Archive for November, 2009

My Dream Supergroup

For those who might not know what a “supergroup” is, it’s essentially a collection of members from various bands who collaborate for a number of songs or even a full album.  Typically the closest we’ll get to a supergroup is a side project announced by a member of another band.  Take for instance the recently announced side group that will involve members from Anthrax, Every Time I Die and Fall Out Boy (honestly, I’m scared to see/hear the results), that’s a close example of a supergroup.  But for someone like me who tries to get into more, similar bands after hearing an album or two by another, it’s easy to dream for a certain collaboration.  So this is what I’m going to bring you, my own personal dream group, if only for one album.

Vocals: Ronnie James Dio (Black Sabbath/Heaven and Hell, Dio, Elf, Rainbow)

Anyone who knows heavy metal has to know Ronnie James Dio, and not just for the song “Holy Diver.”  On a few of Black Sabbath’s albums, Dio actually assumed the role of frontman instead of Ozzy Osbourne, leading to the foundation of Heaven and Hell as a bit of a side band.  Dio is often credited as the one who invented the devil horns hand sign, a near daily gesture given off by most metal fans.  I was fortunate enough to see Heaven and Hell during the Judas Priest-headlined Metal Masters tour from 2008, additionally featuring Motorhead and Testament.  The entire six hour show was a blast and to my (pleasant) surprise, Dio happened to be the strongest vocalist there.  Thus began my true appreciation for this power metal vocalist.  Dio has recently turned 67 and he’s still able to push impressive notes out that can put other singers to shame.  Unfortunately, it’s been confirmed that he has stomach cancer and is currently in the hospital.  Despite this, Dio has shown great strength and variety to his vocals and it’s always a joy to hear him on a song.

Guitars: Glenn Tipton (Judas Priest, Glenn Tipton)

Those who have hung out with me know that Judas Priest have been my favorite band for as long as I’ve been into metal.  They’re the band that served as my real introduction to the genre and even with a relatively mixed discography; their great songs and still solid live performances have left them (mostly) unchallenged by other artists.  A big part of why the band is so enjoyable is because the two lead guitarists, Glenn Tipton and Kenneth “K.K.” Downing.  These two essentially do trade-off guitar duals during solo sections, with most of their more impressive ones being on the excellent Painkiller album.  Though it could almost be argued as a toss-up between the two, I’ve always preferred the solos Tipton has done more work in; that and his solo album, Baptizm of Fire showed he’s not too bad on his own (save for the vocals).

Guitars: Jonathan Donais (Shadows Fall)

Shadows Fall are a band that get frowned upon quite a bit, mostly because they’re a metalcore band and many people insist Brian Fair is a lousy vocalist.  But to be honest, they aren’t all that bad (and neither is Fair).  Sure, nothing they’ve released after The Art of Balance has hit as high but they’re released some fairly good material.  Even those who don’t like the band tend to admit the guitars are pretty good and this is part of why I think Jonathan Donais would be a good second guitar player for a supergroup.  Now, there are plenty of other more talented guitar players out there, but I think Donais would be best suited as a mix between rhythm guitar player and supporting soloist (Tipton would be dominant but Donais would have his fair share too).  If I wanted the most insane guitar combination I’d probably pick Marty Friedmand and Yngwie Malmsteen.  But I simply want a strong guitar duo and I do believe Donais could work well with Tipton for this.  He’s between good and great, with guitar riffs and solos that usually impress, but never feel overwhelming or without some form of flow to maintain consistencies in the songs.

Bass: Greg Christian (Testament)

Bass players don’t tend to get much recognition, even in the metal community.  What’s most unfortunate, however, is that there’s actually a valid reason: there aren’t many great bassists out there to stand out.  But when you find a talented person on the bass guitar, you’ll definitely be able to tell the difference in the music more times than not.  While I was inclined to put ICS Vortex (recently fired from Dimmu Borgir), he was never given much legroom outside of his vocal sections.  Even so, Greg Christian from Testament has proved himself a more than competent bass player over the years.  Many of the songs Testament have done include a strong use of bass, with the most popular being the intro to “Souls of Black.”  And after hearing more of what the band has to offer, it becomes more and more abundantly clear how great Christian could fit into just about any metal band, especially a more aggressive one.

Drums: Nicholas Barker (Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth)

Similar to Jonathan Donais and, to a lesser extent, Glenn Tipton, Nicholas Barker is a similar example of a musician who’s quite talented but isn’t quite in the overzealous territory.  I’m most familiar with Barker as the drummer for a chunk of Dimmu Borgir’s discography (yet another band that takes a lot of heat).  If you want a proper idea of what this drummer can do, give “Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny” a listen and you’ll get a good idea of his talents.  Though the more talented Jan Axel “Hellhammer” Blomberg replaced Barker for 2007’s In Sorte Diaboli (ironically, the band’s weakest overall effort), the latter has still given the band some impressive contributions and it would be wonderful to continue to see his talents put to good use.

