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Oblivion is a secret masterpiece

Oblivion is a secret masterpiece

The sparse wasteland of Earth, circa AD 2077.

I can’t help but think that Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion is secretly a sci-fi film masterpiece. I don’t like being too superfluous but it has single-handedly made me think, question, re-think and imagine ideas and themes in the past hour MORE than Iron Man 3 did in the past week. And I LOVE Iron Man 3.

Many reviews about Oblivion noted it gets by from combing, meshing and melting ideas, themes and visuals from the generations of Sci-Fi films that have gone before. And I definitely agree, in part. I don’t think this film simply “gets by”. I think that the sci-fi tropes, technology and themes that audiences are familiar with form the surface layer of what this film tries to achieve.

Where this film made me think was trying to identify its central purpose or question. What was making me think? Was it Jack Harper and the mysteries of the war with the Scav’s? Was it trying to find out what his fractured memories were really about?

Again more layers. I think the central tenet comes in the question that Jack himself answers in the final narration – “who am I?” As the real mystery is revealed in the opening of the final act, where Jack and Julia accidentally crash land in the radiation zone, the reality of identity is fully portrayed.

It is possibly a very clichéd concept. I think the success of this movie for me personally was that this question wasn’t very obvious. As the history of the war and Jack’s job repairing drones fades into the background, layers landing on the floor, our central conflict comes from Jack realising who he is, and what he would do to protect this and the ones he loves.

Jack and Julia; he remembers.

I love the sparse world that Kosinski creates, and his aesthetic design choices truly suit the final reveal of the alien lifeform and world that the film is set in. It’s minimalist, bare and bleak. A further reminder of the world after the war, and perhaps representative of who Jack is as we begin the film; a blank slate seeking its true purpose.

Jack’s response to Morgan Freeman’s interrogation when asked why he risked his life for Julia of “anybody would” is a hidden revelation. At the time it seemed fine, a typical response for a caring human to make. In his position I would hope to do the same. As we consider the revelation of Julia and Jake’s past relationship it’s easy to think that the memories he had were the real reason he stood in the droid’s path. However, this again would be too simple. He was convicted to protect ALL of the life pods that were devastatingly destroyed and only because of his drastic actions did he save one (the one).

No, Jack was more than the alien had planned him to be. He really was Jack Harper. Even though the memories fought to break through his spirit of character was even more powerful. He never stopped caring for Vic and even after her semi-betrayal atop Tower 49 he asked her one more time (this time at Tower 52) to join him on the surface of Earth. He wanted to give her a chance but she was so part of Tet’s program that she could only deny him.

I’ve tried to dance around some of the mysteries and reveals here while still giving my reasons for enjoying it. Finally, Kosinski really gets the senses of the audience. He feasts/starves our eyes in varying measures and does the same for our ears. The melodies and rhythms played off my earbuds and through my chest and I couldn’t help but place some thoughts back to Daft Punk’s sterling soundtrack to Kosinski’s previous sci-fi Tron: Legacy.

If you haven’t seen Oblivion and enjoy sci-fi, you should definitely give it a go. And perhaps if you have seen the film then I’m glad to have shared the experience with you, no matter what we each thought of it.

That’s what makes us who we are.

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Ode to Chromedome – POWERLESS

Transformers MTMTE #15 is released globally tomorrow (depending on your time zone). I recently bought Linkin Park’s latest album “Living Things” and while listening to the final track “Powerless” couldn’t help but notice the themes humming closely alongside the characters Chromedome, Rewind and Overlord in the most amazing Transformers comic (MTMTE).

I have since taken some photos and screen captures from a few of the comic pages and produced a little video Ode to Chromedome. He’s not dead yet, by the way (as far as I know), but he definitely has made some mistakes that involves the death of other Autobots.

I hope you enjoy the clip.

Luke

Friday evenings – a bit of cooking and TV

After a boot camp session and then a short break I came home ready to prepare dinner.

