A Mega Man movie

The first question the whole thing raises up is Why? Mega Man as a franchise is not currently relevant to the game consuming crowd and has fallen into a niche. Yet, Twentieth Century Fox worked two years to acquire the rights. Exclusive news be damned, there’s something rotten in the land of Denmark.

Let’s step aside the fact that Hollywood reported used the wrong sub-series picture and managed to fuck up telling the premise of the games, as Rock is Mega Man’s non-hero name and he volunteered to be turned unto a super fighting robot. They are also using the Capcom method of counting the games, with ports counted as separate entities from each other.

The question we have here isn’t if the movie will be good. It’s almost guaranteed not to follow the little plot the original games had and will deviate from it like no other. All Mega Man adaptations have done this, for better or worse. What is relevant about this keg of horseshit is what will the approach be. Whether or not Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman will direct the movie is slightly less relevant on what the studio wants. I can see Twentieth Century Fox wanting to move forwards with video game adaptations in order to fight Marvel’s comic book movies, and adapting Mega Man is all about nostalgia, currently.

The original Mega Man is a children’s TV-show, essentially speaking. The same goes for the Legends series, which can be even played episodically like that with certain pacing. The X-series can be a cartoon for slightly older audience, but much like Zero-series, it could be adapted to a full war story, though both of them do offer interesting philosophical points about humanity and robotics. However, despite that, Mega Man as a whole isn’t about that, and a Hollywood adaptation most likely will miss the little point the games have going on for them.

Let’s not beat around the bushes, the movie’s probably not going to be very faithful to the games and will probably make the fans disappointed while the rest of the audience couldn’t give two shits. Saying this before any solid info on anything has surfaced is presuming a lot of things, yet that’s how it usually goes. Even decent game-movie adaptations tend to suck and have no impact whatsoever.

There is also a possibility for franchise confusion here. With the Man of Action cartoon coming out 2018, Capcom probably has been revving up to emphasize that as the main vehicle to resurrect the franchise. That’s all good and dandy, there is validity in resurrecting the franchise for children from a clean slate, even though it will piss off the older fanbase. However, all the current fans should recognize that they were catered when they were kids, and a kid’s IP should stay that way for future generations rather than change to be something it’s not.

These points worry me. It is possible that the movie will be aimed that older fans and the content of the movie will reflect this in content. This would mean the Man of Action’s take on the franchise could stay as the kid friendly entry, with all the toys and possible games aimed to cater them solely. An adult oriented Mega Man would not be a good idea, unless it specifically concentrated on the more mature aspects of the larger franchise, as mentioned.

That’s where I can’t trust Hollywood Reporter on this. They’re speaking of Mega Man all the while using image resource from X-series. Let’s suppose for a moment that Twentieth Century Fox didn’t just get rights to the Classic series, but for Mega Man movies in general. Then it would be possible for them to use any material from the franchise. I wouldn’t put past them to just use elements across the franchise rather than sticking to one, which Man of Action is kinda doing with their entry.

Chernin Entertainment, the company making the movie under Fox, has multiple action films under its belt,  like the reboot series for the Planet of the Apes movies alongside few dramas and comedies. Outside Parental Guidance from 2012, none of their production is something that would reflect positively on Mega Man. This bodes just as well towards a Mega Man movie as Fox as a movie studio. Their track record with game adaptations like Legend of Chun-Li is absolutely terrible, and while Tom Rothman is not working for them anymore, they’re not getting out from the low-quality swamp anytime soon.

Granted, Deadpool was a damn good movie, but Chernin Entertainment had jack shit to do with it. Telling me that fans that love Mega Man doesn’t carry any weight around here, and while Masayori Oka probably grew up playing the games, Fox is ultimately the ones to put the boot down.

Oka’s some sort of gleam of hope in all this, to be frank. In an issue of SFX Collection, he mentioned collecting Pluto, a retelling of sorts of  Tetsuwan Atom‘s arc The Greatest robot on Earth. It’s not terribly far-fetched to say that Naoki Urawasa’s works have affected Oka, and this influence could be seen in the Mega Man movie. That is, if Joost and Schulman won’t ignore their producer completely. More than a handful of movies have been completely and utterly destroyed by executive hands, like the recent Ghostbusters reboot or anything Rothman touched.

