Rainbow Six: Siege October 2016 Update Preview & Season 4 Wishlist

With the next major update coming for Rainbow 6 Siege tomorrow (Thursday, October 27th 2016, to be exact), many are still speculating what the future operators will be. Ubisoft has been very good about avoiding leaks.  We’ve tried to get coerce some comments or find some reliable sources but we got very little. Of course, you can always leave it to Reddit to feature know-it-alls and trolls who claim they have privileged information. Word on the street is that there will be more fire, perhaps a napalm grenade, white phosphorous explosive, or some sort of flamethrower. The latter would be quite OP in a game that is so heavy on CQC (Close Quarters Combat).

https://www.reddit.com/r/Rainbow6/comments/3wt3ab/leaked_dlc_operator/

Rainbow Six Siege Japanese Operators Leaked

For us folks in the GeekyAntics Xbox community, we’re more thinking about the stuff that really matters (though the hot newness is always fun to talk about):

  • How can we make a great game even better?
  • What will keep this game fresh and fun?
  • Can we please fix multiplayer?

To tackle these questions, we have to look at things from the perspective of a game designer, not just avid gamers. It’s easy to fall into the trap a lot of jaded gamers have fallen into. On the Ubisoft support page, the entitlement and trolling is out of control. Players assume that Ubisoft abandons their online games yet the proof points to quite the opposite. Just look at the major update to Tom Clancy’s The Division patch 1.4, which addresses everything the community outcry has been highlighting: character balancing, abandoned groups, bullet sponge enemies (time to kill too long), incursions (time to complete too long), and damage scaling, making for a far more enjoyable experience for all, particularly in PvE.

We’ve identified several questions and challenges to be considered as Ubisoft continues to iterate upon an already fantastic game. Many of these questions are common concerns we hear from our fellow Tom Clancy shooter fans:

  • Do you want to cut down on players going outside?

  • What about “exploits” in Bomb mode (i.e. guarding the bomb from outside the objective)?

  • Should the glare from sunlight be reduced? What about gadgets to mitigate the effects of darkness and bright lights? Would this impact the game negatively?

  • How do you get players to play objectives and roam less? Should you?

  • How do you avoid splitting the player base while keeping serious players together and trolls separated?

  • More daily/weekly challenges, unlockables, and other sticky features

  • Acknowledge and reward players who display good sportsmanship, don’t leave matches often, and put in many hours a day/week.

  • Should you display how many players are on which modes or at least the total online players?

With those design tenants in mind, the following wishlist comes to mind. The first few are what we consider critical to the continued growth and success of the game and the rest are more “for funsies”. Let’s look at some of the items line by line, then we’ll discuss!

Critical Wishlist

  • Stabilize net code and session management – disconnections during ranked and unknown

  • Improve accuracy and reduce “magic shot” and “lean glitching”

  • More utility options for operator kits, particularly with explosives.

  • More breaching options so you’re not “stuck” when Thermite dies

  • Maps that allow for more sniping, stealth, and long-range combat, improving the gameplay variety beyond the usual CQC

More Game Modes

  • Blitz – Lightning round matchups in smaller areas of the maps. Variants for Hostage and Secure Area.

  • Tactical Supremacy – Two rounds of gameplay in the standard formats with a special rule: you get style points. The team with the highest score in the end wins.

  • Scavenge – Sweep hot zones for cargo shipments.

  • Mics only?

Player Incentives & Good Behavior Reinforcement

  • Communication – Reknown bonus for mic players?

  • Sportsmanship – Reknown bonus for good sportsmanship when playing down two or more players (not if they are voted out or TKed, though)

  • Patience – Stay in queue reknown bonus and bonus multiplayer for staying within a reasonable radius of objectives

  • Kudos – Give bonuses to players who are friendly, good team players, and/or communicate effectively

Fixes For Troll Kicks & Griefing

  • No or limited vote kick option for ranked

  • Show who started the kick vote?

  • Surrender option?  (NO!)

  • Segregation of griefers

  • Bonuses for playing drug-free

Operation: Dust Line... Rainbow Six: Siege, now with more cocaine??

Miscellaneous Wishes

  • Make situations co-op and bump up rewards, perhaps?

  • Buzzsaw device for breaching (an alternative to Sledge and Thermite)

  • A device that cuts ropes when they cross window thresholds (may chop a head off if a player tries to peak)

  • Give IQ a gun with EMP charges?

  • OICW (Objective Individual Combat Weapon) options with corner-rounding camera for tactical insertions

  • Snake camera (a’la Splinter Cell)

What about the Japanese operators everyone is clamoring for? I know many are hoping for katanas and shurikens, which would be cool.. But I don’t see that as being very realistic because it’s kind of racist. I must admit, though: it would be cool to have a melee option that was more reliable than the tiny little knife. It’s embarrassing when you fall short of a melee kill. On the flip side, it’d be cool to have an operator that can’t be easily shanked. Maybe he can catch the blade with his hands and counter. Oooooh – no we’re talking!

