February 29, 2008

"No More Heroes" Wii Review (5/5... again) -Thaddeus

Finally, there is a game for those of us who've always dreamed of lightsaber-slashing our way through hordes of nameless thugs that shriek weirdly as they explode in a shower of blood and coins.

That game, dear readers, is "No More Heroes."

"No More Heroes" is a schizophrenic, punk-rock fuelled fever dream available for popular consumption on Nintendo's Wii. If you happen to be blessed with said system, and don't mind excessive amounts of gore, obscenity and madness, you should purchase it immediately.

Not rent -- BUY!

When a game this entertaining and fearlessly original is released into the wild, it is the civic duty of gamers the world over to shell out the cash for ownership. A message must be sent to the faceless cretins atop the industry, written in the only language they deem worthy of reading: ten-foot-tall stacks of cash-money. And lo, it shall be read: "Make more games like this!"

The player is dropped into the life of Travis Touchdown, a shiftless Japanophile who accidentally became the 11th ranked assassin in America after getting drunk one evening and allowing a mysterious woman to talk him into it. His weapon of choice? The beam katana he won in an online auction.

That is the setup.

It is briefly touched in the opening minute, as you are hurled toward the first level. From then on, it's your job to cut a swath through whatever stands in your way. It's the modern, anarchistic answer to "River City Ransom," clutching that classic, chaotic charm in hands stained with the blood of post-modern cynicism.

And it's hard. Damn hard.

You spend long tracks of time filling your pockets with cash harvested from kooky part-time jobs or small scale assassinations, only to slam head-first into the wall of a Ranked Assassin Boss-Fight. Rage boils up and you find yourself squeezing the controller, frothing at the mouth and setting a new standard for swear-chains.

And when you finally crush the cheap bastards, the victory is all the sweeter.

There could be more to do in the interim between missions, but it hardly detracts from the overall experience.

I know that I've been throwing out high ratings like they're on sale at Big Lots but, to be fair, we don't spend too much time involving ourselves with crap-media around here.

That being said, I give "No More Heroes" a 5 out of 5.

I consider it a must-play, up there with "Portal" and "Shadow of the Colossus." It’s a signpost along the road of this still-young media -- marking not where it must go, but where it mustn’t be afraid to.

Strange and wonderful.

-Thad out.

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February 12, 2008

Allow myself to introduce... myself -Richard

You know, I never introduced myself.

Last week, Sherman told us a little about himself and what makes a good movie to him. Maybe I should do the same.

I can't tell you my earliest movie memory, or when I KNEW that I loved them. Hell, I don't know that I could tell you much about the movie "D.A.R.Y.L." other than I loved it as a kid (We all have guilty pleasures). What I can tell you is that I love stories.

Beautiful shots are wonderful and a soundtrack can really add to a movie, but it is mostly fluff to me. Now don't get me wrong, they are a HUGE part of the process, I just don't linger on them like Jeremiah does. No, my favorite part is the characters.

My favorite movies feature great characters, as do my favorite books, comics, games and television shows. I would much rather see a character grow than a panning shot of the landscape. But take what I am saying with a grain of salt; truly great stories need both.

Take Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series. King takes you to the land of Midworld. You can see the lifeless plains in "The Gunslinger" and the desolate beaches of "The Drawing of the Three". Yet you can also imagine Roland's face and the jacket that him nemesis Randall Flag wears. And you see Roland and his Ka-Tet grow. I weeped like Dick Vermeil after a kickoff return when a character died or left the group, and I did this because I knew them, I felt close to them and I felt for them.

My favorite movie of all time is not a prefect film. I would not even give it 5 stars; maybe 4 1/2 but never 5. That is "Princess Mononoke." Very rarely does an animated film show emotion like Mononoke does. Hayao Miyazaki creates a world of strife and war, of Gods and demons against mortals. But he also creates a world filled with multi-dimensional characters. I love this film because of that, and when the end credits rolled the first time I watched it, I could not help but release the emotion that movie built up inside me. I didn't cry because it was sad, or because I was happy. I cried because I was told a story that will forever be etched into my brain and I knew I could never experience the mystery of it again. I will always be waiting for the camera to zoom up and the flowers to bloom over Iron Town.

Enough of this whiny bullshit though, a new review comes out Wednesday.
See you then,


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February 06, 2008

Celluloid Memories: An essay on movies -Jeremiah

I can remember the first scene of a movie I saw in theaters, the very first one. Is that weird? My earliest celluloid memory, you could call it. It's a close up of a pair of hands emptying a case of shotgun cartridges into the palm of their hands and then loading the shotgun. It took me years to find that scene; I found it about 10 years ago. It's from Disney's "The Fox and the Hound".

You're probably wondering why I'm telling you this, and you'd be right to think the thought. I'm telling you this to demonstrate to you how much I love movies. I love them. They invade my thoughts and dreams. In fact you could say my life is watermarked by these "celluloid memories". I remember things by the movie I was watching, on my way to watch, or talking about. Like some people need to breathe, I need movies.

Hi, my name is Jeremiah Sherman, one part of the Three Geek Review group. This is basically my way of introducing myself to you. For those of you who do not want to get too personal and just wish to read my reviews, I say: how can you? Movies are personal. They are, by their very nature, an art form. To put a finer point on it, a subjective art form.

There are very few movies that are factually good. There are movies that are considered by a vast majority to be great, but even those have dissenters. To know a reviewer is to understand how they come at movies.

What I love about movies is the fact that they perpetuate understanding. When you talk about what movie you saw with a friend or co-worker, you are trying to make yourself understood or, if both of you have seen the same movie and are at an impasse, trying to reach an understanding with each other.

When you tell someone your favorite movie, or your favorite actor/actress, you have given up a piece of yourself to be understood intrinsically. Too deep? Am I overreaching, do you think? It's how I am. To me movies can be philosophical, as can the discussion of movies, even so far as what you are saying about yourself or a belief you have.

Have you got the point yet? I love movies. Where the love started or where it came from, I can not say for sure. Maybe it came from the Disney Channel, who used to play old Disney movies all those years ago. Maybe it came from my mother dropping me off at Noland Fashion Square Theater for the afternoon, while she cleaned houses. Possibly it came from us not being rich and if we couldn't afford camping, bowling, we could usually afford the dollar show in Independence Square. The fact that my father used to take me to movies when I spent the weekend with him, might have had something to do with it. Who knows? All I know, is that of all the people who took me to the movies, none of them enjoyed it as much as I did.

You could ask, why I love movies so much? I wish I had a ten word answer, but I don't. I love watching those larger than life images flick across the screen at 24 frames per second. I love gasping, crying, laughing, screaming, or applauding with a group of my friends. For me, a good movie -- I mean a great movie -- is akin to a religious experience.

A movie theater to me is much like a church. I hold it in the same reverence as a church goer holds a cathedral. I love sitting in the blackness and letting the film envelop me. I love the communal sharing of a cinematic experience. I don't mind going alone, I've gone solo often times, but it never holds a candle to when I go with friends.

I love how some directors will push the camera so close to an actors or actresses face as to allow me to study them. I love being manipulated by a musical score. I love watching a camera zoom in or out. What can I say? The Cinema and I are in it for the long haul. 'Til Death To Us Part. I hope to have many more "celluloid memories", and I hope you will let me share them with you.

Yours Until Hell Freezes Over,


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February 04, 2008

"Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations" Nintendo DS Review (3/5) -Richard

For the past few weeks, whenever I had a minute of free time, my DS has been in my hands and I have been playing through the third game in the "Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney" series.

For those of you not familiar with the games, you play a young defense lawyer named Phoenix Wright. A man hell bent on uncovering the truth. The game takes place in "America" a land that only the Japanese could conceive. Actually this is a lie. It is painfully obvious from the characters, geography and legal system that Capcom just replaced the name "Japan" with "USA" and made a few changes to names and currency.

The legal system in the Phoenix Wright games is warped to say the least. There is no such thing as juries, "innocent until proven guilty," reasonable doubt, or even bail. The beginning of most cases start with a vague cut scene featuring the victim, the accused, and usually a shadowy figure in the background. This shadowy figure be presented as the prosecution's "star witness" near the end of the trial, and will almost always be the real killer. That being said, the games are immensely enjoyable and can be enjoyed by gamers and non-gamers of all ages.

"Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations" is not a new concept at this point. The series has been around since late 2005 stateside on the DS, and since 2001 on the Game Boy Advance. At this point playing a Phoenix Wright game is like slipping into an old pair of jeans or some old tennis shoes. You have been around the series long enough to be comfortable with it.

Most of the stock cast returns for at least a case. Phoenix is still the main character, he still has to deal with former rival Miles Edgeworth and prosecuting prodigy Franziska Von Karma. Spirit medium and assistant Maya Fey and her younger cousin Pearl are still tagging around helping/annoying him. The late Mia Fey still pops up in the form of a channeled spirit to help him at trail every once in a while. Even some of the old witnesses and clients make a return in the form of Larry Butz, Adrian Andrews and Maggey Byrde. Newcomers include the masked prosecutor "Godot" and reoccurring villain Dahlia Hawthorn who try and make Phoenix's life a living hell any chance they get.

There are two parts to the gameplay and both are pretty straightforward. When not in court, Phoenix is collecting evidence and talking to witnesses. This part is reminiscent of the old NES game "Deja Vu" and involves scanning the screen and reading about anything that sticks out and then questioning the witnesses about these things. Sometimes this is as simple as finding a scrap of paper at their feet, other times it requires you to look inside of a bookshelf and then take something Phoenix found across town. The biggest problem here is that you only get a few options of where to go at each screen, so getting across town means that you have to wait for 3 or 4 loading screens just to get there. Luckily this is a cartridge game and the load times are fast.

The other part of the game, the trials, tend to have more flaws. The trial starts with a little banter between Phoenix and whoever he is facing in the prosecutor's seat. The judge will say something inept and the first witness will be called. After a witness testimony Phoenix gets to "Cross Examine" the witness while involves either pressing the testimony for clarity or presenting a piece of evidence that contradicts the testimony. the problem here is that you have a limited number of mistakes you can make; this is represented by a life bar. Pressing a witness generally does not cause a penalty, and when it does it is made very clear by the judge that there will be consequences.

The problem here is that the contradictions will either be painfully obvious (i.e. a witness calling something red when it is blue or talking about a piece of evidence that was destroyed before they should have seen it) or so random and obscure that you either have to look at a guide or sit around presenting every little thing at every statement.

Other flaws include the forgettable music and the fact that the game has zero replay value. It's like the board game "Crack the Case." Once you know the answer to the question, the mystery of it is gone. Everything in the game is on a preset script, making no variation. And the joy of the game is finding things out.

That being said the story is fun and the characters are great for a laugh. Most people are going to clock at least 20 hours playing the game, and with the price of DS games, it is worth the $29.95 you are going to pay for it.

Overall I would give the game a 3/5. If you enjoy puzzle games with witty dialog and entertaining storylines I would strongly advise a playthrough.


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Site News: A new medium of Entertainment is reviewed

We here at Three Geek Review love movies, but there are other avenues of entertainment that we love as well. Movies, books, music, even video games are things that one or all of us love.

Because movies are so easily accessible and fast, we tend to dwell on them. You can watch a movie in about 2 hours usually. An album you can listen to in about 45 minutes. Books and video games take a little longer. All of us read, but only Thad and I are "gamers." So if you are looking forward to the game reviews; be patient. We are but 2, and a video game takes a hell of a lot longer to play through than a night at the movies.

This week we will be reviewing 2 video games. Thad will be telling us about Grasshopper Manufacture's "No More Heroes" for the Wii later this week and I will be posting a review of Capcom's "Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations" for the Nintendo DS later today. (Monday, February 4th, 2008)

Don't worry, we are still going to be telling you all about movies and the like, we just like to branch off every now and again.

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February 01, 2008

"Thank You for Smoking" DVD Review (5/5) -Richard

Some movies make you squeamish, others make you laugh or cry, "Thank You for Smoking" makes you think.

At least it did for me. It had me thinking for hours. Big Tobacco is the enemy right? What about an overprotective government that wants to warn the public about the obvious or legislate prohibition? In the end everyone has their faults, flaws, shortcomings, honor and brilliance in Jason Reitman's adaptation of Christopher Buckley's "Thank You for Smoking."

Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) is not a spin man, he is THE spin man, and his employer is "Big Tobacco." From the first five minutes you understand how good the man is. Turning the tragedy of a young teen with cancer, telling his tale on national television, into a win for his side and entirely humiliating a congressional aide (Todd Louiso) in the process.

Even the name "Nick Naylor" is powerful. There is a raw masculinity to it. The alliteration helps to punch the 'Nail her" in his last name. This is a character that men wish they were and women openly or secretly lust after. He is all that is man. Still, he is the Vice President of Tobacco Studies and the public face of tobacco, which makes him a generally hated man.

His boss, B.R. (J.K. Simmons), is jealous. He has Senator Ortolan Finistirre (William H. Macy) trying to do everything in his power to blame him for smoking deaths, the original Marlboro Man (Sam Elliot) is pissed that he is dying of cancer, Naylor's ex-wife and her boyfriend think that he is a bad influence, and the sexy reporter Heather Holloway (Katie Holmes) is trying to break a story on the tobacco industry.

The only real friends he has are Bobby Jay Bliss (David Koechner), the face of S.A.F.T.Y. (Firearms); Polly Baily (Maria Bello) of the Moderation Council (Alcohol); "Captian" (Robert Duvall), the last true giant of Tobacco; and his son Joey (Cameron Bright).

I am hard-pressed to find a bad performance in this movie. Simmons, Elliot, Macy and Duvall bring the film credence with their names and amazing talent; Holmes, Koechner and Bello were the fresh faces or lesser known actors that proved themselves. Rob Lowe, playing the Hollywood mega-agent Jeff Megall put in a great performance that was reminiscent of his character Sam on "The West Wing" with added confidence. Even young Cameron Bright did an amazing job as Joey Naylor. All that aside the real stand out performance came from Aaron Eckhart.

Jeff's Assistant in the movie explains that "Before Jeff, Matthew McConaughey was just a face. Now he is a name." That statement rings true for Eckhart in this film. This was his breakaway roll. Usually when you see a movie you can say, "(Person) was great in that, but what if the character were played by Deniro/Sean Connery/Batman." I could not say that coming away from this film. Eckhart nailed it. To me, he was Nick Naylor. And it was the first time I started saying, "Let's see THIS movie, I heard it has Aaron Eckhart," as opposed to being in the middle of it and going, "Hey, THAT GUY! What else has he been in?"

Another breakaway performance came from director Jason Reitman. This was his first feature film, and for someone's first film to be on my top 10 movie list of all time says something. His shots are inspiring, the music choice is superb and he demands the best from his performs. Even one as young as Cameron Bright. Don't get me wrong, Bright is a great childhood actor and I have seen him in some wonderful movies. I have also seen some pretty terrible ones as well, and getting a kid to put in a great performance I feel is a mark of a great director.

Overall this is one of my favorite movies. It is smart, political and funny while still being entertaining to mass audiences and not coming off as pretentious.


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