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  • Never really been active on this site...

    4 days ago

    Fortro

    But now I have some free time and absolutely nothing to talk abiut so what better time to start then now? Maybe I will share my life story? Maybe use this as a platform to promote my non-existant products? Who knows? Who cares? Do you? I didn't think so. 


    So lets go on this pointless endeavour!

  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe: RANKED Part 1.

    1 week ago

    g1TheStickman


    WOoOoOaAaHHH NELLY, hello there ladies and gents and all! Whooo's ready for salt? Probable salt? I'm expecting this to get spicy.


    The Marvel Cinematic Universe, more commonly known as the MCU, is the biggest ongoing movie franchise of our times...I mean, literally. It's the highest grossing, and whilst that does have something to do with the volume of films released in this connected series of films that started 10 years ago this month...alllll the way back in 2008 with the game-changing Iron Man, it's also much to do with the consistent quality and entertainment they provide, particularly in recent years. With 10 years under their belt, and the (hopefully) epic Avengers: Infinity War right around the corner, set to hopefully shake up, and shape up the future of Marvel movies for years to come...I suppose it's time to look back on what we've seen so far, and y'know...offer opinions that might piss people off? Yeah that sounds good. It's time to RANK...the MCU. FUCK.


    So yeah, we're ranking every MCU movie released prior to the upcoming Infinity War. We're not including short films, comic tie-ins and most importantly, we're not including the TV shows, neither ABC or Netflix. Mostly that's because I haven't seen all of those, and because it would make an already complicated list about 1000% harder....but I mean...good or bad as those shows may be, they also are barely connected to the MCU films to begin with, and moreso ride their coat-tails for personal gain. As usual with these things, this is just my opinion, I'm not presenting what I decree to be the definitive ranking of the MCU, there are so many films, and personal tastes in genre and characters play a big part in what gets put where. This is just how I feel, I'd love to hear how you feel...so SHOOT THAT SHIT nicely IN THE COMMENTS BELOW. 

    ALRIGHT, THAT'S IT...LET US BEGIN.



    18. Thor: The Dark World (2013).

    We're starting our ranking way back in the distant past of 2013, perhaps the MCU's wonkiest year in terms of quality and dashed hopes. Coming hot off the heels of 2012's The Avengers, which is still considered by many to be the MCUs finest hour (We'll see where it ranks for me later, HUH?), and what many look back on now as the turning point for the tone, style and consistent quality of the franchise...2013? Kinda shit the bed a little. Not massively so, neither release that year was awful...no film in the MCU is really, but it was a worryingly turbulent start to 'Phase 2' of what had now become a much bigger world, deafeningly signposted by the mediocre waste of time that was Thor: The Dark World. This sequel to the original, decent enough Thor, Dark World is the go-to MCU film for anyone seeking to point out the ongoing problems of the franchise. Namely, predictability, crappy villains, and a hesitance to take its characters off the chess board...AKA, killing them off. The premise involves portals to different 'realms' starting to open up at random places, affecting gravity and also allowing all manner of things to pass in and out. One of these realms is Earth, and the unbearably bland Jane Foster, played by a Natalie Portman who clearly wants to be anywhere but on the set of this movie, finds a portal that leads to a ...place...where she finds red goo that...goo's inside of her....and yeah, things. Cue Thor turning up, along with Foster's band of somewhat irritating co-horts, Loki and...Christopher Ecclestone as a blood elf seeking to take control of the powerful goo substance that Portman now has within her. Yes that's right, there was a villain in this film that wasn't Loki. Don't remember? That's because he's fucking boring, does nothing, and then dies. I think? To be honest I'm struggling to remember all the details. Whilst the ending sequence in London, playing with gravity and travelling across 'realms' (Planets) is pretty fun, it's inconsequential filler, like the rest of the film. Nothing is really accomplished apart from putting pieces in place for future movies, which is absolutely not what the only purpose of any film should be. Hell, this film managed to make Guardians of the Galaxy look like a troubling concept, thanks to its cheaply made and jarring mid-credits scene. Thor: The Dark World isn't terrible, but it's bland, and massively forgettable...and that's almost worse, frankly. Easily...EASILY the worst MCU film made to date.



    17. The Incredible Hulk (2008).


    Perhaps the oddest MCU film of the bunch, at least in terms of its place within the grand connected universe, The Incredible Hulk, second MCU film out of the gate, both ready-baked to connect to the wider Marvel universe, whilst also being a standalone reboot from Universal for the Hulk franchise, having failed spectacularly with their previous attempt...it's funny to look back on this film and see just how little of what was set up was carried over in the future. First and foremost, you have the inclusion of Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, who's obviously now played by the vastly superior (In this role at least) Mark Ruffalo. This is so far the only time one of the major players in the MCU has been recast, and in a quite drastically different fashion at that. Liv Tyler's role as Betty Ross, a major Hulk character and love interest from the comics, although mentioned in passing in The Avengers, has never appeared again, and given romantic subplots between Hulk and Black Widow in later films, presumably never will. Tim Roth stars as The Abomination, who's never been mentioned ever again despite presumably being alive in some form...somewhere. Samuel Sterns is shown being mutated by Hulk's blood seemingly into a villain known as 'Leader', which...has never been followed through on. The veiny, gritty design of Hulk in this film is also massively changed in later films, becoming more traditional and comic-book in design...and just...yeah. The only follow-through from this film was Thunderbolt Ross, who weirdly was an important side-character in Civil War, 8 years after the release of this film. The reasoning is mostly based around licensing. Universal Studios have the rights to make Hulk films, and after failing to make the franchise a success for the second time, they seem massively opposed to trying again. Marvel/Disney, however, have the right to include the Hulk in MCU films, and as such, he's appeared as one of many characters in both Avengers films, and Thor Ragnarok where his backstory and library of Hulk supporting characters take a complete backseat to what's happening in the current films, and his relationship to more established members of the MCU. What's also clear is that this is a Universal movie with a quick tie-into the MCU at the end, and not one that follows the style and devotion to the source material that you'd expect. It's...entertaining, not great, but has some memorable moments. It feels out of place within the MCU collective, though...and perhaps that's why it's 

    the dark sheep of the pack, with Hulk's inclusion in later films choosing to focus on what's essentially a 3rd reboot of the character, without worrying too much about this early misfire.



    16. Thor (2011).

    We've gotten passed the genuinely shoddy MCU films now, and we're in the stretch of merely being iffy, so GET STRAPPED IN. We've already taken a look at Thor's second outing, ranked the worst for the whole shared universe, but now we arrive at his debut...which is just called Thor. Thor: Starring Thor. Easy. Whilst I'm not a particularly huge fan of this one either, it's certainly a more accomplished film than the sequel, creaking the door open just slightly into the larger, cosmic Marvel world we're now grown practically accustomed to 7 years later. It introduced Thor, obviously, one of the quite literal big hitters of Team Avengers, but we also got our first go-around with Loki, who's easily the most well known and loved of the MCU movie villains to date, having appeared numerous times in films, both Thor and not, that followed from this point. And look buddy, I hope you like Dutch Angles, because this film is so wonkily framed you'd think the entire Earth had been knocked off its axis slightly, it's quite remarkable. That's not necessarily a problem, but it's definitely noticeable, at least to me, a sad nerd. This film also suffers from a bit of a culture shock in comparison to previous entries in the MCU, which at this stage had been entirely earthbound and all featured Tony Stark, who's somewhat a cool, witty, modern dude. Thor? None of that, the film fully embraces the somewhat gaudy and goofy aesthetic of Asgard and all its inhabitants, including the way they speak and behave, something that would later go on to be ridiculed extensively in the Avengers films, and even the final Thor movie. Whether or not you like that style is subjective, I'm not a huge fan personally, and I don't think the film balances the self-aware humour the MCU has become known and loved for against the somewhat straight-faced and full on 'Shakespeare in the Park' style, as Mr Stark would put it. The human cast are a bunch of cheesy and slightly irritating goofballs, with Natalie Portman only half regretting her agreeing to the role in this entry. It's fun though, colourful and breezy for the most part, with some nice shots of a muscle-bulging Thor drenched in mud, so there's that I guess. A significant chapter of the franchise, in terms of expanding beyond the scope of just genetic experiments, robotics and Earthbound antics, but not a wholly successful one.



    15. Iron Man 2 (2010).

    Arriving at the 3rd MCU film out the door, and the first to really try and hammer home the fact this is a shared universe with infinite potential for expansion. Both Iron Man and Incredible Hulk were self-contained films, maybe a little subtle references peppered throughout, but the MCU'ness only came into play within the end credits scenes, back in the days when having those in a comic book movie weren't necessarily expected at all. Iron Man 2, unfortunately, suffers as a few MCU films do, from trying to set too many things/people up. Beyond massively expanding on the SHIELD aspect teased briefly at the very end of the first, and as such expanding the roles of Nick Fury and Agent Coulson quite a bit, it also has to set up what would go on to become one of the main Avengers, Black Widow, in addition to Rhodes getting his previously teased debut as War Machine, as well as tease other potential heroes and the possibility of the Avengers being 'assembled'. This is in addition to introducing, establishing and resolving the stories of two new villains, expanding the role of Pepper Potts slightly, telling an actual story with all of these pieces combined, and oh yeah...continuing to tell the story of Tony Stark, who this film is about, obviously. In fairness, these elements aren't that hard to manage,  the film just doesn't do a good job of doing so, particularly with the villains, who are generally underused, lacking in threat, and often played for laughs in the case of Sam Rockwell's character. Broadly speaking, the film bites off more than it's personally capable of chewing, rather than biting off more than any film could chew. It somewhat rushes through the most famous Iron Man storyline, involving his battle with alcoholism, lacking the impact and pathos within the context of this narrative to work on any level, really. The action scenes are also a little bit messy, the final fight just being a horde-mode of unremarkable robot enemies (Which won't be the last time we see this on the list), throw in a lot of lasers, explosions and slightly iffy CGI and...yeah. Where this film shines is in the humour, Robert Downey Jr is, predictably on top form as himself (AKA Tony Stark), and the supporting cast all deliver a laugh or two also, whilst Tony's exploration of his father's work adds a touch of heart to what's otherwise a film lacking in much charm. Iron Man 2 is perhaps the most 'loud and uninspired popcorn entertainment' the MCU has gotten, as usually films that followed delivered a better balance of story and action. Not bad, but not great, and super underwhelming as a film that was following on the heels of the game-changing original.




    14. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).

    Oh boy, now we arrive at what's perhaps the spiciest of the MCU collection. It was never going to be easy, doing a sequel to The Avengers, one that delivered what people wanted, gave them things they wouldn't expect, upped both the ante and the number of heroes on the team and...God forbid, actually surpass the original film, which was the benchmark for ensemble hero antics at that stage. SPOILERS, it didn't quite manage it, and put a frosty, controversial end to the once peachy position of Joss Whedon as the gatekeeper of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you look back on what I said about Iron Man 2 and crank up the volume somewhat, you'll have an idea of how this film managed to stumble quite spectacularly upon its release a few years ago. Following on from the original, continuing that story, introducing new heroes, establishing, exploring and resolving a new villain, expanding the universe and teasing the future to come? That's not easy, and this film is the definitive example of the MCU going too far with its placing of pieces of the chessboard for future film projects. The most notable example being Thor's side-story, which is included purely to set up his 3rd film, Ragnarok (That would come out 3 years later) and basically amounts to him leaving the main story to go stand in a shallow pool and have a vision of something that ended up never actually happening, Thor Ragnarok itself deviating massively from what was set up, suggesting a good deal of course correction following on from this film. The most controversial aspect of this film was in its handling of Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow, the only female member of the Avengers going into this film, who had a somewhat out of the blue romantic subplot between her and Bruce Banner, which resulted in some awkward scenes, particularly the infamous cabin sequence where she reveals her infertility, which she suggests makes her a 'monster' not worthy of love at one point, which did not go down well. At all. She later gets kidnapped, too. It was from this point onwards that the lack of diversity in the MCU was a major discussion point, and continues to be so to this date. Beyond that, the main villain, the highly anticipated debut of Ultron? Fizzled out pretty badly, once again, the villain not getting much development, being used mainly for laughs and lacking much in the way of menace or threat, which doubled up with another ongoing MCU issue, the lack of threat to the core cast (The only main character to die was introduced in this film) and you can see why this film is held up as a sign of the franchise starting to show its bigger flaws. That said? The film is still a lot of fun, got some great action and emotional moments, the Hulkbuster scene is amazing, and the main cast are all terrific. It's a good film, but it's a messy one.



    13. Iron Man 3 (2013).

    YO LISTEN UP, HERE'S A STORY, ABOUT A LITTLE FILM THAT LIVED IN A BIG UNIVERSE, AND ALL NIGHT AND ALL DAY AND EVERYTHING IT DID, WAS compared to The Avengers and Iron Man and could never live up to either of those. *Ahem* Yeah, poor Iron Man 3...poor poor Iron Man 3. To be the trilogy ender to Tony Stark's solo-outings, the most successful individual MCU franchise at that point....and be the follow-up to the bloody Avengers? Ooff. Iron Man 3 is part 2 of our two-part exploration of the MCUs worrying 2013 jitters. What was perhaps more worrying at the time was that it didn't suffer from the same issues as Thor: The Dark World, but instead presented a whole different spectrum of concerns to add to that pot. Whilst Dark World suffered from being massively forgettable and bland, and its villain being basically non-existent, Iron Man 3 suffered from potentially veering too far into the realm of goofiness, pushing the boundaries on the good balance of humour, action and drama established in the blueprint for what became the MCUs signature style, that was The Avengers. Iron Man 3 in its trailers and teasers promised an emotional exploration of Tony Stark's character in a post-Avengers world, suffering from PTSD over his near-death, eye opening dip into the infinite void of space, that...was buzzing with activity, ready to strike the planet at any point. It promised to do this, whilst one of the most well known Iron Man villains, The Mandarin threatened to tear apart everything he'd built for himself, both literally, and in his relationships with his friends and his lover, Pepper Potts. Whilst we got a degree of that in the film, and it was effective in parts, it somewhat parted away in favour of some goofy antics, mostly because this was a potent combination of Shane Black directing, with Robert Downey Jr acting. The film is perfectly enjoyable and was massively entertaining upon first viewing, whilst fully onboard the hype train that was the post-Avengers, pre-Iron Man 3 time period. But there's a lot of problems, particularly that last-minute surprise twist that SPOILERS...generic white dude business man #3, in this film played by Guy Pierce is the REAL Mandarin, a glowy orange...supercharged shirtless man who gets his ass handed to him by a similarly oranged-up Pepper Potts...not the Mandarin in the trailers, played by Sir Ben Kingsley, who was just an actor, and it was all a gag, removing any menace the character had once and for all. That pissed a lot of people off, and I didn't mind it too much, but it is dumb. Also the President gets kidnapped and draped over a giant Christmas tree in an Iron-Man suit...so that should give you an idea of the level of cheese present in this film. Downey Jr gives a great show, and the film is a lot of fun...but ooh boy does it go in the wrong direction sometimes. A victim of its own hype in some respects, but not a wholly successful film regardless.



    12. Iron Man (2008).

    Woah momma, we're here. The one that started it all, the game-changer, the franchise maker, our starting point on this 10 year journey of ups and downs, and we have Robert Downey Jr's big comeback performance to thank for it. It's hard to imagine now, but prior to Iron Man, Downey was just getting back on his feet, following a somewhat notorious downward spiral into drugs and alcohol after a meteoric rise to fame at a young age. He was perfect, then, to play the somewhat reckless and unstable, but charming Tony Stark, at the time a relatively unknown character to the general public, who knew their Spider-Mans from their Wolverines, but potentially not much more. This film changed that somewhat, Tony Stark and Iron Man are now household names, and possibly one of, if not the most well known and loved Marvel properties at one stage. And it's easy to see why, this was a drastic change of style and tone for comic book movies up to this point, Iron Man threw aside the assumption that a comic book movie had to behave like an actual comic book, cast aside the expectation for comic book cheese and sentimentality, and made what became for a while one of two modern blockbuster movie templates (The other being The Dark Knight, also out in 2008, which I'm afraid to say isn't on this list for some reason). It was witty, cool, found that fine balance between staying true to the designs of the comic books, without looking out of place and naff in regards to the suits...and best of all, was just a damn good movie in its own right. It's a really good origin story for Tony Stark, a self-obsessed war profiteer, who has a life-changing experience and decides to become something more, and do something better. Right from the get go, Downey Jr is fantastic in the role, and plays off really well with the supporting cast, which includes Jeff Bridges in the first of many stuffy business suit dudes who winds up going crazy and using advanced technology to do some CRAZY EVIL THIIIINGS. All in all, this is a damn solid film, funny but also touching in parts, and as with the rest of the film, that now infamous after-credits scene where Samuel L Jackson turns up, out of nowhere, as Nick Fury, teasing the arrival of the Avengers? Something that seems so obvious now, but at one point meant nothing to most people until they Googled it? It was a big risk and it paid off massively. Why is it so low on the list, then? Well...it's just...this was the starting point, y'know? You watch it now, and it's great, but it feels so...small? This was Marvel before they were bought out by Disney, before they had the money to go all-in, before they had enough confidence from the audience to go crazy...it's hard to compare it to the scale of later films on this list simply because it was the first step in a 10 year, long walk that they all continued on with. But yeah, with Iron Man at #12, you can tell we're getting into the properly good shit now.



