Friday, November 30, 2012

Reality Check: The Darker Sides of Skyfall

Spoiler Warning: This post contains significant spoilers for Skyfall. Please do yourself a favour and see the movie before you read any further to avoid being spoiled.

It's been a little while since my glowing review of Skyfall and I've had a bit more time to ruminate on the film. I stand by my claims that it's among the best Bond movies ever made as well as one of the best films of 2012. In fact I'd go so far as to say it's the most beautifully shot film of 2012 and worthy of praise on "Best Cinematography" lists for years to come. Roger Deakins truly outdid himself with Skyfall and movie lovers would do well to see it strictly for the camera work in the third act, with the rest of the legitimately awesome aspects of the film serving as mere silver-lining.

However, all that said, I do want to add to my review by recognizing some of Skyfall's flaws. None of these were issues that escaped me when I wrote my review, but in trying to avoid spoilers I necessarily had to eschew delving into many of them. Also I wanted that piece to convey my overall sense of satisfaction with the film, and nitpicking it to death wouldn't have helped me do so. Finally, the most damning critique I'm going to level against Skyfall was something that simply took some gestation time to really come together. It began with a sense of unease as the final scene of the film played out, and has evolved to a serious concern that exists at odds with my overall affection for the film.

I'm going to start with my more mundane criticisms of Skyfall, as I feel there are a lot of problems with the movie that don't really detract from what it's trying to do. For one thing the third act -- which I have repeatedly praised -- feels more than a little out of place. It completely disrupts the flow of the movie and more or less shelves a good proportion of the plot, never to be heard from again. What happened with the chaos Javier Bardem had unleashed on western covert operatives, and specifically the British government? Are we to believe that his plan included letting MI6 capture all of his actual computer records/servers such that he had no additional copies of the list of undercover agent identities? All of that is secondary to Skyfall's focus on thematic structure, but the fact that the film left those holes open speaks ill of its script. It feels like the movie expects us to forgive it for this, either because it's a James Bond movie or because the third act so effectively forefronts the themes as plot, and while all that's true it still feels like the whole thing could have been tightened up a bit.

Specifically focusing on the third act, it more than just disrupts the plot, rather it's a whole other freakin' movie. Where everything before they head to Scotland is distinctly Bond, the sequence at Skyfall feels like the bastard child of Home Alone and the last scene in Unforgiven played in reverse. It's just plain weird to try to watch James Bond make lightbulb-bombs and load shotgun shells into the floorboards, but that doesn't mean it isn't awesome all the while. I absolutely loved the whole sequence; one friend put it perfectly when they said "This is what happens when you let Sam Mendes make a Bond movie," and it's true that everything in Scotland feel like something straight out of Road to Perdition. It's awesome but it felt distinctly out of place in the context of everything that precedes it. Obviously I wasn't bothered, but I think it's a legitimate concern to wish they had tightened up the script to feel more cohesive and consistent. Again this is an issue with Skyfall's script as opposed to its execution, and I feel like the way the whole movie played out on screen more than made up for such deficiencies.

On the other side of that spectrum we have Albert Finney's character, who stands out like a sore thumb in terms of Skyfall's execution. If that old scotsman wasn't meant to be played by Sean Connery then I have no business writing film criticism. Even during my first viewing I could just feel that the character was a stand-in for Connery as the physical embodiment of the old Bond, and that idea is frankly awesome. If the casting had worked out it would have made the whole Skyfall sequence feel so perfect and thematically in tune, although I think they did a damn good job of it despite the obvious lack of the original James Bond. Part of me did wish they'd found a way to handle it better though, at the very least to make up for the casting failure. I never, never want to see Roger Moore again (on film or otherwise) but even he could have made the character work better. As it was Finney was totally competent but uncomfortably out of place in a role that he was clearly not meant to play.

