Sunday, December 27, 2009

Indie Vault Press!

Indie Vault's getting some decent Feedback, here's what ScrewAttack's g1 Spotlight said about the series

Indie Vault got a spotlight on the Indie Games Weblog:

And Armor Games posted the video on their blog too:

Not bad for only 2 months of videos, keep an eye out for more videos! Also, if you have a great game to tell me about, feel free to send a message!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Indie Vault - Merry Gear Solid: Secret Santa

Santa Claus! Santa Claus?! SANTA CLAAAAAUUUUUUUSSS!!!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Indie Vault - Sonny 2

The Third Episode in my Indie Vault series. It's a Sonny Day!

Go play Sonny 2 here:

Friday, December 11, 2009

SGC YouTube Hell - Chapter 2

Hey! You like YouTube Right? Well how about a collection of videos from YouTube rolled into a gaming convention Hell? Well here you go: the second in a series from ScrewAttack Gaming Convention's YouTube Hell 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

This Week in Geek Promo Video

A short promo for the podcast "This Week in Geek" as part of a YouTube contest they are holding.

Check it out at

Saturday, December 5, 2009

SGC YouTube Hell - Chapter 1

Hey! You like YouTube Right? Well how about a collection of videos from YouTube rolled into a gaming convention Hell? Well here you go: the first in a series from ScrewAttack Gaming Convention's YouTube Hell 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Indie Vault - I MAED A GAM3 W1TH ZOMBIES 1N IT!!!1

The second episode! Learn why James Silva's a talented man :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Indie Vault - Arkedo Series 01: Jump!

Hey readers, this time I've got a special treat for ya; a new series up called the Indie Vault. This time I take a look at Arkedo's Jump! Hope you enjoy

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Quick Update

Apperently I just found out that those who wanted to post comments on my blog cant unless I say it's OK and I just realized how to switch it off. Sorry 'bout that! So if you want to comment, feel free to do so and tell me how full of it I am.

Also, like the new logo up there? So do I :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Review: Monsters Vs. Aliens

Starring Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogan, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Keifer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, and Stephen Colbert
Written by Maya Forbes, Wallace Wolodarsky, Rob Letterman, Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger
Directed by Rob Letterman & Conrad Vernon

DreamWorks Animation has had, to be kind, a rough ride in terms of quality since it's existence. With the exemption of the charming Shrek and Shrek 2, they've plowed through a forgettable filmography of Shark Tale, Madagascar, Over the Hedge, Bee Movie, and Shrek 3. However, the studio gave a surprising great turn to form with the charming and visually gorgeous Kung Fu Panda. After years of mediocrity in the shadow of the mighty Pixar age, I was with a lot of movie goers that thought Spielberg's mighty animation studio was turning into a nightmare. This was until Monsters Vs. Aliens which turned the once sinking ship of a studio into a shining force that not only keeps the Dream alive as a raging, funny force to reckon with.

Monsters Vs. Aliens is a about Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon), a woman who got hit by a meteorite on her wedding day and turns into a giant woman straight out of Attack of the 50 ft. Woman. Naturally the government comes in and takes her to an underground prison for 50's style monsters and give her the name Ginormica. But when a giant robot from the alien Gallaxhar (Riann Wilson) comes looking for the meteorite, it's up to Ginormica, B.O.B. (Seth Rogan), a big blue blob, Dr. Cockroach Ph.D. (Hugh Laurie), a half man, half cockroach mad scientist, The Missing Link (Will Arnett), a creature from the black lagoon, and a giant bug called Insectosaurus (Conrad Vernon) to stop him from taking over the world.

As you're able to tell from the plot summery to the poster, the movie is a spoof of 1950's monster movies which even though were B movies made some pretty impressive special effects for their time. When Monsters Vs. Aliens was released, it was promoted as a great landmark for 3D technology and special effects. The version I saw was the DVD without 3D glasses added in. Just as Black Dynamite put a great effort in being a Blaxplotation film and a spoof, Monsters does the same thing here; the imagery, art and mighty explosions in the film are visually stunning to look at. Two scenes that come to mind were the fight on the golden gate bridge, the alien spaceship and the robot itself.

If I did have an issue with the film, it's the 3D gimmick. It makes sense to have this gimmick being a parody of a time when film was all about having 3D monster mashes, but it's really not immersive or inventive at all. Monsters doesn't use the 3D gimmick too much by making hands fly toward the screen which I applaud the filmmakers for. It actually shares the same problem with Up from Pixar this year; both films are impressive artistically and the only thing 3D does is literally give me a headache.

So the film is a spoof of 50's monster movies but does it work? Well absolutely it works; the film has some pretty funny moments that riff on references from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, An Inconvenient truth, and a pretty funny take on countdowns which I wont give away with this review. The highlight of the comedy is Stephen Colbert as the president of the united states and yes; it's as funny as it sounds. His underground meetings almost steal the show with the riffs on Armageddon. If Spaceballs had a spiritual sequel, Monsters Vs. Aliens is it.

Don't think that clever riffs on the sci-fi genre is all Monsters Vs. Aliens is about, the focus is more on Susan's transformation to Ginormica (mental transformation that is). The film's theme is simple: check your ego. Susan always put herself second to everyone else and has a pretty low view of herself; it's OK her husband wants something besides Paris, he needs to get the job. Then when she became a giant and starts fighting other giants, she realizes that she shouldn't shortchange herself simply because she's, well, a woman. Society still tells us that men should go after their dreams while the women are there for support and she learns she has enormous strength as Ginormica or Susan. It's really refreshing to see a heroine who fights for herself and becomes independent; it's been a while since we've had a great action heroine and we have a pretty damn great one here.

Finally, an awesome action heroine

There's another side to the ego trip too; her husband and Gallaxhar have way too much pride in themselves that they're both shallow, selfish fools. Gallaxhar's main plan to conquer earth is to use the meteors power to make an army of himself. The big message of the movie is about how you should have respect for yourself and respect for others in spite of what society says about you. It's a great theme to have in a kids movie; it's something the younger crowd will understand and the older audience can appreciate. Having a great balance with kids and adults in an animated film is pretty great to have these days.

Stephen Colbert may steal the show, but the rest of the cast is pretty excellent too. Reese Witherspoon is an actress I've never really cared for before but she gives a lot of life to Ginormica. The same goes for Rogan, Laurie, Arnett, and Wilson; we've seen these characters all before but it's pretty fun to hear it come out of this cast. It may look like a big celebrity whoring but I honestly didn't know it was Rainn Wilson as the villain. I've never watched 24 either and Keifer Sutherland was wonderful to listen to as the underground monster general. The kids probably haven't seen 24, The Office, Legally Blonde, or Knocked Up (let's hope not that last one) but they're going to have no problem hanging out with these monsters.

A lot of critics panned the film for a few things like the supporting cast being one-dimensional and uninteresting and they're right; without the cast they would have been pretty boring. The critics also didn't enjoy the 3D catering and I agree with them that it should die out. There are a few issues with the film but in all honesty a lot of the complaints they had with the film didn't bother me at all. I was too busy having fun hanging out with the characters, enjoying the great scenery, and laughing at the humor. Monsters Vs. Aliens probably wont start a revolution but it's a great watch to have with your kids and even with yourselves.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Review: Black Dynamite

Staring: Michael Jai White, Salli Richardson-Whitfield and Tommy Davidson
Written by Michael Jai White, Byron Minns and Scott Sanders
Directed by Scott Sanders

Grindhouse cinema has had a bit of a revolution in mainstream media these days; Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez came out with their "Sleaze-Filled Saga of an Exploitation Double Feature" Grindhouse which unfortunately due to it's Easter weekend release and over three hour run-time bombed at the box office. This time, a bit hit from the Sundance Film Festival Black Dynamite is ready to take on the genre not touched upon in the three hour extravaganza: Blaxploitation. The trailer for Dynamite is a fun video you may find in the film Grindhouse alongside "Werewolf Women of the SS" seeking to spoof the genre it's in. The question that's raised is this: Does the concept which makes for a great trailer translate into an hour and a half spoof of the genre or is it just a one-joke pony? In all honestly, if this movie were three hours long, I believe it could pull it off; Black Dynamite is the funniest movie of the year and absolutely one of it's best.

