Sunday, January 31, 2010

Top Ten LOST Deaths

I narrowed down the long long list of people who have died on LOST by using 3 criteria:

- Going out in style is a big plus since most people (Ethan, Danny the Other, Bea Klugh, Yemi, Shannon, Tom Friendly, etc.) were killed by gunfire (yawn...). I prefer something a little more inspired, like Frogurt taking a flaming arrow to the chest and Mikhail blowing himself up with a big grin on his face.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MOMENT - What were the circumstances surrounding their death? Were they abruptly cut down like Danielle Rousseau and Karl, or did they have a death with actual ramifications like Michael?

EMOTIONAL WALLOP - Ok, maybe your death was memorable, like when Eko's ribs were smashed in by Smokey, but did it pack an emotional punch? And I'm not asking if it resonated with the cast, like when Joanna drowned. It has to matter to the viewers.

First, I'll honorably mention some great deaths: Anthony Cooper, Essam, Nadia, Pilot Seth Norris and Dr. Arzt.

Cause of Death: Buried Alive
I've been debating with myself on whether or not I should include them on this list. On one hand, they were a useless, annoying, failed experiment. But on the other hand, their death showed that the writers cared about the fans input, and most importantly, their episode was a nice little self-contained story that felt like a Halloween episode of LOST.

Cause of Death: Exterminated by Ben Linus and the Tempest station
Not only does Ben Linus have remarkable talent when it comes to manipulating those around him, but he does an awesome job of manipulating viewers. He coolly calculated the mass execution of everyone he grew up with (on his birthday, no less), and on top that, murdered his dick of a father with a bug bomb. And yet, in spite of that, I still see him as a likable and sympathetic character, EVEN AFTER...

Cause of Death: Bullet to the head, courtesy of Sgt. Keamy
...HE LETS HIS DAUGHTER DIE!!! Her death was sweet because it had everything. Badass Martin Keamy and his strike team assaulted the Barracks, blew up some background extras (like Claire), and then negotiated the surrender of Ben using his daughter as the bait. Ben, believing that Charles wouldn't change the rules, bluffed Keamy, who promptly blew her brains out. It may have been the first time Ben wasn't in control of a situation, but he quickly responded by unleashing the Smokey Freight Train on the marines.

Cause of Death: Crushed in a plane crash
It took some guts for the writers to kill off a main character in the first season of the show, and sadly, it had to be Boone. His problem was that he was a character dependent on other characters to be in the story (first Shannon, then Locke). He never really had a chance to blaze his own trail, and that's why it made sense to get rid of him. He went out in a moment of glory, communicating on the radio to Bernard that other survivors were still out there before the plane fell from the canopy (a sacrifice the Island demanded). While his accident was a shock, he spent the rest of the next episode hanging in there thanks to the Doc ("I WILL FIX YOU, BOONE!!"). You have to admit, the sheer irony of surviving a plane crash only to die in a smaller plane crash a month later is brilliant.

Cause of Death: Shot by his mother (while she was pregnant with him)
If you subscribe to the "Whatever Happened, Happened Theory" that Faraday first preached, then you'll agree that his death was predetermined and he was supposed to go back in time to die. However, if you believe in the "Human Variable Theory" that Faraday later preached to Jack, then you'll agree that Faraday was traveling back in time to prevent himself from inevitably being shot by his mother... he just failed. Either way, I get a headache thinking about this tragic turn of events.

Cause of Death: Stabbed by Ben Linus
The buildup of this moment is superb. The Others believe Jacob to be the god of the Island, ruling it and influencing everything around it. It's cool to think that he was made mortal by whatever loophole the Man In Black was referring to, and it's even cooler that he was expecting it. He sat in his chair, awaiting Ben and the Man in Black. He didn't fight back, he didn't struggle, and he practically dared Ben to kill him ("What about you?). Jacob's death gets lots of points because of the mystique associated with him, and that's why he cracked the Top 5.

Cause of Death: Two For the Road, served by Michael Dawson
Everybody expected the death of Ana Lucia. In the show, she was a hated character. Outside the show, she had a DUI and it was rumored that she would be leaving. I put this moment at number 4 because of the payoff of the moment. When she stupidly handed the gun over to Michael and he shot her, center mass, all of us watching cheered like the Steelers were scoring a touchdown. But before you could blink, Libby walks in with blankets for her date with Hurley, and Michael shoots her, too. We all were shocked and speechless, as if Bettis was fumbling the ball in a crucial playoff game. To cap the scene by freeing the villain and shooting himself, it was one of the most up and down moments in all 5 seasons.

Cause of death: Drowning
This death has more emotional wallop than any other. Charlie was a consistent fan favorite, and was having a pretty strong third season. But because of Desmond's flashes, we were all expecting him to die at some point. When he finally welcomed death on his own terms by shutting the door to protect Desmond, all the female fans of LOST (if there are any) were in tears. After saving the day by getting the radio to work, his last cool act was writing NOT PENNY'S BOAT on his hand to warn Desmond. He loses some points by incorrectly doing the sign of the cross, but not enough to bounce him from the Top 3.

Cause of death: Strangled by Ben Linus (his 4th appearance on this list as murderer)
Like Faraday, Locke's death was predestined. He know from his chat with Richard Alpert that he would have to die in order to bring everyone back to the Island. Yet he still went through the motions, futile as it was, to convince the others to come back with him; surprise surprise, they all said no. Relying solely on his belief that his death will serve the Island's will (that's some belief), he tries to hang himself. All of that fear and sadness is cut short when Big Ben shows up. He convincingly talks him down from the ledge only to do the honors himself. He's tried shooting Locke and strangling Locke, but neither has worked. The great Doc Jensen believes they will battle each forever as the new Jacob and Esau.

Cause of death: Detonating a hydrogen bomb
Finale deaths are always the most heart-wrenching. We know the writers are going to up the stakes and kill off a main character, but just like with Michael and Charlie, we knew it was Juliet's turn to go since she signed on to star in a new series. Once she was caught in those chains and dragged towards the chasm, it was the beginning of the end for her. With her awesome theme song blazing in the background, Sawyer tried like mad to hold on, but fails. Kate tries to help, but as usual, does nothing (it should have been her falling down that hole). We all thought she died then and there, but somehow she survived the fall! Broken physically and emotionally (thanks to LaFleur choosing whore Kate over her), she summons her last ounces of strength and hotness to beat the hell out of Jughead until it explodes... what a way to go...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

LOST Music

One of the best things about the show is its soundtrack, and just as the story has recurring themes, so too does the music. Each character has their own unique tune, a tune that can be tweaked for sad scenes, action scenes, or epic scenes.

If you're a real LOST whiz, you'd be able to hum the character's tune before listening to the mp3s below.

JULIET - this theme is what made her death scene so memorable












and... the best....



Tuesday, January 26, 2010

LOST: Flight 815 Crash in Real Time

Since I am pretty tired of analyzing L O S T and just want to get to the goods, I will post goodies as I find them and let them speak for themselves.


Monday, January 25, 2010

LOST Cast Discusses the Premiere

I've been trying to avoid legitimate previews and teasers of the new season because I don't want any spoilers before Tuesday. I remember being on the boards before the Season 3 finale, and somebody had written that there would be a flashforward, which took so much away from the actual reveal. Nonetheless, I can't help but be curious when somebody mentions this new storytelling technique. Evangeline Lilly says "another change in dimension" that lets them reinvent their characters. Lindelof promised to blow minds during the press event. But what can they honestly do? Dual timelines? Dueling timelines? Standard reboot with new flashbacks? A timeline set after they leave the Island with flashbacks to the big events on the Island? Who knows... only 8 days until we find out..... enjoy this preview (no spoilers)... and is it weird that Matthew Fox isn't doing much press for the show?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Updating the LOST Big Board

Though I could probably expand this list to the Top 150, there's plenty of people that you don't want to see in the power rankings. To keep it at 90, I had to kick out a few people (like Kate's parents) and bring on the season 5 heavyweights like Radzinski and Ellie. As you can see, the number in parentheses is where they used to be, and the cells are color-coded with the season in which we first meet them. Below you will find further justification for the Top 10.

Notable jumps - LaFleur climbs 49, Pierre Chang goes up 45
Big drops - Kate (-20), Penny (-17)

10. Frank Lapidus - He fell back a few pegs, but through no fault of his own. He's still a helluva pilot (even without the sweet beard) and I still have to say he's the most trustworthy guy on the entire Island. The rebooted timeline will probably have him flying (and landing) 815. If Andy's lucky, maybe we'll catch another glimpse of his chest hair this season.

