American Outlaws (2001)

Since I asked for requests for movies to review, I feared this moment. That moment is the time when a friend would ask me to review a movie that they love and then I watch it to find it completely mediocre. Oh well, my integrity is worth too much to hold back. Today’s movie review is of the movie American Outlaws, starring Colin Farrell, Scott Caan, Ali Larter, Kathy Bates, and Timothy Dalton.

This movie starts with the James Brothers, Frank (Gabriel Macht) and Jesse (Colin Farrell), entrenched in the Civil War with Cole Younger (Scott Caan) and others. Well they have their backs against the wall but, worry not, Jesse James is a super hero. With his expert marksman brother Frank taking out people, Jesse rides around like a madman cycling through the 6 revolvers he has strapped to him and just takes out a giant portion of the North with their rag-tag gang of about 6 dudes. Then they find out that General Lee has surrendered at Appomattox and the war is over. Relieved, they go back home to their ranch. But alas, all is not well on the home front. The corrupt railroad people along with Allan Pinkerton (Timothy Dalton) are trying to force their people off their land, but the James Brothers will have none of it and run the people off. Cole was not so lucky, killing 2 deputies and getting arrested. But SuperJesse and his untouchable gang rescue him. The railroad retaliates by blowing up their houses and killing Momma James (Kathy Bates). The James’ and the Youngers form a gang and rob all the banks holding the railroad’s money. Then other stuff happens. The end.

Now, I like a good western. I can even tolerate a chick-flick if it’s good enough. But apparently the odd combination of the two doesn’t strike me very well, and that’s what this movie went with. It has all the classic western moments, then makes them a little silly and a lot over-the-top, and throws a love story with Ali Larter in there. An action movie allows for a certain degree of weak story and impossible situations for their hero, but this movie takes it a little too far. Take, for instance, when about 50 guys have the gang trapped in a bank, Jesse gets his 2 pals behind a table, jumps up with his dual six-shooters, rolls over a table while firing and seemingly not missing once, then diving through glass, leaving only about 3 enemies standing, seemingly wondering to themselves “How the hell did that just happen?” Then Jesse jumps through a window, grabs dynamite from his horse’s saddle, dives back in, and then proceeds to blow his way through the walls of the buildings and very quickly placing the dynamite so that a bunch of overly lucky explosions take out almost all of the enemy and they ride out of town, unscathed but for the unimportant character that gets shot on the way out.

And now for a couple of specific problems. I never felt the need to see Colin Farrell and Scott Caan mud wrestle. I’m not sure that any proposal to a woman you want to marry should first make her depressed because you’re acting like you’ve fallen in love with someone else but then “SURPRISE! It was you I was talking about! Thank God I threw that out there before you opened your veins, right?” Also, Jesse is such the Superman that they forgot by the time he went shirtless swimming with Ali Larter (him shirtless, not her) that he should probably have a scar on his shoulder from when he was almost mortally wounded earlier in the movie.

Basically, this movie is not for me. I like a good western, one that is gritty and awesome and realistic. Take a look at your Tombstones or your True Gritses. And if you’re so desperate for it to be all about Jesse James, you could probably see the movie that this movie tried to swagger jack (Young Guns) or a movie better than both of those, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. If you’d rather see Superman in the west with a touch of chick-flick, this is your movie. But it’s not mine. All in all, I give it a total and complete “meh” out of 2.

Brink (2011)

Having just completed both campaigns of the game, I am finally ready to talk about Brink, brought to you by Splash Damage and Bethesda Softworks. This game received resoundingly mediocre reviews when it came out so I was hesitant to give it a try, but I’m a Independent Reviewer now, so it is my quasi-job.

Okay, there is not much story to speak of in this game, and I was usually watching something else simultaneously as I played so I’m not sure how much I can recall, so here goes. When playing as the Security team, your goal is to stop the Resistance from destroying the Ark, a giant tower that was created before a flood sunk most of the surrounding city, causing it to come under pretty harsh government control. Through about 6 missions, you foil various Resistance plots to destroy the Ark. The end. As a Resistance member, your goal is to escape the Ark. Take what I just said, then go the opposite way. The end.

Okay, so this game was never really intended to be Bioshock, it’s supposed to be a game of stylish action and great multiplayer, or at least that’s what it’s incredibly awesome trailer lead me to believe. So let’s see how it does in gameplay. For some reason it seemed to me like this game was calling itself innovative for taking the world of the first-person shooter and mixing it with the internet sensation known as Parkour, or Free-Running. Apparently that means that the world forgot about Mirror’s Edge (which may be true, because I had to look up the title even though I bought the game and may still own it). Mirror’s Edge was innovative, pretty, and forgettable. Being that they gave no attention to the story, one could assume that the shooting mechanics and parkour got all of it. Not the case, I’m afraid. I found the game hard to aim and the auto-aim help tended to do more harm than good. Being so accustomed to FPS games, I completely forgot that I had the ability to do parkour in this game and, when I remembered, it functioned poorly, creating many occasions of jumping into a wall for a few seconds before it finally realized I was trying to reach that ledge. On flat surfaces, when only trying to jump over boxes and counters, it worked okay.

