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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Episode #33: Anything Can Happen on Halloween!

Part of the Orcca crew sits out for some well deserved rest and relaxation as we once again welcome your favorite Toy Blogger and ours, the one, the only, Poe Ghostal! This is the closest thing you guys are going to get to a Halloween episode as we run down some of our favorite Halloween TV specials, horror novels, supernatural somics and elder god infused rock songs. Michael brings us the first installment of his segment Book Busters and we get down to the nitty-gritty of what species can and can't speak Galactic Basic in the Star Wars universe! As if that wasn't titillating enough, we announce our first contest winner for a copy of  "The Incredible Hercules," and have more fun at the expense of Mattel's quality control when we discuss Roboto's reversed shoulders! All that and more on this very special orange-tinged Orccacast!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Review: DCUC Martian Manhunter and Raven

Yay! I mentioned it a few episodes ago on Lantern Corpsner and my power to make wishes a reality like that little kid in the episode 'It's a good Life' on the Twilight Zone, once again manifested itself at just the right time and DCUC 15 finally showed up!
I can't lie: I got overexcited and opened J'onn in the car before taking any pictures

I've been haunting our local Kmart for the past few weeks in hope of finding this wave and in a rare act of distribution competency Mattel managed to make these appear in our area. I mentioned wanting Martian Manhunter specifically on the show a few weeks ago so I was lucky to grab both him and Raven a few days ago, using the $5 off coupon circulating at the moment (this was before I was aware of the sale that let me complete the rest of Validus yesterday for a mere $2.92 a figure). So you knew it'd come to this at some point: an actual review. I'm not going to lie, I'm not the world's best photographer but maybe I can make up for the less than satisfactory quality of the pictures with the odd dick joke here and there




I have to say that the Horseman really knocked these two out of the park. They've captured the look of J'onn better than any other figure I've seen, including the much lauded original DC Direct figure. No faint praise considering that version is, almost a decade later, still considered one of the best figures to come out of the house that Georg built. From the arch of beetle-brow to tips of his buccaneer boots there's no problems to be had with the aesthetic of this figure at all.

Well, maybe one problem.

Apparently there was a mix-up at the factory with Mr. J'onzz's biceps. Some are coming with the intended large biceps, some with smaller biceps and some with a mix of the two. When buying J'onn originally I was only aware of the mixed sizes and ended up getting one with the pair of small biceps. Hence the gorgeous pictorial above. See? Educational as well as funny! The easiest way to spot the correct large ones is that they have veins so keep that in mind when you're trying to differentiate them without multiple Martians to compare.

Honestly, the small biceps don't bug me as much as the idea of the small biceps does. If the internet had left me unaware of the problem, I would have never noticed otherwise. The problem is repeated with Jemm though honestly I don't know how ripped he needs to look anyway. In fact, I suspect he was intended to have the smaller biceps in the first place. Since him and J'onn are based off the same buck, I think the small arms were meant to help set the two apart and the factory got confused with two sets of arms on similar figures. As it stands, Hawkman is more ripped then J'onn. I suspect Carter's arms are actually meant to be shared by him though. I don't have a large bicep from these to take that from, it's merely a guess. I've also heard of the ball shoulders having slight variations in that some are veined and some are not.
I promise he's not actually these colors, my novice photos just make him look that way

Anyway, J'onn here's been a long time coming and they really knocked him out of the park. His costume is translated beautifully and he's got a great head sculpt. It's just the right mix of pissed-off while still seeming approachable. He could be glowering at some criminals robbing the local orphanage or just beginning to smile since the poor schmucks have no clue what they're in for. Another good thing to point out is that in a tender mercy, he's in scale. This is something DCUC struggles with sometimes (The Teen Titans and their zany heights come to mind) so it's good to see that J'onn is appropriately taller than his Justice League brethren. That comes courtesy of his big boots though some have said they've given the illusion of overly long calves.

