Saturday, August 11, 2007

VIDEO GAMES: Halo 3 is Ready to Burn

Bungie has finally decided to provide fans with the weapon they've been begging for; the flamethrower.

The flamethrower was initially supposed to be a prime weapon in Halo: Combat Evolved. It didn't make the final cut.

Halo 2 rolled around and, once again, the flamethrower was rumoured to make an appearance. It was cut once again.

Now, after over eight years since the first glimpse of the portable fire-starter was seen by fans worldwide, it finally appears as if it will make the final build of Halo 3.

I never really jumped on the flamethrower craze. While it seems like a cool weapon, I'm a much bigger fan of guns that kill my opponents immediately (see shotgun) instead of slowly chipping away at their health as they burn to death. I'm sure it'll be a visual treat and work well for specific situations but I haven't been won over quite yet.

It also has to be mentioned that the flamethrower will be a "turret" weapon similar to the missile pod and the stationary turret. This means that whenever wielding the weapon your spartan will move slower and you'll view the action from a third-person viewpoint.

Check out the image above to see how the flamethrower would have looked in Halo: Combat Evolved and right-click HERE to download a 360 degree view of the weapon as it will be seen in Halo 3.

What do you guys think of the flamethrower finally making an appearance in the Halo universe? Post a comment and let me know.


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Thursday, March 29, 2007

VIDEO GAMES: Grand Theft Auto IV Trailer Goes Live

The long-awaited trailer for Rockstar's long-awaited game hits the net at last.

After a month-long countdown on Rockstar's official site the trailer for Grand Theft Auto IV has finally hit the net. While only a minute of gameplay footage, it does share quite a bit of info on the upcoming game. For starters, gamers will find themselves working back in Liberty City such as GTA 3, only this time it appears as if you play an Eastern European.

Here, check out the trailer yourself:

I think the game looks awesome (everything shown is in-game). Rockstar is using the same engine it utilized in last year's Table Tennis game and it appears to be handling the big environments of Liberty City very well. Just look at all the detail in the signs around the city, and they move too. While I'm not a huge fan of the Grand Theft Auto series I can't wait for this title. Hopefully there is an online aspect to the game.

Grand Theft Auto IV hits shelves in October. I'll keep you posted as more updates hit the net.


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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Reign Over Me Review

Director Mike Binder delivers an above-average portrayal of two normal men with two very familiar problems.

Recently, it seems as if every mainstream movie to hit theatres is about flamboyant superheroes, courageous Spartans, or smoking guns. Now, I love those films, and I'd be a hypocrite to criticize them, but sometimes I want something real. Something I'd experience in a restaurant or on a bus, not in a comic book. Reign Over Me fills that void. It fills it very well.

The film's protagonists are old college roommates Alan Johnson and Charlie Fineman who run into each other years after they've drifted apart. Don Cheadle (Crash, Hotel Rwanda) plays Johnson, a dentist living the American dream with a loving family waiting for him at home every night. Charlie Fineman is the opposite. Portrayed by Adam Sandler (Punch-Drunk Love, Spanglish), Fineman is a tortured soul who is still in a mess after losing his wife and kids in 9/11. The characters may seem extremely different, but they aren't. Both are men with problems having a hard time getting a grasp on their situations. The film deals with loss, the responsibility of relationships, and fighting against yourself to overcome your problems.

What I loved most about Reign Over Me are how the characters are handled in the film. No one is flat, not even the smallest of characters, everyone develops and is shown in neutral light, free from bias. Sure, there are a few characters, namely Fineman's in-laws, who are initially shown to be negative, but they escape from that before the film comes to an end. Writer and Director Mike Binder (The Upside of Anger) really did a great job handling Fineman and Johnson. We experience a full range of their emotions and follow along with them, feeling for them when they are down and laughing along when they pick themselves up.

Another highlight of Reign Over Me is Binder's dialogue. It's smooth and flows well, always feeling natural. It packs a punch when it needs to and delivers comedy (free from one-liners) throughout. Laughs are something I didn't expect from this film. I thought it would be heavy and somewhat depressing, and some of its themes are, but there are many areas where I found myself laughing for the right reasons.

Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle do an excellent job in the film. Sandler's character is a bit on-edge. You're not sure how he'll react to certain things and feel as if his moods could swing at any moment. While Sandler is able to separate himself from normality in the role, he still manages to win over the audience and earn their compassion. Cheadle is also brilliant in the film. His character is impossible to hate. He consistently puts himself out on a limb to rescue Fineman and you want him to succeed. Johnson isn't flat though. It would be easy for Cheadle to play the nice guy with no repercussions but he doesn't, showing his weaknesses when needed, proving that he is in fact human. Liv Tyler, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Saffron Burrows play excellent supporting characters.

