Video games and the big screen

Giving away my age a bit but as a child of the 90s I grew up with Nintendo and Sega so Mario, Pokémon and Sonic were iconic characters I spent a lot of my childhood occupied with. Being a video game fan pretty much since I could hold a controller I like many of you have been burned by the attempts to bring video game characters to life in live action. That hope in my heart for the most part dashed every time with Super Mario Bros being one of if not the biggest disappoint of the adaptations. However there are a couple of exceptions like the Resident Evil which was actually an enjoyable experience and Warcraft which I didn’t mind. Being older and understanding how the entertainment industry works a bit better means the burns are minimal but the hope is still there for the winning formula for live action video game adaptations to be discovered.

There have been a few announcements in this regard but the biggest being for Pokemon:Detective Pikachu. There has already been a full length trailer released with Ryan Reynolds voicing the title character. This being an interesting choice given the numerous games of the franchise and the setting of a Tokyo-esque city with a noir setting, or at least as much as a Pokémon film can allow for. This angle is different than the main series of games that are more well know so the film does have my interest and curiousity to know more. Nintendo doing much better both financially and critically following the release of the Switch last year and the recent Pokemon:Let’s Go games it wasn’t a surprise with delivering Pokémon in another medium but a feature film starring Ryan Reynolds does show Nintendo isn’t being cautious about its properties.

As well as Detective Pikachu there was news about a live action Sonic the Hedgehog film in the works and even an image of the blue speedster. The still revealed of a shadowy Sonic who is much the same in appearance, seemingly average human height and of course has his signature spiky fur and red & white trainers. Little is known beyond that except it being clear he hasn’t missed much leg day. This is an intriguing development since the end of Sega consoles Sonic hasn’t been as popular or prominent especially compared to Mario and Pikachu so perhaps this is part of a surprising resurgence for the character. It seems to be very early in the production process but with progress so far I look forward to details about the character or plot. Given that over the years he has gathered allies and enemies alike and settings all over the world and even in outer space there is a lot of material to take from so no telling what tale will be told. As a fan of Sonic since the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis if you’re from North America) I can only hope he is given justice with the portrayal.

Not to dwell but the live action Super Mario Bros did fall short but the Switch has also brought Mario et al back to popularity with Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle and Super Mario Odyssey. With other games in the franchise such as Super Mario Party and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate released in 2018 it makes sense that with these game releases that a Mario film be in the pipeline. This has been rumoured for a while but seems to be animated as opposed to live action which given what went wrong with the 90s film a lot of that was the character design and appearance. With animation that gives more freedom and less practical restrictions and similar to Sonic, Mario and the others have been on adventures in a lot of different locations and environments so many options to bring to the big screen.

Well that's my take on films adapted from games but any further thoughts leave a comment or tweet me.

Marvel Trailers Dropped

What a week to miss on posting, again apologies been away due to illness but hopefully no significant gaps anytime soon. So last week we got a new Captain Marvel and a teaser for the latest Avengers film and will discuss these in detail and my thoughts and feelings on the MCU in general.

Building a teaser earlier in the year, we now have a full Captain Marvel trailer which didn’t disappoint. The focus here of course is Carol Danvers herself and something causing her to literally crash land in USA 1995 and team up with a younger Nick Fury, a digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson who has both eyes here. The source of her powers differs from the comics where it is a deliberate transfusion to become part Kree as explained by the unknown character played by Annette Bening and not by Mar-Vel going by what is shown. The trailer also shows what he already assumed, that the old woman given a mean right hook is a Skrull so is a more widespread invasion, possibly why Captain Marvel is on Earth or possibly something closer to home but more on that later.

It was already confirmed that Ben Mendelson is playing Talos and is a central figure in the Skrull plans for Earth and can be seen only briefly in the human disguise briefly but also perhaps in his true form and I believe some voice over in the trailer. The lack of time seeing him is interesting, perhaps to keep under wraps of the trailer focus firmly on Captain Marvel’s self discovery. Talos’ alter ego is a high ranking member of SHIELD and Fury’s boss which also seems a relevant part not just the team up with Fury but we see what likely is a SHIELD building where Captain Marvel finds a file with a photo of her from her time in the air force. Confirmed to be appearing but we don’t see at all is Phil Coulson in the trailer which may his last MCU film appearance so fingers crossed he does appear.

