Wednesday, December 30, 2009


    For the most part I play mostly PS2 and PC games so I may be somewhat one sided but most of these were available on Xbox too...Amazingly 2001 was a great year for games!
#10 - Aliens VS. Predator 2 (2001) - A great shooter that came out even before the AVP movies. The game play was great incorporating the players ability to be either a Marine, Predator or Alien! Great!

#9 - Star Wars: Battlefront (2004) - Take any squad based war game and put it in the Star Wars universe and you have a great game. Battlefront 2 was even better by adding Jedi characters. Playing both rebel and Empire was great!
#8 - Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (2006) - This is a fun game especially for comic fans where you have a huge array of super-heroes to play with.
#7 - Spider-Man 2 (2002) - Even for a comic book movie tie-in game this was one of the best. The completely interactive New York City is fun by-itself as you web-sling your way through the Big Apple!
#6 - Grand Theft Auto III (2001) - This is probably THE most controversial game of the last decade, but it is still a fun experience, forget all the violence and the hookers, it's fun just to drive around in the city. Vice City goes hand in hand with this one too.
#5 - Resident Evil 4 (2005)- This redefined the Resident Evil series, which is still my favorite video game series ever since the first one! 2 is still my favorite but 4 brought Leon back and made him better.
#4 - Rock Band (2008)- Although I put "Guitar Hero" before this, it is still a fun music game and even better when you get friends together for the whole band!
#3 - Guitar Hero (2005)- This is still the best music rhythm game. I was a novice guitar player to begin with and I shamefully admit spending more hours playing this series than actually practicing my own electric guitar! The first was great, 2 was the best, 3 was good, but my favorite recently is Guitar Hero: Metallica! It rocks!
#2 - World of Warcraft (2004) - This is the best MMORPG of all time! I may not have been as engrossed in it as a lot of people and may have not leveled up as much, most of my playtime was spent just exploring the world! "For the Horde!"
#1 - HALO (2001) - This is the best first-person shooter ever! This changed everything. I spent a LOT of time playing multiplayer with friends and online. HALO 2 improved on the game play immensely and three was awesome. But I feel the first one deserves the #1 spot because it defined this decades gaming!

Monday, December 21, 2009


   The beginning of the 21st century was a great decade for movies everything from epic trilogies to superheroes these are the best movies of the decade:

#10 "Kill Bill" Vol.1 & 2 (2003-2004) - I wasn't that big of Tarantino fan until I saw "Kill Bill", but it changed my opinion of him forever! Part 1 is like all those old 70's kung-fu movies and Part 2 has a touch of Clint Eastwood westerns to it. Fun and exciting, both innovative and often imitated, this is first on my list!
#9 "The Incredibles" (2004) - if you think Disney/Pixar movies are just for kids, you're fooling yourself! This is an amazing movie, the animation is impressive and the superhero/James Bond story is great! A must see!
#8 "X-Men" (2000) - This sparked the new era of the super-hero movie proving that what was thought could never be done. This also made Hugh Jackman the unlikely star turning an Australian Broadway star into the hairy, ill-tempered Wolverine! Thank you Bryan Singer, but WTF happened to you?
#7 "Spider-Man" (2002) - Another milestone in super-hero movies,
Tobey Maguire was perfect and Sam Raimi is a genius!

#6 "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl" (2003) - If you think a Disney theme park ride can't be turned into a movie, you thought wrong! Johnny Depp is awesome and this started one of the best trilogies of the decade.
#5"Iron Man" (2008) - They took a Marvel second stringer and turned it into one of the best super-hero movies ever and brought
Robert Downey Jr. back from the brink!
#4 "The Dark Knight" (2008) - Absolutely amazing! Unfortunately for Heath Ledger who died shortly after making it. Christopher Nolan knows Batman!
#3 "Watchmen" (2009) - This is the single greatest graphic novel/comic book movie EVER!
#2 "The Lord of the Rings Trilogy" (2001-2003) - All you fellow Ringers out there know that this trilogy defined the decade and changed movies for all time and turned a whole new generation of fans onto Tolkien!
#1 "AVATAR" (2009) Need I say more!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


   12 years! That's how long it's been since director James Cameron released his last feature film "Titanic" (1997), his sappy love story combined with the infamous ocean liner disaster which currently occupies the #1 All-Time World Wide Box Office spot having earned $1,835,300,000. Since that time Cameron has devoted his creative talent to IMAX documentaries such as "Ghosts of the Abyss" (2003) and "Aliens of the Deep" (2005). Now as Cameron admitted having to wait for CGI technology to catch up to meet his vision (i.e. George Lucas style) we finally get to see "Avatar" (Not to be confused with "Avatar: The Last Airbender", which comes out next year under the name "The Last Airbender", amusingly enough.)
    This epic Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Adventure takes place on the planet of Pandora, where crippled Marine grunt Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is given the opportunity to participate in a experimental project to transfer his mind into an alien body in order to help convince the native alien species, the Na'vi, a 10-ft. tall, blue-skinned, cat-like, humanoid race to move so the Earth corporation can extract a precious mineral. During his experiences as a Na'vi, he meets Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) a female, native warrior, who he falls in love with and ends up betraying his own race to save the Na'vi.
    The themes of "Avatar" resonate with the same man vs. nature and man vs. savage, not unlike "Dances with Wolves" or even "The Last Samurai", where a character is estranged from their own culture but finds happiness within another, whether it be a more primitive and/or "alien" civilization. The parallels of the story draw much from our own history with the annihilation of the Native-American people by our own ancestors. This message is anything but subtle but isn't necessarily over-done as the old adage of history repeating itself is clearly seen. Sam Worthington's character is very sympathetic but in his human form is often very dull which only perpetuates the idea that when he is a Na'vi, he rediscovers himself, finding meaning and purpose in his previously depressed and meaningless existence as a wheel-chair bound ex-grunt.
    With all the hype surrounding this movie, which apparently has been 15 years in the making, the incorporation of state-of-he-art computer generated animation makes this for an incredibly bold and innovative movie experience. With the increase of CGI special effects in movies over the years, skeptics worried that this movie would be more about the visual aspects and action than the actual story and performance. Although the CGI is visually stunning and amazing, the movie itself holds up rather well. I admit just in watching this, you lose yourself in the CGI and after a while you forget you're seeing CGI because it looks so real. Although it's hard to imagine 10-ft. tall blue aliens to look real but it is impressive just how real they look, down to the sweat, blood and tears. Most people forget that the whole reason behind special effects from the very beginning of the film industry is to make something look real. It's really our fault, the audience that we have become harder and harder to convince, ever since the early days of Ray Harryhaussen-style stop-motion to models and animated graphics of the first Star Wars films.
    "Avatar" is a return to what made James Cameron famous for my generation with exciting special effects Sci-Fi films like "Terminator & T2", "Aliens", and "The Abyss". I'm especially looking forward to Cameron's rumored "Battle Angel" anime adaptation in 2011. "Avatar" is truly a whole new level of movie experience, and not just because of the recent 3-D, craze. See it without the 3-D and it will be as equally stunning and beautiful as well as an exciting and compelling film experience!

Link: AVATAR Official Website

Saturday, October 31, 2009


    I love Halloween and I love The Simpsons, even after all these years I still never miss an episode! So, the perfect combination is of course The Simpson's Halloween Special "Treehouse of Horror". Since it first aired on Oct. 24, 1990, I have always looked forward to every Simpsons Halloween Special (even though in recent years it has aired in November!) and here CHERNOBOG'S LAIR presents the Top 10 Simpson's Treehouse of Horror (Sequences, not episodes)!
#10 "It's the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse," (Ep. XIX, 11/02/2008) In a homage to the Peanuts classic "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" except this time the great pumpkin comes and goes on a rampage!
#9 "Starship Poopers" (Ep. IX, 10/25/1998) Maggie is the illegitimate child between Marge and Kang, then they end up on the Jerry Springer Show!?
#8 "The Thing and I" (Ep. VII, 10/27/1996) Bart Simpson and his separated conjoined twin Hugo!
#7 "The Island Of Dr. Hibbert" (Ep. XIII, 11/03/2002) The Simpsons are turned into animals in a parody of the "Island of Dr. Moreau"!
#6 "Desperately Xeeking Xena" (Ep. X, 10/31/1999) Bart and Lisa become superheroes and Comic Book Guy becomes the villain The Collector and kidnaps Xena (Lucy Lawless)!
#5 "Hungry are the Damned" (Ep. I, 10/24/1991) This is the first appearance of alien invaders Kang and Kodos, who have appeared in every Halloween special since!
#4 "The Shinning" (Ep. V, 10/30/1994) A Simpsons parody of Stanley Kubrick/Jack Nicholson's version of Stephen King's "The Shining"! And no, I didn't spell it wrong!
#3 "The Devil and Homer Simpson" (Ep. IV, 10/30/1995) Homer sells his soul for a donut, classic!
#2 "Dial 'Z' for Zombie" (Ep. III, 10/29/1992) The Simpsons + Zombies = Awesome! Homer: "Take that Washington! Eat lead, Einstein! Show's over Shakespeare!"
#1 "The Raven" (Ep. I, 10/24/1991) This is and always will be my favorite sequence! As a Simpson's and Edgar Allan Poe fan, this was perfect, although they did shorten the poem it was portrayed beautifully and masterfully read by James Earl Jones!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


  With the latest slew of zombie-movies since the 2004's "Dawn of the Dead" Zack Snyder remake, it is always a welcome to see a truly original and maybe even funny take on the zombie genre. In the style of the hilarious and groundbreaking "Shaun of the Dead" (2004) rookie director.
   Ruben Fleischer brings a unique spin to the zombie movie with "Zombieland"! Starring Jesse Eisenberg, who coincidentally just starred in the comedy "Adventureland" (2009) as the unlikely and also somewhat un-named (known only as Columbus) main character of a college student struggling for survival with surprising optimism during the zombie apocalypse who meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) a redneck, survivalist with an obsession for Twinkies! Together they make their way across the country trying to survive and kill a few zombies. Along the way they meet Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), two sisters on their way to an amusement park in order to reclaim their lost childhood while they're still alive to enjoy it.
The film is a humorous mix of first person voice-over featuring Columbus' numbered rules for survival and slapstick violence with the usual zombie gore. Through most of the movie we follow Columbus as his take on the whole zombie apocalypse is really only a minor inconvenience as he is usually so easy going despite the hordes of flesh eating undead! This could almost be compared to that of an American version of "Shaun of the Dead" but they are equally as great and funny! Also there is a very surprising and unlikely cameo. Hilarious!

Friday, September 25, 2009


     Very rarely do we see a truly original Sci-Fi/Horror film in the style of "Alien" (1979) or even "Event Horizon" (1996, if anybody remembers that one?). "Pandorum" is truly an intense Sci-Fi/Horror movie with plenty of tension and horrors both physical and psychological! Bower (Ben Foster) awakens from suspended animation on the massively, huge spacecraft of Elysium with no memory of who he is or why he's there or how long they've been asleep. Soon he meets Payton (Dennis Quaid) who is supposedly in a similar situation, they try to make sense of the confusion when they soon realize they are not alone on the ship as a strange and vicious race of creatures have been hunting them. Together with a handful of survivors they try to stay alive and find some answers.
    The massive spaceship makes for an incredibly dark and claustrophobic setting for this suspenseful and frightening movie. The hunter/aliens are truly original and terrifying, even their kids are frightening! Ben Foster, who has been coming up in movies recently ("X-Men 3", "30 Days of Night", "3:10 to Yuma") gives an outstanding performance as the unlikely hero. And even Dennis Quaid makes for an especially creepy character.
    This movie got a very small following and limited release, but this is truly a unique film experience that unfortunately went under the radar as it were., This is definitely a must watch for any Sci-Fi or horror fan!

Monday, August 31, 2009


    Rob Zombie, former front man of "White Zombie" and now solo artist, embarked on his new passion for horror films. Already a devoted horror film fan he both wrote, produced and directed movies such as "House of 1,000 Corpses" (2003) and "The Devil's Rejects" (2005). In 2007 he released his re-imagining of the popular horror franchise Halloween and gave new life to the Michael Myers killer. Essentially a remake, however Zombie's new version explores more of the psychology and origin of Michael Myers who in the original films remains very much a mysterious character with a very vague back-story. Now, Zombie continues the story with essentially a remake of a sequel to a remake in H2!
    The story begins much like the original Halloween sequel "Halloween II" (1981) with Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) in the hospital following the aftermath of Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) killing spree. But, surprise, surprise, of course: Michael is not dead! The rest of the film focuses three point of views: Laurie's new and traumatized life as she now lives with Sheriff Lee Brackett (Brad Dourif) and his daughter, Laurie's best-friend Annie (Danielle Harris); Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) as he profiteers of his new book about Michael Myers revealing the truth about Laurie being Michael's sister to the world, unbeknownst to her! We also see a little into Michael Myer's life as he has retreated to an almost hermit-like life in the counrty where he is constantly haunted by bizarre visions of his dead mother (Sherri Moon-Zombie) and his younger self (Chase Wright Vanek) apparently Daeg Faerch from the last movie did not return?
    Well, it's Halloween again and Michael Myers is determined to find his sister "Boo" (Laurie) and try to reclaim what family he has left or kill her in the process and what follows is an even more intense and ultra-violent killing spree where the once un-emotional and silent Michael Myers has become slightly more bloodthirsty and determined as he hacks and slashes his way through Haddonfield.
    I must admit I was somewhat taken back by this new direction and the bizarre twist ending that I don't think anyone had imagined. Also, the very disturbing and somewhat psychedelic visions of Michael's mother all clad in white and followed by a white horse adds to the dream-like imagery of the movie. With this odd new direction I wonder if Rob Zombie will continue on with a slew of Halloween's, but perhaps he can go on to more original films. We shall have to wait and see...

