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Decided it was about time that I finish a couple games I had been meaning to for so long.

Goldeneye (360)

I have something I have to admit: I was never really into the Nintendo 64 version of Goldeneye.  I thought the controls were stiff and just wasn't my type of game.  So I wasn't very excited about when this remake came out.  Fortunately though, after playing a rented copy and being impressed, I was gifted this for Christmas last year.  This game is pretty damn cinematic.  It really makes me wish they could put Daniel Craig in Brosnan's spot in everything Pierce has done in the franchise.  Might improve it.

The single player is well done and way more fun than I ever thought it would be.  Exploding environments and interactive, in-game cutscenes make for a more entertaining experience, which when it comes to an FPS, is a sorely needed quality.  It's relatively short, certainly less than ten hours, but that time is rather satisfying.  Anything longer would have just bogged it down.  I played the game more stealthy than I'm sure most do, but that just added to the enjoyment.  I'd often restart a mission if I gave myself away because it was just so satisfying stealthing my way around.  Not to say I didn't love slaying people with the Terry Crews shotgun.

The multiplayer is a blast, and while I miss the bots that were so much fun in Nightfire, it's nice to just do splitscreen.  Too bad no one is ever playing this online so it's impossible to play with anymore than who you can get locally.  I guess that's just the problem with online multiplayer in general, if the game doesn't catch on, it's multiplayer servers turn into a barren wasteland.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

That's right.  I finally completed it.  It took me fucking forever but I've finally beaten the main quest of this godforsaken game.  Seriously, how long is this damn thing?  Sure, I didn't do the main quest straight on (in fact I avoided it for over 50 hours) but eventually I found myself beginning the questline.  And yet I still finally finished the last of them at the 106 hour mark.  Ladies and Gentlemen, THAT is how you do a game.  If I can complete a majority of your game in any less than 30 hours then your game is not a game.  It is a demo.

Bethesda thankfully knows this rule and has carried it over throughout their games.  Oblivion was a fantastic video game whose main quest was beaten in about 30 hours, if that was all that was done.  That's a lot.  Compare it to so many other games now, it blows them out of the water.  Hopefully that'll change once next-gen arrives and that precious storage space can be shared evenly amongst content and graphics.

The game itself deserves to be on every game of the year list imaginable.  It destroyed the competition and brought forth something that revolutionized the industry.  Sure, the graphics for the 360 may not be stunning but look at this on a suped up PC.  It's impressive.  Damn impressive.  And given the games massive scale, the level of detail seen throughout the land is pretty astonishing.

Looking back at the game (which I started the day it came out last November), it's hard to even remember all I did.  I killed things.  A lot of things.  I'm talking a small nation.  Decimated with my blade.  I feel like my character will probably spend most of the epilogue on the couch of some shrink.  It's gotta pay some sort of toll on him right?  I know after so much bloodshed, most normal humans retreat into the fetal position, never wanting to move.  This guy though, this sick bastard, he just wants to quest on.  And you know what?

I shall quest on...


spoilers for Expendables 2

Here we go, another two reviews of previously unseen films.  The theme today is...I don't know what the theme is.  Umm...wait...how about...no, that wont do...Hmm.  Well, I really don't have any reason these two are grouped together other than the pure fact that I watched them both in the same span of time because outside of that, these two films have nothing in common.

Frankenweenie is Tim Burton at his absolute best.  He has absolute control over everything shown on screen, and due to the fact that it follows a preplanned out story (the classic tale of Frankenstein), it doesn't get bogged down by a senseless Burton-esque script.  No, this is him paying homage to both his past self, the original film that this was based on, and the story of Frankenstein as a whole.

I regret not being able to see this in theaters for the pure fact that, in a year filled with blockbusters, it would have been nice to see a film with some heart on the big screen.  It could just be that animated movies have a way certain way with me (you shut up, Lion King is a heart-wrenching tragedy) but there are so many moments in this film that hit an emotional peak, it proves the point that it can still be done in a Pixar world.

The Expendables 2 on the other hand is loads better than the first and that's all I'm really willing to say in terms of positive thoughts.  Seriously, this movie was terrible.  They added some random characters with no real rhyme or reason.  Hell, the inclusion of Liam Hemsworth character was literally to establish and give time to this one person, and then kill him off.  That's right, rather than just killing off one of the old characters, they take the time to establish someone then kill him off halfway through. Don't get me wrong, I certainly appreciate them killing off Liam.  I agree with that choice in all movies.  But here it just comes off as cheap and a way to get the girls to go (judging by the box-office receipts,  they didn't).

Of course, the Arnold bit role is great but it's shot so oddly.  Both he, Willis and Norris are treated the same way in any scene they are in: "hey look who it is, watch them do something badass then seemingly leave the picture."  Only no, they don't leave.  They pop up again and again.  Thus making the whole stylistic choice surrounding their scenes pointless.  Quit treating it like this is the first time we've seen Arnold, this is the third.  The audience isn't stupid, quit treating them that way.  Hell, with Norris' character the story even revolved around the fact that it was a one-off appearance then he's back in the end!  It makes no sense.