With setting up the broad arc for the character the trailer also doesn’t shy away from the action, we see more of the fight with the old woman on the bus but also a visually striking scene where Captain Marvel powers up Dragon Ball style and later changing from the green Kree armour to armour in red, blue and gold she is known for. As part of an incredible looking space battle we see a helmet akin to Star Lord’s in Guardians of the Galaxy which results in the well known mohawk from recent comics. Travelling in a car with Fury, Captain Marvel still regards the Kree in high esteem which seems to change as the story progresses but is unclear if the Kree are in fact the reason for the crash landing and memory loss. Given we know the powers don’t come from an accident involving Mar-Vel is becomes likely that Jude Law is instead playing Yon-Rogg. There is also credence to this as he doesn’t seem to have a very good relationship with our hero. One other character likely to be who we think is the ginger tabby named Goose is probably Chewie the cat, an ally to Captain Marvel with a prominent moment in the trailer.

The curse of 2 plus minute trailers is being more excited for a film but also some aspects being spoiled which I do feel is the case here but definitely booking a cinema ticket come next March. The tone at the end does seem a little cheesy with the line about not fighting the war but ending it which I’m hoping is a blip in the writing over at Disney owned Marvel Studios.

As well as a full length Captain Marvel trailer we also got a teaser for the upcoming Avengers film. First of all we know the full title is Avengers: Endgame which isn’t a huge surprise but is telling of where the MCU is likely heading. It starts off with a lone Tony Stark running out of air and food and drink while leaving a message for Pepper Potts, presumably trying to get back to Earth from Titan where we last saw him. Later in the trailer we see Nebula also on a spaceship so likely the same one. As if speaking to the audience also, saying to his helmet not to worry and “part of the journey is the end”. We all knew Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark would end and was rumoured to be the case at Age of Ultron but I can only hope for a more fitting send off than travelling in space.

Back on Earth we see Captain America and Black Widow coping with the heavy losses suffered and mourning the dead which going by the display also includes Shuri among those lost in Wakanda. For a moment we see a glimpse of Thor who has been imprisoned or in a self imposed exile sans axe and in regular clothes. Bruce Banner and the Hulk are noticeably absent and with so few Avengers left must be something kept under wraps. Missing from Infinity War, Hawkeye returns as Ronin who is an alter ego from the comics and is seen noticing Black Widow after he was won a fight in street. Given this behaviour it is likely that his family were among the 50% to killed by Thanos.

Alot of rumours going around that similar to the comics that the half of the universe killed are in fact inside the soul stone and how this means it is possible to get them back. Given she doesn’t appear in the teaser either it is possible she is key to returning that half back to reality. However the teaser does make a big deal of Scott Lang/Ant Man appearing and when we last saw him he was trapped exploring the subatomic realm. Given he is back means he may be able to enter and exit the soul stone and evacuate everyone. Only time will tell but my money is on Ant Man being key to that.

Personally more bittersweet is the this is likely also going to be the end for Chris Evans’ final appearance for which he has done a terrific job and personally my favourite of the Avengers. The teaser sets up he and Black Widow attempting a hail mary to return the universe to as it was and so wondering if something may happen in this attempt. However we do know Red Skull is back and having done his role as a guide regarding the soul stone he may have made his way back to Earth. Red Skull returning being no accident of course and so imagine will be part of something more significant.

Like Captain Marvel, this is a film I will see regardless and so look forward to seeing it and think I will skip it’s full length trailer and can only spoil it from here on.

Again I apologise for not posting much last week but hopefully this makes up for it.

Netflix Daredevil cancellation

Apologies for the late post, some family health issues but did give me some time to mull over the topic. Along with Iron Fist and Luke Cage being cancelled by Netflix we also found that Daredevil has also been cancelled from the streaming service. As it is Netflix the viewing figures aren’t available to measure but each show did follow up with a more critically successful season and did leave open ended for more so it was a surprise with this move, at least initially. Sadly too it is likely that for Jessica Jones and The Punisher their days are numbered too. Reports are that Daredevil will be returning in some form in the future so fingers crossed there.

