Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol

Who here is a huge fan of the Mission Impossible series?

Oh... I don't see all that many hands.  I supposed somebody out there is a rabid fanboy of Mission Impossible, waiting happily for every single release.  I bet somewhere out there a whole gang of people debate all the films on line, and decide which one is the best, and whatever, but I don't see it.  There have been four Mission Impossible movies so far, and even though they've all been moderately successful films, its never felt like a franchise that has really caught the public's imagination.  It definitely never caught mine, every single time I see a new Mission Impossible film I can barely remember what the other ones have been like.  There isn't any deep mythology or complex characters with long histories or anything.  None of the movies even feel similar, they're all just the next Tom Cruise spy-action flick.  Mission Impossible movies are really only the James Bond movies we watch in-between the real James Bond movies.

"Mission Impossible 1" was really good, I thought it was a solidly decent action film.  It has exciting moments, has dark turns, but still was a lot of fun and is worth a rent.  And that's really been the height of the series in ambition and reaction, none of them are classics of the medium.  "Mission Impossible 2" was pretty and flashy, but it didn't feel like even the same franchise.  Inferior, but made exciting by director John Woo at his Woo-iest.  As for "Mission Impossible 3"... that sucked.  J.J. Abrams made a dreary humorless movie that ultimately was really boring.  It felt like Abrams was ramping up the emotions of the series, adding some level of completely flat dramatic relationships and a lot of false emotions, and in the end, the villain gets punked out in an amazing anticlimax.  "Mission Impossible 4:  Ghost Protocol" is yet another shift in tone, being a big huge action film, and that's about it.

So ultimately "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon" isn't all that monumental of a film.  Its an unambitious action movie and it isn't trying to be much more than that.  It is, however, Brad Bird's, Pixar master director of "The Incredibles", first live-action movie.  So its a solid action movie, good for a night at the movies and exactly not one more thing else.  The action scenes are impressive, the character banter is mildly humorous.  Brad Bird shoots straight down the line to exactly "good".

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

2011 had one final gift for me:  food poisoning.  So despite all the movies I need to review and all the posts I should be making about my new video games, I was instead in bed or almost in bed all week, and I don't feel much better now.  This is also putting the kaibosh on my dreams of getting ridiculously drunk tonight and completely failing to hit on girls.  But there was on light spot on my miserable week:

While thumbing through my room on Christmas Eve, I found the most magnificent thing:  a model one Game Boy.  This beautiful portable machine was the first ever true Nintendo handheld console, the beginning of a glorious tradition of great machines full of great games that has lasted over two decades.  Speaking of lasting two decades, this Game Boy itself has survived four Presidencies to see 2012, and its still working!  Nothing from 1989 still works, but this does, I love this machine.  Its an amazing find.  The Game Boy is the epitome of pure gaming praticality and engineering brilliance.  It is well-known to be completely indestructible, has impressive memory space for its cartridges, and most amazingly, perhaps unlimited battery life.  I've been playing this thing since Sunday on the batteries I found it with, and it is still running!  Not even the Wiimote will last that long!

The Game Boy really is singularly the most perfect example of pure gaming.  It was a system designed with only that in mind.  It didn't waste resources on graphics, it didn't waste resources on silly bells and whistles.  There's no touch screen, no Internet connection, no 3D, no microphone, no DLC, only the games doing what they do best:  gameplay.  Its spartan simplicity shows exactly what modern gaming has lost, purity.  The Game Boy wasn't made to show off Nintendo's so-called "revolutionary" control methods or 3D, it was just a handheld platform to play games, that's all it ever was and that's what it did better than anybody else.  One can't help but think that the Game Boy's great-great grandson has completely forgotten that philosophy.

And what a better way to show off the brilliance of the Game Boy than "The Legend of Zelda:  Link's Awakening"?  A game I never played until recently and beat just yesterday.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - Part 3

TO PART 2.

I've basically stopped playing "Skyward Sword" at this point.  I didn't beat the game, I reached the Final Boss, and lost.  Clearly I need more little bottles with Potions, but I just don't care.  I don't, I'm at the bottom here.  I could go back up to Skyloft, go through the tedious and pointless flying segment, talk to all the shopkeepers with their needlessly long and stupid unskippable dialog, buy all the Potions.  Then I could wander the world and find all the bugs and stupid little bits of crafting items and upgrade the Potions, and maybe do a sidequest or two to get more bottles.  But... I don't care.  I've so wanted to love this game, so wanted to enjoy it.  I could probably finish the whole thing in about three hours with just a single determined push, but my will is sapped.  I'm beaten.  I think I need to finally face the very awful truth about "Skyward Sword":  this game sucks.  Its not fun.

Yesterday I booted up "Wind Waker" for the Gamecube.  Immediately I was stunned by the amazing beautiful perfection of its art style, a true labor of love to make a gorgeous unique game.  "Wind Waker"'s entire experience is so charming, and the game is so warm and inviting to its player.  And then I started exploring an area of combat.  To no surprise at all, I found I did not miss the motion controls.  I was able to play this game, which is now almost ten years old, with a level of control balance and secure knowledge that the commands I give Link will be exactly what he'll do on screen in a way that "Skyward Sword"'s motion controls do not allow.  And there's a free-roaming camera!  I can spin the camera all around Link, what an idea!  Sailing is free and adventurous, you just want to keep on going to the ends of the universe on your little red boat.  I actually started to tear up, "Wind Waker" is so amazing and so lovely.  I want that feeling again in "Skyward Sword", but isn't there.  Why can't I love this game?  I want to love it so badly.  I loved every other Zelda game I played, this is the first one that is truly plain bad.

Now, I know nostalgia is clearly ruining my objectivity here, but there is a point to be made.  "Wind Waker" is a far more innovative and exciting game than "Skyward Sword" will ever be.  "Skyward Sword" is the same game as Nintendo has been making for ten years.  I've always believed that Nintendo can keep making the same game over and over again and it will be fine as long as its fun... but "Skyward Sword" isn't fun.  Maybe it is for you other people who enjoy the game, don't let me stop you.  As for me, however, its pretty clear that this game is a dead-end for the series.  This is the not the next big step forward for Zelda.  For the first time ever, this series has gotten stale.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Blackthorn

The Western movie might be an undead film genre, but that's certainly not stopping filmmakers from creating a great cowboy movie every so often.  2010 had the grandly memorable "True Grit", 2008 had "3:10 to Yuma".   2011 needed a great Western movie, and two movies came forward to answer the call.  One was "Cowboys & Aliens", an utterly forgettable silly SciFi movie with a gaggle of movie stars and a ridiculous budget.  The other was "Blackthorn", a slow beautiful movie that you've probably never heard of.  And that's a shame, because "Blackthorn" is easily one of the best movies I've seen all year, melancholic and gorgeous with the heart of a true classic.

"Blackthorn" is kind of an unofficial sequel to the famous Robert Redford-Paul Newman masterpiece "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid".  Bizarrely for somebody who pretends to be a film fan, I haven't seen that movie, but its sitting on my Netflix queue now.  The main concept between "Blackthorn" is that Butch Cassidy survived the famous outlaw duo's death and has been living quietly in Bolivia under the name of 'James Blackthorn' for twenty years.  During his attempt to travel home to America, he runs into a Spanish outlaw and goes on one final adventure in the fantastic wilderness of the Andes Mountains.  The plot may be a basic chase adventure, but the results are a stark movie that takes it time, builds a great atmosphere, and becomes a walking landscape painting.

All in all, I'd say that "Blackthorn" is arguably the most beautiful-looking movie of 2011.  This is the quintessential Western classic, all of which is made extremely unfortunate because I know for a fact you've never heard of this movie before.  Its a Spanish production (though shot 80% in English) that was released first on iTunes of all places, and got a minor theatrical run in October.  Even I missed it, which is a tragedy, because this is a great movie that deserved better.  So I guess its up to me, little 'ol me, to sing "Blackthorn"'s praises.  I'm not the singer this movie needs, my range is pitiful, and I'm frequently out of tune.  And I drive metaphorical conceits straight into the grave.  Let's hear the music.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows

"Sherlock Holmes 1" was easily one of the best movies of 2009.  "Sherlock Holmes 2" is one of the most okay movies of 2011.  For a year full of various disappointments and failures, to me 'pretty good' is the new great.  It was properly entertaining, not a new classic, not as good as the original, but certainly worth seeing.  Compared to many other movies with the number '2' in the title, "Sherlock Holmes:  A Game of Shadows" manages to keep the franchise fresh, entertaining, and fun enough for me to get happily excited for a "Sherlock Holmes 3".

