Monday, December 27, 2010

Arcade Classic Returns

If you had the chance to visit an arcade back in the ‘90’s, there is no doubt that you came across X-Men arcade.

This arcade game came out in 1992 and became a favorite of many. Recently this game was ported onto Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network. Yet, after all these years is it still as fun as it once was?

I downloaded the game for the Xbox 360, which cost me about $10, which seems to be a fair price.

The game let’s you play as Wolverine, Cyclops, Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler or Dazzler. The goal is to battle through eight levels filled with Magneto’s minions in the hope of saving the world. That’s how deep it gets.

The dialog in the game was the first thing that hit me as being really bad. I don’t really know if I can complain about this to much, because I laughed quite a bit.

The gameplay is really just button mashing. You just continuously beat up enemies until you get to the end of the level. It’s really boring if you’re playing by yourself, but if you have a group of friends over or you jump into an online game it becomes less of a chore.

You can complete the game in under a half hour and if you’re playing on the Xbox you can get most of the achievements in one sitting.

Yet, you are treated to two versions of the game. You get the U.S. version and the Japanese version. They’re basically the same. The Japanese version has some differences, like energy pills and also it feels a lot faster than the U.S. version.

The graphics are very dated, but they’re not terrible. I just wished they made slight improvements, then again look what happened to Turtles in Time. I feel if you mess with a games look to much you loose some of what made it special, some if its magic so to speak.

Another weak point for the game is that it’s just a port. Yes, there is a new menu system, which is good, but everything else is limited. There is nothing so new to the game that you’ll be blown away; you’re basically getting the same exact arcade game from back in the day.

If you’re looking for a side scrolling, beat them up style game that you can play with friends then this is a good option. It’s not perfect, it can be very repetitive, but it still has a charm to it.

7 out of 10

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mario Celebrates 25 Years, But Is It Worth It?

It’s Super Mario’s 25th Anniversary and Nintendo is celebrating it with the release of Super Mario All-Stars: Limited Edition for the Wii.I was able to get a copy of this game and I was very impressed with the packaging. You get a game disc that includes four classic Mario games, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Bros. 3, all classics.
Now on a separate disc you get a soundtrack, which has various themes and sound effects from many different Mario Games. Full soundtrack list follows:
1. Aboveground BGM (Mario 1)
2. Aboveground BGM (Mario 2)
3. Athletic BGM (Mario 3)
4. Aboveground BGM (Super Mario World)
5. Slider (Super Mario 64)
6. Delfino Plaza (Super Mario Sunshine)
7. Aboveground BGM (New Super Mario Bros.)
8. Super Mario Galaxy
9. Title (New Super Mario Bros. Wii)
10. Super Mario Galaxy 2
11. Coin (sound effect)
12. Jump (sound effect)
13. Super Mario transform (sound effect)
14. 1UP (sound effect)15. Enter a Pipe (sound effect)
16. Hurry (sound effect)
17. Lose a Life (sound effect)
18. Game Over (sound effect)
19. Course Clear (sound effect)
20. Castle Clear (sound effect)

The last thing the package has is a 32-page Super Mario History book. In this book you get interviews and concept art. It is a very impressive package, but it does fall short in some areas.
Let’s start with the four NES games. I love being able to have Super Mario All-Stars on the Wii, but it doesn’t offer anything new. The game itself is a shameless port and that’s all. I mean they actually have instructions in the game on how to play on your Super Nintendo controller.
The games themselves are fun, of course, but playing on my HD TV I noticed some delay. I had to mess around with my TV’s settings to try and reduce the effect of the delay but I couldn't get rid of it 100 percent. Also, the games doesn't support widescreen, which is a huge disappointment.
Besides those problems the games are still very fun to play. Nintendo has also made it possible to use a host of controllers. You can use your Wii Remote, Wii Remote Plus, Wii Classic Controller, Classic Controlller Pro or the Nintendo GameCube controller. I found the best way to play these games is using the Wii Remote.

Moving onto the soundtrack, which is a cool idea and has some cool tracks, isn’t as great as it could be. Half the soundtrack is made up of sound effects that last only seconds, which, in my opinion, is a waste.
For $29.99 or more, since it’s becoming harder to find, I would say it’s worth it for the die-hard Mario fans that need everything Mario. If you own a Super Nintendo and have a copy of Super Mario All-Stars, well you’re all set. This is the same stuff we saw back in 1993.

Now, this is a hard thing to rate, because I can’t just rate the game itself. I need to also rate everything the package includes.

For the soundtrack I decided to give it 6 out of 10. It’s basically a little more than half a soundtrack. The music they do include is classic, but they should of filled the whole CD with music from the games.

Next is the history book. It’s definitely colorful and has some interesting things included in it; I chose to give it 7 out of 10.

The final thing is the game itself. If I was just rating the games individually I would give them all 10’s. They’re all classics and can be played over and over again. Yet, the game is just a port that is not presented in widescreen and offers nothing new. With that said there is no denying that these game are fun to play and they still look very sharp, graphic wise, so I decided to give it 8 out 10.

The overall score is a 7.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Irvin Kershner 1923-2010

For those of you who don't know, Irvin Kershner was a director. He helmed the best of the Star Wars series, The Empire Strikes Back and after battling a long illness he passed away on Saturday at the age of 84.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bryant shouldn’t be held to higher standard

Call of Duty: Black Ops might be getting some positive press, but Kobe Bryant is getting some heat because of his involvement in a television commercial for the game.

Before the game’s release, a promo starting airing showing various people, including Bryant and talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel, using guns to fight off other people. Basically doing what you do in the game.

“Does Kobe Bryant really need this money, this badly?” said Skip Bayless, an ESPN commentator. “Doesn’t he have a couple of daughters, last time I checked? He is smiling while wielding an assault rifle in combat, while we have troops overseas at this moment, doing the same thing for real.”
Many share that opinion, especially since Bryant is smiling while firing off an assault rifle.

“I was shocked to see Kobe Bryant in the ads, and shooting the grenades off,” said Bomani Jones, another ESPN commentator.

Bryant hasn’t talked about the controversy.
In my view, when I first saw the commercial I didn’t really find anything wrong with it. It’s simply a commercial and I do believe there are worse things going on in the world than this. With that said, when I analyzed it, the commercial does makes combat look fun, which is bad. Combat should always be taken seriously and never taken lightly. Yet, we have to also remember that this is a commercial for a video game and shouldn’t be taken seriously. They are not fighting in a real battle they are at home playing the game and the commercial wanted to show that they are having fun playing and that people from all walks of life enjoy the game.

Yeah, maybe Bryant shouldn’t have been in it, because he might be a role model. But then again, he was accused of rape several years ago, so I don’t know how much weight can be put into the role model label.
Now the other person that appeared in the ad was Kimmel, but he isn’t getting any backlash from this. Why is that? Yes, Kimmel is partially blocked from the camera’s view, but he should be held up to the same standard as Bryant.
The whole thing doesn’t make any sense to me and quite possibly you would have to play the race card as well. Bryant is black, while Kimmel is white.
The whole thing is overblown. I keep reading things like “think about the children.” For the most part, children are smart enough to separate real from fantasy. I don’t think this ad is harming children, it’s just another thing for people to complain about for a week and then next week it will be something new. It isn’t real and people need to realize that.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Does Black Ops Answer the Call?

NOTE: This review is for the Xbox 360 version.

From the jungles of Vietnam to JFK fighting off hordes of zombies; Call of Duty: Black Ops is out but does it answer the call?

After a year of playing Modern Warfare 2 we are now given a whole new Call of Duty game that is different in some ways and similar and others. There has been a lot of talk against Black Ops so let’s really get into it as I discuss the pros and cons.

