Prototype 2 (2012)


Just Like All Diseases, It Starts With a Little Man-on-Man.

I have a vague recollection of playing the first game in this series, but I’m pretty sure I got really bored halfway through and stopped playing.  I remember not being particularly impressed with the story and, more often than not, frustrated by the controls, so I just decided it wasn’t worth it.  When they made a sequel to that game, I noted its existence but never felt any more interested in playing it than that.  When my coworker Captain Hookah told me that he had the game if I wanted to borrow it, I still didn’t really care to play it.  But I figured, if nothing else, I’d get a review out of it.  And I did!  And here it is!  This is my review for Prototype 2, developed by Radical Entertainment, designed by Matt Armstrong, published by Activision, and starring the voices of Cornell Womack, Darryl Kurylo, Lindsay Ames, Tara Lynne Barr, Ivan Basso, Melissa Disney, and Daniel Reardon.

After the events of the first Prototype game, James Heller (Cornell Womack) has lost his wife and daughter to a virus released by the main character of the first game, Alex Mercer (Darryl Kurylo).  Heller sets out with the military force called Blackwatch to try to kill Mercer, but instead gets infected by Mercer and starts becoming more like him, able to shapeshift his body to turn his arms into weapons, or even change his entire appearance into another person.  With this new ability and the help of a few people around town, Heller moves between the three infected zones in town, fighting other infected and military people as he tries to get closer to Alex Mercer.

Well, it’s apparently too late to review this game.  According to Wikipedia, Radical Entertainment went under as a result of the disappointing sales of this game.  If I had to hazard a guess as to why, it would probably be because this game isn’t that good.  It’s not bad, but you had better be offering me a lot if you expect me to shell out $60 bucks for your game, and this game just doesn’t bring it.  The story is nothing special.  I did appreciate that they give you a video recap of what happened in Prototype, but it felt somewhat unnecessary.  I figured it out from what they mentioned in the course of this game, and it’s not like the story of the first game was that complicated.  It was roughly the same thing except I wasn’t Alex Mercer this time, I was a black guy trying to kill him.  It started differently, and in a little more realistic fashion.  I mean, we all know that all major diseases start with a little guy on guy action, right?  Well that’s how Heller gets it, with Mercer fisting him … in the stomach.  After that, the story never really feels like it’s very much more than just running back and forth between checkpoints, eating someone to take their form, and then killing everyone on the way out.  The actual story itself has very little by way of surprises, and most of the dialogue is just bad.  It’s mostly just Heller finding different ways to say, “I’m going to kill you,” without bothering with cleverness and wit.  I also don’t know why they felt the need to change the main character on us.  They control basically the same, and I liked Mercer’s look way better.  Heller just looks like Jax from Mortal Kombat.  Also, I’m a racist, so I just want to play the white guy.  In truth, they didn’t really make Heller out to be the smartest kind of person.  He mainly just comes off like a big, dumb goon that smashes things.  There’s an entire part in the game where he has no idea how to work a computer.  But that’s fine if all he wants to do is smash things and not talk about it.  How well did he smash things?

Heller smashed things fairly well.  You have a decent variety of ways to smash things.  His arms can turn into claws, fists, a sword, a whip, or tendrils.  He can also use a variety of guns.  The problem with all of this is that it gets a little repetitive fairly quickly.  Once you get the whip, any smaller enemies around you are defeated in one hit.  Once you get finishers, all vehicles are destroyed in two buttons.  Much as with other games, I liked the free running aspects of this game.  I don’t know what it is about free running in open worlds that does it for me, but it does.  The problem with this game is that any semblance of precision is right out the window, and only gets worse as your speed and movement evolves through the game.  This only really became an issue when you had to do the missions where you had to come at least close to little crates (but let’s just call them checkpoints because this was only a thinly veiled race mission).  I would typically jump too high or my dash would lead into a glide that would make me sail right over the area I was aiming at, but it wasn’t that much of an issue.  Something that did get on my nerves was how they would change the powers I had selected each time one of them evolved.  I would typically roll around with claws and whip as my powers as I didn’t find the other ones that useful, but every time one of them would level up, the game would automatically change to it, fucking up my whole power scheme right before I had to fight someone.  I assume you want me to experiment, game, but don’t force it on me.  The tutorials in the game also wore on my nerves.  It made me think the developers had very little faith in their gamers.  They would not only tell you what move you just learned or are about to need, but they force you to use it and slow down the pace of the game so you can get it through your head.  Then it might come up a few dozen more times as they think you need to be reminded of the things you’ve been using regularly.

There’s not much to say about the look of the game.  It looks good.  I found no problems with the look.  One thing I liked even more than the usual was the cinematic scenes.  They were stupidly-written as was everything else, but I enjoyed the look of the black and white scenes with only the red having color.  It was like you were watching Schindler’s List and you were about to kill that little bitch that was running around, bragging about how she has a super sweet red coat and everyone else is naked.  Or maybe I was reading something into the movie that wasn’t there…

The achievements in the game are pretty friendly.  I was able to get 100% on the game within a week’s time.  All that you need to do is basically beat the game once, getting all the collectables and side missions, then play the game again via New Game + so that you retain your abilities so that you can finish leveling up, not to mention making the Hard playthrough a piece of cake.  They’re mostly pretty fun to get as well, as long as the game’s repetitiveness hasn’t gotten to you yet.  After that, it’s mostly just killing things until an achievement dings.

