Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Risk 2: It's all in the execution

We have all played board games in one fashion or another.  Whether it was Candyland, Monopoly or Chutes and Ladders our collective tastes always brought us into wanting to see what the next game will test us or impress us.  When I was a boy my favorite game was Risk.  Warring armies poised to establish dominance over the world.  Risk II is that same feeling of the roll of the dice and the chances to pit your strategic wit against an adversary or adversaries.  A downloadable game found on and a handful of other sites, this game simulates the world map, troops and weapons carried throughout your territories.
No longer do you have to imagine how the battle is waged as your men line up against the opposition and carry out your commands.  Following the original board game’s rules with trading cards for men and land this wonderful graphic and sound engages the game on a whole new level.  You can hear the horses trample through the mud and sand.  The roar of the cannons and the crack fire of the rifles as your dice fall; deciding the fate of the two battling hostiles.  The play can be against a series of computer opponents ranging from easy, medium and hard.  You may also play against your friends via taking turns on a single computer.  Similar actions like the game of Life.  Even better still would be the competition of both human and computer waging battle against both for the control of the board.

A demo version of this game can be found in just about any search engine and you may play it up to an hour and after that the cost is about 10 dollars roughly.   A bargain really when you consider we live in a world that most computer games run anywhere from twenty to about seventy-five dollars.    So if you are the type to love a good strategy game and you got sick of replaying Civilization II for the twentieth time in a row I would highly recommend this game to anyone that loves a good challenge and like spanking their friends board game wise.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Burn Notice Season 2: Electric Boogaloo

Well folks you know how when a show is created and feel nothing will come as close to the same level of writing the first season offered you?  The same jam packed action or suspense clearly cannot be topped.  Pin your ears back, open your eyes and prepared to be wowed.  This is Burn Notice Season 2.

This message will contain spoilers and self-destruct if you dislike it.

Well we last left Michael Weston (Jeffery Donovan of Burn Notice, Hitch, Another World and Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2) he was getting his buddy, former SEAL and likable alcoholic Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell of The Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and Spider-Man) and former IRA girlfriend Fiona Glennanne (Gabrielle Anwar of For Love or Money, Body Snatchers, Scent of a Woman and Three Musketeers) out of a tight spot with some heroin dealers, then he was loaded up to meet his mystery date/keeper of his leash regarding his burn notice.   Hours pass and Michael is aching for some action when his mild dozing is interrupted with explosions, assault rifle fire and a bit of odd screaming.  His cell phone goes off and man his reception is amazing in my opinion; a female voice informs Michael her name is Carla and she wants to know if he is up for a few errands
From this rather impressive build-up it really sets the tone for the season.   Fiona and Sam are slowly and against their collective will start to like one another.   The insanity and repercussions of last season is taking a toll on Michael’s family as well and Michael has that series of issues to contend with.
From layman’s eye this show takes another leap into very technical camera maneuvering, high speed car chases, mixed martial art hand to hand and more gun fights than a Segal movie.  Creator Matt Nix sets the bar and tries to push this show to the letter Director of Photography William Wage ( Love Potion No. 9, Purgatory, Down in the Delta and Surface) combines crane shots, on-board cameras ,dolly tracks and just about anything needed to get the shot.  Hell I am just shocked to not find cameras mounted on the actors for some bizarre POV shot.  Familiar faces ranging from science fiction, comedy and drama emerge this season and you will be stunned when you see them.   If you made it through Season 1 and were blown away by this series with complex characters leading complicated lives and odds are against them, you will thoroughly enjoy season 2 , but don’t tell anyone were you got this information or we are all in the soup.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blood Wars: A High School Production

Blood Wars
Well I am back and with yet another vampire movie with Jason Connery, son of Sir Sean Connery.  I bet if they crank out a third vampire film with this yahoo we can create our own subgenre in vampire films.  Connery Fangs!!!   Well this brilliant piece of tripe is called The Thirst: Blood War a.k.a. The Thirst a.k.a. Blood Wars.   Hey distribution!  Pick a title and stick with it!    OooOoO POV shots on a scale model and into our feature.  Can’t tell if it is that or CGI.   Handheld HD DVD mini-cam strikes again.  Brotherhood of Blood flashback!   Good God does no one shoot on 35MM anymore?  Hell even 35MM HD would be fine as well but I guess it wasn’t in the budget.   Next complaint is under cranking the footage so it flies around like a crazed vampire bat of yesteryear and killing epileptics left and right.  Great dizzy and annoyed I start this flick off on the wrong foot.
Our film revolves around a hippy college student named Will (A.J. Draven of Spec Ops) who simply bumbles with the female student body because he is a doofus. His roommate/buddy Rico not so Suave (Owiso Odera of Dirt and Three Rivers) proceed to chat up a couple of girls Jayne and Ashley (Allison Lange of Gacy and Christina’s House and Rini Bell of Gilmore Girls and Bring It On)  all the while illuming to the lost of several collegiate members over the past few days.   I mean it’s not even mid terms so the atypical fleeing and suicides shouldn’t be happening just yet.

  The coven meeting between the witches and vampires is amusing for the fact that Tony Todd (Hatchet and Hatchet 2) is miked but his lackey Claudius (Jason Connery of Brotherhood of Blood) isn’t and he sounds like he is projecting for a high school play.  He struts and rants a few moments before he is put in his place by Todd then he just plops down amongst three or four undead hunnies.  Hmm maybe he is a chip off the old block after all.  Get this man some roles of caliber dammit.     Apparently there exists in this universe a type of Warlock.  No not Julian Sands.  A warlock called a sentry and they can defeat vampires.   A slight distraction from this episodic masterpiece is two rednecks with beer and a shotgun.  Shenanigans away!   C.Thomas Howell (Kindred, Outsiders and the Hitcher) and Mark Holton (Leprechaun and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure) are two Billy Bob’s short of a KKK rally head into the woods looking to shoot a cougar only to get snacked on by a couple of rookie vamps.  ENTER THE SENTRIES!!!  Our “Warlocks” slay the vampires in their stylish gunny sack robes.   First off let’s just take a look at the word Warlock.  Last I recall they are practitioners of black magic. Perhaps sorcerer would have worked or say wizard.  Apparently the Sentries and Vampires have a long standing rivalry so yeah no real heroes in this.  We have more back story about how the Sentries and Vampires have been going at it I felt like I was attending a history lecture.  Who can say offhand?   Our writer may have just done a handful of horse tranquilizers and slaved away at the keyboard.   Oh sorry I forgot.  Our creative muse inspired bringer of pain is Ramesh Thandani.  This was his first script followed by Operation Midnight Climax.   With this insight you can see what a treat you are in for.    Back to our wacky sophomores Rico and Will are playing what looks like Left4Dead 2 and Rico fades out after his victory dance.   Will stumbles through his explanation that he is cool with Jayne and likes her boobies.  Okay maybe not that bad but my God this boy needs some lessons in dealing with the opposite sex.   The two are back at his dorm for some action but low and behold a fade so no sex scene for you kids.    So our wacky young lad encounters some weird eroticism vampire dreamscape after he is bitten.  

Let’s give you all, the abridged version.   Ahem.   The fight scenes could have benefited from a stunt coordinator.   I mean it looks like a pre-teen schoolyard squabble in most.   Tony Todd has a very commanding performance that is simply wasted on this film.  Jason Connery was excellent as the impatient vampire to ascend to the throne if you will.  America Olivo, who I felt was seductive but the performance seemed hasty and her lines felt forced.   A.J. Draven and let us spare his feelings appeared to be out of his depth in playing a complex character such as a newly turned vampire struggling to keep his humanity and not give into the dark pleasures of the night.   Hell Denzel Washington would have had some issues with that and that cat is dynamite on the screen.  Also would have been a trifle bit difficult to envision Denzel Washington as a college student now.   Bottom line is this film tried to push where their time constraints and lack of budget and frankly just did not cut the mustard.   You have a potentially decent flick if more time was taken with it.  Maybe with new edits or re-shoots with A.J. and tell him to emote dammit.    Suffice to say this vampire film sucked after many fashions.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Black & White: Good or Evil?

Now normally when I give a review about a game I am weighing the pros and cons of it but with Black & White it is damn near impossible to bad mouth it. Lionhead Studios released Black & White in 2001.  Published by Electronic Arts for both Windows and Mac, this game got instant raves allowing you to be either a savior or a devil. Due to its popularity, a expansion came out, followed by its sequel Black & White2.   The tutorial (unfortunately you cannot skip through that) starts as soon as you are brought into this world as a new deity. No sooner do you rescue a child from ravenous sharks; the villagers wish to worship and praise your name. You are then greeted by your collective conscience of evil and good or black and white if you will. Both will offer advice to situations as each new problem or crisis is put before you. Each task can be handled with benevolence or malice. The choice is yours. I feel you cannot properly understand a game until you have explored all the angles and opportunities that both good and evil provide so without further adieu here are the highlights to good.

Good: You are the toast of the town and the answer to all prayers. As a good deity you will find worshippers come quickly to prayer. As this is your flock you must watch and tend to them. Assign them work and life. Creating disciples is a snap. The options are builder, breeder, farmer, fisherman or woodsman. Your disciples will continue this line of work that you saw them fit to do until the day they die. This includes breeders, so if you do not want a population increase to epic level, be a bit choosy as to how many breeders you possess, because they are like rabbits.

Part of being a loving god is to take all the problems in your stride and assist them as best as you can. Aiding you in these endeavors will be a pet you can nurture with love and understanding. Providing compassion to this creature is not only kind but a must in the game. Teach it to respect the people and land to create a better harmony for all. With each problem correctly taken care of, a reward is assured and happier worshippers are bountiful. Bear in mind that you will not make them happy 100% of the time. You can only do the tasks, provide miracles to astound and bewilder them and in general and guard them from harm from evil deities. While some might view this as a thankless task, yours is a higher calling to the children you wish to strive in your land.

Evil: Corrupter of youth and destroyer of men, yours is a task behold to the pathetic mortals that dare ask for favors. Constantly underfoot and demanding, these mortals attempt to take up your precious time with requests of benevolence of which you have none. You strive to obtain powers and wreak havoc across the land leaving these frightened simpletons cowering in their little, hopeless lives awaiting to be the next sacrifice to your awesome might. When one of their neighbors goes to the altar for blood sacrifice, they should be down on their knees praising you for not ending them.

Fear is an excellent motivator and provides more worship in your name. Their children will learn to abide by your rules or be fed to the fiendish creature you command with a ruthless iron fist. You will revel in delight as your creature hurls lightning and fireballs from sheer boredom or just in general malice. Cackle from high above at the wanton destruction in your name. Oh it is good to be the god.

The story is in your hands. Do what you will and enjoy.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Call me Snake..

In the far away timeline of 1997(huh?), crime has risen nearly 400% so prior to that in 1988 New York City has been converted into the world’s maximum security end all prison.  Those that have been convicted of high treasonous crimes are deported to New York and given no chance of parole.  New York is surrounded by a 50-foot high wall of concrete and razor wire, the bridges are mind and waterways are patrolled by regular routine helicopter fly bys.   The United States Police forces are camped around it like an army.  China, The Soviet Union (Communism is the wave of the future!) and America are in negotiations when Air Force One is hijacked by a terrorist liberation front called the National Liberation Front causing the President to use an escape pod and landing in the prison.  A rescue attempt must be made. 

Lotta spoilers in the Hudson.

Hiyas folks today we review the 1981 despotic future storyline Escape from New York.   Brought to us by legendary director/editor/composer John Carpenter (Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, The Fog, Remake of the Village of the Damned and Vampires) and writer/director Nick Castle (Major Payne, The Last Starfighter and Taps)   America has become a police state enforcing law with extreme prejudice and vital information needed for the summit, Police Commissioner Robert Hauk (Lee Van Cleef of The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Gunsmoke and Have Gun Will Travel) must recruit former special forces solider “Snake” Plissken (Kurt Russel of The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, Escape from L.A.) to infiltrate the prison, get back the President (Donald Pleasance of You Only Live Twice, Halloween 1,2,4,5,6) and off the island in 24 hours.  A full pardon is offered for this blatant suicide mission and Snake is tagged with a dissolving explosive in his system to keep him in check.    Snake uses a glider to land on the Sears Tower in order to take off at a later date.   Getting to ground; Snake runs into a cornucopia of criminal elements of all types, ranging from cannibals, small time offenders to mass murderers.  Now added by temporary alliances the clock is running out for the President and Plissken must reluctantly save the day.

At this point I would love to point out what it is about this movie that makes it so enjoyable.  Cost effective effects for the glider’s radar was done with a scale model of Manhattan Island with a series of reflective tape to look like a mapping process.  With a 6 million budget in 1981 managed matt based shots, aerial helicopter shots of which was used with the St. Louis National Guard as Blackhawk police copters and furthermore due to the fire in 1973 for two days; this area’s safety was blocks devastation that according to Carpenter it spoke volumes to him and was the ideal set for his steady cams via dolly track.  His minimum lighting techniques always give his films a more eerie feel in the same fashion Hitchcock had.  His love of anamorphic camera lens gives his sets more scope and depth to the film. 
If you enjoy this particular genre of possible futures, Do NOT skip this film.  With memorable lines, excellent character development, this is an overall great experience to be had.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Insatiable? We’ll see.

The Insatiable

SPOILERS…Eh you know the drill.

