As the high Arizona summer temps started their descent, and cooler weather began to emerge, the setting became ideal for the annual Arizona State Fair. I had not attended the fair since I was a small child, and had since spent the subsequent decades experiencing the Puyallup and other northwest fairs. The Arizona State Fair has certainly grown since I was a child and musical entertainment offered quite a variety of name acts ranging from Snoop Dogg to Billy Idol. Of course there were countless other local entertainers available throughout the run of the fair.
The midway offered plenty of popular rides including some very interesting water rides and roller coasters. Guests looking not to bust the bank may want to take advantage of the ride passes available during the week which allow guests to take in unlimited rides for a set fee which is much cheaper than paying for each ride individually, as after 4-5 rides the pass pays for itself.
Numerous food vendors adorn the midway offering a nostalgic bouquet of aromas to tantalize the senses. Everything from the traditional hot dogs and burgers to turkey legs, Mexican food, and the amazing Navajo tacos were available. But there was also an offering of many public service booths as well as interesting sideshow attraction that harken back to the best midway freak shows.
There was no shortage of vendors throughout the fair, although it did take a bit of adjustment for me as I had become so accustomed to the vendors in the Northwest. It seemed odd not to be inundated with saunas, hot tubs, and fireplaces available at special fair pricing. While at first some of the vendors seemed to be offering items typically found at a swap meet, sticking it out we were able to find a very nice mix of items available.
Of course it wouldn’t be a fair without livestock and we certainly enjoyed the great array of animals that were available for viewing in the livestock barns as well as the numerous agricultural exhibits. My wife, a new transplant to Arizona, was particularly delighted by the There was also an exhibit available for an additional cost of which allows guests to get an up close look at the marvels of the human body.
When the sun went down, the fair kicked into high gear as the lights on the midway certainly added a more festive dimension to the fair.
The Arizona State Fair was a great trip down memory lane, a chance to experience the old and new and a fun event that truly offers something for the entire family.
On episode 20, I look at all the happenings at Blizzcon 2011 as well as look at the latest Justin Timberlake movie “In Time”.
It is said that time is money and in the new film “In Time” this statement takes on an entirely new meaning. In the future we learn that humans have been genetically created to stop aging at the age of 25. Once they reach this selected age, a clock starts to count down from one year. People can obtain more time via work, stealing it from others, or being gifted more time but once their clock hits zero, they expire or “Time Out” as it is called.
As the film opens, we are introduced to Will Salas (Justin Timberlake), a man who is three years past twenty five who lives at home with his mother (Olivia Wilde). Will starts each day with barely enough time on his clock for another day, so he dutifully heads off to work each day to earn more time. As does his mother and everyone he knows since workers are paid at the end of their shifts by having more time added to their accounts. Many need to work daily in order to see the next day. To stop working is to die and since everything from food to rent and clothing is paid for in time from an individual’s account, they often have to make the choice between a transaction or more hours of life.
One evening after work, Will encounters a man named Henry (Matt Bomer), with over 100 years remaining on his clock and cautions the man that in this area he is likely to attract thieves. Will’s warnings go unheeded and soon a group of thugs arrive forcing Will to whisk the man away to safety. During their night in hiding, the man tells Will that after living for over a century, he is tired of the way the system is and how the rich can live forever while the working poor suffer just to live another day.
Will awakens the next morning to find the man gone and that his clock has now been credited the 100 years. Will locates the man just in time to watch him time out with a smile as he watches the sun rise. Flush with new wealth, Will plans to move his mother out of the slums and into a better life but when tragedy strikes, Will decides to move to where the wealth is as to take them for all he can.
Will soon finds himself in a high stakes card game at a casino and in a desperate move finds himself wealthier than he ever imagined. His actions impress very wealthy banking magnet Philippie Weiss (Vincent Kartheiser), who introduces him to his daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried). Will and Sylvia hit it off as she is intrigued by someone who came into money rather than being born with it and imagines what life would be like with some excitement.
Will and Sylvia soon have their worlds turned upside down when Will is suspected in the death of Henry and find themselves on the run from a Timekeeper named Raymond (Cillian Murphy), who wants to bring Will to justice. In a rapid series of events, Will and Sylvia must contend with Raymond, criminals, and a series of unsavory characters to regain their lost time before it is to late so they can implement their master plan to truly make a difference.
