Twisted Metal: Head-On Review

It’s time to look at my first ever Twisted Metal game! It felt good to finally be able to open the door on this franchise. It always looked pretty interesting and who doesn’t like car combat? Naturally the game’s likely a little more limited than the main installments would be, but it gives you a pretty good look at what the franchise is all about. (I assume) There is even a story even if it was rather brief so that’s cool. It’s a fun game and one that you will remember down the line.

The game starts with a mysterious being announcing that the entire planet is going to be the battleground for a tournament that he is hosting. The objective is to use your vehicle to destroy everyone else’s. If you are successful then he shall grant you a wish. If you don’t want to participate in the tournament…too bad. Each character gets their own story but at first you only have 2 characters unlocked so I chose the biker dude. He’s not thrilled about this, but if someone’s going to win this thing it may as well be him. There aren’t really any more cutscenes until the end of the game where you fight a giant car that is all but indestructible. Then you are treated to the ending. The guy’s reaction to it wasn’t great though. You get a wish of course, but the main character is just super confused and starts yelling about how this must all be a nightmare. The villain zaps him a bit, but the guy won’t budge so the announcer takes this as his wish and decides to stop with the tournaments for a little while. However, he does say that this is wish that he cannot grant so it was pretty pointless. The main guy should have asked for something a little more valuable. The options are pretty much endless to be honest.

When it comes to the gameplay, you’ll likely pick it up very quickly. You drive around in the car and try to blow the others up. You have a machine gun built into the car that you can spam although you have to let it recharge from time to time. It does almost no damage but it’s still good to have. Around the stage there are a few different power ups like Fire missiles, power missiles, upgrades, etc. The best ones are the homing missiles as they deal a lot of damage and are easy to hit with. Most levels will have you try to destroy 4-5 cars. You get 3 lives to do so or you have to restart. I died once, but after that I realized the perfect way to cheese. Look for a health power up somewhere in the level. It’ll keep respawning there so whenever you’re low on health just head for that place.

However, the most important thing to do is to grab the upgrades. There are 6 upgrades. I’m not sure if it was a glitch or not, but once I got them all my car became completely invincible. This was really handy for the final boss since I literally couldn’t lose health. Getting the 6 upgrades can be tough because if you lose a life you lose all of your upgrades and earning them back takes a while since you get them only when you destroy cars. Still, it’s worth it and without that invincibility I get the feeling that the final boss would have been a whole lot more challenging.

The graphics look pretty good. Naturally I was impressed that it had full voice acting and everything. I shouldn’t be surprised since the PSP always did a good job of feeling like a big console. It’s a shame that it didn’t end up selling better because I do think a lot of passion was put into the PSP. It really could have ended up being one of the big ones and instead it ended up fading into obscurity. The soundtrack is also pretty good for the most part. Naturally there is a lot of rock music which is fun. I can’t really vouch for the lyrical themes because I didn’t understand anything they were saying, but the instrumental themes are definitely quite good.

As for replay value, I wouldn’t say that there is a ton here. There is probably a multiplayer mode for if you have two PSPs, but that’s tough to find nowadays. You can try beating the game with everyone to get all of the endings. That will take you around 10 hours I’d say. Beyond that there isn’t much else. If the price was higher then it probably wouldn’t be worth it, but if you can get the game for a few bucks then the initial playthrough probably still justifies the cost. It’s a car game that you’ll want to add to your collection.

Overall, Twisted Metal was fun. The plot twist about who the main character at the end was is pretty intense. I’m not sure exactly how straightforward it was though as it’s possible that the guy is actually someone else. I just get the feeling that there is more to the clown than meets the eye, but I really don’t know enough about the franchise to say one way or the other. If you play this game, make sure to keep an eye out for those final cutscenes. They’re pretty fun. With this game completed, I have finally gotten the video game backlog down to 100 games. Definitely a pretty emotional moment.

Overall 7/10

The Core Review

It’s time for another disaster film, but this one doesn’t really manage to be as interesting as the Volcano film. The main problem is that it runs on for a little too long and the plot takes away the chance of us actually getting to see most of the destruction. Is The Core as scary as the poster would have you believe? Not really, but the tone of the film is interesting.

