30/October/2009

Today's observation: I keep thinking A Boy Named Sue and The Joker are the same song.

"Some people call me the space cowboy, some people call me the gangster of love - my name is Sue, how do you do?"

 


29/October/2009

Watched Beowulf. I was not particularly enthused. Although I haven't read it, I hold the original story in respect simply because it's a historical, linguistically interesting story about beating the hell out of a bunch of monsters, and I'd definitely like to read it sometime (my dad's got a tape of it read by Seamus Heaney that I'd like to try sometime, though if I had the balls reading it in the original olde English would be pretty hardcore). The movie adaptation has some interesting themes, but it never utilises them to any worthwhile extent and the good elements seem buried beneath a load of rubbish.

The whole "recreating live performances in CGI" gimmick is rather hit and miss, and sometimes I can't help but wonder... why? Some characters, particularly the women, looked rather unnatural and kinda creepy, probably because they were so clean-faced, but the likes of Beowulf and all his hairy chums get by since all the roughage hides all the potentially uncanny valley CGI. Admittedly early on it does look rather awkward and I couldn't help but blatantly notice how unnatural it looked; odd mouth movements and some wonky crowd action, but later on it improves and, really, it could very easily have been mistaken for unaltered footage. The action scenes with their acrobatics looked thoroughly ridiculous and just as unrealistic as all CGI, so, really, what was achieved? If the non-action moments are going to look okay (sans a few moments of distracting faces and frightening 3D bosoms) but the action (that's going to require CGI)... then, really, why bother doing the method in the first place? You're not going to see any fine details during such ridiculous movements so, frankly, nothing is achieved. You could say that the CGI is required for the wild camera antics, but given how the wild camera antics are entirely superfluous (it was presented in 3D at cinemas so naturally there's lot of shit flying around the screen to emphasise that; there's a completely ridiculous moment where a spearhead is inflated to comical levels via foreshortening solely so it can look good in 3D. Good goin', fellas!), the whole thing is nothing they couldn't have achieved either just the regular way (live action, sets, CGI) or the Sky Captain way, just filming them on a bluescreen and adding in the backgrounds, forgetting the CGI performance recreating.

Also, the story really loves to drag. I have no familiarity with the original story besides the very basic themes, but given the fact it's a poem (albeit an epic poem) I can't imagine it's humongously long. The movie adds a lot of subplots, but even then it really didn't feel like it had enough to fill its near-2 hour time slot. The first hour deals with Beowulf's young live, killing the Grendel, then getting his horn on with its mom and becoming king, and it really takes its sweet time getting those basic events over and done with. It is necessary to set up the second half, wherein Beowulf is old and greyed (Wikipedia claims fifty years have passed, but really, the only difference with the remaining characters is some grey hair and wrinkles) and his disappointment in being king and the shame of what he did years ago come to haunt him. He's weary of battle and is frustrated with the tales of his greatness when he knows he has done some dreadful things; it's an interesting story to explore, and his spiel towards the wannabe-slayer of him is brilliant, but the problem is that for the whole hour the film spends going GRENDEL GRENDEL GRENDEL GRENDEL, it then gives us like five minutes of this interesting side of Beowulf before he's back to beating up a dragon and dying. On a more minor note, the movie really loves stretching out atmosphere. The problem is that thanks to the uninspiring surroundings (you'd think having CGI would allow for some interesting environments!), this is entirely pointless. Waiting for the Grendel to show up and his journey into Grendel's mother's lair just seemed to drag on and on.

I'd find it hard to recommend the movie, as it never really seemed willing to make the most of its premise and story, and gained no real benefit from its CGI wrapping. Maybe if you're really passionate about Beowulf, maybe, but to me it just seemed like they made a generic action movie with fantasy and some titillation and hoped that'd be enough.

 


28/October/2009

Believe me, I want to update and be funny and not so much of a horrible lazy asshole, but it's just one of those times, y'know. The kind of time I've elaborated upon before, wherein I want to be productive but I feel like a parcel of poo. I actually have a few ideas for some General Writings, but I'm too poo-like to go anywhere with them at this point in time. I hope you enjoy depressing ramblings!

Metal Slug: Missing in Action is one of those things that, on one hand, I should be proud of, but on the other I can't help but feel disappointed about it, or at least feel like I have a few regrets. And one of those regrets is naming Glen Achilles.

