Sunday, November 23, 2008

Video Game Movie Review: Postal

Anyone who said that this movie was funny is either a liar or someone who saw a different film and got confused. This film is extremely far from funny. In fact, it can barely be considered a film. Uwe Boll has mistaken offensive content for humor, so tried to pile as much offensive content into this motion picture as possible.

I'm not one who get offended easily. In fact, many may say I have a sick sense of humor. However, despite this, Postal was utterly unenjoyable and completely terrible. Although it's supposed to have a somewhat coherent story, it actually feels more like a sketch comedy show. There are many random scenes that would ordinarily hit the cutting room floor due to their peripheral involvement to the actual story, but they are supposed to be funny, so they remain in this horrid mess. For example, the beginning is the completely random (but oft hated) scene where the pilots on the ill fated flight that crashed in the world trade center are arguing about how many virgins they will receive in heaven in reward for their unspeakably evil act.

If you expect me to be outraged by that, I'm not. Maybe I'm callous or perhaps it stems from me being fortunate enough not to know anyone hurt in the attack. I think humor is an appropriate coping mechanism for people to deal with the terrible atrocities that happen our world. Obviously, you don't want to crack jokes too soon out of respect for the grieving, but I'm of the opinion that it's been long enough that it's acceptable fodder for comedic material. However, I didn't find this the least bit funny. It was just people arguing about the numerical value of virgins that they'd receive for like 10 minutes. Perhaps it could have made a good 30 second joke for a stand up comedian, but in Postal, it was long, drawn out and just plain boring.

Long, drawn out and just plain boring could be used to describe the rest of the film. Unfortunately, that was one of the better written jokes in the movie. The rest could barely be considered jokes. Most of the film was just the tasteless things that Postal is known for. One of the funniest things in the film (but still wasn't funny) was one of those aforementioned random sketch things where the Postal Dude goes into a job interview, and they are cruel to him. Unfortunately, that joke was done and much much better by Monty Python many years before. Otherwise, it's mostly tasteless supposedly shocking stuff that is supposed to be amusing.

In another one of the more bearable scenes, Uwe Boll shows up wearing lederhosen and talking about how he finances his movies with Nazi gold when Vince Desi, CEO of Running With Scissors (the company that makes the Postal Games), reveals that he was in the Krotchy (a popular phallic toy used as a plot device in the movie) suit and tackles Uwe screaming about how he was ruining the Postal movie. Perhaps Vince didn't realize how terrible the movie was going to end up, so that ended up being more humorous than perhaps intended.

I felt particularly bad for Dave Foley because he was in this film. He's a funny guy, but he couldn't do anything with the terrible material he was working with. Zach Ward was actually the star, but his career has been going downhill since A Christmas Story, so it's not shocking he ended up in this stinker. Plus, Zach Ward was in Bloodrayne 2, so he knew what he was getting himself into.

One would think given how unintentionally funny Uwe's previous movies were, he could make something even funnier if he tried, but he failed miserably. It was a somber, mirthless evening when my friends and I watched this film. I guess that goes to show that other genres can become comedies when they are done poorly, but a bad comedy is just terrible. Having seen all of Uwe's video game adaptations to date (and Seed as well), this is by far the worst.

Production Values: 5.0 – It seems like money was actually spent on this film. It was wasted, but it didn't look like it was done with no money.

Story: 9.5 – There is very little of a consistent story. Perhaps that's because Uwe can't craft one since this is the first of his video game movies he's written himself. He also wrote Seed, as I described in my previous post was terrible but not nearly as bad.

Action: 7.0 – There’s some gunfights, but since you hate every character with the fury of a thousand suns, it's difficult to enjoy it.

Faithfulness to the video game source: 4.0 – I think this was somewhat accurate to the brand of "humor" that the Postal games have. They never struck me as particularly funny. Two turds have been awarded for the stupid, random sketches that had nothing to do with the plot. The other two are because it didn't have Gary Coleman in it, who is featured prominently in the Postal games. They had Vern Troyer, but I'm sick of him.

Laughs: 10.0 – (Less turds means funnier) I don't think I cracked a smile during the film nor did my friends watching it with me.

Total Turds: 9.5 – Uwe's worst, which makes it the worst video game adaptation movie ever. Nothing else seems to be in the same league as this. Hell, Super Mario Bros. looks like Oscar material compared to this pile of excrement. The only reason I didn't give this 10 turds is because I want to reserve that number should Uwe make a worse film.

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Non-Video Game Movie Review: Uwe Boll's Seed

I promised to review Uwe Boll's non-video game offerings, and here is my first! Eventually, I'll get around to reviewing his earlier offerings, but here are my thoughts on his most recent non-video game offering.

Seed was such a waste of time that I’m not sure I want to waste your time reading about how terrible it was. So, if you aren’t dying of boredom, know that it was terrible and you should avoid it at all costs. If you have absolutely nothing better to do (and might I suggest randomly following a bunch of links on Wikipedia? It’s a great way to kill time. If you are having trouble, I’ll start you out. Here’s a link about the Platypus. It’s a fascinating animal. Click the link! You won’t be disappointed. Platypii aren’t for you? Well, are you familiar with the Sonic Hedgehog protein? No? Well follow this link.)

Geez. You really are determined to find out more about Seed. Well, Seed was written, directed and produced by Uwe Boll. Although my standards were low, I was really amazed at how crappy this film was. I’ve seen probably hundreds of slasher films, and this is one of the worst. (However, it is better than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, which is probably the worst film I’ve ever seen. That at least is somewhat humorous.) The film is about a serial killer named Sam Seed, who is ridiculously good at not getting caught since he was able to kill over 666 victims. According to wikipedia's link on serial killers, the most proven victims is 218, so 666 seems really far fetched. There are some killers with a possible victim count of around 600, but they all lived a long time ago before we made advances in criminal investigations.

Unlike many of his films, it actually is somewhat coherent. It’s confused, muddled and downright bad, but there is a narrative arc. As well, it seems like he was making an attempt to raise a moral dilemma, but the execution was so poor that it’s hard to draw any sort of meaning from this crapfest. Basically the story follows a police officer who captures Seed, and then is faced with a “terrible choice” of whether to follow the rules or bend them to make sure Seed gets what he deserves. Apparently the prison's electric chair is faulty, and when they try to execute Seed, it doesn't kill him. Wherever they live has a crazy law that if you survive three electrocution attempts, you are allowed to go free. So the police officer is faced with the intense moral dilemma of burying him alive or risking a third attempt on the chair after the first two. Unfortunately, this premise is terribly flawed. They already told everyone he was dead after the second attempt, so they are already breaking the rules by lying. One would think that initial choice would have liberated them to kill him as they saw fit, but for some dumb reason they feel bound that they have to either declare him dead, or give him round 3 with the chair. They could have injected him with poison, strangled him, shot him, smothered him, or any other method to extinguish the small flame of human life remaining in his battered body. The cop made the choice to bury him alive, and of course Seed escapes and starts to kill everyone and tries to get revenge on the cop.

Now, although that sounds extraordinarily generic and rather stupid, Boll tries really hard to make this film “art”. There are dream sequences and flashbacks, all poorly executed, so they confuse rather than enlighten. As well, it seems that he was trying copy Lars von Trier's unique style of camera work. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the talent or vision to pull it out. Instead, it feels like the cameraman is zooming in and out like he has a nervous twitch had their finger on the zoom buttons on a home camcorder. In fact, maybe the entire film was filmed on camcorders because the camera movement was rough and distracting. Maybe Uwe didn’t want to pay for a steadicam and someone who can operate one?

The editing was terrible. I don’t really envy the editor because if it were me, I would have cut it down to probably 15 minutes maximum. Every scene is drawn out and boring. While this can sometimes be effective in horror like Takashi Miike’s fantastic Audition, it was painful here. Miike deliberately made the movie slow in order to build up to the ending. Boll doesn’t have enough mastery of the art form to do anything like that. Shots are always awkwardly long or short. Normally editing doesn't stand out because when done right, it's not intrusive. As well, I was under the impression that it's not too difficult to do average editing, but it was exceptionally poor. Perhaps again this was Uwe's attempt to do something artsy, but it failed due to lack of talent.

