What Makes The Transfomers Film Series Bulletproof

To say that the Transfomers movies have not been critically acclaimed would be an understatement as Director Michael Bay has never been a darling of many film critics.

Many in the industry who cling to the notion that every film must be art and that the summer Popcorn Film is the death of cinema have cited Bay and his pyrotechnic laden films as examples with all that is bad with modern studio films.

It is not surprise that studio films put profit over quality as I had one studio exec once tell me that they would rather make a dozen pieces of garbage that make money than one that breaks even and sweeps the award shows. The reason given was that their job was to put butts in seats and dollars in the register not win awards. If they can all be done at the same time so much the better but the break even award winner is the film that can get people fired.

While we can lament the above as the sad state of audience’s fickle tastes and the need to dumb down content for the masses, one must wonder what it is about the Transformer films that makes them so bullet proof. I have heard people tell me that I do not agree with most critics and that when they say a film is bad, I see it as it means that I will likely enjoy it. They usually follow that by saying that I am fair with genre films as I get that a film should be judged according to it’s peers in the genre and films like “Transformers” are not ones that I should go into expecting great acting, storylines, or artistic statements.

While I have enjoyed many parts of the four films in the series, I would have to say that “Transformers: Age of Extinction” had several things that I did not like and that it was basically an overlong FX reel that even by Bay’s standards went way over the top and pretty much kissed up to the Chinese audience every step of the way.

Funny enough, the film has made more money in China than in the U.S. and has set records as the highest grossing film at the Chinese box office.

The four films have a critical score of 57%, 19% 36% and 17% amongst critics at Rotten Tomatoes, yet have earned big at the box office with the latest film taken in over $650 million worldwide since being released. One can pretty much bet that a 5th and 6th film will be following and we all know that Hasbro is reaping in bucks from the toy and video game deals that go with the surge in the films as well as animated offerings.

So what is it about the series that keeps it going despite the critical drubbings? I was in a restaurant on opening day for the film having seen it a few days earlier a press screening when I heard something interesting. A group of college age men were sitting at a table talking about seeing the film. One mentioned how he heard it was “absolutely awful” to which his friends said that they had heard that to. They then stood up from their table and said that they should get over to the cinema and check it out and that they should call from friends to join them.

While children and the parents that get dragged along often make up a good portion of the audience for the films, the fact is that it has in many ways become a train wreck. People go in expecting it to be a visual effects tour de force and little else and as such it has become almost a tradition to go when a new film in the series is released. Much like a car wreck, they know that nothing good is going to happen, but they cannot take their eyes off what they are seeing.

The curiosity and love of the characters from their childhood has undoubtedly helped make the film series such a huge success and the smart marketing by Paramount has developed legions of fans for the series the world over.

While reviewing films good, bad, and in between is what I do, I find that the series is a really tricky thing to pin down. You can easily rip the films apart for being long, thin on story, character development, plot, and logic, yet you cannot take your eyes off them.

Almost like a guilty pleasure I find myself going in to each film expecting the worst yet finding plenty of entertainment despite the issues. While much of the issues with the last film makes it really hard for me to tout it as a must see, I also tell people if you know what you are getting into going in and set your expectations accordingly you may have fun.

Like a moth to a flame, I am sure we will all be drawn to the next film in the series regardless of quality as there is just something about it that you cannot turn away from.


NVIDIA and Falcon Northwest Auctioning Off Custom PC for Charity

NVIDIA and Falcon Northwest have partnered together to build a one-of-a-ind gaming PC, and now they are auctioning it off!

They’re doing this to raise funds for the Philip Scholz Memorial Foundation, honoring an NVIDIA brother who was tragically killed this year when he heroically removed an individual from train tracks and was hit.

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The Foundation bearing Phil’s name provides scholarships to needs-based youth and promotes outdoor physical activities involving his favorite pastime: baseball.

The PC up for auction uses all the latest technology to deliver absolutely raging performance in a cool, quiet platform.  It starts with the award-winning GeForce GTX Titan Black, which is considered the world’s fastest single GPU.  And it includes Intel’s latest Core i7 CPU, the 4770K, running on an ASUS z87 Maximus motherboard loaded with 16GB of GSKILL DDR3 memory.  The storage system is based on two 1TB M50 SSDs from Crucial.  And it’s all wrapped up in an impressive chassis – the Tiki — customer designed in NVIDIA green, with a laser cutout window so everyone can see the beast that rages within.  To top it off, the entire system is fully warranted by Falcon Northwest.  Learn more in the video below.


