Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

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...

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Worst Comics I Own: Army Of Two – Dirty Money


Why I Bought It:

Believe it or not, there was a time when I thought Army of Two was poised to be a force to be reckoned with in the realm of co-op gaming.

As evidenced by both the first and second games’ vanilla gameplay, obvious technical flaws, and tiresome usage of “bro-iness” in place of characterization; the franchise pretty much failed to live up to any of the promise I saw in it.

Despite poor reviews, I actually bought the first Army of Two, almost entirely due to the impressive nature of the character designs.

I don’t know about you, but if you ask me, the tactical armor+mask combo that Salem and Rios wear are some of the more iconic designs the of past half decade.

Seriously man, if you ever go to any airsoft meet, I guarantee you there’ll be at least one kid wearing one of their masks.

Pictured: Cosplay for people too "manly" to call it cosplay.

In many ways, the character designs blinded me to what I knew, deep down, was little more than a mediocre third-person shooter.

That being said, I ended up picking up a copy of “Dirty Money” in anticipation of the games’ release.

…And because it was on sale on Amazon.

Why It Sucks:

Army of Two: Dirty Money isn’t necessarily a shitty comic, it’s just incredibly bland.

In nearly every element of it’s composition, there’s a niggling sense of vanilla-ness that just sucks the fun out of what could’ve been a decent military conspiracy comic.

The art by Brandon McKinney is actually pretty good, but indistinct and poorly reproduced so as to muddy the colors and actually pixelate the text.

While I’d love to show you some examples of said mediocrity, all images of the book’s interior seemed to be buried in the internet, as I can’t find any scans of it.

If that’s not a sign of crappiness, I don’t know what is.

Instead you get a pic of Salem and Rios high-fiving... During a firefight.

The plot is your run of the mill military/revenge thriller stuff, with a double-crossing phantom of the past (a past introduced to the franchise solely within the context of this comic) reemerging to tangle with our heroes in the present.

The real problem with “Dirty Money,” is the horrendously “bro-ish” dialogue penned by John Ney Rieber.

I know it was a conscious decision of the designers of the Army of Two game to make both Salem and Rios foul-mouthed, high-fiving bro’s of the highest degree; likely in the hopes of reeling in the A.D.D-afflicted UFC/Spike TV demographic, but in written form, their dialogue just doesn’t work.

In the game, most of the annoying and ludicrous bro-isms are used as asides, sound bites that only occur intermittently.

In “Dirty Money,” bro-isms aren’t just used as asides to the action, they make up virtually every exchange of dialogue between our 2 heroes.

That’s like 80% of the fuckin’ book!

Seriously man, any book that includes the use of the terms, “Eat Me” and “bro” within it’s first page is one that takes pride in it’s bro-iness and doesn’t give 2 shits about whether you like it or not.

This guy likes it.... He likes it A LOT.

Potentially worse than the palpable nature of “Dirty Money’s” bro-osity though, is it’s excessive use of profanity.

I don’t mind swearing, in fact I do quite a bit of it myself; but the way the characters in “Dirty Money” let ’em fly would make even the saltiest of potty-mouthed sailors blush in embarrassment.

Virtually every speech bubble in the book has a 4-letter word of some sort, and if I recall correctly, I seem to remember Rios referring to someone as an “asswipe.”

I don’t know about you, but battle-scarred, Vin Diesel-esque bro-hemoths aren’t exactly the people I picture tossing around schoolyard terms like “asswipe.”

Then again, I pretty much described exactly the type of dudes I tend to avoid in my daily life, so I’m not exactly drawing from a great deal of life experience in this regard.

All in all, “Dirty Money” pretty much lives up to the standard of the game it serves as a prequel to in the sense that it’s bland and lacking in most regards, and completely without depth or substance.

Is It Still Worth Reading Anyway?:

“Dirty Money” was published by Prima Games, (a publisher of strategy guides) likely on the cheap and in short order, and it shows in virtually every regard.

