2013: Revenge of the Sequels

2013: Revenge of the Sequels

With 2013 only a stones throw away, it looks like we’re in for another good year at the box office.

Unfortunately for what you make up with in terms of movie quantity, you may be disappointed by the lack of originality when it comes to the scripts. We seem to be awash with sequels in 2013. Not only that, but action sequels!

  • Monsters University: Mike and SulleyMonsters University [sequel]. We all know the magic between Mick and Sulley, but were they always that close? In Monsters University we’re going to find out as we head back to their uni days of pranks, jokes and of course studying. Even with Monsters Inc being nearly 12 years old, I’m sure that Pixar will be able to pull another classic film out of the bag. Definitely looking forward to this animated sequel.
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire [sequel]. The first film came out in 2012 and was reasonably okay from the scripts perspective, but nothing ground breaking. What lifted the first film out of the 2012 tide-of-mediocre movies was the cinematography style it used to depict its gruesome look at society. Hopefully in Catching Fire the script will be better written, without compromising the look that the first one achieved. Jennifer Lawrence is staring again as the lead protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, hopefully this film will also include more character development. Catching Fire is currently scheduled for our screens in the last quarter of 2013.
  • The ImpossibleThe Impossible. Based on a true story as one family is caught with thousands others by the 2004 tsunami catastrophe. Ewan McGregor plays the husband and father of three children who are celebrating Christmas as the waves crashed over the islands of Thailand. Separated by the destruction and saved by nothing less than a miracle, the family members try to find each other, as well as bringing hope to those around them. For me, this is likely to be the tear jerker of the year I think. Hitting our screens on the 1st of January… cos this is what you need to see as you recover from your hang overs 😉
  • Iron Man 3 [sequel]. Tony Stark does not have an easy life, beside the billionaire thing. Even after saving the world, and various cities multiple times, his life just gets more and more dangerous. I’m not entirely sure how all these Marvel films are meant to hang together, but surely after Iron Man faces the ‘Mandarin’ we’ll be free of bad guys for once. Plus isn’t a Mandarin a type of orange? No doubt this will be a decent film, whether it’ll be another classic Marvel film depends on how well Robert Downey Jr., Guy Pearce and Gwyneth Paltrow come together on-screen.
  • Django Unchained. A Western film, shot by Tarintino, staring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson. It is surely going to be good! Even though the film deals with racial prejudices, human bounty hunting and forced labour, Django Unchained looks like it could be a good balance of action, story and even comedy. Perhaps the true dark nature of the film isn’t shown in the trailer, but with Tarintino behind the camera it should be another great film. Check out the trailer below:
  • Les Miserables. The epic musical that is based on Victor Hugo’s 19th century novel is finally being turned into a film, one that I cannot wait to watch. I’ve listened to the musical version of the novel dozens of times, sometimes (thanks to YouTube) a few times a day while working on projects. Hugo’s novel examines the nature of law, death and grace, as well as the complex issues of philosophies, hierarchies of society and religious beliefs. All set to the most amazingly composed musical scores you can imagine. The Les Mis’ 25th anniversary performance is all on YouTube if you want to check it out. Thankfully this new film, staring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway, is hitting the UK screens early 2013. Amazingness!
  • Now You See Me. A series of banks are robbed by a known group of illusionists, the only problem is that during the robberies they’re on stage in the centre of Las Vegas’ biggest and brightest casinos. Yet the crowds still reap the financial rewards of their criminal activities. With its mind bending trailer, this film looks like it could swing to either being a brilliant masterpiece  (i.e. Inception) or a disastrous flop (i.e. Next). I have more than a sneaking suspicion that there’s going to be a massive twist at the end of this movie. I’m very much looking forward to this one coming out in June 2013, hoping its a cross between The Illusionist and 21. Oh yeah its also got Morgan Freeman and Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland) in it too.
  • Oblivion. Tom Cruise stars alongside Morgan Freeman in this futuristic spin on what looks like another “everything you’ve been told is a lie” kind of film. A blend of Minority Report, Inception, The Matrix and even some Star Wars thrown in for good measure. I’m not entirely sure how this film will pan out, it looks like it could just be the product of the films mentioned above, but it has lots of potential. Scheduled for an April release over here in the UK.
  • Superman... again!Man of Steel [sequel]. I’ve lost count of how many Superman re-makes and re-launches there has been, but none of them have ever had Zack Snyder directing them! Hopefully this re-make will appeal to a wider audience, no doubt that’s what they’re shooting for as it deals with Superman’s earlier years. Growing up in rural Kansas, Clark finally becomes a journalist, in between saving the world. How many times have we heard that told?
  • World War Z. Perhaps the 2013 film I’ve been waiting the longest for to come out. World War Z follows UN worker Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family as the world is torn apart by a global deadly zombie pandemic. Based on the book by Brooks (which is great BTW), this film has been long-awaited for by many. Sadly coming a year or two too late to ride the zombie-high wave caused by The Walking Dead, this film should still be a big hit. I’m quietly confident that this film will make it into my top zombie apocalypse films.
  • Star Trek into Darkness [sequel]. Trailer shown below. Sherlock Holmes is on the Enterprise! Okay perhaps not Sherlock, but Benedict Cumberbatch is staring alongside Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto in this Star Trek sequel. Apart from a lot of destruction, death and fire, its hard to know from the trailer and posters what the plot for this story is. Cumberbatch plays the bad guy, that’s fairly obvious. Plus he’s bad enough to force a star-ship (probably not the Ente

