Tuesday, February 23, 2010

LOST 6x05

Every Star Trek fan knows that the even numbered films are all great, while the odd numbered films...not so much. This pattern was broken by JJ Abrams last year when he released the eleventh, and arguably best Star Trek film to date.

My reason for bringing this up is because it seems that so far the sixth season of Lost is following the exact exact same pattern, with the first hour of the season being the exception.

That hour was mega-awesome.

Tonight's episode was Jack-centric, which should have been a dead giveaway that it would not be as phenomenal as last week's. Some of the worst episodes of the series have been centered around Jack. Remember the season 3 episode "Stranger in a Strange Land", with Bai Ling, the episode devoted to explaining why Jack has so many tattoos? Awful.

Not all was bad in tonight's episode, in fact we got yet another major revelation, and it was a great one.

Awesome moments of the week: Hurley's interactions with Jacob, "Why don't you go back to the courtyard?", THE LIGHTHOUSE!, "Why haven't we seen it before?", "Maybe we weren't looking for it.", "That's not Locke, this is my friend."

And that's really about it.

Least awesome moments of the week: Once again, everything in alternate reality Los Angeles. Especially everything pertaining to Jack and his son. On one hand, I think it's interesting how in this reality Jack has a son. It's yet another example of how we are not simply seeing "what would have happened if the plane hadn't crashed?" But rather, we are seeing how the detonation of Jughead has created an entirely new reality, one in which these characters have lived their lives without the guidance of Jacob. On the other hand, I don't think that the relationship between Jack and his son warrants even a fraction of the time that it was given in tonight's episode. There is so much else that I would rather be seeing.

Where is Charles Widmore? Desmond? Walt?

Next week's episode is an even numbered one, which means that we should all be in for an hour of awesomeness!

Let's hope that they break this cycle, and the season reaches a point where EVERY week has me as excited as last week's episode.

2.5 / 5

My Name is Jonah- Teaser Trailer

I've always been intrigued by sub-cultures and the delightfully eccentric weirdos who inhabit them.

Some folks that I know have created a fascinating looking documentary about a man named Jonah Washnis, a 57 year-old self-proclaimed "real life warrior, adventurer and musician" from upstate New York who dresses up in a variety of costume, including Conan the Barbarian and The Punisher, and plays a mean harmonica. I don't really know what to expect from this film, as I have yet to see any footage beyond that shown in the trailer embedded below.

Does Jonah LARP (Live Action Role Play) in his spare time? Does he dress up in costumes and rescue children from burning buildings? Does he fight crime?

I honestly have no idea. But I am extremely intrigued to learn more!

Check out the trailer below and visit the film's official website HERE!

Keep checking back to Awesometown Reviews for news and updates as this project develops...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bioshock 2

I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to video games, primarily when it comes to first person shooters. I love them because they're awesome, and I can get lost in them for hours on end. I hate them because they are difficult. I am not exceptionally good at playing them, and therefore I often spend an awful lot of time under enormous amounts of stress, grinding my teeth, swearing and yelling at the television set.

Reaching the end of a video game is a lot different from reaching the end of a movie. Whenever I complete a great video game I feel two things. First, I'm filled with a ridiculous sense of accomplishment. I stand up and parade around my living room triumphantly; I call friends on the telephone so that they can share in my moment of greatness. Second, I feel a profound sense of loss. After spending so many hours involved with these characters, in this world, the countless moments of aggravation and the excitement felt after each victory, there's a real "what now?" feeling that comes with completing a great game. That's why I'm always so excited to find out when a sequel is being released to a game that I love.

One of the greatest/most frustrating and completely rewarding video game experiences I have had in the past few years was with the original Bioshock on the X-Box 360.

The premise of the original Bioshock is that in the 1950's a city, named Rapture, is constructed beneath the sea. This city serves as a mecca for artists, scientists and free-thinkers to live and work in without any sort of moral or governmental oversight. One of these scientists discovers some chemical that occurs naturally in a rare type of sea slug, a chemical that, once injected into the blood stream, speeds up evolution and gives individuals a wide variety of super-powers (WHAT?!) such as shooting lightning bolts and fireballs out of their hands. The residents of Rapture all become wildly addicted to this chemical and absolute chaos ensues, resulting in some sort of civil war that leaves the city in ruins and inhabited by genetically altered monsters.