As of the posting of this, the starting bid is $3,000 with no bids on the auction.

To learn more about Phil Scholz and the way he changed those around him, see his full story from the San Jose Mercury News.

Sakura-Con 2014 – After Thoughts from Three Perspectives

It’s been just over a week since the 2014 Sakura-Con.  Now that we at Skewed and Reviewed have had time to recuperate, we feels it’s time to give the low down on the con.  Our likes, our dislikes and what we might want to see in the coming years.  Though this is the first year we have attended the con in an official capacity, we have some contributors that are old-hands.  This report will be coming to you through the eyes of the noob, the novice and the veteran.  But first, here’s an introduction to the con from Lisa Heimbigner.

Sailor Moon!

Sakura-Con is the premium Anime and Japanese culture of the Pacific Northwest, gathering fans of not only anime, but also of manga and Japanese pop culture over Easter weekend every year.  This 3-day event takes place right in the heart of Seattle, at the Washington State Convention Center, and includes panels, a vendor hall and, of course, artist alley.  But let’s not forget, this con runs all day and all night.  Attendees also have access to the convention center at night for 24 hour gaming and movies, as well as a beat-bumping, laser-flashing spectacular of a dance that runs well into the night.  There is definitely something for everyone at this con.

But Sakura-Con is very different from Emerald City Comic Con, held in the same venue only a couple of weeks earlier, and other cons.  From the moment you arrive, it feels for like a festival than anything, and it invites con-goers to feel at home and enjoy the stay.  Its uniqueness is what has helped it grow over the years, and why so many people continue to attend year after year.

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Joseph Saulnier  The Noob – Joseph Saulnier, 1st time attending

Well, this is by first Sakura-Con and I honestly did not know what I was getting myself into.  Unfortunately, I did not get to enjoy the first day, but did get there that night and was able to enjoy the night time festivities.  When I was told the con was a 24 con before, I thought… that’s a cute way to put it, but doubted that it were true.  Boy was I wrong.  The first thing we did was head into the rave that runs until about 3 AM, and it was definitely spectacular.  The music was going, the lights and lasers abound… and up on the big screens they were running music videos and clips of anime that worked well with the music.  It was a great gathering, and it really seemed like everyone enjoyed being there, and being with those around them.   Even if the person standing next to you was portraying a Team Rocket character and you were there dressed as Bulbasaur.


After the dance we headed up to the gaming rooms, where everything was also in full swing.  They had a slew of non-next gen consoles setup, with the exception of the Wii-U.  They had PlayStation 2 and 3, the Xbox and Xbox 360, as well as the Wii and Wii-U.  Plus they had a ton of titles for each system that you could check out by offering your badge in trade (of course you would get it back).  They even had Just Dance set for the Wii, and boy was that entertaining.  Being broadcast on a large projector, crowds from anywhere between 4 and 50 would amass to all join in and dance with the players.  It was a spectacle to view, and even more so when I have recorded a few of the SKNR staff partaking in the fun.

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Gaming pretty much wrapped up our night, and we headed out in preparation for the next day.  Which is when I spent most of time in the Vendor Hall and Artist Alley.  There is no shortage of want in either of these areas.  If there is something you like, whether it is anime or not, it’s probably somewhere here.  T-shirts, collectibles, key-chains, video games, cosplay accessories… the vendors have it.  The great thing that I saw here was that a majority of the merchandise is actually really good quality.  I have been to cons in the past where you walk out with something you think is awesome, only to get home to see something you didn’t notice, or find the it not as quality as you thought.  I actually didn’t have that worry here.  I don’t know if there is some sort of vendor-vetting, or if the vendors simply respect their customers more, but whatever it is… keep it up.

There was also a great assortment of artists, in various ranges and styles.  From very elaborate perler bead displays, to incredibly detailed sketches and commissions… there was something from everyone.  They even had a vendor taking the much adored TV and movie actors and the characters they portray, and placing them onto body pillow cases.  This way you ladies, and some gentlemen, could have a nice cozy night with those that you love so much.

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With more gaming and dancing the second night, we went into the third day a little bogged down from the weekend.  But still just as energetic to get out there and check out the sights.  Unfortunately, though, we did not get to any panels.  But I was looking at them and didn’t understand some of what they were offering anyway.  I was a fan of anime when I was in high school, but sadly have not kept over the years.  Sakura-Con is clearly a convention for established fans of the genre, but I did not see a lot to invite new fans in, or help to find something that they might like.  I think I would like to see more of that next year.