My Top 10 Films

Since this college semester is coming to a close in a few weeks, I’ve decided to post my current Top 10 films list for a two part blog, giving reasons and a video showing a clip from each film.  Now, I won’t go and call myself the best film critic by any stretch of word and there are still plenty of movies I have yet to see.  But I figure there’s no harm in constantly updating your list and for a good while, this has been what the top has looked like.  So here it is, part one:

10. Forrest Gump

This is definitely a clear contender for a most popular film list; and with good reason.  Many scenes, characters and lines have been mentioned, quoted and spoofed countless times, but this is all the more reason it’s such a great movie.  Sure, we’ve all seen it only a billion and a half times already, but it never loses its charm.  Although Forrest might not be the brightest apple on the tree, he’s one of the most naturally good at-heart.  A big part of what makes this such an easy film to follow is how Forrest’s adventures and, at times, struggles are a fair representation of what many common Americans go through.  The film has recently been criticized for having a constrained view on some of these moments but this is more a misconception than anything.  What Forrest deals with and notices are intended to be passed off from his view, which is as neutral and unbiased as you can possibly get.  Some might think the film struggles with its message(s), which it doesn’t but this is only more reason the film relates so easily to us (multiple messages and some not being so clear at first).

“What’s my destiny, Mama?”

“You’re gonna have to figure that out yourself.  Life is a box of chocolates, Forrest.  You never know what you’re gonna get.”

9. Stand By Me

I’ve become a fairly big fan of Stephen King in the past couple years.  I feel that he’s (mostly) offered some of the best stories out there, whether they detail strong characters or have striking scenarios, he’s almost never left me underwhelmed.  And despite how much I might praise his other works; I think the story that hits home the most for me is the film adaptation of Stand By Me.  The plot is very basic and gives us little more than the little journey that our four main characters go through.  But this simplicity gives the film a lot of room to detail the characters and we definitely get a strong dose of that, namely from Gordie and Chris.  The relationship between all four characters feels natural and realistic, with great agreements and sometimes bitter arguments sprouting out.  Anyone who’s seen the film unedited knows that it doesn’t try to sugarcoat anything but you’re not getting morbid or depressing images either.  It’s a kind of film that can easily to speak to anyone because of it cleverly maintaining a mid-ground mood.

“**** writing, I don’t want to be a writer.  It’s stupid.  It’s a stupid waste of time.”

“That’s your dad talking.”

“Bull****”

“Bull true.  I know how your dad feels about you.  He doesn’t give a **** about you, Denny was the one he cared about and don’t try to tell me different.  You’re just a kid, Gordie.”

“Oh, gee!  Thanks, Dad!”

“Wish the hell I was your Dad.  You wouldn’t be goin’ around talkin’ about takin’ these stupid shop courses if I was.  It’s like God gave you something, man, all those stories you can make up.  And He said, ‘This is what I got for ya, kid.  Try not to lose it.’  Kids lose everything unless there’s someone there to look out for them.  And if your parents are too ****ed up to do it, then maybe I should.”

8. Letters from Iwo Jima

This might sound blasphemous to some, but I’m pretty late to the Clint Eastwood party.  In fact, this and Flags of Our Fathers were my introduction to his work.  But as we all know Mr. Eastwood has seldom missed the mark and he definitely did a great job with Flags of Our Fathers.  Then there’s Letters from Iwo Jima, which trumps its American sibling in every conceivable way.  Despite telling the tale from the Japanese point of view, this film actually hits home harder than Flags of Our Fathers.  Giving us an idea of what the conditions were (probably) like for the Japanese soldiers who worked, fought and died on Iwo Jima is one of the film’s strongest aspects.  And it’s carried out throughout the entire runtime with pure excellence, giving us strong performances from the entire cast (especially Ken Watanabe) and dramatic moments matched by a solemnly peaceful score.  War has taken many forms and become the inspiration for a wide variety of films-this is one that gets my utmost recommendation for even the remotely curious.

“If our children can live safely for one more day it would be worth the one more day we defend this island.”