Mayan’s, apocalypse & spheres

Mayan’s, apocalypse & spheres
We all survived – bring on Christmas!

I’m sure many people reading this know that the ancient Mayan civilisation predicted the world was going to end on the 21st of December 2012. Thankfully those ancient Maya must have their calculations wrong ‘cos the world didn’t end!

Ha, in your face ancient civilisation.

Strangely enough though, even the Maya didn’t think the world was going to end on the 21st. Yet we as a ‘more intelligent’ civilisation, interpreting their calendar, we thought they thought they did.

Ha, in your face modern civilisation!

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about…

The Mayan ‘apocalypse’

A pyramid built by the Mayan
A pyramid built by the Mayan

The Maya people lived from around 2,500BC to 900AD, at which point their empire collapsed. The Maya had a calendar very similar to ours, grouping their calendar into the equivalent of days, months and years. Their calendar also had an extra metric of time, a block of 5,125 years, called the ‘long count’. The current block of 5,125 years, ran out of days on the 21st of December.

The Maya however believed that after the 21st, a new era simply starts. The calendar resets. Much in the same way we’ll celebrate the 31st of December as the end of one era and the beginning of another. I’ve never heard people discuss the apocalypse or end-of-days before breaking out with Auld Lang Syne.

In fact, this ‘doomsday’ marks the end of the 13th era. So as a world, we’ve survived 13 doomsday’s already. Go us!

Yet even without the creators believing it, the modern world has been whipped up in a media frenzy about doomsday.

Faith, the Mayan and the media

Many religions mention an end-of-days, or apocalyptic time. Whether that be to mark the start of a new era, or to rapture people to their god is irrelevant to this article. I don’t have a problem with people having faith in a system that predicts the end of the world. People shouldn’t however, believe the world is going to end and then go look for a religion that fits it. Or worse, read the world’s going to end and then just accept it.

BBC onboard with doomsday scenario
BBC onboard with doomsday scenario

If you genuinely believe the world is going to end, you must have come to understand it from some point or another. You’ve also done more than understand it to, you’ve adopted that theory into your worldly beliefs. The source of your information is what your belief is based on.

As an example, I believe the rapture is possible in my lifetime. I believe it because the Bible talks about it. Jesus talks about it. My faith is in those things, not the rapture itself.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that 99% of people who have heard of the Mayan date of the apocalypse did so through the recent flurry of media stories. A further 99% of those people, didn’t go to any museums or libraries to learn about it further. The majority of these people probably didn’t know the Maya existed until they read articles about the coming end of the world.

