Jump to content

Search the Community

Showing results for tags 'movie'.



More search options

  • Search By Tags

    Type tags separated by commas.
  • Search By Author

Content Type


Categories

  • Extra Life News
    • Extra Life Updates
    • Best Practices
    • Community Content
    • Why I Extra Life
    • Fundraising
    • Contests
  • Gaming News
  • Features
  • Podcast

Discussions

  • Extra Life Discussions
    • General Extra Life Discussion
    • Local Extra Lifers
    • Fundraising Ideas
    • Live Streaming Tips & Tricks
    • Official Extra Life Stream Team Discussion
    • Extra Life JSON Code Discussion & Sharing
    • Extra Life United
    • Extra Life Q & A
  • Articles & Extra Life Announcements
    • Announcements
  • Official Extra Life Guilds
    • Guild information and Discussion
    • Canada
    • Northeastern US
    • Southeastern US
    • Central US
    • Western US
  • Gaming Discussions
    • General Gaming Discussion
  • Other Stuff
  • Denver Extra Life Guild's Recent Posts

Calendars

  • Extra Life Community Calendar
  • Extra Life Stream Team
  • Akron Guild
  • Albany Guild
  • Albuquerque Guild
  • Anchorage Guild
  • Atlanta Guild
  • Austin Guild
  • Bakersfield Guild
  • Baltimore Guild
  • Birmingham Guild
  • Boston Guild
  • Burlington Guild
  • Buffalo Guild
  • Calgary, AB Guild
  • Morgantown Guild
  • Charlottesville Guild
  • Chicago Guild
  • Cincinnati Guild
  • Cleveland Guild
  • Columbia, MO Guild
  • Columbus, OH Guild
  • Dallas Guild
  • Dayton Guild
  • Denver Guild
  • Des Moines Guild
  • Detroit Guild
  • Edmonton, AB Guild
  • Fargo-Valley City Guild
  • Fresno Guild
  • Ft. Worth Guild
  • Gainesville-Tallahassee Guild
  • Grand Rapids Guild
  • Halifax, NS Guild
  • Hamilton, ON Guild
  • Hartford Guild
  • Hershey Guild
  • Hudson Valley Guild
  • Houston Guild
  • Indianapolis Guild
  • Jacksonville Guild
  • Kansas City Guild
  • Knoxville Guild
  • Lansing Guild
  • London, ON Guild
  • Los Angeles Guild
  • Milwaukee / Madison Guild
  • Minneapolis / Twin Cities Guild
  • Montreal / Quebec City Guild
  • Nashville Guild
  • Newark Guild
  • NYC & Long Island Guild
  • Oakland / San Francisco Guild
  • Omaha Guild
  • Orange County Guild
  • Orlando Guild
  • Ottawa, ON Guild
  • Philadelphia Guild
  • Phoenix Guild
  • Pittsburgh Guild
  • Portland, OR Guild
  • Portland, ME Guild
  • Raleigh-Durham Guild
  • Richmond Guild
  • Sacramento Guild
  • Salt Lake City Guild
  • San Antonio Guild
  • San Diego Guild
  • San Juan, PR Guild
  • Saskatchewan Guild
  • Seattle Guild
  • Spokane Guild
  • Springfield-Champaign, IL Guild
  • Springfield, MA Guild
  • St. Louis Guild
  • Syracuse Guild
  • Tampa / St. Petersburg Guild
  • Toronto, ON Guild
  • Vancouver, BC Guild
  • Washington DC Guild
  • Winnipeg, MB Guild
  • Denver Extra Life Guild's Events
  • Extra Life Akron's Events

Categories

  • Broadcasting Toolkit
  • Multimedia Kit
  • Extra Life Guild Tool Kit
  • Denver Extra Life Guild's Files
  • Extra Life Akron's Files

Find results in...

Find results that contain...


Date Created

  • Start

    End


Last Updated

  • Start

    End


Filter by number of...

Joined

  • Start

    End


Group


Hospital


Location


Why I "Extra Life"


