It’s been a bad day. It has been a bad day for a lot of people. There are only a few things I have ever held onto in my life; my family, my daughter, my love of the arts, and my favorite childhood icon…the Ghostbusters. I feel so dumb and juvenile as I can’t shake the fact that for the first time ever…
A Ghostbuster passed away today.
Through anyone’s life time, we have friends come and go, family leaving us and I am not stating that this loss is harder; it is harder on the Ramis family to be sure and my heart goes out to them and anyone else this actor has worked with over the years and my sadness is nothing in the grand scheme of things, I know…but it doesn’t make it any easier for me.
I am so stupid. Why does something like a movie from the 80’s, my childhood, stick with us for so long? If I had to argue it, it is because I think the film is flawless and has stood the test of time. When I was a child, it was the proton packs and the special effects used that made it so cool, when I was a teenager it was the dry humor and the quick wittedness of everyone involved, and when I became an adult and started working in business, I appreciated the business aspect of the movie.
As I have gotten older, I found it hard to watch your parents; grandparents and even siblings and cousins get old. You know in the back of your mind that everyone goes away to whatever place you choose to believe in, but it never occurs to you the things people do in their life that affects you personally.
I never met Harold Ramis and I am not going to go into his career as a comedian, writer and director; we all know it by now from all the publications today.
I saw ‘Ghostbusters’ in 1985. I was six years old and movie was out on VHS and my parents allowed me to watch it. Then, a while later, the cartoon premiered and I dragged my happy behind out of bed in our home in Norton, Ohio and slid down the railing like the Ghostbusters slid down the fire pole when they had a job to go to. It was a ritual for years and it didn’t stop my obsession. Then there was the toys, oh man, the toys! I had all the Ghostbusters; Peter, Ray, Winston, and Egon; riding in the hard plastic Ecto-1 busting out the Firehouse/Headquarters red doors and finding a ghost somewhere in my room. Those were the days, and then the toys were gone. They were donated because I stopped playing with them…I grew up, but that never stopped my love for the franchise as I went to see the sequel and even stuck around when they came out with Extreme Ghostbusters.
Loving this franchise was…is part of me. There will never be a day that goes by where there won’t be something ‘Ghostbuster’ related in my home. Even now, my family asks, “What is it about that movie?” and my response is always, “What isn’t there?”
Through all the movies and cartoons, I never fathomed that there would be a day that a Ghostbuster could die, and today it happened…and I am having a rough time with it as a lot of other people.
The fact is that there may have not been a ‘Ghostbusters’ the way we know it without Harold Ramis…Egon Spengler, great director, great writer; however you choose to remember him and for those of us that love his movies, and there are many…I know there is…wherever you are now Mr. Ramis…
Just make sure you tell them about the Twinkie.
After that one image of a Michelangelo Halloween costume, I freaked. Now this new photo has surfaced and I feel a lot better. Not sure how I feel about my turtles with threads on, but its a vast improvement on what I thought it may be.
I am not going to say that I think that all these movies are going to brilliant, blockbusters, or even good for that matter. Never the less, I do want to see these movies, even if the buzz surrounding them is not that impressive. These are also in no particular order…
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
It was surprising to me and a lot of other people that the last movie worked so well. The technology was amazing, it circled around the original in a clever way, and it was kind of heart wrenching the way the apes were treated thus making their actions understandable. I think it is a crime that Andy Serkis has not, and may not, receive a major award for his work but I am glad that he continues to do so. Another draw is the director, Matt Reeves. I like Reeves. I like “Cloverfield” and “Let Me In” (I still find the original better), and I had no real qualms about him taking over the sequel. I just hope that it is a worthy follow-up, but my fear is that people will not identify with it as much because it is now a smidge post-apocalyptic now, like the originals or course, but I hope that doesn’t make or break it for the audience.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
Unlike a lot of people, I like this new Peter Parker. Not that I didn’t like Tobey McQuire but this seems to be more of the ‘Ultimate Universe” as opposed to the ‘Golden Age’ and I can identify with the character a bit more; having said that…this movie could be a smidge ridiculous, not that it’s a bad thing. I am pretty sure they are going the Sinister Six route, which is fine, but the inclusion of Electro(Jamie Fox), Rhino(Paul Giamatti), and Green Goblin or Hobgoblin(Dane Dehaan)…or whatever version, seems to going into ‘Spider-man 3’ territory and most times having multiple villains on screen doesn’t bold well. Then again, we don’t go to see superhero films to get wrapped up in the storyline that much anyways.
A terminally ill scientist downloads his body into a computer. This grants him power beyond his wildest dreams, and soon he becomes unstoppable. So, ok…it’s a modern day ‘The Lawnmower Man’…I kid, I kid. I am not familiar with director Wally Pfister except he was the cinematographer for Christopher Nolan. I suppose if you are going to step out on your own you can have worst people to be linked with. I am curious about this movie. It could be brilliant, but could also be a big heaping pile, but then again so can most flicks. Oh! It has Johnny Depp not working with Tim Burton or Gore Verbinski, so that could be interesting.
I admit that when I heard of this coming back around, I rolled my eyes due to the flashback of going to the theater to watch the Roland Emmerich adaptation…what I pile of crap that was. It had a few good moments but the actors never clicked and it was just, well, kind of boring. Time goes by and I see the poster and all that jazz…then the trailer came out. Thank you! Thank you for at least making the trailer look like this is a film that someone can give a damn about and it doesn’t hurt that Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen are in it. I think this is meant to be seen in a theater.
GAURDIANS OF THE GALAXY
It almost seems that Marvel can do no wrong with these movies. I just started reading this comic and I do enjoy it…a lot. I also like James Gunn, and if anyone can at least pull off the humor from the books, it would be him. Oh, and two words…Rocket Raccoon. That character alone will sell this movie to kids and will probably be the toy of choice this summer, assuming that it will be a PG movie. I have no issue with the casting like some other people do. Like the rest of the Marvel Universe, it will tie in somehow, maybe with Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet…or maybe with the Avengers…like…in third Avengers movie, they fight Thanos and they are beaten down and just when all hope is lost the Guardians of the Galaxy come in out of nowhere to help….(brain just exploded)
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
Fox and Bryan Singer have some balls, I’ll give them that. Taking this story from the older X-men comics and running with it, collaborating with both sets of X-men actors, and then already getting ready for another sequel. If Fox were smart, they would team with Marvel and mix the worlds but that’s my fantasy. According to Jackman, “it’s as big in scope like Avatar”…bold words and I just paraphrased from an article I just read. Anyways, it appears that the movie may be one of the longer films, so much so that they cut Anna Paquin from the film for time. Ouch. But that’s okay; she plays a good Rogue in ‘True Blood’. Once, again, they have my money.
(To Be Continued…..)
I hope everyone has a great New Year and once again this list is based off my own personal experience and is pure opinion that some will agree with and some will not. What was your favorite?
#1 Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Before the Xbox 360 even came out, trailers for “The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion” started to hit the internet. Then I was bombarded with people reserving the game, stating that they would probably not be seen for days because of this game. I didn’t understand. I knew of The Elder Scrolls. I knew of Morrowind on the original Xbox, but never knew enough about it to pick it up. The trailer for this game was something I showed off to show people what “next-gen” would be like and they ate it up. I was a bit of a poser; I talked it up but never bothered to play the previous ones.
Then it came out. I bought it due to some peer pressure from my assistant manager, Tyler. Not only did I buy it, I bought the collector’s edition.
I started scoping out the lands and was immediately impressed by the beauty of the world of Tamriel. I then started to go on quests and joined a guild…and this was my life for the next week.
Wife: Going to bed…you coming?
Me: No…I’ll be in later
Wife: You still playing that?
Me: Yeah…I’ll be in bed in a sec.
7:30 AM (I never went to bed)
Wife: Going to work…don’t be on that game all day.
1:00 PM (lunch break then back to game)
5:30 PM (wife comes home disgruntled)
Wife: Get the hell off that machine!
This went on a few days and if there was a game that would have resulted in me getting a divorce, it would have been this one. I could not soak in the scenery enough and the music in it kept me even more into the game. While most will say the ‘Skyrim’ is the better game, and it may be, there was something about this game and storyline that still resonates with me even so many years after its release.
Between the quests, the different guilds, the expansions, and random walks along the land; The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was my best gaming experience to the point that I got over 1000 Gamerscore on my Xbox, which I never do.
Final Fantasy XIII
I will be as honest as I can be in my opinion here. I love Final Fantasy. I probably always will in some respect, but this game is exactly what Square-Enix has turned into; a victim of their own success. We, meaning, gamers don’t need a whole lot. We need a game that is fun to play, a FF game that is somewhat grounded in the sense of keeping around what makes the franchise great; towns, items, exploration, etc. This game had hardly any of that.
I like cinematic scenes, but not when the game is but long CGI scenes that takes forever to get to the point. Since FF VII, there has been so much praise over its cut scenes that for some reason they feel that a game needs to be one big movie as opposed to a game. Luckily, its sequel(s) seem to be step in the right direction but may too little too late and I hope that FF XV will be a much improved and until then, I get more excited over a ‘Persona’ game by Atlus.
If you haven’t already…’would you kindly play this game?’ I never really called myself a real gamer until about 2005 due to my profession at the time and my intrigue to the whole process of games and the companies that make them. I did not know what ‘System Shock’ was, or who Ken Levine was at the time, but in all fairness neither did a lot of people. The title of ‘Bioshock’ is now and forever be in the gamer terminology. What the team at 2K does is pretty much reinvent the wheel in a sense when it comes to first person shooters; it wasn’t about just running and gunning but rather telling a complex story that comes together in the end. Some people will disagree and say Half Life did this…and they are correct for the most part, but Half Life never looked at great as this does and I don’t think it captured that sense of wonder that ‘Bioshock’ did, and as much as I like Half-Life, I couldn’t thoroughly explain the plot without stumbling on my own words.
When I got the issue of Game Informer magazine that had the reveal on the cover I was intrigued. When I saw gameplay footage I was mesmerized by the use of the plasmids. When they announced the demo on television (I can’t remember what I was watching) I turned off the TV and went to my Xbox and downloaded the demo and play the crap out or it and by then I was sold…I had to have it to the point I got the collector’s edition.
Yeah…who’s your Big Daddy?
‘Bioshock’, in my opinion, is the game that helped define the last console generation. I thoroughly believe that if not for this creation of greatness, we wouldn’t have games like Last of Us, Beyond Two Souls, amongst some others. Not to say that we wouldn’t get these games eventually in time, but I don’t think many people can really argue that Levine and his team helped pave the way at the very least.
#3 Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
While other games that I have mentioned could have easily been in this spot, I chose the second installment of the Uncharted series because it was the game that proved to me that games were transforming in a way that was going to be the basis in which games would start being produced. This game, which took its cues from films like Indiana Jones, kept me playing consistently and had my family gathering around the couch to watch what happened next. This is also in the number three spot because it gave my dad an interest in games, at least more than I thought he ever would and that is a feat in of itself. This was also the reason I bought a PlayStation 3 and why I will always have a PlayStation product…for games like this amongst others. While, I think ‘The Last of Us’ is better written than this game, without ‘Uncharted’, there wouldn’t be a ‘Last of Us’, and I think credit is deserved for this game and the franchise in general.
The World Ends with You
Some may have noticed my lack of handheld games on this list. That would be because I am not a handheld gamer type of guy. I do like to dabble but I can’t seem to keep myself focused on the small screen because I am spoiled by the HD screen in my living room…It’s not the systems…it’s me. There were a few gems that kept me coming back and The World Ends with You is the game that did it. If you haven’t played this yet, I would suggest doing so because there is so much to do while battling; it is hard to get bored with it and when I turned the game off it was due to the need for sleep. I hope they sequelize it soon and I hope they can come up with a version for the home console because…that would just be sweet and get more people to play it.
#4 THE LAST OF US
This damn list just gets harder and harder to do as the games get that much better (in my opinion). I can’t write too much more about this game than I already have. This is the best movie of 2013, only… it’s a game. Read the review below:
On April 16th, 2010, Roger Ebert wrote the article in his blog called, “Video Games Can Never Be Art”. Since then, the topic has been debated back and forth for the last three years since. A few months I mentioned that “Bioshock Infinite” was the closest piece of intellectual property that comes close to proving Ebert wrong. It’s storyline of bigotry in America, life choices, war, and even quantum physics brought videogames to another plain; people still are scrounging through Bioshock to find hidden object, recorders, and even playing a second or third time through so they understand it all. The fact is they know it and the fact that they can’t put it into words is frustrating, and anything to help with the debates or even the telling of friends about the game to make it coherent helps.
The best way I can describe it is that every year I watch the film “Jacobs Ladder”. It’s a great movie, in my opinion, but the main reason is to reassure myself that I understand it, in spite of the fact that I can’t convey the whole plotline. It’s the same with David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive”; I get it, but talking to you about it won’t do it justice.
“The Last of Us” is not like those films, or even like ‘Bioshock’, but it is indeed something else.
I realize that I am late to the game in the reviewing process for this game because I am not privy enough to get advanced copies of games, but I read a lot of reviews when the game came out; 10/10 and 5 out of 5 stars seemed prominent, but with that I don’t think most reviewers got the uniqueness of the story itself and based their reviews more on atmosphere, which ‘The Last of Us’ has plenty of.
At this point, any of you reading this will more than likely know the premise; Joel is tasked with escorting Ellie to a group a people called ’The Firefly’s’ to possibly help mankind against the infected population. There I did it just in case. Naughty Dog is not a stranger to atmosphere and great backdrops and graphics (The Uncharted series), but in this they take it a step further with character interaction, atmosphere and plot development. Every step you take, and every action you do has some sort of deeper meaning when you play the game. For example, throughout the game you are consistently picking up ladders and placing them in spots or lifting Ellie up to a ledge so she can unlock a door or move something to help the both of you reach higher places, but at one point when the triangle button appears indicating to press it so Ellie can climb…she doesn’t come. Instead, she sits on a bench in a daze. The developers could have easily created a cut scene, but they didn’t, they kept the story going by using an action that comes second nature to us as players.
The storyline is not for the faint of heart as the script has no qualms in taking a character and pulling a complete 180 on you. People die, people are sick, people are terrible human beings as is indicated by one of the female characters…
“Guess what? We’re shitty people, Joel!”
The interesting thing about the game is the empathy for the people you come into contact with. Your character and the others around you are not that much better than the humans you face in the game (which are just as much, if not more than the infected). The game creates a sense that in spite of the bad things you do, there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel somewhere and in this game, the year travel across the country is a trying one to see a glimmer of that hope, but in spite of the horrors that no one, man or child should ever see, they keep going…because its worth it.
I was told that I may be impressed with the ending, or disappointed. I was both.
Before I get into that, the gameplay needs to be addressed. The developers did a job well done on ‘The Last of Us’, which they should, since it seems to be the same as their Uncharted series with some additions. The real time crafting of tools was a fine touch as well as the weapon upgrading, but the latter is nothing new to games nor should it be, but if I wasn’t as enthralled with the story, it would have been like playing Nathan Drake and Elena from Uncharted all over again. That may come off as a bit unfair or harsh, and it’s not meant to be, I love the ‘Uncharted’ games and that is a great engine… it just felt way to familiar.
Stealth is key element to this game; guns an bullets are limited in this game as they should be in a post-apocalyptic world. However, when shooting humans with a shotgun four times in the chest, it seems way to unrealistic. With a game that wants to stay in some sort of realism and focus on stealth, shouldn’t the regular humans die normally if you shoot them in the heart multiple time with the limited bullets your machine gun has in it?
I would also like the applaud the cast. The voice work and motion capture was top notch, but I didn’t expect anything less from the people at Naughty Dog. Troy Baker is rapidly becoming one of my favorite voice actors, hell, actor. His portrayal of Joel is the stuff that awards are made for and Ashley Johnson plays Ellie with grit laced with innocence in a world that is anything but.
The ending. I will not spoil the ending for you. I will just say this; as a gamer I was shocked the way it ended, but as a movie fan I was thrilled. Gamers are spoiled, pure and simple. We get to the end of a game and we engage in an epic battle with tense music and when it’s all over we look for that achievement/trophy in the corner of the screen and call it a day. This game ends in a way that makes sense given the story line and was outside what I thought it would be because of what I am used to in games. If you look at this as an experience and a technical or even storytelling greatness then the ending will make you put down the controller, sit back in your chair and stare at the credits while you ponder everything that occurred in the game and come to a realization that as screwed up as it may be…could you say that you would have done anything different than what the characters did?
That is what makes great movies classics and just because a controller is involved, a game should not be thought of or treated any different, and if any game reserves that right for Ebert’s respect, “The Last of Us” should be one of them.
If you like this review please let me know. I am considering doing this on a regular basis.
#5 Lost Odyssey
Wait. What? That’s probably what you are asking yourselves. In a generation that was a bit lackluster to say the least on JRPG, but Lost Odyssey was an early generation release that came from some of the team from the Final Fantasy team, including the creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi and composer, Nobuo Uematsu. The reason this made the top list, besides the gameplay, was the pure beauty and story. I am actually surprised that this did not take on more acclaim, but it probably wasn’t as popular since it didn’t release on the PS3. I really can’t do this game justice by writing about it without spoiling it, but if you do it, read the side letter you come across and tell me you don’t tear up and if you haven’t heard of it and you own a 360 system, I suggest getting it in some way and make sure you have all the discs…all four of them.