Monday, August 31, 2009

Wolfenstein Game Review

In 1992 Id Software released Wolfenstein 3D which is considered to be the father of all first person shooters. (Check the video below.) Many other first person shooter video games would follow. For example, there would be Halo, Half Life, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, and others. In 2001, Id followed Wolfenstein with the successful Return to Castle Wolfenstein. (RTCW) Wolfenstein 3D and RTCW mixed the historical theories that Nazis were interested in the occult with science fiction to create a game in which you played U.S. Army Ranger, Captain William Joseph ("BJ") Blazkowicz with the purpose to to defeat the Nazis' plans. Recently, Id has released Wolfenstein, a sequel to RTCW, for the PC, Playstion 2 and the XBOX 360. This is a XBOX 360 review. (Trailer below.)

Again, you are Blazkowicz, secret agent for the United States. You are assigned to the German (Austrian?) city Isenstadt to discover what the Nazis are doing there. You find out that the Nazis are attempting to harness the power from an alternate dimension called the Black Sun. Lucky for you, early on you obtain one of the Thule Medallion which allows you to enter the Veil, the alternate dimension that coexists with our dimension. Entering the Veil, highlights enemies and gives you special powers. While in the city which serves as a hub, you meet up with resistance groups who will assign you tasks. This is a quasi non-linear game, allowing you to play in any order the missions.

Saving Captain Blazkowicz.

So the question becomes, "Is this game a worthy successor to the legacy of Wolfenstein 3D and RTCW?" The answer is yes and no.

The purpose of the city of Isenstadt is to give this game an open world feel. The problem is that it seems as if this is a test run for Id's future open world game Rage. The concept is half baked. There's very few things you can do in the city other than collect gold and intel. Another problem is that when you complete a mission and return to the city, there's an immediate patrol waiting to kill you. I don't mind that if I go too far away from a safe house, but you're tired after completing a mission and really want to go home and save your progress.

Saving games on Wolfenstein stinks. You would think with complaints over checkpoint autosaves that Id would not go in this direction. In fact, RTCW allowed you to save your game anywhere. Wolfenstein uses said checkpoints to autosave your game. The big problem? You have to repeat progress if you get killed before you hit a checkpoint. And you will get killed, especially at the hands of the invisible Assassins. Second, if you play offline, continuing a campaign when you reload is confusing annoyance. The program loads an earlier saved mission when you have left the game in the city. So what to do? Instead use the load a game option, and search from the list of the most recent autosaved games. If you have saved at, say Midtown West, look at the most recent Midtown West game. It should read, "Midtown West Checkpoint." Saving games was never a problem with RTCW.

Inglorious Bastards

So what's good about Wolfenstein? First, the Veil is innovative. Use the Veil. It will help you find goodies and solve problems. Controlling your character is natural and works well. One exception is running. Clicking on your left stick is a hit and miss proposition. But the controls for firing your weapons are wonderful. You feel like Indiana Jones when using the submachine gun MP40. Killing Nazis has not been more fun. The graphics are beautiful. Check out the resolution of the Nazi propaganda posters. The music works well with the action by increasing the tension and the sound effects are excellent.

If you liked Wolfenstein 3D and Return to Castle Wolfenstein, you'll want to return to duty. Wolfenstein is a flawed but entertaining and satisfying first person shooter. The grade is B.

UPDATE: The game froze at the "Black Sun" loading screen. This is the final mission. Mein Lieben! At the time, I had 100% of all the collectibles. I had also replayed a mission. I then tried the game on a different profile, avoided replaying a mission and kept all collectibles under 80%. It worked and I was able to complete the game. This does not change my review. Wolfenstein is still an enjoyable, at times brilliant but very flawed game. Update. Activision suggested I play another saved game and delete the rest. That also worked. I was able to have 100% by deleting older saved games. In that situation, I deleted everything except the game progress I was currently in. I then decided to play the game over again. I started a new game and deleted games as I went on. By the time I got to the last mission, I had one saved game from "Zeppelin." That worked also. I was able to complete the game with 100% in collectibles.

Double Feature

Tip for Defeating Hospital Level Boss. Spoiler Alert. At the beginning of this boss section you see the Altered, a raging Hulk like boss, kill a Nazi by smashing him into a pillar. The pillar is destroyed. That's a hint. You are then given the task to destroy the three other pillars holding the Black Sun Portal. Your fist inclination is to find a way to destroy the pillars with your guns. Don't. Neither the Altered or the pillars are vulnerable to your weapons. I found this out the hard way, folks. Three hours later, I stumbled upon the solution. Since the Altered is the only thing strong enough to destroy the pillars, I stood behind a pillar. The beast ran at me and damaged the pillar. Rinse and repeat. The pillar then falls. In no time you will destroy the other two.

One last thing to get through the level. Once you get the Empower Crystal, you'll will be able to shoot through shields. Use a weapon to fire through the shield to destroy a red barrel that will explode and take down the shield generator.

Here's my guide to beat the bosses. And here's my weapons guide and non-boss enemies list.

The final battle in Wolfenstein 3D. I wonder if Quentin Tarantino was inspired by this for his film, "Inglourious Basterds." Wolfenstein did co-sponsor the premiere.

Trailer for Wolfenstein (2009)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Homer hammers the Dodgers

Pitcher Homer Bailey was masterful tonight in keeping the West Division leading L.A. Dodgers off the scoreboard for eight innings. At the end of eight innings, his fastball was still in the mid-nineties. He threw the ball to both sides of the plate. He had his slider and split finger fastball working. If he can stay consistent, there's no reason to send him back to the minors. Homer may have earned himself a spot on the rotation for next year. Oh, and by the way the Reds won 4-2.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lion of the Senate

I salute Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, the Lion of the Senate, who passed away two days ago. Here's a summary of his career by Keith Olbermann.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals, Episode 3 Review

Our beloved misfits are back. Chad. Tank. Katie Brown. First, let's talk about the music. The orchestral theme used throughout Hard Knocks is a theme of struggle and determination. Great french horn work. It's inspiring. Again, the filming was gorgeous, with dramatic live action mixed with slow motion.