    11. Ant-Man (2015).

    WHAT!? I hear you say. YOU PUT ANT-MAN IN FRONT OF IRON MAN? THAT MOVIE SUCKS, FUCK YOU! I hear you continue, loudly...as I try to hurriedly eat my breakfast and escape from your clutches. Yes, I did. A lot of people aren't so hot on Ant-Man, but I often wonder if that's less to do with the film itself, and more to do with its turbulent road to release, perhaps the most notable of all the MCU behind the scenes situations. Originally to be directed by Edgar Wright, the genius guy who brought you Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim and most recently, Baby Driver. He and Disney parted ways in the run-up to main production due to what's now become the Disney/Director division staple; 'Creative Differences'. The film was then given to another Disney staple, a 'safe pair of hands' in the form of competent but not particularly stand-out director, Peyton Reed. From this point people who very much opposed to this films continued existence, which is fair...Edgar Wright is an amazing and unique directing talent that could've infused the film was a lot of flavour and make it stand-out visually and tonally from the increasingly larger MCU crowd...instead we get someone who's mandate is seemingly to make the film in a way that keeps it in line with the rest...surely resulting in bland, charmless blockbuster filler, right? Well....I don't think so, whilst Ant-Man in a lot of ways is just Iron Man...with ants,  that's hardly a recipe for a bad film is it? And the film delivers a charming and likeable main cast, an action packed, funny heist-style caper, and best of all, some really great shrinking/growing scale set-pieces. Like...REALLY great. Seeing the world from the perspective of Scott Lang in the Ant-Man suit is a real treat, as are the action sequences that play with scale spontaneously throughout, a fight that took place in a helicopter one moment, can now suddenly be taking place within the confines of a suitcase falling out of said helicopter. A fight taking place in a child's bedroom one moment can be a fast-paced train chase on the child's toy railway shortly after. It's visually quite strong in these sequences especially. And perhaps more importantly, it delivers that much needed balance of humour, silly moments, fun action, but also heart. There's a lot of heart to spare between Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne, both characters who mask a lot of their feelings behind bombastic attitudes, but it's the peek behind the curtain, when their true natures and feelings are revealed, Scott with the love of his daughter, Hope with the loss of her mother, that's when the characters click and you do more than laugh, you feel something too. And I mean, he rides a flying ant at one point, so. Fuck yeah. RIP Anthony, I miss you every day. This might be Marvel at their most cookie-cutter in terms of basic tone and style, but I mean...it's a damn good cookie, hopefully the sequel this year doesn't disappoint.




    WOAH, those were some hot takes, huh? What's that I hear you say? How is  Ant-Man the best MCU film of all time? The answer is...no it isn't. No. Just no. For reasons of WORD LIMITS, this is merely Part 1 of a two part epic cinema event...you see what I did there? No? Okay. Anyway, Part 2, which can also be read as the Top 10 MCU Films if you have an evasion or allergy to two part events, will be up next week, just in time for the release of Avengers: Infinity War! Like what you read so far? Agree? Disagree? Let's have a civil discussion about it in the comments below! Yes, let's do that. If you enjoyed this blog, please do share it around the ol' place, and give it a ZING of approval with the button below. 

    Until next week, LATER GATORS.

  • Need To Catch Up

    1 week ago

    marettiready Bryan Maretti

    Hi everyone,


    Sorry that I didn't post anything from last week.  I was working on my big project and working with other little projects that I lost track on writing in this blog.  I don't want to give a long brief summary on what I have done in the last couple of weeks, it would be to much (plus it would be boring to read).  So I have more drawings to share from these past couple of weeks.

    FxtHzo6.jpghWGNy1D.jpgFoVAVBg.jpg

    Spike from "Cowboy Bebop"

    DVAiVW1.jpg

    Drew Jessica Nigri being silly as always in a funny costume.



    EwKhyvh.jpg

    I drew Taeko from "Only Yesterday" being sad for the lost of Isao Takahata.

    luNs8dD.jpg


    bE918Ez.jpg

    I drew Miles and Kyle from Backwardz Compatible wearing their dog hats.

    qgmlSZg.jpggPExK88.jpg

    Edward from "Cowboy Bebop"

    eBWweeq.jpg

    Jet from "Cowboy Bebop"

    K3cv0Lo.jpg

    Faye from "Cowboy Bebop"orLJ8AH.jpg

    Goku from "Dragon Ball Z"

    VYBhmDL.jpg
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    I will try to write more in the next blog.  Hope you enjoy the drawings for now.


    Have a good week everyone.

  • Sea of Thieves VS Fortnite: Why Pirates Win

    3 weeks ago

    UnWreckQuested


    Xbox and PC players have been emotionally split in their reception of the new hit pirating game from Rare, Sea of Thieves. Already, executives and developers have been fighting the fires of complaints from bored gamers claiming a lack of content and progression. Sea of Thieves Executive Producer Joe Neate told IGN that Sea of Thieves will “continue to grow and evolve” organically alongside its dedicated fans.


    But there’s something that Sea of Thieves has that particularly sets it apart in today’s videogame culture, a characteristic that some love and some hate.


    Sea of Thieves and Fortnite are presently two of the largest games on Xbox One. Both offer optional PvP elements and involve looting chests while exploring a medium-size map. The key difference between these two games lies deep within the philosophy of the game developers.


    Fortnite is a closed system game. Battle royale games by definition require that players join at a synchronous point and are not able to load into that game’s instance after it begins. Players are thus forced to all operate on an equal playing field; players start with nothing and only have a universal amount of time to compete.


    On the other hand, Sea of Thieves is an open system game. The game allows players to drop in and drop out. Instead of all loading in at once, players are able to leave and join a particular game’s instance at any point without necessary detriment to their experience of play. The scaling of gameplay, in order to allow PvP to continue without exponential threat to beginning players, lies in the lack of ability to upgrade weaponry & defense, opposite of Fortnite.


    Closed system multiplayer games force players to engage in a much more active manner. In closed system PvP, if players are not constantly focused on performing in ways that will further their success over others, they will lose. No getting around it. But in drop-in/out systems, players are able to choose moments where they can focus on parts of their experience that do not pit themselves against others.


    Because of this, Sea of Thieves has a capacity to offer a form of gameplay that is contiguous. Instead of winning a single round of battle royale, Sea of Thieves allows for players to continue their success and advancement from one session to the next. It’s not so much that it’s casual, it’s that you can never truly lose.


    And that’s the key difference between players that love or hate Sea of Thieves:

    Some players love the risk that exists in games that you can truly lose while others prefer a format that allows continuous success.


    Another Xbox-Microsoft classic showcases this form of play: Minecraft. Players are able to continue to join and advance in a particular instance of a game without ever truly losing. Sure, players can be killed in PvP just like in Sea of Thieves, but within that same instance of the game they can choose to continue pursuing success.


    So, what kind of gamer are you? Do you prefer risk or choice? Do you prefer to be able to lose or be able to continue to advance forward? What do you think makes different kinds of games sustainable?


    ***

    Tyler Read is a new digital media, videogame, and organizational culture & communication enthusiast. He currently serves as the Manager & Executive Producer of the Popular Apocrypha Podcast.

  • Don't Go Spring Break!

    3 weeks ago

    marettiready Bryan Maretti

    Hi everyone,


    I had a relaxing Spring Break week away from my current full time job and I have to go back to work the next day.  I had an amazing time skateboarding by the river, drawing outside of my house to find new ideas or inspirations, working and brainstorming future projects, and kicking back.  It was fun while it lasted, but I have to go back to my normal work routine.


    Please don't go Spring Break!!!


    Oh well.  In the meantime, I have more drawings to share.


     iZJtTC6.jpg

    aHHAJU8.jpg
    T4LmhXK.jpg8Bm2d3v.jpgaseMmiV.jpggoOFzHy.jpgx5s9QTc.jpg

    Have a good week everyone.

  • Blogging

    4 weeks ago

    dontdoit96 Boo, Motherfucker

    I started a blog, maybe one day I'll accompany it with a You Tube channel. For now I'm just writing about films, TV, the environment, and anything else that interests me. I'm also posting my designs there. 

    https://andthen721579023.wordpress.com/


    PS. I know the URL sucks, but that's what I get for a free plan  simmons

  • Spring Break!

    4 weeks ago

    marettiready Bryan Maretti

    Hi everyone,


    I made it through another week of work and I made it to Spring Break!  Whoo Hoo!  I'm really looking forward to this break so that I can get into more of my projects, relax a bit, and to skate more.  I wish I could've gone to a convention or went somewhere else for the break, but not a lot of people I know personally are off during my break and it would've sucked if I was by myself.  But I will make the best of my Spring Break and still make it exciting.


    I have more drawings to share.


     DFi0aVl.jpg

    oa73EHd.jpg
    bTL014k.jpgXTuahJX.jpgcJQTp6Y.jpge8P3bZ8.jpgSCxf9jL.jpg

    I recently watched Achievement Hunters play Mario Party and this came to mind.

    pIDPAw9.jpg

    Have a good week everyone.


    Bryan

  • Finding Inspiration

    1 month ago

    marettiready Bryan Maretti

    Hi everyone,


    I've been feeling a lot better since my last post.  I've been in a funk for awhile now, but this week made me be calm and relaxed.  With the projects I'm currently working on, I have been a bit stressed these past weeks.  However, I have taken some time away from my projects to find some new ideas and inspirations.


    I have been searching for some new artists around the internet to be inspired by and to learn a few new styles.  It amazes me on how much creativity there is in this world and how it all seems to never end of discovering new things.  I have to say, being an artist on the internet (especially me) is amazing.  And it's all different mediums of digital art that we learn more about online such as 3D modeling, 3D animation, 2D animation, illustration, graphic design, video/film, etc.  I really needed a bit of a break from my work because it's all I know about, 24/7, when it comes to my style of work.  I'm really committed to my vision of my big project that I forget everything else around me.  So, it's best for me to separate myself from my work a bit in order to find new people or artworks to be inspired by.  Everyone needs a break from their work to find something else in this world to be inspired by, am I right?


    Aside from that, I have more drawings to share.


    TkHMp9N.jpg

    I decided to draw Geoff, Jack, and Jeremy from Achievement Hunter being on Theater Mode.

    k9QBQ6O.jpg

    Andy Warhol if he had social media.

    nZ4GzFV.jpg
    ZOywL55.jpgczIn0f9.jpgrIkF5Sd.jpgtl7uI9z.jpgTYkOttO.jpg

    With Nomad of Nowhere, I drew Skout and the rocks.

    iVA0p5B.jpg

    Have a good week everyone,


    Bryan

  • My hoping future

    1 month ago

    JCWolfe

    I love RoosterTeeth very much. I always dream of working with them on videos, animation, motion capture, music and voice acting. I’m just someone who has a lot on his plate and I need help finding a solution. I want to be able to get my foot in the door and let RT know I’m 100% interested. The date is March 16, 2018 as I am on my spring break weekend vacation. I passed by RoosterTeeth studios in hopes of seeking an opportunity to talk. But then realize no one is probably there or there was no way of talking to someone. I would humbly appreciate the day that someone from RT messages me with an opportunity to join the crew. I love the podcasts, I love the original series, and I love the community. Heck, I have a working idea for a new series that I could bring to the table. 


    I just hope that my future involves RoosterTeeth



    - John 

  • Week 19- Still Same Old, Same Old

    1 month ago

    marettiready Bryan Maretti

    I'm still going through the same week routine as usual, ordinary.  I'm still working on my latest project and everyday drawings for the time being.  I just need to find something new to create when this big project is done.  I have a few ideas, but I just need to get this one out of the way.


    I'm searching for a change in my life, but I don't know what it is yet.  Hopefully, something will come my way when the time is right.


    Until then, I have more drawings to share.


    j8zChaE.jpg
    KX3v0wz.jpgckfgBhK.jpg

    For International Women's Day, it's my mother and sister.

    7CR5EgT.jpgaHoNFuK.jpgYuoXBsr.jpg

    When you want a Blu-Ray Copy of LadyBird in Sacramento and the stores are all out.

    M7Fkfgh.jpg

    Have a good week everyone,


    Bryan

  • Week 18- Same Old, Same Old

    1 month ago

    marettiready Bryan Maretti

    I don't really have much to write about this week because I still feel the same way from the last post.  Everything just felt ordinary this week.  For now, I'm doing well and staying focused on my goals.  


    I still have more drawings to share.


     4MeB7yV.jpg

    y4l5HEX.jpg
    UGdBagi.jpg4oZWiTM.jpghPGObos.jpgzV2BSOD.jpgio5VIYD.jpg

    Have a good week everyone,


    Bryan

  • Week 17- Things Are Getting Better

    1 month ago

    marettiready Bryan Maretti

    Hi everyone,


    I'm starting to feel better this week.  More work as usual, but somehow calm.  It's weird that with all of the projects I am currently work on, I was a bit mellow.  Maybe, with everything going on I'm kind of getting used to working on multiple things; especially when they are my own projects.


    For instance, as I'm working on my big digital project, the lighting effects for the files are starting to become more faster to work with.  It's not so much time consuming to work on because the files I have are becoming shorter to work on as I go down the list.  I might have this done a little bit faster than expected and then I can work a little bit more on different lighting portions of the project.  I have more lighting to work on as I 'm done with this portion of the project, but it will be smaller to edit.


    I don't really have much to write about, everything is ordinary this week.  I have more drawings to share this week.


    HKUsQt0.jpg

    BSmeG1s.jpg

    uOHIpuR.jpg
    Yozjnms.jpgEwLncoG.jpgYk5WSNd.jpgQsJhli9.jpgU842Vpb.jpg

    Hope everyone has a good week and I'll see you later.


    Bryan

  • Car Build

    2 months ago

    AEPheonix

    2/19/19

    Yo wasssup wassup what’s up?!?. So I’ve been checking out the whole YouTube thing making videos and all that I’m pretty proud of myself, I have 40 subscribers and I average like maybe five veiws a video. The videos are mostly about my car or day-to-day operations, like a daily vlog or something like that, but I got the car dynode in town in the middle of nowhere South Dakota where I’m from. I had a Buddy just pop up with his shop. So definitely works out and I don’t need travel down to Colorado. He did a little bit of tuning better than what I could’ve done or have been doing. And I’ve been running into issues with the car it’s been miss firing in boost and I was having that problem on the Dyno, but he got it tuned to the point where it wasn’t doing that. So I start driving it and it’s misfiring again. The problem I found was the distributor, the contact points for the spark plugs were bent outward’s and it had burnt plastic everywhere and just not really usable. Anyway on 10 psi the car made 180whp and 173wtq. Pretty good numbers for a D16a6


     That’s about it. I’m definitely forgetting more, but go ahead and check out my channel if you manage to find my page on this here RT website.

    Day:Start

  • Week 16- Starting To Feel Tense

    2 months ago

    marettiready Bryan Maretti

    Hi everyone,


    This past week has been pretty tiring and stressful.  I'm starting to feel a bit pressured when it comes to presenting my daily drawings (or weekly drawings here on the RT journal site) and working on my digital project.  


    With every daily drawing I present to the public, I have to keep presenting something new and original for everyone to see and to keep the momentum continuing.  I love doing my daily drawings because it allows me to find something new in my style of work and to watch it develop, change, and progress.  It's amazing to create something new and different each day.  I have come so far that I don't want to stop.  However, when new people start to know who I am based on my drawings and follow me, it starts to change my perspective on what is right and wrong when drawing.  Sometimes I think to myself, "Will this be humorous for people to like, will they understand what the drawing is about, is it to average, etc."  I start to question myself on what viewers think instead of what I think when drawing a chibi comic.  Every time I finish a drawing, I sometimes doubt myself and question myself on why I drew it.  But in the end, I always have to be confident when presenting my work for everyone to see and to stand by my answers on why I drew a certain image.  So far, this is discovering more about myself and to push myself further on what else I could create.


    As for my digital project, I'm still working on rotoscoping lights.  It's starting to really annoy me in this phase of the project.  I have to do this by rotoscoping every keyframe and I have more than 30 files to work on.  This is starting to drain my energy and I start to get tired quickly as I work on this.  This may be a long phase in my journey, but I know I can do this.  I just have to keep my head up and stay positive.


    Aside from the work I am doing, I have more drawings to share.

    yfrE9GY.jpg

    Barbara Dunkelman posted herself in a hotdog costume one day, and this idea came to my mind.

    LUPJFDh.jpgxOGWkHc.jpgD5zmPt7.jpgjjK3I0i.jpgjflMoK2.jpgz5LDj7l.jpg

    Hope everyone has a good week and I'll see you later.


    Bryan

  • First Journal Since RTX 2016 - An Update on Life

    2 months ago

    HowMad_Gladi

    Hello friends, if you’re still there! My activity on the RT site fell off pretty quickly after RTX 2016 because I was starting my last semester of my forensic science degree. I ended up receiving my degree in Fall of 2016, and decided that I wanted to continue schooling. The following semester, I earned a lab science certificate, but has a lot of trouble finding employment, so again, I decided to continue schooling. 


    I applied to the University of Wisconsin-Madison (my dream school), two other UW schools, and Ohio State University. Unfortunately, I was not accepted by the University of Wisconsin, but I was accepted by Ohio State. 


    So here I am in Columbus, Ohio, now a Buckeye instead of a Badger. I’m working and going to school full time, so I’m always sleepy lol. I’m currently majoring in forensic biology and minoring in German – which leads me to the second part of this journal! 


    Ohio State accepted me for a study abroad program in Dresden, Germany from June until August. Sadly, my flight, food, and room and board is not included in the program costs. I started a GoFundMe to hopefully meet my goal of at least helping me with my flight. Any little bit helps, and I’ll love you forever for helping me accomplish a bucket list goal of mine :)


    >https://www.gofundme.com/aeq2z-study-abroad-dresden-germany


    Until my flight, I’ll be working and studying my ass off while trying to catch up on RT content I’ve missed over the past year. 


    Thank you to anyone who read this!

  • Wallace & Gromit: Ranked.

    2 months ago

    g1TheStickman

    HellLLllLOOOoOoo and welcome to ANOTHER BLOG. A few weeks ago, to celebrate the release of Early Man, Aardman's newest feature film, I did a Top 10 of my favourite animations from the studio. The main rule? No Wallace & Gromit. The reason? Because of this! It's now time for the US release of Early Man, the one maybe more relevant for the majority of people reading this blog, so that means it's time for the Part 2 I promised. Every Wallace & Gromit film/show...RANKED. OH MY GAWWWWDD...said nobody ever. 

    So, what counts as Wallace & Gromit, exactly? Well, obviously the series of short films, and the feature length movie they are, perhaps most well known for outside of the UK. I'm also counting any television production starring them, but I'm not including video games, comics, adverts or one-off short-form animations, such as the minute long short done for the National Trust a few years back. I'm also not including 'Musical Marvels', a W&G themed concert that had original animations and brief story peppered throughout, as the animated sequences are merely window-dressing for what's otherwise a BBC Prom performance. 

    The most important addition? Shaun the Sheep. I debated whether or not this counted as Wallace & Gromit, but given it's a spin-off from the short films, featuring a character introduced in Wallace & Gromit? I figured it counted...also it made the ranking more pleasantly numbered, so there's that...that said, I'm not counting the pre-school spin-off to the spin-off, Timmy Time...as it's a Shaun the Sheep spin-off...aaaaand also I haven't seen it. Y'know, so there's that.