Cosplay.  Cosplay is an immense thing at Sakura-Con.  My biggest issue was I didn’t know what half the people are supposed to be.  But that’s my problem, something I hope will be mostly corrected by next year.  From the incredibly simple, to the intricately elaborate, they were there.  And the greatest part was the photo shoots. Established time when you could meet with people who have cosplayed from the same anime or universe that you did, and you just socialize, take individual pictures, and a huge group picture.  Of course not every anime or manga, or even non-illustrated media was represented by this, but it was great to see the big gathering of Pokemon and Attach on Titan.

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20140419_141244  The Novice – Lisa Heimbigner, 3rd time attending

My favorite part is to walk through Freeway Park and view all the cosplayers during their photo shoots.  There are always a lot of anime, manga, and other categories represented, but this year it seemed like Frozen and Attack on Titan were the thing.  They were everywhere.  For the panel-goer, you will find panels that range from anime speed dating to interviews with your favorite Hetalia character. The gaming hall has everything from retro games, to table top, card and console gaming.  Playing Just Dance with 10 people on a floor-to-ceiling screen at 1 AM will have you never looking at the game the same way again.

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For me, Sakura-Con has an unchanging format from the last few years.  The convention layout has stayed the same, allowing it to be easier to find where your favorite sites are each year.  The con has become more user friendly though, employing more avenues to communicate in the months before hand to coordinate photo shoots and meet-ups.  The convention organizers have done a great job of recognizing when something isn’t broken, you shouldn’t fix it.

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IMAG0428  The Veteran – Michelle Muhlbeier, 13th time attending

I recently had a conversation with a coworker, and by conversation I really mean debate, about the level of surety that I was going to a “Con”.  His argument was that it should be called “The Con”, and the ensuing explanation made me realize just how long I’ve been doing this.  Of course “this” being the anime convention circuit.  I was 15 when I started, and at 28 I’ve seen a lot of changes.  The conventions have been everywhere from small hotels in Everett, WA with a cost of $30, to filling the Washington State Convention Center to capacity with a $65 price tag.  The debate continued because I believe one doesn’t just go to the con like one goes to the grocery store.  You Go To Con. And it isn’t just a weekend, one day or even just a few hours.  It’s an event.  I’ve traveled for hours in cars crammed with props and suitcases for precisely that reason.  I’m going to an event.

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I can remember a time when cosplay was someone throwing on their orange sweats and a Naruto headband over their bathroom bleach job.  They were considered cosplayers.  They poured their heart and every ounce of confidence into that cosplay, and it showed.  Their fearlessness was nothing short of admirable.  Over the years, I’ve watched the trends change (even participating in a few myself), but they could always be predicted by what the big anime was at the time.  Nowadays, you would never see that kid with their heart on their sleeve in just sweatpants.  The ante has been upped.  If your desired cosplay can’t be found online to wear wholly, then you make it yourself.  Sometimes you stay for hours, or days, at a time working on it.  Even sometimes finishing it in the hotel room 30 minutes before the con opens.  13 years ago cosplay outfits couldn’t be purchased at the drop of a hat with a wireless connection and PayPal.  Your beautiful, adorable Lolita frills and flowers had to be made.  And the intricacies of Steam Punk… not even a thing then.  Ponder that.

This year, I saw more Disney’s Frozen and Attack on Titan than I ever thought possible.  It was like Naruto and Bleach had a second coming.  Call me old, or just old-fashioned, but I have been at this for a while and don’t remember Disney ever being anime.  Don’t get me wrong.  I commend every single cosplayer for doing what they do, but Disney has never been anime.  It is in its own category altogether: Disney.  Not that Disney cosplayers don’t have a place, but this is an anime convention.  Disney is animation, but ANIME to the veteran fan will always mean Japan, Sailor Moon, Geta sandals and terrible imports that I paid more than I should have.

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On top of the excess Disney, I have to remark on the 14-16 year olds wearing next to nothing, but lacking the confidence in themselves to pull it off, which is a crime brought on by social pressures.  First, there is no such thing as an age appropriate cosplay, but kids… if you are going to put on your fishnets and boots and be Harley Quinn, you better be ready to strut your little hearts out cause that character has moxie.  But there-in lies my point.  Most of these kids are picking their cosplays based on how scandalous the outfit is, not because they feel any affinity/love for them.  Tragic.

