Friday, July 30, 2010

Game Announcements and Interesting Observations

Now anyone who watches our videos can infer at least one thing about the Cynic and I: we're big geeks/nerds/dorks/insert appropriate title here. As part of that, we're also big gamers. I won't get into a compare and such on our games of preference, as that's not what we're talking about here.

I play a lot of different games of different kinds. I really don't subscribe to one genre of game. Some of my favorites include Mortal Kombat, Diablo I/II, WoW, Portal, Legend of Zelda, and Dragon Age. There's more, obviously, but today I want to talk about Dragon Age.

Now I picked this game up on a whim, not knowing a damn thing about it. We'd gone to rent some games for New Years, for a fun relaxing evening. I had wanted to get Assassin's Creed 2 (which, to be honest, I still haven't played :P), but there weren't any copies left. Dragon Age caught my eye, and I figured "sure, why not?", swords, sorcery, and fighting evil? Sign me up!

And I was completely blown away. Now I won't say too much about the game itself here, but suffice to say, I found myself on the Dragon Age forums as a result. And I found, lo and behold, I stayed. So, I found out pretty fast when Dragon Age 2 was announced earlier this month. And I've come to notice a few things, which I am sure is present in every forum in a situation like this, but nevertheless, bears written observation of the behavior (or maybe it's the anthropologist in me talking).

First off, is the trolls. Now, trolling is nothing new to me, and shouldn't be to anyone who's been on the Internet for more than five minutes. There's something about a new game announcement that brings them out like vultures. A somewhat related group is what I like to call the "whiners" and the "doomsayers". Now, the First DA game got a lot of flak for its graphics, and so with the second installment, the dev team is looking to bring in a new style that is more up to date and is somewhat different from the first game. Cue the whiners. Cue the doomsayers. Every new development, every released piece of concept art, every new screenshot, every new detail, sends them into a frenzied declaration of the game's imminent "sucking" and promises of "I'm not going to buy this", etc., etc. This grows tiresome, even to a regular denizen of the Internet, or perhaps my patience for such things isn't what it was. That being said, I'm 45 pages deep in a thread about a new development (which is NOT A FUCKING RETCON, DAMMIT) for one of the races in the DA universe, of which you really only see one member of and doesn't completely change everything that has been established about them, which isn't much at this point. Given that DA is just establishing a lore, there isn't much of a problem. It's not like explaining the whole Eredar/Draenei thing, which was a more complicated maneuver than this.

Another feature is what I like to refer to as the "platform elitists". People whining about the fact that the game is being released for the Xbox 360 and the PS3, along with for the PC. Perhaps it's because I'm a multi-platform gamer that I can't understand the problem with the game being released for the consoles as well as the PC. I myself play DA on the 360, the so-called "worst" platform on which to play it, apparently. And you know what? I'm fine with that, even if I could play it on the PC and thus get mods and such (which I could if I wanted to, my PC would run it). I don't feel that the game is "dumbed down" or looses any of the RPG element for being on console, and I really don't see why it's such a big deal, but perhaps it's just cause I'm not a "PC-only" gamer and perhaps I don't understand what a "true/pure RPG" is. Y'know, when it comes down to it, I don't care how top-of-the-line your machine is, how games run so much better and look so much better on your PC than it does on my 360. You know why? Because I don't play games just to run them at optimum capacity just because I can. I play games for the story, for the fun, the action, for the characters. Dragon Age sucked me into an amazing world and story, with characters that felt like real people. I don't give a flying fuck about the graphics, or how it plays from platform to platform. Hell, I don't even care about beating it on the Nightmare difficulty, because it doesn't seem necessary. The game isn't about that for me.

So perhaps, dear readers, I just wanted to rant a little. Perhaps somewhere in that jumbled mess is a valid point. Dragon Age: Origins is a phenomenal game. The expansion, Awakening, is also a great play. In the end, isn't this what really matters? Yes, DA2 will look different from DA1, I won't argue that. But really, we know very little at this time. There hasn't even been a DA2 trailer yet (it comes out mid-August, the 17th, I think), everybody just needs to relax a little. There's no need for what I see on the forums, there really isn't. Some people just need to get their panties out of there arses and chill the fuck out. Seriously.

Anyways, I think I've ranted long enough for one evening. I am working on my debut video still. I ran into some snags with my original idea, it became too big for itself, so it has been simplified into something a little different, but hopefully entertaining nonetheless. So I will close this by saying thank you to the development team at Bioware for the wonderful story that is Dragon Age: Origins (and assorted DLC and xpac), and that I eagerly await the launch of DA2 next year, and whatever comes in between. And also to all the devs who are brave enough to venture onto the forums to explain, confuse, and amuse us. I love that you guys actually take the time to answer questions and such.

~the P.M.S

(ps. anyone interested, there are two DA books out so far, written by lead writer David Gaider: The Stolen Throne and The Calling. They are both excellent reads and I highly recommend them.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kickassia Review

 So Saturday I watched Kickassia again, seeing as it was my birthday and we didn't want to do anything really over the top. I debated doing a video review about this one but I figured since we have Blogger at our disposal, we should use it. Now, you're probably asking: what's Kickassia?

Kickassia is the two year celebration of the website That Guy With The Glasses, a pop culture reviewing site (and one of my inspirations to do Coffee With The Cynic), and follows the story of various alumni invading the micronation of Molossia for their own purposes. And yes, Molossia is a real place.

This movie is like the Destroy All Monsters of That Guy With The Glasses. The majority of the site's personalities are here. Being led by the Nostalgia Critic (Doug Walker), the army consists of Nostalgia Chick (Lindsay Ellis), Cinema Snob (Brad Jones), Handsome Tom (Thomas Hanley Jr), Angry Joe (Joe Vargas), Bennett The Sage (Bennett White), Jew Wario (Justin Carmical), Linkara (Lewis Lovhaug), Phelous (Phelan Porteous), Film Brain (Mathew Buck), Benzaie (Benjamin Daniel), Spoony (Noah Antwiler), Marzgurl (Kaylyn Dickson), 8-Bit Mickey (Mickey Paradis), Still Lee (Lee Davidge), LordKaT (Jason Pullara) and PawDugan (Paul Schuler). Rounding out the cast is Chris Larios as the news reporter from Channel Awesome and Molossia leader Kevin Baugh as himself.

The story itself is pretty good. Feeling slightly insane, The Nostalgia Critic confronts Molossia president Kevin Baugh on his doorstep and basically tells him, "We're gonna take over your land so get out." Baugh slams the door in his face so The Critic rounds up various members of TGWTG for an all-out invasion. The appearance of Baugh's SMG thwarts their first invasion attempt but the second attempt goes much better, thanks to the hulking out of Still Lee. Of course, trying to keep this as spoiler free as possible, the power goes to Critic's head and during a series of unfortunate yet hilarious events, everyone is at each other's throats and Kickassia goes to war with itself.

The performances here are really great.  It shows that these reviewers aren't just pessimistic socially awkward geeks in their reviews/rants but actually actors.  Good actors, in fact.  Doug's presence in an M. Bison costume is just fun to watch, as is Lindsey's Sarah Palin impression, but it's some of the other characters who are more or less the same way that they are in their reviews that really surprised me.  This movie more or less tells you what you've been missing by showcasing these other characters.  Of all of the reviewers involved, the one that stands out the most is Cinema Snob.  Brad Jones is like the Robert Downey Jr. of That Guy With The Glasses in the way that it's just fun to watch him do anything and to hear him talk.  In parts of the film, he channels Stacey Keach & Jack Nicholson in brilliantly well timed performances.  Seriously, check out this guy's stuff.  You won't regret it.

The timing of this movie doesn't waver, either.  It doesn't ever feel slow in any given part of the film and has a nice balance between action, suspense and comedy.  To go from a scene where Critic and Film Brain are just acting strange to a plotting scene and then to a fight with Critic & Spoony's alter ego, Dr. Insano, flows so well.  It never feels forced.  The fight with Critic & Insano is very well done in the same sense with balancing the various elements of comedy & action.  It's like a comic book movie fight on a Wal-Mart budget with Home Alone bits thrown in, and I loved every second of it.

I could go on and on about every little bit of the movie from Linkara's Patton impression to the cameos of various other internet personalities (including James Rolfe, aka The Angry Video Game Nerd, as his Board James character), but this review would never end, so I'll try and sum it up.

The final verdict?  Kickassia lives up to its name.  If you follow these kind of pop culture reviewers, you OWE it to yourself to look into Kickassia.  Even if you don't follow these kinds of things, you should check it out anyway to see the performances and just how much effort was put into this film.  It amazes me that Doug & Rob (Doug's brother) Walker was able to orchestrate something of this magnitude.  Not everyone in this film is even from the U.S.  Phelous is from Nova Scotia, Film Brain is from the UK, and Benzaie is from France.  I don't know if Doug actually pulled for their hotel rooms the way he says in the movie or if they themselves are loaded or if they are just THAT loyal to him, but in the end it doesn't matter.  The effort that went into this movie is astounding and can rival that of Hollywood.  Honestly, my only gripe with Kickassia is that The Distressed Watcher (TJ Kincaid) isn't in this movie, not even as a cameo.  I would have loved to see him as something like an Ambassador to America then see him argue with a 7-11 clerk of the price of something mundane like a pack of cigarettes or something.  However, Cinema Snob made up for this in spades.  Nah, lemme rephrase that, EVERYTHING in this movie makes up for any missing TGWTG alumni.

It was also announced that a Kickassia DVD is in the works and should be released sometime in August.  Rest assured, I'll put up the link to buy it once it's available.  It's that good.  Click the links below to watch it:

Part 1: Uh, Part 01
Part 2: Triumph & Treacle
Part 3: Inglorious Glory
Part 4: The Beginning Of The End Of The Beginning
Part 5: The Fall Of The Risen
Part 6: All The Really Bad Shit Happens

There's also a ton of Making Of, Commentaries & Bloopers on That Guy With The Glasses & Cinema Snob's websites, so check those ones out if you have the chance to do so.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Caught Up!

We are happy to announce that our backlog of videos has been resolved! They are now all up on YouTube and can be viewed there.

Coffee With the Cynic on YouTube

Now that we have that under control, we are back on schedule. Things will get a little more calm and regularly posted, at least video wise.

So go check us out and thanks again for all the support!

~The Cynic and the P.M.S

The History Of Predator...

Since the new installment of the franchise is hitting the theatres as we speak, I think it's only fair that we take a walk down History Lane and review our past to better our future.

started out in 1987 as a "popcorn action flick," as director John McTiernan described it in an interview in 2004. While the abundance of beefcake was sweating off pounds in the jungles of Mexico filming scenes of being chased around by a creature that they couldn't see, it's doubtful that the cast and crew realized that they were working on a modern classic.

The story behind Predator was a simple one: a team of Commandos led by Arnold Schwarzenegger is working a Black Ops mission in the jungles of Central America. There, they encounter a creature not of this world, looking for challenging prey. As the platoon gets picked off one by one, it becomes clear that they are not dealing with a regular foe and it eventually gets down to Arnold and the Predator in a mano e mano showdown that ends with a huge portion of the jungle getting eradicated by the Predator's self-destruct device.

Despite being a "generic action film" at the time, Predator featured very likable characters and impressive special effects that hold up to this day (thanks in part to the animatronics wizardry of Stan Winston studios). It was considered a financial success and would receive a followup from a somewhat unexpected source. Dark Horse comics published a sequel to Predator originally sharing the same name but would eventually be renamed Concrete Jungle. The comic was originally published in 1989 and followed the brother of Arnold Schwarzenegger's character, a NYPD officer that crosses paths with a clan of Predators murdering crime lords all around New York. Much like Dark Horse's sequel to the film Aliens, the comic was very well received and showed that there was still demand for Predator-related content.

Perfect timing too, for production of a film sequel was nearing completion by the time the comic series finished its arc. In November of 1990, Predator 2 hit the theatres, but wasn't as well received as its predecessor. The story involved a LAPD officer played by Danny Glover investigating strange murders amidst a gang war while government officials being led by Gary Busey are attempting to capture the Predator. I'll admit, I don't find Predator 2 is not as good as the original anymore, but it is a very entertaining movie and was my big introduction to the character, in more ways than one. In the original film, the motives behind the creature's actions are subtly hinted at, but the film never truly comes outright and says so. Predator 2 explains in full detail why the Predator does what it does, giving off the primary reason why I became such a fan of the character in the first place. The Predators are alien headhunters that live in a culture obsessed with the thrill of the hunt. Seeking only the most dangerous prey, these creatures enjoy sadistic games of cat and mouse before destroying their target and collecting the skulls and spines of their kills as trophies. The Predators sport weaponry that are CENTURIES ahead of our time, yet their culture seems so ancient and primitive in comparison to ours. How is such a thing not compelling?

Since Predator 2 wasn't well received by many, 20th Century Fox decided to let Dark Horse take over via comic books to satisfy the fanbase's cravings for more. Over the next few years, countless Predator comics would be published, some better than others, but all satisfying the fans' bloodlust and gory Predator action cravings. Out of all these comics to be published, the Predators saw crossovers with such super heroes as Batman, Superman, Judge Dredd, Magnus Robot Fighter, and even Tarzan. The most memorable of these crossovers was with the Aliens.

The original Aliens vs Predator comic was published in the early 1990s, around the same time Predator 2 hit theatres. Set on a terraformed planet, the story revolved around how the Predators would place Alien eggs on a planet, let the embryos hatch into maturity and then hunt them as quarry. This story wouldn't have worked as well if it hadn't been for the human colony caught in the middle of it. In the end, the head of the colony ends up teaming with the elder Predator to wipe out the Alien infestation. Many sequels were made to this comic book through more comics and even a couple of paperback novels. This comic was so popular that fans began immediately asking, "When is the movie coming out?" and the cult statuses of the Predator films began to rise immensely.

Aliens vs Predator was stuck in film production Hell, leaving fanboys drooling in anticipation over the idea of an AvP film while the series saw new installments in other media, including action figures and video games. Then, after seeing the success of Freddy vs Jason, 20th Century Fox announced that they had been getting everything put together for an Alien vs Predator film. After 14 years of waiting, August 13th came around and Alien vs Predator hit theatres. The film, which was directed and co-written by Paul W.S. Anderson, had a similar story structure to the original comic. A team of scientists discover a pyramid beneath the ice of Antarctica and discover that it is a training facility for the Predators to become "men" in a rite of passage against the Aliens that they have harvested there. Chaos ensues and the main female character ends up teaming with the last remaining Predator to take out the Alien Queen. The main Predator dies and his clan take him away in their ship, only to have his chest burst open and an Alien/Predator hybrid slither out.

It sounds good when you read it, right? Well, sadly, the final product wasn't the case. Fans of both series immediately voiced their disappointment of the film, due to its PG-13 theatrical rating, lack of talented acting and lack-lustre creature effects, mainly the overuse of CGI (computer generated imagery) and Predators that looked fat compared to the originals. At least the door was open for a sequel, right?

Yeah, but just because a door is open doesn't mean it should be used. Directed by the sibling duo of Greg and Colin Strause (in their directorial debut), the "story" of Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem followed the ship from the end of the first film crashing into a Colorado town, unleashing Aliens. A lone Predator is sent in to clean up the mess and in the end, the government nukes the town, containing the Alien outbreak. That's seriously all that happens in this movie. There aren't any likable characters, the actors pretend they're cut out of cardboard and the film was so dark that whenever there was a cool fight scene, you couldn't tell what the fuck was going on anyway! AvP:R did satisfy fans with an R rating, unlike the first film, but lacked any other positive traits from its predecessor. It was become very apparent from the fan reaction that they wanted either a new Alien movie or a new Predator movie, but not a combination of the two because obviously Fox couldn't get it right.

Following the release of a new Aliens vs Predator video game and some new comic series from the separate franchises, 20th Century Fox announced in April of 2009 that a new solitary Predator film was in the works and it would be directed by Nimrod Antal and produced by Robert Rodriguez. Simply titled Predators, fans almost immediately clamored at the news, seeing as how everyone and their cat who is an action movie fan is a fan of Robert Rodriguez's work. The pitch was that it would follow a group of killers stranded on an alien planet while being hunted by not just one, but a whole party of Predators. Now, this film is upon us...

Well, that's a brief look at the history of the Predator. I hope you all enjoyed this blog and be sure to check in next week with some behind the scenes looks at our review of Predators. Seeing as how the positive reviews are already coming in for this film, hopefully it's worth the hype! Take care!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Yay, new stuff!

Our YouTube account is really rolling along now! Most of the back catalog is up now, so go check it out! Also, a surprise!

Stay tuned for a Predators-related post very shortly from the Cynic. :D

~The P.M.S <3

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Working, working....

Hello again all. The Picky Mama Scholar and I are hard at work playing catch-up after our unexpected hiatus. The back catalog is making its way on to YouTube (also still available on Facebook) amid the production of new material. Look for some brand new episodes from me (and the debut of Picky Mama Scholar's series!) coming up soon! We are doing our best to get our stuff caught up and ready to go for you guys, and we thank you all for your support and hope you keep watching (and hey, doesn't hurt to tell your friends *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*), especially with Predators coming up so soon. On that note, stay tuned for our Countdown to Predators and maybe even some behind the scenes stuff from that, given that this film is kind of a big deal for us.
Thanks again for the support because we do this for you guys, the fans. :D