Poll Results: Best Marvel Live Action Film

the-avengers-wallpaper

THE RESULTS:
– The Avengers: 16 votes
– Spider-Man 2: 8 votes
– Iron Man: 8 votes
– The Amazing Spider-Man: 5 votes
– X-Men: First Class: 5 votes
– Spider-Man: 4 votes
– X2: 2 votes
– Thor: 2 votes
– Blade: 1 vote
– Captain America: 1 vote
– Iron Man 2: 1 vote
– X-Men: 1 vote
– The Punisher: 1 vote
– The Incredible Hulk: 1 vote
– The Wolverine: 1 vote
– Thor: The Dark World: 1 vote

The write-ins:
– The Rocketeer: 1 vote

No major surprises here. The Avengers was a huge success last year, with both audiences and critics loving it, and it had to be the odds-on favorite for this poll. Interesting to see so many other films get some votes as well, but no love for Howard the Duck?!?

Also, this is going to be the last poll for a while. Updates may be a bit more sporadic over here for the coming days, mostly due to the holidays and a change in my work schedule. Right now I still plan on finishing the 50 Movies Project by the end of the year, but reviews of new films and video games may have to wait. I’ll still be around — I just won’t be able to do near-daily posts anymore.

Video Game Review: Marvel Pinball [PS3, 2010]

Marvel Pinball [PS3, 2010]

Marvel Pinball
System: Playstation 3 (Xbox 360, iOS, Android, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, PC)
Genre: Pinball
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Zen Studios
Release Date: December 14, 2010

Last month’s free game for Playstation Plus users was Marvel Pinball, an attempt to capture the Marvel comic book world into video game pinball form. The main package comes with four unique tables, and includes the option to purchase more if desired.

The tables are based on four of the most popular Marvel characters: Wolverine, Spiderman, Iron Man and Blade. Each character’s table has its own quirks and features, as well as its own theme to separate it from the rest. Every hero appears in their table, and enemies pop up to wreak havoc as well. Between the villains talking trash and changing the table’s dynamics to the pinball flying wildly to well-concealed areas of the board, there is a lot going on at any given time.

In fact, this can be too much of a burden on occasion. As the characters wander about and tweak the elements, it can sometimes be difficult to see where the ball is actually going. The tables look cool as hell, and I like the fact that they are so well-designed, but a greater emphasis should have been placed on making sure everything was clear.

Marvel Pinball [PS3, 2010]

That’s not to say that the game plays out poorly. The table physics are outstanding, and it feels like a real pinball game would. Hell, there is even an option where you can tilt the PS3 controller to shake the table in the game! The amount of detail that Zen Studios put into this game is remarkable.

Even though it can be hard to keep track of the ball from time to time, Marvel Pinball can get pretty addicting. I wasn’t expecting much from this title, but there were times where I found myself playing for hours just to see if I could beat the scores of my friends. The leaderboards are great in this regard, and there are options to play head-to-head and online if you would rather go that route.

Naturally, fans of the Marvel universe and/or pinball games will get the most out of this, but it won’t be hard for casual gamers to get hooked as well. Marvel Pinball is a solid little timewaster, and a good appetizer in between major games.

7.5/10

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class [2011]

X-Men: First Class [2011]

X-Men: First Class [2011]
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama
Language: English
Country: USA

I feel obligated to admit right away that I am not much of an X-Men fan. I know very little about the series and its characters, and I have only seen the original 2000 film. It’s not that I am opposed to the series in any way, it’s just that I could never be bothered to dig into it. Until now.

X-Men: First Class is a prequel to the original movies, and it focuses on the origins of the groups led by Professor X and Magneto. This concept intrigued me quite a bit simply because it would tell me, a non-fan, how exactly everything came to be.

X-Men: First Class [2011]

The movie takes place predominantly in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. A young mind-reading Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) meets a fellow mutant, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), who shows him that he is not alone in the world. Their paths intersect with Erik Lensherr (aka Magneto, played by Michael Fassbender) who is on a revenge mission to kill the Nazi bastard (Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw) who murdered his mother. The two future leaders team up and recruit a bunch of other mutants including Dr. Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), Angel Salvadore (Zoë Kravitz) and Sean Cassidy (Caleb Landry Jones) to take out Shaw and his small band of accomplices, the most noteworthy being Emma Frost (a terrible January Jones), who are now attempting to start World War III.

While the majority of the characters get their fair share of screen time, the bulk of the action is placed on Professor X and Magneto. McAvoy and Fassbender are more than up to the task for their roles, as they both deliver strong performances with impeccable chemistry together. The acting is generally pretty good all around, except for the aforementioned January Jones, whose only duty is seemingly to show off the movie’s required amount of cleavage. Jennifer Lawrence in particular is quite good as Raven, and she is certainly building momentum after last year’s brilliant performance in Winter’s Bone. I also enjoyed Rose Byrne’s role as a CIA agent who is working with the mutants.

X-Men: First Class [2011]

X-Men: First Class doesn’t have any major “holy shit” moments and relies more on dialogue than action, but it still moves at a brisk pace even considering its 132 minute run-time. I found the back story to be quite fascinating, and this movie has inspired me to continue delving into the series — something the 2000 film couldn’t even do. While I feel more could have been done with the film’s 1960s setting, it still made good use of the ongoing Cold War and offered an interesting fantasy alternative as to what really happened. As far as summer blockbusters go, this is one of the better ones to come out this year.

8/10

Video Game Review: Unbound Saga [Xbox 360, 2010]

Unbound Saga [Xbox 360, 2010]

Unbound Saga
System: Xbox 360 [Xbox Live Arcade]
Publisher: Vogster Entertainment, LLC
Developer: Vogster
Release Date: December 1, 2010

Originally a downloadable PSP title, Unbound Saga was ported over to Xbox Live a year later with a few differences (most notably the addition of a co-op mode). The game is a simple, mindless side-scrolling beat ’em up that draws heavily from the classic 1995 Sega Genesis title, Comix Zone. You play as either Rick Ajax, a juiced-up musclehead, or Lori Machete, a mysterious woman, both of whom are aware that they are in a comic book (kind of like the great Duck Amuck cartoon). Your job is to brawl your way through ten stages in order to meet “The Maker” – the guy who is drawing the enemies on screen.

Unbound Saga bares more than a passing resemblance to the aforementioned Comix Zone. In fact, this almost feels like a full-on tribute. There are obstacles that need to be kicked and punched in order to move to the next panel (thankfully this doesn’t hurt your character this time), and there’s even a rat running around during loading screens. The game also has a lackadaisical sense of humor throughout, which is refreshing. This humor is most prevalent in the handful of enemies thrown at you, whether they are homeless people who think you stole someone’s liver or bears wearing aprons. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the game is genuinely funny, but its lighter tone is appreciated.

Unbound Saga [Xbox 360, 2010]

Although the basic gameplay is the same as most beat ’em up titles, Unbound Saga has a certain amount of depth that helps it stand out. Strong in-game performances will earn you skill points which in turn can be used to learn new combos and improve the overall attributes for both characters. This sort of leveling up system is a nice addition, and it adds to the replay value since it encourages multiple playthroughs.

Unfortunately, while the overall gameplay style is tried and true, there are some problems. For one, the controls are often sluggish. Rick, in particular, is difficult to move around, and he sometimes struggles to make contact with what is seemingly right in front of him. There were also times when I would have the analog stick pointed in one direction while spamming the attack buttons, yet Rick would remain facing the opposite way. This type of issue allows the enemies (and there are lots of ’em later on) to get in some cheap shots, and this gets very frustrating. The controls could have really been fine-tuned some more.

Repetition is also an issue, although that is somewhat expected with the genre. The game is pretty much the same from beginning to end, with little in the way of surprises. A bit disappointing, but not out of the ordinary.

Unbound Saga [Xbox 360, 2010]

In essence, Unbound Saga is what it is. This is a mindless brawler with a fun comic book setting that borrows heavily from an even better game, Comix Zone. Some control and repetition issues keep the game from realizing its potential, but it is still worth playing through on a lazy afternoon. If you are a fan of the genre and see the game on sale, it is worth a look. It is difficult to recommend it at its current price (800 MSP), however.

6/10