Friday, September 12, 2008

Virtually Musical

For those of you who haven’t been swept up in the tidal wave of musical/rhythm gaming and the seemingly never-ending peripherals that accompany them then let me just say that you don’t know what you’re missing. Why spend years practicing on so-called “real” instruments only to never realize your dream of playing ‘Stairway to Heaven’ to a crowd of undulating, naked women when you can become a quote-unquote “Guitar Hero” in a matter of weeks with cheap, plastic instruments? I do have some musical ability (What’s the hold up with Piano Hero, biatches?) and I would practice every so often, but I mean, what’s the point? Now I can merely hook up “Rock Band” or “Guitar Hero,” skulk away to the basement for an hour or twelve avoiding all human contact (Except for my “bandmates.” Totally non-gay, even though we’re all guys and like to play naked.) and rock out to my favourite tunes.

If you haven’t been keeping track then let me fill you in. “Rock Band 2” is currently set for release On September 14th for the Xbox, October 19th for the PS3 and November 18th for the Wii. This is, of course, to the best of my knowledge. I seriously hope it’s accurate though, because my friend has an Xbox, a lot of disposable income, and an addiction to rhythm gaming that rivals my own. It also means he needs somebody to help him test out the newest addition to the gaming family. (Hint: It’s me.) Now I hear that “Guitar Hero: World Tour” is due out on the October 27th, although I don’t believe it has been officially confirmed. While several people have taken sides in the rhythm gaming “war” I love both franchises. Both games have aspects that I like and others I’m not so keen on, but I would gladly own both of them if my budget and usable living area would allow it. What can I say? I’m a consumer whore. I freely admit to owning several editions of the same movie, so I would have no qualms about multiple plastic instruments. Whatever makes you feel good on the inside.

I know the full track listing for “Rock Band 2” has been out for a while, but the “GH:WT” track listing was just officially released, and I am totally stoked for both games. Below is the track listing for the new instalment of the “Guitar Hero” money-grab –er –I mean instalment. Bon app├ętit.
311 - "Beautiful Disaster"
30 Seconds To Mars - "The Kill"
Airbourne - "Too Much Too Young"
The Allman Brothers Band - "Ramblin' Man"
Anouk - "Good God"
The Answer - "Never Too Late"
At The Drive-In - "One Armed Scissor"
Beastie Boys - "No Sleep Till Brooklyn"
Beatsteaks - "Hail to the Freaks"
Billy Idol - "Rebel Yell"
Black Label Society - "Stillborn"
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - "Weapon of Choice"
blink-182 - "Dammit"
Blondie - "One Way or Another"
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band - "Hollywood Nights"
Bon Jovi - "Livin' On A Prayer"
Bullet For My Valentine - "Scream Aim Fire"
Coldplay - "Shiver"
Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Up Around The Bend"
The Cult - "Love Removal Machine"
Dinosaur Jr. - "Feel The Pain"
The Doors - "Love Me Two Times"
Dream Theater - "Pull Me Under"
The Eagles - "Hotel California"
The Enemy - "Aggro"
Filter - "Hey Man, Nice Shot"
Fleetwood Mac - "Go Your Own Way"
Foo Fighters - "Everlong"
The Guess Who - "American Woman"
Hush Puppies - "You're Gonna Say Yeah!"
Interpol - "Obstacle 1"
Jane's Addiction - "Mountain Song"
Jimi Hendrix - "Purple Haze (Live)"
Jimi Hendrix - "The Wind Cries Mary"
Jimmy Eat World - "The Middle"
Joe Satriani - "Satch Boogie"
Kent - "Vinternoll2"
Korn - "Freak On A Leash"
Lacuna Coil - "Our Truth"
Lenny Kravitz - "Are You Gonna Go My Way"
Linkin Park - "What I've Done"
The Living End - "Prisoner of Society"
Los Lobos - "La Bamba"
Lost Prophets - "Rooftops (A Liberation Broadcast)"
Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Sweet Home Alabama (Live)"
Mars Volta - "L'Via L'Viaquez"
MC5's Wayne Kramer - "Kick Out The Jams"
Metallica - "Trapped Under Ice"
Michael Jackson - "Beat It"
Modest Mouse - "Float On"
Motorhead - "Overkill"
Muse - "Assassin"
Negramaro - "Nuvole e Lenzuola"
Nirvana - "About a Girl (Unplugged)"
No Doubt - "Spiderwebs"
NOFX - "Soul Doubt"
Oasis - "Some Might Say"
Ozzy Osbourne - "Crazy Train"
Ozzy Osbourne - "Mr. Crowley"
Paramore - "Misery Business"
Pat Benatar - "Heartbreaker"
R.E.M. - "The One I Love"
Radio Futura - "Escuela De Calor"
Rise Against - "Re-Education Through Labor"
Sex Pistols - "Pretty Vacant"
Silversun Pickups - "Lazy Eye"
Smashing Pumpkins - "Today"
Steely Dan - "Do It Again"
Steve Miller Band - "The Joker"
Sting - "Demolition Man (Live)"
The Stone Roses - "Love Spreads"
Stuck In The Sound - "Toy Boy"
Sublime - "Santeria"
Survivor - "Eye of the Tiger"
System of a Down - "B.Y.O.B."
Ted Nugent - "Stranglehold"
Ted Nugent's Original Guitar Duel Recording
Tokio Hotel - "Monsoon"
Tool - "Parabola"
Tool - "Schism"
Tool - "Vicarious"
Trust - "Antisocial"
Van Halen - "Hot For Teacher"
Willie Nelson - "On The Road Again"
Wings - "Band on the Run"
Zakk Wylde's Original Guitar Duel Recording