Graphically, the game is styled in parts and ugly in the rest. The opening movie is quite nice, where they have a Gumby-esque stop motion animation-looking video to tell what little prologue there is to this game. After that, the character customization was decent and the character looked good in it. I was able to create 2 pretty sweet looking characters (one for Security and one for Resistance) in not much time. Then you start the game, where some of the background looks nice, but the characters are fairly pixelated and ugly looking. And when you have the honor of watching one of them attempt parkour, the animation is robotic and unrealistic.

The AI is quite possibly the worst part of the game. I didn’t play any of the missions online because I only tried once and nobody was playing to enter my game. I assume the game is fairly unpopular. So when I played the game with bots as both friendly and enemy was where the problems arose. All of the AI in the game borders on retarded (I’d say no offense, but I’ve weighed the probability that someone who is retarded is reading this and feel I’m pretty safe). The enemy AI does not seem to realize you are there until you’ve shot them down to about half health, and then they don’t do very much anyway. This would make the game completely easy if it wasn’t a team based game and your friendly AI is equally retarded. More than once did an occasion arise where I was not the proper choice of the 4 classes to complete the objective, but the proper choice was nearby and completely uninterested in finishing the mission. They were more interested in capturing semi-irrelevant command centers than winning the game.

So basically, the game is what you may have read about in the other reviews. It’s not horrible, but it’s not good. It’s not worth paying more than, say, 20 or 30 dollars for. If you want, you can rent it and easily farm about 600 achievements out of the game in a day or two, but the other ones will probably take more than you’re willing to invest in the game. It was certainly more than I was willing to invest, and I’m an achievement whore! So that’s my review. I give my review a 4 out of 5. I had more in me.

Yogi Bear (2010)

I kept putting it off and putting it off.  Almost every time I went to a RedBox I’d see it, but lacked the courage to rent it.  Today I decided I would nut up and rent … Yogi Bear.  That’s right, I watched it!  Yogi Bear features the voices of Dan Aykroyd as Yogi and Justin Timberlake as Boo-Boo, as well as the live-action performances of Anna Faris, Tom Cavanagh (who I know as JD’s brother from Scrubs), TJ Miller, and Andrew Daly.

Yogi Bear is the story of a bear, named Yogi.  He loves to steal pic-a-nic baskets.  He has a tiny friend named Boo-Boo and a pair of park rangers (Cavanagh and Miller) that constantly have to try to stop him from ruining the serenity of the park campers.  Then Rachel, a documentarian and animal lover, comes to Jellystone to shoot a documentary about Yogi and Boo-Boo by putting a camera in Boo-Boo’s bow tie (does anyone else predict that paying off in some way at the end of the movie?)  Ranger Smith (Cavanagh) and Rachel (Faris) then start falling for each other, Ranger Jones (Miller) feels like he’s paid his dues enough as assistant park ranger and is time for his promotion, and a corrupt mayor (Daly) takes advantage of that so that he can get rid of Smith, sell the park, and take the city out of the debt that he’s created.  Can Yogi save the day?!  …Yeah, of course.

Okay, the most surprising thing I can say to you about this movie right now is: … I didn’t think it was that bad.  Yeah, I said it.  I probably just lost a whole bunch of readers now, I guess, but I can’t tell you a lie, people.  But what I mean by I like it is not that I think you should all go out and rent it and watch it by yourself, I mean if your kid drags you to it, it’s not that bad.  Maybe this is just because I watched Alpha and Omega a little while ago, but this movie far surpassed my abysmal expectations to arrive somewhere around a mediocre movie.  There are actually a few solid chuckles to this movie.

I do have cast problems here though.  The first one has been something I’ve been going mad about for a while now.  What is the point in casting a famous actor for a voice acting role, especially if you’re going to have them sound nothing like themselves?  The point of a Justin Timberlake or a Brad Pitt (as heard in Megamind) isn’t really their voice, but their look.  So if you have them do a voice, it should at least be their own voice so people can say “Oh it’s JT!”  JT does a great job with Boo-Boo’s voice (as best I can remember), but they could have paid a whole lot less for some random voice talent.  And while we’re on the subject, I don’t remember if Yogi’s voice was always like it was in the movie, but it was really grating here.  I see a little news bulletin on Rotten Tomatoes that says they’re setting up for a Yogi 2: Electric Boogaloo, and if they go with Aykroyd again, he should reel it in a little.  As for the live-action cast: no complaints.  I love Anna Faris for reasons I don’t even comprehend, Cavanagh and Miller both do good jobs, and Andrew Daly is probably the redemption of the movie for me personified.  The biggest problem with the cast is; why didn’t I hear about any of them?  I had heard about Aykroyd and Timberlake from outside sources, and seeing Faris in the movie completely caught me off guard.  What’s the point in advertising for the movie if you’re not going to mention people that might drive people into the theaters?

