Sunday, December 6, 2009

Favourite Christmas Movies

The Christmas season is well underway (I'm guessing since Halloween or earlier if you go to Costco). At this time every year I, and I'm sure you do too, have certain "must" movies and specials I like to watch every year to get into the season a little more. Today I'm going to talk about my favourite Christmas movies. Soon I will do a new entry about the specials. Just breaking it up so that the entry doesn't come more long winded than it probably will already. Now, onto the movies:

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

This is probably my favourite Christmas movie. It is full of hilarious scenes that will keep you in stitches. From Clark's disc ride down the hill and through the Wal-Mart to the cat getting fried eating christmas lights to Cousin Eddie emptying his RV's septic system into the street sewar with the simple explanation that "the shitter's full", I never stop laughing at this one. I know John Hughes is known for directing, writing or producing the teen angst movies but he also did holiday themed movies very well as well such as this Home Alone and Planes, Trains and Automobiles (which is Thanksgiving). This is just a great movie over all.

A Christmas Carol (1951)

This is probably my second favourite adaptation of Charles Dicken's classic tale. I think Alastair Sim is perfect as Scrooge and does a great job of playing the miserable miser at the beginning of the story to the loveable reformed man at the end. The ghosts are played with perfection too, as are all of the characters to be honest. The black and white film gives the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come an extra creepiness that most other adaptations of this story just can't meet. However, as I said, this is my second favourite version of the tale. My favourite would be...

Mickey's Christmas Carol

I have watched this every year since I was a kid and still love it. I especially love how they involve so many of the classic Disney characters from Mickey as Bob Cratchet to Black Pete as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. It's just so well done and gives kids a great way to learn and appreciate the story and should be required viewing for all kids at Christmas time.

White Christmas

This one is just a perennial classic for most people and is also on this list for more of a nostalgic reason for me. I used to watch this one every Christmas eve with my family. When I was a kid, I hated it but as I grew older I grew to appreciate it. I'll always have the fond memories of watching it with my parents and my grandparents, even if the grandparents always fell asleep in front of the fire half way through it.

A Christmas Story

I'm sure some of you were worried I had forgotten this one. This one is much like Christmas Vacation for me in that it is a great Christmas movie and is just hilarious. I'm sure everyone wanted a Red Rider BB gun after seeing this one as a kid. Me however, I always wanted the leg lamp, which my girlfriend would not find suprising as she says I love "crap".

Of course, there are lots of other great Christmas movies such as Miracle on 34th Street and Home Alone that I couldn't cover or this posting would have gotten waaay too long. Also, there are lots of craptastic ones out there too but I won't get into them. That's right Christmas with the Kranks, I'm looking at you.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Game Review: Brutal Legend

*NOTE TO READER: Started this a few weeks ago and just posting it now. Sorry, I'm way behind*

This game was definitely near the top of my most wanted for 2009. I was a big fan of Psychonauts and since Brutal Legend is from the same creative mind of Tim Schafer, I was sold from day one. Add in Jack Black and the heavy metal theme and I was drooling for months waiting for this one.

I finished this game last week and to be honest, I don't think it quite lived up to the hype. The heavy metal theme sure did though and the voice acting is top notch. This game has one of the best soundtracks ever. I'm a huge metal fan and the soundtrack for this one was nothing short of AWESOME!! From Ozzy to Judas Priest to Slayer to Lamb of God, it has everything you could want. Jack Black is perfect in his role as Eddie Riggs, the roadie. We all know how Black feels about metal given his work in Tenacious D and this game is almost like it was made for Tenacious D.

I also thought the writing and the storyline, while not over the top awesome, were really enjoyable as well. There was lots of cool humour and of course metal references in this game. The game also has some great cameos in it as well from Ozzy to Lemmy to Rob Halford to even Kyle Gass.

The game is more or less played out in an open world where you can either do missions to progress the main story or you can do side missions such as races, hunting of creatures, helping someone with their mortar fire or defend a position. There are also side objectives such as finding objects throughout the world.