Moving away from criticisms of the third act, I've heard a lot of comparisons between Skyfall and the Dark Knight. I can see why people would compare the two as the plot similarities are undeniable. Bardem's villain also has extremely similar objectives, and on a superficial level he even has a twisted Joker-smile of sorts. In fact I was almost taken out of the movie when I realized that the big twist in Bardem's plan was exactly the same as Joker's in The Dark Knight. It's a testament to Skyfall's overall quality that this aping of The Dark Knight's plot didn't completely derail the movie; between Bardem's cool creepiness, the third act standoff, all the Bond franchise flourishes, as well as Deakins' aforementioned superb cinematography, Skyfall manages to carve out its own identity and even surpasses The Dark Knight in certain ways. Both are great movies, but the similarities are hard to ignore and do take away from Skyfall a bit.

*Sigh* And now it's time to get to my real problem with Skyfall, the big misogynist elephant in the corner that has slowly been sapping my enthusiasm about the latest Bond movie. I felt it in the theatre as I watched Bond walk through the leather door and up to the desk of a male M, the first time I'd seen such a sight in a new Bond movie. At the time I just shrugged it off, but upon further reflection and after a number of discussions with friends I feel it's impossible to ignore the sense that Skyfall feels like a major step backwards in terms of its sexual politics, even for a Bond movie. But lets work through that statement by inspecting each of the three main female characters in the movie: Sévérine, Eve, and Judi Dench's M.

First off, lets address the seriously problematic character of Sévérine. You probably know her better as "that hot asian chick Bond bangs," since she's barely given anything resembling a character before being carelessly executed without even a moment of reflection. In fact, shy of her physical characteristics, the closest thing we get to a characterization of her is that she's afraid and a (possibly former) sex slave. I don't know if the filmmakers threw in that last reference to make us sympathize with her or to hint at their ultimate treatment of the character, but pretty much her only roles in the film are to movie the plot forward and get naked. It can't be stressed enough that Bond's ultra-creepy sneak-up-on-her-in-the-shower-for-surprise-sex move is not acceptable, and is hopefully among the traditional vestiges of the past that are thematically shrugged-off over the course of Skyfall. The problem is that there's nothing to justify such a reading within the film, and in fact it seems like the opposite is true. Bond's "return-to-form" moment comes after Bardem executes Sévérine, a move which poises her as an object.tool of his evolution/development at the script level. There is a potential argument that Bond couldn't express remorse while under fire, and that in fact his transformation back into a competent agent comes as a result of Sévérine's death impacting him severely and thereby telegraphing his need to "be Bond" again. However I don't think there's much justification for this in Skyfall, and on the contrary it does seem like the movie uses her as a traditional Bond girl/narrative device/sex slave. So that sucks, to start with.

Now lets consider Naomie Harris' "Eve," AKA Moneypenny. I love Harris in everything she does, and I both saw the Moneypenny reveal coming a mile away and loved the fact that they chose such a competent actor for the role. But that said, the mind reels at the sexual political implications of her turn from field agent to secretary. As Eve she initially seemed like a wonderful breath of a fresh air, a female agent at Bond's level who's totally fucking awesome to boot. But then her character is systematically undermined as an incompetent weakling over the course of the film, well-intentioned but better off as eye-candy behind a desk. The film went out of its way to make a callback to Casino Royale with the "don't touch your ear" show of incompetence, and the only purpose of this in Skyfall is to demonstrate how bad Eve is at being a field agent compared to Bond. On top of that there's the whole "she accidentally shoots England's best secret agent" thing. Clearly the filmmakers did not want us to have a lot of faith in her competence, for the exact purpose of making it seem rationale and acceptable that she doesn't want to be a field agent anymore. Of course that makes "common" sense, some people (i.e. women) just aren't suited for it, right James? I suppose all of this could be seen as conjecture, a feminist-oriented over reading of a Bond film to try to find a sexist undertone that isn't really there. Only they follow up that development with the reveal that she's taking a desk job as M's secretary. For fucking real? They literally chain her to a traditional gender role in a movie that's explicitly about updating the past to make it suited for and relevant in the present day. As I said, the mind reels at the implications, and it's a serious knock against the movie that it re-institutes the traditional gender dynamics that the Bond franchise has long been (rightly) critiqued for.

