Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth

sidmeiers_civbeyondearthSid Meier’s Civilization II is one of my favorite games of all time. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent playing this strategy game, even years after its release. The spinoff, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, is another favorite that I still own. And despite them not being my favorites, Civ III, IV, and even V are all in my player chest. As a lifelong fan, I am usually pretty enthused when a new entry comes along.

So when Beyond Earth was announced, I began paying attention. Similar to what Alpha Centauri did, the game follows an off-world expedition as it tries to establish a human settlement on a distant planet. As a victory condition in all the previous games, this sort of spinoff is a natural extension of the Civilization universe. Much like in the regular games, you establish settlements, research technologies, and compete with other factions for dominance.

sid_meiers_civilization-beyond_earth-pyramidsBut what I especially like about these versions is the speculative nature of it all. As a future faction that is far removed from Earth, you have to deal with alien ecology and biology, research technologies that do not yet exist, unlock some of the fundamental mysteries of the universe, and even experience the technological and/or existential singularity. It’s way cool!

As the commercial description reads:

Sid Meier’s Civilization®: Beyond Earth™ is a new science-fiction-themed entry into the award-winning Civilization series. As part of an expedition sent to find a home beyond Earth, lead your people into a new frontier, explore and colonize an alien planet and create a new civilization in space. A New Beginning for Mankind is coming Fall/Autumn 2014.

According to Steam, the official release date is October 24th 2014. Check out the Announce Trailer below:

New Trailer: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

https://i1.wp.com/www.designbolts.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/TMNT-2014-Desktop-Wallpaper-HD1.jpgYou ever see a trailer and think, “holy crap, that is the worst violation of my childhood that I will ever watch start to finish”? That was my feeling when watching the latest TMNT trailer, which was released late last month. Despite the abundant hints that this movie is going to be another Bay-backed atrocity, complete with racist caricatures, sexist portrayals, eye-candy visuals and stupid dialogue, I still felt kind of nostalgic seeing it.

And there were some additional hints that told me this movie was going to totally suck. For starters, it is strongly implied yet again that the Turtles were created as some sort of covert project. It’s also strongly implied that “The Shredder” – the main antagonist in the TMNT universe – was a similar creation. Hell, they even go as far to say that he’s a damn robot with Wolverine-like retractable claws. What can I say to that except… NOOOOOO!

But like most fans who grew up with the Turtles, I was never looking to this movie to provide any kind of faithful reboot. In fact, when I heard Bay was doing a relaunch of the franchise, I believe I just rolled my eyes and filed it in the “could care less” category. So while I might get around to seeing this, I do not imagine for one second that I am expecting anything from it other than utter amusement.

Low expectations people, that’s the way to survive a Bay movie! Oh yeah, and enjoy the trailer:

Movie Trailer: “Batkid Begins”

Batkid_beginsOnce in awhile, a story comes along that warms your heart and restores your faith in humanity. And after reading and writing so much about morally ambiguous things or scary developments, this is one that I was happy to share! This past November, in what was an online media circus,  25,000 people showed up to watch a five year-old boy cruise around San Fransisco in a Batman costume and a Lamborghini with the logo on the hood.

After doing battle with his enemies – which included the Riddler and the Penguin – “Batkid” was taken to City Hall where he received the key to the city from the mayor. The city spent $105,000 on the event – covering things like speakers, a big screen at city hall, and cleanup crews – and everyone from Barack Obama to Britney Spears expressed their heartwarming support for the costume-clad Batkid.

Batkid_begins2This massive effort, which was a viral media sensation, was orchestrated by the Make-A-Wish Foundation for Miles Scott, a five-year who has spent half his life struggling with leukemia. Having finished his course of chemotherapy, it was Scott’s dream to be Batman for a day. And now, a documentary called Batkid Begins, is retelling the story of Batkid, the Scott family, and how one kid’s wish went viral.

Director Dana Nachman has already raised nearly $40,000 (of her goal of $100,000) on Indiegogo to fund production. A one-time journalist, Nachman has made three films prior to this that were, in her own words, quite dark. As she explains:

I was looking for my next film to be uplifting. I didn’t even know about Batkid until after it happened, and I blown away that I had missed it, and was just so touched by the outpouring of support for this child.

Through a friend at NBC, where she formerly worked, Nachman was able to get a meeting with Make-a-Wish, which had already been approached by others wanting to do Batkid documentaries. Though Scott’s family had been reticent to do much press surrounding the Batkid event, they offered to work with Nachman on the film. After making their son’s wish come true, the Scott family hopes to raise awareness about the Foundation and the work it does.

Batkid_begins3The three-act story will start with a focus on Scott and his experiences, segueing into the lead-up to the event itself as it went viral and everyone scrambled to keep up with the momentum. The third act will focus on the event itself, which involved Miles rescuing a damsel in distress from the train tracks, stopping the Penguin from kidnapping the San Francisco Giants seal mascot, and getting the key to the city from the mayor.

And though it might have seemed like the event was a media circus all on its own, it actually had quite the helping hand. The event went viral thanks in large part to the Clever Girls Collective, a content and social media agency that volunteered its time. As Nachman explained:

To me what’s interesting is that everyone approached for the [Batkid event] said, ‘Yes, I’ll participate and I’ll make it even cooler by doing this, this, and this.’ That’s the message of the film to me: ‘Yes, and.’ If I had my dream, that would be the title of it, but I think it’s a little too esoteric.