Knowing Capcom, they’re not going to care one bit either way. They have a long-time partnership with Hollywood ever since the film version of Street Fighter II came out, and movie adaptations of their games haven’t really gotten any better. Resident Evil is still going on, supposedly, and there were even Dead Rising films. A Mega Man to the mix is just a droplet in the river for them.

If this post reads like I’m losing all hope and faith in the product as I write this, that’s not too far from the truth. While the movie industry is pumping out products that sell millions at the worldwide market, they’re lacking in imagination. A movie about a boy robot fighting an evil scientist’s ambition to take over the world sounds like something that doesn’t carry itself. What works as a game doesn’t work as a movie, and that’s the crux that will nail the Mega Man movie’s faith to either direction.

No, this does not need to be in

Consumers purchase what they like. No sensible person would put their hard-earned (or Patreon) money into something they don’t deem worth the effort they’ve put into the work they’ve done. Corporations exist to make money and the way they make money is to produce goods and services that interest, are in demand and are wanted by the consumer, and thus the consumer in the end dictates what goods are produced by their use of money.

However, no organisation is ever required to make anything the consumer wants. They don’t need to include elements that would hit the consumer consensus. That is if they don’t want to make any profit on their product.

To use an example, the non-controversy with Ghost in the Shell‘s lead being Scarlett Johansson irked some, while most of the rest of the consumers didn’t give a rat’s ass because of two reasons; they had no prior experience with the franchise, and they’re not obsessed by who acts. Johansson has star power behind her that attracts the general consumer and has shown to be a capable action movie star from time to time. So for a company aiming for profit, this is a natural selection over less known actresses. After all, the licensed company has all the power to decide over the product, and the decisions made will be reflected in the box office. At no time they are required to pander to an audience, for better or worse.

To take this a bit further and dwelve in the subject, at no point there is any reason to create a cast of characters of diverse background in a given movie or a work. This can be twisted in multiple ways, but be sure just to take this as it’s said; the provider can do whatever they like with their product. The only way to really change what is provided is either by making it a more viable option for profit, or produce a product that fulfils that niche.

Just as companies like Twitter and Facebook can run their business in whatever way they like, just as much the consumer of these platforms can decide that their time and money is better spent elsewhere. The discussion what is moral or what are the responsibilities of huge platforms that have become part of everyday life to some extent is a discussion for another time. However, perhaps it should be noted that companies do tend to be on the nerve of whatever is on the boiling surface of social discourse and will take advantage of this for either direction. Pepsi’s recent commercial with a protester giving a can of Pepsi to a police officer as a supposed gesture of friendship, while on the surface wanting to comment on the event (which can be read oh so many ways) is ultimately advertising and showing signs towards certain crowd. It’s PR management after all.

It goes without saying, if someone thinks there is a market, for example,  for a certain kind of movie with certain kind lead actor, surely they’ll tackle this market and rake in the profits themselves. That’s capitalism, after all. Finding a niche to blossom in is the best way to climb to the general consensus. This is not Make it yourself argument. A niche that has demand is usually filled by those who know it exist and have a little know-how to tackle the market. The know-how can even be purchased nowadays thanks to all the companies and individuals offering market research and help in putting up a company.

All this really ends up with the good ol’ idea of wallet voting. You buy what you like, you don’t buy what you don’t like. I’m told time and time again that wallet voting doesn’t work, and every time I have to respond in laughter; it does work, more people just vote against your interests. This is consumer democracy that is decided through free use of money. However, there is a problem within this. There is always a demographic that wants to control a product or field of products without consuming the product itself. This twists the perception of the provider to an extent and can even prevent production and release of a product that would have otherwise faced no problems. The past example of Grand Theft Auto V being pulled from stores is an example of this, and maybe the whole issue with Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 should get a shoutout.

A product that sees most sales doesn’t mean anything else but that the consumers deem it valuable enough of their money. Whatever other reasons may be behind the decision to invest money into a product is up to an individual and a separate study for these reasons should be conducted as they are not something that come up through raw sales statistics. Often you can’t even deduce what sort of consumer group has put their money in a given product, outside what the product itself promises.

