Monday, June 25, 2012

Review: Lollipop Chainsaw for PS3

I don't play a lot of video games. Between work and school and...reading lots of comics, I don't have much time left. And the last time I bought a video game on the first day it was released was Ghostbusters a few years ago. I was browsing in Game Stop when I saw the ads for the game and I looked it up online and it looked funny and exciting.

I haven't completely gotten through the game yet but here's a review of someone who hasn't cleared the third area yet.

First a little background on the game from Lollipop Chainsaw is the 'un-deadly' story of sweet and killer zombie-hunter Juliet Starling and her quest to uncover the root of a colossal zombie outbreak. With her wickedly awesome chainsaw in hand, Juliet slices, dices and splits her way through hordes of the undead, but soon realizes the horde is only the opening act to a festival of zombie rock lords determined to kill the chainsaw-wielding cheerleader.

This button-mashing fighting game is a lot of fun. Beating on zombies until they're groggy enough to take their heads off with the chainsaw or simply slicing them up with the chainsaw is very satisfying. There are no puzzles to solve here - when you get to a roadblock the screen tells you what button to push.

As an adult, I appreciate the games where the characters curse. I giggled every time the Eliza Dusku-voiced main character in Wet dropped an F-bomb while I was mowing bad guys down. The entire premise of the game is silly and so is the dialogue and the fact that the characters use bad language is great. This game is not meant for kids as even a casual glance at the box art will tell a parent.

That said, there are really annoying parts of the game so far. I don't like the 'hit this button right now' kind of game and you have to do that to finish tough zombies and bosses. You also have to put Nick's head on zombie bodies and push the right button at the right time to get him to do things. So instead of enjoying the cut scene of a boss’ death, you're blocking everything out except for the blinking reminder of what button to push. Instead of controlling Nick or watching as he stumbles across a room, you are staring at the center of the screen for the next button.

Also, I don't know if video games in general have gotten this way or if it's just this game, but there were no instructions on how to play the game in the case. I thought this would be liberating because the game would train me at the beginning of the game. For the most part, the game did a good job of training me on fighting - and let's be honest, there are a lot of fighting games so I didn't really need to learn how to do jump attacks and try out different button combos. But I did need to use the internet boards to figure out how to answer the phone.

And she runs really slow. It's hard to get a little distance because you can't run away to allow the zombies to group up a little bit so you can take care of them en masse. And having to repeatedly tap the circle button to get up when she's been knocked down gets old really fast.

So is this cheerful, zombie killing game worth the carpal tunnel? Right now it's a good time so I'm going to keep playing.

Zachary Levi in Thor 2

According to (my new nerd-vana), Zachary Levi, the coolest nerd on the planet (sorry Nathan Fillion), will be swinging a sword and fighting evil as Fandral the Dashing in Thor 2. Fandral is one of the Warriors Three, Thor's closest friends, from the first film. Josh Dallas, who played Fandral in the first film is busy doing my new number one favorite show (now that Chuck has been retired), Once Upon A Time.

The first Thor was a lot of fun and the original cast is back in the second. I can't wait to see Thor and Jane reunite and see Thor, Sif, and the Warriors Three beat down whatever bad guy is coming at them in this one.

I also can't wait to see if any familiar faces drop by for cameos.

Oh  - that reminds me. I'm still looking for the Hiemdall figure from the first film. Time to hit eBay!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

5 Underrated Scenes in The Avengers

I saw the movie for the 5th time yesterday. Now that the movie has been out for 7 weeks and people have talked about all of the great scenes in depth, I thought I would chime in with 5 scenes that either no one has talked about or haven’t talked about what I saw in those same scenes. This article is FULL OF SPOILERS if you haven’t seen it yet. And if you haven’t…the Hulk hates you.

1) Maria Hill vs. Clint Barton & Loki
This is one of the first action sequences in the film. Maria Hill has just been informed that Clint is rogue and the chase begins. We get to see Maria Hill shoot at and chase the bad guy through a tunnel as it falls apart around her. We already knew that Fury and Coulson were bad asses so Whedon gives the audience an introduction by showing us what she can do. Since the script calls for her to be around the main team often, this scene helps establish that she’s every bit as brave as Thor and is willing to sacrifice everything for duty like Captain America.

2) Thor vs. Loki
All of the scenes between these two were good. Thor kept searching for the good man he once knew, happy that he was still alive but angry he was threatening Earth. There was that great scene when they have their reunion and another during the final battle. The story did a fantastic job of continuing that relationship. The scenes between the two of them were intense and heartfelt and made Thor feel more human and believable next to his teammates who also spent some of the film dealing with their own emotional issues (the story did a great job of using all their emotional baggage). It was also a nice touch having Coulson send Jane Foster away because she’s one of the only reasons that Thor would have come back and wouldn’t have made sense if he didn’t want to look in on her.

3) Natasha Romanoff / Bruce Banner relationship
The most surprising bond forms between these two characters. She’s seemingly indifferent toward most character with the obvious exception of Clint. When they first meet, Natasha has enlisted the aid of a small child to lure Bruce out to a shack on the edge of the city. When Bruce asks if they start spies that young, Natasha tells him that she started that young. It’s a moment of uncharacteristic vulnerability that’s revisited during the final battle.

When Bruce arrives he looks around and says all of the destruction looks horrible and Natasha replies, “I’ve seen worse.” Bruce replies with a sincere, “I’m sorry.” For whatever reason, Natasha trusts Bruce and through her tough exterior, Bruce seems to be the only one who can see when she’s being vulnerable.