At this point, I would normally give a brief synopsis of the movie, but the Trailer does the job for me and the film gives you a lot of what you would expect from a spoof. The film is about our hero Black Dynamite who's brother was killed by the local mob so Dynamite has to fine the people responsible "all the way to the top." It leads him to the local mob syndicate, an island leading to a conspiracy, and all the way to the white house before going through crack houses, rooftops, the highway, and lots of blood, bodies, and women.

Whenever someone does a spoof of a genre, it usually looks like a 2nd rate version of what it's making fun of usually in attempt to put the genre down the level. Dynamite is a spoof that while it is making fun of the conventions on the genre puts an extraordinary amount of work into making look like it came from the 70's. It's shot to look like an old film stock shot from the era, the world has elaborate designs from the costumes to the special effects and the film even begins with a fake trailer for Anaconda Malt Liquor, "the drink that make's you go Oooooooo!" While it makes fun of the genre, the work that went into the art of the film puts it in the Blaxploitation genre.

Don't go in the theater thinking this is going to be a deep, nostalgic reflection of Black rebellion in the face of change and oppression of the 1970's; it's ultimate goal is to make a silly parody of movies like Dolemite and Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. You know exactly how this film is going to end and how it's going to play out. The only really intellectual thing I can say about the film is that what it's trying to say is that the Blaxploitation films get a reputation of being the great crusade of rebellion that was a release for a movement when in reality these films for the most part are poorly crafted and frankly stereotypical. Black Dynamite is a kind of call back to reality for what the genre is but still revels in being one itself; and loves every second of it!

Sometimes it's not so much about what your delivering but the execution. All the actors in the film play the situations like they're life or death in the most ridiculous over-the-top situations which is what makes everything in this film work. You've probably seen star and co-writer Michael Jai White in The Dark Knight or fighting David Carradine in Kill Bill but here he really shines. All the kung-fu is preformed by him and while he gives a straight face bad motha preformance, he even shows sincerity in his role. He's not just a one note person but has an impressive, multilayered performance. It really is a shame comedy actors don't get Oscars more because White truly earns one here.

Michael Jai White gives a Brilliant Performance as Dynamite

Dynamite is a movie that like it's main character seeks to top itself with every scene; when you think the main bad guy is gone, another worthy opponent shows up along with another worthy opponent. Most of the movie has very obvious winks from a hilarious chase between Dynamite and Cream Corn(yes, his name is Cream Corn), the stock footage used more than once, parts of intentionally bad continuity including a tear, and a boom mic that should get it's own IMDB page. So many moments in this film I asked myself "what? WHAT?!?!" So much of the clever site gags and jokes took me by surprise and left me holding on to the seat with laughter. I honestly haven't had as good a time at the movies since I saw Borat.

I could go on and on praising the the individual scenes that I found myself repeating and quoting with friends long after but I wont spoil anything. I honestly dont have anything to knit pick about; all the jokes worked and made me laugh to the point where I'm happy I didn't eat anything before it. I loved all the music, performances, choices, how Anaconda Malt liquor plays a role in it all and the hilarious final fight between Dynamite and the President of the United States. Also, this movie isn't just for Blaxploitation fans or for Black people only; speaking as a white suburban male with only an intro to the genre there's plenty here for the frat-boy demographic and the film fanatics to dig into. It's not playing wide just yet but when it does go there opening night for a terrific parody. I don't usually like to swear in my reviews but it really earns it: Black Dynamite is a fucking blast!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Death of Blockbuster's Monsters

This is a pretty sad day for cinema....

Halloween is coming up soon again and this time my family wants to be festive. We decided that we're gonna have a haunted-themed night with pumpkin carvings and creepy food as a fun little get together and I thought it would be a great idea to look for a pair of movies my parents introduced me to at a young age: the Bela Lugosi Dracula and the Boris Karloff Frankenstein. I started my search at all the places I knew of: two family videos, a Lion video, and a blockbuster. The glee I had in the video stores were apparent enough looking for the legendary film icons that are as timeless as Popeye the Sailor.


In the video sections, I searched for the D's and F's, the classic sections, the horror sections, and even the family sections in search and found nothing. They're gone! All four places I go to regularly don't have Dracula or Frankenstein I'm guessing because they're on VHS and not DVD.


I write this with a rather sad realization (besides not having Netflix at the moment). The video stores in my mind always carried the essentials that most people will watch; the movie that stay in our hearts and what we look up to the most from the medium and two of the greatest icons in film don't have a place in the stores of 2009. It makes me wonder what I'm missing with all these movies not around and reminds me of when the Kung-Fu films started to vanish from my favorite store.

It is a new age where I thank the heavens for Netflix and all it has to offer, but the sad fact is not everyone can get Netflix. Dracula and Frankenstein were great memories watching with my family just like Nintendo, pumpkin seeds and Charlie Brown. There was always that feeling of seeing the movie you want from the shelf and watching it 20 minutes later, it builds suspense that I still find myself going back to every week. Netflix has that but once you get it in the mail, the suspense is over. Sure you can get instant films but that just kills the suspense.

There's probably no way to get this back, just as impossible to have a grind-house movie, go to a drive in or watching effects with stop-motion figures like Army of Darkness. It's also sad to know that Young Frankenstein will be as much as we can get from the two classic films. It's really sad to see something like this go for simple convenience and quick timing but I cant help but think we're trading in charm for the convenience.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Uma Thurman at the Chicago International Film Festival 09

The Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF). Chicago has always been a great town for movie lovers; everything from the classy art-house of the Music Box to the loose, let's have fun theaters like Brew and View. If the mainstream wasn't your thing, you have an endless list of choices both new and old to choose from. If you like movies, Chicago is indeed heaven on earth.


One of the festival's best events was it's opening night featuring the art-house film Motherhood about a mother juggling her daughter's birthday party with a blog contest on Motherhood. It is written and directed by The Adventures of Pete and Pete fame Katherine Dieckmann and starring Uma Thurman. The film was pretty good but the experience of being there was pretty awesome.

What was really special about the event is that my older sister had VIP tickets since she works for one of their sponsors. With VIP tickets means that I'm in the front row of the theater. It's not really good to watch the movie but it was the absolute BEST seat for the opening ceremonies. It started out with WGN's Critic Dean Richards delivering an impressive intro to the fest as he introduced all the fest heads and a few sponsors including my school Columbia College's President Dr. Carter, the head judges, and even the Mayor Daily said a few words which was pretty cool. He made a little joke about Chicago losing the Olympic bid which was a nice little line.

The biggest honor of sitting in the front row however was the film's star Uma Thurman was there to accept the festival's Hugo Career Achievement Award. To get a little personal about this blog, I must confess that Kill Bill Vol. 1 is my favorite movie ever which I don't think a single blog could express my thoughts on that. Strangely though, I heard about the movie from the review on Ebert & Roeper and went to see it back in 03. What was even more bizarre about the screening was that film critic Roger Ebert was in attendance. So the actress of my favorite movie and the person who told me about the movie are in the same was just as strangely surreal as it was fucking awesome!

Uma Thurman at the Chicago International Film festival

After accepting the award, she said a few words about working in Chicago for the film Mad Dog and Glory (not a bad flick) which helped her start her career before Pulp Fiction came out. After thanking everyone and getting some applause, the film started. It was a good screening, the audience had a good time with it. Afterwords, there was a Q&A with the director and she actually didn't get a lot of questions. It's a good sign if a film speaks for itself and the audience doesn't need to be explained anything.


