Jigsaw

It was only very recently that I discovered Saw would be getting another sequel, then we were told it was something of a reboot but not really – and then we were slightly confused.

It’s a sequel… but it’s still kind of a reboot.

 

The entire film is one gigantic callback to the originals in that there is a room filled with literally every single tool we have ever seen Jigsaw use on his unwitting victims.

And that right there is this film’s only problem: it tried too hard to be a reference to its own franchise. Although it still did a good job of setting up the possibility of a sequel… maybe we’ll get another six or seven of those in the coming years.

 

As expected, Jigsaw gets right into things, we aren’t even introduced to the victims and they’re already suffering – which is good, because some of us are just slightly sadistic and we like that kind of stuff. Hey, don’t judge, why else would someone go to a movie like that?

What I enjoyed was that, for the majority of the film, we have no clue who the killer is. We don’t know if its Jigsaw himself (remember, “he is supposed to be dead”) or if the killer is a copycat; we don’t know if the killer is a cop or his partner, or if the killer is someone no one expected at all. And that’s good, a good murder mystery is supposed to keep the killer a secret from you, but you’re also supposed to be able to figure the whole thing out before the big reveal. Everything is given to us, its all in plain sight, we just have to spot it to know whats really going on.

MINOR SPOILER WARNING WHICH IS TECHNICALLY A MAJOR SPOILER BUT I DON’T ACTUALLY TELL YOU ANYTHING MAJOR: there is a twist at the end. I don’t know how the twist caught me off guard and I don’t know why, honestly, at this point twists are to be expected.

 

Anywho, it was great seeing that creepy little doll again.

 

 

 

And no, no one is forced to cut their foot off this time.

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Project Offset – Skyrim’s Unreleased Rival

Back in 2004 a small video games company was launched by a group of developers who had just won the grand prize at the Independent Games Festival for their work on S2 Games’ Savage: The Battle for Newerth (an RTS with first and third-person aspects); they called their company Offset Software and they had an idea that would have taken the gaming world by storm.

 

Their game was to be an FPS (with third-person aspects) set in a high fantasy world and they had some pretty interesting ideas about gameplay.

From the start, Offset Software had two things in mind: Project Offset (a working title) and the Offset Engine. The tech demos alone showed graphics and gameplay that caught the world’s attention upon announcement back in 2005, managing to garner almost as much attention as it’s more well-funded contemporaries. Unfortunately, the game was trapped in development hell for another five years, eventually being canned in 2010 without any real explanation.

 

Project Offset was to be set in the fictional realm of Aelon (I think that’s how its spelt, I couldn’t find any articles with the name in them, I mostly just found videos and short articles referencing interviews which deemed themselves impossible to track down), with several different campaigns. Remember how that horrible Alien vs Predator game had three different campaigns? One where you played as a Xenomorph, one where you played as a Predator and another where you played as a Marine? Project Offset had something similar in mind; the game had five different classes for the player to pick (Warrior, Wizard, Engineer, Paladin and Assassin), each class had their own campaign and your decisions and actions in one campaign affected the game-world of the others; with the core idea being that each of your characters was technically living in the same game-world and that they could – in theory – meet up.

The differing classes were expected to play a major role in that each campaign told the story of it’s respective character in a non-chronological manner, each intertwining with the other (possibly meaning that you would complete a segment as one class and then do it again as another; jumping back and forth in the storyline until you had one cohesive story) – with one part of the story rumoured to be set hundreds of years before the others, possibly to fill in some plot points.

The layout of the game was supposed to allow the developers to continue releasing new storylines to players through downloadable expansions even long after the game’s initial release.

 

 

So what happened to Project Offset?

Offset Software was originally started by just four developers, when they first started, the company was little more than a hobby, with the devs constantly swapping roles when and as needed. After they’d announced Project Offset to the world with a short tech demo, they started hiring more staff, eventually reaching a grand total of 50 staff members, and they survived on donations from gamers who were eager to get their hands on the then highly awaited Project Offset.

Then came February 2008, Intel bought Offset Software (along with all their assets) and set them to work on the Larrabee – a GPGPU (General-Purpose Computing on Graphics Processing Unit) – the chip was meant to be the core of a consumer 3D graphics card; but due to low performance in tests, the Larrabee project was terminated in May 2010…

And with no more reason to develop a game to go along with the Larrabee, Intel shut Offset Software down.

 

Offset was destroyed, their engine had been licensed for use in one game: an MMOFPS called Firefall from Red 5 Studios, who, seeing as Offset Software was now gone, had no choice but to attempt to maintain and upgrade the engine themselves; today, Firefall uses a heavily modified version of the original Offset Engine.

 

And the really sucky part? The four founders of Offset Software tried to get the Offset Engine and Project Offset back… to no avail. Intel had decided to hold onto all the licensing, ideas and assets; in Intel’s eyes, there was no point in letting it all go, even if they weren’t planning on doing anything with the material.

