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Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Update o’ massiveness

If I keep up this mad pace of inactivity and procrastination, this blog’ll be back in Dormantville before you can say “long-term hiatus.”

So I guess this gives me opportunity to unload some thoughts that have managed to escape my cerebrum.

While on vacation, I had the rare opportunity to play what you might call a contemporary video game, i.e., one manufactured in the post-George H.W. Bush era. That game was Burnout 3 for the PS3, and my mind is still racing to catch up.

Hahaha, that was a pun. You see, it’s a racing game.

Of a type.

You see, it’s a racing game... with crashes!

Yes, it’s one of those crazy, smash-your-car-into-everything kind of games, requiring lightning-fast reflexes and other clichéd skills that I’m sure the average 8 month-year-old has acquired by now.

Awesome game, no diggity. But what’s with all the “-out” games? There’s the futuristic PS1-era Wipeout series, the Burnout games (soon to include four games), and now look out (hehe) for Flatout, a dirt-racing entry into the “-out” sweepstakes.

*Childish fantasy sequence commencing – cue fog, harp*

Wimp Out for the Nintendo Gamecube: in which the player relives the more embarrassing episodes from his/her adolescence. Can you work up the nerve to ask out your dream date, to stand up to the brutish bully, to finally mix yourself a complete “suicide” at the soda fountain (including root beer!)?

Foul Out, the latest twist on the venerable pro basketball genre of sports titles, allows you to compete not for the most thunderous monster jams, or the furthest three-pointers, nor even for the blingin’est ice fo’ yo’ mouf. Nope, this game reflects the sport in all its aggressive glory – the object of the game is to commit as many personal violations in one NBA contest as humanly possible, without any of the refs spotting your rough-housing ways. If they catch you more than five times, you know what happens... FOUL OUT!

The Sims: Out! A strictly non-hetero version of Will Wright’s super-popular people simulator. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

*Dream sequence kaput!*

And now, being only seven and a half months into the new year, it’s time for a nifty, long-in-the-making, all-inclusive roundup of what I’ve had the (sometimes mis-)fortune to catch in the hallowed glow of the silver screen.

Batman Begins ****
Director Christopher Nolan got the best cast you could imagine, and knocked this one out of the park. Mark Hamill or Crispin Glover would be very suitable as the Joker in Batman Continues or Begins 2 or whatever the sequel’s gonna be called.

Sin City ****
To say that this is the best thing Robert Rodriguez has ever been in creative contact with is the understatement of the year. Loyal treatment of visceral source material makes for a compelling watch. Not for everyone, but those with the stomach for strong java will cleave to this one for years.

Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith ***1/2
Georgie boy, ya done good. Not a flawless picture: plot holes a-plenty, and no death of Jar-Jar, but given the overall quality of this outing, more-or-less all is forgiven.

Howl’s Moving Castle ***1/2
More masterly Miyazaki magic.

War of the Worlds ***
Spielberg’s alien Armageddon doesn’t quite hold up to critical analysis (not too much is explained regarding the evil invaders’ motivation or even some of their methods) but for eye-popping visual destruction, and the some of the darkest, most stomach-churningly nihilistic imagery since, well, Sin City, this is one worth checking out.

Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior ***
Tony Jaa + crazy stunts = fun action flick.

Layer Cake ***
Visually striking Brit gangster yarn. Hard boiled but still utterly cool.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ***
Sweet redo of the Roald Dahl fantasy classic, retaining some but not all of the original movie’s bite and ingenuity. Perfect casting, imaginative storytelling, yet... still somewhat lacking here and there. Perhaps this Burton-Depp piece is repressively faithful to the novel and earlier cinematic effort – wherever the film seems to mimic the 1971 film, it suffers, but when it strikes a more “original” note (squirrels!), the results are winning.

Kingdome of Heaven **1/2
Ridley Scott, my nominee for most overrated film director out there (maybe on a fourth viewing, Blade Runner will finally work for me...), gets all epic-like again. I can’t say that I cared for any of the characters, but there is still much to admire in the movie’s technical pedigree (as with any Scott film), as well as in its rational and humane, if anachronistic, approach to religion-influenced politics.

Wedding Crashers **1/2
Aside from the Rachel McAdams/Isla Fisher (“stage five clinger”) material, this formulaic comedy can’t quite live up to its potential. Sporadically amusing but, on the whole, surprisingly boring and overwrought.

Constantine **
Like Punchdrunk Love (P.T. Anderson’s “serious” Adam Sandler movie) from a few years back, this is a “see-the-trailer” flick: if you’ve seen the previews, you’ve already seen all that the movie has to offer. (Come to think of it, I found Garden State to be similarly shallow.) I remember there being one scene near the end of this Keanu Reeves vehicle that would have been a stylish mini-masterpiece, but was chopped into shreds by an overactive editor.

High Tension (a.k.a Haute tension, a.k.a. Switchblade Romance) *
Nauseating, not (just) for its lurid, nasty slasher storyline and hideous gore, but for the gall of the filmmakers, who somehow thought that throwing in what is probably the most ludicrous “twist” I’ve ever seen would make their movie edgy and unique. More like embarrassing and insulting.

That's all for right now, folks. For those of your hanging on my every published word, all I can say is, keep on hangin'. Sooner or later I'll get back in the blogging swing of things.

And I'm seriously missing Nicole now. I really hope that she and her whole family are having fun in good ol' Duck. Wish you were here... no... wish I were there. :-)



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