I Feel it In My Ghost…

So.  I have thoughts about the live action Ghost in the Shell movie.

The first one, which is probably surprising me the most, is that I *really* want to see it. The trailers make it look cool and weird and dark and very, very cyberpunk. It’s clearly sticking very closely to the source material from a visual point of view (with one or two, shall we say, problematic exceptions).

And that leads me on to my second thought. There’s no getting around it: this movies *reeks* of whitewash. The lead character in the original GitS is Japanese.  Her name is Motoko Kusanagi, for heaven’s sake.  Scarlett Johansson may be many things, but Japanese she ain’t.  It’s not just ScarJo either: I’ve had a look at the cast list and it looks like anyone who could be considered a main character is being played by a white actor, with the Japanese actors picking up the supporting roles. It reminds me of the Doctor Who episode, “The Talons of Weng Chiang”, which did have genuine East Asian actors, but only in the background. Thankfully, we’ve been spared the horrendous yellow face of Weng Chaing, although only just, it seems.

Ordinarily, this would be a no brainer: I’d steer well clear and maybe, maybe, watch it on Netflix in a billion year’s time. But, and here’s the rub, it’s a female-fronted genre action movie, and those aren’t exactly growing on trees. Johansson has appeared in five Marvel movies to date, with a sixth on the way, and yet the Black Widow solo movie is just an eternal ‘maybe’.  There are a few series: Underworld and Resident Evil are the obvious ones, but those are the exceptions that prove the rule.

There’s no good outcome here.  If I see the movie, I signal to the studios that the course they set was correct: Western audiences need/want Western leads in their movies (*cough* Great Wall *cough*). If I don’t see it, I signal to the studio that action movies with women just don’t have that much of an audience. (The studio thinks very highly of my opinion, as I’m sure you can tell.)

I will still probably go and see it. If I can support underrepresented groups in cinema, I will, even if it’s a rather pyrrhic victory. I would love to get the opportunity to support minority actors in these kind of roles, but I’ll take what I can get at the moment.


Shooting Tokyo … IN THE FUTURE

Saw this on Polygon and kind of fell in love. It’s got a really cool look and the music sounds great, too. I’m not too fussed about the multiplayer, but that’s true for 99% of the games I play.

There’s a comment on the Polygon article comparing it to Hotline Miami, which I can definitely see. Hopefully it won’t be as frustrating as that (I don’t think I made it past the first level). I’d like it if it was either like the original Syndicate, which had a very deliberate pace, or like Grand Theft Auto, with fun (and survivable) rampages.

[SIDE NOTE: I just looked up the official site so I could link to it. The two games the dev references are Syndicate and GTA 1. Apparently great minds thinks alike.]

There’s no release date, but I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on it.


A New Challenger Has Entered the Ring

Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn is joining the Labour leadership race. I cannot begin to tell you how happy it makes me that someone whose views not only align with my own – or indeed has any views at all beyond ultra-bland, blue-Labour populism – is potentially going to be on the ballot paper. A quick glance at his profile on They Work For You shows that he is a man of conviction, something that seems to be sorely lacking in a lot of politicians these days.

I joined the Labour Party specifically to vote for a new leader and help, in some small way, to rebuild the party. But until yesterday, when my choices were Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall, or maybe Mary Creagh, I was seriously considering spoiling my ballot or voting ‘none of the above‘. (As an aside, if there was a single politician in the UK who displayed even a half as much candour as Richard Pryor’s character does in that clip, I’d vote for them in a heart beat.)

He’s got a lot of support to drum up and not a lot of time to do it,  but I really hope he gets on the ballot. Even if he doesn’t win – and I’d be very surprised if he does in today’s political climate – having someone to play devil’s advocate and make the debate an actual debate excites me.


Hmm, A New Mad Max, You Say?

I’ve not really paying attention to the new Mad Max: I knew it was on the way, but I had no idea that it was due in (literally) a couple of weeks.

Having watched all the trailers – because, of course I did – I get the feeling that the film was inspired by 30 years of media inspired by the original Mad Max films.

That’s not a bad thing though; it looks like it could be a fun movie and the absence of Mel Gibson is definitely a bonus.


Two Parts Batman

Two pretty significant bits of Batman-themed news dropped yesterday.  I’m going to start with the easy one.


I’m not keen – it looks like an ‘edgy’ cosplay pic – but I’m not a huge fan of DC’s recent movie output either, so I’m pretty biased.  Jared Leto is a very capable actor and providing I’m sure he’s got the skills to pull something really interesting out of the bag, just like Heath Ledger did. I’m willing to be surprised though; something like Suicide Squad might work a lot better in the new, gritty DC movie-verse than Superman.

Dark Knight III: The Master Race

(via Comic Alliance)

This one is much more problematic.  Just the title alone is really, reeeeaaaally bad. Imagine for a moment that you’d never heard of Frank Miller or watched him slide further and further to the right.  Imagine he’d never revised history for an anti-gay flourish, imagine he hadn’t made a comic where a knock-off Batman beat up brown people, imagine that he hadn’t made a comic where men are men and women are all liars or sex workers of some description. Even in this world, where Miller has a clean slate, evoking the catchphrase of the professional racist is enough to raise a few eyebrows.

I won’t deny that Miller has done some amazing work in the past, but it seems like his best days are behind him. This is the guy who came up with the oft-parodied “I’m the Goddamn Batman” line, after all. I’m hoping that co-writer Brian Azzarello will keep Miller on an even keel, but as the song says, there may be trouble ahead.

Mainstream comics are making some really good strides to being more inclusive and welcoming to people outside the traditional audiences and I’m not sure Miller really fits in that narrative.  Not that every comic creator has to, of course, but this is about as high-profile as comics get. It’s troubling to see that DC seems to be happy to trade the progress that it’s made for a (semi) bankable name on a questionable title.


We Are the Toys of the Gods

Ok, more accurately, the Gods are toys.  In particular, Hermes and Hades, messenger and jail warden of Olympus, respectively, and Inari Kami, the Japanese spirit of foxes and fertility.  Oh, and some creepy black clad police and some promo posters thrown in for good measure.

All of these are the work of Fox Box Studio, who make what can really only described as designer action figures.  They’re expensive – over $150 for the cheapest – but they do look amazing.  I particularly love the use of colour as an accent: understated, yet vibrant.

EDIT: So, it turns out there’s a load of concept art for the God Complex line, including figures that are yet to be made!


Go Go Power Rangers!




Sabre-Tooth Tiger!

Tyrannosaurus! No, wait, Tigerzord! Zeo Ranger Five: Red! No, wait! 1

All animations are by the rather talented Mike McCraw.

  1. There isn’t an animation for the Red Ranger yet. There an 20 Year Anniversary video from Saban with all the Red Rangers (and a white one), which will just have to do.

Green Screen Gatsby

The Great Gatsby VFX from Chris Godfrey on Vimeo.

This was supposed to be a quick update, but it got rather out of hand.

Anyway, on to the video. I love it; not only is it interesting in its own right, it’s quite interesting thematically as it gels so well with the myriad layers of deceit and illusion that make up The Great Gatsby.

(Just to warn you, there are Gatsby spoilers coming – if you can really spoil a book that is nearly 90 years old, that is.)

As you can see in the video, there is a mansion in the completed shots that isn’t there in the raw footage, having been added almost in its entirety in post-production. This is the home of Jay Gatsby, a reclusive millionaire who no one knows anything about. Significantly, it is also across the bay from the Buchanan house, where Daisy Buchanan lives with her husband, Tom.

As the story progresses, we discover that Jay Gatsby is actually James Gatz. Gatz and Daisy fell in love before he went to fight in World War I. When Gatz learns that Daisy has married Tom Buchanan, a man who oozes old money out of every pore, he invents the Gatsby persona in order to win Daisy back.

Gatsby throws lavish and wild parties night after night, always hoping to attract Daisy’s attention. Predictably enough, the parties are full of opportunists and hangers-on who have never actually met Gatsby – which isn’t all that surprising, considering he doesn’t really exist – and are just there for a good time and free booze.

Fake people at fake parties, thrown by a fake host.

The green screen effects take things a level deeper, albeit unintentionally. Fake people at fake parties, thrown by a fake host, in a fake house: like Gatsby himself, most of the house doesn’t really exist. In the movie version, even the illusions are illusions.

That might sound a little tautological, but trust me, it’s super deep.


Findable Me


Today I learned, quite by chance, that I appear to be the only person with my name on the UK Electoral Roll.

Now, this presents a few possibilities.

1. There are others, but they have opted out of having their names made public.
2. There are others, but for whatever reasons they are not registered to vote.
3. I really am the only one.

My name is a little unusual, but I didn’t realise that it was potentially unique. In a country of over 63 million people, I’d assumed they’d be at least one that shared my forename and surname. 1.

While there is a certain thrill to being the only one with my name in the country, it does also raise a potential problem. If someone wanted to track me down, they wouldn’t have to try especially hard. I don’t think this is very likely, but it’s interesting – and more than a little frightening – how easy I am to find just by looking online.

Obviously my case is special: I wrote for the Escapist for over three years, so my name, face, and other details are all over the internet. That said, I’m hardly the only person who has been less than cautious with my personal information. It really shows the disconnect we have between what we do online and the impact it has on the physical world. We’d never dream of giving strangers so much access to our lives if we encountered them face-to-face, but because the Internet doesn’t feel entirely real, we take much greater liberties with our privacy and security.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to find of erasing myself from the world, Time Lord style.

  1. I don’t count middle names. I have one, but I still don’t count it

Dead Japanese Islands: A Tourist’s Guide

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This is pretty darn cool, if a little melancholy.  Interestingly, you can also look around Pripyat, the town nearest to Chernobyl:

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(But only from one spot, it seems)

I’d love to be able to look around this place as well:

But it doesn’t look like Google has sent a car round yet.

via The Guardian (again)