Saturday, April 16, 2011

Put Up Your Dukes: Mortal Kombat

I like to think I know about a lot of things. I like to think I have good taste in movies, I like to think I know what's going on the world, and sometimes I even like to think that I'm not a jaded cynic who despises how both of the aforementioned subjects have been circling the drain as of late. But if there is certainly one thing I can confidently say I know a thing or two about, it's fighting games. So I've decided to do a little miniseries tracking the fighting games I played, and where I feel that series of games is headed in terms of direction. And we're starting things off with a game I'm sure even the non-video game savvy are sure to recognize: Mortal Kombat.

Now like many a child of my generation, my entrance into the world of fighting games began with a little game you may have heard of called Mortal Kombat. And a simple glance at my background and avatar should be more than enough of a tip off on how much it has affected me. While the gameplay mechanics are simplistic, the story is beyond silly, I still feel that this 2D fighter has an endearing charm to it. I draw an interesting parallel between the Mortal Kombat series and the Star Wars franchise. The original trilogy is praised by nearly everyone who experience them, and then one person in control ended up making the series de-evolve into a generic mess. Plot points were changed and new ones were added, the main character slot shifted over to someone who was originally a villian, it got bogged down with too many unimportant, useless, or irritating characters, and the only way they manage to keep getting fans back for more is with frequent callbacks to the things that made the original works so great. If you have no clue what I'm talking about allot me to illustrate an example:
This is one of the more famous levels in Mortal Kombat 2 called The Deadpool. The gimmeck here is that if you put in a certain input into the controller right before you finish your opponent, you get to give them a nice little acid bath. The level itself is simple and iconic.
 They would later try to retool the level in Mortal Kombat Deception, although much more box shaped this time around to accommodate the 3D fighting mechanic. Difference hear is that any time during the match you can just knock your opponent into the acid. Their skeleton bobs up just like it did in Mortal Kombat 2. It even makes the same noise, I shit you not. 

I don't really have a problem with this on it's own, but the gameplay in the Mortal Kombat games has only gotten worse since they ventured into the realm of 3D fighting. And once John Tobias (who along with Ed Boon are responsible for the creation of the MK series) left after Deadly Allience tanked, control and final say on many decisions was given to Ed Boon. Ed Boon then proceeded to run the next following games into the ground, with the clusterfuck that was Mortal Kombat Armageddon, and the infamously bloodless Mortal Kombat vs DC.
However there is hope on the horizon. The new Mortal Kombat game is swiftly approaching, and it not only claims to return to the series 2D roots, but also acts as a reboot of sorts, getting rid of many of the useless characters added in later games. The fighting mechanics also seem to have learned a thing or two from the Street Fighter series, a series I will be covering next. This is a good thing, because the series is finally getting advances in the right direction, and it might soon have merit as a series in the eyes of the fighting game community. But untill the game comes out all we can do is hope

Well, we can certainly try anyways
With love and lacerations , The Brosidon

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Thoughts on Suckerpunch

What makes a good movie? There are many who believe that cinematic depth is the driving force behind the worth of a movie, while others would argue that all a movie needs to be an astounding experience is to simply be entertaining throughout. While you could argue either side it seems to be a subject more heavily followed by the viewer, you either value depth more or value how much it entertained you. I bring this up because many a critic seem to think Suckerpunch is a movie that tries desperately to appeal to the latter faction of moviegoers and failed miserably in doing so, as well as providing little to no satisfying messages. Put that alongside the rather shallow characters and simplistic plot and it's not that big of a surprise to see why many people are calling Suckerpunch one of the worst movies of the decade.

I am willing to argue that Suckerpunch is not only an extremely entertaining movie, but also one of the more thought provoking movies to come out  in recent years.

