Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Top 10 Favorite NES Games

The title says it all. Note: If this article starts screwing up, just blow into the cartridge and try again.

10. Bionic Commando

I had actually completely forgotten about this game until a couple of years ago when I heard the theme music somewhere and I so flooded by memories that I was physically unable to jump for weeks. If you haven't played it, the Bionic Commando is single handedly fighting "Nazis" with an extendo arm he uses to swing around because he can't jump. Because this was a platformer, you relied heavily on this grappling hook to get around. It involved a lot of trial and error and planning trajectories which spoke to my obsessive nature. There was a time in my life when I played this game non-stop, back when I was too young to realize that the mechanics were frustrating and any hero who can't just is a stupid lame wad.
You heard me, Professor.

They tried to reboot this title recently, but it was not
very successful. I may have really liked this game 20 years ago, but I doubt it really stands the test of time.

9. Rampart

This was the first strategy game I ever played. Before there was Starcraft or Age of Empires there was Rampart. You picked a spot, and a square castle was formed. Then you placed cannons and traded shots with boats that looked like turds. Then you were given limited time to rebuild and expand your castle using tetris pieces, aaaaand repeat. The more "bases" you surrounded the more powerful you became. You could also fight against other castles. Watching the video of the game play makes me wonder what I loved so much about this game. It was a simpler time when points mattered and my imagination wasn't crippled.
Pictured: Epic awesomeness (apparently)

8. (Mike Tyson's) Punch Out

I can honestly say that this game remains the best boxing game I have ever played. You've probably guessed I haven't played any others, not even the recent remake. This game was fun but difficult. You played the horribly outmatched Little Mac taking on one bruiser after another. Like most boss battles of the time it was a matter of recognizing patterns and waiting for the right time to strike. Luckily the opponents were mostly incredible racial stereotypes and therefore, easy to read. You had the Russian Soda Popinski (formerly Vodka Drunkenski), the Indian Great Tiger, and the effeminate Frenchman Glass Joe. They all had their own tells and weak spots and you had to work your way through them to get to the one and only Mike Tyson (later changed to Mr. Dream) who, incidentally, was friggen impossible to beat.
How the fuck did you do that?

7. Blades of Steel

This was an awesome hockey game, mainly because you could fight. The game itself was fun, but it was really the fights you were waiting for. The greatest thing about the fights was that only the loser was penalized. Of course that sucked if you lost, but as long as you just kept pounding that B button, you were usually fine. The NHL would be a lot cooler if it worked like this.

6. Jackal

Like most games, this game was a lot more fun when played with a friend. Either way this game was made of pure awesome. You controlled a jeep which you viewed from an aerial view, rampaging through some unnamed warzone in search of POWs. You had unlimited machine gun bullets and grenades with which to devastate the enemy. A really fun thing to do was to run over any soldiers stupid enough to be attacking you on foot. Of course, they occasionally got off a final bullet which would utterly destroy your jeep. The boss battles were fun, though the size difference was a bit ridiculous if you thought about how it would look in reality. Luckily I was 10, and never did that.
OMG! Your turret is bigger than my whole fucking jeep!
(That's what she said!)

5. Contra

What can I say about Contra that hasn't been said before? It was pure unadulterated badassery! You and a friend (if you were lucky enough to have one) just run through level after level with unlimited ammo gunning down anyone stupid enough to try and stop you. Occasionally a flying letter would show up to give you a temporary power up which would make you even more deadlier. Maybe I sucked but I have to wonder if anyone ever beat the game without using the 30 lives cheat, it was an extremely tough game.
Especially this part!

4. Mega Man (?)

Yeah there's a question mark there. I played a lot of Mega Man in my day, but I honestly can't differentiate between the sequels. I know they improved the controls as the series progressed, as well as added a robot dog (and honestly, who doesn't want a robot dog?), but they all pretty much played the same. Some evil doctor makes a bunch of evil robots with cool themes that Mega Man wants to steal. Maybe I should do some research but I really don't care. If it's really bugging you I'll ask my wife to choose a number from 1 to 6. Here goes: She picked four! My favorite Mega Man game was Mega Man 4. Makes sense, this is the sequel that introduced the "Mega Buster". It also had Toad Man and Pharaoh Man. Unfortunately it didn't have these guys:

3. Bubble Bobble

This game wins points for having the weirdest plot, the most repetitive music, and the most frustrating game play while still being unbelievably addictive and fun. The story is something about two baby dragons (who blow bubbles instead of breathing fire) who have to travel through an endless cave of monsters to save their parents. Wait, I just checked wikipedia and it turns out they were trying to save their girlfriends. I guess they weren't babies after all. Wow, I have been so wrong all these years! It just goes to show how little the plot actually factors into the game. Basically you go from stage to stage trying to trap monsters in bubbles and pop them. When you successfully pop a baddie, it turns into a treat. In fact, treats spring up all over the place. Incidentally, the more unhealthy the treat, the more points you get. Thus, Weight Watchers was born. The scary part was, if you took too long to finish a level, an unkillable flying whale skeleton would show up and stalk you relentlessly. Scary stuff right there. I recently got the chance to play this game again and it remains one of the few NES games that I can get right back into despite my addiction to high definition explosions. I'm sure I had some chemical assistance, but that seems strangely appropriate:
The final boss does shoot bottles of moonshine, after all.

