CFP: The Legacy of Radiohead's 'The Bends' 20 Years On [Deadlines: 4 Feb / 19 Feb]

 

Latest Posts

Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Sunday, Sep 14, 2008
New releases for the week of 2008-09-14...
LucasArts' Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

LucasArts’ Star Wars: The Force Unleashed


There always seems to be equal amounts of trepidation and anticipation when a new Star Wars game comes out.  On one hand, there’s the chance to play as part of a universe that was an integral part of many gamers’ childhood fantasies.  On the other, it’s been proven time and again that any new entry into the lore of that universe is woefully deficient to the content of the three movies that built it.  As such, it’s with some caution that I’m looking at The Force Unleashed this week above all of the week’s other releases.


The Wii version, for its part, features light sabre action, which Wii owners have been fantasizing about since motion controls were even a suggestion.  It’s nice to be able to finally realize that dream, though the fact that the upcoming Motion Plus controls aren’t involved sort of indicates that it’s not quite going to live up to expectations.  Still, there’s still some buzz behind the game, and even with the possible light sabre goodness aside, there’s a buzz behind this game that I haven’t seen for a Star Wars game in a long time.  At the very least, the demo’s worth a shot—it’s a blast, actually.


Ubisoft's Armored Core: For Answer

Ubisoft’s Armored Core: For Answer


Elsewhere, interesting material comes from some strange places.  The prize for Most Awkward Title this week is Armored Core: For Answer, in a landslide victory.  Despite the rather strange subtitle, I’m a sucker for anything that has big giant mechs running around and blowing stuff up, so maybe it’s at least worth a rental.  Armored Core is an awfully long-running series regardless, and its devotees would certainly be wise to give it a look.


If you’ve got the power (and the original game), Crysis Warhead is another one that’ll probably be worth a purchase.  Lost in the hubbub about its system specs and the nasty computer you need to actually get something out of it, Crysis turned out to be a pretty impressive, if somewhat run-of-the-mill, shooter.  As it turns out, Warhead even has some optimizations that will allow it to run better on the machines that can handle it, so hey, maybe you can push your machine past that 8 frames-per-second max that you were getting out of the original.


Electronic Arts' Crysis Warhead

Electronic Arts’ Crysis Warhead


Of course, it’s entirely possible that I’ll ignore all of my own advice and just go buy Dragon Quest IV, given that I never met a JRPG remake that I didn’t like.


What are you playing this week?  Is anybody out there buying Zoo Hospital for the Wii?  Does anybody else have a better idea than I do of what “For Answer” means?  Are you too busy playing Rock Band 2 to leave the house?  Let us know in the comments, and enjoy the Star Wars action in the trailer after the break.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Sunday, Sep 14, 2008

In case you missed it, here’s a chance to catch up with PopMatters 2008 Fall Preview



Talk, Talk, Talk: The PopMatters Fall 2008 Preview


Enjoy!


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Sunday, Sep 14, 2008

You can’t capture lightning in a bottle, according to the old cliché. Such electrical discharges also never strike in the same place twice, if you believe the rap. Applicable to hundreds of situations, we film critics tend to pull these maxims out whenever a sullied sequel rears its dreadful, usually unnecessary head. Almost always a clear case of cash from commercial chaos, revisiting a previous success ups the amperage for such a potential kinetic crash. Thus, the proverbial responses. Retardead, the new film from Monsturd makers Rick Popko and Dan West, wants to revisit the scatological success of that previous crap creature funny business. Unfortunately, the wit and weirdness of the first film just doesn’t translate over to a flailing zombie stomp.


Although everyone in the tiny county of Butte thinks that their fecal nightmare is over, the truth is far more disturbing. Seems the creator of the scat monster, Dr. Stern, has found a way to escape his fate, and is now teaching at the local institute for students with special needs. His goal is simple - use a hyper-intelligence serum to turn a group of mentally handicapped kids into abject geniuses. There’s just one side effect, however. After a while, these buffoons to braniacs start snacking on human flesh. It’s not long before Sheriff Duncan, Deputies Dan and Rick, and FBI Agent Susan Hannigan are ass deep in zombies - and desperate to find a way to stop the cannibal corpse holocaust. Oddly enough, Stern might have an answer for that as well.