Episode 3 should be called "Reps." We see Chad Ocho Cinco complain about getting play repetitions or "Reps." Yet, we know he's going to make the team. It's the guys who are unknown are the ones that need them to show the team to keep them. It becomes who through his play is going to stand out. Hello rookie running back Bernard Scott. Aha, that's who safety Tom Nelson is.

We meet Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer. Wow. He's a cussing and fussing coach. He's mean but with a purpose. He challenges rookie linebacker Rey Maualuga to play with injury. For that matter so does head Coach Marvin Lewis. Zimmmer's meaness is to cajole his defense to play harder. He wants them to play with pride. He likes underdogs. He likes the fact that guys on the roster are players that others didn't want. Now, I see why guys want to play for him. He brings out the best in his players.

The comedy. First, Carson gets to joke about his injury saying he has more white blood cells than most people. Unfortunately, the camera pans to his swollen and bruised ankle. Um, Carson it looks ugly. Then there's the rookie talent show. The rookies do a hell of a job. They tease the veterans, as we see a guy play veteran safety Roy Williams during his off time; lying in bed infatuated with a R&B singer. There's an excellent haka done by the Samoan players, one of them was Maualuga. I'm not sure but some of those other rookies are not Polynesian. Kudos, guys. There's a funny take on Dhani Jones and a dig at unsigned Andre Smith's shirtless sprint. Of course when it comes to comedy, we must go to Chad Ocho Cinco. He claims to coin the phrase, "Kiss the baby" to signal that the game is over. Sorry, Chad. Reds' color man Jeff Brantley coined that one. Then he makes a joke about a condom that is going to be named after him. Funny. We watch him at the preseason game with New England. First, he jaws with Patriots' Coach Bill Belichick, getting a laugh from the stone faced coach. Did he just call head coach Lewis, "Boss man?" Of course, there is his extra point kick and his kickoff. We hear offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski worry about Chad tackling and getting hurt on kickoffs, and Lewis joking to Bratkowski that Chad doesn't tackle, so don't worry.

For the uninitiated, the Bengals have a revamped offensive line to protect the franchise QB Carson Palmer. We watch top draft pick tackle Andre Smith's agent Alvin Keels arrive to negotiate. They go into Katie Brown's office. And four hours later, nothing. The reality not portrayed by NFL films is that the Bengals refuse to pay more than what the Raiders paid for Darrius Bey, the pick after the Bengals. Thus, the Bengals are attempting to defy the slotting system that all the other NFL teams have followed. Hello!? Katie, did you see Carson's swollen ankle?

We learn during the Patriots game that the coaches hate to lose, even if it is a preseason game. There's also Zimmer's defense. They pressured the quarterback all during the game. It's something we haven't seen in a long time. Later, there's a coaches' evaluation. Maualuga is making his mark. Tom Nelson is standing out.

I'm rooting for the misfits, the guys from WKRP in Cincinnati. The grade for this episode is A+.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bengals Owner Mike Brown exercises bad judgment again

In past, Bengals owner Mike Brown has exercised terrible judgement. He stuck by David Shula as his head coach for four years when it was clear he was a horrific leader. He turned down the Saints' offer of all their picks for the Bengals' first round pick. His pick? The craptastic Akili Smith. Now, Mike Brown does it again. He refuses to follow the slotting system, i.e. a draft pick is paid more than the selections that follow. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes on his blog, "Look, if the Bengals didn't want to pay the kind of contract that the sixth overall pick in the draft now commands, the Bengals should have traded out of the slot or passed on the pick." Amen, brother.

It amazes me that after seeing Carson Palmer go down with injuries last year and seeing the result for the season, that Mike Brown doesn't at least follow the slotting system. I'm sorry he doesn't want to pay for right tackle Andre Smith BUT THAT'S THE PRICE OF DOING BUSINESS. Smith was drafted to protect the franchise, Palmer. Mike's cheapness could cost the Bengals this season and Carson's career.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jon Stewart salutes Barney Frank for slapping down crazy right wingers

Finally. A Jew has taken on those crazy right wingers who are accusing Obama of being a Nazi. Congressman Barney Frank put down a crazy woman for making the argument that health care reform by President Obama is a form of Nazi government. HELLO. The Nazis believed in a master race, i.e., the German Aryan race, blue eyed, blond hair white people. The Nazis believed this master race should dominate humanity. They dismantled civil rights and I'm not talking about just taxes. They slaughtered gays, gypsies and Jews, people they deemed to be subhuman. Blacks like Obama were not part of the master race. If you believe the President Obama is a Nazi when many of his supporters are blacks, gays and Jews, you don't know jack about Nazis. Please go back to school and study history. Thank you Jon Stewart of the Daily Show for your commentary. Oh and by the way Jon Stewart knows who are Nazis. He is also Jewish.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Avatar Trailer Review

The trailer for James Cameron's much hyped Avatar has just come out. And it's somewhat underwhelming. First, I must say that you can't judge a movie by its trailer. And if you know the history of Cameron's Titanic, predictions of disaster turned out to be false.

The problem with this trailer is the CGI aliens. It's difficult to portray emotions with CGI in a realistic setting. What I mean by that is that the humans are interacting with the aliens. This is unlike CGI used for a cartoon like effect. The blue alien "Tinkerbells" just don't look real. Some of the movements depicted by the CGI are stiff. That's just the weaknesses in the technology. I suggest that Cameron release 3D photos on the Web with instructions on how to get glasses. This worked great with Entertainment Weekly's 3D photos and glasses. That will get people excited about the 3D effects and ignore the artificial look of the aliens. Check out the trailer for yourself.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Inglourious Basterds Film Review

Inglourius Basterds is a tender romantic comedy about a French boy who falls in love with an American girl. They run to Venice where they can kiss while in a gondola to seal their love. Oops. Sorry, that's the plot to A Little Romance. (1979) Okay, this is a bleeping Quentin Tarantino film. Inglourious Basterds is a Nazi killing and scalping mishmash of spaghetti westerns, Pulp Fiction and the Dirty Dozen.