It didn't seem like a bad idea at the time. After all, if something's going to be discussed, it's got to have a name. It would hardly be wieldy to have to keep referring to him as "that guy with the orange hair and black jacket who shoots exploding rifles from his pistol" when he's the subject of hot unused content-related debate, and it'd hardly be cricket if I left him without any kind of title when my site was kind of considered the de facto source of Metal Slug 5 unused info at the time (it still is, I guess, though then there were a million more forum threads discussing all the unused nonsense). So, rescue him, complete a level, get his surname and then tack a first name onto it, and tada! Of course, it then turned out his name was generated just as randomly as any other prisoner, so it was in no way official whatsoever, but it sure was convenient, right?

Now I look and see everyone referring to the character by that name without mention of, hey, it's an unofficial nickname, or hey, he's only dubbed this until we can actually get some reliable information on what the hell's up with all this unused stuff, guys. Everyone throws the name around like it's gospel. And it worries me. I hate to be a joyless bore who doesn't like making things up (though the first part of that sentence is accurate), but I'm normally the kinda guy who likes solid official information, as is hinted by my Bomberman shrine and my desire to have sources and references for information that I'll eventually go into in more detail (I can hardly say Shiro is a pretty cool guy who bombs balolons and doesn't afraid of anything without a citation, can I?), and if I made MS:MIA now I'd be very unwilling to speculate on anything without, say, wrangling one of the developers and squeezing some juicy info out of him. But what are the chances of that? Especially when it seems the Metal Slug Database is too busy being like every other stupid forum ever and focuses more on tits and stock internet phrases than anything relevant to the titular subject matter. I mean, the Sonic community eventually wrangled up one of the Sonic 2 developers and spilled the beans on what was really Desert Hill Zone, thus spoiling all the smug-ass attitudes of people who thought Mystic Cave was Desert Hill (JOKE'S ON YOU FUCKAAAAS), so, seriously, a whole bunch of unused stuff is found in every instalment and no one can somehow indirectly get hold of one of the SNK staff to just comment a little on it?

I think I expect too much of the internet.

I love how Glen's described as liking to dance as a hobby, and I'd like to know where he got that second C from. I thought wikis were meant to be informative and not just places where people go nuts with fanon? Clearly I am in the wrong.

 


23/October/2009

Watched Silence of the Lambs.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it, but I read the book while I was away in August, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Best book I've read in ages! So I picked up the DVD for 2 in GameStop on the same holiday and only got watching it now.

Maybe it's just because I finished Night Warriors (which had plenty of exaggerated, lengthily-detailed violence), or maybe it was the 18 rating, but for whatever reason I was almost expecting it to emphasise the mangled corpses and make them so ridiculously disgusting that the last five meals you'd eaten would fly out of your mouth and into the skirting board. Maybe it's because that's how I imagined it when I read the book, but the movie could almost be considered to be tasteful about it! No needless close-ups of bodies missing skin or anything like that, though the atmosphere of all the horrible places is enough to make for a decent substitute.

Being one of those nerds who reads a book and then watches a movie and incessantly compares the two, I naturally couldn't help but notice that the movie's story rolls ahead at quite a pace, though obviously because the book spends more time on character exposition, thus making Barney into... not necessarily an interesting character, but at least someone who says more than two sentences. The first chunk of the movie seems kinda anxious to get somewhere and feels kinda rushed, but after that it settles down nicely and adopts a much more fitting pace, allowing the gravitas of the characters and situation to sink in.

I will admit, I wasn't expecting so many Southern accents. I don't know my geography and even less so my regional accents, but hearing Clarence Starling with a Southern twang to her voice was initially kind of bizarre, and the first few meetings between her and Lecter did not go well, as they both seemed to have a bit of a mush mouth going on. It does get a little easier to understand later, but I don't think I hear very well. One particularly bad instance was Lecter asking Clarence "what do we covet?" but I heard it as "what do we cut?" and I was like "what?" and it was only when Clarence and her partner (who also had some mild characterisation in the novel but guess where that went in the movie!) are talking it over that I finally heard it as "covet." Not cool.

Nitpicks and complete lack of actual review aside, I enjoyed it! I will admit I would probably read the book again if I wanted the full story, but if I've got a hundred minutes to kill and want a decent thriller, it can't be a bad choice. Also, seeing Conan's thief buddy from the second movie as a coroner was kind of hilarious. I was just dying to hear him say "some detective you are! Go back to juggling apples!" but, alas, it was not to be.

 


21/October/2009

Message board exclusivity has reached a new low!

"It appears that you've exceeded the maximum number of posts you can view, but wait, there's a simple solution. To unlock the forum and continue viewing messages, all you need to do is sign up for a free account. The entire process takes just a few minutes so create your account now and view as many threads as you like!"

