Wednesday, June 15, 2011

One of the Coolest Trailers I've Seen In a While

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to release December 21st, 2011. It is a remake of the first of The Millennium Trilogy, a series of Swedish films based on a series of novels by Swedish author Stieg Larsson.

So it's a huge remake. It does look very good and I'm looking forward to it, I love Daniel Craig and I think he'll be pretty great in this movie.

The disgusting thing about it is how much money it took to make it. The Swedish trilogy, for all movies, costed roughly 17 million dollars to make, compared to the US remake of THE FIRST MOVIE ALONE costing 100 million dollars. It's pathetic really. They don't need to spend that much money on a movie. It's just getting ridiculous.

Either way, it looks good.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dead Island First Impressions

The company Deep Silver has been working on Dead Island for some time now. It centers around 4 different characters who visit this island and in the middle of the night during their stay, zombies attack. The survivors of the attack are the ones who are actually immune to the zombification. 

After seeing the original trailer, I’ve had an interest in this game. I had no idea how it would play; would it be just a standard FPS or a 3rd person survival horror, or would it have RPG elements and whatnot? Well, after seeing first gameplay footage, it is FPS RPG survival horror combined. It is free-roam after you get past the first main storyline part, and looks like a mix of games. It really looks like Far Cry 2, along with gameplay elements similar to Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising, and Borderlands. It features many RPG elements including skills, levels, abilities, quests, crafting and upgrades.

Levels are gained by killing zombies; you get a certain amount of experience for each kill. You get points to level up skills when you level, and there are also abilities for each character. The abilities are different for each person.

The game has up to 4 player co-op and your friends can join or leave at any time. The combat looks pretty solid, got some nice features to it. There is also a stamina bar which goes down from attacks, blocks, and running. You’re going to have to be smart with the combat or else you’ll run out of stamina and have no chance of surviving.

Like I said before, the game is free-roam/open-world. I have to say again, it really looks like Far Cry 2. The graphics are a bit out-dated but I don’t think that will give anyone any problems, the game looks solid to begin with. It looks like a big, fun game and will surely entertain.

Dead Island releases on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC on September 6th, 2011.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Skyrim Gameplay and Why Skyrim Will Succeed

On November 11th, 2011, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will be released. It is a guaranteed hit and will be even more successful than its previous title, Oblivion. Why will it be more successful? Because it is catering more towards the casual gamers, like every game is nowadays. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, Skyrim will still kick ass and be a long, in-depth RPG.

I won’t go much into the video above, I’ll be talking more about how Skyrim will be the biggest hit Bethesda will have so far. The gameplay that is shown above looks pretty solid. The game looks like it will be very fun and possibly better than Oblivion. There is duel-wielding, dragons, more spells and weapons, improved combat, a very well designed engine (finally), and the graphics look wonderful.

Before I get into why Skyrim will be the most successful of the series, let me explain something about the best game in the series. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is one of the best RPG’s ever made. The amount of depth and atmosphere the game is renowned for is truly one of a kind. The features Morrowind had that beats out both Oblivion and Skyrim is one simple thing called “no compass.” For those of you who haven’t played Morrowind; play it right now. Then again, if you hadn’t played Morrowind before you played Oblivion you might not even like it. In Morrowind, the game doesn’t hold your hand like Oblivion and like Skyrim will. There is no compass, the directions you get for your quests are given by the NPC’s and can be very vague, “Go north until you see the big oak, then go west until you reach the river’s edge. Continue south along the river’s edge until you find a cavern with a stump in front of it. Go east past the stump, over the bridge, and you will find the cave you seek.” That isn’t in the game, but it is an example of how vague it is (it doesn’t sound that vague reading it, but you try doing it in game).
Why is this better? Because it immerses you into the game further and makes you feel as if you really are the adventurer. The game was much harder and frustrating than the new ones and it was more rewarding. That is just one thing I am going to discuss about Morrowind. There’s a ton of others but that one is the one that really sticks out to me. Oh, and also there is no quick travelling. There is only travelling between main cities and it costs money. This is more attractive to the ones who want to play the game like they really are part of it.

The reason that Skyrim will be more successful is because it has the compass in it, which caters more towards the casual who don’t want to waste more time than they need to to complete a quest. And the new class system in Skyrim is also more attractive to the casual. It is way less customizable than ever before. They don’t speak of the class, attribute and skill system in the video posted above, but in other articles they do; here and here. They have removed some skills that they deemed useless and have simplified character customization. Again, this is more attractive to the casual audience and only makes the hardcore ( I hate saying “hardcore” when talking about a type of gamer, but it’s the only way to get the different points across nowadays) audience a little disappointed but otherwise won’t affect them.

So, why will Skyrim be the most successful in the series? Because it caters toward the more casual audience while still keeping its hardcore fanbase. It is what you can call "easy mode" now, you could even call Oblivion that as well. This will draw in tons more money than ever before and grant an even larger fanbase. Will it be the best of the series? Probably not, but it will be the biggest success.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Modern Warfare 2. Oh, wait. I meant 3.

