Category Archives: speed racer
Now I downloaded a lot of free demos for the PS3. Some because I knew the game, some because I thought they looked cool, and some because I thought I could write about them here in the blog. Fatal Inertia EX falls squarely in both the second and third categories. And apparently it’s not even really a PS3 game, as it is only available as a download. I’m not sure what that even really means bottom line, but it is an interesting point.
Stripped down to the basics, Fatal Inertia is just space motocross, so yeah, just a race game basically, but wow, what a race game. The graphics are startling and fun just to watch, as long as you’re not playing. The problem, at least for me, was, as usual, the controller. I needed lots of practice steering before I could master anything else like the racing part. It’s fun though, and I can see how this would be a blast for someone who had mastered the controls.
Once you know what you’re doing as far as the racing part goes, you can worry about other stuff like smashing into stuff, running out of gas, brakes overheating, or, say, even winning the races. It was very frustrating at first, but the more I played, the more excited I was about it. That said, I still can’t play, but I want to.
At higher levels it becomes a bit like the old “Speed Racer” cartoons where you can fight with the other racers as you race. Nice. It adds a whole new dimension to what I thought was just a race game. I just need one of my game gurus to come over and show me how to do this.
Those who know me well know that I struggle with insomnia. Last year when I purchased an iPhone, coupled with the insomnia, I started to develop a bad habit – watching entire runs of TV shows while I sat awake in bed. After I had finished up “Nip/Tuck,” I asked on Twitter what folks thought I should watch next.
Other than things I had already seen, I got all the usual stuff thrown at me like “Buffy,” “House” and “Babylon 5.” Sigh. Friend and Vidcast partner Allison made a suggestion that at first I thought was odd – “Avatar The Last Airbender.” I’m not much of an anime guy. Other than the old old school stuff like “Speed Racer” and “Kimba,” the only anime I’ve ever been into was “One Piece.” But I respect Allison’s opinion a lot, despite appearances on the Vidcast, so I gave it a try.
I was more than surprised, I was blown away. I was introduced to a fantasy world in which some people have the ability to ‘bend’ the elements, in other words, to control the earth, the air, the water, and the fire. One being, the Avatar, has the ability to bend all four, and is basically proclaimed the savior and leader of people by example. In this world, the Avatar has been absent for over a hundred years and is released from an icy tomb. Once free, he must finish his training and grow up. The young boy Avatar and his friends together defeat the Fire Empire that has ruled much of the world with a fascist regime.
Along the way, I fell in love with the characters, the story, both episodic and overarching, and the beautiful backgrounds and animation. It is an amazing series that I can not heap enough praise upon. I was mesmerized and devoured well over fifty episodes in just under two weeks. Yeah, it was that good. But then it was over.
Imagine my surprise recently when I learned that Nickolodeon, the network who made “Avatar,” was working on a sequel by the same folks. I was thrilled. Several weeks ago “The Legend of Korra” began airing. The story picks up almost a century later. The Avatar has brought a new age to the world, one of prosperity and enlightenment. Republic City is the capital of much of the world, a world in the midst of a cultural and industrial revolution. Into this turn of the century steampunk world of Republic City comes Korra the spunky new Avatar in training.
The creators could have gone the easy route, a rehash of the original series, a proven formula that worked, but they went different. This is a whole new spectrum of the concept. Korra is in a cityscape, she’s a bending athlete, and the world is in upheaval between the benders and the non-benders. Much like “Avatar” before it, I love this show, and can’t recommend it enough. This is an amazing show. Watch it.
Peter Fernandez was the guiding force behind the Americanization of such anime classics as “Speed Racer,” “Gigantor,” “Astro Boy” and “Star Blazers,” and also live action imports from Japan like “Ultraman,” “Space Giants,” “Mothra” and several of the Godzilla films from the 1960s. His early career was in radio on shows like “Gangbusters,” “Mr. District Attorney” and “Superman.”
More recently he had a small part in the big screen version of Speed Racer and a featured role in the newest incarnation of the animated series. Other recent work included “Kenny the Shark” and “Courage the Cowardly Dog.”
I had the opportunity to interview the man at the New York Comic Con a few years back and it’s one of my most cherished memories. I was nervous as hell but he was a very kind and generous, and understanding interviewee. Some of that interview is available here.
I have lost another huge chunk of my childhood, but I’m glad I was able to meet Mr. Fernandez, and at least tell him how much his work meant to me. He will be missed.
Philadelphia radio and television legend Bill Webber passed away this weekend. He was scheduled for heart surgery but died before it could be done. He was 80.
