Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hanna Movie Review

We are introduced to Hanna’s killer instinct in the very first scene of the film. In the cold wilderness of Finland our protagonist played by the Irish actress Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, Lovely Bones) displays a stern portrayal of a child-killer. She tracks her prey, with a bow and arrow she kills the beast and begins to skin it. In her moment of distraction, she is attacked by Eric Heller played by Eric Bana (Troy, Munich). We learn the attack is actually a training session for the young assassin.

The lesson is to adapt or die.

Hanna is not your ordinary child growing up in Finland. She is in fact part of a pet project of secretive CIA agent in a plot of creating the next super soldier. The agent, Marissa Weigler, is played by Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth, Lord of the Rings Trilogy) who betrayed Eric Heller and left him for dead. As the scenes in Finland progress, Hanna is curious of the outside world, especially the sound of music and for her to leave the nest she must be prepared to hunt as a hawk.

There is two sides to our little Hanna. While on her mission to kill Weigler, the first attempt was a success but on a body-double yet, Hanna ventures out to Berlin to meet her father. It is in these moments -- her interaction with the modern world of television, electricity and boys -- she is the most vulnerable.

Her inner child or our human nature tells us she is still a child. The concept of human nature and innocence of a child is explored in the many scenes following the first part of the film. Hanna’s time in Finland is metaphorically Plato’s cave, and after her departure we the metaphysical nature of good and evil.

In the movie “Hanna” our protagonist has a change of heart when learning of her origin in the Grimm’s house. Again, the dark nature of Grimm’s storybook stories as the backdrop of the final parts of the film is telling. In another violent scene, Heller battles three menacing would be killers at a park-for-families at a Berlin apartment complex.

It is the question presented in the movie “The Boys from Brazil” a child cloned for evil intentions grow up to be evil itself? Are children capable of misguided cruelty? Is it in the child’s nature or part of a grandeur system? It is heavily implied that Hanna acted on her father’s life lesson, “To adapt or die.” Human nature, of course.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

Buitiful movie review

Buitiful is the latest film by the acclaim Mexican director (Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel). Alejandro González Iñarritu latest exposition of life and death roars by the great performance of the lead actor Javier Bardem. He plays as a single father of two children living in the poor area of the Catalan city of Barcelona.

We meet our melancholy protagonist Uxbal caught in the underbelly of the dark side of Barcelona.

Uxbal is flawed. He is a loving father who keeps his family afloat from his bipolar wife. He makes ends meet by brokering deals with the police by letting undocumented African peddlers sell their goods on the streets of modern Barcelona. Furthermore, he is also the go between the Africans and the manufracturing Chinese.

Uxbal's family is in disarray. His older brother agree to terms in selling of his father's burial spot. An immigrant himself, his father left Spain to Mexico in search of work only to die from a disease. As never meeting his father, he views his father's corpse only to learn that his father die without any regrets. Uxbal's spirituality as he guides past souls to the other world plays out in an early scene. Three school age children are in a terrible accident. The father of one asks Uxbal to speak to his son or to find out if he pass to the other world. For others, Uxbal is fake preying on greiving families only having the truth revealed to us, the audience. Uxbal's older brother is far the father figure one could want or had.

The fantastical part of the story is portrayed as humanly as possible through the spiritual eyes of Uxbal. It is not grim nor utopian, but flawed like the speeling of it's title Buitiful.

Each scene is comparable to a poetic line. Reavealing little by little the poem the love and guilt of our doomed protagonist. Early on the film we learn of Uxbal's fate. Diagnose with cancer and only having a few months to live is just the begining of sympathetic interaction with the acting of Bardem. He draws us in. He hides his money in a pair of soccer socks of his club, Espanyol. As brief as the scene plays out the attention to detail is grand. Espanyol is foreever the little brother to the giant Barcelona club the more flamboyant team. Uxbal and his older brother play into the similar role.

Uxbal is foreever the flawed underdog.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Mexican state legislature moves to ban barely announced video game

Mexico state congress asks ban of video game

On Sunday, Mexican state legislators of Chihuahua unanimously past a request to the federal Interior Department to ban the game. The announcement is not a sursprising one: Call of Juarez The Cartel is seen as a controversial game by The Escapist, El Paso Times and the El Paso Police Chief.