Location is everything.  As I previously stated, I started going to Con when Sakura-Con was still known as Baka-Con and was held in whichever hotel they could get to agree to the madness.  I remember one year it was held in two hotels, and you had to walk a block between them for the dealer’s room and events.  This atmosphere forced us to mingle.  But who better to mingle with then other people who the same love for something that you did.  It was a good space too, and when they moved to the WSCC it got even better!  I had room to roam with people like me, and there were wall to wall theaters playing anime movies I was never going to be able to see otherwise.

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So Sakura-Con moved to the WSCC, and nerds everywhere rejoiced.  For a few years at least.  I’m still happy with the move, don’t get me wrong.  Artist’s Alley went from a hallway in a hotel to half a storage building, at least it feels that way.  The dealers’ room was no longer in the same space where they served breakfast.  We now have raves, formal dances and the space has served us so well it has essentially become a conclave of nerds and geeks.  But at the same time, I feel it has taken something from us as a group.  The hotel allowed for a more intimate setting; a place that almost forced us to befriend the person standing next you.  But the WSCC, for some reason, makes you turn a blind eye to the person next to you.

When I started this roller coaster, the community was small and we were all strangers who loved a culture.  Now I go to Con knowing I will meet people.  Some of the nicest people I’ve ever known.  However, the methods we used are forever changed and we can never go back.  But why would we?  We are a movement!  Everyone has a hobby; it’s a basic truth of life.  But Con-goers, we wear our hobby in public with leather, lace and sequins.  We regret nothing, except maybe the odd poor shoe choice.  How many people can say or do what we do?  How many people have the courage to walk outside in crowded placed with ears on their head, or laced into their corset, all while adopting a whole new persona to fit the outfit.  The answer is not many… Or maybe 42.  So while I have aged, and Con has changed in so many ways, it is still an event that brings joy and new experiences.  Not all changes are for the better, but this is our chance to show the world all that we are.

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Exclusive Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 News and Press Release

We spoke with a source connected to the game and we are reporting that Black Ops 2 is set in the 80s and the future, South America figures in the story. The game has nothing to do with the present according to the source who told us that 80% of the improvements and new stuff in the game have yet to be revealed and the trailer was just a taste of what is in store. They also indicated that it would verly likely be shown to us at E3 in June.

Updated with full press release….

Near Future Setting, Branching Storylines, Advanced Weaponry and New Graphics Technology Combine to Deliver the Most Ambitious Call of Duty to Date

THE FUTURE IS BLACK™ on November 13, 2012

Santa Monica, CA – May 2, 2012 – Call of Duty®: Black Ops II delivers the most groundbreaking and visceral Call of Duty® experience ever Set in the year 2025, Call of Duty: Black Ops II propels players into global conflict featuring advanced weaponry, robotics, and drone warfare in a new Cold War scenario whose seeds are being sown in today’s headlines. New graphics technology drives the stunning cinematic action of the single-player campaign’s branching storylines and non-linear missions.

“Hands down, this is the most ambitious Call of Duty ever,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing. “We are bringing disruptive innovation to the franchise and we are doing it on several fronts. We’re pushing the boundaries technologically, graphically, and from a narrative and gameplay perspective. At the same time, we need to stay true to the epic realism, authenticity, heart pumping adrenaline, and cinematic action that so many people love and expect from a Call of Duty game. Treyarch’s vision for Call of Duty: Black Ops II will redefine the Call of Duty franchise for the future–both literally and figuratively.”
“With Call of Duty: Black Ops II, the team is crafting an experience that Call of Duty fans have never seen before,” said Mark Lamia, Studio Head for Treyarch. “We are challenging assumptions on every front, with the single player campaign, Zombies and multiplayer. In the campaign, we are creating a thought-provoking story that introduces branching storylines and meaningful choices that impact the narrative. Running in the multiplayer engine for the first time, Zombies gives players a bigger and more diverse set of gameplay experiences, as well as entirely new ways to wage war with the undead. And in multiplayer, we’re embracing all skill levels and play styles to give players more ways to engage. With Call of Duty: Black Ops II, we’re all in and we won’t rest until we’ve launched nothing less than the best Call of Duty we’ve ever made”

On November 13th award-winning developer Treyarch and Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI), will deploy the sequel to the universally acclaimed Call of Duty®: Black Ops, which following its launch in 2010 set the record for the biggest entertainment launch in history. Call of Duty: Black Ops II has not yet been rated. For more information, visit Official Site or follow Call of Duty: Black Ops II on Facebook and on Twitter at #BlackOps2.