Overall, it was a great screening and will be a pretty good memory. I got to see one of my favorite film stars, a pretty good movie and got to see it with my sister Aly and my cousin Kim. Extra special thanks to my sis, so 1337! That's another thing off my list of things to do before I die, now I just need to see Quentin Tarantino, Daryl Hannah, Lucy Liu, and Vivica A. Fox and my life is complete. Thanks to CIFF for an awesome night and awesome festival.

Here's a Video of the event; you can just see me in the front row wearing white

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Review: Zombieland

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Elle Stone, and Abigal Breslin
Directed by Ruben Flischer

Why do we have so much fun with Zombie movies? Cinema, comics, and video games really do have a weird moral decision base for it's audience. We root for the bad guys, don't care about the good guys, and sometimes want death and destruction we normally would never want to wish upon another human being. If a zombie apocalypse happened, it would be the most devastating experience for everyone who lives or tries to live; your forced to kill family, friends, and complete strangers simply for survival. It would be an event comparable to the Black Plague and I drought we're gonna have George A. Romero movie called Night of the Almost Dead Living. This is a question that ponders the mind after experiencing the latest addition to the zombie genre Zombieland.


The film tells the story of four people known to each other only by their home towns but the story is told in voice-over by Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), a nerdy survivor who has 31 rules on how to survive a zombie invasion. While traveling to get back home, he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a hot-tempered cowboy with a cadillac, love of killing zombies and twinkles. They decide to team up temporarily to take Columbus to a certain point when they come across a pair of sisters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). After a string of events and mistrusts, the four decide to travel to an amusement park in California so Little Rock can enjoy it one last time.

Before the film came out, the marketing of the film through it's trailer became intriguing. It depicts our hero teaming up with Harrelson to kill of zombies in a car marked with a three on it's side. Viewing the trailer one would assume that the film is about a competition where the lone humans are out on the world to kill as many zombies as possible; almost a voluntary Running man or Madworld with zombies. Also, there seem to be all sorts of aspects of playing a real life video game in the film: we're given rules from Columbus as though we're being prompted on how to play the game and Columbus himself is a gamer playing World of Warcraft and having a modest game collection in his room. However, the film seems to shift it's focus from the zombies themselves to a sort of romantic comedy between Columbus and Wichita.

This is the first problem with Zombieland; it has elements of a fun zombie kill-fest but that just seems to get thrown to the side to have a pretty bland love story. There really isn't a lot to bring to merit with the love story and doesn't seem complicated at all. It's actually an annoying hollywood cliche that they have to throw in a love story into a zombie movie, war movie, thriller, action and ironically sometimes in romantic movies. Why not just stick to the kill-fest or have some more development of who these characters are? As it stands they just come across as one dimensional.

Another problem with the film is how there just doesn't seem to be enough conflict to go around. Most of the zombies are pretty easy for these characters to handle and there just isn't a lot of the undead to go around in the world. There is an uneasy alliance between the four characters; the reason they dont give their real names is because they don't want to get too attached to one another. Most of the movie, however, is about these four characters essentially bonding and having fun in this world. Alliance doesn't seem to be that big a problem; they sit around talking about pop-culture and twinkles.

In terms of the acting, the four leads just aren't given anything to do. Jesse Eisenberg, who was terrific in Adventureland (no relation to Zombieland) and The Squid and the Whale is reduced to playing dumbed down Folgell from Superbad; he's just an awkward, nerdy guy trying to get laid in the movie, nothing else. Harrelson doesn't fair better either and is just reduced to a comic relief clown of ht group. Emma Stone or Abigail Breslin of Superbad and Little Miss Sunshine respectably are left as the motherly, eye rollers who outwit the men at every turn and predictably need to be saved like the damsels in distress they are. These are all certainly capable actors that just don't have anything to chew on, which is ironic in a zombie movie.

On the bright side, the film does have one or two high moments. There is one place in which our four members find themselves in which creates a pretty creative cameo which I wont give away in this review. If you are interested in this movie, DONT go to IMDB, DONT read spoiler reviews, and DONT ask your friends about it. The appearance is so crazy, inventive, and hilarious that it saves the movie from being so bland.

It also does seem to have this geek-friendly quality and atmosphere to it. Throughout the film, I couldn't help thinking of the famous Max Brooks book The Zombie Survival Guide. The film seems to come from these fun conversations of "What would you do in a zombie apocalypse?" which would benefit the film had it spent more time with this. It's refreshing to see that all his video games and nerdiness seem to win the day for our heros instead of just condemning him as a social pollutant like Grandma's Boy or Fanboys does.


The excellent cameo and geek love aside, everything just seems so by-the-numbers for a mainstream film that I found myself asking too often this question: Who cares? The characters are one dimensional, the situations aren't funny, it has themes and ideas other films have handled more competently and it just gives no impression whatsoever. It's a victim of not being able live up to it's trailer or the really impressive slow motion opening sequence. At the end, I'm still not sure why we have so much fun with Zombie movies, maybe I just need to watch Planet Terror again while I inevitably forget Zombieland in six months.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fight Smack in the Orphanage NOW!

Mostly for this blog I do some reviews or maybe throw in a few words for the games or movie industries but this time I wanted to bring attention to a little non-profit organization that has a pretty ingenious idea for getting attention to a movie. It'll be pretty hard for Greenpeace to compete with a name like Fight Smack in the Orphanage.

At first I thought it was a real cause, it's actually a pretty clever way to market the new blaxploitation spoof film Black Dynamite coming out later this month. It also makes a pretty clever statement of how easily it is to manipulate. The film is essentially a parody of the Blaxploitation genre's pretentiousness as being a sometimes over-analyzed, anti-hollywood school of filmmaking; the site is doing a lot of the same things with the pretentiousness of "fighting the power."

It even makes reference to a book published in the 70's called We Are A Gentle Angry People: The Rise of Orphan Smack Addiction in the Latter Half of the Twentieth Century with all sorts of misinformation and plagiarism. Part of what it's saying is not everyone's perfect, we just try the best we can in power or otherwise.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Review: Twilight

Staring Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson
Directed by Catherine Handwicke

What does a film critic do? What is our job and our faithful duty? Why should we be able to have a career or in most cases aspirations of a career in today's society? A good film critic should give every movie a fair chance in spite of word of mouth, other reviews, and at times our gut instinct. EVERY movie deserves a fair chance. The bad publicity the latest teen sensation Twilight is getting with the feeling it's single-handedly "destroying cinema" needs no introduction. I admit I hadn't seen it until recently and I thought it unfair to simply dismiss this movie without seeing it; being in film school I know how it feels to have someone ignorantly dismiss your work. As a professional film critic; I decided to take a plunge into what is being called the worst movie of 2008 and give it a fair chance.

Thanks MTV for the photo

The film is about Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), a high school student who has moved into the cloudiest small town in America to live with her father while her mother goes on a trip with her new step-father. While getting aquatinted with everyone in town, she meets Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), a student with very strange mood swings and mannerisms. As she gets to try and know him, they she starts to realize that Ed's a vampire living in the town with her family. So the rest of the movie is about this romance and the forces trying to stop them.


Only one thing is good about this movie: Kristen Stewart. She isn't brilliant but she shows a lot of great promise in the years to come. While delivering her...dialogue...I did really buy her. She somehow added some good context to her character that made me almost fall for her. Don't believe me? I'd look up both Adventureland and Into the Wild. She miraculously carries this film and she's someone to keep an eye out for.

Well, I think I've delayed this long enough. That's the only praise I can give this movie and I've given it a fair shot. I can now safely say this: Twilight is awful. Really REALLY awful. Where do I begin?

