LucasArts Closed

Rhetoric surrounds the closure of LucasArts. I feel for the folks who have lost their jobs, and agree with the popularist cynical view that most of what made the company iconic originally has not been the daily activity for many years. That said the company did have some interesting different games in production for Star Wars and I was excited. 1313 was a new direction, and I was watching it. I was even a little excited despite feeling that the Star Wars MMO failed to deliver anything different or as good as WoW. It will be a shame if those games do not get picked up by other software development houses, and hopefully some of the staff too.

Of course the comments are a range of support and snide, the move is not totally unexpected given Disney has Star Wars now and can do as it wishes. This is a significant point in time to watch…will Disney provide vision for the franchise, or produce garbage?

IMHO Disney is a monolithic company operating in ways that only rarely connect with my daily life. I watch their films when I get around to them, and generally don’t buy merchandise or go to theme parks. They have purchased a powerful brand in Star Wars, with a very passionate support base. With that passion comes expectation and management of feedback, some fans are not forgiving.

I hope they have a new angle and create something in the spirit of the first Star Wars film. That would impress, and have a chance of providing a continuing fan-base well into the next decade.

Src: LucasArts Video Game Development Shutdown by Disney.

SW1313 flushed down a hole when Disney cancelled it

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Star Wars Episode 7 – What?

Just saw this via my feedreader from GeekoSystem and gulped coffee too fast. Star Wars episode 7 in planned for 2015 after Disney buys LucasFilms.

Did this get posted around the first of April but somehow only get live today? 4 Billion purchase price is no joke.

In news we didn’t exactly see coming on the even of Halloween, NBA opening night, and the day after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of New York and New Jersey, The Walt Disney Company just announced that they’re set to acquire Lucasfilm, and that the next official Star Wars trilogy, starting with episode seven, is projected to kick off in 2015. Yes, you can now make the joke that Leia is a Disney princess.

George Lucas, whether you think he lost his genius years ago, or still has some sense somewhere deep down, issued a statement of confidence:

“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come.”

Don’t forget, Disney bought Marvel not too long ago, and they own ESPN, so it can now add Lucasfilm to its stable of prominent properties under its belt.

Strange days ahead if true. Continue reading

A beautiful day for distractions

The weather has been cold, not unusual for Melbourne in July and certainly not new for me. It is however a little more present in my reality due to the early starts and late finishes that work has required recently. I am jealous to read all the blogs about summer frolicking in the northern hemisphere. You lucky crazy sods – you at least should be busy and outside, but are instead inside with Warcraft.

In wow I’ve been quiet due to a range of factors not really related to the cold at all. The main cause is legitimate distractions of work, house renovations, and broken cars.

Work has been busy as we started a new contract about two months ago, and although I think it will get better in the long term, in the short term that means no raiding – as fatigue makes good raiding really difficult. A 7-11ish raid plus the peripheral discussions till midnight are not viable when you get up just after 5am each day. Hell the contract is only for four years, so I guess I’ll be ready for Firelands raids by then. Grumble.

We’re also renovating our unit, at the moment that means adding a new fireplace and we’re mid way through the prep and painting of the mantlepiece. Again wow suffers, as I want the darn fire finished and it frustrates me to not have it completed. I could perhaps rush it and sacrifice the quality of the finish, but I’ll have to look at that fireplace for years to come and any blemishes that were avoidable will bug me.

To offset the missing games I’ve started reading a bit more. I can read in much smaller time segments that I can play warcraft, and it is as much a satisfying escape from reality as online games are. Two books that I’ve borrowed are the last Harry Potter and the Game of Thrones first novel. As of a few days ago I’ve just put down the last Harry Potter book. I saw the film and felt that the book would not add anything new. That is a little snarky, but thus far the book has been a very fair match to the films, and therefore I’m not going to gain any deeper insight by finishing the book. I might come back in a few years and read it, once the images of the films have been forgotten and it seems a little more fresh.

Game of Thrones also follows the TV series very closely, but the book is adding a lot of depth to my understanding. I’m staggered just of close to the original the TV series was, and also that there can be suck side stories in the novel that tweak my interest. I understand now some of the small embellishments or slight changes in timing between the presentation of the two – as it makes a more TV friendly presentation.

I wonder too how the Warcraft film will follow the lore. To make a viable and profitable film the target audience needs to be far wider than just the current subscriber base – and that means making the material digestible in a single film. This adds a complexity of picking a section of the lore which is a discrete story, and also has enough gravitas with the community to be worth seeing.