There are times when a movie hits you in a certain way. Perhaps it’s the material, or the sort of day you had previously, but when a film that shouldn’t actually clicks, you wonder if it can happen again, and if not, what caused the connection in the first place. Monstrud, the first horror comedy from duo Rick Popko and Dan West, is this kind of non-quantifiable quackery. While cornering the market on mieda humor, it also worked as an effective bit of b-movie schlock. Of course, one is convinced that revisiting the title now would probably result in the aforementioned ambivalence. After all, the story of a killer stool sample would seem to have a limited shelf life. Still, Popko and West hope that Retardead offers up some similarly stupid fun. And for the most part, it does.


Of course, that also means there are some gaping flaws in the filmmaking reasoning. As Shaun of the Dead taught us, the living dead can be hilarious - that is, as long as you concentrate on the characters and circumstances surrounding the satiric scares. Here, Popko and West rely on our previous knowledge of the Butte County citizenry instead of reintroducing their individual quirks. Similarly, gore is rarely handled with humor. Sure, we can laugh at a particularly outrageous bit of arterial spray, but for the most part, blood letting is the perturbing pause before any other slice of slapstick. But Retardead thinks fiends feasting on spinal chords and bodies blowing apart is the height of hilarity. Sadly, sidesplitting is NOT sidesplitting. 


Even worse, this is a movie that wusses out on the most important facet of their (potentially) tasteless humor - the retards. After all, if you’re going to call a movie by such a politically incorrect term, you should treat the material in an equally offensive manner. At first, it looks like Popko and West will come through. We get a rogues gallery of identifiable idjits, from the inappropriate pee girl to the oversized homunculus with a safety helmet and hygiene issues. As we are introduced to Dr. Stern’s class, each cretin getting their individual moment to shine, we keep waiting for the filmmakers to break free. Instead, they immediately jump into “Flowers for Algernon” mode, turning their punchlines into frequently unfunny props.


Still, there are some reasons to rejoice. As the most dip-sticked deputies in the history of law enforcement, Popko and West are a cunning comedy team. There is a sequence when they are sharing some porn and a beer that’s a classic of understated spoofing. Also, the technical ambitions and actual achievements are well worth celebrating. The movie looks larger, the scope matched well by the improvement in cinematic technique. Sure, there is still too much padding here (a zombie comedy shouldn’t last longer than 85 minutes - Retardead is 100), and Dan Burr’s Dr. Stern is a fairly ineffectual villain. Instead of being over the top and evil, the actor turns on the seriousness and subtlety. A movie about retarded kids turning into bloodthirsty killers doesn’t need such nuance.


In fact, it’s fair to say that most of Retardead suffers from the seminal sophomore slump. It’s too ambitious, too overloaded with feigned confidence to completely succeed. Granted, in a realm where most homemade horror movies are a single step away from being digital chum, Popko and West deliver a fun and somewhat solid experience. But they also suffer from the same lo-fi failings that most no budget efforts experience. Instead of simply doing what they do best (and did well before), they purposely try to up the ante. And just like the concept of capturing lightning in a bottle, they barely manage to make it. This is a film that should be better than it ends up being - and perhaps it’s not Popko and West’s fault. Their Monsturd was a noxious little novelty. As the old saying goes, it’s almost impossible to repeat such accidental anarchy.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Sunday, Sep 14, 2008
by PopMatters Staff

Palin / Hillary Open
Gov. Palin and Senator Clinton address the nation


And here’s what else happened last night…


Digital Short: Space Olympics
The year is 3022 and this galactic sporting event is having some financial issues


Michael Phelps Diet
You too can eat 12,000 calories a day!


The Charles Barkley Show


T-Mobile Fav 5
Shot on location in Las Vegas, Charles Barkley welcomes Michael Phelps and Bela


Jar Glove
There’s got to be a better way



Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Sunday, Sep 14, 2008

The Internet is alight with the news of David Foster Wallace’s suicide. This is hitting me hard, not only because of Wallace’s youth, talent, and unfinished business, but because of my sense that he was not the type of artist who did this. In his writing, and especially in his magazine writing, I always found an authenticity and decency and all-around avoidance of self-tortured preening. I’m not saying we can spot suicidal hints in an artist’s work, but I am saying Wallace connected to real emotions and real concerns in a way that separated him from many of his pomo peers.


This doesn’t feel like the time to track down who broke the news, but I found out via the LA Times‘s blog. In choosing an image to accompany the story, their reporter posted the wrong book cover—not of Wallace’s opus, Infinite Jest, but of Stephen Burn’s David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest: A Reader’s Guide, a short volume in the “Continuum Contemporaries” series.


The Times’ unintentional slip feels like a fitting sort of tribute—with possible implications for Wallace’s style and audience, his relationship to academia, and even the state of fiction today—but I don’t feel like parsing it. I just feel sad.


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2015 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.