I think the Japanese operators will be more on the side of realism than fan service. With the Japanese being world leaders in tech, maybe we’ll see some really cool high-tech gadgets. Perhaps a robotic aide or virtually indestructible recon device? I’d personally love to have more diversionary gadgets like a persistent noisemaker machine. Smoke and explosives can do this well but it always feels like a waste when you use them so frivolously and have such a limited supply to work with.

We may finally see a quartermaster type operator or addition of new gadgets with the season 4 expansion. It’d be nice to have field refills because it sucks when your main weapon runs dry. Even better, maybe one of the Japanese operators will have “quick draw” options so you’re never caught with your pants down during a fire fight. I’ve tried to ask enemies to allow me to refill before continuing our duels but it rarely works, sadly. Anywho, lots of potential with the Japanese operators so we’ll have to wait and see!

Putting It All Together

First and foremost, people are tired of the issues with the net code. Mismatches on rank, random team disconnections, and strange issues with fluctuating latency have the community begging Ubisoft to “stop making online games” or “sell to a better company”. With the latest incremental update (not the official season update), matchmaking has become far slower, creating more civil unrest of the entitled geek variety… [Read more…]

A Love Letter To #AGDQ2015 And The Speedrunner Community

Speedrunners - Everyday Gamers Going To The Extra Level!

With AGDQ2015 ending soon, I am surprised to find myself experiencing a rush of unexpected emotions.  I feel sadness, excitement, hope, intrigue, and perhaps some confusion.  There’s only a few hours left in the event.  I can’t wait to claim my free time back (and get back to streaming myself) but I also feel like a bit of a fanboy here..  I don’t want it to ever end.

AGDQ, Awesome (or Awful) Games Done Quick, is a yearly event where speedrunners play games in marathon sessions to aide wonderful causes like the Prevent Cancer Foundation.  It’s a joint effort between Speed Runs Live, Speed Demos Archive, GamesDoneQuick.com (and the respective Twitch.TV channel), their sponsors, and the fantastic gamer geek community thereof…  But saying just that does not really explain what makes it so awesome!

I feel like AGDQ is the Christmas of the gaming community.  It’s the warm fuzzies and feeling of being at home with family that often lacks otherwise.  Sadly, just like Christmas, it’s over just as fast as the hype builds up.  DOH!

 

Stigmas Surrounding The Speedrunner (& Pro Gaming) Community

I used to think that the speedrunner community was just a bunch of young elitist hardcore gamers looking down upon the filthy casuals.  I worried that it was more of the exclusive behavior that scares people away from what should be a more wide-spread, accepting community as a whole.  I can just picture the stereotypical anti-social, pimple-faced kid in his mom’s basement, telling everyone to be quiet as he attempts to shave .5 seconds off his best ANY% time.

Speedrunning is so hardcore that there are even games coming out dedicated to the speedrunners.  It can be off-putting for those that want a challenge but don’t have the skill or time to invest.  It’s even more discouraging when pro gamers are beating games literally blindfolded (yes, that is a thing).

Does this mean that we are not skilled if we can’t accomplish these kinds of feats?  Are we merely filthy casuals to the speedrunners?

Zelda: Ocarina Of Time blindfolded run SUCCESS with Runnerguy2489 - his reward?  SILLY STRING!

Zelda: Ocarina Of Time blindfolded run SUCCESS with Runnerguy2489 – his reward? SILLY STRING!

Of course, there are the silly fools who refuse to share tips and tricks.  This is not exclusive to gaming but it happens often throughout our beloved community.  Everyone tends to feel that they know something super-secret that no one will ever figure out.  They wrongfully think this exclusive knowledge is their secret weapon.  What’s encouraging is that I’m starting to see, more and more, that AGDQ and other communities are really trying to share the fun and expand the space.  Most speedrunners today WANT others to succeed!

I’ve also learned that, while all that bad stuff mentioned above is sometimes true, AGDQ and other efforts are trying to share their passion for gaming with other and there’s really something here…

[Read more…]

Is Doctor Who A Proper Kid’s Show?

Family Television - Is Doctor Who A Proper/Appropriate Kids TV Show?

We have been having a debate whether or not Doctor Who is is still a kids show. In TWTT EP 6,  Yomar Lopez & Stan Faryna talk about whether or not Doctor Who is appropriate for kids. Yomar & myself think Stan is over-thinking things. I wouldn’t say its a show just for kids, rather than a family-oriented show where you can watch with your family or your children can learn something from it as well. I know what you are thinking, ” So KiNg, You are telling me my kids can learn something from TV other than rotting their brain cells?”, YES! Yes they can. I will touch on that subject in a sec, but first a brief introduction:

I am a father, blogger, Browncoat, gamer, geek, graphic designer, techie, vaping enthusiast, and Whovian. I have a <3 for ampersands, & just plain out of my mind.  Now that that’s over, thanks Yomar, on with the show!

