Archive for February, 2009

DVD of the Day #53 - Highlander: The Raven

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

I’ll admit it. I love the Highlander TV series. Duncan McLeod. Joe Dawson. Meethos. These were some great characters. I own the entire series on DVD and it’s a nice piece of my collection. From the first episode guest starring Christopher Lambert to the awful “A Wonderful Life” tribute that the series wraps up with, Highland was a show I’d curl up with Ronni and Zuel on Sunday nights and watch in bed before going to sleep and getting ready for another week at University.

Then there is Highlander: The Raven which I missed during it’s original one year run. Well, actually I saw one or two episodes and found it to be a huge drop in quality. Now that I picked up the entire box set for free on Swapadvd.com, I finally had a chance to watch the series unfold.

I’ll admit it wasn’t AWFUL. I always loved Amanda, played by ex Miss America (and Bill Clinton fucktoy) Elizabeth Gracen, and Paul Johansson was a pretty decent actor as well, so I enjoyed the series, although by the time I finished the series, I was pretty bored with the slow moving scripts, the lack of character growth and the lack of Duncan McLeod. Amanda, being an amoral bon vivant thief, if not really the best character to head a series, even if she did constantly steal the show in the original series. There is also a noticable lack of chemistry between the two leads, which is bad when your entire premise is “Highlander meets Moonlighting.”

The series is 22 episodes long and it’s really only of appeal to long time Highlander fans…but even then it drags with plots that blur from one episode to the next and a distinct drop in the special effects budget from the previous series. Most of the episodes revolve around an evil Immortal doing something bad and then Nick Wolfe and Amanda arguing over to arrest them or take their head.

What makes the collection worth watching AND owning is the 9 part documentary series “The Unravelling of a series” that is one of the most dramatastic train wrecks I have ever seen. it’s a pretty no holds barred discussion involving the actors, writers, and producers as to why the show failed. It’s hilarious. Elizabeth Gracen was on the verge of both a nervous breakdown and psychotic episodes due to Kenneth Starr basically stalking her for the impeachment trial, Elizabeth and her co-star hated each other. Every producer wanted a different focus than the other on the show, hence why the entire series seemed to change drastically from one episode to the next. It was fascinating to watch and in the end, the documentaries made the collection.

I don’t think I’d ever watch the series again, but I’ll happily watch the documentaries as it’s a great case study for how to ruin a show with a guaranteed large fanatical fan following. Ah well, if only they had stuck with the idea of the Meethos and Joe buddy comedy. My two favorite characters in one show would have easily lasted several seasons. Alas, it was not to be be. If anything Highlander: The Raven proves that indeed, there can be only one - and it’s Duncan MacLeod.

Is It Worth Keeping: Only for Highlander Mooks like myself
Rating: 5.5 (and that’s only because of the documentaries)

DVD of the Day #52 - Hamtaro Vol. 4 - A Ham Ham Christmas

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Obviously I’m not reviewing these in order as I wanted Volume 5 on Valentine’s Day since it was you know…a Valentine themed DVD. By now you know I love these little hamsters, their adorable adventures, the catchy music and the Hamster Dancing. Out of the five volumes I’ve watched (#6 to go and then we’re done. SAD FACE GOES HERE), this was probably my least favorite simply because the first two episodes weren’t as good to me as the usual Hamtaro fare.

First up is, “Jingle the Wanderer.” Hamtaro thinks he is going to an Amusement park when he stows away in Laura’s purse, but nope, he’s going to Laura’s father’s workplace because he left a disc at home that is very important. Ooh. Floppy disks. Remember those? Oxnard and Penelope join him after they are attacked by a crow, but then Oxnard loses his damn seed and the disk falls out of Laura purse along with the other two hamsters. Now quite lost, Hamtaro and his friends are helped out by Jingle, the scat talking Jack Kerouac of the hamster world. All four find the disc and get it back to Laura and then Jingle offically becomes a ham-ham friend. Hurrah.

“Merry Christmas” is an odd one. All the pet hamsters love Christmas but Boss and Snoozer don’t because they are field hamsters and as such Santa never visits them. This is an odd parable to being Jewish, Muslim, or some other religion at Christmas as all the other hamsters try to convert the heathen field hamsters by making him believe that Santa will come this time because they are now friends with all the pet hamsters. It’s eerily creepy, or it would be if this was made by Americans. As the Japanese pretty much believe Christianity is for penisheads and they routinely make products about Satan being the good gye or humans over throwing the Christian God for being a right prat, I can live with this episode. After all, for them Christmas is just about exchanging presents without any Jesus filled over tones.

Eventually the ham-hams manage to make an awesome Christmas for Snoozer and Boss and everyone is happy happy.