First off: why can't people stop using voice-overs irresponsibly? In the beginning of the film, we're introduced to the Bella character wandering around Phoenix just trying to find something to do as her mother packs away to leave all while the voice-over explains what she's doing and where she's going. The visuals are doing a good job at showing what's going on, why do we need a voice-over to spoon-feed us this information? Part of cinema is showing us without telling us, that's what film can do and books cant do. Stop holding my hand Twilight, I can cross myself.

Second: These are indeed some of the stupidest townspeople in the history of cinema. How can no one guess about this vampires that don't eat, drink, hang-out in sunlight, and one can save a girl from a car accident by running across a parking lot in a split second? Not to mention, a lot of people in this town are just either melodramatically nice to everyone or horribly mean with no middle-ground: it's like the town has a moral choice system from Fallout 3 they have to abide by.

Third: Why does every vampire movie need a climactic battle? We're introduced to these three vampires who are after Bella and Edward in a pointless game of vampire baseball (or let's do cool stuff with budget CGI). We don't know who this guy is and why he's after Bella other than he just has the munchies bad. Thus we get an unmemorable showdown and a test of the two leads inconsistent love. Was a battle really necessary? We can't even see what happens to the other guy in the end, how did they kill him? Should we even care?

Forth: Robert Pattinson cannot act to save his life. I don't know whether to condemn him or give him funniest performance of the year. He's introduced by covering his mouth for an entire scene reason I guess. His chemistry is painful to watch at times and laughable at others. Also, I know these guys are vampires but would it have killed the make-up team to give him a little color? It's like the vampires swim in bleach for five hours a day.

In all honesty, I really could go on and on about his movie with it's bad dialogue, cliched camera work, and really sloppy rules but I think I can sum it all up with one part. Edward takes Bella to a mountain area where, for whatever reason only has sunlight, and reveals what he looks like in the sun. The suspense was there as I waited to see what could possibly be bad for this vampire to let the sun shine in. I almost fell out of my chair in disbelief. For what they decided to do to the vampire genre with the sunlight rule is officially the most retarded thing I think anyone could ever conceive possible. When Edward stepped into the sun and revealed his face against the sunlight to show what horrors it is to be a vampire in the real world, his skin is covered in glitter. I'm dead serious, the movie is about shining, glittery vampires. I think it was about when Bella said "It's beautiful" to this image when the movie officially ended. I can understand they're going for prejudice for the scene but...sparkling vampires?

I don't know who did this, but it certainly does justice

I would almost make a case of the movie being aimed at a mostly female audience which is rare these days in the realms of Sci-Fi. It is refreshing to know that a new market has opened up for this genre of sci-fi chick flicks is opening up giving some much needed originality to Hollywood's endless line of sequels every summer but this movie just isn't the right start. Edward has both stalker, manipulating, and overall a jerk written all over him. Great message for the middle school girls; Yeesh.

I really can't talk about it anymore. This thing is terrible; a laughably bad waste of time. I still don't think it's unsalvageable, it's making a star of Kristen Stewart and she defiantly deserves it. It's certainly not the worst movie of 2008, I still think that covenant award goes to both The Happening and Resident Evil: Degeneration but it certainly makes a Bronze. Now that my obligation to giving Twilight a fair chance is done, I'm off to watch Army of Darkness before I decide to just get an office job to leave cinema to it's Count Twinkles.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pearls before Swine...

Apparently I'm not the master writer I thought I was on good ol' ScrewAttack. The two reviews below you may not be Pulitzer prize worthy journalism but the only response I got from either of them was: what are those movies which I thought I wrote about and explained competently.

Why exactly is the gaming fan base of ScrewAttack so alienated by these movies? I can see Rachel Getting Married being slow and having some issues with it's pacing but I thought there would be some Bourne Identity backers for Matt Damon. Is it perhaps a metaphor for the nerd culture's feelings of alienation toward the rest of the world; a sense of loyalty to all sci-fi and action that keeps them away, or a long line of betrayal by smaller, independent work?

Or maybe it's just everyone's busy with school or ODST. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Review: Rachel Getting Married

Starring Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie DeWitt
Directed by Jonathan Demme

Speaking as a young, mid-twenty something male who still needs a camera and a solid editing job, I really can't give my experience to wedding videos. What I can imagine from these videos is a chronicle of two families becoming one in a day of complete bliss where all the troubles and headaches of the family seem to disappear. Unfortunately, this is the real world we live in and the daily stresses of life and family don't magically disappear the moment we cut the cake. When a wedding comes it, it's a time where a family is confronted with each others place and where they fit in it, if sadly sometimes at all. I know this can be a cynical point to take but in family, we have to deal with that every day. In last year's 2008 Oscar contender Rachel Getting Married, the film asks if a family can find forgiveness and communication over a horrible past and find a way for everyone to be happy. I'm not sure if the film ever gives us an answer to that question but it did give us one a pretty great film.


Rachel Getting Married is about Kym (Anne Hathaway), a woman just out of 10 years of rehab, who goes to her sister Rachel's (Rosemarie DeWitt) marriage. While the wedding is being planned for the weekend, Kym cant drive a car to her weekly drug addict meetings, has to stay at home with the family, and tries to reconnect with everyone in the house. Not to give too much away, she has a history that lead to a horrifying tragedy for the family and is lead to be the scapegoat. Now she has to come to terms with the family while battling for attention with her sister Rachel for the weekend.

I think the first thing that struck me about the film is the method of which it was shot. It's all done in what appears to be a documentary style with lots of handheld shots taken inside cars for the conversations and going around on the sidelines for the major scenes going on. There were a few awkward moments throughout the film in terms of camera angles and perspective until later on the movie breaks the forth wall and we see another cameraman with professional film equipment. I then realized what we're watching is a wedding video with everyone in the family part of it; Kym coming and gong from rehab, the tension they share, and the entire family dancing and celebrating serve the purpose of how it tries to hold the family together while still having all this tension and angst. While the characters in the film don't realize it, they are part of it. It's pretty effective cinematography that adds a really interesting context to the story.

The film is all about a lack of communication in a family I think everyone can relate to. I know people like Kym and Rachel who seem to fight for the families love and place. I know the parents who are trying to be the peace keepers of the family. Every family has a member who has made some mistakes in their life and the film is an examination of how a family deals with it, or at least tries to deal with it.

Part of the reason the film works as well as it does is that the direction Jonathan Demme took is to let all the actors approach each scene in a different way and allow a lot of improvisation for the different situations. Demme and his casting director Bernard Telsey obviously have a great eye for talent, everyone is fantastic in this movie. The smaller roles really fit in with the mode and add to the scenes but of course the real praise should be given to both Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie DeWitt for their just devastating performances. I've enjoyed Hathaway before with The Devil Wears Prada but this really is a career making role and DeWitt is a wonderful discovery for the years to come.


The only issue I have with the film is that it seems to have too much of an investment in the dancing scenes. I can see that music plays a character itself in the film; a constant reminder of Rachel's day competing with Kym, but it could have been cut down by a few minutes. I kept wanting to go back to the tension with Hathaway, DeWitt, and the family but we get so much partying throughout the film. I should also warn you that this can be a slow moving film at times and can alienate the audience but those scenes with the family really are very much worth it.

Other then that, this film is a great examination of mature sibling rivalry and a family dealing with the past. In the end, it does give hope that the family has a deeper understanding with one another but like the characters, we're never really certain of the fate these characters have. It leaves it to you to decide if the new family will find peace.

Review: The Informant!

Starring Matt Damon
Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Now that the summer season is done with sequels, shoot-em-ups, and sequels to shoot-em-ups, it's finally time for the independent, edgier directors to step up to the plate with some new, original content (thank God). And who better to start the year with the man who does things as different as the overlooked Bubble and Che to the moneymakers like Out of Sight and Ocean's Eleven. Yes, Steven Soderbergh is keeping up his busy year with his latest comedy The Informant!