At the start of this year, there were a lot of movies I was looking forward to:  "Rango", "Captain America", "Sucker Punch", "Harry Potter 7.5".  Are we noticing a pattern here?  These movies were all either mediocre or utterly horrible.  There have been lots of unhappy surprises this year, even now I still can't call it a good year for movies.  This is a year where there wasn't just a Transformers movie, there wasn't just a Twilight movie, but there was also "Jack and Jill".  Aside from a few bright spots like "Drive", "Winnie th Pooh", and "the Guard", 2011 generally sucked.  But now there are less than week left, and 2011 has to work overtime to convince me that it wasn't a complete disaster.  "Sherlock Holmes 2" is not a movie that will change my entire opinion of the year, but it was a pretty decent.  This is as good as any movie should be, movies should never get worse than this.

I actually went out last night with the initial plan of seeing "Hugo", but the universe didn't allow for that.  So instead I went to this.  The first "Sherlock Holmes" was clever, entertaining, exciting, and Robert Downey Jr-ey.  This one is much of the same, but I don't think director Guy Ritchie really knew how to make a sequel.  So he just ramped everything up, turned it all into an action movie, and stopped flirting with the idea of Holmes and Watson having sexual tension and turned them into forlorn gay lovers.  The results are clearly inferior, and if I were a crueler person, I wouldn't give it a pass.  But Robert Downey Jr.!  What am I to do?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - Part 2

TO PART 1.

Okay, so I finally decided this would be a three part review.  Actually, I think this is a much smarter way of doing video game reviews.  You can't review an experience that is so long and so variable as a fifty-hour video game in just one shot.  If you write the review too early, before you even finish the game, you can't quantify your emotions by the end of the game.  Yeah, the beginning might be great, but who knows if the game might outstay its welcome or be a load of crap by the end?  However, if you write a review after the end credits, you lose track of everything you've experienced.  It all becomes a confusing blur too full of details to really explain properly.  So I like this way best, honestly.

Anyway, last time on my "Skyward Sword" experience, I was feeling some doubts as to whether this game would shape up to meet Zelda par.  Unfortunately, those doubts have turned into certainty:  this game is not as good as "Twilight Princess" or "Wind Waker".  Now I know everybody uses "Ocarina of Time" as the bar, but they are mistaken.  "Ocarina of Time" is fourteen years old and feels ancient to me playing now, the game is really showing its age compared with its Gamecube sequels.  But that's besides the point:  "Skyward Sword" is probably the weakest of all the 3D Zelda games.  I won't go ahead and declare it to be a bad game, we're not down there at any stretch of the imagination.  However, it is a massively uneven game.

Now this is a shame.  Obviously whenever I buy a Zelda game I expect it to be the greatest experience of my life.  I was super-hyped for "Twilight Princess", expecting an epic grand game that would be the largest and most powerful Zelda yet - and it was!  Everything I wanted and more, "Twilight Princess" is the greatest video game ever made.  I had similar hopes for "Skyward Sword", and it just has not delivered.  Yeah, there are stunning moments in this video game, and it has probably the best characters of any Zelda game yet.  However... its everything that happens in between the story sections that weakens this title.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Used Games Debate

Gamers can be annoying sometimes.  But they're lovable in their own little insane way, and anybody who is willing to spend 400 hours catching every single Pokemon is a certified badass in my book*.  No, the thing I really hate about the game industry are gaming devs.  Pack of crooks as far as I'm concerned.  Yeah, I know they're are a lot of people who legitimately love the medium and are trying to make fun experiences for their players.  But there are also a lot of people being really creative in ways to screw me over royally.  Just how much dick can they shove up their consumers' collective ass?  Western game developers are the worst at this, by the way, constantly finding new ways to screw you and make you buy new crap that you don't need.  Remember the days when you walked into a store and bought a game?  And it was the full game.  Remember that?  Those were good times.

But game developers hated those good times.  Because simply paying for a cartridge or a disc, taking it home, putting into your system, and playing it as long as wanted, that wasn't enough for them.  They wanted to bleed their consumers dry with all sorts of needless crap.  I don't need to put in a monthly fee or pay fifty more bucks for DLC or suck Bobby Kotick's dick in order to play the game.  I don't want a constant Internet connection or any other crap.  I just want to play.  Well, those days are ending, my friends, gaming is going to purely digital now, no discs at all.

You see, I happen to be a cheap person.  I'm Jewish, so maybe it comes from that, but it also comes from my basic responsible attitude towards life.  I know every dollar I spend more than I need to on a game is one dollar less that I'll be able to spend on something else - which includes things I really need like food.  Do you know how many video games I bought for new at full price this year?  One, "Skyward Sword", and I'm beginning to think I paid too much for that**.  Apparently this means that I'm a horrible person, becase none of the dollars I spent actually went to game developers - who, by the way, were selling the games at a higher price.  In fact, lots of crooks at nightmarish dictatorships like Activision and EA are planning to include all sorts of locks and codes on games so that the used gaming market will die out all together.

Clearly, that would be bad for me.  It would also be really bad for you.  It would be bad for everybody.  Yet I still hear blowhards on the Internet saying that used games are a "scam" and should end.  Well, folks, allow me to show you why you're wrong.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'll Just Leave This Here

Usually this would be a Daily Thought, but um... Its way worse than that.  It needs a whole post to itself.  I probably shouldn't share it with other people... but I have a duty to warn the world.  Here's a link, you can open it if you want.  I recommend you don't, because its really bad.  NSFW, of course.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEUOOgNzOv4

What in the unholy name of Limp Bizkit is that??  Jesus Christ, man!  So just in case you're crying in fear, I also have this to share.  Its actually something decent, for a change.

Also, hilariously, just three minutes before hearing this song, I posted my Pre-order for this game on Amazon.  What a fool I am...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Metal Gear Rising Solid: The Trailers

So over the last few years, I have been following the development of one "Metal Gear Solid:  Rising".  Or is it "Metal Rising Solid:  Revenge"?  Or was it actually "Vengeance Gear Rising:  Metal"?  "Rising Revenge Metal:  Solid State Society"?  No no, it was "Transformers:  Revenge of the Rising".  Or maybe, "Batman & Metal:  Rise of Cobra"?  "Metal Gear of the Caribbean:  Dead Man's Revegence".  "Star Wars:  Episode Gear:  The Phantom Solid".  ...Uch.  I give up.  The game had a title, that's all you need to know.

Anyway, even though "Setal Mear Golid:  Rising Sun" was first revealed in 2009 or 2010, its been completely silent on the media front.  A total no-show at E3 this year.  However, recently a new trailer popped up for the game, and I couldn't help but notice a few differences have occurred in the last few years.  Let's watch them both and compare:



Well, I have things to say about this.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Last Circus

Ho boy.  I've seen some strange movies in my day.  David Lynch made Naomi Watts run away from two ten-inch tall elderly tourists.  Bill Plympton had a comedian tear himself to pieces to roars of laughter.  Hideaki Anno made "Evangelion".  I've seen David Cronenberg's typewriters, and his television sets, and his classrooms.  Trust me, weirdness is nothing new to me.  But today... I got a really weird movie.  About clowns.

If you're afraid of clowns, this will be the greatest movie ever made for you.

"The Last Circus" is a Spanish-language movie that has just recently been released on DVD in the US with English subtitles.  Its original title was "Balada trista de trompeta", or "Sad Trumpet Ballad", which was changed for no reason at all.  Personally I would have called the movie "Killer Klowns from Fascist Spain", but then again, I've seen this other movie 500 hundred times, so my mind might be a bit warped.  The plot begins with a deranged love triangle between a loser sad clown, a beautiful trapeze artist who changes her haircut in every scene, and a sadist happy clown.  Then things get darker and more absurd.  And darker.  And darker.  And more absurd.  Until suddenly the movie has gone so far off the rails that basically anything at all can happen.  Oh, and then it gets even more insane.

Up until roughly the point where the movie goes completely nuts, I would have called "The Last Circus" one of the best movies I've ever seen.  Clearly the movie was rapidly building up tension and emotion to some of breaking point... which comes at just about the halfway point.  Then everything gets so violent, everybody turns into such grotesque creatures of pure madness, that I basically have no idea what I'm watching anymore.  Was there a plot at some point?  This is a movie that could have ended in absolutely any way, with just about anything happening, and it wouldn't have seemed out of place, because nothing is in place.  "Off the rails" is the wrong term, because this movie goes so far beyond any concept of rails that mentioning "The Last Circus" in the same sentence as rails is an insult to rails.  Its intense, and actually, a lot of fun.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - Part 1

Note:  This is dedicated to Michael, my little cousin and still my favorite person, who I know is playing this game up in Heaven.  I love you, little guy.

