30 December 2009

The Invention of Lying

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So I’m bored and I watched it last night. Guess I’ll write something about it.

The movie started out quite good really, putting forth the question of what the world would be like without the concept of falsehood. Everybody seems to get along pretty well with total honesty, except for some reason they tend to be overly honest; people are always just blurting embarrassing stuff out without much provocation. It’s a little fishy, but I guess it was necessary for comedy. I think I’d like to see this concept used in a more serious sci-fi thing maybe.

As the title suggests, Ricky Gervais and his deadly chompers figure out how to lie for some reason. Naturally everyone believes everything he says because that’s what they’re accustomed to doing, even when he says contradictory things. It’s a bit weird. Events lead to him starting monotheism, and getting everyone really confused. You can tell this guy really doesn’t like Christianity.

Anyway it lost steam for me about half-way through after the concept got tired and it turned into more of a romantic comedy thing. It would have been better I think if it had been more of a tragedy, where more things went horribly wrong. Instead mostly everything went pretty well all things considered.

So it was okay I guess.

24 December 2009

Up in the Air

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This movie got good reviews and the trailer looked okay, so last night when Avatar was sold out at IMax, I persuaded my friends to try it out. So we did.

It was pretty good. George Clooney is a good actor and the story wasn't too generic. It had a few neat little cameos. The elder George Michael from Arrested Development was in it. There was a nice ass-shot. However, it was a bit more of a chick-flick than I was expecting, which was a little awkward since we were a group of three guys and one girl. Still it was quite funny and entertaining, and it didn't end with "and they all lived happily ever after."

I can see why it's getting good reviews, but somehow I don't think it's going to show up at the Oscars. Also, when did romantic comedies start being called dramatic comedies?

20 December 2009

Avatar

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I didn’t start hearing about this movie until relatively recently, but it’s apparently been in the works for a really long time. It’s been a sort of vision of James Cameron’s since something like the 80s. A lot of new technology had to be engineered for it to be made. With this sort of hype, it’s pretty hard to imagine it living up to expectations. I personally though it would be a flop, just another action flick with a few pretty visuals and a lot of uncanny-valley.

It isn’t really.

Avatar has been receiving very good reviews from just about everybody, with Cameron being proclaimed the “King of the World,” a reference to his mega-blockbuster Titanic. The guy makes good movies. So, when he puts his considerable talents to work on a sci-fi epic, the results are probably going to be good, and they are.

The biggest part of it, of course, is the visual aspect. The majority is computer generated imagery with meticulous attention to detail and lots of motion capture for the CG characters, the Navi (and sometimes the humans). The environments are spectacular and successfully build a semi-believable world with lots of pretty colors, often reminiscent of the old Myst series of video games. The Navi themselves are also quite beautiful, as is the various other animal life. I’m sure the “furry” population is going bonkers over the Navi. The question of the uncanny valley is still relevant; as the movie started I could definitely tell things were a little weird, but after a while I just didn’t notice anymore. It’s a lot more evident in the short trailers. I also saw it in 3D which is supposed to be the correct way to do it. I’ll admit it was pretty impressive, but it also made things a little less fluid by seeming to decrease frame-rates during motion-heavy sequences.

The weaker part was the story. It’s a pretty generic one. Although I didn’t see the episode, South Park apparently was one of the first to make the comparison to Dances with Wolves, which is a very valid one. It still makes the story its own though since it’s sci-fi, and has the license to be all kinds of wacky. The acting was good but not great, and the dialog was okay. Overall the visuals make up for it and just make it all an extremely immersive experience.

This is probably the only contender to District 9 as the best sci-fi film of the year, and I think it just edges it out. D9 definitely wins in the story category but as far as mind-blasting beauty goes, Avatar takes it.

08 December 2009

The Road

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I’ve decided to write this review in as close of a style to the book's as I can so as to cover both media while only writing once.

When he first heard of the movie through the internet he thought it looked really awesome. He hadn’t heard of the book before and only recently learned that the writer Cormac McCarthy also wrote No Country For Old Men which is also a very great movie. Then he waited a really long time probably about a year or so before it finally came out. Then he watched it.

It wasn’t as good as his first impressions made him think it would be but it was still a very quality film. It drags a little much like the book’s monotone dearth of punctuation but the atmosphere is there. There are some darn shocking moments in it but most of them happen off screen to good effect. The acting is good. Heck, Strider’s in it. Oh man a comma. Shame upon the writer of this review. Anyway the kid’s pretty good too.

Since he doesn’t think the story is that well known he will give a synopsis. A man and a boy who is the man’s son are walking down a road after the world has suffered some unspecified apocalyptic happening. Some nasty stuff happens. Some nice stuff happens. The man is pretty sad. It ends at some point.

Yeah he guesses that doesn’t really sell it well but that’s what it is. Go watch it for an experience.

Holy crap that was painful.

06 December 2009

The Sopranos – Season 1

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Like The Godfather, everybody likes this show. I can see why people might enjoy it. However, I didn’t like The Godfather very much. I thought Goodfellas was boring. The Sopranos, so far, has been less than my favorite show ever.

Yeah yeah the acting’s pretty good and there’s some skin and nasty language to spice things up, and the story’s okay I guess. Something about it just doesn’t keep me riveted like say The Wire or Dexter. I don’t like the characters; that’s probably the problem. I don’t identify with any of them. They’re all kinda assholes. Really it almost seems more like a sitcom to me than a drama a lot of the time.

I’m not saying I never enjoyed it. There were some good moments and good episodes; I can’t think of any in particular, except maybe one of the last few. It took me a long time to get through this season, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get to season 2.

I guess I just don’t get mobster fiction.

Devin Townsend Project - Addicted

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Addicted is the second album in a series of four that Devin is putting out under the Devin Townsend Project name. He’s brought in a new set of musicians, although some of them have worked with him pretty extensively in the past (I guess just Poederooyen). The biggest addition is Anneke von Giersbergen’s vocal work, which is much more prevalent in this album than the female vocals on Ki. Anneke fronted The Gathering for a long time; I’m not up on their music so her inclusion wasn’t some orgasmic thing for me.

Anyway, Addicted is an up-tempo exercise in happiness in a metal context. The lyrics themselves aren’t necessarily happy but it’s an uplifting collection of songs to be sure. The original idea Devin had for this album was to emulate the sound of pop-metal/hard-rock bands like Nickelback, whose he has described as infectious music about the lyric writer’s penis. His take would have the sound, but would be more of a parody lyrically; poking fun at pop music itself. Instead, as is his wont, Devin changed the concept quite a bit. It ended up as something very similar to his older output. The lyrics are metaphysical an introspective, and the sound is waves upon walls of densely produced electronics and guitars. Anneke does bring a new element to the music by decreasing the amount of screaming and perhaps making it easier to sing along to it.

