Archive for December, 2011

Movie Reviews: December ’11

Mission: Impossible 4
First Impressions: I’ve been looking forward to seeing this one ever since I heard that animation director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille) would be directing. It’s a geek thing for me; I like seeing animators carry their skills over into different mediums (much like Tim Burton did years ago, and we know how that turned out.)
The Actual Movie: Really good. There’s no question that this is already my favorite M:I movie. I like the story, I like the characters, I like the gadgets, I like the action… I REALLY like the team. This is one M:I movie where it isn’t all “The Tom Cruise Show.” In fact, this is the only movie in the franchise where I even remember who the team is. They all get their respective spotlights. One guy even goes through the motions of having to jump down a ventilation shaft for the first time. I thought that was a clever way of showing us what every movie spy probably goes through early in their career. There’s also a lot of a slowed-down and very tense sequences, especially in one scene near the beginning where two guys are trying to sneak up on a guard while hidden in plain sight.
The Action: If I were still doing the Smashies, M:I-4 would get a good nod here. There’s some great stunts, and I like it when action sequences are properly staged like this. There’s no shakey-cam, all the beat changes are there, and unlike M:I-2, Tom Cruise actually looks like he’s in considerable pain after falling off a building. It’s a movie I’ll have to watch again to see if it still holds up well after the first good impression.

The Muppets
MUPPETS!: Yes, Muppets. Where to start?
Good movie?: Excellent movie. Normally, I’ve been growing to hate this recurring trend with using nostalgia to rope audiences in (please don’t mention my games) but The Muppets… let’s just say they hit me harder than “Toy Story 3″ hit other people. And that’s saying a lot since I was too young to remember watching the actual “Muppet Show.” They nail the humor, the songs are catchy, and the show at the end feels like I’m actually right there in the Muppets’ theater. I think this effect would be lost on video because to see the Muppets performing their theme song on the big-screen is a very surreal (almost religious) experience for me.
And…: Leave this for now. I’ll sum this up in a later blog post.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
Anticipation?: Yes, this was my most anticipated movie of the year. I grew up reading the Tintin books and watching the TV shows, so this was huge for me. And on top of that: Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Andy Serkis, Steven Moffatt, and Edgar Wright were making it. Throw in Joss Whedon and Neil Patrick Harris and you’d have the ultimate dream team of awesomeness (I’d include Christopher Walken, but then the universe would probably implode.)
The Turn-Out: Great movie. Definitely more “Indiana Jones” than the last Indiana Jones movie. There’s some solid action sequences, some great performances, and lots of humor. It all follows a Belgian reporter’s quest to uncover the story behind an ancient model ship and the people who’ll kill to get their hands on it. As a fan, I’m impressed to see at least four mostly unrelated books in the series all mixed in together to form a cohesive story.
One Gripe: Call it me setting too high a standard for this movie, but in spite of how good it is… something keeps nagging at me: the one-take motorcycle chase. It’s the coolest part of the movie, yes, but it feels wrong to see it shot in one take. There’s so many things going on that to properly register the whole sequence, it needs to be cut and edited from different angles so that the comic timing works better. I had the same problem with another mo-cap movie – Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol” – where all the one-take scenes feel like I’m on a Turbo Ride. Besides, I think doing action sequences in one take has long since worn out its novelty since video games have been doing it for years (re: Uncharted, God of War, Call of Duty, etc.) Maybe that’s the style they were going for, or maybe I’m just getting old – but I still think some classic editing would have improved the most exciting part of the movie tenfold.
One More Gripe: The opening credits needed this music.

December 31 2011 | Movies | 1 Comment »

Vohaul Strikes Back: The Release Trailer!

Because obviously release trailers should come out AFTER the game’s been released. Or have I been drinking my roommate’s expired orange juice again? Either way, here’s a demo trailer with some game-play, music, and lots of scenes with Roger dying. I’ll have to make one of these for SQInc as well when the time comes.

December 30 2011 | Stuff I Made, Video Games, Videos | No Comments »

Vohaul Strikes Back: The Official Release!

You better believe it’s real this time.

It’s a game ten years in the making, and follows 16 years after the cancellation of the original Space Quest series. And out of the dozens of Sierra fan-games made over the years, it’s the first actual full-length sequel (TSL doesn’t count because episode 5 isn’t finished yet. So we win!)