Call of Duty 4 is a spectacular game. The campaign was top notch and the multiplayer was revolutionary. Everything about that game was superb, and when Modern Warfare 2 was announced, we didn’t think it could be topped. Well, it wasn’t. Modern Warfare 2’s storyline was a guilty pleasure for most. It’s over-the-top story was a blast but nothing to take too seriously. The multiplayer was definitely improved (other than the ridiculous amount of killstreaks, and the stupid deathstreaks), but it lacked something that CoD4 had; substance, maybe? Modern Warfare 3 was announced and some gameplay coverage was given and what is the first impression? It is Modern Warfare 2.

I may possibly buy this game because the campaign has been a guilty pleasure of mine and the multiplayer is just fun for killing time. Battlefield 3 will be the one that I’m going to be playing ALL the time. I’m not a stupid BF3 fan boy; I just think it will be better. But let me just discuss the disappointments that Modern Warfare 3 will surely give us.

Story: Apparently, the guys working on it have improved the story from MW2, they realized that it was hard to follow at parts (I didn’t think so) and they say it is much more improved. That may be so, but it is still going to be a flag waving romp through America and other countries. Now, as a Canadian, I am obliged to hate every flag waving movie and video game made by Americans, but as I said, they are guilty pleasures. I think the story will still be ridiculous, which is fine, but stupid because they actually take themselves seriously.

Gameplay: This game is MW2. Nothing entirely wrong with that, but when you make a video game sequel you should probably improve on the gameplay. Watching the demo is like watching someone play the MW2 campaign. They’ve been churning out these games every year now, and I thought that since MW2 came out 2 years ago they’d improve on the engine and give us something completely new. They haven’t. The graphics look the exact same, AI is the same, everything is the same. The only things that seem to be altered so far are weapons and attachments. There’s a neat thing that the guy’s gun has: a little red dot sight and on the side of it an acog which you can flip in front of the red dot to have more range. That is a handy little trick but other than that I can’t see them making any impressive additions to the gameplay.

Multiplayer: This game looks the same as MW2 and plays the same. If you enjoyed MW2’s multiplayer then you’ll enjoy this. If not, buy something else.

They said that the Spec Ops gameplay is improved because they don’t use the same AI as campaign AI which I think is pretty cool. That is a feature that actually is worthy of some recognition. Everything else is nothing special.

Modern Warfare 3 looks almost identical to Modern Warfare 2. If you have no problem with that, go for it. You know a lot of people are going to be buying it, so if you want to play where the people are, MW3 is the place.

BF3 too.

Peter Molyneux is up to no good again!

I hate Peter Molyneux with a passion. Time and time again he promises all the seemingly awesome features to each of the Fable games and every time never kept those promises. Now, Molyneux says that Microsoft came directly to him and asked Lionhead to make a Kinect Fable game. So, they are making Fable: Journey, a 40 hour first person carriage ride.

The first part of the demo is a guy riding on a horse-drawn carriage for 5 minutes, constantly having to move the reins back and forth because the horse is a drunken retard. Molyneux goes on a spiel about how you can travel for hours and miles and miles and in different climates and environments. This isn’t at all interesting because no one wants to ride a fucking horse for hours on end.

It then shows us the guy off the carriage and doing some first-person fighting. This would be cool and all, if only you could see your goddamn hands while casting magic. This is absolutely pathetic. Why make a game in first person if you can see the actions you are performing in first person? Absolutely pathetic. Hopefully Crytek’s Ryse is the opposite of this, which it looks like it is going to be.

Molyneux begins talking about the magic system “It is your magic system, we don’t tell you must do it this way, it’s completely designed by you” Will you just shut the fuck up? Molyneux never fails at telling you what they’re not telling you to do in their games. You can do whatever you want! No, there’s a select amount of features you can do and certain combinations. It isn’t as cool as it sounds and it never will be. Molyneux does this EVERY SINGLE TIME. He makes it sound like there are infinite possibilities in all of the games when there is really a small amount and makes it out to sound HUGE.

Notice how I’m only mentioning Molyneux? It’s because he’s the only bad part about Lionhead Studios. If he was not involved, the games they put out would be MUCH better. Sure, we might not have the Fable series, but at least we’d have a series that didn’t promise so much and give so little every time.

This is I think the worst so far. Somehow we can control the horse even though we have no arms, and the same goes with the combat. In Fable: The Journey, you play as an amputee with telekinetic powers. This isn't Half-Life 2 from 7 years ago. They should be able to show hands now. This is Molyneux’s most pathetic attempt yet.

Molyneux, go fucking die already. No one likes you.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Halo 4 announced. Please don’t tell me people are surprised.

I’m going to go right for the throat. Halo 4’s announcement did not surprise me in the slightest. Why? Because in Halo 3, you don’t “finish” the fucking fight! When I “finished the fight”, I wasn’t surprised that they didn’t give closure, and I knew that they would continue to milk Halo for all that it was worth. I didn’t, however, think they would make a game about an ODST, and a prequel that wasn’t based on the actual prequel The Fall of Reach. But for the sake of this article, I’ll rant about the end of Halo 3 for a bit.

Halo 3 did not give any fucking closure whatsoever, which is what Bungie promised they would give. What did they give us? Master Chief defeating the bad guys and then saying to Cortana, “Wake me if you need me.” When he uttered those words I said, “Oh yeah, here we go. Bungie’s going to milk this fucker dry.” Is that what you consider closure? If the end of Halo 3 is considered “closure”, then Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith had closure.