2. Legend of Zelda

There's no other way to put it, this game was epic. The legacy it created says it all. The world and characters that were introduced here have lasted for decades. Looking at the graphics now doesn't do it any favors, but back then it created a huge world full of diverse landscapes, scary monsters, and beautiful princesses. You were Link on an quest to save the world, though it could be argued that he was really only in it to get laid (or at least to second base). This was one of the first games that I got really engrossed in. It told such a large tale that I had never seen before. To be honest, I haven't really played any Zelda games since. They all look good, but in a world where games can take up way too much of your time, I can't afford to get sucked back in.
Pictured: The true evolution of man

1. Super Mario Bros. 3

You knew Mario was going to be in this spot. Honestly, both of the other Super Mario Bros. games could be on this list, but I don't want to give Mario the satisfaction. The first game was easily the first great platformer, the second one was a lot of fun even if it made no friggen sense, but the third one was the one where they really got it right. I cant even articulate everything I loved about this game so I'm just going to list a bunch of stuff that comes to mind right now:
The hub world, the leaf that helped you fly, Bowser's kids, you could carry shells, you could sneak "behind the scenes", the frog suit, the giant fish that could swallow you, the tanooki suit, the hammer suit, the hammer brother that stalked hub world, mama goomba with babies, the kings were transformed into weird stuff, the warp whistle , the p-wing, giant world, the boot you could jump around in, the mini-game mushroom houses, and the moles that throw wrenches, just to name a few. As much as I hate to give Mario another reason to think he's the bigger than Jesus, I have to admit Super Mario Bros. 3 is probably the best NES game ever.
Enjoy it while it lasts, you smug son of a bitch!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Megamind: Some Quick Thoughts

Megamind is the new animated feature from Dreamworks, a smart superhero spoof where the villain is the main character. If you were bothered in any way by The Incredibles borrowing from the Fantastic Four, than brace yourself for Megamind, cause from just the opening credits it more than just borrows from Superman mythos.
Say what?!

In fact there is no getting around it. Brad Pitt's Metroman is Superman while Tina Fey's Roxanne Ritchi is Lois Lane. Though Will Ferrell's MegaMind is a bald super genius who squanders his gifts on a pointless obsession with defeating the super hero, he turns out to be a more sympathetic character than Lex Luthor. In fact, MegaMind reminds me a lot of Peter Parker, only without a kindly old uncle he learns amazing life lessons from, and inadvertently kills. Megamind is a nerdy outcast who resorts to villainy not because he's really evil, but because it's the only way for him to get attention. It becomes his role to be the enemy of the hero, but when he actually succeeds, he finds himself reevaluating what his life is all about. It's Jonah Hill's Tighten who, while being reminiscent to Jimmy Olsen, shows a much more real and scary type of villainy: lazy, selfish, and entitled with way too much power. The themes in this movie are pretty obvious and heavy handed. While it does have some fantastic sequences and some interesting ideas, it is a pretty predictable story. I'm sure you can probably guess how it ends, but it is fun getting there. The animation is fantastic, of course, and the voice acting is all top notch. I should mention David Cross' Minion just because he has some great lines and David Cross is awesome in everything.
He would have been perfect as Megamind, himself.

Overall, it's a fun but predictable movie, I give it a B+.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Comic Movies of 2011

Summer is the time for the comic book movie, and next summer we get three big ones: Thor, Captain America, and Green Lantern. Thor and Captain America are from Marvel, and are particularly notable because they are crucial to piecing together the upcoming Avengers movie, which promises to be an unprecedented event (more on that later). DC’s Green Lantern is also notable because, frankly, DC needs this to do well. As it stands DC’s only successful movie franchise is the Batman movies, and that just isn’t enough. The Superman reboot was a disappointment, and I think they are waiting to see how Green Lantern does before committing to any other characters (Though I think Neil Patrick Harris in a Flash movie would be a license to print money, but that’s just me). So with 8 months or so before any of these movies come out, I’m going to put in my two cents about how I think they look.

Thor (5/6/2011)

Though I've always been interested in Norse Mythology I've never had much use for Marvel's Thor. I never really liked the idea of Gods being on the same team as mere mortals. Regardless, Thor is a longtime Avenger so it's necessary for him to be in the Avenger's movie. Of the three movies coming out next year, this one has me the most doubtful, mainly because of this picture:

It's that damn gold eye patch! My favorite depiction of Odin is Neil Gaiman's shifty grifter. I know it's dumb to expect Hollywood to tone anything down, but all these gold costumes make me wary. It just comes off as corny to me. The thing about movies about Gods or superheroes, it is very easy to resort to corniness, regardless of how good your actors are.

Right, Ralph?

So, let's look at the actors. Chris Hemsworth was good in Star Trek, and he seems like he'll be fine as Thor. Anthony Hopkins is a great actor, but I'm afraid he'll ham it up as Odin. I don't know any thing about Tom Hiddleston, but he looks like he could pass as a villainous Loki. Natalie Portman is good in everything she does though I am discouraged by Kat Denning playing her less hot, sarcastic best friend. It seems cliched to me, but we'll see. Rene Russo, who hasn't been in a movie since 2005, decided to come back to play Frigga, Thor's step mommy. Clark Gregg is back as Agent Coulson. I like this character and I'm glad to see that he's a thread that connects all the films. Finally, the great Ray Stevenson is filling the very big shoes of Volstagg. Ever since Rome I've liked Ray Stevenson. I don't care what you say, Punisher: War Zone wasn't that bad. There! I said it!

Especially if you like ham!

So I still have mixed feelings about this movie. It has a solid cast, but so has several disappointing blockbuster. Remember Troy? Yeah, it's probably best if you don't. It too had a promising cast. The thing that might save it (other than Natalie Portman being cute as a button) is the inclusion of SHIELD, and the tying into the Marvel Universe as a whole. Seriously, if Marvel pulls this off, it could be a game changer. Only time will tell.
Excitement Level: Going on a blind date with a sorority girl who may turn out to be ugly and dumb, but there's promise of group action that you just can't pass up.

