Tuesday, May 30, 2006

"The Da Vinci Code Review"

The movie, not the book... fuck reading. I don't have the patience to sit and stare at thousands of words until they entertain me. Reading is far too time consuming and an archaic form of entertainment as far as I'm concerned. It's akin to gathering the family 'round the ol' RCA to listen to the latest radio drama.

That being said, it's not too surprising to know that I only had a very vague idea of what the hell this movie was about. I knew it was based on some hotshit book that sold tons of copies, and only right before I went to go see it did I find out that religious freaks were boycotting it. Yes, I was that clueless.

I honestly expected it to be a lot more about Da Vinci and a lot less about Christianity, but that explains the religious nuts being all up and arms about it doesn't it? I'm quasi-Cahtolic, and I still don't get why Catholics get their panties in a bind over works of fiction like this.

Anyway, I liked it. It wasn't the best movie or even story I had ever come across, but it was definitely not bad. There were certain elements that I felt were a little silly, but I'm not sure if the movie or the book was to blame. For instance, as soon as it was revealed that the Grail was a person, I knew it was Sophie. It was ridiculous to even pretend that the audience wouldn't figure that out right then and there (though it's definitely possible for even me to underestimate the general public.) Also, why the fuck did Sophie's 'grandfather' make shit so fucking hard to figure out? To protect the secret? The puzzles were so convoluted that it was easily possible for no one to be able to makes sense of the clues. If the location of the Grail was so damn important, why would he risk it being lost forever by creating all those impossibly random puzzles? Silly I tell you.

However, for the most part, if you suspend disbelief for long enough, the story isn't too bad. You see, the REAL reason for those crazy-ass puzzles is to entertain the reader/movie-goer. Traveling from place to place, figuring out clues, avoiding the bad guys, cracking the code. Exciting! Drama! Adventure! And indeed, there were enough twists and turns that kept me focused (although Claire did fall asleep in certain places.) It kind of reminded me of an Indiana Jones adventure with fewer tribal natives and a far less cool protagonist.

And as far as characters go, I expecially liked Silas. His parts in the movie were fucking awesome. If Silas was in the scene, people were like... Oh, fuck, what's gonna happen now? He evoked emotion and tension. Teabing was great too. He had some awesome lines, and I was genuinely convinced by his convinction. So, yeah, Magneto did a great job. Too bad the other characters weren't as interesting. I mean Hanks was OK, but I really didn't give too big of a shit (maybe a shart) about Sophie. She could have easily been relegated to flashbacks and an appearance towards the end. I just didn't care about her.

It was interesting to me that there didn't seem to be any true 'bad' guys. Sure, there were people that chased our hero around, but I really can't fault any of them. The Bishop was doing what he thought was right. Silas was doing what he thought was right. Fache was doing what he though was right. Same with Teabing and Sophie. And really, who are we to say which faction was right or wrong? I could see both sides of the argument, and didn't really know who to root for. Hell, even Sophie didn't know if she was going to let the cat out of the bag once she found out she was the Grail.

Overall, I'd recommend this movie for those that enjoy thrillers/mysteries. If you're a fan of the book, you'll probably like this movie too because it appears that the movie is quite close to the book (according to what I've read about the whole Da Vince Code thing.) I'd say this movie is 8 times better than the Transporter.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"Sony PS3"

The PS3 details have been announced. Wow. $499 for the basic model and $599 for the full blown version. Wow. I am honestly surprised. I was thinking that it would be $450 tops. And I didn't even consider the possibility of them releasing two versions. I think Sony is in trouble. They're going to be a year late to the game and with a console that's 50% more expensive too. I know that their $599 console has some cool features like built-in WiFi, a fat 60GB HDD, a motion sensitive controller (Hi, Nintendo!,) and an HDMI port, but damn... that's a lot of money for your average Joe Gamer.

I know I'll be buying one of course. The Deluxe model please. And I know that their initial allotment will sell out because there are enough hardcore gamers out there to snatch them up, but its hard to make it in the games business catering to the hardcore gamer. I mean, you can do well for yourself catering to the hardcore, but you're not going to be the industry leader. And I doubt Sony will be happy relinquishing their industry leader crown.

