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Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is a wonderful analogy to the state of the Hollywood picture. It’s the name that sells, same as always, but sometimes it seems that these guys aren’t aware of what they’re doing. They’re stabbing in the dark — Journey to the Center of the Earth has the same marquee value as The Mysterious Island (although who knows, with potential success of John Carter perhaps we’ll see a remake of At the Earth’s Core, and then interest in subterranean movies will be 2013), but because of the Journey 3D movie from a few years ago, that’s ‘renewed interest.’ it’s like a bizarre implicit (to the audiences) system of powering brands, so that in 2012 — the future — a movie called Journey 2: The Mysterious Island has marquee value. Maybe in time we’ll get an Unforgiven II: A Fistful of Dollars, when the western returns into this new Hollywood realm. Metallica can do the music.

Titles to me are an interesting thing, and in this day, the age of the franchise, they’re everything in movies. They’re the face of Hollywood trending, which to the consumer, really takes the ‘art’ out of the ‘art/business’ cocktail that is the film industry — the veil is lifted, we understand that big companies control movies, and right now, they’re taking notes from each other. You can’t call the third Twilight movie Eclipse. It has to be Twilight Saga: Eclipse, because the potential is there for $2 million worth of Twilight fans out there who don’t know the names of the books, and don’t watch trailers. God forbid it’s called Twilight 3.

Bad example; Twilight 3 is an adaptation of a book called Eclipse, so you’d just use that title (or, attempt to). But I think the numbering system, which in this day is underused, has significance. Now, this next segment is going to be really …wtf, in the sense that nerds go on about useless things but this is like that but to the max — bear with me.

Sequel titles are never decided by their artistic value. Were that the case, Rambo III would be called Rambo: First Blood Part III and Rambo Rambo First Blood Part IV, or Rambo IV. There’s no artistic value in the titles of Rambo movies, but this series in particular offers a good analogy; the marketing team or studio or whomever is willing to compromise the logical integrity of a string of sequel titles because they discover that Rambo’s the piece that has financial potential, not First Blood, the title of the original book and movie. To the lay, Rambo III has nothing to do with First Blood, and is is a sequel to Rambo, which came out exactly twenty years later? When you change the title like that, it gets pretty messy. There’s exactly one reason why they do it, and that’s kind of a bummer.

Something that’s re-become interesting to me is Bioshock Infinite, and looking at interviews online of Ken Levine. One of the things often brought up is something I believe I talked about many suns ago on this very website… the idea that Bioshock Infinite is called Bioshock Infinite, seemingly sharing in space occupied by a franchise going in an entirely different direction. There’s an issue here, and the issue is exacerbated by an initial sequel, Bioshock 2, which wasn’t done by Levine’s team, Irrational Games. Had Bioshock 2 been called Bioshock: Sea of Dreams or something, I don’t know I’m just spitballing, perhaps the problem would be less, but as it stands, the fans expect Infinite to take place in a ‘Bioshock universe’ if it’s going to take the name.

Levine’s philosophy here is that of the artist, not the businessman, as we might think. In his fledgling industry, which strives for establishment in popular entertainment each and every day, he’s all about pushing creative boundaries to ‘legitimize’ the medium; he’s right up there with Team Ico and the guys who do Heavy Rain, I suppose. This time around he wants to see what a sequel can do, because when we think of sequel, particularly with video-games, we get five new guns and a new creature or pallette swap. Same old stuff though, for the most part.

Why is it that a video-game sequel cannot be spiritually linked, as it often can be in movies or literature? It’s tricky, because the connection between Bioshock Infinite and Bioshock is closer than that of System Shock 2 and Bioshock, but not quite as with Bioshock 2 and Bioshock. The last example has both games taking place in the underwater city Rapture, and Infinite takes place in the city in the sky Columbia. System Shock 2 is in space, and is different, but similar. (I realize how ridiculous all of this is). The obvious point to bring up here is that they’re just trading on the Bioshock name, because that sells. Well, sure, but what was Irrational trading on the first time around? Don’t say ‘shock.’

