25 April 2010

How to Train Your Dragon


It got good reviews and has Craig Ferguson in it. I had to watch it.

I gathered from said reviews that it was a bit better than most kid movies of today, and it is, kinda. It has dragons in it for one thing. Sometimes they even look cool. The humor isn’t always watered-down for the little ones. I’m sure it’s quite awesome in 3D (I watched it in 2D. I don’t like wearing those glasses or paying the extra bucks).

The story is of a young Viking who doesn’t seem to be shaping up to be a good Viking. He’s special. Just like all you wonderful kids. His widower dad is blind to his specialness and is shamed to have such a weakling son, who of course becomes a hero by the end because of his wonderful specialness, saving the stupid adults from their always stupid ways. Great message.

Anyway, you’ve got the usual group of stereotypical kids providing a foil to the protagonist kid, belching the usual lines. They might’ve been the most annoying part of the movie for me. Them and the protagonist’s extreme ease in “training” the dragons as the story progresses. Instant domestication! Yay! There’s got to be a better way to do that. I guess it’s just my cynical self no longer able to embrace the simplified child-view that’s always been present in entertainment for young folk. It’s all just gotten so cliché.

There were funny bits that made it watchable, but really, I don’t think I’m a kid anymore.

16 April 2010



One of the biggest news-items for this movie so far has been that Roger Ebert thinks we’re all horrible people for liking it. I guess I’m a horrible person.

It’s an adaptation of a short comic series that satirically examines what a real super-hero/vigilante story would be like as opposed to how it’s displayed in most popular comics. The movie maintains this satire extremely well, and keeps it hilarious while keeping the brutality high and often somewhat unbearable, which is the point that Roger seems to be ignoring somewhat. His gripe focuses on the portrayal of a young girl killing people and getting pretty badly beaten. At times it seems this performance is supposed to be a glorification of violence, but throughout it all there is also a sense of wrongness to her situation. I don’t think there are going to be any copycats. I just hope there is a minimum of stupid parents bringing their five-year olds to see this.

Although it does get very intensely violent, a lot of the time it’s done in such a way that it’s hilarious. I won’t describe any because it would spoil them, but it suffices to say that microwaves can be awesome. Aside from the violence, there’s plenty of great teen comedy, with tons of relatable situations and awkward moments. Oddly enough though, the famous McLovin doesn’t have much of a role in this capacity; his performance is still pretty great.

As an adaptation, it’s excellent. It doesn’t follow the plot exactly, and you can’t really do a frame-by-frame comparison like with Watchmen, but the majority is spot on and the atmosphere is perfect. I had a big ol’ grin through all of the comedy bits and most of the action scenes. Like I said though, it does get pretty crazy-brutal at some points. Definitely a hard R.

Chloe Moretz, the girl in Ebert’s question, is going to play Eli (or whatever her name is now) in Let Me In, the American adaptation of the same book on which Let the Right One In is based. Before I saw Kick-Ass I didn’t think she’d really fit the role. Now I think she might. Maybe.

Oh yeah, Craig Ferguson, my new favorite late-show host, had a pretty awesome cameo as himself. Great fun.

07 April 2010

God of War II


The second game in the series (I think it’s just a trilogy, but you never know), this game picks up with Kratos as a sulky God of War after defeating Ares in the first one. He’s a bad boy so the gods decide he’s not worth keeping around anymore. After playing with part of his godly powers removed for the intro, the rest are drained and we’re back to square one. Once again there’s an escape from Hades (much shorter this time though) and then Kratos decides to kill Zeus, and the fun commences.

It’s a pretty cool story with a bit of a Star Wars twist near the end and something of a cliffhanger ending setting up the third installment. Getting to the end is a fun journey of game-play very reminiscent of the first game while fixing a lot of the big problems and being a little less frustrating. The worst part of the first game was a few brutally difficult puzzles and obstacles. There are one or two in this one, but they were much less frustrating, and took about a third as many tries to get through them. The combat seemed a little easier too on normal difficulty. The bosses are more plentiful and interesting, and there are several new game mechanics such as flying/gliding, blocking/returning ranged attacks, and multiple sub-weapons instead of just one. It was prettier most of the time as well.

I had a few gripes. Sometimes lining up to flip a switch in a puzzle can be a little difficult, which makes timed puzzles all that much more trying. I still hate quick-time events, and there were a lot of those. A few times a failed quick-time button makes you go through a somewhat lengthy series of events before you can attempt it again. Bleh.

Altogether though it was more fun. I enjoyed playing it. Now I’m pretty pumped to play part III with its sexy PS3 graphics and purportedly massive blood-baths. It might be a while though as I’m on a bit of a spending freeze at the moment. Sucks.