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Posts tagged “Labyrinth

Top 10 Characters With Crazy Hair

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These characters know how to show off their unique personalities. This list is to celebrate characters who hair is literally an extension of themselves and their personalities. It’s also for if they can use their hair as weapons, or just general talking points. Whether it’s a cultural thing or if it’s just how they roll, we’re going to celebrate hair in all of its ridiculousness. Yes, this list is only for Characters with Crazy Hair.

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Top 10 – Severed Heads

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Next on the chopping block, a Top 10 that springs to mind when thinking of Hallowe’en. It was necks to impossible to pick from our examples, but we made some real headway and have ranked some examples that are truly head and shoulders above the rest and it’s heads, it’s severed, decapitated, removed from the body heads. You already knew that from the title, no need for the puns, after all if you read the title…

You’re already ahead of the punchline. (more…)


The Shrewsbury Insider: Harry Potter’s Labyrinth, D&D in The Cave

Ahh, Shrewsbury is a-growing.

We have a thriving nerd community around town, GeekOut Shrewsbury is only one addition to a variety of events, groups, societies and organisations with a geeky slant. Shrewsbury, let me tell you, we are the envy of many towns and cities around the country where the gamers, film buffs, fantasy, sci-fi, and horror fans are simply not as well catered to.

Today I celebrate a couple of new groups to town, the shop Labrinth, and a new public gaming group hosted in the Cave: (more…)


Top 10 Flamboyantly Ominous Characters

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Last week, our vote was a tie. Usually what we do in these situations, is roll a die for odds/evens and whoever calls it gets the one they choose. This time, Timlah said to Joel: “I think we can do this”. Lo and behold, we managed it. We combined the tied votes to create a brand new Top 10 that you all voted for. Perhaps the will of the people wasn’t to do this, but the votes sent us this way.

Flamboyant characters can be hard to judge: they’re often more than just a bit player in their franchise. Often they’re scary, in fact, they’re usually a little bit ominous. They stand out in a realm of “the norm”, they dress fancy, they talk differently and their minds are wired in a very unique way. They’re dangerous but fabulous, they’re ominous, they’re flamboyant… they’re in our Top 10 Flamboyantly Ominous Characters list!

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Villains: Why Rushing A Bad Guy Is Bad

Countless times have I been subjected to seeing a plot rushed to the finish line, the moment it gets away from the starting post. A hero should be triumphant, they say, so they give you fifteen thousands of hours of hero development, but what about the protagonists of the developing world? I think rushing a story for the sake of a hero to save the day is one of the worst things a story can do. Here’s some examples of what I mean and how we can remedy this.

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Top 10 Fairies

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They’re magical and they’re mythical, somewhat mystical too. These creatures are incredibly magical and often very small, but count your blessings should you meet one as often they’re portrayed to be kind and nurturing. But do we really know fairies as well as we think we do? When you think of fairies, what do you think of? In this weeks’ Top 10, we’re going to count down our favourite fairies. (more…)


Top 10 Charming Villains

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Villains are often rather evil beings, capable of destroying their opponents through raw might, or cunning plans. However, not all villains are content with outright destruction. Some prefer to take a more manipulative, or vocal route. Some like to make people their personal pawns, mentally enthralled to them. In fact, it could be said that some villains are even more charming than their protagonist counterparts.

This week, we’re celebrating our personal Top 10 list of antagonists who happen to be pretty charming, for one reason or another. Now, I command you to read all of this article, then comment in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter. After all, we could be the most charming villains of all… If we actually bothered to try.


Top 10

10. Lust – FMA

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If there was one character from anime that epitomised using her charms to win her enemies over, before going ahead and being brutal, then Lust would be at the top of the list. She only makes it in at number 10, as she’s not the most charming of all of the villains on this list, by a long way. But she doesn’t need to even say too much, for most men to have an aching, throbbing heart. What did you think I was going to say there?

She’s a beauty and as such, she is a real charmer to men who are most sinful to the deadly sin of Lust. Beautiful, yet deadly, she strikes out at Edward Elric and his brother Alphonse Elric with long, extending claw-like nails which can even pierce the toughest of metals. She’s often talking people into and out of things the homonculi don’t want to see happening, so Lust acts as their communicator for the most part, getting their message across… Sometimes even peacefully!

9. Bane – The Dark Knight Rises

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While the original version has unquestionable physical superiority, tactical brilliance and a certain amount of charisma to back it all up, Nolan’s adaption (played by Tom Hardy) possessed far more gravitas than his comic-book counterpart. Bereft of chemical augmentation and instead bound by a crippling deformity, Bane portrays so much in his body language, even the way he stands in a room shows a terror inspiring fearlessness and dominance.