For the past week only one thought has dominated my thoughts:  have I been playing enough "Skyward Sword" today?  The answer, of course, has been no.  I shouldn't even let myself sleep, I should devote my entire heart and soul into this golden disc.  If I die from exhaustion by the time the credits role, my life would have been an adequate sacrifice.  What plateau in all of existence can possibly top the release of a new Zelda game anyway?  ...Well, except for the release of the next Zelda game, of course.

So in knowing that one day I'll be Zelda-ing away my troubles on the Nintendo WiiU, I've decided to keep on living for another few years.  And keep up my hygiene, social life, work, academics, and every other aspect of the real world which tragically pales in comparison to the wonder and magic of Link's adventures.  (Also there is a very loud and exasperating voice in my head that reminds me that I shouldn't completely go insane until at least my Fifties.)  So obviously I haven't beaten the entire game in a week, though I have fought my way through three dungeons and have now started the second major phase of the game.  So I guess this post is a "first-impressions" or a review of the first part of the game or something.  Let's just call it "Part 1" of Blue's thoughts, shall we?  Clearly the conclusion or Part 2 will come once I complete the entire thing and defeat the Ganon, who is presumably the Final Boss somehow.

The reason why I'm not just reviewing the game is partly out of intellectual honestly - you really can't review a game unless you've beaten it* - and partly because I'm not entirely sure where I'd actually rank this game.  Is it the best Zelda yet?  I'm not feeling like its the case.  But the game's so far from terrible and I'm fully obsessed with it now, so I can't say its awful.  Maybe I'll find out by the end.  But now that I've put off the biggest question, let me talk about the smaller stuff.  I'm dieing to talk here, I can't stand it anymore!  The world must know my opinions, NOW!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bleach the Movie 3: Fade to Black

Remember that whole year I spent recapping Bleach episodes?  Yeah, that was fun for awhile.  Then I drastically burned out and couldn't do it anymore and outsourced it to HeadBodyMaster?  Yeah, that wasn't exactly the ending I had in mind with the Bleach recaps.  I envisioned a message of love:  yeah, Bleach is stupid and silly to levels almost unimaginable, even downright lazy, but yet it was all still fun.  Anybody over the age of ten who has seen a Godzilla movie completely unironically knows what I'm talking about here.  Its awful, its cheesy, but there are a lot of cheesy things I like:  cheeseburgers, Philly cheesestakes, tuna melts.  What I'm saying is that fast food shouldn't make me throw up, and Bleach got really bad towards the end.

Let's try to amend the bad feelings me and Bleach have right now, I don't want it to end like this.  We have kids together, where will they be with Mommy and Daddy fighting?  And you know, Bleach was definitely making overtures of peace towards me, the newest season doesn't absolutely suck in every way.  I mean, Fake Karakura Town, that was perhaps the worst television ever aired.  But this new Zanpukuto season, that's tolerable at least.

What's not barely tolerable is the newest Bleach movie, "Fade to Black".  In a year where there have already been two great anime TV show movies, "Evangelion 2.0" and "Trigun: Badlands Rumble", I figured Bleach would finally be able to stand up, take charge, and make something of quality again.  Well, instead of quality, the folks at Studio Perriot decided instead to ruthlessly copy the worst parts of Kingdom Hearts and make an extremely awkward storyline that consists mostly of characters convincing each other that they exist.  There's a big air of mystery surrounding the two villains, which ultimately results in the viewer having no idea what the heck is going on.  There is action, there are fight scenes, they're pretty well choreographed, but they're not "wow, this is really cool" moments.  The fight scene between Mr. 69 and Findor was a really cool moment.  Why does a regular episode of the show have higher quality than a MOVIE?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

ITS HERE

Yes, its here.  The one, the only, the "Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword".  Am I the only one who cannot believe that its been five whole years since "Twilight Princess" came out?  Seems like just yesterday I was loving the Hell out of that game.  Times flies when you're in love, I guess.  A very annoying vocal minority likes to bitch about Zelda games, well, its a good thing none of those people have told me where they live.  Well, I finally am holding my golden box, within which is a golden jewel case, with a golden WiiMote.  Glory has once again returned to the Nintendo Wii, the greatest swan song you could ever hope for.

This is, without a doubt, the single most monumental event in my entire life.  Its the most monumental moment in any life. 

Having played an hour and a half of this game, I can say now... absolutely nothing.  Its been mostly a tutorial so far, the new combat controls seem to work, and Zelda wants me.  That's about it, you can't say anything substantive yet.  Stay tuned for a real review soon.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Twilight 4: Breaking Down

Being a blog author sometimes isn't all that its cracked up to be.  I mean, yeah, there's the fame, fortune, and the adoration of fans all around the world, that's great.  But sometimes no number of panties sent in the mail by horny attractive female admirers can ever make-up for the less pleasant part of the job.  And by less pleasant parts, I'm talking about Twilight here.  I've been waiting a few weeks to see this movie, mostly because I was hoping to find an empty so that nobody could spot me actually paying money to see a Stephenie Meyers production.  I don't mind the movies so much, but if I ran into somebody I knew there, it would probably slaughter myself in shame.  Unfortunately the one I picked was packed weeks later.  Why aren't these people seeing "The Muppets"?  So I just had to sit my head high and laugh at loud at the movie these people actually cared about.  Then again, by writing so many posts on this subject on this blog, my future biographers will know my closeted fascination in this franchise.  In fact, my interest in Twilight will outlive me, because this blog will be floating around forgotten on the Interwebs years after I'm gone.

So when you remember Blue Highwind, remember this, he was a Team Jacob Twihard.  He willingly brought all of this upon himself.

Last time on Twilight, "Eclipse" turned out to be the most structurally well-made movie of the entire "Saga"*, which is why it was horribly boring and intolerable in every way.  The first two Twilight movies are masterpieces of awkwardness, probably the clumsiest and ham-handed romance movies you'll ever see that are not directed by George Lucas.  You could not ask for more hilarious disasters of movies, and for that they will always have a place in my heart right next to other grand failures like "Howard the Duck" or "Batman and Robin".  "Twilight 3" was merely mediocre, not hilariously bad, so I was somewhat disappointed.  But "Twilight 4" is properly entertaining, easily the best of the four in terms of pure movie making, yet still intensely stupid.  So its everything I could have asked for:  bad premise, bad story, bad implications, and quite a lot of blood at the end.  This is far away from the worst movie of 2011, remember a Transformer movie came out this year along with that ungodly piece of shit, "Green Lantern".  And its well shot!

Still, this was a movie that should have properly been rated R.  They should have gone all-out, pure gory insanity.  The end of this movie is like the ending to a Peter Jackson comedy: with blood all over the floor.  Why can't they relish that fact?  Why do we need to keep playing this show for the romance crowd?  The romance is over, the horror has finally begun.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Muppets

I thought "the Muppets" would be a fun, hilarious, and entertaining movie.  Then I saw it, and saw a fun, hilarious, and entertaining movie.  If you've ever liked any Muppets products before this, the 70s variety show, the 80s and 90s movies, or any of the other stuff, this will be a movie well worth seeing.  If you never liked the Muppets before, well I guess you won't like this movie as much but it still is a fun movie worth seeing.  Kids will like it, adults will like it, old people will like it, puppets will like it, and 97% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes will like it*.  So the only thing is missing, I guess, is for you to see it.  Which should change very quickly.

The Muppets, as always, are a comedy/musical/self-parody group delivering laughs and entertainment to all.  Modern day Vaudeville with puppets, basically.  Since I'm completely out of my depth reviewing a comedy, I guess I'll use this paragraph to describe what bits of the Muppets I've personally experienced.   When in doubt, be egotistical, I say.  So I saw a couple of the movies, particularly the ones that came out when I saw kid "Muppets Treasure Island" and "Muppets Christmas Carol".  They're fine movies, sorta mediocre but fun enough, I guess.  The 70s show is what I really recommend, though.  Its amazingly clever, very funny, and full of great slices of old-timey 70s entertainment.  I've only seen a pile of the original show's episodes (I started out with the Star Wars episode and worked my way down), but I think it really is a great bit of humor, even forty years later.

