Thursday, December 20, 2007

Review Day

Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End:
Weighing in at 2 hours and 48 minutes, this movie is too long and has a plot that's more complex than it needed to be. If the trilogy were rewritten to trim the plot fat and about an hour of playing time, this would have the potential be a classic trilogy like Back to the Future. The unnecessary bloat just makes me feel like it should have been a single movie (see also, The Matrix).

Final Rating: B-

First Snow:
This is another sufficiently artsy movie with Guy Pearce. From the initial voice-over, it feels like a spiritual successor to Memento, but the plot is much more straightforward and easy to follow. If a fortune teller predicts your imminent death, how do you use the remaining time before you go? Do you try to avoid it? Use the time to say goodbye? First Snow examines this question and in the process, gives Guy Pearce another chance to show how solid of an actor he is. Pretty suspenseful, though I didn't care for the ending. Then again, the whole point of the movie is that an ending is less important than the journey to get there.

Final Rating: B

Juno:
This movie could be summed up as a more indie, less vulgar version of Knocked Up. It's filled with snappy dialogue and touching little moments. Some reviewers have called it the next Little Miss Sunshinesque movie that steals all the Oscars. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though it didn't change my life.

Final Rating: A

MI-5: Season Two:
The second ten-episode season of MI-5 was slightly better than the first. The fifth episode, during which a dirty bomb goes off in London while MI-5 is locked down in an emergency drill situation, was a must-see and worthy of any of the best episodes of 24 or Alias, but the rest of the season was just dinner fodder -- good enough to watch over a meal but not good enough to watch two in a row. I probably won't watch the remaining seasons.

The show's score is really crappy electronic music that can't hold a candle to Michael Giacchino, and the DVDs easily win the award for most annoying non-interactive cutscenes between each click of a menu option. It takes a good thirty seconds just to load an episode.

Final Rating: B-

Super Mario Galaxy:
This is the Wii's "killer app" for any video gamer that doesn't just want to pretend to bowl all day long. When I think of the Super Mario franchise, I Nam-flashback to Mario 64, the first in the series to go 3D. That game was marred by horrible camera controls, poor depth perception, sluggish controls, and levels of ever-increasing frustrations. In Galaxy, almost every one of these issues has been addressed -- the camera is occasionally flaky, and touching lava still sends your character into an random uncontrollable bounce that makes the odds very likely you'll hit more lava -- but the end result is a fun, addicting product. This is the first Mario game in years that's made me want to continue playing just to see what comes next.

Worlds are never boring, and there are enough sidequests to keep play fresh without feeling gimmicky. The final collection of levels is the only really tricky batch -- playing these will make you feel like you're playing SMB3 again -- but they're all completely optional. Boss fights take a page from the Zelda playbook: you figure out the weaknesses of the boss and then perform some action two or three times. There are also fifteen additional "Purple Coin" challenges opened up after you beat the game, but I lacked to patience to get through more than a couple.

If you own a Wii, you SHOULD own this game.

Final Rating: A+

Couple forced to take in criminal lodger
Toilet worms can't be browned off
Lowe's has everything, even your mom

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