One of the critical hits of this year's movie award season has been Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). It's about a movie star best known for playing a superhero called Birdman back in the '90s. Two decades later, this guy, played by Michael Keaton, is struggling to mount his own stage adaptation of Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, at Broadway's St. James Theatre.
Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the talented Mexican behind Amores Perros, 21 Grams and others, Birdman is an impressive piece of filmmaking. It also has its "meta" aspect, in its loose parallels with the career of Keaton, who more than two decades later is still associated with his starring role in Tim Burton's 1989 Batman and its sequel Batman Returns (1992). Although Keaton has worked prolifically, often to critical acclaim, in the years since, he is, perhaps, perceived as never quite having fully shaken off the cowl and cape.
Birdman has changed that; this week it racked up the SAG and Golden Globe nominations, and it will almost certainly land Keaton an Oscar nomination, and his won't be the only one. But for all the movie's undeniable merit, I find myself lagging behind the critical bandwagon; I can't bring myself to jump all the way on. Certain aspects of Birdman have been irritating me since I saw it, and more than a couple of them are nerd-relevant.
Think about your favorite movies. Odds are that no matter how much you love them, you can think of at least one scene that could use some improvement. Maybe there's some lousy dialogue, or someone acting out of character, or bad special effects. It doesn't ruin the movie for you, but it does bug you just a little bit every time you see it. Well, the reverse is true for bad or just plain forgettable movies. Some terrible films have one scene that, while it hardly redeems the movie, provides a flicker of enjoyment in an otherwise tedious affair and makes you wonder what might have been if that spark of brilliance had been present throughout the entire creative process.
We come here today to celebrate those moments.More >>
On November 28, the entire world waited with bated breath for the new Star Wars trailer to give us our first glimpse into a Lucas-free galaxy far, far away. Despite the lack of story or character information, the trailer showed that they at least got the aesthetic of the film right, although they didn't really have to: even if the film were just two hours of C3-P0 lost in a Walmart shouting "R2-D2, where are you?", it would still make a billion dollars at the box office. But with all of the good will that the trailer has gathered, there is one annoying thing that is causing fans on the Internet to complain...More >>
Artwork by CitrusKing46
So this weekend gave us one of the year's biggest gaming events. A relatively new event designed to show off some of the absolute best and most innovative games the industry has to offer, and act as a celebration of the medium with plenty of terrific games for everyone...
...Unfortunately, that event was the PlayStation Experience (which we'll get to later today). Sadly, I had bet on the wrong pony and opted to cover The Game Awards instead.
Why, you may ask? Well, after the extremely awkward VGX last year, everyone's hopes were high that without Spike, Geoff Keighley's The Game Awards (re-christened with the most generic name possible) would end up being a vast improvement. Plus, at the very least it was boasting over a dozen World Premieres consisting of major new game reveals and brand new footage. So while the show itself still turned out to be a dud (in my opinion), let's at least go over what trailers we got out this supposed shebang...More >>
Normally, I don't think it's necessary to write about or deeply examine the kind of enjoyment ones gets out of movies like Star Wars. It rarely pays. But I'm fascinated and a little horrified by the general response to George Lucas's prequel trilogy these days. The Internet has deputized (or militarized or radicalized) a strange breed of I/O fruitcakes who, at least in public, believe that expressing one's feelings with the least possible nuance is the best way to go every time. In truth, anywhere in America it's hard to find sixty people who will agree about anything except about how much they hate something. And yet check out any AICN talkback to hear an unexamined criticism savagely confirmed, dissent level zero: "The Hobbit movies are just cash grabs! The English Patient is boring! I would not sleep with that famously beautiful actress if she begged me! Hurrah!"More >>
Here is a sad fact we all must face: There is a sixth Resident Evil film planned. It's intended to the the final film in the unloved-by-just-about-everyone franchise (the average Tomatometer approval rating on the existing five is 26%), but we, as audiences, have allowed this thing to continue. And here's the most chilling thing of all: The first Resident Evil film is considered one of the high watermarks when it comes to video-game-to-movie adaptations. Talking to peers, I have discovered that Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat are considered the best video game movies made to date. If those are the cinema classics of the genre, then perhaps the genre needs to, ahem, step up its game.More >>
For starters, a bit of definition is in order. When I say literally ridiculous, I'm going with the root of the word. Ridicule. A lot of people use the word ridiculous as a synonym for funny or absurd or bizarre. It's not. Ridiculous refers to something that is worthy of ridicule. Sure, ridicule can be funny, but it doesn't have to be funny. What it does need to be is cruel and merciless.
That's the approach I take to responding to comments on the subject of casual games and the people who play them. Computer makers ASUS recently embarrassed the hell out of themselves while trying to market their products by appealing to "hardcore" gamers and feeding into their completely unjustified feeling of superiority to "casual" gamers. Aside from inadvertently looking like sexist prats, they also fed into a false dichotomy that is not only less true than people tend to think, but is actively harmful to gaming as a whole. Here are some examples of why...More >>
National holidays don't often yield a ton of news, but we have 14 fun fragments here for your amusement, compiled with the aid of Kyle LeClair.
This week's tipsters include Gallen_Dugall, SlyDante777, skrag2112 and troi.More >>
Buying toys as presents for a toy collector is hard. Believe me, I know, because I'm the recipient very often - and the truth is that unless the buyer is a fellow collector and we communicate often about what we like, it is tough to get me something I don't already have. (Admittedly, it was tougher when toys were cheaper.)
I don't know how many casual readers we have who might check in on this site just to get a sense of what toy li'l Gallen or Cousin Poe might like to find under his tree, but this list is in large part for them. Parents, friends, lovers, wealthy benefactors - if your knowledge of collectible toys falls somewhere between "fuck" and "all," yet you wish to please the plastic addict close to your heart...we have some tips.More >>
WELCOME to the Topless Robot 2014 Holiday Gift Guide! All this week we've been showing you the best gifts you can buy for friends, neighbors, postmen, supers, nieces, nephews, loyal flatscans, good children, bad children, parents, teachers, coworkers, significant others and business partners. Today, we're looking at some awesome gifts for the comic-inclined in your life. We'll have gifts that are inexpensive but still great, that are good for buying in bulk for casual acquaintances. We'll have gifts that are so expensive only the truly frivolous would even think to ask for them. And we'll have everything in between.