Bad Movie Studios: The Wolf Man (1941) Film Review

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The Wolf Man (1941)

A Bad Movie Studios Review

When it comes to the Universal Monsters, right up with Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster, you have the Wolf Man. He’s an iconic character and the 1941 film starring Lon Chaney Jr (real name Creighton Tull Chaney) is probably the most famous werewolf movie to date, being the one most people think of when you mention werewolves. At least civilized people, you know, not Twilight fans. Anyway, this movie was the one that made Lon Chaney Jr. a star in the genre and features a few other Universal Monster regulars like Claude Rains and even Bela Lugosi. In fact, a lot of people don’t even know that Lugosi is in the picture even though his name is on the poster. Now Lon Chaney Jr. is also famous for being many different monsters in Universal’s classic films, also appearing as the mummy Kharis three times, The Frankenstein Monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein (1948) and the Wolf Man five times in total (including the original). Interesting enough, he isn’t the only famous horror actor in his family. His father Lon Chaney Sr. was a star in the silent era playing the title characters in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). So you could say that Horror was in his blood. Lon Chaney Jr. was in a lot of ways, the horror icon of the 40’s. I can’t think of anyone who made more of an impact to the film genre at the time than him.

The opening credits to the film are interesting. They basically give a rundown of the major actors in the film, showing stills and short clips from later on in the movie. It by no means sets the tone like Dracula’s (1931) opening did. But it is short and that’s good. The basic sum-ups of the plot is that Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) returns to his family home after the death of his brother. He meets with his father Sir John Talbot (Claude Rains) whom he has an estranged relationship with. Eventually he ends up meeting the films female lead Gwen Conliffe, played here by Evelyn Ankers, and the two fall in love. Gwen owns an antique shop, and later Larry ends up saving her friend Jenny from a wolf attack with a silver headed cane that he buys from her, but he gets bit by the wolf during his heroic deed. He gets told by a Gypsy fortuneteller that what bit him as actually a werewolf, and not only that but that the werewolf that bit him was actually her son (Bela Lugosi, the character’s name is Bela too by the way). She tells him that he too will change into a werewolf. As a side note, whenever someone talks about werewolves in this movie, different keep reciting the same poem, one which explains the lore of the creature. Well, eventually Larry does become a werewolf and he begins to hunt the villagers. This goes on, with him having an incredibly hard time dealing with his problem, until his father intervenes when Larry tries to attack Gwen. Hopefully that doesn’t spoil the whole movie for you, and it shouldn’t, there’s more to it than that.

Lon Chaney comes across as a fairly blue collar every man. A stark difference to Claude Rains. He actually seems like someone with a lot of money, and does a good job with the role. Something that does big me is that Chaney doesn’t seem like he’d be Rains’ son. They come off as long lost buddies maybe, but not father and son. That doesn’t hinder the actors performances though, even Chaney’s character being an educated but simple man is done well, with some decent subtleties that actually make him seem like a “wolf” well before he gets bitten. Bela Lugosi does a good job as well, even though his role is pretty small. It shows his acting ability, being such a big change from the role that got him famous in the states, Dracula. As a side note, something that I find weird is that even though the movie takes place in Wales, there are more than a few people that don’t speak with a Welsh accent, or really any accent from the region in general. It isn’t really a big deal nor does it take away from the film as a whole, it’s just something I noticed.

The sets are great, showing how far Universal had come with their productions since Dracula. I know I keep referencing Dracula, but to me it’s pretty much THE classic Universal Monster movie. It isn’t my favorite, but it’s still the measuring stick in my opinion. In short, I’m saying that you need to get used to me talking about Dracula. Anyway, I really like the sets that take place in the dark marsh area where the Gypsys live. The lighting is cool, shadowing the different actors in pools of black, but allowing you to see their silhouette outlined against the background. Also the heavy fog is another nice touch, making it seem like a gloomy and foreboding place.

Something else I feel is worth noting, is that for the most part the movie kind of plays more towards the idea that Larry Talbot has Lycanthropy. Lycanthropy is a form of hysteria in which one believes they will turn into a werewolf essentially. Basically it plays out like a mental thriller. The whole movie, there is a lot of talk about wolves (considering the shortness of the film) and there is plenty of wolf imagery and talk about superstition. So it kind of makes it seem like Talbot is possibly going crazy over this werewolf situation after the attack on Jenny. It isn’t solidly founded, but it would have been an interesting way to have taken the movie and the film could have pulled it off if it wanted to. Of course though, that goes all out the window about 40 minutes into the movie when Lon Chaney Jr. actually turns into a werewolf. Not that it’s a bad thing, I just feel I should point out that the movie doesn’t lock itself into either idea until the third act.

