Archive for October, 2008

Friday Movie Blogging 10-31-08: Happy Halloween!


via videosift.com

Movies I saw this week:

Max Payne
Rating: C-

“Max Payne” wasn’t quite exactly everything it should’ve been. All the elements from the game were there, but were somehow re-arranged to form a completely different story. Then the movie decided that with a punny title like “Max Payne,” we should be treated to a full hour of murder investigation, reading paperwork, and talking to witnesses before anybody even starts feeling pain. It’s not entirely bad, but the movie could’ve been A-material if they’d managed to work in at least two gunfights within the first hour, and kept the original climax of the game (which was pretty much the whole reason to make a movie of out it in the first place. They cheaped out!) Otherwise, the action was pretty awesome when they finally got around to it. I really liked the movie’s art direction and the addition of the valkyries was a nice touch. But in terms of video game adaptations, this one goes to the other extreme where there’s too much story and not enough action.
Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs
Rating: A

Once again, we’ve got four new episodes of Futurama cleverly woven together to make a movie. This one follows the events of the first movie where Bender accidentally rips the universe a new space-hole, and everyone suddenly find themselves under the threat of tentacle rape (yes, really.) Like the first movie, there’s multiple story arcs going on, but it stays consistently funny and original.
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Rating: B+

“Journey” was one of my favorite books as a kid, and Brendan Fraser’s always been one of my favorite guilty pleasure actors, so I had to get around to watching this. Probably should’ve seen this in theaters too, since it was made as a 3D movie and you can’t go a few shots without someone holding an object up to the camera. But even as a 3D showcase, it still holds together very well as a decent family action flick. More in the vein of Disney movies than anything, but that’s Walden Media for you. I liked it.

New films opening this weekend:

-The Haunting of Molly Hartley (The scary one where the mom stabs her daughter.)
-Zack and Miri Make a Porno (Seth Rogen making porn. Also scary.)

October 31 2008 | Movies | No Comments »

Game Reviews: The Kingdom Hearts Series

Back in 2000, a Square Enix producer (Final Fantasy) met up with a Disney executive in an elevator and the two of them tossed around the idea of taking their respective properties and jumbling it all up into one game – a crossover move that would give even “Archie meets the Punisher” a run for it’s money. The end result was an animator’s wet dream, mixed in with some of the trippiest action gameplay and story-telling I’ve ever seen, taking a typical JRPG and putting in a bunch of Disney characters. All of whom you beat the crap out of.

Kingdom Hearts (2002)
Rating: A+

The first game, released for the PS2, follows the story of Sora and his two friends, Riku and Kairi. A bunch of island-ridden kids who dream of going on magical adventures. Then a bunch of monsters show up, eat everyone’s hearts, and suck the world into a flaming hellstorm of darkness. Sora becomes the master of a mystical weapon called the Keyblade and escapes into a alternate dimension where he sets out to find his friends. Eventually he teams up with Donald and Goofy, two court-guards looking for their missing king (Mickey Mouse) who’s the only one that knows what’s going on. They then hop into their dimension-jumping ship and proceed to beat the shit out of everything in the universe.

The game’s settings take the player to many familiar locations from Disney movies, including Hercules’ Olympic Colosseum, Agrabah, and Halloween Town. Along the way, the player encounters the characters from these worlds and usually helps them with their problems before moving on to the next world (like an episode of “Sliders” or “Quantum Leap.”) Along the way, they pick up clues and the story develops into one of those “way too serious and complicated” Japanese video game plots, which usually involves some kind of villain who exists beyond reality and has all kinds of twisted thoughts on the nature of darkness. It often walks the line between being a family game and being Satanic.

The graphics were a huge selling point for me. As an animator myself, I was blown away by all the detail they put into these character rigs. The anime characters are typically standard, with some nice in-game hair and cloth animation, as well as *egads!* facial expressions for once. But the Disney characters have been painstakingly recreated and rigged to accommodate all the necessary mannerisms and facial deformations. It gets to the point where you could blur your eyes and not tell the difference between the character and their 2D counterpart. Even the Genie maintains his hyperactive “all over the place” performance. No motion capture is used and this might stand as one of the most well-animated video games ever made.