Let’s start with the campaign. I read a lot of other reviews who felt that the story fell short but I have to disagree. I thought that the story was fine, even if I did see the twist coming a mile away.

The story wasn’t perfect by any means but I thought it was better than Modern Warfare 2. I liked how they really kept you with one main character for the majority of the campaign, allowing you to get to know him, which is also a plus. In Modern Warfare 2 I felt you moved around from protagonist to protagonist not allowing you to get to know them enough which led me not to really care what happened in the story. Yet, it was still fun to play through.

One of the few problems I had with the campaign were some of the levels. They weren’t bad in terms of design, just annoying. The first one was when you were breaking the siege in the battle of Khe Sanh and the other is when you were in a hazmat suit. I thought they were overly difficult if you are playing above normal difficulty.

The other problem I had was the AI on the enemy soldiers. In some areas they are effective and then in others they are just dumb. It doesn’t really damper the game to the point where you won’t want to play but it is definitely something they should change in future releases.

The length of the campaign is also very short; you could probably finish it in six to eight hours. I wish it was a little longer and we could have spent more time in Vietnam but I’m happy what I got out of it.

Those are my only cons when it comes to the campaign. Yeah the graphics could be better but its all about gameplay for me and Black Ops has some great gameplay.

Now, let’s face it, everyone really picked up this game for its multiplayer. Yes, the multiplayer takes some great ideas from Modern Warfare and then adds its own twists on things, which either you’ll love or hate.

COD credits are new and weren’t necessarily my favorite thing when I first started playing but now I’m loving it. These credits are gained by playing multiplayer matches and then can be used to purchase new weapons, attachments and so on. Unlocking weapons is no longer tied to leveling up, which causes you to level up quicker in Black Ops.

The great thing about these credits is that it really forces you to find out what weapons work for you and then customize that weapon. My suggestion is that you play campaign first so you can test out all the weapons for free, so you don’t end up spending all your points on stuff you’ll never use.

There is also a lot of cool new stuff that can be used on the battlefield, like the camera spike, which is a camera you can setup on the battlefield. Once you set it up it will replace your radar with footage the camera is recording so you can watch certain areas of the map when you need to. I found this to be very effective in game types like Capture the Flag or any battles where you’re holding down a room or defending something.

Another cool gadget is the RC-XD, which is a small remote control car you unlock after you kill three enemies in a row. This car has explosives strapped onto it and you drive it near an enemy and detonate it to collect the kill.

Speaking of killstreaks, there is a lot of cool ones, like the napalm strike, Valkyrie Rockets, attack dogs, a gunship and the list goes on. All the killstreaks are great and fun to use.

The game launched with 14 maps on disc, which is a great number of maps. Most of them are great, like Nuketown, but some I can’t stand. The ones that I don’t like are Launch, Villa, WMD and Havana is on the fence for me. The maps that I really enjoy are Nuketown, Radiation, Summit, Hanoi and Array. All the other maps are good, but just not my favorite. I will say this though, I like some of these maps a lot better than some of Modern Warfare 2’s maps but I still believe that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare had the best maps.

The multiplayer has been designed to be played forever and it’s definitely a fun experience but there are some problems I have with it.

The first con when it comes to multiplayer is the matchmaking; it’s slow and sometimes can take forever to get into a match. I heard that they are going to fix this and hopefully they do it soon.

Next up is being dropped from games. I had this happened only a handful of times but it’s still something that should be looked at. Also lag happens.

Then we get to the menus. I’m not a big fan of Black Ops multiplayer menu system. It took me awhile to find the things I was looking for and I just don’t think it’s as organized as it could be. Especially after playing with Halo: Reach’s well designed menus for over a month.

This next thing kind of ties into every mode in the game, but you might notice it more in multiplayer, since that’s the mode most people play on a regular basis. The problem is the sound effects I have to say I think Modern Warfare 2 had the better sound effects, but I also believe that both these games are trumped by the sound effects in Battlefield: Bad Company 2.

Those were the biggest flaws for me when it came to multiplayer, but I still enjoy it. Actually I like it a lot and let’s face it people were complaining a lot about Modern Warfare 2 and I think Modern Warfare 2 had a lot more frustrating and annoying moments during multiplayer.

Moving on, it’s time to talk about the zombie mode. Call of Duty: World at War started the Nazi zombies and this game brings it back with some famous political leaders fighting off the horde.

You’ll have JFK and even Castro as playable characters as you fight your way through round after round of flesh eating zombies. This is a great and fun mode that really should be included in every Call of Duty game.

Summing it up Black Ops is a good game with some problems, but it’s still a very good game. I feel that the multiplayer is not a step back but well balanced and the maps are well designed. The campaign is fun and the story is decent, even if it is short. I recommend it to everyone but if you’re on the fence about it just rent it and see if you like it.

8 out of 10

Friday, November 12, 2010

Call of Duty: Black Ops Breaks Records

Call of Duty: Black Ops is now the biggest entertainment release of all-time. The game, which is available across gaming platforms, made $360 million in it's first day of release. Most Hollywood movies don't see that figure in their entire run.
The old highest record was held by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which came out last year at this time and was able to bring in $310 million.
I did pick up a copy of the game and so far I have to say I like it a lot better than Modern Warfare 2. I think the time period its set in is great and I also like the new multiplayer wager matches. I don't want to do a full review yet, because i haven't finished the story, but I will say that I've had a lot of fun with it so far.

Monday, November 1, 2010

'The Walking Dead' is Original and Interesting

The Walking Dead was one of the very few Fall shows I was looking forward to. I love horror movies and having a TV show based around a zombie apocalypse, well that sounds like a pretty good idea.
Going into the show the first thing you'll notice that there is a lot of similarities to other zombie stories, which isn't a bad thing.
The series is based on Robert Kirkman's comic books by the same name and now has the task of making running away from zombies deep and interesting each week.
The show opens with Rick Grimes, a sheriff deputy and our protagonist, looking for gas. He then encounters a small girl who is a zombie and he of course is forced to kill her. We then cut back to a few days earlier and we see Grimes get shot while on Duty. He is then put into a hospital and wakes up to a zombie apocalypse (just like 28 Days Later). The show evolves from there, I wont say much more because I don't want to spoil it for those of you who haven't seen it.
My honest opinion is that I think it's great. It's original and refreshing and it's not a cop or doctor show. I really give amc a lot of credit for taking a risk and bringing something to TV that is extremely different then anything that has graced our television sets before.
Yet, like I said above, they really need to keep it interesting and fresh, which can be a challenge. If they invest even more time with its characters, developing them, then it will all be fine. They just need to make this a character driven show, characters that happen to be living in a zombie apocalypse.
The show has already been picked up for a second season and I can't wait to see where this first season brings us.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: Nosferatu

DAY 31
Happy Halloween! We did it, another 31 horror movies and I end this year with F.W. Murnau's silent German horror classic - Nosferatu.
One of the most grotesque looking vampires haunts this movie that borrows heavily on Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, Dracula. The movie starts off when a real estate agent, Hutter (Gustav Von Wangenheim) begins conducting business with Count Orlok (Max Schreck). The Count soon goes on a rampage and becomes obsessed with Hutter's wife (Greta Schroder).
Yeah it sounds a lot like Dracula, because it is basically Dracula. Yet, Murnau didn't have permission from Stoker to use material so he was sued by Stoker's widow, which led to all known prints and negatives to be destroyed under the terms of settlement. The movie would survive this and start resurfacing in other countries.
Now, before the lawsuit, while they were filming, Murnau knew that he must change his ending so it wouldn't completely copy Dracula. So, what he did is he made the vampire be killed by sunlight at the end of the film.
This is where we get the legend that vampires can be killed by sunlight, it came from this movie and has carried on into vampire stories for years.
After all these years Nosferatu still proves to be frightening. It went beyond the simple chills that most horror movies had gave into and went it did its own thing.
It's a masterpiece of German cinema and definitely the most creepy version of Dracula ever created.