They have a hard script to write, and I hope they throw a darn good team at it.

Anyway that is enough of a rumble on my distractions. May your novels always be enticing, your wine glass full, and your hearth warm.

The King’s Speech

Poster for the Kings SpeechThe King’s Speech is an excellent film. The presentation of the time period of King George VI’s ascension to rule was very balanced; the film presented a believable perspective on the background events leading into the war, but also did not let that storyline overrule the main two aspects of the story which involve the personal relationship between the king and the therapist, and the king’s treatment. All lead actors were effective, and the minor cast provided enough depth to re-enforce the primary characters.

This is a character film, and as such the performance of the lead characters is paramount to the overall impact of the film, and pleasingly Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helen Bonham Carter are all excellent.

Score: Score 8.5 out of 10

Bad: The inclusion and portrayal of the archbishop and Winston Churchill was a little blunt. This is the only slightly negative thing I can think of to present as a “bad”, and it was basically non-existent.


· All leads were excellent.

· Period presentation was detailed and totally believable.

· as an Australian it was curious to see an American doing an Australian accent well, and a few Australians being altogether very British.

· I would happily see this film again in the future, and would consider buying it.

Thor trailer is solid fun


Thor - A Paladin if ever there was one

The Thor trailer is doing the rounds, and like a sci-fi nut I am excited to see this one. I mean its Thor, what is not to love.

God technology, lightning effects, Avengers movie threads…its like a coming of age for geek-sci-fi movies. That said, I am concerned with the story and overall production being less than wonderful, but am delighted to see these types of films being made.

Watch for the Destroyer at the end.

New trailer posted 11 Dec.

Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the ... meh, boom!In a nutshell, if you have seen the other three films hire this on DVD for a lazy or stupid Sunday arvo film. Or wait for TV. If you have not seen any of the other films (or didn’t care to remember them), then see something else. Don’t watch it in the cinema in any case.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5, and that’s because I enjoyed seeing Indy back on the screen more than anything else (the snake-rope joke and rocket launcher joke are top highlights). To a non-Indy fan 0.5 out of 5.

For: Cultural references are thick through-out the film, and if done with a little more restraint or subtlety might have been rather cool. Reds under the beds, government conspiracy, area 51 little green men, nuke testing, and a fantastic picture of what university life might have been like.

Against: The basic plot theme was ok, but the actual plot was horrid and predictable.

Quick: Indiana Jones and the … meh. Boom, wizz, ka-pow!

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Ironman – quick review

If you like comic book super hero movies, you should see Ironman. You might think it was awesome, or you might think it was a little disappointing, and you may even think it was a good film worth of the Ironman franchise.

Its certainly in the league of a good supers film – which is why you should pay the dollars on the big screen. The “tech” is not so high tech as to be insane, and the story flows well.

In short: I loved it, 8.5 out of 10.

The good: Characters, cast, and animation are all really good.

The bad: The military seem a bit useless in this film, a bit too easy to lead around by the nose.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (quick review)

Initially my concept of this film was way off, which is why it was so surprising to watch a very personal, very direct character film. I was both surprised and bothered by the film. The storyline follows three people from the same family, and how a gradual series of bad choices in their separate lives lead them to an end which affects everyone around them.

The acting is excellent. All the actors did an excellent job, and I would not be surprised to see this film nominated for a Golden Globe. But also be warned that the story is dark, and you’ll be hard pressed not to think introspectively.

Quick Summary: Its not gritty in a horrific or bloody way, its dark in a human way – these are normal people, with real weaknesses, who are caught in a downward spiral.

Score: 3.5 out of 5.

Incredible Hulk Trailer

Hulk PicThere is a Hulk trailer out for the new movie, which stars Ed Norton. Excellent!

The last movie was a tad disappointing from a CGI perspective, and worse from a script perspective.

Hopefully the inclusion of Ed will see an improvement in the film’s quality. Can’t see Hulk as a huge series like Spiderman though, he’s a bit of a single story kinda guy to me (don’t bother spam me with hate, I won’t read it).

Linkage via Spike.

No Country For Old Men (quick review)

No Country For Old Men is established on a simple concept: present a short view of a possible series of events, in a country which is being torn apart by violence and sadism. If this was a historic war film, or even set in the near future, the impact of this lesson would be lost, but by making it present day America the lesson is very hard to ignore.

The American society is creating villians which are disolving it, and this film shows the spins and throws which occur between the main characters as they are drawn further and further into the downward spiral of destruction. Nobody is unaffected by the events, and nobody survives for long.

