Monday, November 30, 2009
DJ HERO – A BADASS VIDEO GAME REVIEW
It started back with that wacky, stepping sweat inducer, DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION. Keeping time with music has become a major part of modern videogaming. With the GUITAR HERO series (which is beginning to clog up with too many incarnations like the TONY HAWK series), it has come time to further push the boundaries of music/videogame fusion. DJ HERO makes a heroic push in the direction of innovation. Where GUITAR HERO has been primarily concerned with rock and metal acts, DJ HERO covers the rap, soul and R&B tunes that have been ignored for too long in video games.
You seasoned video gamers might look at the turntable controller and think it simple in design, unchallenging, and dismiss DJ HERO outright. This would be stupid. DJ HERO has game, and the game that it pulses with is thick, rough, and full of potential peril. The spinning wheel has three buttons (green, red, and blue) on the left side of it. Several music track rounds will be needed to get a feel for the easy rotation and scratching. To the left of the platter is the crossfader that slides left and right. The Euphoria button and the effects dial are slightly above the crossfader. By the time any player has hit the “medium” level of gameplay, all of these controls including the spinning of the platter will need to be integrated smoothly without a glance to the board. Your eyes need to be locked onscreen, or you’ll fumble. If you fumble and gameplay has been tight enough, a “rewind” feature allows you to bring back the fumbled area immediately and come correct.
This game stresses you hard with multitasking. Scratching is done by spinning the platter back and forth. Some of the scratching requirements are short and precise, and others are longer and a little looser. A choice of freestyle samples (For example Flavor Flav’s nasal “Yeeeeaaah boyyyyyyy,”) can be dropped within certain frames of each track. Adding to the complication is the crossfader which determines the use of the green and blue buttons on the turntable. Suddenly three tracks have the potential to be four tracks, and the four tracks will ultimately skip back and forth, forcing you to re-calibrate your hand-eye coordination.
DJ HERO separates the stadium DJs from the high school prom DJs almost immediately. Strategy becomes king, but first, mastery of the controls is required. There are no shortcuts in DJ HERO. You have to put in your work; then you can look around and see how to make that work in your points favor. The learning curve starts off brutally but ultimately balances. More than anything, this is a game that needs certain parts of it played over and over and over again until mastery is achieved. When you crossfade out, spike a few scratches, drop a sample, and tweak the effects dial for double point value then crossfade back, the feeling of accomplishment is huge. Work all of those motions under Euphoria, and the payout can be monstrous. All of the required moves down to every last snare hit are based on the track’s time signature. More advanced levels completely disassemble every sound in a track and require responses for each of them. The feeling of actually being an organic part of the mixing/creation of the music is completely in place with this game. With the right investment of time, skill, and patience, anyone can take this game all the way to the top.
DJ HERO contains some densely packed gameplay and a lot of familiar, superior music. You will recognize immediately that these remixes are complex and not some Casio Keyboard hogwash. DJs who love this music tweaked it for DJ HERO, and there isn’t a track that comes off as “weak” or “unrealized.” In most cases, a four to six minute track would have been welcome to thump for another several minutes. Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” is the initial backbone that training and some in-game tracks are based on. DJ HERO embraces its hip-hop roots with GRANDMASTER FLASH and proceeds to bury those roots deep in your head with infectious groove after infectious groove. The unlockable DJs range from typical, goofy ACTIVISION fantasy palette swaps to real-life heavies like DAFT PUNK and even DJ SHADOW himself. The music selection alone deserves attention. MOBB DEEP, THE BEASTIE BOYS, CYPRESS HILL, BENNY BENASSI, PUBLIC ENEMY, BLONDIE, MOTORHEAD and more are all mixed down and sampled the hell out.
DJ HERO is much more than a five minute diversion. This is the kind of game you play until your hands hurt and you are hours past that “one last song” commitment. I went into it with the intent of having a fun evening or two, and now I am locked into some competitive gameplay that doesn’t look like it will be loosening up anytime soon. DJ HERO is fresh and entertaining, delivering that innovative punch you have been looking for.
-MEDIASAURUS REX PLAYS DJ HERO ON THE WII EXCLUSIVELY
Mediasaurs Main Page
Contact M-Rex here
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Stephen leads a pretty quiet and dull life with few friends. He has his own demons from his past, but he still keeps a grasp on reality. Initially, Stephen and Cheryl have no idea that their partner Quaid has witnessed his parents being murdered by an axe-wielding lunatic and now wants to make others experience his own personal horror.
Based on a Clive Barker short story, DREAD is one of the year’s most depressing horror films. It will be hard for anyone not to be affected by this little gem. It has a very good combination of horror, gore, suspense, and characters that you can actually care about. When DREAD begins to climb towards its horrific conclusion, you may well feel like the witness to an execution. A solid debut from director DiBlasi (producer of MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN), horror rarely comes as hardcore as this.
Friday, November 27, 2009
THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL is such a well-crafted 80s nostalgia piece that it could have been filmed in 1983 and buried until now. The lingering camera angles, Steadicam work, freeze-frames, lighting, and costuming complete the time-travel package. But while this film has some good things going for it, it really should have been made and presented in the 80s. Not just in terms of style but also content, the package is so completely 80s that it is a modern misfire.
Tension, suspense, and a paralyzing dose of anticipation for something terrifying push this film out of the silly sort of pseudo-anxiety generated by standard horror fare and into the realm of real fear. For years I have wondered to myself (and anyone else that would listen) about what fear really is and how it can be harnessed within a film. THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL provides a pretty good answer. It succeeds by employing the creatures of the Id. Unfortunately, the fear this film generates needs to be explained, and THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL is lacking in this regard. It is unable pull off a third act that is anything more than average.
The film starts with Samantha (Jocelin Donahue), a college student who is tired of living the dorm life with a slutty roommate. She finds a house she wants to rent and needs to raise some money so she can move.
