Thursday, February 28, 2008

Movies to miss in March

Our epic look at craptacular cinema continues. (For the record, my spellcheck no longer tries to correct "craptacular." Victory is sweet.)

I'm surprised to say DVD is looking pretty dang sweet in March. From Into the Wild to No Country For Old Men, the selection is solid. I wasn't too big on I am Legend, but it wasn't really bad enough to warrant my over-the-top bashing.

Theaters, though, hold a few films guaranteed to make you experience buyer's remorse. In no particular order, do your best to avoid the following movies.

10,000 B.C.- I'm no math whiz, but I'm pretty sure Egypt did not exist 10,000 years before we changed the letters to A.D. Also, I'm supposed to believe these cavemen are not only white, dread-locked hippies, but they also spoke English and co-existed with dinosaurs?...This is just too easy. I'm sure the CG will be cool and the action "heart pounding," but count me out.

Superhero Movie- Let me make this very clear: Hollywood will not stop producing this schlock until you folks stop going to see it. It's insulting how these studios can find it okay to string together similarly themed movies with nothing more than a countless barrage of overused bad jokes. Give me a real parody and I'll give it a chance. As for crap like Superhero Movie, though, I can't decide if I'm more sad or angry at those folk who actually pay good money to justify its existence.

Never Back Down-
Oh look, it's Ralph Machi...Wait. That's not the Karate Kid? What's that you say? It's a horrible rip-off of a 1980s classic and cheap attempt at cashing in on the latest trend? Thanks, Never Back Down, I'm sure you'll only set MMA's progression into legitimacy back a few years or so.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Movie of da week- The Darjeeling Limited

My advice to you, darling readers, is to basically avoid the movie theaters at all costs this weekend. Unless, of course, you're going to see anything that didn't come out this week. It's kind of a poo-fest in the new releases department.

30 Days of Night hit DVD this week, and it's a pretty decent vampire flick, but my pick goes to Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited.

Though critically less well received than his other flicks, Anderson's The Life Aquatic is one of my all-time favorite movies. Everything about it just hit a chord with me. Darjeeling being his latest work since Aquatic, I can't help but feel Anderson fans are in for a real treat.

With the badical ensemble of Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman playing a group of dysfunctional brothers trying to reconnect during a road trip across India, I assume wit and dark humor will abound. Expect a review soon, but don't think you have to wait to go rent it...Are you renting it yet?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Games to get in March

For those who experienced the gaming surpluss of late '07 and lived (financially) to tell about it, get ready for round two. March (Or as I like to call it, Newnovember) is a huge month for videogames.

Say goodbye to a C-note and hello to more digital entertainment than you could possibly cram into a mere 30 days. I give you the pick of the litter for Newnovember's games.

3rd- Bully: Scholarship Edition (Wii, 360)
4th- God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP)
4th- Army of Two (PS3, 360)
9th- Super Smash Brothers Brawl (Wii)
11th- Wild Arms XF (PSP)
11th- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates (DS)
11th- Condemned 2: Bloodshot (PS3, 360)
18th-Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (PS3, 360)
18th- Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds (PS3)
25th- Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP)
25th- Okami (Wii)
25th- Obscure: The Aftermath (Wii)
25th- Dark Sector (PS3, 360)

I guess it would be wrong to complain about too much of a good thing, but come on guys, spread it out a little. April and May are looking kind of lonely.

I was going to give extra space to my top picks of the top picks, but there are simply too many quality games to get into all at once. I will, however, say I'm extra excited to enjoy some of the upcoming portable action on the recently announced God of War PSP. Sa-weeeeeeet!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday mini-movies- Sneezing panda edition

The Jeff insists I include embedded videos every now and again on staticEchoes. He claims it will help rake in a million-kabillion viewers...We'll see.

Here's how it works. Each Monday I will post a random clip. If you want to take part in the next week's edition, all you have to do is comment with a single word and I'll combine as many of those as possible in my search for the next clip.

So, here's this week's video with a panda sneezing. Prepare to watch it half a dozen times and be sure to post your word for next week's post.

Phil Harrison leaves Sony

This is actually a bit of a sad day for me. Phil Harrison, President of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, announced he will be quitting his position.

Why a sad day? Because I genuinely like the guy. Not only was he a fantastic spin doctor through the Playstation 3's bumpy first year, but he's also responsible for some of the better ideas which have helped turn the system around in 2008.

On top of all that, he just seems like a nice, genuine guy with no ego following him around. That can be hard to find in this business.

Read all about it here.

I'm a bit shocked. PS3 is making a huge comeback, making this the perfect time to ride the Sony wave and, seemingly out of nowhere, the man set to bask in the majority of that glory decides to hit the road.

