Tuesday, April 29, 2014

And Then There Was That Time...

...that Hugh Jackman fought "Magneto" during WWE Monday Night Raw.

I can't tell you what my favorite part of this is.  There's the fact that Hugh Jackman actually busts out a pretty sweet move.  There's the wacky sound effects.  There's the almost literal mic drop (except thrown at Mags) done by Jackman.  There's the fact that Magneto is insulting the audience.

I love a world where this can happen.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Review - Batman: Gotham Knight

Batman is a cultural icon.  He has thrived in comic books, newspaper strips, movies, video games, television shows, radio shows, campfire stories, toys, postage stamps, novels, and I'm willing to bet that somewhere out there is a form of Batman being used in a safety video for an office.


If the Dark Knight has a format he's done consistently well in, it's animation.  The Batman: The Animated Series show completely changed the look at Batman, telling stories appropriate for children and adults, and forever cementing the idea of Kevin Conroy as the voice of Bruce Wayne (rather than Christian Bale's guttural shout)  and Mark Hamill as the Clown Prince Of Crime.  It's the series that took Mr. Freeze and turned him into an iconic character.  It introduced us to Harley Quinn.  It opened the doors for a Superman series and then a Justice League series.

While the movies have gone their own way, it's felt as of late that the DC animation department is floundering a bit.  They're doing animated versions of all the latest big events, but they still have regular Batman cartoons coming out on DVD.  The problem is there isn't a coherent timeline for these stories, with some taking place in the original animated series universe, others taking place in their own realities, and some just trying to keep up with the books or film and feeling rushed because of it.

I finally got around to watching the Batman: Gotham Knight DVD, and while it wasn't bad by any means, I just felt rather underwhelmed.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

DOA - Dead Or Alive Review Part 2

When I ended the review last time, a lot of really important stuff happened in a film about a group of people getting together to kick each other in the face as many times as they can while the women try to look as sexy as possible.

We had the main character from Ninja Gaiden completely forget about security cameras after beating up floor after floor of goons like he was trapped in his own version of the Die Hard arcade game.

We had a beach volleyball tournament that ended when a ninja assassin got mad and took out the ball.

We had a female wrestler's father conclude that it was obvious that his daughter would be a lesbian after some wacky sitcom misunderstandings.

We had a character who's supposed to be an opera singer and is now a roller blading enthusiast get hit on by the biggest nerd the movie could produce for us.

...I'm pretty sure that somewhere there's supposed to be a plot, but for the life of me I can't really remember what it is other than "people kick each other in the face while broadcast on screens complete with health bars."

So let's stop messing around and jump straight into the rest of the movie.

We ended last time with Zack and Tina squaring off to face each other, and I want to say that the establishing shot of the "forbidden square" that they'll be fighting in pretty much cinches this as a video game movie.

Seriously, what island is this that has all these perfect locations for fighting?  Was it built strictly for this purpose, or was it like someone bought out an area larger than all of Disney World and decided to convert it over for ritualistic combat?

The movie promptly says "Who cares?" and gives us a wrestler fighting it out with a professional DJ.

The fight is pretty intense, and I feel the need to point out that this is the SECOND time in the movie that we get someone doing a maneuver that involves hearing a gun cock as they perform it (with the added bonus of hearing said imaginary gun fire when the blow connects).  Oh, and there's a point where Zack gets kicked in the face and you hear birds chirping.

Tina wins when Zack decides he's had enough, and we cut back to Eric Roberts and Weatherby at their computers talking about how their "nanobots" are working overtime recording each of the fights (I did mention that before, didn't I?), and how the next fight is going to be between Christie and Helena.  Weatherby thinks Helena has the fight in the bag, naturally, because he clearly was a fan of Skate in Streets of Rage 3 and knows how having wheels on your feet makes you great at fighting.

This part gets weird, though.

We cut to Christie talking to Max about their deal to steal the money, then the next fight is all done by Christie remembering the whole thing in flashback.

Oh, and it's quite possibly the most exploitive scene yet in the movie, moreso than Christie nude-fighting a bunch of Hong Kong cops, because apparently it's the only time in the island's history that it rained, and the two are fighting in bikinis on a beach.

Oh, and we get this shot:

Between shots of gratuitous wetness as two women alternate between kicking each other and grappling each other tightly, we see Christie get a glimpse of a tattoo on Helena's neck.  This is only important if you're paying attention to the robbery sub-plot, as Max is convinced that "Helena is the key."  This turns out to be less of a puzzle than you'd find in the Sunday comics section being solved by Slylock Fox, since all you need to do is put the picture in front of a mirror to see that instead of writing, it's a number code.

Man, who would've thought that putting a tattoo onto Helena's neck with a key code would be such a bad place to hide it?  It's not like she'd ever have her hair in a ponytail, except that it's how she's had her hair done the entire movie so far.

So with the final four being Kasumi, Tina, Christie, and Hayabusa, the three women decide to go look for Hayabusa in Eric Robert's office, and Weatherby is dismissed for the day so he can go attempt to comfort Helena about losing the tournament.

Christie, Kasumi, and Tina find the monitoring station where Eric Roberts and Weatherby track everything ("What a bunch of pervs," Tina points out, making me think this movie is really more self-aware than it wants to admit), and explore deeper to find Hayabusa, but ignore the fact it's an obvious trap to wind up stuck in a chamber filling with gas.

Oh, and Weatherby admits to Helena that Eric Roberts probably most likely definitely had Helena's father killed.  Eric Roberts, watching the whole thing on monitors because of course he is, sends all of his people out to kill Weatherby and Helena.

I think we're starting to get ankle deep in plot here.

