Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Top 5 must-see movies for 2014

I'm aware that these are all special effects-heavy blockbuster types, but this is a blog about how I'm a GEEK, so it's going to be pretty inevitable.

1. Godzilla: This is a no-brainer to put it at the top of the list. Godzilla is one of those characters I've been a fan of all my life. The last time American filmmakers made a movie starring the titular monster, they screwed it up, badly. Admittedly, it was one of my favorite movies of my childhood, but then again Nickelback and Creed were two of my favorite bands in middle school when I didn't know any better. Judging from the trailer, all the things they got wrong in 1998, they're getting right this time. It's dark, presumably going to be very drama-heavy due to the casting of Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad"), and there's just this very lingering sense of helplessness and dread hanging around the movie, especially considering that Big G is going to be even bigger and meaner than ever.

2. X-Men: Days of Future Past: My favorite superhero team. Reunited. I mean, from the original movie that came out 10 years ago. Plus, the original X-Men are liking up with the crew from "First Class" for an adaptation of the storyline that I consider to be one of the greatest comic book story arcs of all time. The previews hint at a sense of darkness and scale that this franchise has not been to, along with character depth. If done right, this could stand alongside "The Dark Knight" and "The Avengers." As a lifelong X-Men fan, I really hope it does.

3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: If this isn't on any most-anticipated lists, it should be. In a somewhat lackluster summer during 2011, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" was one of the few movies that stood out to me. It kinda came out of nowhere and breathed life back into practically a dead franchise in a fresh way. The human performances were kind of meh, but Andy Serkis' character of "Caesar" set the bar for motion-capture. Keep in mind this is the same guy who did "King Kong" and "Gollum." Needless to say, I'm pretty excited for this one.

4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier: The Phase 2 movies of Marvel's Cinematic Universe have all been very decent. Decent. Not great. "The Winter Soldier" looks like it could easily be the best standalone sequel that Marvel has done. The political, almost Tom Clancy-esque feel is very different than other movies in the series, and that's a good thing. Plus, the trailer had a shot of the helicarrier falling out of the sky. If anything, this one could have the farthest-reaching consequences for the MCU.

5. Guardians of the Galaxy: This will be something new. It's a Marvel team that basically no one has heard of. Yet it has the chance to score big. Really big. It's almost like a combination of Stan Lee and Star Wars from what I understand. Not a bad thing. Plus, before he got his own movie in 2008, Iron Man was actually not a popular character. And look how that turned out. Plus, it'll be interesting to see Chris Pratt from "Parks and Rec" act like a tough guy/douche in a very different role from what he usually plays.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Call of Duty: Ghosts review

"Call of Duty" is a series that I have been familiar with for nearly 10 years. Unlike the "Modern Warfare" bandwagon jumpers, I stuck with the series since it hit it big in the mainstream in 2005 with "Call of Duty 2." I even went back and played the original one and its expansion pack, which while hits were not as popular because they were only on PC. Throughout high school, I played the spinoff games and watched as it evolved from a WWII series to a modern warfare series. At the time, it was revolutionary, but since then it has become kind of stale, with each entry bringing little new to the table.

"Ghosts" is the franchise attempt at a major reboot. The "Modern Warfare" saga is over, and I highly doubt they'll be able to squeeze anything out of the "Black Ops" saga after last year's Black Ops 2 seemingly ended things. "Ghosts" manages to be closer to "Modern Warfare" than "Black Ops," but it makes the story more personal. Rather than following a typical squad of soldiers, it makes the squad of soldiers a family. Literally, like a father and his two sons. The story is different in that the bad guys this time come from a unified South America, but come on, how different does it really make it? They all go down the same if they get shot.

Gameplay-wise, it's the same song and dance from "Modern Warfare." I had this same rant two years ago about how Modern Warfare 3 had the same gameplay as 2. Well "Ghosts" has the same gameplay as 3. Nothing new has been brought to the table. At all.

The graphics are the same as in the "Modern Warfare" series. Some people are telling me they've noticed an improvement. Maybe on the PS4 and Xbox One, but not on current-gen 360 and PS3. That's all I have to say.

As I'm one of the few people who plays the campaign in "Call of Duty," I was more interested in playing this one's campaign. I mean, I'd rather follow the semblance of a story than go online and listen to 12-year-olds talk about their sexual intercourse with each other's mothers. "Ghosts" has a few good moments in its otherwise very cookie-cutter campaign. Especially the villain. After Raul Menendez from "Black Ops 2," Gabriel Rorke is probably one of the better villains in the the franchise, partially because he's actually likeable. And dangerous. Nothing makes a deadlier villain than one who used to be one of your own. Imagine a guy who knows every move you're going to make because he trained you. That's Rorke. An extra shout-out goes to the blatant "Dark Knight Rises" moment that occurs a little more than halfway through. Also, the "Gravity"-inspired bits were amusing.

The multiplayer is where "Ghosts" really doesn't shine. It's the same as in "Modern Warfare 3," only now the maps are bigger and are more sniper and camper-friendly, which, yeah, gets really old really fast. Killstreaks are the same, hell everything is the same except for the overly big maps. During my recent visit home, my brother and I got so tired of the campers we actually switched back to playing "Black Ops."

Activision, how long do you intend to slap a different label on the same product and calling it a new game? Eventually, people are going to get tired of this shit.