Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

And Now, Morgan Freeman Killin’ A Bitch.

Or should I say, killing a witch?

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Thoughts On The Dark Knight Rises Trailer

It’s funny, when it comes to movies, I’m actually not that hard to impress.

While I consider myself well-versed in the world of film, at the end of the day all it really takes to peak my interest, is:

A): A decent cast.

B): A decent concept.

and C): The promise of people punching one another at some point in the movie.

In some cases that last one, if represented well enough, is the only excuse I need to see a movie, regardless of how dumb or crappy it is.

I rented the shit-fest that was Unknown purely in the hopes of seeing a handful of Liam Neeson related beat downs.

I saw Fast Five solely for the purpose of seeing Vin Diesel and The Rock (not Dwayne) bro-out and put each other through particle board walls.

Pictured: Either The Rock is about to get suplexed, or Vin Diesel's in the process of getting Speared. I honestly can't tell...

And when it comes to The Dark Knight Rises, as utterly incalculable as the build-up has, and will continue to be for the next 6 months or so, at the end of the day I will see it because it, unlike any other movie in film history; will deliver the long anticipated spectacle of Batman and Bane duking it out on the big screen.

That these 2 titans of comics are to be portrayed by capable actors such as Christian Bale and Tom Hardy respectively, is merely the icing on the cake.

I find this funny. Does that make me less of a man?

Christopher Nolan’s track record when it comes to cinematography and fight choreography suggests that the ensuing bout will be clumsy and edited through a meat grinder, but even so, I’ve been waiting to see this fight brought to life on the silver screen since I was 6 years old; and crappy or not, I will not be denied.

That being said, Batman and Bane grudge match aside, what did I think of the new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises?

Well, to answer your question, I felt it was quite good by most standards, but much too enigmatic and fractured in it’s presentation to pack the same visceral punch that the later trailers for The Dark Knight did.

Here’s a refresher in case you need it:

I’d prefer not to compare the 2, as it’s obvious the people cutting the trailers for these movies came at it from very different tonal and thematic standpoints; but I feel it needs to be said that, to me, The Dark Knight really did have some of the best trailers of all time.

Everything, from the shot selection, to the music cues, to the overall pacing of the trailers for The Dark Knight was absolutely spot on.

What’s more, thanks to the dialogue-heavy nature of the trailers, as well as his untimely death, an absurd amount of buzz was generated for Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker, (*Sigh* “Why So Serious?”) not to mention the overall plot of the film was made crystal clear.

Though it sounds silly in this cynical age of ours, in many ways I feel the catchphrases and buzzwords of The Dark Knight actually served to make it’s advertising campaign both effective and memorable on the whole.

The trailer for The Dark Knight Rises has a lot of neat shots in it, promising quite a few interesting set piece moments, however, perhaps due to the lack of dialogue, many of these shots are difficult to interpret from a purely visual standpoint.

Early on we see the reflection of a man with a cane approaching a shiny dinner platter while Alfred drones on about the Wayne dynasty:

Pictured: I have no fucking clue. Maybe a Ra's Al Ghul flashback?

At some point we see someone stumble onto the set of Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet:

Pictures: Ballrooms + Flower Petals = Hamelt. It's science.

Later, we see a bearded Bruce Wayne wandering around what appears to be the prison equivalent to Discovery Zone:

I know it's probably supposed to be a prison, but honestly, I kind of wanna' play on it...

There’s that French lady from Inception n’shit.

A FOOTBALL FIELD was just DESTROYED! WHY ARE YOU SMILING!?

There’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Pictured: Joseph Gordon "Still Not Sure Where To Put The Hyphen" Levitt.

There’s A SHIT TON of rappeling.

The Dark Knight Rises: A Story of Men On Ropes.

And then we have Anne Hathaway as a mean lady that may or may not be Catwoman.