The fight scenes are pretty nuts, and usually involve you rushing blindly into battle mashing the X button until everything is dead. You have to keeping mashing the button because the camera’s got a mind of it’s own and all the on-screen characters tend to get in your way. What I really liked was the teamwork feature of the gameplay, where Donald and Goofy are fighting alongside you and often cover your back or pick off enemies trying to flank you. And depending on the world you visit, you’ll often add new characters to fight in your party, like Aladdin or Jack Skellington. It’s a game based on leveling up, but you do get power upgrades and abilities as you move along.

My favorite part of the game is the massive voice cast. Just about all 100+ Disney characters are voiced by one of the original voice actors (including Alice in Wonderland who’s voiced by a 70-year old woman) or one of their successors (Dan Castellanata as the Genie instead of Robin Williams.) James Woods still turns in one of the game’s best performances as Hades. And as a huge Buffy and Final Fantasy 8 geek, my head almost exploded hearing David Boreanaz as the voice of Squall Leonhart.


The negative side of things: as I said before, it’s a typical JRPG. You can’t go a few feet before it drops off into a really emotional cut-scene that explores the meaning of the human heart. Mix that in with the Disneyverse and you’ve got a game where Goofy has all kinds of philosophical theories about life and death. Kind of neat, but very weird. Then you’ve got worlds based on “Alice in Wonderland” and “Winnie-the-Pooh” which are the kinds of worlds you want to finish quickly before someone walks in on you playing a balloon game with Piglet. But it’s all worth it when you get to stuff like a fight scene based on Fantasia’s “Night on Bald Mountain.”

Get past all the emotional drama and more embarrassing moments, and you’ve got a novelty of a game worthy of any Disney geek.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (2004)
Rating: C+

This is a weird sequel because it went straight to Gameboy Advance. A dick move on Square’s part since I played “Kingdom Hearts 2″ first and couldn’t figure out what Sora was doing in an egg. It follows the cliffhanger ending where Sora, Donald, and Goofy travel to a place called Castle Oblivion, which wipes their memories clean in a quick-and-easy attempt to remake the first game. Their stolen memories are used to recreate all the same worlds they visited before and replay all the stories.

Then you’ve got a lousy card-based fighting system where you can’t swing your keyblade if the enemy draws a higher card than you do. This almost seemed like a game designed to piss me off.

The big redeeming factor in this game was that it adds much needed exposition for the sequel to come. Also, at the halfway point, you get to play as Sora’s friend, Riku, and fight your way back through the castle with the help of Mickey Mouse using an assortment of dark powers. Otherwise, it’s more of a 2D remake than a sequel.

Kingdom Hearts 2 (2005)
Rating: A

And then the game went back to PS2 and tried to forget Chain of Memories ever happened.

From a gamer’s perspective, the official part 2 is the superior game. They take the fighting system from the first game and pretty much inject it with steroids. Suddenly, Sora is some superhuman jumping machine who performs entire battles in the air and unleashes devastating finishing attacks, leaving Donald and Goofy to clean up the mess since they’re not much good for anything other than healing you. If you’ve ever seen a fight from “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children,” it’s just like that. The game designers even added in a reaction command that allows Sora to perform crazy physics-defying stunts which surprisingly don’t destroy the world whenever they’re executed. All of this is put to good use at a later part of the game when you’re forced to battle a thousand enemy soldiers at once.

And once again, you’re still traveling to Disney worlds and having fun adventures with Winnie-the-Pooh. New worlds included into the mix this time include “Pirates of the Carribean,” “Tron,” “The Lion King,” and a trip to the past where you get to meet Steamboat Willie. There’s a few returns to previous worlds, including a horrible “Little Mermaid” world which is comprised entirely of bad musical numbers. So on top of destroying heart-eating demons, you also need to sing and dance now.

The story is way too confusing. On top of the Heartless monsters you need to fight, there’s a new group of demons called Nobodies who are created when a strong-hearted person become a Heartless. Their empty husk is then teleported to a Twilight world where they’re reincarnated as a evil force of nothingness. Unless the Heartless in question receives someone else’s heart, then the Nobody becomes a non-existent force of good.

If that makes any sense, raise your hand. Because the whole game is like that. I beat the game and I still have no idea what it’s about.

