Monday, February 27, 2012

Academy Awards 2012 Post-Game Show

So as usual, the news reports are calling last night's show to "the worst show ever", there have been a few comparisons to a funeral, and Billy Crystal was roasted by the critics.  The negative reception was as much a surprise as "The Artist" winning Best Picture.  A lot of people complain about Final Fantasy fans are always negative about every new release and we all have on idea what we want, but professional Academy critics are at least as bad, if not worse.  Suddenly drunken James Franco looks good?  What?  Billy Crystal was a heck of a better host than Hathaway-Franco, and they were better than Adam Baldwin-Steven Martin.  So I'd say its a plus.

Yeah, the show got boring around 10:45, but when has it not run out of steam in the third hour?  Yeah, more of the schtick blew up on the runway than took off, but that's to be expected with Oscars these days.  The frontrunner won, there wasn't going to be any last minute wins by "Crash" this year, and you could easily be disappointed by that.  If you have a grudge on "The Artist", everything you've been saying about the Academy Awards being a decadent meaningless celebration for old people will be proven true.  Honestly, if you think that, why are you watching in the first place?  "The Artist" is probably a damn good movie, even if its not something I particularly want to see* (but its looking like I have to now, but more importantly, its a really unconventional movie and that's what the Academy was going for this year:  something different.  Oh, but somebody is going to find a way to complain anyway, bully to them.  And there were still some great moments, a few good rifts from Billy Crystal, and Mila Kunis looking fine.  I see no reason for the Oscars to reinvent themselves.

Now, since I do this every year, I'll just recap the Oscars quickly for anybody who might have missed the best parts.  I would have live-blogged this, but I was kinda busy... you know, watching the show.  Who needs to have their face deep in a laptop tweeting or whatever it is Internet people do these days when Best Actress is going up?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Academy Awards 2012 Pre-Game Show: Best Picture Nominees

Its that time again!  Holy Oscar Sunday is only hours away, and of course, I'm as excited as always.  This is my third Academy Awards special for this blog, and I'm shooting for a fourth next year.

Now, I'm not going to be one of those super cynical guys who will claim that the Oscars are totally meaningless and only exacerbate negative trends within the corrupt Hollywood system.  I know every single movie pundit out there has their favorite "worst oscars ever", and loves to pick and yell about that one great injustice that the Oscars brought upon the world.  Maybe it was "King's Speech" beating "Social Network", or "Crash" beating "Gay Cowboys Eating Pudding"*, or even "How Green Was My Valley" beating "Citizen Kane", its endless.  And on Monday, I'm sure ten million critics will call this the most boring show yet, hate on Billy Crystal as being a terrible host, and rant and rave and bitch for no good reason.  All that negativity doesn't do anybody any good.  I'm just here to enjoy the show, find some jokes to make, and in this post, break down all the Best Picture Nominees to see who should win.

Now, I promised, I wasn't going to be negative, but I will admit this:  2012's show has easily the weakest field of Best Picture nominees since the 2009 Awards, that year when the Oscars snubbed both "The Dark Knight" and "WALL-E".  This year they notably have only nine movies as compared to the usual ten, and unlike last year when the Best Picture group had Westerns, Action, Animation, Horror, and the usual Oscar Bait Dramas, this year's group is basically all Oscar Bait Drama and "Hugo".  Somehow the Academy thought that only nine movies would be enough - which just exacerbates the extreme injustice in not nominating "Drive".  "Drive, one of the most creative and amazing movies of 2011, is nominated for exactly one award, Best Sound Editing, right next to "Transformers 3".  So I'm unhappy about that.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Eureka Seven Sequel Trailer


"Eureka Seven", one of my favorite anime TV shows of all time, is getting a sequel.  And I'm really happy about that.  Its called "Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean" or "AO" for short.  Here's a trailer for you lovelies:

So, unlike "Eureka Seven: Pocket Full of Rainbows" or whatever that godawful cheap cash-in of a movie was called, "Eureka Seven: AO" is using whole new animation with whole new characters to make a whole new story.  Its set in the near-future in Okinawa, where a kid that looks exactly like Renton Thurston meets the Nirvash and apparently goes on giant robot adventures.  So even though its a "sequel", its set well before the events of "Eureka Seven: Original Flavor" which was set in the deep future when Earth doesn't even look like Earth anymore.  I'm not sure how that works.  The kid, whose name is also "Ao", has teal hair in the manga, making him look like Eureka and Renton's child.  But in the anime, its brown.  I don't understand how that works.