7. The War

Don’t be confused, this isn’t that forgettable film featuring Jason Statham and Jet Li.  Instead, this is a picture from 1994 staring Kevin Costner and a young Elijah Wood playing part of a dirt poor family in 1970.  I will say I’m definitely biased towards this film mostly because it hasn’t gotten much recognition and has thus become more of a cult favorite.  The synopsis doesn’t sound terribly interesting on paper and the happy-happy-joy-joy DVD cover indicates a very bland film.  However, this is a movie that, like most of the films on my Top 10 list, hit close to him simply for its characters.  The relationships are mostly believable and the acting is solid all around.  This leads to a real shame about the film: only two (three if you count Lucas Black) of the actors made it.  Many of the supporting characters were filled by people who looked like they had plenty of potential yet only Wood and Costner hit it big.  A number of messages are told throughout the film and although they aren’t emphasized quite to the extent of, say, Forrest Gump, it helps keep the film from feeling like it’s preaching.  I’m sure most who are reading this haven’t seen the film and likely won’t find it at their local video store.  But I highly urge even buying it since it can very easily grow on you and a number of scenes contribute to give it plenty of re-watch value.

“I hope you know them’s the kids who just beat me up.”

“I know who they are, son.”

“Then why’d you give them Ma and Lidia’s cotton candy?”

6. Schindler’s List

Of all the films on my Top 10 list, this is the one that I can never bring myself to watching multiple times.  I’ve only seen the movie one time, but that single viewing alone leaves such a mark on you that it’s almost impossible to forget the details.  This is a very different film for Spielberg which turns out to be a wonderful shift and only makes me wonder why he hasn’t done more dramas.  On the flip side, part of what helps Schindler’s List work so well is that we haven’t gotten very many films that even come close to hitting the serious mark it has.  Those who haven’t seen it should be aware that this is a very unapologetic viewing which, given the subject matter, is very important.  What’s best is that we get this inspired tale of a single setting in the Holocaust and it never loses the tight grip in the three hour runtime.  Schindler’s List very clearly deserved its Best Picture win at the Oscars for a number of reasons, including how unrelenting, convincing and absorbing it is.

“I could have got more out.  I could have got more.  I don’t know.  If I’d just…I could have got more.”

“Oskar, there are eleven hundred people who are alive because of you.  Look at them.”

“If I’d made more money…I threw away so much money.  You have no idea.  If I’d just…”

“There will be generations because of what you did.”

“I didn’t do enough!”

“You did so much.”

“This car.  Goeth would have bought this car.  Why did I keep the car?  Ten people right there.  Ten people.  Ten more people.”

“This pin.  Two people.  This is gold.  Two more people.  He would have given me two for it, at least one.  One more person.  A person, Stern.  For this.  I could have got one more person…and I didn’t!  And I…I didn’t!”

New Moon Opening: Oh the Irony

I’m sure that by now anyone who’s even remotely in the know of entertainment today is aware of the release of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, second Twilight film adaptation.  The previews and trailers indicated a possible improvement over its predecessor, which for just about any sane movie fan meant something above lousy.  As such, expectations for the film seemed to be of a fairly moderate level, with potential for some profit to be made in the first few days of its release.  A fair opening seemed to be the most likely outcome, nothing groundbreaking at all.

Of course, when you’re living in a generation that has certain award shows (ahem, MTV) give the first Twilight a Best Picture award over The Dark Knight and even the merely above average Slumdog Millionaire, any ludicrous events can come about.

And sure enough, we wind up seeing New Moon rake in high numbers and even break records.  For those who might not be up to date, here are the film’s opening numbers and previously set records for comparison:

Midnight Showing

New Moon: $26.27 million (from 3,514 theaters)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: $22.2 million (from 3,003 theaters)

Full Opening Day

New Moon: $76.27 million

The Dark Knight: $67.2 million

Opening Weekend

New Moon: $140 million

Spider-Man 3: $151 million

The Dark Knight: $158 million

Additionally, the film grossed $118.1 million, which brings its current worldwide total to over $258 million already.  Even if you actually happen to be a fan of the films, those are some rather shocking numbers, especially given it broke two records and now has a bronze medal for best opening weekend.  The irony of these results, however, is with the reception the movie has garnered, holding a 30% on RottenTomatoes (4.8/10 average from 162 review) and, at the time of this post, a 4.5/10 on IMDB from just less than 16,000 votes.

Now, although I’m aiming to make a career out of reviewing common entertainment productions, I refuse to spend my hard-earned cash on either of these films to earn no compensation.  But even without know how good or bad New Moon would be ahead of time, I think it’s quite absurd how well it’s done already.  Even Summit Entertainment (which produced the movie) is surprised at how much money it took in.  The target audience is about as cliché and shallow as a movie can get, and it seems everyone who possibly could’ve been turned on by this wound up seeing it.

Tragically, this is only going to lead to subsequent adaptations that will be as bad, if not worse and because the studio(s) now know they can bring in plenty of money, they don’t even have to worry about effort.  Can we get a round of applause for our generation, ladies and gentlemen?

