Cross Country Weekender
Welcome to the newly branded UK Cine, as named by Mark Humphreys of Northampton. Your copy of Elfen Lied volume one is in the mail. I have mixed feelings about the event but it does appear the organisers have started to get their act together following disappointing shows over the last twelve to eighteen months. While entry remains an exorbitant for standard entry and for early admission, there was a little more on offer this time than merely an oversized car boot sale, but only a little. Both days offered a zombie make up demonstration by Karl Derrick, prosthetics supervisor on The Brothers Grimm and the 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes, followed by a Q+A session. Elstree Studio exhibited several fullscale Star Wars props, including a Landspeeder from New Hope, clashing oddly with a nearby FAB1 from Thunderbirds. As with the London Expo, there was a chance to try out several online RPGs for free, including Archlords, Guild Wars and City of Heroes.
In terms of guests, there was a sizable number of Doctor Who cast members past and present but the real push was for all things Bond unsurprising given the success of Casino Royale and many cast members from earlier Bond movies attended the show. Corgi, of diecast cars fame, had a display trailer devoted to Bond in the far corner of the hall, highlighting their new range of tiny metal toy vehicles. Sports guests were fewer in number this time, the star being legendary but controversial boxer Joe Frazier.
Comics had a bigger presence at the show than they have for a while, both in terms of guests and dealers. A charity sketch session, with funds going towards Everychild, was a terrific gesture and a chance for fans to obtain original sketches from the likes of John McCrea, Phil Winslade and Andrew Wildman, amongst others. A large central showcase of animation cels was also a nice touch, though perhaps out of most peoples price range.
And thats about it. Credit to the organisers for adding in some new attractions but there still wasnt enough to maintain interest over the whole weekend. The entry prices are approaching offputting levels early entry for Saturday alone at Memorabilia would buy entry for a full weekend at London Expo and the balance is still stacked firmly in favour of stall after stall selling varied cult merchandise. Conversely, I spoke to many dealers who were unhappy with the table rates they were being charged which could lead to a decrease in sellers for all the wrong reasons in future.
With the Midlands Expo Londons sibling show coming to nearby Telford in February, Memorabilia needs to build on the improvements of this show or risk being chased out by the better value show.
Saturday also saw the first UK performance of Video Games Live, at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. Performed in conjunction with the English National Ballet Symphony, Video Games Live performs orchestral renditions of classic music from numerous games franchises. Melding music with video footage of the games, VGL is a wonderful tour through the history of an oftneglected part of gaming culture. Prior to the concerts start, a small festival was held, with free CDs given to the first 3000 attendees and various competitions running.
If there was a flaw with the nights proceedings, it was down to legal shenanigans. While permitted to play entries from SquareEnixs lauded Final Fantasy series, they were not allowed to accompany it with footage from said games, dampening the impact of those pieces compared to others played that night.
Video Games Live is a concert experience quite unlike any other, at times approaching sensory overload through a glorious synthesis of music, visuals and lights, and I sincerely hope this event was successful enough for the organisers to return to the UK for more than one night next year.
New UK DVD Picks for 04/12/2006
With the column shifting to Wednesdays, the DVD picks will shift to look at releases from the week ahead, starting with this nifty notsolittle batch.
Superman: The Ultimate Collectors Edition
How easy would it be to make a joke about wearing underwear over trousers here? Far too easy, yet I still want to. The thing is, it would be quicker for both of us if I did go for the bad joke than if I were to even begin to detail the extras on this monumental DVD collection. There are more discs solely devoted to special features here than there are with an actual movie to watch. Besides the Reeve/Routh movies, this doubles as an archive set with attention paid to previous onscreen adaptations of Kryptons last son, from Max Fleischers cartoons to the George Reeves serials of the 50s. The price is a touch steep but for fans of the original super hero in any of his cinematic endeavours, this is nigh on unmissable.
Star Trek: The Animated Series
Falling under the so bad its good banner comes this complete collection of the 1973 animated show, continuing the voyages of the original Star Trek cast. A budgetsaving olive branch to fans of the time, the animated format allowed for more imaginative stories and characters than live action would allow but never quite felt right when compared to its older brother. The entire cast reprised their roles though, lending an authenticity that may otherwise have been lacking. This DVD set has an assortment of commentaries and documentaries, storyboards and production notes to boost its appeal. As well as an impressive amount of ondisc extras, the set comes with a tshirt and a toy of the Tachikoma robots from the show and its still a fraction of the cost of the individual releases. The Ghost in the Shell TV series is very different to the movies but for those who prefer action, political intrigue and hard science fiction to existential ramblings, this show is highly recommended.