    That's it, really! As usual, these are just opinions, you're entitled to disagree, let me know which your faves are, along with anything else you'd like to say...nicely, in the comments below! Okay? OKAAAY...HERREE WE GOOOOOO.





    10. World of Invention (2010).

    Kicking things off with something most of you have probably never even heard of...yeah, that's right. Wallace & Gromit had an actual TV show, back in 2010. Not only that, it was also the final W&G production that the sadly now departed Peter Sallis ever worked on, and it's also the last long-form Wallace & Gromit production made as of time of posting. For something with that many significant claims to fame, it's a wonder why it's not as well known as other things in the franchise, really, huh? Well....actually, about that. The reason is because it's less your normal kinda W&G production, and more...an educational series presented by Wallace & Gromit. Yeah, that's why it's at the bottom, folks! This one off, 6 episode show was a co-production between Aardman and the BBC, in an attempt to use the characters as an engagement point to get children interested in science, technology, and some real life wacky inventions. Each episode was framed as a TV show hosted by Wallace, with Gromit being a one-man production team on the cameras and TV operation. The main focus was short live action clips showcasing new inventions and inventors, but each episode had a specific theme, and that theme was framed by animated exploits in the studio, with Wallace's attempts to showcase his own inventions, or just scientific experiments usually going predictably awry, with Gromit on hand to save the day, as it were. This was inoffensive and enjoyable enough stuff, but obviously, given the main draw to this is Wallace & Gromit themselves, having the purpose of the show be to focus on real people and real technology meant it didn't really catch on the way the BBC may have wanted, given the extensive marketing/educational push that came alongside it. The animated sequences are, obviously funny, detailed and super charming, as you'd come to expect from W&G, and I appreciate the sentiment behind using the franchise to inspire children with real technology and creativity, but it's not what I want from the franchise, and that's why it's at the bottom of the ranking. It certainly carries a certain additional charm, knowing this was, at the time nearly 90 year old Peter Sallis' final stint in one of his most iconic roles, so maybe it's worth checking out for fans, anyway.




    9. Cracking Contraptions (2002).

    Another TV series...of sorts, Cracking Contraptions holds a special weight with me, because it was the first new Wallace & Gromit production I ever got to enjoy as a child, and when it got announced, I more or less exploded, actually coercing my primary school teacher into letting me use his overhead projector to watch the first short online before I even made it home back in the day. Whilst these are short...shorts, varying from 1 to 3 minutes, depending, I'm counting them because they came as an original series shown on TV, rather than as one-offs made for a specific promotional purpose. The actual purpose of Cracking Contraptions was to train up a team of rookie, or at least inexperienced animators at Aardman to be able to animate in the style and quality required for Wallace & Gromit as preparation for the at that point in pre-production feature film. These are fun, but brief mini-adventures with the duo, the brief nature being why they're so low down on the list, it's simply hard for them to compare to the short-films, features and shows that came before, and followed on from it. That said, these 10 Cracking Contraptions shorts are still a fun time, and made for a very, very Merry Christmas for 9 year old me as each episode aired on BBC One across the festive period, and then on Christmas Day itself I got the lot on DVD, along with many other W&G goodies that'd come out around the same time. Nostalgia aside, these still hold up in the same way all the W&G films do, providing the same detailed, creative and funny exploits you'd expect, just at a smaller length. Highlights include the above Shopper 13, possibly the ultimate 'why don't you just do it like anyone else would' scenario for Wallace and his many unnecessary inventions, rivalled only by The Tellyscope, which features the most overly complicated alternative to turning a TV on ever. Other ill-fated inventions showcased include a malfunctioning Auto-Diner, a crumb targeting vacuum cleaner turned feral, a rather cruel real-life alternative to counting sheep at night, and a self-defence vest that basically amounts to a boxing glove on a spring. These creative, slickly produced shorts are a lot of fun to watch, their only real weakness is well...being short. Ignoring the above edutainment misfire, this is as close as we'll ever get to a Wallace & Gromit TV series...at least...featuring Wallace and Gromit, specifically.




    8. Shaun the Sheep (2007-2016).

    Speaking of TV shows...here's a ...TV show! Aardman's first attempt at a proper children's TV show, and only their second attempt at a proper TV series in general (Rex the Runt, featured on my previous blog was the first), Shaun the Sheep was a long in development spin-off of Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave that came off of the pop culture growth of Shaun the Sheep as a character, following his use as a fashion item by one of the Spice Girls in the 90s...yep, that was a thing. Roughly 10 years later, and the series finally came to be, show-run by the same guy who made Rex the Runt, and ran the Creature Comforts series prior to this one. Shaun the Sheep is a spin-off entirely removed from the world of Wallace & Gromit, in that they don't appear beyond brief easter eggs here and there, but in some ways the set-up and geography is pretty in keeping with the main series. Shaun, a bit older than he was in his first 1995 appearance, is now living on a farm with a whole flock of other sheep, tended to by a farmer and his dog, who acts as both friend and foe to Shaun himself. Although visually, beyond the dip in quality you'd expect from a syndicated TV spin-off directed by someone other than Nick Park, it's as you'd expect in terms of design, charm and detail from Wallace & Gromit. The key difference is there's no speaking whatsoever, dialogue across the series being reduced to various grunts and gasps, something that extends to both animal and human characters. This lack of language barrier, paired with the pre-existing appeal of Shaun/Aardman, and the simpler, more child-friendly antics have allowed the show to catch on big-time in regions all across the world, particularly Europe and Asia, with the character now Aardman's biggest financial income, and international export. As a result, the show has run for 5 seasons across nearly 10 years, with 150 episodes produced as of 2016, which easily makes it Aardman's longest running, collectively lengthiest production. As it stands, Shaun the Sheep is a children's show, it lacks the same polish and wit of Wallace & Gromit, but that doesn't stop it from being a visually pleasant, creative and entertaining series that's very hard to dislike, regardless of what age you are. A couple dud episodes aside (A clip-show episode being the real low point of the series...and mankind in general), it's consistently high quality and easy to enjoy from whatever entry point you randomly stumble across. It's no Wallace & Gromit, but in a world increasingly without Wallace & Gromit? It's not a bad alternative, and having an Aardman TV show of any sort is pretty neat in general. Whilst its future at this point is uncertain, with another feature film on the way in 2019, it seems likely this will continue at some point, in some form.




    7. A Grand Day Out (1989).

    Here we are. The one that started it all. The student film project that became one of animations most beloved and acclaimed franchises, and the short that put Aardman on the map globally. A Grand Day Out was the first outing for Wallace & Gromit, and Nick Park's first film production....and...well, it shows, really. It's a classic, and a perfectly enjoyable, thematically iconic one at that, but it's very rough around the edges, and lacks the same degree of humour and creativity that the pair later became known for, and that's why it's appearing so low down the list. That said, I still really love this first outing, in all honestly, I don't hate any of the things ranked on this blog, there's just a clear difference in polish and scale between Grand Day Out and anything that followed, which sadly puts it at a complete disadvantage, historically significant or not. The basic premise is very British. It's a bank holiday, Wallace & Gromit want to go on a day trip...but they're out of cheese! OH NO. They, or Wallace at least, opts to pick a destination known for its cheese production...so you have Cheddar, Wensleydale...uh...Tesco...and then the moon. As everyone knows, and NASA clearly are covering up to this day, the moon is made entirely of cheese. Naturally, the moon is the hot destination for any cheese connoisseur, and one homemade, bright orange rocket ship later, the pair are off into space...after a very last minute cracker supply run, of course. It may be Wallace & Gromit at their least polished, but it really goes to show how good the series is when this is the formative film that paved the way...because it's still really fun to watch, and full of memorable moments. The rocket construction montage, the in-rocket shenanigans prior to landing, their exploration of both the moon itself, and the...unique? flavours of its cheese and of course...the coin operated cooker...guy who I guess is evil? But maybe just lonely? Um. That one's a bit odd, and not something the series ever repeats or explains, but HEY...it's pretty fun all the same. Throw in some delightfully (fittingly?) cheesy, brass-heavy music and some perhaps unintentionally creepy character models for Wallace in the first half, which was made at Nick Park's school, prior to his recruitment by Aardman, who then helped him finish the second half on the moon, with slightly less nightmare-inducing results...and, well...you got yourself A Grand Day Out. Like I said, it's rough, it's lacking in certain aspects we've come to know and love from these guys, but it's still really entertaining stuff, and features a host of motifs (The rocket, the rivets, the love of cheese and Wallace's passion for inventing) that have remained a mainstay to this day, hell...the classic porthole view of Wallace & Gromit looking out on the moon at the very end has become something of a logo for the franchise, the two staring goofily through their hand-made, bright orange rocket-ship window really summing up a lot of what's appealing about the franchise. It may not be their best, but it was certainly a damn good effort for a first try.



    6. Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015).

    From the first one out the gate, to one of the most recent, and the first feature length film on the list. Shaun the Sheep Movie is...obviously, a follow-up to the Shaun the Sheep TV series, taking the same setting, characters and general kid-friendly tone, and applying it all to a 90 minute run time, instead of 10. The results are mixed, but on a whole pretty successful, and ended up being a surprise critical hit back in 2015, nominated for both the BAFTA and Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, despite maybe not being on the same quality as previous movie attempts from Aardman. The premise? After trying to get a day off from the monotony of his day-to-day life, Shaun and his friends stage an elaborate plan to take their farmer out of action for the day. Previously mentioned friend/foe to Shaun, Blitzer intervenes, and inadvertently ends up sending his owner on a caravan trip into the city, resulting in head trauma, and amnesia. Shaun, Blitzer and eventually the rest of the 'flock' head into the city after him, and encounter many hardships along the way whilst attempting to blend-in, eventually attracting the attention of the menacing, violent animal control ...guy? Will they survive their trip to the city, and will they be able to get their farmer back...and even so, will he ever be the same!? Well...it's a kids film, so take a wild guess, but it's a fun ride getting to the expected conclusion all the same. Whilst the film has some less successful attempts at humour, it's frequently funny, generally quite charming and even a little touching at times, something the TV show has dabbled in once or twice, but never to the extent of the film. Shaun the Sheep Movie very much hits all the usual mainstream animation notes you'd expect, but stands above the usual fare thanks to the obvious Aardman charms and details, in addition to a cast of likeable characters, both main and supporting. As with the show, there's no dialogue at any point, which also leads to a certain unique quality, this maybe why it's caught on with critics so much. It's maybe Aardman's weakest feature, but it's still pretty darn good, and like with the show it came from, it's a very hard film to hate when you get down to it. Shaun's just a fun guy, y'know? The less said about the credits music the better, mind...



    5. The Farmer's Llamas (2015).

    Remaining on Mossy Bottom Farm (Yes that's the name) for our next entry, also moving forwards to the most recent entry on the list to date. Shaun the Sheep: The Farmer's Llamas was a 30 minute special broadcast Christmas Day on BBC One, much in the same vein as the Wallace & Gromit shorts that came before it, actually releasing in the same year as the Shaun the Sheep Movie, suggesting it was a very busy year for the production team of that franchise. Whilst the Movie took the GANG off the farm, Farmer's Llamas keeps them at home, but introduces a set of new characters in the form of the titular Llamas. After making friends with the new guys at a farm show, Shaun tricks the farmer into buying the troublesome trio at an auction. At first, things are going great...at least for Shaun and the Llamas, the rest of the farm not so much, the new arrivals being somewhat enablers to Shaun's bad behaviour. When things take a turn for the worse, Shaun finds himself alienated from both groups, and seeks to correct his mistake, with unexpectedly dark results. Whilst some have considered the design of the Llamas, paired with their specific style of music to be a stereotypical caricature of South Americans, with the mischievous nature leading some to consider the portrayals as racist, I feel this is maybe overthinking speechless animated characters a bit too much. Personally, the unique individual personalities and stellar animation on the Llamas, paired with the serial-killer'esque, visually creative end sequence are what set this 30 minute short above its feature length predecessor in a lot of ways. It's the same quality of animation and same mixed, but generally successful mixture of humour and heart, but with what I feel is a leaner, more entertaining 'story'. It lacks the crap-pop songs and abundance of pop-culture reference related humour that the movie thrives on also, and whilst it may not have the same degree of ambition, it makes up for it with a fantastically realised set of new characters, once again proving Aardman are the kings of expressive stop motion puppetry. For fans of Shaun the Sheep, and Aardman in general, 2015 was definitely a treat.




    4. A Matter of Loaf and Death (2008).

    And so, we arrive at the most recent, and possibly last ever Wallace & Gromit film. Nearly 10 years ago now, A Matter of Loaf and Death was broadcast ...as with the previous entry, Christmas Day on BBC One, and ended up being the most viewed non-sporting event in the UK for over 20 years. W&G is somewhat of a British institution, and given how rare new films come along? It was quite the event. This was also the first time Aardman turned a 30 minute short over in a single year, announcing the film in January and giving updates on its production over the 12 month wait on its website, which was fun for people like me, who are desperately sad nerds. The premise is surprisingly dark for what's generally considered family entertainment, a baker hating serial killer has murdered 12 innocent people in the local area, and Wallace has just so happened to recently open his own bakery....you don't need to be a genius to know where this is going. Coincidentally (?) Wallace just so happens to meet the girl of his dreams, a former low-fat bread spokeswomen, and after saving her from being eaten by a crocodile, the two swiftly fall in love. How nice. What could possibly go...oh. Never mind. Although the goofiest, most cartoonish of all the W&G shorts, finishing a transformation into more wacky slapstick territory that began in Curse of the Wererabbit, compared to the more subtle (Relatively anyhow) humour and action of the previous films, Matter of Loaf and Death also deals with oddly dark themes, including the previously mentioned murder of the serial variety, but also domestic abuse and stockholm syndrome-esque grief via the other new character of the film, Fluffles...a similarly mute love interest for Gromit that gets a pretty raw deal across the events of the film. Although the quality of humour isn't quite on par with previous films (The 'bomb in my pants' scene is maybe a somewhat low moment for the series as a whole), it makes up for that with Nick Park's signature flair for cinematic lighting and detail, providing a feature movie's worth of extravagant directing and well thought-out action for a merely 30 minutes long short. It's a great short, not the best from W&G by far, but the characters are still wonderful, the animation/lighting/directing/music is all top form, and the premise, whilst dark (Not a problem for me really), is really fun. If this is the last slice of action from these two we ever get, it's a pretty good ending point. I'd like another though, Mr Park...please? PLEASEEE?!





    3. A Close Shave (1995).

    We're reaching the end of our rankings, and as such, we're very much in the classics territory. Those days of Shaun the Sheep are behind us...oh wait...no they aren't, because sheep are the name of the game in A Close Shave, the 3rd entry in the Wallace & Gromit franchise, which also happens to be the début appearance of a certain, previously mentioned sheep named Shaun. Wallace & Gromit have opened a window cleaning service, soap canons, bungee chords and HILARITY ENSUE, AH AH AH, EH? HA HA HA. But also there's sheep being slaughtered. And Gromit gets framed for murder and sent to jail. Oh...ohhoho? No. A Close Shave introduced what went on to become the formula for the franchise...Wallace uses his inventions to start a new career, meets a girl he fancies, things go awry, with the villain being connected to the love interest in varying ways. In this instance, his window cleaning business leads him to meet Wendoline, owner of a local wool shop who needed her windows cleaning. She's the only store in the area to have any wool, the recent sheep rustling/killings leaving everyone else fresh out...why's she got so many? Whooooo's this evil looking dog called Preston? Gosh, who knows what's going on here. As we now come to expect, the short is beautifully filmed and contains several memorable action sequences, the most famous of which being the truck/bike chase, which takes many forms, including on-road pursuit, air-assault and some truly impressive on-motorbike sheep stacking. The sequence that follows is almost as great, and the whole short is filled with great gags and goofy jokes. Wendoline isn't a particularly interesting character, despite her moral quandaries, but Preston is a suitably menacing villain, and Shaun is...well...Shaun. Although introducing a scrappy young side-kick to a pre-existing, well loved formula can often result in a bad case of Scrappy Doo, Shaun is just sparsely used enough to not intrude, whilst also providing additional charms to proceedings. As with the show that later spun-off, the supporting background sheep cast is great too, and the score, by Julian Notts is as always, an underrated treat, adding tension, excitement and heart to scenes when required, the Gromit trial sequence, shown from the perspective of Wallace reading about the events unfolding, is the emotional whammy of the film, and perhaps the saddest scene in the whole franchise....I mean, obviously things are going to be just fine, this isn't Black Mirror, but still hard not to feel a bit touched by the emotions displayed by usually such jolly characters. This, along with the following 2 entries, are the 3 people always struggle with deciding just WHICH Wallace & Gromit film is the best...well, we're about to find out where the chips fall for me, that's for sure.




    2. Curse of the Wererabbit (2005).

    I'll be honest, it's been really hard to choose which of these final two films takes the top spot, they're both...really...REALLY good, and the best of what Wallace & Gromit has to offer, but despite their one and only feature film outing being one of my all time favourite animated films, it just misses out from ruling the roost, thanks to the previously mentioned beginnings of a shift in tone and humour to be a bit more...flamboyant at times. It's not enough to ruin the film by any means, but it's enough to get it second place in this, a battle of two masterpieces. Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Wererabbit is probably the most widely seen film of the franchise, given it's a feature length co-production with Dreamworks Animation, that released in cinemas worldwide, and topped the US box office in its opening weekend, going on to win all the animation awards for its specific year. The premise is an exquisitely directed horror spoof where Wallace, frustrated by Gromit's frequent attempts to strong-arm him into a healthier lifestyle, decides to take the natural next step...which is of course, brain alteration. Concurrently, their booming rabbit control business, sold to the entire town thanks to their undying devotion to vegetable growing, has resulted in a storage problem, one Wallace thinks he can fix with...brain alteration OF COURSE. Whilst attempting to remove their veggie desires, the process goes wrong, and he ends up melding minds with one unlucky rabbit. Soon after, a monstrous wererabbit starts ravaging the crops, and it's up to Antipesto (That's the name of their business btw) to stop it...but just who could it be? HMMMM, SUCH MYSTERIES, EH? This feature expands the usually small cast to a whole towns worth of wacky characters, and features such acting talents as Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter in the leading support roles of villain, and love interest respectively. Despite the wider scope and bigger budget, it still manages to keep the feel and charms of the shorts, the puppets all look handmade, and bare the trademark, literal Aardman fingerprints all over them, and even with Dreamwork's constant demands for the film to be more palatable to American youths, Nick Park and the gang basically ignored that and made it just as toothy and British as always, the only exception being the American version turning Gromit's all-important prize Marrow into a Melon...in dub alone, despite looking nothing like one, nice job, Dreamworks! As I've already said, visually this film is truly beautiful, having better directing, lighting and action chereography in stop-motion than a lot of live action blockbusters have, with a spectacular soundtrack one again worked on by Julian Notts, but this time also with the help of my main man HANS ZIMMMERRRRR. The action set-pieces aren't up there with the best of what the franchise has to offer, but they're still really great, and of course, the humour and heart is in abundance, the ending maybe overdoing it a little on the unwarranted attempts at tugging your heart-strings. Nitpicks aside, this is a spectacular animated movie, probably Aardman's best feature film (Although Chicken Run, the previous blog's #1, gives it a big ol' run for its money)...but not the best Wallace & Gromit film? Uhhh? What could possibly top this!? Welllll.... 