"Eureka Seven: AO" is airing in Japan in April, so I'll be watching that as soon as it gets subbed and posted on the Internet.  Then we'll find out if Studio BONES can make lightning strike twice with this show.  I have my doubts, but I'm still stupidly excited.  See you then!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Oscar Double Feature: Midnight in Paris and Moneyball

So Holy Oscar Sunday is coming up, and it turns out that of the movies nominated for Best Picture, I've only seen three:  "Hugo", "The Tree of Stupid", and "War Horse".  (Also I saw bits and pieces of "The Help, but who is counting?)  So, that means I need to fill up immediately on all the other Oscar Movies I haven't seen, particularly the ones I find interesting.  "The Artist" may be destined to win this Holy Sunday, but I'm not interested in it*.  "The Descendants" is way too depressing, life is depressing enough, you know?  So instead I took the two movies I thought could possibly be decent and well they were.

The problem is, that even though I liked both of these movies, I didn't love either of them.  Honestly, I thought they both were going to be rather light comedies, but unfortunately neither turned out to be particularly funny.  The best part is that both movies are perfectly fine on their own, they're not entirely shameless Oscar Bait movies like many films on the Best Picture list.  "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" comes to mind.  No, these were movies that were made by people who just wanted to make good movies, not win awards.  So for that, they were respectable efforts, both have interesting creative plotlines, and are worth seeing.  I wouldn't be unhappy to see either win Best Picture,  but its pretty much guaranteed that "The Artist" has that one wrapped up, so too bad.

Still, if you must watch any Oscar Nom'd movie, see "Hugo".  That's not to hate on either of the movies I'm currently reviewing, but "Hugo" was just considerably more fun than either of these.  I have to say, they were both better movies than "War Horse", if only because they were both more original and less emotionally forced.  But yeah, these movies should have been more fun, that's they're biggest problem.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rick Santorum: The Most Dangerous Man in America

Remember when I used to write political posts?  I don't either.  But on the site banner, there's a claim that there are "politics, reviews, and nonsense".  The second two are definitely here, but as for "politics", unless its the politics of Oscar Picks, I seem to have forgotten that.  Anyway, here's just a quick post for you people.

The currently most despicable man running for President today is Newt Gingrich.  This is a well-established fact.  However, the most dangerous man running for President is Rick Santorum.  Its been widely reported that on Friday, Santorum publicly called President Obama out for making laws based upon a "phony theology*, not a theology based on the Bible."  Now, I can immediately feel the gulf between what has become two Americas.  Now, automatically, I am not the kind of person who thinks what Santorum describing is a bad thing.  In fact, I have to wonder why anybody would want a political leader to base his or her decisions on the Bible.  Base your world view on realpolitik or universal moral values or the Constitution or heck, even the Communist Manifesto, anything but the Bible.  Where is this coming from?  Now suddenly its completely fair to criticize a president for not viewing the Bible as his political roadmap?  Where is Santorum coming from?  Who is this guy?  What country is this guy representing?

Rick Santorum is a seriously dangerous person, probably one of the most dangerous men in America right now.  Lately he's been riding high in his ability to offer an honest political platform to Republicans sick of the two-faced Romney and the Machiavellian Gingrich.  Santorum's platform has currently evolved to a full-fledged assault on sexual liberation.  The guy has mentioned that he opposes contraceptive use even for married couples.  Is Santorum secretly a Saudi cleric?  People call Obama a radical Muslim, but the irony is that its none other than folks like Santorum who really wouldn't have much problem with Osama bin Laden's platform, other than the fact that Osama is using the wrong book to preach for it.  Santorum implies that President Obama is a not a Christian, while ironically nothing he does or believes is in any way based upon the teachings of Christ.  He's an all-around nightmare.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Secret World of Arrietty (UK Dub)

As most readers to this site know, I usually review movies weeks after they are released in theatres.  Which means that my advise is usually useless because even if I convinced you to see the movie, its already probably too late.  Anywho, I'm going to justify my lack of professionalism by saying this:  I don't get paid.  If somebody were to wire me twenty dollars every week to review new movies on the day they come out, I would do it.  Instead you pay me in love.   Which is fine, but most theatre chains don't accept love as money, sadly - even on Valentine's Day.

But this time, I'm actually review a movie on time... even if it isn't the exact movie that's coming out tomorrow.  You see, "The Secret World of Arrietty" or "The Borrower Arrietty" if you're in Japan or just "Arrietty" if you're in Britain, is the newest Studio Ghibli movie directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi (who was the animation director for the utterly gorgeous "Tales from Earthsea") and was written by the Mikado himself, Hayao Miyazaki.  This movie has three titles, and three different dubs:  the original Japanese from 2010, Disney's American dub that's coming out tomorrow, and a British dub that came out last year.  Now, usually I would wait and go see this movie tomorrow, but the British dub does feature one little actor named MARK STRONG.  Am I going to see the version of "Arrietty" that doesn't have Mark Strong?  Hell no.  I'm seeing the version with Mark Strong.