Something that really made me smile when watching Reign Over Me are the small parts given to Donald Sutherland, Ted Raimi, and B.J. Novak. Sutherland plays a hard-nosed judge, and does an excellent job standing his ground in the courtroom. Raimi plays a defense lawyer and, while he doesn't have many lines, I felt a giggle coming on whenever his face filled the frame (probably due to his work in Bruce Campbell's Man with the Screaming Brain, among others). B.J. Novak (of The Office fame) plays another lawyer and does a great job acting like a dick yet earning a bit of compassion from the audience.

One problem I did have with the film though was the ending. While I won't spoil it for anyone, I did feel that it dragged on a bit past its welcome and didn't fit onto the foundations Binder established in the first hour and a half of the film. The film takes a bit of a turn in the last half-hour and while it's not a plot-twist, the ending feels different than everything that came before it.

Another complaint, albeit a minor one, I had with Reign Over Me is the colour correction. There are a few shots that were really poorly handled by digital colourist Steven J. Scott as they stand out from the rest of the scene. For example, there's a scene where Johnson and Dr. Oakhurst (Liv Tyler) are sitting in the hospital. The entire scene has a neutral temperature, maybe it's a bit warm, but all of a sudden a shot with a blue hue is thrown into the mix. It wasn't a stylistic choice, believe me, just a poor colour correction job.

Overall I felt that Reign Over Me was a fairly good film. It's a fairly realistic yet entertaining look at people and their problems and how they eventually overcome them. It may not have caped crusaders or archatype heroes but it's an exciting film nonetheless.

One Sentence Review:
A good film that relies on its superb writing and fleshed-out characters to progress the plot.


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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

FILM: New Line Wins the Rights to Gears of War

Epic Games' top-teir shooter hopes to hit the silver screen with New Line Cinema.

Apparently New Line Cinema, led by Robert K. Shayne and Michael Lynne, have bought the rights to the best selling Xbox 360 title Gears of War. The production company, which won the rights to the Escape from New York remake earlier this month (read my casting scoop HERE), has hired Stuart Beattie to pen the script. Beattie's resume features all three Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Derailed, and Collateral. He also wrote the screenplay for James Mangold's remake of 3:10 to Yuma, a film I'm really looking forward to seeing.

I like the idea of a Gears of War movie. I love the game, and the characters that are a large part of the property, and I think an all-out action epic film adaptation would completely rock. My one concern though is that New Line might try and turn the movie into an intellectual experience. Now, while I'm all for intelligent movies, Gears of War shouldn't be one. The video game is far from smart; dumbed down to the lowest notch and focused completely on action. The plot is flatter than the prairies, the characters don't develop, and everything is turned up to 11. The movie should be done similar to the recent 300, putting action ahead of everything save style. But hey, that's just my opinion.

New Line hasn't yet announced directing or casting choices, but I'll keep you posted as they occur. I just hope this video game adaptation doesn't attain the infinite hiatus status as the Halo movie did.


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FILM: Pirates: At World's End Trailer Hits the Net

The trailer for the third installment of Bruckheimer's cash cow looks to pack a punch.

The trailer for Gore Verbinski's, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer's, Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End has gone live on Dinsey's site. Click HERE to journey there and watch the trailer.

From this preview it looks like the conclusion to the trilogy will be more of what was found in the second film, which could be either a good or a bad thing. I personally didn't enjoy the second movie as much as I hoped I would but I'll give the third installment a fair shot before I pass judgement.

What do you guys think of this trailer? What about the Pirates franchise as a whole? Post a comment and share your opinion. Thanks.


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Monday, March 19, 2007

FILM: 300 Sequel in the Works

Frank Miller has already begun work on the screenplay to a sequel to the box-office success 300.

300 has made almost $100 million at the box-office in just under 10 days, setting a March record. Warner Bros. That kind of cash is hard to ignore, so hard in fact that Warner Bros. have already hired comic writer Frank Miller to write a sequel to the Spartan flick. Apparently, if the second film is made, it won't be a direct sequel rather another tale from mythical Greece.