And that's without even beginning to touch upon the whole M thing.

I'll start by saying that Judi Dench is in characteristically badass form in Skyfall. There's nothing wrong with her or her character in any way that I've noticed/care to consider, and my only regret it that she's exited the franchise. Partly that's because I'm going to miss her as she's an absolute pleasure to watch onscreen, but it's also because I'm not totally comfortable with going back to a male M. As I mentioned in my initial review, Goldeneye was my introduction to the Bond franchise and so my knowledge of earlier Bond films/tropes has come via films that have always seemed (to me) like relics of the past. This includes the positively rampant misogyny of earlier Bond films, and part and parcel with that trend was the institutional structure of MI6 with Moneypenny as the sole female and secretary for Bernard Lee's male M [Aside: implicit in this entire argument is the fact that I don't believe for a second the contemporary Bond films have completely shed their misogynist roots. Also, I would love to see a Bond film that passed the Bechdel test, and if I've somehow missed that one already exists please let me know].

Skyfall presents the first time I've seen a male M in a new movie, and from that perspective the sight of Bond walking through the leather door into Ralph Fiennes' office felt like a step back into the literal and figurative past. I was (and continued to be) extremely conflicted about it: on the one hand I ate up the way the franchise's classic elements were re-instituted in Skyfall's final scene, bringing back the classic Bond in a viscerally satisfying way; on the other hand it felt like those elements brought back the old, unpleasant gender dynamic implications they always had. I'm not sure if this was more a result of how the movie brought back Moneypenny and a male M as much as it might be inherent in those concepts, but either way the end of Skyfall felt both like a return to form and a regression to problematic politics. I'll be curious to see how future Bond movies handle the reintroduced elements, as I could easily see Moneypenny being used less as a mere secretary and more as a sort of body guard, but that doesn't take away from the reduction of her role to one distinctively less than Bond and M as the more important men of MI6. As compared to Judi Dench's positively badass introduction in Goldeneye, which felt every bit like a defiant rejection of what had come before (particularly the "your predecessor kept some Cognac" exchange), Skyfall feels like reestablishment of the old guard. Finnes character and performance don't themselves do anything to add to this, but the cumulative impact of him replacing Dench after she's killed off, in addition to how Skyfall puts Moneypenny in the corner behind the desk, makes the film seem like a major step backwards in how the franchise treats women. It's even more surprising that Skyfall does this so potently given that it's a Bond movie, a designation that on its face seems synonymous with patriarchal gender hierarchies on film.

In updating the franchise for the modern day, Skyfall somehow manages to make it seem more out of place than ever in terms of its sexual politics. That's a notably unfortunate achievement that shouldn't be ignored in the face of how successful Skyfall nevertheless is as a film.

Anyway, that's my two cents on the problems with the film. I maintain that it's an incredible movie that stands among the best of 2012, and more than that one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen. Period. I just wish it had done all that while maintaining a tighter script and (more fundamentally) without appearing to reinstitute the traditional gender dynamics that the Bond series seemed to have grown beyond (or at least partially ameliorated) during what we can unfortunately now refer to in the past tense as "the Dench years." Hopefully the next one will be able to at least match Skyfall and also gain back some ground on the progressive gender portrayal spectrum. All we know for sure is that "James Bond will return."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Facebook Law

College Humour has put together an amusing video explaining why all those "For the Record: I hereby declare..." Facebook statuses you've likely been seeing on your newsfeed. I was a particular fan of the inclusion of the Rome Statute, which (as my International Law class recently learned) gives the International Criminal Court jurisdiction over war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, and aggression. Whoever originally wrote the block of text that's being passed around willy-nilly clearly had a good sense of humour.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Few Quick Thoughts on the Rob Ford Thing

Note: If you're not invested in the local politics of Toronto, Ontario (it's in Canada) then you can probably tune out now.