BlizzCon 2011

Thank you to Desi Javier for helping me with our coverage and for his assistance with this review.

Blizzard Entertainment has long been associated with quality games that not only set standards for gaming but also inspire legions of highly devoted fans. With titles that include Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo series and the phenomenally popular World of Warcraft, Blizzard has long been one to give the fans what they want.

Five years ago they started BlizzCon, a convention where gamers could gather to learn about, see, and play the pending projects from the company. The first convention was a smash success, every year since BlizzCon sells out very quickly, because fans know it is more than a convention, it is a two-day party complete with rock concerts, and a professional gaming tournament.

This year over 26,000 fans descended upon the Anaheim convention center, many decked out in costumes dedicated to their favorite Blizzard characters. Prior to lining up, attendees get a gift bag complete with a collectable figure and many convention exclusives such as the digital pets that can only be obtained by those attending the convention or purchasing the live stream of the convention. This year’s collectible figure was a mini Tyral from Diablo III from Sideshow Collectibles and this year’s digital pet was a Diablo-inspired murloc for WoW.

Once I checked in, I took my seat and waited for the opening ceremonies to begin. Quite a bit early, I took some time to speak with several attendees about what they hoped and expected to see and hear. Many said they expected to hear about the next expansion for WoW as well as what to expect in Diablo III and Starcraft II: The Heart of the Swarm.

Once the show started, the president of the company summarized 20 years of Blizzard and talked about the $300K tournament that would happen that weekend, the Foo Fighters concert, Jay Mohr’s return as host, and many other topics. Since the fans were there to see and hear about games, the video screens came alive with a new trailer from the pending Diablo III which underscores the amazing graphics and deep nature of the game and its story. Starcraft II: The Heart of the Swarm followed which showed off a darker storyline and several new units and a Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) multiplayer mode complete with several classic Blizzard characters.

WoW was what many came to hear about, and they were not disappointed. The unveiling of the new add-on was preceded with the news that players who purchase a 12 month advance pass would also get an exclusive in-game mount, access to the expansion beta, and a copy of Diablo III.

The new expansion Shadows of Pandaria was announced to a thunderous ovation. Shadows of Pandaria will follow all-out war between the Horde and Alliance in a land of peace and tranquility that is populated by the Pandarians. The Pandarians are panda-like creatures who are a Monk class as well as master brewers and martial arts experts. It was also announced that pet versus pet combat will be allowed.

Following the opening ceremonies guests were able to get hands-on time with the new expansion as well as the other pending games. I took the time to explore the convention floor and talk with many of the vendors and checked out the Blizzard-themed products as well as the latest in tech accessories promoted to enhance the gaming experience.

Blizzard knows how difficult it can be to cover all the panels available. When I went to the press room to upload pictures and videos I was happy to see several TV screens that allowed us to see catch panels in session, while we worked and waited for interview appointments or the next panel.

The finale concert by The Foo Fighters capped a great weekend filled with gaming, fun, and music, and underscored that Blizzard really cares about their fans and is dedicated to giving them more of what they love. I had a great time at the convention and while I obtained lots of information, I was disappointed that I did not get any new information on the Warcraft movie or the new MMORPG called Titan. Still for fans of Blizzard, the weekend long party was an event not to be missed and I look forward to seeing what they have in store for us in 2012.

The Best & Worst of 2010

2010 was a solid year at the box office with plenty of good films for both the mainstream and critical audiences. I have compiled a list of our top films of the year as well as some of the worst. I decided to mix it up a bit and not give the standard list of dramatic films which are sure to dominate the awards season.

Yes, those films are being included, but I believe that there were various genre films that really captured the essence of their core audiences expectations, and as such should be recognized, as not every film needs a complex story and outstanding acting to be a satisfying experience and worth of merit.

The Best of 2010

The Social Network

A solid story and top flight cast keeps this film riveting from start to finish. The incredible, if albeit dramatically enhanced, story of the creation of Facebook is a compelling human drama which gets the most out of its cast and source material to deliver one of the best films of the year.

127 Hours

James Franco and Director Danny Boyle have crafted a gripping and intense human drama about just how far a person is willing to go to survive. While the story was widely told in the news media, Boyle manages to maintain a sense of tension and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Franco gives a masterful performance and despite the gory content, the uplifting story is one of the best ever told.

The Kings Speech

Colin Firth gives an outstanding performance in this very well-made historical story of how a speech defect hindered the installment of King George the VI to the British throne when his brother suddenly abdicated the position. Firth gives an Oscar-worthy performancem, as does Geoffrey Rush, with and strong supporting cast.