    1. The Wrong Trousers (1993).

    I mean, what else? Literally, this was the only one left, this is a franchise ranking blog, not a Top 10. That said, this, the second W&G instalment and the first to be fully produced at Aardman, is a rather predictable winner. The Wrong Trousers is very much the most universally beloved of all the films, at least from the people that've seen them all. It set the blueprint for the tone and quality expected of the franchise, and many would argue it has yet to be surpassed. And given its placement, I'm inclined to agree. Like I said, I love all the Wallace & Gromit films, with the top 3 in particular all being classics, but I mean...The Wrong Trousers is one of animations finest hours, surely? Premise is pretty simple, Wallace is struggling to pay the bills, probably because he just bought a pair of god damn autonomous, NASA designed pants....but hey ho. To make some extra bucks, he decides to rent out the spare room, and of course, it's not long before a silent and creepy penguin moves in, deciding instead to take claim of Gromit's room, leaving the poor pooch in the grotty spare. As you'd expect, the penguin is a fugitive from the law, an infamous jewel thief known as Feathers McGraw, who wears a rubber glove on his head to disguise himself as a chicken. Natch. What follows is a dejected Gromit running away from home, only to discover Feathers' true motivations for moving in with Wallace. The step up in quality from Grand Day Out to this is truly incredible, the addition of a co-writer, and a film-crew, along with the sizeable budget increase from his student film origins, gives Nick Park the chance to truly flaunt the directing talents he's now well known and awarded for. The humour is subtle, but hugely effective, the story is surprisingly engrossing for a film about a penguin lodger planning a diamond heist using a pair of walking trousers, and the whole thing comes across as a slick noir caper, brought down to quaint, British size. The heist taking place in a local museum, the epic chase taking place on a toy train...and holy SHIT. That god damn, motherfucking train chase. What a legendary sequence that bloody well is. At the time of production, the Aardman crew had no idea how to pull off a sequence like that in stop-motion in a way that wouldn't take all of time, and cost a fortune. What you see on screen is their first attempt at this kind of action, and yet it's possibly their finest moment, and one of animation history's most delightful chapters. And when you consider that's only the closing part of an exceptionally enjoyable 30 minutes of cinema? Then you'll start to understand just why this is top of the ranking in this blog. In some ways, you could view it as a negative that Wallace & Gromit have never managed to surpass what was essentially their formative production, but when you consider just how good some of the later films are, and how great the franchise is in general, it's really more a sign of the sheer quality of this film that they can't quite top it. I fear the days of Wallace & Gromit are long behind us, and even if they aren't, I fear even more than any new short would suffer from the continued change in tone and quality of humour that started in Curse of the Wererabbit and has most recently culminated in Early Man (A good film but not a patch on Aardman at their finest), but regardless of what the future holds, it'll never change the timeless excellence of The Wrong Trousers...and, well...most of the Wallace & Gromit library, honestly. It's good shit, and something I'm forever glad I grew up, and developed as a person with.







    And there you have it! My double whammy of Aardman blogs all wrapped up....thanks to anyone who decided to check this, and the pervious blog out....I know they're niche interest, and blogging in general is a niche interest these days, let's face it...so I really appreciate those who continue to support my foolish endeavours. What do you think of the rankings? What's your favourite Wallace & Gromit film? Do you think we'll get another in the future? What did you think of Early Man? LET ME KNOW ALL THESE IN THE COMMENTSSSS, HEYY OHOOOO.

    Won't be doing another blog for a little while, done 5 of them essentially back to back with little overall response, which was expected, but a little demoralising. My next blog is already planned though...and well, it's gonna be...ahem...AHEH...Marvel-ous. Subtle, eh? ALRIGHT, LATER GATORS. GOODBYYEE.

  • Week 15- Working On Lighting Still

    2 months ago

    marettiready Bryan Maretti

    Hi everyone,


    This week has been a bit tiring when it comes to time managing.  I have been working on my daily drawings in the morning, go to work in the evening, and come home to work on my big digital project at the night.  It's the same routine each day, but I can handle and manage for now.


    Aside from that, I am still working on rotoscoping light for the clips I have and it's a long process to do.  I think I'm on my 2nd clip to work on the lighting and I have about above 30 more clips to work on.  With this work I am doing, it might take me a couple of months to work on until I can work on sound editing and compiling the final clips together.  I have much to do, but this is where I am right now.


    Until then, I have more drawings to share with you all.     

    cl2XWHV.jpgqBxb39M.jpgb1cYU0Q.jpgq08kMbF.jpgnshLCaR.jpgQ1Vm0Bv.jpgAetSnfv.jpg

    Hope everyone has a good week and I'll see you later.


    Bryan

  • The Cloverfield Problem.

    2 months ago

    g1TheStickman

    WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS, ALL THE SPOILERS FOR CLOVERFIELD, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE AND THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX.


    Oh...hello! This wasn't planned until a day ago, obviously. I felt the urge to talk about the weird situation with this franchise in more detail, and...well...in the spirit of Cloverfield itself, here's a blog STRAIGHT OUTTA NOWHERE.

    As you may well know, the 3rd instalment of the Cloverfield franchise just appeared out of nowhere on Sunday evening/Monday morning at the end of the Super Bowl, revealed for the first time as The Cloverfield Paradox during the event, only to then be released on Netflix hours later. It was a pretty amazing marketing stunt, but the general consensus is that it may have been done this way partly due to the mixed-negative reception most fans and critics are now giving it. In the hours before release, its single 30 second teaser trailer told viewers that it would finally explain what happened in the original Cloverfield, released just over 10 years ago. The results were...interesting. So I think it's time to now look over the franchise as a whole, and discuss...just what the fuck exactly is Cloverfield as a franchise, and is it even worth being one? LET'S SEEEEEEE...




    Cloverfield (2008).

    Cloverfield came out as it aimed to continue existing back in 2008, first revealed without any prior knowledge of its existence out of nowhere in July 2007, via the above, mysterious teaser trailer that went on to set the tone for the opening sequence of the film, albeit with new, and alternative footage leading us in to what's perhaps the most iconic shot of the franchise, that decapitated Statue of Liberty head rolling across the street, complete with the must lampooned OH MY GAWWWD's. The first teaser didn't even have a film name attached, merely giving you the release date and the vague hints of some sort of big creature roaming the streets of New York. In a time where film trailers had become (and continue to be) less tantalising teases to get the audiences interest, and more condensed versions of the whole film, showing you every key action scene and big story moment before you can even make up your mind about wanting to see it, or not...Cloverfield's teaser got a lot of people very curious indeed. Throw in the extensive ARG (Alternate Reality Game), that's now become an expected and much loved tradition among hardcore fans for this franchise, and a continued sense of mystery leading right into the day of release and it's no wonder why this low-budget, found footage sci-fi movie was a surprise box office hit, earning over $170 Million against its $25 Million budget. The film was warmly received by fans and critics alike, and has gone on to become a standout of the now since mostly abandoned found footage genre.


    The premise of the film was pretty simple, and intentionally designed less to explain what's going on, and more to immerse you in it. A bunch of friends holding a leaving party for 'Rob' Hawkins find their lives turned upside down when a mysterious entity attacks the city of New York. Whilst initially the aim is, obviously, to ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (Ironically something the film famously pays homage to with its green head flinging antics), when it turns out Rob's close friend and awkward recent sex-partner, Beth is trapped in her appartment, so the mission becomes to rescue her instead. Along the way, the gang encounter the military attempting to fight back what is now known as a giant fucking spider-monkey....THING that drops smaller parasitic creatures off its back, which they then encounter in the New York subway, the bite of these resulting in the unfortunate...uh...exploding? of Marlena, who had really picked the wrong leaving party to just turn up at without knowing anyone. They rescue Beth, get to da evacuation choppa, and all looks well and good as the monster is carpet bombed by the army...only to then resurface and cause the CHOPPA to crash, leaving Rob, Hud (Played by the recently shamed TJ Miller) and Beth stranded in Central Park, Hud suffers from a bad case of 'needing to get a good shot of the monster' syndrome and gets bitten in half, and then our two remaining lovers are seemingly killed in the following airstrike on the park, which may or may not have killed the monster, the audio at the end of the credits...which is required to be played backwards in order to truly understand, suggests IT'S STILL ALIVE. Throw in a mysterious object crashing in the ocean in a flashback (of sorts) seen at the very end of the film, and a general lack of explanation for what the monster is, where it came from, and what happened next? You've got yourself a mysterious ass film, and something people have been wanting a sequel of some sorts to for a long time now. Well...in 2016, they got one...uh...sorta?




    10 Cloverfield Lane (2016).

    Fast forward to roughly 7 years on from the original Cloverfield...and yet again, a mysterious teaser trailer popped in front of a random Paramount release reveals a new Cloverfield movie that nobody in the world knew about, with a release date only two months on from this first reveal. This time, the found footage take is abandoned in favour of traditional filmed fare, with at that point completely unknown director Dan Trachtenberg (Only known prior to this for a Portal fan-film) helming, and John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr starring. The teaser told you next to nothing, beyond these three dudes being in a bunker, seeming to be getting on just fine, something weird happens above them, then it seems everything goes to shit, cue a mysterious, monster-like noise as the Cloverfield logo reveals itself, followed by 10 and Lane...not propositioning this as an immediate sequel so much as a continuation of the franchise. What followed was a predictable degree of surprise and excitement, followed by another extensive ARG that used corporations and concepts that seemed to tie into the first film in order to flesh out the otherwise mysterious character John Goodman plays. The film released, and was another sizeable success, earning $110 Million against a mere $15 Million budget, and the reviews and audience response were even more glowing, with praise especially going to John Goodman's unhinged and unsettling performance, with early-year awards buzz that predictably, went nowhere. Most people approved of the shift from found-footage genre picture, to tense and claustrophobic human drama, but some criticised the ending for feeling tacked on (Which we'll get to later in the blog), and questioned its placement in what was now, we supposed, a franchise.


    The film opens with lead character, Michelle, as she seemingly ditches her fiancé, packs up her bags and drives off into the sunset. She doesn't get too far, it seems, before being involved in a nasty car crash, and then wakes up with her broken leg in a brace, which is also hand (leg?) cuffed to a pipe in a dingy, sealed room in a weird bunker. John Goodman's Howard soon makes himself known, proclaiming to have saved her from the crash, and also from an apparent apocalyptic event that's left the human race completely wiped out, in his words. After several attempts to escape from her seeming prison, she's eventually allowed out into the whole bunker, where she meets another 'survivor', Emmett, and after witnessing a bloodied, diseased and manic women brain herself to death on the bunker's sealed door, the three all learn to live with each other, and accept that the world really has ended. After living in apocalyptic domestic bliss for some time, Michelle discovers Howard's much-touted daughter was actually a girl he kidnapped and seemingly later killed, and whilst he may have saved her and Emmett from a potential apocalypse, he also may have had ultimately sinister motivations for doing so. After their ensuing escape plan is partially discovered, Emmettt meats an untimely, grisly end protecting Michelle, with Howard starting to show his true colours towards her afterwards, and it becomes time to GET THE FUCK OUT OF THERE, come what may. After barely making it out of the bunker alive, and leaving Howard slowly dissolving in its burning remains, Michelle discovers there really was an apocalyptic event, a seeming alien invasion to be precise, which, again she barely survives. The final moments of the film being her decision to stop running away from things, and start to fight, specifically joining the rag-tag human resistance in taking down the alien threat. End film, and again, leaving explanations and conclusions aside in favour of immersing the viewer in a situation that's just as confusing to the characters as it is to them. 10 Cloverfield Lane left even more questions unanswered...in addition to all the ones raised in this film, it also failed to answer anything from the first, or even tell the audience how it ultimately tied in to it...would they ever get their answers? Well...sorta...in a fashion.



    Cloverfield Paradox (2018).

    And thus we arrive at the reason this blog exists today...The Cloverfield Paradox. Unlike the previous two films, this was known about for some time prior to its ultimate reveal, the more attention Bad Robot draws to itself as a purveyor of mysterious projects, the more likely someone's gonna go out of their way to find out. Initially known as 'God Particle', it became known as the third, untitled Cloverfield after not too long, being pushed back from release again and again starting from late 2016, all through 2017 and then supposedly delayed in 2018 too, before suddenly being sold off to Netflix by Paramount, and getting surely the insurmountable peak of surprise releases, being announced and released within the space of 3 hours. The first, and only teaser trailer for this film popped up for 30 seconds during the Super Bowl, revealing the name, release time and a few shots from the film, with the main bulk of the teaser seemingly tying this film into the original Cloverfield...promising to finally reveal what caused the events of that film, going so far as to suggest events may take place simultaneously at one point. This was something of a mis-sell, in immediate hindsight, but the surprise reveal and sudden release got people very excited indeed, with the traditional ARG having been taking place prior to its reveal, in what many had anticipated would be build up to the release of its first trailer, not the film itself. Unfortunately, the excitement of its sudden release started to subside when the majority of people saw, and weren't too impressed with the final product. The critical reviews have been somewhat over the top in their scathing dislike of what I feel is an entertaining, but cliché and half-baked space romp, with some people being more favourable to it than others, with the only universal agreement being that it is a step-down for the 'franchise' and it doesn't fully explore the potentials it lays out, both as a standalone film, and as a tie-in to the series as a whole.


    We start off on earth, with Ava and Michael Hamilton stuck in a long line for some petrol, in a near-future where we've used up all our energy sources, and the world is slowly falling into chaos, with the threat of war over what limited resources remain growing ever closer. It turns out there's a plan, however, and after some encouragement from her husband, Ava makes the decision to do her part, and soon enough we're orbiting the earth in what's both a space station, and a particle accelerator, with the hope behind it being the discovery of an infinitely sustainable energy source from a successful particle collision. After almost two years of failed tests, they finally seem to have some luck, only for everything to quickly hit the fan quite spectacularly, like some sort of shit. Suddenly, they find the earth is missing, and the gyroscope used to position and locate themselves has gone missing too. Tensions start to rise among the international crew, bolstered by increased division between their nations back on Earth. They don't really have that long to think about this, because really weird things start to happen soon after, chiefly...finding a completely unknown women fused inside a wall, who believes she's one of the crew, a Russian crew-member having worms (and a gyroscope, somehow) transported inside his body, which causes some horrific eye...stuff, and eventually, a worm-infested body explosion that, obviously, kills him, and...oh yes, Chris O'Dowd's arm phasing through a wall, disappearing, only to then turn up as ...seemingly some alternate reality version of himself's arm that has sentience? Uhh? It turns out they've phased into an entirely different dimension, and the ship has merged with the version of themselves that had also been there, with a crew that both differed in motivations, and also literally who was and wasn't on board. It also turns out that the Earth in the universe they were now in had succumbed to the energy crisis their Earth is on the verge of, and was close to annihilation. Meanwhile, on the ...real? Earth, Ava's husband is witness to a sudden and catastrophic event that leaves his city in ruins, rescuing a small child from what seems to be a giant monster. Meanwhile, Ava is debating whether or not to stay in this alternate universe, as in this one, her children are still alive, blaming herself for the death of her own as they were killed in a fire from a malfunctioning energy cell that she herself had illegally installed. Throw in the wall-woman, Mina's desires to get revenge on crewmates who were traitorous in her own universe, and also take the possibly now useable energy source of the Particle Accelerator to save her own world? And...well...things get a bit messy. The race to get back to their own dimension before it's too late results in the death of everyone but Ava and her gravely wounded crew member Kiel, who finally make it back home, only for it to turn out that, whilst they've been away, giant monsters that seemingly, their Particle Accelerator incident unleashed on the planet have more or less destroyed the civilisation they were hoping to have saved. Cue huge Cloverfield monster coming out of the clouds, roarwwrrinng, and then end credits. Leaving things on yet another cliffhanger, with scores of unresolved questions, and only vague answers to the big question from 10 years ago...just why are these monsters here? And how are these films connected? Wellll....




    How are they connected? 

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    This has been the million dollar question since 10 Cloverfield Lane dropped...just how exactly do that film, and the 2008 original connect? This has always been a point of confusion for the majority of people, as the brand connection would lead you to believe they either take place at the same time, or 10 Cloverfield Lane is a proper sequel that chronicles another incident that occurred in another part of the USA. Chief problem with concept number 1 is the obvious anachronisms 10 Cloverfield would have if it indeed took place at the same time as the 2008 set original. Phones, cars and technology are quite a bit different now than they were back then, and phones specifically are the kicker, given a modern touch screen phone plays an integral role in the opening...whereas in early 2008, we'd only really just entered the dawn of what's now the modern mobile phone, with a comparatively lower tech flip-phone being an integral plot-device in that one. They simply don't take place at the same time, and given we can assume the original's monster destroyed New York, and continued to survive afterwards, it seems unlikely that it would've been business as usual 7 years later, and even if it had been defeated, aliens and giant monsters are prattled off as ludicrous conspiracy theories by the characters of 10 Cloverfield Lane, which simply wouldn't be the case had this taken place after Cloverfield. Our newest entry to the franchise was promoted as having the answers, at least for how the events of the first film happened. Despite this, the film takes place in the not too distant future of 2028, a full 20 years on from the events of the original Cloverfield movie it was clearly, misleadingly marketed as taking place during. So what's the connection? Well...it's there, but it's not exactly the focus of The Cloverfield Paradox, in fact you could say it's quite literally a throw-away line towards the very start. The non-character of Mark Stambler, chiefly represented through the viral ARG campaign that took place prior to release, turns up very briefly on a newsfeed, discussing the potential dangers of the particle accelerator experiment about to be undertaken. According to him, and his book which I'm surprised doesn't suddenly exist for real yet, the ramifications of this experiment going wrong could result in a tear in the space-time continuum, one that he has on good authority could unleash monsters from another dimension into our own, at any point in time, and possibly in any other dimension in the multi-verse. This is a very specific and sloppy tie into the grander scheme, but it does finally offer...something of an explanation for what's going on? Sorta?