I’m pretty sure there was an article on IGN talking about how inappropriate a title Bioshock was, and how a better title was Rapture. No hate toward IGN, but this mentality is definitely what Levine and co. are attempting to challenge. Referring to your game by an in-world element is incredibly limiting — on the flip, a thematic title can carry though. Also, it’s a dangerous practice on principle anyhow, because I’m pretty sure all the Halos are gone by Halo 4, and I don’t believe there were any Metroids in Metroid Prime 2: Echos. That’s the only one I didn’t [start to] play [and never finish because fuck puzzles, even easy ones].

When we think of Bioshock, we should think of a world effected by ideology — interactive impressionistic environments laden with satire. We should think superpowers, studies of civilizations and politics. It’ll be shocking to your system, cerebrally, and visually. The interactive element is dynamic because you’re shooting, using super laser powers (and in Infinite, swing around on rails), and the story/character bits may raise questions. Instead, fans only want to think of Rapture. Stop scamming us, Ken Levine. We’re on to you.

So this was… ostensibly about one topic. Titles… or Bioshock Infinite. It’s been a slow few weeks, which is why there haven’t been any posts. I know you’re all clammering.

For those who read this site, there’s another to read instead – the Genrebusters.com, who have recently lifted their four or five year hiatus. Christ, that was a long wait, especially since I just found out about them right after they stopped putting out posts and recording podcasts. Well, they’re back posting, and everything’s totally cool. To celebrate their return, I figured I’d steal from them, and recycle a feature that I always liked from their site. The main guy wrote up reviews for each of his 100 favorite movies, and his culmination in Once Upon a Time in the West is what spurred me into renting that particular film, because it was such a high recommendation from a trusted source. And goddamn that movie is awesome.

Somewhere on the site there’s a secret Top 100 List of my own, but I’ll go in-depth with them ten at a time. I don’t have all that much to say about some of these movies, but I’m still young, and ten years from now, this whole list will be gutted. I haven’t even seen The Shawshank Redemption yet. And that reminds me – somewhere high on this list would usually be The Mist, but it actually slipped my mind. Wow. One of my favorite horror movies ever, and I just completely forgot it. So somewhere along the way I’ll have to make a note of where that would’ve been, and this will then become a Top 101 List.

So no this isn’t a Top 100 Greatest Movies Ever list, because nowhere will you find garbagio like Sunset Boulevard. This is a personal list, and hopefully it’ll serve the purpose of recommending in short some cool movies, or maybe making you look twice at some title you thought earlier was crap.

100. Slither, Dir. James Gunn

This movie freaking tanked, man. According to the profesh, and anyone with a sense of logic – it was that classic case of ‘too scary to be funny, too funny to be scary,’ that shied audiences from Grindhouse and I guess Snakes on a Plane. It’s true; the movie trailers for this one both freaked me out and made me laugh, but since back then I was a pussy (back then, that’s right), I didn’t want to see it. I think Grant Grant’s final form gave me the creeps because of the mouth. Even today, that’s a pretty wicked design. But don’t do what I did back in the day when I was a pussy, go check this one out, because it’s more than just another zombie movie. And in terms of genres, horror/comedy is my second favorite, and Slither is certainly a wonderful entry. Nathan Fillion is the man, man.

99. The Mummy, Dir. Stephen Sommers

Yeah this movie is garbage, and so is its sequel, and so is its spin-off, but I love all three. Well, I like The Scorpion King, but I really like The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. Both of them have a great sense of adventure akin to Raiders or Jurassic Park. The first one especially is pretty well paced, and the visual effects and creature designs always stuck with me when I was younger. Every set piece was different, but they were mostly all cool, and always had a cool new monster. A guilty pleasure, probably, but it’s only the first, as we’ll see very soon.

