Tuesday, April 19, 2011

He's Coming...

Fade in on a peaceful scene near the ocean...boom...a far-off yet enormous noise gathers the attention of small children at play, fishermen on a boat, old people playing checkers at a family restaurant...one by one, they decide to ignore the noise going back to whatever they were doing; all except for one grizzled old man with a bleach-white blind eye, sitting in the corner by himself. He looks up for the first time in years, garnering the attention of the matronly chef in the back of the family restaurant.

From deep in the dark ocean it comes again...Boom...a little louder, everyone's head snaps up, quickly; a crease of worry crossing the faces of the fishermen, the checkers game hovers, a red-piece floating in limbo as the players gaze into the darkness. BOom...it comes quicker now...BOOm...the children on the beach start to cry...BOOM...an impossibly loud thunder cracks the sky as a crest of water begins to explode out of the ocean, as if pushed from beneath. The old man gasps a quick, raspy breath and whispers his last word "Gojira..." cue: "SKREEEOOONK!!!" and explosion of water as the biggest, baddest, most notorious beast our planet has known explodes out of the Ocean and the audience gets its very first glimpse of Godzilla, the King of the Monsters.

For those who do not know, I love Godzilla. Kind of a lot. Like I kind of have a small shrine to him and have seen, own, and repeatedly watch all 29 of his films (even "the American one"). I started by getting King of the Monsters (the American translation of the original Gojira film) from the library. Then I rented every Godzilla film I could get my hands on, and began scouring the previously viewed bins in movie stores searching for any hastily discarded Godzilla gem to add to my growing collection. I even used to order VHS dubs of his films from Japan back in the 90's just so I could see them all; I remember how proud I felt when I realised that my Godzilla collection was far superior to any typical rental store.

For me, the fascination is not hard to trace. There's just something about the mind of a little boy that is instantly destroyed by Dinosaurs, there was nothing we could do to resist them. Dinosaurs managed to hit every single one of our AWESOME buttons at the same time (something we won't experience again until our teens when we suddenly notice girls). They're these huge, enormous, gigantic, monsters (I'm talking about the Dinosaurs here), pulled straight from our imaginations; and yet, they're real. A whole world, our world, used to be filled with the most unimaginably diverse array of gigantic monster lizards!!!

Then you take the unmatched awesomeness of Dinosaurs and add in atomic-fire breath and regular throw-downs with the most ass-kicking, mind-bending, mutant/cyborg monsters from outer space to ever hit the cinematic screen; and yeah, you can't go wrong. You just can't. I have yet to meet the six year old boy who does not completely lose their mind when they first find Godzilla.

Now lets get this out of the way...Godzilla movies are bad. Really, bad. Like, wicked terrible bad sometimes; but in the end, it somehow just makes them stronger. When we're young, we can't tell the difference between a good movie and a bad movie; and when we're old enough to tell the difference, we see that these movies are so amazingly bad that they've transcended their stinkyness through some combination of stupidity, ignorance, innocence, and pure unmitigated joy.

Godzilla films are these raucous, loosely sewn together excuses to stage a monster fight. Pure and simple. Often, the only “plot” in a Godzilla film is that SCIENCE or NATURE has created a monster; said monster wonders into Godzilla's turf and gets all up in Big-G's face so Godzilla has to show the upstart why he's called the King of the Monsters. AAAnd MOVIE!

But really, what more do we need? I mean, any human will come running to ogle wide eyed and slack jawed the second someone yells “Fight!!!” ; and that's just to see two 8th graders that can't decide who's dad is tougher. When someone tells me that two giant monsters with laser eyes and atomic fire breath wanna throw-down in down town Tokyo to find out who's the meanest planet-wrecking bad ass; Hell's yeah I'm in!

Despite the fact that the entire plot of most Godzilla movies are explained in the credits: “Godzilla Vs...”, they still manage to throw in some deeper underlying story elements that help make these films a little less than paper thin. Themes like Science and human progress and how we tend to run before we can walk are present in most of the Godzilla films.

