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by drew

Posts Tagged ‘movie

Reviews of stuff

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Despite being pretty busy for the past few weeks, I’ve also been having my fair share of fun. Naturally this includes copious amounts of movies and games, so I figured I’d jot down my opinions of them before I forget whether I liked them or not. Let’s start with the movies.

Super 8

Saw this one in IMAX and I gotta say, it probably helped. For the most part, it was another JJ Abrams pretty good but not great popcorn flick. The writing alternated between trite, corny, pseudo-emotional bullshit and genuinely funny, with special props going to the legitimately hilarious stoner character. CGI wasn’t to obtrusive, mostly staying in its place, except for the horrendously overdone, exploderriffic train crash sequence that doesn’t even hold a candle to the Fugitive.

X-Men: First Class

Dear lord this movie was stupid. Now, I admit, this is the first X-Men flick I’ve seen all the way through and I’ve never read the comics or watched the shows or bought the Wolverine print underwear but this film just lacked focus. While Magneto and Xavier are pretty interesting, well-written, and well-handled by the actors (James McAvoy, in particular), pretty much every other X-Man only gets their own short, boring little arc, if that. But I know better than to expect quality from superhero flicks (Spider-Man 2, Dark Knight, Iron Man, and Watchmen notwithstanding), what really surprised me was the god-awful, shittilly rendered, bad even for a made for TV movie CGI. I mean it’s not that hard to model and animate a fucking coin, but it was apparently too big a job for these guys to get right. I swear, the ships especially look like something out of a shitty History Channel World War II documentary. And Kevin Bacon chews the scenery.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I’m not gonna lie, this is probably the best Sweedish film I’ve ever seen.

Right. But it is pretty much amazing from start to finish. The character of Lizbeth Salander has to be one of the most compelling and memorable characters in the last decade. This movie also has one of the most intense rape scenes I’ve ever witnessed, taking the viewer from a state of emotional disgust and fear to one of confused, furious, yet excited vengeance. It’s a must-see. It is getting an American remake this winter and I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, the original is great and I don’t know if the American movie industry is mature enough to handle the brutal depictions of sexuality and violence in the story. On the other hand, if anyone can pull it off, it’s Fincher.

Reservoir Dogs

Tarintino’s debut film, which I only recently got around to watching. It earned him widespread attention, and with good reason. I’ll just say if you’re a fan of Tarintino’s other work, or simply enjoy Mexican Standoffs, witty dialog, nonlinear storytelling, and nice suits, you should definitely check it out.

And now, teh gaemz!!!111

L.A. Noire

As far as I can tell, I’m around halfway through the second disk and about halfway through the game as a whole, and so far I like what I’ve seen. I always like giving new IPs a try, if only to convince myself that the future may not be a mindless sequel wasteland, and L.A. Noire is standing on its own well. It’s not nearly as fluid and continuous as I had hoped, rather most every aspect of the gameplay is discrete and binary. Everything’s either right or wrong, you either get an interrogation question right or you get it wrong, you either find a piece of evidence or you don’t. There are a few times when there’s some flexibility, like when you can pick from a couple pieces of related evidence to prove the same point or how the order in which you visit locations on a case can affect who and what is there when you arrive, but for the most part there is one right way. The much-hyped facial animations are stellar, even if suspects couldn’t be more obvious when they’re lying even if they broke out the trollface, and the driving and shooting are solid enough for me. The writing and performances are top-notch and altogether it’s really fun to play. There are a few other flaws, like how cases seem to have arbitrary action sections (WHY DO THEY ALWAYS RUN?!?), many of them involve little inductive reasoning on the part of the player but instead jump to conclusions for them, and you don’t really “solve” cases so much as you collect all the items needed to solve them. More often than not, I’ve ended up arresting guys on accident because the game railroaded me into finding the right guy. Still, all these complaints started at the beginning and have gradually been alleviated through what I assume to be the difficulty curve. Either way, I’m looking forward to playing this one through to the end.

