Culture

The Word In Nerd: From big screen to touch screen

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This isn’t your father’s comic book adaptation
Remember X-Men? Remember Spider-Man? What ever happened to those guys? Seems like only yesterday massively successful film franchises were spawned from popular Marvel and DC icons; that’s so last decade. Sure, Nolan’s Batman franchise is still going strong, shrouded in secrecy and figuring out how it’s going to try and top The Dark Knight, but those other household-name heroes are history. Luckily for you, Hollywood’s got a bad case of ADHD and what had previously been rumor is fast becoming reality. They knew you were pining for Raimi’s Spider-man, wondering what ever happened to Superman, and yearning for Brian Singer’s vision of the X-Men. We’ll pretend Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand never happened. Stick to what you’re good at, Brett. I’m sure everyone’s got their fingers crossed for a fourth Rush Hour.

While the studios have been busy churning out various hits and misses, (see: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, respectively) these major franchises have been collecting dust. If you saw the new promotional X-Men posters this week though, you’ll know what’s on the horizon. Hopefully, you were also disgusted by how amateur they looked. Seriously, what was that? These kids today, they can’t Photoshop, I tells ya! Grumble, grumble…

X-men is getting the “reboot” treatment with X-Men: First Class – taking it back to the beginning – and is due out in June. If that’s not enough of the uncanny ones for you, Wolverine (still being played by Hugh Jackman) is getting a makeover courtesy of Darren Aranofsky in the appropriately-titled The Wolverine. Expect to see plenty of drug use, hallucinations and some awkward sexual situations; due out in 2012.

In all sincerity though, don’t be surprised if many of these reboots take a turn toward dark and serious, modeled after the success of Nolan’s gritty and realistic Batman franchise. In fact, pray they do, so as to avoid another Spider-Man 3. Hopefully we can avoid any more unsettling emo dance sequences.

Spider-Man, rebooting to a theater near you – also in 2012 – is ditching that Seabiscuit kid for some younger talent in the form of “the kid from The Social Network that wasn’t the one from Zombieland“; The pseudo-British guy. From what I understand, he wasn’t actually born in the UK, but was raised there by British parents. What does that have to do with anything, you ask?

Superman: Man of Steel has also cast a Brit. Do we have another “British Invasion” on our hands? Or British-Australian invasion at least? Batman is a Brit. Wolverine is played by an Aussie. Thor is being played by one too. Get out the muskets! Perhaps SAG needs its own Tea Party. Man of Steel will be helmed by director Zach Snyder – of 300 fame – so expect glistening chests and hopefully a catchy internet meme or two next year.

It’s exciting to see the wheels of these long-forgotten franchises turning again, their new stars ready to don spandex suits; and just in time to provide plenty of entertainment for the coming apocalypse!

This ain’t a touch-screen, it’s a god damn arms race
If there’s one thing that my macphile friends have in common, it’s a desire to show off their newest gadget. Proud owners of iPods, iPhones and now iPads routinely insist I “check this out” as they demonstrate the latest-and-greatest app or accessory for their shiny new toy. What company doesn’t want that kind of loyal fan base?

With the release of the iPad 2 last week – and plenty of positive reviews along with it – comes the inevitable competition. While the original iPad had its competitors too, this industry churns out products so quickly that what you bought today is out of style the next (even referring to the “original iPad” sounds like I’m referencing some ancient technology!)

While tablet technology continues to evolve (or as the technology gods create it), more companies jump on the touch-screen bandwagon. Joining the almighty Apple in the tablet race are (among others) Motorola, HP, Dell and Samsung. The rise of eBooks had prompted such companies as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sony to introduce eReaders that offer little more than a way to read your books digitally, but with tablets becoming more affordable and more powerful, you can expect to see that single functionality disappear. Will they join the arms race?

At present, the iPad leads the pack, but as history has proven, there’s always a bigger fish (yeah, I just made a Episode I reference, so what?) Many are touting the iPad 2 as superior, but didn’t they say that about the iPhone? Ever heard of Android? Steve Jobs may have you drinking his Kool Aid, but Google’s legions will roll through Apple’s villages in no time, sacking and pillaging with a smile on their face.