Licensing the characters from Disney it does make you wonder if their own streaming service, Disney Plus is the reason behind this. I would imagine that Disney Plus is for their more child friendly content but it could be the case that a section will be for the more violent shows and films. A little less likely but the reason could also be Disney planning to make brand new content and reboot with the characters perhaps a cartoon or even bring Daredevil and others into the MCU films. If this is the route that is taken I am a little unsure how I feel about that since with the MCU and Disney, I don’t believe they would capture the dark nature of these characters like we saw on Netflix and so give a lesser quality representation.

The cancellations of these MCU shows on Netflix might be unrelated to plans Disney has for the characters. Netflix being an extremely popular streaming service does mean that Netflix can afford to take some risks with TV and film but given the costs involved in making and licensing these shows from Disney is a factor and given the overlap between shows with characters etc perhaps this wasn’t feasible anymore. Not knowing how financially successful the shows were it is tough to speculate but more expensive shows have been cancelled e.g. Marco Polo due to the costs involved.

Apologies for the shorter and late post but I am working on a review for Assassination Nation so check back in for that tomorrow or Monday.

Stan Lee passed away

A tragic loss to comic book and movie fans around the world were saddened to learn that yesterday, November 12th 2018, we lost Marvel comics creator and writer at the age of 95. Making comics since 1941, Lee in collaboration with others, notably Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko created some of the most famous characters even day ranging from X-Men to Black Panther to Spiderman still giants in popular culture today. Lee still involved with Marvel and well known for his cameos in the movie and TV resurgence since the early 2000s and most recently the 2018 Spiderman video game.

Lee now known to have been struggling with pneumonia and was rushed to hospital yesterday morning and is where he sadly died. He is survived by his daughter Joan Celia Lee. On a personal note Stan Lee has been a huge influence on my life with the characters he created and brought to life and is part of what made me the man I am today and for that I am grateful beyond words and I know many other people are too.

Rest in peace Mr Lee. 28/12/1922 – 12/11/2018

Follow JC Go!

Combining pokemon with mobile phone technology led to incredible success for Niantic with Pokemon Go with combining real world locations and with mobile phones play as a pokemon trainer in those locations. Pokemon Go Is still being added to and has been a massive commercial success since 2016 has led to similar games following Niantic’s lead but the latest of those Follow JC Go! from followers of the Catholic church in tracking down saints and other bible characters appearing on the phone screen instead of pokemon. The use of real world locations prompts users to pray if passing a church or for the sick if in a hospital as well as promoting donating to charity.

Inspired by Fundacion Ramon Pane, an Evangelical group, as part of the preparation for World Youth Day in January 2019 held in Panama. Playing the game you progress by collecting items such as food, water and spirituality and answering bible themed questions when coming across biblical figures akin to pokemon or pokestops but without the Japanese creatures. The game shares other traits with Pokemon Go, the in game map looks similar with Follow JC Go! and form groups called eTeams which also include other real players so gives the social component of Pokemon Go too.

While not involved in creation or development the game is supported by the Vatican and the pope and is an interesting approach to inspiring more people to involved in the Catholic faith so shall see where it leads and it would be equally interesting to see if this could be carried over into other religions and faiths and introducing people, particularly younger people to this.

Follow JC Go! is available on IOS and Android but currently only in Spanish but English and Italian versions are in the works.

UK petrol/diesel ban by 2032

I want to preface this post by saying that I do believe that climate change is real and the emissions we, humanity, create from burning of fossil fuels and other materials are a significant contributor to the destabilisation of the ozone layer. That combined with the fact that fossil fuels are a finite resource and in increasingly short supply and other solutions are needed. The news I am writing about is additionally relevant as I am a UK resident and is an important issue globally.

A new report from a parliamentary committee has triggered further pressure on the UK government to pull forward and be more definitive on the plan to be “effectively zero emission” by 2040 as stated by Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this year. The report gives the opinion of the current plan being “vague and ambiguous” as it stands and even calling for a plan to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2032 which would be more in line with European countries inc Ireland, Germany and Denmark planning their ban for 2030.

The change from petrol & diesel being no mean feat and the transition to alternative energy sources always something we have been aware of with the evidence signifying the effect on the environment but there is more to it than just carbon dioxide affecting the ozone layer. Poor air due particularly nitrogen oxides from sources primarily car exhausts has been linked to approximately 40,000 deaths from heart disease, lung disease and dementia such as Alzheimer’s.