And the worst part about this movie is the ending.  Not that the one they went with was the worst thing ever, but why did they not go with the much better, alternate ending that I saw on YouTube?  I would’ve howling loved this movie if they had ended it with the Assassination of Yogi Bear by the coward Boo-Boo ending, though you may have turned off parents and children.  Sometimes you just gotta do the unconventional thing though, Yogi.  That’s how art is made.  So, with the much less awesome ending they went with, I give this movie a “You may not hate it if your kids drag you to it” out of Apples.

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011)

Not to spoil the end of my review or anything, but I have been having very bad luck with my movies lately. …Oh who am I kidding? I pick these movies! Today it was Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, starring Brandon Routh, Sam Huntington, and Taye Diggs.

Coming forth from the bowels of the idea that every comic book needs to be made into a movie, someone decided they needed to buy up the rights to an Italian comic book, throw in Superman, and make that a movie. And it claims to be based on one of the world’s most popular comic books. Yeah? Well I’m a nerd and I hadn’t heard of it before this movie. So suck it! Let’s see what I can make out of the plot here … Okay, so Dylan is a private investigator of some sort with Sam Huntington as a partner. He gets called in to investigate the death of some old guy by his hot ass granddaughter, turns out it’s paranormal in nature and Dylan used to be some kind of paranormal cop that kept werewolves, vampires, and zombies in line, but Dylan don’t do that no more! Then his partner gets killed and he changes his mind. First he’s all Team Edward, taking the side of the vamps and accusing the werewolves because he found one of their hairs. Then he finds the dead werewolf and he’s like “Howl that, this must’ve been the vamps!” and he switches to Team Jacob (and who wouldn’t, look at those abs!) Then he realizes that it was actually a giant zombie vampire or some junk and he realizes his partner has turned into a zombie. But he’ll manage with it and still hangs out for the rest of the movie, trying to come to grips with his zombiness. Turns out the vampires are looking for this cross called the Heart of Belial or something to make a vampire that will help them take over the world. Then add some unsurprising twists and end the movie.

The story here? Eh, not real good. Dylan ends up going back and forth between Team Edward and Team Jacob and Team … Romero? … and it ends up being a kind of confusing mess of a story. In the end it turns out (SPOILER) that the girl he crushes on is a monster hunter who, for some reason, wants to make that Belial thing. I think it was to kill all the monsters, but then who would kill the super powerful vampire? She doesn’t think that far ahead, I guess. (END SPOILER) The minor part of the story is actually what interested me more, and that was Huntington’s problems dealing with turning into a zombie. He couldn’t stomach normal food but, apparently in THIS movie’s idea of a zombie, needed to eat maggots and worms, which he refuses to do for most of the movie. In this movie, zombies eat bugs to contain their hunger for human flesh, which I’ve never seen in a zombie movie before, and I’ve seen a LOT of zombie movies. Ones most of you haven’t even heard of!

As for the acting: mostly not bad, actually. Routh is pretty good as the wisecracking Dylan, Huntington plays his character like a slightly more annoying version of Shia LeBoeuf in Constantine, and Taye Diggs does pretty good. The romantic lead was underwhelming though. And Peter Stormare (whose name you may not recognize, but Google it, you know him) way over does it as the lead werewolf, but that’s kinda Stormare’s thing. A really bad decision they made, that other movies have made as well, is in casting a former WWE-now-TNA wrestler named Kurt Angle, who really should not act, as with the greater majority of wrestlers. I, thus far, can only support The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and John Cena. IN THEORY! They’ve done their share of shit too.

And the makeup/prosthetic work in this movie is abysmal! They’re roughly on par with the TV show Buffy, which I mean as no insult to the TV show. Buffy did what it could with a TV budget; this movie has no excuse. The giant vampire zombie guy looks like Baraka from Mortal Kombat, and Belial at the end looks like a black Tim Curry from the Legend who either put on some weight or just has child-bearing hips I hadn’t noticed before.

Overall, I can’t say that I agree with Rotten Tomatoes 6% on this, but it’s not much better than that. I give it “I wouldn’t bother” out of 28.

Dante’s Inferno (2010)

I took my sweet time getting to it, but I have finally gotten around to playing 2010’s Dante’s Inferno, brought to you by Visceral Games. I would say that I was interested in playing the game when it first came out, and I had played the demo and it seemed solid, but I never really trusted it enough to pay for it at any price I saw it at. So I hit it up on GameFly and, when I finally found my lost GameFly games and sent them back, I got Dante’s Inferno in. So let’s take us a nice little trip to Hell, shall we?