There’s no way I can talk about a werewolf movie, especially the most famous one of all, without talking about the transformation scene. Well, to be honest, The Wolf Man doesn’t really have one. All we see is some hair growing on Larry’s legs and then we cut to him already transformed all the way, walking around that cool foggy scenery I talked about earlier. I’ve got to tell you though, I’m glad special effects have advanced since then. Because the cross fade effect they used here and would later use for when the Wolf Man transforms in other films, is kind of dull in my opinion. It doesn’t look like a wolf transformation, it just looks like a series of short stills taken of the actors face while they applied the make up. And guess what? That’s pretty much exactly how they did it. They applied the make up and stuff and filmed Lon Chaney Jr. in the process to create the scenes of him turning into the monster. The guy who designed the look of the creature and did the make up was Jack Pierce. He also worked on Dracula and Frankenstein (1931). Anyway, I’m a sucker for a good transformation scene that uses a lot of cool practical effects, so my cup of tea wouldn’t come until later, probably the most famous one being the scene in An American Werewolf in London (1981). that film even won an Academy Award for the effects in that scene.

Overall, The Wolf Man is a decent film, and I would consider it a must see for fans of werewolf movies. But that really only stands on it’s sheer importance to the sub-genre. As a whole, it’s understandably a classic, but I wouldn’t say it’s a must see film. And that goes for if you’re a horror fan as well. Personally, I didn’t hate this film, but I didn’t enjoy it. Thankfully it’s only just over an hour long so it doesn’t keep you there feeling bored and waiting for the end.

Rating: 70

Final thoughts – I really think that werewolf films got better as time went on. The inclusion of gore later on and the increasing ability of special effects. These movies just seem to get better the better the effects got. It seems kind of hard for a werewolf movie to be character driven and rely on atmosphere and pacing. I’m not saying it’s impossible, it just seems difficult. That being said, I think that really applies to the “traditional” werewolf movie. I think a film that was about the mental syndrome Lycanthropy would probably be best if it embarrassed those story driven qualities. Same for a film that was about, say, Wendigo Psychosis (where one believes they must eat human flesh to survive, named after the Native American myth). With the idea that werewolf movies have gotten better over time, the next film I’m gonna look at is the 2010 remake to this Universal classic, The Wolfman starring Benicio Del Torro and Anthony Hopkins.

Bad Movie Studios Video Game Reviews – Halo 3 (2007) vs Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007)

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Halo 3 vs Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (*2007)

Developed by Bungie Studios (Halo) & Infinity Ward (Call of Duty) Released for Xbox 360 (Halo) & Xbox 360, PS2, Wii & PC

A Bad Movie Studios Video Game Review…Sort of…

* Both games were released the same year

When I got my first Xbox 360 in December of 2007, there were no two games bigger at the time than Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. They were easily the biggest releases of the year and both of them made about a billion-zillion dollars and got 12 year old’s the world over to yell nonsensical obscenities to other players everywhere. Both of these games were a lot of fun and I still play them to this day. In fact I think that Call of Duty 4 is the best game of it’s series, period, and Halo 3 was the game that got me into the Halo franchise to begin with. I probably had more fun with Halo 3 than the other 2 games before it, ODST, or Halo: Reach (I didn’t play Halo 4). and no other Call of Duty game would be able to impress me as much as the original Modern Warfare. At the time, I enjoyed two really good first person shooters. But which one is better? Well, I’ve been thinking about doing a review of Cod 4, and since Halo 3 is free to download right now for Xbox Live Gold Members, I figure it’s the perfect time to give my thoughts on this debate and share them. I will review both of these games by the same 4 categories that I’ve implemented in my last few reviews, Graphics, Gameplay, Sound Design, and Story. I’ll give my opinion on how each game stacks up in those categories (giving them a numeric score) and at the end of this review I will compare both of there scores to proclaim a victor. So let me get to it.

Graphics: Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 are both very different in terms of tone and aesthetics. They both look good, even though they were released earlier in the 360’s life cycle. Halo 3 has a brighter, much more colorful pallet in the visuals. Call of Duty 4 goes for a more realistic approach, using shadows and darker colors (a lot of blue, black, brown and grey) to set a level of grittiness into itself. They really do both look good, but Halo 3 has a bit of this glossy shine and over reliance on bright lights in it’s visuals. And quite frankly, when I saw Call of Duty 4 for the first time (and for a little while after) I legitimately thought it was the best looking game I had ever seen. So Halo 3 looks good (8), but it can’t compare to how much Modern Warfare impressed me. I’m really tempted to give it a (9), but I understand that now it doesn’t deserve that category. So I’ll go with an (8.5).

