Sunday, November 19, 2006

King Kong Extended Edition

The skinny: Believable and grand without going over the top.

Never having seen the original theatrical version, I can't make any comments or comparisons between the two so everything is based on the extended edition that was just released. Clocking in at over three hours and twenty minutes and spanning two DVDs(for the movie, with a 3rd bonus disc), this movie was a marvel to watch from beginning to end. Every scene felt full of life and detail, even down to small things like bugs, debris, and even the scars and wounds upon the gargantuan ape himself. It seems no expense was spared when it came to special effects and CG for this film, but rightly so after director Peter Jackson proved his worthiness in the visual tour-de-force that was the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The musical score fit the on-screen action quite well, and like the film pays homage to the original 1933 film upon which it was based. This edition is well worth the price tag as it includes plenty of bonus features like commentary, outtakes, trailers, featurettes, and even a short film named The Present that was created by the cast, much like the crew of Lord of the Rings did during their filming. The only things I would have liked to see added to this would be a DTS version of the audio track and more inside the packaging than just the menu navigation layout.

Rating: 4.5

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wii! It's the PS3!

The holiday season is nearly upon us and two of the top items on many peoples' lists are about to be unleashed upon the store shelves.  The first official PlayStation 3 units arrived late Thursday night at a launch event in San Francisco to much fanfare and under lots of security.  Similar lines of scalpers and eager fans are to be found in the Phoenix metro area as well.  I had a chance to snicker at their geekyness as I stopped at Wal-Mart tonight to pick up a few more essential items than the group of a dozen or so shivering young guys camping outside by the pay phones were planning on buying at midnight.  I asked the cashier as I was checking out and she told me they had been waiting outside for about 31 hours total at that point.  I wonder how many of those units will end up for sale on eBay... at the moment, there are quite a few fetching between $2k and $3k, with some listed at $5k or even $10k in the instant "Buy It Now" auctions.  (See the screenshot below.)

eBay auction sample

It's insanity at it's worst, but it's also lots of free publicity for Sony as well.  (My advice is to use Playstation Finder instead.)  Honestly, nothing in the launch lineup of games really catches my eye as a must-play game, so I can wait... until the Wii comes out, that is.  This Sunday is the launch date for the new Nintendo system with the odd name which will have a significantly larger availability and even comes bundled with the 5-in-1 Wii Sports disc, which from the early reviews sounds like a lot of fun and shows off the great potential and innovation of the system and controllers.  The much more affordable price tag will probably also keep sales of the system brisk during the holidays and help make a big comeback for Nintendo, which seemed to play a distant third place in the console wars of the last generation behind the Xbox and PS2.  Another plus for people like me is the backwards compatibility of the Wii with the GameCube games like the Zelda and Metroid games, never having owned that system but wanting to play those games, this functionality lets me have the best of both worlds.  Hopefully that ability will fare better than Microsoft's Xbox360, which only plays about 200 of the 700 legacy games and early reports of the PS3 are at about 200 incompatible games.  On top of that, they're planning on releasing the game libraries of old systems like the NES and TurboGrafx (w00t!!) for download so us "older" gamers can get nostalgic and play some great 8-bit and 16-bit classics like Double Dragon and the original Legend of Zelda.

Both new game consoles have a long way to catch up to Microsoft's offering, the Xbox360, which already has about one year's head start and a good amount of hardware and software now available.  No matter who eventually makes it to the top, it will definitely be a big and exciting holiday season this year.  Bring on the games!