Category Archives: monsters

Flash Friendly Blob

Tales from Space: About a Blob, another one of my free downloads from the PlayStation Store is cartoony fun that doesn’t require much thinking or much imagination. In other words, it is just The Non-Gamer’s speed. And sometimes, after trying to play DCU Online, or heavens forbid, BioShock, that is exactly the kind of game you want.

The game borrows quite liberally from Monsters Vs. Aliens‘ B.O.B., more than it does from the original movie The Blob with Steve McQueen or any of its sequels and/or remakes. And that’s kind of cool, as I said, this is more cartoon than anything else.

You’re a blob, small b, and you absorb things, and you’re on the move in a laboratory (or a farm if you’re daring and want to try the ‘hard’ level). Honestly, I don’t know if there’s much more to it. Don’t get burned, and keep moving. Simple. Just like life.

About a Blob has a nice flash animation intro in the spirit of keep-it-simple-stupid, ya know. It’s easy to learn, lots of tips, all the stuff that for The Non-Gamer makes for a near perfect demo. Just my speed, I like it. The longer I played, the better I got. I had a good time. What more is there to say? Thumbs up.

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Lions, and Robots, and Anime, Oh My!

I don’t get Voltron. I mean I get it, I understand it, but I don’t get it. It holds no nostalgic value for me. It came out some time after I traded cartoons for girls, you know, waaay back in college.

For those of you in my situation, I’ll refresh your memories. “Voltron: Defender of the Universe” was an animated series in the early 1980s that was edited together with segments from two earlier Japanese animes called “Beast King GoLion” and “Armored Fleet Dairugger XV.” It was done in much the same way “Power Rangers” was put together, only not live-action. In the American compilation, the Voltron Force are five individual who fight the forces of evil in five different colored robot lions, that can combine into one giant robot and fight the bigger badder menaces they can’t on their own. It was a huge hit here in the States for boys and girls.

As I said, it was past my time, much like G.I. Joe or Transformers. Still, I like giant robots, and especially monsters, when I saw that a game called Voltron: Defender of the Universe was available for free download from the PlayStation Store, I thought, why not?

The game starts with a whole lot of animation, old animation, which makes me think it’s probably from the original American TV series. There’s a bunch of it, so much of it, that you expect that to be what the game is like, but no, that’s not the case at all.

Had the game had a Japanese anime feel to it, it might have been a bit juvenile, but it would have worked. The game however is nothing like that. It’s like a crisp high definition version of what the old 8-bit and 16-bit video games for Atari and Nintendo used to look like. If you were told that blue and red pixilated blur was supposed to be Superman, you just nodded and blindly accepted that.

This stolen-from-the-web pic is 100% clearer than what I saw in the game…

It’s like that here. After about five to ten minutes of running my black segmented blob of shiny metal through bad obstacles and having it gobble up good obstacles, it occurred to me that might supposed to be the Black Lion. Yeah, it’s like that. What I was able to see of the game was pretty, indistinguishable, and pretty primitive. I gave up out of boredom, not frustration. If there are giant robots or monsters, I wouldn’t know. I didn’t get that far.

If you got a hankering for Voltron, get over to Netflix, not to your PlayStation, just my opinion.

Monsters

Monsters ~ When I saw this line of hype in the description of this flick OnDemand, I was intrigued. It read, “Best giant monster movie I’ve seen in years.” I was sold. It’s written and directed by Gareth Edwards, who has been chosen to helm the new American Godzilla movie – so I definitely had to see it.

The story – six years ago a space probe sent to search for alien life crash lands over Mexico. It brought ‘creatures’ and the area was walled off as the “Infected Zone.” Expecting District 9 meets Cloverfield meets Toho’s Monster Island, I happily order it, no matter how high the price.

A magazine photographer is sent to collect the boss’ daughter from Mexico in the Infected Zone. After losing their passports, they have to walk. Yeah, what’s that writing rule about what’s the worst that can happen? Yeah, that’s what happens. They walk home through the Infected Zone.

The two main characters are thankfully not typical horror movie stereotypes, but we get to know them as well as we would such characters – very peripherally. They are still placeholders in the storytelling process, but just different ones. The male lead reminds a lot of a young Adam Baldwin, but that’s neither here nor there. Some of the dialogue is painful, especially most of it falls into the “What are you doing?” and “Where are all the people?” territory.

The cardboardness and predictability of the two leads is what makes the ending so unfulfilling when it comes. I wanted a monster movie with a human story as a backdrop like most traditional kaiju eiga and got was a bad human story with monsters as the backdrop. At least the monsters got one pretty intense love scene. And no, I’m not kidding.

The monsters are rarely seen clearly early on, just in fuzzy pictures and staticky news footage, and later we hear them, but when they do finally show up… hello, pretty scary. They are sorta giant squid meets preying mantis meets Martian war machine with just a bit of Cthulhu thrown into the mix for good measure. The wreckage and destroyed buildings are stunning, as they are not CGI in the traditional sense, but greenscreened in – they are real destroyed buildings from earthquakes, fires, etc., so it looks, and is, very real.

There is not as much commentary on the current US/Mexico immigration problem as one might think from the summary of this flick, but it’s in there. There’s not much, but then again, no one ever says the word ‘apartheid’ in District 9 either and that’s like a brick to the head.

This was a fairly entertaining movie though, for what it is, a little long and I would have loved more monster stuff – but all in all, Monsters did not live up to the hype. Regarding Gareth Edwards’ future with the American Godzilla franchise, I really am at a loss as to what to think. It may well be visually stunning, but I worry about the story… and the love scenes…

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