Gameplay: Well, this one’s gonna be tough. Both of these games are ridiculous fun and addictive, and not only please when you play on your own, but are also noteworthy in the multiplayer experience. But I said I was here to answer which one was better and that’s exactly what I’ll do. First off, the controls. Both of these games are really easy to pick up and play and very quickly you will get a feel for them. Halo 3 has a more traditional control scheme, while I had never encountered one like Call of Duty’s before. I have to say that there are two things that make me edge with Call of Duty’s though. The first is that Halo sometimes has a tendency to feel a bit clumsy. Like you can’t quite figure out where you’re getting shot from and you become a tad disoriented (don’t get me started on the driving controls). The second, is that Modern warfare’s control scheme became the genre standard shortly after. In fact, Halo would even adopt parts of Call of Duty’s control pattern in future games. Call of Duty just feels tighter and more coherent. That doesn’t take away from the fun factor of either game though, and that’s really the most important part. Well, Halo brings in cool weapons, vehicles, lots of explosions and super soldiers. A great mixture for sure. Cod 4 gives us tight innovative controls, high action “realism”, innovative multiplayer, and a diverse and rewarding arsenal to play with. Also a great mixture. Both games also have some semblance of an RPG like feature in the multiplayer that consists of leveling up to achieve better weapons, armor, perks, power-ups etc. Well I prefer the aiming mechanic in Call of Duty 4 by far. But Halo has that nonsensically fun melee combat. Halo also has vehicles that spice things up, but it comes at the price of some shabby controls for them. Call of Duty also feels more rewarding when you earn a kill, mostly because in Halo you waste so many large groups of enemies that never really seem to be a threat that they sort of lose their significance. Call of Duty 4 doesn’t ever really have as many enemies on screen at one time, but your engagements are much more…well engaging. It’s tight corridors and short range combat a lot of the time as opposed to Halo’s formula of more open areas and a lot of explosions. Now, I also feel that each game shines in different ways on the multiplayer vs single player front. Quite frankly, when it comes to online multiplayer, Call of Duty gets the nod hands down. The action is fast paced and rather hectic, not that Halo 3’s isnt, but I have far less downtime on CoD matches than Microsoft’s flagship series. That being said, I prefer to play Halo 3 more with friends. It’s just so fun to shoot your buddies in the face and them beat them down with an assault rifle or stick them with a grenade right when they kill you so you get sweet revenge from the grave. It’s just awesome. So I guess it comes down to single player. Well I’ll talk about that more in the story department so I’ll leave the rating for that there. But when it comes to gameplay, Halo comes in JUST a little short at (8.5) to Call of Duty’s (9).

Sound Design: This is a no contest. Halo 3, hands down. Both games hand really good sound effects, and the immersion into the sounds of battle along with some decent music make it good in this department. A solid (8). But Halo 3 is just awesome. The sound effects in the game for all the guns are unique and memorable, from the shotgun, to the battle rifle, to the assault rifle to any other number of weapons in the game. Then there’s that ridiculously satisfying melee noise. Every time I hear it it puts a smile on my face. But most of all, what makes this game is the musical score. By far one of the best soundtracks in any video game ever. In fact, I actually bought the Halo 3 soundtrack on CD, just to listen to the music. I’ve never done that for any other game (with the exception of Alone in the Dark, but I didn’t choose too, it came with the copy that I got). The music is just excellent, and you get to hear it all the time. It’s just awesome. Halo 3’s sound design gets my first ever (10).

Story: This is actually a very important part of games to me, even more so than the multiplayer. The story mode is where the art part of things comes in, and in my mind where I find the entertainment that judges if I come back to the game at all. How do Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 stack up in this regard? Well I can say that above anything else, they are two sides of the same coin. One is the gritty, realistic, darker, more movie epic like tale of the military at war with a familiar menace, terrorists. The other is a colorful, sci-fi, very James Cameron-ish tale of space marines at war with another familiar menace, aliens. Really, they are only the same in the fact that they are military based, but that’s something they have in common, so why the hell not mention it. But in the battle between the two, there is a clear winner to me. Halo 3 is large. It really feels global, maybe even galactic. It revolves around you not only saving the human race, but the lives of all sentient life in existence. It’s big, it’s stylish, its cool, and it’s just not as good as Call of Duty 4. Call of Duty 4’s campaign is the best I’ve ever played through in any FPS game. Period. The story was coherent, cinematic and written very well. The pacing was amazing, and the character’s actually manage to develop and caused me to actually care about their lives. Yeah Master Chief is a badass, but so is Captain Price. Call of Duty 4 really made me feel like I was fighting a war that there was no guarantee I was going to win. And the true outcome to the whole thing and whether or not you actually DO “win” in the end is debatable. In fact, Modern Warfare completely drops the concept of “winning” in favor of more losses for the greater good vs less loses for common evils. Halo 3 didn’t give me that. Halo 3 felt like a glorified arcade shooter, sending wave after wave of more enemies, different guns and some other cool toys to hold me over until I eventually beat it. There was never any doubt in my mind that I was going to finish that game, it felt “in the bag” after the first level honestly. It gave me no real sense of conflict. On top of that, Halo tries to be SO big that it honestly just blends in with the rest of itself. Call of Duty was paced no well and had these standout great moments that were really memorable. I don’t even remember most of Halo 3. So to me, there’s absolutely no comparison, Halo 3 pulls an (8), and Call of Duty 4 knocks it out of the park with a (9.5)

