Renaissance News Vol. 2 Issue 24

I’d apologize for being late again, but as we’ve consistently hit Thursday the last few issues, I’ve decided to simply move the deadline and make Thursday the publication date for now since it seems to fit my schedule better. These are the kind of powerful and influential decisions you can make when you’re editor-in-chief of a prestigious publication like this. I know, I know, sometimes it can get too much for me as well.

  • While the future of the live action franchise is up in the air, Terminator 3000, a CG animated movie is in works.
  • The Avengers will begin filming in February 2011.
  • Reese Witherspoon will star in a biopic of singer Peggy Lee, which will be written and directed by Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle).
  • Disney set 2 anticipated release dates. The remake of Tim Burton’s short film Frankenweenie will hit theatres on March 12, 2012 and Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E) will make his live action directorial debut with John Carter of Mars, in theatres June 8, 2012.
  • Timur Bekmanbetov (Wanted) will direct an adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
  • Michael Goldberg (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) has been hired to write Green Lantern 2’s screenplay, lending credence to the report last week that back-to-back sequels are planned for next summer’s superhero film.
  • Tony Scott will direct an adaptation of Mark Millar’s comic Nemesis. Millar’s last two comics to be adapted, Wanted and Kick-Ass, have his properties being devoured as soon as they come out. Nemesis has only had three issues so far, but it has a film deal. That’s how far we’ve come. It took Superman nearly fifty years to get a movie. Nemesis gets one in three issues. It’s a geek world!
  • DVD Release Dates
    The Boondocks: The Complete Third Season, November 2nd
    CSI: NY: The Complete Sixth Season, October 26th
    The Girl Who Played With Fire (Swedish version), October 26th
    Ice Road Truckers: The Complete Fourth Season, February 22nd
    Jonah Hex, October 12th
    Karate Kid (2010), October 5th
    Sex and the City 2, October 26th
  • Blu Ray Release Dates
    Bridge on the River Kwai, November 2nd
    Deadwood: The Complete Series, November 23rd
    The Girl Who Played With Fire (Swedish version), October 26th
    Highlander, November 2nd
    Highlander II, November 2nd
    Ice Road Truckers: The Complete Fourth Season, February 22nd
    Jonah Hex, October 12th
    Karate Kid (2010), October 5th
    The Last of the Mohicans, October 5th
    Sex and the City 2, October 26th
  • Box Office
    1. The Other Guys, $35.5 million
    2. Inception, $18.5
    3. Step Up 3-D, $15.8 million
    4. Salt, $10.9 million
    5. Dinner for Schmucks, $10.4 million
  • Billboard Top Albums
    1. The Suburbs by Arcade Fire
    2. Recovery by Eminem
    3. Nightmare by Avenged Sevenfold
    4. Trill O.G. by Bun-B
    5. Teflon Don by Rick Ross
  • Bestselling Video Games
    1. Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, PC
    2. Wii Sports, Wii
    3. Super Mario Galaxy 2, Wii
    4. Wii Sports Resort, Wii
    5. Dragon Quest IX, DS
  • New York Times Hardcover Fiction Bestsellers
    1. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
    2. Star Island by Carl Hiassen
    3. The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva
    4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    5. Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

Planet Earth

Recently my household made the upgrade to high definition and transitionioned to Blu Ray. Nothing has shown off how amazing that format is more than the 11 part BBC documentary Planet Earth. I’m sure it looks stunning on DVD as well, but I sit there just open-mouthed and begoggled (I am pretty sure I made that up) at the images on the screen. Every single shot looks like a Hollywood F/X shot, but it’s not. It’s nature and the breathtaking beauty of the planet showcased in a way no one has ever captured before. I’m an animal lover and this sort of thing is up my alley, but I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this. Each episode of the series focuses on an aspect of the planet (deserts, mountains, rivers, caves, etc.) and splits that focus off to show you spectacular footage of the most extreme and mind-blowing immensity of the planetary ecosystem intercut with smaller stories that give you a glimpse of rare animals and never-before-seen out of the way places. I would recommend this to anyone, but if you own a Blu Ray player and want to show off how amazing things can look, this is a showcase. Without exaggeration, this is one of the most beautiful and stunning things I’ve ever watched.
10/10

