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Archive for May, 2009

DVD of the Day #151 - The X-Files: Season 3

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Hooray! Only six more seasons and two movies to go!

You know the deal: It’s Mulder and Scully taking on all sorts of paranormal things and an evil shadow government. This season brings in a lot of the recurring “mythologies” that the show would be known for, including the Black Oil virus, people getting cancer, and alien colonization. Eddie Fiori from KIndred: The Embraced also shows up a few times as the evil alien bounty hunter.

The Best Episodes from this season:

* Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space.” I always find the pure comedy X-Files to be some of the best episodes and this was no exception. very funny.

* War of the Corophages. Alien robot cockroaches. Awesome

* Syzygy. Valley girl witches!

*Clyde Buckman’s Final Repose. A great episode about prognostication.

*Quagmire. Lock Ness monster wanna-be

The Worst Episodes:

*Avatar. Skinner is stalker by a succubus. The whole episode never really pulls itself together or goes anywhere coherent.

* 2Shy. Freakie mutant that needs to eat human fat to survive.

* Revelations. Here Scully is the believer and Mulder is the skeptic. My problem with this episode is that it gets a lot of basic tenants about stigmata wrong, which ruined it for me.

One of the stupidest parts of the season came in “D.P.O.” where a lot of the episode takes plac ein an arcade. This kid is playing Virtua Fighter 2, but the music is clearly from the Green Hill Zone from the very first Sonic the Hedgehog. Yes, I noticed that immediately. I am a dork. Also, they had a rare four player Spider-Man beat ‘em up in that episode. SWEET!

Overall, I really enjoyed this season, moreso than Season Two. it was a lot of fun and it’s neat seeing this show in full for the first time. Here’s hope it keeps getting better.

Is It Worth Keeping? Yes
Rating: 7/10

DVD of the Day #150 - Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Blu-Ray)

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

Eh. I got it for five dollars (on Blu!) and Sylvia recommended it. Even though I’m not really a fan of indie music, I needed a good date movie in my collection besides No Reservations.

This is a modern version of those John Hughes teen comedies. No it’s not done by John Hughes. Nick and Norah are two teenagers with a love for hipster music. However before th emovie they don’t know each other. They are only connected by Nick’s ex girlfriend with whom he is crazy obsessed with. Nick’s ex gives Norah his mix tapes (Tapes? In 2009?) and she loves his taste in music. One night though, at a club where nick’s band is playing the two meet and end up having a whirlwind trip around New York filled with music, madcap happenings and love. Both Nick and Norah’s ex’s show up and the movie does a great deal of showcasing how hard it is to start a new relationship when your ex’s are still a big part of your life.

The movie has a cast of almost all unknowns save for Kat Dennig, who I know from Charlie Bartlett and Harold/Sulu who has a quick cameo. Although the dialogue is sometimes stilted, the story is very unrealistic, and a lot of things are too serendipitous for my liking, the movie has its charms and I’m sure I’d like it more if I was either A) a girl or B) half my age.

One of the neatest features of the Blu-Ray version of this film is your ability to create a playlist of your own from all the songs featured in this movie and you can then send it to friends with a blu-ray player connected to the internet. How cool is that? Sure the music pretty much sucks my left nut, but this is a great way to showcase the power of Blu.

Although I wouldn’t recommend this movie unless you need a date film and your potential snugglebunny isn’t up for Secretary or Tokyo Gore Police, this is a great choice as it is sweet, sappy and sometimes relaistic.

Is It Worth Keeping? Yeah, but just barely.
Rating: 5.5/10

So Bloody Busy

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Man, when is the last time I actually talked in here about something other than pop culture.

I had a great Memorial Day weekend. I got a lot of running in, and Sunday was jam packed with everything from seeing Angels and Demons to dinner at the Brewing Company down in Shirlington to being accosted by a dude in a tiger fursuit asking us to go see his play. The two of us said sure and were lucky to see the last performance of “A Swedish Tiger” which was a wonderful two man play. It was hilarious one second and then very dark and creepy the next. We thought it was pure surreal existentialism and then it quickly shifted into a dark and honest look at how Sweden was actually supporting the Axis during WWII despite their lies of being neutral. Great, great play. We also made friends with the Tiger who facebooked us.

This week has been crazy busy as I help out various shelters improve their data entry collecting skills and fixing up their null value report. I spent 13 hours with CC yesterday fixing things. However it’s all done and our governmental contacts are crazy impressed with us and more specifically - me. Whoo!