Saturday, August 8, 2009


     With the overblown success of the Transformers movies, the obvious choice for any toy franchise turned into a movie is of course G.I. Joe. If you were born anytime between 1977 and 1990 (and most likely, a boy) you grew up with the 1980's "G.I. Joe". As Hollywood yet again takes everything you loved from your childhood and make it into a multi-million dollar blockbuster and to sell more toys to a whole new generation of kids (and guess's working!).
     M.A.R.S., run by James McCullen/Destro (Christopher Eccleston) is the world's leading weapons technology developer and their latest weapon of mass destruction are warheads containing metal-eating nanomites. As a NATO force transports the weapon, they are ambushed by COBRA, "a ruthless, terrorist organization, determined to control the world!" along with The Baroness (Sienna Miller) and Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) As new recruits Duke and Ripcord join the G.I. Joe team along with Snake-Eyes (Ray Park) and Scarlet (Rachel Nichols), led by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid). It's a race against time as COBRA plan to use the nanomite weapon to destroy the major cities of the world starting with Paris and the Eifel Tower.
     The movie is saturated with the usual CGI special effects, over the top action sequences and the typical martial arts fight choreography you would come to expect. But in reality you can't have G.I. Joe without all that. Anyone that complains it's too much special effects or too much camp, obviously never watched the show and enjoyed it. An extra special treat was having Ray Park (Darth Maul in "Star Wars: Ep.I" and Toad in "X-Men") play Snake-Eyes (one of my personal favorites), which was a perfect choice. For a character who never says a word, he definitely made him come alive!
     Despite the hype and obvious mass-marketing aspects of the movie. "G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra" is a fun and entertaining, action movie. What more do you want from a movie made from toys. I must admit going into this I had my doubts as I was not a fan of director Stephen Sommers ("The Mummy" franchise and "Van Helsing"). But I was a huge G.I. Joe kid since 1983, and I must commend Sommers for staying true to the source material. If you were a fan of G.I. Joe or just want a fun movie experience well, now you know..."and knowing is half the battle." "Yo Joe!"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen"

    "More than meets the eye"...Literally! I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to seeing this movie. As a kid who grew up in Transformers heyday. And being there in theaters when the Transformers animated movie first came out way back in 1987. And as an adult 20 years later to finally see Transformers come to life in Michael Bay's 2007 blockbuster, it should have been a fanboys dream come true. The 2007 movie was cool, great and a lot of fun (even though Shia LeBouf is so freakin' annoying at times.) Being a huge special effects movie, which it had to be in order to pull off realistic looking robots.
 As successful as it was, a sequal was inevitable, although I don't think any of us were expecting it so soon...I admit that this movie was a special effects nightmare with more explosions, more robots and an even more convoluded story which leaves you breathless and confused at the end, with only the image of a newly enhanced (in more ways than one!) Megan Fox! This is "The Phantom Menace" of Transformers movies and its not even the fourth installment which will most likely be a trilogy. (Look for "Transformers 3: The Search for a Plot" Coming Summer 2011, LOL!) And when I compare Episode I to Transformers 2, I'm not kidding, they even have their own robotic equivallent to Jar Jar, and whats worse: they have 2 of them!! (i.e. Skids and Mudflap)
 I applaud the fact that the story is able to successfully pick up right where we left off 2 years ago, but we don't seem to have improved things any. Sam (Shia LeBouf) is still awkward and annoying, Megan Fox is still a hottie and there is absolutely no reason why she is still with him! Plus, there are even more Transformers like Arcee, Jetfire, Soundwave and the Constructicons...(YAY! More Toys! Sorry, that was my inner 6 year old talking) both good (Autobots) and bad (Decepticons, yeah like you didn't know.) But when is too many, TOO MANY!? If you remember there were hundreds of Transformer robots back in the day and with the resurgence of the franchise thanks to the film, I think the filmmakers are trying to put ALL of them in the movies, no matter how small (i.e. Wheelie) or how BIG
(i.e. Devastator!)
 The whole movie is an intense, action packed, thrill ride filled with all the robots and destruction you can handle but while your lost in the mind-numbing, eye bleeding visuals, take a moment and reassess just exactly what the f*** is going on! I didn't the first time either but after leaving the theater, with the THX sound still ringing in my ears and my eyes still straining to see clearly (should I mention I went IMAX, oy!) I said, hey, wait a minute, what did I just see??? (My head hurts.)