Prototype 2 is a decent enough game, but it certainly doesn’t prove itself worthy of $60.  The story is entirely simplistic and the gameplay – though enjoyable – can get repetitive and tended to cause me to play for not much more than an hour at a time.  The best part of the game is the look and the achievements.  Nothing negative to be said about the look, and you can get 100% on achievements in less than a week.  It’s worth a play if you can find it in the $20 range.  Prototype 2 gets “Fun, but a little repetitive” out of “Fun, but a little repetitive.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Cannonball Run (1981)


The Cannonball Will Fall to the Forces of Islam!

The only inspiration I can think of for why I would watch today’s movie is the fact that it’s regarded as a classic.  Today was basically just another opportunity to fill gaps in my movie repertoire.  I will share with you what I knew about the movie coming in.  The movie is a comedy, it stars a lot of famous people, and those people are driving cars with a fair degree of frequency in the movie.  That is all.  But it’s a classic and I need to see them all.  How will I ever be taken seriously if I’ve never seen all the classically referenced movies throughout history?  …EXACTLY!  Well I put the movie on my Netflix queue and it showed up, and that brings us to my review of The Cannonball Run, written by Brock Yates, Hal Needham, and starring Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Farrah Fawcett, Jack Elam, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., George Furth, Roger Moore, Adrienne Barbeau, Tara Buckman, Warren Berlinger, Bert Convy, Jackie Chan, Michael Hui, Jamie Farr, Terry Bradshaw, Mel Tillis, Rick Aviles, Alfie Wise, and Peter Fonda.

A group of people get together with vastly different ideas on how to win a cross-country race called the Cannonball Run.  The main characters are J.J. McClure (Burt Reynolds) and his partner Victor Prinzi (Dom DeLuise), who have decided to drive an ambulance to avoid getting arrested.  A drunkard named Jamie Blake (Dean Martin) and compulsive gambler Morris Fenderbaum (Sammy Davis Jr.) dress as priests and drive a red Ferrari.  Marcie Thatcher (Adrienne Barbeau) and Jill Rivers (Tara Buckman) drive a black Lamborghini and wear skintight racing suits that they’re more than happy to zip the front down on to get out of a ticket.  Jackie Chan (Jackie Chan) and his engineer (Michael Hui) drive a high-tech, souped-up Subaru GL.  Seymour Goldfarb Jr. (Roger Moore) believes himself to be Roger Moore as James Bond and drives, of course, an Aston Martin.  Add two hicks (Terry Bradshaw and Mel Tillis), a Sheikh (Jamie Farr), a crazy doctor (Jack Elam), and a love story between J.J. and a tree-loving photographer (Farrah Fawcett) and you’ve got enough foundation for a movie.

I can’t say I’m fully clear on why this movie is popular.  It wasn’t a horrible movie to watch, but it really seemed completely pointless.  The movie feels like watching a cartoon in that the situations are ridiculous, the characters are way over the top, and there’s next to no point to the movie in the first place.  Basically, I didn’t enjoy watching the movie but, as best I can tell, they seemed to think it was hilarious.  You can see this in the outtakes that run over the end credits.  They were semi-constantly cracking themselves up, seemingly over nothing.  If only they had the ability to share that joy with the audience.  The only thing that really made me laugh in the writing of this movie was when Dean Martin was complaining that they should’ve been Methodists instead of Catholics because then they’d get laid.  I can attest to the fact that this is not true at all.  There’s one thing that I felt was truly watchable about this movie and it was the stunts.  They do a lot of really interesting things with the vehicles in this movie.  And not just the basic stuff that you’d expect, like driving really fast on freeways in super-fast cars.  Early on in the movie, they land a small plane on the surface streets of a town so that J.J. can pick up beer.  Through the entire race, the motorcycle team is driving cross country in a total wheelie as a cheap joke about the weight that the guy on the back of the bike has put on.  It’s a dumb joke, but a spectacular stunt.  There’s also a part where the James Bond car shoots out oil and the spin that the pursuing cop car goes into was the most violent and fastest spins I’ve ever seen a car go into.  They also have Jackie Chan’s car make a jump that they claim is rocket propelled.  Speaking of Jackie Chan, they also have a part in the movie where he fights a bunch of bikers that was probably the worst fight he’s ever participated in, but less because of him and more because of the team of Americans that probably had little experience dealing with this kind of fight scene.

As for the performances, I maybe liked about half of them.  Burt Reynolds didn’t seem that interested in participating in the movie, but this was actually a positive in this case as no one else in the movie seemed to understand the principles of restraint, or the benefit of being low key.  Dom DeLuise was possibly the best example of this.  First off, the guy looks like Mario from the Nintendo universe throughout the movie, but he also randomly decides to put on a superhero costume every now and then, just to make himself more annoying.  The other half of their travelling troupe was always enjoyable though.  First of all was Farrah Fawcett.  She didn’t do anything particularly bad or good in her performance, but boy was she ever a pleasure to look at.  The second part of it was Jack Elam as the crazy doctor Van Helsing, who was actually a proctologist.  He was pretty wacky, but I actually found him pretty amusing.  For much the same reason I appreciated Farrah Fawcett, I had the same appreciation for Adrienne Barbeau and Tara Buckman.  They didn’t impress in their performance, but they had some great cleavage.  Being too young to have much appreciation for the Rat Pack, the only thing I found interesting about Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. was that I wasn’t entirely convinced that Dean Martin was just acting drunk for his role.  I also thought the concept of Roger Moore’s character was amusing, but they never really mined in for any comedy.