It’s a heavy album and it’s not a heavy album. It seems light-hearted but I don’t think it really is; Devin has put a lot of himself into it. It’s a flushing of a part of himself in preparation for Deconstruction, the promised barrage of chaos that I’m very much looking forward to. This album however, I’m not as enamored with as with Ki, which I felt was a transcendent album for Devin; this one seems like a throwback. A fun throwback, though.

01 December 2009

Ninja Assassin

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SPLAT SPATTER SPLATTABLOP SPLAT SPLATTERR SPLAT THUD SPLAT CRUNCH SPLAT SPLATTERYSPLAT

This movie is stupid.

17 November 2009

A few movie mini-reviews

Okay, I’m bored enough to write something, and I’m a bit behind on my movies so I’ll do them all in one go.

Where the Wild Things Are

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I’d been looking forward to this movie for a while, I think since some time in 2007. I remember liking the book a lot as a kid, although I don’t think I’ve read it in many years. I might buy it sometime. Maurice Sendak supports the film adaptation by Spike Jonze, and that’s good enough for me. So I saw it a few weeks ago. It was pretty good. Definitely cool looking, although I think I might have liked it better if the wild things were a bit less muppet-like. It was just a bit too obvious that they were dudes in monster suits, but I suppose that could be argued to be a story element in itself, since that’s what Max is being, and the monsters are a reflection of himself. I guess there’s a pretty good amount of philosophical stuff that my shallow mind glossed over. It was fun, and I think a fitting homage to the source material.

The Men Who Stare at Goats

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Oddly based on a documentary, this movie seems like fiction but is mostly based in truth. Ewan McGregor and George Clooney star in a strange comedy about psychological warriors and their cooky methods of battle. It’s pretty funny, and The Dude’s in it. Good enough for me. There are a lot of sideways Star Wars jokes that always got a good laugh out of me, especially with the false Obi-Wan Kenobi being there. In the end though, its use of narration and some other awkward factors made it less than a blockbuster. Oh well.

Boondock Saints II

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I liked the first one. It had a style to it. Sure, it was basically Quentin Tarantino’s style, but it’s a good style! It was a solid movie with good enough acting and funny bits with great violence. The makers of this sequel obviously saw all of these elements, and definitely tried to fit them all in again. However, they did it wrong somehow. The cheese factor seems to have doubled to me, although everyone else I was with said it was the same. The new characters were a little bit too outrageous to fit, I think; Julie Benz and Clifton Collins Jr. are great actors in their own right, but their addition to this story was just done wrong. Julie’s over-sexualized southern cop character is annoying, and Clifton’s Mexican brawler is just too flamboyant. His counterpart from the first movie, Rocco, was a bit more reserved (in my memory), and also flawed. Julie’s was Willem Dafoe (no more explanation needed). So anyway, I laughed, shrugged a lot, and I left the theater not really disappointed; I didn’t expect it to be as good as the first one, but still, it could have been better than that. I think it deserves the punishment it’s getting from the critics, unlike its predecessor.

01 November 2009

Mastodon/Dethklok 2009-10-21

High on Fire

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I’ve only heard one of High on Fire’s albums, and I like it okay. I didn’t recognize anything they played though. They rocked pretty hard but it all sounded kinda samey. Their vocalist sounds a bit like Lemmy.

Converge

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These guys were probably the real reason I bought a ticket. Every album they’ve put out over the last 10 years has been a brilliant hardcore/metal masterpiece, with their latest Axe to Fall being no exception. I wish they’d been headlining. Anyway, the performance was every bit as good as I hoped it would be; they were all very animated and played excellently. Jacob Bannon had some fun things to say, and commended the chicken-man and the watermelon for their moshing skills (this was Halloween after all). Quite a few of the songs played were from their latest release, but they also hit some from Jane Doe and No Heroes which made me very happy.

Mastodon

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I’ve never fallen asleep at a concert before, but Mastodon’s latest album Crack the Skye, which took up most of the show, has fallen rather flat on me. I actually lost consciousness a few times I was so bored. They did play a few from Blood Mountain and Remission, but strangely nothing from Leviathan, which I thought was their most popular before CtS. The older songs ripped pretty well though, almost making up for the first-half snorefest that everybody else seemed to love. The most fun part of their performance was their getup. The guy with the beard dressed up as Richard Simmons, and I think the bassist was that guy who paints happy trees. I couldn’t make out what the other guitarist was wearing, but it was some sort of shiny metallic mask. You could never really see them that well as the lighting seemed to be engineered to focus on the media display in the back.

Dethklok

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This is the second time I’ve seen this faux-band, and it was pretty much just as fun as the first time. A lot of the video portion was the same stuff that was shown on their first tour though. Anyhows, they were really fun and tore up the stage quite handily. Gene Hoglan was spot on as usual, and I think Brendan Small’s vocals have improved. Very fun.

The venue was  the Patriot Center at George Mason University. I had pretty-ok seats on the side, with a good view of the stage. I was far enough away from the speakers that my ears didn’t suffer very much, certainly nowhere near as much as they did at Jaxx. The sound was okay, but kinda muffled due to the size of the place I think.

All images snatched from Brian C. Reilly’s flickr photostream.

17 October 2009

Concert Review: Night Eternal Above America Tour 2009-10-16

Last night was my first time attending a metal show by myself, and also the first time I’ve been in the front row. It was a pretty darn great experience. 6 bands played, two of them local and the rest from various places. The overall theme of the night was gothic metal due to the headlining act of Moonspell.

Todesbonden

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The first two bands were local, Todesbonden being the first. They’re a very gothic band in the veign of Nightwish and Epica, with a female lead and lots of symphonic stuff going on. For an opening act they were quite decent indeed; the vocals were enjoyable and the bass guitar stood out to me as very punchy and energetic. The front-girl reminded me more of Simone (Epica) than Tarja or that new chick, which is cool because I prefer them.

Blood Corps

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The second band was a bit more of a disappointment, especially compared to the rest of the bands. Still, they weren’t too bad. I guess they were some sort of gothic metal; not really anything more specific that I know of. This was another female-lead group, but it rocked more. I think maybe the thing that made me enjoy it less was one of the guitarists prancing around the stage with his skin-tight outfit and black lipstick. Their entrance was pretty fun though. The girl came out in a trenchcoat and spiked goggles, and let out a pretty long scream. Fun enough I guess.

Revocation

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These guys  were probably the highlight of the night for me. I’ve never heard of them before which is a shame. They’re a death/thrash metal band that seemed to verge on grindcore, signed to Relapse records, home of a ton of great metal bands. Three guys, drum/bass/guitar, with both the guitar and bass guys doing (growled/screamed) vocals. This was a great break from the first two acts. Every song was fast, heavy and hella fun. There were a lot times that they reminded me of Pig Destroyer. They had great stage presence, often joking around between songs and just being all charismatic. I bought their latest CD entitled Existence is Futile to commend them.