A traditional corporation would aim to invest into a development of a product and its sales to rake in money to fill the pockets if their investors and pay the workers, as well as to put money back into further development of future products. This of course requires the consumer to value the product first of all. However, in recent years there has been providers, especially game developers, who seem to consider their right to be paid and gain success by the virtue of them providing something, be it in demand, wanted, needed or not. Naturally, if your product does not meet with the demands of the consumer, you shouldn’t expect high profits.

Of course, you could claim to be a stereotypical art-type provider and do your piece for the sake of love of it, to express yourself to the fullest and never see a dime.

This is not to say a provider can’t make something described above and make money. Finding the right balance between the thing you want to do and providing the consumers is tricky business, but not impossible. It just takes two things; hard work and research. Guts is optional but recommended.

As you might have surmised, this topic was originally supposed to be part of Another take on customers series of posts, but we’re good 40 posts away from our next hundredth post. Thus, decided to timely put this down now rather than forget the content I had scribbled down into a memo.

The Thing of remakes

Remakes seems to be a subject I return yearly. This time inspired by a friend’s words; Remakes of great movies have an almost impossible task to improve on the originals. I’m inclined to agree with him, and the same goes for video games, generally speaking. Even with the technology gap between now and a game from e.g. the NES era, it’s still a task that rarely is done right.

I admit that the requirements this blog tends to set for remakes, mainly that they need to influence the culture of gaming in some significant way and create make the original completely and utterly, are almost far too high standards to meet up. Almost is the key, as if you’re not going to make something better than the original, why make it at all?

The same applies to movies to a very large degree, even prequel remakes of sorts. John Carpenter’s The Thing is probably a good example of this, to both directions. Originally a novella named Who Goes There? in 1938, it was adapted to the silver screen for the first time in 1951 as The Thing from Another World, just in time for the 1950’s boom. While Carpenter’s 1982 version is far more true to the original novella, it still draws elements and inspirations from the 1951 movie. The two movies show what thirty years of difference can do in movies. While the 1982 movie obsoletes the 1951 in pretty much every way, it could be argued that it’s worth a watch for the sake of having a perspective. However, it does lack the signature element of the Thing itself; mimicry. Then again, perhaps it could be said that Carpenter didn’t remake the 1951 movie, but stuck with the source material all the way through.

2011 saw a new version of The Thing in form of a prequel, but it’s essentially a beat-to-beat remake of the 1982 movie. Opinions whether it’s a good movie or a terrible one is up to each of us, but perhaps one of the less voiced opinions is that it was unnecessary. Much like other side stories, prequels and sequels that expand on story elements that never needed any expansion and were best to be left as they were. After all, we’re curious about mysteries that are not wholly elaborated on, but often feel let down if that mystery is shown to be terrible. I’m not even going to touch the PlayStation 2 game here, it’s just a terrible piece.

Both games and movies stand on the same line with remakes; they need to have the same core idea, core function if you will, and create something more era appropriate. One could argue that Mega Man X is a good remake of Mega Man. While it has a new lead, new enemies and stages, it evolves the formula and tackles the franchise in a new way. The idea is still the same nevertheless; beat a number of boss robots in an order selected by you and then advance to the multi-levelled final stages before you face the mad last boss.

However, both Mega Man and Mega Man X got remakes on the PSP, and while we can argue whether or not they obsolete the originals, they are pretty much beat-to-beat replicas with some new stuff bolted unto them and do no deviate from the source material jack shit. This isn’t the case with the Ratchet and Clank remake, which opted not only to change things around, but changed them so that it could have been a completely new and independent game.

Perhaps this is where we should make a division between reboots and remakes. Maverick Hunter X is a remake whereas Ratchet and Clank 2016 is a reboot. Reboots can and often do change things around to fit this new reimagined world. That’s one of the reasons why reboots don’t go well with long-time fans, as it would mean the series they’ve been emotionally (and sometimes financially) invested in for years is no longer the same. There’s an 80 minute video that goes over how Ratchet and Clank‘s reboot missed points from the original game. If you’ve got time to kill, it’s a good watch. Especially if you’re even a passing fan of the franchise.

