Grizzly Review: Battle: Los Angeles

I’m a huge fan of movies involving extra terrestrials, [Ed. – ET for Life!] and there here has been a whole slew of them in the past year. None though stood out to me, or left a real lasting impression. I either disliked the aliens in them, or the cast of human characters trying to survive against them. Out of District 9, Monsters, and Skyline – I really only took a liking to District 9. Monsters didn’t show me enough aliens and Skyline had too many idiotic humans in it. But then I watched Battle LA.

Battle: Los Angeles was basically a simple storyline with excellent visuals. But being simple didn’t by any means make it a terrible movie. By simple I mean “Aliens are here killing people. We had better kick their asses.” which makes up pretty much 85% of the movie, but all the fire fights between the marines and aliens never wore thin for me. It was spread out and the scenes in between gave chances (albeit sparse) for character development. They also gave a nice overview of the characters at the beginning.

The cast was pretty rounded, very well put together. You get to see Ramon Rodriguez in a not so annoying role as a young commanding officer, as opposed to his vomit-inducing portrayal of Leo Spitz in the crap pile that was Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Bridget Moynahan and Michael Pena were good, though both felt under-utilized. To their credit though, as civilians they didn’t bog the movie down at all and their characters actually enhanced scenes.

Even Michelle Rodriguez took a departure from her normal role as “Female Hardass Character who Yells a lot” in to a more realistic Air Force intel specialist who can fire a rifle. Still no ‘Damsel in Distress’, but something different for her. And then our hero of the movie, Aaron Eckhart. Eckhart was solid and believable as Marine Corp Staff Sargent Nantz, who was actually on his way out of the Corps when the alien aggressors launched their invasion. It’s his experience that gets our cast of characters moving.

The cast also includes a great young ensemble of actors as the grunts, including Cory Hardrict (Gran Turino), Noel Fisher (Terriers), and Will Rothhaar (Jack Frost). Hell, we even had child actor Bryce Cass, who was better than twenty Jake Lloyd‘s could have ever been!

Now I’m expecting a lot of people to ‘rabble rabble‘ about how cliché and melodramatic Eckhart’s couple of speeches to the troops are, but personally I had no problem with them. In terms of melodrama Independence Day still takes the cake on that one. And while I may feel the different about Battle: Los Angeles in about ten years, right now, I thought it was well done and heartfelt.

The movie was shot in a familiar way, the closest thing I can think of being Black Hawk Down, in terms of the urban warfare and house-to-house fighting. The camera utilized the ever-popular ‘shaky sense of urgency’ during the battle scenes, making you feel like you were in the middle of a firefight, actually watching the aliens landing in L.A. And their drone ships hovering all about the war-torn landscape of Los Angeles gave me goosebumps.

The aliens themselves overall were done pretty well. You only catch glimpses of them at first as they ambush our brave marines and seem nearly unkillable. After a certain point though, a weakness is obviously discovered, and then it’s game on.

The aliens reasoning for attacking Earth (which I won’t spoil) may initially sound stupid, but makes perfect sense once you think about it. If anyone out there is a fan of military movies, and alien invasions then this movie is the best of both worlds for you. Good pacing, great cast, and realistic looking effects.

It’s also very refreshing to see it win the weekend box office up against a variety of animated kids films and a Red Riding Hood-Twilight hybrid with a $36 million rake in. (Box Office Mojo)


Overall I give this movie a 4 out 5 Bears

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Star Wars: The Old Republic – Game Trailer

For those of you Star Wars fans who don’t know about The Old Republic, it is the newest upcoming alternative to the ultra popular World of Warcraft.

World of Warcraft is a MMORPG you’ve probably at least heard of, plenty a virgin has wasted their life on it, and many a marriage has been annulled because of it. Could Star Wars fans now be heading in the same direction? Will it matter if the game is as good the rumors say?

