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Monday, September 30, 2013

GTA V Review: City of Anger.

What was the first thing that popped into my head when I saw the credits roll on the most lucrative intellectual property in history? "That was special." I did not think it lightly. Even after all the hype, all the money, and all the controversy, I still walked away with my jaw trailing on the ground behind me. Just a few hours in, I could see myself calling it one of the greatest games of all time. If you had told me someone had switched out a ps4 with my ps3 I would have believed you. It's the same feeling I had with Resident Evil 4 on my ol' ps2 back in the day, the feeling that this old console should not be able to pull off something so smooth and so gorgeous.

Technically it's the most impressive game I've ever played. The framerate is solid and even when it dips, it's never unplayable. The shadows are stark as well as refined and the draw distance is massive. As far as I'm concerned, 2K has a voodoo priest in residence. I mean, for a game that's actually bigger than most major cities, I don't think I ever noticed a single re-used asset. It seems like every street corner in Los Santos is unique and lovingly crafted. I got scared after a while. Because I thought to myself, "What if this is it? What if this never happens again? What if this is the tipping point!?" I was so impressed by GTA V I feared I'd never be that impressed again. In case you're wondering, that is the most positive compliment I have ever paid a video game and one I have seldom given to other art forms (HINT: I'm writing this hours away from the Breaking Bad finale).

But who or what is it all about? That's a good question, and after finishing the whole 35 hour affair, I'd say it's personally become an even better question. The game is centered around three playable career bank robbers from different sides of the track. Michael (who is the de facto lead because he gets the most screen time and development by far), pulled the "one last job" 9 years ago and is stewing miserably in his shmacy Beverly Hills mansion with his vacuous and resentful family. Franklin is sick of working in a two-bit car insurance repo scam and wants to get out of the Los Santos hood in every sense of the word. Trevor... Trevor is something else. The raging id of the GTA player made flesh, I don't want to ruin any more than that. He does not disappoint.

"These shoes... match right?"

The lead performances are phenomenal. From the monologue grandstanding to the ambient driving conversations. Just listening to Mike thanking a taxi service over the phone is somehow impressive. I believed he was really talking to someone. Mike, Frank, and Trevor will go down as three of the greatest characters in video game history. That's a guarantee at this point, but what is it you spend time with them doing?

I could type 3000 words solely explaining what you can do in this game. From bar hopping, to letter scrap collecting, to big foot hunting, to contract assassinations, to playing the stock market with the fallout of aforementioned assassinations... It's too much. It's literally too much. The side stuff is at least just as meaty as the 30 hour story. Bravo Rockstar, you pat yourself on the back, now.

"I can see the curvature of the earth form here!"  

Seriously, you can see the curvature of the earth in this game.

So the characters are great, the world is convincing, the bonus features are the size of most games, what's the story all about? If I had to pick the major themes, I'd say pride and masculinity. I'd like to go deeper than that, but on the whole there's not much in the character arc department. Not that it's a huge problem, it's just something you notice after putting the thing down for a few days. Moment to moment the story is interesting at worst, and riveting at best. The gossamer web of hubris and profanity that leads you through mass amounts of murder, theft, and terrorism is something you'll have a hard time looking away from.

This is, by a wide margin, the most entertaining GTA since we last left Los Santos in 2004. The mission variety and the four act breaking heists are evidence of a triple A dev at the top of their game. At first you think, "hmm, a yacht chase on the freeway... they'll totally run out of steam in 10 missions, you watch." And I did watch. For 50 more missions, they still had plenty of gas in the tank.

But the one thing you shouldn't do is pick at the story too much. Character motivation is often sacrificed at the alter of gameplay, and personally I'd rather have it that way. For (spoiler free) instance: there's a late game mission involving a car chase with a buttoned down accountant and a stolen macgufin. I'm not going to try to explain why said accountant is suddenly imbued with the skills of a career stunt driver; (this is friggn' GTA) but as soon as you're finished, the mission giver calls up and says "Sike! I had a copy of the macguffin the whole time!" Mike is fine with it. Even after all the grand heists and random Trevor-esque goofiness, I called bullsh*t out loud. So know that going in. Spectacular high water mark of open world gameplay this is, air tight crime fiction it ain't.