Samantha answers a “babysitter wanted” job board ad and soon finds herself at a house in the middle of nowhere. A bearded, towering Mr. Ulman (MANHUNTER’s Tom Noonan) explains to her that this isn’t a babysitting job at all. He quadruples his cash offer for her to work that night, and all Samantha has to do is stay in the house while his invalid mother sleeps upstairs.
Samantha agrees, and all manner of creepy house goings-on begin and continue to accelerate as the evening progresses. Strange sounds and pacing footsteps in the attic push this film in a THE SENTINEL sort of direction. As Samantha gets closer to snapping, and the audience is in on only a little more of what is going on than she is, the stress is sharpened effectively.
The weakness of this film, however, is that when the evils that are in THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL are finally revealed, they seem trite. If this film had dropped in 1984, it would have terrorized audiences and really raked in the cash. But for today’s jaded horror audiences, the thrills provided by THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL have all been seen already and done better in such 70s and 80s classics like THE FUNHOUSE and THE OMEN. This Geraldo Rivera-style exploitation of Satanism and witchcraft has been tired for some time. THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL unfortunately ends on a weird, inexplicable cliffhanger. Regrettably, the horrifying buildup of suspense leads to a weak payoff, and it’s a real disappointment because director Ti West obviously knows a thing or two about jangling a viewer’s nerves.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
By: MRS. SITH
Let me first start off by saying I am pretty sure I was the oldest one in that theater. It was painfully packed with 800 thousand 12 year old girls, and the whole place smelled of popcorn and perfume.
Alright, now I am not the type of person to get all caught up in the hype over Twilight. Don't get me wrong, I really liked Robert Pattinson in Harry Potter as Cedric Diggory. He seems to be a fairly decent actor, and he is showing promise to be something great. But that’s about as far as my excitement goes.
I have watched the first Twilight movie, and I am currently reading the books. Thus far I don't think they are altogether bad, and this entire storyline is romance at its finest. However, this series has completely rewritten everything known to be true about vampires and werewolves. I personally love the scary mystique about vampires and the awesome raw power of werewolves. Traditionally vampires only travel at night, lurking in the shadows and feeding on the blood of humans. They sleep in coffins during the day, and they don't like garlic and holy water. And werewolves are to me the definition of power and grace. They are amazing people most of the time, and when there is a full moon, they turn into uncontrollable, ravenous beasts, destroying anything and everything that’s in their path.
This series has completely changed all that. I am happy that the younger generation is getting excited about werewolves and vampires, but this series has completely revamped (haha get it) everything known to be true about these amazing creatures. In this movie the vampires are "vegetarian" which means they only feed on the blood of animals. They don't turn to ash in the sunlight; they sparkle as if their bodies are completely covered with diamonds. They don't sleep at all, and they go to school. They have graduated so many times (in the first movie) that there is a wall full of graduation caps. The werewolves--oh my, my, my--the werewolves, are nothing short of breathtaking. They are members of the local Indian tribe and are more like the incredible hulk than a werewolf. I guess that would make them the Incredible Werewolf. They are able to change at will, or if provoked. They are truly amazing.
The basic plot involves a vampire, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), who falls in love with a mortal girl, Isabella Swan (Kristen Stewart). Throughout the first movie they are together constantly. Then in the beginning of the second movie, in an effort to protect her, he leaves Forks Washington: "I promise it will be like I never existed," he says. Like any woman would be, Isabella is depressed and sad. She keeps trying to contact Edward’s "sister," Alice, via email in an effort to find him again to no avail. All of her emails get sent back, "message send failed."
Isabella finally begins hanging out with Jacob who also happens to be a werewolf. They hang out almost everyday. They build motorcycles, he shows her the reservation, and he begins to fall for her. Then in one last effort to see Edward, Isabella tries cliff diving. She successfully makes the jump but is quickly overcome by a wave. Jacob pulls her out and takes her home.
Meanwhile, Alice has seen a vision of Isabella dying in a cliff diving accident and rushes to make sure she is ok. Edward finds out about the reason for Alice's visit to Isabella, is overcome by grief, and goes to Rome to try to kill himself. Alice has the vision that Edward is going to do this, and she and Isabella race to Rome to save him. Isabella makes it to him before he is able to kill himself. Edward, being so grateful she is alive and still so very much in love with her, moves back to Forks to be with her again.
Upon Edward and Isabella's return to Forks, they run into a less-than-happy Jacob, and there is almost a fight between Jacob and Edward over Isabella. Isabella ends the fight, and Jacob, heartbroken, goes on his way.
This to me is probably the greatest story of forbidden love since Romeo and Juliet, to which, by the way, there are many clever references throughout the movie. I really enjoyed the action and fantastic CGI (especially with the werewolves), and the romance was enough to make any woman swoon. The things Edward would say to Isabella would bring a tear to Hades himself. "I couldn't bear to live in a world where you didn't exist" are words that made my heart jump and skip a beat all at the same time. People just don't talk that way or feel that way about other people anymore. It was touching.
In a world full of hate, war, and greed, this movie is a good reminder that there is still kindness, love, and sacrifice. Throughout the movie, I found myself thinking of the only one who is my soul and how I couldn't live in a world where he didn't exist. He is my air, my strength, and he is the light in my skies. He is my Edward. I really enjoyed this movie, and I give it 4 out of 5 Sith Stars.
"These violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph die, like fire and powder, which as they kiss consume." Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene VI
MEDIASAURS MAIN PAGE
CONTACT M-REX HERE
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
By: THE MAD HATTER
As young women and men, many of us feel like we can take on the world. Many of us feel that no matter what our parents, our teachers, or any other adult of consequence wants to tell us, we know what's better. We know what we want, and we know how we'll get it. What we didn't know when we were young is that life promises to hand us an education. The only question is whether that education will be granted us the easy way or the hard way.
AN EDUCATION is the story of Jenny (Carey Mulligan), a schoolgirl growing up in London in 1960. She is in her final year of high school and working hard to gain acceptance into Oxford. She struggles with Latin, plays the cello, and secretly yearns to be a French beatnik, y'know, normal teenage stuff.