The plot involves a guy by the name of Josh. He’s a professor at a university and he gets called in by the government after a group of people mysteriously die for no discernible reason. He starts to look into the situation and Josh realizes that the Earth is doomed. The Core is not turning anymore and soon the Earth will get cooked by the Sun. The Government actually believes him for once and a crew is assigned to go to the Core and restart it. This’ll be a dangerous mission and Josh must learn what it means to be a true leader as he embarks on the most dangerous quest of all time!

I do have to give the film some credit for the intro. It’s very ominous and action packed so it would have been fitting for something like The Avengers or Man of Steel. It’s a pretty awesome intro. I definitely did not expect something quite like that, but it really helped to set the tone for the film. Unfortunately, you can’t help but raise your expectations after something like that and the rest of the film couldn’t match this.

Near the beginning of the film is a big scene, which immediately destroyed the film’s chances of being very good. A flock of birds is attacked by The Core and there are dozens of fatalities. I definitely didn’t need to see that and it destroyed any momentum that the film had. We also get to see a lot of fishes and whales get terminated by the solar ray that the Sun shot out to take out the planet. These scenes doomed the film as far as I was concerned, but did the rest of it hold up?

Josh is the main character and he likes to keep it real. After he found out that the Earth was doomed, he did what any cheap uncourageous unheroic doubtful main character would do. He quickly went to a bar to get drunk and hopefully sleep it off. Luckily, the Government quickly threw him back into the thick of things and while Josh tried to intimidate them at the meeting…it didn’t work. Josh is still more of a hero than most of the other characters and he tries his best to make sure that everyone is safe. In that sense, he’s easily one of the best characters in the film, even if he wasn’t willing to make the heroic sacrifice at the end. Self Destruction for the sake of the world is a tall order so I can’t blame him for not volunteering even though someone like Goku would have done it without hesitation. Josh does have a quick scene with Rebecca that was incredibly forced and it wasn’t even to produce a romance as it was a spur of the moment emotion that just came out. There was literally no reason to add this to the film and it was likely just to make everyone get ready to exit the theater as it symbolized that we were approaching the climax. Why!!!? It could have been worse, but it was still sad.

Rebecca has a lot of experience at being a co-pilot in an air craft and she did make it all the way up to space with her crew. She saved them all with her superior navigational skills, but that was not enough for the others to take her seriously. She got her chance when the mission for The Core popped up. Granted, the government acknowledged her brave actions, but Robert was convinced that she is still not leader material. You have to lose a few times to be ready for that. (It would have been more convincing if Robert had actually won a battle or two)

Edward is one of the more sympathetic characters. His life’s research was stolen by one of his co-workers and he’s had to live out in the desert for over a decade. It’s been rough, but he never gave up on his super driller. The heroes finally come to help out the planet and they need his design so Edward joins the crew. Tensions are still running high between him and Conrad, which climaxes with a one punch fight. Edward is basically the down to Earth character and he keeps everyone in check.

Conrad is one of the smarter characters in the film and he makes sure to constantly boast about it. He always seeks attention while making sure to put others in the spotlight when things start to get dangerous. He never makes the hero calls though as his personal safety is very important to him. I actually liked him in the beginning, but he started to drop as the film went on. It’s good to see him being the voice of despair as he tries to keep the mood down, but it’s not enough to overlook the fact that he’s one of the big antagonists who’s portrayed as a protagonist.

Serge is Josh’s friend from the beginning of the film and he’s also a part of the crew when they head to The Core. He’s mostly there for the one liners, but he’s also pretty good at setting up weapons. He was all right I suppose, but he didn’t really add anything to the film. I dare say that he was basically inconsequential to the plot and nothing would have changed if he had not been present.

Robert is the GI Joe of the group. His role is likely the smallest from the group members and he’s just there to constantly remind Rebecca that she’ll never be a proper pilot. He’s technically the hardcore/experienced sergeant who makes the tough calls when necessary, but we don’t see a whole lot of that. He mostly operates from hype and that’s typically not enough to impress me while the situation continues to escalate. He was actually a good character for the most part, but he didn’t really help when it was needed. (Josh was having trouble with his tie and Robert didn’t give him any assistance)

Rat is the genius of the group when it comes to hacking. He may not be the nicest guy out there, but he gets the job done and he likes his Hot Pockets. I can definitely sympathize since they are some of the best microwaved food out there! He’s a decent character, but I had to suspend my disbelief a whole lot when he pick pocketed the main character and then hacked his phone in a minute with a whistle. It was also pretty sad for the government since he can hack just about anything. Ah well, he did what he had too and he made the hero call at the end so he’s a solid guy to rely on.

