Thursday, December 31, 2009

UFC 108: Evans vs. Sanchez- Echo calls it

No offense to the folks stepping into the octagon this weekend, but I can’t remember the last time I was so unexcited to catch a UFC event. There are a couple standout athletes about to continue their individual quests for a shot at their respective belts, but I’m not expecting much fireworks out of this week’s card.

Junior Dos Santos vs. Gilber Yvel
Yvel has a ridiculous amount of experience but I don’t think he’s going to be able to keep up with Dos Santos (which, if I’m not mistaken, is Spanish for Two Santas.). Yvel will make a good stepping stone for Dos Santos, but that’s about it.

Jim Miller vs. Duane Ludwig
I find myself being a fan of Miller. Nothing about the guy really stands out in my mind but he’s a strong competitor and easy to root for. Duane Ludwig, however, bears the simple yet effective nickname of “Bang.” That’s all I really have to say about that. In all seriousness, this is going to be a pretty evenly matched competition, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Miller walk away with the decision.

Joe Lauzon vs. Sam Stout
Talk about another well-matched competition. Still, Stout can’t match the killer instinct Lauzon possesses and that will be the deciding factor here as Stout finds himself being overwhelmed, brought to the mat and quickly tapped out.

Dustin Hazelett vs. Paul Daley
This one’s a toss-up depending entirely on where the fight ends up. Standing, Hazelett won’t be able to withstand the crushing blows of Daley. If Hazelett can get “Semtex” to the mat, though, we’re looking at a completely different fight. I imagine Daley has been working his takedown defense like a mad man and, if that’s the case, I don’t see him having too much trouble finding his opening and wishing Hazelett a pleasant slumber.

Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva
As much as he gets on my nerves, I can’t deny the caliber of athlete Rashad Evans has become, so I’m not exactly expecting Silva to walk right through him. I would have preferred to see Rampage shut Evans’ mouth with his fist, but I’ll settle for a big win on Silva’s part instead.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Review: Them Crooked Vultures

Them Crooked Vultures, comprised of Queens of the Stone Age lead singer and guitarist Josh Homme, Foo Fighters lead singer/guitarist (turned drummer for TCV) Dave Grohl and Led Zepplin bassist John Paul Jones, recently dropped their first offering in disc form and, with three powerhouses such as these guys making all the noise, you should already know you’re in for a wild ride.

With musicians coming from three of the genre’s all-time best bands, the album, not surprisingly, borrows from all three sounds. Homme, Grohl and Jones all bring their own brand of dirty rock to the table and the result is something pretty special.

With Homme on the mic, it’s hard not to feel like you’re listening to a new QOTSA offering, but that’s not a bad thing in my book.

More like a well rehearsed jam session, TCV features 13 tracks of driving drums, grungy riffs and throaty bass lines any fan of smoky barroom rock should find easy to love.

There’s a little less gusto than I would have expected but otherwise, from “No one loves me and neither do I” to “Spinning in Daffodils,” there’s little not to like in this musical experiment.

What impresses me is the fact the album literally feels like a bunch of rock legends got together in a garage one day and bounced some ideas around until they came up with a collection of songs to call their own. It’s a solid sound that’s decently polished while still managing to hold on to plenty of “rough” around the edges.

What impresses me even more (and this is a credit to the talent on board) is how these three musicians can, on a whim, pull together a batch of ditties that so effortlessly puts the vast majority of what you hear on the radio these days to utter shame.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hip-hip-hooray for Christmas vacation!

Well, I'd love to stay and chat, but it looks like Echo is heading out the door to join the family on the other side of the state for some good old fashioned

Anyway, per usual, that means will be going on a little blogcation for the rest of the week. Expect a few more updates before the New Year, including the first annual "Best of the Year" post, the idea for which I am officially stealing from our friends over at Peppered Thought.

I'm lazy, though, so the staticEchoes version will be a single post pulling together my favorite movies, comics, music, games, etc. from the previous year rather than a whole bunch of different posts.

Anyway, have a safe and happy holiday and see you back here in a week...or so.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Review: The Boondock Saints- All Saints Day

I, like many folks, first saw The Boondock Saints thanks to a college “You haven’t seen this movie!?” moment. It’s one of those films nobody just happens upon at the local movie store. Someone always mentions it then freaks out when someone else admits they had, until then, never heard of it. Thusly, the virus spreads.

I’ve watched the original a dozen or so times in the past seven or so years and I feel comfortable saying it is, quite simply, one of my favorites.
Great characters, fun writing and loads of gratuitous, pious violence by a couple of Irish brothers spouting a kickass family prayer before offing seedy criminals and placing pennies over their eyes. Good fun.

Years ago, the first rumblings hinting at an unneeded sequel started circulating and I immediately cried foul. Few films actually need a follow-up and Boondock Saints goes at the top of the list for films that most certainly do not.

However, the geeky fan of the first that I am, I simply had to head out to see this latest offering. Thankfully, it was only marginally terrible. And I say this as someone who, for all intents and purposes, can say I enjoyed All Saints Day. If you’re one of those people who can ignore the bad and let yourself just enjoy a cookie cutter copy film, then you should be just fine here.

Though in a different order, many (and I mean MANY) of the first Boondock’s trademark scenes have been recreated under slightly different circumstances for All Saints Day. The saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind here, even if Boondock 2 did manage to break many things that were fine the way they were.

A tale of vengeance, the boys find themselves back in the states when a mock “Saint” calls them out with the murder of a priest. Violence ensues.

Other than the terrible acting, nothing else about the film was so bad I couldn’t forgive it, even if there was little point and minimal charm. The boys get some new guns and starts shooting folks while making some decently clever quips, the end.

The final shootout was actually a pretty decent scene and the conversation leading up to it (I don’t want to give too much away) features acting so good if feels out of place in this film.
If you’re a fan of the original and don’t tend to treat things you really like as though they were holy artifacts, you should get enough enjoyment out of Boondock Saints: All Saints Day to warrant a watch.

If you are some kind of psycho-fan or don’t really understand what all the fuss is about when it comes to the original, stay far, far away.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Read it: Locke and Key- Crown of Shadows, Supergod, FVZA

Locke and Key- Crown of Shadows:
Before I get to my comments, let me first say that if you haven't read the first two volumes of this excellent series, Welcome to Lovecraft and Head Games, you will have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on in Crown of Shadows.

With that being said, I recommend this first issue of the new arc just as wholeheartedly as I recommend the first two volumes. Joe Hill's writing is getting sharper as he begins to fully realize the world he's created and Gabriel Rodriguez's art is as solid as ever.

The two highlights for me were seeing the antagonist, Zach, made as vulnerable as everyone else and the awesome ghost fight that spans a fourth of the book's pages.

If you've read the earlier stories, you don't need me to tell you to grab this one ASAP. If you're new to this world of ghosts, keys and doors that lead to all reaches of the imagination, I suggest you find some trades and get caught up. It looks like this third trip to Key House is going to be every bit as good as the last two.

I'm not sure what to think of Supergod. The idea of the world's superpowers genetically creating their own "saviors" only to be destroyed by them is interesting and a lot of the text (the post-apocalyptic recordings of the seemingly all-knowing scientist Simon Reddin) gives us plenty to think about but, for me, Supergod doesn't work so well as a comic.

Garrie Gastonny's art is great and Warren Ellis' words are as engrossing as ever, but the lack of character and world are a hindrance here. The comic is one long lecture accompanied by pictures. While I appreciate having all those pretty images to look at, they feel sadly unneeded.

I'm interested to see where the story is going, but most readers will likely want to pass on this one.

