Z Nation Finally Gets Z Nado

Z Nation Finally Gets Z Nado

Z Nation finally gets down to what was apparently their target all along, Z Nado. It seems a foregone conclusion that the company who brought Sharknado one and two to SyFy would feel compelled to add a little tornado action in this tongue-in-cheek zombie fest. Before the twisters come in and start slinging zombies all over the place, the team take a time out for some R & R along with a little additional bonding.

Junk Shiryōgari (2000): Yakuza, Robbers and Zombies

Filmed in 1999 this schlocky bit of fun is a remake of a Japanese Mafia film called Score. Both were directed and written by Atsushi Muroga and both films pay tribute to the films Reservoir Dogs although Junk specifically pays tribute to Re-Animator and the original Dawn of the Dead. [Courtesy of Wikipedia]

The film is about a joint American/Japanese science experiment that deals with re-animating dead tissue. Due to a mistake, the experiment creates zombies. While the experiment is going on, a bunch of thieves rob a jewellery store that belongs to a Yakuza gang.

The thieves run for their lives being chased by the police and the Yakuza. The thieves take refuge in the building where the experiment has gone awry and pretty soon it’s every “man” for himself as the military, Yakuza and jewel thieves all fight zombies and each other.

Now this film is not going to win any awards for the acting. It is a real toss-up between the American General and the Japanese scientists English speaking as to who comes off worse. For my money it is the General hands down. I have never laughed so hard as during the scene where someone comes into the General’s office. His acting in the scene should have won a giant Raspberry.

But bad acting aside, it is one hell of a fun movie to watch and the main zombie (complete with white hair) is kind of scary and pretty much indestructible. Things do get a bit confusing in the middle and there could have been a few more Yakuza, but it all works out at the end.

The main has to do with the drug that the two governmental agencies have developed. The drug gets out of control with a bit of help by the first zombie. It then reanimates every dead thing it comes in contact with; creating an army of aggressive corpses.

There is a sort sub-plot about the scientist and the dead girl that they are experimenting on. She is either his fiancé (or rather was) or girlfriend and he’s hoping that the experiment will bring her back in a good way. But she comes back with scary white hair and one hell of an attitude that shows just what a bad idea this was.

The film is a little bit predictable in the ending, with the two characters that most people will pick as the obvious survivors. Until the end though the action is fast and furious and at times almost claustrophobic in places; it’s a great ride and the Yakuza with their bad-boy attitudes are quite funny.

If you are looking for a witty doppelgänger for Shaun of the Dead or the scariness of the Dawn of the Dead remake, you’ll be disappointed. But if you like your zombies wild, wacky and damn near unstoppable you’ll love Junk.

If you get a chance to see this you should. The atrocious acting by the American actor (who was obviously taken off of the local US Army base or the American Embassy) in his scenes with the scientist are worth the price of admission alone.

Not a “star” movie by any means, but a movie that is just so much fun to watch; you won’t forget it. Like the dead corpses that are inadvertently brought back to life (repeatedly) in the film, it will keep popping up in your head long after you see it.

 

Walking Dead Fever…

So this year, Meg and I decided (in between everything else going on) to devote a huge amount of time playing video games as we’ve both been a bit slack in that area of fun for a while now. First on the agenda (or play list) was The Walking Dead: The Game.

I had been watching the developer’s on-line “diary” of this game as they updated on a regular basis what they had done and where they were in the whole process. Telltale Games, the developers in question, were trying to push the boundaries a bit and not only come up with a game that would resonate with the existing Walking Dead franchise, but, they were also trying to breathe new life into the old “adventure” game.

Walking Dead is a “point and click” game with echoes of role play ala Mass Effect. The gaming community received the games release with a kind of euphoric instant acceptance that appears to be more for the “subject” of the game than the actual game itself. The Walking Dead has been popular with folks first as a graphic novel series, then as a television program based on the novels for quite some time.

Just one snapshot of the ever changing group in The Walking Dead.

The game does not follow the telly program, which did surprise me a lot, but the next iteration of The Walking Dead game verse will. Fans of the books will be pleased with the game though. It looks like you have stepped into a volume of them. The art work screams graphic novel and it works extremely well for the game.

The game play itself is a bit of a mixed bag. In some ways it is simple and direct, but in other ways it can be stupidly frustrating. It was probably just me, but I had a hell of a time moving the R3 and L3 together for “easier” movements and object searches. In the area of shooting the infected, it was too easy. When you pulled your gun and got ready to send a “walker” to zombie heaven, all you were given was a “box” like aiming area, no cross hairs or aiming features like Uncharted for example.

This caused me no end of problems at first. I kept dying as I tried to aim at a walker head. It took me literally ages to figure out that as long as you kept the zombie in the box, you were going to hit it. Once I got used to it, however, I was despatching walkers with the ease of an Annie Oakley shootist. Of course, then it got too easy and the end consequence was that it lost a lot in enjoyment value.

Like other games that are flooding the market at the moment, The Walking Dead has more than its fair share of glitches. Most of them were downright funny. Lilly with her invisible rifle, Omid lying in mid-air, to name just two; but some interfered with game play and were infuriating. There was an apparent frame rate issue that slowed action (or stopped completely) changing the outcome of that particular challenge.

It frustrates me that a company like Telltale Games will spend so much money on publicizing their product but will so obviously cut back on expenditure of quality assurance checks to make sure the game play flows smoothly. Anytime that a glitch changes the outcome of an event in the game, the glitch then becomes non-acceptable from the player’s point of view; and player is spelt C-O-N-S-U-M-E-R guys.