And to think Robert Pattinson, who did a more than adequate and praise-worthy job in Harry Potter in the Goblet of Fire, has become little more than a make up mannequin who acts like a soap opera lead.

MGM: Modern Warfare 2

If you’ve been following Call of Duty at all recently then you’ve already heard, seen and probably played the controversial No Russian level.  But even with all the talk and infamy, there’s more to examine with Infinity Ward’s latest offering than ten minutes of fictional terrorist footage.  Many continued to play the first Modern Warfare well after its release and has since become one of the most critically acclaimed and top selling games of this generation.  And now we have its sequel, Modern Warfare 2, bringing plenty of new content to keep fans coming back.  How well does it all manage to be?

Matt’s Thoughts

One more year, one more Call of Duty game.  If I didn’t know any better I’d say Activision were becoming a new version of Electronic Arts with how frequently they’re releasing games for the same franchise.  Fortunately, unlike recent Need for Speed games, the Call of Duty series still manages to at least be decent even with some installments are clearly inferior to others.  I’m glad to say that Modern Warfare 2 is, all things told, one of the better entries, though not everything is blissful here.  The campaign is fun but is way too short to fully enjoy, the story is still uninteresting and I really found the No Russian level to be unnecessary.  And just like the first Modern Warfare, the online is ultimately both the pinnacle and downfall of the game.  On one hand, the amount of content, variety and combinations you have available to use and unlock is quite astounding and the matches can be very fun and tough to stop playing.  However, some of the perks and killstreak rewards seem unbalanced and a sizeable chunk of online players still love to camp or cower in the same area.  This is unfortunately boosted by design choices for some areas in the maps that seem intended for these annoying players.  Even with all that said, when the game is fun and plays out as it should, the experience is quite invigorating.

Greg’s Thoughts

Although I seldom enjoy the Treyarch-developed entries, I’m glad that Infinity Ward at least contribute half of the Call of Duty games.  With that in mind, it’s needless to say that Modern Warfare 2 is one of my favorite installments for the franchise.  While I doubt the series will ever hit the high mark Call of Duty 2 left on me Modern Warfare 2 is a very admirable effort despite inconsistencies.  Matt essentially sums up the online portion.  Matches are usually quite fun and addicting but when you’re against a team of people hiding in buildings (whether alone or together) it’s almost sympathetic to just leave the match.  As for the campaign, I actually found it to be one of the better single player modes for the series and arguably the best since Call of Duty 2 (thought not nearly as good).  The story is also a step above that of 2007’s Modern Warfare even with it being too short-lived to match its potential.  Overall, I’d consider this my second or third Call of Duty game and, were it not for the hit/miss online mode, I’d call it better than Halo 3 online.

Michael’s Thoughts

I’m not sure how Greg can consider Halo 3 online great (it was good for a year, but that’s all), but Modern Warfare 2 pretty much blows any other (console) FPS out of the water right now.  PC gamers have and continue to brew an absurd, silly storm over not getting dedicated servers and, quite frankly, if console gamers can live without them then anyone else can.  I will agree with Greg on the campaign and story, both of which have easily the strongest emotional scenes in a Call of Duty game (that’s not including No Russian).  Of course, most people bought and are playing this game for the online mode and even though there’s a large amount of cowards online that’s not a direct issue with the game itself.  When matches aren’t dominated by these morons (for lack of a better term) it’s tough to put the controller down and, were it not for vehicle fees, I’d have bought this game from the get-go.  Modern Warfare 2 steps up the competition for future first-person shooters and it’ll be interesting to see how Infinity Ward decide to continue improving or revitalizing the series.

A Call of Duty, A Call of Conflicts Part II (The Call to Serve)

Much can go on in the mind of a single individual when engaged by a videogame.  The level of interaction that this form of entertainment continues to offer (and at times promote) is really unmatched by just about any other type of media.  So when a level inclusion is brought into the light such as the No Russian level from the recently released Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, a lot can strike the player at once.  And to my surprise, this is exactly what happened with me when I first saw the then-leaked footage of the airport shooting.  What’s interesting is how the content struck me when I wasn’t even playing the game, which meant there could be any number of thoughts and emotions going through my head when playing myself.

Without dragging the build up much further, sitting down and playing the level was perhaps the most uncomfortable gaming experience I’ve ever had.  It’s fairly evident that there’s a bit of a difference between watching the killer and being the killer.  Taking part in the killing of these defenseless civilians (some crawling before being executed) was, in the words of my store manager, “awkward.”  Even though I felt that I shouldn’t take part, you’re placed into this level after completing a couple missions; meaning you’ve already gotten the impulse to kill what moves before you.