There is a lot more to the story, but when you're playing the game what it boils down to is that you're alone in this crazy, scary, art deco looking nightmare city, everything is trying to kill you, and you have to defend yourself by using large weaponry and by shooting lightning out of your hands. Sound awesome? It is.
The scariest, and most difficult enemies that you encounter in the game are called Big Daddies. Big Daddies (as seen at the top of the article in the cover art for Bioshock 2) are enormous hulks in diving suits with giant-ass drill hands.

The thing that originally excited me about Bioshock 2, once details about the sequel began leaking out about a year ago, is that in this game the player gets to control a Big Daddy. I began day-dreaming about what it would be like to run through Rapture, nearly invincible, using my giant drill arm to effortlessly smash and gore everything I saw.

But where would the challenge be in that?

The folks at 2K Games were smart enough to understand that if the player was too powerful, then the game would only be fun for an hour.

I'm happy to say that I'm about twelve hours and half-way through my first run through and I'm still having a lot of fun.

This game is set ten years after the events of the first game, so Rapture is in an even larger state of disrepair, and the remaining inhabitants of the city are even crazier and scarier than they were in the previous game.

Difficulty wise, despite the fact that you're a Big Daddy, this game is every bit as difficult as the first one was, and you seem to die just as easily as you did in the first game when you were just some dude who wasn't in a giant diving suit. Luckily, Rapture is filled with "Vita-Chambers" and every time you die you simply re-spawn in the nearest one. There is an option to turn the Vita-Chambers off, so that when you die the game is over. Personally, I think that's insane, and I would be forever stuck on the first level if I tried to play with that option. But, like I said, I'm really not very good.   

This game, like its predecessor, looks positively amazing. The world of Rapture is one of the most stylistically unique and beautifully rendered environments ever created for a video game. Also like the first game, the story is extremely involving, fun and weird.

I highly recommend this game to anyone who has ever wanted to smash a freak in the face with a drill.

4 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Shutter Island

I love Martin Scorcese. There are few filmmakers in the history of cinema who are as capable of crafting a cinematic tour de force as he is. He is part of a great generation of filmmakers that includes Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, and of that generation he is the only one who is still consistently pumping out kick-ass movies. All of the filmmakers above have each directed at least one total stinker.
Not Marty though.
For me, Scorcese's films generally fall into three categories. There are the masterpieces, this category includes the indisputably awesome Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver and The Departed; there are his films that while good, for one reason or another fall shy of greatness, these include Bringing Out the Dead, Gangs of New York, Kundun and Casino; finally there are the films where it seems he's stepping outside of his comfort zone and experimenting with different genres. This last category includes his remake of Cape Fear, After Hours, The King of Comedy and his latest film, Shutter Island.

Shutter Island is Scorcese's first foray into the horror genre since 1991's Cape Fear. The film, based on a book (which I have not read) of the same title by novelist Dennis Lehane, is set in the 1950's on an island in Boston Harbor that houses a psychiatric institution for the criminally insane. Leonardo Dicaprio and Mark Ruffalo play a pair of U.S Marshals who travel to the island in order to investigate an escaped inmate. Once on the island, the Marshals quickly realize that everyone, including the two lead psychiatrists (portrayed by the always great Ben Kingsley and Max Von Sydow) are keeping secrets from them. It is clear that there is more going on than they had originally expected, paranoia and claustrophobia ensue. This is an extremely tough film to write about without giving anything away, and I strongly recommend that you get yourselves to the theater and check this one out as blindly as possible.

The entire cast deliver outstanding performances, and if this film were released later in the year I would say that Dicaprio would be guaranteed a nomination for next years Oscar. I hope that the Academy, not prized for their long term memory, can keep ol' Leo in mind. This is absolutely the most deeply layered and interesting role he has ever tackled.  

To be honest, there are issues that I have with this film. Again, I'm walking a thin line here while trying to say something without really saying anything, but I will say that in the hands of lesser talent this film could have been a silly convoluted mess. However, in the exquisitely clever paws of Scorcese, and with the enormous amount of talent on the screen, the end result is an extremely creepy, atmospheric thriller that's sure to crawl around in your brain for hours after you finish viewing it.