The Fighter

Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg give dramatic performances that will not soon be forgotten in this gripping true story of two brothers who battle each other over the paths their lives have taken them. Both Wahlberg and his character are given a stunning shot in the limelight with this movie.

True Grit

Jeff Bridges follows his Oscar win last year with another film that is destined to land him as contender this year. The Coen brothers’ take on the John Wayne classic is a dark and gripping tale of a bitter old law man (Bridges) who embarks on a quest to help a young girl avenge the death of her father.

The Expendables

Ok, the acting and story were not great, but Sylvester Stallone crafted a fun throwback to the action films of old and by surrounding himself with a bevy of action stars, gave fans the testosterone fueled throw down that they had sadly been missing from the current group of action films and proved that the old guys can still deliver.


While it was formulaic in parts, Angelina Jolie and Director Philip Noyce gave us a solid Cold War era thriller that despite some plot holes, was a gripping and thrilling adventure that was filled with twists and turns and plenty of action.


The twisting plotline of the film, the solid special effects and the ending, that is still debated by millions, underscored that this was not your simple popcorn flick. The movie cleverly lets the audience make up its own mind as to what is really going on and makes you question the true meaning of reality and happiness.

Toy Story 3

If this is indeed the final chapter in the beloved series, they went out on a high note with this funny and emotional tale of love, friendship, growing older, and letting go. The cast is in rare form and the jokes are as fresh and effective as the amazing animation by the wizards at Pixar.

The Worst of 2010

There were so many to pick from this year that I decided to focus on the ones that stood out the most to me.

The Last Airbender

From the pathetic 3D conversion to the abandoning of the source material and look of the characters, M. Night Shyamalan continued his box office free fall with this clunker.

Grown Ups

With a cast loaded with funny people it was shocking how bad this film was. I love many of Adam Sandler’s films and know the formula he uses for success. This one however came off like something that they made up as they went along.

Jonah Hex

You have a top notch cast, a popular graphic novel, and a tale of revenge, yet this film was so bad, it is destined to land on most of the worst of the year lists. So bad, its hard to even suggest it as a dollar rental at Red Box.

There are others that come to mind, but I figured quality over quantity as in this case, less is definitely more.

Tron: Legacy – Technical Fun Facts

“TRON: Legacy” is:
• the first 3D movie to integrate a fully digital head and body based upon an existing actor (Jeff Bridges’ younger self).
• the first movie to make extensive use of self-illuminated costumes.
• the first movie to create molded costumes using digital sculpture exclusively (skipping clay sculptures all together), creating molds directly from computer files using CNC (Computer Numerical Cutting) technology.
• the first 3D movie shot with 35mm lenses (Zeiss Master Primes) and full-35mm chip cameras (the new Sony F35).
• the first live-action movie to use a Headcam (Vicon-based custom rig re-designed) for on-set performance capture.
• the first movie to use a videogame company (EA) for MoCap (both On-Set and Volume-based).

• About 35 minutes of visually stunning footage was specifically designed to maximize the screen for IMAX theatergoers. Several sequences on the Grid expand in IMAX 3D, eliminating the letterbox effect, thereby allowing audiences to become even more immersed in the massive scope and scale of “TRON: Legacy.”
• “TRON: Legacy” was shot in 3D and the filmmakers employed the newest generation of camera, built specifically for them. They used a 3D technique that is a combination of technologies—completely digital motion-capture of a character and the live-action camera system.
• The lighted suits were created by using electroluminescent lamps made from a flexible polymer film. Most of the form-fitting suits were made out of foam latex, but the Sirens’ suits were made by spraying balloon rubber over spandex, giving an incredible, super-sleek shape.
• Many of the vehicles were also practically built for certain scenes, in keeping with director Joseph Kosinski’s desire to constantly blur the line between CGI and reality. The filmmakers contracted a company called Wild Factory, who builds prototypes for Volkswagen, to take on the task of bringing some of the vehicles to reality.
• The light discs that were created for the film consist of 134 LED lights, are radio-controlled and attached to the light suits with a magnet. They also house the batteries and electronics that power the light suits.
• The filmmakers wanted “TRON: Legacy” to be grounded in a sense of reality and have a sense of scientific truth, so they reached out to the National Academy of Sciences’ Science and Entertainment Exchange to advise them.

