Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is a pop culture junkie’s wet dream of a book, and one I have been continuously sharing with friends since I first read it a couple of years ago. RPO is one of those books that was optioned for film before it even released, with a number of potential directors already expressing interest in the film adaptation since. It wasn’t too long ago that it was announced that Steven Spielberg (who?) would be taking over as director. We haven’t heard much about the film until some very interesting and potentially amazing news dropped.
To show the importance of staging in filmmaking, director Steven Soderbergh reworks Steven Spielberg’s classic adventure Raiders of the Lost Ark into a moodily, affective black and white silent film. The film is essentially stripped of many surface elements to highlight the deeper ones (at least for Soderbergh). No more color or witty banter from Harrison Ford, and we lose John Williams iconic score. Soderbergh replaces all of the soundtrack with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score from The Social Network, not to draw comparisons between the two films but rather to provide audible accents to the staging.
Universal Pictures officially announced on Tuesday that Colin Trevorrow‘s (Safety Not Guaranteed) upcoming Jurassic Park sequel, will be titled Jurassic World. The movie has also been given the release date of June 12th, 2015. The Wrap got the scoop on this story late yesterday adding that the film will be shot in 3D. Trevorrow will be directing from a script written by himself and Derek Connolly.
Much like Disney World compared to Disneyland, the title itself is a big fat hint that this film will expand the world and attractions (in this case meat-eating, prehistoric beasts) established in the previous three films, with the rumor being that the “Jurassic World” in the title will be a fully functioning theme park. Numerous sites reported a few weeks ago that The Office’s John Krasinski was up for the role of a Dino wrangler, suggesting that there will be more than the odd paleontologist on the menu. This will really up the ante in terms of drama when things inevitably go belly up.
There has still been no word as the whether Jurassic World will be a sequel, reboot or re-imagining to Spielberg‘s classic series. I would prefer the film to be a continuation of the story. In a world where large corporate companies will jump on any franchise they can see as marketable, it seems logical that someone would want to rebuild Hammond’s failed dreams from the original films. While this idea was explored in the mediocre Jurassic Park: The Lost World, I don’t think it was explored to its full potential.
That idea itself is ironic as the first three Jurassic Park films took in $1.9 billion at the box office and this year’s 3D re-release of the original film has brought in $114 million globally. So it seems obvious that Universal would want to go bigger and bolder for the next instalment as it seems there is still plenty of money to be made from the franchise.
Let’s just hope when Jurassic World opens on June 12th 2015, like the theme parks guests, we are not left wanting our admission fee’s back too.
This is news that will no doubt split the options of horror fans completely down the middle, but word is that the casting for the new Poltergeist film is well underway. The director is Gil Kenan (Monster House, City of Ambers) with Rob Tapert, Roy Lee and Sam Raimi on the production side of things (Raimi at the moment just seems like he will produce any horror film he can get his hands on!). The screenplay is in the hands of writer David Lindsay-Abaire (with previous work from Juliet Snowden and Stiles White among others). No news on who has been cast so far, but filming will start in Autumn 2013 and will take place in Toronto. Monster House is a fun little children’s movie, but not very scary while the original Poltergeist in places made kids jump out of their seats. Can Gil get the right balance of fun and fear that the great Spielberg and Hooper managed to do?
In this slightly different story Eric Bowen and his family move to a new town after Eric loses his job. Madison, his daughter is abducted and Eric comes to the realization that nothing is more important than his family. Eric’s wife Amy has the ability to communicate with the dead, and Carrigan Burke; host of the TV show ‘Haunted House Cleaners’ is brought in to help out. The movie will also feature Carrigan’s ex who just so happens to work as a parapsychologist at the local university and pops up to look into Madison’s disappearance.
Now let’s turn the movie on its head; it would seem the plan is not for a straight reboot, but in fact more of a sequel, much like the new Evil Dead was. It will take place years after the Feeling’s left town. One key scene in this new vision of the Poltergeist universe has the children finding that classic cinematic tool a sliding panel. Guess what they find? Loads of stuff from the Freeling’s which includes the Star Wars bed sheets, Christmas decorations and that classic black and white TV. Personally, I would have just burned all this stuff after their traumatic events, but that’s Hollywood thinking for you. So like the Evil Dead remake we are getting a new set of characters mixed with the old style of movie we expect from this series including the killer tree, the clown and the unseen ghost people Madison talks to in the original.
