What E3 Is Like

If you knew me you'd know my anxiety manifests in one major way before I do anything new, I prepare like a madman. I'll make sure I know the location of the new bar I'm heading to to meet friends. I'll double check what time the movie starts and leave with plenty of time to buy a tasty snack and soda. I use my anxiety and nervousness to better prepare myself for whatever is coming. So when I got into E3 with a media badge my preparations began in earnest. While there was plenty to discover about, there was even more never openly shared or discussed about one of the biggest trade shows of the year.

The line to see South Park was much longer than Ghost Recon's and Steep's.
The line to see South Park was much longer than Ghost Recon's and Steep's.

For one, few people know how to get in. As with almost any event, if you want to get in, you can. E3 is no different than PAX in this regards. With just enough of a connection to any video game oriented website or company you can show up and get into the building. You'll be regarded as the many, many attendees who shouldn't really be there but if you're only showing up to play yet to be release video games then who cares? I'm not saying it would be easy to wander in but with effort you could get yourself a badge to the show.

Secondly, appointments are everything. While I was able to just walk up and play Final Fantasy XV, Steep, and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided there were plenty of perks of making appointments. I was given access to extended gameplay demos and access to hardware like the PSVR for significant periods of time just by booking a time slot. Some of these were simply done via email before the show while others were born from having a media badge and showing up at the right place at the right time.

The real E3 experience.
The real E3 experience.

Lastly, it is probably the nicest show I've ever attended. Despite having been to a PAX East and several larger conventions only E3 felt calm, organized, and entirely too kind. From Giant Bomb allowing me and a few others to sit in during one of their live streams to the many, many company employees gladly handing over free food and drinks. Everyone was in the slog together, trying to simply survive without collapsing. It was a symbiosis of coverage and marketing that has a human element at its core. No matter if it was friendly French instructors at the Ubisoft booth or the indie devs at MIX, everyone was proud of their creations and just wanted to show them off.

E3 was strangely refreshing. It's a weird mix of networking and frivolity and of work and fun.

If you have any questions about E3, feel free to ask! I know I had quite a few in the run up to the show. I was able to get in via the website I edit/write for, Video Game Choo Choo. Hopefully this is only the beginning and I'll keep going for many years to come.


Summer Movie Roundup for 2015

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It's hot outside and video games tend to dry up during the summer months. For some weekends are only choice for entertainment are the big blockbusters that flood the theaters and vie for out eyeballs. Time to run down what some of those bigger films are, when they come out, and what to expect.

This list isn't comprehensive so feel free to add whatever movies comes out from now until August that I may have skipped over. Also keep in mind while this is somewhat early to be a summer list, it still is all about summer. Films like Star Wars, The Hunger Games, and The Peanuts Movie will not be included.

Avengers: Age of Ultron: May 1st

Possibly the biggest release of the summer, depending on who you ask. If you remember the original Avengers film was no automatic cash cow we all assume this one will be. The tide has turned however and Age of Ultron is raking in the money just like it's predecessor did. The reviews however haven't been as completely positive. Perhaps we expect more from our comic book movies now since we already know a group super hero movie can be done and done well. Or maybe we're seeing too much from men and women in spandex tights.

Age of Ultron might not be remembered like it's older brother but it will certainly keep the Marvel movie franchises alive. If the original Avengers was the declaration that comic book films were here to stay maybe Ultron will state they won't all be winners. I still expect this one to be well worth the cost of admission but I doubt I'll be rewatching this one years from now.

Mad Max: Fury Road: May 15th

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This is one of those films where I and the general population differ. I do love the original three films, will really just those first two, but the recent trailers for Fury Road didn't win me over. The style, the story, the color, none of it screamed Mad Max to me. I'm hoping, of course, that I'm really wrong and if you can convince me otherwise feel free to try.

George Miller, the original series director, is back directing this one and Tom Hardy is starring as the titular Max. It's taken nearly twenty five years to move this film from potential sequel to out in theaters so take that as you may. It is rated R here in the states which makes me think that it will provide the right amount of violence and grit I remember from the original films. I'm hoping with all these right pieces in place my instincts about Mad Max are proven wrong.

San Andreas: May 29th

If you're looking for the dumbest movie to be released this summer with a $100 million budget, this is it. Starring Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, this movie isn't a GTA film but instead about earthquakes. Johnson plays a helicopter pilot who, along with his ex-wife, flies around a devastated California looking for their daughter. Normally I'd be all in for an expensive disaster movie but this one comes from director Brad Peyton, who also directed The Rock in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Journey 2 did make lots of cash so maybe Peyton is putting on big boy pants and is ready to make a name for himself.