EDIT: I’m pretty sure this is them at the very show I attended! I can’t see myself, but I should be right in front of the guitarist. Watch at MetalInjection.net

Secrets of the Moon

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Apparently these guys are from Germany, and this was their first time touring the US. It was pretty cool hearing the front man counting off in German for the sound check. They’re a pretty straight black metal band, not much gothic about them, drums/2 guitars/bass. Thankfully they steered away from the corpse paint like most other BM acts seem to be doing now. The music was ripping. One of the coolest bits for me was the fact that the bass player is a girl, and she seemed very into the music. Of course being into black metal shows itself differently than for other music. Very awesome altogether.

Divine Heresy

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Dino Cazares’ post-Fear Factory venture replaced Samael on the ticket for this show, I’m not sure if it’s a tour-long thing or what. These guys are really the reason I showed up. It was cool seeing Dino and Tim Yeung (the drummer) chatting it up with the guys in line before the doors opened. They’re quite decent fellows. The music of course was great, and it seemed most people in the audience knew all of the words. I knew at least a few, like Bleed the Fifth and some of Failed Creation. Really fun metalcore band.

Moonspell

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These guys seem to be a lot more popular than I would have thought. Pretty much everyone in the audience sang along to every one of their songs. Seems strange for a gothic black metal band from Portugal. Anyway, the show was entertaining if not entirely my thing, as more often that not the gothic part of their subgenre would rear its pathetic little head and bring down the heavy. Still, a lot of their act tore it up quite decently. They played two encores, which I’d rather they hadn’t really as I was pretty worn out by that point.

The venue, a place called Jaxx in Springfield VA, was pretty nice. It’s a small place, kind of a glorified bar, sitting in the middle of a small plaza next to an afghan restaurant or something. There was hardly any parking but I got there early enough to not have a problem. I was able to buy tickets upon entering, and got right to the front row and didn’t leave until the end. There were a few points where the crowd behind me pushed me against the bars hard enough to make me feel pain, but it was all part of the metal experience. Now I’m living with the aftereffects; a really sore neck and lots of buzzing in my ears. Still, I don’t regret it.

09 October 2009

Zombieland

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I saw this opening weekend, (last Sunday) so it’s not the freshest on my mind that it could be, but I feel the need to write about it, because it was good. Like, really good. Take the awesome-itude of the trailers and multiply by about π, and you’ll have a rough number to describe how awesome it is.

Zombieland is much less about zombies than most zombie movies. In this respect (and some others) it’s similar to Shaun of the Dead or perhaps a comedy version of The Walking Dead. TWD is going to be a TV series by the way! Kickass! Anyway, the focus of Zombieland is on the two characters pictured above and two other ones that are a little more minor. One of them is a minor, fancy that.

Unlike your average zombie flick, this isn’t a pick-off-the-protagonists-throughout-the-movie-and-then-end-violently movie. It’s a character/comedy movie, with lovable people and great visual tricks to enhance the plot devices. Yes, there are brains and blood, but they are used humorously rather than indiscriminately. Also there’s a great bit in the middle but it shall not be mentioned.

The great part that follows from being less about the zombies is that little attention is given to how the plague started, and you don’t spend half the film watching people on the screen making stupid mistakes in order learn that you have to shoot them in the head. All that time is devoted to things that we maybe haven’t seen before, or at least not quite in the same light.

All in all, very entertaining movie, one which I will probably see again before it leaves theaters. GO!

15 September 2009

Batman: Arkham Asylum


I played the PC demo for this game a while ago, and it was pretty cool. I'd been following the new on the game's development and whatnot for a while, and it had me excited. The demo didn't show much though, concentrating almost exclusively on the combat, which really doesn't paint a full picture.

So for this reason among others, I took advantage of the new PS3 pricing and got a Slim. I needed something to play on it, so I nabbed Arkham Asylum. The next few days outside of work were quite filled with the wonderful world of gaming through the eyes of the Dark Knight.

This game is great. I haven't played many Batman games; I think the only other one was Batman Returns on a Sega Nomad, which was pretty fun at the time, but I didn't play the whole thing. From what I've read every Batman game before Arkham has been pretty crappy. This time around, some major effort was put into adhering to and using the complex histories of the Batman universe, and making it a fun and beautiful experience. It's really quite amazing how much attention was given to even relatively minor characters, even if they don't technically appear in the game.

There are a number of different aspects of play to this game; combat (brawling or stealth), exploration, secret finding, riddle solving, skill leveling, and salivating over visuals and awesome voice acting. One thing that really helps the exploration and secrets bit is the complexity of the level design. Many locations within the main maps are inaccessible until certain skills are unlocked, which can be gotten through combat experience, riddle solving, or simple plot advancement. For this reason there is little need for a huge linear path like that of the Half Life games or whatever; you are really in Arkham Asylum. You can see where you want to go, but you can't go there yet! It really makes it a great feeling when you can finally break that wall.

As mentioned, the voice acting is spectacular, especially the talent brought by Mark Hamill, also known as Luke Skywalker. He voiced the clown prince on the animated TV series from the 90s, and he did a great job. Also brought in from that show are the voices of Batman and Harley Quinn, who are also great. Whoever did Edward Nigma's voice was good too.

The combat is really fun, especially the stealth stuff. I love hanging from ledges and roping up baddies upside-down. Brawling is cool too, with a combo system pretty simple in concept, but difficult to really execute perfectly without a lot of practice. There are unlockable challenge modes that help with this, although I didn't start those until I finished the storyline.

One technical issue I had with both the PC and PS3 versions is the visual quality. It's really quite pixelly, with pretty low anti-aliasing. I'm hopefully going to get a chance to play the full PC version very soon. Maybe they'll have added graphical controls to the settings (probably not).

EDIT: I just started playing the PC version, and they did everything right (well, almost). They hosted the free download on Steam for starters, which is great. The game launcher allows for full graphical control, even allowing for use of NVIDIA's PhysX technology. Since I now have high-end card (GTX 295) I was able to run everything on pretty much the highest setting, and it's absolutely beautiful. So much better than what I got out of the PS3. The only thing that I don't think is completely awesome is the use of Windows Live for achievements instead of Steam's, but it's not a big deal.

23 August 2009

District 9

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The first time I saw this movie I absolutely loved it. I saw it a second time tonight and I loved it just as much as the first time. This is probably the most believable sci-fi I’ve ever seen. The acting is brilliant, the dialogue (largely improvised) isn’t fake in the slightest, and the visuals are outstanding.

The coolest part of it I think is the pseudo-documentary style in which about half of it is filmed. It makes everything seem so real and part of the actual world. The South African setting is brilliant, and the accents really help to take the edge off of any leftover hints that this didn’t actually happen (at least for me, maybe not for South Africans). The docu-style eases off a lot during the second half due to the plot advancement, but it’s still wonderfully filmed and the composition of the CG elements is astounding.