Seriously, if you take into account the fact that maybe, just maybe, the people viewing this trailer haven’t been blogging about every step of the script writing process, or staring at leaked production photos for the past several months, (oddly enough, not me!) then this trailer basically offers no hint as to her role being that of Selina Kyle.

Oh wait excuse me, she’s wearing a mask at a masquerade ball that, if you look really hard, has cat ears:

Direct quote: "WHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!"

Sarcasm deployed, mystery solved.

Much like Aaron Eckhart’s Two-Face, unless you’ve been following the production or are familiar with the Batman universe, chances are you’d never know Anne Hathaway was supposed to be Catwoman in this trailer.

Indeed, I’m curious to know what this trailer meant to people who aren’t familiar with Batman outside of the movies.

In many ways, when I watch this trailer, I feel my perception is skewed by the fact that I already have an attachment to and understanding of many of the characters based on their comic book equivalent.

When I think “Bane,” I already have an image in mind of what I expect from him.

When I hear Tom Hardy speaking through his mask I say to myself:

"I can see how people could find that hard to understand, but goddamnit that sounds like Bane!"

When I see scenes from the trailer like the prison break, I think to myself:

"Nice. That looks straight out of Knightfall!"

To the average Batman virgin however, I’d imagine imagery such as this would be provocative, but purely in a “oh, so that’s gonna’ happen at some point” kind of way.

Hell, I’m willing to bet the average Bat Virgin doesn’t have the slightest clue as to who or what Bane even is.

What I think I’m trying to say, is that the style of editing and presentation of this trailer is enticing, as anything with a budget and pretty pictures can manage to be, but at the same time I feel frustrated by the numerous vagaries it throws in my lap.

As you can probably tell, I’m not a fan of the J.J. Abrams-style marketing.

It’s not that I prefer my trailers to spell their plots and structure out to me, I simply value coherence and context over sound cues and pretty pictures.

Much like all of Christopher Nolan’s blockbusters, The Dark Knight Rises appears to be an audio-visual powerhouse, though in some ways it appears a little less so at this point.

The set pieces looks suitably big, but the color palette appears more gray-ish and natural than The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, and curiously enough, despite it being an almost comical trademark of his, there’s not a single (gorgeous) overhead shot of a cityscape.

Instead he decided to pull a 180 and do an INVERTED overhead shot for the poster!

That last part troubles me, as I’m a big fan of Nolan’s wide open establishing shots, particularly in outdoor scenes, and though it may just be the editor’s doing; there are none to be found in this trailer.

Perhaps the strangest thing though, at least to me, is the fact that they re-used the mood building drone AKA The Joker’s theme from The Dark Knight in this trailer.

I always thought of that particular piece of music as “belonging” to The Joker, which made it somewhat puzzling to hear played over a trailer for a film that, almost certainly; won’t feature him.

Despite everything I’ve said about this trailer, both good and bad, at the end of the day it’s a very good piece of advertising for a sequel that, unfortunately, benefitted from some of the best advertising and pre-release buzz in recent memory.

Not only that, it’s only the first trailer, for a huge movie that isn’t dropping until late in the summer.

As good as the advertising for The Dark Knight was from the get go, the 2nd trailers for it, Iron Man, and Inception were all MONUMENTALLY better than the first, which leads me to believe the same will likely be the case with The Dark Knight Rises.

In addition to this, one also has to consider the fact that virtually all of Christopher Nolan’s blockbusters up to this point, while heavily advertised, also did well to avoid showing a great deal of the major story beats and action set pieces.

I mean hell, neither the teaser nor the trailer saw any mention of Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox, nor any of stuff from the prologue sequence that made the rounds through theaters last week.

I don’t know about you, but up until it’s release I really thought the “truck flip” from The Dark Knight trailer was going to be the climax of the movie.

Instead, the entire skyscraper based finale of the movie ended up playing that role, while never once being hinted at in the trailers.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that though I may seem overly critical, in truth I’m just a fanboy hoping for the best.