FVZA: Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency:
I can't say enough about Radical as a publisher. Not only have they delivered great books like Hotwire and Shrapnel, but they're doing it in a way no other publisher dares try--no ads, glossy print and loads of content. FVZA is the latest evolution of Radical's push to be one of the top publishers out there. The first of three issues costs $4.99, a dollar or two more than most books, but there's literally twice the amount of content.

But we're here to be entertained, amiright? What good is all that content if it's not engaging? While I'm more or less sick of the whole vampire craze, FVZA does a decent job of changing things up a bit, warranting at least a look. The bloodsuckers of this world are grotesque, violent and impotent. While some sexuality is shown in this first issue, the ending lets the reader know that will almost certainly be the last of it. These vampires aren't here to woo you or send shivers down your spine. They are here to, and I quote, "rip out your #$%^ing throat."

Zombies take a backseat this issue, but I expect to see more of the horribly hungry hordes in the coming issues. Issue one is, primarily, a history lesson. You learn, along with two of the main characters (slayers-in-training), that vampires and zombies have been around and known about for hundreds of years.

While they were thought to be extinct, both sets of baddies are back in action and the FVZA, originally started by President Grant, must be reestablished quickly if humankind is to stand a chance.

It's a meaty read for a fair price and the content is pretty entertaining. For those who prefer their nosferatu to come sans sparkles, FVZA might be just the thing for you.

Friday, December 11, 2009

UFC 107: Penn vs. Sanchez- Echo calls it

Is it just me or does it feel like we're watching a new UFC card just about every week now? Don't get me wrong, I like to watch a bunch of dudes kick each other's faces just as much as the next guy. There's no second part to that comment, I just don't want you to get me wrong.

Paul Buentello vs. Stefan Struve
Buentello is a big 235 while Struve is one of the tallest guys in the sport. I'm interested to see how these guys stack up when they are actually standing toe to toe. As for me, I think Struve is going to have the upper hand here and will likely pull out the decision.

Kenny Florian vs. Clay Guida
Kenny Florian is a great fighter and, despite what some may say, I think Clay Guida is one of the most exciting guys to watch in the octagon. While his smothering ground game has led to some snoozefests, he's fast, is never afraid to stand and fights like a rabid caveman. In short, I refuse to call against Guida. I actually see this one staying on its feet until Guida knocks Florian down and pummels his face until the ref finally pulls him off.

Jon Fitch vs. Mike Pierce
I'll give Pierce credit for being decently impressive in his somewhat short career. That being said, Fitch is going to absolutely crush the guy. Johnny boy is on his way up the ranks and Pierce is going to be little more than a stepping stone.

Frank Mir vs. Cheick Kongo
As much as I hate the guy, I can admit Mir is a solid fighter. Kongo, though, is the BETTER fighter, and will prove so when he knocks Mir out cold on his feet.

BJ Penn vs. Diego Sanchez
Penn is one of the best fighters in the world and he's now breaking noses at his ideal weight. Sanchez has more fights under his belt, but Penn's history consists of some of the best combatants out there. To be as vague as possible, Sanchez has more experience, but Penn has tons more experience. However, Sanchez is an amazing athlete and I would never say Penn is going to walk all over him, but I do see Penn managing a convincing decision in this one.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday mini-movies: End of the world edition

It occurred to me that, after like two years of Monday mini-movies, I have not yet posted one of my favorite viral videos of all time. This was one of the first of such clips I was introduced to in ye olde college days and it still gets a grin out of me despite more viewings than is probably appropriate.

More importantly, I'm amazed by how many people still haven't seen this clip.

And now, without further ado, I give you "The End of the World."

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale: Echo calls it

Most folks who tuned into this season of The Ultimate Fighter had just one thing on their minds- Kimbo Slice. Whether you considered him the laughing stock of MMA and wanted to see him get his face kicked in, or considered his Youtube to Pro story an inspiration and hoped he could prove his worth, something like a gazillion of you watched TUF each week to see the guy get dangled in our faces like a carrot following his early-season defeat by finals contender Roy Nelson.

Slice said he would fight again for the UFC and, though it never happened during the regular season, the man’s promise is coming true at the finale show.
But let’s not forget about the rest of the card. This free series of bouts will be on Spike (check your local listings and all that jazz) this Saturday night and, honestly, viewers could be in for a pretty good show.

Marcus “The Darkness” Jones vs. Matt Mitrione
Maybe I’m not giving Mitrione enough credit, but I have a pretty good feeling Jones is going to absolutely dominate this fight. The guy is huge, strong, and has a decent stand-up and ground game. Jones’ biggest weakness is his conditioning. If he can overwhelm Mitrione quickly, the fight is his for the taking. My concern is that, out of fear of making a mistake and thus blowing his shot at a future career in the UFC, Jones might throttle back and take too much time with this one, pushing him into deeper waters where he’s likely to drown. Even if we see this fight get out of the first round, though, I see the big man putting a decent sized hurt on Mitrione.

Frank “The Answer” Edgar vs. Matt Veach
First off, Edgar, I don’t like anyone who has “the answer” before I’ve even asked “the question.” I can’t trust a guy like that. As for the fight, we have before us two strong wrestlers with decent striking power, similar builds and practically identical records. Edgar has seen some tougher competition, though, and I think that’s what will make the difference in this fight.

Kimbo Slice vs. Houston Alexander
I don’t think I could be more pleased with Slice’s first opponent. Alexander is no joke and, rather than throw a creampuff Slice’s way to earn favor with the fans, White has set up what could be a truly dynamite bout. Slice’s ground game, though improved, is still very weak. Thankfully, Alexander is a striker, and a strong one at that. I have a feeling Alexander is going to press in fast and try to overwhelm Slice, who will most likely be trying to keep his cool and approach this fight a bit too methodically. Slice doesn’t want to make a mistake and, if he’s thinking too much, that could very well be his undoing. My ideal outcome here is that both men walk into the center of the octagon, spend a few second feeling out their reach, and then go absolutely ballistic on each other. I’m a huge fan of Slice, but my head is telling me Alexander’s experience will help him find Slice’s narcolepsy button. My heart, though, says Slice will finally impress.

Matt “The Hammer” Hamill vs. Jon “Bones” Jones
Matt Hamill is a decent fighter but Jon Jones is going to absolutely blow through him. This kid is young, fast and off the wall. I don’t see how this fight can’t go to the ground considering both guys’ wrestling backgrounds but, grappling or otherwise, Jones will likely make short work of The Hammer. Keep your eyes on Jones. He’s going to be impressing us for quite a while.

Roy "Big Country" Nelson vs. Brendan "The Hybrid" Schaub
I said this when season 10 of TUF kicked off and I’ll say it again, Roy Nelson has absolutely no business being on the show. Though he failed to impress me during the season, he’s too experienced a fighter to be in the octagon with these guys. He should have gone straight to UFC undercards rather than square off against inexperienced athletes with big dreams. I almost feel like everyone else on the show has been cheated with this one but, what can you do? That being said, Schaub isn’t exactly a slouch and, hopefully, he can snatch victory away from Nelson. The kid’s young but he’s got a surprising set of skills that could make him into a real challenge for Nelson. Unfortunately, I don’t see things going that way. Nelson will try to stand and, the moment he gets caught with a decent shot and starts to panic, he’s going to ride Schaub to the ground and try to smother him, per usual.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Movies to miss in December

December’s movies to miss are so weak I considered not even bothering with a post. But you people rely on me to tell you what’s going to be poop at the box office and, dang it, I don’t plan on letting you down.

