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On Rampage and Its Salute to Toho Films

21 Apr

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Somewhere along the way, the movie adaptation of the video game Rampage forgot its video game roots. The monsters were once human. They were mutated from the craziest of sources and to tell the entire backstory is a movie in itself! I’m okay with this core change. It would have made for an amusing B-Movie horror film back in the 50’s, but these days, the demands are elsewhere.

Audiences want it loud. Production studios want realism. For me, I have too much of a cat’s curiousity. I want to see what kind of story can materialize from many an 80’s arcade game. Not all of them had enough of a narrative to begin with.

No matter what, Dwayne Johnson, can do no wrong. His natural charm and the investment he makes into the roles will usually get me buying a movie ticket for. Even when he was a wrestler, this guy is the only reason I paid attention to the WWE. I can smell what The Rock is cooking, and that’s his natural charm. When he has that pearly white smile, you know you are in for a ride. He makes anything he appears in just that gosh darn fun.

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Beyond Ready Player One. On Technology and the Music

5 Apr

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

  • Spoiler Alert

The virtual reality (VR) interfaces we have today has not drastically changed in Steven Spielberg‘s adaptation of the book, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Futurists have to believe advancements in neural interfaces and holo projection will fill in the gap instead of advancements in the hardware used today. The former is vaguely suggested and the latter, none is even considered. This movie is not comparable to The Matrix or The Congress. Amusingly, a joke is made when nature calls. Unplugging is required.

Even in the future 30 years from now, folks are still wearing those darned headsets! I am having neural seizures since not everyone is going to have full command of their senses to believe the world they are jumping into is real. The IMAX 3D presentation hardly jumped; much of the visual treatment was flat. The music featured, however, was amazing and it spoke to me. Although for this glimpse into virtual reality, when my first exposure into this discourse is with William Gibson’s Neuromancer, the bar is set high. This work is neither at Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell level of exploration, even though the story offers a fleeting tease of what could be.

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Very Little is Elevated in Pacific Rim: Uprising

26 Mar

pru_tsr1sheet8_john_rgb_3-720x1140By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

* Spoiler Alert

The worry with Pacific Rim: Uprising is in whether it is going to be like one of Michael Bay’s Transformers films. When considering filmmaker Steven DeKnight is part of the writer’s room for the latter franchise and is new to directing blockbusters, my fears are justified. Before this film, he’s only handled TV productions. After seeing the atrocious Transformers: The Last Knight, the thought of this film echoing a similar idea with Amara (Cailee Spaeny) and her companion ‘bot, Scrapper, in the trailer scared me.

Technically, she has to pilot this small ‘bot. Later on, it is modified for remote control. When the story jumps 10 years into the future and we are dealing with a Robotech “Next Generation” scenario, I am still worried.

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Where’s the Archaeology in Tomb Raider?

22 Mar

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

  • Spoiler Alert

Tomb Raider is one of those franchise universes I loved playing and following because of the locations. From lost catacombs in Peru to Egypt, China to Greece, Cambodia and back to Egypt, the original games went to a whole ton of places where I happily followed along. The films took her to Cambodia, Italy, Greece and Africa. The reboot stuck to a jungle island in the Devil’s Sea (off Japan) and the followup went to remote parts of Russia. Both were very enjoyable plays, but I missed the crazy fantastique from the early games.

The original movies and games, to which longtime fans will recall, had Lara Croft globetrotting to picturesque ancient worlds to deal with ancient evils. If she was not the figure digging for the truth, either her allies or enemies were. However cheesy these films were, those movies belonged in the so bad it’s good category. When Angelina Jolie declined to reprise her role for a third film, the time was ripe to start the games anew. Of course, that meant the movie universe needs to follow suit.

This version of Lara (Alicia Vikander) has no archaeological training. She’s a young lady on the run not only from her past but also her future. She’s a spunky lass with no proper future in sight; she has daddy issues. This part of the plot defines the core of the film and narrative-wise, this re-imaging is off to a good start.

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