While others, do not feel the game merits any controversy, in fact, others forms of entertainment media have dealt with the border war violence.

Officials speaking to the Wasington Post are not so pleased, state congressman Ricardo Boone Salmon said, "we should not expose children to this kind of scenarios so that they are going to grow up with this kind of image and lack of values."

Ubisoft's video game is barely new to gamers with a scatter of screenshots teased on their promotional website, is it too early to jump on the banning-bandwagon?
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Call of Juarez: Cartel controversy

THQ's open-world western series takes the drama of the 1800s to the modernized world of Mexican drug cartels. Numerous websites balked on the idea of basing a game on a perhaps too relevant the Mexican drug cartels. But the issue of playing as an organized crime member is not unique to gamers as other video game titles, Scarface, Mafia, and the Godfather dealt with modern day organized crime.

As with the controversy with EA's Medal of Honor portrayal of the War in Afghanistan is it synomous with the even closer drug cartel wars of Mexico? Should video game creators shy away from the violence when other mediums dabble in? Music, movies and literature do not shy away from the violence in Mexico, with each medium having multiple expositions on the subject. Would a video game trivialized the events when blood is spilt each day be insensitive for consumers?

In Mexican music, the rise and fall of narcorridos (think of a modern day Johnny Cash) is an example of mainstream consumers to be accepting of. In later years, mainstream audiences have rejected it, while radio stations adhering to a self-ban of narcorridos as the bloodshed grew. While the demand of narcorridos may have dropped the songs still remain hugely popular with young adults.

Movies have been critical on the drug cartels, Steve Soderbergh's Traffic stands above the rest, as it portrayed the level of violence and corruption Mexico faces. Certain characters in Traffic are straight from the headlines while the Roberto Rodriguez films, El Mariachi, Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico and the lowbrow Machete all have dealt with cartels and their violence. Perhaps, THQ greenlit the project based on the popularity of Machete.

In regards to literature, Roberto Bolaño's cryptic 2666 deals with the horrors of 21st century. The multiple murders of woman or femicides commited in the city of Juarez still remain unsolved and were part of the plot of Hollywood movies starring Jennifer Lopez and Antonio Banderas.

Does the video game publisher THQ and developer Technoland have no right to take on the subject? The answer becomes diffcult to answer as the cartel violence continues and as the Mexican government struggles to bring the war to an end. If the uproar of a video game in 2011 is a big deal, why no uproar in 2010 when Machete came out?
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Minorities are rarely featured video game characters

A year ago I wrote tongue in cheek list on black secondary video game characters who deserve their own game. The list got a lot of traction on the net, especially when kotaku posted the article in a their weekly Top Lists post.

A year later minorities are rarely featured in video games. A shake really, but understandable when games are tailored two the same cultural audience that movies, and television cater to.

Are there any solutions? Not really, unless the customers demand more diversity in video games.
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

El Crítico

The issue with critical game reviews, is the approach of attaching a numerical rating, because with the passing of time the game itself changes, and our contemporary critique becomes detached.     

 How does a videogame itself change over time?   Let take for example the Mario series, started out as 2-D sprite, side scrolling platformer with its' contemporary being a 3-d adventure played on a sphere.  Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy are two great games, based on a 3-D engine that scored roughly the same, with Edge Magazine giving a 10/10 and Gamespot placing a 9.4 and 9.5, respectively, scores.  If I were to replay Super Mario 64, I would recognize the charm, and the great joy that I experience in September 1996.  I fearfully cringe at the though of missing Super Mario 64, only to return to it in 2009, coming away from the experience as being a stepping stone or an innovator for 3-D platformers.  

 Both games are very similar in nature, 3-D, Mario controls the same, ice levels are slippery and boo shy ghosts chase when not seen.  These two games are, undoubtedly, favorites of gamers, but they are unfinished, as to say, another Mario will build upon the familiar and loved gameplay themes.  We are playing unfinished copies of our favorite games.  If the reader agrees, then placing a numerical value to a critique is pointlesss.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dead Space 2 Ad Campaign of Fisting Mothers

During the holiday season of 2008, when Dead Space came from a small unnamed studio buried in the swamp of Redwood Shores -- creators of the EA published Simpsons and Godfather games -- was one of those titles without a small ad campaign but reviewed very well in the video-game media.

With Dead Space 2 a week away of hitting store shelves statewide, the ad campaign debuted during the NFL divisional round playoff games. The ad campaign,, has the social media networks and video-game blogs crying foul over the concept. Their point is simple, violent video games should not be marketed to kids (likes alcohol and tobacco).

The concept is a tongue in cheek riff of the popular Will Smith song “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and apparently, neither do vocal Internet gamers. If you have not seen the commercial, please do so now here. Do we ever see the game marketed specifically for anyone under the age of 18? Never.

Funny, right?

Well Isaac thinks so

Video-game podcasts were calling Dead Space 2008’s Bioshock, and as one does with praise, I picked up the title with no hesitation. As to find out, right before Christmas dinner, my mom hated Dead Space and she let me know it. In the early evening and before everyone had arrived, I was playing as Isaac Clarke; gunning, running and stomping necromorphs.

My mother, who once chided me for playing as the Middle Eastern faction in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare multiplayer -- because to her killing Americans for sport is a sin -- was again genuinely upset by Dead Space’s concept.

Limb by limb

Besides the modeled necromorphs, which apparently were design after hours of researching photographs of car crash victims, my mother complained of the terrible sound. The noise, the loud swoosh that sounded like two subway rail cars passing each other at top speed to the heavy breathing of Issac Clarke in his suit.

After the holidays, with mom at home, I proceeded to play and complete Issac Clarke’s adventure on the Ishimura, and how I enjoyed the game more than the popular Resident Evil series. As for the Dead Space 2 ads? Reminds me of the time when my mom did not understand.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Jersey Shore Season 3 Episode 2 Of I'll Pound You

As the viewers have grown accustom to
, fights within the Jersey Shore cast are regular as fist pumping. In episode 2, we see Jwoww and Sami continue their epic hatred of each other as they fight once more. The cast heads off to Karma, there familiar hunting grounds and two of the boys are caught in unfamiliar territory. Rides on the boardwalk become awkward with the pouting of a young child and the cast begins their careers of t-shirt sales.

The camera fades away from the violence only to show cast reactions to a girl fight that is quickly broken up by security as Mike sends his one-night-stands home. The season seems to be headed of a Sami and Ronnie break up with the other cast getting into drunken trysts and a lot of fist pumping in Seashore, New Jersey.

Ronnie and Sami know they are the troublemakers, as Sunday church is on their radar as they take one of the two cars. This completely ruins Mike's plans, not sure how, but he says it does. We see the guidos go to the gym, tan and shop for Sunday dinner. Deena cooks, everyone seems to survive Sunday dinner.

And as Vinny raps his one-hit single "T-Shirt Time" he begins to attracts the stalkers. And neck-suckers, three kissing blondes, and a girl who is DTF. The proverb of the night, is no better said by Mike the Situation, with Vinny locking him out of a potential threesum, "sharing is for caring." We all wish Mike.

Pauli, rather falls into a background like Justin Beiber dancer, never to be seen or heard again. Oh wait, he cracks a few jokes here and there. As he says, "Come home missing Sunday dinner with a big banana and expect everything to be peaches" to a standoffish Sami.

With Jenni, we begin to see issues with her long time boyfriend, Tom, who gets upset over a forgotten anniversary. Does he not know, his honey is getting paid to hang out and sell shirts in Seaside? Give her a break.

Deena and Snooki, like Starsky and Hutch, are two peas in a pod or two meatballs of fun. They are each other's Robin without a Batman. Deena quote of the night, " I am down for the get down." Yes babe, we know you are a walking holiday.

The show ends with, surprise, Sami and Ronnie still fighting over the events of season 2. When will these two kids ever learn...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Goal of the year and possibly the decade

Naples and Uruguayan striker Edison Cavani possibly scores the goal of the year.

The video replays the goal over and over and each time I finger it more incredible with each view.
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