In the meantime though, as weird as it seems, I think I actually liked the almost universally panned teaser for The Dark Knight Rises somewhat better than the trailer.

True, most of the footage was borrowed from Batman Begins.

True, Commissioner Gordon’s dialogue was hard to understand.

True, virtually nothing Commissioner Gordon had to say was even worth hearing in the first place.

BUT, at the very end of the teaser, there is a single, barely 2 second shot that made it all worth it:

Pictured: All I needed to see.

Batman in the rain, taking a deep breath, while Bane slowly approaches from the foreground.

The whole thing was crap up until then, but that last shot instantly sold me.

The trailer, while bigger and much more coherent, didn’t have this shot or even a suitable equivalent.

True, it featured a few shots of Batman and Bane throwing down in the snow, however I felt the subtlety and dramatic implication of the teaser shot did more to appease the fanboy in me than the entirety of the full trailer.

That’s just me though.

Do I ever need a reason to post this? Didn't think so...

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A Salute To Time Crisis: Part II

I said it before, I’ll say it again; Time Crisis 2 is my favorite light gun game of all time.

While Time Crisis 1 was an excellent and innovative game for it’s time, #2 managed to improve upon it in every way.

Released in arcades in 3 years after it’s successor in 1998, Time Crisis 2 featured a new visual cue to alert the player of incoming fire, an increased bullet capacity from 6 to 9, the limited inclusion of a new weapon, (a machine gun) and the option to play the game co-operatively with a friend.

Not the best example of co-op gaming, but whatever...

The new visual cue, dubbed the “Crisis Flash” system, would go on to become a staple of the series included in every subsequent sequel.

The “Crisis Flash” was a rose colored flash that would emit from from incoming bullets just a moment before striking the player.

Pictured: The "Crisis Flash"

The system was created in response to the sometimes random instances in which the player would get hit.

While enemies’ colors denote their accuracy levels in all Time Crisis games, in the original there were some instances in which the seemingly harmless blue enemies would somehow turn into deadshots.

Cheating motherfuckers...

Time Crisis 2 corrected this by affording the player with an opportunity, however brief, to avoid any instance of potential harm.

This, along with most of the other new features in the game, served to lower the difficulty of Time Crisis 2 in comparison with it’s predecessor, while at the same time making it more accessible and fun to novice and expert players alike.

Although I think the game would probably be too easy for these kids.

The increased bullet count per load in Time Crisis 2 was, in my opinion, one of the most significant improvements from Time Crisis 1.

The original Time Crisis had the player using 6 bullets per load, a number that, while standard for the time, was somewhat difficult to work with.

But, isn't six shots, more than enough to kill anything that moves?

“Time” was a huge factor in the original Time Crisis.

The player was afforded 40 seconds to deal with any one situation, with extra time awarded for killing orange enemies or reaching checkpoints.

The timer would count down at all times, even during scene transitions when the player was unable to control the game.

Similar to how even when you are safely disarming the bomb in Counter-Strike, the mistakes of other people can, in fact, still fuck you over:

Running out of time in Time Crisis would result in a game over, while in all of it’s sequels, the player merely loses 1 hit point.

While enemies rarely swarmed you, it was often difficult to effectively dispatch any one wave of enemies with a single load of 6 rounds.

This would often force the player to duck and cover repeatedly for every wave, thusly draining your precious time limit quite rapidly.

Providing ever more chances that shit like this would happen.

While the enemy count on screen was bolstered significantly from the first game, Time Crisis 2 granted the player flexibility in dealing with them by giving them 3 extra bullets to mount a more sustained offensive, and a more forgiving time limit for times when the player needed time to collect themselves.

In case, you know, you just happen to be one of those assholes that decides to do this during a gun fight.

Time Crisis 2 marked the first time in franchise history that the player could acquire new weapons during the game.

The only other weapon available in Time Crisis 2 besides the default infinite ammo pistol, was a machine gun given to the player for very specific situations.

The “situations” in question were a few instances in which the player was faced with the challenge of taking on heavily armed APC’s.