I would like to thank everyone who followed the list this year. It's been three years of putting together lists of horror movies. After this year I have listed 93 horror movies between the three lists. Every film I've mentioned is worth checking out, even if your not a fan of horror.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: Phantasm

DAY 30
Now here is another icon from the 1970's independent horror cinema that's not for the inpatient.
This film was directed by Don Coscarelli and it follows two boys, Jody (Bill Thornbury) and Mike (A. Michael Baldwin), in their chase of a scary looking grave robber. They soon discover that the Tall Man/ grave robber (Angus Scrimm) is able to walk on the Earth but lives in the afterworld. I can't really say anymore without spoiling it.
The movie has it's silly moments and it can move slow for some people. Yet, if you stick with it you can see how well it can mix horror with laughs.
The horror comes in the form of imagery that is terrifying and also really impressive for a low-budget movie. That goes to show you that if you have imagination, having a small budget will never slow you down.

Friday, October 29, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: Eraserhead

DAY 29
David Lynch's first film is a disturbing look into a man's fears of parenthood.
The film is set in a town that is an industrial wasteland. This is where we meet Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) a young factory worker. Spencer faces challenges such as meeting someone of the opposite sex, meeting her parents and then having a baby. Henry's girlfriend, Mary X (Charlotte Stewart) then gives birth to a deformed baby and leaves it in Henry's care.
This is very challenging movie that can be frightening in some areas and completely sensitive in others. It has brilliant imagery pulling from Gothic horror and sound that creates a completely eerie environment.
I also love, in Lynch fashion, that nothing is ever explained. The movie is left open for your own interpretation. I think it's great when filmmakers leave their work open, because it shows how brave and confident the director is in the story they have told and also have faith in the intelligence of the audience.
One thing about the film I didn't like is areas where the story can be flat. This doesn't hurt the movie, because when it does go flat it quickly picks itself back up.
The film can be disturbing and repulsive but the truth about this film is that it is a true masterpiece. If you do watch it just be prepared to be challenged and disturbed but ultimately satisfied.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: Bubba Ho-Tep

DAY 28
Wonder if the Elvis Presley that died was just and impersonator and the real one was still alive, what do you think he would be doing? Well according to this film he would be hunting down an evil Egyptian entity.
Bubba Ho-Tep is a film that is a mixture of black comedy and horror. The movie stars Bruce Campbell as the King himself, Elvis Presley. Presley is in an elderly resident home in East Texas because he switched identities with an impersonator years before his so called death. Because the other Elvis dies the real Elvis was never able to reclaim his identity and now he's stuck in a home with John F. Kennedy played by Ossie Davis. Soon the home is under attack by an evil Egyptian entity that sucks the life out of people and it's up to Elvis and Kennedy to stop him.
I know it sounds weird and it is, but it's also original. Something that is disappearing more and more nowadays.
Campbell gives an outstanding performance, he is really able to disappear in his character. Because of that the movie has some surprisingly moving scenes, which make the film all the more interesting.
This movie is a cult classic in every sense of the word and is something everyone should see.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: The Night Stalker

DAY 27
Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) is the man. He is the reason we have series like The X-Files and Supernatural. The Night Stalker was a made-for-TV movie that spawned an awesome sequel and one of my favorite series of all time.
The movie is about Kolchak a newspaper reporter who has a sharp personality that has gotten him fired ten times from a host of city newspapers. He then gets a job with a small-time paper in Las Vegas and also gets a the story of his life. He starts to chase down a vampire, which poses many dangers.
The Night Stalker is one of those movies that is campy but it's a grade A vampire story. Nothing like that Twilight stuff, this is a REAL Vampire movie.
Also, for a made-for-TV movie it's actually creepy. McGavin gives one of his best performances and it's a role I always remember him for. Kolchak is awesome.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: Dark Night Of The Scarecrow

DAY 26
A 1981 made-for-TV horror film that I thought was actually decent.
The movie is about mentally challenged man, Bubba Ritter (Larry Drake) who is wrongfully accused of attacking a local girl (Tonya Crowe). He is then hunted by some towns people, led by Otis P. Hazelrigg (Charles Durning). His mother hides him in a field as a scarecrow, but they find and kill him but his spirit can't rest and returns to go on a killing spree to take his revenge.
The movie isn't gory (it's a TV movie), yet it does imply a lot of gruesome events. You might like it and you might not, but I did find it to be entertaining and the story isn't that bad.
Finding a copy isn't that hard. I know Amazon has it for sale and Netflix has it for rent. I don't think you can find it in a store, but I can be wrong, they did just release it on DVD.
It's definitely creepy and worth a watch.

Monday, October 25, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn

DAY 25
Full of gore and slapstick, Evil Dead 2 steps out of the shadow of the first and becomes its own classic.
Ash (Bruce Campbell) is stranded in a cabin in the woods. In the first one his girlfriend accidentally used a summoning spell to raise the Evil Dead. He is now the lone survivor and he is up against hordes of Evil Dead.
Director Sam Raimi, who would go on to do the Spider-Man movies, and star Bruce Campbell are able to put together a bizarre, funny and scary movie that might be demented in places but is a lot of fun.
I know this is a sequel but to me this almost felt like a retelling, which isn't a bad thing, it worked. All in all this is horror at its best.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: Suspiria

DAY 24
Well it's definitely not a film for everyone, there is a lot of gore, but the imagery in this film is so unique and scary it will haunt you for awhile.
The movie follows Susan (Jessica Harper) an American girl whose talents have brought her to a European ballet school. She soon discovers that there is something strange going on and is haunted by strange happenings. I won't give much away but the strange happenings are tied to the school in someway.
There is a lot of stomach turning scenes in this movie that will get under your skin. Yet, what makes this movie so interesting is it's ability to merge an art house picture with a slaughter movie.
The bad thing about the film is its script. It's hard to follow in some places and others it just doesn't make any sense. So your brain can't comprehend what's going on but your eyes are going to be treated to some strange, gory and unique images.
This is NOT a film for everyone, if you are not a regular horror movie watcher then I would watch something else on my lists. If you are a die hard horror fan or just a fan of horror then, if you haven't already, give this one a try.

31 Days of Horror 3: Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein

DAY 23
It's Abbott and Costello and Universal monsters, I mean why not.
The film is about two friends who are railroad baggage clerks. They receive a strange shipment, that ends up being the remains of Dracula and Frankenstein's monster. These monsters, of course, aren't dead and they escape to a remote island. Abbott and Costello then follow them and run into a mad scientist who wants to switch Costello's brain with that of Frankenstein's monster.
The film does merge horror and comedy very well, but it's better not to think about this one being an actual Universal monster movie.
Some of Abbott and Costello's funniest bits are in this film and the great thing about this movie is its ability to still be funny years later.
I strongly recommended this film to not only horror fans but fans of film.