Interests


Twitter


Instagram


Twitch


Mixer


Discord


Blizzard Battletag


Nintendo ID


PSN ID


Steam


Origin


Xbox Gamertag

Found 39 results

  1. Sonic the Hedgehog will be coming to the big screen in November 2019 and the official movie poster has made its way to a debut on IGN. Some interesting tidbits were dropped in the handful of quotes they were able to snag from people working on the production - it's totally worth a read if you have the time. And without further ado, feast your eyes on the full Sonic the Hedgehog poster: The poster reveal comes on the heels of a teaser trailer shown in Brazil that had the audience "agitated" and... yeah, that sounds about right. I'm anxious and excited and more morbidly curious than ever before to see what exactly this incarnation of Sonic will look and sound like. The team clearly intends for the hedgehog to be a more realistic take on the character than ever before, with hair effects and some updated running shoes that clearly had a lot of time and effort put into their design. Also, his hands. Look at them. Sonic is supposed to wear big, dumb gloves so that he doesn't have freakishly human-sized hands when compared to his massive noggin! OH NOOOOOO- This live-action Sonic film stars Ben Schwartz as Sonic, James Marsden as a human sidekick named Tom Wachowski and Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik. The story, what little we now know about it, seems pretty straightforward: Sonic finds himself in the modern day world, befriends Tom Wachowski, and makes an enemy of Dr. Robotnik. Also, there will supposedly be sections of the film that don't take place on Earth, which hints at some interesting directions for the story. Also, apparently the realistic approach for Sonic's design means that they took a more grounded approach to the blue blur's eyes. What exactly that means is unclear since the poster doesn't reveal the character's eyes. Hopefully this creative gamble pays off in a charming character we can believe in and not some sort of eldritch monstrosity that haunts the popular zeitgeist for decades to come. We'll find out when Sonic the Hedgehog races into theaters on November 8, 2019. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  2. Sonic the Hedgehog will be coming to the big screen in November 2019 and the official movie poster has made its way to a debut on IGN. Some interesting tidbits were dropped in the handful of quotes they were able to snag from people working on the production - it's totally worth a read if you have the time. And without further ado, feast your eyes on the full Sonic the Hedgehog poster: The poster reveal comes on the heels of a teaser trailer shown in Brazil that had the audience "agitated" and... yeah, that sounds about right. I'm anxious and excited and more morbidly curious than ever before to see what exactly this incarnation of Sonic will look and sound like. The team clearly intends for the hedgehog to be a more realistic take on the character than ever before, with hair effects and some updated running shoes that clearly had a lot of time and effort put into their design. Also, his hands. Look at them. Sonic is supposed to wear big, dumb gloves so that he doesn't have freakishly human-sized hands when compared to his massive noggin! OH NOOOOOO- This live-action Sonic film stars Ben Schwartz as Sonic, James Marsden as a human sidekick named Tom Wachowski and Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik. The story, what little we now know about it, seems pretty straightforward: Sonic finds himself in the modern day world, befriends Tom Wachowski, and makes an enemy of Dr. Robotnik. Also, there will supposedly be sections of the film that don't take place on Earth, which hints at some interesting directions for the story. Also, apparently the realistic approach for Sonic's design means that they took a more grounded approach to the blue blur's eyes. What exactly that means is unclear since the poster doesn't reveal the character's eyes. Hopefully this creative gamble pays off in a charming character we can believe in and not some sort of eldritch monstrosity that haunts the popular zeitgeist for decades to come. We'll find out when Sonic the Hedgehog races into theaters on November 8, 2019. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  3. Detective Pikachu released in Japan a couple years ago and found some pretty impressive success. So much, in fact, that Hollywood went to work on securing the rights to adapt it to the big screen as Pokémon Go fever swept the globe. That adaptation is slated to be entering production this year with Ryan Reynolds of Deadpool fame taking on the lead role of Detective Pikachu. Rob Letterman, known for his takes on Gulliver's Travels and Goosebumps will direct the project. Currently, the film has a release date of May 10, 2019. And all of that was done without Detective Pikachu ever seeing a Western release... until later this year. The quirky Japanese tale of a talking pikachu with an attitude and a mind for mysteries will be releasing on March 23 of this year for the 3DS. It focuses on the relationship between Detective Pikachu and a young boy named Tom Goodman who get roped into an escalating series of puzzles and crimes that threaten to tear their city apart. View full article
  4. Detective Pikachu released in Japan a couple years ago and found some pretty impressive success. So much, in fact, that Hollywood went to work on securing the rights to adapt it to the big screen as Pokémon Go fever swept the globe. That adaptation is slated to be entering production this year with Ryan Reynolds of Deadpool fame taking on the lead role of Detective Pikachu. Rob Letterman, known for his takes on Gulliver's Travels and Goosebumps will direct the project. Currently, the film has a release date of May 10, 2019. And all of that was done without Detective Pikachu ever seeing a Western release... until later this year. The quirky Japanese tale of a talking pikachu with an attitude and a mind for mysteries will be releasing on March 23 of this year for the 3DS. It focuses on the relationship between Detective Pikachu and a young boy named Tom Goodman who get roped into an escalating series of puzzles and crimes that threaten to tear their city apart.
  5. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, a movie that parallels the Final Fantasy XV game, promised to bring photorealistic visuals and an understandable Final Fantasy story to fans of the games and newcomers alike. In the film, the kingdom of Lucis has waged war with the enemy empire Niflheim for many years. Regis, King of Lucis, possesses the Divine Crystal and the Ring of the Lucii, powerful magical objects that Niflheim wants. To protect them, Lucis raised an impenetrable wall around the crown city of Insomnia, using the power of the crystal. Despite Lucis’ great magic and the king’s mighty warriors known as the Kingsglaive, Niflheim seems poised to win the war with its unsurpassed military force. Unexpectedly, Niflheim proposes a peace treaty that specifies Regis relinquish all territories outside Insomnia and marry his son Prince Noctis to Princess Lunafreya of Tenebrae. Twelve years previously, Tenebrae, a former ally of Lucis, fell under Niflheim rule when Regis abandoned it to save himself and Noctis. Regis decides to accept Niflheim’s treaty, but sends his son away to a safe location outside Insomnia, creating enemies among his own people and the Kingsglaive. Despite its superficially sufficient story, beautiful visuals, and action-packed fight scenes, many critics describe Kingsglaive as a gorgeous mess. Many complain about the difficulty of following its convoluted and political plot. Others point out its weak characters: helpless and useless females, a throwaway protagonist, and stereotypical kings attempting to outmaneuver one another. Still others equate it to a long video game cut scene or trailer. Criticisms about its weird lip syncing, mixed voice acting, and poorly written dialog abound. As for me, I feel a sense of déjà vu. The description sounds awfully familiar: a Final Fantasy movie promising to bring photorealistic graphics and an accessible story to a new audience only to produce a lukewarm story disguised with impressive visuals. It bears a striking resemblance to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. I even recognize the complaints critics have in that I don’t think they reveal the source of Kingsglaive’s problems. I’ve argued before that Spirits Within contains a fatal flaw in the obstacles that the protagonist faces in the pursuit of her goal to save her life and the world. Kingsglaive similarly has a flaw with its conflicts. This time, however, the problem is that conflicts are almost non-existent. In most stories, characters have problems to solve. Simple stories often have one major, overarching conflict that the characters must resolve and many smaller obstacles that hinder them along the way. Conflicts not only add excitement and purpose, but also help define the world and its characters. Of course, obstacles work best when the characters have a good reason to overcome them no matter what. For example, a major conflict could be that a hero must free her village from a king’s tyrannical rule. In order to do this, she decides to kill the king and take his throne. The obstacles in her way include traveling to the king’s crown city, sneaking in through his walls, breaking into his castle, and fighting through his guards. She also has a clumsy, obnoxious wizard for a sidekick, who she tolerates because of his useful magical powers. Failure means her death and the destruction of her village. High stakes, big obstacles, and a variety of conflicts usually make stories exciting and engaging. The heroes of Kingsglaive seem to fight for “the future” against characters who fight for “their homes.” These vague ideals rarely conflict with one another though nor do significant obstacles arise from other sources. Most of the main characters can’t fail to achieve their goals, and the consequences for failure are never defined and logically don’t seem that bad. Consequently, pointless violence, duty, and death fills the film, but one person could have given meaning to everything. Prince Noctis produces everyone’s problems and gives everyone purpose, but alas, he doesn’t appear in the film to bring this to light. No amount of action-packed fight scenes fill the void of meaninglessness that Noctis’ absence creates. As is, Kingsglaive suggests that the conflict between King Regis and his people comes from differences in beliefs as to what the kingdom should protect: the people’s “homelands” or the “future.” The film doesn’t define what these terms mean, but in general, “fighting for home” seems to refer to a desire for a just king who keeps his people safe. “Fighting for the future” seems equivalent to protecting Noctis so he can fulfill his destiny as the future king and world’s savior. While many of the characters fall into one camp or the other, each character seems to define what they fight for and how they will fight for it in a different way. King Regis fights for the future, which involves protecting both Lunafreya and Noctis. To make up for the fall of Tenebrae, he wants to free Luna from Niflheim’s grasp and reunite her with her beloved Noctis. Luna also protects the future, but she believes that she must stay away from Noctis to keep him safe and that her survival doesn’t matter. The protagonist, a member of the Kingsglaive named Nyx, fights for the future by serving King Regis. After Regis gives away his hometown Galahd to Niflheim, Nyx’s friend and former Kingsglaive Libertus fights to overthrow Regis. The antagonist General Glauca appears to fight for both empires to keep his hometown safe. Ultimately, he sides with Niflheim to overthrow Regis in exchange for his home’s freedom. On closer inspection, however, little stands in the way of the characters and their goals. Sometimes comically weak obstacles stumble them, sometimes the consequences of catastrophic events go unnoticed, and sometimes nothing can stop the characters from succeeding. Luna and Regis’ goals appear to be in conflict with one another, but really, nothing can stop Luna from keeping Noctis safe by staying away from him. In the beginning of the movie, she briefly goes along with Regis’ plan to escort her to a safe location to rendezvous with Noctis, but when his plan fails almost immediately, she staunchly refuses to indulge in Regis’ next plot to bring them together. Regis agrees easily, and because Noctis is already safely outside Insomnia, Luna can literally do nothing and still succeed. Regis can’t reach his goal to protect Noctis and Luna so easily. Many superficial obstacles keep Luna in constant peril, but the horrific sacrifices that Regis makes to save her go entirely unnoticed when they really should produce significant moral dilemmas. Soon after Luna arrives at Regis’ castle, General Glauca kidnaps her and locks her on an airship with a surprise octopus monster on board. Nyx, the first to discover her absence, rushes through easily-parted guards and verbal threats to warn Regis. Regis permits him to deploy the Glaives to save her. Without the Kingsglaive’s captain, also mysteriously absent, Nyx commands his teammates himself. While on their mission, the peace treaty signing ceremony proceeds in Insomnia, but ends with Niflheim attacking the castle and the city. At the same time, Nyx discovers that he led his team into a trap. Amid all the excitement of Nyx fighting a giant octopus, killing traitorous Kingsglaive members, and maneuvering Luna out of two crashing airships while she threatens to kill herself by jumping out of them, the movie fails to emphasize the responsibility Nyx, Regis, and Luna bare for killing the Kingsglaive and destroying Insomnia. With Regis’ permission, Nyx led the Kingsglaive into a trap that killed almost all of them and left the king and the crystal open to attack to a save a woman with questionable importance. As a result, Regis dies, Insomnia’s wall falls, and Niflheim steals the crystal. This leads to the destruction of Insomnia and hundreds of thousands of its civilians. Nyx has little reason to believe that Luna is more important than any of this or that Insomnia’s destruction was inevitable, but he feels no remorse for the role he played and barely questions his loyalty to Regis. By sending the Kingsglaive to save Luna, Regis sacrificed his citizens to save a woman who seems content to remain a prisoner. His internal struggle, if he even has one, never shows. Luna doesn’t value her own life, and yet Regis sacrificing his most powerful warriors, himself, and his citizens for her doesn’t horrify her. These terrible acts of violence don’t make anyone examine their steadfast beliefs when they really should. Nyx, already a nearly unstoppable super protagonist, has such a fluid definition of “the future” and how he protects it that nothing can stand in his way. When King Regis gives Galahd, Nyx’s hometown, away as part of the peace treaty, Nyx doesn’t care because at least Regis and Insomnia are safe. When Insomnia’s magical wall falls, Nyx doesn’t care because at least Regis lives. When Niflheim steals the crystal, King Regis dies, Insomnia falls, and Nyx faces certain death, he still doesn’t care because at least Luna lives and she possesses the Ring of the Lucii. Even if General Glauca took the ring or killed Luna, Nyx probably still wouldn’t care because at least Noctis lives and doesn’t seem to be in danger. Like Luna, Nyx doesn’t have to do anything to save an already safe future. Not even Nyx’s friend Libertus can give him a significant personal or physical conflict. Libertus betrays Lucis to join the rebellion, presumably an organization that wishes to overthrow Regis and replace him with a more people-oriented government. The rebellion doesn’t do anything though. In one scene, Libertus gives them some unspecified information. The next scene related to the rebellion features their leader getting shot in the streets by Niflheim’s army. The film suggests that the rebellion and Libertus help the empire somehow, but Niflheim conquers Insomnia by themselves. Plus, General Glauca, who doubles as captain of the Kingsglaive, already works for Niflheim and likely knows all the information possessed by Libertus and the rebellion. Not even the radio broadcast that Nyx listens to while driving Luna out of the city says what the rebellion did. Nyx pounds the steering wheel angrily at the discovery of Libertus’ betrayal, but when they meet next, Nyx forgives him immediately. Kingsglaive also never defines what makes its obstacles problematic or why the characters must overcome them. Regis, Luna, and Nyx all seem to want to keep Noctis, the future, safe, but he’s outside Insomnia where Regis says it’s safe. Technically, nothing is stopping Niflheim from hunting Noctis down and killing him, but no one threatens to do this. Niflheim doesn’t even seem to care that he’s not in the city even though they specified in the treaty that he marry Luna. We also don’t know Noctis. If he’s anything like his father or ancestors though, he has super powers and doesn’t care about anyone except his next of kin. Why should we want another tyrant to rule the people of Lucis? The film implies that Niflheim is so evil that they can’t be allowed to rule, but honestly, Lucis seems pretty horrible, too. It’s not automatically bad when one kingdom loses power against the military might of another. Would it really be much different or worse if Niflheim ruled? The Kings of Lucis, as revealed by wearing the Ring of the Lucii, seem even more uncaring about their own people than Regis does. The old magic that defends Insomnia even includes destroying the city and killing its citizens. Unlike Lucis, which forces its people to fight a losing war to protect a crystal, a ring, and the next heir to the throne, Niflheim gives people territories in exchange for their help and treats the survivors of Tenebrae decently. A lot of people seem to agree that Niflheim coming into power wouldn’t be so bad. Speaking of the ring, why is it important? Part of the conflict in the final fight scene deals with Nyx and Luna trying to keep the Ring of the Lucii safe from General Glauca. Surrendering it seems to symbolize Lucis’ defeat, but Regis himself doesn’t seem to place much importance in it. Before he dies, he begs Nyx to keep Luna safe. Then, he gives her the ring almost as an afterthought. It doesn’t seem that powerful either. Regis and Nyx use the ring to fight General Glauca. Regis dies, and Nyx barely defeats Glauca before he dies himself. In fact, everyone who uses the ring besides Regis either dies or receives a grievous injury from its power. In death, Regis determines who the ring serves with his fellow prior kings, so of course, a Niflheim ruler will never wield it. Really. Why is it important? Another conflict in the final fight scene as well as most of the conflict throughout the movie deals with keeping Luna safe for equally unspecified reasons. Why is Luna important? Luna suggests that she has some dutiful destiny related to Noctis, but she also says that her life doesn’t matter. Saving Luna just seems like Regis’ vain attempt to make up for letting her home burn while he ran away with his son. Regis kills thousands of people to save Luna and Noctis though, which seems less like making up for the past and more like making an even bigger mistake. This isn’t flattering, considering that Luna’s mother died last time he did this. Luna clearly loves Noctis, and under different circumstances that’d be reason enough for them to be together, but again, we don’t know Noctis. All signs indicate that he’s terrible. Many conflicts in the movie seem like an attempt to create problems that don’t exist and make characters do things when they have nothing to do. The future that half the characters seem so desperate to save, Noctis, seems safe already. Simply placing Noctis in the film, and thus in danger, creates a big problem that can color the characters and the story. For example, Kingsglaive could tell the following tale with Noctis in it, ignoring the events that occur in the game and other media: On his way out of the city, Noctis hears from a traitorous Glaive that Luna didn’t safely escape Tenebrae to meet him and is on her way to Insomnia. Noctis doesn’t understand his father’s blind faith in his destiny nor does he agree with his decision to abandon Luna and Tenebrae twelve years ago. He decides to stay in the city to see Luna to safety himself and meet Niflheim’s terms for peace despite his father’s wishes. He reasons that surely his life doesn’t matter to Niflheim. If they want anything else, it would be the ring and the Crystal, and they can have them as long as the war ends. Unable to convince Noctis that he doesn’t understand and needs to leave, Regis assigns Nyx to be Noctis’ bodyguard. Noctis continues to defy his father by picking Luna up from her Niflheim escort himself (in a sports car of course) with Nyx. The rebellion within Insomnia makes a minor attempt on Noctis’ and Luna’s lives, but they make it back to the castle safely. Unimpressed with Noctis’ show of bravery, Luna reprimands him for remaining in the city and endangering himself. She refuses his affection when Noctis reiterates that he won’t leave and abandon her or his people. On the day of the signing ceremony, traitorous Kingsglaive serving Niflheim kidnap Luna and blame the rebellion, making sure that Noctis and Nyx know about it first. Noctis demands that his father send the Kingsglaive to rescue her, but Regis refuses, wanting to keep the Glaives close to protect his son. In frustration, Noctis runs off to save Luna himself, leaving Regis no choice but to send the Glaives after him. In turn, he leaves himself, the crystal, and the ring vulnerable to attack. He proceeds with the signing ceremony as planned, prepared to sacrifice everything for his son’s safety. Meanwhile, Noctis, Nyx, and the Glaives fight a giant octopus that they find on a ship that looks suspiciously like a Niflheim aircraft to rescue Luna. Members of the Kingsglaive turn on Noctis, and when he and Nyx reach Luna, she warns them of a trap. Noctis realizes that Niflheim tricked him specifically to try to kill him. His father was right, and his hope for peace is naive. The situation gets even worse when Luna, Noctis, and Nyx see Insomnia’s wall falling, enemy ships closing in on the city, and the crystal stolen. They rush back to the castle in time to witness Regis’ death. General Glauca pursues them next to finish the job of crushing Lucis’ last hope. Nyx distracts him while Luna and Noctis escape. Along the way, they are separated. Looking over the ruins of Insomnia, Noctis vows to avenge his father and his people, reclaim his throne, and find Luna. While he still doesn’t understand his own importance, he must ensure that his father’s sacrifice wasn’t in vain. The events of Final Fantasy XV begin. This retelling basically follows Kingsglaive’s existing story, but creates more conflict by adding Prince Noctis. The presence of the prince heightens the potential costs of failure, and the characters’ actions have a greater sense of purpose. Niflheim can destroy or capture every hope that Lucis has, the ring, the crystal, Luna, and Noctis. Lucis could lose all hope for the future instead of some unspecified amount of it. Nyx’s actions and extravagant battles directly relate to protecting Noctis, a character that we can see and understand as opposed to an abstract concept. For fun, the rebellion adds more obstacles and distracts Noctis from his true enemies. To create even more conflicts that help define the characters and the world, Noctis has differing beliefs from his father and Luna. He’s also easier to relate to because he doesn’t fully understand his destiny and all these magical objects either. The greatest losses and violent acts show Noctis his mistakes and motivate him to correct them, which gives them more meaning. They also highlight Niflheim’s cruelty. On Noctis’ insistence, Lucis acts in accordance with Niflheim’s treaty and still the empire destroys Insomnia and attempts to kill Noctis and Luna. The existing story highlights Regis’ cruelty when he defies the peace treaty from the start, sacrifices his people, and doesn’t seem to care. Fifteen years after The Spirits Within, Final Fantasy looks better than ever, but the quality of its storytelling remains about the same. It could have been different though, if only Noctis had stayed. Even if he only plays a minor role, Noctis’ very presence creates a problem that the characters must solve at all costs. He’s the object of his people’s hatred, the son that his father protected over his allies and kingdom. He’s the hope that Niflheim wants to destroy and Regis, Nyx, and Luna must protect. Without him, the characters can only fight over objects and people that may or may not be important and make horrendous sacrifices in pursuit of a nebulous future that may or may not already be safe and may or may not be good. For all of Kingsglaive’s action-packed fight scenes, no one has a battle worth fighting. --- Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today! View full article
