October 16, 2009

All the Music Games Give Unto Me

I recently took notice of a trend concerning my music appreciation. Because of certain games, I have taken notice of or purchased music concerning those games.

Consider this, I would never have heard Gary Jules cover of Tears for Fears' Mad World if it were not for this Gears of War commercial. Jonathan Coulton would still be a mystery to me if it wasn't for his brilliant Still Alive at the end of Portal. I've also been introduced to others with included soundtracks from Beyond Good & Evil, the Orange Box set of games, and Mirror's Edge, which featured the same song (also titled Still Alive) mixed seven different ways.

I actually went out of my way to listen to the soundtracks from a few other games too. The soundtrack for GTA IV, Halo 3, and especially Halo 2. The second featured a few artists such as Breaking Benjamin, Hoobastank, and four compositions from Incubus. Plus I liked the games. I also purchased Jami Sieber's Hidden Sky album based only on hearing the music from 2008's Braid.

Some other interesting ventures bridging the gap between music & games also made their way to my playlist. You might smile at Weezer - The 8-bit Album's classic sound and familiar melodies of original nerdrock. On the flipside, there's The Ocarina of Rhyme; it's that Zelda game plus rap and not too bad overall.

All this and I haven't even listed all the music I've bought in Rock Band which lead me to purchasing a band's album. I already knew some bands before, like Disturbed's Indestructible and Avenged Sevenfold's self-titled album. But I got some other music based solely on what I heard in the game. The artists and albums include Lacuna Coil's Karmacode, The Material's Tomorrow, Paramore's Riot!, Bullet For My Valentine's Scream, Aim, Fire, and my most recent find, Tickle Me Pink's Madeline.

Harmonix makes mad cash from me and others like me...

-- "Dude, I service society by rocking, OK? I'm out there on the front lines liberating people with my music!"

October 13, 2009

Eye Spy With Mine Little Eye

Much like a recent break from the blogosphere, I have recently traveled back into my once-and-always love of photography. It feels great to again be exploring and capturing some of the wonders on "God's green earth." There's not much else to say, but it seemed to be worth saying since it feels so right.

I even named my camera. It's Weblaine.

-- "Without you, today's emotions would be the scurf of yesterday's."

October 11, 2009

Actual Excitement at a Race Track? Quaint!

It still seems surreal, but I found myself at the Anderson Speedway. I'm not into Nascar or watching the Indy 500, but it turned out to be a surprising treat.

I thought I was heading to a demolition derby at first, but my dreams of automobilic destruction were quickly dashed amongst the non-wreckage of the "figure 8" raceway. You may not get excited by that thought, but you should! The cars were zooming through the intersection in the middle and barely slowing down, even with opponents approaching. Picture your old, electric toy car raceway but without one of the tracks overpassing the other. It was intense.

And the final couple of races we saw yielded a couple of surprises too. The lead driver for one was pushed out of his lead by the 2nd place driver, so he rammed the back end of the other and almost tussled with fisticuffs shortly after. But the final race we witnessed top it all as cars, trucks, and vans all rolled onto the field with trailers towing boats, snowmobiles, and even a camper. It was pure mayhem as the trailers whipped around each turn inevitably toppling over or exploding into debris.

What a surprisingly fantastic time aside from the toe-curling cold.

-- "Well be careful, man. Be careful. Wear shoes in the house. Safety. Safety first, then teamwork."

October 10, 2009

I'm Gonna Play Just Cause 2 Just 'Cause

I never played nor even heard of Just Cause for Xbox, but the upcoming sequel, aptly titled Just Cause 2, looks impressive. I meant to write about this first phenomenal video walkthrough awhile ago, but the release of this new video documentary really fanned the flames of my passion for this upcoming property.

I love for open-world games of late (see GTA IV, Prototype, and yet another romp through virtual New York City coming soon). And this one looks like it'll execute some interesting new tweaks, including all-important locomotion maneuvers with that sweet hookshot & stunt-chute combo! Not having played much of the original, it reminds me of what I hoped for in the original Far Cry, strictly considering the jungle atmosphere seen in the E3 demo.

If only the main character didn't look so...meh. It doesn't help that he's a constant hypocrisy as he kills, maims, and destroys whilst donning a massive, silver cross around his neck.

-- "Welcome...to the Fraternity. This gun you're holding belonged to your father; he could conduct a symphony orchestra with it."

October 09, 2009

The Nitty Bloody Gritty with the Half-Dollar Man

I recently rented 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand. I'm glad I only rented it.

It's not a horrible game, but it is definitely laughable. Seriously, I laughed out loud the first time I took a Hummer vehicle over a ramp only to have it explode. I giggled with glee as I pounded the taunt button only to hear the title character spew nonsensical curses at his enemies. And I chortled as he continued his massacre through the Middle East all for a priceless, bejeweled skull. Did I mention he was already strapped with grenades and pistol clips during his concert?

Nothing really makes sense during this absurd romp through foreign lands, but I don't care. The game is fun. It's not amazing, but it's adequately fantastic. It feels like just another 3rd-person shooter that satisfies with on-rails mechanics, loads of points for almost any action, and ludicrous, blown out of proportion gun-play & mayhem.

And if you like 50 Cent's music, the musical score is great...because it's just his tracks playing over & over & over in the background. Just don't expect much and you'll turn the game back into [insert rental store of choice] appeased.

-- "Time to nut up or shut up!"

October 06, 2009

Batman's No Longer At Home Washing His Tights

It seems to be old news already. And if it isn't yet, please rectify that and purchase Batman: Arkham Asylum immediately. If all the hyperbole from other sites hasn't persuaded you yet, I doubt you've read anything about this game.

The first things you notice as you saunter through the asylum are the beautiful environment, the varied animations (the guards have different swaggers!), and the on-point voice acting. I'll admit most of my comics knowledge comes from their cartoons. So it was fantastic to hear Batman, the Joker, and Harley Quinn reprising their animated series roles.

Then you are thrown amongst the convicts and experiencing the fluidity of Batman's near-superhuman combat prowess. It didn't surprise me to find it started as a rhythm-action game instead. The flow of the combat translates well into the predator sections where you can use a form of quick stealth to knock out baddies using Batman's signature tricks of his unique trade (my favorites being sonic batarangs and ledge takedowns). The possibilities make for some fun mistakes...usually involving explosive gel.

Take away Batman from this game, and it is still amazing. Who would've thought a game based on such a well-known super hero would ever be considered for game of the year, because it will be. And if you'd like to hear a more encompassing discussion, I highly recommend the latest episode of Out of the Game with Shawn Elliot, Jeff Green, Robert Ashley, and N'Gai Croal. However, I actually think collecting all of the Riddler trophies was worth it for more than the achievement.

-- "Where does he get those wonderful toys?"

August 21, 2009

Careful of the Complex Shadows

I thought my recent review of Shadow Complex for Xbox Live Arcade might actually be worthy of a re-post over here. If you don't wanna click through and read it at the 'Funk, I'll just let you know over here: it's amazing. It reminds me why I'd always say Super Metroid for the SNES is my favorite game of all time.

