Moneyball Trailer is…

…awesome! Hear me out on this one. I loved the Moneyball book. I loved that Billy Beane (portrayed by Brad Pitt in the movie!) modernized baseball’s archaic scouting system. I loved that a lot of baseball people misunderstood and dismissed what Beane was doing with the Oakland A’s; they thought he was all about buying on-base percentage when he was actually all about buying whatever was undervalued at the time. I lost respect for the legendary Joe Morgan for flipping off Moneyball without even reading it. Billy Beane truly revolutionized the way baseball teams are made, the way players are scouted, and how stats are used acquire players.

I’m so ready to love this movie. While I don’t think it will be as big as The Social Network, I think it will be The Social Network movie for sports fans. Anyone with me on this one?

Redbox Videogame Rental Contest Celebration Extravaganza!

In case you didn’t know, Redbox has gone national with its videogame rental service. Loads of excellent games are available at more than 21,000 Redbox kiosks around the nation (of Domination). Let’s celebrate this momentous occasion (okay maybe not momentous, but it’s definitely very cool) with a giveaway! Before I get to that, here’s a clip from the press release:

Redbox, America’s movie rental destination, will offer video game rentals at more than 21,000 redbox locations nationwide beginning June 17, 2011. Top video games will join new release movies for only $2 a day complementing $1 DVD and $1.50 Blu-ray daily rental prices. The announcement follows a test of video game rentals in select U.S. markets that began in August 2009.

Redbox has hooked me up with freebie coupons to share with you guys and gals. I’ve already contacted RPadholics Lunias, bsukenyan, BigBlak, and Redd75 so that they may claim their loot. If you’re interested in some free Redbox coupons, just leave a comment below.

Click here to find a Redbox location near you. Special thanks to Laura and Cat at Redbox for being super cool people.

Tomb Raider Dives Into Lara Croft’s Past, Shows Bright Future

Although Lara Croft is the first lady of modern gaming, Naughty Dog’s Uncharted games have supplanted Tomb Raider as the best action-adventure videogame series. Square Enix has Lara set for a huge comeback by delving into her past. The upcoming Tomb Raider game stars a young Lara Croft as she embarks on her first adventure. From what I saw at E3 2011, it looks like Lara will be taken to new heights by going in a very different direction.

From the gameplay I was shown, as well as the beautiful intro movies, it’s clear that Lara has been trained but hasn’t been battle tested. She’s capable, but not yet confident. I liked seeing the vulnerable side of her character…though she did a bit too much moaning and whining when she was attacked. There were times I wasn’t sure if she was under duress or on the verge of an orgasm.

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The gameplay had plenty of exploration and puzzle solving — two hallmarks of the Tomb Raider series. Exploring the caverns and outdoor areas was lots of fun. The graphics I saw were beautiful and it was a pleasure watching someone else play the game. The early puzzles I saw played up fire and water. Lara would have to manage her torch (stop thinking about her managing your torch) and relight as necessary. The caverns were full of streams and pools, making torch management an interesting gameplay facet.

While I didn’t get to see any of Lara’s famous gunplay, I saw her engage in a number fights using her limbs, a dagger, and a bow (with arrows…duh!). The back-to-basics fighting was appropriate for the early portion of the game as she was freshly shipwrecked, but I imagine she’ll be dual-wielding pistols towards the end of her adventure.

A lot of the fight scenes implemented quick time events. The amount of them surprised me. The developers are trying to give the combat a cinematic feel while also appealing to casual gamers that are familiar with the Tomb Raider brand. It’s an interesting gambit that potentially gives the game a broader appeal and also differentiates it from a more traditional title like Uncharted.

My demo session of Tomb Raider left me wanting more. The graphics were impressive, the story was interesting, young Lara is hot, the puzzle gameplay looked like fun, and the combat was different. My chief concern at this time is the combat. It was definitely atypical, but it wasn’t as fun to watch as the other facets of gameplay. Will the fighting be fun to play? That’s what I want to know…and I’m willing to watch Lara Croft for hours in order to find out.

What Are You Playing This Weekend?

I’m almost done with my review run of Dungeon Siege III for Machinima, so I think I’ll start a new game on my personal account. If any of you want to beat up some villains and grab some treasure with me (in the game, not in real life), please let me know.

Aside from that, I expect to pick up a bunch of new games for my iPad 2. EA and Gameloft are having Father’s Day sales. A lot of great stuff will be slashed to high heaven.

How about you? What’s on your weekend playlist?

This Week’s Videogame Releases

I didn’t get around to this article on Monday since my brain was still melted from E3, but it’s an interesting week for videogames. The sequels or spiritual successors to three old franchises were released this week. After years of being a running joke, Duke Nukem Forever was finally released. Longtime fans of Rez will be thrilled to play Q’s Child of Eden. American McGee jumped down the rabbit hole once again in Alice: Madness Returns.

