Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade

First off I must ask, do you even remember this movie!? Well everyone that I know sure doesn’t. Second out of all the three Indiana Jones films this movie is definitely the best.

Compared to the Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom this movie is a billion times lighter, which is actually good thing. Indiana Jones is supposed to be a movie that you have a fun time watching and The Last Crusade brings back this fun! In this movie we find Indiana Jones fighting against those damn Nazis in order to find the cup of Christ, that will give a mortal eternal life (once they drink out of it). So right off the bat this movie does two things right, the movie setting be lighter and having those damn Nazis!

What made this movie so fun was the chemistry between Indiana Jones, played by actor Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones’s father, played by actor Sean Connery, Sallah, played by actor John Rhys-Davies, and Dr. Marcus Brody, played by actor Denholm Elliott. Each of these characters is so funny; they all bring something different to the film. Unlike the first film all these characters actually get to go on the adventure with Indy. By doing this, the film shows the audience just how different all these characters are, even though they are in the same field of work. There is Indiana Jones the adventure type who seeks to find the treasure. Indiana Jones’s father who while supposedly looks for treasure seems as though he has never gone on to many trips. Next there is Indy’s friend Sallah, the most hands on type next to Indiana Jones himself. Finally there is Dr. Marcus Brody who has never gone on one of these adventures before, as he is more of the book-reader/tells Indiana Jones what he will encounter on his trip type.

One of the better things about this film compared to the 2nd film is that while Indiana Jones is slowed down by his father, just like he was slowed down by Short Round and Wilhelmina ‘Willie’ Scott, the difference is Indy’s father adds comedy with fresh conflicts to the story. It is not only Indy’s father, but the entire cast seemed like they enjoyed making this film, which is shown by how well they played their parts.

Other than that there is really not much else to say about this movie and that’s a good thing.

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Elf

Overall, Elf was a decent movie. Decent storyline, decent acting, decent comedy, decent everything. But it wasn’t anything more than decent, or anything less. Probably the best holiday movie this year and a pretty good family movie that should be enjoyed by everyone. You should try to go see it if you have time, but if not, it’s really not a big deal.

Elf has a pretty creative story. Buddy (played by Will Ferrell) is a human boy who snuck into Santa’s Bag one Christmas Eve night and was taken back to the North Pole and raised as an Elf. As Buddy becomes older, he realizes that his toy-making skills just don’t compare to those of the real Elves and he must return to the human world. So, he journeys several thousand miles on foot, from the North Pole to New York City, with nothing but the clothes on his back. This is the best part of the movie: watching Buddy explore the human world as an elf.

After Buddy is done exploring New York City however, the movie begins to get a little dull. Somehow Buddy finds his birth father with only a picture and knowing that he works in the Empire State Building. However, his father is a cold, heartless, businessman who doesn’t want to take in his son. So Buddy spends the next hour trying to get the heart of his father as well as the heart of some girl dressed up as an elf at the mall.

One thing that kinda bothered me about this movie was that it sorta changed genres halfway through the movie. In the beginning, with Buddy checking out New York City, it was a comedy. But towards the end, it was more romantic/holiday corny stuff. Buddy goes from being hilarious to love bird, and it is not a good change. He follows this girl all through out the city, even into the shower. At first, she appears to have no actual point in the movie besides distracting Buddy from his ultimate goal: getting his father to like him. Of course in the end though, everything ties together. When Buddy and Santa are in dyer need of “Christmas cheer” later in the movie, this girl and even the whole town come through.

The acting is okay, besides Will Ferrell nobody else really stands out. It’s not really that hard to play Buddy’s father, the scrooge in the movie, or some quiet girl who works as en elf in the mall. So, the acting was decent overall. Nothing else really positive or negative strands out to me. Elf was just a decent movie.

Tomb Raider 2: The Cradle of Life

I just have to salute this movie for being so much better than the first Tomb Raider movie! While saying this Tomb Raider 2: The Cradle of Life is definitely not a great movie, but in the end you are fairly happy with the movie. At first while seeing this movie your saying to yourself “Why did they even make this movie!?”, but then once Lara Croft, played by actress Angelina Jolie, and Terry Sheridan who helps Lara in this movie, played by actor Gerard Butler, jump off a building and fly to the bottom the movie takes a 180 degree turn and is actually quite good.