At the beginning of the film, we first meet SS colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) aka as the "Jew Hunter." The first reel of the movie is his innocuous interrogation of a farmer, looking for a Jewish family. Being a Nazi a member of the SS, we know something terrible is going to happen yet Landa is almost civilized in getting the information. Waltz's portrayal of this odious man is frightening because he is so affable. He's friendly to his victims. He smiles at them. Yet beneath the surface lies evil. He's like Glenn Beck. Anyway, Landa is able to find the family and kill them except for the family's daughter, Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent)

Next, come the introduction of the Basterds. The misspelling of the title is Tarantino's idea. I wonder if he also thought of changing the SciFi channel's spelling to SyFy. But I digress. Brad Pitt is Lt. Aldo Raine, a hillbilly from Tennessee. He leads a group of Jewish American soldiers. Their mission? Sneak into occupied France, kill and scalp Nazis. This being a Tarantino movie, you didn't expect a family movie about puppy dogs?

Meanwhile, Shosanna has fled to Paris and now runs a movie theater. At times, she is coerced to run German films, some directed by Leni Riefenstahl. She meets a young German soldier, Fredrick Zoller. (Daniel Bruhl) He's considered a hero because he was able to kill hundreds of Americans. A propaganda movie is made of his exploits with Zoller starring as himself. The Nazis decide to have the premiere of the movie at Shosanna's theater with high ranking Nazis in attendance. Shosanna decides this is her chance at revenge. The Basterds also see this as an opportunity to assasinate high ranking Nazis ala The Dirty Dozen.

Brad Pitt has aged well. While he plays a redneck, he displays country wisdom. Christoph Waltz should get an Oscar nomination. He gives Landa charm yet he makes your skin crawl. Melanie Laurent is mesmerizing. She's beautiful, neurotic, and strong. Her performance seethes with rage.

As for any Tarantino film, the dialogue is well written. It feels right. These are the type of lines that characters would say in these situations. Like a great conductor, he gets the emotion and humor out of each scene. Of course, there's a scene with the Tarantino Mexican standoff. But the problem with this film is Tarantino. He has a great love for B movie aesthetics and he can't stay away from them. His Pulp Fiction was revolutionary. This film is more like a live action comic book. He also lets this movie go into fantasy. And I literally mean fantasy, though not paranormal fantasy. That makes this film hard to view with sincerity.

Inglourious Basterds is a fascinating and humorous fantasy. It's hard to take seriously. Of course, the grade is "B."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bengals' Fan on Drugs

I want to write about tonight's preseason game with the Patriots but I think somebody spiked my diet Coke. I could have sworn that I saw Chad Johnson er, Chad Ocho Cinco kick an extra point.

Those Crazy Birthers, part 6

Former GOP House majority leader and controversial Tom DeLay has asked that Obama produce his birth certificate on Chris Matthews' Hardball. DeLay has now become an ally to Orly Taitz. Excuse me, Mr. Delay, didn't the Republican governor for Hawaii declare that Obama was born in Hawaii. And didn't the Health Department state that the original birth certificate show he was born in Hawaii? Here's the AP article and the article. Below is DeLay's interview on Hardball. Listen to Chris Matthews laugh at DeLay's notion that Obama needs to show his papers. I long for the Rockefeller Republicans!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals, Episode 2 Review

Lance McAlister is reporting that episode one of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with Cincinnati Bengals received significant increases in viewers from last year's show with the Dallas Cowboys! That's America's Team folks.

Let's face it. This team is funny. In this week's second episode, there's Carson Palmer complaining about his smelly hands because he sticks them under center Kyle Cook. Cook blames it on some of the food. Yikes! Then we see that Palmer is a connesiour of Gatorade. Chad Ocho Cinco is a one man advertisement for McDonald's. This is a guy who has invented his own put down. "Child Please." Tank Johnson, last week had a nice moment with his son. This week we see a warm moment as he labors to build a bunk bed for his daughters. Then he tests it by putting his 330 pound body on the bottom bunk. This is a sitcom waiting to be made. Tank gets one more great moment. During a lecture on the internet, he jokingly asks if he could erase the criminal references in his past. The lecturer says no as he and the other Bengals share a good laugh. One quick thing about Tank. He has a troubled past but he looks as if he has turned over a new leaf.

There were warm moments. There was the story of safety Corey Lynch saving a motorist. Owner Mike Brown displayed his affection for Chris Henry, even though Henry had multiple run ins with the law. Henry displayed some emotion this time and seemed to be more contrite than last year. It's easy to like rookie Tight End Chase Coffman. who due to injury has been thrust into the limelight. The story with Coffman gets more depth as we learn that his coach Jonathan Hayes played in the NFL with Coffman's father.

There was fire. This comes from Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Wow. He really wanted to win the Saints' preseasons game, even though it was meaningless. He went after Henry for going towards the Saints sideline after a touchdown. At the end of the game, he yelled at his players and challenged them.

Again, it was beautifully filmed. The NFL orchestral music was inspiring. The music makes you want to root for this team.

But why do we love this team? Because they're the misfits, the guys from Animal House, the Bad News Bears and the Cleveland Indians from Major League. I can't wait for the next episode. The grade is "A."

Bill Maher takes on ignorant Republicans

Could you Republicans get the facts right? Health care reform will not fund abortions, pay for illegal immigrants' health care or create death panels. On Rachel Maddow's show, she cites a poll of Republicans that indicates a large number get the facts wrong. Again, please oppose health care reform, that's your right but get the facts right. Anyway, she gets Bill Maher's view on the Republicans.

Joe the Plumber wants to beat the tar out of Nancy Pelosi

Enough of the right wing anger over health care, okay? Joe the Plumber told a conservative audience that he wants to beat the tar out of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. There are gun toting protesters outside President Obama's town hall meetings. This is going to end in tragedy if the right doesn't cool down the rhetoric. And I'm talking about the Obama is a Nazi nonsense. There is nothing wrong with opposing health care reform. But do it with intellect and respect. Here's Keith Olbermann's take on Joe the Plumber's words. One last thing, can Joe's fifteen minutes of fame end?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

GTA IV Lost and Damned Tips

First, if you haven't downloaded the Lost and Damned, the additional content to GTA IV, do it. It's a great game as reviewed down below. First, here are some tips.

1. Air Hockey Tips- To complete 100%, you must win one game against the computer. Let's face it, the left analog stick is not made for this type of mini-game. It's inaccurate and many times you knock the puck into your own goal.