 

So, one of Offset Software’s founders seems to have dropped off the grid (I’m sure he’s somewhere, but he clearly didn’t tell the media where he went), the other three went on to form Fractiv and created small iOS games, eventually creating Lane Splitters – to great success, because Lane Splitters won Fractiv several accolades, with the game hitting the top of the Apple Store charts numerous times as the most downloaded app; at last check, Lane Splitters sat with over 16 million downloads on iTunes and a 4.5 star rating with over 40 000 reviews.

Fractiv hasn’t said anything about any attempts at reacquiring Project Offset and it’s accompanying engine, but there is an online rumour that maybe Fractiv is looking to earn enough money to entice Intel to sell their assets back to them.

 

Who knows, maybe it will work.

 

Maybe one day, Offset Software will reboot, Project Offset will be given it’s actual title and maybe, just maybe, we’ll finally be able to play it.

Thor: Ragnarok

No, Thor, NO!!!

 

While Thor: Ragnarok was probably the best film of the trilogy, it bugs me that they tried to go for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy-level humour’ and stopped at being ‘just funny’.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that Marvel finally realised that Thor has access to this widely varied and crazy universe, but Thor and Peter Quill are two very different people, and the thing that happens when you put them together just barely survives outside of the womb from whence it came.

I enjoyed the humour now and then, like when Thor says “He’s a friend from work!” (a line suggested by a fan), but every now and then it just felt dry and overdone; like they were pushing the humour just a bit too hard and failing miserably.

Although I guess that is what happens when Thor finally comes into his own as a solo hero: he gains something of a sense of humour and his air of arrogance (somewhat) returns.

 

What I do like is that we’re introduced to Surtur very quickly (incredibly quickly), Thor makes short work of him (in the comics, that fight probably would have gone on for ages) and then decides to return to Asgard.

Where he finds Loki impersonating Odin.

I’m guessing you can tell where things go from there.

 

I was hoping that Surtur’s presence would lead to Beta Ray Bill’s introduction, but sadly not; and while Hulk fighting in a gladiatorial arena on a planet called Sakaar does heavily imply the Planet Hulk storyline, we have to realise that the Grandmaster had no part in that story, and that Sakaar was definitely not a junk planet.

Unfortunately we will probably never get another live-action Hulk solo film, simply because Universal Studios owns the title “Hulk”, they’ve given up the character but they still own the name (at the time of writing, that is; Stan Lee has said that Marvel is working on getting back all the rights to their characters, so this topic is subject to change).

Speaking of Planet Hulk, what the heck happened to Korg’s voice?!?!?! Is he still a prepubescent rock? Will he turn into a full grown boulder for his next appearance in the MCU? Did Marvel feel like there were too many masculine voices in the film? What happened?!

 

Okay, I’m calm now.

One of the things that bugged me was the differences between certain scenes in the trailers and those exact same scenes in the film. Some of the differences made sense, certain story information had to be withheld until the actual release of the film. The reasons behind other changes absolutely escape me; one such scene would be Thor and Loki’s first encounter with Hela; which in the trailers was portrayed as being in what appeared to be a city street or alleyway (you can tell from the bricks in the background) but in the film it happens in an open, grassy field.

 

NOTE: this next paragraph is a bit spoilery in terms of references to the comics, if you’d like to spot those yourself, skip it and come back after you’ve watched the film.

Something to look out for, is Thor’s ‘umbrella’ as Doctor Strange calls it (we all know it’s Mjolnir but it’s a reference to the character Donald Blake, who, until just recently, was the human host for Thor’s spirit – there was also a reference to Donald Blake in the first Thor film); once upon a time the hammer could take the form of a cane or umbrella, and would transform Donald into Thor when needed. Other references would be the faces on the tower the Grandmaster seems to live in, I managed to spot Hulk, Man-Thing and Hercules, see if you can identify the rest.

 

Thor: Ragnarok was good fun, it really was. Valkyrie came through nicely towards the end of the film (to be honest I was slightly worried that her character had been ruined when we saw her in the first trailer) and it was good to finally see a Hulk that could actually string together sentences – even if they were a bit short.

But Ragnarok suffers from the same problems as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2: too much not-so-hilarious-comedy (they were really trying way too hard) and not enough feels.

 

Although I have to admit, it was great to see Thor has finally learned how to deal with his brother; because each film with Loki in it goes through the same thing: Thor is constantly falling for his tricks… well NO MORE!!!

 

 

 

Oh and if you’re a fan of Lady Sif, sorry to disappoint; actress Jaimie Alexander was in the middle of filming for a crime/drama series called Blindspot when Marvel approached her about reprising the role and she felt her schedule was full enough. Sorry, guys.

rAge 2017

South Africa isn’t known for geek and gaming conventions, but we do have some pretty awesome stuff going on from time to time.

Once a year, in the starting weeks of October, the TicketPro Dome in Johannesburg plays host the country’s largest gaming and geek convention: rAge. There are other, smaller conventions earlier on in the year, being Geekfest (less gaming, more paraphernalia for pretty much everything) and ICON (a massive cosplay convention). rAge takes these two expos and puts them together; with the added benefit of being near the end of the year, so we get to see and play a good deal of the games that were showcased at E3 earlier on in the year.