Finally we have “The Snowball Fight” which is basically “Merry Christmas” in reverse. All the pet hamsters are scared of snow and the cold, but the field or wild hamsters are used to and love it. Boss introduces his friends to snowman building, snow angels, and eventually snowball fights. The latter occurs because Stan and Boss decide to have a “Who has the bigger dick” contest in front of the ladies and force the ham-hams into choosing sides. The Snowball fight occurs, but it ends with everyone acting as a team and have a toboggan ride. Everyone’s a winner. YAY!

This is the weirdest collection by far, and none of the episodes were up to the usual level of Hamtaro awesomness. Still, it’s the last readily available volume as five and six are exceedingly rare. Thank you Viz. Thank you for being dicks.

Is It Worth Getting If you’re a Hamtaro completist.
Rating: 5/10

Scott and Shae just had baby Numero 2!

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Aubrey Ella Kelsen was born at 4:05pm last night Minnesota time. Scott just texted me about an hour ago. That is going to be one busy house!

DVD of the Day #51 - Smokey and the Bandit (HD DVD)

Friday, February 20th, 2009

To be honest I had never seen this before. I have seen the TV movies and the god awful Smokey and the Bandit III. This however was entertaining crap. It was stupid, nonsenscical and implausible, but pretty entertaining and sported a really fun cast of Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason and Jerry Reed who i will always remember from “The New Scooby Movies” where he sang “Pretty Mary Sunlite” for two damn episodes forever entrenching the song in my skull forcing me to carry it with me on my Ipod to this day.

Now where was I.

Oh, Smokey and the Bandit is a movie that is based on a premise that no longer exists today. At the time of filming, it was illegal to transport Coors east of the Mississippi River. I don’t know why, but I do know this fact and it is the only piece of beer related trivia this straight-edge superstar knows. Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed are bet 80,000 dollars (With inflation that would be nearly $300K today!) that they can’t ship 400 cases of Coors from Texarcana to Atlanta in 28 hours.They take the bet and what follows is pretty much the adventures of a semi and a Pontiac (do they still build excitement?) Trans Am bootlegging with a quick stop here and there for food and picking up runaway bride Sally Field.

Eventually Sherrif Buford T. Justice, who is apparantly sheriff of ALL of Texas starts to chase them because his son was Sally Field’s groom. Hilarity, car chases, car crashes, and a look at the CB culture of the 70’s. It’s bascially the Three Stooges with speed (As in motion, not drugs) and the ending is inspidly stupid and sets things up for a sequel, many of which happened, but none of which used the dangling thread provided here.

It’s hard to believe that this was the second highest grossing film of 1977, only beaten by Star Wars (albeit barely). I definitely preferred The Cannonball Run to this, mainly due to the ensemble cast, but this is just so over the top and the cast has such charisma together than you can’t help but love it.

Pity poor Jerry Reed though. After all his Smokey and the Bandit films, he went on to be the evil coach in The Waterboy.

Is It Worth Keeping Yes, mainly due to the quality HD DVD transfer. It’s impressive to see the difference in quality between this and most 1970’s film. This really proves what a remastering of a film can do.

Rating: 5/10

Review #255 (11 pages & 5,200 words later…)

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Street Fighter IV Collector’s Edition
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Genre: 2-D Fighter
Release Date: 2/17/2009

Well, it’s finally here. After all the hype and all anticipation, Street Fighter IV has hit stateside. I have to admit. As a long time consumer of each and every fighting game to come out since Street Fighter II, I was probably less excited for SFIV than the average mainstream gamer. No, it’s not because I have overindulged in amazing games like King of Fighters ‘98 Ultimate Match or Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves. It’s because I spent a few hours in 2008 with the Arcade cabinet of SFIV and I was pretty underwhelmed. In fact, nearly all of us who played the arcade version were unhappy with the product because it was very buggy and unbalanced. I wish I could have said I was surprised, but Capcom had really let the ball drop after the SF Alpha games and SNK surpassed them as the predominant 2-D fighting game company in terms of gameplay, if not graphics. Really, compare KoF 2002 and Capcom Fighting Evolution and it’s apparent how far Capcom had fallen in terms of fighting quality.

Thankfully though that was a very early version of the game, and I’m happy to say that the console version has fixed nearly all of the laundry list of issues many of those early gamers had with the game. Is Street Fighter IV the greatest fighting game ever? No, I’m going to tell you that right here at the beginning of the review. To be honest, I wouldn’t even put it in my top ten fighting games of all time. However, SFIV still remains a good game that’s definitely worth playing and I’ll be using this review not only as review of the game, but also to throw in some tips and strategies for those of you haven’t spent the last seventeen years counting frames, writing strategy guides for fighting games or competing in (and winning) fighting game tournaments. Hopefully this review can highlight why SFIV is a worthy playthrough, but also why it falls short of a lot of the hype.
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DVD of the Day #50 - Pokemon - Destiny Deoxys

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Well, I’m sure everyone’s surprised it took this long for a Pokemon DVD to show up. Destiny Deoxys is the last 4Kids Pokemon film and the climax of the US version of Pokemon before Pokemon USA took over the scripting and voice acting and sent everything into a downward spiral that has pissed off every long time Pokemon fan to no end. Morale of the Story? Pokemon USA is amazingly retarded. Pokemon Company (Japan) is awesome.

