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.

Batman Begins (2005)


You Must Become More than Just a Man in the Mind of Your Opponent.

Let’s go back in time to roughly 2004.  At this point, Batman had fallen on hard times, somewhat devastated by the shit sandwich known as Batman and Robin.  So devastating was this movie that it was almost a decade before they put out another one.  But this guy, he wanted to reboot the whole series.  What kind of bullshit is that?  We’ve all seen Batman’s origin story!  And you want to throw down your movie against the Tim Burton Batman’s origin story?  This has bad written all over it.  But, they wanted to take the movie in a darker direction, and it seemed as if they got mostly good people to be in it, so maybe I was judging too harshly.  I would still give it a chance.  Also, the word “Batman” was in the title, so there was a very good chance I would be seeing it anyway.  How could this movie possibly do?  We’ll find out as I review Batman Begins, written by David S. Goyer, co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Mark Boone Jr., Ken Watanabe, Linus Roache, Sara Stewart, Richard Brake, and Gus Lewis.

A young Bruce Wayne (Gus Lewis) must leave a play because of his fear of bats.  His father Thomas (Linus Roache) and mother Martha (Sara Stewart) escort him into the alley behind the theater where they are murdered in a mugging gone wrong by a desperate criminal, Joe Chill (Richard Brake).  Later, when Chill is granted parole if he testifies against crime boss Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson), Bruce (now Christian Bale) sets his mind on killing him, but is beaten to the punch by one of Falcone’s men.  Seeing how corrupt Gotham City has become, Bruce disappears into the world to study the criminal element and train physically and mentally in martial arts.  He gets himself arrested and, while imprisoned, he meets a man named Ducard (Liam Neeson), who offers Bruce the opportunity to train with and join the League of Shadows, a group of ninjas led by Ra’s al Ghul with a mind to bring justice to the world but, after training with them, he realizes that their plot is to dispel the evil from Gotham by destroying it and allowing it to rebuild.  Bruce says, “Good day,” picks up his hat and spikey gloves, and burns the place to the ground, killing Ra’s and saving the life of Ducard.  Bruce is picked up by his butler Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) and returns to Gotham to use his new skills and a pointy cowl to bring justice to Gotham in his own way.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but is Ra’s al Ghul immortal?  Are his methods supernatural?  Eh, it’ll probably never come up…

I tried, probably in vain, to act like I wouldn’t like this movie.  I can’t imagine anyone didn’t see right through that.  Of course this movie is awesome.  With each new reboot of the Batman it gets darker and better.  The old Adam West Batman was goofy and fun, then Tim Burton put out a much darker and more serious Batman with Michael Keaton that got goofier and more terrible over time as George Clooney took over the role.  What Christopher Nolan gives us is the darkest and most realistic look at the Caped Crusader we’ve ever seen, and probably the best Batman movie that had ever been released up to that point, renewing the faith of the fans that had been trampled down over the years.  I can’t recall if I went into this movie thinking that it couldn’t possibly be better than the Tim Burton Batman, but I would say it succeeded.  And, just as great, they went with some fantastic villains that we hadn’t seen in the movies prior: Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul.  I loved the realism in the movie as well.  Everything they changed they changed for the better, and all of it seemed like it could really happen.  The armor, the memory cloth cape, all of the setup stuff.  I don’t know that any of that stuff really exists, but it feels like it does.  The Tumbler seemed much more realistic, but I must admit that I miss the Batmobile from the first movie.  It’s an acceptable substitute.  Even the villains were more realistic.  Ra’s al Ghul stayed immortal with the use of the Lazarus Pit in the comic books; here he uses deception to spread the legend of Ra’s al Ghul as immortal.  Scarecrow was never all that unrealistic.  It’s probably not that hard to find an inhalant that will make you trip balls.  The only real issue I took with the story of the movie is that the fat cop was made out to be a dick for telling the guy he took food from that he should feed his kids falafel.  That’s just good logic right there.

