Movie Review: The Dark Knight

Tragedies aside, Heath Ledger really captivates.

Director: Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins, Memento, The Prestige)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (intense sequences of violence and some menace)
What I Expected: A direct and sufficient continuation of Batman Begins.
What I Got: A direct continuation of Batman Begins with a gruesome and enthralling performance by Heath Ledger.
Appeals To: Batman fans, Heath Ledger fans, anyone with the constitution to sit through a chilling performance without adult diapers.

Before I begin, let me make the following blunt observations. We’ve all been waiting for this movie since Batman Begins. We’ve all heard about Heath Ledger’s chilling and excellent performance. We all know Heath Ledger died in New York City, and it’s a tragic loss of an excellent talent. All those facts considered, Heath Ledger doesn’t deserve merit simply because this was his last film – a film which may have ended his life prematurely. Heath Ledger deserves merit for delivering a stand-out performance that will chill you and invigorate your senses.

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Game Review: Odin Sphere

Normally, when a casual-hardcore gamer like myself speaks, they will tell you that the key ingredient to a successful game is gameplay. Realistically speaking, there’s almost always an exception to the rule that exists somewhere, but if you ask a gamer where that exception lies, they might not have an easy answer for you. Odin Sphere, an RPG beat-em-up from Atlus and Vanillaware, comes close to being the exception to that rule; at the very least, you will find it an exceptional game.

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The Quest for a Negative Review

I have been told in the past that I’m generally easy on my reviews. That’s not far from the truth, but I’m a smart man, and as a smart man, I’m not going to pay hard-earned work dollars for something I don’t like just so I can bash it on the Internet. Besides which, writing too many bad reviews makes people come off as cynical bastards or nitpickers who are just looking for crap to whine about.

Of course, that’s usually because they’re really either nitpicking for entertainments sake or looking for crap to whine about to look like a badass. However, if you’re not smart enough to figure that you’re not going to get a compelling drama in a movie like Borat or you simply need to pick on A Walk To Remember for not having tits and gore, you don’t belong on my blog, the Internet, or in my field of existence. If you want to eat, fry the potatoes; if you want to drink, ferment them. Don’t mix that up.

That being said, I too am a cynical bastard and I wish to write a negative review because they’re both fun to write and fun to read. I like a lot of things, and I’m smart enough to push the things I don’t like out of my life – ask a number of women who have dated me. That – as I have so blatantly just displayed – doesn’t mean there do not exist things I dislike. I’m not one of those rose-glassed hippies that think if there’s nothing nice to say about something, say nothing at all; I just don’t really like wasting my time on things that suck.

Unfortunately, there exists the problem that in order for me to write a genuinely bad review, there needs to be something that’s genuinely bad. I’m not going to find things to whine about in something good, or bash something for not being something else. There needs to be something so bad that it has no business being that bad, no matter how inexpensive and/or intentional it was, and yet something I’d have reason to look at without paying too much. Something like the Friedberg & Seltzer movies (Scary Movie, Date Movie, Epic Movie…), only I’m too smart to waste time on those.

So, give me some time while I rustle up some bad memories or bad ideas waiting to happen (not of the women, as writing a bad review on a relationship is libel and thereby illegal) and find something to bash on CxM. I just hope whoever wanted to see what a bad review from me looks like is happy once it comes.

And no, my review of Grand Theft Auto IV doesn’t count: I said it was a good game, and the reason I wrote what I wrote is because nobody talks about its obvious shortcomings.

~ Setsuna Setsunai

Movie Review: Wanted

A smart summer film that laughs with you.

Director: Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch)
MPAA Rating: R (strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language and some sexuality)
What I Expected: A fun, campy, stupid shooter that is hopefully better than Crank.
What I Got: An entertaining thriller that is intelligent without overshooting itself.
Appeals To: Action lovers, people looking for an excellent story, Angelina Jolie/James McAvoy fans, and people who wish the Matrix movies didn’t start to suck.

I started to worry about movies that look like this one: pulse pounding sequences of action laced with high-end, slow-motion special effects involving improbable feats that mostly involve guns. Frankly, movies of this species have been earning a bad rap for themselves as of late. The Matrix movies have declined in quality, Crank was particularly imbecilic, and as lovable as Clive Owen is, Shoot ‘Em Up could have accepted help from illicit recreational agents. Frankly, when one goes to an action film, the action is expected, but everything else is just forgotten about. Thankfully, Timur Bekmambetov realized this and created a work of art that both takes these kinds of movies in a satirical light while providing a deep storyline that hasn’t been seen since the first Matrix film.

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Movie Review: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

“Buddy Noir” describes this shockingly hilarious romp through urban LA.

Director: Shane Black (Writer of the Lethal Weapon movies)
MPAA Rating: R (language, violence and sexuality/nudity)
What I Expected: A funny crime drama with a classic style.
What I Got: A hilarious, intelligent crime drama that successfully updates a classic style.
Appeals To: Buddy film nuts, modern noir afficionados, anyone looking for something fresh.

It seems as of late that I will give credit to any movie that stops me cold in my “I saw it coming” amateur film student tracks and slap me with a fish – warm or cold – and proceeds to laugh alongside me at the total randomness of the situation. Perhaps I have been too jaded – it is easy to predict and expect the right things walking into any average movie. However, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a film that is a laughable mix of brutal honesty, ticklishly sharp wit, and a timeless style.

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Movie Review: The Incredible Hulk

Marvel does it right again.

Director: Louis Leterrier (The Transporter, Unleashed)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (sequences of intense action violence, some frightening sci-fi images, and brief suggestive content.)
What I Expected: Ed Norton commanding an excellent film adaptation of The Hulk.
What I Got: An excellent film adaptation of The Hulk.
Appeals To: Hulk fans; special effects buffs; anyone looking for a good, story driven action film.

Not too long ago, I spoke of how Iron Man shattered everything I came to expect of a Marvel film – focusing on the art rather than the character value and becoming a true medium where art and literature collide on a live-action performance. Now that Marvel has taken command of production, their movies have transcended the popcorn-value of the average summer blockbuster and achieved true cult status among comic fans and movie aficionados. With the release of The Incredible Hulk, we get to see Marvel continue its trend.

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Game Review: Grand Theft Auto IV

Let me not be vague about my message about Grand Theft Auto IV: GTA IV is a good game, but it is not the best game ever, not even the best game of its time. I don’t care how many GTA fanboys object to that – there are several problems with the game that no game of high quality should have.

Now, I’m not one for not giving credit where credit is due. I know the reason GTA IV behaves the way it does is because it has to cut corners to overcome technological obstacles. It does this for good reason as well, as the modern GTA series is one of its only games of its kind. However, the game on a technical and playable standpoint is far from the best thing on the market.

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