Friday, October 22, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: Sleepy Hollow (1999)

DAY 22
It might lack an award winning script, but the film is still able to capture the horror of the legend and also make it beautiful looking with top notch production design.
This version is a little different then Washington Irving's 18th century classic. In this one Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is no longer a school teacher but a New York detective. He is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of mysterious deaths where the victims are found beheaded. When he arrives he learns that the locals believe that murderer is the ghost of the Headless Horseman.
Like I said above, this movie is beautiful to look at but it lacks any real emotion. In my opinion that didn't hurt the film for me, because going into the movie I wasn't expecting a deep story. I knew at best it was just going to be a ghost story.
So if you could get over that the movie takes a lot of liberties with the original source material and the script lacks, then you'll have a really good time with this one.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

DAY 21
I loved the first Frankenstein movie but this one I find to be so much better.
In the movie it is revealed that Dr. Frankenstein and his monster are alive! Dr. Frankenstein wants to get out of the evil experiment business (I didn't know that was a career path), but trouble rises when another mad scientist, Dr. Pretorius, kidnaps his wife. To get her back, Dr. Frankenstein agrees to help him create a new creature to be a female companion for the monster.
I would have to say that this was the peak of the Universal monsters. Director James Whale does a great job in creating such a classic and most likely the best horror sequel ever made.
The movie has you from start to finish and it will keep you long after that.
If you want to see a classic then look no further, The Bride of Frankenstein is one of the ultimate classics in the horror genre.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: Trick 'r Treat

DAY 20
Writer-Director, Michael Dougherty brings back good old fashion suspense in this very well crafted Halloween anthology story.
This movie weaves together several stories, each posing their own unique dangers. We have a group of school kids finding a dark secret, a school principal that is a serial killer and other story lines I can't really discuss or I would ruin the fun for you all.
I will go as far to say that this is the best Halloween movie in years. It's beautiful to look at, the performances are strong and the stories are all very interesting.
I can't say anything bad about this movie, I loved everything about it. Some people say that it lacked conflict and resolution, but I don't think it did.
The movie also had Sam, as seen in the picture above. Sam is all about Halloween and if you break the rules of the Holiday, he'll make sure you pay. He is as cool as Jason, Michael and Freddy.
What makes me mad is that they didn't believe in this movie enough to release it into theaters and it's a lot better then most of the recent horror films that have come out.
I strongly recommend this to everyone who loves horror and Halloween movies.

31 Days of Horror 3: Aliens

DAY 19
Alien was all about the slow build up and the tension, which made is a classic, but when it comes to James Cameron's flawless sequel we get a much faster and scarier movie.
The film is about the lone survivor (ok ... the cat survived too) Lt. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver). She is awaken from cryo-freeze only to met by skepticism when she tells her story about the Aliens. This skepticism starts to dissolve when colonists disappear on LV-426. A team of Marines are sent to investigate, along with Ripley, and what they find is of course the acid spitting Aliens.
This is what a sequel should be. This movie got everything right and it's because Cameron understands plot. He stages the action around what's going on in the story and never falls to a mechanical approach, which makes this movie superior to all the Alien films that came after it and films of this type.
Now, is it better then the first? Well, that's a very hard question, but I would say that Aliens is slightly better. Alien is an amazing movie, don't get me wrong, and it really set the template for other films in the franchise and of its kind. Cameron then came in, took that template and evolved it and the result was a much more adrenaline filled film that sees one of the best performances given by Weaver.
I strongly recommend this movie and the first one to everyone. They are both true classics.

Monday, October 18, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives

DAY 18
I'm a huge Friday the 13th fan, if you haven't noticed by looking at my blog. I love the series, even if it has some low points (Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X). Yet, my favorite films are the ones that were made when Paramount still owned the franchise. That would include movies I through VIII.
I picked Part VI to be included on this list because it was the first in the series to really be obvious about it's campiness. Yes, the installments that came before it had their fair share of tongue-in-cheek humor but nothing like what part VI accomplished.
The movie brings back Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews), who, as a kid, killed Jason Voorhees. Ever since then he hasn't been so sure if Jason was truly dead or not. This is where the film begins, we see Tommy with his friend driving to a graveyard to dig up Jason. They do end up digging him up and one thing leads to another and lightning resurrects Jason and now he's back and ready to kill.
I love how they use a very Frankenstein way in bringing Jason back from the dead and I also like how the movie pulls off a James Bond opening with Jason. It's these things that make this installment so much more special.
The film has a sense of humor and also a decent story, I still think the original Friday the 13th had the best story, but Part VI knows what it wants to accomplish and it does.
Now, I can't talk about Jason Lives without mentioning the infamous Alice Cooper song, "He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)", the song is just pure '80's but it fits so well with this movie.
Jason Lives isn't the best Friday the 13th film but it's the most entertaining. Director, Tom McLoughlin took the Friday formula and changed it up a bit. Some things worked better than others but it was refreshing to have some new things added to the franchise.
I recommend this movie to everyone; I recommend this entire franchise to everyone. Friday the 13th is most likely my favorite horror franchise and I think everyone should watch them at least once.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: The Howling

DAY 17
The Howling is a classic when it comes to werewolf movies.
TV reporter, Karen White (Dee Wallace) has a traumatic experience at work so she checks into a California resort called The Colony to relax. On the first night she hears howling outside and then she soon discovers she is staying in a colony of werewolves. She then fights for her life, so she can expose their secret.
The movie is filled with horror movie references, listen to some of the character names, and real scares.
This is no American Werewolf in London but it's a pretty close second. I love these old werewolf movies, because they stick to the classic formula. You shouldn't mess around with movie monsters such as werewolves or vampires, I mean you can tweak them or add something new, but I always think that they should stick to what made them classic.

31 Days of Horror 3: The Crazies (1973)

DAY 16
Another George A. Romero film, which isn't the best, but still good.
In a small town of Pennsylvania, a government plan crashes carrying biological weapons. This deadly weapon seeps into the water supply and anyone who drinks it becomes crazy and murderous. David (Will McMillan), a firefighter and his wife, Judy (Lane Carroll) and a few others attempt to escape the town.
Romero is able to take away the living dead and replace it with ordinary people and it works very well. He is able to keep the nightmare going throughout the entire film.
They did remake this movie and I didn't get a chance to see it yet, but I heard nothing but great things about it.

31 Days of Horror 3: The House of the Devil

DAY 15
Sorry about the delay but I'm back with a movie that its reminiscent of old fright flicks.
Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) is a college student who needs some money. She soon takes a job babysitting on the night of a full lunar eclipse and ends up in a fight for her life. Her employers, Tom (Tom Noonan) and Mary (Mary Woronov) are hiding a dark secret.
The themes of the movie are very familiar. Yet, the film had the guts to get rid of all the horror cliches and stand on its own two feet and it does it well.
It might be slow building for some people and the narrative, at times, can be uneven, but there is no denying that this is a great modern horror film.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

DAY 14
A 1950's monster movie at it's best. Yeah it's cheesy and the story might never get exciting but the special effects are classic '50's monster movie.
The movie was directed by Eugene Lourie and it stared Paul Christian, Ross Elliott and Cecil Kallaway. It was based off of Ray Bradbury's short story "The Fog Horn."
The film is about a rhedosaurus, who has been frozen in ice, being awaken by atomic testing in the Arctic. The creature then gets mad, rises out of the sea and takes revenge on the city of New York.
That's basically it. The story is nothing special but this film set the template for Atomic Age Behemoth movies that would come after.
I recommend this movie to anyone who can appreciate monster movies and the cheesy special effects that they were capable of back in the 1950's. Just look at the picture above of the movie and that's basically what you're getting for special effects. It's great.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: Creepshow

Day 13
Satirical and creepy, Creepshow is one of those horror anthologies that actually works.
The movie is based off of the E.C. comic books of the 1950s. George A. Romero took the directors chair as Stephen King wrote the screenplay and the end result was a movie about radioactive meteorites, an odd Father's Day party, cockroaches and a monster in a crate. It sounds odd, and it is, but trust me when I say it's a good odd.
The movie has performances by Ed Harris, Ted Danson, Adrienne Barbeau, Hal Holbrook, E.G. Marshall and even Leslie Nielsen.
The only bad thing about this movie is that it's uneven in some places. Yet, this is still a great movie that is simple and and scary at the same time.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: Killer Klowns from Outer Space

DAY 12
There is nothing funny or fun about Clowns and when they are in horror movies it just makes them even more creepier. Killer Klowns from Outer Space might be a cheesy B-movie but there is no denying that the clowns are scary and the movie is an ultimate guilty pleasure.
The movie is about a group of aliens that are killer clowns. They come down to earth to start harvesting a small-town, they place their victims in a cotton candy cocoon and then eat them later. The authorities don't do anything about this clown invasion, so it's up to two teens, Mike Tobacco and Debbie Stone (Grant Cramer and Suzanne Snyder) to fight the klowns and save their friends.
This movie is great on how it is able to blend a monster movie with an alien movie and have it come out well. It also has a great sense of humor about itself.
With that sense of humor does come a lot of goofiness, which is not a bad thing. I recommend this movie all the time and it's not overly scary or gory and it's something everyone should check out at least once.