 

Sidenote: I had originally written this article just a few days after rAge 2017, and it was originally intended for both New Game + magazine and for this blog, but apparently I forgot to upload it. So here it is, enjoy!

 

 

rAge 2017 has drawn to a close…

The hype has died down…

The rAge Facebook group will be silent for the next ten months or so (once people are done identifying which cosplayers they took pictures with, of course).

And last but not least, we are all hyped up for the release of Assassin’s Creed: Origins (at the time of writing, anyway, by the time you read this the game will already have been released).

Oh, and our pockets are empty BEFORE the festive season starts (that’s a bummer).

 

When I first asked the team at New Game + if they’d let me cover rAge this year they were ecstatic, so I got an instant ‘YES!’… and now, just a day after rAge, I realise something: you guys are going to be reading about it a month after it happened; AC Origins will be out just a few days before this issue hits shelves… so now how the Hell do I talk about an event that you either attended or will have no interest in until August 2018? I don’t know.

But bear with me, because I’m going to do this anyway.

rAge this year was spectacular, it really was. As someone who’s been attending for years (although I did miss rAge 2015), I can’t really say that it was the best rAge ever (when an annual event like this has been going for fifteen years, there is always a better year); but the wonderful thing about rAge is that no two rAges are the same.

Never again will rAge have the Assassin’s Creed Origins demo, or the Shadow of War demo; next year, indie developer Robot Wizard probably won’t be doing voice over auditions for their upcoming game, Jengo (chances are, they’ll be showcasing it!); Shire will probably have more Harry Potter wands and Lord of the Rings paraphernalia and Cosmic Comics will always have different statues Pop!s for sale.

There will always be familiar exhibits, Microsoft, Sony and BT Games among them. Then there are the familiar traders… if you attend rAge for even two years in a row, you start to see familiar faces, and you can soon put names to them (the ever friendly artists in the Artist Alley are an amazing example).

The cosplay this year was incredible, I didn’t stick around long enough on Sunday to really get a good look at all the cosplayers but between my best friends, the rAge Facebook group and my co-writers here at New Game +, I got to see the best of the best.

And OH MY GOD!!! Did anyone see that incredible Doctor Strange cosplay?! If any of you were at ICON this year, you’d probably recognise the film-accurate costume as the winner of 1st place in the Masters Cosplay Category.

 

Onto the games!!!

I managed to get hands-on with Shadow of War, which I loved – not even gonna talk about it, because thinking about it just makes my mind explode.

AC Origins was probably the most coveted game on exhibition, with the queue being impossibly long unless you got to it early or were attending rAge for the whole weekend. The combat felt much more self-driven; because in older AC games, once you learn to chain attacks, you can just start executing enemies left, right and centre with the greatest of ease; now your enemies can actually stop you from doing that, and they won’t wait their turn to attack either. The game currently has a level cap of 40 but it will go up with the release of the “The Hidden Ones” DLC in January 2018. The second DLC pack, “The Curse of the Pharaohs” will release in March 2018 and will also raise the level cap. There is also an event, which will have started by the time you lovely readers get this, called Trials of the Gods.

Quick note: All of the DLC I mentioned above actually looks quite sizeable and well worth the price tag. There will even be a photo mode, so you can spam all your Instagram and Twitter followers with amazing images of Bayek in combat or sitting atop the Great Pyramid.

Call of Duty: WW2 promises to be an amazing return to ‘boots on the ground’ military combat, but I probably would have been nearer to the top of the scoreboard if I’d been given a mouse and keyboard. The only thing that kind of sucked was the lack of innovation, there was nothing new to try out; it really just felt like I was playing Modern Warfare 3 or Black Ops 1 (maybe even Black Ops 2); then again, it was just the gameplay demo, there will be far more upon release. I’m on the fence with this one, but if you’re looking for a first-person shooter in a true war setting, maybe it would be best to stick with Battlefield 1.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my hands on The Crew 2, but I did get to try out Forza Motorsport 7 on Sunday morning before the swarms were allowed in (oh, the wonders of a media pass). I’m not particularly a fan of Forza games but I’m not going to lie to you, I had a ton of fun.

I noticed that Ginx TV was in attendance but I was unfortunately otherwise occupied engaging with other gamers or the arcade games that Eurasian Entertainment had brought with them.

The NAG LAN was incredible, as always; I didn’t get to take part but I spoke to some of the people on the other side of the fence and they said that it was a tonne of fun to be able to meet other PC gamers and talk about their gaming rigs, all the while playing CS:GO, Overwatch or Dota 2 (or Paladins, apparently a whole bunch of them were playing Paladins).

Last year, the focus of the gaming tournaments up on screen was evenly split between Dota 2 and Black Ops 3, this year, the dome was dominated by CS:GO, with ESL Africa hosting their finals on Friday and Saturday. Speaking of, did anyone catch the final match? I was having lunch when it happened.

 

Overall, rAge 2017 was a blast, I feel like there could have been more emphasis on the fact that it was rAge’s 15th anniversary but hey, it was still a heck of a lot of fun.

