Monthly Archives: November 2009

Drag Me to Hell movie review

I recently watched Drag Me to Hell on Blu-Ray having missed it in theaters. It’s disappointing for me to say this but I’m glad I didn’t end up paying full price. The movie isn’t a complete failure. It’s a good attempt by Sam Raimi and his brother Ivan to retreat from the fiasco that was Spiderman 3 and return to the schlock-horror roots of the Evil Dead franchise. Hell, the movie even starts with what I believe to be an old school Universal Studios logo.

The story is one that really isn’t too original either. It’s basically the ol’ so you slighted a gypsy tale with the modern twist being that the gypsy in question is denied a home loan (thanks a lot Obama) by an ambitious young loan officer named Christine Brown (Alison Lohman). Lohman is a beautiful woman, there is no denying that. Sadly, she is not a great actress. I didn’t find her character interesting in any way. Lohman doesn’t have much range. The role was supposed to go to Ellen Page who probably would have been a much better choice. I just found Lohman fairly bland unfortunately. To make matters worse, she’s dating Justin Long (Clay something or other in the movie).

Justin Long is insufferable to me thanks to the asinine I’m a Mac ads run by Apple. Also, the dude looks no older than 22 and in this film he is supposedly a professor of psychology. Really? And his office is littered with Apple products. Raimi lingers on the god damned iPhone for six to ten seconds when Christine tries to call for help. I mean come on. And Christine uses a Mac too. The perfect couple! Ugh…

Credit Lohman for allowing Raimi to disgrace her in many ways. Lohman spends most of the film having various nasty things inserted into her mouth from flies to ooze to arms. I never knew a dead gypsy woman at a viewing would be so full of green puss until Sam Raimi came along. Oh and the movie has a possessed goat that called Christine a bitch. Yeah…

I don’t really know what else to say about Drag Me to Hell. I’m a little concerned for Spiderman 4 after this movie. Raimi let the reins go on this one and never grounded it to make it unique. I’ve seen the gypsy curse thing and I’ve seen it done better (Thinner and The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror come to mind). This one was a bit of a miss and that’s a big letdown.

I hold this work to be original thought. If I have used copyrighted material please email me. I will bring it down immediately. I merely mean for this blog to be a means to discuss and dissect my favorite things.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves game review

It’s been quite some time since I’ve attempted a video game review. Video games are a lot harder to write about then films because other people cannot really share in the personal experience a video game offers. Well, if they are playing multiplayer I suppose but those aren’t games I’m interested. Give me a great story and a purpose to play a game any day over let’s divide into teams and curse at each other.

I have been fortunate enough to get in on the Sony PlayStation 3 bandwagon. While I am and always will be a PC gamer first and foremost, two games have proven that Sony does have a great platform on hand if developers have the resources to cater to it. These games are of course Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and it’s recently released sequel, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. I have played through both of these gems created by the insanely talented folks over at Naughty Dog and have come away incredibly impressed.

I won’t be spending time on reviewing Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. It sets a great tone for the sequel that improves upon it’s concept of environmental exploration and modern-day swashbuckling. Both games center around one Nathan Drake, a sort of 21st century Indiana Jones minus the college professor title and replacing a whip with a variety of guns. Drake is a fortune hunter who always finds himself in the midst of bad company and somehow has enough combat training at his disposal to take on armies of mercenaries.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves takes place a few years (I believe) after the events of the first game. Drake has quit the business but like all sequels, is drawn back into the game by a beautiful woman named Chloe and her accomplice a British dude he knows named Harry. There is apparently a long lost treasure somewhere in the mountainous region near Tibet. The location for said treasure was uncovered by the intrepid explorer Marco Polo. This treasure is hidden in the mythical city of Shambhala which is based off of Tibetan mythology.

I wrote earlier that I am a man who loves a game with an engrossing story and well-developed characters. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves has this in spades. The writing is tight throughout. Dialogue is snappy and avoids many cliches. The voice-acting in this game is exemplary. The production of the game is so top-notch it’s ridiculous. The game begins with you escaping a train that is hanging over the precipice of a mountain outside of Tibet. This brings me to the next thing that will blow your mind about the game, the visual presentation.

Whilst the game could be done on the PC with no issues other than getting a good control scheme down, the graphics in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves will make you a believer in the potential power of the PlayStation 3. I truly have not seen a console game look so damn good. The animations, textures, lighting, and environmental effects form a perfect storm that assaults your eyeballs. This truly is the first next-generation experience I’ve had on a console. The music and sound effects are also top-notch. So much care went into the game it’s a shame other studios don’t have the financial resources that Naughty Dog was surely given by Sony to create this gem of a game.