I’m going to go see The Brothers Bloom in a bit. I’ve been waiting for this film for a while.

I’ve already finished Chen Kenichi’s cookbook. Very different from Morimoto’s, but I love the recipes in this one.

Anyone else interested in coming to Salem, MA for hallowe’en this year? I have two or three people signing up right now and I’d love to get a big group going. GUIN! Come on, you know you want to! It’s your holiday of holidays!

Looking forward to King Lear next month. It’s one of the few Shakespeare plays I’ve never seen live. I’m not a big fan of the tragedies but this should still be nifty.

You know what hasn’t aged well? The Flash tv show. Wow, is this awful.

Still unsure what to be for Hallowe’en. However I may just do both. I’ve using the consulting money CSC/NTN owes me to buy that Cobra Commander Helmet. Now I just need a Destro, Zartan and Baroness. I think I may do CC for local parties and D for Salem.

DVD of the Day #149 - Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Man, I love this film. I can’t believe it took me until now to snag a copy. Not only does this film further prove the Caine-Hackman theory, but it’s probably my favourite film with either Michael Caine or Steve Martin.

This is a movie about con artists. One Lawrence Jamison is a suave debonair con artist who uses his ill gotten gains from middle aged women who have more money than brains on things like fine wines, gardens, paintings and other things of elitist beauty. Freddie Benson is new in town and although he is a very low scale con artist compared to Lawrence, he’s still very good at what he does. The two have a love-hate relationship with each other. Sometimes they team up, such as the hilarious Ruprick the Monkey Boy bits, but sometimes they fight.

Finally, things come to ahead and this sleepy little French resort town isn’t big enough for both of them. It’s time for one last con with the winner taking all? The object? To take 10,000 dollars from a young woman, Janet Colgate - the soap queen. Who will prevail?

This movie never fails to make me laugh and its aged exceptionally well. Caine and Martin are amazingly funny and every line is either witty or completely insane. This is one of those films that I have yet to hear anyone say something bad about. Thank god the original two stars dropped out of the project. Their names/ Mick Jagger and David Bowie. It’s also the best movie Yoda ever directed.

If you’re looking for a snappy intelligent comedy filled with characters you will love to hate, this is the comedy for you. If you’ve never seen it, than you really need to. It’s hilarious.

Is It Worth Keeping? Yes
Rating: 8/10

DVD of the Day #148 - Iron Chef USA

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Please note, this is not the shitastic fake Iron Chef that airs on the Food Network that is a disgrace to the classic program. These matches are not mixed, the contestants aren’t alerted to the ingredient ahead of time. The cooks aren’t shit and the judges aren’t retarded. This is not Iron Chef America - this is Iron Chef USA.

For those of you that don’t remember, UPN tried an Americanized Iron Chef back in the year 2000. Only two episodes were filmed and it was pretty much a straight lift from the Japanese concept rather than what currently airs. It even had a B-Movie actor called William Shatner playing the Chairman in much the same way that Jesus ChristKaga played the chairman in the original Iron Chef.

The chefs here are actually awesome. Where the Food Network version only has Mario Batali and Morimoto that are quality (Seriously, fuck Flay, Coro and Symon), Iron Chef USA had four amazing chefs. Todd English, Iron Chef America. Ray Yamaguchi, Iron Chef Asia, Jean Francois Meteigner, Iron Chef France, and Alessandro Siratta, Iron Chef Italy. Oddly enough neither Heather nor I had heard of Iron Chef Itallian, but the’s a 2 star Michelin chef, so nice. I’ll have to check him out next time I’m in Vegas.

There are only two battles on here. The first is Iron Chef America Todd English against Kerry Simon in battle Crab and Siratta vs. Marcus Samuelsson in BATTLE ORGANIC FREE RANGE TURKEY. Both battles were a lot of fun, and it was interesting to see that even though this DVD is nearly ten years old, the dishes were amazing and far ahead of their time. It’s too bad they didn’t keep this series up, albeit with better commentators, as this was a lot more fun to watch than Iron Chef America. Shatner was awesome, the food was neat and the judges, inlcuding Ron Popeil knew what they were doing.

For five dollars, this rare little DVD was quite the prize and a nice way to cap off an wacky evening. Now if only the original Iron Chef would get released on DVD. .

