Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Movie of da week: Rambo

This is a slow week for movies. In my book, anyway. Since you're reading this, I'm guessing my book counts for something in your mind. That being the case, here we go with another weekly recommendation.

Before we begin, I'd like to apologize to anyone who went out and saw Indiana Jones based off my say last week. (Yes, I truly believe I have that much sway over some of your decisions.) I was wrong and if I could give you some money from my wallet to make up for it, I would. Unfortunately, my wallet money is reserved for things like penny candies and Metal Gear Solid 4 at the moment.

So back to this week's recommendation. I'm assuming few of my readers are desperate housewives, so lets skip over Sex and the City, shall we? Also, The Strangers looks like some scary movie goodness done right, but given the recent trend of poop in that particular genre, I'm still too wary to tell anyone to blindly go out and experience any of it.

That brings us to the DVD release of Rambo. Imagine the awesomeness of the above picture going on for about two hours straight. Yeah. Pretty crazy, right? Anyway, go see it.

Elite XC Saturday Night Fights

I'm not going to pretend I know all that much about the sport of MMA.

Sure, I started watching when the first Ultimate Fighter hit VHS back in the day and have been watching ever since, but my mind isn't "sports oriented" enough to keep track of everything under the MMA sun.

Like many casual fans, my knowledge of MMA is mostly isolated to what goes on within the UFC octagon. That's exactly why I'm so excited for the first primetime Elite XC event airing on CBS this Saturday at 9 p.m. ET/PT. I've watched countless fights in other leagues/promotions, but seldom do I get to watch a full card from anything not commentated by Joe Rogan and The Amazing Leaning Man.

I know enough about Kimbo Slice and James Thompson to guess this week's main bout is going to be more show than tell, but I'm genuinely excited to see what the remaining eight fighters have to show for mixed martial arts outside of the house that Dana thinks he built.

As an added bonus, I get to watch Gina Carano, a.k.a. Crush to you Gladiator fans, step down from the Joust podium and show us what she's really made of. I'm nervous the driven Kaitlin Young is going to break her gorgeous face, but here's hoping Carano puts up a decent performance despite the distractions and two-week training window.

Do yourselves and the sport a favor and check out the Elite XC fights this weekend. It's perfectly free and almost guaranteed to be worth your time.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Monday mini-movies: Pork and Beans edition

Weezer's new album comes out next week and, if the first single "Pork and Beans" is any indication, it's shaping up quite nicely.

Above is the video for this new single. It relates to internet videos because the director, quite ingeniously I might add, incorporates many-a internet phenomenon.

I absolutely love this video, and I'm pretty sure you, my attractive readers, are going to as well.

Off course: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull review

So I got out to see Indiana Jones this weekend...That was a mistake.

I should have known I was in for a letdown when the movie opened on a CG prairie dog nearly getting ran over by a car. Lucas and Spielberg claimed they were going to use as little CG as possible and rely on old school filming techniques to capture the feel of the original trilogy. The next scene is a sweeping shot of an Air Force base and, wouldn't you know it, everything but one building was built in a computer.

At what point does it make sense to CG a location like that? There's hundreds of such bases across the globe readily available for a weekend shoot. It was one scene for crying out loud. Have we really gotten so reliant on faking it we're worried hangers and warehouses won't look HD enough in real life?

Sorry to get stuck on something so silly, but man did it piss me off.

The majority of the movie is decent at best. None of the character are all that great, but things move at a good enough pace to help you overlook the flaws. Some of it is even decently entertaining...Until about two-thirds in, that is.

When the gang enters the jungle, the movie is straight downhill from there. The ridiculousness is further punctuated by a BS Tarzan scene that literally made me groan out loud and the conclusion is one of the worst imaginable. I'm pretty sure it was the result of a dare. A very mean-spirited, alcohol related dare.

I like the old Indiana flicks because, while over the top, they still seemed somewhat grounded and believable. As for the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, well, it's not a trip I plan to take a second time.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Quick break

I'm going to be strapped for time this week, so this will be the only update until next Monday, at which time we'll be back in the full swing of things.

So, to summarize, go see Indiana Jones this weekend and enjoy the random video embedded below. It's a well done mesh-up of Sponge Bob and an anime called Death Note. I'm amazed at how well the scenes match up from the two shows.

Hope you like reading. Otherwise, why are you even here?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Movie of da week- The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

*prepares flameshield*
I wasn't that impressed with the first Narnia movie.
*cowers behind shield*

Okay, now that that's out of the way I will say -of what I remember of it- it was a decent little fantasy flick. Maybe I was having a bad day or maybe I had recently seen something which made The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe pale in comparison, but I do distinctly recall leaving the theater and thinking I was somehow expecting so much more than what I got.

Maybe I just need to see it again. OR! Maybe it really was just a mediocre movie and I should get on with this post.

Sounds like a plan.

So, just because I wasn't wowed by round one doesn't mean I can't look forward to a hopefully improved round two; especially since there's little else out on DVD or the silver screen worth my attention this week.