3.75 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

LOST 6x04


This weeks episode was a solid return to form after last weeks angst filled Kate loves Jack, Kate loves Sawyer, Kate acts in baffling and confusing ways that make the audience wonder how she managed to evade the U.S Marshals for as long as she did in the first place extravaganza.

Awesome moments of the week: The look of abject terror on Richard's face when he is trying to get Sawyer to come back to the temple with him before Locke/Smokey returns, the scale in the cave, "It's an inside joke," "That was after my time,", "That was the strangest funeral I've ever been to," "He's looking for a candidate," "You know you can't kill him," "DON'T TELL ME WHAT I CAN'T DO!"

Most awesome moment of the week: The writing on the wall! Not only the most awesome moment of the week, but one of the best moments in the shows history, and probably the biggest reveal to date.

Least awesome moments of the week: Everything that took place in the alternate timeline Los Angeles. These scenes really don't seem to be amounting to anything other than showing that all of these characters have destinies that are inexorably and unavoidably linked. I'm sure that it's all building towards something, I just wish that it would hurry up and get there so that we can spend more time following the story proper.

I know that I'll be spending the next three months in a constant state of anticipation and anxiety between episodes, over analyzing every little detail. I kind of want to follow in the footsteps of Eric Cartman from South Park, when he froze himself in the snow in order to avoid having to wait for the release of the Nintendo Wii. That solution had terrible results for him though, he remained frozen for much too long and had to deal with a bunch of Atheistic Otters bent on world domination.

So I suppose that, just like everyone else, I will have to remain patient. 

5 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

Monday, February 15, 2010

The 5 Most Awesome Fictitious Presidents of All Time!

There have been many actors who have portrayed the office of the President of the United States throughout the history of film and television. In honor of President's Day, I thought that I would take a look back and compile a list of the 5 most can-do, badass, hardcore Presidents who never were. So, without further ado I bring you:

          The 5 Most Awesome Fictitious Presidents of All Time!!
5. Dennis Haysbert--President David Palmer--24 
Jack Bauer's right hand man for the first four seasons of 24, Palmer was a man who knew how to get the job done while never compromising his principles. His biggest, possibly only, flaw was that he married a contemptible harpy. He is now happily retired and selling auto-insurance somewhere in the mid-west.      

4. Bill Pullman--President Thomas J. Whitmore--Independence Day
President Whitmore was a former fighter pilot during the first Gulf War, so when the world comes under attack by aliens bent on destroying the entire human race, he's not just going to sit idly by and watch other people do the fighting for him. Just take a gander at the expression on his face in the picture above. Those aliens never stood a chance. President Whitmore will next be seen in Michael Winterbottom's The Killer Inside Me.

3. Harrison Ford--President James Marshall--Air Force One
This one should really speak for itself. Han Solo as the President of the United States!! After giving an aggressive speech about how the U.S will not tolerate acts of terror, the President's plane is hijacked by a team of terrorists led by Gary Oldman. President Han Solo then shows these terrorists zero-tolerance as he kills them off one by one. President Marshall can currently be seen portraying some sort of doctor in Tom Vaughan's Extraordinary Measures.

2. Peter Sellers--President Merkin Muffley--Dr Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Alright, he may not be ass-kickingly awesome in the same way that the other Presidents on this list are, but there is no way I could make a list of the "most awesome fictitious Presidents of all time" and not include Merkin Muffley. President Muffley did the best he could when faced with an impossible situation. A lesser President would have just fled from the war room in hysterics. President Merkin can currently be seen calling the President of Russia on the telephone, in the youtube video embedded below:

1. Tommy 'Tiny' Lister--President Lindberg--The Fifth Element
Here he is, the Most Awesome Fictitious President of All Time!! The man who once wrestled against Hulk Hogan as Zeus in No Holds Barred! President Lindberg presided over not just the United States, but the entire World. It is never explained how this one-world government came to be, but it was most likely created because Zeus's awesomeness was so powerful that all of the World's governments voluntarily handed over their power to him. President Lindberg has no fewer than TEN movies coming out in 2010, so you should be able to see him just about anywhere.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Wolfman (2010)

Joe Johnston's new version of the 1941 horror classic, The Wolfman, is a muddled, confusing mess of a film.