The irony of the killing on this level, however, is that from the get-go you’re told to try and avoid killing civilians, yet here you (and a few others) bluntly kill anything besides each other.  As per Makarov, the game’s antagonist, “remember-no Russian.”  And once the bullets from the people you’re among start firing, you know that the blood has been shed and all you’re left to do is take part.  Although the mission doesn’t seem to mandate you taking part in the killings, instinct did begin to take over and, at points, I’d kill someone crawling, as if saying to myself “put them out of their misery myself rather than at the hands of the real terrorists.”

“It will cost you a piece of yourself.  It will cost nothing compared to everything you’ll save.”

My anticipations were that I’d play this level for the sake of experiencing it, to see what it would offer, what it would feel like-never to return afterwards.  Now that I’ve played the game in its entirety and given the online multiplayer some time, I can safely say I’ll be abiding by those expectations.  No Russian is a level for those who aren’t squeamish, are engaged by what the game offers and want the full blown treatment.  It feels about as close as any of us might think of getting to one of the traps in a Saw film (more specifically, Jeff in Saw 3).  We might be immersed when watching the events unfold, but creating the events ourselves is far from the experience we necessarily want.  In my previous blog, I said that I couldn’t come to a conclusion as to whether I supported the inclusion of the level or not and truth be told, this still holds up for similar reasons.

Thankfully, Activision kept to their word in the level being optional (you’re prompted the option before heading to the main menu and offered to be reminded before the level comes).  I’ll say that the game overall is a very solid experience and the campaign, despite lacking focus, managed to handle its emotional aspirations very well.  It will be interesting to see if other developers follow a similar style to this, though I’m sure most won’t simply for the sake of avoiding controversy (unless they want infamy).  Unsurprisingly, the game is currently banned in Russia altogether and Activision are looking to release a version of the game with the No Russian level completely omitted.

Once again, I welcome any and all respectful thoughts.

A Call of Duty, A Call of Conflicts

Just about any gamer who’s in the know of anything is looking forward to Modern Warfare 2, the latest in Activision’s popular Call of Duty franchise.  The game is due for release tomorrow but certain GameStop stores have started selling the game before the street date.  Regardless of how this might affect the relationship between the two companies, what’s almost guaranteed is that this will be the hot selling game for the year.

With the high anticipation and sales likely to follow suit, most who’ve been following the game have likely seen a leaked video from late October.  For those who haven’t, the video shows the player with about five other terrorists taking part in the killing of unarmed civilians at an airport in-game.  The video was been posted on several websites though subsequently removed shortly after.  Needless to say, the video has drawn quite a bit of outrage with its content and the supposed reminiscence of the Mumbai killings in India last year.  Now I’m here to talk to you about the video and my thoughts on it.

Modern_Warfare_2_cover

When I first started watching the video a few days after it was first leaked, I actually stopped watching about halfway through.  While I’ve never been a squeamish individual (Blood Diamond, Schindler’s List, Rambo, the Saw series-all films I’ve managed to comfortably watch), something about seeing that video for the first time just struck me.  The unfolding massacre which you take part in during this mission felt so wrong to me.  Looking back, I think the key reason it struck me so much is that instead of seeing other characters kill or commit horrific actions, you’re the one doing so instead.  People running, screaming, crawling on the ground after being shot only to be coldly killed-it all contributed to me not wanting to continue.  As I closed the video, I said to myself “that’s too much; it shouldn’t be in the game, it’s unnecessary.”

Now that I’ve mustered seeing the video twice in its entirety, I’m looking back at my strong reaction in a rather confused way.  But that’s for a different discussion.

The point I’m trying to get at, however, comes from the conflict of my feelings and statement with my previous thoughts towards killing in videogames.  Games, namely shooters such as the sadistic Postal and the always controversial Grand Theft Auto games, have often come under fire for causing individuals (usually teenagers) to commit violence acts, such as the Columbine and even Virginia Tech shootings.  Among the outspoken individuals is attorney Jack Thompson, who’s often first on the scene for targeting games as the catalyst for people to commit these crimes.  Videogames are essentially becoming targets like heavy metal from the 80’s, 90’s and even today (eg. the Judas Priest trial of 1990).

Let’s compare: the above video of random killing in Saints Row 2…

In just about every instance where a videogame has been targeted for driving someone towards violent acts, I’ve come to the defense of the games.  I even wind up defending games at home whenever my mother sees me taking part in the killing of either AI bots offline or other human players during online matches.  Oftentimes, my arguments are that the killings are just of fake characters in the game, little to nothing more than detailed and colored pixels or polygons for the sake of entertainment.  Sure, this might seem to be a form of fun that can seem outrageous, but then again what’s half the reason people see horror or action films such as Rambo?  And truth be told, I have always and completely felt this way; the idea of a game pushing someone over the edge just sounds ludicrous to me.  Similar can be said for the content in these games.  Dead Rising, Call of Duty, Saint Row or any other game which has you killing people I find the content to be fitting and not in the least bit unnecessary.