Some people did not like the ending, and I didn’t get it until a day or so later, but I really think its the only way to end it. After you see it, ask yourself how else could the final character have escaped his destiny created by the society he lived within? I would argue that his strength of character allowed him to that, rather than face the ending that so many of his fellow countrymen had faced.

For: Incredible acting from all the leads, and a story that demonstrates how natural humanity reacts to harsh events and environments.

Against: Violence, but then thats the point. Don’t see this film if you don’t tollerate creepy killer types, or random acts of violence.

Score: 8.5 out of 10.

Stardust (quick review)

The film Stardust is a highly entertaining fantasy film set in England “some years ago”. I really liked this film and would rate it along side the Princess Bride in terms of style. Its not quite that excellent, but its close.

Robert Deniro as a camp bloodthirsty captain was easy entertainment, and the stand out best supporting cast was the princes who you’ll meet about half way through, who then entertain as they observe the rest of the story. Claire Danes and Michelle Pfeiffer are great, and the guy who plays the goat is fantastic!

 For: Good story, great cast, and entertaining humour aimed at adults far more than kids.

Against: No much, maybe the initial story into was a bit sharp(?)

Score: 8/10

The Last King of Scotland (quick review)

The Last King of Scotland is a story set in Ugandan during the reign of Idi Amin. Based on a true story, the viewer follows a Scottish medical school graduate who travels to Uganda seeking a true life experience to juxtapose against his white urban upbringing.

While moving through the story Nicolas (the young doctor) behaves like a lost and impulsive twenty-something, amid an environment of political duplicity and horrid oppression.

In short: 3 out of 5

The Good: I have nothing except respect for Forest Whitaker’s skill as an actor. A stand-out performance. His Amin moves from silent, to brooding, to joyful, to fiendish with delicate precision.

The bloodshed is handled quickly without being indulgent, and the camera work changes styles to suit the scenes very well.

There is a small element of comedy in the film which comes from the stupidity of a young white doctor in a corrupt African nation, but it is dark humour born from the struggle and death around him that he fails to perceive.

The Bad: James McAvoy who plays Nicolas never really feels like he has the screen presence his character is meant to have. There are times throughout the film where Nicolas shows leadership and bravery, and also times where he shows a little moxie, but the portrayal never reaches either extreme.

The film shows the audience the climate of the country during Amin’s rule, and true to life shows the horror and misguided process of Amin’s eight year reign. But we never get far beyond Amin’s initial madness and paranoia. I would have loved to see more of this ruler’s perspective, consistent with his passion, and more of the process (however misguided) that placed him in power.

The political maneuvering by the British is shown to be diplomatic and subversive, but never really directly involved. Which begs the question of how did the British appoint such a leader without due diligence.

I was also surprised how much time was spent on the initial medical placement in regional Uganda, given that most of the film’s real story does not happen there, and does not need to contrast against it.

Blood Diamond (quick review)

Blood Diamond is one of those films that makes incredible use of character actors and realistic violence – to stunning affect.

The portrayal of Sierra Leone’s social landscape in the 80s is brutal, and even more powerful due to the human perspective we are initially shown as the film builds story. The viewer is spared no fantasy of a majestic and graceful African nation, and the politics external military involvement is depicted in a manner which suggests understatement rather than overt criticism.

In short: 3.5 out of 5

The Good: Cinematography is excellent. The tension is consistent, and the perspectives presented are realistic and intermixed very well. Characterisation is also good, and in some places very subtle.

The Bad: DiCaprio almost pulls it off. I am not a fan of most of his films, and here I still found myself viewing him as an actor, rather than a character. His performance is good, but he is outclassed by the other performances.

This film also uses an incredible amount of violence during the story, which is often repeated. So much so the battles start to become spectacular rather than confronting.

The new James Bond movie

Given the hype and the “but its not real bond” rants that were in the USA media, I was secretly apprehensive about the new Bond flick. My god its a good film!

Its more the Bond I thought it should always have been. If you’re a fan then you’ve got your own impression, as you’ve already seen it. If you’ve never seen a Bond film, or not “got it” before, then this might be a film for you.

Bond is a mean mongrel in thsi version, with a good brain in his head, and a snapish sense of humour. I was impressed by the touches which hinted to the old style (ms broadchest?), and very pleased to see the direction knew when to hit the action button.

I’m suspect on some elements of the plot, but the plot hold together better than almost all the other Bond films, and certainly better than the Mission Impossible series.