Saturday, June 30

2 for the PS2

well, the PS2 is not dead to ME yet because i'm the guy that waits to buy a game until he can find it used or at a really good price (last game i paid full price for was probably the first Midnight Club back when i first bought my PS2 oh so many years ago) - even if i buy new these days, i look for a bargain (bought Spider-Man 3 when it came out, but got it for $50 instead of $60 - the extra $10 i saved does not make up for the heartbreak that is that game... but another time).

anywho, picked up 2 more games i've been trying to track down for the PS double tonight - Grandia III and Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked. i've been meaning to pick up Grandia III ever since i heard it had a killer combat system (even if the story is a little lackluster) and for some reason or another i'm on a huge RPG kick as of late - so i'm looking for solid PS2 RPGs. Samurai Champloo i picked up because i played it at PAX last year and thought it was fun for a hack-and-slash. that and i liked the presentation and art style... and i'm a fan of the anime (even if i haven't had time to watch them all yet).

Grandia III i got for $19, Samurai Champloo for $11. not too shabby.

still couldn't find my most wanted game at the moment, Odin Sphere, used anywhere, but that's to be expected since it only game out a few weeks ago. wouldn't mind a copy of The Darkness and Overlord as well (both for the 360) but those just came out this WEEK, so i can wait a bit for those. lord knows i've got enough to play.

- kawitchate

i've been youtubed

i'm starting to think maybe it's because i don't want to work.

after my last post, i returned to the ol' youtube and looked up the Kingdom Hearts II ending to make sure i wasn't crazy, that it was as moving as i remembered. well, i wasn't wrong.

KH and KHII probably have the most moving endings to an RPG i've played other than FFX and FFX-2 - that i can REMEMBER. i played FF, FFII, and FFIII (or VI as it's known in Japan) as well as Chrono Trigger, but they were so long ago i don't really remember the endings. while i'm sure they were moving, i'm not sure if it's possible that they could be as moving as something to come out later, with the updated graphics and musical scores. i mean i'm sure they're good, but as good as FFX or KHII? maybe back then when sprites were all i knew... but today, i don't know.

i have been meaning to play FFIII and Chrono Trigger again, so i guess i'll have an answer when i find time to fit those 50+ hour RPGs into my already packed schedule of video game playing. 2009 maybe?

oh, and of course, youtube being youtube, after looking up the ending to KHII, i looked up renditions of the KHII theme "Passion" (or "Sanctuary," the English version), finally ending up on Utada Hikaru - the Japanese singer of the KH and KHII theme songs (i didn't know the same person did both until tonight, they're totally different styles of songs in my opinion). so i watched her perform the songs acoustic and wow... very nice. and the song's not bad either.

- kawitchate

Friday, June 29

where the night takes you

well i started tonight off wanting to get some work done - actual work, as in "my job." yes i know it's a friday night but i'm taking a week off next week and so there's things to be wrapped up before then.

anywho, what started out as a simple search on youtube has again turned into a couple of hours wasted - well, not wasted THIS time (so often youtube is synonymous with wasted time), rather, it was time spent reminiscing.

it started with a search for the end cutscene for Final Fantasy X, morphed into a search for the best rendition of "To Zanarkand" (the most recognizable theme song from FFX), and ended with a search for the "perfect ending" end cutscene for Final Fantasy X-2 - in ENGLISH. and i was reminded yet again...

we haven't had a good Final Fantasy game in several years. the last one was X and X-2 (i'll count them as one here for the sake of argument). XI was some MMO crap and XII was, well, i haven't written my formal review of it yet, but let's just say it lacked heart.

yes, heart. as i watched the end cutscenes for these games i played several years ago, i was still moved. i just watched the end cutscene for FFXII maybe 3 weeks ago and i was hardly moved at all. in fact, i've played quite a few RPGs since FFX and X-2 and most of them didn't move me as much as they did. yet here it is, several years later and i just watch these endings on youtube and they illicit more of an emotional response than something does after just having played it for weeks on end. nostalgia? or something more? (something more - if i were to watch the end of FFXII years from now, there's no way i'll have an emotional response even close to the one i have when i see the end of X).

to be honest, the Kingdom Hearts series is a close second in terms of eliciting an emotional response from me. if that series hadn't come out, the last true RPG i loved would probably be FFX, a game that came out 6 years ago. that's one hell of a drought.

Star Ocean: Til the End of Time? once i knew the big secret of the game (and trust me, it's a doozy), i never beat it (i'm probably an hour away from beating it) why? i was turned off by the fact that it was called "Star Ocean" meaning space, and yet you only visited 3 or 4 planets over and over and OVER again. also, i really don't know how they could top the secret they already revealed, so i don't need to know the end.

Radiata Stories? here's a game that had promise in the first half, but then petered out toward the end. the end was rushed and had no emotional impact.

Dragon Quest VIII? ok well this one got me. perhaps it was the fact that i had just clocked 90 hours into beating the game and was with these characters for so long, but yeah, the end was pretty emotional for me - but not on the same level as FFX.

and now i'm on to Rogue Galaxy, and maybe this anger for a good emotionally satisfying ending is stemming from the fact that i'm close to losing interest with this one just as i did with Star Ocean, for almost the exact same reason - it's called "Rogue Galaxy" and yet i've only visited 5 planets over and over again. when a game promises the universe, it should deliver. i think Mass Effect might have the goods, we'll see.

oh, and the "love story" between 2 of the main characters in Rogue Galaxy is so very weak. i like my RPGs to have a love story, is that so wrong? every one i've mentioned has had one, and in different fashions, some more satisfying than others. but you know? i think FFX is one of the ONLY RPGs that has a love story as one of its main focuses, like the 2 main characters are falling in love and you see it happening, it's not just hinted at constantly and you never see it.

maybe THAT'S what i long for - an RPG with a love story central to it. god knows FFXII had nothing even CLOSE to that (sure she loved her dead husband but that was blah).

or maybe i'm not missing RPGs with emotional endings, but rather just games in general with feeling. i like games that make me feel different things. Shadow of the Colossus is probably the most perfect example (next, Ico).

who knows what i'm missing. i think i just want a good RPG that keeps me emotionally invested in terms of the story. and a love story! is that so much to ask for? i have hopes that Eternal Sonata is going to be the next RPG i really love - though i thought that was going to be the case with Rogue Galaxy and so far i'm wrong. so... we'll see.

- kawitchate

Thursday, June 28

endings and beginnings

it's not often that one show ends its run the same night another show starts one. tonight the shows in question were Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Burn Notice. an end, and a beginning. ah, but were they good? well... yes. good. not great.

first, Studio 60. it was perhaps the most hyped new show of last fall. after only finishing half the season, it got put on a short hiatus due to lackluster ratings, and when it came back, it was only for a few more episodes - and then NBC pulled it. not surprising, as many networks nowadays pull shows before they let them finish - ah, but NBC decided to air the remaining 6 episodes this summer, a great move that i wish more companies would do (NBC did not, however, do any advertising for this stunt, which really made me mad, but oh well, can't get everything).

my thoughts on the series as a whole? i liked it quite a bit. i think that it made a mistake about halfway through when it started focusing HEAVILY on the relationship of Matt and Harriet, and there were some episodes that were throw-away ones, they missed opportunities to explore other topics regarding working at an SNL-type place, maybe would have been cool to see more on other cast members, and i can't believe they never had an episode with Wes... but all in all, it was good. what i was most pleased with is that the show must have known it was done before it filmed the final episode because they wrapped quite a bit up. very cool.