Now, I of course didn’t know when Halo 4 would be revealed, no one did. But I wasn’t surprised in the slightest when it did happen. I’m really glad it was announced, don’t get me wrong. I had just got sick of them making ODST and Reach. Who the fuck cares about some ODST? And no one cares about a shitty story about the fall of Reach which isn’t even based on the book The Fall of Reach. Okay, shitty isn’t the words I should be using. I enjoyed Reach, but it was the characters I didn’t care about. Why would I care about all the stereotypes that they use in every single over-the-top action movie? *Spoilers* The only characters I actually felt for were the big guy, Jorge, who dies so fucking heroically, and Noble-6 when you die at the end. That was some epic shit. *End spoilers* But, that all that aside, why didn’t they make Reach about the book (which was about Master Chief and the other Spartans) and not some random characters they made up that no one likes? Because they wanted to hold out on showing Master Chief in any games to better shock the shit out of us when they finally decided to release Halo 4.

It is no longer Bungie who is making Halo 4. I’m happy with this because since Halo 3 Bungie has turned into a money hungry piece of shit company that everyone hates (Microsoft is too but some people fail to realize it). The actual good people from Bungie have left and are working with 343 Industries (the studio that took over the Halo series after Reach launched) and are making Halo 4.

Now, it is said that Halo 4 is the start of a new trilogy but there was nothing more said on that topic. So, does that mean they will be churning out a Halo game ever year for 3 years, or will they work on them for longer and possibly have Halo 5 and/or Halo 6 actually come out on the new Xbox? I hope the latter, because I don’t feel like the Halo series turning in to the Call Of Duty series, which it is pretty close to now. They have never failed with the Halo games, they always take their time working on them and they obviously have with Halo 4. But just because Halo 4 was announced now doesn’t mean it has been in development for a while. Lots of people jump to that conclusion whenever a new game is announced. I bet 343 just started working on Halo 4 in the last year or so.

So will that make it quality or not? Are they going to be using the same shit as Reach or is it newer? If they really care and want to make tons more money in the long run, they will have updated the graphics and all that jazz for Halo 4. If they don’t and they just want quick cash, it’ll probably be the same engine as Reach and Halo 4 will be nothing special.

How to mount a virtual CD or "ISO" to a drive

You can do this if you have an IQ over 50.

ISO files are copies of of CD’s and DVD’s that people like to use if they don’t want to put an actual disc in their drive, whether it be for video games or movies. There are also BIN files which are basically the same and require the same steps to mount.

1. Download one of the many freeware programs for virtual mounting, Daemon Tools, PowerIso, MajicIso, etc.

2. Right-click on your program in the quick bar and scroll up until you see “Virtual Drives” or some, like PowerIso, already have the drives out and set up. There is by default 2 drives and 4 in others. I’m using PowerIso.

3. Click “mount image” and it will bring up a file window. Explore until you find your ISO and open it.

4. Congratulations, you have successfully mounted an ISO image.

Monday, June 6, 2011

How to make Super Awesome Hash Browns

I often ask myself, "Andy, how do you make such tasty, amazing, super-awesome hash browns? What's your secret?"

Well, Andy, I'll tell you! With a pinch of awesomeness, and a dash of super....ness, some pancake syrup, and some good spirit (haha), these hash browns can be made with almost no harm done to yourself and others!

1. Pre-heat frying pan on stove at medium. Spray Pam or other brand of covering in the pan. When heated enough, put 2 forks of butter in the pan and let melt.

2. Once melted, pour hash browns in pan and turn heat to low. Stir for a few minutes until browns are almost golden brown.

3. Put another fork of butter in the browns and stir. Then, pour pancake syrup in the browns (you can never pour too much in). I usually squeeze the syrup out for about 3 seconds. Use fake pancake syrup like Aunt Jemima, not real maple syrup. It just doesn't taste as awesome. Stir the browns.

4. When finished, pour onto plate. If you're like me, for extra flavoring put more syrup and butter in the browns and stir.

5. Enjoy your Super Awesome Hash Browns. For better enjoyment, serve with other breakfast foods.
Additional info:

-Cooking the syrup in the browns adds a little flavor to the browns themselves. This is if you don’t want them to be too sweet. I like lots of syrup, so I put a lot on afterwards.

-This actually tastes amazing.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Reviewing: Tangled (2010)

“Here comes the smolder.”

Tangled is a loose retelling of the old tale of Rapunzel and her extremely overlong golden hair (they changed the name to better attract boys as well as girls to the movie due to The Princess and the Frog not doing as well as they hoped. Typical). It boasts an extremely likeable cast, with Mandy Moore (A Walk to Remember) as the beautiful Rapunzel, Zachary Levi (NBC’s Chuck) as the suave Flynn Ryder, and Donna Murphy (The Fountain)  as Mother Gothel. This is a good movie for kids and adults alike, with lots of laughs, and great animation, it actually is fun for the whole family. No kidding.

Rapunzel (Moore), a young princess, is kidnapped at birth by an evil old woman named Gothel (Murphy) for the magical abilities her hair possesses. It can keep one young and can also stop people from dying as well as bring people back to life. She is taken to Gothel’s tower and raised as her daughter for her whole life and is never permitted to leave. 18 years later, a dashing rogue named Flynn Ryder (Levi) stumbles upon the tower and Rapunzel enlists his protection out in the wilderness.

