Sunday, January 31, 2010

Kevin's Countdown to Lost Season 6 Premiere: Top #15 Favorite Episodes #4

When Lost first came on, I didn't watch it. I thought it was stupid and that if I ever was going to watch it, I would wait until it was over so that I knew I would eventually get some answers.

Well, that didn't happen. And now I'm obsessed with it.

And I do give most of the credit to the Pilot. This series premiere was unlike anything I had ever seen on TV. The special effects, the action, the characters, and the mystery. It was all there. There had never been that kind of quality cinematics on TV. There was suspense, terror, tension, and despair. The characters all were mysterious, but one character stood out from all the rest.

The Island. The pilot had gone to great lengths to be weird, out of the ordinary, and scary to create this personality behind the island. And it worked. When you first hear the Rousseau's message that has been repeating for 16 years, the chills just creep up your spine. And it all starts with the first mysterious, and probably the last answer we'll get; the black smoke monster. Of course it was just a monster than, but I remember the mystery that lay beyond those weird dinosaur slash mechanical wails. I had theories out the ass which proved wrong.

The Pilot was of course the selling point for me. It was an achievement in television's power and it hooked the world in with its mystery. I sometimes miss the old days when we didn't know everything, which is why I hope they don't answer everything. Some things are just better left unsaid.

Kevin's Countdown to Lost Season 6 Premiere: Top #15 Favorite Episodes #5

Out of the large stable of characters Lost has at its disposal, Desmond takes the cake for me. I've said it many times before, that Desmond's (and Penny's) story is truly the heart of Lost. Jack and Kate and Sawyer may be the more popular or at least more focused on, but when you are getting the what really makes the shot tick, the real meaty stuff that means so much personally and in terms of the arc of the show, Desmond is the man.

Live Together, Die Alone, was really the first Desmond centered episode. At that point in the show, Desmond was the mysterious man locked in the hatch, seemingly with more answers than his crazy escapist mind would let on. Alas, this was not the case of course. Desmond knew basically nothing of what he was doing. "Saving the world, brotha" as he would say. But when the finale of season 2 came, we were granted a glimpse at what the best of Lost looks like.

Desmond's story of redemption is ongoing, but his journey off the island and what he has brought with him, is heartbreaking and inspiring. This episode captures a man, lost at sea, trying to make sense of the uncontrollable. This story is what Lost is all about. Redemption. Leaving the world, being on the island, and hopefully returning home anew.

Oh yeah, and we find out Desmond is responsible for the plane crash. And there is a four toed foot of a giant statue. Hm.

But I will never forget the chills that crept up my spine in the last few minutes of the episode, as the music crescendos and Desmond turns the key to an undetermined fate. The episode deepened the mysterious of Lost while revealing answers we didn't see coming. I think that there are going to be many more episodes like this in the final season of the show, which I can't wait for.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Batcave in "Arkham 2"

The subject of Arkham Asylum is one I've covered well on these pages, perhaps too much, but I just can't help myself. I just spent the passed half-hour in a challenge room and it got me thinking about the upcoming sequel and what changes/additions should be made. I'll try to be brief and simple.

1) Players should now be given the option to create their own challenge rooms. They should be able to select the map, number of waves, number of enemies and types of enemies in each wave, as well as any other specifications that either increase or decrease the difficultly. It would also be nice to see a co-op feature enter the equation (just in challenge rooms, however. I'd like the campaign to be co-op free, mostly because Batman is coolest when he works alone and they need to stick with what they created in the first game). However, imagine bodies flying through the air as you and your friends, as Batman, Robin, Batgirl, and Nightwing tear into a barrage of thugs. Seeing how your friends play in the same room and competing for the high score in the same match is a feature that will likely find its way into this franchise at some point. Working together to perform special co-op takedowns could also result in some amazing animations.

2) The Batcave should play a larger role this time around. In Arkham Asylum Batman's on-site Batcave is this glorious little gem of an area that is brought into the mix at two perfect and pivotal moments and it really breaks up the gameplay nicely. You could return at any point to it but there's no real purpose to doing so beyond staring at it and feeling a little more like Batman. It's there for purely aesthetic and fan-service reasons, and that's just fine. But in Arkham 2 it would be nice for the Batcave to function as it does in the comics and the films, Batman's home base.

In terms of the actual game, The Batcave should be a dynamic options menu, basically an interactive menu screen by way the player gains access to all other areas of the game. It's a gameplay hub essentially. Want to go into challenge rooms? Well now it's not just an add-on multiplayer feature you select on the main menu, it actually serves a purpose within Batman's world because the challenge rooms are really just simulated combat training programs that take place in the Batcave. So if you want to take part in one you guide the Dark Knight through his cavern to the challenge room area and you step on in and from there you choose the simulation you want.

The way this can further feed into the actual campaign is by allowing the player to gain certain amounts of experienc in the challenge rooms, thereby allowing them to unlock better moves and new technologies.