About thirty people with swords show up to take out Helena and Weatherby, and while Weatherby gets knocked into some bushes pretty early on, Helena winds up dual-wielding two swords and takes out almost all of the other swordsmen and women.  I say "almost" because Weatherby gets one shining moment at the end where he punches out the last swordsman sneaking up behind Helena and then immediately shakes his fist complaining how much it hurt.

I swear, Weatherby is Bruce Banner if the Hulk never existed.

There's a cute scene where Weatherby comments that he'll never mess with Helena and she just coyly arches an eyebrow and says "Never?"  This is then ruined when Weatherby adds "...well, maybe in a controlled environment."  I hope they pick a good safe word.

Our regular heroes, in the meanwhile, have all been bound up and trapped in large metal tubes as Eric Roberts shows up to chew up an amazing amount of scenery.  We have some impressive music as Eric Roberts declares that he's going to introduce them to, and I quote, "the future."

Keep in mind, this is a game series that had the final bosses of various games be an evil criminal god and a genetically enhanced clone of Kasumi (created by Victor Donovan, Eric Roberts' character in this movie).  So since this has a movie budget instead of a fighting game budget, I'm sure we'll get something truly epic and awesome for them to fight.  I mean, even Mortal Kombat: Annihilation gave them the ruler of an otherdimensional wasteland to fight with.

Or it'll be a pair of sunglasses.  That works, too.

Now, on the one hand, I appreciate the fact they didn't have a somewhat realistic fighting tournament devolve into some massive "save the world from supernatural evil" fight or go absolutely ludicrous with the science like a Resident Evil would (though, we do already have nanobots, so it wouldn't be that far out of the question), but really...sunglasses?

Roberts puts on the glasses and his computer systems immediately begin downloading all of the data that the nanobots have been gathering and uploading them to the glasses (or to his head? I'm not really sure), and he reveals one more big plot twist: he's been keeping Hayate, Kasumi's brother, prisoner for the past year as the "ultimate test" of whatever it is his technology does.

Hayate, naturally, flips out on Hayabusa for letting Kasumi get captured, but then Eric Roberts challenges Hayate to mano-a-mano combat, where he promises to let everyone go free if Hayate wins, but they die if he refuses.

So, now we get to see what these funky glasses do.  They apparently predict every single move the opponent is going to do, allowing the wearer to counter attacks before they even happen.  With this technology, Eric Roberts first gets a visual presented to him of Hayate kicking his butt up and down the floor, but is able to take that information and turn it around to knock Hayate around a few times.

Which is a pretty cool idea if a) it wasn't limited to eyewear that could be smacked off your face with a Nerf bat, and b) didn't exist in a world where people have guns.

Eric Roberts kicks Hayate through a wall, sending him plummeting to his death, except (surprise!) Ayane swoops out of nowhere, grabs him, and saves him.  This leads to a touching, heartfelt reunion complete with a passionate kiss as Ayane tells him how happy she is to find out he's alive, and conveniently leaves out the fact that she's spent the whole movie trying to murder his sister.

Oh, and Max manages to unlock the vault with, I kid you not, a sliding block puzzle.  Seriously, I cannot love this movie any more than I already do.

Eric Roberts brings up a holographic display of people he's trying to sell the technology to, including what appears to be General Zod (or an evil, older Wil Wheaton), James Cameron, two guys who think wearing shades on a screen are cool, a guy I have no analogy for, and one of the Lone Gunmen from the X-Files.

Can I just say I love it that a tournament not only has its own island, but apparently its own computer operating system?

Roberts starts downloading (I think you mean "uploading," movie) the software to the buyers (who apparently already made down payments before seeing what it could do or whether it worked), but Weatherby is able to intercept it and halt the transfer.  Not only does he stop it, but the transfer status bar then starts going in reverse.  Weatherby also decides to call in the cavalry by going to the CIA website, which prompts this message to pop up:

That's either a really efficient system, or one that isn't very well thought out.  Wil Wheaton looks concerned as opposed to angry.

Roberts contacts Bayman to get the money from the vault.  While Weatherby tries to free the other fighters, Helena heads to intercept Roberts.  Max, meanwhile, is confronted by Bayman in the vault and taken out in one punch.

Helena stalls Roberts for all of ten seconds before he breezes by her, and Weatherby gets his face smacked into the keyboard (complete with several keys sticking to it when his head gets pulled back up), letting Roberts set up the self destruct sequenc- sorry, the "DOA SELF DESTRUCT."  Yes, the screen actually says that.

Fortunately, Weatherby is able to reach up with the last of his strength and tap two keys, allowing the procedure to unlock the cages to complete.

I'm not going to give a play by play of everything that happens next, except to say that the women all get to fight Eric Roberts, and all the guys wind up fighting Bayman.  The guy fight is kind of dumb, with Bayman beating people up with duffel bags full of cash, but since Bayman's fights so far have consisted of shoes and a single punch, I forgive it.  The fight that the women have against Roberts is a lot more interesting, as he manages to hold his own against all four of them despite their use of CGI ladders and chains to battle him.

However, finally, someone manages to knock the sunglasses off of Roberts, and I busted up laughing at the moment everything went to slow motion and he says, "Oh no."  Really.  Who would've thought that such a technology wouldn't be invincible?  Maybe contact lenses next time, dude.

Oh, and there's an emergency exit that leads to a water slide, and all of the women (and Hayate) need to jump about twenty stories off the side of a bamboo tower to land in the ocean below.  Nobody dies.  Well, except Roberts, who is caught in a fireball after Hayate punches him in the foot (seriously) and Kasumi sticks one of those little needles in his neck to paralyze him.