Dante’s Inferno is very loosely based on the first part of Dante Alighieri’s epic poem from the 14th-century called the Divine Comedy. I can only assume they’re working on Dante’s Purgatorio and Dante’s Paradiso, though I don’t know how they’ll make an action game out of a poem set in Heaven. This game follows Dante (a poet in the poem, a crusader in the game) who fights Death himself and wins, taking his scythe (one can only assume he got a new on by the time he ran into Bill & Ted). He leaves the Crusades to go home to his wife Beatrice (who is not his wife in the poem), just to find some guy went to his house, ripped her shirt just enough to get her titty out, then stabbed her. Then it turns out she made a deal with Lucifer that Dante would be faithful to her (and he wasn’t) so she goes to Hell. Dante decides that there are, in fact, no more fish in the sea, so he goes after her. In Hell, he meets his ghostly guide Virgil (who was, in fact, his guide in the Divine Comedy) and starts descending the 9 circles of Hell to whoop on that Lucifer and get his lady-bitch back.

Anyone who has played both this game and the classic PS3 games God of War will say to themselves “Wait, isn’t this God of War?” No, it’s not, but it’s exactly like God of War in many ways. The controls of this 3rd person hack-and-slash is like what would happen if Kratos picked up a scythe and a cross instead of swords on chains. Another big thing in this game is the GOW-esque timed button press events. I don’t mind the timed button press things in the game, but I did wish the ones in Dante were a little more forgiving. I have a short attention span, especially when your game isn’t exactly riveting, and there were a few times when I got my butt kicked for not paying attention during these moments (which, granted, may be my fault a little). Also, I don’t like the “mash B button” parts, if for no reason other than I’m pretty sure games that require you to mash a button are the cause of many spent controllers, their poor B button beaten down until it could no longer perform it’s function. I wanna make a sappy commercial with Sarah McLachlan music playing and scenes of defeated controllers, asking you to help. And I don’t like that, with some of them, losing the button event meant instant death. Howl you, game! Be better and I’ll focus. Another gameplay problem is the checkpoint system, which would occasionally save you with next to no health and no options for replenishing it and then throw you into a big battle. So you would inevitably die a few times and THEN it would give you a little extra health to help you out. It only really became a problem for me earlier in the game, but it was annoying.

Also, I get the feeling that this game was trying a little too hard to be “edgy” or something. Much like it’s illegitimate father, God of War, the game’s story could not be told without the appearance of random, unnecessary titties. Which is fine for a little bit, but this game (and I never thought it could happen) kind of made me sick of titties. I’d be willing to wager that every cinematic in the game has titties in it for no reason. I’d allow it when they were in the Lust circle of Hell, but EVERYWHERE? Beatrice is scarcely in this game without at least one titty out. And the boss of Lust, Cleopatra, is always lettin the titties fly AND baby demons actually come out of her nipples. I’m guessing there’s a certain game developer who never had “the talk” with his parents and don’t know how babies work. The more forgivable version of this is the minor demons in Lust that are quasi-naked chicks that attack you with their stomach wangs. …You heard me! And when you’re in Gluttony, you fight a big fatty fat fat who tries to vomit on you as an attack. Naturally, I reacted by getting behind Fatty FatFat so as to avoid his vomit. His reaction? He shat upon me. …High brow stuff there. Also, in the beginning of the game, Dante decides for some reason to sew a tapestry red cross onto his chest. I assume this made him a badass in the developers mind, but I didn’t get how it fit his character. I think your body is supposed to be a temple for God, and I don’t think Jesus wants you to do that. And what do you think your wife will say when you go home with that? That shit looks infected. It’s a good thing you’re dead, Dante, or you’d have some serious itching going on right now.

Now, I make a lot out of the bad parts of things because, let’s face it, it’s funnier to rag on crap than talk about the good. But there are plenty of good things to this game as well. There are a couple of puzzles in the game (just like God of War, in case you’re noticing a theme) that, though usually easy, are creative. In Gluttony, you walk into what appears to be the door from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (the one Sirius Black falls into) and walk into a 3d realm inspired by the famous MC Escher painting that I believe is called “Crazy Stairs”. When it comes to the story, it’s very solid. Does it have very much in common with it’s namesake? Nah, not really. But who cares? This game didn’t claim to be a video game port of the poem, that’s just the inspiration. And if nothing else, this game actually inspired me (and probably others) to actually read about the Divine Comedy. Not to actually read the Divine Comedy itself, but it’s Wikipedia. Give me a break, I don’t read!

So, my final assessment of this game is: If you like God of War, or own a X-box and cannot play God of War, and don’t mind a slight step down in quality, this game has story enough to deal with it’s derivative, swagger-jack of a gameplay situation. So buy it if it’s cheap, or rent it. I got through it in about 2 days. So I give this game a 4 out of Yes. …DAMNIT! I went the wrong way. I’m narrowing in on this, I tell you!

Aeon Flux (2005)

I do have some movies from both RedBox and Netflix to review for you guys, but I decided to go with a movie from my collection because a nap went long and I needed a short movie.  The one I chose?  Aeon Flux, starring Charlize Theron, Marton Csokas, and Sophie Okonedo (who I remember as the horny chiefs daughter from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls).  Why did I choose this movie?  I have no howling idea.