If they wanted to make a real disaster movie in California they should just have The Rock stare at his dead lawn waiting for the right watering day.

Jurassic World: June 12th

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A revival of a beloved film franchise that saw itself go down the summer blockbuster black hole is back. Starring Chris Pratt this is another release that has seen some pre-production turmoil. Jurassic Park 3 did well but was universally panned by critics seeding constant sequel rumors for over a decade now. Now it's finally coming out and this could be the biggest question mark for all of this summer's releases. The trailers have me excited but I don't know how the story will stack up with some of the hinted at story points. I won't spoil anything directly but if you've seen the trailers then you probably have your doubts as well.

Doubts or not I still want to see dinosaurs stomp around on screen. The original film was essentially a monster movie and if World can capture that same essence again it should do alright at the box office.

Magic Mike XXL: July 1st

I'll readily admit that I really enjoyed the first Magic Mike. Steven Soderbergh blended the right amount of comedy and drama into what easily could have been an "eye candy for ladies" kind of film. The characters and their portrayal as real, flawed, human beings really served the movie well and to this day I'll stop and watch it whenever I see it on. XXL brings back a lot from the original film including Channing Tatum and even Soderbergh, though as editor and cinematographer only. I'm not sure how I feel knowing Soderbergh took more of a back seat for this film but I have high hopes this one can deliver another worth while film. I like seeing movies that can bring more to a summer movie release than CGI and male strippers.

Ant-Man: July 17th

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I'm still not sure what this movie will be. Yet every time I question if Marvel is making the right decision their movies always exceed my caution. Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, and Evangeline Lilly are all actors I would trust in a film but director Peyton Reed's movies are lackluster (Yes Man and The Break Up were his last two). I'm still hoping we can get some more of these "lower" tier heroes before a bigger audience. Seeing these heroes who used to only be discussed among the dedicated and devoted comic book fans gain new followers is exciting.

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation: July 31st

I didn't know this even existed until a few weeks back. Perhaps I caught wind of this during pre-production but if I did I certainly didn't care enough to remember it. I've gone back and forth on the Mission Impossible franchise several times. They tricked me into seeing MI: 2 which I will never forgive but lately the franchise has found it's rhythm again. Originally this was going to be a December release but, possibly due to some large science fiction franchise, it was moved up to July. More than likely that means the film was ready anyways and they decided to compete with comic book movies rather than the behemoth that is Star Wars. When Tom Cruise is the star of your movie that seems like a safe bet to me too.

Fantastic Four: August 7th

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Forget rights battles, casting "controversies", and whatever else was said about this movie as it was being made. What matters is we're getting a good Fantastic Four movie and yes I'm saying that without having seen it. Not much could be worse than the other two made in the days when we still liked our comic book films happy and colorful. Batman Begins changed that and with it went most of 20th Century Fox's comic book lineup. Well Spidey got a reboot and X-Men found its way so I'm glad to see the Fantastic Four are next.

Josh Trank, director of Chronicle, is in charge of this reboot which I take as a great sign. Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, and Jamie Bell are your superheroes this time around. While they're all young they're all certainly talented and earned their spots on the cast. Despite watching two trailers I'm still not sure what this movie will be about beyond the birth of the titular team, and I like that. Trailers already give too much plot away and I like being surprised when going to the movies. Hopefully this one will be a pleasant surprise.

Straight Outta Compton: August 14th

Biopics about legendary rap groups doesn't sound like winning combination to me. Rap, especially early gangster rap, has an attitude and personality all to its own. Attempting to capture that attitude while trying to tell an interesting and entertaining story seems like a tall task to me.

If you don't know, NWA was a controversial and pivotal rap group from the mid 80s to the early 90s. They were loud, angry, violent, and didn't care who got offended. They gave a voice to the voiceless and that voice wasn't asking nicely. They changed rap forever and their story parallels what happened to their music genre in a lot of ways. I'm still cautious about this film but seeing how they put the story of NWA on film intrigues me to no end. Now you know.

Hitman: Agent 47: August 28th

The final entry for this summer's season is the most likely to fail. The Hitman franchise was already on the silver screen in 2007 and it did reasonably well especially when you consider video game movies reputation. The games don't have intricate stories or deep lore to keep track of so that makes it a simple conversation from game to movie. Rupert Friends play Agent 47 and I'm pretty sure I've never seen him in a single thing. The trailer I saw a few months back made the movie look more like a Matrix style action thriller than a super secret spy who's really good at killing people in elaborate ways. Trailers have ways of lying however so maybe this one still has a chance.