After everybody hits water, we go back up to the surface to see a boat skipping across the waves containing the pirates from Tina's introduction as they look for salvage/survivors they can pillage.  Unfortunately, the first person they find is a conscious Tina, and I busted out laughing again as they all instantly get "aw, man" expressions on their faces.

Everybody gets on the boat and starts engaging in extensive make-out sessions (except for Tina and Kasumi, which I'm sure made Bass very sad somewhere) as the credits start to roll.  But not before we get a quick montage of shots from earlier in the movie featuring each one of the female leads as if to summarize the movie for anybody who came in late.

Oh, but we get an epilogue!  Apparently the five women all decided to team up to reclaim Kasumi's home at the top of the mountain and now need to fight three hundred ninjas.

Seriously, how did this not get a sequel?

The Good:

This movie is just pure joy.  It doesn't try to be a serious movie, like so many video game themed movies try to be (see: Alone In The Dark, Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil), but also doesn't play things down to the lowest common denominator to make the audience feel like they're being insulted (Street Fighter, Super Mario Bros.).  It knows what reputation the games have, and is willing to just go with it and feature fighting, hot women, and volleyball.

It's also amazingly bright and colorful, making it actually fun to watch instead of dark and gritty like so many movies and games are (see again: Mortal Kombat).  The bamboo forest is vividly green, the rainy beach is bright and colorful, even the fight in the science lab had enough decent lighting that you weren't left trying to figure out what you're watching.

Some of the acting is also much, much better than I expected.  Jaime Pressly as Tina was probably the best casting job the movie did, able to switch between firm adult to her father's daughter ("Not now, Dad!  I'm in my underwear!") at the drop of a hat.  Holly Valance made Christie, a character I formerly wasn't that fond of, into possibly one of my favorites in the film.  She seems to have the most coherent plot and motivation through the whole film besides "kick people in face, repeat step one" and brings a lightness and fun to every scene she's in.  My only regret with her is that she went by her stage name instead of her real name, because this role calls for someone named "Holly Candy."

Natassia Malthe was a pretty decent Ayane, managing to switch from deadly assassin to imputent teenager at the blink of an eye, and considering how other characters were treated, I really didn't mind it so much.  Oh, and there's Eric Roberts, who's great at being Eric Roberts.

The fights are very well choreographed, and considering the cast only really had two professional martial artists in it, everybody did their moves very well.

The Bad:

Man, Devon Aoki was sure bland.  You'd think the person with the biggest emotional stake in the film (and arguably the real main character) wouldn't look like she stayed up all night before and was trying to just keep from falling asleep on her feet while acting.  There's not even any real energy in most of her lines except for her sudden "I have to go!"

Some of the CGI looked a bit cheap.  The flower petals during Weatherby's little fantasy, the chains during the final battle scene, even the volleyball in the volleyball sequences was noticeably fake during a few sequences.

I wasn't that thrilled with Zack, but not enough to begrudge the actor.  He felt mostly like filler, just obnoxious enough to remind you he's in the film, but not obnoxious enough for you to really want to see anything bad happen to him.  They really should have played him up as a total jerk instead of just that guy at the bar who won't take a hint.

Oh, and the cheesecake and exploitation were bit much, but considering the target audience that's like blaming the Final Destination franchise for being too much like a giant Rube Goldberg device.


This movie has enough fun moments between gun sound effects, zany fights, and fun acting that I really do love it.  I can't feel bad about watching this movie at all, which amazed me considering I went in expecting to hate it with every fiber of my being on the basis that I don't really enjoy the games and I expect every video game movie to be as terrible as every other one that came out.

I want to point out that while the cheesecake and exploitation might be extremely high, I honestly think there were more positive role models for women in here than there were for men.  Sure, the female characters get captured at one point, but only after the "biggest, toughest male ninja" has been trapped for a year and the star of Ninja Gaiden got taken out first.  Helena protects Weatherby, Max can't do the robbery without Christie, and Tina earns the respect of her father and of Zack as a woman and a fighter, not just a daughter or a piece of eye candy.

It's really the women who drive the whole plot of the film (what plot there is), they aren't just pushed along by it.  They own every scene they're in, and even when the cheesecake is cranked up to eleven they seem willing to use it, not be defined by it.  Again, the only real nudity I can remember is the side of Christie's chest and Zack's brief full frontal, so I think in the end it might tip a bit in favor of the women.

The storyline could've easily been done more male centric, having it be Hayabusa and Hayate looking for Kasumi, Max keeping Christie around for fun instead of needing her, and...well, okay, you probably wouldn't have worked as well with Bass instead of Tina as the star, but still, that could have been three guys leading instead of four women.

Maybe I need to go back and watch some other video game movies I skipped over, in case they're better than I heard.  I mean, really, how bad could King of Fighters really be?

Friday, April 25, 2014

DOA - Dead Or Alive Review Part 1

I've talked about the Dead or Alive series before.  Well, specifically I talked about the underage seduction simulator with teenage girls almost running around naked while you photograph them beach volleyball series.

You might recall it wasn't very positive.

However, at it's core, Dead or Alive is a fighting game.  A fighting game with a decent control scheme, great graphics, and a learning curve steeper than the world's most sadistic roller coaster.

For the record, this is just "easy mode."
So, surely it as a series is more than just T&A with girls with suspiciously absent ages, right?

Okay, my first question is "how does she sit down?"  But that's clearly not a young girl costume (or it's the Witchblade), and adults always dress in outfits that almost don't exist in these games.  How about a heroic character who's young?

...yeah, I'm done.

Anyway, there's one other major part of the franchise...one that I think most people forgot about.  A live action movie starring that woman from My Name Is Earl and the guy who played Super Shredder from the second Ninja Turtles movie!  How can it possibly go wrong?  Well, let's look at it.