Aeon Flux is a movie made about from a strangely popular cartoon that I think I used to watch on MTV back in the day.  And the movie seems to have captured the essence of that cartoon because, just like with the cartoon, it’s very stylized, very confusing, and I’m always waiting to see boobs but inevitably going to get disappointed.  From what little information I was able to gleam from the movie, here’s my best attempt at the plot.  Aeon Flux (Theron) is a top assassin for a group of anarchists trying to bring down a corrupt government.  She is also really hot.  She first needs to take out their surveillance and, while doing so, she finds that the government has ordered the murder of her sister because they overheard the two of them talking about the mission.  Why they didn’t instead stop Aeon from completing the mission and instead choose to piss off the top assassin by killing her sister, your guess is as good as mine.  So her next mission is to give her an opportunity for revenge.  She is to kill the head of the government, Trevor Goodchild (Csokas), because he is, in fact, a very badchild.  She gets through the strange security system (of coconuts that shoot darts and razor blade grass) along with her monkey-footed companion, Sithandra (Okonedo).  Sithandra has had hands put on in place of her feet, much like a monkey, which to me seems like a bit of a racist thing for someone to do with a black actress.  Aeon reaches Goodchild and finds that she can’t kill him.  She’s captured, she escapes, then she meets up with and sexes up Goodchild because it turns out she’s a clone of his wife, and in fact everyone in this world is cloned because they can’t have babies anymore.  And then Oren Verybadchild, Goodchild’s brother, is apparently trying to keep it that way by killing anyone who can have a baby so he can be the big boss man.  Then Aeon has to stop it.

Aeon Flux is a fairly pretty movie to look at.  Beyond the obvious “Charlize Theron in skimpy and/or skin tight clothes”, the setting and costumes are stylish and often colorful.  The story itself, when you can understand it, is typical and predictable, but not necessarily bad.  The action is okay, no real complaints but far from mind-blowing.  It’s mainly a lot of Charlize Theron wrapping her legs around people’s heads and then breaking their necks, which I have always maintained is EXACTLY the way I want to go.  And … uh … let’s see, other good things … okay, that’s all I had.

My first question, which is a take away from the old cartoon, even if you were such a badass that you could catch a fly with your eyelash, would you ever want to?  No thank you, Aeon.  Now, being really quiet and robotic is the kind of performance this movie calls for, but I would certainly recommend doing it in a way that is still interesting.  I can’t presently think of anyone who has pulled off turning a wooden performance interesting, but I’m sure it’s possible.  …Hugo Weaving!  That’s one.  When he was the agent in the Matrix, and to a lesser extent Elrond in Lord of the Rings, it was a quiet, emotionless performance (not because of Weaving, but because that’s what the part called for) and yet he was interesting.  Perhaps you just can’t make the lead the emotionless one.  And this was the next big movie for Theron since winning the Oscar for Monster.  So either she wanted a rest from all that acting in Monster so she could take it easy with Aeon, or she just wanted to show people “Look, I’m hot again”.  I’ve already said that the story is confusing and the action is meh at best, so I won’t harp on that further.  I’m not sure what I went into this movie thinking I was in store for.  I vaguely remember the MTV cartoon, but I never understood it and I’m pretty sure all I was watching it for was because it always seemed like there was some howling about to happen, if you know what I’m saying.  I’m sure there’s a lot of people more nerdy than I that loved the cartoon, but it wasn’t for me.  Neither was it’s significantly worse movie.

Aeon Flux: Go ahead and skip it, unless you just need noise in the background and just want to look over at some hot Charlize every now and then.  But I’d say get Hancock for that.  It’s much better.  …out of 822.  That’s how many words I had typed!

Alpha and Omega (2010)

Today RedBox supplied me with an animated movie from last year known as Alpha and Omega, with the voices of Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Danny Glover, Dennis Hopper, and Christina Ricci. If I remember correctly, I believe I first became mildly interested in this movie after seeing that Panettiere and Ricci were in it, and they are hot, and they played those little interview videos with them and showed clips of the movie at Best Buy and piqued my interest. I never really got around to looking for it in theaters or on DVD, but I found it while browzing the RedBox and decided to give it a go.

Alpha and Omega is the story of two wolves (one an alpha, the other an omega … isn’t that wacky?!) who grew up together until one of them went off to train to be an alpha. Before this gets any more confusing than it deserves, in this movie an alpha is one of the top hunters and an omega is … not. Kate (Panettiere) is the alpha and Humphrey (Long) is the omega. So they quickly grow up and Humphrey is a wacky, goofy slacker, and Kate is a straight-laced hunter. Quite the original combination, I know. Anyways, Kate is the daughter of the leader of the western pack of wolves (Glover), who forms a contract with the leader of the eastern pack (Hopper) in times of low food. The contract is that Glover’s daughter, Kate, will marry Hopper’s son and combine and lead the two packs. It’s probably not too much of a surprise at this point, but Humphrey also loves Kate. Kate and the eastern pack … prince, I guess, (named Garth) are supposed to meet up at some moon-howling party. This basically entails that the wolves get up on a mountain and howl together, and howling is either the wolf version of a date or straight up fuckin. Well Garth is no good at howling and that turns Kate off. She wants a wolf with a long, hard howl, and Garth’s is weak and unsatisfying. So Kate wanders off and bumps into Humphrey and they fight about something before they are both shot with tranquilizers by humans and taken to Idaho to get their howl on and repopulate the wolf population down there.

