Tag Archives: Harry Potter

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors

My girlfriend and their roommate raved about this game after they had both played it and talked about how great the storyline was. Now, I’m a sucker for a great plot and good storyline. I lived through their extolling of their game for a while until my girlfriend told me it was time for me to play. I sat down with her pink Nintendo DS and started poking all over the screen discovering just what they were raving about.

For the most part, they were right. This game was pretty ridiculously good. There’s a lot of investigation pointing and clicking with very descriptive dialogue translated from the original Japanese game. A creepy painting is pictured of the events taking place on the RMS Titanic, or so it may seem. The music perfectly accompanies the eerie feeling of threat and death that holds sway over the characters of the game. Combine this with a puzzle

The characters of 999.

solver’s wet dream, and you have 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors.

This is the story of Junpei, the character you play as through the game. Trapped in a ship’s guest quarters, you must use your wits in order to escape from a door in front of you labeled with a “5”. Once you’ve done this, the real game begins. You find yourself in a fancy looking reception hall, surrounded by all the trappings of what would appear familiar to anyone who has seen the movie Titanic. You encounter 8 other members of who will come to be your friends, your enemies, and casualties. It is up to your decisions to decide just exactly what will happen, with a few clicks of your DS stylus.

A little taste of what the game looks like (on right).

Being a not so puzzle inclined person, this game constantly frustrated me from beginning to end. Being a typical man, I like my video games to be hack and slash, gun down and slaughter. The subtle approach of solving a Sudoku doesn’t really tickle my fancy. It was only lucky that my girlfriend is so loving and patient and helped me with every puzzle. She even played some of the game for me. If you read this Kim, I love you very much for that.

I have to tell you though, if you don’t like puzzles or still frame gaming animation, don’t play this. It’s for a specific audience, (Wikipedia said in the vein of a puzzle related Mass Effect 2 by how you choose your fate) and not everyone likes to solve puzzles and use their brain as much as others. That’s not to say some people are stupid, it’s just a difference in gaming style. I like mindless self indulgence killing

Who’s this masked man? Play to find out!

games. Or Assassin’s Creed, take your pick. There’s a lot of reading, one of my other favorite pastimes, and that was a plus for this game. What I struggled to get into was the over-elaborate writing style of the translation. What could have been said in far fewer and more compelling words was long winded and said in such a bizarre way that I felt I was being pandered to as an uneducated, quaint, country bumpkin.

But my oh my, this plot has some really good points. If only to play it for plot, do so. Go out and rent the game for a few days with your Cheat Code Central at the ready and bust through this game on the double. There’s great reveals about the character’s pasts and intelligent information about scientific discoveries and thrilling mysteries of the past century. There’s killings and betrayal, and the occasional stab in the back. What you have to know about this game is you have to play it at least 2 or 3 times to win. You sit down, you reach and imperfect ending, and then you save and start back from the beginning, making different decisions and such. This gets a bit annoying, but the plot does make up for it. You have to bust your finger on the D-pad a whole bunch in this game because you can’t just skip huge chunks of dialogue you’ve already heard 4 times before. That’s a let down, but just wait.

The game begins… With dialogue.

In the end, this game really is worth playing through. If bunches of game reviewers can rave about this for its amazing plot and challenging gameplay, consider yourself a good player and go out and try it. And there’s a second one in the works for those of you who are already fans out there. Get past the dialogue and skipping and puzzling and enjoy it as an interactive story. Hell, if there was a Lord of the Rings game or a Harry Potter game that was purely interactive and not 1st person shooting and running, I’d play it in a heartbeat. 999 isn’t quite my game, but I’m glad I played it to know the mystery behind it. Maybe for those of you out there who like the Saw movies like I do, you might also find some enjoyment in the traps and puzzles. Let me know what you think and get back to me on this 7.999 out of 10 game.

Advertisements

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

I don’t know how long this review may turn out to be, but I have so much to say on the topic of Fullmetal Alchemist/Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. In what I would consider, and what others would consider to be one of the greatest and most well known anime of all time, Fullmetal Alchemist delivers on so many levels. It has so much going on and so many characters to follow and love that it’s going to be quite hard in keeping this short (that’s what she said).

