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[Movie Review] The Thing prequel… remake… whatever this is October 16, 2011

Posted by Colin in Humor, Opinion, Review.
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Here it is: the thing we’ve all been waiting for. They’re finally getting the band back together. That’s right, it’s… The Thing we’ve all… The Prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing!

Coming next year: The Squeakuel

Now, I thought it was a little odd when they announced that not only would they be telling the story of the Norwegian outpost that dug up the alien specimen, but they would be hiring back the entire cast of the first movie.

You see, through the miracle of digital reverse aging (ala Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy) the original actors from John Carpenter’s The Thing have reprised their roles as grizzled Antarctic scientists engaged in a deadly ‘whodunit’ with an alien-murder-beast.

Suddenly, 'The Thing' isn't so cool anymore...

“But Colin,” you say, “they can’t bring back the WHOLE cast. Isn’t Wilford Brimley dead? And also, weren’t you supposed to do something with Sid Meier’s Civ World like two months ag-” “WE DON’T TALK ABOUT THAT,” I scream, eyes wild and mouth frothy, quickly changing the subject back to dead celebrities.

Pictured: crack cocaine for civilization fans

While no, Wilford Brimley may not be technically dead, but for the purposes of this review, let’s pretend he is (besides, when has Hollywood ever let a little thing like an actor’s death stop them from making a movie?) For this production, Brimley’s character has been re-imagined as a kind-of-cute twenty-something scientist modeled after Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

The designers on this project clearly cared for her the most: she has, by far, the most expressive face of the motley crew, showing a diverse range of emotion from ‘mild fright’ to ‘terror,’ and all the confusing feelings between.

However, her uncannily human features only serve as a reminder that this film’s special effects budget was slashed mid-production, forcing the designers and editors to frantically  cut anything they could. Their answer, as you can already guess, was to give each character increasingly grandiose beards. Yes, I know, eyebrows and eyes can be the most expressive parts of the human body, but covering for your lack of lip-syncing with man-fur is an animation trick students use to finish projects in a crunch. Most of the time these digitized Norwegians don’t even open their mouths when they speak.

Actually, keep your mouth closed. I'm sure it smells like pancakes and Zach Galifianakis.

The film opens as a Norwegian researcher goes to recruit the Wilford Brimley stand-in (honestly, I can’t remember her name so we’ll just call her Wilma Brimley) to come to an Antarctic research base and help get the alien specimen out of the ice. Thirty seconds later, Wilma and her awkward-yet-undeveloped-love-interest are on their way, escorted by a helicopter pilot and his black friend, who we’ll name Kurt Russell Jr. and Keith David II.

Wait, which movie came first?

Pretty soon all hell soon breaks loose. People die, The Thing replicates, and parts of the base catch fire. Wilma quickly discovers the alien can’t recreate inorganic material (fillings, etc.) which recreates the blood-test scene from Carpenter’s film, but minus the tension and dramatic payoff. But Five minutes later, this fact is neatly forgotten in favor of a pop-out-and-yell-BOO type scare. Yes, this movie uses the same scare-tactics as Scary Maze.

There is never any dramatic tension. It might be because I knew everyone on the base was just a computerized semi-human, or because the monster itself is also completely digital so it looks less like a creepy insect-puppet and more like the boss monsters in Resident Evil 4, but I just didn’t get a sense that these people were in danger.

Or rather, I knew they were in danger, but I didn’t care – that is the biggest flaw with this movie and it isn’t one that anyone could avoid. This movie is trapped in the series canon. It’s a prequel to a remakebased on a short story, and even though it’s four degrees away from the source material, it is stuck a circle of continuity that doesn’t let the filmmakers expand their universe in any significant way.  If you watched John Carpenter’s The Thing, you already know how this story ends: everyone dies. Everyone. There is no ambiguous ending; the monster wins this round. It’s just a matter of piecing together who died in what way.

And speaking of John Carpenter, a number of scenes from that movie are recreated shot-for-shot in this one. It’s a nice homage, but it fails to recreate the sense of isolation and danger that Carpenter’s film had. Couple this with the utter failure of the computerized actors to distinguish themselves with anything resembling personality, and you have a movie that’s literally forgettable. When it was over, I walked out of the theater and couldn’t remember a single character’s name, or even how many people died on the base. And what happened to Wilma Brimley? She just kind of disappears towards the end. Is that supposed to be ambiguous?

As far as I can tell, this movie is about a group of computerized Norwegian Troll-Hunters who dig up the parasites from Resident Evil and receive a visit from a digitally-remastered and gender-swapped Wilford Brimley and… actually, yes, I would see that movie, even if it sounds like obscene fan-fiction.

Pictured: everything I know about Norway

Even taking into account the potential geek-sci-fi appeal, I can’t get over how indistinguishable the characters are in this movie. It’s like the writers put the traits of the original cast up on a wall and threw darts at it to develop their personalities, but all they could hit was the word “Beard.”

It just goes to show that a computer still can’t display true emotion the way humans can. Or maybe they weren’t computers. Maybe they were some creature trying to trick us into believing it’s human, studying its prey, waiting for the perfect moment to… wait a second.


