You may be aware that a film is being made based on a little-known 70’s cartoon called “Transformers”. It followed, I am told, the misadventures of a group of metamorphosing or “transforming” vehicles who could take on a humanoid appearance at will. You may also be aware that the film is, unfortunately, being directed by Michael Bay. I do not count myself amongst the franchise’s legion of fans but there are, I hear, rather a lot of them. With the recent leakage of a photo of Bay’s reinterpretation of Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots and the franchise’s most recognisable figure, a veritable call-to-arms was sounded. Creative license, after all, only goes so far.
Bay explained that it was a matter of physics and scale. He wanted 50-foot tall robots without parts magically disappearing in the transformation process. It would sound like a commendable goal if it weren’t for the fact that Bay’s films are regularly so riddled with holes and inconsistencies that they begin to resemble a machine gun victim rather than cinematic brilliance. He then proceeded to have the image torn down from every site displaying it (hence it is not featured here) because he felt the best experience for viewers would be to see the creations for the first time on the screen. It’s hard to fault him there — no actually bothers to see a crap film in the first place if they are forewarned.
Meanwhile Valve have been busily working away on the next episode of Half-Life 2, which, they have just announced, will contain another little game called Team Fortress 2. The sequel has been in progress since the late 90’s and fans had all but given up on it ever seeing the light of day. The end result is unrecognisable, looking more like a Pixar creation with its cartoony characters and stylised cell shading. Particularly impressive in the trailer is to note that when the Heavy starts firing, even the muzzle flash is cell shaded. Even if you’re not into videogames it’s still worth taking a look just to see the creative possibilities that still exist in the industry. At the same time they have been showing off their new portal technology which at first seems remarkably reminiscent of Prey, until you realise that these are player-created. They apparently bought up another company working on this and offered the team a job reproducing it within the Source engine.
Finally, and perhaps somewhere in between these two stories, rumour has it that Tim Burton may be involved in a project to bring Grim Fandango to the big screen. Its combination of zany visuals and dark humour make it my favourite adventure game, and are exactly the reasons it is perfect material for Burton who will probably use it is as another vehicle for the stop-motion animation he loves (indeed it would make little sense to attempt it live-action). Though it’s still far off, I would love to see this become a reality.