Okay, so this was just shared with me by the infamous Mr. Gallagher. It’s a 360 degree immersion tent for Battlefield 3, via what I’m guessing is the Top Gear of gadget shows over in the UK. Despite some tracking issues, this is actually pretty amazing. Imagine this in your living room. Think about the possibilities, and try to ignore the overly excited redcoats as they narrate.
While in my parent’s kitchen the other day we somehow got on the topic of shows I wasn’t allowed to watch as a kid. “The Simpsons,” and “Beavis and Butthead” ranked amongst the word offenders that my naive young eyes weren’t permitted to view. Recently, MTV has brought Beavis and Butthead back to our televisions, and one of the videos (a very well produced one at that) that the two were watching on their couch got me curious as to what a different generation would think of this music called “dubstep.”
Not surprisingly, the padre thought it was too “weird” and “manufactured,” like “something you would make on a …” as he began to mimic some sort of electric board or COMPUTER. He continued with “It doesn’t make me feel anything. It just seems like this stuff strung together. It doesn’t soothe me, get me excited, or anything.” I found this last part to be a bit shocking. I’m not a huge techno-head or anything of the sort, but this type of music can definitely get my blood pumping for the shear intensity of the notes and beats. Obviously, we have some generational differences. Where it comes from lies in the form of video games.
What I’m trying to say, is that there is an obvious reason why the generation who was raised on Nintendo’s 8-bit musical scores is churning out music such as this. Let’s take a game with one of the best scores of its time, Chrono Trigger. The fast-pace, and quick tempo of the song could very easily translate to some modern day dubstep music. Thematically, it did. This type of music wasn’t strange to people in our age group. It didn’t feel unnatural, or manufactured, or lack a sense of feeling. Music like this is what we were programmed to react to.
Now, I’m not saying that when you hear a Skrillex mix you’ll immediately start having flashbacks to Super Metroid or trying to beat Protoman like some sort of acid junky. Not at all. What could sound alien and like a random collection of noise to someone unfamiliar with electric music, could be the most relaxing, or energetic sound imaginable to those who are acclimated with it. Obviously, not everyone in my generation is into dubstep, and you probably wont catch me with some ironic glasses at one of the shows anytime soon. Yet, there is something undeniably fundamental and entertaining about seeing a genre of music age as we do.
One phrase you’ll hear about Hollywood these days (a lot) is that they are fresh out of new ideas. Where are the new Star Wars, Chinatowns, Citizen Kanes, and Indiana Jones? Why are we bombarded by remakes, prequels, and sequels? Have you seen a little trailer about dancing, fist fights, and explosions (“Footloose”)? Heard about the North Korean invasion of the United States on a modern remake of “Red Dawn?”
How about the news that Akira, a water-shed anime for Western audiences, has just been greenlit to begin production. There are a few changes being made. One, is that they are no longer in “New Tokoyo,” which was devestated by the title character years before the story takes place. They are now in “New … New York?” And instead of the main characters being in a motorcycle gang made up of fifteen year olds, they are now closer in age to 30. The fanboys are upset, to put it mildly.
Another type of Hollywood adaptation we’ve seen is the comic-to-film transition. This would seem a simple enough formula, from a business perspective, that is. As Jerry Seinfeld put it, “Batman, Superman, Spiderman … these aren’t fantasies … these are options!” Every person on the planet would like to have superpowers of some sort, you’re lying if you say you don’t. So drawing people to a box office shouldn’t be difficult, right? If you’re reading this you know that isn’t the case. Let’s examine a film that I couldn’t figure out how it ever got greenlit in the first place.
“Fantastic Four.” Really? The Partridge Family of superhero teams? Look at their lame-ass powers! The leader is smart, and can stretch. When describing your ultimate super power between your friends at the lunch-room table (in between talks about sports and cars I’m sure) you would be laughed out of the nerd table. And from there it’s the weird kids who grew up to be geniuses and WAY more successful than you’d ever imagined. Then there is the Human Torch. I’m not sure many people’s first thought in the way of awesome powers would be to burst into flames. Sure, he doesn’t die, but anyone standing around him would be fried pretty badly. No rescuing a person falling out of a building or anything like that. Then there is the woman who can make force fields and go invisible. Yawn. Finally, there is Ben Grimm, who got ugly and rock-like, yet somehow retains mobility and blood function. Not to mention a severe lack of vitamin D.
The X-Men did very well at the box office, as did Spider-Man, so why not make another Marvel franchise? Because the F4 are boring, to put it simply. No one cares, they’re just boring.
More recently we’ve seen the videogame-to-film transition, with the likes of “Prince of Persia,” “Max Payne,” and then the historically atrocious “Super Mario Brothers.” PoP wasn’t the worst film ever made, but Payne seemed like the director (who made the entertaining but underwhelming “Behind Enemy Lines”) never even looked at the source material. If you haven’t seen it, don’t bother, it’s really not worth sitting through. Gamers always put the hopes and dreams crushed by the last game-film on the shoulders of the next. So, could “Assassin’s Creed” finally be that film to break the curse? Definitely an interesting and action packed conspiracy narrative happening in the players hands, but will that translate onto the screen well? Can there be any redemption for all the fallen franchises before?
You’ve seen it. That movie trailer or commercial with the face of the actor you’ve seen in thousands (MILLIONS) of terrible movies before this new crap sitting before you. As you sit there, contemplating the skills of whatever agent this person might have, you might wonder, “How does this guy keep getting work?!” None of their movies do well, you’ve never gone out of your way to see a movie they’re in for the past seven years (or ever), yet they still keep trying to remain relevant in a movie world that has moved beyond them. Well, here is a list of some of the worst offenders, whose mere presence in a film can be a herring of disaster. Some of the folks on the list were once icons. Now, forced into cinematic limbo.
I know this guy just got the role of replacing a drug addict on a sitcom, so he’s a bit of a hot topic at the moment. But … why? Let’s take a look at his list of films before he went the David Caruso route. “No Strings Attached.” If you were one of the 4 people who saw this movie feel free to comment on his performance. “Killers.” Another failed rom-com with Katherine Heigel, who seems to be making a career out of playing the same girl in every film, and recently the subject of discussion by her biggest fan, Soren Bowie. Then he did “Valentine’s Day,” which was another film trying to capitalize on the intertwining-love-stories that were so successful in “Love Actually.” “VD” was as bad as the acronym I just gave it. Two more I never even heard of, followed by “What Happens in Vegas.” He was essentially playing a contemporary version of his character from “That 70’s Show,” which required him to become about as fleshed out as construction paper, and carry an acting range from stupid to horny. Oh wait, I think I just realize why he was cast in “Two and a Half Men.”
4) Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves is famous for being a bad actor. It’s hard to sympathize with him for it considering Hollywood is also full of actresses that are famous for their boobs (Scarlett Johansson, Christina Hendricks) who happen to be decent actors in their own. So when you see a trailer for a film and his face pops up, you immediately think, “Yup, skipping that one.” I’m not saying all of his movies are terrible. “Point Break” will make me drop whatever it is that I’m doing (pretending to be Batman in my bathroom) and sit for the entirety of the film. “The Matrix” I must have seen about 27 times when it was about the only DvD in print at the time. “Bill and Ted” is a classic from my childhood that will always hold special value. Yet, now he is to that point where he just isn’t relevant anymore as either a sex-symbol, action star, or actor. It was in the works that he was trying to make the “Cowboy Bebop” live-action movie (if you don’t know what it is then don’t Google it, I need you to still think I’m cool), where he would play a 27-year old space bounty hunter. The series is wonderful, but he would be horrible in that role. Now if I were to play the lead …
3) Al Pacino
Oh shut up you know I’m right. Yeah he was Michael Corleone. Yeah he was the devil with the previous name on the list. Yeah he was Serpico, Sonny Wortzik, Lt. Vincent Hanna, Carlito, I GET IT! Al Pacino is, without question, one of the best actors cinema has seen. However, his recent history seems to be erasing that reputation to a newer generation. Find a kid around the ages of 13-18, and see how much of Al Pacino they really know. They might quote you “Two For the Money.” Or “88 Minutes.” What about “Righteous Kill?” How about “The Recruit” (shut up it was terrible). Maybe a studio is hoping for an “Insomia.” Fairly recent, and a great performance was given, but it was also a Christopher Nolan movie. This is the guy who took a love torn cowboy/jousting-arena-rock-promoter, and made him one of the greatest villains of all time. Al, tell us, when are you going to start taking this stuff seriously again?
2) Adam Sandler
“Uh, but bro, he was Billy Madison!” Yeah, like, 40 years ago. Here is another actor who has made a career out of playing the same guy in every film. Even when he tried to take a comedic-serious turn in “Funny People” (thanks for nothing Mr. Apatow) he was the guy who refused to grow up. His last slew of films? “Just Go With It” was a vehicle for Brooklyn Decker’s boobs. “Grown Ups” seemed to be made because his acting buddies didn’t have anything else going on at the time (which I’m convinced is the only reason Rob Schneider can appear on film). “Funny People” wasn’t funny but it did have people in it. Blah, blah, then we get “Reign Over Me.” A horribly depressing film, which appears to have been a little too much for Sandler, so he decided to make movies that he would have fun in. I just wish we could have fun sometimes as well.
Hands down, one of the most baffling cases of an actor since Marlon Brando. I’m not saying they are equal actors, but Cage had a VERY promising career as a serious actor (see “Leaving Las Vegas) and a nice collection of films to keep him as a money-drawing action star (“Con Air,” “The Rock”, “Face Off”). Even “The Weather Man” was pretty decent, as was “Lord of War.” And in each case he seemed to be taking the roles seriously, and provide a fleshed out player for us to watch. Then there came the catalyst (WARNING : Some of the language is NSFW, but by baby-Jesus if it isn’t hilarious). Something must have happened to Cage on the film of “The Wicker Man.” Because every film since then has been terrible. He is, no doubt, the poster-child for this entire article. In “Kick-Ass” he was good, but his final scene was very reminiscent of something from “The Wicker Man.” And what happened to his side burns? Who keeps telling him that look is doing well for him? This is why I’m convinced that he has either beaten his agent into a submissive “yes-man” state, or he has become the honey badger of role selection.
*SPOILER ALERT* IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN OR READ ANY OF THE “GAME OF THRONES” EPISODES OR READ THE FIRST BOOK, DO NOT CONTINUE WITH THIS ARTICLE!! If you have, then I hope you enjoy.
What makes for good entertainment? Seriously, think about it for a second. (When you are done continue…here) In my humble opinion, it is the element of surprise. It can’t be just any surprise though, it has to be a surprise that feels natural. The fact that it could happen can be understood, but the fact that it DID happen is what really sells a shocking moment or twist. Let’s take a huge plot twist from the silver screen as an example. “The Usual Suspects” had one of the most mind blowing endings in film history. You could have had the screen on mute, and just watching Verbal Kent’s foot straighten out as he got into the car with Kobayashi (or whatever the lawyer’s real name was) was enough to flip most people out of their seats. Why? Because it was unexpected, but it was also plausible. It was a play on frame narrative (a story within a story), and you realized that what you thought was real was being fed to you by a thief. Therefore, your point of view wasn’t ever from Verbal Kent’s (which you had probably been assuming it was, seeing as how he was the “narrator”), it was from the eyes of U.S. Customs Agent Dave Kujan. We were fooled, and we loved Verbal Kent for it.
Yet, other films have tried the unexpected, and received different results. Take the film “Meet Joe Black.” In it, a younger Brad Pitt apparently has the best pick up lines in New York, and manages to seduce a (taken) Claire Forlani in a three minute time span. As he walks off into the distance, looking back at what could possibly be his one true love, he is hit by a van into a cab. It really isn’t even that dramatic either. It’s a normal looking shot, and then he gets slammed by a large vehicle. Forget about what happened to the body, or the guy who hit him, or the people who were scarred for life after witnessing it, the story progresses with Brad Pitt showing back up, no questions asked. Granted, he is now Death personified, but just stay with me for a second. This twist doesn’t come off as natural. I remember seeing it in the theater, and a handful of guys were shushed by their girlfriends for laughing when he was struck. It isn’t dramatic to watch someone get tossed around like a rag doll, hence why most people getting hit by cars aren’t shown in this type of fashion.
The aforementioned scene was missing one thing that “The Usual Suspects” definitely had, and that was the “oh shit” moment before the reveal. As you’re watching Verbal Kent walk down the street we get the overlay of interview responses and questions. You see Agent Kujan putting the names of people that Verbal had just been talking about to different scraps of paper on the bulletin board in the office. You begin to put things together as Kujan does. Granted, this is an extended “oh shit” moment because of the complexity of the set-up, but it is there none-the-less.
Where this fits into “Game of Thrones” is that GOT also has extended “oh shit” moments. You are presented with two possible outcomes and the players involved, and the decision on what happens next is usually made in that instant. With one, key change. No one is safe. Seriously, no one. In the very first episode Brandon Stark, son to the Lord of Winterfell, a talented rider and marksman with his bow and sure to be a proud addition and cool character as he grows up and … oh … what? He sees something he shouldn’t, and his 11 year old body is pushed out of a tower window to free fall to the ground below. The moment here is right before he’s pushed. You wonder the entire time what is going to happen. He catches Jaime and Cersei Lannister in a very compromising (erhem!) position, so he can’t obviously be let go. At the same time, he is a major character, one we have been following since this episode began, and the rules of television make it clear that unless it’s a series finale, main characters don’t d — yup there goes his body.
The even bigger shock was the death of (SERIOUSLY, IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED OR READ YOU SHOULD NOT READ ON, THIS IS AN AMAZING SERIES AND SHOULD BE ENJOYED BUT WHATEVER YOU’RE AN AMERICAN (or whatever) SO YOU CAN DO AS YOU PLEASE) Ned Stark. Sean Bean. Alec Trevelyan. Boromir. THE GUY ON THE FREAKIN’ POSTER! How could you kill Ned Stark!? He was the entire reason this story was happening! He was the moral compass, the stand alone good guy, the man who embarked on the classic Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey.” Where did that get him? Without a head, in front of both of his daughters, with his son crippled, and the rest of his family in jeopardy. It was during the young king’s speech that we knew what was about to happen, right before it did. It was a huge “OH SHIT” moment, where you realized that your rules for television no longer apply here. Suspense has been reintroduced into visual narratives. Every formula that has been a subconscious note as you grew up watching television created a matrix of scenarios. Ned Stark’s death wasn’t supposed to happen, it was a complete surprise. Yet, a natural one.
My point here isn’t that there is no good television outside of “Game of Thrones,” there is tons of it. In fact, television seems to be where most of the good writing is moving to these days. However, what GOT has done was take the established order and turned it on it’s head. You now will watch not to see how the main character ends up winning over the bad guy, or what kind of trouble he gets himself into, but if he keeps his head on his shoulders by the end of the episode. You will watch to be surprised, or at least the promise of surprise. And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes good entertainment. Whether it be a chorus in a song you weren’t expecting (but still flows in the circle of fifths that helps make certain notes sound good together, natural surprise etc.) or a joke with a clever transition from a comedian, surprise is what keeps us entertained, and hopefully will for years to come.
There is an interesting changing of the guards happening in Hollywood right now. Famous franchises are looking to keep their timeline alive by giving the steering wheel to a newcomer. We already saw the first attempt at Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (and that will be the last thing I say about that movie unless you want a four page rant on the destructive qualities of trying to appease a studio that incorrectly reads their demographic audience and what made the original movies good especially considering it’s the SAME DIRECTOR WHO APPARENTLY JUST FORGOT WHAT HE DID THE LAST THREE TIMES………..my apologies, moving forward), and apparently the Die Hard series (which was reported on last week) is looking to do the same thing. The question that arises in my mind is, “Which is the bigger gamble?”