So how and where do you get the one victory? Go to the bowling alley on Firefly Island, Broker. Play the generic lackey, not one of your biker buddies. The lackey is not very good. Then instead of trying to hit the puck directly into the goal, ricochet the puck off the sides into the goal. You'll find you score more frequently and eventually you will win a game.

2. Arm Wrestling Tips- You must win one arm wrestling match for the optional 100% completion. Okay, I don't recommend playing this mini-game more than once. Why? You must jiggle the right stick rapidly to move your arm. I don't believe the controller was made for this type of use and you would be justified in believing that you could break the stick.

Here's the tip. Put your palm over the stick. Then move it rapidly back and forth. You'll probably win right away.

3. Gang Wars- You must win twenty five gang wars for 100% completion. Sometimes these can get hard. There are two types. One, you must destroy a target vehicle, escorted by enemies. The second is straight combat where you attack a convoy of bikers or cars.

If you are given a "destroy an escort" mission then arm yourself with the sawed off shotgun. You can shoot this while riding the bike. It does massive damage to a vehicle. Pay all your attention to the target. Or as they say in Star Wars, "Stay on target." Once the vehicle is destroyed, you get the win.

The second type of gang war is harder. You attack a convoy with the goal of killing all the enemies. The problem is that reinforcement bad guys show up in a gang war, usually behind your back. First, I engage the bad guys but do not get off the bike. If possible lead them to a place where you can take cover, behind a wall and let them come to you. If you are in Alderney, lead them back to the clubhouse, if it still exists. See below to see what I mean by that. Run up to the roof. You are now on an elevated position. Take out your assault rifle and lay waste to them. If you need to retreat and return to where the bad guys are, the sniper rifle comes in handy. Reach out and whack somebody.

There are two benefits to completing gang wars. Completing more than ten, and every ten up to fifty gets you a weapon in the clubhouse. Second, this is a good way to get Clay and Terry's combat skills up.

4. Get unlimited ammo for the M4 (Carbine Rifle). Islands are open from the beginning, so all free weapon locations are available from the original GTA IV. Get a M4. There's one at the west end of the Algonquin Bridge, between the lanes. Now go to Colony Island. Go to the abandoned hospital, it's on the south part of the island. Go to the southwestern room, there's an assault rifle. Now, here's the trick. When you walk over a weapon that uses the same ammo that a weapon you already have, it gives you more ammo. For example M4 and the assault rifle use the same ammo. The same for both sniper rifles. Walk over the assault rifle and hear a note indicating you were given more ammo. Run outside the building, past the chain link fence. Then go back into the hospital and walk over the rifle again. Keep doing this until you get a full cache of ammo.

5. SPOILER ALERT. Don't save after the last mission. After you complete, "Was it worth it?", Senator Stubbs calls you to meet with you for the last mission. Finish the last mission and a cutscene showss you that you and your biker buddies torch your own clubhouse. You lose the clubhouse for card playing, watching t.v. pool, etc. Now, there's way to access the clubhouse after the game ends by climbing to the roof from the rear and walking north until you get the signal to watch t.v. but you can't exit the building or save. Now, you won't get to keep the 100% if you don't' save, but the reward is only unlimited ammunition for one game session. You can't save the extra ammo.

6. Review- You play Johnny Klebitz, Jewish biker gang member! During the game, you work hard at trying to keep the gang together in midst of committing crimes that would get you the death penalty in real life. No doubt, this game like all Grand Theft Auto games, is evil fun.

Missions are enjoyable and exciting. And it's really cool when you're on your bike and lead the gang. You feel as if you are a member of a biker gang as your buddies follow you like a flock of birds. If you get a chance you should play the original GTA IV first as you meet secondary characters from Niko Bellic's saga.

One quick thing about the soundtrack. Kudos for the mainstream jazz radio station. The music is a great primer to the uneducated as to what is great mainstream jazz. Artists and songs include John Coltrane's "Giant Steps", Count Basie's "April in Paris", Duke Ellington's "Take the 'A' Train" and Charlie Parker's "Night and Day." Wow, that's jazz you would hear in New York, er, Liberty City. New content includes the shock jock Martin Serious Show on WKTT, the talk show station. Serious is a hilarious take off of Howard Stern.

Now, remember this is a "M" rated game so no kids younger than seventeen. The game features violence, drug abuse, crime, sexual situations, and male nudity. Yes, you heard that right. In one cutscene, we get a view of Senator Stubbs' um, maleness. There's a reason for this. It's a metaphor of what some of the rich and powerful are doing to America. How often do you see metaphor in a video game?

If you loved the original GTA IV, you'll want to go back to Liberty City with Johnny Klebitz, Jewish biker gang member! The grade is "A."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

District 9 Film Review

Moon and now District 9 show that intelligent movie science fiction still exists. I hope that the powers that be at Bad Robot, handling the next Star Trek are watching. I'm talking to you, J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. Star Trek should be more like District 9, a film more about ideas than shallow appeal. But enough of griping about Star Trek, this is a review of District 9.

District 9 starts out like a faux documentary, with talking heads detailing man's first contact with aliens. The aliens' ship arrives and hovers over Johannesberg, South Africa. However, no one comes out. The humans must enter the ship. They find the aliens, and are derogatorily called Prawns for their crustacean like appearance. During a later scene, a human attempts to eat part of a Prawn. But he does so without butter sauce. But I digress. Leaderless, they are herded into an area called District 9 under the ship. It becomes a slum for the aliens.

A private company called MNU (Multi-National United) is hired to move the aliens to another camp one away from the humans who have become impatient with their presence. MNU has no interest in the aliens' welfare. They want to develop the aliens' advanced weaponry which humans cannot operate but the aliens can due to their unique biological makeup. And what weapons! When they operate, they can turn humans into guacamole. A company bureaucrat, Wikus Van Der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) is tasked to lead the eviction effort to relocate the aliens.