I knew that Cannonball Run was regarded as a classic, but now that I’ve seen it, I have no idea why.  The movie doesn’t take itself seriously, and certainly makes no particular focus on the story, but if they were focused on the comedy of the movie they failed in almost every occasion.  It’s like a cartoon, but forgets that cartoons are made for stupid kids so they still made the movie too mature for the only audience that would find it funny.  The majority of the performances in the movie were either way over the top or somewhat disinterested in participating in the movie, but the stunts were pretty outstanding.  I’m happy that I’ve filled a gap in my movie knowledge by watching this movie, but I wish it had been any good.  You can skip it.  The Cannonball Run gets “These people make terrorists look like the Sisters of Charity!” out of “Da-Duh-DUUUUMB!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Miracle (2004)


5 Seconds Left in the Game.  Do You Believe in Miracles?

It took so long to finally receive today’s movie that I had almost forgotten that Yimmy requested it.  As best I can remember, this is only the second movie that Yimmy has requested, yet a pattern is already developing.  You want to know what kind of movies my friend Yimmy likes?  The ONLY movies Yimmy likes are inspirational movies about the Olympics.  That’s it.  Today’s inspirational Olympic movie (or as we should start referring to them, Yimovie) is a pretty popular and respected movie based around an extremely popular and inspirational moment in American sports history.  As an über-nerd, I knew next to nothing about the movie or the event.  But now you can view this movie through the eyes of a person who doesn’t know sports, doesn’t know hockey, and did not even know one of the most famous sports moments in history.  What will such a nerd think of the movie Miracle, written by Eric Guggenheim, directed by Gavin O’Connor, and starring Kurt Russell, Noah Emmerich, Kenneth Welsh, Eddie Cahill, Patrick O’Brien Demsey, Michael Mantenuto, Nathan West, Kenneth Mitchel, Patricia Clarkson, Sean McCann, Eric Peter-Kaiser, Bobby Hanson, Joseph Cure, and Billy Schneider?

Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) interviews with the United States Olympic Committee for the opportunity to coach the 1980 Olympic Men’s hockey team, and gets the job with his philosophy about how to beat the unbeatable Soviet team.  With his assistant coach Craig Patrick (Noah Emmerich), he sets about picking a team not comprised of the best players he can find, but the team he thinks will be able to work as a family.  He picks 26 people with the intention of cutting six by the time they get to the Olympics.  The work begins immediately.  Brooks attempts to find out how to kill a group of 26 with just physical labor on the ice, but at least 20 of them survive by the time they head to the Olympics.  Even with all their hard work and camaraderie, they’ll still need some sort of miracle just to beat the Soviet team, and I’m sure the idea of taking home the gold is completely out of the question.

One of the best compliments that I could probably give a sports movie is that it actually made me interested in watching whatever sport it was based on.  It’s a rarity to be certain, but I would give this movie the ability to say that it accomplished that goal.  It was every bit of the feel good movie that it attempted to be, but I’d say that I’d give next to no credit to the story of the movie.  How could you?  From what I can tell, the movie might as well have been a documentary for the bulk of the movie.  There was some behind the scenes stuff that I’m sure they had to make up, but watching the making of featurettes on the DVD showed me that the hockey – arguably the reason anyone went to see this movie – was choreographed to be identical to what actually happened.  And it certainly wasn’t going to surprise anybody.  I’m sure the greater majority of people know what happened with the Miracle on Ice.  I technically didn’t, but I could’ve guessed.  If someone had asked me before this movie, I would’ve said that it was probably a sports thing, so I’m guessing hockey, and if it’s a miracle then I assume the other team was better, but we won anyway.  It’d be similar to what would happen if people asked me what happened with “The Catch.”  I’d guess it was football because I vaguely remember them talking about it in an episode of Scrubs, and I’m guessing some person caught the ball in some spectacular way, probably in the last seconds of the game and it probably caused them to win.  See?  All you need to figure these things out is some common sense.  The Immaculate Reception is just as obvious.  Someone probably caught the ball in a spectacular way and was rewarded by getting impregnated with the son of God by an angel.  The story was good for what it was.  It’d be more of a compliment to the direction of the movie that this movie worked because he’d be the one responsible for capturing the moments and recreating them, and that’s where the movie gets most of its steam.  It’s able to still make the movie interesting and suspenseful even though most people know where it’s going.  I would say real life boned them on some parts of the movie though.  You would expect the ending to be a little more spectacular, but that’s not how it worked out in real life.  In real life, the US team took the lead early in the third period (and yes, I had to look up that they were called “periods” in hockey) and then just held that lead until the time ran out, giving them the win.  A movie like this would typically end in the way the first period ended, with the guy getting the final point of the period with one second remaining on the clock.  The movie also makes great use of the montage, pulling those out about three times during the movie to show the team training, but it never really became tedious.

The performances were difficult for me.  Kurt Russell and Patricia Clarkson did great jobs, but the hockey players didn’t really do much of anything other than playing hockey.  Kurt Russell had a difficult performance to pull off, but it seemed that he really became the character and did him justice.  He had moments where you felt for him, usually relating to his family situation.  There were other times where you just thought he was an asshole, like when he was having the team sprint up and down the ice after a game until they literally couldn’t stand anymore.  As for the team, I didn’t really care about any of them individually, but that might have been what they were going for since it seemed as if the coach wanted them to be a team rather than individuals.  But most of the team didn’t have much for personalities.  The only ones that had any kind of story were the goaltender who was holding back because his mom had died and the two guys on the team who hated each other in the beginning.  Everyone else was basically the same person as far as I knew.  They also didn’t seem that bright as it took the whole team half of the movie to realize that Brooks wanted them to say that they played for the United States of America instead of their individual colleges when they introduced themselves.  I figured out what the guy wanted the first time he asked.  But they’re hockey players, so I assume they’ve taken a pretty good amount of head trauma.