Probably the highlight of rAge for me was that we, New Game +, had a stand there. It was so much fun to meet with some of our fans, as well as make some new ones. Hope to see you all next year!

Stranger Things 2

I’d originally thought Stranger Things season 2 was only going to go live on Halloween, but it actually came online on Friday the 27th, so I had a few days to get up to scratch before Halloween itself.

 

SPOILER WARNING: Minor spoilers for Stranger Things 2.

SECOND SPOILER WARNING: everything from season 1 is fair game, you have been warned.

 

One of my favourite things about Netflix Originals is that they release entire seasons in one go; working with the formula of less suspense and more binging (a formula that works mainly because they add so many new series almost daily).

It took me a couple days to get through the whole thing – let’s be honest, not everyone has the time (or energy) to binge for nine hours straight (even those of us who barely sleep at all).

Stranger Things 2 left me with more questions than answers. We’ve now met one of the other experiments of the lab, being 008 (or ‘Kali’ as she was known to her friends), which makes one wonder if any others escaped and what their abilities are – presumably we won’t be seeing anyone with super strength or indestructibility, nothing on the same level of the crazy scale as the characters in Marvel and DC’s comics; but I’m guessing that the next season will bring about the introductions of some of the other ‘experiments’ from the lab (if there will even be a third season, which I’m pretty sure there will be).

Stranger Things 2 jumps right into things, introducing Kali within the opening seconds of the first episode, only for us to not see her again until a later episode, when she meets Eleven. We soon learn how Eleven is still alive and it is adorable. Will, as seen in the trailers, occasionally switches between their home dimension and the Upsidedown, he has become the flea (in a metaphor you will only understand if you remember the boys talking to their science teacher at Will’s ‘funeral’ back in season 1).

Dustin and Lucas have a little competition, seeing as there is a new girl in town (the redhead seen in the trailers) and they both like her – mainly because she topped their scores in the local arcade.

 

Remember in the previous season, Will’s Dungeons and Dragons character, Will the Wise, was taken out by the Demogorgon (the one in the game), only for Will himself to very nearly be killed by the very real Demogorgon who later became the season’s main villain. This same foreshadowing applies to the end of the very last episode of season 1, when Mike, acting as Dungeon Master, placed the Thessalhydra on the game board, we knew there would be a second season, with a much deadlier monster as their opponent.

The boys don’t name the new villain after the Thessalhydra, but they do name it after another D&D monster – which I won’t ruin.

This foreshadowing also applies to the game Dragon’s Lair, which we see Dustin playing in the trailers for season 2 and during the first episode. Remember the shot of the knight dying?

 

Speaking of Dragon’s Lair, I have to emphasise that not only did Dragon’s Lair really exist, it actually looked like that, it was made to look like an animated film.

This new season seemed to drag in places, like the episode following Joyce Byers in the previous season, it felt as if some of the scenes could have been condensed for the same effect. One thing that irritated me was that this season left quite a few things open-ended in what felt like a rather forced and unnatural manner.

 

Either way, I look forward to the next season… or the ever-expanding headcanon/fanon which will take its place, whichever comes first.

 

 

What was really satisfying, though, is that Will and Eleven finally got to go to that Snow Ball he’d been talking about!

Jurassic World: Evolution – News

So I know it’s the middle of rAge weekend (that article will come soon, by the way) but in the northern hemisphere, somewhere out there, at Frontier Expo 17, Frontier released footage from within the game engine of their latest upcoming IP: Jurassic World: Evolution.

I frikkin love Jurassic Park, I love Jurassic World and I love the two films in between them as well (yes, this includes JP3, much as many people may hate on it I found it enjoyable). So when I was set upon by the news that we’d be getting a Jurassic World game (with a trailer that literally just popped up out of nowhere), you can imagine that I decided to flip out.

 

For those who have yet to see the original trailer and this newest one (or if you just want to watch them again), here are the links:

Jurassic World: Evolution trailer

And the JW:E in-game graphics first look trailer

 

So far, according to Frontier’s website and other news articles I’ve read, JW:E will be somewhere in between JPOG (Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis) and Jurassic World: The Game; in that gameplay will generally be similar to JPOG but you’ll also be able to “bioengineer new dinosaur breeds” as we (sort of) do in Jurassic World: The Game.

 

What I’ve managed to glean is that the player will be making decisions based on three areas: Entertainment, Security and Science. Between these, and the combination thereof, players will build their own unique parks; which, unlike the parks in the films, don’t have to fail – but that’s entirely up to you, of course. Very much like in JPOG, there will be ‘natural disasters’ so the infamous typhoons that Isla Nublar and her sister islands are so well known for will have a say in what you do from time to time.

 

Then, of course, there is life’s little habit of constantly finding ways…

I’m sure you all know what that means.

 

PS: After reading the completely subjective opinion I have written about above, my Best Friend and partner in crime (though there is lack of criminal evidence to support that statement) has forced me to add the fact that the “I told you so ” from her lips will form the moment I played this game. She is convinced that it will be a huge failure. And for the sake of peace at home,  I will entertain her notion. Please, JPE, prove this female wrong.