In this game, you help space janitor Roger Wilco sort out another bad case of his girlfriend, the planet, and the galaxy needing saving. Along the way, he learns some very important life lessons, escapes death-defying situations and makes some hairy new friends. It’s loaded with clever puzzles, tons of original characters, over a hundred beautifully-painted backgrounds, awesome music, hilarious dialogue, and lots of half-assed Flash animation from myself. Also: monkeys.

Click here to go download it now!

In the following weeks, expect to hear a lot more Space Quest-related news from me. In the last six years, this has been one of the top three things to eat up all my time and it’s FINALLY DONE. I’m in a self-promoting mood right now, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for any positive reviews or mentions on popular sites. Not to mention VSB is just the beginning when I consider what’s around the corner…

Oh, yeah – MERRY CHRISTMAS! :D

December 24 2011 | Art, Awesomeness, Daily Life, Holidays, Stuff I Made, Video Games | 5 Comments »

Some Batman-y Goodness

In honor of our animation teacher who came in with a hoarse throat today, here’s the Batman videos we’ve been tormenting him with.

“It’s a helicopter!”

“Penguin’s got a new credit card!”

December 08 2011 | Humor, Stuff Other People Made, Videos | No Comments »

Movie Reviews: November

Puss-in-Boots
Bad kitty?: You will hear that SO many times in this movie.
General Impressions: Actually, I like the idea of centering a movie around Puss-in-Boots. Much like Jack Sparrow, he’s a side-character who can carry his own franchise. As usual, the animation is top-notch, and the cat jokes alone make this a perfect movie for any cat lover. Also, props to Dreamworks for creating a Shrek spin-off that doesn’t contain any pop culture jokes whatsoever (not including the Lady Gaga song during the credits.)
What didn’t click with me: I don’t think this needed to be a fairy tale mash-up. Even if it takes place in Shrek’s universe, this movie could have held its own ground by using original characters and settings more appropriate to Puss’ story. It didn’t need Jack & Jill, it didn’t need the beanstalk, it didn’t need the golden goose, and it especially didn’t need Humpty-Dumpty who seems to take up more screen-time than the title character. The cat stuff alone was hilarious – so what’s wrong with simply making a movie about swashbuckling cats?

Immortals
Main Impression: This is not a good date movie.
Why not?: It’s 300 meets “torture porn.” With a lot of gory blood-splatter thrown in. Don’t even bring your grandmother to this.
Good movie otherwise?: Not really, no. If you know anything about mythology, it gets everything wrong. If you know anything about screen-writing, it gets everything wrong. But if you enjoy movies that have the occasional “cool shot” that tries to make up for the long boring talking and torture parts, then this movie gets everything right.
A Helpful Suggestion: Can somebody in Hollywood please play “God of War” already? That game set the standard for how awesome and epic the Greek Gods and Titans can be. In “God of War,” the Titans are mountain-sized cosmos-controlling colossi. In “Immortals,” they’re just a bunch of dumb-ass zombies in a box. It’s sad when after all these recent Greek myth movies, Disney’s “Hercules” is still the closest we have to an actual “God of War” movie.

The Smurfs
Why did you watch this?!: This movie keeps coming on Veetle at school, and while I do have the option to switch it off and watch something else, part of me felt compelled to just see the disaster for myself. So on a day when I was alone in the lab, I checked it out so no one would see me watching it.
Worst movie ever?: Ehhhh… not really, no. People have been scratching their eyes out over this movie, but as far as badness goes, it’s really no more average than the Chipmunk movies. Better than Garfield, that’s for sure. It has its moments. Some bad, some okay… I’ll admit, I laughed during most the cat scenes. Seriously – there’s a part where Gargamel sucks his cat up into a vacuum cleaner, and because they make the cat look photo-realistic, the scene becomes just a hundred times funnier. In fact, the cat and Gargamel are the only reasons to watch this movie. There’s one part where it’s implied that Neil Patrick Harris is on his way to beat Gargamel to death with a crowbar. We never see the beating, but the abstract suggestion alone is too awesome not to mention.
Some concern: The Smurfs hole themselves up in an apartment and live with a pregnant woman… and then they run amuck, causing her to chase after them and clean up their messes. You know someone’s doing a Smurf movie wrong when I’m spending too much time worrying about the Smurfs causing a miscarriage.

December 03 2011 | Movies | No Comments »