Transylmania: The fact that this got a silver screen showing and movies like Trick R’ Treat can spend two years in limbo before going straight to DVD is an injustice. In Transylmania, a class of over-sexed hotties head to the cursed lands of Transylvania for a semester abroad. Topless vampiresses and leather-clad teachers are, of course, part of the curriculum as these youths discover they may be the only hope to overthrow an evil vampire and banish him from the school for all eternity…Or at least until the inevitable sequel.

Alvin and the Chipmunks- The Squekuel: Do I really have to explain why you should skip this one? Good. I was getting a little worried there.

Games to get in December

And, just as quickly as it began back in September, the great gaming flood of 2009 has at last slowed to a trickle. There’s slim pickings in December, but I’m sure everyone can find something that’s come out in the past three months to keep them busy.

Or, if you’re Richie McBigBucks and just have to buy more games, late January through March of 2010 is shaping up to be just as busy as any holiday window. It’s like developers are finally starting to understand there’s more months in a year, but somehow managed to shoot for the same “new” timeframe. Go figure.

7th- The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (DS)
8th- The Saboteur (PS3, 360)
8th- Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (Wii)
26th- Final Fantasy Chrystal Chronicles: Chrystal Bearers (Wii)

The Wii shows signs of life this month with two games that might be worth your moolah. I quite enjoyed earlier Chrystal Chronicles games, so here’s hoping the Wii iteration improves on the formula and gives Final Fantasy fans something to tide them over until the uuber-beast known as XIII releases next year.

Shattered Memories is set to release on the PSP in a couple months, so those who don’t have a Wii at least have options when it comes to getting the crap scared out of them. A retelling of the original Silent Hill game, hopefully the near lack of combat and focus on moody scares will work, cause I loves me some Silent Hill.

For those gaming on the PS3 and 360, the only real (hopefully) winner coming out this December is the unique WWII action title The Saboteur. Taking place in a black and white world that gains color as you help to overthrow the Nazis with stealth and cunning, The Saboteur looks to breathe new life into an era that has been done to death by first person shooters.

Oh, and there’s a new Zelda game for the DS. But, if you own a DS, chances are you’re waiting outside The Wal-Mart to purchase Spirit Tracks at this very moment. Enjoy it!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Review: Tom Waits- Glitter and Doom Live

I am greatly saddened when I think about the fact I missed out on Tom Waits’ 2008 Glitter and Doom tour. Why the show has not been released on DVD I’ll never understand but at least those of us who were unable to attend can now hear what all the fuss was about thanks to the CD release of Glitter and Doom Live.

This two disc set features 17 tracks pulled from Waits’ most recent trek across the U.S. and Europe as well as a thirty minute compilation of the man’s rants and musings between songs known as “Tom’s Tales.”

I popped in Tom’s Tales at the beginning of a five hour Thanksgiving holiday drive to see the family and, half an hour later, I regretted the fact the gravely fabulist would not be keeping me company the full way across the state of Arizona.

So, he’s got the narrative right, but how’s the music?

We’re talking about Tom Waits here. While his gruff versus are a bit hard to understand at times and a couple songs didn’t exactly wow, I consider it a real treat to hear such raw versions of some of my favorite tunes.

From a chop-shop version of Singapore to a wicked retelling of my favorite Waits spoken word bit “Live Circus,” all the way to the emotional Falling Down and romantically sweeping I’ll Shoot the Moon, Glitter and Doom is a top notch collection of rag-tag beats and off-tempo belting that will effortlessly put a smile on your face.

Newcomers be warned: If you are unfamiliar with the man’s work, this is not the place to get started. (See Rain Dogs, Mule Variations or Bone Machine for a proper introduction.) For those who have been listening to the howling madman of music for a while, though, Glitter and Doom is exactly what you hoped it would be- Tom Waits in his purest, most unrefined glory.

Read it: The Stuff of Legend

Free comic book day is a mixed blessing. There are so many options but, dammit, you can only pick one book to take home free of charge.

As such, each year I try to pick up something unique or outside my regular pull list. This year’s choice was a first chapter preview for the book “The Stuff of Legend” and, blazing through that delectable appetizer; I immediately added the title to my must-have list.

Just glancing at the book’s cover, you would not be faulted for assuming The Stuff of Legend has a few things in common with Toy Story. Much darker and profound, though, The Stuff of Legend would be more akin to a Toy Story directed by, say, Guillermo del Toro.

Set during World War II, Stuff of Legend begins with the kidnapping of a young boy, pulled into his closet (and the world of lost toys beyond) by the Boogeyman.

The child’s loyal (and some not-so-loyal) toys decide it is their job to retrieve the boy, and so a brave few band together and march into the darkness to save the day.

Through the closet door, the toys become blood and bone beings- a stuffed teddy bear is a towering monster of teeth and claws and a featureless wooden Indian Princess becomes a savage, agile warrior. This is a nice touch since, being vulnerable, the sense of danger becomes very real for our small group of heroes.

What begins as a story about cuddly play things quickly evolves into a gritty battle between good and evil with a surprising amount of violence that demands the reader understand this is not the children’s bedtime story they first thought it would be.

Mike Raicht and Brian Smith write the story well, but Charles Paul Wilson III’s artwork is what really drew me in. The book is stark, beautiful, enchanting and detailed. Each page offers something new and amazing to see.

Book one has entered second printing and will likely be available alongside the first release of book two. If you missed out the first time around, don’t make the same mistake twice. If the content stays this solid, The Stuff of Legend might actually live up to its name.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday mini-movies: Exploding pumpkin edition

After countless years of being carved into jack-o-lanterns and baked into delicious pies, pumpkins have finally begun to strike back at mankind. *cue Terminator music*...It has begun.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Turkey Day!

With a crazy work schedule and the holiday coming up later this week, will once again take a Thanksgiving blogcation to enjoy blogturkey, blogfootball and blognapping after eating too much blogturkey and watching too much blogfootball.

See you back here next week!

Friday, November 20, 2009

UFC 106: Ortiz vs. Griffin 2- Echo calls it

Sorry about missing 105. Work has gotten really busy thanks to the upcoming holiday and that's meant three weeks in a row now I won't be able to watch the fights live. *wipe a manly tear*

Anyway, we're back in action now and this week's card is looking pretty stacked. Roll it!

Amir Sadollah vs. Phil Baroni
I'm not a fan of Amir's hair, but Baroni also sounds an awful lot like jabroni, and that can't be good either. Seriously though, we have an untested kid versus a guy who hits just about as much as he misses. That being the case, both guys probably have a lot to prove. Either Baroni will continue his trend of mediocrity or Amir will have a decently experienced stepping stone to introduce himself to the world. Somehow, I see Baroni's experience winning out as Amir falls unconscious to the mat.

Luiz Cane vs. Antonio Nogueira
This fight should be pretty explossive. Both guys like to beat the crap out of their opponent and both are really good at it. Cane's got youth on his side, and he's not exactly new to the game, but Nogueira is a more dangerous animal. I'm leaning towards Nog on this one. Once again, I'm calling it a knockout.

Paulo Thiago vs. Jacob Volkmann
Thiago will submit Volkmann. That's all there is to this one. Coming off his first loss, there's no better medicine than to ruin the perfect record of a competitor and that kind of motivation can put quite a bit of fire in a man's heart.

Josh Koscheck vs. Anthony Johnson
Maybe I'm not giving Johnson enough credit here, but I think Koscheck is too strong and too talented a fighter for him. Kos is likely to find a stray limb and see how far it bends, but I wouldn't be surprised by it going to decision. Either way, Johnson ain't winning.

Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin
Their first fight was an absolute battle, so I'm more than ready for round two between Ortiz and Griffin. Ortiz has been out of the game for a year and a half finally getting his back fixed, so I thought he'd be in over his head on this return fight. What I've seen of his training, though, has me impressed. I'd go so far as to say he looks about as good as he ever has. Griffin, though, has grown a lot since he and Ortiz first met. While Ortiz was off in la-la land, Griffin was fighting some of the best athletes the sport has to offer. He took a couple big losses in that time, but I doubt that's blown any of the wind out of his sails. I'm expecting another slug-fest here, though I don't know if either fighter has enough powder in the keg to knock the other out. I'm expecting another decision and my heart is telling me it's going to Griffin this time.

Review: Weezer- Raditude

I'm a man of two minds when it comes to Weezer's latest release, Raditude. On the one hand, four tracks are pretty dang good. On the other hand, the remaining six are pretty dang terrible.

I've followed Weezer since the beginning but, unlike many fans of the nerdy rockers, I don't let that fact cloud my judgment when taking in their new stuff. I'm a big fan of bands who evolve their sound and boldly break into new territory. Such efforts are risky, as they can cause a band to lose touch with their pre-existing fans, but it shows creative courage when someone is willing to do it.

I think each new album should be judged on its own merit (You won't hear me say "it's no Pinkerton," in this case.), but that doesn't mean I have to turn my brain off and forget about the quality a group is capable of. If something new doesn't work, no biggie. If something new is quite simply a collection of teen-ready, radio friendly, formulaic poop, though, I'll be the first to let you know.

Unfortunately, Raditude falls into that second category. While Cuomo and the boys prove they are still the masters of the hook (most present on this album are the three-headed, multi-pronged bastards you simply can't get away from), a catchy chorus and beat we can sing along to simply can't overshadow an otherwise terrible song.

Raditude is a sugar overdose through the majority of the album with several tunes (In the Mall? Really?) ready to be plugged into a Disney Channel commercial.

The theme of the album, too, is a problem for me. Cuomo is a grown-ass man dealing with grown-ass problems, yet the subject matter here shoots backwards in time to an era pre-dating even the Blue Album. It's as if he sat down and decided to tell the tale of several high school kids and their childish relationship struggles, partying hard and chilling with their bros. Along with this collection of pre-pubescent shenanigans we have the abysmal "Love is the Answer," quite possibly the worst song the band has ever put to tape.

Still, there are a couple shining moments thrown in to break up the mess and confuse the ever-loving hell out of you as to how Weezer could get it so right on a few ditties and so very wrong on the rest.

The first single, "If you're wondering if I want you to," is a pretty good number and the closing "I don't want to let you go," is one of the few genuine songs on offer here. "Can't stop partying" is actually a rather fantastic club tune where Cuomo finally realizes his dream of becoming a rapper and "Put me back together" would feel right at home on any of the band's earlier albums wherein Cuomo unflinchingly bares his soul to the world.

If you have iTunes, grab those tracks. Otherwise, Raditude is a pretty sound failure.

Monday, November 16, 2009 turns two!

Wow. Has it been two years already?

It's hard to believe. One the one hand, it feels like just yesterday I was firing this thing up with no real idea of where it was going. On the other hand, going back over all those posts, there sure have been a lot of good times en route to this, the two year anniversary of staticEchoes where I still have no idea where the damn thing is going.

But hey, I've stuck with it. And so have you, my beautiful and intelligent readers. We are nothing if not aimlessly somewhat dedicated.

In short, thanks a heap for making a part of your internet perusals. It's a big world of information out there and, though not a lot of what you'll find here can be filed as legitimate "information," I'm honored you clicked over to check the blog out. To first time visitors I say "Welcome. What took you so long? We've been quite busy." To those who have been along for the ride since day one, you are why I do this.

Here's to another year of not-all-that-regular posts, Monday mini-movies, rejected t-shirt ideas, comics, movies to miss, games to get, rants, raves and more!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Read it: Kill Audio

From the mind of Claudio Sanchez (Coheed and Cambria, The Amory Wars) and co-written by himself and Chondra Echert, Kill Audio takes readers on a tour of the World of Sight and Sound where the abstract is given form and one small, indestructible man must take up his role as the savior of all.

Where did he come from? What is his true destiny? Why can’t he die? We don’t know that yet.

What we do know is that issue one features loads of promise for a series that could become the next sleeper hit.

Kill Audio (the name of our regenerating hero) is on a quest to find the all-knowing Clockwork and discover his purpose in life. Self-admittedly borrowing from The Wizard of Oz, Audio befriends three bizarre misfits along the way including a coke-head rooster, an alcoholic skeleton in a beaver suit and a pillow. Yes, a pillow.

While issue one does a fine job of setting up this surreal world, the reader pretty quickly realizes an attitude of “just go with it” will serve best when traveling a land where an army of knives carrying knives hunts our hero, cement shoes can appear out of nowhere and musical references pop up on just about every page.

The characters are unique and fun and the world is wild and well realized.
The writing, too, is pretty dang good. Humorous, dark and edgy, Sanchez and Echert make a great team.

The art, though, is what really jumped out at me. Newcomer Sheldon Vella is quickly establishing himself as a creative force to be reckoned with. The back matter for issue one features a note from Sanches wherein he claims Vella is able to effortlessly pull ideas from his head and put them onto the page. The detail is deep, the style is refreshing and the use of red as the only color other than black and white creates a striking combination.

Put together, we have ourselves a rather fantastic start to a series sure to turn heads in the months to come.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday mini-movies: Chaos edition

This week's Monday mini-movie is brought to you by a Brazilian butterfly. A careless, cold, thoughtless, inconsiderate Brazilian butterfly.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Strikeforce- Fedor vs. Rogers: Echo calls it

The time has finally come, folks. Strikeforce and M-1 global will be airing their latest event on CBS this Saturday night, Nov. 7, and, if they keep putting cards together like this one, the Ultimate Fighting Championship might have some actual competition on its hands. Shy of UCF 100, this is probably the most exciting MMA card from any promotion this year.

Be sure to check your local listings for start times or drop by It’s free, for crying out loud, and it features some top-tier fighters. What more can you ask for?

Fabriciao “Vai Cavalo” Werdum vs. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva:
Antonio “No visible needle holes” Silva has a lot to prove following his alleged steroids use last year. The dude needs to reignite his impressive career, but I don’t think Werdum is going to let that happen too easily. When you have two guys rolling around on the mat, as these two are very likely to do, there’s no telling what can happen. If I were pressed for a guess, though, I’d put Fabricio pulling off the submission.

Gegard “The Dreamcatcher” Mousasi vs. Rameau Sokoudjou:
I really like Sokoudjou. It’s a shame that, going 1-2 with UFC, this potentially dynamic up-and-coming fighter didn’t get a little more time to find his rhythm in the octagon. Mousasi is dangerous on the ground while Sokoudjou is more comfortable on his feet. Sokoudjou has a questionable submission defense and, unfortunately, I think that will make the difference. This one is a toss-up, really. My head says Mousasi will bring it to the ground and finish it while my heart says Sokoudjou is ready to start shining.

Jason “Mayhem” Miller vs. Jake “Too good for a nickname” Shields:
Miller is one of the best personalities in the sport, but you need more than a winning charm to take out someone like Shields. Both of these guys have had long careers full of impressive showings. You couldn’t really hope for a more equally matched competition. I’d like to see Mayhem knock Shields’ block off, but I have a feeling this one’s going to decision with Mayhem proving the victor.

Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko vs. Brett “The Grimm” Rogers:
Holy hot hell this is going to be an explosive fight. You have two (arguably) undefeated powerhouses, both huge guys, and both like to punch people in the face. It’s going to be like two trains colliding and I can’t wait to see it happen. While Rogers is younger and, clearly, hungry to prove Fedor can be beaten, I don’t think he’s going to be the man to do it. I like to envision a slug-fest reminiscent of Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva back in December of 2007, but I think this one’s going to be more akin to the recent Fedor/Arlovski pairing (wipe a tear). Someone with a lot of fight in him is going to be put down hard, and that someone is not going to be Fedor.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Movies to miss in November

I would give November a break for having so few terrible movies slated for release, but the two it does have are pretty big hitters in the “lame” department and more than worthy of my premature harsh judgment.

2012- If they would actually market this film as “the biggest disaster the world would ever know,” I might let is slide. I’d laugh heartily, then let it slide. As is, the 2012 team is taking its disaster-porn offering way too seriously. I don’t doubt this will be some pretty cool eye candy. For viewers with half a brain, though, I’m willing to bet all the shiny images will pale in comparison to just how far your suspension of disbelief is expected to stretch.

New Moon- Please, Twilight, just die already. Take your screaming, ridiculous 13-30 ladies and just go. I wish I had a database of all the folks going crazy over this film. That way, the next time I hear something like, “You’re such a nerd! You went to a midnight release for one of those videogames” or “I can’t believe you’re going to the theater three hours early for that geeky sci-fi movie,” I can click a few keys and respond with “Says the person who bought their New Moon tickets for opening day a month in advance, re-read all the horribly-written novels to ‘get fired up for it’ and then showed up to the theater a day early with sparkle makeup all over their damn body.”

Games to get in November

The number of big titles being pushed into early 2010 hasn’t really changed the landscape of holiday 2009 all that much. After an impressive showing in both September and October, November is looking just as ridiculous as developers make that last minute grab for parents’ Christmas dollars.

3rd- Dragon Age: Origins (360, PS3)
3rd-Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 (PS3, 360)
3rd- Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier (PSP)
10th- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PS3, 360)
10th- Phantasy Star 0 (DS)
17th- God of War Collection (PS3)
17th- Lego Indiana Jones 2 (All)
17th- Left 4 Dead 2 (360)
17th- Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles (Wii)
17th- LittleBigPlanet (PSP)
26th- Tekken 6 (PSP)

Some may notice I have left Assassin’s Creed 2 off the list. The reason for this is simple- I have never felt more lied to by the gaming critic community as a whole than with the first Assassin’s Creed. I know it’s just one blogger’s opinion, but that game was pretty damn bad. Gorgeous graphics aside and intriguing story aside, the combat was dull and wonky and 90 percent of the game was built around time-fill search gimmicks and needlessly repetitive gameplay. But that rant, I suppose, is for a different post.

We’re here to celebrate the wealth of titles November has to offer and, if you liked AC1, you can just pretend it’s included on the list.

Despite the number and variety of titles, his month basically boils down to one game- Modern Warfare 2. It’s already broken pre-order records and will undoubtedly be the best-selling game of all time.

The next heaviest hitters come in the buddy-friendly frag-fest known as Left 4 Dead 2 and the epic RGP Dragon Age: Origins. Get those three games and you should be set for a full damn year.

The PSP continues its push for quality titles with a new Jak and Daxter and the release of the much anticipated LittleBigPlanet.

Those wanting to relive Kratos’ old adventures and gather a slew of trophies in the process can dig into the God of War Collection and brick breaking fanatics everywhere can rejoice with the new Lego Indiana Jones title.

Hope your Christmas list writing pen is full of ink, cause you’re definitely going to need it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Review: MotorStorm- Arctic Edge

With MotorStorm- Arctic Edge, PSP gamers are getting exactly what the title promises; a Motorstorm game.

Featuring three versions of eight vehicle types, the drivable roster is nice for a portable title. Thrown into the usual mix of motorcycles and buggies are the exclusive snow plows and snowmobiles. They control different enough from the rest of the vehicles to warrant inclusion (aside from the whole “arctic” angle) and are a lot of fun to drive.

Vehicles are quite customizable now, so you can sink a nice chunk of time into making every ride in your garage look exactly how you want it to. Your rider, too, is slightly customizable.

But enough about that. Racing fans just wants to know how well the gameplay works and the answer to that is “surprisingly well.”

Except for the motorcycles and a few smaller cars, which can feel a little too slippery in the control department, Arctic Edge handles well. Each vehicle offers a slightly different feel, so finding the right ride for you is part of the fun. Each course, too, is made up of multiple routes best suited to the various vehicle types, so even the act of getting around the track offers lots of options.

And what about those tracks? They’re great. Crammed with 12 unique courses (24 if you count reversed), Arctic Edge is full of high jumps, tight corners, narrow valleys and edge-of-the-cliff straightaways.

Graphically, everything looks great on the small screen. The tracks move higher and higher up the mountain, so the atmosphere varies between rocky landscapes to muddy hillsides and on up to seemingly gigantic snow-covered chunks of ice.

A couple extra added features, like slippery ice, a boost cooling effect when driving through deep snow and the ability to cause an avalanche in certain areas, keeps the series decently fresh.

While the main campaign hosts a ton of regular races and special events, riders can also free-race and take the game online via ad-hoc and infrastructure modes. There aren’t a lot of people online, sadly, but when you can get a game going, everything runs smooth.

There’s also a ton of badges to collect for achieving various conditions, a screen capture mode and the ability to add any song on your memory stick to the already impressive soundtrack.

Despite all of this, I do feel the game lacks a little something. It’s hard to put into words, but the word “soul” comes to mind. This is, in my mind, the best arcade racing you can find on a portable, but I never really felt like I was taking part in some huge, insane racing event so much as tackling one track after the other with little pomp and circumstance.

Apart from that, there’s plenty here to keep racing fans excited. Lots of modes, lots of courses with lots of alternate routes, loads of vehicles and a ton of fun.

If you own a PSP and like to race, you won’t be disappointed. Big Big Studios have managed to almost perfectly recreate an experience for the portable market you could only have on consoles before now.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday mini-movies: British animals edition

Man, animals are a lot funnier in the UK. Don't believe me? Well obviously you're not British, then. For those who doubt, see above.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Read it: Old Man Logan

I’ll be honest; I’ve grown a little sick of Marvel and DC over the past few years.

It all started around the time House of M hit. Then it spread to World War Hulk, Civil War, Final Crisis, Blackest Night, etc.

At first, events seemed like a pretty cool idea- A universe of characters united by a common cause. Then I realized, in order to truly stay in the loop, that meant my pull box would have to jump up to about 20 additional titles a month. And let’s not forget the one-shots, spin-offs and aftermath stories.

In short, I’m sick of events.

While I’ve weaned myself off most long-running monthlies to avoid being pulled into the next epic, multi-book storyline, I’m still on the lookout for a cool story arc to draw me back in. About a year ago, Mark Millar brought us Old Man Logan, officially one of the coolest reads I’ve come across in a while, Marvel or otherwise.

The idea was simple: What if, one day, the bad guys won? What would that mean for the world and mutantkind as a whole? Or, more specifically in this case, what would that mean for everyone’s favorite hairy knucklehead, Wolverine?

The series opens on a desert farm where Logan has settled down to raise a family. The Hulk gang, now his landlords, are demanding rent and poor Wolvie has no way to pay it.

One day, a face from Logan’s past shows up and offers him a chance to make enough green to pay off the Hulks and live peacefully for quite some time. This business venture will require Logan to head cross-country and face a slew of surprising obstacles along the way.

Logan agrees, but on the condition that he won’t have to fight. He has, in fact, sworn to never fight again, much less pop his deadly claws.

Who will Logan meet along the way? What sort of trouble will he and his old friends get into? What could have gone so wrong in the past to make Wolverine so ashamed of the killer instinct he once prided himself on? What would Venom look like if he attached to a T-Rex?

The answers to these questions and more are found within the pages of Old Man Logan, soon to be a graphic novel, and boy is it an great tale. Silly at times, but great all the same.

More a love letter to fans of comics than anything, OML is packed with epic moments and cool cameos, all leading up to the rebirth of the killing machine known as Wolverine.

In a day where many titles take themselves a bit too seriously, Millar and crew have dared to think outside the box with some decent writing and some of the coolest art to grace the pages of comics this past year.

It’s an awesome read, it’s self contained, and it’s original. Enjoy it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Review: Uncharted 2- Among Thieves

Thanks to the emphasis on scores and the general lack of interest by most modern gamers to actually read a review, gaming criticism is a bit hard to put much stock in these days. (My, that’s ironic.)

I remember the good ole days when a 6.5 was a pretty dang good score to go along with a decently glowing review.

Without opening a whole different can of worms, I’ll simply say modern games are receiving bloated scores and bloated reviews. In an effort to draw readers, it seems like reviewers are bending over backwards to heap an embarrassing amount of praise on titles that, quite often, are undeserving of such acclaim.

Despite my love of the original Uncharted game, I went into Among Thieves with a bit of caution. With such high scores across the board and folks deeming it the best single player experience of all time, I feared Uncharted 2 might simply be the next decent hot-item game to miraculously draw in more credit than it is owed. (I’m especially looking at you, Assassin’s Creed.)

I’m more than delighted to say my fears were mostly unfounded. Uncharted 2 is, without a doubt, an absolute joy to play.

Broken into two main parts, both pieces of the story begin slowly. Before long, however, the pace is pushed to blinding speeds that almost never let up during the 12 hours of playtime. I was amazed by how many big set pieces the game offered. In truth, Uncharted 2 is almost entirely comprised of these long, satisfying moments. To put it more plainly, I can’t remember saying “wow” so many times in a single game.

From huge shootouts to long games of cat and mouse against seemingly insurmountable odds, Uncharted 2 almost never lets up. There are, of course, a few puzzle moments and big exploration bits, but you never get much of a break from the adrenaline overdose that makes up the majority of the game. This is a good thing.

Naughty Dog have fine-tuned the controls from the first game, making transitioning from cover to cover a much easier process. The stealth tactics are a nice addition and the game even rewards you for silent kills with better weapon drops, but only one portion of the game actually requires you to play it sneaky. You can also fire and reload a pistol while hanging from ledges and fast pitch a grenade if you’re willing to poke your head out from cover. You’ll occasionally fight with the controls when you accidentally push the jump button when you meant to take cover, but that’s less a game flaw and more a result of player panic.

The visuals once again set the bar. From snow shifting realistically underfoot to sweeping vistas of cityscapes and jungles, Uncharted 2 is very easy on the eyes. The characters move realistically thanks to the continued use of motion capture and the voice acting and writing are second to none. Even more impressive are the little touches like the look on a character’s face in the background, the many ways hero Nathan Drake may stumble when traversing a bumpy level or how he’ll even blow into his freezing hands if you sit still too long in an icy level. There are hundreds of small things here that add up to one big, impressively realistic set of characters and environments.

If you can stop yourself from going immediately into a second playthrough once the credits roll, Uncharted 2’s online is also quite impressive.

I will be the first to admit I groaned when I heard the game would have online modes. I felt certain such features would take away from the single player experience.

I was wrong.

The online modes fit perfectly into the world of the game and look, play and sound just as good. From standard affairs like deathmatch and zone control to a surprising twist on capture the flag that has you lugging around and throwing a massive treasure, the competitive stuff is about as good as you’ll find anywhere else.

Co-op, though, steals the online show. From mowing down never-ending hordes of enemies to working together to complete objectives, this three-player affair has loads of replay value.

Whether you play the single player campaign or stick to the online scene, all modes net you in-game cash that can be spent on a variety of extras. From gameplay tweaks and behind the scenes footage to weapon upgrades and player perks similar to those in Modern Warfare, Uncharted 2’s unlockables give you plenty of reason to keep coming back for more.

While Uncharted 2 doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the table, it incorporates aspect of many genres and polishes them all to a fine shine. The game is, quite simply, a fantastic ride well worth the hype propelling it to the top of the charts.

You will have an absolute blast with this one and, whether or not it ends up on your “all-time top 10” list, everyone owes it to themselves to see what wonders await in Drake’s latest outing.

Night of the cheap Halloween costumes- The Return

I love Halloween. From the awesomely terrible horror movies shown on SyFy all month to the costumes to the hordes of candy to, well, you get the idea.

It’s always been my favorite holiday. However, I know that it can sometimes be difficult to come up with a decent costume idea. For those of you cutting it close, here’s another few cheap and simple last minute costumes to try out.

A Cylon skinjob from Battlestar Galactica- They look like everyone else, so you don’t really have to do anything special with this one. It’ll be even more convincing if you have a twin to hang out with all night. Otherwise, flying solo will work just fine.

Amazing Man- When people ask why you aren’t doing anything “amazing” like flying around or using laser vision, act really offended and explain that your powers are for dispensing justice, not for their amusement.

The invisible man- Perhaps the easiest costume there is. Simply don’t show up to the party. But here’s the kicker: when people ask why you didn’t show up, explain to them that you did, but your invisible man costume was just THAT good. If you search facebook for photos of said party on Nov. 1, you can even provide enough details to make them question the validity of your claim.

Deadbeat dad- Squirt a mustard stain on a white tanktop, carry around a beer bottle and, for authenticity, be sure to wear a decently tattered belt. Just know that you might have to pay a few psych bills for friends who leave the party crying hysterically.

A terrifying hitchhiker- Jeans, a flannel shirt and a large duffle bag filled with stuff from around the house. Is it clothes in the bag? A body? A variety of mangled household pets? Nobody knows. And THAT is why this costume is so terrifying. Be sure to act the part and beg folks for a ride home while giving them crazy eyes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Impressions: Demon's Souls

Why an “impression” of Demon’s Souls rather than a flat-out review?

Because, at about 30 hours in, I have only completed four of the game’s 16 levels and I don’t see myself getting a review for this fantastic title out in time to mean a damn to gamers who can’t decide whether they should buy, rent or pass.

I won’t go into too many details because much of the fun comes from figuring the game out (where to go, who to talk to, what to do) on your own. Well, not on your own, exactly.

In perhaps the coolest multiplayer evolution since the invention of splitscreen, the developers have managed to create a true community learning experience. Using a wide range of terms, players can leave behind messages that will appear on the ground in other players’ worlds. So, if there’s a hidden bad guy up ahead, someone has the option of warning you ahead of time.

Also of help are bloodstains. Peppered throughout the levels are the bloody memories of your comrades’ last moments before respawn. You can click on any of these and see a ghost figure of about the last ten seconds of a player’s life. If, for instance, you see the ghost turn a corner and come running back swinging his sword before collapsing to the ground, you can be fairly sure there’s a nasty dude waiting for you around the corner.

Finally, the massive world is made to feel even more populated by ghosts of folks who are currently in the same area. You never know when or where they might pop up, but every so often a spirit will materialize for a few seconds before fading away. Their actions, too, can help you guess at what’s ahead.

