DID YOU READ

“Dead Space 2” Traces an “Alien” Trajectory

“Dead Space 2” Traces an “Alien” Trajectory (photo)

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“Dead Space 2” has finally been unloaded into your local game shop, bringing to a close a preview tour for the nation’s most frightened and revolted mothers. Off the positive early reviews and the previous game’s success, hero Isaac Clarke and his gory enemies the Necropmorphs will surely be the talk of the game-o-sphere (and possibly parental watchdog groups) for the next couple weeks. And so it should be. The game is a step forward for the franchise in practically every capacity: more violent, more action packed and more human now that we see the Isaac Clarke’s face for more than couple minutes. But it is less scary, a strange regression for a franchise firmly tucked into the survival horror genre. Why’d developer Visceral Games relent on the spooks?

“Dead Space” was a slow survival horror game. Your gun was always a little too weak, your ammo low. Not a lot made sense — in a good way. The story required you to piece together what happened on a seemingly abandoned ship stranded in deep space. Why is this writing on the wall? Where are the people? What are those “things”?

“Dead Space 2” still has a handful of terrifying moments. Well-lit corridors have a tendency to lose power. The glass windows that separate oxygen rich rooms from the vacuum of space are curiously fragile. These tense environments, however, serve as passages between epic set pieces in cathedrals festooned with viscera and vulnerable walkways perforated by artillery from a 10-story tall gunship.

Call it the Scott-Cameron Effect. Ridley Scott’s “Alien” was a horror movie. The astronauts were ill equipped to deal with a foreign creature they couldn’t comprehend. The monster was alien, not just in the literal sense, but in its very being. How it reproduced, attacked, bled. As viewers, we learned alongside the character the perils of battling the beast. There is fear in the unknown and “Dead Space” and “Alien” share that fear.

For James Cameron’s sequel, “Aliens,” much of the mystery was gone. Cameron, the man who would later make “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and “Avatar” filled the void with neck pulled back action, putting the original movie on its head, and steering the franchise — for better and worse — in the direction of the summer spectacle. “Dead Space 2” does the same.

This won’t be the only blog post to note the similarity between the games; it’s noticeable within the first 15 minutes, as a lab of humans is relieved of their extremities by creatures with blades for arms. It’s interesting however that “Dead Space” isn’t the only property to follow this well-carved path. In fact, it’s just the latest of many.

Franchises like “Uncharted,” “Gears of War” and “Halo” — in varying degrees — have used sequels to inflate the grandiosity of their narratives. Budget’s increase typically for sequels, so it’s logical ambition follows.

But what if a game tightened the experience? What if the extra money was used to create a smaller, richer, more haunting world.

We saw a hint at this potential with “Halo: ODST.” The game weakened the protagonist, plopping him in a open, dark and dangerous world. Developer Bungie even rolled the dice on a jazzy soundtrack. But the game felt more like filler than an earnest attempt at something proudly, even defiantly small.

What big budget games would you like to see more contained and refined? Or is the future always bigger and better?

Fantastic “Dead Space”/”Alien” mash-up art by Victor Zago. Visit his DeviantArt page.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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