Tag Archives: 2012

13 for 2013: Our most anticipated films, music, gaming, technology and cyberculture | Entertainment | This Is Entertainment

The fun and games of 2012 is behind us, so it’s time to stop doing Gangnam Style, put down your ‘New’ iPad and think about all the exciting things which will clamour for both your attention and your wallet this year. Here are 13 things we are really looking forward to:

  1. Ingress (Available Now)

Screenshot_2013-01-03-07-50-32It might seem strange to start with something which you probably haven’t heard of, but its mysterious nature is what makes it interesting. Currently search giant Google is beta testing an augmented reality app, which calls for users to investigate the world around them using their phone as a scanner.

Using the software from the Google glasses demo released last year, the team have come up with a narrative based around CERN’s Higgs Boson experiment. To request an invite for the beta go to the Ingress website (but expect to wait a few weeks). Expect more on the site in the coming months as we delve deeper into the mystery.

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  1. DmC: Devil May Cry (11 January)

dmcWhile the obvious candidate for the crown of ‘anticipated game of the year’ is Grand Theft Auto V, we decided to avoid tackling Rockstar’s media-teasing monstrosity and talk about some of the smaller hitters, beginning with DmC, a reboot of Devil May Cry.

Danté is back, now with a harcore-fan-outraging new look, and a more user-friendly play and combat style. Developers Ninja Theory haven’t held back in taking the series’ ingredients and throwing them in a blender to make a more dynamic and edgy game, not that it’s tricky to make a demon hunter who is half angel and half devil look edgy. What we’ve seen so far looks impressive, though the team have an uphill struggle to convincingly gain ground in the third person slash-’em-up arena.

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  1. The Joy Formidable – Wolf’s Law (21 January)

Wolf's LawAfter a stunning debut album from the Welsh three-piece, they are due to strike back this year with their second album. The band perform amazingly well live, and their songs have that element of originality mixed with a few familiar pop tricks which make them compulsive listening.

Lead vocalist Ritzy’s voice is immediately striking and the synergy in the group is second to none. First single ‘The Ladder is Ours’ picks up where the first album left off and drives the band’s music forward. Expect some well received live performances on the back of this CD later in the year.

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  1. Bad Religion – True North (22 January)

True NorthHardcore punk rockers Bad Religion continue to churn out albums at an alarmingly consistent rate and this latest effort is looking to be no exception. First single, ‘Fuck You’, has all the uncompromising energy and attitude you could expect from a punk band who have been making music for over 30 years.

Title track ‘True North’ reveals more, and gives a sense of the overall tone of the album itself, somewhere between the blisteringly quick songs of early days with albums like Incomplete and the philosophy of The Process of Belief.

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  1. Windows Surface Pro (28 January TBC)

Windows Surface ProWe’ve already waxed lyrical about Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 8, and what more could you want? Windows 8 in a handy portable package of course. The RT version of the Windows Surface tablet has been out for a few months and has sold “modestly”, but many IT enthusiasts are holding off for the full ‘Pro’ version, which runs standard windows programs as well as Windows‘ own tailor-made apps.

With boosted specs and plenty of positive reviews of the RT version already circulating, this could be the technology purchase of the year (well it’s less likely to be replaced in a few months like a new iPad might in any case).

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  1. New(ish) gaming IPs: Remember Me (May 2013) and South Park: The Stick of Truth (March 2013)

Remember MeDespite the Xbox 360 nearing the end of its life (see point 11), there are still new IPs coming to the console which look promising. South Park: The Stick of Truth, though not entirely new since it is based on the South Park cartoon series, is the first which cartoon creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been directly involved with throughout (reportedly because they were sick and tired of bad South Park games). The game riffs on the classic staples of turn-based RPGs and is sure to have plenty of the sort of laughs and cultural references the TV show is known for.

Remember Me is Capcom’s take on manipulating reality by changing people’s memory in the near future. The game features a protagonist called Nilin, a ‘memory hunter’ who has lost her own memory and is on a quest to get back what she’s lost, while forcing people to kill themselves through memory manipulation along the way. The game is being handled by newcomers Dontnod Entertainment, but reception to the game so far has been promising, so hopefully this won’t be a case of all shine and no substance like fellow near-future jaunt Syndicate was last year.