Do you think Doctor Who is just a revisited & reimagined show from the 60’s with a silly man in a blue box?

If you said yes, then you are correct, but it is more than bow ties, fezzes, fish fingers & custard.  If we know where to look the Doctor can teach our children some very important lessons.

You Are Fantastic

If it is the only lesson your children ever take from this Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey series, then that is enough. They are fantastic. The Doctor teaches us to be the best that we can be & sees that in everyone, but he also values himself & that is such an important understanding to have. In the words of the Ninth Doctor
You were fantastic, & you know what? So was I!

You Were Fantastic - The Ninth Doctor Played By Christopher Eccleston

Friends Are Important

Rose Tyler’s painful goodbye,  the first companion ever to die, The Doctor shows how significant it is to have friends & to trust them. The 10th Doctor would never take pity on anyone when he is alone, he is Fire & Rage but when with a companion he is passionate, & caring. It shows us why we need our friends to help us stay on track & to give us a slap (or a gentle nudge) when we’re out of line

Change Is Good

Children experience change throughout their young, delicate lives – from growing to finding their feet to being taken around the world by their parents. The Doctor regenerates, he becomes someone new & he faces each change with eagerness & joy. Change means success & evolution & the Doctor makes this light.

[Read more…]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Movie Review #TurtlePower #TMNT

Ninja Turtles Movie 2014

Written By Fred Rojas a.k.a. @Spydersvenom
Visit Fred at http://gaminghistory101.com and The B-Team Podcast.

 

tmnt_posterTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT), the 2014 live action reboot, is finally here.  I say this because we’ve been seeing coverage on the movie’s development for over a year and it all seemed to be bad news for the franchise.  That’s significant for many of us that were kids when the comic launched in 1984 and eventually transcended every major medium over the course of the fifteen years that followed.  In short, you couldn’t get away from these “heroes in the half shell” in the late 80s/early 90s if you were tuned into pop culture in the least.  TMNT is a bare-bones, predictable plot where a vapid lead reporter stumbles into one troubled situation after another while immature childlike creatures try to protect her with pointless explosions and IQ-free action sequences.  Don’t think I’m being negative; that’s exactly what the Ninja Turtles have been all along, and this film nailed it.

tmnt_april

It’s the strangest dichotomy from start to finish.  On one hand you’re watching a familiar plot as April attempts to break a story on the nefarious foot clan that has plagued New York City.  On the other hand you’re introduced to a new aesthetic for the Turtles that takes some getting used to.  As you progress through the film’s 100 minute jaunt everything will begin to bleed together and suddenly you don’t question a Shredder that looks like the Predator.  Despite these visual setbacks, TMNT still remains quite self-aware and has no problem digging deep into the vaults and featuring characters like Vernon Fenwick (Vern) or using the line “tonight, I dine on turtle soup.”  There was even a line where Vern asks April if the Turtles may be aliens and she mentions how dumb that concept would be – which those that followed the film’s development will note was the original idea for this reboot.  I even have to commend the frantic camera work of Lula Carvalho that seems to borrow from some of my favorite parts of the cartoon show, in some cases matching the shots exactly, because I never would have imagined it be allowed in a major film.

tmnt_turt_cast

While Michael Bay did produce this film, his touch is barely present in the grand scheme of things and probably is the last name you should be interested in.  I wasn’t thrilled with writing duo Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec (of Alias fame among others) penning the script, but a third involvement of Evan Daughtery (Snow White and the HuntsmanDivergent) did assist in grounding the plot and giving it a justifiable ending.  Director Jonathan Liebesman’s Battle Los Angeles and Wrath of the Titans work clearly came in handy for some of the crazier action sequences – there’s an excellent snowy mountainside sequence.  Many criticized Megan Fox for being the hot chick without much talent, and while I sadly must admit her acting leaves something to be desired, I would argue she fills the shoes of April O’Neil appropriately in every way except for her visual similarity to the character in comics and cartoons.  As usual William Fichtner is underutilized as Eric Sacks, who has a large role in the script but always falls short of any true character development.  I’m sure many would argue that the Turtles themselves should be mentioned, but I neither knew much about the actors nor could recognize them enough in the film to consider it notable.

tmnt_turtles

If you grew up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles you probably were introduced by a frantic cartoon whose ability to withstand the test of time is debatable.  When the live action film released it was clearly forced to use drama and one-liners to conceal the fact that big guys in rubber suits cannot emulate their cartoon counterparts.  This new film is finally able to keep up with what the cartoon started, which may be great for kids and fans of the original, but dwindles to nothing more than Hollywood summer blockbuster spectacle to most others.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for it, but if you’re hoping to see some sort of gritty new well-written world where the Ninja Turtles are handled like Nolan’s Dark Knight saga, look elsewhere.  Still, I can’t help but feel that perhaps this license just isn’t suited for something so high brow, it’s just big dumb fun.