You need this for a heist. That's worth 60 bones right there, as far as I'm concerned.

It's worth mentioning I also had a bit of a drinking game going on during the cut scenes, every time someone starts yelling for no reason, crack a beer. I stopped at six beers and finished the game with a total score of almost 40. There is a metric ton of yelling in GTA V. I'm not sure what it means exactly, but know it's cup run'eth over with expletives and outdoor voices. For the sake of your health, do not take a shot every time you hear the N word. You will die halfway through the damn thing.

So anyway, the game is a steal at $100, but it's not all chocolate and rainbows. I had heard about how it was "appallingly sexist" going in, so I steeled myself for that. Even prepared, GTA V felt like a huge step backwards from IV. What happened to women like Michele or Torres? Hell, even Carl's sister from San Andreas! We know GTA is capable of better than the likes of Mike's wife, Franklin's aunt, or *shutter* Mary-Ann. It's troubling to think that when given all the time and money in the world, the writers barely came up with any women who acted like people. Except for Trevor's romance with an older woman... that was pretty great.

But seriously, my biggest problem isn't simply that Mike's daughter is a vapid nympho or that is his wife is a cuckolding shrew. Well, it's not just that. There are ways of making characters like Stacy Suxx entertaining and compelling, like this:


See? That was funny and it wasn't irritating at all. Stacy made my skin crawl every time she spoke. But with just a little more effort into her character, she could have been a highlight. It's when I see more forethought put into a shopping plaza that the player may never see, than into any of the single digit speaking female roles do I pull out the "S" word. The sexism word. The writing isn't malicious, this isn't Postal or anything, it's benign. It just doesn't care. They made compelling woman before, why do they need to do it again? It really, really, bothered me through the whole game.

Ahem. Sorry I got all ranty, but that had been bubbling up for a while. GTA V is a masterpiece, the likes of which we may never see again (for at least 4 years). This is a long, strange, trip everyone who plays video games needs to take at least once. This is now required reading, something that will be studied decades from now by anthropologists. A satirical snapshot of our zeitgeist frozen for future generations. They may not like everything they see, but they are going to have a fu**ing amazing time.

"...and you, chop, I'll miss you most of all."

Friday, September 27, 2013

Nope, nevermind. This is the Steam Controller:

What does it mean?!

Look at those thumb pads. Seems naked doesn't it? Like sub-woofers for your calluses. Just what are they trying to pull here? Hold on...

Oh! This is what they're trying to pull here:

 " A new generation of super-precise haptic feedback, employing dual linear resonant actuators. These small, strong, weighted electro-magnets are attached to each of the dual trackpads. They are capable of delivering a wide range of force and vibration, allowing precise control over frequency, amplitude, and direction of movement... 

...a vital channel of information to the player - delivering in-game information about speed, boundaries, thresholds, textures, action confirmations, or any other events about which game designers want players to be aware. It is a higher-bandwidth haptic information channel than exists in any other consumer product that we know of. As a parlour trick they can even play audio waveforms and function as speakers."  - Valve

See? I told you they looked like speakers. So this is what the linux of consoles will look like. As the OUYA goes down in flames (did anyone really think it had a chance?) Valve has the opportunity to swoop in and try to mop up anyone yet undecided or initially uninterested.

Besides, if it all goes belly up, it's not like the Steam store doesn't make a billion dollars annually. Here's some more pics in case your interest is at fever pique*. Mine certainly is.

God... when was the last time I played portal 2?

YBXA? That seems eerily familiar somehow.

 *Did you think that was cute? ...I thought it was cute.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Steam Machine and You!

Three sentences. A metric frick-ton of questions.