BlizzCon 2010

by Jeff Lange and Trista Olson

What’s that stampede of thousands of pale-skinned, darkly clothed, screaming and cheering gaming fans? That’s right! It’s that time of year again! Blizzcon 2010!

Every year Blizzcon gets a little bit better at handing out badges and organizing the convention goers prior to entry. The addition of a barcode system emailed in advance provided a sort of ticket to get your ticket made the long line as simple as it could hope to be.

And let’s talk about the goodie bags. Oh yes, the goodie bags. The legendary bag of loot often-lusted, even dreamed about! In game giveaways this year were a World of Warcraft “Deathy” pet and special decals for your Starcraft 2 units. The feature goodie this year was a dragon statue known as “Dethling” that really pops! There were far fewer elements to this year’s goodie bag, but in terms of quality over quantity, I definitely think Blizzard got it right with opting to go with one excellent item rather than 10 different boxes of mints, a bouncy ball, etc. Dethling now oversees my entire operation from a perch of honor on top of my computer system.

Very early on during the opening ceremony we were told we could pick up our souvenir program (which was conspicuously missing from the goodie bag) immediately following the opening ceremony. “Yeeeessss!” I thought. “That means there’s going to be a major announcement they don’t want spoiled by the program!” Would it be news about their next MMO? News about the movie? An entirely new game? Blizzard games moving onto console platforms? Would the news be as exciting as any of those things? No. No it would not.

So what WAS the big news at this year’s Blizzcon? A Diablo class was announced. No, I’m not kidding. You may remember Blizzcon 2008, where the only major announcement was that a caster class would be present in Diablo 3. They did it again. This year, we learned that in Diablo 3 there will also be characters that shoot arrows. This time it will be known as a Demon Hunter. If the Amazon and the Assassin from Diablo 2 created a lovechild, the Demon Hunter would be the result.

Minor announcements include an arena system of PvP for Diablo, the ability to downloadable Cataclysm expansion for World of Warcraft, and does anyone remember the WoW movie they said they were working on 2 years ago? They have a director – Sam Raimi. Any news about the next-gen MMO they’ve been hiring for and working on for years? Nope. “Don’t expect any sort of information about that this year or next.” Much like the lackluster Blizzcon of 2008, the 2010 version had very little in the way of breaking information about Blizzard Entertainment’s plans for the future. A great disappointment for sure after the wealth of exciting developments discussed and put forth at Blizzcon last year. When discussing the lack of new information present at this year’s event with a veteran of every Blizzcon all the way back to 2005, she pursed her lips and sighed, calling this year’s event “Disappointing” and “the most boring one yet.”

The lack of news about future works was exacerbated by the massive lines that pervaded the entirety of the convention. It appears that many of the smaller vendors present at Blizzcons past were either not invited or chose not to attend this year’s event, meaning the lines at the vendors who were present were absolutely flooded and overwhelmed by convention-goers. The craziest story I heard was from a man who stood in line over FOUR hours for the infamous swirling “Loot Elemental” booth. His reward for standing in line for over 240 minutes? Nothing. Good game sir, now go get in another line. Now of course Blizzard cannot control who stands in what line, but when the main gaming attractions consist of a 10 minute playable demo (Diablo 3), a few custom games for Starcraft 2, and a small snippet of a beta that has been going on all summer long (WoW: Cataclysm), convention goers will be angling for more to do.

So what was offered in the stead of new information? Panels. Lots and lots of panels. And they were good! They have always been insightful and educational and Blizzcon 2010 was no different. The problem is that they do not generate buzz. There was no buzz at Blizzcon this year. Instead of being absorbed in excitement and hearing all the chatter of what’s next to come, Blizzcon 2010 had all the excitement and energy of an art museum.

The nightly events served as a cap to each day of the convention. Jay Mohr was back to serve as MC for the costume and dance contests, and his unique blend of sarcasm, humor, and wit played nicely to the gamer crowd. This year however, he was paired up with Kat Hunter, who served as a co-host for the event. In as much as Mohr succeeded as a vibrant host for the event, Ms. Hunter dragged down the energy. She seemed completely out of her element, unable to respond to Mohr’s blend of humor, and wins the award for Best Stick-in-the-Mud at Blizzcon 2010. Blizzard would be wise to let Mohr work the show solo at future Blizzcons, or at least find him a suitable partner. He understands what it should all be about.

