Just like everyone else here I'm a twenty something nerd who enjoys video games. It wasn't really until I was about fourteen that I really started getting into games and other mediums. As a kid my folks never bought me video games, let me watch movies, or enjoy tv and "most" music so I lived a terribly dull nonexistence. For years I had been skimming along by sneaking over to friends houses and the occasional visit to my uncles who had an original Famicom. Thankfully that all changed and I've been overdosing on everything I can get my hands on since.
Sadly I'm not rich so as much as I love video games I can only play so many so often. However movies and tv happen to be a little cheaper. I believe that all current mediums in our culture cross reference each other whether it be good or bad. Games influence movies, movies influence tv, tv acknowledges that video games exist every once and a while.
Honestly I really enjoy this community and just want to contribute what I can.
For nearly a century filmmakers have been trying to take stories from other mediums and turn them movies. Of course movies have been turned into books and video games based off of movies have plagued us at every corner. This past decade has littered with films desperately trying to grasp at the honey pot that games have a firm grip on. But like a four year old who doesn’t know what a bee sting feels like they keep grabbing the sweet goodness without thinking it through. Naturally most of the problem is that studio’s rarely put any faith or real talent behind the films based off of video games. Now we have Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time starring Jake Gyllenhaal and directed by Mike Newell.
The 2003 game is an incredible mix of fantasy and action that catches the imagination with it’s cinematic style. The film also tries to capture this same mix with varied degree’s of success. For the first thirty minutes the film follows the plot of the game almost too the letter, but after that the film decides to take a left turn at Albuquerque which ends up being a good thing. Instead of focusing entirely on a small set of events within a castle like the game the film decides to look outside the walls and explore the landscape as well as the characters that inhabit it.
Donnie Darko plays the hero of this tale, the prince Dastan, which was jarring at first. Gyllenhaal as an actor seemed awkward in the role, but over time you no longer think of actor but of the character. Just like the game the Prince begins the film being arrogant and naive, and as with the game we watch his character grow. By the end of the film we see the change in him as he is forced to look at his own actions and the consequences that put him in a dangerous situation. Gyllenhaal plays it by the numbers and does his job to a fault.
But what’s a prince with out a princess? A really boring film, so we are given the stunning Gemma Arterton. Sadly she is given some of the worst dialogue in the film. The Princess’s role is too give exposition and there is plenty to give. Arterton does her best by playing not so much a princess but a sort of nun tasked with a great secret. And although her approach helped the role to become tolerable she still felt like ExpositionLady trying to save the day even when we didn’t need it.
Thankfully Ben Kinsley gives us a villain a little bit more memorable than the game. In the game the Vizier showed up at the beginning acting all evil and then showed up at the end to pull off his evil plan only to be thwarted by the Prince. But here Kinsley actually uses his acting skills for once and downplays the evil of his character masterfully. Never forget this is a big summer action flick so near the end of the film Kinglsy hams it appropriately and maybe a little too much at times. At all times we understand what he is trying to accomplish giving the film real stakes unlike a lot of films that never communicate what might actually happen if the bad guy wins.
But sadly the actors seemed tied to the script. This film travels at a break neck speed and never lets up and for the most part the dialogue is not that great. Very rarely are there any slow moments and when there are it’s usually the princess wheeling out her white board of explaining things making sure that everyone knows what‘s going on. Other than that the film demands the audience to keep it at fifty five miles per hour. There are a couple of scenes when everything is fine and within a few moments all hell breaks loose with an explanation why it broke loose in the middle of the chaos. Then on the other hand there is an extended scene of assassin’s flipping, kicking, and fighting each other is menacing ways just in case we didn’t know what an assassin was. A quick side note: for a moment I thought they where tying the Prince of Persia world to the Assassin’s Creed world, you be the judge.
