Friday, August 17, 2007 


So, I was very skeptical about this movie, the trailer, quite frankly, looked like crap.
However, something weird happened, I started hearing people compare it to the Princess Bride. This warranted further investigation.

Fast forward to tonight, I was getting ready to go to a "Goodbye Barbeque" for people leaving for college. I don't really want to go, I dislike the people who will be there, so I call a friend, and she says she wants to see Stardust.

I cannot say enough good things about it. A million times more fun than the party would have been.
It just made me feel good all the way through. I know it'll have that endless capability for rewatching, just like The Princess Bride.

And hey, who doesn't want to see Rober DeNiro flounce around as a gay pirate?

Sunday, March 25, 2007 

S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl

So, it's finally out, and I am loving it.

I've barely started playing, only about an hour and a half in, but already I'm seeing way more content and acerage than I can reasonably handle. The game looks like it is going to be huge.

The gameplay style is an interesting mix, the main body of an FPS, with an RPG style quest/trading aspect, and a healthy plot. The atmosphere is thick, and I'm pretty much paranoid while playing the game, wondering if there are 'anomalies' around, constantly looking around. The environmental sounds are a huge part of the game, and it's one of those times I'm really glad to have a surround setup, to hear things creeping up on me, twigs breaking, etc.

There is no room for anyone to play Rambo here, as I found out on my first combat mission. You die easily, and need to remember that. Working with other stalkers, raher than against them makes everything easier, even if you might not get as much 'loot.'

The ambient AI, and interaction looks to be very well executed. Your actions affect how other stalkers treat you, and can hurt, or help you. There is a real, lived in feeling, watching some rookie stalkers around a campfire, playing guitar, smoking, and talking.

The graphics, too, are impressive. A real, gritty world exists around you, with very intricate textures, and very impressive lighting effects. Now, it won't win the award for best graphics of the year, but it certainly looks good.

I can't reccomend it enough.

Sunday, October 29, 2006 

The Prestige


   I went and saw "The Prestige" last night with a group of friends, and let me tell you, it was amazing.
*Note on the viewing environment: I watched the movie from the floor about 8 feet from the screen, laying back on two beanbag chairs, quite possibly the best way to watch a movie, ever.

   The movie centers around two magicians in late 1800's england, and their rivalry. Unfortunately, the plot includes so much surprise, so many twists, that I can't adequately describe it without ruining at least part of the movie. Allow me to quote the synopsis from
   "A mysterious story of two magicians whose intense rivalry leads them on a life-long battle for supremacy -- full of obsession, deceit and jealousy with dangerous and deadly consequences. From the time that they first met as young magicians on the rise, Robert Angier and Alfred Borden were competitors. However, their friendly competition evolves into a bitter rivalry making them fierce enemies-for-life and consequently jeopardizing the lives of everyone around them. Set against the backdrop of turn-of-the-century London."

   With that out of the way, let me get to the meat of my review. The leads are excellently acted by both Jackman and Bale, who brings a special gravitas to every role he touches. The supporting cast is similarly apt, though Caine seems to be marginalized in his role; And Johanssen is forced to devote a large part of her screen time to displaying her "assets" rather than her acting talents.
   The story is told in a disrupted timeline, but not a disjointed one a la Pulp Fiction or Memento. The device works to great effect, really drawing you in to trying to work out the plot ahead of time.
   And what a plot it is, the entire movie is one intrigue after another, the final half hour being expecially packed with twists.
   This is one of those rare cases where everything about a movie just clicks, making for a rich, layered experience I continued to enjoy even after exiting the theater, and into the next day.

I dislike scores, but, here, you monkeys.

Sunday, July 16, 2006 

The Producers: The movie musical

Title: The Producers: The movie musical

Starring: Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman

Director: Susan Stroman

      You've loved it as a movie, America adored it as a Broadway musical, and now we can all laugh again with The Producers: The movie musical! Yes, Mel Brooks, the only man shrewd enough, crude enough, and Jewish enough, has decided to cash in on the Producers a third time! And the taste is ever so sweet, the third time is just as much of a charm as the first and second.

     Heading the bill are Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, who starred in the Broadway adaptation. They shine on screen, with Broderick channeling the shy Leo Bloom, and Lane schmoozing his way into our hearts as big time Broadway producer Max Bialystock. The duo have perfect on screen chemistry, bouncing off of one another in a way not seen in recent cinema. Broderick is one of the most undervalued actors in Hollywood, and this film ought to send him where he belongs, the A list. But the real center of attention is Lane, who manages to mug for the camera, and sing his heart out at the same time.

     Joining them on screen is the vivacious Uma Thurman, slipping into the role of Swedish bombshell Oola. The role of Oola has certainly been beefed up since the original, and it's a good thing too, the romance between her and Bloom evens out the picture, and brings a sappy smile to the face. But the real scene stealer here is Will Ferrel, as the crazy Nazi playwright, as is his modicum, Ferrel becomes the character, cutting loose in his exclamations of love for the Fuhrer.

     The movie really hit's it's stride in the bold, outspoken, downright 'stage-acting,' manner it is played. Everything is bigger, especially the laughs. When we hear the first notes of “Springtime for Hitler,” everything falls into place, we bask in the absurdity, and love it. The film works surprisingly well as a musical, connecting on a level that this reviewer has had no other show match.

