Wednesday, December 31, 2008

More Holiday movie watching

I got my lovely wife the film Hot Fuzz for Christmas since she really liked Shaun of the Dead. Instead of turning the zombie genre on its head, Hot Fuzz turns the cop comedy genre on its head. That being said, this is not simply a film full of one-liners and big explosions. There are some slightly grisly scenes in there, more at home in a zombie film than in the action movies that Hot Fuzz tries to make fun of. Without spoiling too much, I can say that the bad guy is very bad, and the camera tends to show more than it hides.

I know, this movie has been out for a while, but like Shaun of the Dead, it's going to take time for everyone that should have watched this movie to see it. What I'd really like to be able to say is that the next time Edgar Wright makes a movie with Simon Pegg, if we liked these other two we should all see it right away because it's going to be brilliant and gory and hillarious - but the mere act of typing it may curse that somehow. By the way, that film is tenatively titled The World's End.

Simon Pegg will next be appearing in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek film, due out in 2009 as our favorite engineer Scotty. As much as I liked reading about this in the trade magazines, and as much as I would love to love a Star Trek movie again, I saw some trailers that filled me with hype, not hope. At least I can be sure that it won't be worse than Nemesis as I am certain that that is a mathematical impossibility.

Next post: Holiday Game Wrapup (If all of them are unwrapped...)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Movie Blowout

As most of you know, there are only two things that you can count on being open on Christmas Day. One of them is the movie theater, and the other is Chinese restaurants. Sure, there might be a few other places open - I know some pizza places were - but it's not a given. I didn't really feel like Chinese food today, so we went to see The Tale of Despereaux.

My oldest son was excited to see it, and wanted to wait until we could all go even though he could have gone earlier in the week since school is out. Frankly, I was happy to go to the movies since I can't really remember what the last thing I saw in the theater was. (Cars? Monster House? Well, I know I've seen at least a few movies in the theater since we've had kids.)

We were initally nervous because the reviews that we read gave the movie poor scores and complained a bit about that there were too many characters to follow. We were also prepped for the reviewers to dislike the movie by the fact that our oldest was reading the book that this moive was made from at school, and the teacher handed him a worksheet to fill out about the differences between the book and the movie. Clearly, the book had been changed a little to accomodate a screenplay. I always expect that to happen because of the intrinsic differences between books and movies. Usually, since changes have to be made, and they weren't the ones that the reviewer would have made, there's going to be several reviewers handing out bad scores purely because of a lack of objectivity. As far as the too many characters part, I didn't think that there were any more characters to follow than some ensemble comedies. Granted, those are for adults, but since my oldest son didn't have any problem with all of the characters then I have to assume that the reviewer needed something simpler to watch, like Waiting for Godot or perhaps some off-Broadway one person show.

I enjoyed the film for what it was and was not encumbered by having to compare it to the book.

On the other hand, we watched the Speed Racer movie after dinner - and I have no idea what someone unfamiliar with the source material would think of the movie. It was very much like watching a video game during most of the action sequences and jumped into flashback quite frequently in the first part of the film. I'm thinking that someone that never saw the original cartoon has no clear idea what is happening until about 30 minutes in, and it's still dodgy at that point.

Now I'm going to go shoot zombies parasite-infested villagers zombies.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pikmin, and other things

Over the course of the last week, I improved my scores on three of the Challenges on Pikmin after no improvement for a month. This brings up several questions.
  • Why am I not playing something on the Wii instead of a Gamecube game from seven years ago?
  • Whatever happened to playing RE4 Mercenaries mode?
  • Didn't I have to start Zelda:Twilight Princess again becuase my save got erased?

The short versions are, I like Pikmin too much, I have to play through RE4:Wii at least once to open up Mercs again, and I did play at least a little Zelda today while the little guy was asleep.

The real qustion for me is, how much longer can I expect to improve at Pikmin without just copying what someone else has in their Pikmin strategy guide? I have been making some effort to be consistent in how I do things, but some things happen differently every time you play, and sometimes stuff just doesn't go right. I improvise, and I'm willing to do that. Maybe I should just be happy with that since I don't want to get in the habit of only having one way to do it and resetting the console every time it doesn't go that way.

Before I played Zelda today, I also took a swing at Chapter 3-1 in RE4:Wii, and screwed up royally (twice) before going back to Zelda. The thing that I noticed about Pikmin and Zelda today is that the controls are so natural that repeated playthroughs get better just because of the increased familiarity with the controls. Of course knowing where everything is helps, too. I'm finding with going from Gamecube RE4 to Wii RE4 is that playing through the initial scenario again is almost like starting over, since the controls are different enough to screw me up. (If I were a righty, however, I would notice no control difference at all.) I do really want to get back to playing Mercenaries mode, but usually when the living room TV is available people are sleeping. I could play during the day, but only if no one is watching - can't have the kids getting scared of zombies parasite-infested villagers.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chicago politics is corrupt? This is not news.

As disappointing as it was to see that the Governor of Illinois was attempting to sell President Elect Obama's vacated Senate seat, it was even more disappointing to see how many people across the internet had to jump in and make comments about how this reflected on our future president. Even though it seemed clear to me that Gov. Rod Blagojevich was only acting in his own self-interest and cared little about who actually ended up with the Senate seat, it was sad to see comments around the internet calling them "Democratic crooks" trying to lump the governor in with the President-Elect.

If Barack Obama had been involved in Illinois' corrupt political machine, wouldn't every other candidate have called him out on the character issue immediately? It's not like this is unknown to the rest of the country. If I hear people make jokes about "Vote Early, Vote Often" or things like "I'd like to move to Chicago right before I die so that I can stay active in politics", then I think that a fair portion of the rest of the nation is aware of Chicago's seedy political history.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Orange Mountain Dew!

I managed to obtain some Mountain Dew LiveWire on the way back from Thanksgiving - even though I don't really like being in the big box stores on Black Friday. I hope that the person I got it for appreciates it. I had some myself, and it wasn't exactly what I remembered. I'm sure that the problem is what I remembered was the frozen concoction that Target had a couple of summers ago in their ICEE machine, which usually is a little more hi-test than the soda itself.