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 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.