You're now limited to how many posts you can view. This isn't like a game demo or a movie trailer where you see all the best bits before you're told to sell your soul, you're just randomly told after no warning that you've seen all you can see. You could see a thread of nothing but poorly made image macros, an immature flame war or one of many "who's the hottest anime character?" discussions. Why sign up there if I could join any other message board on the internet?

Whatever happened to chatrooms? Instant discussion satisfaction without any of the needless account making!

 

I read Night Warriors by Graham Masterton. I'm a terrible man for not reading books; I struggle to find ones that entertain me and it doesn't take much to put me off, and admittedly, the reason I started my fictional writing was simply because I couldn't find any fiction I enjoyed, so I just made my own. Stories about space rabbits.

I didn't know what to expect from Night Warriors, as I read it simply because my dad offered it to me otherwise he was going to throw it out. It's got some rad lookin' eels on the cover, and thus I assumed the title referred to them in a rather poetic manner. The story begins with three unrelated individuals finding a corpse on a beach, which has its abdomen burst open and eels residing inside. Mysterious events escalate from there, as the same person in different forms rounds up the three of them to an abandoned house, and there's the great workings of a fantastic supernatural horror mystery story in there. It's a fantastic opening, I can't deny it.

And then it turns out that these guys are descendents of warriors who went into dreams to fight monsters.

Yeah. Out of left field!

And from there, it's a little... turbulent, for lack of a better term. The mysterious eels are still a threat, but the story focuses on the characters' new role as Night Warriors, wherein they enter people's dreams and start searching for the devil, who's actually going about dream-raping women and spreading his devil sperm, and his devil sperm is actually monster gut-bursting eels. The basic concept of innocent, unrelated people tasked with saving the world is always neat to explore, but the whole dream scenario felt very awkward. I, personally, see dreams as a very metaphysical thing - you see, hear and sense things, but it doesn't necessarily follow the basic laws of reality, and dreams are rarely consistent. They work in strange ways, and I could ramble for about an hour on my deluded observations about them, but basically, I found the presentation of the dream realm kinda... flat. Dreams are rooms, apparently! And sure, the setting and location can change wildly and perception is a little skewed, but it just seemed rather convenient for the characters. Despite the fluctuating landscapes, it's implied that they can still explore these dream realms, which, to me, seems really odd, as a dream is the dream of one person, so would actually physically entering that dream not cause clashes of perception, or...? I should reserve this kind of nonsense for my Red Dwarf reviews! But, yeah, the dream stuff wasn't bad, but it was kinda stupid.

The real meat lies in the real world. Towards the end the characters break into a marine life analysis sanctuary in an attempt to burn the devil spawn, and actually having to take care of problems like that with the limitations of being their normal selves and not having ridiculous charge-based powers, it was much more interesting. The characters may fight giant man-shaped cities and giant Arabs and whatnot in the dreams, but when they've got projectiles that have ludicrous destructive properties, it doesn't feel very involved. It's the equivalent of a Putty fight sequence in a Power Rangers episode, except the main characters have stupider names. One of the later chapters features some policemen and paramedics finding a woman whose devil spawn has ruptured from her womb, and the eel sperm start clawing off their faces and penises. It's grisly and unpleasant and hopeless, and for that reason, much more interesting. It gives a real implication that if the seed spreading is, indeed, more widespread, it would be a most frightening circumstance. Instead the whole situation is more or less solved in the dream world, excluding the rather ridiculous conclusion where the professor shines some religious bling in the devil's face and he dies. It's a little more spiritual than that, but that's the basic gist of it. Minus some details that I don't mention for rule of funny.

It's not a bad read, but I do feel a more down-to-earth approach would've entertained me more. I just found out it's part of a trilogy, but I think I can live happily without them.

 


18/October/2009

Oh jeez, October's nearly over already? What have I done this month? (not a lot, it seems)

A bunch of old toys I thought were long gone was found in the garage, and boy, was it a trip into the past! And also ripe opportunity for lots of juvenile jokes, such as Spider-Man's stint in prison! (I'm so, so sorry)

Venom Wayne re-enacts a famous Kirk moment, meanwhile sharks and mutants - united in battle!

That looks like the kind of guy who would make fun of me... well NOT TONIGHT, FUCKWORTH!

Revisiting old gags and reversals!

Also, a bunch of old figures I forgot I had. I can't find much in the way of listings for these Spy vs. Spy figures, so therefore I will assume that I can potentially be filthy stinking rich.