Green Lantern (6/17/2011)

As I said above, DC needs this. When it comes to theatrical releases, Marvel is owning them worse than the Hulk would own Green Arrow (trust me, that's bad). Sure some people say that Christopher Nolan's Batman movies are the best superhero movies ever made, and they may be right, but that's all DC has. The thing is, they have some great characters that would make for fantastic movies, Green Lantern being one of them. At first I was disappointed that Ryan Reynolds would play Hal Jordan, thinking it should be Nathan Fillion, but after seeing the trailer, I think
he'll pull it off. The thing is, Hal Jordan isn't the most liked character. He' has no real personality, cocky being his most defining characteristic. He's probably the superhero most likely to slap a woman on the ass and tell her to go cook him a steak. Ryan Reynolds has made a career of being that kind of character, but likable. Heck, he even made The Proposal bearable.

Unfortunately, you can't win them all

Even watching the trailer, I my trepidations were slightly abated when I Reynolds spoke his lines. He's just so likable. Does that sound gay? I don't care. As for the other characters, the preview just gave brief shots of Mark Strong as Sinestro and Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond. Both of those guys are solid actors, even if they did look a little silly all done up. The other lanterns all look great, especially Kilowag. Blake Lively is playing the love interest, Carol Ferris. I don't understand why they insisted on hiring a blond to play a brunette. They do it all the time! It's as annoying now as it was when they made Kirsten Dunst a redhead:

Wait, what was I talking about?

The special effects look like they're going to be impressive enough. I'm worried about his costume being CGI. It makes sense, as it's generated by his ring, so it would be all glowy and stuff, but it could easily come off looking stupid. Also, I'm afraid that they're trying to cram too much into the movie. The preview showed him getting the ring, learning his powers, going to Oa, as well as some Hector Hammond business. Hopefully all this stuff fits O.K. and the movie doesn't feel rushed.
Excitement Level: Going on a blind date with an aspiring actress. You know things are going to look awesome, but it may turn out to be a crazy and confusing time.

Captain America: The First Avenger (7/22/2011)

This movie is the one I know the least about, but have the highest expectations for. This movie has the potential to be very good. First of all, it will be set during WW2 and is about a skinny little nerd who volunteers to be experimented on for his country. Also it addresses the creation of SHIELD, including Nick Fury and Howard Stark. Throw in the fantastic Hugo Weaving as the villain Red Skull, this could be a fantastic movie. Or it could be crap. It depends how seriously they take it. I hope they don't decide to make the WW2 scenes all slick and CGI as tends to the case with comic book movies. If they instead make it a good war movie that happens to star a super human soldier, the movie will be much better for it. I'm thinking make it like Band of Brothers but Captain Winters is a super powered badass.
So what about the casting? I was doubtful when I heard Chris Evans would be playing Steve Rogers, but to be perfectly honest, none of the other names that were thrown around sounded that good either. John Krasinski? Dane Cook? Nope. Though it is weird that the guy who played Johnny Storm is going to play Captain America, I am all for completely forgetting that movie even existed. Besides, Chris Evans was the best part of that movie. In fact, he's pretty much the best part of every movie he's in; Not Another Teen Movie, Losers, Sunshine and Scott Pilgrim versus the World, he was the best part of all of them. So I like Chris Evans a lot, that might seem gay (sorry Ryan), but it's not.

There's nothing gay about any of this.

So what about the other cast? I already mentioned Hugo Weaving. He's plays a great villain and I trust him not to ham up Red Skull too much. Speaking of ham, I'm hoping Tommy Lee Jones wants to forget his Two Face roll as much as the rest of us, he'll probably be solid in this too. As will Samuel Jackson and Stanley Tucci. Hey! Neal McDonough (from Band of Brothers) will be Dum Dum Dugan! He'll keep them on track! Score!
We know how it's going to end. Rogers gets frozen and thawed out in present day to form the Avengers. Again, I hope this movie is good just so the Avengers movie will work. It will be tricky. It has to be patriotic without being cheesy. So the jury really is still out on this one. My hopes are up, but years of disappointment just won't let them get too high. We shall see.
Excitement Level: Going on a date with a girl who all your friends have nothing but nice things to say about, and from a distance she looks awesome, but you know she was involved in a pretty nasty four-way that she'd rather forget about.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Further Evidence...

While searching the web I found a few funny pictures which support my theories from a few weeks ago about classic video game characters. Now, I realize that photoshopped pictures one finds on the internet aren't necessarily canon, but it does show that my theories have some merit. Mainly, that Mario is a prideful son of a bitch, and Luigi is envious. The following is a facebook conversation that illustrates this:

I don't doubt that Mario would treat Luigi like this. It's only a matter of time before Luigi finally snaps:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

XKCD movie!!!

I wish! has a weekly photo-shop contest where they give a theme and people submit their photo-shopped entries. This week, for example, the theme is "If Every Website Got A Dramatic Movie Adaptation", in reference to The Social Network. A few of them were pretty funny, and while this one isn't the winner, it made me really sad that this movie will never actually exist. I think it could exist and it could be hilarious!

Congratulations, BRWombat, you successfully broke my heart.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

You Probably Won't Like Turtles Forever, But You MIght

I absolutely loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was growing up. I watched the cartoon religiously, and once I got my hands on $5.24, I was down at KB Toys buying a new action figure. When the movies came out I was a child obsessed, It was pure magic to me. Everything about the movies were cool to me.
In retrospect, not so much...

But, as most people do, I grew up. I stopped paying attention to the cartoons. My action figures met their grisly fates taped to M-80's. My TMNT RPG books became yard sale fodder. And I saw the 3rd movie through eyes unclouded by the unquestionable worship only a child can feel and saw it for the silly crapfest it was. As the years went by, the Ninja Turtles never went away, but I just stopped caring. I was always peripherally aware of new toy lines or cartoons, but never went out of my way to learn more. I did, however, get a chance to enjoy the original comics, which I really enjoyed. The series started out as a parody of the dark and gritty Ninja comics of the 80's, particularly Frank Miller's Daredevil. How it became the childish marketing juggernaut it is today is beyond me, but it did.
So gritty...