Another critique that I would have to address is the fact that the film tries to be too emotional at times. Every death consists of long scenes where: One character looks around a lot before getting compressed, One character laughs because his last actions will not be remembered, One character melts as he almost made it back…etc. I understand that an emotional death is part of the classic disaster film formula, but overdoing it is certainly not going to win the film any points. Especially when the characters are going to have to be back to their happy selves a few minutes later so the plot can continue.

I would argue that the film also gets hit by the Lord of The Rings curse in that it’s a little too long. I’m always glad to see films crack 2 hours, but this one just didn’t need it. I liked the beginning minus the animal violence scenes because it was pretty ominous and interesting. After that, the action and excitement just died down as they made it into the drill. It just wasn’t as interesting and I like disaster films because you get to see buildings blow up and cars ravaged. Being in the center of the Earth just isn’t as exciting because there sin’t a whole lot to see. I was glad that the film had such an excellent beginning, but it just made the second half’s drought more noticeable.

The soundtrack for the film is very good and the theme from the intro quickly comes to mind. I also liked the music that was playing during the first spaceship scene as the heroes try not to crash into the civilians as they manage to make it to a patch of water. The music in those scenes was very good and maybe movie soundtracks aren’t as dead as I remembered. There have certainly been a number of films that had a good soundtrack at this point.

I do have to give the Government some props for their plan since it was so terrible that I had to smile. To stop the Earth from blowing up, they were going to cause a massive earthquake/explosion to shake things up and hope that everything works again. Okay…..whatever brings in the dough for the inventor of the weapon I suppose. He was probably grinning from ear to ear in Europe when the general gave him the OK to fire it. The government had two agents who were always sent to get Josh and I’ll admit that they were pretty cool. They always had their guns at the ready and these guys meant business. They were easily the two best government agents.

Overall, The Core is not going to be the next hit as far as Disaster films go. The soundtrack was dynamite and the intro for the film is incredible. The first half hour really builds up the excitement and the film had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, animal violence and an uneventful second half filled with (forced) emotion helped to stop the film from reaching its full potential. The government is also very unapologetic at the end as they don’t even want to be bothered to look for the main crew. They could die for all they care since the government just wanted to save the planet. The government typically looks mean or corrupt in these films, but that was still stretching it just a bit. You would be better off watching the first Broly film in the DBZ series if you want to see a lot of destruction.

Overall 4/10

Godzilla (2014) Review

2014 has been a pretty big year for films so far. We got The Amazing Spider Man 2 and Captain America, which were both pretty great films in their own right. Nontheless, Godzilla was the film that I was excited for. Over the last year or two, I quickly went and watched all of the previous Godzilla films in the franchise so that I could be ready for this one when it hit theaters. Well, I made it and the film was excellent!

I have to say that the atmosphere was perfect for the film. It was cloudy and dark outside and you got the feeling that something terrifying was about to happen. Once you entered the theater, it was easy to see how excited everyone was. For once, the place was packed and the room was completely sold out. Surrounded by many Godzilla fans, I quickly braced myself for the inevitable awesomeness. Be warned that this review may contain spoilers!

I barely even need to describe the plot, but I may as well. After the Government “destroyed” Godzilla in 1954, they decided to hide this from the civilians. Joe is forced to move out of his home amidst devastating circumstances, but he suspects that this was no natural occurrence. After a 15 year time skip, forces are on the move on again and the Muto has awoken. Joe’s son, Ford, steps into the main role as he carries on the fight against the monsters. Hope seems to be lost and humanity may need to rely on the power of Godzilla to save them all!

Pretty vague summary, but most of the plot is in the trailer. It’s hard to know where to start in a film like this one where there is so much to say. I suppose that I should begin with the two negatives that I had with the film since it’s all uphill from there. The first negative was the very unnecessary scene that involved a dog attempting to run away from a large flood that was approaching. That scene came out of nowhere and it was added for no discernible reason. That definitely didn’t help the film and I was hoping that Godzilla would manage to avoid this particular error.