Little wonder that the man who left the Pit commands a city, demands the allegiance of a criminal army, and put the fear into the Bat himself. In a few words he can make trained military men doubt even while he himself is bound at their feet. His allies quake in his presence and only one human being can instil fear in him, the daughter of the demon. Not even the Clown Prince can command such an audience without holding an entire TV station hostage.

8. Dr. Wallace Breen – Half Life 2

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Collaborator, but what hope have we to advance if we do not collaborate and work together?

Breen may only be a puppet to the Combine forces that seek to enslave humanity, but even under the illusion of leader of all humanity he still has a certain benevolent tone to his tyrannical propaganda lectures to his people as his masked police force beat down on the populous for throwing trash around. He seems oddly caring, forward thinking, and determined that humanity needs to advance despite what costs may come, and that those who fight against these changes are narrow minded fools who would drag the species into stagnation and extinction.

Or we could be food, slaves, or subjects of dangerous scientific experimentation to create highly powerful soldiers to protect and advance the terrible interdimensional empire Breen serves as a kind of traitorous maître-de.

7. Hans Gruber – Die Hard

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It’d be a cheap disservice to the memory of Alan Rickman to place him in a list where he does not belong, and to give him an unjustly high ranking in the process.

But there was no way we were letting Hans Gruber get away without a mention. Everyone’s favourite Christmas film features a criminal mastermind so thoroughly charismatic that he even has maverick action hero John McClane convinced he’s just an innocent victim in need of saving, if only briefly. Cold, cunning, exceedingly clever, he always has time for a polite chat with the people he’s going to kill, and has one of the most elegant back-and-forth villain to hero patters in cinema history, mocking, probing and funny as all hell.

Little wonder that McClane tries to keep Gruber alive at the end of the film, and so often the stunned look from the plummeting thief is the most memorable moment and not his quips, his glibness, and his classical education. Constructing a terrorist attack in order to execute an enormous heist is simple brilliance, and no one else could have done so with such theatrical aplomb.

6. The Master – Doctor Who

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The Master is a primary antagonist of the British classic Doctor Who, of which has seen countless fantastic iterations. When one thinks of The Doctor, it doesn’t take long for people to bring up The Master, who is not only an intellectual equal to The Doctor, but perhaps even a superior. When The Doctor and The Master were studying in Gallifrey, The Master would always outperform The Doctor. Whilst being out right brilliant, if there was one weakness to The Master, it is his thirst for dominance.

Forever engaging The Doctor in conversation, The Master is known for often being rather pleasant to chat to. Although this may be the case, it doesn’t stop him from being vile and pure evil, often with murderous intent. He’s talked people to kill themselves to be turned into robots, only for those robots to go back in time and then kill their former selves, to create some incredibly crazy time paradox. The Master might be intelligent, but if this is what intelligence does to you, then I’m going to remain blissfully unaware.

5. Jareth the Goblin King – Labyrinth

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“Your eyes can be so cruel, just as I can be so cruel” – Jareth

Yes, we’re feeling a little bit soppy about the passing of both David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Couple this with Lemmy of Motorhead and now the death of Glenn Frey of the Eagles. Oh, this has been a dreadful start to 2016, hasn’t it? However, let’s look past that right now and let’s look at why Jareth belongs on this list.

Labyrinth is a cult classic film; It’s one that many people in the world consider a great film, yet when it was released, critics didn’t think much of it. With his stunning good looks, even by attractive human standards, Jareth plays with protagonist Sarah’s heartstrings and knows how to wind her around his little finger. He knows what makes her twitch, he knows how to make her skin crawl at the right moments and how to get her to obey his commands. Jareth knows it, he knows he doesn’t need to resort to his minions to get to her. He knows in his mind that he can make her his bride, which would mean that all of his professions of love for Sarah would have been for something all along.

If you’re not charmed by Jareth and by extension David Bowie, I’m not sure what you are charmed by. Gender and sexuality knows no bounds when it comes to this great. Thank you, Bowie, for Labyrinth.

4. Kuja – Final Fantasy IX

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Now, a lot of people might turn around and suggest other antagonists from the Final Fantasy series, although I will immediately stop to point out that none of them were charming. They were usually very verbose and intelligent, such as Kefka and even Garland. With all this in mind, how could we single out Kuja to be the most charming of all of the villains from the franchise? He has some very defining features which make him so:

When we first meet him, we don’t have a clue who he is really. He’s just some guy who watches as you are beaten down by a very powerful foe. He points out who may be trouble to the Queen, who he seems to act as a kind of advisor for. As you play through, you find out that he has been a weapons dealer for Queen Brahne, but further to that, he’s also acted as an advisor of kinds. He would tell the Queen about what places are next to attack, instilling confidence in the Queen that she was doing this to make Alexandria the most powerful city in the world. He wasn’t lying, either, as they unleash ridiculous powers, before he finally turns on the Queen and kills her.