Her cape's the only thing in this wave taller than J'onn

Raven fares just as well. In fact, she's a front runner for best female figure in the whole line so far. Only poor, peg warming Powergirl comes close to the quality shown here. Raven (who I desperately wish had a "real" name so I could refer to her by something else) has some beautifully expressive hands at the tip of the normally very thin DCUC female arms. While I wish there was a little more variation in the females as far as sculpt goes, if all of them were more like my favorite Teen Titan here, I'd have little to complain about. There's a beautiful face underneath that hood, and I'd love to see a non-cowled version in the future (I love me some goofy variants; plus maybe they can pack her with a decent attempt at Starfire). Her simple costume came out great and I'm glad to see that they totally splurged on her cape which they'll never get another use out of again, excluding 'White Raven'.

Paint/Quality Control:
Wow, this is an excellent pair of figures for this. Our favorite Martian detective is mostly cast in his green color but any paint lines are clear and for once there's no slop. Raven fares just as well with the fine details of her face coming off just as great as the mostly painted details of her costume. Even her gloves, with the exposed thumb and finger, look great. You may have to look through a few but there are not many problems to find here. Great colors and fine, fine details for the two of them making them both stand out as great figures on your shelf. No stuck joints and a full range of motion make these two pretty much perfect as far as quality control goes though J'onn has a slight, slight bend to his right arm. Bicep confusion aside these two turned out great in a small showing of mercy after the wave 13 goofs. I know, it seems like we're Indiana Jones robbing that Fertility Idol at the beginning of 'Raiders', but the giant ball hasn't started to roll down to crush us yet. That comes with the other figures in the wave!
J'onn's huge brows are so well done, they're too much for me to photograph well

It's hard to find an angle that Raven doesn't look great from

There's not anything new here though both of these guys have pretty much all the range of motion you could want:
-Ball-jointed necks and shoulders
-Cut elbows, knees and ankles
-Swivel waists, biceps, wrists and thighs
-Ab crunch
They look great together, so much that I really want a comic where they team up now
Even with her thin (or is delicate more polite?) arms, Raven's got great motion and both of them have tight joints so they have no trouble holding poses.

Of all the figures in this wave, these are the two you can't go wrong with. Admittedly I put them together because they're who I happened to buy first but it doesn't hurt that they're both highly desired characters that have finally made it into the line. Though the Teen Titans barely match each other scale-wise, Raven can at least hang out with Cyborg (likely still hanging out at your local Target for those who missed him) and I'm praying they get around to a redo of Starfire. Martian Manhunter is the figure to help finish out the Justice League and though we still need Perez Zatanna and Elongated Man, J'onn's a big mark in the win corner for those who've been waiting. Points go to his bio for reminding me of a power I'd forgotten he'd had in the form of 'Martian Vision'. It's funny seeing them all laid out, it really leads credence to that bit in 'JLA: Earth-2' where J'onn smacks up Ultraman around Washington D.C., telling him he's got all the powers of Superman plus telepathy.

Raven gets a leg and J'onn here gets a severed, screaming head plus a disembodied crotch. I can't wait to buy a ton of MM for Toys for Tots, no joke.

They both come with parts of Validus, making the Jim Shooter villain the line's first Legion of Superheroes character. Also they come with buttons but Raven's is the first in a long time to have a decent image on it (art by George Perez doesn't hurt that's for sure). They're showing up at Kmart first so check there especially in light of the sale running through Sunday (and the coupon found here). While you're there, why not pick up Sinestro Corps Batman and Golden Pharaoh so we can preemptively keep them from clogging shelves from now until wave 18? I swear that Batman must be 3 or 4 to a case since I counted around 20 at my first discovery of this wave (to 7 Golden Pharaohs, 2 Ravens, 2 J'onns, 1 OMAC, 1 Jemm, and 6 Jack Knights). Remember, you need him since he's got the Validus torso!

Gy-gor's reenacting the ultimate fate of Morgan Katarn, not Hamlet

Stay tuned as I'll get to the others soon (though maybe I won't be so fast to get to OMAC and SC Batman). For now, look for these as they're definitely the best of the wave!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Reel Madness: 'A Serious Man' and 'An Education'

A month ago I finally got a chance to watch 'The Blind Side', my last holdout of this year's best picture nominees. This year was the first one enacting AAMPAS' new decision to have 10 nominees in the category, an attempt by the academy to be more inclusive of more genres. At least, according to them. My interpretation of it is that they're trying to make up for leaving out 'The Dark Knight' the year prior, in favor of nominating 'The Reader'.