Surprisingly, the end isn’t your typical Hollywood ending, but it is stupid and poorly written similar to the rest of the film. The amazing part is I actually do have something nice to say. Child actress, Jodelle Ferland, was quite good. She was the little girl in Silent Hill, Tideland, and unfortunately Bloodrayne 2: Deliverance. It’s sad she really didn’t get a chance to shine because her scenes were all bogged down with sloppy editing, directing and writing.

I've wasted enough words on this terrible film. So, lemme skip right to the ratings.

Production Values: 7.0 – The film reeks of low budget. The poor camera work might have been attributed to not being able to afford a steadicam or a steadicam operator. The gratuitous gore was pretty poorly done.

Story: 6.5 – Far from good, but a bit better than your typical Uwe fare.

Action: 8.5 – There was little. Uwe seemed to be going for a dramatic thriller, but he failed miserably.

Laughs: 9.0 – There was nothing particularly funny about it. The only way I was able to laugh was when I was thinking about how misguided Uwe was when trying to create this film.

Total Turds: 7.0 – As I started off this article, Seed is a huge waste of time. I figured it might be a mistake to watch it, but I figured I'd take one for the team. Avoid this one unless someone has a gun to your head.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Random Rant of the Day: If You Can Get a Gender Change, Why Can’t I Get an Ethnicity Change?

*Disclaimer!* This really has nothing to do with games, but I thought this rant would be interesting to some people. As well, these are my opinions and my opinion only. They in no way represent the opinion of anyone else living or dead, real or fictional.

So, working in the game industry, you sometimes run into people who have had their sex changed. Dani Berry, the creator of M.U.L.E., a cult favourite of many old school gamers, who unfortunately died before his (her?) time, had sex reassignment surgery. (Interestingly, she (he?) wrote a recommendation to people interested in getting a sex change to NOT do it.) Now, one might argue that sex is determined at birth. People with genetic problems aside, men and women come in all shapes and sizes, but the thing that separates them at the earliest level is whether he has an X and a Y chromosome or she has two X chromosomes. Sexual organs are formed based on the genetic makeup of the original cell. Regardless of your opinions on how to define someone’s sexuality, presently, there is no way for someone to change their genetic makeup although I think in the future it could be possible. (I only mention this so I can claim I’m a futurist. Apparently to be a futurist, all you have to do is speculate about the future.) Now, many people feel that sexuality is determined by what you feel like you are not by your genetic makeup or whether your sexual organs were something you were born with.

Now, I like the idea that you are free to change something about yourself that doesn’t really “fit” with your personality or identity or however you want to qualify it. My real question is why doesn’t this apply to other things? I want to get my ethnicity changed! Now, perhaps you think that’s silly, but I don’t think you’re in a position to judge because you’ve never been a British person trapped in an American body!

Now, I’m sure you are asking, “How does he know that he’s a British person trapped in an American person’s body?” or perhaps, “You’re stupid! That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!” Oh yeah, Mr. (or Mrs.) Smartypants? That second thing wasn’t even a question!!! So maybe you should stop judging and start listening to my tale of woe.

I haven’t always known that I’m a British person trapped in an American body. I had a fairly normal childhood. Some things that stood out were my fascination with knights, castles and the feudal period of England. Some of my favorite toys were Britains! (Britians are a line of toy soldiers) Coincidence? Perhaps. I did reports for school on castles and medieval weaponry. I can’t remember any other students doing that.

I’ve felt confused, misunderstood and depressed for a large portion of my life. Some of the things in which I’ve been able to find solace are the music of the Beatles and the Bee Gees as well as the comedy stylings of Monty Python. Now, you may argue that that everyone likes the Beatles, the Bee Gees and Monty Python. To that I respond, “Patience, mate!” (You see what I did there? British people say mate! Well, so do people in Australian, New Zealand and South Africa, but I’m totally British. There’s no doubt in my mind.)

My whole life was turned upside down when I returned for the first time to my motherland, England. Everything finally made sense! The feelings of confusion melted away in the cold London fog! I finally felt like I fit in! As well, I discovered the wonders of the BBC. I was hanging out in the lounge of the London Hotel, basking in the pleasantry of being in Great Britain when I noticed something on the television! It was quite possibly the greatest thing I had ever seen! I wasn’t sure what it was, but I knew it was fantastic. I was desperately trying to focus every ounce of my concentration to hear the magical words that came out of that small tinny speaker as loud obnoxious American tourists prattled on and on with their typical lack of courtesy. I later realized by the fact that the well dressed protagonist was riding in a flying police box that I was watching the legendary Doctor Who.

It was so amazing that I quickly became so addicted to it that I watched all four seasons with explosive rapidity back in the states after I finished crunching. I became so hard up for Doctor Who that I watched Torchwood, which is like the X-Files with more sex and even the Sarah Jane Chronicles, which is like the tween version of Doctor Who. (When I first heard tween, I had assumed that it was a portmanteau of twenty and teen, so I assumed it was meant people in their late teens and early twenties. Apparently, it’s a portmanteau of between and teen, so I was incorrect. Maybe British people don’t use that slang and that’s why I was unaware of it. Also, I’m totally British because I use big words like portmanteau) The Sarah Jane Chronicles is on CBBC for Pete’s sake! How embarrassing is it that I’m watching CBBC? (For those of you who aren’t British, CBBC is short for Children’s BBC and BBC is short for British Broadcasting Corporation)

Now, I SUPPOSE one might argue that I’m not British just because I’m so addicted to Doctor Who that I think heroin is going to be easier to give up. Well, if you were British, you’d know that Doctor Who is an important part of British Culture. He’s an ICON of England! He's quintessentially British! Besides, it doesn’t just end there! Right now, I almost exclusively listen to British IDM. I end up importing records from England quite frequently because the good stuff isn’t available here. I listen to the quality BBC Radio programs over the internet! I absolutely love fish and chips! (What you stupid Americans call french fries [or even stupider Americans call freedom fries] are actually chips) I played rugby in college! How many Americans do you know that play rugby? I don’t care at all for American Football. (Real football is what our friends across the pond call Soccer) I had terribly crooked teeth before I foolishly got braces! I own a red coat! Hell, red is my favourite colour! You can deny it all you want, but it’s obvious that I’m a British person trapped in an America body.

Anyway, it is my understanding that people who get their genders changed are legally recognized as the other gender (and someone can correct me if I’m wrong). So, why can’t I change my ethnicity? Now, someone daffy Americans might argue, “Why don’t you move to England and become a British citizen?” That wouldn’t make me ethnically British. That would just make my nationality British. I want to be of British descent, not some mixture of a bunch of boring races simmered in the melting pot of America for several generations! Wherever I go, I want to still be British regardless of my citizenship! It is my dream to be knighted! All of these require being born in the greatest of all nations, Great Britain.

So, my question is, if people can change their gender, how do I legally change my ethnicity? I’m not picky. I’m fine being a British person born in America, although it’d be ideal if I could get England to issue me a birth certificate showing that I was born to a long line of fine English folk. Perhaps I could be from Cornwall? It sounds like a nice place. Anyway, I think it’s an injustice that I have to continue being a British person trapped in an American body when women trapped in men’s bodies have no problems changing their gender! Hell, men trapped in women’s bodies can even keep their sex organs and still be recognized as a man! There should be no problem for me to become of British ancestry! I don’t even need any surgery or hormones! If anyone has any ideas on how I can change my ethnicity to match my identity, please leave a message.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Video Game Movie Review: Hitman

The first thing to note about Hitman is that it is not directed, produced or written by Uwe Boll. So, it’s not a low budget poorly executed pile of crap. That doesn’t mean it’s good, and Hitman is far from good. In fact, I might even go as far to say it’s bad. It’s really hard to say what the movie is about because it has a very small amount of plot. Now, I would say that it is difficult to make a good film about a hitman, but the Bourne movies were good, so one might expect Hitman to be decent. One would be wrong though.