The film has some great social commentary and a great cast but is hindered by trying to be too many things. It works well as a science fiction film with elements of action and romance. Sadly the film goes off course by having Will and Sylvia act as a modern day Robin Hood duo taking on the powers-that-be to save the downtrodden masses. While it is a noble effort it derailed the momentum of the story as much of the tension and mystery of the story was lost. If one is wanted by thugs and the authorities, I would think that knocking over one high profile time bank after another would not be the way to keep a low profile.
That being said, despite the flaws, the film works and I found myself thinking about the characters and the setting they lived in days after the I screened the film. I had been concerned that the film would be nothing more than a knockoff of “Logan’s Run” but thankfully the film had enough new content to keep it fresh and interesting. In many ways, “In Time” is science fiction at its best as it allows for timely social commentary and provides a disturbing look at many age old debates on society’s endless quests for wealth, power, and youth.
3.5 stars out of 5.
For those unfamiliar with Hunter S. Thompson’s work (as I am), you may not recognize that this movie is based on his book of the same title, first published in 1998. Hunter S. Thompson is the same author who gave us the novel for which the film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was based on.
The Rum Diary follows Paul Kemp (played by Johnny Depp), a failed novelist turn journalist, who finds himself at a critical turning point in his life. Having written two and a half novels that were never published, he was having trouble finding his voice, in that he needed to find a way to “write like him” as Paul put it himself. So he decides to do some freelance writing for a small publication located in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1960.
The movie opens with Kemp waking up in a hotel, and you can immediately, and clearly, see that he partakes in certain pleasures of life. After reporting to work at San Juan Star, Kemp meets Sala (played by Michael Rispoli), the photographer for the Star who quickly becomes his cohort. The editor-in-chief of the San Juan Star, Lotterman (played by Richard Jenkins) indicates to Kemp that the publication is only a few months away from being closed down, and that there really isn’t much to look forward to. He assigns Kemp to do some fluff pieces and the horoscope section of the paper.
Kemp is not content with this as he is looking at this experience as a way to put his career back on track. Over the next few days, during his adventures with Sala, he comes across a few different story ideas that are immediately shot down by Lotterman, as they emphasize the things that are wrong with San Juan, and Lotterman feels that the focus should be on the good things (like bowling alleys).
During one of his nights of boozing, he meets Chenault (played by Amber Heard). She’s aloof, mysterious, and of course… Kemp falls immediately in love with her. She just happens to be the girlfriend of Sanderson (played by Aaron Eckhart). Sanderson immediately recognizes the talents that Kemp has and begins recruiting him for a real estate scam. The idea is to get a foothold and build a new hotel on a private island that is used for United States military testing, but will soon be relinquished from that purpose. Sanderson and a group of investors want Kemp to put a brilliant positive spin on the hotel investment so that the public opinion, and that of those in a position to block the development, is a positive one.
Things begin to unravel as Kemp and Sala’s shenanigans keep getting them into trouble, culminating in a heated night where Kemp, Sala, Chenault and Sanderson end up at a bar during the St. Thomas Carnival.
The Rum Diary was highly entertaining with a great supporting cast. Giovani Ribisi provides an excellent distraction from some of the more serious events of the movie as he appears every now and then as Moburg, another reporter for the San Juan Star. The movie played like a great alcohol-induced, drug-fueled adventures of a journalist in the 1960s. Definitely some quirky moments, and you will find yourself laughing at many of Kemp and Sala’s exploits.
My only gripe with the movie is how it ended. The build up to Kemp printing the story and putting it out there leaves you wanting more. While I don’t think the film will reach the same cult-status that Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas will, it is definitely entertaining (all the way until the end). It is a good nod to Thompson and fans of his books and movie adaptations are sure to enjoy.
3 stars out of 5.
Long before he met Shrek and became an outlaw, the always charismatic Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) was a well-loved crime fighter in his hometown of San Ricardo. This movie tells the story of how he ended up running from the law in the first place. Flashback to his kitten days, Puss was raised in an orphanage where he becomes best friends with Humpty Dumpty (Zack Galifianakis). Together, the two dream of stealing some magic beans, climbing a beanstalk to retrieve some golden eggs so they can be rich and live happily ever after. To Humpty’s chagrin, Puss loses focus on the dream and spends most of his time fighting crime and keeping the peace. Humpty sets Puss up when he attempts to rob the local bank and Puss ends up being the fall guy for his devious operation thus becoming an outlaw and banishing himself from his family and his home.
As the story fast forwards, Puss runs into Humpty and his seductive partner in crime, Kitty Softpaws (Selma Hayek). Humpty still on his quest to find the magic beans, which are now in the hands of Jack (Billy Bob Thorton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris), he tries to once again to enlist the help of Puss. As a way of hopefully earning his honor back, by offering the golden eggs to the citizens of San Ricardo, Puss joins the two on the adventure of a lifetime.