Yimmy has not let me down yet.  Both of his movies took things that he knows I don’t care about, but I still end up liking them because they’re inspirational movies with feel good themes.  Miracle takes an inspirational underdog story and recreates it, so I give little credit to the story and more credit to the direction that recreates those moments very well.  Those and Kurt Russell’s performance.  It’s a movie worth watching, even for people who aren’t fans of hockey because it can hold your interest even without the benefit of caring about the subject matter.  You can’t stream the movie, but you can get the disk from Netflix.  Miracle gets “This is your time.  Now get out there and take it” out of “To me it looks like two monkeys trying to hump a football.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Mr. Nice Guy (1998)


I’m a TV Chef, but I’m Asian so I Also Know Kung Fu.

I couldn’t really think of anything I wanted to watch today.  I definitely didn’t want to keep going with the Batman theme because I didn’t want to oversaturate myself, even with something good.  I finally decided that I was in the mood to watch people punch each other in the face.  A martial arts movie would take care of that.  I also felt like it should be something fun, and there’s only one martial artist that I think of when I think of fun martial arts movies.  That’s Jackie Chan.  So I went to my DVD collection to see if anything stuck out for me.  Then I remembered that most of his movies were basically the same movie as far as I was concerned.  So I randomly grabbed Mr. Nice Guy, written by Edward Tang and Ma Fibe, directed by Sammo Hung, and starring Jackie Chan, Richard Norton, Gabrielle Fitzpatrick, Miki Lee, Karen McLymont, Vince Poletto, Barry Otto, Peter Lindsay, Peter Houghton, Rachel Blakely, David No, Sammo Hung, and Emil Chau.

A journalist named Diana (Gabrielle Fitzpatrick) records a drug deal between an Italian mob boss named Giancarlo (Richard Norton) and a street gang known as the Demons.  She also records the deal going sour as Giancarlo shoots the leader of the Demons, and then she records them seeing her and her cameraman.  They run away and split up, and Diana runs into a TV chef named Jackie (Jackie Chan), who is Asian and thusly knows kung fu and helps her escape.  While escaping in Jackie’s car, Diana accidentally switches the tape of the drug deal with one of Jackie’s cooking tapes.  When the mob tracks Diana down, they find that she doesn’t have the tape, so they set their sights on Jackie.  But they seem to have forgotten that he is Asian and knows kung fu, and he will defeat them with his fists!

This is certainly the kind of movie I think of when I think of a Jackie Chan movie.  The story is dumb and ridiculous, the performances are lackluster, but the action is fun.  I wouldn’t call this a good movie, but I’d go so far as to say it’s a fine movie to shut off your brain and just enjoy for what it is.  The story is pretty simple and often goofy and nonsensical.  At its core, it’s just about a drug cartel hunting a TV chef, and I’m sure we’ve all seen that story before.  Then they add a couple more ridiculous and improbable things, such as a random biker wedding that Jackie runs through at some point when trying to escape Giancarlo’s men.  But they were in Australia, and I’m sure that kind of thing goes on roughly every day down there.  They certainly have the worst excuse for cops down there, as shown in the scene where Jackie is trying to make a swap with the gang for his girlfriend.  They follow immediately behind him despite his protests, wear obvious earpieces to keep in communication, and even bulletproof vests.  If that doesn’t spell “inconspicuous”, then I don’t know what does.  They also do something that I’ve taken issue with in movies before.  I’ve seen it so many times in movies where someone is watching a tape that is supposedly filmed from one camera and one vantage point, but when they play it back on the TV it’s clearly just the footage from the movie, able to make the close ups and camera angles it needs to.  You’d think they’d be able to see the cameraman sooner with him holding the camera an inch from their face.  The biggest thing that gets to me about the story of so many Jackie Chan movies that I’ve seen is that he quite often plays a character named Jackie.  What’s the story behind that, I wonder.  Can he not remember the name of a character he’s supposed to be portraying, or are the writers just lazy?  Either way, two people in this movie share their names with their character, and it perplexes me.  But the story of this movie is really not meant to impress as best I can tell.  It’s more played for comedy and action.  The comedy rarely sinks in as all that funny to me.  Obviously you’ll have a lot of slapstick and comedy coming up in the fight scenes because that’s how Jackie rolls.  They also got some mileage out of Miki not being able to speak English, but usually having just enough knowledge of the language to understand a few words heard out of context so that she can think Jackie is cheating on her, or that Lakeisha is saying she has small boobs.  A part in the movie I did actually think was funny was Sammo Hung’s whole scene.  He just had a brief part in the movie as a cyclist, and the comedy in the scene was mostly slapstick, but the things he said around it got a chuckle out of me.  I would say I took issues with the ending of the movie as well because not a whole lot really happened.  I would say it was poorly written, but great in the spectacle and action.  Let’s just say it brought the roof down.