I appreciate the fact that these changes are meant to give a fresh look to the 1982 movie, but I am unclear on if this is for the better. The girl in the Poltergeist is the thing that most people remember from the original, so reaction may depend on how much we actually see or hear of her in the movie. If the film focuses on the parent’s tribulations and they have no chemistry together then we may have a film devoid of emotional content. Nice inclusion of a Most Haunted style TV host, but it seems like we have already seen this type of post modern twist before with the Fright Night remake (I know he was an illusionist in that, but it is the same type of cocky character I am expecting to see here to). Will we see a happy ending here? I doubt it Hollywood hates happy endings in horror at the moment. Will we see the house get sucked into limbo? Will it look as good with CGI effects or is the movie going to employ physical effects to create the ghosts? The look of the ghosts in the original movie were superb and even today are fun to watch. Can the new movie live up to these spectres?
The final question we need to ask ourselves here is do we even need another variation on Poltergeist? Recently film goers have had remakes, reboots and sequels thrown at them from every possible genre and it seems like no film is safe from getting taken off the shelf and given a cinematic new lick of paint. With the amount of ghost and demon possession movies already out there now and all of them seeming very similar, what is Poltergeist the remake going to offer that we have not already seen? Still this approach seems to have worked for the new Evil Dead movie, giving us a new set of characters and new Deadites to enjoy, so there is no reason why this sequel will not have the same success. If nothing else it will bring in new audience to this classic movie and the established fans will no doubt be interested to see how this new movie plays out. It is early days yet and it will be interesting to see where this project goes. More news when it arrives.
So we finally got our big reveal for the next generation Xbox and it is called the Xbox One. It is being billed as the next revolutionary step in not only gaming, but home entertainment. The ‘One’ concludes that this will be the only entertainment console and device that will be connected to your television because of its expansive features that will cater to all. From the new Kinect, technological innovations, partnerships with Skype, the NFL, and Comcast, Microsoft wants to be your exclusive hub for all things media. Of course, we have a varied range of opinions of the staff and we’re going to share our thoughts on the system, the press conference itself, and other things. Amanda Denton, Scott Fraser and myself dive into the essentials below, after the video of the reveal part of the press conference courtesy of IGN.
First, let’s just go through everything that’s been announced so far today. One of the big things they are pushing today is the Kinect. From the outset, this is a major part of the console as they have concentrated on improving the use of the Kinect and its integration into navigating the system. They called it ‘rocket science’ type stuff and while skeptical, for the most part it was impressive. Showing off the use of the system in tracking the unique voice and person, the system seamlessly moved between the Xbox Dashboard to cable TV to movies previously watched as well as music recently listened to. This is a result of the architecture inside which uses multiple operating systems and the new hardware that allows for a quick transition. Also taking advantage of the upgrade is the sensor that can recognize things with more accuracy, such as joints and being able to follow gestures of the body, to give a more accurate performance for games that need to track precise movements.
You are also able to enable something called ‘Snap Mode’, which allows you to run two windows or apps at the same time. By saying ‘Snap Mode’ and ‘Skype’ for instance, you can watch your movie on one edge of the screen and then enable a Skype call to your body and multi-task. It’s a nice feature that should cater to the ADD masses, as well as anyone that wants to have say, a television show in the background and not have to feel interrupted when a Skype call comes through. Also using hand gestures, you can easily go between modes and minimize and maximize windows as need be.
Going through the technical details, it’s probably best to lift the image from the presser and put it below before we dissect it:
I’m sure none of this matters to a bunch of you but it’s important to note that it’s a powerful system inside. Plus a Blu-ray player is what most people are looking forward to and Sony has lost that advantage now from their gaming console. Again, the most impressive feature is the three operating systems that will run the system as you are able to switch back and forth between applications and windows as need be. Being able to go from game to the dashboard, to live TV and other applications will go a long way in trying to establish the Xbox One as the only machine that should be under your television. Getting back to the live television part of it, the demo they used was from Comcast television but they only said that it will work with compatible TV providers and no mention of exclusivity of certain providers. This is something that we need to keep an eye on just in case.