Before I watch any movie, I like to do some research about it.  I like to look at some of the details behind the scenes.  I read the Wikipedia page, I look at IMDB, and I try to learn more about the experience in the hopes it'll help me enjoy it more.  Here's what I learned about this one:

Robin Shou makes a cameo as a pirate.  Robin Shou played Liu Kang in the 1995 film Mortal Kombat and its sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, based on the video game created by Ed Boon.

(As to why that's relevant, the guy who directed the two Mortal Kombat movies is the same guy who directed this)


According to Holly Vance, about forty bikinis were ruined while making this film.

I don't know about you, but I have such high hopes for this.

We start out in the Ishikari Mountains in Japan, where Princess Kasumi is being informed of her brother's  untimely death by his (former?) best friend.  We know this, because he says "as your brother's best friend" at one point in the conversation.  Kasumi vows to find him, not believing he's dead if there's no body, but the BFF begs her not to go because leaving with brand her with the shame of being a "shinobi."

A "shinobi," for those of you not in the know, is a mutant who fought the X-Men and is able to control his own molecular density to phase through things or turn as hard as diamond.  Or it's a ninja.  But apparently this is a ninja training center, so I'm not sure why being a ninja here would be a bad thing.

Oh, but since her brother went out on his own, the clan abandoned him, which begs the question how did they know he was dead if there wasn't a body?  Did one of his enemies send this remote monastary on the top of a mountain tweet out "Killed a ninja prince today.  #thereisnobody #butheisreallydead?"

Anyway, Kasumi starts heading for the door, moving through apparently every guard in the compound before a flash of light momentarily blinds her.  She kicks a sword out of a guard's sheath and spins around with it in time to confront Ayane, who apparently wants to kill her for...reasons?

Her brother's best friend calls out "Princess Kasumi" making everybody kneel, but we also learn that Ayane was in love with Kasumi's brother, and even though Kasumi swears to find him, her leaving leaves Ayane honor bound to kill her.  Ninja relationships are a whole soap opera onto themselves.

We get a great shot here that seems to be lifted directly from a lighter version of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as Kasumi flings her sword across the courtyard into a wall and runs on the backs of kneeling guards to spring off the sword over the wall and....huh, maybe she didn't think this through.

But that's okay, because it's at this point Kasumi sheds her robe to reveal she's wearing a tank top, shorts, and sneakers underneath it, and what at first looked to be a backpack unfolds to be a hang glider.

As she shoots through the sky, a spinning blade arcs behind her, but she's able to snatch it out of midair, where it presents her with an invitation to the DOA tournament.

This is, quite simply, the most amazing opening ever recorded on film.  It's up there with any of the James Bond openings.  You have ninjas, wire-fu stunts, hang gliders, electric guitar riffs at the perfect moments...it's just pure unadulterated fun and it is awesome.

Oh, and there's also a jump-cut showing the events that just happened like you'd get in a video game.  This might be the truest video game to movie transition I've ever seen.

Next up we get a long establishing shot of Tina (Jaime Pressly) emerging from the water in a red, white, and blue bikini onto her yacht so her father can try to talk her into wrestling again in Des Moines.  You know, because she's AMERICAN.  She's even drinking PBR with the logo hidden.  With blue tape.  It's almost surreal that this is the interpretation of an American character created by a Japanese company.

Speaking of Mortal Kombat similarities, Tina's pretty much the movie's Johnny Cage, except instead of being an actor who wants to be taken seriously, she's a wrestler who wants her fighting to be recognized.  So she's like Johnny Cage if Johnny Cage didn't suck.  And was a redneck.

However, trouble comes when some South China Sea pirates arrive to steal her yacht.  They start attempting to "make a deal" with her, but she interrupts with her own deal involving them getting off her boat before she has to hurt them.  After they laugh for a moment, the butt-whooping begins.

Honestly, I'm not a Jaime Pressly fan, but...I like her in this.  Based on what I can find online, she's doing all of her own stunts and apparently regularly engages in kickboxing.  In order to be in the movie Torque she did fight training four hours a day leading up to the shoot.

Again, a spinning batarang blade thingy with an invitation appears, and Tina simply reacts like she was expecting it, leading us to-

I don't know why, but I love the fact that this movie seems to know exactly why people are watching it and aren't bothering with any kind of huge plot that typically gets shoehorned into silly action films.  This is the most exploitative scene I can imagine in a movie that still needs to maintain a PG-13 rating.  You have the criminal distracting the male cops (one of whom is American in Hong Kong because of reasons), you have the suitcase with the hidden pouch that I swear takes up most of the suitcase itself, you have a shot where the woman kicks a gun (and bra) into the air where they twirl in slow motion while she beats up everyone in the room, and you have that cute little moment where she makes the male cop clasp her bra onto her so you have something for the trailer.

She smacks a guy in the face with her towel, and you see him fly backward like he just got punched by Rocky.  It's just awesome.

This movie makes no apologies for what it is, and I can't fault it for that one bit.

She even follows a guy into the elevator wearing just her underwear and stuffs him into his own suitcase to steal his hat and trench coat so she can escape a hotel lobby unnoticed.  She jumps onto a motorcycle and takes off (with one more gratuitous butt shot) so that the spinny invitation blade can embed itself in the mini windshield.

I really have to give this scene credit.  It is completely gratuitous, but whoever handled the cinematography earned their paycheck making sure it remained "sexy" while keeping everything in place to avoid losing that PG-13 rating.  You get some substantial side-boob, but that's about it.

