Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cloverfield in Toy Form

Were you a fan of Cloverfield? Would you like a Cloverfield Monster of your very own to menace your bookshelf or cubicle? Do you have $100 to spend? Well, then Hasbro has the product for you.

The 14" Cloverfield Monster action figure features 70 points of articulation, authentic movie sounds, two interchangeable heads and 10 parasite creatures. It also comes with a Statue of Liberty head accessory to re-enact the memorable scene from the movie.

Now, I collect movie memorabilia, and own my fair share of action figures. This is a pretty cool item to commemorate a film that was, in my opinion, pretty damned entertaining. However, the $100 price point is ludicrous no matter how limited the production run is. As a collector and a movie fan, this figure gets a major pass from me.

Also, one of the main things that makes Cloverfield work is that the monster isn't iconic. Looking at this toy, the creature is little more than a bat without wings. In the film, however, we only see bits and pieces of it, and the handheld camera point-of-view gave the monster a necessary sense of scale. Casting this creature in plastic to put next to Darth Vader and Spider-Man in a cubicle destroys the film's mystique. Merchandising this film may be the wrong way to go. But as I said in an earlier post, bring on the sequel.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Ghostbusters Announcement at Comic Con?

I came across this interesting tidbit on /film this week. Apparently, Sony Pictures is gearing up for a Ghostbusters-related announcement at this year's Comic Con in San Diego. While we already know plenty about the upcoming multiplatform Ghostbusters video game, this announcement could be any number of things. It could be something as mundane as Blu-ray releases of the first two movies or a new line of comic books or other merchandise, but I'm hoping for something a bit more substantial.

The /film report speculates that this announcement may concern a Ghostbusters 3, which would finally adapt that "Ghostbusters in Hell" idea that's been circulating for years. Of course, this film would most likely either be animated or would feature an entirely new team of Ghostbusters under the tutelage of our favorite paranormal investigators.
Happy Saturday, Wortmaniacs!

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Man Clearly Appreciates a Good Milkshake

As a film buff, it pains me to say that I've yet to see Paul Thomas Anderson's Oscar-nominated There Will Be Blood, but on the eve of this Sunday's Academy Awards I wish it luck. Not only because it's up against some stiff competition in the form of the Coen brothers' No Country For Old Men, but because it's responsible for the most hilarious rant I've ever seen in film or otherwise.

You all know about Daniel Day-Lewis' brilliant bit of insanity by now. "I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!" is now a part of the pop culture lexicon. Thanks to YouTube, I've seen this infamous scene in which Lewis' Daniel Plainview taunts his beaten foe and his young competitor Eli in its entirety, and while I'm sure I've gone and spoiled the entire movie for myself by watching it (over and over again), that one scene makes me want to see that film more than any commercial or positive review ever could.

The scene is just so perfectly demented, even if I did view it out of context. Plainview explains his milkshake allegory so well, and while it's clearly a reference to oil drilling (and "draaaaaaaainage," evidently), you can apply the term to just about any form of competition. The scene also shows Plainview chucking bowling balls at Eli while shouting "I told you I would eat you." It's almost poetry.

Normally I'd provide a link to that copyright-demolishing piece of footage, but I'm sure the YouTube gods are planning on removing it from the site if they haven't already by the time you this.

Lego Star Wars: A Wort Report Short

In the wake of classic games like Knights of the Old Republic and Battlefront II, there has been a serious draught of quality console Star Wars titles. With the release of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed still months away, how will Jedi wannabes curb their Darth addictions?

Thankfully, the multiplatform Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is not only a great Star Wars title, but a must-play for gamers and children of all ages. While it’s not necessarily anything new—Lego Star Wars hit consoles in 2005 with the Original Trilogy follow-up the following year, this title combines all six episodes of the film series, Lego-fies them and adds the allure of online cooperative play (Xbox 360 version, pictured here) to give you more bang for your bantha.

The game infuses the Star Wars saga with a playful, irreverent sense of humor that’ll give you a chuckle whether or not you kneel at the altar of George Lucas. All of your favorite characters are here, and so is Jar Jar Binks—even by now, that guy must realize that he’s nobody’s favorite.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Self-Congratulations and Such

As you may have already noticed, The Wort Report has surpassed 1200 visitors, so I'd like to thank each and every one of you who choose to make this dorky little blog a part of their daily Internet routine. And this could be 12 people who have visited 100 times each, or 2 people visiting 600 times each. And for those people I say: Go outside or something. Yes, that's me, James Wortman, telling someone to get a life. Like I said, this is a time of milestones.