Loved it!

-- "I love you bro Montana."

August 17, 2009

Second Verse Same as the First

In lieu of declaring my return, I'll just act like nothing happened (because it really didn't) and move on to the movies I've watched since then.

Jumper - I wasn't expecting much and was pleasantly surprised. Say what you will, but it did create an alternate 'verse of possibility living amongst the now. Of course it was no realm of Harry Potter possibilities, but good enough. Also, Rachel Bilson is adorable.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated - I found this documentary about the film industry's rating system very intriguing. Its purpose isn't to just to see differences in NC-17 and R ratings; it also points out a bunch of hypocrisies and unveils some of the ludicrous secrets held close by the MPAA.

Visioneers - It was a complete lack of laugh-out-loud funny and teetering on the edge of serious drama amongst absurd circumstance. And it was interesting enough to see through to the end even though you may be hating some parts of it and/or falling asleep due to the sloth-like pace.

Primer - This one was kinda hard to keep up with as it tried to tackle time travel with existing physics. It attempted to baffle its audience with brilliance. And I totally didn't expect any twists it may or may not contain.

Finding Neverland - Further continuing my Marc Forster love (see Stranger Than Fiction), this movie pleased me throughout. The true-to-life adaptation about the conception of Peter Pan was well-received and worth the hype. I hope Freddie Highmore continues to grow as an actor through all these amazing films he's already been apart of before he even turned 18.

Coraline - I haven't read any Neil Gaiman, but it was definitely a creative world. The animation was stilted but good enough (just like Nightmare Before Christmas) and the design was fantastic. I just couldn't get engrossed in the story.

Horton Hears a Who! - I actually wasn't really familiar with this Seuss tale but felt like I'd be missing out if I hadn't seen it. It was entertaining enough to not be considered a waste of time. And though usually appreciating Jim Carrey's works, I didn't care for his voice-acting in this one. Steve Carrell's voice was trumpeted far above everyone else in this one.

Cowboy Bebop - The Movie
- I've gotten used to and actually prefer the English dubbed series, so it was great to hear everyone again after some time since I'd seen the show. The only reason this was called "The Movie" was because the creators made it two hours long. It was really just a long episode, a good one but looong. It's worth it enough just to see Ein with a jack-o-lantern helmet on.

The Jacket - This was another movie of the "mindscrew" genre. So I naturally enjoyed it just for that aspect. But Adrien Brody was thrilling as he approached this schizophrenic role. If Stanley Kubrick directed a movie based on the books Slaughterhouse V and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, it would be a close approximation to this film.

The Godfather - I finally saw it, and yes, I really liked it.

-- "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

July 17, 2009

Battlefield

Without any other words, the Battlefield franchise comes to mind every time. How many times can Dice make this game and still make it good? Answer: Just about every time.

Thanks to the mess of great reviews, constant talk from friends about it, and me having a Gold account on XBL, I decided to get Battlefield 1943. The demo was all I needed to put me over the edge, as it iterates on 1942 with an updated game engine. I loved that game oh-so-long ago, and I'm loving it again, albeit in a few less maps and simplified skill sets.

It works perfectly for the Xbox platform outside of the Live issues it's had. The same feel I got from the original fills me with glee whilst running over hapless opponents in my jeep or cruising in my tank. The vehicles are what got me to fall in love with it originally, and I can see they kept that in mind for this most recent translation.

-- "You either give me what I need or this switch will stay on until they turn the power off for lack of payment on the bill."

July 06, 2009

Gunslinger, It's Been Far Too Long

Summer Movie Fest:

The new Star Trek - as great as everyone said...a month ago. It reaffirmed my solemn vows to love J.J. Abrams' works.

Terminator: Salvation - Good action and effects. I've never been into the Skynet stories before, and this didn't make me care more or less.

Cold Mountain - Maybe it was the fact that I watched this just coming home after a trip to Gettysburg, but this Civil War era drama was fantastic. And though Renee Zellweger was in it, the film didn't remotely pretend she was pretty. So thanks for that.

Lost in Translation - Been meaning to see this for years, but it didn't wow me as much as I hoped. Scarlett Johansson & Bill Murray were absolutely their characters, but the addition of Anna Faris definitely crippled the great cast (or I was just blinded by rage as always when hearing her voice).

Disturbia - I had heard surprisingly good things and hold no ill-will towards Mr. LaBoeuf like so many others. It was a decent thriller but nothing too enchanting past the thin coat of Hollywood gloss.

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist - Michael Cera constantly reprises the same, typecast role he was meant to play, and it works here. The inclusion of absurd situations and increasingly offbeat characters rounds out a thoroughly enjoyable film about discovering love.

Son of Rambow - Have you heard of this? Thank you, Netflix, for suggesting such cool films I'd normally pass up completely. This quirky, British comedy ultimately ends with heartwarming flare much like Millions.

Definitely, Maybe - For being a love story starting in divorce, I didn't hate this completely. Ryan Reynolds and a "good" ending considering the travesty formulated over the previous hour saved this from being an utterly detestable film...oh, and the cute kid helped too.

L4YER CAKE - Much like Rambow I hadn't heard of this. It features Daniel Craig in a witty crime story á la Snatch (with less flair) that proved not all movies allow bad people to get away with despicable crimes.

And finally Seven Samurai - The epic 3.5 hour masterpiece from Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa didn't disappoint (it even includes an intermission). The only drawbacks on the constant bleating and prostrating of peasants.

-- "And now esteemed effendi, we feast."

June 19, 2009

Prototype Impressions @ IF; Movie Mayhem Mash-up Mix-em-up Coming Soon

My prototypical review of Prototype is up over at InsulinFunk. I tried not to convey all of the hype I had but probably failed. Oh well, enjoy.

And I have a bunch of movie impressions I'll post up soon. I don't think Wes and the gang would appreciate my quick thoughts on all the films I watch as much as you two (three?) don't.

-- "One of these days, I'm really...going to let you teach that guy a lesson."

June 10, 2009

Insulin Funk Welcomes New Writer

Yeah, I'm now lending my e-pen to the Funk. I'll still write here occasionally, but want to keep consistently writing anywhere really.

Anyway, here's a link to my first post. Check out the rest of the site if you haven't before too.

-- "I looked it up in the dictionary...it wasn't in there."

June 08, 2009

Rocktober Can't Come Soon Enough

Brütal F'ing Legend.

If you haven't heard of this game yet, please edify yourself with the latest trailer then continue to headbang through this.

I don't know if you absolutely need to be into metal music at all, but it no doubt helps. The game looks to be full of an insane amount of fun and genuine laughs. Apparently it helps to have played some of Tim Schafer's, the game's designer, earlier games, but I have neglected them. Perhaps I'll take time to trounce through the Psychonauts realm later.

