Saturday, August 8, 2009

My Movie Collection

I wanted to see how many of MY movies you've all seen. Enjoy.

( )28 Days Later
( )28 Weeks Later
( )30 Days of Night
( )300
( )The 40 Year Old Virgin
( )The Abandoned
( )Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
( )Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
( )Alien
( )Aliens


( )Alien 3
( )Alien: Resurrection
( )American Gangster
( )American Psycho
( )An American Werewolf in London
( )The Amityville Horror (2005)
( )Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy
( )Appleseed
( )Appleseed Ex Machina
( )Azumi


( )Batman Begins
( )The Dark Knight
( )Battle Royale
( )A Beautiful Mind
( )The Beach
( )Beowulf
( )The Beyond
( )Big Fish
( )Big Trouble in Little China
( )Black Hawk Down


( )Blade
( )Blade 2
( )Blade: Trinity
( )Blade Runner
( )Blood Diamond
( )Body of Lies
( )The Boondock Saints
( )The Bourne Identity
( )The Bourne Supremacy
( )The Bourne Ultimatum


( )Braveheart
( )Brotherhood of the Wolf
( )Cabin Fever
( )Casino Royale
( )Child's Play
( )Children of Men
( )Clash of the Titans
( )Cloverfield
( )Club Dread
( )Collateral


( )Coraline
( )Crash
( )Creep
( )The Crow
( )The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
( )Dagon
( )Dance of the Dead
( )Dark Floors
( )The DaVinci Code
( )Dead Alive


( )Dead or Alive (DOA)
( )The Departed
( )The Descent
( )The Devil's Advocate
( )Die Hard
( )Live Free or Die Hard
( )Disturbia
( )Dog Soldiers
( )Donnie Darko
( )Doom


( )Doomsday
( )Dracula
( )Eastern Promises
( )End of Days
( )Enemy at the Gates
( )Equilibrium
( )Event Horizon
( )The Evil Dead
( )Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn
( )Army of Darkness


( )The Exorcist
( )The Eye (original)
( )The Faculty
( )The Fast and the Furious
( )Fight Club
( )Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete
( )Friday the 13th
( )Friday the 13th (2009)
( )Friday the 13th Part 2
( )Friday the 13th Part 3


( )Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
( )Friday the 13th 5: A New Beginning
( )Friday the 13th 6: Jason Lives
( )Friday the 13th 7: The New Blood
( )Friday the 13th 8: Jason Takes Manhattan
( )Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday
( )Jason X
( )Freddy vs. Jason
( )His Name Was Jason
( )Fright Night


( )The Frighteners
( )From Beyond
( )From Hell
( )Frontier(s)
( )The Game
( )Ghost in the Shell
( )Ghostbusters
( )Gladiator
( )The Goonies
( )Grandma's Boy


( )The Green Mile
( )Hackers
( )Halloween
( )Halloween (2007)
( )Halloween 2
( )Halloween 3: Season of the Witch
( )Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
( )Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
( )Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers
( )Halloween H2O


( )Halloween Resurrection
( )Hard Candy
( )The Haunting (1999)
( )Heat
( )Hellboy
( )Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
( )Hellboy: Sword of Storms
( )Hellboy: Blood & Iron
( )Hellraiser
( )The Hills Have Eyes (2006)


( )A History of Violence
( )The Hitcher (2007)
( )The Host
( )House of 1000 Corpses
( )The Devil's Rejects
( )House on Haunted Hill (1999)
( )Hot Fuzz
( )I, Robot
( )I am Legend
( )The Incredible Hulk


( )Raiders of the Lost Ark
( )Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
( )Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
( )Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
( )Inside
( )Inside Man
( )In the Mouth of Madness
( )Iron Man
( )The Island
( )Jacob's Ladder


( )The Jacket
( )Jaws
( )Ju-on
( )The Grudge
( )Ju-on 2
( )Jurassic Park
( )The Lost World: Jurassic Park
( )Jurassic Park 3
( )King Arthur
( )King Kong


( )The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
( )Kingdom of Heaven
( )Kung Fu Panda
( )The Last Samurai
( )Legend
( )Let the Right One In
( )The Hobbit
( )The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
( )The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Extended Cut
( )The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers


( )The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Extended Cut
( )The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
( )The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Extended Cut
( )Lord of War
( )The Lost Boys
( )The Matrix
( )Animatrix
( )Martyrs
( )Memento
( )Midnight Meat Train


( )Mimic
( )Mind Hunters
( )The Mist
( )Mortal Kombat
( )My Bloody Valentine
( )My Bloody Valentine (2009)
( )National Treasure
( )Night of the Living Dead
( )Night of the Living Dead (1990)
( )Dawn of the Dead


( )Dawn of the Dead (2004)
( )Day of the Dead (1985)
( )Land of the Dead
( )Diary of the Dead
( )Nightmare Detective
( )A Nightmare on Elm Street
( )No Country for Old Men
( )Office Space
( )Oldboy
( )One Missed Call (original)


( )The Orphanage
( )Out Cold
( )Panic Room
( )Pan's Labyrinth
( )Pet Semetary
( )Phantoms
( )Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
( )Pitch Black
( )Planet Terror
( )Predator


( )The Prestige
( )Prince of Darkness
( )Princess Mononoke
( )Pulse (Kairo)
( )Pulse
( )Pumpkinhead
( )Rambo
( )[REC]
( )Reincarnation (Rinne)
( )The Relic


( )Resident Evil
( )Resident Evil: Apocalypse
( )Resident Evil: Extinction
( )Resident Evil: Degeneration
( )Return of the Living Dead
( )Ringu
( )The Ring
( )Saving Private Ryan
( )Scream
( )Serenity


( )The Serpent and the Rainbow
( )Se7en
( )Shaun of the Dead
( )The Shawshank Redemption
( )The Shining (original)
( )Shutter (original)
( )Silent Hill
( )Sin City
( )6 Films to Keep You Awake
( )Sleepy Hollow


( )Snatch
( )Sphere
( )Spirited Away
( )Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
( )Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
( )Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
( )Stay
( )Stir of Echoes
( )The Strangers
( )Sunshine


( )Superbad
( )Super Troopers
( )Suspiria
( )Taken
( )A Tale of Two Sisters
( )Tears of the Sun
( )The Terminator
( )Terminator 2: Judgment Day
( )The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
( )Them


( )The Thing
( )TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
( )Tommy Boy
( )Transformers
( )Tropic Thunder
( )Troy
( )Underworld
( )Underworld Evolution
( )Unleashed
( )V for Vendetta


( )Vampire Hunter D
( )Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
( )Van Wilder
( )Videodrome
( )Wanted
( )Watchmen
( )Watchmen The Complete Motion Comics
( )X-Men 1.5
( )X2
( )Zodiac

Grand Total: /280

( ) Zombie Strippers [Bonus Film!]

Super Mega Ultra Grand Total: /281

Note: I tried to count 'em off 10 to a section but this was done at 3 in the morning and, holy hell, my eyes are hurtin'. Hopefully I counted right.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Transformers 2 Is Just 2 Much

Because I actually have to work today, I want to keep this short and sour. Seriously, going for a short word count here.

Let me just start of by saying that Transformers 2 is not a good movie. I am, for the most part, a Michael Bay apologist. I don't think any of his movies are QUALITY entertainment, but they are ENTERTAINING. Michael Bay knows how to direct action. He can make a blockbuster, special effects extravaganza. But Transformers 2 was any 2 of his old movies slammed together (like so many giant, alien robots within the film itself) and then turned up to 11.

At two and a half hours, Transformers 2 feels too long by at least a half hour, if not more. There are so many parts that could have been scrapped as they serve absolutely no purpose in the movie (besides earning some laughs at the utter stupidity of the situation). We see dogs humping, Transformers humping, a mother whacked out on pot brownies, Transformer testicles, Transformer farting, racially-stereotyped Transformers...the list goes on and on. Sure, I saw a lot of these things and smiled or even chuckled, but it was from a state of shock; I was reacting to all of the asinine imagery in the way the filmmakers wanted, but for all of the wrong reasons.

The plot is...not there? Kinda there? Maybe? I'm not sure. Long story short, Transformers have been to earth before. Transformers arrive, help humans build pyramids, build a machine to steal our sun even though they're not supposed to because it's OUR sun so the Transformers are divided and thus we have Autobots and Decepticons, yeah. Oh, and the Fallen? Why, exactly, is it that he can only be defeated by a Prime (did not realize the Prime in Optimus Prime was actually a last name, passed down the ancestral tree)? Because it's revealed to us in scene of exposition, of course.