As for my life, things have been fairly hectic. Between my full-time editorial position, freelance writing/photography with the Port Chester/Rye Brook Westmore News and some comic-to-film articles with the good people at comic book site Broken Frontier, I'm pretty spent. Right now I'm drinking my third cup of coffee (iced, naturally) just to keep from crashing prematurely. I still need to catch up on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles before I hit the sack. Haven't seen the show yet? Check out my recap at Broken Frontier here.

Self-aggrandizing aside, I'm going to commit to at least four unique entries this week, not counting this one. Can I do it? Click it here all this week to find out.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Devil May Cry 4: First Impressions

I can safely say that I know absolutely nothing about Capcom’s Devil May Cry series. Sure, I’ve been aware of its existence. I know it was originally conceived as a Resident Evil sequel when the first installment hit the Playstation 2 in 2001, and I know that there’s a main character named Dante with an obscenely large sword who fights demons in decidedly old-school hack and slash fashion. But that’s it. So why the hell do I own the fourth installment?

Curiosity, I suppose. Devil May Cry 4 has gotten some solid reviews across the board. It looks great, even if the gameplay is a tad archaic. However, seeing as how I’m a DMC newbie, I doubted this would be a problem. So off to GameStop I went, with trade-in games in tow. I sacrificed three games to the second-hand game gods that day: Lost Planet, Fight Night Round 3, and Super Paper Mario. The first two were impulse buys that I never warmed up to, and Super Paper Mario—my only disappointing Wii purchase thus far—turned out to be less inspired than Internet fanboys would have you believe. With these trade-ins, I walked out with a brand-new release for a mere $13. I love it when a plan comes together.

I came home, fired up the XBox 360, picked up my controller and launched into one of the most incomprehensible narratives I’ve ever seen. I’ve read the plot synopsis on the back of the box and I’ve read the intro in the instruction manual, but this game is still completely foreign to me even after hours of gameplay. The basic gist, I imagine, is that you’re a knight named Nero who is trying to track down Dante—the protagonist from the first three games—while fighting hundreds and hundreds of demons along the way. I’m sure I’ve oversimplified a tad, but that’s all the back story I need to enjoy the hell out of this thing.

And so far, I really have enjoyed it. There’s not a whole lot of strategy involved. You’ve got a sword, a gun, and a demon hand that’s good for grappling and swinging ice demons around by their faces. You’re rewarded for dispatching your enemies stylishly, and you can string together any number of combos. There’s also an RPG-esque ability system that lets you purchase new attacks as you progress.

Like any hack and slash worth its refreshingly violent salt, this game has some ridiculously fun boss battles. You're pitted against rogue angels, fire demons, monstrous killer plants and giant ice frogs. If you’re like me, you need a giant killer ice frog in your life. And guess what? Devil May Cry 4 brings the ice frog and brings it hard.

This game doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and if you’ve played other entries in the series you probably won’t find much new here. But if you’re like me, and are new to the series, Devil May Cry 4 isn't such a bad way to spend a few late nights in these bitter winter months.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Chocolates, Flowers and Crystal Skulls

Steven Spielberg gave film fans one hell of a valentine this morning with the release of the first teaser trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which hits theaters on May 22. Head on over to IndianaJones.com to view the trailer in standard or high definition.

Like most longtime fans of the Indiana Jones series, I was skeptical when this film was announced. I grew up with the first two films—particularly Temple of Doom, which I still love despite realizing it’s the weakest in the series—and once I discovered Last Crusade on video years later, I was hooked on the character for life. Would Kingdom of the Crystal Skull be just another cash-in sequel to capitalize on childhood nostalgia?

Thankfully, this teaser trailer has eased any and all anxieties I may have had. Ford is still iconic with his trademark fedora and whip, silencing any detractors claiming he is “too old” to play the legendary treasure hunter. The film also reunites Ford with Raiders of the Lost Ark co-star Karen Allen, reprising the role of Marion Ravenwood. With a supporting cast that includes Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Ray Winstone and John Hurt, this film shouldn’t disappoint. Then again I was also pretty excited when I saw the first trailer for Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and we all know how that fiasco turned out.