Persona 3

I’ve been playing various flavors of Persona 3 for a few months now and while it’s certainly not as good as P4, it for sure has more of that “cinematic and compelling” stuff Gamespot reviewers rave about. I’ve been playing both Persona 3: FES, the enhanced remake for the PS2 that mostly resembles the original and Persona 3 Portable for the PSP, which takes quite a few cues from my favored sequel. Long story short, the P3P version is better in terms of gameplay and is recommended for those coming from 4 while FES has a much better feel to it in the areas of story, presentation, and cohesion. I’d still recommend the game in either form

F.E.A.R.

I got this way back during the Steam sale last Christmas and I’ve been slowly working my way through it ever since. It’s pretty good, I guess. Not at all scary (vastly inferior to Monolith’s other first-person horror game, Condemed), but still a solid shooter. The main thing I love about it is the incredible, visceral, punch-packing, loud-ass, not gonna fuck around shotgun. It just feels so good to shoot.

SWAT 4

After seeing Spoony’s Let’s Play videos of this game, I decided to check it out. What attracted me to it and L.A. Noire was the strictly enforced by-the-book, procedural gameplay that required realistic performance as an officer of the law, i.e. not murdering everyone. For the most part, it works pretty well in SWAT 4, though it oftentimes makes for some really unforgiving levels that rape you in the ass until you cry Uncle. I still wish Officer Girard would stop alternatively getting shot all the damn time and flashbanging my face.

Guitars Hero II and III, Rocks Band I and II

Faulty internal pluralization ftw. But this is pretty much what my roommates and I do when we’re not doing anything else. I really need to get a second guitar controller, or preferably a drum kit, but those things are impossible to find for cheap.

 

So yeah, that’s basically it for now. Been fucking around with sweet NASA helicopters, installing Linix all over the damn place, and got some bitchin’ new headphones. Pretty rad.

Written by Drew Wellman

07/01/2011 at 11:58 PM

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LoadingReadyRun: My gateway drug

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I often start on a train of thought and, as it progresses, my mind goes on different tangents and rabbit trails until several minutes later when I realize that my brain is totally off topic and I try to retrace the path back to the root of the thought tree. After doing this for about the third time today, I decided to do the same thing with my current interests, how I stumbled upon the things that I like, and it turns out that LoadingReadyRun has been far and away one of the biggest influences on my multimedia life.

In a more basic sense, I suppose it stems from internet comedy in general. The root of this tree is IRL, and its children are online. The farthest back I can trace in a continuous path is back in 2008 when a couple of my real-life friends told me about a YouTube sketch comedy group called Balloon Shop who used to attend their high school. Back then, we thought they were flippin’ hilarious, but really, they weren’t and only got less so. Before becoming disenfranchised with them, one of their members posted a link on his Facebook to the Zero Punctuation review of Gears of War 2 on the Escapist in January of ’09. I thought it was pretty funny and decided to click around on the other videos on the site, when I found Unskippable. Watching that, I noticed that the voices seemed familiar and clicked the link to their site, whereupon I recalled that I had seen LRR’s “Fun With Microwaves” video back in 2008. And from there, things went squirrelly.

An archive binge ensued, and I continued to keep up with LoadingReadyRun as they released new videos and created new series. I paid special attention to CommodoreHustle and the Phailhaus, and also started listening to their podcast. When I realized that they were very much not dicks and actually had very good tastes, I began trying out things they recommended.  Here is a short list of things I experienced through the direct influence of LRR: In Bruges, Persona 4, Magic: the Gathering, Metal Gear Solid, Andrew WK, Child’s Play charity, Yu-Gi-Oh: Abridged, poutine, and more. I even gained a newfound appreciation for Sir Mix-a-Lot’s magnum opus, Baby Got Back.

