Four Letter Nerd

Author - A Nerdy Guest Contributor

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: Some Observations

With it being less than a week away from Christmas I will be watching Christmas movies and holiday episodes of different shows nonstop because I want to share the joy of this time of year with my 2 year old, Charlie, but mostly because Christmas themed shows and movies are my favorite. We decided (well, I decided because I’m the mom) to watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, the 1964 Christmas Classic. As it came on and that funny looking snowman scooted onto screen and introduced the story I sat in anticipation, excited to share this moment with my son. As we watched I started to notice some things that were a little bothersome in this 2014 PC friendly world we currently live it.

I realized very quickly while watching this that Santa is a total dick. When he sees Rudolph for the first time his first reaction is not how you would typically greet a newborn anything. He steps back as if he’s in fear because Rudolph has a lighty up nose. I mean I get it, if I went and saw one of my friends newborns in the hospital and he/she had a lighty up nose I’d be a little caught off guard. Santa isn’t very sensitive to the situation. He tells Donner that with a nose like that Rudolph will never make the sleigh team. Basically, he said you just made a freak and you need to hide him because he will never be accepted as normal. What the hell Santa? What’s your problem? I get that it’s a tough world out there and we need to be able to handle it but still, it’s a little harshenhanced-buzz-21692-1337636512-6The snowman refers to Rudolph’s nose as a “nonconformity.”  Which I just thought was a funny way to put it. For such a non-politically correct movie that’s a very politically correct way to say Rudolph is a freak.

The story then takes you to another dark and tragic aspect of North Pole Life (I feel like I just created a new hashtag), the sad life of Santa’s elves. They toil away day after day, year after year, making snot nosed kids toys that they will play with for all of 5 minutes, which is when they discover the box the toy came in. If you don’t like making toys as an elf, you basically have a snowball’s chance in Hell at surviving in the North Pole in Santa’s Workshop (more like Santa’s Sweatshop, am I right?) I mean do they get paid? Is there a union to protect them from hazardous working conditions? I’m going to go with NO on that. At one point you see the elves singing for Santa.  That’s when I realized that Santa is a dictator.

hail_santa_by_zmbgraphics-d4h6hr9The elf overseer realizes that one elf isn’t there, Hermie. He soon finds Hermie in the Sweat…I mean Workshop hammering away at a doll’s mouth. Why? Because Hermie wants to be a dentist and in the North Pole, an elf wanting to be a dentist is NOT OK! The overseer tells Hermie he will never fit in! So Hermie leaves, because he doesn’t fit in, he’s a misfit. What they do elves have against dental hygiene anyway? If their diet is even remotely like Buddy the Elf they NEED a good dentist in the North Pole.

You then go back to Rudolph on his first day of flying school. This blonde reindeer, he may have a name but I will refer to him as Biff. He prances up to Rudolph (he must be Prancer’s son) and is all like “come on Rudolph let’s go, there will be does there!” (because apparently the girls had nothing better to do then watch the boys learn to fly). Another thing that bother’s me is they laugh hysterically at the reindeer that tries to fly for the very first time but fails. Well duh, not everyone is like Harry Potter and picks up on flying so naturally.

Once Rudolph’s nose is discovered and he is promptly made fun of, he fleas the only home he has ever known. On his travels he meets the abominable snowman. Unfortunately Rudolph’s beacon of a honker attracts the monster (he’s my kid’s favorite part). Luckily, a lone weirdo (and fickle prospector) named Yukon Cornelius (hell of a name) saves Rudolph and Hermie by discovering Bomble’s (Yukon’s pet name for the monster) weakness. Apparently he is made of concrete and quickly sinks when he falls into the water as the three misfits sail away on an iceberg (Bomble does get out of the water in case you were wondering).

They sail upon an island of misfit toys. There is a Charlie in a Box, the black sheep of the Jack in the Box family. That makes me sad because my son’s name is Charlie and I think it’s totally fine for a in the Box toy to be named Charlie.  They are ruled by an Oz like leader, who happens to resemble a winged Scar from the Lion King.

KingMisfit

They soon discover that they are misfits even on an island of misfit toys. Quite sad actually.

Rudolph decides to leave his companions and return home. When he gets home, Santa tells him that his mom, dad, and girlfriend have gone out to search for him and that Christmas Eve is two days away. Basically Santa says that Christmas will be ruined for everyone and it’s all your fault you stupid freak. Santa lays on the guilt trip hard. The movie does a flashback and Donner tells his wife to stay home because it’s man’s work to go look for things. Now, I am in no way a feminist but come on!

Rudolph ventures out to look for his family who is looking for him. You get this weird reindeer inception thing going on. He finds that they have been captured by Bomble! The reindeer are saved by Rudolph’s old travel buddies, Yukon and Hermie. Yukon knocks Bomble out and Hermie pulls out all his teeth. f35c50da2623c555f6a6c672c0f69776

Just when they think they have won, Bomble wakes up and Yukon tackles him over the edge. Charlie (my son, not Jack’s black sheep cousin) got extremely upset because Yukon’s sled dogs go over they edge too. “Roo roo! Roo roo!” He makes a sad face as I try to reassure him that they will be okay. Before I forget to mention it, Yukon had a misfit team of sled dogs. He had at least one bulldog and a toy poodle. Not sure how he was able to mush around.

When Hermie and the reindeer return to the North Pole, the other elves and Santa admit that mistakes were made and they should have made so much fun of Rudolph and Hermie. So apparently just saying sorry for running some one out of town is enough. Yukon returns some how so there is a nice reunion.

At Christmas eve dinner  everyone is celebrating the return of the misfits and all is forgiven and forgotten. Then the storm of the century blows in and Rudolph is the only thing that will help Santa deliver toys to millions of kids around the world. When the show went off to the tune of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer and Santa was proudly holding the reins of his trusty sleigh with Rudolph out front Charlie said bye Santa! I looked up and smiled at him and thought to myself, if you only knew the true Santa…one day my son, you will understand, one day.

R2

In Defense Of Batgirl #37

Editors Note: Here at 4LN, we are not all of the same mindset. Some of us think Batman is a superhero, and some of us vehemently do not (although, said individual does not discredit the heroism of Batman, but I digress). There are those of us who LOVE Aquaman, and there are those of us who prefer to ridicule Aquaman for being a stupid, worthless hero (at least, that’s I’ve heard). The rest of the guys are very well versed in Star Wars trivia but I personally am not. I like Star Wars, and have seen all the movies, but it’s just not really my thing. With that being said, one thing I feel like it’s safe to say is that we all support the equality of all comic book characters. Men & woman, black & white, Skrulls & Kree, and definitely all characters that are identified as being apart of the LGBT community. Now, are there some of us that are probably more vocal about it than others? Absolutely. While some of us may be more documented as vocally supporting the rights of LGBT characters, we all feel like every character, regarless of gender, race, religious faith, or sexual orientation, has the right to exist.

Last week there arose the controversy of Batgirl #37, wherein the new creative team of Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr depicted a cross-dresser/drag queen in a manner that many people felt was insensitive. They have since issued a formal apology to the readers, and anyone else, who were offended and hurt by the depiction of this trans character.

So, none of us here at 4LN have been reading Batgirl, and none of us have read this particular issue. We cannot weigh in on the situation based off of the hearsay so we won’t. However, we have a very good friend whose name is Clay VanBuren. We have all known Clay for several years. Clay is gay and is very much well versed on drag queen culture (he gave me a damn history lesson on it recently and I know a lot more about the drag world than I did when I watched the most recent season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. #TeamAdore). Clay also does not regularly read comics, but  he just so happened to get his hands on a copy of Batgirl #37 because the nature of the story appealed to him. We asked Clay, as someone whose personal culture is directly impacted by the developments in this issue, if he would share his thoughts about it. He agreed and what follows is his take on the whole matter. – Stephen Andrew