Mega Man as a franchise is an interesting entity that for almost two decades it had multiple series and sub-franchises running alongside each other. While Battle Network could be counted as a reboot in modern terms, the 2018 series will probably be a total franchise reboot, at least for the time being.

The point of reboots is somewhat lost when the end-product does not stand up to the comparison to the original. Some claim this is unfair, as the new piece should be treated as its own individual piece without any regard to the original. There can be validity in this, if the product can stand on its own without resorting on winking to the player about the previous incarnation. This is a two-bladed sword; on one hand it’s great to acknowledge the history your remake stands on, but on the other hand any sort of reliance devalues the whole point of a remake. It’s a line that needs to be threaded carefully.

Perhaps the thing with remakes (or reboots for the matter) really is that they are facing a task larger than just the original product; they are facing the perceived value of the product from the consumers. People tend to value things on an emotional level a lot more despite their faults (like yours truly with Iczer-1)  and when something new comes into play to replace it, our instinct tells us to resists. It doesn’t help that most of the remakes and reboots then to be terrible on their own right, even when removing from the original piece. Just look at Devil May Cry‘s reboot, which luckily seems to be just a one-off thing. Maybe remakes like this are needed from time to time to remind us that capturing the lightning in the bottle twice is far harder than it seems, and perhaps creating something completely new is the better solution.

Themes of Godzilla

Each summer I have written a long, special theme post about a topic. These have varied from Kimi ga Nozomu Eien to the history Original Video Animation. This year I present you Themes of Godzilla in celebration of the theatrical release of Shin Godzilla.

Godzilla is not one monster or theme. Throughout its 62 years run in the movies Godzilla has represented many things from atomic weapons to heroes and Japan itself. The monster is a character that has been fitted into many themes and motifs across the ages. It could be even argued that the original film, despite being the originator, was disregarded at one point in favour of something else, something that fit that particular time. As such, if one argues what Godzilla, either as a character or theme, is based on a selection of media, you can argue otherwise using different selection. After all, we are talking about a franchise that has been running for more than a half a century with almost everything but porn being in the official line up.

Before we dwell into the movies and what they represent, let’s dwell a bit into where Godzilla originates. I will also use the official English name for the character, Godzilla, all the way through the post.

While Godzilla is usually traced to the Second World War, many make the distinction of King Kong and The Beast from 20 000 Fathoms being the film inspirations. King Kong is often seen as the start of the giant-monster genre, thou The Lost World predates it almost by a decade. Nevertheless, it’s the effects and the story that people remember from King Kong, and those two were exactly the things that drove Eiji Tsuburaya into the film industry. The Beast from 20 000 Fathoms comes into play as the movie that inspired Tomoyuki Tanaka to produce a similar movie. The story is that Tanaka was to make a movie in Indonesia that would ease the relations between the countries, but his crew was turned back, denying their visas. While returning to Japan, he was reminded about The Beast from 20 000 Fathoms, and with the S.S. Lucky Dragon #5 incident still fresh in his mind, Tanaka pitched an idea based on these two elements to the producer Iwao Mori. Tanaka grabbed the director Ishiro Honda to direct the film. Despite few pre-existing scripts, one being submitted by Tsuburuya, Honda and a writer named Takeo Murata wrote the final script in three weeks.

A final person between Tanaka, Honda, Tsuburaya and Murata was Akira Ifukube, a classical composer who gave Godzilla its sound and music. Without Ifukube’s compositions, the movie would’ve lacked in sound, as each theme emphasizes doubly whatever was happening on the screen. This is to the extent that both the film and music should always be one and the same and never be seen or listened in Ifukube’s mind.

The S.S. Lucky Dragon #5 incident is what births Godzilla in the original 1954 film. The incident was USA detonating their first hydrogen bomb named Castle Bravo. It was estimated to be about four to eight megatons in yield, but proved to be fifteen megatons due to lithium-5 becoming active in the explosion.  This spread the fallout far beyond what the estimates safe zone was, and caused the crew of Lucky Dragon #5, effectively giving them lethal doses of radiation.

The final element Godzilla had is tied to the nuclear weapons used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and probably is the most known aspect about the monster, only second to it fighting another.