That being said, go see Prince Caspian and let me know what you think. With any luck, I'll be taking it in this weekend as well.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday mini-movies: Human slingshot edition

I have found a new life goal.

Anyone interested in helping me set this up, feel free to comment. I'm perfectly comfortable with being the test pilot on this one.

Solid gold; Iron Man review

Okay, I'm going to keep this one brief since I'm sure all the reviews are getting old and, to be honest, I have several more coming up. Yay opinionated opinions!

I saw Iron Man opening night, so now you should have an idea for how badly I let myself procrastinate sometimes.

Here's what you need to know: the movie rocks. Put it right up there with the first X-Men and Spiderman movies as well as Batman Begins.

Iron Man is amazingly acted (Downey Jr. lives the role rather than acts it) and director Jon Favreau has lovingly crafted, not only one of the best super hero movies of all time, but one of the best action flicks I've seen in quite a wile.

The writing is top-notch (probably the best script for the genre) and the story is believable and relevant.

If those quick snippets of what I could go on for hours about aren't enough to sell you on shelling out ten bucks on a terrific theater experience, I hope you'll find something more up your ally. I hear Made of Honor has a few billion open seats available.

Metal Gear Online Beta concludes

Alright! One-hundred posts and counting.

Now that that's out of the way, I'll let you know Echo is a sad panda.

Last night, at midnight, the Metal Gear Online Beta concluded after a mere two weeks of teasing testers with gorgeous graphics and inventive gameplay only to snatch it away for a month's wait until the final release.

For those who didn't get to take part in the beta, I'm sure you've got plenty of questions. Let's see if I can answer some of those.

First of all, if the graphics in the online portion speak for the enhanced single player experience, your peepers are in for a real treat with Metal Gear Solid 4 proper. The game is flat out beautiful.

As for how it plays, along with the ability to link-up with teammates, hack opponents and use other creative game mechanics like the cardboard box and CQC, MGO has a lot to offer fans of third and first-person shooters alike. If you don't go in looking for the next Call of Duty 4 or Halo, but rather a tactical, slower paced, more team-oriented experience, everything here should leave you in a state of utter delight.

From the three maps and five or so game modes available in the Beta, I can safely say MGO will offer something new- perhaps its best selling point of all.

Weapons are varied and work well except for a few flaws which can hopefully be fixed by the time the final game hits shelves. For one, aiming is not as precise as it should be. While auto-aim offers a nice alternative for newer players or close-quarters confrontations, the over the shoulder and first person views aren't quite right. I line up the site perfectly with an opponents head and, quite often, the shots land mid-body. Many have learned tricks around this inaccuracy, landing headshots in rapid succession, but I'd take proper aiming over easy kills any day.

Aside from that, I can't really fault MGO in the beta form for much. Some complain movement is too slow, but it feels right for a more realistic shooter. Also, if you up the "run" ability and switch to a lighter weapon, your character will move at a pace plenty fast for any shooter.

The now famous man cannon is a cool way of getting from point A to point B with a quickness and the varied skills not only encourage working as a unit, but add an RPG-esque degree of customization where every soldier is truly unique.

Of course there will be at least one run-and-gunner for every tactical player wishing to experience the game the way it's meant to be played, but it shouldn't take long to find and recruit like-minded friends willing to compete with sneaky-sneaky in mind.

Overall, I can't wait for June to get here. I'll play the storyline first, obviously, but I expect MGO to take up months of my life following.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Movie of da week: Speed Racer

Okay, this week's a bit of a tough pick. While the rest of May is full of flicks worthy of your time and attention, this week's movie is a true gamble.

I'm talking about Speed Racer. When I first heard of the live action adaptation, I was annoyed. I hated the cartoon so, naturally, I should hate the movie.

Then I heard the Wachowski brothers were handling the adaptation. My interest was piqued. Finally, I saw the trailer and the full cast and, to be honest, I'm actually looking forward to seeing it at this point.

So far Speed Racer looks like what would happen if a group of ninjas melted a box of crayons onto the floor and played with some sweet Hot Wheels cars across the freshly cooled surface of the multi-colored muck. So long as Speed Racer doesn't ACTUALLY come off as lame as that, I figure it's worth a go.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Deja vu- A Haze preview

For those in Europe, or at least with a European PSN account, the often-delayed Haze has finally made its way to the Playstation store via a downloadable demo.

At first, I figured the delays were so the game could be fine-tuned. After about delay seven or so, I assumed it meant there would be no saving this title.

Color me surprised.

Haze looks great, feels great, and plays great. So far, though, I've seen nothing to make me believe the title warrants more than a passing glance. With so many top-quality FPS' out there, Haze's final product is going to have to offer something more than what was experienced in my fifteen minute demo runs.

To be fair, I'm not writing the game off just yet. What's available in the demo is little more than a tutorial and, of what you see of it, the use of Nectar (the performance enhancing drug that makes you see better, run faster, take more hits and toss an enemy half the distance of a football field) has potential.