    If the titular 'Cloverfield Paradox' and its very specific prediction of doom are to be believed, the brief tear in space-time caused by the particle accelerator incident that left the crew of Cloverfield Station (There's a lotta Cloverfield stuff to be named in this blog) in another dimension, and later brought them back, was a tear across the entire multi-verse, leaving temporary gateways between different dimensions that allowed monsters to break through and cause havoc in different time periods, in different universes, in an event that occurred both simultaneously but also in completely different times and places across space-time...universe..multiverse...hoo boy. Basically, the monsters of Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane and the one(s?) seen during The Cloverfield Paradox are from a rift in spacetime that occurred in at least three separate universes. The connection is that they aren't connected in a traditional sense, but are in a multiverse that was afflicted by a singular space-time event that tore through all of them. That's...complicated, and kinda dumb, but it does explain why these films co-exist in the same franchise without having specific connections. The running threads through all of them are a connection to Slusho, JJ Abrams fictional brand that appears in basically all of his films...and more specifically, Tagruato...a conglomerate business that features in all three films to some degree. It's the company Rob is leaving to work for in the first Cloverfield, it's the mining company Howard previously worked for in 10 Cloverfield Lane, as evidenced broadly by the ARG campaign, but also briefly featured on an unopened letter in the film...and finally, the name appears on some equipment on the space station in Cloverfield Paradox, implying they had a hand in its construction. These all being apparent alternate realities, the only through-lines are these companies that exist in all of them. You can't even argue that the monsters themselves are a connection, as 10 Cloverfield Lane features an entirely different, albeit similar in basic concepts species. Which leads us to the biggest question...



    Why are they connected?

    cloverfield-statue-of-liberty.jpg

    GOOD QUESTION. And one that's not really answerable from a in-universe perspective. After the original Cloverfield released, and made a lotta muns, got a lotta love...obviously the question became...when's the sequel coming, JJ? Whilst I don't think it was ever designed to become a franchise, producer/creator JJ Abrams and director Matt Reeves both seemed keen to explore the franchise some more in the future, specifically, a film that followed on from, or took place at the same time as the original. The chief example of a potential sequel brought up by both in the months and years following its release was that of another found footage film that followed a different group of people trying to survive the same event, from a different perspective, that maybe offered a bit more insight into the lore behind the attack, and its monsters in the process. Reeves specifically points out that in the bridge scene, featured early into the films 2nd act, where the group we're following encounter another person filming the events unfolding. His idea was the possibility of exploring things from that perspective, having that specific crossover moment, but otherwise telling a completely different found footage story, set within the same disaster. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well obviously that never happened, come 2009 and JJ Abrams was showing reluctance to make a sequel just for the sake of doing one, wanting to make sure they had a solid idea for a follow-up before doing it. At this point the idea of a military-focused sequel that'd abandon the found-footage genre was also mused. Fast forward a few years to the release of Super 8 in 2011, which despite being treated similarly mysteriously to Cloverfield, and featuring many seeming connections, was denied by Bad Robot to be connected to the franchise, with the actual sequel to Cloverfield seemingly in development hell. And that was it until 2016, when 10 Cloverfield Lane suddenly existed...how had they made a new Cloverfield movie without anyone knowing? The answer? Well...they hadn't. It was never meant to be a Cloverfield movie.


    10 Cloverfield Lane, previously called The Cellar, previously called Valencia...was an attempt by Paramount Pictures to make low-risk, microbudget genre movies that cost little to make, but potentially offered a sizeable profit. The script originated in 2012 and circulated the infamous hit list of unproduced, but promising screenplays, then being snapped up by Paramount, who gave it to partner studio Bad Robot to develop further. The film was rewritten, cast, and well into production before the musings of a potential tie-in to Cloverfield originated. The film was finished and renamed The Cellar in 2015, and given several test-screenings, where it's reported the ending of 10 Cloverfield Lane wasn't there at all. Instead of going outside and having a fight with some monsters, Michelle seemingly stepped outside, having completely destroyed the bunker, only to find...nothing. No monsters, no killer gas, but no animals or people either. The film supposedly ended on an ambiguous note, where you were never sure if the event was over, if humanity had survived, and beyond that, if an event had even taken place at all, with the suggestion that it'd all been a lie made up by Howard to kidnap her. When the idea to make it a Cloverfield movie became reality, the budget was marginally increased to include extensive reshoots that tied it into the franchise, and added the required monster madness at the end. It's unknown how much of this was added in order to make it a Cloverfield movie, and how much if it was added because of the test-screening feedback, but the fact of the matter is, this was a standalone thriller re-purposed to become a spiritual follow-up to Cloverfield, with the actual sequel to that film apparently scrapped due to the western kaiju scene, something that was basically non-existent in 2008, having been "played out" by films like 2014 Godzilla and Pacific Rim. Around the same time as Valencia was filming, another micro-budget sci-fi film was in the works at Paramount, called 'God Particle'. Announced in 2012, but only entering production in 2016, this was another intentionally low-budget, but high concept genre picture that initially stood by itself as a standalone project, only to then be tweaked and reshot at a later date after the higher-ups decision to integrate it into Cloverfield suddenly became apparent to the writer. What it seems the Cloverfield franchise has become, is a home for Paramount to repurpose original sci-fi properties into franchise films, in order to make them more financially viable. Something that worked really well with 10 Cloverfield Lane, and worked well for Paradox in terms of marketing, but ended up not succeeding so much as a film, or a tie-in to a larger franchise plan, given Paramount more or less gave up on it succeeding, and sold it off to Netflix. Indeed, it seems whatever plans Bad Robot and Paramount have for Cloverfield are less thought out and more spontaneous whims, which are evidently going to be hit and miss, and remain standalone titles despite leaving so much left unanswered or explored. It also makes you wonder just why Super 8, a film with a marketing campaign somewhat identical to Cloverfield, a monster that, although at the time differed too much from the 2008 original to tie-in, but now could slot in quite nicely in a world where 10 Cloverfield's spaceships exist, and the entire multiverse is at play, and hell...a poster that's almost identical in design and font as 10 Cloverfield Lane's...is...not a Cloverfield film? Because it certainly would be now, there's no question about that.




    What's the future, here?

    As it currently stands, it seems any plans or hopes for a traditional sequel to 2008's Cloverfield, or a sequel to either 10 Cloverfield Lane or The Cloverfield Paradox are more or less off the table. Cloverfield as a franchise doesn't seem to exist as a connected narrative so much as it does an anthology film franchise, seemingly to be comprising of previously unrelated films that've been repurposed in order to vaguely fit around a premise of big monsters causing biiiig problems on our planet. Whether or not this trend of re-purposing existing films will continue, or if eventually what I guess is now the Cloverfield Multiverse will eventually start getting stand-alone titles designed from the get go to be in the franchise remains to be seen. We do know already that there is at least one more film being for the Cloverfield franchise, and that's Overlord, another low-budget sci-fi film that filmed last year, and was reportedly a zombie movie, but may now be about another monster attack, this time set during WWII. None of that is confirmed, but given it's coming from the same sources that outed God Particle all the way back in 2016? Seems pretty likely that it's true. That's currently scheduled for an October release, which would be fitting for its zombie/monster horror angle, but at this point, who the hell knows when a Cloverfield movie's going to be released, for all we know it's already out there and we just don't know it. It's crazy times. Whether or not this film will be any good is another question entirely, it seems, as with any anthology media (Black Mirror, American Horror Story, things of this nature that've caught on a lot again in recent times), the quality is going to vary wildly depending on the premise, and talent involved...and it certainly doesn't help when last minute reshoots and forced injections of brand-connecting mythos are dangerously thrown into the mix. 


    Whilst the idea of a high concept, monster based science fiction franchise which can never be predicted, can land at any moment, and retain the increasingly illusive element of mystery that so few films manage in this day and age is very enticing, my chief concern is the quality of their films, and the need for them to have tie-ins, at the detriment of their own story. Either you're an standalone anthology series that's never going to fill in the narrative blanks left unanswered in each consecutive film, or you're a connected series of monster movies that needs to have a stronger through-line. You can't continued to try to be both, and fail at being either, and expect people to keep turning up at your door each time you pull a wacky marketing stunt from your magic JJ Abrams hat. Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed all three of these movies so far, but The Cloverfield Paradox wasn't especially fantastic despite being entertaining, and it does well and truly make you question if Cloverfield'ing random projects at the last minute is a particularly good idea, even if it makes people ooh and aah at the surprises. Three films in, and people are starting to get antsy about the whole concept and the way it both tampers with original movies, and fails to explain its own lore to a satisfying degree. We're at a turning point, I feel. We've had the biggest release stunt possible, we've had the first dud release too. The cracks are starting to show, and if the downward spiral continues, the franchise will have the interest and intrigue it exists solely off of killed stone dead. We have no idea how Overlord will be, we don't even know how much it'll tie into the franchise, and how early on that decision was made. Like everything else in this franchise, it's a total mystery, and that's really starting to become a double edged sword for it. Let's just hope the future gets brighter for Cloverfield before it's too late.





    Well...there's an impromptu blog for you. What did you think of The Cloverfield Paradox? What's your stance on the other films in the franchise, and how do you feel about it being this loosely connected anthology? Let me know in the comments below, and see you next week for Part 2 of my Aardblogs. I'm just...too many blogs, you guys. LATER GATTOORSS.

  • Week 14- Close Yet Far

    2 months ago

    marettiready Bryan Maretti

    Hi everyone,


    I don't have much to write this week, I'm just working on my big project as usual.  I'm getting close to finishing it, but yet it still feels far away to complete.  I'm working on rotoscoping light movement right now and it's taking awhile to work on because I have to animate it each keyframe to make it move smoothly.  I still have much to do.  They are small adjustments to work on, but I have to do them with every clip I have done so far and I have a lot to do.  There's much to do, but I have to keep moving forward.


    As for know, I have more drawings to share this week.

    fDdW4qP.jpg6K1nIU6.jpgqx5hCol.jpgwSKGQ3O.jpgcgf52ix.jpgAwybK1K.jpgAFInJUK.jpg

    Have a good week everyone,


    Bryan

  • Consistency and Adaptability

    2 months ago

    Caofontaine Wizard

    As seen on:

    My Website

    Medium


    /* Create a system that works for you. If you want to be more efficient, make your schedule efficient first. */


    mx0iJ9D.jpg


    They’re qualities I guess I’m more known for now than in the past.


    I’ve always said that there isn’t enough time to do what we want to do. We need more hours in the day. Unfortunately, that is an unrealistic wish. The compromise is to create a system in which I effectively make use of the time I have available. Of course, that doesn’t always work out.


    For years, maybe more so in college, I’ve been trying to develop a system for myself to be more efficient. College was more of the test bed for it. Took a lot of experimentation to get where I am today and it’s not a perfect system. Nothing ever is.


    I think to be consistent, you need a mindset change. It’s like what motivates you. Motivation and hard work stem from actively turning on that switch to allow yourself to do so. I know that’s strange to say, but it’s not as if your brain subconsciously says, “Hey, today you’re going to be motivated”. I’ve used the work ethic from my running to apply in my work, exercise, friends, family, and extra-curricular activities.


    So in my work I try to stay 3 steps ahead. Knowing I have something due on Tuesday, I try to get everything done and approved on Monday, to make room for potential hiccups. Or to give whomever I’m working with enough time to get their part done. This allows an increase in efficiency and quality of work. It also allows me to start other work early.


    I’m not saying you need to plan out your day hour by hour to create your system. I don’t even do that. My system is still an ad-hoc schedule in certain aspects, especially my weekends. Weekends are designed to allow you to relax, but you want to get the most out of your weekend as well. To go back to a timely system, my work hours are 8 hours almost to do the dot. When my 8 hours are done, I go straight to my workout. Of course, if I need to stay later to do the working part, I must do so and that’s where having a good system allows for good adaptability.


    Let’s talk a bit more about my habits. I wear a Fitbit. My step goal is 7,000 daily. I actively try to get it every single day. I haven’t failed to reach my step goal since January 2015. Even on the weekends, where I’m typically at my most inactive. I will actually walk around in my bedroom while watching a video in order to get my 7,000 steps (because the outside world is scary, man).


    Ok, so you’ve read about my rambling on how my system works. I honestly wish I was able to have a good system in high school or college because I truly believe it would have work and help me grow more as an adult trying to balance life and work. Plus my grades could’ve been better. Though that would mean maturing early as a middle-schooler to start building a system through high school and college. Maturing is hard.


    So what’s my advice to you, reader? If you’re keen on being a consistent person, you have to want it. Again, it’s a mindset you need to put yourself into to develop it. It will take a lot of trial and error. You will not get this on the first try. It’s going to require some sacrifice. Maybe things you wanted to fit into your life, but can’t because time doesn’t allow it. People you hang out with may have to take a back seat in order to reach a level you’ve never been at before. It’s hard. It’s going to frustrate you, but you’ll know once you’ve reached a system you enjoy and then you start building on it and adding back what you had taken out.


    I currently love my imperfect system and it’s only gotten better in the past few months. I’m more awake and active than I’ve ever been. I can think more clearly and my quality in the things I do during the day have improved. I’m seeing the results. It’s only upward from here. You can do it. Just have to want to do it.

  • Top 10 Aardman Animations.

    3 months ago

    g1TheStickman


    WOAAHH, HEYYYY. I toooold you I'd be back soon, eh? Usually I'd take a post-Gimpy Awards blog hiatus, and in general now I'd make a new blog every couple months these days....but it's a special occasion, and after having missed the last chance to celebrate a few years back, I certainly wasn't going to do it again!

    Aardman Animations...is a studio. They make things. There's many studios out there, some better than others, but there's none quite like Aardman for me. If you've known me at all across the many years, you'll know I'm big into these guys and gals, and have been since I was like, 3 or something. They were a huge inspiration to me, and helped make me the person I am today...so yeah, blame them. So whilst a new film from them may not be a big deal to some, it's a biiiiiig deal to me. Early Man, their newest feature film, from the man who created Wallace & Gromit (Nick Park) is out in the UK this week, so I'm very much in the mood for some Aard, maaaan!


    So yeah, I decided to do a Top 10 of my favourite productions that Aardman have made. These can be feature length, or short films, and they can also be TV shows, as long as Aardman were the studio who made them happen, they're eligible. The exceptions? Firstly, music videos and advertisements. Aardman are quite well known for these, but not only would there be a fuckton of them to sift through, they also wouldn't have much of a chance against the longer form, original productions they've made across their 40+ year lifespan. The other exception? Wallace & Gromit. What's that, I hear you say? WHAT'S THE FUCKING POINT, THEN!? Well that would just mean the winners would be obvious, and the list would be dominated by those, instead of more interesting inclusions. The other reason is I'm going to do ANOTHER blog in a couple weeks, to coincide with the US release of Early Man, ranking the whole Wallace & Gromit franchise, which includes Shaun the Sheep. So that's why. Should be fun, mmmm?


    Alrighty, that should do it. The usual, these are just my opinions, if you disagree with the ranking, or wish something specific had been on here, that's fine, let me know...niiicely in the comments below, and we can DISCUSS. ALRIGHT, ENJOOOYYYY...



    10. Morph (1977-2005, 2014-2016).

    Couldn't be an Aardman ranking without this little guy, really. Although he wasn't their first creation (The titular Aardman was their first broadcast animation), Morph was definitely their first success story. Debuting on 'Vision On' back in the 70s, Morph started out as a comic foil to the late Tony Hart as he worked on some arty things. He continued this supporting role on arts programmes on and off up to 2005, appearing on smArt for several years, which is where I was first introduced to him. His role expanded into his own TV shows a couple times, once an original series that featured a whole supporting cast of characters including, most notably, Chas, his ...brother? I guess? And  all sorts of wacky shit, like a tinfoil woman, a green alien blob ...thing...and a nailbrush that behaved like a pet dog. The other was some weird, cheaply made reuse of previous years of existing footage, but hey HO...never mind, eh? After his stint on smArt ended, his time in the sun came to pass, an attempt at a revival with a new arts show pilot in 2012 came to nothing, and then Aardman finally took matters into their own hands, doing their one and currently only Kickstarter campaign to revive Morph and Chas in a new series of 1-2 minute animations for Youtube. The success of that campaign, and the resulting shorts led to a second run of these, this time made for Sky TV...and then in 2017 he celebrated his 40th anniversary with his own charity fundraising exhibition. He's the longest running Aardman 'franchise', and whilst he's ranking low for lack of substance or lengthier outings, what he lacks in words or depth, he makes up for in charm and creativity. Morph as a design is very simple, just being a thick blob of plasticine, not even featuring an armature (Sorta interior skeleton for the puppets), and the desktop setting limits what can be done with the character, but in another way, the limitations allow for more creative and quirky scenarios, making even a 1 minute Morph short generally pretty damn entertaining. That, and..well he's just a loveable guy really, Morph. Here's to hoping there's more from him coming in the future...maybe a Morph movie? That'd be....a challenge, but if anyone could pull it off, surely it's Aardman.