As an audience member I never felt bored by the film. There is plenty of action to go around at every turn. The film opens with a huge Lord of the Rings battle scene. And although the CG isn’t really up to par it fit into the fantasy world they eventually establish. However at other times the green screening does get a little noticeable which is sad since the Prince moves so with such weight and speed you find yourself really getting involved with every jump, slide, and punch. But this film’s bread and butter is the fighting and Gyllenhaal really sells it. Even the group of assassin’s get there own little moments either fighting the Prince himself or in any of the dozen or so action scenes. And all the action sequences have something interesting in them. From the Prince’s parkor kung-fu to a really cool knife throwing fight near the end of the film, hell there is even a ostrich race in this film that is hysterical to watch.
In conclusion the film is good, not great but good. It’s a fun ride that doesn’t completely talk down to it’s audience and provides some spectacular action. But the interesting part of this film is the relation it has to the game. Within ten minutes the film rips full action and puzzle moments straight from the game. Various other films have tried similar troupes. The one that comes to mind the most is the POV shot from the Doom film which was ambitious but ultimately failed. However in this film it works. We see the Gyllenhaal’s prince work out the puzzle in his head and complete that task just as a gamer would sitting in front of puzzle in the game.
While the 2003 game takes place within a giant castle filled with enemies, traps, and a variety of environments, the film borrows heavily from that but doesn’t completely dwell on what made the game successful. Like any good adaptation they took what they needed from the source material and added on to that to making a successful film. This is the trap that nearly all other video game to movie adaptations have had. They either focus entirely on the concepts of the game or completely throw that book out the window and use the license to sell their product. The film Prince of Persia is capable of standing on it’s own and at no point does the audience need any knowledge that the game exists. At no point does the film scream out that it was a video game for perhaps a single moment early in the film.
The film is completely passable and mainstream audience will most likely eat it up. So I’m pretty confident that this is the best video game film to date. At no point did I ever groan at the film which is more than I can say for any other adaptation of this nature. The film never surprises but as a big action film it’s a good time and a great family film .
42 - The Best EVER!
Heart of gold - Really loved it
Milliways - A good time A towel - Average
A Pan Galatic Gargle Blaster - Not much fun
Vogon Poetry - Hated it
Throughout the years Saturday Night Live has been a staple of comedy on television. Since the mid seventies SNL has provided ageless jokes and catered to the breeding grounds of up and coming comics. And since the late seventies the writers and actors of the show have tried to turn their five minute skits into ninety minute movies. Jump started with the amazing Blues Brothers the library of films to have come out from SNL have been less than stellar. And the minds behind MacGruber have a uphill battle to not disappointment faithful fans and audiences.
First up this film is firmly set in the comedy category and I believe one’s enjoyment of comedic films is directly related to their specific sense of humor. And I will go ahead and say that the highest praise that you can give a comedy film is by laughing, and I did laugh. Which is strange since my favorite comedies are not interested in having a joke every three seconds. A film needs plot, character development, and not have the fear to add tragedy. MacGruber has very little of the first two and none of the tragedy. However there all long segments in the film that I never stop laughing which is more than I can say for many comedies coming out nowadays. Now make no mistake this movie is filled toilet humor and as many jokes as you can stuff into a pickle jar. So the question is what does this low brow film make a high brow audience member like me actually enjoy this film. Delivery.
Will Forte plays the title character to near perfection. MacGruber is, at a surface level, a spoof off of the television character MacGyver, but other than that they share nearly no similarities. The character is more interested in looking badass, in his own mind, and saving the day to get the chicks. Not to mention the occasional throat ripping. And even though the film does have a little bit of a rough start the moment you sync with MacGruber’s personality and “charm” he becomes instantly funnier. Forte knows the character like the back of hand which translates to a fully realized character on screen. Unlike even Wayne and Garth from perhaps the second best SNL movie, MacGruber is not a one note character. He has his highs and lows, knows his element and screws up in ways that make sense to the character that has been established. The end result? A main character that is a complete moron, klutz, and oblivious but yet completely hysterical.
For the most part this extends to the rest of the cast. Kristen Wiig plays Victoria St. Elmo with as much care as Forte. She is the Robin to MacGruber’s Batman and is as sweet and caring as MacGruber is crude and spontaneous. Ryan Philippe plays the straight man and is actually the biggest disappointment in the film. Most of the time he feels like he is just watching the scene enfold around him and says his line when asked. But a really nice surprise comes from Val Kilmer who plays MacGruber arch villain Cunth. Sadly his name is played as a joke for most of the film and is the biggest joke that falls flat on its face. However Kilmer plays the character without blinking an eye. He balances chewing the scenery with a calm demeanor making him perhaps one of the more memorable comic villains I have ever seen.