Final Score: 3 out of 5

The reviewer paid to see this film and was provided with no press passes or other promotional material.

The Existential Triad in BioShock Infinite by @Miksimum

 

Afraid of You: The Existential Triad in BioShock Infinite

 

 


Meditations

by Jesse Miksic

@Miksimum

jesse miksics

 

“One of the strengths of BioShock Infinite, acknowledged less often than
its expansive and detailed historical-revisionist steampunk setting, is
the way its narrative is punctuated. The extended forays down cobblestone
streets – and the intermittent murderous rampages – are connective tissue,
linking a series of scenes that are genuinely, jarringly emotional. The
relationship between Booker, Elizabeth and Zachary Comstock sets the stage
for some truly evocative dramatic turns, perhaps more of them – and
handled with a more dynamic sensibility – than in any other game in
memory, including narrative-heavy games like Japanese role-playing games
(JRPGs).

These moments are thematically woven together, and many of them are linked
to the original BioShock, albeit loosely. Before I dive into the
psychological and existential dimensions of BioShock Infinite, I want to
acknowledge some of these scenes, and unpack their significance.

bioshock-infinite-booker-elizabeth

[Read more…]

Essential Albums of the 80s and 90s: Combustible Edison- I, Swinger

Combustible Edison - Swing is back.. And then it's gone.

Combustible Edison – I, Swinger

Year of Release:  1994

Essential Tracks:

  • Cadillac
  • The Millionaire’s Holiday
  • Breakfast at Denny’s
  • Cry A River
  • Spy Vs. Spy

Quick!  What do alt-rock and punk bands have in common with easy listening and lounge music acts?  Give up?  The answer is simple: Sub-Pop Records signed them!  That’s right.  The record label that brought us Nirvana’s debut album, Bleach, and was known for all sorts of heavy-hitting acts is also responsible for bring us a key player in the short-lived swing resurgence that happened in the 90s.

Yeah, that was a thing and the group in question here is Combustible Edison.

Combustible Edison, also known as The Combustible Edison Heliotropic Oriental Mambo and Foxtrot Orchestra, was started by former members of a Providence, RI rock band called “Christmas” as founders of the band, The Millionaire (Michael Cudahy) and Miss Lily Banquette (Liz Cox) attempted to piece together a fourteen-piece orchestra for a show that The Millionaire had written called “The Tiki Wonder Hour.” The orchestra evolved and morphed into the five-member group which was signed by Sub Pop!

After an EP and single release, they officially released a debut album entitled I, Swinger in 1994.

While the album came out in the 90s during the (mostly ironic) swing revival, the album and music could fit in during the Big Band era of the 20s, 30s and 40s!

I, Swinger opens with “Cadillac” which opens with a swinging and bouncing drum beat and upright bass.  This is kind of a Big Band, ballroom style that could easily be the intro to a song by Glenn Miller or Benny Goodman (look them up, kids!) The song continues with a call-and-answer melody repeated by vibraphone, harpsichord and organ mixed with The Millionaire’s funky rock n’ roll guitar style. This culminates with a boogie-woogie piano riff and comes grinding to a halt after all of this repeats itself. It’s hard to believe that this was all done and composed by a five person group!

The second track on the album is arguably the most famous track by the band (and is, in fact the first song of theirs I heard in 1994).  “The Millionaire’s Holiday” starts with some soft drum play and guitar styling that could easily be mistaken for Dick Dale (again, look him up) with some floating organ over top. This is the track where we are introduced to the beautiful vocal styling of Miss Lily. It’s a two minute song with somewhat nonsensical lyrics that seem to point irony at the fact that this is swing music (“If your pad is a wax museum, be a swinger if you dare”) and Lily’s old-timey blues lady voice is almost and instrument in and of itself. Why is this song so pivotal in the history of Combustible Edison? One word: Commercials. This song was used in ads for everything from soda to cars to video games. It was also used in the soundtrack for “Four Rooms” which the band did as well.

This is immediately followed by a track that almost doesn’t fit the album.  That is not a bad thing by any means and the track is one of the best on the record. “Breakfast at Denny’s” almost sounds eerie with it’s slower pace, floating vibraphone sounds, sparse bassline, wood block percussion sounds and floating guitar. Throw in the “aaah’s” of Miss Lily and the deeper male voices of the group and the somewhat middle eastern sounding guitar melodies in the middle of the track and this could easily be turned into an entire movie soundtrack. In fact, this one was also in Four Rooms.