Monday, October 11, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: The House on Sorority Row

Day 11
Not the best movie by any means but has that '80's horror B-movie charm.
Housemother (Lois Kelso Hunt) has a falling out with seven sorority sisters who then plot revenge. This plot leads to an accidental death. The girls cover up the crime and then are targeted by someone who knows what they did.
This film falls in the same category as Troll 2. These films are so bad that you just need to experience them once. Some parts of the movie are interesting and it does try to add something new to the slasher films but it's not Halloween or Friday the 13th.
I wouldn't recommend this movie to everyone but for those of you who love really low-budget '80's slasher movies, this is definitely for you.

31 Days of Horror 3: Bram Stoker's Dracula

Day 10
Dracula has been in a number of films but it's this one that pulls the character back from being campy and made his a force to be reckoned with.
Gary Oldman is the man in the cape this time around and he leaves his prisoner, Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) in Transylvanis as he ventures into London to find Mina Harker (Winona Ryder). Mina Harker looks exactly like Dracula's dead wife, Elisabeta. Then comes Dr. Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins) sets out to kill Dracula and end the curse.
First thing the visuals in this movie is great, but the flaw the film does have is the overcrowded story. Somethings should have been trimmed down.
Francis Ford Coppola directed this time around and truly made a film that brings Stoker's novel to life with style.

31 Days of Horror 3: Zombieland

Day 9
It's new and I try to stay away from really new films but this one is sharp and entertaining that it must be mentioned.
I still say that Shaun of the Dead is the best comedy or romantic comedies with zombies. Yet, Zombieland comes in at a close second.
The movie starts with Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), who isn't your typical zombie movie kind of guy. He is one of the few survivors of some sort of zombie invasion in the United States, which got the United States the new name - The United States of Zombieland. He soon joins forces with Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), yeah their all named after states they are from, who loves to take on the zombies. Then we have Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and Wichita (Emma Stone) who are journeying to a "safe" amusement park.
The movie does have it's scary moments but there is more laughs than scares here. This movie is destined to become a cult classic and I recommend it to everyone. Also, there is a great cameo in this movie, I won't say who it is but it's one of the best cameo's I've seen.

31 Days of Horror 3: The Host

Day 8
Monster movies run from really good to just bad and this one, out of Korea, is very good.
It's about a giant squidlike monster, which is the product of toxic chemical dumping. The squid monster soon takes the daughter of a snack bar owner, Hie-Bong (Hie-Bong Byeon). He doesn't take this lightly and tracks down the monster.
This is one of the best monster movies ever made. It's full of all the things that made the 1950's monster films fun and exciting to watch. It also works well as a satire.
I can't really find flaws with it's very well rounded.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer

Well ... it might not be the cult classic it set out to be, but it's heart is in the right place and if you give it a chance you will be surprised on how good it actual is.
The movie is about Jack Brooks (Trevor Matthews) who, as a kid, witnessed his family murdered by a monster. Because of that he developed a uncontrollable anger problem, which his girlfriend, Eve (Rachel Skarsten) hopes to cure his anger problem. The class is being taught by Professor Gordon Crowley (Robert Englund) who soon goes through some strange changes, which forces Jack to rise up as the hero and defeat the evil that rests inside Crowley and others.
The monsters in this movie are fantastic. They aren't CGI, they are people in suits, which, with the right lighting, look amazing. The creature that kills his family in the beginning is one of the scariest looking things I've seen.
The movie is also very refreshing because there is no CGI in any shot. This is a CGI free movie and it still looks amazing, which only proves that CGI is not needed in everything.
The story could have been stronger though. It definitely knows where it wants to go and just goes, which is good and bad. I wish there was a little more character development.
With all that said this is really a throwback to '80's style horror films and is worth watching.

NOTE: There will be a slight delay in these heading into the weekend, but will be back to normal by Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: The Faculty

Here is another Robert Rodriquez film, one that is not as good as From Dusk Till Dawn and it might not have the deepest story but its still a great popcorn film.
The movie is about a group of teens that attend Herrington High and they believe their teachers are from another planet. Soon the students do discover that there is an alien infection but they might have the solution to the problem.
First, let me get the negative out of the way. Yes, all the students are stereotypes, it's not the most original and some scenes can drag on. With that said, let's look at the positive. In areas of the film it can be very smart, it's entertaining and it has a lot of Rodriquez charm in it.
If your looking for a fun horror film, that you can turn your brain off for, this would be it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: From Dusk Till Dawn

Here is a movie that is, at first, a crime drama and then transforms itself into a vampire movie. That made a lot of people mad but there is no denying that this is B-movie greatness.
The movie is about two brothers, Seth (George Clooney) and Richard Gecko (Quentin Tarantino), who are robbers the police are hunting down and they are racing them to the Mexican border. During their great escape they take ex-preacher, Jacob Fuller and his daughter, Kate Fuller and his son, Scott Fuller hostage. They all get into Mexico and then the plot switches once the group settles down in a bar that turns out to be the home of vampires.
Many people hated how the plot totally brought them into a new direction when the movie was already half over. I can understand this, because for the first half it's a really good crime drama and really didn't need the vampires to come up at all but I'm glad they did.
Robert Rodriquez is a great director and really pulls this one together. He plays tribute to the 1960s Mexican horror movies and he does it well. Yeah it can get tongue-in-cheek, but that's what I like about it the most.

Monday, October 4, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: Fright Night

Here is a movie that I missed the first two times I did these lists and I don't know why, because this movie is awesome.
Fright Night came out in 1985, so it has all the 80's horror goodness, and centers around Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) who discovers that his next door neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is a vampire! Soon Dandridge starts to stalk Brewster, so he turns to a washed up actor, Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) to help him defeat Dandridge.
This movie is great! I loved every minute of Fright Night and it's a film ever horror fan should watch. Everyone does a fine job in their performances but it's McDowall who steals the show.
I just re-watched this film, while I was putting together the list, and one thing I did notice this time around is that it really spoofs things in the style of Scream, way before Scream did it, which makes it a true original.
It's goofy, scary and one hell of a good time. Go pick up a copy of Fright Night!