During Van Der Merwe's foray into District 9, he comes upon a Prawn named Christopher who has developed an alien fuel device that will power a shuttle underneath his home. While inspecting the device, Van Der Merwe accidentally sprays himself with some of the liquid inside. The device is confiscated and taken to MNU headquarters. However, the liquid starts to rewrite Van Der Merwe's DNA and he starts to mutate into an alien-human hybrid. MNU takes Van Der Merwe into custody and discover he can operate the aliens' weaponry. The rest of the film details MNU's efforts to harvest Vand Der Merwe's new abilities and Christopher's attempts to get back to the mothership and return to his home.

Director and writer Neill Blomkamp has created an exciting film that is obviously a metaphor for man's prejudice and racism. His direction is tight and energetic. There is one weakness with the movie. I wish there was more dialogue to describe what the alien device does other than fuel a shuttle. I mean it's transforming a character into an alien. I also wonder why the aliens don't use their advanced weaponry against the humans in self defense. On that one, I can guess that the aliens are basically peaceful. And of course, my pet peeve is to stop using the hand-held camera because it induces nausea. I know he wants this to feel like a documentary at times, but it's still a fictional film. It interferes with the story telling. These are small quibbles to a film, that is intentionally ugly, thought provoking and thrilling. And kudos for creating aliens that are not humanoid.

Sharlto Copley is perfectly cast as the nerdy bureaucrat. He looks the part. His performance is a study of desperation and transformation.

District 9 is an intelligent, and action packed science fiction movie. The grade is "A."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hope for the Bengals

You hope the road to respectability started today with the Cincinnati Bengals first preseason game at New Orleans. Yes, they lost 17-7 but there are some positive things to note.

Offensive Line. This is a new alignment with center Kyle Cook and Andrew Whitworth now a left tackle. For the most part, they gave QB Carson Palmer time to throw the ball. And when they got going, they did an okay job of run blocking. The new slogan of "Fight Back" was demonstrated on a pass play where Andrew Whitworth was called for a penalty. The ball was intercepted (bad throw by Carson) and was returned by Jonathan Vilma of the Saints. That's where Whitworth showed his determination. He ran all the way back as Vilma was about to score and recovered a fumble by Vilma. That's hustle and not giving up on the play.

Defense. The Bengals defense showed some spine. One fumble led to Vilma returning the ball to the Bengals' six. The Bengals stopped the Saints. They didn't cave in and the Saints missed the field goal. This type of determination on both parts of the ball leads to victories.

Intangibles. Rookie Bernard Scott looked good. He ripped through holes with good speed. Third string quarterback Jordan Palmer made good tight throws. The one interception was a tip.

Karma. When Carson left with an ankle injury, Bengals Nation groaned. Memories of Ki Jana Carter, and Kenny Irons flooded back. Then hope. It was announced that Palmer's ankle injury was a mild sprain. Perhaps, that's good karma.

Conclusion. Look, the score is more of a reflection of the Saints' having better back up quarterbacks. When you run out guys like Mark Brunell and Joey Harrington against our second and third stringers, you better be able to move the ball. So, this being preseason, it's meaningless. Oops, I forgot to mention that Chad Ocho Cinco and Chris Henry had good games. So, If you are mad at me, "Child please?" (You had to watch Chad in the first episode of Hard Knocks.)

However, the first stringers look feisty. Take away the turnovers and this could be a different game. Look forward to the next game for more progress. (Here's the Bengals website story on the game.)

Jonny Gomes hits three home runs

Last night against the Nationals, Jonny Gomes blasted three home runs. He becomes the 24th player in Reds history to do so. His performance overshadowed Bronson Arryo's stellar pitching in shutting out the Nationals and hurling a complete game. It also took some of the controversy away since Arroyo had told USA Today of the multiple supplements he takes. (Here's the story of the game and video.)

The next question becomes is Gomes a starter in the outfield next year? It's not likely the Reds will move either Arroyo or Harang this year due to their contracts. That will stifle their payroll flexibility assuming the Reds will not increase payroll for 2010. The Reds at the beginning of this year were searching for a right hand bat with power for the outfield. Gomes has shown some potential, especially in 2005. He should be given a chance to compete for a starting outfield job in 2010.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Batman Twenty Years Later

Director Tim Burton's Batman (1989) is twenty years old if you can believe that. And while it has its flaws, one must acknowledge it for its revolutionary take on the superhero. The superhero movie was never this dark. Whereas Superman (1978) depicted an ideal America, Batman showed an American city, Gotham, teeming with corruption. It was a city overtaken by the powerful and it showed in Gotham's fascist architecture.

The casting was perfect. While Jack Nicholson was an obvious choice for Joker, it's the choice of Michael Keaton as Batman that's bold and brilliant. At first blush, one can be forgiven to have doubts that Keaton who starred in comedies Bettlejuice, and Night Shift could be Batman. But it was the intensity and his ability to show the need for this average but flawed man the need to wear a mask. (Batman Wikipedia Article)

One must give kudos to Warner Brothers for letting Burton depict Batman in such dark terms. And there must be credit given to graphic novels of the time, that established the dark visions of Batman. Those novels include the Killing Joke and Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

Comparing Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight and Batman, one need only to look how they both depict Gotham. Burton's Gotham is an ugly city with fascist overtures. Nolan wants a realistic approach. Both depict a city overrun with corruption. Jack Nicholson's Joker is more comedic whereas Heath Ledger gives his Joker a nihilistic take. Christian Bale as Batman in the Dark Knight and Micheal Keaton both give their Batman depictions as angry avengers protecting the city from crime. It's their depictions as Bruce Wayne that differs. Bale is a rich jerk as Wayne. Whereas Keaton is a man uncomfortable in his own skin. He cares about the people of Gotham. It remains unclear what direction Nolan will take the Wayne character.

Burton's Batman had problems, such as Kim Basinger's over the top screaming, uneven costume designs which made some of actors look like they just stepped out of Guys and Dolls and some silly dramatic choices such as the Joker bringing down Batman's plane with a big handgun. However, the film started the modern Batman film series. Without Batman, there's no Batman Begins and the brilliant Dark Knight. Batman still stands the test of time. The grade is "B."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals Review

Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals is a microcosm of a any recent Bengals season. The show starts out with hope just like the season. Coach Marvin Lewis has a new T-shirt to inspire the team. The slogan this year is "Fight Back." Owner Mike Brown attempts to give an inspirational speech in his robotic delivery. Which means if he were leading troops into battle and gave that type of speech, you would say, "We're going to die." Like the season, there's a terrible injury to a key player. Reggie Kelly described by the show as the heart of the team goes down with a season ending Achilles tendon injury. The show then ends with diappointment as we see fullback J.D. Runnels get cut. Disappointment usually is felt at the end of a Bengals season. By the way, where's the Who Dey Revolution plane that flew around the field criticizing the lack of scouts?

As for the technical aspects of the show itself, it was beautifully filmed. Shots have warmth and are framed artistically. The Bengals seem like a likeable bunch of guys you want to root for. You wonder how Kelly's injury will effect rookie Chase Coffman. One wants to root for fullback hard luck Chris Pressley to make the team. How will this team come together? And how will this team do in the season? This makes the show one that you look forward to seeing until the run ends. Another winner for HBO and NFL Films. The grade is "A." Here's the official site for the show.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chris Matthews takes on gun toting Obama protester

Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball took on a Obama protester who showed up with a gun attached to his leg. He was carrying a sign that paraphrased Thomas Jefferson's famous quote about the tree of liberty needing to be refreshed by the blood of patriots and tyrants. The sign conveniently leaves out the part of the blood of tyrants and patriots. While I can understand this protester's views on taxes and personal property, this quote is all wrong. It incites violence. Why? Because unless he thinks Obama is a patriot, he could be inciting violence towards the President. Anyway, I've posted the interview.

The Daily Show takes on town hall nuts

Thank The Daily Show and Jon Stewart for taking on those crazy rightwingers at congressional town hall meetings who only want to shout and drown out those that support President Obama's plans to fix health care. Look, we can civilly debate these issues and you rightwingers should be concerned about the costs and the effects on the deficit but can we stop with calling Obama a Nazi? Oh and by the way, Sarah Palin, has debunked your euthanasia or death panel claims. I've posted Jon's take with a hilarious commentary panel on the alleged "death panels." You can see why this show is award winning.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Same Old Bengals

I want to start my Bengals stuff with something positive. After all, we're four days away from the first preseason game against the Saints. But that's impossible with this club, because you had to think the Bengals first round draft choice, Andre Smith would holdout, not because of where he was picked (sixth overall) but because of the red flags. It's a pattern that Bengals repeat with remarkable frequency. Choose talent over character. I mean look at Chris Henry. Granted, this year he's been a model citizen but considering his run ins with the law, it begs the question, why give this guy so many chances.

The problem with bad character guys is that you can't depend on them. If they're going to act badly off the field there's nothing to indicate that won't happen on the field. And if they're off field problems interfere with their ability to play football, why pick them? Remember Stanley Wilson's cocaine induced drunkenness which kept him out of Super Bowl XXIII? Bad character off the field hurts the team. Look, I'm all for giving people multiple chances but when they demonstrate they don't care about the team, it's time to change your policies and stop picking these guys.

The Bengals needed to draft an offensive tackle because of the need to revamp their offensive line with injuries to Levi Jones, and last year's loss of Willie Anderson. It was almost a year ago when we saw what would happen if the line failed. In a preseason game against the Saints, Carson Palmer had his nose broken. This year Levi's gone and so is center Eric Ghiaciuc. You've got to protect your franchise quarterback or else the season is over. Just like it was when Carson went down last year.

That brings us to offensive tackle Andre Smith. Look, I admit he's a huge talent. He won the Outland Trophy for 2008. But Pro Football Weekly in their 2009 draft guide rates Virginia's Eugene Monroe ahead of Smith. Yes, it might be choosing between chocolate and vanilla. But the Bengals should have heeded the red flags. Those red flags include getting suspended before the Sugar Bowl for allegedly dealing with an agent. Then he left the NFL Combine early. And he was unimpressive at his pro-day workout. These are important events in his professional career and he intentionally botched them. (This wikipedia article details all of these events.) Pro Football Weekly says he has "[q]uestionable character." Pg. 61. So, why should we believe he would come to camp, to start his professional career on the right note? Nothing. Same old Bengals.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra Movie Review

I went to see this G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, thinking I'm going to write my first negative review for this blog. I wasn't wrong. This movie is constant action and that's a bad thing. The audience is pounded into their seats with explosions and CGI effects. There's no room to breathe. The writing is stupid and the whole thing feels like a live action cartoon or an ad for G.I. Joe toys.

The movie starts with the beginning of Cobra, in the seventeenth century. James McCullen is punished with a metal mask because he's dealing arms to the English and the French. We flash forward to his descendant, James McCullen (Chrisotpher Eccleston) head of the the armament company MARS, who has just sold to NATO four missiles armed with nanotechnology. These nano-mites or micro-robots can eat through any metal and can also control human behavior. Wait a minute, I beginning to think this is a movie about the military industrial complex. Do you think with a name like MARS (Roman god of war), our leaders will figure out that this company is interested in propagating war? Um, no on both counts.

Anyway, Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Waylons) are assigned to transport the warheads. During the trip, they are attacked by Cobra agents led by the Baroness (Sienna Miller) They are unsuccessful in stealing the missiles when agents of G.I. Joe, an elite NATO unit, saves them. The Baroness returns to Scotland to encourage her husband to kill the King so he may assume the throne. Okay, that last part is the plot to Macbeth. Duke and Ripcord join Joe led by General Hawk. (Dennis Quaid)

Eventually, Cobra gets the missiles. They attempt to destroy Paris but are only able to topple the Eiffel Tower, thanks to a save by Duke. I'm really surprised that the French let Paramount film this goofy movie in Paris but remember the French think Jerry Lewis is a god. Anyway, Cobra launches the missiles at Washington and Moscow. Their plan is to cause chaos so the world will follow the U.S. President who will be replaced by one of their agents. Hold on, those crazy Birthers may have something here. Maybe Cobra planted fake news stories of Obama's birth in the Honolulu papers so they could put a Kenyan in the presidency. We've got to check his blood for micro-robots! Okay, you crazy Birthers don't get any ideas.