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  1. Star Trek into Darkness (17 May)

Star Trek into DarknessZachary Quinto and Chris Pine reprise their roles as Spock and Kirk as we go Star Trekking once again, this time with the help of Sherlock Holmes, well, Benedict Cumberbatch. Star Fleet is under direct attack this time around, and Cumberbatch, who plays an unknown character who may or may not be linked to classic Trek film The Wrath of Khan‘s Khan.

The first teaser trailer shows all the destruction and drama you have come to expect from J.J. Abrams’ reboot, and with the acting talent in the mix it would be difficult to not make this the cinematic spectacle of the year. At least unless a bunch of superheroes turn up…oh…

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  1. Man Of Steel (14 June)

Man Of SteelZack Snyder directs the latest in a long line of Superman films, but this time, for the first time ever, Superman himself is British. Jersey-born Henry Cavill, who you may have seen in The Tudors TV series or 2007’s Stardust, dons the red boots in a familiar tale, retold.

Not much to get excited about you might think? But with Christopher Nolan on Producer duty, the studio must be keen for some of his success with The Dark Knight Trilogy to rub off on Man Of Steel.

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  1. Comic book films return (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (4 Oct USA), Kick-Ass 2 (19 July), Thor: The Dark World (Nov 8), Iron Man 3 (26 April), The Wolverine (26 July))

Christopher Mintz-Plasse in Kick-Ass 2Superman isn’t the only superhero doing the rounds this year of course, there are a bunch of sequels on the way to astound and delight us all. Of these the most exciting is Kick-Ass 2, which sees Kick-Ass, Hit Girl and Red Mist all return, with original actors Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Morentz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, for another round of crude and comic caped action.

This time Red Mist is seeking revenge, as teased at the close of the first film and Jim Carrey also makes an appearance as Colonel Stars and Stripes. With so many dark and ‘mature’ style superhero flicks flying around it’s good to have something like this as an antidote.

(No Kick-Ass 2 trailer just yet I’m afraid, but Iron Man is shaping up nicely too).

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  1. Reading Festival 2013 (23-25 August)

Reading Festival 2012With organisers Festival Republic kicking off the hype train early this year, we already know that Eminem will be one of this year’s Reading Festival headliners. Also in the mix are Alt-J, Deftones and Sub Focus.

The event always pulls in some of the greatest acts in the world for the year and the atmosphere is difficult to beat for a full weekend festival. Plus following the re-jig and re-brand last year things will be running even more smoothly, leaving more time for drinking and moshing than ever before.

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  1. The next Xbox (Q4 TBC)

The next Xbox?The Xbox 360 has now been on shop shelves for seven years, with hardware older than that, and in some places it’s beginning to creak at the seams. The lack of big game release dates after May this year leans heavily towards a hardware reveal at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, after a decidedly by-the-numbers affair last year.

The gaming community are beginning to cry out and despite manufacturer Microsoft’s claims in 2010 that the console was only half way through it’s life cycle, the clock is ticking. The time makes sense for the company too, since they won’t want to risk falling behind rival Sony‘s next release, which is still unannounced.

At present no concrete news has come out about the next Xbox console, despite rumours being rife, but whatever happens it is likely to slot effortlessly into its parent company’s efforts with Windows 8. The question is, will they strike while the iron is hot?

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  1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (13 December)

The Desolation of SmaugAfter the success which Peter Jackson had with the first instalment of The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey, we have our fingers firmly crossed he can keep up the momentum for a further two films. The subtitle for this year’s film, The Desolation of Smaug, would suggest this is the chapter in which Smaug is vanquished, but what does that leave for film three?

The multi Oscar-winning director is doing it for the love at this point, so it’s hard to see him making a misstep at this stage, but the real draw for this next film is the returning cast, all of whom shone in part one. How can you say no to more Gandalf?

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  1. The digital entertainment tipping point (TBC?)

The final point in our list is more speculation (speculation you say? On a blog? Outrageous!) around the subject of digital distribution. It might not be something to look forward to if you are keen on polishing the boxes on your CD shelf, but the digital revolution is happening right now. In music in particular the market is struggling to cope, as consumers begin to buy songs online through the likes of iTunes more and more.