There are apparently three types of “torch passing” that are being thrown around right now. You have the aforementioned method of giving the franchise over to the son(s) of the titular blockbusters, which rests heavily on the connection on screen between father and son. I’m not going to comment on Indiana Jones, but that should tell you my thoughts on it. If John McClane were to give the reigns to his son I’m fairly certain that would label them as “the most unfortunate ass-kicking family in history.” I would argue about the believability of the same family constantly fighting the world’s worst, but John McClane beat up a harrier jet in the last film. Without even tearing up his jeans. It seems even in the role-playing world sons have a lot to live up to. That is a lot of pressure not only on the actor, but the studio as well. If the kid fails, essentially so will the franchise.
Then you have the Jeremy Renner effect. This guy was such a badass in The Hurt Locker that Hollywood had a stroke and decided to offer him two of the largest action franchises on the market. Not only is he going to be taking over for the Bourne series, but you can see him in the upcoming Mission Impossible : Ghost Protocol, getting ready to take the helm from Tom Cruise. So in case you didn’t get enough of Renner kicking ass in one, you won’t have to wait long to see him do the same thing with a different name in the next one. Don’t get me wrong, I like Renner a lot. But both roles? If you had to gamble on an actor for those situations Renner is a good pick, but only time will tell if he can cut the mustard.
Finally, you have the all-out reboot. This is the attempt to take the characters that were popular during one set of trends, and updating them to parlay them into the current set of trends. Often times this means going back to the origin story and tweaking it just a bit. Look at Batman Begins (awesome), James Bond in Casino Royale (also awesome), J.J. Abrams Star Trek (despite the flashy lights, awesome) Superman Returns (slightly less awesome and still mad at Singer for leaving the X-Men series which then forced the studio to use Brett Ratner), Catwoman (I just bottomed this list out pretty quick). So, they don’t always work, but when they do I imagine the studio heads inhaling gigantic cigars with a machine that cycles the money on the floor back to a vent over their head, therefore, always “making it rain” in their office.
Yes, from a business model perspective a studio would be moronic to just let a money-making franchise die because the star got too old. Much to emo-movie fans disappointment everywhere who still think major Hollywood films should be “art,” there will be no glorious death for these time tested action heros. Instead, the boss’ son is going to go straight to the head position, or that awesome guy from the 3rd floor is going to appear out of no where and get the job, or they’re just going to scrap the entire company and start again from scratch. Which method is the safest for the studio? It would appear to be the reboot, since most origin stories follow a similar formula for success and narrative. With Indiana Jones (still not going to rant) not cracking the whip of excitement (yikes) under the viewer’s asses for boy-child LaBeouf, can the Die Hard franchise succeed where Jones failed? Do you even care anymore? Will I finally succumb and list all the reasons why I nearly died of disappointment in the newest Indiana Jones movie? Only time will tell!
Okay, so we probably won’t be seeing any video game competitions entering the championship of championships anytime soon, but an internal competition from Bethesda studios might ignite a new form of competition (or achievement hunting?). As reported by IGN.com, Bethesda has a competition with the people who helped create the game each time one of their products is released. At first this came across as a terrible idea to publicize. Why would you want the gaming community to know that your game can be beat during an extended lunch break at the office? Especially considering that Bethesda’s games are marketed as long running single-player campaigns, meant to engross the player in a unique, story-driven world.
Upon further consideration, this could actually be a draw for gamers with a strong competitive streak. Portal 2 is releasing leaderboards for their maps, so people can compare their times with others across the world. Could something like this be implemented into an action RPG? Let’s say Bethesda released a scoring system as some free DLC. The games already have a pretty strong replay value, but after a while there are only so many ways you can beat the game. With a competitive aspect to the completion time, the replay value could be as endless as the individual’s desire to be number one resides in his/her skull. When it comes to single-player games such as these, replay value is inherent in the business strategy. Maybe something to consider, Bethesda?
It is often said that the best film scores are the ones you don’t even realize are happening in the background. They flow so well into the narrative before you that they simply become a part of the mood that the director and composer are trying to emulate through the screen. If that’s the case, then how is it that we remember so many amazing songs from movies? Whether it is subconscious or not, below is a list of some of the most recognizable songs from movies. Obviously this is up for debate, and some of it may be generational, but feel free to comment below with your suggestions. These are in no particular order (sort of)!