I'm not sure if Director Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, Van Helsing) understands acting. I mean Quaid as Hawk merely mouths his lines in as macho manner as possible. You could have programmed a computer to deliver them. Sienna Miller struts around as if she were walking the runway at a fashion show. The humor, I hope it's humor, doesn't work because the film is so god awful stupid, you can't tell if the movie is serious. For example, a fight between a young Snake Eyes and Storm Shawdow in a kitchen is interrupted by Snake Eyes grabbing a biscuit to eat before he continues to pummel Shadow. And why do the women Scarlett (Rachel Nichols, the green Orion girl in Star Trek, Alias) and the Baroness not wear armor but those clinging black leather costumes that Diana Rigg made famous in the Avengers? Never mind, I get that one.

I really hope this movie does well. Seriously. I want Mel Brooks to do a spoof of it. Besides the movie ends with a cliff hanger with a fake President (Jonathan Pryce, probably saying to himself, "Wasn't I in Barbarians at the Gate?") now in office. Maybe G.I. Joe will demand his birth certificate. There are some good things about his movie. I love big battles with hundreds of actors. It's never boring but so is getting your teeth drilled without novocaine. The grade is "C."

Sienna Miller. Oh, that's why she's not wearing body armor.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Those Crazy Birthers, Part 5

Finally, the conservative World Net Daily has declared Attorney Orly Taitz's Kenyan Obama birth certificate a fake. You think? Would it be too much to ask Ms. Taitz to authenticate the document by say CONTACTING THE KENYAN GOVERNMENT. What's Keith Olbermann's take? Here it is.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Julie and Julia Film Review

I'll have to admit that I like cooking. To me it's an art. Enjoying good food is universal and making it to please individuals is no different than pleasing an audience with your singing. That's one reason I looked forward to seeing Director and writer Nora Ephron's Julie & Julia. The film is based on two real life women, Julia Child and Julia Powell. Ephron developed her script on Julia Child's "My Life In France" and Julie Powell's "Julie and Julia." And I am happy to say it is a delightful comedy-drama. The film is like a well cooked meal, you won't go away hungry. It certainly would be a great twin bill with Pixar's Ratatouille.

Julie Powell is played Amy Adams. Her day job is to receive calls from the Lower Manhattan Development Project which dealt with the reconstruction lower Manhattan after the 9-11 attacks. Frustrated by her career, and envious of her more successful friends, she looks for direction in her life. She decides to cook every recipe in Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" for a year and blog about it. Julia Child is played by Meryl Streep. She's married to a Paul (Stanley Tucci), former OSS agent and a diplomat stationed in post war Paris, France. She also looks for direction in her life. Though, Child herself worked for the OSS, she's bored until she enrolls in the prestigious French cooking school Le Cordon Bleau.

Child throws herself into the challenge of cooking French cuisine even though she's looked down upon by the male dominated profession and the school's uptight administrator. With talent, good humor and energy, she masters the art of French cooking. Later, she embarks on the task of writing a book about French cooking that would take her years to achieve. Meryl Streep does more than just an imitation of Child's high pitched voice. She gives Child wit, warmth and energy.

Powell, has an equally difficult task. First, she must overcome the post 9-11 malaise especially since she must hear from victims. Then she must not let her narcissistic impulses derail her task and marriage at the same time. Amy Adams gives a wonderful performance that demonstrates Powell's vulnerabilities.

Director Nora Ephron's films can get cloyed with sentimentality. See Sleepless in Seattle. But her writing on When Harry Met Sally looked at men and women relationships without the over the top romantic flourishes. It demonstrates she can write more realistically and in that movie reach classic heights. In Julie & Julia, she curbs her sentimental impulses say for one musical cue featuring a soft rock song where the singer telegraphs Adams' emotions after a fight with her husband. But overall, her toned down approach works. The film is warm and vibrant. It has the same common appeal of enjoying a great meal.

One test for a great movie is whether the viewer wishes to see it again. After sharing the two womens' journeys, I would love to order this dish again. The grade is "A."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

King Lehr leads Reds over Cubs

Last night Justin Lehr pitched a complete game shutout over the Chicago Cubs. Didn't the Reds sell this guy to Korea last year? Okay, I know it's not a World Seres Championship but winning last night stopped a terrible eight game losing streak. And for you that hated the Scott Rolen trade, his two run jack was the winning margin. Here's the story with videos.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cute Cat Video

There's an article in Entertainment Weekly about the current craze over cat videos. (Aug 7, pg. 37.) Nora the cat has gotten millions of hits. What is the matter with you people! So, I checked out one of the article's highest rated video. It's "Maru and the Big Box." Check out the multiple camera angles and editing.

Fascinating Captain, this video has a tranquilizing effect on the human nervous system. Fortunately for me... Ahhhh. it's so cute. Now the article also cites the politically incorrect and hilarious site called Cats that look like Hitler. It's a riot. Stop complaining about its inappropriateness. You laughed at "The Producers" and "Springtime for Hitler." Didn't you?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Star Trek: Countdown Comic Review

Like other tie-ins to blockbuster movies, Dark Knight and the DVD Gotham Knight, the Matrix Reloaded and the Animatrix DVD, IDW Publishing's official prequel graphic novel is a tie-in to the hit film Star Trek. Here's the good news. It succeeds beyond expectation because unlike the shallow but entertaining Trek film, the novel is deep and well written.

In a story by Trek film writters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, written by Mike Johnson and Tim Jones tells the tale of Romulan Nero and his journey towards vengeance that will be depicted in the movie. The story starts out in the 24th Century with the Hobus star about to go supernova. This explosion would destroy Romulus. Spock an ambassador to Romulus proposes to the Romulan Senate that they release the material decalithium mined by Nero to Vulcan so Spock can create a black hole in the star to stop it. The Romulans are cautious and refuse. Nero and Spock decide to take the decalithium to Vulcan anyway. The Vulcans refuse to help due to fear of the Romulans. Hobus in the meantime goes supernova. It destroys Romulus and kills Nero's pregnant wife. This sets into motion Nero's vengeance and the events leading to the new Star Trek movie.

Now, don't assume that Countdown is a talky and boring story. If you want space battles, you get them. Once Nero's ship, the Narada gets armed with Borg technology from surviving Romulans, the story warps to its epic confrontation between Klingons, the Narada and a ship called the Enterprise. You also get reprises of beloved Star Trek Next Generation characters. They all play important parts as the Nero and Spock go back in time to the 23rd Century.

