Thursday, June 4, 2009

Chuck, Buffy, Paul, Waldo, Guys (Ritchie) and Dolls, and Project Natal

What's up in the entertainment world? Here are the recent items that have caught my attention.

So we learned last month that NBC had finally decided to renew Chuck. Chuck will have to share its Monday 8pm time slot with Heroes, which used to air after it at 9pm; Heroes will air in the fall, while Chuck will come back midseason. But when Chuck finally does come back, we will be seeing a lot more of Subway (Variety). The sub sandwich chain is one of the show's main sponsors, and it was at the center of a fan campaign to get Chuck renewed, with fans buying Subway's $5 footlongs in support of Chuck. Subway has already enjoyed some rather shameless product placement in the show, but they are now planning to have one of the characters work at a Subway. Product placement is annoying, but if it keeps the show going, I guess I'll live with it.

A new Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie is in the works (Variety, IMDb). Yes, studios love their franchises, and vampires are hot right now. Fran Rubel Kuzui, who directed the original Buffy movie, owns the rights and plans to bring the franchise back in a reboot with a new cast. I am skeptical that this is a good idea. I just hope they don't manage to ruin the memory of the TV show. Joss Whedon wishes them well, but it doesn't sound like he'll be involved.

The name of the movie is Paul (Variety). Simon Pegg and Nick Frost wrote the script. Greg Mottola (Superbad) is directing. The plot revolves around two sci-fi fanatics (Pegg and Frost) who find their way to Area 51 where they meet an alien (voiced by Seth Rogen) named Paul. Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, and Jane Lynch will also be in the cast. Oh my god, I must be dreaming. This movie sounds like the perfect comedy. I will definitely be looking out for this one.

I mentioned before that Guy Ritchie had expressed interest in branching out from gangster movies and tackling musicals--with Jason Statham as a leading man, no less. But now he has chosen which musical he wants to do: Guys and Dolls (IMDb). Ritchie is apparently considering setting the musical in London rather than the musical's original New York ("It's the oldest established permanent floating crap game in... London?"). I'm picturing Statham as Sky, rather than Nathan, but I'm willing to be surprised. We'll have to see where this one goes.

Universal and Illumination Entertainment have beaten other studios to acquire the rights to a Where's Waldo movie (Variety). I have absolutely no idea how a Where's Waldo movie would work. Would they have some kids in a big crowd at an amusement park or beach or ski resort or somewhere trying to find Uncle Waldo again and again? Great! OK, so I guess they've done a Where's Waldo TV show already, and it seems it discarded the original books' simple "Find Waldo in the crowd" premise and gave him traveling adventures and conflict and stuff. Well, I can't say I have high hopes for this movie, but reading about it did take me back a good number of years. Ah, childhood nostalgia.

My last news is technology news from console land: At a press conference on the eve of E3, Microsoft presented its Project Natal, a technology they are developing for the Xbox 360 that will allow the player's own body to act as a video game controller (Variety, Variety blog The Cut Scene). The system will also have voice recognition. Those presenting the project expressed a belief that the hand-held controller has been a barrier (they seemed to imply that people who don't play video games don't do so because they don't want to pick up a controller), and now they have the solution to eliminate it. They gave some demonstrations of how the currently rudimentary system works, but it is unclear how long it will be until the technology is ready for release (at least a year, probably). I'm not really a console person, but this idea is certainly intriguing. It all depends, of course, on how the games use the technology. My general sense is that Wiis are very popular among casual gamers because they're so cute and trendy with their Wiimotes, but the Xbox 360 has better games overall. So I guess it's good that the Xbox 360 is finding a way to compete in terms of novelty and trendiness.

So what about Sony and their PS3? Sony has just unveiled their own PlayStation Motion Controller (The Cut Scene). This appears to have more in common with the Wii in that there is a remote, but it's more advanced and they seem to be chasing hardcore gamers, demonstrating the remote in an FPS context as well as a smashing-demons-with-a-mace context. Once Sony and Microsoft's motion sensing devices come out, the competition in console land will be very interesting.


Hezabelle said...

Buffy movie? Yay!! And I'll see anything with Jason Bateman....

Sebastian said...

Neat, Guys & Dolls! The last cast I saw was thoroughly lacklustre. I'm sure he'll kick a spiked boot up its ass though!

Project Natal looks fantastic. Not sure what market they intend to capitalise on though, Sony and Microsoft. I assume they're going for a new market rather than stealing some of Nintendo's share -- people rarely buy more than one console, and if they do, they have all three already.

Nintendo is soooo dominant with its primary franchises and the DS tie-in. But hey, innovation is good; it pushes the envelope, and Nintendo will have to improve its game.

Eleni said...

Hez - I know, I adore Jason Bateman. But I still haven't seen The Kingdom... Is he even funny in that?

Seb - Project Natal is pretty awesome. The demo video looks pretty cool, though there was one bit where a player is waving her arms in front of her to steer a car. In that case, wouldn't having an actual wheel be more realistic and satisfying? Well anyway, it seemed like Sony was trying to win all the hardcore gamers, and Microsoft was maybe aiming for people who aren't even willing to wield a Wiimote? Possibly? Yeah, I guess we'll have to see how the market handles it all.