The other big negative about the game is that they cut down the voice budget. All the original actors from the first game have been replaced with generic in-house talent, minus a few main characters, Jim Cummings, and thankfully James Woods. Although a funny side-note is that Haley Joel Osment (voice of Sora from the first game) undergoes puberty between games. So now we have a main character with a cracked voice for most of the game.

In all, it’s an okay game compared to the first, with a new improved engine. But the big thing that got a rise out of me was how much I found myself swearing during some of these fights. The difficulty level is without mercy. Some villains will teleport at you out of nowhere and unleash a combo that drops your HP down to one. So then you have to run around dodging attacks until you can cast cure on yourself (if you’re lucky.) Then when you finally move back in to fight, they do the EXACT SAME THING. They break your combos and hit the crap out of you until you’re screaming every obscenity imaginable at the television. I’ll let this video speak for itself:



So that’s my fun, magical, and very violent Disney adventure for this year. In the meantime, I’m going back to Mass Effect…

October 29 2008 | Video Games | 5 Comments »

I was a sexy spotlight.

Saturday, my friend Michaela invited me out to see the late-night showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” I’d seen the movie twice before and never got into it. The rest of my knowledge concerning “Rocky Horror” came from that episode of “Drew Carey” I saw where Drew and his friends had a Time Warp dance-off against the transvestites from “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert.” But, hey, my friend was performing in the shadow cast and I was allowed to go in for free as long as I kept a flashlight on the performers for the whole thing. I figured why not?

It was pretty freakin’ awesome. I finally get Rocky Horror and I recommend the experience to anyone.

The first 40 minutes before the show started was made up of a costume contest with crappy prizes. I was told to wear something, but all I could bring myself to wear in the spirit of the occasion was a suit with the shirt untucked and a tie worn around my head like a bandana.

But the real fun begins when the show starts. I won’t give too much away, but it’s basically like watching “Mystery Science Theater 3000″ live and involves toilet paper and toast. Plus a bunch of people running around in their underwear. All good things. And all you have to put up with are a few naked guys wearing golden thongs in the audience (the bikini girls make up for them.)

The rest of my weekend entailed watching “Max Payne” on Friday with Terrence and Brit (and eating pasta at Buca’s) as well as getting my computer back (now equipped with a GeForce 9800 – extended warranty rocks!), beating “Kingdom Hearts II” on Hard Mode, resuming work on “Incinerations,” and beginning a game on “Mass Effect.” I also did the dishes, bought some groceries, and folded laundry.

But sadly, no picnic.

Also on Thursday, I finally said goodbye to my support group and moved on back to my normal life. It was one of those really emotional moments where a guy doesn’t find out how much he’s loved until he leaves everyone because I wound up getting hugs for five minutes straight (one of them took up half that time.) If it weren’t for the confidentiality agreements, I would’ve gladly taken some of those people home. Or at least one of them (if you’re google-stalking me, you know who you are.) But I guess the whole point of the group was to recreate those connections in the outside world the same way I did it inside. At least I get my evenings back.

October 27 2008 | Daily Life, Pop Culture | 4 Comments »

Friday Movie Blogging 10-24-08: The Fall of Camp

I’m bothered by how much audiences don’t seem to appreciate cheesy camp in movies anymore. Everything needs to be dark, gritty, realistic, or contain Will Ferrell’s penis. This was shown earlier this year when “Speed Racer” bombed, and a couple years back when the highly-anticipated “Snakes on a Plane” bombed as well (*shakes fist in anger!*) Even critically-acclaimed campy movies like “Team America: World Police” and “Hot Fuzz” brought in about $30M each which is $70M less than what every movie aims for. And when “Indiana Jones” made a comeback this year, it changed nothing about it’s fun campy style and critics beat the crap out of it for that (“Nuking a fridge?! Yee-gawds! How unrealistic!” say the people who grew up watching Indy run from inexplicable giant boulders and use rubber rafts as parachutes.)

I’m willing to bet all of these movies would’ve been huge in the 80’s. Back in the 80’s, the world thrived on campy weirdness. They had no problem accepting strange unrealistic situations like the ones we saw in “Ghostbusters,” “Short Circuit,” “Teen Wolf,” “Goonies,” “Gremlins,” and “Weird Science.” If these movies had been released today, would they have been just as popular, or would they have taken a backseat to “Hancock?” <-- (which had to disguise it's cheesiness in form of a dramatic character piece.)