In the end, the description of the best SNL movie since Wayne’s World is completely true. But the hill that MacGruber had to climb to earn that title is less steep than a prairie mound in the middle of the Sahara. By no means does the film try to make its characters learn a lesson at the end of the day but there is enough to ground the characters in a certain reality. Which makes all the difference when dealing with such low brow humor. MacGruber may not be one of the great comedy films of our time but you’ll have fun. Whether or not the film holds up on repeat viewings I do not know. It does rely on the initial shock of most of its jokes and when you can see the punch line coming I’m sure it will get dull. But that first watch is a damn good time.
Over the past ten years director Ridley Scott has had a very distinctive career formula. Starting with the award winning epic “Gladiator” Scott has gone from epic period piece to smaller drama based films like “Matchstick Men.” And lately people have started to believe that the man who gave us “Blade Runner,” “Alien,” and the before mentioned “Gladiator” is suffering from diminishing returns. Maybe they are right with his new film “Robin Hood” or maybe Scott is willing to against the grain that today’s Hollywood has established.
From the very beginning of “Robin Hood,” like many of Scott’s epics, it sets it’s self up to be a sweeping classical film. And throughout the its runtime it is able to maintain that feel for the most part. But like many epics we are left little time with each of the characters. Scott does try to correct this with some early character moments the Robin’s merry men and some decent humor. But the audience is given little time with basic cast of Robin, Little John, Will Scarlett, and Allan A’Dayle together as a team. Instead of a group we are given three side kicks and they are played as exactly that. The actors try their very best to give of their characters as much of an individual personality as possible but the film breaks down to giving them all the same joke to play off of. It may have been a different situation if each of them where given a hero moment in any of the large battles but the most the audience receives is watching Little John beating some one to death with his axe.
Of course the film isn’t called The Merry Men but Robin Hood, and this is the biggest downfall of the film. In popular culture Robin Hood is known as a jolly adventurer who does his best to help those less fortunate. He is a selfless hero that audiences have related to for centuries to do his wit and charm. Sadly much of that is missing in Scott and Crowe’s incarnation of the legendary figure. Crowe plays Robin more like a lost soul searching for his place in a world filled with war than a quick witted man trying to do the right thing. And screen writer Brain Helgoland isn’t even curious in creating a legend out of a man with no home. Instead he just dumps situations on Robin’s lap and has the character play out the situation since he doesn’t have any other real choice.
Now since this film is called Robin Hood everything above is a real problem with the film. The name holds a certain weight in the public’s subconscious. But that’s not the film Scott wanted to make. The name being thrown around by people is “Robin Hood Begins” which is more apt but the name of Robin Hood doesn’t really belong at all. Any resemblance of the character doesn’t show up until very late in the film. Up to that point the runtime is filled with political maneuvering between the newly crowned King John, the obviously evil Godfrey and the lords of England headed by William Marshal played by the seemly absent William Hurt. The character of Robin Hood does play his part but again it isn’t until late in the film.
The entire film feels like a set up to create the environment that the character of Robin Hood can actually exist in. And under the circumstances for that to take place do feel natural and makes sense. Scott uses established notions of the Robin Hood legacy and twisted them in a way that made them feel real and exist in 12th century logic(except for one glaring plot hole in spoiler territory). In most tellings of the Robin Hood story we are told that King John is evil and never shown. However here the audience is show in extreme detail that King John is a wimp and a douche.