What this new Muppet movie brings to the table is actually surprisingly little in terms of an original take on the Muppets.  There is a new storyline with human characters plus a new muppet sewn in, but they're not the story.  They're part of a small ensemble cast out to save the Muppets Theatre from an evil oil magnate named, Tex "Blatant Name" Richman.  Its all extremely old-school, even if big name actors Jason Segel and Amy Adams are in the mix.  "The Muppets" is a warm-hearted charming retread of a classic series, just like Disney's earlier movie this year, "Winnie the Pooh".  Both films were made entirely out of love for their franchise.  Which is why, of course, they're both some of the best movies of 2011.  "The Muppets" is great.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The People vs George Lucas Reaction

"The People vs George Lucas" is a tell-all documentary telling basically the entire story of the Star Wars fandom and their reaction to Star Wars' self-declared "owner"*, George Lucas.  The movie tells the long saga, from the glorious happy reactions to the Original Trilogy, to fan nitpicking over the Special Edition changes, to very bitter and very unhappy times that were the Prequels.  This movie covers it all, from Jar Jar to fan films to the "Star Wars Holiday Special".  Through a long line of talking heads that include film scholars, nerds, directors, producers, pretentious French dudes, Neil Gaiman, Japanese cosplayers, and just about everybody who cares enough about Star Wars to talk about it and tell their story.  Over 400 hours of footage were compiled together into a collage of hatred - and a lot of love - for George Lucas and the numerous issues around Star Wars.

I'm not going to review "The People vs George Lucas", its not really my thing.  I like to comment on stories, how they're developed, why they work, and how effectively the creators can create a new world for you to enjoy.  "The People vs George Lucas" is a non-fiction film, there is a narrative created by the chorus of voices, but its not a story**.  I recommend watching it if you're a Star Wars fan, or just somebody with a passing curiosity who wants to understand the arguments on both side.  So instead of actually reviewing this movie, I'm putting together a response, basically my own thoughts on where Star Wars stands today.  Watching the Phantom's recuts "The Phantom Edit" and "Attack of the Phantom" brought up a lot of emotions for me, and I still have a lot to say about Star Wars.

A lot of people during the course of "The People vs George Lucas" gave their testimonies on what Star Wars means to them.  Obviously I had nothing at all to do with the making of this movie, I sent nothing in, but I would have liked to.  If I had known that this movie was being made (I only found out thanks to a Half in the Bag episode), I definitely would have tried to send in something.  So maybe this is a rant, we'll see where this goes.  I might delete the whole thing once I'm done, but I think I actually have something to add to this discussion.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bayonetta

So recently I bought a PlayStation 3 for the incredibly low price of eighty-five bucks.  That meant I could finally go back and play all the amazing high-def video games that I had missed over the last few years.  So my first thought turned to "Final Fantasy XIII", since that was the singularly most landmark RPG of this entire generation and a huge game that took half a decade to make.  Then I remembered that I hated "Final Fantasy XIII" from the sight of it, and would never play it unless some sadistic Nazi surgeon grafted a PS3 controller to my hands, forcing me to be psychically incapable of anything but playing video games for the rest of my life.  So instead I got "Bayonetta".

Oh, I know somebody is going to ask, but my "Skyward Sword" order isn't coming until the 28th for some reason or another.  And yes, I have cried about it.  Returning to the point:

"Bayonetta" is an action game developed by the same guys who made "Devil May Cry".  The point here is to create a game even more ridiculous and over-the-top starring the most shameless fanservice delivery device Sega could find, a witch clad in black leather with guns for stilettos and a fetish for lollipops.  The main point of this video game can be seen very clearly in the image I picked for this post.  Examine it closely, and you will understand "Bayonetta" completely.  Of course, I still can't tell if "Bayonetta" is a straight example of pure male pandering or just some kind of over-the-top parody of the trope.  Maybe somebody at Sega was fed up with the annoying feminist argument that all women in video games were "mindless sluts", so they went out of their way to create the most slutty absurd sex object ever in this game's star, the titular Bayonetta.  Or maybe nobody cared at all and were just trying to be as ridiculous and Japanese as possible.  This is the "Batman and Robin" of video games, something so campy and downright stupid that it almost feels self-degrading to lower yourself to its level and try to examine it critically.

So I guess I'll mostly talk about the gameplay, which is largely solid, if painfully, horribly, wretchedly unfair.  And the loading.  There's a lot of loading.  So wait thirty seconds for the rest of this review to load up, and move on to the rest.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who is Mediocrest of them All?

In 1937 Walt Disney created the first full-length animated film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".  It was a timeless classic of American film, starting off a glorious tradition of Disney films that have continued to this day.  Today, "Seven Dwarfs" is the remembered version of the Grimm Brothers fairy tale, and is often cited as the greatest animated film of all time.  All other adaptations have to meet this standard, or inevitably be forgotten.  Personally, if I were going to pick a more modern Snow White movie, I'd go with "Snow White: A Tale of Terror" starring Sigourney Weaver.  If you're wondering what kind of movie that is, read the title carefully.  Well, I guess Hollywood has once again run out of ideas, so now they're making not one, but two live-action remakes of Snow White for next year.  And they both look terrible.

I'll start with the more decent one first, "Snow White & the Huntsman".


It all starts out decent enough, with a soundtrack borrowed directly from "Tron: Legacy" and Charlize Theron acting creepy.  And then she's bathing naked in white paint, and well, that's... that's just fine by me!  She's sucking out souls, there's medieval knights fighting, this all looks good.  A dark character study starring the Evil Queen.  Then Charlize asks her mirror who the "fairest of them all" is.... and guess who they cast?

Fucking Bella Swan.  You can starting laughing now.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Star Wars Episode II.I: Attack of the Phantom

Recently I reviewed "The Phantom Edit", the commendable fan-recut of "Episode I" as a desperate attempt to save that movie.  Now we're moving on to the direct sequel made by the same Phantom Editor, "Attack of the Phantom".

I really recommend that you listen to the commentary track that the Phantom made for his recuts of the Star Wars films.  It really shows that these edits are a labor of love.  This guy loves Star Wars, he loves what it stood for, he loves the characters, he loves the philosophy of the stories.  And most notably, he loved George Lucas.  There's a heartbreaking moment about an hour into "The Phantom Edit" where he recounts that he won a poster in a Star Wars contest as a kid which he always intended for his childhood hero, George Lucas to personally sign it.  Then he notes that with the public acrimony that "The Phantom Edit" created, culminating in fit of bravado from Lucas that he'd never watch the recut under any circumstances, that signing of the poster will never happen.  I can't tell completely from the commentary since its audio-only, but I think the Phantom might have been crying a little bit when he tells that anecdote.  It shows he really cares about this Saga, he wants the prequel movies to be successful epics on the same level as the Original Trilogy.

George Lucas, as far as I can tell, has no such interests.  He only seems interested in stroking his ego by constantly telling himself that he knows better and doesn't have to listen to anybody.  "Attack of the Clones 3D" is coming sometime in 2013, probably released as the same movie over again, which all its major faults.  Nothing will be fixed, and the movie will suck just as bad as always.  I can actually understand how somebody could have been fooled into liking the Prequels - of course, you have to be a child to think like that.  I was eight when I saw "Episode I", and even though my parents left the threatre ready to kill themselves, I thought it was great.  I was eleven when "Episode II" came out, and I was not fooled.  Even that young I recognized that the movie was lousy, that the acting was terrible, and that the love story between Anakin and Padme was the most hilariously bad romance to be created in the history of human expression until the coming of Stephanie Meyer.  So if an eleven-year-old could see it, how in the world could George Lucas, a man who spent his life telling stories and making films be oblivious to these flaws?  He isn't, he can't possibly have not noticed, he just can't show weakness.  He can't let himself admit that the Prequels suck, and until then, the world will be cursed by mediocre awful Star Wars.

Of course, our dear Phantom missed nothing, and immediately recognized that "Episode II" was a disaster.  So he took out his pruning shears, ready to try to save George Lucas's film legacy once again.  This time, the Phantom cut out a full forty minutes from "Episode II".  This was originally the longest Star Wars movie, now its ten minutes shorter than "The Phantom Edit".  Since "The Phantom Edit" actually made "Episode I" a measurably worse of an experience all in all, I have to wonder if "Attack of the Phantom" can possibly do better.  Let's find out.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

J. Edgar

Can you feel it?  The world has moved on.  The winter's chill has murdered the Summer Blockbusters, forcing their hibernation until next May.  And in their place a new tribe rules the film dominion:  the Oscar-bait.  The currency of pretentiousness has replaced mindless action.  Great thespians replace sexy young stars.  Where is Michael Bay now?  He can't go outside in a season like this, art is poisonous to being like him.  Instead he's hiding deep underground, blasting his ears with explosions and meaningless Chris Tucker noises to drown out any strap bits of culture that might seep into his head.

