Monthly Archives: March 2009

“The Prisoner” Is Coming Back

by Irma Arkus

My dad is pretty cool. In fact, dad happens to be one of the coolest, most awesome men on the planet, and I am proud to be related to him, but there is the Ian McKellen question…I have to admit that secretly, sometimes even I, the lucky parented child, wish I were an illegitimate child of Ian McKellen.

He left an impression on me in Richard III (1995), left me breathless with Gods and Monsters (1998), made me fall in love with Gandalf, and was mesmerising as Magneto.

What can I say? Just when ol’ Ian McKellan could not get any cooler, he decides to take the role of Number Two, in The Prisoner reboot.

When I just started doing the HiSciFi show, everyone called me to ask if I had watched The Prisoner. The original show, starring Patrick McGoohan as Number Six, who, ironically was the first choice for Jackson’s Gandalf, was a breathtaking adventure, full of intrigue, mystery, and sophisticated technology, much of which we are graced by today.

Number Six awoke after his submittal of resignation to secret service, in a cosy bedroom of a “village.” The minute village, a la Creme Gitmo, with its sophisticated traps was meant to break him and procure information hidden within the walls of his mind. All he could think of though, was how to escape…and so the games begin.

The intricate iconic details of the show have left marks for generations. Geek boys panting over shiny gadgety things, while psychological tension was building around our poor Number Six.

The show that can only be called remarkably Orwellian, our leading man may live in comfort, but is being constantly watched and controlled by the forces that hold him captive. He is a pet, a man without freedom.

In the original show, Number Two is the chief administrator, a head honcho if you may, of the Village. And happens to be played by multiple actors.

Now the show has gotten a reboot. And Ian McKellan is its heart and soul. McKellan, together with Jim Caviezel (who would regularly give me the creeps over that whole Jesus snuff film, if it weren’t for the recent action-sci-fi coolness, Outlander), are part of the 6-part miniseries remake.

The show has perhaps more relevance today than every before (boy, we say that all the time), especially in its country of birth, the UK. We are confronted with constant surveillance and monitoring, our freedoms and liberties are being subverted every day, and we live in a culture of manufactured fears and paranoias. UK itself serves these days as some kind of a consummate cosmopolitan lab, an island, or a Village, in which technologies are used to test the human limitations of tolerance to control and manipulation. Or at least, that’s how it sometimes looks from the other side of the glass.

The first glimpse of the poster has leaked, so feast your eyes on this sucker.

I would also encourage everyone to watch the original, in anticipation of seeing the new version of the show. It has been originally broadcast in 1960s and has but mere 17 episodes. Enjoy!

Watch This: Little Red Riding Hood

by Irma Arkus

Watch the Little Red Riding Hood.

Worth Listening To: Echo and the Bunnymen “Killing Moon”

by Irma Arkus

Sweating it to the oldies and goodies with Echo and the Bunnymen, the band that started way, way, way back in 1978, in Liverpool. The punk-rock sweetness of the Echo and The Bunnymen, makes it a band that to this day sounds fresh, contemporary, and meaningful.

Listen to the Killing Moon here.

HiSciFi – Big Hadron Games, Watchmen, Blake 7

This week we have some familiar faces from Centre for Digital Media, Steve Danic, and his peeps: Matt Jenkins and Michelle Parent.

The three have been designing video games at an astounding, super-human pace. Designing a video game every two weeks, and then pushing production down to 48-hour period is impressive. Flash they may be, but still fun to play. So, check them out at Big Hadron Games.

Danic also recommends some basic, open-source tools, that anyone can download and try one or another aspect of video game making on your own (or call Steve, I guess).

We also had a brief, but valuable discussion on what the future of video gaming may bring, consider the current economic recession, world burning, etc…

Oh, and we give you the review of the Watchmen. And the goods on Blake 7.
HiSciFi – Big Hadron Games, Watchmen, Blake 7

SciFi Gone SyFy?

by Irma Arkus

The SciFi network is changing its name to SyFy. The reason?

Apparently, the genial marketing excercise will broaden the appeal of a network specialising in supernatural and science fiction materials to encompass housewives who have lost their remotes, children who do not know the meaning of words “science” and/or “fiction,” and people who are ashamed of watching science fiction in general.

The arrogance of such a rebranding exercise usually results in disenfranchisement of the already existing fans.

And what is SyFy anyways? Any ideas?

India Needs No GoogleEarth, They Have Bhuvan

by Irma Arkus

Reuters reports on India’s National Remote Sensing Center, meant to serve as a superior, national version of GoogleEarth.

The program called Bhuvan, is meant to do what GoogleEarth does, but better, with a greater specificity on local environment, including soil types and the location of ground water. The idea is to combine the available satellite imagery and geographic field information to improve upon city planning efforts.

The really intersting bit about Bhuvan is that it has a resolution of 2.5 meters, which is highly accurate and provides for a superior resolution to that of GoogleEarth.

This brings up some valid security concerns. In the mentioned Mumbai Attacks, the gunmen were prepared using GoogleMap technology. With Bhuvan, they get to inquire about mining right, do online tours, and only then turn to their terrorist attacks.