Many people will walk away feeling robbed by this film. In my screening alone about a dozen people walked out half way through. And it’s all because Ridley Scott was not out to make a traditional Robin Hood film. This is an epic filled with a variety of characters all given their own motivations and subplots and not just about the creation of Robin Hood. This isn’t just Robin story but a story about the early strife’s and hardships of the English people. Maid Marion, played by Cate Blanchett, is the biggest example of this. Her husband was sent to war and never returned leaving her with an elderly father-in-law and an entire township to look after. The threat of taxation and starvation continually looms over her. Her people are desperate for some one to stand up for them. Enters Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
Does the film live up to Scotts previous works? Not really but it does say that he is a solid old fashion director. If this film came out fifty years ago it might have been regarded as an American classic. The pacing, character development, and large scale are all there they just don’t work with modern audiences. With Iron Man 2 still in theatre’s, giving us superheroes, and Shrek 4 giving middle America their generic laughs per minute Scott’s Robin Hood will be quickly forgotten. It does everything a classic film would do and nothing truly new.
This week I do have to say that I had a lot of fun on this episode. One of the goals of this show is to capture some of the insane conversations that we have. And so far we have succeeded on some levels but this week we went all out.
The big news for us in gaming was of course the announcement of Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The second game in the series means a lot to me since it was my first introduction to the Marvel Universe. And even though I have never been that great at fighting games I continually play them, living out the fantasies of watching these characters battle to the death. Hopefully the roster is large and varied. I honestly believe that if Frank West doesn't show up I will be greatly disappointed. West's disappearance from the Dead Rising franchise is also why I don't care that much for the next Dead Rising and I'm curious why people don't care. In other gaming news we do touch on Ubisofts cracked DRM.
As always there is plenty of film news to go around. The new Alien films will be in 3d which makes me sad. The Car is a great post Jaws film that everyone should check out for some cheesy fun. But lastly the most grim news has come upon us. The Bond franchise, at least for now, seems to have gone defunct. MGM can't pay it's bills so we may never get to see Daniel Craig play Bond again. Of course this has sparked my nostalgia for Bond so I will be renewing my marathon with reviews of each film in sequential order starting with Dr. No. More to come on that.
Last on the agenda is our reviews of The Losers. I will say that we are much kinder to the film that almost everyone else out there. And honestly I don't understand where the hate is coming from. I didn't think it was spectacular but why all the hate?
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Welcome to this weeks podcast and oh we have a kickass episode for you here. First up we jump straight into Splinter Cell talk. So far I'm loving the game. Thankfully I had some training in Arkam Asylum so the concept of action stealth is not foriegn to me. However I did play Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory so it took some adjusting to the new image of Splinter Cell. In the old games they encourage you to go around and never be seen or even kill any one for that matter. However in Conviction they mechanics of the game support the player into killing everyone in the room. Is this a bad thing? No, of course not but it is the alienation of older players and the hope to appeal to the lesser hardcore crowd. The word "casual" still does not apply to Conviction. In other game news I mention that I am once again addicted to Katamari. I need help.
In the world of Television Holden explains his love of the new show Ugly Americans as I am underwhelmed by Jusified and V.
Jumping into news Starcraft gets an AO rating in Korea and I try to wrap my head around how people need to play a game so bad that they physically die. Meanwhile Sony hates the Green Hornet and Joss Whedon gets to rewrite Avengers. We finish up news with a public service announcement about Net Neutrality.
We reviewed the film Kick-Ass obviously and actually have one of our best discussions yet about the film and what it is saying about superheroes and our current modern world. Enjoy.
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This is a very special episode this week because we finally have a theme song. We also have a little outro as well but it isn't vastly different than the intro. Not to mention the ten minutes that I spent on it. The music was provided by Newgrounds user TheUprising1, which we thank him greatly for and you can go straight to his page using the link, and I just slapped some movie quotes on top of it. Make a game of trying and figure out where all the quotes come from and post them in the comments. It'll be fun!
Of course we did actually talk about things. First up was a mildly indepth conversation about Ikaruga. Holden has been playing this game for years and I just got into it recently. I've been really enjoying it even though I can barely get through the first world.
The rest of the episode contains some updates on TV shows like Chuck, Carnivale, and the crowd favorite Doctor Who. Once we move into news however it's pretty much comic book news until the trailer and movie reviews.
The trailers was an interesting mix of girl movies and guy movies and we even touch on that a little bit right before we move into the review of Date Night.
Remember you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and subscribe to us on iTunes