Like most licensed comics, “Dirty Money” was likely produced for the purposes of cross-media promotion, however in this case, Army of Two was as a particularly weak source material, and a comic of said franchise was a very poor choice of medium.

Put it all together, and you have a lame comic that is constantly winking at you with the fact that it’s based off a game, but fails to hide the fact that said game is a piece of crap.

They got my money with all the pre-release hype, and I’m still kicking myself over it, but without all that to suck you in; there’s really no reason for an intelligent human being to ever pick up a copy of “Dirty Money.”

That is, unless the clip below describes an act you’ve performed on others at some point in your life:

Filed under: Games, Movies, Worst Comics I Own, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Top 10 Runner-Ups of the Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks, Part II!

After an entire week’s worth of posts, today we’ve finally reached the conclusive, ultimate and last post in the Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks event!

Today we’ll be unveiling the Top 5 of the Top 10 Runner-Ups, so get ready kids, ’cause we’re:

*Ahem!* Pardon me, I found myself suddenly overcome by meatheaded-ness…

Anyway, let’s get down to the Top 5 Runner-Ups!:

#5. Double Dragon 2: The Revenge

“Theme of The Double Dragons”


As mentioned in the Top 25 NES Tracks list, as well as numerous other articles posted on this blog, Double Dragon is THE SHIT.

Pictured: Watered-Down Shit...

I’ve loved Double Dragon series ever since I first played the second one with my brother in my early childhood, and it’s a game series that I continue to treasure to this day.

Chief among my reasons for loving the Double Dragon series, is of course the fact that it possessed one of the most memorable and enduring theme musics in gaming history.

It’s a tune that’s been used in nearly every game in the series, with each iteration making slight changes to the table.

 

*Sigh* And then there's Double Dragon V...

While Double Dragon 2 is definitely my favorite game in the series, I feel I should go on record and say that my selection of it’s version of theme for this list added no bias to my decision.

Believe me when I say this, I went out of my way to listen to all of the NES versions of the Double Dragon Theme back to back just to come to this conclusion.

The original version was too uppity for my tastes, feeling more appropriate as the background music for the 2 player game mode than a theme music for a pair of characters.

The version used in Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones was extremely well-composed, with the most intricate instrumentation of the 3 NES versions of the theme, but honestly I felt that this resulted in it having a somewhat cluttered and “loud” sound to it that was a little bit too overbearing.

Unlike the game, which as you can see, was kind of bare...

The version featured in Double Dragon 2: The Revenge, the slowest and most laid back version of the Double Dragon Theme on the NES, and yet it feels most right.

Unlike the original version that feels too fast, the Double Dragon 2 version of the theme has a more subtle instrumentation to it, but as a result it sounds the most like a theme music for Billy and Jimmy Lee as opposed to a single scene in the game.

 

Congratulations Billy and Jimmy Lee, you have awesome theme music!

Anyway, those are my thoughts, hopefully they make sense…

#4. Journey To Silius

“Stage 1”


Journey To Silius is yet another Sunsoft game.

More specifically, it’s a Sunsoft game I’ve never played.

In fact, the first time I ever heard of Journey To Silius was less than a year ago, when I stumbled across a video about produced by LordkaT for his Until We Win series.

Pictured: LordkaT, in all his glory!

Speaking exclusively from what I saw in that video, I thought the game looked pretty fun.

The jumping mechanic, as described by Lordkat, sounded somewhat Castlevania-ish to me though, so chances are I’d probably hate it if I played it…

Anyway, while watching that video of the game, I happened to notice some of the background music playing over Lordkat’s narration.

While he is known to sometimes use music tracks from other games in his videos, I obviously didn’t recognize the music, resulting in me Youtube-ing the Journey To Silius soundtrack to find out what it was.

Sure enough, it was the “Stage 1” theme.

While this is indeed an amazing piece of NES music, I felt it inappropriate to list among the Top 25 due to my lack of history with the game.

