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Transformers Afterthoughts

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After being late to the Transformers movie, I'll share my thoughts on Out of all the summer movies, this was the one I was most looking forward to. For longtime Transformers fans, there are plenty of references to the original series.

What makes transformers so refreshing is that it keeps itself fun and simple, when most other blockbusters these days go on a plot overload which keeps the audience stuggling to keep up. The plot is paper-thin, but it works here. An average high school student Sam Witwicky and his love interest Mikaela get caught up in the war between the autobots and the decepticons.

The Autobots are characterized very well. Each Autobot is given their own personality and traits with Optimus Prime being the noble leader, Ironhide being the commando rolling weapons nut, Ratchet being the cautious medic, Jazz being the wise cracking comic relief and Bumblebee, while not being able to talk shows a lot of humanity.

But the plot and characterizations are not what most of you are going to see this movie for, which is the giant robots knocking seven bells out of each other and in that respect the film does not disappoint. The transformers themselves look amazing (regardless of what you may think of the new designs) and have many various moving parts and seamlessly blend in with the rest of the movie. We have to hand it to Michael Bay. Really, his effects team is outstanding and Transformers has hands-down some of the most convincing GC effects we've seen. You will believe a robot can fly.

Sequences involving big things beating the stuffing out of each other is nothing new to cinema - but up to this point, there hasn't been another film that has convincingly nailed robot physics. We're talking about mammoth, supremely heavy objects here, and ILM inject tremendous physical presence into the Transformers. Regardless of your opinion on Optimus' flame decals, we think you'll be so floored by watching him carefully lift Shia up on his hands, or watching as his roadtrain cab transforms as he tears down the highway, that you'll let trivial fan-details slide.

There's just something in watching cars get flipped and rolled like dominos at the hands of a Decepticon that few other action sequences can ever really come close to matching.

Also impressive is Bay's insistence to include genuine stunts and set-pieces, rather than falling back, George Lucas-**** on entirely CG explosions, humans and environments. One scene, involving a bus that gets sheared in half before exploding in a shower of debris, demonstrates Transformers at its best - some of the most visceral and satisfying action we've seen in a long time. I'll also like to point out that (in my opinion) the humor great here, I was laughing so hard during the movie. This is definitely Michael Bay's finest movie yet and my favorite movie of all time.

One Fanboy's E3 Journey Part 2

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One Fanboy's E3 Journey Part 2

E3: First Impressions.

Nintendo press conference.

10:25 AM: Phew, after seeing Halo 3 during Microsoft press conference, I'm excited!

10:26 AM: Jeebus, I have to wait 34 minutes till Nintendo's conference...Killzone 2 trailer!?! Oh, I'm all on that.

11:00 AM: Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime took the stage, starting off with:

"My name is Reggie, and I am happy," says Reggie. "To us, today is more than a press conference and a business meeting. We see today as a celebration. And by that, I don't mean just a celebration for Nintendo, but for all of us. Because we think this E3 marks a turning point..."

He noted that Nintendo's sales figures have reached "unprecedented" levels, particularly with consumers over the age of 25 -- and claimed that women comprise one-third of the Wii's total audience of Wiimote-wranglers.

Fils-Aime unveiled the next big Wii peripheral: the Wii Zapper which acts as a light gun-like housing for the Wiimote and the nunchuck attachment. Fils-Aime went on to describe how this peripheral could change the "dynamic" of first-person shooters, such as the upcoming Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, Medal of Honor, and Ghost Squad -- all of which make copious use of the Zapper.

Moving on, Fils-Aime discussed upcoming third-party titles like Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, Soul Calibur Legends, and Dragon Quest Swords, before moving on to the first-party games that everyone was waiting to hear about: Super Smash Bros. Brawl (releasing December 3), The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. The latter is notable for its "lock-on free aiming," which allows players to lock onto an enemy while aiming anywhere on the screen. Best FPS controls ever? That's what Nintendo claims.

Fils-Aime also touched on Nintendo's online aspirations.

Fils-Aime announces Mario Kart Wii with online play.

Shigeru Miyamoto introduces WiiFit--which utilizes a new wireless pressure-sensitive sensor pad peripheral, called the Wii Balance Board (anyone getting Power Pad flashbacks?), to lead players in over 40 exercise minigames.

The show concluded the way it began, with Reggie on stage explaining how Nintendo is and will be leading the way the industry moves. Nintendo seeks to make video games relevant to everyone, but the question remains if their new line up will be the way that further breaches the gap.

I have to admit, as an avid Nintendo fan I was disappointed by the conference. No huge announcements outside of Mario Kart Wii and WiiFit. Everything else border lined in the "seen it, loved it" with the delays from Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Metroid Prime 3 Corruption we've been seeing for the past year or two.

One Fanboy's E3 Journey Part 1

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E3: First Impressions.

Microsoft press conference.

8:48 AM: I'm up (and earlier than usual for a Wednesday).

9:03 AM: I start off by logging onto Gamespot.com viewing the E3 Live Schedule. Bah!. I eye that it is scheduled in Pacific Time. The event begins at 9 AM! I have to wait around for two hours for Nintendo's press conference. I choose to dally and click on the Microsoft press conference.