The other part that I didn’t care for was the romance between the main character and Elle. They only get two major scenes that are hard to watch, but that’s enough. It may have been a while since they’ve seen each other, but we don’t really need to see that. The scenes were far too long and this wasn’t a huge negative, but a negative all the same. I wouldn’t have minded if they just shook hands or something. That would have definitely been passable.

Now, let’s get into the good parts! Godzilla’s portrayal was spot on! He’s a hero, but he’s a fighter first and foremost. It was awesome to see him completely crushing the Muto monsters. During the first fight, Godzilla was winning effortlessly and there was nothing that they could do to stop him. I’ll admit that I got a little worried when they started double teaming him, but Godzilla still held his own. Godzilla’s Atomic Breath was an epic moment as well. I’m sure that everyone had been waiting for that moment and he definitely made the most out of it. It may not have ended the fight on his first blast, but the next one did the trick. Noticeably, Godzilla made an effort to avoid hurting any of the humans. He did get upset and put them in danger several times, but they were never his main concern.

Muto was a pretty fun villain. We had both a guy and a girl Muto. The guy version was a lot smaller, but he had wings to make up for this. He is definitely not the strongest monster out there, but he is still very large. His size is nothing compared to Godzilla, but his speed serves him well. The design is really fun and it reminds me of Clover, Kamakuras, and maybe even a little Orga in there. His EMP ability is also pretty fun and very useful against the government. It basically means that the humans are helpless against him.

The girl version of Muto is much larger, but she does not possess wings. Her physical strength is admirable and while she was not as physically strong as Godzilla, she was very powerful. Her limbs were sharp enough to stab into Godzilla when she struck and many hits connected against Godzilla. Her striking power is fierce and she proves that she can stand up to any other American Kaiju. Overall, the film did a great job of making this new Kaiju design. It can definitely hold up to any of the older ones and they look amazing.

Ford Brody is the main character and I can’t say that he was my favorite hero of late. He reminds me of Alex Hopper, but Hopper may have been a little better. It’s definitely debatable, but Ford just wasn’t cool to watch. He didn’t give Joe the benefit of the doubt for a while, which was sad. His army training was a nice twist since it gave him some experience, but it actually wasn’t played up all that much. Still, it helped for the Halo jump. Ford isn’t a bad character, but he can’t hold his own film so I’m definitely glad that it’s called Godzilla!

Joe Brody looked like he would be one of the main characters from the trailer and he does get a decent role, but it’s not as large as you may have expected. That’s not a really bad thing, but I would have preferred it if he had gotten a larger role in place of Ford. Joe was a lot more sympathetic and he knew what he was doing at all times. Getting that data was critical…hopefully.

Dr. Serizawa is around and he seems to be the son of the original Serizawa. Unfortunately, he’s a tough character to root for. He locks up the heroes and he then proceeds to make the exact same mistakes that the originals made. Was it really a good idea to let the Kaiju get near some more radiation? I don’t think so! Serizawa keeps on trying to tell the government to let nature run its course and allow Godzilla to win, which is good in theory…but he doesn’t make a strong case. He could have presented his argument in better ways. That being said, this is the army so I doubt that they would have listened to him. Serizawa was a decent character, but he definitely wasn’t as good as he could have been.

Elle Brody doesn’t get a whole lot of scenes, but she seems to be a reasonable person. I still say that Ford and Elle should have taken things a lot slower when he got back home. Elle makes the tough calls at the end, but it’s still good that she sent the kid away. (Maybe, she was safe the whole time so things may have been easier if they had been together) She was all right and maybe Elle will get more of a role in the sequel.

Godzilla’s design is a crucial part of any Godzilla film and this one did a nice job. The only part that I’m still not a fan of is Godzilla’s face. It looks way too much like a Bear and he just doesn’t have that Godzilla grin. Godzilla’s roar is as powerful as ever and the rest of his design is nice and monstrous. It’s definitely one of his better looks and I wouldn’t mind if they kept that design for the next film, but an alteration to the face would be good.

Godzilla gives us a lot of action as well as a few emotional scenes. Sandy Brody’s scene is pretty tragic and you’ll likely remember it from the trailer. Emotional moments can definitely be good as long as they’re handled the “right” way. Naturally that’s subjective, but I would say that the film handled the scene pretty well. It was sad, but it didn’t drag on for a while to keep on reminding us how sad it was.

Godzilla really shines in the action scenes. We didn’t get any until we were at the very end of the film, but it was the perfect setting. Nighttime in the middle of a big city is where I want just about all fights to take place. It’s the perfect arena and I loved seeing Godzilla throw Muto through a few buildings. His atomic breath scene was pretty epic and while the blast was not as big as you may have expected; it was played off as a compacted blast for maximum damage. That worked just as well for me. The fight was styalized after the showa films so we had a lot of hand to hand combat with minimal long range attacks. Godzilla’s final blow against the creature is pretty intense. Perhaps it was a little over the top, but it’s something that many fans had probably been waiting for and it definitely beats what I thought he was about to do. (I don’t want another Anguirus vs Mecha Godzilla right now…) Godzilla basically reminded everyone that you should not try to fight him.

The Mutos managed to land a lot of hits on Godzilla and they did deal a lot of damage, but the victor was never in doubt. I’ll admit that it got a little close for comfort since it was hard to imagine that they could put up such a fight. I did cut the film a little slack there because they parodied the roar part. Godzilla decided to take time off from the fight to let out a roar of challenge and the two monsters promptly took him down. Stopping to roar is not recommended in a fight, but Godzilla used to do that all the time. It was a nice homage.

One area of the film that never made sense was the cutaways. Several times Godzilla would be getting ready to fight Muto and then it would cut away. Once, we even jumped ahead to the next day and we’ll find out that Muto escaped with Godzilla in pursuit. I don’t get how their fights would keep ending so abruptly and it can be a little irritating. It feels like classic plot hax and that’s why they made sure that the scenes weren’t on screen. Perhaps it was the only way to make things believable. Still, I didn’t appreciate missing out on all of those fights so that was definitely a bit of a negative.

On the other hand, I did like the 3D roller coaster effect. Several times, it felt as if you were in a ride where you had to escape from the monsters. The camera would feel as if we were now in first person view as the monsters approached. It meant that we couldn’t really see the action, but it was very epic. One of the scenes that definitely stood out was when the burning train headed towards the two main characters. It felt like a horror scene and it was very well done.

We’ve also got to give the Bus Driver an honorable mention. He went above and beyond the call of duty as he put the peddle to the meddle. I have to give him credit for going full speed twice in the span of a few minutes as he had to get past the Kaiju. The kids were lucky that they were with this trained professional!

The soundtrack was pretty good for the film. We had some very serious themes and even a hero theme or two when Godzilla was fighting against Muto. Live Action films aren’t known for their great soundtracks so it’s always a pleasant surprise to see a film that actually does have some good tunes.

This was definitely a big improvement from the 98 film and I also prefer it to the new Pacific Rim adventure. Compared to other Godzilla films this one definitely won’t be very high in the ranks, but it did manage to defeat a few of them. The original Godzilla, Return of Godzilla, Raids Again, Vs Biollante, etc. This one definitely beat those films, but it naturally pales in comparison to Final Wars, GMK, Vs Mecha Godzilla, and the original Ghidorah The 3 Headed Monster. Hopefully this film does very well at the box office so that they can afford to have some more great fights for the sequel in 2016.

I have to admit that a post credits scene would have been perfect for the film. We got a chinese dragon symbol which may allude to Manda or Ghidorah, but I wanted something a little more bold. A Kaiju in space that is flying towards Earth, a tablet with the words, “Mothra Awakens” or even a final scene with the government and “Project Mecha Godzilla” Adding in any of those scenes would have been very epic and added another boost to the film.

Finally, there was one part in the ending that I did not care for. That part was Godzilla crumpling to the ground after defeating the other two Kaiju. Was it really that much of a fight? The two Muto monsters definitely did some significant damage to him during the double team, but I figured that Godzilla would be able to bounce back from it. I’m glad that he waited for the Mutos to be out of the picture before fainting, but I didn’t expect that from Godzilla. I just thought that he’d head back to the ocean and call it a day. I expect him to end his next fight with a little less damage to show off Godzilla’s unlimited stamina and determination!

Overall, Godzilla is everything that I could have hoped for! Godzilla looked incredible and the monster fights were a lot of fun. The Dog scene may have helped to knock down the score along with the romance, but the film definitely succeeded in the long run. I highly recommend checking this film out as soon as possible and you won’t be disappointed. It’s not every day that you get to watch the King of the Monsters in theaters after all!

Overall 8/10