21 July 2008

Sonic the Hedgehog: The Christopher Nolan Treatment.

With recent iterations of the Big Blue swinging swords on Wii and howling at a blood red moon on PS360, it's a difficult time for the true believers. That's why I propose that Christopher Nolan direct the next, next Sonic title. Based on his recent efforts with the Dark Knight, here's what I think he would do:

1. Scrap everything an
d start over.
We all wish we could forget the Joel Schumacher films, and likewise we'd like to forget nearly every 3D Sonic game we've ever played. Chris Nolan couldn't do the former, so he gave us the next best thing: a reboot. Our spiny friend is in dire need of one. Up the arse.

Believe it or not, Sonic and the Black Knight is a step in the wrong direction.

2. Respect for the source material.
Nolan knew something that other director's didn't: a lot of comics are extremely well-written. So why not look to them for inspiration and story ideas? It's no coincidence that Begins and Dark Knight represent not only the brimming potential of the comic book film medium, but also the most faithful adaptations of their source material. It's also no coincidence that the greatest Sonic titles were the first three games. Why not look to them for inspiration? All that people want is a good 2D Sonic game again, and we *thought* we were getting that with Unleashed...

Think again.

Nolan mined the rich history of Batman comics for the strongest characters, storylines, and even dialogue to bring us his first two Bat-films. The same kind of consolidation needs to be done for the Big Blue Blur. His most successful efforts have been the 2D Megadrive titles - shouldn't that be sending some kind of message to Sega and Sonic Team? More of the same, please!

3. Strip back all the ridiculous elements and keep it grounded.
To its credit, The Dark Knight featured none of these characters: Bat-Mite, Great White Shark, Dr. Phosphorous, Batzarro, Cluemaster, Killer Moth, Tweedledee & Tweedledum, Magpie, the Calculator [he literally dressed up as a pocket calculator], The Fearsome Foot-Fighters, Film Freak, look - you get the idea. There were the infamous 'big prop' Batman stories in the 40s and 50s, which later inspired a story whereby Batman & Robin fought Deadshot atop a giant typewriter! Then there's all the Bat-gadgets, which Batman always seems to have at just the right moment (Bat-shark-repellent). Sonic of course has his ridiculous moments, most of which have surfaced within the last decade. The voice acting in particular is even worse than what I've heard in some Kung-Fu movie dubs, and has almost become its trademark. He also has a terrible cast of supporting players: Amy Rose, Big the Cat, Cream the Rabbit, Rouge the Bat, Shadow the Hedgehog, Silver the Hedgehog, Someone the Something, the list goes on. Do you see what I'm getting at here? The Bat mythos as a whole is full of camp and goofy Silver Age elements, yet Nolan had the good sense to either remove those elements or avoid them altogether. Of course, if you're comics savant Grant Morrison, you'll find some way to marry all of these elements with a brilliant modern twist, but Nolan's no Morrison, and neither is Sonic Team. So what was so good about the Golden Age of Sonic games? No Z-list characters for a start; no terrible voice acting; no J-Pop/Rock music - just fast 2D platforming with great level design, really. It's not a magic formula or anything, it just puts the focus back on Sonic.

Batman's return to form.

Nolan came at a time when DC and Batman desperately needed him. Similarly, Sega and Sonic are in a dire state, and in desperate need of the Chris Nolan Treatment. Sure, it's a pipe dream and it'll never happen, but if I can sit here and learn videogame lessons from a Batman movie, so can Sonic Team.

05 July 2008

Review on the Run: Hancock.

I went in with fairly low expectations, and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with Hancock. Once you get past the five-minute slapstick opening (CG seagulls - you'll see what I mean), it's all smooth sailing. Probably the best performance was given by Jason Bateman, who plays a struggling PR man. He finds new purpose in improving the super-lout's public image, but he certainly gets more than he bargained for.

There's a few nods to other superheroes here and there, including Iron Man and The Hulk, mostly because Hancock's always getting drunk and breaking things. But even if you're not a comic-book nerd like myself you'll find plenty to enjoy. CG seagulls aside, my only real gripe with the film is the lack of a real imposing villain. Of course, my points of reference are Lex Luthor and the Joker, so that comparison may not be fair.