Archive for December, 2008

First Impressions: Trick ‘r Treat

Posted in First Impressions with tags , , , , on December 9, 2008 by B33

As I’ve said on previous occasions, Horror is a particular genre within the film industry that’s gone through numerous stages. Unfortunately, the genre appears to be currently stuck in the remake or “splatter” era, as of lately, with the release of such films as “Saw V,” “The Ring,” “Hostel,” “The Eye,” “P2,” “Captivity,” “One Missed Call,” and so on and so forth. However, a select few of genuinely decent films stemming from the roots of Horror have emerged, such as “Cloverfield,” “Let the Right One In,” “Grindhouse,” “Shaun of the Dead,” “Pan’s Labyrinth,” and a few others. I suppose there’s a variance to the essential key elements of what many would call “decent,” as the average film needn’t really stretch it’s wings far to achieve some sort of profit margin at the box office. Films that take great risks are either abandoned or tend to suffer at the box office; however, there have been a select few times where these said “risks” ended up a success, if handled and executed in a correct manner.

Grindhouse serves as a primary example of a decent film that unfortunately featured poor marketing and a concept that didn’t necessarily appeal to the general theater going audience. The large production budget and poor release window also didn’t help matters. While Grindhouse was one of the best theater going experiences I’ve had and rests high in my list of all time favorite films; the title unfortunately bombed at the box office, although it was later met with a moderate amount of success on DVD. Cloverfield is another film that featured a concept that didn’t necessarily appeal to the general theater going audience… However, Paramount generated hype to the film by selectively releasing details of the plot and launched a full blown viral marketing campaign to further raise interest. With a fairly modest budget, the film was a smashing success and the DVD sales further rose the margin of profit. The risk paid off thanks to a well crafted marketing strategy. Which all ties into a particular film that’s unfortunately been pushed to the side as Warner Bros seems unsure on precisely how to handle it…

This recent “risk” that piqued my interest is a horror film entitled “Trick ‘r Treat.” The plotline entails four different tales all woven together into the same night of Halloween. Think of it as a “Pulp Fiction” sort of affair, in terms of the structure of the plot. I suppose one could hold in regard as a “entertaining” take on the horror genre of film that involves various ghouls, monsters, and folklore one associates Halloween with. The film centers around a mischievous creature named “Sam,” who is essentially the spirit (or mascot) of Halloween and rules and legends surrounding the holiday.  The title was directed and written by Michael Dougherty and financed by Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. However, production on the film has been completed for quite some time and the release of the film has been continued to be pushed back to the point of an indefinite date. Warner Bros has since dropped “Trick ‘r Treat” from it’s current schedule of releases and the fate of the picture’s distribution is unknown, at this time. Fortunately, the film has been screened at a select few venues and is garnering unanimously positive reviews from various fans and critics alike. The only thing I really have at my disposal to fuel my first impressions are the reviews, images, and the trailer released quite some time ago. Below, I’ve embedded a rip of the trailer, courtesy of YouTube.

It’s a rather unique concept that captures my mind and fuels my desire to view this film. Though the demand isn’t from me alone. Numerous individuals have expressed interest in the film and a large amount of dismay towards Warner Bros for shelving it for two ideal Halloween release windows, in a row. It’s rare for me to be genuinely enthusiastic about a film, as there’s always a sense of skepticism and cynicism present in my general impressions, since the industry has failed to offer a significant reason to be excited about a film, as of lately. Hence why I’m baffled at the reluctance to Warner Bros to release “Trick ‘r Treat.” The fanbase is clearly present and the film does have an appeal to the general theater going audience, if marketed correctly and efficiently. Not only is choosing to shelf the film an insult to the cast and crew that worked diligently to bring the concept to life; it’s also an insult to the very audience that would be thrilled to see it.  The recent bit of rumors circulating around the Internet  states that Warner Bros might be testing the film and considering releasing it at a particular point in the future. Whether this true or not has yet to be determined. Until then, I suppose the only thing one can do is spread the word of the film’s existence and await it’s eventual release, whether it’ll be on DVD or will be granted a much deserved theatrical run.

The images found throughout the preview are courtesy of Bloody-Disgusting. If you would like to stay up to date with the bits of news, in regards to the film, you may visit the director’s official MySpace page.


Resistance 2 Graphic Novel

Posted in Nifty Stuff with tags , , , , , on December 8, 2008 by B33

WildStorm (a branch of DC Comics)  will be unleashing  a 6 part graphic novel series which will utilize the universe of Resistance  and it’s primary protagonist named Nathan Hale. Mike Costa touts the writer credit, while Ramón Pérez will be at helm of the art. The issues are expected to cover the various events leading up to the beginning of the second title and serve as a direct tie-in to the game’s plotline.   The official synopsis follows below.

The best-selling Sony PlayStation 3 game comes to comics! Nathan Hale leads a desperate fight against the extraterrestrial Chimera as the invasion of America begins! Coinciding with the release of the highly-anticipated second game in the Resistance franchise, the miniseries, from writer Mike Costa (SECRET HISTORY OF THE AUTHORITY: HAWKSMOOR) is integral to the game story and helps further define this complex universe!

Issue one will hit stores on January 7, 2009 and issue two will be released on January 28, 2009, while the third issue is scheduled to be released on February 25, 2009. The release dates for issues four, five, and six have yet to be announced; at this time. Each installment is expected to run around 32 pages and will retail for $3.99. Fans might also recall that a digital copy of issue zero was placed within the “Collector’s Edition” of Resistance 2 as an extra. Overall, I’m intrigued and look forward to giving the series a shot, as I’ve enjoyed the amount of detail and effort put into the story of each game, respectively.