That seems like a good opportunity to switch into talking about the action in the movie a little bit.  I am known as the King of the Segway, after all.  There’s a good enough amount of action, but I probably would’ve appreciated a little more fighting and less chase scenes for my action buck.  But, as always, Jackie Chan will find some interesting new things to do.  There was a whole fight scene that took place in a building that was under construction, making the building just a series of concrete walls and improbably placed doors and turning the fight into a Scooby Doo style chase.  There’s also a part where Jackie has his arms and legs tied, and the ropes are being held by Giancarlo’s goons so that Jackie could almost fight and defend himself against Giancarlo, but his hands and feet would never connect.  This was definitely an interesting idea, but probably more complicated than a mob boss who owns a gun would ever set up.  There was also an action scene that took place on and around a giant construction … thing.  It was like a truck or a bulldozer, but didn’t really have a scoop or anything.  I don’t know what it was.  It was enormous and Jackie had to lay down in front of its wheels (that were roughly twice as tall as him) and climb up the wheels to get to the cab while it was still moving.

The performances were all kind of goofy in this movie.  For some reason, even though I think the greater majority of the cast spoke English, they really go over the top with their mouth movements to say each word, as if they had no idea what was coming out of their mouth and were just made to say it phonetically.  Jackie Chan did his part in the movie.  You could find a few occasions when he didn’t say his lines right because he probably had little idea what he was saying, but he does his action very well.  I think I talked about this the last time I reviewed a Jackie Chan movie, but he really seems to love the gag of accidentally grabbing a handful of some actresses boob, and he does that same gag here with Gabrielle Fitzpatrick.  She didn’t have to stretch any acting chops in this movie, but she did run around in her underwear for a bit, and that was alright by me.  I felt like I knew her the entire time I was watching her, but it wasn’t until I got on Rotten Tomatoes that I realized I’ve reviewed a movie she was in before.  She was a minor role in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie!  So that’s a thing.  Richard Norton was occasionally close to being intimidating as Giancarlo, but he completely lost me at one point.  There’s a part in the movie where he is threatening one of his goons and punctuating each word by taking the goon’s tie and slapping him in the neck with it, but he apparently didn’t know how goofy and limp-wristed the movement would make him look until the movie was released.

Mr. Nice Guy was decent enough.  The story was ridiculous and goofy, the performances were all pretty bad, but the action was mostly a lot of fun.  I just think they should’ve focused a little more heavily on Jackie Chan’s fighting skills and not as much on his comedic stunt work.  Either way, it worked out okay and ended up being roughly what I expected it to be.  A fun watch if you like martial arts movies and Jackie Chan, otherwise there’s not a whole lot of reason to watch it.  Mr. Nice Guy gets “Whose dialogue is it?” out of “That’s it.  No More Mr. Nice Guy.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Harley Quinn’s Revenge (2012)


I Guess That’s the End of Scary Face

This will probably be a quickie review, but I wanted to do it now to keep with the Batman theme.  This is a downloadable content pack for a game I’ve already reviewed, but it has its own story so I figured it would count.  I generally don’t play that much downloadable content because, once I’ve finished with a game, I don’t tend to go back because I’ve probably moved on to another game.  My decision to play this game came from one of Kevin Smith’s newer podcasts, Fat Man on Batman.  In this podcast, Kevin talked with one of the voice actors in the game, Tara Strong, about this DLC pack, so I decided that I should give it a go.  And that brings us to my review of an expansion for the DLC pack for Batman: Arkham City, Harley Quinn’s Revenge, developed by Rocksteady Studios, published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and including the voice talents of Kevin Conroy, Tara Strong, Troy Baker, and Nolan North, among others.

Two weeks after Arkham City ended and Batman (Kevin Conroy) has disappeared while searching for Harley Quinn (Tara Strong), who is not taking the loss of her boyfriend, the Joker, very well.  Fearing the worst, Barbara Gordon sends Batman’s partner Robin (Troy Baker) to find the Caped Crusader.  What Robin finds is that Harley has been driven even further into madness by her grief, and that she’s indeed done something with Batman as he finds only Batman’s utility belt.  We need to find out what has happened to Batman and, if possible, save his life.

This was actually a lot of fun, but I don’t imagine it was that difficult to accomplish.  They basically just used stuff that I had already used with a little bit of extra story to extend the life of the game and give us a little bit more to the story and tie up some loose ends.  But I guess that’s what DLC really is.  That’s why they call them expansion packs.  But the story was good enough, I suppose.  It’s not a complicated story, but it’s told in a slightly more complicated way in order to draw it out a little.  It’s roughly equivalent of what would have just been one mission in the actual game.  Harley Quinn kidnaps Batman, Robin saves him.  The little bit of extra complication they add in there is that we start as Robin, find Batman’s belt, then we jump back in time a little bit to become Batman and see how he got himself into that predicament.  Then back to Robin, and then back to Batman to finish it out.  Not a whole lot more complicated than that.  They did have to do some writing for it, though.  The dialogue was good and you could tell that they spent a little extra time than necessary writing dialogue for random goons that talk about the situation as you pass by.  But it’s a good enough excuse to get back into a game that was already amazing, so I don’t complain.  If I were going to complain about one thing, it would have to be the ending.  I don’t think they handled the situation very well, but it requires ::SPOILER ALERT::  It’s made to look like Batman dies.  He’s trapped with Harley Quinn and a bomb without enough time to disarm it.  Then we cut outside to see Commissioner Gordon run up as the building explodes, seemingly taking Batman and Harley with it.  But it only lets us think that for a few seconds before Batman jumps through the window (with Harley in tow) to safety.  Then they try it again with Harley making Batman think that Robin was still in the building when it blew up, so now he knows what she feels like after having lost the Joker.  But a few seconds later, Robin comes out and everything’s all better.  You have to let this stuff sit for a bit so we can actually believe them.  Obviously, we don’t at first.  Why would you do that?  But then the doubt starts creeping in as the scene drags on.  I felt it was at least two missed opportunities.  ::END SPOILERS::