one thing i DIDN'T really like about the final 6 episodes is that 4 of them were basically one 4-hour episode (a 4-parter, if you will). the FINAL 4 episodes. it was a bit too much - it could have easily been shortened to 3 - it was cool how they managed to work in how the 2 left the show 5 years ago, and it was interesting how SERIOUS the final episodes got, with political commentary on the war, a brother's life in the balance, another who just had a baby but was having post-op complications... a show about a late night comedy show, and it was serious. dead serious... almost too much. but it was an interesting exercise nonetheless.

so, i liked the end, liked the series, but it could have been better in places. my gut tells me that had this been allowed to continue, maybe have a 5-season run, it would have worked a lot better - as it was, things were rushed and the focus was off topic sometimes (missing other topics). i think they went to focusing on Matt and Harriet after ratings started to plummet because maybe they thought that's what was interesting? well, they overcompensated a little. whatever. i am just thankful that NBC had the wisdom to air the final episodes so that the creators could finish the story they started, and that so could we. bravo.

now, Burn Notice. this has been one of the most-hyped cable shows of this summer, kinda mirroring Studio 60's hype last fall (well, maybe not THAT much hype). i've personally been looking forward to it because it was a novel concept - a spy gets cut off from doing his work, his assets are frozen, and he's stuck back where he grew up, where he ran away from, doing odd-jobs for Average Joes for little pay - and it's got Bruce Campbell.

did i like it? the show has its charm. the main character has a real sarcastic wit so he's constantly cracking wise with voiceover work. the supporting cast - his buddy (Bruce), his mother, and his ex, all provide even more comedic elements... but also dramatic ones too. how would i classify the show? dramatic action with comedic elements thrown in. it's an odd mix.

the plot that had him doing his spy stuff for an Average Joe in this episode was a little ho-hum, but i imagine most of the stories will be like that - which should be fine, as they're just avenues for him to do his spy magic. and it's pretty sweet when he does his spy magic.

i think i'll like the main storyline too, where he's trying to find out who put this burn notice out on him. he first thought it might be the government, then a reluctant client that wants him to hit rock bottom before approaching him for (probably) a nasty job... but toward the end of the show the guy hinted that maybe it's somebody closer, like his buddy, his ex, or his mom. someone that wanted to force him to come home and deal with his personal issues.

and that made things a lot more interesting for me... because he may be having fun with his old spy buddy, his ex, and/or his mother, but then in the back of his mind, and in ours, is the thought that maybe it's one of them. that's the life of a spy - trust no one.

the verdict? i'm going to keep watching until either the formula gets too tired or the mix of genres just doesn't work anymore - i mean a show where you shouldn't trust anyone and it's a comedy? it's... interesting. interesting enough that i'll be back next Thursday.

- kawitchate

Wednesday, June 27

sick and tired - or - a slippery slope indeed

remember how, just last night, i was saying how i'd better write down my thoughts on the banhunt that has been going on for a week now before something other act of utter stupidity occurred? well as i was WRITING THE POST, news came down the wire from the UK - an ad for a video game, Burnout Dominator (a racing game where you crash your car in spectacular fashions), was condemned and taken down by authorities.

off of 37 complaints.

the ad was in the subway, where thousands upon thousands of people must have seen it, and all it took was 37 complaints to have it taken down.

37 complaints.

"what horrific act was depicted in the ad that had it condemned?" you ask? well, there was a wrecked car and a tire on fire from said car next to it. they were in a black room, it was pretty classy all around... and the caption read "inner peace through outer violence." now, there were NO persons to be found anywhere - not in the car, not thrown yards down the road out the windshield, not crawling away from the wreck bleeding to death... nothing like that. it was a rather classy ad with what i thought was a rather catchy ad slogan.

37 complaints.

the knee-jerk reaction of condemning it and having it taken down just offends me to no end. does no one do their homework? does everyone just go around now saying "i find that offensive, therefore it should be taken down." here's the Burnout Dominator website:

see? if anything i could see someone being upset that maybe the ad campaign isn't "culturally sensitive," but otherwise... wow, just wow.

i just hate this baby-coddling culture we have, where "everyone's opinion matters." but does it really? i mean i'm sure there were 37 people that LIKED the ad, and 37 that were indifferent to the ad. just because they didn't speak up, they don't matter.

we're on a slippery slope folks.

i guess we should be lucky Manhunt 2 didn't take the "inner peace through outer violence" line... though i do like the ring of it.

- kawitchate

Tuesday, June 26

ESRB on a banhunt

i'd better get my thoughts down on this topic before even more utter stupidity comes out and i've got to write 2 or 3 posts on it... the topic: the outright banning of a video game, Manhunt 2, in the UK, and the virtual banning of said game here in the states - or, well, that WAS to be the topic, but now the gestapo that has been the ESRB of late has went on a banhunt on the internets and forced developers of 2 other games to take down trailers for their games THAT HAVE BEEN UP FOR MONTHS. the games in question are Dark Sector and The Darkness.

now, to be fair, i have not played any of these games personally yet (but then again, the ESRB doesn't play them either before they rate them). in terms of Manhunt 2, i've seen the trailers, read two preview playthroughs of the game (one from Gamepro, the other from the New York Times), and have played the original myself. in terms of Dark Sector and The Darkness, i've only see trailers.

first, Manhunt 2.

yes, the game is you going around killing people in gruesome fashions. yes, the original was pretty brutal and i hear they ramped it up for the sequel. however, in everything i've seen and read... it's no worse than, say, the Saw or Hostel movies. and these movies receive the R rating they deserve, and are distributed nationwide. Manhunt 2 however, the video game equivalent of a torture horror movie, was outright BANNED in the UK and got a virtual ban here in the states.

what do i mean by a virtual ban? the ESRB gave it an AO (adults only) rating, which i thought was bad at first because big retailers like Walmart won't carry it on the shelves... but i could still get it if i wanted. that turned out not to be the case. Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft will not ALLOW AO-rated games on their consoles. so... it's virtually banned.

the producers of the game, Rockstar, can now either cut things to get the M (mature) rating and give up their artistic integrity, they could shelve the game and lose a ton of money on production, or there's a possibility they could port it to the PC, where there are no restrictions on AO titles, and leave it as is... oh, as a side note - Rockstar, if you're doing this just as a publicity stunt for the game, i will never buy another one of your games again... because i think this is a SERIOUS issue and good on you for bringing it to light - but i'll hate you forever if you did it with the wrong intentions.

my problem comes with the way this whole system is set up. the ESRB can hand out an AO rating and wash their hands, saying "we didn't ban it!" and major retailers won't carry it, washing their hands of it too... but then the major console makers saying they won't ALLOW AO games on their consoles? that's just wrong. why is there an AO rating then?!?

the movie analogy. a movie can get an NC-17 or XXX rating (does that exist anymore?) and main cineplexes can choose not to show it... but there will be a local art house that will no doubt take a chance and show it - if not, there's always DVD. this isn't the case with video games exactly. the only "outlet" an AO game has really is the PC.

the PC - the art house for AO video games. how messed up is that. :)

to sum up:
- Manhunt 2 shouldn't be rated AO with movies like Saw and Hostel gracing movie screens nationwide. if we're going to try and tackle the issue of violence in the media, we can't just focus on video games, we need to look at movies and television as well.
- IF Manhunt 2 really did deserve the AO rating, i'm fine with major retailers not wanting to carry it on their shelves, but the console makers should NOT have the policy of "no AO" on their machines. it holds a game/developer hostage, as well as the audience that wants to play the game.

ok, in terms of the trailers getting essentially banned from the internet... first, what in the world is EVER banned on the internet? hell, you can find anything you want on the internet, the word "censor" doesn't exist here. second, these are trailers that had been up for MONTHS and had age gates (something that asked you to verify your age) before you could view them, so what is the deal?!?

i'll tell you what it is, and this pertains to the banning of Manhunt 2 as well - it's political. video games are going to be a hot button issue the next 2 years as the 2008 elections get closer - i've heard there's some video game specials on this week, so i know something's up if John Q. Public will be watching.

either that or it's a knee-jerk reaction by the ESRB - they saw how "awful" Manhunt 2 was and they were like "we had no idea, what else is out there that's going to be this awful?" and so they freaked and asked the developers to take down the Dark Sector and The Darkness trailers (which aren't that bad, to be honest, not as bad as Manhunt 2).

whatever the reason, i'm fed up. the public view of video games needs to mature. there can be games for kids AND for adults - just like there is in television, just like there is in movies. i want to be able to play AO games - on a console, not just on my PC... wherever and whenever i damn well please.

free Manhunt 2. free the Dark Sector trailer. free The Darkness trailer. let my games go.