Good luck in whatever you move on to Phil. But just between you and I, you aren't really going to Atari are you? Color me doubly confused if so.

Valkyria Chronicles set to invade the west

Go ahead and file this one under some of the best gaming news to come out so far this year.

For those new to the blog, I'm kind of in love with this game I've never played yet. Originally Valkyrie of the Battlefield, now Valkyria Chronicles (not sure why the name change), this real-time strategy roleplaying game breaks genre boundaries to incorporate some third-person shooting.

Rather than point, click, point, click, watch attack; players will now choose their actions via grid-based battlefields and actually perform said actions themselves- moving around within a set area and putting bullets and tank rounds into individual enemies.

Add to this a quirky looking cast of character and some of the most badical graphics ever (made to look like an oil painting) and you have the makings of a serious hit.

Sega announced today the game, formerly only set to release in Japan, will now be making its way to Europe and the U.S. some time this fall.

I'm doing a happy dance while I type this.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Echo calls the Oscars

Pardon the overabundance of movie posts as of late, but tis the season. On to business. Them Academy Awards committee folk are questionable, so here's your chance to get the scoop on this year's films from someone slightly less questionable. Without further ado, here are my picks for the "big six" of the 2008 Academy Awards. Not necessarily who I think will win, but rather who I think deserves to win. For a look at all the candidates, check out IMDB.

Best Motion Picture of the Year
While I feel No Country for Old Men is fantastic and more accessible than There Will be Blood, my nod for picture of the year has to go to the gritty oil epic. With an astronomically good performance from Daniel Day Lewis casting a shadow over all other actors and actresses this year, superb writing, direction and a genuine contribution to "film as art," Blood was quite simply the best movie to grace the silver screen this year. Screw you Atonement. If you steal another award from this masterpiece I'm gonna hunt you down like a rabid dog and put you in the ground.

Best Actor
Um...gee...maybe I'll go with George Clooney in...WRONG! Daniel Day Lewis by a mile.

Best Actress
Daniel Day Lewis. Seriously, he's THAT good. Seriously though, I'm going with Laura Linney in The Savages. In all honesty, I haven't seen the film yet, but that doesn't stop the Academy from voting now does it?

Best supporting actor
Is the Day Lewis joke old already? Fine. We'll give it to Javier Bardem, the second best performance of the year overall and one of my favorite roles of all time. I think I could hear him say "call it, friend-o" a hundred times a day and it would never get old.

Best supporting actress
Though I think it's awesome Cate Blanchett was willing to take a huge risk with I'm Not There, the few scenes featuring Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton were dy-no-mite.

Best Director
A real tough one. The four directors' work I know from the selections managed wonders, but There Will Be Blood was the most powerful of the lot, largely due to the phenomenal direction by Paul Thomas Anderson. In the end, though, there were no losers in this category.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Movie of da week- Call it, friend-o

Seriously, flip a freaking coin.

There I was, looking up this week's movies, expecting to find myself in a bit of a conundrum when, blam-o, I'm hit by a veritable wall of quality options.

In theaters we've got Be Kind Rewind and Vantage Point while DVD offers Michael Clayton, American Gangster and In the Valley of Elah. My head is spinning.

If you're headed to the silver screen this weekend, I'm going to give the oddball duo of Jack Black and Mos Def the underdog nod and recommend you find an indie theater and prepare to have a good time with Be Kind Rewind.

Looking for a night in? I've only seen Michael Clayton from the selection and I can guarantee it's a well acted, taught drama, but In the Valley of Elah has been on my "must see" list for quite some time. That's the one I'll be watching this week, anyway.

So, sorry for the lack of anything concrete, but I honestly think you could throw a dart at that list (printed out so as not to destroy your desktop) and come away feeling like you'd had two hours well spent. Get at em!

The Juno soundtrack rockth

It rockth tho hard.

For those who have seen the movie, you know what I'm talking about.

The "one word" sum-up is simply this: quirky.

From memorable tunes like Buddy Holly's "Dearest"and Sonic Youth's "Superstar" to the handful of offbeat dities by Kimya Dawson, every one of the 19 songs offered should effortlessly bring a smile to your face.

Call it a guilty pleasure, but I'm totally in love with this soundtrack.

Spider-wicked: The Spiderwick Chronicles review

Okay, so I realize that header is a bit of a groaner...I apologize.

I almost recommended The Spiderwick Chronicles as my "Movie of da Week" seven days ago and, it turns out, it wouldn't have been a bad move.