One thing that is both a boon and a detriment to the film is that is based quite heavily on apartheid and real events that occurred in that area. The aliens (usually referred to as Prawn) take the place of black communities that were relocated against their will in order to maintain separation. This takes away a little of the originality of the film, but it also gives it great emotional backbone and adds a lot of power to the story.

It’s quite a violent movie. I’m entirely cool with that. I suppose I’ve been a bit desensitized to this sort of thing but it didn’t seem gruesome to the point of un-watch-ability by any means, and it was all just very impressive, especially the alien weapons (e.g. pig-throwing gun).

Much like a lot of my favorite movies and shows, a lot is left to speculation; like why did the aliens come to Earth, where are they from, etc. Some of these holes might be considered plot holes, but the speculation part can pretty much cover that. Exposition ruins things.

So yeah. Probably the best new movie I’ve seen this year.

22 August 2009

Inglourious Basterds

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It was long and sometimes entertaining.

That’s it I guess. To be honest I didn’t like it all that much. The action was pretty okay and it was nice to look at, but Tarantino’s tendency for epic dialogue scenes begun to bloat a bit too much. In previous films he’s put down some really snappy and interesting scripts that make you want to go back a watch again. This one just has lots and lots of pretty dreary expositional stuff peppered with a few moments of the usual brilliance. There wasn’t much in the way of characterization that I was hoping for; only a few of the characters were really interesting, maybe three. Most were just faces.

Brad Pitt did a pretty good job and got the most laughs. Mike Myer’s cameo was pretty pointless. I was hoping BJ Novak’s part would be fun to watch, but it really wasn’t.

If it had been pared down to two hours I guess it would have been alright, it just dragged a lot. Yeah that’s all I have to say about it.

 

EDIT: Ooh ooh I know why it wasn’t great, Sam Jackson wasn’t in it! Big mistake Quentin. Big mistake.

13 August 2009

The Goon

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The Goon is awesome. It is also a comic by Eric Powell, and the main protagonist thereof. I just read it. Well, most of it, since its still ongoing presumably. Also there’s gonna be a movie.

It’s a sort of mobster-noir thing with zombies and a lot of rather sick humor. The art is often stellar, and the stories can often be quite emotionally gripping. The amount of character in the characters is pretty great. The Goon himself is a hulking semi-superhuman with a thinly disguised moral compass and an emotionally torn past. His buddy Frank is a loud-mouth crazy weirdo with a lot of loyalty to his friend. Together they help defend a town from hordes of zombies (they call them “slack-jaws”) brought by a mysterious, nameless man that goes by The Priest. Other odd villains show up from time to time, usually with hilarious beatings resulting.

It’s not always funny. There is some serious emotional stuff too. One part of the story was written as a graphic novel called “Chinatown and the Mystery of Mister Wicker” which ties in with the general storyline while flashing back to a significant part of Goon’s past. There are no laughs in the entire book; it’s pretty heavy. One of the first pages is simply black with big nasty letters saying “This Ain’t Funny.”

Still, it’s all extremely entertaining and loads of fun. I’m most certainly looking forward to seeing the dreadful duo on the big screen.

27 July 2009

Six Feet Under

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So, I’ve gone from my longest watch straight to my proportionately shortest watch. This show has five seasons at 12 or 13 hour-long episodes each, and I’ve stayed up late and angered my parents by sitting around in my room in order to finish it in about nine days. I watched Breaking Bad’s first season  in pretty much a single seating, but that was just seven episodes. No big deal. The reason for that was that it was a fantastic show, and it holds true for this one as well.

Six Feet Under revolves around a family-owned funeral home somewhere in California. That is, it centers on the family and their relationships with each other and their friends/enemies/loves/etc. In fact, all of these traits are often present in the same person. Everyone in the show is flawed to varying degrees, which sometimes made it difficult for me to like them depending on the flaw. I guess a show this close to my pessimistic view of reality just makes me mad.

Of course, there are good times along with the bad, which makes it watchable. The actors is superb, the writing is great, and it doesn’t rely on cliff-hangers nearly as much as most other dramas I’ve seen. A pretty cool trick they use extensively is the dream sequence, which almost always includes a conversation with a deceased loved-one. It’ usually made obvious that it’s not some mystical communication with the dead; rather, it’s all in the mind of the dreamer and a product of their emotional state. These mind-ghosts are a great way to get inside the heads of the characters without crappy voiceovers or whatever. Sometimes they’re funny and sometimes they’re pretty horrifying, but they always get their point across.

Every character in the show can be analyzed to hell. If I had the inclination I could probably write essays on them for quite some time, but I definitely don’t. The common theme for them is a seemingly self-imposed spiral to destruction. Everyone makes bad decisions over and over. Usually everything looks great for a little while and then just goes to crap. Cue the next disaster cycle. Repeat until the sappy montage at the end of the series. It was good to have a positive resolution.

It was a good watch, and I’m glad I watched it. Now I’ll be quite happy to find something light-hearted to enjoy.

18 July 2009

Angel

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This one might take the cake as the show that took me the longest to watch (aside from those that I watched while they were still airing). I think I started it about a year ago, although the majority of that time was spent not watching it. The first and second seasons really didn’t make me want to keep going. That’s the thing with this series; unlike Buffy, which for me had a pretty much constant hook, this show started out mostly bland and later turned into a completely awesome piece of entertainment.

As has been observed by people more observant than I, Joss Whedon works best with a big cast of core characters. The show started out with just three, and then stuck with four for quite a while. It was really boring. By the end this number had pretty much doubled, although it changed pretty frequently. There were also more fringe characters who stepped in once in a while.

Of course, even with the big cast the show didn’t really step up until season 4, when it finally transitioned from an almost purely episodic feature to a cohesive storyline for most of the season. Watching episodes back to back is a lot more fun this way; I tend to think it would be even cooler week by week, with all the anticipation from cliffhangers and whatnot.

The final season is really where everything shone the brightest. There was another epic storyline (several really, they all just worked together) that made continuing the marathon Angel sessions fun, a bunch of sultry babes, and lots of really good acting and dialogue. Joss was able to contribute much more to the show since he had no other projects at the time, and it shows.

It’s really a shame the show was canceled; apparently it happened due to Joss’ impatience with WB’s bureaucratic BS. He called them up for an early renewal, putting them on the spot, which prompted them to get all pissy and moronic. No more Angel on the screen.

Thankfully (sort of) the stories for both Buffy and Angel are being continued in comic form. I’ve checked out some of them and have been very confused, but I figure I’ll give them another shot soon. I like comics.