Melissa has had a busy week and was at home looking after our sick daughter – so I was excited to come up a nice meal. We had some Salmon ready to go so during a brief work break I found a recipe for a Herb crust and carrot purée.

Our rosemary and chives have been growing spectacularly so they were in.

For the carrots I added a small bit of butter and brown sugar at the end for smoothness and a slight extra sweetness.

It came together well. I fried the skin side and then put it in the oven for 5 minutes. Beautiful.

Here’s a photo –

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After cleaning up we grabbed some slice and Baileys n milk with ice and settled in. I finally convinced Melissa to watch Game of Thrones with me.

I can’t wait for Season 3 so I hope to rewatch 1&2 before it begins. We’ll see.

Next week I hope to blog a bit more about some fun comics news from my world – but if you’ve seen my twitter or Facebook you’d know a bit about it.

Looking forward to Saturday!

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A Tail of Two Dragons: two good reads

A Dance with Dragons cover

Holiday time is a great time to read. This summer break I made it a mission to finally put the time in to finish George R.R. Martin’s “A Dance With Dragons”. As some close friends and family know I’ve had it sitting near me waiting to be read since January 2012, but with work and life being quite busy I could never give it the time to get into that I knew it needed.

Finally, things quiet down and i’ve been chewing (sometimes felt like plodding) through ADWD and its multiple character perspectives. Anyone who has read the books or seen season 1 or 2 of Game of Thrones understands this. There’s a heck of a lot of characters in these stories, and Martin has enjoyed bringing a bit more mystery to this book (including using nicknames or epithets rather than their name in the chapter titles).

This weekend is the Australia Day long weekend (see this awesome rendition of our Anthem here) so I’ve almost finally finished it. So, what do I think?

With about 100-150 pages to go it’s really leaving me breathless. Some parts of the story have left me cold, Daenerys in particular. I love Jon Snow as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and his challenges and strategies. Tyrion is enjoyable enough, but I have not liked him being taken out of a place of power. When he can’t control his fate like in this book he’s just been plodding closer and closer to Daenerys, albeit with a few twists along the way.

So, why breathless – the cliffhangers have hit. Jon Snow at his best at around page 650 and right on pages 698-699 FINALLY DAENERYS rides one of her dragons. It is a moment that is made for the screen but is sooo vivid in my head. She has been utterly stuck in Meereen. It has been painful for her to not have any options and painful for me reading it too. It kept going and going and I knew that something external to her own choices was going to have to happen for her part of the story. At this point also she seems too important to kill off, not that it has stopped Martin before (still lamenting poor Ned).

I can’t wait to finish the book, but the only problem is it seems like the next in the series is still far off. A well, Feist’s next (and final Midkemia) novel “Magician’s End” will be released in a few months and there’s always Transformers comics.

The Deep: Here Be Dragons cover

 

Speaking of comics, last week I received in the mail a copy of Gestalt Publishing’s “The Deep”, vol 1 “Here Be Dragons.” It is written by Aussie comic creator Tom Taylor (other works include Star Wars and DC’s Injustice comics) and art by James Brouwer.

Since going to Supanova (see April/May 2012’s blog posts) last year I’ve wanted to connect and get a handle on more Aussie comic creators and Tom has so far displayed some excellent works. The first two issues of his latest series “DC Injustice” are going gangbusters.

The Deep was billed as an all ages, exciting, adventure story. Awesome. I’ve been looking for some different all-ages comics as part of my own stories I want to create such as these and also share them with younger readers.

 

“Here Be Dragons” was really enjoyable. It’s a graphic novel* structured in three acts so the action builds nicely whilst also introducing you to the Nekton family. I don’t want to say too much without spoiling it but Taylor and Brouwer really build the tension and mystery of “the deep” here. I particularly enjoyed the way they held back from revealing some of the cool images of creatures they find until later in the comic as it really plays into the narrative. It also meant that we focused on the family and the danger they’re in rather than a couple of mega-wicked fishies.