9. Mikhail Bakunin - He's been dead since the Season 3 finale, and that's why he's dropped down this list. I've heard whisperings that he may return this year, but even I don't care so much about that. The way his story ended was perfect and they should just let him be.

8. Christian Shephard - Out of anyone in the Top 10, this guy has the most potential to jump forward. What is his role in the reboot? Is he even dead? WHEN WILL JACK MEET HIM ON THE ISLAND!?!? HAS HE BEEN THE MAN IN BLACK?!?!? All these are awesome questions, and his pep-talk for Jack while operating on angelhair pasta showcase his father-of-the-year qualities.

7. Juliet Burke - Hottest chick in the whole cast. She was so close to leaving the Island 3 times (on the sub in Season 3, on the freighter in Season 4, on the sub again in Season 5), it breaks your heart that she met her end at the bottom of a drill hole. How many people in this world can beat the shit out of Kate, talk down stubborn Jack, and soften up asshole Sawyer? Only one...

6. Daniel Faraday - He was the only one with answers this past season, and he kept the stupid audience up to speed on the rules of time travel. His backstory episode in Season 5 is one of the most underrated in the show's history. I loved seeing the relationship he had with his mother. Was she pushing him so hard so he could fulfill his destiny and get murdered on the Island, or was she pushing him so hard so that he could find the solution to prevent it? I loved how sad and broken he was after testing the machine on himself (and Widmore's appearance was solid). Only one other person on this list put in less work to get this high.

5. Desmond Hume - In the history of LOST, how many people have had a happy ending? Sun and Jin are still separated (and for the reboot to pre-815, they might be back to hating each other). Lafleur couldn't save Juliet during the Incident, Jack and Kate's engagement ended in misery, Charles was banished from the Island for having an affair while with Eleanor, Nadia was hit by a car and died in Sayid's arms, Charlie died after finally setting things right with Claire, etc. etc. etc. But Desmond made it off the Island, married his long lost love, had a kid, and is probably living happily ever after.

4. Jacob - Biggest buildup of any character? Check. Biggest delivery of any character? CHECK! Coolest theme music? CHECK! How could a guy with one episode of screen time crack the TOP 5? He has been instrumental in getting everyone to the Island, and even when he is stabbed to death, he still gets the last laugh on Locke/Man in Black... "they're coming..."

3. Jack Shephard - People have often criticized Jack of being stubborn, headstrong, and impulsive, but no one else gets results like the Doc. Locke (before he died) was a clueless puppy. LaFleur maintained the status quo, but couldn't manage things when the Doc roared into town. Jack was able to get the team back to Island after Locke failed. Jack got his people to the freighter whereas Locke and Sawyer allowed the Barracks to be overrun. How cool would it have been that, when Ben and Locke enter the temple at the end of Season 5, that Jack is sitting in that chair as Jacob? It would be awesome, and that still might happen in Season 6...

2. Ben Linus - Ben briefly held the number one stop because he owned Season 3 and 4, and most of season 5. But Ben couldn't match wits with reborn Locke (and can we really blame him? You try outsmarting a god), and so he's back at number 2. His murder of Jacob represented exactly what the Man in Black was referring to when he spoke with him... humans manipulate, corrupt, and destroy. It will be interesting to see how Ben is handled in the rebooted timeline. Will he continue to be meek and submissive, or will he go back to cracking skulls, Linus-style?

1. John Locke - Locke had a little bit of help getting back into the top spot, but he still dominated Season 5. He got off the Island, had one of the best flashbacks of the series (Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham), was reborn, outplayed Ben and Richard, and pretty much became the most powerful man on the Island. His only weakness was his Dad and Helen, and gladly both are dead. Season 6 better be all showdown between Locke and Jack, and here's hoping Locke prevails.

Urban Legend's LOST Rankings

Emotions of both excitement and sadness come with the start of LOST's final season. Without a doubt, LOST has been the most thought-provoking, dramatic, entertaining, and well-crafted television show I have ever seen, and it's hard to believe it's coming to an end. But on a happier note, it's exciting that it's back, better than the crap I've been watching. Special thanks to Herb and Dave for their tireless work on this website, their extreme knowledge of the LOST universe, and getting me hooked on the show. So in anticipation for the Season 6 premiere, here are some of my personal LOST lists: a ranking of the seasons, the top episodes, an updated scene list, and my favorite characters.