Hitman begins with shots of "The Organization" raising kids with barcodes on their heads and presumably training them to be killers. Agent 47, the protagonist, is introduced. He is a snappy dresser and a mass murder. In the beginning of the movie, they actually tried to give him a little bit of character. Some woman was trying to hit on him in a bar, and she asked him his name. He got awkward and scared and ran away. They didn’t really follow up with any sort of characterization until later in the movie where he again was scared of a woman. I thought that was an interesting idea – an action hero who is intimidated by women because all he knows is killing. Unfortunately, that was about the only thing that was interesting in the film.

Besides these small glimpses into character, everything about the movie was completely cliché. Agent 47 is an amoral hitman who apparently isn’t burdened with a conscience or any sort of personality. He only does anything slightly resembling the right thing because he was framed. There was another really clichéd character, the prostitute with a heart of gold. Well, at least I assumed she had a heart of gold, but she didn’t really do anything good. There might have been something about how she was driven into prostitution because of something bad that made her a sympathetic character. I don’t remember what it was though.

Obviously they weren’t trying to make Schindler’s List, so you are probably waiting for me to stop complaining about the terrible plot and start commenting on the action. Well, the action wasn’t bad, but nothing new or interesting. I think it’s adequate, but there’s really nothing about it worth recommending. They had obligatory fight scenes and shooting, but it was very average. The fact that there was nothing interesting or appealing about the characters or the story really makes the action less appealing. Certainly there are plenty of movies that make up for terrible plots with completely over the top fight sequences (like Die Hard with a Vengeance), but this is not one of those movies.

Production Values: 4.0 – Certainly not an Uwe Boll shoestring budget, but it’s not a summer blockbuster.

Story: 6.5 – It was quite bad, but not in the same league as Uwe Boll. Honestly, it’s not much worse that typical Hollywood action schlock.

Action: 4.0 – There was some, but it wasn’t really noteworthy.

Faithfulness to the video game source: 5.0 – I haven’t played the games, but they didn’t seem to have much of a plot either. They have some of the same elements, but the video games seemed to actually have more of a plot!

Laughs: 5.0 – I did find some of it funny, but I had to really work to find it funny.

Total Turds: 5.0 - I only saw the movie a month ago, and I’m really scratching my head to remember anything about it. There was nothing really memorable about it, but it wasn’t quite as terrible as most video game adaptations. Stay clear unless the alternative is watching an Uwe Boll film.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Video Game Move Review: In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

I had the fortune to spend some time over Memorial Day weekend with my sister. Unlike me, my sister doesn’t really keep up with movies, so when we go to the video store to rent something, she judges it solely based on the cover. This lack of research came in handy recently because she grabbed "In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale", and suggested we rented it. My jaw dropped open because I saw this as an opportunity to see this game based movie with one of my favorite people without bribing her or having to apologize profusely afterwards. I thought perhaps this was some kind of trick, so I asked, "Are you sure?" It was no trick! She responded, "Yes. Why?" "Oh no!" I thought. I may have blown my chance! I had to back track over my colossal fumble, "Umm... Errr.. No reason!" She knew something was up, so she said, "Well, maybe we’ll keep looking." Unfortunately for her, we found nothing else, so we picked it up!

On the way home, she asked me what the deal was with "In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale". I explained to her the story of Uwe Boll and how terrible his previous films were, but I mentioned (and unfortunately not believably) that perhaps she would enjoy this film. However what I said was more than enough to sap out all of her interest in seeing this film. So, we had to go back and rent "The Number 23", which I warned her got really bad reviews. She wanted to see it anyway, perhaps because of its classy cover. We watched 23 first and the reviews prove correct – it was no good.

Now, although "In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege" got overwhelmingly negative scores, I think the Montreal Film Journal hit the nail on the head:
Fuck "The Lord Of The Rings", this is how it's done.

Unfortunately for Uwe Boll, the next line is "Naw, I'm just fucking with you, this movie is a major piece of crap." It continues with a very insightful review that fairly paints a picture of how crappy the film is. You should definitely read that review. In fact, it almost saves me the trouble of writing a review myself, but it’s a bit too short and doesn’t describe the juicy details like I’m sure my audience is interested in, which at this point, I believe is just my dad (Hi dad!). The Big G’s website isn’t quite as popular after I got bored with pissing off Nintendo’s fanboys. I still am let down with the Wii, so perhaps I should go back to that. Although I do enjoy pissing off Uwe Boll, and hopefully, he will someday challenge me to a boxing match. Maybe I should start training, so I don’t end up like Lowtax.

So, now that you know the movie is terrible, let me take a step back and tell you why. The story revolves around a farmer named... Well, Farmer. Now, I thought this was the stupidest name they could have come up with. Perhaps in response to this criticism, they decided to justify it by explaining that Farmer the farmer feels that people should be known by what they do. With a terrible explanation like that, I think they were better off not explaining it. If everyone adopted his philosophy, it would get confusing to have half the villagers known as Farmer as well as it would make it difficult to have multiple jobs or to switch them. Obviously the screenwriters didn’t really think that through very well. Actually, I don’t think they thought anything through well, which was part of the problem.

So, this farmer named Farmer has a wife who he loves but won’t say it and a son who actually has a name, so I guess he wasn’t really forcing his stupid naming philosophy on his child. Ray Liotta plays the evil wizard Gallian, and he’s sleeping with Muriella, played by Leelee Sobieski. This was particularly disturbing because Ray Liotta looks like he’s 60 and Leelee looks like she’s 16, so it’s like she’s having relations with her grandpa. Apparently he was sleeping with her to steal her magical powers. Or because she was 16 and the daughter of his arch-nemesis magus Merick, a loyal servant of King Konreid, played by an extremely disinterested Burt Reynolds. Probably a little of column A and a little of column B. Completing out the all star cast, Ron Perlman played Norick, a sort of father figure for Farmer, and Matthew Lillard, the world’s most talented actor plays Duke Fallow, the king’s nephew who is scheming to become king while boozing and womanizing and doing an amazing job acting.

One might wonder how Uwe Boll gets all these big name actors to do his films. For Pete’s sake, he got academy award winning Sir Ben Kingsley to be in Bloodrayne. When asked this question, Ben Kingsley had this to say in his defense: "I don't know whether to be upset or flattered by that question," read his response. "To be honest, I have always wanted to play a vampire, with the teeth and the long black cape. Let's say that my motives were somewhat immature for doing it."

I have also heard that Uwe Boll’s production schedules are so short that he is able to give actors a decent sum of money for an extremely small amount of work. This is consistent with the special features of Bloodrayne 2, which said that they were actually writing the screenplay on set because they had a ridiculous short schedule. This is also consistent with Anthony Bourdain’s experience playing a small part in Far Cry, where Uwe gives him the expert direction "Something like whatever". Also, after his first take, Uwe offers the criticism, "You came very fast back to life", but rather than reshooting, Uwe decides to just edit out Anthony’s reanimation creating a rather sloppy action scene.

Hell, if you watch Bloodrayne, it looks as though Billy Zane’s scenes were shot after the film was already finished and written in just to have another actor in the movie. He interacts only one other character and doesn’t actually do anything. Any decent director would have left those scenes on the cutting room floor, but this is Uwe Boll we are talking about. He probably thought all the Billy Zane fans would see the movie for him. I didn’t realize Billy Zane had fans, but I think Uwe Boll sees movies as an equation. X stars + Y special effects shots = Z profit.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t realize that even a small amount of talent is required to pull off something that is at least palatable by the general movie going public. Hell, it doesn’t seem like their standards are very high given the incredible success of Indy 4 and how mediocre it was! So, it seems that Uwe just doesn’t care about the artistic aspects and that shines through in this film. One might have previously attributed his previous films poor quality to the shoestring budgets that he had to create them, but somehow for "In the Name of the King", he was able to raise 60 or 70 million. Unfortunately, it seems that he just is a sloppy filmmaker.

As the Montreal Film Journal points out, it’s difficult to say whose performance is the worst. Everyone’s performances are so stiff and terrible I feel like I’m watching the Polar Express with real actors this time. (Any movie that can make Tom Hanks creepy is doing something very very wrong) Jason Statham delivers his usual emotionless supposed bad ass style, but unfortunately it doesn’t work so hot when he’s supposed to be a loving father and a dutiful husband. Burt Reynolds looked distant and bored the entire film. I think I caught his eyes wandering in order to check a clock in a few of the scenes. Hell, I could go through every actor and talk about how horrible their performance was, but they really didn’t have much to work with. Their characters were all worthless and should have been cut. Muriella really doesn’t do anything the entire movie besides get boned by someone old enough to be her grandpa. But, they constantly follow her hoping that some facet about her would interest you enough in the character to care about her. They failed. There were tons of other characters and plot points that I imagine you were supposed to care about, but everything was so amateur that it completely missed the mark.

