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Virtual Action Figures

6 Apr

Some people collect action figures. I collect virtual action figures. 

Freedom Force - Iron Man

All right, I also collect action figures. But nevertheless …

Behold! My Virtual Action Figure collection.

Using the game Freedom Force (Irrational Games, 2002), I have built (or I like to think curated) a collection of character meshes and skins. I’ve always considered it a collection of digital action figures, which I have preserved by meticulously copying files from PC to PC as I’ve upgraded my hardware over the years. Recently I re-installed Freedom Force from Steam and have been spending time with my collection again.

In the run up to Iron Man 3, I am dedicating this entry to ol’ shellhead himself. In my collection I have eight Iron Man suits.

My collection represents heroes from what I consider to be the best age of comic books (i.e. when I was feverishly collecting comic books as a kid in the late 1970s to the late 1980s). Today, one of my favorite pastimes is to run the game in “Watch Mode” and recreate some epic moments from my childhood. In the run up to Iron Man 3, I am dedicating this entry to ol’ shellhead himself.

For example, here’s Iron Man facing off against the Raiders, three mercenaries in the employ of the Cord Conglomerate (a rival of Stark Industries). Here’s that first encounter with the raiders straight out of Iron Man #145 (April, 1981).

What about this classic battle between shellhead and the Titanium Man? (You have to remember that this was during the height of the Cold War. So billionaire/industrialist/super-hero Tony Stark had to have an arch-nemesis who was from the Soviet Union and wore similar hi-tech armor, right?)

For those of you who have only come to know and love Tony since the first movie (Iron Man, 2008), here’s a recreation of Tony in his Mark I armor escaping from the desert camp of the terrorists of the Ten Rings. (I am using the Mark I from the comics, not the movies, by the way.)

Again, for the movie fans … most of you probably don’t know that the alien race called the Chitauri, Loki’s invasion force, was originally just another name for the Skrulls in the Marvel Ultimates universe. Here’s my comic book-style recreation of the movie’s final battle scene, with the shape-shifting Skrulls standing in for the Chitauri. I decided to throw in a special guest star, too!

And finally … the one disappointment from the Avengers movie (The Avengers, 2012) was that we never got to see Iron Man go toe-to-toe with the Hulk. So here’s what might have happened.

(I think the computer gets the outcome right.)

You might have noticed that I have tons of characters in my collection: from Marvel, DC Comics and even some others. Who would you like to see in action? I just might have them in my collection.  Let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

NOTE:

I must emphasize that I am not an animator nor a digital artist. I didn’t create any of these skins or meshes. I owe everything to what the awesome Freedom Force modding community has generously shared on the web for free for over 10 years. Special shout out to folks like the Beyonder, Courtnall6, Tommyboy, Renegade, Grenadier and the gentlemen of Heroforce, who keep Freedom Force modding alive even today. Thank you all!

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Why the next Batman movie should be in CG animation

5 Nov

The time has come to make a full-CGI / motion capture Batman movie. To make it work, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill have to be in it. Batman: Arkham City proves that it would be all kinds of awesome. Who’s with me?

With the Christopher Nolan series of Batman movies coming to an end, the opportunity will arise again to reboot the Bat franchise on film. But does it really have to be live action?

My vote is for an CGI / Motion-capture Batman movie in the tradition of films like Beowulf and Final Fantasy: the Spirits Within. But to make this work, the film must feature the voice talents of two men who have brought these classic characters to life for almost two decades: Kevin Conroy as the Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker.

What? A “cartoon” Batman feature film? Here’s why the idea isn’t all that crazy:

First, Batman the Animated Series is regarded by many Batman fans as the best incarnation of the Dark Knight in any medium. Conroy and Hamill have been fan favorites ever since they first starred in the series in 1992. Since then, they have been brought back in a number of animation projects featuring Batman and the Joker, including Superman, Justice League, Batman Beyond and two direct-to-DVD feature films. They are also both marvelous actors, as this scene from one of the animated series shows.

Most recently Conroy and Hamill reprised their roles in the hit video games Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City. The latter has already sold over 4.6 million units since its release on 18 October. (That’s about US$230 million in gross revenue after only two weeks, which puts it in the same league as any Hollywood blockbuster film.)

Finally, technology is now able to give us the dramatic performances we need to make this an excellent film. Both actors will not only be able to voice but to fully perform these characters. With CG, whether or not the actors resemble the characters in real life is no longer an issue, as the following clip from the making of Beowulf shows.

We’ve all seen how full CG characters — from Yoda to Gollum — can command emotional performances onscreen. I am very excited at the prospect of both Conroy and Hamill fully performing these iconic characters. Plus, the action should be spectacular. Take a look at this trailer for Arkham City.

If you would like to see this film made, please Like this page on Facebook and help spread the word!

At last! The Captain America full trailer

24 Mar

After all the fan-made trailers, the Super Bowl teaser trailer, the preview trailers (yes, in 2011 we now have adverts that advertise the upcoming advert) … the first full 02:30 trailer of Captain America: The First Avenger is finally here.

I’m excited. Are you? Frame-by-frame feature soon to follow.

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights trailer

27 Feb

Take a look at the trailer for the upcoming DC Universe animated film, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. The format appears to be similar to Batman: Gotham Knight, in the sense that it’s made up of inter-connected stories following six “legendary” Green Lanterns. Fans will finally get to see (or at least hearNathan Fillion — a fan favorite for the lead in the upcoming Green Lantern live-action movie before Ryan Reynolds was awarded the role — play the role of Hal Jordan. Also joining the cast are Kelly Hu (X2), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) and Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter series).

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights will be out on DVD & BluRay on 7 June 2011, 10 days before the theatrical release of the Green Lantern feature film.

Waiting for the Yamato

8 Jan

It’s been a month since Space Battleship Yamato, the live action film based on the beloved anime first aired in the 1970s, opened in Japan. (Many might know the series better as Star Blazers, as it was called in its US version.) The film was directed by Takashi Yamazaki (Returner, Always) and stars Japan screen idol Takuya Kimura. The trailers and clips that have leaked onto the internet look amazing and the reviews I have read promise a thoroughly fun film, whether you are a fan of the anime or not.

Here’s a clip of the opening scene:

And an extended clip showing the firing of the “Wave Motion Gun”:

Here’s the extended trailer:

As a live action space opera, the comparison with Battlestar Galactica is inevitable, as the following fan trailer nicely shows.

I’ve found English-language reviews of the film here and here. (Watch out for the spoilers.)

For fans around the world, the big question now is when — or if — the film will be shown in your market. IMDB lists the following international release dates:

Japan 1 December 2010

Taiwan 31 December 2010

Singapore 17 March 2011

Hong Kong 22 march 2011