Batgirl (2011-) #37

Hot guys in skin tight outfits, rippling and bulging with muscles, questionable relationships with sidekicks and other characters within the story line, tongue in cheek jokes and possible double meanings within comments; all great things that should make me a comic book fanatic, but yet, I know hardly anything at all about them. The only things I can tell you about the gigantic and multi-dimentional worlds of DC and Marvel and the vast amount of other publishers, would all be pretty much regurgitated factoids fed to me by my friends. Why, you ask, then am I even writing any kind of review of a comic, or even trying to give my point of view or opinion? Well its exactly just that, I want to help give a voice to the “novice” or “noob” of this particular fandom. Every so often, either due to social media, or friends, or just happening to be at the store at the right random moment; I come across a comic book that catches my attention and sparks my curiosity to actually want to pick it up and read it, and in the few instances purchase it. This is the case with the most recent Batgirl comic, issue #37, because of a random post on Facebook by an LGBT magazine that I subscribe to and follow. What caught my attention about this particular issue was something about the “controversy” and possibility of the writers/creators “going to far” with the portrayal of the villain that Batgirl was going to face in the issue, and of course after reading the article and the argument that it posed to the readers I had to obtain a copy for myself for a few reasons. (1:) It’s “controversial”, and dealt with the LGBT community in and interesting way and (2:) I wanted to read the actual story and form my own opinion about how the comic’s point of view read. I mean, anyone and everyone has their own way of reading and interpreting things, so I wanted to see if I saw and felt the same way as some of the people that the article talked about saw and felt like. And finally (3:) after seeing the character in question and the main cover picture of him, I just simply fell in love and thought it was one of the hottest, fiercest covers I have seen for a comic, and being the kind of “drag fag” that I am, well of course I HAD TO HAVE IT! Ha! Okay…anyways…now, I hope I have at least kept your attention to this point because now I want to do a quick rundown of what’s going on in the this particular issue of Batgirl so that I can give my honest feelings and opinions at the end and you aren’t completely lost. Though, I do highly suggest going and picking this issue up and reading it yourself so you can form your own opinion as well. (Spoilers are going to be happening from this point on, but still, go get the damn comic. It’s only $3, and that’s half of your morning Starbucks. You can suffer for a smaller size coffee frappe latte froofroo drink.)



The beginning of the comic puts you in a car with 5 girls that have just robbed a celebrity’s house and have stolen her diamonds and bling and such, and are now looking for a party and to have some more fun. One of these girls is supposedly Batgirl, and the other 4 girls are shocked she would take part in such activities, but ultimately just want to continue to look for the next happening spot to show off their newly obtained goods. Out from the shadows the real Batgirl comes flying in and the fake Batgirl disappears from the car leaving behind her 4 party cohorts. After the party girls are taken into custody we move to the apartment of Babs (Batgirl), where she receives an updated and modified phone from her friend, then we see her getting ready and arriving at a big art installation gala opening for the mysterious and fairly anonymous artist Dagger Type. Upon entering the art exhibit, she is floored to find out that the entire installation is of gigantic portraits displaying Batgirl in multiple positions, the final one being a beaten and worn down figure sitting in a wheelchair. Babs being completely confused and taken off guard returns after the exhibit has closed dressed as Batgirl and grills the manager for information about the featured artist, and after getting said info on how to find him, goes on the hunt. Next we find her looking around inside one of Dagger Type’s supposed work spaces in an ally under a bridge, where she is confronted by a couple of hench-women. After she fights them, out from the rafters, in a sparkling golden outfit swings in the counterfeit Batgirl. They then go back and forth with catty remarks, finally beginning to fight and brawl themselves ending up on the top of one of the bridges giant arches. During this “Battle of the Batgirls”, more catty remarks are made, then ultimately the real Batgirl ends up unmasking the counterfeit exposing it to be none other than the elusive artist Dagger Type. Batgirl is now yet again completely confused, causing her to be taken off guard again and shot at by Dagger Type in an attempt to kill her and take her place. Batgirl falls to the dark water below and Dagger Type gets away. The final arena we find ourselves in is… well… an actual arena. Dagger Type is setting up his final installment in the “Batgirl Exposed” collection. He then makes the big revelation to the crowd that it has been none other than HIM that has been under the mask of Batgirl and that he is exposing this for all of Burnside to know finally. He is met with heckling and boos from the crowd and ends up being taken down by the real Batgirl who is using her real identity of Barbara Gordon so she can defeat him. In the end we find out that Dagger Type has been hired by some unknown “Patron”, as he put it, and that he was promised fame and fortune if he took out the real Batgirl and then posed in her place. Dagger Type is taken off to jail and the final panels show the real Barbara Gordon dressed as Batgirl getting her friend to take her picture so she can post it on social media to show Burnside the real Batgirl. The End.



Wow, I hope I didn’t bore you all there. I did warn you all that I am new to this entire world of comics and reviews, so I wanted to cover as much as I can to give the gist of the comic.

Now we have come to the fun part, the part where thoughts are expressed, feelings may be hurt, toes may be stepped on…but ultimately I hope eyes are opened as well as minds. I want to also express, even though I myself am an out and proud gay male, I am in NO WAY attempting to speak for the LGBT community as a whole, and even though I am a massive massive fan of the amazing art of Drag and the performers who make a living doing it, I am in NO WAY speaking for them as a whole either. I am simply giving MY point of view and my opinions on this and am not meaning any disrespect by anything I say, though I am going to be as honest as I can be. That being said, lets get into it.
Like I said in the very beginning of this thing, what really caught my attention about this particular issue of Batgirl, was the controversy that seemed to come with it. The idea that somehow the writers/creators have “gone to far” and are portraying the LGBT community in a bad light, and the fact that they’re accused of adding fuel to the flames of horrible stereotypes because of the way they drew and portrayed the main villain Dagger Type really made me curious. I had to find out for myself what was going on. So I read the comic, and well, I honestly just didn’t quite understand the hype over the character and what made him so offensive. All I really thought after seeing Dagger Type was “Damn he’s got some f—ing sickening outfits! Now who do I know [as a drag queen] that could and would do the same outfits justice in real life?” I didn’t see the “sadistic sissy” that the articles I had originally read made a big deal about. I didn’t see this horrible “homicidal homo” or anything along those lines that was apparently causing such a giant split between LGBT comic readers, and offending so many people. I don’t understand what about him as a character was causing so much of a fuss. In my eyes, he’s the just the stereotypical over the top comic book villain. Oh but wait… there’s that word… There’s the source of the “controversy”… Dagger Type is said to be a “STEREOTYPE” (enter the cheesy “dun dun duuuun” music for added drama). Sure, he is a scrawny, artsy, flashy, blonde, twinkish guy who has an eye for sickening makeup, diamond encrusted costumes, a flair for flashy entrances, an addiction to social media and the desire for fame and fortune and notoriety (though I have to say the only thing I truly found offensive in the entire book was the multiple references to Kanye West, I mean come on! Of all the f—ing people for a “gay” guy to reference being in a video with, why Kanye??? That’s what you apologize for, creative team). But why do those things being part of his character automatically make him a stereotype? Why can’t they just be his character? What makes him so controversial to the point that the LGBT readers are split on whether or not they find him offensive, and that the writers/creators have since extended a formal written apology to the fan base for all the backlash that they have received due to this character?


To me this is such a minute issue within the LGBT community that I just have to shake my head. Out of everything we are fighting for and trying to gain, for people to cause any kind of significant fight over a character in a comic book is laughable. It’s a comic book for gawd sake, not the right to vote or to get married. So I think people need to loosen up and just take it for what it is, a cartoon character. I mean if you look at him, he really is just simply an ink and color rendition of a drag queen. He’s no different to me than Jessica Rabbit or Betty Boop, well other than the fact that he’s… well… a he. I hope you see the point I’m making. Those two characters, iconic as they are, are just simply the exaggerated idea of a stereotypical “real woman”. Granted, I’m sure if I researched enough I’ll find the same bullshit about them, and the controversy and blah blah blah that they fueled in their respective time periods, but that’s a story for another day.
Overall, I will end with this: Batgirl #37 is a fun and campy read that hits on some small points about young people today. Social media,and the desire for fame & fortune and the easy routes to get to it and the hold that these ideals have on us as the younger generation. Dagger Type… I love him, and I want to see someone bring him to life and perform in his bad ass outfits. Again, he is nothing more than a campy nod to the hay day of cheesy, over the top villains that we all have grown to love in comic books and I think he should honestly be taken with a grain of salt. If you really truly are offended to your core by a cartoon, well, I don’t know what to tell you. I just hope that somehow you become a little less uptight and more confident in yourself as a human being, that you can find something a little more important to cause a fuss and ruffle feathers over than a damn comic character. Open your eyes to the real world around you, not the fake ones made of ink and paint. I say this out of love. There is so much more to life, so go have fun, see a drag show, chill with friends, make memories, and just be happy you are alive and well.

Welcome to “Welcome to Night Vale”

(Editor’s note: this article was written by our good friend, and resident Walking Dead expert, Matthew Mason)

 

“The Arctic is lit by the midnight sun. The surface of the moon is lit by the face of the Earth. Our little town is lit too, by lights just above that we cannot explain. Welcome to Night Vale.”