I realize most of the folk reading this are probably scoffing at the thought of seeing a "kids movie" but, dang it, I enjoys me a good kids movie. As such, I have no qualms giving one its kudos when earned.

Spiderwick earns them kudos. It earns em good-like.

Being a Nickelodeon film, I was actually quite surprised with how many risks director Mark Waters and company were willing to take. I would definitely not take my niece to see this one. The monsters are loud and in your face, some of the content is a bit mature and the action gets intense at times.

This adult edge, coupled with a cast willing to take the material seriously, a few decently deep moral dilemmas, gorgeous special effects and nice character development, makes Spiderwick a perfectly accessible fantasy film for older kids and adults alike.

When it comes to the countless children's novel-turned-movies out these days, it's nice to see some folks are still willing to put in the time and attention necessary to craft a solid picture rather than just cash in on the name.

HD-DVD bites the dust

It would be nice to envision the death of HD-DVD as a lone bugler softly playing Taps somewhere on the Toshiba back lot while a quiet, respectful ceremony unfolds with closest family and friends on hand to see the doomed format off into the great beyond to join the likes of Laserdisc and Betamax.

Given the months of back and forth battle with eventual triumphant competitor Blu-Ray and studio swapping reminiscent of a round of Pokemon, not to mention the slew of deathblows dealt by Warner Brothers exclusivity, Wal-Mart exclusivity, Netflix exclusivity and Best Buy's promise to support the big Blu disc, the end came more like a thoroughly beaten horse being drug into the back yard and receiving a single round from a .45 to the cranium.

All I can say is thank God.This "war" has been ridiculous. I won't rant. I want to. But since the whole mess has finally come to a crashing halt, I'll simply say it was irresponsible of Toshiba to carry on for so long under the guise of "looking out for the consumer" when their actions accomplished nothing more than scamming early adopters out of a couple hundred more bucks each.

For the full story, check out Joystiq. As for this blogger, I'm happy I'll never have to write about this again.
*knocks on wood*

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Movie of da week- Gone Baby Gone

This week is a breath of fresh air in the merry land of movies. There's way too much deja' vu going on these days. Both February and March play host to movies starring Martin Lawrence, crappy Japanese horror movie knock-offs and even crappier parody flicks. Expect to hear more about those March offerings in the upcoming Movies to Miss post.

While The Spiderwhick Chronicles could turn out to be a fantastic little fantasy film, two sure-to-be gritty hits popped a cap in the collective ass of magical creatures everywhere this week while just one nabbed my weekly pick.

We Own the Night looks pretty good. I'm looking forward to seeing Joaquin Phoenix portray his seediest character since the punk college student porn store clerk in 8mm. Also, the thought of Phoenix being the Kain to Marc Wahlberg's Able makes me believe the two have got to produce some decent electricity on the silver screen.

My pick for the week, though, goes to Gone Baby Gone
. I'm watching it tonight, so expect a review soon. Casey Affleck is the big draw for me here. As his Golden Globe nomination helps prove, the kid has grown to be a rather decent actor. Who would have thought dodging big brother Ben's goofy shadow in the entertainment biz would eventually evolve this rising star into what could be one of the better performers of this younger generation?

Anyway, yeah. Affleck is joined by the likes of Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris and Michelle Monaghan in what should be a gripping, taut thriller about a girl who gets kidnapped and the men and women desperately trying to save her. Sounds like Sunday evening fun for the whole family to me!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Comics: Wasteland, Locke and Key

I'm back, once again, trying to expand my dear readerseses horizons with not one, but two comic book offerings.

Wasteland: Cities in Dust- First up is Wasteland: Cities in Dust. My only qualm with this post-apocalyptic western is the fact the story is so well told I kept having to backtrack to enjoy the art since my eyes would not slow down long enough to take it all in the first time through.

The story takes place somewhere in the U.S. after an event called The Big Wet, leaving the world a baron wasteland (get it!) where humankind (and not-so-humankind) has divided into scattered tribes of those wishing to live more simple lives and those striving for the progress that may have damned them all in the first place. The world is amazingly fleshed out and the characters are interesting, believable, and full of some captivating dialogue.

This first volume collects six issues for ten bucks, so you really can't go wrong. Wasteland is a fantastic read.

Locke and Key, issue 1- IDW Publishing's latest offering, Locke and Key, comes from the dark and twisted mind of Joe Hill, son of uuber-author Stephen King and author of his own New York Times bestseller Heart-Shaped Box. With Gabriel Rodriguez (Clive Barker's The Great and Secret Show) taking on the art, this maniacal duo have put together what could evolve into a sleeper hit for fans of things that go bump in the night.