  6. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, a movie that parallels the Final Fantasy XV game, promised to bring photorealistic visuals and an understandable Final Fantasy story to fans of the games and newcomers alike. In the film, the kingdom of Lucis has waged war with the enemy empire Niflheim for many years. Regis, King of Lucis, possesses the Divine Crystal and the Ring of the Lucii, powerful magical objects that Niflheim wants. To protect them, Lucis raised an impenetrable wall around the crown city of Insomnia, using the power of the crystal. Despite Lucis’ great magic and the king’s mighty warriors known as the Kingsglaive, Niflheim seems poised to win the war with its unsurpassed military force. Unexpectedly, Niflheim proposes a peace treaty that specifies Regis relinquish all territories outside Insomnia and marry his son Prince Noctis to Princess Lunafreya of Tenebrae. Twelve years previously, Tenebrae, a former ally of Lucis, fell under Niflheim rule when Regis abandoned it to save himself and Noctis. Regis decides to accept Niflheim’s treaty, but sends his son away to a safe location outside Insomnia, creating enemies among his own people and the Kingsglaive. Despite its superficially sufficient story, beautiful visuals, and action-packed fight scenes, many critics describe Kingsglaive as a gorgeous mess. Many complain about the difficulty of following its convoluted and political plot. Others point out its weak characters: helpless and useless females, a throwaway protagonist, and stereotypical kings attempting to outmaneuver one another. Still others equate it to a long video game cut scene or trailer. Criticisms about its weird lip syncing, mixed voice acting, and poorly written dialog abound. As for me, I feel a sense of déjà vu. The description sounds awfully familiar: a Final Fantasy movie promising to bring photorealistic graphics and an accessible story to a new audience only to produce a lukewarm story disguised with impressive visuals. It bears a striking resemblance to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. I even recognize the complaints critics have in that I don’t think they reveal the source of Kingsglaive’s problems. I’ve argued before that Spirits Within contains a fatal flaw in the obstacles that the protagonist faces in the pursuit of her goal to save her life and the world. Kingsglaive similarly has a flaw with its conflicts. This time, however, the problem is that conflicts are almost non-existent. In most stories, characters have problems to solve. Simple stories often have one major, overarching conflict that the characters must resolve and many smaller obstacles that hinder them along the way. Conflicts not only add excitement and purpose, but also help define the world and its characters. Of course, obstacles work best when the characters have a good reason to overcome them no matter what. For example, a major conflict could be that a hero must free her village from a king’s tyrannical rule. In order to do this, she decides to kill the king and take his throne. The obstacles in her way include traveling to the king’s crown city, sneaking in through his walls, breaking into his castle, and fighting through his guards. She also has a clumsy, obnoxious wizard for a sidekick, who she tolerates because of his useful magical powers. Failure means her death and the destruction of her village. High stakes, big obstacles, and a variety of conflicts usually make stories exciting and engaging. The heroes of Kingsglaive seem to fight for “the future” against characters who fight for “their homes.” These vague ideals rarely conflict with one another though nor do significant obstacles arise from other sources. Most of the main characters can’t fail to achieve their goals, and the consequences for failure are never defined and logically don’t seem that bad. Consequently, pointless violence, duty, and death fills the film, but one person could have given meaning to everything. Prince Noctis produces everyone’s problems and gives everyone purpose, but alas, he doesn’t appear in the film to bring this to light. No amount of action-packed fight scenes fill the void of meaninglessness that Noctis’ absence creates. As is, Kingsglaive suggests that the conflict between King Regis and his people comes from differences in beliefs as to what the kingdom should protect: the people’s “homelands” or the “future.” The film doesn’t define what these terms mean, but in general, “fighting for home” seems to refer to a desire for a just king who keeps his people safe. “Fighting for the future” seems equivalent to protecting Noctis so he can fulfill his destiny as the future king and world’s savior. While many of the characters fall into one camp or the other, each character seems to define what they fight for and how they will fight for it in a different way. King Regis fights for the future, which involves protecting both Lunafreya and Noctis. To make up for the fall of Tenebrae, he wants to free Luna from Niflheim’s grasp and reunite her with her beloved Noctis. Luna also protects the future, but she believes that she must stay away from Noctis to keep him safe and that her survival doesn’t matter. The protagonist, a member of the Kingsglaive named Nyx, fights for the future by serving King Regis. After Regis gives away his hometown Galahd to Niflheim, Nyx’s friend and former Kingsglaive Libertus fights to overthrow Regis. The antagonist General Glauca appears to fight for both empires to keep his hometown safe. Ultimately, he sides with Niflheim to overthrow Regis in exchange for his home’s freedom. On closer inspection, however, little stands in the way of the characters and their goals. Sometimes comically weak obstacles stumble them, sometimes the consequences of catastrophic events go unnoticed, and sometimes nothing can stop the characters from succeeding. Luna and Regis’ goals appear to be in conflict with one another, but really, nothing can stop Luna from keeping Noctis safe by staying away from him. In the beginning of the movie, she briefly goes along with Regis’ plan to escort her to a safe location to rendezvous with Noctis, but when his plan fails almost immediately, she staunchly refuses to indulge in Regis’ next plot to bring them together. Regis agrees easily, and because Noctis is already safely outside Insomnia, Luna can literally do nothing and still succeed. Regis can’t reach his goal to protect Noctis and Luna so easily. Many superficial obstacles keep Luna in constant peril, but the horrific sacrifices that Regis makes to save her go entirely unnoticed when they really should produce significant moral dilemmas. Soon after Luna arrives at Regis’ castle, General Glauca kidnaps her and locks her on an airship with a surprise octopus monster on board. Nyx, the first to discover her absence, rushes through easily-parted guards and verbal threats to warn Regis. Regis permits him to deploy the Glaives to save her. Without the Kingsglaive’s captain, also mysteriously absent, Nyx commands his teammates himself. While on their mission, the peace treaty signing ceremony proceeds in Insomnia, but ends with Niflheim attacking the castle and the city. At the same time, Nyx discovers that he led his team into a trap. Amid all the excitement of Nyx fighting a giant octopus, killing traitorous Kingsglaive members, and maneuvering Luna out of two crashing airships while she threatens to kill herself by jumping out of them, the movie fails to emphasize the responsibility Nyx, Regis, and Luna bare for killing the Kingsglaive and destroying Insomnia. With Regis’ permission, Nyx led the Kingsglaive into a trap that killed almost all of them and left the king and the crystal open to attack to a save a woman with questionable importance. As a result, Regis dies, Insomnia’s wall falls, and Niflheim steals the crystal. This leads to the destruction of Insomnia and hundreds of thousands of its civilians. Nyx has little reason to believe that Luna is more important than any of this or that Insomnia’s destruction was inevitable, but he feels no remorse for the role he played and barely questions his loyalty to Regis. By sending the Kingsglaive to save Luna, Regis sacrificed his citizens to save a woman who seems content to remain a prisoner. His internal struggle, if he even has one, never shows. Luna doesn’t value her own life, and yet Regis sacrificing his most powerful warriors, himself, and his citizens for her doesn’t horrify her. These terrible acts of violence don’t make anyone examine their steadfast beliefs when they really should. Nyx, already a nearly unstoppable super protagonist, has such a fluid definition of “the future” and how he protects it that nothing can stand in his way. When King Regis gives Galahd, Nyx’s hometown, away as part of the peace treaty, Nyx doesn’t care because at least Regis and Insomnia are safe. When Insomnia’s magical wall falls, Nyx doesn’t care because at least Regis lives. When Niflheim steals the crystal, King Regis dies, Insomnia falls, and Nyx faces certain death, he still doesn’t care because at least Luna lives and she possesses the Ring of the Lucii. Even if General Glauca took the ring or killed Luna, Nyx probably still wouldn’t care because at least Noctis lives and doesn’t seem to be in danger. Like Luna, Nyx doesn’t have to do anything to save an already safe future. Not even Nyx’s friend Libertus can give him a significant personal or physical conflict. Libertus betrays Lucis to join the rebellion, presumably an organization that wishes to overthrow Regis and replace him with a more people-oriented government. The rebellion doesn’t do anything though. In one scene, Libertus gives them some unspecified information. The next scene related to the rebellion features their leader getting shot in the streets by Niflheim’s army. The film suggests that the rebellion and Libertus help the empire somehow, but Niflheim conquers Insomnia by themselves. Plus, General Glauca, who doubles as captain of the Kingsglaive, already works for Niflheim and likely knows all the information possessed by Libertus and the rebellion. Not even the radio broadcast that Nyx listens to while driving Luna out of the city says what the rebellion did. Nyx pounds the steering wheel angrily at the discovery of Libertus’ betrayal, but when they meet next, Nyx forgives him immediately. Kingsglaive also never defines what makes its obstacles problematic or why the characters must overcome them. Regis, Luna, and Nyx all seem to want to keep Noctis, the future, safe, but he’s outside Insomnia where Regis says it’s safe. Technically, nothing is stopping Niflheim from hunting Noctis down and killing him, but no one threatens to do this. Niflheim doesn’t even seem to care that he’s not in the city even though they specified in the treaty that he marry Luna. We also don’t know Noctis. If he’s anything like his father or ancestors though, he has super powers and doesn’t care about anyone except his next of kin. Why should we want another tyrant to rule the people of Lucis? The film implies that Niflheim is so evil that they can’t be allowed to rule, but honestly, Lucis seems pretty horrible, too. It’s not automatically bad when one kingdom loses power against the military might of another. Would it really be much different or worse if Niflheim ruled? The Kings of Lucis, as revealed by wearing the Ring of the Lucii, seem even more uncaring about their own people than Regis does. The old magic that defends Insomnia even includes destroying the city and killing its citizens. Unlike Lucis, which forces its people to fight a losing war to protect a crystal, a ring, and the next heir to the throne, Niflheim gives people territories in exchange for their help and treats the survivors of Tenebrae decently. A lot of people seem to agree that Niflheim coming into power wouldn’t be so bad. Speaking of the ring, why is it important? Part of the conflict in the final fight scene deals with Nyx and Luna trying to keep the Ring of the Lucii safe from General Glauca. Surrendering it seems to symbolize Lucis’ defeat, but Regis himself doesn’t seem to place much importance in it. Before he dies, he begs Nyx to keep Luna safe. Then, he gives her the ring almost as an afterthought. It doesn’t seem that powerful either. Regis and Nyx use the ring to fight General Glauca. Regis dies, and Nyx barely defeats Glauca before he dies himself. In fact, everyone who uses the ring besides Regis either dies or receives a grievous injury from its power. In death, Regis determines who the ring serves with his fellow prior kings, so of course, a Niflheim ruler will never wield it. Really. Why is it important? Another conflict in the final fight scene as well as most of the conflict throughout the movie deals with keeping Luna safe for equally unspecified reasons. Why is Luna important? Luna suggests that she has some dutiful destiny related to Noctis, but she also says that her life doesn’t matter. Saving Luna just seems like Regis’ vain attempt to make up for letting her home burn while he ran away with his son. Regis kills thousands of people to save Luna and Noctis though, which seems less like making up for the past and more like making an even bigger mistake. This isn’t flattering, considering that Luna’s mother died last time he did this. Luna clearly loves Noctis, and under different circumstances that’d be reason enough for them to be together, but again, we don’t know Noctis. All signs indicate that he’s terrible. Many conflicts in the movie seem like an attempt to create problems that don’t exist and make characters do things when they have nothing to do. The future that half the characters seem so desperate to save, Noctis, seems safe already. Simply placing Noctis in the film, and thus in danger, creates a big problem that can color the characters and the story. For example, Kingsglaive could tell the following tale with Noctis in it, ignoring the events that occur in the game and other media: On his way out of the city, Noctis hears from a traitorous Glaive that Luna didn’t safely escape Tenebrae to meet him and is on her way to Insomnia. Noctis doesn’t understand his father’s blind faith in his destiny nor does he agree with his decision to abandon Luna and Tenebrae twelve years ago. He decides to stay in the city to see Luna to safety himself and meet Niflheim’s terms for peace despite his father’s wishes. He reasons that surely his life doesn’t matter to Niflheim. If they want anything else, it would be the ring and the Crystal, and they can have them as long as the war ends. Unable to convince Noctis that he doesn’t understand and needs to leave, Regis assigns Nyx to be Noctis’ bodyguard. Noctis continues to defy his father by picking Luna up from her Niflheim escort himself (in a sports car of course) with Nyx. The rebellion within Insomnia makes a minor attempt on Noctis’ and Luna’s lives, but they make it back to the castle safely. Unimpressed with Noctis’ show of bravery, Luna reprimands him for remaining in the city and endangering himself. She refuses his affection when Noctis reiterates that he won’t leave and abandon her or his people. On the day of the signing ceremony, traitorous Kingsglaive serving Niflheim kidnap Luna and blame the rebellion, making sure that Noctis and Nyx know about it first. Noctis demands that his father send the Kingsglaive to rescue her, but Regis refuses, wanting to keep the Glaives close to protect his son. In frustration, Noctis runs off to save Luna himself, leaving Regis no choice but to send the Glaives after him. In turn, he leaves himself, the crystal, and the ring vulnerable to attack. He proceeds with the signing ceremony as planned, prepared to sacrifice everything for his son’s safety. Meanwhile, Noctis, Nyx, and the Glaives fight a giant octopus that they find on a ship that looks suspiciously like a Niflheim aircraft to rescue Luna. Members of the Kingsglaive turn on Noctis, and when he and Nyx reach Luna, she warns them of a trap. Noctis realizes that Niflheim tricked him specifically to try to kill him. His father was right, and his hope for peace is naive. The situation gets even worse when Luna, Noctis, and Nyx see Insomnia’s wall falling, enemy ships closing in on the city, and the crystal stolen. They rush back to the castle in time to witness Regis’ death. General Glauca pursues them next to finish the job of crushing Lucis’ last hope. Nyx distracts him while Luna and Noctis escape. Along the way, they are separated. Looking over the ruins of Insomnia, Noctis vows to avenge his father and his people, reclaim his throne, and find Luna. While he still doesn’t understand his own importance, he must ensure that his father’s sacrifice wasn’t in vain. The events of Final Fantasy XV begin. This retelling basically follows Kingsglaive’s existing story, but creates more conflict by adding Prince Noctis. The presence of the prince heightens the potential costs of failure, and the characters’ actions have a greater sense of purpose. Niflheim can destroy or capture every hope that Lucis has, the ring, the crystal, Luna, and Noctis. Lucis could lose all hope for the future instead of some unspecified amount of it. Nyx’s actions and extravagant battles directly relate to protecting Noctis, a character that we can see and understand as opposed to an abstract concept. For fun, the rebellion adds more obstacles and distracts Noctis from his true enemies. To create even more conflicts that help define the characters and the world, Noctis has differing beliefs from his father and Luna. He’s also easier to relate to because he doesn’t fully understand his destiny and all these magical objects either. The greatest losses and violent acts show Noctis his mistakes and motivate him to correct them, which gives them more meaning. They also highlight Niflheim’s cruelty. On Noctis’ insistence, Lucis acts in accordance with Niflheim’s treaty and still the empire destroys Insomnia and attempts to kill Noctis and Luna. The existing story highlights Regis’ cruelty when he defies the peace treaty from the start, sacrifices his people, and doesn’t seem to care. Fifteen years after The Spirits Within, Final Fantasy looks better than ever, but the quality of its storytelling remains about the same. It could have been different though, if only Noctis had stayed. Even if he only plays a minor role, Noctis’ very presence creates a problem that the characters must solve at all costs. He’s the object of his people’s hatred, the son that his father protected over his allies and kingdom. He’s the hope that Niflheim wants to destroy and Regis, Nyx, and Luna must protect. Without him, the characters can only fight over objects and people that may or may not be important and make horrendous sacrifices in pursuit of a nebulous future that may or may not already be safe and may or may not be good. For all of Kingsglaive’s action-packed fight scenes, no one has a battle worth fighting. --- Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today!
  7. Emily Palmieri

