Goldfinger (PG-13)

So if Goldeneye is the classic James Bond among video games, Goldfinger is the classic James Bond among film. Here's where we get classics like "Do you expect me to talk?" "No Mr. Bond I expect you to die!", the laser table, the bowler hat-slinging Oddjob, the gold-painted girl, and the plot that was parodied countless times including an episode of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show. There are a couple scenes that are a little hard to swallow like when the planes are spraying the nerve gas and the soldiers on the ground instantly fall down because apparently this gas is super dense and isn't affected by wind (yes, I know the soldiers were falling for an entirely different reason, I finished watching it. But come on), but as an older James Bond it doesn't take itself as serious as Goldeneye, and the pacing is much more consistent.

And no flashbacks to agonizing video game levels, either!


Blaster Master (NES via Flash Cart, Wii Virtual Console)

And what better way to try to wash the taste of my newly aquired most despised game out of my mouth and get myself back into gaming than going through my favorite game for the umpteenth time. Blaster Master is not just a game I think is really good; Blaster Master is a core part of who I am. I've practically been playing it my whole life (I'm only two years older than it), and it's done a lot to me from influencing my art style and taste in music to defining me as the gamer I am today, and you can take that to mean "jaded curmudgeon" if you like. And hell, after all these years and replays, I still get giddy when I beat the game.

And even after replaying it so many times over so many years I'm still discovering new things, and not just by exploring the non-boss dungeons for a change. I never knew how to deal with Skelevenom without a fully powered gun or running up and grenading him and hoping he died before I did, and I figured out it's easier to attack the sixth boss with a fully powered gun from the side. I also don't think I ever knew that the frog bosses aren't meant to quickly fly off the screen and come back down, it just looked that way because I keep the fight towards the top of the screen.

But let's address the big question now: "Codie, how can you how go around blasting other games with shit stories while you let Blaster Master get away with this crap about the frog?" Because Blaster Master isn't about its story any more than Flight of the Valkyries is about its lyrics. It sets the stage then throws you into the game world to get your ass kicked, and if anything only adds to the surreal atmosphere of the game. But if you are going to make your music about the lyrics or your game about the story, then said lyrics and story are ripe for criticism.

On my first attempt, I fired the game up on my flash cart because my real copy is halfway across the country right now. I made it to the final boss, even managed to destroy his shield, but he ultimately made me into his little laser-S&M bitch. When I gave the game another go I did it on the Wii Virtual Console. Blaster Master is a very hard game to screw up, but the Virtual Console version isn't the ideal way to play it unless you really have no alternative. The colors are darker, which is most noticable in the second area where many of the backgrounds look solid black. There's even worse slowdown in some places, sometimes enemies just vanish without an explosion when killed, and the flashing when you enter a boss room is completely wrong. Also, there's a glitch in the original game where if you "ping" the sixth boss enough the music might change (I imagine it works on others, but it's easiest to do on that one). Well, on the Virtual Console version the music changed more easily, and in fact changed twice in one battle (yeah, I died twice to the motherfucker). I also had the notch by the hole you feed the wriststrap through jabbing middle finger the whole time, which yeah, could have been fixed with the Wiimote sleeve, but I don't like using it when I'm holding the controller horizontal.


RED 2 (R)

I haven't seen the first RED movie, so that could very well be a big part of why I spent the entire movie wondering WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON. Characters double and triple cross each other like a hydrophobic chicken on the road of a Frogger game, and after spending the entire movie trying to avoid the Korean assassin Bruce Willis starts pleading him as if they already knew each other, and maybe they did in the last film? At first I thought the Korean assassin whacking somebody with origami (yes, a piece of folded paper) was supposed to show how deadly he was and the old woman dumping bodies into acid was supposed to be completely psychotic, but after the assassin mows down a city block with a minigun while screaming about his plane and then the old woman showed up with a sniper rifle in an army uniform, I guess the first two scenes were supposed to be jokes?

And okay, it's based on a comic book, so it can get away with being a little goofy. But absurdity aside, the story moved like a bad video game plot, with most of the movie spent on characters going through random characters and locations trying to figure out what they were supposed to dealing with in the first place. And surprise, it's something that could have and should have been left alone!