People have based all of their understandings from mainly one source, most likely one medium too. They essentially created a belief system off of the understanding the world was coming to an end. Ouch.

It’s easy to sit there and think people who believed this ‘event’ are gullible or less mature, yet as you’ll see below, people have now destroyed their lives based on this.

The media is an insanely powerful tool in any society.

No wonder James Bond tried to save us all from a media tycoon in Tomorrow Never Dies.

Mayan ‘Apocalyphiles’

Yes I’ve coined a new term. There’s probably already a term for it, but I like this new one. So I’m running with it.

Below is a few stories and pictures found online showing how the Mayan doomsday event has changed people’s worlds.

French village of Bugarach closes borders

bugarach-closed-off-franceThe police have had to stop an influx of people entering the village of Bugarach in France after some connection between the Mayan ‘prophecy’, the Bugarach mountain and UFO has come about. Apparently when the cataclysmic end of the world occurs, aliens will leave from this mountain and take some people with them. I actually don’t know how to even process this. Why would a south American civilisation pick a mountain in France for their escape route? Where has the idea of aliens being involved come from? All rather strange.

Bob around the world in safety

A Chinese farmer took the survival of the Mayan doomsday into his own hands, spending about $350k to build seven floating “survival pods”, or “ping-pong balls” as he refers to them as. Liu Qiyuan has spent 2-3 years building these guys, so he was well aware of the Mayan date before the media jumped on board. Gotta’ give him credit for that foresight.

Liu Qiyuan posing with survival podsSadly I have no idea how many of the 84 seats he managed to sell, but hopefully all of them at $4.1k or greater, otherwise he’s going to have some serious explaining to do to the banks.

Made of a mix of fibreglass and steel, and holding 14 people each, I’m not entirely sure what the plan was. Ride out the 3000 foot wave he had built them to withstand (???) and then casually bob around until they found land?

Man builds ark of safety

Lu Zhenghai builds Mayan ArkIf bobbing around aimlessly in the ocean isn’t your thing, then perhaps a nifty little boat would be better. Some guy has spent his life savings, some £100,000 to build an ark to literally ride the wave of chaos that we should have experienced.

Inspired by the 2009 film about this special date in December, starring John Cusack, many people have linked ideas from the film with everyday reality. I’m no expert in naval technologies, but my money would be on this boat not surviving any apocalyptic wave.

Panic buying in Russia

With pending doom around the corner, shops in Russia have been hit by panic buying survivalist. Demand for products have gone through the roof for candles, fuel, matches, torches, drinks flasks and tinned food. Needless to say I don’t think any amount of candles is going to stave off meteors or tsunamis, but you can never be too ready for the apocalypse (I have to say that, you never know when the zombies will rise!)

Surviving – what’s the point?

If tomorrow some archaeologists dug up ancient proof that the world was going to end soon, later to be conclusively agreed upon by dozens of experts in various fields and nations, why prepare to survive it?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all up surviving the fall of society due to war, zombies or man-made scenarios. What I’m not entirely clear on, is why people would try to survive a scenario put in place by a god, ancient or otherwise.

If this hypothetical dug-up proof talks of worldly destruction, decided upon by a god(s), how is buying candles and fuel  useful? Will billions of other people die because they didn’t have enough tinned food? Unless the doomsday event specifically addresses that all logistics will fail around the globe, it’s unlikely to help.

By definition, “doomsday” means “The last day of the world’s existence”. So being ready for it with physical products isn’t going to be much good.

Police and US Military were issued orders of "shoot to kill" as the looting got so bad following Katrina
US police and military were issued orders of “shoot to kill” as the looting got so bad following Hurricane Katrina

On the other hand, if the people are panic buying products because they predict a collapse of society, due to the reaction of others to a non-existing doomsday scenario, that’s another situation all together. Society collapsed for large parts of the state of Louisiana in 2005 when we saw Hurricane Katrina tear through it, causing looting and desperate mobs taking to streets after the disaster. Nothing drives the need of survival more than the fear, whether real or implied, that society is going to be destroyed around them.