Thursday, May 7, 2009


    “Watchmen” is considered one of the most influential graphic novels of the 1980’s. Written in 1986 by Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, From Hell) and Dave Gibbons (Doctor Who, Green Lantern), “The Watchmen “appeared at a time when America was going through drastic economical and political change. Even after 20 years it continues to influence the world of comic books and graphic novels with its incredibly profound and intense storyline and complex characters. For fans “The Watchmen” remains one of the most important superhero graphic novels of the last 20 years right alongside “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns”, “The Sandman” and as writer/co-creator Alan Moore is considered one of comics greatest modern writers in the same respect as Frank Miller and Neil Gaiman. “The Watchmen” has even earned mainstream prestige with its spot in Time Magazine’s All Time 100 Novels.    With the rise in comic book movie adaptations in the last 10 years there has been some hits (“The Dark Knight”, “300”, “X-Men”, “Spider-man”) and some misses (“Catwoman”, “Elektra”, Punisher War Zone”) but there was one comic property that was considered un-filmable (i.e. “Lord of the Rings”) but on March 6, 2009, Warner Bros. released “Watchmen” Directed by Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead (2004), “300” (2007)) and starring Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Patrick Wilson.    To the uninitiated “The Watchmen” is essentially a murder mystery with superheroes, based in the alternate history of the 1980’s. In the world of “The Watchmen” it’s 1985, and the world stands on the brink of a nuclear war with Russia. America won the Vietnam War and President Nixon is still in office. As in the comic, the main character is Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), once a masked hero and partner to Note-Owl (Patrick Wilson), delves into the murder of an ex-vigilante named The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) As he seeks the truth behind the murder he probes deeper into the lives of both former heroes and partners including Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), and Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman). As far as superheroes go, no one in “Watchmen” actually has any super power except for Dr. Manhattan who has almost limitless god-like powers gained from an accident with a scientific experiment (and did I mention he’s bright blue and nude for 90 % of the movie). In 1985 costumed heroes have retired due to a governmental act and most go on living ordinary lives except for Dr. Manhattan who works for military research with the help of his girlfriend Laurie Jupiter formerly the Silk Spectre (II) and Ozymandias who is now a billionaire businessman and industrialist. The most mysterious and enigmatic character is the fan favorite Rorschach, who possesses a strange white mask which displays various interchangeable Rorschach inkblot patterns. Rorschach is an intense, violent and obsessive character who refuses to give up his costumed persona and lives like a vagrant.
    When Rorschach discovers the identity of The Comedian he begins his search believing that there is a conspiracy to murder former costumed heroes and anyone of his former associates and even villains could be next as he stumbles onto the truth of one of the most convoluted and world shattering murder plots ever which the end result could mean all out nuclear destruction.
    Still considered a new director, Zack Snyder has shown his talent in both horror and action/comic book based movies with the impressive 2005 remake of George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” and the adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel “300” in 2007. Zack Snyder has brought the world of “Watchmen” straight from the pages of Moore and Gibbon’s comic masterpiece and brought new life to the story as it most certainly will impress both new and old fans alike. Like any adaptation, there is always the element of revision and change to that of the source material, and like most comic book movies there are always some parts where the directors and writers alter certain aspects of the source material. Already having some experience and success in “300”, Snyder brought Frank Miller’s graphic novel almost literally word-for-word and scene-by-scene to life he has done incredible justice to the book. As with most adaptations of Frank Miller’s works it somewhat disappointing and maybe a little thought provoking of why Alan Moore has completely distanced himself from all of his books turned to movies  such as “From Hell”, “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and “V for Vendetta”. Although he remains an extremely talented yet eccentric personality, because he has no involvement whatsoever with those stories he unfortunately gets zero credit on the movie as Dave Gibbons, “co-creator” is the only one who gets his name in the credits.
    As for the movie itself, it is an intense, deeply thought provoking if not somewhat a little saddened that such a comic masterpiece be made into a movie it both empowers and hurts the comic as it will not likely give the mainstream film goers a completely new experience but will please most fans of the original series. The film version takes much of the original scenes and dialogue right from the pages but the movie does take its liberties with the story as only Hollywood could. Even from the beginning of the movie you can already see every detail has been painstakingly crafted and both the actors and direction is superb. The choice of actors for the various parts are nothing if not perfect even with some of the younger actors chosen for older parts you can see as the past is constantly revisited in numerous flashbacks from the 1940’s to the 1980’s that the illusion of age is very well done with the makeup of the characters.    As for the music used in the film, which is something to be noticed as it draws heavily from nostalgic music especially from the 60’s, ‘70’s and ‘80’s where much of the story takes place. With selections like Bob Dylan’s “The Times, They are-a Changin’” in the opening title sequence, to “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel, “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole, and Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower”, “I’m Your Boogieman” by K.C. and the Sunshine Band, and even the use of “Ride of the Valkyries” during the scenes of the Vietnam War, ala “Apocalypse Now”. As many of these seem obvious others are somewhat perplexing in their placement.
    If you are a fan, there is a strong chance that like me you will be impressed by this movie, however many of the more devoted “fanboys” will be sorely disappointed and unsatisfied with this adaptation, particularly with the alteration of the final scenes of the movie which I will not spoil. This movie is one of those rare films that will change the way people will think about comic book films. The only regret I have is that although I believe this to be an amazing movie, for most people and the mainstream movie audience this will be a perplexing and even confusing film that many will not fully understand or appreciate. For those people who will not get a single moment of “Watchmen” I say have a more open mind and forget everything you think you know about superhero movies and for the fans who expected so much more than a 2 ½ hour, $130,000,000 blockbuster could give.
    So my answer to the ancient “Who watches the Watchmen?” (Juvenal, Satires, VI, 347) the answer is “We Do!”