I really don't like this idea. While I loved 300 (read my review HERE), and crave for more of the same, I don't think that the current Frank Miller would be able to pull it off. Miller's writing abilities have been dropping off since the mid-90s and I don't think he has the creativity to create a new plot from scratch. Sure, 300 didn't have the most complex dialogue or story structure, and duplicating its style for a sequel wouldn't be as tough as it would with a different genre of film, but I don't think Miller has it in him. Maybe I'm wrong though, I just really haven't liked Frank Miller's comic work as of late.

There has been no word whether or not Zack Snyder will return as director.

What do you guys think of this? Should a sequel to 300 be made? Post a comment and let me know.


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Friday, March 16, 2007

FILM: Cate Blanchett Joins Indy 4

The oscar-nominated actress will adventure with Harrison Ford in Lucasfilm's next epic.

The extremely talented Cate Blanchett has been cast in Indiana Jones 4. Blanchett isn't a stranger to franchise films, appearing in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and has worked in a handful of recent successes such as Babel, Notes on a Scandal, and The Aviator. She also acts in the upcoming Bob Dylan bio pic I'm Not There along with Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Adrien Brody, Julianne Moore, and others. Blanchett will most likely play the powerful love interest in Indy 4.

I appreciate this casting choice. While Blanchett certainly wasn't my first choice for the role, I think she will be great in the part. She has a sense of power that is absent with most actresses in Hollywood and she really transforms into every character she takes on. Cate Blanchett may not be playing Galadriel or Katherine Hepburn but you can be certain she'll will find a way to twist the role in her favour.

What do you guys think about this casting choice? Does Cate Blanchett have what it takes to beat Alison Doody, Kate Capshaw, Karen Allen, and all the other love interests from previous Indiana Jones adventures?

Check back here for more news on Indy 4 as the film develops.


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Thursday, March 15, 2007

VIDEO GAMES: Halo 3 in September?

Sources say the high-profile shooter will ship two months earlier than expected.

An annonymous source has told IGN that Bungie and Microsoft plan to ship Halo 3 in September hoping to beat the holiday rush. If this is accomplished the game would be able to establish a large market (like it doesn't have one already) at least two months before Sony or Nintendo would be able to return fire.

This is great news if true. I can't wait for the next Halo and the sooner it releases the better, as long as it isn't rushed. I have been yearning for the third installment of the series for ages and I can't wait to get it up and running on my 360.

Bungie is also putting out their Halo 3 beta this spring, giving gamers a chance to test out a portion of the game well-before it ships. I'll post my impressions of that experience as soon as I'm able to play it.


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Grifter & Midnighter #1 Review

Two of Wildstorm's top-guns collide in this six issue mini-series.

I am a HUGE Grifter fan. I don't know what it is about the character but he is just awesome. Now, that being said, I had really been looking forward to Wildstorm's Grifter & Midnighter mini-series. The only other Grifter book on the shelves is the main WildC.A.T.S. title (which has been months in-between issues) and I wanted more of the masked assassin's comics to read. Grifter & Midnighter had the potential to fill that void. Unfortunately the premier issue didn't give the best first impression.

One of my complaints with this first book is the writing. Chuck Dixon has really been around the block when it comes to comics, and usually does a fairly decent job, but this issue felt really cheesy and dull. Most of the dialogue spoken between characters are throwaway one-liners and cliche phrases that don't even apply to the scene. The story is a very simple one but it's handled in an extremely messy fashion. Plot points are convoluted and sloppy and Dixon molds the characters flat as paper, making it hard to care for them or the conflict at hand. I felt myself gagging reading some of the material in this issue and I was tempted to put the book down at times, eventually gaining enough courage to force my way through it.

Another problem I have with the book is that Grifter is nowhere to be found. The character gets a few panels here and there but is generally absent from the issue. Even in the five or so pages where we see him, he's just chilling at a table. What's cool about that? I want to see Grifter rocking the socks off of some baddies, not taking a lunch break. I guess they are just saving the guy for later issues, building the reader's anticipation for the character.

One highlight of the issue though is the art. Ryan Benjamin does a fairly good job with the characters he's given and manages to bring life to the otherwise static scenes with his expressions and gestures. Hopefully this guy gets hired to do a big project after this mini-series because I really like his stuff so far.

The first issue of Grifter & Midnighter was a letdown. While the art is good, the writing of Chuck Dixon is piss-poor, reminding me of a really bad B-movie. The issue is also all about Midnighter and, while he is a cool character, I'd much rather have the spotlight focused on Grifter.

Am I being too harsh with this opinion on the book? Tell me what you think, post a comment.


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