Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Incredible Hulk Review

I’ve wanted to write this review for two weeks now, but unfortunately due to several factors such as work, lack of internet, and me being incredibly cheap I haven’t gotten the chance to watch the movie until now. Let me explain my frugality. I recently discovered that my public library has as massive DVD collection which means free movies (hurray!). Unfortunately it also means everyone else has access to these free movies. I’ve been having trouble getting the movie because of people who swooped in and rented the movie before I got off work. Also, for whatever reason my library doesn’t believe in holding movies so I’ve been stalking this movie for about a week. But the joke is on me because the Hulk is now overdue negating the whole point of renting it from the library.

Even though this is a DVD review (because I’m assuming that a lot of people have already watched the Hulk, but haven’t bought the DVD) I must admit that I hadn’t seen the movie until I rented it. As comic book movies go this was pretty good. What kept me from scrambling to see the Hulk in the theaters was my terrible memory of the first Hulk movie in 2003. A better telling of the love story between Bruce and Betty Ross and the creator’s choice to humanize the green behemoth made this movie a lot easier to watch. There is enough fan service to keep the nerds entertained like the Captain America reference and an appearance by Lou Ferrigno, yet enough story to pull new fans to the Hulk. I’ll admit that before I watched this movie I didn’t like the Hulk, but now that I’ve seen the movie I’ve been reading the Hulk’s Wikipedia page and I’m excited to see what direction the next movie will go in.

The audio is good. The background music was crisp and did not seem to overpower the movie. Also, the music wasn’t overly repetitive and complemented the scenes very nicely.

Picture was sharp and the Hulk didn’t look like a computer-generated image (CGI) mess when he was interacting with non CGI elements. Some of the visual effects are cool like bullet time in the fight scenes, but it’s been done before. At least the director didn’t use the special effects like a gimmick to hide the movie’s flaws.

Special Features
The Hulk is a two disc DVD with most of the special features on the second bonus disc. The main reason I wanted to do a DVD review was because I thought the alternate opening would give a new twist to the movie. I was wrong. It’s really short and not that interesting, but that isn’t to say the other features aren’t good. With special features like audio commentary from the cast and crew, anatomy of a Hulk Out, deleted scenes, and comic book vignettes there’s certainly some good extra content.

So what do I say?
I really liked the movie. I got a lot of complaints that Bruce’s back story wasn’t fleshed out, but I argue that he doesn’t have a complicated origin story. Bruce falls in love with Betty Ross; accidently turns himself into the Hulk; the Hulk rampages through the city, that’s about it. What I didn’t like was the characterization of Betty Ross. Now I don’t know if it was poor acting on Liv Tyler’s part or if it was the writers who decided to water down the character, but I just found her annoying in some of the scenes. On the same note I found Tim Blake Nelson acting terrible. He played the super excitable Dr. Samuel Sterns and I couldn’t wait for him to get off the screen. The other actors: Edward Norton (the peaceful Bruce Banner), Tim Roth (the psychotic villain Emil Blonsky), and William Hurt (the stubborn General Ross) played their roles perfectly.

I’m giving the Incredible Hulk a 4 Hulk Smash out of 5.

(you wouldn't like me when I'm angry)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rocking the TV

Rock Band has given us the chance to rock out in our living rooms and live the dream of one of America’s most beloved icon, the Rock Star. Thanks to MTV they have taken that dream one step further with MTV 2’s recently aired Rock Band competition appropriately named Rock Band Battle and VH1’s webisodes of Rock Band 2 the Stars. Both shows are meant to promote excitement for the now released Rock Band 2.