I did recently watch the computer animated TMNT movie and not hate it. It was a fun little action movie. There was some pre-existing storylines (Shredder is dead but has a daughter?) that proved that the current animated series has been busy. I've never had much interest in the current series because it just looked like it was trying to be too sleek and bad-ass. While this may have in fact been a return to the original spirit of the characters, they weren't my turtles so I just didn't care.
A few months ago, a friend of mine told me about Turtles: Forever, a made for t.v. movie where the Turtles from the original series are teleported to the universe of the new series, hijinks ensue. I was intrigued by this concept so I put it on my netflix queue. I wasn't that intrigued, so it wasn't #1, and I kept putting movies and series ahead of it, but it eventually made it to the top, and I watched it yesterday.
Throughout the first three quarters of the movie, I was mildly entertained. It mainly served as a vehicle to poke fun at the campiness of the 80's cartoon series. The old school turtles constantly annoy the modern ones by endlessly cracking jokes and obsessing over pizza. What I found odd was the one who cracked the most jokes (by far) was old school Raphael. I remember him being the bad ass of the group, even back then, so this struck me as odd. Perhaps my 7 year old's interpretation of bad ass is a bit different from my current one. I did like the interactions between old school Shredder with modern Shredder. He really was an incompetent bungler back then, wasn't he?
"Tonight I dine on turtle soup!"? Puh-leeease!

Well, the plot eventually unveils itself to be surprisingly unoriginal. [POSSIBLE SPOILERS] So there's a TMNT multiverse and Shredder decides that the only way to truly rid himself of those pesky Turtles is to destroy the source, or "Turtle Prime". I actually rolled my eyes at this. I watched Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths recently, and it had the exact same plot. Well it was the trip to "Turtle Prime" that turned out to be a real treat. It's a black and white world inhabitted by the surly, constantly narating turtles from the original comic. It turned out to be a nice little tribute to the original comic and it's creators Eastman and Laird. The final scene made the whole movie worth it.

I find I can't really grade this movie like I normally would. For the most part, I thought it was pretty lame save. a few clever tributes and observations. Will you like it? Well if you liked the original cartoon or the comics than this is worth checking out. If you feel like you can't watch something this "uncool", turn it into a drinking game or something. Drink every time someone says cowabunga or pizza. Take a shot every time Raphael makes a joke, if you dare, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

7 Classic Video Game Characters and the Deadly Sin They Represent

Video games are naturally evil, and by extension, they bring out the evil in anyone who plays them. The Grand Theft Auto series alone is responsible for 89% of violent crime since 1987.* As technology progresses as do the opportunities for gamers to live out their most diabolical fantasies. These days, gamers have entire virtual worlds to in which they can perfect their evil before unleashing them on the real world.
The true face of evil

The evil impact of video games is not a new phenomenon. In fact, video games have been a sinister influence from the very start. In fact, some of the most beloved classic video game characters actually represent the most evil aspects of humanity:

Link - Lust
Link has starred in many games, across many different platforms. Because of this, his character design and origins have changed significantly over the years. What has never really changed however, is that he is an adolescent boy that sets off on a dangerous quest that is centered around a beautiful Princess named Zelda. Now I know a little something about being an adolescent boy, having been one for 29 years, and the only reason that boy is going to go on such a huge quest, facing unspeakable horror and danger at every turn, is if he thinks he's going to get laid at the end. Sure, there's usually something threatening the space time continuum, or all life as we know it, but that's neither here nor there. When it comes down to it, you know he's in it for the nookie.

Mega Man - Greed
Sure, there are a lot of games where you have to collect coins or rings or other treasure, and you could argue those characters are greedy. Mega Man, however, is after much bigger swag: souls. The media would have you believe that the villains Mega Man hunts down are robots, and robots don't have souls. Don't buy it. Mega Man systematically hunts down anyone else in the world like himself, destroys them, and eats their souls to gain their powers. One power isn't enough for Mega Man, nor is having a robot dog buddy, he has to have all the powers.

You - Gluttony
Sure, there are video game characters whose powers are based on eating like Kirby or Pacman, but they eat because it's their best tool against the forces of evil. Also, Kirby would never eat dozens of ducks just for the fun of it, but you would, wouldn't you? Seriously, how many ducks do you need to shoot? The ten you could bag in just one level seems like it should satiate one person, but it's not enough for you, is it? You just keep going, keep shooting duck after duck after duck Every duck you see you have to shoot. Don't lie and say you have a big family to feed. Even if you're Italian, your family can't be big enough to justify killing a hundred ducks on one hunting trip. Did you know ducks mate for life? Yeah, they do! You better eat every last bite, you gluttonous sonuvabitch!

Mario - Pride
Look at that smug bastard. Even his baseball bat has his damn symbol on it. He refers to himself and his brother as the super Mario brothers! What is that about? I don't buy for a second that their last name is Mario. No, Mario is a cocky glory hog. His name is part of over 50 game titles. He has put his name on golf, racing, tennis, and even Olympic games. Being a plumber wasn't good enough for him so for a while in the nineties he donned a lab coat and made everybody call him Doctor Mario (though I am pretty sure he never went to med school). Everything always has to be about him. Everyone in his life is just one more tool to validate his greatness. Even his relationship with Peach is a sham. I'm willing to bet that he pays Bowser to kidnap Peach every year or two just so he has another excuse to go on a huge quest, rescue her, and show everyone how awesome he is (again). No, Mario is controlled by his vanity, and what's worse, we as a culture completely buy his hype, which must be even more frustrating for...