The Ghost Writer

I actually didn’t realize The Ghost Writer was directed by Roman Polanski until the Blu Ray came from Netflix and I nearly sent it back because I have a thing about not watching movies made by child rapists (this is an entirely separate rant). However, as he is now in jail and hopefully will soon be transferred to the “Burly Man Wing” of a prison with lax guards and I was not paying money for the film…..plus I was bored, I watched it.

Grudgingly, I have to say, this was a great movie. Really, truly great thriller that kept me engrossed from opening to stunning end. The film is about a ghost writer (Ewan McGregor doing something for once worthy of his talent) hired to finish the memoirs of a disgraced British PM (Pierce Brosnan) after his predecessor winds up mysteriously dead. It’s not a huge movie, it’s not a flashy movie, but it’s smart and well-plotted and has an ending I can’t go on about with out ruining it. The PM in the film is clearly meant to be Tony Blair. It’s so thinly veiled that it’s meant to be Tony Blair that I really don’t understand why they didn’t just call him Tony Blair. At any rate, I had little to no expectations surrounding The Ghost Writer and was pleasantly suprised at how smart it was.
8.75/10

Puzzle Quest 2

There are few games in my long, loooong history of playing video games that I’ve sunk more time into than the first Puzzle Quest. I probably put 50 hours into it on the DS and then later when I got my wife hooked on it, I played it all over again and put at least another 60-70 into it. It’s a combination of Bejeweled, classic RPG elements, and crack cocaine….except it’s more addictive. The sequel doesn’t mess with the formula and successfully adds new elements like weapons and armor into the gameplay. In PQ, you’ll travel the world, questing and your battles with your typical RPG monsters are fought out over what is essentially a Bejeweled board. It’s very simple, but the depth of the strategy and varieties that you can get out of that formula is amazing. The biggest change in PQ2 is that now while traveling the world, the camera takes a top-down view, very much in the vein of old school PC dungeon crawlers. It’s a big improvement and makes the game feel more like a RPG than a board game. The biggest complaint is that the depth of the first game isn’t there. You can beat the game in 30-40 hours and that’s all there is to do. The first game…well I think I’ve illustrated how much of a time sink the first game was and I NEVER EVEN GOT TO THE END! PQ2 is also significantly easier than the first game to the point where it’s not even much of a challenge for puzzle questing vets. But really if my only quibble is that it’s a really great long game instead of a really great game that’s so long it borders on a lifestyle choice, that’s not much to criticize. Perfect for blowing hours or if you just want to play something for a few minutes inbetween things, Puzzle Quest 2 is a worthy successor to one of the most addicting games of all-time.
9.25/10

Top 5: Movies I Hate That Are Critically Acclaimed

Critics be damned, there are some “classics” that I cannot stand. I not only dislike them; I think they are legitimately bad films. This is on my mind this week as I’ve just watched The Exorcist for the first time and thought it was a steaming pile of boring. But is it top 5? Nope. Here, I present to you, my top 5 critically-acclaimed duds.
1. Apocalypse Now (1979)
2. Titanic (1997)
3. Goodfellas (1990)
4. The Departed (2006)
5. Blade Runner (1982)
Those are just the top 5, but you want more? Raging Bull, Titanic, The French Connection, Deer Hunter, Taxi Driver, Spirited Away,  Resevoir Dogs, The Graduate, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, A Streetcar Named Desire, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and The Exorcist as of today. All of these films are in the top 250 all-time on the International Movie Database‘s rating system and I hate ’em all. Lemme have it (don’t really, it’s actually been quite a long week so I don’t know why I’m dropping this bomb).

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