There was also a bunch of nice animal figurines I'd forgotten about, but, yeah, animal figurines. Where's the funnies in that?

 


14/October/2009

Slow blog day. I was originally going to rant about a Yahoo! News story where a driver was charged for a YouTube video of her intentionally driving into a puddle and splashing children, but rather than being charged for being an asshole, was charged for some nonsense about reckless driving, even though the video showed no turning at all to hit the puddle or even any speed limit breakage, so, really, it seems she was only charged for making her antics publicly accessible online, though I suppose actually charging her for that would then make the entire internet a malicious offence (everyone in my Memorable Halo Moments would have the last laugh!), but then I saw Zombieland!
I like zombies. I also like silliness and black comedy, but zombies were enough to sell me. Zombie movies often feature philosophical characters who fret over how the remainder of their lives will play out, and how future generations could be raised wholesomely in such a hellhole, or at the very least wonder how they'll even hold onto their sanity when cooped up in a shopping mall with tensions playing high. While perfectly understandable and a subject that can be analysed with a certain degree of depth, Zombieland is more about people with very small ambitions. Tallahassee seeks nothing more than a Twinkie, Wichita and Little Rock look for nothing more than people to rob and to visit a theme park, and Columbus just kinda bums around. His initial goal is to find his parents, but that lasts for all of five minutes before it's inevitably dropped in favour of getting into Wichita's pants.

The plot really doesn't involve much more than that. The world is implied to be covered from pole to pole in zombies, there's no talk of the military trying to sort things out, no one treats the whole thing as if it's going to be over shortly - they just get on with life, even if it is walking with flesh-eating bastards. And I admire that. It always kinda bugs me how most zombie fiction (at least, the kind I've seen, which probably doesn't delve too far into the genre) generally seem to have a convenient solution at one point or another, and the world will return to the way it comfortably was. The Mist, although it didn't exactly spell it out, did seem to imply that happening with the military marching in and toasting all the monsters with flamethrowers. You see absolutely no governmental input at all in Zombieland, and nobody really seems that keen on doing something serious about it. Zombieland, for all intents and purposes, is a road trip slash buddy movie that happens to have the walking dead littering the pavements. And Bill Murray.

Yeah, Bill fuckin' Murray! See, the movie steamrolls along at a steady pace at the start, giving us the recurring themes of Wichita being untrustworthy, Columbus' rules about survival and Tallahassee's odd behaviour, and then the four of them settle down in a large mansion. Which is owned by Bill fuckin' Murray. It's... rather surreal, to say the least, and a subject that I don't think much zombie media has tackled; I know the Dawn of the Dead remake had them shooting look-alikes to celebrities, and although I haven't read it I've heard of World War Z having pastiches of celebrities getting munched upon, but I don't think it's ever been discussed how the rich and famous cope in that situation. Lifeforce did feature a very brief scene where the British prime minister is revealed to be infected with the space zombie virus by rather nonchalantly pardoning himself so he can make dinner of his secretary. It doesn't make a big impact regarding who you can trust since I don't think anyone would trust the prime minister in such a situation, never mind mundane duties like mowing the lawn. Seeing Bill decked out in zombie makeup and state how he would walk amongst the dead, as well as recreating a Ghostbusters scene with the characters is just bizarre, and having that followed up by Columbus accidentally shooting him under the belief he was a real zombie... I can really only describe it as outlandish. His untimely death is never mentioned again as they casually demolish the furnishings while venting their unrelated angst, but it's not something you forget quickly.

It's a fun movie. It's got giggles and guffaws and lots of cheap scares, but it's not exactly a horror movie; as I said, it's like a buddy road trip with unfortunate surroundings, but the comedy is the main element, it doesn't linger on the frightening side of things. There's plenty of grossness, though it isn't emphasised to a grotesque extent or minimised so that it's nonexistent; it's just kinda there, y'know? It's no doubt going to generate some yelps or jumps from those not used to the trickster ways of horror movies (my solution: laugh! I laughed my way through Snakes On A Plane, even during the parts where it was shit), but, for better or for worse, I'd consider it a zombie movie safe for my mother.

That's probably an effective way of telling people not to see it. I recommend it, though!

 

I also picked up Revenge of the Fallen Legends-class Optimus and Jetfire. 4.30 each! I'd been whining about that ever since they came out as the Legends figures for the first movie were 3, and somehow an extra hundred-plus pennies is enough to turn me off, though the prices online are just plain comical. They aren't bad, Optimus is certainly an improvement over the original one which was a wonky mess of poorly-represented details (though it was a pretty rad truck), while Jetfire is neat, if rather wonky when it comes to putting his legs away.