Overall Scores: Halo 3 – 8.6 out of 10

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – 8.75 out of 10

Final thoughts: So there you have it, by a narrow margin, the victor is Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Really, this game is amazing and if you haven’t played it you’re missing out. In my opinion it is the absolute best first person shooter game ever made. It’s just this awesome blend, this perfect storm of a game that I’ve very seldom experienced. This however shouldn’t take away from Halo 3. It’s also a great game and easily worth your time and money. Both of them are. But I can’t help but feel that Call of Duty 4 is a bit better. Now I will readily acknowledge that both franchises have taken a bit of a down turn in the last few years, especially Call of Duty. Modern Warfare got me into the series, but I left it about 3 years later after Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010). Call me close minded but I’m someone that actually feels like the series hasn’t really changed or improved all THAT much since the 4th entry, at least not at drastically or significant as MW. And like I said, Halo hasn’t been perfect either. Halo 3” ODST was a let down, Halo: Reach felt a bit too Call of Duty inspired, and I didn’t even give Halo Wars the time of day. I’m not a fan of RTS games. But if you have an Xbox 360 (which means if you can read this, statistically you do) then you must absolutely play these two games. Both Call of Duty 4 and Halo 3 get my first ever 100% approval rating. Rent them, buy them, just play them. Believe me they’re worth it.

Bad Movie Studios Video Game Review: Ghoul’s n’ Ghosts (1988)

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Ghoul’s and Ghosts (1988)

Developed by Capcom Platforms: Arcade, Commodore 64, Sega Saturn, Playstation, Playstation 2, Sega Master System, Mega Drive/Genesis, Virtual Console & Others

A Bad Movie Studios Video Game Reviews

You may have heard of the 1985 side-scroller for the NES called Ghost’s and Goblins. You also may have heard of how brutal that game is in terms of difficulty. Well this game is the sequel to that one. Again, like when I reviewed Super Mario Bros. 3, I’m not playing this on the console that it was originally released onto (The Sega Genesis/Mega Drive), but instead on the Wii’s Virtual Console. So let me get right into the game review itself. The short version, THIS GAME IS A MAD ANGRY DEVIL OF EVIL INTENT! Alright, no let me explain that.

Graphics: Well, this game actually looks pretty good. The graphics are only in 480p, you know, because the Wii wasn’t in HD for some god awful reason I’m sure. But I’m not a graphics junky and either way this game looks good. It’s colorful and the sprites are well animated. It’s visually pleasing…then it gouges out your eyes and urinates into your skull with it’s viciousness. Gut before that happens it looks really pretty. Like a tiger. A vicious, angry, elegant, beautiful tiger. (8)

Gameplay: If you haven’t figured out by now, THIS GAME IS HARD. Like real hard. Like I can’t even beat the first level hard. That’s how hard it is. Honestly I can’t remember the last time I had so much difficulty playing the first level of a game. The enemy placement is challenging but not obscene. The controls are smooth (on a wiimote at least) and the the game feels well. The jump is a little leapy, and some of the weapons absolutely suck, but overall it actually “drives” well so to speak. But Jesus man this game kicked my ass. It’s a good, solid, hack and slash side-scrolling platformer. But I’ve died like 50 times! ON THE FIRST DAMN LEVEL! You don’t even have one hit deaths either, in fact you get 3 hits until your demise, the third one being the one that kills you. And you get 3 lives before you reach a game over. So that means, on the first level, you have 9 hits available to you before you get game over. I played the stage 50 times. 9 x 50 = 450. 450 hits. 450 times that some goddamn monster, or a tornado, or giant pink bird, or fire flower or some other damn thing had hit me on the (one more time just for fun) FIRST LEVEL. But it’s still fun, and I might have died 50 times, but the fact that I actually decided to keep playing after 50 deaths says something to me. This game’s addictive, no doubt about it. (8)

Sound Design: I really can’t comment on the music in this game. There really wasn’t anything that I remembered from it, but I don’t recall it being bad. The sound effects though were cool. Again, not miraculous or anything, but some solid stuff that was comforting to hear during the action. (6.5)

Story: Extremely basic standard fare. Hero must save girlfriend from evil. That’s pretty much it. So much for originality in game design. (5)

Overall Score – 6.8 out of 10

Final Thoughts: This isn’t really a BAD game I suppose, but it’s simply aggravating. Yet even with all hat aggravation I still think that if you can get your hands on it you should play it. I didn’t pay anything for it over the Virtual Console, but if you want the cartridge you’re looking to pay around $20, and in my opinion it’s just not worth that much. So I guess give it a try if you can find it for cheap or get it for free like me.