I’ve said since it was announced nearly three years ago that I would never play it due to time consumption exhibited by the World’s of Warcraft (or WoW) masses. After seeing the newest trailer however, which features actual game-play and voice over scenes, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to resist. At least I already accomplished the virgin part some years back, and I don’t have a marriage that can be annulled if I do become addicted. Check out the trailer below:

Fighting as Jedi or Sith?
Starship combat?
Multiple planets to explore?

Yes Please.

Depending on the price, they’ve already won half the battle with me. Plus, my boy Darth Malgus is in there. It will be interesting to see exactly how in-depth and immersive the game is given how long it has been in development (2008 to be exact). The voice over work may have something to do with it according to an article at Joystiq in 2009. 100 voice actors have performed for the game with over 1,000 four-hour sessions between them. Apparently every character in the game will have plenty to say.

That is one big pile of Sith

I am also very interested to see the story progress, as everything in the Old Republic comic books and novels is taking place either way before, or during ‘The Treaty of Coruscant‘, which is a cease-fire between the Republic and Sith Empire. We all know when this game becomes available the cease-fire will have been broken.

Justified: Cottonmouth – Harlan County’s Best of the Season

Regular readers of the site should already know my feelings on season 1 of the FX show Justified. I loved it. It was well written, excellently acted, and entertaining as hell. And it closed up with maybe the best season finale of any show since Dexter‘s fourth season. So far, through 4 episodes of it’s 2nd season we’ve seen a lot of new characters introduced, and what seems to be a promising new story arc. And while it’s been really good, it’s not been great. That is until the 5th episode aired on Wednesday night. This episode, titled Cottonmouth, is one of the single best mid-season episodes of any show I’ve ever seen. While premiers and finales are known for packing in a lot major events to kick off, or wrap up a story, here we see no less than 5 major plays made that will have effect on the rest of the season.

1. Arrested Development

Raylan visits Dewey Crowe in prison, at Crowe’s behest. Dewey is worried about getting shived and offers up a trade to Raylan – Info on the Bennetts for early release into a Half-Way-House. The scene opens with an absolutely awesome shot of Raylan sitting in the dark, the screen cap below does it no justice.

Once Raylan is back at the office, Arlo Givens shows up to return some of the money he stole, in hopes of having Raylan remove his ankle bracelet. The suspicions of Trooper Bergen about the missing Walt McCready‘s (murdered in the first episode by the Bennetts) government checks getting cashed, trigger Raylan to question Arlo about check cashing and gets a name – the now deceased Bowman Crowder. Raylan then proceeds to lock up his father. Now

2. The Dick Tase

The second event, and the one that has elicited an entire post over at Warming Glow, happens when Raylan goes to look into the check-cashing scheme in Harlan. The Crowder lead of course takes him to Boyd, who is not alone. Boyd is in distress, but chooses not to seek Raylan’s help, but instead gives him a name and sends him on his way. Raylan follows Boyd’s info to a man Winston Banks. Mr. Banks, who runs a religious ATV tour called “The Church of the Two-Stroke Jesus”, pulls a taser on Raylan once confronted. While being attacked however, Raylan manages to turn the attackers taser back on him…in the crotch.

(from Warming Glow)

This event leads Raylan and Trooper Bergen to believe that Walt is dead, most likely at the hands of the Bennetts, who are now in custody of Walt’s daughter Loretta. Combined with what Dewey told him, all signs point to the Bennetts being responsible for more than just slinging herb…

3. Always Be Cool

The third, and most exciting of these events revolve around everyone’s favorite Ex-Con, Boyd Crowder. This is where we see Boyd, being strong armed into robbing the coal mine, prove himself craftier than the average crook. Kyle and his cronies are determined to make Boyd part of their plan.

Upon learning that they expect him to kill Shelby, (Jim Beaver – Just one of many DEADWOOD alum to appear on the show) the manager at the mine, and suspecting they mean to end him as well, Boyd uses his cell to call the house, escaping the room to answer the phone. Boyd leaves the cell open and on the chair, bugging the room and hearing his suspicions confirmed as the others discuss their plans to end Boyd as well.