Luigi - Envy
Poor Luigi, always living in his brother's shadow. The brother in the Super Mario Brothers that isn't Mario. Whereas Mario's name shows up in over 50 titles, Luigi's shows up in 4 (3 of which are actually Mario & Luigi...). Luigi is the ultimate second fiddle even though he is taller, skinnier, and a better jumper than his brother. Even his girlfriend Daisy is a footnote who is only trotted out to have more characters in party games. Luigi will never be in the spotlight (or Peach's panties) as long as his brother is around.

Donkey Kong - Sloth
Well, it seems that that crazy gorilla named Donkey has the same need to kidnap pretty ladies as the next gorilla. But he doesn't really know what to do with her once he has her. Either that, or he just can't be bothered. When a hammer wielding plumber comes a knocking, Donkey barely lifts a finger. Well, he does lift some barrels, but that is it. He has no intention of getting off his hairy ass and being more proactive, he's content to keep lobbing barrels and hope for the best. (Spoiler alert: He lost). Eventually he did get his own platform game on SNES. The plot? Donkey is content to sit around his island with his giant pile of bananas. When that pile gets stolen, however, he has to get off his ass to find it. Along the way, he finds several animals to ride:

Yeah, cause a rhino is so much faster and more agile than a gorilla. No, Donkey just got tired of walking. Cause he's so laaaazy!

Pacman - Wrath
I mentioned Pacman during the gluttony bit, and yes it's true that the game is all about eating all the pellets. But Pacman eats because it's his only way to escape these hellish mazes. Pacman is all about getting home to his wife and her sexy bow so he eating is just the means to an end. Pacman has a two jobs to do, eat the pellets and stay alive. Those fucking ghosts do their best to make those jobs as hard as possible. That's why the only time Pacman strays from his task is right after he eats a power pellet. Once those ghosts are vulnerable, fuck the pellets, fuck getting home to his wife/twin sister, Pacman is out for revenge. He will hunt them down relentlessly. He even gets bonus points for consecutive kills. I bet those ghosts taste like shit, but revenge sure is sweet.

*Rough estimation

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Watching Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

Over the past decade or so Marvel and DC have been producing an increasing number of animated movies that go straight to DVD. As a comic book fan, I look forward to these movies because they are usually adaptations of story lines that would otherwise never make it into a feature film. I’m not entirely sure how appealing these movies are to viewers who do not follow comics, however, and it was pretty obvious in the early dvd’s that the creator’s weren’t either. Honestly, the quality of these movies is pretty hit or miss, and in the beginning there were a lot more misses than hits. I feel like they do keep getting better, and there seems to be a lot more production value put into them. DC in particular has put out a couple of pretty good ones recently, a couple of which I want to talk about later.
Right now, however, I have Superman/Batman Apocalypse in my blu ray player all ready to go. This just came out today so I don’t really know much about it. I know that it is adapted from a story line written by Jeph Loeb with are by the late, great Michael Turner. (I thought he was great anyways... he was often criticized for mainly drawing half naked, half starved ladies...)

It’s not not true...

Ok let’s begin. [Probably spoilers ahead!] First of all, I guess this is a sequel to Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. I thought that one was pretty disappointing, so let’s hope this is an improvement.

This opening sequence is fun. Kevin Conroy! Yes! There may be a debate about who played the best Batman on screen (I vote for Christian Bale, I never really bought Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne), but there is not contest for the voice of Batman. Kevin Conroy is Batman as far as I’m concerned. Tim Daly is back as Superman, which is good. As is Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman. A nice Justice League reunion thing going on. Summer Glau? She can do crazy, can she do Supergirl?

Actually, she can do whatever she wants

Not a big fan of the character designs here. You can tell they’re trying to emulate Michael Turner’s style, so they get bonus points for effort, I guess.

Why would GCPD ever think blimps are a good idea? They are floating bombs just waiting for some psychotic clown to drive it into a building.

Yay Krypto!

Ed Asner is back as Granny Goodness, a fantastic role for him. I like the design of her and the Female Furies. I am enjoying this fight scene right now. I’m not sure who the woman in white is, but I recognize the others from Supeman: the Animated Series. I’ve always had a thing for Lashina for some reason. Maybe it turns out I’m into bondage or what not...

Note to self: investigate that further...

Shopping montage? Really?

The fight against the Doomsdays was pretty boring. In fact, this whole thing is boring me a little. Maybe it’s because I know the story already. Now our heroes are on Apocalypse, and the action is picking up. OK, the Parademons look like Koopa Troopas to me so it’s hard to take them seriously. I guess no one ever takes them seriously, them being Darkseid’s cannon fodder and all.

Barda and Wonder Woman versus the Female Furies is turning out to be the best action sequence so far. Meanwhile it’s Batman + jetpack versus giant dogs. Whoops! He’s eaten! Batman’s dead! Spoiler!

Blood, swears and scantily clad women? Earlier, I was going to talk more about the primary audience of these movies, but it’s getting pretty obvious that it’s not children. It’s not that this is an x rated gore fest by any means (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but it does have a pretty dark and adult feeling to it. So if it’s not meant to get children into comics, then it’s obvious that it’s directed towards older fans who already into comics and know the stories and characters. I mean, how many people really know who Big Barda is? Also, judging from the amount of animated female flesh being shown, it seems like it might more directed at males than females. So, I ask again, just how widespread an audience is DC hoping for here. Male comic book fans may be extremely vocal on the internet, but it’s becoming pretty clear you can’t rely on them alone.

Well, the ending was fun. I enjoyed Batman's confrontation with Darkseid, as well as the final battle on the Kent farm. I was particularly amused when Darkseid grinned and grabbed Superman's cape. I have to say that there was some very impressive action. If that's the main reason you watch these movies, then go ahead and give this a watch. Overall the story was just O.K., but you may enjoy it more if you are unfamiliar with the original comics.