The gameplay though was nothing like what I expected. I thought it might be a God of War hack-n-slash style game, but it ended up being more of an RTS. Most of the missions for the main storyline are played out in this fashion. Your base is a concert stage and your resources for building new troops are "fans" that you accumulate by taking control of towers that supply them to you by playing one of the special solos you have in the game that give you special powers. Much like Warcraft and Command and Conquer, you build your troops once you have acquired enough fans. The controls for these battles are pretty basic and don't take too long to master. The battles themselves though do get quite difficult as the game progresses. I recall a few of them taking me quite some time to finish.

Overall, I enjoyed the game but glad I only rented it. The main storyline doesn't take that long to finish, depending on how well you progress through the battles. If you can rent it or see it on the cheap, I definitely say pick it up but don't pay full price for it.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, July 27, 2009

Game Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Xbox 360)

I was finally able to rent this last week after my local Blockbuster never seemed to have a copy in. They got like 4 copies when it first came out but they got 20 of Terminator. I'll never understand how that works.

I really enjoyed this game. It's definitely how I picture a Wolverine movie or game should be, full of him slashing the shit out of people. This game definitely earns its M rating. It is violent on the same level as the God of War games, which it is definitely trying to be. Instead of Kratos and the Chains of Olympus, you get Wolverine and his claws.

I found the story to be decent enough. It more or less follows the movie but adds in some changes here and there. The graphics are decent but not the best I've seen. Sometimes when Wolverine is supposed to be covered in blood in the videos, it's all glossy and looks too syrupy. Still the carnage and violence are really well done. Wolverine cuts people in half, he disembowels them, he impales them on conveniently placed objects around the environment or just plain beheads them. Also, when he takes damage the level of damage is very evident on his body. If he takes enough you even see his adamantium skeleton. Of course, he does regenerate. He wouldn't be Wolverine if he didn't right? You just have to make sure he gets time to heal. You can find upgrades and earn XP points of course to get extra health, faster healing times, stronger skills, etc.

My only real complaint with the game is that it is rather short (I finished it in about 5 days) and also it gets a little repetitive fighting the same baddies over and over again. In the end though, it's definitely a great rental and worth checking out.

Rating: 3/5

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I caught this yesterday with Karli. I did enjoy it. I think the kids are getting better with each movie in their roles as they grow older. It's funny seeing them in the first movie eight years ago and then you see them now. You almost feel kind of wrong in thinking the girls are turning out to be pretty hot now that they're 18 and all. :P

Anywho, I thought for a movie that ran about 2 hours and 40 minutes they could have put more about the Half-Blood Prince in it. I mean he is in the title afterall but he gets mentioned at the beginning, then a little throughout and then nothing until the big reveal at the end of the movie in a rather anti-climatic way. I'll keep away from spoilers but there is another rather large event in the movie that I think could have been done better and was also cut short. Again, just take the extra time (a la Lord of the Rings) and put the extra stuff in.

This one is definitely darker than the last one and that one was darker than the last and so on. I definitely don't think it's for the little kiddies anymore. It's not quite pushing PG-13 but I think the two movies they're doing for book 7 could hit that rating given the violence in it.

Overall, I did like HP6, but it's definitely not one of my top summer movies. I think right now that is still The Hangover and Transformers 2. We'll see though since Karli and I are going to check out Funny People and Public Enemies this weekend at the drive-in.

Public Enemies is one I've been dying to check out seeing as it is directed by Michael Mann (Last of the Mohicans rocks the shit and does Heat of course and most of his movies) and it stars Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. Funny People though is definitely on the top of my anticipated movies though since it's directed by Judd Apatow and has an awesome cast. I'll post my reviews as soon as I see them.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Hockey!! Hockey!!! Hockey!!!

Just as a forewarning, this post will have nothing to do with video games or movies, which I'm sure you've noticed, is the majority of what I blog about.