Don't get me wrong, it's no Inception, and it certainly can't hold a candle to Black Swan, but I don't think people are giving this movie the credit it deserves, and I can definitely tell people a majority of people are only reading into the movie in the most superficial manner. The plot begins with the murder of a young woman's (called Babydoll throughout the entire story) younger sister, murdered by her stepfather. he sends Babydoll to a mental institution where he pays one of the higher-ups to have a specialist give her a lobotomy so she doesn't tell the police. Babydoll then has to plan her escape in 5 days with the help of other members of the institution by collecting 5 items. The selling point of the movie is that life in the institution is seen as life in a brothel, the inmates being the prostitutes, and whenever Babydoll dances instead of actually seeing it, we see some of fantasy action sequence in which Babydoll and later the other women must fight off orcs, giant stone samurai, steampunk nazi zombies, among other things. Each of these scenes are rendered beautifully, director Zach Snyder knows how to take what could be an ordinary shot and make it look breathtaking. The fights themselves are often enjoyable as well, although I wouldn't compare it to the action in Snyder's previous works, namely 300.

So it has the action, the beautiful women sprinkled throughout, and it generally seems like a fun movie right? Well where many people seem to have a problem with this movie is in the fact that in it's attempt to appeal to every single nerd fantasy ever in the action sequences, it spreads itself far too thin and by the time you reach the 4th dream sequence it feels more taxing than thrilling. While I never felt this way about these scenes I can see how people could end up with that opinion. And while I won't spoil the ending, I know it must have rustled the jimmies of a considerable number of people. I will admit that while it resolves just about everything, it did seem a out of place and very much like the movie sucker punched the audience. Took me two seconds to come up with that pun, absolutely no regrets.

Now here's what I think the average moviegoer and most film critics overlooked when taking in this film. While the flimsy characters in mostly skimpy outfits could have easily been overly sexualized they were surprisingly subdued. Once Babydoll showed up in the first sequence wearing what is essentially your typical Japanese student uniform complete with short skirt I assumed there would be tons of scenes were she would do a slow motion flip and you'd get a look at her panties or something, that really didn't happen (arguably once but even then it didn't seem like fanservice). No they just seemed like typical action hero archetypes, the only difference being a swapped gender. So why give them the sexy outfits and make the characters attractive females if you're not going to do anything you'd expect with it? The movie also seems like it should've been a whole lot more violent than it was. Zach Snyder did two very gory movies before this, and while Suckerpunch doesn't shy away from gunplay, (even outside of the dream sequences) it always seems to cut away right before the gunshot. It's fairly obvious that this was originally a very R-Rated move that was awkwardly edited to make it a PG-13 movie. If Zach Snyder was not only comfortable with gratuitous gore in the past, but proficient at using it well, why bother toning down his first original movie?   The answer is that it's the only way it would sell to the masses.

And that's when it hits you. This entire movie was made to appeal to every single demographic simultaneously, and then it's own story, a story that was shyed away from in most trailers for the movie. The fact that you never see Babydoll's supposedly intensely erotic dance, the fact that there is hardly any blood to be scene in this still surprisingly violent P3-13 movie, the fact that the main characters are a group of gorgeous prostitutes and yet you never see them do anything overtly sexual, the fact that the movie ended in the manner that it did, all of this is intentional and forewarned in the very name of the movie: Suckerpunch. The entire movie is a tease in order to get you to see it. It knows what you want and will gladly show it to you, almost. It takes advantage of your expectations and uses it to control your reactions.

There's even deeper points I could make here, but as of right now it's late and I am getting rather tired of typing, so I'm going to wrap this up. After viewing Suckerpunch I knew it would be a polarizing movie. It's definitely a movie you either get or don't get. I'd say it's a solid action movie with a lot more thought put into it than folks give it credit for. I see it on a lot of early worst movie of the year lists, and hell it might even win a Razzie or two. If you want my opinion (and I assume you do if you're still reading this) go see it regardless of what you've heard. It's a hell of an experience, and even if you don't end up liking it, you can say you saw once of the worst movies of the decade.

Until next time, this is the Brosidon.