Benicio Del Toro's character, Lawrence Talbot, returns from New York City to his family's home in England after hearing the news that his brother has been viciously murdered by some sort of animal. Upon arriving home he is bitten by a werewolf, falls in love with his dead brother's girlfriend, played by Emily Blunt, and works out some long standing daddy issues between him and his father,  played by Anthony Hopkins.

The big problem with this film is that so much has been edited out; its obvious throughout that there are scenes missing. The characters aren't given an opportunity to develop, nothing that happens to them, or between them, seems justified. The love between Del Toro's character and Blunt comes out of nowhere, as does the elder Talbot's hatred for his son.

I haven't seen this much wasted talent in a film since The Lovely Bones. I hope that Joe Johnston does a much better job with his Captain America film due out next year.

One of the best parts of a werewolf movie is the initial transformation scene. Rotten Tomatoes has an article HERE, where they pick the "best and worst werewolf transformations." Interestingly enough they have both The Howling and The Howling 3 on their "best" list, but there is no mention of the most absolutely insane werewolf transformation scene ever filmed. I am speaking, of course, of The Howling 4: The Original Nightmare, which I have embedded for you below.

Behold the oddest, and most awesomely grotesque werewolf transformation of all-time!!! (Skip ahead to the 7 minute 10 second mark):


2 / 5 on the Awesome Meter because I liked the set-design and makeup-effects.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Most Awesome Movies of all Time: Aliens

I'm beginning a new column here at Awesometown. Bi-weekly, or whenever I feel like it, I will pick one of the most awesome movies ever created, and explain why it kicks so much ass. I will attempt to, whenever possible, keep my film choices somewhat relevant. Which brings me to the film that I have chosen for the inaugural edition of:


Eleven years before he directed Titanic and officially appointed himself "King of the World", James Cameron directed a sequel to Ridley Scott's terrifying 1979 science-fiction film Alien. With 1986's Aliens, Cameron accomplished the extremely rare feat of making a sequel that not only lives up to its predecessor (a brilliantly awesome film in its own right) but surpasses it on every level imaginable. Cameron sauntered up to this project, his watermelon sized testicles dangling between his legs, looked at each of the elements that worked for the original Alien, and then injected every one of them with pure testosterone.

I imagine there was a conversation that went something like this:

Ridley only had one alien in his movie, we need to have HUNDREDS of them! What did they use in the first movie to fight the alien with, flamethrowers? Well, I guess flamethrowers are cool, but we need some giant explosive-shooting future-guns for this one, go make them. Instead of a spaceship, lets have the action take place on a planet, instead of a cat, let's have Ripley protecting a little girl. Little girls are like cats, only bigger. Have you read Heinlein's Starship Troopers? I want the Space-Marines from that book in this movie!


There are a lot of filmmakers working in Hollywood today who think that bigger means better. What separates James Cameron from the likes of Michael Bay and Rolland Emerich is that Cameron understands that a movie needs to have heart, in addition to explosions.

Aliens is the granddaddy of Avatar, and it holds up flawlessly twenty-three years after being made.

There is nothing about this movie that doesn't completely kick-ass

James Cameron has yet to make a bad movie. His worst movies are more awesome than most filmmaker's best, and this is one of his greatest achievements.

5 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Escape from New York remake!

According to THIS article in New York Magazine, a remake to the classic 1981 John Carpenter film Escape from New York is officially underway. I guess this project, in various incarnations, has been in the making for sometime. A couple years back there was talk of casting Gerard Butler as Snake Plissken but, for a variety of reasons, that project fell apart.

I have mixed emotions regarding this remake. I absolutely love John Carpenter's original film. Kurt Russel's Snake Plissken is the ultimate archetypal badass anti-hero. I once had a ball-python named Kurt Russel (I know, best name ever) but he died horribly of a degenerative disease when he was little more than a wee hatchling, this is something his namesake never would have allowed to happen. The real Kurt/Snake would have defeated the disease by force. Somehow.

That's how awesome he is. 