The reason why the beginning of this movie was just so bad was that it was poorly cut, had horrible cgi, and the scenes just seemed pointless.

The beginning of this movie just jumped around so much that it was hard to get the mood of the movie. You understand what the movie is going to be about, what Lara’s mission is, but it is more or less why everything is happening that you don’t understand. Like how did Lara have a Great White Shark take her up to the top of the ocean!? Little things like this ruin the movie from being any better. But as the movie went on it all got better. The music had a total impact on this. You really felt that Lara could have been killed, a feeling that you have never had during this movie nor the Tomb Raider first movie, which is great! You actually feel for Lara by the end of the movie, with the choices that she had to make. I had a tear in my eye at the end of this movie for I really did feel sorry for Lara.

The cgi at the beginning of this movie was horrible! The cgi shark was just ugly as well as everything else that was under water. Though the worst effect in this movie was when Lara Croft was in this temple to get this ball that was in fact a map. She was climbing on some statue and while this part was the all real when she jumped up onto some wires of some sort they got rid of Angelina Jolie and replaced her with some Playstation 1 Tomb Raider graphics for a mere 10 seconds so few people actually even notice this effect at all. But that cgi just killed me right there in my seat it was just so nasty for a movie to have! Thank God that they actually improved on the cgi as the movie went on. It seemed as if money or time limits were the problem with making the cgi quality the same throughout the entire movie. The cgi for the monsters at the end of the movie was very cool.

One of the best scenes in this movie was when Lara finally got to Africa and was driving in this Jeep with all these animals like Ostriges and other African animals running away from the car, it just was cool. The funny thing is that it is very hard to understand Terry Sheridan in this movie. The actor’s accent is so strong that it really annoyed me while watching the movie. Also it seemed as if once all the Chinese characters died in this movie, the movie had already became so much better. It was just that Chinese gangsters aren’t really scary nor seem that tough. They were more like a pain to this movie. I don’t want to seem raciest, but I was glad when all the Chinese people died in this movie.

This movie is definitely not a most see movie for the summer, but if you liked the first or hated it I beat you that this movie will be a lot better!

School of Rock

Finally, here is a movie that is actually better than what its trailer made it out to be! When I first entered the theater I was expecting a mediocre film based on its trailer, which had a few funny jokes. I had thought that my expectations were dead on in the first 10 minutes of the film, but as it kept going and the lead character Dewey Finn (played by actor Jack Black) begin teaching the movie suddenly was extremely funny.

The best thing about this film is that the message from the film can be interpreted in just so many ways. This movie can be seen as an educational film on rock ‘n’ roll, a huge advertisement for rock ‘n’ roll, or never lose faith in what you like to do, etc. Few movies allow you to talk about this kind of thing to friends/family after you have just seen the film because most of them are very 2d/flat.

During this film you just want to get up out of your seat and jam with them…of course your in a movie theater…so that’s kind of hard to do…yea…

Another great thing about this film is that the storyline is very solid. It is just an easy story to get into. You get to see the transitions of these kids who don’t know anything about rock ‘n’ roll, to true rock ‘n’ roll stars. Each kid is just so talented (saying that they all can play these instruments so well, as I don’t know if they do or don’t).

Also the acting in this movie is just great. Each character is really believable. When I came out of this movie’s showing I could name almost every character in the movie that has a counterpart in the real world. It was kind of like smelling the fresh air and waking up to see how boring it really is here in Maryland. Everyone here is just all stuck up about grades and what not, that they lose sight of all the fun things in life, which this movie teaches you not to do.

With that said there is really not much more to be said about this film…I would not be surprised to see this movie doing equally or even better in box office sales numbers for its 2nd weekend as the word of mouth will definitely spread for this movie.