By the way, I’m looking for some peeps to play Dungeon Siege III if anyone is down. The game is so different from Chris Taylor’s original, but I’m enjoying it in a hack-and-slash loot-fest way.

So, any of you picking up new games this week?

Random Thoughts on the Green Lantern Movie (Hint: It Sucked)

Hi, I’m Raymond, Grey Lantern of sector 2814. I harness the formidable power of disappointment. I received my vast powers from watching the Green Lantern movie. As a huge fan of the comic books, I was tremendously excited to see Hal Jordan on the big screen. I left the movie theater a disappointed wreck. While Green Lantern had a few bright spots, they weren’t enough to overcome the movie’s bad writing, bad casting, bad acting, and bad directing. On the plus side, my Grey Lantern power ring is filled with enough disappointment energy to last 4.7 years.

Here are some random thoughts (not a review!) on Green Lantern. There be spoilers ahead, matey!

Van Wilder is a Bad Hal Jordan — I never liked Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan. He’s too goofy and funny. In my head he made more sense as Green Lantern Guy Gardner. There were a handful of scenes where Reynolds did a good job portraying Hal’s boldness and fearlessness, but for the majority movie he was…Van Wilder. He was too cute and goofy for Hal Jordan.

Movie Parallax Sucks — I hated the movie version of Parallax. His origin was changed for…hell, I can’t think of a good reason for changing his origin. Instead of being the living embodiment of fear, he was a renegade Guardian that attempted to harness the yellow energy of fear. Instead of the intimidating insect-like creature in the comics, he was a floating head with ashen tentacles. Perhaps the director was watching too much Japanese tentacle pr0n. This alteration will hurt comic-book fans more than anyone else.

Hector Hammond Wasn’t That Bad — I’ve never liked Hector Hammond in the comics. He looks like a dork and he’s not terribly interesting. The biggest surprise of Green Lantern was that the movie version of this wretched character wasn’t so bad. All the credit goes to the talented Peter Sarsgaard. He managed to make a horrible character mildly interesting. He was still a relatively lame villain, but Sarsgaard’s Hector Hammond was the best version of the character ever.

The Aliens Were Cool — The alien Green Lanterns were the best parts of the movie. I marked out during the scenes with Abin Sur, Tomar Re, Kilowog, and Sinestro. It’s cool that they were played by Jango Fett, Captain Barbosa, Kingpin, and…uh [insert memorable Mark Strong role here], respectively. The aliens were pretty spot on, but they weren’t given enough to do. Mark Strong was fantastic as Sinestro (although his origin was also altered for no apparent reason) and his post-credit scene was visually awesome.

On the downside, I didn’t like that Kilowog gave himself props for training Hal. The line was ripped from the comics, where it made sense. The comics showed panels of arduous training that took place over an extended period of time. In the movie, Kilowog trained Hal for three minutes. The Guardians, already a bit ridiculous in the comics, looked even sillier in the movie…but there’s only so much you can do with little blue beings with immense power.

The Special Effects Weren’t Very Special — I’ve been waiting for a Green Lantern movie for decades. Early on, the limits of technology made a Green Lantern movie impossible. Vast improvements in computer-generated effects made Hal Jordan’s big-screen adventures a reality. The only problem is that the effects weren’t all that special. There were some cool flying scenes and some nifty ring constructs, but a lot of the effects looked unfinished. My friend Paul joked that he can’t wait for the Blu-ray so that the special effects can be finished.

Blake Lively? — I don’t get her. She’s attractive, but I don’t see the amazing hottie that most of the world sees. I also think that DiCaprio could do better. In the context of the movie, she was mediocre as Carol Ferris. She’s supposed to be a powerful and domineering woman that’s as hard-headed as Hal. In this movie she fell short. It was cool that she was shown as a great pilot and a strong businesswoman, but she quickly dropped all of that to become a generic damsel-in-distress. Lively didn’t bring the ferocity required to adequately portray Carol Ferris.

Bottom Line — The lead character was miscast and way off the mark. One villain was horribly rewritten from the comics. The other villain was a lifelong lamer that was made mildly interesting by a superb actor. The aliens were, by far, the best parts of the movie and they didn’t have enough scenes.

*sigh* I really wanted this movie to be great…but it was pretty awful. Thor kicked its ass. I wouldn’t have expected a Thor movie to be much better than a Green Lantern movie, yet that’s precisely what happened in 2011. Now please excuse me as I must read Sinestro Corps War, vol 1 to erase this crap movie from my head.