Right after the opening prologue of the movie there is a musical scene which I did not expect. I did not hear tell this movie was a musical, when it’s not; there are only 3 or 4 musical scenes throughout. When the scene opened I was surprised, and then it sunk in and I said, “Oh, for fu- …wait, this isn’t that bad.” The musical scenes are done very well, and I was delighted that they didn’t make me want to rip my hair out and scream.  And even though they were good, I was glad that there wasn’t one every other scene. Disney really has to stop with the musical crap, hell, they shouldn’t have even started.

There’s a sort of slapstick humor with sharp dialogue as the shtick in this movie and it never fails. I thought it was pretty funny, there was even a scene that had me laughing really hard. There are 2 distinct characters in this movie, both that utter not one line of dialogue; one that is very funny and the other which has a few funny actions. The funnier is a horse named Maximus who acts like a dog. The other is a chameleon and has a few funny actions but for the most part is just a cutesy character to attract the kids more.

The animation has a realistic but cartoonish look to it; there’s a sort of realistic look to the characters but at the same time you think of it as cartoonish, like all other Disney movies. I’ve always loved that; you believe the characters to be normal human beings like the rest of us, but then you see one of them get smacked in the head with a frying pan 10 times and they DON’T die of blunt force trauma and internal bleeding. Now that, kids, is funny.

Its fault lies in that it follows the Disney formula. It’s easily predictable because we’ve seen it in every Disney made animated movie (Pixar doesn’t count). There are some sappy parts that made me roll my eyes in disgust, stuff that they don’t even have to put in the movie. But that happens in all of their movies so it didn’t turn me off from the movie. Kids probably wouldn’t be able to tell if it followed the same formula (not saying they wouldn’t, I could tell when I was a kid) so there will be no disappointments for them. For adults it’s more or less just ignoring it and enjoying the movie because it is a fun movie, there’s no denying that.
Tangled is a good kids movie that adults can enjoy too if they don’t take it too seriously. It has some great witty dialogue, catchy songs, and likeable characters. The story is solid but still follows the formulae of the Disney movie. But who cares? It’s funny.

Critique: 7/10

Personal enjoyment: 7/10

Reviewing: The Dilemma (2011)

“Ladies and gentlemen: electric cars… they’re totally gay.”

Ron Howard (Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code) has directed a mess of a movie, starring the funny Vince Vaughn and Kevin James. It is unfair that this movie was advertised as a comedy because it really is not. You see Vince Vaughn and Kevin James and automatically think that it will be funny. Some people go as far as to say it is a dramedy, which is an equal blend of drama and comedy; calling it that genre would suit it if it actually was funny. I like to think of The Dilemma as a drama that has some comedic moments in it but for the most part is a very serious and emotional film, but alas, that is not what was intended. There is some very well done emotional scenes, which in itself is good, but doesn’t work in a comedy. People going into this expecting a good time will come out disappointed.

The movie centers on two best friends since college, Ronny Valentine (Vaughn) and Nick Brannen (James) who are partners in an automobile business. Vaughn is more kept together and cool whereas James is the type of person that gets nervous very easily and he has a stomach ulcer. They both put in good dramatic performances as well as comedic (when the rare funny scene comes around). Their wives are played by Jennifer Connelly (Vaughn’s wife) and Winona Ryder (James’ wife). Connelly puts in a good performance as usual, whereas Ryder is so-so much like most of her movies. Vaughn and James are on the verge of a huge business deal when Vaughn catches Ryder cheating on James with a younger man named Zip (Channing Tatum), who does play a good comedic role, if only the material he was given was funny. This is Vaughn’s dilemma: Should he tell James that his wife is cheating on him and risk James having a meltdown and possibly screwing up their business deal or does he wait until after the deal to tell him? Vaughn is leaned much more towards just telling him, but advice from others is to wait. I don’t know how this was expected to be a comedy on such an unfunny subject. 

Kevin James is barely in this movie, which is such a waste of talent. I honestly think if he were in it more than the movie might have had a chance. Vaughn is the “funny” man in this movie, but his unfunny antics shouldn’t be credited to him, but to the writer.  Slapstick is the shtick in this movie, along with some sharp dialogue delivered by the actors well, but just isn’t funny.

Queen Latifah plays a small comic relief role that might as well not be in the movie. It seems every once in a while after a serious scene, Latifah comes in and says some sexually suggestive “funny” lines, but just doesn’t work. Once again, Latifah is fine in this movie, but it is the work of the writers that make it unfunny. I’m trying to save the actor’s from criticism because they are not the fault of this movie at all, but when a comedy isn’t funny the first thing people attack is the actors.

There’s a pretty violent scene in this movie that is meant to be funny, dark humor if you will, but it just doesn’t work! Almost everything in this movie fails to deliver. I am one who loves dark humor; it’s possibly my favorite kind next to vulgar humor. It’s shot very well, but when the actors say their lines, some of the lines sound too serious and then the next one will be humorous. Those two combined make the scene fall flat, and me more disappointed.