Four Rooms - A Comedy Compliments Of The House

“Intermission” is next.  The track literally sounds like one that would be used in an old movie theater during an intermission. I wish I could say something special about this one but, while it’s good, it doesn’t stand out. What does stand out, however, is yet another number with Lily’s vocals.

“Cry Me A River” sounds like a song that could have been a standard in Billie Holiday’s repertoire and that pretty much explains it.  It’s a bluesy, break up song. Lily’s voice is decidedly as sexy as could possibly be on this track as she sings “Cry me a river. Cry me a river. I’ll cry a river over you…”

“Impact” is next which sounds like a crazy abstract jazz piece that could have been done by Miles Davis during his “Bitches Brew” sessions.  It almost has an impromptu jam feel to it that would make any jam band (e.g. Phish or The Grateful Dead) fan happy as well and this transitions nicely into “Guadalupe” and it’s tango feeling and more of Miss Lily’s sweeping voice and a faint hint of The Millionaire’s surfer rock electric guitar.

The remainder of the album just seems to find the group having a good time and embracing the fact that they are a swing band through and through. There are goofy melodies and repeated themes from the beginning of the album (“Carnival of Souls.”) The Millionaire’s guitar style further shows itself with some more tango rhythms and some more showcasing of the group’s keyboard sections (“Veldt.”) Miss Lily even delves into foreign language lyrics (German in “Surabaya Johnny.”)

Two track bring round out the album perfectly.   While Combustible Edison did the soundtrack for Four Rooms after this album, they certainly put forth the images and style that they were meant to do scores for old spy movies and this is the whole idea of “Spy Vs. Spy.” The title itself conveys the sense of a spy flick and the strong backbone of percussion and keyboards are augmented by some more of that guitar sound! Then it all changes up to a fast paced jazz piece done on a harpsichord and back to guitars again.

Out of breath from that last one?  Well there is one more. Since the group came from the orchestra used in “The Tiki Wonder Hour,” would the album be complete without the theme from that production? Here it is. Very light and soothing. A nice way to close the album.

Jazz and lounge, Swing, Ironic, Hipster music, etc.  Whatever this is called now, Combustible Edison fits the bill and made quite a career out of it. There were more albums where this came from, but I feel this is the essential one! Sub Pop made a great decision signing these guys along with their already heavy-hitting lineup of Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Nirvana, etc. And while the swing revival may have died at the turn of the century, the music itself never will, so go ahead and embrace it. Listen to this album, sit and chill with your martini (“A glass and a shaker. Our host is a real scene maker”- The Millionaire’s Holiday) and enjoy the stylings of The Millionaire (guitar), Miss Lily (vocals and bongos), Nick Cudahy (bass), Mr. Peter Dixon (organ), Aaron Oppenheimer (percussion) and special guests Brother Cleve and Michael “Laughing Boy” Connors: The Combustible Edison Heliotropic Oriental Mambo and Foxtrot Orchestra!

 

A Review Of Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah”: Tell Your Grandma To Bring The Car Around, She Might Not Like This One

Noah Movie - Darren Aronofsky - Movie Poster Banner

Noah is a movie directed by Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler, The Fountain, Requiem for A Dream), and is about the Old Testament Bible story of Noah. You know the one. No, not the “let my people go” guy, the one with the big partyboat with all the animals.

The trailers for this movie were sort of deceiving. I wouldn’t say they lied to you about anything but they did kind of omit a lot of the more interesting parts of the story. It looked like one of those epic history movies but with Bible people and for some reason there was a firesword powered by god in the trailer. Well… Those are part of the movie, alright, but I would like to point at the director again. Darren Aronofsky scoffs at the idea of making a normal movie.

I’m not a religious person but I do have a fascination with religious mythology and the Old Testament is a well of all sorts of weird and kind of cool mythical lore that hasn’t been plundered as much as others, and Aronofsky seems to hold the same view on it.

Most direct adaptations of Bible stories are usually made by Christian filmmakers for Christian film audiences, so they usually range from inoffensive but boring to audiences that are not devout Christians to mildly offensive conservative propaganda to snuff films made by crazy drunk religious psychopaths.

Mel Gibson can't believe I said that and now believes I'm in alliance with the Jewish mafia

Oh yes, Road Warrior, this movie is… Actually, even though it does have it’s fair share of Old Testament-level violence it’s nowhere near as violent as Passion of the Christ.

