Thursday, November 26, 2009

Short Comic Book Reviews: 11/25/09

  • Green Lantern #48: It needs to be read before the latest Blackest Night. Despite the helpful yet very stupid warning (a "prelude to BN #6". Seriously, how did they miss that?), the issue was an enjoyable heated verbal and physical debate between the head Lanterns. Gets some bonus points for a Muppets reference. 4/5

  • Blackest Night #5: After the disappointing last issue, this brings the gears forward again. A lot of cool moments build off each other in the end, dangerously close to being a spotfest. And, it has a fantastic twist and another ending twist to create a great cliffhanger. 4/5

  • Image United #1: Dear Lord. I had some hope, but this was beyond terrible. Nothing happened. Terrible and awkward posing. A character is "severely" injured in battle yet does not appear at all in ANY frame since a group shot. Bad layout. No advancement at all. NO BUYS for later issues. 1/5

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! - Review

The exploitation genre of film has always been an interesting topic to discuss, lampoon, or recreate. All of these factors have been feature in major film releases, such as GRINDHOUSE, and now it has come in the form of documentary. But the kicker is that instead of going after the usual suspects like the American independents or Italian giallo, Mark Hartley keeps the focus on his own country of Australia and how the "Ozploitation" isn't featured prominently. After seeing NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD, I and other viewers now have more films to look for and put in the Netflix queue.

The only films from Australia that have often been shown to the rest of the world are largely art films, such as the works of Peter Weir and Gillian Armstrong, and the punchline-inducing Yahoo Serious movies. These films, and largely the entire Australian film industry, couldn't have been successful without the benefit of B-movies and exploitation films winning over their own continent. Hartley breaks down this immense study of the genre by simply looking at the sex romps, the horror flicks, and the over-the-top action movies that played to the minds of the Australian audiences and to the scorn of the film critics. The director also gives attention to critique the world's view of the Outback, the backlash against foreign actors being cast, and the future wave of genre filmmakers such as Greg McLean (WOLF CREEK).

The viewer gets to see a great number of films, each receiving praise and jeers from a collection of talking heads. Each film debate is no holds barred; the film critics always may come up with a witty yet venomous line but other participants bring up their hatred with a director/producer or attack the treatment of women during production and on the screen. Connecting these verbal crossfires and exciting clipped montages are many Flash-created animations, which are the biggest problem against the film. These little breaks cause the film to look ultra-gaudy and seemingly into a VH1 television production.

NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is a fun ride through films of Australian past. It brings up many social/politicial issues such as nationalism and stereotyping while also partaking the spectacle and thrills of sex and violence. So, if you are sick of the usual Australian art film, with this film you can look further away from the stuffy shirts and dresses.


The Ugly Truth - Review

The ugly truth about THE UGLY TRUTH is that it is really ugly. Yes, that maybe a very corny way to introduce this bomb of a film but it is the truth. Okay, no more stupid quips.

An awful attempt to rip off the success and elements from the Judd Apatow films, THE UGLY TRUTH strictly goes for being dirty at all times. The creators seemed to forget that the Apatow films mock the overthinking and attention of sex in gender politics while bringing in some innocence to the main characters. Well, it seems that Nicole Eastman, the screenwriter and a woman, felt that wasn't necessary and made an extreme mess of a script where women never change or learn anything and everyone seems to talk like juvenile children.

The plot is pure basic Hollywood rom-com: A local television producer (Katherine Heigl) supervises over a low-rated morning news show but has a bad romantic life. Her boss brings in a "controversy creates cash" persona (Gerard Butler) to spice up the shenanigans by bringing his show "The Ugly Truth." He shouts out sexual words and profanities on live television about the romantic relationships between sexes. Instead of being fired, like you know in reality, he brings the ratings but the ire of the producer. But, he then starts to coach her to court a newly arrived neighbor (Eric Winter) and the story follows the usual path.

I already said the script is a mess but there's such a huge palette of crap at my disposal. The film has a low number of supporting characters for a news comedy film and many of them simply disappear without a trace. Two writers/journalists that argue about celebrity news and environmentalism in the prologue never show up again after a later conference. Bulter has a nephew and a sister to help bring lame characterization to him but you hardly learn their names or anything in the three scenes they are in. Not even Heigl's assistant/best friend is given anything despite appearing often. This lack of attention to the supporting players is distressing considering Cheryl Hines, a very capable comedic actress, is in the cast and receives nothing and says nothing but vagina one-liners. Then there's the dialogue; Not one scene goes without something sexual just has to be said. The lines aren't funny or amusing in any way except that is supposed to be since it's coming from pretty people like Heigl. But it's not; the filmmakers are just being crass to be crass and have no substance to back it up.