Matthew Lillard is one of my least favorite actors, so I was rather pleased that he hasn’t been in any movies since Wing Commander. (I should review that soon. I considered taking my own life when watching Wing Commander.) Curiously enough, his performance was actually pretty decent in SLC Punk. I have trouble reconciling that with the fact that every other character he plays is extremely obnoxious, but perhaps he has just been typecast as the friend that is really annoying, but you have to hang out with him because you’ve known him for so long, and you’d feel a little bad if you stopped hanging out with him because he’d have no friends – or that’s what you tell yourself. You’re not so sure. Perhaps you’d be cool with him having no friends, but his mom is friends with your mom, so a lot of questions would be raised if you just stopped seeing him all together. He’s not that annoying. Well, all your friends think so, but you’ve known him for so long... Uh, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, Matthew Lillard was terrible in this movie. Here’s what the Montreal Film Journal has to say:
Now, Matthew Lillard is working really hard to not only be the worst he's ever been, but the worst any actor has ever been! As the King's treacherous nephew,he comes off like an obnoxious frat guy in an inept school play, talking in a ridiculous nondescript accent. It's hard to believe that there could be an even shittier performance in one film, but Ray Liotta was up to the challenge! You have to see it to believe it, the star of "Goodfellas" looking like a cross between Saruman and Liberace, hamming it up like he's playing the villain in an episode of "Mighty Morphing Power Rangers", going as far as doing a stupid evil laugh ("Mwa ha ha ha ha!")... I think we have a winner! Or should I say loser?

Although their description of Matthew Lillard’s performance seems spot on, I have to disagree with their assessment that Ray Liotta’s performance was bad. I imagine that ridiculous over the top caricature is exactly what Uwe Boll was going for, and Ray Liotta nailed it! He seemed like he was enjoying playing the stereotypical cookie cutter pure evil over the top villain, and I think he was probably the only person having fun during the two weeks they spent slapping together this crapfest. At least his ridiculous character provided a small island of humor in the otherwise mind numbingly boring ocean of this film. I’m sticking with Matthew Lillard as the worst actor in the film.

Maybe someone would be able to ignore the nonsensical plot and terrible characters for the action scenes, but not me. The action seemed forced, tedious and far from exciting. Perhaps someone who likes tasteless and pointless action can enjoy it, but when you hope all the characters die horrible deaths, it may ruin the suspense and excitement that a good filmmaker would be trying to create. Plus, Uwe Boll is far from a good filmmaker, so who knows if he was even trying to create excitement. My sister was so bored she started surfing the web and was just looking at random people’s myspace pages and laughing at how lame they are.

Now, one of the reasons I didn’t see this in its theatrical run was because I had heard they cut 30 minutes out for the US version. I was hoping the DVD would be the definitive director’s cut version. Unfortunately, it was only the 127 minute theatrical cut. Maybe they had half an hour of deleted scenes on the DVD. I wasn’t very motivated to check after completing the film and not being the least bit entertained despite loving B movies. Another thing is that this movie was PG-13, which removed the typical crutches Uwe uses to make his movies watchable – over the top gore and nudity. I think without those, it really shows that he is utterly talentless. Well, scratch that. He is very talented at raising money for movies. He managed to get 60-70 million for this stinker – probably by pitching it by saying "it’s like Lord of the Rings"!

Anyway, I can’t bring myself to devote any more words reviewing this piece of crap, so it’s time for the ratings!

Production Values: 2.0 – The 70 million went somewhere. I’m not quite sure where, but the production values aren’t bad.

Story: 8.0 – I can’t really quite place what was so terrible about it, but it was incredibly dull and extremely difficult to not only try to care about the characters, but to continue watching

Action: 4.0 – There’s plenty of action. I just had trouble caring about anything in this stinker.

Faithfulness to the video game source: 6.0 – There was Krug, Ehb, and the protagonist was a farmer (although he wasn’t named farmer in the game because that’s just plain stupid).

Laughs: 8.0 – (Less turds means funnier) Unfortunately except for Ray Liotta’s horrible overacting, this movie wasn’t funny. It was just painful.

Total Turds: 7.5 – It’s difficult to find anything to like about this film. It’s not quite as appallingly awful as Uwe’s other films, but unfortunately, that makes it a lot less funny.

PS. Look forward to me reviewing Uwe Boll’s non-video game based movies, which he always mentions when responding to criticism. Somehow he thinks that they can’t call him a bad director just because he did a terrible job directing the video game based films. You have to be intimately familiar with the full body of his work to criticize him. I plan on becoming just that! (My Hitman review is coming next though.)

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Video Game Move Review: Resident Evil: Extinction

Before there was Uwe Boll, there was Paul W.S. Anderson – not to be confused with the auteur Paul T. Anderson who created such amazing films as Punch Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood. No, Paul W.S. Anderson is the guy who brought us such lackluster video game movies as Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil. He was the guy it was cool to hate for making bad video game movies before Uwe Boll made Paul W.S. Anderson’s films look like classics. Paul W.S. Anderson also directed and wrote the abysmal Alien vs. Predator, which I didn’t think was possible to screw up, but boy, did he ever. (Alien vs. Predator: Requiem isn’t as good as an Alien vs. Predator movie should be, but was leagues ahead of the first) He did not direct Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Resident Evil: Extinction, but he did produce and write them.

Anyway, Resident Evil: Extinction sucked pretty badly. Firstly, let me say I didn’t much care for the first Resident Evil movie. The second one was watchable, but mostly because it was laughably bad. This one is by far the worst of the bunch. This movie is amazingly unoriginal. One would suspect that wouldn’t be a bad thing from a movie based on a video game, but this movie seemed to have been based on the crapfest Waterworld. Yes, you read that correctly. While watching this film, I was constantly reminded of the parallels between this script and Waterworld. It took place in a post apocalyptic world where fuel is a precious commodity and convoys of people roam around in search of safe haven. Instead of the Mariner, we have Alice who somehow managed to develop psychic powers since the last movie thus alienating her more from the rest of the human race just like everyone’s favorite fishman. Instead of water, we have a barren desert. Instead of the Deacon, we have some rogue umbrella scientist who spends his spare time cloning Alice and slaughtering them in an intricate system of traps for no apparent reason. Instead of dry land, they are trying to go to Alaska, which they think is not infected just because Alice finds some dead guy’s journal talking about Alaska.

So, the entire time, I felt like I was watching Waterworld over again, which is not a good feeling to say the least. A large part of the movie was spent on the relationships between a boring band of survivors led by Claire Redfield, one of the few links this movie has to the video games. All in all, there were not that many action scenes, most weren’t any good and the plot was terrible. Hopefully you won’t mind me ruining a plot point towards the end. They decide to go to Alaska in helicopter from the Vegas area. In the scene before, they were worried about running out of fuel… I would guess anyone with an ounce of sense would know that helicopters are going to get a significantly worse mile per gallon than a car because it takes a crap ton of energy to fight gravity… As well, and perhaps this is less common knowledge, but you can’t just fill a helicopter up with automobile gas. I reckon helicopter fuel is going to be a hell of a lot harder to come by in the post apocalyptic vision from the creative mind that brought you AVP.

Anyway, it’s time for the turd rankings! (Remember, more turds means it is worse)
Production Values: 2.0 – This was actually pretty decent. They had a pretty reasonable recreation of Las Vegas landmarks buried in sand.

Story: 6.5 – There are plenty of worse movies to copy than Waterworld.

Action: 5.0 - The action was at least more entertaining than an Uwe Boll film. Honestly, people doing action movies should take notes from Shoot ‘Em Up. That movie was awesome, and the plot was kept to a minimum even though I actually sort of cared for the characters.