Unfortunately, we don't get any more invitation scenes because I swear I could just watch a movie of nothing but those and wait for the actual plot for the sequel.  Instead we jump to a short scene where Ayane is tasked with killing Kasumi because she left the temple (though, Ayane's leaving the temple causes no problems?).  Ayane listens to this while smacking a chalk-covered Tootsie Roll Pop against her sword a few times and then wiping the dust off.  For ninja reasons, I guess.

That scene over with, we jump to an airplane taking all the fighters to their destination, and we get to be introduced to a bunch of the other characters, such as opera singer Helena-

I mean, um, teenage roller blading bikini wearing DOA tournament spokeswoman Helena.  That's rather disappointing.  Let's look at the rest of our cast.

This...is the biggest disappointment this movie has delivered so far.  You have two characters based on Dennis Rodman and Hulk Hogan down to the funky hair and the red bandanna.  You even had Dennis Rodman voice the character of Zack in at least one game that I know of, but instead here you get what looks like bald Eddie Murphy.  Plus, instead of getting Hulk Hogan to play Bass, so you just slapped a blond wig and red banana onto Kevin Nash?  What were the two doing that they couldn't leave to come star in a movie?

We get some slight banter where Zack hits on Tina (in front of her dad!), Kasumi confronts a ninja who's following her (Ryu Hayabusa of Ninja Gaiden fame), and Christie confronts her (former?) partner Max played by Matthew "not related to James" Marsden.

Helena appears on the screen again to say she has a special surprise for everybody.  In order to compete, they have to jump from the plane and get to the compound before nightfall or they're disqualified.  Because I guess you really do want the best of the best to be involved in this, and if they can't follow simple Boy Scout learning, what good are they?

Each fighter jumps from the plane (though I notice that when the door springs open nobody's hair moves even a bit from all the wind that must be flooding the chamber), and Christie, Tina, and Kasumi all wind up at the base of some weird tower that they have to scale, eventually figuring out that they need to work together to reach the top before they're disqualified.  They're greeted by a still rollerblading Helena (seriously, out of everything else in this, a combat-oriented opera singer was too much?), and lead to Default Movie Bad Guy #17, aka Eric Roberts.

He explains that DOA was created by Helena's father as her the instructions from his will, and since Helena just turned 21, she's required (by the will, I guess?) to participate.  That's ... convenient for the plot.  Also weird, but we'll move on.

The fighters are given complete physicals, giving us a chance to learn everybody else in the tournament.  And I swear this is a) an attempt to get all the women into their underwear again, and b) a way to remind people that "hey, this is a video game, here's your character select screen."

The whole thing is also done to Bodyrockers' I Like The Way You Move so that's a thing.  I'm not sure about the significance, but whatever.

You also get a moment of watching Eric Roberts and some guy named Weatherby leer at the women (particularly Helena and Tina).  They're watching while each contestant gets nanobots injected into their bloodstream to act as tracking devices because that sounds totally legit and not something they should be leery of.  At all.  Especially not if being told to do it by Eric Roberts.

Day one of the tournament begins, and we get a montage of each fighter training (jump kicks, swift punches, beating up a punching bag, and in the case of Helena...lots of roller skating.  I guess she studied the Airborne school of combat.)

This is how amazing this movie is.  There's a giant computer system tracking and broadcasting each of the fights so all the people who ... you know, I don't know exactly why there's a lot of other people there who aren't fighters, but anyway they get to watch all of the fights streamed live as they happen.  The screens even have HEALTH BARS for the fighters because...I don't know, science or something.

Anyway, the fights can happen any time any where, and the only sign the fighters get is a special wrist watch will broadcast a picture of the person they're supposed to fight.  A lot of the people we don't care about at all get eliminated quickly (Jann Lee?  Eliot? Brad Wong?), and I also want to point out that it's pretty great that when someone wins, the actual announcer from the games declares them to be the winner.

After some quick fight scenes that are surprisingly paced really well and have some neat tricks in them, we jump to Kasumi who suddenly decides now is the time to remember a moment when her brother totally murdered a group of guys who kidnapped her and received his own invitation to a DOA tournament.  It's a pretty big jump considering we know she's a highly skilled combatant and is now reduced to the role of "princess in peril."  She then confronts Eric Roberts about the death of her brother, and he walks her out to the giant Buddha head statue from before and says that a guy named Leon (who apparently won last year and is back again this year?) kicked him off the cliff there.

Fun fact, you can do that to someone in the game.  In fact, a few of the fight scenes seem familiar, like they're based on actual fight arenas.

Kasumi decides to comfort herself with a bath filled with rose petals while Ryu Hayabusa sits guard outside her room.  She tells him that she thinks Eric Roberts lied about her brother, and he tells her that Ayane is skulking around somewhere.  We also check in to see Christie plot with Max (the guy who abandoned her in Hong Kong) to steal a hundred million from Roberts before hooking up for the night and Zack try to charm Tina with equal parts charm and creep.

Roberts decides to send Leon after Kasumi to see how he does compared to her brother, but before he can get there, Ayane smashes through her mirror to attempt to kill her.  It's one of the more blatant CGI moments in the film so far, plus I'm not really sure why half the mirror shattered and the other half didn't until Ayane strikes it again.

It's a short fight, but is interrupted when Leon smashes through the door to beat up Kasumi.  Ayane quickly splits, and Kasumi and Leon's fight spills through the wall into Christie's bedroom, and then she kicks him out the window to interrupt Tina and Zack.

There's a few weird things here.  The first is that there's clearly a "no weapons" rule but several objects get flung at each other.second is that Tina apparently has x-Ray vision, because she's able to perfectly time moving Zack into position, convince him to close his eyes so she can remove his trunks, and then climb out so that Leon almost falls on him.