Anyway, I was surprised by the quality of the choices overall. There's usually only one that I end up liking so I was surprised to see how well most of these turned out. I'm going to put down my thoughts on this, two at a time, because lord knows there's not enough Oscar talk in the world. Especially post-ceremony coverage. Why? Because I want to talk about the ones that made it in because of the new rules that were good as well as crab about the ones that would have made it in anyway because Oscar loves to avoid memorable choices (anyone remember 'Hope and Glory'? How about 'The Dresser'?)

This first part is going to be about the two nominees that I actually hated, mostly because I want to get them the hell out of the way.

Which brings me to 'A Serious Man'. It's a dead heat between it and 'An Education' for which movie I disliked more but I'm giving this one the edge because it's a comedy with no laughs. A dark comedy for that matter. What is a dark comedy with no laughs? I don't even know how to classify that properly. It's been a bumpy road for the Coen Bros. this decade, having some of their most unsuccessful movies since 'The Hudsucker Proxy' (Which is probably my second favorite movie they've done) as well as winning best picture for 'No Country for Old Men'. That success continued with the surprisingly high gross of 'Burn after Reading' a movie I still haven't watched in light of most everyone I've met not liking it. There's a lot of expectation on Joel and Ethan these days, though none from me as I pretty much despise 'No Country' as the pinnacle of deliberately impenetrable cinema. Maybe it's my problem with Cormac McCarthy. I don't know. Either way 'Serious' has a great cold opening that leads into a movie that spends an hour and a half telling you what every good worker in the service industry already knows: Life's a bitch.

We're supposed to find humor in just how awful the life of Larry Gopnik can get but, to me at least, there were no laughs to be found. Disasters heap upon him at the level of the most over-the-top student film about relationship problems and no matter what he does, it never gets better.  During the course of the film he commits acts both upright and reprehensible, with neither affecting whatever cosmic tribunal (the Coens I suppose) that decided his life should be should be so deliriously terrible.

A lot of the movie's comedy value is apparently expressed in that it's very keyed into Jewish culture, though where that shows up in the gag of a Jewish physics professor smoking a doobie I'm not sure. Maybe I should ask Danny. I wanted to forgive the Coens' for their last unfunny comedy I watched, 2005's 'The Ladykillers' remake, though I guess it's ironic that I got something that made me feel just as slighted as its main character. I'm dying to meet someone who liked this movie. Hell, I'm dying to meet someone's who's seen it. It exists in this weird little bubble where I can't recommend it to anybody because I didn't like it but I desperately want someone else to see it so I can at least get some other source of reflection on it. I've avoided reviews because they say things like "the kind of film you get to make once you've won an Oscar". What's that mean? I understand that the Coens' must have cared about making the movie as it's very good from a technical standpoint. The music and cinematography are excellent and there's little to complain about with any of the casting. It's just that the movie as a movie is joyless and unfunny outside of the first 5 minutes. I think a lot of the movie's praise comes from people being ashamed to admit that they just didn't get it. Rather than cop to that they give it a pass as being good while keeping as nebulous as possible in their reviews. It seems to have coasted on that praise all the way to the Oscars because the only other reason I can imagine it was picked was to balance out that there were 2 Sci-fi movies and a cartoon in the same category.

Or maybe I've just failed to recognize the movie's greatness. Either way I'm still looking forward to 'True Grit' later in the year despite disliking their last remake (though they claim 'Grit' is going to be closer to the book in that it follows Mattie Ross' viewpoint) and will likely look forward to other things by them in the future no matter how low their batting average gets in my mind. Not 'Astro City' though. Please please don't let them make Astro City.

'An Education' is next up, and it too started strong with an entertaining 10 minutes or so. After that though, it was pretty much completely downhill. When Jas relayed the summary of this to me I pretty much outlined every moment that I supposed would happen in the course of the movie, despite having only heard of it moments before when the nominations were announced. What's notable about that is it's based on someone's life story so you'd think it would've deviated at least a little.

In a word, it's about a British schoolgirl who falls in love with an older man before graduating from high school. There's a lot more to it than that but in fear of enticing people with the expectation of it being more interesting than it actually is, I won't continue. Nick Hornby wrote the screenplay and while I normally enjoy his writing, this project in particular is nothing special. It coasts on his name but there's very little to set it apart as truly outstanding; it's not bad by any means but it's not, in my opinion, worthy of the praise heaped on it. It's better than 'Serious' but I can't be sure if that comes from only a few of its characters being unlikable as opposed to all of them.  One thing they definitely had in common is they both featured protagonists that became steadily less likable as their run times went on which isn't a crime unto itself unless they also started out as uninteresting. In fact, main character Jenny Mellor is so unlikable by the end of the movie you end up feeling bitter towards the movie for allowing everyone to forgive her for being a heinous, insulting bitch and treating them like dirt. Her parents are amazing people, that much is clear and her teacher is a hero. By the end of the movie I'm pretty sure most of the characters could have immolated Jenny before throwing her off a cliff and they wouldn't be jailed in light of the Judge just hearing about how terrible the protagonist was.

It's strange in a way, the relationship between Jenny, her parents and her teacher make the film kind of a metaphor for the relationship between the Oscars, the film industry and the viewing public: they created it, we helped raise it and then there came a certain point where Oscar began to spit in our collective faces, telling us how what we were giving it wasn't good enough for its new, sophisticated desires. So it's going to run off to Cannes with some dashing but deceptive art film that doesn't turn out to be as memorable as it originally thought. Oh Oscar, I know you thought the bond between you and 'Shakespeare in Love' would last forever but you've moved on, haven't you? In some fashion you could look at this year's numerous nominees as something of an apology for threatening to never see us again so it could run off to Paris to be with 'Crash'. It still sneaks in a few things to show us how we weren't right about everything but we take it because we know it's the closest thing to an apology we're going to get. We still take them back no matter how many times it chooses to tell us how it's not wrong about 'Chicago' and we're just judging it because of its background.

So that's it for now; next time I'm going to cover two more of the movies though which ones I'm not sure yet. From now on things are a little more positive though I hope I've given someone out there some insight on these two, especially considering that they're the least watched of all the nominees. At least maybe someone else out there will have something to say to me about them, perhaps about what a troglodyte I am for not appreciating the dark comic witticisms of 'Serious' or the delicate treatment of a Teen girl at the crossroads of adulthood in 'Education'. Bring it I say, I’ve gone on for hours with people about how crazy I am for disliking 'No Country' so it's not like I dismiss other views on this sort of thing.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Episode #32: Creepy Guy Behind The Camera

The ORCCA crew dives into as many random topics as possible this week! We go from Transformers, to Zack Snyder, to Amy Jo Johnston.  We scry the Mattel offices for another exciting session of "Ask Matty" and Lantern Corps-ner lets us put a pretty little bow on the events of the past few weeks. Plus: Judge Joe Brown!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Get off my back man! #1: Action Comics #890-893

This is the first of what I guess is going to be a series of articles where I relent to someone pushing something on me that they'd think I'd enjoy. Why? Because it's on my mind and I get bored at work. A lot. They're not always going to be funny, but hopefully they'll all be interesting. First up? Paul Cornell's run on 'Action Comics' as recommended by Mike.

This cover's actually presenting a flashback or something.
3 months ago, I borrowed the first issue of Paul Cornell’s run on Action Comics and liked it; however not enough to continue with the title in light of the exhausting 2 and ½ years I’d just spent reading all the Superman titles. It had started with ‘New Krypton’, gone into ‘World without Superman’ and ‘Codename: Patriot’, culminating in ‘Last Stand of New Krypton’. Unfortunately, having multiple Kryptonians around would be more than a little inconvenient for future writers so it all collapsed into ‘War of the Supermen’ where New Krypton was destroyed, Supergirl lost her most interesting villain, and all the rogue plotlines were (mostly) wrapped up. Of all the titles that made up the ‘New Krypton’ saga I thought that Greg Rucka’s Nightwing and Flamebird stories in ‘Action Comics’ were consistently the most interesting. However, they did only sort of work as part of an event, one that didn’t have the overall quality of some of its individual components. That, in tandem with being burnt out on the Black Lanterns, didn’t make for a lot of enthusiasm towards keeping a $3.99 book on my pull list. Paul Cornell is always funny and charming in interviews and I’ve heard great things about ‘Captain Britain and MI-13’ but frankly, I already have one of the stereotypical Comic buyer bad habits: buying a title in the hopes that it’s eventually going to become interesting again (Which ones you may ask? Secret Six, I’m looking at you. Yeah, I said it, though that’s an article for another time I think).

However, Mike’s been singing the praises of this run non-stop since the start, letting me know that I’m missing out in a big way. He assured me that while he did enjoy the first issue much more than I did, I would be missing out if I didn’t continue with the book

Cool but apparently people were expecting Bizarro to show up. Sorry, he's in 'Supergirl' right now.
Turns out, he was right. Despite being turned off by the circumstances of Mr. Mind’s appearance at the end of the first issue (spoilers!), #891 was a startling improvement. Detailing Luthor’s struggle to remand control of his own subconscious, the insight we’re given into him during these pages alone covers everything you need to know about where the character has been while demonstrating all the kinds of places he could be going. Geoff John’s has had quite a few great moments with Lex over the last few years (one in particular from the recent Adventure Comics #6 comes to mind) this one issue distills the power of those moments into 40 pages of pure awesome. It’s a breathless run through how Luthor sees himself, laid out wildly in ways such as a Wild West showdown. 

This panel is all you need to see to know this issue's awesome

"How DARE you eat the last of the Rocky Road! It was clearly labeled in the fridge!"
#892 has a slight dip in the momentum set up by its predecessors, but it’s only to better detail the nature of what Lex’s current endeavor. Deathstroke appears, guiding Luthor to a repository believed to contain some of the energy left over from the appearance and subsequent dissipation of the Black Lantern constructs (not zombies, constructs). We get some more insight into how Luthor treats his peers in the field of professional jerks as well as more fun with him thinking on his feet. The ‘battle’ shown on the cover actually demonstrates a lot of how Lex relates to his employees as well. It’s an interesting issue but not quite as flashy as the two that bookend it. Mike assures me that Cornell has made much of this issue’s importance to the future of the storyline, so it’s likely to have a great payoff down the line. As it is, it’s a hard one to discuss without spoiling most of the content within.

Grodd's got his spoon but the title card is blocking it. It'd have been great if they put 'second course' there next to Jimmy wouldn't it?
This brings us to #893, which may have my favorite single page of any story this year. Grodd and his “battle spoon” are both terrifying and hilarious, so well rendered in a splash by guest artist Sean Chen that I can only envy the person who ends up having the original art. Cornell doesn’t shy away from Grodd’s man-eating tendencies but he also makes them work for the story so it seems less gratuitous when we see the big Ape chowing down on a jarred cerebellum. There’s also an absolutely genius bit where we get to see how Luthor thinks of himself in relation to his entourage, one of my favorite double takes in ages. The story really starts to heat up here and I’m definitely looking forward to the resolution of the cliffhanger presented here.

The cover that launched a thousand angry Vertigo blog posts

Soon #894 will be out, the much heralded appearance of Neil Gaiman’s Death in the DCU proper for the first time. Folding the Endless, Constantine and Swamp Thing (back) into the normal Earth-1 universe is pretty controversial and it remains to be seen if people are going to accept it. Death is a pretty high profile choice to do it with since Morpheus originally interacted with Mr. Miracle and Martian Manhunter before ‘the Sandman’ became a Vertigo book proper and ‘Hellblazer’ was originally a DC book. Swamp Thing existed a decade or so before Vertigo was even thought of. I’m not sure how it’s going to be taken by the hardcore Vertigo fans who were so incensed at the decision to reintegrate certain books from their universe, but it’s definitely going to be interesting finding out. Mike’s right though: if you’re interested in this book, beat the rush before #894’s released. The book’s going to go absolutely nuclear then and anyone not onboard already is going to be left empty handed until the inevitable 2nd printings. 

Speaking of 2nd printings, here's the one for #890!
 I’d also be remiss not to mention Nick Spencer’s 1st installment of the Jimmy Olsen 2nd feature. In just a few pages you get a great setup that’s got an uncanny grasp on taking all the Silver Age craziness of Olsen’s old title and making it effortlessly relevant. There was a time when Jimmy went on time traveling adventures as casually as we put on our socks so making something as crazy as those old books work now is no mean feat; just thinking about how the train wreck that was ‘Countdown’ attempted to pay tribute to them still makes me feel embarrassed, for both me and it’s writers. Trust me, the Jimmy Olsen story is almost worth the $3.99 alone.

This is the variant for #894. Purty, huh? I think it's also the first one that has anything to do with Lex actually being in the comic.

#894 will be released the week after next so if you run by your LCS this week, keep an eye out for #890-893 if you’re interested.   

Monday, October 18, 2010

Episode #31: Line Drive For A Touchdown!!

It's time for another top 10 list: our top 10 cartoons from the 80's and 90's! There are more then a few surprises including just how much most of missed poor old Dinobot. I hope you're ready to hear everyone who remembered Beast Machines complain about how awful it was! Plus listen to us go on about the Disney afternoon for at least an hour and freak John out with the fact that the Tick was a cartoon before it was a live action show! Sentimentality abounds in this installment of the ORCCAcast!

McKellan Ducktales

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Special 4: Spectacular Summer Movie Wrap Up Spectacular!

So summer ended a few weeks ago and we've now gotten all the grosses we need to tally up just how disastrously off we all were when we made our predictions back at the end of April! We all said it was going to be a weak summer but we didn't exactly know how weak, that's for sure. Frankly, none of us are going to complain since 'Eclipse' came nowhere close to being the highest grosser for the season and there were plenty of surprises to be had, both in what we wanted to see and what we tried to avoid. GASP at the obscene numbers we offer! JEER with us at the Last Airbender again!  RECOIL in disgust at what the Alien Face-hugger really symbolizes even if it's not mentioned in the episode! MARVEL at our resilience in the face of defeat as we face forward at the thought of next summer's offerings!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My fantabulous review of Metroid: Other M!

I've now made my way completely through Team Ninja's take on the Metroid franchise and after initially being very hostile towards it I can say this: Team Ninja, it's important that you tried.

In the meantime, I'm going to break this down into parts in standard review fashion.

Gameplay/Control (because they're more important then graphics so nyah):
Translating an established franchise to a new dimension is a daunting task these days and Team Ninja did give it the good old college try. Eschewing the first person viewpoint of the Prime series, those at Project M tried to go for a rough semblance of how this franchise would have been if 3-D technology had existed from the dawn of videogames. That is to say, by semblance, I mean a clunky pastiche of two different perspectives that are necessary to awkwardly switch through to proceed in the game. The majority of your time you're going to be running around in a sort of 2.5-D as Samus makes her way through 3-D environments with somewhat manageable 2-D styles of control by way of the D-pad on the Wiimote when you're holding it sideways. The rest of your time in the game is going to be swinging the Wiimote around to point directly at the screen so you can fire missiles, hoping that the need for doing so isn't going to come up when a boss is about to swallow you whole. Needless to say, switching the orientation of the controller isn't the smoothest of ways to transition control and it often ends up with you wasting a missile before an gigantic claw smashes you to the ground. The major irritation that comes from this is that Other M is not a particularly challenging game; most of the difficulty you're going to experience from it is related to this strange control scheme. In tandem with the intentional choice of there being no energy or missile pickups the game seems like an odd fit with it's predecessors.

On paper a lot of this game's great, foremost of those qualities being the visuals. It looks better then pretty much anything else that's been released on the Wii and maintains multiple effects with virtually no slowdown. It's an undeniably gorgeous looking game but you'd expect nothing less from Team Ninja as graphics are very much their specialty. Sadly they're very much smoke and mirrors meant to distract you from the numerous flaws that are present in the game. More tragic then that is that it seems to have worked with most people. All the characters look right, excusing the awkward appearances of some of the minor soldiers without their helmets on. There's not much else to say about the graphics: in a word, excellent.

Wow, this is the big one. This game is without a doubt, the single greatest argument that Nintendo should stick to their own style and not make attempts at emulating that of others. This is the first major franchise Nintendo game that has Voice-over and Cinematics which is a grand change for the Big N. Sadly, it falls flat on it's face. The voice actress for Samus is pretty wooden and fails to make you care about anything she's going through, which is further emphasized by the somewhat ridiculous nature of the story. There wasn't a single surprise in the games plot other then the number of threads they chose not to resolve. We never find out exactly what 'Other M' stands for which is unusual in a game that hammers you over the head with 'subtle' touches like Samus emotionally collapsing when Ridley shows up. We've got an idea, but in light of everything else in the game being about as discreet as a building collapsing on top of you, it seems strangely absent. There's another mystery involving an assassin on board the ship that we never get any resolution on, outside of an updated character profile in the exploration that follows defeating the final boss.

Whereas prior games haven't made a gigantic deal out of Samus being a woman, that's front and center here to the point of absurdity. Team Ninja has a certain reputation in relation to gender equality and considering that one of the FMV's visually compares Samus' emotional state to that of a terrified, crying child you can probably guess what it is. It's a good thing the burly Galactic Federation Soldiers are around to show Samus how to keep those bothersome emotions in check, lest her being a woman prevent her from saving the universe and all. Everything in the game seems to be a metaphor for something, a Freudian field day for those who don't think women can function without strong male figures in their life. When it doesn't touch on that, it focuses on some awkward motherhood element perhaps best embodied by the fact that the game takes place on a "bottle ship" that's emitting a "baby's cry distress signal". The game's strange sexism is likely best embodied by the fact that Samus starts the game with 95% of her powerups; the Grapple Beam, the Shinespark, the Super Missiles they're all here. Rather then using the franchise standard of severe suit damage taking these spectacular abilities away, Samus decides not to use them so she can show her former commanding officer she's capable of following orders.

I'll let that sink in for a second.

Yes, even though she's no longer under his command in an official capacity, Samus decides that she shouldn't use her equipment until she's given permission. This is especially ridiculous when you enter an environment where you're constantly taking damage UNTIL you're told it's OK to activate the Varia Suit. Strange, considering that the only benefits of the Varia Suit are non-offensive. It's like walking around without shoes until someone tells you it's fine now, after having already crossed a field of broken glass, you can handle the big responsibility of footwear. Additionally, the huge proliferation of cinematics makes the game seem longer then it really is; with them removed, actual playtime is somewhere around 8 hours.

I'd hesitate to recommend this game to anyone but the most dedicated Metroid fans and even then it'd be with a grain of salt, as it's pretty detrimental to the character of Samus. Most people seem to be agreeing with the fact that the attempt at a cinematic style is an overall failure but I guess it's one they're willing to accept if it means they can get their Zelda by way of Lord of the Rings they've been thirsting for ever since voice over became the industry standard. People want it BADLY and they've been very vocal about Link talking ever since they saw the cartoony style of Windwaker.

I'd like to think that if Nintendo's going to try and get more ambitious with their storytelling they should experiment with it in house as opposed to going through a third party. It's easy to see why they tried this with Metroid first though; at this point it's far too awkward a fit for Mario and people would DESTROY a Zelda game if it exhibited a similar failure to engage. That's a sad place for Metroid to be in: well-known, but not popular enough to cause a total fan meltdown if it has any failed experimentation. It's not a complete disaster but that's sort of rationalizing Zach Snyder directing Superman with the fact that it's not Paul W.S. Anderson.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Episode #30: Snickerdoodle? I Hardly Know Her!

Today on the show we've got special guest Nikol Hasler of "Real American Family" and "The Midwest Teen Sex Show" fame! Even with the release of her book Sex: A Book for Teens, Nikol has had a prolific career creating content for websites such as the Onion A.V. Club and, contributing a relationship and sex advice column! Nikol sticks around for the whole show so you get to hear what it's like for a normal person to be exposed to such thrilling and evocative discussions, like Lantern Corps-ner, and the sophomore session of Parliament! As well as a brand new original song by our very own Jaysun Lynch, extending his Baltimore trilogy of songs! Will she love it or will we frighten her away forever? Find out in the 30th episode of ORCCAcast: Snickerdoodle? I Hardly Know Her!