Set in the sleepy New England town of Lovecraft, Locke and Key revolves around three siblings who, upon moving into their family home of Key House, discover not every door simply leads to the next room.

In this first issue, Hill does a good job of setting the scene, letting readers know little can be labeled "ordinary" in the world his characters inhabit. From a madman being guided by an unseen force to gruesome encounters and other-worldly experiences, mystery and intrigue drips from every page.

While Hill is busy cramming a lot of story into a single book, Rodriguez returns with his trademark style utilizing bold colors and meticulously detailed character expressions. The art does a fantastic job of saying what the characters can't and, as such, compliments Hill's words perfectly.

There's a lot of heart and plenty of emotion packed into this first issue and I for one eagerly await my second journey into Key House. For those who like suspense with plenty of brains, Locke and Key should be a perfect fit.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Movie of da week- In Bruges

This week's movie recommendation might be hard to track down. I'm pretty sure it's opening in limited release at first, but I'm willing to bet it's worth the hunt.

In Bruges gets a nod based on cast alone. I'm a fan of Colin Farrell, and a huge fan of both Ralph Fiennes and Brendan Gleeson. What little I've seen of the action and dialogue in the trailer have me itching for more. Reminiscent of films like Snatch or Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, if nothing else, In Bruges should have enough bang-bang and witty one-liners to keep interest up.

The film is about an "odd couple" set of hitmen who, after an assignment gone wrong, find themselves laying low in the less-than-exciting city of Bruges. A rival hitman shows up and, of course, Bruges becomes a whole lot more exciting in the process.

Being director Martin McDonagh's first big budget project, I'm not necessarily expecting anything revolutionary here. I do, however, expect to enjoy the back and forth banter and stylish gunplay almost certain to occupy the majority of the film's runtime.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

UFC 82: Now with 50 percent less Arlovski

I'm not angry so much as disappointed.

No. Wait. Scratch that. I'm pretty dang angry. Dana White has a throat punch waiting with his name on it.

Thank you for crushing my hopes of getting to see Andrei Arlovski on the big screen this March. As the mixed martial arts site recently posted, the heavyweight bout between former champion and all around badass Nosvarlovski with soon-to-be no longer breathing Jake O'Brien will not be televised during UFC 82 on March 1. Instead, Arlovski will be thrown in the mix with the other four under-cards like some rookie just getting started in the sport.

Granted, the card is stacked, featuring the likes of Cheick Kongo, Yushin Okami, Diego Sanches and Josh Koscheck, but seriously, you're going to snub The Pitbull??? Yes, his contract is ending somewhat messily and putting him on the main card would be like doing promotions for whichever league he goes onto next, but this is almost insulting. Arlovski is a fantastic athlete who has made the UFC a buttload of money. The least White can do is let the man leave with a bang.

I'm going to do my best to watch the prelim fights via the internet before the main event gets aired, but there's a lot that can go wrong with that setup. I just hate to think I might have to miss the last UFC appearance from one of my all-time favorite fighters.

Damn yous Dana White.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Rather random rantings

Superbowl XLII- Is it just me, or would the Superbowl benefit greatly from dropping the numbering system and switching over to subtitles? All the best ("best" being used very, very loosely here) movies do it, so why not the Superbowl? This year's could have been something like Superbowl: The Patriots Act. Or maybe Superbowl: Defenses collide. Or even better, it could have been something like Superbowl: Off Da Freaking Chain. Either way, I was pretty dang happy with how things turned out. With little (Read: no) interest vested in either team, I simply rooted for the underdogs and, after a decently entertaining battle, was happy to see a close showdown swing in my favor. Go Giants! Some of the commercials were pretty funny this evening too, even if they did do a poor job of selling their respective products.

Sunshine- I have a strong feeling nobody reading this has seen this movie yet. From Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later), this Sci-Fi romp starring Cillian Murphey tells the tale of a group of scientists on a quest to restart a dying sun before the fizzling celestial body casts Earth and all its inhabitants into a nuclear winter. No pressure, right? Reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Sunshine is shot from bold angles with an artistic flare and, supported by a cast of competent actors, tells a story far more complex and compelling than the vast majority of natural disaster films out there. Filled with a ridiculous amount of religious, social and ethical scenarios to ponder, Sunshine proves to be a unique Sci-Fi experience requiring the viewers full attention. Though things get messy in the final act, the rest of the film provides enough meat to serve as a sumptuous feast for both the brain and the eyes alike. Being a slower, more thoughtful film, I can't recommend this to everyone. For those in the market for a genre film that does everything in its power to rise above the confines of said genre, and succeeds the majority of the time, Sunshine is definitely worth a rent.