Final Grade: B

P.S. The Green Arrow Showcase is pretty good. I've never liked Green Arrow as a character, not even in Justice League Unlimited. He always comes off as one-note and preachy. I liked him in this. "Sorry I'm late. You ever try changing clothes in a Hybrid?" I thought that was funny. Of course he drives a Hybrid...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the Box Office

This is about the seventh time I've sat down to write something about the Scott Pilgrim Versus the World movie. I am having a hard time articulating how I feel about it. I saw it a few weeks ago with three other people; My brother in law who read the books like me, my wife who only read the first half of the books, and a friend who didn't even know the books existed. My wife and friend loved the movie while me and my brother were disappointed. I've decided that most of the blame falls on book 6:
Books: ruining a movie near you as we speak!

Now, I'm not that stupid, I know that movie adaptations of books change a lot of things. It's a necessity, you can't fit all that information into two hours of film. There's a reason why it's called an adaptation and not a recreation or whatever. Knowing this, I absolutely loved the first hour of the movie. I thought that a lot of the things that were actually a good thing. The energy of the first two fights was fantastic.
/*I just realized that I am doing a horrible job of reviewing this movie for someone who has no idea what it's about. Well, that's not really my goal here. You want to read good reviews written by good reviewers? Go here or here. I'm more of a stream of consciousness kind of guy, I really don't know what's coming next...*/
Boobs! Wait, no... the energy of the first two fights = awesome! Patel's Bollywood number? Lucas Lee's stunt team? None of that was in the book but it was a lot of fun. I think I was laughing the whole time Chris Evans was on screen. I didn't care about divergences from the books, it was too much fun. The movie had a lot more emphasis on the band, and as an extension, music. That makes sense because it's not something that really translates that well in a book. The music really adds to the atmosphere of the story, and I want to get my hands on the soundtrack. The Clash of the Demonhead show was probably the pinnacle of my enjoyment of the movie. After that, however, I started getting uneasy. The entire Envy storyline was cut and the scenes with her suffered for it. I understand they couldn't fit everything in, but it still bugged me. Then Roxy showed up and she was defeated the way Envy is defeated in the book, even though the way Roxy was defeated in the book was friggen awesome. I can forgive all that! What I can't forgive is the blatant lack of robots!

Seriously, who doesn't love robots?

It was the fight with the Japanese twins that really threw me for a loop. I understand they wanted to incorporate the band more, and the scene is actually pretty cool. Or I think it was, I couldn't really tell because I was too busy whining about robots. In the book Scott faces off against a couple of robots before fighting the twins in a very Kim Pine related subplot. I never expected that subplot to be addresses so I wasn't expecting the fight to be exactly the same, but come on! Robots!
Then there was the end. Crazy different. Seeing how the movie was made before book 6 was released, I shouldn't have got my hopes up. It just bugs me when things are changed that didn't really need to be. A fucking microchip? Come on!
You expect the guy in a $4000 suit to believe microchip? Come on!

Enough about the book
. Most of you will never read it (even though you should). As an adaptation of a book I love I give this movie a B, but on its own I give it an A. If I wasn't bogged down by disappointment I would have really loved this movie. Just ask my wife!
You should probably ask her soon

This movie is one of the most original and fun movies I have seen in a while. The casting was top notch. Even Michael Cera seemed to break out of his shell, he didn't stutter or glance at his shoes once! Ellen Wong's Knives was too cute for words. Kieran Culkin nailed Wallace. Alison Pill was perfect as Kim Pine, even if her role was severely reduced. Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Anna Kendrick give me two boners at once! Jason Schwartzman was at his smarmy best, but the guy who stole the show was Chris Evans. I said it before and I'll say it again, I was laughing at during the whole Lucas Lee scene.
It felt like watching a video game. The action scenes were fantastic. This is what video game movies should be. You should watch this. I understand if you want to wait for it to come out on DVD, but get it right when it comes out. It's worth it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Movie You Should See: The Host

This movie came out in 2006. Since then, I have tried to recommend it to as many people as possible, but a lot of you don't quite believe that it could be as awesome as I say it is. Well it is! I understand the hesitation, however, because it's a hard movie to describe. The only real way to describe it is as a Korean monster movie, and while this is an accurate description, it doesn't really do the movie justice. The movie focuses on a family. The patriarch is an old man who runs a snack shack on the shores of the Han River. He has three adult children, his daughter is a champion archer, one son is an alcoholic University graduate (that's pretty much all you get there) and another son is somewhat of a simpleton who lives with his father. This simpleton has a daughter. It is pretty obvious early on that he is absolutely devoted to her, though he has a hard time showing it. In fact the whole family is devoted to her, and it seems as though she is the glue that keeps this otherwise dysfunctional family together. Then some slimy gross monster crawls out of the Han River and steals her away.
No, it's not Ke$ha...

I'm not really spoiling anything for you as this happens pretty early and is mentioned in every synopsis. The scene where the monster emerges from the river is fantastic. Actually, pretty much every scene with the monster is fantastic. The special effects here are great in a way that you tend to forget that there are special effects at all. You can tell a lot of thought was put into how this amphibious mutation would move and interact with the humans it's stealing. It stumbles and slips when it's on land so it gets creative. I was impressed with how the monster was presented throughout the movie. There wasn't a slow build up to a showy reveal, it was just another character in a great story.
See? He fits right in!

