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Malik (5/29/07)  

I'm now back from a long weekend. Usually, a long weekend would entail a lot of gaming, but this one was primarily of me being constructive in real world types of ways. I helped to build a fence with my father and then started work on building a raised garden for myself (nothing like the joys of growing food for nearly nothing when stores charge outrageous prices).

I did catch a couple of movies, however. Most importantly, I saw the third, and supposedly final, Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Well, without much hesitation I have to say that third movies in trilogies or franchises have not treated me all that well. True, LotR did fine with Return of the King, but most other third movies have killed my will to trust certain franchises anymore. Matrix, Spider-Man, Batman, X-Men...the list goes on for a while. However, each of these, and many other franchises, have led to the third movie being the true downfall of the franchise. Luckily, there are a few that find new life in new hands (Batman Begins) with time, but most just wallow in their demise and some are always remembered for how they ended so unceremoniously.

Pirates did this quite horrendously. For one thing, the plot made no real sense. Each person betrayed every other person in the movie a good half dozen times, but everyone would find their "respected" end by the time the final credits rolled. Most notable for me was Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), who betrayed each other major player at every possible chance, and then could still be trusted in the end by the "good guys". How did he re-gain their trust? Just by smiling and nodding. It's like Saddam Husain in the South Park movie, but with less singing and actually being trusted the whole movie by just hinting that he could "change".

The only real moments of joy I had the whole movie was when it was either many versions of Johnny Depp on the screen at one moment (split personality psychosis type of scenes) and when....

Spoilers present ahead...spoilers for a very bad movie and a very sappy scene...

Will Turner was stabbed and dying. The scene was mildly entertaining on it's own, since I spent the whole movie wanting to see him stabbed (but not with me in the spirit of the movie). What made it glorious was the reaction of a few teenage girls sitting next to my brother-in-law. They forgot that it's no longer 2002 (when Orlando was "sooo dreamy"), and one of them cried out in terror as he was stabbed. I think she actually started to cry. That type of reaction would be like seeing someone cry when Neo dies in the third Matrix movie. The mood of the movie would imply that one should be sad, but the ridiculous script and horrible lack of entertainment would make a more convincing argument to give the movie more of the MST3K treatment.

While the crying out for the precious Will Turner/Orlando Bloom would normally be out of place and pathetic, this did serve to give me more entertainment than anything else in the whole movie. It, on it's own, almost made the movie worth the price of admission...almost. I don't think my $9 were properly spent, but I got about $5 worth of it back from that wonderful moment as I thought to myself, "is this for real or is someone just making fun of the bad acting and predictable scene? No! It's real! Those are real cries and those are real reactions!" If the movie had not been boring me so badly, I probably would've fallen to the floor in laughter.

Anyway, I guess I should stop talking about this horrible movie. I was one of the few who stood up for the second Pirates movie, since it was more of a introduction that was supposed to make the third movie all that much more amazing. However, after how badly the third movie turned out (and all of the plot holes...why did Calisto do nothing real for revenge? Why is Will Turner, in the end, separated from what's-her-name since she's now the "King of the Pirates" and could always find Will again by sailing around? Are they expecting to make a fourth movie with how obvious of a cliffhanger that ending was supposed to be? Do they expect me to pay to see said fourth movie?), I have to now change my vote for the second movie. The second and third both sucked...but the second was bad merely by association.

Well, time to try wrap up this rambling post and do some constructive work.


Malik (5/30/07)  

To continue my theme of yesterday, some more movie talk...

There are some plans to make the new/upcoming Stranglehold game into a movie. All I can say is; f#@$ yeah! Considering how most video game movies (ok, "all video game movies") are nothing more than a complete waste of film, I would normally be against anything that could promote a new video game based movie. However, considering Stranglehold is a sequel, in game format, of Hard Boiled (one of John Woo's best movies and also one of Chow Yun Fat's best movies) I think I could accept this decision...if it comes to light.

John Woo and Chow Yun Fat, as of late, have both gone the Hollywood route with a lot of half assed flicks that bore me to death (in particular, Chow Yun Fat's latest film...Pirates 3). However, if they both returned to their Hong Kong roots with a collaboration of this style, I would not be in the least bit disappointed. However, I would have to insist that the original super shotgun (if you've seen Hard Boiled, then you know what one I'm speaking of...the infinite ammo machine of doom) of the Hard Boiled hospital fire fight comes back for a co-starring role.

