Monday, May 26, 2008

Spring 08 Recap Part 2...


The following opinions will be done in a tongue-in-cheek style, making it VERY hard to understand what is being said, hence the reason I am typing it instead of doing this orally. So let us take a look behind the scenes at how some of the big movies were made for this spring/summer.

Indiana Jones- Crystal Skull: The following conversation took place at some point in the past. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Stephan Speelbergo: Hey, Georgia.
Goergia Locust: Yes, Stephan?
SS: Make a list of your 4 favorite movies that I have done.
GL: No problem! I would go with that Jurassic dinosaur movie, that alien one with the Extra Terrestrial, the one that had those Close Encounters, and the one we did together, with the archaeologist, Dr Jones, and his wacky adventures.
SS: Excellent choices! Let us combine all of those movies, and make it into one big sequel!
GL: But do you think that will take things too far, all those genres rolled into one?
SS: Absolutely

So, Indy... fun movie, good time, but I have so many gripes. Like I said above, it was like SS and GL got together and just made a movie using everything from their previous efforts. This movie was heavily inspired and paid a lot of tribute to Raiders of the Lost Ark, but the whole alien theme went too far. The first three Indy movies were about mystical objects with a power imbued by God, good or evil. This one just blew the whole magical powers thing out of the water. I would have enjoyed it more if the aliens had simply left behind some artifact, and once returned, it gave knowledge and disappeared. The fact that the aliens were actually there and the ship takes off at the end... not cool. Oh, and if you didn't see the Mutt "twist" coming, you have never read a book, watched a TV show, or seen a movie in your entire life.

Chronicals of Narnia: Prince Caspian- The following conversation took place at some point in the past. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Andy Adamdad: Hey random person I am bumping into on the street, what was your favorite part of the first Narnia movie
Bum: The journey of the children, the quest they were sent on, the suspense of wondering what obstacle they would need to get around next.
AA: Oh, ok. What about the fights?
Bum: You mean the big battle at the end? It was cool, good fun, but nowhere near the best part of the movie, or what made the books such a great memory for all the children the world over.
AA: So the fights were your favorite parts?
Bum: What? No. The fights are the LEAST important part of the books and the story!
AA: Well, GREAT NEWS! The 2nd Narnia movie will be NOTHING but battles! No quest, no journey, no exposition, no character development AT ALL, just lots of battles!
Bum: Can I go now please?

Yeah, so, Prince Caspian, another fun ride, but very disappointing overall when you look at what makes the books so special, and what makes a good movie. Three epic battles are great and all, but where was my freaking character development and motivation? MOTIVATION PEOPLE! When the best two parts of your movie are dudes being dropped by griffins into a castle and Anna Poppelwell's face, you didn't do a very good job. A fun watch, but not what the books are about.

Death Cab For Cutie: DCfC just released their latest album, Narrow Stairs, and have been on tour promoting it, and I was lucky enough to be at one of their concerts recently. The show was really great, they know their audience and played to it well. They played only 2 tracks from Narrow Stairs, and those 2 tracks are two of my 3 favorites from the new album. Overall, despite the fact that poor Ben Gibbard had no monitor in his ear for the first 3 songs, they did an amazing job of just playing great music. A lot of bands their size get into a problem of having the levels blasting all over so you cannot really hear the music itself, so major props go to the band's sound designer for the concert at doing an amazing job. Photos of the show can be seen on my MySpace page.
As for Narrow Stairs, I am disappointed at the way the album came out. There are 3 great tracks, Bixby Canyon Bridge, I Will Possess Your Heart (although the 4.5 minute opening can be a bit annoying when you just want to hear the song) and You Can Do Better Than Me. The previous album, Plans, was amazing, and one of my favorite albums of all time, so this one had a lot to live up to. Unfortunately, the sounds that DCfC has defined for me is not that present, with a lot of dark music, black sounds, and depressing songs all around. A good effort, but not up to par with Plans.

WHATS NEXT: Two big deliveries that I will be talking about very soon. As for movies, Adam Sandler's Zohan looks fun, Hulk (maybe, still not sold on Ed Norton), The Happening (cmon Shyamalan!), Get Smart, Wall-E, Hancock, Hellboy 2, The Dark Knight, Mama Mia, Step Brothers, The Mummy 3, Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder, Hamlet 2, Star Wars: Clone Wars, and City of Ember.... we have a LOT to look forward to over the next few months... holy shnikies!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I Hate You Activision...

