Apr 30, 2012

Album Review: Jack White's "Blunderbuss"


The always strange yet shining hope in today's often bleak and barren rock music scene, Jack White released his debut solo album Blunderbuss April 24, 2012. The Detroit, Michigan native has made a name for himself in successful bands like The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather but through his own label, Third Man Records produced his efforts of going at it on his own.

1) "Missing Pieces" - A great opener that really introduces you to Jack White's style if you've never heard him before. This track is more along the lines of The White Stripes than The Raconteurs or The Dead Weather, which is perfectly cool with me. It's got a really cool sound to it and just overall a great tune. Much like most of the songs on this album, the lyrics don't really convey any direct message or story but sounds cool in the scheme of the song. Fun music, and a good way to kick start the album, but missing a certain something to push it past 4.5 / 5.

2) "Sixteen Saltines" - The second single off the album and the track that drew me into buying Blunderbuss. The music video is particularly messed up, but the song is all kinds of awesome. Jack White knows how to pace out those special beat drops, vocal changes, and guitar solos. The best pure rock song I've heard in a long time. 5 / 5.

3) "Freedom At 21" - An epically bluesy rock song that shows just how smart a musician Jack White is. Every instrument gets due attention and has their strengths emphasizes and weaknesses hidden. A far more music-driven song than vocally, and White gets a little Hendrix-experimental at times, but it completely works. 5 / 5.

4) "Love Interruption" - A really dark and cynical love song but beautifully crafted. It's not a song to rock out to, as it's done mostly with a flute and an acoustic guitar, but it's really cool in a macho kind of way. Basically boiled down to demonizing cupid, but it only makes Jack White that much cooler. 5 / 5.

5) "Blunderbuss" - An interesting song that doesn't quite live up to the first four tracks of the album, but isn't terrible by any means. It's a bizarre hybrid between early White Stripes like "You've Got Her In Your Pocket" or "There's No Home For You Here" off the Elephant album, but mixed with a country ballad. Kind of hard to wrap your head around, but not hard to sit through and enjoy. 4 / 5.

6) "Hypocritical Kiss" - I can't say this song works for me. It's an experimental tune with most of the music coming from a drum and a piano, but the soundmixing just seems subpar. The piano is too loud and Jack's voice is too quiet, which seems like someone in production could have fixed. Just doesn't come off that effective and is pretty skippable. 2 / 5.

7) "Weep Themselves To Sleep" - Another piano song, but this time they've got the volume equalized so you can make out Jack's voice a little better. Jack White rocks the ivory keys in this track with a rock n' roll passion like Beethoven. The song has some pretty cool lyrics as well, but it still feels like Jack White needs a little more practice with this new art of piano-rock before he'll have it mastered. A great comeback from the album-middle-trench that was "Hypocritical Kiss", but was slightly hindered by experimental guitar riffs and something powerful missing in the vocals to cement this song as an epic experience. Sure to be a killer at live performances, but on the album only worthy of a 4 / 5 score.

8)  "I'm Shakin'" - This song isn't going to be be everyone's favorite, but I love it because Jack White has so much fun with it. This is actually a cover of a late fifties/early sixties doo-wop song written by Rudy Toombs. Hilarious yet enjoyable to hear Jack White's gritty, grungy vibe on a 50's doo-wop; 5 / 5.

9) "Trash Tongue Talker" - Another track that relies heavily on piano, which maybe Jack White thoroughly enjoys but isn't something I'm looking for in a Jack White album, or something I find myself particularly enjoying outside of the high energy, "Weep Themselves to Sleep". While not a terrible song, it's completely skippable to me. 2 / 5.


10) "Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy" - At this point, I can't tell what Jack White's game is. It seems like he did the first half of the album to give his die hard fans what they were looking for, and made the second half of the album to show off his piano skills. This song is like a complete Billy Joel track. I like Billy Joel, but as good as Jack White is, I don't want or expect or really enjoy him as the second coming of Billy Joel. I wouldn't mind if I went to a Jack White concert and he performed some of his piano heavy tracks, but if that was going to be the majority of his performance I might not attend at all. A generous 4 / 5, because while it wasn't what I want from a Jack White song, it was pretty good for a Billy Joel song.

11) "I Guess I Should Go To Sleep" - Gosh darn it, Jack! Enough with the piano! We get it, you're good at most things! But I'm not feeling it. I like the message and tone of this song, but it's completely harshed by the piano emphasis and music as a whole. A skippable 3 / 5.

12) "On And On And On" - Wow, a graceful return from the piano plunder of the last few tracks! It's an interesting try at a radio pop single, but it works just as well if not better than a lot of other radio pop singles out there. This could be a definite movie or television soundtrack song and I enjoyed it a great deal. 5 / 5.

13) "Take Me With You When You Go" - Sadly, not a strong close to the album. As though it's a summary of the album as a whole, the music is piano, guitar, and drums. And then I think some fiddle. Not something I would listen to in my free time and a sharp fall from the previous track. An easily dismissible 2 / 5.


My Highlights:
"Sixteen Saltines", "Freedom at 21", "Love Interruption", "I'm Shakin'", and "On And On And On".

Overall Rating:
Averaging all the scores on this album together comes out to an uneven 3.8 / 5, which, given my penchant for scoring in .25 increments could be rounded up or down. So using my reviewer overall big picture brownie points powers, I'm disappointing going to round down here. I suggest everyone purchase the singles off this album off of iTunes or Amazon, as Jack White is an amazing talent and produces some quality music. Unfortunately, he chose to utilize half this album to show off his piano skills which comes off clashing to everything I love about Jack White and his music. Half an album is a lot of tracks wasted. But then, if you find this album on the cheap then it wouldn't be so detrimental to buy the whole thing. Total score:


3.75 / 5


image from Amazon

Apr 29, 2012

This Is 40 (Knocked Up Sequel) Trailer

Knocked Up is viewed by many as one of the best chick flicks that men like. It was an alright movie overall, and you can read more about Knocked Up in our review. This Is 40 will be a repeat of Knocked Up, but focusing on the Beta couple from the first movie. That's right, if the teeth-grinding Katherine Heigl as Alison Scott wasn't cold and callous enough to sit through, now you have to sit through her even more obnoxious and irritating sister. I am a bit optimistic about This Is 40 however, because I enjoyed Paul Rudd and Jason Segel as a team in the movie I Love You, Man, but the trailer makes This Is 40 seem mediocre. Maybe it's because I'm not a parent, and maybe it's because I'm not 40, but I think mediocre describes the trailer well. Maybe it's because of "the kids use technology a lot" joke that's been over done to death. The sequel is basically going down the Fockers path. Meet The Parents was great, Meet The Fockers was meh, and no one admits to seeing Little Fockers. Judd Apatow, steer clear of your Little Fockers.



Image from video.

Apr 28, 2012

Rotastic Review

Rotastic is a very simple game that can be found on the Xbox Live Arcade, and will soon be coming out for the Playstation Network and PC. It costs 800 points on the Xbox Live Arcade, which is $10. Since the PSN and PC versions aren't out yet, this review is based off of playing the Xbox Live Arcade version.

The main goal of Rotastic is to survive and complete the level's objective. To survive you must swing around on, and to different anchor points. When you're on an anchor point you swing around in a circle until you let go of the A button. You can change the direction of your swing by hitting the LB, or RB button. Changing your direction will drain your energy circle though, so you can't keep doing it. Your energy circle also protects you from spikes, saws, and enemies. If your energy circle is at 100% then it will protect you once when you hit a bad object. If you're not able to survive before your energy circle is at 100% again then you'll lose a life. I love the simplicity of Rotastic. It's just a simple concept that allows you to get lost in the world.



There are a variety of different level objectives. One level objective is to collect a certain amount of gems. Another is to survive a certain amount of time while saws and giant flying fish with spikes (I believe they were fish) come after you. By completing each level, you get a score, and depending on how well you did, you get a certain amount of hats. Doing alright gets you the bronze hat, and the better you do the higher the hats value. The most amount of hats you can get per level is four.

In the beginning hats feel like something that just adds to the learderboard. When you get into world four  you become more desperate for hats. That's because once you hit world four, things turn very ugly and difficult. To get to the next world you must collect a certain amount of hats. Luckily you can go back and do better on previous levels to earn more hats. Completing levels is easy. It's doing well enough to earn hats that will make you scream! To help earn more hats you can perform tricks like swinging across to other anchor points creating a figure 8 or other shapes.

Rotastic is a very fun game that feels relaxing for the most part. Sure it's a pain on some levels, but Rotastic is a very easy game for anyone to learn. That being said, it's not a game for anyone. It's for the gamer that wants a game that you can just sit and chill, and not worry about an enemy coming from behind you and ripping your innards out. Rotastic does offer local multiplayer for anyone that wants to try and take out their friends in the combat mode.

Final Say: I would have liked each of the later worlds to be more achievable with a lesser amount of hats, but Rotastic is still a great game for anyone looking for a casual game that offers a good amount of difficulty. The local multiplayer is a nice plus as well. I'm actually surprised Rotastic is not available on phones. Rotastic would be a great game to take on the go. Though $10 is a pretty good price if you're the type of gamer that enjoys the simpleness in games.

Images from video.

Apr 26, 2012

Noitu Love 2 Devolution Review


Noitu Love 2 Devolution is a platform game available on Steam for $4.99. Noitu Love 2 Devolution takes place in the year 2288. You play as Xoda Rap who's part of an organization called "The Peacekeepers League." After the return of the "Darn armies", you must stop the leader and save the city.

The gameplay in Noitu Love 2 Devolution is fantastic. You use your keyboard to move, and your mouse to attack. Unfortunately, there isn't a way to customize the controls but the control scheme was laid out well. By clicking the left mouse button you do your main attack. Holding the right mouse button and dragging in the direction you want to aim to do your special attacks. On the keyboard, you press the normal buttons to move around, jump, and duck. You also have the ability to wall jump which is great for dodging attacks.
This game has really great old school retro graphics to it. I felt like I was a kid again playing on a Super Nintendo, or Sega Genesis. The game doesn't have the same recycled enemies throughout it either. Each level contains new enemies, and around three bosses (two mini bosses, and one main boss). Each boss has a different feel, and look to them. What also made the game playing experience amazing was the music. Each level had a very catchy beat which added something to the setting each level had. The game doesn't get repetitive at any point.

Noitu Love 2 Devolution's one downfall is that it only takes an hour to beat it. There is some replay value however. The game has a hard mode you can play through, and you also unlock a new character with a gun at the end of the game. You can also replay through each level trying to beat your high score.

Final Say: This might be an hour long game, but it's still fantastic. It's not like the game is $15! It's only $5, and well worth it. If you're still stuck on purchasing this game because of the length, just so you know, you'll most likely end up playing through it a second time. Get Noitu Love 2 Devolution on Steam!

Apr 25, 2012

Film Review: Drive



Premise:
An unnamed character (when was the last time you watched a movie with one of those? [Ryan Gosling]) holds three jobs ranging from mundane to crazy: mechanic, movie stuntman, and getaway driver. The Driver is a man of few words and revels in awkward silence. He forms a bond with his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son, Benicio. Outside of this relationship, he only has his his boss/friend Shannon (Bryan Cranston) who owns the garage, was a former stuntman, and assigns the Driver his getaway missions. The already crazy life of the Driver gets even more crazy when the mob starts sticking their nose into his business and messing with those close to him.


Standouts:
The Driver is known for two physical traits - a toothpick, and his white Scorpion jacket. The toothpick serves it's purpose and makes Ryan Gosling look cool, but everytime I see the jacket I think it's too over the top and outlandish to be believable. Who would wear that? It also bothers me that I can't figure out if they were trying to write The Driver as a sociopath. Many of the scenes feel very much like hit Showtime series, Dexter. This sociopath characteristic stands out to me because all through the movie I find it brimming with talented actors. Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks do wonders when on-screen, but Ryan Gosling's character only has two facial expressions: smiling, or not smiling. And he only has two tones of voice: soft-spoken, or not talking. So I can't judge his acting ability outside of his body language, which I guess was good enough for what it needed to be.

My Highlights:
The Driver watching cartoons with Benicio, Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks' interactions, and the getaway from the pawn shop.

Overall Rating:
Drive was a great movie, but not without it's flaws. It's one of the best movies of 2011, but given what an abysmal year it was for cinema, it's not that big of a compliment. Characters are unfleshed out, directing risks don't always meet rewards, and the first half of the movie takes time to build steam because there's no real conflict. All in all, I'd say it's a beautifully done grindhouse movie. Gory, over the top, and fun, but not a masterpiece.

4 / 5

When You Should See It:
If you're looking for a new film to rent or can find cheap On Demand or on Amazon Instant Video, it's worth the money. It's just not something to run out and buy unseen, or put ahead of films you've been dying to see because of the hype surrounding it. See it, but don't kill yourself trying to see it.

image from Amazon


Apr 24, 2012

Bloodforge Video Review




Bloodforge will cost you $15, and will almost take up 2 gigs on your Xbox 360.

Apr 23, 2012

Album Review: Foster The People "Torches"

Hailing from sunny Los Angeles, California, Foster the People is an "Indie" pop... rock... electronica... dance band. Maybe with the buzzword "alternative" thrown in, because hey, everyone's alternative these days. Let's just say they're electropop, cuz that has a ring to it. Foster the People unleashed their debut album, Torches May 23, 2011, but it was preceded by the viral success of the album's first single, "Pumped Up Kicks". If you purchase the album through iTunes, you get a bonus track titled "Broken Jaw", but if you purchase the album through Best Buy, you get bonus tracks: "Love" and "Chin Music for the Unsuspecting Hero". But I'll stick to the basics and just review the tracks everyone can enjoy regardless of location.

1) "Helena Beat" - Crazy electronica opening gives you a pretty direct introduction to who Foster The People are, and what Torches is going to be like. The vocals take a risk by being so high pitched, which not everyone is going to like in just any context, but it meshes so well with the infectious dance beat and gives it an infectious pop sound. It's no surprise this track was the second single off the album, because even without paying attention to the lyrics, which are really zany yet relatable, you can enjoy this song just from the overall sound. Five stars.

2) "Pumped Up Kicks" - Everyone's probably heard this song a million times by now and has their own opinion on it, but I say it got justly overplayed by the radio. In a time of desolate music scene, "Pumped Up Kicks" brought a brief salvation to the radio, and is still listenable a year later. 5/5.

3) "Call It What You Want" - Weary on the very 80's dance opening, but once the lyrics kick in the whole song comes together and becomes impossible to turn off. It's gonna get you if you turn it on. You''re gonna do the Napoleon Dynamite dance from the end of the movie. By far, the most impressive opening to an album I've heard in a long time. For the third time in a row on this album, 5/5.

4) "Don't Stop (Color on the Walls)" - A much slower, but still INCREDIBLY catchy and repeatable track. Great for driving music, great for a soundtrack. Just yes. Unbelievable hot streak for Torches; 5/5.

5) "Waste" - A really good track, but doesn't live up to the previous four hits. I think it's the reggae vibe it gives off in the verses clashing with the energetic and catchy chorus. A fun song, no doubt, and probably a blast to hear live but uneven. 4/5.

6) "I Would Do Anything for You" - I like harmonicas, and I like when a band breaks up an upbeat flow with a slower, mellow song, but this one was just experimental, which doesn't tickle my fancy. Random guitar riffs, clashing vibe between chorus and verse, and just really nothing working for me. It's not a grating high pitched squeal from start to finish, so I won't completely destroy this song, but it's something I would skip when it plays on my album listening. 2/5, but hey, Torches had a heck of a hot streak there for a while.

7) "Houdini" - And just like that, things are already picking back up from the middle of the album pitfall! Another song that doesn't hold up to the first four tracks of the album, but a really strong rebound from "I Would Do Anything for You". Not a song I would seek out to listen to having heard it, but not a song I would skip if it came on. The music works and all of the instruments have wonderful chemistry, but I think the vocals are missing that "It Factor" in this track. 4/5.

8) "Life On A Nickel" - This one hurts me, because it's so close to being perfect but misses the mark by just a little bit. The beat, the verses, the music are all outstanding. They've got the "It Factor", the dropped beat in the right place, great timing, they've got it all! But they miss the mark on one thing - the chorus. Oh man, does this chorus ever bother me. Repetitive without being catchy, indecipherable even after looking up the lyrics, and really just drags the song down. Could have been the first 5/5 back from the slump that was "I Would Do Anything For You", but instead I can only give it 4/5.

9) "Miss You" - This song is just the opposite of "Life on a Nickel", which hurts the song even more. Rather than the vocals being off in this song at any point (because they're picture-perfect here) the music is terrible. Just awful. I love the chorus both because of the beautiful vocals and lyrics, but also because they almost completely drop out all music in the background. Once you're back to the verses, it's just generic club house techno. No thank you. A sadly skippable 3/5.

10) "Warrant" - While this track doesn't put a bad taste in my mouth to close off the album, it still doesn't live up to the incredibly high standard set by the top four tracks. I think this song probably should have opened the album, because it's not bad, but nothing remarkable either. Kind felt like a classic rock song like Journey or The Eagles. Unfortunately, a skippable 3/5.


My Highlights:
"Helena Beat", "Pumped Up Kicks", "Call It What You Want", and "Don't Stop (Color On The Walls)"

Overall Rating:
Averaging the ratings together, Torches gets an easy 4/5, but given that this is the band's debut album, this is an impressive way to break out of the gate! I'd love to give the album a ton of super-duper big-overall-picture reviewer brownie points to bump this score up, but the track placement hindered the album as a whole a little. Things started out at their peak and just kind of dwindled down from there. BUT! They never dwindled too far down, or for very long. The amount of ridiculously awesome songs on this album in ratio of how many songs total there are is very high. So, for the overall rating I give Torches:

4.25/5!

image from Amazon

Apr 22, 2012

How Olympic Athletes Are Made




July 12 kicks off the London 2012 Olympic Games, and manufacturing company Procter & Gamble put together one of the most touching commercials to advertise it I've seen in a long time. You know why I started watching my TV shows on the internet via hulu and netflix rather than on traditional cable television? Sarah McLachlan. You know what I'm talking about. There's only so many times Workaholics can have the light brevity atmosphere ruined by "In the Arms of an Angel" before I decide I've had enough. But this commercial was really amazing. Brilliantly shot, directed, acted, and made me look at Olympic athletes as people rather than just machines or commodities to use up and throw out once they've served their purpose.

If anybody really dug the music used in the commercial, it's Ludovico Einaudi's "Divenire".

But one thing certainly bothered me about the commercial. There must have been a share of Olympic athletes who made an entire nation proud but were only brought up by a single father, or maybe a supportive aunt and uncle, or loving grandparents. Maybe some who grew up with no supportive elders at all, who really just pushed themselves and had a lot of guidance from a coach or teacher. Some have criticized the commercial for pandering to women because they're the ones likely to purchasing Proctor & Gamble products, but I'll look at the commercial with a less cynical sense and believe it's really about all the role models and legal/parental guardians. Mothers shouldn't just get all the credit for going through the process of giving birth. There are a lot of great mothers out there, and I'm thankful to have one of them, but there are also a lot of deadbeat moms out there. So here's comedian Bill Burr with a somewhat misogynistic but hilarious stand-up that I can use as my vehicle for cynicism about just giving all mothers in general 100% of the credit.

Apr 21, 2012

Lady Gaga In Men In Black 3

Lady Gaga has been cast playing as an alien cameo in Men In Black 3. One theory is she said agreed to do it because she is in fact alien, but another theory is she's just a big fan of Tommy Lee Jones.

The question on everyone's mind... well my mind is what will she look like? Will they dress her up as a giant eyeball that ironically has a beautiful voice, but terrible eyesight? Maybe they'll make her one of the friendly aliens that helps Will Smith defeat the main alien boss of the movie, saving the galaxy. OR Maybe! Just maybe, they will just ask her to bring along her meat suit so they don't have to waste time in the makeup room.

Men In Black 3 will be coming out on May 25th. For more information on Men In Black 3 check out the trailer below. Also I don't think the alien that appears on the wall in the trailer is Lady Gaga.



Image from video

Apr 20, 2012

MacGuffin's Curse Review

Not too long ago I reviewed the point and click adventure game Jolly Rover. Now a new game,  MacGuffin's Curse, by the same people (Brawsome) has come out. You play as MacGuffin, a guy with a humorous outlook on life and who happens to be a thief. After you steal a cursed amulet you have the ability to turn into a big werewolf-creature if you stand in an area of moonlight. Your main goal in the game is to figure out a way to get rid of the curse, and to stop your nemesis (who also got cursed) from having these same powers.

The main gameplay in MacGuffin is to move from area to area. Most of the areas in the game contain a locked door that you must get through. To unlock, you must push a battery onto a platform to power up the door. Of course it wouldn't be any fun if there wasn't obstacles you had to plan for. That's when your ability to turn into a werewolf comes in handy. Each area has moonlight spots where you can turn into a wolf, or turn back into human. When you’re a wolf you can push objects, and dig up dirt, but you can't go into water, or push buttons. While you're human you're able to do the opposite.
These puzzle areas are a lot of fun to move around in for most of the game, but after awhile the excitement just starts to fade. Doing puzzle after puzzle gets tiring after a while, especially after figuring out a hard puzzle and feeling proud, until you realize the next puzzle is even harder. Luckily if you're stuck on a puzzle you can call your friend that can give you a hint, or even just unlock the door. I'll admit that I had him unlock the door for me at times. The puzzles might get hard, but the layout of each object is well placed. All the puzzles might be similar, but they never seem like it's the same puzzle over and over.

Solving these puzzles is the main type of gameplay, but it's not the only thing you can do in the game. MacGuffin has a ton of side missions that you can do involving walking around finding people in the game, and helping them. Helping people could be finding a purse in a garbage can, or getting a sad security guard his badge back. The side missions don't really add to the game at all, but it doesn't hurt the game for adding more gametime.


MacGuffin will take you around four, or five hours to complete the main game, but with all the side missions, and collecting money for things to buy in your apartment, MacGuffin will give you hours and hours of game play. I find this to be crazy since the game is only $5 on Steam, and it's also available on the iPhone and iPad. Some people might say the graphics to MacGuffin aren't the best, but for a $5 game I think MacGuffin has some decent graphics. Also, some of the music used in the game is very well placed.

Final Say: MacGuffin might start to get tiresome near the end, but for $5 it's a great deal for any puzzle lover. Also MacGuffin has a pretty good sense of humor that will keep you on the lookout for things that MacGuffin can make comments about. Check out MacGuffin's Curse on Steam, iPhone, and iPad if you're a fan of quirky dialog, and a good amount of puzzles.

Crysis 3 Teaser Trailer

Not much detail in this trailer except maybe for the crossbow weapon. I guess the real news is that there will be a better trailer on Apirl 24th. I'm not really sure how pumped I am for a third Crysis game, but I'll know more on Tuesday.




Image from video

Apr 19, 2012

Rush's New Single "Headlong Flight"

Rush is one of the few bands to make music for this long and keep it from sucking. Well how do I know their recent music doesn't suck? Check it out! Rush's new single, "Headlong Flight" is now available for everyone's listening pleasure.

Headlong Flight isn't the only Rush song you can hear from their upcoming album, Clockwork Angels (coming out June 12th). You can also listen to Caravan, and the song BU2B

Check out the video for Rush's new single Headlong Flight right below.




image from video

Apr 18, 2012

Immortals Review


Premise:

In the time before mankind, immortals waged a civil war with the winners being crowned "Gods" and the losers, labeled "Titans", getting caged up in a mountain. Now, the sadistic King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) is going from village to village slaughtering everyone to search for the virgin Oracle (Freida Pinto) who can tell him the location of the The Epirus Bow (a mystical weapon last used in the war of immortals and since hidden). Hyperion intends to use the bow to destroy the cage holding the Titans, both using them to rule the world and to spite the Gods who refused to save his own murdered family. But the Gods aren't blind to this. Zeus (Luke Evans) has been training a young peasant named Theseus (Henry Cavill) for at least twenty years for the day he would need to rise up and lead the last stand against Hyperion. That day has come.


Standouts:

Visually, this is a stunning movie, and some of the ideas in it are really powerful. The oven, I guess you could call it, really stood out as creative and horrifying. Watching through the film however, I couldn't help but notice wasted shots. Immortals ran for an hour and fifty minutes, but it could have easily been cut down to an hour and thirty, or at least an hour and forty minutes. For an hour and fifty minutes I feel as a viewer I should have gotten to know a lot more characters. There were plenty of scenes where you have re-occuring background characters who you know are only there to get killed in battle later. Would it have hurt to use some of this excessive run-time giving them a few lines and making me care they got killed? Hyperion, as great as he was got more scenes than he deserved. I won't spoil anything, but he has a running theme in this film that gets used just a few times too many. Darth Vader got across the same vibe without having to repeat the same actions again and again. Also would have preferred the Gods looking a bit more stereotypical, and by that I mean not in their late twenties.

My Highlights:

Every battle scene in the first half of the movie. And given that the first half of the movie is made up mostly of battle scenes, that's pretty good.

Overall Rating:

I went into this film with really low expectations. I didn't even remember putting it at the top of my Netflix Queue, and was almost positive I was getting in a different movie until I opened up the package. Also, most reviews out there are critical ones panning the film. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the film. Everything was clicking, there was interesting characters, fun, gruesome battle scenes, blood, gore, explosions, the whole nine-yards. After the half-way point, everything got messed up, which seemed hard to do. The entire first half of the movie seemed to set a predictable but satisfying end. If everything had gone according to plan, I would have gotten the logical closure needed by the time the credits rolled. But nothing made sense after the first half, much like the Will Smith starred blockbuster, I Am Legend. The Oracle relationship was haphazardly rushed into the middle point of the film when it made far more sense at the end, all pre-established rules of mythology and death are abolished, and the sheer number of Titans somehow multiplies ten-fold when it comes time for the "Immortals" battle. The second half left a really bad taste in my mouth thinking about the film, so I can only award it:

** 1/2
Two and a half stars

When You Should See It:
Don't bother. Watch 300. Heck, watch The Scorpion King. This one is right about on-par with the Clash of the Titans remake.

image from Amazon

Apr 17, 2012

Album Review: Fun. "Some Nights"

Based out of NYC, "Indie" Pop/Rock band Fun. is rocketing out of indie underground and into mainstream stardom, and I wanted to get the low down on the band and their latest album to hear what all the buzz was about. By the way, that's not a punctuation error, the band's name is "Fun.", but they also like to spell it "fun." and ".fun.". How quaintly indie and droll. Their latest album, a sophomore release, "Some Nights" was debuted February 21, 2012 by record label Fueled by Ramen, which would have been an equally awesome band name. I usually don't bother mentioning record labels as I think they're a antiquated system to be phased out or turned upside down in the near-future, but that's a great, great name. And as some interesting backstory, I actually stumbled upon this band by hearing their single, "We Are Young" on this year's WrestleMania featuring The Rock vs. John Cena. So it's pretty mainstream!


1) "Some Nights (Intro)" Hilariously theatrical and beautiful. Like a Queen ballad or a wonderfully orchestrated Moulin Rouge number. A great kick-off to the album and one of the only songs with the word "intro" in it that I would actually enjoy going back to listen to repeatedly. *****

2) "Some Nights" - Some very Freddie Mercury inspired vocals here with some African tribal beats in the background. If you like blunt auto-tune, there's also a bit on that toward the end. A big clash of styles but surprisingly works well. While I don't put it on the same level as the Intro, this is definitely an amazing song. Poppy, upbeat, and infectious. *****

3) "We Are Young" - The Billboard #1 smash hit single off the album and my favorite by a country mile. The lyrics hit me hard, the chorus stays in my brain for days at a time, and I can only pray that this isn't a song that gets overplayed but played just enough to woo everyone else. The vocals really come off passionate too, which is what really lights a fire under me about this track. An easy, easy, easy *****.

4) "Carry On" - While this song has a lot going for it, I think it needed just a little bit more time in the oven to bake before reaching perfection. Motivational theme, good lyrics, but it's a softer song and doesn't come across as passionate as the previous tracks. Maybe if I were listening to this album on a car ride I'd skip it, but maybe I'd listen to it depending on the mood I was in. *** 1/2

5) "It Gets Better" - The chorus is the only good thing about this song, but only if it's marketed toward the younger demographics like middle-schoolers. At best, this could turn into somebody's guilty pleasure (because we all went through that Simple Plan phase, which I know by mentioning dates me. I wish I could think of like an 80's guilty pleasure, or even an early 90's guilty pleasure, but I think the point is still intact). "It Gets Better" is some pretty weak sauce compared to the gems on this album. **

6) "Why Am I The Only One" - Much like "Some Nights (Intro)" this track comes off very theatrical like a Moulin Rouge number, which there's no shame in. This is a great soundtrack song. It paints a very vivid picture and evokes very relatable emotions. *****

7) "All Alone" - I'm on the fence about this song. It's upbeat and passionate in tone, but the lyrics and story told are morose and sad. The beat is amazing though and has a hip-hop vibe to it.  It definitely grabs the attention of the listener, but it's not one of my favorites. ****

8) "All Alright" - This song would drive my blog-partner Nick crazy because it uses his pet peeve in music - children singing in the background. I usually see nothing wrong with it, and in this song it's kind of quiet and subtle, almost missable, but it's still there enough to irritate me. I don't think it was necessary, but I also don't like the placement of this track. It's incredibly nitpicky but I don't like following "All Alone" with "All Alright". It almost makes the two songs confusable. The song itself is decent but doesn't grab me the way others on the album have. A mediocre ***

9) "One Foot" - The lyrics aren't really amazing and the music choice is bizarre, but listening to this track I can only imagine it's a blast to see or play live. "One Foot" may have just been a jam session that Fun. has a lot of ... fun playing. Not great for the album though. A skippable ***

10) "Stars" - Goes on and on and on for almost seven minutes and not once does it impress me. I think this was a loving tribute to the vocalist's mother, but I was basically tuned out through most of it. Probably the biggest valley of the album. * 1/2

11) "Out On The Town" - A bonus track which probably should have been switched with Stars, which only detracted from the album. This song doesn't blow me away, but it was a solid track and definitely helps get rid of the taste in my mouth left by Stars. *** 1/2


My Highlights:
"Some Nights (Intro)", "Some Nights", "We Are Young", and "Why Am I The Only One"

Overall Rating:
Averaging all the star ratings together and rounding up to the nearest quarter, the total rating for this album is *** 3/4. However, given the ratio of hits to misses on this album and lack of really poor slumps that many albums have, I'm going to use my super-duper reviewer brownie point powers to adjust the rating to a full-fledged:


****
Four stars out of five!

image from Amazon

Apr 16, 2012

Alter Ego Review

Alter Ego is a free indie game available on Desura. It puts you in the role of a little guy that has a clone of himself that's his alter ego. The point of each of the 40 levels is to collect all the pixels, and not to die from the skulls that are floating around.

As you walk around, your alter ego will be copying your every move. Alter egos are a lot like you except they can walk through enemies. The closer you are to the middle of the screen the closer your alter ego will be to you. The farther away you are from the middle of the screen the farther your alter ego will be. Depending the level, your alter ego will be horizontal to you, or vertical. What's useful about your alter ego is the ability to switch to the position they're at. Each level is different with the amount of times you can pull this off.

Look at all them pink, blue, yellow, and red pixels! They aren't just different point values. Each color of pixel requires a different approach. The pink pixels are normal ones that only you can grab. The blue ones are pixels that only your alter ego may pick up. The red pixels require you to line up your alter ego, and yourself so the red pixels are in between you and your alter ego. Then you're required to do an alter ego switch. The last type of pixel is the yellow one. This will change the positioning of your alter ego. If you're alter ego is horizontal from you, the yellow pixel will change it to vertical.

I had a lot of fun with Alter Ego. I was kind of sad when I completed all 40 levels. The look of the game is fantastic, and the soundtrack is really awesome! The only complaint I have with the game is very minor. You use your keyboard for most of the game, but when you beat a level you can't just hit enter and go to the next level. You have to use your mouse to click next level!

Final Say:
I'm actually surprised this is a free game. The puzzles, and gameplay are great. I also really enjoyed the soundtrack. I say that you should go play this right now! Where were the free games like this when I was a kid?

Nyan Cat EXPLODES!!!

The latest video from the Nerdist YouTube channel features Nyan Cats... exploding. What more could you want!?

Apr 15, 2012

New Glitch Discovered In Zelda: Ocarina Of Time

For the most part glitches are annoying, but once in a while one will come along that will be awesome. YouTube user ZeldaFreakGlitcha has found a glitch in Zelda: Ocarina of Time that allows you to beat the game as child Link in 24 minutes.

The glitch happens at the 15 minute mark in the video. I don't understand how someone would figure this out, but it's pretty cool.

Pac-Man Hiding Spot

This might be some old news for some people, but for the people that don't know about the hiding spot in Pac-Man... you might get very angry after watching this video.



This hiding spot might actually help you finally beat Pac-Man

Apr 13, 2012

Book Review: Horns


Ignacius Parish wakes up hung over on the one year anniversary of his girlfriend Merrin's rape and murder by an unknown assailant. Ig remembers practically nothing from his drunken night before, but really wishes he had an explanation as to why he has devil horns now growing from his temples. Even more bizarre, why he now has the ability to make people confess their guilty secrets to him and forget they ever saw him after he leaves the room. Though Ig has been damned with lemons, he makes lemonade and finds Merrin's killer.

"Horns" by Joe Hill is packed with action, suspense, dark humor, and much like his previous novel: Heart Shaped Box, full of music references. Although I am a slow reader, I burned through Horns quicker than any 400+ page book I've ever read and it was always the highlight of my day. Many parts made me uncomfortable (but was the intended reader response) and many parts made me cheer with glee or hiss with discontent. It also really peeked my interest that the setting for the novel is in Gideon, New Hampshire, a fictional anywheresville based in my home state.

Crude, lewd, rude, and all around awesome, I highly recommend "Horns", as well as anything else written by Joe Hill. The man is brilliant and highlights everything I like about the work of his father, Stephen King, while not including all the things I hate about Stephen King's works. This dark and gritty supernatural revenge novel should be checked out by all, and that's why it was easy for me to rate.

*****
Five stars out of five!

image from Amazon

Apr 12, 2012

App Review: Tiny Hawk

Tiny Hawk is a $0.99 app on the iPhone (sorry Android users). It's based off the flash version that can be played here at kongregate for free. Tiny Hawk puts you in the role of a skateboarder trying to get to the finish while collecting many soda cans.

The controls to Tiny Hawk are pretty easy to use. There are three action-buttons: jump, turnaround, and drop off a rail. The more you stay on the ground the faster Tiny Hawk will end up going. Beware things that are put in the game to slow you down like water and a platform. Going fast is necessary in a lot of the levels to perform big jumps and high wall-jumps. If there are two walls next to each other, you'll have to perform a wall-jump (just hold down the jump button), and if you don't have the speed, you'll just fall back down. Watch the trailer for better understanding on how the game works.



Tiny Hawk has 32 levels, which didn't feel like much because I beat it so quickly. There also wasn't much difficulty playing this game so that contributed to me beating it so quickly. I know the app is only $0.99, but it feels like it could have more levels, or even a level editor. You can go back and collect any soda cans you missed, but there won't be much motivation to do so.

Final Say: It might not be a long game, but it's still pretty fun while you're playing through the levels. Play the free flash version first, and if you like it then get the app for $0.99. Don't worry, the flash version and the iPhone version are not the same, only very similar. Link to buy.

Apr 11, 2012

CBVGR: Tetris Evolution

The Clearance Bin Video Game Review is back! This time with a review of Tetris Evolution.

Apr 10, 2012

The Thing Review


Premise:
Lots of cool stuff in antartica. Like snow, and ice, and aliens! A group of researchers discover a frozen alien space craft with frozen aliens inside. The researchers think they're going to dig the aliens out and ship them back to America to study and put on display and reap all the rewards researchers can reap. Yeah, right. The aliens are still alive! And while they're big and dangerous and scary on their own, they're made ten times worse that anyone they eat they can take the form of. So the research team finds themselves trapped in Antarctica by a snow storm, hunted by aliens, and they can't even trust the person to their left or right.


Standouts:
Man these characters were hard to care about. Our main female lead, Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and random side character Lars (Jørgen Langhelle) are the only people who I cared about at all, which is sad considering there were probably a dozen frequently featured characters. Lars was Boba Fett levels of great side character. The love interest, the helicopter pilots, the scientists and jerk boss were all so boringly sculpted to be Thing-fodder. On a positive note, the kill scenes were amazing.

My Highlights:
The first transformation from human to Thing, Lars lighting suckers up, and the very final scene with Lars.

Overall Rating:
2011 rendition of The Thing feels like an alien sci-fi version of Final Destination. The entire film's entertainment is based upon innovative kills and nothing else. One of the main plot points really irritated me too. THERE'S ONE GUY IN THE ROOM WITH GOOD ORAL HYGIENE!? ONE!? Not a movie I would go back and watch again or recommend. Overall rating:

** ½
2 1/2 *'s out of 5.

When You Should See It:
If you really like movies that are just about the kills, put this... second on your list. Probably a million better slasher films you should watch before this one. And even if you've seen all of them and want to watch it just to see the prequel of John Carpenter's 1982 classic, then put John Carpenter's The Thing as #1 on your watch queue to relive it before you dive into 2011's The Thing.

image from Amazon

Apr 9, 2012

First Look At Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run! might be the coolest app I've come across. A Kickstarter project turned into reality back in October 2011. Zombies, Run! is a fitness game that requires you to actually go outside and walk, jog, or run (it knows how fast you're traveling because of the GPS). You wear some headphones, and you can listen to the story's dialog about a zombie infestation. After about a minute or two of dialog, music from your playlist will turn on. As you're walking to your own tunes you will pick up items along the way, from band-aids too sports bras. Each time you collect something, a voice comes over your music to tell you about it.

What makes Zombies, Run! cool is the zombie chases. While your music is playing a voice will once in awhile tell you there are zombies near by, and the distance away they are. If you keep going the same pace then the zombies will catch up to you. It's your goal to start going faster like go from a walk to a jog, or go from a run to a super fast run. You can also turn this option off if you live by a lot of stop lights, or you can pause the game.

I've only done one walk/jog with Zombies, Run!, but it was a lot of fun. I recommend it to anyone that has a love for zombie dodging, or want a fun way to get some exercise. You can get Zombies, Run! here for iPhone users, but don't worry it's also available for Android. Now I know it's $8, and you're used to your games being $0.99, but Zombies, Run! is worth the price!

image from their website

Apr 8, 2012

Album Review: Young The Giant



Based out of Irvine, California, Young the Giant is a folksy alternative/indie band (buzz-word, buzz-word, buzz-word; I don't know, somewhere between Mumford & Sons and The Killers? A little Vampire Weekend thrown in). When forming in 2004, the group went by "The Jakes", but I'm reviewing track-by-track their debut album put out October 26, 2010 upon the band's rechristening, "Young The Giant". Running just over fifty minutes, like so many artists before them, their first album is self-titled. Here we go!

1) "Apartment" - I have no idea what this song is about, but man do I love it. Everyone in the band is at the top of their game on this song, but lead singer Sameer Gadhia really sucks you in with his vocal work. This could be the most morbid, sinister, perverted song in the world and I would sit dreamily drifting away to it without a care in the world. *****

2) "My Body" - Much like Apartment, the lyrics don't really make sense or matter. According to an interview with USA Today, "My Body" was written in a cathartic jam session at the end of a frustrating day. It wouldn't surprise me if all Young the Giant's lyrics were written/made-up on the spot during a jam session, but Gadhia totally Cobain's it and makes it work. Up-beat, energetic, fiery, and best of all, rebellious. Rebellious against yourself! "My body tells me no, but I won't quit, cause I want more." *****

3) "I Got" - Taking the excitement down a notch, we get a bit Caribbean with the music, and a bit Enchantment Under The Sea dance with the chorus. That's my way of saying melodic doo-wop, like "Earth Angel" by The Penguins. While not a bad song, the jumping between the two styles comes off choppy and off-putting. ***

4) "Cough Syrup" - While the lyrics (once again) don't make much sense all together, there are some really great lines to this song. The opening hook packs a heck of a punch, "life's too short to even care at all." The upbeat nature of this song is second only to My Body and really gets me pumped up, while at the same time keeping me grounded because of the basic message. The somber point of the song is waiting for your ship to come in, which everyone can relate to.  *****

5) "God Made Man" - Building me up with so many great songs made this track a weak point in the album. While the beat is beautiful, the band really flourishes when sung passionately and emphatically, which this song goes mostly without. In the last minute of the song we get the vocals grown accustomed to listening to the first four songs, but it's a long and trudging trip to get to it. ** 1/2

6) "12 Fingers" - Better than God Made Man, but really not by much. The ranging vocals are back and the song is much more upbeat, but the rest of the band now goes on lunch break. All of the chords come off repetitive and uninspired. This song really doesn't have much substance to it at all, but I still consider it slightly above the previous track. ** 3/4

7) "Strings" - And just like that, Young the Giant climbs out of it's middle-of-the-album rut. This song isn't mind-blowing, but is thoroughly enjoyable. The band is back from lunch with some really creative licks and are excited to show them off. Vocals make an honest effort but there's a certain "it" factor missing from this song that doesn't stack "Strings" up against "Cough Syrup". ****

8) "Your Side" - Close but no cigar. The album-middle slump is a harder one to get out of than previously thought. You get some decent stuff in this song but the vocals actually come off grating with their forced range. A generous ***

9) "Garands" - I spoke too soon! This song is not only fantastic, but movie soundtrack worthy. Just listening to this track will give you vivid emotion and imaginative mental imagery. While not a radio-played single, this is undoubtedly a hidden gem on the album that everyone should seek out. *****

10) "St. Walker" - What in the world? Where did this side of the band come from? I love it! Reminiscent of The Doors, this is a song I could listen to on repeat. Oddly, the title is "Street Walker", not "Saint Walker" as I thought. Still, this is another mind-blowing hidden gem on the album that will likely go unfound by those who don't get this whole album (or read this review). *****

11) "Islands" - This is like The Doors in a bad way. Experimental, poetic, but hardly feels like a song. Minimal emotion, music, or anything to care about. I halfway expected this from the track placement however so that whatever closes the album will leave a good taste in my mouth. Or ears. Or whatever. **

12) "Guns Out" - Not an awful track to close out the album with, but not amazing. Swapping this track placement with St. Walker would have really done the album as a whole a favor. Most of the song is pretty good but it gets a little too experimental and irritating at times. Maybe you'll really like this song if you like Myles Kennedy (Alter-Bridge) sopranos. ***


My Highlights:
"Apartment", "My Body", "Cough Syrup", "Garands", and "St. Walker"

Overall Rating:
Averaging all the track ratings together, the total rating comes to *** 3/4. However, looking at the big picture - debut album, numerous highlights, and interesting new sound to the music scene, I'm going to use my super-duper reviewer powers to up the total. Adding on some brownie points, the overall rating of this album is...
**** 1/4
Four and a quarter stars out of 5!

image from Amazon

Apr 6, 2012

Book Review: Haunted


Life is hard for a paranormal investigator. Just ask David Ash, who is more than just a bit skeptical. He's basically Dana Scully from X-Files. David Ash sees, experiences, and personally knows people who live with paranormal abilities or amidst frightening paranormal situations but blindly disregards all of believing there must be another explanation. A scientific explanation. Even Ash's skepticism is put to the test when he's hired on to investigate the Edbrook family's house.

Admittedly I haven't read many haunted house books but I have seen plenty of movies. This book relies on a handful of haunted house cliches but really brings a whole caravan of new ideas to the table. Better than just having new ideas, they're delivered in a skin crawling, hair raising, goosebump forming fashion as well. Real quality stuff. I'm not sure if you can avoid every haunted house cliche given that if you change everything you'd be going against tradition and it would hardly feel like a haunted house book. If you were writing something about the flu, you would have to describe most of the same symptoms everyone else who has ever had or written about the flu would describe. Otherwise, what makes you think it's a flu? So I can turn my cheek to the cliches.

Without giving away any spoilers, I will say that I wasn't a fan of the ending. It felt rushed to me to the point it felt like Hebert had his publisher's due date knocking at his door. Haunted as a decent length book at 240 pages but thought it had enough life to go at least 300. For what it was, I enjoyed the read, and given that I'm from the internet give-me-information-now-my-attention-span-is-oh-look-a-butterfly generation, I don't think I can take too many points away from a book for being too short as opposed to too long.

Overall, I rate this book **** ¼
4 1/4 *'s out of 5.

image from Amazon

Apr 5, 2012

Review Of Jolly Rover


Jolly Rover is a $5 point-and-click adventure game that's available on Steam. You play as Jolly Rover, a pirate dog who's out to score some treasure, but something bad happens every time he's close. This doesn't stop the courageous Jolly Rover as you point-and-click through this humorous adventure!

Gameplay in Jolly Rover is easy to describe. You point, and you click. You can pick up items, use items, talk to people, and use voodoo spells to figure out puzzles. Voodoo spells such as scaring animals away, or dropping a large fruit onto someone's head.

Jolly Rover can get difficult at times, but luckily for you (and me… I sadly admit) there's your trusty parrot sidekick. This parrot will give you hints along your journey if you want them, but be warned, it will cost you! One cracker for every hint. Crackers can be found by clicking objects in each chapter. The game was very generous with the amount of crackers available.

I'm a big fan of old school point-and-click games. Jolly Rover fit in perfectly. The humor and voice acting were a big plus. The only complaints I have with Jolly Rover was that I couldn't automatically get to locations. You have to watch Jolly walk, and at some points it seemed that he walked very slowly

Final Say:
Jolly Rover feels like a classic even though it's only been out since 2010. For $5 the game is definitely worth it. It took me around 4 hours to complete the game, but might take you longer if you refuse to crack under the pressure and get a hint from the parrot. My only complaint about the game is a lame one, walking speed, but that shouldn't stop you from purchasing Jolly Rover for $5 on Steam.

I'm giving Jolly Rover 4*'s out of 5*'s.

Apr 4, 2012

First 48 Skate 3 Videos

I came across this video that fans of Skate 3 might enjoy. It's just very amusing to see a skater flail around into buildings, and any other object that's out there.



Also check out the YouTube Doubler Reddit user Ostias made using the video.

Apr 3, 2012

Face to Face with "Weird Al" Yankovic


Weird Al has a new show on The Nerdist Channel. If you didn't know, The Nerdist Channel is a new YouTube channel that will have a lot of content in the near future. It almost acts as a T.V. station. All sorts of shows will be available through The Nerdist Channel. One of the shows I was looking forward to came out today. That show being Face to Face with "Weird Al" Yankovic. If you've seen Al T.V. then you know the drill, but if you haven't, it's a comedic interview show with Weird Al. Check out the video below to watch it, and click here for other Nerdist Channel shows.

The Adventures of Tintin Review


Premise:

Strolling through a European market one day, a young journalist by the name of Tintin (Jamie Bell) happens upon a trinket vendor selling a beautiful model ship for peanuts. Tintin falls in love with the model and buys it, but it immediately seems that everybody is coming out of the woodwork to buy, steal or persuade him to give up the ship. With the help of a few friends - his dog, Snowy, near-identical detectives Tomson and Thompson (Nick Frost and Simon Pegg) and Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) Tintin is devoted to find out the secrets behind the ship and why everybody wants it.


Standouts:

Steven Spielberg seemed to want this to be Indiana Jones so badly. A lot of the actual detective work felt lacking contrast to the exuberance and excitement put into the off-the-wall action sequences. Although a children's movie, the actual detective work and suspenseful drama was so dry and boring that it was almost hard to sit through the hour and 47 minute run-time.

My Highlights:

Anything with Tomson and Thompson even though they didn't really fit the mostly serious theme of the movie, Sir Francis Haddock's last stand, and the motorcycle chase.

Overall Rating:

I've yet to watch a Nickelodeon produced movie that really blew me away, but when compared to some of their better films Tintin ranks right up there. The characters are simple and the action straight forward, but the plot gets tangled up and confusing, the tone often too mixed and at times the film just drags on too long. On a scale of * - ***** I give this film:
 ****
Four stars.

When You Should See It:
If you liked Rango and Nacho Libre, see it immediately. Some might say there's a pretty big gap in quality between Rango and Nacho Libre, but I liked Nacho Libre! If you didn't, then just assume I said "if you liked Rango,". But if neither of those films were up your ally, there's no rush on this film. It was good, but it wasn't top-of-queue good. If it were made by Pixar instead of Nickelodeon I'd probably be saying the opposite. Oh, but of course if you have kids and they've seen all the really good stuff out there already, then yeah, pick this up for them. They'll probably have a ball with it.

image from Amazon