Cowboys & Aliens

“Cowboys & Aliens’: the combination sounds strange but titillating – a bit like Budweiser & tequila, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, or LSD and ketamine.

But the mix is disappointing: instead of being immersed into an exciting fusion of two classic genres you will simply see clichés being doubled.

In the first half director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”) manages to squeeze at least a little bit of fun out of the grape; the title music seems to have been written by Ennio Morricone’s clone, the saloon doors flap just like in the old days, Daniel Craig listens to the clicking of his pistol while squeezing his eyes like Eli Wallach did in The Good, the Bad and The Ugly “, Keith Carradine – always great to see him again – plays the sheriff and our blast from the past Harrison Ford who gets to hoist his 68 years old bones in a saddle once again,  plays a rock-hard former army colonel who’s main occupation is terrorizing a little – scraped off by the prairie winds – town.

All very successful:  one would almost wish that the aliens had just stayed away because we have to admit that I grew fond of the wonderful and immersive Far West atmosphere. But no, just when it all seems perfect those darnful aliens start to drop from the sky and with the next blink of your eyes you’ll see Craig and Ford running, like as if being chased by the IRS from one explosion to the next cactus.

When the last scene faded away and the credits started rolling we realized that “Cowboys & Aliens” symptomatic produces all the mishap of what a clever American journalist labeled the “buy now / write later syndrome”: producer Scott Mitchell Rosenberg sold the concept to the film studios before even one scene had been shot, then an army of screenwriters was instructed to – without much success –  invent a decent story.

On the bright side (yes there’s one) it’s a good thing that “Cowboys & Aliens” never became the big success they were hoping for in the US or otherwise in no time we would have gotten a shipload of spin-offs over us. Imagine: Knights & Aliens’ or ‘Dwarfs & Aliens “or” Cowboys & Dwarfs’ . The horror!

Watch the trailer below and feel free to comment.

/wi11em

Why Movies Based On Video Games Are So Bad

By now, it’s common knowledge that (most) movies that are based on video games are, to say it nicely, not so good. A few examples would be Tomb Raider, Max Payne, Doom or Prince of Persia. Ok, not all of those are terrible, but they weren’t very good either to us gamers. Even though people outside of the gaming community saw some merit in it. The image to the right displays a couple of the review scores that movies based on video games got. Suffice to say that none of those are actually anywhere near other films such as The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile or The Dark Knight.

But why exactly are they not as good as other movies that are based on books or real life? Well, for a couple of reasons actually.

50% is good for a movie based on video games ...

First of all, the producers are often so focused on making money that they forget to make the flick a real memorable one. Most of the budget that gets spent actually goes to advertisement rather than actual production of the movie.

Secondly, video games aren’t good material to make into a movie. Most genres of video games have certain characteristics that make it very hard to pour into a movie format. For example, platformers tend to not have enough plot within the games themselves, so the writers need to improvise. The average First-Person Shooter has a few minutes of narrative cinematics, but even the more cerebral examples of the genre will, by definition, feature hours of plot-free gunplay to rival the dumbest Summer Blockbuster. Fighting Games tend to have a similarly flimsy plot with Multiple Endings depending on the player’s character, and the writers have to mishmash these various plot threads into a coherent whole.

The only video game genres that pay much attention to plot — RPGs and Adventure Games — tend to have far too much plot to squeeze into a two-hour flick without leaving a ton out. Casey Hudson from BioWare recently mentioned that Hollywood was interested in making a movie out of their sci-fi epic Mass Effect. The only problem? Mass Effect is a 40-hour game. Open-ended RPGs allow us to explore worlds, to screw around, to do optional tasks that have nothing to do with the main storyline. It’s what makes those games so immersive and enjoyable. But replicating that immersiveness on-screen in any sort of short order is downright impossible. Could you tell Mass Effect’s story in two hours? Sure, but doing so strips the game of its strengths and leaves you, well, unsatisfied. Which is about par for the course for video game movies. Not to mention all the choices you get to make as Commander Shephard, would the Shepard in the movie be a good guy, a bad guy or somewhere in between?

Next to that, watching a movie based on a video game after actually playing the game is like watching someone else play. When it comes to pure action and excitement, video games are surpassing movies as the medium du jour. Why bother paying 10 dollars to see Jason Statham beat up dudes for a few minutes when you can spend ten times as long beating up the thugs yourself? You see, while a video game can do this and entertain for hours, non-stop action movies can get incredibly tedious (Shoot ‘Em Up) because you’re only watching someone else. Video game movies therefore typically end up either dull, action-devoid adaptations, or boring, action-packed fluff like Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Either way, you’re better off playing the game.

Thirdly, and this is more or less a result of the fact that video games aren’t very good material to convert to a good movie. The protagonists of video games often have their very own typical behaviour style, clothing, accent and character development throughout a game, which is strengthened further by the player’s imagination, experiences and values. This in fact is extremely hard for any actor to portray. Clothing and accent can be done of course, but the movie will often lack the character development and the sense of recognition we gamers get when playing the game. The most prominent example I have of this would be Max Payne. The Max Payne in the game is a deeply cynical, sad but also highly determined man with a gloomy past following him around like a shadow. Mark Wahlberg tried his best to portray all this, but in the end he just came off as a weak derivative of our dearest of all our friends, Max Payne (see what I did there?!).

In my opinion, producers should really stick to CGI so they can keep the character (and voice actor) and do away with weak real life substitutes (ahem, Dragonball Evolution).

Now, before I come off as too demanding there really are some movies that are based on video games that I liked. For example, I really liked Hitman, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and the first Resident Evil. The movie industry isn’t going to give a video game based movie an oscar any time soon, but there might be some hope for us left … maybe Peter Jackson will finally get his Halo movie going (even though I doubt it), maybe we’ll see a World Of Warcraft movie (it better be CGI or really good special effects), a possible Assassin’s Creed movie and last but not least there might be an upcoming Uncharted movie.

Also, BioWare and Blizzard should totally go into the movie business.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Let me know what you think about video game based movies or tell me why you think this or that movie was good/bad.

/Gamecultist

100 Greatest Movie Badasses

Hey guys, thought I’d share a little video I found. The 100 Greatest Movie Badasses Of All Time. I do, however, have a few remarks to make before you watch the video.

First of all, the F word is extremely popular in this video. Secondly, this list isn’t complete or even representative to my own experiences. For instance, there is no Darth Vader (unless I missed it) and Steven Seagal is at the top with a pretty week one-liner.

Anyway, enjoy the video and scroll down for a complete list of all the movies referenced in the video.

And here’s the list:

100 Greatest Movie Badasses

/Niels

Stages Of Movie Geek Evolution

Hey there guys, this is just a small post in between the work on my thesis and traineeship during the day. I came across this ‘infographic’ on another website that gave me a giggle or two. You should really read this if you’re into movies at all. Basically, you can use this as a test to see in which stage of evolution you belong. After looking at it myself I realise I’m a pretty lightweight movie fanatic, who knew … I’m a Sundancicus Robustus with a bit of leftover Blockbustericus. Anyway, enough talk … enjoy!

Six Stages Of Movie Geeks

/Niels

Papercraft – The Newest Level of Geekiness

I’m sure you’ve heard of the latest ‘fashion’ in the geek-o-sphere. Papercraft, the art of making just about anything out of paper. I’ve known about it for quite a while but I only recently got more interested in it and I’m considering giving it a try and see how it works out.

When I say papercraft I literally mean anything you can think of made out of paper. Just about anything popular in the video game, movie, comic or anime world has been made out of paper. Models I’ve seen range from Star Wars, comic characters, life-size Master Chiefs, Yamaha bikes and small cube-shaped characters from various themes.

What’s even more is that you don’t require a lot of material to start papercrafting yourself. You just need a hobby knife, glue, paper (Duh) and opposable thumbs.

I decided to share some of the most impressive designs that I’ve come across. I’d seriously pay good money to own one of these. I think making one will prove quite difficult for a novice like me! Anyway, enjoy the selection I’ve made and have a look around on the internet if I spiked your interest.

First of all, these come from a website called Cubeecraft. These are papercraft models made up of cube shapes, as the name suggests. There are quite a lot of designs on the website, and easy to build.

Leonard H. "Bones" McCoyGordon FreemanAstro BoyWolverineMarcus FenixHellboy

Next up is an awesome life-size Link.

The next picture is from the Star Wars Universe. I wonder if these could be made life-sized

Always wanted Goku in your room? Well, here’s your chance!

I think I’ll stop here. Let it be clear that these models are for advanced papercrafters. I’d suggest starting out with the ones from Cubeecraft. If you’re looking for more papercraft models and downloads check out the link below.

This website has some awesome models. It sort of serves as a collection of various papercraft websites and blog around the internet, just have a look around for yourself. Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to go find out if I’m up to the challenge of making one of these awesome models.

/Niels

Sucker Punch – A waste of your money?

Five young, beautiful and strong women who are not afraid of dragons, soldiers and monsters, who can handle weapons and find the time to found a sisterhood, fight together in one movie for freedom and justice. A movie with a clear, dark visual feel, where sexy gets mixed with tough, with popular music during cool action scenes.

It sounds fantastic, too good to be true even. And that’s exactly what it is. Even with all the good intentions in the world, director Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300) fails to make this movie in one of the best flicks of the year. Sucker Punch is best described as a failure really.

The story
Babydoll (Emily Browning) is dropped off at the mental institute. To escape the hard, cold reality she creates a fantasy world where her new friends play an important role. Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish)is the careful motherly type, and the older sister of the reckless Rocket (Jena Malone), who also brings along Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung). Together they fight for freedom, against unimaginable foes and barriers raised by Blue (Oscar Isaac) and the High Roller (Jon Hamm)
  
Remarkable vision?

That Sucker Punch would be a fantasy action flick, aimed to please, fun and men was clear from the moment you watched the trailer. It also became very clear that Snyder had a clear vision about colour use, camera point of view and the soundtrack.

Visuals and audio are a positive point in the movie. The way rock songs are used to reinforce the actions scenes is absolutely brilliant and special effects are pretty good.

Snyder can’t hide that he has been inspired by video games, and while watching the movie you sometimes had the impression that you’re in one. And that is the reason why Snyder gets away with the incredibility and absurdness of this movie.
Total abscence of vision
 
There is no escape from the painful lack of coherence and logic in this movie. The storyline looks like it’s stitched together by a blind man with his feet and even the good action scenes lose credibility. Sometimes things get handed to you with no further reference (the dance scene), while the events follow each other in a fast pace in other scenes. Dialogue is almost absent, and even if something is said it’s just full of clichés.
  
The female warriors barely have any clothers on and fight in high heels and hotpants. This to a degree that even anti-feminists start asking themselves questions. Babydoll looks in the camera as if constipated while her blonde hair waves softly in the wind with extra focus on her lips. And I’m not even exaggerating …
Conclusion
 
Even if you don’t expect a lot of Sucker Punch you’ll still exit the cinema with the feeling that you just wasted your time and money. Snyder did have to edit a lot of scenes, what might explain the shoddy end product. The public shouldn’t really take this into account as it’s his job to deliver a coherent and logical whole, and he did not succeed in his job.
This might be a good movie if you’re looking for a fancy looking, no-brain flick to watch on those dull sunday afternoons. Or maybe if you really really enjoy the eye-candy …. other than, it’s just not worth it.
Let me know what you thought of Sucker Punch in the comment section below!
/Niels