Is It Worth Keeping? Yes
Rating: 7/10

DVD of the Day #147 : A Wind Named Amnesia

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Wow, going back to 1993 and Central Park media. I’ve always been interested in seeing this, but it’s a slightly hard to find DVD. Imagine my surprise when it ended up on Swapadvd.com! I was happy to find it, especially as I love all things Hideyuki Kikuchi. I’ve heard this particular anime is one that people either really love or really hate. I’m happy to say that after viewing it for the first time, I’m easily in the “loves it” column.

It’s important to point out that this film is not about lots of things dying in horrible ways ala Vampire Hunter D There is some death, a tiny bit of nudity at the end and a little violence, but this movie is all about the contemplation of what it means to be human. Are we inhereintly good or evil? Savage or kind? What is humanity at its base essence?

One day a wind sweeps across the land. It takes the memory of all human being. How to use tools. How to speak. Who you were. Everything. Every human on the planet is reduced to a blank slate with only instinct left.

Two years later there is a young man named Waturu is driving a jeep around a city while an old mech on auto-pilot slaughters a collection of humans scavening for food. Waturu runs into a woman named Sophia and both are shocked that the other can talk and have memories. Waturu was a victim of the wind but he was slowly educated by a young man named Johnny. Johnny had a computer in his head that retained all his memories for him. He was a government experiment. Johnny helps re-educate Waturu and then after Johnny dies, Waturu fulfills his mission of driving around the world trying to see what is left of humanity. Sophia has a similair goal, but for very different reasons. Together the two set out from Montana to New York City to see the world, and to see is Waturu can help rebuild society, restore anyone’s memories, or just get someone who wants to learn how the world used to be.

A Wind Named Amnesia is a compelling, beautiful story about humanity. I was shocked how drawn to this film I was. I loved all the characters and seeing the world fresh through their eyes. Eventually we do learn what caused the loss of memory, but I have to admit I wished they hadn’t told us. I would have preferred it to have just happened without rhyme or reason. It’s a very dark movie, yet it’s also uplifting in how it speaks of the human spirit and how the best of us can overcome anything. At the same time it does show that the vast majority of humans are sefl-centered monsters at best.

This is one of those anime films that I think everyone can enjoy, even if they’re not fans of animation, or Japanese animation in particular. Hideyuki Kikuchi is an amazing writer, and this adaptation of his 1990 novel really shows why so many people clamoured ot have his works translated into English. Both the Japanese and American voice acting casts are teriffic, and if anything, I wish the film was longer than it was.

Is It Worth Keeping? Yes
Rating: 8.5/10

Review #281

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Cross Edge
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Compile Heart
Genre: Turn Based RPG
Release Date: 05/27/2009

A game called X Edge arrived on my doorstep in late September of 2008. It was yet another mashup RPG, but what a cast. Disgaea, Darkstalkers, Spectral Souls, Atelier Marie, Mana Khemia and Ar Tonelico. What a fun cast. Although many people thought the game would never head to the States, I knew better. Of course that was mainly due to NIS America strongly hinting at it back in August of 2008. I, however, was unwilling to wait, and over the past eight months I’ve managed to achieve two different endings. Now I’m sitting here with the US localization, Cross Edge and it’s now finally time to review this thing.

Long time readers will remember I put X Edge in my top ten games of 2008, so obviously, I really liked the game. As such, I’ll be more reviewing the changes and translation than anything else, but I’ll still touch on the basics. I’m happy to report at the half way point to the True Ending for Cross Edge in the US version, the game is still as great as it was when I played it in Japanese, but I can’t deny that part of the appeal for me is in my love of Disagea and Darkstalkers. I’m prettyt much sold on any game featuring Prinnies and Demitri.

So you’ve heard me talk about the game for months now. Let’s see just why this is a must buy for RPG fans across the board, even if you haven’t played some of the franchises features in this game.
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DVD of the Day #146: The Condemned

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

I never really wanted to see The Condemned. I’m not a fan of Stone Cold Steve Austin. He’s a pretty shitty human being. I’m not a fan of the idea of an adult Battle Royale meets the internet either. However, it was free and it co-starred Vinnie Jones, so I decided to give it a try. After all, how bloody awful could it be?

Well, it wasn’t good; that’s for sure. The script had more holes than Swiss Cheese, the death scenes were all pretty lame. The ending was anti-climatic. The acting was decent, but none of the actors had much to work with, and the movie had no real value whatsoever. The only redeeming point was Vinnie Jones as a dickweed killer. He was his usual hilariously brillant self here. It’s a shame he’s not in better movies.

