Movie Round-Up: August 28th, 2009

Halloween 2:

I still haven’t seen the first Rob Zombie Halloween remake, so I’m not itching to see the sequel.  Perhaps one day I’ll catch up.

The Final Destination:

There is a fairly long tradition of horror movies utilizing 3D, but the old 3D kinda sucked.  RealD, however, works great.  It also helps that The Final Destination didn’t waste much time doing “stupid” 3D tricks like people waving things at the screen… they didn’t need to, because in a movie about people getting killed in insanely intricate traps there are plenty of body parts and death machines to fling at the audience.  Overall, this movie was probably, from a plot standpoint, the worst of the Final Destination series, but the 3D makes the whole film stand out (see what I did there).  The death scenes are just incredibly over the top, and fun to watch unfold.  Well, unless you didn’t like the previous three films.  It is sort of gross, and not for the squeamish.  I’m not sure if the movie is worth $10 ($12 in most places since they charge you extra for the glasses), but seeing this in 3D is really the only worthwhile way to see it, and when it comes to DVD/Blu-Ray it won’t be in RealD 3D but regular 3D which just isn’t as good.  So, yeah, if this sort of movie is something you’d enjoy, go see it at the theater.

Worth Fighting For

One of the things that bothered me a lot while playing World of Warcraft is that most people really just didn’t care.  If you got too many monsters in the same fight, or an elite was just too strong, many people just gave up, took the death and came back.  The penalty for losing was so soft that no one minded, and in fact many relied on it to test the waters.  “Hey, let’s try this! What’s the worst that can happen? Lose a couple minutes and a little money on repairs?”  It added an element of fearlessness to the game, which had its own merit, but in the long run as you come to count on that losing doesn’t hurt, winning doesn’t feel as awesome.  Winning is just something that happens.  Winning, in World of Warcraft, is inevitable.

Meanwhile, back in the dark ages of 3D MMORPGs, death could easily cost you a couple of days worth of experience points if you couldn’t get a cleric to resurrect you.  In some ways, this was bad because people were less likely to try things unless they were pretty sure they had a good shot at winning.  However, a charismatic enough leader could convince just about any group to try anything once.  “I know we don’t have a cleric, but I’ve grouped with this druid before, and we have an enchanter to slow, we’ll be fine!”  That was the basis of some of my most memorable moments in the game.  Five monks and a druid as a group in Old Sebilis, ranger tank in the Plane of Storms, and so on.  But the greatest effect of a stiff death penalty was the will to survive.  If a pull went bad, or a wandering monster joined in your already iffy fight, not one person ever said, “Hey, let’s just die and come back in a couple minutes.”  Instead, the chat window would immediately be filled with chatter about who was tanking what, or what mob was going to get pulled away and rooted, or which mob to focus on as various forms of crowd control were tried.  My memories of EverQuest are filled with moments of healers being out of mana while the group is surrounded by five monsters all mesmerized and the enchanter ensuring us they could hold it while I yelled at the group, “No one touch ANYTHING until the cleric says he’s ready!” and people making sacrifices, “I’ll off tank this, but I can’t last more than a minute or two, if you don’t finish by then, I’ll be dead but I wish you luck with the add.”  I fought many fights where bad agro killed the cleric and the rest of the group fought tooth and nail to stay standing as long as they could.  Failure hurt, but snatching victory from the jaws of defeat felt incredible.

Many people will tell you that harsh death penalties are a thing of the past and that today’s players wouldn’t stand for it, and they are right.  The people who would never play EQ who have flocked to WoW aren’t looking for that sort of risk, just a few odd minutes or hours of entertainment.  But to me, that sort of investment in a game is what I’m looking for.  I want a game worth fighting for.

Movie Round-Up: July 10th, 2009


Did you like Borat?  If so, you’ll probably like Bruno.  Personally, I can’t stand Sacha Baron Cohen.  To me, he’s one of those people who has really funny ideas, but then his execution of them is too long, to the point of become uncomfortable and losing its appeal.  Perhaps that is his intent.  In an event, I won’t be going to see it.  I can only hope that this movie doesn’t produce as many quotes as Borat.

I Love You, Beth Cooper:

Beth Cooper is the head cheerleader.  Denis Cooverman is the invisible nerd who has alphabetically sat behind her in many classes for many years.  And he decides that since he spent all his life not talking to Beth Cooper, that his valedictorian speech at graduation is his last chance to do it.  He also uses the speech as a platform to air a number of other unsaid grievances from his high school days, and the rest of the movie follows the consequences.  Beth and her two best friends show up at Denis’s party (which is just Denis and his best friend Rich), Beth’s military school high strung boy friend shows up, and Beth and Denis and their friends run off together.  Really, there are no surprises here.  Denis is the sort of guy for whom high school sucked and the end of it is the beginning of his life, and Beth is the sort of girl for whom high school rocked and the end of it is leaving her with nothing.  Throughout the night, Beth becomes real for Denis and he has to ease up on the dream image he has built up over the years, and Beth comes to see herself through his eyes and that maybe life after high school won’t be so bad anyway.  The movie is full of crazy happenings and funny moments, and I enjoyed myself all the way through.  Perhaps I Love You, Beth Cooper isn’t worth a full price ticket, but its definitely worth a matinee.

Vampire Zero

Rounding out David Wellington’s vampire trilogy is Vampire Zero.  Unlike his zombie books which were uneven (the three of them were, in order, great, alright and good), the vampire series has been far more consistent.

This time around, our intrepid trooper Laura Caxton is on her own… sort of.  With the events of 99 Coffins behind her, she is now living in the aftermath.  She’s been given her own department within the State Troopers to continue the hunting of the remaining vampires.  She has learned well and knows how to hunt vampires, but these vampires know her as well and they’ll try to outthink her, something vampires aren’t supposed to do.