 

Volume 2 is available so I’m gonna have to check it out soon, especially as Technicolor have just optioned the story for an animated series! (See here)

 

So, as for 2013, there are good books out there to read, wonderful people working in comics and also being blessed with amazing extensions of their work, and more comics from me too! I’m still working on that Transformers RiD essay as well!

 

Dragon!

 

 

 

 

*My definition of graphic novel tends to be one of form. A graphic novel is a published comic style longer story whereas a “comic” refers to the regular, floppy single issue form. These can then be collected in a longer story centred format, which is often called a graphic novel as well, or a ‘trade paperback.’ It’s murky fun.

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WE KILL CONS! WE KILL CONS!

This is one of those previews. I’m hesitant to post pictures that are out of context but had to spotlight some of the points that made my gut churn, tears well and heart beat just a mite faster.

Tomorrow is the release of Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye issue 12. 1 year in and I’m in love with the comic and characters. It’s getting pretty hard to watch some of the things James Roberts, Alex Milne and Josh Burcham are putting these guys through.

 

The whole 5 page preview can be found at FullMetalHero courtesy of IDW Publishing.

 

Panel pic #1:

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Magnus is taking on Hun-Gurr on the left, stomping some dino-con underfoot, shooting one guy on the right and launching two missiles – all at the same moment – and after transforming too. Yep, “he is really good at fighting.”

I love this main panel – it shows the gloriousness of comics in one image – it could be considered a still image, but it also clearly shows a passage of time (vehicle, multiple attacks, movement, smooshing). And you can’t beat Swerve and Tailgate watching from afar.

 

Panel pic #2:

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Snaptrap gets on panel briefly before getting a sword shluckted through the back of his head. Guess which Autobot did that?

I love comic sound effects. This one is nicely masked within the image too.

 

 

Okay. This one is REALLY out of context, so you may lose the impact I felt. The third panel is from Page 4, and it is a character i’ve particularly enjoyed so far this series – Swerve. He’s a fast talking, joke-cracking bar man who has gone through a lot this year. Now look at him…

 

Panel pic #3:

swerveheadSwerve!!! How did this happen!!! He doesn’t have a face. Is he alive? Unconscious? The preview doesn’t reveal this but just hits me smack in the gut with this image. It’s haunting.

 

So, a friend of mine wanted to say something:

swervejamesroberts

 

 

Goodnight.

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Brutal Consequence – comic page collaboration

I’m not going to put too many words on this post because I really want to show off this amazing page of comic work!

However, some context.

A few months back the Comics Experience Creator’s Workshop monthly challenge was to write a single page script. As many writers know, putting a whole story in a short space IS a challenge. My first experience of this was crafting the Inkman story “Dead Lines” (which can be viewed for free here) as a 5 page story.

Creating these single page comics was inspired by Warren Ellis’ “Three Panels Open” feature and I came up with two ideas. Amazingly, during the same period the artist’s section of the workshop were tasked with finding scripts to practice their own skills on.

So it is without further ado that I present a reverse-narrative 3 panel tale “BRUTAL CONSEQUENCE” – with amazing art by Jason Folkes and Gannon Beck. Please check out their work at the links below!

Jason

Gannon

BrutalConsequence

 

(C) Luke A Barnett, Jason Folkes, Gannon Beck 2012

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Weekly Highlights – THINGS GO BOOM!

This week there has been some awesome comics releases, trailer reveals and music announcements! So many things rocking in my world!

 

Let’s start with the movies:

Movie #1: Regarding superheroes I’m typically a Marvel guy, but I do have some fond childhood memories watching some Superman stories on VHS and I also loved the All Star Superman comic DC released a couple of years ago. Mostly I enjoyed Smallville’s take on Clark Kent growing up and realising his destiny.

So this week the “Man of Steel” main trailer was released and I loved it. The gravitas and tone set by the music and narration really sets this up as a step for Superman to enter the current generation of moviegoers that are well-versed in Comic Superheroes on screen. There’s a lot of power and impact that is teased at in the trailer as well. If you haven’t seen it – here’s my friendly link #1.