As lovable as Puss In Boots was in the Shrek movies, I was very hesitant on whether or not devoting an entire movie to this character would work. Boy was I wrong; this movie served up some great laugh out loud moments, lots of high flying adventure as well as some entertaining fights scenes and dance sequences. This movie is “Purrfect” for the whole family to enjoy!
Thank you to Desi Javier for helping me with our coverage and for his assistance with this review.
Blizzard Entertainment has long been associated with quality games that not only set standards for gaming but also inspire legions of highly devoted fans. With titles that include Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo series and the phenomenally popular World of Warcraft, Blizzard has long been one to give the fans what they want.
Five years ago they started BlizzCon, a convention where gamers could gather to learn about, see, and play the pending projects from the company. The first convention was a smash success, every year since BlizzCon sells out very quickly, because fans know it is more than a convention, it is a two-day party complete with rock concerts, and a professional gaming tournament.
This year over 26,000 fans descended upon the Anaheim convention center, many decked out in costumes dedicated to their favorite Blizzard characters. Prior to lining up, attendees get a gift bag complete with a collectable figure and many convention exclusives such as the digital pets that can only be obtained by those attending the convention or purchasing the live stream of the convention. This year’s collectible figure was a mini Tyral from Diablo III from Sideshow Collectibles and this year’s digital pet was a Diablo-inspired murloc for WoW.
Once I checked in, I took my seat and waited for the opening ceremonies to begin. Quite a bit early, I took some time to speak with several attendees about what they hoped and expected to see and hear. Many said they expected to hear about the next expansion for WoW as well as what to expect in Diablo III and Starcraft II: The Heart of the Swarm.
Once the show started, the president of the company summarized 20 years of Blizzard and talked about the $300K tournament that would happen that weekend, the Foo Fighters concert, Jay Mohr’s return as host, and many other topics. Since the fans were there to see and hear about games, the video screens came alive with a new trailer from the pending Diablo III which underscores the amazing graphics and deep nature of the game and its story. Starcraft II: The Heart of the Swarm followed which showed off a darker storyline and several new units and a Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) multiplayer mode complete with several classic Blizzard characters.
WoW was what many came to hear about, and they were not disappointed. The unveiling of the new add-on was preceded with the news that players who purchase a 12 month advance pass would also get an exclusive in-game mount, access to the expansion beta, and a copy of Diablo III.
The new expansion Shadows of Pandaria was announced to a thunderous ovation. Shadows of Pandaria will follow all-out war between the Horde and Alliance in a land of peace and tranquility that is populated by the Pandarians. The Pandarians are panda-like creatures who are a Monk class as well as master brewers and martial arts experts. It was also announced that pet versus pet combat will be allowed.
Following the opening ceremonies guests were able to get hands-on time with the new expansion as well as the other pending games. I took the time to explore the convention floor and talk with many of the vendors and checked out the Blizzard-themed products as well as the latest in tech accessories promoted to enhance the gaming experience.
Blizzard knows how difficult it can be to cover all the panels available. When I went to the press room to upload pictures and videos I was happy to see several TV screens that allowed us to see catch panels in session, while we worked and waited for interview appointments or the next panel.
The finale concert by The Foo Fighters capped a great weekend filled with gaming, fun, and music, and underscored that Blizzard really cares about their fans and is dedicated to giving them more of what they love. I had a great time at the convention and while I obtained lots of information, I was disappointed that I did not get any new information on the Warcraft movie or the new MMORPG called Titan. Still for fans of Blizzard, the weekend long party was an event not to be missed and I look forward to seeing what they have in store for us in 2012.
With fall upon us, Mickey and his friends have gotten into the Halloween spirit on select nights at the Disneyland Resort. Mickey’s Halloween Party is an event that turns the happiest place on earth into the ultimate Halloween event that the entire family can enjoy.
Attendees are required to purchase a special ticket to the event as the park closes to regular ticket holders at 7:00 PM. Those who purchase tickets to the event can enter the park at 4:00 PM and stay until the park closes at Midnight. Upon entering the park, guests are given a trick or treat bag and a wristband and a map and schedule of activities. Many of the guests were attired in costumes and I was really impressed with the complexity and creativeness of many of the costumes that I saw as many were homemade.
