Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance


I first saw the original Ghost Rider movie a few years ago when it came out on President's Day weekend. When I saw that the second one was doing the same, it was pure serendipity that I got a chance to see this one in theaters on that weekend. As a fan of Ghost Rider and the first movie, it was almost a moral imperative.

I'm glad I saw it. It was a fun, grindhouse-y movie that runs on kinetic energy and an inspired performance from Nic Cage that really lets him cut loose and go a little bonkers. The story seems to pull and Incredible Hulk and ignore the first movie but brings us up to speed with the origin quickly enough. Johnny Blaze isn't in control of the Rider as much as he was in the first movie, or perhaps the Rider isn't in control of himself. So when he appears on the scene, he's usually going all out and doing quite a bit of damage along the way. You see, he has a quest to seek out and burn the wicked, and he doesn't really care about the degree of evil you may have committed. He's going to punish you for it. As you can imagine, Blaze would rather this not happen and seeks a way to get rid of him for good. Which is unfortunate, as a young boy and his mother are being hunted by some shadowy, nefarious types and need his help, which may do more harm than good in the end.

Good performances by Cage and Idris Elba really help the movie shine. They bring the fun in every scene that they're in and have a good chemistry together. The rest of the cast isn't bad and there are a few surprise cameos that had me quite pleased. The effects are pretty nice, especially Ghost Rider riding around during the day. That was rather cool to see. My only complaint is that, like the first one, the fights are rather short, which is to be expected when you have humans going up against a demon, but then again, it does keep them from getting boring.

If you enjoyed the first movie, you should like this one. Don't go in expecting your typical superhero film, as the directors of Crank have done anything but that here. Instead, you get a movie processed through a 70s drive-in sensibility with a touch of overkill.

Check it out.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Doghouse

The wife wanted to watch Twilight something or other last night. Not being a fan, I fired up the 3DS and Netflix and grabbed my trusty nine dollar headphones and settled down for a movie with manliness that would counteract the chick flick on the big screen--Doghouse.

The movie takes place in the UK, where a group of guys have gotten together to help a friend get over his divorce by having a guys weekend away. After starting at the local pub, they get on a bus driven by a lovely lady and head to a small town in the woods, where one of their friends has a relative with a house they can use and the population is supposed to be heavy on the women. This unfortunately doesn't turn out as planned when they get there and find that the women have gone crazy with some virus and have turned into zombie-like maniacs who want to devour the flesh of every man they see.

Not quite what they had in mind.

An entertaining mix of comedy and horror, Doghouse hits more often than misses and dishes up equal doses of scares and laughs. The guys are pretty likable, even the required asshole friend, so we genuinely care what happens to them. It helps that it takes a bit to get going so we have some time to find out what makes them tick. They act like friends, too, which is nice, where we get concern and good ribbing to go along with it. Can't say I recognize many of the actors from anything, save Mickey from Doctor Who and I believe the stoner from Severance. Good bunch though. I didn't have any complaints with them, save for one of the ones I was rooting for didn't survive the film.

It's a fun twist on the zombie genre that shouldn't go overlooked by any fan of these types of films. Check it out.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Zombie Killing for Fun and Profit

Ok, maybe not profit. I am having a blast playing Resident Evil: Revelations for the 3DS. It's a nice and creepy tale that evokes the earlier games in the series but uses the control scheme (or a variant of) pioneered by RE4. So you basically you have things jumping out at you from all over the place, making you scream like a little kid, but you can run away and shoot them with ease. Until you run out of ammo.

That's another change from RE4&5. The ammo can get rather scarce, so if you decide to try and blast everything that moves, you might end up in dire straits later on. It can get hectic, so you don't have forever to aim your shots, but try and make them count. Aiming for the head, as always, is preferred, though center mass might be easier if you're in a hurry.

The bosses are nice and creepy as well, usually dropping audio cues well before you reach them to unnerve you. Then you run into them and it's a race to keep yourself alive and kill them while trying to avoid the multitude of other enemies that pop up to make life more miserable for you.

The basic plot has you on a ship as Jill Valentine, trying to figure out how the mysterious vessel ties into events from the past that seem to be coming back to threaten the world. Any more than that might give away the plot turns and twists that make the game fun. There are a few more characters besides Jill you get to play as, perhaps to prepare us for the character switching in RE6. They use the same game play, but help advance the plot without trying to cram everything into the ship.

In keeping with the newer entries in the series, there is also a minigame of sorts, much like Mercenaries from the last two console versions. This new game is called Raid Mode. Instead of trying to kill as many enemies as you can within a time limit, you have to traverse levels from the game and exterminate everything that moves and get to the end. No time limit and you can even replenish ammo from fallen enemies at times. There's also a level system. You get XP that raises you level, and as you go up, you can use better versions of weapons you find. Then have level restrictions so you might find an awesome weapon early on but not be able to use it for a bit. In addition, you can add abilities to the weapons to increase their usefulness and damage. Not quite the leveling system in 4 or 5, but still handy, considering the enemies increase in level too as you progress. You can do this alone or bring a friend along for the ride with wireless and online game play.

All in all, it's a fun entry to the series and worth picking up if you have a 3DS and want an engaging and entertaining zombie killing game and see some familiar faces.

Check it out.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

RE: Revelaitons

No, that's not a typo. Well, ok, it is, but it's also on the spine of the game box, which amuses me to no end. Anyhow, I finally picked up my copy of the game. It came out yesterday, apparently, even though Gamestop had said it was coming in on the 8th. Which wouldn't matter normally but I pre-ordered at the one by work so I had to wait until today to get it as I was out yesterday. Grrr.

So I have the game in hand and must now wait several hours until I can play it. Why do it do this to myself? I feel like one of the inmates in Don't Look in the Basement.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Thing (2011)

When it comes to horror movies, John Carpenter's version of The Thing is one of my favorites. Great tension, acting and plot come together to form one hell of a ride. As you can imagine, any attempt to remake this was going to be on shit list and I was going to be skeptical. Fortunately, they opted to not remake it, per se, but instead offer us the tale of what happened in the Norwegian camp that led to the events in Carpenter's classic.

It does a decent job with it. Much like the Descent and it's sequel, or Alien and Aliens, a lot of the suspense about what exactly is killing people is removed and we get much more in the way of action. The Thing goes on plenty of rampages and we see it assimilate quite a few people, or at least begin to, which in the original was mainly left off screen. It makes for a fun ride, but not one that will leave much of an impression.

The plot follows Mary Elizabeth Winstead as she gets hired to help with a dig in the Antarctic. It's all rather hush hush, and it turns out they have found a flying saucer. They've also uncovered a foreign life form hidden in the ice that they bring back to get samples from. Then it breaks out. From then on in, the movie kicks it into high gear. Most of the faces that surround her are forgettable and serve mainly to be taken over or killed by the alien. The few that are rounded out are alright, but the fact that one of them is basically your evil scientist tripe is kind of lousy. I would expect a little better, though maybe that's a nod to Howard Hawkes version.

Not a must see film, but certainly not the worst way to kill an hour and a half, if just to watch Ramona Flowers with a flamethrower.

Check it out.