Personally, I think Blu-Ray fucked them. First, it caused a delay in the shipment of the PS3. Now, it's causing the PS3 to be expensive as fuck. Way to go. I don't even think that the public is ready for either HDDVD or Blu-Ray. People only recently rebuilt their movie library with DVDs after tossing their VHS tapes. Now they're being asked to rebuild it again? It's too soon. The only saving grace is that the new HD disc players are backwards compatible. That helps, but I still don't see too many people re-buying their movies on an HD disc format anytime soon... at least not en masse.

Blu-Ray on PS3 is akin to the boneheaded move Nintendo made opting for a catridge based N64. They'll survive, but they're not going to lead. Sony's reign at #1 will end. Who'll take over #1 spot? MS? Perhaps? Nintendo? Possibly. But count Sony out of the top spot this time around.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

"Silent Hill Review"

Hmmm... why does it seem like I only review horror movies? I don't even consider myself a horror movie aficionado. Maybe it's because they're often so bad that they piss me off enough to make me write something up about them. Or Maybe its because I feel compelled to warn others not to waste their time or money on them. No, wait, those were my motives for reviewing the "The Transporter"... a horror of a movie more than a horror movie, but still, it's scary that it got a sequel. What the fuck was I talking about? Oh, horror movies... Silent Hill. Right.

Before release, many of the gaming websites who are usually cynical about game-to-movie adaptations were opining that Silent Hill could actually be pretty good. The trailer looked very Silent Hill-y. The script writer, Roger Avery, was a huge gamer who was so hardcare that he even restored old Atari arcade uprights as a hobby. It had a decent director in Chris Gans (also a gamer.) And most importantly, Uwe Boll had nothing to do with it. The game community just ate it up. Who can blame them? They were starved for a even a decent game-to-silverscreen flick.

Then came the first sign of trouble: no advanced screening for reviewers. That's never a good sign. Personally, I never like to read reviews of movies that I plan to see. So it didn't really bother me that I couldn't use movie reviews to gauge my expectations. When I heard that there were no advanced sceenings, it was more of a "Oh, shit. That better not mean it's gonna suck!" reaction. Even still, I went to go see it with the not-so-high hopes that it would be the best video game movie yet. And you know what? I'm not so sure that it wasn't.

Most of my friends hated it. Then again, most of my friends are idiots. Now I'm not going to say that Silent Hill was a great movie, but it doesn't take much to take the Best Video Game Movie Ever crown. C'mon... what it's up against? Mortal Kombat? Tomb Raider? Resident Evil? It's not like those movies are in danger of ever making the AFI top 100 movies of all time. Honestly, I don't know what my friends were expecting out of Silent Hill. A direct game-to-movie script? *MORE* gore? Bare breasts? Hmmm... honestly, there's never too much tittage in horror movies as far as I'm concerned. I mean, if you've already got the R rating... Right? Right.

So what things did I like? Well, first of all, I liked the mood. It 'felt' like Silent Hill. I also liked how they explained the fogginess and how the town was evacuated so quickly. I've only played through Silent Hill 2 so maybe some people were more bothered by the lack of strict adherence to the game script, but I didn't mind it. If you're trying to condense hours upon hours of gameplay into a 2 hour movie, you're gonna need to change some shit around, and I think Avery did a decent job of it while Gans did a good job of visualizing it for us.

And what didn't I like? The worst thing about the movie, for me, was that even though it was way long for a horror flick, that they wussed out and summed up the 'why?' in a spoken 15 minute segment. It felt to me like they were telling the story, and then they ran out of time so they just broke down and hand fed us the reasoning for everything so that they could get to the climactic boss battle at the end. It would probably have been better as a Kill Bill-ish Vol 1/Vol 2 deal. Though I'm sure that was not an option as far as Hollywood business goes.

Also, while I liked Avery's handling of the setting, his dialogue sucked. I absolutely hate hearing the audience laugh during horror movies, but some of the dialogue in Slient Hill was so absurd that I could totally understand why the audience was chuckling in some places.

Overall, I liked Silent Hill. And it seems like most gamers liked it. It was just the critics that hated the shit out of it (and my stupid friends.) Kotaku had a post on how movie review sites like MetaCritic and Rotten Tomatoes had complied overwhelmingly negative critics' reveiws for the movie while the user ratings on those same sites were overwhelmingly positive. Even on IMDB, Silent Hill has earned, up to this point, a respectable 6.7 out of 10 rating. If you're wondering if you've missed anything by not playing the games. Probably not. Like I said, I only played through one of the four Silent Hill games myself.

My Rating: 7.5 x better than The Transporter.