The film is inspired by the book with the same name minus the exclamation point and is about Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), a vice-president working for a Fortune 500 Corn manufacturing company. While examining the numbers for the companies farms, Mark discovers a virus contaminating the corn and tries to tell about it but the corporate heads wont listen. Upon discovering the corn is being contaminated by a Japanese company, the company decides to call the FBI to investigate. This is one of those movies that's hard to discuss because it would give away a lot so not to spoil anything, the story goes into conspiracies left and right.

Soderbergh is ultimately going for a stylized dark comedy in this film: it's all done with this perky, 60's score complete with woodstock style titles. The whole film looks like it's set in the time period but is actually set during the mid-90's. Part of the reason for it, not to give too much away, is that Whitacre seems to be someone who loves revolves all his philosophies off movies, magazines, and television. It works well to put is in the world of Whitacre who seems to glamorize his world as a spy movie with him being the hero of the moment; just like the title proclaims, he's excited to be here. The cinematography overall is really memorable without throwing it in our faces while having a purpose to the character.

The Informant!
is a movie that reminds me of Fargo; its about a group of liars who exploit their customers who we're supposed to make fun of. It's a commentary of corruption that's funny but ultimately a sad look at our society; after you see it, you say to yourself "that was actually quite depressing."


I think my biggest issue I have with the movie is how it's told. The story and plot are both well executed and makes it's points about the examinations of the businesses and of the main character Whitacre; but it just feels like Whitacre himself isn't as engaging. I unfortunately think the problem is one thing: Matt Damon. He's certainly a great actor in other films and can be a fun character to watch but he just feels wrong for this material. Whitacre is a kind of arrogant doofus who thinks he's doing the right thing and basking in his own glory in his small little world, it could have made for great character study. There seems to be a lot to dig up with the character but Damon just doesn't seem to flesh out this character well enough; I really didn't buy him playing this kind of arrogant person.

It's really quite a shame too, The Informant! in it's core is a pretty great film but because Damon is so miscast, he cant really carry it all the way through. It's got some great craftsmanship and has an original, fun take on the corporate corruption genre but unfortunately collapses under it's own weight. It's certainly not a bad film, it's just a miscast film. Soderbergh so far has come out with three movies this year alone with The Girlfriend Experience and Che, one of my favorites of the year so far. Perhaps after all this work, he should take a vacation himself.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Upcoming Reviews

Here's a list of things I care enough to write about:

The Informant!
Starring Matt Damon
Directed by Steven Soderbergh


Starring Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke

Other Possible Movie Reviews:

Rachael Getting Married

Army of Darkness

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Review: Ponyo (Gake no ue no Ponyo)

Hayao Miyazaki. The man who has been called the Walt Disney of our time is back with another adventure of youth, fantasy, and jaw-dropping imagination. In an era that forgot the wonders of what a pen and pencil can do over a computer program, Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki have crafted a glorious reminder of not just a forgotten art, but a forgotten time in our lives when we were five years old and where there was a friendly monster waiting to soar you into your fondest childhood daydreams. The undisputed king of 2D animation is back to trade in his usual wings of flight for fins under the sea with his latest film Ponyo.


The movie tells the story of two very young children; Sosuke, (Frankie Jonas) a boy living on a cliff with his mother while his father sails a freighter around an ocean based town, and Ponyo, (Noah Lindsey Cyrus) a sort of twist of a goldfish with a human face and Goddess-like powers. She's the daughter both Gran Mamare (Cate Blanchett), a Goddess of the water, and of Fujimoto (Liam Neeson), a sort of Underwater Alchemist mixing potions to try and restore the ocean from, you guessed it, us foolish humans. When Ponyo manages to escape from Fujimoto's submarine and swims to shore, she grows a fondness for Sosuke and manages to get some human blood and turns human herself. Unfortunately being the daughter of a goddess and having a crush on Sosuke, the world's balance has been damaged to the point of Tsunamis and moon being out of balance. So it's up to the two to decide if our fishy friend should turn human for Sosuke or go back to the ocean to restore the world's balance.

Miyazaki has always been known for having a very high amount of imagination and it's certainly on display here. There really are dozens of images I took from the film such as Ponyo's school of fish, Fujimoto's submarine, the ocean goddess, and even the land itself. Any picture from the movie would make a wonderful screen-saver or portrait with the town, Ponyo and Sosuke, and a particularly spectacular scene involving the moon, the ocean, and the goddess. Trust me, it is certainly a sight to behold.

There were, however, a few distracting moments particularly with the audio. The score of the film draws a bit too much attention to itself. Some of the great scores are those that flow with the images giving a feeling that is invisible and helps create the mood but here, there were a few parts I felt it was competing with the images.

If there is also a common criticism I can give about Miyazaki's films, it's the Disney dubbing. Yes, I am an otaku and speaking as one along with a film geek, the subtitles are usually the better of the bunch. The criticism I have, however, is it tries to hold our hands to stuff us stupid americans wouldn't get. One example is when Fujimoto is gliding along a sea of dirt, we hear him give a comment about us filthy humans. All the trash and dirt around is more than enough to get your point across about it. It's Hayao Miyazaki, Disney; he knows how to get his visuals across.

I certainly didn't have a problem with the acting though, the timing for everyone is spot and and everyone is a strong fit for their roles. Liam Neeson's panicy authoritative tone was perfect for Fujimoto and I found young Noah Lindsey Cyrus as Ponyo increadibly charming in this version. I wouldn't mind giving Noah a young actor's award.

Who'da thought Ponyo could run like Sonic?

It's certainly no secret that Studo Ghibli is known for it's children-aimed entertainment but this movie is undoubtedly it's most child friendly movie they've made. It has the youngest heroes of the bunch, both 5 years old, the movie is rated G, and the song the end song is certainly something you'd hear in a Daycare center. In comparison to Miyazaki's other works while going through a fairy tale and having an enormous amount of depth and surreal imagination, this movie seems the least deep and much more fairy tale. It's much more simple having this world literally revolving around a princess and young boy's true love for one another.

It wasn't until I thought about it when I realize it's simple nature is by design for what the movie is trying to do. Ponyo is ultimately going to be compared to The Little Mermaid which I didn't realize until later is a pretty steryotypical flick. Why would Ariel give up being a princess for a human with blue eyes? I can imagine the adventure of it all, but it's just saying how this woman loses her independence for a dude. How this film compares to Ponyo is, well, Arial's a young woman while Ponyo's learning her first words. The movie's best quality is it's childish charm of seeing two five year olds playing marriage. It's the same warm feeling you would get if you saw your son give a flower to a girl in kindergarden. The simple design of the movie is a kind of celebration of childhood innocence and friendship through a wondrous fantasy inspired by sea-bearing myth.

To give you, faithful readers a final word, this is probably the least deep story of the Studio Ghibli library (kind of ironic being under the sea) but it's truly another that shines like a pearl; and no matter how old you are entering this movie, you leave with the joy of a five year old.

Review: Inglourious Basterds 2nd Look & Controversy

I'm not ashamed to admit that I can miss a few things the first time around. Once in a while there are movies that I don't fully understand what I saw until I saw it again. After two viewings of Martin Scorsese's The Aviator I was able to fully grasp what Scorsese was doing and I fell in love with it. Someone once said that if if you watch a movie and are left thinking about it later wanting more, it's a sign of a truly great film. Apparently I owe an apology to Mr. Tarantino because 2nd time around his latest film Inglourious Basterds is indeed one of the best films of the year.


Last time I wrote about this film, I criticized it for having too much dialogue that took too long to get anywhere but it turns out that's not the truth. All the dialogue the second time around does have a purpose and helps the suspense going all around. The Tavern scene is miles better and plays with one of the films central themes: performance as a weapon. All the characters in the film are putting on some kind of show in order to survive. Col. Landa plays the role of the detective with his pipe prop and changes languages because he has an audience. It all works so well the second time and builds the suspense even thought I know the ending of the scenes.

