Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Worst Movies of 2010

And now that I've covered the best of the year, lets take a moment to look at the worst the year had to offer. Some dishonorable mentions go out to Due Date and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Those movies sucked, but as bad as they were, five movies managed to somehow be even worse.


I can't remember the last time a movie has slid down my list so quickly. I came out of the theater thinking it was okay. But time has not been kind to this one. The more I think about it, the more I've grown to hate it.

It doesn't really know what it wants to be. It's a very goofy, over the top action flick. But then it starts to take itself too seriously with the story, leading to a mash-up that just doesn't work at all. None of the characters are likable, a lot of the jokes fall flat, and only a handful of action scenes are even mildly entertaining.

Bottom line, this movie worked better as a fake trailer than an actual movie, and it probably should have stayed that way.

Clash of the Titans

This movie was just dull. I can't even really think of much else to say about it, it was just dull. The only scene I enjoyed lasted for a mere moment, and was a nod to the original Clash of the Titans. While they're gathering materials for their quest, one of the guys picks up the owl from the original. Someone questions what it is, only to be told to leave it behind. Too bad they left it, that owl took part in the only entertaining scene in the whole dull movie.

Iron Man 2

So much for that roll you were on, Robert Downey. Both Due Date and Iron Man 2 were total stinkers. This movie just tried way to hard to recapture what made the first movie so great, only to fail miserably in every attempt. It wasn't charming, it wasn't witty, and it was oftentimes obnoxious to even watch.

The banter between Pepper and Tony was annoying. The drunken fight between Iron Man and War Machine was annoying. And I couldn't understand one single word that Mickey Rourke said, but I'm sure it was annoying, too.

The lack of quality in this film has me worried for the upcoming Avengers series of movies, but hopefully they'll learn from the countless number of errors made here and they'll be able to shape up in time for the big collaboration.


Yeah, I bet most people haven't even heard of this one. I only found out about it based on a trailer I happened to catch online. The trailer was really intriguing, and built the movie up to be a Blair Witch style horror film for the internet age.

This is just a case of false advertisement, however. There's no horror movie to be found here. Or, well, much of any movie, really. It starts off interesting enough, as a guy meets a girl online and they communicate over a period of time. They form a sort of long distance relationship, even though they've never met each other before. But the guy soon catches the girl in a series of lies, and decides to investigate by showing up to her house unannounced.

Then when he meets the girl, who is in fact not who she said she was, that's sort of it. And the movie just drags on and on from that point, with nothing of worth really happening. So much build up, all leading into to a whole lotta nothing. What a disappointment.

The Last Airbender

Again, no surprise here. I've already torn this movie apart in a previous post, so there's not much else I can say without retreading old ground. But I do just want to emphasize the amount of potential this film had to be great, and the amount of potential this series still has to be a successful film franchise. Just give it to a competent director is all that I ask, one who'll actually treat the source material with the respect that it deserves.

So there it is, folks. My very best and very worst movies of the year 2010. I hope you enjoyed it, and look out for more potential movie reviews from yours truly in the coming year. With movies like Cowboys and Aliens and Sucker Punch on the horizon, 2011 looks to be another good year in film.

The Best Movies of 2010

Well, it's that time of year again. Time for my rundown of the past year in movies. I made it out to a lot of films this year. Some were bad, but most of them were good. Now, I've compiled my lists of the year's best and worst, though I did want to do something a little different.

While I loved a good many movies that came out this year, there were four that managed to stand out for me above and beyond all the rest. As I've been compiling this list throughout the year, only four films have stuck with me at the top as the absolute best. Only four films really shined as irreplaceable on the list. And I really just want to focus on those four films here. But first, for those curious, here's what my top 10 movies of the year leading up to those four looks like:

10. Kick-Ass
9. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
8. The Social Network
7. Black Swan
6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
5. Tangled

I'd also like to give some honorable nods to The Fighter, Toy Story 3, and The Expendables. All were great films in their own right, even if they didn't manage to make it into my final list. Now then, onto the good stuff.

The Ghost Writer

I went into this film based on a vague interest after seeing only a single commercial randomly on TV. The premise was interesting enough, a ghost writer, played by Ewan McGregor, takes up the task of writing the memoirs for the British Prime Minister Adam Lang, played by Pierce Brosnan. He takes on this job after his predecessor on the project died from a supposed accident. And as The Ghost dives deeper into the story of Lang's life, what he discovers puts his own life in danger.

It's a thrilling film that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. This movie intrigued me from the opening scene of an unmanned car parked aboard a ship, and it left me as compelled as our main character to unravel the mysteries that presented themselves.

Ewan McGregor is great as The Ghost (his character is never actually named). He's a witty, almost charming character. Though his wit oftentimes comes across as rude, even when he doesn't intend to be. He's also very curious, always questioning even the little things that are going on around him.

We see as he struggles with himself to stay out of trouble, but his curiosity always manages to get the better of him. From the very beginning when he takes on the job, and all the way to the end as he puts the pieces together, he's constantly being talked into situations, even by his own self, only to regret his decisions after the fact.

He's a very interesting character to follow along, as is the story he uncovers. And it all leads to an ending sequence that frankly no words could ever do proper justice. It's one of the freshest finales to a film that I've seen in years, and one that just has to be seen.

Let Me In

I've already spoken a bit about this film in a previous post, mainly comparing it the original film it's based on, Let the Right One In. As I said there, this remake has surpassed the original in every way imaginable, and stands on it's own as a completely engrossing, supremely satisfying experience.

What I really want to talk about here though is Chloe Moretz. She just sort of came out of nowhere this year. She started the year strong, playing Hit-Girl in the movie Kick-Ass. She was a foul mouthed 12 year old killing machine, and though she'd rather play with knives than Barbie dolls, there was still a hint of a girly girl at heart. She was tremendous in this role, and her superb acting streak continued in Let Me In.

Here, she plays Abby, a manipulative vampire girl. She's been around for ages, though she's been stuck in the body of a 12 year old the whole time. She appears to be innocent enough during her initial encounters with her next door neighbor, Owen. But as their relationship develops, we learn of a darker, more brutal side to Abby.

Like in her previous film outing, Chloe Moretz plays this role to perfection. I have no issues saying that she has been by far the best actress this year. I can't remember the last time I was this impressed with a new actor, and I'll definitely be keeping an eye on her career after such a strong breakout year.

Tron: Legacy

About a year ago, I first saw the teaser for the new Tron movie. I was left unimpressed, and not looking forward to this film. But as the year wore on, and more and more was revealed, I eventually became drawn to it. And let me tell you right now, this movie ROCKS!

It's a visual feast for the eyes, with a booming score by Daft Punk that'll still be playing in your head well after you've left the theater. Now this movie's been getting a lot of mixed reactions, with only the two things I just mentioned receiving any real praise. But I enjoyed the hell out of it. Everything about it. The beautiful visuals, the music, the story, the acting, Olivia Wilde, everything.

