It’s only ‘The Darkest Hour’ for having seen this movie – 12/25/2011

No, it’s not a Syfy original movie that was accidentally released in theaters. Despite its title, the worst thing about The Darkest Hour would be the time wasted watching it on Christmas.

The Darkest Hour is supposed to be a new take on the invasion-genre that adds elements of a suspense thriller. The story follows a group who is trying to survive an invasion of Moscow by aliens who are composed of nothing more than energy.

Nevermind how the aliens violated Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s first rule of warfare regarding not marching on Moscow.

The biggest problem that plagues this film is, despite the elements of a suspense thriller, how bored one will be during this ordeal. Sure one could argue that because you can’t see the aliens it will keep you in suspense, but the moments of suspense happen at the expected time.

Wow, invisible aliens that turn things into dust“, will be your only reaction during the duration of the film.

It also didn’t help that the trailer along with TV ads spoiled all the good moments. Maybe had they just shown deleted scenes or cut back on the concept of invisible aliens turning people into dust than maybe the film would have been somewhat enjoyable.

The lack of good characters also doesn’t help make this movie any better; the performance so bad that one can’t help but feeling most of the cast took the job because they needed money or had nothing better to do.

While not actually said, there should be a rule of cinema regarding not releasing horror films on Christmas. There really shouldn’t be a reason to have seen this with films like The Adventures of Tintin, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo now in theaters.

Director Chris Gorak may have had you in suspense with Right at Your Door, but this time you’ll only be on the edge of your seat if you decide to walk out of the theater at the moment you the thought of “what was I thinking” pops up.

Written for Digital Journal
Original Article: It’s only ‘The Darkest Hour’ for having seen this movie


Op-Ed: PolitiFact and the low point of liberal appeasement – 12/22/2011

In the midst of all the political bickering that has been the center of attention in 2011, House Republicans have touched almost every third rail in national politics.

In theory, touching the third rail means the kiss of death for ones political career.

But thanks to PolitiFacts desire to be non-partisan by appeasing right-wing politics; Paul Ryan (R-WI) along with every House Republican who endorsed the Medicare “reform” just got a free pass.

Had the Ryan Plan passed; it would have replaced the government finance of health care for seniors with a voucher program that would allow receipts to purchase their own health insurance by 2022. While the Ryan Plan passed in the House; it was killed in the Senate a month later.

The Ryan Plan was criticized as a sham to “privatize or dismantle Medicare” by Democratic politicians, the AARP, and social activists. One of the most outspoken critics was Paul Krugman (economist and Nobel Prize laureate) who stated in his New York Times column, “The only way the Ryan Plan could save money would be by making those vouchers too small to pay for adequate coverage.”

Yet despite heavy criticism of the Ryan Plan that has been backed with analytic studies and facts; PolitiFacts named ‘Republicans voted to end Medicare’ as Lie of the Year for 2011. Sorry but for something to be a lie it has to be an inaccurate statement with deliberate intent to deceive.

Sadly this has been nothing more but a pathetic attempt to appease conservative critics who constantly like to toss the phrase “liberal bias”. As Krugman stated in his last column, “The people at PolitiFact are terrified of being considered partisan if they acknowledge the clear fact that there’s a lot more lying on one side of the political divide than on the other. So they’ve bent over backwards to appear“balanced.”

Its all true; right-wing activists are the same people who are questioning President Obama’s citizenship, promising job creation by killing jobs, and blaming social servants for the bankrupting our economy. Regardless of the decision; the right-wing pundits will continue to smear PolitiFact as having a “liberal bias”.

PolitiFact should have followed the example of Project Censored, an independent media watchdog often accused of having a liberal bias despite its criticism of President Obama.

But this is just part of a bigger problem regarding cowardice liberals that has plagued political progression. When it comes to standing up for principles, liberals tend to come out as appeasers – but they like to call it a need to be the “better person” or some bull**** passed as logic.

The political climate has been dominated with several “ticking time bomb” scenarios with the President Obama and the Democrats whiling to appease the needs of House Republicans to avoid a political catastrophe. All PolitiFact has done is contribute to a need of satisfying the extremists on the right.

By having the need to appease right-wing pundits and activists; the only thing PolitiFact has done is destroy their own credibility as a reliable fact-checking source. In the end nothing will change in Washington if liberals continue to appease right-wing smear.