4) “That man is playing Galaga.”
Any scene with Robert Downey Jr. is guaranteed to be interesting but on his first trip to the helicarrier’s bridge he busts someone playing video games on company time, describes Fury having to turn to see monitors as “exhausting,” tells Hill that he became an expert on nuclear astrophysics last night, and plants a virus that hacks SHIELD’s computer systems.

It’s a great scene because once it seems like no one is looking anymore, the crewmember goes back to playing Galaga. Even in a flying aircraft carrier full of superheroes, a job is still a job and there will always be some slacker playing Galaga.

5) “Suit up.”
Joss sprinkles a lot of subtle things in the scenes that let you know Cap is in charge.

For example, Clint Barton has spent the movie under Loki’s control and has just aided in assaulting the helicarrier which got good men killed (mainly Coulson) and allowed Loki to escape. When Cap discovers where Loki is going to strike, he finds Natasha and asks if she knows how to fly a quinjet. Clint emerges and tells him that he can fly it.

Instead of having a long debate about whether or not he can be trusted, Cap looks at Natasha and she nods. It’s an unspoken question, ‘can we trust him,’ and an unspoken answer, ‘yes.’ Satisfied with Natasha’s judgment, Cap asks if has a uniform then tells him to suit up.

Cap has always been good at knowing who to trust and this scene is a good example of Cap being decisive. Cap is also very quick to put Bruce at ease in their first meeting. Cap talks about his being the man to find the tesseract and Bruce asks if that’s the only thing he’s heard about him. Cap knows what he’s referring to (Bruce being The Hulk) but tells him it’s the only thing he cares about.

"New Edition concert review" or "Best night ever"

“If It Isn’t Love” is my all-time favorite song.

‘Heart Break’ was released in 1988 and it was played a lot at school in cassette decks and in the quad at lunchtime. It was their first album since Bobby Brown left and Johnny Gill joined the group. I was into things like Duran Duran and Madonna back then and hadn’t heard a lot of R&B. It was an amazing song and an incredible album – I was an instant fan.

I remember Junior year of high school I entered a writing contest sponsored by SDSU. There were a few categories you could compete in and I chose ‘personal narrative’ because it was to tell a story in first person (other categories were things like article and report writing and poetry). I won in my category and got a T-shirt and $20. I took that twenty, went to the Warehouse Music (remember those?) down the street from where I lived, and bought “New Edition: Then And Now” on VHS (REMEMBER THOSE??).

I watched that video over and over and added more VHS editions featuring Bell Biv Devoe to my collection including the remix to ‘Word To The Mutha’ which was the first song to unite all six New Edition members (it was from Bell Biv Devoe’s WBBD Bootcity Remix album).

Of course it would be a long time before they’d drop my favorite New Edition album, ‘Home Again.’ They toured for that album and I found out they were playing the Del Mar Fair on the 4th of July but I already had plans (I found out about it less than a week before so tickets were probably already sold out).

Of course it’s been over a decade later and they’re back in San Diego so I bought a ticket when they went on sale and I ended up 3rd row center.

The show was last Thursday, June 14th at 8pm and it was AWESOME!

The DJ warmed up the crowd with snippets of old school hip hop. Then 5 of the six members of New Edition came out and did a few songs before Bobby Brown came out to join them on ‘Hit Me Off.’ Throughout the night, they did songs from when the group and solo hits from Bobby, Johnny, Ralph, and Bell Biv Devoe at random so you never knew what they were going to do next.

Next year is their 30th anniversary and they’re going to try and put out an album and something on blu ray and I can’t wait. I hope they tour to support their next album because I’m going to be there!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

“Happy Birthday To Me” or “My Version of Ghostbusters 3”

I’ve accepted it. There will never be a Ghostbusters 3. Bill Murray was on Letterman a few days ago and explained how tough sequels were for him because they were never as good as the original. Bill Murray keeps shooting scripts down and legally, all three creators need to agree on anything before a movie gets made.

About two months ago, for my birthday, I wanted a commission sketch. I’d been watching a few commission artists on eBay for awhile and I finally decided on purchasing four character sketches from John Johnston (you can find him on eBay by searching title and descriptions or going to I told him about my concept – an all girl cast of Ghostbusters.

When I was forming my concept, I thought about making the members actresses I’d like to see in a new movie. Then I thought about making them characters from TV shows, movies, and comic books. They had to be characters that had ties to the supernatural.

With that in mind, I chose my all-girl, pop-culture team: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Zatanna, Magik (of the New Mutants), and Hermione Granger (from Harry Potter). They are four of my favorite characters and it felt great to put these characters who didn’t share a common universe in the same line-up. And it felt great to see someone else looking awesome in Ghostbuster gear.
 They ain't afraid of no ghosts, vampires, demons, or boggarts.

Justice League - The Movie?

Newarama reported last week that Warner Bros. began reviving plans to bring Justice League to the big screen. They hired screenwriter Will Beall to write a script. I’m not going to go over his pedigree or the quality of what he’s written (because I haven’t seen anything he’s written and a lot of his scripts are for announced projects).

Warner Bros. is going to try and capitalize on the success of The Avengers – and who can blame them? Warner Bros. owns the DC Universe and the DCU offers just as deep a roster of interesting characters as Marvel does. But Marvel had a plan from the beginning to make The Avengers which was obvious at the end of Iron Man when Tony Stark is approached by Nick Fury with something called “The Avengers Initiative.”

Marvel did a lot of things to prepare to team its most iconic characters together but DC doesn’t have to follow that blueprint for a successful Justice League film. Can Warner Bros. pull it off? If their last several films besides the Batman one are any indication - then no. I’m hoping for the best but I won’t be surprised if it never gets made or gets made poorly. Warner Bros. had a great opportunity to work with Joss Whedon on Wonder Woman and decided against it.