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Archive for June, 2009

DVD of the Day #175 El-Hazard: The Alternative World

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

I picked the whole series up off of Swapadvd.com. It’s out of print and it’s a sister series to Tenchi Muyo!, so I thought it might be fun to check this out. Alas, it was nowhere as good as the Tenchi series, and even worse you had to wave watched the other two El-Hazard series for this to make any real sense. Because of this, The Alternative WorldTenchi in any way so I am left wondering why this is considered a sister series to that anime franchise.

The whole series revolves around the cast of the original El-Hazard being accidentally teleported to an alternate world which is a bit odd considering EL-Hazard was an alternate world to begin with. There’s a subplot about a new priestess, the Spring of Life, the Rule of the Universe, and some perverted lesbians, but to be honest, I can’t really tell you what this was about as there were some many ovatures to the other series I have no idea what was going on half the time except for fantasy adventures and hijinx.

This is a perfect example of how not to make an anime friendly to new viewers. Let’s take that aforementioned Slayers. You could watch say, Slayers Next without watching the original series. The series re-introduces characters and gives their previously relationships perfectly. Not so here. This is only for hardcore ardent fans of the original two or three series and as such no one else will be able to enjoy or even understand this. Disappointing pickup on my part.

Is This Worth keeping? No.
Rating: 3/10

Happy Birthday Baby!

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Three Years Ago my friends Matt and Danielle found a baby bunny. A very tiny, very friendly grey and white bunny. However neither of them could keep her. So who did she go to?

Three years later that rabbit is happil snuggled up on my bed with an organic carrot larger than her tiny little frame. Alas, Cake Love didn’t have carrot cupcakes like they did on Mr. Chewie Biteum’s b-day.

Yay for snuggly bunnies!

DVD of the Day #174: Lucario and the Mystery of the Mew

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I’ve actually avoided watching this DVD simply because like the Jirachi film, this was done by the Pokemon USA enforced voice acting cast rather than the original cast and crew of Pokemon which is generally considered one of the best voice acting ensembles ever. It was a straight port from the Slayers and Valkyrie Profile teams, which tells you the quality? The new cast and translations to be honest…really sucked and even though it’s been several years, it’s stilla noticeable drop in quality. To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Pokemon this 2 disc DVD set was released. The first features the Lucario and Mew film and the other is a horrible piece of dreck called The Mastermind of the Mirage Pokemon which is easily the worst animated Pokemon film ever and should never be spoke of again. It’s just a piece of crap about illusionary Pokemon coming to live and it’s just simply awful in terms of plot, animation and characterization. The horrid voice acting doesn’t help either. God, especially the new Mew. Mew has gone from being the cutest Pokemon in terms of VA to the absolute worst. Just…avoid the second DVD. That’s all I’m saying.

As for the main feature, the best part about it is that is has an extended version of “Unbeatable” which is the second best Pokemon theme song since “Pokemon Johto.”

This is a weird and pretty convoluted story involving time travel, magic and aura power akin to Ryu or Goku. Tres lame. Basically many centuries ago there was a big war between kingdoms that used Pokemon as army troops and a small little kingdom inbetween was going to be destroyed by the onslaught. Thanks to Lucario and his human master, the kingdom was spared and the war was stopped, but the human and Lucario disappeared. Flash foward to “modern times’ in the Pokemon world and Ash has just won a contest held in honour of that fateful day. He is given a royal staff when out pops the Pokemon Lucario who was held in there for centuries. He is pretty pissed off and claims that Sir Aaron actually abandonded the kingdom and didn’t save it. At the same time, Pikachu and Meowth are teleported away by a Meowth when they are attacked by two Weavilles. As Pikachu and Meowth both appear to be held in the last place Sir Aaron was seen, Ash, his friends, Team Rocket and Lucario all journey to the Tree Of Life where we learn that nature considers humanity a disease and creates antibodies to kill them all. Well, the ones in the tree of life anyway. Blah Blah Blah Lucario saves the day at the cost of his life. The end.

Again, this is easily the worst of all the Pokemon films and is certainly one to be avoided. This and Jirachi WishMaker are proof that Pokemon USA had no idea what they were doing with the anime and damn near killed it. It’s gotten better, but they’ve still fucked up marketing, merchandising and the anime nearly beyond repair.