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Dark Knight: Colour me Awesome

There are certain moments in a man’s life that affect him in ways that change his entire perspective on life. Things like getting married, or the birth of my daughter. Now I know what you’re going to say. “You monster, how can you possibly even THINK of comparing the birth of your daughter to a movie!?” To which I would reply “The Dark Knight, bitch,” and you would be left with absolutely no way to come back from that shit because the sheer awesomeness of the movie would have rubbed off on me and put an end to your completely spurious argument. Because that’s how awesome The Dark Knight was. It is the ultimate answer to any situation. Boss on your ass for being late to work? Dark Knight, bitch! Cop pulls you over for speeding? Dark Knight, bitch! Saint Peter ready to turn you away from the pearly gates for years of killing kittens? Dark Knight, bitch!

Let me start out by saying thank you. Thank you so much Christopher Nolan and where have you been all my life? This movie has raised the bar not only for comic book movies but movies as a whole. It was superb, fantastic and in all respects awe-inspiring. From the opening bank robbery scene –which was deliciously twisted- to the final scene with Batman driving away as commissioner Gordon delivers his monologue to explain to his son why daddy’s friends at the police station have to try and “kill the Batman” (You see what I did there?) The Dark Knight was firing on all cylinders. Even with a running time of 152 minutes I didn’t feel like there was any part of the movie that really dragged like some movies over two hours are prone to do.

The acting was superb all around. Christian Bale was phenomenal of course. He’s really the only actor that I could buy in the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne now. He’s also one of the few guys who if I was in jail with him I would voluntarily be his bitch. Those of you who know me know that I think Bale is the shiznit (read: God’s gift to the universe) so in my eyes he can do no wrong. He could fuck my wife and kick me in the balls and I’d still lick his shoes clean, and thank him for the privilege. I loved watching Bale take Bruce Wayne on this extreme emotional journey, and drawing us all along for the ride. I also enjoyed watching Batman kick the swat team’s collective asses. I mean that one scene at the end with the radar vision dealie (sorry to get so technical there) was not only a wicked action scene, it was also ten times better than the entire Daredevil movie. (I only make the comparison because of the same visual effect used in both movies. Obviously The Dark Knight did it much better.)