I'm optimistic about this movie being remade for two reasons. First, much like Clash of the Titans, this film hasn't aged so well, it will be cool to see how they bring this story into the 21st century. Secondly, I find the following quote, from the article linked to above, to be reassuring:
New Line had to sign a contract with John Carpenter stipulating, among other things, that Plissken "must be called 'Snake'"; "must wear an eye patch"; and that he would — and we're not making this up — "always be a 'badass.'
Awesome. I'm glad to see that Carpenter has an interest in protecting his creation, instead of just taking a paycheck and walking away.  

3 / 5 on the Anticipation Meter


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

LOST 6x03

Alright, let's talk a little bit about truth in advertising, shall we?

ABC's promos for LOST this season have been using the tagline "the time for questions is over," Well, to quote just about every character from the program, "don't tell me what I can't do!" Not only do I still have about a zillion questions left over from previous seasons, why are Dharma supply drops still occurring years after the entire Initiative has been "purged" from the island? Why doesn't Richard age? What's the deal with Walt? And what does the mysterious Alvar Hanso have to do with all of this?, but each episode so far this season has introduced even more questions for the viewers to ponder over.

You know what? I'm fine with that. It's the questions that keep the viewer engaged. The show's writers have repeatedly assured us that ALL of the questions will be answered by the time the series finale ends, and I believe them, but don't lie and tell us that the time for questions is over. Because that just isn't true. Yet.

This weeks episode slowed things down quite a bit after last weeks two hours of non-stop HOLY CRAP DID YOU SEE THAT? awesomeness. But I suspect that things will begin picking up extremely quickly. It was great seeing It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia creator Rob McEllheney reprise his role as Aldo, and the show ended with a great hook that has me breathless in anticipation for next week.

3.75 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

Are you ready for 24: The Movie?

Variety is reporting that a 24 movie is officially underway. Personally I haven't seen an episode of 24 since the third or fourth season. I have every intention of adding the series to my netflix queue and catching up with it at some point, but it's a huge commitment, and something I don't really have time for right now. I am well aware, however, that many people consider this one of the greatest shows of all time and that they consider Jack Bauer to be awesomeness personified.
That's right Jack, fight the power.

Are you folks excited for this one?

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Road Vs. The Book of Eli

John Hillcoat's film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's heartbreaking novel, The Road , and The Book of Eli, directed by the Hughes brothers, share many things in common. For starters, both films are set in the same  colorless, post-apocalyptic wasteland that we've been seeing ever since Mad Max, they both have overtly religious overtones and both films feature heroes who are devoid of humor. There are, however, differences between these two films:

In The Book of Eli, Denzel Washington is bringing the last known copy of the King James bible out west, on foot, because he believes that is what God wants him to do.

In The Road, Viggo Mortensen is bringing his son toward the sea, on foot, because he believes that there may be other people there.

In The Book of Eli, Denzel protects his copy of the bible from falling into the hands of roving cannibals by killing anyone who even looks at him funny. Killing them with a sword!

In The Road, Viggo protects his son from falling into the hands of roving cannibals by hiding, and teaching him how to kill himself.

The largest difference between these two films is the amount of fun the viewer has while watching. The Book of Eli manages to put aside its somber nature every fifteen minutes or so and kick-ass for a while. Old-man Denzel is a believable badass, Mila Kunis is so hot it's silly, and there are explosions a-plenty in the third act. Ray Stevenson from Rome is notable, as is Gary Oldman. Oh, and Tom Waits!--He's only in two or three scenes, but still--Tom Waits!

Conversely, there isn't a single smile to be had while watching The Road. The film has two brilliant performances, is beautifully photographed, and the score by Nick Cave is great, but there is absolutely not a single feel-good moment in the entire thing. It's bleak and depressing from beginning to end, with only the slightest glimmer of hope.

I don't think I could ever bring myself to sit through The Road a second time. During every scene in which Viggo and his son hid from the cannibals I kept waiting for Denzel to show up with his bible and his sword. That would have been awesome.

The Book of Eli: 3 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

The Road:     2.75 / 5

The Final Destination

This is actually the fourth entry in the terrible Final Destination franchise. The movie was released overseas with a '4' attached to its title, but for some baffling reason the 4 was left off here in the U.S.

I vaguely recall seeing the first two films in this series, but remember very little about the first, and even less about the second. In this installment a bunch of people run around saying moronic things and acting in confusing, nonsensical ways while trying not to die. Then, one by one, they die anyway.

This time in 3-D!

There is nothing awesome happening here. Everything about this movie sucks.

0 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Gremlins 3?

Latino Review is reporting HERE that there may be a 3rd Gremlins film in the works, and that if it gets made it will most likely be in 3-D. Can you imagine anything more awesomely cute than Gizmo driving toward you in 3-D?
Neither can I.

Let's keep our fingers crossed that if this film gets made they include that sexy lady-gremlin from 1990's Gremlins 2: The New Batch

3 / 5 on the Anticipation Meter

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Kraken Unleashed!

We all know the age old proverb that says "don't judge a book by it's cover". Well, I have decided to ignore that advice, throw caution to the wind and judge the Clash of the Titans remake based on the poster below:

Clash of the Titans remake, I judge thee Awesome.

5 / 5 on the Anticipation Meter

Source: UGO

Friday, February 5, 2010


I just got home from seeing Adam Green's film Frozen, which opened in wide release today. The premise of this film is simple. Dan, his girlfriend Parker, and his best friend Lynch end up stranded, for reasons I won't go into here, on a ski-lift.

Green uses the first twenty minutes or so of the film to build tension, there are a lot of lingering shots of the creaky old ski-lift machinery. He also goes to great lengths to make it clear to the audience that the characters do not have their cellphones with them. This part of the film moves a bit slowly, but is necessary, and the dialogue and character introductions are much better than they could have been.

Once the sun goes down and the ski-lift stops, things get very bad for these characters, very quickly. The brutality and intensity from this point on is relentless. All three of these actors (Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers and Emma Bell) deliver outstanding performances. It's impossible not to feel compassion for them as they endure one savage cruelty after another.

Anyone who has ever sat through a horror movie with me before knows that I squirm in my seat like a greased pig when I get uncomfortable with what's happening on the screen. Well, I did a lot of squirming tonight. I'm looking forward to seeing this one again, and am very curious to check out Green's cult hit Hatchet.

I wouldn't recommend this film to everyone...but if you're not a giant baby (and you know if you are), and you can handle having your guts roll around in your body for 90 minutes, then you should head over to the multi-plex and check this out.

3 / 5 on the Awesome Meter


What is there left to say about Avatar? For thirteen years no film came within throwing distance of knocking James Cameron's Titanic out of the number one highest-grossing film of all-time slot. It took Cameron himself to break his old record, and he did it by inventing some new technology that he used to create a world unlike anything anyone had ever seen before.

It can be argued all day whether or not Avatar is really the best movie of the year (it's not). The plot is derivative, the characters one-dimensional, and much of the dialogue is cringe-worthy. But the fact of the matter is that somehow none of that matters, because the movie is just flat out fun.

Avatar has dragons fighting spaceships. Awesomely realistic looking dragons fighting spaceships. And if dragons and spaceships clashing in 3-D with floating mountains in the background isn't awesome, then I don't know what is.

Dragons not really your thing? The movie also has a bunch of dudes in giant robot suits fighting other dudes with bows and arrows. ROBOT SUITS.

I would like to see the Academy have Cameron duke it out with his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow (director of The Hurt Locker) to see who gets to take home the award for Best Picture. Instead I think they'll just hand it over to him.

Too bad, Kathryn would kick his ass. 

4 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

The Last Airbender- Super Bowl Spot

I've never seen the cartoon that M. Night Shyamalan's new movie is based on, but I've heard from a whole lot of people that it's plenty awesome. The 30 second Super Bowl spot for it is online, and I've embedded for you here:

Shyamalan's last film was the atrocious The Happening, but he's made more good films than bad in his career, and while I have no idea what is going on in the video above, I think people throwing fire at each other is pretty awesome.

3 / 5 on the Anticipation Meter

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Here's what you need to know about this game: it's new Super Mario Bros. and it's for the Wii!
Clearly the folks over at Nintendo understood that this game was going to sell a billion copies regardless of what they called it, so they gave everyone in the titling department the day off.

If you've ever enjoyed playing Super Mario Bros. in the past, then you probably already own this game, and if you don't then you need to purchase it immediately using the link at the bottom of this post. I was giddy for months leading up to this release. This is fire-ball throwing, brick-bashing, yoshi-riding, koopa-stomping Nintendo 2-D awesomeness just as you remember it. 