Manipulative, but all the time he acts charming. He tries to get Garnet to be his, as if they were in a play the whole time. He’s dashing and makes heads turn, but most important is his intellect, coupled with his incredibly dangerous sensibilities: Kuja is a charmingly destructive force to be reckoned with. Also, how many men do you know can pull that look off?! Very few.

3. Light Yagami – Death Note

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Hold your horses folks, you might need to understand a little bit about why we’re bundling Light as an antagonist in this list.

See, Light Yagami is indeed generally pretty much a good guy. He fights the good fight, but his methods are all wrong. He doesn’t do the honourable thing, more taking justice into his own hands, a vigilante. Whilst this isn’t so bad unto itself, he does literally go around killing people with the Death Note. Sure, it might be villains that he’s killing off, but he’s doing basically what the villains were doing in the first place, which basically makes him a bad guy.

Part of the joy of Light’s works is that he’s very manipulative, but it’s all for the perceived notion of ‘good’. Whilst a brilliant and highly intelligent mind, able to make people do whatever he wants them to, he’s also incredibly self-absorbed. He believes he cannot be wrong, but in going around murdering criminals, he’s only mimicking the criminals. Perhaps what he does is for the greater good over all, but it doesn’t stop him being a villain in his own right. What do you think? Villain or not?

2. Magneto – Marvel

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The Brotherhood. What a name, and what a leader. “Villainy” becomes a somewhat difficult term to apply to someone like Magneto, he’s a man that made it through a genocide and has vowed to never see another – at least not against his own kind. In his loathing of nazis he has in his way become very similar to them, despising the “lesser race” and making every effort to kill or convert them, and seeing the efforts of those mutants who would find peace as treacherous and abhorrent.

And yet there are times when even he concedes that there is a greater good worth fighting for, puts aside his hatred and his anger to join forces with the X-Men of Xavier’s Institute and fight for life itself and not the differences that divide it, before sliding back into his resentment. And the sad fact is that he is often absolutely right, his point is so often proven by fearful and fear-mongering humans that countless mutants can’t help but follow by his lead.

1. Hannibal Lecter – Silence of the Lambs

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Who else?

Here is a man who’s very brilliance lies, not in the counterplay of his intellectual brilliance and culture against his feral and primal crime, but in his personality. Something in Hopkins’ snake-like charm, at once threatening and beguiling and his mastery of conversation makes him no mere villain, but a nemesis. Locked within a cage he still presents a threat with only words and information as his weapon, and with that and only that he manages to walk from his glass box a free (but hunted) man.

I will, at some point, get around to watching the widely acclaimed series based on the original books, but for now I’m content to rewatch Silence, Hannibal, and yes even Red Dragon to an extent – the Tooth Fairy was a good concept worthy of recognition – but I needn’t have seen it to know that here is a monster born with a silver tongue.


Honourable Mentions

Amos Zelig – The Shivah

Amos Zelig

Avid fans of GeekOut might remember a while back, when I started including galleries in video game posts where possible, I reviewed a game called The Shivah. It’s a game about a rather bitter Jewish Rabbi, who was sort of on the path to redemption for his actions. Along the way, there’s a murder mystery to be solved, along with trying to suss out what’s going on in the world of the synagogues. There’s a lot of deception and deceit in this game, which mostly comes from one man…

Amos Zelig, another rabbi for another synagogue, on the face of it is one of the most honest working rabbis around. People seem to agree with this too, as he runs a way more popular service than you do. However, he does this through lies and deceit. Amos is a cold blooded man, who talks people into a variety of different things. He doesn’t hesitate to kidnap, to murder, to do anything un-Jew like. Why? It’s true what they say; Money is power.

Gabe Newell – Steam

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Curse you Newell, you’ve got us all dancing to your merry tune, tempting us with trinkets and toys so that we forget the failings of your past, and your negligence! Where’s Half Life 3? Where’s Half Life 2, Episode 3? Something, anything? Why have you forsak- 50% off whatnow? All right, we’ll bite but you’re not getting away wi- Steam Machine? What’s that? Ohh, that looks pretty cool actually, I’m not a console person but I think I could get to grips with- HEY WAIT A MINUTE!