HOW you manage to take down one of these with a machine gun, is beyond me.

When using the machine gun, the player would be treated to the advantages of automatic fire, and unlimited ammo.

Unfortunately, the game’s player characters, Keith and Robert would always see fit to discard these wonderful guns upon taking out the APC’s, after all, “No One Can Beat Them.”

"No One Can Beat Them"

Doesn’t make a lick of sense, but hey, the game would probably be too easy if they let you keep the machine guns.

Just ask Time Crisis 3

Better not blink, you might miss them beat the game...

Despite all of the neat little improvements that Time Crisis 2 made over it’s predecessor, by far the most significant of these was the addition of two player co-op gameplay.

Light gun games and co-op go together like spaghetti and meatballs.

Despite this, it’s easy to understand why the original Time Crisis didn’t include the feature.

Namco already broke the mold by introducing the “Hide and Shoot” pedal mechanic, and the creative fatigue associated with this, coupled with the technical limitations of 1995, probably resulted in them being unable to incorporate the feature.

1995: When the peak of technology allowed for Jim Carrey to be unfunny, and Batman's costume to have nipples.

At least that’s my guess.

Co-op in Time Crisis 2 was executed in a unique and brilliant fashion.

While virtually every light gun game before had the player characters occupying the same field of vision, on the same screen, the Time Crisis 2 arcade cabinet was split into 2 separate screens, allowing for instances in which the two players would split up, viewing the same scene from different angles.

FUCK YEAH.

This, combined with the nifty recoiling light guns, made for an exciting and colorful experience, wherein the two players would often times be caught up in cross fires while trying to cover one another.

It also made it possible for the two players to mess around and shoot one another if they so desired.

This, boys and girls, is what you call "team killing."

Fortunately, the game only penalizes the players for doing so by removing points, not by damaging the player.

Whatever man, you’d have done it too…

That's right, YOU.

I played Time Crisis 2 like a mad man in the arcade, but it wasn’t until I bought it on the Playstation 2 that I truly began to love it.

The PS2 port of Time Crisis 2 came out in 2001, and, like it’s predecessor, it featured a lot of bonus content.

The game featured remixed music, a massive graphical face lift, optional permanent weapon enhancements, the option to play the game “mirrored” with enemies appearing in new places, and a number of scenario missions called “Crisis Missions.”

All of these features, as well as a few others, resulted in a console light gun game that was hard to get tired of.

Unlike this quarter munching pile of ass.

Done with the single player game?

Play it “mirrored” and you’ve got basically a whole new game on your hands.

Done with “mirror” mode?

Try playing through the game with a shotgun, see how it feels.

Tired? Sleepy?

Try 5-Hour Energy.

*Ahem!* Sorry about that, WAY too many Hulu ads.

*Cocks Head To Side* "My delivery isn't condescending. Not at all..." *Cocks Head To Side*

The “Crisis Missions” were essentially training missions designed to challenge your skills and help you become a better player.

Either that or they were just cruel jokes meant to make you feel dumb for being unable to complete them.

In short, the “Crisis Missions” were very hard, much harder than the story mode of the game, even on the hard settings.

Most of my memories of “Crisis Mode” are ones of contempt and frustration.

Let’s just say it’s a good thing I wasn’t one of those guys that break things when they get mad, otherwise I’d have a lot of broken GunCons.

...And a lot of dead cats.

The story of Time Crisis 2 is standard action movie fare, however it’s progression is a little bit muddled and detached, resulting in an experience that isn’t nearly as memorable or dear to me as the the first game’s.

Basically, there’s this company called Neodyne Industries, whose CEO just happens to be a megalomaniacal asshole named Ernesto Diaz.

With a scar like that, you KNOW he's legit.

Using his company as a front, Diaz intends to launch a nuclear satellite into space so he can… Well, it’s never really explained as to what he intends to do, but whatever, you end up killing him anyway so it’s all good.