This is one of the many introductions to Welcome to Night Vale, written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. Set in a desert town full of strange hooded figures, Angels, a five headed dragon, mysterious glow clouds and many more odd citizens and unexplainable happenings. This dark comedic/sci-fi/horror podcast is presented in the form of a news broadcast from the local radio station.
Our narrator Cecil, voiced by Cecil Baldwin, keeps the citizens of Night Vale up to date with all of the local news and announcements such as the PTA meeting that “ended in bloodshed, as a rift in space-time split open in the Main Street Recreation Center Auditorium, setting loose several confused and physically aggressive pteranodonsas.”, and How you should try not to look at the newly opened dog park, and especially do not look for any period of time at the hooded figures. The dog park will not harm you. On special occasions we get to learn all the best gossip from Cecil’s own personal relationship with local scientist, Carlos, who saves the town from eminent doom on multiple occasions. Many reports come in from recurring roles such as old woman Josie and her alleged angel friends, that bastard Steve Carlsburg, and The Apache Tracker who is actually just a white guy who wears the huge and cartoonishly inaccurate Indian headdress.
This podcast from Common Place books can be difficult to explain without speaking a bit of gibberish that you won’t really get until you’ve had a listen. I like to say it’s like the Twilight Zone & Tales from the Crypt meets NPR, and set in a Midwestern desert town. It’s other worldly aura gives the sense that you’ve entered a town outside of Area 51 that’s been lost in the Bermuda Triangle, where conspiracy theories are true, ghosts exist, and a faceless woman is visible only in your mirrors.
As the report reaches the half way to three quarter mark Cecil takes time out to fill you in on the weather. Which is not the weather as we know it. It’s actually a spotlight for a song by bands or artist from all different genres of music.

WtNV started in 2012 and currently has 58 episodes available all roughly 20-30 minutes long. Perfect for a quick listen on your way to work or something to kickstart some crazy dreams before you fall asleep. You can find them in the podcast section of iTunes, YouTube, or just about any podcast site available. If you are a fan of dark comedy, and creative writing this is definitely worth checking out. And remember if you see anything, say nothing, and drink to forget.

4LN Movie Review – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

The underlying theme of the Hunger Games series has always been revolution. Though the story focused on Katniss and her relationships, the mundane lives of the frightened citizens in the various districts, and the sacrificial games which have kept them in line for 75 years, there was just enough underlying tension to convince the viewer that a larger conflict was brewing (and also the fact that most post-apocalyptic, dystopian films have that underlying theme).

 

Part one of Mockingjay brings the revolution to the forefront. Now don’t be fooled by this sudden realization to think it means actual battles between the two sides. Yes, there is plenty of conflict, but the violence is more like alternating acts of terror. And the central figures in this unrest are Katniss representing District 13 (the location of the Rebels) and Peeta representing the Capital.

 

Recall at the end of “Catching Fire,” the rebels broke into the games and rescued Katniss and a number of her friends. But Peeta was not one of those friends. He is now in the capital and spends much of the movie doing interviews condemning the rebels. Meanwhile, Katniss, with the urging of Plutarch Heavensbee (RIP Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and President Coin (the leader of the District 13 rebels played by Julianne Moore, who does a fantastic job in the role), is being molded to become the Mockingjay, the central figure being used by the rebels to rally the rest of PANAM against the capital. But of course, Katniss (like with everything) does not willingly accept the job. It becomes obvious early on in the film that she will accept the role. And that role, like everything else Katniss has endured since volunteering as tribute back in the first movie, will come with much emotional angst and threats to her loved ones. But while some elements of the movie are predictable, it is still an enjoyable ride, even if that ride is a somewhat more mellow than most movies in the same genre.

 

And I do not consider the mellow nature of the beginning of this final chapter in the Hunger Games series to be a bad thing. In an age where movies of this kind rely on CGI/special effects to entertain with their movies (see the preview for “Insurgent” for such a ridiculous example), part one relies on the natural interactions of its characters. Though there are tense moments, there really isn’t a major climax. So when you go to see Mockingjay Part One, don’t expect a rollercoaster set of action sequences and rising action that leads to stunning conclusions and cliffhangers (though the twist at the end will leave you anxious to see part two). Be prepared to pay for a little over two hours of table setting and character development, putting characters in place for the final installment this time next year.

 

(Editor’s Note: This review was written by Jeff Merrick.)

The Superman of Call of Duty – CoD: Advanced Warfare Review

(Editor’s Note: This article was written by our good pal Shane. Amateur gamer, professional badass.)

 

Do you want to fly around and shoot lasers at people while having Kevin Spacey cheer you on…… Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is the game for you. I read a lot of reviews on this game prior to its release and I have read some since the release and they are all written by pro’s and hardcore gamers. I myself run with about a .85 KD. For those of you that don’t know, Call of Dutiers(?) are measured by the size of their KD (Kill /Death Ratio), in case you’re wondering mine is average for my size, anyway, my review of the game will be based on the casual gamer’s gameplay and thoughts on how the game is set up as opposed to past COD’s.

Let me first say that I bought the day zero addition, which means I got the game one day before everyone else, let me also say that the game was unplayable until yesterday due to server lags on the call of duty server locations. So, if you have read bad reviews about the game freezing and grinding to a halt after kills…well that is kind of fixed now and should be completely fixed by next week.

For me I really enjoy the color schemes they used to highlight players and map features. The main problem people had with COD Ghost, was the maps were very dark and big and encouraged camping…which is sitting in a dark high traffic corner and shooting as players ran by. This game almost completely eliminates camping. The colors contrast so well and they have taken out perks that control your blind side. This forces you to get out in the map and engage other players in a gun slinger type game play.

I also am really digging the EXO suits and the abilities. For this game COD wanted to go vertical, you now have the abilities to double jump in mid air, hover, boost side to side to avoid bullets, and once earned you can go invisible for a short period of time (like 3 seconds). For me this makes the game so addictive, there is so much new stuff to master and the vertical aspect of the maps keeps you guessing as to where the enemy will be coming from.

This brings me to what I perceive as developmental designs. In COD Ghost you could play alone and be fine. You have IED’s and if danger was close you could plant on your blind side and by yourself, you could hold down a whole room or building. I believe this game was designed for you to party up and engage the other players. Playing as a team will have huge advantages in this game since you can not protect your blind side alone. Also this game was designed for you to use add-ons, such as Scuff controllers and Kontrol freeks. Scuff controllers give you the ability to jump, aim and shoot without moving your normal finger placements and Kontrol freeks allow you to quickly and precisely follow jumping moving targets. They have also cleverly added what people once used to have to cheat to get… For those of you that have every played COD and wondered how people could see you through walls and kill you, well it was called wall hacking and it cost 60 bucks a month to buy and maintain so Sony can not detect it and ban your console. This game will give it to you for a short period of time, as a perk, after so many kills. Like I said, they designed this game for you to move and experience the whole map.

This leads me to my last point about the multiplayer aspect of this game. The maps are brilliant so far. They are tight maps with few lanes, they are one level vertical and there are very few dark spots. So far I haven’t seen too many places where I could not see who was shooting me. This was a big problem with Ghost, you could get shot from across the map and have zero chance to engage. I also feel like they put a lot of thought into how the maps are laid out, the cover and jump spots are not so plentiful so you can shoot and duck, but they are enough so you can reload safely and continue gun fighting.

The rooms and building all have multiple entrances and windows and they all have very unique game play patterns. As far as I can tell two have dynamic map features which means the map changes as the game plays, one of them floods with a giant tsunami that you can watch roll in and the other erupts with a volcano.

The other thing I have really enjoyed is the campaign mode…this is a single player mode played in a story format. If you didn’t already know, Kevin Spacey plays a leading role in this game play as Jonathan Irons, leader of the Atlas Corporation who is responsible for the “Advanced Warfare”. There is just something about playing this and having Spacey talk directly to me that makes the game feel more enjoyable. My son and I have been tag-teaming the campaign mode and it is just as enjoyable as the multiplayer modes. After the first couple of hours of Ghost’s campaign I felt like I had already played out the whole story line. The Exo abilities and the robotics aspect of the game, as well as Kevin Spacey, make you feel like every scene and game selection are new and building towards something climactic.

The Stuff I don’t like…… The swearing in campaign mode. The F word along with others are used regularly. I am still a little miffed that I paid for Day Zero and couldn’t play it until day 9. This is kind of a neutral point but for casual players, it is very hard to unlock attachments and perks, Double kills and hip fires are hard to do, but they make the game interesting and challenging. Playing this game makes it very difficult to go back to previous CODs, since now I want to Double jump onto building but instead I just jump into a wall and look like a total Noob looking for a secret door.