One thing that I love about the progression of the movie that I noticed was that Ryder’s character looked very attractive, hair down and nice, makeup and the whole shebang. But after Vaughn catches her cheating on James, her look changes. For the rest of the movie, except when she is with Zip, her hair is up, it looks like she doesn’t have much makeup on, and she seems much more strung out.  It symbolized how you would see a person after finding out that they’ve done something bad. The movie portrayed her in Vaughn’s eyes after the incident. I admired that and I think it is a minor plus to the otherwise mediocre film.

The Dilemma is not a very funny movie, which is unfair to the actors because the performances in the movie were solid. As a comedy the movie falls flat but as a drama it is interesting enough to not fall asleep during, although not enough to want to watch it again.

Critique: 4/10

Personal enjoyment: 5.5/10

Reviewing: Taken (2008)

“I will find you. And I will kill you.”

Taken is a good movie, hands down. Luc Besson, who has directed such movies as the great Leon/The Professional and the bizarre but fun The Fifth Element has once again given us one hell of a ride. It stars Liam Neeson (Shindler’s List, The Phantom Menace), Famke Janssen (GoldenEye) and Maggie Grace (The Fog). Nowadays it is once in a blue moon that a great action flick comes around, with a somewhat believable script, great acting roles and non-stop thrills. Taken is one of them. This movie is on par with some of the greatsof the genre like Die Hard.

Liam Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a recently retired spy who wants to get back on terms with his daughter Kim (Grace) after barely seeing her over his career. Famke Janssen plays Lenore, the mother and ex-wife of Bryan. Kim wants to go to Paris with a friend and Bryan is skeptical saying that she doesn’t know the world like he does. It’s dangerous. No big surprise, she is taken by slave traders and Bryan goes on a bloody mission of revenge to get his daughter back. And let the badassery begin.

The script of this movie is good. It has a sense of realism, and a kind of warning about how bad the world is out there. It has numerous plot holes and is of course it’s predictable, if you didn’t know what the movie was about before going in, you would know within the first 5 minutes because of Bryan’s skepticism about his daughter and friend going to Paris alone. But, just because it has those faults doesn’t mean the movie can’t be enjoyable. It is also very well shot. I remember first seeing the movie and was wowed by the cinematography and camerawork. That combined with solid writing makes the movie work like the classic action movie, where there is buildup before every action scene and it’s not just nonstop action. Taken lets the audience catch their breath for a few minutes with solid writing before diving back in for more kickass thrills.

The underground sex slave trade is a scary topic, and Besson portrays it just right. It is shocking enough to be scary that this could happen to someone, but it’s not extremely in depth enough that it would depress you and turn you off from the movie. There are scenes in the movie that are inside rundown whorehouses and even in the sophisticated areas where the leaders of the slave trade do their business deals. The fact that people are still auctioned off to be put in this horrible world is horrific, and this makes Bryan’s revenge oh so much sweeter. What better than to kill tons of sex slave traders? I found myself cheering more for the protagonist in this movie more than I had in a long while. When it is something as bad as human trafficking, blood is the only way justice can be served.

Taken is a good movie. It is enjoyable throughout; there is never a point in the movie where it gets boring. The movie slows down after each action scene, but the writing and acting is good enough to keep the audience from questioning some of its ridiculous premises. Neeson plays a badass hero, and audiences and critics alike thought so because he has been offered more leads in action movies. This is a damn good movie, and won’t fail to disappoint both action junkies and the opposite alike.
Critique: 7/10

Personal enjoyment: 8/10

Reviewing: Battle LA (2011)

“Maybe I can help… I’m a veterinarian.”

I am somewhat an action junkie, I love action movies. As long as the plot is at least a bit bearable and has great action sequences I can’t complain. I love watching ridiculously unrealistic scenes of explosions and guys taking on a hundred guys by himself, and everything else about action movies. Jonathan Liebesman’s Battle: LA, on the other hand, is an annoying, loud, crapfest.  It stars the talented Aaron Eckhart (Thank You For Smoking, The Dark Knight), Michelle Rodriguez (Avatar), Michael Pena (Crash), and Bridget Moynahan (I, Robot).  For the above actors mentioned, the acting is fine, especially in the case of Eckhart, who plays a great action hero. The rest of the actors fall short, giving mediocre and for the most part bad performances. The only thing that was enjoyable about this movie was the fun I had completely ripping it apart.

The film takes place over the first 24 hours of the invasion of aliens on earth. It centers on a squad of soldiers in Los Angeles who go into the field to find survivors and to make contact, if possible, with the alien invaders. They are told beforehand that they have a few hours to get back to HQ before bombs are dropped over the area, so they must get back before detonation. And so, the movie begins.

Eckhart plays the troubled SSgt. Michael Nantz stationed in L.A. The first 20 minutes of the movie is devoted to small introductions of Nantz, and the rest of his team mates. The writers try to make you feel for the characters but it is very hard to do that when every single one is a clichéd character type we’ve all seen a hundred times. You have the jittery young new kid, hickish white guy, stereotypical black guy, nerdy guy and so on. Audiences are expected to sympathize for every character in the movie but that is hard when the intro is rushed and the acting is mediocre.