As members of VSSE, Keith and Robert, it’s your job to take on Diaz and his thugs, destroy the satellite, and rescue Christy, an agent assigned to infiltrate Neodyne.

Hmm, I guess she's worth it... I GUESS.

It’s a good thing that “No One Can Beat Them,” otherwise that’d be a tall order.

Skip to 2:10 or risk losing your sanity:

On the way, you encounter a series of strange and colorful bosses.

The first is a man named Jakov Kinisky, a weasly and effeminite man in a pink shirt and black suit that carries a suitcase.

Oh yeah, and a machine pistol.

No Comment.

You spend the entirety of the first stage chasing Jakov through the streets of a picturesque town and port, literally knocking him on his ass everytime he makes the mistake of trying to shoot back at you.

Eventually, you chase Jakov onto a heavily armed and armored speed boat, which leads to a crazy boat chase complete with attack divers that try to shank you at every corner.

After disposing of the boats defenses, you then cap Jakov in his face, thusly causing the boat to crash, and yes, explode.

Using the intel gathered from Jakov’s precious suitcase, Keith and Robert drive off to intercept a train that is carrying the nuclear satellite.

And yes, “No One Can Beat Them.”

After a hard fought battle, our heroes are faced with the challenge of taking on a black man so tough, they saw fit to give him a Russian accent: BUFF Bryant.

You better believe that that radio in his hand is about to get smashed...

Seriously, BUFF Bryant.

The only other Buff I’ve ever heard of was Buff Bagwell, and he wasn’t nothin’ compared to Mr. Bryant.

...Although that doesn't mean he wasn't awesome in his own right.

As BUFF makes his entrance, a helicopter shows up, airlifting the nuclear satellite off the train and out carrying it far off into the distance.

None of that matters though ’cause BUFF sees fit to distract our heroes by spraying fire at them with a train mounted minigun.

A Minigun: The Only Weapon Suitable For A Man Named "Buff."

When that proves ineffectual, BUFF casually hops out of his seat, strolls over to a surface-to-air missile stowed on the train car, and proceeds to pick it up to club you over the head with.

Naw, he's not on the 'roids. No way...

What the fuck Namco, did I miss something?

I can understand if the man’s supposed to be bulletproof, ’cause he’s wearing nothin’ but a dress shirt and suspenders and somehow it takes like 50 rounds to make him flinch, but when the guy starts picking up 30 foot long missiles, then I just get confused.

It must be the pimp-ass suspenders, after all, Wild Dog’s got ’em and you saw all the crazy shit he was doing in Time Crisis 1…

I swear man, it's gotta' be the suspenders...

Anyway, BUFF drops the missile eventually, whereupon he decides to pick up his minigun and hop onto a nearby helicopter with it.

Man, I didn't need to know this mothefucker could FLY.

After doing a few passes on you, eventually BUFF takes one too many bullets to the face and he rears back in his seat, shooting out the Jesus bolt in his helicopter in the process, thusly causing, you guessed, an explosion.

Yeah, somehow I don't think this would be enough to kill 'ole BUFF...

For whatever reason, the train starts to fall off a cliff after this, thusly forcing Keith and Robert to flee the ensuing destruction and explosions.

Fortunately, “No One Can Beat Them,” and after a bunch of stupid bullshit involving Last Crusade nonsense and inept guards, our heroes manage to commandeer a nearby helicopter that just happens to have a pre-programmed flight pattern for Ernesto Diaz’s island hideout.

With that, our heroes head over to the island and start killin’ bitches.

Pictured: Keith and Robert killing bitches... Or a cat yawning. I really don't care either way.

Just as things seem to have escalated as far as they can however, our old buddy, the pimpest man in existence AKA Wild Dog decides to show up and make things complicated all over again.

I came.

Armed with a brand new robotic gatling gun arm and a fatty new facial scar to boot, Wild Dog puts the hurt on our heroes while Diaz hangs back and shoots rockets at them every now and again, you know, like you do.