The BBC recently reported that in 2012 CD sales fell by 11.2% overall, with sales of physical copies down 20% to 69.4million, compared to a rise or 14.8% for digital, bringing its total up to 30.5million. Surely the day we see digital in the majority isn’t far away?

In gaming and films too things are changing, as more people stream or watch films online, sometimes through games consoles, and various on demand services such as Netflix providing access to thousands of films without the bother of popping down to Blockbuster. Games on demand on Xbox remains uncompetitively priced, but avenues such as Valve’s Steam platform are proving more popular than ever before.

The interconnected nature of technology is making viewing entertainment easier every year and this year could be the time when we start to see the digital future really come into its own.

A Digital FutureJames Michael Parry

Escapism vs Realism: What is Entertainment? | Film and Gaming | This Is Entertainment

Some people might insist that entertainment as an entity exists as a ‘way out’ from the stresses and hardships of everyday life, but why then do games and films so often strive to be ‘realistic’?

Surely if we just wanted to escape from reality (without turning to hallucinogenic substances), then the most attractive prospect would be to jump into something completely different from our everyday lives.

Take Super Mario for example. One of the quintessential platformers, there aren’t many of us who navigate pits of lava, turtles throwing hammers and flatten grumpy-looking, mushroom-shaped creatures on a daily basis.

Later Mario titles have arguably become even more unrealistic, adding talking fire extinguishers and intergalactic flight, and the titles sell in the hundreds of thousands. Perhaps this argument is a foregone conclusion then?

Not quite so simple in 2012. According to vgchartz.com, role-playing epic Diablo III takes the top spot, a clear point for the escapism camp, and three different Mario titles are in the top ten. On the other hand Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 remains at sixth and eighth on the multi-format global sales chart after a massive 39 weeks on sale.

MW3 is a game which seeks to immerse you into a world of guns, shooting and slow-motion breaching (before more shooting). While this isn’t the sort of thing the average person would get up to on a day to basis (we hope), it is presented in a highly detailed and ‘realistic’ way. From here it’s easy to begin to appreciate how blurred the lines between escapism and realism are.

In the first days of console gaming there was no chance of you mistaking Pac-Man for a real person just wandering down dark alleys looking for pills and trying to avoid his dealers – the poor guy was made up of about 12 pixels and didn’t have any legs – but now with the level of detail capable my modern technology you can very nearly almost be lured into thinking there really is such a thing as dragons from the likes of Skyrim.

In film too the harsh realities of the past decade or so have bled through into Hollywood’s presentation of much-loved characters. Batman successfully shed its campish past for Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins in 2005. British institution James Bond followed suit and underwent a gritty reboot the following year with Casino Royale. Spiderman too returned to his more ‘real’ comic book roots for Andrew Garfield’s turn as the webslinger only this year.

Clearly escapism for escapism’s sake still exists, exemplified by the mere existence of The Expendables 2, but the new normal seems to be geared towards giving consumers a dose of reality.

There is a flaw in this plan though – people don’t like it when things get too real.

There has been a lot of fan backlash from the reboot or Devil May Cry: DMC. Undoubtedly the ‘new look’ Dante is grounded in a much more ‘real’ universe, albeit with crazy demonic stuff going on. Many fans of the original games took objection to the re-imagining of the character of someone more grounded and supposedly relatable, while others were just averse to change in the first place.

Tomb Raider too has his the ‘realism’ button pretty hard and there has been plenty of discussion whether it is necessary or appropriate to tackle the issue of rape – even in the context of the development of the character.

Undeniably though, horrible things do happen, and for gaming and films to be taken seriously as artistic mediums, they have to tackle sensitive issues. Film has a clear head start, having delivered countless classics over the years revered as taboo-breakers and genre-definers.

With games, it’s more of an uphill struggle, since the medium already has a long way to go to be respected by fellow industries as more than just ‘something kids and teenagers do’, let alone by the public in general.

Could tackling ‘real’ issues help? Perhaps, but it’s only worth doing if that’s what gamers actually want, which brings us back to the debate in question.

Reality is huge, but imagination is limitless, so with nothing but technical stumbling blocks to hold developers and directors back, entertainment should be striving to push the boundaries and show us things we have never seen or experienced before.

Whether that is something relatable, intimate and personal or off-the-wall, crazy and just good fun is up to us. If we as the people enjoying these products don’t give things which are a bit different a chance, then there will be less chances taken by the big studios, and we’ll miss out on things like Inception on the big screen and Bulletstorm on the small.