Over All the game is great, very fun, very challenging and fast paced.

Shane Davis
Played BO1, BO2, Ghost, & Advanced Warfare…and I still get merked by 13 year olds.
PSN Tag – SootedAA

Top Ten Disaster Movies Part 3

The wait is over! The time to learn the rest of the top ten best disaster movies of all time is upon us! Hold on to your butts…it’s about to happen.

2. Independence Day (1996)- Starring Will Smith, Bill “Lonestar” Pullman, and Jeff Goldblum.

The movie starts out following Jeff Goldblum, who is some kind of engineer, picking up a strange signal that is interfering with our satellites. He soon figures out the source the interference when the alien space ships appear over all the major cities in the world. This sudden appearance of city sized space ships obviously leads to mass panic (duh). You learn that Bill Pullman is President (awesome) and he decides to stay in the White House even though there being a space ship hovering overhead (not awesome). Will Smith is an Air Force pilot, who is called to back to base because of the extra-terrestrial tourists. Goldblum soon realizes that the interference is caused by the aliens using our own satellites against us to communicate a countdown. His ex-wife conveniently works for the President so he is able to give the President this information right before the countdown is over, and the aliens blow everything the hell up. Total destruction ensues, but Smith’s girlfriend, her son and dog are spared, because they hide in a maintenance closet in a tunnel. That’s the only thing that will beat alien hellfire every time. In response, the US Air Force launches their best pilots against the aliens. Cue Smith and his wonderful charming self. He is able to detain an alien (now that’s what I call a close encounter), drag him to an unmapped military base (Area 51 perhaps?) where he meets the President and Goldblum. It turns out the government had known about the aliens the whole time (are you really surprised…”No peace!”). Smith, Goldblum, and the President (with the help of the guy from Taxi. No, not him, the other guy. Everyone watched TV Land reruns of Taxi, right?) come up with a plan to defeat the aliens by giving them a virus. Goldblum and Smith use an alien spacecraft to fly into the mother ship and infect it with a virus. Now I know what you are thinking and no, it’s not Ebola or Motaba, it’s a computer virus. Even in the distant 90’s they had computer viruses. Crazy, I know. Meanwhile back on earth, the military scrambles every available pilot and plane (obviously) in the area, which includes the President (of course it does), and Cousin Eddy. The President gives the best freaking speech ever in the history of movies.

 After this speech you just want to wipe your eyes because all the patriotic feels made your eyes sweat and punch an alien in the face. Of course the virus works (because Jeff Goldblum) and their shields go down allowing the Air Force to kick some alien butt. America remains undefeated in the world war count.

Reasons for making top ten: This is not your typical alien invasion disaster movie. This is one of the most epic movies of all time. This would make my top ten favorite any kind of movie list 100% time. I look forward to the 4th of July, not only because I’m a history buff and enjoy the reason we celebrate the day (America!) but mostly because this movie will be on all the time (it’s the A Christmas Story of this holiday). I’m compelled to watch it every time. The fact that it took me half a page should to rehash the movie should be enough evidence that this is a great movie, or at least prove that I am obsessed with it. The graphics in the movie really help bring it to a whole new disastrous level. Now, whenever I see clouds roll in the way they did when the space ships came, I just assume it’s the aliens coming back for revenge. This is by far my favorite Will Smith movie (Goldblum favorite is Jurassic Park, duh. Pullman favorites: Newsies and Casper, also duh). This is a very dynamic movie because it has aliens, fighting, love, and science. I am not sure what else you could ask for. As far as disaster goes, you really can’t deny that one blast from an alien space ship that can destroy an entire city is pretty awesome (awesome in the sense of the actual word, to inspire awe, not in the totally radical kind). It’s pretty evident that if any kind of alien decided to call Earth their new home we would be in for the fight of our lives. Unless, of course, that alien was like Paul, then we would probably just sit around and talk about life, man.

 

1. Twister (1996)- Starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton.

You follow a team of tornado chasers in Oklahoma (because, Oklahoma). They are following a particularly nasty storm that is dropping tornados all over the area. Each twister has it’s own personality you could say, and each tornado’s personality is progressively crappier than the one before it. One even picks up a cow (those windy bastards, leave the poor cows alone). There is an interesting dynamic between Paxton and Hunt; they are in the end stages of their divorce. He just became a weatherman at a local news station, and is engaged. So he drives out to the middle of nowhere to meet up with his old crew and get Hunt (a member of said crew) to sign the divorce papers. While there they get a report of a tornado touchdown, so as the team scrambles to chase the twister Paxton chases after the team because Hunt “conveniently” forgets to sign the papers. While out there, the team shows Paxton something he never thought he would see, Dorothy. A mechanism designed to be released in a tornado to learn all about what makes one tick (or spin, because tornados don’t tick). They try twister after twister to make Dorothy fly, but are having a hard time getting her actually in a tornado. The soon find out that there is another crew, “Jonas, that son of a bitch…He’s in it for money not the science.” Jonas and his crew are out there with a similar device. “Dorothy! You took her, you damn thief!” So now it becomes a race to get intimate with a tornado. There are several close calls, but things get uncomfortably serious with one twister. Paxton and Hunt almost get Dorothy to fly, but then it gets too intense and they had to bail (science experiments are not generally worth a painful death). They had a conversation about how they basically still love each other, which Paxton’s fiancé over hears (ouch). She decides that she is leaving in the next scene but isn’t able to because of TWISTER!. While at a motel/car repair place/ drive-in movie theater, there is reportedly an F-5 tornado (“The hand of God”) on its way towards them. It completely and utterly destroys everything in its path. After the tornado nearly kills them and Hunt’s aunt things get personal. They figure out how to make Dorothy fly. Somehow this tornado is still on the ground after several hours, which is possible (Not only am I a junior geologist, I am also an amateur meteorologist/storm chaser. My mom has always wanted me to be a weathergirl for some reason so that works out). They try once and fail to get Dorothy to go into the tornado; meanwhile Jonas dies a very painful, tornado related death. At one point, Paxton and Hunt drive through a house that rolls out in front of them (yeah, because that is likely). In a last ditch effort to get Dorothy to work they drive their truck into the tornado. It works! They are getting a ridiculous amount a data, but then the tornado shifts towards them (of course it does). Now they are forced to outrun something that has wind speeds around 300mph (right….). They run to a local residence apparently owned by serial killers because they have a barn full of saws, axes, and other devices that can kill you (but I imagine they are also handy when it comes to farming, sigh…c’est la vie). They, however, survive to chase another storm by strapping themselves to some kind of pipe with leather straps.

Reasons for making top ten: This movie is number one for a reason, because when you think of disaster movies this is probably one of the first, if not the first, that comes to mind. It is incredible. It has everything. It even has Philip Seymour Hoffman, although it took me years to realize that he was in the movie. The soundtrack is great. If you pay attention, they actually use a lion’s roar as the sound for one of the tornados. The best part though, has to be the sheer volume of one-liners in this movie, many of which I use on a regular basis. Twister does a great job of showing the devastation that comes with a tornado. At first, my reasoning for putting this movie on the list was to say “Bill Paxton” and “Dorothy! You took her, you damn thief!” but I thought I needed to elaborate. On second thought, maybe I should’ve just left it at that.

 

Well there you have it, the top ten disaster movies. Don’t just take my word for it though, (although you should because I know what I am talking about) go out and watch these movies and come up with your own top ten and let me know so I can tell you how wrong you are! There are several more that almost made the cut, but as you can tell I can be a bit long winded… one thing is for sure, I will never forget how to spell the word “disaster” for the rest of my life.

Top Ten Disaster Movies Part 2

(Editor’s Note: this article was written by Paige Clark, check out Part One here!)

Originally this Top Ten list was supposed to be just one article.  Unfortunately, that’s just not enough time to adequately explain the awesomeness contained within these films.  Therefore, I have now broken it up into a much more manageable three part series (if Peter Jackson can make a trilogy out of The Hobbit, then I can do it to my article, dammit!) so you, the reader, do not have to spend your entire afternoon having your mind blown.  Enjoy!