MOVIE REVIEW: "Star Trek" (2009)

  "Space...the final frontier, these are the voyages of the starship ENTERPRISE..." (at least, I think it is?) After four TV spin-offs and ten movies, Hollywood has decided to press the preverbial reset button on the "Star Trek" franchise and they got renowned producer/director J.J. Abrams (Mission Impossible 3) to do it. To paraphrase Spock: "It is not logical." For over 40 years Star Trek has become THE most popular science-fiction series, with hordes of fans both young and old. After a 7 year lull in the franchise Star Trek has apparently been "renewed" with an entirely new cast playing the original crew: Chris Pine as Capt. Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy, just to name a few...its intentions were noble, to restart the franchise for a whole new generation and also in the hopes of making old-school fans take notice. Unfortunatly, it's as though they took everything fans loved about Star Trek and threw it out the window! Forget everything you know about Star Trek and set your brain from stun to kill! The worst part of this movie is the entire story is supposedly an alternate universe, which supposedly gives the filmkaers free reign to do whatever the hell they want with it, thus leaving us with something that shows no resemblance of being STar Trek and more like som bad piece of Star Trek fan-fiction. After watching this movie, although incredibly well done with amazing special effects, there is hardly anything left that resembles Star Trek at all. For many who think Star Trek has become old and stale, you're gonna love this. But, for those true "Trekkers" who grew up loving Star Trek, you will erase your memory banks of ever having seen it. All in all, it's a great's just NOT "Star Trek"!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"