12) 2001 : A Space Odyssey Theme —
Certainly a film that will hit closer to home the more advanced our technology becomes; Stanley Kurbrick’s cinematic warning about the dangers of giving away too much power to machines couldn’t have had a better musical score. You’ll notice a trend with trumpets in this column. There must be something about air moving through brass that gets people’s blood pumping. I found myself standing up after listening to this clip. I wasn’t doing anything particular, just standing up. The comments underneath the video are also worth a laugh.
Think back to how many times you made a stand for something. You and your nemesis. Standing on opposite ends of the playing field, each holding those slightly deflated dodgeballs, your ousted teammates creating a palisade of fallen comrades amongst the sidelines. If you didn’t hear this song, you never truly appreciated the magic of a showdown. And then being horribly humiliated as the other guy hit you in the face, while you were off somewhere else listening to this damn song in your head. Perhaps the ultimate dramatic showdown song, this theme appeared in the same collection as The Ecstasy of Gold, and the other themes from A Fistfull of Dollars, and a Few Dollars More. Clint Eastwood’s man with no name (or “Blondie” as he’s referred to in TGTBTU) probably never felt cooler.
10) The Godfather Theme —
Few themes are able to capture the sadness of movie as well as The Godfather’s. Try not to imagine Michael Corleone’s wife being blown up in their car, Sonny being shot to death right outside of his at a tollbooth, the slow and painful separation of Michael from his family, including the betrayal by his brother Fredo. If any of this is coming as a spoiler to you, too bad. You’ve had plenty of time to watch these movies. If you use the internet and haven’t watched the Godfather films yet then that’s your own ignorance. On to the next one!
9) The Braveheart Theme —
I dare you to not picture lush rolling green hills and skirts. No joke, I’ve actually known girls (me) who tear up thinking about the lost love that caused William Wallace to get all medieval on England’s ass. The notes are haunting yet relaxing, sad yet joyful, all in through one of the strangest instruments ever created. Rarely will a sack of hot air actually cause you to feel anything but irritated and like you’ve just wasted half your night listening to some bullshit story on how tough they are over a couple of forced social situational beers. Sorry, what number were we on again?
8) The Superman Theme —
To ensure that the links work (purely for the sake of this article and not on my ipod exercise mix) I’m listening through each of the posted songs. For some unexplained reason, as I hear the near anthem-like trumpets of the Superman Theme, my lack of chest refuses to not puff up. Isn’t that the point of a good theme? Yes, so stop judging me. This song could very well replace the National Anthem if America were impervious to anything. Something to think about once that economy starts leaping over tall buildings in any number of bounds.
Dark alleys, downtrodden innocents being assaulted by filthy lowlifes bent on nothing more than their own needs. Out of the shadows appears … a shadow … bat … well, it’s Batman, OK? Foreboding, ominous, but with a tinge of fear; Danny Elfman’s amazing score perfectly emulates the tone of the 1989 Tim Burton version of Batman. Watching Batman’s crest appear to the theme of this music is a simple, yet effective method of iconifying this hero.
Like Ron Paul, there is something to be said for being consistent. The great thing about this theme is that it remains, in its ethos, unchanged since the 1960’s. Sure, there are some new guitars, some weird frog noise making machine, and I’m pretty sure I caught a didgeridoo somewhere in there, but for the most part this encapsulates everything that was great about the original. If you see a guy on the metro or subway with his headphones in constantly looking over his shoulder, more than likely he’s got this running on his playlist. Especially when I jump out of the opening doors as if there is an explosion behind me (sorry on-duty officers from last week).
