpe Fulger Bundle (Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale, Chantelise, Fortune Summoners)
  • Civilization Collection
  • Command and Conquer Franchise
  • Dawn of War Franchise Pack
  • Dead Island Complete
  • Duke Nukem Bundle
  • Foreign Legion Bundle
  • Kalypso Collection (Tropico, Jagged Alliance, Airline Tycoon, etc)
  • Majesty Franchise
  • Paradox Collection (Magicka + dlcs, Mount and Blade, etc)
  • Pendulo Adventure Pack
  • Railworks 3 - Summer Sale Collection
  • Red Orchestra Franchise Pack (ROW)
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Bundle
  • Saints Row: The Third Franchise Pack
  • Sniper Elite Franchise Pack
  • Square Hit Collection (Hitman, Tomb Raider, Just Cause 2, Deus Ex, Deus Ex Human Revolution, Quantum Conundrum, Thief)
  • Stardock Collection Pack
  • Strategy First Complete Pack
  • Sword of the Stars Franchise
  • THQ Collection (Dawn of War, Warhammer, Stalker, Nexuiz, Darksiders, Metro 2033, etc)
  • Total War: Shogun 2 Pack
  • Victoria Franchise
  • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Pack
  • Wings of Prey
So get ready, and save up.  Keep in mind these won't be the only bundles or games available... just the ones that leaked.

I'm still working through the Indie Humble Bundle games myself, but it never hurts to shelve a couple of good titles for a hot price.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

My Two Biggest Suspension of Disbelief Issues in Amazing Spider-Man (Spoiler Free)

Just saw 'Amazing Spider-Man'.  A perfectly cromulent summer popcorn flick.  I'm not going to get into a big comparison between this and Sam Raimi's first Spider-Man movie.  All I'll say on that front is that CGI action scenes have come a long way in 10 short years.  Those fight scenes were great.  I also wanted to say that Emma Stone has never looked hotter.  Something about the fact that Gwen Stacy was always wearing knee-high socks/boots in every scene just did it for me... but I digress...

(Probably the poorest example from the film, but the only photo example I could find)

There were only two things in the movie that really took me out of the experience and ruined my suspension of disbelief:

1.  Peter Parker uses 'Bing' as his search engine.

Never in a million years will I accept the fact that anyone under the age of 35, much less a science nerd, would use Bing as a search engine.  I know it's a minor thing, and they probably got a lot of money for the product placement, but it was just totally unrealistic.  And I know how ridiculous that sounds for a super hero movie.

2.  Peter talks to Gwen on his cell phone whilst in a sewer with perfect reception.

There are some rooms in my own house where I can't get decent cell phone reception.  Yet I'm supposed to believe that Ol' Web Head can get 5 bars in an underground concrete tunnel?  Ridiculous.  

Other random thoughts:

-  Lizard looked fine on film, not cartoony or anything.  But he did look waaaaaaay more like Killer Croc from DC comics than Lizard from Marvel. 
- I liked that they eschewed the organic web-shooters in favor of the mechanical versions.  More true to the comics.  But, I kept waiting for a mid-swing empty web cartridge that never came.
- I'd love to see high schoolers portrayed by actors under the age of 25 sometime. 
 - Sally Field was fine as Aunt May.  But it bugged me way more than it should have that she didn't have white/gray hair.

Overall I suppose I mostly had a bit of deja vu watching this movie.  It was understandably similar to the first Raimi Spider-Man, but had enough differences to make it seem fresh.  Less campy than the earlier takes, although the Stan Lee cameo was in there.  Definitely had some major plot holes in the sense of dropped plot points. I guess I want to say it felt like I had just seen this movie.  10 years was probably too soon to reboot.  But hey, you've gotta do what you've gotta do to hang onto those valuable character rights.

What did you guys think?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What is a Higgs Boson?

Heady times in science.  Probably the biggest scientific discovery of the last 65 years, the discovery of a particle at 125.3 +/- .6 GeV, very likely the elusive Higgs Boson, confirming the Higgs Mechanism of the Standard Model of particle physics.

Which is great, but I was having a hard time trying to explain it to my parents... up/down quarks, W and Z bosons... to them it sounded like gibberish.   And quite honestly I'm not well-versed enough in particle physics to really do any kind of explanation justice.

But this video from PhD Comics seemed a good jumping-off point for anyone interested in what a Higgs Boson is, and furthermore what CERN does.

Note: this video was made over a year ago, before the confirmation of the Higgs Boson

So if you have kids, try to steer them towards theoretical (for the time being) physics... that's where all the exciting breakthroughs will be occurring for the foreseeable future...  Chemistry is so derivative.  

Also I couldn't help but pass along this joke:

"God particle?  It should be called a priest particle, since you can't have mass without it!"