    I LOVE the "X-Men" movies! 2 was the best, but 3 was disapointing. And just when you think the trilogy was over, we get a Prequel! Obviously Wolverine is the most popular character and he has been my favorite ever since he got his own comic way back in 1988. I was so excited when I first saw the trailer for this and couldn't wait. Hugh Jackman returns for the 4th time as the scruffy, Canadian, metal clawed mutant. Like most Hollywood comic adaptations it never fails to make lots of changes to the original source material, that's why they're called adaptations!
 If you've ever read Wolverine or X-Men you know Wolvie has the most confusing and conveluded origin ever. And since the 2001 "Origin" series., they keep changing it! "X-Men Origins" is no different, although they do try to stick with Wolverine's origin, they have to incorporate the other stuff they messed up in the previous 3 movies, so we have LOTS of problems. With all the Weapon X, adamantium, mutant craziness, on top of all that they made Sabretooth Wolverine's brother! On top of that, there's WAY too many mutants in this one, it seems like every movie tries to outdo the other by adding more and more mutant/x-men characters for cameos and even go so far as to create some of their own or takle existing ones and screw them up! Fans were excited when it was revealed that Gambit and Deadpool make an appearance and even more so when they found out that Ryan Reynolds would be playing Deadpool. Another anti-climactic cameo is the Blob, you know when you've run out of mutants when you put in the Blob (although I've always had a soft (fat) spot for him, but really, somebody tell me what he has to do with Wolverine and/or Weapon X?
 For the most part it makes for a cool, exciting action movie but I think we've had enough. I've loved the Marvel movies, there've been hits (i.e. X-Men, Spider-man, Iron Man) and misses (LOTS of misses, i.e. Elektra, Hulk...) Maybe "X-Men 2" should've ended the franchise or maybe Hollywood is destined to keep milking it until it becomes non-profitable and fanboys like me stand up and say "Ok, that's it, I'm done." and walk out...

Friday, April 24, 2009


    This week, I had the opportunity to experience a very rare movie event with the release of "Iron Maiden: Flight 666" (, a rockumentary about one of the biggest British heavy metal bands in the world! This film documents Iron Maiden's "Somewhere Back In Time Tour" 2008 in which Iron Maiden toured 13 countries, travelling 50,000 miles while in their very own airliner called "Ed Force One" and piloted by none other than the band's singer Bruce Dickinson! Written and Directed by Sam Dunn and Scot McFayden ("Metal: A Headbanger's Journey" (2005) and "Global Metal" (2008)) "Flight 666" is a unique experience for any heavy metal fan as we get a behind the scenes look at Iron Maiden during their biggest and most ambitious tours ever. Not only do we get to see the band perform many of their most beloved hits but watch as the literally travel across the world to such locations as South America, Tokyo, Australia and even Papua New Guinea.
    Although it's not just about the tour as we get to see a little more of a personal side to the band as they play golf and tennis in their spare time, even touring Mexican pyramids or just taking their families along. The most impressive aspect of the film is seeing the incredibly multi-talented Bruce Dickinson himself (in uniform) pilot an enormous airplane full of band members, crew and all of their equipment.
Another aspect of this film also shows how a metal band that were in the height of popularity in the 1980's is still going string and how their music means so much to people all over the world both young and old. And to any fan (old school or new) can come together and enjoy a truly awe inspiring musical experience.
    I must admit, upon first hearing that the movie which would only be released only in select theaters until its intial DVD release later in June, would come to my local theater in a one time only showing on a Tuesday night I half expected to be one of maybe less than a dozen fans in attendance but it wasn't long before the theater was almost packed with fans both young and old, and the majority wearing various Iron Maiden T-shirts and even one diehard fan who donned a full-headed "Eddie" mask. (And if you don't know who Eddie is, why are you even reading this?!
    Along with "Live After Death" and "Rock In Rio" This is one of the best live Iron Maiden shows ever! If you're an Iron Maiden fan or heavy metal in general, this is a must see, and totally worth seeing on the big movie screen before it comes out on DVD. I also recommend "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey" for a little Metal 101!

Friday, February 13, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW - "Friday the 13th" (2009)