Not only is the game more difficult when played with these features turned off, but it’s also kind of lonely. There’s lots going on, but after you’ve gotten used to the glowing messages and wandering spirits, playing without them feels more like you’re going it alone rather than enjoying an epic adventure that hundreds of other folks are enjoying at the same time. It's a feeling I've never experienced in a single player game and it's awesome.

I spent so much time talking about these features because I consider them to be the next small revolution in gaming. If they aren’t mimicked a dozen times in the coming years, I will be surprised and genuinely disappointed.

You can also call in a few ghost friends to play cooperatively or “invade” another player’s world, but I have had minimal experience with these features. But I’m sure the whole teaming up thing is an asset since, yes, this game is hard.

Then again, I don’t think it’s as hard as most are making it out to be. This isn’t elitist gaming nonsense so much as saying Demon’s Souls is (mostly) as hard as you let it be.

The enemies can be tough- some can be downright hellish- but thinking ahead, slowing down and using *gasp* tactics, makes a world of difference. Consider your surroundings, consider the enemy’s weaknesses, consider your gear and learn to dodge and you should be able to handle most situations. Keep your shield up, heal frequently and, most importantly, don’t be afraid to run, regroup and rethink your attack. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen ghosts and bloodstain spirits bite it by simply running up to a foe and swinging away. The hack’n’slash, run’n’gun methods so popular in modern games won’t cut it here.

Also remember that death is a learning experience in Demon’s Souls. Each time you die, you should learn something about the enemy you’re fighting. Apply what you’ve learned and you should be able to make it to the next, nastier enemy.

Clearly, I could go on forever about this game. I'm barely scratching the surface here. While my opinion about some things may change in the next 12 levels of play, I feel confident one fact will remain constant- Demon’s Souls is a solid action RPG that rewards a gamer who is willing to pay attention and learn while mercilessly pulverizing those who insist on a more narrow-minded approach.

It’s dark and atmospheric, the controls are unorthodox but work surprisingly well, sound is great and, once it has its hooks in you, you’ll be amazed by just how much fun this refreshingly tough game can be.

***UPDATE*** After a 51-hour first playthrough, I can safely say my early impressions held firm throughout. Most impressive is the fact I did very little grinding for items and there is next to no "story" in the game, so that was 51 hours of pure dungeon-crawling awsomeness.

My only complaint was world tendency. To make a complicated matter slightly less complicated, if you do poorly in a world, the tendency can shift to black. Do well, and it will shift to white. You start at grey. Certain areas, items, events, etc. can only be accessed at a certain world tendency. So, in order to get to certain areas, I would literally have to let myself get killed in human form about seven times on any given world. I like my hidden areas a little less ridiculous, thank you very much.

Thankfully, only completionists need worry about all that business. The areas are small and the items can be great, but you don't need anything offered by these tendency shifts to enjoy or complete the game.

Other than that, Demon's Souls proved to be a fantastic action RPG with lots of fun and challenge to be had. I highly recommend it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday mini-movies: "Sports" bloopers edition

Wait just a dang minute! I search for “sports bloopers” and this is what youtube turns up? What’s all this business with rackets and nets? I said “sports” youtube. Sports!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Review: Trick r' Treat

Trick r’ Treat can only be found on DVD or downloaded from game consoles and I seriously suggest you do just that.

What would you get if horror pulp comics were turned into a movie? You'll find the answer right here.

The film was supposed to release in 2007, and then again in 2008, but Warner Bros. got cold feet and kept hanging on to the project until this year, when it was finally sent straight to DVD. Idiots.

The film has built up some amazing word of mouth buzz thanks to indie and horror film festivals and I’m hard pressed to find a single person with one bad thing to say about this purely holiday offering.

Most horror movies that come out this time of year have little to nothing to do with the Halloween itself. Trick r’ Treat is the exception.

Featuring four interconnected stories about werewolves, vampires, zombies, creepy neighbors and a monster that takes trick or treating way too seriously, this fantastic offering is all about All Hallow's Eve.

The production value is off the wall (it was supposed to go to theaters, after all) and the performances are great.

More like a collection of campfire tales, Trick r’ Treat is the perfect film to put you in the holiday spirit. It has everything a horror fan desires without being too gimmicky or going for the easy gore-porn approach so popular these days.

If you like a good scary story (or four, for that matter) and are one of thoe folks who really digs Halloween, you have no excuse not to see this film.

Review: Zombieland

What is it with monsters these days? It’s like they’re awesome, then suddenly everyone is too cool for them, then we move on to a new monster to adore and repeat the process.

While the vampire craze is starting to die down a bit (thank god), zombies seem to be back on the rise. (Get it!) From movies to videogames, if it ain’t out for brains, nobody wants to her about it.
All of that, somehow, leads us to Zombieland, the latest horror/comedy about everyone’s favorite ambling undead cannibals.

Following the tales of Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita and Little Rock (since people are only known by where they came from in Zombieland) the film takes viewers on a quick trek through post-apocalyptic America following the zombie outbreak.

The undead actually take a back seat in this film that wisely chooses to focus on the main characters and their relationships rather than simply splash one graphic kill scene after the other on the screen.

The kills are there, and boy are they awesome, but even more interesting is this rag-tag group of survivors learning to live for the little things.

I feel bad for Jesse Eisenberg, a.k.a. Columbus, who plays an awkward recluse who has managed to survive the zombieocalypse thanks to his strict list of rules. He does a fine job in the role, but I couldn’t help but feel he was a blatant substitute for Michael Cera. Not his fault, I’m sure, but the two even look a lot alike. Never mind the fact they have the same voice and delivery.

It doesn’t matter who took on the role of Columbus, though, or any of the other roles for that matter, because they would have all been easily outshined by Woody Harrelson. The dude is a better actor than most give him credit for and, once again, his portrayal of the stereotypical badass survivor is pitch perfect.

Really, in a movie like this, the cast makes or breaks it. Lady stars Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin are easy to attach to as sisters with an edge and a certain cameo, I don’t want to spoil it, offers up some of the best laughs in the film.

There’s plenty to love in Zombieland. It’s warm. It’s hilarious. It’s a winner.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Movies to Miss in October

There’s a lot of straight to DVD horror movies on the shelves this month, but some of those are kind of supposed to be bad, so I’m not including them on the List-o-Poop for October. I think horror is just about the only genre where being bad can also mean being very good. Gotta love those monster movie ripoffs shot over a weekend for the cost of 12 value meals and a case of soda.

Then again, as will most likely be evident by a couple flicks listed below, sometimes a bad horror movie is just bad. Really, really bad.

Free Style- When I first read-up on this film about a boy (who looks 30) and his quest to become a motocross world champion, my first thought was, “Oh. Well, this has got to be going straight to the Disney Channel. I’ll cut it some slack.” Then I saw the trailer for its impending big screen release. Really? I mean…Really?

The Stepfather- This could actually best Saw as the worst “horror” movie of the season. A guy returns home from the army (convenient) to discover his mom’s new boyfriend seems to have a dark and disturbing side. Is he hiding a secret? Could there be a killer locked behind those seemingly kind eyes? *raspberry* Who cares?

Saw VI- I think how fondly I remember the first Saw film is exponentially decreased by the number of crappy sequels in the franchise. At this point, we’re in the negatives. If memory serves correct, I went in to see Saw I and immediately went on a screaming rampage and burned down the theater.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen- I once again ignore my rule not to call a movie out twice (once in theaters and again on DVD) in order to fling a little mud at the sequel to the barely passable first Transformers film. I understand this more or less HAS to become a trilogy, but so help me, that better be where this crap ends.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Games to get in October

The annual kick to the groin of your gaming wallet known as "the holiday window" is officially upon us. Much like Christmas, this seasonal flood of big-name games seems to come a little earlier each year, this time starting with September's awesome selection.