Now we’ve been loyal customers, and yes you’ve changed the way the PC gaming industry works, and no we wouldn’t have such platforms as Good Old Games or the Humble Bundle if it weren’t for Steam. Valve have produced masterpieces of games, the legendary Portal and Portal 2, the beloved Team Fortress 2, and the infamous saga Half Life, Half Life 2, Half Life 2: Episode 1, Half Life 2: Episode 2… AND THEN WHAT? Cliffhanger? Really? Nothing, after (counting – because you clearly can’t) nine years?!

Trading cards you say?


Charmed, I’m sure. But these villains have now had their say, from those romantic types, to the downright terrifyingly fearsome. You can’t help but at least listen to what they have to say for themselves and their plans. Regardless, they’ve said their piece now and we’re here to say they are our entries to this list, but the conversation needn’t end here!

As always, please remember to vote for next weeks’ Top 10 topic. If you want to get involved with one of our Top 10s like Murray did last week, please just get in contact with us. If you felt our list was good, let us know, but equally let us know if you disagree with any of our entries, or if we missed someone you feel deserves a space in the list that we just didn’t even put up here. As always, leave your comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter. See you next week for another Top 10!


Top 10 Alternative Animated Films

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Welcome back to our weekly Top 10 list and this week it’s alternative animated films!

There’ll be no Disney- Oh no wait, there’s some… Well there’s no big CGI produ- oh no, there it is…

Still, not one entry on this list could be considered your everyday cartoon, but they’re brilliant to watch. Cult classics and family favourites, puppets and stop motion! Enjoy our weird and wonderful Top 10!


Top 10

10) Space Jam – 1996

Looney Tunes fans were beyond happy with this film and I too sort of live nostalgically about it.

Michael Jordan plays intergalactic basketball with some cartoon characters. So to put this into perspective, this is a movie where a lot of cartoon animation being animated alongside live-action stories and elements. Whilst it’s not the greatest of films, it’s certainly quite unique and worth a watch at the very least. Plus it was quite amusing which is always a bonus.

9) Small Soldiers – 1998

Small Soldiers will never go down in the history books as one of the greatest films of all time. Heck, online critic Doug Walker, AKA the Nostalgia Critic basically pans this movie. But actually, I think it was rather clever for its use of animation.

It’s not a film that’ll captivate you emotionally, nor mentally. It’s also going to make you cringe often. However, it used these little CGI puppets in a film that was almost entirely live-action. A good proportion of the major cast however was CGI and these live-actors including some young actors had to get used to the idea: They’re talking to an inanimate object for real, but in the movie it’ll be a living, moving creation. Strange!

8) A Scanner Darkly – 2006

So here’s one that passed many people by. In spite of a star-studded cast and highly original style, A Scanner Darkly was based on a Phillip K. Dick book and filmed in live action before being converted to animation later. Following the tale of an undercover cop trying to trace the source of a drug called Substance D, the film’s style allows it to slip into hallucination sequences seamlessly.

Worth a watch for its’ style alone, A Scanner Darkly is a fantastically weird animated film. Not for the easily creeped-out however, it features a lot of messed up imagery and Robert Downey-Junior as a giant cockroach.

7) Muppets Treasure Island – 1996

Ahh, Muppets. Jim Henson created a cast of amazing characters who have entertained families for decades, and retell some classic tales with their classic word-play, slapstick and big musical numbers in some infamous feature-length productions. We had a lot to choose from, but Treasure Island was by far our favourite for its’ raucous songs, brilliant performances, and brilliant Muppet moments.

Tim Curry and Billy Connelly feature in the cast, but the real stars of the show have always been Rizzo, Gonzo, Kermit, Miss Piggy and Mister Bimble the man who lives in Fozzy’s finger.

6) The Lego Movie – 2014

It came as something of a dissapointment to me to discover that the Lego Movie had been made entirely in CGI, but looking back I actually understand. Though the characters only have a limited range of movement because they are kept as true as possible to the Lego minifigures, animating all of that Lego water and all of the Lego explosions? My gods, we’d still be waiting for a full-length Lego feature for another century.

And what a movie it was. In every way it captured what Lego is all about, bringing the toy to life in a way that saw the imagination of generations explode onto the big screen. In short: Everything (about the film) Is AWESOME!

5) Coraline – 2009

From the team that brought us The Nightmare Before Christmas (sans Tim Burton) comes a dark tale about appreciating what you have. A stop motion film about a young girl who is moved begrudgingly to a new house in the country and discovers a seemingly blissful version of her own world on the other side of a hidden door.