The best part is when they scream "I'M OUT!" referring to their ammo.  You know, screaming that way anyone within shouting distance can hear that they are out of things to shoot.  Kind of like those guys that are shooting AT them.  I think you may have just set yourself up for failure there, Mr. Statham.

Statham: "Dammit, they have some kind of telepath. Somehow they keep figuring out when I no longer have bullets!"
Stallone: "..."

Sure, there are some enjoyable set pieces and Van Damme makes for one awesome bad guy, but the good never can quite outshine the bad no matter what.  The dialogue is stale, with attempts at further developing these characters coming off as awful banter that a senile Stallone came up with in between workouts.

What I'm trying to say is avoid Expendables 2 no matter what.  You thought the original was fun albeit stupid?  So did I.  This movies just sucks.  Just go to youtube, look up all the extended cameos and save yourself some time.  Frankenweenie, on the other hand: seek it out.  It will be well worth your time, even if you're not a Burton fan.  He goes back to the basics and does so with splendid results.

The Essential X-Mas


Ah the standard Christmas movie.  A unique type of film where it's only appropriate for you to watch them in a designated month and a half period.  I usually jump at the chance once Thanksgiving is over to start on with the Christmas mayhem.  Some start in November in general.  Those sick bastards.  Either way, once late November comes around, I start getting antsy for a couple of the ole holiday classics.  Some are odd, others are pretty standard, but all have become yearly traditions for me.  And yeah, I have a lot on my list, but that's because I watch a lot of movies.  A lot.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

This past year, my general outlook on this film changed a lot.  I just wasn't into it this time.  I think I just wasn't in the right headspace but I just couldn't get into this one as much as years past.  Jim Carrey's overacting was obnoxious, not endearing.  And the mess that Taylor Momsen has become makes me view little miss Cindy Loo Who a little more harshly.  She's not as adorable as she once was.  The film overall just lost some of it's appeal.  I'll give it another shot before the season is over though, my nostalgia won't allow me do anything less.

The Santa Clause

Who would have thought that Tim Allen would be starring in a Christmas classic?  Sure, the sequels suck (I like the second but it still sucks) but there's no way that this film actually holds up to this day!?  Actually, it really holds up.  It has a lot of jokes (especially towards the beginning) that border on just plain adult in nature.  After the disappoint known as The Grinch, I was expecting this to fall into the same category.  Just didn't happen.  This is an enjoyable romp which I'm sure will continue with my yearly tradition.

A Christmas Story

If this isn't on your list then fuck you.  No, but seriously, what's the matter with you?  Classic in every sense of the word.  Unless you're English, there's no excuse (apparently it's not known in England is the point).  There's not a bad moment and being from the midwest, I've had many Christmas' that look just like this film.  Of course, that hasn't been the case in a couple years (what's the matter with you global warming?  It's the 18th.  Get your shit together.)  So go watch this movie.  Now.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

This is another no-brainer.  Chevy Chase in one of the very few roles that I can actually stand him in (people actually used to like this guy?)  It's pretty funny to see.  And with the current Old Navy commercial running (with everyone involved outside of Galecki who is too busy reinforcing the nerd stereotype) it's rather funny to go back and revisit this.  As much as the cast has changed, they still fit into the roles perfectly.  If only they recreated that pool scene...

Black X-Mas

That's right, not the original 1974 classic.  I'm talking about the craptacular 2007 remake.  Don't ask me why but I love this movie.  The color palette is visual porn, utilizing an aspect of Christmas movies that is taken for granted of in the horror genre: the lighting.  Even the girls aren't all that bad.  Sure, some aren't the most dimensional, but the same could be said for the original.  The kills are brutally awesome though and not once is there a feeling of safety.  That's essential for a horror film and this nails it.  It's not a perfect movie but it's a lot of fun.  If you're looking for an atmospheric 70's classic, stick with the original but if you want a colorful, ridiculous thrill ride, I can't recommend the remake enough.

Damn.  That was a lot of parentheses.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

No Spoilers

Let me start this off by saying this in no way needs to be separated into three different movies.  There's not enough story.  As someone who loves the book, I could see it being FAITHFULLY ADAPTED (aka, follow it pretty closely) and still end in two movies.  Yet they decided to add a shitload of extra stuff and we're left spending three different ticket fees.  Peter Jackson, you brilliant bastard.

I don't know why I expected anything less but the film is overlong.  And not in the Lord of the Rings kind of way either where stuff is so epic and so much is going on that it's all vital to the story.  No, I'm talking about several times in the theater going "Dear god, is this 'unexpected journey' gonna ever start or are they just going to talk about it and prepare for it?"  Several times my patience was tried with the very slow and uneven pacing.  Not to mention a lot of cameo's done in the vein of "Hey look, I was in the Lord of the Rings, remember me?"  It's called editing, this could have used it.