Judging by the trailer and the little information released thus far, it seems that Indy is taking a trip to South America to retrieve a crystal skull (duh) before the Soviets do. The trailer confirms that Area 51 plays a role, as does that cavernous warehouse we saw at the conclusion of Raiders. Throw in what appears to be a long-lost son, and you have an adventure that promises to stand up to the originals.

But don’t listen to me, click the link above and see it for yourself.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's Official...

The Hollywood writer's strike is over as of tonight following a majority endorsement by the Writers' Guild of America (WGA).

The new contract between WGA members and studio heads includes provisions that take new media into account, which will compensate writers for digital distribution of their content. Ratification of this new agreement will be finalized following membership meetings on February 26.

What does this mean for us, the viewers? Well, it means that writers can go back to work, and that we will no longer be subject to new installments of Moment of Truth to sate our hunger for prime-time drama. However, don't expect new episodes of your favorite shows like Heroes and 24 just yet. As Hollywood picks up the pieces following the three-month WGA strike, we may not be seeing our favorite series return until the fall.

To read Variety's entire repeart, click here.

Star Wars Returns to Theaters

I wouldn’t be a Star Wars fanatic if I wasn’t overjoyed that a full-length computer animated feature film based on the Clone Wars is making its way to theaters on Friday, August 15, 2008. While this is hardly new territory—having already been fully explored previously in Expanded Universe novels, comic books and the Genndy Tartakovsky animated shorts—this theatrical release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars could lead to future animated Star Wars films that delve deeper into eras in the timeline not yet explored on film.

According to the official announcement, which can be read on StarWars.com, the film precedes a full-length animated series that will premiere in the fall on Cartoon Network.

"I felt there were a lot more Star Wars stories to tell,” creator George Lucas says in the announcement. “I was eager to start telling some of them through animation and, at the same time, push the art of animation forward.” While not directing the film or the upcoming series, Lucas will act as executive producer on both.

The animation is not dissimilar from the stylized look of the Cartoon Network Clone Wars shorts, and is set to feature many of the same characters featured in that series. Yet, judging by the limited material released thus far (including a trailer, also available at the official site), this film and series will not retread those events.

Of course this is all great news, and will ensure that Star Wars remains firmly planted in the pop culture lexicon for the foreseeable future at least until the live-action television television show premieres. But are we really clamoring for yet another series based on a time period in-between two films we’ve already seen? If Lucas and the folks at Lucasfilm are so fascinated by the Clone Wars, why weren’t they the focus of the prequel trilogy? This series just may remind us just how uneventful those films really were.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Freddy Returns to Elm Street

You knew it was coming. According to movie news site Ain’t It Cool News, Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes production company—responsible for remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Amityville Horror—has set its sights on Freddy Krueger and a remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Of course, since this news has hit the Internet there’s a fair amount of fanboy moaning, with all this talk of Michael Bay having his way with childhoods and ruining Hollywood. It’s the kneejerk reaction to just about any movie announcement these days.

While I do enjoy the original Elm Street film, and admittedly see the sequels as worthwhile diversions, I can’t seem to get either angry or excited about this announcement. While it may be a testament to Hollywood’s complete and total lack of ideas as of late, Freddy Krueger is hardly sacred ground in my book. Also, if you’re really feeling nostalgic, pop in the original movie. It’s as schlocky as it is imaginative and hardly the classic we seem to remember it as being. But it is a whole lot of fun. And the sequels essentially turn Freddy into a child-murdering stand-up comic. Not much horror to be found there but, like I said, they’re amusing.

The only troubling aspect of this announcement is that series mainstay Robert Englund will not be reprising his role as the titular razor-fingered boogeyman. This seems odd to me, as Freddy is far more than a guy in a mask. Anyone with a foreboding physique can play Leatherface or Jason Voorhees. But Freddy? Englund is Freddy and has been for nearly 25 years.

Then again, a franchise reboot won’t work if we’re constantly reminded of the previous installments, so I’ll give this one the benefit of the doubt. Until then, sweet dreams, Wortmaniacs.