16 July 2009

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

MonkeyIslandSpecial

A few years ago a friend of mine introduced me to The Curse of Monkey Island, the third game in the Monkey Island series of adventure games by LucasArts. It looked really fun, so I got a hold of the game and  have since played through it several times. A bit later I played the first game, The Secret of Monkey Island. It was very dated, as it was one of the first games LucasArts developed using their SCUMM engine; lots of chunky pixels and minimal sound. It was still quite fun, if maybe a little more difficult than number three.

Now, 19 years after the release of the cornerstone of this popular series, the classic has been given a new face. It’s still very much the same game, although the size in bytes has increased by a few factors of 10; new crisp artwork and sound overlays the original animation code to keep the feel of the game while making it seem much more current. The voices are the same as those in The Curse, which I’m pretty happy about.

The only difference in gameplay is the omission of the actions and inventory screens from normal play. In the original, they were always present, making interacting with the puzzles pretty easy, barring somewhat confusing pixels. Now you have to hit keys to bring up the two panes, although the actions can be accessed individually using keystrokes. Still, there is at least one point in the game that switching to the old interface (an awesome thing to be able to do) is pretty much necessary in order to solve a puzzle, since the new inventory screen always closes whenever you use an action on an item, no matter what. It’s a little annoying, but it makes room for the beautiful new art.

Even after playing it before, I still had to consult a walkthrough once in a while to get through it. Some of the solutions are just too clever for my feeble mind to conjure. Anyway, massive props to LucasArts for refreshing this classic. Go pick it up on the Steam platform  for a mere 10 smackers.

05 July 2009

Public Enemies

public-enemies-poster1

So. Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. Can’t go very wrong there, can you? Not really.

This is a good movie. It is not a great movie. There’s a good amount of tasty gun fighting and some rather odd romance, and Depp is a great character actor as usual. Bale plays his part well, although it’s something of a lame part most of the time. The story is based on truth as far as I know, so that’s pretty neat.

However. The thing most people seem to be focusing on, including myself, is the use of new digital cameras in the filming. It is extremely noticeable. The frame-rate is much higher (at least it seemed so) than usual, so everything looked very real. You’d think this would be a good thing, and it’s probably what the cinematographers were going for; but it takes something away from the movie. It loses some of the fluidity that motion-blur brings to the big screen. This, coupled with a lot of the increasingly popular shaky-cam technique gave the movie an almost soap-opera look. A few sudden transitions and a bit of nasty sound editing also detracted from the experience.

Again, it’s a good movie. It probably would have been better if it weren’t one of the first films to use this new technology and had the resources to make it look good.

I’m looking forward to seeing Depp in the new Gilliam movie The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, including the late-great Heath Ledger in his final role.

Trine

trine_screenshot_2009_06_thief_mines_shoot

Trine is a beautiful side-scrolling physics-based fantasy platformer puzzle game. Yeah, that’s a lot of adjectives, but that’s what it is. It feels a lot like Little Big Planet, although I can’t be sure since I’ve never played it. Being physics-based it has a lot of the same elements. Lots of see-saws and water-wheels all over the place. Another big part of the game is the significance of “Tri” in the name, which of course means three. You switch through three characters throughout the game, each with a separate and necessary skill-set. The one I used the most was the Thief, whose grappling hook helps a lot in getting around, and whose bow can eventually become a very powerful weapon. The next most useful character is the Wizard, who can move a lot of objects around with telekinesis and can also conjure up three different kinds of objects for getting around or kicking skeleton-ass. Finally, the Knight is your basic tank, although he dies pretty easily.

There are of course a variety of magical items scattered throughout the maps, and there is a rudimentary leveling system too. The game is pretty short so you don’t level that much, but each advance in levels brings some pretty cool new abilities and improvements. Getting to the items is often the most fun part of the game, as that’s where the trickiest puzzles come into play. You often need to use the Thief and the Wizard equally to solve them.

The only part I didn’t really enjoy was the finale, as it was one of those nasty rising-lava bits. Not a fan. Lots of dying. Still, it was a very fun and engrossing game over all. Thumbs up.

21 June 2009

iwrestledabearonce – It’s All Happening

Folder

This band is fun. Lots of people hate them, and a bunch of people, including me, like them. The reason they are maligned is they don’t give a shit about those people. Their image tends to group them into the “uncool” kiddy-metalcore scene, which the tr00 metalers can’t stand. They also don’t stick to the 100% evil requirement of metal, so they suck.

I don’t think they suck, at least not most of the time. I suppose they primarily fit into the metalcore genre. However, they cram in stuff from the electronic scene, 80s pop, grindcore, and technical death metal. Not all that different in concept from the insane Japanese group Maximum the Hormone; just a bit more leaning toward the metal side. Also, all the vocals are done by a girl. Not a common thing in this kind of music. She’s pretty impressive most of the time. A little bit of the clean singing falls flat once in a while, but she does a great job on the grunts.

Their tagline is “Metal just got gay!” I don’t think this has anything to do with homosexuality, just the attitude; it’s not evil metal, it’s fun metal. Chaotic pummeling with interludes of cheesy pop. They have awesome track titles too, like “Tastes Like Kevin Bacon,” and “See You in Shell.”

Anyway, this album isn’t as good as their self-titled EP from last year, but it’s still quite enjoyable. Enjoyable enough that I actually bought it when I saw it on the shelf at Best Buy today. I’m gonna be rockin’ it in my new car tomorrow. Check it out if you don’t give a crap.

14 June 2009

Mass Effect

wallpaper_mass_effect

I don’t think I’ve ever played a real RPG, and this is about as close as I’ve ever gotten. Bioshock is probably the next closest thing. However, just from this experience, I have confirmed my suspicions that a MMORPG or its ilk would completely destroy my life.

Mass Effect is mostly boring. There is lots of lame dialog exposing the seemingly massive collection of lore the studio dreamed up, and quite a bit of time is spent just getting from point A to point B, although I guess that can be fun sometimes. However, the RPG elements of self-improvement and decisions affecting your development seem to drag me in like a freakin’ Sarlaac. It could have something to do with the promise of hot blue alien sex, which was actually pretty disappointing.

I chose the Sentinel class, which turned out to be kinda lame; the only gun you can use with any accuracy is the pistol, and relying on “biotics” for all your combat doesn’t really work. I still managed to kick a lot of ass though. I seem to enjoy inventory management.

I had a few technical problems with the game; at one point a boss threw me off the map, and I just started floating around, unable to even access the save/load dialog. Also a few times throughout the game my gun would overheat and not cool down, forcing a save and reload, which can only be done in non-combat situations, requiring retreats. It even happened on the final boss, with no option of retreat. Thankfully I was able to avoid the overheating by waiting around a while before shooting. It still sucked though. These problems might have been fixed in a patch; I didn’t have any patches.

So, this game is really addicting despite the lame story and often boring mechanics. I stayed up until 7:30 AM last night playing this crap, and then spent most of today finishing it off. I will never play WoW.