Bad Movie Studios Video Game Review: Super Mario Bros 3 (1988)

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Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988)

Developed by Nintendo Released for NES

A Bad Movie Studios Game Review

Right off the bat, I should say that this game was released in 1988 in Japan, but didn’t make it’s way to the states until 1990, and 1991 in Europe. As the name implies, this is obviously the third game in the Super Mario Bros series (not counting the Lost Levels). Some things that I feel are important to mention are that I haven’t played all of the Super Mario games, and that I’m not playing this on an NES console. Instead I’m “enjoying” this game on the Wii thanks to the Wii virtual console. I got it as a free download so I couldn’t pass it up. Although I haven’t played ALL of the Super Mario games, I have at least played one from each generation (and sometimes more than one), so I feel like I’ve had a decent grasp on the differences and the advancement in the series as they’ve gown on. With that said, let me get to the review.

Graphics: This game looks, okay. I know you can;t really expect something amazing from an 8-bit console, but I think the original Super Mario Bro’s, and even Mario Bros before that looked better than this game. It’s not that this game looks bad, not at all. For the NES this is actually a good looking game. It’s just that I really don’t like the aesthetics. The color pallet doesn’t please me, there’s a sort of dullness to what’s on screen. So really the graphics are hit and miss, it kind of depends on your own personal preference. (6.5)

Gameplay: Easily the most debatable element to this game. I am by no means a self admitted game expert, nor do I think that I’m really an AMAZING one at that. I do think that I’m above average in skill however, and I can safely say that this game, has ROYALLY KICKED MY ASS. This is one of the most difficult platformers that I have ever played, and not because the controls suck or anything. Honestly the game feels pretty good in your hands, even using the Wiimote (is that how you spell it?) as a surrogate NES controller. But the level design is just brutal sometimes. This game will absolutely beat you down on some levels, while others will be a breeze. Okay, it’s not really THAT hard, but seriously, there are some real tough, challenging levels. The good part is that this game is addictive. The bad part is that you end up getting addicted to getting your ass handed to you. So it, again, is another hit and miss experience. (7.5)

Sound Design: This game has some cool classic 8-bit sound effects, but what really stands out is the music. It’s good, damn good. It isn’t really out of the ordinary for a Mario game, but that’s not really a bad thing since the music is one of the things that Mario games are known for. I know this is a short section, but there really isn’t much more to say about this game from a sound perspective. It’s good. No complaints. (9)

Story: Same old thing that we’ve seen a billion-sillion-trillion-quadibllion times before. Bowser steals Peach, Mario saves her, got it. There is absolutely nothing new here and no real explanation more than that. Not that there really needs to be, but really Nintendo? Please? Something different for once would be wonderful. And with that personal pet peeve in mind, (5).

Overall Score – 7 out of 10

Final Thoughts: This is by far not the best Mario game there is, but I guess there will always be Mario Teaches Typing to fill in the space of the worst. I do like this game, but I have to say that Mario isn’t exactly my total cup of tea. I think the first in the “Super” series is really good, maybe the best. And that game shares space with Super Mario 64. I know those are the cliches that everyone puts on their list of best Mario games, but let’s face it, there’s a reason for that. Because they’re the best. Period. Well…to me. So I suppose if you have a Wii and can get this game for free like I did, check it out. If you actually have a Nintendo or a console that plays NES cartridges, you could pick it up for a few bucks on ebay. S I guess give this a play if you’re a Nintendo fan. If it’s not something you’ve prioritized to add to your library, then you can pass on it without missing anything really. Because chances are that you’ve already played the superior Super Mario Bros.

Bad Movie Studios Video Game Review – Batman: Arkham City (2011)

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Batman: Arkham City (2011)

Developed by Rocksteady Released for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii U, OS X and Windows.

A Bad Movie Studios Video Game Review

With the third entry in this franchise, Batman: Arkham Origins, on the way very shortly (maybe even released by now I’m not sure) I decided that I would do a review on it’s predecessor, Batman: Arkham City. Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum. This series is notable for giving us the Batman games we’ve always wanted. It’s got fun gameplay, a good story, and plenty of the animated series thrown into it, making for a really cool experience. So let me just break it down to a few finer points.

Graphics: The first thing anyone notices about any video game, are the graphics. And if someone tells you different, well that’s just a great big load of hipster bullshit. Frankly, this game looks good. It’s dark and stylish, sort of a gritty noir tone to the whole thing. There aren’t too many graphical glitches to be found in the game either, at least I didn’t really find too many. Something really cool about the game is that when wearing Batman’s animated Series costume (you have multiple unlockable skins for a few characters) it takes on this cell shaded look that seriously seems like the Caped Crusader jumped right out of the show. It’s really cool. Robin and Catwoman are also playable characters in the game and they too have Animated skins that look equally as awesome. Really you just can’t complain about how this game looks, it doesn’t push the limits of the hardware by any means, but the visuals are just pretty damn appealing. (8.5)