For the first time in a Super Mario Bros. game you can play with up to four people simultaneously, though not online. Nintendo is way behind the curve when it comes to online multi-player. They're also behind the curve when it comes to releasing good games for their system. Both Playstation 3 and X-Box 360 offer far greater selections of quality games than the Wii does. That makes this game all the more spectacular.

I just realized that I have yet to mention the fact that the koopas dance along with the music. Yes, as if you weren't excited about this game already, there are dancing koopas waiting for you to stomp on them.

I have one complaint for Nintendo, why have I not been able to play as Raccoon Mario since way back in Super Mario Bros. 3? Every flying costume since Mario 3 has paled in comparison. Please take this into consideration before releasing Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii. 

4 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

District 9

A few years back Peter Jackson was producing a film based on the enormously popular Halo video game franchise. Due to studio ineptitude the project completely collapsed five months into pre-production. Jackson then handed the film's director, Neil Blomkamp, $30 million dollars and told him to go make any film he wanted. Blomkamp then set out to make an allegorical movie about his childhood, spent in Apartheid South Africa.

HOLY CRAP! Blomkamp took that $30million dollars, which in Hollywood is pocket change-- most directors can't put together a romantic comedy for twice that amount-- and made a kick-ass sci-fi flick with special effects that look better than most films with eight times it's budget. 

District 9 is awesome on several levels. As an allegory, it made me realize how much we, the human race, really suck at treating each other. Towards the end of the film I found myself being embarrassed to be a human being, because our capacity for fear and hatred of anything that we don't understand seems to know no bounds.

The aliens, spaceship and weaponry all look exceptionally cool, and there are plenty of exploding heads and limbs ripped off. Awesome. Oh, and a really cute alien toddler. Who doesn't like adorable alien children?

Newcomer Sharlto Copley probably should've gotten an Oscar nod, but didn't.

Sorry, Sharlto! 

I can't believe that there are TWO movies with aliens in them that are nominated for best picture this year. This movie doesn't stand a chance of winning the 2009 Academy Award for Best Picture, because that other movie with aliens has grossed approximately twelve-octillion dollars world-wide.

4 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


If you have ever been in love with anyone, or anything, it is impossible to watch the first fifteen minutes of Up
without blubbering like a baby into your sleeve. If you're the type of person who likes to present yourself as an unfeeling android, you may want to avoid watching this film in front of other people.

I do not think that this is Pixar's greatest movie, that was Wall-E, and I will passionately debate anyone who argues otherwise. Wall-E, as a character, is one of the greatest that Disney has ever created, and the movie is rock-solid awesome from beginning to end.

It is also not Pixar's worst film, that was Cars, feel free to disagree with me on that one, but Paul Newman or not, the movie was about talking cars.

Personally, I'd say that Up ranks third or fourth amongst Pixar's releases-- probably not quite as great as Monsters, Inc. but a little better than Ratatouille.

This is the first time that Pixar has had a movie in the running for Best Picture. For some reason, I have been under the impression that the reason no Pixar film has ever been nominated for B.P is because the studio isn't allowed to submit the same film for consideration as both B.P and Best Animated Film. Apparently, I have been misled, as Up has been nominated for both of those awards this year.

If you're like me and you have a fondness for curmudgeonly old men, talking dogs AND flying houses, then this movie is for you.

It's just that after the emotional ass kicking it hits you with during the opening scenes, the rest of the movie feels a little too predictable and ordinary. 

3.75 / 5 on the Awesome Meter
Chance of winning Best Picture of 2009- 00%
Chance of winning Best Animated Film of 2009- 100%

And the Nominees are...

I'm a day late with this. Here is the list of ten, that's right TEN nominees for the best picture of 2009:
(Clicking on the titles will take you to that film's IMDB page.)


The Blind Side

District 9

An Education

The Hurt Locker

Inglorious Basterds


A Serious Man


Up in the Air

For a complete list of nominations you can visit Oscar at his homepage here.

In case you missed it, you can read my review of The Hurt Locker here.