I think, if more games go this path, of being actual sequels of movies and using their original talent in the games, then it only makes sense for the better ones to have a shot at returning to the silver screen. I just hope that two things occur; that Stranglehold is both an awesome game and that it becomes a movie that has equal footing with Hard Boiled. I don't think that's asking too much.

On the note of movies, I'm going back towards Pirates 3 for a second. There will be some spoilers, so if you don't want a bad movie spoiled, or if you don't want a realistic interpretation of this stink-fest, then you can check back tomorrow for a new post.

It's bad enough that Pirates 3 ended with an obvious cliffhanger approach that says that a fourth movie is possible. The first movie was great, but the second and third took the obvious Hollywood blockbuster approach. By that, I mean there were predictable plot holes, a plot that did not answer all of the questions it posed to the audience, and a lot of cheesy special effects were used to cover it's lame attempt at making a movie. In fact, this is what I like to refer to as the "American audience treatment". All flair and no substance.

My big complaint, beyond how Calipso did not serve any purpose (despite being the main focus of the third movie's plot...seriously, WTF?), was that lame half sad ending of how Will Turner and what's-her-face (Kira Knightly's character) had to separated for ten years at a time. That made no sense. I mean the obvious thing would have been that if she was trapped on land, then Will (who was stuck on the sea for ten years at a stretch) could not see her. But she is now the king of the pirates, and thus she has free reign to the seas. That means that he could hop aboard her ship at anytime to get a little hot nookie action. Also, she could hop aboard his ship in the same way.

The only problem is them finding each other. Well, we don't know for sure if Will Turner could pilot the Flying Dutchman (his ship) to any ship at will or if he can only find ships where people have died. However, if it's the second, and more restricting, of these options, then all she needs to do is keep a group of red-shirts on board. Feeling in the mood for some...errr...companionship from her undead husband? Then slaughter one of these gimps and Will will find her to ferry the lost soul to the underworld. At which time, he would have an nice opportunity for...err...some loving.

Maybe it's more morbid than Disney would want things to be, but then again, pirates were not so nice and cuddly in real life. How about Disney injects a little realism into this franchise with the pointless sacrifice in the name of sex? I know I'd have no problem...since it would be the least of my complaints about any future Pirates movie.

...and for records sake, in case I must say it more clearly; I hated Pirates 3 and I wish I had my $10 back as well as my long and drawn out 3 hours.


Malik (5/31/07)  

I'm glad to see that a Naruto RPG will finally be coming to the US. With how Naruto is becoming the next DBZ (in terms of games...the anime is, in my humble opinion, far better than the constant struggle to have the highest "power level" that DBZ is), it's nice to see that the other side of Naruto games will be coming along. If Naruto: Path of a Ninja for the DS is anything like the old GBA Naruto RPGs (only in Japan) were, it's a fun diversion to say the least.

I finally had some time last night to play games again. The heat in Seattle tied past records for high temperatures, and I felt like that was enough of an excuse to get out of doing some back-breaking labor in the sun for one day. So, I went back to my current flavor of the...well, I've played too much Oblivion to call it any "flavor of the" type of thing.

I really think that my first round through Oblivion was a complete waste. The 360 version, as well as the PS3 version, is just a bad way to play this game. The core game is just not worth diverting more than a few hours into. It's only with a good PC and a lot of mods that Oblivion can really stand out as more than "just another first person RPG". The mods just offer too much from the realm of quests, monsters (nothing like the dozens upon dozens of new foes found in the MMM and OOO mods), spells (especially the Midas spell mod), and improvements to the user interface (BT Mod for the win).

Looking back at my reviews, I can see that I never did get around to writing a full review of Oblivion. Considering that this was over a year ago, I can't recall what I was really thinking in not writing one. Maybe I felt like the game was too expansive (doubtful), not worth my time (possible), or that I needed to give the real game (PC version) a chance instead of basing my opinions on a half-assed 360 version (doubtful, but in the end, it's the best answer). So, who knows...I still don't see myself writing a review for this game, even for the PC version, since it's been out for so long (over 14 months). However, it might be worth my time to give a mini-review that goes more into what mods are needed to make the game solid. Maybe some sort of mod review or mod guide.