Is It Worth Keeping? No.
Rating: 3/10

DVD of the Day #173 War, Inc. (Blu-Ray)

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

John Cusack. Hilary Duff. Marisa Tomei. Joan Cusack. Ben KIngsley. It’s the sequel to Gross Pointe Blank! It’s a Blu-Ray than was only $9.99 when the DVD was $15. It sounds like a winning combination, right?

Well, not really? First of all. it’s not a true sequel to GPB. It was supposed to be, but producers and the like got involved and eventually it became a sequel in the same way Fierce Creatures is a sequel to A Fish Called Wanda. Second, the movie isn’t the laugh out loud funny. There are some bits that are but really, this film is a black comedy written by John Cusack and it is meant to be a dark parody of what the Bush-Cheney administration did to our country. From commericalizing war so that corporations profit from human misery to the fact that our female pop stars are basically telling little girls to act like stupid drug-addled whores, Cusack spares no punches. This film is at times uncomfortable and at others so over the top it’s almost too realistic. As such, this is not your usual Cusack style comedy. This is pretty dark and yet I think the end result works better than a straight up farce.

Cusack plays a hitman who now works for a corporation that bears more than a slight resemblance to Haliburton with his contact played by Dan Akyroid doing his best Dick Cheney. Marisa Tomei is a journalist trying to prove that evil intents of this corporation that bombed the crap out of Turkenstein and is now rebuilding the country in true capitalism style. Hilary Duff plays Yonika, an Arabic interpretation/sexualization of Paris Hilton, Brittany Spears and Lindsay Lohan. Ben Kingsley is a mysterious figure basically playing the exact opposite of Gahndi.

Cusask is here to assassinate the ruler or Turkemistan and his cover is Trade Shoe coordinator. Of course, the ruler, Omar Shariff, is about to wed his son to Yonika. Can Cusack’s character keep his cover, seduce Tomei, get over his heebie jeebies regarding Yonika and still kill the ruler of Turkmenistan all while confessing to his Guidestar operative that he is having second thoughts on his career path?

The film is quite good, although a little preachy and even though the climax is a bit stupid with a revelation between two characters that is far too convoluted to be beliveable, the film does an excellent job. Hilary Duff has never better acting wise (and she’s actually attractive her. Great, now I feel like a dirty old man) and this only the third film I have ever liked Cusack in (1408 and GPB are the other two). I was a bit disappointed at first with the overall film due to the fact it wasn’t a direct sequel to GPB and wasn’t as funny as I expected, but in retrospect it was a decent film and worth the ten bucks for a blu-ray.

Is It Worth Keeping? Yes, at least until I watch it a second time.
Rating: 5.5/10

Review #287

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

My Healthy Cooking Coach
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Genre: Cook Book
Release Date: 6/23/2009

Around Thanksgiving of 2008, Nintendo released an unlikely hit for the Nintendo DS: Personal Trainer: Cooking. In yet another example of outside the box thinking that paid off, Nintendo managed to win over a decent number of people who don’t normally buy games. The Lisa Kudrow marketing campaign made it a popular item for parents to use with their kids. Oddly enough though, the game didn’t inspire a huge outcropping of clones. Sure there have been numerous cooking games like Jaime Oliver’s, Hell’s Kitchen, and Gourmet Chef, but none have outright copied the PT:C formula to the point of nigh planarization. Until now. My Healthy Cooking Coach appears to be almost the exact same game at PT:C, but with different recipes and Ubisoft publishing the title instead of the Big N. It’s also ten dollars more than PT:C which is a bit of an eyebrow raiser as well. I mean, a DS title more expensive than a first party Nintendo version? That has to be a first.

So is MHCC just a close of Nintendo’s original (and cheaper) game, or is there something about MHCC worth adding a second virtual cookbook to your collection?