Those of you still reading will have no doubt heard by now that Mayor Robert Ford was removed from office this morning for contravening the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act [aside: today is probably the most traffic Ontario's e-laws website has ever gotten]. Justice Charles Hackland suspended the verdict for two weeks in recognition of the major administrative changes the decision necessitates for the City of Toronto. However, the plain truth of the matter is that "the seat of the respondent, Robert Ford, on the Toronto City Council, [is] vacant" (paragraph 61 of the decision, available here).

This is a pretty surprising decision. As numerous outlets discussed this morning, Justice Hackland didn't have a lot of options in terms of his decision. Add to that the fact that Ford painted himself into a corner at trial by "pleading incompetence" (in the words of Matt Gurney), and the inadvertence / good faith error in judgment option was pretty much (though admittedly not entirely) off the table. However, what we ultimately got still seemed like the least likely of the choices open to Hackland.

Reading through the decision, the finding that Ford's actions constituted a conflict seems pretty solid. It's boring and technical and dense, but that's the nature of the administrative law territory that we're in with a municipal conflict of interest question. So if he contravened the Act then the only outs for Ford are via inadvertence, a good faith error in judgement, or the amount involved being "remote or insignificant in nature." As the decision and Gurney's "pleads incompetence" piece above demonstrate, the inadvertence defence is definitely inapplicable here and the good faith error route seems unlikely too.

So that leaves the section 4(k) defence that the amount was insignificant, and at only $3150 that seems like a pretty reasonable assessment (when you consider the Mayor's salary). Dealt with in just four short paragraphs (41 - 44), Hackland's finding that the amount was significant to the Mayor seems like the one major blindsport in the decision. The finding is based on Fords comments to City Council, which immediately places it on shaky ground. From a statutory interpretation perspective, there's absolutely no analysis of what could "reasonably be regarded as likely to influence" Mayor Ford, which should be the driving force in any determination of whether the saving provision applies. Additionally, putting the focus on Ford's comments directs the focus away from the pecuniary nature of "the interest" and into the distinctly political territory of what Rob Ford actually values. Granted, what I've just cursorily written is an off-the-cuff and suspect legal-ish analysis, but at the end of the day Hackland's decision on Ford's section 4(k) defence is minimal at best. It presents the most obviously viable option for Ford's inevitable appeal, and that's really what I wanted to get to in all this...

Mayor Ford is going to appeal Hackland's decision, which will almost certainly be stayed pending the outcome of that appeal. I'd be shocked if anything different happened (even moreso than if the appellate court ultimately upheld Hackland's verdict). has a pretty good run down on the possible paths this whole thing could take in the coming days, but I think they overestimate the likelihood of Ford not getting a stay of the decision pending appeal. As acknowledged in the decision at paragraphs 46 and 47, the Act has been criticized as "Byzantine" in how the only order available in the case of a conflict is the "sledgehammer" remedy of removal from office (the aforementioned saving exceptions notwithstanding). It would be exceedingly unusual if Ford's inevitable motion for a stay was rejected. Whether or not he can get it in the fourteen days available, that's a bit of a murky question. But if he can get it in front of a court fast enough then he's almost guaranteed a stay, and that means the whole "Ford's out!" reaction that's been sweeping social networks is likely getting ahead of itself.

Again I'd also be surprised if the decision wasn't ultimately overturned on appeal. The analysis of Ford's section 4(k) defence seems pretty suspect, and I wouldn't expect it to hold up to scrutiny. But then I was also betting that Hackland wouldn't oust Ford in the first place, so what do I know? This morning's verdict came as a surprise, time will tell if more are to follow.