Honestly this movie isn’t even that insane if you think about it, it’s actually all and all a pretty faithful adaptation of the story and tone of the Old Testament, it tackles pretty much all the focal points of the story. Cain’s descendants are dickbags who don’t care about who or what they destroy, which has led to ruination of God’s green earth, so God wants to drown them all in a flood. Noah and his children are the last from the line of Seth (the third son of Adam and Eve, the one that wasn’t a dickbag but didn’t get ganked), who are a bunch of nomads and one day Noah gets visions of the flood, which leads to the revelation of building the arc to shelter the creatures free of sin.

Really, the movie delves deeper in to the myth than most religious adaptations of it, it brings in things like the Nephelim who helped Noah as a way to redeem themselves to god and also things like how everyone is kind of related already because creationism but people still need to bone to continue the line and how the closer you are in generation to the first of men the more superhuman things you can do like crazy longevity and strength and even some supernatural things.

The acting in the movie is pretty good.  Russel Crowe is really good as Noah, he’s tough and isn’t afraid to shank Cainites who want to get on his godboat but does show that he’s still a man with a conscience and he doesn’t take his choices lightly.

Jennifer Connelly plays his wife and looks super haggard and old throughout the movie. She’s pretty good but there is one scene in the movie with her crying and begging Noah to reconsider a choice where she does go in to kind of funny diva acting territory.

Emma Watson plays Ila, an orphan girl that Noah adopts who becomes the wife of one of Noah’s sons, and as far as the younger actors in the movie she is hands down the best one. Hell, the only good one.

Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham (lel) and Japheth are pretty mediocre actors and spend most of the movie in the background doing nothing of note. Except for Ham. Ham’s substory is kinda funny because it’s him spending half the movie crying about how there aren’t any girls for him to stick his dinger in to and then the other half is him being “fuck you dad! [impotent crying intensifies]”

Mickey Rourke plays Tubal-Cain, the king of the Cainites and the sort of antagonist of the movie. He’s good, makes for a solid villain.

And Sir Anthony Hopkins plays Methuselah, the grandfather of Noah and longest living man according to the Bible. I wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be a villain at first because this is Hannibal Lecter but instead he’s more like my grandpa if he was a mountain hermit with some jesuspowers of the first men.

That’s pretty much it for the actors.

The movie’s visuals are pretty interesting. The CG isn’t realistic but it sort of tries to be, but I don’t think this is bad effects work (like a Shayamalan movie) as the effects do actually have some beautiful shots. I think the idea was to create a sort of storybook aesthetic as these are stories retold through generations. It’s a weird comparison but it’s kind of like the 2013 Riddick movie where the effects aren’t what you would consider top of the line but they do sort of create the aesthetic of paintings in some shots.

The movie has the Nephelim, who in this are these malformed rock giants who were once angels that god was disappointed in, and they are great to look at, as they look both strong and horrifying but also very sad and pitiful. They’re not CG on the level of Transformers but they’re designed and animated in a way that creates way more sympathy for these creatures than the highest resolution renders exhaust flaps on identical flipping robots destroying Chicago.

And this movie also incorporates actual science in to it, which probably makes fundamentalists way madder than the shanking and talks of boning in this movie.

Noah Movie By Darren Aronofsky - Nephilem - Giant Monster - Poster / Concept Art

The best sequence in the movie is when Noah tells the myth of creation where the days are a metaphor for billions of years, starting with the big bang, the forming of stars and solar systems, the forming of earth, the origins of life in the ocean to dinosaurs all the way to man and even in the time of Noah it’s implied that evolution still has a way to go because there’s stuff like dogs with armadillo skins.

So, overall,  I really liked this movie. I don’t think it’s even all that offensive to Christian audiences if they’re not the kind that takes the Bible’s word as scientific fact.  I came to see the movie because I heard of all the weird things in it but it ended up being a movie where I actually got invested in what’s happening.

Essential Albums of the 80s and 90s: NWA – Straight Outta Compton

NWA, The World's Most Dangerous Group

NWA – Straight Outta Compton

Year of Release: 1988

Essential Tracks:

  • “Straight Outta Compton”
  • “F*ck The Police”
  • “Gangsta Gangsta”
  • “Express Yourself”

Okay. Here we go. I am going to start this with a disclaimer. I am a white male who did not grow up in the “hood” and am in no way a racist individual. Got it? Good. Here we go.

Time to go back to the 80s. Look around the streets and listen. Boomboxes were everywhere. Rap was everywhere! And there came a time when a small cross-section of the rap genre reared its ugly head- Gangster Rap! Who was on the forefront of this controversial musical movement? A lot of groups were but leading the charge was a formation of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, DJ Yella and Eazy E (Eazy Muthafuckin’ E R.I.P.).

I am, of course, talking about NWA! That’s right. Ni**az With Attitudes! What a storm this group caused! The media flipped out because of the violent and explicit language they used. Parents lost their minds and kids loved it because “they said bad words.” (Admit it. You did. I did. We all did.)