It's also surprising that we're allowed to get a full shot of Zack's junk but they've worked so hard to keep the women's nudity covered up.  I guess I should be glad Dennis Rodman wasn't in this, because that's something I've never needed to see and still don't need.  Or want.

Of course, all of the awkwardness is balanced out by how goofy and fun it is that when Leon flexes, you hear a gun cock.  It's just so perfect.  Oh, and the battle music is pretty great, too.

Christie, now without a room because of the fight, bunks up with Tina just in time for her chance to sleep AGAIN be interrupted because the hosts figured a father/daughter fight would be appropriate and Bass kicked the door down.  This leads to a WACKY misunderstanding where Bass thinks Tina and Christie are lesbians, but it's pretty great how Bass just becomes instantly accepting of it ("Christie?  Tina's full name is CHRIS-Tina!").  Christie and Tina have some fun screen time together as Christie makes fun of Tina and Tina gets more and more flustered.

There's a puzzling moment, though, where Christie indicates she's naked under the sheets, but when Tina kicks her out of bed, she has her underwear on.  Like I said, Zack's junk is fine, but Christie's front is taboo?

The next scene is...well, it's kind of weird.  Bayman confronts Max and Max...well, let's just say it involves two flying shoes and is desperately missing the sad trombone sound from The Price Is Right and leave it at that.

We cut to the next morning where Kasumi is applying some acupuncture needles to Tina when Bass shows up again, and once again immediately assumes the worst best wrong thing ("Does Christie know about you two?").  Tina challenges him to a fight on a bamboo raft, first one in the water loses, and Bass responds by jumping on and sending Kasumi flying up to a water wheel where she lands delicately and just starts calmly walking because ninja.

Tina and Bass duke it out, with Bass actually keeping Tina from falling in because, well, she's his little girl, and I really get the sense he really just wants to be sure she wants to go through with it.  Once she knocks him into the water, he emerges giving her a thumbs up.  It's...kinda sweet.

And after that, it's time for beach volleyball.

I'm serious when I ask this, why did this movie not become a smash hit in the theaters?

Of course, the beach volleyball is just a way to distract everybody on the island so that Ryu Hayabusa can infiltrate Eric Roberts' complex and ninja-kick everybody he sees into submission in order to find out the truth about Kasumi's brother.  Unfortunately, the tournament sputters out when a ninja star arcs through the air and punctures the volleyball, causing it to land in Kasumi's hands.

Kasumi immediately says, in the most non-emotive voice I've ever heard, "I must go" and takes off.  I'm not sure if I was supposed to be laughing at this scene, but I did.

Oh, and Hayabusa gets captured as he tries to infiltrate a lab.

Kasumi confronts Ayane in a bamboo forest (because a forest fight scene was so good in Mortal Kombat they felt the need to do it again), but Kasumi manages to get the best of Ayane with a move involving a bamboo pole that I'm not sure is actually possible, and then Ayane runs when Tina, Christie, and Helena come to find Kasumi.

The fight scene, like all of the fight scenes, are a lot of fun, but I'm really starting to notice that the actress who plays Kasumi never really seems to express any kind of emotion unless she's smiling coyly at Hayabusa.  Maybe it's just her, but I always get the feeling she's being really impassive and almost going through the motions during every scene.

Back at the party, while Bitter:Sweet's The Mating Game plays in the background, Super Creep Weatherby shows up to try to put the moves on Helena.  There's a brief flash in his imagination of how it will go, complete with that music that ALWAYS plays when two people spot each other and fall in love and even a whole bunch of CG rose petals swirling around them.

Have I mentioned yet that this movie does not care at all what you think about it?

I guess Weatherby is supposed to represent the viewer/player of a lot of these styles of games.  He's awkward, shy, and nervous around women, he thinks that kissing their hand in greeting is actually charming because that's what nice guys do, and he somehow thinks that telling a pretty girl about his family heritage when they first meet is charming.  Granted, he's not unattractive, but he's a movie nerd, where obviously a guy who can clean up pretty well nerded himself up for the role.

And yet, Helena seems to dig it.  Go figure.

Zack again tries to put the moves on Tina, but she responds with kicking him in the face into a turntable (providing the obligatory record scratch) because his image just appeared on her "time to fight" watch.  And here...here is where Zack proves why Zack is Zack and you are not.

He actually manages to make Tina feel bad that she's picking a fight during a party on and island devoting to a fighting tournament when the two of them were just told to fight and the circumstances say a fight can happen at any time.  But how dare she ruin the party for all of the other people.

You know, having the "fights happen at random times" thing is cool, and all, but if the fighters can just decide "oh, hey, it's our turn...nah, let's do it tomorrow" it rather defeats the purpose.

So we're through with about the first half of the movie and this post is getting pretty long, so come back tomorrow (hey, I promised five posts this week) as I wrap up part two of this film.  Primary characters fight each other!  Will Weatherby get to hook up with a "just became legal to drink" roller-blader?  Will Max and Christie steal the loot?  Will Bass be willing to walk his daughter down the aisle when she decides between a platinum blond thief or a blue-clad ninja?  Will Eric Roberts chew the living daylights out of some scenery?

You can bet the answer to the last one is a resounding yes.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Let's Talk: Unemployment

Today I finally got a job, after hunting and searching for the past four months.  It's a huge weight off my shoulders, and there's one particular individual I have to thank because he worked to get me an interview at his company.  You know who you are, man.  Thanks.

But thinking about it through the day and knowing that a lot of people out there are either losing or have lost their job, there's a few things I wanted to share about my experience that I hope others will be able to use to their advantage.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ask Erik Episode Sixty-One

I haven't really done an Ask Erik that was a bit personal, but fortunately today a question dropped into my lap that I'm happy to answer.

