Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Movie Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Few can deny the significance The Lord of the Rings trilogy has had on film as a whole. It’s a lost art in terms of the way movies are made – model sets, props, makeup, costumes, and as many real actors as possible. The trilogy is an incredible achievement, sporting a level of craftsmanship and quality that very few films can match. Regrettably, the first chapter of a new prequel trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, contains little of what made the Lord of the Rings so magnificent.

I went back and watched The Fellowship of the Ring before I saw The Hobbit, and to this day I’m still blown away by the excellent photography and art direction. The real outdoor shoots, the beautiful lighting, the gorgeous crafted models – all of this is what makes the experience so memorable. These choices earned the trilogy multiple awards and recognition from critics worldwide, something The Hobbit is unlikely to achieve.

It’s baffling to me that the same director, Peter Jackson, and cinematographer, Andrew Lesnie, are responsible for both An Unexpected Journey and The Fellowship of the Ring. All those actors who played orcs and goblins are now merely CGI creatures, and the wonderful model locations have been replaced with green screen and CGI effects. Everything looks dramatically different, and in this case, that isn't a good thing.

Monday, December 10, 2012

XBLA Review: Guardians of Middle-earth

I never realized I preferred playing battle arena games with a controller until I played Guardians of Middle-earth, the first complete MOBA title to grace consoles. Guardians doesn’t really do much to re-invent the genre mastered by League of Legends, but it’s still a fun game that’s sure to please fans and newcomers alike.

If you don't like the MOBA genre, nothing here is going to change your mind. Guardians of Middle-earth works like most other multiplayer online battle arena games: you pick a hero, upgrade and customize them to your specific tastes, enlist the help of AI allies, and then conquer the map with a team of players.
MOBA fans will find Guardians to be surprisingly easy to pick up and play. The controls are mapped out well, porting everything you’d expect from a PC game to the gamepad with relative ease. You attack with the right trigger, powers are activated with the right hand buttons, and the bumpers are used for switching between them – nothing seems to be missing.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Movie Review: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Have you ever watched a movie and thought that what you are seeing had the potential to be a masterpiece, but falls short thanks to some very strange choices? It’s a sad thing to have to say about any film, but it’s especially sad to say about Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, a movie that has moments of absolute perfection. There’s so much about this quirky comedy that I loved, but severe shifts in the tone stop it from being all that it could have been.

Seeking a Friend is about doomsday and two people who fall in love in the most unusual of circumstances. A meteor is set to wipe out all human life on Earth, and Dodge (Steve Carell) is regretting every moment of his existence. Teaming up with his new friend, Penny (Keira Knightley), the two head out on a road trip to find Dodge’s lost love – something he should have done a long time ago.

Friday, December 7, 2012

News: Dark Souls II Announced

Get ready to die! At this year’s Video Game Awards on Spike TV, actress and model Jessica Alba announced the existence of Dark Souls II, the sequel to one of the most punishing RPGs ever made. No other details are known at this time, and no actual gameplay footage was shown.

The announcement came in the form a trailer that featured a CGI warrior battling monsters, before falling to his knees, riddled with arrows -- seems perfect for a game notorious for being so difficult.

No platforms have been officially announced, which means Dark Souls II may not arrive on the current Xbox.

This news story was published on Xbox Edge.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nintendo Wii Review: Wreck-It Ralph

A word of warning before you play Wreck-It Ralph for the Nintendo Wii: If you haven’t seen the movie yet, stay away from this game, because the film’s ending will be blown for you in the opening segment. However, if you have seen the Disney movie, stay even further away from this videogame version of Wreck-It Ralph, because it’ll taint your pleasant opinion of the characters forever. It’s obvious that this was intended to be little more than a quick cash-in, since the entire game will take you under two hours to finish – and that may be the only good thing about it.

For the most part, Wreck-it Ralph can be defined as a platformer, with a little bit of action mixed in for seemingly no reason. Had we been given a simple clone of some classic game in the genre, that would have been a much better idea. Going in, I expected this to be the Wreck-It Ralph game featured in the movie. Instead what we get to play is strange and lacks any discernible focus whatsoever.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

MMA Pot Bans Do More Damage Than Drugs Ever Could

There has been no shortage of fighters testing positive for marijuana, and this issue is likely only to become more prevalent as pot becomes legal in more and more states. The time has come for the athletic commissions to start addressing the issue appropriately. As fighters continue to lose their livelihood over smoking weed for medicinal and recreational purposes, you have to wonder what role an athletic commission has here in the first place, and just what the reasoning behind bans on marijuana may actually be.

While I am very happy to have athletic commissions around to do drug testing for performance enhancing substances, I question the logic behind testing for recreational drugs, especially marijuana. It's true that the goal of the athletic commissions is to protect the fighters, which is why no reasonable person argues against bans on steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

Drawing the line when talking about testing fighters should be simple: is the substance a fighter is using putting their opponent at risk and/or giving them an unfair advantage? If the answer is no, then the commission should take no action. The same logic that guides testing for steroids should be in place for recreational drug use. Athletic commissions shouldn't exist to judge the ethics of a fighter's lifestyle, unless it pertains directly to a fight.