31 Days of Horror 3: The Monster Squad

Think The Goonies meeting the Universal Monsters and you would have The Monster Squad. A film that has a cult following but never got the mainstream attention it deserved.
The movie is about Dracula who, of course, wants to rule the world. He goes about this by finding legendary monsters such as Wolf Man, Gill Man, the Mummy and Frankenstein's Monster. Yet, he didn't plan on a group of kids foiling his plans.
The movie is not scary, but it's awesome and a good Halloween movie for families to sit down and enjoy.
I do believe that the script could have been much stronger and we could of went without Gill Man. I still like the movie, but it does seem to try and fit together so much and in the end it doesn't all work.
With that said, that's all the negative that I really have to say about the film. It defiantly caters to those who enjoyed the horror classics but that is not a bad thing ... for anyone.
The film was released on DVD and Blu-Ray and it's not that hard to find. If your interest is now sparked, don't hesitate and pick this one up.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: Swamp Thing

It might feel cheesy now, but its still fun to me after all these years.
Swamp Thing was directed by Wes Craven and a few of his movies have made it onto these lists in the past. I wouldn't say this is Craven's best work but it's not bad and it's entertaining. Plus it has Carnivale's Adrienne Barbeau in it.
The plot revolves around Dr. Anton Arcane who survived an incident with a special chemical, but now he is not a man anymore but a swamp plant monster!
In my opinion there is a lot of similarities in this film that are also in other monster movies, such as King Kong and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Those two movies I enjoyed more but Swamp Thing has its own kind of charm.
After the original movie the series continued in a sequel, then a live action TV series and then an animated TV series. So, Swamp Thing continued living long after 1982.
If you haven't checked out Swamp Thing yet, you should. It's a fun movie.

Friday, October 1, 2010

31 Days of Horror 3: Troll 2

Welcome back to the third year of the 31 Days of Horror. Remember these movies are not in any order. Also, this year sequels will also be making the list starting with the classic bad movie - Troll 2.
The film centers around a kid named Joshua Waits, whose family vacation is being brought down by plant eating goblins. Yes, goblins not trolls. He tries to stop these goblins with the help of his dead grandfather - yeah it's weird.
You might be thinking if they're plant eating goblins then why are the humans afraid of them? Well, they, the goblins, give humans this green substance, which you have to eat, and then the humans turn into this green plant like substance.
The movie is bad, but it's good, if that makes any sense. I will admit when I saw this movie as a kid it scared me, I wouldn't eat anything green. Now its just hilarious.
The film is considered to be the worst if not THE worst movie of all time, which has also made it a legend. The best thing for this film was to be called the worst movie of all time, because it triggered people's interest. Now on Oct. 5, 2010, it will be re-released on DVD and Blu-Ray and I would say everyone should pick up a copy.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Come Stay At The Severed Inn

It’s time to look at Legion Film’s local horror film The Severed Inn.
The Severed Inn was an originally part of another movie the company was making called Mind Morgue, in which it was a short story titled The Collector. The segment soon took on a life of its own and became a full length film.
Let’s get into the review. First, I want to talk about Shawn C. Phillips and M. Kelly a.k.a M.J. Kelly, they played the sons, Louie and Archie, of Inn owner Uncle Bob who was brought to life by Paul Braccioforte. I’ve been watching Phillips YouTube channel Coolduder for sometime and nice to see someone with a love of horror able to be in these types of movies. Phillips and Kelly play of each other well and they give the best performances of the film.
Now, let’s talk about the severed body parts. The film is actually about a man running an inn that makes home made sausage out of people and then serves it to his paying guests. He makes this sausage by cutting up people and then grinding parts in a meat grinder. When we see severed body part in the film they are done well.
Now let’s move over to the story. I basically explained the plot above and my honest opinion this is where the film really lacks. There were just too many things going on, we have Uncle Bob’s son picking up girls for their father, three people getting stranded in the middle of nowhere, a young couple vacationing in the inn with an older couple and Uncle Bob making breakfast and barbequing, there is a lot going on and it all leads to an anti-climatic end.
The story could have been much stronger if they just adjusted everything. First, I would have dropped that young couple, their performances weren’t great and their story was not even interesting to watch. Dropping that young couple would have made the three stranded characters storyline stronger, because they could have had more screen time. Yet, the storyline they should have really expanded on was Archie and Louie’s, that’s your movie right there. The film just needed really to cut down on characters so they could have developed Uncle Bob and his sons more.
The other thing that bothered me was the cell phone and no signal dialogue. I know that a lot of horror movies now days feel the need to establish that their characters are cut off from the world but can we find another way of doing this? I don’t need them to tell me time and time again that they have no bars. If you don’t have bars why don’t you head back the way you came until you get bars – problem solved.
Summing everything up, the Severed Inn shows promise where the effects are concerned but for the story and some of the acting is where the film gets dragged down. Yet, watching the movie you see promise in little pieces of it and with more experience these pieces can eventually grow and come together.
If you are interested in purchasing the film, you can do so on their website at

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Interview With Tantric

Bleachers brought another big band to the city, and it was Tantric.
Tantric, made up of Hugo Ferreira on vocals, Marcus Ratzenbeck on Electric Violin, Joe Pessia on guitar, Erik Leonhardt on bass and Kevin Figueiredo on drums.
In 1999, the band came together when three former members of Days of the New — Jesse Vest, Todd Whitener and Matt Taul — and Merge singer Hugo Ferreira started the band C-14. The name C-14 was later changed to Tantric and the group was signed to Maverick Records.
The guys’ first album was self-titled and debuted in February 2001, reaching No. 193 on the Billboard 200. The album went platinum because of the hit single “Breakdown” and the touring they were doing with Kid Rock and Creed at the time.

In 2004, they released their second album, “After We Go,” but the band, as it was, ended. The third album introduced new band members Pessia, Leonhardt, Ratzenboeck and Figueiredo. Ferreira brought them all together and they brought Tantric back from the dead.

The third album, “The End Begins,” spawned the Top 5 Active Rock single “Down and Out.” The song has a very well known opening thanks to the talents of Ratzenbeck on his violin.

Ratzenbeck has a long history of playing various instruments, starting with the guitar while he was in middle school and then moving onto the violin and even playing in orchestras.

“I wasn’t performing rock at all,” said Ratzenbeck. “I was teaching violin at the University of Louisville and I got into some session work and then playing as a ringer for some bigger bands.”

Ratzenbeck grew up around music and listened to mostly everything.
“I was big into Led Zeppelin, but I listened to whatever my dad was listening to,” said Ratzenbeck. “I listen to pretty much everything.”
Yet, when Ratzenbeck and the rest of Tantric are on tour, he doesn’t pay much attention to the radio.
“I stay out of touch,” he said.
Tantric has toured with some great bands in the past, but a few bands really stuck out for them.
“We really like playing with Shinedown, Three Doors Down and Alice in Chains, because a lot of our fans are Alice in Chains fans,” said Ratzenbeck.
The band put together their latest album, “Mind Control,” after touring for two years, headlining and supporting bands like Saliva and Drowning Pool. “Mind Control” came together not in a rehearsal space, but from the band member’s homes scattered across the United States. What they wrote separately, they’d send as electronic files to Ferreira, who would make them into working demos. “It was a really unique way of approaching a record,” said Ferreira. “It was definitely more of collaboration than the last record in terms of writing. And we wrote it together even though we were thousands of miles apart. I don’t know how, but we really wrote an incredible record in a short period of time. I’ve always wanted to make a record like this.”

With a host of popular singles, Tantric touches on all their hits from all the records. Yet, when deciding which one is Ratzenbeck’s favorite to perform, it becomes a very tough decision.