5. Season 4
4. Season 2
Season 3
2. Season 1
1. Season 5


10. "Walkabout" - S1, E4
9. "The Shape of Things to Come" - S4, E9
8. "Cabin Fever" - S4, E11
7. "Pilot" - S1, E1-2
6. "Exodus" - S1, E23-25
5. "Live Together, Die Alone" - S2, E23-24
4. "Through the Looking Glass" - S3,
3. "The Constant" - S4, E5
2. "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" - S5, E7
1. "The Man Behind the Curtain" - S3, E20

Scenes old list
10. Ben saves Locke, and then kills him, "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham"
9. Desmond and Penny phone call, "The Constant"
8. Who's in the coffin? -Locke, "There's No Place Like Home"
7. Walt taken by the Others, "Exodus"
6. Book Club in Others' camp, "A Tale of Two Cities"
5. Alpert in the Jungle, "The Man Behind the Curtain"
4. Michael's Killing Spree, "Two For the Road"

3. Jacob and Man in Black(Esau), "The Incident"

2. Season 3 finale, "Through the Looking Glass"

1. Season 2 intro/Hatch, "Man of Science, Man of Faith"

15. Michael Dawson
14. Danielle Rousseau
13. Pierre Chang
12. Daniel Faraday
11. Charles Widmore
10. Mr. Eko

9. Christian Shephard
8. Matthew Abaddon
7. Juliet Burke
6. Jacob
5. Richard Alpert

4. Benjamin Linus
3. Sawyer
2. Desmond Hume
1. Sayid Jarrah

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Before we look to Season 6, we must first officially close the book on Season 5 with a Retro Review. For those new to the game, I pick the ten most important storylines throughout the season and then rate them. For the record, I go in without an agenda... and the score doesn't necessarily reflect my feelings on the season as a whole. Click below for the reviews and scores of previous seasons.

Season One - 91
Season Two - 77
Season Three - 76
Season Four - 88

TIME TRAVEL: Thanks to Ben spinning the frozen donkey wheel in the Season 4 finale, we spent the first chunk of Season 5 skipping through time. This clever device allowed us to touch on lots of Island mythology (more on that later), and the nosebleeds (and one sad casualty) added some suspense and peril to the mix. Time travel is always a tricky thing to pull off, but overall team Darlton nailed it. Hurley and Miles' chat about the rules of time travel is one of my favorite scenes of the season. 10/10

MYTHOLOGY OVERLOAD: Fanboys who whine about never getting answers had no reason to piss and moan in Season 5. We were given the origins of Rousseau, the Black Rock in its prime, a full sized Statue, the building of the Swan and Orchid stations, Desmond in the Hatch again, an inside look of the Temple, how the Monster is summoned (and where he sleeps), the Dharma Initiative, and Jacob and the Man in Black!!!!!!! By the way, Jacob's theme is one of my favorites. 10/10

BACK TO THE ISLAND: I was starting to get sick of the Oceanic 6's problems on the mainland. Good thing we get to see Jack take charge and do what useless Bentham could not.... get them to go baaaaaaaaaaack!!!!! Some go willingly, others not so much. The best thing is that everyone's intentions are clearly laid out and all the loose ends are tied, meaning there shouldn't be any more trips back to the mainland. Two best moments of this stretch: Lapidus flying the plane ("We're not goin to Guam, are we?") and Jack's eye opening up again on the Island. 10/10

NOOBS: Each season, the producers try to introduce some new blood into the show. But for every Ben, Juliet, and Faraday, there's a Nikki, Paolo and Ana Lucia. Unfortunately, most of the noobs end up in the latter camp. Ilana, Meathead, and Caesar were terrible characters. Radzinksi and Phil were terribly unlikeable characters. Amy was terribly useless. The only winner I can think of Dr. Pierre Chang, who knocks this season out of the park... but he can't do it all alone. 4/10

ALPERT, WIDMORE, and the OTHERS: Probably sensing that their new characters wouldn't exactly pan out, genius Lindelof decided to give some more screen time to some old friends. We got to see plenty of Richard Alpert, Charles, and Ellie through years, including Alpert robbing Ben of his innocence, Charles revealing himself to be Faraday's pops, and Ellie's tragic murder of her son. 8/10