One afternoon she is waiting out a particularly brutal rainstorm when an older man (Peter Sarsgaard) pulls up in a sporty Bristol. He rolls down his window and claims to want to save her cello from any further water damage than it might have already suffered (Great opening line - donchathink?). Moments later he is offering her a ride home and introducing himself. His name is David, and he very quickly becomes an admirer.
However, Jenny's parents are slightly overbearing, especially her father Jack (Alfred Molina). He has a talent for making gentlemen callers feel pretty darned worthless. What chance does a suitor like David have? A pretty good one it would appear, as David is clearly not only courting Jenny, but her entire family. And if his knack for pushing her curfew is any measure, the courtship is going well.
While her friends and parents are fully behind her budding romance, the resistance comes from her teachers. English professor Miss Stubbs (Olivia Williams) and headmistress Ms. Walters (Emma Thompson) urge Jenny not to wade too deeply into the water since they have seen more than one girl get swept away in the current of love. Unfortunately their lessons are competing with weekends in Paris and nights of fine music and food. What chance do they have at guiding an impressionable young mind in love?
As a film, AN EDUCATION is a remarkable achievement. From its stunning opening credit sequence to the apropos poetry of the closing song's lyrics, it is as close to a perfect film as I have seen in a long time. Carey Mulligan is luminous in her performance. With her every word and glance, she embodies a young lady who is both tempted by sophistication and too smart to be completely seduced by it. Through the course of the film, she must embody everything from an mousy bookworm to an Audrey Hepburn-esque beacon of grace. To Mulligan's credit, she achieves it all with ease.
After Carey Mulligan, the most memorable performance comes from Alfred Molina as her somewhat overbearing, often opinionated yet easily seduced father, Jack. Molina gives Jack both an authoritative and bumbling quality, and such duality is difficult to achieve. Like many fathers, he wants nothing less than the best for his daughter. Where Molina really shines is when it seems like the best has come calling for his daughter in the form of David. He wants to hold fast to his sternness but cannot help but wear an expression of excitement. Matter of fact, the way Molina plays these moments, Jack seems almost more excited by David than his own daughter.
The film is a tremendous achievement for both writer Nick Hornby and director Lone Scerfig. This is only Hornby's second screenplay, but he is a literary icon having penned such novels as About a Boy and High Fidelity. I'm happy to report that he has brought his talent for everyman introspection to this adaptation of an essay written by Lynn Barber. He has taken her melodic temptation and given it lyrics to the point where it tempts us all. At first you'll wonder how such a clever girl can be wooed by the charms of a stranger. When you hear Hornby's words coming out of Sarsgaard's mouth, you'll understand.
Lone Scerfig, a Danish director best known for ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS has officially arrived thanks to her work on AN EDUCATION. She composes every shot with the luminance of a pre-Raphaelite painting and pushes every actor to their deepest level of honesty. She leads us down the path in such a way that when Jenny stands before her headmistress questioning the worth of an Oxford education, we actually feel a momentary urge to back her up and demand answers ourselves. Quite simply, Scerfig's guidance of her actors, and glorious photography is some of the best directing I've seen all year.
AN EDUCATION is a story about what happens when you bet on the wrong person--specifically when you bet big. Jenny stakes it all on the world David offers. He might indeed be able to scoop her up and carry her over the threshold into a life of champagne and caviar. The question that AN EDUCATION begs of Jenny is whether she should surrender everything else she might ever want to that. Should Jenny take her pile of chips--her schooling, her family, her independence--and place them all on the part of the board David offers?
The point isn't whether or not one will find themselves at such crossroads; it's almost a mathematical certainty that everyone will at least once. The point is, whether we make the right choice or the wrong, do we learn from it? Over and over fate wants to teach us lessons in life. Fate's lessons never occur in a classroom and can't be unceremoniously ended by a bell at three pm. When fate decides it's time to teach us something, the tricky part is whether or not we open ourselves up to such an education.
-THE MAD HATTER
READ MORE FROM THE MAD HATTER HERE
THE MEDIASAURS MAIN PAGE
CONTACT M-REX HERE
Monday, November 23, 2009
By: SPINAL VILLAIN
With the triumphant return of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (MW2), many a woman, these days, must be feeling neglected. Gaming geeks rejoice and camp out on their sofas or in their mom's basement as they gorge themselves in the multiplayer experience of Infinity Ward's (IW) sophomore release.
MW2 brings back many of the classic moments and experiences that made the first Modern Warfare truly enjoyable. Many things have been tweaked, changed, or even removed. IW has smoothed out and upgraded the graphics engine on this installment as expected. Any competent game maker should have this well in hand, so I will not mention visual graphics any further.
MW2 offers a multitude of new maps for players to get lost in. Most are medium to large-scale maps. I'm told IW has plans for at least two multiplayer map packs to be offered as DLC.
If multiplayer isn't enough for you, IW has made the campaign longer than that in the first Modern Warfare and added the new "Spec Ops" mode for two to play online co-op.
Let's get to the meat of this beast: the guns.
MW2 offers an unprecedented amount of weaponry for you to choose from and customize via attachment upgrades. All weapons in each class have the same upgraded attachments as well as the same way to earn them. Assault rifle upgrades, for example, include the red dot aperture sight, grenade launcher, underside shotgun, holographic sight (upgraded red dot sight), thermal scope, ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gun sight) scope, FMJ (Full Metal Jacket bullets [FMJ's do deeper penetration through walls and don't suffer as much from the reduced damage of shooting through walls]), heart beat sensor, and extended magazines (extra ammo).
Here's a list of the Assault Rifles:
One thing I find interesting is that IW has decided to get rid of so many guns that were outdated, yet some new weapons in the roster aren't current in the spectrum of modern warfare at all. Fans of Die Hard will recognize this weapon as the one with which Karl hunted down John McClane all over the Nakatomi building.