Back in Canada, the wolf packs get to arguing and threatening with war now that Kate’s disappeared and it’s determined that, if Kate doesn’t get back in a few days, they are going to howl up the rest of the wolves. Kate sets on her way back to Canada and Humphrey follows. Back in Canada, Garth starts falling for Lilly (Ricci), Kate’s younger sister. He probably doesn’t howl the shit out of her out of respect for her sister. And Kate and Humphrey go through all sorts of shenanigans and goings-ons on their way back home. Will the two ever fall in love? Tune in to find out … or don’t, this movie sucked.

There were MANY problems with this movie. The first one is that the commercials they put on the screens at Best Buy must have been the ONLY decent animation in the entire movie. The backgrounds are colorful and pretty, but the character animations are stiff, unrealistic, and ugly. This could be forgivable with a quality story or a laugh or two … and someone should have told them that. The story is what Romeo and Juliet would be if Shakespeare was retarded. And the characters seem to attempt to be funny only to fail drastically. I did not laugh or even crack a smile through this entire movie. Something about the movie pretty much shut me down in the first 15 minutes and never got me back. The movie even managed to drain any and all funny out of the usually hilarious Larry Miller, who plays a bald turkey or something that helps the two wolves return home. The howling scenes, which as I said are either innuendo for fucking or, in some occasions, are quasi-musical numbers with little to no words and just random howls instead. These are completely cringe inducing. Cringe or bash-your-head-against-things inducing. And the logical errors cannot be forgiven! There is a scene where the turkey bird (or whatever Larry Miller’s bird was supposed to be) is dragging Humphrey (the adult wolf!) behind him and eventually takes flight with the wolf hanging from his feet. If a ambiguous turkey bird had that kind of wing strength, I think that could be a solid defense mechanism and then it may be a little too difficult to eat Larry Miller for Thanksgiving. Also, there’s a scene that would make my gun-crazy friend Mike punch himself in the dick, as a missed shot from a shotgun aimed at the two wolves misses and tears a wolf-sized hole in the chain link fence.

Okay, I know what some of you may be saying: “Obviously this movie was meant for kids and not for you”, and there was a time when this would be an acceptable excuse. But I think nowadays Pixar has set that bar a little higher than that, where a movie can be both enthralling to children and entertaining to their parents as well. And don’t insult your children with this movie, they’re smart enough for Pixar. Watch you some Wall-E. That shit is howling awesome.

Also, I feel that I should take it down a notch and say that this was far from the worst movie ever, there’s just no reason to see it. That’s why I give it a “skip it” out of 22 1/2.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (2009)

I didn’t have time to catch a movie today so I decided I should review a game. I haven’t played this particular game in some time now so I hope I can remember it well enough to say something about it. The game I’m referring to, as you’ve probably seen in the title and picture to the right, is Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, from developer Naughty Dog.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is the story of Nathan “Nate” Drake, a sarcastic but loveable treasure hunter and descendant of explorer Sir Francis Drake (like if Indiana Jones and Lara Croft got buck nasty and had a kid). The game begins in the middle, finding Nate waking up on a train covered in blood. When a bag flies past him, he realizes the train is also perpendicular to the ground and hanging off a cliff. While making his way back to more sturdy footing, we catch glimpses (through flashbacks) of how he got into his current predicament. An old friend of his, Harry Flynn, and an ex girlfriend/femme fetale Chloe Frazer come to Nate and talk him into stealing a Mongolian lamp from a museum, which Nate only agrees to because it may lead to Marco Polo’s lost fleet. By stealthily making their way through the museum, they find the lamp with a map and some blue rocks in them whose light allows the map to be seen. Then Flynn betrays Nate and he gets arrested.

Chloe and Drake’s friend Victor “Sully” Sullivan pay his bail and get him released. Nate is then informed that Flynn is working for a crazy war criminal name Zoran Lazarevic, and are currently looking for a tomb in order to find a mythical rock called the Cintamani Stone, said to reside in Shambhala. They reach the tomb first, find a Tibetan phurba (like the dagger from The Shadow) and beat cheeks to escape Zoran, but Sully gets captured. Now in Nepal, they are all looking for a temple that shows the location for Shambhala and Nate and Chloe come across Nate’s previous girlfriend and costar of Uncharted 1, reporter Elena Fisher, and her cameraman. AWKWARD! The rest of the game has Nate, Chloe, and Elana racing against Zoran and Flynn to be the first to reach Shambhala and the Cintamani Stone.