As I said though, the focus is really on the family trying to find their missing child. Each character goes through personal growth, but it all seems pretty organic. The simpleton son is the one who grows most of all, driven almost insane by his desire to find his daughter being hindered by his inability to articulate it. The climax of his growth does seem a little forced (literally) but by this time you just want to see something good happen to him.
The acting in this movie is top notch. All of the actors are foreign (get it?) to me, but you can check them out here. There is an element of comedy throughout the movie that could seem corny in a movie like this but is pulled off do to the skill and interactions of the actors.
In conclusion, I absolutely love this movie. It has something for everybody. There's a rampaging monster, mean polluting Americans (yep! it's our fault!), government cover ups, personal growth, comedy, tragedy and fried squid!
I can't recommend this movie enough. I give it an A+. Watch it!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Horror Movie I Kinda Want To See

I don't like horror movies. There, I said it. I find no joy in being startled or scared, I get that enough from my doorbell. Every once in a while, however, a horror movie comes around that I actually want to see. Well, usually it's sci fi or a supernatural thriller, and not just a hack n slash gore fest. This time it's Devil. I don't know why, but this preview really interests me. I think it's a pretty interesting and scary premise. Strangers trapped in an elevator with crazy things happening when the lights go out. It looks fun.
This movie is not directed by M. Night Shyamalan, only written by him. I think putting his name in the trailer will be less of a benefit than it used to be. The thing is, he is pretty good a writing thrillers. I really enjoyed The Sixth Sense and Signs. I think he got a bit caught up on the twist ending thing, but if you ignore that, the guy knows how to make a good movie. I hope this movie doesn't try to have a huge twist, but I think they'll try to stump us with the mystery of who the Devil (or whatever). For the record I'm guessing it's the brunette woman. She says something ominous in the beginning and is the first to be attacked (red herring?)... but who knows.
Anyway, it looks interesting. You may not think so, but I do. One of the only other horror movies I really liked was The Descent, another very claustrophobic thriller. Other than that I can't think of many horror movies that I really enjoyed.

Monday, July 26, 2010

DC Universe Online

I have been casually following news about this game for what feels like several years now, never quite believing it would ever be finished. But now they unleash this awesome looking trailer and a release date of November 2010? I am officially excited for this game. I realize the video is not fully visible yet. Until I fix this (which might never happen) you can view it here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More Scott Pilgrim

The final Scott Pilgrim book comes out next week! I am very excited. I am also psyched about the movie which comes out in August. Here is a neat little remix for you.

Monday, July 12, 2010


The first thing I'm going to say about Predators is that if you liked the original Predator movie, you'll like this one. Personally, I loved the first one, it remains one of my personal favorites. This new installment does a great job of remaining faithful to the spirit of the original while adding some good stuff. If this had been only sequel, critics probably would have panned it for being a mindless rehash, but since we've had three disappointing movies featuring those pesky alien hunters in the last 20 years, Predators feels like a refreshing return to what made the first movie such a hit in the first place.
The plot is simple enough. A bunch of of bad-asses wake up while parachuting down to some alien jungle planet. It turns out that they were picked to be hunted in some game reserve. The return to the jungle was a good move, that's where the Predator belongs, not in some "Concrete Jungle". That's a stupid saying and nothing good can come from it.

What struck me what how much this movie actually felt like the original, even after 23 years. The classic score was present throughout the entire film (Though I was baffled by the song that came on with the credits...) and there wasn't a gratuitous use of CGI. I was worried about the addition of "dogs" and other creatures but they ended up using birds. The Predators are open to all techniques of hunting their prey, even using dogs to flush them out or birds to scout. I also liked the fact that humans aren't the only prey that were stranded on the planet.
The humans were an eclectic group of toughies. Members of the group of prey hailed from Russia, Japan (complete with katana slicing action!), Mexico, Africa, South America, and five from America (because we are the toughest!)

What, no Australians? What a croc!
The acting was fine. Danny Trejo was as solid as ever. Laurence Fishburne had a good role. It became evident pretty early that he was no Morpheus coming to save the day. Alice Braga did a fine job as the nicest Most Dangerous Woman on the Planet you ever hope to meet. I feared that they would make her nothing more than a damsel in distress, and while Adrien did save her several times, she did plenty of saving herself. Topher Grace was actually more of the damsel in distress. I had made some jokes about how he didn't seem to belong with the rest, which was something that turned out to be a bit of a plot point. The answer came in a very predictable way, but I still enjoyed having him in the film. He added some "everyman" feeling to the cast, and had some of the funniest lines. Adrien Brody did a fine job, of course. The guy can act, and his reluctant leader loner tough guy had more depth than most do. Still, when he was half naked and covered in mud, he just didn't look as impressive as Arnold.
I do have one big complaint, though it's not about the movie itself, it's about the trailer. Trailers can be deceiving, as you all know. But I absolutely hate when a trailer lies. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen, and Predators is guilty of it. This might be a bit spoilery but it bugged the shit out of me. The thing is, if you have seen a trailer for Predators at all, you've seen this scene. If you haven't, here it is. The guilty scene is at 1:25. It is a very iconic scene that gets you excited because there are so many Predators. Well, it's a fucking lie! The only targeting reticle in that scene is the first one. The rest aren't there at all! I count 15 reticles, but there aren't even that many Predators in the entire movie! This just pisses me off because it's so manipulative. It's a minor deception, but a deception nonetheless. I hate that shit!

Regardless, as I said before, if you liked the first movie, you'll like this one. It's a solid sci-fi action movie that doesn't try to be anything more. I was impressed so I'm giving it an A. I should knock that grade down because that shit with the trailer is basically cheating, but oh well.
A parting gift because I thought this was funny...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Movies Part 1

Summertime is always a fun season for movies, particularly for comic fans like myself. The summer blockbuster has become a pretty steep competition between studios, with questionable results. They can't all be winners, I guess. Here's what I think of a few of the big ones...

Iron Man 2: Saw it and liked it. I've never been a fan of Iron Man as a character, so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed these movies. As sequels go, this was a pretty good one. The additions (and changes) to the cast were all strong, and the returning players were still as good as in the original. My favorite addition was Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer. That guy can do no wrong in my book. I'm glad Scarlett Johansson didn't put on a fake Russian accent, but I was disappointed that Black Widow didn't have one. I guess that's unfair because Mickey Rourke's accent was fine, so there's no reason to think Scarlett's wouldn't have been. Robert Downey Jr. owns Tony Stark of course. There was a half hour in the middle that got a bit boring, and the final action scene was a bit disappointing, and but all in all, it was a fun movie.