And I'm as stoked as anybody to play as Eddie Riggs, but I have some fears about the actual action of the game. Most of the trailers showcase the outrageous setting, the music and cameos, and the funny. Little action is showcased, so I'm wondering how repetitive and lackluster it may be.

I should be calmed by early interpretations from reviewers raving about its performance, so I'll just shut up for now and enjoy Ozzy and Halford alongside Mr. Black.

-- "You know, your clothes may say disco, but your eyes say rock 'n roll!"

June 03, 2009

Yet Another Bioware Win

This week is the week of E3, so there's plenty of video game stories in which I have interest. But I can't help myself pointing to something I've lauded over before, even though it will spell my ultimate downfall into the MMO verse once more. Yes, I'm talking about The Old Republic...again.

With this first cinematic trailer, Bioware has given me better Star Wars in twenty mintues, er...less than four minutes (I've watched it five times already) than I've seen in the past 15 years. I stay on the fence for MMOs mainly because I know how much time I can lose invest in them. But with this latest unveiling of Bioware's plans, it all but solidifies my foray in their galaxy far, far away 40,000 years before Skywalker.

It'll still be interesting to see the balance of classes and how much I'll want to play something other than a Sith or Jedi master, but I'm can't deny the track record here. Plus the couple of bounty hunters in the movie look better than some of those jedi. And where I don't think the combat can pull off that dramatic effect, I'm hoping they get somewhere close to incorporating all the powers seamlessly into the saber-play.

-- "I know what's been troubling you. Listen to me. Don't continue to be a pawn of the Jedi Council."

May 29, 2009

Analog Games for Analectuals: Ra

It's only the second in this posting series, but I played a couple new board games recently, the first being Ra. Ranked #25 on boardgamegeek, it's well worth the praise.

Its motif is obviously Egyptian, but doesn't really involve warmongering. The major mechanic is a constantly rotating bidding war for different ways to obtain points. Fitted with some equally clever negative pieces, the careful juxtaposition of bidding tokens is a key element to winning. Tokens aside, it plays sort of like Princes of Florence without restricted building codes. Intermixing a humanized randomization with the point value tokens for bidding (hard to explain unless you see it in action) is executed in brilliant fashion.

Really it's no surprise coming from such a talented game designer in Reiner Knizia (yes, another German). His ludography is astounding, a few of which I've had the pleasure of trying: Samurai, Lost Cities, and Tigris & Euphrates.

After trying Ra only once, I'm definitely looking forward to many more plays. Now if only I wouldn't have to go to Pennsylvania for the next time.

-- "Give my regards to King Tut, a**hole!"

May 27, 2009

Five-Fingered Feet

It feels good when you think you've discovered something not quite popular yet. The Vibram Five Fingers shoes are definitely not something you see everyday. I bought a pair last week and have been enjoying them immensely thus far.

They're mainly meant for people who enjoy being barefoot regularly. I like walking around barefoot but wouldn't regularly do it only because I have generally cold feet. Thankfully, it's not a problem with these. Overall, they feel just like barefoot with a little extra protection. There's no fear of stepping on rocks or getting worn out quickly on pavement.

There is some getting used to them though. I did a small hike on some paths through a wooded area and random meadowy surroundings; it was nothing that made me feel too uncomfortable. The pads of my feet just weren't used to feeling so much more than normal. It did feel good to have the extra grip from the contour shape and my actual toes.

If you want a new pair of shoes and can find them near you (I had to go to Bloomington), try some on to feel for yourself. Plus if you have to do sock laundry too often or just dislike socks in general, they're a great boon. I've only had them 'em for a week, and they're already my prefer foot protector now.

-- "Come on. Don't make it weird."

May 25, 2009

Hiatus Over, Write-Time for Theatre

Been a longer-than-usual break from the blog, so I have plenty of films from the vault to discuss. Surprisingly, there are a few really new ones in here this time. But leading the pack are a couple of early films from "The Master of Suspense," Alfred Hitchcock.

Saboteur was an okay work featuring convoluted character design and a fickle plot. Hitchcock still held it together, but you could tell it was early in his career with designs on the verge of greatness. Lifeboat kept afloat much better bereft of much setting beyond the sea itself. The characters were interesting. The story played out extremely. Although I'll still admit drifting off during some more drab scenes.

Atonement earned many accolades for its intriguing story, great character acting, and art direction/costume design (don't all those era pieces get points for costume enough?). And it was very interesting to see James McAvoy (of Wanted fame) in a completely different role. But this movie irritated me; I almost stopped watching after the idiot little sister did what makes the story interesting. I get it, but stories like that just piss me off.

Thankfully Stranger Than Fiction was a playful enough endeavor to atone for any lost time the previous film squandered. The casting felt natural and the story felt right, predictable though it may have been. Coming as no surprise, I discovered the director, Marc Forster, also helmed a few films I only recently delighted in: The Kite Runner and Quantum of Solace. Also of note is his foray into the zombie craze adapting Max Brooks' World War Z (still need to read this).

Finally, a couple movies added to my "Loved It" category: August Rush and Fanboys. August Rush chronicles an unfortunate orphan who reunites his star-crossed parents with the ever-present music surrounding his life. If you've ever dabbled in music creation or carry a great imagination, it's a must-see...also if you think Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore) is an awesome child actor.

Now Fanboys was a delicate, geeky treat. As a grown manchild who appreciates Star Wars in most of its facets, this comedy adventure tickled my funny bone in a way few films can. All the characters were outrageous, yet still grounded enough in reality to feel real. Trekkie and nerf-herding jokes abounded, and I couldn't have been happier. Plus Kristin Bell became even hotter somehow (and this even before her slave Leia outfit in the end) due to being in on such geekdom. Haven't done so in a long while, but I'll be buying this one.

-- "Nobody calls Han Solo a bitch!"

May 14, 2009

Wolverine or How a Game Surpasses the Movie

The new Origins: Wolverine movie and video game just came out. I've heard varying opinions about the film from "extremely terrible" to "pretty cool if I didn't think too hard". Okay, that last one was me, but it was a fun flick. Though from what I've heard (and the little I played), the game is much better.

Like many kids my age, Wolverine has always been one of the coolest super heroes.
He's the most brutal of the X-Men, yet he's still one of the good guys. And though I really didn't read a lot of comics, I understand his origins to be more like The Joker's: a mysterious quandary. So coupling all that with weird takes on Sabertooth (his also-regenerating brother) and other super-heroes, further fouls up this shredded look into James' Logan's past. But the action and effects were outstanding, save for the adamantium claws which somehow looked worse than the movie before.

Wolverine's universe is perfect for a video game: he decimates hordes of enemies, can actually take a few bullets without flinching, and conveniently regenerates his life force. The demo spans only the first level, but I hear the rest of the game is just as brutal with frantic, never-ending action. The word is favorable, so I'll likely rent it.

I think Marvel should stick with their up-and-coming Avengers movies instead of whoring out the X-Men. Or maybe just hire the talent producing Ironman, the newer Hulk, or what I'm sure will be an amazing Captain America film to do the other X-Men origin stories.