08 June 2009

Deathspell Omega - Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum

Folder

"Divine law - Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire!"

Another black metal review. This album is from 2007, so it’s not breaking news or anything, but I was reminded of it a little while ago and remembered how awesome it is. Also, I haven’t reviewed anything from this fantastic band yet, which somehow seems wrong.

Deathspell Omega are a secretive group of metaphysical musicians with burning-church-loads of talent. They started out as an orthodox (i.e. lo-fi and rather crappy) black metal band out of France. Then a few years ago they started making good music, most notably with the most excellent three-track EP Kénôse. It was filled with avant-garde churnings of brutality, chaos, and somber ambience that left the listener dazed and amazed. Two years later, this album was released with a similar sound in 46 minutes of chaotic glory.

This is by no means orthodox BM. It’s dynamic as any classical composition. There isn’t very much structure to follow, but it flows very nicely when it isn’t tearing from one section to another and ripping your ears out (in a very good way). The vocals are top-notch for the genre, very much like the angry barking of some vicious dog. I don’t know what any of the lyrics are, but I’ve heard they are quite intelligent and philosophical, of course including the satanic themes ever-present in this kind of music. The title is actually a Latin translation of a line from the biblical book of Matthew, which is pretty neat.

Anyhow, the music is just too great. I’m generally not good at descriptions so I don’t think I’ll go any farther with it; instead, check out the opening track for a taste.

03 June 2009

A Nothing Post from netbook land

I just got an Asus EEEPC and holy junk it's hard to type on this thing. There will be no more typing corrections past this sentence. I'm writing this post using WIndows Livce Writer because it was insalled by defaulkt on the machine , and I felkt likt etring it out. It seems pretty nice I guess, but I don't think it[s much better than using the bklogger interface,. I'm voing rto try putting in an image.

Devin Townsend

Seemsto work alrighyt. Maybe it is a little nicer; I guess I[ll leave it instlled for bnow,,. Bigday tomorrow, going to Virginia for an interviewwith Lockheed Martin. Wish meuck, dudes!

--edit--

Just installed Windows Live Writer on my desktop, as I’m actually a bit impressed with it. All you crazy bloggers can check it out here if you want. I’m not currently using any other Live software, but this is pretty nice. Kudos, MS.

30 May 2009

Devin Townsend Project - Ki


"Hevy Devy" has been one of my favorite artists for around 5 years now. I'm a big fan of both his heavy work in Strapping Young Lad and his usually mellower solo work under various other monikers. The albums City and Terria are definitely in or around my top 10 albums ever. Devin puts everything he has into his music; after recording the album Alien, he committed himself to a mental institution because it screwed him up so much. Of course, a lot of his recent work has been a bit rushed in order to get out of constrictive record deals and touring, and the music has suffered a bit (see Synchestra and The New Black). Now that he's out of all that business, he has been free to spend as much time as he wants, the way he wants, on his music. His first effort in this new musical world was The Hummer, an ambient record that didn't really grab me much, as it really is quite ambient indeed; pretty good for falling asleep, but not much else. Then there was Ziltoid The Omniscient, which while funny, wasn't very lasting.

And now after what Devin has said has been the longest formulation since the excellent Ocean Machine, he has released Ki. Ki is the first of four records to be potentially released this year under the Devin Townsend Project name, all of which will be made with different people (aside from Devin of course). This first album is probably the most dynamic thing he's ever done. It goes from simple laid-back rock to full-blown death metal sound in the space of a few seconds, and then back again in even less time. The mellow parts are beautiful and catchy, and the heavy bits are devestating. The track Heaven Send is a perfect example of this dynamism, and has the added benefit of some beautiful female vocals. Devin has employed some great musicians for this one, the seemingly oddest being one Duris Maxwell, an old-timer session drummer with a long and storied musical history. His style is much different from Devin's other drummers like Gene Hoglan and Ryan Poederooyen with their bombastic metal styles; Duris is a laid back Ringo style drummer. Solid as a rock. The resulting music is just fantastic.

Here's a youtube of Heaven Send, I don't know how long it'll be around, although Devin is very supportive of people sharing his music.


All told, Ki has become my favorite of anything Devin has put out so far. This is finally what he really wants to do, and it shows.

23 May 2009

Star Trek '09


I've never been as big of a Trek fan as much as I am a Star Wars fanatic, but I have fond memories of a few episodes of the original series borrowed from our local library. They were really funny, often intelligent, and had loads of corny monsters and sentient dust-clouds in space. Spock was my hero. I can't do the eyebrow raise, but I've been able to salute in Vulcan style for a long time.

JJ Abrams seems to have been a fan of the show for quite a while, and managed to put forth a largely similar feel to the original series, if not nearly as cheesy. This is a much more polished film than any Trek previous, even the TNG movies I think. Some of those were good though, like First Contact, a favorite of mine. There are a lot of explosions and black holes and angry people; but the the humor is still a major part of it, especially around Kirk and Scotty. I can't say I was the biggest fan of the Kirk guy, but all of the other characters were fun. They did a fantastic job with Checkov especially; I really liked the computer failing to recognize his pronunciation as valid commands.

Leonard Nimoy had a much larger role than I expected, which was cool. However it's just not quite the same when he's not acting like the old Spock with all his logical detachment, which I suppose Zachary Quinto did a pretty good job of portraying. He's just a little bit too much of a pretty-boy for the role I think. Overall, pretty much everyone did a great job. It was a very fun movie.

20 May 2009

Chuck

I tried watching Chuck when it first came out a year or so ago. I'm pretty sure I was going through The Wire at the time, and for that reason I wasn't very impressed. It all seemed very plastic and insincere; of course, that's kinda the point with this sort of comedy. So I decided to give it another shot a week or two ago. It was a fun watch.

I'm going to skip the plot summary because it doesn't matter much. Suffice to say that it centers around a so-called nerd named chuck who has fallen into a stressful life with two government agents, one of them a smoking-hot babe (pictured above in wonderfully nerdy attire) and the other the guy who played Jayne in Firefly. He also has some crazy and entirely unlikely image-recognition matrix thing in his head that only does anything when he sees certain people things, usually kicking off the plot of each episode. Hm. Well I guess that was a plot summary, oh well.

So the show is fun. There are lots of very pretty ladies, awkward moments, bits of subtle nerd humor, and a fair amount of action. It's predictable but entertaining. Compared to The Wire, as I was doing last time, it's a mud puddle; but what isn't?

07 May 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine


This post will cover the movie and the game, because I watched/played them very close together, and I think the comparison will make interesting writing, if not reading.

So yeah. I saw the movie a few days ago. Before the reviews starting coming in I had had relatively high hopes for it because it seemed that it would be at least partially based on the Wolverine: Origin one-shot comic book. I did hear some troubling rumors about some Deadpool raping which didn't sound very nice. Almost every review I came across was quite negative; but I still held out a little hope that it might not suck total balls.