Robin Hood: No thanks. Russell Crowe is old and annoying and I just don't see him as Robin Hood. Also, this looks like some big war epic (like Gladiator) but I like my Robin Hood stories to be about a gang of thieves hiding in Sherwood Forest, stealing from the rich, giving to the poor. I know some people who have seen it and liked it, so maybe I'll get it on netflix eventually...

Why mess with classics, anyways?
MacGruber: I don't watch SNL, I've never seen these skits. I'd rather have a normal MacGyver movie (starring Richard Dean Anderson) than this spoof.

Shrek Forever After: All of the Shrek movies are fun and clever, but I'm not too worried about catching them in the theater. I get tired of these animated movies being too full of pop culture gags, but the Shrek movies seems immune to my annoyance. Maybe their gags are more clever than the rest...

Sex and the City 2: I'm sure it'll be a lot like this.

Prince of Persia: Jake Gyllenhaal is one of my favorite actors and he usually picks solid roles. Even if the concept of the movie or character is stupid (I'm looking at you, Bubble Boy) he usually puts his all into the role. It looks like he's just in this for the paycheck, though. I'm afraid not even he can save this movie. When I first saw the preview for this movie, it was shown with the previews for Clash of the Titans and Sorcerer's Apprentice and all three previews were set up exactly the same. CGI CGI clever quip CGI hot girl CGI flipping around rumbling sound villain CGI title. I saw Clash of the Titans and was not impressed. I'm sure Gyllenhall, Arteron, Kingsley, Molina will do fine, but it doesn't look like their going to have much to work with. Who knows, maybe it will be awesome. We'll see in about six months.

Get him to the Greek: Could be funny or could be stupid. I've always liked Jonah Hill but never had much use for Russell Brand. He looks like he tries too hard to look like he doesn't try. I heard P. Diddy did a good job. Well good for him, he could use the money.

Splice: I've heard great things, but I'm too scared to go see this.

The A-Team: I enjoyed this movie. I said my piece here.

Karate Kid: Blah. The Movie Maven says it better than I could.

Jonah Hex: Already talked about it here.

Toy Story 3: I'm sure this will be fantastic. I was a bit bummed when, after Up, I heard that Pixar's next two movies were sequels (particularly because I have an unreasonable dislike for Cars), but Toy Story 2 was good so who cares. I probably won't see it in the theaters though. Apparently Michael Keaton's Ken is a really funny villain. I don't know who this Blake Clark is, thinking he can imitate the late great Jim Varney, but I guess someone has to.

Knight and Day: Tom Cruise is trying to get on our good side again, and he's bringing Cameron Diaz along to help. This movie does not appeal to me at all. Unlike most of you, I don't hate Tom for jumping on Oprah's couch or being a spokesperson for a weird religion. At least he hasn't been openly racist or anything

Right, Mel?
He just annoys me and the preview for this movie annoys me. There are several scenes where ridiculous shit happens. For example, he's riding on the rook of a car and another car is flipping toward them or something and he narrowly dodges a flying car. Or how about when they're driving the motorcycle and she flips around and shoots both guns backwards. These scenes are stupid looking. Maybe if they were superheroes or cyborgs or something but these action movies have these normal people doing more and more extraordinary things and we're supposed to buy it? It bugs me. I guess it's nothing new, but damn.

Grown Ups: Adam Sandler hasn't made a funny movie since 1998 but I'm not sure that even applies here. I think this movie is one of those feel good family dramedy's dressed up as a comedy. I'm willing to bet that the funniest parts of the movie are in the preview. There will be some theme about growing up and connecting with children, blah blah blah...

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse: I admit that I read the first two Twilight books. My whole family loved them so they say I had to read them. They were easy enough to read. I started reading the third one. I got a few chapters in, I remember the exact moment I stopped. I was sitting on the toilet and I literally threw the book across the room in disgust. The book was more disgusting to me than the pile of crap I was creating. Worse than shit. The movies are even worse than that! I am so sick of seeing these pale kids with stupid hair and their Zoolander poses and being told they are the most beautiful people ever. These movies are dumb, If one more person compares them to Harry Potter, we are going to have serious words!
Like Avada Kedavra!

The Last Airbender: I think this will be pretty good. A lot of people are up in arms about the fact that there are absolutely no Asians cast, despite the fact that the original show celebrated different Asian cultures. I can see why people are upset by this, but it's really nothing new.

It could be worse...
The thing is, I think M. Night Shyamalan is a very talented director. It's too bad that he seemed to have pigeonheld (pigeonholded?) himself in the twist ending plot device. This seems to be his attempt to escape that. The thing is, his annoying tendency to seemingly try to outsmart us began to overshadow the fact that his movies were pretty well made. I think this one will be pretty good too, if people can get past being offended.

Predators: I love the original Predator movie. It remains one of my personal favorites. I enjoyed the sequel, and choose to ignore the glaring flaws. I even liked the first AVP, if only because of the concept (I did not see the sequel). I think Robert Rodriguez is a good fit for a director and will do the franchise justice. I like the concept behind it: a group of the worlds most dangerous people find themselves on a planet that serves as the Predator's hunting preserve. I have a few misgivings; the fact that there is only one woman always bother me. It makes it seems like she's a token, the damsel in distress. Also, the one asian in the group is proficient with a sword, of course. Isn't that cliche by now? Another thing, second billed on imdb is Topher Grace. I haven't noticed him in the previews so I don't know his role, but I doubt I could buy him as one of the most dangerous men on the planet. Apparently he's a serial killer or something. I am looking forward to this. I noticed that there wasn't a lot of CGI in the trailer, which is heartening. We shall see.