Batman Live – Review

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

August 24th and I am sat in the O2 arena, the last of the audience are shuffling in, I’m sat wondering just whether the production is going to be as questionable as I had expected.
The house lights go down and the music rumbles, Batman is about to begin.

As you might have guessed I really didn’t expect much from Batman Live, to be wholly honest I blame the trailers I had been shown on the run up to the production, though it showed the characters and costumes it didn’t show anything, the static content just didn’t show enough of the content to really get me excited.

Plot-wise, Batman Live shows us initially the origin of the caped crusader, through to the equally tragic start of the boy wonder, we see a whole slew of Gotham’s criminal elite plotting to take down Batman with a final all out brawl to be remembered.

The costumes were bright and easy to view from my vantage point half way up the arena, they showed a clear comic element, from the Joker’s self referential waistcoat to the use of colour and shape on the ladies costumes.
Batman’s outfit was effectively a gray muscle suit, no doubt designed to be seen all the way back in the nose-bleed seats while allowing a complete range of movement, the only negative I could pick from the costume itself is the superfluous muscles built into the legs but even then it’s not a deal breaker and not something focused on while watching.
One thing that did annoy me however, was Catwoman’s whip, specifically because I didn’t know she had one until almost the very end of the show, a black whip wrapped around a black costume is not easy to see.

The set was an imaginative use of space, from buildings rolled out on wheels to carnival bunting shooting out on wires mid-transition, the most impressive piece of set design however must be the backdrop, not simply content with a static drop Batman Live uses an animated screen to provide transition between scenes, to give back drops to each act and in one instance even acting as the Batcave’s computer.
I doubt any comic fan would be far from smiling when the screen zoomed out from one comic book panel into another as the next piece of scenery wheeled out on stage.

The action is all choreographed to the nines, the Flying Graysons performing impressive stunts on the trapeze, Batman and Catwoman having a wire-fu moment through to the combat between the good guys and bad though I must admit, I have never been to see the Circus, I can not imagine it being as able to keep my interest as a Bat themed extravaganza can.
But through out the entire production, my favourite moment is when Harley Quinn vanishes from a death trap only to re-appear later with a “Ta-dah!”

I went into Batman Live with low expectations, by the intermission I was excited and involved, by the end I wanted it to carry on.
So far I have seen reviews blasting the show for not being dark enough, but it is a fun family production and should in no way be related to the Bale era of gravelly voiced Batman, though maybe I just have fond memories of the far too camp Batman television series from the 1960’s but Batman Live slots nicely in the middle, it doesn’t take itself too seriously but does not get too silly.
I enjoyed Batman Live far more than I thought I would, I wonder if the girl sat next to me with the Batman themed case on her iPhone and iPad felt the same way.

If you’re a fan of Batman, or if your children are, then Batman Live is not going to disappoint you.

I’m giving Batman Live 9 bat signals out of 10.

As a side not, Harley was my favourite of all the bad guys, she was just so bouncy..

Pics source: [BatBlog][Comics Alliance]

Update to the day

July 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Okay, so now I am home and the day is over, I promised you an explanation and so I shall give it to you.
I am not going to write a Duke Nukem Forever review for you, I don’t mean I am lazy, nor am I going to stop writing here, the reason is simply that I have recently been accepted as an author for Ducktoid.com specifically with an aim of writing reviews for video games and technology.
So my Duke Nukem review has gone there instead.

I am not closing Geekenbrau, as it stands Ducktoid have no interest in my movie reviews so I shall still be posting those when I have the chance, but Geekenbrau is going to become a focus of my geeky projects and things independent of others.
Which in part is why I’ve been somewhat absent of late, my current life seems to revolve around buy and planning for an idea I had concerning stop motion animation.
In this vein, I would like to ask if anyone has a list of public domain movies, please could they share it with me, as I have looked into the topic and have not found any list updated in two to three years.
Alternatively if anyone knows of a werewolf based public domain movie, give me the title.

Thanks for the support guys.

Mid week caching bonanza

July 12, 2011 Leave a comment

I know, I have neglected this place over the past few weeks and there hasn’t really been a good reason for it.
It is simply that every time I get it into my head to write something all I can think is that no one but me would find that update funny or entertaining and so I refrain.

Well, now I do have an update, one that is relevant and if you’re exceptionally interested in what I have to say then it will be something you will be interested in knowing, but I am not going to tell you just yet.

Right now I am cruising down the M1, having taken a trip from Surrey up to somewhere near Birmingham in order to help a friend pick up an ebay purchase.
This is no big surprise as anyone who has been following my erratic postings will know that just over a year ago I went to Liverpool in order to collect my own ebay purchase.
I am wondering if this is going to become a tradition.

Anyways, while up at this end of the world we’ve grabbed a few geocaches and have an aim to grab another en route home.

Tonight I will post an update and let you all know just what is happening, till then.. keep your ears to the skies!