    9. Pib & Pog (1995, 2006).

    We're taking a sharp turn from one of Aardman's best known franchises, right into obscure territory...and frankly, we're gonna be staying there for a while, so get strapped in for some AARDMAN EDUCATION. Pib & Pog is a strange one, for sure. It's one of several standalone short films Aardman made for Channel 4 back in the late 80s/early 90s, and it's not the last one on this list, I'll tell you that much. What makes this one strange is that it's something of a franchise? The short debut'd in 1995, and they went on to become the face of Dairylea products in the UK for a short period in 1999, featured in a selection of advertisements. The story didn't end there, though, as over 10 years later on from their original short in 2006, they were revived one last time for a 5 part webseries on the now dead and buried ATOM Films...which was a video content website that pre-dated, and then was killed by Youtube. The premise of Pib & Pog? What if childrens TV show...but too far? The original short was done up to be like a sweet and innocent pre-school show, but as you'll see above, it's anything butt. Uzis, sulphuric acid and more are used in this oddly violent slapstick film, all accompanied by the innocent, nieve kind of narration you'd expect from a kids show. The slapstick and comedy timing are what sell the short, which is one of many Aardman productions that veered towards the adult audience that many wouldn't expect them to cater to. Whilst the short is somewhat a halfway house in terms of audiences, it's violent and uses surprising weaponry, but isn't explicit as such....the series that later followed is full on adult, with two episode themes being eating some anonymous drug, and looking at (off-screen) bestiality porn. The short is the star, but the series is good fun too, and whilst Pib & Pog is decidedly one-note in premise, hence why it's never really taken off despite their attempts to seralise it, I still find myself chuckling along with each oddball adventure the pair have had. The short (above) and the 5 part series are all now available on Aardman's new teenage/adult comedy Youtube channel, Aardboiled...so why not give it a look? Worse ways to spend 30 minutes, I can assure you.




    8. Stage Fright (1997).

    We're staying in the 90s, we're keeping with Aardman's adult-aimed C4 shorts library, but this time we're going from brief and comedic, to dark and narrative-focused. Out of all the shorts they made for Channel 4, I'm surprised this one hasn't broken out with some sort of cult following because it's...just one of those things that could, really. Stage Fright is a beautifully filmed, but slightly wonky attempt at a more serious, story focused animation from Aardman, who're generally known for light-hearted slapstick fun. The basic premise is a slightly feral dog-trainer struggling to survive in a world that's moved on from stage-performances and variety style entertainment, into the early days of silent cinema. Throw in a concerned but conflicted blossoming actress and the arrogant and violent leading man who seeks to exploit the trainers pet dogs, and the actress for his own cinematic pursuits, and...well...It's a promising premise...but that's basically the entire short in a nutshell, and I mean that twofold. That's the entire short summed up without much else in terms of depth, and it's also that the promising nature gives way in the end to a solid, but iffy production. Visually the short is stunning, and that's mostly why it's here, the lighting, animation and atmosphere are all top notch, and akin to the quality you'd expect from a feature length production, not merely an 11 minute short. It's also got some great moments, particularly the ultimate (inevitable) undoing of the big baddie, who's main fault is lacking in any purpose beyond being a violent jerk. The short also suffers from the weird decision to have one actor do all 3 voices, which ended up clearly pitched and altered in post-production, as sometimes, particularly with the actress, it sounds very artificial and weird. That said, it's still a very entertaining short, and an interesting experiment in dramatic, adult storytelling for Aardman, one which they haven't really explored a huge deal before, or since (Babylon, a 1986 surreal short about corporate greed and arms dealing is a rare, gory and dark exception, missing out on this list because well...I can't make heads of tails of what's going on in it, really). Mainly, it's just beautiful to watch, even to this date, and the plot and acting are serviceable enough to leave you with a pretty damn solid short.



    7. Loves me, Loves me not (1993).

    Another adult-aimed Channel 4 short from the 90s, now veering between the two previous shorts in terms of tone. This is a dark and surreal comedy...of sorts(?), not telling a whole narrative so much as focusing on one person and one scenario. 'Loves me, Loves me not' tells the tale of a man, deeply in love with....whoever's in his picture frame, deciding to play that age-old game with the petals of a flower. They love me...they love me not...and so forth. The twist in this short? Each pull of the petal creates an effect on him, or the world around him ...love brings euphoria, not brings...trouble. I'd recommend watching it before reading this entry, it's right up there so why the hell not, y'know? What really makes this short work is the creativity of the premise, and the expressive, smoothness of the animation throughout. Each consecutive petal pull results in a more dramatic end-result, what starts as tears of sorrow soon results in a gun to the head...what starts as a warm feeling of satisfaction could turn into your heart beating so fast it bursts out your chest...in a good way. The more petals he pulls, the more drastic the 'Loves me not' end of the spectrum becomes, and that of course, brings up the age old question of which will win out upon that final pull. SPOILERS...it's not the good one. The increasingly violent and suicidal means the 'not' petals use to physically express the pain of not being loved are what give this short the more adult edge, and the ultimate twist that all this was over a love...for himself? The frame holding a mirror, after all? Makes his ultimate plunge into hell a bit less painful, because it becomes the story of a self-centred man desperate to prove how much he loves himself, at the expense of the poor flower, and eventually his own life. The ending has a satisfying, amusing thump to it, with the eerie music, and unusual background/lighting throughout adding a strange, enjoyably unsettling atmosphere to proceedings. It's greatest fault is that maybe it peaks in terms of petal-pulling results around the mid-way point, but it's still a unique and creepy short, one I wish Aardman would do more of these days. How about getting the ol' Aardman/Channel 4 band back together, guys? That'd be awesome, and I think there's definitely an audience who'd turn up for a new collection of dark, but well crafted animations from this studio, to that demographic.



    6. Not Without my Handbag (1993).

    Another entry, another Channel 4 short, this from the same year as the previous..and that, along with a similarly morbid sense of humour, are where the similarities end. Not Without my Handbag is a tale of a missed washing machine loan payment having deadly results. We're back in the fully comedic department again, somewhat hit and miss at that, unfortunately...which, along with some odd pauses and strange character movements are the shorts only real faults. Visually, the short is one of the most surreal and unique that Aardman have made, lacking any of their usual, toothy, post-Wallace & Gromit faces and model designs...or even the usual plasticine models at all, really. The characters, much like the world they inhabit are...oddly proportioned and rather creepy, but in the best way, of course, and the premise of the devil being a cake-addicted loan shark makes for a fun take on the well explored concepts of hell and the antichrist. Simply put, a little girls Auntie forgets to pay her loans in time, the devil kills her and attempts to take her soul to hell, but when she realises she left her handbag behind, she escapes the clutches of Satan himself in order to go back and retrieve it. What follows is a colourful, vaguely-horror inspired romp where the devil attempts to recapture the now zombified Auntie, and the little girl attempts to stop him...and if she's going to do that, she'll need a fuckton of cake. Whilst the humour is a bit wonky, this is an otherwise really entertaining short, pulled to another level once again by the polish and artistry of the production. As I said, it's truly unique in its visual style, particularly unique coming from Aardman, who've settled into a lovely, but increasingly familiar style of animation, much as most studios do once they've found their mainstream feet. Obviously it wins points from me for its horror based moments, and just in general, the batshit premise and quirky execution of that is really great stuff. If you want to see something completely different from Aardman...there are a few possible avenues, but this is maybe the most enjoyable one.



    5. Adam (1991).

    Our final short film to be featured, this time not for Channel 4 but instead being a solo-production of Aardman's, that went on to be nominated for the Animated Short Oscar (Winning at the BAFTAs for the equivalent category). Adam, released in 1991, is a really fun short that takes full advantage of the medium it was created in, to tell a story of creation, the clay that God sculpted man from being well...clay...and the hand of God being what can only be assumed as the...'animator', as it were. What follows is more in keeping with the goofy, slapstick and cheeky exploits you'd expect from Aardman, the titular Adam famously having his little plasticine penis on display for the entire film, which is both not what you'd expect to see from Aardman...and also oddly so keeping in trend with the naughty sense of humour you absolutely do expect. Once Adam is quite literally sculpted into being, it doesn't take long for things to start going wrong, first he's feral...then he's disobedient...then bored...lonely...and before he can even start to turn to the darker side of thinking, his benevolent creator makes him a friend, one he assumes to be an Eve...but then turns out to be a penguin. Oh. Nonetheless they embrace in a rather heartwarming conclusion which I hope doesn't suggest another dose of bestiality for this list, I'm not doing this deliberately I sweaaar. In general this is just a really fun short, the use of clay as both a literal representation of God creating life, but also as the very setting the film takes place on makes for some expressive and fluid slapstick sequences. The world Adam resides on being a tiny orb which, Super Mario Galaxy style (over a decade earlier) can be roamed around freely in a 360 degree fashion. The limited, barren setting provides a surprising amount of creative situations for the short, with everything from chunks orbiting around at high speeds to the globe spinning rapidly on its axis making for fun slapstick moments. The HAND OF GOD intervening frequently to make sure things don't go too far south, like an owner dealing with a troublesome new pet, again leading to a fun and unique dynamic between man and his creator. It's a more traditionally Aardman film, but that's hardly a bad thing, and it's always fun to see animation make use of its unique medium, Adam takes full advantage of its plasticine genre from start to finish, and as a result it's one of Aardman's best short films.



    4. Rex the Runt (1998-2001).

    We're venturing into Aardman's more substantial offerings now, with their first attempt at a proper TV show. We may have Shaun the Sheep now, but back in the late 90s, Aardman's only real venture into television programming was with Morph, either appearing as a co-star in arts programmes, or in brief, narrative-light shorts. In comes Rex the Runt, another production that treads into more adult waters than most would expect, but with brilliant results. The original premise of Rex the Runt was the titular, wobbly squibbly dog (That catchy theme tune, though) and his 3 friends, the eyepatch wearing, gun-toting Bad Bob, the scrappy Wendy and the...uh...Vince managing to literally break television. Yep. The 'Telly Man' gets in touch at that point and demands they fill in for the actual TV whilst it's being repaired, and thus begins the first of many unhinged, surreal and unpredictable adventures for the foursome. The 'fill in for the TV' premise takes a backseat after the pilot episodes, which were ultimately aired out of sequence anyway, but the fourth wall breaking awareness of being on TV remains throughout, often being the igniting factor of the stories, with premises including needing to regain their comic timing, and the chaos that ensues when Rex leaves production of one episode to Bob while he goes on paid leave. In the world of Rex the Runt, everything costs '10 quid', cordless drills can cause the earth to burst like a balloon, and much like Adam, plasticine is more than just the medium in which the show is made, it's part of the story. A score of British guest stars and talents lend their voices for some truly bizarre roles, there's a baffling mixture of the live action, real world thrown in frequently, the back catalogue of Aardman, and the studio itself turn up frequently (At one point a Zebra is told he can't be in the episode as, according to Aardman's very own book of 3D animation, they're the hardest to do in stop motion)...it's just...all...completely nonsensical and insane. And it's glorious as a result. The star of the show though, is Vince. It's really hard to explain why without you having seen him in action but...he suffers from Random Pavarotti Disease...and that's the least of his problems, frankly. Rex the Runt is an acquired taste, and one that sadly didn't pick up enough of an audience to continue beyond its short 2 season run, the last they were seen was in 2001...unless you count a tantalising picture cameo for Vince in Shaun the Sheep Movie, and...an Aardman produced health insurance advert campaign that features a dog uncannily similar in design to Rex...which...must have been intentional, right? Honestly, much as I want another instalment of Wallace & Gromit, I'd sacrifice it for another series of Rex the Runt because it deserved more love than it got. Pleaaaaasse, Aardman? Pleaase? 



    3. The Pirates: In an Adventure with Scientists (2012).

    The first feature length Aardman production on the list, and possibly the most underrated of their films?  The Pirates: In an Adventure with Scientists...or...Band of Misfits if you live in America, which has never seemed to quite grasp the Aardman sensibilities when it comes to marketing and dialogue, is the rare Aardman production that's not an original IP, based instead on a comedy book franchise by Gideon Defoe, who also wrote the screenplay for this film. It follows the simply titled Pirate Captain, his pet, Polly the Dodo (Who he believes is a parrot) and his similarly oddly named crew of briny rogues (The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate, The Pirate with Gout, etc) as they attempt to score enough booty to win the coveted Pirate of the Year award for their captain. Along the way, they meet Charles Darwin, who has a crush on Queen Victoria, who just happens to truly hate pirates, along with Charles' loyal butler monkey, a host of rival pirates, and...the Elephant Man? Yeah, so don't go into this film expecting historical accuracy, not that you would. Do go in expecting a great time, as this film is fucking hilarious, and also beautifully animated/directed (Peter Lord, co-founder of the studio, taking the directing reigns), with some great and inventive action sequences to boot. Throw in a great licensed soundtrack and the usual Aardman background details that make re-viewings a must, and you have what should be a classic animated comedy caper. And yet...it feels ..somewhat overlooked? It famously lost, alongside LAIKAs much more revered (and deservedly so) Paranorman and Disney's similarly underrated Frankenweenie, to the vastly more forgettable Brave back at the 2013 Academy Awards....and since then, hasn't really been talked about at all? It got strong reviews, did ...okay at the box office and yet just seems to have slipped into obscurity quite fast. That's a real shame, because it's one of Aardman's best feature films, definitely up there with their funniest works, it's got a great balance of humour, a nice mixture of all-audiences slapstick action, and slightly naughty, quick-witted, fast-flinging comedic dialogue that will appeal to older audiences perhaps more than the young. If you're a fan of Aardman, this has all the things you want and expect from them...and beards, big, luxuriant beards. If you haven't already, check this out, it's a real treat.




    2. Creature Comforts/Creature Comforts USA (1989, 2003-2006, 2007).

    Back to the Aardman classics (Ahuh...get it...because that's the name of the DVD you...probably haven't heard of...never mind), Creature Comforts is one of the studios most well known works outside of the W&G stable, and has become something of a long-running franchise for them, at least in the UK. Initially starting as another short film for Channel 4 back in 1989, which also happened to be the directorial debut of Nick Park, who's now known almost entirely for creating Wallace & Gromit, the first short of which (A Grand Day Out) competed against Creature Comforts, and lost, at the 1990 Academy Awards...losing to yourself, that's just...sad, right? It then went on to become an award winning, iconic advert campaign for electric cooking/heating across 1990-1991, before getting its own TV show in 2003, that ran for 2 seasons across 4 years, a year later getting a US spin-off for CBS that completely tanked, and thus ended the Creature Comforts saga...sort of...they did go on to use the brand for disability/countryside code PSA campaigns, and most recently revived the format in a series of shorts to celebrate the 90th Birthday of much loved nature programme presenter, Sir David Attenborough. It's had a long and much loved run in many shapes and forms, but one thing has always remained the same, and that's the core premise. The voices of the public, unaware of what they're being recorded for at the time, brought to life as stop-motion animals of all sizes and types, to have an entertaining conversation about...well...anything. The original short took the Great British public talking about living in retirement homes and on low-income housing estates and reinterpreted as animals talking about living in the zoo. The advert campaign took people talking about their new electrical appliances and....*ahem* applied that to an animal perspective. The TV show took a huge range of popular topics, including love, life, food, health, sport and the debate over extra-terrestrial life and took the personalities of the people they asked about all of those things and interpreted them as an animal they felt fit the best. It's a simple premise, but it's also genius, and the expression, creativity and detail...that old Aardman magic in other words, merges with that premise perfectly, creating truly unique entertainment from start to finish, particularly in the TV show, which is frankly, way too brilliant to be ignored. The US spin-off was a slightly more risqué take on the same format, using the voices of the American public talking about various topics instead...and it was, possibly? Even better than the UK version, although tragically cut short at merely 7 episodes due to apocalyptic poor ratings in the States (Only 3 of the 7 episodes aired in its original run, later being picked up by Animal Planet), and sadly that seems to be the end of Creature Comforts as a show. Maybe it's due a comeback sometime soon, that'd be nice, although one could suppose the days of people freely being microphoned and asked about random topics without being aware of Creature Comforts, and thus potentially compromising the natural feeling, have passed. Either way, I love what we got. 



    1. Chicken Run (2000).

    Man...it's hard to believe this film is nearly 18 years old. God...I'm so old...so close to death...what's the point in living any mo-HEYYY....Chicken Run. My favourite Aardman Animation (thatisn'twallace&gromitrelated), and I mean...I feel this is probably a popular choice for most people, right? The critically acclaimed, highest grossing stop-motion movie of all time that perhaps is the only thing possibly more well known and loved than Wallace & Gromit on an international level for Aardman...I mean...it's just amazing, right? It's almost mundane in its victory, predictable, even. This film is the reason the Academy Awards have a Best Animated Feature category, it was so well loved by critics, despite not ultimately getting a chance at Best Picture, that it was decided the feature animation game had gotten so good, that it needed its own category to showcase the excellence. It's hard to believe it was funded by Dreamworks Animation, when you look at what they make now. But there you go. This is probably the only entry on this list that doesn't need an explanation, but I'll do it anyway. Chicken Run is the Great Escape, with hens. Ginger and a group of plucky chickens find their frequent failed attempts to escape the grizzly confines of Tweedy's Farm, run by the truly evil Mrs Tweedy, and her bumbling husband...Mr Tweedy, made all the more important when the focus of the farm shifts from egg laying to...pie production, and no, not apple pies. Chicken pies. It's full of the expected Aardman humour, slapstick and attention to detail, but also manages to be a surprisingly dark, at times emotional film too. There are real stakes on Tweedy's Farm, made clear in the opening of the film where a chicken, who's no longer able to lay eggs, meets a swift end, with the blade of an axe, against a gloomy wooden stump, in a grimy shed. Later being seen again as a cooked and partially eaten chicken roast on the Tweedy table. Hopes of escape are raised when Rocky the Rooster...voiced by Mel Gibson, which really tells you this film is 18 years old, seemingly flies in to the rescue, but it's not going to be plain sailing from there. What follows is an entertaining, funny, action-packed and at times surprisingly poignant race against time to escape their prison before they're all killed, basically. All the characters are immensely likeable and memorable in their own ways, the set-piece moments, particularly the Pie Machine sequence are exceptional, there's a score of quotable lines and enjoyable comedic moments, with it all being grounded in an, at times tragic sense of real jeopardy, meaning you really root for the characters throughout. It's a classic, I don't need to have told you that, but there you go. Aardman have made so many great productions, but this is truly their finest hour, at least when it comes to things that don't involve Wallace & Gromit.






    Well, there you have it! My Top 10 Aardman Animations...I hope you actually read it, and enjoyed it, because I know this is a niche subject matter, but hopefully one that's been fun to find out more about, and even more so, I hope that you checked out the shorts/shows available in this blog, and made some new favourites of your own. Let me know if you did, and what you think about the rankings in general...feel free to point out any missions, it's likely I've seen it, so I can probably give you a reason why it didn't make the list. Do you think Early Man will earn a place in my Top 10? Do you intend to see it? Let me know! 

