Saturday, February 4, 2012

Review: Chronicle

I haven't written a movie review in a while. I've reviewed a bunch of games lately, but no films. I guess I was waiting for a movie that stirred me, something that got me going, got me excited or inspired me. Chronicle is that movie.

Max Landis, the screenwriter, is the son of John Landis, the murderer. John Landis is the reason we no longer have Vic Morrow, by way of The Twilight Zone film produced by Spielberg and Zemeckis back in the 80's. Well, Max is out to do his own thing in Hollywood, and if Chronicle is any indication of what's to come, I, for one, am very excited.

Chronicle tells the story of Andrew, a high school outcast in his home town with few friends (his cousin is the closest thing), who, while at a barn rave one night, is summoned by his cousin and his cousin's friend, Steven (both seniors in high school themselves) out to a remote area in the woods near the rave.

While out in those woods, they stumble upon a hole, that upon venturing into, turns out to house what I'm guessing is some sort of alien rock or craft that bestows upon the three young men the incredible powers of telekinesis as well as light telepathy. Now, this sort of film would have been so easy to screw up, however; director Josh Trank has a veritable goldmine to work with in the form of Landis' script.

Superheroes and those with super-powered abilities are a mixed bag. Superman is hard to pull off on film. Bryan Singer and Richard Donner's takes are loved by some, hated by others. Christopher Nolan has hit a grand slam with his interpretation of Batman, where Joel Schumacher failed miserably.

The difficult aspect in terms of superheroes is how to get an audience to care. Approaching Superman, for example, is nearly impossible in that he's totally invincible. You can't hurt the man of steel with any conventional weapons or through combat, so Singer opted to go for his heart and utilize Krytonite in the form of an entire continent that he must levitate in order to save the citizens of Metropolis. A Herculean task to say the least.

Batman is a human being, with legitimate faults. He's a deeply scarred psychopath who prowls the night for purse snatchers because his parents were cut down by a thug in the night. Batman's greatest nemesis is psychology in a lot of ways in that Bruce Wayne wants to be a normal dude and enjoy his life, whereas Batman is always who he truly is, yet the two can't coexist. Duality is a common aspect of the modern super hero film.

Such is not the case with Chronicle. There's no talk of "hey, maybe we can save people with our powers" or "we have to use these gifts for good". Nope. Instead, these young men use their powers how young men would use their powers. They blow girls' skirts up. They use their abilities to wow their friends. Andrew fights back against his tormentors at school.

They fly. They make plans to fly across the world, more specifically, to Tibet, to further their abilities with monks in the mountains. A noble goal that may have led to eventual heroics.

Unfortunately, this future does not come to pass. I don't want to spoil anything, but those who've seen the trailer, you can tell that one of the three friends clearly goes off the reservation with his powers. I can't say I disagree with his motivations. This is a person who has been treated like shit his entire life by his drunk father, has a dying mother, and is the ridicule of his classmates.

He's Dylan Klebold with telekinesis.

There's been a lot of talk of a live-action adaptation of Akira, which is regarded as the "Citizen Kane of anime" (which in my opinion may be a little overblown, though I worship creator Katsuhiro Otomo). With Chronicle, I don't need an Akira live-action adaptation. The film's psychically-powered finale is something built up in the trailer, but is so much better on-screen, to discuss it in detail would be a disservice.

Chronicle is, thus far, my favorite film of 2012. In what could be the first year I only go to the movies to see super hero films (Spider-Man, Batman, The Avengers all hit the screen at some point this year), Chronicle is the perfect kickoff for the super hero season, and may prove to be the finest film of the bunch.

I give Chronicle a perfect score - 5 out of 5 rage-filled teens using their powers for no good.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Shouldn't have left you without a dope beat to step to.

Sorry I haven't written since September. I'm not dead, contrary to what has been written about me.

Just kidding, no one has been writing that.

I have, however; been insanely busy with Nice Guy Games and work. I'm happy about both. Our first title, Defend The Jungle! is coming along nicely, with some programming snags here and there.

Anyways, that's about it. Stay tuned, I'll be writing more!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


I was in high school when 9/11 happened. A senior. Specifically, I was in Economics, listening to leather-faced Mr. Loverro drone on about concepts that no one will retain two months after escaping his classroom. This was a teacher who simply was out of steam. A guy who kept a picture of his in-construction hideaway home in upstate New York on his desk where a normal person kept a picture of their wife or kids or whatever.

He wasn't the nicest guy. He just didn't care anymore. A decade earlier, this was different, as my sister had him, and was a fan of his style of teaching. To me, he was like an angry Italian alligator, with a bratty son who, for whatever reason, went to my high school, as well.

That said, he made the very first joke about 9/11 I ever heard. That very morning. It wasn't Gilbert Gottfried and some woman in the audience shouting "Too soon!"

It was a brown, shriveled old man saying "Well, I guess those people didn't see that coming ..." and he laughed to himself.

My fiance is watching E! News showing famous people talking about where they were when 9/11 happened. Marion Cottilard was in Paris. Matt Damon was in his "apartment" and went outside and saw it happen.

Elisha Cuthbert is spouting words of wisdom. So is Snoop Dogg.

How heartwarming.

I had nightmares for weeks after it happened. Images of being in one of the towers, on a lower floor, and looking out the window and seeing a plane strike above me, hitting the opposite tower. I remember being scared. I remember being sweaty.

Of course, I wasn't there. I was in high school. But these dreams were strong, they were vivid, and I've always wondered if they weren't some kind of "remote viewing" or something like that. I don't know if I necessarily believe in all that paranormal mumbo-jumbo, but it's hard to rationalize something that seems so real, though you have no actual frame of reference for it happening.

In the time following 9/11, for a couple years, I guess, I had a chip on my shoulder any time anyone would mention 9/11 or remotely joke about it. I would get pretty pissed. Now, I joke about everything. My mantra would later become "if we can't laugh, then the terrorists have already won". I'm not one to joke about 9/11 all day long or anything like that, but if Seth McFarlane, a guy who would have died in the attacks can joke about it, then that gives the rest of the witty world the green light to joke about, too.

Loose Change is a documentary that will either make you think or make you laugh. I still don't know if I understand the title of the doc, but it was pretty impressive stuff. Seeing blasting caps from the rubble of the WTC, for example. Powerful evidence for the argument of "Bush did 9/11" or "whoever" did 9/11, whatever the scapegoat of the week is.

We wouldn't have my all-time favorite TV show without 9/11. "Rescue Me" is a gritty and beautiful urban black comedy set against a post-9/11 backdrop. Denis Leary has cashed in some of his finest performances on that show. And he has aided in softening my hatred of the Red Sox, as he is from Boston.

I don't know how I feel, 10 years later. My generation was initially called "The 9/11 Generation", but we're now "The Facebook Generation", and I can stomach the latter more than the former. I feel nothing when I think about 9/11.

Not in the sense that I'm a monster and am not sad for all the people and families of loved ones who died, but when I think of the events, I think of the possibilities that could have come from it. The artwork. The material. The unity that was gone one short year later. The bonuses and raises NYPD and FDNY should have gotten but didn't. As if being an NYPD or FDNY officer wasn't hard enough already. Those guys should be the highest paid civil servants on the planet to begin with, let alone for having the balls to run towards and into a collapsing building when everyone else is running away.

Instead, Suffolk and Nassau cops are the highest paid. For busting kids smoking weed in the woods. And giving tickets. That's bravery in Long Island's eyes.

I guess I feel nervous. It's a decade later. I'm older (and more handsome every day, thank you very much), not much wiser. Engaged to an amazing girl. Moved into our apartment, more or less. Have a job I love. One part-time job I like. And a part-time job/passion that I love almost as much as my fiance.

Things are okay right now.

Things felt okay 10 years ago, too.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Nice Guy Games is LIVE!

Nice Guy Games is a real thing. I've been sitting on this for a little while now, as my partner and I, Miles, have been hammering this label together slowly. Now, the parts are assembled, contracts are signed, and we are about to go into production on our first title, a very fun and charming tower defense title we're calling Defend The Jungle.

The team we've assembled are really fantastic, super talented, and fit the model that we at Nice Guy are striving for. Every game we produce will have a portion of its proceeds go to charity, which is something we all feel incredibly strongly about.

The website above is very raw, and is in Wordpress, but it gets the basics down. We've got artwork coming in the following weeks that will spice up the site, as well as give those who are interested in Defend The Jungle a taste of what's in store.

The game is set to be released on the Xbox Live Indie Games platform, with a potential for iOS/Droid/Windows Phone in the future.

The game is a take on the decades-long "preserve the rain forest" concept in which the player is tasked with preserving the last strip of the rain forest from corporate greed.

Stay tuned for more!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Welcome back, coffee, you seductive mistress of flavor and caffeine.

Let it first be known that I haven't had coffee since President Bush was in office.

This one:

Now, as a young lad, I would have the occasional cup with my mom in the mornings. We'd talk about the latest poop (who pushed who on the playground, what Ninja Turtle was the coolest at that time, whether or not I was going to get a Sega Genesis that Christmas, etc.), and sip java from mugs with little images or locations on them (a picture of Snoopy one day, a mug from some lodge in Pennsylvania, the next).

Then, one day, I just stopped drinking coffee. I decided I didn't like the taste and that was it. Onto harder substances like cocaine and Special K and the occasional mainlining of heroin directly into the vein between my two smallest toes.

That said, it has been forever and a day since I've had any kind of "hard drugs". Christ, I haven't even smoked weed in like ... two and a half years. Right before I met my fiance', actually.

Well, on Monday, I was so exhausted and beat down at work, I needed a pick me up. Sauntering into the "cafe", I found myself staring at a metallic pot of freshly-brewed coffee. It smelled like coffee. The pot itself was hot as the fires of desire.

Grabbing a small, stylish pseudo-styrofoam cup, I pressed the spigot of the pot and watched as the nearly-black liquid began spilling over itself. My mind began racing with excitement, as it had been over a decade since my last journey to Java Mountain. I remembered sitting in my tighty-whitey underwear (you're welcome), watching the Ghostbusters cartoon and sipping from a large mug, while eating Nintendo cereal.

I poured in some fat free half and half (not even really knowing what half and half is, let alone what makes it fat free compared to regular half and half), then scooped in three small spoonfuls of sugar (because just one spoonful helps the medicine go down).

I grabbed a red stirrer from a large box that had Staples' unmistakable brand logo on it, and stirred slowly, the half and half magically smoking up through the black void in my cup, turning black to a soft-brown.

When I placed the cup to my lips and took that first steaming-hot sip, as the coffee entered my system, it felt like a chorus of beautiful sound and color had reawakened in my brain. Colors once forgotten are now burned into my soul forever.

Like these opening credits (to a shitty movie).

Without warning, my entire body lurched and woke from its two-decade old slumber. Everything was more sharp, more vibrant.

I was awakened.

So now, I pray at the altar of the coffee bean at least five times a day at work. I drink it from nine in the morning until eleven, while doing my work (getting more done, too, it would seem), and then, it's a non-stop ride to oblivion the rest of the day, fueled by caffeine, coffee, and the magic of a Columbian bean.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review: Thor

I am in complete and utter amazement that this movie turned out so fantastic.

I guess, in all reality, I just went in with such impossibly low expectations (not saying Kenneth Branagh is a shit filmmaker or anything like that), I just ... I am not a Thor fan. I never cared much for the God of Thunder, nor did I give much of a damn about Asgard or any of that stuff growing up. I was a realistic comic fan. I put my faith in a teenage boy bitten by a radioactive spider. An orphaned billionaire with murdered parents and a demented psyche. A solar-powered last son of a destroyed planet.

Never a God. Especially not one of Thunder.

But I'll be damned if this isn't the best Marvel film to date. Of course, this is all opinion, however; I absolutely adored Thor for all its mayhem and action and romance and Asgard and Tony Hopkins (his friends call him Tony) and easily the finest Marvel villain ever committed to celluloid.

Never before have I rooted for Marvel's often cheesy lineup of supervillains on screen. Sure, I may have giggled at the Green Goblin in the first Spiderman film, or loved how Tim Roth chewed the scenery in The Incredible Hulk, but in Thor, Tom Hiddleston delivers a game-changer.

An honest-to-God, James Cameron-esque game-changing performance as Thor's half-brother, Loki. I will admit, I am not 100% on my Thor comic history. I'm more familiar with Beta Ray-Bill, as well as seeing Thor kick ass alongside Captain America and the rest of the Avengers.

What I do know about the comics is that Loki is the master of manipulation, and they execute this perfectly in the film. I'll be happy to see Loki return as the villain in The Avengers, if that is indeed the case. Pulling the strings behind whatever conflict The Avengers tackle is certainly reason alone, provided that Hiddleston returns to the role. Anyone less simply would not do.

Natalie Portman is gorgeous. There has been a lot of shit in the reviews about her and Thor's love being "forced" or "quick". I, personally, don't buy that. It seems more like a giddy fascination than it does love. She sees him as the human embodiment of her work and thus, falls in love with him, and he sees something in her that changes him, like all men who change for their women.

I have certainly warmed to chick flicks since meeting my match.

The Hawkeye cameo works. Watching Jeremy Renner, bow in hand, working for SHIELD got my blood pumping and has me incredibly excited to see him next in The Avengers, which is currently filming about forty minutes from my home, and yet, I have not gone to the set, if only to glimpse Mark Ruffalo and his weirdly-kissable lips ...

I couldn't recommend seeing Thor more. I would avoid 3D, as my eyes feel like they want out of my head, however, IMAX is a way to go. I saw it in IMAX 3D, and other than the snow falling in some scenes, the 3D just wasn't all that impressive for me.

See the movie. However you can, however you want. It fucking rocks.

Bring on Captain America: The First Avenger now, please.

Friday, April 1, 2011

There was a hole here once ... but now it's gone ...

The other day, I was singing in my car and perfected my Violent Femmes impression.

So now I add the lead singer of the Violent Femmes to my Ian Curtis, Dennis DeYoung, Brandon Flowers, Morrissey, and Paul Banks impressions.

Woot for screwing around with my voice enough to sound like different people! Lol, yeesh.

I've always felt I would make a kick-ass front man for a band. I'd like to try that at some point. That should be a goal. To sing lead vocals in a band at least once in my life. Even karaoke would do, really, but only if it was a song I dig.

I should've gone into voice acting. All these accents and voice changing skills only lead to two avenues: International super spy or voice actor.

In closing, here is Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy doing their Joker and Batman voices, respectively.