Let’s start with the themes in the movies. I want to keep comment on each entry in the franchise short and to the point whenever needed. Each movie would deserve a full-fledged post to dwelve deeper into them, but currently I’m not intending to start multi-year “series” that nobody wants. We’ll leave TV-shows, games and such out from the picture for now, they’re a massive undertaking on their own as is. There is so much history in Godzilla that I can’t touch upon in this one, but maybe in future I will elaborate on certain aspects if there is interest.

Continue reading “Themes of Godzilla”

Monthly Three: Of remakes and remasters

The difference between remakes and remasters to some is cosmetic or about marketing terms, but when you look at the examples, there’s a bit more to them. A remake is based on a previous work, a new piece of product that recreates the original piece somehow. Another meaning of course is that something is taken and remade anew, like reconstructing a knife. Remaster on the other hand is completely tied to the original piece, like video or audio, and then improved on it somehow. For example, the recent Fight!! Iczer-1 Blu-Ray release was a good one, containing a properly digitally remastered version of the original.

NES remaster

Unlike what the package says, Ducktales Remastered is a remake. Nothing really is taking from the original game outside the overall stage designs. The musics have been remade, the graphics are remade and so on. If WayForward had remastered Ducktales, the two screenshots would look the same, except the resolution of the remaster would be higher. Digital things are pretty neat in that way that in principle as long as you have the source code and assets, it should be relatively easy to adapt those to a new machine. This is essentially doing a higher resolution ports, but I’m leaving HD “remakes” for next week.

Remasters on the other hand would look something like this.

dvd_28_09.57.35] screenshot016

The first one is from the Anime Works DVD, the second being the recent BD release. The difference is rather staggering, with higher definition bringing the line work out much more and showing more detail in form of dust specks and the like. For more colour, check the examples for these two stitches, first being from the DVD, the second being from the BD.

A remaster can bring new life and vibrant dimensions to a product that didn’t really have it before. An original master may have all the elements in there, but for whatever reason it could not be put into use. The LP-records  could not contain as much data as the compact cassette could, just as the compact cassette couldn’t hold as much data as the CD could. A CD on the other hand lost its place to digital sound formats that can, in principle, be as large as one wants them to be, even to obscene amounts.

While having as pristine version of something is desirable, the fact is that at some point there is no point of trying get any higher version of that piece. It could be even argued that the screenshots of Iczer-1 above is too highly defined, as it was never intended to be seen at that resolution. That goes for anything in audio and visual department, as in case of Star Trek, sixty years of development in television technology show every bit of those sets, costumes, double actors and the like, which were never visible before thanks to the lower standard definitions. This can have a largely negative effect on the piece from some, as they will point out and laugh at how cheap some of the things look nowadays. Can’t really fault them for using the best technology they had available at the time, which would be a good thing to keep in mind.

Another thing that pops up from this is that now that we can see absolutely everything, we can enjoy and even research the way some of those sets Trek used were made and so on. In animation we can admire all the fine lines and colours that were put in there by the animators and painters, things that we didn’t see before because of the lower definitions.

The necessity of remakes can be questioned, as in film their quality has been largely dubious. From making remakes cult flicks like Nightmare on Elm Street to remaking television series like Charlie’s Angels and Kamen Rider (The First is an atrocious movie with great suits), none of these really all the well received. The idea is solid; take an existing franchise and update it to a modern audience with modern techniques and technologies. However, rarely these remakes are made for the benefit of product and aim for pure nostalgia grabs instead. Very few remakes stand against the originals because of this, like the 1982 The Thing against 1951’s Who Goes There?, and 1986’s The Fly against its 1958 counterpart.

It’s often argued that remakes miss the point of the originals, and that the excess use of CGI elements do not stand up to the originals’ practical effects when it comes to films. Simply put it, it can’t hold the candle in direct comparison. This can be up to opinion to some extent, but it is true that CGI ages faster than practical, so take that as you will.

Maybe the most pressing argument against remakes is that they do not add anything new to table. While everything we produce nowadays is more or less a remade variation of pre-existing myths, stories and legends, exact remakes in and out of entertainment media don’t even try to create a basis for something new or expand into region less explored. An example of starting with a similar core idea and making it its own piece could be made in comparison between Star Trek and seaQuest DSV. On the surface, the both shows have similarities with their missions and overall idea of a top of the line ship send to the unknown for exploration and research. Yet, both shows stand apart from each other because of their themes and how they were handled, adding something to the cultural view in ways that a simple film remake never could.