    I hope you enjoyed, I'll see you in mid-February with my 'Wallace & Gromit: Ranked' blog to celebrate the US release of Early Man...so until then...LATER GATOORRSS.

  • The 2017 Gimpy Awards Part 2: Movies.

    3 months ago

    g1TheStickman

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    Part 2: Movies.

    EEYYY, WELCOME BACCCK TO THE 2017 GIMPY AWARDS. On Monday we did all the best and worst that TV had to offer in the year passed, and today? Today we're talking MOVIES. What's that, I hear you say? Didn't you already do a Movie awards as part of At the Screwvies that gave away most of these awards, including Best Movie? HEYYY...shut up. 

    So, as with the previous, can only cover what films I saw, so if you're expecting Coco, Shape of Water, Justice League...that sorta thing to turn up, they won't be here, as I either didn't choose to see them (Justice League) or the film in question hasn't released in the UK yet (The other two). And yeah...this is my opinion, so take it as such, and have fuuuun!

    HEEERE WE GOOOOO.



    Best Opening.

    The LEGO Batman Movie.

    This year offered a ton of great openings, some not even mentioned below (Blade Runner 2049's opening was tense as fuck, for instance), the ones that are? Baby Driver's dizzyingly fun and beautifully edited opening heist sequence set the tone for what was to come, whereas GotG2 managed to top that well loved musical opening to the first with a bit of Baby Groot and ELO, can't go wrong. That's all well and good...but they were lacking in one crucial detail. BATMAN. In a year severely lacking in exceptional mainstream animation, things opened pretty nicely back in February with this hugely entertaining and visually stunning sequel/spin-off to 2014's surprise success story, The LEGO Movie. It's fair to say Batman was the surprise favourite inclusion to that surprise hit, and his spin-off proved to be quite the treat itself, even if things got a bit...by the numbers after the first 30 minutes. The opening however, was easily the best of the year, and one of the consistently funniest sequences this side of an Airplane! movie. The opening titles and set-up are all great, but I'm specifically focusing on what you could consider the opening credits...and that musical number. LEGO Batman's love of self-expressive mixtapes was a quick joke in the original film, but gets the spotlight in this, with a hilariously dumb and catchy summary of everything the Dark Knight...specifically his exaggerated plastic version stands for. It's a shame that things later on into the narrative never quite stack (AHah...LEGO jokes) up to how things start out in this movie, but when your opening's this good, that's a hard ask, let's face it.



    2nd Place: Baby Driver.

    3rd Place: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.




    Best Dumb Film.

    Resident Evil Vendetta.

    This is one of my favourite awards I do, simply because it's a chance to talk about films I really enjoyed, even if they'd never rank high once the end of the year rolls by, and it's time to single out the critical darlings to praise. Dumb movies have just as much a right to exist and be enjoyed as anything else, and you don't get much more gloriously stupid than Resident Evil, eh? Skull Island paired dazzling visuals with goofy, nonsensical antics, and Death Note was...hoo boy...Death Note was a gloriously fun mess. But Resident Evil Vendetta takes the cake, providing insanely over the top, brain-numbing gun-ho action spectacles the likes of which we haven't seen since Team America, except without the same self-awareness. Previous CGI Resident Evils, Degeneration and Damnation were...mixed. Degeneration was pretty shit, and Damnation was an improvement but not quite enough to be considered good. Vendetta was definitely the surprise of the year for me, because I really...really enjoyed it. Don't get me wrong, it's terrible, but it's Resident Evil terrible, and that's glorious. If you've ever wanted Chris Redfield and Leon S Kennedy to team up and take out a corridor of zombies John Wick style, or see a dog crash into a car, which causes another car to crash, which causes a humongous explosion? This is the film for you. It's an enjoyable mix of gory horror, over the top, high-octane chase sequences, one on one fights which play like John Wick met The Raid and fell into a vat of Looney Tunes...and also there's a laser gun that blows up like, 5 buildings. It's insane, and insanely dumb, but I had so much fun with Resident Evil Vendetta. Even if Chris looks like a fucking muppet, and sounds WROOOOOONG!!



    2nd Place: Kong Skull Island.

    3rd Place: Death Note (For broadly the wrong reasons).




    Best Animated Film.

    The Red Turtle.

    As I said at the start of this list, it's not been a great year for mainstream animation. Coco may have captured the hearts and minds of most of the world, but it ain't out here yet, SON. As for the rest, it's either Dreamworks or Sony or...Cars 3. Yeah. LEGO Batman put up a valiant job and has been awarded justly for that (Unlike say...LEGO Ninjago...hmmmm?), but for the best animated films of the year, you need to look to the smaller pictures, and a more global perspective. And yes, a lot of those haven't come out here either, but those that have...probably came out elsewhere before 2017 but FUCK IT...it's MY AWARDS, WE DO IT MY WAY. My Life as a Courgette was a surprisingly dark and unique stop motion film about children dealing with rejection, abuse and loss, and World of Tomorrow Episode 2 was another winning blend of comedy and existentialism from the severely under-appreciated Don Hertzfeld, but for my animated film of the year, I'm going to have to go with The Red Turtle. Technically the newest film from Studio Ghibli, and certainly in keeping with their level of detail, heart and charm, this is actually a European production they funded and distributed in parts of the world. This Dutch castaway tale hasn't a single word of dialogue, or a single word displayed on screen. It's a truly universal film that has no barriers of language or cultural sensibilities, and more than that, it's supremely engrossing and beautiful to boot. The film shows us the life of a young man who gets lost at sea, and winds up stranded on a tropical island, where all he has for company is the nature around him, and the titular Red Turtle getting in the way of his numerous attempts at escaping. What happens next is for you to find out, but it's a bittersweet tale of love, loss, hope and hardship. It's often quite funny, and sometimes rather warming, but it's not afraid to linger on the tragedy, doing so without dwelling in the corporately mandated sentimentality that's engulfed most, if not all mainstream animation as of late. It's a visually stunning and unique film that delivers a satisfying and engaging story...and does so without a single word of dialogue. What more could you ask for? Take that, Boss Baby....you fucking...abomination of highly detailed baby arse powder farts. Shudder.



    2nd Place: World of Tomorrow Episode 2.

    3rd Place: My Life as a Corguette.






    Best Film Nobody Saw.

    Raw (WARNING: DISTURBING CONTENT IN VIDEO).

    Oops, we're in French now! There were a lot of underrated cinematic gems this year, some more big-budget than others. I've gone for a host of smaller films this year, The Villainess is a flawed, messily paced Korean martial arts movie that makes up for its shortcomings with beautiful visuals, and blisteringly frantic fight scenes. Whilst Prevenge flew massively under the radar, being a insanely quirky comedy horror about a pregnant woman driven to murder by the baby in her belly's voice (Which was written, directed and starred by Alice Lowe, who was actually heavily pregnant at the time of filming, pretty crazy). But for my award winner, I've gone for this French-Belgian cannibal...drama...horror...coming of age tale...set in a veterinary school. I know, sounds stupid, right? Throw in the fact that this film's première got attention for causing members of the audience to faint due to the explicit violent content presented on screen, resulting in ambulances being called to the Tornoto Film Festival...and I won't blame you for wanting to steer clear of this film. I went in assuming it'd be nothing more than a shock horror nasty film, my viewing partially due to the classic case of curiosity killing (or in this case, eating) the cat. What I got instead was a surprisingly fun and visceral offbeat horror that ended up being one of my favourite films of the year. Yes, it's got unsettling imagery, unsettling themes and a lot of hands in horse arses, but it's also a really fun and engrossing story of a young girl's sexual awakening, and descent into depravity upon leaving the safe clutches of her parents and entering the college/university system...and I mean, anyone who's been to University will know there's plenty of depravity to be found...just maybe not as much flesh eating? Hm. Headline grabbing 18 rated content aside, this is a genuinely great film, bursting with colour and character, and definitely one to watch if you can stomach the viscera, and...worse still, the SUBTITLES. AAAAaaaaaAAAAAAGGH!!



    2nd Place: Prevenge.

    3rd Place: The Villainess.






    Best Soundtrack.

    Blade Runner 2049.

    It's been a solid year for cinema soundtracks, I have to say. The previously mentioned RAW, in addition to John Wick 2 and Baby Driver delivered some stellar scores, with my 2nd place Dunkirk earning extra points for its intentionally escalating, anxiety-inducing shepard tones (In addition to being really great anyway), and LEGO Batman being a surprisingly stirring inclusion that blended years worth of varying Batman movie musical motifs into one, seamless composition, that was a far better score than an animated comedy LEGO film has any right to have. That said, I've got to go with Blade Runner 2049, that similar to LEGO Batman took a huge dollop of inspiration from an existing score...that obviously being the iconic, sparkling synth of the original 1982 Blade Runner film, which was scored by electronic musical legend, Vangelis. My boyfriend Hans Zimmer (Who I think has literally won this award every year I've done it) co-worked on 2049's score with Benjamin Wallfisch which takes a lot of inspiration from the original's delightful music, at times paying full lip-service to it, but also blending it with a deep, bassy, Silent Hill'esque industrial sound that quite literally shook the seats of the cinema during my screening, numerous times. It's a fantastic mix of serene, twinkling synth beauty and wailing, droning, screaming sounds of metal pain and mechanical violence that truly help set the tone for the scenes they compliment, when paired with the staggering visuals and stellar acting, it makes for a truly special experience. Some people say that the best movie soundtracks are the ones you don't notice, because they blend perfectly into the film. I think that's a load of shit, I want the music to blow my mind, I want it to overwhelm me with its power, or with its sheer volume (When it fits the film, that is), and it's fair to say 2049's score does both of those things, and does so frequently, and very successfully. It may not blend into the background like some would wish, but it simply wouldn't be the same film without this incredible score.



    2nd Place: Dunkirk.

    3rd Place: The LEGO Batman.





    Best Movie Moment (SPOILERS).

    Vegas Club Fight - Blade Runner 2049.

    Moving on from Blade Runner to...well...more Blade Runner. Ironically though, for a scene that features basically none of the previously mentioned and much loved score. No, for this truly incredible scene, it's up to the ambience of the ruined, broken world of the film to score the ensuing action, that's less about incredible fight choreography and high-concept takedowns as it is, like most of the film, creating a visually bold and beautiful sequence that also manages to tell a story about both lead character K, and the aged and isolated Dekkard, of whom this is their introductory scene. Kudos go to the already award winning opening of LEGO Batman, and another stand-out scene from 2049 that managed to make two women no-clipping into each other to try and turn on Ryan Gosling a thing of staggering, unique visual beauty, but it's gotta be this fight. It's just gotta be. Starting in a desert consumed hotel lobby so orange tinted you'd be easily fooled into thinking you were looking at Donald Trumps ugly fucking cunt of a face... *Ahem* Before it then shifts into an abandoned, malfunctioning Vegas club hall. The lights flicker and shift around, holograms of dancers and famous singers flicker on and off all around the room, the occasional blaring of musical sequences piercing what's otherwise total silence as our two Bladey Boys have a violent showdown...of sorts. The whole scene is beautifully staged and visually striking, Denis Villenvvin..vineue....and Roger Deakins both working at the height of their already excessive cinematic powers to give the audience the Deckard/K throwdown they've been waiting for, and delivering bigtime. The scenes that precede, and follow this moment are also exceptional...but that says a lot about just how amazing Blade Runner 2049 was. This moment though? Easily the best scene of the year. There was so many amazing movie moments in 2017, a lot of which haven't even been mentioned, but this  still manages to take the award, no question.



    2nd Place: Holographic Love - Blade Runner 2049.

    3rd Place: Opening Song - The LEGO Batman Movie.






    Worst Movie Moment (SPOILERS).

    Ruining Everything - Atomic Blonde.

    2017 may have been full of great moments, but it had its share of stinkers too, sadly. Resident Evil's fakeout attempt at an emotional ending, and bullshit reasoning for it not actually happening pissed me off, and Fassbender drunkenly (despite being sober) singing a tune as he was dragged through the halls of Abstergo and strapped to a giant robot arm in Assassin's Creed may have been the ultimate sign of just how crappy that film ended up being...but there's nothing worse than a bad moment in a good film, especially when it's the ending, and especially when it undoes all that was good prior to this point. Atomic Blonde was a ton of fun, a great lead performance, fantastic action sequences, insanely stylish, bursting with neon-drenched atmosphere and a fantastic licensed soundtrack, but that ending...hooooooo boy, what a shame. The set-up for Atomic Blonde is Theron's Mi6 agent, Lorraine Broughton being sent to Berlin in the tumultuous days leading up the fall of the Berlin Wall, in order to retrieve a stolen microfilm listing undercover British, American and Russian agents. She's told to trust no one, but to try and get others to trust her, so she can acquire the film and protect the lives of her fellow service men and women. She lands, has a few fight scenes, makes out with a swell gal, shit hits the fan. It's a great time, and shaping up to be one of the strongest action films of the year. And then it turns out our lead was working for the Russians all along, and was a double agent. Except she wasn't...she was a triple agent, she's actually American...and the whole British Mi6 thing was her being undercover for the KGB who she was undercover in for the CIA? UHhH...I think? She drops her British accent and flies off to the US, job done. The end. Oh poo, what a shame. Up until the last 15 or so minutes, the film is really great stuff, it's a cold war espionage thriller so yeah, there's gonna be twists and turns, but this double-bluff of a reveal that undoes the character we've spent the whole film with, and everything she's done for literally no reason, because it adds nothing but confusion? It ruins the film, and I'm not the kinda guy who tends to say that about bad endings to good films generally. Atomic Blonde is still a stylish and fun action flick, one worth watching...but I honestly think you should stop before the end because it really...really spoiled the whole thing for me. A bad scene in a bad movie is one thing...but a movie-ruining scene in a great movie? That's a cardinal sin.




    2nd Place: Fakeout Ending - Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.

    3rd Place: Crazy Singing Fassbender - Assassin's Creed.






    Most Anticipated Movie of 2018.

    Annihilation.

    Stolen from me in the At the Screwvies awards, it takes its rightful place at number one here at the Gimpys because this is MY AWARDS and MADHERO CAN'T DO SHIT TO STOP ME, MWAAHAHAHAHH. But yeah, I'm still really keen to see what The Predator is going to be like, being a big fan of that franchise. I'm also super stoked to see Enter the Spider-Verse, a film I wasn't particularly interested in until that visually jaw-dropping teaser released, and the multiversal premise was seemingly revealed. Those both sound great, and hopefully will be...but Annihilation is a far safer bet, and one that's oh so very close to release as we speak. From director/writer Alex Garland, best known now for the exceptionally good Ex Machina, his Oscar winning (For VFX at least) directorial debut , but I've been a fan of Garland for a long time prior to that, be it his writing work on 28 Days Later and Sunshine, supervisional work on Enslaved: Odyssey to the West or Dredd...which he technically did writing for, but it's a pretty well known fact that he was more or less spearheading the direction of that film too, credited or not. His follow-up to Ex Machina is based on a critically acclaimed, high concept sci-fi novel, and has an all-star cast, predominately of which are female (As in the book). I haven't read the book, and don't intend to read up on it until after I've seen this film, because the tantalising mysteries as to what's going on, and how the events will shape out are part of what's so appealing about this film, in much the same way I went into Ex Machina almost 100% blind and had a terrific time in the process. It's not yet known what form the UK release for this film will take...there's suggestions Netflix might snatch it up for a quick release after it's been in US cinemas, which would be a shame as I'd love to see this on the big screen myself. But regardless I've got high hopes for this film, and I'm very much praying it lives up to my hype.

     



    2nd Place: The Predator.

    3rd Place: Spider-Man: Enter the Spider-Verse.






    Worst Movie.

    Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.

    Talk about bowing out the same way you came in....which is stumbling over and catching fire. Assassin's Creed and Ghost in the Shell both proved to be huge letdowns, that had a lot of potential to be among the best cinema of 2017 and ended up being some of the worst, Creed a nonsensical mess and GitS just being...boring and bland. But the award for absolute worst film I saw this year has to go to Resident Evil: The Final Chapter because...fuck me, it's rare you watch a film and feel like so little fucks were given about...well, anything from the people who made it. Like it or hate it, and I'd be very surprised if it were the former, the Resident Evil live action films have been going for over 15 years, released 6 instalments and made an increasingly larger sum of money with each successive entry. They have a fanbase, they, like most crappy films of this nature, have a weirdly complicated and heavily connected plot across each film, and going into what's titled THE FINAL CHAPTER you'd expect a certain degree of resolution to the many dangling unanswered threads left along the way, particularly from RE3 onwards. SPOILERS...you get none. Not even the cliffhanger from the previous film is resolved. Characters are never seen or mentioned again, including beloved characters from the game...they're just assume dead off-screen without so much as a nod or a wink about it. The film is awfully filmed, shaky...dimly lit without any attempt to make it enjoyable to watch. The action scenes are noisy and unentertaining, the film is loaded with entirely unnecessary jump-scares despite not being a FUCKING HORROR FILM. The plot literally makes no sense, and as mentioned earlier, they attempt to inject a degree of emotional oomph into certain scenes, which simply don't work, including what would've been a semi-decent end to the story, only to then be faked out with total bullshit reasoning. For RE movies 1-4, I'll admit to finding them guilty pleasures...RE5 despite being one of the most nonsensical films in cinema history, managed to have a certain sense of style thanks to a great soundtrack and some fun action...Final Chapter? No. Just no. Thank fucking CHRIST it's over. It's staggering to believe this came out literally 3 days after the RE7 game that turned the games franchise around for many. It's staggering this exists in the form it does. It's truly awful.



    2nd Place: Assassin's Creed.

    3rd Place: Ghost in the Shell.




    Best Movie.

    Blade Runner 2049.