No one should’ve been surprised that the greater majority of the people were able to bring it.  They got some fantastic actors to participate in this thing.  Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman; so many great actors that deliver in every way.  And Katie Holmes is in the movie too.  That’s perhaps harsh.  She actually did a fine enough job.  Not spectacular, but certainly not bad.  Christian Bale is probably the best performance in this movie as far as I’m concerned.  He really gives three performances.  The Bruce Wayne he puts on is mostly for show; what he’s been told a billionaire playboy would act like.  Then there’s the real guy, who is much more serious, but still finds the time to toss quips back and forth with Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman – both of which bring a great deal of snarky comedy with their lines.  Then, of course, the Batman, who is always serious and speaks in a super gravelly voice that does grate on the nerves, but I didn’t take that much issue with it.  I think I more took issue with how breathless it always made him seem.  It was as if … he couldn’t do … more than three … words at a … time … like that …

Batman Begins is awesome.  One could argue that it starts out a little slowly as we have to sit through the origin story that the bulk of us were already familiar with, but once it gets moving, it gets moving.  This is the exact type of Batman movie the world wanted.  Or, in the very least, it’s the one I wanted.  The action is fantastic, the darkness and the realism are amazing, and the performances are top of the line.  I love you, Batman.  And you, Christopher Nolan.  Something tells me I might be saying that once or twice more in the next couple of days.  Come back to find out.  For now, Batman Begins gets “You’re not the devil.  You’re practice” out of “Death does not wait for you to be ready!”

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 X-Files: Fight the Future (1998)


Trust No One, Mr. Mulder.

Today’s review was requested by my friend Tiffany, and I was more than happy to oblige.  It had been years since I last saw this movie, and it may even have been when it was still in theaters that I last saw it.  I had been a fan of the show that this movie spun off from since day one.  So much so that one of my fondest memories from my youth was going to a convention for the TV show with my mother.  So when I decided that I would review this movie, I went over to my shelf to grab my DVD until my heart sank.  I don’t own this movie.  I have the second movie, but not the first one.  Whatever could that mean?  When I originally saw this movie, did I hate it?  Did I hate it so much that I could overcome my OCD and only own one movie in the series?  I didn’t remember!  There was only one way to find out.  I immediately put the movie on my Netflix queue and, when it came in, set about watching it.  Let’s see what happened in my review of The X-Files: Fight the Future, written by series creator Chris Carter, directed by Rob Bowman, and starring David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Martin Landau, William B. Davis, John Neville, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Mitch Pileggi, Blythe Danner, Jeffrey DeMunn, Terry O’Quinn, Dean Haglund, Bruce Harwood, Tom Braidwood, Glenne Headly, and Lucas Black.

The film opens on the icy tundra known as North Texas, about 35,000 years ago.  We watch as two cavemen enter a cave and fight with some kind of green monster, the blood of which oozes towards the caveman and infects him with something.  We’ll find out about that later.  About 35,000 years later, when Texas has thawed out nicely.  Here and now, a little kid (Lucas Black) falls through a hole and finds a human skull, and then he finds a black oil that crawls through his skin and turn his eyes black.  When his friends get the firemen to rescue him, the three that go down after him go missing as well.  But to hell with that noise; let’s see what FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are up to!  They’re messing around on the roof of a building in Dallas, investigating a bomb threat.  Finding nothing, they go back downstairs and Mulder goes off to get a soda from the vending machine, only to find that the delicious soda goodness in the machine has been replaced with C4.  Special Agent in Charge Darius Michaud (Terry O’Quinn) orders everyone to evacuate the building as he disarms the bomb.  As Mulder and Scully begrudgingly leave, the building explodes, killing Michaud as well as a young boy and three firemen.  Why does that sound familiar?