THE DHARMA INITIATIVE: The record had to stop skipping at some point, and what better place than the 70's with all their hootenannies? Not only was it a chance to learn more about the Island's history, but it was also nice to see the LOSTies cleaned up and living peacefully on the Island. Overall, the wide cast of characters (Roger Workman, Horace, Amy, Phil, Radzinksi, Chang, and Oldham) were entertaining and the story of LOST told from their eyes was pretty cool. 8/10

LAFLEUR AND JULIET: Ok, I may have promised that I would banish Juliet to the bottom of my power rankings with Kate if she fell for Sawyer, but nobody could've guessed that asshole Sawyer would morph into a smart, capable, leader of Security named LaFleur!!! I totally their love story, which makes it that much more enraging that Sawyer would trade 3 years of Juliet-love for 100 days of Kate-lust. 8/10

NEW LOCKE: The person that just appeared on the beach in a nice suit seemed too good to be true. Yeah, it looked like Locke, but this guy wayyyy different. He was no longer a pussy cripple, no longer asking countless questions, and no longer blindly following. He was a step ahead of Alpert and ten steps ahead of Ben. The Island was communicating like him like never before, and he finally showed some balls by planning to kill Jacob. And yes, he ended up being too good to be true. Turns out that dead is dead, and this guy is really the Man in Black!!!! Great Twist!!! 10/10

WHATEVER HAPPENED, HAPPENED: The train of thought that governed most of the season, the castaways could try as hard as possible, but they couldn't change the future. Or could they? Sayid tried shooting kid Linus, Sawyer tried meeting Desmond at the Hatch, and Faraday tried avoiding his talk with little Charlotte, but they all failed. Faraday died, Charlotte was spooked, and Chang abandons his wife and kid... all as planned. But wait... despite the themes of doom and inevitability, Faraday believes you can change the future, which leads to... 9/10

THE INCIDENT: The finale had several showdowns. We get the story of Jacob, which kicked ass, but back in the 70s, Jack's latest Island mission is to detonate a hydrogen bomb to alter the timeline and prevent Oceanic 815 from crashing in the future? Is this even possible? LaFleur doesn't want to find out, so he challenges Jack to some fisticuff (Jack would've won if not for the low blow). Sayid gets shot in the belly, Juliet pretty much ends it with Sawyer, and dick Radzinski drills into the pocket of electromagnetic energy. Jack's assault on the Swan (which also kicked ass) was a total whitewash... until some debris pulls down Juliet a la Quint. She survives just long enough to bash in the bomb until---- LOST. What a finish. 10/10


10 Days of LOST

Welcome to our Second (and sadly, final) edition of LOST Week. To celebrate the last season of this site's favorite show, we're unleashing a barrage of lists, previews, reviews, predictions, and any other content we can think of over the next 10 days.

I'll kick things off modestly by showing ABC's latest preview of Season 6. Tune in tonight and tomorrow for my review of Season 5, and my updated power rankings of the Top 90 characters of LOST.

Final Season Of 'Lost' Promises To Make Fans More Annoying Than Ever

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

LOST Season 6 Scoop

As I am currently ripping through Season 5 on blu-ray, I've got LOST on the brain. At a recent press tour featuring a good chunk of the cast, LOST geniuses/retards Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof dropped little nuggets of teasers into our laps. Be warned... mild spoilers below.


If you were trying to avoid spoilers, the all-caps, bold headline probably didn't help. Still, LOST producers had long hinted that some of our favorites would be back for a bit (most notably Charlie and Boone). This lends weight to the argument that Juliet altered the timeline and we are going to get some sort of season 1 reboot. Now, Cuse and Lindelof have confirmed that both Libby and Michael will return as well. Who knows what sort of capacity they will return in. Will they have a cameo like Ana Lucia in Season 5? A couple of episodes? Will their stories reach a conclusion?I'd rather have more Desmond and Penny instead of loser Michael. Does this mean Walt will return? Perhaps in a rebooted timeline, Walt was never taken from Michael by his bitch mother? As usual, more questions are being raised.


Seasons 1-3 featured flashbacks. Season 4 was about the flashforwards. Season 5 was built mainly around time travel. For season 6 the producers have hinted that their will be a new device for the final season, and the first episode will blow some minds!!! "We'll show who [the characters] used to be and who they are makes you feel like we felt in season one."