I would wager that the bottom line is that some expect a remake to simply remake an original piece for the modern era, while some expect a remake to stand on its own two legs and be something more. There is a golden middle way, but not many seem to be willing to take it.

2016 in pop-movies is filled with same thing

First, I have a wound of my left hand that makes typing bit o f a bitch, so I’m sorry about all the typos that will sneak in.

I admit that I am not the biggest moviebuff out there, but I admit that 2015 was a year that I went to see a lot more movies that what I usually do. There were some good movies, and some movies that really overstayed its welcome. 2016 looks like a year when adaptations and sequels will hit the silver screen with a revenge. This year has also been called something like Year of the Nerds when it comes to the movies or the like, and I do see where that come from.

Going through some lists of upcoming movies sort of tell me that I’m not going to visit the theatre as much this year. A lot of million dollar blockbuster movies range from comic book movies to modern book adaptations. Remakes and sequels as far as eye can see. A lot of these movies are something that have no real reason to be made outside brand recognition or because they want to heat up some old franchise. The coldest turkey in the bunch in this field is the Ghostbusters. I still have to ask myself how in the hell are they going to make a better movie than one of the best comedies of the 1980’s? How Ghostbusters became to be is a slight legend on itself, and it was a culmination of many factors coming together just right, both in right and wrong. While I’m not ready to shoot the movie down just yet, it’s not looking good.

On the comic book front we have eight goddamn comic book movies. These comic book adaptations are our Western movies without any doubt, and it just might be that all the TV-series and movies we get out of Marvel and DC characters may end up burning people. The hardcore comic lovers will stay with them until the boom’s dead, but I have to say I’m pretty much fed up with it. Avengers 2 was the worst movie of the bunch for me, concentrating far too much on the fight’s flashiness in similar manner how Pacific Rim did, and Ultron’s design and plot made little to no sense. Deadpool, Batman Vs. Superman, Captain America; Avengers 2.5, X-Men: Apocalypse, goddamn Suicide Squad, Gambit movie with Channing Tatum as the lead and Doctor Strange all feel more or less already visited. There’s Daredevil Season 2 in there somewhere and some other shows, but I honestly am dropping my interests on these all of the previous movies have offered very little anything new. I admit that Doctor Strange might be worth checking out, but seeing how Cumberbatch acts like Cumberbatch in everything he has been in, my expectations are low. We are reaching a saturation point, and some are already guessing this year might break the comic book movie boom.

Adaptations ahoy, we’re getting a sequel to the Snow White movie we got some time ago in form of The Huntsman. Much like the upcoming Jungle Book and Tarzan remakes/re-adaptations, nobody really asked for these. I’m sure the Snow White movie has its fans, but much like Avatar, nobody remembers or talks about it. The Marvel movies already made their impact on popular culture, yet I see none of these making. That Tarzan movie also feels like it’s a prequel to that 90’s Tarzan show. Finding Dory most likely will be just like most of Pixar’s sequels and be forgotten fast. They’re also rebooting Friday the 13th. Again.

I have to admit that I’ve yet to see the first Bay’s Turtles movies, even if I had all the intentions of doing so for some time. The trailer for the second movie is… well, it’s like what I would’ve expected to see done during the 90’s, after somebody had snorted too much cocaine and had millions of dollars in their hands. The trailer itself incorporates what are essentially toy designs, takes itself pretty damn seriously but doesn’t forget that the 80’s cartoon’s vibe. It feels stupidly fun and I hate myself for saying it, but you can like dumb things. Everybody has their own scratch that fixes that itch.

I don’t like Angry Birds, but I do admire how much money they made at one point. Now they’re more or less becoming forgotten with Rovio making less and less money on their games and merchandise. The Angry Bird movie should have come out year or two ago when the boom was it biggest. Perhaps this will revitalise the franchise to some degree. Warcraft is getting a movie too, which is coming out at a time when the MMO is experiencing loss in players.