DVD of the Day #172 - The Sickhouse

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Okay, I had wanted to see this film for a while, but once it arrived I had two trepidations. The first was that the film was British and god knows British horror over the past decade has been shit-tastic AT BEST. The second was that this film was 129 minutes long. NO horror movie should be two hours long. They’re meant to be fast-paced adrenaline rides. The Sickhouse however was a nonsensical slow moving waste of time. Oh my god it was dumb. Nothing about the movie worked. Bad acting, bad camera work, bad plot, and an incredibally stupid ending. Also, there is time travel involved somehow which comes out of nowhere and makes this movie as stupid as the “Legion of cats Vs. vampire” bit from Let the Right One In.”

The movie revolves around an American Archaelogist who is trying to prove that the Black Plague of the 17th Century was actually spread by an evil cult and their lord, The Plague Doctor. However, the site still has live bubonic plague and so the UK equivalent of the CDC is going to shut down the dig FOREVER. Even though that plague is still alive and well today and it’s not that big of a deal. hell, India still has occasional outbreaks and very few people die. It’s three centuries since the plague was a big deal so who the fuck cares? Of course this means the woman sneaks in after hours without telling anyone as she has to have proof about an evil death cult.

At the same time a car of four yobbos is driving around and gets into an accident. Somehow all four get into the plague hospital even though it was underground and one of them is really injured. It’s never shown how they get in. They just do. Eventually all five meet up and try to escape the hospital which has now locked themn in. Apparently they have freed the cult ghosts who are trying to kill all five in a specific pattern so the Plague Doctor can be reborn into flesh and kill 1/3rd of the world again.

He succeeds. They all die. There. I’ve just saved you over two hours of boring bullshit.

Just an awful horror movie through and through.

Is It Worth Keeping? No.

Rating: 2/10

Review #286

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

Class of Heroes
Publisher: Atlus USA
Developer: Zerodiv
Genre: Dungeon Crawler
Release Date: 06/09/2009

Ah, the dungeon crawler: the original RPG genre. These days Atlus USA is the only one publishing these titles, with games like The Dark Spire and Etrian Odyssey. So far this series this genre had suffered from two big problems. The first is that none of the game released in this genre this decade have come close to the games that originated this genre. Games like Wizardry, The Bard’s Tale, the old SSI AD&D games and more. This genre was once the backbone of American PC gaming. It’s since all but become extinct on this side of the Atlantic, with the last remnants being made by Japanese companies like Success and the creators of Class of Heroes, Zerodiv, of which this is their first game.

The second problem is that the genre has been confined to the Nintendo DS, denying PSP fans the opportunity to experience the newest entries into this genre. Of course, with the PSP firmware being exceptionally easy to crack, one could point out that true fans of this genre could play The Return of Werdna or Shining the Holy Ark, but those would be grey-area legal aspects at best if you did that.

The second problem is at least solved by the release of Class of Heroes, but the real question is whether or not we finally have a QUALITY entry into this genre for the system. Let’s find out.

DVD of the Day #171: The Alphabet Killer

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

Yet another movie I was suckered into seeing because the trailer looked interesting and the cast was solid. Eliza Dusku, Cary Elwes, Michael Ironside, Timothy Hutton and more. Sounds like a potential winner, right? Well it’s not.

The Alphabet Killer is supposedly based on a true story. Yes, there was an Alphabet Killer and he was never caught, but that’s the only thing this movie and reality share.

Eliza Dushku plays a one-time detective who is trying to solve the murder of this killer’s first victim when she is hit with an onset of Adult Schizphrenia and she thinks the ghost of the dead girl is talking to her. OR IS IT SCHIZOPHRENIA? No, it really is. Eliza freaks out so badly, she tries to killer herself to get away from the “haunting.”

Flash forward two years later, Eliza is in therapy for her schizohrenia and has a desk job back at the police station. Then the killings start again and it appears Eliza’s original theory about the killer’s pattern is correct. Eliza is brought back on as a consultant on the case all while each death adds a new schizo ghost to her. Will she stop the killer in time?

Although the movie is only 100 minutes long, it is so slow and boring you will swear it is two hours long. Even worse is the ending. I don’t like to spoil movies but it turns out that the killer is someone in Eliza’s Schizo therapy class who started killing again using her own theory to try and help her our. See, if her theory proves true then she can be a detective again! So Eliza’s own schizphrenia leads to the one time killer becoming a serial killer. This is NOT what happened in real life by the way. The movie ends with the killer maybe getting away even though she shoots him five times and Eliza spends the rest of her life deeply medicated so that she is in an almost coma while her brain is still active and the schizo ghosts still haunt her. BUM BUM BUM.