So just what is Valve's new console and why should you care? I don't know, but I'm hoping by the time I stop typing I'll have a handle on it. You can watch if you want.

1.The Steam operating system, and Steam itself, is free. This is clearly a shot across Xbox Live's, with it's $60 yearly membership, bow.

2. Odds are it will be cheaper than either the PS4 or Xbox One. Think about it, I certainly will. Infamous 3 will weigh heavily on my conscience though...

3. It's controllers may be fabulously bonkers:

This is a patented prototype for a customizable controller by valve and I just love it so damn much. The first thing to go on my pad is that the sticks start to loose their accuracy. That might be a dick joke... I'm not sure. I'm also not sure if anyone knows that this is definitively the controller for the Steam Machine. Which is actually a perfect segway for number four.

4. Nobody knows what the hell this is going to be. But we do know 300 lucky listeners, uh... or applicants will get a free one if they promise to talk about it. Loudly, I'm assuming. I'll be interested to see if most of those go to the press. Scratch that, if any actually go to the press. That would be the kind of Willy Wonka moxie we've come to love from those folks.

So no, I'm still not sure what to tell you and your Steam Machine. But I am curious and I'm sure we'll know more than speculation soon enough.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

If GTA V was Whiskey and I was a Duck...

Almost... there...

Sorry, that's a pretty esoteric blues reference, but it's the right one. The point is, I've been really busy with work and with play. GTA V has got me deep in it's clutches, more than any Rockstar game before it. I tried to get into IV (thought it was pretentious and boring) Red Dead (respected the hell out of it, couldn't like it as much as I wanted to) L.A. Noire (Los Angeles was almost entirely pointless), and now V.

It's every bit the masterpiece it's cracked up to be. I mean, from the medal awards for passing missions the right way, to the trio of spectacularly well acted leads, and the shockingly smooth frame rate... this ain't yo' grandpappie's Grand Theft Auto.

I've tasted the sights and sounds of Los Santo's 2013 face lift; as well as the seriously messed up gender politics of it's strip clubs, and now I'm shotgunning the main story so I can get a review up as quick as possible.
*Gulp*  I can do this.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Happy Birthday... Me.

Another year, another inch close to death! But seriously, It's nice to hear from family you hardly ever talk to wishing you well. At least they bother to keep up with that sort of thing, and honestly it's touching.

Today being the kind of day it is I'd be remiss if I didn't treat myself, so... I lucked out and got a unclaimed pre-order of GTA V. It's as good as they say. Sexist or no, I'm loving Franklin and whoever plays his partner. The script might let me down now and again, but the actors rarely do. I'm sure I'll find something to gripe about it the further I get into it, but right now I'm in the honeymoon phase and it. Is. Wonderful.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Final Chapters of Breaking Bad will be Epic.

 That's me. That's my face during the entire run of Ozymandias the other night. Even... no, especially during the Charmin Bear ads. I'm not sure what I'm going to feel like after it all ends a week and a half from now, but I'm optimistic. This new message from part time producer Peter Gould gives me even more hope.

It all adds up to 15 minutes more running time for the last two installments. That's with commercials, so in TV land, they will be almost feature length. Usually I'm not one for long goodbyes. Sometimes the best thing for a TV show to do is to end on the studio's terms instead of protracted TV movies with diminishing returns. But like most everything Breaking Bad does, this seems like having your cake and eating it too. An extra 15 minutes each isn't going overboard and I'll be willing to bet it's absolutely necessary.

So to sum up my gut feeling about this:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

GTA V, Polygon, and Sexism.

Just like the hoopla that boiled over when reviewed Dragon's Crown; a lengthy passage in their GTA V review on how the game's female characters are half baked and have no agency, has sparked another whirlwind discussion on video game gender politics.