There are, however, only a few nit-pics I would make for it: the Kill Bill soundtrack for some of the scenes still doesn't work. When Michael Bay used the soundtrack from Kill Bill in The Transformers, I never thought in a million years that Tarantino would do the same in his movies. It would make sense if the music had a meaning to the situation but it just feels really out of place. But all the other music choices play with the audience and help build suspense for all the scenes. Just lose the wink at the camera and we're all set.

Now one thing that a few critics have pointed out about this film is it's ending. In a Newsweek article by critic Daniel Mendelsohn said that by having the ending be what it was, it's a form for Jews to be as horrible as the Nazis were. Another critic responded to the article by saying that the ending is a form of Holocaust denial. I can see there arguments however I disagree that it's a form of Holocaust denial or that anyone should forget about the horrible things that happened. First of all, what Tarantino has happen to one character at the end is his way of reminding people never to forget what happened during WWII.

Basterds a Holocaust Denial Film?

Second; speaking as someone of non-Jewish decent, is seeing an Ass-Kicking Jew movie necessarily a bad thing? To me, film is a way to release some feelings of anger and remorse over moments in history, personal life, or any problems. In Japan, they get this kind of violent material all the time from Ichi the Killer to Violence Jack and that country hardly ever sees violence. I remember in an interview how one of the actors from Germany found the ending as rewarding as anyone did; they certainly are not a fan of what Hitler did.

Also, I do think it is a bit unfair to Tarantino to label his film a holocaust denier. The movie is about how movies portrayed this moment in history form before the war started with propaganda and after the war ended from the 70's to this day. There's still something to have your mind digest with movies but all a movie does is cast light against celluloid. Film should never try to be reality because the minute it hits that editing lab, it is pure fiction and I think Mr. Tarantino recognizes that.

Well, getting past the controversy, a lot of the problems I had with this movie aren't problems anymore. It's a thrilling, satisfying revenge flick filled with suspense, great acting, and really does remind me of why I got into film reviewing in the first place.

To give only one spoiler Brad Pitt says to another Basterd "This just might be my masterpiece." Well Tarantino, I think I just might agree.

Here's hoping Christoph Waltz has some Milk at the Oscars

Link to Daniel Mendelsohn's Article:

Old Blog: Thanks to the g1's

When I got back from my internship at, I made this little video to the community. Published Sept. 7th, 2009

Old Blog Review: Inglourious Basterds

This review was published August 30th, 2009

Well folks, summer's almost over; my internship's ending, school's starting up again, and we're all playing Arkham Asylum at last (not a bad game btw). At the cinema scene, I'm pretty happy with this summer with the stupid fun of G.I. Joe, the thrills of the first half of Star Trek, smart action from District 9, and the best movie of the year so far The Hurt Locker. But in my mind it all lead of to this moment; the two hours at the movies I've been waiting for almost a decade to see. This summer, I was interested in one thing and one thing only: Killin' Nazis!


Inglourious Basterds, the latest from writer/director Quentin Tarantino, is a WWII fairy tale featuring intertwining stories between Nazis, runaway theater owners, spies, and "The Basterds," a Jewish-American team of super-solders strait out of a 70's exploitation flick. The movie revolves around a screening of a Nazi propaganda film "Nation's Pride" where the major leaders of the 3rd Reich, including Hitler himself, will be attending. Upon the news, all the spies, solders, and even the theater owner, want to burn every leader of the room, so our story begins.

Don't believe the Marketing the film which sets up. The filck isn't about the Basterds, led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), being at the center stage for this adventure. They're only in for about a fourth of the movie. The story also takes focus to Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent), a Jewish run-away who runs a theater where the film is screening, Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger), an actress working as a spy strait out of the Ernst Lubitsch movie To Be or Not To Be (Look It Up!!), and Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), a brutal commander nick-named "The Jew Hunter."

Quentin Tarantino preparing the Sergio Leone-esc opening

Tarantino has said in interviews that he's been working on the script for Basterds for about 10 years and it's very episodic. Each of these story lines feels like it's own individual film from a romantic drama, 40's suspense thriller, and a grindhouse flick rolled into one. It almost feels like a mix-tape for movies depicting WWII and we get a lot in this 2 1/2 hour sandwich. It starts out with "Once Upon a Time...In Nazi Occupied France" and that's exactly how to sum it up: a fairy tale only movies can do for us leading from our fantasies of Jewish ass-kicking, romantisisning of the era, and how cinema has portrayed it all.

This, I feel, is part of the movie's problem: it tries to fit too much into it's scenes and can become rather tiresome; especially with the dialogue. I really started to lose interest after going on and on about the dating prospects, movies of the 40's and what kind of wine Nazis drink. The movie is trying hard to have these scenes of high tension before giving us an explosion but I couldn't stop drifting from for these scenes wondering when he's going to get to the point.

The Bar Scene dialogue needs a little off the top, bottom, and middle.

Aside from that, the movie has some truly amazing moments in it. One thing Tarantino loves to do is play with the audience's expectations and that's certainly on display here. A good example is when a Jewish woman is running away from Col. Landa for her life. We see Landa aim his gun at her back with a giant musical score leading to what will be a melodramatically tragic death. Then he points the gun away from her, she escapes, and Landa laughs. I can picture Tarantino himself laughing at the audience with his dark, twisted joke.

Speaking of which, the music plays a central role in the film giving us some twists between scenes. At one moment, we'll be in a montage of interrogation with spy tactics and then we cut to a completely different scene and tone. A lot of the time, it's pretty funny to have these sudden cuts between scenes. There were a few odd choices in the soundtrack ranging from David Bowe to Charles Bernstien that I'm sure is from a 70's or 80 movie I'm too old to have heard of. Sometimes it works great for in-between scenes for a funny change of mood but others where it seems unnecessary and confusing. One annoying thing is that he used music from the Kill Bill soundtrack. That stuff worked wonders for Kill Bill but hearing it again seems like a wink at his own voice.

But the big highlight that makes the movie shine are the Basterds themselves. Brad Pitt is enormous fun to watch as he smirks with his cartoonish accent, smug attitude, and especially when he enters the theater with the funniest fake Italian you'll ever hear in a movie. They have some of the funniest lines, moments, and explosive climax's of the movie. Even Eli Roth as "The Bear Jew" is a lot of fun with his bat and that awesome smile will win you over. Trust me, you'll love the Basterds.

Speaking of performances, Pitt and Roth do their jobs and so do a lot of the cast. Kruger shows a great double performance as the fun drinking buddy and hard determined spy; Laurent is great as a seductive, determine fighter, and romantic. But the best performance of the bunch goes to Christoph Waltz as "The Jew Hunter." The same way David Carradine made the monster Bill a likable, sympathetic character, Waltz does the same thing here. I just get scared watching him and in a way root for him too. Only a few actors can pull that off and Waltz does it very well.

Overall the movie really is 50-50. There are grand moments of suspense, dark comedy, great acting, but some off-putting music moments, overly drawn dialogue, and has the feeling it could have been cut down to two hours. Overall though, I do say to check it out because for all the whiskey talk, the Basterds, explosive climaxes, twisting with the audience, and especially the incredibly satisfying explosive ending are well worth it.

Old Blog: SGC Youtube Hell Playlist

Back in 2009, held it's first convention SGC (ScrewAttack Gaming Convention) and for the convention I hosted a panal of a ton of Youtube clips playing on Midnight Saturday at the event. This blog is a link to the forum post and a thank you note to all the g1s.

This blog was published July 6th 2009

Youtube hell promo

The YouTube Playlist: ... E253F164C0

The Complete list of YouTube Submissions:

Also: Here's Keavy's Review of the awesome Coen Brothers flick The Big Lebowski that I pushed off with this post.