In 1988, this group hit big after some lesser known stuff and really caused the world to pee its pants with the album “Straight Outta Compton.”

The album opens with a punch in the face in the form of the title track after a warning to prepare yourself. “You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge.” And here we go! Verses are traded between Ice Cube, MC Ren, and Eazy E. They all get to show off their style of rap here and this continues through the rest of the album.

Track two is the one that most people are familiar with and the one I am sure everyone is waiting for me to talk about. Here it comes. “Fuck The Police.” Let’s set the scene. NWA is holding court in a case against the police department with Dr. Dre presiding as judge. Ice Cube, Ren and Eazy E are all giving testimony against ignorant police officers. Violent? Yes. Unnecessarily explicit? Maybe. Hilarious? Yes! After all the testimonies are given via traded verses between the “prosecuting attorneys,” Judge Dre gives his verdict. Guilty! And then you hear the cop being dragged out of the courtroom. All through the song, you get the chant of “Fuck the police… Fuck, fuck, fuck the police” as a hook in the chorus all over 80s beats and 70s funk. Catchy? You bet!!

Most tracks on the album tell a story of street life and the trials of “gangsta life.” This is continued in “Gangsta, Gangsta.” More funky music and a great hook: “I’m the type of ni**a that’s built to last. If you fuck with me, I’ll put a foot in yo’ ass. I don’t give a fuck ’cause I keep bailin’, What the fuck are they yellin’? GANGSTA GANGSTA!” This is followed by a line from the legendary KRS One (look him up, kids): “It’s not about salary. It’s all about reality.”

The funk, flow and anger continues. There is a great self-referential track about how bad the lyrics are (“Parental Discretion Iz Advised.”) There is another single to follow up “Straight Outta Compton” which could be considered a slow jam, cover, and sample-heavy groove: “Express Yourself” which takes directly from Charles Wright’s R&B song of the same name and allows Dre to take a solo role. There are remixes of tracks that they released before this debut (“8 Ball,” “Compton’s In The House,” “Dopeman.”) And it all comes to a close with Dre and Yella producing a track that could easily be the soundtrack to a group of urban teens breakdancing in the streets (“Something 2 Dance 2,”)

All in all, this album, while controversial enough to cause Tipper Gore to go on a rampage (look it up), is a great slice of history when it comes to rap. You like the stuff from today? This is where some of it started. You don’t like rap? Do yourself a favor and at least listen to this album which has a permanent place in my list of essential albums from the 80s and 90s that you must own or listen to before you die. Little 9 year old Jake approves and current mid 30s Jake continues to approve.

Essential Albums of the 80s and 90s: KMFDM – Angst

KMFDM - Phoenix New Times - Free Show News 2011

Join me as I take you on a musical journey through time as I share the albums from the 80s, 90s, etc that are a must own or at least a must listen!

KMFDM – ANGST

Year of Release:  1993

Essential Tracks:

  • “Light”
  • “A Drug Against War”
  • “Sucks”

When I say the word “Industrial” when it comes to musical genres, what comes to mind? Groups like Nine Inch Nails, I’m sure. Maybe you even think of Stabbing Westward or, more recently, Korn and a whole crop of Nu Metal groups. All these answers are acceptable. There are even hundreds of other groups that I don’t even know.

Well, there is one group that always comes to mind for me. Straight out of Germany, it’s KMFDM! The band which started as a project of artistic expression and whose full name,<Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid, loosely translates as “no pity for the majority” originated in 1984 and released 18 albums and countless singles. All the albums are great but one stands out to me as an essential album you must own or at least listen to before you die.

Angst came out in 1993 and solidified the group as a mainstay in the metal scene at the time. They were featured in metal magazines and even had one of their songs, “A Drug Against War,” featured in Beavis and Butthead.

The album is completely mindblowing. It opens with “Light” and gets you pumped with a grindingly heavy guitar riff blending with some synthesizers that sound like the 80s and 90s are fighting each other with no clear winner. The refrain of the song will get you prepared for the album as a whole too with the line “KMFDM. Doin’ it again. A treat for the Freaks.” Yup. Get in and get pumped. The second track on the album, “A Drug Against War,” may very well be the best one and is easily the definitive track with fast paced, seizure-inducing guitars and drums, distorted vocals, sampled lines which distinctly sound like George Bush Sr saying “Bomb the living bejeepers out of those forces” and a random “Kill everything.” This is easily the most over-the-top speed metal track the band ever did and when people think of them or at the very least of this album, “A Drug Against War” is what comes to mind.

The angry and distorted lyrical style continues through the majority of the album mixing with guitar riffs that sound like they belong to classic rock greats before them like Black Sabbath (Listen to the guitars in “Blood”) and bands that came after like Rammstein mixed with 80s and 90s synth programming that could easily come from a Depeche Mode album (“Lust”). All in all, the mix of speed metal and synth is what makes the band fantastic and I feel it’s best expressed on this album.