That's it for scoops. For general questions, what do you think is the least anticipated storyline of the final season? Firstly, there aren't many that I'm not looking forward to. I can't wait to see Locke and Jack together again (a full-on reunion for everyone would be sweet). Seeing more of Richard is always great for mythology, and the significance of Jack's dad surely must be revealed. But there's two things I could live without: Kate (a shit character) searching for Claire (a pointless character), and Ilana's weird crew. I really hope they don't spend too much time on this kind of stuff.

So what's the final crazy season going to be like? They can't dismiss all of the plot threads and cliffhangers from season 5, which means they can't completely reboot the timeline. So what sort of craziness are they concocting? Perhaps one storyline follows our regular castaways in present time, while the other storyline follows the rebooted castaways on the SAME Island reliving a rebooted plane crash?!? How about one storyline following the regular castaways on the Island while we follow rebooted characters OFF-ISLAND?!? In the end, it probably won't be that headache-inducing. Ten bucks says we the characters in a new timeline with their old memories, except the dead characters (Boone, Charlie, Claire, Libby, and Michael) don't have their old memories.

Three more weeks...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Best of: Decade Edition

my personal opinions, bash away

Sports Moments
5. Marc-Andre Flury stops Nick Lidstrom with seconds left in Game 7. (6/12/2009)
4. Ben to Willie to Antwaan to Hines wins Superbowl XL. (2/5/2006)
3. James Harrison outruns the entire Arizona Cardinal offense for a 100 yard int return. (2/1/2009)
2. The Steelers win Superbowl XLIII on a Santonio Holmes catch for the ages. (2/1/2009)
1. Mike Vanderjagt is wide right. (1/15/2006)

5. The Dark Knight - 2008
4. Sin City - 2005
3. LOTR Trilogy - 2001-2003
2. No Country For Old Men - 2007
1. The Passion of the Christ - 2004

TV Shows
5. Rome - 2005-2007
4. The Office (US) - 2005-present
3. Nip/Tuck - 2003-present
2. The Office (UK) - 2001-2003
1. LOST - 2004-present

5. "One Day Remains" - Altar Bridge - 2004
4. "Contraband" - Velvet Revolver - 2004
3. "Black Gives Way to Blue" - Alice in Chains - 2009
2. "Lateralus" - Tool - 2001
1. "Audioslave" - Audioslave - 2002

News Events
5. Hurricane Katrina - 2005
4. Election Recount - 2000-2001
3. Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - 2001-present
2. Election of Barack Obama - 2008
1. 9/11 - 2001

Monday, January 4, 2010

Further Avatar analysis

Andy summed up the movie nicely in his review. Though the effects may be revolutionary, the story certainly isn't. That's not to say it's a bad story or a bad movie, because it definitely isn't.... it's just a touch predictable. Not only is a predictable and pretty damn close to Dances with Wolves, but a lot of it seems borrowed from elsewhere.

How many people watched Stephen Lang in the finale's fight and thought, "hmmm that suit looks straight out of the Matrix Revolutions?" Because I did. When I thought on it some more, it also reminded me of the armor that Wikus wears for his big fight in District 9. But really, all of those are just rip offs of Metal Gear, right?

How many people watched the alien elephant charge and thought, "hmmm that alien elephant charge looks straight out of Return of the King?" Yep, me too. And the flying gunships resembled the gunships in the Incredibles. But forget props... what about plot? The whole resurrection gimmick also reeked of Neo and the Matrix. We already know about the similarities to Dances With Wolves and Pocahontas.

To me, it felt like Cameron had this idea for an incredibly awesome technological concept: Take the most advanced motion capture simulation we've ever seen, add some photorealistic CG scenery, and throw it in 3D that's used more for depth, layering, and atmosphere. In doing all this ambitious stuff technologically, he either forgot to focus on an innovative new plot, or he realized that people wouldn't be able to handle the new stuff if he didn't wrap it in an old story.

I get it, and it works. But let's not fool ourselves into thinking this is a Best Picture contender. Will it revolutionize movies like Star Wars did in 1977? Maybe, but Star Wars didn't win Best Picture either. Star Wars was just as epic from a sound/visual effects standpoint, but Lucas served it up with an old story straight out of classical mythology. I love Star Wars, and I really don't want it to sound like I hate Avatar with all the bashing I'm doing. I would give it a solid B+. I thought it crammed a lot of stuff into 2 hours and 45 minutes. It could have easily been extended into an epic trilogy like LOTR. We didn't spend enough time with the Navi to really care when their whole world (tree) came crashing down. But it still had the best motion capture I've ever seen. It had visual effects that make Return of the King seem dated, and one kick-ass villain in Stephen Lang (don't you just love when he leads the attack with a mug of coffee in his hand? What an asshole.)