So why is it that this eight minute video during which you take part in the massacre of innocent civilians (much like the freedom you’re given in Grand Theft Auto) seemed to disturb me?  Ultimately, I think it has to do with the circumstances.  With games such as Grand Theft Auto or Saints Row, you can go ahead and kill whoever you want; the choice is really just spontaneous behavior on the count of the player.  This level in Modern Warfare 2, however, essentially tells you to assist in a large, terrorist homicide mission with either a sadistic, domineering motive or no sane reason at all.  The choice of free killing in Saints Row will almost always come out of the desire to just screw around (for lack of a better term) and have fun.  Conversely, the murdering from this airport level feels more like a shooting gallery that bluntly has you kill.  It’s this that I’m having a tough time deciding why someone would legitimately want to do since Activision have said that this mission is completely optional and not representative of the overall gameplay experience.

But this is no different from the other games I’ve defended, right?  After all, they’re just detailed polygons and pixels made into a fictitious game.  It would seem that this inclusion of a level is starting to make me question my previous thoughts.  In the long run, the civilians you kill in this game are the same as any other AI bot in-essence; all that’s changed are how they’re designed.  This is similar to how society has tried to decide if all humans are in fact the same or equal.  Just look at blacks and slaves from the earlier years of America.  The people might look different, but they’re still people.  Yet it isn’t just the AI characters but the player, which brings back how I’m puzzled someone would want to do this.

To the terrorist killings in Modern Warfare 2.

My only guess for why players would take up this mission if it does turn out to be optional is simply for the sake of curiosity.  I’ll probably pick the game up after release and play through this level simply to see what a replication of terrorism is like.  However, once I’ve done that for my first playthrough I’ll likely have a tough time saying to myself, “I want to play the airport mission and kill those civilians.”

Developer Infinity Ward’s reason(s) to include this level in the game is still puzzling to me and in all honesty, I’m not entirely sure what to think of it.  On one hand, I think the level is ultimately senseless and that we could have easily done without it.  Yet if I say that I think it should absolutely be taken out for the content then this essentially contradicts my previously firm beliefs in defending videogames.  With all of this in mind, I’m not sure if I’d rather see this section of the game taken out or not.  It seems to test how I’ve decided to defend games such as Grand Theft Auto which I do think is good since I begin to question what I think and try to weigh things in a different manner.  As of now, however, my final verdict is still undecided.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this level as well, so if you have anything to say about it please share it in a professional matter.  Thank you.

Top 10: Implausible Movie Scenes

5. Remove the Car Bomb-Transporter 2

I actually forgot why I even decided to see Transporter 2.  Never did see the first one, the second didn’t look great and I never saw the third either.  However, I did wind up seeing the film and it’s one that has disbelief written all over it.  One scene in particular, however, left me completely speechless at how bluntly unrealistic it was.  If you’ve seen the film, then you know that Statham’s car winds up having a bomb under it so what does he do?  He jumps off a ramp causing his car to spin around, the bottom of the car barely scrapes a crane hook that perfectly removes the bomb without issue and he still lands with little to no problem.  Normally I’d go into more detail, but I think watching the scene yourself should put it into perspective.

4. Refrigerator vs. Nuke-Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

The Indiana Jones films have always been a favorite of mine.  Though Temple of Doom was always my childhood favorite, the other two (of the original trilogy) have since grown on me and I actually enjoy Last Crusade the most.  So it goes without saying I was quite curious as to how good Kingdom of the Crystal Skull would be.  Unfortunately, it does not hold a flag to its predecessors and there’s one scene in particular that I whispered to myself “I do believe that this is the most unrealistic scene ever.”  Towards the beginning, Jones finds out that he’s in an area about to be nuked so what does he do?  He hides in a refrigerator.  And since this is shortly into the film with our hero’s life at stake he of course manages to survive with the fridge conveniently being the only object that gets blasted away and lands in tact.

3. Needle vs. Bullet to the Skin-Far Cry

Alright, just so everyone knows, I actually how not seen this film and I never intend to.  I shelled money out for an Uwe Boll film once before and I will never do so again.  But I saw a review for this film which went through the entire film and one part that stood out in an idiotic way was towards the beginning when the super soldiers are tested.  During this scene, we find that the mutated skin can essentially bounce bullets back like rubber but after things go out of control they manage to suppress it with a needle to the skin.  That’s right, the skin is impervious to bullets yet needles go in without an issue.  Figure that out on your own.