There’s not a whole lot to add about the look of the game or the gameplay.  I already wrote the review with that stuff in it.  The gameplay is fantastic and enjoyable, and satisfying all the way through, just like the rest of the game.  And I also can’t imagine a game looking any better for what it was trying to do.  The only complaint I had about it was that, being nearly a year removed from having played the main game at this point, I found it really difficult to try to remember what all the controls were as I was trying to get through battles.  But I warmed up to it and remembered it soon enough, and that’s really more my problem than the game’s.  As far as achievements go, this DLC is pretty easy to get the few achievements you can get.  It’s basically just finishing the game (with a few rare stipulations) and make sure you hit all the balloons.  That’s about it.

I told you I’d keep it short, just like the DLC Harley Quinn’s Revenge for Batman: Arkham City.  It’s a short and simple story, but it’s an enjoyable excuse to get a little more time out of a game with some of the most satisfying combat and graphics of 2011.  It’s also pretty dang cheap and can net you a few easy achievements.  Can’t ask for much more for such a low price.  Harley Quinn’s Revenge gets “Is it … a helicopter?” out of “Okay, I didn’t write down any quotes from the game.  So sue me.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)


There’s a Storm Coming, Mr. Wayne.

I went into each of the new Batman movies with some degree of trepidation.  The first movie suffered from the reputation left by the previous movie, and the second movie suffered from the high standard set by one of the actors in the Tim Burton version.  Going into the third Batman by Christopher Nolan, I did my very best to keep my expectations low, but I could feel myself losing that fight the second a plan was made to see it.  That’s when it was becoming real.  But I still had the nagging voice in the back of my head reminding me that there was no possible way this movie could be better than the Dark Knight.  The Dark Knight may be my favorite comic book movie ever, tied with Avengers and Watchmen.  If this movie trounced its predecessor, then I would need to write a review naming a new movie as my undisputed favorite comic book movie of all time.  Am I about to do that?  Let’s find out in my review of The Dark Knight Rises, written by Jonathan Nolan, co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Josh Pence, Juno Temple, Nestor Carbonell, Matthew Modine, Alon Abutbul, and Cillian Murphy.

Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Gotham City has reached a relative state of peace due to the Dent Act and the efforts of Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman).  So peaceful has Gotham become that the savior of Gotham, the vigilante known as Batman (Christian Bale) has disappeared into seclusion that he breaks only to have conversations with his butler Alfred (Michael Caine), and to get robbed by a cat burglar named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway).  But Selina stole more than Bruce Wayne’s mother’s necklace; she also stole his fingerprints … and a congressional representative.  She sells the prints to a criminal named Bane (Tom Hardy) who uses them to bankrupt Bruce Wayne.  While investigating the sewers, Commissioner Gordon also gets shot by Bane’s men, but is rescued by a cop named Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), but a speech Gordon had in his jacket falls into Bane’s hands, revealing to him the truth about the cover-up of Harvey Dent’s crimes.  Gotham City needs Batman again, but does he have it in him to defeat this new foe and stop his terrorist plot?

This time I was right.  The Dark Knight Rises was not able to come close to the legacy left by The Dark Knight.  I’m in no way trying to say that this movie was bad, but it had a whole lot to live up to and it wasn’t able to.  That being said, Dark Knight Rises was a really good movie, and really strong in a lot of ways, but my three favorite comic book movies are resting comfortably on their thrones.  I think the story was what got on my nerves a little bit.  Though it was good, there were just too many things that just didn’t make sense to me.  Take, for instance, when Selina Kyle steals Bruce Wayne’s car early on in the movie.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but Bruce Wayne is the most famous person in Gotham, yet the valet doesn’t realize that he’s not married and that he left his really expensive vehicle by himself, so he just gives the keys to any lady holding a ticket claiming to be his wife?  So that dude’s fired.  There were plenty of things that I loved though.  One such occasion was when Selina Kyle disappeared when Batman turned around and he said, “So that’s what that feels like.”  Without spoiling it, I was also very happy to see that they used the most famous thing from the comic book storyline of Bane in this movie.  I don’t know the Batman universe that well, but the one thing I knew that Bane did happened, and I loved it.  There’s also a great deal of emotion in this movie, and I don’t think they’ve really done that successfully in the previous movies.  But I really liked the last thing Batman says to Commissioner Gordon in the movie, and a few of the things Alfred said to Bruce during the last half of the movie almost brought me to tears.  I will say that I did not like the ending of the movie, but I’ll go into more detail in the next paragraph.