Alright let’s break it down. Rock Band Battle is just a huge battle of the bands with plastic instruments. You and your friends create a band, give it a stupid name and then rock out on stage. You are given two scores: the score you receive in Rock Band and the score the audience gives you for your performance on stage. Then they average the two scores together and determine the winner. The prize for winning this competition

•Big Screen LG television
•Cambridge SoundWorks Newton Theater System
•Microsoft Xbox 360
•Rock Band 2 Special Edition Bundle from MTV Games for Xbox 360

Rock Band 2 the Stars is a 5 minute webisode on where Sebastian Bach and Alice Cooper put together their own Rock Band band (wow that sounds redundant) from 15 contestants. Each week players face ridiculous challenges or battle against special guests. Whoever wins these challenges will be selected for Alice's and Sebastian's band and will epically battle it out at L.A.’s famous Viper room. Not as awesome as the Rock Band Battle prize, but hey, isn’t living the life of a rock star a prize in itself.

Hopefully Rock Band Battle and Rock Band 2 with the Stars will pop up again next year with a 3 in their titles since there is no doubt that there will be a third Rock Band. I’m already assembling an all star band for the next reality TV show based on a video game… what are you doing with your life?

Here are the first four episodes of Rock Band 2 the Stars

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Black Friday

This is a last second post for you last second shoppers. As you may or may not know Black Friday is this week. Just in case you don’t know, Black Friday is when stores have ridiculous sales on items like game systems and other useful items. Today I’ve put together guidelines for you, the unsuspecting consumer, to survive Black Friday if you choose to participate in this wondrous event.

1. Check out It has a list of stores and items that will be sold at discounted prices.

2. Check the time when the store opens. Most stores open early on Black Friday so be prepared to greet the sun in the morning.

3. Get to the store 1-2 hours before it opens. If you want to have a chance of getting whatever you want this is a must. Don’t forget the more popular the item, like an X-Box, Wii, or PS3, the more people you will have to fight to get it. Unfortunately, electronics go first so I recommend you get to the store two hours early.

4. Take a friend. Very important since you might get bored (a DS or PSP can fix that problem too) but if you want to take a bathroom break, a buddy to hold your spot in line is invaluable.

5. Know where you’re going. You don’t want to be heading toward the school supplies aisle instead of the electronic area you may just miss getting what you came for.

6. Get ready to rumble. Be prepared for some desperate mothers clawing for boxes. A friend would be good to help deflect some of the attacks of the more aggressive mothers trying to buy their children’s love.

7. You only have one shot so make it count! Make sure what you’re looking for is in that particular store. You won’t have time to drive somewhere else because all you will find at the next store will be your shattered hopes for buying something dirt cheap.

If you follow these 7 guidelines you should come home with whatever you had your eye on. Good luck!

(Disclaimer: If you followed my 7 guidelines and you still didn’t get what you were looking for I’m sorry and I cannot be held responsible. Maybe you should have been more assertive and knocked over that old lady going after the same things you were)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wolverine and the X-Men

Sorry I haven’t been updating as regularly as I wanted, I hope all of you aren’t too heart broken. Since I move boxes for a retail store and the holidays are now upon us, I’ve been logging in a lot more hours at the store. Good for me since I’ll be getting bigger paychecks, bad for you because less posts, but never fear I’ve got two DVD reviews on the way. For now, check out the new trailer for Wolverine and the X-Men (or as I like to call it Wolverine and his amazing friends). Just in case you didn’t know, Wolverine and the X-Men is kind of an update of the 90’s animated series the X-Men.

The basic plot is that Wolverine is charged with the task of reuniting the X-Men against an unknown evil. Why Wolverine? I don’t know, he’s just a short angry man with claws who isn’t even a team player, but for whatever reason people love him and the creators decided to make him the lead. If you watch the original trailer Cyclops, who should be leading the team, looks like he has been drinking in a sleazy motel crying over Jean. Oh Cyclops nobody loves you, but why do we (the general public) love Wolverine? I can only guess it’s similar to what I like to call the “Bad Boy” phenomena. The "Bad Boy" phenomena is when a girl swoons over a guy who possesses a leather jacket, a motorcycle, and an abusive personality. (Do girls still like “Bad Boys”? Better yet, do girls still swoon?). So even if Wolverine metaphorically steals our money and rides off into the sunset with some other floozy we will still help him when he’s down on his luck and tells us, “I never meant to cheat on you baby. You know you’re the only one I love.”