I hate you Activision, in case you were too lazy to read the headline...

You confirmed today the newest Guitar Hero game will be Guitar Hero World Tour, which will include not only Guitar and Bass, but now the drums and mic too. Long story short, you are officially making a Rock Band "clone" and I have been pissed about it for a while.

Here is why: I already spent $170 for Rock Band and $100 on Guitar Hero 3 to get 2 guitars, a drum kit and a mic. Now, you are coming out with a completely different drum kit, and from the looks of it, this thing and the Rock Band drums will be in no way compatible with each other. My TV area is a small 10x10 room, and the RB drums and 3 guitars I have barely fit in there as it is, and now you are releasing your own drum kit and expect us to pay the premium AND have space to hold the new kit? By alienating the 3 million plus drum kit owners out there, they run the risk of having no one wanting to buy their game, and just making people upset in general.

And today, I am even more pissed. The official announcement reveals that not only will there be an "unprecedented" level of songs to pick from, but also the ability to create your own custom tracks to play in the game, and a battle of the band mode. It also appears that you can have multiple guitar parts, rhythm guitar and lead guitar. Oh, and bands like the Eagles and Sublime will have their songs in the game too. So why am I more pissed today? Because now I really want the damn game.

I hate you Activision....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spring 08 recap....


So what have I been up to lately? I have been keeping quite busy as a matter of fact. Here are some highlights and opinions on what I have been up to:

Iron Man: What a way to start the summer movie season! Iron Man is up there with Batman Begins and Spider-Man and X-Men for the best movie adaptation from a comic book. Top 3 over X-Men actually. RBJr did an amazing job of being himself, which brought, albeit a different take, on the Tony Stark character to life. No alcoholism, and now everyone knows (or thinks) he is Iron Man, so there are some differences.
The fan service stuff was fantastic too! Rhodey commenting "next time" on the silver/grey armor, the Ten Rings terrorist syndicate, the whole SHIELD thing (which I figured out literally as the dude was about to say it) and of course, the after credits "Avenger Initiative" scene was just pure unadulterated fan service.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Another good movie from some of the Apatow crew. Jason Segel did an excellent job for his first script, and finding out how it so closely reflected many of his real life failures and experiences made it better. It takes real balls to put yourself out there like that, but anyone who has seen the movie could tell you that Segel has no trouble there. My favorite line? The "and now I have the freshest cereal" line still has me giggling, mainly for it's delivery. Also, Maria Thayer in a major motion picture, you go girl! I would actually go so the Dracula puppet musical by the way.

Walk Hard- The Dewey Cox Story: This movie should have been called LAUGH HARD! HA! Seriously, go watch this movie. When it came out in theaters (pronounced thee-ay-tears) it got passed over quickly, and no one wanted to see it with me. Finally on DVD, I got to see it. I love movies that don't even try to take themselves seriously and consistently break the fourth wall. Most parody movies as of late (meaning anything since Scary Movie) have been utter crap, but this one aced it. Oh, and without a doubt, Jenna Fischer is one of the most funny and beautiful women ever. Go rent it already, it costs a freakin dollar at Red Box!

House: Can House do any wrong? No, I think not! Am I biased? Well, yeah, duh. The final two episodes of the season, especially the first of the two, House's Head, were excellent as usual. House's Head really broke free from the mold, and created a very trippy and fun ride, and the finale was genuinely moving and well played. It was nice to let the show be about the characters more than the medicine, just like in the first 2 seasons. Wilson has been House's single support system since their college days, and having that not only taken away, but having House be the reason, is very interesting storytelling. And props to the writers for the fan service "you can't always get what you want" line. It brought a big smile to my face.