    Fulfilling Kaena’s Prophecy

    In 2003, creative partners Chris Delaporte and Patrick Daher released France’s first feature-length, computer-animated film Kaena: The Prophecy to average and mixed reviews. The two unknowns from the video game industry had still surpassed all obstacles and expectations even with their film’s lackluster reception. Their team of novices created a CGI film unlike any seen before by taking inspiration from video games rather than western 2D animation - a vision sparked by a chance meeting with Steven Spielberg. Its video game influences, however, didn't doom the film and its creators to their current obscurity. Trouble plagued Kaena's development, and its amateur team ultimately produced what critics called a world-heavy story told through ugly graphics. Regardless of the results, video games nudged Kaena into its unique place in the history of computer animated movies. Kaena: The Prophecy takes place on a dying world that evolved around a giant tree called Axis. When the tree’s life-giving sap begins drying up, its people refuse to accept that their so-called gods, sap creatures also struggling to survive on the opposite side of the planet, won’t help them. The protagonist Kaena sets out to save her people. She meets Opaz, the last member of an alien species known as the Vecarians, while on her quest. Through him, she discovers the origins of her planet and how to save it. The film’s history begins at Amazing Studio, founded by Eric Chahi and Frederic Savoir. At the time, Chahi was well known for Another World (AKA Out of this World), a cinematic platformer inspired by Prince of Persia. Chahi and Savoir founded Amazing Studio in 1992 to create their next ambitious platformer, Heart of Darkness. Chris Delaporte and Patrick Daher served as additional team members in the studio with Delaporte creating backgrounds and game screens and Daher contributing to the game’s many pre-rendered cutscenes. Daher was a self-taught 3D animator and video game designer. Delaporte was a graffiti artist and painter until Starwatcher, a canceled film that was slated to be the first feature-length CGI movie, inspired him to become a 3D artist. A pre-rendered teaser for Heart of Darkness appeared at E3 1995 attracting the attention of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas among others. This teaser showed a sample of the game’s 35 minutes of pre-rendered, computer-animated cutscenes. It impressed Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, co-founders of DreamWorks, so much that they invited the Amazing Studio team to DreamWorks’ offices in California to propose that they abandon the game and make a movie instead. Chahi and his team refused, wanting to stick with their original vision and complete the game even though development had dragged on for three years and would continue for another three. Not all of Chahi’s crew agreed though. Disappointed with their team’s decision, Daher and Delaporte left Amazing Studio the same year to begin their own video game project. The idea of creating a feature-length film with computer graphics intrigued Delaporte. At this time, the first film of its kind, Toy Story (1995), hadn’t been released. Delaporte and Daher hoped to create their own game like Heart of Darkness with a strong story and nice graphics to attract Hollywood’s attention again. For the next year, they worked without pay on a demo for Gaina, the game that would eventually become Kaena: The Prophecy. Delaporte created the story and world while Daher developed the game system. In 1997, Delaporte and Daher pitched Gaina to Denis Friedman, the project’s destined producer. Friedman also had a background in the video game industry. Starting in 1982, he worked as a game programmer for Atari until Jack Tramiel, the founder of the Commodore computer company, purchased it. During this transition, Friedman survived as one of 50 out of 3000 employees that weren’t laid off. From then until 1997, he moved between the United States and Europe as a game producer and general manager for Atari, Brøderbund Software, and Sony. Friedman then left his job as general director for Sony Computer Entertainment France to found Chaman Productions and pursue his interest in producing animation and franchises that spanned multiple mediums. When Friedman saw the demo for Gaina, he not only took it as Chaman’s first project but also proposed to produce a television movie based on it. Delaporte and Daher readily agreed. The two of them created a two minute cutscene to pitch the game and 52-minute movie based on it to 200 professionals at MIP TV. The demo received such praise that Friedman decided to expand the TV movie into a feature-length film. He set its budget at 18 million francs, about $4.9 million. The team also renamed the game and movie project from Gaina to Axis to better appeal to English speakers and a more global audience. Chaman was ready to assemble a crew to create Axis, the film that would become Kaena: The Prophecy, but this was a major feat to accomplish in Europe at the time. Unlike the American film industry, Europe didn’t have established animation studios like Disney, Pixar, or DreamWorks. Computer animation experts were also uncommon in France. Despite these difficulties, assistant director Virginie Guilminot accepted the challenge of building a crew of 3D artists from across Europe. With ages ranging from 20 to 30 years old, people with more talent, versatility, and motivation than experience ultimately made up the motley crew. Artists from the video game industry formed the team’s core, and beginner graphic designers and professionals from the audiovisual industry joined them. Delaporte originally filled the role of writer and artistic director, but after several months of confusion he realized that he would need to step up as the film’s director if he wanted it to reflect his vision. Friedman gave him permission to direct provided that he worked with a co-director. This would be Pascal Pinion, a traditional animator and storyboard artist for various American, British, and French television shows and films including Doug and the computer animated series Insektors. Patrick Bonneau took the role of animation director. In favor of finding a job in France, Bonneau had just ended a six year contract at George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Music where he contributed to films like Men in Black and Star Wars: Episode I. Starting with a team of 10, film production on Axis formally began in 1997. Over the next three years, Delaporte and the team wrote and polished the script to ensure that it targeted its intended audience and completed pre-production on the film. The script went through twelve versions in a year and a half. Japanese anime such as Akira greatly influenced Delaporte, who found it amazing that animated films could target adult audiences. Most western animated films at the time didn’t do this. Delaporte, 25 when he started writing Axis, determined that he would create a film that he as a young adult wanted to watch. Axis’ success would rely on an audience segment of 15 to 25-year-olds that larger studios in the animation industry had mostly ignored. Importantly, this segment also consumed the largest amount of video games and comics. Delaporte and the team targeted that demographic, creating a Lara Croft-like protagonist with an exaggerated feminine form and scanty clothing. The themes of the film also focused on the transition from childhood to adulthood, a relatable concept for teenagers. While the film originated in France, Delaporte and Friedman wanted to produce it in English. The team felt that Axis’ universal coming-of-age theme would be best portrayed in a more globally known language than French. The assembled cast included Kirsten Dunst, who played Kiki in the English dub of Kiki’s Delivery Service, as Kaena and Richard Harris, the original Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films, as Opaz. On a side note, Kaena: The Prophecy, as Richard Harris’ last film, is dedicated in his memory. The production phase and animation began in 2000, and the inexperienced crew quickly realized their weaknesses. Their 3D character models had too many polygons to render in a reasonable time, requiring that the crew remodel all of them. Most prominently, however, Friedman grossly underestimated the film’s original budget. Because they didn’t have the money to invest in custom-made tools and plugins for special effects and animations, the team relied on commercially available software, often using them unconventionally to attain the desired results. The team used software meant for fabric, for example, to create hair. This would later make Kaena: The Prophecy the first computer-animated film of this scale to use only out-of-the-box software and hardware. The team also didn’t have the luxury to update the film as technology improved throughout its development like larger production houses commonly did. Its ambition made the novice studio the laughing stock of the industry, but that only made its team more determined to succeed. In the wake of the failures of other adult-oriented animated films, including Titan AE and the box office bomb Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, no one believed Axis would pay off. Its original science fiction story and unconventional art style, mixing Japanese anime-like artwork, European imagery, video game-reminiscent characters, and sepia tone realism, also made Axis a risky venture. Combine these factors with a crew that spent as much time botching and redoing as they did making the film, the studio looked both incompetent and naïve. Chaman Productions forged on, however, even beginning production on the accompanying Axis video game for the PlayStation 2. Twenty members of Chaman co-developed it with an additional team of five from Namco in Japan. Friedman also discussed tentative plans for releasing the game on the GameCube, Game Boy Advance, and Xbox and future plans for more Axis games and movies with Gamespot in 2001. Later that year, the project went through its final name change. The Axis video game became Kaena, and the film became Kaena: The Prophecy. At the height of the movie’s production, the team swelled to 70 people, which included members of Canadian studios who would animate 70% of the movie. At the midpoint of the property’s production in January 2002, Friedman promised that Kaena would appear in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival as Shrek had. Two months later, disaster struck. Chaman Productions, weighed down by an unrelated multiplayer online game project that it was also producing, filed for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy took the team completely by surprise, its unexpected nature rendering it even more devastating. Delaporte, Daher, and Friedman dreamed of Chaman becoming the European DreamWorks and looked forward to continuing to work together. Those dreams were over. The next chapter of Kaena: The Prophecy’s development began at Xilam, the studio that would complete the production of both the film and companion game. Xilam, founded by Marc du Pontavice, was one of Europe’s leading animation companies best known for Space Goofs and Oggy and the Cockroaches. It was about to start production on Stupid Invaders, a computer-animated movie based on Space Goofs, when Pontavice heard that Chaman filed for bankruptcy. Pontavice found Kaena fascinating, its story inspired, beautiful, and dense with an intelligently constructed universe. The half complete film, however, suffered from an underdeveloped studio with no experience in animation. As co-founder of Gaumont TV, founder of Gaumont Multimedia, and founder of Xilam Animation, Pontavice had extensive experience in computer graphic, cartoon, feature film, and video game production, but completing the project would still challenge him. The budget for the film and game lacked an estimated 5.3 to 6.1 million euros, about $9.5 to $11 million, the film’s investors threatened to cut their losses, and the crew felt similarly disillusioned. Over twelve companies inspected the Kaena property, but only Pontavice had the resources and experience to make an offer to take over the project. Xilam bought the game and movie for a mere 150,000 euros, roughly $270,000, each. For the first three months, Pontavice directed the crew to create a new demo that would attract new investments and reinvigorate the team. Once he’d obtained adequate funding and improved morale, Pontavice reconstructed the full 70-person team and continued production in full force. Kaena: The Prophecy arrived in France in June 2003, and the game released the following year. Despite its French origins, the film proved easy to export and sold in more than 40 territories. The film cost a total of 14.5 million euros, about $26 million, making it the most expensive animated feature ever produced in France at that time. It won as the first computer-animated, feature-length film in France, but the Spanish movie The Enchanted Forest (2001) beat it as the first such European film. Xilam also finished the Kaena video game in-house. Namco published it on the PlayStation 2 in April 2004 but, bizarrely, only ever released it in Japan. From the time Delaporte and Daher began working on their initial game demo to the PlayStation 2 game’s release, the project spanned nine years. Since their release, the film and the game have mostly been forgotten, and the creators have moved on to new projects. The Kaena action-adventure game featured beautiful pre-rendered backgrounds akin to PlayStation-era Final Fantasy games, but its poor controls and limited release made it easy to overlook. The film had a slightly better reception, receiving a Golden Globe Award nomination, but the recognition was not enough to keep it out of obscurity. After the film’s release, with the crew eager to use all the experience they’d gained, Delaporte began work on a sequel. He didn’t get far before the project quickly and quietly ended. Since then, he has turned his focus to producing live-action and commercials. Information on Daher is elusive, but he appears to be an animator for commercials. Denis Friedman founded a new company called Denis Friedman Productions. Over the past few years, he successfully Kickstarted and created the pilot episode of his latest project Urbance, a hybrid 2D-3D animated series targeting 16 to 25-year-olds. Marc du Pontavice continues to produce mostly 2D- and 3D-animated series for children under Xilam. Video games influenced Kaena’s development from its inception, but they shouldn’t be blamed for France’s first CGI movie’s poor reception. The novice video game artists that created Kaena: The Prophecy sought to capture the hearts of teenage and young adult gamers with a rich world, a mature story, and realistic but stylized artwork. Video games inspired, among all of Kaena’s other accomplishments, one of the first movies to explore the distinctive storytelling properties of feature-length CGI films. The creators dared to make a film for a mature audience with a unique story and an art style unlike any seen before or since. In an industry that to this day rarely ventures outside children’s and family comedies, they dared to make a film in a genre that no one has yet mastered in CGI film. While the fact that its creators were ambitious novices working in a young art form may have doomed Kaena to mediocrity from the start, it took people who didn’t know better to try what more entrenched experts would never do. Kaena prophesized that CGI films didn’t have to be translations of 2D cartoons into 3D or live-action into photorealistic graphics; the fledgling art form had as many great stories to tell in novel ways as any other medium. The challenge remained figuring out how to use it effectively to tell them. Video games inspired the Kaena experiment and have since inspired some of the most flawed, unique, bizarre, and amazing movies CGI has to offer. Imagine the films to come when just the right games motivate just the right teams to fulfill the prophecy that Kaena foretold.
  8. In 2003, creative partners Chris Delaporte and Patrick Daher released France’s first feature-length, computer-animated film Kaena: The Prophecy to average and mixed reviews. The two unknowns from the video game industry had still surpassed all obstacles and expectations even with their film’s lackluster reception. Their team of novices created a CGI film unlike any seen before by taking inspiration from video games rather than western 2D animation - a vision sparked by a chance meeting with Steven Spielberg. Its video game influences, however, didn't doom the film and its creators to their current obscurity. Trouble plagued Kaena's development, and its amateur team ultimately produced what critics called a world-heavy story told through ugly graphics. Regardless of the results, video games nudged Kaena into its unique place in the history of computer animated movies. Kaena: The Prophecy takes place on a dying world that evolved around a giant tree called Axis. When the tree’s life-giving sap begins drying up, its people refuse to accept that their so-called gods, sap creatures also struggling to survive on the opposite side of the planet, won’t help them. The protagonist Kaena sets out to save her people. She meets Opaz, the last member of an alien species known as the Vecarians, while on her quest. Through him, she discovers the origins of her planet and how to save it. The film’s history begins at Amazing Studio, founded by Eric Chahi and Frederic Savoir. At the time, Chahi was well known for Another World (AKA Out of this World), a cinematic platformer inspired by Prince of Persia. Chahi and Savoir founded Amazing Studio in 1992 to create their next ambitious platformer, Heart of Darkness. Chris Delaporte and Patrick Daher served as additional team members in the studio with Delaporte creating backgrounds and game screens and Daher contributing to the game’s many pre-rendered cutscenes. Daher was a self-taught 3D animator and video game designer. Delaporte was a graffiti artist and painter until Starwatcher, a canceled film that was slated to be the first feature-length CGI movie, inspired him to become a 3D artist. A pre-rendered teaser for Heart of Darkness appeared at E3 1995 attracting the attention of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas among others. This teaser showed a sample of the game’s 35 minutes of pre-rendered, computer-animated cutscenes. It impressed Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, co-founders of DreamWorks, so much that they invited the Amazing Studio team to DreamWorks’ offices in California to propose that they abandon the game and make a movie instead. Chahi and his team refused, wanting to stick with their original vision and complete the game even though development had dragged on for three years and would continue for another three. Not all of Chahi’s crew agreed though. Disappointed with their team’s decision, Daher and Delaporte left Amazing Studio the same year to begin their own video game project. The idea of creating a feature-length film with computer graphics intrigued Delaporte. At this time, the first film of its kind, Toy Story (1995), hadn’t been released. Delaporte and Daher hoped to create their own game like Heart of Darkness with a strong story and nice graphics to attract Hollywood’s attention again. For the next year, they worked without pay on a demo for Gaina, the game that would eventually become Kaena: The Prophecy. Delaporte created the story and world while Daher developed the game system. In 1997, Delaporte and Daher