"J. Edgar" is a child of its age, clearly.  The first of many movies made not for people like you and me, but for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  It hits every note on the Oscar-bait checklist:  1) its a historical biopic, 2) stars a homosexual*, 3) is directed by master Oscar-fisher Clint Eastwood, and 4) stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Dame Judi Dench, two darlings of the Oscar circle.  I guess what this movie is telling us is this:  "GIVE ME THE OSCAR NOW NOW NOW NOW!!!"

Unfortunately, the only thing worse than such shameless Oscar-bait is bad shameless Oscar-bait.  Movies like "The King's Speech" are great because they play up the Oscar-bait role perfectly, telling great universal stories.  Why couldn't that happen here?  J. Edgar Hoover was a fascinating figure in American figure, ruling as the Presidential Court's Master of Secrets for half a century.  You'd think somewhere in there would be a great story to tell, turns out no.  Instead, Clint Eastwood made a pathetically dreary slow movie that's more a romance story than any kind of spy thriller.  "J. Edgar" is boring, that's all you need to know.

Bleach Recaps Have Moved

"Bleach" was never a good show, but even I never thought it would get this bad.  So ultimately, I can't be bothered to keep writing about the show, and even if I did, as you've noticed, school demands have increased considerably, so I don't have the time to write four posts a week like I was pulling back in the summer.  Already I have a big backlog of posts, I can't throw "Bleach" onto the load.  (And I'm trying to create something substantial of my own outside of this blog, so that's another chunk of time lost from the week.)

On that note, my dear friend HeadBodyMaster has taken up the candle of "Bleach"-ness.  There's a new arc on the way, one that actually looks good.  Here's his recap of Episode 230, enjoy it.  He's done an excellent job of recreating my work, and is funny on its own merits.  So head over to Head Body World, when you get the Bleach bug.

As for me and "Bleach", I don't think we're completely divorced from each other.  I'll be reviewing the movies when they come out in English.  Movie 3 is coming later this week.  And I might just make a final comment on the seasons when they're finished, who knows?

Til next time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Star Wars Episode I.II: The Phantom Edit

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but here we go: "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" is coming back to theatres in February.  In 3D.  Because when George Lucas made this movie back in 1999, he knew that it was such a horrific, truly awful experience that you simply had to see it with a bloated ticket price and half-assed 3D effects.  However, the technology  for lame overused 3D was just not there in the 20th century, we had to wait until now.  Its all part of his grand artistic vision to destroy everything.  At this point, I think even George Lucas knows how bad the prequels are - the truth of it could not have escaped him by now.  Since he knows what he's doing, asking people to pay money for a movie like this is downright criminal, and I'm begging you not to see the "Phantom Menace 3D" under any circumstances.  Instead, go watch Harry S. Plinkett's greatly informative and moderately psychotic review of "Episode I" on RedLetterMedia.  All around, that is a superior movie.

We've all been through the Star Wars prequels before this, let's agree that they're... not good.  "Not good" is the most diplomatic way I could describe these movies.  A year ago, I actually proposed that George Lucas completely remake the prequels, using a thin outline of a script that I wrote in an afternoon.  So far, Lucas has not contacted me.  Though maybe, just maybe, in the last year Lucasfilm clandestinely made the totally kick-ass movie I imagined last year.  In which case, I'll be expecting a very lovely check.  Well, let's go see the trailer then.

...Mmm-Hmm...  Podracing...  Didn't have that in my plans.  Or Jake Lloyd.  Or stupid robots.  Or Jar Jar.  Or a big stupid NOO.  Yeah... this is the same fucking movie from 1999.

Since "Episode 1" has sucked so bad for so long, it was inevitable that somebody would try to fix it.  And that somebody was not George Lucas, he couldn't care less*.  Instead, it was a person called "The Phantom Editor", who took a scissor to his "Episode I" DVD and removed eighteen minutes of running time, invented a few seconds of video, creating "Star Wars Episode I.II: The Phantom Edit".  This was out of the goal to make the movie better, more dramatic, less stupid, less Jar Jar-y.  I first heard about this version several years ago, but never could find it on the Internet, until now.  Today I just found it on Youtube, the complete movie.  Whoever uploaded it must have balls of castiron, since I'm sure Lucasfilm will shut this thing down by tomorrow, but for now, its popcorn time.  Personally, I think "Episode I" is the worst out of all six movies (but not by much), and any attempt to save this trainwreck would be worth it.  But can simply cutting out a scene or two make a film worth watching?  We're about to find out.

Friday, November 4, 2011

ParaNorman and Arriety Trailers

I got two trailers for you lovely readers today, both of which are animated, and both of which are 2012.  Time simply does not move fast enough, clearly, because they're movies being made by some of the biggest geniuses in the business currently.  Along with Pixar's Gaelic apology for "Cars 2", "Brave", 2012 is shaping up to be a really good year.

First of all, we have a film about me circa third grade, "ParaNorman":


"ParaNorman" is proudly advertised as being made by the same people who made "Coraline", the greatest movie ever made*.  And really, that's all I need to hear.  "Coraline" is friggin' incredible, its a movie I love more every single time I see it.  Well, "ParaNorman" isn't actually being directed by Henry Selick, the man who gave us "Coraline" and the misleadingly-titled "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas", since he's been stolen by Disney-Pixar.  But it is being made by the same animation studio and the... storyboarder.  So well, the connection is there, "ParaNorman" really seems to want to be some kind of spiritual successor to "Caroline", like "Corpse Bride" was to "Nightmare".  So I'm looking forward to this.

The main character (presumably named "Norman") is a horror film geek, like I was before I grew up to be an adult horror film geek.  Of course, since he has the misfortune of growing up in the 21st century, he doesn't get the experience of running to your local video store and renting out the entire selection of "Friday the 13th" movies.  He has to live in the sad world of getting "The Omen" from Netflix and discovering he accidentally rented the shitty remake.  Can horror even generate a new generation of fans anymore?  It bastardized its own history in the last decade, leaving every classic defiled.  Poor kids.  At least Norman is well-adjusted enough to pretend to be a toothpaste zombie.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Nightmare on Elm Street Series

I woke up today like it was any other day.  I got dressed, I brushed my teeth, I made my bed, and I sat down to enjoy some of the finest Internet made by the world's best chiefs, when suddenly, a knock at the door.  Curious, these days people never knock, they text.  So when I went to see who it was, I was surprised to find a police officer standing before me.  He was six foot-two, dressed in an Americanized version of a Gestapo uniform, but wore no smile.  I could see my own fear reflected back to me from the robotic gleam of his aviator shades.  His question was short and to the point:  "Are you one Blue Highwind, owner of the blog, Planet Blue?"

I could only respond with, "well, this is real life, so I usually go by my human name, but yes."

He was not amused, a creature of this species hates nothing more than cleverness.  "Sir, we see here that it is now October 31st, and you have written nothing at all to celebrate the marketing interests of the Halloween season."  He started to loosen up his neck.

"Uh... Yes, I guess that's true...  Well, I haven't written much of anything this month, and I really don't think-"

"Sir, we don't care what you think.  We only care that you write something about Halloween.  These are things beyond both you and me."  I couldn't reply before he continued.  "Now, sir, you know what will happen if you don't listen to this message.  You know what we can do to you, and you know, there is nothing you can do to stop us.  And you now what you have to do."  There was no emotion to a single word.

I had no idea what kind of "interests" the police officer was referring to, if he was the police at all.  And I had no idea who he was talking about when he said "we".  Perhaps he was some kind of representative of the entirety of American commercialism, some sort of demon of mass marketing.  Or maybe I was hallucinating the entire thing, I never rule out that possibility.   Ultimately I decided that I liked being alive, so I said.  "Okay, thank you, I'll get right on it."  The Man in Black left without a word.

So here we are.  Its time to recap the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

In Time

Did you know that the standard of living in this country has been on a pretty steady nosedive since the early 50s?  You really don't notice it because of all our shiny new doo-dads and snarflats, like Nintendo DSs, blogs, and Japanese porn.  But once upon a time you could have a whole house - with a backyard, a new model car every year, and all the other cliches of the American Dream on a single man's income.  Heck, even with just a high school education you could have plenty of casserole every week.  Then things changed, we needed both the man and woman's income to fulfill all the bullet points of a nuclear family.  Then things got even worse, and well... look around you.  Are you ready to enjoy the fun times when we have a lower standard of living than our parents?  I personally am getting nicely acquainted with large boxes of Maruchan Raman Noodles.  Maybe I'll start "Water-Only Wednesdays", where you don't eat at all and instead subsist entirely on delicious government-issue water.  And you know, you really only need one kidney, right?

"In Time" is the most blatantly shameless SciFi metaphor for class warfare I think I've ever seen in a theatre.  There are a lots of movies that have subtle political messages, and lots of movies with political messages so subtle that they might as well have the Seal of the Republican Party on their cover.  "In Time" somehow manages to get even worse than that, by being needlessly preachy and actually really dull for a SciFi Thriller.  Okay, movie, I get it, the rich people suck, fine, can we move on?  How did Occupy Wall Street make a propaganda film so fast?  Actually scratch that last sentence, if I were the Mysterious Lords of Occupy Wall Street, I'd be pissed about this movie, since it turns their political message into a big silly Robin Hood adventure.  Worse, its a Robin Hood adventure that isn't very fun.

Once upon a time, director Andrew Niccol made "Gattaca", a smart clever SciFi film with a great concept and real heart.  It was a fantastic movie, you need to watch it now.  But since then, he's only made two movies, one of which was "Simone", a movie mostly forgotten because it sucked, and the other being "Lord of War", a movie mostly forgotten because... I have no idea, that movie was pretty good actually.  Anyway, nothing really replicated the underground success of "Gattaca", Niccol must have known that he had thrown away his most creative ideas into a single movie, and now he had to live a sad life running out his clock while his life's artistic climax was behind him.  So what do you do now?  Oh, remake "Gattaca", that's what.  But change the premise from eugentics to a ball of timey wimey wibbly wobbly stuff.  "In Time" really is a pathetic retread "Gattaca", and instead of a second helping of an excellent meal, its just the ten-year-old leftovers of Andrew Niccol's mind that's been sitting in the back of the fridge.  You can't microwave genius back to form, instead you end up with this, nothing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Paranormal Activities

I am happy to announce that the Hell Weeks are officially over!  Yes, I finally have enough free time to sit down for an hour and compose a post.  And that means the blog should be fully back at a regular-ish schedule starting now.  Unfortunately, after two whole weeks of constant homework, essays, and study, I have done absolutely nothing remotely fun in ages.  Yeah, its hard out here for this pimp.  It is seriously downright depressing on a lot of levels.  But I did finally see both "Paranormal Activity" movies recently, so that's going to be the post here.

The original goal was to see the first two "Paranormal Activity" movies and then the third one.  That goal has changed a bit, since I really do not feel like putting eight dollars down to be bored out of my skull for two hours.  Heck, I could just write another lesson plan if that were my goal.  It has been criminally long since I've been to see a movie at theatres, and I'm going to correct that this weekend one way or another.  But "Paranormal Activity 3" is definitely not the movie I want to see, because I like my horror movies to actually have... horror.  These are the tamest goddamn horror films I've ever seen!  Did the entire country get replaced with girls or am I completely insane here?  I guess when "Twilight" is the new standard for vampire films, you wind up with a society of wimps.

Okay, I know "Paranormal Activity" is like the new standard of horror or something.  All the trailers hype it up as some incredible visceral experience where essentially they take a funnel to your ear and pour pure terror into your brain.  Well, I must retort this claim immediately:  its a found-footage movie.  That's not to say that found-footage movies can't be good - at least theoretically there might be a good one made one day - but I haven't seen one yet.  "Paranormal Activity" is barely a step-up from "The Blair Witch Project" in terms of scares.  By that I mean, "Paranormal Activity" was actually scary once.  But really, the problem with these movies is that all their scares are about slow build-ups of growing tension, but the build-ups are so slow that well, they're boring.  Snore fests.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Trailer

"Final Fantasy XIII" has to be the biggest disappointment of a game I've ever experienced.  I waited years, years to play that game, with my hopes bounded by the expectation that it would be a game like "Final Fantasy XII", only with faster action and more cinematic gameplay.  FFXII was an incredible game, my love for it knows no bounds, but its not like the gameplay couldn't be improved, and that's what I wanted.  Turns out I was completely wrong, no RPG on Earth could be less like FFXII.  To beat FFXIII's non-twelveness, you'd have to make a game with the exact purpose of being the total opposite of FFXII (which is what I fear SE actually did).  Worse, the buzz around FFXIII was so bad that I made a tactical decision to abandon it and wait for FFXV*.  The game has nothing to offer to me, even now, and I don't think I'll ever play it.  I've played enough shitty Final Fantasy games in my day:  "Revenant Wings", "Dirge of Cerberus", "Crisis Core", FFVIII, I don't need another one.

But then they made a sequel.  Okay, I guess a lot of people liked FFXIII, god knows why, but they did.  I hear the combat system was decent, people like to imagine Lightning naked, and um... maybe the story was good(?).  I gave up trying to understand FFXIII with the Fallacies and Lucies, so maybe I'm missing something there.  Luckily however, this sequel is totally different from FFXIII!  Which can only be a good thing.  Let's watch the latest trailer, because its the longest by far:


And amazingly, it actually looks decent!  So read on if you dare to see why I'm actually interested this time.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Nightmare Weeks

School assignments are nightmarish at the moment.  So I can't really promise an update of any particular kind for a bit.  But don't fear!  My copy of "Dragon Quest VI" is in the mail.  I got a copy of "Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis".  And I'm seriously considering watching "Ides of March".  So reviews are coming... just not quickly.  At all.  Sorry.

I'm gonna try to do some really quick posts like Sunday's thing to break up the tedium.  So its not like I've abandoned the site.  You can send all complaints to my college.

Also, no matter how bad I get, I'll never reach Spoony One levels of laziness.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Suing Hollywood

Alright, folks, I hope you're sitting down for this one.

A Michigan woman has filed a lawsuit against FilmDistrict, the distributer of the Best Movie of 2011, "Drive", because she thought it would be movie like "Fast and Furious 5".  Its hard to respond to something like that.  I mean, obviously she's a moron.  But her lawsuit is completely ridiculous.  Look at the trailer for "Drive", its one of the most accurate trailers of the entire year.  When did she miss the fact that this trailer had the words "Cannes Film Festival" clearly presented.  A "Fast and Furious" movie would spontaneously combust if it even tried to enter that city.  That's a film festival that gave its highest award, the Palme d'Or to "Tree of Life", that's all you need to know about these guys.  Maybe I could see her point if the trailer was filled with lowest common denominator gansta rap instead of slow mournful opera, but even then, she's an idiot.  I'll basically hate anybody who attacks "Drive" at the moment, and this Michigan woman is really harvesting on the funny farm.  Oh, and then she claims that the movie is antisemitic because a Jewish character used the word "kike".  This is dumber than suing McDonalds because their French Fries made you fat.

Yeah, this woman is barking up the wrong tree, but is she in the wrong forest?  I know there have been plenty of movies out there will false advertising, and I want them to pay!  For my ticket money, of course.  And pain and suffering in some cases.  I've seen some shit movies in my day, movies so bad that I'm basically emotionally scarred.  After "Battlefield Earth", I was blind for three years, and was mute for four.  This Michigan woman should be glad that the false advertising resulted in her seeing a better movie than she expected, you're rarely that lucky in my experience.  I'm lucky if a bad movie doesn't make me cry.  I'm lucky if a bad movie doesn't leave me bleeding anal blood for weeks.  Michigan Lady, you're whining about nothing.  You should be glad you got that much culture as "Drive", clearly you need it.

So I've contacted my lawyer, I.C. Hasenpfepher Esquire, and we're going to be sending out a few lawsuits of our own against certain films of the last few years.  Here's the list of new film lawsuits you'll be seeing in the next few weeks.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Alright, I got a .38 Smith and Wesson Special in my hands right now.  I really don't want to review "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood", but I've gotten a few requests which kinda forces me to write something up for it.  I'm easily manipulated.  So let's clench this .38 in my jaw, bite down, and grin and bear it, because we're going into this sucker.

If you're wondering why I don't want to review "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood", the answer can be found in the fact that I really did not like this show.  And if you're somebody begging me to review this, I'm guessing you really liked the show, meaning as a corollary, you won't like this review.  I'm not enjoying writing it, so now we've created a perfect rip tide of unhappiness.  Friggin' "Fullmetal Alchemist: Bro Version", look how terrible you're making the world.  Somebody should put a stop to you!  By the way, I don't hate "Brotherhood" because I hate "Fullmetal Alchemist", I happen to love the original anime.  Yeah, "Brotherhood" follows the plot of original comics a lot more faithfully, but is that necessarily a good thing?  I haven't read the manga, but its pretty clear to me that the story Studio BONES came up with was a heck of lot compact, coherent, and all around better than the comics.  Its a sad thing.  On its own, "Brotherhood" probably would have been a perfectly serviceable anime, though definitely not a member of my Top 10.  But with "Fullmetal Alchemist 1"'s shadow hanging over it, its just mediocre.

Okay, "Brotherhood" is a lot better than "Bleach", at least.

However, by comparing it to "Bleach", I think I'm onto something.  They're both animes made for kids, though "Fullmetal Alchemist" is significantly more mature (good guys actually can die).  But both "Bleach" and "Brotherhood" have huge bloated stories with giant casts full of superfluous characters (look at the picture here, its a goddamn mess), they both have action climaxes that so complex and long as to last for weeks without any sight of conclusion, and they both have too much goddamn talking!  Its like the authors just drew up a billion characters and threw them all against the wall, without any real appreciation for a character's purpose in the story or even if they add anything at all.  Its "Bleach"-lite.  The original show was something special, every character was a cog that fit right into the grand plot machine, "Brotherhood" is a big pile of rusted gears and parts sprawled across a garage floor.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Drive

Let's start with this:  Best Movie of the Year.  Right here, right now.  Maybe something in the coming months will steal the crown, but for now, Hail to the King.

"Drive" is a movie with a strange kind of history.  It initially began life as a 2005 crime novel by James Sallis (which I and the vast majority of humanity have not read).  Hollywood took the book, and then adapted it into an action movie for Hugh Jackman.  Basically that movie would have been "The Transporter 4" or "The Fast and Furious 9"*, with little more to add into it.  Somehow or another Jackman and the first director gave up on the project, and "Drive" wound up in the hands of Nicholas Winding Refn, the Danish Quentin Taratino.  How many Danish filmmakers can you name?  And since the ultimate project was slower and more artistic, Hugh Jackman's role wound up in the hands of Ryan Gosling.  What then was created was the most 80s movie ever made outside of the actual 80s, a film with serious style, from Gosling's kickass satin jacker all the way up.

This is a such a fun movie, made exactly in the style of so many films I love.  I love crime dramas, especially ones that manage to present their stories with such vibrant beauty as this one.  The casting is shot-on, the action scenes are brutally awesome, and the villains are menacing but still actually pretty hilarious.  If your movie's dialog can both frighten me and make me burst out laughing, you've made a classic.  "Drive" is the best crime movie I've seen since "The Departed".  Its glorious.  Honestly, I have to wonder if any movie this year is going to top this one, it will be a hard battle.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Trigun: Badlands Rumble

YES!  Oh my favorite animes of all time returns!  Its been a good year for anime movies, first we get "Evangelion 2.0" and now we have "Trigun: Badlands Rumble".  And there's a "Bleach" movie coming in November, which I might actually be able to stand long enough to review - unlike the show lately.  Whatever, we're not hear to talk about bad business, its a positive review.

"Trigun" is undeniably one of the greatest animes ever made.  Based off a comic series that might be one of the greatest mangas ever made (but I haven't read it), it was a beautiful mixture of old westerns, SciFi adventures, and random silliness just for good measure.  On the Planet Gunsmoke in some far-off future, there is a master gunslinger named Vash the Stampede, an outlaw with the notorious reputation of destroying everything around him.  Insurance companies actually have classified his rampages as "Acts of God" so as to stay in business.  But actually, the real Vash the Stampede is a wacky idiot who couldn't hurt a fly, he'll never kill anybody and goes out of his way to save lives*.  Oh wait, the wacky idiot is actually a super badass sharpshooter alien hounded by his evil brother and a gang of lunatics with increasingly absurd weapons.  If you thought a gunblade was farfetched, wait until you see a gun-saxophone or giant machine gun crucifix.  But Vash still won't hurt a fly, he's a nonlethal fighter to his core.  What a show, they don't make anime this good anymore.  Everything that's great about it is summed up in its incredible opening theme.

"Badlands Rumble" takes place roughly in the middle of the series, probably before things got super dark.  Vash may be the Humanoid Typhoon, but he still hasn't run into the real monsters of Planet Gunsmoke.  The movie ultimately comes off as just an extended episode of the TV show just like the "Cowboy Bebop" movie**, with a bit of fudging it could probably be made to fit right into a twenty-four minute time frame.  And in that way of making a new side-adventure, "Badlands Rumble" recreates exactly what made "Trigun" such a great show.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Chrono Trigger 2: Crimson Echoes - Part 2

Guess what?  I beat it!  Yay!  So now we can conclude this epic two-part review of "Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes", the only RPG so hot that playing it could potentially make its creators liable for tens of thousands of dollars in copyright damages.

In Part 1 I ultimately decided that the game could not develop an identity of its own distinguishable from the 1995 RPG classic it was romhacked from.  It plays the same, it looks the same.  All the best features of "Crimson Echoes" are not the work of Kajar Labs, but instead Square Enix's original Dream Team.  So as a sequel, it has to suffer in the shadow of "Chrono Trigger 1".mostly because its creators simply lacked the technical skills and possibly the ambition to make an experience that could properly be called its own game.  I'd say "Crimson Echoes" is less a sequel than an expansion pack.  A very long expansion pack with a story the length of a sequel, but an expansion pack still.  You can't really appreciate this game on its own without having played and loved "Chrono Trigger", that much should be clear almost immediately.

The ultimate goal of Kajar Labs was never to make a new game, even though they called this game a "sequel".  They wanted to make an extremely elaborate platform by which to tell the story of what happened between "Trigger" and "Cross".  That's not to say they neglected the gameplay, they did an excellent job creating a full-length RPG full of dungeons and bosses.  But making an original experience was never their aim.  Honestly this comes up in the storyline too, which somewhat of a disjointed adventure because the story constantly has to go out of its way to explain one of "Chrono Cross"'s many mysteries.  If only Misato Kato wasn't in such a pretentious mood when it came to "Cross" then maybe this game could go ahead and be something of its own instead of doing the plot-building work he refused to.  Honestly, Kato doesn't need any help, he needs a kick in the ass.

Well, Kajar Labs still did the best job they ever could, we have to remember that.  But is their best good enough?  We're about to find out.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Lion King 3D

"Chrono Trigger" is a classic, but come on.  This is "The Lion King".  There are some things just considerably more important than a video game, no matter which one.  "The Lion King" is only the first name that comes into your head when you think of the Greatest Animated Movie of All Time*.  We've all seen it a million times, we probably still have a copy of it on VHS in a box someplace in the basement.  You know the lyrics to "Hakuna Matata", you wept before when Mufasa died, and when your kids are born you will lift them up to Providence's divine rays at some point.  This movie defines classic, there can be no doubt about it.

And if for any reason you haven't seen "Lion King" yet.... You better run, because I'll find you.  I'll find you and make you pay what you owe.

I, of course, absolutely love "The Lion King".  I've seen the movie roughly ten thousand and a half times.  I even went to see the Broadway musical, which is an incredible experience.  Actually, the musical is several shades better than the movie, probably the best show you'll ever see in any medium.  It is beyond fantastic, stunning in every sense of the word.  So since "The Lion King" means an immeasurable deal to me and every child of the 90s, when it was released in theatres this month as part of a cheap 3D gimmick to better advertise the BluRay release next month, I had to go see it.  This was not a choice like most movies I see, this was an obligation.  It was a religious pilgrimage, a life-affirming act of the deepest personal and philosophical significance.  Yeah, I went to Israel, land of my forefathers and breadbasket of civilization, earlier this year, but that was just a vacation.  "The Lion King" in theatres - that's what's really important.  That's where true meaning lies.

There's no point in reviewing "The Lion King", because we all know its a perfect movie.  I would do it a disservice to even try to review it.  But I guess I can give an assorted bunch of thoughts and whatever.  So enjoy:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chrono Trigger 2: Crimson Echoes - Part 1

"Chrono Trigger" is one the greatest video games ever made.  If you're looking for an absolutely perfect example of a JRPG, this is it.  The craftsmanship of this game is beyond reproach, perfect pacing, excellent sprite-based graphics that hold up even today sixteen years later, a great simple battle system that can be picked up, played, and understood in minutes.  This is the classic of classics, a fantastic achievement in 2D RPGs, which I do not think will ever be topped.  This is the Concorde Moment of the genre, a masterpiece which has not been topped since.  You can argue that games like "Final Fantasy VI" or "Final Fantasy VII" were actually better games, but they simply do not have the grand vision, the unequivocal balance of tone, difficulty, and story pacing that "Chono Trigger" has.  And "Chrono Trigger" doesn't have random encounters.

"Chrono Trigger" is a magical experience.  I'm not talking out of blind nostalgia here, I only first played this game a few years ago on the DS, when it was able to hold its own against far more advanced games like "Final Fantasy XII".  By the end of "Chrono Trigger", I could not conceive of a single failing, not one.  It was a perfect game, bringing forth its time-travel based storyline with clever originality and style.  There was nothing missing, aside for Schala's plot thread, which honestly is a minor B-plot.  Everything, from the cast to the exploration to the soundtrack was done with the unrepeatable flourish of a master's brush.  Square Enix took a Dream Team of the greatest RPG names in the world at the time, gave them a limitless canvas to work with, and what was created was true art.  A cartridge of "Chrono Trigger" should hang next to the Mona Lisa.  Leonardo Di Vinci never made a sequel to that painting, how can you make a sequel to "Chrono Trigger"?

Square Enix tried with "Chrono Cross", a game I have yet to play.  Its inferiority is too obvious, its story too much of a jumbled mess, its cast a bland sea of underused characters, its battle system complex and confusing compared to the undeniable simple brilliance of "Trigger".  Some day I'm sure I'll have to try it out, but its going to be on the backburner for a long time.  What I have here instead for you is "Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes", the unofficial fan sequel that SQUARE ENIX DOESN'T WANT YOU TO PLAY.

Oh, and this is a huge review, I suspect, so this is only Part 1.  Here we're going to discuss, among other things, the technical details of this game, its controversial history, and whatever else I feel like.  Part 2 will be a more direct qualitative review, where I finally decide if you should play it or not.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

I'm exhausted, been up since six in the morning.  I promised a post, I'm giving a post.  It wasn't easy to find time, but I did.  You're welcome.

If you haven't seen "The Princess Bride" yet, I really don't know what to say about you as a person.  You're incomplete, that's for sure.  But living this long without seeing one of the great pillars of modern comedy film points to me as a more extreme failing, a sign of deep personality disorders.  Perhaps extreme psychopathy.  Whatever it is, if you haven't seen "Princess Bride", you need to go see it now, then cut off a pinky in penitence.

But like most movies, it was not an original creation.  It was actually based on a William Goldman novel, which was in turn based upon a work by the famous Florin author, S. Morgenstern.  He's the most famous Florin author because he's actually the only Florin author.  William Goldman completely made Morgenstern up for the purpose of a bizarre frame story and various jokes.  Some people hold the mistaken belief that there actually is a real S. Morgenstern original, they are extremely wrong.  The idea is that the book I read is some kind of abbreviation of an older book, though even a cursory read would show you that nobody could have made a book as weird as Goldman describes.  However, as for the book, William Goldman made a classic masterpiece of his own.

If you thought the movie was good, "Princess Bride: the Book" was at least ten times better.  Yeah, I did the math, I laughed exactly ten time more reading this thing than I did watching the movie.  And since the book is barely 250 pages, you can basically read it in the exact amount of time it would take to watch the movie.  You can finish this thing during any trip to the beach, airline ride, or night in jail.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bleach Recaps: Ep. 222, Elephantitis

I'm Tite Kubo.  I am the lord successor to Akira Toriyama, and the greatest manga author of my time.  Fuck that, I'm the greatest author of anything ever.  Check out how boss my sunglasses are.  Oh, you're unimpressed with these shades?  Watch me take them off.  See that style.  You wish you had that kind of style.  Here, I'll put them on and take them off again.  Super cool.  What was I talking about again?  Oh yeah, the most interesting subject ever: me.  Yeah, I'm not just stylishly cool, I'm also half-dragon.  Yeah, my mom was a dragon, its cool.  This episode here is based off a chapter I drew for "Bleach".  Because I made it, its the most awesome episode of anything ever.  This episode is especially special for me, because I drew it while two Thai prostitutes were having sex on my coffee table to give me inspiration.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any because they weren't sexy enough.  So I murdered them both and got my publisher to mix their blood into the ink of every copy.  I just want to say, I dedicate this episode to those prostitute, and myself for being so great.  I'm Tite Kubo, and I'm just that awesome.

Fuck that guy.

Anyway, this is a "Bleach" recap.  While Tite Kubo was busy murdering prostitutes, he forgot to actually make this part of the story good.  What happens in Episode 222 is two battles among the fifty-three we have going on at this point.  One of the fights is actually exciting, the other is two big dudes yelling at each other.  The most exciting conflict however was my right hand desperately looking for a beer, which sadly I ran out of.  To fight off the pain, I started drinking shaving cream, which certainly made me semi-conscious, if nothing else.  Then I beat myself over the head with stapler.  When I came to, life was a little bit better.

But then I had a "Bleach" recap to write... Crap.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sin and Punishment 2: Star Successor

THIS.  GAME.  IS.   AWESOME.

I may have never told you guys this before, but I love light gun arcade games.   To this very day, if I got ten minutes to burn and there's an arcade nearby, I'll freely sink a dollar or two into any shooter machine.  Give me a plastic gun, a screen to shoot at, and a bunch of Nazis/aliens/Nazi aliens to blast in the face, and I am in heaven.  Yeah, for some reason FPS games are all the rage these days, but you can take your "Halo 4" and shove it.  The real hardcore shooters are "House of the Dead 2", "Area 51", and "The Ocean Hunter".  Nothing but beautiful memories in those things:  if you're a kid at the Jersey Shore with a buddy, and there's an hour of of zombies or dinosaurs to slaughter, that's paradise.  I am serious when I tell you that I will have sex with any human being on Earth if they give me an old 90s light gun arcade cabinet.  You could even be that mumbling chick from "Twilight", and I'd have sex with you - twice.

But I honestly, I don't want to have sex with that walking corpse people call "Kristin Stewart".  Sadly though, its probably the only way I'll ever get to play those light gun games.  Rail shooters are a dead genre, and arcades are twice as dead.  The world has moved on*.  Luckily, however, there is one console on the market today that has motion-based controls that would be perfect for a light gun shooter game:  the playful little Wii.  There plenty of light gun games on the Wii, its a like a white plastic Renaissance.   We got two "Resident Evil" games, "Dead Space: Extraction", a brand new "House of the Dead", and most importantly, "Sin and Punishment 2", which is so important because its the game I'm reviewing right now.  I know one day I'll have to play the "House of the Dead" stuff (which includes remakes of "House of the Dead 2" and "3" - yay!), but for now I got this incredibly awesome game in front of me.  Oh, "Sin and Punishment" is good.  Not just good, but great.  Not just great, but stopreadingandbuyitnow-fucking-unbelievably-kickass!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bleach Recaps: Ep. 221, In Which Everybody Fights Everybody Else

I'm an alien parasite.  My name is Xxxzious  I live inside Blue Highwind's head.  I was sent to this world to conquer and add its natural resources into our glorious intergalactic empire.  Sadly, I'm about the size of a penny and look the slimy white hard thing you sometimes find a bad Chicken McNugget.  I did try to conquer a litter box in Milwaukee a few years ago.  Let me tell you:  cat pee hurts.  I never was cut out for this "galaxy-conquering" stuff.  I wanted to be a dentist.  Since that time, I managed to sneak inside this college-age kid's head, and now spend my days sitting behind his eyeballs while he watches these fucking terrible shows form Japan.  My tentacles ache by just thinking of these things.  They make no sense!  I once saw a Quarble from Planet X-531 make love to an entire Venusian middle school marching band, and that was a more coherent experience!  So, this is it.  I'm packing my bags, leaving this kid's head, and flying back to the home world.  We don't need Earth.  Bye.

What is deal with Ichigo's recap?  Do we need a recap to start up another recap?  Which ultimately leads to you reading MY recap?  This is insanity!

To describe to "Bleach" three nights ago, I can only use this phrase:  "Holy clusterfuck, Batman!"  Everybody just started fighting everybody else, basically at random.  The Powerpuff Arrancars decided to fight Hitsugaya and that set of tits he calls a lieutenant, Starrk and Lolinette went to fight Shunsui and Captain Tuberculosis, and Barragan managed to pull two more Arrancars out his ass to fight Soy Phone and her idiot.  So I guess that's like twenty-nine episodes worth of fighting to do, along with all the battles that are happening in Heuco Mundo right now.  Oh, and remember that the Visoreds are on their way, the Big Bad Trio are trapped in a fireball, and then there are all the characters that Tite Kubo simply forgot about.  And finally, Ichigo has to save the day somehow.  We're going to be here for a very long long long time.  Better get comfortable, its "Bleach" time.