- kawitchate

Monday, June 25

just shut up and take it

there are certain professions i think you need to just put your work out there and then take all the praise or criticism that rolls on in. most of these professions are in the entertainment business. ok, as i've previously said i'm watching that reality show On the Lot where directors have their work critiqued in front of the nation. there are some directors who, instead of gracefully taking the criticism, most of it spot-on, would rather speak up and try and justify themselves after every little comment from the judges, somehow pointing out that they're wrong or they missed the point. no YOU missed the point. i understand you poured your heart and soul into this but you put it out there for the rest of us to see and now you've just got to shut up and take it.

what really prompted this post is that one of the producers on the video game Shadowrun came out and said "the reviews on [Shadowrun] suck my ass." apparently he feels that the 7 out of 10 rating that almost everyone is giving the game isn't justified... but if it wasn't justified, why are all the reviewers saying basically the same thing? hmm...

anyway, he goes on to say that "there's repercussions here for the gamer. we're shooting our own people in the foot by not recognizing what these developers are doing. i worry about that." so basically he's saying don't hurt my team's feelings, we might not want to try as hard next time if these are the reviews we're going to get - boo hoo.

well boo hoo to you. as a member of the entertainment business, you made a product. you did your best with it, there's no doubt of that, and you put it out there for all to enjoy. and it seems like people are thinking it's a pretty average game, which isn't bad for a $60 title that's multiplayer only, has only a handful of maps, only a handful of game types, and really doesn't bring any innovations to the FPS genre. you should have never responded as you did. as a member of the same industry, i am ashamed.

i am reminded of David Jaffe coming out and responding to a poor review of Calling All Cars. his response was a little better in that he did it on his blog (and maybe the comments section of the review, i don't remember), and tried to open up a discussion rather than just say "the reviews suck my ass." granted, Jaffe still came off a little whiny, as he was offering up what sounded like excuses rather than reasons... but it might be a start. in this day and age where consumers can talk to creators, maybe an open dialogue is needed... well, there IS quite an open dialogue now with developers sharing videos, behind-the-scenes stuff, and even blogging on a game's progress, but maybe there needs to be more of an open dialogue AFTER a product is released.

- kawitchate

another one bites the dust

i just recently read a report that the failure rate of an Xbox 360 is as high as 30%. that is unbelievable. however, it hit home because just a week prior MY Xbox 360 failed. no, it didn't go out in a glorious red ring of death - rather, it just stopped reading DVDs and games.

i actually don't think the 30% number is that far off from the truth. think about it - out of the people you know that own a 360, how many of them have said theirs crapped out on them? almost everyone knows someone that has had a 360 fail on them, if they haven't had it happen to themselves that is. what other console can you think of had a failure rate even close to this? nothing even comes CLOSE.

i've owned quite a few of the major consoles starting way back with the original NES and other than having to blow in a cartridge every once in a while to get it to work, only one other console failed on me - the PS2. it was purchased after the first-run ones, but still it was an early model (bought it 6 months after release). it slowly stopped reading DVDs and games about 3-4 years after i bought it. the good thing? i could go inside and fix it myself by realigning the laser. it's played like new ever since.

now, my 360 failed rather abruptly - one day it started freezing when playing, the next it just refused to play at all - and it happened only 6 months after purchase. all i can say is thank god for the 1-year out-of-box warranty Microsoft has... but they upped that from 90 days after all these problems started happening. so why aren't they admitting something's wrong?

my warranty on the replacement (or refurbished, if the problem can be fixed) 360 only goes as long as the original warranty, so i can either take my chances on it lasting 3-4 years without incident, i can buy the extended warranty, or i can buy a new upgraded one once the replacement/refurbished craps out on me in another 6 months.

thanks Microsoft. you have a good console with great games, and your Live structure is wonderful for online gaming... but do something about the hardware. i've got 360 games to play and no 360 to play them on for a month. you're lucky this happened now and not this fall when all the AAA titles come out.

- kawitchate

Sunday, June 24

b5 - a change of seasons

i'm going through watching Babylon 5 again for the second time - i previously watched all 5 seasons and subsequent movies 2-3 years ago - in preparation for the new B5 movie coming out at the end of july. this weekend i had a 9-episode marathon that finished off season 1 and brought me 3 episodes deep into season 2 and the differences, they are a-there.

first is the somewhat-subtle changes in production value. season 2 has a lot better CG - i noticed it right away the first time they showed B5 floating there in space - and even the intro sequence is a lot more professional. maybe they got more money, or they just had a year under their belt and were getting better at what they do. whatever it is, the difference is there.

then of course there's the change in commanders. now, having seen the entire series my favorite commander is Sheridan, if for no other reason that he's there the most (seasons 2-5) and i think the best of the 3 actors. however, going back and watching season 1 i did start to like Sinclair quite a bit, and the sudden change from season 1 to 2 is jarring... it takes a while for you as a viewer to get used to the change in actors, the change in styles of commanding, and i think it took Boxlightner a while to come into his own (he's pretty shaky in the first part of the season). but he does come into his own - i know this, i've seen it - and i can't wait for it.

seasons 2-4 of B5 is some of the best television around... though again, just having seen season 1 again, it was no pushover either. had Joe known that there was going to be a season 5 all along, had he been able to stretch the fight against earth alliance out into season 5 and not have to cram it in right after the war with the shadows... it would have been perfect. as it is, season 5 for me is a throwaway season, but i'll watch it again.

- kawitchate

Saturday, June 23

video games postings to come

once i gather all my thoughts, i'm going to be posting a lot more video game related stuff. i want to give my thoughts on games i've recently beat - lost planet, dead rising, and especially final fantasy XII - games i've recently played - halo 3 beta for sure - and game topics, such as the manhunt 2 debacle. so stay tuned.

- kawitchate

a mix of tropical fruit flavors

so the last time i tried one of these "fusion sodas" was probably back a few years ago around Christmas. it was that holiday spice Pepsi (don't remember the exact name), and it tasted ok for the first few sips, but then just got really weird. oh, we bought the 1-liter of the stuff, and needless to say, it got worse the more days that went by (as it got flat).

since then there's been a ton more of these fusion sodas - Mountain Dew has a new mix every summer, Pepsi's got a line of fruits and cream - and i've stayed away from all of them. until this past week.

at my local grocery store they were having a pretty good sale on Pepsi, so they were all sold out of regular Pepsi 12-packs. what they DID have was Pepsi Summer Mix - "a mix of tropical fruit flavors." with Pepsi. so is it as bad as my last fusion experience? thankfully, no.

it was weird at first when i expected it to be Pepsi mixed with tropical fruit, but after the first one you get used to it being more like tropical fruit with a Pepsi zing. it's almost its own drink. so yeah, it's good - not great, but good. if you're a fusion soda fan, head out and try it. but hurry! limited time only!