In any case, let's also take a moment to reflect on the ramifications of this decision. Regardless of your feelings about Mayor Ford (I'm a cyclist so you should be able to guess mine), it doesn't exactly feel vindicative to have him removed from office on a technicality. That's not to take away anything from the finding of a conflict, on the contrary I think it's well founded. But the fact that it's sufficient to remove him from office may lean in favour of arguments against the structure of the Act, and the nature of the City of Toronto institution. The decision will most certainly be used in this manner (regardless of its validity), with Ford's next platform inevitably sounding something like "Detangle the mess of rules," or "Straighten out the sticklers to get things done," or "[Insert witty 'Gravy Train' reference here]." Even if Ford is ultimately removed, this method of doing so gives him or his successor that convenient pariah platform to run on, just as he did (successfully) last time. Claim all the rule of law moral high ground you want, at the end of the day this way of getting him out of office will only widen the divide between his supporters and his opposition in a way that a democratic ousting by voters never would.

So Ford has received a pretty severe slap on the wrist. Was it deserved? Yes and no, and we'll see what an appellate court does with that. Will it matter? Maybe, but hopefully only in a positive sense of making accountability and professionalism important qualities in City of Toronto politics. Hopefully not by giving Ford a new platform or exacerbating the political disenfranchisement he was able to ride in on in the first place. Time will tell.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Skyfall: Goldeneye Redux

I'm going to start this review off by dating myself in saying that my first experience of the James Bond franchise was Martin Campbell's 1995 classic Goldeneye. As the first Bond film after the fall of the USSR, Goldeneye was explicitly about whether or not the Cold War era icon could exist in a post-Soviet world. It was a brilliantly layered piece of meta-cinema that enamoured me with both the Bond franchise and film generally. It's no surprise then that I so thoroughly enjoyed Skyfall, as in many ways it's as near a remake of Goldeneye as we're likely to see on screen.

Skyfall is once again a meta-narrative about James Bond's continued relevance in the modern world. Just as Campbell's Goldeneye did in 1995, Skyfall reiterates that Bond may be an old hand but he's definitely not ready to be retired. Curiously, the 2006 reboot of the Bond franchise, Casino Royale, was also a movie that reasserted the franchise's ability to entertain after The Bourne Identity shook up the spy genre in 2002. That makes (count em) three Bond movies in the last two decades that are broadly about the concept of whether or not James Bond is still a fertile source of storytelling. I'd also go so far as to say that the three films in question are not only the best the franchise has had to offer since the fall of the Berlin wall, but moreover among the best Bond movies ever made. Maybe it says something about the Bond franchise that its best contemporary work is repeatedly its continued assertion of its own relevance. But whatever the answer to that question, it does nothing to detract from the quality of Skyfall.

Whereas Goldeneye examined whether or not Bond could exist after the Cold War (answer: yes) and Casino Royale asked whether Bond could keep up with Jason Bourne (answer: also yes), Skyfall explores whether or not Bond today is -- or can be -- the same old Bond he's always been. 50 years on and the spy who loved me is getting a bit introspective, go figure. In any case, the answer is most definitively yes, as Skyfall explicitly asserts that 007 has still got it, is still needed, and is more like his old self than ever. In some ways this movie bring the franchise full circle since the Casino Royale reboot, and while I could explain or substantiate that claim to do so would be spoiling much of the fun that Skyfall has in store. The film is littered with both commentary on and vestiges of Bond's old fashioned ways, and that's a huge part of its meta-cinematic appeal. The best description I've heard of Skyfall was Drew McWeeny saying it's a fitting tribute to where the franchise has come from, and also a sign of where and how it will move forward. It's cryptic, it's accurate, and fans should see the movie to understand what it means.