It’s around this time that Raylan pulls up to question Boyd about the Check-Cashing his brother used to do. Raylan immediately recognizes the ill-intent of Boyd’s guests and basically extends an offer of help. Boyd declines, passing up an opportunity to end the whole situation there. He has instead decided to rely and his own plan to sabotage the battery of the radio detonator they plan to use for the job, thus ensuring it doesn’t happen. When his cohorts though decide to move forward as planned anyhow, with out the battery, Boyd must quickly devise a new escape.

Once at the mine, as planned they break into the manager’s office, empty the safe, and grab the explosives. Boyd however loads some of the explosives into the cash bag. Once he takes Shelby into the mine, Kyle pulls his double cross and attempts to detonate the explosives. Which are in the money bag. Which is in his truck 5 feet away. In his attempt to kill Boyd and Shelby, Kyle instead blows up himself and his crew.

Well played Boyd.

Ava Crowder: Boyd’s Object of Desire/Sister In-Law/Room-Mate/Accessory After the Fact and Alibi.

Once home Boyd gives Ava $20k he kept from the holdup so she can fight off the bank from taking the house for a while. She is now an accessory to his crimes.

4. A Mother’s Love

While Boyd is explaining to Ava what went down at the mine, Dickie and Coover Bennett pay a visit to Winston Bank’s ATV warehouse to collect money owed them. Dickie then notices Marshall Raylan Givens sitting in the dark. Having now confirmed Raylan’s suspicion, they take off and empty-handed. Come morning over, they’re dirty Police Chief brother Doyle drops by their place with the family patriarch and mother: Mags Bennett. What transpires is something the likes of which haven’t been seen in Misery. Mags, enraged to find out that Coover and Dickie have been cashing Walt’s checks and raising the attention of the authorities, decides to teach a lesson to her dumber sons. Coover must now bear the brunt of his mother’s scorn.

Mags' Hammer
“I’m saving your gun hand now.”

Wow. Coover already blames Raylan for all his problems since he is an idiot, so I’m sure he’ll blame Raylan for this too. Oh, a mother’s love…

5. Lortetta’s Knight in Shining Armor

Little Loretta McCready. Heir to the vast nothing-ness left by her father, now taken in by the very people who murdered him. Earlier saved by Raylan when he whisked her out of the trunk of a child molester, she now is surviving how she see fit and doing what her Daddy taught her – Selling weed. Raylan, now convinced that the Bennetts did in fact murder her father, but with no proof as of yet, visits Loretta and to her delivers a cell phone. With the phone, this promise:

[quote]”I kicked a hornet’s nest last night. And things may start to happen, and I need you to know, if you find yourself in trouble of any kind, you can call me. I will drop whatever I am doing and I will come for you.”[/quote]

BOOM! If that isn’t a promise of some Epic Fricking Heroics playing out, then I don’t know what is. This season is really picking up now and I can’t wait for Wednesday.

Star Wars: Deceived – Book Trailer

Deceived is the newest Star Wars novel to be released on March 22nd 2011. It is by Paul S. Kemp (Michigan resident! Whoo Hoo!) who has already written two other Star Wars Novels so far: Crosscurrent and the forthcoming Riptide. Deceived takes place in the Old Republic era to coincide with events that will take place in the soon to be released MMORPG. Check it out below:

The trailer seems to be a couple of clips from the first two ‘Old Republic’ trailers, while the last clip is entirely new to me. The story focuses on Darth Malgus, who is a pretty big bad ass, and based on an excerpt I read from Deceived, may have a bit more to his character than just a mindless Sith warrior. The video below is how the novel begins:

And here is yet another trailer for the Old Republic starring Darth Malgus. This guy can really take a beating. What happens to him at the end is why he has to wear his imitation Darth Vader mask in the Deceived trailer.