Aside from “Light” and “A Drug Against War,” this album brought us the definitive moment in KMFDM’s history. The second to last song on the album is “Sucks.” Leave it to a band that started as a performance art project to produce a techno song discussing how much they suck. The lyrics are rapped over some of the cheesiest and most hollow sounding synth pop. “Our music is simple. Totally fake. It’s done by machines ’cause they don’t make mistakes.” There are references to hating all music “especially rap” which adds to the irony since the lyrics are rapped and a mention of hating Depeche Mode which has become a running joke as there was a rumor that the band’s name stood for “Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode.” (It doesn’t.) Why is this song so pivotal aside from being hilarious and dangerously catchy? Look at any band shirts from KMFDM in the 90s and look at any fan posts online about them. You’ll see this: “KMFDM SUCKS!” This is especially funny when non fans see it and think people are bashing the band (they aren’t)!

The band is one of my personal favorites and this album is my absolute favorite from them. I am happy to make this the first entry into my series of essential albums from the 80s and 90s. Even if you do not like them or this type of music, please do yourselves a favor and check this one out.

…And remember: “KMFDM SUCKS!”

“The Raid 2 : Berandal” Review – A Bigger And Better Martial Arts Experience

The Raid 2: Berandal - Iko Uwais Fighting Scene

This movie, man.  This movie.

The Raid : Redemption was a 2012 martial arts movie filmed in the Philippines and directed by Welsh filmmaker Gareth Evans. And it was one of the best movies of that year and one of the best action movies made in at least the past 10 years. And now The Raid : Redemption looks pretty quaint in comparison to it’s sequel.

This movie is much bigger and improves upon every aspect of the previous one. The first one had a pretty simplistic plot and characters, the second one has a more complicated plot and stronger characterization. The level of acting was completely fine in the first one but in the second one there are stronger performances by the returning actors as well as several new ones including Takashi Miike regular Kenichi Endo and the Nightmare Detective, Ryuhei Matsuda as members of a yakuza family in Jakarta. And with the larger cast and resources, you a lot more action scenes in a large variety of locations and circumstances.

While I don’t want to give away too much of the story, because it has a lot of frequent twists, the basic premise is this: The main character of the previous movie is sent deep undercover in the criminal underworld of Jakarta to find evidence of the link between organized crime and corruption in the higher ranks of the police force and ends up being sucked in to a highly destructive gang war caused by a conspiracy.

Iko Uwais, who plays Rama, the main character, was a pretty generic boyscout-ish good cop who also happened to be some kind of god of fighting. In the second one he’s still the least corrupt person but he does show more acting chops. He makes a pretty convincing thug and throughout the events of the movie his performance does show that Rama is getting tired of the constant fighting not just physically but also mentally because it’s now consuming his whole life.

Arifin Putra plays Uco, the son of the mob boss Rama works for, and is really good at playing this slimy, arrogant spoiled idiot who you want to punch in the face and is a pretty effective villain alongside Bejo,  a mysterious crippled gangster with a small army of assassins at his disposal.

But that’s not what you want to hear about? You want to hear about the awesome fighting, right? Yeah!!

Oh man. This movie has some of the best fights I’ve ever seen in a martial arts movie. Like, the hallway fight and the last fight between the brothers and Mad Dog in the first movie were great fights but pretty much every fight in this movie is like those but better. You have Iko Uwais versus dozens of angry thugs armed with anything pointy or heavy enough in tight spaces, large rooms and open areas. You have several one on one fights with crazy and awesome assassin characters, with the final one on one being the most brutal kitchen fight since Riki-Oh.

Yayan Ruhian, who played Mad Dog in the first movie, returns as a different but very similar character and has two amazing action scenes. Julie Estelle and Very Tri Yulisman play two assassin siblings credited as Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man, who are insane and awesome murder machines and Cecep Arif Rahman as “The Assassin”, who I won’t say anything about besides “oh my god I can’t this fight is too good oh shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit yooooooooooooooo”.

There’s also a really great car chase with cars flipping and crashing and people shooting each other  that is destructive enough but doesn’t turn in to a boring car spectacle like in A Good Day to Die Hard or the new Need for Speed movie.

So yeah. I think you should watch the first one and then find the nearest place where they’re showing The Raid 2 : Berandal and watch it. Several times. It’s the best martial arts movie in decades and shows what actual talent behind and in front of the camera with actual work ethic can do and puts the mediocre results of bloated budgets and overproduced focus tests of Hollywood to shame.

The Raid 2 : Berandal official poster

The Raid 2 : Berandal is in theaters now and you need to pay real cash money to see it because I don’t think you’ll see a better martial arts explosion on the big screen in a long time.