If I could review this game in only one word, it would be “yes”. Oh wait, that doesn’t really make sense. This game is freakin’ fantastico to the mucho. The game is a mixture of third-person shooter with platforming action-adventure and a little bit of hand-to-hand fighting game mixed in there. There is no part of this game that isn’t awesome as far as I’m concerned. In fact, I have been overheard calling this game quite possibly my favorite game of all time, but hands down the best game of 2009. The story is gripping and involving, the controls are well executed (though on occasion the wall crawling could get frustrating, if memory serves), the characters are all rich with personality and back story as well as being spectacularly performed in both voice and animation, and the way the CGI movies flow right in to the player-controlled action is seamless and refuses to take the player out of the action for long. I love this game so much, I actually beat it 4 times and was never bored. If not for the fact that the 3rd one comes out in a matter of months, I would say it is likely I would beat it again.

I would say (if for nothing more than the back story of Nate and Elena) the first Uncharted should be played before hopping into this one, though it’s probably not necessary. Uncharted 2 is leaps and bounds from Uncharted 1, and Uncharted 1 was a solid outing in itself. And since both of these games are Greatest Hits titles on the PS3, I don’t feel like you really have any reason NOT to get them both beyond “I already have/had them” and “I don’t own a PS3”.

There is multiplayer in this game as well, but I can’t talk much about it as I only played it for about an hour, and that was about a year ago. My roommate, however, loves it and still plays it to this day. From what I can tell, it’s mainly just a third-person, team based deathmatch for the most part, with a couple of mission-based co-op options to it as well. I’ve also seen a good deal of great character skins in the multiplayer, the only ones coming to mind are Cole and Zeke from Infamous. So I’ve been informed by a reliable source that it’s worth playing the multiplayer, but I’m more of a single player person myself. And who cares about the multiplayer? The single player is worth it by itself.

I can only hope that, by this point in the review, I wouldn’t really need to give a number rating or something for this game. I give Uncharted 2 a “Why the hell haven’t you played this yet?” out of 126,633, which is 120% if you don’t know how to turn words and unrelated numbers into a percentage.

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

I have not often seen a movie as polarizing amongst the people I know as Hot Tub Time Machine, starring John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke.  I know probably equal parts people who thought it was stupid and people who thought it was hilarious.  Lets find out what I think.  Join me, won’t you?

Hot Tub Time Machine is the story of 3 friends who have grown apart in their adult life.  Craig Robinson is a former musician that now picks BMW keys out of dogs asses for Lt. Jim Dangle.  John Cusack has just been dumped by his girlfriend and has his nephew, Clark Duke, living in his basement and pretty much refusing to interact with the rest of humanity except via Second Life.  And Rob Corddry is so into Motley Crue that he forgets to turn off his car while in his garage because the jams on “Home Sweet Home” is just too fine.  Needless to say to the learned peoples of the world, but when you are in a closed garage and your car is not only idling, but is also revving up in tune with the Crue, you mayhaps will die.  So Robinson and Cusack get called in to the hospital because of Corddry’s “attempted suicide” and, to cheer him up, they decide to take a little slice out of their younger years and go up to Kodiak Valley, where the 3 used to tear it up in the 80’s.  Dragging Duke along, much to the chagrin of Corddry, the 4 head up to Kodiak Valley just to find that it has fallen upon hard times, most of their favorite joints have closed and their hotel is host to old people.  Desperate for entertainment and drawn in by the Pulp Fiction-esque glowing light from the Hot Tub, they take to their birthday suits and jump in, getting completely sloshed and knocking over their Chernobyl energy drink into the controls.  They wake up in the morning, go skiing, and soon find out that they are somehow back in 1986.  The 4 now have to decide if they want to avoid screwing up the time space continuum and do exactly what they did when they were there in ’86, or fix what went wrong and risk making Hitler president.

It is something that I have talked about before, but I think this movie is probably the best example of my problem with how people view comedies.  I heard a lot of people talking about this movie and how ridiculous the premise was for this movie and so they couldn’t get into it.  Are you kidding me?  Again, it’s just what they need to have something of a story while they make the funny happen.  Who cares how something makes you laugh, just let it do it.  And it’s not like this movie isn’t fully aware of how ridiculous it is.  One of my favorite moments of the movie, which is also in the trailers for it, is when Craig Robinson figures out what happens and actually says the name of the movie and looks directly straight-faced at the camera, basically saying “Fuck you, this is happening”.  I love that.  Own your ridiculousness.  Also, the story is something many people can relate to.  Probably everyone in the world that’s less than pleased with their life wish they had the opportunity to jump back in time at a crucial moment, if even for just a day, and possibly set your life on a better path.