All that being said, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (And its original show I’ve watched as well, and own) is the story of Edward (Vic Mignogna) and

Too many great characters to count.

Alphonse (Aaron Dismuke/Maxey Whitehead) Elric. These two brothers are into alchemy, the mystic version of what we today call science. In a world apart from our own, Ed and Al delve into the inner workings of things like equivalent exchange (In order for something to be gained, something must be lost of equal value.) and alchemic circles. Seeming to be something of the occult, these two delve into what is common practice of the early 1900s.

Living happily with their mother and father (for a time, until he leaves) Ed and Al become engrossed in the world of Alchemy. Taking every opportunity they can to learn about its secrets, the two become formidable alchemists in their own right at a very young age. And then, tragedy strikes.

Ed and Al, two brothers on an adventure.

Struck down by some unexplained illness, Ed and Al’s mother dies at an unexpected and early time in her life. While the two of them are still young (7 and 9), they attempt the taboo. The attempt to perform human transmutation. With what appears to be a straighforward procedure, the two attempt to create life from the makings of a human (i.e. water, carbon, trace elements, etc.). What they don’t account for is what costs them. Taking Ed’s right arm and left leg and Al’s entire body, Ed barely saves Al’s soul by attaching it to a suit of armor in the corner of the room. Debilitated and with no family left except some loving family friends, Winry Rockbell and her grandmother, Pinako, these two burn down their family home and leave Risembool.

This leads Ed and Al to pursue the only other alchemic object that readers of Harry Potter will be familiar with. The Philosopher’s Stone. This magical object, in the context of FMA, can circumvent the need for equivalent

Always leaving Winry behind to cry...

exchange. This object, they believe, will allow them to get their bodies back and return to a life of normalcy. But with the heavy prices and hardships in store, it won’t be that easy. Providing his services to the military state of Amestris as a “dog of the military”, a state alchemist. With Al along, the two must discover just what it means to put it all on the line for the Philosopher’s Stone.

Alchemy. It's hip.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about the later workings of the plots that go down in FMA and FMAB. After a certain amount of episodes, the two diverge in plot. Fullmetal Alchemist doesn’t follow the original plot of the manga, while Brotherhood follows it exactly. Never having read the manga (I’m an anime person, sorry.) I didn’t have a problem with either. There is some big debate and divisive opinions on the matter, but I feel the two shows stand apart, despite being about the same things. Both are quite satisfying in the end.

Great characters, old and new.

In any case, the characters in this show are wonderful. So is the voice acting. Actually, if I may be so bold, the English voice actors are just as popular with this show as the Japanese ones. Funimation did things right when they got the rights to this show and casted accordingly. But enough about that for now. We have to talk characters. I guess I’ll have to talk about characters without revealing anything about the plot. Hard to do, but I’ll manage.

Well, there’s Ed and Al, of course. These two drive the plot and give

Armstrong. Always good for a shirt rip.

wonderfully heartfelt and considerate characters to the show. Ed can be a bit hotheaded (and therein lies the comedy) but his stubborn attitude and realistic view of the world really shape our view into the world of Fullmetal Alchemist. With Al, who’s just as important, comes the caring and gentle giant (because of the suit of armor) character that I secretly admire greatly. His only flaw and greatest strength is that he cares too much. Winry comes across as the weeping damsel in distress,  one of the only female characters in the show to do so. Functioning as a sort of love interest in what is collectively called a shounen, this girl can pack a punch… comedically, whenever she needs to.

Kimblee. Badass. All in white.

And then there are some of my favorite characters. There’s Zolf J. Kimblee, the most badass villain and coolest alchemist to grace the series. With the power to alchemically turn anything into a bomb at his whim, he lays waste to everything in his paste. His nonchalant attitude about life and the love he holds for chaos is something I find to legit to quit in villainous characters. There’s Scar, the Ishballan priest turned freedom fighter. After his people were destroyed in a civil war, Scar ditches his name and uses the powers granted him by his brother in order to kill those alchemists who wronged him. He’s a bit of a conflicted character who really jumps around in the series, but he’s well worth rooting for. Roy Mustang and his surly crew of officers. Mustang is a high ranking officer among the military and effectively rules it with his ability to set anything on fire. Mirrored in his fiery attitude, he has the ambition to rule the country as Furher someday. (Amestris is basically Germany in the early 1900s. Almost hard to swallow that they’re reflecting Nazisms in this show, but it’s a choice.)