pitched Gaina to Denis Friedman, the project’s destined producer. Friedman also had a background in the video game industry. Starting in 1982, he worked as a game programmer for Atari until Jack Tramiel, the founder of the Commodore computer company, purchased it. During this transition, Friedman survived as one of 50 out of 3000 employees that weren’t laid off. From then until 1997, he moved between the United States and Europe as a game producer and general manager for Atari, Brøderbund Software, and Sony. Friedman then left his job as general director for Sony Computer Entertainment France to found Chaman Productions and pursue his interest in producing animation and franchises that spanned multiple mediums. When Friedman saw the demo for Gaina, he not only took it as Chaman’s first project but also proposed to produce a television movie based on it. Delaporte and Daher readily agreed. The two of them created a two minute cutscene to pitch the game and 52-minute movie based on it to 200 professionals at MIP TV. The demo received such praise that Friedman decided to expand the TV movie into a feature-length film. He set its budget at 18 million francs, about $4.9 million. The team also renamed the game and movie project from Gaina to Axis to better appeal to English speakers and a more global audience. Chaman was ready to assemble a crew to create Axis, the film that would become Kaena: The Prophecy, but this was a major feat to accomplish in Europe at the time. Unlike the American film industry, Europe didn’t have established animation studios like Disney, Pixar, or DreamWorks. Computer animation experts were also uncommon in France. Despite these difficulties, assistant director Virginie Guilminot accepted the challenge of building a crew of 3D artists from across Europe. With ages ranging from 20 to 30 years old, people with more talent, versatility, and motivation than experience ultimately made up the motley crew. Artists from the video game industry formed the team’s core, and beginner graphic designers and professionals from the audiovisual industry joined them. Delaporte originally filled the role of writer and artistic director, but after several months of confusion he realized that he would need to step up as the film’s director if he wanted it to reflect his vision. Friedman gave him permission to direct provided that he worked with a co-director. This would be Pascal Pinion, a traditional animator and storyboard artist for various American, British, and French television shows and films including Doug and the computer animated series Insektors. Patrick Bonneau took the role of animation director. In favor of finding a job in France, Bonneau had just ended a six year contract at George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Music where he contributed to films like Men in Black and Star Wars: Episode I. Starting with a team of 10, film production on Axis formally began in 1997. Over the next three years, Delaporte and the team wrote and polished the script to ensure that it targeted its intended audience and completed pre-production on the film. The script went through twelve versions in a year and a half. Japanese anime such as Akira greatly influenced Delaporte, who found it amazing that animated films could target adult audiences. Most western animated films at the time didn’t do this. Delaporte, 25 when he started writing Axis, determined that he would create a film that he as a young adult wanted to watch. Axis’ success would rely on an audience segment of 15 to 25-year-olds that larger studios in the animation industry had mostly ignored. Importantly, this segment also consumed the largest amount of video games and comics. Delaporte and the team targeted that demographic, creating a Lara Croft-like protagonist with an exaggerated feminine form and scanty clothing. The themes of the film also focused on the transition from childhood to adulthood, a relatable concept for teenagers. While the film originated in France, Delaporte and Friedman wanted to produce it in English. The team felt that Axis’ universal coming-of-age theme would be best portrayed in a more globally known language than French. The assembled cast included Kirsten Dunst, who played Kiki in the English dub of Kiki’s Delivery Service, as Kaena and Richard Harris, the original Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films, as Opaz. On a side note, Kaena: The Prophecy, as Richard Harris’ last film, is dedicated in his memory. The production phase and animation began in 2000, and the inexperienced crew quickly realized their weaknesses. Their 3D character models had too many polygons to render in a reasonable time, requiring that the crew remodel all of them. Most prominently, however, Friedman grossly underestimated the film’s original budget. Because they didn’t have the money to invest in custom-made tools and plugins for special effects and animations, the team relied on commercially available software, often using them unconventionally to attain the desired results. The team used software meant for fabric, for example, to create hair. This would later make Kaena: The Prophecy the first computer-animated film of this scale to use only out-of-the-box software and hardware. The team also didn’t have the luxury to update the film as technology improved throughout its development like larger production houses commonly did. Its ambition made the novice studio the laughing stock of the industry, but that only made its team more determined to succeed. In the wake of the failures of other adult-oriented animated films, including Titan AE and the box office bomb Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, no one believed Axis would pay off. Its original science fiction story and unconventional art style, mixing Japanese anime-like artwork, European imagery, video game-reminiscent characters, and sepia tone realism, also made Axis a risky venture. Combine these factors with a crew that spent as much time botching and redoing as they did making the film, the studio looked both incompetent and naïve. Chaman Productions forged on, however, even beginning production on the accompanying Axis video game for the PlayStation 2. Twenty members of Chaman co-developed it with an additional team of five from Namco in Japan. Friedman also discussed tentative plans for releasing the game on the GameCube, Game Boy Advance, and Xbox and future plans for more Axis games and movies with Gamespot in 2001. Later that year, the project went through its final name change. The Axis video game became Kaena, and the film became Kaena: The Prophecy. At the height of the movie’s production, the team swelled to 70 people, which included members of Canadian studios who would animate 70% of the movie. At the midpoint of the property’s production in January 2002, Friedman promised that Kaena would appear in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival as Shrek had. Two months later, disaster struck. Chaman Productions, weighed down by an unrelated multiplayer online game project that it was also producing, filed for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy took the team completely by surprise, its unexpected nature rendering it even more devastating. Delaporte, Daher, and Friedman dreamed of Chaman becoming the European DreamWorks and looked forward to continuing to work together. Those dreams were over. The next chapter of Kaena: The Prophecy’s development began at Xilam, the studio that would complete the production of both the film and companion game. Xilam, founded by Marc du Pontavice, was one of Europe’s leading animation companies best known for Space Goofs and Oggy and the Cockroaches. It was about to start production on Stupid Invaders, a computer-animated movie based on Space Goofs, when Pontavice heard that Chaman filed for bankruptcy. Pontavice found Kaena fascinating, its story inspired, beautiful, and dense with an intelligently constructed universe. The half complete film, however, suffered from an underdeveloped studio with no experience in animation. As co-founder of Gaumont TV, founder of Gaumont Multimedia, and founder of Xilam Animation, Pontavice had extensive experience in computer graphic, cartoon, feature film, and video game production, but completing the project would still challenge him. The budget for the film and game lacked an estimated 5.3 to 6.1 million euros, about $9.5 to $11 million, the film’s investors threatened to cut their losses, and the crew felt similarly disillusioned. Over twelve companies inspected the Kaena property, but only Pontavice had the resources and experience to make an offer to take over the project. Xilam bought the game and movie for a mere 150,000 euros, roughly $270,000, each. For the first three months, Pontavice directed the crew to create a new demo that would attract new investments and reinvigorate the team. Once he’d obtained adequate funding and improved morale, Pontavice reconstructed the full 70-person team and continued production in full force. Kaena: The Prophecy arrived in France in June 2003, and the game released the following year. Despite its French origins, the film proved easy to export and sold in more than 40 territories. The film cost a total of 14.5 million euros, about $26 million, making it the most expensive animated feature ever produced in France at that time. It won as the first computer-animated, feature-length film in France, but the Spanish movie The Enchanted Forest (2001) beat it as the first such European film. Xilam also finished the Kaena video game in-house. Namco published it on the PlayStation 2 in April 2004 but, bizarrely, only ever released it in Japan. From the time Delaporte and Daher began working on their initial game demo to the PlayStation 2 game’s release, the project spanned nine years. Since their release, the film and the game have mostly been forgotten, and the creators have moved on to new projects. The Kaena action-adventure game featured beautiful pre-rendered backgrounds akin to PlayStation-era Final Fantasy games, but its poor controls and limited release made it easy to overlook. The film had a slightly better reception, receiving a Golden Globe Award nomination, but the recognition was not enough to keep it out of obscurity. After the film’s release, with the crew eager to use all the experience they’d gained, Delaporte began work on a sequel. He didn’t get far before the project quickly and quietly ended. Since then, he has turned his focus to producing live-action and commercials. Information on Daher is elusive, but he appears to be an animator for commercials. Denis Friedman founded a new company called Denis Friedman Productions. Over the past few years, he successfully Kickstarted and created the pilot episode of his latest project Urbance, a hybrid 2D-3D animated series targeting 16 to 25-year-olds. Marc du Pontavice continues to produce mostly 2D- and 3D-animated series for children under Xilam. Video games influenced Kaena’s development from its inception, but they shouldn’t be blamed for France’s first CGI movie’s poor reception. The novice video game artists that created Kaena: The Prophecy sought to capture the hearts of teenage and young adult gamers with a rich world, a mature story, and realistic but stylized artwork. Video games inspired, among all of Kaena’s other accomplishments, one of the first movies to explore the distinctive storytelling properties of feature-length CGI films. The creators dared to make a film for a mature audience with a unique story and an art style unlike any seen before or since. In an industry that to this day rarely ventures outside children’s and family comedies, they dared to make a film in a genre that no one has yet mastered in CGI film. While the fact that its creators were ambitious novices working in a young art form may have doomed Kaena to mediocrity from the start, it took people who didn’t know better to try what more entrenched experts would never do. Kaena prophesized that CGI films didn’t have to be translations of 2D cartoons into 3D or live-action into photorealistic graphics; the fledgling art form had as many great stories to tell in novel ways as any other medium. The challenge remained figuring out how to use it effectively to tell them. Video games inspired the Kaena experiment and have since inspired some of the most flawed, unique, bizarre, and amazing movies CGI has to offer. Imagine the films to come when just the right games motivate just the right teams to fulfill the prophecy that Kaena foretold. View full article
  9. Many people remember the Super Mario Bros. movie from 1993. The live-action film involved Mario Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi Mario (John Leguizamo) battling against Bowser (Dennis Hopper) and his minions across dimensions. It's... weird to say the least and it performed so catastrophically that Nintendo has rarely allowed its characters to set foot in another film since. However, many people don't know that there is actually another Super Mario Bros. movie that released several years before, becoming the first video game movie in history (along with another film that happened to release the same day, but that's a story for another time). Super Mario Bros.: Peach-hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen!, which roughly translates to Super Mario Bros.: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach, released in Japanese theaters on July 20, 1986. The film was intended largely as an advertisement for the Famicom Disk System and the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 (known as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels), which had both released earlier that year. After its theatrical release, the film pretty much disappeared. Nintendo didn't consider the film worth distributing on VHS or bringing it to regions outside of Japan. However, the Super Mario Bros. anime did make it to a limited VHS and Betamax release that was solely intended for video rental outlets. This extremely small-scale distribution made it one of the rarest video cassette tapes in the world. After tape-based media began to phase out in favor of DVDs, Nintendo did not re-release Super Mario Bros.: Peach-hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen! and the film fell into complete obscurity. The film was, for all intents and purposes, considered lost with only preserved magazine advertisements and a scattered assortment of merchandise testifying to its existence. Obsessed Mario Bros. fans scoured the world for years searching for one of the elusive tapes. Then, several years ago, someone struck gold. Uploading the footage to YouTube, the source files for the movie began bouncing around the internet. Of course, the video ripped off of a VHS tape wasn't of the best quality, so a group of fans undertook a restoration effort, revamping the film into a crisp, clear experience and translating subtitles for English and Spanish audiences. These efforts concluded earlier this year in September when YouTuber Magiblot1 uploaded the most recently remastered version of the 60-minute film. These efforts weren't supported by Nintendo, of course, and several uploads of the unobtainable film have been taken down from YouTube. However, Magiblot1's restoration remains untouched by Nintendo's copyright arm - so far. Aside from watching these videos via streaming services like YouTube, the only other option is to track down an old VHS/Betamax tape. If you can manage to find a copy up for auction on an obscure corner of the internet (and that's a big if), expect to pay hundreds of dollars. I'm not going to lie - this is a bizarre movie. For starters, Mario and Luigi live in our world, running a grocery store. Mario plays the Super Famicom to escape the drudgery of life, but one day Princess Peach leaps out of the screen of his television with Bowser in hot pursuit. The Koopa King manages to make off with Peach and life seems to return to normal. That is, until a dog from the Mushroom Kingdom manages to reopen the portal and seemingly recruit the brothers to rescue the princess. Though the film is ostensibly for kids, it does feature words that roughly translate into curses and a surprising amount of violence directed toward Luigi (who wears blue and yellow). One sequence in the film even involves Luigi tripping out on mushrooms. All in all, this is a pretty fascinating piece of film and video game history that I feel glad to have seen. The strange eccentricity comes across as oddly endearing and I enjoyed it much more than the live-action film the followed it. Think of what might have been if this title had been localized for Western audiences and released prior to the 1993 debacle that largely tanked video game movies in the eyes of Hollywood and game publishers for almost two decades. The landscape of video game movies could be vastly different today if Nintendo had released its films a little differently. View full article
  10. Many people remember the Super Mario Bros. movie from 1993. The live-action film involved Mario Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi Mario (John Leguizamo) battling against Bowser (Dennis Hopper) and his minions across dimensions. It's... weird to say the least and it performed so catastrophically that Nintendo has rarely allowed its characters to set foot in another film since. However, many people don't know that there is actually another Super Mario Bros. movie that released several years before, becoming the first video game movie in history (along with another film that happened to release the same day, but that's a story for another time). Super Mario Bros.: Peach-hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen!, which roughly translates to Super Mario Bros.: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach, released in Japanese theaters on July 20, 1986. The film was intended largely as an advertisement for the Famicom Disk System and the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 (known as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels), which had both released earlier that year. After its theatrical release, the film pretty much disappeared. Nintendo didn't consider the film worth distributing on VHS or bringing it to regions outside of Japan. However, the Super Mario Bros. anime did make it to a limited VHS and Betamax release that was solely intended for video rental outlets. This extremely small-scale distribution made it one of the rarest video cassette tapes in the world. After tape-based media began to phase out in favor of DVDs, Nintendo did not re-release Super Mario Bros.: Peach-hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen! and the film fell into complete obscurity. The film was, for all intents and purposes, considered lost with only preserved magazine advertisements and a scattered assortment of merchandise testifying to its existence. Obsessed Mario Bros. fans scoured the world for years searching for one of the elusive tapes. Then, several years ago, someone struck gold. Uploading the footage to YouTube, the source files for the movie began bouncing around the internet. Of course, the video ripped off of a VHS tape wasn't of the best quality, so a group of fans undertook a restoration effort, revamping the film into a crisp, clear experience and translating subtitles for English and Spanish audiences. These efforts concluded earlier this year in September when YouTuber Magiblot1 uploaded the most recently remastered version of the 60-minute film. These efforts weren't supported by Nintendo, of course, and several uploads of the unobtainable film have been taken down from YouTube. However, Magiblot1's restoration remains untouched by Nintendo's copyright arm - so far. Aside from watching these videos via streaming services like YouTube, the only other option is to track down an old VHS/Betamax tape. If you can manage to find a copy up for auction on an obscure corner of the internet (and that's a big if), expect to pay hundreds of dollars. I'm not going to lie - this is a bizarre movie. For starters, Mario and Luigi live in our world, running a grocery store. Mario plays the Super Famicom to escape the drudgery of life, but one day Princess Peach leaps out of the screen of his television with Bowser in hot pursuit. The Koopa King manages to make off with Peach and life seems to return to normal. That is, until a dog from the Mushroom Kingdom manages to reopen the portal and seemingly recruit the brothers to rescue the princess. Though the film is ostensibly for kids, it does feature words that roughly translate into curses and a surprising amount of violence directed toward Luigi (who wears blue and yellow). One sequence in the film even involves Luigi tripping out on mushrooms. All in all, this is a pretty fascinating piece of film and video game history that I feel glad to have seen. The strange eccentricity comes across as oddly endearing and I enjoyed it much more than the live-action film the followed it. Think of what might have been if this title had been localized for Western audiences and released prior to the 1993 debacle that largely tanked video game movies in the eyes of Hollywood and game publishers for almost two decades. The landscape of video game movies could be vastly different today if Nintendo had released its films a little differently.