 

5. Volcano (1997)- Starring Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche.

Tommy Lee Jones in all his glory works for the Los Angeles Office of Emergency Management. Needless to say he has a pretty high stress job. He starts his day off like any other day in LA, with an earthquake, as he rushes into his office with his daughter something awesome happens. As they were driving by the LA tar pits a freaking volcano comes out of it shooting ash, lava bombs, and lava. Despite all of the very volcano like symptoms, it still takes a scientist (Anne Heche) to tell them it’s a volcano (Really? The lava wasn’t a good indicator?). The first thing they want to do is stop it…yeah, because that’s possible. When they realize they can’t stop a volcano (THE volcano) from forming they decide to try to stop the lava flow from getting into the neighborhoods instead. Miraculously they are able to stop the initial flow for a bit, but then discover that nature is using human engineering against them and the lava is now using mass transit via the subway system. Now they discover it is heading towards a mall and a hospital (which is where Jones’s daughter is located) so in an effort to once again stop Mother Nature from burning things (this time capitalism and healthcare), they decide to knock down a building to help divert the flow into the ocean. As they are knocking down the building Jones’s discovers his daughter is in the blast zone and runs fast enough to beat the building to save his daughter. He also is able to save the city! All in a day’s work for Tommy Lee Jones.

Reasons for making top ten: Umm hello?! Volcano in the middle of Los Angeles…how is this not on every top movie list, disaster or not. It not only has great late 90’s special effects (the pinnacle, if you ask me), it also has some touching moments. At one point a racist cop un-cuffs a black guy so he can go home, but then the guy that was released notices the cops struggling to pick up a 2-ton road divider and risks his life to help them move it. How did that scene not give you feels? I also like the scene where the tar pits are first showing signs of volcanic activity, and the concrete prehistoric animals are slowing sinking into the tar. I’d like to think that is how it actually happened. So not only is this movie a great disaster movie it is also historically accurate (right?). Considering I have a degree in history, you can trust my judgment without hesitation. Did I mention that Don Cheadle is in this movie and plays Tommy Lee Jones’s second in command? He wears one of those silly golfers looking hats that were popular in the late 90’s, which is reason alone to watch this movie.

 

4. Dante’s Peak (1997)- Starring James Bond, I mean Pierce Brosnan, and Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton).

The movie starts out with a young couple about to do it (coitus/intercourse) in a natural hot spring, everything is all fun and games until they are boiled alive. That’s either the worst or best way to go, depending on your perspective. Dante’s Peak is supposed to be a dormant volcano but it is starting to wake the hell up. The US Geological Survey (fancy words for the smart people that study the Earth) sends their best guy, Pierce Brosnan, who thinks the mountain is going to blow, but his team disagrees. The mayor of the town, Linda Hamilton, doesn’t know what to do because she doesn’t want to cause mass panic but she also wants to hook up with the new hot, smart guy. When the mountain stays quiet the town thinks they are in the clear. Nope! The volcano erupts. The shear panic that ensues from the townsfolk is truly epic. I mean I can’t say that I would handle myself any better if I was up that close to a volcano erupting. Of course the mayor’s kids go up the mountain to save their stubborn grandma. If you’ve seen the movie you know that doesn’t end well at all. Lava comes pouring in to her house and they have to escape on a small boat in a lake of acid. The grandma realizes this is all her fault gets out of the boat into the acid water to help push it to the dock, and dies a terrible, painful death. The rest of the people try to make it down the mountain before the volcano really blows. Alas, they are unable to and drive into an abandoned mine shaft just in time. Brosnan realizes he left their only means of being found in the car and goes back, but there is a cave in and his arm is mildly injured, by which I mean his elbow bones are sticking out of the skin. Eventually they are saved and a guy on crutches thanks NASA for it over and over.

Reasons for making top ten: I am not sure what the deal was with 1997 but we should just call it the year of the disaster movie. I remember the day I saw this in theater. I pestered my mom all day about going because my sister was somewhere else so it was going to be just her and me. I don’t know why but watching disaster movies is a bond we share, which might be why this movie is in the top ten for me (or it made it because it’s awesome). One of the coolest scenes is when the lahar, a giant mudflow full of debris and volcano stuff, comes rushing down the mountain and wipes out a bridge. Sadly, one of the main characters died, but it was cool to watch nonetheless. This is a really great disaster movie, even outside of the emotional bond I have with it. It also had the added bonus of making you feel like a scientist (just like staying at a Holiday Inn Express). Now, I’m not a geologist, but after this movie I like to consider myself a junior geologist (not to mention the countless hours of documentaries I’ve watched and books I’ve read about disasters). I could totally predict a volcano. See how I threw out volcanic jargon with lahar? Just saying.

 

3. Outbreak (1995)- Starring Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, God (Morgan Freeman) playing a general this time, Cuba Gooding Jr., and the absolutely terrifying Donald Sutherland (I prefer his son, Jack Bauer).

You start out in Africa, in 1967, in a remote village that is ravaged by a mysterious new virus that is killing everyone in its mysteriously viral wake (it’s not Ebola, but it makes the movie all the more relevant). In order to wipe out the virus they decide to just drop a bomb on the village to blow it to smithereens… but they fail because of those damn, dirty, virus-ridden monkeys. McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) is an animal smuggler that smuggles a cute little black and white monkey into the States. The monkey, presumably mad at McDreamy for making him leave his jungle home, spit in McDreamy’s dreamy face, thus infecting him with the Motaba virus. Let’s all just be happy that the monkey didn’t fling its poop in McDreamy’s face, which would have been a travesty. Either way, the virus is now in the states. You follow Hoffman, who is an Army colonel doctor that works in the infectious disease part of the Army or something, and Russo who is a doctor with the Center for Disease Control (CDC). They are recently divorced but are forced to work together when the outbreak occurs, because drama. Hoffman decides to go to the hot zone without permission from his commanding officer, Freeman. He quickly realizes the potential disaster that could happen and jumps into action by calling in the National Guard to lock down the town. The President and his people consider using the bomb they used in Africa, but thanks to Hoffman’s quick talking, they convince the pilots of the plane to “accidentally” (totally on purpose) throw the bomb’s landing off course. The virus kills everyone it infects, so it is up to Hoffman and Gooding Jr. to find the host. When they do they steal an army helicopter (because that was the only option) to fly to a huge boat to figure out where the host animal came from. From there they go on TV to show a picture of the animal (which scares the hell out of everyone because the army released false information that they are sick). A mom in the mountains sees the picture and freaks out because her daughter has a new monkey friend named Betsy. Hoffman and Gooding Jr. fly to retrieve the monkey, which they use to engineer the anti-serum for the virus. Scary Sutherland in all his evil glory attacks their chopper because he refuses to believe that they have the serum. Luckily, they make it in time and save everyone. Oh, and Kevin Spacey dies in the movie, which is sad because he is great in everything.

Reasons for making top ten: This is one of my all time favorite movies. If it is on TV I watch it; if it’s been a while and I see it OnDemand (because it’s that great and they still put it on OnDemand occasionally) I watch it; if I’m feeling bored I put in the DVD because of course I own it. This movie means a little more now with the Ebola-pocalypse (and/or Ebolamageddon) going on (not making light of thousands of people dying, just saying that people are freaking out). If you watch or read anything about potential human extinction scenarios, pandemics are always on there. The elusive “super bug” that will cause painful deaths and wipe out the human race could be the plot for every disaster movie (I am sure you would eventually get tired of the same movie plot over and over, but it would take a while to get there). This movie does a good job of putting a face to the victims of a virus. A lot of the time you hear about something like this (on a smaller scale) going on and you forget about the actual people suffering. If you want to turn yourself into a germophobe and never want to leave your clean, sterile house, watch Outbreak, but it’ll be completely worth it. (Side note: also watch Contagion. It’s essentially the same scenario but lacking the late 90’s amazingness.)

 

Come back tomorrow for the third, and final, installment of my top 10 disaster movies!

Top Ten Disaster Movies: Part 1

(Editor’s note: this article was written by Paige Clark)

One thing that has been around since the beginning of the Cosmos are disasters. You could even call the creation of Earth a disaster considering everything that was involved…fireballs, sulfur raining down, volcanoes, toxic air…all the makings for an excellent film.

I consider myself a disaster movie fan girl. I especially love natural disaster movies; the worse the acting the better. On most Saturdays  the Syfy Channel plays the absolute worst disaster movies you can imagine. They are fantastic. For Christmas one year Cameron (my husband) got me an 8-disc box set consisting of some of these movies. If you are at all familiar with the History Channel and/or H2, you might have seen the show Mega Disasters, depicting potential disasters around the world and giving worst case scenarios if said disaster occurred. The show has everything from volcanic winters, to space germs killing off humans, to the failing American infrastructure (side note: the Wolf Creek Dam in Kentucky would flood Nashville so bad if it broke. The flooding would be so bad it would make the 2010 flood look like a kiddie pool) Needless to say I’ve seen every episode half a dozen times and if I wasn’t so cheap I would have the DVDs.  All that being said, I decided to compile a list of the best and my favorite disaster movies.