Now, I have been a fan of Katherine Heigl. I even supported her when she blasted the writers of Grey's Anatomy. But around the time of promoting this film, she got more diva-like and attacked KNOCKED UP for being offensive. Other than having a tight pair of beer goggles around her eyes, Heigl also seems to not notice she isn't acting in this film. Sure, her character is offensively written with her refusal to let control being shared with the other partner and near-psychotic tendencies, but Heigl is just terrible in her delivery and body language. She makes her character suddenly go into random mood swings, her comedic timing is stilted, and she doesn't fullfill her part of the chemistry with Butler. This is best shown in the obvious sex scene between them. While Butler is sweating and out of breath during their talking break, Heigl has full makeup on, wearing small earrings, and doesn't look at all like she had a fun time on Space Mountain. (See, I can be crass too.)

I could continue but I'll end with the most talked-about scene and the most shameful thing from this pile of so-called adult humor. Everyone has attacked and pointed the stupid scene where Heigl wears vibrating panties to a corporate dinner and brings the remote for it for some strange reason. Instead of making a rant about ripping off WHEN HARRY MET SALLY..., which had a great script from a female writer, I'm looking at the moment before where she slips it on. I honestly felt dirty watching the film when it happened. It felt so exploitative, especially considering that the camera gazes at her dress opening so her breasts can be easily shown. And, because of this one moment, I hated this "movie" a hell of a lot more.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Special Wrestling Video I Composed...

This is a match that has been causing a lot of commotion and laughs among puroresu fans and I decided to make a highlighted version.

After this, you will know that Kota Ibushi is one crazy man but is pure awesome.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lego Rock Band - Review

Despite the release of Guitar Hero 5 and The Beatles: Rock Band, the music war between Activision and EA continues yet again this year with a bizarre twist. Both publishers are going after the children and teenage girl demographics with their latest spin-offs of their franchises. Despite the fact that both demographics probably already have or at least played their previous games. To combat Band Hero, EA partnered up with other developers and the Lego corporation to release Lego Rock Band. Now, Lego Rock Band drew a lot of bad comments and bewilderment when it was first announced. However, instead of being the next Wii Music, the game actually is very fun but the constant replaying of a short song list might and/or will annoy all ages.

The video game has 45 songs total to play alone or with friends. Compared to Band Hero, this is a very low number but the selections work without any truly awful picks. Some personal favorites of mine, including Jimi Hendrix's "Fire" and Bryan Adams' "Summer of 69", are very welcomed additions to the rhythm game genre and are a blast to play. However, there is some repeats from Guitar Hero 5, as "Song #2" and "A-Punk" are featured and don't have the same and more exciting gameplay as Activision's version. Also, I wished that Tom Cochran's rendition of "Life is a Highway" was included instead of Rascal Flatts.

In the campaign/story mode, you and/or your band-mates create a rock band and play gigs at many Lego-theme arenas and a couple generic ones. Like the latest version of the WWE Smackdown vs. Raw series, the game's main gimmick is complete customization; Other than your own Lego avatar, the player can create and change the other band members, your entourage and roadies, instruments, album covers, logos, and your personal rock pad. To purchase more characters and unlockables, you have to play special sets and buy them with the money you acquire. The developers changed the mechanics of gaining money as you get the same amount of money as your score for a song. By purchasing entourage members, you can increase the currency more with special percentage increases. There is also the Rock Challenges, where your band must do well while the fmvs show your band fighting monsters and asteroids. All of this tiring but fun experience is wrapped with a entertaining yet childish rock and roll storyline and cute cut-scenes.

Graphics aren't one of the important factors for the game, but the frame-rate stutters in menus and during performances. But the most problematic is the band performance itself. Maybe I'm still spoiled by The Beatles game and its great music video performances, but your created band don't have special or specific programming for each of the songs except for the Rock Challenges. Instead, they rely on a random movement pattern, which kill the continuity and lead to many glaring errors. For example, the bassist would be seen clapping their hands for four seconds while their opening bass line is heard. Characters will be jumping constantly despite you playing a slow song. The worst of these involves the singer as he just teleports into different poses and often sings with his Lego butt facing the audience constantly. The only other major problem is that the Lego characters don't really make the experience more exciting with their animations. You might love singing a favorite of yours but your Lego avatar barely looks like it matters. The animators could have gone crazy with these motions, such as having the body parts falling off like in their commercials or have the body break apart and re-assemble when they jump up.

Lego Rock Band isn't one of the best but is a pleasant surprise to behold. Stick with a rental of it or wait till it drops in price.