Categories: news, road trip Tags: , , , , ,

DNF and other assorted Geekery

June 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Okay, so it’s been a week since Duke Nukem Forever finally got released (about time too, 12 years is far too long to wait for) and my copy just arrived, I am installing it as we speak.
But one thing that astounds me, over the past week the reviews I have read seem to be from the computer illiterate, I just mean, on the inside of the instruction manual you can find clear instructions for a disc based install (DNF is tied to the Steam network, so downloading from Steam is also an option) and alternatively you can just cancel any download from Steam and run straight from disc, so why do 30% of the gaming population appear to be bitching that the disc DNF comes on is “nothing but a link for Steam” the complaints are based on one fact, the users didn’t read the damned instructions.
Following the instructions lead to a disc based install and not a download.
Geez.

Now I know after 12 years DNF is going to lack the magic of the original (3D) and frankly, I do not care, to me being a part of the game is more important right now, the game itself is a legend that gamers whispered in the shadows, no one thought it would go golden, but it did and now I own it.
I’m thinking I might review it next week.

Alternatively, I am still working on my Chai, but keep getting distracted, between minecraft and personal projects things seem to get on top of me alot.

Speaking of personal geekery, for all Android users out there, have you ever heard of Zombie Run!, it’s a simple little game where the phone loads up your location, you select a destination and you have to avoid the computer generated undead on your way from A to B.
It’s a fun way to make a journey a little more adventurous.
There’s even a basic multiplayer out there.

But in the past 7/8 months there has been no word, movement or indication of development, infact most of what Zombie Run entails indicates it’s a pretty simple mechanism, so being me I turned around and thought “Hey, I can do that better!” (and I probably can’t) so I have been learning, researching and geeking everything associated with what I would need to make an improved Zombie Run.
Not that I’ll get to a release mind you, but I did knock up a basic front page for the solo player [image attached below].
Feedback would be great.

Anyways, I have not forgotten about you, I am just busy and when I do have time to blog I don’t know what to say, but next week the DNF review and if I’m lucky (or drunk) a Chai review.

Peace out.
Basic front page for theoretical game
And yes, I know the background image isn’t zombie related, I just thought it was damned cool and since this is only a mock up, suck it. *grins*

The rise and fall of reality television

May 26, 2011 1 comment

In 1992 we saw the beginning of a new dynamic on television, with the creation of The Real World studios around the world realised that television audiences did not need the established staples of a hit television series.

What made the world wide networks take notice? In all honesty, the only real factor considered in the creation of any television show is “Will this show make us money?” and until now, the cost of a shows production had factored in many details, requiring in many instances a writing team and a selection of actors, the simple solution is to remove the talent.
With one fell swoop the studio was able to curtail their costs and all they asked for was that the audience keep from thinking too much.
Why would I say that? It’s easy really, from 1999 onwards and with the worldwide adoption of Big Brother, the main requirement for stardom was in many cases being outrageous, self centred and slightly lacking in any real insight.
Maybe it was the sudden realisation that the average viewer had a chance of stardom without any talent that drew the viewing numbers, but for ten long years Big Brother inspired reality clones plagued our airwaves with such ferocity and though they rarely scored as many viewers as their Orwellian cousin, the sheer fact that a reality television show costs far less than a planned out conventional series made even the biggest flop financially viable.

The reality television bug even took root in Hollywood, inspiring a 2002 horror film based in the building of a closed set being used for a reality television show: My Little Eye

Now, we’ve hit 2011 and Big Brother has lost it’s appeal to the masses and was promptly cancelled, now in the Uk we have had a new show appear on the horizon, entitled The Only Way is Essex, the idea is that the show follows a group of reasonably well off 20 somethings as they attempt to.. well I am not sure anyone knows what they’re trying to do with their collective lives.
With reality television the core concept is to capture real events, of course it is an accepted fact that the producers will edit footage in many instances to cast certain contestants into certain roles and characters, but with the creation of The Only Way is Essex and it’s rival Made In Chelsea the producers have sunk to a new low point, instead of giving us a series based on actual events, we have scripted events, arranged interactions and outright deceptions.
Although I am not here to pick apart these shows, I find it funny when the makers think that in a world of frequent PR announcements and global interconnectedness, they can script their reality shows without someone standing up and saying “Hold up, that’s not right..” and people have stood up, from locations used in filming stating that a) cast members have no ties to the establishment and b) events portrayed during filming were recorded during a private event outside of regular work hours.
Then there are numerous events during the episodes which would not be feasible during regular filming, a quick example being the humble phone call, it has been seen that when one character calls their friend, there just happens to be a camera ready and waiting for the phone call. The logical thing to think when this would happen is either that the phone call was pre-arranged giving the crew plenty of time to set up, or that the second part of the conversation was recorded later in order to ensure decent quality, neither of these are the activity of reality.
Finally the only thing that needs mentioning now is simply the plot lines, the disconnect required to honestly believe that the events of this new breed of reality soap are not scripted is massive, the sheer magnitude of social confrontation and ineptitude in these shows, to believe it is based on real events the viewer must be missing out on one hell of a life by watching the drama unfold.