Batkid_begins1The $100,000 in funding that Nachman hopes to collect on Indiegogo will help out with animations, a soundtrack, and other production assets. A rough cut will be ready by the one-year anniversary of the Batkid event (this coming November), and the film will likely premiere early next year.I don’t know about you, but… a young boy who had a brush with death getting to live out his dream of being a superhero? I’m certainly going to see it! You got Miles Scott!

And in the meantime, check out the trailer for this heartwarming documentary below:


Sources: fastcoexist.com, (2)

Akira Concept Art

https://static.squarespace.com/static/524c2e14e4b05018590a21e1/5386efbce4b0bd6d1373003c/5387038ce4b0792be624b4a5/1401357197387/image002.jpg?format=1500wA few years ago, it was reported that director Ruairi Robinson was going to create a live-action American adaptation of the classic anime, Akira! The project has getting a lot of hype, despite what many hardcore fans have to say about an American version of the anime cult classic. And while the attempts to get the ball rolling have continually stalled, with actors and directors constantly dropping and out of the project, it does seem like this is one project that just wont’ die.

For instance, Ruairi Robinson ceased being attached to the project in 2010, but some interesting concept art from his slated involvement survives. Below, you can see pictures and mock-ups for what the live action of Akira, in his hands, would have looked like. For instance, in the first photo, the casting choices of Chris Evans as Shotaro Kaneda and Jason Gordon Levitt as Tetsuo Shima. In addition, countless pictures depicting Neo-Tokyo.

(left) Kaneda, (middle) Travis, (right) CyrusIn many of these, you can see Kaneda’s iconic red bike running through the streets. But the larger focus is on the colorful skylines, complete with skyscrapers, neon signs, multiple languages scripts, and a general gritty, cyberpunk feel. And at the bottom, there is a comparison shot showing a shooting location in New York City above a picture of what the proposed Neo-New York City would look like. That name sound at all believable to you?

Several scenes from the movie are also depicted, which include the battle with the Clowns biker gang, and the sudden appearance of one of Colonel Shikishima “patients”.

https://static.squarespace.com/static/524c2e14e4b05018590a21e1/5386efbce4b0bd6d1373003c/538a94cbe4b0adbbbb8d53ec/1401590989937/002A_streetconcept_1cFlatGH.jpg?format=500w

https://static.squarespace.com/static/524c2e14e4b05018590a21e1/5386efbce4b0bd6d1373003c/5387038be4b058afe7f7548e/1401357200902/001A_streetconcept_1bFlatGH.jpg?format=500w

It looks like a Neo-New York City

https://static.squarespace.com/static/524c2e14e4b05018590a21e1/5386efbce4b0bd6d1373003c/5387038ce4b058afe7f75490/1401357198930/freeway_before&after%20copy.jpg?format=500w

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https://static.squarespace.com/static/524c2e14e4b05018590a21e1/5386efbce4b0bd6d1373003c/5387038de4b058afe7f75492/1401357199565/streetconcept.jpg?format=500w

https://static.squarespace.com/static/524c2e14e4b05018590a21e1/5386efbce4b0bd6d1373003c/538a927ee4b0e9ab9157cd27/1401590403111/image003.jpg?format=500wBut what montage of Akira-related images would be complete without scenes depicting the unleashed psychic Tetsuo, demonstrated his newfound powers? Below are a couple that demonstrate the anime’s antagonist in action, in the first, deflecting a missile attack from an attack chopper, and in the second breaking into the Akira vault and discovering the namesake’s remains.

  Travis Clyne aka "Tetsuo" unleashing his power!

https://static.squarespace.com/static/524c2e14e4b05018590a21e1/5386efbce4b0bd6d1373003c/538773c1e4b0e13cfb6da384/1401385923649/crater_akira01_CC2.jpg?format=500wNot too bad to look at. But with the supposed director, producers, and actors changing every few years, many are wondering if this live-action remake will ever happen. And many fans can see nothing wrong with the idea, provided it is true to the source material. And dropping the whole Americanized angle and setting it back in Neo-Tokyo where it belongs wouldn’t hurt much either! But in the end, it really comes down to being true to the spirit of the Manga, if not the precise format.

Luckily, there is still the crowdfunded live-action Akira Project. This fan-based effort to make an adaptation that is both true to the spirit and setting of the original manga produced a full-length teaser trailer not that long ago that impressed fans quite a bit! So who knows? If Hollywood can’t get its act together and make a decent remake, there’s always the direction and the funding of dedicated fans to pick up the slack! Time will tell which of them will bear fruit…

In the meantime, here’s another look at the Akira Project trailer:


Sources:
moviepilot.com, ruairi-robinson.squarespace.com

New Theatrical Trailer: Interstellar

interstellar_2014This weekend, when the Godzilla remake will be screening, audiences will be treated to another first. After wrapping up with the Dark Knight series, Christopher Nolan has taken a different route with this next project, title Interstellar. And with this latest theatrical trailer, moviegoers will finally see exactly what his new film is about. Basically, in the not-to-distant future, a global food crisis hits Earth, and to find solutions, humanity must look to the stars.

That’s the bare bones of it at any rate.  To be more specific, the plot revolves around Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his family. A former pilot and engineer who has had to turn to farming to feed his family, Conner finds himself being called upon to take part in an expedition in order to find a new place for humanity to live. As Michael Caine’s character is quoted as saying: “We’re not meant to save the world, we’re meant to leave it.”

Embracing such things as Climate Change and the public’s growing fascination with space exploration and the next great leaps humanity is likely to take, Nolan has announced his return to the world of epic space-exploration. And between the scenes of gritty desolation seen on planet Earth, to the majestic grandeur of the scenes set in space, it’s clear that Nolan is well suited to the medium, being a director who’s well known for his stunning visuals and ability to create atmosphere.