If the story is as entertaining as it hints at being, the arsenal has variety and the Nectar (both using it and exploiting it) kicks it up a notch, the release version of Haze still has potential to shine. Add in a potentially awesome multi-player of Mantel soldiers vs. Mercs., drop-in co-op with storyline and maybe a few more surprises, and Ubisoft's newest addition to the family might very well draw players away from their precious Call of Duty, GTA and, um, Mario Kart?

Pardon the bet hedging (you're welcome, The Jeff), but that's really what playing the Haze demo boils down to. The potential is great and what's available is extremely competent, but little of what could make this title both unique and worth a purchase is on display in the demo.

Fingers crossed for the final outcome. I really (really) want this one to be good.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Monday mini-movies: Aminals edition

Have you had your daily dose of hilarious animal videos yet?

Prepare to witness enough to last you a year.

The above clip is nearly ten minutes long, but almost every second is worth your time. Enjoy!

Two steps forward, three steps back: Mario Kart Wii review

I'll start off by saying this- Mario Kart Wii is the only game I can think of with so many flaws that's still worth your time and money. I know that sounds odd, so let me explain the flaws before I give my final opinion.

Impersonal- The game lacks any character whatsoever. The menus are sterile and the experience is strictly straightforward.

Questionable speed classes- Why is vehicle choice limited by speed class? Sure, you can race the fastest CC in either vehicle, but 50CC is out for bikes and 100CC is out for karts. I honestly can't think of one good reason to force such a limitation.

Sadistic single player- Say what you will about skillz, there is little reason to claim anything above a third place rank until you reach the second half of the final lap. With 12 characters racing now, first place is punished massively simply for being ahead. Expect three blue shells and a couple doses of lightning to knock you into dead last just before the end of most of your races.

Bikes too slippery- This won't be a flaw for some folks, since I'm sure it's a matter of preference, but most of the bikes are far too slippery for my tastes. Using manual drift is a nightmare on these crotch rockets.

Too much bump- I get the bumping can be tactical, but the distance I get tossed mid-jump by baby Mario in a stroller (off a cliff, of course) is often just shy of ludicrous.

Maps are blah- While the layout and playability of most of the maps is great (I dig the new quarter pipe jumps a lot), I fail to understand how a next-gen remake of a Game Cube map can feature less detail or character than the original. Even the 64 maps are questionably "improved."

Some classics not so classic- While much of the retro cup races are dandy, there are a few horrid repeats that didn't belong in the games they were originally featured in to begin with. WTF?

Red shells are too inconsistent- Sometimes they'll hone in on your target with deadly accuracy. Sometimes they'll go straight fifty yards before veering left for no reason whatsoever and slamming into a wall. Sometimes they'll shoot out in front of your kart, stop, and let you hit them...It's a mystery to me.

Crippled online- With the amount of parental controls available, why are older gamers still being hindered so little Timmy doesn't race, talk to and sleep with Mr. McFeelie? What good is parental control if there's no reason to use it? While online races are a blast, the inability to talk to my opponents is unforgivable.

I miss classic battle- While team battle is nice (though coin runners is pretty useless), why don't we have the option to participate in a classic battle mode? Twelve racers, three balloons each, last racer standing wins. Now THAT would be a battle.

The wheel is only a distraction- While I'm sure I'll plug in the Wii-mote every now and again just for the hell of it, the included plastic peripheral is unnecessary (as are the majority of those being shoved down our throat by the big N). Twisting and jerking your arms around simply can't compare to the precision of analog control.

There's more, but I think you get the idea. While adding a few nice touches here and there, the design team also managed to break a few things that already worked just fine.

Aside from my gripes however, multi-player (both online and off) is still top-notch fun for the whole family. I'll continue with single player just to "gold out" my license and unlock everything, but otherwise, it's multi-player or bust for this gamer.

Multi-player races are far more balanced and, when you're losing, you at least know it's to someone better than you rather than feeling like you're being pummeled by AI with a twisted love for pain and suffering.

This is not the best Kart experience by far, but it had undeniable potential to be exactly that. With a few fixes here and there, Mario Kart Wii: ii could be one of the best things to ever happen to the racing genre.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Movie of da week- Iron Man

Woo-hoo! I just loves me some good comic books. I also just loves me some good movies. What's that you say? There's a good comic book movie coming out this Friday? I'm dumbfounded with doubly excitement.

That's right kiddies, Iron Man hits theaters this week and myself, The Jeff and Green Bean couldn't be more excited.(/shameless shoutout to my peeps) If you don't know who Iron Man is, or usually shy away from films revolving around comic book characters, you may still want to check this one out.

It's my understanding Robert Downey Jr. put in a fantastic performance as Tony Stark (R.D.J. can portray a rich playboy with a drinking problem? No way.) and director Jon Favreau (you know, the quarterback) was a natural pick for the project. The man's a talented director AND he's a comic book nerd. Perfect, I say.

Anyway, summer ain't here quite yet but that isn't holding Iron Man back from being the early, and most likely lasting, movie of the season.