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DVD Review: Tilt, The Battle to Save Pinball
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Tilt, The Battle to Save PinballTilt, The Battle to Save Pinball
A Documentary by Greg Maletic
Featuring George Gomez, Larry DeMar, Pat Lawlor, Roger Sharpe, Duncan Brown, Steve Kordek, Louis Koziarz, Jim Palta, Lyman Sheats, Cameron Silver, Tom Urban
tilt-movie.com
Release Date: April 8th, 2008
60 minutes, Unrated

Tilt: The Battle to Save Pinball is a fantastic new documentary by filmmaker Greg Maletic, which chronicles the rise and fall of the pinball industry as seen through the eyes of Williams Electronics (who held a staggering 70% of the pinball market in its prime) and their enormously talented staff of engineers and designers.

As one would expect, the film starts off with a brief history of pinball, its up’s and down’s throughout the years, etc., but the real focus of this documentary is on the creation and implementation of the supposed savior of the industry, Pinball 2000.

After historical successes in the early to mid ’90s with machines like Terminator 2, The Addams’ Family, and Twilight Zone, Williams’ pinball sales hit a major slump in the latter part of the decade and they were seriously looking to move into the more lucrative slot machine business. The guys on the Williams Pinball team (headed up by Larry DeMar, George Gomez and Pat Lawlor, each video game/pinball creative legends in their own right) are challenged to come up with something, anything that will “save” pinball. Their response was to create the awesome, Pinball 2000 machine, Revenge from Mars. The genius of the Pinball 2000 machines was that they ingeniously melded (through the use of “trick” 3-D/hologram technology reflected onto the playfield from the monitor above) the best of what video games and pinball machines had to offer in terms of entertainment value.

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Metal Gear Awesome: A Retrospective
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Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the PatriotsYeah, yeah”¦I know I “borrowed” the title of this article from the hilarious viral video that was all over the Internets a couple years ago, so sue me.

With the imminent release of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots tomorrow, I thought it would be interesting to provide a retrospective (and reminiscence) for those of you geeks out there who are unfamiliar with this long-standing video game franchise. Once I get to spend some quality time with the new game itself, my review will follow but for now, you’ll have to settle for this!

For the uninitiated, the Metal Gear series was conceived by Hideo Kojima for the Japanese video game company Konami waaaay back in 1987, a time when hair metal and the Nintendo Entertainment System ruled the roost here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. The series has always been a bit different than most video games because of its emphasis on stealth and intelligence, rather than pure twitch, “run-and-gun” action. For this reason, the Metal Gear games are usually referred to as “tactical espionage action,” a term coined by Kojima-san himself. The gameplay typically puts you (the player) in the boots of world weary super-spy/soldier Solid Snake, fighting the good fight against the eponymous Metal Gears, which are, for lack of a better description, bipedal (i.e. walking) tanks with nuclear capabilities and the corrupt forces that wish to control this awesome weapon of mass destruction.

The overall plotline of the Metal Gear series is more convoluted than that of a royal bloodline and is almost impossible to relate in its entirety without going a little bit crazy yourself, and it is mainly for this reason that the series has many detractors. So, for simplicity’s sake, let’s just say that Snake and his cohorts lead some pretty fucked up (virtual) lives and leave it at that, shall we?

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Movie Review: Kung Fu Panda
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Kung Fu PandaKung Fu Panda
Directed by Mark Osborne,
John Stevenson
Written by Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
Starring Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu,
Ian McShane, David Cross, Jackie Chan
Rated PG
Release date: June 6, 2008

The latest release from DreamWorks Animation Studios, Kung Fu Panda, is a charming martial arts film that the whole family can enjoy. This film borrows its general premise from a late 70’s kung-fu flick, The Five Deadly Venoms, except here the animals (and their corresponding fighting styles) are not represented by men in masks, the various creatures (panda, monkey, tiger, crane, viper, mantis, etc.) are played by themselves”¦anthropomorphized, of course.

The plot of Kung Fu Panda focuses on Po (Jack Black), an obese panda who dreams of being a kung-fu master and not of schlepping away in his father’s lowly noodle shop. As fate would have it, the clumsy Po is surprisingly picked to be the next Dragon Warrior who is destined to save his peaceful village from the ferocious Tai Lung (Ian McShane).

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Comic Review: ‘Ayre Force’ TPB
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Ayre ForceAyre Force
Written by Adam Slutsky,
Joseph Phillip Illidge
Art by Shawn Martinbrough
Color by Andrew Dalhouse, Felix Serrano
Letters by Marshall Dillon
Bodog
Cover price: $19.95; Available now

I’d like to start of this review by saying that this graphic novel is somewhat critic-proof because the whole purpose of its existence is to raise money in the fight against bear bile farming.

What in the holy hell is bear bile farming,” I can already hear you asking. Well, I’m glad you asked because I had no idea that this was an issue myself. It seems that in many Asian countries bear bile is harvested for medicinal purposes. Of course, the bears just don’t hand over their bile, so, as you can imagine, this harvesting isn’t accomplished by the most humanitarian of means.

That’s where the titular Ayre Force comes in. Ayre Force is kind of like a cross between Captain Planet and the Planeteers and the A-Team, but nowhere near as cool”¦as the A-Team, at least, because Captain Planet blew diseased goats in my humble opinion.

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Comic Review: Awakening #4 and 5
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Archaia Studios Press-Awakening #4Awakening #4-5
Written by Nick Tapalansky
Artwork by Alex Eckman-Lawn
Back Covers by Mark Holmes, Kaitlin Terentz
Lettering by Thomas Mauer
Archaia Studios Press
Cover price: $3.50; Available Now

Awakenings is the continuing tale of a mystifying zombie infestation that is afflicting the small town of Park Falls. In this fourth issue, Dr. Daniel Howe has exhausted almost all possibilities and is still no closer to finding out what exactly is going on, and ex-cop Derrick makes peace with the quasi-insane Cynthia, but something (or someone) nasty from his past may be coming back to haunt him.

Let me say here that I just don’t get the whole zombie thing. I just never found zombies all that scary and/or interesting, and this, unfortunately, is a story about zombies. But I’m willing to look beyond that here for one reason and one reason alone: the multimedia art stylings of Alex Eckman-Lawn. His work in Awakenings really takes this simple zombie/mystery story to another level and makes it worth reading. Eckman-Lawn finds a way to make almost every panel interesting and a work of art unto itself. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, he will have a more challenging narrative to work with.

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