As any hockey fan knows, July 1 is not just Canada Day to us Canadians but also the start of the NHL's free agency period. As a Leafs fan, I always wait with baited breath to see what latest mistake whoever the current GM of the team will make, especially in the new salary cap era of the League. Overpay for a player who turns out to be a bust and your team is screwed. For the first three years of the salary cap era, we had John Ferguson doing this every year. The first year saw him sign Pavel Kubina to a 4 year, $20 million deal that apparently most other GMs in the league laughed at. Then two years ago he signed Jason Blake to the same kind of deal after only ONE 40 goal season. Part of the decline in Jason's play the first season with the Leafs wasn't totally his fault of course but that deal really hurt the team. Thankfully, Ferguson was fired the season before last. Now we have Brian Burke in charge.

I was quite curious to see what he would do with the team. I knew he was going to toughen us up and try to make us somewhat of a modern day Broad St. Bullies (the infamous 70s Flyers were one of the nastiest teams to ever play the game). Indeed he did this by signing Mike Komisarek from the Canadiens and Colton Orr from the New York Rangers. He also traded for Grant Exelby from the Atlanta Thrashers by sending them the aforementioned Kubina. I feel sorry for anyone who has the puck (or not in some cases) when crossing these guys).

The most important thing he did I think was not go out and overspend on a bunch of players like the Canadiens did. I won't go into it too much but I think the Canadiens have screwed themselves in terms of the salary cap by trading for Scott Gomez from the Rangers (cap hit $6.5 million) and signing Mike Camallari (cap hit $6 million) and Brian Gionta ($5 million). They're all good players but are they worth top line money? Obviously, that remains to be seen but I doubt it. If the cap does drop next year like they are speculating it will, then they won't have a lot of wiggle room if these players don't work out like they are hoping.

The one thing I've really noticed lately is that teams are signing guys to very long deals. Usually 3-5 years was considered long term but now they are signing guys to deals that are 10, 11, 12 or even 13 years. Of course, the Capitals signing Ovechkin to a 13 year deal only makes sense. He's young and probably the best player in the league (at least in my opinion) but the Blackhawks signed Marian Hossa to a 12 year deal!!

Of course, the Red Wings have done this with players as well. I think they are doing as a way to get around the cap. They sign playes to long term deals that are front end heavy in terms of salary so that the cap hit is less over the full term of the deal. For example, Hossa's deal will pay him $7 million or so for the first 8 years and then about $3.5 million for the last 4 years. Since the deal was 12 years for $63.5 million or so, the cap hit is only just over $5 million. I think the league will try to do something to stop this from happening but it won't be any time soon. Can't blame the GMs or players for doing it though. Just smart business.

In the end, I am pleased with what Burke has done so far with the Leafs. We are a rebuilding team and he is definitely putting us in the right direction I think. I'm definitely getting very excited for the new season. Is it October yet? lol

Review Time: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Disclaimer: I am a HUGE Transformers fanboy and the following review is written as such. However, a lot of people I know who aren't big fanboys share the same views I do of the movie, for the most part.

Caught this last weekend. My girlfriend Karli was nice enough to go with me so I could see it opening weekend. Unfortunately, she didn't really care for it and I could see where she was coming from but Transformers was the shit for me in the 80s. Optimus Prime was my hero (along with Superman and Hulk Hogan of course) and when they killed him in the animated movie in the mid-80s, I was devastated.

When they first announced the last movie, I was skeptical, especially since Michael Bay was directing. I like Michael Bay's movies for the most part and thought The Island was a much better movie than people give it credit. I was just worried about how he would treat the Transformers and especially how it could be done with live action. Needless to say, I loved it from the moment I laid my eyes on it. Saw it four times in the theatre.

Anyways, enough with the history lesson. I read some reviews of the newest one before seeing it and was a little dismayed but not that surprised with the scores it was getting. When I checked Metacritic before heading to the theatre, it was sporting a nice shiny score of 35 or so. However, when I read the reviews I wondered if those reviewers had seen the first movie because a lot of what they complained about in this one was the same as the first one.