Most video game adaptations have been more or less awful, with Mortal Kombat still being one of the better ones, but the problem with adapting a game to the silver screen is that it’s a game. You can’t adapt gameplay and its contents, they’re unique to the medium. Mario cartoons tried this with showing the world with some makeshift footage from a game-like perspective, but rarely any of the stories were anything to write home about. The movie adaptations of games suffer from this same thing, and Mortal Kombat did right to stick with doing what movies do best and expand on the game’s world. Warcaft has an expansive story that could be adapted, but how do you adapt a strategy game to the silver screen? Most likely they’ll concentrate on one race only and pick the biggest points from the storyline, and make the battles to showcase some very remote resemblance whatever was in the game.

I guess what I’m getting at is that this year is missing a lot of originality. Just to use the 80’s as an example, we got 1982 that was one of the best year in sci-fi and fantasy movies. Poltergeist, E.T., Tron and The Dark Crystal are examples of movies that can stand on their own, and expanding that to adaptations we have Blade Runner, which strays pretty damn far from the novel. You have The Thing, both a remake and an adaptation and still manages to do its own thing, even thou reviews of the time didn’t regard much of it. Then you have Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which isn’t just the best Trek movie out there but is also one of the best Sci-fi movies out there. Star Trek Into Darkness is not even a shadow of Trek II, and I have no real hopes for either the upcoming Star Trek series (2017) and Star Trek Beyond.

Movies need desperately more movies that are unique to its medium like Flight of the Navigator that have no pre-existing base, less comic book movies with almost a century worth of material to adapt from.

An example how little to no thought can result in an awful particle thrower design

I was about to write your monthly music, but I came across a picture of the new all-female Ghostbusters gang. I’ve seen it before, and outside the damn ugly costumes the upcoming Ghostbusters doesn’t really fetch a reaction from me,  but then I saw the particle throwers. I should not have seen them, because that did pull an emotion from me.  I’m looking at them and  I have to wonder Who the hell designed these pieces of trash?

Here’s the thing; the original particle thrower  / proton wand is an excellent example of great prop design. It looks self-made and yet done by someone who knew what they were doing professionally.  It looks safe, but dangerous at the same time. It has bits and pieces that have an innate quality to them that’s instantly understood because it has a resemblance to real world equipment. There’s nibs and nubs that have at least some sort of clear meaning to them. It being painted black only lifts all the smaller steel and lighted up details towards the viewer’s eye. Sure, it’s essentially a box with two tubes to it with other bits protruding out and some wires going here and there, yet it all works because it is cohesive piece.

The new proton packs and particle throwers we saw from Tufts Medical Centre look like a fucking toy with no thought behind it.

Take a long good look at those particle throwers. Let’s go step by step what’s wrong with their design

The first bit that’s fucked up is the handle. All the weight of the main unit on the wand is on that curved handle, which would stress the arm more than if it was aligned  with the rest of the unit. It has a slight inwards curve to it, which is nice to see, but the handle itself looks incredibly small and lacking in  ergonomics. The handle they have should have larger grip that would conform to the hand, not a screwdriver like circular piece. It’s shiny plastic as well, which usually means it has lousy friction.

The original particle thrower can be argued to be worse in the sense that it had a straight angle handle protruding from the main unit, but that’s where the weight distribution comes into play again. When you have, for example, a spear in your hands, you are able to muster more strength and control to it because of its straight nature. The same is with the original particle thrower. As the particle stream can be compared to a strong water stream that has a nature to wonder around, having an innate idea where straight forwards is for the piece  becomes highly important. With the handle-above approach that the new thrower has is just stupid, especially when you consider the push from the particle stream now comes towards underneath your hand.  Your wrist and the rest of the arm needs to do extra work to keep it the thrower lifted and in  right angle. Notice how Egon’s female version is holding the prop piece from the very end, not from the handle part itself. That alone should tell you how bad ergonomics these particle throwers have.