Hey g1's

Ok, I don't know about everyone who went to my little three hour panel featuring YouTube videos submitted by g1s but I will say it was a FUCKING BLAST!!!!!!! When Do The Mario first came on and the room started dancing, when the crowd quoted Powerthirst, or when they gasped at the remains of a Pikachu doll in the microwave, it turned into one of the best moments of the entire con.

All g1's with vids that made it into hell will receive g1 points added to their score. It will either be 100 or 150 for each video that made it. The points reward will be decided on later in the week.

After experiencing the event and taking some time to absorb the reactions I felt had room for improvement during the Hell, here is a small list of changes for SGC 2010:

Change from Midnight on Saturday to Friday at (Hopefully) 9
Higher Resolution
Play on a DVD for faster Fast-Forwards
Bigger Room (Help me to convince Craig :) )

And Most Importantly: We Need Hard-Gay :wink:

I would like to again give very VERY special thank you to everyone who submitted videos to Hell. Also a special thanks to Hybrid Rain and Aggressive Sock for speaking about their videos before the presentation started.

Not to get too serious and personal with this, I wanted to mention that when I first started this Internship I knew I had a responsibility to the g1 community to do my best in meeting the expectations of both you and the rest of the ScrewAttack crew. Then on Sunday at SGC, I ran into g1's all over the place thanking me for all the work I've done. I was busy that last day and didn't get a lot of time to properly thank all of them, but thanks to everyone who said that. It fills my heart with joy that people who don't know exactly who I am came up to me and gave my your thumbs up. To all g1's, you are the absolute heart and soul of not only the event and convention, but the entire website. Thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for a wonderful evening.

If you have any comments, complaints, or criticisms for YouTube Hell, feel free to post here. See you at SGC 2010, WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Keep on Rockin'
Mark the Intern

Old Blog Review: Mini Reviews of Rail of the Star, Lucky Star First Impressions, & Interstella 5555

These reviews were published March 28, 2009

    Rail of the Star


During WWII, the governments of the world caused enormous damage to Asia. They started invading countries one by one causing families to be torn apart, homes destroyed, and have the people deal with guilt and dismay. When the Japanese lost the war, their people took the blame for what their government decided. Can a people be forgiven for what their government did and can they deal with the consequences?

This is unfortunately all the substance from Rail of the Star, a true story of a Japanese girl in Northern Korea during and after WWII. It tells the story of how her family and life changes from the war on their journey to escape to Southern Korea and eventually back to Japan. Throughout the journey, friends and family are lost and left to the girl’s memory.

Rail commits the same sins of The Pianist; the whole movie feels like a mad libs story with occupied Japanese filled in the blanks. It really doesn’t tell anything new or deliver in an interesting way what war was like for the Japanese. It feels like a missed opportunity to get an interesting perspective of what it was like though a child’s eyes, looking back on it as a memory, or that it’s told through an animated story.


Part of the problem is that the animation gets sloppy at a few moments and there are a number of moments that could have been trimmed. Sometimes some of the layers move, the sound design is distractingly weak, and there are moments where it would have helped to see the enemies of the pursuers.

Overall, this Anime will probably remain obscure. If you’re looking for a deep and meaningful look at an animated depiction of the hardships of the war, give this a pass and find Grave of the Fireflies.

    Lucky Star First Impressions


Script doctors aren’t uncommon in the entertainment industry; a person takes a weak attempt to tell a story and gives it to another person to apply the creative bandage to the project to produce a script that sings, dances, and even does your laundry. In 2002, Azumanga Daioh! treated viewers to a reason to have a mute button with a plethora of irritating characters and voices. Five years later, Bandai Entertainment decided to patch-up the formula with Lucky Star and is certainly on its way to a full recovery.

Upon seeing the first four episodes, Lucky Star is a different kind of Anime that features no plot or ultimate goal in each episode. All we’re given is four high school girls living their life with conversations about everyday things like playing video games, eating sweets, or getting homework done. In Anime, it’s a breath of fresh air to sit down and hang out with people to have everyday conversations.

The only problem is we’ve seen these four characters before and for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you their names. Their types I can name: the nerdy girl who spends her time gaming, the ditzy girl with the high hentai voice, her twin sister who gets upset at geek girl, and the perfect busty student.


Then there’s Lucky Channel. Not to give anything away; this is the highlight of the show with a three or four minute satirical look at Japanese talk show. This is what the show should have been about; I don’t see what are stoping people from looking it up on Youtube.

Lucky Star is an overall improvement on the Daioh! formula with a lot less annoying characters and more added charm. It reached for the stars but doesn’t go beyond orbit.

    Interstella 5555


Music videos can become an enhancement of a particular song adding subtext to create a deep or meaningful mood or it can make you want to throw your Ipod in the garbage. Concert films have the challenge of trying to make a series of songs into a cohesive narrative. Intestella 5555 achieves that goal while remaining a very well crafted narrative.

The film is an anime movie all done with songs by Daft Punk. There are no dialogue and no voice acting, the music tells the story with the visuals of an alien rock band kidnapped and taken to earth by an evil corporation. It’s amazing how all the songs fit to the narrative structure without any plot holes. The art designs are done by Leiji Matsumoto and bring nostalgia of 1970’s and is edited and crafted well to fit Punk’s techno.

The story follows the band as a group of agents from earth transport the blue heroes and take them to a secret base crafting the four as popular band, changing their skin and brainwashing them. There seems to be a lot of attention paid to how the media transforms the band into a manufactured pile of money but ultimately results into a mystical cult trying to take over the world using kidnapped aliens and Grammy awards.


The plot certainly seems farfetched but Punk’s and Matsumoto’s intentions were to have a childlike fantasy using the band’s music. This is certainly a plot we’d see in any 70’s anime that both artists grew up with. The result is a blissful, artistic dream back to our childhoods reflective of the dreamlike music that accompanies it. If you have an hour to kill and want to take a magical ride through sci-fi with a toe-tapping soundtrack, climb aboard. Interstella 5555 is waiting.

To find these and other quality reviews, visit the g1 League of Critics thread here on the Screwattack Forums.

League of G1 Critics Logo

Old Blog Review: Resident Evil Degeneration

Heaven help the film industry...
This was published March 1st, 2009

High School productions are something that no human being should ever experience. I recall back in my band class of a teacher who would listen to a performance from one of the band members. After a performance that, shall we say wasn’t Miles Davis, he would hang his head down in utter confusion. He tried to piece together the words for what he just heard and unfortunately couldn’t think of the right dialogue and hit his head with an eraser in shame and humiliation.

If there was camp in Resident Evil: Degeneration, I might have enjoyed this movie. However, I am going to go on record as to say that this two hour DVD may be the biggest waste of resources I have ever seen. This movie is unwatchable.


How does this script get green lighted? Seriously, How? I’m trying to wrap my brain over why a movie would be made and I can’t seem to discover why. This movie doesn’t make any statements about medical practice in society, the characters aren’t developed or anywhere interesting, the plot isn’t delivered in a new or interesting way, there’s no gimmick that would differentiate this movie from others, and there are no name voice talents to back up the movie.

Basically the story is a plane crash and a lab blowing up. That's literally all the story is: a plane and lab blowing up. There is an explanation over a new Pharmaceutical company, a senator backing it up, controversy surrounding the company, and a long list of conspiracies but they all seem to be an excuse for a boss battle and a series of shooting zombies. This company would never exist in real life to build overly elaborated bases with 4 falling air-sealed platforms that explode on command. This wouldn’t be so bad if they decided to have some fun with the concept with some one-liners, winks at the camera, and some indication that they know all they’re doing is making excuses for action but the film takes everything so seriously that I cant help but unintentionally laugh.