The plot is a very unrealistic one. Rich Tv producer buys 10 people off death row from various prisons around the world. Now they will be dropped off on an island in Oceania where they will be forced to fight to death until only one survives. The survivor will be allowed to go free, and with a big sack of money to boot. Each prisoner is also tagged with a plastic explosive device on their leg. if tampered with, kablooie. Sadly a lot of people die in this way rather than in interesting or creative deaths. Of course Stone Cold is the one guy on the island who isn’t a psychopathic evil killer. He’s a good guy special forces black ops agent left to rot in an Hondurus prison after the dismantling of a drug cartel went wrong. He doesn’t want to kill or fight any of the other contestants. He’s a good guy through and through. Uh oih? Did you turn out to be extra bad? Well now he has to kill you. Oy.

I swear to god, the WWE needs to stop making films. The most hilarious part was how they filmed to avoid Austin’s ever growing beer belly. Seriously, who ever thought this man could be an actor or an action hero? Hell, I’ll never get how he became a popular wrestler in the first place.

Is It Worth Keeping? No.
Rating: 4/10

DVD of the Day #145- Gatchaman: Collection One

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Wow, this was awful. Awful beyond words. I used to love G-Force and Battle For the Planets as a kid. The cartoons and the old Gold Key comics were great. So when I heard they were restoring the original series and bringing it to the US unedited and with a better translation, my interest was piqued. Of course, not enough to buy it, but when it showed up on Swapadvd.com, I deicded to grab this collection, which contains the first two DVD’s (12 episodes) and a DVD of nothing but special features.

The plots were so stupid, slow-paced and dull that it took all my willpower to keep watching. From the Deus Ex Machina of the Phoenix ship to the stupid enemies, I think slitting my wrists would have been a more enjoyable experience. “Oh no! Giant cockroach people want to steal all the world’s sugar. Ho ho ho, the fat guy is very sad about this.” Wow, this was just plain bad and it’s a great example of why some animes needed the Working-Designs, esque translation instead of a direct and literal localization.

Every character is two-dimensional. It’s sad to see my favorite Ken, go from being a bad ass to a guy that just says, “Let’s shoot a bird missle at it.” it was like the parody of Johnny Quest in Freakazoid where the Race bannon character just wants to huck boulders at giant robots.

There is nothing redeemable about this version of Gatchaman. The anime has aged so poorly, that it’s hard to watch - and this is the remastered version. Both the English and Japanese voice acting borders on terrible and I can’t imagine anyone being able to enjoy this. It was so bad I really wanted to stop watching, and this was the first time this has happened in the past 145 days I been doing this New Year’s Resolution.

Seriously, leave your childhood memories pristine and pure and don’t go anywhere near this series. Gatchaman is fucking awful. Bad scripts, bad characters, bad animation, bad music, bad EVERYTHING.

Is It Worth Keeping It’s worth burning to get the taste out.
Rating: 2/10

Review #280

Monday, May 25th, 2009

EA Active
Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Exercise
Release Date: 05/18/2009

It’s funny how life goes. When Wii Fit first came out, reviewers were slobbering all over each other trying to praise the thing and all but calling it the answer to the prayers of millions of lethargic overweight couch potatoes. But then, those reviewers weren’t what one would call in-shape themselves.

Then you had me. I am a pretty active person with a bit of an exercise obsession. I actually tore into the Wii Fit for being a pile of crap that taught incorrect stances, procedures and motions and that the game could potentially hurt one far more than help them. In my review, I enlisted several exercise professionals ranging from tri-athletes to yoga instructors to long distance runners. We all unanimously agreed that the Wii Fit was modern day snake oil preying on the innocent, naive and stupid alike. However that didn’t stop people from buying the game in droves, only to watch it sit unused and gathering dust a week later. Now nearly a year later, even sites that gave the Wii Fit an “A” or 9/10 rating admit they were suckered into the hype and have since called it a “miss-fire.” Good to know that other gaming sites have both integrity and the ability to actually review products with a discerning eye so as to help their readers rather than relieve them of their expendable assets, no?

Over the past year, many a game has come out trying to promise exercise and health benefits while playing. To this day, only one game has gotten it correctly. That’s Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout. Now EA Active has finally come out boasting Balance Board compatibility and a few new items to help you like a resistance band and a hip pocket for your numchuk. Has EA made the second quality exercise game on the market, or is this yet another piece of crap designed to take a lot of gamer’s money?
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