The script itself is terrible. It consists of soldiers swearing and yelling and a few scenes in-between filled with corny and bad dialogue. I already knew going into the movie that it had an all American, flag-waving base to it. I mean come on, Los Angeles the last bastion of humanity?  So I was just expecting fun action. I tried accepting the movie for what it was, a mindless, action-packed ride, but the movie failed to even provide that. It’s mindless and action-packed, but not in the good way. The action sequences are bland, boring, and annoying altogether. The move had terrible camerawork and cinematography, one shot will be some guy screaming and the next few shots will be filled with ridiculous and incomprehensible action sequences. And the movie has okay special and visual effects. Judging from the cost of the film, the effects should have been spectacular.

The origin of the aliens is never known much like most invasion movies, which is fine. I like the alien invaders from god knows where scenario. Sadly, that is the only interesting thing about them. Costume design for the aliens is hilarious; their armour looks like it was plated with pieces of the mechanical shark from James and the Giant Peach and their equipment and ships look like pieces of scrap yard junk thrown together. These aliens have perfected space travel but can only make machinery that looks like something out of The Road Warrior. The guy who was in charge of design should never be allowed to work in the business ever again.

All in all, this movie was just plain bad. It was more predictable than a romantic comedy: I was guessing what was going to happen next and there were not too many times that I was wrong. There was nothing to like about it and the only good to come from it is hopefully many action movie deals for Eckhart. If you just want to see explosions even if they suck, then this movie is for you. Battle: LA is one of those movies that would be forgettable, but then you remember how bad it is. I would rather watch a Michael Bay movie than watch this again.

Critique: 3/10

Personal enjoyment: 3/10

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Last one for now.


She’ll be home any minute now. I’m crouched in the dark, out of sight of the front door. It has been silent for a few minutes now all that can be heard is the muffled traffic outside, very quiet zooms of cars passing by.
            I’ve been planning this for weeks. The moment is finally here and she won’t even see it coming. She gets off work at the University at around 4:30pm. It takes about 20 minutes for her to get home most days, depending on the traffic. It’s a Tuesday today so the traffic should be normal.
            It’s dark in the house. The only source of light is a ray shining through the window. I can see dust particles in the ray and a Vanity Fair magazine is visible in the light, on the arm of a chair.
            I feel a tickle in my throat and cough. The sound echoes through the house. I might be coming down with a cold.
            I can’t wait to see the look on her face when she gets home. Weeks of planning will be paid off. I get more and more excited thinking about it. I’ve got a long knife in my hand to be used later.

I can hear the car pull into the driveway. Her muffled music from the car radio gets turned off and the car door shuts. Footsteps coming up the driveway and walkway. I hear a jingling of keys and the key being slid into the lock. It turns and unlocks the door. She opens it and-
            “SURPRISE!” we all yell and jump up, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”
            “Oh my god!” she exclaims and starts laughing and looks around at everyone in the room. “Everyone’s here! Honey, is this what you’ve been so distant for over the weeks?” she asks smiling. “To be honest I was getting kind of worried.” She blushed.
            “Awe, come here,” I say in a sympathetic tone and kiss her on the lips. Yum, strawberry. “Now, come on, sweetie,” I hold the knife up, “let’s cut the cake!”


The Cafeteria

The Cafeteria

“Dude, there she is!”
And she was. Sarah Hartman: long brown hair, big brown eyes, cute, petite. I had liked her the whole semester, since September. It was now November and I still hadn’t got the balls to go and have an actual conversation with her. Over the months the only things we said to one another while passing by were “Hi”, “What’s your major?” “What’s up?” or “Nice day, eh?”
“Well what should I do?” I asked. “Should I go pretend to get something to eat and go talk to her?”
Paul and John said “yes” in unison, and then laugh.
            “Alright,” I said and got up and walked towards the food stations.
            I couldn’t seem to find her through the crowd of people. I kept looking but no cigar. I grabbed some fruit and headed back to my seat.
            “Where the fuck did she go!? I can’t find her!” I exclaimed and then we all started laughing.
            “She knew you were coming so she jumped out the window,” John joked.
            “Go back again, she’s obviously back there,” Paul suggested. “Pussy.” They laughed again as I headed back to the stations.
            I made another round around the stations. I still couldn’t find her. She had once again, disappeared. I got back to my seat.
            Paul and John were in stiches. “Dude, she just walked out the other side when you went in the other way!” John exclaimed.
            “Alright then where did she sit?” I asked. I start scanning the room. I spot her at a table by herself near the window. “I see her. I’m going now,” I said nervously.
            I grabbed my coat and left my seat. I went to get a drink first and then started toward her table. As I passed by my friends’ table I could see them doing stupid laughs at me, trying to fuck with me. I chuckled and reached her table.
            “Er- Hey, my uh friends are bailing, mind if I sit here?” I managed to get out.
She smiled, “Sure!” so I took a seat. As soon as I sat down her friends arrived and they suggested we move to a less dirty table. We got up and went to the one down from us.
            There was six of us at the table eating. Three girls, three guys. “So, how’s your year going so far?” I asked Sarah. My heart wasn’t pounding as fast at that point.
            “So-so. Midterms are hard. University is so much harder than high school. I didn’t expect it to be this challenging.” She was eating a hotdog with way to much mustard and ketchup on it. I felt gross for a second and recovered. “I hear you, I’m getting all C’s this year. Then again, it’s my fault since I can’t bring myself to study. What’s your major again, Psychology?” Same old small talk, I thought. I need to generate an actual conversation.
            “Yeah, Psych.”
            “You like it?”
            “It’s okay,” she sipped at her juice.
            “What’s yours?” asked the girl next to me.
            “History at the moment. Might switch it up, not sure yet.” I extended my hand, “By the way, I’m Matt.”
            “Erica,” she said.
We all exchanged handshakes: Tiffany, Dan, and Dylan (maybe Dillon?).