-- "Give me a scotch. I'm starving."

May 07, 2009

The Boomer: A Character Study

No, this isn't about Mr. Esiason, Bengals fans. Thinking in between respawns of versus mode in Left 4 Dead, I pondered, "Who is/was the Boomer?" He's a puke-filled grenade with projection abilities rivaling little Linda Blair's, but what was he like before he turned and how did he gain such bile-bending talents?

He wasn't just a random, morbidly obese person turned zed shown by the 5 sizes too small shirt; at least he had the foreknowledge to wear sweat pants, amiright? He has no facial hair, so he could've been a child for all we know. With the presence of festering boils and a constant gurgle in his step, something just didn't agree with his zombie digestive system. He couldn't have just eaten too much human; I don't think that happens (plus Boomers wouldn't be such a rare spawn).

My first thought was he tried to eat other infected people when savory survivors were scarce. It would be an easy answer to his ultra-severe indigestion. Though why does the scent of his bile attract hordes of other zeds? That candied concoction wouldn't attract more zombies to the piñata party. But also why would the Boomer want to share the tasty treats if he had a problem with overeating anyway? Those hordes would also want to destroy the Boomer before he even was able to tag the survivors with his scent. He can't tag other zeds either, so it must be a combination of vomit + survivors; I imagine it's like cheese-covered broccoli for them.

This all relies on the presupposition that zombies eat humans, which doesn't seem the case in this zompacalyptic universe. It's an odd situation when nearly all other games recognize this tenant. The undead just wish for genocide in this case. The living can't be turned. There's no room for greed over food. It's just killing and hate, an even finer distillation of zombie culture.

Or I could be wrong. The Boomer could just be distraught and angry at himself for eating away his stress only to cause more. That's it! He's a new breed of suicidal zombie!

-- "I can understand the attraction, but I hate the clingy ones!"

May 05, 2009

Insurmountable Pile 'O Movies

If I don't regularly post these massive, recently seen movies posts, the backlog will become too great. I'm even going to redact a couple flicks from this so the length isn't too extensive (still too many amassing).

First off the sad but great films: Life Is Beautiful and Kite Runner. La Vita was high-spirited and funny for the most part. I just had no idea about the presence of the concentration camp in the film, quelle surprise! The message was solid and kept a nice spin through the sad reality though. The Afghan tale was rather sad throughout but heavily grounded. 'Twas a beautiful and thought-provoking film very deserving of its accolades.

Now a pair of movies based in fighting/MMA: Never Back Down and Redbelt. The former was very close to what I thought it would be: an exaggerated (hopefully) high school experience fraught with teen angst and well-filmed action sequences. Onto my favorite of the two, Redbelt. It was more story-driven, focused on the essence and honor in fighting, and featured the always amazing Chiwetel Ejiofor (see Serenity).

As for comedies, let me present Be Kind Rewind and Darjeeling Limited. Jack Black and Mos Def together? Cheesy movie recreations? A film that doesn't take itself seriously? Yes, please! It was a delightful film that had me delving into the bonus features. I wasn't sure about Darjeeling; Wes Anderson can be hit and miss. Plus his style is rather dry (see Tenenbaums or Zissou). Jason Schwartzman surprisingly didn't deter my enjoyment, and the soundtrack was on par with Wes' other films (which is to say awesome).

Finally, an oldie and a recent unknown: Bullitt and RocknRolla. The oldie features classic Steve McQueen with car chases and no-nonsense police work; it was that and little else. I'm not saying it was bad...just okay. Guy Ritchie then brought his natural flare to what's supposed to be the first in a trilogy. I hadn't heard much about this, but Netflix thankfully recommended it. I think Ritchie basically makes the same movie over & over but better each time. The only thing this could've had to make it better would be Brad Pitt & Jason Statham.

-- "Instead of telling our young people to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised."

May 03, 2009

Snippets of New Government Issue Joes

A short new series has come out via Adult Swim that rocks a bit of nostalgia and a whole heap of unexpected death. G.I. Joe: Resolute introduces a new animation style with a story penned by noted comic writer Warren Ellis.

Resolute composes 11 episodes in about an hour for one complete story of the Joes versus Cobras. I liked G.I. Joe growing up, but I was never a huge fan; the nostalgia can only keep me interested for so long. This series relies little on rekindling past wonder and more on great action with focused zeal. The essence of the old cartoon is there, but the execution is so much better. It reminded me of the Clone Wars cartoon series by Genndy Tartakovsky.

The biggest highlight lies in the Joes' most notable character and resident mute: Snake Eyes. Just like you might hope, the story travels to the past in his training origins with Storm Shadow. Though not the penultimate outcome of the series, the confrontation between the ninjas steals the thunder from Cobra Cmdr. and Duke.

-- "I have traveled many miles and now have come disguised as a pimp to help you."

April 28, 2009

Biovalve

Can you imagine two of the greatest game developers, Valve and Bioware, with different specializations, FPSs and RPGs, merging into one glorious amalgamation of awesomesauce? I can now.

With the help of Garry's Mod, Valve resources, and imagination I can guess was heftily inspired by Bioware RPGs, someone has concepted (yeah, I made that one up) out a Team Fortress 2 RPG. Seriously. I want.

Aside from actually becoming a reality, it's thrilling to think about. A lot of work as been put into it, and it gives a lot of creedence to the power of Valve's characters. Heavy story games such as role-playing games need detailed, in-depth characters, and this creation emphasizes just how possible it could be.

Again: I want.

-- "I will shoot you. And I know robot karate!"

April 26, 2009

Difference Between Speech and Action

In another introspective, pondering piece, I'd like to skim the surface of badasses who quote the Bible. My recent delving into the Good Book aside, it's interesting to note how much more attention is paid to characters in stories who commit murders and atrocities yet speak Christian scripture like they actually follow its moral compass.

My interest was piqued while recently watching 3:10 to Yuma, with Christian Bale and Russell Crowe. Russell plays the outlaw Ben Wade who recognizes himself as a bad person, yet quotes the Bible on multiple occasions and prays with his just-as-despicable gang after a successful heist. He wasn't seeking out redemption; it was merely a dichotomous character study rife with hypocrisy. And I'm talking about it, so I'm only confirming its inherently interesting qualities.

I make the distinction based in redemption because this reminded me of Sam Jackson's character of Jules in Pulp Fiction. His path evolved with the help of his scripture orations, something wholly different from that of Wade.

My point may be moot because a story is not as interesting without such dissonant characters. It's only disconcerting to think the messages found in their source material is less impacting coming from those who may follow it more faithfully. With that, I'm forgoing my usual movie quote with a passage a friend pointed me toward recently...

-- "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things." Philippians 4:8

April 25, 2009

Why Zombies?