This was legit.

Then there are these creatures in the world known as Homunculi. I can’t say anything more about the topic (it’s too damn important), but I can say that they’re named after the 7 deadly sins. Their powers and personalities reflect that, and look out for Greed, Gluttony, and Pride, three of my favorites. Wrath used to be one of my favorites, but he/she is two different characters in FMA and FMAB. All of the Homunculi are key in the plot and well worth picking your favorite for how diverse and interesting their characters are. With two different explanations as to their origins, you can pick your favorite.

I enjoy this.

Now that I’m thinking about all the things that FMA/FMAB has to offer, I am starting to wish I had done a separate blog on Fullmetal Alchemist. These shows are two worlds apart, and similar in so many ways. There’s just so much to go into in detail and scope, and just not enough time to discuss it in. I don’t want to bore anyone with a long winded review, but if you do have questions you’d like answered or a specific topic I should review on my blog, let me know via comment or something. I’d love to talk about it!

Oh, all the characters and the plot I can’t get into and all that good shit. I’m now seeing this review as more of a teaser than anything. The intricate plot and reveals of both versions are well worth it. The dialogue and emotions will enrapture you in joy and sorrow. I can’t talk this up enough, can I? Well I wanna mention voice actors in English before I give this show the 10 out of 10 it deserves.

Can't even explain what's going on here.

Vic Mignogna is as iconic and well known for his voice as Edward Elric as the Japanese voice actor. Loved by many, he may always be recognized as Ed. Aaron Dismuke, one of the youngest voice actors to grace Funimation, got his start from a very young age as Alphonse Elric. With a voice that began to change as the show went on, it was all too unfortunate that Aaron could no longer fulfill the part. Maxey Whitehead did a good job in her own right, but there was

Here's a little throwback Greed.

a distinct difference in Al’s soft spoken voice. Travis Willingham delivers well as Roy Mustang, the fiery commander of the Amestris military. In what I would consider an improved performance from the original FMA, he really allowed his character to come out in Brotherhood.

Caitlin Glass does a phenomenal job as the constantly emotional Winry at all the right points. I must say though that I liked Dameon Clarke far more as Scar than J Michael Tatum. The gruff demeanor of Scar, I feel, leans more towards a man of few words than a gruff sounding religious freak. Just saying.

You beat them back, Scar, you religious freak you.

Both good, just drastically different. Who else should I mention… Eric Vale was badass as Kimblee with his, “I don’t care, I’m nuckin’ futs crazy. I’ll kill you.” attitude. Enough said there. Laura Bailey is as sexy as ever as Lust, the sexiest of the Homunculi. Troy Baker, more than Chris Patton, in the original, provides a great “I want the world and I’ll do anything to get it” voice as Greed. And, exclusively to Brotherhood comes Lin Yao, a prince from Xing with one of the best scenes and deliveries in the entire show, done by Todd Haberkorn. The goofiness of Todd disappears behind the character of Lin Yao and become something entirely different. And, of course, Christopher R. Sabat is amazing as with everything he does as Alex Louis Armstrong, the Strongarm Alchemist.

So with all these great things all in one amazing anime, why haven’t you already seen this/are watching it now? There’s no need to read this review when all I could have said is watch this show. Watch Fullmetal Alchemist and tell your friends about it. Subbed or dubbed, it doesn’t matter. Watch both versions and compare, let me know which one’s your favorite. Bask in the glory that is FMA/FMAB. It’s all good so trust The Abyss and jump right in. It’s worth it. 10 out of 10.

It all comes full circle. Full alchemy circle.