- kawitchate

Friday, June 22

best tv 06-07

another season of tv over and done with. which shows were good, which were bad, which deserved more of a chance than they were given... all will be covered in my tv wrap-up!

best returning show(s):

The Shield - it's the sixth season of a show i really didn't see going past five seasons... boy am i glad they rolled on to six (and are filming seven). this season might just be the BEST of the entire run. this has always been a show about the demise of the strike team, a group of 4 friends who play it fast, loose, and hard... and things are really starting to fall apart. it's hard to watch them fall apart, but it's also hard not to look away. wonderfully acted and written, this is where it's at for cop dramas. the season goes downhill a bit in the last few episodes, and the finale wraps up a few things a bit too neatly and leaves other things hanging way too wide open (my feeling is that they were picked up for a 7th season halfway through filming the 6th, which they originally planned to be the last, and kind of opened things up at the end of this season so that there COULD be a 7th)... however, since the season was on such a high for so long (probably 7 or 8 of the 10 episodes this season were stupendous), a small decline was inevitable.

Life on Mars - this was the second and final season for one of my favorite shows of the past 5 years. this little gem from the BBC had a cop from today get in an accident and wake up in the 1970s - was he in a coma, mad, or time traveling. that was the question, and the only quibble i have with the show is that they didn't explore each option enough (you pretty much knew which one he probably was the whole time). but what they DID with it in the end... wow. i'm surprised they got away with it on television. also, the writing for the second season stepped up a notch, with every episode having a mini-theme, and that theme being carried through multiple storylines. usually i agree that it's good to go out on top (something the BBC is known for) but honestly, with a season this good, i wouldn't have minded another 8 episode season. oh well, there's always the spin-off...

best new show:

Heroes - boy am i glad that a show that's pretty much a comic book come to life has been embraced by the public as it has been, because that means i get to see a comic book in action. sure it sometimes covers issues that comic book fans are like "well that's been done to death before," but it's done in a unique enough way and, well, it's live action. the writing is superb, especially considering the large cast they have to handle (and oh the plot twists)... the characters are interesting, with rich backstories... the powers are unique enough to put it apart from other superhero stories... it's good. damn good. a superhero soap opera.

best comedy:

The Office - another show i didn't see working past a few seasons, the american version of the office just finished up their third and perhaps strongest season. they've really come into their own this season... however, i'm still worried that all the crazy things that michael whips up for the gang to do is going to get a little contrived, a little "been there done that." oh, and of course you've got to worry a little too if you know what happened at the end of the season (whenever things like that happen, shows tend to have a hard time writing themselves out of it) - hopefully the show has another strong season or 2 left and then they bow out gracefully when they know their time is up (and hell, if they're still going strong after five, six, seven seasons, by all means keep going... i just don't want them to run too long).

shows that deserved more from their networks:

Studio 60 - West Wing on the set of Saturday Night Live, the kind of "fast talk" that drove me nuts on west wing fit perfectly in its new setting, and that's why i liked it. later episodes of the show had the story going in all these weird directions, and focusing just a tad too much on relationships... but still the show was GOOD. it deserved to finish out a season and have a proper end. NOTE: after i started writing this i've since learned that NBC is airing the final 6 episodes this summer. i've currently seen 5 of the 6 and they were pretty good. i just hope that the creators knew they were getting canned before filming the final ones so that they can wrap up the series. it's a shame this isn't coming back, but kudos to NBC for airing them... however, shame on them for not promoting it better (i only found out it was coming back 2 days before the first episode back).

Daybreak - probably my favorite show that deserved more from their network, daybreak was a mix of 24 and time travel. main character was stuck in some sort of loop that he had to keep reliving the same day over and over. turns out it's a pretty important day... he had to solve this big conspiracy thing, so each new day he'd tackle another part of the puzzle. good premise, but again i didn't see it going past a season, maybe 2, before it got tired. sadly, ABC canned the show mid-season, with nothing resolved. hopefully it gets a DVD release with the unaired episodes, because man it was shaping up to be a good day... NOTE: again, just like Studio 60, after i started this i found out that ABC did "air" the final episodes (taking the series up to 13 episodes) and they aired them online as webisodes. weird, but at least it offered the fans a conclusion... i think. i hope. i've downloaded them but haven't watched yet. as with studio 60, i hope the creators knew they were canned before filming wrapped up on the final episodes.

Raines - only caught 2 episodes of maybe 5 that aired... the character was interesting (with the brilliant jeff goldbloom bringing him to life), but not interesting enough to hold the entire hour. his supporting cast was pretty bland, and the stories could have been a little better... but the premise, the character, were interesting enough to warrant some more episodes.

Andy Barker P.I. - again, only caught 2 episodes of maybe 5 that aired... now i love me some andy richter, but this show was pretty sub-par. however, i wanted more because, well, i love me some andy richter. and it had an interesting supporting cast (buster from Arrested Development was pretty good).

shows on the rise:

Prison Break - turns out getting out of prison was just the start. the second season of prison break had the gang being hunted down, then becoming the hunters. there were plenty of plot twists, lots of supporting characters meeting their demise, and an ending that really begs the question "what's next?"

House - ok, maybe if you're a long-time watcher, this one's not "on the rise," but it's personally on the rise for me because i used to be just a casual watcher. now i'm a full-on fan. sure the medical cases can be absurd and predictable (patient is sick, then sicker, oh wait maybe they're cured, no wait we almost killed him, ok he's going to die, and then by some miracle they realize what's wrong), but it's the story in between that makes it worth watching. i especially like the relationship between house and wilson... one of the most original, twisted, fucked up, and real relationships i've seen in a show. and the season finale! wow. if they stick to their guns and mix up the cast like they allude to at the end of the season, i would give them props. it reinforces more that the show is all about house, which it is.

good but not great:

My Name is Earl - good to watch while waiting for the office at 7:30. i did dig the final episodes this season, where earl worked on becoming his own man... only to have it all taken away in the season finale. be interesting to see where it goes from here.

30 Rock - alec baldwin makes this show worth watching. however, i can't get over my dislike for tina fey... so the show is just good, not great.

Halfway Home - a comedy central original, this show was good to watch after south park on wednesday nights. it's about a bunch of degenerate adults in a halfway house. good, but not great.

Scrubs - i've always been an "on again, off again" fan of this show. right now i'm on again, but the show is starting to show its age. to be honest, i started watching because i thought it was their last season... only now i hear it wasn't. so this show might really belong in the next category...

shows on the decline:

all Law and Orders - they are all just starting to show their age. first one i would cut would be criminal intent... i mean the original draw was vincent d'onofrio and now he's only on half the time or less and they're coming up with absurd cases - or doing what ELSE i hate, doing "ripped from the headlines" cases, what the second show to go does all the time, the original law and order. and finally, even my favorite one, law and order: svu is showing its age. this season went WAY too much into their personal lives and suffered for it. with all of these, i'm happy watching reruns from their heydays.

The Simpsons - i'm not even sure if this is on the decline really, it might be at the bottom. the simpsons really need to either do a complete overhaul of their writing staff or just call it quits. i'm not sure how many more absurd reasons they can come up with for marge to get upset at homer and leave him, only to come back to him in the last few minutes of the episode because she's a dupe. doesn't she realize she's just going to leave him again next week? the only funny parts of the show are homer and some of the town supporting cast. oh, and nothing is worse than a bart-and-lisa based episode. groan.