I'd like to imagine an age of movies where we can all go back to appreciating guilty pleasures together. It seems like too many people are afraid to admit they like flawed movies anymore and often fall back on the "safe movie" net just to be cool.

SATURDAY MORNING AFTERTHOUGHT:
Looking through a history of movies, corniness is one of Hollywood’s longest standing traditions, dating all the way back to the 1920’s. It was common to see it resurge through the years on television and film and has always had a marketable demographic up until the late 90’s when people started demanding more serious film-making. Now you can only seem to find it in animation and family movies. Outside those realms, no one wants to suspend their disbelief anymore. So what’s happened in the last 10-15 years that’s made society stop wanting to believe in magic and completely ground themselves in reality – especially after 70 years of popular camp? All physics have to be perfect. All superheroes need to have scientific superpowers. All sitcoms are without laugh-tracks. Even Harry Potter movies were on their way to losing bank before they started killing off Harry’s family.

Something keeps telling me to blame it on the internet.

Anyway – movie I saw this week (because my computer’s in the shop and I only had time to watch one beforehand):

Tropic Thunder
Rating: B-

As you can guess from the trailer, Tropic Thunder is about three actors filming a war movie in the jungle, and they have no idea they’re under attack from very real enemy forces. It also stars Robert Downey Jr. as a black man, and you can sell the whole movie on that premise alone. As I expected, there were many entertaining parts throughout and it bordered on a type of ridiculous you mostly get from Will Ferrell movies. My main beef with it was how unevenly paced the whole thing seemed to be, and how most of the scenes served as vehicles to showcase each character’s wacky quirks. Almost like director Ben Stiller never heard of an editing room and decided to leave every second of ad-libbed schtick in the movie. It gets to the point where a lot of the conversations become incoherent, like you just walked in on an in-joke that Hollywood’s been throwing around. Other times, it just takes itself too seriously. Still, there’s several funny and over-the-top moments scattered around, and even Tom Cruise manages to sneak into the movie with one of his most bizarre roles ever. The movie’s a mess, but an entertaining mess.

New movies out this weekend:

-Saw 5 (a sequel to the torture porn franchise about psychos doing sick things to sick people)
-High School Musical 3: Senior Year (same as above)
-Pride and Glory (Edward Norton/Colin Farrell police movie)
-Synecdoche, New York (New Charlie Kaufman movie!)
-Let the Right One In (Like Twilight, but with genders reversed)

My movie video picks this week are Batman related again. Only they’re foreign this time:

The Turkish Batman:

The Italian Batman (0:55 is my favorite part):

Courtesy of Cracked

October 24 2008 | Movies, Videos | 4 Comments »

“Guitar Hero” meets “God of War?”

I just heard about this new game coming out next year called “Brutal Legend.” From the name alone, I almost shrugged it off as another typical run-around-slash-em-up game. But then I heard Tim Schafer was making it.

A quick recap: Tim Schafer = “Day of the Tentacle” + “Full Throttle” + “Grim Fandango” + “Psychonauts.” So if his name gets attached to anything, it’s mandatory that I get in on the hype, especially since his previous four masterpieces are right up there in my top ten games ever made. He’s the kind of game designer who could eat dirt and crap out fresh baked Chicken Parmesan.

It’s weird seeing his name attached to a Sierra product, considering he used to work for their main rival company (Lucasarts) for the longest time. “Brutal Legend” revolves around a roadie who gets transported into the mythical age of heavy metal. You then go around gathering armies of rock and fighting emos, goths, and demon bass guitarists. Sounds promising enough to me. It wouldn’t be Schafer’s first venture into the world of heavy metal, especially after you play as Hoagie, the fat roadie in DotT, who travels back in time and meets Ben Franklin. Or Ben, the biker from Full Throttle, who’s known to use bunnies for clearing out mine fields.

The 2007 E3 trailer (contains graphic violence – avert grandma’s eyes):

October 22 2008 | Video Games | 2 Comments »

Doing Nothing Again! (Colon, Upper-case D)

The home computer’s in the shop again. I finally got fed up with the freezing and screen artifacts, so I took advantage of that warranty and brought it in. Now they’re telling me it’ll be about a week, and probably require a new motherboard. So that means sacking out in my recliner for the next few days, playing video games, eating nachos, and soaking my feet in that garage sale foot jacuzzi. Poor me.

Before that happened, I got everything backed up and even made a really sweet cut-scene for my game involving shattering glass, particle effects, and a tuck-and-roll animation. All within the time-frame of two “Back to the Future” movies. I love this stuff.

Also, Saturday, went for sushi again with my friend and her friends. I had the rainbow dish again with octopus ball appetizers. Then I snatched food off everyone’s plates. I wish my wallet was as bottomless as my stomach.

Also-also, last week in the therapy group! I’m already sane – I just like hanging out with my friends there while I can. Whenever we’re not talking about our feelings, we’re playing volleyball, doing dance aerobics, drawing with crayons, playing board games, making sushi, making faces at the camera in TV group, reorganizing chairs, pushing each other around in wheelchairs, chewing gum, stealing purses, giving the therapists nicknames (I call the new guy Tintin,) re-enacting spousal abuse, singing karaoke, chatting up the sexy ladies, telling off people who come in late, and just sitting around the supper table asking each other what we brought in our Tupperware containers. I going to miss the crap out of that place.

On a side-note, I really want to play this (courtesy of Cracked):


October 20 2008 | Daily Life | No Comments »

Friday Movie Blogging 10-17-08: How to Adapt Anything

Browsing through the usual comment sections on different movie sites, it always bugs the crap out of me when some kind of adaptation is announced and suddenly all the “EPIC FAIL” people rise to the surface like internet vomit. This is usually centered around news that a video game, theme park ride, comic book, anime or other non-book medium is being turned into a movie. Can’t blame them really. “Max Payne” is out this weekend and given the history of bad video game movies, it’s natural to have zero-expectations (whether or not Max turns out to be good.) But it’s just the immediate “THIS SUCKS” reaction everyone seems to have that drives me nuts.

The two best adaptations I’ve ever seen are the “Lord of the Rings” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogies. And considering their success, I consider this proof enough that anything that falls between a novel and a boat ride can be turned into a great movie. Using them as a basis, I’ve narrowed the formulas down to what I believe should be the five rules for writing successful movie adaptations, sequels, or even remakes:

1. Appreciate the Source Material
This one is a no-brainer. You don’t have to be a fan, but you can’t hate it or be indifferent to the material either. You have to understand why people like the story and characters, and have your own reasons as well (getting paid lots of money to write the script doesn’t count as a reason.) You don’t want to end up like the directors of “Super Mario Bros” who didn’t even bother playing the game and wound up out of work for the next ten years.

2. Keep the Premise
Another no-brainer, but something that often gets overlooked, especially in video game movies. The premise is the main selling point of the movie, and sometimes a writer will feel the material’s premise is too risky and change it to something safer and more mainstream (like a knock-off of “Enter the Dragon” or “Aliens”.) This can break or make the movie, depending on how you interpret the premise for audiences. In any case, take the risk. The best movies always bring something new to the table.

3. Share what you Love
This should be the whole reason for adapting anything. Here, you’ve got a great story in an obscure medium most audiences may never experience. What do you love about the story? The characters? Lines of dialogue? The odd details? In-jokes? How do you feel when you experience it? This is what needs to be conveyed. Get the audience involved. Your goal is to make people love the story the same way you do.

4. Prepare for Sacrifices
Of course, we all love different things. A hardcore fan will argue that every single plot point, character, action, and even hair style must make it into the finished movie, otherwise it’s an “EPIC FAIL” (god, I hate those words.) What needs to be understood is that no source material is perfect, and even if some of it holds a place in your heart, it doesn’t need to be included in the finished script if it doesn’t add anything to your creation. You’re writing an adaptation – a different version of the story – not copying and pasting everything word-for-word.

5. Make it your Own
I consider this to be the most important thing that almost everyone overlooks. When you’ve got all your favorite things in the script, the rest is up to whatever you’re inspired to imagine. Under no circumstances should you be trying to please everyone. You’re taking your own risks, telling your own jokes, and sharing your own visions. The LOTR trilogy is a great example of this because even though it followed the story, Peter Jackson still made up half of everything that wasn’t in the books. Which is good, because I’d rather listen to Merry and Pippin talk about second breakfast than listen to three chapters worth of landscape descriptions.