Even so, making the Top 5 of the Runner-Ups despite me never having played the game is still quite an accomplishment.

#3. Mega Man 2

“Dr. Wily’s Castle 1”


Among Mega Man music, this one is my #2.

#1 was my pick for the Best NES Track EVER, as well as part of one of my favorite game series ever, so I feel it goes without saying that being my #2 of the Mega Man series is not far from being #2 in all of 8-bit music.

 

Lookit 'im... Bein' all smug n'shit...

This track was, in many ways, the reason why I instigated the “1 track per franchise” for this list.

Even so, though I like both tracks just about equally; deep down I knew which is one was better, and therefore most appropriate to represent Mega Man on the Top 25.

That being said, “Dr. Wily’s Castle” is an exhilarating piece of game music that was incredibly complex it’s time, and still holds up to this day as one of the better gaming compositions throughout history.

#2. Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest

“Bloody Tears”


Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest, like Journey To Silius, is another game on this list that I have never played.

That’s actually kind of interesting to note, as back in the day Simon’s Quest was regarded as one of the finest games on the NES.

I can still recall my one issue of Nintendo Power and how it sang the praises of Castlevania 2, even going so far as it award it the “Nester” award for Best Graphics and Sound of 1988.

 

Pictured: Nester. Damn I feel old for knowing this shit...

Despite actually wanting to play Castlevania 2 in my youth, like many great games back in the day; I ended up passing it over in favor of repeatedly renting Snow Bros. every weekend…

Regardless, sometime in high school I took the time to check out the soundtrack of Simon’s Quest, and lo and behold, there was gold in them there hills!

While the game might have a bit too much of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sound to it, (understandable, seeing as Konami was cranking out those games like crazy back in the day) like any Castlevania, it truly has an awesome soundtrack.

“Bloody Tears” was my favorite track I ran across in the soundtrack for Castlevania 2.

I have no idea what point of the game it’s used for, but it’s a simultaneously energetic and haunting tune that was this close to usurping the original “Vampire Killer’s” position on the Top 25.

 

Thank you hipster doofus, for providing us with a visual indication of exactly how close "this close" means. Douchebag...

Like Journey To Silius though, I simply couldn’t justify placing it on the list without ever having actually experienced the track in-game.

#1. Ninja Gaiden

“Ending Theme”


Is it just me or do the Ninja Gaiden games on the NES all have fuckin’ brilliant ending themes?

Ninja Gaiden 3 had a pretty decent ending theme, which was appropriate given that it was a “pretty decent” game.

Beautiful? Yes. Fun? Yes. Half as good as what came before it? Not a chance.

Ninja Gaiden 2’s ending has the distinction of holding the #2 spot on my Top 25 NES Tracks list.

And the original Ninja Gaiden’s “Ending Theme” gets the #1 spot among the Top 10 Runner-Ups!

The composers over at Tecmo deserve a pat on the back, ’cause damn they did a great job.

The “Ending Theme” of the original Ninja Gaiden was a fantastic piece of music that I only recently rediscovered.

I heard it when I was very young, and I remember liking it, but for whatever reason I simply didn’t remember it.

Boy am I glad I did, ’cause it is one hell of a roller coaster ride of 8-bit goodness.

As much an action piece as it is an ending track, the “The Ending Theme” of Ninja Gaiden is a terrific composition that really gets your blood pumping.

 

Uh.... Ryu Hayabusa everyone!

Honestly, if not for Ninja Gaiden 2 having a slightly better ending track, this tune would’ve made the Top 25 in a heartbeat.

Damn sequels… Bein’ all better n’shit…

Well folks, thus concludes the Azn Badger’s list(s) of the Best NES Tracks!

Tune in tomorrow for… Something other than NES music!

Seriously man, I’m done with Nintendo music for awhile

Filed under: Games, Movies, The Top 25 NES Tracks, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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