Faithfulness to the video game source: 7.0 - To be perfectly frank, I’ve never really played a Resident Evil video game. The terrible character relative controls and the fixed cameras was a big turn off back in the day because I was hooked on Mario 64. Resident Evil 4 has been on my list of games to play for a while, but I was waiting for the price to go down, and then it came out for PS2, so I was waiting for the PS2 version’s price to go down. Now it’s out for Wii, and I’m morbidly curious to see if they used the Wii-mote in any sort of interesting way, although I imagine they won’t, and I’ll kick myself for not getting the PS2 version. Anyway, I’m familiar with the games to know that they really just share the Umbrella Corporation name as well as Clare Redfield.

Laughs: 7.5 - Unfortunately, this was not funny bad. It was just bad bad.

Total Turds: 6.0 - Skip it unless you hate yourself.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Surfer Dude Reviews Star Wars

So, there has been a gossip website going around called Surfer Girl Reviews Star Wars with some interesting exclusive rumors. I have asked a friend of mine, Surfer Dude, to post some amazingly factual unannounced rumors. So, take it away surfer dude!

Surfer dude here. Firstly, Star Wars sucks. Secondly, let's break some amazing unannounced titles, shall we?

  1. EA will be releasing another Battlefield after Bad Company (and no, I'm not talking about Heroes)
  2. There's another Burnout coming to every platform you can imagine (Perhaps even DS?)
  3. Madden 2010 will come out Fall 2009
  4. Hamonix is hard at work on Rock Band 2
  5. Mass Effect 2 will be released on every platform you can possibly imagine (EA is currently looking for Nuon port). It may be a timed exclusive on Xbox 360 and the other ports will probably be of worse quality
  6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I the official game of the movie will be coming out in 2010 on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PSP, every cell phone imaginable, GBA, PS2, PS1, Sega Saturn, the original NES, and oscilloscopes
  7. Nintendo is working on games for all of their popular franchises: Mario, Zelda, Animal Crossing, F-Zero, Metroid, Pokemon, Advance Wars, and any other game that they've ever made that you've liked
  8. Wii Music will come out at some point
  9. Activision is working on another Tony Hawk game to counter Skate 2 this fall
  10. Blizzard is planning a third WoW expansion
  11. If “This is Vegas” sells well, Midway will do a sequel
  12. LucasArts is working on several other Star Wars video games besides the Force Unleashed
  13. Metal Gear Solid 4 may be Kojima's last, but it won't be the last (and probably won't be Kojima's last either)
  14. Another Grand Theft Auto is in development right now! It will most likely take place in a city other than Liberty City!
  15. Epic is working on an Unreal Tournament 2009

That's all the news surfer dude has at the moment! I'm sure he'll stop by later with some AMAZINGLY non-obvious news posts later.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sonic and Mario Moustache Competition

So, it's crunch time where I work, and as much as I love making video games, getting up, working, going home, sleeping only to get up in order to go back to work is a little dull. On my way home from work one day, I was trying to think of what sort of thing I could do to add some excitement to my life that met my constraints of having absolutely no free time. As soon as I pondered this, the answer came to me like a flash of lightning! Grow a moustache! It met the prerequisites. It would spice up my life and require no time. In fact, I think it'd save me time! That's less facial area to shave, and over the course of a month, I may save a total of 5 minutes. That extra 5 minutes of sleep does sound pretty appealing during crunch time. Anyway, I was explaining my philosophy of recreational moustache growing to some coworkers when one mentioned they had competitive moustache competitions at his previous employer.

I have a confession. I have two goals in life besides making great video games. One is to become a competitive eater. The second is to proudly represent my country at the World Beard and Moustache Competition. I'm doing pretty poorly on the first goal, but by organizing a company wide moustache competition, I figured I could start getting some practice in order to eventually compete at the national level. I quickly organized a company wide moustache competition, and now fun and excitement has returned to my life!

This got me thinking, with an international event as exciting as the World Beard and Moustache competition, it's amazing that no one has grabbed the video game license. I mean it's practically the Olympics of facial hair! Wait a minute... Sega and Nintendo have figured out a way to improve on events that epitomize the amazing will of athletes and their unrivaled mastery in controlling their bodies. They replaced real athletes with licensed characters! So, here's my brilliant revelation! I should get the license and create Mario & Sonic at the World Beard and Moustache Competition (with of course permission from Nintendo and Sega).

Now, I know what you are thinking. Eggman or Wario has already won! Well, in this game, any of your favorite male characters from the Sonic and Mario series can grow amazing facial hair. Maybe your favorite character isn't female. Perhaps you are partial to the Princess Peach or Toadette (I love both mushrooms and women, so Toadette is my favorite). I imagine there's one person who actually can stand Amy, Sonic's special lady friend. I do have trouble imagining that anyone actually likes Blaze, Cream or Rouge – the other female characters rounding out the current Sonic cast. Daisy is totally just Peach with brown hair created only because blond didn't render well on the original grayscale Game Boy. I don't want to create a sexist game, so I think that perhaps we could include an armpit hair growing minigame for the female character.

Now you may be thinking, “Nintendo is the awesome! They would never license out Mario for a stupid game like that!” Let's examine that statement, shall we? In thinking what random officially licensed Nintendo things I own, here are a few things that come to mind: Mario boxer shorts (they have somewhat lude text on them “Kiss me, I'm Italian” and “Show me the Princess”), Mario socks, Mario t-shirts, a plush Mario, a Mario action figure, Nintendo adult pajama bottoms (not the footy kind unfortunately), a Famicom tissue box holder, a plush Famicom, and a Nintendo business card holder. I'm sure I have plenty more, but that's all I could come up with off the top of my head. There are plenty more that I don't have such as Nintendo PC speakers (shaped like the ? block) and a friend of mine has the Mario branded Shasta Soda. If you think that's a lot, it's only a small fraction of what Nintendo has branded. I'm pretty sure I saw an official Super Mario Colostomy Bag when I was at last at the drug store. In short, Mario gets around. Sega's not much better. I suppose I haven't collected Sega stuff as avidly, but I do have Sonic action figures, plushes, socks, t-shirts as well as a Dreamcast tissue box holder, but I don't think that's officially licensed.

I'm sure you're already checking your favorite retailer's website to preorder this game, but you might be desperate for more information in order to steer your lucid dreams to be about playing this game. It's obviously going to be for the Nintendo Wii since I don't think there's any chance of getting Mario of appearing on any other system (except the CD-i for Hotel Mario and PC for Mario Teaches Typing). The gameplay would work as follows. You choose your character. All the characters begin without facial hair, so Dr. Eggman or Wario don't have a clear advantage. The first part of the game is the act of growing the facial hair. This is accomplished by waggling the Wii-mote. After several hours of waggling, your character will have some stubble. After two days straight of waggling, you will have about a centimeter of growth. Now that you are past peach fuzz, you'll be able to compete.

The bulk of the game is about working your way up to the international beard and moustache competition, but like any athletic event, you can't just start at the top. You have to work your way there by winning smaller competitions. These will bring you trophies that you can put in your trophy room that you can arrange yourself similar to Playstation's Home. Hopefully the CPU on the Wii can handle awesome physics, so you can try and stack all your trophies and sit on top them just like Home. At least I think that's what you are supposed to do in Home. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what Home is about.

Winning championships also gives you more money to purchase moustache wax and other shaving accessories. In fact, all your character starts out with to shave initially is a shard of broken glass. After winning some tournaments, you can purchase a straight razor, a safety razor, a three bladed razor, a six bladed razor, a fourteen bladed razor, an electric razor, an electric razor with goo, a beard trimmer and a nose hair trimmer. You can also purchase moustache wax, Rogain for Beards and Moustaches and testosterone injections to increase the rate at which your character's hair grows. As you win the lower tournaments and grow more hair as well as shaving products, you will finally work your way up to the world championship.

The game will use WiiConnect24, so you can visit your friends if you remember their stupid friend code. Although I have a ton of friends with Wii, I haven't bothered to enter their string of random digits which would enable me to play all my online games with them like.. umm.... yeah, I got nothing. Well, luckily, this trophy room feature would give you a reason to swap codes! Well, probably not, but networked trophy room makes an AWESOME bullet point! It's like Game 3.0 user created content combined with the remix generation level of customization!

For those who are really dedicated to their virtual craft and are willing to spend months and years waggling, there will be actual international championships that will take place on a new channel similar to Everybody Votes. It will be a double elimination tournament. Players will have to log over 100 game hours to qualify to prevent people from entering without crazy facial hair.

This is exactly the kind of innovative gameplay that the Wii needs so desperately. This game will not only sell millions of copies of its game but drive Wii hardware sales to even greater heights than it is currently at. It will also prove that Nintendo isn't the only publisher that can have a successful title on the Wii. If you work at a publisher and would like to publish this brilliant title or get a more thorough design document, post a message in the comments, and I'll be happy to get back to you.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Video Game Movie Review: DOA: Dead or Alive

DOA: Dead or Alive actually came out over a year ago in Australia. It took almost a year to have a limited release in the United States, and pretty much tanked. It made $260 thousand in 505 screens its opening weekend and moved out of most of those screens very quickly. According to IMDB it wasonly at 6 screens two weeks later. So, it probably shouldn't have been released in the US after all. For comparison, Bloodrayne made 1.5 million its opening weekend in 985 screens.

Was the movie really that bad? Was it worse than Bloodrayne (which if you read my earlier post was quite terrible)? Hells no. Was it any good? No, not really. Unless you enjoy cheesy movies (which I do). Then, it might be good for a laugh. Firstly, one problem is Dead or Alive isn't the most popular video game series, so the movie might not have mainstream appeal. Although, if I say the game with the "boob physics", it's more recognized for than than the actual name of the game. Since other games have probably copied their procedural boob bounce model, it's specifically the game where you can use the "age" value in the options menu to adjust how much bounce there is. 99 years old is a good age, right? I think if real 99 year olds saw that much bounce, they might have a heart attack, but I don't there are any that have played the game. Perhaps they wouldn't need viagra then? Maybe the problem is that old women are all wrinkly not attractive at all, and that's why old men have erectile dysfunction. Perhaps I can talk about old mens' penis problems some other time. I need to focus on the task at hand – reviewing DOA: Dead or Alive! (Yes, the actual movie is called DOA: Dead or Alive. I think Dead or Alive by itself was already used.)

The Dead or Alive series has a story (I think), but after playing several of the games, I am unable to figure out what it is. It's only told in the instruction manual and minute long pre-rendered scenes when you beat the game, but the cinematics are more about showing off the most CG skin the ESRB will allow than they are plot exposition. So, the movie could be true to the video game story. I'm not really sure. I read some stuff about the plot on Wikipedia, but it was pretty dull, so I'm just going to go off the small amount of stuff I've picked up from the games and my brief perusal of everyone's favorite online source of misinformation.
The movie focuses on the characters of Tina, Christie and Kasumi. If they were your favorite fighters, (no one plays DOA for the guys) then you may enjoy the movie. A little. If you like Hitomi or Koroko, they aren't even in the film. Lei Fang is in approximately 30 seconds of it. Helena who was a dignified opera singer in the games (and my favorite character) is instead a ditzy tween who spends most of her time in a bikini and roller blading. Ayane who is a ninja, and hails from Japan is played by a honkie... (If you aren't hip to the lingo that means a white person) I thought this was an interesting casting choice. A white woman playing a Japanese woman... Hmmm.... Seems like a stretch for Natassia Malthe of Bloodrayne 2 fame, but considering the original Ayane didn't have much personality anyway, I guess she did alright. In the game, she was the half sister of Kasumi because Kasumi's father's brother raped her mother. They didn't seem to be related in the film because Ayane was in love with Kasumi's brother Hayate (her half brother in the video game). If they were, it would have made the film more interesting. Anyone reading see Lonestar?

Kasumi was played by Devon Aoki, who is half Japanese and not attractive at all, but I guess she is the only person fractionally Japanese in Hollywood, so any time there is a part for a Japanese woman, she gets a call. (It seems Ken Watanabe is the only Japanese guy in Hollywood, but at least he's Japanese and can act) Her acting was appalling, but on the bright side, her deadpan performance did make me snicker from time to time. They should have cast Zhang Ziyi who is Chinese but at least looks the part more and is incredibly talented actress. I didn't think she could act until I saw her in 2046, and she blew me away with an absolutely amazing performance. Hmmm... Then again, with acting chops like that, doing this crapfest would probably be beneath her. Well, she could at least kick ass like in Crouching Tiger or Flying Daggers. I guess for cheesy movies you need bad acting, so perhaps I'd ruin the film by recasting it. The only person who really “fit” in the movie was Jamie Pressely. She played Tina and seemed to recognize the film for what it was and really seemed to enjoy laying on the cheese. Unfortunately, she had a grating southern drawl that grew rather annoying as the movie went on, which sucked. I hope that's not her natural voice. I don't recall her sounding like that in other movies, but I don't really recall what other movies she was in...

The plot was somewhat similar to the games although there were a few changes. Firstly, it starts out with a lengthy introduction to each of the three main characters. Kasumi is a princess of some crazy ninja city in the middle of a boxed canyon. Perhaps she lives in Blood Gulch? She does have a CG palace, which looks nice and fake. She jumps 14 feet over a giant gate that apparently opens up to a sheer rock wall, and she has a portable hang gliding kit, which seems odd because it seemed like an old fashioned ninja village. Apparently not. That or ships to palaces in boxed canyons on top of sheer rock walls bordering a large body of water. Maybe they do. I don't live in Japan, so I wouldn't know. Anyway, this all seems perfectly plausible except for what happened next. A magical throwing star sought her out while hang gliding out of the forbidden temple. It told her that she was invited to the DOA tournament. It didn't tell her instructions or anything, but she managed to get there. These problems were solved by an omnipotent camera cut and a very liberal suspension of disbelief.

Tina was introduced in a less ridiculous but perhaps less entertaining way. She was a pro wrestler but frustrated because people didn't think she could fight for real. Comforted by having a private yacht and a dude to drive it for her, she ended up fighting off pirates trying to exploit the lawlessness of international waters. After warding them off, she received another flying star inviting her to the competition. Apparently, the stars have super GPS trackers or something as well as some sort of perpetual motion propulsion system because her boat was in the middle of the South Pacific.

Christie murderous tendencies have been downplayed and now she's more thief than assassin. In her introduction, her partner/lover turned her in to the cops, so she wouldn't get away with the money they stole in order to get her to attend the DOA tournament with him, so they can steal even more money. Seems like it'd be easier just to ask if she'd like to steal more money. What's 1 million when you can have 100 million? No apparently, she needed the elaborate ruse. She's very willing to forgive someone who could have condemned her to a life behind bars for the rest of her days. Maybe the guy is really good in the sack?

After THOSE introductions, how can the movie not be solid gold? They found creative ways to work in the theme and spirit of the video game – T & A. They had a bikini clad volleyball game true to the source material as well as frequent close ups on the T & A regions. They had a duel in the rain in wet skimpy clothes. It would seem that they knew their audience despite the poor success of the film.

Although the characters were quite similar and the general theme stayed the same, the general story arc made a bit less sense than the DOA video games. Yeah, DOATEC is some super evil corporation doing evil research, but instead of cloning the combatants or creating the ultimate fighter they want to create the ultimate... sunglasses. I wish I were making that up, I really do. In fact I wish I could come up with things that stupid because I think this blog would be way funnier if I wrote stories about organizing fight tournaments to make high tech sunglasses, but instead I just complain about the game industry! Although, perhaps I'm doing something right because I think this blog gets more hits than people who saw the movie. Well, at any rate, they collected data about all the fighters by implanting them with nano-technology, which provided them with HUD for the video feeds when they monitored the fights. They actually found a way to work in power bars! BRILLIANT! I wish I could be a Hollywood screenwriter. If I ever had writer's block, I could either come up with a random string of technobabble to resolve any situation or just use nanotechnology. Anyway, these ultimate sunglasses were being sold to terrorists all over the world because they used the fighter's nanotech collected data to allow the wearer to predict the weaknesses of rival fighters in hand to hand combat. Now, I can't see how Osama Bin Laden being the world's greatest martial artist would have any value at all to his terrorist group, but maybe I lack the imagination of today's Hollywood writers. Perhaps that's why my touching screenplay about a 12 year old girl dying of leukemia who's parents die in a car crash that teaches an alcoholic nurse the value of life was not optioned. Maybe now that the brilliant writers of this movie are striking, it's my chance!

