Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: NBA Jam

I recently purchased the new NBA Jam game for my XBOX 360 and was not disappointed.  The game brought back instant memories of my times as a kid playing the original game on my Sega Genesis in the basement of my dad's old house.  This game has always been one of my favorites and I couldn't resist picking it up as soon as I found our a new version of the game had been released. While playing the game hearing the old saying "He's heating up" and "He's on fire" and "Boomshakalaka!" brought that instant nostalgia feeling to me.

The game brings you over the top non-stop basketball action.  Everything you loved about the game, the trash talking, incredible gravity defying dunks, and catching on fire, its all back.  The reboot of the beloved franchise came in late 2010. 

The game has remained relatively the same rule-free fame.  NBA Jam is a 2-on-2 basketball game.  The game showcases the outrageousness of the dunks and gameplay.  Players can still become "on fire" after hitting 3 baskets consecutively.  Not at lot has changed since the early '90's game, but when it comes to NBA Jam that's a good thing.

The original NBA Jam was the first sports game to use character sprites that were digitized versions of real life players. The new NBA Jam takes this a step further, using 3D polygonal models for player bodies but high resolution photographs of the actual players’ faces for the heads.

 The game play is simple and easy to pick up on.  The turbo button returns from previous installments of the game.

The gameplay features classic NBA Jam games, the new remix games that have games like one on one on one, and even 21.  The Classic Campaign pits you as your favorite team taking on each of the other 29 NBA teams in games.  Every team has at least 3 players some having as many as 5 players to choose from.  Every team features at least one unlockable player.  Most of these players consist of superstars of the past or team mascots.

Classic features return such as hidden characters and Big Head mode.  In the case of this game the hidden characters includes an all mascot team, the Beastie Boys and the Republicans and Democrates teams.  That's right you can play as your favorite politicians, including Obama, Palin, the Clintons, and good Ol' George W.
At the end of the day, NBA Jam just what you would expect it to be – a wonderfully updated version of the classic arcade game.  Overall i would give the game a 4.5/5.

Movie Review: The Roommate

Hollywood continues to disappoint and underwhelm me in the horror genre.  Often times I do not expect to see a stellar performance that is Oscar worthy in the horror genre, but I still hope to be at least entertained and see a half way decent movie.  This was not the case when I went to see the Roommate.  The movie barely held my interest and is not something you would recommend to friends.

The Roommate is a movie that stars Minka Kelly as college freshman Sara Matthews who gets a crazy roommate Rebecca portrayed by Leighton Meester. The Roommate is more or less a Single White Female set with college age students.  The movie is rated PG-13 and hindered by that in my opinion.  Because of the rating it comes as a b-movie with little or no substance and no identity of its own, other then seeming like a knockoff of a more established and better quality movie.

The story more or less starts off when Sara returns home from a night out drinking with friends and finds Rebecca sitting in the dark.  The two strike up a conversation and become friends.  Sara is going to school to be come a fashion designer and allows Rebecca to borrow anything she likes.  Early on Rebecca begins to show signs of obsession, like when she purchases a Devil Wears Prada movie poster after Sara mentions its her favorite movie. As the movie progress Cam Gigandet is introduced as Stephen, Sara's new boyfriend.

As Rebecca begins to display overprotective behavior and tendencies towards Sara, Stephen expresses his concern over her.  As Rebecca continues to become more and more obsessed with her roommate, Sara simply plays it off and makes excuses for her roommate because she feels sorry for her.

As Sara begins to develop other relationships and her life progresses she begins to notice odd things.  Her dorm room kitten disappears, one of her friends become so terrified of Rebecca that she won't even talk to Sara, and Rebecca constantly seems to have knack for showing up out of the blue.

The audience witnesses the unraveling of Rebecca's psyche and the means she will go to in order to become Sara's only and best friend. Rebecca's  jealousy towards the other people in Sara and goes to extreme measures to ensure they will not be a part of Sara's life any longer.

The movie has a few sub plots, such as a the sleazy fashion design instructor played by Billy Zane.  His character and plot though becomes simply a devise to portray how crazy Rebecca is and how she tries to make Sara dependent on her. The other subplot of Sara's ex-boyfriend is once again a pointless addition used to show Sara going over the breaking point in the movie. 