So obviously, this weapon is +20 years old and from the European theatre of military operations. IW has taken note of this, and many guns that appear in MW2 are from the EU.
Machine guns aren't the only vintage weapon added, though. The model 1887 lever action shotgun will remind many movie goers of fan-favorite Arnold's signature one-hand, spin-cock-to-reload shotgun.
There are also sub-machine guns, light machine guns, launchers (rocket and grenade), grenades, claymores, shotguns, machine pistols, sniper rifles, throwing knives, and handguns to round out your arsenal. Also making its way into your potential inventory is the riot shield, a defensive shield that protects it's users from bullets (except your feet--you have to crouch) but not explosions.
Many things from CoD4 did not return. The AK-74u, G36c, M14, R700, Scorpion, M60, etc. did not find their way back onto Infinity Ward's final weapons roster. Weapons weren't the only thing excluded either. Perks such as the bandolier have been shoved aside for the scavenger perk which lets you re-supply off of dead enemies, but only if you have weapons or equipment that are common with theirs. The triple frag perk has been removed and so has the now notorious "Juggernaut" perk.
Every perk in MW2 now has a "Pro" version of it you have to unlock via challenge to reap its benefits. The challenges are simple in most cases: kill X amount of enemies with selected perk, and you unlock the Pro version. A fine example would be the much desired “Bling" perk which lets you put two weapons attachments on your primary weapon. The pro version allows for two attachments on your secondary weapon as well. Ahh-soo. Very cool. I loved this one instantly.
Another thing that's causing quite a buzz are the now customizable kill streaks. You start out with UAV, Care Package, and Predator Missile. But after certain level ups, you get to choose a kill streak to unlock, and you choose which one want to cause carnage with. Each of these have extremely good uses. Some are just more situational than others. Here's the break down, mediasaurs style:
3 kills–UAV (unmanned aircraft that circles the map showing enemy locations)
4 kills–Care Package (random kill streak reward or ammo resupply delivered via
airdrop anywhere on the map that you mark with a red smoke grenade)
4 kills–Counter UAV (jams enemy radar)
5 kills–Sentry Gun (remote operated gun delivered the same as a care package and you position by carrying it to where you want it)
5 kills–Predator Missile (laptop controlled missile that drops straight down onto the
6 kills–Precision Air Strike (sends in a wave of fighters to carpet bomb a section of the
map you select--works best with a UAV)
7 kills–Harrier Strike (sends in a small wave of Harriers to bomb a small section of the
map in the same way as a precision air strike, afterwards, one Harrier remains to
gun down enemies for a short while)
7 kills–Attack Helicopter (Helicopter roams the map gunning down enemies)
8 kills–Emergency Airdrop (4 random kill streak rewards delivered the same as a care
9 kills–Pave Low (sends in an upgraded version of the attack helicopter with more
armor and more guns. Sikorsky MH-53)
9 kills–Stealth Bomber (precision air strike but with no warning given to the enemy
team--works great with UAV)
11 kills–Chopper Gunner (control an attack helicopters main gun via laptop)
11 kills–AC-130 Gunship (become the gunner of a AC-130 gunship's 3 primary
weapons: 15mm machine gun, 45mm cannons or 105mm howitzers—a player
15 kills–EMP (call in an Electro-Magnetic Pulse that disables all enemy electronics
including UAV's, thermal scopes, red dot sights, and even enemy air support
[they fall to the ground. Badass!!]. I'm told this will even counter the tactical
nuke, giving this the biggest possibility for tactical advantages.)
25 kills–Tactical Nuke (call in a nuke that kills everyone on the board and ends the
game outright regardless of previous score. The team that had the nuke called in wins instantly. Hiroshima baby!)
By the time you reach the maximum level (70), all kill streaks will be unlocked, and you now have tons of options available to you. Another plus in MW2 is that you now get points every time you shoot down enemy air support. UAVs are 50 pts. Attack Helos are 200 points, and Pave Lows and AC-130s are 400 points. AC-130s deploy flares every time you get a target lock with an anti-vehicle rocket launcher. Infinity Ward certainly doesn't want to make anything easy, so they find ways to counter just about any perk/weapon/kill streak to balance things out well.
Players can now view their earned accolades and how many times they've earned them total as well. Halo has a similar concept with medals. But MW2 has taken it one step further and rewarded players more points for faster level-ups every time they kill someone creatively, efficiently, or even brutally. Head shots, longshots, executions, double-kills, triple-kills, etc. are all in for bonuses. My only problem with this is it tends to clutter up the screen, and in the heat of a hectic battle, it can get a little distracting. A distracted soldier is a dead soldier (army wives' expression).
CoD4: Modern Warfare set new records in sales and won game of the year. I have no doubt Modern Warfare 2 will follow in its predecessor's footsteps and continue to convert the Halo fanboy into a fan of Modern Warfare.
A third-person point of view is now available with this installment to keep things fresh and interesting for those who may want a change from FPS point of view.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
INK - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW
INK is a wonderful R-Rated, dream-world fantasy with panache to burn. It is filmed through a washed-out lens which gives the film a ghostly, slightly distorted quality and allows a comfortable jump from reality to the spirit realm. The effects are fun to watch and hear. Yes, hear. There is a Zippo lighter sound sample that is harnessed so ingeniously that it is no longer a Zippo lighter sample; it becomes something new. INK, with a flurry of visual effects, secure plot, and eerie settings, creates a new world that I want to see more of.
The opening two scenes start the seriously human, emotional pieces of machinery churning. John (Chris Kelly) is leaving his place of work. He is stressed, driving, and screaming the f-word at the top of his lungs. The second scene begins with John and his single-digit-aged daughter, Emma (Quinn Hunchar), who is waking him up the morning of his day off.
“I worked 80 hours this week. What did you do?” He asks.
The dynamic explored between the two is characterized by John’s resistance to interaction with his daughter and her push for interaction. It is sentimental and painful. It illustrates what is wrong with being an adult and what is right about taking care of a child’s needs. When the scene fades and the title “INK” is centered on the screen, the viewer really has no idea where the film is going.