I started my visit at Space Mountain as I wanted to experience the Halloween-themed Galaxy of Terror. The sign said the wait would be 70 minutes so I decided to do it now in case it was longer later in the evening. The wait turned out to be just over two hours but when I finally made it to the ride, I really enjoyed the experience. The multi-colored launch tube was now pitch black, and the familiar constellations were marred by a menacing spectral image who appeared at random times and taunted us as we made our way up the tracks. During the wild and crazy twists and turns the image would pop up at various times as did hands that reached out to grab us, and a spooky eye that watched us as we raced around a corner. The screams that filled the air confirmed that the experience was highly effective.
Next I made my way to Critter Country and while I was disappointed to see that Pirates of the Carribean was closed for upkeep, Splash Mountain had a short line. In no time, I was enjoying the mix of music, water, drops and characters. Upon completion of the ride, I was asked if I wanted to ride again, and when I replied yes, I was told to stay seated and enjoy “Splashback”. When the ride resumed I noticed a few pumpkins were now decorating various sections of the ride.
I did manage to avoid becoming completely soaked, and upon exiting the ride, the Halloween events were just getting started. I noticed several lines where guests would line up to get treats from various stations and once my writstband was verified I was able to join them. At various points in the resort, I would go into locales such as the Saloon, Picnic area, Pirates of the Caribbean entrance and had my bag filled over the evening.
The line for the Haunted Mansion was vast as the décor now featured Jack Skellington from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and the house was decked out in lights and gifts and was a truly spectacular sight. The ride itself was a nice blend of old and new with many of the traditional moments of the ride still there, just with some nice twists and appearances from Jack himself.
The river was covered in fog and lighting and really set the atmosphere well. I noticed a dance party with characters was underway near my next stop Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The wait said 10 minutes but I walked right up and took my place in lucky line number 13. In no time, we were in the dark start of the ride where I noticed bats glowing red eyes as well as cobwebs and spiders to set the Halloween mood. The ride was as amazing as ever and the turns through the dark caves were a real delight.
The party was just getting started as I noticed Mickey and Minnie in costumes posing for pictures with the guests, and as I made my way through Fantasyland into Tomorrowland, I continued to load up my treat bag and take in the amazing sights.
I was very happy to see that the Matterhorn was up and running again as it had been closed for renovations during my last visit. I did not notice a lot of changes in the ride so my guess is that the upgrades were tech related but it was still an amazing experience.
The Tomorrowland Terrace was rocking with music and dancing and I took the time to check out a few more attractions. I saw everything from Storm Troopers to classic Disney characters entertaining the guests and then took in the really impressive Halloween parade that had a great mix of characters, floats, music and dancing.
Not content to rest there, Disneyland then kicked the party into high gear with a dazzling fireworks display that was truly a sight to behold. With a couple hours left in the evening, I was happy to see that many of the attraction lines were less than 15 minutes long so I took the chance to experience as much as I could.
When the evening concluded I was blown away by not only the great time that I had but how detailed the decorations and events were. There were so many events that I could not take them all in, but what I did experience was more than amazing and makes me look forward to attending what I hope is a new annual tradition for us next year.
Disneyland has always been a very magical place for me and I have always noted how they do seasonal celebrations better than anyone. The amazing attention to detail, the lighting, the fantasy, and décor truly create a sense of the holiday. I loved taking in the Halloween décor, especially the character inspired pumpkin décor, the new lighting effects. All of the amazing sights and sounds make this a must see. If you think you have seen all that Disneyland has to offer I highly encourage you to bring your family and friends to experience the most fun Halloween party you will ever attend. I suggest you get your tickets in advance as they do sell out quickly. Get dates and ticket information at www.disneyland.com.
One of the nice things about opening our new office in Arizona is getting to experience many new regional events. With the first fall season for Skewed and Reviewed’s Southwest office upon us, we decided to have a look at some of the local haunted houses.
We started with Chambers of Fearin the city of Surprise. Chambers of Fear has won many Top Haunts awards and was voted the best in Arizona for 2010 by the Arizona Republic. Housed in a vacant retail space, at first it was deceptively tame as we made our way through the black plywood mazes, causing me to wonder what made this attraction stand out from the others. But as we came to the middle of the maze, it was clear why, as elaborate lighting and monsters appeared out of nowhere getting in your face and bumping you along the paths.
I liked one section where we turned into a darkened corridor and a blast of gunfire and light erupt from overhead before we were plunged into total darkness. As we went along, the intensity grew as we were sprayed with water and harassed by a series of deranged characters and immersed in elaborate sets. The event concluded with a finale that unhinged one guest so much that she ran across the parking lot in a full sprint to get away.