The stage design for the costume contest can be described in no other words but “Epic Fail.” The contest was dragged to a snail’s pace as instead of “oooing” and “ahhing” over the excellent costume work, fans got to watch cos-players play a unique game of Frogger as they struggled to walk up and down ramps and stairs in their elaborate costumes. That’s right, you know that costume you just worked 6 months on? Good luck keeping it from breaking while trying to get on the stage! Seriously, this is something that should never have happened and it is atrocious that, for so many costume designers, their one moment of recognition was ruined.

The final concert featuring Tenacious D was excellent. It seems that Blizzard has finally (and wisely) put their tongue-in-cheek metal band “Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftan” to rest and let Jack Black, Kyle Gass, and the band bring the roof down on the Anaheim Convention Center. It’s hard to imagine a better choice of band to rock the lives of this demographic. Kudos to Blizzard for getting this one right! It’s just disappointing that the biggest highlight of Blizzcon 2010 came from a group totally unaffiliated with Blizzard Entertainment.

“OCEANS” Motion Picture Opens on Earth Day

BURBANK, Calif. (April 15, 2010) – “OCEANS” won’t open till Earth Day, yet 400,000 moviegoers have already bought tickets to catch the movie in its opening week and protect coral reefs in the process. The “See ‘OCEANS,’ Save Oceans” initiative has bolstered ticket sales for the film; Disneynature’s pledge to make a contribution in honor of everyone who sees the motion picture between April 22-28 has already translated to more than 790 acres of marine protected area in The Bahamas—and that number is still growing with advance ticket sales on the rise and the April 22-opening just a week away.

“With 400,000 tickets sold so far, Disneynature’s second film is making a huge splash and saving coral reefs along the way—and ‘OCEANS’ hasn’t even opened yet,” said Chuck Viane, president, distribution, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. “Coral reefs are essential to the global ecosystem; we’re already on our way to establishing more than 790 acres of new marine protected areas—that’s the equivalent of about 600 football fields or nearly the size of New York City’s Central Park—and sales are still going strong.”

Disneynature will make a contribution to one of the largest conservation organizations in the world, The Nature Conservancy, to save coral reefs in honor of each moviegoer who sees OCEANS during opening week (April 22-28). Through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, Disneynature and The Nature Conservancy will help establish new marine protected areas in The Bahamas. For more details on Disneynature’s collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, please visit: www.disney.com/Oceans.

“The environmental community of The Bahamas is excited about Disney’s commitment to preserving our precious coral reefs,” said Eleanor Phillips, Northern Caribbean program director for The Nature Conservancy. “No matter where you live, everyone depends on our oceans for many of our most basic needs like food and medicine. After witnessing decades of exploitation and neglect of our coral reefs, it honestly makes my heart sing to see so many people working together to advance this important cause.”

The 700 islands that comprise The Bahamas contain miles of vital coral reefs, which are the foundation of a healthy ocean environment, providing shelter, nurseries and feeding grounds for hundreds of marine species, including dolphins, sea turtles and a wide range of fish. Scientists estimate that the coral reefs of the Caribbean could be gone within 50 years without a network of well-managed marine protected areas.

With generous support from Disneynature, The Nature Conservancy has recently launched its Adopt-a-Coral-Reef program (adopt.nature.org/coralreef/) in The Bahamas. The Nature Conservancy is working to protect the coral reefs in The Bahamas and other critical locations throughout the Caribbean and around the world. As a leading global conservation organization, The Nature Conservancy manages more than 100 marine conservation projects in 31 countries and in all U.S. coastal states.

Disneynature, the studio that presented the record-breaking film “Earth,” brings OCEANS to the big screen on Earth Day, 2010. Nearly three-quarters of the Earth’s surface is covered by water and OCEANS boldly chronicles the mysteries that lie beneath. Directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud dive deep into the very waters that sustain all of mankind—exploring the harsh reality and the amazing creatures that live within. Narrated by Pierce Brosnan and featuring spectacular never-before-seen imagery captured by the latest underwater technologies, OCEANS offers an unprecedented look beneath the sea in a powerful motion picture that unfolds on April 22, 2010. For more information, visit disney.com/Oceans, become a fan on Facebook: facebook.com/Disneynature or follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/Disneynature.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Nature Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.

The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has advanced Disney’s legacy of conservation to inspire people and partnerships to protect the world’s wildlife. To date, the DWCF has granted more than $14 million in 110 countries. DWCF is a Disney initiative to support conservation and animal welfare and is not a US 501(c)(3) public charity. More information about DWCF’s efforts for wildlife, wild places and the people linked to their survival, is available at www.disney.com/conservation.