To Erik: What do you like for music, like your top twenty?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review: Deadlight

As part of their effort to hold on to people starting to realize that they might be getting more content per their dollar with Sony, Microsoft started the "Games With Gold" program, allowing a game to go free for two weeks (fifteen days-ish) that anybody with a Gold account can have for free.

The only problem is that while Sony's system tends to bring in games that are still relevant, Microsoft seems just willing to skim games that are several years old or Xbox Arcade games that they must feel not enough people cared about.

That isn't to say none of their games in this are good.  I've just found myself more often than not downloading the games just so the system shows "paid" and I can get it in the future if the mood strikes me.

The newest game to become free to download is "Deadlight," a remnant from an old Summer of Arcade event featuring zombies that don't go under the name "zombie" because some worlds apparently don't have the word in their vocabulary and have to make up new ones.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Let's Talk: Kids. They Have No Respect For The Apocalypse

I'm going to do my best to think of every movie or television series I can that's involved civilization crumbling and law no longer really being relevant.  These are the post-apocalypse worlds that filled the 80s and 90s that I still think back to fondly.

The Running Man
Mad Max
Escape From New York
Independence Day
Escape From L.A.
The Matrix
Tank Girl
Logan's Run
Soylent Green
Planet of the Apes
Night of the Living Dead (the original)
Thundarr The Barbarian

You know what something I distinctively remember about those movies and shows is?  When people live in a dirt-filled post-apocalyptic landscape, they tended to look like they lived in that kind of landscape.  Nobody was too "pretty."

Well, almost nobody.
Suddenly, around the turn of the century, this all changed.  Now, the only way you can tell who's going to survive the end of the world is based on who the most attractive people are, and I, for one, am still trying to figure out why this is so.

The Absolute Worst Thing There Is

Everybody knows that there's disturbing stuff on the Internet.  I used to tell people about it casually with the tag line "I browse the Internet so you don't have to."  It's how I learned about so many things that I've had to work extra hard to try and bury in the furthest recesses of my mind.  But there is something out there so horrifying on so many levels I felt that I had to talk about it.

It's a game.  A free to play game.  A free to play game about abusing women physically, sexually, and emotionally.  For FUN.

It's called Sex Gangsters, and I'm not posting any pictures because there are no safe pictures.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ask Erik Episode Sixty

Here at Ask Erik, we treat every question with the respect it deserves, and would never dare to cross any line that would leave us looking either racist, sexist, or any other kind of "-ist."  Now, with that in mind:

To Erik: What would it take for a woman to lose her "woman card" like how a guy can lose his "man card?"

I am so doomed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Superior Spider-Man

I'm all for a good redemption story.  I have several stories completely fleshed out in my mind where really lame super villains accidentally become heroes, earn the ire of the rest of their super villain community members, and have to start defending themselves all while the public starts to embrace them.  The best part is, with clever writing, there's really no type of villain you couldn't do this kind of story with.  They've had Magneto become a member of the X-Men multiple times now.  Dr. Doom served with the Fantastic Four.  Hawkeye, Black Widow, Wonder Man, Rogue, Emma Frost, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, The Swordsman, Captain Marvel (the space alien one, not the kid who becomes an adult, the woman who turns into light, or the woman who has the powers of the space alien one), Vision, and most of the early Thunderbolts all started out as villains but earned their heroic stripes.  Granted, it's harder to do with unrepentant killers, but hey, Magneto pulled it off.

You could easily tell a similar story with villains ranking all the way up from Ultron (oh wait, there was a good one once already) or Kang (oh, right, Iron Lad) down to some d-grade shlub like Batroc Ze Leapair, the Shocker, Stilt-Man, or Dr. Sun.

Okay, maybe not Dr. Sun.

However, when they do this kind of story at the expense of a hero's story or as a gimmick, I always feel a bit offended.  It's like the company is just trying to think of excuses to say "BUT WITH A TWIST" or just jerk people around when you know that, in the long run, the story just won't matter.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Review: Muppets Most Wanted

There's a line in the opening song from Muppets Most Wanted that struck me as peculiar to hear at the start of a movie like this:

"We're doing a sequel / That's what we do in Hollywood / And Everybody Knows / The Sequel's Never Quite As Good"

Now, I've written this review out in my mind several dozen times since I've seen the movie, and I always seem to start with those two sentences and then get stuck, because where do you go from there?  Honestly, I'm not sure if including that line in the film makes the movie incredibly self-aware or if it's simply the studio attempting to set expectations early because it knew that the last Muppets movie being so brilliant was partly due to the writing, cast, and acting, but also because 1992 is a nostalgia-blowing long time ago and it was the last time we had a proper Muppet movie.

Yes, I know those came out in 1996 and 1999, what's your point?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Epic Science Fiction Films You Can Watch While On Break At Work

There's no better way to kill a joke than to make it drag out too long.  We all know that guy, the one who thinks he's about to tell the funniest story ever told, but then bogs it down with unnecessary details.

"Okay, so the guy with the sombrero goes into the bar, and- oh, did I mention he's wearing cowboy boots?  Yeah, it's important.  Real cowboy boots.  Anyway, the bar's one of those old time Western taverns, with the swinging doors and all that, which is why he's wearing cowboy boots.  So anyway, the woman looks at him and says, "What's with the corvid?"  You know, corvids, that bird family that has jays, crows, and ravens.  They're all in a family called "corvidae" and-"

I tend to refer to this as the Seth Macfarlane rule, since I tend to use it based on those skits that drag on forever in Family Guy.

This isn't an animated gif, the joke is STILL GOING ON.