In the end, escapism and realism aren’t as much at odds as you might assume from first glance, and there is certainly place for both in the entertainment world – it all depends on what you feel like.

James Michael Parry
YouTubery lovingly embedded from original source. Images courtesy: popchassid.com and setlol.com

Believing the Hype – Part 1: Most Antipated Films of 2012 | This Is Entertainment

With the excitement of New Year over and done with and the daily grind of work and school already kicking in, it’s time to think about what’s worth getting excited about in 2012. Sure there’s some sort of Olympics and a European football tournament, and even the end of the world (perhaps), but the really interesting stuff comes in the form of our daily distractions of film, music and computer games.

So, in order to kick the hype machine into gear, This Is Entertainment presents a series of articles highlighting the top five most anticipated from the world of film, music and Xbox games, beginning with the silverscreen:

made by Ryan LuckooThe Dark Knight Rises 20 July

Christian Bale returns (slightly higher than before) for the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. This time around it’s a very Inception-inspired affair with Tom Hardy taking the role of big bad terrorist Bane and Joseph Gordon-Levitt joining the team as Batman’s new helper beat cop John Blake. The exciting thing about the premise is that the film is set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, when the Caped Crusader took the fall for Harvey Dent’s killing spree. With Nolan at the helm, and several blockbusters under his belt, there’s little chance of the team dropping the ball, and with promise of antics from Catwoman, courtesy of Anne Hathaway, this is a serious contender for big hit of the summer.

The Avengers27 April

Another entry in the ‘Year of the superhero’, and this is certainly the big one in terms of numbers of heroes involved. Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow and of course the top man Captain America all thrown together in one action-packed adrenaline ride – sound appealing? The balance of personalities will be key, especially with Robert Downey Jr. threatening to steal the show as king of swagger Tony Stark. Writing duties come from Zak Penn (X-men 2, X-men 3 and The Incredible Hulk) and Joss Whedon (Firefly, Serenity and Buffy the Vampire Slayer), undoubtedly an impressive pedigree, and with Whedon taking directing duties as well he’ll be sure their story gets realised with all the style and humour it deserves.

made by RNK Fan ArtSkyfall26 October

Bond is finally back. After a four year absence Daniel Craig picks up the Walther PPK again to protect the people of Britain, and this time it’s in a story with the least links to the Fleming-verse, since Skyfall is a the first film not to be in any way based on one of the Bond creator’s stories. Judy Dench is back as M, and Naomi Harris is on Bond girl duty, in a story which delves into M’s past as it “comes back to haunt her”. With long-running relationships to be tested, it could prove to be the most personal story since 1994’s Goldeneye. As ever the story is being kept fairly under wraps, but don’t expect to see a return of the ‘Quantum’ organisation, although the style is unlikely to stray far from the ‘new’ Bond formula.

The Hobbit14 December

Before the story told in arguably the most successful trilogy of the 00s, there was Bilbo Baggins, dwarves and a very large dragon. In print a more child-friendly tale than The Lord of the Rings, but on screen Peter Jackson is creating a story on his usual epic scale. Martin Freeman is Bilbo Baggins, and was so wanted by Jackson that he scheduled in a break in shooting for Freeman to reprise his role as Watson in the Stephen Moffat’s sublime Sherlock. Sir Ian McKellen leads the band of dwarves, filled with well-known names in its own right, on their quest, as they are re-united with plenty of other familiar faces from the proceeding films (which are actually set afterwards, just to be confusing). For those with a thirst for fantasy will have no better journey than this in 2012.

The Amazing Spider-Man4 July

In the other side of the big superhero face-off, the return of Spider-Man sees us going back to the beginning (again) with The Social Network star Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. This reboot, now a groan-inducingly familiar term, focuses on Peter Parker’s high school years, so no Daily Bugle or sideline in pizza delivery. Marc Webb is the aptly named director of the flick, known previously for (500) Days of Summer, has a background in music videos. Webb put together numerous micro-films in the past decade for the likes of Green Day, Good Charlotte, AFI, My Chemical Romance, 3 Doors Down, Maroon 5 and Yellowcard, which might result in a particularly poignant use of music for Spidey. The supporting cast includes Emma Stone, as love interest Gwen Stacy, and Rhys Ifans as Doctor Curt Connors, the unfortunate scientist who, after an inevitable accident, becomes Spider-Man’s nemesis The Lizard. It may be a story we’ve seen before in Sam Raimi’s 2002 film, and certainly there is a lot to live up to for Garfield in Tobey McGuire’s performance, but Webb has everything to prove with what is only his second feature length picture – plus there isn’t a goblin in sight.