There are several truly awesome films nominated this year, I'll be getting to the rest of them shortly. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

LOST 6x01-02

I've been completely hooked on this show since about half way through the first season. I haven't missed seeing  a single episode live, and have gone so far as to work my schedule around it for the past five years. Today has been bitter-sweet for Lost fans everywhere. Tonight was the last time we will ever see a season premier. We will never again have to (get to) spend nine months speculating/debating on what the writers have in store for us next season. There are sixteen hours left to go, and if tonight's first two hours were any indicator, they're all going to be non-stop crazy awesome coolness.

I'll be reviewing every episode this season, immediately after they air, and I'll do my best to do so without any spoilers. In the event that spoilers are unavoidable, don't worry, I will give you fair notice. The first two episodes, LA X parts 1 & 2 were amongst the best hours in the shows history, and should help put to rest any of the theories that "the writer's are making this up as they go along." Answers were given while simultaneously, in typical Lost fashion, deepening the shows mysteries.

I'm not sure what else to write at the moment. If you haven't watched Lost for the past couple of seasons because you felt it was getting too convoluted, or you were straining your brain so hard trying to understand what was happening that it began leaking out of your ears , then get to updating your Netflix queues, or borrow the DVD sets from a friend and get caught up. This show has consistently been some of the greatest entertainment that TV has to offer, and you should be there to witness the end.
Hour 1: 5/5
Hour 2: 5/5

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2- Teaser Trailer

A couple of years back, LucasArts announced that they would be releasing a Star Wars video game in which the player takes control of a character so powerful that he can crash a Star Destroyer using only the power of the Force. I couldn't have been more excited. Just look at the sheer awesomeness taking place in the image above.

The actual game, much like everything Star Wars related from 1999 on, was a HUGE disappointment.

Well, LucasArts has put together a sequel, and I have no doubt that I will be ultimately disappointed by it, but that doesn't stop me from squealing with glee during the final minute of the teaser trailer below:

Please let this entire game be about fighting giant monsters in a gladiator arena.


Monday, February 1, 2010

(500) Days of Summer

Joseph Gordon Levitt + Zooey Deschanel + The Smiths= Awesome.

I was cautiously optimistic going into this one. I really enjoyed the trailer and also enjoy the soundtrack, but I've been burned in the past by the "non-traditional" romantic-comedy. They tend to be every bit as sappy and devoid of testosterone as most traditional rom-coms are. I'm looking at you, The Break-Up starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston.

(500) Days of Summer hits a lot of the usual romantic-comedy story beats, but manages to do so without ever feeling too cliche. There are enough unexpected moments throughout the script to keep even the most jaded cynic interested.

Joseph Gordon Levitt has made some very interesting film choices (The Lookout, Brick) over the past few years, while the always adorable Zooey Deschanel seems to base her roles off of the advice from a magic 8-ball (The Happening, Tin Man). This is a career high for both of them.

One final note: as many of you already know, Sony scrapped production on Spider-Man 4 a couple of weeks back and removed the entire original cast and crew from the project. A reboot (yay?) of the franchise went into production almost immediately, and (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb is at the helm. It'll be interesting to see what he does with the material.


Under the Dome

Stephen King's newest book, Under the Dome, is 1074 pages long and weighs in at close to three pounds. That's a lot of book. Unfortunately, the story contained within the book is nowhere near grand enough to warrant the amount of space that it takes up.

The premise of an entire town being trapped beneath a mysterious impenetrable force field, resulting in a Lord of the Flies-esque battle of good vs. evil is an intriguing one. It captured my attention for the first 300 or so pages, until I settled into "just keep reading, gotta get to the end, maybe it'll all be worth it" mode.

King introduces the reader to a seemingly endless parade of stereotypes, each of whom serve no purpose in the story other than to die in horribly uncreative ways. There is not a single character in this novel who is even slightly believable or enjoyable. Dozens of plot lines between the characters are introduced for absolutely no reason whatsoever. ***Spoiler*** Instead of resolving anything, King creates a plot device near the end of the novel that wipes out 99% of the town's population. For an author who has been criticized for not knowing how to end a story for his entire career, the ending to Under the Dome may be his weakest to date.

And what is the cause of this mysterious dome? I'm not going to spoil that for you here, but it's really, really stupid. Alright, it's aliens. Unsupervised alien children who are playing with us the way that we play with ants under a magnifying glass.

If you want to read 1,000+ pages of Stephen King read The Stand, or It, or Salem's Lot 3 times.