GTA4: What can I say that hasn't already been said? Grand Theft Auto 4 is a lot of fun, and has an amazingly detailed and living world. Am I having fun though? Well, yes and no. I am at the age now where I do not always have 3+ hours to sit and play a game, and GTA4 requires quite a bit of dedication. I am about 8 hours in, and am finally at the point where I can start doing single missions without having to worry that my phone will be ringing every 2 seconds with another mission that I am practically forced to take, or penalized for ignoring.
Oh, and for those of you who don't know, you can turn off the phone and the story mode! There is an option in the phone that lets you turn off messages and calls so you can freely roam around and have wacky car jacky fun. The manual and even in game tutorials (which I am still going through... there is a LOT to learn) never mention this feature, making it extremely difficult to pop in for a quick 30 minute session. Now that I have Little Jacob as a friend, have email access and can take cab fares, I can play for 45 minutes before going to bed instead of worrying about getting stuck in the game an hour passed the time I want to get into bed.
Are there issues other than that? Sure. Like the cops will stop chasing you when a mission ends, taking away from the realism and suspense. Trees are made of solid steel, which lamp posts and poles are made of ply wood. And I suck at free aiming when using weapons, the characters are usually too small on screen to make this useful.
But again, am I having fun? For the most part, definitely. I love that I now know the city and its streets well enough that I actually know where I am (at least on the main island) and the story is really done quite well. I still have a very long way to go, but so far, now that I have learned how the game works, I am looking forward to getting to the end of this one.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

R.I.P. - 2005-2008

Back in later 2005, a quick trip to Walmart lead me to the shampoo aisle. I soon found myself picking up a bottle of Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo, with 20% Free with purchase. The 20% came in the actual bottle, so no fancy mail ordering or moving liquid from one container to another was necessary.

Since that time, I have washed my hair between 3 and 4 times each week. That is 3.3 times per week on average for 2.5 years. That comes out to approximately 415 times that I have washed my hair, and every time, I used this shampoo, and the bottle has only run out now.

Many say the bottle was blessed. Some say the bottle was cursed. Some say water got into the bottle during each shower because I never clicked the cap closed. No matter the reason, this single bottle of shampoo has lasted me for two and a half years. It has been a good friend, a descent source or hair cleaning product, and constant reminder of inappropriate Adam Sandler song lyrics.

Tonight, we say farwell to my close friend, Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo with 20% Free with purchase that did not run out for 2.5 years. Or, as I always referred to it as, "SDCSw20%Fwptdnrof2.5y."

Goodnight sweet prince!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

It Is Like Watching Moving Pictures On My TV!...

Nintendo launched the brilliantly named Nintendo Channel earlier this week for the Wii. The Channel does several things, including show game preview movies and interviews with Nintendo muckamucks like Miyamoto himself. The service also does things in the background, like detect your type of TV, how often you play games, and even what types of games you play. The service sends this info back to Nintendo, and will even provide you with game recommendations depending on what you play.

My favorite aspect of this service is the free DS game demos. Simply access the game you wish to try, turn on your DS, and presto, free demo for upcoming and already released games. Last night I tried out Ninja Gaiden DS and Jam Sessions. And ya know what? I had so much fun with Jam Sessions that I went online and bought the damn thing! Got it cheap too :)

What does this teach us? That if you give people a chance to try the product, consumers may actually purchase it! WHAT A FASCINATING CONCEPT!

Let us hope that Wii game demos and Virtual Console demos appear at some point, and that we get no shortage of things to try. While Nintendo is still "winning" the current hardware war in pure number of units sold (namely, all of the ones they build are sold) they have been lacking in software and Wii specific features. This is another step in the right direction, but until we get rid of freaking game-specific Friend Codes and see more AAA titles, I will keep playing my 360 more often than my Wii.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Buffy Top 10: Part 5...

#5 Who Are You?: Faith is my 2nd favorite character in the Buffyverse, following Giles as my numero uno. Her character is the most fascinating and curious of all the characters Joss has created. From her initial taking over of Buffy's life, to the unstable renegade teenager, to the murderous right hand to Mayor Wilkins, her journey has always kept me glued to the TV. So when Faith came out of her coma, and was back on the scene towards the end of season 4, I was expecting something good. What I got, was something great.

Without a doubt, the best acting by in the series is done here by Eliza Dushku. Long story short (I never get tired of saying that), Mayor Wilkins leaves Faith a device that will allow her to swap bodies with someone else, and of course, she swaps with Buffy. This is actually a 2 parter, with This Year's Girl preceding the episode, containing Faith's awakening, finding the weapon and battle with Buffy. That episode ends with Faith having just body swapped with Buffy, but no one except the audience is aware. Mind you, the only way you KNOW they swapped is because when Joyce asks "Buffy" if she is OK, after knocking out "Faith", Faith-in-Buffy responds with a sinister 5 by 5.