Action, adventure, lusty German women who have no standards on age or family dynamics when it comes to sleeping with men, Nazis, grails, whips. Sounds like Jesse James’ Friday night! (Cue awkward silence) Anyhow, the Indiana Jones series created one of the most recognizable original characters in film history. Despite the horrible Shia LaBarf vehicle that was Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (which science has already debunked as fraudulent archaeology, not to mention aliens in a canonical universe where things in the Bible are real too. Conflicting mantras to anyone? Sorry, I had a hard time in the theater with the last one), Indiana Jones has come to embody that American can-do spirit. With a strong right cross and about five minutes spent in a classroom teaching what appears to be the first day of class (before leaving for a spontaneous sabbatical, Dean’s got to love that), Doctor Henry Jones Junior is as much recognizable by his trademark song, as by his stylish fedora.
4) The Rocky Theme —
As if Italians needed more reasons to be stereotyped in movies, Rocky provided one of the greatest underdog stories in sports media. Regardless of the swanky porn-ish guitar rifts keeping the beat in the background (see: Italian Stallion starring ol’ Sly Stallone), the song picks up and ends with a moment of triumph and self accomplishment. And so began the training montage binge that would convince kids and out of shape people the world over that with a cool soundtrack and about five minutes of work, you can become a master at whatever sparks your interest in the time span of a movie ticket. I’m looking at you, Pretty Woman. Err, Conan. Conan had a montage, didn’t he?
3) The Jaws Theme —
Not only is this song heard in one of the generators of giant animal horror films, but you may also recognize this from the last time your buddy passed out after a party and your roommate snuck up to him to slam food in his face, or whatever it is the kids are doing these days. The increasing intensity of the tempo and quick violin strokes illustrate the absolute, water-defecating terror that seeing this beast in the ocean would cause. As many of you may know, beaches were famously cleared out after the release of this film. So much so, that the filmmakers were sued because of the lack of revenue the movie caused for these coastal towns. Never before had two notes, played over and over, been so devastating (insert current pop artist’s lack of musical creativity joke here).
2) The James Bond Theme —
Posted is a slightly more updated version of the famous theme song. If you are sitting in an office wearing a suit and tie, go ahead and count how many times you’ve adjusted your tie-knot or checked the fastenings on your cufflinks (safety pins where the button used to be). James Bond might be one of the coolest characters in cinema, and is most certainly one of the longest recurring characters in the medium. And for good reason. Who wouldn’t want to live in a world where you get great cars, awesome suits that fit an exercise-free physique like Daniel Craig’s, where your enemies version of torture seems to be sex with a slew of gorgeous international women (except for Casino Royale where his nuts were just smashed with the thick end of a rope. Nice gritty reboot). Like Mission : Impossible, this song has remained unchanged since the very first bond film, creating a sense of familiarity and connection with the character, no matter who is filling his uber expensive jet-pack shoes at the time.
I said there was no order to this list. And that’s true for the most part, sans this one slot. If you think of anyone else other than Darth Vader when you hear this song, stop watching movies and go back to reading Twilight fan fiction on the interwebs. And it can’t just be Darth Vader standing there, it has to be him walking. Not walking anywhere specific, just sort of going somewhere in an irritated mood. Like hearing your dad’s footsteps when he got home from work after you got in trouble at school, the sight of corrupted Anakin Skywalker moving to the sound of those blaring trumpets and symbols is enough to make even a grown man cower.
As broken by Slashfilm.com (http://www.slashfilm.com/die-hard-5-titled-a-good-day-die-hard-details-revealed/), the Die Hard franchise is coming back for a fifth installment. How John McClane hasn’t given a pistol a blow job yet is probably why he doesn’t lose. He just doesn’t know how to let himself die. After the last installment of the franchise I’ll be curious to see what else those big shots in the story-making board room have decided to have him fight this time. I can only imagine how it went for Live Free or Die Hard.
“Okay, how about this … there are some guys planning some type of terrorism … and a member of John McClane’s family get’s sucked into danger somehow, and now he is FORCED to go back in and fight.”
(The room is quiet, panic begins to set in)
“And he also has to fight … a … (screw it) harrier freakin’ jet!”
“Love it, add in some parkour running and take out the best part of his catch phrase and we’ll begin pre-production”
For the titled “A Good Day to Die Hard”:
“So this time … there are some guys planning some type of terrorism … and a member of John McClane’s family get’s sucked into danger somehow, and now he is FORCED to go back in and fight …”
“I feel like we’ve heard this before”
“And he has to fight … a … Teradactylepotomus … a tank/dinosaur hybrid developed during the Cold War by … John’s … Father?”
