Making fun of movies

By: Logan Pierce, Editor-in-Chief
For film fans, monotonous movies can make the experience feel as stale as theater floor popcorn. RiffTrax, an online entertainment company, aims to add a new layer of entertainment to movies.

In these volatile economic times, film companies are hesitant to approve original movie concepts. The preferred route is to make films based on nostalgic TV shows or popular book series, which tend to come equipped with a built-in fan base. Another recent trend has been to remake movies, or in some cases, re-release the original films to theaters.

Pictured left to right: Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy and Michael J. Nelson, the creative team behind Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax.com.

Pictured left to right: Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy and Michael J. Nelson, the creative team behind Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax.com.


Box office: the next generation
This year alone, there are several major films being re-released. Feb. 10 marked Star Wars’ return to theaters, with “Episode I: The Phantom Menace.”
On March 21, for one day only, “Casablanca” will be shown in select movie theaters nationwide, in commemoration of its 70th anniversary.
James Cameron’s “Titanic” will set sail April 6, four days before the 100th anniversary of the real ship’s departure on April 10, 1912.

Following on the heels of the successful re-releases of “The Lion King 3D” and “Beauty and the Beast 3D,”Disney has three additional films slated for re-release, “Finding Nemo 3D” opens Sept. 14, 2012, “Monsters Inc. 3D” opens Jan. 18, 2013 and “The Little Mermaid 3D” opens Sept. 13, 2013.

After 70 years, “Casablanca” being re-released makes sense as a way to connect with a new generation of moviegoers. The motives behind the re-release of “Finding Nemo” tend to be a bit muddier, considering that the film’s initial release was less than a decade ago. That’s a fast turnaround.

Movie theaters were the last bastion of new entertainment. Consumers used to have an assurance of no reruns, but not anymore. The times, they are a changing, and RiffTrax is changing to meet them.

Riff-lecting on past movies
Founded in 2006, RiffTrax.com is the brainchild of Michael J. Nelson, head writer and on-screen talent of the hit TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K), which ran for 10 years on Comedy Central and the SyFy Channel.

The Emmy-nominated and Peabody award-winning show featured animated characters making fun of or “riffing” low-budget science fiction and action films and was voted one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 Television shows of all time.

Nelson and his fellow Riffers, former MST3K members Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, have brought their unique brand of humor to big budget, modern movies.

The secret of Perfect Synch technology

RiffTrax are MP3 commentary files, which are played simultaneously with a specified movie. To help ensure a seamless experience, RiffTrax provides audio cues through DisembAudio, a character who periodically speaks words of dialogue from the film at the exact same moment that a character says it, to ensure the MP3 commentary track and the movie are in synch.

There are full-length feature riffs available for many film franchises and popular movies, including “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace,” “Casablanca” and “Titanic.”

In the past, fans of RiffTrax commentaries were consigned to enjoy them on the small screen. Now, as old films are re-released in theaters, there’s a whole new way to experience this unique movie experience.

By 15th Street News Posted in Entertainment Tagged Beauty and the Beast 3D, Bill Corbett, Casablanca, Comedy Central, DisembAudio, Finding Nemo 3D, Kevin Murphy, Michael J. Nelson, Monsters Inc. 3D, MST3K, Mystery Science Theater 3000, RiffTrax, , Syfy, The Lion King 3D, The Little Mermaid 3D, The Phantom Menace, Time Magazine, Titanic

Light and dark side of Star Wars the Old Republic

Dennis Gosnell, Assignment Editor

It’s time to break out the old lightsaber and join the fight to enslave or save the universe.

Birth of a new style of MMO

On Dec. 20, Star Wars the Old Republic (SWTOR) was released to fanatic Star Wars fans worldwide.  Many, including myself, pre-ordered the game to get early access to the game.

During this time period gamers and Star Wars fans got their first taste of the game.

Was the wait worth it though?  More than one million gamers flooded the SWTOR servers in the first two weeks to play in the iconic Star Wars universe.

The graphics and worlds of the game are simple, elegant, and give life to many of the stories within Star Wars.  A gamer can customize their character to a certain degree, choosing a multitude of different facial features, tattoos, body types, and many physical aspects of how a character looks.

Voice acting changes character and guest giver/companion interaction

The storylines of SWTOR make the game unique in that each character class has its own storyline that advances with a character’s level.  This is an epic move for Bioware; no other MMO to date has used voiceover questing to such a degree.  It gives a gamer the feel of watching a movie and increases the entertainment value of the game.