Family Guy - i used to LOVE the referential humor of this show, and was super-stoked when it came back on the air due to DVD sales, but now family guy is a pale shade of what it once was. what's funny is that they've now become SELF-referential, referencing old episodes, even pretty much doing plots that they've already done before. the formula is getting tired.

not-so-great shows:

first off, these shows aren't in the "shows on the decline" list because i don't necessarily think they're on the decline - maybe they just had a bad season. hey, it happens.

24 - this was like a casserole of leftovers from all the previous seasons, but somebody forgot to cook it. you've got your personal tragedies (my favorite in the show, why i liked season 1 the best), your nuclear attacks (by the muslims AND the russians, see it's different!), a raid on a consulate, a new partner to break in, an attack on CTU, the chief of CTU having to step down, too many main characters dying before their time (before their characters have really been fleshed out)... and politics, politics, politics. add on top of that trying to wrap up season 5 and it was just too much. the ONLY reason you should suffer through the season is to get to the personal moments of jack bauer - unfortunately they are few and far between. i'll tell you the best one - the last 15 minutes of the season. damn was it good. so next season, focus only on a few things, don't fall back on formulas from previous seasons, and don't kill off people before we get to know them.

South Park - entering its 11th season, i'm worried that either south park has tackled every tough issue that's out there today OR there were no tough issues for them to tackle while they were making this season. let's see: paris hilton is still a rich whore, war is still going on, catholicism is still messed up... what to do! the final 2 or 3 episodes finally started doing "fresh" material, but the rest of the season just felt "been there, done that." now, they've had dry spells before and i've felt it, but this didn't feel the same - this really felt like they've done everything. i really hope i'm wrong.

show i watched the most:

Law and Order SVU reruns - what can i say, i'm a sucker for rape homicide.

and... drumroll please...

the best show of the season...

TIE: The Shield season 6 and Life on Mars season 2 - the acting and writing in both these series was the best on television for at least this past season, probably of the last 5 years.

- kawitchate

summer viewing

summer's here. that means there's nothing on tv - or that's what it used to mean. there's plenty of new programming on this summer, but most of it's reality crap. this is what i'm watching...

Babylon 5 - just recently downloaded the entire series. i've watched it before (prolly 3 years ago) but i'm watching it again because 1) it's an awesome series that has a 5-year plan that just works perfectly, and 2) i'm gearing up for the new Babylon 5 movie that's coming out at the end of july. pretty psyched.

The Whitest Kids U Know - sketch comedy that started on the internet and gained enough notoriety to get their own cable show. i can't put my finger on just what is funny, but the audacity and originality of the sketches remind me of Kids in the Hall a bit.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - boil this down and it's about the misadventures of 4 people that own a bar in Philadelphia. the first season was pure genius (probably the funniest thing i've seen in a few years, at least the best written), season two had some shining moments... and i'm waiting to check out season three this summer.

John From Cincinnati - this deserves it's own post, so i'll keep it brief here, but yeah i'm watching this new HBO original series and i'm liking it, not loving it. 2 episodes down, 8 more to go...

On the Lot - yeah i know it's a reality show, but it has to do with directing movies, which is something i pursued for a while, so it hits home. i only tune in here and there, and my general impressions are that the reality show portion is being handled poorly, each episode is drawn out too long with not much that happens, and the directors all have a sharp, professional look to their pieces, but none of them can tell a story really. it's an ok show if nothing else is on.

Hell's Kitchen - i've missed the episodes that have aired so far for one reason or another, but i just know that i'm going to tune in eventually because i love how mean he is to everyone.

Burn Notice - now this hasn't aired yet, but i'm planning on watching it. about a spy that gets burned and he has to go into the private eye business in his home town. looks like it'll be a mix of drama, action, and comedy. oh, and bruce campbell is in it, so even if i wasn't interested in the plot, i'd watch it anyway. for him.

and then there's tons of other downloaded programs i have but i'm currently focusing on Babylon 5. when i move on to another one i'll post on it.

- kawitchate

Thursday, June 21

24 was mostly a twenty-bore

to start off, i lost my lost my 24 viewing buddy this season, who dropped off even before i took my hiatus from watching the show. he dropped off for the same reason i think a lot of people didn't like it - the formula started to show. "when's that chopper coming in?" "it's 10 minutes out..." or, unless they want to stretch it out to another episode... "the russians are ordering we get the chip back. we've got 2 hours" and then the viewer knows something's either happening in this show or in the next one or two. but it's not only that - there was a lot of the same political backstabbing (almost too much this season), same terrorist plot (I swear this one felt a lot like last year), same killing of strong characters before they have a chance to be developed, jack's going rogue - wait jack's working with us - now jack's gone rogue again... the list goes on and on...

i mean how many consulates does jack need to bust into before he gets what he wants? :)

i stopped watching the show for 8 episodes in the latter half of the season. i eventually downloaded them all and watched them all in one night... which was actually surprisingly good. something else this season suffered from was lack of stuff happening. there was more than 1 episode that a lot of political talk would happen and then that's it - other than the obligatory twist at the end of the episode (that's another writing trait of 24, that belongs above). so watching 8 in a row... well of course a lot happened.

the highlights this season were few and far between, but they were there. here are a few:

- jack getting out of chinese prison camp, and seeing what it did to him

- jack losing it when the bomb went off

- jack interrogating his brother (who we knew at the time was responsible for last season, which made it all the sweeter to watch)

- closure from last season, with president logan and his wife (by the way, he's dead right?)

- jack taking out the terrorists single-handedly at the end of that episode where he got the nukes (very kick-ass)

- we got to see the aftermath of the terrorist plot, the political cleanup, which we usually don't see, and i liked that

- the turnaround of the vice president; they wrote him so that we'd hate him for most of the season, then feel for him at the end, and it worked

- the last 15 minutes of the season

ok, this entire season was a mish-mosh of "big huge terrorist plot" and "this time it's personal," and the two didn't mix as well as they could have. i would have liked it better if the entire season was personal... instead, jack's family only came in and out of the picture. don't get me wrong, i'm glad they had that in there, otherwise it would have been exactly like seasons 2-5. instead it was like a mix of season 1 with it's personal issues and then the big terrorist plot of the other seasons.

i mean i would have been fine with a season that focused just on cleaning up the mess that last season left behind. jack could have gotten back at the chinese, or the government that abandoned him. it could have just been him versus his father for the entire season, not just parts of it.

so the best parts of the season were when things got personal for jack. we were promised a "changed" jack bauer - and he came out every once in a while, but it wasn't nearly enough. the scene where he lost it after the bomb went off, interrogating his brother, when he finds audry... and then the last 15 minutes... that's the best stuff. in fact, the last 15 minutes of the season almost make the entire season worthwhile. that, and the way he took out all the terrorists at the end of episode 17 (i think it was 17).

random notes:

i liked ricky schroeder more than i thought i would. at first i thought it was sort of a joke, but then he won me over. he's like trying to be as tough as jack bauer, which at first was annoying, but then he grew into his own character. of course, i don't think he'll be back next season since he's practically blind now... which of COURSE they'd do because they always get rid of strong characters! like...

milo. oh poor milo. just another example of 24 killing off characters before their time. i mean i didn't give a CRAP about the guy until he and nadia started having a thing... and then WHAM he sacrifices himself for her. really wish they didn't kill him.

there were too many relationships in this season. i can't remember another season that had as many... chloe and miles, the semi-love triangle of milo/nadia/ricky schroeder, buchanan and his wife, vice president and his secretary, the jack/audry/sister in law triangle... the list was too long.

i found it suspicious that we're totally in the dark on how president palmer was doing at the end of the season. the last we heard about him was like 4 episodes before the last... very weird. i think they should have wrapped that up a bit more, even a line like "the president is still touch-and-go" would have been better than nothing.

