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Review: The Day The Earth Stood Still and True Crime: Los Angeles

March 18, 2011

So the interview I had today went a lot better than I expected. But I’ll cover that later. Suffice it to say that I managed to not throw up or any number of other disgusting biological functions.

So, now that a good portion of you are disgusted, let’s get to the review! The Day The Earth Stood Still was made in 1951, and it still stands today as one of the foremost examples of the B-movie. A spaceship lands in the middle of the President’s Park Elipse, just south of the White House. Out comes Klaatu, saying he’s on a goodwill mission, but the army takes the Jim West approach to diplomacy: shoot first, shoot again, shoot some more, and then when everybody’s dead try to ask a question or two. One of the soldiers wounds him, and he busts the viewer that he brought for the President. His robot Gort gets pissed and disintegrates all the weapons.

They take him to an army hospital and put him under heavy guard, but he still manages to escape anyway. He gets to a nearby boarding house where he pretends to be a man named Mr. Carpenter. There he meets Helen Benson, a widow of World War II, and her son, Bobby. Naturally, being the loving parent she is, she leaves her son with the mysterious stranger who showed up the day that an alien ship landed.

The boy takes Klaatu/Mr. Carpenter to meet a notable scientist who happens to live nearby. He uses his super advanced alien science, finishing an advanced equation. He later explains to the professor that he is an alien who has come to present a message of peace, and if he can’t convince the world leaders to listen, “Earth will be destroyed.” And in order to get the people to listen, he temporarily shuts down all electricity on the planet, except for hospitals and planes. Unfortunately, this backfires and everyone on the planet is out for blood. Klaatu gets shot, Gort takes him back to the spaceship and brings Klaatu back to life, and he steps out of the ship and gives an anti-nuclear weapons speech. Film over.

Let me preface my thoughts by saying that I think the 2008 remake is one of the worst disservices ever done to the genre of science fiction. You have Keanu Reeves in a role that…forces him to show any kind of emotion, a giant CG robot, and an environmentalist message about as subtle as FernGully. I thought that this movie was very well done. Michael Rennie plays the lead opposite Patricia Neal, both of them very good actors, in a movie with a strong story about the then-omnipresent threat of nuclear war, and the special effects are well done for 1951. Being completely honest – this doesn’t deserve its reputation as a B movie. It’s a quality movie, well worthy of being an A movie, and deserving of being in any sci-fi fan’s film rotation.

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I’m going to keep the True Crime: Los Angeles review short, because I couldn’t even make it twenty minutes in. This game is horrible. Even though the game came out in 2004, it has graphics that would embarrass Deus Ex. I swear to god, I’m not exaggerating here. Here, this is what True Crime looks like:

And this is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, made the exact same year.

And this, just as a comparison is Deus Ex, made in 2000.

And the graphics aren’t even the most ridiculous thing. The controls, for example, are worse. Nick Kang has a turning radius of about fifteen feet and goes from “Guy shuffling along after just waking up” to “Usein Bolt” in a few seconds. The vehicles are much the same, only with the added problem of being able run people the fuck down. Did I mention that Nick is a police officer? Even so, the game is insultingly easy. There is no downside to flat-out killing suspects instead of arresting them, and if you accidentally squish some people with your car or hit some unfortunate targets with your guns akimbo, don’t worry! You only lose some of what I call karma points (because “good cop” points are just too damn stupid), and those can be easily regained. I went in hopeful about this game. I really, really wanted this to be good. But just…what the hell. It could have been good. It really could have. But as commonly happens, they didn’t put enough effort in. No one would try to make a game this bad.

In short, stay the fuck away from this game. Really, I mean it. It’s a terrible Grand Theft Auto clone, and if you’re that desperate for open ended urban gameplay, Just. Fucking. Play. Grand. Theft. Auto.

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