Heavily stylized and nightmarish, Coraline captured our imaginations and filled the dark corners of our minds with the terrifying, button-eyed spectre of “The Other Mother.”

4) Who Framed Rodger Rabbit? – 1988

Bob Hoskins starred in the infamous cartoon-noir drama, mixing compelling live action performances with a vast cast of legendary cartoon characters including the only appearance of Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse on screen together. I think what really brings the film together though (in spite of the incredible collaborative effort) must be the character of Judge Doom, played by Christopher Lloyd, the terrifying cartoon disguised as a real human, enacting a twisted vendetta against the populace of Toontown.

Rodger Rabbit’s most famous appearance is a terrifying film for something that’s supposed to be family friendly. Cartoon death, torture and sex symbols? The hideous monster beneath Judge Doom’s face? Why is this list so full of scary films for kids? Why are we writing this?

3)Wallace and Gromit: The Wrong Trousers – 1993

Yes the inventor and his pet pooch are back once again with the 1993 hit film The Wrong Trousers. Why does this get as far as number 3 in our top 10 spot?

Claymation. This film is done out of clay. If you don’t know much about claymation, there’s not many films made entirely out of clay because it’s such a long, tedious process. It’s painful to imagine how many hundreds of hours were spent making each and every character, then adding in their emotion, by stopping their recording and restarting their recording.  Each move needed to be precise and each expression was captured crystal-clear. That’s right, this film as well as being made out of clay was also stop-motion.

Just look at Gromit if you don’t believe how awesome the quality of this film was.

2) Team America: World Police – 2004

South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker bring their intelligently dumb comedy to the big screen in Gerry Anderson style marionation complete with real explosions and over the top action (although the sex scene was all Parker/Stone, unless there’s a Thunderbirds episode I’ve yet to see). Team America is universally offensive, totally unnecessary, and absolutely ingenious.

Gerry Anderson (who’s Kickstarter campaign starts TODAY) inspired generations before his passing in 2012, and Team America is a fantastic big-screen adaption and homage to his style. Let’s hope Firestorm can honour his memory in a slightly more family-friendly way though…

1) Labyrinth – 1986

Here it is, Labyrinth which might be one of the most iconic films of the 80s. The reason this comes in at number 1 was its stunning use of puppets and CGI combined.

Also, this film features some of the cheesiest 80’s songs imaginable. We didn’t need to say too much about Labyrinth that probably hasn’t been covered in a major thesis, only that the technology that they were using for the time was relatively experimental. Alongside labyrinth, we could have mentioned Gremlins, but we felt out of the films from around this period of time, Labyrinth stands out the most. Hoggle and the gang being actual muppets which are now displayed in a museum is quite exciting. To think the actors and actresses in this film would have had to get used to the idea that these puppets were “real”.

It’s all made weirder when you listen to David Bowie throughout this film, as clearly he’s still debating what kind of magic spell to use.

 


Honourable Mentions

Animation is big business, and pinning down what makes it alternative these days is a little difficult. But with our list assembled we were still left with a few brilliant examples left over that still warrant mention. This keeps happening to us, but Top 12 isn’t so catchy…

Junk Head

Mature Content Warning because Junk Head, an independently made stop-motion animation available to view on youtube, is set in a world so heavily industrialized that biological reproduction has become impossible, and follows an cyborg agent sent into the deep city to find a “sample” that has, rather clearly gained something necessary to biological reproduction.

Intended to be the first of a series, I watched the film and found myself really hoping that a series materializes, as the bizarre urban-wilderness and strange people who occupy it are amazingly realized and entirely created by one man. It’s made it into our honourary section because it deserves some honour.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

This was the first Final Fantasy film and it was a full blown feature-length film entirely out of CGI and awesome effects. With a fun and relatively complex plot which was played through with a beautiful soundtrack and some of the best visuals of its time.

Whilst it’s true to Final Fantasy style, this film is basically all CGI, even if it was impressive. As such, it wasn’t really fitting for our alternative animation theme, but we thought it deserved a mention at the very least.

 


Animation is a brilliant way to present a story in a unique world with style, but to really make it stand apart the animation itself must be unique. We did our best to choose the best, but do you have an alternative (harr harr) for us? Give us some more suggestions in the comments, or on our Facebook or Twitter!

This week’s Top 10 rather elegantly sets up tomorrow’s Kickstarter Highlight, Gerry Anderson’s all-new ultramarionation Firestorm! We mentioned it last week, but the campaign begins today. Be sure to come back to us for all the information. And come back to us next week for another Top 10!