The drawbacks of the game are the seeming single dimension of the character classes. There is no real diversity between the eight classes.

This is not to say that the classes are not fun to play; each class is very engaging and the further a character develops per level, the more difference there is.  However, the majority of the powers are similar to those of their counterparts.

While playing it’s possible to see that Bioware put so much work into the storyline, and voiceover production that class diversity was less developed than it could have been.

Other games allow you pets SWTOR gives you companions

The companion system of SWTOR is an excellent addition to the game mechanics.  It allows people who like to play solo a chance to finish more difficult quests without having to spend time looking for groups.  This is perhaps the most ingenious part of the game because it adds to the story and game play experience.

This game is excellent and worthwhile to play as it has hundreds of hours of game play that never really gets boring.

By 15th Street News Posted in Entertainment Tagged Dark side, Light side, MMO, Questing, , SWTOR, Voice Acting

Films take advantage of 3-D movie craze

Dennis Gosnell, Assignment Editor

Since the late 1860s, motion pictures have been a constant source of entertainment for the masses.  In the last couple years, the silver screen has tried to re-popularize the 3-D movie experience.  To entice moviegoers, production companies have been re-releasing 3-D versions of older films, which were highly popular and profitable during their initial runs.

Using classic films as propaganda for a falling industry 

Current and future releases include such films as, “Beauty and the Beast”, “The Little Mermaid”, “Finding Nemo”, “Titanic” and The Star Wars series.

For better or worse, moviegoers are going to be seeing a lot of old movies resurface with a 3-D face-lift to help boost the entertainment industry.

Where did the 3-D craze start?

In 1922 “Power of Love” featuring Elliot Sparling, Barbara Bedford, and Noah Beery, was released to the masses using a new form of film layering that allowed viewers a 3-D experience.  Since the release of “Power of Love” many attempts have been made to popularize the process among moviegoers.

However, because of the overlaying process, many viewers get headaches or are disappointed at the flatness of the movie’s supposed effects. Modern film audiences have reported experiencing similar reactions.  Many of the newly released films do not make a big enough splash to produce the desired 3-D effects.

Quick bucks and overrated film production.

Re-releasing films is a good way to spur the nostalgia of viewers to make a quick buck, but after awhile moviegoers are going to want something new and original that they have yet to experience.

 

By 15th Street News Posted in Entertainment Tagged 3D, Barbara Bedford, Beauty and the Beast, Elliot Sparling, Finding Nemo, Little Mermaid, Noah Beery, Power of Love,

Government heavy handedness rings in a new year

Dennis Gosnell, Assignment Editor

This year the legislative powers that be have been busy trying to put extreme emergency measures of authority into the hands of a few.

If passed these powers grant the government the ability to take control of any and all systems of information or news, which could isolate people’s ability to gather news or information from outside the community.

Changing Legislation

The first piece of legislation to consider is the S. 1867 Department of Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, which went to the Senate floor Nov. 28.

The President, and those that serve under his authority, would gain the power to detain and imprison suspected terrorist indefinitely or until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

These people would be considered a threat to national security or the continuation of normal proceedings of daily life. The wording is full of loopholes though, as anyone displaying dissident or radical anti-government behavior, that protest against the government, or who acts against the government may come to be considered a threat to national security.

The limited wording of the bill does not guarantee safety though.  In one clause, a waiver can be filed so that anyone may be detained if determined a threat to National Security.  Such waivers would need to be approved first by Congress so that no unconstitutional arrest may occur.

Cyber-space beware

The second piece of legislation to consider is the Cybersecurity and Information Freedom Act of 2011 or CIFA. The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs met May 23 to hold hearings regarding the bill.

CIFA outlines the government’s agenda regarding the improper use of the Internet by actions of individuals, whose aim is to disrupt normal procedures or take advantage of weak cyber security.

In short, the President can give administrative powers to a National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications (NCCC) department within the Department of Homeland Security. This power gives them, during a “Cyber Emergency”, the ability to shut down “covered critical infrastructures” that are prevalent to governmental operations.

According to the HSGAC, the NCCC will work with the private sector to establish risk-based security requirements that strengthen the cybersecurity for the nation’s most critical infrastructure.

These vital components are described as being the electric grid, telecommunications networks, and control systems in other critical infrastructure that, if disrupted, would result in a national or regional catastrophe.

And while the bill has not yet to be passed onto the Senate or House of Representatives, it is still in wait with no major decision having been reached about it’s contents or policies.