Our next stop for the evening was Jack and Jill’s Haunted Hill in Phoenix. Located in a residential area, the attraction opens with a news report about two missing individuals named Jack and Jill who were last seen in the area. The setting resembles a dark mine shaft. As we navigated the dark and narrow halls, we were menaced by some creepy individuals who occupied the locale. At one stop, we encountered Jack who was confined to an elaborate machine which was pulling him apart. The mix of live action and effects was very impressive as were the rooms that followed. As we made our way along we discovered more about what happened to the missing people and this culminated in a cold meatlocker-like room full of hanging body bags some of which felt like there were living individuals within them. I was really impressed with their use of the dark, unpredictable and narrow setting of a mine as well as the great effects and creepy cold room.
The final stop for us was The Nest at Rawhide. The attraction has been featured on MSN, Good Morning America, and has been rated one of the best haunts in the country. The Nest is on the grounds of Rawhide, a popular Wild West town,that transforms into Doomtown for Halloween. The streets of Doomtown have everything from a Headless Horsemen to other spooks and attractions ranging from stunt shows, zombie paintball, psychic readings, petting zoo, stagecoach and train rides, as well as all manner of shops and places to eat.
Upon entering The Nest we made our way through what at first seemed to be a normal haunted house. I was impressed with the sets and the makeup of the characters and was surprised when I was handed a pair of 3D glasses soon after entering. The 3D section was great as the paint on the walls and actors truly came out at us, and squares on the floor appeared to hover before us.
An early highlight was a spinning tunnel which truly came alive in 3D. When we emerged and returned our glasses, we were ushered into a new section which as a very narrow and pitch black maze. The setting was so dark you could not see your hand in front of your face and only screams, a heartbeat, gunfire, and random noise erupting at random times guided you in the right direction. It was a very long maze and took a while to navigate which we had to do by touching walls and feeling our way along. At random times a creature would emerge out of a hidden area and we had to squeeze through one section in a very unnerving fashion. When we finally made our way through the maze, we entered the third house which consisted of redneck cannibals. The sets, costumes, and makeup looked like they were straight out of Hollywood and the random events truly had people on edge. From homes to a trailer park as well as a very impressive butcher shop this was the most elaborate and detailed house I have ever experienced. The actors would come right up to your face and do their worst in order to truly get you into the setting.
When we emerged my wife and I agreed that that was one of the best haunted houses we had ever experienced, comparable to ones set up at higher-priced venues like Knotts in Anaheim, California. It truly had the best mix of everything with actors and sets that really allowed you to become immersed in the scary settings.
Every year for one weekend only in October The Puyallup Parks and Recreation puts on a great haunted attraction which in the past has been made into a haunted hayride and was always a huge hit. This year to top it off they came up with the perfect idea and a great scare. This years event was held at the Memorial Center and was limited to 700 tickets each night.
The haunted mansion starts out just like a storybook with a beginning a middle and an end not like some of the other haunts out there that are just all jumbled and make no sense. The basis of the story is that the house guests are about to embark on an open house tour and you the guest are the potential buyers. Each room pays homage to classic scenes and characters from the past.They certainly did a faboulouse job of scaring me with my three worst fears The Exsorcist, Chucky and clowns. The only thing I would change if I could would be that it would be a longer running event to last throughout the Halloween season and not just limited to four days out of the season.
We thank the Puyallup Parks and Recreation for allowing us to experience this years haunt and recomend it in the future for those of you who like to be scared.
7 out of 10 Bones
This week I talk about “The Thing”, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, Forza Motorsport 4, Spider-man: Edge of Time, Ico and Shadows of the Colossus, and The Forza 4 Playseat
After the success of a videogame based on the original film, rumors of a sequel arose many times but never came to fruition, with creative differences between Universal and John Carpenter cited as the main reason. It was oft-speculated that Carpenter made a deal to write and produce a sequel provided he got to name has director. But when he opted to name himself director the studio balked and the project fell apart. In the aftermath, rumors of a miniseries on the SyfY channel arose along with the possibility of retelling the story with 20-somethings on a tropical island but (thankfully) they never saw the light of day.
Rather than do a sequel or remake, Universal opted to jump start the franchise with a prequel that covers the events leading up to the John Carpenter film. It is set in 1982 at a Norwegian research station in Antarctica shortly before the scientists make an amazing discovery. When they uncover an alien craft that had been buried in the ice for over 100,000 years, as well as a frozen crewmember from the craft, they quickly celebrate the scientific discovery of a lifetime.
Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), is recruited by a famed scientist to travel to the desolate continent to research the find. Told only that they are about to research an amazing discovery, Kate and a team of specialists arrive and are absolutely stunned by the magnitude of their discovery. Kate urges caution but is overridden by the expedition leader Dr. Halvorsan (Ulrich Thomsen), who insists on taking a tissue sample of the frozen creature encassed in a block of ice.
Later that evening while celebrating, the very much alive creature escapes from its icy prison and begins to systematically hunt the members of the research team. The creature is eventually trapped and burned which causes some consternation over the loss of the creature for further scientific study, but many in the camp applaud its loss after seeing firsthand the destruction it is capable of.
After a bizarre series of events, Kate makes the startling discovery that the cells of the creature are able to imitate and perfectly replicate any thing that it comes in contact with. As a result, not only is the creature very much alive, but the individuals in the camp may no longer be human. Trapped in a remote location with an advancing winter storm, suspicions and paranoia go through the roof as the survivors are pitted against one another, unsure of who is still human. What follows is a high-octane adventure awash in action and grisly special-effects as the two species are locked in the ultimate battle for survival.
The film has a good supporting cast and Joel Edgerton does solid supporting work as an American helicopter pilot assigned to the camp. Eric Christian Olsen provides a steadying presence as a research assistant but his character is not as developed as it could be. It is known that he and Kate know each other but their past history is undefined which makes their relationship a bit puzzling in the film especially when the survivors begin to pick sides.
While the movie is not going to make fans forget the original, it is a very worthy companion piece. As the film was winding down I found myself checking off a couple of inconsistencies with the original film, but was very pleasantly surprised when this was all explained during the end credits which perfectly synced the end of this film with the opening of John Carpenter’s classic.
In many ways the weakness of film is due to the success of John Carpenter’s previous film, in that the creature is not that much of a mystery this time around. Part of the suspense of the previous film was not knowing how the creature operated nor how it was capable of infecting and replicating numerous individuals.
This time around the suspense is lost due to the familiarity with the creature. As a result, director Matthijs van Heijningen focused his efforts on a more action adventure oriented film that gave very little time for character development. We are not told very much about many of the characters in the film as they simply exist to serve as potential victims for the creature. All one really needs to know is they are scientists or support staff as aside from a handful of characters we’re not really given much reason to care whether they survive.
Visually the film is sharp and it is clear that a lot of attention was paid to replicate the look of the previous film. The shots of vast fields of ice and snow emphasized the remote and isolated setting that the characters find themselves in and served as a reminder that danger lurks all around. The special-effects have obviously been upgraded since 1982 and it was nice to see that the creative elements did not go overboard on CGI effects, and actually used puppetry and animatronics to provide updated creature effects that were still in keeping with the look and tone from the previous film.
While the film is not likely to reach the iconic status of the previous film, it is still a worthy companion piece that has enough action and effects to keep it interesting to fans of the series – just so long as they keep their expectations reasonable and do not expect a film on par with the previous one.
3 stars out of 5
Public dancing is against the law in the small religious town of Bomont. But Boston-raised teenager, Ren McCormack and the Reverend’s daughter Ariel have other ideas in this remake of the 1984 classic.
The original “Footloose” requires a 1980s mindset and was successful partially due the disjointed storytelling of teen films during that era. Up until now it could be said that there is no “Footloose” without Kevin Bacon. But surprise! The remake is so good that you may need to step back.
The cast is more polished than the original, particularly in lead female role of Ariel Moore brought back to the screen by Julianne Hough. Hough’s performance is more engaging than that of the original portrayal by Lori Singer. Taking the reigns of the role that made Kevin Bacon famous is Kenny Wormald as city boy Ren. Wormald wears the role with charm and the required “Footloose” too-cool-for-school style.
Reverend Shaw Moore, now played by Dennis Quaid, is far more emotional than the original depiction of the character first played by a John Lithgow. However, the same cannot be said for his wife, Vi Moore, with a disappointing performance from Andy McDowell. This is balanced however by the truly enjoyable portrayal of Ren’s best friend Willard by the well-timed comedy of Miles Teller.
Yes, there were cheesy moments. There was even a sunset so over the top that it may remind you Star Wars buffs of a certain lengthy romance scene in Episode Two. And yes, more than one of the reanimated lines from the classic film was forced. But the flubs were few and far between as this “Footloose” remake manages to succeed in many places where the original could have been improved.
