So 300 was amazing. The story and dialogue was predictably trite, but the shots were absolutely stunning, especially the long fight sequence in the first battle. Xstine went nuts over the painterly aspect of several shots, the ones that gave an illusion of no perspective points. I loved the claustrophobic set, complete with static props and painted backdrops.
The cherry topping it all was the total lack of political correctness. Asia! These terrorists are from ASIA! Promise! The film vomits patriotism, and makes no excuse for the need of violence to resolve all problems. While the speeches get long in the tooth, it provided ample ampules of adrenaline. So caricatured and comic it was that I don't seen how there can be a hang-up. I'm just surprised as an liberal an industry as Hollywood even let it reach the public.
As if timed by Zeus himself, God of War 2 comes out this week. Today in fact. In fact I don't know why I'm writing this and not picking up my pre-order from the store. I even prepared myself for this release by playing Golden Axe for the first time in a decade. I'm still a badass with the dwarf. While the AI is terrible, the game is still somehow fun, thanks to the visceral and unashamed action. Kinda like 300.
One last thing to check out is this jaw-dropping but heart-warming new game from the creators of Rag-doll Kung Fu. Most surprisingly, it's coming out for the PS3, not the Wii. While Sony's hodge-podge embrace of card-carrying "indie" developers hasn't impressed me yet, this one looks far more substantial than a Flash in the cell like Flow. Keep this up, and I might actually want a PS3. Provided it plays well. User-created content spawns more paupers than princes, and I've grown out of sandbox-style games. They're usually nothing but ludologized technology, and technology grows wearisome. Hurrah for LittleBigPlanet.
One of my superiors is hellbent on getting a PS3. He mostly just wants it for the Blue Ray thing that it comes with, since current Blue Ray players are supposedly $1K, and the PS3 is gonna be $600.
I was telling him I'd bring my Wii over when he has his PS3 and we'd see who got the better deal.
There's been alot of talk about the coming forced evolution to HD. I'd like to clarify for readers what the real deal with Blu-Ray is at the moment.
- Blu-Ray stores more data than HD-DVD by packing information in a smaller space, and is named for the narrow blue laser used to read the disc. Actually, both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD use blue lasers.
- Blu-Ray stores about twice as much as HD-DVD, theoretically. In actuality, since Blu-Ray is expensive to manufacture and license, most Blu-Ray media will be encoded with MPEG-4 instead of the improved VC-1 codec, essentially making HD-DVD a superior choice pricewise.
- Blu-Ray discs have not yet hit dual-layered dual-sided formats yet, which HD-DVD has, so practically, HD-DVDs hold more at the moment.
- Blu-Ray has better sound encoding.
- As it stands, copy-protection standardization on Blu-Rays is up in the air, and the Sony/Warner Bros. discs may not (and don't with the latest PC Blu-Ray drives) play movies from other publishers. They also require an HDMI output or the Blu-Ray players will output at a severely downsized image resolution.
- Even if Blu-Ray problems are solved, how likely are we going to see studios release one $150 3-disc set, instead of three $60 separate sets? Did we see anything more than extras added when DVDs upped capacity?
Basically, just because Sony says $1000 for a Blu-Ray player, a price they made up, makes the PS3 a good deal, doesn't make it so. Games will be a better factor in determining the worth of the PS3, which today had its price knocked down a bit in Japan and for the Japanese base machines only. Conclusion? Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD is like choosing between a blond and a brunette. Regardless of which one we have, we all know which one is better.
Wow. In the continuation of our theater binge (at today's prices, two theater features IS bingeing dammit), we took one incredible ride with Pixar's Cars, the first movie all year that has left me wanting to spend more. If its illusory two hours hadn't disappeared in blink later at 11:00 pm, we would have U-turned for another lap, it was that good. It seemed to hit a holy balance of fart jokes for kids and smart jokes for 9-5 kids, and layered it all in a nostalgic, cheesy, and overly sweet slice of American pie, keeping the patriot in me brinked on tearful. I'm a sap for a movie like this, which draws upon a mode of storytelling Hollywood blockbusters have forgotten, hell forSAKEN for predictable, inbred tautology sewn into pointless SFX.