 

10. The Happening (2008)- Starring Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel.

the happening

This movie follows a high school science teacher (Wahlberg), his wife (Deschanel), and a little girl. It starts out with Wahlberg and his class discussing the latest news of the sudden disappearance of the world’s bees, the environmental impact that will have, and why they disappeared. Then there is news of strange things… happening (Ha! See what I did there?) in Central Park. People began killing themselves on a massive scale. It was pretty brutal. With M. Night Shyamalan writing and directing it, the reason behind this happening (Ha! Did it again!) could literally be anything. Turns out the planet’s vegetation was pissed at humanity for all the damage we had done and created the strangest defense mechanism to fight back. Eventually the happening (Again!) began to subside, and afterwards you never looked at a salad or a pretty flower the same way. Also, you gained a new respect for vegetarians and vegans for eating the bastards that nearly killed off the human race.

Reason for making top ten: For whatever reason I really enjoyed this movie even though it technically wasn’t that great. I mean honestly, how can you not like a movie with Marky Mark and the New Girl? Since this movie was a disaster worldwide it definitely needs to be on the list. Like I said before it was super brutal to watch people just lay down in front of their running lawnmower, but you had to stay and figure out what was causing all the killing. Besides the obvious political overtones, I thought it was a clever twist (What a twist?!) even if it was a bit off the wall.

 

9. The Impossible (2012)- Starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts.

This movie will make you feel all the feels that you are capable of feeling. It’s based on a real life family (a father, mother, and 3 boys under 10 years old) that vacationed in Thailand during Christmas 2004. Does that time frame sound familiar? It’s because that’s when a devastating tsunami struck killed over 200,000 people. The family is doing the normal vacation pool time when the tsunami strikes and the family is separated. Watts’s character is severely injured when she is tossed and turned in the waves that are pushing her inland. It’s extremely hard to watch. Eventually she meets up with her oldest son, and once the water subsides, they journey to get help and search desperately for the rest of their family. Somehow McGregor and the younger two boys survive and they search for their mom and brother. It’s a frustrating venture as they depict the family being near each other but unable to find one another in the midst of the chaos. Once they are all reunited it’s one of the most emotional reunions I’ve seen in a movie. You become extremely invested in this family. The fact they there is a happy ending amongst such a terrible event is nice.

Reason for making top ten: I feel like this is a bit obvious considering the grand scale of the tsunami, not to mention that the earthquake that caused the tsunami was the third strongest earthquake in recorded history. Since this is movie based on one of the biggest (if not the biggest) natural disasters known, of course I am going to watch it. The fact that it’s based on a real family, as well as a real event, made it that much more compelling. When an actual disaster happens you feel for the people affected by the event, but when you are able to attach a real story to the disaster it makes it that more real. It is a very good movie.

 

8. Godzilla (2014)- Starring a guy you probably haven’t heard of (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s sister (Elizabeth Olsen), and Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston.

godzilla-poster-2014

You would think people would stop making Godzilla movies considering how long the monster has been destroying Tokyo. This movie has the giant freaking lizard giving Japan a break and setting his sights on the American West Coast. (side note: we don’t like to bring up the 1998 revamp of Godzilla. Sorry Matthew Broderick, I still love you though.) This rendition changed things up a bit. Instead of the long standing theory nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean created the mutant monster, the tests were trying to kill the monster. It turns out Godzilla isn’t the only monster stirring in the Earth, and this new monster’s love for nuclear radiation causes him to destroy a nuclear power plant in Japan. Once this monster is woken up, it also wakes up Godzilla. New monster, named M.U.T.O. – Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism – doesn’t stay terrestrial forever, that bitch can fly. Eventually M.U.T.O. goes in search of his mate, who happens to be located in the American Southwest. Godzilla gives chase to M.U.T.O. as the American military gives chase to them both, and they all meet in San Francisco for the ultimate battle of monsters and military might.

Reason for making top ten: I went and saw this movie with my mom because she loves monster movies, especially Godzilla. She has a special place in her heart for the big, green, scaly guy. Really, I just wanted to go with her because I wanted to see how many times she teared up because she was afraid something was going to happen to Godzilla. I counted about 4-5. The movie was a bit slow starting out but it made up with the awesome destruction of San Fran. One of my favorite parts was the high altitude jump the military did into the city to fight the monsters. I don’t know why but I just wanted to start singing, “America, F*** Yeah!” The shear magnitude of devastation that occurs is truly incredible. They even took out the Golden Gate Bridge! If you like monster movies, you’ll probably like Godzilla as well. Even if you don’t like monster movies, you will probably still like Godzilla. I really freaking loved this movie.

 

7. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)- Starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Most people think of this movie when they think of disaster movies, and rightfully so. I think it’s a safe bet that most of the northern hemisphere freezing over from monster storms would cause many a disaster. You follow, Quaid, a paleoclimatologist, whatever the hell that is (A climatologist for the dinosaurs? Like Ross from Friends?). Quaid, of course, is the only one who truly understands what is going to happen, and he has to convince the President what is going to happen and take proper precautions. Meanwhile his son, played by Gyllenhaal, is in New York City for a school function. Quaid tries to warn his son that a giant ass storm was coming, but he’s a teenager so naturally he doesn’t listen. Once it starts raining cats and dogs though (the wind was blowing so hard it picked up cats and dogs and threw them onto bystanders) the kid got the idea that maybe his dad was right. It’s too late to get out of the city so they go to the highest building above sea level near them, the New York City Library. The temperature starts to drop rapidly freezing everything, including a giant cargo ship that made its way through Manhattan. Did I mention that the wolves from the Central Park Zoo escaped and made it to the ship and tried to kill Gyllenhaal and his friends!? Awesome addition to a disaster movie in my opinion. Anyway, Quaid has to save his son, so he treks from D.C. in this awesome snow mobile thing until he falls into a mall because the snow is so high they didn’t realize they were driving on top of mall. He finally makes it to New York and saves his son! Woo! The ironic thing is the remaining population of the U.S. must move to the southern part of the country and many just move to Mexico.

Reason for making top ten: Like I said, when the majority of the northern hemisphere freezes, I’d call that a disaster. The way the kids in the library have to survive adds to the fun. When they are trying to survive the librarians obviously try and save the most valuable books, but apparently they didn’t grab enough of the less valuable books because they are forced to choose between burning a Gutenberg Bible and another priceless piece of literature…umm hello? Why aren’t you burning the extra chairs and tables in the room? #disastermovieproblems. This movie wasn’t necessarily the greatest movie ever, but it was definitely one of the best disaster movies. It should definitely make it on a top ten list…oh wait! It did!

 

6. Deep Impact (1998)- Starring baby Elijah Wood, God (Morgan Freeman) as the President of the U. S. of A, Robert Duvall, and a bunch of other big names from the late 90s.

deep_impact_ver1

Wood, a junior astronomer, discovers an asteroid that is going to hit the planet. He doesn’t realize this at first, but he sends his findings to a big boy astronomer who dies on his way to warn everyone. The government keeps the findings a secret a while so they have time make preparations to keep a small number of people alive in a mountain in order to keep the human race (particularly Americans) alive so they can repopulate when they are able to venture above ground. They also prepare a team of astronauts to try and nuke (duh) the asteroid into a billion pieces because it has the audacity to try and destroy America…I mean the world. The first attempt is a failure but they come up with a plan that will prevent the asteroid from completely wiping out humanity. Meanwhile, Wood and his family are some of the select few that get chosen to go into the hidey-hole to survive the apocalypse. In a desperate attempt to save his girlfriend and her family, they get married. Super sweet right? Wrong, her family doesn’t get to go so she stays behind. When the smaller of the two asteroids heads their way, Wood leaves the hidey-hole to go save his wife. He finds her just in time to save her and her baby brother on a dirt bike, racing up a mountain beating the ginormous tsunami that the asteroid created.

