Artificial Continuum

Friday, December 31, 2010
2010 was a strange year for film. While we did have a few standout productions in multiple genres, this year was perhaps remarkable in the fact that many films failed to live up to expectations. Yes, there were some really terrible movies released this year, Skyline, Clash of the Titans, and Robin Hood are just a few.

Essentially, the only way this effects my Top Ten list is that there will be several films whose placement on this list will be hotly debated. While this is due to the relatively poor quality of this year in cinema, I also have to say that I have not yet seen many critically praised movies such as Black Swan and The Town. There is a high chance that this list will change come Oscar season.

10. The A-Team

Probably the strangest choice on this list, The A-Team was a film that received mixed reviews and quiet a few people despised. However, much can be said about an action film that never takes itself seriously and has alot to offer in terms of creative set pieces. Whether it be a cleverly placed 3D movie gag or a midair battle involving a tank and a parachute, The A-Team is nonstop adrenaline filled entertainment. Throw in a great cast including Liam Neeson and Sharlto Copley and you have one of the most fun films of the year.

9. The Karate Kid

Although a very different film from the original 80's family classic starring Ralph Macchio, The Karate Kid stays faithful in its delivery of quality family entertainment. Taking place in China instead of the beaches of California, the film becomes as much one about culture shock as training and personal triumph. While there is some impressive cinematography and choreography throughout the course of the film, the real star of the Karate Kid is the amazing dynamic between its two leads Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan.

8. Kick Ass

The superhero genre has quickly become one of the most defining movements in film for the 21st century. While there have been many caped crusaders to grace the screen in recent years, it is rare that a comic book film is released that feels truly new and unique, Kick Ass is that film. Made as part satire of superhero films and part action comedy, Kick Ass succeeds off its stellar cast and inventive action sequences. Perhaps most captivating and controversial is eleven year old Chloe Moretz as the violent vigilante Hit Girl.

7. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

While its script may be flawed, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World's succeeds in being endlessly inventive and visually stunning. Although much of its clever sense of humor and manic vision comes from its source material, it is hard to deny that Pilgrim is funny. What truly makes the film work though is Edgar Wright's unique visual style. Taking influence from both comic books and classic video games, the colorful world design is more inventive then almost any other film this year.

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

When it was first announced that the final film in the Harry Potter series would be split into two parts, there was much debate amongst the film and fan community. Was the decision truly based on maximising the quality of the final adaptation? Or was it made simply to maximise profit? Luckily for both fans and film goers, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is a great film as well as faithful adaptation. While there are moments that do not ring as emotional as they should, this is mostly the fault of the film's predecessors. However, with a great cast, amazing cinematography, and some moments of stellar art design Deathly Hallows Part 1 stands as the second best film in the series.

5. How To Train Your Dragon

Dreamworks has for years been one upped by its competitor Pixar. While both studios frequently create great animated films, it is often Pixar that receives higher critical and financial success. While Dreamworks once again experienced this in 2010, the studio released one of its most successful and beloved films in years. How To Train Your Dragon is a heartwarming and empowering, if a bit familiar, tale. While its script may not be best to grace the screen this year, How To Train Your Dragon thrives off its amazing voice cast, great animation, and perhaps one of the best scores of the year. Also worthy of note is the stellar use of 3D effects, which create one of the most memorable flight sequences in modern film.

4. True Grit

It's hard to fault the Coen Brothers. The critically adored duo churn out stellar films from year to year and 2010's remake of the 1960's western classic True Grit is no exception. Sporting a familiar but expertly executed revenge plot, True Grit is captivating throughout its two hour run. The script feels genuine and sports a few moments of witty humor. However, what truly makes the film are the stellar performances by Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld.

3. Inception

Although not the mind bending film much of the general public claims it to be, Inception still stands as one of the best films of the year. Although filled with strong performances by numerous all star actors, Christopher Nolan is the true star of this film. Delivering both an intelligent and intricate script, as well as moments of fantastic visual design and action Nolan elevates Inception into one of the best sci-fi action films of the last decade.

2. Toy Story 3

It is hard to find a perfect trilogy. While Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings franchise may be one of the few film series to every truly achieve this goal, Toy Story has come very close to joining its ranks. Toy Story 3 is that rare third installment that not only lives up to but exceeds expectations. Building off close to fifteen years of existence, Pixar delivers a respectful, fun, and emotionally powerful conclusion to possibly the best animated franchise of all time. Not only functioning as a stellar family film, Toy Story 3 offers a poignant and stirring study of mortality and loyalty. Toy Story 3 may very well be the most emotional film of the year, and coming from Pixar that is no surprise.

1. The Social Network

Facebook, the movie. The idea seemed ridiculous. It had to be a corporate money grab, something along Ridley Scott's reported Monopoly adaptation. The end result was a film that took America's critic associations by storm. David Fincher's The Social Network is not only a clever and stirring look at the rise of a corporate empire, but a captivating legal thriller and character drama. Driven by Aaron Sorkin's brilliant script filled with snappy and intelligent dialogue, The Social Network pulls the viewer and refuses to let go. Creating a thrilling atmosphere without a single gun shot or death is a feat in and of its own. Even with incredible direction and a fantastic screenplay, The Social Network continues to succeed in its impeccable cast. Jesse Eisenberg plays the brilliant and possibly socially impaired Mark Zuckerberg with a deadpan sense of ego and humor. Eisenberg is contrasted by Andrew Garfield's Eduardo Saverin, the sympathetic and human counterpart to Zuckerberg's digital machine. Even Justin Timberlake delivers portraying the reckless, but enthralling inventor of Napster Sean Parker. The Social Network excels on all fronts delivering not only the best film of the year but a clever commentary on the digital age that is certain to last for years.
Sunday, December 19, 2010

Portraying an all too familiar pattern, this episode of the Clone Wars once again represents a dip in quality. Despite following a stellar episode, Pursuit of Peace fails to achieve the political and emotional heights that it aims for.

After the terrorist attack on Coruscant, the Senate once again finds itself in a deadlock. The bill surrounding the expansion of the clone army still stands as an issue of hot debate, with Padme and her small band of political allies taking center stage. As she struggles to find support from the senate, Padme becomes the target of some rather unsavory individuals and comes face to face with just how dangerous politics can be.

Although the premise for Pursuit of Peace sounds promising, it fails to fully reach its potential. While the political issues surrounding the nature of the conflict are interesting and realistic, many of the other elements in this episode feel bizarrely off kilter. Padme is as frustrating as ever, her unshakeable idealism and peace loving ways become annoyingly unhuman and even irritating to watch. However, her interactions with the other senators are well handled and do offer some memorable moments.

Plot wise the oddest decision is the inclusion of the two mercenaries that target Padme and her supporters. While the episode would be devoid of any action if the two had not appeared, this may have actually been preferrable to the sloppy and poorly animated sequences we were given. Both villains are uncompelling, incompetent, and feel out of place. Perhaps most frustrating of all is an incredibly slow paced and unnecessary chase sequence that dominates the second act. Devoid of tension or good set peices, the chase drags even more then the politically charged scenes.

The dialogue in Pursuit of Peace also experiences a dip in quality. Bail Organa still stands as one of the more awkwardly handled characters in this series, and Padme's speech at the end feels too cliched to be effective.

Despite this, there is one very effective scene at the episodes end surrounding Palpatine. Its the best we've seen of this character during the course of the series, and the consistently stellar animation does much to heigthen the mood of this disturbing closer.

Overall, despite featuring some well handled political intrigue and a fantastic ending, Pursuit of Peace feels disingenous and cluttered. Further proof that this season must find its legs soon, or risk losing the fanbase it so readily one back last year.

Score C
Saturday, December 18, 2010

Despite issues surrounding the handling of political issues in the past, The Clone Wars took an incredible leap in the right direction in its stellar episode Heroes on Both Sides. Deliviring stellar animation, great character moments, and a story that actually makes a relavant statement about the nature of the Clone Wars, this episode easily stands as one of the best in the series.

Following recent losses in the Outer Rim seiges, the Republic finds itself in need of further clone troops to support the war effort. However, the already bankrupt system needs more funds in order for such troops to be created. This quickly becomes a point for debate, especially amongst the Trade Federation, Banking Clan, and Techno union who are dealing under the table with Separatist forces. Opposed to the entire idea of further troop development is the ever idealistic Padme Amidala. In a bid to escape from the increasingly volatile situation in the Senate, she along with Ahsoka make a covert trip to vist a friend of hers on the Separatist council. Meanwhile, Dooku has taken his own measures to make sure that the war between the two factions continues.

One of the most complex stories so far, the script for Heroes on Both Sides is surprisingly strong. Devoid of the bland and silly dialogue that often hampers this series, this surprisingly strong politically centered episode provides moments of incredibly poignancy and character. Padme's idealism feels genuine instead of annoyingly naive, and Ahsoka's lack of political understanding also creates for an interesting scenario. Raised in a society already at war, Ahsoka, like many of the younger viewers of the show, does not fully understand the political realities behind the conflict. Her character growth over the course of this outing is well written and suits both the character and the series.

The politics in this episode are also handled well. In the past when The Clone Wars has attempted to use politics as the basis for an episode it has often fallen on its face. This time Heroes on Both Sides creates an intriguing economic issue that is littered with good character moments. Most importantly is the fact that the series finally realizes that the Confederacy is not simply an army of machines, but a political system with people and citizens of its own. Add in an effective and violent final act that plays on current fears of domestic terrorism and you have a well detailed and fleshed out plot.

This episode is also noteworthy for its impressive visual design. The scenes of a post attack Coruscant are shockingly realistic and create the feel for a war time atmosphere. Most breathtaking are views of the Separatist world Raxus, which is the most artistic planet design to date.

Also worthy of note is that this episode stands out as being the first to feature new character desings for Anakin, Obiwan, and Ahsoka. Refitted with outfits more fitting maturing characters, its a clever reminder by the crew that we are moving towards an inevitable endgame.

Perhaps the only down points on Heroes on Both Sides are two jarringly awkward moments surrounding the terrorist side plot. There is a scene where Grievous adresses his droid servants as if they were real soldiers. The nature of this scene and the way it is executed feel incredibly out of place and awkward. Later, the suicide droids attack a facility of maitenance workers before completing their mission. While overall an effective scene, it is bizarre to see that all of the workers have the same character model. This has never been an issue before in the series. Even the clones have distinct characteristics and details that make them individuals. This makes this design oversight seem incredibly lazy and disappointing.

Overall, Heroes on Both Sides delivers one of the best episodes of the entire series with stellar animation and an impressive script.

Score: -A
With the big holiday releases pouring in, studios are taking advantage of attention towards such films as Harry Potter, Narnia, and Tron by delivering some sneak previews of film's to come. Which trailer's tease well, and which are more likely to scare away?

Green Lantern

One of the most beloved super heroes of all time, DC's Green Lantern is long over due for a screen adaptation. Starring hear throb Ryan Reynolds as the title character, the film seemed sure to deliver. That is until this overly sexed up, unconvincing, and downright silly trailer started airing in theaters starting last November. Fans should keep their fingers crossed that this film stays their brightest day, and not the blackest night it seems to be.

Score: D+

Cowboys and Aliens

This gritty and violent trailer makes its point very early on: Cowboys and Aliens is not the fun comedy rump people were expecting. Not even playing to its camp value at all this haunting and effective teaser creates a sci-fi western that is cool, realistic, and creepy. Add in some badassery from Daniel Craig in the lead role and you have a killer trailer for a film that's quickly becoming one of the most anticipated releases of next summer.

Score: A

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

An announcement trailer, as Michael Bay put it, this teaser for next summer's Transformers sequel, and probable finale, surprisingly works. Although hinting at a conspiracy that may well be the film's down fall, there is little denying that this tease is as intriguing as it is visually stunning. Here's hoping to a sequel that delivers on its potential.

Score: B+


A gamble to begin with, Marvel's Thor adaptation still stands on uneven ground. Although sporting some impressive visual effects, a strong cast, and a increasingly interwoven multiverse (note the SHIELD agent from Iron Man), there are things about Thor that just seem off. Asgard looks more like a Flash Gordon sequel then a home to Norse gods, and many of the costume designs are incredibly goofy. However, the Earth scenes fairs much better, with Natalie Portman and the famous Destroyer armor stealing the show.

Score: B

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Although not the train wreck many were expecting, the first glimpse at the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film is still worrisome. Most of this comes from the film's apparent overreliance upon Jack Sparrow to carry the film. While the drunken pirate was easily a high point of the previous three installments, being tempered with a strong supporting cast, now absent from the series, kept the audiences from feeling over exposed. Jack's antics even grow tiring within the course of this trailer, with little else truly going on. Even more concerning is the injection of a love interest that does not seem to fit the feel of the series or the character. Fairly, there are moments of genuine fun and it is good to hear those old music cues agin.

Score: C+

When Disney released Tron over twenty years ago it created a cult phenomena. Although the digitally created video game adventure was not a huge hit with critics or the box office, a legion of die hard fans kept the fuel for the film alive for decades. Talks of a sequel to the classic have been in talks for years, and yesterday Disney unveiled the sequel, Tron: Legacy, to the world. With a new mythology, hero, and bigger and flashier special effects, the question was whether this sequel would capture the spirit of the original. In many ways, both good and bad it does.

Tron Legacy picks up twenty years after the ending of the original film. Tron's protagonist Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) after building his corporate empire to new heights disappears into the night, leaving behind his son Sam (Garret Hedlund) in the process. Years go by and Sam is left alone to fend for himself and the company. However, one night Sam is informed that his father may in fact be alive, trapped inside the digital world he created more then twenty years before. Sam is soon catapulted into a world of electronic chaos as he is forced to find his father and save both realities.

Tron Legacy is almost dutifully faithful sequel to its cult favorite predecessor. In fact, it suffers from some of its same flaws.

The majority of what is wrong with Tron Legacy lies in the script by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. While high in concept and featuring several story points that are actually rather intriguing, the writing is ultimately the film's downfall. The character's, despite having some strong background work, do not grow as the film progresses. The general plot also covers all too familiar ground. However, the writing's real downfall comes from its terrible dialogue. Hitting every possible cliche, character's spout out lines that become laughable. The only exchange that ever really hits home surrounds a rather genuine dinner sequence between Sam and his father. In fact its the character high point of the film.

The actor's for the most part do their best with the script they are given. Garret Hedlund is only competent at playing the film's protagonist, but yet again he is given little room to work. Olivia Wilde fairs much better as the mysterious and sexy Quorra. In an incredibly artificial world, Wilde feels oddly genuine. Jeff Bridges also performs well as both Sam's father and the villain CLU. However, the true scene stealer of the entire film comes from the short appearance of Michael Sheen's flamboyant club owner Castor. His digital insanity becomes oddly captivating, and his surrealism hits a mark that the rest of the cast never manages to.

The real star of this film are the visuals. Like its predecessor, Tron Legacy's incredible art design and special effects are eye popping throughout the course of the film. Bolstered by above par 3D effects, director Joseph Kosinski wows with creative and fun visual set peices. From disc duels to light bike battles, Tron delivers on the action and spectacle that its video game premise promises. A less obvious achievement is the digital deaging of actor Jeff Bridges for his role as CLU. Modeled after the 1980's Bridges, CLU is incredibly convincing throughout the course of the film. There are few moments where the true nature of the deaging process becomes apparent, but these are fleeting and do not take away from the effect.

Another standout is Daft Punk's score. Mixing electronic dance beats and orchestral cues the French techno duo create an audio treat that complement the visuals in almost perfect fashion. In many ways, Tron functions better as a music video/light show then it does as a film.

Ultimately, despite featuring a decidedly subpar script, Tron Legacy is a fun and faithful adaptation of the original classic. Although sure to be as hit or miss as its predecessor, the film does have its audience. It's loud, pretty, and at moments a whole lot of fun. Just remember to plug your ears whenever a character opens their mouth.

Score: -B
Saturday, November 13, 2010

Following up on last week's terrible outing, The Clone Wars was already on shaky ground. With a third season that was slowly looking to be a disappointment, Hunt for Ziro had a lot to prove, and not a whole lot of time to do it. Fortunately, this week's outing, while flawed, is a vast improvement over the past several weeks.

Acting as a sequel to the season one finale, Hostage Crisis, follows Quinlon Vos and Obiwan Kenobi as they attempt to track down Cad Bane and the escaped crimelord Ziro the Hutt. Meanwhile, Ziro has hit his own problems with the Hutt Council, who have grown tired of the arrogant Hutt's shenanigans. To make things worse, his old flame Sy Snootles has reappeared.

Like Evil Plans, Hunt for Ziro focuses on some of the more irregular aspects of the Star Wars mythos. However unlike last weeks travesty, everything here seems to fit. Although Snootles may be a strange character, she already exists within the universe (see Return of the Jedi) and her role actually fit this story. The Hutt's being gangsters demand entertainment, so Snootles and her dancers make for welcome editions to the show. Not to mention that her character also takes a decidedly dark tone towards the episodes end. Even Ziro, a character I've been routinely opposed to since the shows inception, felt natural in this episode. The same cannot be said for Ziro's mother, who makes a rather poorly executed comedic appearance at the end of the second act.

Quinlon Vos also makes is Clone Wars debut in this episode. Originally introduced in the Dark Horse Star Wars: Republic comic series, Vos is one of the most well liked expanded universe characters ever imagined. While his character in this episode may disappoint some fans, it can be said that the Vos in Clone Wars is faithful to that in the comics. Any disappointment may simply come from the fact that he simply is not given much to do. This episode, at its worst is simply overcrowded. Not only do we follow Ziro and Snoodles, but we have Vos, Kenobi, and Cad Bane as well. While the script miraculously manages to sustain itself, it does feel cluttered and rushed at times.

The animation throughout Hunt for Ziro is superb. All the character models are fluid and detailed, and the environments, especially Nal Hutta, are incredibly atmospheric.

Much can also be said about the fantastic action sequence between Cad Bane, Quinlon Vos, and Obi-wan Kenobi. Based on the rocky jungle world of Teth, the multi-character duel is continuously inventive and well choreographed. The end result is one of the best sequences in the series.

Overall, Hunt for Ziro is a welcome improvement in this season of The Clone Wars. With interesting characters, a well scripted plot, and some great action scenes, it quickly becomes a memorable outing, even if you have to sort through some clutter and strangeness to get there.

Score: B

Only several times in a decade does a film like Skyline come about. A film that manages to fail so tremendously that it some how manages to become an entertainment success. Like such atrocities as The Room or the best of the Syfy Channel, Skyline is so monumentally awful that it becomes a memorable experience.

The film follows Elaine (Scottie Thompson) and her boyfriend Jarrod (also known as J-rock)(Eric Balfour) on a trip to LA to visit their successful friend effects guru friend Terry( T-money), played by Donald Faison. While partying up and experiencing drama typical to young hipsters, the group becomes intertwined in a planetary wide alien invasion.

The film's premise attempts to follow along the same lines as Cloverfield, following catastrophic events through the eyes of ordinary people. Unfortunately for Skyline, this has been executed much better dozens of times before it.

Even outside of the film's unoriginal premise the script is a muddled mess. The character's are annoyingly one dimensional and behave like imbeciles through their entire time on screen. In fact, a common pass time for J-rock and T-money seems to be watching homosexual couples have sex through a telescope. Dialogue is flat and sometimes insultingly stereotypical. The plot also moves about at a sporadic and uneven pace, and reaches moments of horrendous tedium.

Little more can be said about the acting. Every character in the film comes off as incredibly bland and uninspired. Whether this can be blamed on the capabilities of the actors is unknown, but there is nary a sympathetic actor to be found in Skyline.

There are, however, glimpses of a better film within Skyline. The special effects are impressive and often believable, and the design work on the various alien creatures in the film is superb. There are even several standout action sequences, which are unfortunately harmed by the film's budget constraints and its unwanted attention on its main cast. There even seems to be some intelligence poking out through various portions in the script. The motives for the alien race featured in the film are left ambiguous and the few glimpses we are given are, while often humorous, sometimes fairly interesting.

Where Skyline does succeed is through its unintentional humor. Whether through its cliched and plot hole ridden script, the banal and annoying characters, or moments of sheer confusion, Skyline, with the right crowd, is a comedic tour de force. In fact in many ways, the film is funnier than most of the comedies we have seen this year.

Is Skyline one of the worst films of the year? Of course, but it is also a damn good time. While seeing the film at a full price screening is not recommended, a group viewing is sure to guarantee a good time had by all.

Score: D
Friday, November 12, 2010
Primeval stands as one of the most unique shows on television. Featuring movie quality creature effects and a quirky British premise, the underground science fiction show has become a sleeper hit around the world, and thanks to fan enthusiasm the show will be back for a fourth season. Check out the cool trailer below.

With today's release of the science fiction film Skyline, the alien invasion genre seems alive and well in Hollywood. Nowhere is there better proof then in next year's action sci-fi Battle: Los Angeles. African director Jonathan Liebesman's project has been described as a mix between Black Hawk Down and Independance Day and stars Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Ramon Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Ne-Yo and Michael Peña.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The link between the superhero Iron Man and Disney studios has grown deeper then previously expected.

According to Variety, Iron Man director Jon Favreau is slated to direct the upcoming Disney feature, Magic Kingdom, which draws inspiration from the theme park of the same name. Taking themes from the popular children's book Kingdom Keepers, Magic Kingdom features a world where the rides and attractions gain life. Reportedly it is to have a similar tone to the popular family franchise Night at the Museum.

Perhaps one the most shocking and unconventional scenes in 2008's the Dark Knight involved the film's love interest, Rachel. Not only was it revolutionary for a superhero film, but was a powerful emotional punch. However, this also left the series devoid of female characters, something that director Christopher Nolan plans to rectify in the upcoming sequel.

According to Deadline and, Nolan has approached actresses Anne Hathaway, Keira Knightley, Blake Lively, Natalie Portman, Naomi Watts and Rachel Weisz for a villainous role and that of a new love interest. This adds fuel to the fire that Catwoman may appear as the villain for the upcoming Batman film. However, there is also Tom Hardy to consider, who was also recently cast for an atagonistic role.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Despite the mixed opinions regarding the Star Wars prequel trilogy, there is one fact that is stands undisputed among fans: Darth Maul is awesome. Which is why the announcement that the Star Wars animated series The Clone Wars would explore this character and his close relative Savage Opress became one of the most talked about announcements of the summer.

Following a string of less then stellar episodes, Lucasfilm plans to return with a bang January 7th with the premiere of the first installment in a multi-part examining the character. However, certain lucky fans will have the pleasure of viewing these episodes early. On December 8th, Lucasfilm will hold free screenings of the arc throughout the country. Check Star for the details.

"Due Date" starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis is yet another "get him to the church on time" movie in the current string of such movies, like "The Hangover" and "Get Him to The Greek". The slight change of plot afforded by the birth of Peter Highman (Downey's character)'s daughter wasn't large enough to distract from this. There are several crude jokes made, including but not limited to a self-stimulating dog (yes, they do show it all). The interaction between Downey and Galifianakis is interesting, and there is a specially fun scene involving the Mexican Border Police. In a slightly predictable way, the characters become friends, learn something on their journey, and stay in touch once the ordeal is over. One particularly shining bit is the soundtrack, with some recognizable and fitting tunes. The movie does try hard to be different, but it fell short of that when the storyline was laid out.

Personal rating: C+
Friday, November 5, 2010

Despite the quality of the previous installment of The Clone Wars, Evil Plans may be one of the worst episodes of the show ever produced.

The plot of the episode follows C-3P0 and his trust companion R2D2 as they struggle to find supplies for a party being planned by Padme Amidala. Meanwhile, the bounty hunter Cad Bane hunts the two to gain the schematics for the senate building.

This episode made the bizarre choice of acting as a prequel to the season one finale Hostage Crisis. While Hostage Crisis was a generally well liked episode, the fact that it could possibly warrant a prequel is absurd. The episode was incredibly self explanatory and lacked any true need for further exploration of the plot.

The plot itself feels incredibly unnecessary, and this is compounded by the fact that nothing substantial happens in the episode. There are no interesting action set peices, no unique characterization, and little long term plot development. Cad Bane recovers his plans, which comes as no surprise to the audience. At the end our heroes are whiped of memory of the entire incident so any character development is lost. The only interseting development is a talk between Jabba the Hutt and his bretheren regarding their wayward brother Ziro. This comes off as interesting as Ziro has always stood as an odd inclusion to the Star Wars mythos, and this may lead the end of his inclusion in the series.

Perhaps the most asinine and annoying sub plot developed in this episode is the inclusion of a droid spa. Yes. A droid spa. Its as stupid as it sounds. Obviously created as a type of poorly conceived gag R2D2 goes through a spa treatment that serves absolutely nothing to the episode as a whole. Humor is welcome, and even whole episodes focusing on the more light hearted aspects of Star Wars are apprecaited. However, back dropped with a darker plot and executed to the poorest degree does nothing but hurt the series as a whole.

The only two real plusses to this episode are the continually stellar animation and Anthony Daniels portrayel of 3P0. Despite the chaos and terrible scripting, 3P0 comes off as the only thing in this episode that actually seems to work. Daniels has spent decades playing this character and he continues to feel genuine.

Overall though this is an incredible disappointment and a low mark for the series as a whole.

Score D+

From the start Assassin was a risk of an episode. Centering around two fan favorite characters, a plot point that has been touchy for fans, and fighting against the series's own continuity the episode seemed like an almost impossible feet to handle correctly. Surprisingly, The Clone Wars team tackled this task spectacularly. Despite its flaws, Assassin ends up being one of the series's better episodes.

Picking up shortly after last weeks Academy, Ahsoka returns to Coruscant to discuss her recent mission tracking down the dangerous bounty hunter Aurra Sing. With Sing believed to be dead the council has moved on to more pressing matters, however the Force seems to have other plans for the fledgeling padawan. Ahsoka begins to have horrific dreams featuring the deadly mercenary attacking someone close to her. Lost and faced with an incredible danger, Ahsoka must rise to the challenge to rescue a life.

Once again Ahsoka stars. The series has really hit its stride when crafting a believable and genuine pathos for the young girl that was originally universally hated by fans. Ahsoka's struggle with her new found responsibility and powers are handled skillfully delivering the necessary confusion and emotion.

The Clone Wars continues its trend of featuring incredible villains. Whether it be Cad Bane, Asajj Ventress, or General Grievous the dark side shines strong in this series. Aurra Sing is also a scene stealer. Originally making her mark in last season's Boba Fett mark, Sing acts a sinister and even maniacal foil the heroes.

Perhaps the most noticeable flaw in this episode is the noticeable lack of tension. While the fate of Ahsoka remains a mystery to fans of the series, the subject of Sing's assassination attempt is known by fans and the general public to survive to a much later date. This robs the episode, which relies heavily on doubt, of much needed tension.

It also at times feels as if Assassin is simply complex for a half hour episode. Ideas are sometimes glossed over or addressed inadequitly, especially towards the end of the episode.

Even more frustrating is the hole this episode creates in the continuity. The events surrounding the conclusion to the assisination conspiracy put several earlier episodes in the series at a far later date then originally suspected, throwing into question numerous other plot points as well.

is beautifully animated. The environments are memorable and atmospheric, the characters feel genuine, and the action is frantic and exciting.

Overall, Assassin is an exciting, if flawed, return to The Clone Wars fans have come to love. Now if we could only solve those continuity issues.

Score: B+

After the previous weeks lackluster Corruption the announcement that The Academy would act as a sequel to the much dislike episode was met with some initial dislike by fans of the series. Luckily, The Academy returns the series to where it needs to be.

Following the events regarding the tea smuggling ring, Satine requests help from the Jedi Council. With Jedi spread thin across the galaxy, padawan Ahsoka Thano arrives to help with the increasing corruption on the planet. Ahsoka begins educating some of the planets youth on the dangers of unpure politics, which ultimately leads to discovery of a deeper conspiracy then originally suspected.

Despite the fact that the episode follows never before seen characters, children in fact, it is surprising that The Academy works as well as it does. Unlike previous episodes, the plight of the characters is understandable and even relatable. Ahsoka once again steals the show acting as incredible mentor and teacher. All together she feels incredibly far removed from the head strong and rash Togruta we met at the beginning of the series.

The cast of children, including Satine's nephew, also work well. Their character's are surprisingly interesting and fit easier into the story line then other walk on roles like Baron Papanoida. However, their character models often feel awkward, and lack the fluid animation seen by most of the animated cast.

While once again lacking in action, The Academy's plot moves forward with surprising pace without ever feeling rushed. It's only issues come with predictability. The resolution to the mystery is painfully obvious even to the youngest viewers and robs the final revelation of any surprise or shock. The ending to the conflict also feels incredibly anti climactic and disappointing.

Despite its flaws, The Academy is a welcome return to a series that seems to be quickly losing its footing. While it is nowhere near as strong as the season's stellar premiere episodes, its strengths far out weigh its faults.


The Clone Wars continued its slump this week in the lackluster political conspiracy centered episode, Corruption.

Mandalore has fallen into debt. Standing as a neutral system in the growing war between the Republic and the Confederacy, the planet has found itself without trade and falling into a deep lack of supplies. Hoping to assist in this matter, Padme Amidala arrives to assist Ducchess Satine of Mandalore. Meanwhile, a group of black market criminals smuggle supplies into the planet.

Once again, this episode suffers from poor handling of an interesting scenario. The political aspect of the war is once again given attention, which while welcome feels tired after three weeks of similar material. By this point the audience has become tired of watching a series centered around trade dealings and political conspiracies. While these plots can be interesting, the episode must deliver on well executed characters dialogue and set peices. Unfortunatley, Corruption fails to do so.

The subject of the conspiracy in this episode seems incredibly out of place. When there are dozens of battles being fought across the galaxy, why is it that the audience is relegated to watching a story line that essentially follows a bunch of aliens poisoning tea.

Perhaps the strangest aspect of this episode is its portrayel of Duchess Satine. Satine made an incredible impression in the original three episode Mandalore arc in season 2. A well written and intriguing character, Satine's pacifist values and her past with Obiwan Kenobi made her a fan favorite. In this episode the Satine we follow seems like a different person. Here behavior, especially for a pacifist, seems incredibly rash and even brutal. This sudden change in character is attributed to the stressing situation seen in Mandalore, but even then Satine seems to behaving irrationaly, something that has left numerous fans confused and even angry.

However, the animation in this episode is particularly superb. Characters are now incredibly vibrant and fluid in movement, and Mandalore is a beautiful location. There is also a creative and well realized action sequence.

These do little to alleviate an overall lackluster installment to the series in an increasingly disappointing third season.

Score: C

This episode marked the beginning of a span of espionage based episodes in this season. While I have long waited for a more political Clone Wars episode, Sphere of Influence continues Supply Lines trend of mediocrity.

The episode follows the the chairman of Pantora Baron Papanoida's attempts to recover his missing daughters, who have been kidnapped by a group of Seperatist criminals. Meanwhile, Ashoka Thano and her close friend senator Riyo Chuchi attempt to negotiate with the Trade Federation's blockade of Pantora.

While the premise for Sphere of Influence is novel and features plenty of espionage and political maneuvering, the pacing for the episode seems surprisingly lacking. Papanoida's investigation and search for his children lack necessary tension, primarily because he is relative unknown to even the most avid Star Wars fan. The audience simply just doesn't have much stake in whether the good natured politician recovers his family or not. Even a guest voice spot by Seth Green and cameo by fan favorite Embo does little to elevate this episode above mediocrity.

The plot following Ahshoka and Tuchi fairs much better. While their friendship is a new development that has never been mentioned before this point, the two have an interesting dynamic and allows for some good development towards Ahsoka's character. Ahsoka in general has grown to become one of the best aspects of the show.

Perhaps the strangest aspect is the inclusion of Greedo. Yes, the Rodian bounty hunter from the original film makes an appearance in this episode. He does little for the plot of this episode and his entire role feels like a poorly handed peice of fan service.

This episode also lacking in the action department. While this is sometimes handled well like in Season Two's Senate Spy , this only adds the lack of tension present in the mainplot. However, a quick shootout in a familiar cantina does much for the episode visually.

Despite the obvious issues with Sphere of Influence, the episode is not a terrible one. It just simply lacks the flare and character that have the audience has become accostomed to.

Score: C+

Despite a mixed fan reaction and massive budget cuts, it appears that the sequel to the 2007 action hit Ghost Rider has begun shooting, and according to producers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor it "kicked epic ass."

The two excited producers also blogged about the shooting for the process on Twitter and mentioned that the same Hellcycle from the previous movie would not appear. Also, they left this little tidbit: "Idris Elba, helicopters, motorcycles, Russian arm[y] and the Transfagarasanul... HOLY S#!T"

The Transfagarasnul is a massive Russian roadway, which will apparently involve a massive chase scene involving the film's protagonist.
Check out this crazy new trailer for Zach Snyder's new fantasy action epic, Sucker Punch. Due for release next March.

So here's something you don't see everyday: a free, in-browser micro MMO. Realm of the Mad God is a 3D pixel-based graphic game that is deceptively deep. You start by making a simple character and joining one of the few servers, with no sign up required and a minor cookie option on your computer. The dungeons available are interesting, the enemies present real difficulties, but the largest factor of interest is the death system.

Quite simply, when your character dies, he doesn't come back.

This doesn't spell GAME OVER and cue the Chopin's Funeral March in B Flat Minor though. Everything you accomplished with your dead Hero is passed on to his "descendant". Though I haven't personally played very far in the game, it seems confrontation with the legions of the Mad God's servants requires teamwork on the part of the players.

If you're looking for something bigger than a mini-game and smaller than a full-fledged MMO to spend an hour or two on, this is your game.

It is appears that the long anticipated Spider-man reboot is finally picking up steam. With last month's casting news and villain announcements, it appears the studio heads are finally giving this project a much needed boost. This is further shown through announcements made by Sony this week regarding certain other principle roles in the film.

First, The Hollywood Reporter has announced that critically acclaimed actor Martin Sheen (West Wing, Mass Effect 2) will play the pivotal role of Uncle Ben in the upcoming reboot. Sally Ford (Forrest Gump) has also been announced to play the kind hearted Aunt May.

Perhaps more interesting then this important casting announcement was a surprise revalation released to the press today. The Wrap reported today that fan favorite and pop cultural icon Mary Jane Watson would not appear in the film. In fact she has been in the script since the first draft. Instead the film will follow Peter's first love Gwen Stacy, played by Emma Stone.
That's right folks. After almost of a month inactivity, Artificial Continuum is back from the dead. Following a chaotic and busy October, we now enter into the relative peace of November. Which means more time to post, blog etc. Look for more news reviews etc.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010

(Sorry for the hiatus. Things have been hectic here on the home front. While this return to posting does not mean a return to the summer schedule of daily updates, it does mean we will be posting more frequently, primarily during the weekends.)

After a long wait and months of speculation the villain for the upcoming Spider-man reboot has been revealed. It appears that after years of waiting and almost fifty years of existence in the Marvel Universe, the Lizard will finally stalk the silver screen.

The news first trickled in Monday with an announcement from Sony Pictures that prestigious actor Rhys Ifans would be playing the antagonist in the upcoming Spider-man reboot. The decision apparently came after seeing Ifans's stellar performance in the upcoming Sony film Anonymous. (Nerds will be able to see Ifans in the upcoming adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as Xenophilius Lovegood.) Ifans was also apparently chosen for his ability to convey both "warmth and rage". This left many fans speculating on who exactly the actor would be playing. Venom, Carnage, and even Kraven the Hunter were all tossed around.

According to, Ifans will in fact be playing the role of Curt Connors in the 2012 comic book adaptation.

Ifans will star alongside Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy.
Sunday, September 26, 2010

After a shocking and thought provoking season finale, Fringe has returned to television. The show that originally started as an uncreative X-files rip off has evolved ove the course of its second season into a mythologically driven and morally complex drama that is quickly becoming one of the best shows on television. This season opener is no different.

Last season Fringe ended its universe crossing arc with an incredibly unsettling twist. The Olivia we had come to know and love had been replaced by her alternate universe counterpart, leaving the series's central character locked away in a prison in an alternate universe.

The third season opener, simply titled Olivia, follows the show's title character as she attempts to escape her paranormal prison, while eluding the efforts of her captors. The concept is simple, but in classic Fringe fashion has more then its fair share of twists and turns. Olivia's plight and isolation is incredibly disturbing and surprisingly claustrophobic. The all encompasing isolation and the effects of her enemies experiments upon her create an unsettling predicament that builds to an incredible climax.

Anna Torv continues her string of excellent acting in this episode as Olivia. Although her character lacked depth in the first season of the series, Olivia has become a relatable and empathetic heroine that the audience has come to love. This makes her plight all the more disturbing and heart breaking. Torv alongside her coactor Joshua Noble also is tasked with playing two characters at the same time. Both succeed excellently. The contrast between Noble's sinister Walternate and his more childlike Walter is fascinating and an incredible acting achievement, making his recent Emmy snub all the more frustrating.

Also worth noting is Andre Royo's guest appearance as the cab driver Henry. While his appearance is brief, Henry is a scene stealer and soon becomes one of the most memorable and heartfelt guest appearances on the series.

The alternate universe continues to be fascinating to watch. The subtle differences between culture, technology, and character act almost as easter eggs for an increasingly vorocious fan base. For only appearing in three episodes, the alternate world feels incredibly detailed and fleshed out.

Olivia defies convention for some many ways in the series that at the end the audience feels as lost and hopeless as the cahracters. The rest of the season and even the future of the series feels incredibly uncertain, but at the same time incredibly intriguing.

Score: A
Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lost craeted a vacuum in television. Revolutionary in its expansive mythology and serialized storytelling, the ending of Lost's six season journey has left millions of viewers stranded without a series to follow. It also leaves room for a new contender to pick up where Lost left off, and carry on its mantle.

Enter NBC's The Event, a serialized science fiction drama that first entered the public consciousness this summer with a crushingly oppressive marketing campaign. The Event had potential to be big, and the corporate brass behind the series recognized this.

The Event follows several different characters as they struggle to cope with a massive government conspiracy surrounding a mysterious prison in Alaska. The President struggles with the revelation and moral implications of such a facility, and Sean Walker and his future father in law Michael Buchanan struggle to find his girlfriend.

The Event wastes no time in creating tension and mystery. It begins with a pump of adrenaline and intrigue and continues almost full steam to the episode's end. Perhaps the show's most interesting and frustrating aspect is its style of storytelling. The Event is told in a series of out of sequence scenes that must be pieced together by the viewer. While this gimmick is originally jarring and incredibly frustrating, it is oddly effective. You want to figure out the mystery as much as the characters in the episode, which is a plus for a show whose major focus is its mythology.

While The Event is great at creating tension and mystery it utterly fails in creating interesting and genuine characters. While empathy and depth may grow over time, the show's cast of characters are all incredibly dull or cliched. While we are given apparent motives for the characters seen, they do not feel genuine. What shows like The Event fail to realize is that shows such as Lost did not succeed solely on their mythology. They told interesting character stories as well as a compelling mystery.

Despite its flaws, The Event is still attention grabbing television. One that will certainly merit another weeks viewing.

Score: B

Chuck is back. Once again saved by a devoted fanbase from near cancellation, the kind hearted espionage comedy has returned for its fourth season.

Picking up after the dramatic conclusion to the third season, Chuck Vs. The Anniversary finds our kind hearted hero struggling to find his mother, who has been missing since he was a child. Teaming up with his childhood friend Morgan,Chuck struggles to accomplish his global search without tipping off his sister of his friends in the government, who are dealing with an issue of their own.

Despite being the fourth season of a sucessful series, the season opener to Chuck feels bizarrely disjointed and frustrating. While the acting and production values are as spectacular as always, the pacing and plot feel annoyingly disjointed.

Like the lackluster Season 3 opener, Chuck vs. The Anniversary takes place over the course over several months. However, we are unable to see the effects of this time period due to the lackluster writing and editing. The entire episode feels chaotic and hard to follow.

The humor has also evolved into something that is not typical of the series. While it is certainly funny, it does not feel like it belongs in an episode of Chuck.

Despite all these changes, Chuck also seems to have another foot planted firmly in the past. Despite being fired several times, Chuck has returned to work at the Buy More. Despite a rather nice conclusion to this plot point at the end of Season 3, Chuck seems determined to include this now tiresome plot point in the series.

However, even though the episode is deeply flawed, there are moments where the show we have come to love shines through. The action scenes continue to be fun and creative, and there are numerous character moments that feel refreshing and emotionally satisfying.

Score: C+

Supply Lines may be the most surprisingly good episode of The Clone Wars in months. When it was initially announced that this episode would focus on the infamous Jar Jar Binks, it was assumed the worst, that Clone Wars, despite an improved second season, would return to its inept an awkward roots. However, this is hardly the case.

The concept behind Supply Lines is simple, but at the same time politically complex for a show whose target audience is around ten years old. Acting as a prequel to the first season of the series, the episode follows Jedi Master Di and his team of clones as they struggle to hold off an ever advancing droid army on the Twi'lek homeworld Ryltoh. With millions of innocent lives held behind enemy lines, the Jedi call upon senator Bail Organa to help deliver supplies through the Seperatist blockade. However, to do so he must convince the King of Toydaria, a neutral planet, to assist in the effort. Even worse he is paired with a certain Gungan Senator from Naboo.

The plot for Supply Lines is mixed, but ultimatley effective. Di and the Twi'lek's plight on Ryloth is effective and appopriatley emotional. There is an actual sense of tension, due partially the spectacular action sequences (something the season one Ryloth trilogy was missing). The other plotline for this episode is obviously the weaker, but even it manages to work. The political ins and outs of the Clone Wars have always been an oddly captivating part of the expanded universe and Supply Lines gives an interesting look. The plight presented to the characters is realistic and allows for some great tension and even some effective comedic peices. Despite this, the transitions between both plot points are often jarring and feel unnatural.

Jar Jar is oddly tolerable in this episode. He rarely speaks, and even when it does it is oddly intelligent and lacking in the usual stupidity. However, there is one cringe worthy sequence in the third act that nearly drags the episode down with it.

Bail Organa is surprisingly stone faced throughout Supply Lines, and he stands out amongst dozens of other well animated characters. His voice acting is also surprisingly flat. Since Bail is such a central character to this episode, his lackluster production values make him frustrating to see on screen.

Despite the flaws, the entire episode is saved by a fantastic and emotionally stirring conclusion, which delivers one of the most powerful and tragic endings to the series.

Score: -B
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Enjoy this brand new trailer for the upcoming fantasy blockbuster

Off Topic: Once again, I apologize for the lack of updates. Juggling the blog and multiple commitments has become difficult with numerous other priorities coming first. However, when the weekend comes you shall have updates on the geek world, reviews for Clone Wars, Chuck, the Event, and Fringe.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
While it may be lacking any real news, it is comfortable to see that the Legendary Pictures Godzilla reboot is moving forward. Check out this interview with producer Brian Rogers.

Monday passed and I missed my opportunity. Yes I know. I'm a failure. Sad face. Anyways, here are the obligatory three web videos.
Also, look for an influx of news, reviews, and more this weekend.

1. Evil Baby Glare

Babies rock, I don't really know why....

2. Blood

One thing needs to be said about this viral classic: NOT FUNNY!!!!!!!

3. Axe Ball Cleaner Commercial

No I was not paid to upload this video...Or was I?
Saturday, September 18, 2010

While the first episode of last night's season opener acted as a prequel to the fan favorite Rookies, Arc Troopers acts as a continuation to both episodes. Numerous characters, story arcs, and locales come back into play in this episode that nicely wraps out the trilogy made by the two previous episodes.

Arc Troopers picks up several months after the events in Rookies, telling the story of General Grievous's invasion of Kamino, and the Republic's attempts to defend it. Certain plot points, including Asajj Ventress's covert operations on Kamino, are brought back from previous episodes and reach their ultimate climax.

Arc Troopers tales a fast past and exciting story that does not shie away from delving into great character peices as well. The clones from Domino Squadron return for a powerful conclusion to their story arc. General Grievous also provides some of his personal best scenes in the series to date. However, the two true stars of this episode are 99 and Asajj Ventress. 99's emotional and relatable arc, which was first touched on during the previous episode, reaches its powerful climax, delivering one of the most memorable sequences in the entire series. Ventress is also a scene stealer. No longer the incompetent Dark Jedi seen in Season One, the bald headed force user has involved into a complex and disturbing villainess. Unfortunatley, one of her most powerful scenes from this episode was cut during post production due to interference on Cartoon Network's part.

While Clone Cadets was lacking in the level of action that is common in this series, Arc Troopers delivers, showing the most intense battle sense the season two standout Landing at Point Rain. The action is frantic, well animated, and includes dozens of memorable moments. The episode, surprisingly, also includes some of the best lightsaber combat in the series, showing both a duel between Grievous and Obiwan and Anakin and Ventress. The improved animation lends much to this episode allowing it to deliver on the high octane scenes that its premise demands.

The music, which was annoyingly flat earlier in the series, has also evolved into great orchestral pieces that help to flesh out some of the more emotional aspects of the story.

However, Arc Troopers is not perfect. One of the most frustrating aspects of the series since day one has been its run time. While numerous television series manage to juggle a half hour timeslot perfectly, The Clone Wars has always struggled. Arc Troopers begins and ends with almost break neck speed, and this becomes frustrating to watch at times. This constraint of time leads to sloppy dialogue and awkward scenes that could have been powerful given more time to evolve.

Despite this minor complaint, Arc Trooper stands out as one of the series best.

Score: -A

Delted Scene:

Here is the scene that was omitted from the final version of the episode.

Despite a frustrating five month wait, The Clone Wars has finally returned to television. With high expectations and a ever growing fanbase, this season has alot to live up to. Luckily, last night's two part season opener delivered.

When Season One first aired in 2008, fans were blown away by a particular episode (Rookies) surrounding a group of rookie clone troopers. Dark, compelling, and unique this episode became a fan favorite and a turning point for the series. The Season Three opener acts as both a prequel and a sequel to this classic installment, and both are equally strong episodes on their own.

The first out of the two was the prequel episode Clone Cadets. Picking up several months before the events seen in Rookies, the audience follows the tumultuous training and origin of the ill fated Domino Squadron.

The plot for Clone Cadets is enjoyable, but not wholey original. The story of teamwork and graduation into adulthood is one that has been seen numerous times in multiple military tales.

While it may not have been the most action packed episode in the series, Clone Cadets is noteworthy for being one of the most character driven. The story of Domino Squadron is interesting and compelling in its own right, but oddly its the side characters who are the most interesting here. The first being the bounty hunter Bric. Acting as a mentor for the clones, this ill tempered and surprising deep character is a welcome inclusion to the Star Wars mythos and easily becomes a scene stealer.

However, perhaps the most interesting character introduced in this episode is the malformed clone 99. Mishapen during a mistake in the cloning progress, 99 acts as a lowly janitor for the training station on Kamino. Despite this, he acts as an older brother and watchful eye for the trainees. 99's arc throughout this episode and the follow up, Arc Troopers, is surprisingly heavy and deep material for the series. Regardless of any original reluctance towards the idea of 99, he wins you over and is the true star of this episode.

The animation has also improved significantly from the previous seasons. Characters no longer stand stone faced and passive during dialogue, and environments are incredibly detailed. However, there are some points, especially during several fist fight sequences, that experience some noticeable difficulties.

The dialogue also occasionally slips into cliches and tropes typical of the story it tells.

Overall, Clone Cadets is a worthy addition to the series and a promising start to a new season.

Score: B+
Friday, September 17, 2010

While James Cameron has mentioned in the past that he plans to take his sequel to Avatar to the seas of Pandora, it appears that the visionary science fiction director is planning to go a step furhter with his plans.

According to The Daily Mail, Cameron plans to shoot portions of the science fiction in the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench in the Philippines, the deepest known place in the world's oceans. Not only would this be the first film to shoot at such a depth, but Cameron's crew will be the first people to visit the area since it was first visited in 1960. Accoring to the paper Cameron has purchased "has commissioned a bespoke submarine, built of high-tech, man-made composite materials and powered by electric motors, which will be capable of surviving the tremendous pressures at a depth of seven miles, from which he will shoot 3D footage that may be incorporated in Avatar's sequel."

It appears that we will have more then one franchise of giant robots from the 80's in coming years. While we have already seen the success of Micheal Bay's Transformers franchise, it appears that another popular cartoon is about to get the big budget treatment.

While a film adaptation of Voltron has been rumored for years, it had been assumed for years that the project had hit a dead end. However, these rumor seemed to be disproved yesterday when uploaded concept art from the upcoming feature. Apparently the film is also being scripted by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer.
Monday, September 13, 2010
It's Monday! And although the school year has started and activity on the site has dipped, I still have found time to deliver you guys your weekly taste of not so funny web videos...

1. Geek And Gamer Girls

Geek and Gamer Girls Song - Watch more Funny Videos

You know that music vidoe where Katy Perry destroys your childhood memories of Candyland? We now have a nerd version, which is not only a better song but also features a rapping Seth Green.

2. Narwhals..

No, its not really a classic. But its got narwhals.

3. Inception Acapella Score

Perhaps the most accurate description of the Inception soundtrack yet..
Sunday, September 12, 2010

There are few novel series as dear to my heart as Odd Thomas. Telling the tale of a good hearted fry cook who can commune with the dead, Dean Koontz's clever and haunting series has been a favorite of mine for years.

According to Production Weekly, Stephen Sommers, director of G.I. Joe Rise of Cobra, may be interested in adapting this sucessful series to the big screen. Stay tuned for further news.
Check out this interesting preview into the making of the Clone Wars and the upcoming third season.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Larry Doyle is quickly becoming a comedy superstar. A former writer for the Simpsons, and author of the widely successful I Love You, Beth Cooper, Doyle has already shown the world that he has skill in creating successful satire and memorable characters. Doyle continues his success in his recent comedic novel, GoMutants!.

In a world where the monsters, aliens, and events of B-Movie Horror films from the 50's actually exist, J!m, son of a particularly hated invader, must struggle to survive high school. While J!m has problems typical of an American teenager (puberty, girls, bullies, etc.) he also must deal with the fact that his neighborhood suspects him of being an alien terrorist. Luckily, he has the help of his two friends Johnny, a mutant motorcycle-riding ape, and Jelly, a jello like mass passing as a fat kid.

Go Mutants! is a unique premise to say the least. Although its plot relies on the cliches of both the high school comedy and science fiction genres, Go Mutants! never stops feeling surprisingly fresh.

Perhaps the most obvious and striking aspect of the novel is the fascinating world that it takes place in. Although designed as a satire, Doyle manages to breath a surprising amount of life and detail into a land populated by aliens, mutants, robots, etc. Incredible detail is given to the history, politics, and even pop culture of this surreal universe, which is surprising given that the book is a comedy. However, due to Doyle's deadpan and atypical sense of humor, certain confusing aspects are explained so nonchalantly that they required repeated reading to understand.

Despite this flaw, Go Mutants!'s comedy is endlessly funny. While there are the expected pop culture references, Doyle's humor spreads beyond name dropping. The characters and situations presented are enough to deserve a several laughs. That's not to say that Doyle does not use his expertly crafted universe effectively. Fans of the science fiction genre will be able to pick up cameos Gojira, Gort, and even Triffids.

Despite taking cues from 1950's culture, Go Mutants! is relevant, and continuously successful, in its satire. Commenting on topics ranging from the War on Terror to teen society, Doyle's tale is as almost as thought provoking as it is funny. While you won't find anything here as stirring as Catch 22 or other satirical masterpieces, Go Mutants! is a great piece of satirical fiction.

While overshadowed by the world they inhabit, the characters that populate the world are certainly notable in their own right. Each are interesting, and their plights believable and sympathetic, if slightly cliched.

While it may best be enjoyed by fans of the science fiction genre, Doyle's latest comedy is well worth the read.

Score: -A

I recently played through Deus Ex. Some would say I'm a bit late, (ten years late) but screw them. In Deus Ex, the player is dropped into the position of J. C. Denton, a cyborg secrent agent in the future. That's all I can really say without spoiling something, but I have to say, the story is excellent.

The gameplay in Deus Ex may seem difficult to some at first. The player has six health bars for different body parts, and if one were to waltz into the first level and start shooting baddies, as many of today's gamers would do without question, he or she would most likely die very quickly. The game encourages a very tactical, stealthy approach, whether the player prefers to take out enemies with explosives, rifles, or pistols, or he or she invests points in electronics and lock picking and never participates in fights at all.

That brings us to the topic of morality. Deus Ex has no meter which proudly displays just how much of a douche the player is, and the player will rarely find himself making choices which are clearly labeled and separate. No, the player projects his or her morality through the gameplay, with choices between guns and tranquilizers, or letting an NPC die and protecting him. Deus Ex is one of the few games to really have consequences for a characters actions.

While characters may not be as deep as those in Bioware games, the writing is still excellent. The story is reminiscent of 1984. It shows a cautionary tale of the consequences of technology which could well possibly exist soon, and some that do already.

Deus Ex has no problem immersing the player within its dystopian atmosphere. I must confess that while playing, I actually yelled at one point when attacked from behind. One can't have a snack or talk to a friend while playing Deus Ex, because they will simply be lost in it.

Unfortunately, the graphics have not held up very well, but those who don't mind older graphics should have little trouble adjusting. However, they do an excellent job of showing the deterioration and general dirtiness of the setting.

Deus Ex has fantastic gameplay and is incredibly immersing. The greatest thing about it though, is that it is a perfect example of a video game that becomes more than a game, something definitely artistic, and teaches us something important. Go get Deus Ex right now. It's ten bucks on Steam.

Post Script: On a rather creepy note, the twin towers had been destroyed by terrorists in the game. Keep in mind this game was made before 9-11. This can be read here.
Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bioware has done it. While the famous video game studio may have stumbled with previous editions to its stellar space opera, the latest DLC Lair of the Shadow Broker is something to behold. Delivering on not only a great Mass Effect experience but a unique game in and of its own.

The essential part of the Mass Effect series is its story.
Unfortunately (with the exception of Overlord), previous Mass Effect expansions have not been able to complete fulfill the expectations set by fans of the series. Lair of the Shadow Broker delivers, telling an emotional narrative that even rivals the main campaign.

The story follows Commander Shepard, and former teammate Liara as they struggle to take down a powerful and omniscient crime lord, whom Liara has a personal grudge with. Together the two face terrorists, high flying car chases, personal revelations, and more then a bit of humorous banter.

The plot carries on at breakneck speed. The action continues almost constantly, but feels completely natural. This makes the gaps between the chaos all the more important and impactful. Lair of the Shadow Broker feels truly cinematic, even more so then the main game.

In true Mass Effect fashion, Shadow Broker is a character driven tale. Liara T'Soni, a friend and squadmate from the original game, steals the show. Her character is truly expanded beyond the relatively shallow shell seen previously. Liara actually evolves as a character throughout the course of the narrative, something which is surprising considering that the campaign is relatively short.

However, Liara is not the only scene stealer. Something that Mass Effect 2 was missing was a memorable villain, Lair of the Shadow Broker has several. From the morally ambiguous Spectre Tela Vasir to the Shadow Broker himself, Bioware has collected an interesting rogue's gallery.

Even the normally hollow Shepard has his moment to shine. Perhaps where Shadow Broker is most memorable is its fun and amiable relationship created between its protagonist and Liara. The two joke and banter like old friends, and it feels incredibly genuine. It's also really funny.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for your squadmates. Although Bioware makes sure to add in a cool feature that allows them to further flesh out your battle hardened team, your squad will once again remain completely silent for this mission. While understandable due to budget constraints, it's still a frustrating experience.

+Exciting Main Plot
+Dozens of memorable moments
+Great Characters
+Great Comic Relief
-Silent Squadmates

Score: 38/40

Story is the only aspect that makes Lair of the Shadow Broker such a success. The expansion delivers everything the fans have come to love with the addition of a new temporary squadmate, new game feature, smarter AI, and interesting combat locales.

While she does not remain with your party permanently, Liara makes an interesting and welcome addition to your team. Her biotics powers are unique, and allow for some combat. Liara's addition to the game also comes with a revistable location that will updated with upcoming expansions.

The enemies are also more intelligent. They can now throw flash-bang grenades and employ clever flanking tactis, all adding to the experience. Add on some of the most original locations in the history of the series and you have some really memorable combat sequences.

Easily the most drastic edition to the game, the high speed car chase may be the clunkiest edition as well. While its exciting and a fun change, the controls for the vehicle are stiff and confusing. Luckily, this experience is so short that you are ultimately left with a cool experience without the frustration.

+All that made Mass Effect 2 good
+Smarter enemies
+Memorable Locales
+/- Chase Sequence

Score: 38.5/40


Mass Effect has always been a stunningly beautiful game, and Lair of the Shadow Broker continues this to great degree. With great new locales that look jaw-droppingly good, and increasingly complex character animations Lair of the Shadow Broker looks better then ever.

While you may encounter the occasional awkwardly animated scene, there is little negative to be found.

+Character Animations


Mass Effect 2 has perhaps some of the best sound ever in a video game. From expertly crafted sound effects, genuine voice acting, and a powerful score, the game is an absolute aural treat. Lair of the Shadow Broker is no different.

The same expert voice acting returns, along with Jack Wall's score. The music itself is perhaps even more spectacular this time around. Jack Wall pens new themes for the Shadow Broker and his team, while incorporating themes from the first Mass Effect to accompany Liara.

+Voice Acting
+Sound Effects

Score 10/10
Definitely the best edition to the Mass Effect franchise in months, this expansion is necessary for any fan of the series.

Aggregate/Overall Score: 96

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