There should be an incentive and a reason to return to the Batcave. Players, when out and about the confined and prison-like Gotham the teaser trailer suggests, should be able to call up The Batwing or Batmobile on their communicator and then take off back to the cave for fresh supplies, maybe a chance to fix up the suit, and do some research into the latest quest. This would work better if the damage system were altered a bit. Instead of Batman taking visual damage after key moments in the story, the wear and tear on the suit should occur organically during gameplay, kind of like how your character in the Fable games gets scarred. Take one too many punches over a period of several hours and the crusader will start to look pretty torn up. You can continue playing, of course, but the effectiveness of your armor will be reduced. Return to the cave for a fresh suit, maybe make some power ups while you're there, and you're up and running again and can receive a lot more damage. Don't take a lot of damage out in the field, however, and you'll receive some bonus XP and maybe work your way to a hefty achievement and a cool unlockable.

Players should be able to call up Alfred or The Oracle and get their help/advice on the forensic bits, but if players want to really delve into the Dark Knight's detective skills they should be able to return to The Batcave and do so. My point there is that players shouldn't be forced to return to The Batcave every time they find a new clue, that would make it frustrating and interrupt gameplay. Going to the cave would become an obnoxious chore. But it should be there for us to access at any time, and it should act as a place for pure Batman-fan enjoyment as well.

Detailed files on all the comics characters should be accessable there, as well as audio diaries, fun facts, and cool little interactions with the various trophies Batman has collected over the years. So, it is essentially still there for mostly aesthetic reasons, it simply serves a greater purpose, makes use of an innovative interactive menu system, and acts as a hub for all game data and the like. So instead of sorting through diaries and audio logs by pressing the start button, players actually take control of Batman and sit down at his computer to sort through such information. Instead of trophies being an option on the main menu, you take Batman into his trophy room and examine them. Certain data, like the audio logs and such, should be accessible in the field, but it shouldn't be as simple as pressing start and whooshing off into a menu screen. Players should press start and then the perspective should switch to a first person view and we see Batman look down on the monitor on his gauntlet where he can cycle through info while out in the field fighting crime.

This would simply be a nice touch that would enhance player immersion and make them feel that much more like the ultimate badass.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kevin's Countdown to Lost Season 6 Premiere: Top #15 Favorite Episodes #6

I found this cool picture of The Incident in google images. So now you know, its my #6.

The episode did a lot for Lost. It created a framework for the show, using Jacob as bookends to the beginning and present, and finally proving that Locke has been right all along; they were all brought there for a reason. Whoever or whatever Jacob is, his motivations still remain hidden but his actions have proven that nothing has been coincidence in the show. Everyone was visited by Jacob and eventually brought to the island, but for an unknown purpose.

In that regard, The Incident contained one of the biggest answers we've received yet. But there were others; Locke's dead, Faraday's dead, Sayid will probably die as will Juliet, and Jack blew up a hydrogen bomb. Man, that's a lot. Both parts of the episode were jam packed with action and movement as Jack made his crusade to blow up the Swan Station to reset time.

The pacing and build of the episode were pitch perfect and just like the previous season finale, it featured a great Jack vs confrontation. This time with Sawyer, the conversation between the two titans of the show built in tension until the only way to break it was to punch each other.

The thing that I think is so great about this episode was the fact that we heard about the "incident" back in season 2. Never did we ever think that we would actually get to experience it! That is the great thing about Lost. Expect the unexpected, cliche as it is to say. Plus, ending on the biggest cliff hanger, this episode has been making me think since it aired. This episode alone is enough to get you pumped for season 6, so just imagine those of us who have the rest of the series to help us get excited.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Favorite Video Games From 2009

I'm in a good mood. Usually when I'm inspired to write a review or article on The Future Machine it's because I've been inspired by rage or disappointment as a result of experiencing something ridiculous in the entertainment world, but I was playing Mass Effect 2, and despite a few minor gripes-I'm not keen on the new non-existent inventory menu or the lack of options in the character creator, it seems to be a remarkably entertaining and moving experience the more one plays it, and then I switched over to Batman: Arkham Asylum for my regular challenge room check up and it got me thinking about all the joy I've experienced thanks to gaming in 09 and I'd like to highlight a few.

Most of these games are under-appreciated or disrespected as a result of a lack of polish or a lack of hype. But they deliver on what I believe to be the most important aspect of gaming: the experience of joy. I find a lot of games that everyone else love have these nagging issues that always get in the way of the fun and these games get a free pass mostly due to their graphics and a few highly-polished moments, and thus these games force me to lash out at them, ignoring anything right that they do accomplish. The games that make my favorites composite don't suffer from that symptom. I'll tolerate any technical issue so long as fun is always the focus of the game. So while I had some fun with Modern Warfare 2 and still have fun with Left 4 Dead 2, they don't quite make my favorites of '09 unlike most.

It's not a top ten list, I abhor such lists as of late (with the exception of Ariotti's of course).

So instead I'll just put together a little thank you note to a few games that really won me over and that I feel provide a great deal of entertainment, and/or some innovation to the medium. Also, if you haven't played any of these, give 'em a go even if you've heard bad things. I promise it's worth your time.