I know that doesn’t sound like I had that many complaints about the story of the movie, but the reason I left some out was that they contain spoilers.  The first non-spoiler I would give you is about spoilers, but I would recommend you not check IMDb before watching this movie.  Just looking at the credits for this movie spoiled something that could have potentially been a huge surprise near the end of the movie.  Maybe two things, depending on how asinine and descriptive the posters get with the character names.  But here’s the rest of them ::SPOILER ALERT::  The huge thing it spoiled for me was that Talia al Ghul, the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul, was in the movie.  That’s not revealed until the last 15 minutes of the movie!  But, when I went in knowing she was in the movie, it was pretty easy to figure out who she was and who the trigger person was going to be.  One of the big problems I had was with Batman in the prison.  He tried to escape the prison around three times before he realized that he needed to make the jump without the rope holding him back.  Friendboss Josh realized that when the first person tried to make that jump.  How is he smarter than the World’s Greatest Detective?  I regarded the ending of the movie as a total “fuck you” as well.  Batman dies … or does he?!  No.  The problem with this is that it really didn’t make any sense.  If Batman wanted a vacation, he doesn’t need to fake his death, and certainly not to the people he’s closest to.  He let Alfred, Lucius, Gordon, Blake, and Selina Kyle all think that he was dead for a good long time before they either figured it out on their own or ran into him on vacation with Kyle in Italy.  It did have a bit of an emotional impact on me as a viewer though, but it was mostly anger.  Knowing this was Nolan’s last Batman movie, I had entertained the possibility that he might kill off Batman, but you can’t just do that.  Batman’s almost a century old; you can’t just come in and kill him.  Then, when I saw him in the café at the end, I just wondered why the fuck that little misdirection was necessary.  There were some good spoilers as well.  I thought it was total genius how Bane’s mercenaries used the army against the people of Gotham by making them keep the people of Gotham in town because they would set off the bomb if even one person made it across the bridge.  I also thought it would’ve been an awesome reveal if I didn’t already know it was coming (Fuck you, IMDb!) to find out that Talia was the kid in the prison and Ra’s was the mercenary being talked about in the story.  I got goosebumps when they showed the scene from the first movie that tied into it.  ::END SPOILERS::

I enjoyed all of the performances in this movie, but there certainly wasn’t anything on the level of Heath Ledger.  I know it’s an unfair comparison, but it’s also necessary.  Christian Bale did a great job in the movie.  He wasn’t really the same Bruce Wayne we’d seen before as he was dealing with a lot of emotions in this movie.  In the beginning of the movie, he’s in seclusion and his guilt at the death of Rachel is still wearing on him, and it’s only getting worse with him turning it inward as he doesn’t have the distraction of being Batman anymore.  But that was part of the problems I had with the movie: there was not enough Batman!  He’s not Batman for a large part of the movie, and the first time he becomes Batman he just doesn’t seem that into it anymore.  He’s back in form near the end of the movie, but I was getting bummed out about it by then.  Tom Hardy did a great job in this movie as well, and I’ll avoid the Joker comparison to give him the credit he deserves.  This is the Bane they needed to make in the movie.  One of the biggest problems I had with Bane’s appearance in Batman and Robin was that they seemed only interested in recreating the character’s look.  Yeah, he’s a big brutish looking guy wearing a mask, but he’s not some mindless goon.  Bane had a genius-level intellect in comic books, but that movie makes him unable to string two words together.  This movie does Bane justice.  Tom Hardy makes him completely intelligent and intimidating.  They also had a good reason for him to wear the mask, which I was wondering how they’d pull off when they didn’t want to take the Venom angle from the comic books.  Anne Hathaway also did a pretty good job as Selina Kyle, but I can’t say that I think her role required all that much out of her than being fuckin’ hot.  She did that part of it with gusto, but also gave a pretty good performance.  I probably would’ve preferred that they had a few hundred more scenes of her riding Batman’s motorcycle wearing skintight leather from behind though.  Her character created some questions for me, though.  The main one was how Bruce could still be moping over Maggie Gyllenhaal 8 years after her death when he just met Anne Hathaway.  I’d be over it pretty gundamned quickly.  I also really liked the look of her “Catwoman” costume (though she’s never referred to that way as far as I know).  And not just because it was skintight on Anne Hathaway’s body either.  I liked that it felt really reminiscent of the Catwoman costume from the Adam West days, but they made it better by making it so she wasn’t intentionally wearing cat ears, it just looked like she was when her goggles were pushed back onto her head.  On another note, I understand that Catwoman is very agile and flexible and everything, but was it actually necessary for her to kick the lever on the window washing scaffold at one point in the movie?  It was above her head and you could’ve just pulled it with your hands.  Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

I’m sure it’s hard to tell from the review I just wrote, but I did really like The Dark Knight Rises.  It was a great movie and did not lessen the average quality of the trilogy in the least, but not much can live up to the legacy left by The Dark Knight.  The story was fantastic, but had some problems that hindered its overall quality, but all of the performances were fantastic and made me so happy that someone finally did Bane justice so we can stop using Batman and Robin as a character reference for him.  I had some problems with the movie, but I had absolutely no problem seeing it in theater.  It was totally worth it.  I’m happy I saw it, I’m in love with the trilogy in total, and I can’t wait to buy it on BluRay.  The Dark Knight Rises gets “You made some mistakes, Miss Kyle” out of “The Batman has to come back.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Dark Knight (2008)


And … Here … We … Go!

Having already seen Batman Begins, I figured the sequel would at least be good.  Christopher Nolan’s new vision for the Batman universe struck me as mostly realistic, but totally awesome.  When the sequel was on its way, you could assume that the quality might diminish as with the greater majority of sequels.  But my hopes were fairly high regardless.  What my hopes were low about was the villain.  I was definitely amongst the group of people that thought it would be completely impossible for anyone to surpass Jack Nicholson in the role.  I was sure the actor they picked would do a fine job and, from what I had seen, he looked fantastic in the role, but come on!  It’s Jack Nicholson!  Well, what happened?  Let’s all be not surprised by the results of me reviewing The Dark Knight, story by David S. Goyer, written by Jonathan Nolan, co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Chin Han, Eric Roberts, Ritchie Coster, Michael Jai White, Ron Dean, Monique Curnen, Nestor Carbonell, Colin McFarlane, Nydia Rodriguez Terracina, and William Fichtner.