But the amazing part is that these direct children also led me to secondary interests. The unholy gangbang of Persona 4, Yu-Gi-Oh: Abridged, and LRR’s personal recommendation led me to commit an atrocity I’d never dreamt possible: I actually watched anime. And not just the little bits of Yu-Gi-Oh and Dragonball Z I saw on Toonami after Ed, Edd, & Eddy when I was a kid, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Code Geass, and FLCL. Don’t worry, I haven’t turned into some otaku monstrosity or anything, but rather through LoadingReadyRun, I have experienced many different genres of entertainment I would have otherwise never even considered. They’ve really opened me up to a wider sample of culture, given me a better appreciation for the world around me, and simply entertained me in dozens of ways.

So thank you, LoadingReadyRun, for helping shape who I am today. You’ve led me to numerous culturally enriching sources of  entertainment and given me an assload of laughs. Keep doing the awesome stuff you do.

Unrelated, but I’ve written another article for HardyDev on the nominees for the Best AGS Game of 2010 award, which astute readers will notice is pretty much the same article I wrote last year with some of the names changed around.

Written by Drew Wellman

02/23/2011 at 12:31 AM

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The last two months in a picture (and also words)

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So it’s been approximately ages since I’ve done anything in this space, so I figured I’d quickly summarize my last two months with a picture.

(Numbers are roughly clockwise)

1) My torn-apart Eee PC 901. A while back, I broke the LCD by using it as a carrying handle, a use it neither was designed for nor deserved. So I ordered a replacement and assumed I’d be able to install it myself. This was a good assumption; expecting the shipper to send precisely the right model was not. All-in-all, the pins didn’t match up and the backlight didn’t work. Ordering the right part soon.

2) Machine of Death. A great book that I’ve been reading. I think it might be the first actual hold-it-in-your-hands paper book I’ve bought for my own personal reading enjoyment in years.

3) 3D glasses. I was on an Amazon shopping spree and figured why not.

4) My newly repaired Macbook Pro. The turdbiscuits at the Apple Store finally believed me that the issue was the same one I told them it was all along, namely that the Wi-Fi card was Wi-Fried, and repaired the slut of a laptop. So far, so good, but I’ve renamed it “Morgan”.

5) Playstation 2 and Persona 4. I picked up a used PS2 and a bunch of games for dirt cheap over the holidays and have really been enjoying it. Persona 4 is the one game I’ve spent the most time on, over 20 hours according to my save file but many more hours were played but lost to death. It’s really quite fun and I’m looking forward to playing more of it.

6) Magic: The Gathering deck. Yes, I’ve gotten into Magic. I have a few friends with whom I play a couple times a week and currently have 3 decks. Hopefully, I will be able to refrain from converting my entire life savings into trading card form.

7) My DVD copy of The Social Network. The local Blockbuster is shutting down and are in the process of liquidating their DVD inventory, so everything is on sale for, again, dirt cheap. I picked up the special edition of what I consider to be 2010’s best film for a delicious $8.

 

Otherwise, most of my time has been spent on game development and school. I made another Oceanspirit Dennis game and am currently working on two other unrelated, non-OSD game projects. I also might be working with a certain someone on a certain something that may or may not certainly be a book.

Written by Drew Wellman

01/25/2011 at 12:14 AM

Sequels that suck

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Been a while since one of these. As usual, if you disagree, you are wrong.
  1. Star Wars Prequels
  2. Two Towers
  3. Halo 3
  4. Spider-Man 3
  5. Batman and Robin
  6. Rocky Balboa
  7. Terminator 3
  8. Pirates 2 and 3
  9. Guitar Hero World Tour
  10. Sonic games made after 1994

New article by me on Hardydev about a crappy game that I hated. Let’s just say I had more fun skewering it than playing it. Another one that, in case you hadn’t already figured out, was an April Fool’s joke.

Written by Drew Wellman

04/08/2010 at 9:54 PM

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Dentists. Friggin’ Dentists.