“Love it. Change yippie-ki-yay to hippies-kayak-all-day, get that donkey from Shrek and we’ll start pre-production tomorrow.”
Really hope I’m wrong.
Never in my years of playing video games have I seen a game named after the personalities of the developers. Nor have I had an experience that has tested my masculinity as much as Dark Souls. Out for only a few days, but already affecting my real world persona, Dark Souls is the darker, more psychologically disturbed grandchild of games like Zelda : Ocarina of Time, with hints of Shadow of the Colossus, Dungeon Siege, and The Elder Scrolls. Despite some mechanical and genre similarities, Dark Souls remains an extremely unique experience.
Dark Souls markets itself as a difficult game in order to prepare you for the level of difficulty you will encounter during the battles of this undead world. With a tag line that reads “Prepare to Die,” one wonders how many people would keep playing the game had it been written as “Have Fun and Remember to Smile!” Boss battles are as frustrating as they are shocking, but the reward for defeating an enemy equivocates to deflating an anxiety balloon in your own soul. Much like reaching a well lit area after running in the dark as a child, Dark Souls rarely provides you with any relative sense of safety until directly after the scariest moments. Even then, you will probably find yourself holding your shield in front of your face, awaiting some unannounced attack from a dark corner of the map. There is no overhead map, nor is there any sort of arrow pointing you in the correct direction. One objective seems to permeate through the world that has been constructed. “Continue.” Boss areas and more difficult zones are separated by walls of white light. It is an interesting moment of self reflection to analyze how long it takes you to actually traverse the white light and face whatever lies beyond. Rarely has a game captured the fear of facing an enemy that can kill in one swing so well.
None of this should be viewed as a deterrent for the game. Granted, any gamer who merely plays a game to mindlessly kill and blow things up won’t find much of an appeal here. Those who hunt achievements, or don’t just blow through the single player mode of any game, will squeal with terror delight at the environment and combat systems put into place. Fights can never be won by mindlessly mashing buttons and breaking through an enemy’s defenses. Reading an enemy’s movement is just as important as understanding what kind of weapon it uses. Often times the two points go hand in hand. The developers have seemingly taken extreme care in how they developed the fighting system. Large attacks can knock your shield away from your front, and the first time you barely dodge an overhead swing from a club three times your size you will understand what a visceral moment almost dying in this game really is. You will also be shocked at the noises that come out of your lungs as you traverse this twisted landscape. I’ve discovered that my battle cry mixes somewhere between a shriek and extended lamaze breathing. Hardly the type of noise to instill fear in the hearts of any of my enemies, but it seems to do the trick (sometimes).
The multiplayer system stands alone in its mechanics. Scribbling down notes on the ground on how not to die (or suggest that jumping off a cliff is what comes next) adds a creative and connected feel to an otherwise lonely world. The ability to summon others to your aid can be a huge factor in surpassing what would seem like an otherwise unbeatable enemy. If you are curious as to what caused a large blood stain to sit on the ground in front of you all you need to do is activate it. A short visual of a spirit that has come before you (an actual player) will replay how they died, giving you a clue as to your enemy’s presence. The ONE drawback on the multiplayer design is the lack of being able to party chat. You can still play the offline mode of the game while in party chat, but any sort of hints on the ground or bloodstains will be taken away from you. It would have been a great method to help friends get together and take down a boss, but Dark Souls seems to be bent on keeping you as isolated as possible. The game is fantastic, but being able to hear a friend’s frantic breathing and screams as they try to avoid a sword as large as the monster wielding it would add that more entertainment to it.
Overall, Dark Souls is a deeply engrossing experience. Although it has a steep learning curve, you will find that if you persist you will be rewarded handsomely. Whether your reward is gear, strength, or the ability to stop screaming through your windows whenever a hidden enemy springs at your face with a blade, the previous sentence accurately sums up what Dark Souls is all about. I just hope I can actually beat it.