The original Terminator

So apparently the next Terminator movie will feature Arnold Schwarzenegger…or at least a CGI version of him, created from a full body mold taken when he made the first movie.

I’m actually pretty excited about this. I love continuity and cameos. I was only mildly interested in the movie before; now I actually feel like seeing it.

When we first started seeing CGI in movies, I was unimpressed. It looked fake and, worse, like it was drawn on top of the scene rather than existing in it. I could spot even the best-rendered model.

Around the time of the Star Wars prequels, that began to change. Watching those movies, I knew that most of what I was looking at didn’t actually exist…but it was all seamless. Nothing looked like it had been added in later. Part of that was surely due to more realistic modeling, but I believe the fact that the movies were filmed digitally also made a difference. After that, it started getting harder to tell what had existed tangibly and what had been created with a computer.

At one time, I believed CGI could never surpass stop-motion animation in terms of feeling real. Despite the sometimes jerky movements, stop-motion objects have always had a depth to them. You got a sense, looking at them, that you could touch them. But nowadays I am rarely jarred when I see a computer-animated portion of a movie, and sometimes I don’t realize it at all.

I don’t know if I’m just getting used to CGI or if it’s improved to the point that it looks real, but whatever it is, it has changed my approach to computer animation. Ten years go, upon hearing that a CGI version of Schwarzenegger was going to be in a movie, I would have thrown up my hands in annoyance and despair. But today, I think it’s going to be awesome.

On a lighter note

Keys to the Kingdom

Revenge of the Aztec Mummy

Angel Spit

Lara Croft: Legacy

Pre-Teen Raider

There are some animated Lara Croft shorts over at Gametap. As of right now they’re up to eight shorts that tell five stories, and two more stories are on the way.

The first story, “Keys to the Kingdom”, has a cabal of different religions coming together to get an artifact said to revive the dead. The idea of religions uniting (and being bad guys) was also done in Ctrl-Alt-Del recently, and it’s facile, reactionary, and not particularly imaginative in general. Still, it was a decent story, and I did find the part where all the religious leaders told each other to go to hell, or called each other infidels, or whatnot, fairly amusing. Great art and animation, too. The story and art are by Peter Cheung of Aeon Flux, which perhaps explains everything I just said.

The second story, “Episode 4: Revenge of the Aztec Mummy”, is completely different. It’s Lara Croft done as a spoof. And it’s really not all that funny. You might want to just skip it. The animation at least fits the story, I guess. I almost felt like I was watching one of the poorer Darkwing Duck episodes. I think I know why: the design was by a guy who worked on Animaniacs.

The third story, “Episodes 5 and 6: Angel Spit”, is actually pretty neat, though the ending is a bit cliched. The part where she blows a huge hole in the wall really made me cringe, though. Watch it and you’ll know why. Quite an interesting situation. I thought the animation was fairly decent in this one, but at times it looked South Park-y. Warren Ellis wrote the story, which made me expect more–though I’ve never read a thing the man’s written, people seem to go on and on about him. The dialogue was good and the story felt epic. It was really just the ending that was kind of blah.

The fourth story, “Episode 7: Lara Croft: Legacy”, is my absolute favorite. It was perfect. Of course, you’ll be turned off if you didn’t ever like Hanna-Barbera’s adventure cartoons like Jonny Quest, because this is done in an old-fashioned style with old-fashioned music. There are even “dust particles” on the “film”. I thought it was campy and fun. And the story was good too. I enjoyed the addition of a character who wasn’t simply there for Lara to defeat. I’m not familiar with the writer or designer, but after watching this short I feel like I ought to be.

The fifth story, “Episode 8: Pre-Teen Raider”, is also good. Pretty cute. Although if one of your pet peeves is obnoxious children, you might want to pass. I don’t know anything about the writer or designers here, either.

From their synopses, the upcoming stories look pretty cool as well. “Raising Thaumopolis” sounds like a good premise for an adventure…plus it’s written by Mike Stackpole! And “A Complicated Woman” reminds me fondly of one of my favorite Batman: The Animated Series episodes, “Almost Got ‘Im”. I can’t wait to watch them.

Thanks to Tycho for pointing these out!

Edit 07/08/25: I watched Stackpole’s not long ago and enjoyed it. I guess I really wasn’t paying attention. I just watched it again. Basically, the bad guys in that story are “neocons” who started the war in Iraq in order to get an ancient artifact. That goes a little beyond metaphor, doesn’t it? Sheesh.

If you ignore that part, though, it’s pretty good. I enjoy Lara’s interactions with Mr. Cooper.