The last few years have seen a zombie renaissance. The phenomenon has spread through movies, video games, comics, and books. And not just tongue-in-cheek survival guides, Jane Austen's world has seen an invasion into the undead dilettante psyche with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

I've been thinking about it, sans any research that has no doubt already laid out all of my ideas, and think I know why people enjoy confronting these ultimate antagonists. Zombies present the all-in-one, most evil beings. Their motives consist of finding living flesh and consuming, nothing else. This single-minded cannibalism is universally perceived as "not good".

By itself, this wouldn't be enough to set them apart from other unthinking, murderous human beings. But each one was once a living, breathing being. They are mirrors of the human condition. Their purely instinctual nature leaves them devoid of choice or the ability to think past their undying hunger. It's just easier to accept them as villains more than anything else; it's automatic. They even outrank Nazis, only because Nazis have choice, families, and the ability to feel emotion. Encountering a horde of un-fearing zeds would be intense to say the least.

There's gotta be more to this, but I've been done writing essays for awhile. I'll have to expound on it some other time.

-- "I only gamble with my life, never my money."

April 23, 2009

Faith's Flop of a Finale

At the expense of not writing anything, I'd just like to say I finished Mirror's Edge today. Finished as much as the game can be for not having a real ending, that is.

As disappointing as the finish was, the game was great. The intensity of the chase and racing to the end of each chapter was exhilarating. I wasn't able to free my hands of the controls to hit Esc while escaping; I felt like I couldn't pause. I haven't felt that way except in games where I literally couldn't pause.

Good times.

-- "Remember, all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more."

April 20, 2009

The Vertigo Is Unnerving

I finally got Mirror's Edge for PC thanks to a $20 special on Amazon. I pretty much only buy games I know I'm gonna like, and it hasn't disappointed.

Detailed in a previous post, my choice for the PC version hasn't been a complete wash. Unfortunately, I can't get my 360 controller to work on my computer without an additional purchase. I'm "suffering" through with the mouse/keyboard, but it still feels good. And the PhysX feels really good. In reality it's not anything but a few loose cloths, transparent plastic draping, and ever-so glorious, shattering glass. All these details make thrilling chases feel even more spectacular.

If you can't tell, I'm enjoying the game. Though there are some disappointing features: the melee combat feels a bit off and the leeway, given in games such as Assassin's Creed or Prince of Persia, isn't nearly enough for long jumps and grabbing onto pipes. Adversely, there are two aspects I didn't expect to feel right at all: the shooting combat and Esurance cut sequences. Maybe it's the presence of a mouse, but the shooting seems just fine. And as cheesy as the cel-shading may be, the stylization fits with the rest of the game.

Playing without trying to obtain achievements has actually been a relief too. I love getting them on my 360, but the lack thereof frees me to not worry about how I could be playing instead of the way I like. It's like playing a new game with that old, retro love.

-- "That was the best vacation ever! I love our family."

April 16, 2009

The Hatchet Man's M.O.

With the recent media teasers coming out for Assassin's Creed 2, I've delved back into the original to satiate my desire for that specific mix of parkour and bladecraft. I had been feeling the itch for awhile but was tipped over the edge by the look of the Italian Altair. If nothing else, it has drawn me away from my Peggle fetish.

It has felt just as good as it did the first time, though I've acclimated much faster this time. I first played it over a year ago, so none of it was still fresh in my mind. The controls aren't exact and help in certain parts, but I'm even more delighted by the news of being able to swim in the next iteration. Tip-toeing on dock poles doesn't auto-help as much as I'd like when insta-death is a minor misstep away.

This time through I'm killing all the templars and getting all the flags scattered about the maps. I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying it and how easy the templars are to kill (they seemed nigh-impossible last time I played). But overall, it's the same greatness I loved before.

Da Vinci's workshop, double wristblades, and Renaissance flair can't come soon enough. I can't wait to see more of Desmond and Lucy's story told unwind with Ezio, the ancestor with a vendetta, carving his way through the past.

-- "I don't pretend to be a man of the people. But I do try to be a man for the people."

April 14, 2009

Saving Winters' Privates

Thanks to a readily available set of DVDs, I finally got around to watching the Band of Brothers mini-series. I knew it would be good; I loved Saving Pvt. Ryan.

I was afraid it would just feel like more of Ryan. I'm glad to say it was and wasn't. The cinematography, the attention to detail, and subtle music scores all felt very similar and just as great. And other than the training before D-Day, I wasn't finding much else too different that might otherwise blow my mind.

Until Part 9. The approach toward the end of the war in the final two parts was impeccable refinement and taste. It's weird to say taste when referring to the discovery of the Nazi death camps, but it's fitting. Nothing was shied away from, over-pronounced, or trivialized. I'm sure it all helps when your executive producer has tackled such subjects in Academy Award winning films, but it conveyed an extended look into the emotions from the brothers not yet seen.

The other obvious thing setting the brothers apart from Saving's 2.5 hour adventure was the testimonials. It added extended reality more so than just saying, "Based on a true story," and drives home what all those men sacrificed.

-- "Goldie, how many times have I told you guys that I don't want no horsing around on the airplane?"

April 13, 2009

Plenty of Jedi = Plenty of Bounty Hunters

Bioware recently wrote about the Bounty Hunter class for their upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. From their purpose and design to their goals and inspirations, Bioware always has big aspirations for its games.

The developer is known for great games filled with great stories. Their character designs always outdo the rest with epic tales. It's hard to not sing praises about their games. However, I'm trying to be skeptical about their foray into the MMO genre. They sound like they want to change paradigms, something we've heard from many developers with delusions of grandeur. My interest is definitely piqued, especially with this write-up of the Bounty Hunter.

The Star Wars mythos has pivotal hunters throughout the plethora of stories and fan-fic with definitive characteristics. After hearing what The Old Republic plans to lend to the class, you can't help but feel giddy. I get to control a character with the power to take out a Jedi or Sith sans Force?

Le sigh. Like I said, I'm trying to remain skeptical, but Bioware never makes it easy on me (see Baldur's Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, Jade Empire, and Mass Effect).

-- "Last night, Darth Vader came down from the planet Vulcan and told me that if I didn't take Lorraine out that he'd melt my brain."

April 12, 2009

New York's Godzilla

Can you guess which film my title refers to? From its inception, it is what J.J. Abrams wished to accomplish with Cloverfield. I was never into the big monster movies of the past or the new Godzilla adaptations, but this one had me intrigued the whole time.

Perhaps the first-person storytelling did it or the "mis en scene" atmosphere (eat that films professor that gave me a C), but Cloverfield struck a nerve so much I perused the special features on the DVD. I haven't done that in years with the exception of Serenity.

A lot more thought seemed put into this film than others (see any cheesy monster movie with a one name title). The creature had complete thoughts behind its motives and mobility. It felt very real amongst the survivors even in grandiose situations; the Statue of Liberty head was hilarious but impacts the panicked New Yorkers just like you might think.

I don't need sequels based on what I've seen, probably won't see it in theatres if one's made, but the mystery has left me still wanting more. It'll be in the queue.