The presentation opened with a violin/rock arrangement of the Halo theme -- a nice little medley of the music we all know and love performed by an Illinois quintet called Corporeal. Following that, Microsoft VP Peter Moore took the stage. His opening speech stated that every game Microsoft is showing at E3 will be out this year. After that, Moore started up a jam session in Rock Band with a Harmonix employee.

Moore then announced a semi-sequel to Viva Pinata, titled Party Animals. More of a party game than a gardening sim, the game suggested that Microsoft still hasn't given up on trying to attract the younger set (and their parents). And yet, right after that was a debut of a new trailer for Mass Effect.

VP of Global Marketing Jeff Bell took the stage and announced an Xbox 360 version of the DVD board game Scene It? The first and only console game version of the game, Scene It? on 360 will come with a custom controller that resembles a stumpy wand with a large button at the top and four smaller ones below it. The controller-plus-game package will retail for $59.99.

Bell also took time to trumpet Microsoft's sports catalog, making very sure to mention that the EA sports games will run "twice as smooth" as last year's editions

Talk then turned to Xbox Live. Microsoft is now beyond the 7 million-member mark on their online service, and project that turning into 10 million by this time next year.

Microsoft Game Studios VP Shane Kim then took the stage, and took time to publicly introduce PGR4, along with a demo by developers Bizarre Creations. Kim went on to present more big games coming from MGS, including Lost Odyssey from Mistwalker, which also had a new trailer with English voice work.

PC version of Gears of War

On-stage demo of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare by Activision.

Moore then brought up two very big games coming soon to 360: Grand Theft Auto IV and Resident Evil 5. Starting with GTA, Moore strongly indicated that the game's episodic content would only be available on Xbox, starting with two episodes by next spring. Then, the audience was shown a brand-new trailer for Capcom's Resident Evil 5, with not too much new stuff actually shown compared to previous peeks, but still a captivating look. The release? 2008.

Assassin's Creed

More Halo stuff.

And then, finally, what everyone came to see: a new trailer of Halo 3's single-player campaign, full of drama, and suspense.

I can't wait for Nintendo and Sony's press conference. Now it's Nintendo's turn in the spotlight.

Movie Review: Ultraviolet Extended Cut

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Wimmer is the creator of 2002's Equlibrium, a film most decidedly not of this emerging tradition, which received terrible promotion and only modest critical acclaim - perhaps because of the looming shadow of The Matrix, with which it shares more than a few conceptual and qualitative similarities. Ultraviolet seems destined to follow in its predecessor's path.

Ultraviolet stars Milla Jovovich as Violet, a hemophage - defined as a human with a genetic mutation, but described more simply as a "vampire" - who vows to take revenge on the normal, un-mutated folk who hunt her and those like her. When she kidnaps a child named Six (played by Cameron Bright) whose body literally holds the key to the future of the human race, she finds herself at odds both with her human oppressors and her own kind; left with no option but to strike out on her own, she tracks down her adversaries and attempts to restore the balance of power between man and hemophage once and for all.

Mind you, all of this plot detail was from some 30 to 45 seconds of actual information, so any inaccuracies must be chalked up to the film's, but for a movie with no real story, Ultraviolet is surprisingly heavy on exposition, which suggests that at some point there were real kernels of character and story beneath its day-glo veneer and breakneck action sequences.

In both this and Equilibrium, Wimmer suffers almost from a surplus of ideas - too much for just one movie, at any rate.

The action scenes, meanwhile, are the sort of sequences that have appeared in Hong Kong movies for years - stunts which defy logic, much less the laws of physics - and yet they're all approached with a comic book mentality, which elevates them beyond criticisms of plausibility; after all, when a motorcycle races across the broad side of an 18-wheeler and then zips up a building, narrowly avoiding the rotor blades of a pursuing helicopter, you either have to get on board the thrill ride or get the hell out. But they're also the only real reason to watch this film, because they're precisely what "non sequitur cinema" is all about: the adrenaline rush gained from watching one impossible feat after the next, all of which are accomplished with breathless derring-do if not quite a tangible connection to what we non-hemophages call "reality."

So I'm not suggesting that Ultraviolet is a truly accomplished work, or even the herald of a burgeoning subgenre of innovative or remotely original action movies; there are plenty of "thrill rides" more fun, exciting, and intelligent than Wimmer's sophomore directorial effort. But if you have no problem with an experience that feels like an adrenaline shot administered directly to your brain, then this is the place to start. And even if the thought of multi-colored hair, Dennis Rodman and hyperactive motorcycles makes you cringe, at least take solace in the fact that this go 'round, the filmmakers had enough sense to make their purple-haired hero a hot chick instead of Ice Cube or Jean-Claude Van Damme.

The primary "added value" material on the Extended Cut is the extra footage; unfortunately, there is relatively little difference between the two editions - so little, in fact, that I couldn't really tell what was added. The opening, oh, 80 minutes or so of exposition seem to have a few extra shots, most of which chronicle Violet's failed pregnancy (though, thankfully, this is covered several times over via dialogue and various additional flashbacks). Additional action/gore - you would think there would be more blood, but even in the all-white scenes, there's no extra CGI-enhanced blood - which ultimately makes it a toss-up whether it was even worth it for Sony to produce two different cuts.