I can’t wait for the book to come out because Paul S. Kemp is a brilliant writer, especially in the Star Wars world. He has already shown that he can write a Sith character well beyond the generic bloodthirsty killer role they play in a lot of stories. Don’t get me wrong, Sith are bloodthirsty killers, but they all have a past. Kemp touched on this in his Crosscurrent with the Sith Lord Saes Rrogon. In one of the preview excerpts from Deceived, Malgus’s past life is delved into briefly, hopefully we get to see more in the rest of the book.

Spidey Suit Poll

Looking back on my first Spiderman Suit article, I thought maybe I didn’t give enough choices in the poll and some people (*cough* Ms. Shaw) thought that the original suit should have been included. I agree and thought it would be fun not only to do another poll but take a look back at all of the other Spiderman suits from over the years. For better or worse.

And here we go:

Stealth Spidey                India Spidey                 Spiderman 2099          Ben Reilly Clone
Stealth Spidey, India Spidey, Spiderman 2099, Ben Reilly Clone
Electro Insulated             Iron Spider                 Black Armor Spidey    Silver Armor Spidey
Electro Insulated, Iron Spider, Black Armor Spidey, Silver Armor Spidey

 

Scarlet Spider              Cosmic Spidey,            Black Suit Spidey        Future Foundation
Scarlet Spider, Cosmic Spidey, Black Suit Spidey, Future Foundation
Baghead Spidey               Spider Thor                    Spider Ham                 Spider Carnage
Baghead Spidey, Spider Thor, Spider Ham, Spider Carnage

And the best for last:

The Original Red and Blue! (And my favorite cover)

Whether there are too many choices or not enough please vote in the poll below!

Star Wars Comics Aplenty: Knight Errant/Invasion/Dark Times

You will be happy to know, unless you hate Star Wars, that Darkhorse is set to continue three story arcs on three titles coming soon according to TheForce.Net.

Knight Errant

Let’s start with Knight Errant, my least favorite title out of the three, but still a good bit of Star Wars, opening up the time period between Knights of the Old Republic and the rise of Darth Bane.

Darth_Bane

This title features a strong female lead named Kerra Holt, a Jedi Knight who is forced to wage war alone against the Sith Lord brothers Odion and Daiman after her master is slain. To add to the drama, Sith Lord Odion is also the one responsible for attacking Kerra’s home planet and killing her parents. Talk about having a grudge against someone.

Odion and Daiman are an interesting couple of Sith Lords, despite being brothers they have been at war with one another for years and are a total antithesis to one another. Odion promotes only death and destruction to his followers, while Daiman believes that he is the creator of all living things in the universe. Daiman is a little more interesting to me, seeing how much he changes to make himself believe that he is a God. Everyone in his service addressed him with “As my Lord already know” before telling him something and he even has all written text changed to his own alphabet. Freakin’ nutjob.

The first story arc Aflame started off strong and maintained it’s momentum throughout until the very last issue, though seemed a little abrupt for my taste.  For anyone unable to wait for the next arc titled Deluge, which sees Kerra returning to her homeworld, then I would suggest picking up the novel Knight Errant. The book takes place after Aflame, but before Deluge. The book is a little less action packed than the first comic arc but definitely adds great insight into the current Sith Empire’s goals and power structure.

From left to right: Kerra Holt, Lord Daiman, Lord Odion
From left to right: Kerra Holt, Lord Daiman, Lord Odion

Invasion

The next series, Invasion, takes place 21 years after Return of The Jedi, in between the 19 novels of the New Jedi Order Series. The New Jedi Order chronicles the Yuuzhan Vong War, an invasion from outside the Star Wars galaxy by a race of aliens sharing the same name as the war. The Yuuzhan Vong are undetectable through the force, have highly adaptable biotechnology, and a high tolerance for pain. Understandably this makes for a good time in the comics and gives the Jedi a challenge trying to slice and dice the Vong. Invasion which is now coming up on its third story arc, begins with the Vong invading the peaceful planet of Artorias. At this point the war is only in its beginning stages, but the first battle and the death of our beloved Chewbacca has already come to pass.

