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ACERBIC TREATS:
POP CULTURE CORNUCOPIA COLUMN OF CALAMITY. 
(06/23/08)

GTA 4, The Incredible Hulk, Battlestar Galactica and MORE

I am too disgusted to get into what my playoff predictions were for the Lakers. Just let it be known that I chose the Lakers to win the series 4-2, and that appears to be a mathematic and literal impossibility. The Celtics look great. That is all.

VIDEOGAME ROUND-UP

So I’ve been promising a GTA review for the last few weeks, and I tried to keep playing the game since then to make sure I had a lot of the game plotted and so I wouldn’t really miss any of the nuances for the game. To make a long story short: I didn’t. I was unable to do this. There is a reason why, and it stands as the fundamental flaw in this videogame, and in all honesty it really isn’t a flaw at all. This game is just too fucking big. I complete a mission and start driving to go and start another thing, only to plow into some pedestrians or nick a cop car, and suddenly I’m being assaulted and chased around by cops with the attention span of boiled potatoes. In my haste to get away from them I usually end up flipping my car and then have to run away on foot and suddenly I’m on the docks, or on a construction site or on a rooftops and I then proceed to run around and randomly kill people and then challenge myself to see how many stars I can get before I get killed and how long I can survive with 3-4 starts (usually not very long).

I proceed to do this until I am killed and then repeat the process. I enjoy shooting people through their windshields and shooting out their tires and basically just driving the cops crazy with general havoc, and I completely forget about the mission stories. This says more about the game than anything else. The game is so expansive and alive that it makes this game feel like the first game to ever be expansive and living. Interactions with people are fantastic. The target system is greatly improved, but still has room to grow. I rarely felt like I didn’t know how to do anything. The physics engine is pretty sweet, and the graphics are really more impressive than you think, although not NEARLY as nice as the screens on the commercial. Seriously, that’s got to be the worst false advertising since that “Cleveland Steamer” convention in Ohio. There weren’t any boats there…Anyway, the game itself is very pretty, there’s no denying that.

The missions themselves are interesting and fun, but not great. They’re generally standard GTA fare, and are fun to play, but like I said earlier, creating your own missions is reward itself. Want to test and see how many pedestrians you can take out with your car before a cop catches you? Do it. You want to see how long you can car surf (ala Teen Wolf) before being thrown off? Do it! Want to see how far you can jump your car off of a ramp? Do it! Want to see how long you can hump a fat hooker before you take her out and refund your money? Do it! Want to see how long you can drive drunk? Do it! It’s all here. It is a lot of fun, and usually more fun the main game (at least as much as I have played to this point).

To the negatives: The cars control like a squishy poo puppet, i.e. like shit. If you’ve ever wanted to see yourself spin out like you’re playing Mario Kart and kept the accelerator down after being placed back on the track, then what you need to do is take a turn at just over 10 miles an hour. You’ll fishtail like you’re driving on alien guts and if you’re lucky, you’ll tap the bumper of a cop car, resulting in an auto star (usually). This leads me to my next problem. The cops are way too sensitive. Like a young emo boy whose run out of eyeliner, the cops overreact over little things and brush of MAJOR things. I’ve been able to run over groups of people without the cops batting an eye, but as soon as I touch a cop, the guns are a blazing. The funniest example comes when you decide to drive drunk. This is a major negatory kids as driving drunk ruins the enjoyment of actually being drunk. The game seems to agree with this because if you manage to touch the door handle to your car while a cop is in the vicinity, they hop out of the car, salivating as if they’ve seen a black guy “resisting” ala Harold and Kumar (the first one). If you then continue to try to get into your car, the cops respond with eventually killing you, as if you were a black guy brandishing a cell phone. While funny at the time, it as irritating having to live the life of a minority.

My other minor gripe is that the guy who provided the voice of Niko is TERRIBLE. I have no idea what accent he is doing, but it really doesn’t sound like Russian or Eastern European even. It sounds as if one of those redneck comedians decided to pretend to do an accent while their allergies were acting up. The other voice acting is decent, but Niko is awful. And to think that prick wanted another cut, above and beyond the $100k he was paid, of the millions the game made. Selfish asshole.