Given the evidence of the effects of vehicle emissions it is important to make steps towards zero emissions more than ever but there is the impact on drivers and passengers of vehicles. Of the 31.5 million registered cars in the UK, 1.6% are plug in hybrids and 0.6% are fully electric with 6500 charging points UK wide available and more required for UK vehicles. This raises the obstacle of providing more suitably available charging points in terms of extending cabling but funding being available and charging point subsidies for employers to install at work places.

Another concern is the demand this would place on the national grid, as it stands with current charging technology the process takes approximately 8 hours but with intelligent drawing from the power grid & improved technology for charging car batteries could alleviate demand. Akin the power walls like with Tesla charging points can be set up at home but not possible for people with no off road parking or living in flats so would be using public charging stations. Given the current 8 hour charging time this would be difficult and so creation of more charging points being a major obstacle in the plan for zero emissions.

Steps are in place at the moment in the UK with funding towards their plan of lowering emissions including local authorities being given £4.5 million over the next 2 years for battery charging points. In addition to that more actively looking to tackle the problem of vehicle emissions before 2032 is looking at bigger offender vehicles and local councils getting £200 million. This will be looking at vehicles with higher emissions but also particular areas such as central London which has an exceptionally high nitrogen oxide emission count.

For the drivers and vehicle owners personally there of course is the benefit of being environmentally friendly by getting a hybrid or electric car but financially there is less incentive with starting next month stopping the plug in hybrid grant and lowering the electric car subsidy from £4500 to £3500. This does make it a bit more difficult for the transition when after the change happens when buying a new car when petrol and diesel are no longer available.

The changes only currently apply to car and vans but there are plans to have low emissions for other vehicles too. Public service & heavy good vehicles are expected to have the option of using natural gas or hydrogen instead with the aim of being ultra low emitters of nitrogen oxide gases and funding from the government of £23 million.

Cell grown meat

Recently in San Francisco, food company Just has developed a method of producing chicken nuggets after using just a few cells from a chicken feather instead of needing the whole animal. Over 2 days the cells are grown in a cellular medium with the use of a protein scaffold to get the desired structure. Opinions so far have found that at least tastes similar to traditionally made chicken nuggets. The process still taking 2 days and the cost involved means not ready for commercial mass production but is picking up from work began by others such as cell agriculture scientist Mark Post known for making a cell grown hamburger in 2013.

The work done by Just, Mark Post and others does raise alot of possibility and benefits that could come from developing and refining this process. Particularly in Western countries there is a high appetite for meat, 70 billion animals slaughtered to meet the demand and with the population increasing and by 2050 the demands for meat couldn’t be met and so cell grown meat could be the solution. Connected to this there is also a food scarcity already so only needing some cells could be a solution to starvation and associated diseases in other countries too.

Another benefit of cell grown as a source of meat is aside from the obvious limit cruelty to animals and not required to be slaughtered is that helps protect the environment by lowering waste & emissions from industrial farming. Given the demand still there would still be significant emissions and energy used however the technique used by Just would significantly lower animal suffering. Support has come from businesses and also investors such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson lend credence to the process of cell grown meat. Understandably there is also the worry that using this process still lends to demand for meat and how it relates to over consumption and obesity in Europe & USA.

Some other benefit of cell grown meat that I actually hadn’t initially considered are disease and also morality. Growing up in 90s UK I remember the impact of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease and how this impacted supply of beef and aware of similar outbreaks with infected cattle in USA and Europe with the threat still there with cases found in France back in 2016. Meat grown in labs from cells could prevent diseases like mad cow to maintain beef supply. Another point is some groups of people such as Muslim only eating Halal and vegetarians due to animal cruelty possibly now could eat meat and still respect their religion and moral view.

The method being utilised by Just has sparked the discussion and some steps have been taken in the US in respect to cell grown vs traditional grown meat. State legislators in Missouri have decided that the cell grown method can’t be labelled meat after being urged by farmers. Understandably for farmers and ranchers this can affect their livelihood but perhaps given the demand and cost involved this may change. Related to this is the perception of lab grown meat as ‘Frankenstein food’ and connected to the stigma of GM food but hopefully with the benefits and awareness this can be overcome.

Overall Just and Mark Post have made strides towards maintaining levels of meat to continue meeting demand as populations increases and more accommodating while being environmentally friendly and much better for livestock too. Technology has always developed to suit culture but this definitely case of necessity being the mother of invention so shall see what the future holds but I hope more people get on board for cell grown meat.