Gameplay: Well, you really couldn’t ask for a better motif for a Batman game. A stealth-action free roam sand-box game complete with a fun main story, entertaining side quests, plenty of bonus missions and about a billion hidden trophies and Easter eggs. The controls feel pretty good and responsive with the exception of the occasional slight tough of clumsiness. It feels a bit better than Assassin’s Creed does to me, but it’s not 100% perfect. Then again, 95% perfect isn’t bad either. The gameplay isn’t overly complicated and honestly is a lot of the same thing done over and over again, but it’s largely the right same thing. There are some puzzles in the game that can tease your brain but for the most part aren’t that difficult to figure out, and the combat can at times seem a bit unfair or challenging without proper means, but it’s still satisfying. Batman: Arkham City makes you feel like a total badass, but deservedly so. One armed thug with a gun does indeed have the potential to kill you, so a room of five of them has to be approached properly in order to proceed onto the next objective. It’s interesting that the game doesn’t make you invincible. After all, you aren’t Superman. But I will say that after you’ve faced those five armed criminals 3 or 4 times, you’ll pretty much have the pattern down as to how to beat them and the challenge will be gone for the most part. I noticed that after beating the game, unlocking all of the gadgets and upgrading the bat suit and combat maneuvers (an awesome addition by the way, I love the RPG like elements here) combat became pretty easy. Where as before a few guys with guns could bring you down in a few seconds if they all on a bead on you, now you can pretty much take 50 bullets to the chest and still manage to beat them all into a coma. That’s probably the weakest area of the gameplay here. There isn’t really a well thought out learning curve to the difficulty. You just tend to engage different groups of enemies made up of guys you have to beat in different ways. The freeflow combat engine is great for taking on big groups of bag guys and the quick time reversal mechanic works well and responds accordingly. The problem is though it just makes things a bit too easy. Now I should mention that you can play the game over again in Game+ mode, which basically changes up the damage ratio and gets rid of hints and button prompts to make the game more difficult, but since this isn’t something that the game does on it’s own but rather an option the player must choose to do, I can’t really say that it counts towards increasing this games learning curve. At the end of the day though, the combat in this game is still fun no matter what. The stealth gamepley works pretty well too, but it’s surprisingly not nearly as deep as you’d think. You can use the grappling hook to get around your environment, hang from overhead structures, use corner cover, you know the basics. It all works but Batman in this game is no Sam Fisher. And you know that seems like an odd statement to make, but it’s true. I think adding a few more options to the stealth mechanic would help fine tune the experience a bit more. Like I said before though, after all the nitpicking, the game is still fun to pick up and play long past the completion of the main story. (8.5)

Sound Design: To go along with the fun game play, Arkham City offers up a pretty good musical score to help immerse you into the life of the Dark Knight. Unfortunately, we don’t always get this great music and instead are treated to the sounds of action. This isn’t terrible I guess, but I would have liked to hear that music more often. After completing the game, you really don’t hear it too much as it doesn’t play in the free roam section really. The sound effects are all good, there’s not much to say about them except that they function quite well. What really stand out in the sound department in this game is the voice acting. Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker both continue the fantastic work that they brought to the Animated Series, the Justice League, and now this series. Really they’re a treat to listen too. And everyone does a good job really. Robin sounds cool, Selina Kyle comes across with the perfect attitude, and a host of the villains are portrayed very well. Even the average thugs are done well, although there are only about 4 voices for the lot of them and you’ll hear the same lines repeated over and over again. It’s okay thought because you won’t have to hear those lines after you’ve pounded them into next week. The excellent V.O. Work really wants to make me score the sound design higher, but that nagging lack of music in some parts of the game bugged me enough to knock it down a few points. (8)

Story: I really don’t want to give anything away about the plot to this game, but I will say that A. you really don’t have to play the first one to enjoy this one, and B. it’s really fun with ample fan service. Of course it isn’t Academy Award worthy, but honestly it’s far more entertaining that the Christopher Nolin Batman movies. Not that they were bad this is just that cool. I had some gripes about a few particulars in this games storyline, but that didn’t take away from the fact that I enjoyed playing through the missions and advancing the Batman saga. (8)

Misc: I guess the only things that bothered me about this game really were all essentially fan things. For example, you get to play as both Catwoman and Robin in this game, each complete with their own side story missions. That’s awesome. But after you beat Robin;s you can’t replay those levels like Catwoman’s or even the Main Story, and that felt unfair. Also, you aren’t allowed to use him in free roam mode like you are Catwoman, and it just seems like being able to do that would have been common sense. You let me use him for his own missions, but if I wanna play as him again I have to do the challenge maps? I can’t just go around Arkham City as the boy wonder, beating up villains for making fun of the green short shorts? In all seriousness though, that would have been a smart idea. Also, this game screams for some sort of multiplayer component, allowing one of you to play as, say, Batman, and the other as, oh I don’t know, Robin? Being able to free roam around the game AS the Dynamic Duo themselves would have been awesome.

Quite frankly you’re getting a lot for your buck here, and since the Game of the Year Addition is only like $20, it’s really hard not to recommend this game. With all of the bonus content, side missions, and unlockables, you’ll spend a lot of time enjoying this game. And it’s definitely worth enjoying. I easily recommend Batman: Arkham City to anyone who hasn’t played it yet. If that’s the case, seriously, add it to your library asap. You won’t be disappointed.

Overall Score – 8.25 out of 10.

Final Thoughts: This is one of those games that comes along and really gets you ready for a sequel. Today’s game market is basically run on sequels at this point, and that’s a shame to me honestly. But sometimes a game really does deserve one and this is one of those games. Hell, the first in the series deserved a good sequel, and it got one. This game is a definite improvement over the last one. Hopefully developer Rocksteady will shine again with another great installments to the series with Batman: Arkham Origins. I’m really looking forward to it.

Bad Movie Studios’ HAlloween-A-Thon Part 4 Finale – Halloween 2 (2009) Film Review

Halloween II (2009)
Bad Movie Studios Halloween-A-Thon Finale

Halloween 2 09'

It’s taken me a lot longer to get out this review than I had anticipated. I’ve been busy with the production of my short film “The Unexpected Evil of Dr. Baracula”, so doing a review has been on the table, just far from my plate. Well now I have the time to do one and with it we’re gonna wrap up Halloween-A-Thon. This time around I’m gonna look at Halloween 2. But not the original Halloween 2 from 1981 directed by John Carpenter, oh no, this is the sequel to Rob Zombies remake of Halloween (2007). Now I know this must seem like an odd choice of film from the Halloween franchise, but if you read my other reviews it’ll make sense. See I recently wrote a column on movie sequels, and another on movie remakes. I reviewed the original Halloween (1978) in my second only post to my page, and so that one couldn’t make it on the list. When picking the films I was gonna do for Halloween-A-Thon, I decided to work with the idea of sequels and remakes. As I mentioned in my columns, endless sequels have a habit of ruining a franchise, and remakes can be very polarizing subjects. With that in mind I took on Halloween 6: The curse of Michael Myers (an aforementioned poor sequel), then Halloween H20 (both a reboot and sequel to the franchise), it’s direct sequel Halloween Resurrection (2002), and what better way to incorporate the sequel/remake idea than to review the sequel to the remake. And that leads us to Halloween 2. I’ll give a quick word on Halloween (2007) before I get into the review. It was a far different film than the original, and had many different plot elements. We get a real look at Michael Myers childhood and learn that he was abused as a kid by his father. It gives more information that we ever got in the original, and I kind of like that idea but at the same time think that it gives the “monster” just a bit too much humanity. Something else different in Rob Zombies adaptation was the music. As a musician, you would expect to hear something interesting on the soundtrack for the film, and I guess that’s what you got. The Halloween theme in my opinion was used too much and in improper circumstances, as well as there being some really odd choices for musical ques (Love Hurts?). Overall thought it was a decent film, not breaking any new ground, but I guess it didn’t completely beat the proverbial dead horse too much. So now lets take a look at Halloween II, a film that got the Batman Returns treatment, in that after the success of the first one the director was given creative control. We’ll debate on if that was a good thing when it’s all said and done.

The  plot of this movie picks up around 25 minutes in the film. You see, the opening sequence drags on making you think that it’s the movie, but it turns out to be something else entirely. Spoiler alert, it’s a dream sequence. I don’t want to spend too much time talking about it because it is only a dream, but you can assume that some of what happens actually did happen and even though it’s spoiled by the reveal at the end, it’s actually a decent part of the film. It has a lot of “seen this before” slasher cliches in it, but It’s still pretty good. Good gore effects and a touch of humor make it not boring. Well anyway, the gist of this film is that two years after the events of the last movie, Laurie (played by Scout Taylor-Compton) is struggling to cope with the residual effects of Halloween night. She lives with her friend Annie, who’s played by Danielle Harris. Danielle Harris was the main protagonist Jamie Lloyd, daughter of Lauri Strode, in Halloween’s 4 and 5. It’s cool to see her back in the series again. Her father is the sheriff of Haddonfield, and is played by Brad Douriff. Douriff is most well known as the voice of Chucky the killer doll and Grima Wormtongue in the Lord of the Rings. Personally I think he does a good job with the role. We also get to see Dr. Loomis as he’s become a celebrity, who’s in the midst of releasing a book about Michael Myers’ rampage from before. Here he is portrayed by Malcom McDowell, an actor who I like and is admittedly a good choice, but he doesn’t come close to Donald Pleasence to me. Loomis has become what seems like a real sell out and total asshole. Malcom McDowell does do a good job with the role though, and you really do find a dislike for the guy.