All in all, this is one impressive game. Best game ever? Hardly. Best next gen game around? Maybe. Am I aroused? Definitely. GTA IV is probably the biggest most “alive” console game to date, and the fact that it is a blast to play really doesn’t hurt.

GTA IV: A-

THE INCREDIBLE HULK (spoilers follow)

I spent Friday night at the cinema watching the re-launch of a franchise that was dead after one movie. Did the movie deserve to be resurrected? Or in all honesty, should it go the way of intelligence in modern society, and never be spoken of again? Let’s see.

Right off the bat, I’ll let you know, if you thought there was too much action missing from “Iron Man” (and you’d be correct for stating this), the Hulk willl satisfy your appetite. The action scenes are awesome and very well-designed. When Hulk is being chased through the park, that is already better than anything that was seen in “Iron Man”. Plus the final showdown with Abomination is really, really well thought out and choreographed so as to please fan boys a-plenty. The final scene was not disappointing in the least and Marvel constantly seems to be hinting to a giant crossover movie in 2011 (“The Avengers”) that should be a pretty sweet payoff. But back to this movie.

Tim Roth and William Hurt are great in their respective roles, as usual, and add to the credibility of the characters with their solid acting chops. The direction is great (especially in the action scenes) and the special effects are mostly good.

Louis Letterier directed scenes and the re-writes by Edward Norton really make this everything that the Ang Lee movie was not: quick hitting, pretty true to the comic, filled with cameos (the eventual Leader, Doc Samson, Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno and everyone’s favorite Tony Stark) and all together more fun. While this movie is not good cinema, it is a good popcorn movie, but is lacking in certain areas.

Liv Tyler’s performance was to put it in one word: quiet. Like Renee Zellweger’s eyes, Liv Tyler’s mouth is closed faster than my window of opportunity to marry her (although if she is going to close her mouth, would I really want to?). She whispers EVERY line she says until she starts screaming like Dakota Fanning in “War of the Worlds” (except not nearly that annoying). On top of that, she replaced my goddess Jennifer Connolly as the role of Betty Ross. Inexcusable. She and Norton really don’t have much chemistry together, and the love story, while given some time to develop, does not really seem that touching or emotional apart from the first time they see each other. If they combined Connolly with the acting talent of Norton, you’d get the greatest two-some since actresses and no underwear were placed together. The special effects, as noted above, are good, but there is still a part of me that years for an actual man playing the Hulk instead of a fake looking computer generated monster. While he looks better than the Ang Lee Hulk, there is still some doubting you place on yourself when you look at him. It sort of takes you out of the movie. This is the severe disadvantage that this movie has over pretty much all other comic book movie franchises: the main character occupies so much screen time, and he is so active that you cannot simply use prosthetics, and he needs to look real enough that special effects don’t take you out of the movie. No other franchise really needs to do this because if all else fails, you can just have a guy in a suit stand there and look real. Hulk on the other hand is always moving and running, and therefore needs to be CGI’d more so than any other comic character (who has his own franchise) and therefore inherently looks more “fake” than other characters. Hopefully when the sequel comes in, or the “Avengers” movie is ready, technology has increased another 30-fold to really capture the Hulk and look s real as possible. This isn’t a knock on the special effects crew because the movie did look great, there were just moments that the Hulk and how he looked, kind of took me out of it.

So how does this movie stack up in the pantheon of Marvel movies? It’s not at the top and not at the bottom, but found a happy medium being good without being great. It satisfies the fanboy in us all, but still left something to be desired. Maybe some more fleshed out relationships and ironically this is what Ang Lee brought to the table. Combine them, and you have the longest movie ever, but perhaps a better one. Then again, I’m probably not remembering the Ang Lee movie as badly as most because I actually liked it.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK: B

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

So I finally caught up with all the episodes of this show due to some marathon watching sessions, a whole lot of Kleenex, lotion and burritos. To cut to the chase, I have never been wowed by a show like this probably in my life. There are so many holy crap moments that I can’t even list them. All of the episodes of season 3 end with some cliffhanger that makes you want to watch the next episode immediately. The premise is awesome, and the direction that they took with this show over the shit original program is simply amazing. They took the premise that was campy and lame and proceeded to make it real, interesting and intense. Not to mention sexy. I honestly don’t care which of those women are Cylons, I would let them ride me like a mechanical bull. Whichever “god” or master robot created them really chose the perfect specimens to seduce men.

