Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

I finally saw it! Let me preface by saying that I’ve always been a big fan of stories like Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. I’ve read several Oz books and the two Alice books. And anytime something related to either of them comes around, be it a game or made-for-TV movie, I get a little excited. Take the sci-fi networks recent airing of “Alice” and “Tin Man”. Both miniseries sucked really bad, but I still liked them. It could be said that I loved Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, just because it was about Alice in Wonderland. So I’m going to review this movie pretending that I hate everything about Alice and her adventures. Stupid Alice, she’s not cool at all!

The first thing you should know is that Burton’s AIW isn’t really based on either of the books. It’s sort of a combination of the two. It features characters from both, but they’re revised a little to fit the story. The Red Queen is actually a combination of The Queen of Hearts and The Red Queen. Tim Burton’s version tells the story of Alice coming back to Wonderland to fulfill her destiny as the one who will slay the Jabberwock as foretold in the poem, Jabberwocky. The poem itself is from Through the Looking Glass and it actually never states that Alice is the slayer; I think it’s a young boy. But regardless, this movie is mostly based on the poem; which is a great idea. Jabberwocky mentions a few other creatures that we’ve never seen on screen. Burton is able to bring them to life in his version thanks to CGI, and they look amazing. The Jabberwock actually looks very similar to John Tenniel’s illustrations from the book. The Bandersnatch and the Jub Jub Bird look pretty cool too. The Cheshire cat is probably my favorite though. He has mad evaporating skills and the way he floats around, backwards and upside down, just looks awesome.

Everything in this movie looks cool. The costumes, the creatures, and wonderland itself all look amazing. It has a Burton feel to it, sure, but this isn’t Halloweentown. Wonderland has a look all its own. Burton gets some flack for doing the same Burtony stuff for every movie. But I definitely think he stepped outside the box for his depiction of Wonderland.

Speaking of Burton doing Burtony things, yes, Johnny Depp is in it and he plays a wacky guy. And I thought he was pretty funny. But the real star of this movie is Helena Bonham Carter, another Burton regular. She’s perfect as the red queen. She’s evil and totally out of her mind, but is also hilarious. Plus she looks really good with such a huge head. I kind of always thought Burton cast her in everything because they’re you know, together, but she totally owns this movie.

I loved this movie and whether you believe me or not, it’s not just because I like Alice in Wonderland or have a man-crush on Tim Burton. It’s a fun and visually stunning film that deserves some recognition. The writing isn’t outstanding, and the story doesn’t really take Wonderland to new levels, but I didn’t really expect more than that. It’s definitely a different kind of Alice story. I think the artistry and that jaw-dropping scene where Alice finally meets the Jabberwock impressed me enough.

I will pick one thing I absolutely hated about AIW just to convince you. At the end, The Hatter does a dance, a futterwhacken, to be precise. And it is so dumb. And then when the credits are about to roll... sheesh... an Avril Lavine song. Could have been worse I guess; Prince comes to mind.

4 Queens

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Movies that Should be Video Games – The Wizard

Look out, there's stuff flying at us - only one of which is from an actual game!

Right when you read that title you said to yourself, “Of Course! Man, that Good Indoorsman really is good!” But then you thought, “But how can you make a movie about video games, into a video game? That’s just crazy!” Well, here’s how.

The Wizard is the classic video game movie. If you like video games, you’ve undoubtedly seen this 80’s gem. If you never saw The Wizard and hate video games (why are you reading this), let me fill you in on the plot.

Totally awesome Fred Savage plays Corey. He and his brother Jimmy have run away from home, hearing the news that the children will be split up once their parents are divorced. (Does that really happen? “Honey which one do you want? I’ll take Jimmy. He’s quiet.”) On their way to California they meet uber-bingo Haley, played by Jenny Lewis. I loved her then and I love her now as front woman of Rilo Kiley. Haley, seeing that little Jimmy is somewhat of a video game savant, convinces them to head to Video Armageddon.

I imagine The Wizard game will have two components: A cross-country adventure game and a vast library of 97 classic 8-bit Nintendo games. I probably just blew your mind right there, so I’ll give you a second to recuperate.