A make up wearing criminal known only as The Joker (Heath Ledger) is robbing mob-owned banks in Gotham City and, though he loves to show his face on camera, continuously evades Batman (Christian Bale) and Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman).  In reaction, a Chinese accountant named Lau (Chin Han) hides the money for the mob bosses – Sal Maroni (Eric Roberts), The Chechen (Ritchie Coster), and Gambol (Michael Jai White) – until the Joker shows up and tells them they are avoiding the problem.  What they really need to do is kill the Batman, which the Joker claims he can do, but he demands half of their money to do it.  If you’re good at something, never do it for free.  Out of the desperation of the mob bosses, the Joker is unleashed on Gotham.

I always remember that I like the Dark Knight before I decide to rewatch it, but it still blows my mind with how good it is.  I’ve said it before with two other movies, but this movie stands a very good chance of being my favorite comic book movie.  Avengers was easily the most fun, Watchmen is a fantastic movie as well, but the Dark Knight is an amazing movie.  So exciting, so dark, so smart, and so so good.  It’s an extremely well-written story with action, chaos, and loss.  And the darkness and realism that I liked so much about the previous movie returns for this movie.  That would, of course, mean that the Joker wouldn’t be using the toys you’d typically find him using – things like guns that pop flags with “Bang” written on them or Jack in the Box’s that explode – that Joker purists may miss, but it wouldn’t fit the atmosphere.  What you get instead is a super dark and demented insane genius that actually has his shit together while still being completely off his rocker.  We all knew the Joker was coming, though.  They hinted at it at the end of the last movie.  But when I was going into this movie, I started wondering why they didn’t hint at the villains from the next movie.  But I think I found one.  It seems like there was a very good chance that, when Bruce asks Lucius how his new suit will do against dogs and Lucius said, “It should be fine against cats,” it may have been a hint that I never caught before.  As much as I loved the movie, I took issue with a few smaller things in the story.  The first was that I never understood what happened with the rescues of Rachael and Harvey.  Batman tells the cops that he’s going after Rachael as he’s leaving the police station, but then he shows up to rescue Harvey.  Did the Joker lie to Batman and he actually intended to rescue Rachael, or did he change his mind off camera and tell the cops to go after Rachael?  It’s always kind of bugged me.  The second was the cell phone echolocation machine that Bruce had built.  He spends all this money and all this time researching and perfecting this technology to find one man one time, and then he blows it all up.  I grant that it worked, but it just seems so wasteful.  The third part I had a problem with was towards the end of the movie, when someone was going to punish someone else by having him choose between his wife, daughter, and son which one he loved most.  How shitty do the wife and daughter feel?

The action in this movie was spectacular, made even better by the fact that the greater majority of it was done practically and involved minimal computer graphics.  As good as computer graphics have gotten over the years, you can usually tell when it’s fake.  Most of the Dark Knight is not fake, as best as I could tell.  There were plenty of highlights amongst the visuals, but I’ll focus on three.  Two of them were in the same fantastic action scene: when the Joker was trying to destroy the SWAT vehicle with Harvey in it.  It was freakin’ amazing when the Tumbler drove into the garbage truck that was following the SWAT vehicle, smashing the top of the garbage truck into the ceiling of the underground road.  Thinking that couldn’t be topped, slightly later they make a semi do a front flip.  Later on, they even actually blow up a building to simulate Gotham Hospital.  Suck it, Avatar!  You can take your blue people with hair dicks back to Pandora and sit on Home Tree.

Credits be damned.  Even amongst the stellar performances in this movie, I think we all know who the real star of this movie is: Maggie Gyllenhaal.  I don’t know how they didn’t incorporate it into the story that, much like Harvey Dent, Rachael must’ve endured some serious trauma and third-degree burns in between the first and second movie, and all in the face region.  In fact, the moment I realized that the Joker was truly insane was when he referred to this new Rachel as “beautiful”.  Okay, in truth I don’t think Maggie Gyllenhaal is as ugly as all of the things I say about her indicate, but she’s certainly not great looking.  And the real star of the movie is actually Heath Ledger.  This mother fucker disappears into the role of the Joker, and easily (and surprisingly) blows Jack Nicholson’s take on the character right out of the water.  I believe that, had I gone into this movie unaware of the Joker’s true identity, I may not even have recognized Ledger in this movie.  He’s that fucking good.  I said it after I first saw the movie and it’s as true today as it was then, but everything else in this movie could’ve been complete horse shit and his performance alone would’ve made it worth seeing.  It truly was the performance of a lifetime, and a gundamned shame that it was the last performance in his lifetime.  The only non-Gyllenhaal performance I took issue with in this movie was Melinda McGraw as Commissioner Gordon’s wife.  All of her reactions to bad news in this movie were a little over the top and never convincing.

The Dark Knight is an amazing movie.  The story is great, the action is fantastic, and the performances are all terrific.  There’s not a lot of bad things to be found in this movie, but even if there were, the movie would be worth the watch for Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker alone.  The fact that the rest of the movie is also amazing is just icing on the cake.  I don’t know that I’d be comfortable calling the Dark Knight my favorite comic book movie of all time, but it would certainly be considered.  This movie should not only be owned; it should be watched at least once per month.  Put it on your calendars.  The Dark Knight gets “A little fight in you.  I like that” out of “Harvey Dent.  Can he be trusted?”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.