Although perhaps the humor inherent in the ridiculous plot was unintentional, they seemed to purposefully go for humor in the relationship between Helena and one of the scientists in charge of nano-monitoring/sunglass technology. They had him imagine talking with Helena, Helena constantly forgetting his name and other silly stuff. I actually got a kick out of this intentional humor too. It's no “Big Lebowski” but was funny. Not as funny as the super kung fu sunglasses, but amusing nonetheless.

In general, I wasn't really bored during this film, which is pretty high praise for a video game adaptation and more than can be said for Bloodrayne 2. Normally, there's plenty of slow and boring parts as they try to flesh out a 5 line summary of a game into an hour and a half motion picture epic. So, would I recommend this film? I guess it depends on if delight in cheesy movies like myself. If so, you'll probably be entertained. Could your time be better spent elsewhere? Most likely! As I mentioned above, 2046 is absolutely brilliant, and I bet you haven't seen it! The Big Lebowski gets better every time you see it, and I've seen it well over 20 times to prove it! But, if you are looking for extremely cheesy fun and planning on making some popcorn and inviting friends over, I think you'll have a good time. Here's the total turd review (keep in mind less turds is better):

Production values: 4.0 – Not too bad here. Much better than an Uwe Boll film. Not a super CG fest like blockbusters these days, but that may be a good thing.

Story: 7.0 – The story was actually ridiculous. This isn't necessarily bad because it made the movie quite amusing.

Action: 3.0 – There was a reasonable amount of fighting - at least enough to keep me entertained. The action wasn't as amazing as “Live Free or Die Hard”, but the story was even stupider to make up for it.

Faithfulness to the video game source: 2.0 – It was darn close. There were boobs, butts, bathing suits and some crazy ass scheme by the evil DOATEC corporation. The companion they added to Christie was annoying. However, the companion they added to Helena was amusing. But as far as video game movies go, this is one of the closest. That's kind of sad actually.

Laughs: 2.0 – I got a kick out of it. (Less turds means funnier) Not the funniest movie ever, but the sheer ludicrousness of the story made me laugh.

Total turds: 3.0 – I can sort of recommend this. I enjoyed it. It was crap, but not unbearable Uwe Boll crap. It's more akin to popcorn movie summer blockbuster crap. The story is no worse than any Steven Sommers blockbuster and the acting is on par. (Did you see Van Helsing? Dracula's brides had the worst overacting I've seen outside of community theater!) Sure, there's not as much CG, but I think this movie did a good job of embracing the campy-ness, and so I enjoyed it.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Video Game Movie Review: Bloodrayne 2: Deliverance (and some thoughts on Uwe Boll)

Firstly, I don’t know if I have regular readers, but if I do, I’d like to apologize for the long pause since my previous post. It turns out making games is a time consuming process and I’ve been busy. I don’t think I have regular readers since most people who frequent this site are Nintendo fanboys who would die to defend the house of Mario from any negative remarks I may make. So, they probably don’t miss me. Anyway, luckily I’ve been able to tear myself away from the computer monitor for long enough to stare at my TV to watch Bloodrayne 2: Deliverance. If you’re like me, you will have two reactions to this:

  1. You will be very disappointed to miss the theatrical run
  2. You will be shocked to find out that it’s already released to video.

Fear not Big G readers! It went straight to video, so you didn’t miss it on the big screen. I happen to be a big movie buff with an unnatural zest for video game movies, so I think I shall start reviewing video game movies, especially ones that you may have missed out on. My rating scale will be the turd. 1 turd isn’t too terrible. Perhaps on par with a Hollywood blockbuster like Underworld. 10 turds is unbearably awful and incredibly painful to watch like Gigli or the Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 4: The Next Generation. If you want to lose the will to live, then try watching those movies. I dare you. I will rate them in various categories and assign a final turd rating, which is not an average.

So, firstly, I’d like to start this out by saying Uwe Boll is a terrible, terrible human being and an even worse film maker. Between cussing out Wired, beating up his critics, and making pile o’ crap films, it’s amazing he has time to troll the message boards reading all the hate on the web about him. I don’t like jumping on the Uwe sucks bandwagon, so let me continue by saying that I don’t hate Uwe Boll. He’s a terrible person, yes, but I like him. That's right! Your eyes don't deceive you! I like him. Why? Because he entertains me. I own Bloodrayne, Alone in the Dark and House of the Dead on DVD, and I saw all 3 in the theaters. I saw House of the Dead on opening night, and there were like 20 people in the theater and about 7 of them walked out before the film was done. I was laughing my ass off. I’m not laughing because the movie is intentionally funny. I’m rather laughing AT all the people who made the terrible, terrible film and how bad they are at their jobs and how ashamed they must feel that all their hard work went to produce such a stinker. (Except Uwe Boll who is constantly frustrated because we don't appreciate his genius.)

That being said, I’m the guy that keeps Uwe Boll in business. I’m the one that allows him to keep butchering our favorite video games. You may ask how I sleep at night. Well, thanks for asking, but actually quite poorly. I have insomnia, but I’m still okay with giving Uwe Boll money because he entertains me. I just don’t enjoy laughing at his appalling films. I also enjoy laughing at his crazy hijinks like his immense frustration with why his target audience hates him. If you are reading this Uwe, take some notes. Get out a magic marker and write this down. "Du saugst!" For those who spreche nicht gut Deutsch, that means "you suck". Your movies are terrible. You take much loved video game franchises and take big fat German dumps on them. Now, in Uwe’s defense, he always says that people shouldn’t say he’s a terrible film maker from his video game adaptations alone. They should see his other films. Well, I plan on seeing his other films, so I can make fun of them also, but I haven’t had a chance to see them just yet. Unfortunately, there are worthwhile films that I’d like to see, and it’s beyond comprehension that his other films could be any good because his video game adaptations are so bad. Let’s take the first Bloodrayne as an example.

The Bloodrayne video game was about a half vampire chick fighting Nazis all the while making cheesy wisecracks that are befitting of any action movie hero. Pure entertainment, right? Not much to screw up, right? WRONG! Uwe Boll took a fat crap on a sheet of paper and had his crack team of writers use that as source material for the first film. Bloodrayne instead of a confident hero, who always has the right one liner for the occasion, was transformed into a whining emo cry baby in the middle ages fighting who knows what because the plot was so damn stupid.

Luckily, Bloodrayne 2: Deliverance is not as bad as the first. Unfortunately, that’s not saying much because the first one was a steaming pile of dog doo. (I’ll try and get around to reviewing it later for those of you who were fortunate enough to miss it). According the interview on the DVD with the brilliant mind behind Bloodrayne 2, Uwe, there 100 years in between the first and the second movie, in which Bloodrayne immigrates to America through New York, and then settles in the Wild West. So, that’s where the movie begins. Other than Uwe and a character named Rayne, there are no real similarities between the first and the second movie. Since the first one was so terrible, that’s probably a good thing. Kristanna Loken is a terrible actress and in my opinion, not very attractive. If I’m going to watch a terrible film with terrible acting, I might as well be looking at someone pleasing to the eye. Natassia Malthe fills the roll much better in that regard. The dark emo and gothic story beats from the previous movie are pretty much gone.

Instead, it seems Billy the Kid was really a vampire, and it’s up to Rayne to stop him. Vampires versus cowboys sounds pretty good, right? Unfortunately, that’s where the wheels come off the wagon. There is very little fighting and a whole lot of boring nothing. It’s difficult for me to remember how they filled up 90 minutes because almost nothing exciting or of interest happened. Rayne’s character was practically mute, which may have been a good thing depending on Natassia’s acting ability, but I can’t judge her as an actress from this stinker since she had such piss poor direction and so few lines. In the crew interview, the writers stated that Uwe said Westerns are about the set up and not the actual action. In this movie, that was pretty much what they did. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exciting rising action like in a properly filmed western. It was stuff that should have hit the cutting room floor. Any editor worth his/her salt would have cut these snooze fest down to 5 minutes – the ending credits.