PPS: I (the actual author of this blog) did not write the above PS, that was written by said partner in crime; the very same partner in crime who made me promise not to watch the new IT without her – don’t worry, partner in crime, I probably wouldn’t have gone near the cinema without you while that film was still on the circuit.

 

PPPS: But it can’t possibly be all that horrid, can it? It’s being developed by Frontier, the same people who made Rollercoaster Tycoon World; and if JPE is anything like RTW, it will be spectacular (especially with the attention to detail that Frontier is so well known for).

Red Dead Redemption 2 Trailer

The trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2 just dropped!

And it was…

Kind of underwhelming.

 

 

Rockstar seems to be going for the same marketing technique as what they did with GTAV; releasing a short teaser and then a longer trailer almost a year later. But the trailer for GTAV just had so much more stuff than what we got out of this trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2.

I did however manage to glean some information from different sources.

 

Set before Red Dead Redemption, we will be playing as outlaw Arthur Morgan; it seems we may be seeing the beginnings of the Van der Linde gang and maybe even the recruitment of John Marston (my own little theory, might not happen but I can dream).

If the trailer is anything to go by, the map will be huge, and it sounds like Rockstar will be taking many of the heist mechanics they originally made for GTAV and putting them into Red Dead Redemption II.

I was really hoping for a bit more, and I won’t say much more until we learn much more. Still no release date, but at least the game hasn’t been delayed further, set for a Spring 2018 release (Spring as in, spring in the northern hemisphere, so anywhere between March and June).
Anywho, here is the link to the trailer. Let me know what you guys think.

Just a quick update…

Hey guys, just a quick update on my blogging schedule and how it may or may not change in the future.

 

Running a blog is hard. Sure, it seems easy enough but this is actually hard work when it comes down to it.

The thing about running a blog, is that if it’s ever going to get close to the first page of Google results, it has to be popular, but for it to be popular, it has to be active – regularly.

 

Therein lies the problem which most bloggers face (this applies to YouTubers, vloggers, Instagram celebrities, etc, as well): unless we really get into it, unless we base our daily schedules around it, life tends to get in the way of it. To add to that, blockbuster movies only come out every so often, and besides IT, the last one was Wonder Woman (this is why I sometimes write about collectables, comics and old games).

When I first started this blog, I was still in high school, back then it was more of an idea than anything. Over the years I’ve come to post more often, but this year has probably been my most active (without looking at the statistics to actually check how often I’ve been posting lately as opposed to back in 2015), which is great. But I’m only one person – I don’t have an entire team of reviewers like Moviepilot and Rotten Tomatoes.

This blog really means something to me and I’d never abandon it, I may go for months without posting, but I’ll do my best to catch up as soon as I can (you should see my Prehistoric Earth blog, I post there less than I do here).

Do I want a team of reviewers? No, I’m quite happy going to each film I want to review (although it really wouldn’t hurt to have friends going with to share opinions), but that, unfortunately, means that I can’t get to every single movie that comes out.

 

Earlier this year, I started working at a store called Cosmic Comics, officially they’re known as Cosmic Comics South Africa, but they are a completely separate business entity from the Cosmic Comics in Las Vegas. While I worked there, I only worked three days a week, and I earned a reasonable amount per day. This meant that I had the money and the time to go to the cinemas just about whenever I wanted. And that was perfect, I think my blog actually did better towards the end of 2016/start of 2017.

But towards July 2017, I was struggling to fund my expensive habits – being my expensive morning coffee every day on the way to work, my growing comic collection and my still very small Marvel Gallery collection; literally, it’s just two statues right now).I asked my boss for more days, but every time I asked he would just hire more staff.

I asked my boss for more days, but every time I asked he would just hire more staff. At first I thought he didn’t actually want me but needed more staff, eventually, I found out that he was actually trying to get more staff for rAge (a massive gaming event every October, I’ll be covering it this year). That left me in a tight squeeze: either cut down on comics and coffee or find a better paying job; thank goodness I managed to do both, but then DC started an event called Metal…

And to boot, I quit my job.

 

Right now the only money I’m earning is the cash that comes in from New Game + magazine, a South African gaming and geek culture magazine I write for.

I quit my job because I couldn’t deal with the hours and I wasn’t being paid enough. I made the jump from Cosmic Comics to a company called Heroes of Games and Comics (HGC, for short), where I was promised that I’d earn considerably more than at Cosmic (which is what one would expect, moving from part-time to full-time). Needless to say, that wasn’t really the case. My probation period (technically my training period) lasted two weeks, but after that, I was supposed to be earning the same as my colleagues. That didn’t happen. So I left. My main problem with HGC wasn’t the hours, I could live with it if Cosmic had the same hours, but that’s because it took me more than an hour just to get to work in the mornings, and just as long (if not longer, depending on whether or not I missed the bus) to get home; it was because of this that I had literally no free time at all.

I’d get home, eat, spend maybe half an hour with my family and then I’d start studying. Add to that my irregular sleeping patterns, at the end of the day, it just wasn’t worth it.

Please note that I didn’t burn bridges with either company, I may still work for or alongside them in future (I still get my comics and statues from Cosmic Comics) and it looks like HGC might hire me as a consultant of sorts.

 

Right now the issue is that I’ve got tons of free time but not a lot of money. Next year, I’m going to university. and depending on how my schedule works out, I might not have free time or money.

So I’ve taken the opportunity to broaden my horizons and do some short courses while I actually have the time to do them.

 

But don’t worry, I’ll continue to do what I can to have a review up within a week of a film’s release; my Dark Tower review is taking so long because I honestly don’t know what to say about it, it was just that bad.

IT (2017)

Note: So I only noticed this now but apparently this post didn’t upload the first time I tried to post it (which was literally two days after IT came out). I doubt people will be too interested in this review now, but hopefully it’s still enjoyable.

 

 

16 September:

So earlier this evening a friend and I went to watch the new IT…

Let’s just say that watching the remake of the film that created one of my deepest fears wasn’t all fun and games – there were a few times where I considered leaving the cinema; but then I noticed the other audience members weren’t dealing with the jumpscares as well as my friend and I, so I figured I’d stick it out. And I’m glad I did.

Now, several hours later (it’s almost midnight at the time of writing this segment), I’m wracking my brain trying to remember everything I can from the original IT and from the bits of the book that I can remember (it’s been a while since I last read it and I never got to finish it; seriously need to reread it), I’ve got a lot of material to work with for the review so this is going to be a long night.

Apparently, this is how we overcome our deepest fears: by going to the movies.
Now, when is the Arachnophobia remake coming out?

The Next Morning:

The review:

When the IT remake was announced, I was thrilled, the friend I mentioned in the above paragraphs made me promise not to watch it without her, I did and she made the same promise to me as well, needless to say, we were really looking forward to it.

But once I’d settled into my cinema chair and the film had started, I slowly started to realise what I was in for. Georgie got his paper boat. Which then proceeded to make its way down a stormwater drain. And then It appeared.

Pennywise

The Dancing

Clown

There he was, Bill Skarsgård, covered in makeup. Made to look like Pennywise.

It was at this moment that I came to the realisation that I was probably going to start sobbing at any second.

After making the mistake of watching the original back when I was eight years old (with another friend of mine, he fared the experience much better than I), I’d had a deep-seated hatred and fear of clowns. Never liked people in those giant costumes either, always hated it when Simba from Simba Chips or Sasko Sam from SASKO (the bread company) came to visit my nursery school, but that’s a story for another time.

So yeah, thanks, Tim Curry, Ronald McDonald and I got off on the wrong foot before he even had a chance to greet me, and thank you too, Bill Skarsgård, now Ronald and I will never get along.

The new IT doesn’t take very long to get into things, excluding Georgie and his paper boat, we start seeing weird things literally within the first ten minutes. And I’m not talking ‘first ten minutes of Paranormal Activity’ stuff, I’m talking ‘last twenty minutes of Jeepers Creepers’ stuff.

We’re introduced to the protagonists and (for most of them) we see Pennywise playing to their fears within a few minutes of each character’s introduction.

IT hits the ground running and literally does not give you a single break, there is never a moment of calm; I thought we were barely an hour into the movie, but looking at the time indicated that we’d been in the cinema for nearly two hours – and even then it didn’t look like the film would end anytime soon.

This is one of those films where you literally can’t leave to go to the bathroom or get a snack, if you miss just two minutes within the first hour, there are things later on in the film that just won’t make sense.

 

It uses people’s fears to get to them.

Stan is afraid of disappointing his father, a rabbi at a local temple, but he is also absolutely terrified of the painting in his father’s office; It puts the two together and brings the ‘person’ (if you could call it that, online she’s being called the ‘Flute Lady’, in the film’s credits she’s named Judith) in the painting to life (the painting itself is based on the works of Amadeo Modigliani, more on that later).

Ben is frightened of being alone, but (at the start) he doesn’t have any friends so he spends time in the library, It manages to lure him into a dark corner and nearly gets to him when he’s alone.

Richie is scared of clowns, so Pennywise is already in the perfect form to get to him.

Bill’s fear isn’t so much a phobia and is more guilt than anything, but good old Pennywise manages to get his attention with just a few drops of water – remember, Georgie went missing during a rainstorm.

Beverly’s fear is more insinuated than actually shown, every now and then the film hints at her father being sexually abusive. But, she also gets a scary scene to herself, in the bathroom; with a lot of blood. Just after she’s bought some tampons at the nearby pharmacy.

Eddie is an asthmatic and a hypochondriac (he’s afraid of germs, dirt, infections, and the like), so It comes to him in the form of a homeless leper, covered in dirt, missing a nose, and looking like a walking plague.

The one thing I found most unnerving, was something I only noticed after I left the cinema, that there are several moments in the film which are aimed at us; the audience.

That scene in the library? Pay attention to the old lady in the background, notice how she’s constantly smiling and staring at Ben while he flips through a book on the town’s history. There are a few other moments like this, instances where Pennywise shows up in pictures in the background, stuff like that.

The creepy painting in Stanley’s father’s office wasn’t in the original story, it was something that director Andy Muschietti added himself. It’s actually based on one of his childhood fears, once upon a time, in his childhood home, his parents had a print of a Modigliani painting; Amadeo Modigliani had an interesting style, often painting people with elongated and deformed bodies or faces, the painting always frightened Muschietti and his child-self was terrified of the possibility of meeting face to face with the woman in the painting.

“He (Amadeo Modigliani) often does these portraits with elongated characters. His vision of humans were with elongated necks, crooked faces and empty eyes most of the time. It was so deformed that, as a child, you don’t see that as an artist’s style. You see it as a monster.” – Andy Muschietti

And let’s be honest; I’m sure most of us have a fear similar to this, as a child I always thought that the eyes in paintings and on billboards were following me, wasn’t as bad as my fear of spiders or clowns but it was just a little something that had me slightly paranoid whenever we left the house.

There were a couple of scenes and themes in the book that were missing in the film but there is good reason for that: one reason being child pornography is immoral (and illegal) and the other being that there was a scene in which a group of homophobes beat a homosexual practically to death – you can see how either of these would be horribly received by the general public.

How does it hold up against

the original and the miniseries?

I’m going to have to clear something up before you waste your time on the original film AND the miniseries: they’re the same thing. The miniseries came out first and consisted of two episodes, said episodes were then put together to make up the nearly three and a half hour long film; the 2017 release, for comparison, is two hours and fifteen minutes long.

The original IT constantly jumps between the 1950s and the 1980s, exploring the childhoods of our protagonists and their first encounter with It to their adulthoods and final encounter with It; whereas this new iteration focuses only on their childhoods, and moved the setting up a few years to the 1980s, giving most of the people of today something they can relate to, what with all the nostalgia and music of the 80s.

One difference fans of the original will have noticed while watching the reboot is that there was no Wolf Man scene. In the original, Richie has an encounter with It just after watching Universal’s Wolf Man at the cinema, but because the setting has been moved by nearly thirty years, Wolf Man wouldn’t have been as applicable to the character. The only reference to this in the new IT is a shot of a cinema with “Nightmare on Elm Street 5” on the board outside.

And no, Freddy Krueger does not make an appearance (but it looks like we will be seeing him in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One).

As someone who was terrified by the original as a kid, imagine my disappointment at going back to discover that it was actually atrociously horrible. The first part of the original is pretty good, although there are multiple parts where It could have easily killed each of the main characters but didn’t, and the second half was just anticlimactic and filled with more drama than horror. And the final fight scene? Don’t even get me started.

One similarity I have to applaud was one I didn’t even notice until well into doing my research for this review: the power of belief.

At one point in the original, the first time the kids defeat Pennywise, they discover that they can use It’s strengths to their advantage; he is how they perceive him, he reacts to things the way they think he would; so Eddie uses his inhaler on Pennywise, saying that the contents consisted of battery acid, and sprays It a couple of times. And so the inhaler was filled with battery acid, which melted one side of Pennywise’s face.

I won’t go too into detail about how this is similar to something in the reboot, but let’s just say that it’s a throwaway moment that even I didn’t think about until a few moments after the fact.

The only review that matters:

What does Stephen King himself think about the new IT?

“I had hopes but I wasn’t prepared for how good it really was. It’s something that’s different and at the same time it’s something that audiences are going to relate to, and they’re gonna like the characters. Because, to me, it’s all about character; if you like the characters, you care, and then the scares generally work.”

“I think that my fans will really enjoy the movie” … “I think that some of them will go back two or three times to actually savour the thing; I mean, I went back and saw it a second time and felt that I was seeing things the second time through that I’d missed the first time.”

“Skarsgård was great as Pennywise, and he’s got big shoes to fill, let’s face it; because people remember Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown and they remember the look that Pennywise had.”

“When I wrote the book, I thought to myself ‘Well, I’ve written some books and have gotten this reputation as a horror novelist, so IT will be my final exam. And I’ll bring back all the monsters, that I remember, from my childhood, the ones that I grew up with. Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man, The Thing from Beyond the Grave, because the entity that is Pennywise focuses on whatever that particular child fears the most. Well, I was thinking about the Universal Monsters and the ones that scared kids in the 50s, well, they’ve moved the timeframe, they had to, to the 80s. To me, that isn’t the important thing, the important thing is they kept the core idea that Pennywise gets to these kids by finding out what they’re afraid of and being that thing.”

Don’t you just love that? Very rarely do book-to-film adaptations work well when the author isn’t involved in production, so it really means something when a film like this does well and the author was only used as an over the phone consultant for the second half of the film’s production.

What’s really interesting to note is that the new IT has a secret title that was only revealed at the very end of the film… “IT: Chapter One”.