Rise of the Planet of the Apes

So the second I saw that this movie was coming out, I became instantly pumped to see it. I thought the Planet of the Apes with Mark Wahlberg (and Tim Roth mind you) was fantastic, although it didn’t receive the best of reviews. I thought, “Hey, if they’re willing to take a chance on another one, going back to tell the origins of the rise of the apes, then I gotta see this.” And see this I did. And I loved every minute of it. It wasn’t the fuel-injected adrenaline ride you expect from the trailers, it delivers a more insightful, sensitive side to Caesar and his rise to intelligence.

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes all starts with a cure for Alzheimer’s. With the AZ-112 cure, Will Rodman

Oh hey Andy Serkis, didn't realize you were Caesar.

(James Franco) has found, through ape testing, that it does in fact, reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s. With this amazing breakthrough, all those affected across the world could be cured of this fatal disease. But in a horrible accident, it appears as if the cure is not yet ready for human testing. But, as its discovered, it is sort of ready for human testing (hard to explain). But one of the apes who was tested with the AZ-112 is in fact, hyper-intelligent. Accelerating through intelligence at an incredible rate, Caesar as he is come to be known lives with Will and learns like an overly strong young boy.

Caesar and the cause of destruction, AZ-113.

Over the years, Caesar comes to resent his entrapment indoors and wishes for a more stimulating environment. But when he acts out, he is punished and taken to a wildlife “reserve” for apes. Horribly mistreated, Caesar uses his intelligence to begin the fall of mankind. I shouldn’t divulge anymore, but its well worth the watch. One thing I gotta say is that the 3-D animated apes in this film are phenomenal. The use of intelligent sign language, the movements and natural positions and actions of the apes implies that the makers of this movie really put in the effort to study apes. This build-up and framework of the apes and their rise to dominance really creates a background for an incredible plot.

And no, this movie isn’t completely unbelievable. At first, the apes’ goal are to find their own home and live there peacefully without abuse. Using their new found intelligence, they do so. But there are adverse effects to the AZ-113 (new Alzheimer’s drug) this time. And this creates a problem that causes the destruction of the humans of this world. So no, to all you out there that may say, we’d destroy those damn, dirty apes. We destroyed ourself.

With a few notable actors, this movie really brings together a good cast to tell a good story. With James Franco as the research scientist in search of a cure for

A touching, powerful film.

his father (John Lithgow), I feel the pain that losing a father could cause in this situation. It pains Franco to see his father in such a situation where he is no longer himself. And so does Caesar. Freida Pinto gives a good supporting performance for James Franco as his fellow ape lover and wife, Caroline Arahna. Tom Felton, as I’m sure most H.P. fans would agree, comes out of left field in this movie as a jerky daddy’s boy who just doesn’t like those not like himself (AKA Apes). I did enjoy his character and am happy to see he’s getting work after the H.P.’s are over. And David Oyelwo gives a good performance as the greedy exec, Steven Jacobs (Sounds like Steven Jobs… JK.)

So, all in all, this film delivered. Even Andy Serkis got in on the action as the voice of Caesar. It’s no wonder that Weta Workshops was the creation force behind the apes. With the fluidity of the story and the focus on the apes, this movie itself even became taken over by the apes. I also found it very interesting that I could identify certain apes in this film with their counterparts in the Planet of the Apes (aka, Tim Roth as Caesar, Korba as Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa’s ape Krull, and Buck the gorilla as Michael Clarke Duncan in the film as well.) With this connection and the set up for two more films from Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, this could be a promising trilogy. 9.2 out of 10.


Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Parts 1 & 2

Wow, it’s been far too long since my last post! Been busy, but now coming back more furious than ever. (Not mad.) So first things first. Let’s start with the last of the Harry Potters. Didn’t catch the midnight showing, but watched the first part the day before and the second part only 3 days after its release (matinee in the middle of the day? Yes thanks.). I gotta say, I was semi-impressed. In totality, these movies do justice to the end of an era. But separately, it just seems as if they need to be combined. (Total of 4 hours of film in a row? It’ll just be Gods and Generals with magic.) It’s the final battle, and Harry has to take on the wizard of wizards, Voldemort. If you haven’t read the books, then I won’t spoil anything for you. But here it is.