chloe pregnant. i think it's a cool development IF it means she's leaving CTU. while i like how she's jack's inside girl, i think it might be time for a change there. i mean they're killing off everyone else, what makes chloe so damn special? let her have her kid and be gone with her. at least they didn't kill her. ...poor milo.

so, the last 15 minutes. THIS is what the season was supposed to be all about - great acting from keifer, showing that betrayal, that change. the exchange between him and heller, and then him and audry (well she didn't participate in the exchange, but you know what i mean), it was solid gold, writing and acting. jack wants her, but he knows where he's going he can't help her get better... at least that's what i'm reading into it. right? it's the typical "i gotta take care of some things" but with the added "and i can't take special care of you too" on top. so that was pretty heartbreaking. and his speech to heller - wow. the betrayal he feels by his government... i'm thinking maybe jack's going to take it to us next season, i don't know.

oh, and i loved the final seconds, with jack walking out to the cliff, looking down, gun out (you're thinking "suicide? no..."), the sun rising, but only on half of his face - the other half, darkness (a man torn in half, who can be good but is too good at being bad)... and then the seconds ticked off without the loud "beep, beep, beep, beep" ...just the sound of nature around jack, morning approaching. it was good.

so what will next season hold in store? i hope they keep things personal, jack taking his revenge on those that wronged him, both here in our own government and then in china too. this is similar to what i wanted jack to do in season 5, and then again at the start of THIS season... so i don't think it's going to happen. but who knows. and don't forget the germans still hate jack for screwing them on that list of names... last season? i think it was last season.

and we'll have a whole slew of new characters, with buchanan and his wife out, ricky gone, maybe chloe and miles gone too... it'll be interesting for sure. and i'll stick around. for all its flaws, this season was still worth it... just maybe better watched on DVD, so you can watch 2-3 episodes in a row. that way you're guaranteed something will happen.

- kawitchate

heroes - looking forward to looking back

first off, wow. excellent season finale. not often does a show hype something up SO MUCH (like all season) and then have it live up to expectations. sure the fight was a little lackluster, wasn't too epic, but all the characters had their roles to play. and that's what was neat. and what "save the cheerleader, save the world" ended up meaning - very, very cool (save claire, nathan reconnects with his long-lost daughter, has a change of heart at the last minute).

were there any complaints? as with every episode, there were a few, but there were less in this episode than in others (maybe because this one was written by the creator of the show and had a true driving vision behind every line of dialogue). as i said, i was a tad disappointed in the less-than-epic fight between sylar and peter... i mean peter didn't even use any of his powers! well, except for the one he got from jessica, which was cool. another thing - why didn't SOMEONE step up and try and at least stop peter when he was about to go nuclear. i know a lot of them were shot or injured, but i think jessica could have tried knocking him out... or maybe suresh decides to step up and just sacrifice himself, i don't know. and i'm not sure i understood exactly why claire shooting peter was such a bad idea... was it just that she didn't have the guts to (which is fine, understandable, it's hard to kill a man i'm sure)? then when nathan came, why didn't he shoot peter instead of fly him off - i guess because flying him off into space or whatever was the only SURE way to stop it. like i said, small, nit-picky things.

now the questions.

what happened to nathan and peter? did nathan take peter up really high and then let him go so he could fly away and live, then fly back to catch peter? ...probably not, since he said he was going to stay by his side, but it's a thought (maybe i just don't want nathan to bedead, after he finally stopped acting like a pussy, which is what he's been most of this season). so nathan's most likely dead, but peter? man i hope peter's alive...

what "family" was claire's dad referring to when he said "let's go home" and that home is where family is? could it be that he's going to gather heroes together like an x-men sort of thing ("family" then meaning people like claire, who is always complaining about not being normal remember, not fitting in)?

what happened to sylar? i watched it twice (yeah i'm a dork) and the first time i thought he crawled off into the sewer, but now i'm thinking he was DRAGGED off, perhaps by the even BADDER bad guy that the little girl mentioned earlier in the episode, to be devoured by him. i mean his life flashed before his eyes right before he "died," so i think he was dead. but IS he still, i don't know (who knows what powers he had). oh, and that was another problem: why didn't any of the heroes see sylar escape/be dragged off? or at least why didn't one of them say something when they noticed he was gone... i mean the paramedics had already arrived, more than just a few minutes have passed since the explosion.

what significance did the cockroach have on the sewer drain at the end, other than the obvious one of cockroaches being utterly resilient, to rule the world once we're long dead (cockroaches standing for heroes, mutants, the next step in the evolutionary chain)?

now a few notes:

i really like the little girl, and seeing her with jessica, DL, and micah, i think it'd be cool if she hung out with them, sort of a surrogate family. just the little exchange between her and micah at the elevator was really cool, and i'd like to see more of that.

FINALLY we get to see the eclipse that's been the symbol for the show, and it happens on the battlefield hiro transports into at the end. who KNOWS what any of that meant, but i can't wait to find out. "generations." one thing is for sure - we'll get a lot more backstory.

and i’m glad we’re getting backstory, because i want to know who that black guy was that peter took care of at the start of the season... whatever power he has/had, it's a doozy, to visit peter after he's dead - or did peter visit him?!?

that's about all i can think of for now. the writers did a wonderful job of taking a very full cast and bringing them all together at the end of the season in all different ways (with plot twists and the like) and then managed to live up to the hype of an event a whole season in the making. kudos.

well we've got heroes: origins coming next fall, a 6-episode miniseries that'll introduce even more characters to the show... do you know why they're doing that? because apparently heroes lost a TON of its audience after that long break in march and april. so they're adding this miniseries to stretch the heroes episodes to 30 for next season (24 for the regular show, 6 of the miniseries).

what are hopes/predictions for next year? well i know we're going to get a ton more backstory... i think the little girl (MOLLY! that's her name) will tell suresh that his sister isn't dead and he'll go off to find her... we'll be introduced to the BAD bad guy... and i really think that claire's dad will get together a bunch of the heroes in x-men type fashion. how about you guys? thoughts?

- kawitchate

spider-man 3 - or - the longest post you'll ever read

for those that haven't seen the movie yet, you can read the first few paragraphs, but then i'm going to get into specifics. i'll warn you when i talk spoilers, because i really don’t want to ruin this movie for you.

what's a guy to do. the movie he's been waiting years for finally comes out, and he's got nobody to see it with. not only that, but it's been getting luke-warm reviews, some even saying that it was "awful," and none saying it was perfect. so what does he do? he skips the opening weekend. but he knows he has to see it, it's pulling him in... so what does he do? he goes to see a movie by himself for the first time in years (since the arizona days of seeing a movie and then sneaking into another after for free).

i don't know if i've gone into a movie before in the mindframe i was in for spider-man 3. i was worried it wouldn't be good, afraid it wouldn't be, yet excited, so excited. see, i like spider-man. :) and i don't know if i've ever viewed a movie in the way i viewed this one... after every scene - hell, after almost every LINE OF DIALOGUE I would analyze it and say to myself "ok, that wasn't so bad," or "oh, that was good..." thankfully after a while that scene-by-scene analysis wore off as i got wrapped up in the experience... because...

this movie is good. great even. i loved it.

now, it isn't as good as the first 2 movies (for the record, spidey 2 is better than the original, and then followed closely by 3)... but it's only hampered by it's ambition (4 enemies is a lot, in addition to 2 love triangles, spider-man, AND peter parker - all in under 2 ½ hours) and it's ending, which is too rushed and sloppy. the RESULT at the end is fine, but the last "fight" happens way too fast (you get hints that maybe it's winding down and then all of the sudden BAM last fight) and it's, well, sloppy.

for the life of me, i can't understand why if you were a fan of the original 2 movies, why you wouldn't at least LIKE this movie. i mean in my mind, you should think it's pretty darn good. it should have been much longer, yes, and the enemies' backstories could have been fleshed out just a bit more, and the end fight... ugh... but still, it's got everything else in it as the previous 2 movies! the perfect marriage of action/drama/horror/comedy.