I guess to take the women down to the level of being “objects” (bah!) takes away from their acting abilities because everyone on this show does a really great job emphasizing issues and emotions and it really is emotionally gripping. There are moments that are pure camp and lame, but generally, really great acting all around.

The cons: Some of the “stand alone” episodes in season 3 (“A Measure of Salvation”, “Hero”, “Unfinished Business” “The Passage”, “The Woman King”, “A Day in the Life” and “Dirty Hands”) are pretty much worthless. Not to say that they are bad (although some are), but they serve no purpose to the grand story and were required by the Sci-Fi network to try and draw new fans. Any storyline with Starbuck is just strictly annoying. She went from one favorite characters to one of the most annoying basically overnight. Simply a strange transition. Her yelling, whining, drunkardly, skankalicious character really bore on my nerves, so anytime she was off screen was a great time for me. The strange direction of Baltar’s character was bit annoying as well, but tolerable.

So all in all, even if you aren’t a fan of Sci-Fi, this is simply great television. If you are a fan of Sci-Fi, this probably won’t quench that appetite, but it is a fantastic show that I could not stop watching. Much in the same vein as criminally short-lived “Firefly”, “Battlestar” appeals to many audiences and as this is the last season, the creators have gone a route of British TV shows where it is better to end early than late. Hope aboard, kick in the FTL drive and enjoy the jump.

BATTLESTAR SEASON 1: (B+) Was fun and interesting, but like most shows it took the first season to find it’s groove as episodes are tense, but lack the “holy shit moments”

BATTLESTAR SEASON 2: (A-) Incredibly fun, full of holy crap moments and all together just a great season of TV.

BATTLESTAR SEASON 3: (A-) High up because the episodes connected to the main storyline are near flawless, but the stand alone episodes, while usually good, serve no purpose.

BATTLESTAR SEASON 4: (INCOMPLETE, but thus far A) it has kept the holy crap moments and has avoided the pitfalls of season 3. Thus far a perfect way to end the series. There is a break after the first 11 episodes, so they will release Season 4 as a part 1 and part 2 to gain more money, greedy fucks.

That leads me to something that has bothered me for a while. While it is a pretty smart idea to release TV shows as part 1 and part 2, as a consumer I want to tell these people to blow themselves. Seriously, this started with DVDs where it was $12-$20 for a special edition DVD. Now the standard DVD with no extras is $20 and the “bonus” DVD is $25! FUCK YOU GUYS. Like I really give a rats ass what a snooty movie director has to say about his movie. Every now and then it was interesting to hear what they have to say, but not $10 interesting. Why don’t you all do this, sell DVDs at the rate they cost to make. Not at a 400% profit, but at a rate that for once doesn’t pass the buck to the consumer, you greedy assholes. Now whenever I go to a movie, I have to sit through some shitheads pleading with me not to download movies. If you all want to price-gouge people and make DVD’s so expensive (because you make a shit movie and it is much easier to recoup losses through DVD’s because it costs twice as much as a movie ticket), why shouldn’t someone download a movie after it is out on DVD? Maybe it’s time that you all stop licking each other’s asses and do something right by the customer for once. Fuck you. Signed, Dr. Gonzo

There are many flaws in my argument, but I just got pissed about it so there it is. I know I was going do some vs. columns this week but I am at the point of having written almost 5 microsoft word pages so I will save that for next week.

And in support Dr. Gonzo news, I have started a sports blog (because I didn’t want to subject you all to those ravings in the entertainment column). The link is below, so please head over and support me. I get some revenue from people going to the page and clicking on the ads (without abusing the clicking) so if you see an ad that interests you go ahead and click it, and if you are a sports fan (for all kinds of sports) it is the place for you to go! Until next time my friends.

Doctor Gonzo is The Wrestling Fan's resident alcoholic drug-dependent IWC superstar. As the inventor of both the Psychic Playstation 2 and the "Alcohol intake" rating system, his various works have been read here at The Wrestling Fan, along with 411 Mania.com and Inside Pulse respectively. He was also declared clinically dead two years ago.

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TWF FLASHBACK

November 2006

SATIRE: DISCONTINUED WWE XMAS PRODUCTS!

by Sean Carless

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).