Friday, October 11, 2013

New York ComicCon 2013 - Friday Edition

On the ground at NY ComicCon 2013

Francis Rizzo III has returned to ComicCon after a year off (Thanks, Obama) and the convention is better than ever, with tons of big-name panels and interesting stuff to check out. Interviews with the folks behind Bob's Burgers, Archer, Eagleheart, The League and Chozen, as well as chats with Pete Holmes and Dan Harmon are on tap, but for now, here's what was happening on Friday.

For anyone who is tired of getting DVDs lacking in bonus content and paltry streaming options, AMC is coming through in a big way with Yeah!, a new streaming app that marries cult movies with exclusive extras (a mix of text and video) created by AMC's people, in a slick presentation that syncs the extras with the films, but lets you enjoy them separately as well. It's like taking the old New Line Infinifil concept and applying it to streaming. Getting to sample Clerks with this treatment made it clear this could be the next big thing for cinephiles, and with subscriptions, TV (remember AMC's properties, like Breaking Bad and Mad Men) and purchases being discussed, this idea has some serious potential. The service is live now with 28 titles, and more added on a weekly basis.

Vampire Academy
The last place I thought I would be spending time at the NY ComicCon would be in a panel about a movie adaptation of a young-adult novel series about teen vampires. However, when I saw that Vampire Academy is written by Daniel Waters (Heathers) and directed by Mark Waters (Mean Girls, personal favorite The House of Yes) I felt like it might be worth skipping the Comic Book Men panel. With the teen girls gasping over the younger members of the panel, the Waters brothers offered entertainment for the older folks in the crowd, who know Barbara Stanwyck and The Hunger. The trailer shown was actually quite entertaining, with the mix of sex, violence and humor you'd expect from these filmmakers. If the actual movie doesn't drown in Twilight-level drama, it could be a surprising good time, crossing demographic boundaries.

Chucky Turns 25
The terrifying toy returned this month with the sixth film in the series, The Curse of Chucky, as well as a retrospective collection of the previous five films. After turning more toward meta comedy in the previous two films, creator Don Mancini brings the series back to its horror roots as writer and director, as a terrifying remix trailer made all too vividly clear. At ComicCon, he led several members of his cast, including Jennifer Tilly and Brad Dourif, on a trip down memory lane under the guidance of moderator Harry Knowles of Ain't it Cool fame. Tilly's presence made for a fun time, as she told stories of the perversion of puppeteers, and Dourif embarrassed his daughter Fiona, star of the franchise's latest chapter. It's safe to say that no one in attendance will think of little doll parts the same way ever again, and they'll probably stay away from craft services on the set of the next Chucky movie.

A New Novak
Since The Office left the NBC line-up, actor/writer/producer BJ Novak has kept something of a low profile, but he returns with Saving Mr. Banks, a Disney film about the music of Mary Poppins, and, in February, One More Thing, a new book of short stories, musings and other brief ventures. At ComicCon he entertained a filled-beyond-capacity room with a few pieces from the book, including a discussion of dark matter with a none-too-forthcoming scientist and a challenge Tony Robbins couldn't refuse. If these stories are any proof, this book is one to look out for, and Novak talked about taking the stories on the road, which would be even better, as his readings make them that much better.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

ComicCons Arrive on Long Island

The big ComicCon in the New York area these days is certainly the annual NY ComicCon, the four-day festival that takes over the Javits Center in New York City, drawing the second biggest pop-culture crowd in the U.S., second only to the iconic San Diego ComicCon. Though attempts were made to compete, like Wizard World's New York presence, and smaller shows, like the Big Apple Comic Con, crop up here and there, getting to the city and battling the near-claustrophobic crowds isn't for everyone. For the first time in pretty much anyone's memory, Long Island received its first ComicCon on June 16, 2013, as Frank Patz kicked off the first EternalCon at the Cradle of Aviation in Garden City, NY.

It's Been a While

I've been away from the convention circuit for a while, due to a number of issues, including personal and professional responsibilities and canceled conventions, but this year looks to be an opportunity to get back on track.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Skullgirls Rediscovers the Joy of Glitch-Free Fighting

Sporting beautiful hand-drawn animation (similar but different from the new Ray-Man game) Autumn Games' Skullgirls is old-school 2D fighting, inspired by Marvel vs. Capcom 2. But there's a major difference and that's programming to prevent cheap unlimited combos. It adds a level of challenge to a level of beauty, making this a game to watch when it comes out on XBLA and PSN in early 2012.

Ubiart: The Next Big Style?

Coming out in November, the new Ray-Man game (for all three major platforms) sports a gorgeous hand-drawn style that Ubisoft calls Ubiart. It results in some of the smoothest, most detailed in-game animation seen in modern gaming. The game isn't bad either, with the fast platforming action providing the wow-that's-fun feeling that the original Sonic games had.

Ears-On with Turtle Beach

After doing my best Metal Gear stealth job past security, I had a chance to check out Turtle Beach's new headsets made for Modern Warfare 3. There are four models, starting with the $99 Foxtrot going up to the $299 Delta, which sports rechargeable wireless and 7.1 surround sound. Pulling them on, they are super comfortable, they cut out the outside world well, wthe mic sounds tight and you can download special presets set up specifically by the game's developers.

More Payne

Had a chance to watch some live gameplay from the upcoming Max Payne 3, and from the few shoot-outs I saw, it's going to be a nice step-up for the frachise, with improved weapons handling and some very impressive animation. Being able to dive to get your shot and then having 360 degrees of range from which to shoot while lying on your back looks like brilliant fun.