    As a fan of the horror/”slasher” film, there are few in the vast ocean (of blood) of slasher imitators and cheap knockoffs and sequels over the years that are considered original or significant. Among these few great originals such as the first “Halloween” (1978), “Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) and even “Psycho” (1960), one series has survived the longest despite numerous sequels: “Friday the 13th” (1980). After 10 sequels and even a drop down fist fight with another slasher icon Jason Voorhees is regarded as one of the most memorable names in horror films, along others such as Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers (not “Shrek”!) even Leatherface. The 1980’s was when the slasher was the most prolific although it very quickly became stale and shallow. In recent years, Hollywood has attempted to revitalize the slasher/horror genre as the horror icons of the past come back from the grave to torment promiscuous teenagers once again!
            With the trend of remaking horror films in recent years with successes such as “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (2003) and Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” (2007) and “The Hills Have Eyes” (2006) have brought some much needed originality rather than failures like “Psycho” (1998) and “The Omen” (2006) which utterly defeated the purpose of the remake by just copying the original. As the horror icons have reemerged in the last decade with Leatherface (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) and Michael Myers (Halloween), the newest killer to be remade (or “re-imagined”) is none other but Jason Voorhees with the release of New Line’s “Friday the 13th” on February 13, 2009.
            Although genuinely frightening and mildly impressive the new “Friday the 13th” could easily be another installment (“Friday the 13th Part XII”) in the long series as the only connection with any of the original series would be the original “Friday the 13th” (1980) as it seems to take place after the events of the film with Jason’s mother Mrs. Voorhees being the killer. However it is more of a combination with the original and “Friday the 13th Part 2” (1981) as the murders have taken place years ago and a new group of licentious teenagers happen upon Camp Crystal Lake (apparently searching for a rumored marijuana crop, I didn’t know Jason was a pot-head) it’s obvious what is going to happen. 
      From the beginning, (by which I mean the first 15 minutes) it’s the same tired “murder-fest” where the first victims are dispatched one by one by the masked “mongoloid” but only after they conveniently set up the story by telling us the events of the first movie (as if we didn’t know) only to not follow their own warnings and GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE! The only difference is that after the first massacre (which turns out to be the longest prologue in horror film history) only then do we get the title sequence.
    As we get into the real story we meet Clay Miller, played by Jared Padalecki (“Supernatural” TV series), who is searching for his sister Whitney Miller (Amanda Righetti, “Return to House on Haunted Hill”) believed dead. When he happens upon a group of college kids led by the overbearing Trent (Travis Van Winkle) heading to his parents lake house to party, they are all drawn into the plot when Jason begins exacting his mindless slaughter on all of them. Unlike most of the Friday the 13th movies we are given very little into Jason’s story other than basic clues to his origins as the filmmakers made no attempt to improve or add upon his already known past. Like “Part 2” he starts out very plain as just a silent, mindless killer with a burlap bag over his head. He does don his trademark hockey mask, as in “Part 3” (1982) but only by accident.
    There is almost nothing to set this movie apart from the other 10 movies as it keeps the same predictable, formulaic story fraught with merciless ultra-violence, sex, and death. Without spoiling the ending Jason is dispatched in almost the same way as any of the other Friday’s, you know he can never be stopped and he will always come back, there is almost no end to the pointless killing, I had high hopes for this movie but despite the hype and the new talent this is just another bland slasher flick, good for a cheap scare and a little thrill but nothing more. Hopefully, as the new decade is upon us and the new era of horror film remakes we may see some of our old favorites reborn with new twists on an old scare. With new hype for movies such as Rob Zombie’s “H2: Halloween 2” later this year and the remake of “Hellraiser” in 2011, there is even rumors of a new “Nightmare on Elm Street”. But of course as we all know Jason Voorhees will not rest at the bottom of Crystal Lake forever, it’s only a matter of time before he rears up his deformed hockey masked face and wreaks havoc on a new generation of screaming teenagers.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


   "Elementary my dear Watson", "Sherlock Holmes" is a new spin on a classic detective. Starring Robert Downey, Jr. (Holmes) and Jude Law (Watson) as the original dynamic duo Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson! Adding a little more of an action-adventure style to the original more cerebral-type of Holmes story. British action movie director Guy Ritchie elevates the otherwise dry and proper Holmes to almost an Indiana Jones-like status. Holmes' character differs greatly from previous film versions and is less of uptight, deerstalker hat wearing gentleman and is now more of an eccentric, neurotic, anti-social, recluse with a curious hobby of engaging in pit-fighting! Watson is almost as odd with a severe gambling addiction, while their whole relationship is like that of an old married couple?!
    The story itself is a fascinating mix of action, mystery, and love with a little occult/supernatural intrigue! Holmes methods appear even more amazing as the film features these odd Zack Snyder-like slow-motion scenes as he plans his next moves carefully analyzing every stage. The love interest in the film is Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams ), a talented female thief who continues to elude and best Holmes surprisingly at every turn! The villain is Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) who dabbles in secret societies and occult alchemy in order to cheat death and destroy parliament.
    To the more purist Sherlock Holmes aficionados, this is definitely NOT old-school Holmes, rather a more modern and action-centered version to appease those who shy away from the more dry and traditional Holmes adaptations. While fun and exciting, it tends to depart from the more intellectual side of Holmes in his usual deductive methods sacrificing them for a more direct and visceral incarnation. Although Downey, Jr. makes an impressive Holmes, I find the episodes where Commander Data from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" could do a better job than him. Sorry Robert, stick with Iron Man!