I think if this hypothetical proof were ever dug-up, societies all around the world would tear themselves apart in terror…

Ironically producing some sort of horrific situation that borders on the apocalypse.

Merry Christmas 😛

 

A couple of sources if you wanna read around the subject:

 

If you like’d this rather long post, I’d really appreciate a share or like. You may think otherwise, but a lot of work was put into this. Getting people’s feedback would be lush and make it all more rewarding. You’re a star cos I know you’ve already liked it on Facebook…  ;)

Is your neighbour a zombie?

Is your neighbour a zombie?

Friendly neighbourhood zombieNow if Hollywood has taught us anything, its some basic knowledge about surviving those highly-inconsiderate zombie outbreaks. As Hollywood likes to assume everyone’s dumb they make everything in films really quite obvious, but real life isn’t like that. So how’d you know the guy in the cubicle next to you, or the women next to you on the train, isn’t in the first stages of becoming a zombie?

Here’s a few signs that you should keep an eye out for when you’re down the shops / at the next big game / in those dark cinemas / crossing those cemeteries during freak storms…

The way zombies walk

Zombies walking
The funky zombie shuffle

Their gait resembles someone who has had far too much to drink.

Important to note they’re not flailing all over the place like a drunk trying to grab the moving scenery, unless of course you’re very close. In which case they’re not trying to grab you to steady themselves, but rather to begin their dinner.

Its more noticeable by the way they shuffle their feet. This jerky, limping, dragging kind of movements reflects their motor-neurons in their brain slowly turning to mush as the virus within them gains grounds.

Thankfully though, this painfully slow characteristics of them gives you plenty of time to escape assuming you’re not ambushed or stupid.

Why won’t you bleed!

Inability to bleed. This has to be taken at face value, if the person has a cause to bleed and yet refuses to leak gooey red gunk all over your nice new beige carpet, its likely to be because they no longer need it to stay alive. However on the flip side, going round stabbing people with scissors for the office ‘routine zombie check-up’  may just end up with your blood on the carpet. Use caution.

Zombie deodorant needed

The person has a rather funky odour, a wonderful mixture of scents made from the combination of body fluids, dried blood, decaying flesh and maybe even some gun-shot residue. Warning though, some people do legitimately work in these conditions; surgeons, butchers and sewage engineers to name a few.

Bring the pain!

Eh.. you've got something in your teeth
Eh.. you’ve got something in your teeth

They seem to have a horrendously high pain threshold, or a blatant disregard for their missing limbs. This is a good indicator cos’ even those macho guys you know from work / gym / school will have trouble hiding their expressions while trying to walk on broken ankles or while missing a forearm.

However any event you may encounter a zombie in is likely to fill people with adrenaline, which in some circumstances, causes people not to be aware of even large wounds to their bodies.

Whiter than white

They have the complexion of an over keen programmer who never sees the sun, that is, fairly pale or even bluey-greenie in tint. Their lack of flowing blood quickly gives them the death make-up. (As one of those programmers I’d recommend people use this symptom sparingly please… pretty please…)

You said what?

Their language skills have drastically declined from forming coherent sentences to a mixture of moaning and intangible grunting. Unable or unwilling to communicate, the zombies thankfully are also unable to coordinate attacks. It seems more and more people actually do converse in grunts, so be careful when using noting this as a symptom.

Zombie buffets

Lets finish on a biggie. They appear usually in pairs or triplets, bent over consuming the entire contents of the chest cavity of a person you recently chatted to. This should suddenly ring 3 bells in your zombie-prepared mind:

Zombies eating

  1. Eating another person is unnatural. A good first sign something is awry.
  2. There’s already a few possible zombies. Signs the infection/outbreak has been going on for a longer period. Symptoms may be noticed in a groups of people.
  3. They’re consuming someone you just spook to; a.k.a they’re very close! Move away until you can either reasonably prove or disprove what the hell’s going on!