Man o man I seem to be on a vampire kick this month.  This time I have a flick with some budget and meat on the bones.  No more time to waste, let’s delve into The Insatiable.   Writers/directors Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman (TNT and Earth Vs. the Spider) bring us this modern day macabre L.A. story of an everyday guy (Sean Patrick Flannery of The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, The Boondock Saints 1 and 2) who works selling flange pipes and is the super for his building .  His local stop at a convenience store and he offers to get a homeless guy; Sammy (Jimmy Gonzales of Four Christmases and Beewax) something to eat.  The convenience store clerk Ronnie (Brad Rowe of Shelter and National Treasure: Book of Secrets ) is swarmy to a couple of preppy kids buying porno mags with the typical hiding purchases.  Harry and Ronnie chatter for a bit and Harry is on his way out to feed the unfortunate fellow on the street.  He then encounters a gorgeous vivacious redheaded vampire (Charlotte Ayanna of Training Day and The Thirst) feeding that very same homeless man.  Startled as he is, his vampire rends Sammy’s head off and leaps 30 feet straight up and through a window without breaking stride.  Harry hyperventilates, passes out but manages to call the cops afterwards.

 Naturally the lead detective treats him like he is jotting down a drunk’s UFO sighting.  Harry slighted by this reaction and terrified of what he saw, of course he goes to work the next day to get crap from his co-workers; Javier (Jon Huertas of Castle and NCIS) and Chet (Josh Hopkins of Swingtown and Private Practice) about the vampiress.   Follow-up questions with lead detective Michael Roper (Boyd Kestner of The General’s Daughter and Hannibal) seems tedious and awkward.  Harry is shown crime scene photos and he is sickened by it. Detective Roper classifies Harry as a nut that saw what he couldn’t possibly have seen, and tells him to take a hike.   Meeting up with Ronnie at the convenience store, Harry notices a neck wound on Ronnie and points out how wiped he appears.  Ronnie tells Harry how his new girlfriend is just running him ragged from sex.  Hmm sounds better than watching this movie any day but I digress. 
 Obsessed with the vampire; Harry surfs the web trying to get a handle on female vampires.  God only knows how many porn sites came up he had to delete out of and discovers they originate from the demon succubus; in that they feed on a man’s life force in the act of sex and slowly drain them of will and strength.  Harry tries to sleep only having a ridiculous bedtime montage of the past events to he heads over to Ronnie’s place to look in on him.  To his shock and horror Ronnie to has met his fate by the vampiress.   The cops are uninterested in what he has to say, so Harry takes it upon himself to deal out justice Peter Cushing style…..okay he actually contacts a web operator that has a few vampire pages.   Harry deals with a backed up garbage disposal of his neighbor Cindi. (Amanda Noret of Veronica Mars and Bunny Whipped)   Just pointing out that she is drooling over Young Indy here and he is too damn bashful to do anything about it.  Smack upside head!

Destiny or a clogged toilet lends a hand and Harry meets a man that is more than just a resident.  Stuck in a wheelchair but wields a decent sawed off boomstick is Strickland (Michael Biehn of Terminator, Aliens and The Rock) who explains to Harry the heightened senses of a vampire.  If they get your scent they can track you anywhere and given his last scene with her I am sure she got pheromones and urine.   Strickland cross-references the known attacks over the last two months and narrows down a grid pattern that is her hunting grounds.  Yes once again we have technology, geography and obsession to hunt and kill vampires.  A trifle cliché but it is Michael Biehn so I excuse him.   Harry hits a hardware store for some tools of the trade.  Pry bar for boarded up doors.  Wire cutters for chain link fences and a decent sized sledgehammer and railroad spikes for staking.  Guess the old lop the head off and everything is gravy concept is key here.   Trailing her to the lair, the vamp wakes only to plead for her life and doofus Balbo lets her live.   Strickland reams him over the phone and Harry devises a plan to deal with her his way.   Using his contacts at work and a handy welding manual; Harry creates the very first Vampire cage.  The same steel used for bank vaults and is damn certain she cannot get out of there.  Excellent time for a spear through the chest but now she is locked away he hasn’t a fricking clue what to do next.  JACKASS!   Stake her, lop the head off and chuck the body to the sun after soaking both head and body in holy water.   Well that was just my opinion. 

 Begging Harry to be free; Tatiana tells him she needs blood every night or she will waste away horribly.  Not wanting a life on his hands, Harry offers her rabbits and other such creatures like a take-out order, but eventually that is not enough for her appetite.  He starts developing a rapport with Tatiana and she can sense he is a lonely sad man who has never really known love.     Too tempted by our vampiress the lines of morality get crossed and Harry starts feeding Tatiana people including jackass co-worker Javier.  Eh can’t say I blame Harry on that one.  Hell I would have fed that guy to a wood chipper let alone a vampire.   The cops find Harry’s prints on discarded bags of trash containing victims and Harry gives himself to Tatiana.     The moral of the story is to kill the pretty thing before it gets in your head.