The body counts here aren’t small, but they are nothing like the last book.  While Caxton tries to tie up her loose ends, Arkeley is trying to tie up loose ends of his own, and its a race to see who gets there first.

I really enjoyed the book, just as much as the previous two, and who knows… there might be a fourth given the way things end.  I know I wouldn’t mind.

Zombie Day at the Mall

It has been a while since I posted something for Zombie Wednesdays, and I hope with this post I am beginning a trend of doing so.

I am, by all accounts, a t-shirt and jeans sort of guy.  T-shirt and shorts in the summer.  I really don’t like dressing up nice because I find most “nice” clothes to be uncomfortable, especially anything with a tie.  Wearing a tie is like voluntarily placing a noose around your neck… but I digress…

Knowing my love for zombies, and probably suspecting my love for t-shirts, a friend of mine sent me a link to this:

Zombie Day at the Mall t-shirt @
Zombie Day at the Mall t-shirt design @ ©

And that is just all kinds of awesome.  As soon as I find a spare twenty bucks, that beauty will be on its way to my door.

Dragon*Con 2008: Day Zero

Before one can go to the Con, one must pick up one’s badge.  This is one of those cases where getting there as early as possible is a fantastic idea.  We didn’t get there so early.  Well, we did, sort of, but we checked into our room and unpacked first.  We shouldn’t have unpacked.  It took an hour and a half to get our badges.  But I hear the wait got up to be over two hours.  Saturday morning will be worse.

But, we got checked in, got our badges, and all is right with the world.

In previous years, Thursday night had always been more about getting a head start on Friday.  You got your registration, your room, and you prepared for the weekend.  Some people and groups would meet up for drinks and that sort of thing, but not a whole heck of a lot.  In recent years that has been changing, and this year Thursday night was Fan Party Night.  As I walked around the host hotels, I saw many large gatherings, but nothing beat the fan group from Battlestar Galactica who met up on the 10th floor of the Marriott.  They we big and loud and pounding shots.  Sadly, having to work in the morning I left early.  I hear there were push up contests and other revelry until quite late.

Next year…

The Rocker

11 out of 13 nots
for making me want to start a rock band

The Rocker is the story of Robert ‘Fish’ Fishman.  He was the drummer in a rock band named Vesuvius, until he was kicked out.  Twenty years later, his nephew’s band needs a drummer to play their prom gig.  From there we follow Fish as he is once again in a band on the rise.

When I first heard about this movie, I was worried it was going to be ninety minutes of “the old guy” being crazy and gross before ending with some sort of heart warming ending.  Thankfully, while there are some crazy gross old guy moments they are few, and the movie is genuinely funny.

I really enjoyed it alot, and I suppose it helps that I am already a fan of Teddy Geiger, so I liked the music quite a bit.

Definitely worth seeing.

Tropic Thunder

10 out of 13 nots.
for kicking Hollywood in the gonads

I am sure by now, unless you live under a rock, you have heard about the controversy surrounding Tropic Thunder.  Ben Stiller’s character of Tugg Speedman portrayed a mentally disabled boy in a movie called Simple Jack.  Yes, the character of Jack is rife with stereotypes of the cognitively challenged… but that’s sort of the point.  Tugg took the part of Jack in a blatant attempt to show that he was more than an action star and to try to nab Oscar gold.  Tropic Thunder is not about Jack, its about Tugg, who himself is a stereotypical action star, doing what we, the audience, already consider to be fairly tasteless (blatant Oscar bid films) and taking it to the extreme.  Much the same way that Robert Downey Jr.’s Kirk Lazarus is taking actors who physically transform themselves for their craft to the extreme (he gets his skin dyed so that he, a white actor, can portray a black man).  Every character in the film is a caricature of people who exist in the real Hollywood, and it is really funny.

However, to every person out there… this movie is rated R for a reason.  Take it seriously.  And its not just for the swearing (of which there is a lot), or the blood and gore (or which there is plenty), or nudity (which there isn’t any, unless you count Jack Black in his underwear), it is also because, unless you are a person who can discern the difference between a joke and not a joke (like, for instance, kids), this movie might be extremely offensive… to everyone.  But hey, if you can take a joke, and if you can separate having a laugh from having a world outlook, this movie is a hoot.

Of course, we could always ban jokes about the mentally disabled… and other disabled people… and blacks, and jews, and fat people, and skinny people, and business people, and homeless people, and normal people.  We could ban all those jokes… but then all we would have left are knock-knock jokes, and not very many of those at that.  Remember, for every movie you think isn’t funny, there is a movie you think is hilarious that someone else thinks isn’t funny.  Even Finding Nemo makes fun of people who have memory problems…

Meet Dave

8 out of 13 nots.
for being better than I expected it to be

Eddie Murphy was once a foul mouthed comedian.  He used to make rated R movies.  But a few years back he stumbled into a gold mine of family oriented Disney films.  Meet Dave is another one.

Honestly, I went into this movie expecting it to be a pile of crap, or at least another bland family film that I knew would make money but wouldn’t interest me at all.  Instead, I was pleasantly surprised.  Meet Dave was funny, genuinely funny.  Sort of a mix between Galaxy Quest and Starman, it is about aliens who travel to Earth in a giant space ship that looks like a human.  This is because they are about an inch tall, so the human shaped ship also doubles as an android allowing them to move through the population unnoticed.  They have come because they are planning to suck the oceans dry and take all the salt in order to save their own world.  Of course, on the way to destroying our planet, they learn that maybe we aren’t so bad and might just be worth saving.

Anyway, I enjoyed it… I don’t think I would ever pay $10 to see it in the theater, but I would absolutely throw it in the rental queue on Netflix.