 

Movie #2: Pacific Rim is a giant monster vs robot film from one of my favorite directors, Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth). The trailer only really hints at a lot of the scale and fun that this film will be – but it totally brings out all my memories with Neon Genesis Evangelion, Godzilla and Transformers. With Del Toro helming this with the freedom to make the movie he wants, this is gonna rock – check it out here link #2.

 

Now my favorite part of the week – this week’s comics! RiD 12

I had a lovely LOOOONG drive down to my local comic shop this week but it was worth it. A bunch of comics to pick up and some real gems. Two Transformers comics in particular – Robots in Disguise #12 and a return of the Spotlight brand focusing on Orion Pax (pre-Optimus Prime). Robots in Disguise is a comic that i’ve been engrossed in all year (still working on that essay…) and it even got to the top of the “Buy Pile” at ComicBookResources. The “Underbase” podcasting team did a great review of it too – link #3.

Also on comics – next week sees Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #12 coming out – which in James Roberts on words “ends with a bang.” Which little robot is gonna get it?!?

And lastly here, MY LITTLE PONY #2 should be out in a week’s time – can’t wait!

 

Last piece of news that i’m LOVING is the teaser for SEVENDUST’s new album “Black out the Sun.”

These guys are my favorite band ever. Their youtube channel has a lot of great behind the scenes videos showing their recording, hanging and antics during the recording process for this new album.

I cannot wait until it is released next March!

 

Cheers all,

Luke

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Inked head

photoshopnow I want to take an opportunity to highlight a wonderful piece of work that good comic creating friend HdE did for me.

As well as all the inking and lettering on my “Inkman” five page story, he also worked up the striking header image that I now use as this blog site header.

 

You can find his good self on deviantart! He also has a wonderful blog over here. Go show him some love!

Check out Inkman: Dead Lines on the comic page link above!

Cheers!

Luke

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Mute, but not Silent.

Keyboard Jump Engage

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Mutemath are coming back to Australia’s shores in early 2013 – which is awesome because I’ve only been obsessing about them since earlier this year when some good friends recommended them and I realized they’d played some of my favourite tracks on great movie soundtracks (Transformers 1 and Twilight).

There’s been a lot written about Mutemath – their sound, their records and especially their live shows. And I guess that’s what I want to add my voice too.

The HiFi Bar in Sydney is the perfect venue for them (that is until they can command arenas like Muse do), and they totally filled the room with evocative sounds, brilliant colour and lively theatrics.

It was all genuine. That’s what got me. These guys are excellent musicians and they love performing with an audience. They really seem to respect the audience and give EVERYTHING to the show.

I’ve been a drummer, electric guitarist and bass player in a few bands (never at the same time – lol). But Darren King’s STATEMENT OF INTENT when he stands at the drum kit, places his headphones on and GAFFA TAPS THEM TO HIS HEAD gave me chills. I’d only heard their albums, and I loved it, but the drums and overall sound is very deftly produced to allow a lot of interesting instruments shine – so the drums are not what I’d call intense or in your face. On the albums.

Because live. With his headphones taped to his head. And with only a small kit to play. He PLAYS.

I don’t know how much he sweats but EVERY drop is worth it.

So I give you some links to some clips. Enjoy.

Typical” live in Sydney (Paul comes into the crowd and you can see my head and BJ [with the big blonde hair] at 1:56).

Typical” music video – AWESOME CLIP

Clipping” – live – Check out Darren with 3 drum sticks between 1:00-1:20.

Part of “Quarantine” – all for the AIR MATTRESS CROWD SURFING

Cavalries” – live – great shot of Darren Tapped-Head King

Chaos” – clip – one of my favourites!

And their website

 

P.S This post is dedicated to my buddies Matt, Adam and Simon – go here and grab tickets and come to their show in March boys!