Eliza Dushku captures Sarah Michelle Gellar's mannerisms and speech patterns perfectly. The scene where Buffy-in-Faith goes into Gile's apartment, trying to convince him that she is not actually Faith is the best of all. The dialogue goes as follows:

Giles: "Look, I know what you are going to say, and..."
BiF: "I'm Buffy."
Giles: "All right, I didn't know what you were going to say, but that doesn't make you any less crazy. If you are Buffy, then you will let me tie you up without killing me until we find whether you are telling the truth."
BiF: "Giles, Faith has taken my body, and for all I know she's taken it to Mexico by now. I don't have time for bondage fun. Ask me a question, ask me anything."
Giles: "Who's President?"
BiF: "We're checking for Buffy, not a concussion. Giles, you turned into a demon, and I knew it was you. I mean, can't you just look in my eyes and be all intuitive?
Giles: How did I turn into a demon?
BiF: Oh, 'cause, uh, Ethan Rayne. And-and you have a girlfriend named Olivia... and you haven't had a job since we blew up the school... which is valid lifestyle-wise. I mean, it's not like you're a slacker type, but - Oh, oh! When I had psychic power I heard my mother think that you were like a stevedore during sex. Do you want me to continue?"
Giles: "Actually I beg you to stop."
BiF: "What's a stevedore?"

Only a long time fan would truly understand how wonderful this scene, and Eliza's job in it, truly is. But there is more to this episode than just the acting. We once again get to see the vilification's of the Watcher's Council, it is confirmed for the first time that Willow and Tara have more than just a friendship forming, and we learn that Tara is a more powerful and intuitive witch than those we have seen before. This chain of events also leads to the crossover with Angel in L.A. where Faith finally accepts her bad choices and tries to make amends, with some excellent Angel episodes from his freshman season.

I can't figure out how to close this post out.... so I will leave you with Faith in Buffy talking to spike:
Spike: "You know why I really hate you, Summers?"
Faith-in-Buffy: "'Cause I'm a stuck-up tight-ass with no sense of fun?"
Spike: "Well, yeah, that covers a lot of it."
Faith-in-Buffy: "'Cause I can do anything I want, and instead I choose to pout and whine and feel the burden of Slayerness? I mean, I could be rich. I could be famous. I could have anything. Anyone. Even you, Spike. I could ride you at a gallop until your legs buckled and your eyes rolled up. I've got muscles you've never even dreamed of. I could squeeze you until you popped like warm champagne, and you would beg me to hurt you just a little bit more. And you know why I don't? (pauses) Because it's wrong."

Monday, May 5, 2008

Buffy Top 10: Part 4...

#4 Becoming (Parts 1&2): Becoming might be the most appropriately named Buffy episode, as it truly defined what the show was about, and specifically, formed Buffy into the woman she is today. The 2nd season finale, these 2 episodes, aired a week apart, proved to any non-believer that Buffy, as a show, had a lot more to it than just some skinny blonde chick kicking demon ass.

So much is revealed shown and in these episodes, namely how Angel became a vampire, Willow’s first time with witchcraft, Spike showing that he is more than the average vampire, how insane Angelus is compared to the average demon, and Buffy revealing to her mother that she is the Slayer.

Long long LOOOONG story short, Buffy is out for blood now that Angel, soul-less and evil after sleeping with Buffy and having one moment of true happiness, has killed Ms Calendar and harassed Buffy and pals non-stop. Angel wants to awaken the demon Acathla , who will suck the world into Hell. Angel kidnaps and tortures Giles on how to awaken the demon, Spike sides with Buffy, as he doesn’t actually want the world to end and wants Drucilla back to being his alone, and Drucilla injures Willow and Xander, and kills Kendra without a drop of sweat. Buffy marches into battle against Angel, fighting him in an epic sword fight. Buffy has nowhere to go, everyone has either died or abandoned her.

