Browsing all articles from October, 2010

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“Now I want you to look miserable in this direction.”

Going in, I thought my four chest hairs, and memories of only having the same number of TV channels would be the biggest hindrance to enjoying Twilight New Moon. Despite my better judgement I found the first part to be strangely compelling and sporadically hilarious, while being almost unremittingly shit. The biggest obstacle preventing my enjoyment of Twi Harder, however, was the fact I put it in the player in the first place. It made a fairly enjoyable coaster.

For the uninitiated, Twilight concerns itself with the adventures of Bella, a girl who cannot smile. She claims to find pleasure in the company of Edward, whose equally outlandish claim is that he’s a vampire. I say outlandish because he looks like an iron deficient GAP model, dines on woodland creatures and drives a Volvo. That sounds pretty far from the seductive charm and animalistic savagery that has consisted of pretty much every single telling of the vampire myth so far. And that’s without taking into account the fact that he can also survive in sunlight – the vampire curse in this instance serving only to make him look like Jean Michel Jarre playing a gig in Gerald Ratner’s garage.

If lying about being a vampire weren’t enough, Edward’s also a complete arsehole. Not only does he take advantage of Bella’s lack of confidence and personality to make her fall in love with him but, when she yields to his wooden charms, he fucks off, leaving her to fend for herself against vampire tribute acts to Mick Hucknall and Milli Vanilli (or maybe even the ‘real’ Milli Vanilli?). If that weren’t bad enough, the only way she can see him is if she rides backwards on a motorbike or jumps off a cliff, which would be fine if Twilight 2 was a study of supernatural Stockholm syndrome, but the series is now popular enough to be remembered as the definitive fictional romance. This is, without a doubt, the scariest thing about the entire Twilight saga. Those CGI werewolves need to try harder.

Twilight’s essentially about complacency: Your boyfriend’s surly and mysterious – he’s probably a vampire, it’s not your fault. The other object of your affection would rather run around the woods in his underpants with other boys, he’s, erm, well, he’s probably a werewolf. And there’s nothing you can do about that. Bella’s a leaf being blown wherever events take her, which, when you consider the film seems made up of a series of largely unrelated events, could be anywhere. One minute she’s not smiling in a place where it pisses it down all the time, the next she’s stood in the Italian sunshine looking miserable. It’s a joyless, overly serious existence.

Then again, that’s essentially what being a teenager’s all about isn’t it? Perhaps we can look forward to Edward hitting his vampire middle age, trading the Volvo in for a Porsche and hoping all that glitter conceals the receeding hairline and protruding belly, as he hangs around the school car park, attempting to attract the attentions of another young girl who’s seriously lacking in confidence and personality. Bella, meanwhile, will be sat at home, surrounded by dream catchers and ceramic wolves, attempting to keep their little Liberaces away from the hamster.

While we can hope, an excellent post on Chud reveals the true ending of the saga. And even though a vampire caesarian scene is almost enough to get me to check out the next film, I’m still going to award Twilight 2 a ‘not very good’/10.

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Robocop greatly appreciated Jimmy’s efforts.

Here’s a rule of thumb for maintaining your hardcore video gaming credentials: never invest in anything that your grandmother could beat you at. Like, for example, the Nintendo Wii, scourge of the hardcore gaming elite.

My own grandmother passed away several years ago but, as the Wii’s raison d’être seems to be in allowing old people to experience the joys of ten pin bowling without having to replace their slippers for lace-up petri dishes, I think even she has a good chance of beating me at the Wii’s most hardcore multiplayer experience: Jedward’s Pejorative Party.

I’ve so far avoided the Wii, despite the occasional flashes of gaming brilliance because I know I’d inevitably end up having to buy reams of shovel-ware for house guests who can’t work a controller with more than one button. Strangely, none of my dinner guests have ever shown much delight at watching me watch Metal Gear Solid 4, but it seems a solution could be at hand with the Playstation Move.

The Move promises to satiate the hardcore gamers’ unfulfilled desire to stand in their living room and move around like a complete prick. It also promises a more acceptable face for motion based gaming peripherals, something that seems at odds with the physical appearance of its controller: a black cone with a glowing orb at the end that, basically, looks like Robocop’s todge.

However, the controller is just the means to experience the next level of gaming right? Well, yes – unless you’re talking about Microsoft’s Kinect, which seems more like a videogame version of Brian DePalma’s The Fury. Maybe that’s why Peter Molyneux cancelled Milo? He probably came home to find the angelic little fucker floating on the ceiling, before trying to push him out of the window.