A lot of the characters are back, but not necessarily for the better. Shia is still Shia, Megan is still hot, Turturro is still zany, but others are just...there. Josh Duhamel's character now exists to be that guy yelling orders on the battlefield--and Tyrese is there to spout one-liners and act as a wall for Josh to bounce lines off of--the end. A new hottie is introduced but, SPOILER, she's a Decepticon in disguise and gets run over by a Volvo (or something) during the first half. Shia has a roommate who decides to run with Shia and Megan as giant robots attack, and thus becomes a major character in the film--and by major character in the film I, of course, mean he's in the movie ONLY to provide comic relief in a movie that is filled to brim with comic relief.

The action is still big and flashy, but not all that involving. I was never really awed by any of it--unlike my first viewing of the first one. Big, CGI robots bash heads and there's sparks and explosions and fire--your typical Michael Bay fare--but there were a few points where I couldn't tell which Transformers were in the fight. I think everything just went so over-the-top that I stopped caring about anything; instead, I switch my brain to stand-by mode and just stared at the pretty pretties.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will make lots and lots o' money (the Amigo here in Bemidji had it in 3 screens last night at midnight, and they were all sold out), but that doesn't mean it's GOOD. No, it's the very definition of a summer popcorn flick AND THEN SOME. It's too long, too over-the-top, it's just too much. Dial it back a bit, Bay. Give us a high octane special effects/action flick where we can actually respect the characters and the story, not pity them.

By the way, what is it with Michael Bay films looking like recruitment ads for the military? I understand that Bay gets to save some money because he's got the right friends in the right places--I assume it's one of those "make the military look badass and we'll let you use some tanks, jets, etc"--but at some point, it just gets to be a bit too much.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Some Art


Listened to the Mac conference that just wrapped up at the WWDC. I won't go into specifics, but here's my list of Tweets covering some of the info regarding iPhones.

# $99 for an 8 Gb iPhone 3G. iPhone 3GS (the S stands for speed) will be $199 (16 Gb) or $299 (32 Gb). It's 2x-3x faster than a standard 3G.

# iPhone 3.0 hits June 17th!

# Remote wipe command to delete data in case your phone is stolen or lost. iTunes will store deleted info in case you find it again. #wwdc

# Lost iPhone? Find it!

# Tethering = sharing intrawebs between iphone and comps (both mac and pc)

# Spotlight search. Also, rent and purchase movies, tv shows, music videos, and audiobooks. #wwdc

# MMS on 3.0 #wwdc

# Cut, copy & paste feature on iPhone 3.0 #wwdc

E3 Microsoft Press Conference

These are my Tweets while watching the Microsoft conference at E3 last week (online, not in person). Note: These are in reverse order so start at the bottom and read up.

# Peter molyneux appears. Magical! Artificial Intelligence in xbox too? Wtf? Whoa... Water reflection. Emotional reactions

# Oh god. That's actually really cool

# This is really responsive. Wii will get a run for it's money. Paint party? More like peg party! Wait, no, it's paint.

# Jab at Wii. Nice!

# Steve Spielberg shows up too? hmmm

# Codename: Natal. Controller-free games in entertainment.

# Doesn't that defeat the purpose of the Ride deck?

# Eat one wii-mote!!! LOL. Camera and spacial recognition

# Metal Gear franchise coming to 360...sans Solid Snake?

# Both Twitter and facebook will show up this fall.

# Twitter too

# Facebook on LIVE

# Full 1080p, insta-view, group watch, double distribution.

# Clarification: why did it take them so long to figure out this should be included.

# Netflix selected FROM the 360. Obvious choice. Why the long wait?

# No charge

# Last.FM coming to LIVE

# Spring 2010!

# This. Game. Looks. Fucking. Awesome! Creepy. The new Silent Hill mixed with Alone in the Dark?

# Episodic gameplay? Demo of AW.

# Alan Wake!

# Halo Reach!

# Halo ODST

# Forza 3. Meh.

# Never played a Splinter Cell. Might start.

# Splinter Cell Conviction

# Best reveal yet! LOL.

# Left 4 Dead! 2!

# Crackdown 2?!

# Sorry, Joy Ride. It's free!

# Bye bye boss in Shadow Complex. LOL. Now Joyride is up

# Epic XBLA title, shadow complex

# Cliffy B!

# Spring 2010

# Odin reveal!

# 360 run of FFXIII

# And the crowd loved it too. MW2 map packs on LIVE first. Final Fantasy XIII

# Snowmobile attacks. Nice. GTS=grand theft snowmobile

# Intense. Cannot wait for this!

# Omg. Gun-mounted radar. Graphics look stunning. Joygasm!

# MW2 demo?!

# Modern Warfare 2

# Tony Hawk presenting the deck for Ride.

# 10 premiers? Excellent! #e3

# Paul and Ringo appear at the conference. #e3

# The Beatles Rock Band starts off the Microsoft conference at #E3.

Watch the entire conference (just under 2 hours) here: Microsoft's E3 conference

I also wrote a couple of short articles concerning E3 info/updates/reveals that can be found at Platform Nation

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Can A Terminator Really Offer Salvation?

2:11 AM

I'm going to break this film up into two parts. The first will be a straight-forward, spoiler-free review. The second, not so much.

When it comes to Terminator films, fans can be just as rabid as, say, Star Wars. A lot of people will automatically disown anything Terminator if James Cameron isn't attached as writer/director. So, when Terminator Salvation was announced--with none other than McG at the helm--the jury was understandably divided. The hype has been up and down, the early reviews, eh, not so great.

A big chunk of the nay-saying comes as a response to the film taking place in a future, post-apocalyptic setting--a setting post-Judgment Day; I am of a different mind. So, while a lot of the fans found this to be a suitable reason for anarchy, I was staging my own, personal resistance. I think a future setting is the reason a Terminator film can work, despite being Cameron-less.

Here's how it stacks up. The casting worked pretty damn well. Christian Bale played a fine John Connor, although I couldn't help but hear Batman speaking for a good chunk of the movie. I doubt he'll be winning any Oscars, but he's definitely better than Nick Stahl (John Connor in Terminator 3).

Marcus Wright is played by up-and-coming Austalian actor Sam Worthington. While John Connor is integral to the Terminator story-line, Sam's character steals the show this time around. Although he's the main(ish) character, and even though his character has the most arc, the writing for him is a little off. Still, he's got a screen presense about him, and I can't wait to see him in the upcoming Avatar (under Jim Cameron's direction) and the Clash of the Titans remake (directed by Louis Leterrier). He'll be one to watch.

A lot of the other characters are played by some fairly well-known actors. Kate Connor is played by Bryce Dallas Howard, a respectable actor, and yet she barely has any screen time and doesn't do a whole lot with the time she does have (not her fault). Moon Bloodgood plays Blair Williams, whose part is important insofar as she sets certain events in motion and offers eye-candy. Michael Ironside shows up as pain in the ass General, and, while I love seeing Ironside in flicks, his part could have easily been covered by pretty much anyone else (not that I'm complaining; his appearance was kinda like extra frosting on the cake for me). Helena Bonham Carter also shows up in a role that has a heavy impact on the overall film, but, again, could have been performed by a lesser-known. Anton Yelchin (recently seen in Star Trek , you may recall) also steps into the boots of Kyle Reese, Johnny C's father-to-be. While I was skeptical of this casting decision at first, the more I watched the film, the more I saw Michael Biehn's (the original Kyle in the original Terminator) Kyle coming out. Something about him just clicked. Awesome.

The fact that some of these actors are of a higher caliber causes a moment of pause. Is it good that they have such fine actors doing so little? To have the talent even though that quality of talent isn't necessarily needed? Or is it just overkill? I'm not sure. Maybe I'm looking too deeply into it. Moving on.

The story is pretty straight-forward. Man, machines, war, post-apocalypitc future, yadda yadda yadda. Seriously, it's nothing groundbreaking, but it does the job, IMO. True, there are some plot holes (which I'll get into in the spoiler section), and it gets to be a little over-the-top at times, but it's a summer blockbuster and it does take place in the future; over-the-top is pretty much par for the course.

The special effects are fan-fucking-tastic...for the most part. Yeah, there are moments when the CG is noticeably CG, but, overall, I was damn impressed. The explosions are massive, the machines are shiny, the action is fast. It looks good.

Harry Knowles saw it the other day, and to say "he wasn't pleased" is putting it lightly. I respect the guy a lot, and I usually trust his opinion, but this is one time where I've got a disagree. It's not the greatest film ever, but seeing as there's only one "greatest film ever", I feel like that isn't really a bad thing (for this or any other film).

Maybe it's because I never watched Star Trek, but I enjoyed Terminator more. Both are great summer blockbusters (and I will say Star Trek is the higher quality of the two), but this was more fun.