Chewie’s last stand

From that world comes our protagonist in the form of Finn Galfridian, son of the king of Artorias. Thankfully he isn’t the spoiled annoying kid you would imagine of a royal offspring, instead he is a Jedi in training who has a score to settle with the invaders who destroyed his home. Plus he has a cool droid name Prowl, who can act as Finn’s eyes and ears through a pair of nifty data goggles.

Finn and Prowl along with some really pissed off Yuuzhan Vong!
Finn and Prowl along with some really pissed off Yuuzhan Vong!

And no, Data Goggles with a programmable floating droid are not real.

Dark Times

The third and last series to continue is the depressing but awesome Dark Times, which of course refers to the events following Revenge of the Sith. In this time period star systems are savagely oppressed by the Empire, and remaining Jedi and being purged from the galaxy. Our main character is Jedi Master Dass Jennir once again. Jennir is a Jedi who has crossed the line a couple times, acting very un-Jedi and blasting a couple unarmed bad guys directly in the face. Sure they deserved it, but the whole ‘Dark Side’ thing is still in effect. After being in the first story arc of Dark Times, on the run from the Empire, Jennir sat out the second arc before returning to the fray in the excellent Blue Harvest storyline.

Wait, not this one…

In Blue Harvest Jennir is roaming from place to place while keeping a lid on his Jedi identity. He passes time by taking up bounties that do not conflict with the Jedi code and trying to stay alive. Then a bounty takes him to a planet where he plays two rival gangs of slavers against one another to meet their mutual destruction. [Ed. – Much like in the 1927 novel ‘Red Harvest’, which inspired the movie ‘Yojimbo’. That was directed by Akira Kurosawa, who also did the movie ‘The Hidden Fortress’ which was later ripped off remade into ‘Star Wars’ in 1977. ‘Yojimbo’ also has a few remakes – ‘A Fist Full of Dollars’ starring Clint Eastwood and Bruce Willis’ ‘Last Man Standing’ ]

The story arc had a very ‘Clint Eastwood/Western’ feel to it, and Doug Wheatley’s art is once again rich in detail. It seems as if in the next arc (coming in August) that Jennir will draw the ire of none other than Darth Vader. I’m hoping this won’t be the end of the road for him, but with Darth Vader coming after you the odds don’t stack in your favor.

The many looks of Jedi Master Jennir
The many looks of Jedi Master Jennir

It’s going to be a good summer with these three titles starting up again following the now ending Star Wars: Legacy comic book. I fully expect them to exceed the previous arcs and add to the ongoing space opera that is Star Wars.

OSU’s Jim Tressel: The Sweater Vest is Dead to Me

There’s a Scarlet and Gray elephant in the NCAA room. The ‘Sweater Vest’ himself, Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, has admitted to withholding information from the NCAA for 8 months pertaining to violations. These violations later lead to the suspensions of players for selling memorabilia and keepsakes in exchange for tattoos and other benefits.

The current punishment? Two games and $250,000. This naturally brings up questions regarding proper punishment and leadership.

– Does the punishment fit the crime?
– Should Tressel be fired?
– Does the football team demonstrate a lack of institutional control?
– Are we even surprised at this point?

Before I go further, for those that do not know who I am, I did attend THE Ohio State University. I do have a love for the Buckeyes that my home state of Michigan claims would be unnatural. I have seen both sides of the rivalry and have been booed at my high school graduation when they announced I was bucking (pun intended) the trend and heading to Columbus. I even shared a dorm with the infamous Maurice Clarett.

I expect to be accused of being an Ohio State slappy, but that is just the way it rolls. I am in a position to comment, because I follow OSU’s athletics and have an understanding to how the Sweater Vest works.