If I have one complaint of Skyfall it's that it frankly wasn't very clever. For a film so littered with meta-cinematic references, nods to a rich franchise history, and a villain that explicitly calls for intelligence over brutish violence, Skyfall is fairly predictable and by the book. Maybe that's because of its role as the series' 50th anniversary and semi-reboot (although it'd be more accurate to call it a re-grounding), but I never found myself surprised by the movie. It's very traditional in how its three acts function and are clearly delineated, and just about every standout object or quip has an obvious Chekhovian callback in store. The result is that nothing in Skyfall is surprising, but likewise nothing feels unnatural or forced. Predictable though it may be, the film is expertly crafted in terms of its tight script and effective (and appropriately cheeky) handling of 50 years worth of franchise lore. Given what it's trying to do I suppose it makes sense that Skyfall doesn't so much try to reinvent the wheel as much as reintroduce and refine it. Shocking twists or not, the movie is extremely effective in what it sets out to do, and though you'll see the end setup coming a mile away you'll enjoy the journey there all the same.

It also can't be said strongly enough that Skyfall is a stunningly beautiful film. I saw it on a regular sized screen and as I write this sentence I'm kicking myself for not making the effort to see it in IMAX. Shot in digital by Roger Deakins, Skyfall is the obvious choice for the Best Cinematography Oscar. I was constantly reminded of Conrad L. Hall's legendary work on Road to Perdition, and the obvious takeaway is that director Sam Mendes has both an incredible aesthetic sensibility and a great working relationship with his directors of photography. Numerous shots straight up took my breath away -- particularly those in the third act -- and they stand out as strong arguments in favour of digital film as a medium. I've never seen a traditionally shot film capture shadows, fog, and refracted light the way they are in Skyfall, and in that sense it's a defiant statement about the unique potentials of modern filmmaking. The superb cinematography reflects the film's themes and narrative exploration of contemporary refinements on traditional concepts, and the interplay and coherency of these various aspects of Skyfall are what make it among the best Bond films ever made.

Just as Goldeneye did after the Cold War ended, Skyfall reinvigorates the classic Bond formula and shows that 50 years on the old dog still has a few tricks up his sleeve. The film is a reverent ode to franchise canon that makes the whole shtick feel as fresh and relevant as it ever has. Beyond that though, Skyfall is a fun, exciting, breathtakingly beautiful movie that stands out as one of the best films of 2012. Don’t miss it, and if at all possible make sure to see it in IMAX.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Matty Powell: Kiss the City

My friend Matty Powell released a new album called Kiss The City this past weekend. It's still very much tied to the folk-music tradition like his previous work, but shows Matty expanding his sound with higher production and more varied supporting instruments. However he stays true to his strengths, letting his voice and acoustic guitar shine through as the central unifying forces on the album.

The new approach serves Matty well on many of the songs, giving them a texture and depth that elevates them from campfire singalongs to true pop tracks. Nowhere is this more noticeable than on "Freja," which has been expanded from a cute acoustic ditty to a fully fleshed out ode from a loving father. Likewise, "Toronto" is given mesmerizing new life via a full accompaniment that brings out the song's bittersweet sense of nostalgia. The searing lead guitars on songs like "Yellowquill" and "Smoke Rings" make them sound like something by Greg Keelor. Meanwhile, the supporting instruments help Matty come out as a joyous musical preacher on the patently silly "A to Z of Apple Trees."

However, at times it unfortunately seems like the production is outside Matty's comfort zone. The background synths added to "Any Other Way" make the song sound unsure of its own direction. There's also a tinny sound to much of the album that detracts from its acoustic roots. Matty also stumbles at the songwriting level in a few places, such as with the over-rhyming in "Beatrice" or the awkward spanish verse in "The Creek."

However, one thing that can be said of every song on Kiss The City is that Matty's catchy chord structures and earnest vocals give them undeniable heart. Even when the production gets away from him or the lyrics don't totally work, there's a strength and conviction to Matty's delivery that makes his work endearing. This is a big part of the reason he's a great folk artist, and some of the album's best tracks succeed in capturing this raw essence: songs like "This Cigarette" and (albeit to a lesser extent) "Beatrice" display an unabashed singer-songwriter who's completely without pretension.

