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7 May 2006

Mission Impossible III (2006)

MI:3 could have easily been the best of the three movies. Unfortunately, that simply was not the case.

Despite the best efforts of the rather inept employees of the local theater (they sold me a ticket to Silent Hill, where I happened to see a preview for MI:3 clueing me in that I was in the wrong theater) I did end up seeing Mission Impossible III. I suppose that I ultimately got what I expected, just not in the way I expected.

Initially, I liked the opening sequence of the film, it was far less pretentious than in the second one. This did not last long, as the film unfortunately did one of those “the movie begins at the ending” bullshit things that I despise. In all seriousness flashbacks should be outlawed, they have no place in civilized society. Anyhow, the flashback went way back, and the film had more of a lame style of beginning like I initially expected. But, it did get better.

After slowly getting over the fact that this was all a flashback, a lot of the action was compelling, if not entirely over the top. MI movies always do have the most interesting physics. Unfortunately, even the things that were not given away in the opening were rather predictable. What made it even worse was a guy seated near me sighed after every obvious plot point, thus hitting the predictability home.

Generally speaking, I was starting to get into the movie, and was ready to write a positive response to it. Then, it happened. The “hinge” as I call them. These are points I think writers/directors intentionally put in films to piss off cogent viewers. Essentially, they are events where if the protagonist did something different he could have avoided the entire rest of the story. Mission Impossible II used the tired, cliche hinge where if the Cruise would have just shot the girl he could have ended the threat and the second half of the film would be entirely unnecessary. Ultimately, this was an act of passion rather than logic, I loath hinges like that. MI:3 went the other way.

In MI:3, the major hinge was when Cruise could have ended the threat by cutting the last restraint of the obvious villain sending him to his death out of an airplane. Ironically, this hinge was based on logic ruling over passion something that is out character for Cruise’s character. At least for this reason I was somewhat able let it go, at least more so than in the second film. Also, the sting is reduced by the fact that things were slightly more complicated as you find out in the end as one of the agents within IMF is dirty, and working with enemy.

The second hinge is a “chance meeting” where after the villain escapes, he captures Cruise’s wife. While he is frantically searching for her, he closes paths with her, although she is knocked out and under a sheet. Obviously, this would have been harder for him to address, but it was still annoying. Also, if he would have just caught this, the entire rest of the film probably could have been avoided.

That reminds me, what the hell ever happened to the chick that he risked his life for in the second movie? Did she just cut and run or something? The whole emotional aspect of Cruise’s character are kind of pathetic. He should learn to “use and lose” his women like a respectable secret agent.

Despite these glaring offensives, the film still was not horrible, I would call it a rather typical hollywood affair. I do not plan on ever seeing it again, but I would not thwart anyone else’s attempt to see it. Although, I suppose it could be said that I was trying to thwart people with the spoilers in my post. But, to people that don’t like spoilers: tough. :razz:

At this point, my recommendation is: see it.

17 April 2006

A Link to the Past

The very status of my favorite Zelda game is called into question.

As everyone should know, since they read my previous post about this, I am going through and beating all the Zelda games that I have not before. However, I also decided to put A Link to the Past in the series as well, since it was my favorite game. Somethings just do not hold up that well over time.

I estimate that this was roughly the twentieth time that I have defeated the game. However, I have not played it in around eight years either. So, I expected to be mighty rusty, as I was playing Zelda 2. Fortunately, that was not the case at all. It seems as though this game has been permanently burned into the back of my skull. As I would play, so long as I was not thinking about what I had to do, I would automatically do it without thinking. At points this seemed kind of weird, because I would blow through a maze, and then suddenly start thinking about it again and not be able to find my way out.

There are several aspects of this game that make it dramatically superior to its predecessors. The first and foremost is that it gives you some kind of idea what exactly you are supposed to do. Heck, the map even had blinking icons where you were supposed to wonder to. This is just the complete opposite of Zelda 2 where they intentionally hid what you had to do so it all worked out randomly. And, the graphics were obviously improved. There are lots of other control issues, and other little things that are quite a bit better. However, not everything is as great as it used to be.

Having played through many of the later games, including one of the gameboy ones, and Wind Waker (and limited exposure to the horrible N64 titles), there were something things that link could not do that I thought he should be able to. Perhaps the most annoying was the fact that you had to pick up pots and throw them to break them, you cannot just hit them with your sword like in later games. Also, there are other issues, like the facts that with the shovel you can only dig to your right or left. I don’t know what that is all about, but as far as I can tell it should be able to work in eight directions (it is my understanding that it does work in four on the GBA version). Also, I hate to say this, but it might be TOO easy. I remember that it was never extremely hard (thought there are some difficult parts), but this time, well it was effortless.

As I watched the ending credits of the game scroll by, I looked to see how many times I had died in various areas. I remember my normal average was about once per area. This time, all that scrolled by were 0′s. That was pretty surprising. I was going to take a screenshot of the final screen that said “Total Games Played 000″ but, I forgot I cannot take screenshots on my SNES. So, you just get the title screen, screenshot. :wink:

Now, I just need to some how work up the endurance to play the awful N64 versions. Maybe I will read a few books first. :razz:

15 April 2006

Thank You for Smoking (2006)

This is probably the best movie of the year thus far.

This movie has a pretty simple message, you should have the right to choose for yourself. This is basically executed through the premise of, you should not smoke, but no one should tell you not to. Or, something along those lines.

Across the board, the acting was pretty good, and the jokes were funny. I dare say that everything in the movie was basically effective. This is probably the first movie since the remake of, Dawn of the Dead, that I have not thought of anything that I would change about it. It was just well done.