The next leg of the film explains the hazy look of everything as the good (“storytellers”) and the evil (“incubi”) of the dream world come to impart good and bad dreams to those that sleep. What is made clear is that the storytellers who deal in good dreams (by a mere brush of the hand to a sleeping face) are far more plentiful than the bad (who encase the nightmaree in a tarlike cloud).
There is something amiss in the sleep world, though. Ink, a tinkling, chain-wearing, heavily shnozzed (you will have to see this beak to believe it) individual wrapped in a tattered black Obi-Wan robe, shows up to kidnap Emma’s soul. With a two-fingered jab to Emma’s forehead, Ink loosens her spirit. Blowing through a window (that re-panes itself, a regular effect in this film) comes Allel (Jennifer Batter) to protect Emma. Ink is neither storyteller nor incubi. But he is a definite brawler, and a fight ensues. More storytellers appear and enter the fight. The fight itself is a stylistic, heavily edited and satisfying sequence with lots of destroyed objects springing back to their original form. Ink ultimately gets away with Emma.
The rest of the film serves as an explanation for Ink’s behavior and what is done throughout the ranks of the storytellers to save Emma. Throughout the film, the incubi and the storytellers ramp up their efforts to either snare or free Emma. The ranks of the storytellers are loosely explained, such as the pathfinders like Jacob (Jeremy Make) whose eyes are electrical-taped shut but can somehow physically affect the land of the awake. Jacob and Allel are on a mission to save Emma from Ink. This mission is also embraced by a martyr storyteller named Liev (Jessica Duffy).
INK, in its most distilled, definable form, is a fantasy story that exists outside of consciousness and time. It is also a tale of good versus evil on what seems to be some sort of bizarre spiritual footing. The storytellers can be construed as angels and the incubi as demons, but there is a lot more going on than just that.
Consequences for bad behavior are presented. And as the film closes in on the history and identity of Ink, the audience is pulled through a harrowing example of a professional and personal life in ruin and its unfortunate blast radius. The emotional landscape of life is explored in this film: falling in and out of love, regret, failure, redemption and hatred. INK delivers a cornucopia of insights into feelings conveyed through memories and dreams.
For a low-budget film, INK generates money-shot after money-shot, all with solid replay value. Stark imagery and the use of a black and white frame over the faces of the otherwise in-color incubi are above and beyond the call of duty here. The black and white faces of the incubi (which look curiously like DR. STRANGELOVE) shimmer and warble. A particular car accident is so badass that it could very well become the next great visual Internet meme.
There is an obvious amount of love, commitment and determination dripping from this project. Jamin Winans, the screenplay writer/director, has obviously booted the Hollywood door open with this one. He deserves all of the bigtime attention he pulls for this original piece of cinema. While sampling elements of DARK CITY, THE MATRIX, ALTERED STATES, DREAMSCAPE and basically any other science fiction film that deals with consciousness and its potential to be put on hold, INK finds its own place.
Unfortunately, INK did not have a theatrical release, but it is a cool independent film that could be the start of a franchise. It is well-written and, outside of a few moments of awkward acting and perhaps running ten to twenty minutes too long, really holds it own against any number of Hollywood blockbusters at the multiplex today. This film leaves the viewer with several concepts to think about long after the crawl of credits. It is films like these that give me hope for cinema in the future. Creativity, style, and above all, an original plot make INK well worth the rental or purchase. Even better, this would be worthwhile to see on the big screen for a late night showing at an independent theater.
Mediasaurs Main Page
Mediasaurs INK thread
INK OFFICIAL WEBSITE WHERE YOU CAN BUY THE DVD
Contact M-Rex Here
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
THE DAMNED UNITED – A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW
THE DAMNED UNITED is not the cornball, Hollywood feel-good drivel kind of sports film that we have been conditioned to expect. THE DAMNED UNITED is based on a non-fiction book that gives an historical retrospective of British soccer. Like most sports films it is about winning. But at its foundation it is about something much more significant to the human experience than just winning a championship or “finding that spark.” When the credits roll at the end, the concern has little to do with the concept of winning or the game of soccer and a whole lot to do with the human experience and the value of relationships.
Seriously, how many sports films are out there about a motley crew that rises above its limitations? In this cliché scenario, the misfits need to make it to the championship and possibly not even win the final contest to prove that they are more than a conglomerate of human waste. Such a theme has been in film for generations. THE BAD NEWS BEARS, SLAPSHOT, SUNSET PARK and more have followed this path. Sometimes, as in films like ROCKY, RUDY or more recently, THE BLIND SIDE, the spotlight rests upon one player that needs to prove that he has what it takes to be a winner. But THE DAMNED UNITED takes a refreshingly different perspective on the sports film in that it isn’t about the athletes; it is about the management.
UNITED starts with Brian Clough (Michael Sheen) taking the management position for Leeds United, the best soccer team in Britain, 1974. Jogging back and forth in its timeline from 1968 to 1974, we are treated to the internal workings of Clough and what he went through to get to manage the top football team in the country.
When Clough arrives five days late to his first day on the job, the atmosphere is already uncomfortable. Clough is full of ego though, claiming “Brian Clough, Uber f*cking Allies,” in regards to how he plans on being remembered. Clough is talking about making a soccer family, but the film is already revealing that he has lost sight of what a family really is. On his way to Leeds, Clough gives an interview at Yorkshire Television studios in which he publically eviscerates the previous coach, Don Revie (Colm Meaney). The rift that Clough feels between himself and Revie is personal and not about one coach doing a better job than the next. This film is about what events built up to that interview and all the damage that has been done to Clough’s personal life.
The late 60s footage shows Clough and his assistant Peter Taylor (HARRY POTTER’S Timothy Spall) as they hammer their little Derby soccer team into first division champions. There is a lot of hustle, and in Clough’s case, there is the beginning of some seriously unhealthy ego. UNITED plants its emotional germs in these scenes with precision. Clough’s commitment to Derby is demonstrated as is his commitment to good sportsmanship. When Revie comes to town with the team from Leeds and Clough sees what this team of plebian champions is doing to the sport of soccer, he becomes obsessed: Derby must beat the Leeds team at any cost.