I did meet Jim Tressel once, back in 2001. I shook his hand as he welcomed me, well me and the rest of the class of 2005 to the campus. He had a firm, strong handshake and was poised in delivering his speech to us freshman. It was his first year and he wanted to let us know we will be proud of our football team in two months, when they march into the University of Michigan and beat the Wolverines. He did keep his word on victory. However, pride in my team has wavered in the last decade.

Jim Tressel and Ohio State got off on the right foot. We beat Michigan in his first year as head coach and won a national championship the next year. That was then followed however, with the debacle of academic fraud concerning the aforementioned Clarett.

After that mess, Ohio State settled into the groove of being the BCS representative of the Big Ten, sending numerous players to the NFL, and gathering hatred from fans all around. Then the Troy Smith booster scandal happened and our Quarterback was suspended for the Alamo Bowl in 2004, as well as the first two games of the 2005 season.

Tressel has always carried a reputation of having issues with player benefits, resulting in NCAA eyeballs starring his way since his years at D-I AA (now Division I’s Football Championship Subdivision) Youngstown State. He was pretty much the Pete Carroll equivalent of the Midwest. Some diehard fans though argued that some team and coach had to fill the role of ‘most hated’ during the last few weeks of the regular season. Seeing OSU as undeserving of the praise in the national eye due to the disasters against the SEC in the BCS Championship games that capped off the 2006 and 2007 seasons.

The Buckeyes always a chip on their shoulder and seem to always be under a scrutinizing eye. Their reasoning was that they were elite and people always want to take down Goliath. Others though said that the team was only good because they let the players do whatever the hell they want. Naturally, evidence in May 2009 reported by The Columbus Dispatch, shows that Ohio State reported to the NCAA more than 375 violations. That number is staggering, but I think what is most alarming is that most of the violations resulted in little or no punishment.

When the ‘Tat Five’, the athletes punished that are at the heart of this issue, were handed their suspensions, it was laughable and frustrating. Laughable because the compliance office at Ohio State is a joke, saying that they never had the chance to educate the athletes about giving autographs for benefits being in violation, or that selling their awards would also result in some form of punishment. Frustrating because these athletes that had these awards bestowed upon them for sharing in one of the best rivalries in sports, threw school pride out the window and took the cash.

I looked for Tressel to provide leadership, to set the example these men need to follow. Show them that what they did is a slap in the face to the fans, and let us face it – stupid, because their eligibility was on the line. All I got was the Big Ten Commissioner and Ohio State stepping in and getting their star players on the field for a BCS game followed by pointless suspensions during the mostly fluff schedule in 2011.

Weak as it was, I was willing to forgive the stupidity of the punishment, mostly because as a fan, I wanted to win the damn Arkansas game, and I hated Ryan Mallett. Tressel supposedly stepped in and got promises from these players. Promises to serve the suspensions and make sure they learn from the whole experience. Yet here I sit, writing an article asking why this was necessary.

Let’s face it; Coach Tressel is not going to miss his $250,000. Ohio State will give him yet another extension in two years that will easily cover the salary loss. He will sleep at night soundly. Jim Tressel owns Ohio State. The president of OSU Gordon Gee was asked whether he’d considered dismissing Tressel, Gee’s response:

“No. Are you kidding me? I just hope the coach doesn’t dismiss me.”

That’s strong leadership, and maybe that is the problem. No one is willing to tell Coach Tressel to put aside football and just think about being the poised leader, the person that Buckeye nation looks up to, a person that is supposed to represent integrity for Ohio State. That person currently does not exist. I just see a coach that will do anything to put himself in the best position to win. He is not going be fired because it is his sole job to win football games. Winning football games generates money for the university so really, who is going to challenge his authority?

I get that he wants to cover for these players but really, what are we teaching here? That people are above the system? Whether it’s the players using their fame for profit, or the coach keeping information to increase his competitive advantage, I was promised I was going to be proud of my university. All I got was a lousy handshake.

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