The shocking thing is (unlike most comment wars) coherent arguments are heard from both sides. Perhaps a game as large as GTA V shouldn't have to cater tastefully to all genders and races. Perhaps if they couldn't have said anything nice about the opposite sex they shouldn't have said anything at all. I don't have to explain which side I come down on... I haven't played the game. But if it's this obvious to the writers at polygon, no doubt it would bother me if I played it. But more to the point, the comment section is good reading if you want to see the most civilized flame war I have ever seen.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Chipotle's "The Scarecrow"

I have complicated feelings about "organic farming." I would love for us all to return to a time when agriculture wasn't so cripplingly dependent on anti-biotics and where beef steers weren't packed so tight into pens they can't turn around. But a return to the mom and pop farms would mean an almost 40% decline in production and soaring food prices for everyone else. And even if chicken breast steroids are  stopped, there isn't a true alternatively humane way to butcher. 

But I think we can all agree Chipotle makes a damn fine burrito, and it's shockingly novel to see a major chain get behind a different way to produce food. Which brings me to the brilliant short film advertising their I-phone game, The Scarecrow. It's beautiful, impactful, propaganda and I mean that sincerely. I'd love to see another 74 minutes of this... and I'm sure the game is great too.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Master Review: What can you do to a Drunken Sailor?

Paul. Thomas. Anderson. After seeing nearly all his films at least once, I still have no idea what to make of him. Is he a genius? I'm not sure. Is he overrated? Maybe just a little. Do I actually enjoy his work? ...No. But that doesn't mean he isn't a once in a generation auteur. His dedication to ponderous, epic, and original character studies is something I deeply respect. So you should defiantly check out The Master, but you'd better know exactly what you're getting into. 

I'm sure you've heard this is an "Anti-Scientology" movie. Hmmm, I'll get to that. Philip Seymour Hoffman is obviously playing a L. Ron Hubbard allegory, but that really isn't what this film focuses on. This is an anti-alcoholism film and in that regard it's one of the greatest ever made. Joaquin Phoenix's performance is terrifying. I was planning on having a beer or two to get through the middle, but I'll have trouble touching the stuff for weeks now. His Freddie Quell isn't played "drunk" he's played as a cripplingly dependent addict that happens to drink. I mean this guy is swiping medical grade rubbing alcohol off nurse's carts and mixing cocktails with paint thinner. Whenever the film focuses solely on Freddie's slow decent into homelessness, it's riveting. But here's the rub... that's only the first 20 minutes. Though it's a sublime 20 minutes.

Somewhere in between realism and broad satire you see the various jobs Freddie flits through after leaving the Navy. I didn't know whether I was supposed to think his self destructive misery was funny or not, but there is a point where you stop feeling sorry for him. He's dim, he's crazy, and he clearly doesn't belong on his own. Eventually he stows away on the eponymous master's boat, (first of many subtle Scientology tip offs) unsure with what Lancaster Dodd really wants from him. He claims it was his bathtub hootch recipes, but it's obvious a person like Dodd doesn't like letting go of people so easily..."influenced."

The plot never develops much more from there, you see a snippet of Freddie's life before the Navy, but the relationship between Freddie and Dodd kinda sits there, puttering around New York and Philadelphia. It becomes a fly on the wall scenario, striving to follow a more biographical structure than a traditional three acts. Everything that goes on is interesting by itself, but it sags when strung together. You watch a bunch of static characters scheme schemes that go nowhere for the remaining hour and a half.  

For a film that started off so aggressive and almost silly, the dry latter two thirds start to seem more and more disappointing. Dodd's wife and son-in-law hate having Freddie in their lives, but Dodd can't get enough of winding him up and watching him dance. Aside form the last ten minutes or so, I just described the entire movie. It's not that it fails in any obvious way, I wouldn't have been surprised if Phoenix walked off with the Oscar, it's just painfully predictable and repetitive.