Star Trek:Countdown is an exciting graphic novel. The artwork is gorgeous. It is better than the its sequel, the film Star Trek. That's correct. The reasons are this. The novel is deeper and more intelligent than the film. It feels like science fiction. The dialogue is well written and we get a good look at Nero's motivation for vengeance. But more importantly, like the best Treks, there's a message. Ironically, it's delivered by the Romulans and the Vulcans. Fear can stop us from doing the right thing. The grade is "A."

What went wrong with the 2009 Cincinnati Reds

The season ended when the Reds got swept by the Dodgers July 20-22. So what went wrong? It's time to do a post mortem autopsy.

The Outfield

The Reds gambled that sophomore Jay Bruce would continue to grow and be the stud he was projected to be. For some reason he refused to adjust. Pitchers would throw breaking balls away and Bruce would try to pull these pitches only to strike out or roll the ball over. Signing Willy Taveras seemed like a good idea. Except it would have been a good idea for a team with two other solid outfielders. Taveras doesn't get on base enough to steal, he can't carry a team for any period of time and he needs a strong cast around him to succeed. The Reds lack of success of obtaining the right hand bat also hurt the offense. They tried to get Bobby Abreu but were outbid by the Angels. I bet they are kicking themselves about not getting Raul Ibanez. Perhaps, the Reds may need to overpay next time to get a quality free agent to play here.

The Pitching

This started out as a strength. Later, the starting staff melted down like an UDF ice cream cone sitting out on the sidewalk on a hot summer Cincinnati day. Johnny Cueto still needs seasoning. Aaron Harang has a tendency to let one big inning in every game kill him. He needs to keep the ball down. Bronson Arroyo is no stopper but his ability to keep the team in the game will likely get him dealt.

The Future

There is no short term future for this team. The Reds are reluctant to spend the money that the Cubs did to win. It's time to wait for five years from now.

Those Crazy Birthers, part 4

Last night on "Countdown" with Keith Olbermann, Keith disclosed that Orly Taitz has discovered the original Kenyan birth certificate for President Obama. Does that mean the rightwingers in Congress should start impeachment proceedings? No. Olbermann debunks this document as a big time forgery. Check it out.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Indian Hill Triumphs

I want to congratulate the Indian Hill High School Mock Trial program. Year after year, the school produces powerhouse teams. And the amazing thing about it, is that they defeat teams from schools that are much larger than they are. This is a tribute to the young men and women who dedicate their time to compete and also learn about the Constitution. Coach Steve Reger has built a program that is the best in Ohio.

This year, Indian Hill won the Ohio state championship. Indian Hill Black Team was led by Danny Strunk who was awarded Best Attorney, Hannah Conn, seniors Sonam Jindal, Asif Rahman, Elaine Baynham, Sharif Nassef and Divya Taneja. Catch their performance at the Ohio Center for Law Related- Education's website. Congratulations are also in order for the Red Team which finished sixth in the State. This team included Brittany Schwab, Ned Cowan, Doug Feigelson, Deena Rahman, Olivia Morris, Dylan Grafe, Shaan Pennmetsa, Yilina Lee, Maggie Strike and Sara Matasick.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bill Maher takes on the Birthers

Check out Bill Maher's "Real Time" for July 31, 2009 on HBO. His "New Rules" segment is one of the show's best. He takes on sex with horses (yes, you heard that right), a vision of Jesus on a dog's butt (yep, you heard that right again) and the crazy Birthers. The rest of the show is great too. Guests include the intelligent Rachel Maddow and the fascinating journalist Michael Ware. Check out the clip below with Bill's take on the Birthers.

In the meantime, here are some prior posts featuring video from MSNBC and the Daily Show regarding those crazy Birthers. I like Jon Stewart's take the best. Those Crazy Birthers, pt. 2 And "Those Crazy Birthers, pt. 3"

Creation Museum Day with the Reds

I wish the Cincinnati Reds would stop giving the Creation Museum credibility by allowing them to sponsor today's game. The Museum teaches a literal approach to the Bible, i.e., it considers the Bible, literal fact. They believe the earth is only 6000 years old. Look you can believe the earth was created by God but the planet is older than 6000 years old. They also believe that people and dinosaurs existed together. This is opposed by many in the scientific community. And with the Reds trying to be a family friendly place, it teaches bad science to our kids. Let's take a look at what my guys at Red State Update have to say about the museum.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

"The Hurt Locker" Film Review

The Hurt Locker subtly makes an anti-Iraq war statement. The film is more than a tense drama about three soldiers in an elite bomb disposal unit but what it shows about the Iraqi people's indifference to our presence. It is a stinging indictment of the mistake of this war. There are no scenes of Iraqis giving our guys flowers and candy because that's not what happened. There are only scenes of our soldiers struggling to identify insurgents from innocent civilians. The apathy that the average Iraqi citizen feels for our presence to outright hostility depicted in the film should ask the question, "What are we doing there?"

Jeremy Renner plays Sergeant William James. He joins the unit when another soldier gets killed. Anthony Mackie plays Seargeant J.T. Sanborn. Brian Geraghty is Owen Eldridge. Sanborn and Eldridge are the two surviving members of the unit. Intially, Sanborn and Eldridge are appalled by James swaggering and reckless approach to diarming bombs. Eventually they bond as a unit. But that doesn't change James. He continues to bull his way into situations that endangers the unit. He stands for American blundering into Iraq.

The performances are top notch. The three unknown actors give realistic performances. Watch for cameos from Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes and Lost's Evangeline Lilly.

Mark Boal'x screenplay has dialogue that sounds real. It feels more like a non-fiction story. Kathryn Bigelow's direction is sharp and tense. She gives it a documentary feel, with frequent use of hand held cameras. It works here because her characters are usually more engaged in bomb disposal than running around which induces nausea to the viewer. Though, I wish more directors would stop using the hand held camera because of the instability of the picture. Regardless, she makes the movie riveting and both tell the soldiers' psychological toll of fighting the Iraq War.

The Hurt Locker is an intense drama that will receive Oscar nominations. The grade is "A." Here's the trailer.