-- "I wish I were big."

April 11, 2009

Left 4 Dead LARPing

Would you consider LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) if it had a more zombie/survivor motif? Well good thing this has nothing to do with that.

Some fine photographers were fine enough to make a really fun public set of photographs on Flickr and get it highlighted on Kotaku. The set is called Left 5 Dead, the obvious sequel, and includes the original four survivors plus some random pirate (named Steve?). Aside from the ass-tastic 5th wheel, the set stands out due to the presence of purpose and action the game tends to convey.

But even more so is the use of what I perceive to be an up-and-coming photographic technique known as HDR. I only discovered it recently, but you basically take multiple shots of the same scene at different exposures and merge them to create enormous amounts of detail that wouldn't otherwise be there. Just look up HDR images after viewing the Flickr set to find some other fantastic examples.

I haven't created any yet, but I'll probably make a post about it once I find my inspiration for it.

-- "Hello, Mr. Fancypants. Well I've got news for you pal, you ain't leadin' but two things right now: Jack and s***...and Jack left town."

April 10, 2009

Long Enough Break

I took a break. It's probably not the best thing to do when this is one of the most constructive things on my platter. But it was a break, and I have more topics in the queue now. First off: last weekend!

The Ship of Fools improv comedy troupe from Purdue University and the Andy Ober Orchestra put on their annual joint show in West Laffy. Having attended the previous two, I was glad my schedule didn't interfere with this show.

The Fools performed with splendid precision and nary a snag. It's always fun to see them put on a show, but they were genuinely on point that night. The subtleties are what please me most with them; you can look to the side to see the better performers adding quaint little tie-ins without stealing anyone's thunder.

The AOO was above par this year too. Adding a rarely seen fourth member, the quartet pleased the crowd with many new songs smattered with a couple golden oldies as well. You wouldn't know they only practiced together maybe five times a year. ::wink::

-- "I like to look for things no one else catches. I hate the way drivers never look at the road in old American movies."

April 03, 2009

Somewhere Across The Universe Skies Are Filled With Diamonds

I've grown up a rather passive fan of The Beatles, and Across the Universe was a magnificent surprise. I had actually forgotten it was a musical based on their music, but it proved to be quite a trip, pun assuredly intended.

The film is set in the 60s pitting star-crossed lovers an ocean apart. Other members fill out the rest of the cast around them and eventually Come Together in New York's village scene. The other members happen to include likenesses of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. A couple of cameos by Bono and Eddie Izzard even guest in the lovefest.

From kismet to falling apart to inevitable re-intimacy, the overall plot is predictable though not to its detriment. What is nowhere near predictable are the visuals. They are a superb form of re-imagined storytelling paralleling the music and lives of the Revolution-ary Beatles. Even starting around the halfway point, there was a lot of psychadelic imagery. They fit so right with what I guess the band was trying to get across ending in the penultimate message "All You Need Is Love."

If you're a fan of the Beatles or liked Moulin Rouge, consider a Ticket to Ride Across the Universe. It will anything but A Hard Day's Night. I couldn't help myself.

-- "I'll come 'round sometime and get that squeak out of your door."

April 01, 2009

Sony Welcomes Mario to Generation Next

Earlier today, Sony unveiled the clandestine location for Mario's next adventure: the Playstation 3. Miyamoto-san seems to have had a mid-life crisis taking his beloved plumber into a visually realistic world full of browns and greys.

Set to join the fray of frags, Super Mario Mayhem is touted to revolutionize the world of first-person shooters. Little imagery has been released, but I'm thinking the Super Mario Bros. movie with better animation, tougher A.I., and no Dennis Hopper as King Koopa. No doubt there'll be plasmid-like fireball-tossing action too!

And it will sell millions. And the PS3 won't need the price-cut everyone's been demanding. Parents will purchase them for their kids even with the Mature rating the game has already received.

Well done, Sony. HUGE SUCCESS!

-- "Remember, trust the fungus."

March 31, 2009

Double-O Quantum of Action

I've never been a huge fan of the James Bond franchise, but I've felt compelled to see the recent ones due to the overwhelming reception of Daniel Craig. Enter Quantum of Solace.

One great thing about this endeavor is the focus on action and chases in particular. It starts with a car chase, shuffles to a rooftop run, splashes through the harbors of Haiti, and glides through a desert canyon. The gunplay and melee combat was rampant throughout. The film felt reminiscent of the Bourne trilogy, only with a heavier use of classic spy charm.

I was thinking too about Bond's unique source of refreshment or fuel: martinis and sex. He never runs out of energy, needs no sleep, and only looks exhausted if he hasn't partaken in one of the two for awhile. Not a horrible way to break up your day in between the dullness of killing and caring about as few people as possible.

As much as people rave about the Casino Royale remake, I preferred this second double-ought Craig movie instead. The constant action, many locations, and well-paced flow kept me entertained the entire time.

-- "Who took the jam outta your doughnut?"

March 30, 2009

Online Frustration #42

Valve's Steam service can be compared and usually rates better than Xbox Live. In my experiences, Steam is basically the console equivalent for the PC without the constant hatespeech and annoying 12 year-old whiners. Oh, and Steam is free.

But one of the nit-picks I have with Steam is very easy to control on Live. On the Xbox, if you hear someone spouting off anything offensive, you can not only mute them, you can report/flag them to not be paired with them in random games. It also supposedly helps gets those people suspended with enough reports and lowers their reputations. It at least placated my anger while in the lobby of Halo 3.

Steam has no reporting to my knowledge. If they do, it's nowhere near as easy to find. And of course you can mute people's mics, but it has no effect on text. I don't see/hear it as often on the PC, but just two nights ago my eyes were welcomed into a TF2 match with, "f***ing f***** n***** b****". He wasn't kicked from the server and kept repeating himself. I felt impotent.

What bothers me more about seeing it rather than hearing is the feeling of intention. Typing all those hate-filled words seems to carry more emotion. With words it rolls off the tongue with unfortunate ease, but typing really punches it home.

The few times in my life where those words have crossed my lips have been shameful. And though I'm at a different point in my life, I could never imagine writing them down even then.

-- "Stop trying to hit me and hit me."

March 29, 2009

Worthy Illustrations or Lackluster Demonstrations?

Of the recent demos on Xbox Live, they have generally proven what I expected going in. Whether it be a fun game worth renting but not owning or an example of second-rate game design, I've enjoyed some recent trials.

Wanted was a really fun, snarky movie and an equally enjoyable game. Weapons of Fate pulls off a third-person shooter as well as the next with some added bits of delight. Coming from a movie that introduced curving bullets, that's the first notable addition; it's executed with visual style and simple controls. Beyond that, the game evolves the Gears cover mechanic by stepping up the speed between obstacles with deftness and great visual cues. The rest of the game stays faithful to the film's dialogue and story complete with the difficulty setting entitled "Pussy."