Also, if you were expecting anything resembling a stance on Scientology you will be doubly disappointed. One dude meekly criticizing Dodd at a party does not a message make. It's impartial to the point of banality. Though there is a kind of Spinal Tap fall from grace thread running through the last half that I thought was cute, but that didn't happen to Scientology. Scientology only got more powerful and lucrative. So as a pure fiction there's nothing this movie says about cult worship that's new, but it does it in style. That's almost just as effective.

But I don't want any of you walking away thinking I said this is a bad film or even a failed experiment. It's impeccably crafted and like nothing you've seen outside of There Will Be Blood. If that's the sort of mood you're in, you'll love The Master... just don't go looking for a masterpiece. See? I could have made a really corny joke just then, I'm getter better.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them: The... MOVIE!

Subtext: Waner Bros. saw how much bank The Hobbit made.

So... we have a Harry Potter spin off in the works. Should I be surprised? No. Should I be angry or defiant? No. It could be good, I mean, would I rather see another young adult fantasy book series of merit given a chance? Sure, but to be fair, every other stab at that has ended in financial ruin.

But what exactly will this be about? Hogwarts with sexy vampires? You know they asked Rowling about that at least once. No, this will apparently follow Newt Scamander (amphibian puns!) and his zoological research that's compiled in his textbook. Not bad, certainly different. Apparently a more fleshed out vision of the singularly English wizard world we've already seen. But here's the kicker, Rowling is writing the screen play.

Her press release:

It all started when Warner Bros. came to me with the suggestion of turning Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them into a film. I thought it was a fun idea, but the idea of seeing Newt Scamander, the supposed author of ‘Fantastic Beasts,’ realized by another writer was difficult. Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it and I already knew a lot about Newt. As hard-core Harry Potter fans will know, I liked him so much that I even married his grandson, Rolf, to one of my favourite characters from the Harry Potter series, Luna Lovegood.
As I considered Warners’ proposal, an idea took shape that I couldn’t dislodge. That is how I ended up pitching my own idea for a film to Warner Bros.”

 “Fantastic Beasts” will also be developed across the Studio’s video game, consumer products and digital initiatives businesses, including enhanced links with, Rowling’s digital online experience built around the Harry Potter stories.”

You know what? I'm on board, this could be fun. 

...and that Cuckoo’s Calling stunt was Bad. Ass.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Eldritch: A Mincraftian Rouguelike from a Pair of Industry Veteran Super Twins!

I love me a good rouge-like, because apparently... I hate me. Give me the hair pulling and nail biting frustration of Dungeons of Dredmore, of The Binding of Isaac, of Dark Souls, and Eldritch. As the love child of David and J. Kyle Pittman, veterans of Bioshock 2 and both Borderlands, Look for a steam early access sometime at the end of September and a full release in October.

As a guy who stayed away from minecraft mainly because it looked more like a sand box than a game, I've always wanted to get into a something with that kind of aesthetic, where game play and challenge is king. Because it really has to be. I got high hopes for this one, and that trailer music is my jam.

Aww. It's like her pistol is a tea cup and she's pissing off her English friends. 

Because she knows no one actually does that.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Crackpot Theory: 4 Reasons Why BBC's Misfits Doesn't Work.

They say you should never send a letter angry, that you should sleep on it first and see if you feel the same in the morning. I wouldn't call this article "angry" but it's really negative and I know a lot of folks out there love Misfits. I don't want it to seem like I'm taking the piss out of a critical darling to be a stand out and act contrarian. I ain't no Armond White, I just can't let critics continue to gloss over what, to me, are positively massive creative failures.

I have tried for years to get into BBC's teen superhero soap, Misfits. Everyone I know who's seen it thinks the world of it and I'm including professional critics in that lump. I had started watching it when it first popped up on hulu years ago. I devoured the first season, got a little ways into the second, and then stopped. Last weekend I gave it one more shot and I finished season 2. I finally realized why I had dropped it so suddenly all those years ago.  My relationship with Misfits is a lot like the one I had with Lost. I was perfectly entertained when I was watching it, but as time went on and I deconstructed what worked and what didn't, I became exponentially more frustrated with it.

