Thursday, April 26, 2012

Movie Review: "The Cabin in the Woods" (2012)

The tagline to The Cabin in the Woods implies a level of deception: “You think you know the story.” I can honestly say that this film did not meet my expectations, though I did really enjoy it. It’s true that the story of teenagers isolated in a woodland setting, only to picked off by evil beasties, isn’t exactly a new idea for the horror genre. Luckily, the film doesn’t follow any formula very closely.

There have been several recent releases in the horror-comedy genre, most of which are satirical representations of classic horror formulas. When I arrived at the theater I expected to see a parody film along the lines of Drag Me to Hell or Wes Craven’s Scream. While it’s true that I was treated to some bloody laughs, Cabin in the Woods is not done in the same vein as the films listed above.

I think it is fair to classify Cabin as a horror-comedy offshoot, but saying that doesn’t describe the unique approach fully. It’s really hard to describe Cabin in the Woods, but I think that’s exactly what the filmmakers were going for.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Why Changing the Mass Effect 3 Ending Would Be Bad for Video Games

"With its compelling cinematic setting, the Mass Effect series stands as an example of how video games can be great works of art. Changing the ending only reinforces the beliefs of video game naysayers, who insist that games are nothing more than mindless entertainment." 

I'll start by speaking frankly: video games are not respected as an art medium. There's no doubt that gaming is on the rise; sales continue to break records year after year. Yet, video games still aren't getting the same recognition from the mainstream as other forms of media entertainment.

I use the word "entertainment" because I think that's how video games are viewed by a lot of people, particularly the older generations. Still, I don't think that gamers can solely blame crotchety old folks for being closed-minded to the medium. It's up to gamers of all ages to prove to non-believers that video games have evolved since the arcade era and are no longer just mindless distractions.

For every game that is made just for fun, there is another game that focuses on creative art direction. For every game with no story, there's another with a compelling narrative, filled with rich characters and themes. Video games are just as much of an art medium as film, music, and literature -- we just have to prove it. The first way to accomplish this is for the gamers themselves to treat video games as art, and not just view them as a commercial product. Yes, I think video game consumers share a huge chunk of the blame.

Recently a petition addressed to BioWare arrived in my inbox. The petition called for a new ending to Mass Effect 3, citing outrage over the game's actual ending. While I wasn't completely satisfied with the Mass Effect 3 ending, I didn't for a second consider signing such an asinine petition.