In short, this is a bad film. All of the actors are phoning it in and the script is as insane as the schizophrenics in the movie. This is simply a must miss on all ends. Stay far away. Thank god this only cost me $1.86.

Is It Worth Keeping? No
Rating: 3/10

DVD # 170: Sideshow: Alive on the Inside

Friday, June 19th, 2009

This is probably my favourite documentary of all time. I remember I first saw it in late. Ronni, my Rabbit Zuel and I were all in our dorm room and it sounded like a neat topic so we all watched it together. For two hours we sat mezmerized to the TV and we all fell in love with it. Well, Zuel didn’t. She was just happy we sat still for two hours and pet her nonstop while watching circus freaks. For the next four years, we watched it each time TLC aired it. I kept waiting for it to show up on VHS, but it never did. Finally, right before I moved to DC, I found it on DVD via amazon.com. I was so excited and ordered it right away. It was just as awesome as I remember.

On May 22nd, (Which should tell you how far ahead I have these stockpiled) Heather, Vlad, and I were thinking of what to watch and I suggested this as I hadn’t seen it in about two years. Both thought it sounded neat and by the time it was done, Heather seemed to love it as much as I did. Vlad however, was exhausted in the first place and fell asleep so I don’t know what, if anything, he remembers about this.

Sideshow tells the history of not only the sideshow, but some of its most famous performers. The Monkey Lady. The Half Girl. The Lizard Man. Siamese Twins. Jim Rose. The Enigma. It’s a wonderful and positive look at something that isn’t around anymore due to political correctness. All of these performers loved their time in the spotlight and were never treated poorly.

Sideshow is narrated by Jason Alexander, who is a perfect fit for the theme. He has a great voice for barking and discussing the bizarre. He takes the job very serious and never once does he treat the people who made the sideshow as comedy fodder.

There is one sad part about this documentary. As it was filmed in 1996, many of the people focused on in this documentary are now most likely dead. I didn’t feel like looking them up as it would be a bit depressing. As each one passes, so too does a piece of Americana and history. It’s something that will never be brought back (although they tried in the 1990’s to a small degree of success), which is probably a good thing considering how many of these performers have physical ailments or mutations that can be taken care of at birth. For example, it’s far easier to split siamese twince in 2009 than it was fifty years ago. If you’ve ever been interested in sideshows or the people that starred in them, you need to get this ASAP. There’s not a better documentary on the subject available, and it’s crazy cheap these days.

DVD of the Day #169: The X-Files: Season Four

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Wow, we’re almost to the halfway point! I might actually see the whole series before the end of the year!

So far, each season of The X-Files has been better than the last and I loved this one. Except for the lame Mulder commits suicide cliff-hanger, there was nary a low-point in the season. You know the drill right? Scully and Mulder vs. Aliens, government conspiracies and an evil smoking dude.

Best Episodes Include:

Home: Inbreeding is your friend!

Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man: The origins of Cancer Man, which is sad, awesome and hilarious all at once.

El Mundio Gira: A somewhat comical look at El Chupacabra

Small Potatoes: Another somewhat comical episode about a shapeshifter who tries to score with Scully while disguised as Mulder

Leonard Betts: A guy with regeneration powers that would make Wolverine impressed.

Worst Episodes Included:

The Field Where I Died - reincarnation episode. I’m never a fan of reincarnation in sci-fi

Never Again: Tattoo Ink that causes Schizophrenia. Okay then.

Teliko: Kind of an African vampire thing where this guy eats melanin to survive. It’s not the script that put me out here. Rather, it was the acting.

The real focus of the season is on Scully and her inoperable cancer which is slowly killing her. She gets weaker and weaker as the season goes on and Gillian Anderson does a great acting job. You really feel for her as the show goes on.

I’ve been told the series slowly goes down hill from the next season on, but I’m keeping an open mind. Right now, I’m really enjoying this show and a bit sad I never watched it when it was actually on save for an episode here or there.

Is It Worth Keeping? Yes.
Rating: 7/10

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