It's not because I think it's "bad." Quite the opposite, it's a very accomplished show. The fact that they gave actors this young, this material, and they all nailed it, is incredible. It's a show worth watching for the acting and relationships alone. The way the it approaches teenage sexuality and drug use is both refreshing and original. They never make too much of a meal of either. They're kids, they have sex, they smoke pot, they take pills at raves, big whoop. I loved that about Misfits, it's why I don't mind it when someone says it's one of the greatest shows ever made, because these are the most honest teen relationships I've ever seen put on TV. Central character-wise, this show is wonderful... but there are deep, serious, problems with the other half. The hero half. The underwritten, appallingly sexist, nonsensical, and disappointing hero half.

1. The Donovan Conundrum:

"That's not how it works!"

You should never introduce a premise on your show that you don't have at least two good ideas for. Curtis got the power of time travel initially, but there was only one episode that really explored it. The writers created a world where time travel exists, where the entire cast knows Curtis can go back in time, but they only had one good story to tell. Being an ensemble show, this was easy to ignore for a while, but when tragedy struck (and it struck plenty), the entire cast turns to Curtis and does this. Every damn time they begged him to go back, and every damn time he would shrug his shoulders and give a bullsh*t excuse as to why the story had to develop. And it was bullsh*t. The characters even said so after a while, which meant the writers also knew it was bullsh*t. Eventually there comes a time where they have the opportunity to


(switch powers.)


And that was absolutely the right thing to do... but that was after almost two whole seasons of BS shrugging for the price of one pretty good time travel story.

2. Antonia Thomas is...


The black female lead's super power (again, initially) is that when any man touches her, they immediately want to rape her. It's... stunning. I mean, Jesus, at least the bad guys had to wrestle wonder woman's lasso away from her before she became a bondage fantasy. I was convinced the writers wouldn't have done this if they didn't have something to say about women in distress, but they don't. She uses it to wedge herself into the life of the guy she has a crush on and then whimpers about her powerlessness for the rest of the first season. Again, stunning. 

The saving grace is that Thomas owns the role and gives it a strength that couldn't have existed on the page. I'm sure if they cast an actor less talented than her they would have been raked over the coals by now, but seriously, I' m shocked they haven't already. Maybe there was a grand point they were trying to make, but the set piece it called for wasn't in the budget. I refuse to believe this character was left so ironically powerless and half baked on purpose. But for the first two seasons she was.

3. This Ain't Groundhog Day...

There was a movie in 1991 called Delirious. John Candy was a soap opera writer that wakes up inside the world he had written. Using his typewriter, he makes it exactly what he wants it to be, but is ultimately unsatisfied. It was not Candy's finest, but it serves as a great example of what can happen to a good premise with the wrong excecution. This is gonna get pretty dry, but bear with me.  

Two years later came Groundhog Day, a great example of a good premise perfectly executed. But why? What does Delirious have to do with Groundhog Day, and what does any of this have to do with Misfits? Character choices. Delirious falls apart because Candy's character forces beautiful women to fall in love with him while painfully inserting himself into an upper crust lifestyle that fits his character about as well as a black glove on O.J. Simpson. Wow, I really reached for that metaphor, but don't tell me it doesn't fit. I mean... it doesn't fit... screw it, moving on.

In Groundhog Day, the world was technically supernatural, but Murray fit in it. The world also had a srict set of rules that were easy to understand, yet they facilitated entertaining and original circumstances. Murray couldn't just wish himself rich, he had to memorize the perfect moment to walk off with an armored car's payload every day. It was funny, it made sense, it moved the story forward, and you'd never seen anything like it. This is one of the biggest problems with Misfits. It's story solutions are rarely, if ever, earned. They just sorta happen.