This also brings up another interesting point: publicly available satellite images with a 2.5 meter resolution? Yes, you have been watched. [Reuters]

Bale No Longer Batman?

by Irma Arkus

Batman was a pretty dead franchise, cinematically speaking, after the Joel Schumacher fiasco.

And then it came back. Big time.

Not only did Christopher Nolan manage to make a convincing Batman, starring Christian Bale in title role, but he did one better: Nolan managed to make amazing movies period.

With the release of the Dark Knight, Nolan solidified the until then, fragile relatioship between superhero films and great acting, getting as far as receiving Academy Awards.

At this moment, it is impossible to see anyone else directing the films, or for that matter, anyone else being the Batman.

The impossible, however, is rumoured to be happening. Warner Brothers as well as the tabloid press is creating waves with the possiblity that Christian Bale may be replaced.

Furthermore, as Nolan has not yet signed the contracts for the sequel in the franchise, the “press” goes as far as to question whether the director will be returning to Gotham as well?

Sam Worthington as Batman? Really? Who is that? Oh, and I also hear that Joel Schumacher is available for directing. [MTV Movie Blog]

Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-creator Joe Shuster

by Irma Arkus

Turns out, Joe Shuster, creator and animator of Superman, wasn’t the average “boy next door” after all, as the latest book by Craig Yoe, “Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-creator Joe Shuster,” documents his BDSM work.

The book, available in bookstores and libraries (? Not sure on that one, but I am trying to get you to spend less and read more, yeey!), documents the rare and obscure samples of Shusters work in erotica.

Turns out, in the wee hours of the night, Shuster was drawing images for an independent magazine, “Nights of Horror.” The erotic nature of the magazine made it technically unavailable, sold under counters, until it was banned by rising movement towards censorship.

Shuster’s moonlighting as a creator of erotica, esentially labels him as a man with a “secret identity,” similarly to that of Clark Kent / Superman. One thing is for sure – after reading the “Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-creator Joe Shuster” you will never be able to look at the Shuster’s characters the same way again.

That makes me kind of happy too, as the polished, uber-American-rah-rah-USA type Superman seems inadequate for contemporary audience. The latest cinematic incarnation of Superman fell short of my expectations, as it reproduced the images associated with Superman from the 1980s, rather than looking to transform the character and propel him into the future.

Even though the uncovered art has very little to do with Superman, it does allow us a peak at the mind who created him (or co-created him, better said). Perhaps the “Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-creator Joe Shuster” will do just that, peeling away the layers of the innocuous, the corporatized and the infantile, and replacing those with the kind of characters that captivated audiences in the early stages of Shuster’s work.

Either way, the collection provides a grand overview of underground artist work that Shuster and his contemporaries were very much a part of, and will perhaps allow us to deconstruct and discard the illusory puritan imagery of the 1950s era with a more realistic picture of the time and its people. [Amazon]

MAD MAX, The Game

by Irma Arkus

Gaming Target reports on the Mad Max video game, based on the iconic film franchise.

Yeah, now that the 80s are back in full bloom (or is it the 30ties depression era?), the whole DIY wardrobe/crazy murderers and makeshift societies in a post-apocalyptic setting, all together sounds like good times.

While Mad Max director George Miller and God of War II director Cory Barlog were “working” on the game, making most of us squirm in our waiting seats, upon revisiting the issue of the Mad Max game, it turns out that no progress has been made.

O.K. so not necessarily NO PROGRESS. But they did admit that the game will take a few years to finish. So, we just have to cool our heels, and enjoy Mel Gibson as the Jesus man, rather than the plucky, leather-clad hero we all remember fondly.

Blake 7 Will Return to Small Screens?

by Irma Arkus

Now that Battlestar Galactica has retired, after a comeback that enjoyed a vehement fan following and an unprecedented critical acclaim, the rumours are that Blake 7, a similarly humble production, will be remade.

Blake 7, a British science fiction television show produced by BBC, was created by none other than Terry Nation, a man responsible for possibly the greatest science fiction moments in TV history.

Nation not only contributed to Doctor Who, but is the creator of the Daleks, the Borg that will not die, or change their anti-human ways.

Blake 7 is particularly intersting as a show, because it is a much darker show, with relatively dislikeable characters. The highly political nature of the show’s plot, as well as the morally ambigous protagonists, would be more than suitable for contemporary concerns of the TV audience.

The show is focused on Roj Blake, a revolutionary, who leads his band of merrywomen and merrymen against a totalitarian regime, the Terran Federation.

If this reminds you of Firefly, then do not worry, the similarities end there.

Blake escapes from a prison colony, and steals a superior spaceship, the Liberator. Together with crooks, murderors and various plotters, he attempts to freedom-fight the corrupt regime that spans throughout the galaxy.

Blake is the only likeable protagonist, but even he tends to disappear and fall in the story background, as Kerr Avon, a sort of self-interested thief and master manipulator takes over the crew, albeit temporarily.

The show is well known for its lack of cheery tones. Instead, the battle that Blake engages upon seems unwinnable, the goals unattainable, making it a melancholic, dark journey of the soul.

The show has over the years attained an esteemed, cult following, and is considered to be one of the finest space operas.

The remake has been announced by SkyOne, a British satellite television network. [BBC]