Here’s all you really need to know about this film. It’s mostly Deoxys Vs. Rayquaza kicking each other’s asses for the majority of the film while all the humans and lesser Pokemon are trying to to be killed by debris or shrapnel. There are comedy bits with Munchlax and Team Rocket, the latter of which never interact with the main charactersm and Plusle and Minum get a nice big role, yet they never showed up in the Pokemon Ranger movie which would have made a lot more sense considering those are your Pokemon in that game…

This was a really well done Pokemon film with a lot of action and a fun story. Ash and friends trey to get a young boy named Tory over his fear of Pokemon while Ash tries to compete (and fails miserably) at the Battle Tower. Pikachu is awesome but he’s only a supporting character here because really, the movie is just about one hyper extended fight scene between Legendary Pokemon.

The animation is amazing and there were some scenes, especially at the very beginning where I was shocked by the literal thousands of Pokemon animated at once, each doing their own thing. There’s a cameo by Misty, Torkoal gets some scenes in and Snorlax helps save the day. Destiny Deoxys is just a fun little movie that sums up everything as to why Pokemon is so freaking awesome and adorable and addicting. A great story, great acting, great animation, great pacing, and some of my favorite anime characters doing what they do best. Adieu 4Kids. Pokemon was the only thing you ever got right, and no you can’t even do that.

Stupid Pokemon USA.

Is It Worth Keeping Very Much So
Rating: 7/10

Middle of the Week Already!

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

It’s snowing out today here in Northern VA, and pretty hard for the area compared to back in MN. Hopefully it won’t be too bad of a driving day.

Happy Street Fighter IV day everybody. It’s going to be interesting to read all those reviews out there especially as the vast majority of the people who played the Arcade cabinet version have proclaimed it to be a buggy broken mess. Here’s hoping it was fixed in the interim for home release…

Baby’s eye is better, which is good as we ran out of the anti-inflammatory medicine for her last night, and I don’t want to use the remaining anti-biotic without it.

Weird sleeping issues lately. Monday night I had a weird series of connected dreams, two of which involved teeth falling out. I can still remember the teeth. Both canines, my top right back molar, my central incisors and my bottom right first premolar. The Ancient Greeks believed when you had dreams of losing teeth, it meant a family member or close friend was about to die. Let’s hope this isn’t the case. I also had a dream about being back in eighth grade although the class was made up of people I knew throughout my life, many of which I had forgotten about. That’s an odd one too.

Monday I went hiking with Kim and some friends, and their kids. Fun time, although I prefer to hike rather than chat which I think makes people think I’m aloof or mad. It’s not the case. I just want to exercise.

Not much else going on. Just the usual writing, reviewing, hanging out and playing with bunnies.

DVD of the Day #49 - Tokyo Gore Police

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Tokyo Gore Police was a movie I purchased for three reasons. The first was the name. The second was the cover. Eihi Shina (Audition) has never looked hotter. The third was that is was by the same team who did The Machine Girl which is currently my favorite live action Japanese film, and boy is it fucked up. All three of these factored into a must buy for me.

So how was it? To be honest, it was nowhere as good as The Machine Girl, but it was quite funny at times, featured some grisly deaths and awesome special effects and was a lovely little satires save for the fact the story was just “Let’s kill things because we all have daddy issues.”

Here’s the basic plot, and boy is it basic. The police force of Tokyo have gone private and they are currently in a feud with bio-humanoids called Engineers. Ruka is the top engineer hunter and she is out for revenge against all criminals when her father, a top police officer, was murdered right in front of her as a small girl. The current chief of police took her in and raised her to be a bad ass.

Engineers are the product of a crazy guy who turns out to be a genetic scientist and the son of the man who killed Ruka’s father. He gathered DNA from all the craziest sociopaths in the history of the world ranging from Charles Manson to Ed Gein. Then he injected himself with all their DNA and he mutated into a super killing machine where any part of his body that is destroyed or cut off is replaced by organic weaponry. He can pass this disease on by taking a key shaped tumour from his body, unlocking his vicitm’s flesh and then inserting the tumour. Then the victim becomes a creepy psychopathic monster. These mutations can range from having chainsaw arms to boobies with mouths on them. My favorite was probably the girl who loses her legs and her vagina mutates into a crocodiles head so she crab walks around and bites at people. Hilarious.