We all know what that means; there was a little bit of foreshadowing in the film for the sequel but no announcements have as yet (at the time of writing) been made, director Andy Muschietti is eager to do a sequel, he has said that they could start on pre-production by mid-2018, but we’ll just have to wait and see. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait another 27 years though (which just so happens to be It’s feeding/hibernating cycle), as IT: Chapter One took place in 1989, meaning that the sequel would take place in 2016.

Jack Kirby 100th

If one had to think of the most influential names in comics, the first person to come to mind is Stan Lee, but that’s just Marvel. On the DC side of things we have Scott Snyder, but what about a man who could do both?

Sure, Scott has done some work for Marvel but these days he almost exclusively works with DC, Stan ‘The Man’ Lee has stuck with Marvel through the years; but there once was a man who did both, and he was probably the most influential writer and creator in comic book history.

None other than Jacob Kurtzburg.

Oh sorry, you probably don’t know him by that name, let me try again.

None other than Jack Kirby.

Ringing any bells now?

Because it should.

And if it doesn’t, I’m going to have to correct that by giving a long list of comic book characters/teams he created/co-created.

Here we go: Captain America, Brotherhood of Mutants, Celestials, Devil Dinosaur, Doctor Doom, Ego the Living Planet, Elektro, Fantastic Four (and each of it’s members), Fin Fang Foom, Forgotten One, Jane Foster, Galactus, Nick Fury, Grey Gargoyle, Heimdall, High Evolutionary, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the Inhumans (and a good deal of the individual characters), Juggernaut, Adam Warlock, Magneto, the X-Men (along with most members of the team) and a long list of others.

And I haven’t even started on DC.

For DC he created the New Gods (and literally every character associated with them, most notably Big Barda and Mister Miracle), Etrigan, Darkseid, Granny Goddess, Steppenwolf (who features very predominantly in the Justice League trailers), the Parademons, I could go on forever here.

You name a well-established comic book character that isn’t Batman or Superman, chances are ‘King Kirby’ had a hand in their creation; be it as the writer, artist, inker or letterer.

Marvel recently printed a whole bunch of True Believers in honour of King Kirby, reprinting many first appearances of different characters, all of whom, Jack Kirby had a hand in creating.

Born on August 28, 1917, Jack learned to draw comics by copying comic strips in newspapers, eventually working for different comic publishers under many different pen-names, eventually settling on ‘Jack Kirby’. After serving in the European Theatre in WWII, Jack returned to comics, joining up with Joe Simon to create Captain America (for a company called Timely Comics, which eventually became the Marvel we know and love today).

If you’re the kind of person who pays attention to the art in a comic (and, let’s face it, if you read comics you probably do pay attention to the art), you’ll notice the lines along the outer edges of a character’s body. You know, those lines that show just how wide Captain America’s right hook flies before it connects with Hitler’s chin.

Guess who invented those? Kirby.

Another thing Kirby did so well was to showcase the difference between Thor and his human self (if we go by his earliest appearances, once upon a time Thor was just a person who could pick up a specific cane which would turn into Mjolnir, which would, in turn, change him into Thor), kind of like how actor Christopher Reeve perfectly captured the difference between Superman and Clark Kent in a single scene, the one being confident and well postured and the other not.

To perfectly showcase this, I’ve included a link to Journey into Mystery #83 (the first appearance of Thor, as well as his human counterpart Donald Blake) here – just a little forewarning, the site may give you a few captchas, but that’s nothing to worry about.

Notice how Thor is posed confidently, practically showing off his strength and power, and Donald Blake (the man in a blue suit) is drawn as small and physically withdrawn.

Over the years, Jack became dissatisfied with Marvel, the pay was good at Marvel but he just wasn’t all that happy working with them; and if I were in his shoes I probably wouldn’t be that happy either, there was a lack of proper communication between Kirby and Lee; Kirby would come up with an amazing idea, Stan would add to and subtract from it, both would ignore the other’s ideas and when the comic was printed it was too late to make changes. Apparently, Kirby never read the comics he produced, one wonders if he even knew whether or not Stan Lee kept to his original ideas. The other major problem Jack had while working at Marvel was that he felt he wasn’t getting the recognition he deserved, which was the same reason he had when he originally left the company back when it was still called Timely Comics. Eventually, Marvel opted to change Jack’s contract, which sees him earning more but has him sign away certain legal rights when it came to the characters he created and the stories he wrote; he just laughed and made the jump to DC.

Which was probably the best thing he ever could have done for himself; he was earning slightly less than at Marvel, but DC paid attention to what he wanted to do, practically giving him free reign when it came to his creations; as a person, it is said that he was happier when working with DC.

Even though his New Gods didn’t catch on at the time of their first appearance, they’ve since gone on to become some of the most powerful beings in the DC Comics universe, and the most important.

Speaking of the New Gods, has anyone read the newest Mister Miracle comics? It’s a limited run of only twelve issues but just #1 by itself was incredible and I need someone to talk to about it.

 

 

Now, I know this is a little late (at the time of writing, it is almost a month after Jack’s 100th birthday), but Happy Birthday to Jack Kirby; comic book readers raise their glasses and tip their hats to you, my good man. Rest in peace.