Webber was a fixture on the Philadelphia media scene for over five decades, and never retired. He was a radio disc jockey, television pioneer, talk show host, kids show host, telethon emcee, announcer, nice guy, a giant of a man, and an industry legend. He served for years as an officer in the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia, and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 1999. He worked in many, if not most of the media outlets in the Philadelphia area.
That would be enough, but on a personal level, I feel like I’ve lost a part of my childhood. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Bill Webber doubled as Wee Willie Webber on local channel 17 on weekday afternoons as the host of their children’s programming. Bill Webber was the face that greeted me when I got home from school and filled in the commercial breaks during such life-shaping TV shows like “Speed Racer” and “Ultraman.”
That might sound silly, but when I met the man in person years later – thinner, older and sporting a goatee – Mr. Webber was thrilled to hear that he was remembered so fondly and insisted that I, then a grown man, call him Wee Willie and even imitated Ultraman’s Spacium Ray gesture at me as he walked away. A nice man, and a very cool man. He will be missed by many.
In the early 1960s the classic Tetsuwan Atomu manga by the genius Osamu Tezuka was brought to animation in Japan and quickly sold to NBC in the US. The series’ success quickly paved the way for “Gigantor,” “Kimba” and “Speed Racer,” and changing animation forever.
There have been more than a few manga and anime series of Astro Boy, and even a rare and very hard-to-find live-action movie, and now Imagi Animation Studios, a Japanese-American collaboration, is readying a new CGI Astro Boy film for theatres. Here’s the trailer:
Interesting. Is it me, or is it just not Astro Boy unless he’s barechested? Either way, it looks great, and has a rather impressive voice cast. I’m looking forward to it.
Astro Boy hits the big screen in October 2009.
Movies not from 2008, but I saw for the first time this year and loved: Déjà Vu, Last Holiday, Man of the Century, Girl 27, Crash (2004), Shoot ‘Em Up, and the absolutely brilliant The Man from Earth.
The best things from the internet in 2008:
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Stephen King’s “N,” Watchmen Motion Comics, BloodRayne A Fan Film, Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips podcast, Derrick Ferguson and Thomas Deja’s Better in the Dark podcast and The Writing Show podcast.
The best comic books of 2008:
Jonah Hex, Trinity by Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley, Geoff Johns’ Action Comics, Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s Fantastic Four, Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman, Lone Ranger, Countdown to Mystery, Brave and the Bold, Joe Casey’s Godland, and Garth Ennis’ brilliant revival of British space hero Dan Dare.
The best music videos of 2008 in my opinion:
This past Tuesday I made the trek to the local Best Buy, which is no longer a very good place to buy DVDs because a few years back they drastically reduced their selection, which previously had been amazing. But the store was adequate for what I was after. I wanted the new Iron Man double-disc set that came out that day and Speed Racer from the week before.
Unfortunately, Speed Racer will lose almost 90% of its cool on the small screen. I’m so glad I got to see it in IMAX. And of course, Iron Man is the best superhero movie of the year, if not the decade, and one of the best movies period of this year. Dark Knight? What’s that?
The prize of this shopping expedition however was the three-disc special edition of The Maltese Falcon. What makes it so great, and made me buy it immediately was the fact that it not only included a “Warner Night at the Movies” (much like the one I described in my review of Black Legion), three radio adaptations and a new documentary about the film but also – the original two versions of the film, Dangerous Female and Satan Met a Lady. Love it, love it. Too cool.
Speed Racer ~ Forget the Matrix films, and even forget Bound, this –at least so far- is the crowning achievement of the Wachowski brothers.
Folks have said that it’s too bright, too busy and too fast to watch and that it causes headaches, but my advice is to get used to it. But if memory serves, those are the same complaints made to Toni Basil about her “Mickey” music video waaay back in 1982, and so she toned it down. Now, not only are fast cuts commonplace but that particular video is considered extremely tame. Media will change, and the audiences will get acclimated. With Speed Racer, the Wachowskis have come very close to creating a completely new style of film. Twenty years from now, they will be praised as visionaries. I would bet on it. This is an experience rather than a film.
Speed Racer is busy, and I’m sure multiple viewings will be required to catch every nuance. For this reason I predict its box office as well as DVD rentals and sales will be huge. There are superior performances from Matthew Fox, Susan Sarandon, Christina Ricci and Rain, and especially all the cars, real CGI or green screen. If I were pressed to find something wrong with the flick I would say at times the Wachowskis make the same mistake NBC made with “Knight Rider.” When in doubt, always remember, the car is the star.
Speed Racer is an incredible film. As a kid who grew up watching the original “Speed Racer” cartoon, and then, like all my friends, replaying out what I’d seen with my Hot Wheels and Matchboxes, this is a dream come true. See it, see it twice, and as they say in lacrosse – you’ll pay for the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge.