The Hangover and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Just realised that I've not yet posted (as promised) about new-for-Autumn American shows The Vampire Diaries and Human Target. Sorry. I will get to them soon, but so far the pilots have not inspired me to write paeans to their brilliance. Anyway, meantime I thought I'd do a quick one on a couple of films I've seen recently.

First up - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen In a nutshell, pretty disappointing. I thoroughly enjoyed the first film - great visual effects, plenty of humour and enough development for both human and machine to make you care what happened to these characters whilst still getting plenty of oohs and aahs out of cool shit being blown up/ cars etc morphing into robots. Sadly, with the second instalment in this sure to be long-running franchise, the only thing that got bigger and better is the budget. Sure, there are some pretty spectacular FX on display, and a new set of shiny robots (both Decepticons and Autobots) but it feels longer and somehow flatter.

There are some funny bits - Sam's parents (scene stealers Kevin Dunn and Julie White) are still as fabulously embarrassing as ever, and his mother accidentally getting stoned off a hash brownie when they drop him off at college is damn good, as is the scene where his hapless roommate Leo (Ramone Rodriguez from The Wire) manages to accidentally taser himself. One of the fight sequences, in which Optimus Prime takes on a resurrected Megatron (yep, of course he's back) as well as a few other Decepticons is exciting and engaging.

But much of the second half is just flabby - it takes way too long to get everyone to the Egyptian desert for the final showdown, which in itself never really awes in the way it should. Probably since it goes on way too long. Oh, and look out for the bit when Sam, Mikaela (Megan Fox, hot as ever) and a couple of others are basically teleported into the second Shia LaBoeuf is fine, next minute there's an inexplicably large bandage over one hand (THAT car accident he was in, remember?). Frankly, they could have done a little better in working that into the plot. Then again, the plot is almost non-existent (there's a hidden key called The Matrix which can switch on a hidden machine capable of draining the sun for the robots to use, thus destroying Earth yada yada), serving only to link the action set pieces.

But - if you're a diehard fan, there's probably just enough to entertain you for it to be worth the price of a cinema ticket. Probably. Just a bit of shame that what should have been a brilliant summer blockbuster leaves you - well, me anyway - feeling rather unsatisfied.

Thankfully, the opposite is true for excellent comedy The Hangover.

The premise is straightforward - four guys go to Las Vegas for a stag night. Waking up the next morning, they have no idea what happened the night before. And the groom's missing. Plus the wedding is in 24 hours...

It would be entirely unfair of me to give anything else away, suffice to say it's very, very funny and you should absolutely go and see it. Unless you're underage. Or offended easily. The great thing about this movie is that although there are certain jokes/ bits I didn't find all that hilarious, there are plenty of others I did, meaning that most people will undoubtedly be amused most, if not all of the time. There's only one misjudged moment as far as I'm concerned, and it's the Mike Tyson section which not only doesn't especially work on a comedic level, but also seems to wrap up with a pretty repellant insinuation. You'll see what I mean.

Anyway - that aside, this is hugely enjoyable and boasts some of the best ever end credits I've ever seen - totally in context and a brilliant pay off to what's come before. More than worth the price of a cinema ticket!

Review of "V" - remake of 80s miniseries

I've finally been getting to watch the pilots for a handful of the upcoming American series which will launch in the US later on this year/ early next year and so far, the best of the bunch (I'll come back and report on a few of the others) in my opinion is V, a contemporary update of the classis 80s miniseries of the same name. For those of you not familiar with the original, here's the Wikipedia entry on it, but frankly I think it's probably a whole lot more fun the less you know.

Check out the trailer for the new show here:

Following a brief but intense quake, a number of large spaceships appear all across the planet. After causing an initial disturbance, the beings on board, who refer to themselves as The Visitors, announce to everyone on Earth that they are peaceful, mean no harm and simply require some water in order to get back to their planet. In return for this, they will share their technological advancements with Earth, leaving it better off.

While many people are fascinated by Vs message of hope and peace, encouraged by their ability to heal, undoubted physical attractiveness and headturning spaceship tours, some are sceptical. Key amongst these are FBI agent Erica (Mitchell) and man of the cloth Father Jack Landry (Gretsch), who preaches caution. Even ambitious news anchor Chad Decker, at first delighted to secure an exclusive, career-advancing interview with the stunning V leader Anna begins to distrust them when realising he cannot ask anything which could portray the Vs negatively.

It is only through investigating an apparent terrorist sleeper cell that Erica and Father Jack uncover the truth behind the Visitors' arrival, and what that means for humankind...

I thought this was a gripping, atmospheric pilot with an excellent cast - Elizabeth Mitchell excels as a sceptical FBI agent, and Morena Baccarin is beautiful and creepy as the leader of the Vs. The slow build up of tension as to what is the Vs true agenda is just the right side of creepily intriguing, before the deftly handled reveal, with a great twist (one which I gather is new to this remake). Plus, as reportedly one of the more expensive pilots, V looks stunning on screen. I will definitely be watching this one - they're clearly hoping for a Battlestar Galactica-style success story from this reimagining, and based on what I've seen so far, this could be a potential winner. I'll be back in the next day or so to let you know what new teen drama The Vampire Diaries is like, as well as DC Comics-based Human Target too.

Project Trico is The Last Guardian

So we have a release name and I hear this is set as a sequel to Shadow of the Colossus, interesting.

The new trailer is pretty much the same as the last but with some better graphics and more gameplay stuff, which by the way looks rather fun.


Tales of Monkey Island and The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition

Wow, I honestly didn’t think this would ever happen, well not for a long time anyway. One of my favorite games of all time is getting some serious loving. I think I was about 6 when the very first Monkey Island game came out, I don’t think I could quite comprehend what was going on at the time but I grew incredibly attached to it (like so many other fans). I think this is the game that sparked off my really unhealthily love of computer games.

So what is Monkey Island? It's a point and click adventure sent in the Caribbean.

You play a pirate wanna-be called Guybrush Threepwood who’s sole goal is to become a pirate...a mighty pirate.

There have been 4 games in the series each getting sillier and funnier as the franchise has developed (some may disagree). Until the late 90’s where Lucasarts decided to stop making the point and click adventure games and concentrate on Starwars.

Until now...

The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition

So after god knows how long Lucasarts has resurrected Guybrush and friends. Rather then me explaining what they have done, watch the video below for a great insight in to the process.

Ron Gilbert the creator of the game has also written a great blog post about this thoughts on the games, and has revealed some details of what was going through his mind when him and the 4 other members of the monkey team were making the original game.

One thing I will say is that there was also a second Monkey Island which I think was the EVEN better then the original (Monkey Island 2 LeChucks Revenge). Now I no expert on these things but if I was going to do a special edition of the original game, why not do the sequel at the same time. So I suspect that we may get a the second game sometime in the future.

Now I would have settled for just that announcement alone but wait there is far more...

Tales of Monkey Island

Telltale games who were started by some of the original Monkey Island team have licensed the franchise of Lucasarts have decided to create an episodic adventure of their own.

The game will consist of 5 chapters, with the first one being released on July 7th. The names of the chapters are as follows:
Chapter 1: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal
Chapter 2: The Siege of Spinner Cay
Chapter 3: Lair of the Leviathan
Chapter 4: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood
Chapter 5: Rise of the Pirate God

I have already ordered this online, I can’t wait for this to get released... I’m going to have a whole summer of monkeys and I really can’t wait.

Here is an interview with Dave Grossman about the new game.

I recommend you all try these games if you are sick of the blood and guts shooters.