Alien3 – Rediscovering a Masterpiece

The Aliens franchise is one of the longer running and most interesting scifi properties out there. It spans 4 dedicated films, 2 spin-offs, 1 pseudo prequel, hundreds of comics, a plethora of games, books, toys and more! When I saw Aliens I became an instant fan and never let go. My fandom went so far that my college film thesis was even on Alien (and a little on Aliens).

Most fans of the franchise focus only on Alien (Ridley Scott) and Aliens (James Cameron) and discard Alien3 (David Fincher) and Alien: Resurrection (Jean-Pierre Jeunet). After reading a few articles and rewatching the movie again, I’ve found new excitement around Alien3 and think you might too!

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Movie Review – Indie Game

Watch Indie Game: The Movie Online | Netflix.

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I just recently watched Indie Game: The Movie (which is streaming now on Netflix). The movie follows the creators of 3 of the most amazing indie games through their final phases of development. The games they focus on are Fez (Phil Fish) , Super Meat Boy (designer Edmund McMillen and programmer Tommy Refenes) and Braid (Jonathan Blow).

The movie was one of the first films to be born on Kickstarter – which is also an achievement as well.

If you are interested in learning more about what it takes to make an independent game, the type of crazy and insanity that can come from it, or just a window into the minds of creators and developers, this is worth checking out. It is raw and emotional. Tears are shed and death threats are liberally handed out. It is also a worthwhile viewing for anyone who wants to create, who is creating, who wants to understand the mind of creators. Films and Big Budget Games are made by huge teams but independent games (and books) are created by very few people. It can be a very isolating and insular activity that is libel to have impacts – which this movie clearly demonstrates.

Once you are done watching this, if you haven’t, make sure to listen to the soundtrack for free on Bandcamp: http://jimguthrie.bandcamp.com/album/indie-game-the-movie-soundtrack

Lastly, if you haven’t played these games, they are available on Xbox and PC/Steam for very reasonable prices.

Stranger in a Strange Land – Boys, Girls and Gender Equality

If you have children you may begin to have conversations around the differences between boys and girls. Not physically but with the toys they like, the colors they prefer, the games they tend to play, the clothes they wear, how they act. It is inevitable as a parent to have these conversations as our children try and find their own space in the world and learn what it means to be part of a larger community outside of their immediate family. But what do you do when you hear sexist remarks creep into your preschooler’s mouth?

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Movie Review – Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Are you interested in watching a boring, played-out, derivative horror movie? I wasn’t either … but that was exactly what I got when I recently watched Guillermo del Toro’s remake of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. It seems that I have reached the bottom of my horror movie well and run out of worthwhile options. Check out my spoiler-filled thoughts below…

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Movie Review – Resident Evil: Retribution

Let’s start this off with an admission – I enjoy the Resident Evil movies.

Run, Milla, RUN!

I have rarely been able to watch a movie for simply popcorn value. There are few that I have enjoyed for simply the rollercoaster value of the story. Stories that get me excited usually have well-developed worlds, complex and intelligent characters, and unique stories. Some action movies can have these elements but they can get pushed aside or buried in all the eye-splosions.

I am also a huge fan of horror movies. Almost everything gets a chance except for torture porn. Never really found a purpose in it. The ones that are the most interesting are the ones with malevolent spirits, zombies, or horrific situations. Monster movies rarely pay off. Perhaps I’ll share my top list at some point.

With that out there – I fully acknowledge that the Resident Evil movies barely contains what I usually look for in good movies. It isn’t horror (anymore), the world is complex (through its convolutedness), and the characters are all one-dimensional (except for Alice who might actually have had an interesting character journey).

And yet – there are very few movies that blend all the elements that Resident Evil movies seem capable of doing. Since it exists so far outside of normal rules it seems capable of stretching believe-ability much further than other action movies.

I have been a fan of the Resident Evil movies since the first one came out in 2002. My exposure to the video games was fairly limited so I was able to enjoy the movies without a lot of passion for the series. I knew of various plotlines and some of the characters but as most movies deviate I wasn’t concerned. In college I was able to play about an hour of the original Resident Evil game on PlayStation and later played and won the remake on Nintendo GameCube. The games were complex and interesting with suspense, horror, action, mystery and surprise all rolled into one unique package. The only other one that I played was Resident Evil 4, which introduced the zombie strain of Las Plagas, which plays a dominant role in Resident Evil: Retribution.

Spoiler free comments to follow…

Resident Evil: Retribution is the 5th and most painful addition to the movie franchise. In the grand scheme of things this segment contributes almost nothing to the series. Characters long since dead are re-introduced, new characters are added with minimal background, and continuing characters feel included as fan service for this chaotic menagerie. There are entire sequences, using 3D holographic displays, that fly through the complex as if it were an actual video game. The characters literally have to go through zones, complete objectives, and then move on to the next zone. It felt like an odd reboot of “Running Man” more than a Resident Evil movie. It was also like the old-school game “Smash TV” – a game about a contestant who goes from room to room in an attempt to survive and win the game show. Once I put that layer onto the movie, it became much more enjoyable to watch the senseless and plot-less actions on the screen.

The action sequences were over the top with the odds being 1:50+ in many scenarios – and the bad guys unable to hit anything. And who are the good guys fighting against this time? The well-known zombies of past installments are gone and replaced with predominately big “boss” style monsters that continue to plague the characters. Let’s not forget that there are zombies that now wield guns and drive cars and tanks. Not really sure how to explain that one away in any reasonable way.

And typical of the end of each Resident Evil movie, this one ends with yet another cliffhanger. The entire movie ends up feeling like a setup for the next one. Paul Anderson says that if this one does well that the next one will be the final installment. I hope that this one does just well enough so that we can finally wrap this story up – but it saddens me that in order to get the completion of the story that I have enjoyed – I have to give them money for this. Bummer.

If you do end up liking the broader Resident Evil universe, there are a few cool anime movies that are worth checking out:
Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008)
Resident Evil: Damnation (2012)

I wonder what will fill the void once these are gone. Have you heard about anything coming our way that sounds just as exciting? The World War Z movie has been having some issues but looks promising!