The Move’s claims to offer something a little more hardcore than the Wii means the inevitable sports compendium – Sports Champions – offers an eyebrow-raising array of lesser-known events. Alongside volleyball, archery and table tennis, you have disc golf, bocce and a gladiator type thing, which is kind of like Soul Calibur as retold by The Arsehole Theatre Group. In fact the only obscure sport they appear to have missed out is this…

Peter Duncan’s Wood-Beast Challenge – a highlight of Sports Champions 2?

Despite the slightly random sports on offer, what they’ve included is a pretty good selection, offering solid and satisfying mechanics, with the added bonus of feeling like they’re games you can master. Well, as much as getting better at virtual ‘bocce’ could be considered a bonus. But if there’s anyone out there whose life goals include “beating a racial stereotype at ping pong” then get that marker pen ready, you’re about to tick some boxes.

Among the parade of wankers that make up the “Champions” is a black man, whose interests run from hip hop to dancing, a Brazilian woman (Giselle, natch) who does capoeira and shakes her booty, an oriental chap who likes swords and electrical goods, a cowboy who likes oil and sleeping with his sister, and a Scotsman, who’d play his deep-fried bagpipes if only he could stop concentrating on not spending money.

And speaking of Connor, you’ll notice that he bears more than a passing resemblance to the world’s most dangerous chicken and lager fanatic: Raoul Moat, which adds some much needed credibility to The Star’s (mysteriously deleted) GTA Rothbury ‘story’. It also explains why ‘fishing’ and  ‘armed robbery’ didn’t make the game’s final lineup.

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Moat – enjoying Disc Golf from beyond the grave?

Despite being little more than a tech demo, in Sports Champions, the Move ably demonstrates that the nuts of bolts of ‘hardcore’ motion control are more than fit for purpose. Now all it needs is for someone to find a weightier use for Robocop’s wanger than just hurling virtual frisbees. That’s for someone with far more vision than me. In the meantime it means my dinner party guests no longer have to fear two-hour soliloquies on the nature of war after their dessert. And that’s something like a win-win.

I recently wrote a (spoiler-free) review of Exorcist III for groovy UK film blog: Live for Films.

Make like a seagull and click on Fabio’s ethereally beautiful face to read it.

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Dead Rising 2: Not afraid of asking the important questions.

As the old saying goes: ‘Zombies improve anything’. Look at the films they’ve enlivened with their shambling grotesqueness. Night of the Living Dead would be like a more annoying Noah Baumbach film if it weren’t for zombies turning up to eat Barbra’s brother – though I’d put money on it still being better than Margot at the Wedding.

Video games are no exception to the rule, as virtual shoplifting simulator Dead Rising 2 demonstrates. Without zombies you’d be walking around a deserted shopping centre in Las Vegas looking for things to take, which isn’t too far removed from that Michael Jackson documentary a few years back. I guess they thought having MJ in a game called Dead Rising might have been poor taste. Then again, they recently announced a Jackson MMO so who knows if taste comes into it. Maybe they realised having Martin Bashir asking you for a running commentary of your actions every few seconds would be un fun, or that you’d get bored of hearing the “I’m dancing on your stupid face, Martin” sample.

I didn’t own an X-Box when the original came out so as far as I was aware Dead Rising was the working title for Pele’s erectile dysfunction ads. I jest, the original game nearly made me buy a 360 because it looked like someone had reached into my brain and created the world’s finest game. And if it weren’t for rumours of early X-Boxes sounding like Brian Blessed bringing a mammoth off in a wind tunnel, and getting hot enough to melt the fillings in your neighbours’ teeth, I’d have made the leap a long time ago.

Dead Rising 2 offers proper zombies from days of yore, before they learnt skills like running and Krav Maga. It also offers equally old school game mechanics. It’s a game that hates you and is more than willing to wee all over the chips you tirelessly made from aspirational potatoes. Think you’ve reached a point where you can handle its many challenges? It brings out a broadly painted, psychotic Italian chef to remind you that you’re a complete pussy.

But keep chugging away at Dead Rising 2 and eventually you’ll reach a point where none of its broad racial and sexual stereotypes give you that much bother. And then the wee doth start to flow in the other direction. Of course it helps that ‘chugging away’ involves twatting zombies about the head with different sized objects and causing comic pratfalls with a variety of different substances. It presents a number of creative options that are perfectly pitched for anyone who has long-harboured dreams of running around a shopping mall, dressed in lady’s underwear, beating zombies about the face with a dildo. (You know who you are).

Dead Rising 2 is no Little Big Planet but it presents you with a number of amusing outlets to fulfil your most puerile creative desires. That is, once it’s finished beating you about the brow. At first you will find it surly and obnoxious but after a while you’ll begin to understand its bizarre logic and see a uniquely amusing character emerge. It’s a bit like John Prescott, really. John Prescott with zombies.