Plus: Under the Radar – Keep an eye on Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s sort-of Alien prequel set in the same universe, expect the same chill-factor as you get from watching the original alone in the dark and a massively ambitious project all round.

Check back soon for the next instalment looking at the most anticipated albums of the year.

James Michael Parry

Gaming: Are we ready for the next generation of consoles?

Computer gaming is often referred to in ‘generations’, with the current ‘big three’ – Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii – marking the seventh iteration of home platform gaming. But with the world poised perilously close to economic meltdown, and with the ball rolling ever closer to the next generation with the Wii U, are we really ready for it?

Everyone likes shiny new things, of course, (as you can see from the concept images people have created of what the PS4 and Xbox 720 might look like above) but there’s a limit to how much money people have lying about for what is, effectively, a toy. The Wii U, the direct successor to the Wii, was announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) earlier this year, and boasts a DS-like touch screen on its controller, as well as backwards compatibility with Wii accessories such as the infinitely popular balance board.

The game-changer which the Wii began with motion control has been jumped upon by the other two companies with Kinect and PlayStation Move. While each have made an impact on their consoles, the former a family-friendly technological leap forward offering finger tracking, voice recognition and full-body control, while the latter is a clone off the Wiimote in the shape of a rollerball deoderant, its unclear whether or not their release will increase the overall lifespan of the consoles as the companies would like. Both Sony and Microsoft have said they want the technologies to extend the lifespan for another five years, marking a half way point.

The release of the slimline version of both consoles also suggests that the companies are investing time in the platform, plus there have been enhancements to their online networks, expanding what is offered and improving security in the case of Sony, who hit the headlines earlier in the year after a hacking scandal.

The expansion of Xbox LIVE in particular suggests Microsoft increasingly want the Xbox to be a multimedia hub, with streaming TV from BBC iPlayer, 1080p films and music from the notoriously-tricky-to-set-up Windows Media Centre.

Digital media and downloads are having a big impact on gaming as a whole, with publishers trying to make as much money as they can from Downloadable Content (DLC) and trying to cash in on the pre-owned games market with Online Passes for games, which mean that part of the game isn’t playable without a code either provided with a new purchase or bought through LIVE or the PlayStation Network (PSN).

On top of that there’s the question of whether on-disc games will become redundant as the UK finally catches up with the rest of the world in terms of connection speeds and people begin downloading games more readily. Will the next consoles support games on USB? SD? Micro SD? or just downloads? How would you trade-in a download game?

The possibilities are baffling, but with retail currently struggling across the board, games shops are trying to do their best to push the pre-owned market, which has better profit margins, and selling more bundle deals for consoles with games, to avoid a price war on the high street.

Even the Wii U’s announcement reflects a lack of consumer confidence, with it bringing a lot over from the Wii (including its name) and acknowledging the amount people have invested in peripherals. Nintendo is in a different place to the other two companies though, since it has so much more gaming experience it has an awful lot of brand loyalty to trade on, and can effortlessly bring its customers on-board on the strength of their ‘Nintendo-ness’.

PS3 and Xbox still have a way to go to reach Nintendo’s pedigree, but there is no denying they are household names, and have offered top quality games for their case.

The rumour mill is currently grinding out that the next Xbox will be announced at E3 next year and released by next Christmas. The likelihood of this actually happening seems low, not least because of the recent releases of the 360 S and Kinect, but also that there is just not enough time to get excited about a new console. Still, there is plenty of speculation about what games might be slipping onto a new platform.

Whatever shape the un-announced eighth generation consoles take, it’s likely it will be a very different format than the one we are used to, in the meantime we will have to try to make the most of the countless offered across the currently available consoles.

The thing to remember is that you might not be able to take those trophies, achievements, or downloaded Rock Band songs with you to a new console, so make the most of them now.