In the end, however, I can say that Oblivion is a far better game than the one I bitched about so much during the final days of my 360 time with it. It's just sad that, while Morrowind was good in it's core structure, Oblivion just is not as good of a game without the user made mods. While that's true of Morrowind as well, it's not true on the same level. Morrowind was able to give me a good 80 hours of enjoyment (I only stopped playing because my HDD crashed...with all of my Morrowind saves) without any real issues. Meanwhile, Oblivion only gave me about 20 hours before I stopped having fun. Then it gave me about 60 more long and boring hours...on the core game.

Well, I'm hot and dehydrated. Summer has come to Seattle (for one week) a little early. So, my brain is not running all that well. I am more of a cold person, and despite what many may think, Seattle does get hot from time to time. It's not as bad as a lot of other places, but it hits hard since strong levels of heat will be surrounded by incredibly cold and wet days (no time for adjustment, and when you finally get used to it, it's cold again). So, I'll stop my ramblings here for today. Anyway, I have some hard labor to do in my yard, which is bound to overheat a few of my functioning brain cells.


Malik (6/1/07)  

To go off about movies once again this week, I feel like I have a grievance against a certain big player in Hollywood that I need to air. I'm talking about Quentin Tarantino.

While Tarantino once represented a great level of dedication and quality in his more indy style of films, it feels like he's starting to turn into a pimp (not in the slang "good" way) who's staple of whores would be some greatly loved films. True, he gave us some of the best movies of the last couple of decades. Reservoir Dogs was brilliant. Pulp Fiction was a great film. Jacky Brown was a little off from his usual style, but it was still an amazing movie. Even From Dusk Till Dawn was great (ok, the first hour was great and the last half of the movie was complete garbage). Kill Bill even did a pretty good job, despite not living up to his earlier films' expectations. Then there's the forgotten True Romance, which was one of his best jobs as a writer (like the scene when Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken face off in a battle of of the best scenes from any movie).

With time, however, the quality of his films has gone down. It's not to say that he can't still make a good movie (I heard good things about Grindhouse...even though I've yet to see it since I just didn't have the time when it was showing locally). He still makes a good film from time to time...just not up to the standards and high bar set by his films of the 1990's.

What he's doing that's pissing me off if attaching his name to everything. Tarantino has money and he's not afraid to show it off. For example, last night I saw an add for Hostel 2. The first thing to pop up on screen was "Presented by Quentin Tarantino" in giants letters. Then, by the end of the commercial, Eli Roth (who is the man behind Hostel 1 and 2 and is both writer and director of both films) has his name show tiny letters. If I didn't know better, I would assume that Eli Roth merely wrote a book that Hostel 2 was based upon and it was Tarantino who made the film.

Another example is Hero. Hero, the Jet Li film, was a major success in Hong Kong. It was a success throughout most of the world for it's amazing style and interesting plot (not to mention awesome fight scenes). The movie started being imported to the US. It had a cult following in the US for several months before it nearly broke into a mainstream movie. That's when Tarantino decided to pimp out this new "whore" to the masses. Next thing you know, the movie is heading towards a US theatrical release. That's good. However, I know of some people who do not care for Tarantino's work, and these same people skipped watching Hero the first time around because of how his name was bigger and more pronounced that the real talent behind Hero on the commercials and trailers.

Hero is not the only example of this, but I think it's a great one, none-the-less, to exemplify what Tarantino is doing. It's great that he wants to bring us some of the unheard of import films and to help bring more movies to the general public. However, seeing Tarantino's name in larger print that the real talent is ungratifying of him to the real talent behind these movies. The casual moviegoer is stuck thinking Tarantino is the mind behind these amazing movies while the real talent is left unheard of to the American audience.

If Tarantino wants to serve as "presenter" (his title on movies like Hero), that's fine. It's good for him to try to pick some unheard of movies and bring them to a massive market that would appreciate them. However, to simply pick the most heard of supposedly "unheard of" movies is pointless. Then to have advertisements that place his "presenting" of the movies in a higher light than the real talent behind it is nothing short of him turning the movies he so supposedly love in nothing short of the celluloid version of whores...which Tarantino as the mack daddy running their business.


I've been thinking and stewing about that for a while. I just really needed to get that off my chest.


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