One scene that comes to mind is early on before the plane crashes into the airport terminal. The overall idea is fine, the plane crashes and there’s panic all around but there are so many stupid choices. Why does Clair Redfield wave her hands at a random stranger? Why is the security guard want to arrest Redfield for waving her hands? How do zombies know how to open a plane’s door after it’s crashed and why do they just fall out of the plane like lemmings? The final straw was Clair giving a melodramatic line at this utterly ridiculous display that I burst out laughing in disbelief.

Look! The best actors in the movie!

The whole movie is like this. They’ve thrown out all logic and expect you to look at it and feel for the disaster that’s happening. One of the biggest problems is that the DVD doesn’t come with the original Japanese soundtrack but is all dubbed in English. Why? This is a DVD marketed at fans of the series, having the Japanese soundtrack should be given. So all I have to go on is some of the worst acting I have heard in a while. The senator feels like he should be in a Hayou Miyazaki movie as a giant trash monster or something but it’s the voice of a fat white congressman in semi-realistic animation. It sounds so ridiculous and over-the-top that you just want to rip the actors vocal cords out. Even Steve Blum, Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop, is reduced to a football frat boy yelling and cheering like the overly drunk uncle at a wedding.

Another big problem is the animation style itself. It all is made to look realistic with some modern architecture and character designs that resemble Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within characters without the futuristic costumes. It sets the movie in this mood that it wants to be more mature and true to life but the dialogue, performances, and impossible situations make it more of a joke. If it were done in less detailed graphics or done something risky with the look, it might have a different effect but as it stands the movie just feels like a punch line. Also, why is it that Leon has the same expression with every situation? Did he swim in Botax to prepare for this movie? Even Golgo 13 had more movement in his head.

Is it really that hard to smile or move your eyebrows?

Oh, I just realized why they would make this movie…Resident Evil. It’s based on the video game and is involved in the story. However one big argument comes mind that unlike a lot of video game based movies, this one is very faithful to the story and fans of Resident Evil will be pleased. There’s a very good article by Leigh Alexander on all about this idea and video game based movies in general. Here’s a link to her article.

She notes that video game based movies are often shallow without the interactive experience and she’s quite right with Degeneration. Resident Evil 4, one of my personal all-time favorite games, has a terrible story. You’d think that the military would go in and find the President’s daughter without sending one lone assassin who happens to have survived Raccoon city. The thing that makes RE4 so different is that it had what Degeneration should have had: camp. In RE4, whenever you found evidence to discover a conspiracy theory about the government, Leon would get a call from the man in the mansion delivering amusing one-liners. Then you would go blast the head of enemies like a hammer to jelly. It understood that the point of the game is to have some fun with it so it had references to Commando and kept the bad-ass camp from that film and let you know the whole thing is a joke to get you a shotgun blast.

I think the biggest thing that disappoints me about this movie is that it’s from Capcom and proudly displays their logo at the beginning of the film. Most, if not, all other movies are from another person and adaptations of someone else’s work. Even though movies are terrible, you can at least say that the developers didn’t make them. This movie shows Capcom’s complete degeneration from reality and frankly lack of respect to its audience. Do they really think we’re this stupid to enjoy a script that makes me want to choke a baby? They can make video games like Herculean Gods but they can’t write a script to save their lives.

Yes sir, if she doesn't die from her poisin, the audience will first.

So you’re probably thinking that thought that all people have when they read reviews like this: “How bad can it be?” Then you’ll go rent the DVD to find out; don’t. Really, I’m serious; it’s that bad a movie. Life is short; go out and watch 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, Commando, or The Dark Knight again. Resident Evil: Degeneration is the worst film of 2008 and with The Happening coming out that year, that’s saying a lot.

Old Blog: Interview with Digital Debaser

Back in Version 3 of, there was always a controvesy involving the points system and the moderators receiving "free points" in the website. So, I contacted the main target of the criticism: Moderator Digital Debaser, and had an interview with him about the points system.

This video was published Febuary 17th, 2009.

Go visit Debaser's website:

The original ScrewAttack Blog:

Old Blog Review: The Incredible Hulk

This review was published in January 19th, 2009

Comic books have come a long way in the past century from having cute cartoon characters, Herculean Gods on earth, gone through rough times and evolved into dark, intelligent and complex tales transforming the medium into Graphic Novels finding places on 100 best novels lists next to To Kill a Mockingbird…at least that’s what I’m hoping is the case. Even with this endless list of inspiration to dwell on characters such as the Green Lantern, Spiderman, the X-Men, and recently with Iron Man, they still somehow make the same movie with each of the characters amounting to generic storylines and a lack-luster villain. The Incredible Hulk is the latest comic book epic that we’ve all seen before and the big green monster can’t escape the cliché.


The flick starts off with Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) in a Brazilian favela working at a soda factory and hiding from Uncle Sam while trying to find a cure to his green-eyed monster. The Sam he’s hiding from is General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt) who finds him and sends the dogs to hunt him down including Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) who trigger the Hulks rage and send him on the run. Banner then runs back to the university where the experiment went wrong to find Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), his old girlfriend and scientist. The two then set off to try and find a cure for the big guy before the military can start dissecting on Bruce.

First impressions were good; in a title sequence that teaches everyone what happened to the Hulk filling us in with his origin. It trusts the audience that they know what the Hulk is and doesn’t waste time giving us filler that has to be explained in the first half hour. Instead we get Banner trying to fight his inner demons with rehab and Sesame Street. Once the troops start shooting, the Hulk is in the shadows again letting us fill in the blanks of fighting his adversaries. It was like watching Jaws going after pray that we cheer for; a mysterious benevolence that lets the audience insert their own beat um up action.

Edward Norton as the Hulk

Unfortunately that’s where the interest and imagination ends. Once our hero makes it to America it falls into predictable, boring superhero action film. The main focus of the story shifts to the love interest with Betty, who is also the daughter of Thunderbolt, and there’s really nothing interesting about it. She never asks what happened to him when he disappeared and is only there to be the girl in the background screaming for her hero not to get hurt. I couldn’t help thinking of Tyler’s role in Armageddon and how it’s the same performance. Tyler is hung out to dry with the script but she just felt like a one note show.

The villain, Tim Roth, doesn’t fair much better. His only motivation is simply to be a good fighter and try to take on the Hulk. Why? There has to be some kind of deeper motivation to an adversary but it just comes off as another stock bad guy. All the characters give us nothing to hold on to with their personalities. All the events that are put in front of the characters have no suspense because you expect the big green hero to go after the bad guy and wander into the sunset for sequel possibilities.

The final point of the formula ends with an inevitable final fight between two CG creatures that come off as laughable in the end. The Hulk somehow manages to stop a chopper from exploding by clapping his hands and making the wind stops the flames. How exactly does Gamma radiation enable man to command the elements? Does the axis go into alignment when he waves goodbye?

The Hulk should never take driving lessons.

So many comic book adaptations rely too much on a generic love story for the hero to go in and save the girl, and it is always the girl that needs help for whatever reason. Romance can be used effectively in a superhero opus, Spiderman 2 for example did have this kind of generic love story to it but it was only one factor in Peter Parker’s life; he had to consider his education, how he cant make it on time to anything, and if what he does with all his efforts do any real good to society. The villain too had more interesting motivations with if he’s doing any good in society with him trying to control his inner demons; he wasn’t just someone who wants to beat the hero, he had deeper reasons for his destruction.

Overall, the movie just feels like every other cookie-cutter superhero movie that didn’t really have anything for me to take with me. The first half of the movie was promising and well done giving plenty of time to explore the Hulk universe but it left me unsatisfied wanting to know more about everyone’s favorite angry giant. If you want to know about something you can take with the creature, I’d go check out the comics or the animated films and you can give this film a skip. It is worth mentioning that there was originally a much longer version of the movie that was cut out and we got a shortened version. Did the relationship with Bruce and Betty mean more than Tyler screaming at a green screen? I’m afraid we don’t know from this movie.