Too bad.

Okay, it wasn't X-Men 3. It was often entertaining. However, it was quite poorly constructed. There wasn't much plot, the CG was horrible, and they didn't do Deadpool right, dammit. I've recently become quite a fan of the guy and wanted to see some of his crazy antics on screen. We got maybe two lines from the lame-ass actor that might be construed as funny. There was supposedly an extra scene at the end that remedied it a little but I didn't feel like sticking around past the credits. Anyway, the CG really was bad. The claws almost didn't even look raytraced. Xavier looked completely plastic in his 2-second scene. Also, adamantium bullets? What the hell, man? I guess they make a little sense, but seriously. The Origin comic tie-ins were pathetic. Instead of making me all emotional they simply prompted laughter. Jackman did an okay job for the most part though.

It really should have been an R-film. Then it might have been more like the game, which was hella fun. SO MUCH BLOOD. You jump on fricken' helicopters and pull the dudes out and stick their heads in the rotor blades. METAL. Deadpool was even lamer than in the movie, but I forgive them I guess. It was just so much fun leaping all over the place and cutting dudes into pieces. Overall it was a pretty easy game. Heck, I beat it in on normal in about 2 days. The finale with Deadpool was a bit trying. The guy shouldn't have laser eyes. It's cheap.

The game almost came up with a better reason for Wolverine's memory loss, but then decided to screw that and do the same thing the movie did. Lame sauce.

So, now that I've finished the game I think I'm going to install Windows 7 RC1 to fix my crappy computer and its annoying shared memory freeze-ups. Whoop-dee-doo. This has been a highly un-professional seat-of-the-pants "review" of the current Wolverine franchise, thank you for reading, you bastards.

25 April 2009

Bone

I've seen this book recommended on forums and I've also been told to read it by friends, but what info I could find on it didn't really make me want to. I think the main thing was the image shown on the wikipedia page, which doesn't show much aside from the lighter side of the comic. I've grown accustomed to human characters, and these blobby white dudes didn't interest me much; too simplistic. However, this image is pretty deceiving; there is a lot of darkness and non-kiddy (I don't want to say adult) intelligence and humor.

The main thing I liked is the tone; it's been a long time since I read something that could really be a children's story, and this had just the right amount of silliness mixed with seriousness to make it enjoyable. It made me feel the way I did when I read The Hobbit, and the few Tintin comics I got somehow. There is a lot of cutesy art and such, but it doesn't make it any less enjoyable.

I read the color version, and it was very pleasant to look at. I love that thick edge style for some reason too. Anyway, as for a summary of the plot, read just about any fantasy novel and you have the basic premise. There's a deposed queen, a fairy princess, dragons, epic battles, and quaint town-folk. Smith pokes fun at some of the more formulaic bits, which makes it a lot more fun. It isn't a simple story though, really; it gets pretty in-depth with lore and such. Really interesting stuff really.

Anyway, I highly recommend reading it. It's pretty long though.

05 April 2009

Flight of the Conchords

I didn't know much about this show until I started watching it a week or two ago. All I knew was that it had something to do with music, and I assumed it was a sort of a "hipster show." I suppose it kind of is, but it's more of a ridiculous comedy than that. It reminds me of The Office in a number of ways; mostly because the characters are rather oblivious to the world, not unlike Michael Scott. There's also a lot of awkwardness.

As I correctly assumed, music is a big part of the show. Every episode has at least one off-kilter music video that somehow ties into the story, but doesn't actually seem to happen in the actual world of the show; it's just something we, the viewer, get to see and hear. The style of the music is really quite varied. The mainstay is of course a sort of indie-rock sort of sound, but they also hit electro, kraut rock, dance, and a bunch of others (I can't really remember. This list was supposed to be longer.) Anyway, it's fun music with absurd lyrics. Apparently the first season's tunes were all songs they had written previously and had performed before, while the second season used new songs written specifically for the show. Personally I thought they were of a higher quality than those of the first season.

The other big part is the comedy, mostly centering around Bret and Jemain's romantic and social foibles, along with their failing attempts to promote their band. Their incompetent manager Murray and his faithful underling Greg bring in some good laughs, while their cute but scary stalker Mel always seems to bring the awkwardness to new levels. Eugene Mirman seemingly plays himself as the landlord, something that might have made me watch the show sooner if I'd known. That guy is funny. Maybe not so much in this show, but he had a few moments.

Overall it was a fun viewing. Nothing earth-shattering or anything, but a nice little distraction. Kinda makes me want to move to New Zealand someday.

07 March 2009

Watchmen (Film)


Adapting the most highly acclaimed graphic novel of all time is a rather daunting thing. Zack Snyder has already proved himself with 300, showing that he can be very faithful to the source and put out an entertaining film. The problem with 300 was Frank Miller wrote it, and mostly for that reason it was a hollow straight-forward sex/violence fest. Snyder was faithful to that, and a lot of people loved him for it. Watchmen is not hollow in any sense of the word, and I'm not sure Snyder did the greatest job transferring that substance to the screen, but you can definitely tell he made an effort, and I think what came out of it satisfied my expectations.

The sad fact is that no matter how faithful an adaptation it is, the hardcore fanboys are already nitpicking it to death. Yes, there are a few minor details (and one rather large and squishy one) that were removed or changed, but not resulting in any major derailing from the spirit of the graphic novel. This, like 300 and Sin City is very obviously based on one; the visuals are beautifully stylized with a similar color scheme to the source, many frames are directly modeled on panels from the comic, and the delivery of the actors' lines don't sound like anything anyone would actually say in real life; they sound like they were read from the pages of Alan Moore's genius story.

As a movie in itself, I don't think I can give an objective assessment. My gut feeling is that it is largely too confusing to be appealing to most new audiences, and I've been reading quite a few one-line reviews citing the lack of non-stop action. I thought there was just enough action, and I was actually surprised at the brutality of it all. This is very much an R-rated film, and I love it for that. It's good violence too. There is one scene in particular that is very reminiscent of a certain scene from the Korean masterpiece Oldboy, although it doesn't quite hit the same genius level of cinematography.

I don't really want to nitpick, but I think some of the music selections (while great in themselves) might not have fit as well in context as Snyder or whoever had hoped they would. Most people who've seen it seem to agree with me here. Still, altogether it sounded pretty powerful.

Of course the most important part of the movie is Rorschach, and he was perfect. For that reason it gets 5/5 from me. Go watch it, just don't bring your kids. Or your mom, probably.

24 February 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


This movie won three Oscars the other night: Visual Effects, Makeup, and Art Direction. I don't think it deserved any of those, let alone the nominations. Of course it's obvious to pretty much everyone that the Academy doesn't award Oscars based on merit; it's all a political puddle of slime. Ben Button is a movie formulated to win an Oscar. It has all the marks of a winner; lots of heart-warming moments, little in the way of substance, and a bunch of pretty people engaging in wrenching romantic foibles.