Science fiction can be just as guilty as comedy.  Let people see the technology or world too long, and they start to notice all of the flaws.  The plot holes start to pile up, and you get left wondering things like "Hey, why didn't they revoke Tom Cruise's clearance in Minority Report after he was suspected of future murder?"  or "Wait a minute, what happened to the terrorists in Back to the Future?"

So here's a few really great sci-fi short films that manage to (almost) perfectly provide their own little world while being both incredibly entertaining and leaving you wanting more.  Strong language warning for the last one, by the way.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ask Erik Episode Fifty-Nine

Here at Ask Erik, we're always willing to dive into the obscure facts from our past and provide a (hopefully) unique outlook at the things you want to know about.

To Erik:  Ultimate Warrior.  Go.

Man.  If this story doesn't somehow become a movie in the next thirty years, I'll be flabbergasted.

When I was young, and wrestlers wore outfits even more racist outlandish than they do now, you had clearly divided lines telling you who was good, who was bad, and you could typically tell which was which just by their outfits and gimmicks.

Hulk Hogan wore red and yellow and was everybody's hero.  The Undertaker had a name connected with death, so he was obviously evil.  George Steele acted like a beast and had more back hair than Robin Williams, so he was evil.

Now, for some reason every international wrestler I can think of was also evil.  Yokozuna, Iron Sheik, and even the Mountie (those dastardly Canadians!) we're all heels.

The Ultimate Warrior, on the other hand, was always a bit of a puzzle to me.  I could never tell if he was supposed to be a hero or not (he had a regular feud with Rick Rude, but would also antagonize Hulk Hogan), and while he got played up quite a bit with huge (and I mean HUGE) industry pushes, he never really seemed to reach the same level of stardom as a lot of the other big names.

He was also notorious for being difficult and unpleasant to work with, didn't have a lot of stamina to keep his matches going too long (look back at some of his fights, you can clearly see him run out of steam and need his opponent to do the heavy lifting), and made absolutely no sense when he did promos or speeches (see: destrucity)...and yet he was insanely popular.  The man had charisma dripping from him, had a unique and distinctive style, and was memorable in all the right ways.

Now, I don't know the whole story about why the Warrior had his falling out with the various wrestling organizations, but this past weekend he finally was inducted into the wrestling hall of fame and got to give a pretty great speech.  It seemed a lot of bad blood was put in the past (even if it was just for the sake of the show) and it seemed a key figure in wrestling history was finally getting his proper recognition.

And on Tuesday, he died.

It's really hard to explain the kind of role he played in my life, since I was always more of a Hulk Hogan fan.  However, I did read his bizarre comic, and I've watched some of his public speaking speeches (which are often just as unintelligible as anything else), and while he may have been a bit off, I find it both strangely poetic and very tragic that he would die that quickly after getting his recognition.

In a way, it's nice he got to go out on such a public high note, but I do wish he could have had the time to enjoy it.  It's better than getting a posthumous bit of recognition, but still....I wish he could've been around to receive all the accolades he deserved.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Young Avengers

Okay, so some of my more astute readers (if there are any regular ones) might have noticed I haven't done a Carmen Sandiego episode in some time.  There's a reason for this.

It's really boring.

It's not that the stories aren't fun or that there isn't interesting stuff happening, it's just feeling a bit formulaic when I type "Carmen steals someone, gets foiled at the last minute" again and again.  I'm looking at trying to punch it up, but for now it's on a temporary hiatus while I put some polish back on it.

So instead let's talk teen superheroes.  I've touched on this a little before, but I think it's worth going into further.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Worst Promotion Ever. Of All Time.

Every now and again, a company tries to promote something.  Maybe it's a new dish at a restaurant (perhaps one so manly women simply can't handle it), or a sweepstakes, or simply an attempt to raise awareness of an issue.  Sometimes the advertisements are incredibly effective, sometimes they just seem to be rushed out, and sometimes you wonder what the hell they were thinking.

For instance, just recently Chili's was going to do a promotion for autism awareness by raising funds for the National Autism Association.  Sounds good, right?  Well, they didn't realize that right on the company's website is a statement declaring that vaccinations cause autism.  When the CDC contacts you asking to reconsider, it's probably time to think that maybe you screwed up.

To their credit, Chili's dropped the promotion.

Now, there are worse promotions...and now we're going to look at the worst I've ever seen.

Ever.  For all time.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

I don't envy a script writer for a Marvel movie.  I honestly cannot imagine the pressure of writing a story that has to not only stand on its own as a solid movie, but must also fit in with an increasingly interconnected universe that has Asgardian gods, giant green behemoths, and men flying in their own personal armor suits.  Also, it not only has to appease people who have never picked up a comic book in their lives (or haven't read one in years) and people who still follow the story lines on a weekly basis.

With that in mind, I feel that Captain America: The Winter Soldier somehow managed to be both one of Marvel's best works at constructing a story that fits in the universe it lives in as well as one of the stories that also feels the most restricted by being based in a comic book universe.  I'll explain further.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Obvious Stall Tactic

I'm still ruminating on the second Captain America movie.   So for now, enjoy this image:

Ah, good times.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ask Erik: Episode Fifty-Eight

I thought I'd dig around in my question bin.  There's a question I've been meaning to answer, I just had to do some research before I wanted to state anything as fact.

Because here at Ask Erik, if we don't have our integrity, we have nothing.

To Erik:  What are the worst superhero tie-ins you've ever seen?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Two Favorite April Fools Day Events This Year

I've never really been a huge fan of April Fool's Day.  I never really knew people I felt 100% comfortable doing pranks myself, mostly because I wasn't sure just how far to take the joke.  

However, I love the jokes done by websites and television shows.  These are my two favorite from this year.