     Mel Brooks is one of the hardest working men in showbiz, co-writing the script, producing, and even writing the pitch perfect music. It's a real treat to see one of the few true masters of the shtick basking in the glow of fat piles of cash.

     The Producers delivers, and there is seldom a moment where you won't either be gaping at the screen, or doubled over with laughter. So even if you aren't a fan of musicals, treat yourself, and watch this.

Final Score: 10/10


Sunday, July 09, 2006 

Pirates of the Carribean review

Friday, June 30, 2006 

Penny Arcade: Attack of the bacon robots

Penny Arcade: Attack of the bacon robots
Authors: Mike Krahulik (illustration) & Jerry Holkins (writing)
Publisher: Dark horse
Format: Paperback (thick), heavy paper, Lustrous color, excellent printing quality

Review body:
Ah, Penny Arcade, staple of the gamer lifestyle, giant among web-comics. Starting on November 18, 1998 by roommates Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, the strip has become the the biggest (or second, depending who you ask) comic on the internet. The comic centers on two gamers; John Gabirel[Krahulik] , and Tycho Brahe[Holkins], avatars of their creators. The humor of the strip is Gaming and tech centric, although it does make forays into character based strips. Continuity is generally avoided, though certain changes do stick, such as the transformation of the character "Charles."
After years of existing, and thriving online, to such a degree that the authors now make the comic their full time job, a decision was reached, to publish a compilation. Unfortunately, it seems there were various legal troubles, and a completely different book, though details are sketchy. Nonetheless, the book was finally published, a compendium of the first two years of the comic.

Does that mean that long time readers and obsessed fans with every comic saved on their hard drive (guilty) have nothing new to look forward to? No, included in this volume is commentary from Jerry Holkins (AKA Tycho). I wish that there was something from both of them, as they have a great rapport (See: Penny arcade podcast). That said, the commentary is often humorous, and sometimes insightful. To a veteran reader of the strip, the commentary may seem anemic, compared to the gigantic newsposts that accompany each new strip on the webpage, but it's important to view this book as an addendum to the website. As the comics in this volume were written 5-6 years ago, it's easy to understand when, on occasion, even Holkins forgets what they were thinking. Invariably, he comes up with something to say about each one though, lending this book an atmosphere reminiscent to sitting down and reading the comics with him. To those interested, it also gives a real feel for the circumstances in which the comics were written, you can glean some info about the process too.

Reading through this archive is something. Penny Arcade deals with current events, as such, the comics can occasionally feel dated. But it serves as a nostalgia trip, and most of the comics are independently funny, as long as one has at least a passing familiarity with videogames and their history. For the hardcore gamer though, it is the equivalent of sitting down with an old friend, and recalling old times.

Bottom line
Oh, so worth it.

Sunday, April 09, 2006 

Franz Ferdinand - You could have it so much better

Title: You could have it so much better
Artist: Franz Ferdinand
Record Label: Sony - BMG
1. Fallen, The
2. Do You Want To
3. This Boy
4. Walk Away
5. Evil And A Heathen
6. You're The Reason I'm Leaving
7. Eleanor Put Your Boots On
8. Well That Was Easy
9. What You Meant
10. I'm Your Villian
11. You Could Have It So Much Better
12. Fade Together
13. Outsiders

The highly anticipated followup to their 2004 debut, the new Franz Ferdinand disc delivers. The opening track sets a tone followed through most of the album, an easily hummable, very catchy, and engaging sound. The lyrics, while none too serious, seem to be well thought out, and manage to avoid being offensive, while seeming slightly biting. The lyricism hits it's high point in 'Walk away,' With it's beautiful and seemingly narrative vibe. Showing some lyrical panache, Kapranos croons in the intro; "I swapped my innocence for pride
Crushed the end within my stride
Said 'I'm strong now I know that I'm a leaver"
I love the sound of you walking away
Mascara bleeds a blackened tear
And I am cold
Yes I'm cold
But not as cold as you are
I love the sound of you walking away"

The low point of the album may be seen as 'This boy,' which, despite it's excellent intro, slides into a highly irritable chorus of "I want a car!" Though bad, this is easily forgiven, as it is mercifully short.

Conversly, the best song on here, is, in my (highly worthwhile) opinion, 'Evil and a Heathen.' Easily the heaviest track in terms of pure rock, this is a louder, faster song than most of the rest. While it is good, it is easy to see why this was not the track selected as the single to promote the album, it is not representative of the album as a whole.

Unfortunately, the band seems to have succumbed to one of the common mistakes that seem to plague sophomore albums. They have identified the componont of their debut albums success, and seem to have mistaken the song structure for a unique sound. this translates to a large number of the songs containing a very similar 'lead up, drop and go' feel. Luckily, this is still a good thing, though I may reccomend after digesting the album several times all the way through, it works better as seperate parts than as a whole, and is composed of singles, rather than a sort of musical journey. Perfect ingredients for playlists.

The genius of Franz Ferdinand, and I believe on of the reasons that they stand so far above the rest of the 'New-new wave' phenom, is that they allow even the most pedestrian of listeners to feel as though they are listening to something arty, whilst still getting good music. Their competitors (IE; Bloc party, the killers, et al) all seem to be more concerned with their makeup than their songwriting. The "music for girls to dance to" kids seem to be doing all-right.

Score: 8/10