2. Spin Back Time-Superman

I’m going to shamelessly admit that I haven’t seen any of the original Superman films.  In fact, other than the most recent film, Superman Returns, all I’ve seen of Superman at all are gameplay videos of Superman on the N64 and him in the TV show Justice League.  So it should go without saying I know about this scene from someone who did a video on the film and the turned out to be one by Doug Walker aka the Nostalgia Critic.  The video was a Top 11 countdown of the dumbest Superman moments and at number one was when Superman turns the world back to reverse time.  Apparently causing the Earth’s rotation to reverse would be the key to spinning back time.  I guess I’d better build a really fast airplane to do this and bring me back to my high school days.

1. Every Scene-Batman & Robin

Even though this list is supposed to be for single scenes from a single film, Joel Schumacher’s hilariously bad sequel to Batman Forever (which he also directed) has so many impossible scenes packed in together that I really can’t think of any other film that hits quite as low.  I won’t state every one of the scenes but here’s just a few of them:  Schwarzenegger surviving water that’s 50 degrees below zero, his freeze gun landing on top of a curved statue perfectly like a magnet, Batgirl jumping off her motorcycle onto Robin’s…swamp-like machine for a few seconds to jump back on her bike which has managed to keep up with the Batmobile and Robin without falling over, the bathooks always managing to hit/grab surfaces strong enough to pull our heroes forward, Batman and Robin air surfing using doors as boards while casually heading back down to the ground, etc.  If a single movie can actually top the level of implausibility here, then I think we’re in trouble.

Top 10: Implausible Movie Scenes Part I

One of the convenient parts about movies is that they allow stuff to happen that otherwise couldn’t be done in real life.  Very rarely do we ever get a film that feels like it’s abiding by what could or would actually occur but this is part of why certain films are fun to watch (they help you take your mind out of reality for some fun).  However, there are certain scenes that push the idea of plausibility to the point that it’s either just plain silly or simply annoying.  So I’m here to give you ten of the most implausible movie scenes that I’ve ever come across.

10. That’s One Fast Train and Signal-The Fast and the Furious

It’s not like The Fast and the Furious had realism on its side in the first place.  Just about anyone who knows cars well enough should know that an Eclipse with $10,000 worth of upgrades shouldn’t be able to clear a quarter mile in 10 seconds (even with NOS).  However, one scene that I recently noted as being particularly odd is at the end when Paul Walker and Vin Diesel are racing head-to-head in a Supra and Charger, respectively.  However, after they’ve already started racing for the finish line (aka the train tracks) we see that the signal goes down and they narrowly avoid getting crashed (well, one of them does).  But since these are supposed to be ten second cars, that means the train which they just narrowly avoided came within less than 10 seconds with no warning until after they headed off.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t recall the last time a train signal was that slow or a train came that abruptly.

9. No One Sees the Monster-Cloverfield

It’s pretty tough to find little details in Cloverfield since for just about all of the action scenes the camera is shaking around like crazy but it is possible to find little pieces.  And perhaps the most abrupt part of the film is it’s ending, which you need to look in the background to see why they picked it.  Essentially we can see what’s supposedly the monster falling from the sky and into the ocean.  Yet if the bulk of the film itself is of any indication, apparently no one saw the monster go into the ocean.  This is very unlikely since the film takes place in a present setting so there obviously must have been reports of the monster.  Additionally, I find it very unlikely that not a single person who could do or say anything didn’t see the monster crash into the water.  While it can be argued that we don’t see or hear enough in the film itself to confirm this, until we get more background with a follow-up it’s still highly improbable.

8. Burt Is Alive!-Tremors 3: Back to Perfection

Tremors are definitely one of the series of films that you take your mind out of and can easily enjoy.  While the films are genuinely fun and great watches (the first two anyways), there is a scene in the third installment that’s just, well, ridiculous.  Fans of the series can instantly identify the one constant character: Burt Gummer.  There’s one scene in the film where the most infamous creature of the series (graboid) gets and eats him…only somehow he’s still alive inside the monster and is able to clearly communicate to someone simultaneously.  While we have heard a character or two in previous installments scream while being dragged into the ground, Burt, on the other hand, is inside the graboid and comes out without seeming all that affected.  Similar could also be said about how Tommy Lee Jones from Men in Black is able to survive as long as he does inside an alien but since Burt manages to multitask while inside and manage to break clearly, this gets the edge.