Following these steps, even something as mundane as Honeynut Cheerios could become a blockbuster movie one of these days.

Meanwhile, the movies I saw this week…

Doomsday
Rating: C

At first, I was really leaning towards a lower score for this movie, since it seemed like such a blatant rip-off of other post-apocalyptic movies. In the future, a virus has decimated Earth’s population and a group of soldiers are sent into the dead zone to search for a cure. Within the first half hour, we’re already watching “28 Days Later,” “Land of the Dead,” “Resident Evil,” “The Warriors,” “Aeon Flux,” and “Escape from New York.” As it goes on, it becomes more like “The Road Warrior” and “Reign of Fire” as the hot chick super-soldier fights mutant biker punk nazis and medieval knights with swords. At one point, I’m pretty sure it turns into “Shrek” for some reason. It’s all over the place, and if you don’t catch on that it’s an homage to post-apocalyptic movies, you’d swear Uwe Boll was in charge of this production. Thing is, it’s not really necessary to make an homage to these kinds of films since we still get several of them every year and most of them are better than this. Still, it delivers on the blood and guts, and there’s a freakin’ sweet car chase at the end with explosions. If you convince yourself to start laughing from the beginning, it’s not bad.
In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
Rating: …Q?

I’ll admit, I’m actually a tad fascinated by Uwe Boll movies. In some ways, it’s like Ed Wood has returned to us, and in other ways, it’s like Andy Kaufman has disguised himself as a crazy German director and repeatedly makes bad video games movies just to get a reaction out of us. In this movie, he’s trying his hand at making a “Lord of the Rings” rip-off. It’s hard to say if Uwe Boll really is a bad director since he handles cinematography, editing, and art direction quite well. But then there’s his people skills which leave much to be desired. This movie features Jason Statham, Ron Perlman, John Rhys-Davies, Burt Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Matthew Lillard, and Leelee Sobieski – all of whom have proven they’re capable of basic human function in past roles. And yet Boll’s unusual style of directing and writing dialogue turns them all into blathering bicycle helmet-wearing idiots. For a medieval period piece, only 3 people in the entire movie bother to speak with a British accent, the elf character talks like a redneck, and Matthew Lillard experiments with some weird tongue that sounds like Shakespeare trying to pass a kidney stone, quoting dialogue like “I feel like I am dying!” (spoken as he is dying.) Then you have the Orcs which look like a bunch of frat guys who showed up in cheap gorilla costumes and flailed around the screen spreading terror to anyone afraid of clowns. The movie really is as bad as the title is long, but there’s a certain face-palming novelty to it that makes it about as watchable as a dog pooping on a baby.
The Last 40 Minutes of Vacancy
Rating: C+

So what’re you guys watching? “Vacancy.” Oh, sweet – Kate Beckinsale! “Yeah, she’s hot.” I plop down on the couch at this point. Kate Beckinsale should be in everything. But not Luke Wilson. He keeps standing in front of Kate Beckinsale. Oh, crap! Jump scene! Run, Kate Beckinsale! Run! Why is Commissioner Gordon in this? Oh, crap! Commissioner Gordon is the bad guy! Run again, Kate Beckinsale! Run! Get to the phone! Don’t let him call Batman! He’s probably in on this too! Man, Kate Beckinsale looks hot when she runs. This should just be Kate Beckinsale and her twin sister trapped in a motel being stalked by killers. Actually, forget the killers. And forget the stalking.

This weekend at the movies:

-Max Payne (family dies, renegade cop kills everyone in the city for revenge)
-The Secret Life of Bees (a drama about beekeeping)
-Sex Drive (Whoo! Wacky sex comedy!)
-W. (A biopic about George Bush making ass of himself.)

Here’s a video about action hero one-liners.