Posted in Nifty Stuff with tags , , , , on December 5, 2008 by B33

Lately, I’ve been hooked on to sifting through the archives of Anthony Clark’s picture diary known simply as “Nedroid.” Various sketches, full blown pieces of art, comics, and other various elements are scattered thoughout the numerous pages. The art style present is unique and intriguing, while the humor present is subtle yet rather clever, as well. There’s no precise schedule the founder operates under since it’s essentially a leisurely crafted journal. The primary focus is upon “Beartato” and “Reginald” (a bear and bird) in various sketches, comics, and what not. There are also various other characters and things present (such as robots and dinosaurs) in a subliminally engaging style.  Overall, it’s definitely worth browsing through to provide a decent amount of entertainment, if you happen to have some time to spare.

Mirror’s Edge

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , on December 1, 2008 by B33

“Parkour” is a particular subject not fully explored in the realm of gaming, although there have been a few “explorations” into the unfamiliar territory. The most recent title that comes to mind is Assassins Creed, which to the game’s credit, was rather fluid and intuitive, albeit a bit clunky and repetitive from time to time. Now, we have Mirror’s Edge which is attempting to further plunge into the free-running style of gameplay by placing the player in the shoes of “Faith,” a runner who “lives on the edge” of a city run by a fascist government (which is strangely never fully elaborated upon). The plot really isn’t anything noteworthy, as it often takes mediocre twists and turns with characters that are rather forgettable. In the end, it’s all about successfully getting from point A to point B in one piece and any amount of drivel poured out to you in the noticeably cheaply animated cinematics isn’t going to drive the point any further, especially due to the sporadic nature of the story, to begin with.

With the abysmal state of the plot, one would hope that the gameplay would at least fair well. Fortunately, Mirror’s Edge does boast solid gameplay mechanics, at its core. The free-running aspect of the controls are rather tight and intuitive and once the title gets going, it’s fun and provides a unique experience unlike anything I’ve ever played before. However, the flow of the title often comes to a halt due to the “trial and error” nature of the gameplay. In a game that declares itself as a “free roaming” first person platformer, you’d think the general direction and objective would be clear and the flow would continue at a constant speed. I often found myself ramping up speed and beginning to feel immersed in the experience until I ultimately died over and over again until I figured out the procedural and “correct” method to completing a puzzle. This is mainly due to the inconsistency of the “Runner’s Vision” feature which serves as the essential guideline throughout each level by highlighting various objects the player may traverse at a rather sloppy rate.

The primary concept to Mirror’s Edge is to provide the feeling of “freedom” and allow the player to freely traverse the environment utilizing any particular method or pathway. This might have been a bit ambitious on Dice’s part since the “freedom” aspect of the title is merely an illusion that gives way to fairly linear gameplay. The game encourages experimentation, albeit to discover the particular solution to each puzzle, which as I have mentioned before ultimately breaks the flow of gameplay and defeats the purpose of a game that claims to root itself in the realm of a supposed “free roaming” mechanic. Combat is often discouraged the developers purposely “optimized” the gameplay to reflect as much. Faith has a very small amount of health, her attacks are weak, and the overall state of the combat is sloppy and unrefined. This wouldn’t be an issue if the developers stuck to the concept of running rather than fighting, but you’ll find yourself placed in moments of the game that force you to take on opponents with the lackluster combat system that often leads to frustratingly cheap deaths. To further add fuel to the proverbial “fire,” playing a platform oriented title from the first person perspective also reduces the judgment of various jumps and often leads to obscured vision and “leap of faith” moments that deliver the frustrating impact of death over and over again.

The visual style to Mirror’s Edge is rather intriguing, as it chooses to rely on a lighter blend of colors rather than the typical bleak and “drained of color” type of visuals we’ve grown accustomed to in a fair share of games throughout this current generation of gaming. The character animations are rather fluid and run fine, albeit with little variety to the actual enemies you’ll encounter. The framerate runs at a solid speed and the lack of a cluttered HUD gives the player a better feel for the environment and sense of realism. One of my primary concerns with the title upon its unveiling was the possibility of motion sickness due to the nature of “free running” in the first person perspective. However, the developers clearly put a decent amount of thought and polish into the visuals, as I had no feelings of nausea or issues with the overall flow in which the game displays movement.

Mirror’s Edge is ultimately a title that attempts a rather ambitious leap, but ultimately falls short and fails to reach its goal due to the numerous design flaws present. The few positive aspects of the game aren’t enough to warrant a purchase and even a rental is questionable depending upon your tolerance and personal taste. Fortunately, the title is very short (even by today’s standards) and the nearly endless string of frustrating “trial and error” gameplay segments and half baked cinematics only needs to be endured for a few hours until it abruptly ends. While it’s refreshing to see a new IP in the sea of sequels and remakes that typically saturate the industry; the numerous flaws ultimately prevent this “experiment” from succeeding.

Pros: Ambitious concept, unique blend of visuals, and it’s quite fun when the flow of gameplay isn’t constantly broken.

Cons: Multiple collision problems in regards to the controls, combat is sloppy and unintuitive, the design of the title is inconsistent and schizophrenic in nature, the plot is poorly crafted and forgettable, and the characters are shallow and unlikeable.

Conclusion: An intriguing concept ultimately foiled by poor design decisions, numerous collisions issues, a terribly shallow campaign, and forgetful plotline. Does not warrant a purchase, much less a rental; pending upon your level of tolerance and personal taste.