The surprises and thrills are far and between and many plots and developments are simply dropped or ignored.  It would have been interesting to find out just was going on with Rebecca's odd parents and how much they knew about their daughter's behaviour. But after a few brief scenes they are never seen or mentioned again.  The same can be said about the girl in Rebecca's drawings that is seen in a confrontation in a coffee shop, but nothing develops from that as well.  

The lack of thrills and intensity in the movie can largely  be blamed on the PG-13 rating.  The movie is hurt by its effort to make the rating.  The movie can hold your attention while watching it, but is instantly forgettable upon exiting the movie theater.  Save your money and wait for it to be available on cable TV.  I give the movie a very low 2 out 5 stars.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

National Fiasco!

As one of the meccas of pop culture events came to a close this past Sunday, it seemed one thing had everyone talking.  No it wasn't about the Packers win, but about Christian Aguilera. Thoughts have rained in from everywhere. Everyone has had their own opinion on the event. They range from she is UnAmerican for not knowing the lyrics to sympathetic for the blunder.

One critics thoughts on the matter, "Public figures must be held accountable for what they say. Here’s another case of an airhead diva going on TV, running her mouth off, sounding like a fool. She doesn’t understand something so basic about America, yet we’re supposed to tolerate her diva behavior? Americans can see through that, Sean.”
What was the mistake, well instead of “O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming,” Ms. Aguilera belted out, “What so proudly we watched at the twilight’s last reaming.”

I've thought about it a lot actually.  I was never really truly upset about the incident. But I do remember while  watching her perform I was singing along in my head, then going "wait, what? that's not right?" I chalked the mistake up to either nerves or her getting lost in her attempt at trying to make an extravagant rendition of the Star Spangled Banner while showcasing her vocal talents.  Many people begin to say that she was in the same category as Roseann and her infamous performance. Not even close.  For one Christina Aguilera was not trying to make a mockery of the song like Roseann was.  Point is she is not the first to mess up the anthem and won't be the last. Macy Gray was booed off the stage for messing up the lyrics way back in 2001 a the NFL's Hall of Fame ceremony. And this past December in our very own Kansas City, before a game between the Chiefs and the Broncos, Mike Eli of the Eli Young Band flubbed up the lines of the song so badly that he had to start the entire song over.  Christina Aguilera was not booed at the event and held her composure even after realizing her mistake and kept on singing to finish the song.

One of the things that irritated me the most about people complaining were some of my friends complaints. They said that they were upset about her and other artists changing the lyrics of the National Anthem.  These are the same friends that at every Chiefs game proudly yell Chiefs in place of Brave at the end of the National Anthem.  It is such a local tradition in Kansas City that it goes beyond just Chiefs games now.  The Chiefs chant can be heard at Royals games, Monster Truck events, and even Kansas Jayhawk basketball games in Lawrence.  I don't believe this is really disrespectful either, but I would say that out of the two cases the Chiefs chant would be considered a graver offense.  Why?  Because Christina Aguilera made a mistake, the Chiefs fans change the lyric on purpose.  So why do they dog her performance? You can't have it both ways people.

I believe that it was an honest mistake.  Video has emerged of her practice and she did not mess up the words.  She has sung the song in the past and nailed each performance, so its obvious that she does know the lyrics.  So what was it then?  It was a mistake people. An honest to God mistake and one that she obviously felt badly about.  What did she do after her performance?  She knew she had a made a mistake.  Instead of sticking around she left the game and went home clearly embarrassed at her blunder.  

Following her mistake Christina Aguilera released the following statement, " "I can only hope that everyone could feel my love for this country and that the true spirit of its anthem still came through."

I for one forgive you and am ready to move on, it happened, its done, and I don't believe it was intentional.  At least we can all be thankful that she didn't rip off a piece of her clothing and expose her nipple like a certain other notorious Super Bowl performer.  And truly this wasn't the worst part about the Super Bowl.  Anybody else hear about the NFL's and Jerry Jone's own personal blunder of screwing some fans out of their tickets?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Green Lantern Corps: Part 2 Black Lantern Superman

One of the things I liked most about the Blackest Night Event was seeing all of the old dead heroes coming back, including Earth-2 Superman.   This is my first real attempt at making a Black Lantern figure.

And as always, be sure to check out the entire album at the Essential Webcomic Showcase I am sure you will find some even greater comics and art work from the talented members that contribute there.