Which is not to say Cars wasn't predictable or free of cliché, just that it delivered them through a veneer of empathy that really REALLY made cars into people. I left the theater expecting the parking lot automobiles to wake-up and wave at us. I found myself questioning the geneology of a Beamer. I expected Mustangs to look at me over-the-shoulder. I wondered if my Infinity had a Japanese accent. Once again, Pixar pulled the trick they know best… bringing everyday things to a life more vivid than we had ourselves.
Forget about the incredibly shading and lighting and composition. Forget about the perfect mechanical-anthromorphic animations. I can't express how touched I was at the premise that Radiator Springs was being bypassed to save ten minutes once folks took the interstate megahighway over a humbly scenic Route 66. I hear from Californians all the time how the rest of the country is a bunch of inbred hicks. Maybe this movie will take them a notch down for a sec. It was about time for us to get a story about self-centered urbanites being the fish-out-of-water in a mostly honest, hardworking American Etc. But that's the residual Bay Area in me speaking.
So, I can now only look forward to the next release from Pixar, the immaculately animated Ratatoille in the pic above. Summer has become fun again.
We braced ourselves and stepped into X-Men 3 with low expectations carefully normalized to the wave of negative reviews that deluged the gap Brian Singer left, and that Brett Ratner tried to fill. And honestly, it wasn't a bad flick, great action, funny moments, and lots of so-so special FX. I'd say decent FX if it wasn't for the abuse of particle systems and the "shattery" feel of the bridges and other exploding objects, which really got annoying since there is always something being explodeded. The X-men fan in the recesses of my soul, however, was indignant. Juggernaut, a mutant? Phoenix a double personality? Magneto so campy he should have sported a titanium handlebar mustache to twirl to tensile breaking point?
What the hell were they thinking? Sure, the movie was fun. I got my money's worth. But plucking the audience's money's worth is hardly a way to perpetuate the species, a species like the perennially entertaining James Bond money-tree. No, a species like X-men won't grow much without Miracle-Gro and respect. I mean c'mon… Psylocke is a Morlock?
Speaking of money-trees, the tumbling market these days makes for a great albeit risky buying opportunity, yet I am looking at some severely underpriced large-cap. The inflation fears keep rising, and while I had predicted long-term rate hikes from the FED long ago, I've grown to realize that inflation is only part of the reason for them. In fact, the FED doesn't fight inflation so much as create/hide it. M3 anyone? No, the FED is really fighting to keep the dollar high, yet is faced with keeping domestic equities attractive at the same time.
Inflation is the rising of prices, not the fall of money value, although that is the net effect. But such forces affect more than the U.S. economy, it affects entertainment as well. As the price to see Wolverine slash some nobodies up increases, the value of my time and cash spent at the cinemas, my "FandangoBucks" per se plummets, and will quickly lead other movie-goers like me to enter that deflationary spiral that entails sitting on the couch with five Netflix offerings upon the altar of the coffee table. Now that's diversifying your portfolio.
When you compare this brilliant Tetris DS ad to the latest PSP marketing campaign BOMBS, and lemme see, I'm thinking of the grafitti, the lewd billboards, and the ad in the train station daring people to take a suicidal leap, you've got to wonder if Hollywood's disillusionment with the UMD is driving Sony eggheads to the brink of madness, desperately clawing for a memetic comeback that resonates with their own self-imagined aura of the ultra-hip. I'm not fuckin' biting.
I tell ya what I AM biting tho, and it's a wonderful mix of ante-whitetrashery and geek-to-righthand-congressionals. And it looks a little somethin' like this:
Ah, Tilda Swinton, the androgenous beauty who is, among few, criminally ethereal. More endearingly, these were her comments at the promotional party for the Narnia game shown above (qyoted from Kotaku):
Unable to figure the game out, she gave the controller to the staff and watched them play. She asked the staff what makes a bad game, to which they replied, “A work of the developer’s egotism.” Swinton replied, “It’s the same as in the movies.”
In juxtaposition, it sure makes this comic mocking Spore smart just a bit.
In other Hollywood related news, I'm ecstatic that Crash took best film, and Brokeback Mountain did not sweep the Oscars. After all, the gay controversy is already… so yesterday, so blasé ad passé. While I haven't seen it yet, I'm sure it's about as poignant as a re-enactment in 30 seconds by bunnies. Brilliant.