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Sunday, August 17, 2014

I'm Officially a Professional Journalist!

After a bit of a wait, I've finally been compensated for my work at Durham's Herald Sun. For the very first time, my English degree has produced tangible results! It does not suck, this feeling.

It does not suck.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Clockwork Empires is on Early Access.

Fish People!!!!

It may be buggy, it may crash every 15 minutes, I may not be able to save it yet, but it's so fuggin' charming I don't care. This game makes cult related cannibalism charming.  I'll let that sink in.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Metal Gear Solid V is coming to PC... wait, REALLY?! What the hell?

Kojima! What is this? What are you doing? ...Explain yourself.
And to STEAM no less. This is... stunning. Like Uncharted 4 showing up on my rig's doorstep next year. After the blow of the next Tomb Raider's timed XBOX exclusivity, I did not see this sh*t coming.

This was... is SONY's bread and butter. The '98 original put the PlayStation on the map and the 4th was the PS3's first killer app (sorry Resistance). Making it multi-platform was one thing, companies like Square have been hedging their bets like that since 2009. This IP isn't an unproven property, this is a console kingmaker. While I've always had a good chuckle at the bi-annual  "pc gaming is dead" articles, I had no idea the wind had turned so fiercely in it's favor.

In fact, this news sounds more like a nail in the coffin of the console wars than anything else. Or maybe this game was so ludicrously expensive (see Mr. Sutherland above) that hitting all AAA platforms at once is the only conceivable way of turning a profit.

That's actually really unsettling. I was hoping it was because Hideo really liked Half-Life.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cosmos is on Netflix. You no longer have any excuse.

Did you know he was a wrestler? Like, a seriously bad ass college level wrestler?

Why is it that I can get through Blue Valentine and Schindler's List without a twitch of my eyelid, but Tyson's Cosmos has me all weepy? There's something deeply poetic about they way this mini series just... explains science that gives me what has to be a religious experience. While the last 5 episodes are a little dryer than the rest, what comes before is (in no uncertain terms) the most awe inspiring documentary I've ever seen.

I'd better stop now before this devolves into diatribe.


Monday, August 11, 2014

The Knick Review: Artist in Residency

If there was one thing I truly loved about FX's Nip/Tuck it was the aggressively realistic portrayal of plastic surgery. A better depiction of the self destruction of vanity there has never been.  The only problem was, oh I don't know... the cartoonish hyper reality of everything else. It had me going for a while though, right up until the penis-less serial killer and his incestuous twin sister... you know what? I'm boring you. I'll move on.

Ever since then; I have waited for a show to seize the potential in the bloody reality of practicing medicine, and Cinemax's  "The Knick" has taken up the mantle with a coked up bewilderment that almost approaches a Gilliam joint. But yet it still remains rooted in it's 1900's reality, aggressively 80's synth soundtrack or no. The best thing I can say about the soundtrack is that it didn't annoy me and that's the highest praise I can give synth. But I'm getting sidetracked agian, what the hell is the Knick?

It's the Knickerbocker Hospital in New York and the show is centered around Clive Owen's Dr. Thackery as he tries in vain to advance medical knowledge to the point where people have a better chance in a ward than on the street. Something that has only started happening very recently. Thank god Thackery's got anesthetic, or else the opening (sorry) c-section scene would have been exponentially harder to watch. And this is hard to watch... but in the best way possible. There is real tension and horror in these sequences and they are of some of the best TV I've seen this year and I include The Leftovers in that pile. I should do a Leftovers review come to think of it...

But it wouldn't be a 2000's golden age drama without an anti-hero angle. So don't worry, Thackery isn't just a brilliant (artisanal) medical mind, he's also a coke addict who's closed almost every vein in his body. I'm thankfull we've already gotten the "fall from grace" angle out of the way already, but it would be nice to see a genius on TV or film that didn't have some crippling character flaw for the sake of it.

Either way, Owen's up to the task and towers over the rest of the cast. They're good, Andre Holland and Chris Sullivan, particularly. But no one is frankly well written enough to steal focus. At least not yet, anyway.

But I'd put up with miscasting for a look into this New York. Child labor, patient poaching, health inspector bribery, visual progress metaphors via the electrification of the hospital, it's the details that this period piece spends a majority of it's energy. It's time and resources well spent. Don't believe me? You can watch the pilot right now and then tell me off in the comments.

Move along people, no dramatic potential here...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Vigil Games Lives!

The scariest thing about Crytek's financial woes to me was the fate of my beloved Vigil games. From THQ's fallen empire to Crytek's sinking ship; the folks behind Darksiders (good game) and Darksiders 2 (damn near my favorite game) have become free agents once again as Gunfire games.

There are only seven people at Gunfire, so Darksiders 3 is absolutely out of the question for the time being. Though Nordic games, who snatched up the IP rights to DS at auction, have been vocal about continuing the quadrilogy and have spoken to gunfire about it. They are not interested and want to focus on some indie fare first. Though eventually they want to build to the scope of what made DS2 so great someday.

"Third-person, games with a lot of characters, adventure aspects, player progression, hunt cool bosses, fantastical creatures," "We have some ideas kicking around." -Director David Adams

Music to my ears, man. Just keep flying.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Review: Knowhere Special.

Would you look at that! Chris Pratt is now box office gold, and you have no idea how happy that makes me. What's more, between this and the Lego Movie, he's been able to have his critical cake and eat it too. Nice, talented, guys can finish first and that just makes me smile. But enough about Pratt and how awesome he is, you're here to find out if that article title is snarky or not.

It isn't. I thought Guardians was fantastic, but the hype left a little to be desired. I thought the movie was good, but the exact amount of goodness it accomplished must be discussed. One; because this could be James Gunn coming into his own as a great pop directer, and two, because I haven't written anything in almost a week and I haven't written a review in god knows how long.

First things first, the very beginning was wonderful. The maudlin opening is a fickle and occasionally very powerful tool, and a scant few directors know how to pull it off. Spielberg can do it, JJ's done one pretty well, and I thought Gunn nailed it here. Plus, Greg Henry on the big screen! That put me in a great mood. And a random alien abduction notwithstanding, seeing a little boy deal with the death of his mother (an unrecognizable Laura Haddock) with coldness and anger was a great character choice.

Chris Pratt realizing he can write his own ticket.
The movie barely takes another breath before throwing you into ancient alien ruins, then into an antique shop on a futuristic "not-earth" run by Glenn Close, then into a dank space prison. All the while building character arcs and motivation for the five leads on the margins of some damn slick action scenes. The prison break has everything that the film does best all at once. It gives every character something to do and puts little personality beats within each task. It was a cracking screenplay juggling act you don't see every year. After that, the movie exhales and lets it's muffin top show a bit.

Before reaching the massive floating robot head/mining colony "Knowhere" I was down with a giant talking tree, manic bionic racoon, a hulking tattooed convict who literally takes everything literally, a green skinned assassin with crippling daddy issues, and a roguish dolt with crippling mommy issues (and a cassette with some sweet tunes). I was down with it. Everyone had creatively earned their keep. Except for Gamora, but despite being underwritten, Saldana positively oozes charisma and screen presence, so... B+. But now we had to let the supporting cast take over, sit through some exposition scenes, and feel generally let down after Thanos shows up and literally doesn't lift a finger.

The present's so bright...

Benicio Del Toro is sleeping walking through his 6 to 7 minutes and it's hard to blame him. There's a sadness in his eyes that speaks to a much meatier part in a different draft that existed before he signed the contract. But nonetheless, the collector's gallery is a visual orgy of Easter eggs and I had plenty to occupy myself while not noticing Del Torro chew the scenery. Oh, and speaking of scenery chewing!

Lee Pace has simply outdone himself with Ronan. He's feeling genocidal, has a giant hammer, is covered in chalky face paint tears, and... that's it. But Pace goes the opposite direction of Del Toro and gets as loud and as angry as he possibly can. I can see how some people didn't think much of it, but I appreciated how he turned a bad situation into a workout. Near the end he has a single comedic line and he kills it. Just... murders the hell out of it. It was the biggest laugh out of me in a movie that had already taken plenty.

Michael Rooker also manages to be a secondary power house as the guy who kidnapped Peter Quill in the beginning. There's a great father-son/Stockholm syndrome relationship between the two that winds up being much more interesting than the Quill/Gamora shipping scenes. But I actually liked those scenes too, even if they taste a little contrived.

In summation, this was a funny, affecting, and delightful space opera. The leads are all wonderfully cast, the writing only sputters in the middle( but I concede that drunk Rocket Raccoon was a legitimately moving middle scene... seriously), and it's generally as lovable as blockbusters get. This will be to 8 year olds what Men in Black was to me. A movie that will shock, amaze, and be watched over and over and over and over again.

You will believe a Raccoon. CAN. MURDER.