Reasons for making top ten: Umm…duh. Asteroid hitting planet earth. You may ask why Armageddon didn’t make my list but this did, my answer to you is, it’s my list and I get to put whatever movie I want on it, so there. For whatever reason I just like this movie more. I cry like an absolute baby at both of the movies. I remember watching Deep Impact in my 10th grade Chemistry class (because science!) and trying to hide my crying. I failed, and what sucks more is that I was ugly crying too (girls, you know what I am talking about). This movie just has so many different story lines, it’s like you are watching a bunch of different movies at the same time. Also, asteroids scare the crap out of me. Mostly because there is little we can do to prevent one from hitting the planet. I remember a couple of years ago when that one meteor came closer than any other meteor had (besides the ones that actually hit us, sorry dinosaurs, but thanks for the fossil fuels and all!) I was watching it on TV and I kid you not, the moment that it was passing by a huge dump truck or something went by my house. It shook the house so bad and was so loud that I thought the TV just lied to me and I was about to die. I closed my eyes and waited…then felt kind of silly when it passed. I was also thankful for not being incinerated. If you haven’t seen this movie I really recommend it.

 

I know what you are thinking, “Paige, this is only five movies?” I know, I can count as well. (I do have a degree in history, and had to take a math class or two to get it) I know you are sitting on the edge of your seats in anxious anticipation for the rest of my top ten disaster movies. In the meantime, go onDemand, download, buy, or the old fashion rent (we have a video rental store where we live, you only wish you were that lucky) these movies and judge for yourself!

 

Gotham Review: Episode 2

(Editor’s Note: For the duration of the Gotham season, our guest contributor will be Micah Russell; who will be providing reviews of each episode while simultaneously scarfing burritos and drinking surge. We are excited for him to help contribute to our site, as well as help him live out his dreams of one day riding a unicorn naked. Enjoy.)

The second episode of Gotham, “Selina Kyle”, has a fairly misleading name.  Cat, as we learn she likes to be called (how suttle…), finds herself at the scene of another crime in progress.  Two “good Samaritans”, a middle-aged man and woman that look like 1950’s “holy rollers”, arrive with a food truck in a back alley occupied by homeless teenagers.  Luring the kids over with the promise of free food and warm beds the couple quickly show their true intentions as the woman pulls a large needle out of a bag and begins injecting the children in the back of the neck, knocking them unconscious.  Of course Cat gets away before they can get to her and one of the larger teens escapes before being fully injected. The male then shoots a defenseless, homeless, war veteran  in cold blood before chasing the kid down and throwing him through a restaurant window.  Already the first ten minutes of this episode were so much more intriguing than the first, mostly due to the fact that this episode was able to break away from the classic Wayne murder story and develop its own storylines while showing the true direction of the show overall.

 

Gotham 2

 

We begin to see a lot more of the corruption and power struggles in this episode than the last, though it could seem overblown and exaggerated at times, its great to see how the show-runners are attempting to paint Gotham as a much more corrupt city before Jim Gordon is able to clean things up with the help of the Batman.  The corruption shows on every level too, from low level beat cops who would rather check in on the restaurant that pays them a little extra on the side instead of secure a crime scene, all the way of to Gotham’s mayor, Aubrey James (more on that later).  We even a get a small glimpse at Bullock’s past, as Barbara goes to the paper’s about the kidnappings when the GCPD tries to cover it up, the police captain Sarah Essen exposing that Bullock has done something like this before.  Maybe at one point he was a good guy like James, trying to do the right thing, but he had to “bend or get broke” as the captain put it.  James is also starting to see instant ramifications of pretending to kill Oswald Cobblepot.  When he tries to enforce that his partner and he should do the right thing, it becomes easy to rub in Gordon’s face that he has sinned just like the rest of him.  This is actually a great dynamic because it doesn’t allow the ultra-righteous detective to get too preachy, keeping him humbled at times in order keep everyone on his good side.  Though once everyone finds out that Penguin is still alive, there should be a lot more trouble to ensue, especially since Penguin prophesied of a war with rivers of blood in the streets.  This will be an interesting development to keep an eye on.

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The other way this episode begins to separate itself from the pilot, showing it’s true potential, is by revealing some of the major players to come.  It turns out the crazy kidnapping couple works for the Dollmaker.  This got me super excited.  The Dollmaker is a more recent villain in the Batman universe created in the past few years.  He creates masks out of the facial skin of his victims, attaching separate pieces together to create a new face, and lobotomizing them, controlling them as dolls to do his bidding. Turns out that’s what the children were being kidnapped for.  In the New 52 comics, Dollmaker’s father was a cannibal who was gunned down by a young James Gordon, so whether this will be his father or not has yet to be revealed.  The show is attempting to create a very dark world that you normally wouldn’t see on network television, which I think will help in its success, giving viewers a style of TV that they are not used to seeing with shows like Breaking Bad and True Detective airing on cable.

Though we haven’t seen the Dollmaker yet, we do watch Fish Mooney show some more of her true self, as we find out that Falcone discovered she was trying to take him out, possibly by using the Wayne murder as a way to start toppling the tower from both sides, Good and Evil.  Of course the Penguin was the one who revealed this information, who seems to being playing all sides of the game to weasel his way to the top.  Since it’s hard for Falcone to trust the words of the Penguin, He instead has Mooney’s lover, Lazlo (potentially Professor Pyg, Lazlo Valentine, another villain who worked for the Dollmaker) brutally beaten behind the scenes as a warning for her to stay loyal.  As expected, she doesn’t take this well as he leaves, screaming in a rage for everyone to get out of her bar.  This just shows exactly how on edge everyone in this show seems to be, changing emotions at the drop of a hat.

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Of course the best moments of this episode were similar to the last.  Every time the Penguin is on screen it’s a tense moment.  He is a loose cannon at this point in time.  Being picked up on the side of the road by a couple of “bros”, he stabs one in the throat with a beer bottle the second he mentions how he walks like a penguin.  It was great to see him planning his masterful return to take over Gotham in a dilapidated trailer in the middle of nowhere, holding his recent victims friend as a hostage.  They are really going all out with this character, making him somewhat lovable and insanely brutal all at the same time.  This has been a fantastic and unique interpretation of the Penguin so far and I truly hope it continues on this way.

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The story eventually has to get back on course, but before it does, we see a troubled Bruce Wayne burning himself at candle light while continuing to test Alfred’s patience.  They even had him listening to heavy metal while drawing disturbing pictures, which at a first glance seems like overkill, but at the same time I kind of like the idea of this punk Bruce Wayne.  It’s an interesting way to help us see what he is going through mentally.  The only bothersome moment of this is when Alfred wants James to help talk some sense into the boy.  He mentions how he won’t get Bruce therapy because it was in his father’s will to do so.  Seems like an obvious cop-out shut that door, but the excuse of him needing to choose his own path, because he is a Wayne, kind of works too.  Of course Gordon points out the obvious of how this is a, “recipe for disaster”.  Nonetheless, Bruce shortly proves how he is of a sane mind, explaining his desire to overcome fear and pain.  For now these signs of the Bruce we have come to know are working, but his meetings with Gordon cannot continue to become forced, even if Gordon did promise to find his parents killer in the first episode.

A big highlight of this episode, outside of the Penguin, came at the end, helping bring light to why this episode is titled, “Selina Kyle”. After Gordon and Bullock find and save the kids from earlier and pull a great good-cop/bad-cop routine that we will hopefully see more of, the mayor decides to send all of the homeless kids in the city upstate to juvenile detention where they can be “cared-for”.  But as Gordon points out, the mayor is basically putting kids in prison without a trial, showing that even the ones in power who are preaching good intentions don’t mind getting their hands dirty.  While transporting the children, the creepy couple that works for the Dollmaker abducts an entire busload of kids that Selina gets grouped with.

This couple is actually kind of your typical dumb bad guys because they constantly get one-upped by teenage kids, but I will get this show a break since they are just the lackeys, lackeys aren’t supposed to be that smart anyways.  Anyways, Selina sneaks off of the bus and escapes.  At the moment the kidnappers realize their count of kids that they are locking in a shipping container is off, you hear a scream further out in the warehouse.  A guy runs out screaming how she scratched his eyes, and he is holding his hands over his bloody face.  I was surprised by how brutal this part was because when he moved his hands, his eyeballs had been ripped out of his head!!!  Now most people would probably think this was a little much, especially since she immediately has to be saved by Gordon, but I like how the show is attempting to push the boundary while adding glimpses of the villains some of these characters will eventually become.  We even more so get a better idea of who Selina will be when she attempts to speak to Gordon at the station to reveal that she saw who killed the Waynes, telling another officer she will scream that he “touched her” if she doesn’t get her way.

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This episode of Gotham was worlds better than the first.  Though the show still has room for improvement in order to reach its full potential that they have shown glimmers of, it is attempting to push the boundary of what we have come to expect from a show that is airing on network television.  The ceiling for this show is honestly as high as the creators want it to be and I hope that they continue to build on the momentum of this episode.  I gladly give this episode an 8.2 out of 10.