The scenes depicting the early years of Clough’s career focus on family and the connection between Taylor and Clough. The men are close. Taylor feeds Clough crisps as he drives to proposition a potential player. They comprehend and compliment each other. More than once Clough gathers Taylor’s face in his hands and plants a juicy, crowd-pleasing kiss on his cheek. It is all hetero though. Taylor has his wife and kids as does Clough. The emotional bond between the two men is strong, and their mutual desire to make Derby formidable strengthens it even more.
In 1974 when Clough shows up to take his position as the Leeds United team manager with no Taylor and no wife in tow, just his two boys, the story is ripe to be told. What went wrong? Taylor and Clough were on their way to the top and seemed inseparable. Whatever happened, it has taken its toll on Clough, and he takes Leeds into its worst season in 20 years, so much so that he is “sacked” from the team.
People who want to see some good soccer, game fouls, and bodies twisted in a muddy field won’t be disappointed. This is definitely a sports movie, but it is much more concerned with the ego, needs, and character of the managers, chairmen, and people making the decisions about teams behind closed doors. Beautifully filmed (some of the British countryside shots captured are downright dizzying) this film takes on the spirit of that early 70s era and flaunts it without the blatancy of other recent 70s salutations like the gaudy BANK JOB. Familiar faces are in place as well. Stephen Graham (Tommy in SNATCH) plays Leeds’ snotty team captain Billy Bremmer. Chris Ineson (Finch in the British OFFICE) is onscreen for a hot second as a television journalist. There is even a period piece featuring Muhammad Ali referencing Clough enclosed to seal the time-capsule deal. Cigars are smoked, and the kids are reading their WIZARD comic books. When things are happy in this film, it feels sincere to deep levels of the soul. So when it all unravels, the pain is acute and the solution seems completely out of reach.
UNITED plucks the heartstrings, but is mindful of the over-pluckage that sports films have been guilty of in the past. Make no mistake, the testosterone in this film can barely be contained, and it is completely concerned with pride and arrogance. Clough and Revie are men who don’t bend easily. But the delicate, redemptive third act demonstrates the choice to bend.
The conclusion of the film is satisfying. It ends on a note that makes a viewer envious of the emotional world that is presented in THE DAMNED UNITED.
Mediasaurs Main Page
Mediasaurs DAMNED UNITED thread
Contact M-Rex here
The greatest ability that PARANORMAL ACTIVITY possesses (heh) is, much like it’s marketing campaign, the power of suggestion. It utilizes the audience’s imaginations to create the extent of the threat in the film. Very early in the film the main characters invite a psychic to their house, and the information he gives plants seeds in our minds as to what the possibilities of this evil might be capable of. Later, we see one of the main characters flipping through a book on demons, showing us numerous pictures of beasts; the next time it cuts to a night shot while they are in bed, the same event is ten times scarier because the audience has let their curiosity create a monster far worse than anything they could ever show.
Monday, November 16, 2009
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW
By: THIS GUY OVER HERE
The children & family genre is overstuffed with bubblegum movies that it makes a film like Where The Wild Things Are almost impossible to determine how it will play with its [supposed] target audience. This is probably the most personal children’s film I’ve ever seen. While it is told, brilliantly I might add, through the eyes of a child, it seems like it goes one step further and is told through the eyes of an adult looking through the eyes of a child, (Being John Malkovich?) It’s smart, it’s scary, it’s heartwarming, its tearjerking. The entire movie had me feeling like I had the heart of The Grinch when it swells up too big for my chest. It’s truly a spectacle. By the time the credits were rolling I was already thinking fondly back on it. Oh, and the score by Karen O and the Kids = amazement.
- THIS GUY OVER HERE
THIS GUY OVER HERE - Counting down the best films of the 2000s
Mediasaurs Main Page
Mediasaurs WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE thread with more pics than you can handle.
Contact M-Rex here
Friday, November 13, 2009
BLACK DYNAMITE is a revenge film at its nucleus. What it does with its posturing in its revenge film framework is reference virtually every blaxploitation film ever made while reveling in some of the most outlandish cheesiness ever committed to a mainstream film. Boom microphones hang in scenes and pester the actors, stock-footage car wrecks are brazenly edited in, and preposterous gun and fistfight sequences actually function. All of this playful applesauce is presented with a sophisticated brand of navel-gazing humor that works like a well-oiled .357 magnum.
Set in the flashy 70s, the movie follows Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) as he attempts to find out who killed his brother. What he unravels is a conspiracy theory that takes him all the way to “The Man” himself. Along the way, Dynamite learns of a heroin deluge in the local orphanage and the true motivation behind the flooding of malt liquor into the black community.
The references to SUPERFLY, SHAFT, THE MACK, and any movie starring Fred Williamson are so thick that the film might alienate someone who isn’t well-versed in blaxpoitation cinema. What BLACK DYNAMITE does to remedy this potentially huge lacuna is deliver a heavy dosage of quick edits, clever dialogue, and more sight gags than you have seen since the NAKED GUN series.
The supporting cast is incredibly strong as well. Byron Minns plays Bullhorn, Dynamite’s street-couplet spewing homeboy from way back. There is also a particularly outstanding performance by Mykelti Williamson as Chicago Wind. The outcome of Wind’s trash talk is one of the more memorable occurrences in the film. Other actors like Bokeem Woodbine (Black Hand Jack) and Arsenio Hall (Tasty Freeze) put in the work that is to be expected. It is indisputable that this is Michael Jai White’s show, and he hams it up as hard as possible in every damn scene he is in. White has hammered himself into superhero shape and is shirtless for a good part of the film. His ferocity is unparalleled as he cleans the pushers off the streets.