The adventure game will tell the story of Corey, Haley and Jimmy traveling to California to compete in a totally made up (I checked when I was 10) video game tournament. You control Fred Savage mostly. Sounds kind of boring right? Wrong! Get this – The adventure component is an all out tribute to classic games of the 80’s. There will be car chases, action, fighting, puzzles, role-playing and even spelunking! I don’t know for sure how spelunking will tie in, but I just like typing it. One minute you may find yourself on the back of a Harley Davidson, racing down the highway, avoiding the police and that weasely bounty hunter. Another minute you might be kicking and punching your way through a casino, trying not to get caught by security, or that weasely bounty hunter. And then who knows, you might even find yourself in the middle of a turn-based rpg battle with cactuars in the desert, and just when you thought you were safe, that weasely bounty hunter jumps out and steals 100 magic points! Damn!

But every so often, the wizard encounters a different challenge. This is where the second component I mentioned comes in. It could be a competitive tournament, a showdown at an arcade, or a duel with Lucas (You know – the power glove guy

No I will not keep my powerglove off her!

Arcades are scattered throughout the first component and the gang can earn money by challenging old businessmen. When you enter a challenge, you actually get to play the old games. I was inspired by the Nintendo Wii’s virtual console, where every old school game is readily available for download. Why couldn’t The Wizard game be designed so you can draw from that collection when entering a challenge? And to add a bit of excitement to the old games, you’d be playing split screen with the challenger, be it the computer or a maybe even someone over wifi.

Once Corey and the gang reach California, they are entered into the Video Armageddon. Games are chosen at random so you have to be good at all 97 of them! If you can win more points than your opponent, you win the game! 50,000 wii-points will be credited to your account! Congratulations, you are a wizard.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Hurt Locker

Like most people, I didn’t see The Hurt Locker before the Oscars. And like most people, I watched The Hurt Locker the very next day. Was it Oscar-worthy? I don’t know. If I’d seen it before the Oscars, I don’t think I would have voted for it. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a fantastic movie. It’s just hard to believe Hurt Locker was better than the other 47 movies in the best picture category.

If The Hurt Locker succeeded in one thing, it’s that it opened my eyes to the chaos and terror that’s happening in Iraq. Aside from a family friend serving overseas, I haven’t really been touched by this war. In my ignorance, I picture Iraq as a big desert with some stone buildings here and there. The Hurt Locker puts everything into perspective. We see every aspect of Iraq, from the deserts, to the cities, to the small homes that look surprisingly like suburban American homes. And the crazy part is that there’s a war right outside these homes. The entire movie I just kept thinking, “Man, it’d be really crazy if Jeremy Renner was disarming a bomb in my front yard. Would I help him or just keep playing Mario?” But if you live in Iraq, that’s life.

Jeremy Renner plays Staff Sergeant William James, an expert bomb technician. He’s reckless and loves a thrill. In fact, the movie begins with a quote that explains William perfectly. “Battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug.” Williams loves running up to a bomb in the middle of crossfire, with his radio off, waving firecrackers. A typical technician goes above and beyond to ensure his own safety. Therefore, James is a cool character, and keeps the audience on their toes. Not to sound cliché, but I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire movie. James encounters other threats on several different missions that keep the movie roaring along. Each scene is more intense than the one preceding it. It’s a longer than average movie but you don’t really notice. In fact, the ending kind of comes out of nowhere and honestly I was left wanting a little more.

I don’t really know anything about battle, but The Hurt Locker feels very authentic. When William disarms a bomb, we get in close and see how he does it. But it’s not flashy, sweaty, cut-the-blue-wire kind of stuff; it’s meticulous and slow. In fact, just from watching him work, I could probably disarm a bomb myself. (So, I got that goin’ for me.) The emotions are all authentic too. William is calm but there’s something else under that cool exterior. His teammate Sergeant Sanborn is a good soldier that does everything by the book. On the outside he’s frustrated with William’s antics, but deep down he’s intrigued by his lack of fear and questions his own motivations.

The Hurt Locker is a really good movie. It's a relatively small and simple story but that's what I like about it. It's not a Band of Brothers war epic. It's more personal and thus more authentic. It’s eye-opening and pretty disturbing in parts, but remains an enjoyable movie.

4 Bombs

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...