Back to the plot. Michael’s body hasn’t been found (how many times have we seen THAT before?) and Laurie keeps having recurring nightmares about the events that transpired. She’s changed a lot as a person, from your average American teenager, to a sort of punk chick. She’s been taking drugs and going to therapy to try and help herself get over whats happened. Not too far later, we see Michael Myers is alive and having visions of his mother that are part of a “White Horse” theme that I’ll talk about more later. He travels back to Haddonfield in search of Laurie. Again, how many times have we seen THAT before too? Anyway, Laurie starts having hallucinations that are nearly identical to the ones Michael experienced as a kid. Not only that, but she also lead her to start acting out some of Michael’s murders and envisioning herself doing them. Michael keeps slowly killing his way towards Haddonfield, and Lommis’ book is released. It’s through here that Laurie discovers that she’s actually Michael Myers’ long lost sister, real name Angel Myers. She’s been acting crazy and having a lot of issues before this but learning this is what sends her over the edge. So she decides to go to a party with a few of her friends to deal with her stress as Loomis goes on to a talk show and gets criticized for exploiting the deaths of those Michael killed.

Of course, nothing can go right for Laurie, and Michael shows up at the party and kills one one of her friends. Oddly enough though, Laurie doesn’t even find out  and leaves the party drunk with her other friend. The sheriff sent over an officer to watch the house while Annie was there alone. Well, guess what, Michael ends up there too and kills the poor guy. He then goes after Annie and although we don’t see what happens, it’s pretty clear he kills her. Laurie shows up back to the house with her other friend (they’re minor characters so their names aren’t important). And they find Annie’s body. Honestly, it’s not really clear what Michael did to her. When we see her she’s naked on the floor and the walls are more or less painted with her blood. Laurie’s friend is killed too but she does manage to get a call out t the police who intern notify the sheriff. Then we’re underway with another chase scene (there’s one in the opening sequence). Standard fair nothing special. I will say that when the sheriff comes to the house and discovers his daughter is dead, the scene is done really well and actually manages to put some emotion into the movie. It’s a cool sequence.

Well, Michael doesn’t end up getting Laurie, but he doesn’t kill her. Instead he actually kidnaps her. He takes her to some shack that he’s been living in and she hallucinates some more about her mother, and the mother forced her to admit that Laurie loves her. Frankly this sequence is just weird. The police show up, as well as Dr. Loomis. Loomis manages his way into the shack and tries to reason with Michael, while Laurie continues to hallucinate. Then Michael stabs Loomis, uttering the only words he’s ever spoken in his adult life that we’ve ever seen. And it is the most bland thing possible. All he says, is “Die!”. Then the police gun him down, turning Myers into 7th of Swiss cheese. Then Lauri takes Michaels knife, and appears as if she’s going to stab Loomis some more, and the officers shoot her too. Finally, we see Laurie in some sort of insane asylum, and she see’s her mother and the White Horse again. To play us out, we get Love Hurts again.

Let me point out that this isn’t the only ending to the movie. There’s another ending to the movie that was played in theaters that has Lauri stabbing Michael or something. I can’t tell you what’s in it because I haven’t seen it so I can’t really comment. I watched the unrated DVD so maybe that’s why there was a difference.

So now that I’ve covered the story for the most part, let me talk about some of the particulars. The character’s are well acted for the most part. Malcom McDowell does a really good job as the asshole Dr. Loomis. And Brad Douriff is a stand out in my opinion doing a very believable job as the sheriff. Really I can’t complain too much about anybody. Some of the characters are just abstract and strange but that’s really just Rob Zombies style. So no surprise. The only one that I don’t like is Laurie actually. We’re supposed to see the drastic change in character that she goes through from the first movie, and I suppose this film does that, but really she just comes off as a total bitch. She’s almost always arguing with someone who never did anything to deserve it and although she DID go through an incredibly traumatic experience, I still find it hard to side with her. Scout Taylor-Compton does take the role in a completely different direction than did Jamie Lee Curtis, but I have to say that I prefer Jamie Lee by far. She was much easier to relate too and didn’t make me plug my ears every time she opened her mouth.

The tone of the film is a bit different than others in the series. It’s weird. Really weird. You watch it not really sure how you should feel about the situations at hand. This is because the movie jumps around from horror, to comedy to…weird psychedelic exploitation? Yeah those hallucination bits are kind of hard to place. But in general the movie flops between gritty violence and ridiculous humor. There isn’t really a proper balance. Somehow though, it works. Whatever garbled mess of strange, violent, over the top humorous sort of mush that this film gives you, at the end of the day it is entertaining.

Something else that I want to mention about in this movie was the practical effects. With the kills, there’s no CGI enhancements to the blood and gore. It’s all good old Karo Syrup and food coloring and that’s the way I like it.

Overall this movie is a decent entry into the series. It’s not the best, has none of the atmosphere or mood of the original, but it isn’t nearly the same incoherent mess as Halloween 6 was. I’d actually say that it’s worth a watch, just know ahead of time that you’re in for some weird stuff.

Rating – 77

Final Thoughts: Well there you have it, the conclusion to Halloween-A-Thon. I hope you enjoyed the reviews, I enjoyed doing them for the most part. I know this one won’t be as good as I’d hope but I wasn’t able to focus as much time to it as I would have liked. Filming has been a chore. But I did have a good time and I look forward to moving on to other projects and reviews. So stick around because next is going to be a 2 part of The Wolf Man (1941) and it’s remake, the Wolfman (2010).