“It’s really hard to pick, it’s like picking one of your children. The highest energy level is ‘Down and Out,’” he said.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

2010 Fall Premiere Schedule

Wednesday, September 8
Hellcats - The CW

Thursday, September 9
The Vampire Diaries - The CW
Nikita - The CW

Monday, September 13
90210 - The CW
Gossip Girl - The CW

Tuesday, September 14
Parenthood - NBC
One Tree Hill - The CW
Life Unexpected - The CW

Wednesday, September 15
Outlaw - NBC

Sunday, September 19
Boardwalk Empire - HBO

Monday, September 20
Castle - ABC
Hawaii Five-O - CBS
House - Fox
Lone Star - Fox
Chuck - NBC
The Event - NBC
Chase - NBC

Tuesday, September 21
Detroit 1-8-7 - ABC
NCIS: Los Angeles (two-hour premiere) - CBS
Glee - Fox

Wednesday, September 22
The Whole Truth - ABC
Criminal Minds - CBS
The Defenders - CBS
Undercovers - NBC
Law & Order: SVU (two-hour premiere) - NBC

Thursday, September 23
My Generation - ABC
Grey's Anatomy - ABC
Private Practice - ABC
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - CBS
The Mentalist - CBS
Bones - Fox
Fringe - Fox

Friday, September 24
Medium - CBS
Blue Bloods - CBS
Human Target - Fox
The Good Guys - Fox
Smallville - The CW
Supernatural - The CW

Sunday, September 26
Desperate Housewives - ABC
Brothers & Sisters - ABC

Tuesday, September 28
No Ordinary Family - ABC
The Good Wife - CBS

Wednesday, September 29
Law & Order: Los Angeles - NBC

Sunday, October 3
CSI: Miami - CBS

Sunday, October 31

The Walking Dead - AMC

Wednesday, November 10
Lie to Me - Fox

Drzewiecki vs. Carroll

The college football season kicked off last night and continues through Monday night, but for Executive Sports Editor Brad Carroll and myself it had already begun.
Carroll and I sat down for the first time in awhile to play a few games of EA Sports’ Madden and a game of NCAA Football.
I’m just going to get to the interesting stuff and not bore you about how I destroyed him in Madden as I believe the score of our final game was 53-13.
Clearly Mr. Carroll can’t beat me in Madden, so I was confident going up against him in college. And I jumped out of the gate extremely quick. In no time, I, playing as Southern Cal, led 28-7 over his Florida Gators.

Of course, with what I’ll call a decided computer-cheat advantage, Brad and the Gators started their comeback and never looked back.

My demise started once my players decided that they were going to forget to hold onto to the football, as Carroll obviously found the button that allowed him to cause fumbles and intercept passes. I would be fine if it only happened a couple of times, but no, the turnovers kept coming and it allowed Carroll to take the improbable, come from behind victory by the final, 49-42.
I have to admit I was shocked because I talked a big game going in and after a big victory in Madden I was feeling untouchable.
Yet, his huge comeback during the game leads me to believe that he might have planned on the comeback and everything before that was for show. I think he’s a hustler.
Carroll and I will be sitting down again to have a rematch in college football and I’m pretty sure I can walk away with a victory this time ... or not. I don’t want to be that confident because it didn’t work out the last time.
Now if you are one of those people who still haven’t gotten into the wonderful world of sports gaming, I think it’s about time you try.
This year’s college game has several new features and tweaks that make it worth picking up for the $60 price tag.
The assignment AI gives you new running lanes to double-team blocking. This makes the offensive performance feel more in-depth and that can only be a good thing. The next feature is the locomotion system. This system has an all-new authentic running mechanics. You will be able to stop your momentum when you want to and also rebalance yourself after an over-pursuit.
That feature made me remember something and that’s the speed of college players in the game. Why are they so fast? They’re not that fast in real life and when Carroll and I were playing one of my guys moved so fast he was almost a blur, it was like watching the Flash (yeah I just made a comic book reference, don’t judge me).
In other news, EA Sports will be releasing its new NHL game titled simply NHL 11 this upcoming Tuesday. These games in the past have really raised the bar for hockey games and this year they have a whole new real-time physics engine that promises to bring even more realism.
EA is making some huge promises with this game, the biggest being this will be the most complete hockey game that has ever been created.
Let’s hope they can live up to that or there is going to be a lot of dissapointed hockey fans out there ... like Paul Angilly. Although I don’t think Angilly plays hockey games.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Madden NFL 11 Offers New Modes

Madden NFL 11 will be hitting store shelves this Tuesday and it is one of the biggest sports game releases of the year, but is it worth buying?

Let’s get into it and look at some of this years’ features. First we have the new Online Team Play. This mode will allow you to play 3 vs. 3 cooperative play on-line. This could be a lot of fun for people who enjoyed playing co-op mode in last year’s Madden. I personally didn’t like the co-op mode, so this is probably a feature I wouldn’t use that often.

The next feature is GameFlow. This is the one to look forward to. This new system will reinvent play-calling with a more authentic approach. The feature will create a game plan based on the down and the situation, which has said to make your game move quicker. The feature will also have audio advice enabled for your headset and will tell you how to execute the play.

Those are two really great new features, but there is also disappointment in the game. Three of the games big modes, On-line Franchise, Offline Franchise and Superstar mode will not offer anything new this year. They’ve not been touched so don’t expect any huge updates for them, because you’re not going to get anything. Early reports have also stated that the NFL Network’s weekly show and halftime presentation, which was part of last year’s franchise mode and told you what was happening around the league, has been removed from the game. It might be in the game but what I’ve been reading it’s not.

Other changes in the game are not as huge as GameFlow or On-line 3-on-3 but are changes that are attempting to make your whole Madden experience complete. The new changes include a new audible system, a new kick meter, a new locomotion animation system, lightening improvements, new QB ratings, run blocking changes and a new “Swagger” rating.

The swagger rating is something that is being talked about a lot and it’s essential just an attribute boost. During the game if you make a big play you will receive an attribute boost. The size and length of this boost is determined on the swagger rating. I would rather they just took this out of game ... I don’t want any boosts to help me win.

Madden 11 will also look better and sound better then any other Madden that has come before it. EA Sports has improved the visuals and made some changes to the audio presentation. Tom Hammond will not return this year; he will be replaced by Gus Johnson to call play by play. Yet, Cris Collinsworth will be returning as color commentator.

Moving away from gameplay and features here is the full soundtrack to this year’s game. This year we have some really good songs that will make navigating through the menus more enjoyable. We have AC/DC “Thunderstruck”, Archie Eversole “We Ready”, Blur “Song 2”, Bush “Machinehead”, Gary Glitter “Rock and Roll Part 2 (cover)”, Guns N’ Roses “Welcome to the Jungle”, Joe Satriani “Crowd Chant (cover)”, Kevin Rudolf featuring Lil Wayne “Let It Rock”, Kiss “Rock and Roll All Nite”, Ozzy Osbourne “Let Me Hear You Scream”, Ozzy Osbourne “Crazy Train”, Queen “We Will Rock You (cover)”, The Hives “Tick Tick Boom”, Todd Rundgren “Bang the Drum All Day”, Ying Yang Twins featuring Homebwoi “Halftime” and Zombie Nation “Kernkraft (cover)”.

Some good songs, not to crazy about using covers but what can you do. There is also another new thing for songs this year and they come in the form of fight songs. Yes, team fight songs for seven NFL teams will be in game. Here is the list of the fight songs in game: Chicago Bears “Bear Down, Chicago Bears”, Detroit Lions “Gridiron Heroes”, Green Bay Packers “Go! You Packers! Go!”, Miami Dolphins “Miami Dolphins #1”, Minnesota Vikings “Skol, Vikings”, Philadelphia Eagles “Fly, Eagles Fly” and Washington Redskins “Hail to the Redskins”.

Having fight songs in the game is a great direction to go. Yet, with all these new features and tweaks, is the game worth putting up $60 for it? My answer is yes, if you are a huge Madden and NFL fan.

I think the GameFlow mode is something you can really sink your teeth into and if co-op is your thing then the 3-on-3 is for you. If you’re just interested in on-line franchise, offline franchise and superstar and already own Madden NFL 10, there isn’t any reason for me to tell you to go out and buy this one. You’ll be getting the same from those three modes just with updated rosters.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In a Moment the World Changed Forever

It’s time to look at a haunting portrayal of a post-apocalyptic world in John Hillcoat’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, The Road.