    Just looking at this film after the PTSD induced headache I received from talking about Resident Evil is like a gush of cool, crisp water down my parched, drying throat. I've had a really hard time picking the number 1 spot this year, partly due to not having had the chance to rewatch some of these films for a re-evaluation before picking a winner. I may come to regret choosing Blade Runner 2049 as my favourite film of the year, as I have no idea how it's going to stand up on further viewing. Baby Driver I've rewatched and loved, but it still didn't hold up to my first viewing of 2049. Dunkirk is in a similar position to Blade Runner as I've yet to see it again, but again...despite being amazing...it wasn't Blade Runner 2049. And that's ultimately why I've taken a potential, retroactive risk, and given the award to this film. Maybe it won't be as good on later viewings, but in terms of experiences...memorable moments, engagement and just...cinematic majesty, there was nothing out in 2017 on the same level as Blade Runner 2049, it's an incredible work of film, be it science fiction, or any genre for that matter. Full disclosure, this isn't the opinion of some diehard Blade Runner fan who got a boner before even walking into the cinema, I appreciate the original for a lot of stylistic merits, but I don't rate it super highly as a whole product. 2049 takes the beauty and style of the original, makes it better, and adds a more compelling story, better action scenes, a more diverse musical score, some great side-characters, moments of humour and a bunch of at times oddly moving sequences. Much as how Fury Road was everything I'd always wanted Mad Max to be (I hate the older Mad Max films), 2049 was everything I've always wanted a cyberpunk movie to be, and everything I'd wished the original Blade Runner was. 2049 does everything a sequel should, which is take what was great about the original, remove what was poor, and add a heap of new stuff. It's both a fitting, well connected sequel to the original film, and it's own unique cinematic odyssey, it works in both respects, and does so brilliantly. Maybe I'll rewatch it on DVD instead of the overwhelmingly sensational IMAX experience, and find it less enthralling now I know the twists and turns. Maybe I won't like it as much second time around. Maybe Baby Driver and Dunkirk hold up better. But Blade Runner 2049, as a first-view experience did something that no other film in 2017 managed to do, it filled me with wonder and awe, which is a rare thing to feel when you've seen so much and experienced what feels like everything cinema has to offer. Did I also mention this film is fucking beautiful? If films were handsome suitors, I'd be bending over and pulling my pants down for Blade Runner 2049. Oops, too far, huh? Oh well. This film rocks, BEST FILM. Of 2017 anyhow.



    2nd Place: Baby Driver.

    3rd Place: Dunkirk.




    Welp, there you have it! Or...have it again, depending on if you read the At the Screwvies awards! My best and worst for 2017 at the cinema. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Have favourite/least favourite films that weren't in the awards? Why not join in the discussion and post it about it nicely below, and we can have a jolly chinwag about it. Like what you read? Why not check out Part 1 on my profile page, and share both that, and this around if you feel it's worthy of sharing.

    Come back on Friday for the 3rd and final part, covering all things gaming, and also the final two main awards of the year. SEE YOU THEN. LATER GATOORRS.

  • The 2017 Gimpy Awards Part 1: TV.

    3 months ago

    g1TheStickman

    tumblr_p002wyCK6o1vuwsa7o4_r1_1280.gif

    PART 1: TV.


    WOooOOAAAAHHH, HEEEYY, WELCOME BACK AGAIN BOYS AND GIRLS AND SUCH TO THE GIMPY AWARDS. For the seventh year running (Eighth if you count a previous incarnation) it's time to hand out the prestigious(?) golden gimp to the best and worst of the TV, Movies and Games from across the year, in addition to the all important Overall THING OF THE YEAR...and of course, the Cunt of the Year.

    First up, on Day 1 we're talking all things television. It's been a really exceptional year for TV, especially for new shows, whilst some long-running series' have faltered or stagnated slightly, the newbies have picked up the slack, delivering fresh, bold and glossy experiences of all kinds for us to love, laugh and cry to. 

    Couple quick groundrules, I haven't watched EVERY show ever made, so if your favourite/least favourite isn't here, that's possibly moreso because I wasn't able or didn't get around to watching it. I also need to have watched the entire show, or at least the entire half of it broadcast in the year for it to be eligible, so as big of a trashfire as Marvel's INHUMANS was, it's not in the running because I didn't watch it beyond the first episode. Finally, this is all in good fun, and it's just my opinion, so if you disagree, feel free to say so in the comments, along with any other thoughts you have, but keep it civil, keep it friendly...we're all here to have fun, right? RIGHT. OKAAAYY, HERE WE GOOOOOO....




    TV Show I'll Miss the Most.

    Bates Motel.

    A somewhat mixed bag of a winner, this year's been strange on the basis that the 2nd and 3rd place shows would have easily won, had they been 100% confirmed to be over. As it stands, both seem likely casualties of circumstances unrelated to the respective shows. Hinterland is reportedly going to be a victim of Brexit's impact on European co-productions such as it, whilst The Exorcist is likely to be on the firing line as a result of Disney's very recent buyout of 20th Century FOX (Although to be fair, its ratings have been iffy and it barely got a second season to begin with, so that's pretty much dead, even if it's not official). Bates Motel, however? This show had a full run and ended at its natural point instead of being cancelled. I have a complicated relationship with this Psycho prequel/spin-off/remake series, which loosely takes the events/characters/world of the film and both relocates them to the present day, and also serves as a prequel and an abridged retelling of more well-known events from that story. It's a flawed show, campy and enjoyable in its own way, with some standout moments and terrific acting, but also somewhat missing the tone and spirit of the original film, and also trampling on way the story was originally told, and the directions it ends up taking. The final season frustrated me in a lot of ways due to its drastic alteration and handling of the character of Norman Bates, turning him from a somewhat sympathetic victim turned deranged by insanity, to a colder and more in-control sociopath who's motivations and origins differ quite dramatically from the source material. That said, it's been a fun ride these past 5 years and I will miss this flawed, but entertaining take on the world of Psycho, even if I didn't fully enjoy the show across its run, particularly the closing episodes. On a related note I've very much like to retroactively remove the 2nd and 3rd placers from this award, so ...hey...why not renew them, entertainment industry? Yes please.



    2nd Place: Hinterland(?)

    3rd Place: The Exorcist(?)





    Best TV Moment (SPOILERS).

    Jimmy and Chuck in Court - Better Call Saul.

    A few years ago, the thought of a prequel spin-off to Breaking Bad, focusing on what was often the comic relief side-character would've filled us with dread. It'd be an unnecessary cash-grab focusing on a character not worth taking the spotlight. 3 seasons on, and Better Call Saul has gone from strength to strength, providing a different tone to its parent-show, and yet offering the same quality of production and complexity/intrigue of narrative. It's a fantastic show all around, and what's been very much the ongoing, cat and mouse, emotional core of the narrative has been the ....complicated relationship between Jimmy McGill and his brother Chuck. The more successful of the two who's had to work hard and by the book to reach and achieve his life goals resents his younger brother, who cuts corners and breaks the law and always seems to get away with it. Over the course of the 3 seasons, their relationship has become less your traditional sibling rivalry and more a twisting, turning chase to put the other out of action for good. This all finally came to a head in the above, powerhouse of a scene in which Chuck testifies in court to try and put Jimmy out of the lawyer practice once and for all, and ends up getting his comeuppance due to Jimmy's underhanded tactics putting both his general sanity, and apparent medical condition of being allergic to electricity into question. This season would prove to be the unravelling of Chuck's career and...seemingly his life, despite him technically being very much in the right, and this whole scene, from start to finish, ended up being one of the most engrossing, tense sequences on TV for quite some time, let alone just this year. The final scene in Handmaid's Tale provided a satisfyingly defiant note to end a season of lost hope and uncertainty, and LEGION's surreal black and white horror sequence was a standout visual/acting performance showcase, but you Better Call Saul's big showdown was a cathartic bursting point to a long-standing eruption of conflict that had been waiting to happen since Season 1.




    2nd Place: Final Scene - The Handmaid's Tale.

    3rd Place: Black & White Horror Homage - LEGION.





    Worst TV Moment (SPOILERS).

    Shitting on History - American Horror Story: Cult.

    I could've filled the entire blog with bad moments from this trainwreck of a TV season, but American Horror Story: Cult's disrespectful, distasteful and warped exploration of real history/tragedy within its over the top, campy fictional exploits really pushed the boundaries of what should be considered acceptable storytelling. AHS Cult was all about the fallout of Trump winning the US election, which sounds like a promising set-up for some socio-political satire and horror, much like the highly acclaimed movie 'Get Out' did earlier in the year, but what we get instead is a messy and poorly researched exploration of extreme opinions on both ends of an internet war brought to life as a crazy guy trying to take over the world with nonsensical logic. Chiefly, the main antagonist of Kai is a deranged individual inspired by real cults of the past to make his own. Fair enough, you might say, but then the show only goes and explores those past historical events, not really recreating them for historical connections with an eye for accuracy so much as twisting and exploiting real-world tragedies and unstable individuals for its own pulpy, shockploitation means. It does this not only once, but twice in a big way. Firstly, an exploration of the SCUM movement, a group led by a mentally unstable individual who believed all men deserved to be mutilated and killed...not only glorifying and justifying this factually unhinged and criminal cult, but then going so far as to tie it into the Zodiac Killings, saying they were SCUM doing their good work and brutally executing men simply for being male. Throw in some weak, limp-wristed stereotypical gay characters that border on the homophobic in portrayal, and you've pretty much got that scene in a nutshell. This whole, lengthy narrative is then thrown into question as a lie, making the whole, unpleasant and problematic sequence POINTLESS. A few episodes later, it goes on to glorify the killing of a real life, pregnant woman among several other people, recreating the Charles Manson murders as a misty-eyed, Tarantino esque, over the top cinematic sequence which turns stabbing a pregnant belly into a campy gore sequence, the main character then justifying these events as inspiring, and the show using Charles Manson as a narrative tool later on. It makes for downright uncomfortable, unpleasant viewing, and it's pretty fucking disgusting that a show this bad, with story concepts this shoddy and poor decided to drastically warp and exploit real tragedies in the name of shitty, campy satire and shock value based sequences. It's disgusting, and the continued misadventures of BBC's Sherlock, and the halfway point downfall of the new season of Samurai Jack can't even compare to this level of indecency.



    2nd Place: The Airplane Mystery Solved - Sherlock.

    3rd Place: Jack in Love - Samurai Jack.






    Most Anticipated TV Show of 2018.

    Luther Season 5.

    I'll be honest, barring the usual season returns for shows both new to 2017, and long-running...I was somewhat struggling to pinpoint a specific, standout 2018 TV show that I'm bouncing off the walls with excitement to see. There's plenty to look forward to, but nothing that deserved a specific awards mention. And then I remembered Luther. Last seen in 2015 for an entertaining, beautifully filmed but slightly disappointing (And a little unnecessary) 4th season, word came earlier back in 2017 that a 5th run of this much loved British crime drama would be coming, presumably late into 2018 (Christmas?), with filming taking place in January. If the previous season was disappointing...why am I so excited for this one? Well...it's Luther, mainly. One of the standout characters and British TV shows of recent times, exquisitely filmed and entertainingly mixing a charasmatic lead performance (Love ya, Idris) with action, drama, dark themes and a good dollop of horror from time to time. It's a visceral, colourful, practically comic-book style crime drama lead by a lead who's practically a superhero, right down to (rather goofily) having a wardrobe of the exact same shirts, ties and jackets. The previous two-episode season ended on a grim but promising note, suggesting a future conflict between Luther and a new villain based around the seeming death of a former friend/foe. Even at its lesser, at times goofy Season 4, Luther was still electrifyingly entertaining television, and I'm always going to be excited for another romp around London with Idris and his strangely enticing salt and pepper beard. See you next Christmas, John? I hope so.




    2nd Place: N/A.

    3rd Place: N/A.






    Worst TV Show.

    American Horror Story: Cult.

    I'll admit, this was obvious. Outcast Season 2 was genuinely dull, aimless and crap TV, and Iron Fist was a slog to get through, with an intensely unlikeable lead character, but American Horror Story: Cult? This was one of the worst TV seasons of all time, and I watched Under the Dome. I specifically remember saying back when Under the Dome finished with its 3rd and worst season, that it was almost bittersweet in that nothing could ever be as bad as that show, which featured alternate dimensions and alien bug people mind control harems. But then Cult shambles along and well and truly reignites the terrible TV game in a way I never expected again. I should've seen it coming, it was American Horror Story, a show that even at its peak was a massively flawed experience, I'd actually given up on the show after the uneven Freak Show that was the fantastic, stand-out Jessica Lange's bowout for the series, but I got suckered back in because of the surprising, topical nature of Cult's premise. A horror show tackling the fear, division and uncertainty of a post-Trump America? A political satire that mixes real-world fears with over the top horror? That sounded really promising...and what we got was....truly...TRULY awful. With scenes and dialogue that I still can't believe made it onto a show this big, lines and terms ripped quite literally straight off the pages of Tumblr and 4chan without any thought of how it'd actually sound as real words spoken by real people with the conviction of mostly well respected actors who at one point in life had believed in this shows admittedly unique and at times boundary pushing explicit content. Gone was that now, though. Focusing instead on cheap jabs at both extreme ends of a conversation nobody wants to have, bouts of explicit and unpleasant violent content that served no purpose, character motivations and narrative threads that make no sense whatsoever and changed every 5 minutes purely for the purposes of injecting as many implausible, audience betraying twists as possible, and a prompt abandoning of the very premise that served to get people interested in the show to begin with. Coming across as a show that was written as they went along without any aim for where it finished, and featuring an abundance insanely stupid, unintentionally hilarious and downright offensive moments, American Horror Story: Cult can't even end on a satisfying note. It delivers nothing but laughs of disbelief that a show like this even managed to exist, with the scariest thing about it being that some people consider it good. What an absolute load of irredeemable shit. Fuck you, American Horror Story.



    2nd Place: Outcast Season 2.

    3rd Place: Iron Fist.






    Best TV Show.

    The Handmaid's Tale.

    The fact that both my best, and worst TV show of 2017 deal with currently relevant, socio-political themes and extreme portrayals of cultish behaviour and gender-politics says a lot about how much can, and can fail to be done with these depressingly prescient concepts. The Handmaid's Tale is based on a book published in 1985, but feels like something more savagely relevant than ever, in a period of time where the leaders of the USA are seeking to turn back the clock on equality of all kinds, with a campaign based around fear-mongering and lies, spouted by many falsely in the name of and against religious figures, a show like The Handmaid's Tale shows us what happens when the extremes of that ideology take hold, when the hateful masses succeed in taking control with a choke-like grip, and enforce their will with violence, not logic. It not only does this, but manages to do so with style, a surprising amount of diplomacy and a compelling cast of characters on both sides of the situation, resulting in one of the best new TV shows for several years. Originating on Hulu of all places, but screening in the UK on the far more fitting Channel 4, Handmaid's Tale predominately follows the plight of Elizabeth Moss' June Osborne, a woman trapped in the dystopian nightmare that has become her America. In a world where most of the female population has become infertile, those who are capable of carrying children are handed off as slaves to wealthy, influential couples of power who want to have a baby. It makes for grisly and unsettling viewing, but compelling television all the same. As we explore her current situation, the events that led her, and other players in the story to this point in time are slowly revealed, a steady, satisfying drip-feed of world building that explains how the many pieces ended up in the places they now find themselves. Both present day and flashback scenes are engrossing and well made, being a rare TV show with very few weak-points across its first 10 episode run. It has emotional highs and lows...it's both fulfilling and depressing, but always compelling viewing. Peaky Blinders was a massively entertaining and stylish fourth go around with the Shelby family, and LEGION provided a surreal and off-beat exploration of the X-Men franchise in a way I never expected to see, and enjoy so much, but The Handmaid's Tale was top class TV, and very much the best show of 2017. I hope the ongoing story continues to be this exceptional in the years to come.



    2nd Place: Peaky Blinders.

    3rd Place: LEGION.






    And there you have it! Part 1 out of the way! What do you think? What was your favourite, and least favourite TV of 2017? What do you think of my choices? What are you excited to be watching in 2018? Let me know in the comments below, and please do share this around if you feel it's worth sharing! See you on Wednesday for Part 2, where we're tackling all things cinematic from the past year. Until then, LATER GATORS.

  • Car Build

    3 months ago

    AEPheonix

    1/4/18

    Few more things. Had to change the cylinder head out from the d16a6 head, it was super warped and couldn't be machined any further. Found a super cheap d15b7 head, literally the same as the a6 but with a smaller more economical camshaft. swapped my Delta 272 cam into the head and bolted everything up(also found out that honda makes oem mls headgaskets so i didn't have to shell out more money for a cometic one). I did finally get new injectors, PTE 1000cc injectors, they work really well. Some minor idle issues at first(plus the delta 272 cam is a bitch), but they were fixed after a little tuning. The car is now running on e85 and i love how much torque it makes down low. I still need an adjustable fuel pressure regulator because stock 35psi fuel pressure isn't the best when you're looking more more horsepower. What else...oh yeah, idk if I posted this already but I did finally upgrade my clutch, stage 5 competition clutch. Holds the power like a muthafucka. The only thing I'm worried about is the fact that I still have an open diff. Even though it spins both tires when i launch the power distribution is too inconsistent, the torque steer is really bad if i have good traction.. ummm can't really remember anything else off the top of my head. Still needs suspension, stock monster truck suspension lol.

  • Car Build

    3 months ago

    AEPheonix

    10/13/17 new turbo setup

    Garrett 60trim. Heading to the drag strip with some friends in the crx, one friend has a wrx and Speed6. Both of their cars have about 350hp. I'll be honest I had trouble keeping up with the wrx, but i have excuses... I was on low boost(12psi)/I was taking it easy on the car/I didn't want to be a dick driver...lol k. anyway, everything was going well, just turned onto the road where the strip is and then suddenly, I had no boost! The car was still working fine(engine wise) it just didn't spool the turbo anymore. I literally just got this shit running two days prior. Well I got ready, tech'd in and still paid to run even if it wasn't gonna be very fast. Didn't think it was fully broken yet. So I still lined up and ran. 2 step shot some flames but it was sad fire because I had zero positive pressure(shout out to the local tuner tho Positive Pressure Tuning) ran a 12.8 @53mph...in the 1/8 mile. THAT'S FUCKING SLOW. Well that's a honda for you. I Fuckin bet if I wasn't broken I'd be in the 8s. Weird how I broke on Friday the 13th. That was the last race night of the season because winter time. So I sent my turbo in for warranty, didn't give it to me but they discounted a new one for me lmao(SADFACE)

    1/4/18 Fuck it's already been two years and I haven't even noticed... blah.

    I'm still waiting for my turbo that I ordered lmao(kms) but no biggy. It's snowy out rn so I can't drive the crx anyway. But when that happens it's getting turned the fuck up.