As for "Arrietty" as a movie, its a solid Ghibli movie.  Its definitely a lot more low-key and less ambitious than other Ghibli movies of the past like "Spirited Away" and "Howl's Moving Castle", but "Arrietty" retains that classic Ghibli charm.  As far as Ghibli movies go, this is fairly mediocre, but that's like saying this is one of the dimmer stars in heaven.  Its still beautiful, it still gives warmth, its still worth seeing, and its still a Hell of a lot better than a mediocre American animated movie.  Remember, you could be watching "Madagascar 3".

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I genuinely loved the fucked out of "Chronicle".  When I first saw the trailers for this movie I had no idea what I was in for, it either was the latest gimmicky "found footage" movie, or a seriously cool concept about teenagers using the Force to screw around with people.  It was one of the most intriguing trailers I've ever seen, something I immediately had to bookmark away for future posting.  And boy am I glad I did, because this movie kicks ass.

A few years ago, there was a plan to remake the anime classic "Akira" as a live action American film.  Immediately all true anime fans freaked out, claiming that this would bastardize the original movie and ruin everything it stood for.  And like so many Hollywood projects, it collapsed under its own weight and never amounted to anything but a pile of discarded scripts and lost dreams.  This caused much rejoicing in anime circles, but I was not among of them.  First of all, I'd rather not be the kind of person who wishes for less movies to be made, if somebody wants to make a movie they should be allowed to express themselves that way.  Heck, good or bad, my review gets written anyway and you readers win either way.  Honestly, "Akira" could have been really awesome in live action - especially the final transformation sequence which is still the most disturbing and awesome scene in anime history.  I bring up "Akira" because "Chronicle" is basically that - the Western adaptation of that story.  And let me tell you, every person who complain about an American "Akira" was dead wrong.

If you're willing to forgive some gushing, I really loved this movie.  It was fun, the character arcs were deep, the action was great, and beat of all, the concept is both unique and executed brilliantly.  Best of all, its well shot - I'll explain how a found-footage movie could be well-shot in a moment.  "Chronicle" is the best found-footage movie I've ever seen, by far.  Remember I hate found-footage movies, so that might be damning with faint praise.  So let's give some hard praise, continue reading:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Beyond the Black Rainbow Trailer

The trailer I am about to show you is a movie called "Beyond the Black Rainbow".  It is a movie directed by Panos Cosmatos, who is either the metaphysical villain of a Phillip K. Dick novel or the maker of the most wonderfully weird trailer you'll ever see:

"Beyond the Black Rainbow" is a deliberate call back to early Eighties SciFi horror.  This is the kind of movie you'd see David Cronenburg, John Carpenter, or Stanley Kubrick direct.  And every detail is perfect:  the music, the haircuts, even the grain on the film stock.  I thought this really was an Eighties movie until I saw the release date.  This is the Eighties come alive to make a trailer with an amazing disturbing atmosphere.  The disconnect between modern fashions and early Eighties just makes the madness even more profound.  "Beyond the Black Rainbow" looks exactly like the kind of weird movie you'd find playing on a movie channel at two o'clock in the morning all alone.  If you love movies like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Altered States", this will be your movie I suspect.

Can't wait until it gets released somehow. I still don't know when or if its coming to theatres. But when it comes out, I'll be the first one in line to see it.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 - Part 2

Shockingly, I beat "Final Fantasy XIII-2" already.  Turns out the game was actually roughly thirty hours, which is pretty short for an RPG, but honestly, a great thing.  Because this game was getting very close to wearing out its welcome, I finished it at exactly the right time.

Last post I asked the question of whether I would recommend "Final Fantasy XIII-2" to a human.  Now to spoil anybody who is still wondering about what my answer is, I'll resolve it right now.  "Final Fantasy XIII-2" fixed a lot of the problems of its predecessors, and ultimately ends as a serviceable RPG.  It never becomes a great RPG, but its playable, the gameplay has some good moments (mainly against bosses), and building the perfect party of monsters can be surprisingly fun.  There are a few decent sidequests, so there is joy to be had here.  I loved the soundtrack.  But even with all that, I can't recommend this to a human.  I'm not sure what kind of creature I would recommend this game to, but definitely not one of my species.