There's an Owl in the Shower (Jean Craighead George)

I picked this up because of the hilarious title, and got another in a long line of progress vs. environment stories that fails to give a realistic answer to the problem. Look, I'm all for protecting forests and irreplacable species, but if you seriously think you can end the debate with a 126-page children's book that basically says people who make a living harvesting natural resources should learn to love wildlife and find an eco-friendly job and we can all go home, guess again.

I'm trying not to get too infuriated with that message as the author seems to be more ignorant that malicious. And since it is a children's book some simplification is necessary, and much I'm opposed to condescending children I'm not for boring the hell out of them either, and I can see why Mrs. George wouldn't want to dump a bunch of statistics and economic bullhonkey on them. Besides, the book seemed to be more interested in educating children on owls than telling a story. Characters talk like robots programmed to speak excerpts from a biology textbook, and the text is just as inorganic, if not moreso. One such example was when the owl twisted its head "145 degrees left, then right". Yeah, in a book on birds it would be acceptable to say an owl can twist its head 145 degrees, and maybe show that in a diagram. But in a novel, I stopped dead trying to picture how far around 145 degrees is. "Well, 90 degrees is directly to the side, and 180 degree is facing backwards. And 135 in halfway between the two, so 145 would be a little beyond that?" Just say the owl twisted its head "almost all the way around" or something.

Also, in the same way I think movies and video games should think twice about having an anti-technology message, I find it a tad hypocritical for a book to condemn the wood-cutting industry. Or do you think all those trees are just being thrown into a big fire, Mrs. George?


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows w/ RiffTrax Audio (PG-13)

Very little has changed from the last few Harry Potter films (hammy acting, dodgy CGI, your ability to understand what the hell is going is supposed to be going on depending on you having already read the books, being based on terrible books to begin with) but despite the Riffers' comments about it being out of place, I actually liked the animation for the story about the three brothers. As for the commentary itself, my favorite joke was the one about the Hogwarts dancing class being taught by Elaine Benes, and I'm glad I'm not the only person who thought the symbol of the Deathly Hallows looked like the Triforce.


Sharknado (Streaming Video, Unrated)

The modern Star Wars Holdiay Special, everybody! Fun to joke about, but torture to actually watch. Except for a couple laughable special effects like a woman getting sucked out a window by a tornado and an exploding swimming pool (I guess people in Hollywood fill their pools with nitroglycerin?) it wasn't even over-the-top bad, just unbelievably dull. I feel like I'd be shooting fish in a barrel to make any critical observations on the unlikable characters, laughable special effects, and nonexistent logic since they were all on purpose, so I'll just lay down my normal criticism for stuff like this: deliberately awful is still awful.


Fire with Fire (R)

So maybe RED 2 was intentionally over the top, but I don't think that was supposed to be the case here. I imagine they only cast Bruce Willis in the movie so they could put his face on the box, but he contributes very little to the movie. It's actually about Josh Duhamel as a firefighter put into the witness protection program who ends up becoming a muderous monster to get at a murderous monster oh ho I see what you did there!

Well, he's doing it to protect his girlfriend to protect his girlfriend from a Neo Nazi, but I found hard to care not just because she has the personality of a couple of owls, but because at the beginning of the film she takes a sniper bullet to the face and not only survived, but walks away with only "superficial" wounds, so what the hell was the Neo Nazi going to do to her? Characters either act unrealistically (the cops didn't think the accompany Duhamel into the storage garage? Or wonder why he was taking so long? Or at least seal all the exits? If not to make sure Duhamel didn't run for it, but to make sure he wasn't going to attacked again?) or to beat the "fighting fire with fire" metaphor over your head like when Duhamel takes a hammer and chisel and starts whacking a guy's fingers off. Finally the villain takes a fireaxe-tomahawk to the chest and gets shot out a window, and the movie ends with Bruce Willis' side of the story being made even more meaningless.

And Mr. Director Who Isn't Reading This, please understand slow-mo "NOOO!" scenes only elict laughter. Also, I can't remember if this was Fire with Fire or RED 2 and haven't been able to find it while skimming either movie, but one of them had a scene with a bystander wearing a blue shirt and a green cap. Yeah, I think I'm going to extend my rule about not doing that with sprites to all humans.