Category Archives: steampunk

The Man with the Iron Fists

The Man with the Iron Fists ~ This film is a mad alternate universe martial arts adventure written by RZA and Eli Roth, an insane love letter to the Shaw Brothers movies of the 1970s. With the backing and support of Quentin Tarantino, a decent budget, an awesome cast, and even cooler soundtrack, the film succeeds on all points of professing its love, providing proper homage, and entertaining the hell out of viewers.

The flick is high camp adventure at its best, and great actors like Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu roll with it with skill. RZA plays the title role, an American emancipated blacksmith who becomes embroiled in this bloody cartoonish tale of greed, revenge, and warring clans, all set to frenetic hip hop soundtrack.

This is pure Shaw Brothers with a big budget and better music, imagine Crouching Tiger without the grace and slow parts but mixed with a bizarre steampunk UFC sensibility and you’ve got the vibe. It even turns almost superhero-ish toward the end.

The red band trailer below is NOT family or work safe. You’ve been warned.

I dug this flick a lot, but found myself a bit bored waiting for the next fight with outrageous opponents to occur. It suffers in these places, but the battles more than make up for it. Recommended for those who grew up with Saturday afternoon martial arts flicks, and loved them despite the silliness and the effects, The Man with the Iron Fists is for you.

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Cloud Atlas Preview

Based on the wonderful groundbreaking steampunk novel by David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas opens on October 26th, 2012.

Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch ~ At first glance, and from previews, this appears to be an explosion of imagination. Writer/director Zack Snyder makes it seem as if he has constructed a film around the concept that with motion capture, green screen and CGI nothing is impossible. I mean, come on, you can’t get any more genre chill than hot chick samurais and steampunk Nazi zombies. And at first glance, you might be right.

The problem is that only about twenty minutes of the film’s one hundred and ten minutes takes place in the hyper-reality of the story’s fantasy world. The rest happens in a dreary, depressing and relentlessly violent mental hospital reality that makes the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest seem like a house party. Nothing good happens in the hospital. It is painful to sit through, even worse if you watch. In the theater, I hated this majority of the flick, and at home, fast forward was my friend.

The fantasy scenes are amazing, truly stunning – I could watch them over and over again – and alone well worth the price of admission/rental. The sexy actresses and killer soundtrack are also formidable as well. I fully recommend the movie just for those reasons, but there’s a lot more going on.

On further viewings and discussions with other film fans I have discovered a whole different level to this flick. Pay close attention to the dialogue and the visuals as well, as everything is a metaphor. If you don’t want to get that deep, there is also the Pink Floyd factor. Much like The Wizard of Oz, if you play Dark Side of the Moon parallel to watching Sucker Punch, it lines up much the same way.

So no matter how you watch Sucker Punch, I recommend you give it a second chance, finger on the fast forward button or not.

Avatar and the Legend of Korra

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.

An Ayn Rand Nightmare

I have talked about the concept of games before as simple entertainments. I wanted to play things like Grand Theft Auto and/or The Incredible Hulk because I wanted to blow off some steam and smash stuff. The game should be a simple fun getaway from everyday life. Fantasy.

Sometimes, some of these games take fantasy a bit too far, and a bit too seriously. In books, comics, television, and film, there are such things, so why not in videogames too? BioShock is one of those games. You will become immersed in a completely new world of wonder and horror that honestly I’m not sure why you would want to go there. It’s frightening, it’s disturbing, and worse than that, it lectures you.

The story of this game is that you are a plane crash survivor trapped in the underwater city of Rapture in an alternate 1960s world and you’re hunted by mutants and steampunk robots. Yeah, absorb all that. Turn out the lights and add even more horror to the mix, along with lots of questions and morality issues, and you’ve got BioShock, the love child of Ayn Rand and Clive Barker.

BioShock is a first person shooter, where inexplicably you don’t even start with anything to shoot with. You begin in the water, probably having just survived the plane crash, and you are surrounded by fire. It’s very pretty. Amazing special effect, but good luck moving on from there unless you know what you’re doing. .

Now I know there’s more to this game, as I’ve seen Crystal play it, but I can’t get past the fire myself. It’s dark and it’s scary, and so full of moral ambiguity as you explore this city built on the principles of the Objectivist movement. Oh yeah, and there’s enough child endangerment to make Batman look like a good father.

I wish I understood how to play, and that said, I wish I understood why people want to play. Low marks from me, at least so far, for BioShock.