I'm going to return to the case of "Metroid Other M", a game whose gameplay I loved, but whose storyline I completely detested.  The analogy is not perfect, because I have all kinds of problems with "Final Fantasy XIII-2"'s gameplay, but it still stands.  Because the storyline of "Final Fantasy XIII-2" is arguably a new low for Square Enix.  I have never played a game with a more unsatisfying storyline.  This is the kind of game that once you are finished, you will be furious for years.  And I guess that's Square Enix's plan.  To make you so angry over the ending that you'll buy the next game or the DLC episodes just to see what will happen.  Well, here's my answer to that:  SCREW YOU.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Final Fantasy XIII-2 - Part 1

Obviously there is going to be a lot that needs to be said for "Final Fantasy XIII-2".  Final Fantasy, as a series, is sick.  Pretty much any player will agree that the Final Fantasy brand does not have nearly the same level of affection and strength that it once had.  Years ago Final Fantasy fans were divided pleasantly over silly issues like "Final Fantasy VI" vs "Final Fantasy VII" and honestly thought "Final Fantasy X-2" was as ridiculous as things would ever get.  "Final Fantasy XIII" brought us a whole new level of anger, betrayal, and mistrust, which contrasted nicely with new fans who did not mind that the game they were playing was definitely not a Final Fantasy game.  But if "Final Fantasy XIII" was merely divisive, "Final Fantasy XIV" was the real blow that turned this series into the laughingstock of the gaming world.  (And let's ignore "Dissidia", because I don't want to cry during this review.)

Personally this series, for me, has been in a pretty crappy downward spiral ever since its loftiest heights, "Final Fantasy XII", arguably the best game SE has ever made.  I didn't play "Final Fantasy XIII", I steadfastly refused to take part in what I could see clearly was absolutely the wrong direction for JRPGs to take.  I explained why I didn't want to be apart of the "Final Fantasy XIII" experience years ago - back then I was convinced that "Final Fantasy XIII" was not a rushed inferior product, and still am.  I am never going to play "Final Fantasy XIII", it will never happen.  And I was definitely not the only one left behind by "Final Fantasy XIII"'s decisions.  The first "Final Fantasy XIII" will probably be debated for years as to its merit or failures, but I'm going to look back upon this era of gaming as a truly sorry chapter in Final Fantasy history.  Of course, that's assuming this series even has a future - or a future that's appealing to me, something that I am beginning to doubt.

"Final Fantasy XIII-2", clearly, is the apology to me and many other people who were turned off by "Final Fantasy XIII-1"'s faults, mainly linearity.  Of course, "Final Fantasy XIII-2" has also gone ahead and made all kinds of new mistakes, but we'll get into that later.  Having played roughly the first quarter of the game, I can say its been a more pleasant experience than I feared, its about as good of a game as I wanted.  There have been some good surprises here, I don't outright hate this game.  But would I recommend it to other humans?  I'm not so sure.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Resonance of Fate - Part 2

I'm now up to Chapter 10 in "Resonance of Fate", and its far from guaranteed that I'll see Chapter 11.  Basically what happened was that after I wrote the Part 1 to this review, I was hit over the head by a piano full of inspiration.  Suddenly I had completely mastered all the tricks to "Resonance of Fate" and was a super kung-fu gunslinging master.  I breezed through the next four Chapters, even finishing a whole Chapter in a day.  Then I was hit by Chapter 10.  The mission has no boss, no dungeon, and almost no combat.  Its a side mission that crushed me, one against these giant construction worker enemies that cannot be killed except by pure luck.

So I'm going to take a long break on "Resonance of Fate".  There are a million games I have to play coming up, most notably being Square Enix's newest adventure in trying to recapture their past glory, "Final Fantasy XIII-2".  Honestly, I don't want to play a game that hates me this much.  "Resonance of Fate" so far has just been intense challenge, its been hard-core.  So I thought.  However, after losing to the twentieth time against a Piledriver Giant, I had to throw my hands up and surrender to the hate.  This game hates me.  The people who made it hate me.  There is nothing but pure hatred coming out of this machine.  No wonder why there are only two Gamefaqs walkthroughs!  Only two people ever beat it!  The difficulty in some of these encounters is simply monstrously bad.  Worse, after an addictive long play period, I wound up getting the worst migraine of my life.  So "Resonance of Fate" is actually causing physical damage to me, that's a sign I need a break.

Here's the problem:  "Resonance of Fate" is an amazing game.  I mean, there are some serious niggling faults (one of which being the refusal of this game to let me win), and a few major gameplay problems, but otherwise it is really a lot of fun.  The story opens up beautifully and the tactical combat is really awesome.  I won't give up on this title until I've fought through all its madness and come out the other side victorious.  But still, migraines are my limit.