I might as well come out with it now and say what I thought of it: I LOVED THE SHIT OUT OF IT!!! I'm even seeing it again this coming Sunday. I think all those reviewers who gave it such a low score can blow it out their collective asses.

First off, I think the special effects and CGI are very much improved from the first movie. In the first one I found that hand-to-hand combat between the Transformers was a little hard to follow but it was much clearer this time around, especially during the big forest fight between Optimus and three Decepticons. That scene caused me to crack a HUGE smile across my face which gave Karli a giggle. What can I say, I'm still just a big kid at heart. I am still amazed at well they were able to pull off the transforming. I especially love when they transform on the run. Simply awesome.

The humans are the same as last time...filler. Shia LaBoeuf is the same fast talking guy he was last time and Megan Fox is the eye candy. I thought the best humans were Sam's parents and also John Turturro. Otherwise, who cares about them when giant robots are beating the crap out of eachother? :)

Speaking of the bots, there are a whole bunch of new ones. Soundwave is finally in the picture, along with Rampage, and I love how they were both done. Sideswipe is back too and is a very sexy Corvette. Despite there being a Devastator in the first movie, this time around it is the proper Devastator we all know and love. They even brought in Jetfire, who is a former Decepticon turned Autobot just like he was in the cartoons.

There are a couple of new Autobots that have been upsetting people. They are supposedly stereotypical ebonics speaking ganstas who do nothing important and are called the new JarJar Binks. While they do speak a little gangsta they do play a very important role in the movie. I think people were getting upset over nothing.

The most important new bot of course is the "Fallen" in the subtitle of the movie. He is an ages old Transformer who came to Earth thousands of years ago and was one of the first. They give some of his backstory but I really think they should have fleshed it out a bit more and cut some of the human stuff out. Given that the movie is 2.5 hours long, they could have used that time for that stuff a little better.

The runtime is my only real complaint with the movie. It is a little long. Bay did the same thing with Bad Boys II. However, it still flew by pretty quickly for me and I had a big smile on my face the whole time I was watching the movie. If you liked the first one, you should like this one too.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Movie Review Time

Over the last few weeks I've seen a few movies (big surprise there huh? lol) and here is what I thought of them:

The Hangover

This movie was f'n hilarious. It's from the director of Old School and Road Trip. I think it's even funnier than those two movies. Definitely could be the break-out movie for Bradley Cooper (even though he's made a few movies already such as Wedding Crashers), Ed Helms (Andy from the Office) and Zach Galifiankis. To be honest, I think Helms and Galifinakis stole the movie from everyone else. Karli and I went to see this and I think I nearly wet myself at a lot of the scenes. It was outrageous and very raunchy, the perfect type of humour for me. It is definitely R-rated and not for the little ones.


Pixar has done it again and I really don't know how they keep doing it. They just put out quality movie after quality movie and I think this one is definitely one of their best. It really felt like classic Disney film making with the excellent writing and heart of the movie blended with the action and adventure.

The beginning of this movie is a little heavy for the kids but from there on out they should just love it. The talking dogs I think were the best part of the movie.

This is definitely one that both the kids and the adults will love.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

This is a remake of a movie from the 70s that starred Walter Mathau and Robert Shaw. I haven't seen that one so I can't compare it with this one.

This one though stars Denzel Washington and John Travolta and is directed by Tony Scott. Scott's involvement of course means camera cuts that could give a person seizures. Washington plays an NYC subway dispatcher, and Travolta plays the villain who hijacks a subway. For the most of the movie they never see eachother and only talk over the radio.

This was better than I expected. It's definitely not one of Tony Scott's better movies but is miles above Domino. Had a some good action and tension. Travolta is not as good a villain as he was in Face/Off but he was good hamming it up as the villain in this one. Washington was his usual self.