Yeah, I can see why I cut down on toy reviews.

 


09/October/2009

I don't think I know what the majority's opinion is. I'm just reading up on the Game Room Blitz's news (a site I haven't checked out in years) and popular opinion seems to be the opposite of what I know. Scribblenauts is described as a "sleeper hit" despite the fact it seems the entire internet is talking about it (and by "entire internet" I mean the three or so game sites I keep up with nowadays), Labyrinth is said to have been "quickly forgotten" when to my knowledge is still appears to be a popular cult flick (though when I know about it mostly because of a meme regarding David Bowie's crotch that might not be a good thing)... okay, those are the only examples, but still.

Boy, these sure as amazing blog entries, aren't they?

 


08/October/2009

'Drag queen' fighters recount brawl

Love the relevant imagery, Yahoo News.

 


06/October/2009

Today's observation: Drug-related humour suddenly becomes incredibly boring when it's the only humour anyone knows at the workplace.

 


01/October/2009

So I was hoping, at least sometime before the end of the year, I'd do something that isn't Bomberman - a General Writing, Random Action Hour content that isn't just a small one-off, just something more diverse in subject matter and big enough to be a satisfying morsel. Something fresh!

And then I got five Bomberman books in the mail. Japanese Bomberman books. That means they take a lot longer to finish reading, because I can't read them!

 

I watched Dragon Wars. When I first saw the ads for it online a couple of years ago I was under the impression it was the American Godzilla, with more monsters! or the American Godzilla, by Koreans! In actuality, it's both, with a dosage of the American Godzilla, only after about an hour of wacky nonsensical story and false starts!

I'm no master of Godzilla movies, and I'm not too familiar with that little thing called taste, but I enjoyed the American Godzilla movie - it was silly, had decent action, and what is there to know about the story besides "giant lizard shows up, shitstorm brews"? Dragon Wars throws in a prophecy involving some bollocks about how every five hundred years a girl is born with some wishy thing that can make her summon a dragon for either good or evil purposes, but there's some guy who wants that for himself, and now the current owner of that wishy thing is some girl in Los Angeles, and her protector is some news reporter who, when he was a kid, got some thing infused in him, and there's some guy looking for the wishy thing girl with his ridiculously evil voice and an armour of dragon monsters and all I care about is the goddamned dragon action!!

I'm really not a big fan of prophecies in stories, as it's basically a way of railroading events into happening and you can't go any other direction because it's a prophecy; it's kinda like those kids who when you're playing Cowboys or whatever with them you shoot them and they're like "you can't shoot me I've got an invisible bullet proof vest" (because you shot them with invisible bullets from a finger gun) and they'll just make up tons of excuses to say why you can only play the way they want to. And as if the prophecy wasn't bad enough, the characters just aren't that interesting. The main guy and girl get a romance forced clumsily upon them and neither has any emotion, though the same can really be said for everyone else. The one character I found amusing, the pizza-munching zoo guard, is present in only three scenes before he's totally forgotten about; quite understandable since he's completely superfluous and could've been excised entirely, but when he's the only human that leaves a lasting impression, it's probably not a good sign.

But of course, I was watching the movie for the dragon action, and it most certainly delivered. Hardcore dragon action! There's a fantastic flashback war against ancient east Asia about ten minutes in that is totally awesome, but although there's a couple of teases in dreams from the main characters (including a SNAKE that has turned into a CAR can you say SNAKEFORMERS SERPENTS IN DISGUISE???) and a few threats wherein the dragon smashes into some buildings and chases people, it really doesn't start kicking ass until an hour in, when the army from the flashback enters modern Los Angeles and fights against the army, so you've got these badass fat lizards with cannons on their backs facing off against tanks, horse-things against people with pistols and more traditional dragons versus helicopters! It is quite awesome! And then when the main characters are kidnapped by the dragons the girl then summons a good dragon and it is dragon on dragon combat and then the good dragon dies but turns into a real dragon with arms and legs and starts kicking the shit. Chinese dragons are normally seen as whimsical creatures, much like what's-his-face from The Neverending Story, but this one is hardcore.

It ain't a bad movie, but I wasn't too fussed with it either. I'd definitely recommend watching the action scenes, but the rest felt like badly-paced fluff to me. You won't be killing yourself watching it all since it's only eighty minutes long, but considering how the action takes up only half that time, it could be time better spent.