Good old Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has to find the Horcruxes. These are items in which Voldemort

Harry, Ron, and Hermione vs...

stored his soul through the act of committing unspeakable evils (a.k.a. killing people). With one down (Dumbledore’s sacrificed hand to the “ring”) and another out there in the kid’s peripherals (a locket), the adventure is set. The Ministry of Magic,

...Voldemort & Crew

Gringott’s, the Malfoy’s house, and even Hogwarts, this movie goes everywhere. And as the books did, everything sums up and becomes clearer and connected. People have always had problems with the movies not lining up with the books, but come on, there’s no way all of the info and exact actions of the books can be portrayed, so some slack has to be given to Warner Bro.’s. But that’s besides the point.

The action is fantastic. No 3-D for me though, there’s really no point in any film being in 3-D. I would continue to rant about this, but the movie industry likes the money coming in from it and doesn’t care about the headaches and unrealistic way 3-D alters the films. Oh well. The magic duels were great

Just some of the movie magic from Part 2

and the carnage was really brought to a level not a lot of children’s books would go to in theaters, hence, the PG-13 rating. The effects, as usual for every movie, every year, are top notch. The locations are interesting and breathtaking. (I always picture any adventure film outside must be filmed in New Zealand since LOTR.) It feels almost as if every location were waiting for the characters to return to play their part.

These 3 have thankfully improved over the years.

The acting, thank God, has gotten better with every film. Daniel Radcliffe’s flighty and flinty acting has improved to an acceptable level, but I’m sure, in most fan’s mind’s eyes, Harry should’ve been different. (No offense, you did the best you could Daniel.) Ron (Rupert Grint) with his older age has improved and gone on to make other good films (two I would recommend would be Driving Lessons and Wild Target.). Hermione (Emma Watson), in addition to her beauty, has become a wonderful young actress (come on, I’m her age and I’ve grown up with her basically.) who I’m looking forward to seeing in other films now that the H.P.’s are over.

There’s still the supporting cast (in reality, senior acting class that really give the movies their class) that needs to be mentioned. Snape (Alan Rickman) gives a stirring performance in Part II that was tearful, heartfelt, and lovely. It completely redeems his misunderstood character over the years. Ralph Fiennes is as

Snape. You were the best.

fierce as ever as Voldemort, scary and unrelenting as he was meant to be. Helena Bonham Carter plays the deranged (yet sexy, well at least to me) Bellatrix Lestrange, Voldemort’s right hand woman and biggest fan. Jason Isaacs plays Lucius Malfoy. Although completely defeated and beaten by Voldemort and his failings, I respect Malfoy and his wife and child, Draco (Tom Felton) for their misunderstood compassion shown in the films that is taken for cowardice. Rhys Ifans plays Xenophilius Lovegood, Luna’s father, a smaller part but still important. One of my favorite characters, besides Sirius of course.

Neville Longbottom. Just as heroic as Harry.

And there’s the rest of the kids. I won’t go through all the great acting that the students of Hogwarts have given over the years, but it’s spectacular. Neville becomes the hero he always could have been, Dean has gone through some freak growth spurt, Seamus still blows shizz up, and Luna is as quirky as ever. The whole Weasley family is amazingly brilliant, the Hogwarts teaching staff has all come back for the fight and Hagrid is disappointingly left out for pretty much all of the movie.

I feel a sadness in me as the books of my childhood leave me. When I turned 11, for that birthday I went to see the first movie with my friends. From the beginning I was blown away. The books I was reading were coming to life on screen. I was growing up with Harry as a constant friend. They were all my friends I would return to read and see every year. I, like everyone else my age, wished we were wizards. (Or had crushes on Emma Watson.) We wished we had the adventures of Ron, Harry, and Hermione. And now that it’s over, now that Voldemort has been beaten for good, what is there left to do? Will J.K. Rowling write more on Harry and his children’s lives? Will she be a one trick pony? I hope not. I hope generations to come see Harry Potter and become as bewitched with it as we all did. In its entirety, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows deserves the 10 out of 10. (Separately, Part 1 – 8.8 out of 10, and Part II – 7 out of 10) This magical empire has come to an end, but its the books that will be read and movies seen that will live on forever. In all those Muggles who believe in magic.

Will it continue? What is the future of Harry Potter?