  11. As someone who reviews CGI movies in her spare time, I frequently watch movies based on games I’ve never played. .hack//G.U. Trilogy, for example, is an adaptation of the three .hack//G.U. video games for PlayStation 2: Rebirth, Reminisce, and Redemption. Unlike other video game-based movies such as Tekken: Blood Vengeance and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, however, I found Trilogy mostly just frustrating and overwhelming to watch. Every few minutes, from the beginning to the very last scene, the film displays emotionally intense events that have little context or explanation and resolves them by introducing more confusing elements. Centering on Haseo, a player of the fictitious MMORPG The World, Trilogy takes place in the same universe as .hack//Sign and .hack//Beyond the World, but with a different set of characters. Because it relies on the viewer’s knowledge of the games and previous entries in the franchise, including the direct prequel anime series .hack//Roots, some would say that Trilogy was made for fans and doesn’t need to explain itself. Examining Roots and Let’s Plays of the games, however, only makes the movie more infuriating. The film’s loyalty to the games and disregard for explanation and focus turns the .hack//G.U. story into an irritating series of inciting incidents. In terms of narrative structure, an inciting incident establishes the central problem. Without this event, the story would never begin. In The Matrix, for example, the inciting incident occurs when Morpheus decides that Thomas Anderson is the One they’ve been looking for. The rest of the movie shows Morpheus’ struggle to convince Thomas, also known as Neo, of this and to reveal his hidden abilities. In mysteries such as Sherlock Holmes, often the discovery of a dead body incites the protagonist to find the killer. The problem created by the inciting incident helps guide the story and motivate the characters. .hack//G.U. Trilogy tells the story of Haseo, a player of the futuristic MMORPG known as The World. After a mysterious character known as Tri-Edge kills Haseo’s friend Shino in the game, she falls comatose in the real world, and Haseo swears vengeance. During his quest to level up and hunt for Tri-Edge, he attracts the attention of G.U. (which has several meanings). This organization monitors AIDA, a mysterious phenomenon that infects programs and players, causes players to fall comatose in the real world, and wreaks havoc in The World. G.U. believes that Haseo is an Epitaph User, a player with a hidden special ability to fight AIDA. Atoli, a player who uses the same character model as Shino did, also interrupts Haseo’s obsessive quest when she encourages him to stop thinking about the past and to live in the present. At the same time, Ovan, a friend who disappeared shortly before Tri-Edge killed Shino, returns to ensure that Haseo carries out his revenge for Ovan’s own purposes. Shino’s murder in The World and resulting comatose state outside of the game would seem to be the inciting incident that motivates Haseo’s quest to save her and confront their mutual friend Ovan for causing her strange coma. Like the .hack entries that preceded it, however, Trilogy refuses to face this conflict directly, instead cluttering the story with unimportant details and events. While the games and the anime somewhat get away with it, an hour and a half long movie that condenses 60+ hours of gameplay can’t afford to waste time on clutter. The resulting film not only proceeds through seemingly random and dramatic events with no apparent connection to the main conflict at a hectic pace, but also accentuates the plot holes, irrelevant details, and weak characters in the games. The games introduced Atoli to help Haseo overcome his unhealthy obsessions, but Trilogy instead renders her as a weak and needy supporting character who derails the pacing with an elaborate explanation of the cliché backstory she had in the games. The film includes, but fails to adequately explain, several other elements from the games, including the characters’ special powers and even the locations the action takes place in, which further distracts from the story and adds to its chaotic pace. The movie tops off the confusion by introducing a new character to resolve the story, which avoids explaining the characters who are actually important to the conflict and who the audience already doesn’t understand. In the games and the movie, Atoli teaches Haseo acceptance and forgiveness, but in the movie particularly, she also confuses his character and distracts from his goals. Six months after Shino’s in-game death, Haseo has driven himself mad with his quest for revenge. To find information on Tri-Edge’s whereabouts, he has resorted to killing anyone who may be associated with Shino’s killer or even player killing. He plays The World only to gain strength and defeat Tri-Edge. He treats everyone else with contempt and disinterest. Given that Haseo spends most of the movie screaming, laughing manically, shaking, and physically transforming into a monster, a character like Atoli can help the audience relate to him. Unfortunately, Haseo’s friendship with Atoli is forced and unbelievable. As a high school student in the real world, Atoli has been rejected by her peers as a useless annoyance. She escapes to The World to find something better and happens to run into Haseo when he mistakes her for Shino. To prove her usefulness, she resolves to help him for no reason other than he looks sad. Haseo gives her absolutely no encouragement. In the two scenes between Haseo and Atoli in the first half of the movie, Haseo ignores her, blows her off, or shouts at her. Somehow Atoli doesn’t get the hint from this abusive stranger, and other characters even state that they seem to like each other even though little visual evidence supports this claim. Haseo’s attitude changes for no reason in the middle of the movie when, desperate to gain his affection after he yells at her, Atoli disappears to search for Tri-Edge herself. When Haseo finds her, he seems genuinely concerned for her even though he’s still shown no great interest in anyone or anything other than Shino, Ovan, and Tri-Edge until this point. Atoli further distracts from an important plot point in Haseo’s quest when she hijacks fifteen minutes of screen time to explain her backstory in a ridiculous and disruptive way. For the first half of the movie, Haseo believes that he must defeat Tri-Edge in order to save Shino. He actually does defeat Tri-Edge… immediately before The World transforms from an MMORPG into an abstract interactive art piece representing Atoli’s brain. “Wait!” Haseo shouts as Tri-Edge disintegrates. “Tell me how to return Shino to the way she was!” Wordlessly, Tri-Edge explodes into a thousand pieces and disappears. Haseo’s one hope for saving Shino is gone. The battle that he trained for months to win has gained him nothing. Out of clues, he curses… indifferently. Then, he turns to Atoli and continues a sentimental conversation they started before the fight began as if nothing happened. Seconds later, AIDA pops out of a set of nearby lockers and attacks Atoli. This attack sends her consciousness into an abstract representation of her own psychological state, voices of abusive classmates and all. To save her, Haseo must travel into her brain and convince her that he genuinely cares about her. He succeeds as part of a ridiculous, mid-movie, romantic music video… WHAT!? Not only does this sequence fail to convey any useful information, but it really couldn’t convince anyone that they have a healthy or sensible relationship. Atoli plays a similar role in the three PlayStation 2 games, but her friendship with Haseo has more time to develop naturally. In-game, Haseo begins as an angry, single-minded, and cold but secretly caring person rather than an insane one. While initially he finds Atoli annoying for what she believes, he tolerates her because of her usefulness as a healing support character. These factors make it easier to believe that Haseo eventually becomes friends with her even though initially she still has no business getting involved with him. Later, Atoli runs off to find Tri-Edge when she discovers that she looks like Shino and accuses Haseo of keeping her around only to look at her. She wants Haseo to see her as Atoli, not Shino, and praise her for helping him. By this point, Haseo considers her a friend, but hasn’t expressed it, and chases her to explain himself. The battle with Tri-Edge still cuts awkwardly into their conversation and ends with equally bizarre indifference from Haseo, but at least he has a reason for being sentimental. While Haseo must still travel into Atoli’s brain in the second game to save her from her somewhat cliché, tragic school girl backstory, the player has more and better reasons to sympathize with her. This event also doesn’t disrupt the flow of the story. Epitaphs also appear in the movie as overcomplicated clutter. In the games, which told a much grander tale, Epitaphs served as an important part of the combat system. Haseo, Shino, and Ovan, among a select few others, have an emotional connection to an Epitaph in The World. This gives them the ability to summon their Epitaph, a monster-like being that can fight AIDA with an ability known as “data drain.” In the movie, Epitaph Users receive a much simpler explanation: they are the only characters capable of fighting AIDA. Epitaphs and their user’s special abilities receive no explanation. The film doesn’t appear to need Epitaphs to tell its story, which justifies this simple explanation. It easily avoids using terms such as “data drain” without losing the audience’s ability to believe that Epitaph Users can defeat AIDA. Also, some battles that were originally Epitaph-centric in the games, such as Haseo’s fight with Atoli or his fight with Ovan, feature simpler combat between the characters and achieve the same effect. Finally, Haseo, Atoli, and Ovan all display special abilities that they use to fight AIDA without having to display their Epitaphs. Despite the abridged explanation, however, Epitaphs and Epitaph Users remain important to the combat and crucial to understanding the movie. Ultimately, they only add to the film’s chaos. While some fight scenes seem to acknowledge that they can’t assume the audience knows anything about Epitaphs, other fight scenes feature full-blown Epitaph battles with jarring Epitaph summonings. Imagine a movie about a fantasy RPG where half an hour into it one of the characters screams “Skeith!” without being prompted and finds himself in space with a giant monster. If this hypothetical movie has a clear setting and logical flow of actions until this point, such an event would seem random. In Trilogy’s case, an event like this comes off as yet another crazy and unexplained thing that happens. The movie doesn’t define Epitaph Users well enough to outline their abilities or limitations. Obviously, Epitaph Users summon Epitaphs, but Haseo, Ovan, and Atoli also have other strange abilities. For example, Haseo’s appearance changes with his sanity, starting from human-looking and ending as a three-tailed monster with claws. He also demonstrates the ability to fly and “fuse” with Atoli’s character. When upset, Atoli transforms into a monster. Ovan shows that he can fuse with AIDA and reset the entire game. Is that part of being an Epitaph User? Can all Epitaph Users do that? Can all players do that? What else can they do? What can’t they do? Without set limitations, it seems that they can do any random thing. Trilogy also fails to adequately explain the setting, which was also a problem, if less evident, in the games. About two-thirds of the movie take place in spaces that don’t resemble anything in an MMORPG. This includes a giant, white room that contains a single set of lockers; another giant, white room that contains books, a chair, and a little girl; and an infinitely high room of floating squares. What do these places represent in an online fantasy game? Battles between Epitaphs in the games and the movie also take place in voids of colors or darkness. The film makes no attempt to explain any of these spaces. The games explain the locations where Epitaph battles take place as alternate dimensions, but in a video game, what does that even mean? The games still make more sense than the movie, however, because in between levels that take place in these strange locations, players return to the normal RPG world and regain their sense of place. On the other hand, characters in Trilogy often move from one void to the next. The confusing elements and distractions continue until the end of the movie when the story resolves itself by introducing a new character who seems to exist for the sole purpose of motivating Ovan. In the final scenes, Ovan reveals that he killed Shino to anger Haseo into unlocking his true powers. He needs Haseo to be strong enough to kill him and save his sister Aina, another comatose victim of AIDA. Ovan accidently put her into a coma when AIDA infected and fused with him, causing him to attack her when he lost control. After explaining himself, Ovan kills Atoli to give Haseo the last push he needs to show his full rage and potential. In the final fight scene, Haseo kills Ovan and saves Shino, Atoli, and Aina. Haseo can’t accept Ovan’s betrayal and knows that Shino and Aina wouldn’t be happy without him though. He decides to travel to the depths of The World to retrieve Ovan. These events take place over most of the third game, but viewers unfamiliar with the games will likely find this convoluted narrative to be as ridiculous and difficult to follow as it sounds during the half hour the movie spends on it. Aina introduces an interesting idea, but even so, remains an unnecessary addition to the story. After Haseo kills Ovan, banishing him to the depths of The World, he wonders why Ovan would sacrifice himself for Shino and Aina when someone so close to them is now gone. At the end of the movie, Haseo reveals he and Shino are only somewhat distant friends. He also doesn’t know Aina. The audience, too, knows very little about Shino and Aina. Literally, the only person who really cares about them is Ovan. Perhaps this helps motivate Haseo’s decision to save him despite the six months of anguish Ovan made him endure. Aina doesn’t need to exist to show this idea though. The same purpose could be fulfilled with just Shino, if Ovan accidently killed her after he was infected with AIDA. This alternative telling still comments on the characters who really matter without introducing some random girl. The remnants from the games that don’t need to be in the movie, such as Atoli’s freak out, Epitaphs, the strange settings, and Aina, overall take away from the short hour and a half the movie has to explain the bare story of .hack//G.U. This is unfortunate because Haseo, Ovan, and Shino have the most interesting and human relationships in the movie. In the one scene between them in the first half of the film, Ovan reveals the humanity beneath Haseo’s tough exterior far better than Atoli ever does. Haseo hasn’t seen Ovan in six months. Ever since his mysterious disappearance, the guild Ovan founded fell apart, leaving Shino and Haseo distraught; Shino went into a coma; and Haseo went mad. In the midst of demanding why Ovan left him and Shino when they needed him most, Haseo looks at his hands as if horrified by what he’s become. It would seem that Haseo’s love for Shino has driven him to madness, but in a twist at the end of the movie, if he ever had such affection for her, he doesn’t show it. He even suggests that Shino treasures Ovan more than Haseo. Shino thanks Haseo for saving her but also keeps her distance. It appears that love didn’t drive his obsession, as one would expect. Loyalty to his friends did. All previous entries in the .hack//G.U. franchise also surround the story of these characters in distraction and fluff. The prequel anime series .hack//Roots spends some time explaining how Haseo, Shino, and Ovan became friends, how Shino died, and Haseo’s descent into madness. Half of the episodes, however, contain no content except for a large cast of supporting characters worrying about Haseo and not knowing what to do with themselves. The final episode ends on a cliffhanger with Haseo making an astonishing recovery immediately before the content in the first game begins. The games’ complicated tale features eight Epitaph Users, a large cast of memorable side characters, a plethora of tedious and enlightening side quests, and a main storyline that often revolves around fighting in tournaments. Despite the dozens of hours of gameplay, however, the games spend little time on Shino, Ovan, and Haseo’s relationship or the events that inspired Haseo’s quest to gain strength and defeat Tri-Edge in the first place. Even though all this extra content has memorable moments, the stories of the characters at the center of the series are left somewhat buried, unsatisfying and incomplete. .hack//G.U. Trilogy had the opportunity to tell Ovan, Haseo, and Shino’s story in a complete and concise way but failed even more spectacularly than the anime or the games did. Atoli should help Haseo accept, forgive, and grow up, but instead, the movie highlights what makes her a weak, needy, and clichéd character in the video games. Epitaphs served as part of the games’ combat system, but they only clutter and confuse the story when it can be told just as easily without them. Like Epitaphs, the strange, unexplained settings and Aina also overly complicate the story and hide its most interesting elements. By failing to focus on the central conflict, Trilogy loses the ideas that make the .hack//G.U. story great and clutters itself with so much irrelevant content that it resembles a series of random, traumatic, and inciting incidents. --- Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today! View full article
  12. Emily Palmieri