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Dentists

It’s a well-known fact that all dentists are completely evil. This is never more clear than once every six months when I go in for my appointment. I seriously think they have it in for me because I don’t floss enough. They started off by hooking me up to the whirling X-ray machine of doom and bombarded my mouth with high-frequency electromagnetic radiation. Afterwards, they strapped me in a very uncomfortable chair in an extremely bright room and started taking pictures of the insides of my mouth, presumably to sell to some perverted teeth fetishists on the internet. It was at this point I realized that I was now at the mercies of a woman who clearly believes in “no pain no gain,” perhaps a little too much. As she tore into my gums, she began interrogating me, well aware of the fact that my mouth was busy being assaulted by her sharp implements of terror.

After a jolly good while of this, she decided to mix things up by smearing poor tasting goop in and around my mouth with a mechanical sander, pausing every so often to inject heavily fluorinated water into my increasingly uncomfortable mouth. She wasn’t particularly good at this bit, so half the water ended up bouncing into my upward-facing eyes. When she grew board of drowning me, she stuck a little vacuum tube in my mouth and told me with terrible smugness to swish, as if she knew I wanted to spew the vile mixture in her big, stupid face. After that, the head dentist came in and told me my teeth looked fine. So then I went home.

Games

In completely and totally unrelated news, them ol’ vidya-games are still up to no good. I’ve pretty much decided that Dragon Age isn’t my thing, but I might give it another shot after a cooling off period. I bought Call of Duty: World at War for the deceptively low price of $20. You might think that I say $20 is “deceptive” because the game was really worth much more, but you would be wrong. It was deceptive in the way that it convinced me to buy a wholly mediocre game with AI on the level of Pong. I still can’t stop playing Mass Effect 2, I got back on the horse with Bioshock, and I bought some new songs for Rock Band, so all-in-all a good bunch.

Movies

Recently, I’ve been watching the movies people accost me for having ignored. With movies like Alien(s), No Country for Old Men, and In Bruges, they are completely right. With Avatar, they are dead wrong. Something about that movie just bugs me, and the more I think about it, the more I want to stab James Cameron in the throat with cattle prod. I’m not sure where he went wrong. Aliens rocked, Avatar sucked, but why? As usual, I choose to blame CGI, something that they had significantly less of in 1986. I don’t care how detailed the digital models are or how expensive the motion capture was, the Na’vi look computer generated and no amount of lens flares will get them out of the uncanny valley. I also choose to blame 3D and the massive headache it gave me.

TV

Aw, who am I kidding? The only TV show I ever watch is Lost, which is slogging its way through its sixth season. The show has taken a significant dip in quality this time around, not to be confused with the dip last season, or the dip in season three. I’m beginning to lose faith in what I once thought was the greatest show in the history of shows, since no season has yet to live up to the awesomeness of the first. The writers have definitely realized that they can just make crap up and no one will call them out on it, so the questions created to questions answered ratio is hovering around 3.5. They don’t have long to wrap everything up, so they best be kicking into solvey-solvey mode pretty soon. And why the hell do they keep getting rid of all the black characters? Michael, Walt, Mr. Eko, Justin, they’re all suspiciously gone. Just sayin’.

Written by Drew Wellman

03/11/2010 at 1:55 AM

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McCarthy Chronicles: Episode 1 Video Review

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Here’s a short little video review I made to a short little adventure game. I did it for A Hardy Developer’s Journal, a site you should totally read every day at least 14 times.

Game created by Steve Poulton, aka Calin Leafshade. Site: http://thethoughtradar.com
Download game

Written by Drew Wellman

01/16/2010 at 8:55 PM

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Snow Leopard Top 6

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Here’s a video I did highlighting my top 6 favorite new Snow Leopard features, aside from, you know, the under-the-hood stuff.

Written by Drew Wellman

09/01/2009 at 9:22 PM

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