Napoleon Dynamite – It’s hard to describe this movie. Basically, I’ll just say that if you liked The Royal Tenenbaums or Rushmore, then you’ll probably like this. It’s got the same sort of off-the-wall characters. The best part of the whole movie has to be the way Napoleon talks. Oddly, this movie reminded me more of Amelie, because of the sort of dreamlike haze the whole movie occurs in. Some scenes just leave you baffled, such as when Napoleon and Pedro participate in some sort of 4H milk judging competion – and win blue ribbons. Anyways, it’s totally good, and one of my favorite films this year.
Zatoichi – The Blind Swordsman – This is appearently a classic character from Japan (think Zorro), and this is a modern film using the character. Zatoichi himself is played by “Beat” Takeshi, the older commentator from Takeshi’s Castle, which is redubbed here as MXC. This movie is a really odd mix of humor, violence, and melodrama. Overall, it works very well, flowing from one mood to the next in an easy way. You may be left laughing at the tap dance scene during the finale, which feels like it goes on for twenty minutes, but it’s an exellent movie, with the classic japanese too-badass-for-his-own-good main character. He’s blind, but he can still take on eight guys in the rain without missing a beat.
Beyond Good & Evil – It’s tempting to write this game off as a “chick” game. Certainly it seems to fit the mold with its non-combat-oriented-gameplay (you’ll spend more time taking photos of wildlife than anything else) and it’s cute, anime-inspired character designs (rastafarian rhinos?). But beneath the non-threatening package it presents is a genuinely good game, with an interesting plot. What starts as almost a nature safari game grows into conspiracy theories, and the main character becomes a spy. There is a reason this game is always on game magazines’ lists of underrated games. A word of warning though – the final boss is unbearably lame. A simple, but incredibly difficult pattern fight, which I actually gave up on after he killed me for the 50th time. Still, right up until the boss, it was a very clever and well-though-out game, that kept me fascinated the whole time.
Fable – Okay, I know this one’s kind of a no-brainer. It’s “the most highly anticipated X-box RPG since Knights of the Old Republic,” and as a result it will inevitably draw a lot of comparisons. First of all, stop thinking of this as an RPG. Yes, it was marketed that way, but it’s not the kind of game where you choose your class and skills. This is a hack-and-slash game, like Diablo, but with a lot of RPG elements thrown in. This is where the game gets interesting. You can play the game in many different ways, both in terms of your approach to combat, and in terms of morality. Although Peter Molyneux farmed this game out to a child company and wasn’t hugely involved, there’s no denying his influence. This is definitely from the man that broughts us Dungeon Keeper, Populous, and Black & White. And like all those games, this one doesn’t quite live up to the hype. It’s great, but it’s not earth-shattering, and it’s not going to “redefine the genre.” Still, I love the balance between taking quests and wandering around, and the combat system is genuinly enjoyable. I run into the random combat encounters instead of away from them. Many people have complained about the length of the game, but I suspect these people only followed the main storyline and ignored all the playful things you can do in this game, like customize your character, buy a house, or get married. You can spend all your time making a profit buying a selling trade goods, or become a real-estate baron. Conclusion: It doesn’t live up to the hype, but for a Molyneux worshipper like myself, it’s still a great game.