Speaking of TV, Xbox One will now carry original television programming. That’s right folks, get ready for a Halo television series produced by none other than Steven Spielberg.
Details are still up in the air but it should feature live-action and be done in conjuction with 343 Studios, the people in charge of Halo 4. You can debate that as you will but with the hiring of an ex-CBS programming exec, it was in the works for awhile. Other things we can look forward to is the use of the Cloud in order to record gameplay and saves so you can move from console to console or even to brag to other gamers about your achievements. Also having an editing platform for your videos will be included, as well as a built-in DVR function. With that, expect a constant internet connection to be required because the use of the Cloud and the promise of live updates for your system while not in use will make it essential to be connected at all times.
The new controller still is very familiar, with a few different button placements. The most important thing to note is the battery is now internal so the bump on the back will disappear and will now probably charge just like the PS3 controller. The new design also allows for more accuracy in the analog buttons and new triggers as well. Of course, we’ll probably have to wait until E3 to see what other differences there are when we can get our hands on it.
As for game announcements, there were…uhh…not a lot. Obviously the big one would be Call of Duty: Ghosts, as well as EA Sports showing off their Ignite next-gen engine, as well as the new Remedy game Quantum Break for Xbox One but it was very light on games. Forza did look impressive but they are probably saving the rest of the big guns for E3 in the next coming weeks.
Overall, I came away from the press conference a bit underwhelmed. Maybe it’s just the gamer in me that wanted to see more games but the Xbox One seemed to really hammer the idea of the Kinect into our heads and the living room experience. That’s all fine and dandy but I honestly want to see why I should get this gaming system over the PS3. Technologically, the system is impressive but to demo that with Skype calls, Windows 8 interfaces, and the ability to switch to Live TV because it’s easier than hitting the Input button on your remote felt like pandering to the casual person. Which is great in a business sense but it didn’t grab me like I wanted it to.
Talking with Amanda and Scoot, our opinions varied a bit as well. Scoot noted that he was underwhelmed as well but he’s still excited. He also added the Kinect will be the big thing they are pushing which is odd considering that the current iteration has mixed opinions in the current gaming community. Amanda came away as impressed although wanted to hear if backward compatibility will make the jump to the Xbox One. I also asked them about things like the original programming. Scoot said the new system opens the door for television on the console, especially with going as far to produce an original Halo series for the console. Original programming also has Amanda excited despite the hiring of an ex-CBS exec for “original” entertainment.
She’s also excited about the use of the Kinect and expanding on that technology as well. With Microsoft pushing for this to be the only thing that you need for your television, Amanda also believed it could accomplish that task. With it having a Blu-ray and the use of Netflix and Hulu, there’s no real point in having a bunch of boxes when one will do. Scoot agreed with that assessment as the Blu-ray player plays a big part in the entertainment package for the living room. I also asked my fellow editors one the top feature they saw, the most disappointing and what they want to see in the next reveal at E3. Scoot said his favorite part was the Halo TV show because of the huge step Microsoft is taking with the inclusion of original programming but that it was also the most disappointing because he felt that was the top thing they were trumpeting with the system. He wanted to see more XBox One exclusives and more info on the new tech running the system, possibly of the rumored projector system. Amanda thought the top feature was the inclusion of the Blu-ray and the expanded Kinect integration. She’s most skeptical of the new programming chief for original programming because CBS doesn’t have the best track record in terms of ground-breaking entertainment. As for what she wants to see next, she wants more information about the television aspect, such as if a contract with Comcast is involved with it or the tuner being built in, or even if it’s included in the initial price point. Also, say you don’t have Comcast and are they the only TV provider? There’s still a lot of questions that need to be answered.
We do know that it will be released at the end of this year, most likely in time for the holiday season so hopefully we’ll get more information around E3 time. Of course, please share your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page. What do you think, is Xbox One a game-changer or do you need to see more to make it the one and only system for you? In case you want more info, check out Wired’s and Techcrunch’s take on the new console as well!