At the end of this film you truly feel like rock ‘n’ rolling on your guitar, except reality hits you and you can’t play for squat…

Ghost Recon: Island Thunder

Written By: Will Schaeffer

Welcome to Havana, Cuba in the year 2009, Cuba no longer is under the thumb of Fidel Castro, and finds itself in big trouble. A “drug-funded warlord” is intent on sabotaging the country’s first real election in half a century. This is where you come in, part of The Ghosts – an elite division of the U.S. Army Green Berets – your mission is to stop the warlord from taking control of Cuba and becoming the next Castro.

Ghost Recon: Island Thunder (GR: IT) could possibly be the best squad-based shooter online experience ever. With the inclusion of Xbox Live onto the title, it certainly becomes one of my favorite games for the Xbox. Just like any other Xbox Live game, you can use the headset and have a friends list spanning every Live-Enable Game. The ability to work as a team against an enemy is exciting, and creates a sense of realism and comradery, which is just about unparalleled.

The 13 multiplayer maps (12 before the addition of a thirteenth level a week ago) span everything from jungles to urban to desert to an oil refinery. These maps allow you to vary the types of guns you can use from the four different types of soldiers (Rifleman, Support, Sniper and Demolitions). Each of which have about ten weapons, ranging from snipers (Sniper) to heavy machine guns (Support) to light machine guns (Rifleman) and even to anti-tank weapons or grenade launches (Demolitions). Each weapon has a “sub-weapon” you can choose with it, these vary for each type, (Like only the Demolitions Expert can carry anti-tank rockets or Demo Charges) but almost all generally include options to choose extra ammo, grenades or a pistol. The many variations let teams set up a diverse unit (Made of three guys) that’s much more powerful than one with only M-16s.

As always, you can find games with either Opti-Match or Quick Match, or you can make your own. There are a ton of options when setting up your own games, such as the cycle of levels, “kit restrictions” (ie: no guns or sub-weapons (kits) are allowed to contain explosives, which may lag the server) and other stuff. You’ll also be able to choose from three different types of games, Cooperative, Solo or Team. Solo and Team are all human players attempting to destroy each other, In Solo its every-man-for-himself, and in Team your Team must destroy the other team (Duh). In Cooperative you are on a team with other human players, and must face a very smart AI. You do this in one of four modes, Mission (Complete all of the objectives), Firefight (Destroy all of the enemies), Recon (Get to the evacuation point without losing anybody), or Defend (You have to guard a circle from the enemy, if one of them reaches the center of it, you lose). With all of the different types and modes of game play, and the many different kits, game play is extremely varied, and doesn’t get old. Also don’t forget that there is Split-Screen play and the ability to link up Xboxes for when your friends aren’t online or you have visitors.
Controls for the game work very nicely. You can use the D-pad to make your character stand, crouch or lay down. The R-Button fires, The L-Button brings up a map (Except on Split-screen play, which is for 2 players), the black button switches your rate of fire, during online play, the white button allows you to speak, X turns on night-vision, A reloads, B switches to your back-up weapon, and Y switches between characters or re-spawns you after you die. And of course, the right trigger fires your gun. The only problem I had is switching between weapons, it takes a second or two, so if you’re under fire, you might want to run for cover before switching. Also, if your being shot, then you can’t move, crouch, stand or switch weapons, but that just goes with the whole point of the game, which is not to be shot at all.

Game play is downright awesome for this game, the single-player is still fun even after you beat it. However, it just doesn’t compare to multi-player, which is why this game isn’t worth buying for the other systems (Sorry for those of you who don’t own an Xbox). Multiplayer game-play freaking rocks, it can be fast paced, or a tactical hunt so that no one on your team dies. As mentioned above, the amount of options (Did I mention that you could have woman soldiers as well?) never allows the game to get old. Though don’t expect a normal FPS even though it is from the first person view, running into a group of bad guys will do nothing but get you killed, especially because your aiming goes down drastically when your on the move. There really isn’t much of a health meter, which adds to the realism, you’re either healthy, wounded or dead (Green, yellow or red on the guy down in the bottom left hand corner). A threat meter shows you where enemies are, this is done buy making the top, left or right side, or bottom turn yellow, so that you don’t know exactly where the enemy is, but you have a good idea, and when you get close enough, the center turns red so you know enemies are in the area.

