Friday, May 22, 2009

UFC 98

Another month and the foot-to-face-hungry masses are gifted with another UFC event. This time, it’s 98!

This Saturday marks the return of Matt Hughes in his long-awaited battle with Matt Serra (I’m calling this one “The battle of the guys named Matt,” for short), and the exciting matching of two undefeated superstars known only as Suga and The Dragon. (Note: they may also be known as Rashad Evans and Lyoto Machida, but this is not yet confirmed.)

Which Matt will prove the most Matty? Will Machida actually fight this time, or does he plan to play “defensively” *cough*run*cough* yet again? These questions and more will be answered at UFC 98: The Quickening.

Fight Card:
Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida
Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra
Drew McFedries vs. Xavier Foupa-Pokam
Dan Miller vs. Chael Sonnen
Sean Sherk vs. Frank Edgar
Brock Larson vs. Chris Wilson
Pat Barry vs. Tim Hague
Phillipe Nover vs. Kyle Bradley
Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Andre Gusmao
Yoshiyuki Yoshida vs. Brandon Wolff
Dave Kaplan vs. George Roop

Flight of the Conchords: Live!

So, because of an odd twist of fate and one friend’s awesome relative, I got the chance to take in the Flight of the Conchords live show this past week. (Your jealousy is delicious.)

To those living in the, like, three cities left on the tour, you’re in for a treat.

The evening opened with Arj Barker, Dave on the show, doing a standup routine about why he doesn’t want kids and how maybe, just maybe, global warming is the sun’s fault and not the Earth’s. Funny stuff.

Once Bret and Jemaine walked out on stage, though, I couldn’t stop grinning.

Their songs are as hilarious as ever and even modified a bit, their witty banter was side splitting and, even when they screwed up a verse or were thrown off track by the audience, they used their magical comedy powers to take a lemon and turn it into liquid gold.

Sadly, Albi and Robots didn’t make an appearance, but that’s hard to complain about when you’ve just sat through about two hours of comedic bliss.

Other highlights included the guys having a roadie bring out jackets just so they could put them on and take them off for a drunken heckler who wanted them to “take it off,” then they even treated the audience to a FOTC-ized version of Freebird and about a third of When Dove’s Cry. It was at the one-third mark when Jemaine decided performing covers all night would just be silly.

More impressive than the songs was the duo’s ability to ad-lib and play off of each other no matter which direction the act was going. It felt like 50 percent of the show was literally off the top of their head and 100 percent of the show was awesome, so it works.

Flight of the Conchords may be New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo accapella-rap-funk-comedy duo, but they’ll always be number three in my heart.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Review wrap-up: MGMT, Silversun Pickups, Notorious, Wolverine and Star Trek

I've once again fallen behind on my reviews, so you lovely readers will be spared a kabillion-word rant about each item and instead have the opportunity to enjoy shorter snippets (since there's no way I'm going to try to shell out five full reviews in one go. That's just silly, and a lot of work. I am both non-silly and lazy, so this works out for the best).

MGMT- Oracular Spectacular: If you were to throw David Bowie, the Bee Gees, a disco ball and a laser machine into a blender and hold down the button a few seconds, you'd have both a delicious treat and something sounding a lot like MGMT. The band's latest offering, Oracular Spectacular, dances merrily between genres with a healthy backbone of club beats and synthesizer holding all the tracks together. The album goes from nightclub anthem to southern rock to something sounding like an LSD trip and, somehow, it works...For the most part. MGMT is a fun experiment with sound and the majority of the tracks are worth a listen. Weekend Wars, Time to Pretend and Kids, though, are borderline brilliant.

Silversun Pickups- Swoon: A lot of people compare SSPU to the Smashing Pumpkins and, frankly, I just don't see it. That being said, Silversun is a great little underground group finally making its way into the limelight on the heels of multiple hit singles like the most recent, Panic Switch. If you like what you've heard on the radio, you can't go wrong here. That's also my only gripe with Swoon. Several of the songs sound a bit too similar. Other than that, the sound is great, the lyrics are interesting and the hooks are pretty killer. You'll be singing along in no time.

Notorious: I'm starting to think every successful musician had a rough childhood, knocked up their girlfriend when they were still too young, made bad decisions, paid for those decisions, fixed their life, reverted back to their old ways, paid for their sins once again, fixed their life again, got married, cheated, had another kid, then died. This seems to be the plot for every movie about a musician out there. Just an observation. Thankfully for Notorious, the elements tying that story together are interesting enough to warrant a watch. My only real complaint was that it was hard to feel much sympathy for Biggie. Unlike most rags to riches stories, he seemed to close a lot of doors on himself for the sake of making life harder. He had opportunities and ignored them and the film doesn't do a very good job of making me understand why. The impact of his music, however, cannot be denied. And the circumstances surrounding his untimely death are intriguing. These elements make Notorious worth a lazy weekend rental. Still, there wasn't much "new" here.

Wolverine: I can describe X-Men Origins- Wolverine in exactly one word..."Meh." Wolverine, the character, is a feral beast with a tarnished heart of gold and adamantium claws capable of ripping just about anything to shreds. That's the movie I wish I could have seen. Unfortunately, though the movie focuses heavily on Logan needing to "unleash the animal within," nothing he does ever seems to move remotely close to those heights of animosity. There's little in the line of violence without drastically pulled punches, and that upset me. The acting is surprisingly good, but there are too many characters present to give any of them enough time to be explored. Reynold's Deadpool, for instance, is spot-on and hilarious. Unfortunately, you get to enjoy him for all of five minutes. The story is good enough to carry you through the hour-and-a-half runtime, and it's nowhere near as bad as X-Men 3, but for a real fan of the character, I wasn't impressed.