Just to end this two-part review in a more singular manner, I thought I would add some thoughts.  First, please go check out the show, I haven’t included or touched on nearly everything that the two episodes pack into an hour each.  Second, please come back next week for a review of the third episode, which will hopefully not feel as long since it will only be one episode instead of two.  Thanks for everyone who was willing to read until the end, see you next week!

 

Also, Check out the new trailer for the whole season they just released!  Shows some better direction as to where the show is going , as well as a couple of new villains! Professor Pyg and Victor Zsasz!

Gotham Review: Episode 1

(Editor’s Note: For the duration of the Gotham season, our guest contributor will be Micah Russell; who will be providing reviews of each episode while simultaneously scarfing burritos and drinking surge. We are excited for him to help contribute to our site, as well as help him live out his dreams of one day riding a unicorn naked. Enjoy.)

 

Two Sundays ago marked the first episode of Fox’s highly anticipated new series, Gotham, a show concentrating on the pre-Batman era of the notorious city of Gotham and a young Detective James Gordon’s (Ben McKenzie) first case after the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents.  This review is going to cover the first two episodes of the series (this is part one). One reason for this is that I was just now asked to review the show and the other being that sometimes its better to judge the 2nd episode of a show after you have had time to compare it to its pilot episode.  Pilot episodes are usually very forced, trying to fit a lot of information in the forefront of a series, in order to lay the groundwork.  Since most everyone, whether Batman fan or not, is pretty familiar with the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne, there were lot of extra pieces that were being squeezed into an hour long show, where the first fifteen minutes is just going over old material.  So let’s go ahead and get the first episode of this two-part review knocked out.  (And please go watch the show before hand, if not, hopefully this will inspire you to check it out)

 

 Part 1 :“Pilot”

Spoilers Ahead ( If you haven’t watched episode one already, what are you waiting for?)!!!!!

 

               So as I mentioned before the episode opens up on the murder of the Waynes in the theatre district of Gotham.  Harping on a more classic version of the tale, just coming out of seeing a film adaptation of Zorro, the Waynes are gunned down, in cold blood, as young Bruce watches in horror; His mother’s pearls striking the ground in slow motion; a robbery gone bad.  One of the better parts in this show’s interpretation of the events is that this isn’t actually a botched robbery, like we are used to seeing.  There was no father trying to protect his family or a nervous gunman reacting too quickly.  This killer guns down the Waynes in cold blood, as Bruce (and a young Selina Kyle hidden on a rooftop) watches.  After this happens the show jumps right into all things Gordon.

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James Gordon is assigned to the scene, while his slimy and corrupt partner, Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), attempts to jump off the case once he realizes whom the victims are.  Harvey Bullock, for those are familiar with the animated series, always seemed a little crooked, but nowhere near the kind of crooked that this new version portrays.  This episode tries its hardest to instill exactly how corrupt all of the Gotham police department and the higher ups of the city are. In a nutshell, the murder was planned, Bullock is acting fishy, and Gordon is none the wiser at first.  Basically there is a whole lot going on in this episode, so I’m not going to go through explaining every little thing detail, but I will list some of the key players and where they stand in the show so far

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First there is Bullock’s seedy crime connection, Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith).  She works for the infamous Falcone crime family, as you soon find out how wicked she really is while attempting to move herself to a higher position of power.  She is obviously hiding a lot of information on the Wayne murder, but her level of involvement has yet to be revealed.  She is actually a newer character created for the show that I have never heard of prior.  She shows a lot of emotion and the actress play her very well.  While I’m on the topic I would like to point out that though this episode has its flaws, the acting by some of the main cast really saves it from being just an average TV show.

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This brings me to Oswald Cobblepot, or the Penguin as most people know him.  This young, maybe teenage or young adult (I’m not sure), version of him is brilliantly portrayed by the new face of Robin Lord Taylor.  He is truly one of the highlights of the series so far, an underling of Fish Mooney’s, showing an internally damaged but intelligent and well-spoken young man that can snap at any mention of the nickname he will one day embrace.

Young Bruce Wayne doesn’t get a lot of screen time but when he does it seems they are going for a kind of emo/punk version of him (which actually seems to work in a weird way).  His caretaker, Alfred Pennyworth, is a lot grittier then we normally see, almost cold hearted, but it seems they are showing how this older gentlemen is mentally dealing with having to take on his new responsibilities over this child on such short notice.  This could be an interesting side of the butler we haven’t gotten to experience before.

Major Crimes Unit also seems to be doing some work behind the scenes, figuring out that the man Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock gun down for the Wayne murderer was actually framed thanks to the help of Penguin, who is attempting his own power play by taking out those who seem to care for him most, snitching to anyone he thinks could help him.  MCU also reveals that Gordon’s fiancé and future wife was at one point in a possible lesbian relationship with the female leading the case, Renee Montoya.  It seems like the passing of information between Gordon and this former lover will be a continuing conflict in the home.

The last 10 minutes of the episode become very interesting, revealing a lot about these main players (and there are so many of them) and setting up for what really makes this pilot so much more exciting than most you will see in the new fall lineups for different networks.  Gordon continues to try and be the one cop who does the right thing and begins paying for it when he sticks his nose in everyone’s business after finding out the Wayne killer is still out there, and that the GCPD had something to do with covering it up.

 

He is beaten by Fish Mooney’s men and dragged to a blood-spattered warehouse with hanging cow meat, strung upside down.  This scene is fantastic because it’s the first glimpse at how dark this world really can be.  Bullock shows a slightly softer side by actually caring for his partner’s well being for once and sticking his neck out for him, much to his dismay.  Fish Mooney shows how deadly she can be as she discovers that Cobblepot spoke to the MCU and breaks his leg with a chair, revealing how it is that Penguin began to walk with his exaggerated limp.

 

The penultimate moment is a great transition for this show into telling its own stories.  This crazy butcher comes out to cut up Gordon and Bullock and at the last moment, Falcone makes an appearance.  I enjoyed this moment because it shows Gordon’s old ties to Gotham and why he would come back.  Apparently his father was the old District Attorney, revealing that even Gordon’s father learned how to “play along” as Carmine Falcone puts it, proving that everyone has their secret sins.

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The greatest piece of the episode though, comes down to Bullock telling James that he has to shot the young Cobblepot and put him in the river, so everyone will see that he is willing to “get with the program.”  Of course Gordon shows he is a better man than most in Gotham, pretending to kill Oswald as he tells him, “Don’t ever come back to Gotham!”

It seems that Gordon won’t be shaken so easily, which sticks to the essence of the character we have grown to know and love.  But at what cost?  Considering that Penguin immediately emerges on the other side of the river, slicing a fisherman’s throat for a measly sandwich, I would say Gordon made the wrong decision.

 

With all of the things I loved about this pilot, there were a few things that bothered me, but I did cut the show a break considering that it’s a pilot and they usually have a lot of glaring issues.  For instance, they showed WAAAAAY to many characters from the rogue’s gallery of Batman villains. I was hoping they would spread these out:  A young Catwoman at the beginning and end of the show.  A young Poison Ivy, oddly named Ivy Pepper instead of her regular name, Pamela Isley; but her dad is the one framed for the Wayne murder who gets killed early on and her home seemed to be an abusive one, so maybe she will be go into foster care and have her name changed, using her current name as her alter ego later on.  The Riddler even makes an appearance, currently working for the GCPD as some sort of forensic analyst.  As well a street corner named 4th and Grundy, an obvious nod towards the immortal Solomon Grundy of the comics.  There was also a slight joker reference (not the actual joker thank goodness), but it wasn’t anymore than just a comedian performing for Fish at her bar, so hopefully that isn’t a recurring theme.

Nonetheless, for all of the small things that seemed a little overdone or purposely forced, the show did enough right in its first episode for me to be very interested.  I would gladly give this episode a 7 out of 10, majority being how well some of the actors portrayed their characters.  Even the delivery of James Gordon is great, though he can be a little too gritty at times. Hopefully since he is young, he will develop into the Gordon we are all familiar with, but I still enjoy the idea of a badass detective Gordon like from the Batman: Year one comic, not afraid to get his hands dirty.  Fish Mooney put it best, “you got a little danger behind those eyes,” and since this show is supposed to be more about Gordon than anyone else, I believe it will be great to see a new twist on an old character, something that seems to be this shows repeating strength.

Well that took a lot longer than expected to get through, hopefully you enjoyed it enough to continue to part 2.  Also the reviews won’t normally be two-parter, so hopefully you can bare with me here.  Moving onward!
(In a British sea captain’s voice)