The problem with handle-above approach wouldn’t be bad if the main unit would be about the same size as the original, but no, the new one has to be huge and look like a goddamn hobbybox. First we see that it’s gunmetal grey for whatever reason with exposed wires, coil and goddamn soldering, meaning that it would degrade at a higher pace than if it was protected, and that if somebody would  touch that those exposed bits it would most likely short circuit and explode in your face. You don’t want an important component of an unlicensed nuclear accelerator to explode in your hands, the short circuit shock may travel to the backpack. If they just had put a damn plexiglass on top of that bit, it would make some sense, but these bits are dangling out just to show that it’s self-made, like the original. On the underside you have some other bits as well, and why in the name of all that is good you’d put what looks like buttons and other important nib knobs on the surface you put on the table? Every frigging side of the main unit has something on it just to make it look busy and it’s so awfully realized.

But you know what’s even better than exposed wiring? Those copper pipes. Copper pipe is relatively expensive, those are very shiny. Like new. The first question we have is Why the hell are they there?  I’m assuming they are coolant pipes, which would mean that the proton throwers warm up even more than in the originals and that the throwers carry cooling liquid inside of them, which adds quite a lot of weight to them, making the handle even more of an  stupid idea. Not only that, but that makes the proton throwers about five times more expensive to build than the original. The original has heatsinks to cool down the thrower, but none of the throwers ever really overheat throughout the movies. Ghostbusters The Game used overheat as a mechanic, but only in regards of the proton backpack. These bitches on the other hand have incredibly expensive active cooling for components that are exposed to air.

You can see a heatsink just there on the right side.
You can see a heatsink just there on the right side. Notice how easy it is to access the buttons

The main unit is an incredibly good example how hard it is to design a box, and whoever did this design just fucked it up. The original particle thrower doesn’t make a real difference between the different parts, blending them more or less seamlessly together. You see a clear welding line where the handle meets the main unit and keeps simple. All the buttons and knobs are positioned near the handle, making it easy to use. There are few separate pieces seen in the movies that are used with the other hand to change the settings. With the new pack everything needs to be set with the other hand, because the hand on the handle has access only to the trigger button. Hell, even the pilot of the animation got it right as well! There’s an extra button next to the copper pipes, which I assume is the main power switch because of red cover, which just shows more that everything is  all over the place, almost literally.

Then you have the goddamn… I don’t even know what to call it. I guess it’s the barrel of the thrower. Visually speaking, it’s a bad design. The connecting piece looks weak and has added useless rectangles glued to it to give it an interesting look, but unlike with Lightsabers  where we can assume them to be some sort of energy packs, these are just glued  on pieces. The large tube is large for the sake of being large, housing a red light inside. Of course, because y’know, proton stream is red. And sometimes blue to white, emits sparks, sometimes white, sometimes core red with an orange aura, but the most iconic one is red with blue electricity surrounding it. But why the hell does the fat barrel have just one black bit on it that looks like electric tape? The original particle thrower had an actual handle, one that the user could grab and have a proper hold of. Now that the barrel is fat like that, they don’t have full grasp on it. Perhaps they were going for a similar grip as with an assault rifle, but that doesn’t work if there is no surface to grab on. Secondly, assault rifles’ barrels grip are specifically designed to fit the shape of the hand be gripped strongly if necessary. The new particle thrower barrel looks like piece of shit because of this. They would almost certainly lose their grip of the barrel the moment the particle stream kicks back harder  because it’s smooth metal with nothing to properly grip on.

Look at how firm grip that is
Look at how firm grip that is

And yeah, nice aluminium pieces at the front, don’t put any effort to make it look interesting like the original’s.

The biggest gripe I have with these designs that they had or have superior alternative. The photo above is the most circulated one from Tufts Medical Center, and shows most details on the particle throwers. However, the gripe I have with those is that we do have or at least did have good new designs for the particle throwers already that were not the old ones.CJQXIcNUcAApwbn[1]

This is from Paul Feig’s Twitter. That looks what it should look more like, even if it the particle thrower is more or less the same. There’s a closer look at the thrower there too. However, this picture is from July 6th, and the photos from Hufts Medical Center are from August 1st. Why weren’t these packs used in Hufts Medical Centre? Why were these “new” packs and throwers used? They are just incredibly awful in design, and should be used as an example how not to design something like this. I sincerely hope that these particle throwers where just kitbashed in five minutes for the hospital visit in order to keep the actual props in the best possible condition, and that these “new” props will not make any sort of appearance in any media again.