The Vin Diesel outings both left with a sense of superhappyfuntime. The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena is more goodness with better mechanics; just an evolution of what came before. It's what I expected and wanted. Now Wheelman doesn't demand too much attention, but it is good at what it does. Jampacked with racing, car stunts, and shooting, it's a compilation of off-the-wall antics, including Vin Diesel's character flying from one moving vehicle to the next to commandeer it. Seriously. But it doesn't apologize for such laughable features, it welcomes them without shame.

This next demo was supposed to be pure indulgence, but it was the least likable of the four I tried. Guitar Hero: Metallica is exactly like all the other Guitar Hero games before them, only I had never played drums or sang before. First off, the four playable songs in the demo were more than adequate with Seek and Destroy and Sad But True by Metallica, No Excuses by Alice In Chains, and Stone Cold Crazy by Queen (I know, too many italics). And the guitar interface was fine too. The drums seemed a bit clunky with harder to see lights but passable timing and combinations. It was the singing I couldn't stand. Compared to the instantly recognizable Rock Band format, it was a mess. I didn't know how to do well or how well I was even doing.

So much for wanting to try GH:WT now, Harmonix will continue to be my preference for interface design and color choice in rhythm gaming.

-- "Get out of my way, son. You're using my oxygen."

March 27, 2009

Fallout Finally Finished!

It took me long enough to complete, yet I still hesitate to use that word. Fallout 3 is a huge game with vast stores of nooks & crannies; there's no way I completely discovered everything. But I did discover close to 140 locations and complete every main quest, so it's done for me until a future patch is released.

Why is this game so great? I've been thinking about it ever since the final credits rolled. The animations aren't amazing, the modeling's pretty rough, and the action can be rather slow. I didn't get to see the Enclave enough, killing the same types of enemies got very repetitive, and didn't even discover what "Well Rested" meant until I was already level 20. And the end was rather disappointing, no matter how much I wished it wouldn't be. So why did I and many others love it so much?

Plain and simple it has to be the interactivity with nearly everything and the ability to choose. I could've stayed out of people's locked houses, but I snuck inside anyway. I could've let that rabble-rousing ghoul sleep soundly, but I ended him after he denied doing things my way. Megaton could've remained a peaceful little stronghold with an undetonated nuclear sleeper hit, but there was no way I could refuse the strange man in the sunglasses.

I was always just hoping for a little more cinematic flare or something to surprise me like realtime geometry changing. I was kept waiting for a wall next to me to get blown out and some people to show some movement while speaking with them. If only they could walk around and move appendages more than facial twitches.

But the ending sequence was unbelievably awesome. Ever since I saw the iron giant below the citadel, I was hoping he'd get involved!

-- "Wow, my own giant robot! I am now the luckiest kid in America!"

March 26, 2009

A Mess O' Movies

I'm just gonna get a bunch of recently seen movies out of the way to force myself from too many of these posts. Good or bad, I'm definitely making headway on my queues. Oh, and friend me if you have Netflix.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - A flick that piqued my interest with the always good Brad Pitt. I admit my man-crush; he's a great actor that chooses many different roles and pulls them all off. The film was slow-paced and thoughtful with some great additions in Casey Affleck and Sam Rockwell. Definitely worth a rental.

Henry Poole is Here - The preview for this had me expecting a comedy. Thankfully it wasn't too disappointing to find Luke Wilson in a contemplative depression as life presents him with a question of faith. Of course he fights against it, and of course he emerges with a fresh outlook and new found happiness. Check it out if you like films of this type but don't expect to laugh much.

Eagle Eye - It's a Shia LaBeouf movie, but I enjoyed it. I don't mind him really, but I hear about as many bad things for him as Keanu Reeves (I loved Constantine). Anyway, it was a competent thriller with a Fallout 3-esque plot mechanic.

The Golden Compass - It's weird to see some books-turned-movies when the allegory is so heavy. It was different than I expected in a good way, but the rest of the movie was just bad. I could tell they omitted a bunch from the book and rushed everywhere. I really expected to enjoy it, but I'll definitely pass on the sequel.

Grindhouse: Death Proof and Grindhouse: Planet Terror - I really didn't expect much from either of these. And what ties they have as being a double feature are only loosely related in the 70s film grain pervading throughout. I say this because Planet Terror was absolutely fantastic, and Death Proof is and will remain unfinished by mine eyes. The former featured a great zombie flick with ultraviolence, ultragore, and an overall campy atmosphere. I laughed outloud so often, covered the screen with my hand too many times, and still made it through with an overwhelming taste of awesomesauce in my mouth.

The first 20 minutes of the Tarantino half of Grindhouse had me wondering why I hadn't stopped it yet. It was full of neverending, pretentious Tarantino dialogue and a story I could never care about. I tried, but it lacked the Pulp of Quentin's usually deep Reservoir.

-- "Welcome back to the land of the living. Now pick up a shovel and get digging!"

March 25, 2009

Talkin Bout My G-G-Generation

Something just hit me while listening to the latest Platform Biased podcast, Three's Company. One of the hosts was talking about raising his son on a escalated schedule of old-school gaming. First, the NES for 3 months and his 5 favorite games, then the SNES for another 3 months and 5 more games, and so on until he's current.

It got me thinking about what systems I would choose to own if I could only own 1 system from each generation. My apologies if anything turns out factually inaccurate; I don't care.

Starting from the generation I came in:
What was available -- Atari 2600, Intellivision, too many others
What I had -- Intellivision
What I would choose now -- Atari...I hear too many great stories about people and their Ataris. It feels like I missed out on something huge.

The real first generation by most people's standards started with Nintendo:
What was available -- NES, Sega Master System, something else insignificant
What I had -- NES
What I would choose now -- NES...Of course the NES. It was the pivotal console gaming platform. If only my Mom hadn't sold it with all my games during a garage sale.

The pretender consoles start to die down as Sega and Nintendo reign:
What was available -- SNES, Sega Genesis, Atari holding on by a Lynx...or was it Jaguar?
What I had -- Sega Genesis
What I would choose now -- SNES...Resoundingly, I would choose the SNES. Based on all the games I played and obtained for emulators, I wish I had stayed on the Nintendo train.

Sony enters the fray as Nintendo continues ascension. Sega lapses:
What was available -- Sony Playstation, Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn
What I had -- Saturn
What I would choose now -- Sony Playstation...It was the only system I owned a game for but never owned the system (Tony Hawk Pro Skater). I found some good games for Saturn, but I was bitten for the last time purchasing a system only because it came with games and the others didn't.

In which Microsoft claims gaming space, Sony gets cocky, and Nintendo turtles:
What was available -- Xbox, Playstation 2, and Gamecube (Dreamcast swansong)
What I had -- Xbox
What I would choose now -- Playstation 2...I loved my Xbox and Halo a bunch. But there are too many games coming from the largest gaming library I still want/need to play.

Duct tape, red rings, and little big things:
What is available -- Wii, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3
What I have (had) -- Xbox 360 (gave away my Wii)

Of course this discounts the plethora of PC experiences over the years, handhelds, and systems only delusions would call big competitors (ahem, 3DO).