The gameplay brings all of the above together. The game is essentially a series of puzzles offset by action setpieces. While linear in every possible way, the set pieces are astounding. From running from an attack chopper while jumping from speeding car to speeding car or trying to avoid a tank in the middle of a Tibetan village, the game doesn’t disappoint.

There are still quibbles left over from the first game. I found myself missing key jumps over and over again due to very sensitive controls (or my own lack of skill). I still wish I could aim my weapons with a damned mouse as well. I cannot tell you how I despise aiming with a joystick. The game is also obvious as to when an action section will be triggered much as the first game. Essentially every time you see broken pieces of concrete that are slightly taller than Drake expect to be ducking under them while mercenaries are triggered. Still, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is perhaps one of the most flawless console games I’ve ever played and certainly one of the best of this past decade.

If Sony can crank out more exclusive AAA titles like this than the 360 will be in some trouble. I really don’t think Microsoft’s console could have handled the graphics quality of this game nor have provided as tight controls. Perhaps I’m wrong on that but I’ve seen nothing exclusive yet on the 360 in recent months that comes close to reaching the fidelity Naughty Dog achieved here. Jump on the bandwagon and get the Uncharted games when you do. You’ll be in for a treat.

I hold this work to be original thought. If I have used copyrighted material please email me. I will bring it down immediately. I merely mean for this blog to be a means to discuss and dissect my favorite things.

The Men Who Stare At Goats movie review

This is going to be a harder film to review than usual. The Men Who Stare At Goats is the latest vehicle of George Clooney who will have a two other movies (The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Up in the Air) out in theaters before 2009 draws to a close. The Men Who Stare At Goats is one of the most broad and eccentric films I’ve probably ever seen. It is a comedy, but it’s structure is so loose and abnormal that it almost defies categorization into what I and probably many others expect from a comedy.

Comedy films of the past decade or so almost universally can boil down to the following plot structure; a group of schlubs, or a loner, or a misfit try to right their lives or get into some sort of zany situation (being stoned, getting lost, trying to win a girl, and so on). The misfit, pack of misfits, or what have you then go on some extended journey wherein one-liners are made, bodily fluids are exchanged or joked about, and things fall into place in just the right way. At the end some people have grown others are just the same. It’s predictable and can work if done right (Judd Apatow has this down to a science and I’ll still pay money to see him use this formula).

Yet The Men Who Stare At Goats has no such structure. Hell, it barely has structure at all. The plot can sort of be described as this; a down on his luck reporter (Ewan McGregor as Bob Wilton) for a newspaper in Ann Arbor, Michigan (Muck Fichigan, go Bucks) somehow gets a tip off regarding a top-secret military unit. This unit apparently was trained in the art of psychic warfare. Their teacher was a man named William Django (played wonderfully by Jeff Bridges) who realized during Vietnam that soldiers really don’t want to kill people. After a wonderfully hilarious montage of hippy convents Django returns to the United States Army and somehow gets funding for a “New Earth Army”.

The New Earth Army refer to themselves as Jedi. They will use psychic powers to defeat the enemies of peace via non-lethal means. Lots of craziness ensues. Bob Wilton winds up going to Iraq to prove to his unfaithful wife he can be great. He encounters George Clooney’s Lynn Cassady. Cassady is a strange fellow from the get go. George Clooney does what he does best, delivering lines like, “I’m cloud-bursting, keeps me in shape” with such dryness you get the feeling he says shit like that every day.

The Men Who Stare At Goats is an odd film. It meanders from scene to scene with a lot of funny events here and there but never coalesces into something truly memorable. Part of the problem may lie in the decision to tell the viewer about the formation of the New Earth Army in flashbacks that don’t integrate into the “present-day” timeline of the plot very well. Part of the problem may be the fact that the film just is trying too hard to be eccentric. Who really knows. The film is still enjoyable. I imagine this will be a cult film rather than a mainstream success. It’s structure is too out of the ordinary to be anything else. I enjoyed the film but it was definitely… off somehow. That’s all I can say on the topic.

I hold this work to be original thought. If I have used copyrighted material please email me. I will bring it down immediately. I merely mean for this blog to be a means to discuss and dissect my favorite things.