            The next few minutes were filled with numerous stories filled with drugs, alcohol, professors, class assignments; normal university stuff. Dan had got high and drunk a few days ago and hit on his professor. We had a good laugh at that.
            “So, wait; you not only hit on her but you tried to kiss her? How didn’t you get kicked out of school?” Dylan or Dillon asked.
            “She likes me, I don’t know. I’m as surprised as you are. Maybe she felt kinda bad cause when I went in to kiss her I tripped and bashed my head on the desk and knocked myself out.”
            We all howled with laughter. “You-fucking-idiot!” Dylan or Dillon said between breaths.
            “Oh yeah, before I forget, Sarah, my mom found-“ Tiffany paused for a second and pulled a tiny bone out of her mouth, “this fish is supposed to be boneless,” she said in an angry tone. “Okay, so, my mom found one of your sweaters in my room when she was cleaning it.” They must know each other from back home. “She’s sending it in the mail along with some of my stuff tomorrow.”
            “I didn’t even know I was missing a sweater. Tell her thanks, anyways.” she responded thankfully. She was in the middle of eating some sort of mixed ice cream. Looked good.

            I felt pretty good. Things were going smoothly. I’d finally broken that barrier and was comfortable talking to her.
            “So where are you from?” I asked her while I ate some ice cream, different than what she had earlier.
            “I’m from- oh my god! There he is!” she exclaimed.
We all looked across the cafeteria and spotted some guy.
            “Ooh, he is cute, you’re right,” said Erica. “So that’s the guy you always talk about?”
            “Yeah…” she let out a dreamy sigh.
            “So, what’s your plan?” Tiffany asked excitedly.

She sat there in thought for a second. I was shocked at the whole situation. After what seemed like ages she looked up at us and said, “What should I do? Should I pretend to get something to eat and go talk to him?”



I awoke with a white light burning in my eyes. I rubbed them to see clearly. I was in my bedroom. I could hear the shower running; my wife had gotten up before me. I got out of bed and looked around the room. So many memories attached to everything in the room. I noticed our old wedding invitation was out on one of my dressers and I read it:

You have been invited to share in the celebration
Of the marriage between
Sean Williams and Bridget Kirzner
On the twelfth day of June
Nineteen Ninety One
The ceremony will commence at three in the afternoon
At St. Mary’s Church
Followed by a reception at five in the afternoon
Kindly respond by April tenth
Nineteen Ninety One

I smiled and next to it was a picture of us before we were married; so young, carefree, in love. I still feel the way I did in that picture.
            The bathroom door was open and I walked in. My vision was slightly blurred due to the steam from the shower. She was blurry through the other side of the shower door.
            “Morning, hunny,” I said. No response. “How was your sleep?” Again; no response. I frowned and said, “I’ll see you downstairs for breakfast… love you.”
            I must have done something to piss her off, I thought. I smirked even though I know there was hell to pay later. I exited the bathroom and made my way to the bedroom door. I stopped in my tracks when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. There was a stack of what looked like invitations on a table near the door. The one on top read:

Yourself and family are invited to attend
The funeral of Sean Williams
At St. Mary’s Church
On Wednesday, December first
Two Thousand Ten
At Three o’clock in the afternoon

18 Westview

I've got a few short stories to post, so here goes the first.

18 Westview

My name is Sean. I’m a detective for the NYPD and I’m 34 years old. I was investigating the murders of over 30 people linked to a serial killer that we call “The Optometrist”, because he or she (we don’t know yet) stabs the eyes out of the victim and feeds them to the victim before killing them. The weapon of choice: a gold brooch, always gold.
            We think the Optometrist is a vigilante serial killer because all of the victims have been criminals in crimes ranging from sexual assault to murder. The killer always leaves the brooch at the scene of the crime, probably to taunt us.
            Anyway, the case went cold and I’ve been reassigned to the kidnapping of an 18 year old girl named Sarah Hartman. I have a lead on her whereabouts and am en route at the moment. Hopefully when I find her, I can reopen the Optometrist case, that is, if the FBI doesn’t take over.
I’ve arrived at the supposed whereabouts: 18 Westview Street. It’s a dark, damp, run-down looking apartment complex, like something straight out of a movie, very cliché. I get out of the car and shut the door and start down the walkway towards the building. It’s raining out, but relatively warm. I reach the door to the complex, red and faded, and turn the rusty knob and open the door slowly. I walk through the doorway and a musty smell reaches my nostrils.
            The building is drenched in gloom, and I get that bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. The dim light in the lobby adds more to the depressing feel of the place; I already hate it here. I walk past the dirty mailboxes and graffiti covered walls to the elevator, one of those old fashioned ones with the gate you have to slide open. “Out of service”, how nice. I look around to find a stairwell sign; to the right, at the end of the hall. I make it up the dirty stairs to the second floor and begin knocking on doors and questioning people about the kidnapping.