My overall experience with The Walking Dead was positive. I enjoyed the game, the story, and the graphics. I did not enjoy the glitches and the obvious “copying” of the role play element that worked so well in the Mass Effect verse. And copying it most definitely was, the difference being that you really did not change any of the “important” elements of the game by your decisions.

*And before I get my head bitten off here, yes I know that ultimately, when you finished ME3 your choices did not count for squat either, but, originally that was not the plan.*

What does confuse me is how The Walking Dead garnered so many awards, accolades, and almost universal acceptance as being the crème de la crème of all the games released in 2012. I can only shake my head and wonder if it has to do with “cross-merchandising” between the novels and the television series.

I haven’t said a lot about the story, but really there is no need to spend a lot of time here. The main protagonist is Lee, who is on his way to prison after murdering his wife and her Senator boyfriend. After the officer driving hits a “walker” and crashes, you play as Lee and eventually meet and befriend Clementine. Once you two “hit the road” you meet the first of the many folks you will encounter on your mission of trying to unite Clem with her folks.

The group dynamics change and flow as there are power struggles and leadership questions. Just as changing are the members of the group, who die off either getting munched by one of the undead or by natural causes. Not really any different from any zombie apocalypse film you seen or game you’ve played or book you’ve read.

Stepping back from the game for a moment and looking at the entire “verse” of The Walking Dead, I think that the existing popularity of a fictional world that the public already laps up has contributed firmly to the high rating given the game. Which is why I think the next game in the “Walking Dead” franchise that is due for release in 2013 as a “prequel” to the TV series will be instantly accepted and raved about.

Pre-order you prequel now…

Regardless of its merits or glitches or game play, the 2013 version of Walking Dead will hit the ground running and not lose one step in its stride towards “Game of the Year 2013. It is so obvious that Telltale Games want to further cash in on the success of the TV show. Of course when the name of the “real” game is making money, you cannot blame them.

I’ll leave you with two things (or maybe three). Am I the only person who wants to see how Clementine (Worst choice of a character name ever, I hear that “Oh my darling Clementine” in my head every time I hear the kid’s name) turned out after the events of the game? And who else besides me, thinks that “actor Anthony Lam” is really Steve Buscemi?

Will these questions ever be answered? Who knows, but I do think that Clementine is already a pistol toting, zombie killing, little momma who will be able to shoot the ears off of any walker who gets too close.

I would have to give this game a 4 ½ stars out of 5 (if I did a star rating system) just for the fun, if not frustrating at times, game play and story.

“Go ahead, make my day.”

How the Internet Changed the Way We Watch Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The internet has changed the way that we view television. I first noticed the increased presence of the ‘net’ while Buffy the Vampire Slayer was in its relative infancy of seasons.

By the time the series had moved up a gear or two and was entering its third season, my daughter started buying Buffy ‘fan-zines.’ The first thing I noticed was the magazine’s inclusion of several different sites that were forums for fans.

If you logged onto the net, you could access these ‘fan-sites’ and either read the current thread of discussion about the program or enter the debate. The latter choice could be a little disconcerting.

While reading the intense and sometimes heated discussions on the forum I noticed that a few of the more fervent fans would get excited enough to give a figurative ‘bitch-slap’ to folks who disagreed with them.

I, for some reason, thought that these ‘fan-sites’ were indicative of the “Buffy-verse” alone and therefore rather unique. But the internet was a great place for fans of many different television programs to meet and discuss or even bitch about the latest episode that they’d just watched.

Certain programs listened to these fan groups and acted upon  the fan feedback.  Lost, for instance, listened when fans  relayed that the introduction  of two new major characters in the program had resulted in characters that they despised. Producers acted quickly and killed off these two new characters in the same season that they were introduced.

Going back for a moment to the verse of Joss Whedon, it is imperative to mention the huge internet support for Firefly when it was unceremoniously axed by its network. The fans of Joss’s fledgling western/science fiction show rose in mass to show support for the program and to petition the network for a reprieve.

While the fan protest wasn’t enough to save the beleaguered show, it was enough to convince both Joss and the studios that an audience existed for a film. And thus Serenity was created to give the loyal fans some closure for a program that they’d grown to love.

Independent film producers learned very quickly of the power of the internet in areas of marketing their products and drumming up interest in upcoming film releases. Paranormal Activity is one such “internet” driven film but it was by no means the first in a long list of films that would use the net as the perfect advertising tool.

The American re-make of The Grudge (Ju-on) used the web to show ‘diaries’ of the actors and set up a site with a ‘tour’ of the grudge house and a fictional account of one of the producers.

Apart from certain network affiliates I have not seen any increased activity across the board for web ‘snake oil publicity’ with the  exception of The Walking Dead. AMC vigorously utilized the internet in the upcoming months to the pilot  air date of The Walking Dead. They continued the vigorous net campaigning well into the second season.

Of course I’ve not mentioned the new “webisodes” that have taken the net by storm. The hugely popular The Guild, brainchild of Felicia Day is just one of many. Joss Whedon also did a webisode series which coincidentally had Felicia Day in a major role,  Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was another hugely successful venture into this new medium.

I have postulated before about how YouTube was becoming the ‘new’ television and now believe that it’s not just YouTube but the internet that is ‘becoming’ television. Either by replacing it as another medium of entertainment or influencing the direction that existing shows are going.

Think I’m exaggerating? Just check out the first related article, Dr. Horrible is going to be on television in October.