You can go in without having seen the original Tron, though there's some nice little nods here for those who have. The story really captivated me, even if it is fairly simple. We follow Sam Flynn, played by Garrett Hedlund, as he finds his way into the computer world known as The Grid in order to find his long lost father, Kevin Flynn, played by Jeff Bridges.

What he finds is a strange world, dark yet vibrant with it's neon lights. The “games” are an absolute pleasure to watch, and the cheering crowd adds a nice gladiator feel to them, fitting considering the stakes that are at hand. All of the action scenes are a real joy to watch. And the aforementioned soundtrack only adds to the intensity.

The acting is all fine, particularly considering that most of the characters are playing computer programs. But even the human characters do a good job. In fact, it's some of the more human scenes that stand out for me in this movie. I loved Sam describing the sun to Quorra, and I was smiling during the whole dinner conversation between father and son.

And Jeff Bridges does great here, doing double duty as both hero and villain. But I don't care what anyone says, his CGI face on Clu, as well as the younger Kevin, looked fine. There was only a single scene near the end of the film where it clearly stood out as being CGI.

It's an extremely fun movie, one that I enjoyed more than I ever would have imagined. But unlike my previous mentions in this list, the issue with this film isn't the lack of people seeing it, but rather the fact that many who've seen it have failed to see the greatness the lies within, shrugging it off as just a stupid, if pretty, movie. I found it to be so much more than that, though.

Oh, and I want my own downloadable Olivia Wilde please.


No surprise here, really. Inception is without a doubt the best movie I've seen, not only this year, but in the past several. There's not much that I can say that hasn't already been said, which is partly why I hadn't bothered to write up my own review of it before now. It's clever, ambitious, and inspired.

One of the things I constantly hear about this film is that it's also confusing, but I really don't find that to be the case here at all. The movie goes out of it's way to explain everything that's going on, and the story is honestly really straight forward. In fact, the only thing I found confusing was how so many people were somehow confused by this movie.

But that issue aside, as I've said before, the movie is very clever in the way it portrays the ways the human mind works in the dreaming state. It allows for a world of possibilities to be explored, and explore them it does with some of the most jaw dropping imagery you can imagine.

And as we dive deeper into the dream world, we're constantly haunted by the ever looming music, which almost acts as the movie's pulse. The booming bass in particular in many ways feels like a character itself, adding an even more epic feel to the movie's already epic scale.

I also want to make mention to the hallway scene. Yeah, that hallway scene. Oh. My. God. No matter how many times I see it, that scene sends chills through my body. It's possibly the most stunning visual I've ever witnessed on film, ever, and is a truly groundbreaking achievement.

The story was fascinating, the visuals were amazing, the score was top notch. What else is there to say? It's the best movie I've seen in years. Chris Nolan has truly outdone himself with this one.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

November: An Experience

Before I begin, I'll warn that this is going to be a more personal blog compared to my more recent posts.

Another November gone, and another National Novel Writing Month completed. I did things a little differently this year, however. While the goal for NaNoWriMo is supposed to be 50,000 words, I upped the ante, going for broke with a 100,000 word goal. 30 days later I accomplished this goal, though the finished product is hardly what I would consider to be a novel. I looked at the event as more of a writing exercise this year, to see how many words I could spew out over the course of a month. I finished up with a little over 104,000, though I definitely know I could have done more if I really pushed myself. But I'm not complaining, I'm relatively satisfied with my results, and I was again able to learn so much about myself through the month, both as a writer, and as a person.

One of the reasons I took on this inflated word count goal was to help motivate the other writers doing this event. After all, this year, my increased word goal wasn't the only thing different. I also acted as one of the local Municipal Liaisons for NaNoWriMo in my region. Basically meaning, I helped set up and run events in town, and had to keep my fellow writers updated and motivated with weekly e-mails, forums posts, and personal interactions. And while my initial intentions with my word count may not have gone exactly as planned (some thought I was just being braggy, though others did look to me as a rival), I do have to say that I am pleased with the outcome of this experience.

It was a challenge for me, being the generally shy and reserved person that I am. I was worried about a lot of things going in. Would I be accepted? Would I be able to be more open, or would I choke up? There were definitely times when I just didn't want to do the whole ML thing, but in the end, I managed to persevere. I was able to push through, stand up and talk in front of a group of people, and walk up to people I didn't know and strike up a conversation. All things that I'm not exactly comfortable doing, and completely clashes with my personality. I grew both as a person, and as a leader. I became more open, more confident, and I was able to form a closer bond to those around me.

I just hope that I was able to really help motivate the other writers. Even if I only managed to inspire just one person, as others were able to inspire me. I watched as so many people, both young and old, tackled the same goal. I watched as they battled with other stresses in life, such as work and school, and yet still kept on. I watched those word counts rise, and saw people, who were worried they wouldn't make it, complete their goals with flying colors. To me, watching all of this take place before my eyes was absolutely inspiring. And I wouldn't have been able to get through all of these challenges if it weren't for that inspiration and help I received from everyone else.

Though it was my third year doing it, NaNoWriMo was a whole new experience for me this year. And as I mentioned before, I was able to take away so much from this experience, and I hope to return and do it again next year.

I did also want to address one other matter, that being the novel I've been working on throughout the past year. I'm not going to talk too much of what it's about, but I will say this. It's a story that I've had in my head since I was just a little elementary school kid playing pretend with my neighborhood friend. It's based on many things that I've experienced throughout my life, with a fantastic twist added in to keep things interesting. It's a very personal story, though I doubt many of the people who've read it so far would have ever guessed that.

About two years ago is when I finally sat down and wrote out the outline for the first part of this story. Since then, I've generated some brief rundowns for the later parts, but I'm not quite there yet. At first, I really wanted this to be a comic book, and so I collaborated with an artist at work to do the drawings for me. He finished up several pages for our pilot issue, and it seemed like we had a good thing going at first. But our ideas began to clash a little too much, and we ended up going our separate ways.

I could have pursued another artist, but at this point, I just really wanted to get my story written down. So, instead of worrying about making it a comic, I decided that I'd just write the whole thing out and make it a novel. And hey, if it's successful enough, then I could adapt it into a comic book or cartoon series and all that other great stuff later on, right? Well, those were some of the ideas running through my head and keeping me motivated as I planned out the novelization of this story.

I finally began work on it at the beginning of the year, and I made a goal to be done with the first draft by the end of this year. I've been editing as I went along, so it took me a long time to make it to this point. But just a couple days ago, I finally did it. I finally completed the first draft of my manuscript. And I couldn't have done it without all of those who helped me. From the suggestions and critiques at local writing workshops, to the motivating words from my family (yes, I actually let family members read this one!). All of that helped push me to finish my novel, and I couldn't be happier right now.

I'm of course going to have to go back and do some more rereads, rewrites, and revisions. But as of right now, I'm satisfied. My next goal is to get this thing published, so we'll just have to wait and see how that goes.

I haven't been writing on my blog as much lately, though I do have a couple of new ones planned for the near future. It is the end of the year, after all. So that means it's about time for another end of year movie wrap-up. So join me again, as I tackle the very best, as well as some of the worst movies of the year 2010.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2

I just got finished up completing the main quest from the latest Naruto game, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. So, how about a little review, huh?

It's a decent game, though it's purely for fans of the show only. The fighting system is actually pretty intriguing. It's not like any other I've ever played. There's only a single melee button, as well as a “charge” type button for special moves. Then there's your guard button, a shuriken for weak projectile attacks, and a jump button. And using this very simple control system, you're able to perform all of the moves you'd expect from your favorite Naruto characters.

It threw me off at first, but once I got the hang of it, it actually grew to like it quite a bit. It's easy to just mash buttons and get some results here and there. But in order to take on the harder opponents, you really have to master this system, which isn't the easiest of tasks.

As for the main adventure mode, well, it's a chore for the most part. They make you pointlessly run all around the map to every single event, when they could have just as easily skipped these portions entirely in favor of cut scenes. That probably would have worked best, as there's really nothing at all engaging about running around from place to place. It's boring, plodding, and seemingly only there for the mere sake of artificially lengthening the game.

As a result of this poorly implemented filler gameplay, I have no intentions of playing through the adventure mode again, now that I've completed it. And if I weren't a fan of the series, then I couldn't see myself bothering with this game past the first hour or so. That said, once you actually get down to the real action, the game gets good. Usually, at least.

The Sasuke boss fight is definitely the shining moment of the entire game. It's better than either the anime or manga versions, by far. And the moment where, in the middle of battle, they seamlessly have you returning to their original fight at the Valley of the End was sheer genius, and a real treat.

Not all of the boss fights are this fun, however. Kakuzu was just a straight up pain in the ass. He's simple enough until he gets to his final form. Then it's just a rage inducing chore of a challenge. I can't remember the last time I got so frustrated with a game.

The story changed a few things here and there for the purposes of making the game run smoother, and for the most part, these changes are inoffensive. Some of the changes actually enhance the story, such as the aforementioned Sasuke fight. And in it's own way, even the Kakuzu fight was actually much more fitting than the anticlimactic encounter that took place in canon.

One issue I have, though, particularly later in the game, was the voice acting. There was just no direction at all, and this was made particularly evident after Jiraiya dies. Naruto is supposed to be sad and grieving, but he continues to speak in his normal tone, and it just sounds really awkward.

Also, concerning characters who haven't yet been introduced in the American anime, I'm not sure if their voice actors are finalized just yet. But if they are, I'm not exactly a fan of Madara's. It's far too different from Tobi's, unbelievably so. The Japanese voice is different as well, but it's similar enough to where it's not nearly that big of a stretch. This isn't so much a detractor concerning the game, just a general observation I took notice of.

I do have to say that I'm impressed with the way they handled everything in the Pain portion of the game. See, the game was being developed at the same time that the Pain arc was airing in the anime, so for all intents and purposes, the developers didn't have the anime to go by for this portion of the game. This basically makes the entire finale of the game a full on manga adaptation, which is pretty awesome in and of itself. It's not everyday you come across a video game adaptation purely for a manga.

What's also interesting is the decision to retail this game in America right now, despite the American anime being nowhere close to this point in the story. So for those few who still solely follow the anime as it's being aired on American stations, there's spoilers abound for anyone looking to dip into this game. But it's for these reasons and more why this game is especially for the hardcore fans of the series. The fans who have been streaming the series as it airs in Japan, and have been keeping up with the manga on a weekly basis. This is a game for the fans, and I can respect that about it.

Overall, I'd say that the game is pretty decent. As I said, it was made for the fans, so if you're not one, you probably aren't going to like it too much. But for those of us who are, then there's a lot of fun to be had here. I've still got a few things to unlock (Killer Bee, anyone?), so I'm not putting the game away just yet. But the fact that it's, as of now, only the second game this generation that I've felt compelled to actually complete really does say something of it's quality.

Or maybe that just says something of my obsession with Naruto. Who knows?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Let Me In

Last weekend saw the release of two fairly big films: The Social Network, and Let Me In. The Social Network was certainly good, though not nearly as impressive as the raving reviews would have you believe. On the other hand, Let Me In was absolutely phenomenal, and one of the very best films released all year.

Sadly, though, while everyone went out to see The Social Network, Let Me In's screenings were all but completely empty. Considering it's a vampire movie, and one involving somewhat of a love story at that, I'm actually a little surprised it didn't even attract the attention of the Twilight crowd. Not that I'm comparing this movie to Twilight, mind you.

Let Me In is the story of a bullied young boy named Owen. A new girl, Abby (played by Kick-Ass' Chloe Moretz, who is on one hell of a roll this year), moves in next door, and the two gradually grow close to one another. Abby isn't just any ordinary girl, though. Like Owen, she has her own set of problems. You see, she's actually a vampire. And that's how things get really interesting. Watching their relationship unfold is truly a fascinating thing to witness, and it's one that can be interpreted in a number of ways.

After watching this film and loving it so much, I became particularly interested in the original, and so I decided to give that a viewing. Let Me In is actually sort of a remake to the Swedish film Let the Right One In, a film that is itself soaring with critical praise, though I personally found to be highly overrated. Now, I say it's sort of a remake, because technically, it's the same story, and there are many things that are almost exactly the same in both. However, there's also a number of differences between the two, enough to where it's far from watching the same film twice. And where Let Me In makes these changes, it trumps over it's predecessor in glowing fashion.

While trying to stray away from spoiler territory, allow me to share a few comparisons of the films. I've heard the word "subtle" thrown around a lot when describing Let the Right One In. But where others find subtlety, I just see it as being lifeless. Now, I suppose one could look at this "lifelessness" as somewhat of a metaphor for our vampire's condition. Though as an enjoyable movie going experience, that just does absolutely nothing for me. There are many scenes in the film which are just poorly shot, as well as a number of scenes that are so unbelievable that they take me right out of the movie.

On the contrary, Let Me In is a completely engrossing film, one that sucks you in and refuses to let go until the credits roll. The scenes with the old man are uniquely shot, and are filled with tension throughout. Tension that is completely absent in the original. The lighting and music also adds a dark tone to the film, while Let the Right One In is almost entirely devoid of such mood. And all of the characters and their actions (the bullies, in particular) are very much relatable, and I think that's where this version gets it so right.

Now, while it certainly appears that I'm ripping a new one in the original film, it's not all bad. The scenes involving our two main characters are pretty much the same in both films, and are pretty much on par with one another in quality. But overall, while I found Let the Right One In to be a decent film at the very best, I was completely amazed by Let Me In, and I find it to be by far the superior film.

It really is a shame that nobody went out to see it. It's a supremely satisfying film that one-ups it's predecessor in every way imaginable. And even without taking into account that it's technically a remake, this film stands tall on it's own merits as a truly outstanding movie. It's a haunting story, one that will stick with you well after it ends, leaving you begging for more. It's the best vampire movie I've ever seen, and one that I wish more people would go out and see for themselves.

Monday, September 20, 2010


So my curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to go see Devil. I knew going in, considering the association with M. Night, that this film could go either way. This one actually turned out alright, though.

It's the story of a handful of people stuck on an elevator, one of whom is killing the rest off. The Devil, supposedly. Really, it's your basic "who dunnit". And honestly, I can understand how some people might find this one a little predictable, but it's still an enjoyable film nonetheless.

The story is well thought out. There's some legitimately tense moments (thank God for no cheap jump scares). I actually end up caring about some of the characters, which, considering the genre, really says something. And everything ties up really neatly for a satisfying ending. Now there's not exactly anything here that truly elevates this movie above merely decent, but that's okay.

Sadly, I think M. Night only hurt this film by plastering his name all over it, despite not even directing it this time. He actually has a decent film here, but I know of quite a few people who will most assuredly be avoiding it due to his name alone. It's kind of a shame, too. If they can retain at least this level of quality throughout the duration of these "Night Chronicles" (apparently this film is the first of several), he may just have a decent series of films on his hands.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Metroid: Other M

I purchased Metroid: Other M last week, and earlier today, I just completed the main portion of the game. It's a really great game overall, though it's not without it's flaw

The game is basically the classic 2D Metroid games brought to the third dimension. Unlike the Prime series, though, this one is played almost entirely from the third person perspective. It plays really well, though it does take a bit to get used to moving around at first. Unlike the Prime games, you can't just jump on every little thing in the environment, there's invisible walls blocking you off, so it feels a little clunky at first. I got over this pretty quick, though, so it didn't remain an issue as I progressed further in the game.

There are parts of the game where you need to go into a first person mode. You can only fire missiles while in first person, and you can scan the room for items or hints. The bad thing about these parts is that you can't move around, leaving you open for attack. These sections, too, take a little getting used to. The main controls are played with the controller sideways, like a classic NES controller. But to go first person, you have to point the remote at the screen. The change from third to first person is very smooth in the game, and even surprisingly so from a control aspect as well.

There is one particular aspect of this game that really holds it back, however. There are certain sections that you can't skip over, and you're forced into the first person mode. You then have to look all around the room in order to scan something that triggers the next cutscene. The thing is, though, you're not ever given any sort of clue as to what it is you're supposed to be looking for, and nothing in the environment ever sticks out as something that needs to be scanned. These portions are just obnoxious, and have actually given me the most trouble while playing the game. And considering this is a game heavy on combat and puzzle elements, that's pretty pathetic. They add nothing to the gameplay, and only hinder the experience. That said, now that I have gotten past them, hopefully they shouldn't prove to be a problem on a second playthrough.

Unlike past Metroid games, this one is very heavy on story. It takes place directly after the events of Super Metroid, and acts as a prequel to Metroid Fusion. We learn a lot about Samus' past, in particular her relationship with her superior Adam Malkovich. These flashback parts of the story are really interesting, and kept me wanting to find out more. As for the actual storyline of the game, however, it leaves a bit to be desired. It starts off interesting enough, but by the end of the game, things just really fall flat. I wouldn't say it was bad, though judging from the quality of the flashback scenes, the main storyline could have definitely been better.

Overall, this is a great game. The combat and puzzles are rewarding, the controls are generally spot on, and the story keeps me engaged. And other than the Guitar Hero games, no other game this generation has managed to suck me in and actually bother to play it to completion. And I have no intention of putting it away yet. That alone has me feeling this may just be the best game this whole generation so far. As far as how it stacks up to it's predecessors, I'm leaning towards it maybe even surpassing my current favorite, the original Metroid Prime. Some fans are put off by it's more cinematic presentation, but believe me when I say that it's a very good game, and I can't recommend it enough.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Last Airbender

The Last Airbender was my most anticipated movie this year. It also turned out to be the most disappointing movie I've seen this year so far.

There's so much wrong and so little right, I really don't even know where to begin. How about how there's absolutely no character in the movie at all. Zuko is the only character who gets any development at all, leaving everybody else to remain the lifeless cardboard cut-outs that they are. Aang isn't childish and goofy, Katara isn't motherly, Sokka isn't funny. Hell, Momo never even gets named, he just randomly flies across the screen a few times. Nope, none of these characters ever receives any development, and in the end we learn absolutely nothing about any of them.

Also, this movie sure does a whole lot of telling, but actually shows us very little. Considering the medium this is, that's just unacceptable. I did have some doubts when I learned that the movie wasn't even two hours long, I must admit. This movie should have never been under three hours, there was no way they could have ever fit in all that was necessary to make a decent movie out of this story in such a short amount of time. What we get is a rushed, jumbled mess, and the only thing that moves the story forward is some of the most forced, awkward conversations between characters.

There is one thing that managed to stand out in this movie, however. There's a number of really long action scenes shot in a single shot which are pretty impressive. In an age where action movies are filled with shaky cameras and quick cuts, it really was nice to actually be able to see all of the action happening in these scenes.

Also, about the whole racism controversy, after watching this movie I can whole heartedly say that it holds absolutely no ground whatsoever. There are maybe three white people in this movie. The cast is filled with so many characters of so many different races, how anyone can dare call this movie racist is an absurdity of epic proportions.

Anyways, in the end, to be fair, the first arc in this series probably is the hardest to adapt into a movie form, though he still fails miserably at it. My expectations for the sequels are at an all time low, though there is some hope that they could be better than this mess. (Not that that would be much of an accomplishment...)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Iron Man 2 and more...

So I just got back from seeing Iron Man 2, and it was... okay. Not as good as the first movie, which is itself extraordinarily overrated (seriously, everybody who likes to claim that Iron Man is somehow better than The Dark Knight is only lying to themselves. Please, Iron Man wishes it was even on the same level as The Dark Knight). However, Iron Man 2 wasn't at all a bad movie either. It's just... okay.

In many ways it's not as fun as the original, and the constant bickering between Tony and Pepper becomes quite annoying (though not nearly on the level of the abortion that is The Legend of Zorro). I still can't say that I'm a fan of the Iron Man series after this movie, and really, I think the only thing that might get me interested would be if they somehow get a Civil War type story going. After all, the only time the Iron Man character has ever really even been interesting to me is when he was the main antagonist during the whole Civil War series a while back.

The overall quality of these latest Marvel movies does have me a bit worried about the upcoming Thor, Captain America, and Avengers movies. While I don't expect any of them to be bad, I just can't see them stepping up to the likes of The Dark Knight, Watchmen, or the Spider-Man movies, which is a shame, and makes it kind of hard for me to really get pumped for them.

Anyways, so overall, while not a bad movie, Iron Man 2 did end up disappointing. I think Robert Downey Jr. should really stick with Sherlock Holmes, now there's a series worth looking forward to. As for upcoming movies, my most anticipated movie of the year still remains The Last Airbender. I can't wait for that one! So far, the best movies I've seen this year have been Kick-Ass, The Book of Eli, and The Ghost Writer (I really can't recommend that last one enough), and there's a few really good looking films still on the horizon as well. So while Marvel may not necessarily be delivering, there's still some good stuff coming our way.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Haven't done one of these in a while...

Well I just watched Wrestlemania XXVI on DVD, and I have to say that, overall, it was a decent show. It's the first full wrestling show that I've watched since... well, since I went to Wrestlemania two years ago I think! I'm not gonna break down every match like I've done in my older reviews, though I do feel compelled to share some brief thoughts on each of the matches.

The opening match was the Tag Team Championship match featuring the random pairing of John Morrison and R-Truth taking on the randomly paired champs The Miz and Big Show. Considering that last year's match, which actually featured two established teams and was supposed to unify the tag titles, got bumped off of the show, I personally find it amazing that this match found a way to stick around, if just barely. For the short while that it lasted, it was okay I suppose, though it ended way too quickly and just felt very uninspired.

The next match picked things up a bit. I really enjoyed the triple threat match between former Legacy members Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase, and Cody Rhodes. This is how a triple threat should play out, all three men were involved throughout the majority of the match, as opposed to the usual formula which is more like watching three individual singles matches while the third man takes an extended break on the outside. The story was well told, with the two younger stars wanting to make sure that Orton didn't win, only for things to explode between the two over which of them would be the guy to put him out. It turned out that neither of them could keep their former mentor down, as he finished them off with a punt to Cody's head and an RKO to Ted for the win. Good match, and I'm actually digging Orton as a face.

The Money in the Bank match was just awesome. Possibly the best of the series thus far. Everything about it just really gelled to perfection, it's hard to explain. It wasn't even as out of the control crazy as some of the previous matches, but it just felt like a more tightly knit package. I dunno, it's kind of hard to explain. I'm not a fan of Jack Swagger, so I'm less than thrilled about him winning the match, but the match itself was quite a show, where all men involved really had their chances to shine.

Triple H vs. Sheamus... DUD!

I was surprised when I hear Bret Hart was having a match at Wrestlemania, what with his health situation and all. Turns out that he was hardly going to be having a match at all. With his family at ringside, this was essentially an extended squash on Mr. McMahon, with Bret doing very little physically other than swinging weapons around. Still, I'm not sure how else this really could have gone down, so I suppose it was good for what it was. Oh yeah, and I've never realized this before now, but my god, Natalya is fucking GORGEOUS!

The World Title match between Chris Jericho and Edge was alright. They've had better matches in the past, certainly, but this wasn't necessarily a bad one. It had kind of a slow start, but once things picked up it god really good. And then it kinda just ended. I felt the ending was kind of flat, and had they been able to go on for at least another minute or two and maybe change up the deciding move it would have left a better taste in my mouth.

I missed the first match between Cena and Batista, but from all that I've heard it was great. Their rematch for the WWE title was itself a pretty good match as well. I don't really have much else to say about it really. Nothing objectionable, nothing overly fantastic. Next match.

Now here's where my opinion differs from a lot of people. I didn't want to see Taker and Michaels go at it again this year. Last year, they put on a classic, but this year I just wanted Taker to move on to something else. Sure, they had another good match this year, but it paled in comparison to their previous encounter. Also, the ending showed me that it really was a good decision two years ago when they decided against putting Flair/Michaels on last. Having Taker beat Michaels, thus retaining the streak and ending Micahels' career, we were left with Michaels walking to the back without any music or commentary behind him, just the cheers from the fans. While on any other show this would work as a good ending, it really felt sort of like a downer to cap off Wrestlemania. Instead of the usual show of pyro and massive celebrations in the ring followed by a recap of the night, we were instead treated to this awkward goodbye, and it just didn't work for me.

Overall, Mania was a decent show. There wasn't a single stand out match that I'd actually say deserves any sort of real commending, but it was still a fun show to watch nonetheless. I must say, however, that the actual build up for Mania this year was by far the best of any Mania in a long, long time. Most Mania's have a card that really just looks thrown together, but this year's show was filled with matches that all had a decent amount of history behind them. With Mania in Atalanta next year, if that show has a similarly good build up to it, then who knows, I might just be attending yet another Wrestlemania...

Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm done with Publix

Yeah, so in the end, Publix didn't turn out to be so hot after all. The managers have all turned out to be assholes, idiots, douchebags, and tool-sheds, respectively. The workload has continued to multiply with no end in sight, and the ludicrous scheduling on top of all of that has effected my life to the point where I'm too dead tired to ever do anything after my shifts. But that's okay though, because I'm giving them my two weeks, and while I look for a decent replacement, one of my old managers from the toy store is already hooking me up with another temporary job at his gas station. It's a new line of work, and looks to be really laid back, which will be a much needed change of pace from the constantly hectic style of work that I've been doing the past few years. We'll see how it goes, and if nothing else, at least I'm abandoning ship before I let the misery settle in too much this time.

Friday, February 5, 2010

2010 in Gaming, and My Top 10 WWE Matches of the Decade

Now I know that I promised to post my top 10 matches of the decade, but I also have another subject I want to address. I mentioned before that one of my upcoming blogs was going to be about the year 2010 in gaming, and a recent event in particular has inspired me to go ahead and tackle that topic now. So then, it's no big secret that I haven't been the biggest fan of gaming in recent years. The past few years I've found to be particularly poor overall. However, this year looks to be one of the brightest in some time.

Just last month alone we got two stellar titles which managed to pique my interest, Bayonetta and Darksiders. Bayonetta is an awesome game, kind of like Devil May Cry, only without the impossible difficulty, making for a very satisfying experience. The story is kinda whack, and I do think that the levels are entirely too long, but overall, this game's got style, and I've been having a blast with it so far. It's my kind of game, and is one of the best games I've played in years. I haven't gotten a chance to play Darksiders yet, but the premise sounds awesome enough. You're one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and you go about on your adventure in a post-apocalyptic setting (yeah yeah, the ultimate cliche nowadays, but bare with me). The gameplay is said to be a mix between Zelda and God of War. I mean, think about that for a second. Zelda and God of War. How does that not sound awesome?!

In fact, a few of the games being mentioned have that God of War feel to it, and I don't find that to be a bad thing at all. God of War was an amazing game, and one of the best beat-em-up style action games of recent times. The upcoming God of War III looks to continue it's epic trend, though sadly I don't own a PS3, so I won't be able to play that one. I'm more than happy to settle for the games that look to mimic it's fantastic gameplay, though, including next week's Dante's Inferno, which I can't wait to get my hands on.

Another game coming out soon that's got me interested is Final Fantasy XIII. I don't really know why, I haven't really been into the series ever since VIII, but something about this one just seems very appealing to me. The Japanese version has received mixed reactions thus far, though many of the complaints about the game I've actually found has furthered my interest in the game. I'm not certain just yet that I really wanna delve into another really long RPG, mainly because I highly doubt I'll actually have the patience to make it very far into the story anyways. But this game has got me more interested than any other RPG in years.

A couple of games a little further off in the year include Metroid: Other M and Epic Mickey. The few previews I've seen of the new Metroid just look amazing. It's being made by Team Ninja this time around, and will be somewhat of a mixture of the old and new, using both first person gameplay, as well as 2D gameplay within 3D environments. It also looks to have a little more focus on story this time around, so that should be interesting to see how it turns out. In any case, I'm pretty hyped for this game, and if Metroid's track record is anything to go by, then this one should definitely deliver. Epic Mickey, on the other hand, looks like a whole new experience altogether. I've seen the concept art of the (again) post-apocalyptic Disney settings, and it certainly looks intriguing if nothing else. I'm reminded of the older Mickey games, such as Mickey Mania, and I hope to see some of that old magic brought to life once more in this self proclaimed "epic" title.

Other than that, I recently picked up a Nintendo Power magazine with a few game previews, two of which happened to really catch my eye. EA has apparently taken over the NBA Jam license, and they're bringing the series back old school for the Wii. The original game was a blast, and based on what they've shown thus far, this new game looks to retain that old school glory. I'm really pumped for that one. The other game I saw was yet another Sonic compilation, this time for the DS, featuring all of the original Genesis Sonic games. Nothing new here, though I've always wanted my favorite game, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, on the go, so I'm certainly pleased with the announcement.

Speaking of Sonic, this is actually the recent event I referred to before which inspire this blog. It's time to change the tone a little bit now, as I'm just a bit ticked at the recent announcement of one Sonic the Hedgehog 4.

Sonic Team has officially announced that their "Project Needlemouse" that they've been working on is, in fact, Sonic the Hedgehog 4. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1, to be exact. It's a return to Sonic's classic 2D style gaming, and is basically Sega admitting that they don't know how to make a 3D Sonic, so they're going to just throw in the towel and go back to doing what they know how to do (that is, assuming they still know how to do it). Now that's all good and all, but what's got me pissed off is the way that they're releasing this game, and it's something that I've got a huge problem with the entire gaming industry as a whole right now. The game won't be released in retail, it won't be released on a disc. It'll be download exclusive. And that's bullshit.

For people, like me, who don't have their consoles online, I am now unable to play this game. Sega has basically given me the middle finger with this maneuver, and I feel completely insulted. Now, I can understand some games being download only. Those obscure games which wouldn't be able to find shelf space in stores anyways, sure, place them online to try and sell there. But a game like Sonic? This is something that would most assuredly sell in stores. Hell, the recent New Super Mario Bros. Wii more than proved that fact. But nope, since it's a simpler, 2D style of game instead of a huge, full blown 3D title, that somehow means that it doesn't rate a retail release anymore. It's a trend in gaming that I've been irritated by from the beginning, but this is pretty much the breaking point for me.

Let me just say this now, I am completely against all forms of downloadable gaming. Patches, downloadable content, downloadable games, all that crap, I am entirely, 100% against the mere concept of it. Now online multiplayer? That's fine. But downloading? That's bullshit. A game as it is released in stores should be the final version of that game. If it releases in such a state that a patch is needed in order to fix it, then it shouldn't have been released yet, because it clearly wasn't finished. And as for extra content? Any of it that was important should have found it's way into the game somehow before release, and anything that got left out can easily be saved for a sequel. Charging people extra for content that should have already been on the disc is a disgusting tactic, yet it's one that's being used left and right by gaming companies these days. It's hideous, and for people like myself, who don't have their consoles online, it's unfair. I already purchased my several hundred dollar console, why am I now still being restricted on what games I can or can't play on that system just because of my online access? I shouldn't be, and the fact that I am is, as I've said before, bullshit.

Sadly, I see online ultimately becoming the future of gaming, and that's why I'm almost certain that this will be my last generation of games. Because as bad as things are now, they're only going to get that much worse later on. Just think, some years from now when children asks their parents for that brand new game for Christmas, they won't have a gift waiting for them to be unwrapped under the tree. No, they'll have to turn on their console and see what games Mommy and Daddy downloaded for them. It's a depressing, impersonal future for gaming, but sadly, that looks to be gaming's future eventually.

My not being able to play Sonic 4, the successor to the greatest game of all time, and a game in which I've been waiting over a decade for, is a slap in the face by Sega. As far as I'm concerned, the game is completely null and void until it does receive it's proper retail release, like it deserves. I've been a bit peeved by past games which I've been unable to play, most notably being Mega Man 9, but this one just takes the cake. As big a fan of Sonic as I am, through the good and the bad, this, by far, is the biggest disappointment in the blue hedgehog's entire history.

So anyways, now that I got that rant off my chest, I'd still like to end things on a positive note. So that's my thoughts on the future of gaming, as well as my thoughts on this particular year in games, and from what I can see, just based on the few that I've posted it looks to be an excellent year, and I know there's many more that I've neglected to mention. But now, I believe a promised a match list. So then here it is, my top 10 WWE matches of the decade:

10. Wrestlemania X7:
WWF Tag Team Championship Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match:
The Dudley Boyz (c) vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian

9. Judgment Day 2005:
WWE Championship "I Quit" Match:
John Cena (c) vs. John Bradshaw Layfield

8. No Mercy 2002:
WWE Championship Hell in a Cell Match:
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Undertaker

7. Wrestlemania 25:
Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels

6. Royal Rumble 2003:
WWE Championship:
Kurt Angle (c) vs. Chris Benoit

5. Wrestlemania X7:
WWF Championship:
The Rock (c) vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin

4. Fully Loaded 2000:
Last Man Standing Match:
Triple H vs. Chris Jericho

3. Wrestlemania XXIV:
Career Threatening Match:
Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels

2. Royal Rumble 2007:
WWE Championship Last Man Standing Match:
John Cena (c) vs. Umaga

1. No Way Out 2004:
WWE Championship:
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Eddie Guerrero

I must apologize again for the lack of any extra thoughts on the matches listed, though I do want to say this. I've been into wrestling for well over a decade now. Well after it's peak in popularity, I remained a die hard fan through and through. Recently, though, my love for the sport has died down quite a bit. I haven't actually watched a show in it's entirety since last spring, and I've come to the point where I merely keep up with the product from week to week by reading recaps. Even when I was in boot camp I was never this out of wrestling, but alas, my passion for the craft has hit an all time low.

I've sort of fallen by the wayside as far as wrestling is concerned, and I've found new passions with which to fill that wrestling void. It's been such a huge part of my life though, and I've enjoyed the hell out of it over the years. The matches I listed both this week and last are just a sample of some of the fantastic things I've witnessed in the ring, and I can't recommend them enough to any fan out there. The fact that I still see fit to at least keep up to date still gives me hope that I haven't gotten rid of it for good, and maybe, hopefully one day, I'll become a true fan once again.

That's all for now, but next time I'm going to be trying something a little different, so stay tuned for that!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Top WWE Matches of the Decade, 20-11

So last night I just read up about a contest known as the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. It's some sort of deal where you submit an unpublished manuscript, and the winners receive a publishing contract. The deadline for submissions is in a little under two weeks, so I think I'm actually gonna try and give this thing a go. I'm not sure just how far I'll make it, but I'll never know unless I try, right? I'm pretty confident with my story thus far, but it still needs a little bit of work done to it. So, I'll be spending the majority of the time until then working on fixing up my story, which means that I won't have any time to really go too in depth with these blogs in the meantime. I did promise a top 20 list, though, so for now, I hope you'll be able to settle for numbers 20-11. I'll actually try to tack on some brief match reviews for the top 10 that I'll be posting later on.

20. Survivor Series 2003:
10-Man Survivor Match:
Shawn Michaels, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, and The Dudley Boyz w/ "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Christian, Mark Henry, and Scott Steiner w/ Eric Bischoff

19. Raw July 2004:
World Heavyweight Championship 60 Minute Iron Man Match:
Chris Benoit (c) vs. Triple H

18. Taboo Tuesday 2004:
Steel Cage Match:
Randy Orton vs. Ric Flair

17. Unforgiven 2006:
WWE Championship Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match:
Edge (c) vs. John Cena

16. Wrestlemania 23:
World Heavyweight Championship:
Batista (c) vs. Undertaker

15. Judgment Day 2004:
WWE Championship:
Eddie Guerrero (c) vs. John Bradshaw Layfield

14. Summer Slam 2001:
WWF Championship:
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin (c) vs. Kurt Angle

13. Raw December 2003:
World Heavyweight Championship:
Triple H (c) vs. Shawn Michaels

12. Smackdown December 2003:
WWE Championship:
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Chris Benoit

11. No Way Out 2006:
WWE Championship:
Kurt Angle (c) vs. Undertaker

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Top 10 Movies of 2009

So I'm a little behind on my blog projects I had mentioned before. I've been caught up with a few things, most notably the completion of the first draft of my latest novel. I printed up a copy and showed it to Rob, and sure enough he was floored. I can't wait to go back a few weeks from now and get his reactions on the book. But anyways, that's the stuff I've been up to, but now it's time for me to sit down and get caught up on those aforementioned blog ideas. So I have a series of "best of" blogs planned. I know, original, right? Well, maybe, as I doubt very much that many people share a lot of my opinions on the matters I have in mind.

So, first off, I present my Top 10 Movies of 2009. 2009 was an exceptionally good year for movies I felt. I saw many movies that I enjoyed very much, and there were many more still that looked intriguing enough to actually manage to drag me out to the theaters. A lot of movies that I thought would disappoint ended up flooring me, some of which make it onto this very list. So, I now present my personal best in movies for the previous year.

10. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Now I'm not exactly a Harry Potter fan, and for years I've actually expressed my dislike of the series. That was mainly due to the fact that I only gave the series a single chance, and it just so happened that I didn't enjoy the first installment too much. And so, until now, the series has gone mostly ignored by me. But this year, I decided to give it one more chance, and I couldn't be happier for that decision. I see now that the series actually does have quite a bit to offer, much more than I initially figured, and after watching all of the movies in the past year, I have to say that the latest installment, The Half-Blood Prince, is by far my favorite.

When I watched it in theaters, I merely felt it was, well, okay. A decent movie. After it released on DVD, I watched it again, and it felt like a whole new experience. I loved everything about it, and I've gone back to re-watch it multiple times since. It has so much charm to it, and I love the emphasis more on some of the minor plot points in the story, which really go on to flesh out a lot of the characters, something that I felt went largely ignored in some of the previous films. And Harry is a much more likable character in this film as opposed to the others. I especially like the scene after Harry takes the "liquid luck". His out of context reactions were a pure delight to witness.

I felt this was a fine installment to an established series, and one of the few in that series that truly has legs of it's own on which to stand upon. Even if you're not a fan of the series, like I used to be, I would still recommend The Half-Blood Prince on it's own merits. And if you really need more incentive to see it, then I just have two words for you: Emma Watson.

9. The Hangover

Ho-ly shit! This movie was just flat out funny. Hilarious. By far the biggest surprise of the year. When I first heard about this movie, I just blew it off as yet another dumb "comedy." Good thing I listened to the countless reviews which went on to rave about the movie, because for once, they were right.

This is one of the funniest movies I've seen in years, at least since Bad Santa a few years ago. The situations these characters find them in are just so absurd, yet never feel so over the top as to take you out of the film. And the movie remains just as funny even upon multiple viewings, a true testament of it's comedic genious. If you're looking for a good laugh, even if you've seen it before, just watch The Hangover.

8. X-Men Origins: Wolverine

This was bound to happen, I'm a total geek for comic book movies. And they just seem to be getting better and better. Wolverine is no exception. While not the best comic movie to come out, I will say that it blows away the rest of the series that it originates from. From the awesome opening scene showing Logan and Victor fighting through all of America's wars from the Civil War to Vietnam, all the way to the final, awesome battle with Deadpool, this movie delivers.

The introduction of some classic characters that fans have been clamoring to see in the X-Men films, such as Gambit and Deadpool, were very well handled I felt. Ryan Rhynolds played his role to perfection, and I look forward to seeing him in the spin-off series that's said to be in the works. Gambit I was a little hesitant about, as I feared they might not pull off the character so well. Gladly, they did just that, and I was very pleased with the outcome. The other character I worried about was Victor. After seeing how they portrayed the character Sabretooth in the first one, I was skeptical about how they were going to pull him off here. They completely re-imagined his character thankfully, and he proved to be a great villain for our hero, with a lot more depth to him that his former incarnation.

And speaking of our hero, Hugh Jackman's never had a problem playing Wolverine, and he continues to do an exceptional job here. They did a great job in handling the potential plot holes of some of the X-Men recognizing him in the later movies and whatnot. And the point in which he loses his memory was very well done as well. It was almost heartbreaking seeing him wake up and not remember who he was, or the people he loved.

This was an exciting, action packed blockbuster, which exceeded it's predecessors effortlessly. I look forward to future installments both of the Wolverine series, as well as the other planned "Origins" movies. (I'm looking at you, Magneto!)

7. Sherlock Holmes

Robert Downy Jr. is on a roll. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and as I told a friend of mine, it mainly has to do with how much I enjoy the show House. For those who don't know, House is actually based off of Holmes, and the similarities show themselves in full force here. In many ways, watching this movie was like watching an awesome episode of House, except with ass-kicking action as opposed to furiously trying to find a cure to some illness.

The dialogue in this movie is very entertaining to listen to, in particular the banter between Holmes and Wilson throughout the movie, which will put a smile on anyone's face. One of the biggest stand-outs here, though, is the way in which Holmes will, step by step, analyze the various fights he finds himself in, playing them out blow for blow in his head, and then performing them to perfection in that exact manner. Very awesome stuff from an expectantly satisfying movie.

6. Zombieland

There's so many zombie-themed properties releasing these days that it's almost sickening. Of all of the Resident Evils, Left 4 Deads, and 28 Days Laters, one of them manages to stand out among the pack. And that would be Zombieland.

Like The Hangover, this film is absolutely hilarious. It's essentially a survival guide for the zombie apocalypse as explained to us by a very socially-awkward young man, who meets a crazy cast of characters in his journeys. Most notable among them is the Woody Allen played character, Tallahassee, whose appearance received a particular show of applause from my theater. The cameo appearance of Bill Murray is also quite possibly the greatest cameo in a movie ever. His scenes provide some of the most gut wrenchingly funny moments in the film.

The various rules of survival we learn come into play many times throughout the film, and they never grow old as they constantly evolve and become revised with the increasingly crazy situations we find our heroes in. Overall, this film breaths a whole new life into an otherwise overdone genre about the undead. Killing zombies has never been more fun.

5. Brothers

When I saw the trailer which featured Tobey Maguire and Jack Gyllenhaal as brothers, two actors who I've been saying look almost exactly alike for years (and seeing as they're officially rebooting Spider-Man without Tobey Maguire, who better to fill in for him than his Hollywood lookalike?), I just had to see this movie, if only for that premise alone. Thankfully, the movie itself is actually very good. It's extremely gripping, and will take you on an emotional roller coaster. Many scenes are just extremely hard to watch, but in a good way.

It's the story of a Marine, Sam, who gets captured overseas, but is reported as dead to his family back home. Dealing with his death, the Marine's brother, Tommy, who's a complete screw up, pulls himself together and comes around to become a real part of the family for once. As his relationship with Sam's widow grows, they learn that Sam is still alive, and is on his way home. Cue the awkwardness.

Sam, played by Tobey Maguire, has to come home and try to deal with the horrible thing he had to do in order to keep his life. This in turn kills him inside, and he takes it out on his family. The relationship between his brother and wife, played by Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman respectively, don't exactly help matters, but they certainly serve as a nice scape goat for him to hopelessly try and escape from his demons. It's a drama that'll suck you in and keep you on the edge of your seat throughout, a nice change of pace from the few other dramas I've watched this year which only served to bore me.

So this is what you get when you take a jarhead, Spider-Man, and Darth Vader's wife, and put them all in a movie together. Greatness!

4. Star Trek

Like I mentioned with Harry Potter, I have never been a Star Trek fan. I'm still not, in fact. The series has always only ever managed to bore me. That is, until now. I was surprised by how well this movie looked from the trailers, and so I eventually gave in to temptation and went against my prior judgment of the series, giving this film a chance. This latest theatrical release was just awesome, to say the least.

Watching the story of Kirk grow into the role of Captain of the Enterprise was surprisingly entertaining. It managed to show us a satisfying amount of science-fictiony mumbo-jumbo without ever going too overblown with it, and thus rather than losing it's audience, it manages to stick with us and keep our interest instead. It's got just enough camp to it without looking like a joke, which provides nice, humorous changes of pace throughout the film. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and yet it's a serious revival of an otherwise boring series. Star Trek was a pleasant surprise, and I actually anticipate seeing where they take this series from here.

3. Inglourious Basterds

This seems to be a theme here. Properties in which I'm not a fan of turning out great movies. And here's another one, Quentin Tarantino's latest film, Inglourious Basterds. Now, I'm no fan of Tarantino's. I find his work to be largely overrated overall. Kill Bill was unimpressive, Reservior Dogs was nothing special at all, and Death Proof is one of the worst films (if you can even call it that) that I've ever seen in my life. The bits and pieces I've seen of Pulp Fiction over the years haven't been bad, but Tarantino's track record with me has always prevented me from actually bothering to go out and see it in it's entirety.

And then there was the Basterds. He calls this film his masterpiece, and I agree whole heartedly. This movie was absolutely phenomenal. Tarantino's films are known for their long conversational dialogue scenes, many of which go on to really just talk about nothing of real importance. That's not the case here, as every single thing mentioned has a purpose. And the scenes are so tense they pull you right in and keep you on edge with every single word. Almost every scene feels like at any moment, someone might slip up and all Hell will break loose. In particular, I loved the scene where Shosanna and Col. Landa have their meeting. The music that cued just as he walked up behind her sent chills down my spine.

I really have to give huge praise to the actors in this film, who all did a fantastic job in their various roles. None more, however, than Christoph Waltz as "The Jew Hunter", Colonel Hans Landa. His performance is, bar none, the best of the year. He does a terrific job, and it's almost certain that his character will go down as one of the classic villains in film.

This film is always tense, and it's a whole lotta fun. Over the years, I look forward to people bringing up this film the next time they want to talk about Tarantino classics.

2. Watchmen

Going into 2009, this was my most anticipated movie of the year. And it didn't disappoint. Watchmen is up there with the best of the comic book films, and yet it's a major departure from the norm in the genre. Playing out more as a mystery than an action movie, you'll get sucked right in as we learn the various backstories of the wide variety of characters.

The movie stays very true to it's source material. The scenery and the dialogue are lifted right out of the pages of the comic, and really bring the graphic novel to life. All of the characters are played to perfection, and really come alive here. This film feels human, and that's part of the appeal. As we learn of the tragic lives that lead these regular people to a life of crime fighting, dressing up as super heroes even though none of them possess any actual super powers (other than Dr. Manhattan, of course), I just can't help but relate. Characters who you'll initially despise, such as The Comedian, you'll grow to really understand and appreciate as the movie goes on. The music throughout the films also plays a really important role. The soundtrack is really awesome, and all of the tracks are well placed and set the mood nicely.

The way this story plays out has also played a huge factor in inspiring my latest novel that I've written. I love the story, I love the characters, just all around I love this movie. And I'll even say this, I think the film is better than the graphic novel that it's based off of. The new ending certainly is, as it wraps things up much more tightly, and feels a lot more natural than the original from the comic. This is one of the best movies I've ever seen, and as such, it's really disheartening to see that this film has landed on so many "disappointing" lists in the past year. I was all set to name this as my 2009 movie of the year, all the way to the end, until I saw my #1 film...

1. Avatar

Since I took down my previous blog, most of you missed my review I posted on this film, so I'll just go ahead and re-post that, as it sums up my feelings on this film quite nicely:

So I decided to go ahead and see Avatar, and I couldn't possibly be happier that I made that decision. This movie is without a doubt a perfect 10/10, and the best movie to come along all year. It is flawless, absolutely flawless. I went in expecting something good, and I came out completely amazed by what I saw. And I was watching it in one of the worst movie-going experiences in recent memory, including crying babies in the theater, talking children, cell phones ringing, and problems with the sound and video at times. And yet none of these distractions were able to take anything away from this sheer masterpiece of a movie.

There are few movies that make me feel as happy to be watching them as this one did. Hell, I've still got chills just thinking about it. Most of the time after watching a great movie, I actually have to think about it for a while before it really hits me just how good the film was. With this one, though, it was instant. I knew I was watching something special as it was taking place before my eyes. It is a breathtaking experience, with a world so alive that I was actually left wondering just how in the Hell they pulled it off, and I can't even remember the last time I had such a thought about another movie. This movie just brings a whole new level of epic to film. I can truly say that it was honestly a privilege to witness this movie.

And next, as an added bonus, I'll present to you my Top 10 Movies of the Decade. And seeing as I've already said all that needs to be said about these films over the years, instead, I'll merely add a one word review to each entry. So then, lets start off with...

10. V for Vendetta

9. Wall-E

8. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

7. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

6. Spider-Man

5. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

4. Watchmen

3. Avatar

2. The Dark Knight

1. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

So there it is, folks! I'm a little more caught up now, so join me next time, as I run-down my list of the 20 greatest WWE matches of the decade, and then we'll take a look at the great year for gaming that 2010 looks to be. Later!