I still have no leads by the 4th floor. I hate this place even more. Most of the residents are assholes, junkies, or senile, like the old man on the 3rd floor who thought I was here to erase his memory and do scientific research on him. I knock on apartment number 78.
            “This is the NYPD, I’m here to ask you some questions about a recent kidnapping,” I say.
I hear the clinking of the chain being undone and the door unlocking. The door opens to a man in his 30’s, average looking, short hair, 5 o’clock shadow with a little bit of grey in it.
            “Thank you. Hi, I’m Detective Sean Williams, NYPD,” I flash my badge, “I just have a few questions about Sarah Hartman. She was kidnapped 4 days ago and we have reason to believe that she and the kidnapper are residing here. She’s 18, Caucasian, blonde hair, brown eyes. Here’s a picture,” I hand him a picture of the victim.
            “Oh, yeah, I heard about that on the news,” he looks at the picture, frowns, and says, “Nope, never seen her before. But, please, do come in,” he says, and gestures for me to come inside.
            “Thank you.”
            I’m a bit taken aback by the man’s politeness compared to some of the other residents from tonight. I’m still a bit nervous, all those cop shows and movies come to mind now. Like there’s going to be a bunch of thugs inside and I’ll get into a huge shootout. I have thought of the exact same thing in every apartment I’ve been in tonight. Fuck if I know if that has ever happened in real life. I keep telling myself that that is very unrealistic, but still, the mind does wander.
            His apartment is nice compared to most; clean, smells okay. There’s a clock on the wall that’s an hour ahead, guess he forgot to set it back. Right next to the clock is a nude calendar. Classy. There’s an aroma of beef or pork or something of the like in the air. The door closes with a click.
            “I’m John, by the way, John Smith,” he says to me and shakes my hand, “make yourself at home, I’ll make some coffee,” he says.
            Just water, thanks,” I say, and he nods and disappears into the kitchen.
            I walk into the living room to two chairs, a couch, and a TV set that’s playing a re-run of some sitcom. There really isn’t much to look at; the walls are mostly bare, with bland yellowish wallpaper and stained with what looks like tobacco smoke residue. Now that I think of it, the place does smell like cigarettes. Smells like heaven compared to the rest of the complex.
            “Coming down hard out there?” he calls from the kitchen.                                                   “Yeah, kinda,” I respond, “Took me longer than expected to drive here.”
            “Forecast calls for sunny tomorrow, keep your fingers crossed,” he says. I hear the clang of something being dropped in the sink.
            “We can only hope,” I say.
            I can hear his footsteps from the kitchen. Drinks must be done. I say, “So, have you lived here long–”

I shoot the cop in the back of the head. Blood and brain spray on the wall in front of him and he crumples with a loud thud on the floor. Blood pools from his head. I feel a rush of excitement through my veins. I’m examining the spot where the blood and brains hit the wall, blood trickling down. I now watch as more blood pools out of his head onto the floor. I replay the killing in my head over and over. The way he fell lifeless to the floor, the blood spraying like someone splashed a bucket of red paint on the wall. I want to rewind and redo the killing, maybe at different angles to see how he would fall or how the blood would hit the wall. Maybe try to pop a few shots before he hit the ground, each shot spraying more and more blood– I shake my head back to my senses.
            I flick safety on and throw my pistol on the chair. I can hear a dog barking on another floor, must have heard the gunshot. Need to clean up quick. I rummage through his pockets: I find keys, some change, a notepad and pen, a pistol, and a wallet. I open the wallet and find an I.D – Sean Williams, a police badge, and some cash. I pocket the cash, put the wallet back in his pocket, and chuck his pistol onto the couch.
            I’ll make her clean it up. I go to the bathroom and open the door. She’s sitting there, calm and quiet; surprising, seeing as how you’d think a rich girl would be the noisiest hostage.
            “What was that?” she asks. She winces from the cuts and bruises on her face.
            “None of your fucking business,” I say, and I punch her in the face, “now, shut the fuck up.” I pause for a second, “You know what; I might as well tell you since you’re cleaning up the mess. It was a cop coming to save you! I killed him though, don’t worry.” I laugh.
            There are tears coming down her face, from the punch or maybe because I killed that cop; or maybe both. She stares at me for what seems like minutes. I backhand her to get her attention. This time her lip starts bleeding. She wipes it off and then runs towards me and grabs me.
            I’m about 2 seconds away from punching her again when she kisses me on the lips. I’m confused but I quickly assess the situation and rip her blouse off. I hear a cling when it hits the floor; must be the buttons. I undo her bra and throw it and it lands on the sink. Her nice, round tits (C-cup, small pink nipples, perky) are gleaming with sweat. She moans as I grab her tits and slide my other hand down her stomach and up her skirt. I start to finger her wet pussy (fairly tight) and she grabs my cock through my jeans. She moans as she comes then she stops rubbing my cock. I say, “Don’t fucking stop yet,” and I unbuckle my belt and unzip my pants. I push her down to her knees.

She looks up and me and smiles, “You have very nice eyes.”

I look down and in her hand is a gold brooch.