So there you go, if someone is fitting at least 3 of those conditions I’d seriously think about giving them a wide berth… or a double tap to the brain… whichever is easiest.

To be honest after compiling this list I’m surprised I ever made it through my teenage years, what with being a pale drunk teenager.

Stay alert. Stay alive.

Best Zombie Apocalypse Films

Best Zombie Apocalypse Films

I’m a big fan of zombie films and other similar apocalyptic style scenarios, so I thought I’d compile a top 5 of my favourites. However it turned out to be a little bit larger, so in no particular order:

Dawn of the Dead (1978/2004)

Probably to the anger of any die-hard Z fans, I’ve grouped Romero’s and Snyder’s remake here together as I think they’re both brilliant films. A small band of people awaken to find their world crawling with bloody thirsty zombies. They turn to the nearest supply filled stronghold, a shopping Mall. Can they sit out the plague until it burns itself out? Can they survive the relentless pounding of fists against metal shutters? Can they even survive each other.

Crowd of the dead in 'Dawn of the Dead'
Crowds of zombies swarm in the original ‘Dawn of the Dead’

 

Land of the Dead (2005)

Romero’s latest addition to his zombie franchise. The zombie population have done it… they have taken over the entire planet. Now only one vast walled city of humans survive. When civil unrest and plans to over-throw the cities government mix with increased intelligence in the zombie popultion, can the humans maintain their last foothold on Earth.

Zombieland (2009)

Zombieland Rules
Rule #1. Cardio

A shy student and a gun-slinging zombie-killing adult team up with 2 sisters to ride-out the zombie plague in this zom-com.

If you’ve never heard of a zom-com, it stands for zombie comedy. Who’d have thought those two genres would fit so well together. In honesty I wasn’t expecting much when I sat down to watch this, but Zombieland was a lot better than what I thought it would be.

Loved the rules too :)

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

The second zombie comedy I’ve mentioned in this list, but perhaps the better of the two. Co-written by Simon Pegg, this film follows a recently dumped guy trying to get his girl friend back, as well as keep his mum and dad (“He’s not my dad!”) and friends alive from the towns population of zombies. Where’s the safest place you know? Is it as strong as the Winchester!

28 Days Later (2002)

A man awakens in hospital after a long coma following a car crash. He finds himself locked into the hospital ward, but when he gets outside onto the streets of London he finds the whole capital city deserted. Not only must he stay alive where all the food has rotten, but it turns out some of the population has survived as bloody-thirsty rage-filled monsters.

28 Days Later
Alone in a destroyed London. Well, not entirely alone.

Crazies (2010)

The population of a small peaceful farming town in Iowa suddenly starts turning on one another after a military cargo plane crashes in the nearby water supply. Not a zombie film, but should be watched by any Zombie-fans. I think George A. Romero would see this as a worthy remake of his 1973 film of the same name.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

This is the highly influential film that most zombie fans class as a masterpiece by Romero. Although remade twice since, this original has the best atmosphere and constant genuine dread that the zombies will get you in time.

Think I’ve missed any classics? Feel free to share what you think is the best.

CGI: Refreshing Zombie Drink

CGI: Refreshing Zombie Drink

Zombie drinks can. CGI

Remember; a hydrated zombie is a happy zombie.

This is a CGI render I did back last year from following a few online tutorials in Blender, ending up with this little tasty looking drink.

You could say I’m dead proud of it… dead proud… get it…. oh well.

Followed Andrew Price’s tutorial on modelling and lighting this subject, however all modelling and textures are pure, that is, made by myself. (Tutorial here)

It’s definitely not perfect but at a first glance it appears almost photographic… perhaps… well ok maybe if seen through foggy glass while squinting… but still…

I’m getting better. I should attempt to re-do it using the new render engine, Cycles, to see how the lighting and textures are enhanced.

Hope you like it though :-)