October 17 2008 | Movies | No Comments »

Story of my Life

Courtesy of the forever-immortal Nedroid:

October 16 2008 | Comics, Humor, Killing Time | 1 Comment »

Awkward Voting/Old School Gaming: Max Payne

So I entered the gymnasium and the fellow at the front table directed me to my designated table where I could get my voter’s card. He asked me to just show the lady my ID. I get there and show her my ID. She looks at it for a moment, then looks at me, then after a hesitant moment, finally speaks.

“What do you want?”
“I… I want to vote.”
“Oh! Okay!”

Suddenly, she gets all chipper, crosses my name off the list and hands me my card.

I really want to know what else is part of her job description. I should’ve tried ordering burgers or something.

Meanwhile, back to what I was really going to blog about…

MAX PAYNE
Developed by: Remedy Entertainment, 2001
Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Rating: A

“Max Payne” is one of my all-time favorite shoot ‘em up games, and this is coming from someone who generally hates the point-and-shoot, headache-inducing genre. With the movie coming out this weekend, I won’t spoil the story, but it’s basically something along the lines of “The Punisher” meets “The Maltese Falcon.” It’s a really gripping film-noire tale about revenge filled with twists and turns, shot in the style of a graphic novel (and doesn’t involve anything about Max fighting demons, no matter what the movie trailers suggest.)

What really hooked me about this game was the inclusion of bullet-time shortly after the release of “The Matrix.” At any given time, you can cause Max to enter “the zone” and run around in slow-motion in order to dodge bullets and focus your aim. What didn’t hook me so much was how insanely invincible every enemy seemed to be. In most games, a headshot can kill any opponent. In this one, there are some guys who can survive multiple shotgun blasts to the head, and even find time to shoot you right back between shots. Still, it’s pretty satisfying when you do manage to gun down an entire room full of drug lords while dodging machine gun fire from a helicopter at the same time.

I can only hope some of the key action sequences find their way into the movie. It’s one of those rare cinematic games that’s made for the big screen. Just as long as 20th Century Fox doesn’t butcher it.

October 15 2008 | Daily Life, Video Games | 4 Comments »

Every weekend should be a long weekend.

Only make it an extra day longer.

Looking back, I can’t believe three days have passed already. Everyone was out and about doing personal stuff for most of weekend, so I once again crashed on the couch, turned on the TV and proceeded to continue animating the hell out of my game. And between Friday and Sunday night, I ended up getting three entire cinematics done. They’re not Final Fantasy quality, but I’m finding out I can triple my output by half-assing everything and using a lot of sleight-of-hand (i.e. I don’t have to animate the legs if I keep the camera above the waist.)

I also found some time to finish up my game on Max Payne, start a new one on “Woodruff and the Schnibble,” watch a couple bad movies, bake a couple pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving and clean my house. I think I’m in the middle of one of those times when my productivity is maxing out.

Thanskgiving itself was mostly awesome. I went to the folks’ place yesterday and we had about ten family and friends over for this massive feast of turkey, potatoes, yams, beets, veggies, dressing, and this stuff filled with fruit. Also, lots of candy (I put my diet on hold for one night and completely pigged out.) Then we spent the rest of the night playing Mario Party 8 and watching Heroes. When I got home, I found out that my body had become too used to me not eating excess sugar, and my pigging out backfired on me as I came down with a sudden splitting headache and spent half the night waiting for the Tylenol to kick in so I could sleep. All I can remember during that period is watching an episode of “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast” where Space Ghost annoys Jerry Springer and “does sex” with Sarah Jessica Parker while the mantis guy rocks out to Boston. Or maybe that was a dream.

Oh, yeah – and I freaked out my brothers with my Chumbawumba dancing. That was awesome.

EDIT: Before I forget: potential UFO Sighting. Driving home last night, around 11:30, I witnessed what appeared to be a helicopter with a spotlight flying around the sky. Soon, there were three others just like it flying in circles over the Anthony Henday freeway. The strange thing is that when I rolled down the window at a red light just to hear the chopper engines, the night was completely silent. I also can’t figure out if helicopters move as fast as these things did, because it seemed like they could cross ten miles in one minute. In terms of description, all I could make out was a glowing cockpit, and behind them were two blinking white lights and one red blinking light. If this sounds like typical helicopter behavior to anyone, let me know. All I really want to know is why four helicopters were circling the same part of the highway during that time of night.

October 14 2008 | Daily Life, Food | 1 Comment »

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