So to summarise, reality television has died only to be replaced with badly scripted shows boasting stereotypes masquerading as reality television.
Am I sad about this? Of course not, I never saw the appeal in following the unnatural situations created in these shows, it’s a sad day when attention whoring is validated as a form of entertainment and I long for the day when society calls back for a decently outlined, well written and acted scifi show.

As a note and maybe it validates my point, the concept of Jersey Shore has now migrated and become rooted firmly in Newcastle, with the opening character introductions stating such items as one male repeating the word “Fanny” every few words, a girl saying “I am going to be a slut” interspliced with scenes of various scenes no doubt backing up the various lurid statements given.
So the next wave of reality programming is what? Reality softcore porn?
I am unimpressed.

Categories: rant, tv

Spoilers darling.

So, one of the geeky girls I follow upon twitter recently tweeted something about series writer Steven Moffat being a hypocrite.
As you might understand I was a little curious about this as, well I am curious type of fellow.

When I googled Moffat I found very little, infact I found several articles talking about a rant wherein Moffat relates people placing spoilers of the BBC flagship show Doctor Who online before the season premiere airs, relating it to a form of vandalism.

Now I wouldn’t go that far.

I do not post much on online forums but I do read a lot and I read the IMDB forums, what I love is the sense behind the posts on the site.
For those unfamiliar with the etiquette used on the vast majority of internet message boards, if a post contains any information reguarded as a spoiler then as a matter of courtesy it is noted in the title field, but more importantly using a simple piece of coding, [spoiler] content [/spoiler] the user can even mask the actual spoiler information so a user can read the rest of the post.

Years of practise in effect.

Now part of the fun of Doctor Who is watching the forums for little snippets of information and to see what theories people have, oh so many fans will lap up every little release and leak they can find.
It has always been this way, a leak has always spread like wildfire but using modern etiquette it is easy for someone to avoid the relevant material.

I think it ties in with my previous commentry on the way the news media have begun adopting less journalistic articles in favour of pop puff pieces.
In the run up to this current season the Daily Mail decided that posting pictures of the Doctor mid-regeneration with a headline stating something akin to “End of Smith’s reign” which is both a spoiler and wholly inaccurate upon the front page was the best thing to do.

Where is the etiquette? If I go to the IMDB page I should expect to have to be wary of spoilers, if I want to see the days news I won’t be on guard.

What it boils down to is this; the fans will always get a little information early, but any spoiler should be hidden behind a spoiler tag.

Once again, thank you.

Riese’s piece of…

Now I am a sucker for steampunk, so when I saw a competition for a steampunk iphone case I entered the contest (despite not owning the iphone) and the case theme looked quite interesting.

The case was based on Riese, a web series promoted by SyFy (hereafter known as scifi) so of course I looked into it.

Riese is the story of a princess, on the run after her kingdom is usurped by a cult called the sect, Riese travels across what was once her kingdom viewing the evils visited on the land by the sect.
Now, I am disappointed in Riese, I see plenty of leather brass and gears in the wardrobe, but where is the actual steampunk? I see no airships, no real steampunk innovation at all really, infact apart from the costume department everything about Riese seems better suited to a high fantasy setting, hell the story is better suited to a medival setting, part of me wonders if the choice to go steampunk was made in order to cash in on the popularity of the style.

Each of the episode is between 5 and 11 minutes, it seems odd to me that the episode spacing follows as such, not only is the duration odd but some episodes are slow and in others nothing really happens.
From the writing style, I get the distinct feeling that the story for Riese was designed to run as a movie, the web series is relatively new and needs specialist timing, you need to balance the amount of story with action and I feel Riese doesn’t get the mixture right.

Otherwise, through out the entire show we’re given a voice over explaining almost everything, a narator that doesn’t just guide us into Riese, but instead holds up a neon sign showing us that the bad guy is doing something.
There is a saying around, “Show, don’t tell” basically the idea is simple, don’t make it a point of forcing the information down my throat when you can show me the same information in a simple step.
To further that, many times during the voice-overs we were given various shots of the world map, instead of using it as a device to aid character movement, the map was displayed when there was no action on screen, the over use of the map really distracted me.

Over all, I wanted to like this series, I had high hopes for SciFi’s steampunk series, but it wasn’t right, the show isn’t steampunk and it’s not a good story for a web serial.
And then of course, we had around 90 minutes of content, that’s the same as a feature film, but very little happened, there was no logical end point at the end of the series and it just felt as if the story had barely progressed, whether the show had been planned to go anywhere from the first point by the end of the first season we should have had an “Ahh” moment where the show felt like it had a small conclusion which would lead to the overall stoey arc.

My final thought is a simple one, the concept didn’t work, it felt miss-sold and badly drawn out.
If you want a steampunk web series, avoid this one and wait for the next.

Two velociscopes out of ten.
Steampunk’d.

Okay, if I did it I would have made three main changes.
1) Ditch the steampunk, you have no content in the show that would break if used in another setting.
2) Even out your episodes out, a uniform length where something happens.
3) Learn your medium, in a regular tv series, after 3 hours we just get into the plot, with a webseries after an hour we want to already be on our way to a small resolution.
This could have worked better if handled just a little bit differently.

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