"Wait! So have you been doing this long, or are you just arbitrary story development?"
From day 2 the premise of Misfits starts to weigh it down. They all know they have powers, except for Nathan, and they all make a pact to stay in their community service position so they don't get scooped up by the government and tested on for the rest of their lives. That's also when they stop acting like they haven't experienced the greatest moment in the history of biology and start being themselves again. I don't have a problem with that set up; it's a comedy for the most part, and I shouldn't expect to take a show with invisible, mind reading, and time traveling rape-makers all that seriously.

But it isn't long before the show wants to be taken seriously. They start to whine about being not being noticed, or not being able to touch people, or not being able to fix all things they want to fix. Again, that's fine, but the guys never do anything about it. They never question why they have powers, or where they came from. They just putter around one off villains and various community service activities. The show becomes frustratingly inert and unfulfilling. Massive cults form out of nowhere, a man goes on a GTA style murder spree, dozens of other violent and public events occur. But hardly anything ever changes, and when they do, they happen immediately with no foreshadowing or consequence. They all reek of writer's block and desperation.

The beginning of season 2 tries to fix this, with a story arc of a mysterious parkouring urban ninja that wears the words deus ex machina on his sleeve. That arc is pretty entertaining and it gives the vastly superior second season a satisfying through line. But while it offers the illusion of the possibility he/she might reveal something (christ, anything)  about who, what, or why, the world has become what it's become... I can't really expalin what he/she does without being a spoiler. But know that it leads to another convenient, unforeshadowed, and un-earned writer's tool.

4. ...But It Could Have Been.
 Here Be Spoilers.

There's a reason I wrote this diatribe, it's because I care about Misfits. There is so much they got so right, it kills me to see so many amature mistakes being made over and over. But I would have kept my trap shut, if it wasn't for the second season's last 2 episodes, far and away the best of the series up to that point. I'm not going to harp on how easily the gang decides to join up with the talent agent and get famous after slavishly keeping to their pact of anonymity for so long (did I mention it was because they were wanted murderers?). Because it was about damn time the world reacted to people getting powers, and like Groundhog Day, it made sense while being funny.

The Lacto-kentic (milk mover) was a spectacular villain from top to bottom, I'm sure they got a BAFTA from his origin montage alone. He manages to be both funny and threatening, which is a crazy fine balance to master. If that was to be the finale, it would have been worth it and I would have been far more kind. Lacto dies here, which is a shame as he would have made a great arch villain if they'd found a way to stick with him. He could have formed a evil league of mediocre evil that would murder anyone with cooler powers than theirs, or something. But the BBC is notoriously fickle with renewing, believe me, I'm a Luther fan. So I can understand why they wanted to end it like that.

But it's the Christmas episode after that which bothers me. That's what drove me up a wall. That's why I'm bothering to write all this. The villain in it was a stroke of absolute genius. I was ready to take back everything I'd said. It was the perfect villain for the world of Misfits as well as one of the most ballsy condemnations of organized religion I've ever seen. Remember, this is a teen comedy, so that sucker punched me pretty hard.

But they kill him off after one episode. I was so confused and angry. I would have stuck with Misfits through thick and thin to see what that villain would be up to. He could have taken over the world and it would both be realistic as well as inspired black comedy. Of course that was also the episode where they played off the lead misfit (one of the best actors and most consistently entertaining character) and of course that's when I was done. I could only watch such a promising show shoot itslef in the foot so many times.

You should absolutely see Misfits if you want to see drek like mtv's teen wolf done right. But anyone who says it's one of the greatest shows of the last 10 years is an apologist at best. But don't just take my grousing at face value. Please, see for yourself

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Futurama Finale Review: Living in the Moment.

That was it. The end of Futurama... again. I was a fan from the very beginning. 1999 doesn't seem so long ago, but it really was. It was so long ago for me, I was convinced I had seen a missing episode once, (Leela had become morbidly obese) but it turned out that never actually existed. This was around 2003, I had thought I'd seen it before it ended on Fox. I had been watching it for so long I was making up episodes in my head.