Pictured: Steve Jobs during Corporate War III.

Despite looking, unbelievably; even more pimp than ever before, Wild Dog is nothing more than a minor obstacle in Time Crisis 2.

“Obstacle” being the operative word in that sentence.

In Time Crisis 1, Wild Dog was the big boss, the guy you had to kill to get to the end, while in the sequel he comes across more as an element of the level design than a concrete “presence” or character in the game.

In either case, being as “No One Can Beat” Keith and Robert, (Note: “No One Can Beat Them”) Wild Dog ends up gettin’ capped somethin’ fierce, only this time he makes the conscious decision to click his “Magic Button of Explosiveness” on himself, thusly setting off a charge in his robotic arm and causing him to explode.

Again.

BAD. ASS.

Anyway, upon seeing the pimpest man in existence extinguish his own life in a blaze of B ADASS glory, Diaz rabbits like a little bitch and takes Christy with him.

Chasing Diaz through the installation, Keith and Robert manages to cap Diaz in the face enough times to make him let go of Christy, though in an act of douchebaggery he actually has the nerve to try and toss her ass into a fuckin’ hole.

I’m amazed he even tried to put up a fight, after all, “No One Can Beat Them.”

Fortunately, Christy is saved just in time by our heroes, thusly leading to the final battle.

With the shuttle carrying the nuclear satellite beginning it’s launch sequence, Diaz confronts our heroes at the top of the launch platform while straddling a dummy satellite mounted on a complex armature.

Satellite or not, shoot it in the face. That usually does the trick.

Despite being a dummy model for a nuclear satellite, the machine proves to be heavily armed with conventional weapons like laser beams and rockets.

Once again, I don’t get it, but whatever, it’s hella’ fun to shoot to shit.

Taking potshots at you while hiding behind his mechanical monstrosity, Diaz proves to be a decent, if not colorful challenge, however he doesn’t even come close to approaching the level of difficulty that Sherudo or Wild Dog achieved in Time Crisis 1.

Still, BAAAAADDDDD ASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

It isn’t long before Diaz and his satellite, quite literally, fall before the power of Keith and Robert’s infinite ammo pistols.

Oh yeah, and “No One Can Beat Them.”

Diaz and the dummy satellite fall onto the launching shuttle, thusly damaging it enough to stop it’s ascent and destroy the installation in the process.

Explosions ensue.

Yup, pretty sure he's dead. Had it been BUFF in there though, I don't know...

With that, our heroes are blown out to sea, whereupon they are greeted by the sight of Christy driving over to them in an inflatable raft.

Cue BLATANT rip-off of music from The Rock, roll credits, everyone fucks, the end.

"What the fuck do you mean they STOLE the fuckin' music!?"

Time Crisis 2’s soundtrack, both in the arcade, and remixed on the console, was nothing to write home about.

The Time Crisis theme is evident throughout the game, however the intensity level of everything is significantly taken down a notch.

I mentioned that the ending theme of the game is, in my opinion, a rip-off of the theme from the movie The Rock.

In case you’re curious, here’s the evidence of my claim:

Skip to 9:05 for the source material:

Now skip to :40 of this one, and tell me they aren’t nearly identical:

In the console version of the game, this theme, ripped-off or not, is repeated throughout the game at several points, most notably during stage 2.

Rip-off or not, this theme can’t hold a candle to the original Time Crisis theme.

Wild Dog’s theme is thankfully reused for his appearance in the game, though once again, the intensity level just isn’t there.

Time Crisis 2 stands as my favorite light gun game of all time.

It may not have connected with me on as personal a level as the first in the series, but sometimes that’s not important.

I’ve seen The Shawshank Redemption only once, but I’ve seen Bloodsport about a billion times.

Why?

Because Bloodsport is a fucking fun-ass movie and Shawshank requires a bit more investment than I prefer to give in most cases.

Time Crisis 2 was just plain fun, end of story.

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