A particularly fun aspect of this film is that it is completely slapstick, and everyone in the film does a great job of playing straight. All of the silliness, ridiculous editing, and comedic soundbytes (DYNO-MITE!) are taken as a normal part of life in this ensemble-piece comedy.
If you know your blaxploitation films, BLACK DYNAMITE is definitely calibrated to hit your funny bone. If you aren’t as familiar with those wonderfully hard-edged, politically incorrect films of the late 60s and early 70s, some of BLACK DYNAMITE is definitely going to rush right over your head. This caveat isn’t going to ruin the experience, however. The kung-fu parodying in particular is straight out of BLACK BELT JONES, but any other kung-fu film will do. Surprisingly, BLACK DYNAMITE’S racial stereotyping never cruises too far into the offensive zone.
BLACK DYNAMITE is an insider-joke paradise with plenty of humor for those not completely in on the joke. Everything is larger than life in this film; from libido to explosions all aspects of this film are over-emphasized and exaggerated to extreme levels. This is a party-film that has dozens of quotable lines and re-cueable scenes. Simple yet complicated, smooth yet rough, BLACK DYNAMITE is the perfect comedic concoction of a modern-day blaxploitation parody.
MEDIASAURS MAIN PAGE
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW
REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA is one of those movies that has been lurking about on the outskirts of pop culture and never quite stepped up as “must-see” viewing. If we were still in a “video store” society, this might be the movie that you choose because your original choice is out for the night. REPO is a flashy, well-concocted musical diversion. It is fun to watch, fun to listen to, but empty and not particularly memorable.
REPO is a musical on the disturbing tip. It is trying to pluck that same nerve that THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW plucked back in the ‘70s. However, The RHPS had things going for it that this film does not. The most glaring example is that RHPS was original. It wasn’t biting any other film or following in the footsteps of a predecessor. Without Baz Luhrmann’s previous films to draw on, REPO would be vacant. Paul Sorvino’s presence is a complete tribute to Luhrmann’s heavy artillery remix of ROMEO AND JULIET. But the re-writing and sampling doesn’t end there. MOULIN ROUGE has been bled dry in order to get REPO up and moving. In fact, the grand stage show at the end of REPO is damn near Lego-interchangeable with ROUGE.
REPO is a soap opera about Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino) who owns the genetics business GeneCO. He sells organs for profit. When people can’t pay their bills, he sends in the Repo Man (Anthony Head) who slashes into the customer and takes the organs back to Rotti. One cannot escape the Monty Python vibe here, even though the splatter and mood are meant to be gloomy and not fishing for laughs. The story is, in essence, about these two men, their decisions over a 17 year period, and all of the lives that they have affected in that time.
There is a mushroom cloud of ruined/corrupted lives in this film, and REPO focuses on its center. To start with, Rotti has cancer and has to leave his mercenary GeneCo to someone when he dies. He has three full-grown kids in the running who are all horrible human beings.
Amber Sweet (Paris Hilton), Luigi Largo ( Bill Mosely) and Pavi Largo ( Nivek Ogre from SKINNY PUPPY) are all vamped up and atrocious. Amber is addicted to plastic surgery to the point that her face is falling off, murderous Luigi is in need of anger management, and Pavi’s face is literally tacked on and interchangeable with other faces depending on his mood.
There is also a creepy subplot about the rampant abuse of a drug named Zydrate. This drug is sucked (via obnoxious sized hypodermic needle) out of the nostrils of the dead by the Graverobber (Terrence Zdunich). The Graverobber also functions as the limited-perspective narrator of the story.
At the heart of this musical is a tragedy and Rotti’s unhinged solution to it all. While the film’s plot is unnecessarily complicated and requires graphic novel presentations to get the story across, it is really rather simple. Rotti wants to leave his empire to someone other than his disgusting offspring. There is a lot of overwrought backstory that determines who this inheritor should be. But to give details here would be to give a lot of spoilers, and they are not all that interesting anyway.
On the up side, a lot of splatter (people get hacked to bits in this film) and some extremely strong singing voices round this film out. REPO succeeds in that it really feels like a film that should be viewed in a scummy theater downtown at midnight. It ends with enough questions festering for a sequel. And though soaked in blood and strange surgeries, REPO is surprisingly entertaining and light. There are lessons embedded into the plot in order to give the story some substance, but they seem too preachy. And in the end, REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA is no more than a diversion. It isn’t a film to be taken seriously or to be pored over. There really isn’t very much going on here, but it sure is pretty to look at and listen to.
Mediasaurs Main Page
Mediasaurs REPO! Discussion Thread, and more pictures than you can handle.
Contact M-Rex Here
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
CLASH OF THE TITANS - BADASS FORUM INFO
We have been keeping up with the CLASH OF THE TITANS remake. Our issue is rather simple: This movie should be an ensemble piece, starring Mickey Rourke.
Mediasaurus Rex: Is filming.
If I was Ray Harryhausen, I would be irritated.
Liam Neeson takes on the role of the mighty Zeus and Ralph Fiennes plays the role of Hades, god of the underworld, who feeds on human fear.
Liam Neeson takes on the role of the mighty Zeus
WRONG, should have been Mickey Rourke as Zeus.
and Ralph Fiennes plays the role of Hades, god of the underworld, who feeds on human fear.
WRONG, should have been Mickey Rourke as Hades.
I know they can't cast him in both roles, but they could have at least got one right.
They can't cast him in both roles. WHY? They should have cast him in all 3. Perseus, Zeus and Hades. POINT BLANK
ROURKE IS MANLY ENOUGH TO DO IT AND PULL OFF A 60 MILLION OPENING WEEKEND
He would probably do it all for under 20 mil too.
Liam Neeson will make a good, (towering) manly Zeus IMHO. Neeson can bring in the maniless.
Rourke as Hades or Perseus should've also been a given in this equation.
I really like the original, so this re-make (of FAILure) had better be damned good for me to even acknowledge it in theaters or DVD.
Rourke vs Neeson?