The explanation of tragedy that originally befell Bomont has been extended, giving the town’s anti-dance perspective a little more sway. And this time around “Footloose” directly addresses a number of the small town versus big city stereotypes with strong dual sided humor.
The new “Footloose” still has less dancing then you want from a film entirely about dance, but when it does occur the style is much more diverse, ranging from hip hop to that famous “Footloose” country. There were things missed from the original; particularly the precision of Bacon’s solo dance scene, but this remake honors the impact of the original while standing on its own.
Now where do you buy a pair of red cowboy boots?!
We open season 2 with a look at an area Haunted House as well as upcoming video games with a horror theme.
Recently I got to speak with Jon Jacob at Neverdie Studios about their new free to play, MMORPG Hunt The Thing. The game is based on the movie due in theaters October 14th. I want to thank Jon and Brandon for arranging the interview.
How did the idea for the game come about and what is the background and setting for the game and how close does it follow the new and previous film?
We were discussing with Universal the possibility of using ROCKtropia as a backdrop for Movie length MMO’s and The THING stood out as a perfect fit. Our Platform Entropia universe features the Cryengine2 which is an amzing graphics engine for creating stunning Landscapes and the Antarctic is such a powerful setting. We chose to draw our inspiration primarily from both John Carpenters’ The THING and the upcoming prequal, but our story is set on our Virtual World ROCKtropia which exists in a parallel Universe so we are not Locked into the specific storylines of the movie.
Is it opened ended or story-based gameplay?
The main adventure is story based, you are recruited to hunt down The THING, it’s a very tight adventure that can be completed in a couple of hours if your good, perhaps longer if you don’t watch your back. But once you have completed the initial story, you can take on tougher challenges in an open ended scenario.
What sort of graphics engine is the game using and what does it allow players to do that is new to the genre?
The Cryengine2 is a superb engine and with destructibles and new audio elements we are really bringing a solid FPS feel to the MMO genre, the initial reaction to Hunt The THING from the ROCKtropia player base has been overwhelmingly positive, I think that for those gamers that love FPS games like Crysis, the delights of an MMO like ROCKtropia may have just become more tempting,
How will players gain experience and level?
Almost every action you take in Hunt The THING gives you experience, all of which has an impact on your Professional levels, so you can expect to gain a fair amount of combat and healing skills on this adventure!
How will player deaths be handled in the game?
When You die you revive at the nearest revival terminal which typically puts you back along the path, you don’t actually lose any experience but you may have wasted some valuable ammo.
How will missions and tasks be assigned?
The moment you enter Hunt The THING you are given the choice between two Mission paths Soldier or Scientist, from there you will be given the next mission all the way to the conclusion.
How is player vs. player going to be handled?
Well since this is a free to play adventure inside an MMO with a micro transaction economy, you need to be super careful with Your free Ammo, if you blow too much, then you are going to have to visit the Supply Dump and try to pick up enough free oil barrels to trade for ammo, but the supply dump is a PVP combat Zone, so You are gonna have to fight for it. When you are ready for your final showdown with The THING, you are also going to be in a PVP combat zone so you are going to need to make alliances to survive.
How is leveling and new powers dealt with in game?
If you are lucky you may Loot a powerful weapon from one of the Mobs, if it is too powerful for you to use, you can either sell it to another player or you can start skilling up to get the maximum effect. After you complete Hunt The THING you can acquire some SIB Weapons (Skill increase Bonus) to train with. But you don’t have to go through any grinding to Complete Hunt The THING. That is purely optional if you decide you want to enter expert mode or explore ROCKtropia or the rest of the Universe.
The scope of the game sounds amazing. What are some of the biggest obstacles you see in creating the game, and what are your biggest goals for the game?
Our biggest challenge was to have the game have the same vibe as the film, so far the feedback on that level has been very positive. The other great challenge was to balance the game so that new users and experienced ROCKtropia players could enjoy it equally.
How is combat handled in game and what weapons will players be able to use?
Its an FPS style combat System and the missions reward you with automatic weapons and of course a prized Flamethrower and if you get infected by The THING you will grow a tentacle! There are also Very Powerful and valuable Weapons you can loot as prizes.
Do you plan guilds and commerce?
Yes You can Join Gangs, Guilds, Groups, companies, no doubt you will meet people ready to enlist you as soon as you arrive and the commerce system is simply mind blowing, go check out the in world auction when you reach the 3rd base camp, there is an enormous amount of player 2 player trade, with plenty of opportunity to make money.