The commercials in Tokyo Gore Police are very funny and feature some great satire of Japanese culture as well as Television itself. However the movie is nowhere as funny or well written as The Machine Girl, so it is a bit of a letdown, but this is still definitely a movie that you want to watch with a bunch of buds late at night for maximum comedy value.

Eihi gets some great costumes and looks amazing. I definitely prefer this to Audition both in terms of acting and the pacing of the film. It’s not scary or creepy, just excessively violent. Think of this as a Japanese modernization of The Three Stooges Nyuk nyuk nyuk.

Is it Worth Keeping? Yes.
Rating: 5.5/10

DVD of the Day #48 - Goldeneye (Special Edition)

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I’m not really a big James Bond fan. I tend to prefer the Moore and Connery films, although I liked Bronson best acting wise, even though his movies aren’t the best. I picked up all the Bronson bonds on swapadvd.com to see if they have aged well. Goldeneye was always my favorite, although after watching this again, I think it was more because of the video game and the fact that Famke Janssen is so gorgeous is this. Yes, I’d let her crush me to death. What a way to go. Rowr.

Goldeneye is a pretty generic Bond movie, although a very funny one as well. yes, intentionally funny. The entire movie revolves around how fucking retarded the post Soviet Union is and sports Robbie Coltrane as a Russian to boot. Whoo Coltrane!

Goldeneye is a space station weapon that has the power to destroy the earth and is part of the master plan of 006 to kick England and Russia’s collective asses for killing his parents since they were Cossack Nazi Sympathizers. Yes, the master bad guy is a whiny immature MI:6 agent who faked their death has is kind of like Batman what with the inability to get over his parent’s death except he’s actually willing to kill or use a gun against people who aren’t Darkseid. Yep.

The movie is well acted, has some great fights and chase scenes, especially one involving a tank. This is sadly one of the last movies featuring the original Q and he’s the best (and funniest) part of the movie. I love John Cleese, but he’s just not as good as the original.

Izabella Scorupco is a pretty bad Bond Babe, but so are most of the ones from the Bronson era. Michelle Williams and Teri Hatcher? Blah. Bronson did a great job as Bond, but really, he spent his whole life preparing to be Bond as Remington Steele in the same way Roger Moore was The Saint.
The deaths in this movie are pretty awful. I still don’t see how Fanke could have died and Sean Bean’s death was just so over the top silly it ruined things for me. In retrospect, Goldeneye has not aged well, and I wish I had just stuck to the Nintendo 64 game or stills of Famke. Fap fap fap.

Is It Worth keeping No.
Rating: 5/10

DVD of the Day #47 - The Bone Collector (HD DVD)

Monday, February 16th, 2009

The Bone Collector is a mediocre detective/suspense movie that is desperately trying to be a kinder, gentler Silence of the Lambs, but the plot is poorly done and the ending comes out of nowhere without any plausibility. It’s got a great cast featuring Angelina Jolie, Denzel Washington, and Ed O’Neil, but just because something is well acted doesn’t mean it can save the rest of the movie.

Denzel is a master of forensics who is paralyzed save for his head, a finger, and his shoulders. Angelina is a beat cop who is drafted into forensics after Denzel sees how good her instincts are regarding a crime scene when she sees a person buried under some railroad tracks. The entire movie then revolves around the two of them trying to track this serial killer while the other cops bungle things up royally. Eventually the two discover that the killer is following the murders in a book and so they try to follow to book to stop him. Oh wait, he only followed the book until the cops caught on to him and while they’re all busy he goes after his real goal - trying to murder Denzel Washington. This makes no sense to me, because it’s not like he was an active officer anymore, and it’s not really that hard to kill someone who is alive only because they are hooked up to a machine. The killer’s identity is utterly insane as it’s a) someone who knows Denzel intimately and b) could have killed him at any time. Seriously, why drag it out, murdering all these other people and getting the cops involved. That’s just contrived for the sake of making a bad movie.

There are other clichéd subplots including the captain of the police hating Denzel and ignoring every lead or bit of progress Jolie’s character makes. They also try to make you think he’s the killer, but he’s not. Alas. It would have made more sense. There’s also the hitting you over the head message that doctor assisted suicide is wrong. In all, the movie is a patchwork script filled with the most generic clichés and random plot twists that are there for shock value at the cost of sacrificing substance or congruency.

I probably would have seen, much less owned this movie save for the fact Amazon was selling all their HD DVD’s for five dollars. At this point it’s only going to stay in my collection because it’s an HD DVD. I’m waiting until the last three I ordered get here and then it’s a mass clean out and putting the ones I want to dump on swapadvd.com

Is It Worth Keeping? No. It wasn’t even worth watching.
Rating: 3/10