Even though I wasn't crazy about any of the dvd movies and was even less amused by the first batch of comedy central shows, the news it was ending again still stung. The last two years were pretty damn good. I'd say Freewill Hunting and Mobius Dick were as good as the show ever was. And if I'm being honest, Tip of the Zoidburg may be one of the best, period. But what about Meanwhile? Allegedly the real end of the series?

I liked it. I liked it a lot. Now, would I have rather seen a more grandiose finale stretched out over four episodes? No. I've seen that before, The Wild Green Yonder, and it was just this close to being terrible. I would have been pretty miffed if that really was the last any of us ever saw of Planet Express. That being said, the 22 minutes we a have here is pretty slim. Sure, the whole crew shows up and does something, but nothing meaningful. This is all about Fry and Leela and that's all I really wanted. Because it was the only hanging thread the show had and the way they tie it up here is just beautiful. I don't want to spoil the way time travel fits into how they get married (again) but like the best of Futurama, its funny, its gruesome, and it'll put a lump in your throat.

The return to the moon got me better then I thought it would. At first it seemed forced, then I warmed up to it, and then finally I thought it was a really nice touch. I would pay good money for a  plush buggalo. So while it does wrap up the Freela saga in a nice little bow, the way the writers put their foot in the door for one last season bugs me. I'm sure there's a little more left they can't talk about yet, but that's just speculation on my part. If this is the end... like, the end, end? I'm going to be far less happy with it a year or two from now. But that doesn't diminish what this mini finale does pull off. What they squeeze into a half hour here is still special. After 14 years and 9 seasons, they still got it.

So... Good News Everyone! The series landed softly. 

...and I guess we'll always have Netflix.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Xbox One is out on November 22.

I'm not going to believe you've heard it here first, that would be silly. But did you know that it's going to be out a full week after the PS4? You did? Damn! How's a lowly single maned blog supposed to get an edge out here?

Regardless of my ridiculous expectations for a un-promoted blogger site, I am really interested to see if the week jump the PS4 has on the Xbox will actually make a difference. I've long thought the year between the ps3 and 360 release was the bigger deal than the price... we shall see.

We shall see.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hans Zimmer Thinks Affleck is a Good Plan.

AKA: Jon Lovitz's sexy twin brother.

Famed composer of virtually every Nolan film you've seen, and a bunch of others, has come out in favor of the most reviled studio decision since Heath Ledger became the joker. I'm not gonna weigh in on this fire storm, but I do think Zimmer has a really good point about the prospective an actor like Affleck would have:

“I actually think it’s a really good choice, because #1 he’s a great filmmaker. He’s smart. He wouldn’t have taken it if he had set himself up for a fall. And, you know, he’s a bit older these days and that’s what we need, and he’s got a good chin.”-

Maybe he's got he right idea, maybe I'm a soundtrack composer groupie, which is exactly as weird as it sounds. I mean, if John Powell held a concert close enough to me... I'd be all over it. But ok, Zimmer isn't a casting director I'll give you that, but isn't it time we try to be just a little optimistic about this? Petitioning the damn white house isn't gonna change a thing.

Monday, September 2, 2013

So that was Labor Day...

I had a good time. I caught up on Breaking Bad, then I saw The World's End again with my sister and the audience was wonderful. There's just nothing like the energy of a group of people experiencing something good for the first time. That tone of surprise in a loud, earned, audience laugh is one of the greatest sounds on earth to me. I'll never get sick of it and it alone was worth the price of admission for me, not that Edgar Wright's latest isn't worth a second viewing on it's own. It was.

Other than that, I had some grilled chicken sausage and a little Junior Johnson apple pie/root beer mixer. It's honestly the most delicious mixer I think I'll ever taste. The pie alone is so good I would keep it in a hip flask if I had any semblance of a drinking problem. I don't, but if I did, JJ's apple pie would almost certainly fill the hole in my life where the respect of my friends and family used to be.