In much the same way as Tiffany loves me; I love the X-Files.  And that is with all my heart and equally as sexually because the X-Files has Gillian Anderson in it.  But I still really liked this movie and have no good reason to not have it in my collection yet.  The story of the movie is really tight and keeps your attention all the way through, but I can’t say I really expected anything else.  This movie was set into motion after the X-Files already had five successful seasons.  They knew how to make a great story.  And their shows were an hour a piece, and some were two or three part stories.  So how would they have a difficult time translating that into a story that would last 114 minutes?  They wouldn’t!  They also have a fairly unique ability to have the story of their movie continue on through their TV show.  The story is the same kind of thing that you’d find in the TV show: government cover ups and aliens.  They allow the mystery to unfold nice and slowly, and end it with a great climax that gives the audience most of what they want, but they don’t give you everything you want.  I did wonder about one thing from the story, though.  It’s when the people are talking about how to stop Mulder.  One suggests killing him, but they write that off because it would make him a martyr.  They then decide they should take from him something he loves most, and that turns out to be Scully.  But how would taking Scully away stop Mulder?  I mean, you’ve seen what happens to this guy when he gets an idea in his head about something.  That would just lead to him being a man on a mission the likes of which you’ve never seen before.  Then Mulder proves that for me later in the movie.  I think most of the people watching the TV show always hoped that Mulder and Scully would end up together, but they never really did it.  It usually just got as far as having Mulder make flirty comments to Scully.  In this movie, after an emotional confession by Mulder, the two almost kiss before a bee stings Scully and interrupts it as a nice, calculated “Fuck you” to the audience.  You’ll get your love story eventually, but not just yet.  I also wondered if the scene where Mulder was pissing on a poster of the movie Independence Day was another little “Fuck you”.  I like all of the dialogue in the movie as well, particularly the lines from Mulder.  He always has a nice little joke on deck, like when he said that the two strange, round buildings in the middle of the cornfield were Jiffy Pop poppers.

The performances are also totally great, but the characters also had the luxury of at least five or six years to settle into their characters.  The new people that were added to the equation were also just top notch actors, so they really could do no wrong.  I love David Duchovny.  He’s vaguely serious, but usually more snarky.  He doesn’t try too hard to be funny, usually getting there with more of a dry wit, but I like dry wit.  Gillian Anderson is ever present to be the straight man to Mulder, occasionally breaking her serious façade, but usually being all business.  Also, she’s fuckin’ sexy.  Remember a time when a beautiful woman could be noticed as being gorgeous and sexy while constantly wearing a suit?  How did she ever manage to become a sex symbol without showing up on camera with electrical tape over her nipples and nothing else?  However it is done, she pulls it off.  It leaves it all to the imagination, and I like that.  And my imagination does go wild.  Like when Mulder is rescuing her near the end of the movie and he comes across her clothes lying in the chamber they used to transport her there.  Mulder wraps her in his jacket and they make their way out of the facility through a vent.  My imagination envied Mulder for what he must’ve been seeing; crawling through the vent behind Gillian Anderson dressed only in a jacket over her nakedness.  But then they get out of the facility and she’s suddenly wearing pants!  Where’s the verisimilitude?!  I also got to wondering what Gillian Anderson has been up to recently.  The last time I saw her was the second X-Files movie.  Well, wherever she is and whatever she’s doing, I like to think that she’s doing it naked.

The X-Files was awesome, and the first movie they made from the already awesome series had not lost any of its quality.  The story works very well, capturing everything we loved about the TV show, from the mystery, the government cover ups, the paranormal, and the sometimes flirty relationship between Mulder and Scully, who continue to bring their characters to life amongst a slew of other great performances.  Great movie, and one that I need to purchase as soon as possible.  The X-Files: Fight for Future gets “After all you’ve seen you can just walk away?” out of “Look, if I quit now, they win.”

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.

Supercop (1992)


Uncle Bill, Say Something Cheeful, Will You?

I was starting to get the feeling that today was a depressing and irritating day, so I decided I wanted to try to watch something that seemed like it might be fun and just hope that I would be able to fake some comedy for a review for the day.  I looked everywhere for a movie that had that feeling to it.  I tried my Netflix instant queue, I tried my recommendations, I tried the movies Netflix sent me, and I considered my own DVD collection.  But none of these felt like they had anything of interest that had a chance to lighten my mood.  Then I saw a movie that was an action comedy movie that starred one of my favorite martial arts actors and it just felt right.  I’ve seen a great many of this actor’s movies, but I had not seen this one.  I had to roll the dice on it because I couldn’t think of anything else that I would trust.  And so I review Police Story 3: Supercop, written by Edward Tang, Ma Fibe, and Yee Lee Wai, directed by Stanley Tong, and starring Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Kenneth Tsang, Yuen Wah, Josephine Koo, Maggie Cheung, and Bill Tung.