The cast is great in this movie.  John Cusack is mostly the straight man and does have to seemingly try very hard to match his comedic giant costars.  Craig Robinson is often one of the best parts of anything I’ve seen him in.  Rob Corddry is such an over the top asshole, but you still feel really bad for him at many times.  Clark Duke reminds me a lot of Jonah Hill in this roll and he just seems to hang out and throw awesome comments from the background.  Besides the main cast, Chevy Chase is fantastic as the cryptic possibly-supernatural person disguised as the hot tub repair man who refuses to say that it’s a time machine but has to give his exposition … and also seems to think Clark Duke is a woman.  Crispen Glover also has a small part in this movie as a bellhop, and it’s possibly his least strange and most tolerable performance ever.  Lizzy Caplan is here too, and she’s cute and all, but doesn’t make much impact.

So I’m not sure if the haters walked into this movie expecting a work of art, like Schindler’s List with a hot tub, or if the jokes were just not their bag, but they were mine.  I likes me a good laugh movie, especially if it seems mostly improved.  I digs it.  I says “Rent it, then buy it if you’re one of the people that likes it” out of 37 billion.

Happy Gilmore (1996)

Today’s review was requested by my friend Scott (who spends more time in the sand than David Hasselhoff). That movie is one of Adam Sandler’s best comic offerings, Happy Gilmore (starring Adam Sandler, Christopher McDonald, Julie Bowen, Frances Bay, and Apollo Creed himself, Carl Weathers). People have claimed that this movie is the poor man’s Caddyshack, but I didn’t grow up with Caddyshack, I grew up with Happy Gilmore.

Happy Gilmore is the story of a hot-tempered hockey player wannabee named Happy Gilmore (Sandler, of course). He sucks out loud at almost every aspect of playing hockey, saved only by his ability to whoop on ass and his amazingly powerful (if not accurate) shot. Soon after the beginning of the movie, Gilmore’s girlfriend ditches him because he’s a loser, leaving him the only source of happiness in his life, his grandmother (Bay). But disaster strikes when it comes to Gilmore’s attention that his grandmother has neglected to pay taxes in quite some time, leading to her losing her house. Gilmore’s only hope of helping out his beloved grandmother is to make the money to pay for the house. He’s forced to leave his grandmother in the care of Ben Stiller (an abusive orderly at the nursing home). While the moving people are taking a break, Sandler makes a bet with them to get them back to work that he can best Will Sasso’s golf drive. Turns out Gilmore’s ability to smack a puck translates into a roughly 450 yard drive, much to the chagrin of the people at the bottom of his street. Gilmore, being a somewhat slow witted individual, jumps to his first idea, placing bets on the length of his drive at a golf range. Chubs (Weathers), a retired golf pro sans one hand, convinces him to get into professional golf to make the big moneys. Here he meets his soon to be girlfriend (Bowen) and his nemesis, Shooter McGavin (McDonald). The rest of the movie follows Gilmore as he tries to learn golf, save his grandmothers house, and take out his McGavin.

This movie was fairly poorly reviewed on Rotten Tomatoes, getting a measly 59%, but I reserve a special place in my heart for it. Now, I don’t believe it to be a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination, and I could never possibly enjoy it as much as my friend Scott, but I am quite fond of it. There are many hilarious parts to this movie (Gilmore getting his ass handed to him by Bob Barker, for the win!). Being a Sandler movie, there are of course numerous SNL and non-SNL cameos, including the aforementioned Ben Stiller and Will Sasso, as well as Robert Smigel and Kevin Nealon. Kevin Nealon, upon rewatching, plays what I assume is his same character from Grandma’s Boy who apparently golfs in his off time. And I would have to say that Christopher McDonald as Shooter McGavin may be one of the best asshole antagonists ever, at least in a comedy. He is so over the top with it that you hope that no one that is this big of a prick would ever exist in real life. If McDonald was the sweetest, nicest guy ever in real life, I would still have a strong urge to punch him in the face. Which I think is a compliment at how well the man plays a prick.

As I said, this isn’t a perfect movie, so there’s negative to be said about this movie. The most obvious one being the premise of the movie. It’s certainly a far-fetched and overused premise in movies that whenever life finds you in need of money, life will present you with a strange over the top opportunity to make the money you need. The positive that can be said about this is “Who cares?” I’ve always felt that this should be taken into account more with comedies. When you think of movies like Hot Tub Time Machine and, to a lesser extent, the Hangover, the premise of the movie is usually pretty far fetched. But these premises are simply a way to get to a point where they can tell the hilarious jokes that they want to, so let it go. Let the movie entertain you and just shut your brain off for a bit and enjoy. Also, I want to say that they could’ve picked a hotter love interest, but that’s not what I’m thinking. Perhaps I just mean they could have picked a better hair style. I mean, I know Bowen was going for a business professional and all, but she’s got dike-hair.

I actually wish this movie was worse so that I could say “I eat pieces of shit like this movie for breakfast”, but I can’t say that. You should’ve seen this movie by now, but if you haven’t you should check it out, though you’ll probably not enjoy it as much as you would have when your sense of humor was less discerning in your youth. This movie is the reason that I love Subway so much, and the reason I lost my virginity to an elderly Asian woman. So watch this movie, and now I’m gonna go to Sizzler, get some grub.