Is it the National Emergency Alert System or the Government Communications Shutdown System?

The subsequent administrative action to check up on is that of the National EAS or Emergency Alert System.

“The EAS is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service (SDARS) providers, and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers to provide the communications capability to the President to address the American public during a national emergency.”  – Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

If used improperly the government, with an application of the CIFA bill, could control the output of information and vital news.

The strategy implemented in pushing these bills through is reminiscent of the way in which Emperor Palpatine created his empire in the famous Star Wars movies.  For those who are not avid Star Wars fans, Emperor Palpatine created a war against a group of separatist who were supposedly a threat to Galactic peace.

The Emperor played each side against one another, in order to create outrageous emergency powers that allowed him to eventually take over the Galactic Senate.

Emperor Palpatine’s rise to power inspires Government politics?

For those who see a correlation here, it may be time to pick up the phone and call your Senators and Representatives.  The Internet group Anonymous has put out a call to all voters to ask for help in stopping these unconstitutional powers from being passed.

The information Anonymous provided was a little outdated however.  Be sure to research information thoroughly before heeding a call to action, so that the information that is gained is not wholly wrong or in some sense, a half-truth.

From the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC):

“The Act establishes the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications (NCCC) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to elevate and strengthen the Department’s cyber security capabilities and authorities. The NCCC will be led by a Senate-confirmed Director, who will report to the Secretary. The Director will regularly advise the President regarding the exercise of authorities relating to the security of federal networks. The NCCC will include the United States Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT), and will lead federal efforts to protect public and private sector cyber and communications networks. The NCCC will detect, prevent, analyze, and warn of cyber threats to these networks.”

By 15th Street News Posted in Features, News Tagged , Cybersecurity, DoD Authorization Act Fiscal 2012, Homeland Security, HSGAC, National EAS, NCCC, Palpatine, S.1867, Senate,

PvP comes to life with the newest Starwars game

Coming to the MMO (massively multiplayer online) game stage is Star Wars: The Old Republic.  With World of Warcraft slowly falling from its throne due to its latest expansion, players will be searching for a new way to feed their addiction to gaming.
Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) offers gamers a different universe to explore with EA (Electronic Arts) Games, Bioware, and LucasArts pooling their talent to build the next game for the galaxy far, far away.
SWTOR is set 1,000 years prior to the rise of Darth Vader, and 300 hundred years after Jedi/Sith Reven saved the galaxy from the malicious Darth Malak.  Players experience Reven and Malak’s adventures in the 2003 RPG (role playing game) Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
The official SWTOR site shows the evolution of the game development with information and videos on the different classes, their associated powers and abilities, which worlds can be visited, armor sets, and player companions.

Developer videos show what has captured many players’ hearts and minds, PvP (Player vs. Player) action.  It’s certain that SWTOR’s production team has developed engaging areas in which players can go into full out battle against each other.  Whether a player is partial to blasters, heavy cannons, rocket launchers, lightsabers, or vibroblades; SWOTR aims to create a unique experience that captures the minds of all.
In Hutt space, PvP takes football to the next level in what is being called “Huttball”.  Huttball is played with two opposing teams going for a ball set in the middle of the field.  This ball can be thrown from one player to the next. When a player is hit or killed, the player who performed the killing blow receives the ball.
This is nothing new of course, it’s capture the flag but with fire blazing obstacles exploding as players run across a platform, this creates a challenge for players that fuels their adrenaline addiction.
Bioware Austin has insisted that this is the first story driven MMO that includes character voice over features.  What this means is the quest each player accomplishes has an effect on both the player and their environment.  Instead of bland and non-committal conversations a player is fully immersed in the game’s environment with each conversation choice having its own outcome to the quest or mission at hand.
The change in environment feature in SWOTR is no different from Blizzard’s attempts at salvaging their own franchise with the last two expansions of World of Warcraft.  SWTOR differs from WoW by not limiting the options to a specific choice in changes but based on the players quest decisions.  Many of the features are upgraded and allow players different types of in-game choices. These action, conversation, and story choices give the player the power to shape their gameplay experience.
SWTOR has not, as of yet, posted a release date.  Many of the games followers wait in anticipation for the games release.  On July 22, 2011 however, the fellows at SWOTR put out the announcement that players could start pre-ordering the game with exclusive in game items and possibility of pre-launch game-time that would allow players a head start.  There is speculation and excitement brewing; with the pre-order available, many believe the game’s release is not that far in the future.