-- "Adventure, excitement...a Jedi craves not these things."

March 24, 2009

A Break in the Entertainment

I've had a hard time writing the past few days because I didn't want to just keep updating about movies. And since I've kept myself from finishing Fallout 3 (I'm in Raven Rock), this'll be a non-entertainment related post for once. (P.S. This Ghostbusters scene freaked me out as a kid and kinda still does now.)

Have you ever filed for unemployment? I hope you never have to, because it's too much of a hassle. And I still haven't gotten my first check even. There are a bunch of mandatory workshops and such that may take longer than you need with information you already have. At least that's the way I felt this morning. It was more of an affirmation of the recent direction I've had than an enlightening help session.

That recent direction I'm referring to is getting my IT certifications, including A+, Network+, MCSA, and Security+. I like working with computers and having the ability to relocate anywhere in the country is nice. Not to mention it also feels like a firm foundation will be under my feet for once. Who knew I'd feel better going to a place I'm paying thousands of dollars to attend than in the office who'll give me free money and donuts.

What also helps is the great living arrangement I've been graciously invited into and the wonderful people of the small group of my church. I'm counting my blessings while hoping for the best in other areas that are playing catch-up.

And tomorrow, I'm returning to another movie post because I just watched something on my instant watch Netflix queue I freakin' loved!

-- "I was going to be a stand-up comedian."

March 20, 2009

Disappointing Decepticons and Sobering Saudi Representations

I haven't played many games lately besides a quick visit to the World of Goo, the land of Peggle, and the rollin' landscape of Rock Band. I need to finish Fallout already, don't I?

A couple more movies I wanted to see eventually can now be marked off my list in the meantime. I finally watched Transformers against my better judgment. I had heard it wasn't that good and worth seeing as much as the last Indiana Jones movie, whatever it was called. Maybe it was because I had such low hopes going in, but I thought it was cool. I saw robots turn into vehicles and lots of explosions and general destruction. If anyone was wanting a great Transformers story: really? It's a cartoon turned toys turned animated movie turned worse toys turned movie. I don't expect G.I. Joe to vary from that formula. But where's my live-action Thundercats?

On to an actual great film: The Kingdom. It's another war-torn, Middle East relations film, and I didn't know what to expect. It was a fast ride with little-to-no slow bits. The dialogue was quick but not too confusing, although camera cues and acting generally keep you from guessing if the language was lost. What separates this movie from others is the equal points of view portrayed. There are people angry, grieving, and scared on all sides of the conflict, and it's handled with more tact than most. I liked this and The Rundown, but have yet to see Peter Berg's Hancock. I'm a little more optimistic about that one now.

-- "Does he know where Bin Laden is? That would be a huge promotion for me."

March 18, 2009

Mr. Fillion's a Great Foundation for Castle

So I, like many people, started watching Dollhouse in hopes Joss Whedon's magic might extend into a new show. For the record, I haven't watched since the second episode. Well now I've started watching Castle thinking Nathan Fillion can keep that show from belly-flopping into a drained pool; it's more like a cannonball in the deep end.

Bad analogies aside, the show is awesome. I've watched the first two episodes so far and laughed at Nathan's ineffable charm and wit. The dialogue feels effortless, the cast fits well (no distracting, overcasted crutches), and the stories are interesting enough. Being another "cops with murder mystery" show, it relies more on the main characters' backgrounds and interactions between each other. And it feels like it should be doing just that.

Stana Katic, who apparently has been in quite a bit of TV before, is breaking out in this main role. She feels like Yvonne Strahovski from Chuck: a relative unknown fit really well into her respective character. Though Stana isn't reduced to a sex kitten prancing around in her underwear for practically no reason other than titillation, and Castle's better for it.

-- "You're the poster boy for friendly fire."

March 16, 2009

A Link to the Past

I was looking through how many posts I had done (really not too many compared to the more consistent rate I've experienced lately) and thinking about how some of them have panned out. So this is an update.

I don't play Warhammer Online anymore. It faded away even before I started up WoW again. And even that's faded away now too. No inclinations to play any current MMOs right now.

Diablo III has no release date as of yet, I have yet to play Web of Shadows or Mirror's Edge, and I haven't even beaten Fallout 3. I've gotten closer as of the past month, but there's too much for me to explore. And Left 4 Dead is still freakin' amazing, but I haven't played much lately and won't consistently til the patch comes out soon. Prototype will come out this summer, and I still can't wait.

And the recently released scout update to TF2 definitely makes me feel more proud about my Halloween costume choice. I finally enjoy playing the class!

-- "I don't know about you guys, but we are the weirdest herd I've ever seen."

March 14, 2009

Tokin a Ride on the Pineapple Express

This could easily become a blog just about the movies I watch; I'll try to limit myself. But I need to Pineapple Express myself (lame, I know).

First off, I've never smoked weed but have been around others who have occasionally or often. It's weird then that stoner comedies are so funny (Ali G Indahouse, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, and Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny are all in my collection among others). I used to watch Half-Baked almost every day for one whole summer. It must be something about stupid humor striking a chord so deep with me; I dunno.

So Pineapple Express finally emerged from my Netflix queue, and I enjoyed it as thoroughly as some seen above. James Franco was the surprising standout, pot dealer with great dialogue I can only assume was mostly improvisation. The same goes for Seth Rogen, but it wasn't a surprise. There were a lot of other characters and scenes over-dramatized, but again I refer you to which genre I'm talking about.

If you've enjoyed such films in the past or other Judd Apatow, "frat pack" movies, this one should be added to the long list. It really is a weird realization seeing how many of these movies I really liked and knowing it's a genre I prefer. I must be high.

-- "Well be careful, man. Be careful. Wear shoes in the house. Safety. Safety first, then teamwork."

March 12, 2009

The Punisher of Hellboy II

So along with Watchmen this last Friday, I got around to watching two other comic hero movies in The Punisher and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. It was a themed weekend, but at least it wasn't Ghost Rider, right?

The Punisher was a lackluster affair with an okay idea, everything I had heard it to be. I didn't like the casting choice for Mr. Castle, the apartment friends were too ridiculous, and the tale didn't seem epic enough for a super hero movie. Why not someone with a more fantastic tale or nemeses? That said, John Travolta wasn't half-bad.

And Hellboy II, another comic film set aside as not so good and passable. I've never read any of these comics or watched the first flick a bunch, but I like the character of Hellboy a lot. Maybe it's Ron Perlman or maybe it's Guillermo's vision, but I like these stories of Hellboy. The second one was surprisingly good. It felt like a good sequel film nearly done with the origin story and fraught with an even bigger fight than before. The visuals were reflected in that too, though Selma Blair still seemed awkward (I'm afraid she will in every role).

I'm not sure which past, 2nd-rate comics movie will be next on the list, but these films definitely have me excited.

-- "We figure abortion clinics are a good place to meet loose women."