While the iPad2 is cutting edge for the moment, you can already see where some models offer slight enhancements. The Motorola Xoom – although not yet offering a range of storage capacity options like the trailblazing iPad – comes with a higher screen resolution and is slightly smaller. HP’s TouchPad includes a faster processor but won’t utilize the Android OS like the Xoom, Dell’s Streak and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab (my favorite name so far). While they all offer similar sleek designs, battery life and portability, HP and Samsung aren’t bringing to the table anything as promising as Motorola, missing out on now-common features like the iPad and Xoom’s dual-camera offering. The price of these tablets mostly start in the $500-800 range, but expect to pay a significantly higher cost, all upgrades and accessories considered. Right now, tablets can’t top the laptop’s power and ability to multitask, but don’t lose hope: the future is bright and highly portable.

C2E2
The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo is due to land this weekend in and with it comes a galaxy of delights to feast your greasy hands upon. With too many artists to mention and a cacophony of exclusive goodies, we’ll just touch on some of the more generally titillating stuff. With C2E2 stepping out as a sophomore we can no longer throw pennies at it and as a result we should be seeing some excellent content. To start off, we’re seeing an excellent offering to the gamer contingent of it’s attendees. With EA Games giving a Battlefield 3 preview as well as tournament play, we’re sure to hear plenty of cursing and battle-cries. Of course, if you step over the Wizards of the Coast area you’ll probably find the same with the Magic: The Gathering tournaments, just more civilized and lisped through a retainer. The most enticing offer so far would be the Dungeons & Dragons: 4th edition workshops that are being offered. Most of them are approximately an hour long and they take you through the full scope of the game, from learning the rules and character generation to your first few quests. If you can drag a spouse or friend who’s never experienced the sinful delight of role-play, I highly suggest attending these. Turtle Beach is taking a break from making expensive and god-awful gaming peripherals to host an X-Box lounge all weekend. So should want to get away from the crowds, this should be the place to go for a few minutes rest and some non-competitive gaming. If gaming isn’t your thing, you’re probably at the wrong convention; there should be a knitting bee across the hall. If, by some chance, knitting is also not your thing, then get your swag-bag and trot on down to Artists Alley. A convention staple, you have to check it out at least once; take some time to check out the prints on sale! While the names may not be recognizable you should at least take a look around, you’d be surprised what you might recognize. Besides, if you buy a drawing you’re supporting another nerd’s unwillingness to get a job! Good for you!

This is all peanuts, however, to their list of headliners. Pay the extra money to see Comedy Death Ray with all-around-awesome Patton Oswalt headlining. Or if you’ve got a rediculous amount of cash to burn you could always be one of 8 people to have a “date” with Marvel big-wig Joe Quesada at Topolobampo. “Only” five hundred dollars, folks! Or maybe you could throw some money at the Iron Man Prop Auction. Plenty of people pay good money to be near something Robert Downey Jr. has touched, why not you?! However, if you feel like taking in the more absurd you should talk to the folks at Windy City Jedi. These guys should be putting on lightsaber battles all day. If you’re all about the dark-side or you vote Tea Party you should go say hi to the 501st Legion, Midwest Garrison. Give the T.I.E. Fighter Pilots a high-five, their costumes always look the most unique. If you’re looking to get your freak-a-leak on there’s Speed Dating and a Masquerade Party as well. On the more serious side there are hosts of panels and lectures to attend. Most notably, Chris Hemsworth will be speaking on behalf of the upcoming Thor movie. If you’re in the mood to heckle or you just haven’t gotten a good “boo” out all day, you can stop by The Cleveland Show panel and tell them what you really think. Although you could probably do the same at the Ghost Hunters panel. However, like most attendees, you’ll probably feel a twinge of nostalgia and want to see what C2E2 has to offer. Three words: I Am Batman. Kevin Conroy also known as the voice of Batman will be giving an hour long presentation on what it’s like being an iconic voice-actor.

This and more should thrill and delight nerds, geeks, dweebs, dorks and fanboys alike. If you’re a convention-virgin, stay away from any of the panels unless they grab your attention immediately. That kind of stuff can be extremely boring unless you’re honest-to-god into that topic. All in all there’s more than plenty to do and see and it should be very well worth the ticket price. The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo runs at the west building of the McCormic Place convention center in Chicago. Day passes range from $25 dollars beforehand to $30 at the door; weekend passes are $50 pre-show and $60 at the door. VIP packages should run you about $200. I’d save your pennies for the on-site bar, though. Nothing getting in a drunk argument with a guy dressed up like a Cylon on the merits of The Phantom Menace.

C2E2 preview written by Ben Kessell

  • Anonymous

    Aranofsky just recently pulled out of The Wolverine. So, that’s gonna suck.