Here is the original trailer.

So now that you’ve seen both videos what do you think? I’m excited (I know you didn’t ask what I thought, but deal with it). It’s awesome that they have added Dust into the mix and I can’t wait to see which other mutants make the cut (crossing fingers and hoping for Psylocke).

At first I was surprised to hear that Wolverine and the X-Men would air on Nickelodeon and not Cartoon Network, but after watching Avatar the Last Airbender and checking out some of Nickelodeon’s spring line up I think it was a good choice. Nickelodeon probably realized that there are kids older than 5 who aren’t obsessed with Sponge Bob and are trying for a new demographic. Also, Cartoon Network seems to be on the decline since Toonami was axed and their programming isn’t all about cartoons anymore . Could this be another great TV channel going down the drain? (I’m talking to you G4.)

Wolverine and the X-Men comes out sometime next year so keep your eyes out for this new series.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Video Games Live

Whoever likes music raise your hand. If you’re not raising your hand (and I know if you’re not) put them into the air immediately. OK you can put your hands down now. For all of you who did raise their hand (or those who just caved into peer pressure) you should be excited to hear that Video Games Live (VGL) is coming to Chicago on November 15th at the Chicago Theater.

What exactly is VGL you ask? VGL is a spectacular concert that features music from popular video games such as Super Mario, Halo, Final Fantasy, Pac-Man, Legend of Zelda and several other popular game titles. The concert is played by a live professional symphony orchestra and is accompanied by a first-class choir. Not only are your ears in for a treat, but so are your eyes. VGL features a dazzling light show with video footage projected onto a large screen behind the orchestra. The official VGL website said this about the experience, “It's the power & emotion of a symphony orchestra mixed with the excitement and energy of a rock concert and the technology and interactivity of a video game all completely synchronized to amazing cutting edge video screen visuals, state-of-the-art lighting and special on-stage interactive segments with the audience.” VGL was created by Tommy Tallarico (who some of you might know from G4’s Judgment day and Electric Playground) and Jack Wall, two very well known video game composers. Tommy and Jack created VGL for the purpose of showing how video games can function as an art form in today's culture.

(This is what it would look like if lived in a cartoon world)

To sweeten the package, VGL also includes Pre and Post show events. At the Pre-Show there will be a costume contest as well as video game competitions for games like Guitar Hero II and Space Invaders. At the Post Show there is a meet-and-greet with various video game composers and of course more video games to play. Tommy and Jack did their best to make this an entertaining experience for gamers and non-gamers alike.

Even though I’m FREAKING excited for the event some of you may not be convinced yet. I can only imagine you’re in one of two groups. Group A, or as I would like to call it “Group Skeptic,” doesn't understand why anyone would want to listen to game music outside of the video game. Or Group B, which I will call “Where’s the Guitar Solo so I can Head Bang, Throw Up the Horns, and Rock Out in the Mosh Pit.” Those in group B believe orchestra music isn’t for them and want nothing to do with a string instrument that isn’t plugged into an amp. For both groups I present the orchestral version of Simple and Clean from Kingdom Hearts (another one of my favorite video games).

Anyone excited yet? I know I am and that was just a small taste of what VGL has to offer. If that song didn’t interest you in the slightest bit then I don’t know why you’re still reading this post. If you liked what you heard then you certainly want to go to VGL. If you’re not in the Chicago area don’t worry VGL travels all over the world. Check out the official Video Games Live site to see when it comes to a city near you.

Despite the fact that I want to go VGL so bad that it hurts, I will not be attending the event this year. Through an unfortunate twist of fate I will be out of town when VGL rolls into Chicago (I am literally crying about this…seriously), but I encourage everyone to go. This is definitely one event you don’t want to miss.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Official Launch

Thanks for checking out Nerd Synthesis I hope you enjoy. I currently have a few posts already written and I plan on updating my blog once or twice a week depending on my schedule. Things you should know about the blog.

1. The blog is a bit unruly and I’m having trouble making it conform to my will. If you ever find the page not loading properly it means I’m having an epic battle with the HTML code, but the problem should be fixed by the end of the day.