These will follow the convention of least to most impressive, however.

GHOSTBUSTERS- while this game didn't allow me to live out my childhood dream as well as I would have liked, it still managed to tug at my nostalgia strings just enough to make me look passed the clunky gameplay and Bill Murray's phone-in. Dan Akroyd and Harold Rammis make this game amazing. The game gradually gets better and more interesting as the gamer progresses through the story, which weaves together the first two films and gives us an experience of an interactive third film. Listening to Ray and Egon banter with the same passionate vapor-techno-babble is a joy. There are also a few moments in the game that are genuinely creepy, just like the films. When one really thinks about what The Ghosbusters movie is (a supernatural buddy comedy?), its uniqueness and unlikely quality make it that much more wonderful to appreciate.

DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS - I doubted this game for a little while, unimpressed by every video I'd seen. But once I started playing it, I was hooked and had to buy it. The graphics are bad by today's standards, the environments are pretty stale (true to BioWare form), and invisible walls abound, and yet the story is so compelling, the combat so engrossing, and the characterization so perfect and intriguing that it becomes remarkably easy to overlook any gripe (also true to BioWare form). This is the first game in a long time that had me immediately caring for the digital characters with whom I interacted. It's even more effective than Mass Effect in that regard. The characters who join your party, whether it be a sexy mage named Morrigan or a war dog that I named Bruce Wayne, all are fleshed out and deliver performances better than most living actors. I honesty cared about them and my own character and what the future held for them and this is all thanks to the brilliant writing and the combat which gave players a strong sense of teamwork.

RED FACTION: GUERRILLA - This game is beautiful. It's beautiful not because it's written well (it's actually poorly written) or without technical issues, because it has its fair share. It's beautiful because it lets me plant C4 on a giant truck, ram that truck into a giant building, run out, and then blow up that truck, and then watch the building descend into a giant pile of shattered girders, steel, and rubble. I've never encountered a game with such a wonderfully destructible environment on such a vast scale. And, unlike most free roam games that punish you for seeking out hi-jinks and pure fun, or have systems in place that keep your exploration or destructive tendencies in check, Red Faction encourages your child-like desires to SMASH! rewarding you with loot and gear that allows you to smash even more effectively.

THE SABOTEUR-I haven't beaten this game yet despite having had it for over a month because it's just too much fun to run around the Parisian rooftops killing Nazis and listening to the main character curse. Every aspect of the gameplay mechanics are flawed. You can't run straight, drive straight, jump straight, or shoot straight. But I still love it. Perhaps it's the Irish-fueled rantings of Sean that endear me to this game, perhaps it's the gorgeous and stylized black and white French landscape, and perhaps it's the fact that there's no poorly written sci-fi plot interrupting the gameplay every fifteen minutes, but there's something about The Saboteur that, for me, makes it a fantastic and fun game that far exceeds any other similar free-roaming platformer on the market.

X-MEN: ORIGINS WOLVERINE-Before Arkham Asylum came out this was the best comic book game ever. Yes, it's got some painful little issues like any other game of its kind, but the combat is so visceral, so satisfying, and the graphics so shockingly excellent, this is a game that when I think about it, the more I want to play it again. It's a good game to keep in one's library for the lunge mechanic alone. It improves upon the film in every way and is the bloody Wolverine experience that fans deserve. From whipping out the claws to tearing dogtags off dead bodies, this game is the very definition of pure entertainment.

HALO WARS-I've only come to this game recently. I was skeptical, despite my love of Halo and RTS games because the demo didn't give a proper representation of how deep the gameplay actually gets and how satisfying it is to see a bunch of ODSTs, Warthogs, Grizzlys, Hornets, and the like unloading on Covenant bases. The online experience, while remarkably challenging, also gives gamers a competitive experience they simply can't get anywhere else. Being able to control an entire base and units is a joy few console gamers have had the pleasure of experiencing, and while Halo Wars doesn't let me micro-manage the way I usually want to with an RTS, it provides a unique experience, seeming to create its own genre, a streamlined but in now way reduced strategy game that perfectly represents the Halo Universe.

BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM-This is the best game of 2009. This is the best video game since BioShock. It frustrates me that it doesn't earn more legitimate respect. Sure, it gets high scores. Sure, critics love it. Sure, gamers love it. But it didn't win Game of the Year. It doesn't earn the level of critical acclaim one sees with a game like Uncharted 2 or Gears of War or Modern Warfare and the like. And it's better than those games. I say that confidently, bias aside. I think the reason it doesn't break through to that top tier of triple A titles is an unfortunate aspect of the same mentality that resulted in The Dark Knight not even receiving an Oscar Nomination let alone a much-deserved Best Picture Win. It's because the critics acknowledge the quality of Batman and his various iterations but at the end of the day it's a comic book...and it's a man dressed like a bat for God's sake. C'mon. We can't take that seriously. There's no way that's as a good as a bunch of grunting marines or a wise-cracking poor man's Henry Jones or a slumdog!

It angers me that this mentality exists, especially in the gaming community because one would think gamers and gaming critics weren't cut of the same snobbish cloth as film elitists but they are, and games like Arkham Asylum will receive praise and recognition but it will always come with this little caveat that says, "You're good kid, but you're not quite ready for the big leagues". It's a level of pretentiousness that will only grow stronger as video games become more like movies and movies become more like video games.

If you haven't played Batman: Arkham Asylum you are missing out on one of the truly wonderful Batman stories ever crafted and the purest experience of The Caped Crusader one can possibly have. It nails every aspect of Batman's personae wonderfully and innovates on multiple genres and on multiple mechanics. The combat system is the best brawling system in the history of gaming.

There are so many games out there where, as I said before, have systems in place that get in the way of the fun, whether they are cover systems, regenerating health or no regenerating health, or a constant need to search for necessities like ammo. You don't ever have to worry about reloading with Batman. Batman's philosophy is one game designers need to embrace. We need to stop worrying about creating challenging experiences by forcing a gamer to die again and again before they figure out a contrived system of gameplay. We need the power to be in the players' hands from start to finish, and in Batman:Arkham Asylum the power is always in your hands. The challenge is in trying to master the "easy-to-use" combat. And when one does master it (I openly brag to being ranked no.3 on planet earth...I was no.1 for a couple weeks but some bastard stole it from me) one experiences a level of gaming euphoria that cannot be felt anywhere else.

All of these games, in one way or another, don't get bogged down in trying to create unecessary challenges, and instead focus on giving gamers a rewarding, enjoyable experience.

Never once did I care about BioShock's lack of difficulty. So many, after the fact, complained about the vita champers making it too easy etc, etc. Why not just be happy with the remarkably beautiful experience that the game is. So too, is Batman:Arkham Asylum a beautiful experience. And the promise of a sequel, as well as the potential for more challenge maps, will keep me checking in for years to come.

Kevin's Countdown to Lost Season 6 Premiere: Top #15 Favorite Episodes #7

Season 4 built and built until it reached the breaking point straddling the fence of action and sci fi. Keemy was the perfect bad guy, ruthless and cunning, and our heroes were helpless and desperate. I still to this day think that the pace and build of season 4 was the best so far. The story had movement and timing, it was what we were all waiting for.

There's No Place Like Home makes it to #7. This was the season finale for season 4 which tied right into the very last minutes of season 3's finale. It was huge in terms of answers posed by season 3 and 4. We saw how the Oceanic 6 got off the island, we saw what happened to the freighter, and we saw the island literally move.

But the best parts of the show I believe were those at the Orchid Station. First, the confrontation between Jack and Locke was wonderful. Throughout the whole course of the show these two have been going at it and all the emotion and anger built up from season 4 culminated in this one conversation. Then all that happens with Ben, Keemy, and Locke in the Orchid was all the more mysterious, harking back to the mysterious days of season 1.

This episode was a perfect blend of all that Lost can bring to the table; action, suspense, emotion, pacing, mystery, and science fiction. And Locke was shown dead at the end but in the future. What? BOOM

Kevin's Countdown to Lost Season 6 Premiere: Top #15 Favorite Episodes #8

The other episode I spoke of in the previous blog was Jughead.

Jughead was the third episode of season 5. At that point, a lot of us were just getting used to the idea of time travel and seeing things that will or have come up in the past now making sense. But Jughead was the first to give us some huge answers in the way of back story.

Where once Lost had used flashbacks for story telling, these jumps allowed the show to experience literal flashbacks and not just memories. And with these Jughead revealed huge pieces of information about the island's inhabitants.

First off, Richard is still the same age, the others know Latin and wear WWII uniforms, there is a hydrogen bomb on the island, and Faraday loves Charlotte. But the biggest surprise was that Charles Widmore was once an other. The next day at work everyone was talking about this. It was huge in the implications it had on Widmore's motivations and methods.

Jughead set the stage for the season finale as well as what kind of story we were to see throughout the season. Though, reruns of the episode won't be as powerful, the episode still rocked.

Kevin's Countdown to Lost Season 6 Premiere: Top #15 Favorite Episodes #9

Season 5 was definitely hard to get used to or even comprehend. Where Lost was shedding viewers, those faithful to the show hardened their resolve and actually put some thought in the show. It that regard, season 5 was amazing. But their were two episodes that solidified this fact early on and one of them was LaFleur.

Not only did this episode see the end of the time jumps but it completely change the show once again. With those left behind literally left behind in the past, the show's dynamic was turned upside down. Sawyer and company help the Dharma Initiative and then join them! The fact that Sawyer's conning skills come back into play is powerful and it gets them out of some tight spots. But the fact that they are now living with the Dharma Initiative pales in comparison to the revelation at the end of the episode.

Sawyer walks through the Dharma barracks passing friends as he moves to a house. He enters to find a very happy and healthy looking Juliet who is happy to see him. Then, they kiss and exchange I love you's. Holy shit.

This scene, bookended by the scene where he asks if she has his back before she gets on the sub to leave, is one of the best of season 5. Juliet and Sawyer together was better to me than Kate and Sawyer and I was heartbroken as the big, burly man watches her fall to her death in the finale.

LaFleur was a gamechanger if there ever was one and it set the pace for the rest of season 5. Thus is place on my countdown.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Seven Most Immorally Genius iPhone Applications of All Time

While Apple's iPhone App Store has managed to pave a new market for developers looking to broadcast valuable content into the world of new media, it has also encouraged a handful of thieves to find creative ways to trick the public into buying deceptive, poorly designed, and unnecessary applications as well. The following is a list of the seven best attempts I've seen at selling iPhone applications that really don't need to exist.

7. Flashlight ($0.99)
Stuck in the dark again pal? FLASHLIGHT displays a graphic of a light bulb or a white screen… or you could just turn on your phone and use the light from that.

Second Opinion: “This app makes sneaking to get a glass of water at night a breeze.”

6. MATG ($449.99)

A ridiculously overpriced financial management system for your iPhone. The application is designed for sales reps and marketing executives allowing access to customers, statements, and sales order transactions. Since those people typically have more money than average-Joes I suppose they figured the $450.00 price tag wouldn’t be a bother. Taking into consideration that this app hasn’t sold one copy of itself since it’s release on July 15, 2008, the developers were probably wrong.

Second Opinion: N/A

5. Hold On! ($0.99)
Let me start off by saying, I found this in the “Productivity” section of the App Store. HOLD ON! is an application where you hold a digital button labeled, “Hold On” for as long as you can. There’s also a multiplayer option where you can compete with friends over the Bluetooth network. Clever.

Second Opinion: “I taped it to my face”

4. Proposal: “Will You marry me?” ($0.99)
Don’t stress over the pressure of figuring out how to pop that big question. Now, your iPhone can do it for you with a jpeg of a wedding ring and the text, “will you marry me?” You’ll certainly be the talk of the family when your sweetheart tells this romantic proposal story.

Second Opinion: “Great Idea!”

3. Massager ($0.99)
Can’t find the vibrate setting on your iPhone? Do you love the feel of a sexy smooth touch-screen coddling your skin? MASSAGER just might be the app for you; now with four vibration settings: Rising Sun, Rolling Waves, Whispering Winds, and Soothing Meadows. This application also doubles as a sex-toy if your willing to sacrifice your iPhone’s liquid damage warranty.

Second Opinion: “Who needs a man when you have this?”
- Georgia Girl 2009

2. Mirror ($0.99)

Following the spectacle of FLASHLIGHT, app developer Juice Wireless Inc. released MIRROR, an application which grants you the convenience of a picture of a mirror. Fun Fact: The mirror works better if you turn off your phone and just look into the blank reflective screen.

Second Opinion: “Mirror is a unique and simple application. No need figuring out how it works, it does one thing; it functions as a mirror.”

1. I Am Rich ($999.99)

Produced by German developer Armin Heinrich, this application serves the sole purpose of showing your friends you can afford it. The app allows you to flaunt a graphic of a red gem as the ultimate status symbol available for the iPhone. Eight users purchased Heinrich’s application before enough complaints arose to convince Apple to shut it down completely. Not to be out of the spotlight forever, Heinrich uploaded a new application entitled, “I Am Rich LE” last December for the price of 99 cents simply to be a dick, (he got it approved by adding a calculator function to the gem). Armin Heinrich to this day still holds the record for being the only developer to sell an application for the max price allowed in Apple’s App Store, $999.99, and for this he wins the number one spot for the most immorally genius iPhone application of all time.

Second Opinion
: “I got this app for $998.99 cheaper then the others!”

Monday, January 25, 2010

Kevin's Countdown to Lost Season 6 Premiere: Top #15 Favorite Episodes #10

I put Greatest Hits on this list because of a few things. Its not one of the greatest episodes ever but does something that many of the great episodes of Lost don't. Instead of action, instead of WTF moments, and instead of twists, Greatest Hits is a touching memoir of one Charlie Pace.

Going through the years of his life, Charlie remembers the greatest moments and writes them down for Aaron. The apparent inevitability of Charlie's death hits home as the flashbacks register more as memories of a life troubled and reborn. I've never been totally sold on Charlie's death since I did not think it was completely necessary but this episode always helps to think about.

I do think that this episode is a glimpse of what's to come in season 6. Its going to be heartbreaking and there will be many more to die before the end. There isn't much more I could say about this episode, just that it was one of the most touching. It ends with the never before seen meeting of Claire and Charlie which could not be more perfect.

Kevin's Countdown to Lost Season 6 Premiere: Top #15 Favorite Episodes #11

For the longest time, Lost had stood outside the door of science fiction, parading on prime time television as a drama. We all knew that it was a scifi show but there were plenty of people who didn't and when season 4 came around, they were turned away. For us loyal fans, it was a time of great excitement and joy. The thought of time travel finally entered the canon of the show which brought just as many questions as it did answers, which brought along one of my favorite characters of the show.

Daniel Faraday. His quirky, twitchy, Einstein way about was different and very much welcome. Faraday brought answers and that's what we wanted. He is the smartest person on the show and soon became the driving force behind parts of season 5.

At first he believed that those stuck in the past could not change time, that things will happen the way they happened no matter what. After studying it up with Dharma for a bit, he then theorized that you could change the past, because humans are the Variables. Which brings us to number #11 on the countdown; The Variables.

Not only did this episode bring direction in the way of a story arc to the season 5 finale, but it brought ideas that could very well change the course of the show indefinitely. Plus it had the emotionality brought by the death of Faraday, though I do not think it will be permanent. The Variable was like a breath of fresh air for those of us that were looking for the main arc of the show to return that would eventually unite the characters. It had all the pacing and build that a season finale needs and the twist of Faraday's mother sending him back to the island knowing full well that she would be killing him was intense.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Kevin's Countdown to Lost Season 6 Premiere: Top #15 Favorite Episodes #12

First off, I love the fact that Lost is very much influenced by and very quick to reference literature. ABC features the Lost book club which is full of great books that really encompass the feel of Lost and everything it brings to the table. I wish there was one for Battlestar Galactica but I digress.

Through the Looking Glass was by all means a game changer. Where season three slacked, the second half built up to some of the best material Lost has ever produced which culminated with Through the Looking Glass. Everything had built up to this epic and action packed finale which payed off in a bigger way than any of us could imagine and showcased the biggest Holy Shit moment of all time.

Desmond was a bad ass, Mikhail died a few times, Hurley saved the day, and Charlie died. You can always count on finales to showcase someone dying and unfortunately it called Charlie's number. Though I don't think it was completely necessary it was fitting and his sacrifice was not in vain. It brought all the emotion and finality that was needed for season three and then it just blew our god damn minds with making us think that a flash forward was a flash backward.

The fact that it ended with this realization left me sour. At first I saw it as a glimpse of the end of the series, which we now know it wasn't. But I hated to see Jack utterly destroyed and unrecognizable. Thankfully that wasn't the end. Though Jack sucks now more than ever.

Through the Looking Glass will forever be one of the greatest cliff hangers (though not the greatest) that Lost has ever seen. The show was never the same because of it and that's what I love. Change came, and change is real. And that is what is great about Lost. Things change.

Kevin's Countdown to Lost Season 6 Premiere: Top #15 Favorite Episodes #13

After I started thinking about it more, The Long Con might be higher on my list than this but whatever, I'm putting it here at #13. This episode was absolutely fantastic and truly fleshed out who and what Sawyer really is.

Not only does it get to the heart of the character by exploring his life as a con man but it ends with the twist of him playing Cassidy after an episode of having us thinking he wasn't. But this doesn't mean we saw Sawyer being the bad guy that he tries to be, we actually see the first inklings of what Sawyer really is. It kills him to do that to Cassiday and Josh Holloway's performance is top notch and one of his best in the entire show. When he sits in the car and we see that no one is in there with him, there doesn't need to be words, we know what Sawyer is thinking about feeling and its brilliant.

This doesn't make my list because of the WTF moment at the end, it makes it because it humanizes Sawyer, and grounds him in the real world with his one real connection; Cassidy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dual Rant on Hollywood

First off, look at this picture.

Okay, now this is what is reporting with the picture:

"Matt Reeves Says 'Let Me In' Will Be Darker Than 'Twilight'

....WHAT THE FUCK??? I'm sorry to use such language but I literally shake with rage over this. I can't stand Hollywood!!! Think about this. Have you seen the original film. It was fantastic, beautiful, touching, dark, and unforgettable. Why in god's name would you remake something that came out in America that was that frickin good?!? WHY?!?

And then on top of it all, Matt Reeves says this????? Darker than Twilight? It should be so much darker that Twilight looks like Dora the Explorer in comparison. It should be so much darker that Twilight goes and gets a tan on its diamondy skin and dresses differently. It should be so much darker that Twilight goes and rents Twin Peaks on DVD and locks itself in a room to watch it over and over again until it learns its god damn lesson.

Why remake it? Its a blatant disrespect for the source material especially when you say this shit! God damnit!

Next on the agenda: Spider-man reboot

Okay. This gets me equally as pissed off as Matt Reeves directing Let the Right One In does. First off, the Spider-man WERE fun. Spider-man 2 was my favorite. 1 was okay and 3 was god awful. But to reboot it already? Rebooting Superman I get, its been years since we've seen him in movies. Batman even had been years since we saw him. The Hulk no one saw so the reboot was okay, but still no one saw it. But to reboot Spider-man? It still holds records! Sam Raimi started something great and ruined it. Let the bad taste leave everyone's mouth. Don't reboot it yet. Wait a few years Hollywood, or don't do it at all. Its unnecessary and disrespectful.

And that's what gets me so mad. Its disrespectful. Hollywood is just about the money and not the art whatsoever. It makes me sick and bitter. I won't go to see Spider-man because I have already seen it. Give us something new, Hollywood. Stop recycling or you will dig your own grave.

Kevin's Countdown to Lost Season 6 Premiere: Top #15 Favorite Episodes #14

The Man from Tallahassee. To many, Lost season 1 was the strongest, season 2 expanded the mythology of the island, season 3 was okay, season 4 was thrilling, and season 5 was confusing. To me, season 1 was spectacular, season 2 was revealing as well as spectacular, season 3 sucked for half and then was awesome, season 4 was the best season yet, and season 5 finally started giving us real, concrete answers, skewed though they are.

I bring this all up mainly for season 3. It was the season during the writer's strike and thus suffered because of it. The story stalled because of the strike but also because the writers didn't know how long the show would go on for. After the strike, they said it would be 6 seasons and then season 3 picked up. It picked up so much that it is some of the best material Lost has ever produced and will make my countdown. But one of the early gems in all the chaos, was The Man From Tallahassee. In a season full of questions upon questions we were given an answer that was so blatantly in our face but none of us saw it coming.

This episode makes the list just because of that. The confrontation between Sawyer with the man who was responsible for the death of his parents who just so happened to be Locke's father. It was something I never thought we would get an answer to (who is the real Sawyer) and yet it was so obvious. And it was a huge stepping stone for Sawyer who has since become more of the hero than the villain. I'll never forget the moment that Sawyer found out and then strangled Locke's father. I don't think I've ever had the rug taken out from underneath of me like that and that's what I love about Lost.

Kevin's Countdown to Lost Season 6 Premiere: Top #15 Favorite Episodes #15

Okay! So here it goes, my countdown to the Lost Season 6 premier with my top fifteen episodes. I consulted many different top episode lists which didn't not completely agree with me nor I them, but these are mine. These are the outstanding episodes that I remember most because of their shock value (WTF moments) pacing, storytelling, whatever! I'm doing two today because I missed yesterday.

Number fifteen but number 1 on the countdown is THE MOTH. There are plenty of episodes from season one that will appear on this countdown but The Moth will forever be one of my favorites. Before this episode, Charlie was nothing to me. He was a junkie that I felt the producers and writers forced upon you. But this tore down everything we knew about him only to build him back up stronger than ever.

Still being one of the only episodes that truly gets to the core of Charlie, The Moth had all the magic that season one could muster. Locke was still very mysterious and almost mentor-like. The island was still new and exciting and the mysteries of the Mary statues were not fully explained. It was mysterious and heartbreaking, which I believe is the very foundation of Lost.

The final conversation with Locke and Charlie just encapsulates the story perfectly and I will never forget the imagery of the moth flying up into the night sky. Alas, Charlie you are dead now. I do miss you, but I know we'll see you again. Though like many of Lost's reoccurring characters, it will not be the Charlie will all knew and loved. RIP buddy, as I sing, "You All Everybody"!

Uncharted 2: Among Goodness

There are few people who's opinion I respect more than Tim Kail. Actually, there are only a few people who's opinion I really respect at all. Alex Megaro, Brian Ariotti, Mike Atkinson, Mike Dejoy, and Christopher Walken. All of whom read this blog. So Tim, this is not an attack of any sort, just a difference in opinion which will highlight things you have said about Uncharted 2 and possibly contradict them.

Recently IGN has done contradictory pieces on big games such as Uncharted and Batman Arkham Asylum. Its very interesting to read about other people's opinions on games that either are liked or disliked. Their argument for Batman was that he shouldn't be able to see through walls and the fact that you can strips him of everything Batman is. I don't agree, but I see where they are coming from. But sorry IGN, the game rocked.

Now I will start with what they said about Uncharted and move into Tim's arguments. Their major concern was the lack of variety, much like Tim said. Shootout after shootout that led to platforming that led to shootouts. Now, having played the first one, I knew exactly what I was getting in that lack variety. The game isn't Grand Theft Auto or Fallout so it will never have that replay value that varied gameplay brings. Uncharted is like watching a summer block buster that you control. Albeit there is sometimes more movie and less gameplay. But if it means anything, Metal Gear Solid (my all time favorite series and the sole reason I have a beard) has even longer movies and possibly less gameplay time. Snake Eater is my favorite game of all time and there are times when you walk four seconds and then watch a twenty minute long video which leads to another four seconds to another video.

All I'm saying is that Uncharted is an interactive movie the likes of which have never been seen before. That doesn't mean its perfect or one of the greatest games of all time. But if you are looking for something to fill the hole that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull put in your heart, Uncharted 1 and 2 are exactly what you need.

Yes, the platforming is somewhat repetitive and more times than I like to remember Nathan would jump somewhere I didn't want him to. But Assassin's Creed had me way more frustrated in terms of troublesome climbing and unwanted plunges to my death. I loved Assassin's Creed by the way. I'm right now trying to get a platinum trophy on it, it fucking rocks.

Though, Assassin's Creed story is much, MUCH more unbelievable than Uncharted's. Both Uncharted games had a little supernatural twist which I love but Assassin's Creed pulled one from left field, which is awesome. Yes, the puzzles in Uncharted are absolutely ridiculous and unbelievable but I take that with a grain of salt. Video games in general are usually ridiculous. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 is ridiculous in terms of story. I frickin loved that game and platinumed the hell out of it but warfare is never that cinematic nor that personal. Not that I know personally but I can surmise.

Uncharted is popcorn. Its fun, cinematic, and innovative. Its a cheesy summer blockbuster that people love and some critics bash. Tim is not the first person I've heard that doesn't like it. Plenty of friends of mine don't at all and people I've talked to at work don't either. But the voice acting and character animations bring to life the story and characters like never seen before. The only game that is close to it in that regard is Mass Effect which I will be blogging about soon. I believe that Uncharted will bring with it a new standard in story telling for video games. But I don't think it will stand the test of time. If anything its multiplayer will probably be remembered longer than its solo play.

I think that the world is dumbed down by MTV, Michael Bay, the Black Eyed Peas ect. People want flashy things and quick thrills to satisfy their three second attention spans. I think that's why this game is being heralded as much as it is. I like it a lot and I hope they make more, but much more is needed if this is going to stand the test of time.

So there. My longest blog ever. There are my two cents, or there is my two cents, whatever it is. If you will learn anything from this blog though, it is this. Don't ever argue with Tim Kail. He is smarter than you and usually always right. Seriously.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sarsgaard is Hector Hammond

The above picture is a crude adaption of what Peter Sarsgaard will probably look like since being cast in Green Lantern the movie. I have said it before and I will say it again, that when super hero movies need actors like Peter and Lively. They bring no Hollywood baggage to a film that needs their blank slate sort of approach to make these fantastic characters real. Renolds is much like Robert Downey Jr by being on the fence of Hollywood. Robert has more recently planted his feet in the mind of movie goers and is rapidly approaching his super stardom I believe he has been owed. But the cast that Campbell is building truly has my support and has me believing that this movie will bring the realism that it must have to be good, and the talent that we all want. Sarsgaard is awesome and will be a perfect Hector Hammond. I just don't like the character.

The other good thing about this news is that we now have more information on the story which leads me to believe it is the Secret Origin story. If you have never read it or comics in general, pick this one up. Its a great read and welcomes noobs into the modern mythos of the Green Lantern saga which seamlessly blends the old stories with the new. The story reads just like a movie and also includes such plot points that lead to future events that shock the Green Lantern and DC Universe. Bomb!

BEAR CRITIC by Brian Ariotti | 1/12/10


Monday, January 11, 2010

Green Lantern All Around Thoughts

Its been a while since my last post, but I've got a lot planned in the coming weeks including a countdown of my top 15 LOST episodes so stay tuned for that. But right now I have a lot of thoughts on Green Lantern on and off the comic book pages.

First off, Green Lantern Corps #42 brought one of the best single issues of a comic book I have ever read. Pacing, action, dialogue, and art worked so harmoniously that you almost forgot it was just a single issue of a comic book and not a tw
o hour long movie. It was that good. It ended with a sacrifice that was felt all throughout the DC Universe fan base. The death of Kyle Rayner. The Torchbearer, Ion, the Alley Rat (as Sinestro would say), the heart of the Green Lantern Corps. I was sad to see him go, but it was a very fitting end to such a hero.

This is where it goes wrong. Issue 43 comes out and he's back
from the dead......

What the fuck?

This single handedly took at the magic out of the previous issu
e and robbed it of all its beautiful story telling. The fact that Kyle's sacrifice meant nothing has cheapened the Green Lantern Corps series as a whole and now it leads me to believe that other big moments will add up to nothing; such as Guy Gardner becoming a Red Lantern. If he doesn't stay a Red Lantern for at least three or four issues, I'm going to be very pissed. DC, a word of advice. Let things be. Of course people are going to be upset but life is about change. Change is good, especially in such great story telling. What you're doing with Batman still being dead is fantastic. Its been over a year, so kudos to you!
With that being said, lets move on to the casting of Blake Lively as Carol Ferris. To me Carol and Hal's relationship is interesting but hard to nail since he is off protecting the universe. She is what grounds him, what ties him back to his humanity and his past. I know nothing about Lively nor have I seen her in anything. But I will say this, I could not be happier with the choice. Super hero movies don't need A list stars, they need someone new. Someone different that can transport them to this new and fantastical world. Lively is beautiful and new to most. Though her hair is blonde she will be perfect. I know you may be thinking that Ryan Renolds is a A lister but I don't consider him as such. To me, he is the people's favorite, not Hollywood's. He isn't Ben Affleck, he isn't Hugh Jackman, he is good and low key while remaining prominent. Like a good after taste in your mouth.

This casting news just gets me more pumped up for this movie, I can't wait until we hear who Sinestro is being played by. Hawt Damn!