Now consider what Avatar's accomplished in 18 days. Remember the epic hype even back during pre-production. Cameron was promising a new age of film. Other directors were visiting the set and saying it would blow our minds. The reviews were surprisingly stellar across the board. And then it went on to bust through $1 billion in just 18 days (it took Dark Knight it's entire theatrical run to do that). Word of mouth is getting people to theaters much like it did for Titanic. Girls who aren't into sweeping sci-fi epics are coming out saying "I'm surprised that is was sooooo good." This is going to br one to remember, folks, because it's probably going to go down as the #2 movie of all time in terms of money. Isn't it safe to say that James Cameron has pushed aside Spielberg and any other contender as the top director in the world?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

REVIEW: Uncharted 2 and Assassin's Creed 2

I might as well review both of these games together, because they make for a good compare/contrast on what PS3 games (and franchises) are capable of.

Uncharted was the reason to own a PS3. It looked amazing and it provided a fresh game-playing experience. In fact, only the best kinds of games can make you forget the normal game mechanics. Yeah, we've seen 3rd person shooter games, platforming games (Crash Bandicoot), and puzzle games (Tomb Raider), but never before in such a beautiful, intense, humorous, and flat-out entertaining package.

For Assassin's Creed, even though it was a massive seller, people kind of look back on it with a sour look to their face. It took a sweet premise and sick graphics, and then made it repetitive and a little boring. AC also put a unique twist on familiar gameplay.It took the sandbox mentality of Grand Theft Auto and added a new dimension to it. You weren't just walking the streets during the Crusades-era Middle East. You could now climb walls and traverse rooftops whenever you felt like it. Nothing was off-limits. But of the two, AC had a lot more ground to make up.

For the sequels, the interesting thing about this comparison is how each game adapted to the complaints from their first efforts. People say Uncharted was too linear. You were always moving along one path from A to B. Guess what? They didn't care, because it's still that way for Uncharted 2. Instead, they took what was so great from the first one and elaborated on it even further. The character interaction in Uncharted 2 is unparalleled. Whether it's the well-acted cutscenes or the one-liners during gameplay, you can't help but care about the characters and the plot because of how it's delivered to you. Also, they took the big set pieces from the first game and kicked them into high gear. You get to be inside a building while it's collapsing from helicopter fire. You get to travel along a moving train like Steven Seagal in Under Siege 2. You get to jump from truck to truck while narrowly avoided explosions. This game delivers big time on it's ability to make you feel like you're in a Hollywood movie. Bottom line: if you ever wanted to be Indiana Jones, then buy this game.

Assassin's Creed 2 took a different approach. It listened to the critics and fixed almost all of it's many flaws. Combat, exploration, traversal, and side quests are all more complex and interesting. There's a currency system, new upgrades, and home-base to decorate with armor and paintings. You can invest in your local town to increase tourism and trade. You can do the main story at your leisure, accept missions from local townsfolk, or just explore. The music, costumes, scenery, and voices make you feel like you're in Renaissance Italy. The only knock I can think of is they went from a boring, borderline stupid character in the first AC (Altair) to a pompous, unlikeable brat in Ezio. Fortunately, there's so many little things to keep yourself invested in (changing your clothes to something more fashionable, exploring underground Roman Ruins, getting revenge on the jerks who pickpocket you) that you forget about the jerk main character.

In a year when Modern Warfare stole all of the buzz and the sales (review forthcoming), it's worth mentioning that Uncharted 2 was hailed as the game of the year by almost every major gaming magazine, and Assassin's Creed was almost always a nominee. I didn't even mention that Uncharted 2 offers a online multiplayer component that is just as addicting. But if you're sick of games serving up the same old space marines vs. aliens shoot-em-up plot, or if they're rehashing franchises to the nth degree (that would be you, Mario), then look no further than Uncharted 2 and Assassin's Creed 2. These games highlight what creative originality can get you.

Bottom lines:

Uncharted 2 - Pound for pound, the greatest single-player adventure you'll ever take.
Assassin's Creed 2 - Open world addiction at it's best... takes sandbox mentality and turns it into a work of art.

Obviously... both games get an A+