The other awesome performance, of course, was the late Heath Ledger as Batman’s arch-nemesis The Joker. If I hadn’t already known that Mr. Ledger was portraying the Crown Prince of Crime, I would have had absolutely no idea. I mean, you really have to give the guy kudos for getting so lost in the role. It was truly an amazing performance, and it is forever etched in my brain, but in a good way. Not the I-saw-Kevin Bacon’s-penis-in-Wild Things-and-almost-threw-up-and-was-so-pissed-off-because-they-showed-his-shlong-but-not-Neve Campbell’s-tits kind of way. He truly was one of the all time great movie villains. Ledger took the character from homicidally psychotic to comedically endearing within a matter of seconds. I mean there were a million awesome quotes from The Joker: pretty much everything was pure gold. “Upset the established order and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos.” I mean that pretty much sums it up right there. This Joker wasn’t some punk leading a bunch of goons. He was a force of nature. He was a disaster. He was a tsunami of destruction. Fantastic.

And of course the rest of the cast was great. Gary Oldman was amazing as usual. I really love his characterization of Commissioner Gordon. He really brought the character to life as a competent, vulnerable, honourable cop who is in it for the right reasons. In the film he is really as incorruptible as the Joker says Batman is. I love how he is kind of thrust into the role as Commissioner, as he really has no political ambitions and I could really see that kind of conflict being set up for a possible third flick (wistful thinking at this point, I know). And the scene at the end when Two-Face has his son, well, Oldman really was the one who sold that scene with his raw emotion.

Speaking of Two-Face, Aaron Eckhart was also another excellent casting choice. Props go out to Chris Nolan as well (Yeah, ‘Chris’ is what his friends call him. Snatch!) for really bringing an otherwise two-dimensional character and made him part of his dark and twisted vision. Harvey Dent really was the emotional core of the movie, and I felt his transformation was especially heart-wrenching considering the emotional context. Eckhart really did a good job of portraying the “white knight” district attorney and the homicidal maniac. I loved it when he screamed “Shut-up!” at that off-duty cop. I don’t know why, but I could really feel the rage of the character in that line.

Another smart move was to replace Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal. I really felt that Katie was the weakest part of the first movie (Actually, the only weak part of the first movie. Yeah, fuck you Joey.) and I’ve always been a fan of Ms. Gyllenhaal. She’s straight up a better actor than Katie Holmes, and just pound for pound hotter than the brunette from Dawson’s Creek.

The plot was fantastic. Like I said before, it never let up, but I never felt overwhelmed either. There were a lot of really beautiful shots which were obviously done to make the IMAX experience that much more IMAX-y with Batman standing on various rooftops from Gotham all the way to Japan city. I loved how the Joker caused his chaos by putting people in these situations that caused some kind of moral dilemma (“Ernest Goes to the Beach” vs. “Ernest Doesn’t go to the Beach”). It was really twisted. And this movie showed the detective side of Batman a lot more than the first one which was cool because we got to see the character grow. Then there was the new Bat-suit which let Batman turn his head from side to side. That seems like one of those important things he probably should have thought of from the beginning, like a zipper on the front of the suit so he can take a piss. Or maybe the suit has a built-in catheter. That’s one for the internet discussion boards.

It was also very interesting to see Batman’s relationship with the police. It was kind of a love/hate relationship, although the cops seemed to grudgingly welcome his help (Except, of course when he was kicking their collective asses.) And then the reversal at the end when Batman takes the blame for Two-Face’s rampage and the cops then start to hunt him down. (“Why do we have to chase him daddy?” “Because he can take it.”) There were a lot of really cool ideas, but the one that really struck me was this idea that sometimes “people deserve more than the truth.” I mean for a comic book movie that the squares would scoff at as mindless entertainment, the film really does a good job of exploring some really tricky moral issues and really makes you think about what is right and what is wrong and how tricky those terms can be. In short, it was a well-written, well-acted, well-executed cinematic masterpiece. Consider me officially impressed. I definitely give this movie a 10/10 = One Laughing Joker's Head of Chaos