Don't get me wrong though, the film is fun on a bun.  Absolutely loved all the visuals throughout and the film is a top contender for the visual effects Oscar.  Hell, based on Gollum alone, the category should be a no-brainer.  Gollum is a real being.  I'm convinced.  They just hide him away and only bring him out for these movies.  He looks that good.

And Andy Serkis.  Dear god, that man brings new meaning to motion-capture acting.  One of these days he's finally gonna get recognized for his work (unfortunately it probably won't be here given the small screen time).  As for the other actors, they do great jobs, fitting into the roles perfectly.  Freeman has always been a great choice for Bilbo so I feel like he's being overlooked for the likes of Armitage but both are standouts amongst an impressive cast.

Yes, I had some problems with the film, but few films get away from me unscathed; I'm just a harsh critic.  The main criteria that this movie filled is the pure and simple fact that I had so much fun with it.  Too much CGI was clouded by what they did with it.  Could some of it had been done practically?  Sure but that's not what the film was going for.  It was going for fantastical and unbelievable, both of which were accomplished wholly.  I anxiously await The Desolation of Smaug for reasons very obvious: Smaug.  The character is one of my favorites and with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing, it's sure to be an instant classic.

SchwarzeNovember #5 (/end)

SchwarzeNovember #5

Welp, that was a failure.  While I did end up watching a lot of Arnold movies during the month of November, unforeseen events seemed to halt keeping the series up to date.  Both a mixture of school and mere difficulty in writing caused me to just end up scrapping it altogether.  At first I was going to just play catchup and mass-post a bunch of them but then I realized that, that's not really solving the problem at hand: it's fucking hard to write about a bunch of Arnold movies.

As much as I love them, Arnold movies are pretty much all the same.  He is Arnold Schwarzenegger and he's in an extreme situation whether it's killing aliens, attacking henchman, or stealing other people's presents from under their trees.  There isn't much in terms of range.  So the problem I ran into is really one of variety.  It was hard to write a review without it sounding the exact same every time. That's just the nature of Awwnold's movies and I can't really complain because I enjoy them so much but it was an obstacle which entirely derailed the project.

However, since I did still watch a lot of his movies this month, I figured I'd highlight a select few in short form rather than having an individual post for each.  Twins and Junior were two first time viewings for me and, while I'm grouping them together due to director Ivan Reitman and co-star Devito, they couldn't be at further ends of the spectrum.  Twins is hilarious, heartwarming and genuinely good.  Junior on the other hand is a tonal mess that never quite knows what it wants to be.  And worse, a movie about Arnold being pregnant, doesn't even live up to the joke of the concept alone.  I laughed once.  And that was just because Mr. S is the man.

Kindergarten Cop was a big surprise because even though I had seen it when I was younger I never was a huge fan.  But goddamn is this movie hilarious.  "It's not a TUMAH!"  The film owes a lot to it's young cast because without them, a lot of the jokes just aren't there.  These kids are funnier than kids in pretty much any other comedy.  They're natural and genuinely funny.  Nothing ever seems forced.  "Boys have a penis, girls have a va-gina."  Still, credit where credit is due:  without Arnold, you lose the backbone of the film as well as so many of the great classroom situations.

The biggest surprise of the month for me was the film Stay Hungry.  It's Arnold's first real film (I don't count Hercules in New York because it wasn't released till much later) and while he's hard to understand at times, his charisma is very evident.  Also, why didn't anyone tell me that Sally Field used to be a hottie?  She was always Forrest's mom to me so now it's like discovering a whole new person.  I don't want to get into specifics but there's a fight that felt more real than any action movie I've seen in recent years (outside of Bond and Bourne).  Seems as though most people haven't even heard of it but I URGE you to check it out.

Another problem I encountered with something I wanted to do with this series was a dissection of certain sections of his autobiography Total Recall.  However, that was back when I was still early on in the book and was relishing in the detail he was going into.  Unfortunately once his Hollywood years come up, the book becomes light and fluffy and little focus is on the films.  As someone who picked up the book mostly for his film career, this was disheartening especially given the level of detail he went into with bodybuilding, then later politics.  And while I like politics, it certainly put a halt to my reading as I quickly lost interest in the book once he starts his campaign for Governor.  This is at no fault to the author and more personal distaste for politics.

So there you have it, finally an explanation onto why I didn't continue the (now realized) overly ambitious blog series.  Lesson learned.  As for the future of this blog, I plan on updating it with whatever I want really.  Whether it's a movie, music, or even book review, I just plan on keeping the content up. Don't expect many month-long series' though.  Pidgeon-holing myself into just one category stifles a lot of creative thinking and general interest on my part.  So instead, expect randomness and all that jazz in order to keep with my goal of featuring plenty of content in the future.

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