SPOILER TIME: stop reading if you haven't seen the movie. and go see it already. whoever you are, i'm sure you don't have my problem of not having anyone to go with. i'm just a loser like that.

have you stopped reading yet? seriously, i don't want to ruin this damn-good movie for you.

ok, first off, i thought the story was woven together almost seamlessly. sure it wasn't as tight as 2 (which was near-perfect), but this one had a lot of characters, who had a lot of relationships... and the enemies, oh the enemies. spidey finally getting his props, NY loving him, mirroring mary jane's hope for stardom... and then her getting jealous of him ("this isn't about you peter!") was just pure genius. i mean it's REAL relationship stuff! and then peter just eating it up, falling for the fame, giving gwen that kiss in front of everyone... it was real drama people! i read somewhere that it's very shakespearian, and yeah, i'd have to agree. the betrayals, the return to old times, the realization you can never go back, the revenge, the eventual sacrifices... all there. and i'm a sucker for shakespeare.

i mean, these people are real, with real feelings. i could really see peter doing that - a boy from queens, a nerd, all of the sudden having this fame after being hated all his life (for spider-man and for being a nerd). and also, MJ is his first girlfriend! of course he's going to make some mistakes there! nothing felt fake or staged or anything. then there were things left unsaid, missed calls, circumstance... and THAT'S ALL GOOD DRAMA. i loved it all - the peter/MJ/harry triangle (and friendship because of the amnesia), the peter/gwen/brock small triangle... and OH MAN, topher grace just keeps proving that he's a great actor (he was surprisingly good in that drama/comedy from a year or 2 ago... uh, with dennis quaid? forgot the name). anyway, topher as eddie brock was the perfect choice. my only complaint is that you got a bit of brock, and a bit of sandman... but you didn't get enough of either of them. it was like just a taste of each.

there was enough here for 2-3 movies on its own, yet it somehow worked as it was. no, it wasn't long enough, but neither were the first 2. I mean come on, they never are going to be long enough.

what i loved:

- i loved the reality of peter and MJ's relationship

- the return to old times with harry's memory loss, if only for a brief moment of time

- topher grace as eddie brock

- any scene at the daily bugle

- the first fight between peter and harry as the goblin

- aunt may

- bruce campbell and the entire restaurant scene. the comedy and the drama. perfect.

- a pretty good backstory for the sandman (was worried i wouldn't like him being uncle ben's killer, but they made it work)

- thomas hayden church as the sandman

- black suit spider-man fight w/ sandman

- peter's decent into depression (kicked off by harry making MJ dump him... classic shakespeare stuff)

- harry and peter going at it at harry's house (maybe my favorite fight, no costumes, everything on the table, no holds barred)

- black-suit peter parker (his cockiness, the montage of him, outing brock at the daily bugle, asking the neighbor girl to make him cookies, the dance number)...

what i wasn't so keen on:

- peter's emo haircut as black-suit peter parker (though i got over it eventually)

- not enough venom. he comes in the last act, really didn't show off all his stuff in the fight, and then BAM, spidey kills him (though connors has that bit of the suit he was analyzing - but brock's dead)

- they introduced gwen stacy (and wow, picture perfect), but i didn't really like how they used her. she was just pretty much a pawn, and the way they left it, i don't think she likes peter anymore.

- the end fight

ok, the end fight needs it's own paragraph. so i think what kicks off the end (though we as viewers don't really know it's going to happen so fast) is that peter gets rid of the black suit, and it goes on brock. then i believe aunt may visits peter, gives him a pep talk - cut to venom teaming up with the sandman - cut to peter in front of MJs, he leaves, she gets in a cab, it's venom - cut to a news broadcast of MJ in trouble super-villian-style.

there should have been more time between when peter shed the suit and the final confrontation. ok, that's the first problem. next, the setup venom and sandman had for peter... how much more super-villiany can you get? it was just too convoluted of a plan... and maybe it works in the comics, but this movie is so real, i don't know... it just felt a little off. i don't think the news coverage helped either (something about that i didn't like either - though i did like the coverage showing quick horror-like shots of venom grabbing police officers, should have been more of that).

so peter goes to harry to get help. i loved that, didn't really see it coming. of course he says no, peter goes off and fights. the fight itself was ok, could have been better... i really think venom could have showed off more. anyway, you KNOW harry's going to swoop in, so he does - and then it gets REALLY campy. i mean, i like when spider-man is cracking wise when he's battling... but when it's the last battle, and my girlfriend-ex-girlfriend's life is on the line... they just joked around too much. and what was with them standing around like after he just saved him, and they're like, oh, whatever they said... i mean wouldn't you be RUSHING up to MJ to save her? just was weird.

they battle, "beat" the sandman, save MJ, fine... then peter's down, venom's going to deliver the final blow, and you're like "oh man, don't do it..." and yeah, harry jumps in the way. now, looking back, you kinda know harry's gotta die. i mean otherwise what, harry and spidey are going to be a crime fighting duo? and yes, it was in a similar fashion to the way his father died, very symbolic, yes i get it... but just something was off about it.

that could pretty much sum up this entire end fight sequence. something was off.

so harry's down, dying, and it's peter and venom and, i dunno... peter just beats him too fast, too easy. there should have been a little more, that's all. and i think it would have been much cooler if the suit died and brock lived - that way venom COULD come back (though, for fans of the comics, with doc connors having a bit of the suit, we could see carnage in another film).

ok, now after venom's dead, there is another case of "why are you guys talking at a time like this." sandman comes up and him and spidey have a nice heart-to-heart. WHAT?!? while i loved the dialogue, it just wasn't the right place or time for it - and yeah, maybe this guy killed your uncle ben and he's sorry about that and you'll forgive him, but HE JUST KILLED POLICE OFFICERS MINUTES AGO! what the hell!!! otherwise yeah, it was very nice, him turning into sand and wisping away in the wind... like peter letting go... very symbolic - but just no, not at the right time, the wrong circumstances. ALSO, harry's freakin' dying a few stories below! shouldn't you check on him peter?!?

anyway, so he checks on him and he's dying. it's nice, all 3 friends together for one last time - but again, something is off. i don't think the dialogue was that well written for that scene. but the sun rising, a new day - nice raimi, nice.

and then cut to the funeral, and the rest i loved. it was real cool almost ending on the funeral, mirroring the first spidey movie, but with MJ and peter standing apart. and the end, i'm glad they really didn't say anything, just started dancing. it was all there in their faces, in their expressions, their body language. they're going to try again, not "everything is fine now marry me." oh god. i was actually worried he was going to propose there at the end. glad he didn't.

all right, i think that's enough. if you actually made it to the end of this, kudos. you now know that even if i did have people to go to movies with, why they probably wouldn't go with me anyway - because i'd talk their ear off after. like this. but i had to, it's spidey 3. i was worried, but it was good. it was great. i won't go as far to say that it surpasses the others, but it could have had it been longer or the focus been tighter (and perhaps if they knew they were going to do more with the same cast, so raimi didn't have to worry about wrapping up his trilogy while leaving threads for new movies).

as a testament to how good it was, i really wanted to sneak in to another theater showing it and watch it again. i do think raimi has perfected the action/drama/horror/comedy, built upon what he had done in the first 2 and maybe did even better here in that regard. had it been longer, the enemies backstories more fleshed out, and the end fight sequence been less rushed and less sloppy... who knows. what can i say - i love me some spider-man.