Acathla’s mouth opens, and the world starts being sucked into Hell. Buffy has the advantage, and is about to finish both Angel and Acathla by driving the sword through Angel into the demon statue. Buffy pulls back her sword, ready to plunge, when suddenly, Angel changes, his soul returns thanks to Willow back in the hospital. Realizing what must be done, Buffy says her tearful goodbye to the confounded Angel, then thrusts her sword through her love, and sends Angel to Hell, and closing the portal.

The season ends with Buffy leaving town, no one knowing what actually happened in the battle with Angel and where Buffy has gone. You can read more about my personal experience with this episode and it’s close by CLICKING HERE! Buffy’s sacrifice to save the world cemented the show, and Buffy’s place in history, and proved to the world that, yes, you guessed it, Joss Whedon is evil.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Buffy Top 10: Part 3...

#3 Hush: Other than being evil (see previous post) Joss Whedon is probably best known for having amazing dialogue in all of his works, from Buffy to Firefly to Toy Story.... yes, Toy Story. So it came as a big surprise to many that the much hyped 10th episode of the 4th season of Buffy, titled Hush, would contain very little speaking at all. Other than the lack of much dialogue, Hush is also best known for being the only episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that was nominated for an Acadamy Award for writing.

The episode starts out with Buffy daydreaming in class (about new beau Riley (few dates, no kiss yet)) with the daydream turning into a strange nightmare, with a little girl singing a song about demons named The Gentlemen. She tells Giles about the dream, and he says he will research it. Willow is still recovering from Oz's recent departure, and decides to join the college Wicca group, who discuss nothing about magic and spells, and instead discuss bake sales and "menstrual lifeforce." When she points out the lack of magic talk, she is mocked by the group, except for one young lady, named Tara, who seems quite eager to hear more of what Willow has to say. Anya is on Xander's back about what their relationship is about other than "lots of orgasms." Meanwhile, Giles is entertaining a female friend from the UK, and has had the neutered Spike moved to Xander's basement for the visit. This is discussed in one of the best lines of the season:

Giles: I have a friend who's coming to town, and I'd like us to be alone.
Anya: Oh, you mean an orgasm friend?
Giles: Yes, that's exactly the most appalling thing you could have said.

After all this exposition, The Gentleman appear and steal the voices of everyone in Sunnydale. This is where things get interesting. We start with Buffy and Willow realizing they have no voices, and then Xander tries calling Buffy on the phone, realizing that there is no way to communicate, and he starts blaming Spike for their current situation. Everyone arrives at Giles' and they watch a newscast announcing the current predicament. The newscasters voice is the last one we hear until the end of the episode, and all of the acting is pantomime. This is what makes Hush so incredible, is everything that happens while no one is able to talk.

Some brilliant scenes come out of the silence. Buffy and Riley finally kiss while helping the towns people at night, helping to prevent the mayhem caused by a town now gone mad. When Xander returns to Giles' apartment, he finds spike hanging over Anya's sleeping frame with blood around his mouth, and Xander, believing Spike has attacked Anya, jumps to the rescue, making Anya quite happy, and frisky. The best scene of all is the one where Giles explains to the Scoobies what The Gentleman are and why they are in Sunnydale. Camille Saint-Saens' "Danse Macabre" plays while Giles uses an overhead projector to show his crudely drawn pictures of The Gentleman and Buffy. This scene is one of the funniest in the series, despite the masturbatory and boobies related humor. This is also where Willow and Tara finally meet, warding off one of the Gentleman, which winds up being a big turn for the series.

The Gentleman and their helpers are amazingly well done. They are very pale, almost bone white men in black suits. They have enormous toothy grins, and use slow, methodical movements. Imagine polite skeletons with tight skin and you will get the idea. The Gentlemen float slowly through the air with an eerie calm about them. To contrast their subtle ways, their henchmen are loping, arm flailing demons, wrapped in straight jackets and chains.

As if there was any doubt, Buffy, with the aide of Riley, defeat The Gentleman and gets everyone's voices back. During the fight, Buffy and Riley both realize that the other is something more than merely college students, and the episode ends with them seeing that they both need to explain who and what they are. In another brilliant ending, Joss ends the episode with the following, taken directly from the Hush script (which I actually own):

Well. I guess we have to talk.
Buffy: I guess we do.
(The two sit in awkward, dead silence.)

Credits Roll