Graphically speaking, this game can hang with the best of them. While the textures are very detailed, the environments are big, and filled with lush trees and bushes. Draw distances is horrible though, it tends to make you angry when buildings and bushes pop up out of nowhere, or when you know you can shoot farther than the draw distances allows (Mainly only in the Oil Refinery level, which is the new one). Overall though, there really isn’t anything too wrong with the graphics, and the game is generally too dark to see them, because as any Tom Clancy fan knows, the dark is your friend. When you fire a bullet though, it tends to look like its not going where you aimed at, but its not that big of a problem. Though the ground will kick up dirt when you shoot at it, and the bullet holes look realistic, I guess (I’m not sure how a bullet hole from an M-16 should look inside a voting center). The sound of the guns is realistic, and you can hear the bullets fly past you, or hit the ground.

In summary, GR: IT is probably one of my favorite games for the Xbox. The amount of options and awesome game play make it a really nice experience, though I think finding a game on Xbox Live can be a pain, and there should be an option to turn the threat meter off in Split-Screen (Like there is during Live play). It’s also for the PC, but I like the comfortable environment of my living room and the ability to talk in the Xbox version. This game definitely deserves a rent if you don’t have Live, and deserves to be bought if you do.

Halo: Combat Evolved

Written By: Blake Elens

The year is 2552. Earth’s colonies are under attack by a ruthless group of alien races come to be known as the Covenant. The ship you’re on is the last ship to leave to massacre on Reach, Earth’s last major colony. You traveled to some unknown location in space, hopefully to lead the Covenant away from Earth. At this location, a mysterious halo ring-world is between a planet and it’s moon. Suddenly, your ship is under attack and you crash on this mysterious “Halo”. Now, you must lead a gorilla attack against the Covenant and find out Halo’s deep secrets before the enemy does.

This is possibly the most perfectly balanced FPS in history. Even Half-Life would be glad to be Halo. The A.I. is some of the smartest of all. The weapons are perfectly designed. Everything is just so well mixed in this game.

Let’s talk about multiplayer. Even without the inclusion of LIVE, Halo does very well to keep you playing this game. If you have one special friend, you can get together and play through Halo’s 10 campaign levels on co-op. One Saturday, you could invite 3 friends and you can play through Halo’s big colorful multiplayer levels. You can even hook up 4 Xboxes and have 16 controllers and have an all-night Halo marathon party.

If you have 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, you will be totally immersed in Halo’s realistic sound effects. The gunshots and explosions will make you feel that you are in a real war. The dialogue is some of the funniest of this generation. Some of the lines you may have heard from such movies like “Animal House” and “Jerry Maguire”. The music is some of the best my ears have ever listened to. If Marty O’Donnell went into movies, James Horner will have some new competition.

These controls may get some getting used to for the console FPS fan. But, if you are a PC FPS fan and hate all the FPS controls that have come out for consoles, this is a breath of very nice fresh air. The left joystick controls the movements and the right joystick controls where you see. The right trigger is your fire button and the left trigger is the grenade button. That is really good for people tired of switching weapons just to throw grenades. The only reason why I didn’t give it a 10 is because of the time it takes for console FPS fans to get used to it. Otherwise, it’s perfect. All future console FPSs should have the exact same controls as Halo.

These are some of the best graphics this generation. The environments are just jaw dropping. You can just sit for hours just looking at the environments. The scenery does something that has hardly been done before; they actually look better when you get closer to them! The character models are as amazing as the environments. You can just stare at your fellow marine comrades. Speaking of fellow comrades, many of them flow on the screen at once. As well as your marine buddies, many of the enemies are on the screen at once, also. Each never losing a single graphical detail.

Halo is the best FPS and one of the best games of all time. The story, the graphics, and the multiplayer make for one hell of an experience. If you own an Xbox, get Halo. If you don’t have an Xbox, buy one and then buy Halo. Trust me on this one; you’ll thank me later.