The CivWorld Experiment: A Preface July 29, 2011

Posted by Colin in Humor, Opinion, Personal.
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Starting on Monday we’re going to engage in a little experiment here in the Pixelation Room. If you’re not aware, Kotaku’s Civilized Game Club will be looking at Sid Meier’s CivWorld – the persistent, free-to-play (yes, that again) Facebook iteration of Sid Meier’s Civilization. I’ll be participating in the discussion about this game and posting a review here on Pixelation Room. That being said, I want to lay out some points I’ll be exploring as this experiment goes on. First and foremost,  gamers can’t really ignore mobile and browser games anymore. Zynga, the company behind Farmville and other games your mom plays on Facebook, has the potential to make over a billion dollars in the next year: Face it, mobile games are a real thing. They’re addicting time sinks that expertly play on the psychological reward system built into the brains of human beings, and they’re one of the big reasons people use facebook. As late as last year, sixty percent of Facebook’s traffic came from people playing online games. Mark Zuckerberg should probably thank Zynga for all the traffic, but his future looks grim right now:

Read more at The Oatmeal

Lastly, I want to address this game not just as a social game but as part of the Civilization pantheon. I’ve been a huge geek for the Civ series ever since my house was gifted with a computer fast enough to run Civ III, and I can already see some similarities in mechanics between Civ V and this Facebook-based social game. It’s going to be an interesting experience, and I hope we learn something.

Starcraft 2 has a Metroid in it. July 29, 2010

Posted by eboku in Humor.
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I just saw this on Kotaku and it brightened my morning, just needed to share.

This Year’s Duke Nukem Forever Update: It’s STILL Not Done June 12, 2010

Posted by Giovanni in Humor, News.
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Okay, this isn’t really news at this point. It’s just kind of a gaming folk legend. But seeing any headline that has the words ‘Duke Nukem Forever’ in it still never fails to excite me. Will it be a release date? Or a cancellation perhaps?? Is it going to be some sort of movement at all? But alas, it never is. Instead, it’s usually just 3D Realms or Take Two Interactive claiming that it’s still being made. But I have to say, last year’s announcement gave me some sort of hope. Remember that teaser trailer? Man, it almost seemed like it coming out sometime!

Well don’t worry everyone; it’s not. Duke Nukem Forever still remains gaming’s biggest joke. This year’s update on it illustrates that rather well. As it seems, Take Two Interactive sued 3D Realms for breaching their contract by continuing to delay the game. I’d say that’s a fair reason to sue, especially since we’ve all let it slide for 13 years. But no, this story wouldn’t be nearly funny enough that way. So, to keep up the circus running, 3D Realms hit back with a countersuit. Why? Because it’s still in development. This all happened in May, and now it appears the case has been settled easily.

So what’s the update? Well, now we know that 3D Realms is still making it…. Oh wait…. This isn’t news at all. But I thought I’d take the space to just reflect for a moment on this, as I do every year around this time. I remember sitting at a friend’s house when I was in middle school watching the trailer for DNF and thinking “Woah, these graphics look sick!” Oh, how times have changed. Let’s put it this way; Duke Nuken Forever is very close to joining the ranks of infamous golden snails like James Camerons’ Avatar (First started in 1993, released in 2009) and Guns and Roses’ Chinese Democracy (Started recording in 1994, released 2008).

So here’s my big question: Which will finish first, Duke Nuken Forever or Dr. Dre’s follow up to The Chronic 2000? I for one think it’s time to start a massive betting pool. And personally, my vote is going to Dr. Dre on this one…

Uwe Boll Sues Downloaders… Who Downloads a Uwe Boll Movie?!? May 28, 2010

Posted by Giovanni in Humor, News.
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Right back at you, Uwe.

Well here’s a fun bit of news. I’m sure you all remember Uwe Boll. You now, the ‘filmmaker’ who has nearly single handedly turned the practice of video game adaptations into a hopeless joke? Well, he’s been fading from the spotlight lately. Without creating terrible movies (At least ones that we know about), challenging critics to boxing matches, or putting out petitions we’ve seemed to move on from Mr. Boll. His antics have finally faded from the public eye….

NOPE. Apparently Uwe Boll must’ve been aware of this, as he’s forced himself back into the public eye…. by suing us. That’s right. Apparently, the director is tracking down people who have illegally downloaded his Far Cry adaptation. So far, he’s tracked down over 4,500 offenders, and filed lawsuits accordingly.

But I think the real news story here is that over 4,500 people have SEEN Far Cry. Seriously, who has been wasting hard drive space on downloading that film in the first place? Well, if you’re one of those people, you better destroy the evidence quickly. Not just for fear of getting sued, but also if you want to remain a respected member of society.

Mega64 Presents a Super Mario Galaxy 2 Tutorial May 23, 2010

Posted by Giovanni in Humor.
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Are you thinking about picking up the newest Mario game, but worried that it might be a little complicated? Well don’t worry! In their latest IGN video, the boys of Mega64 offer up an instructional ‘How to Play’ video. It’s sure to make any casual gamer into a Mario pro in no time. Check it out below:

Guile’s Theme Goes With Everything May 22, 2010

Posted by baconsamurai in Humor, News.
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Seen on GamesRadar, a YouTube channel, guilethemefitsall, has emerged editing Guile’s epic theme music from Street Fighter II into everything from Metal Gear Solid to Amadeus to Scooby Doo, in the same vein as keyboard cat.

You know what? It does work with everything!

More of our favorites after the jump!


Awesome Pitfall Doormat Forgets What Doormats Are For May 22, 2010

Posted by baconsamurai in Humor, News.
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Stare in awe at the Pitfall crocodile doormat, which also come in Pitfall scorpion and Mine Sweeper mine varieties, made by Meninos, makers of some phenomenally geeky home furnishings.

These 100% rubber doormats may discourage the primary function of a doormat (the removal of dirt and/or moisture from the soles of one’s shoe), but their glory cannot be denied.

If you want people to jump into your house or apartment, these can be purchased for $50.