But the gates are only just opening, as is evident by the massive number of AAA titles hitting store shelves this month. Here's a few items you might wanna go ahead and add to your Christmas list.

6th- Demon's Souls (PS3)
13th- Brutal Legend (PS3, 360)
13th- Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3)
13th- Half Minute Hero (PSP)
13th- A Boy and His Blob (Wii)
20th- Fifa Soccer 10 (All)
20th- Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (PSP)
26th- Borderlands (360, PS3)
27th- Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time (PS3)
27th- Tekken 6 (PS3, 360)

It may not seem like a long list, but those are all more or less guaranteed to be dynamite in disc form. And several, like Demon's Souls and Borderlands, are epic time sinks at that. The types of games you play for months on end.

Still, despite the ridiculously bountiful October offering, I only have eyes for one game this month and that is Uncharted 2. And that's saying something, considering the fact the above mentioned titles, Brutal freaking Legend and the new Ratchet and Clank are all extremely high on my "Oh my god I must have it" list. They're at the top, actually...Right under Uncharted.

I don't just want to buy Uncharted 2. The first game made me a believer in what this whole "next generation" thing could mean for videogames and the sequel looks to turn everything I loved about the original all the way up to 11.

I wanna buy it some flowers, take it out to dinner and fall asleep whispering sweet nothings in its ear. *hauntingly serious face* To say I'm excited would be an understatement.

But don't let my obnoxious love for Uncharted confuse you. There's plenty to love on this month's list. It's truly a great time to be a gamer.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Review: Resistance- The Gathering Storm

Being my first novel based on a universe from a videogame, I wasn’t sure what to expect from "Resistance: The Gathering Storm." For the most part, I was pleased with what I got.

While author William C. Dietz doesn’t seem to have a particularly keen ear for dialogue and tends to reuse adjectives to the point it’s noticeable, the rest of his writing was good enough to keep me entertained.

I was mostly impressed by his knowledge of the Resistance universe. A fan of the games, I was pleased to see accurate descriptions of creatures, guns working the way they are supposed to and a world that felt like it was one and the same with the games. Dietz did his homework and it paid off.
Bridging the story of the first and second game in the series, "The Gathering Storm" tells of a time when the United States, locked in a war with the vicious Chimera, is fighting an equally important political battle in a barely surviving government.

Videogame hero Nathan Hale plays a key role in both struggles, offing aliens and taking a few moral stands along the way.

A secondary story involving a Chimeran concentration camp/conversion center and a former Secretary of War set on revealing government officials as traitors is a nice change of pace to the gunfights and military shenanigans Hale goes through. This can make for a somewhat disjointed story, but both sides are entertaining enough.

Overall, "The Gathering Storm" has enough going on to warrant a read for fans of the series. It fills an important gap and even answers a few questions left by the games. Your run-of-the-mill war novel fan will also likely find plenty to enjoy in this alternate history of World War II. It’s a hard recommend for the uninitiated, though.

Review: Muse- The Resistance

I’ll begin by saying The Resistance is possibly Muse’s weakest offering to date. Fortunately for my ears, Muse’s least impressive album is still mostly a joy to listen to, and that should speak very highly for the band.

Other than track three, Undisclosed Desires, The Resistance is an album I have no trouble putting in the ole CD player, pressing play, and keeping my hand away from the skip button throughout.

The first single, Uprising, packs the most energy and the most punch of the lot. There are a few particularly nice songs, especially the three-part finale, but nothing here will become your “new favorite.”

Ditching a bit of the rock for a backing provided by orchestra, Muse’s sound evolves nicely in The Resistance. The only downside here is that the softer sound results in less “umph” for the album as a whole. Muse does both melody and rock very well, but I would have preferred a couple more tracks driven by bass, drums and their trademark guitar riffs to even out the sweeping, moody tunes that dominate the album.

Lyrically, this is also the weakest offering from Muse but, for the most part, Matthew Bellamy sings the silliness to pitch-perfect effect. And, honestly, who really listens to Muse for the lyrics anyway? You listen for the sound, and the sound is plenty nice this time around.

I think I was hoping for a bit too much from this fifth studio offering but, this far into their career, it’s nice to see the band trying new things when it would be far easier to simply parody what has worked so well in the past.

With The Resistance, it can’t be denied that Muse still knows how to entertain.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday mini-movies: Exploding windmill edition

This is one of those videos I honestly don't know how I came across it. I started out searching youtube for "faceplants" and eventually made my way to the above clip.

You ever wonder what happens when a storm is too out of control even for one of those heavy duty electricity-producing windmills to handle? Click play to find out.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Review: Dissidia- Final Fantasy

Dissidia: Final Fantasy, is one of the few games I’ve ever felt comfortable reviewing before I’ve taken part in everything the game has to offer.

This is not laziness on my part or even suspect journalim. There’s simply too much content to get through on this RPG/fighter mash-up. At more than 30-hours of play time, I have yet to finish the story mode for all of the characters.

I’ve tooled around with quick fights and arcade mode, played online (flawlessly, I might add), shared friend cards, fought ghosts, and done about a zillion other things and still I’m barely scratching the surface of what this title has to offer.

Dissidia’s roster is meaty with twenty main characters and two to be unlocked (each with their own deep ability set to dig into), then there are even more game modes to unlock after you complete the campaign.

Speaking of the campaign, this is one of my only real gripes with the game. I actually quite enjoyed the chess board game map (that takes a bit of strategy to navigate) and leisure cutscenes where little more than talking occurs, but after about your sixth character, it tends to get repetitive.

For the RPG fans out there, there’s a ridiculous amount of customization to be had. It’s almost overwhelming at first when you consider how many items can be made, how much equipment can be discovered and used, what abilities work best for you, and even what days you play on may earn you extra goodies.

The more I write, the more I want to keep ranting about the vast amounts of content, so I’ll just leave it at “there’s a whole lot.”

For the fighting fans, this game delivers in spades. What initially feels like a shallow two button masher with one-hit victories quickly evolves into a truly deep and surprisingly original fighting system.

You can run, jump, fly and grind all over the large maps, dodge, block and more. Summons, which you equip in the order you want to use them, activate automatically and can be a real game changer in sticky situations.

One attack button(up to three different versions on land and three more in the air) attacks a character’s “bravery.” Bravery determines how hard a character hits when they land a successful HP attack.

The second attack is, you guessed it, to HP. Again, you can eventually set up to three different button combinations for this attack on the ground and in the air.

With modifiers like “chase” and “wall rush” thrown in, we are left with what could actually be the most complicated fighter to date. Thankfully, the ease of commands and creative design make it a synch after just a few battles.

With so many options for the type of opponent you can face, the battles have a lot of variety as well.

You may take on a villain that starts with enough brave points to wipe you out with a single blow, but only one HP, thus creating an edgy game of cat and mouse to see who can make contact first.

Conversely, tougher opponents can take upwards of ten minutes to tackle as you learn to use the entire environment to your advantage in an effort to land perfectly timed attacks.

While the music is terrific and the graphics are some of the best the system has seen, a less than engaging story and the occasional terrible camera angle provide a couple speed bumps in this otherwise smooth ride.

SquareEnix has managed to craft a fighting and RPG lovechild that actually works, and for that, they should be applauded.

This is a wonderful love letter to fans of the series and, if you own a PSP, your game collection should not be without this title.