2. For the life of me I can’t figure out how to make the Read More… links go away at the end of each post. That means that some posts will say Read More… when there isn’t any more to read. (Lies and deception don’t let the internet trick you)

3. The Read More… links automatically open a new page in your browser. I discovered this when I realized I had about 10 tabs of my blog in explorer (I was so confused at first). I’ve been trying to change that too, but I’ve had no luck so far. If you don’t want a new page to open when you read the rest of a post just click the title of the post and the page will load in the same screen.

(It looks like you’ve been tricked, it’s OK it happens to the best of us)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Review

For those of you who have never played Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time or don’t remember how awesome the game was I’ve written this retro review to get you into to Zelda swing of things.

A beautiful young princess has been captured and it’s up to you to save her. No, it’s not Peach or Daisy….. it’s Zelda, again! Let’s take a trip in the way back machine to see how this abduction prone princess has been rescued in the past. Before the shadows of Twilight Princess, the vast oceans of the Wind Waker and the multiple personalities of Majoria’s Mask, there was the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64. This was the Zelda’s first splash into the 3D polygon world and a revolutionary game that brought many new fans to the Zelda series.

You begin the game as Link, a 12 year old boy who just wants to hang with his friends, but through an unfortunate series of events he is thrown into an adventure of a life time. Link’s journey takes him from the acidic belly of a whale to the sweltering heat of the desert to stop the evil plots of Ganondorf. To aid him on his quest Link gains new abilities and items such as a boomerang, sling shot, and a variety of other items that keep him one step ahead of his enemies.

To help you through this journey you are given a fairy friend called Navi. Navi’s function is mostly for targeting, but she also gives you helpful hints on where to go or how to beat enemies. Unfortunately, Navi can be a little annoying because the game assumes that you need help at every point of Ocarina of Time. So be ready for Navi forcibly giving you hints on where to go next.

Game Play

Standard to the Zelda franchise, there are several puzzles that you need to solve. The basic move box here and activate switch there are peppered throughout the game, but some puzzles require a little more thought. The best feature of the game is the time traveling element. While traveling to the future, Link ages seven years taking him past those awkward pimple filled times and transforming him into the heroic stud that we all know and love. Time traveling creates an interesting twist to the game play since you will have to travel back and forth between the past and the future to solve puzzles and gain certain items. The game is also filled with a myriad of mini games that will keep you entertained for hours.


Your ears are in for a treat. Like many other Zelda games music plays an important part in Link’s adventure. Once Link finds his ocarina you’ll start playing songs that allow you to open doors or turn night into day. Eventually, you will find yourself humming one of the many catchy tunes scattered throughout the game.


The graphics are stunning (for its time). From mundane events like swimming across a pond to the cinematic entrance of Princess Zelda, the games graphics are top notch. The varied and lush landscape does its part to immerse you into the game. For me this all translated into no sleeping and minimal bathroom breaks.

Special Features

As an added bonus, Ocarina of Time used Nintendo’s rumble pack. The rumble serves for two purposes, to violently shake during any of the in game cut scenes or to vibrate when you around hidden items.

So What Do I Say?

Princess Zelda may get captured in almost every title she appears in, but it definitely makes for an interesting adventure. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was and is an amazing game that can withstand the weathering of time. It was ground breaking with its beautiful story which was set against picturesque locations and dynamic music. The interesting characters keep this game fresh and the plot leaves you on the seat of your pants. If you missed out on playing this game the first time and you have a Wii I strongly suggest you download the game off the virtual console. Its only 10 dollars and you’ll defiantly be getting your money’s worth and then some.

This game gets 5 thankful princesses out of 5


Happy Birthday Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time

This month Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64 is turning 10. Put up the streamers and throw some confetti because we are going to have a party. In honor of one of my favorite video games (and arguably one of the best games of all times) I will be periodically adding Zelda related posts throughout November.

(Don't party too hard)

Check out the links to my other Zelda themed posts

Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Review