Although the movie was largely forgettable, the writing was so poor, it amused me. Here are some highlights. Billy the Kid describing his brilliant plan to create an army of vampires to overthrow the world says, “Witness the greatest story ever told”. Rayne after someone tells her that she can’t fight all the vampire cowboys because she’s a woman follows with “Your fly is unzipped.” And finally, one of the last lines in the film that had no relation to anything that I could figure out: “Life is like a penis. When it's hard, you get screwed. When it's soft, you can't beat it.”

So, here’s the final rating: (these are out of 10 turds where 0 is acceptable 10 is unbearably terrible)

Production values: 8.0 – Unlike most Westerns, it didn’t take place in a desert. There was plenty of green grass and trees. That’s probably because they were using the set from something else. In the credits, it said that they had the writers pretty much write the story on the set because they had such a short production time.

Story: 7.0 – Vampires in the west could be cool…. Maybe if Uwe Boll weren’t involved. Unfortunately, it proved to be very boring.

Action: 8.5 – There were a few guns. And a few blades. Maybe I fell asleep during the film because I just finished watching it and I can’t remember how they filled up 90 minutes with so little action.

Faithfulness to the video game source: 9.5 – There’s a character named Rayne and a Brimstone society. That’s about it. Rayne who although didn’t have much personality in the game, is completely different.

Laughs: 5.0 – There are some bad movies that are just funny. Blade 2 cracked me up from start to finish. Bloodrayne 2 just had a few great lines, most of which I’ve repeated in this review.

Total turds: 8.5 – Not the worst Uwe Boll film by any means, but is perhaps the most boring. Few laughs and very little action makes this one worth skipping.

PS. Uwe, if you are reading this, please feel free to post a comment about how brilliant you are and how I'm an idiot and a jerk for reviewing your movie. Also, please dicuss how I'm a coward and you could beat me up. Also please include all sorts of spelling and grammatical mistakes similar to your e-mails to wired, so I can laugh at you.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Games that NEED Sequels

Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon - Despite what many Nintendo fanboys might think, The Wand of Gamelon was the last innovative Zelda game. Every game since has had the exact same gameplay as the very first Zelda (besides Zelda II, which for some reason, everyone hates). Windwaker was like a cell shaded Ocarina of Time. They added the grappling hook! Whooptie doo! Ocarina of Time was just like the first Zelda with a third dimension. Even Twilight Princess is the same as the old Zeldas with a wolf and the twilight realm. The twilight realm seems familiar... Hmmm... Maybe because that's the same idea they had in “A Link to the Past”? Anyway, at least they gave Link a voice and a character. I'm sick of controlling a mute husk of a man devoid of any essence of humanity. I'll take the Link from Wand of Gamelon even though he wears more lipstick than most transvestites. Honestly, I prefer the whining “Well, excuse me princess!” Link from the animated series to the Link from the recent games. Link is always after a kiss from the princess, something I can completely relate to, whereas the Link that appears in the current games is an emotionless heroic automaton, something which I've never been.

Dance Aerobics – With the craze of game based workouts and Wii weight loss programs, one might forget the wonders of the Power Pad and its dance based aerobic exercise. Sure, maybe dance combined with aerobics may not be exciting as newer exercise crazes like Taibo, but I have vague memories of it being popular way back in the 8-bit era. (Screw generations of people or even decades. All measurement of time periods should be based on console technology) The advantage of bringing back Dance Aerobics for the Wii is that it's an established IP, and they don't have to license it from Billy Blanks. The Wii version would come with special socks that had holsters for your Wii-motes so it could detect the position of your feet. There would be a sexy female instructor on the screen 80s style with big hair, a neon pink leotard and matching headband. And leg warmers. You can't forget leg warmers. I think this game would be a huge hit.

Ninja Golf – Ninja Golf combines my two favorite genres of games, fighting and Golf. No, I don't mean like Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf. I mean Kung Fu fighting! Actually, wait a minute. Golf games typically suck. Luckily, the majority of the game Ninja Golf is spent in awesome kung fu action! Putting is my least favorite thing to do in golf games, so luckily they scratched that in favor of throwing ninja stars at a fire breathing dragon. A wise gameplay decision, I'd say. I think the sequel should be made for Wii. The Wii has two golf games already, but they are boring since there is no ninja related activities. Besides, the Wii controller was really designed to capture the motion of one thing – Nunchucks. Half the controller is called a nunchuck for Pete's sake.

Kung Food – You like food, right? Everyone does. You like kung fu, right? Of course you do. So, this classic Lynx title combines the two. There aren't enough games about fighting vegetables. Video games these days are lacking creativity, so how's this plot for creative? Here's a quote from the instruction manual:
"Your kitchen is usually a safe, warm place. Not any more. The top secret chemical you stored in your fieezer became active when the door was left open. Now the contents of your freezer have come to life, and the effects of this chemical have spread throughout the kitchen. Even you have been transformed. Reduced to a little green man, you must boldly go to your freezer and destroy such transformed tidbits as ice demons and killer kung fu carrots. If you fail, your
fearsome food will conquer the world."
Now that's creative! I think we can stick with the same story and basic gameplay and just give it a next gen touch! This game needs photorealistic graphics, normal maps, specular highlights and lots of HDR! Perhaps it could even use a brown filter over the screen too. This sequel would sell faster than Gears of War!

Joy of Sex – I don't know if this Philips CD-i was a game exactly. It was more like a DVD using the CD-i controller as a way of selecting the menus since VCD didn't support interactive menus. The video content featured some dirty looking drawings and shots of creepy looking actors paid to read off prompts about their pretend sex lives. All in all, I think the next gen sequel could use more of a Clockwork Orange spin. Your in game character is forced to watch this horrifying content with its eyes strapped open. The only options are to watch this appalling content or swallow your tongue and die. Obviously, if you choose to swallow your tongue, it's game over. If you can survive the 20 hours of agony that the remake will provide, you win! What you'll most likely win is a vow of celibacy.

Zombie Dinos from Planet Zeltoid – You should stop reading right here. The title alone should explain why this game needs to be remade. Zombie Dinos from Planet Zeltoid. That's the greatest game premise. I haven't played the game in a while, but basically in some of the most gripping and enthralling cutscenes the world has ever seen, Dexter the Dinodroid explains how the evil Harry the Harrier and his brain blobs are going back in time to enslave the dinos to take over the world. Dexter the Dinodroid's amazing lifelike motion received an award for its creators, the Chiodo Brothers best known for Killer Klowns from Outer Space. You have to see the video to understand how truly breathtaking it is. Also breathtaking was the theme song that somehow managed to express this plot in ballad form. If I get a chance, I'll try and rip the song from the disc somehow, so you CD-i less people can enjoy the emotionally resonant theme. Incidentally, the game was released for PC also, so you could probably pirate it. Anyway, for the sequel, I'd change... Hmm... nothing. It's already gaming perfection! I'd say it's just due for a re-release! Sony's Playstation Store doesn't have many titles. Perhaps someone should notify them of this gem ripe for a re-release?

Skydiving Extreme – Okay, so I own this game, but I haven't gotten around to playing it. I've never even heard anything about the game, but if it'll sell just based on a great title like that, then it definitely needs a sequel. Skydiving... TO THE EXTREME! I have a relatively amusing cell phone game about sky diving. The one complaint I have with it is that it isn't extreme enough. Luckily this game looks to rectify that.

Perfect Weapon – One of my all time favorite games. This game makes the PS1 look like the Sega 32x CD, which in and of itself is a feat for the history books. There's nothing I enjoy more than moving a character that controls like trying to direct a drunk oil tanker captain orally. You don't believe me? Remember those oil spills in Alaska? I didn't have enough Perfect Weapon experience, so I failed to guide the inebriated mariner. Frequent awkward camera cuts as well as constantly draining health completes the gaming perfection that Perfect Weapon has honed. For the sequel, I think nothing should be changed. The game was clearly already perfect, as indicated by its title, so it just needs a re-release. Perhaps it should be ported to the Wii, so they can come with an even more unintuitive control scheme with gesture based actions in order to give the game some added challenge.