    A Series of Inciting Incidents

    As someone who reviews CGI movies in her spare time, I frequently watch movies based on games I’ve never played. .hack//G.U. Trilogy, for example, is an adaptation of the three .hack//G.U. video games for PlayStation 2: Rebirth, Reminisce, and Redemption. Unlike other video game-based movies such as Tekken: Blood Vengeance and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, however, I found Trilogy mostly just frustrating and overwhelming to watch. Every few minutes, from the beginning to the very last scene, the film displays emotionally intense events that have little context or explanation and resolves them by introducing more confusing elements. Centering on Haseo, a player of the fictitious MMORPG The World, Trilogy takes place in the same universe as .hack//Sign and .hack//Beyond the World, but with a different set of characters. Because it relies on the viewer’s knowledge of the games and previous entries in the franchise, including the direct prequel anime series .hack//Roots, some would say that Trilogy was made for fans and doesn’t need to explain itself. Examining Roots and Let’s Plays of the games, however, only makes the movie more infuriating. The film’s loyalty to the games and disregard for explanation and focus turns the .hack//G.U. story into an irritating series of inciting incidents. In terms of narrative structure, an inciting incident establishes the central problem. Without this event, the story would never begin. In The Matrix, for example, the inciting incident occurs when Morpheus decides that Thomas Anderson is the One they’ve been looking for. The rest of the movie shows Morpheus’ struggle to convince Thomas, also known as Neo, of this and to reveal his hidden abilities. In mysteries such as Sherlock Holmes, often the discovery of a dead body incites the protagonist to find the killer. The problem created by the inciting incident helps guide the story and motivate the characters. .hack//G.U. Trilogy tells the story of Haseo, a player of the futuristic MMORPG known as The World. After a mysterious character known as Tri-Edge kills Haseo’s friend Shino in the game, she falls comatose in the real world, and Haseo swears vengeance. During his quest to level up and hunt for Tri-Edge, he attracts the attention of G.U. (which has several meanings). This organization monitors AIDA, a mysterious phenomenon that infects programs and players, causes players to fall comatose in the real world, and wreaks havoc in The World. G.U. believes that Haseo is an Epitaph User, a player with a hidden special ability to fight AIDA. Atoli, a player who uses the same character model as Shino did, also interrupts Haseo’s obsessive quest when she encourages him to stop thinking about the past and to live in the present. At the same time, Ovan, a friend who disappeared shortly before Tri-Edge killed Shino, returns to ensure that Haseo carries out his revenge for Ovan’s own purposes. Shino’s murder in The World and resulting comatose state outside of the game would seem to be the inciting incident that motivates Haseo’s quest to save her and confront their mutual friend Ovan for causing her strange coma. Like the .hack entries that preceded it, however, Trilogy refuses to face this conflict directly, instead cluttering the story with unimportant details and events. While the games and the anime somewhat get away with it, an hour and a half long movie that condenses 60+ hours of gameplay can’t afford to waste time on clutter. The resulting film not only proceeds through seemingly random and dramatic events with no apparent connection to the main conflict at a hectic pace, but also accentuates the plot holes, irrelevant details, and weak characters in the games. The games introduced Atoli to help Haseo overcome his unhealthy obsessions, but Trilogy instead renders her as a weak and needy supporting character who derails the pacing with an elaborate explanation of the cliché backstory she had in the games. The film includes, but fails to adequately explain, several other elements from the games, including the characters’ special powers and even the locations the action takes place in, which further distracts from the story and adds to its chaotic pace. The movie tops off the confusion by introducing a new character to resolve the story, which avoids explaining the characters who are actually important to the conflict and who the audience already doesn’t understand. In the games and the movie, Atoli teaches Haseo acceptance and forgiveness, but in the movie particularly, she also confuses his character and distracts from his goals. Six months after Shino’s in-game death, Haseo has driven himself mad with his quest for revenge. To find information on Tri-Edge’s whereabouts, he has resorted to killing anyone who may be associated with Shino’s killer or even player killing. He plays The World only to gain strength and defeat Tri-Edge. He treats everyone else with contempt and disinterest. Given that Haseo spends most of the movie screaming, laughing manically, shaking, and physically transforming into a monster, a character like Atoli can help the audience relate to him. Unfortunately, Haseo’s friendship with Atoli is forced and unbelievable. As a high school student in the real world, Atoli has been rejected by her peers as a useless annoyance. She escapes to The World to find something better and happens to run into Haseo when he mistakes her for Shino. To prove her usefulness, she resolves to help him for no reason other than he looks sad. Haseo gives her absolutely no encouragement. In the two scenes between Haseo and Atoli in the first half of the movie, Haseo ignores her, blows her off, or shouts at her. Somehow Atoli doesn’t get the hint from this abusive stranger, and other characters even state that they seem to like each other even though little visual evidence supports this claim. Haseo’s attitude changes for no reason in the middle of the movie when, desperate to gain his affection after he yells at her, Atoli disappears to search for Tri-Edge herself. When Haseo finds her, he seems genuinely concerned for her even though he’s still shown no great interest in anyone or anything other than Shino, Ovan, and Tri-Edge until this point. Atoli further distracts from an important plot point in Haseo’s quest when she hijacks fifteen minutes of screen time to explain her backstory in a ridiculous and disruptive way. For the first half of the movie, Haseo believes that he must defeat Tri-Edge in order to save Shino. He actually does defeat Tri-Edge… immediately before The World transforms from an MMORPG into an abstract interactive art piece representing Atoli’s brain. “Wait!” Haseo shouts as Tri-Edge disintegrates. “Tell me how to return Shino to the way she was!” Wordlessly, Tri-Edge explodes into a thousand pieces and disappears. Haseo’s one hope for saving Shino is gone. The battle that he trained for months to win has gained him nothing. Out of clues, he curses… indifferently. Then, he turns to Atoli and continues a sentimental conversation they started before the fight began as if nothing happened. Seconds later, AIDA pops out of a set of nearby lockers and attacks Atoli. This attack sends her consciousness into an abstract representation of her own psychological state, voices of abusive classmates and all. To save her, Haseo must travel into her brain and convince her that he genuinely cares about her. He succeeds as part of a ridiculous, mid-movie, romantic music video… WHAT!? Not only does this sequence fail to convey any useful information, but it really couldn’t convince anyone that they have a healthy or sensible relationship. Atoli plays a similar role in the three PlayStation 2 games, but her friendship with Haseo has more time to develop naturally. In-game, Haseo begins as an angry, single-minded, and cold but secretly caring person rather than an insane one. While initially he finds Atoli annoying for what she believes, he tolerates her because of her usefulness as a healing support character. These factors make it easier to believe that Haseo eventually becomes friends with her even though initially she still has no business getting involved with him. Later, Atoli runs off to find Tri-Edge when she discovers that she looks like Shino and accuses Haseo of keeping her around only to look at her. She wants Haseo to see her as Atoli, not Shino, and praise her for helping him. By this point, Haseo considers her a friend, but hasn’t expressed it, and chases her to explain himself. The battle with Tri-Edge still cuts awkwardly into their conversation and ends with equally bizarre indifference from Haseo, but at least he has a reason for being sentimental. While Haseo must still travel into Atoli’s brain in the second game to save her from her somewhat cliché, tragic school girl backstory, the player has more and better reasons to sympathize with her. This event also doesn’t disrupt the flow of the story. Epitaphs also appear in the movie as overcomplicated clutter. In the games, which told a much grander tale, Epitaphs served as an important part of the combat system. Haseo, Shino, and Ovan, among a select few others, have an emotional connection to an Epitaph in The World. This gives them the ability to summon their Epitaph, a monster-like being that can fight AIDA with an ability known as “data drain.” In the movie, Epitaph Users receive a much simpler explanation: they are the only characters capable of fighting AIDA. Epitaphs and their user’s special abilities receive no explanation. The film doesn’t appear to need Epitaphs to tell its story, which justifies this simple explanation. It easily avoids using terms such as “data drain” without losing the audience’s ability to believe that Epitaph Users can defeat AIDA. Also, some battles that were originally Epitaph-centric in the games, such as Haseo’s fight with Atoli or his fight with Ovan, feature simpler combat between the characters and achieve the same effect. Finally, Haseo, Atoli, and Ovan all display special abilities that they use to fight AIDA without having to display their Epitaphs. Despite the abridged explanation, however, Epitaphs and Epitaph Users remain important to the combat and crucial to understanding the movie. Ultimately, they only add to the film’s chaos. While some fight scenes seem to acknowledge that they can’t assume the audience knows anything about Epitaphs, other fight scenes feature full-blown Epitaph battles with jarring Epitaph summonings. Imagine a movie about a fantasy RPG where half an hour into it one of the characters screams “Skeith!” without being prompted and finds himself in space with a giant monster. If this hypothetical movie has a clear setting and logical flow of actions until this point, such an event would seem random. In Trilogy’s case, an event like this comes off as yet another crazy and unexplained thing that happens. The movie doesn’t define Epitaph Users well enough to outline their abilities or limitations. Obviously, Epitaph Users summon Epitaphs, but Haseo, Ovan, and Atoli also have other strange abilities. For example, Haseo’s appearance changes with his sanity, starting from human-looking and ending as a three-tailed monster with claws. He also demonstrates the ability to fly and “fuse” with Atoli’s character. When upset, Atoli transforms into a monster. Ovan shows that he can fuse with AIDA and reset the entire game. Is that part of being an Epitaph User? Can all Epitaph Users do that? Can all players do that? What else can they do? What can’t they do? Without set limitations, it seems that they can do any random thing. Trilogy also fails to adequately explain the setting, which was also a problem, if less evident, in the games. About two-thirds of the movie take place in spaces that don’t resemble anything in an MMORPG. This includes a giant, white room that contains a single set of lockers; another giant, white room that contains books, a chair, and a little girl; and an infinitely high room of floating squares. What do these places represent in an online fantasy game? Battles between Epitaphs in the games and the movie also take place in voids of colors or darkness. The film makes no attempt to explain any of these spaces. The games explain the locations where Epitaph battles take place as alternate dimensions, but in a video game, what does that even mean? The games still make more sense than the movie, however, because in between levels that take place in these strange locations, players return to the normal RPG world and regain their sense of place. On the other hand, characters in Trilogy often move from one void to the next. The confusing elements and distractions continue until the end of the movie when the story resolves itself by introducing a new character who seems to exist for the sole purpose of motivating Ovan. In the final scenes, Ovan reveals that he killed Shino to anger Haseo into unlocking his true powers. He needs Haseo to be strong enough to kill him and save his sister Aina, another comatose victim of AIDA. Ovan accidently put her into a coma when AIDA infected and fused with him, causing him to attack her when he lost control. After explaining himself, Ovan kills Atoli to give Haseo the last push he needs to show his full rage and potential. In the final fight scene, Haseo kills Ovan and saves Shino, Atoli, and Aina. Haseo can’t accept Ovan’s betrayal and knows that Shino and Aina wouldn’t be happy without him though. He decides to travel to the depths of The World to retrieve Ovan. These events take place over most of the third game, but viewers unfamiliar with the games will likely find this convoluted narrative to be as ridiculous and difficult to follow as it sounds during the half hour the movie spends on it. Aina introduces an interesting idea, but even so, remains an unnecessary addition to the story. After Haseo kills Ovan, banishing him to the depths of The World, he wonders why Ovan would sacrifice himself for Shino and Aina when someone so close to them is now gone. At the end of the movie, Haseo reveals he and Shino are only somewhat distant friends. He also doesn’t know Aina. The audience, too, knows very little about Shino and Aina. Literally, the only person who really cares about them is Ovan. Perhaps this helps motivate Haseo’s decision to save him despite the six months of anguish Ovan made him endure. Aina doesn’t need to exist to show this idea though. The same purpose could be fulfilled with just Shino, if Ovan accidently killed her after he was infected with AIDA. This alternative telling still comments on the characters who really matter without introducing some random girl. The remnants from the games that don’t need to be in the movie, such as Atoli’s freak out, Epitaphs, the strange settings, and Aina, overall take away from the short hour and a half the movie has to explain the bare story of .hack//G.U. This is unfortunate because Haseo, Ovan, and Shino have the most interesting and human relationships in the movie. In the