NES Bliss

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My oldest brother came down for a visit yesterday from Dodge City and to my surprise he hands me a stereo system box. As I peer inside I saw an old, dusty, NES with the NES Advantage controller!

Your probably wondering what games I own for the NES, well to start off I have Super Mario Bros. 3 and the medorice, Rad Racer.

So, *rolls up sleeves* Let the games begin!

Mr. Uwe Boll, A Gameplayer?

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Say the name "Uwe Boll" in a room of movie critics and you're likely to set off a range of responses, most of them negative. His slate of films, which are largely based on videogames, have been commercially successful but critically savaged. The Internet community has latched onto the name "Uwe Boll" and equated it with everything that is wrong with cinema, even though many people have not seen the movies they are trashing.

Uwe Boll is already getting set to decide on his next project. He currently holds the rights for Far Cry, Hunter: The Reckoning, Fear Effect and it's possible that one of those could be his next project. Boll is also a big fan of the Hitman games and, if he can secure the rights and the right star to play the lead, he says he may consider that for his next project.

Uwe Boll is very passionate about videogames. An avid gamer himself, Boll would like to see videogames get the kind of large-scale attention and budgets that comic movies have had in recent years. Boll's first major American film, House of the Dead, was a zombie film based on the mega-popular series of first person shooter arcade games. Boll sees the videogame stories as great jump-off points for Hollywood adaptations, and he has no less than five videogame-based projects in various stages of production.

He also hopes to eventually obtain the rights for a Hitman film. Boll has already completed Alone in the Dark, starring Christian Slater, Tara Reid and Stephen Dorff. His last project, BloodRayne, is based on the popular console game of the same title. Boll has assembled a very impressive cast, featuring Kristanna Loken as BloodRayne and a supporting cast that includes Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez, Billy Zane and even Meatloaf. Yes, Meatloaf! Boll hopes for studios to start taking videogame projects more seriously and his future projects, all based on videogames, which include Far Cry, Hunter's Reckoning, Fear Effect and the aforementioned Hitman.

"We're doing Dungeon Siege. We do this first because we have the best script, the most convincing story. We are doing that in Vancouver this summer. We aren't going for the biggest property, we are going for the one that makes the best movie. I met Mike Kinney here from White Wolf yesterday, he knows that we are doing Hunter the next year and he's excited about this, but the script needs more work. Today I met Paul Baldwin from Eidos and Fear Effect, they are really eager to do something with Fear Effect. They are developing the third part of the game together with the movie. Far Cry, we have a script also that gets rewritten now from a guy who did various movies like Art of War, he's doing the rewrite. So we move on with a lot of development. Dungeon Siege was written by David Freeman and Glen Banist. It's a very exciting thing. I think it will be a very good movie."

"I just got the first draft of the script. I'm really happy with the script, and Hunter: The Reckoning, we also have a very good script. Now it's like a battle, what movie we do next? We don't know. For Far Cry, you definitely need a big lead. We know that The Rock has interest in doing it. It could be that we go for Bruce Willis or Kurt Russell to play the lead in Far Cry, and if we get one of the three big actors, then it's a good idea to do Far Cry next, because you definitely need a big actor for this movie. Hunter: The Reckoning is more an ensemble cast, so you have a little more like BloodRayne, where you have four or five good name actors in it and a little more flexibility, so I don't know now. I'm sitting down now in the editing room from tomorrow on, and in doing that we develop the project and see who's interested in acting in the movie and we see then what movie we finally want to do. I'm working on getting Hitman, because this is my favorite game that I play. I think it's a perfect idea for a movie. I want to do Fear Effect also, we have a first rough script, but it's definitely not my next movie. But Hitman would be my favorite if I could get that."

Uwe Boll Interview excerpt.

"So you are learning from your mistakes and applying that knowledge to the next film?"

Boll: "That's the reason I always check out the reviews and what the people say and I am open for all kinds of discussions. It's not like, that I give a s*** what the fans say, but it's tough. A lot of people who are trashing me, they don't know that it's absolutely not easy to get videogame-based movies made and distributed. That it's not as easy as the people thing. The response should be more positive because of this. It's not like there's a long row of people that want to do these kinds of movies. The studios don't give a s***."

Does Uwe Boll actually play the games he's charged with turning into a film? Is he a good gameplayer? It doesn't help that his ideas of what makes a great film are so outlandish and off-base that it's a wonder he's able to continue making movies. It's bad enough he shows very little acceptance to learn from his mistakes. Though Uwe Boll is far from incapable of creating unique and entertaining movies, perhaps these latest remarks of his can be used as a premise for one of his upcoming movies.

Mehh..

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Well, where to start off..

I never really liked writing blogs, but meh...i'll give it a go

With bargain bin prices of last-generation games, there's no better time than to pick up a few hidden gems and expand your game collection. I've taken some trips down to Gamestop, increasing XBox library.

I'm happy that I purchased Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath and Gunvalkyrie, definitely some underrated games that must be in your collection.