Written for Digital Journal
Original Article: Op-Ed: PolitiFact and the low point of liberal appeasement


Op-Ed: Why Occupy Wall Street needs a foot in government – 12/15/2011

Occupy Wall Street is entering its third month having grown to become a national movement with politicians desperately trying to suppress it while Time Magazines declaring them “Person of the Year” (shared with activists involved with the Arab spring)

While protest may be a great way to get peoples attention but reform will only be a dream unless action is taken. However it feels like the plan of action has been waiting for President Obama to deliver on his 2008 campaign promise.

Sadly and with all honesty that plan is completely moronic. Occupy Wall Street will only have a real political impact if they mobilize to gain a foot in government.

Acta Non Verba: a Latin phrase that translates into “action not words”. It can best summarize how only action can achieve true reform while words can easily be silenced. Nothing significant history was accomplished by just talk, action was always taken to achieve the outcome.

Just examine the political rise of the Tea Party. It started like the OWS; protesting and speaking out against what they perceived as the “threat of big government”. Soon they grew to have their own faction in the Republican Party elected into office.

If the Occupy Movement really wants change it needs to mobilize candidates for the 2012 Election. Liberals and progressives need to stop relying on the Democratic Party to represent them.

Most of the most outspoken members of the Democratic Party have actually been on the payroll of interest groups that represent Wall Street. Just look up the supporters of Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Harry Reid (D-NV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

It also helps to know that Goldman-Sachs was President Obama’s biggest supporter. That is why most of the people in his administration (like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner) are connected to Goldman-Sachs.

On the local level; mayors from both political parties have ordered violent crackdowns of OWS camps. Don’t forget that it was Jean Quan’s (Democrat mayor of Oakland) brilliant idea to have an Iraq Vet shoot in the face with a tear gas canister.

The Tea Party did not wait around and expect John Boehner (R-OH) or Eric Cantor (R-VA) to do their bidding and neither should Occupy Wall Street. Acta Non Verba

Published for Digital Journal
Original Link: Op-Ed: Why Occupy Wall Street needs a foot in government

Why shooters should stop imitating Modern Warfare – 12/12/2011

Call of Duty is a unique franchise, for twice in one decade did its revolutionary game-play redefine a genre and set the new standards for other games to follow. One has to appreciate the first time when it broke with the “lone wolf” concept while pushing the Quake III-engine to its limits.

The second time; Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare took what made the franchise successful and introduced a fast-paced action game-play set in a visually detailed environment while making the game itself user friendly. This was the final push that made video games a respectable media and a major part of mainstream culture.

However it became less about making an actual game and more about making a game that tries to be an action movie (an issue pointed out by Luke McKinny in 6 Video Games That Just Didn’t Get It). Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was great the first play through but over time it loses the fun and it feels like you have no say in the action except for “kill or be killed”.

Unfortunately because of Call of Duty’s popularity; FPS (first person shooter) franchises have attempted to imitate its success. A few have done it successfully by borrowing some of its desired elements while many have just done a “copy & paste” the content into their games.

Medal of Honor, Crysis 2 and Killzone 3 are good examples to look at for games that have borrowed elements of Call of Duty successfully. Both used what they felt was needed to enhance the game-play without having to compromise the aspects that made it a unique game.

On the other side of the spectrum you have games like Homefront, Battlefield 3, and Goldeneye 007 that took the “copy & paste” approach. Homefront was over hyped as a new style of shooter created by John Milus only to be nothing more but a watered down Call of Duty. Battlefield 3’s single player campaign was heavily panned for being too much like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 at a slower pace. It was the Call of Duty-aspects in the Goldeneye 007-remake that robbed gamers of what made the original so unique.

Like with the sand-box / crime trend that was started with Grand Theft Auto III; developers are taking a style that is popular and imitating it in the laziest way possible. Also like Grand Theft Auto III; for every original work that was released the market was flooded with five clones.

The harsh point is that, just like Grand Theft Auto, the game-play aspects that have made Call of Duty a success only works with Call of Duty.

Sadly one could not expect for this trend to fade away soon due to the volume of success and cost effective production. For example: 24 hours after its release; Call of Duty: Black Ops sold 5 million units while earning $360 million, that is double the success of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt.1 on its opening weekend. Meanwhile: Grand Theft Auto IV made $500 million during its release week but was produced on a budget of $100 million (making it one of the most expensive games developed). Call of Duty: Black Ops had an estimated budget of $10 million.

With this volatile market; the gaming industry is taking a cue from Hollywood and playing it safe. So while Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 may not have added anything new for the FPS-genre; it has made Activision a lot of money at a small production cost. Unfortunately too many developers will very poorly try to imitate Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 in 2012 thinking it will produce the same results

Written for Bitmod
Original Article: Why shooters should stop imitating Modern Warfare