Star Trek: The newest Star Trek, however, is badass. I've never really been a fan of the franchise, but much like the newest Bond films, I've been made into a believer. I watched a good bit of the classic series, so it was refreshing to see such a faithful adaptation mixed with a big bag full of new tricks. You wouldn't think the farcical humor of the old show would translate well into a high-budget, action packed roller coaster ride of a re-imagining, but it works very well. The characters are lovingly re-created by the new cast and the story is excellent. So good, in fact, I'm ready for a regular television show adaptation. I can't stand the thought of waiting several years to see where the new crew goes next. I highly recommend Star Trek to anyone looking to get their full money's worth at the theater. It's two-plus hours of top-notch entertainment that I couldn't get enough of.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday mini-movies: Double TKO edition

I told a friend I had never seen a double knockout before. He got all crazy-eyed and informed me I absolutely had to see one, and that it would be a life changing experience.

I gotta say, it's no bird-eats-bird, but it IS pretty dang amazing. Add "double knockout" to my list of things I shall randomly search for on the youtubes on a regular basis.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Movie of the week: Star Trek

This week's pick for movie of the week boldly goes where only one two three for fi....ten other movies have gone before. Unlike most franchises that only make it half that distance, however, Star Trek has managed to produce a mostly quality movie franchise.

Even better is the fact the new Star Trek film looks to be as good as, if not better than, anything the previous iterations have had to offer.

Whoa! Take it easy. Set phasers to stun, you freaking nerds. Have you looked at the reviews?

I know the consensus isn't always right, but it looks like a young, talented cast and imaginative director J.J. Abrams have managed to craft a badass Trek film that stays true to the show's roots while also blowing away the uninitiated with an intriguing story, tons of action and special effect that'll make your eyes water.

I don't know about you guys, but I'm game.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Games to get in May

Just in time for the summer months, developers have gifted us lowly gamers with a plethora of titles to satisfy just about every taste. And not a single one is a first-person shooter! (Okay, so there are a few third-person shooters. But hey, baby steps. Right?) Anyway, here's the best the month has to offer.

1st- X-Men Origins: Wolverine (every console, ever)
5th- Patapon 2 (PSP)
12th- Sacred 2 (PS3, 360)
18th- Punchout (Wii)
19th- Boom Blox Bash Party (Wii)
19th- Bionic Commando (360, PS3)
19th- Terminator Salvation (PS3, 360)
19th- UFC 2009 Undisputed (360, PS3)
26th- Damnation (PS3, 360)
26th- inFamous (PS3)

Talk about a standout month. Even the Wii is showing some signs of life.

While the Wolverine movie was a pretty big stinker, the game looks to be the first ever where you get to play the character the way he's meant to be played: balls to the wall action and over-the-top violence and bloodshed. Count me in.

The resurrection of Bionic Commando and the movie tie-in Terminator Salvation both show potential, but I wouldn't recommend anyone run out and buy either until the reviews start rolling in.

For mixed martial arts fans, UFC Undisputed is the game for you. No, seriously, it's the only MMA game out there right now. Luckily, the limited demo gives me plenty of reason to believe the full title is going to be a fantastic addition to the fighting genre.

Finally, my single must-have game of the month is inFamous. Take a huge free-roaming world, throw in 10-plus hours worth of missions, ridiculous platforming, the freedom of choice and supercharged powers and you have what looks to be one of the best games hitting store shelves in 2009.

No matter what you like to play, though, there should be something coming out in May to keep you busy through the summer months.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Movies to miss in May

Maybe it's the amount of likely good movies coming out this month that's throwing my gripe game off, but I just can't get too upset about many films seeing a release in May.

With Star Trek, Up, Terminator- Salvation and even Night at the Museum and Angels and Demons hitting the silver screen, I'm too content with my viewing options to trash the stinkers too much...But trash them a little, I shall.

Next Day Air- It's a movie about a pothead who has family troubles, girlfriend troubles, work troubles and friends who tend to get him into even more trouble than he was already in to begin with. I think I've seen a few movies with this premise before and they stopped being good after the first one. Maybe Mos Def will somehow save this one...Though I doubt it.

Dance Flick- I hate that the no-talent Wayans brothers are still making a paycheck. Myself and nearly every movie blogger with two brain cells to rub together have called these types of train wrecks out on a number of occasions and yet they still make enough money to regurgitate a new one every two months. Please, for the love of god, stop going to see these movies.

On DVD- I'm going to reserve judgement on S. Darko- A Donnie Darko Tale until I get to see it for myself, but I'm fairly certain the rest of you should save your money and spend those two hours doing something more entertaining than watching S. Darko, like paper-cutting your tongue.

Then we have the direct to DVD version of Grudge 3. Could it possibly be worse than Grudge 2? I'm not sure how, but I'm banking on "yes."

And, finally, we have Paul Blart: Mall Cop. I committed to not calling out movies on both theater and DVD releases a few months back, but I'm making a special exception for this poopfest. Skip it.