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Late August Clusterf**k Über-Review – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, The Fifth Element, Tycoon City: New York, Poker Night At the Inventory, Chrono Trigger

August 31, 2011

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is based on a novel (written in two parts for Rolling Stone magazine), itself based on two trips taken by Hunter S. Thompson and his lawyer, Oscar Zeta Acosta (going by the pseudonyms Raul Duke and Dr. Gonzo, respectively) into Las Vegas. The first, a job for Sports Illustrated to cover the Mint 400 desert race, quickly devolves into a festival of an array of drugs, alcohol, hallucination, paranoia, and the freakish neon of the American Sin City. The second trip, to cover the National DA’s Association conference on drugs for Rolling Stone, gets out of hand when Dr. Gonzo brings along a young lady named Lucy who he gave LSD while on the plane.

They put her up in a hotel before her trip ends, and do their best to avoid her while attending the speech about the dangers of marijuana and covertly doing cocaine. They head back to their hotel, where Gonzo deals with Lucy over the phone by pretending to be beaten by thugs while Duke tries to unwind by doing some of Gonzo’s adrenochrome, which turns him into a babbling, incoherent mess before collapsing.

He awakes to find the suite a shambles, a microphone wrapped around his head, and his recorder taped to his chest. He plays back the tape to discover what happened, and memories of his drug-fueled night come rushing back to him (including a heated argument with a diner waitress, convincing a cleaning lady that they were undercover officers investigating a drug ring, and his futile attempts to buy an orangutan). He drops Dr. Gonzo off at the airport, driving across the tarmac after missing the entrance, and heads off down the highway towards Las Vegas to finish his article. The film ends with Duke driving down a desert highway back to Los Angeles with the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” playing over the credits.

The movie is…it’s definitely different. I’ve always loved Hunter S. Thompson’s tone and the surreal kind of way he tends to look at life, and the film really brings that out. Johnny Depp does amazing work as Raoul Duke, showing the animated nature that would come out later with Capt. Jack Sparrow. Benicio del Toro does a great job as Dr. Gonzo, but I could never get invested in the character. The second half of the movie seems to drag a little, but that might just be because they don’t really explore Vegas as much as the first half. On balance, it’s a pretty good movie, but I’d advise you to read something of Thompson’s work before seeing it. If you like his writing, odds are you’ll enjoy the movie.

pressure on people, people on streets

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

A modern stoner film, Harold & Kumar is about two men, the titular Harold Lee and Kumar Patel. Harold works as an investment banker, while Kumar is at another medical school interview at the request of his father. He intentionally screws up the interview, not wanting to become a doctor in spite of his MCAT scores because, in his words, “Just cause you’re hung like a moose doesn’t mean you gotta do porn.”

After getting home, lighting up, and watching some TV, the two decide to head off for a deal at White Castle on a slider meal. The two quickly get sidetracked after finding out that their local White Castle had been taken over by a Burger Shack, with the drive through guy telling them of another White Castle in Cherry Hill. Out of weed and with his buzz fading, Kumar suggests they head to Princeton to try to find someone selling. Kumar gets his pot, at double the price he expected, but he loses it after a campus guard catches him smoking with Harold in the stairwell.

They continue their quest for White Castle, going through the hospital Kumar’s father and brother work in, a tow truck driver who goes by “Freakshow”, picking up a hitch hiking Neil Patrick Harris who steals Harold’s car, a police station after Harold accidentally punches a cop, a Hot Dog Heaven restaurant where they steal the obnoxious extreme sports guys’ truck, and a cliff where they hang glide down to the White Castle they’ve been trying to get to the entire movie.

My opinion of Harold & Kumar started a lot like my opinion of Hot Fuzz: I was never really interested in it until I caught it on Comedy Central one afternoon when nothing else was on. It makes for a pretty good rainy day movie.

help soldier celebrate his leave

The Fifth Element

Bruce Willis plays former special forces Major and current taxi driver Korben Dallas, in possibly one of the strangest science fiction moves to date. The “Perfect Being” has been recreated from the remains – a single gloved hand found in the wreckage of a Mondoshawan ship transporting it and the other four elements back to Earth. As it turns out, the perfect being takes the form of Mila Jovovitch. The Earth needs the elements, combined with the perfect being, to stop the Great Evil in its tracks, which takes the form of a giant fireball.

She escapes from the military facility almost immediately and crashes straight into the back seat of Korben’s taxi. He takes her to see the priests, who recognize her as the perfect being, and try to brush off Korben, but he won’t have it. He learns the girl’s name is Leeloo, shortly after waking her with a kiss and being held at gunpoint. He heads back to his apartment as the priests help her recuperate. She tells them that the box with the four elemental stones have been stolen by mercenaries.

Meanwhile, the mercs meet with the wealthy industrialist behind the attack, Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg, played by Gary Oldman. He had agreed to exchange four cases of a new weapon for the four stones, but the stones are gone. After a confrontation, he gives them one case for their trouble, counting on their not reading instructions. One of them presses a button on the side, blowing up all the weapons and their holders.

Back on Earth, General Munro enlists Korben in an attempt to get the stones back, getting him and Leeloo on a cruise ship to a resort planet, in the company of a radio personality Ruby Rhod, played by Chris Tucker. The mercenaries take over the cruise ship, and in a sequence similar to, I assume many in Die Hard, Dallas thouroughly and completely kicks their collective asses, liberating the ship. Korben and Leeloo find the stones, while Zorg realizes that all he found on the ship was an empty case. He goes back, turning off his time bomb to give himself time to search. However, one of the surviving mercenaries refuses to go out quietly, setting off his own bomb, destroying the ship and killing Zorg and the remaining mercenaries.

Dallas, Leeloo, and the priests escape on Zorg’s ship back to Earth and the Egyptian temple. They activate the stones, and Leeloo decides, after being shown what love is, that the human race is worth saving, and combines the power of the stones to release the divine light, stopping the great evil and causing it to go dormant, becoming a new moon orbiting the planet.

Like I said, the movie is a little weird. It’s also full of amazing cinematography, an all-star cast, an interesting story, and a good mix of humor and action. In fact, about the only thing wrong with it can be summed up in two words: Chris Tucker. I mean, my god. It’s nothing against Chris Tucker himself – Friday, Jackie Brown, The Rush Hour trilogy – all fine performances. But in this, he just comes off as obnoxious and annoying and I wanted to punch him.

i’ll be coming for you anyway

Tycoon City: New York

In Tycoon City: New York, the main objective is to build up New York City from scratch, starting in Greenwich Village. The game focuses mostly on building individual businesses and housing rather than zoning and public services like most of the SimCity games. But the real hook comes in with the public properties and landmarks you can upgrade and build respectively.

For instance, you can work on Central Park, build the Greenwich Church and Courthouse Library, even build the Empire State Building , or the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, the Twin Towers aren’t up for construction, having been replaced by Memorial Park, which can’t be owned or altered from its original state.

Even so, the game isn’t half bad. The graphics are good, and the voice acting is well done enough to have more than a couple of voices for everyone to share. The streets of New York are well recreated, and the overall game mechanic works well. For the ten bucks they’re charging on Atari’s site, it’s well worth it.

now we’re sharing the same dream

Poker Night At the Inventory

Have you ever seen those Texas Hold ‘Em tournaments they sometimes have on at like midnight, two in the morning? Imagine that with Strong Bad from the Homestar Runner cartoons, RED Heavy Weapons Guy from Team Fortress 2, hyperkinetic rabbity thing Max from Sam & Max, and comic author and self-described raconteur Tycho Brahe from Penny Arcade.

Now combine that with Telltale Games’ usual artistry and style with scripts, and what you end up with is a game where you’re playing poker with some of the internet’s greatest figures, and they talk to you. My favorite chatter, possibly because of my years reading Penny Arcade and the fact that I am a giant goddamn nerd, comes from Tycho, with his frequent references to D&D, video games, and technology in general. It’s fun, it’s hilarious, it’s worth it.

it’s not even ten and i’m busted again

Chrono Trigger

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I haven’t finished Chrono Trigger yet. I’m about ten percent of the way into the game, but I have been reading the Let’s Play by Coughing Hobo, and man is there ever a lot of time travel involved. In fact, from what I’ve read something like half the game is time travel, finding out where you need to be, and when, to get a certain item.

You play as Chrono, although you can choose to name him anything (his name is not DONGS). You start in 1000 AD, but you later gain the ability to travel to about four other time periods (five counting the end of time). But that’s not all! You also get to add to your party a rebellious princess, a young lady inventor, an amphibious fail knight, the female leader of an ancient cave tribe, and a former enemy who may or may not have caused his own evil tendencies through reckless use of time travel. But that’s still not all! You can also get a robot! That’s right, A MOTHERFUCKING ROBOT! And all the characters were designed by Akira Toriyama, the man behind Dragonball Z! What more do you want!?

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to play some SMOD Redux!

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One comment

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