Monday, August 16, 2010

Review wrap-up blowout special- Summer 2010

The end of summer brought with it oodles of entertainment. That meant less posts this past week, but hey, I got to catch up on lots of good stuff.

Unless I’m forgetting something, this was probably the most entertaining film I’ve seen all year. The cast is great and the story is imaginative. Some additional background and character development would have been nice, but I honestly believe these things were left out to make room for the intricate plot, which magically teeters on the edge of understanding and leaves you with plenty to think about, which is what’s important in a movie like this.

Despicable Me
Not as good as some of the Pixar classics (I hate to compare, but there it is), but manages to provide just enough cuteness and cleverness to make it a winner. Also, bravo for taking chances with some darker humor uncommon in such family fare.

The Expendables
Not as good as I had hoped, but certainly not as bad as I had feared. An homage to action films of the 80s, The Expendables manages to cram in every macho man known to film and gives most of them a chance to shine. Aside from some groan-inducing dialogue peppered throughout, it’s hard to ask for much more when my childhood heroes are united by the common goal of putting as many bullets into as many bad guys as humanly possible.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
This was a real treat. The six volume graphic novel has been expertly pared down, leaving only the essentials to be smooshed into a film under two hours and thoroughly entertaining throughout. The rapid-fire story gets a little tedious at times, but everything else left me grinning like a goober. The cast is spot on, the dialogue is perfect and there’s loads of humor and super-charged action to keep you daydreaming about classic videogames and quoting witty one-liners for a long time to come. Fans of the books will be delighted and non-fans will be converted. If you don’t enjoy this movie, you are likely a cold, sad soul. Enjoy being miserable, party-pooper.

BlazBlue: Continuum Shift
Take everything I said about the first BlazBlue fighting game and multiply it by 1.5. There’s more characters, levels and music, a revamped and rebalanced fighting system, a story mode that even summarizes the first game for you, additional single player modes to keep you busy, a nearly lag-free online component and more, all combined to make BBCS the total package when it comes to fighting games. At only $40 new, the price is right for those looking to upgrade or get into the series for the first time. Fast, fun and addictive.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game
I don’t often review downloadable titles but, in this case, I’m making an exception. The game features a “story” that mixes aspects from both the comics and the movie, and even includes a healthy dose of creative license. Reminiscent of the classic NES brawler, River City Ransom, players move across the screen picking up weapons, beating up baddies and helping each other out. Overflowing with videogame references, SPVTWTG manages to one-up its inspirations with a fighting system that evolves into something truly special. There’s also RPG elements, like leveling and purchasing items from stores, hidden areas, unlockable characters and a soundtrack that puts most of the 8-bit greats to shame. The final boss is a bit of a hassle and there’s no online play but, otherwise, SPVTWTG is a real winner.

Korn- Remember Who You Are
As the name of the CD suggests, Korn attempts to “remember who they are” in one of the most honest attempts out of the band in a very long time. Relying on heavy riffs and nixing Jonathan Davis’ whine in favor of his more appealing guttural growl, Remember Who You Are is a pretty decent rock album with little filler, but also nothing truly memorable. Not as triumphant a return to form as, say, Eminem made earlier this year, but not a bad effort all the same.

Under the Dome, by Stephen King
Holy crap this book was huge. That, and the fact it’s a sweeping tale of good vs. evil with a cast of likeable (and unlikeable) characters, has garnered much comparison to King’s masterpiece, The Stand. I wouldn’t put Under the Dome in the same category as The Stand, necessarily, but it’s certainly an entertaining read that forced me to fly through its thousand-plus pages in short order. When a town is inexplicably cut off from the rest of the world by an invisible barrier, it’s not monsters that create all the scares, but instead how dark mankind itself can be. The cast is huge but manageable and most are believable (some frighteningly so). Under the Dome allows you to look down and take a wide-scale gander at what all these little ants are doing under their glass enclosure. My first reaction to the ending was one of distaste but, after a couple days’ worth of pondering, it settled in nicely, fitting well with the concepts and ideas presented from the get-go and explored throughout. I was thoroughly entertained.

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