ROURKE HANDS FORKING DOWN
I don't know that Mr. Taken can do it. Actually, MR. TAKEN MAKES ME ANGREEEEEEE
Rourke as the king of gods is beyond fitting.
Rourke as the man with the ballage to handle a wench like medusa is on-point.
Rourke as the god of the underworld is a foregone conclusion.
*forwards thread to b*tches who are sullying the good CLASH OF THE TITANS name*
I wasn't implying a Neeson vs Rourke.
Just stating that I think Neeson will be an above average (atleast) Zeus. I may be wrong, but I (or we) won't know til the movie is out.
Rourke isn't in the movie anyways.
Of course Rourke isn't a part of the equation.
And you sir, need to feel the manliness of Rourke flowing through you...like the force. I was trying to come up wuith something gayer sounding, but I think that just about sums it up.
I am being silly. The very idea of pitting Rourke against Neeson is like dropping a caterpillar on an red and hive. IT IS A FORGONE CONCLUSION THAT THE CATERPILLAR IS GONNA GET MUNCHED.
Caterpillar = Neeson BTW.
Anyone can look like Thor.
But who can look like Rourke?
I am gonna spam Hollywood with a series of emails demanding Rourke be in everything.
Also I am going to demand that they re-shoot WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE,PUBLIC ENEMIES, and most of the robot CG shots in TRANSFORMERS so that Rourke can act in them. Yes, Optimus is a big robot, but Rourke is about 900x more manly.
We should also consider getting Schwartenfok outta office. ROURKE FOR GOVERNATOR
I think that Rourke could make that Bubo the owl good.
ROURKE WOULD MAKE EVERYTHING MANLY AS FOK
A while back I just couldn't take the original seriously. I stopped while he was taming the Peggassus.
Too bad, he pulls a number on the Kraken with Medusa's head.
I want to see Rourke do Pegasus, with that long flowing mane and prancing and kicking in the air.
Rourke could do the whole film hands down and it would rip the very fabric of the concept of film that we know.
I can't sit through the original.
When homegirl sits in the cage and the vulture takes her away I am usually fast asleep.
I was trapped in a hotel room a few years ago and it was on. I tried to watch it and I woke up the next morning late for my appointment.
IT IS A FREAKING LULLABY.
The new CLASH OF THE TITANS trailer dropped today
To read the rest of this thread and see the pictures, click here
Feel free to log in with your opinion.
MEDIASAURS MAIN PAGE
Monday, November 9, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
THE BOX - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW
By: THE MAD HATTER
A weird guy knocks on your door one morning and offers you a box. It’s got a bright red button covered by a locked lid. Weird guy tells you that if you press the button, two things will happen: you’ll be given one million dollars cash (tax free!), and somewhere, someone who you do not know will die. Seems like a cool movie doesn’t it? Too bad it doesn’t end there.
Allow me to fill in a few details. The couple who’s door gets knocked are Arthur (James Marsden)and Norma (Cameron Diaz). They have some slight financial burdens, but I emphasize the word slight. The weird guy is Mr. Steward (Frank Langhella). A polite, well dressed, soft-spoken man, with about a quarter of his face horribly disfigured. Arthur and Norma hum and haw for a few hours, but since the only have a day to press-or-not-press, a decision has to be made. Norma presses the button. True to his word, Steward returns, takes back the box, and gives them the cash. When asked what will happen to the device now, he says that it will be reprogrammed…and given to someone, somewhere, who Norma and Arthur do not know. (Dun-dun-duhhhhhhhhhhh….).
Friends, if this movie ended with that, I’d probably be raving about it. Unfortunately, at this point the story takes us by the hand and leads us down a rabbit hole that includes strangers who silently stare, random nosebleeds, wet gateways to other dimensions, and a fatal incident caused by Santa Claus. Yes, really.
The WTF factor of this movie is so far off the chart that when the weird went pro in the final act, I found myself shrugging and saying “Sure. Why not?”. I mean really, after Norma wakes up in her bed to find Arthur hovering over her in an invisible cube of water (which then disintegrates, dropping Arthur, and drenching half their house)…what’s another bleeding nose stranger, or five?
Talking to people about this movie, I got a lot of snee’s at how bad Cameron Diaz must be in the film (wow is she ever unpopular these days!). I myself am also not a fan, but I have to quote the great science fiction writer and report that her work in THE BOX is “mostly harmless.” Speaking of acting, the only bright spot in the film has to be Frank Langella, who will charm your pants off and give you the heebie-jeebies all in one go. The man is a consummate pro, and for him to rise above this steaming pile of peculiarity without so much as a brown smudge is a true testament to his acting chops.
The blame for this skidmark must go to writer/director Richard Kelly. I’ve never been one to demand that every ounce of a movie make complete sense. I’ve actually often compared absurd film plots to songs whose lyrics don’t make sense. Think about it; you probably don’t have the foggiest idea what tangerine dreams and marmalade skies are…but they sure sound pretty when John Lennon sings about them, don’t they?
The difference, I believe, comes down to whimsy and elegance. Kelly must have combed the deepest corners of his imagination for the sci-fi oddities that unfold in this movie. However, none of them - the glowing water portals, the cryptic messages, the devil’s bargains – inspire or amuse. All they do is confound and insult. Kelly’s adaptation is not a fable with twists added in an effort to be imaginative. It is weird for the sake of weird, and it belittles its audience.
Admittedly, the story of the button experiment did spark my interest. When I looked into it, I discovered that the film is based on a short story from 1970 written by Richard Matheson. That story had a radically different ending (look it up – it’s pretty good). The story was then adapted into a teleplay for an episode of “The Twilight Zone” in 1986. The ending for that adaptation does happen in this movie, but it occurs long before most of the oddity shifts into high gear. In my research, I discovered that Matheson was never pleased with what happened to his story when it got adapted for “The Twilight Zone”.
If he didn’t like that TV show, I can only imagine how much he despised this movie!
- The Mad Hatter
Read more from the Mad Hatter here.
The Mediasaurs Main Page
Contact M-Rex here