7. The Bus Jump-Speed

This scene is what actually gave me the inspiration to do a list of implausible movie scenes.  And of course the one scene that I can never be convinced of is the fifty foot jump across an unfinished bridge.  While Keanu Reeves says there might be an incline and we do see one for the shot the bus apparently lifts, we clearly see in other shots that there’s no such incline on either side of the bridge.  There’s also the bus landing which is less convincing if anything.  For the shot we see of the bus landing on the other side it looks like it’s coming down smoothly from a high area.  And of course they manage to keep it going over 50 MPH even with the landing the bus likely hitting no higher than 80 MPH when hitting the jump.  The film is a fun watch, but some of the scenes take me out too much.  This is the big one.

6. The Sharp Landing Turn-Air Force One

Here’s another film that tests its realism in a number of scenes but for the most part these aren’t to the point that Speed hits.  Yet one scene that I always say “they’d be so dead right there” is after the plane lands during the Russian takeover scene.  There’s a part where we see the plane take a rather abrupt and sharp turn that causes the left side to come very close to the ground.  This is where my belief ran out the window.  A plane such as Air Force One has to weigh several tons and making a turn as nasty as that would definitely make the left wing/engines scrap the ground from the weight transfer and cause a nasty incident (to say the least).  Wolfgang Peterson’s a great director and I love him for bringing us Das Boot, but that scene can never convince me.

*Skip to about 5:50*

MGM-“World Painted Blood”

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, Slayer are back and ready to give us another slab of in-your-face thrash metal.  Plenty of controversy has surrounded the band and they’ve since gathered a strong following of fans and bashers.  Their latest effort, “World Painted Blood,” is now available for listening on the band’s MySpace and will be released in stores this Tuesday.  Should you buy the album or are you better off just letting it sit on the shelves?  Matt, Greg and Michael weigh in.

world painted blood

Matt Thoughts

I’ve always found it odd that metal enthusiasts look at Slayer as one of the easier bands to get into.  While I have enjoyed a couple of their songs I honestly don’t understand why so many people seem to praise them.  To me they’re just another loud band with obnoxious themes/lyrics.  And now we have their latest, “World Painted Blood” which, although easier for someone like me to swallow, still hasn’t turned me on to them.  I think a big part of why I was able to tolerate this album a little more than their other stuff is because most of the tracks don’t feel nearly as loud and barbaric, but this isn’t to say the album is devoid of this.  In fact, there’s just about as much absurd material on here as anything else they’ve put out.  Essentially, this is the same Slayer we all know, but with far less bang.  This might make the album more approachable for more casual listeners, but I doubt it’ll earn them any new fans.

Greg’s Thoughts

Ah yes, Slayer; we all know them and you either love or hate them (not going to find many in the middle ground).  For me, Slayer have been a mostly enjoyable band that have put out enough solid material to qualify being good.  But the amount of praise some will give them can hit a little too close to the ceiling.  That said, after listening to this latest effort from the band I have to say that I’m pretty underwhelmed.  It’s not that this album is bad, it’s just below the mark for what Slayer have brought us in the past.  When guitarist Kerry King said that the album felt like “Seasons in the Abyss” to him, I was legitimately excited since I thought it was about as good as “Reign In Blood.”  And though the sound here is definitely similar to the former album, it just isn’t handled nearly as well.  The energy mixed with some haunting moments that “Seasons in the Abyss” merged together from its two predecessors is almost completely absent here.  As Matt pointed out, this might make the album easier for a more casual audience to take it, but I don’t think it’ll do them any good in the long run.  Essentially, I have a tough time recommending this album even to big Slayer fans, simply because it feels like it’ll lose all appeal after a couple listens.

Michael’s Thoughts

Given my musical tastes, I think it should come as little surprise to hear that I’m not exactly fond of Slayer.  Yes, “South of Heaven” and “Seasons in the Abyss” are both great, if not excellent albums but other than those, the band haven’t released a whole album that I could consider good.  Subsequently, my expectations for “World Painted Blood” weren’t exactly high, especially since the released track “Hate Worldwide” left a sour taste in my mouth.  And as it turns out, this album has done nothing to change my verdict on the band.  If anything, I actually have lower expectations for whatever they put out next.  “World Painted Blood” sounds like it’s trying to do a lot of things yet it still sounds like the same Slayer we all know with one big difference: it lacks vigor.  The sound feels like a conflicted mash of “Reign In Blood” and “Seasons in the Abyss,” the production and mixing is obviously akin to Metallica’s “Death Magnetic” and the themes the band have always expressed are still bluntly present.  Sadly, this only makes the album feel like a drag and it honestly began putting me to sleep in bits and pieces.  Other than “Psychopathy Red,” the enjoyable moments are brief and almost always in the post-solo sections.  Slayer fanboys will probably eargasm over this but anyone else I can only recommend to ignore what is ultimately the definition of unremarkable.