As you probably know, the story revolves around Benjamin Button and his highly unlikely predicament of aging backwards. This of course brings all sorts of emotional stress to the table as most of his friends get older and die while he gets younger. Goody goody. Of course there's a girl who he's destined to love in a star-crossed sort of way. Blah blah, you get the picture. There have been comparisons made to the storyline of Forrest Gump, and I do not disagree with them in the slightest. It's actually pretty shameless how much of the formula they've lifted for this thing.

Thankfully it didn't win Best Picture, although it was nominated. Having just seen it today I am very very glad that it didn't win, and I'm actually a little appalled that it made it that far. I guess you could say that it deserved the awards it did win; however, it won Visual Effects for the CG head plastered on little old Ben in the early parts of the film, and I think it looked horrible. The baby looked like some sort of rubber Buddha doll or something, not believable in the slightest. Coupled with the crappy delivery of crappy lines in crappy fake accents, the CG head was laughable. Sure, I'm sure it took a lot of work to get it to look as real as it did, but I think it sucked.

Perhaps my biggest complaint with the film was the voice acting. The only believable voice in the whole movie was Daisy's daughter, staying by her side as she belted her horrendous old-lady narration. The daughter sounded like a real person; I guess that's because she wasn't constrained by a fake accent. Everyone else looked like a bunch of floating heads with words floating through them to the listener.

I liked some of it, but every time a smile creeped onto my face it was dashed by the sheer fluff and fakeness of it all that would always rise up afterwards. It's overlong and pointless. Watch it if you want to waste two and a half hours.

18 February 2009

Dead Space

I got this a while ago, started it, and gave up when my computer crashed. I've since discovered that the constant crashing was most likely due to a faulty stick of RAM which has been replaced; so I started back up on this game and it went just swimmingly, aside from the jarring atmosphere.

That's what this game is all about; screwing with your head until you're jumping in your seat every 5 minutes. It's a combination of sound, light (dark), and a lot of grisly imagery that makes it the scariest game I've ever played. Granted I haven't played many scary games. I started Doom 3 a little before this one and gave up because I didn't seem to like it much; the graphics were a little dated already. Dang I'm loving these semicolons. I haven't touched Silent Hill. I've only played the demo for F.E.A.R. 2, and I don't think I went all the way through. That was an experience though... I think it might rival Dead Space in the jolting aspect. Bioshock was a little creepy, but nothing like this.

There are a bunch of documentaries on youtube and other places about what the designers came up with for the fear aspect. A couple things they stressed were the lighting being similar to dentist lights, and the sound being emitted by baddies in a "fear radius." I think that's pretty cool. A lot of the sounds are timed to hit you at just the right moment to make you jump, and it usually succeeded with me.

As for the story, it was pretty neat. There was a bunch of religious and political background written up and given to you in doses to make the situations make sense. It kind of reminds me of Dune in respect to the religious-political stuff, how it's all connected. The end was a bit predictable though.

The gameplay was okay. Movement is a little stiff; I guess it makes sense since you're in some sort of armored suit the whole time. The weapons were cool. I really liked the first gun, the plasma something-or-other that allows you to switch between vertical and horizontal slicing for more convenient amputation of enemy limbs. The stasis and kinesis modules also made for some interesting situations, although I think I underused the stasis module.

I went through the game in a constant mixed state of dread and anticipation; I think the dread made it a little less enjoyable, but more of a real experience.

01 February 2009

WE3


WE3 is a combination of Milo & Otis and Robocop. Pairings like that can't be anything but brilliant. It tells the story of three domestic animals (a dog, a cat, and a rabbit) who have been hooked up to armored attack suits and cyborg technology, and their version of The Incredible Journey. It's very much a tirade against animal cruelty.

In no way is this a soft and fluffy story like the two animal movies I mentioned. It's even more brutal than Robocop. There is some major gore and violence; pet lovers should be warned that it doesn't hold anything back. That said, it's some of the most emotionally affecting imagery I've come across in the comic book world. I literally shed tears a few times. I'm not going vegan or anything, but hell.

It's also very intelligent. I remember all those stupid animal movies for kids where the pets would talk; they do the same here, but it's believable and remarkably well done. The art is completely fantastic and original.

It's short and sweet. I recommend checking it out sometime. I seem to recall hearing it's going to be made into a movie; I really don't see how that's possible, but I'd watch it if it were.

23 January 2009

House


This show has been on my to-watch list for quite a while. I recently saw this webcomic by the talented KC Green, and it finally got me to start trying the show out. So far I've gotten through  the first season and a couple of episodes from the second.

It's a pretty formulaic show; this guy House is a genius with attitude problems who loves fixing patients with weird diseases. At the start of every episode, the patient is introduced getting some nasty symptoms, and then House and his crew get ahold of him or her. They then spend about three quarters of the show screwing everything up with incorrect diagnoses, and then House has a lightbulb explode in his head while examining some inconsequential patient and fixes everything. As of yet no patient has died, but I'm told that will happen at some point.

House himself is of course the most interesting part of the show. His acting is very good, and his psychological/physical problems make for some entertaining empathy. The rest of the cast is usually pretty bland with a few shining moments here and there. For some reason though, this show is addicting as freeze-pops, and it supposedly gets even better. It's gonna be a fun ride.

It's not lupus.

02 January 2009

The Walking Dead


Zombies are always fun. I'm not all that knowledgeable on the classic zombie, and I haven't seen all the major movies, but I usually enjoy anything having to do with them. This is no exception.

The Walking Dead is an ongoing comic series dealing with a bunch of people trying to survive a zombie-infested apocalypse. It started in 2003, and a new comic is put out pretty much every month. I just started reading a few days ago and I'm all caught up, now issue 56. It's been quite a read.

This comic isn't great just because it's a zombie rag; no, it's much more than that. It's a an essay on the human condition. Of course I might just be talking out of my ass there. I don't really know anything about the human condition apart from what I've seen in various (mostly fictional) media. Anyway I think that's why it's so gripping. It has a realism not found in any other undead drama. Anyone can die, not just the red-shirts. Sure; they drop like flies, but the well-developed characters can get the axe just about as easily. People go insane, there are sadistic dictators serial killers, inner turmoil to the max, and lots of really cool gore scenes.

The zombies are in the Romero style as far as I can tell; I haven't seen much Romero. They're slow, mostly brainless, and have a taste for living flesh. It doesn't seem restricted to humans though; some animals are tragically torn apart from time to time. Gruesome stuff.

The characters are great. This Robert Kirkman dude is a fantastic writer. I wouldn't say he quite hits Moore levels but gosh darnit he's good.

Once again my writing capacity is severely lacking. I blame school. CURSES!