Get in on the action at Hunt The THING
What a packed segment! We cover RAGE, Dark Souls, Red Orchestra 2 Heroes of Stalingrad, X-Men Destiny, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and The Green Lantern DVDs, New tech, and mention Diablo 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, and more.
Boxing movies have been a staple of Hollywood for decades. Some of the earliest celluloid offerings documented pugilistic bouts in films such as Raging Bull, The Fighter, and the iconic Rocky series and helped boxing cement itself in both popular and cinematic culture.
In the film “Real Steel”, Hugh Jackman plays Charlie Kenton, a down-on-his-luck promoter whose best days are definitely behind him. In the near-future setting of the film, robots have replaced humans in the boxing ring and Charlie is constantly and desperately looking for the next big thing to help him claim a little fame and a lot of fortune.
Following the loss of his fighting robot, Charlie is summoned to Texas after the passing of his ex-girlfriend, the mother of his son. Charlie is eager to sign over the guardianship of his son, Max, to Max’s aunt, but after noticing her wealthy husband, decides to take advantage of the situation. Charlie makes a deal to sign over the guardianship of his son Max, (Dakota Goyo) in exchange for a large sum of money which he plans to use to get back into the robot fighting game. The catch for Charlie is that he must watch Max for the summer so Max’s future parents can take a planned trip to Italy.
Max is quickly thrown into the robot-fighting world when he forces his dad to take him along to a bout. Unfortunately, it’s yet another painful loss for Charlie and their first father-son trip ends with them scouring a junkyard for robot replacement parts. It’s Max who literally stumbles across an old robot and becomes convinced that the discarded machine could become a champion given the right conditions. Despite his misgivings, Charlie agrees to train the robot and in doing so gets to reconnect with his estranged son. Charlie is given a shot at redemption when Max’s robot becomes a fighting success and starts to advance through the rankings.
Naturally with increased success comes increased expectations and risks for Charlie and Max’s robot. There are numerous people looking for them to fail, as there is no way that a washed up boxer with a kid and an outdated machine can take on the machines of the professional circuit. Predictably, but still grippingly so, the outdated robot, named Atom, makes his way from seedy fighting pits to upscale arenas. Eventually the Atom team is given a shot at the big time which, as fans of sports films know, is destined to end with a climactic bout with the larger-than-life champion.
What sets “Real Steel” apart from other CGI laden action films is the human element and emotional connections you make with the characters, and even the blue-eyed junkyard robot itself. Although Atom is a CGI construct of a machine, you find yourself pulling for this unlikely underdog just as much its flesh and blood costars. The action sequences are intense and amazing to look at but never overshadow the underlying storyline of love and redemption.
Jackman gives a believable performance as a seemingly callous individual with no redeeming qualities. (Remember, he essentially sold his son). Evangaline Lily, is solid and likeable in a supporting role as Charlie’s old friend and former love interest. Goyo, fresh off his work playing the younger Thor in this past summer’s blockbuster, does a remarkable job in what is likely his breakout role. He has the spunky innocence of youth with a maturity that I had not seen in any young actor since Haley Joel Osment in the Sixth Sense.
“Real Steel” may not be the most original film, as aside from the robots this is a boxing tale that is been told many times before. I definitely saw lots of elements of the original Rocky but still found the film extremely enjoyable and entertaining as well as one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. It is rumored that a sequel is already in production and I actually hope that this is the case. This is one story I certainly wouldn’t mind going a few extra rounds with.
4 stars out of 5
BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts, and Dark Horse Comics announced today a special edition of Mass Effect: Invasion #1, the first installment in a series of comic books detailing the events following Commander Shepard’s epic journey in the critically acclaimed Action Role Playing Game, Mass Effect™ 2. The special edition of Mass Effect: Invasion #1 features brand new cover art designed by the Mass Effect team and signed exclusively by Mass Effect Lead Writer, Mac Walters. The special edition will be available in a limited run only at New York Comic Con, New York City’s premiere comic book convention, from October 13th – 16th.
The Mass Effect: Invasion series features a unique story by Mass Effect lead writer Mac Walters, an original script by John Jackson Miller, best known for his work on Star Wars: Knight Errant, and artist Omar Francia known for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2. Mass Effect: Invasion focuses on a story arc featuring a key figure in the Mass Effect universe, Aria T’Loak. The self-appointed queen of Omega, a seedy space station catering to the galaxy’s underworld, T’Loak must defend her territory from a terrifying new threat unleashed by a pro-human organization called Cerberus. Mass Effect: Invasion will launch its first issue this October.
Mass Effect: Invasion #1 will be available at comic book retailers starting October 19, 2011.