- kawitchate

the death of a system

when are PS2 games gonna phase out huh? well that's a very good question. a lot of people are saying that God of War II was the last hurrah for PS2, and right now it's looking like they're pretty much right. here's a list of what's coming out from IGN:

now, if you notice, there's pretty much 2 types of games coming out on the PS2 - original RPGs and dumbed-down versions of next-gen games (hell even the new Indiana Jones game is on there, but how will it be, will the "endorphine" engine even run on PS2?). oh, and franchise titles (like tied in with movies or tv shows), but those probably fall under the category of having a next-gen counterpart.

the RPGs that are coming out are looking pretty nice - Dawn of Mana, Odin Sphere, and Persona 3 are three that i'm looking forward to - but yeah, they're all RPGs. all the dumbed-down versions of next-gen games are probably going to go the way of Spidey 3 on the PS2 - well, hopefully they won't be THAT bad, but they sure won't get the loving that their next-gen counterparts get.

also, almost all the release dates on the list have a date of 2007, with a few 2008s thrown in as well. this also seems to support the theory that the PS2 is near the end of its life.

so, is the PS2 dead? nobody really wants to say it, but i think it might be, yeah... which is sad because it's a console with SUCH a huge install base - and PS2 still sells well to this day, beating out next-gen systems almost every month! but nobody wants to develop for a current-gen system, it's time has passed. well, actually, they'll develop for it, but only as a side thing - they'll have their next-gen game to showcase and then a current-gen version on the PS2. and don't expect them to be as good as the next-gen counterpart.

rockstar's actually doing an interesting thing (*editorial note* they were ATTEMPTING to do an interesting thing... i wrote this before the Manhunt 2 debacle, a post for another time) - since the Wii is graphically a current-gen system (not next-gen like the 360 or the PS3), they are developing their Manhunt 2 game for the Wii and PS2, since they're graphically similar. if more developers did something like that, the PS2 could have some more good games on it before it's time is up... the problem is, most developers are developing on the Wii because of its unique control scheme, which the PS2 doesn't have. a game like Manhunt will be fine on both systems since it was originally on a dual-analog and the Wii controls are the ones actually being added on to the game - but if you're out to make unique content w/ unique controls for the Wii, porting to the PS2 would be a problem.

to sum it up: it would be smart to continue to develop original titles for the PS2 since it has such a huge install base and next-gen development costs are high, but the fact of the matter is, next-gen is here and nobody wants to look back. i'm one that really didn't think we needed next-gen yet, but the console life cycle was due for another generation of systems right about now. so start saving up for that 360, PS3, or Wii... or you won’t be playing many more new, original games.

- kawitchate

prison break not broke

so almost a month after they aired i finally got to see the last 3 episodes of prison break season 2 - thank you internet! to refresh your memory, these 3 are basically the ones that take place down in panama (well, the 1st of the 3rd, part of it was them leaving for panama). first off, was it me or were these episodes really rushed? like, a lot happened, a lot more than in a usual episode. what's weird is that there were only 22 episodes in the season, so they had room to do 2 more (most seasons are 22-26 episodes long)... so why didn't they?

what'd i think? typical prison break - you've got to forgive some of the bad writing to get to the really good writing and plot twists. bad writing: why did sara's trial happen so quickly. good writing: who ended up in jail at the end and why. honestly, i thought in the 2nd of the 3 episodes, where sara was on trial, that SHE would end up in jail and michael and link would have to bust her out next season. nope. things just SNOWBALLED and all of the sudden is she not on trial any more (which was pretty good writing, having that guy come and testify, knowing what was coming) and showing up down in panama?!? (bad writing - how the hell did she know where michael was exactly? i guess it was in the phone message to her, but they didn't play it so... well, whatever).

i'm surprised at just how MUCH they left hanging... michael's in prison, yes, but i thought they'd have link and sara get together and say definitively "we've got to bust them out." instead, they're separated right now, and who knows if they'll get together to break him out. sucre is bleeding in the middle of the street... bagwell, well he's back in prison (and i'm just about positive he'll be showing up in prison with michael and the FBI guy), billick, who knows where he went... there was just TOO MUCH up in the air, it was weird. and all the teases and hints at what the company wants with the brothers... yet they didn't give us enough! it was kinda bad writing... they should have unveiled SOMETHING - i mean they did at least show that the name of the prison where michael went is the SONA name that the company was talking about... but that's not enough. they should have showed at least something else in that lab in the final minutes, where the general guy said "that's what we want him to do" (in reference to michael breaking out again). just wasn't enough.

overall, did i like it? hell yes. as much as i wanted the FBI guy to get his just desserts, it's cool that he's got nothing to live for now and is in the same prison as michael (who put him there). wish they didn't kill kellerman, he was just starting to get REALLY interesting. glad the black escape convict is out of the story (or at least i hope he is) - it's funny, of all the convicts i think i cared about him the least. and he makes it. haha. weird.

so yeah, i'm hooked. i'm still amazed that they're managing to stretch this idea out as much as they have - that's why i KNEW someone would have to end up in jail again (i mean the name of the show IS prison break)... if the writing continues to be more on than off, i'll tune in next year. however, if the story starts to whiff of "same old, same old," or if it just gets too far out there (the whole thing with the company "needing only one schofield alive" for some kind of experiment or something is a little out there for me), i'll be done. i just hope that michael and link get to take the fight to the company next season - something i actually thought would happen this season... remember the ads for prison break after its hiatus over christmas, saying how michael and his brother had been running for too long and now it was time to strike back? well they did, for a while, but then the last few episodes were them on the run again. they need to take down the company once and for all. THAT would be awesome.

- kawitchate

delving into the past for the future

to help start my blog off, i'm digging through past emails that most my friends didn't bother to read (see my first post - it's why i'm blogging now) and i'm going to post them here for you - the invisible, omni-present "you" - to read. don't worry, i'm not going back too far, just to the end of this television season. i believe we've got 3 hefty reviews of television shows, a post on what i'm watching and not watching on tv, a rundown of the good and the bad of this past season of television, a Spidey 3 movie review, and a video game soap box on whether or not i feel the PS2 is dead - not if i FEEL it should be, but if it is.

- kawitchate

introductions and rules of engagement

i've finally done it. after years of having friends bitch at me for sending out emails to all of them about lame topics they didn't care about, i've gone ahead and carved out a little piece of the interweb for myself... to save them the trauma of reading a long review of a movie they didn't care that much about, or musings on a video game they will never play.

i have a blog now. this will be my home.

i was adamantly against getting a blog because i thought blogs were for people that felt their opinions were important enough to put out there for everyone to see. while i still feel like this, i guess i don't care anymore. i'm a writer, and i like to write. this will be a place to write about stuff i like - video games, tv, comics, books, and movies.

this is not my first time posting to the web - just 9 months ago i set up a student website showcasing my design skills and before that i was published on Gamasutra... and before THAT, well, let's just say i've got a still snapshot of myself circa 1998. my favorite band? Bush. don't remember them? i don't blame you. all these things still exist out there, so go have some fun trying to track them down. google me, i'm not shy.

my name is Ryan, and this is my blog. i will put up long posts, and i will put up short posts. i'll be reviewing a movie one post and tackling game design issues the next (though i'd have to feel really passionate about a design subject to do that on my off-time since i'm a professional game designer by trade). there will be no capitalization except for proper names (most of the time). the writing will be very stream-of-consciousness with lots of hyphens - i love hyphens - and parenthesis (i love parenthesis too).

i apologize for none of it and all of it.


Level 18 Druidic Samurai Thri-Kreen
Clan Chameleon