In fact, the first Godzilla film, Gojira, released in Japan in 1954, was created and received as a very serious film about the hazards of Nuclear Science and it's impact on all of humanity. The film also spent a great deal of time expressing the feeling of National grief for the hardships, both physical and emotional, that befell the Japanese after the bombing, particularly in rural Japan. Gojira was recently restored, translated, and released on DVD in North America for the first time in 50 years and I must say it is a seriously good film (but more on that later).

So in tribute to the Cinematic love of my life, the upcoming release of his latest movie (number 29 [or 30 if you count the 1998 Sony American-Godzilla movie, which many G-Fans do not...]), and the release of a brand-new comic series from I.D.W.; I hereby pledge to re-watch every Godzilla film, in order, and blog my reviews; to show my love and share it with youse! Here we go a-loop-de-loo...

Photo Credit.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

SCIENCE Strikes Again!!!

Hey all you Authentically Geeky pals and gals, Big G here,

I am certainly not going to be the only person blogging about this particular subject in the next few weeks, in fact I'm sure the internet is about to be rife with enough fan-boy drool to fill an Olympic pool; but I would feel remiss if I did not celebrate the arrival of the video game that I have been fantasizing about for almost a year now since I first hear of its development. The game I speak of is the most highly-anticipated Portal 2 from Valve Studios.

For anyone who may not know, Portal is a game that came packaged with the infamous "Orange Box", a collection of games from the Valve studio that included what most of us bought it for, all of the Half-Life video game franchise including Team Fortress and TF2.

Despite buying the pack for other games, all gamers love a free gift and most of us took some time to look into this unassuming little video game; and were instantly and wonderfully thankful that they did.

Portal is an instantly immersive experience. It immediately grabs your attention and draws you into the game by having the game play start with a slow fade into a first-person perspective as if you had just woken up, but found yourself in a room you don't recognize. Then it hits the ground running, telling you that you're part of a testing group, that you must make your way through several rooms as best you can, and that the test has already begun. This immersive introductory technique is favoured by Valve and has been used in all of their story based games right from their very first game, Half-Life; and it is only one of the many reasons why Portal is instantly engrossing.

Portal is a weird game. The writing is subtle, sarcastic, and hilarious; delivered by an omnipotent voice from the sky that watches your testing and constantly keeps you guessing with half-truths and outright deception. Yet despite a friendly yet malevolent narrator, there are no enemies. It's just you and the puzzle slowly coming undone (for now...)

As you play through the early levels you assemble a gun that shoots portals. One trigger makes a blue door, the other trigger makes an orange door. Place the two doors where ever you like and you can walk through one and instantly come through the other. What's more, momentum is preserved through the doorway, so if you jump off a cliff and land in the blue portal, you will come rocketing out of the orange portal. The possibilities for game play are nearly infinite.

Yet in another weird twist, the game play of Portal was by industry standards pretty low; most players play through the game in around 6-10 hours in the first try; some as low as 2 hours! This compares to an average roll-playing game with 60-80 hours of game play!! Or the possibilities of online play which could concieveably extend game play indefinitely, as seems the case with World of Warcraft!!!

But this too was part of the charm of Portal. It felt refreshing to make it through a game quickly, in about the same time it takes you to watch a movie. Portal didn't feel like it stole part of your life, in fact the opposite, it's entirely unique game-play , intelligent writing, and quick yet rewarding puzzle based game play made it unique in an industry of cohorts eternally attempting to redefine the "shoot bad-guy" concept.

And now here comes Portal 2...and I'm so excited, that I just can't hide it. The Portal 2 blog
and the Portal 2 Website both have up to date information about the sequel. This game will not only be approximately four times as long as the first, but will also feature a new co-operative 2 player mode, and that it will be completely cross-platform through Steam, meaning a PS3 user can play with a PC or a Mac user, etc. And all I can say is yeah, F$%K YEAH!!!