Kiss The City shows an artist in transition, playing with new and bigger sounds to move from being a troubadour to a multifaceted pop-folk act. Sometimes he falters but never seriously, and all throughout he retains the earnestness and talent that made his earlier work so affective. It's certainly more evolution than revolution (both in terms of Matty's style and generally speaking), but Kiss The City is a worthwhile addition to the pop folk canon and to Matty's discography. I for one am excited to see what he does next, and to see him live (again).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Big Picture: Skin Deeper & Race in Cloud Atlas

Ok so I know I shared MovieBob's The Big Picture pretty recently but his latest video is particularly good and deserves some more attention. This week MovieBob has tackled the critiques against Cloud Atlas for its use of white actors in non-white roles, specifically to depict Asian characters. Bob's defence of the film is elegant and, while slightly spoilerish, deserves to be seen regardless of whether or not you've seen the movie. This is a really tricky subject and I think Bob does a good job at showing why the "racebending" in Cloud Atlas is actually a good thing because of how it lets the movie effectively convey its anti-prejudicial message. It's a delicate balance and a tough sell, but Bob makes a compelling argument in Cloud Atlas' favour that I think everyone would benefit from hearing. Obviously it's a political message that is intended to have meaning beyond the film, and by proxy this video is a political statement in that it explicates and endorses that message. Give it a watch and sound off in the comments on your thoughts about the "yellowface" in Cloud Atlas.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ben Franklin Was a Dirty Dude

The recent release of Assassin's Creed 3 has allowed the less historically inclined to enjoy some of the more offbeat moments of America's past, including the eccentricities of Ben "Founding Father" Franklin. Kotaku has put together a video showing off Franklin's rant about why men should take older women as mistresses, and it should not be missed. None of this should be surprising if you've looked into Franklin's history before, but the accurate depiction in a blockbuster video game is likely to surprise a lot of gamers. Check it out below:

I'll have much more to say about Assassin's Creed 3 soon so check back if you're curious about the game.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Reposts: Destructoid's Top 10 Castlevania Songs

I'm a big fan of classic video game music. It's engaging, energetic, and my history of playing games has conditioned me to feel active and want to accomplish things when I hear it. When I go running I use a mix of 8 and 16-bit era tracks as I find they provide a great impetus to keep going and push yourself harder than you would otherwise. Now Destructoid has put together a list of their all time top 10 songs from the Castlevania series (which is deservedly renowned for its music, among other things), and the list has inspired this post in more ways than one (geddit?).

Their number two pick, "Bloody Tears" from Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest, is my personal favourite. I particularly like the 16-bit remix of the track using instruments from the Mega Man X2 soundtrack, embedded below. The enhanced sound quality of the 16-bit era really brings out the best parts of the song and ups the foreboding quality by highlighting the pipe organ opening. In putting this post together I also stumbled across another great remix of "Bloody Tears" using the instruments from Sonic 3. It takes a few more liberties as a remix by adding a electric guitar-style melody at various points throughout the track, and the addition gives the song a new, '80s hair metal-esque twist.

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'Reposts' are inspired by other articles or blog posts around the Internet. They are used here with accreditation as the basis for short bursts of Max's interests.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Honest Trailers: Prometheus

My hate-on for Prometheus continues with this hilarious Honest Trailer from Screen Junkies. It's not new or anything but it's making me laugh this morning so I figured why not share? Also it's nice to finally be able to laugh about how bad Prometheus was instead of being sent into an angry hate-spiral. Maybe someday I'll be able to watch it again without experiencing the cinephile equivalent of a post-traumatic acid flashback. Not that I'm eager to test the waters, mind you. Anyway, enough stalling/passive-aggressive griping, enjoy the video below: