Join Brad, Andrew, and Tori as they try to survive through Guilermo Del Toro and Hideo Kojima’s latest nightmare, PT. Better late than never, eh?
Thursday, September 18th 2014 was the release day of Tusk, the first of the “True North” trilogy of films based on particular episodes of “Smodcast”, hosted by the movie’s director, Kevin Smith, along with his producer buddy, Scott Moiser. There was also a special promotion going on: if you take a picture of your ticket stub and add a certain hashtag on twitter, your handle gets to be in the credits for the DVD and Blu-Ray release. I’m sure that hardcore Smith fans and those interested in having an excuse to have a listing on IMDB saw it opening night. It being a Thursday night, there were bound to be a decent crowd for the screenings on Friday, or at least I would like to assume that. I wasn’t able to see the movie until Saturday. Typically, I’m a movie goer that likes to go to the theater by themselves, not because I’m a loser (although I won’t deny that), but I do like to watch movies without much chatter. It turns out I got exactly what I asked for.
The only really downside of watching Tusk in an empty theater is that I really can’t gauge the reactions of others. That’s why this is movie is going to be difficult for me to recommend.
Tusk is based on a fake ‘for rent’ listing on an English classified website. The imaginary landowner offered free rent, but in exchange, the tenant must dress up as a walrus for two hours a day, to aid in recreating the friendship landowner had with a walrus. This hoax gained a lot of popularity due to just how bizarre the idea was, which eventually ended up as a point of discussion on Smodcast. After some back and forth with Moiser, they discussed how a horror movie based on the ad would go. But afterward, the idea of the movie was secured planted in Smith’s mind, to the point of asking his Twitter followers if they would actually like him to make this movie. Thanks to #WalrusYes, Smith got the answer he wanted to hear. Only a bit over a year later, Tusk is available for American audiences to see.
Wallace Bryton, played by Justin Long, a Smith veteran, is a podcaster who travels around the country to interview “weirdos”, then, in a deprecating fashion, recounts how it went to his co-host, played by Haley Joel Osment. Wallace eventually ends up in Canada, where he meets Howard Howe (Michael Parks), a wheelchair-bound man who had plenty of adventures to share. But before Wallace realizes something was off about Howe, he falls victim to an extraordinary produce that leaves him as close to being a walrus as possible.
I think that alone should be enough for you to determine whether or not you would like to see the film. But as a completely unqualified reviewer, it’s my duty to help you out with making the right choice (for yourself, at least.) First off, “Tusk” tries to present itself as a horror movie. There isn’t much violence or gore in the movie, but there may be a few parts that could creep you out. Overall, I feel that the comedic elements overshadow the horror aspects of Tusk. I’m usually not on for horror films, but Tusk was an easy sit-through. Michael Parks, who also starred in Smith’s previous film, Red State, brought his A-Game, delivering a performance that brought the traits of Howe, which can leave you admiring the character until he reveals his true left. There was also another character, played by an actor I’m sure you know of, that was rather eclectic and notable, but I rather not ruin the surprise for you, if you decide to watch the film. The rest of the performances were good enough to where I can’t have any grips against them. As for the characters though, aside from Wallace and Howe, I really felt that they did not deserve as much screen time they got, which was a good fifty percent of the movie. Most of it is just comprised of pointless drama that failed to get me intrigued. I just wanted to see more of the walrus. Speaking of the walrus, the practical effects used was great enough to have you taken back at how much work went into creating the walrus. But if you’re like me, you’ll can’t help but laugh at how ridiculous the whole thing is. I’m not just talking about the walrus, but the whole movie itself. You would be doing yourself a disfavor if you come into this film, expecting to be scared. But that where I think the movie fails. Smith said many times in interviews and his podcast, calling it a horror movie. But there was not enough material to praise Tusk as such. I believe the target audience Smith had in mind for Tusk was his loyal fans, along with himself. When I say loyal, I mean beyond just enjoying his movies. In order to really appreciate the film for what it is, you would have to be familiar with Smith’s work in podcasting. References to his shows, like Smodcast, Plus One, Hollywood Babble-on, and Edumacation, are littered throughout the film. There isn’t much witty dialogues you have come to expect of Smith films that can be found in Tusk. The absurdity is the movie’s only saving grace, and even that’s stretching it.
I give Tusk a 3 out of 6. Unless you are a Kevin Smith super fan boy, the only way I can imagine people enjoying this movie is by watching it with a group of friends and savor the screen time that the walrus gets. I get the feeling that Smith’s intention will be lost among mainstream audiences, probably expecting some spooks but instead laughing at how dumb the movie is and writing it off as terrible. If you are going to watch the film, do yourself a favor and listen to the Smodcast episode that inspired Tusk beforehand. You’ll get a better idea of what you’ll get out of the movie. There was a part of the podcast episode I figured wasn’t going to show up in the movie, but I was surprised to see it as a scene. It turned to be my favorite part of the movie, since the movie went full out stupid at that point. From time to time, it may be good to watch stupid movies, perhaps to loosen up a bit. I know I said this many times throughout this review, but please be aware of what kind of movie this is. If you still are unsure, just wait until it hits Netflix. That way, if you don’t like it, the only thing you’ll end up wasting was time and not money.
In March 2005, a mere eight months before the release of the console’s successor, the XBox received a title that received critical acclaim and not much else. This could describe several games that came out on the XBox that aren’t Halo, but, unlike Psychonauts or Barbie Horse Adventures, Phantom Dust was never released on another platform.
Until today of course.
Phantom Dust was born out of Microsoft tapping a huge amount of Sega’s talent. Panzer Dragoon Orta, Toe Jam & Earl III: Mission To Earth, Jet Set Radio Future, and GunValkyrie were released directly by Sega. Phantom Dust itself was directed by Yukio Futatsugi who previously worked on the original Saturn iterations of Panzer Dragoon. Microsoft needed to court the Japanese market; they still have a hard time selling today, and the PlayStation 2 days coupled with a new brand didn’t help. Ambitious titles like Project BC and True Fantasy Live would be cancelled, and other titles like Fable and Brute Force would under-deliver. Phantom Dust was a risk, and it wasn’t one Microsoft wanted to take.
An English version of the game was canned by Microsoft before it saw release; the game would receive a deal between Majesco and Microsoft to see the light of day here. It was exactly the game the XBox could’ve used years earlier. Yet it came out to little fanfare as hype for the XBox 360 built.
Now it’s seeing the light of day again. A release on the XBox One seems like a bit of waste, but at least now we can hope that Microsoft will release the title to PC in a few years. Here’s both a Let’s Play of the original title from a fan site, and the newly released teaser that shows no gameplay of the remake.
The most interesting take on E3 lies not in IGN, Kotaku, Polygon, etc. but on business channels and newspapers. We know how the hype train goes in the former; the latter reports on E3 with a sense of bewilderment and detached sensibility that’s incredibly intriguing after more than a decade of the expo.
I’ll be using two examples: one from CNBC (which was hilarious, and I’m sure someone will save the clip), and one from the Wall Street Journal. Both from today. Both are directed towards businessmen. Stockholders. People betting on whether or not it’s a good idea to invest in any of the companies we’re concerned about producing games. The misinformation, confused statements, or lack of mentioning certain companies was more amusing than seeing heavy British accents in revolution-period France.
CNBC: the main discussion amongst their contributors was how well Microsoft would benefit from exclusive DLC and Gamestop. The DLC in question? Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. It’s hard to tell outside of our bubble of gaming news if that would effect sales; really, it shouldn’t and it instead creates a stronger sentiment against Activision-Blizzard and their yearly releases. The stock jumped up slightly from the news. If there was a mention on it being a timed exclusive I didn’t hear it. More hilarious was the Gamestop name drop; a contributor that had no idea what digital distribution was thought it was a great, underpriced investment due to used game sales and thought their focus was still on games (they’re switching their business platform to include cell phones).
The other more credible news source setting up articles for later in the week was the Wall Street Journal. Hyping up a console war, with no mention of PC gaming or sales, they had a good twenty paragraphs of the Xbox One versus the PS4 and lingering Wii U sales. Canned statements from Take Two Interactive, Nintendo, Sony, and Kotaku littered the article. They pointed out some of the concerns around the Xbox One since release: the pointlessness of the Kinect, the threat of taking away used games, and price. There was no mention that the majority of games for the Xbox One are available on other platforms, especially PC, and they play better elsewhere.
The writers, Ben Fritz and Nathan Olivarez-Giles, also defined the Wii U Gamepad as just being a tablet, “instead of the usual mix of thumb sticks and buttons…” They did get the information of sales being up since the release of Mario Kart 8, but the article is missing key information that could be useful to their target audience: investors. And unless a company is private like Valve we definitely need to keep an eye on that also. Super Smash Brothers will move the most units later in the year; something that we’d all want to take advantage of if our goal was to pump-and-dump money into a company. Yet there’s no mention of it. Instead, there’s the statement from Take Two that they’re committed to the Xbox One and PS4; an entirely fruitless statement since it’s stating the obvious and merely that they’re sticking to the status quo.
News will be flooding out on E3 continuously. I’ll be keeping my eye on news not for me but for the monied elite instead through out.
A Million Ways to Die in the West is Seth McFarlane’s latest attempt at making the masses laugh with poop and dick jokes, except that he’s
actually starring in this one. The real question though, is did it actually work?
I will admit first and foremost that I’ve never been the biggest Seth McFarlane supporter as a lot of his joke just hit as slightly too immature
to me. I also never enjoyed Family Guy as much as everyone else seems to. That being said though, I enjoyed Ted and figured that I’d give this movie a shot.
The plot of the movie is pretty simple, Albert (Seth McFarlane) a coward from the west who hates every second of it is broken up with by his girlfriend Louise(Amanda Seyfried) after chickening out on a duel. Albert is determined to win her back and tries to get help from his friend Edward (Giovanni Ribisi) and his prostitute girlfriend who won’t sleep with Edward until marriage because they’re christian Ruth (Sarah Silverman). Meanwhile, rough tough bandit Clinch (Liam Neeson) plans on robbing a town, but doesn’t want his girlfriend Anna (Charlize Theron) harmed, so he sends her to stay in the town of Old Stump in the meantime. Albert eventually finds out that Louise has a new boyfriend, the owner of the moustachery, the suave and handsome Foy (Neil Patrick Harris). In the middle of a particularly brutal bar fight, Albert saves Anna and they get to know each other. They decide to attend the fair together so Anna can make Louise jealous. After quite a bit of mocking, Albert challenges Foy to a duel, but not knowing how to shoot, requires Anna to provide some teaching. The next chunk is very predictable, montage of getting better at shooting while they “subtly” fall in love. One of clinch’s henchman see’s Anna kissing Albert the night before the duel and tells Clinch who is know back from his job. He goes over to Anna’s hotel and kidnaps her. And of course, the movie wraps up with Albert having to rescue his new love from the big bad Clinch and prove he’s not a coward.
You get a feel for how the movie will go by the opening credits as the names pop up, you get some music and some dramatic stills of the west. Of course, by the third name, you’re bored and just want the movie to get started. This kind of sets the pace for the movie, as it just constantly drags its feet with the pacing. Occasionally, it’ll hit
it’s stride and carry you through a good 20 mins before coming to a screeching halt to have Seth McFarlane’s character tell a joke that falls flat that brings the whole
thing sliding to a stop on it’s face.
Pacing aside though, the movie has quite a few jokes that had me laughing. While this movie definitely doesn’t take itself seriously, (Seth McFarlane seems to know just a
little too much about the science and how things work, and many references are made to things that weren’t around at the time of the west, but it’s a comedy so I’ll allow it.), It seems to take itself “too” un-seriously at times. The amount of dick and fart and poop jokes can’t be counted your hands and feet. Some of them are pretty funny, but some just have you starring at the screen and pointing, asking why that was necessary (I’m looking at you sheep scene, you know which one).
The best part of this movie is the supporting cast. Neil Patrick Harris is on point and even though his lines aren’t that particularly amazing, he adds charma and wit to them and you can’t help but laugh. Liam Neeson allows them to do something to him for the sake of a joke that I will never look at him the same way again. The true gem of this movie is all the little references it makes including a Doc Brown visit as well as cameos by Ryan Renolds, Gilbert Godfried, Ewan McGregor that last all of 10 seconds each but are great for that always fun game of “hey that was X”.
Overall, the movie was decent, it was funny and had lots of little funny moments that keep me thinking back and chuckling. While the plot was standard predictable, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. The pacing overall though was incredibly poor, and if not for some of the actors, this would have continued to skid on it’s face. Overall though, I would recommend this as a redbox movie to watch in a large group, probably some alcohol involved.
Million Ways to Die in the West 3:6 (Average, nothing really special)
Join NUReviews as we discuss the latest Super Smash Bros news from the Super Smash Bros Direct!
Super Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS, Dr. Wily’s Theme, and Jogging Theme are creations of Guardian Soul.
All other music is from the Super Smash Bros. Brawl Soundtrack.
Unity, the code-name of the next title of the Assassin’s Creed series, has just received a sneak peek video. It’s supposedly alpha footage (which it very well may be), but it seems too good to be true given the graphics of Assassin’s Creed IV. Then again, this title will not be hindered by the XBox 360 or PS3. Ubisoft has so far been planning to release two titles holiday 2015; one for last-gen consoles and this one for next-gen.
The series itself is getting a bit stagnant. The weakest part of Assassin’s Creed IV is the actual assassin bits; I really just wanted to play a pirate game with decent graphics, and, if the meta-commentary of the game is to be believed, the developers just wanted to develop a pirate game too. The French Revolution setting should be interesting, but the gameplay needs to advance a bit. A difference in the parkour, better swordfighting, or at least more assassination options (poisoning food?) would help.
We’ll know by this Christmas how the game fairs. In the meantime, I can only hope Ubisoft doesn’t screw up Watch Dogs.