Also, I can not help but applaud the nice libertarian message it conveys. That is good stuff. There are far too many people out there legislating how you live your life, and if they cannot get it through law, they are flooding the media, or just plain telling you. It is sickening really. There is really only one key to solve these kinds of problems: information.

I honestly believe that is people have all the information, and/or are properly educated they will make the right choices. It is the responsibility of the individual to get all the facts and make informed decisions. This most certainly should not be done by legislatures who cater to whomever has the deepest pocketbooks regardless of their moral stance.

So, I guess the point of this post is to tell everyone to, “pick it up.” Be skeptical of what other people tell you, and do not “coast” through life. :wink:

14 April 2006

Zelda 2

In honor of the impending release of Zelda: Twilight Princess (hopefully sometime in the not to distant future) I have decided to go back and play the Zelda games that I have skipped over in the past, and to replay my favorite: A Link to the Past. So, my journey began here.
I can honestly say that I have never before beaten Zelda 2. And, having completed it yesterday, I cannot honestly say that it was a Zelda game in any where other than in title. Zelda 2 plays completely unlike any other Zelda game. It has a heavy feeling of being developed as a completely different title, and then being switched to Zelda at the very last moment. This is not completely unlike the release of Super Mario Bros. 2 that was originally a different game and then re-branded as SMB. However, at least SMB was originally a sidescroller, and although the game did feature some different play mechanisms, it still kind of felt like a SMB game. I don’t think this was the case for Zelda 2.

For those of you that do not already know, almost all the Zelda games are done from a 3/4 overhead view. Granted, in the 3D version you can move the camera more, but it still retains the same feeling. Zelda 2 is completely different. There are essentially two game modes. One is an overhead world view, where you walk around and fight random battles (this is not in any other games), and the other is a 2D side scroll that takes place inside random battles, cities, dungeons, etc… Everything in the game feel completely different and wrong. Granted, some of the enemies look better than they did in the original, but at what cost?

Another problem I had with the game was the aimlessness it employed. I know if the first one, you did not really get much of any kind of direction, but you could always wonder around and figure stuff out. In Zelda 2, I am not sure how you are expected to do half the stuff you have to do. There are several parts in the game where you are left to wonder and have to find the right spot to hit “A” to reveal an area. Seriously, how are you supposed to know that?

In retrospect, the only good thing that I can think of to describe about the game is the way Link handles. He can jump. Jumping is so important. It is the one feature I miss the most in the other games. That is why I was so glad when they added it in a very limited way with the Rok’s feather in later games. Hell, in the new 3D ones you still cannot, but thats to ActionReplay you can :wink:. But I digress, in Zelda 2, since it is a side scroller they added in the lame “you have to jump over the hole or die” mechanism featured in all side scrollers. I have always hated that. I guess that it one of the benefits of the other games, is that when/if you fall down a hole you don’t die. But, there are two other features that are pretty sweet that you don’t see for a while. up thrust and down thrust. Up thrust is never really featured in another game, and does not really serve much of a purpose in this game so that does not really surprise me. However, down thrust is kind of featured in the later 3D game, though it is a slightly different mechanism. Down thrust is one of the coolest things in Zelda 2, and also the most under utilized. Sure, you can use it, but once you get it pretty much all your enemies are immune to it, so what is the point?
All things considered I would not recommend this game to Zelda fans. I suppose that if you are a huge fan of NES style side scrollers you would enjoy the game. But, you just have to remember it is not a true Zelda game, and it makes the game at least a little bit better. Actually, the game reminded me a lot of another NES game called, Faxanadu, so if you imagine it is that game, you might like it better too. :wink:

So, without further ado, I guess I should start playing, A Link to the Past.

6 April 2006

A History of Violence

As everyone might have noticed in the last couple of posts, I have been skirting some of my blogger duties by telling my readership to listen to an external podcast to get some info. So, trying to keep up with that, I listened to the Cinecast for A History of Violence, and I regret to say I cannot recommend it. Because their views are not exactly in concert with mine.

I know that for some reason, everyone seems to be checking this movie out lately. I think it must have come out recently on DVD or something. Anyhow, I have been hearing good things about it since its theatrical release. Also, during a conversation with Rusty, he mentioned that he hated it, and thought it might be the worst movie ever. This pretty much cemented my desire to view the film.

First let me get this out of the way: the movie was good.

Although this movie was not your typical hollywood fair, it was done quite well. I cannot really think of any particular parts that I would change, because due to the nature of the film, it does not really lend itself to alternatives. I guess really, the only thing that I wanted to see was full disclosure by the protagonist to his family. Now, when I say this, it does not mean that I think it should have been told to the viewer, because it was unnecessary. I would have been happy if at the very end of the movie, he would have said “I was born in…” in order to hint he was going to come clean, from the beginning.

One of the things I liked the most about this film is that it did not take the audience for granted, it was essentially a sequence of events that unfolded without bias allowed the viewer to make decisions about why they are seeing.

Violence was an interesting aspect of the film. What little there was, was done in a graphic way, and it was generally done in marginally plausible sequences with maximum impact. I think that if you felt violence was ok, or completely unjustified you might be able to see your arguments in the film. It is all a matter of perspective.

I know that Wes, and Eric thought the movie was decent. Though, Wes had perhaps…less that noble interest in the film. I am interested to find out why exactly Rusty did not like it. :wink:

If anyone else has any perspectives, I expect comments to that effect. :razz:

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