one scene between them in the first half of the film, Ovan reveals the humanity beneath Haseo’s tough exterior far better than Atoli ever does. Haseo hasn’t seen Ovan in six months. Ever since his mysterious disappearance, the guild Ovan founded fell apart, leaving Shino and Haseo distraught; Shino went into a coma; and Haseo went mad. In the midst of demanding why Ovan left him and Shino when they needed him most, Haseo looks at his hands as if horrified by what he’s become. It would seem that Haseo’s love for Shino has driven him to madness, but in a twist at the end of the movie, if he ever had such affection for her, he doesn’t show it. He even suggests that Shino treasures Ovan more than Haseo. Shino thanks Haseo for saving her but also keeps her distance. It appears that love didn’t drive his obsession, as one would expect. Loyalty to his friends did. All previous entries in the .hack//G.U. franchise also surround the story of these characters in distraction and fluff. The prequel anime series .hack//Roots spends some time explaining how Haseo, Shino, and Ovan became friends, how Shino died, and Haseo’s descent into madness. Half of the episodes, however, contain no content except for a large cast of supporting characters worrying about Haseo and not knowing what to do with themselves. The final episode ends on a cliffhanger with Haseo making an astonishing recovery immediately before the content in the first game begins. The games’ complicated tale features eight Epitaph Users, a large cast of memorable side characters, a plethora of tedious and enlightening side quests, and a main storyline that often revolves around fighting in tournaments. Despite the dozens of hours of gameplay, however, the games spend little time on Shino, Ovan, and Haseo’s relationship or the events that inspired Haseo’s quest to gain strength and defeat Tri-Edge in the first place. Even though all this extra content has memorable moments, the stories of the characters at the center of the series are left somewhat buried, unsatisfying and incomplete. .hack//G.U. Trilogy had the opportunity to tell Ovan, Haseo, and Shino’s story in a complete and concise way but failed even more spectacularly than the anime or the games did. Atoli should help Haseo accept, forgive, and grow up, but instead, the movie highlights what makes her a weak, needy, and clichéd character in the video games. Epitaphs served as part of the games’ combat system, but they only clutter and confuse the story when it can be told just as easily without them. Like Epitaphs, the strange, unexplained settings and Aina also overly complicate the story and hide its most interesting elements. By failing to focus on the central conflict, Trilogy loses the ideas that make the .hack//G.U. story great and clutters itself with so much irrelevant content that it resembles a series of random, traumatic, and inciting incidents. --- Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today!
  13. In the wake of Duncan Jones' financially successful Warcraft film, Ubisoft's film division is set to go into overdrive. Their Assassin's Creed starring Michael Fassbender releases on December 21, followed by their mysterious Splinter Cell project with Tom Hardy sometime in 2017. Now Jessica Chastain and Jake Gyllenhaal are attached to a now confirmed project based on The Division, which launched earlier this year. Many will remember Jake Gyllenhaal starred as Dastan in the Disney film based off of and titled Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, another Ubisoft property. That particular film didn't fare well critically and underperformed at the box office in 2010. This time around, things might be a bit different. Beginning with Assassin's Creed, Ubisoft will be the ones producing and distributing the film through Ubisoft Motion Pictures. This move will give them more creative control over the content and style of their films. Additionally, both Fassbender and Gyllenhaal will be producing as well as acting in their respective films. Ostensibly, this will give the actors some say in how they are portrayed and lead to greater collaboration on Ubisoft's films. No word yet on a release date or window for The Division film. Could more Ubisoft properties be on the way to the big screen? What would you like to see?
  14. In the wake of Duncan Jones' financially successful Warcraft film, Ubisoft's film division is set to go into overdrive. Their Assassin's Creed starring Michael Fassbender releases on December 21, followed by their mysterious Splinter Cell project with Tom Hardy sometime in 2017. Now Jessica Chastain and Jake Gyllenhaal are attached to a now confirmed project based on The Division, which launched earlier this year. Many will remember Jake Gyllenhaal starred as Dastan in the Disney film based off of and titled Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, another Ubisoft property. That particular film didn't fare well critically and underperformed at the box office in 2010. This time around, things might be a bit different. Beginning with Assassin's Creed, Ubisoft will be the ones producing and distributing the film through Ubisoft Motion Pictures. This move will give them more creative control over the content and style of their films. Additionally, both Fassbender and Gyllenhaal will be producing as well as acting in their respective films. Ostensibly, this will give the actors some say in how they are portrayed and lead to greater collaboration on Ubisoft's films. No word yet on a release date or window for The Division film. Could more Ubisoft properties be on the way to the big screen? What would you like to see? View full article
  15. Square Enix seems to be trying to pull off all the tie-ins it can manage with Final Fantasy XV. They prominently touted an ongoing anime mini-series composed of six episodes had a positive reception on the internet (or rather five episodes and a sixth exclusive to the Ultimate Collector's Edition of Final Fantasy XV). Apps that connect to the in-game world of XV like the mobile pinball title Justice Monsters Five are slated for release alongside the full game. Plus, we've had a number of playable demos packaged with other titles. Now the feature film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is on the horizon. In the announcement accompanying the release of the global story trailer, director Takeshi Nozue explains that, "Kingsglaive stands on its own and can be enjoyed without knowledge of the previous games. But if you play Final Fantasy XV there are many references in the game that you wouldn’t necessarily understand without watching the film." He goes on to explain that the themes of Kingsglaive relate to leadership and what it means to be a just king. Whereas people working on Final Fantasy XV have stated that the game examines the bond between men and brotherhood, Kingsglaive delves into the bond between father and son. The plot to Kingsglaive follows the events leading up to the events of Final Fantasy XV. Noctis' father, King Regis, and his elite guard fight against the encroaching Empire to save his kingdom and family after a peace deal goes horribly wrong. A star-studded cast has been assembled to tell the animated tale of Kingsglaive. Sean Bean plays King Regis; Lena Headey portrays princess Luna; and Aaron Paul makes sure villains are breaking bad as Nyx, a member of the titular Kingsglaive knights. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV explodes into select theaters on August 19. Those who can't manage to make it to the theater to see it can watch the film on PlayStation Video beginning on August 30. Final Fantasy XV itself releases on September 30 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
  16. Square Enix seems to be trying to pull off all the tie-ins it can manage with Final Fantasy XV. They prominently touted an ongoing anime mini-series composed of six episodes had a positive reception on the internet (or rather five episodes and a sixth exclusive to the Ultimate Collector's Edition of Final Fantasy XV). Apps that connect to the in-game world of XV like the mobile pinball title Justice Monsters Five are slated for release alongside the full game. Plus, we've had a number of playable demos packaged with other titles. Now the feature film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is on the horizon. In the announcement accompanying the release of the global story trailer, director Takeshi Nozue explains that, "Kingsglaive stands on its own and can be enjoyed without knowledge of the previous games. But if you play Final Fantasy XV there are many references in the game that you wouldn’t necessarily understand without watching the film." He goes on to explain that the themes of Kingsglaive relate to leadership and what it means to be a just king. Whereas people working on Final Fantasy XV have stated that the game examines the bond between men and brotherhood, Kingsglaive delves into the bond between father and son. The plot to Kingsglaive follows the events leading up to the events of Final Fantasy XV. Noctis' father, King Regis, and his elite guard fight against the encroaching Empire to save his kingdom and family after a peace deal goes horribly wrong. A star-studded cast has been assembled to tell the animated tale of Kingsglaive. Sean Bean plays King Regis; Lena Headey portrays princess Luna; and Aaron Paul makes sure villains are breaking bad as Nyx, a member of the titular Kingsglaive knights. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV explodes into select theaters on August 19. Those who can't manage to make it to the theater to see it can watch the film on PlayStation Video beginning on August 30. Final Fantasy XV itself releases on September 30 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. View full article
  17. With the massive success of Pokémon Go, the Pokémon news keeps rolling in. In an attempt to cash in on the popularity of the iconic gaming franchise and the hype around the new mobile app, Hollywood deal makers bit the bullet and offered Nintendo and The Pokémon Company a deal too sweet to refuse. The studio in question is reportedly Legendary Pictures, the company behind the recent Warcraft movie. The ink is still wet on the deal, so details on this upcoming Pokémon project are scarce. Legendary did reveal that the film will avoid the traditional conventions of both the animated Pokémon films and the mainline Pokémon games. Instead, Legendary's Pokémon movie will take inspiration from the Japan exclusive 3DS release of Great Detective Pikachu: Birth of a New Duo. The 3DS title centers on a unique, speaking Pikachu with an unusually keen mind and his human companion, Tim Goodman, as they travel around solving mysteries involving Pokémon. There are also some rumors that Hollywood screenwriter Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra) will be one of the writers attached to the project. The untitled Pokémon movie will be going into production late 2017 if all goes as planned.
  18. With the massive success of Pokémon Go, the Pokémon news keeps rolling in. In an attempt to cash in on the popularity of the iconic gaming franchise and the hype around the new mobile app, Hollywood deal makers bit the bullet and offered Nintendo and The Pokémon Company a deal too sweet to refuse. The studio in question is reportedly Legendary Pictures, the company behind the recent Warcraft movie. The ink is still wet on the deal, so details on this upcoming Pokémon project are scarce. Legendary did reveal that the film will avoid the traditional conventions of both the animated Pokémon films and the mainline Pokémon games. Instead, Legendary's Pokémon movie will take inspiration from the Japan exclusive 3DS release of Great Detective Pikachu: Birth of a New Duo. The 3DS title centers on a unique, speaking Pikachu with an unusually keen mind and his human companion, Tim Goodman, as they travel around solving mysteries involving Pokémon. There are also some rumors that Hollywood screenwriter Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra) will be one of the writers attached to the project. The untitled Pokémon movie will be going into production late 2017 if all goes as planned. View full article
  19. Jack Gardner

    Tomb Raider Film Gets Release Date

    The Tomb Raider film just became that much more of a reality. Multiple sources have reported that Laura Croft's next motion picture will be releasing on March 16, 2018. The reboot of the Tomb Raider film franchise stars Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander (Danish Girl, Ex Machina) as Laura. It will be in the hands of Norwegian director Roar Uthaug, best known for his well-received 2015 film The Wave. Uthaug has said that the movie will be drawing heavily on the 2013 Tomb Raider game for its story. Speaking of the story, the screenplay is being worked on by one of the writers from Transformers 5, Geneva Robertson-Dworet. With precious little else to go on, it is nice to know that Hollywood is once again giving films based on video games a chance once again.
  20. The Tomb Raider film just became that much more of a reality. Multiple sources have reported that Laura Croft's next motion picture will be releasing on March 16, 2018. The reboot of the Tomb Raider film franchise stars Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander (Danish Girl, Ex Machina) as Laura. It will be in the hands of Norwegian director Roar Uthaug, best known for his well-received 2015 film The Wave. Uthaug has said that the movie will be drawing heavily on the 2013 Tomb Raider game for its story. Speaking of the story, the screenplay is being worked on by one of the writers from Transformers 5, Geneva Robertson-Dworet. With precious little else to go on, it is nice to know that Hollywood is once again giving films based on video games a chance once again. View full article
  21. Kardde

    Nashville Zoovie Night - CANCELED

    until
    Nashville Zoovie Night - June 24th from 6pm - 10pm. We'll need to have an interactive booth, meaning we'll have to have the same set up as the Telethon to play games with kids - to waive the fee. Still not sure if we're doing this one either, as we are still looking for volunteers! Once again, please let us know if anyone can attend.
  22. Sapience

    Pixels Cast

    The Cast of Pixels at the World Premiere in NYC
  23. Sapience

    Jessica & Tim

    2015 Tennessee Champion, Jessica Meyers, rocking the #MiracleBand with screenwriter Tim Dowling on the red carpet at the World Premiere of Pixels. #PixelsMovie hits theaters everywhere on July 24th!
  24. Sapience

    Jessica & Peter

    2015 Tennessee Champion, Jessica Meyers, rocking the #MiracleBand with Peter Dinklage on the red carpet at the World Premiere of Pixels. #PixelsMovie hits theaters everywhere on July 24th!
  25. 2015 Tennessee Champion, Jessica Meyer, poses for a picture with the Miracle Balloon at the World Premiere of Pixels in NYC. #PixelsMovie hits theaters everywhere on July 24th!
×