Kevin Chan (Jackie Chan) is sent to Shanghai on assignment to go undercover and bust a drug lord named Chaibat (Kenneth Tsang).  He meets his Interpol contact, Jessica Yang (Michelle Yeoh), and is briefed on his mission to first aid in the escape of a criminal named Panther (Yuen Wah) to gain his trust and use him to get in to Chaibat’s gang.  He succeeds in the first part, helping Panther escape, but on the way to Hong Kong, the group passes through the town Kevin claims is his hometown, but is saved from revealing himself by not knowing his surroundings by Interpol having set up people in the town to act like they know him.  They go to Kevin’s supposed house and meet his supposed sister, Hana, who is actually Jessica.  Later, when the police recognize Panther and try to arrest him, Panther is saved by Hana and Kevin, and Hana pretends that she killed a police officer so that Panther would take her along as well.  This gets them officially into Chaibat’s gang, but it also gets them in over their heads.

The combination of this movie and the beers I was drinking as I watched it have greatly improved my mood, so much so that I just mistyped “improved” a record of four times.  This review is going to be fun, much like today’s movie.  The story was basic and unimpressive – as one could say is fairly typical of a martial arts movie – but the action was fun.  The premise of the movie is so common that I’m pretty sure I’ve already reviewed a Donnie Yen movie with the same premise.  Cop infiltrates bad guys.  Done and done.  Also typical with such movies, he’ll get found out eventually.  And, also typically, that will probably lead to bad times and a hostage situation with one of his loved ones.  They attempt to separate themselves from the other 78% of all movies with this premise by making their movie a martial arts/action/comedy instead of an action/drama, or straight action movie, as they would typically be.  We’ll get to the martial arts and the action, but the comedy did not do well with me.  It wasn’t painful to watch, but they take the easy way out to attempt comedy and make most of it slapstick, which really hasn’t worked too well for me since I was 8 or so.  It wasn’t bad, but it only ever really mustered amusement.  I’m also getting the feeling that Jackie Chan may either be a pervert or just sex-starved since most of his movies that I can think of right now involve some form of him accidentally grabbing some girl’s boobs.  Whether he’s trying to stop her from leaving or stop her from falling, he will find a way to grab a handful of boob, and usually will drop the girl when he realizes what he’s done.  But I had no real big gripes about the story here beyond one thing: the boat they escaped the cops with.  It had like 8 engines!  Does more engines necessarily mean more fastness?

This is a Jackie Chan movie, so I would say it can be implied that the action in the movie is going to be exciting and fun.  And Jackie is probably going to do his own stunts, ‘cause that’s what he does.  I was slightly disappointed that Jackie didn’t do that much fighting in this movie – probably because he had to give Michelle Yeoh her screen time as well – but when he did it, it was still very enjoyable.  A lot of the other stunts were also very exciting.  The top of the excitement for me was, of course, at the climax of the movie.  It just keeps amping up.  It starts with Jackie running away from a truck with no brakes, to a fight on the rooftops, to him jumping from a building to the ladder hanging from a helicopter, to riding that ladder through billboards, to them landing the helicopter on the back of a moving train, and then fighting around the spinning blades of a helicopter on top of a moving train.

None of the actors really required that they do much by way of performance.  The physical stuff was the most taxing for them, I would say.  Jackie Chan was fun throughout the movie and great with the action.  Michelle Yeoh also did a very good job with the action, but played it more serious as Jackie’s straight man of sorts.  She did some great things in the movie, but for me the greatest thing she did was vag kick a lady she was fighting.  Maggie Cheung got on my nerves a little bit as Jackie’s character’s girlfriend, but not from something she specifically did.  It was more how she was written.  When Jackie is undercover and runs into her, she won’t accept the fact that he’s undercover for a long time, even though she knows he’s a cop and was leaving on assignment.  Once she finally figures it out, she completely blows it minutes later by discussing the secret operation her boyfriend is on, loudly and surrounded by strangers, in the elevator of the building where he’s on his assignment.  Good work, bitch.

When I go into 90% of Jackie Chan movies, I expect the story to be pretty basic, but I expect the movie to be exciting and fun, and that’s what I found in Supercop.  It’s a story that offers no surprises and the comedy is usually just slapstick, but the action and fighting in the movie is pretty great and lots of fun.  I liked it.  You can stream the movie on Netflix if you want to watch something as a fun lark.  Supercop gets “You are a super cop” out of “Super cops are a dime a dozen in Hong Kong.”

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.