The film is about a father and son heading south for the coast in a destroyed America. They are looking for good people and trying to avoid cannibal survivors. They seek supplies in the debris of houses and stores and also have a revolver with two shells. This gun is for either self-protection or the ultimate decision of committing suicide.

I do have to say this up front that the movie is a hard film to watch, because it deals with some very heavy subject matter such as murder, Cannibalism, suicide and other terrible things. So, going into this film you have to be prepared to experience some awful things.

First thing first let’s look at the characters, because in order for us to care about them the performances have to be believable and they are. We have Viggo Mortensen playing Man and Kodi Smith-McPhee playing Boy and they both give top notch performances. You believe everything about their characters and you are actually frightened for them.

Man and Boy’s relationship is done very well and really shows us the complexity of being a parent in such an unforgiving world.

Charlize Theron is also in the film and plays women, she also delivers a great performance; I just hated her character. I guess it was better for me not to like her because it just made Mortensen’s character stronger.

Robert Duvall makes a cameo as Old Man and has a wonderful scene with Mortensen, a scene I won’t get into detail about because it needs to be watched to truly appreciate it.

Besides great performances we have a great story. The story is heartbreaking, dark and unforgiving. It will take all of your endurance to make it through until the end and you will be rewarded for doing so.

The great thing about the story is that it’s a personal experience in a post-apocalyptic world, something that has been really left out from this type of movie in the past.

The direction of the film is also done well and we have John Hillcoat to thank for that. Hillcoat, thanks to the films strong performances, is able to carry this movie all the way to the end effectively.

Now that I’m done talking about the film’s positive points lets move into some negative territory.

One thing that I do believe will be viewed as a negative point in some people’s eyes is the films endless agony. I do have to say that it is something that can get tiresome after awhile, but for me made it more effective at the films end.

Everything else in the movie I thought was fine. Yeah there are some CGI shots that weren’t my favorite and the film can move slowly at times but for me it’s simply one of the best movies I’ve seen in awhile.


Friday, July 23, 2010

The Horror of Zoo Disc Golf

During the summer we see the release of a lot of big sports games, and then there are the smaller games ... the game that are more obscure and off the beaten path, games like WiiWare’s Zoo Disc Golf.
Disc Golf has been very popular on the Nintendo Wii. Games like Wii Sports Resort and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 have nearly perfected it. So, it was only a matter of time that we saw a game dedicated to the sport and that’s what we got in Zoo Disc Golf.

This game was released on the Nintendo Wii’s shop channel in its WiiWare section for $10, which is $10 too much.

The game is ugly and offers little to no fun. Also, why would they choose zoo animals as its characters? That makes no sense at all.

The whole experience will have you asking, “who put this game together and why are they charging us $10?”

If you do ever get the opportunity to play this game, chances are you will want to throw the controller because it’s so hard to play. I’m not talking about the overall difficulty of the game but rather the gameplay, which is simply a piece of garbage. If you can get past the broken gameplay you are still stuck playing the same course, which is even more punishment. Yet, you don’t have to suffer alone, because the game does offer a four player option, so you can torture your friends and family with this sorry excuse of a game.

Then the game has the nerve to keep your scores, but for what? There is no online leaderboards and every time you look at your score you are reminded of the time you lost playing a virtual zoo animal in a disc golf game.

My biggest question is who the heck thought this was a good idea? Yeah, let’s make a disc golf game and have the players play as a kangaroo, a kangaroo that will now haunt me.

The other question I have is why would you release it? Did somebody actually sit down and play this and think it was good?

I feel like they’re laughing at everyone who pays $10 for this game. They should be ashamed, why couldn’t they at least tried to make something passable, I’m not even asking for award-winning, I’m just asking for passable. If they made something passable then I wouldn’t mind so much, but to put something out that is so blatantly bad, well there is no excuse for that.

With all the bad out of the way let’s try to find some good in this game.

Well … it’s set in a zoo that makes their animals play disc golf … that’s kind of funny, but I don’t want to play a game based around that idea.

It’s hard to find anything good in this game. It’s weird, broken and repetitive, which is a shame. If Nintendo is going to have a service where you download exclusive games then it should really put as much attention into those game as it does its other games. Because, when you get a bad game like this it does reflect on Nintendo and Nintendo knows that it can do so much more with its WiiWare games.

Look at the Xbox 360; it just released a game called Limbo on Xbox Live arcade and it’s getting a lot of positive attention, because time was put into that game to make it different and enjoyable. That’s what we should see in WiiWare game. If you want to play a good disc golf game spend the money and pick up either Wii Sports Resort or Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10.

There was another sports game that was released on WiiWare recently by the name of Reel Fishing Challenge II. I haven’t played this one yet, but looking online, I can tell it’s bad. Yet, I just might get it to see how bad it can possibly be.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Someone is Missing

It’s time we dive into Martin Scorsese’s psychological thriller, Shutter Island, and see if it ranks up there with his other work. (NOTE: Spoilers follow)

The film is set in 1954 and U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) has taken on an assignment that leads him to Boston’s Shutter Island Ashecliffe Hospital. His job is to investigate the disappearance of a patient with his newly assigned partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo).

The hospital is filled with the criminally insane and twists and turns arise when he gets deeper into the secrets of the hospital. A hurricane then hits, leaving Daniels and Aule not only to solve the case but to survive what ever is going on behind the hospitals closed doors.

The first thing I want to talk about is the films performances. Everyone in the cast does their job effectively, but the one performance that blew me away was not even from a lead. The performance is that of Jackie Earle Haley who plays George Noyce an inmate in Ward C. He has a small scene with DiCaprio in the middle of the film and he steals it.

Now for the leads, DiCaprio does a nice job, the only problem I had with him was some of his line delivery in a very early scene; it felt like he was reading but after that he gets it together. Ruffalo does a great job and I thought his performance was good consistently though the whole film, same thing for Ben Kingsly character. The only thing I didn’t like about the Kingsly character was that pipe he has; sometimes I feel like he doesn’t know what to do with it. I also feel like that could have used Ruffalo’s character a lot more, in my opinion he was underused.

Now we get to Ted Levine who has a small role as the warden. Those of you who don’t know who Ted Levine is he played Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs and has that infamous voice. He has a small role but puts together a character that blew me away. There is a scene with him and DiCaprio where Levine discusses violence and it’s such a well acted and written scene that it has become my favorite of the film. Besides from that one scene, Levine is just in the background not doing much, which is a waste.

So the film has solid performances but what about story? Well the film’s story is very well constructed and has a steady narrative until the final act, where things start to be hurried along.

The film ends with a twist and the twist is believable, don’t get me wrong, but it’s definitely bloated. The movie doesn’t leave anything for the audience to discover on their own, it tells you everything, which I thought was too much for such a small time space. What I think Hollywood forgets is that audience’s have comprehension skills to the point we don’t need to be told every little thing.

The film’s story is based off of a novel by Dennis Lehane who also wrote Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone. To be honest I liked Shutter Island’s premise and story much more than the other two. I found that Shutter Island’s setting and characters were far more interesting and offered the audience something new and different.

Speaking of the setting, Scorsese does a terrific job in creating the island and also building up the feeling of uncertainty and impending doom. It’s a very nice looking film with every shot having quality. The scenes that really stood out to me were the dream sequences that Teddy Daniels has; they are creative, colorful and disturbing.

Summing everything up the film might feel emotionally distant to some, but Scorsese is able to put together a well constructed film and the cast give great performances that make this movie come alive. The third act does hurt it, but not to the point where it makes it a bad movie. It’s a deep film that has many elements, causing you to watch it twice to fully experience and understand everything. It may not be Martin Scorsese’s best work but it’s still very good.