98. Doom, Dir. Andrzej Bartkowiak

While not a big fan of the original video-game – I was more of a Halo guy myself – this movie is a surprisingly high quality video-game adaptation, and if that wasn’t the most apologist way to begin a review, well just show me Ebert’s various Tron reviews, I guess. I’m a sucker for space marines, because I like it when big guys with big guns run down hallways and shoot aliens. And let me tell you – these guys are big, and they sure do run down hallways a lot.¬†Screw the Spartans from 300 – if I want burly dudes doing manly things, it’s gotta be Doom, or DOOM, rather. This movie is so balls stupid, but a lot of fun. The creature effects were done in part by Stan Winston, so even though the notion of a genetically engineered demon is… idiotic… it’s a great visual action picture with sci-fi trappings that are sadly lost on America. Holdin’ out hope for Scott’s The Forever War

97. Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, Dir. Shinichiro Watanabe

I actually saw this before viewing the series, which is possibly the most well-known anime of all time, at least in America, as it is quite western, genre-mixing noir with sci-fi with… jazz, with spaghetti westerns with blaxploitation with crime drama – it’s basically the best show ever this side of Stand Alone Complex. If I wasn’t such a GITS fanboy I’d say on the whole it’s probably better, and the movie is a great little reward for all those fans jonesing for more adventures with Spike and Jet. This movie is actually downright philosophical, and makes for an interesting watch.

96. Pitch Black, Dir. David Twohy

I’m glad I didn’t have to put The Chronicles of Riddick on this list because as much as I love it, it really, really sucks. Pitch Black on the other hand, is a genuinely solid sci-fi thriller starring Vin Diesel, of all people. It’s got a good premise, cool action, cool monsters, and – much to my surprise – a strangely poigniant arc for our future-super-double-unkillable-badass Riddick, who turned out to be a terrible character. Let’s try to remember when he was still good…

95. Appleseed, Dir. Shinji Aramaki

I used to think that this movie was just straight garbage, but I enjoy the visuals way too much, and even if the story is just a bootleg Ghost in the Shell, there are worse things to be. The action scenes in this movie are spectacular, and they make me realize that as much as I love the 80’s action genre, it’ll never quite be the same as a bunch of crazily designed robots shooting up the place.

94. Chasing Amy, Dir. Kevin Smith

Never thought a romantic comedy starring Ben Affleck would be… good. Well, The Town was a romantic comedy, but no, that was crap, so never mind. Chasing Amy on the other hand is a great Kevin Smith movie about people sitting around talking about sex. God, nothing I can say makes it sound good, so you really have to just see it. Once again this was a movie that the Genrebusters recommended, citing the friendship between the two main dudes as one of the most organic and best written.

93. 12 Monkeys, Dir. Terry Gilliam

People who talk about Brad Pitt have a lot of good performances to draw from: Fight Club, Seven, 12 Monkeys… I didn’t like those first two, but 12 Monkeys is the first Terry Gilliam (and last) I’ve seen – I’m still waiting on Brazil and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, aside from Holy Grail, I think? It’s bizarre and feels like something by the Jeunet/Caro team, who had paid homage to Gilliam with their Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children. It’s a high concept story based off of a short film called La Jetee, and if you’re looking for a totally wacked-out experience, look no further.

92. 2010: The Year we Make Contact, Dir. Peter Hyams

Hard science-fiction is hard to come by in film, which is why all of it that I’ve seen is further on this list – Silent Running, Sunshine, and of course 2001: A Space Odyssey. The oft trashed on sequel, which has kind of a Terminator 3, Godfather 3, Mad Max 3 complex – exactly how do you follow that up? Well, you take the straight approach. This isn’t a cerebral, philosophical journey into both our minds and the deepest reaches of the universe, it’s a space story without the lasers, and an interesting drama with slightly overwrought political overtones, but the message is positive and not too Avatarized, if you catch what I’m sailing out there.

91. Grindhouse: Planet Terror, Dir. Robert Rodriguez

This was originally The Rock. That it is now Planet Terror is a testament to the fact that all these movies up here are kind of… shaky. I like them all, but The Rock just doesn’t match up, and so instead of bumping the whole list, I’ll just take it off. It’s still with us in spirit, at #102. Planet Terror on the other hand is a Rodriguez through-and-through, chock full of guns, explosions, blood, zombies, goo, and Tom Savini being thrown into a car made out of tin foil. It’s great fun, and has an excellent cast and a damn good script.

Tune in next week for 90-81, easily the best of the 100. Well, probably not.

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