I'm not going to say that everyone will enjoy this film. If you're a fan of the originals, be aware that this isn't Cameron's work. Sure, it's based off of his ideas, but beyond that, he didn't have a hand in baking this pie. It's different from everything that came before it, but that doesn't mean it's bad. If you want to see action and effects and, yes, Terminators, give it a go.


And now, I present the spoilers. This will cover some of the plot holes I noticed and story choices that were made.


So, I'm sure you're all aware from the trailers, but Marcus Wright is a machine. He's a machine who, in the beginning, doesn't know he's a machine. Why? Because he's an infiltrator. So, is he good or bad? Well, I'm not answering. This isn't about his motives, it's about what he is. He's a hybrid, both man and machine, but not like Arnie in the original films. It's not just soft tissue over a metal endoskeleton; he has organs. So while all this is cool for the film, I had to ask myself a couple of questions (mostly because I can't ask the writers). In the trailer we can see Marcus being carried, injured. If he's metal, why doesn't anyone realize he ways hundreds of pounds more than he should? The question is raised again when Marcus ends up in a river and starts floating down it. WTF? Again, not world-ending stuff, but worth noting.

Also--MAJOR SPOILER--John Connor was, at one point in the screenplay-writing process, going to die. The film was to end with the resistance removing John's skin and stretching it over Marcus' body, effectively "keeping John alive" in the eyes of the resistance. That was abandoned (thank whomever) due to negative testings. Instead, they have John stabbed through back by a T-800, dying. To save his life, Marcus offers up his human heart. Although this is more believable than the skin fiasco, it's still a stretch of the imagination. It isn't just for shits and giggles, there IS a point to it, but I almost feel like the entire movie was written around the idea that comes with that point. (I know I'm being vague and, thus, confusing, but I don't want to give absolutely everything away. Hopefully, you'll see what I'm talking about if you watch the film. If not, ask me about it)

As a tie-in to the paragraph I just finished writing/you just finished reading, I want to comment on what I like about the Marcus/heart idea. Making Marcus a machine who still kept his humanity, who actually believes he is human, is interesting to ponder over. It shows the machines really don't understand what it is to live. Yes, they have A.I., but they're not really alive. Skynet has a plan in Terminator Salvation, and that plan actually works, but only to an extent. Marcus' unwavering belief in his humanity allows him to be naive and do things with the best intentions at heart. Still, things get fucked up. And yet, that same flaw that causes the problems for the resistance becomes the undoing of Skynet. Marcus, because the machines left him his "humanity", is able to choose which side he is on. Skynet may have built him, but helping the humans reminded him that, no matter where he came from, where he went was in his hands.

Finally, I want to make mention of something that even you--yes, YOU--may not want to read. This is a big spoiler. A BIG SPOILER, goddammit! It's already been talked about around the intrawebs a bit, but some of you may not have seen those conversations. Perhaps some of you did, and didn't believe it. Or didn't want to believe it. Well, I'm going to tell you the truth. So if you want to witness it with a virgin mind, go back to your porn or social networking or whatever it is you do on your computer. For everyone else, here it goes.


There has been talk of a certain actor making a cameo as a certain character. It is 100% true...kinda.

Last chance to bail. No?

Arnold Schwarzenegger (I spelled that right without even looking! Go me!) reprises his role as the T-800, but not in the way people would expect. Because of his political duties, Arnie had a very limited amount of time to contribute. Like none. So, instead of having him act out a part, they did a full 3D model of his face, and the filmmakers applied it to Roland Kickinger's body. This allowed Arnold to take his rightful place once more, and in a much younger body as well. Surprisingly, it looked really, really good.

I was aware that it could be coming, and when it finally happened, I geeked out a little bit.

So that's pretty much it. My review. Non-spoiled with a side of spoilers. I do recommend seeing it. Again, I just want to remind you: it's different than what we're used to, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily bad. And hey, we can always go back and watch the originals.

/3:40 AM

Update: I think it's only fair that I should post a link to Harry's review since I brought it up during the course of my own article. Also, I just read it in it's entirety, and although he does have some valid points, I still think it's better than he gives it credit for. Especially since Terminator Salvation isn't meant to be the end of the franchise.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Angels & Demons Review

Sorry this took awhile to get up. I wanted to get the review up sooner, but I needed time to ponder what it was I watched. I'm still kind of torn, but I figured I should slap something down. It'll be short.

Angels & Demons, 9:40, Friday evening. Wait, rewind. If you remember a couple of years back when The DaVinci Code came out, you couldn't wipe your ass without seeing fourteen bajillion (a real number) ads or hearing about some new protest over how that film was shitting sixteen different kinds of shit on religion. I think people took that film way, way, WAY too seriously, but I digress.

A&D, on the other hand, seemed to get kind of lost. Same director, same star, and yet I can count on both hands how many TV spots and theatrical trailers I saw for the film. I dunno.

So, lemme preface the actual review with my thoughts on DaVinci. I never read either of the books to completion, but I did start both of 'em. I went to see DaVinci in theaters (when something infiltrates the bathroom to gouge out my eyes with advertisements, I figured I'd better) back in the day, and actually liked it. It wasn't the greatest piece of cinema I've ever witnessed, but I thought it had some nifty ideas (none of which I felt were all that "evil"). It was a nice little puzzle movie with a decent cast and crew AND it gave me some food for thought.

Angels did not. It was a mystery and a race against time and, yeah, there was more religious stuff, but it didn't really offer anything worth pondering...well, besides whether or not I actually enjoyed it. Tom Hanks was back and he had to use his scientific mind to help figure out clues and save the Vatican. Stuff happened, people died, etc, etc. It had a lot of the workings of a decent thriller/action movie, but in the end I was just kind of meh.

The action, the direction, it was all pretty good, for the most part. The scenery was cool and the idea was alright. Still, there was just something... Let me put it this way: when the credits started to role and everyone stood up, I was pretty indifferent. I had somewhat enjoyed myself, but at the same time I was glad it was done. I think the only thing that really kept me going was the who-dunnit aspect.

Let me compare it to Wolverine. Where that was a movie that was of bad quality, it still managed to be somewhat fun--partly BECAUSE of how bad it was--and, thus, ended up with a 5.5 from me. Angels & Demons is going to receive the same overall score. Not because of bad quality but good entertainment (or vice versa) causing that score to meet somewhere in the middle, but because everything about it was just that: somewhere in the middle; not bad, not particularly good, just acceptable.

Ultimately, after time to consider it all, I think Angels & Demons was actually a pretty forgettable film. Sure, I'll remember the plot, but the details will get lost like tears in the rain.

Yes, that was a reference to Blade Runner. Why did I add it? I don't know. But since I did and we're now on the topic, if you haven't seen it, do so. Excellent film.

Angels & Demons: 5.5/10

Terminator Salvation will be watched tomorrow (Tuesday night/Wednesday morning) at midnight. That film, I hope, will be much more worthy of a labor-intensive review. That review should be up around Wednesday or Thursday.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Blockbuster Season

It appears I'm talking to myself on this blog. But, just in case anyone happens to stop by, I'm gonna keep on posting. Also, it's good for me to lighten my mental load a bit.

In case you haven't figured it out from my last couple of posts, the summer blockbuster season officially started last week with X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This is my favorite time of year; I love movies and I especially love movies that are hyped to all hell. So that's my new shtick. When the newest summer blockbuster is released, I'll more-likely-than-not be there. And once I get back from there, I'll be posting my thoughts on said movie. So, my non-existent audience, stay tuned for my reviews.

x X-Men Origins: Wolverine
x Star Trek
x Angeles and Demons
x Terminator Salvation
Drag Me to Hell
Land of the Lost
Year One
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Public Enemies
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Final Destination: Death Trip
Inglorious Basterds

To Boldly Go... the movies.

It's just a bit before midnight on Thursday and Tara and I just got home from Star Trek . Now, I was always a Star Wars, rarely--very rarely--a Star Trek fan. I've seen maybe 5 episodes of the original series, and somewhere around a season's worth of The Next Generation. To me, Star Trek was more akin to a space-based soap opera whereas Star Wars was action and cool special effects. Still, seeing the trailers for J.J. Abrams reboot of the Star Trek series got me a little jazzed.

So, how did it turn out? I know reviews have been littering the intrawebs for a couple of weeks already, but regardless, I'm gonna write me own and I'm definitely gonna repeat some of the same opinions. Star Trek makes me, a Star Wars child, want to go back and give the original "space soap opera" a try. This reboot had enough sci-fi action, sans the over-abundance of crappily used CGI, to give Star Wars a run for it's money. Well, no, I take that back; it pretty much decimates Episodes I-III, but still falls a little short of what the original Star Wars accomplished (c'mon, I'm not gonna turn my back on a childhood love that fast).

The Enterprise's crew were all likeable, IMO, the acting, spot-on. I've heard that Chekov (Anton Yelchin) rubbed people the wrong way a bit, which I can see, but he didn't bother me. Chris Pine, who I'd never even heard of before this reboot hit my radar, did a bang-up job as Kirk; he had all the charisma, cockiness, and command needed to pull of his role. Zachary Quinto was pretty much the only possible replacement for Leonard Nimoy's Spock, but that's fine seeing as he absolutely nailed it. Karl Urban, who'll I've always had a fondness for (along with anyone else who was in the Lord of the Rings), was pretty damn amazing as "Bones" McCoy. John Cho, known for his comedic roles, really pulled his weight as a serious character in Sulu's shoes. Zoe Saldana's portrayal of Uhura was one that made her instantly likable (and she wasn't bad on the eyes, either). And finally, my favorite actor--who I wish had more screen-time--was Scotty, played by the always-amazing Simon Pegg; instantly and unerringly likable.

Nero (Eric Bana), really the only baddy worth mentioning, was amazing. To have a villian who was a regular joe was refreshing. Instead of having some criminal mastermind, we have an everyman Romulan who watched his entire civilization destroyed, blames Spock and the Federation for not helping, and simply wants revenge. He's a "man" who just lost his way due to immense tragedy, and he's going about righting the wrongs the only way he knows how. Doesn't make him right or likable, but a part of you can almost understand why he's doing what he's doing.

Moving past the cast and on to the production value, Star Trek has way, way, WAY better effects than last week's Wolverine. The CGI used was restrained. Obviously a lot of CGI was necessary for this film, but it was employed ONLY when necessary. It was flashy, sure, but it wasn't at the expense of the story and the characters. First and foremost, it was apparent that J.J. made this film with the original series and the fans of that series in mind.

So yes, it does do the original series justice, just as it does that series' characters justice, but it doesn't create a dividing wall that leaves the fans satisfied and the newly-initiated scratching their heads. This film is complete in its presentation. Even someone who has never seen a single episode of Star Trek can sit down in a dark theater and understand what is being shown to them.

To me, even though it's only the second released, Star Trek is the fist summer blockbuster to truly be worthy of being called a summer blockbuster. It's fun, emotional, beautiful, and all-around engaging. If it came down to it, I'd recommend Star Trek above Wolverine, hands-down. See it in theaters. Hell, if it's available, see it in IMAX.


I'll be back next week with a review for Angels and Demons. The week after that, the McG (really, what kind of name is that?) sequel, Terminator Salvation, hits theaters and there'll also be a review there.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Wolverine: All Bark, Little Bite? Or Scratch? ::Some SPOILERS::

Let me start off by saying I didn't despise this movie. Quite the contrary, I actually liked it--to an extent. I liked it in much the same way I like Michael Bay films: they're flashy and mind-numbingly fun, but with little substance. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, on the other hand, had a bit (and I stress "bit") more substance, but a little less flash. Or the flash wasn't done as well, whichever you prefer.

Now, I was never an X-Men fanboy. Sure, I loved the cartoons growing up, but I didn't have an X-Men comic collection. I knew some of the basics, just not all. There are characters I know like the back of my hand, there are some I'm aware of but haven't gotten the formal introduction I'd prefer, and there are some that, when they pop up on screen, I'm left scratching my head in confusion. Wolverine, like with most people, falls into the first category, someone like Deadpool falls into the second, and someone like Agent Zero, the third. This has both it's advantages and disadvantages.

For the fans/fanboys/fangirls, the biggest problem arises: when the writers butcher a character that is beloved, blood will be shed. But for the general viewing audience who just wants a summer blockbuster, a lot of 'em won't know the changes that were made. I think it's gonna go like this: the bigger the fan you were or the X-Men of old, the more you're going to be disappointed in this film. If you know nothing about X-Men, you might STILL be disappointed, but your reasons for being so will be far less.

Because I don't know all of the characters' histories, I can't vouch for some of the butchery jobs that took place. Still, I've read enough gripes on the intranets to know it did happen: be forewarned. From what I could tell, even the characters with places close to our heart don't survived unscathed (i.e. Wolverine, Sabretooth, etc.). There are details that changed for the characters, but again, the more you know, the more you'll notice, the more you'll be let down.

So the official verdict on the characters: no one is going to be satisfied with the liberties they've taken. Even if you don't know some of 'em, there are still moments that are cringe-worthy.
The actors are kind of hit and miss. There's a line-up that, by normal standards, is quite impressive. Obviously, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine was an obvious choice from the trilogy, and really, it's a perfect match. Jackman IS Wolverine. What's more, Jackman is Wolverine and he's actually a decent actor. He, along with Liev, helps hold this movie together.

And yes, there's Liev Schreiber as Victor Creed, aka Sabretooth (who never inherits this name throughout the movie)(always a Victor, never a Sabre). He plays a much different role than Tyler Mane's portrayal in the first X-Men. He TALKS, for one. There's some history involved, as well. Liev pulled the character which could have been pure viciousness into realm of believability and something like "humanity", for lack of a better word.

Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool was alright. The character for Deadpool was one of the butchered, but still, when he showed up on screen, in our theater, there was a fanboy who wouldn't stop yelling "Deadpool, you fuckin' rock! Whoooo!" And then he disappears after 20 minutes. And then he shows up at the end. And he's butchered (er...yeah). He was cool to watch, but a little lacking in the flavor department. Also, Ryan Reynolds once again = Van Wilder. Just an FYI.

Dominic Monaghan, of whom I'm a massive fan, was underused but, as his character was completely unknown to me, what more could I expect. He played his part decently, for what it was. Danny Huston as Stryker was...yeah. I enjoy the actor, but in this role he was kind of meh. The list could go on. The actors (sans Hugh and Liev) were, for the most part, kind of coasting through their parts.

The special effects. Yeah. Let's just say there were points when they were less-than-special. There were some cool action sequences, to be sure. But it feels like many of them were thrown in just because. And maybe they were, cause it also appears as if some of them were last minute additions that maybe the budget didn't completely allow for. In other words, the CG was less than stellar in a few places.

So yeah, Wolverine, I felt, still kicks ass, but his movie, not so much. It's flashy and entertaining on a "holy shit, lets see what kind of crazy effects and action sequences we get" level, but as a quality movie, it's a bit lacking. Here is the rub, tho. For all of it's flaws, I still enjoyed it. I definitely liked it better than X3, and I possibly liked it better than X-Men. But let me be clear, it's a different kind of like. X-Men and X2 had a quality and a flash factor to them. They were more all-around good films. This is more of a fun film just for a bit of gooey-brain entertainment (like Michael Bay, with worse special effects).

I can't say whether I recommend X-Men Origins: Wolverine or not. Each person will be different. This is actually one of those movies where reading my thoughts on the film could make or break the experience for some people.

I give it a 5.5/10, but not because it's GOOD, but because it's FUN. Remember, disappointment will be had. Even I was bummed about how they handled some of the characters.

Wolverine IMDb

Updated: I changed my score from 7/10 to 5.5/10.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I'm Back! (again)

After getting paid yesterday, my first order of business was to go pick up a new LIVE subscription. Success! 13 months of LIVE for me. ::happy dance::

Also, for anyone who listens to the OXM podcast, I got a little recognition on yesterday's episode (number 159). I won the Name That Xbox Sound Effect contest, so Ryan and Dan obviously mentioned me. What I found funny was the amount of detail they went into in regards to Bemidji; they actually took the time to do a bit of research. Everyone still assumes Minnesotans are backwoods hicks who sound like they do in Fargo, but oh well, what can ya do. Anyways, it was nothing too spectacular, but being up in the boondocks (hence the in-good-fun jabs from OXM), it's nice to know that the outside world exists and, in turn, knows we exist as well.

Check out OXM.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

KNOWING that SPOILERS may follow is in your best interest

So I went to Knowing tonight. Sure, I'm a couple of weeks late, but oh well. I was thinking the movie looked good from the trailers, and I've liked Alex Proyas' other films (The Crow, Dark City, I, Robot), so I finally drug myself into the theater. I've gotta say, I'm glad I did.

The film has an interesting enough premise: a girl in 1959 writes a shit-ton of numbers on a sheet of paper and adds it to her class' time capsul. 50 years later, the time capsul is dug up and the paper uncovered. Nic Cage, being the super genius we all know he is, discovers that the numbers relate to every major disaster that has happened over the past 50 years (with 3 yet to occur). From there it's a little mystery, some cool effects, some distubring situations, and holy fuckness.

The acting isn't too shabby. A little bit of over-the-topness from Nicky, but what do you expect? The guy has had something of a losing streak lately, and it's nice to see him in a movie I'll actually admit to watching. Rose Byrne is in the film and she's a little--excessive at times, but for the most part acceptable. But let's face it, I didn't go to this movie for Oscar-worthy acting, and I don't think anyone else did either.

So what DID we go for? Glad you asked. The shit hitting the fan, to put it bluntly. This is a sci-fi film, but it's also a disaster movie. As such, there has to be some cool scenarios. Rest assured, there are. The effects kind of flip-flopped between being excellent to being "just decent", but the content of the scene as a whole really kept me from being overly critical of the CG and whatnot. There's a plane crash that looks badass (and, to be honest, I was a little shocked by the brutality of it), a subway crash that has it's ups and downs, and, well, I won't spoil the final hoorah...yet.

Note: Major SPOILERS follow.

Now I want to get into the part of this movie that really made me appreciate it. I think this movie did an excellent job of appealing to both sides of a never-ending debate: science or mircales, evolution or creation, chance or divine power.

Although on the surface they say that the events in this film are the result of chance or science (mechanical malfunctions, weather, and solar flares, to be precise), one could also watch Knowing and see all kinds of religious symbolism. Towards the end, the aliens (yes, there are aliens involved) take on an angelic appearance once they revert to their true form (a type of wing can be seen), and it can also be interpretted that the aliens act as the voice of God (a higher power is speaking to the chosen). On top of that, they create a type of "Noah's Ark" to save the human race from total destruction (Armageddon).

And then, of course, if there is a God and if He created the entire universe, it would stand to reason He created the aliens. So, thinking back to Dogma, we remember that hearing God would kill us puny mortals, and therefore an intermediary would be needed to speak on God's behalf. Thus, the aliens bring a message from God to save humanity just before the End. Like I said, religious symbolism.

The film has its flaws, but it was entertaining, and it walks a line similar to the one The Exorcism of Emily Rose did--it gives the audience, who is divided by their beliefs of spirituality and science (or however you want to say it), a scenario, and then allows them to draw their own conclusions, find out what it means to them. Some see a freak natural occurance and aliens, others see God's wrath and the angels He has sent to save the chosen few. Two sides of the same coin? You decide.

I may be agnostic, but I can definitely appreciate a film that is put together in such a way as to not choose one side over another, but instead to work towards uniting--or at least accepting--both sides. Just because I'm not religious doesn't mean I abhor all things religious.

Anywho, Knowing is well crafted and entertaining. Definitely worth a watch.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

10 years later and there's still a splinter in my mind

Way back in 1999, two relatively unknown brothers-turned-directors brought us one of the most groundbreaking, imaginative sci-fi/action movies of all time. I know people say that about shit all the time, but IMO, this time it's for realz.

The Matrix was a pioneer in special effects, throwing enough bullets and fire at the camera to take on Ted Nugent while, at the same time, introducing the mainstream movie-viewing audiences to bullet time (whether or not they actually invented bullet time is still debated). and beyond that, under all of that spit and polish, there was something more. For one of the first times, I saw a film that not only kept me entertained on a glorious, action-packed level, but also on a deep, intellectual level as well. To this day, I can still throw in the Wachowski Brothers' masterpiece (and I do believe it to be a masterpiece) and be completely enthralled in the world(s) they have created. The effects still, for the most part, hold up, and the story is still as engaging and thought-provoking as ever.

Keanu is still clueless--but in this role it works--and Laurence "I am Morpheus" Fishburn is kicking ass in all his bald glory; Carrie-Anne Moss, who, until this movie, was unknown to me, pulls her weight as the ass-kicking dominatrix love interest; and finally, this is where Joey Pants and Hugo "Agent Elrond" Weaving were first brought to my attention. What I'm trying to say is that this cast is solid without being an ensamble of grade-A pretty boys and girls.

The plot, for those not in the know, is about a computer generated dream world that is actually the world we live in every day. Keanu is Neo who wants to know what the Matrix is. Morpheus is the guy who can enlighten him. I'd tell you more but, as Morpheus says, "No one can tell you what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself." Regardless, its name kicking and ass taking to the max times infinity. Alright, I may be exaggerating a bit. Seriously though, there's enough action and explosions to make any Die Hard fan happy; enough effects to amaze you and make you hate George Lucas for making us overdose on Jar-Jar; and enough philosophical depth holding it all together to make you wonder why geeks and nerds aren't getting laid more.

Am I gushing? Maybe, but so what. I'm a fanboy. There, I said it. But it's not without reason. The Matrix is a damn fine film. One of my top 5, actually. It may not be that way for everyone, but I still suggest you give it a chance.

And what better way than the newly released 10th Anniversary Blu-ray edition of The Matrix. Go. Now.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Palette-Swap Ninja = Good Music

Courtesy of Dan Amrich and Jude Kelley, Palette-Swap Ninja creates parodies of popular songs, changing the lyrics so that they relate to the gaming community. Really, the songs are quite genius. Check out their site, listen to their songs, spread the word.


So my LIVE subscription ran out. Damn my being broke! Well, not broke, just a college student who can't get around the fact that there are priorities. Damn my sensibilities! Anyways, one of these nice fine days I'll drop a 50 on the 13 month subscription card and then I'll be sittin' pretty for quite awhile. Until then, I play with myself... Wait. That came out wrong. Alright, no it didn't.

Seriously, I'll be picking up that card soon. That's right, I'm only days away from pwning n00bs (and zombies) once more.

Anywho, my gamertag is as follows: dolenraug

Got that? Good. Feel free to send me an invite. Gaming is always, and by always I mean sometimes, more fun with others.

Rated R? No problem. Rated Mature? No chance.

March 27, 2009

Why oh why do video games continually get the shaft? A debate as old as time (or at least as old as video games with more depth than a wheel of cheese eating dots), why are video games held to different standards than, say, movies? If a movie is rated R, it has a list of details explaining that rating. If a game is rated Mature, it also has a list explaining that rating. Yet a Mature rated game is judged more harshly than an R rated film.

Why? Because games are, quote unquote, "for children"? Look at today's gaming community and you'll see the demographic is across the board. But, apparently, that's besides the point. It's a game and it's interactive and, whether it's meant for adults or not, children can still get a hold of them and play them.

Yeah, 'cause kids have such a hard time seeing R rated films without an adult.

I'll admit that there are a lot of games that are rated "Mature" but are quite the opposite, but that's not what the rating is saying. It's telling the consumer, whether the person making the purchase is a kid, an adult, or a parent, that the game is for a mature audience. That means that it is recommended for people who can handle the type of situations placed in the game. Much the same way as an R rated film is telling the audience that there are mature situations in the film and only mature people should view it. So seriously, what's the deal?

Grand Theft Auto lets you murder and steal and blah blah blah. It's rated Mature, the consumer is made aware of the graphic nature of the content, and yet it still gets ripped apart by the media. Mass Effect has a sex scene, a tastefully done sex scene between two consenting adults, and it's the talk of the nation. Why? How many movies have murder in them? You can see a PG-13 movie and have people getting murdered (granted, the result is pretty shitty when it comes to entertainment standards, but I digress)! Jeez, freakin' Titanic had Kate Winslet's chesticles out there for a PG-13 audience to ogle.

So I ask again: If a video game is given a Mature rating, why should it be judged any differently than an R rated movie? The ESRB applies the rating and what in the game is responsible for that rating. We, as consumers, should be aware of this. If you're not, well, it's you're own fault. Read the labels. They're there for a reason.

Breaking it down

A follow-up to the last post.

March 26, 2009

Breaking it down as simply as possible:

Resident Evil 1, 2, 3, CV = Alien = horror
Resident Evil 4, 5 = Aliens = action

I'm a big fan of both movies, but I think Alien is superior. I'm always a horror guy, and Ridley Scott made an excellent horror movie with Alien. That film was a prime example of survival horror in movie terms.

On the other hand, Jim Cameron took Ridley's film and the ideas he put forth and took it to a new level. There are still horror elements in Aliens, but now, instead of being weaponless against one tough baddy, the heroes are armed to the teeth but the enemy has upped the ante.

Even in structure, the two are similar. In the original REs, you're exploring a confined area, similar to the Nostromo. In RE 4 or 5 you're movie from area to area within a region, similar to the marines moving around the colony on LV-426.

Regarding Resident Evil

I'm a Resident Evil fanboy. To most of you, this isn't a shock. I've been playing Resident Evil for more than a decade. I've purchased an entire system--the Gamecube--based only on the fact the Resident Evil was going to be "exclusive" to that system. Recently, I reserved my copy Resident Evil 5--not the generic $60 version but the $90 Collector's Edition. Friday afternoon, I walked into Gamestop and picked up that copy of Resident Evil 5. Sunday, I completed the story. And I ENJOYED it.

Don't get me wrong, it had its share of problems, my biggest one being how the ending played out, but it was still a great game. I'm already playing through it again, going after achievements and trying to unlock all the little things. And yet, I'm finding myself slightly unsatisfied.

For all of the new game's greatness, it leaves my wanting. Not wanting more. I guess I'd have to say it has me wanting LESS. Well, maybe not less, but something else. Something OLD. I love Resident Evil 4, I love Resident Evil 5, but I miss Resident Evil. I miss the horror. I miss tight confines, zombies, Umbrella, fixed cameras and limited ammo. A lot of people have said it--"Resident Evil isn't survival horror anymore; it's action."--and I've agreed. But RE4 and RE5 are great, regardless. And I don't fault them. They needed something fresh and they found a working concoction. Kudos to Capcom.

Still, over time, I realized that, although they're great, they're missing a lot of the things I loved about the series in the beginning. As much as back-tracking pissed me off in RE 1-whatever, I'd welcome it back with open arms; RE 5 was pretty much a linear game. Those fixed cameras may be archaic now, but they were fantastic for creating tension, never allowing you to see what may or may not be up ahead. The new games still contain a story, and the story is still damn good, but it almost takes a back seat to the in your face action elements. I liked the old days of one or two slow moving zombies in a hallway, lots of eerie sound effects (and silence), and taking the time to really appreciate the game's design and story.

Maybe it's just me, but after years of playing Resident Evil 1 and 2, I would hold fond memories of the environments in which those games take place. I can picture that mansion's layout like it's my own house. I know the nooks and crannies of the Raccoon Police Department like they're the ones signing my checks. But these new games? Yeah, the villages are cool. Sure, the castle in 4 is huge, or the compounds, or whatever. But they're linear. You move THROUGH them instead of lingering IN them. I can see them in my head, but I don't feel anything about them.

I know, to most of you reading this, I sound like an obsessive fanboy/borderline nutcase. Maybe so. But these games have entertained me for years. Actually, scratch that. These aren't just games. This is a world, nay, a universe. I've played the games, I've seen the movies, I've read the books, I've researched the background. Like Tolkien's Middle-Earth, I've invested so much of myself in the world Capcom created, its like a second (or third, after Middle-Earth) home to me.

I dunno. I'm rambling. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the new places Resident Evil has gone are fantastic. Yeah. The new games are. I'll play 'em, again and again. But still, to me, I enjoy 'em more as games, as an addendum to the universe instead of the as the universe itself. Does that make sense? Does any of it make sense? Maybe you just have to be in my mindset, be as passionate about this as I am. Maybe I'm just wrong. I dunno. Food for thought.

Regardless, if Capcom keeps making 'em, I'll keep playing 'em.

P.S. You know, I know what I need. Do to Resident Evil 2 what was done to the original Resident Evil. Spruce it up. I don't care if it's 3 or 4 or 5 hours. I don't care if there's no Mercenaries mini-games. I want a good, creepy story and a small, personal environment. Capcom, give me the RPD the way you gave me the Arklay Mansion the second time around.

Who watches the WATCHMEN? I do!

After nearly a quarter of the century, the book that was quoted as being "un-filmable" is finally hitting the big screen. So, did Zack Snyder (300) do the source material justice, or is this just one more butchered adaptation?

Normally, I throw in a little spice, a little background, with my reviews. This time, I'm skipping that part. If you want to know how much trouble this film went through in the process of getting made, or if you don't know and want to find out what the Watchmen is about, look it up on your own time. Otherwise, I'm going to assume those of you who are reading this want to know how the movie stacks up according to my own opinion.

First off: As a fan of the graphic novel, I thought the film was great. Is it perfect? No. Does it have its share of problems? Absolutely. Does that mean you should skip it? Absolutely NOT.

Watchmen is very dense. There are a number of characters, all with their own history, to keep track of; there are stories WITHIN the story. Basically, you've got an onion in your hands; layers upon layers upon layers. The depth is astounding. To try and put that into a 2 hour movie would be impossible. It was hard enough with a 2 hour and 45 minute time-frame. For me, this movie did what Lord of the Rings did nearly a decade ago, it condensed the heart of the source material into something digestible for the common audience. This is the fast food version of the graphic novel; you get the gist in short order, but it comes at the price of missing elements. Things were left out along the way, but by and large, they were secondary to the heart of the story.

That story is still there, but I still have to question: will a non-reader of the Watchmen novel understand what's happening? I went with Tara, but since it was a midnight showing and she's already in bed, I wasn't able to ask what she got out of the film. Even as someone who has read the book, I feel like maybe the film feels a little too disjointed to be absorbed as easily as needed. Don't get me wrong, it happens in much the same way the graphic novel, but it happens much quicker. The audience has all of these characters and their relationships and their history thrown at them. On top of that, they have all of this information about conspiracies and nuclear war with Russia to wrap their minds around. Like I said: an onion.

The acting was, for the most part, pretty good. Others have said it (and there's a possibility that their opinions may have influenced my own, so take it with a grain of salt), but Malin Akerman (Silk Spectre) was a little wooden. Not horribly so, just not quite up to snuff.

On the other hand, Jackie Earle Haley was da bomb (oh yes, I went there) as Rorschach. Again, others have said it, but this opinion is my own. There is no other Rorschach. Tara said his voice bothered her because he sounded just like Christian Bale's portrayal of Batman. This is true, but it's just the way it had to be. Seriously. Pick up the graphic novel and look at his jabber bubble. I'll wait. Got a copy? Ok. Now find Rorschach in there. Good? Good. See, the bubble has jagged edges. When I saw that, I read it as a gravelly voice. Apparently I wasn't the only one. It fits. Moving on. No, not from Rorschach, from his VOICE. I'm just getting started on Rorschach. JEH played the character with just the right nuances. He was crazy in the right ways. He was, for a man of his stature, one hell of a bad ass. "You don't understand. I'm not locked in here with you. You're locked in here with ME!" He was the character I cheered for because he was the one kicking so much ass. Was he really crazy? Or did he just remove the filter that rest of us see the world through? You decide. Anyways, pure greatness.

Billy Crudup as Doc Manhatten. He's blue, he teleports, he builds a weird, new-wave glass condo on Mars, it's all there. I think the part was played pretty well. My only problem is his voice. I don't know what I was expecting, but somehow, that wasn't quite it. I think it's that, for someone with so much power, well, his voice doesn't convey that. Maybe it's just me. Regardless, that "just me" comment is just a nitpick. Also, beware of a multitude of glowing blue penises in this film. They pop up quite often (no pun intended).

Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl. What to say. I loved it. To me, Nite Owl was the sensible one. He's the Batman of the Watchmen universe, relying on his gadgets and intelligence to get shit done. He's also human. He was once a superhero and now he's an out-of-work superhero who put on a few pounds around the midsection. He missess the old job. It was his livelihood. So much his livelihood that he has problems getting it up. Yeah. If that doesn't make you feel something for his character...for shame! Really though, Wilson gave Nite Owl a believability that I can't quite put my finger on. He was the sense of reason. He was your voice in the movie. I found myself relating to him the most (sans the lack of a healthy blood flow, if you catch my drift--that was remedied later in the movie, BTW).

The Comedian. First "hero" seen in the book, first one seen in the film. Played by Jeffery Dean Morgan who has really been popping up on my radar in the "kick's ass" category, which is hard for me to admit. Why? Because the only things I've seen him in are TV's Grey's Anatomy and P.S. I Love You. That's right, entertainment primarily for the female audience. Tara watches 'em, I watch them with her. It happens. Still, every time I've seen JDM, his characters are just extremely likeable guys. Ironic, since the Comedian is the most despicable character in Watchmen. Still, there were those moments when, despite the baaaaad shit you've seen him do, you enjoyed seeing the Comedian. THAT is what JDM brought to the character.

Finally, Ozymandias, played by Matthew Goode. Can't say the guy has ever blipped on the radar. Period. I don't know if this movie will change that. Don't get me wrong, he did alright here, but only alright. There were some nuances he brought--like giving Ozzy a slight touch of a German accent while among friends while keeping a strictly American accent while in the public eye--to the character, but nothing he did is going to make me jump out of my seat in excitement the next time I see the trailer for a Matthew Goode film. Passable.

Now, the story. Like I mentioned, things are missing. The biggest thing: the squid. If you don't know what I'm talking about, no worries. I may actually say that this was...a...good...change. Maybe...? Let's face it, a giant squid is hard to fathom. The change they made just works better for a mega motion picture like this. Maybe it's blasphemy, maybe not. Either way, I said it. In some ways, I think it helps make things more cohesive.

I could go on about other small things I noticed were missing, but I'm not going to. For one, this is a 12 issues comic series condensed, like I said, into 2 hours and 45 minutes. Yet that's not the full film. There is also a 3+ hour version with additional scenes, and a 3 hour and 20 minute ultimate version with the animated Tales of the Black Freighter to be spliced in on top of the additional scenes. The studios allow for a limited amount of time for theatrical movies. Once I see the FULL versions, then I'll go through the missing bits.

The effects were well done. There was noticeable CGI, but I've learned that sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. After all, it wasn't Sci-Fi channel original movie CGI.

The music. Well, I liked most of the songs they chose, although occasionally they felt out of place. Another reviewer, probably on Ain't It Cool, mentioned this as well. Tyler Bates' score just fit. I didn't feel like it was overly imposing. It added to scenes, but didn't overpower them.

This isn't a film for everyone. It can be pretty slow. It can be pretty dense. It, most likely, will require more than one viewing. But I do believe it to be a quality film. In all honesty, I don't think anyone could have ever done it better. Like the Lord of the Rings, if you watch the Watchmen, you'll be given the heart of the story they want you to know. Things will be changed, things will be missing, but by the time the credits role, the essence has remained, more-or-less, in tact.

Ok, so I'm starting to go cross-eyed now. 4 AM. Yay. Is this a coherent review? Probably not. I'll re-read it tomorrow and I'm sure an open-palmed slap to the forehead will follow. Alas, in my current state of mind, I can do no better. I just needed to get my thoughts written down while the film was still fresh in my mind. Bare with me.

I also want to add that tonight was only my first viewing of Watchmen. I hope to go again soon--as early as tomorrow night (Friday)--to view it in less of a "geeked-out" state of mind. So yeah, these are preliminary thoughts. I'm sure I'm missing things I wanted to comment on, I'm sure there are things badly worded, and I'm sure this is way too fucking long for most people to still be reading, but I'm still typing.


From the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Henry Selick, comes Coraline, the story of a young girl who discovers an "other world" where life is always happy...or so she thinks. One part Alice in Wonderland, one part--naturally--The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline is a fantastic film employing the well known but seldom used stop-motion animation.

Based on the book by Neil Gaiman (Beowulf, Stardust), Coraline is about a girl, Coraline Jones (played spot-on by Dakota Fanning), who is unhappy about the way her life is playing out. Her parents, both writers, seem to have no time for her, and thus Coraline is left to her own devices in her new home. Stalked by a creepy Quasimodo type named Wybie and his mangy, feral cat, Coraline spends her time exploring her new place of residence. It is here that she finds a small doorway that leads to an "other world". Just like her own universe, the other world has dopplegangers of those she knows. Everything seems wonderful there, as long as you can look past (no pun intended) the whole having buttons for eyes thing. Coraline soon realizes everything isn't quite so happy on the other side of the doorway, and it's up to her to set things right and save herself and those around her.

This is a film based on a children's book, but I was surprised at some of imagery included. Things do seem very magical, but at the same time, I was always dealing with this very strong sense of being disturbed. Everything was too perfect. Inanimate objects come to life and are at first playful, but soon become obstructions in Coraline's path to freedom. Her "other mother" is loving in the beginning, but it soon becomes clear that she is something more wicked. A wolf--or maybe spider--in sheep's clothing, the "other mother" wants to fit Coraline with a brand new set of shiny black button-eyes and keep her there--forever. I have to say, this film may require another viewing in theaters. Not only is it a spectacle that I fully endorse for theatrical viewing, but it was almost a movie that instigated sensory overload. I just got out of it and yet there was so much to look at that I may have missed something. I KNOW what I saw and I know the things I saw gave me a strong sense of unease, but I can't describe it here. Suffice it to say, you must go see this film.

Don't get me wrong, you're probably not going to have nightmares (although some of the younguns might), but like I said, it just evokes this FEELING; something you can't quite put your finger on. Seeing the "other mother" in her true form, seeing ghosts of the children that came before Coraline, seeing people who are so normal become button-eyed zombies, the imagery is like a nightmare come to life. Nothing quite so strong as to make you wake up screaming, but the kind of "what the fuck" dream that will make you snap awake and question your sanity.

Also, for a PG movie, wow was there some seeming inappropriate imagery when it came to women in the film. One of the characters, the first time I saw her, I was nearly dumbstruck at the size of her rack. It's freakin' clay for cryin' out loud! In a kids movie! No, seriously, we're talking FFF size here. BEACHBALLS. And then they show her later, on a stage, in an opera, wearing nothing from the waist up but PASTIES! And yes, there was even physics applied to 'em; she walks, they bounce. Just seemed to me to be a bit much for a PG movie made for children.

Still, this 22 year old thinks this may be in his top 10 films of all-time. Granted, I'm coming down from that first-time high that comes from experiencing something that astounded, but that's why I said "may be". I wanna watch it again before I give a solid vote of "yay" or "nay".

Regardless, this film cannot be overlooked. It is, technically, a feat of wonders. The animation is incredible. And I have to give it to Dakota, she really holds up her end of the film. Actually, the acting all around was top notch. A little over-the-top at times, but it was what was called for. The 3D, although I didn't see it in a theater capable of such, was NOT over-the-top. It wasn't a barrage of things flying of the screen. Instead, the 3D was used to make the world come to life, to really give it a sense of DEPTH.

I know, I know! I'm ranting and raving and rambling on (as usual). Cut me a little slack though, it's nearly midnight and I just wanted to hammer this thing out. I'm sure it's convoluted but I'm gonna give you readers out there the benefit of the doubt; you'll be able to sift through the muck and find the review--a shining one--I have planted within.

To summarize, I highly, HIGHLY recommend this movie. I know Rapids didn't get it, but Bemidji did and, for that, I'm thankful. This is a film I'm so so glad to have experienced in the theaters, on the big screen. I may be praising this thing to high heaven, and that might get some of your hopes high--too high. So think of it this way: if you like the imagery of films like The Nightmare Before Christmas or James and the Giant Peach (not to mention that weird creepiness), and if you're a fan of fantasy along the lines of Alice in Wonderland, I'd bet dollars to donuts (no idea what that actually means) that you'd find enjoyment here.

And yes, this will be added to my collection upon it's release. On Blu-Ray, no less.

For the 1-Up Crew

Although this will be meaningless to a majority of those on my friends list, there may be a few of you who know of what I speak.

Recently (though not too recently because I was slow in writing this), 1-Up was bought out by UGO. After all was said and done, a massive amount of the 1-Up staff was let go. With these changes, fans of 1-Up were all dealt a devastating blow. But that's besides the point. The main thing I'm writing about is the fact that many ambitious, talented, deserving individuals are now without jobs. So, as a fan, I just want to offer my support to those who have fallen on hard times.

What's more, those who are left at 1-Up, those who had to watch their friends and co-workers leave the office for the last time, don't blame yourselves. You, just like those who have now moved on to other things, are hard workers, and it wasn't your fault that these events came to pass.

To everyone from 1-Up, past and present, I wish you the best of luck and I will be keeping an eye out for all of your future projects.

Past podcasts from 1-Up are still available for download through iTunes (and, I'm sure, through other means as well). Some of the crew have shown up on a new podcast, Rebel FM. Check it out for updates on what those individuals are up to, as well as their thoughts on everything that transpired.

Valentine's Day Came Early And Wow Was It Fun (SPOILERS)

If I were British, I'd call My Bloody Valentine a lot of bloody fun! Get it? 'cause the British say things like "bloody" and "cheerio" and I really have no idea what cereal has to do with anything, but I digress.

Patrick Lussier (Dracula 2000) helms the remake of the 1981 classic, My Bloody Valentine. The original follows a killer stalking the residents of a mining community on Valentine's Day. Granted, that's not the full extent of the story, but we're focusing on the remake this time around. If you ARE interested in the original, it was recently re-released as a special edition DVD.

As for the remake, well, I'm sure you've seen the tsunami of TV spots advertising it and it's gimmick. The thing is, it's not a gimmick--not completely. See, being in the ass-end of nowhere, my local theater isn't equipped with a 3D setup. Thus, my viewing tonight was in good ol' 2D. Regardless, I still had a hell of a time.

3D has come a long way since the '80s. I'm sure movies like Jaws 3(D) and Friday the 13th Part 3(D) left a bad taste in your guys' mouth as they did mine. Now, although 3D scenes are still recognizable, they're no longer glaringly cheesy. Although I recommend seeing this in a 3D theater, that aspect is a perk, not a necessity; 2D is still a blast.

With the 3D out of the way, let me delve into the plot. In the beginning, one of our main characters causes a collapse in the local mine. The miners, trapped behind a wall of rubble, are awaiting rescue with a dwindling air supply. Soon, the debris is cleared but there's only one man left alive: Harry Warden. He murdered the others so they wouldn't use up his air. Regardless, Warden is in a coma. One year later, he awakens in the hospital and goes on a rampage, mutilating the staff and patients before making his way back to the mine, now abandoned. Being abandoned, the mind makes the perfect place for a party; local kids, including our accident prone protagonist and a few other supporting characters, are present. And then Harry shows up. What follows is a gruesome trip into the world of '80s slasher-dom (yeah, I'm pretty sure I just made that word up). Before the cops arrive and stop Warden, he has caused the death of 22 people (including the hospital massacre). Our main characters survive, of course. Jump ahead 10 years. Our main characters are still around, except for Mr. Accident-prone. He actually returns to sell the mine now that his father has done. Being the 10th year anniversary, it seems that the past won't stay buried, and neither will Harry Warden. Gore, gratuitous nudity, and awesome special effects ensue.

The acting is actually pretty well done. There are a few cringe-worthy line deliveries but, all-in-all, I can't complain (it IS a slasher film). The actors are all pretty much up-and-coming actors (Jensen Ackles, Kerr Smith, Jaime King, etc.) with one notable exception: Tom Atkins. Most of you won't recognize the name nor the man to whom the name belongs, but he's, how do I say this...he's kind of a big deal. Well, to classic horror fans, he is. A few of his notable performances include John Carpenter's The Fog, Halloween 3, and the virtually unknown cult classic Night of the Creeps. His appearance is just a little more icing on the cake for us fanboys.

The gore is a lot of fun. Every kill is done with a pick-axe and, honestly, I'm fine with that; it fits the killer's character. People are eviscerated and impaled. Some have their eyes stabbed out (I stress the word out) or their jaws ripped off. Pick-axe this, pick-axe that. To quote Harry Knowles over at Ain't It Cool News: "Another title could have been 101 WAYS TO DIE VIA PICK-AXE, and man... doesn't that sound like great 3D fun?" My answer to that is not only does it sound like a lot of fun, it IS a lot of fun. I'm pretty sure I had an impish little grin on my face the entire time I was plopped down in that seat.

And guys, if a pile of dead bodies aren't enough, there's a 5 minute full frontal nudity scene to drool over. FEMALE full frontal nudity. Oh yeah, a midget is involved as well! Wait, that sounds wrong...but it's oh-so right! Settle down. Before you go getting all bent outta shape, It's not in the way you're thinking.

Really, I have to recommend this movie. It's not going to win any Oscars, but if you're looking for a good slasher film, this can wrastle with the best of 'em. See it in 3D if you can, but 2D works as well. It's an hour and forty minutes of fun. What more do you want for your money?

Head over to Ain't It Cool News for other reviews as well. Here's a link to Harry's:
Ain't It Cool

Welcome to the club...

This should be fairly short.

Today, on the Dead Pixels podcast--which I listen to while I work--the guys pointed out how zombies are becoming mainstream. Although the thought had crossed my mind, I'd never really, I mean REALLY, thought about it before.

See, those of you who know me also know that I've been watching horror movies since around the time I started walking. I grew up on things like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Friday the 13th, etc. Why? Because my mom enjoyed those movies. Once I started to get older, when we'd go to rent movies, I'd start picking other things out. Child's Play, Children of the Corn, Pumpkinhead, The Thing, the list goes on and on. So, somewhere between the age of 5 and 10, I eventually discovered Dawn of the Dead. Even though I enjoyed it, I was still too young to fully appreciate it. Regardless, after that, zombie films invaded our VCR.

Then, in early 1998, I decided to sell my Nintendo and my SNES in order to buy a PlayStation. After a successful transaction, the first game I picked up was the recently released Resident Evil 2. Boom, I was down for the count. From that moment on, zombies were cemented in my mind; they became my favorite type of "monster".

You see, for a lot of people, zombies mean nothing. "They're just people. They don't have fangs or claws, they're not fast. What's so scary about 'em?" That! Right there! Everything you just mentioned! (or rather everything I just mentioned playing the role of you) Place yourself in the survivors' situation. The world has gone to hell and only a few small pockets of humanity have survived--and they're dwindling fast. Your enemy? Your mom. Or your dad. Or your brother or sister, your neighbor, your teacher, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, the guy that flips burgers down at Micky D's, the mail man... Or, if the enemy succeeds, the enemy is now YOU. It's an infection. The survivors are outnumbered by the people that no longer are. They're surrounded by these...these "things" that USED to be family, friends, etc. If you were fighting to survive and a zombie was coming at you, could YOU pull the trigger? Yes? What if it was your husband or wife? Could you do it then? The survivors have a choice to make: kill indiscriminately or be eaten alive.

All of that, well, that's my love for zombies and zombie movies talking; a glimpse into my mind. It's scary because it's personal. Because unlike other movies with only one monster to escape from, there is no escape in zombie movies; they're everywhere.

Beginning in the late '60s and continuing through the '70s and '80s, zombie movies were going pretty strong. We had Romero's Dead Trilogy (Night, Dawn & Day), we had films like Re-Animator, Zombi, The Beyond, and more. Then, in the '90s they pretty much dropped off. Sure we still had Resident Evil games, but I think those are what might have caused the genre's revival.

See, for awhile there I was the geeky kid who liked the weird shit. Not that anyone gave me a hard time with it; thankfully, the people at Greenway, my friends, we didn't have to be exactly alike to BE friends. I was a geek (still am) and it didn't matter. But now... Now, it seems the thing that I was a fanatic over is now becoming popular on a wider level.

In 2002, Danny Boyle directed 28 Days Later--not a "classic" zombie movie but, IMO, a zombie movie none the less. The same year we also saw Resident Evil hit the big screen. Two years later, the master himself, George Romero, went back to his roots and made his fourth Dead movie. 2004 also had the release of Zack Snyder's (300, the upcoming Watchmen) remake of Romero's classic, Dawn of the Dead. Since then we've had more Resident Evils (movies and games), a Day of the Dead remake, Shaun of the Dead, the Dead Rising video game, the Left 4 Dead video game, Diary of the Dead, the as-yet-unnamed sequel to Diary of the Dead, 28 Weeks Later, and on, and on, and on.

If you understand media then you know that hardly anything is made unless a predecessor succeeded at it first. That means that, since we keep getting more and more zombies, people are making zombies a success. What happened? Zombies have been around forever. They've been a pretty strong presence since 1968 when Romero started his series with Night of the Living Dead. So why now? What has changed? What made the things that added to my geeky image move into the popular mainstream? Once, it was a minority thing. Now, it seems it's cool to love zombies.

And although this was mainly about zombies, the Dead Pixels guys had one other point: Watchmen. Watchmen has been around since the mid 1980's. Now, I'll admit that I only read Watchmen for the first time around a year ago. But the thing is, I read fairly regularly and I've heard plenty of good things about Watchmen. The reason it took so long for me to actually pick it up was no more than the simple fact that no bookstore around me ever had it and when I did get to a bookstore that DID have it, I wasn't thinking about getting it and so it completely slipped my mind. Now, does that mean had that not been the case I would have read it in 1992? No. I first appeared on my radar in the early 2000s, so I may have gotten to it around then. But I digress.

The point is, I finally read it. It's fantastic. I highly, HIGHLY recommend it. And to top it off, not long after I finished it, I found out Zack Snyder (mentioned above) was making it into a film. Joy! When I saw the trailer before the Dark Night over the summer, well, ask my girlfriend; I was as giddy as a schoolgirl. It. Was. Amazing.

And now the film has been gaining momentum. The hype is unreal. People saw the trailer, many with no idea what it was, and thought it was cool looking. Then there's been all the controversy about which production studio has the rights. The media has been in a frenzy over this film. The public, well, it seems the vast majority think of it only in terms of the movie. As they said in the DP podcast: "Rorschach is the next Joker." People are gonna go nuts over this movie but only because it's a movie. Many are going to completely miss that this was a graphic novel, a highly celebrated graphic novel, long before it was a film.

This has gone on for far, far too long. I'm sorry, I lied. I thought I'd be able to keep it short but, alas, we see how that's worked out. I'm not even sure what exactly my point to all this is. I THINK that it was something along the lines of: "People are jumping on the bandwagon (not necessarily bad), and they're going to enjoy things like zombies and Watchmen. But you have to ask yourself, can a person really appreciate what something is without knowing where it came from?" I guess I'm just wondering if people are looking at things as the new fad. Are they "cool" or "popular" because they're really cool or popular? Or is it because it seems to be cool to think that these things are cool? Will they eventually just fade into the background again, loved only by the die-hards who were there before, only to remain there after?

Did that make sense? Yeah, it probably could've been worded better. Oh well. Deal.