Forgotten Friday – NetFlix Instant Review: 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag

What would happen if Meet the Parents was released 3 years earlier, and instead of a guy having bad things happen to him because of his bad luck, it’s because his bag on the plane was swapped with that of a hitman? Ok, that’s still bad luck, but you would get 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag, one of the reasons that Orion Pictures is no longer in business.

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8 Heads in a Duffel Bag came out in 1997 and I do remember when it came to theaters it looked like something I’d like to see. It looked like a twisted dark comedy that I could enjoy, but it was in and out of theaters in no time. This didn’t seem like a good sign, but I figured I’d rent it when it came out to check it out. My favorite video store went out of business at the time and I could not rent it, and it was quickly forgotten. If only it stayed that way.

Joe Pesci plays a hitman that somehow manages to get 8 heads that are in one duffel bag onto an airplane through airport security no problem. I know this is pre-9/11, but still, already ridiculous. So he tries to keep it near him in the overhead compartment, but some human organs are being transported which takes priority and it gets moved to checked baggage. It just so happens that the person sitting next to him on the flight had the same duffel bag, and guess who gets their bags mixed up? Oh those wacky writers. The other passenger is on vacation with his girlfriend and is meeting the parents for the first time. In his duffel bag was a paper he was writing for med school so Joe Pesci now has a name and hunts him down in Mexico to get those heads back.

Long story short, anything that can go wrong goes wrong, all while the main character is trying to hide what is really going on to his girlfriend’s parents. The girlfriend is played by Kristy Swanson who always looks good (and picks bad movies) and she helps, while trying to help cover as well. In the end, it’s just not funny and tries too hard to be like “look, this is funny…. and it’s dark!” When I saw that the NetFlix average rating was 3 stars I figured it’d be a decent movie to watch on NetFlix Instant, but I did not enjoy this movie at all.

NetFlix Instant quality was full frame/pan and scan presentation and fuzzy quality, but I really didn’t care. Not sure if this is how the DVD is, but again, not important at all.

1/5 stars – Belongs in Forgotten Friday because NetFlix Instant no longer shows it anymore, even they want it forgotten. Stay far away.

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Forgotten Friday- DVD Review: Wonderfalls

If you are a fan of Family Guy you may remember the first episode when it came back from cancellation (North by North Quahog). In the beginning of this episode Peter lists off a long list of shows that “Well I suppose if all those shows go down the tubes we have a shot.” Wonderfalls is one of those shows mentioned, but unlike a lot of the others, it should not have been. The show has been out on DVD for a few years now, but I just recently sat down and watched it all and I enjoyed it very much. The show was canceled before all episodes were aired, but the DVD set contains all 13 episodes.

Wonderfalls was created by Bryan Fuller who also did Dead Like Me on Showtime and most recently Pushing Daisies on ABC. Notice a trend with his shows? He also was a “creative consultant” on the first and third seasons of Heroes which many regard as the better seasons. Wonderfalls is about a girl named Jaye who is a college graduate yet lives in a trailer park and works at a small retail store in Niagara Falls dealing with tourists. Fans of Dead Like Me with recognize the sarcastic tone and attitude of the lead female, but different enough that it doesn’t feel like he is ripping off his own characters. The hook of this show is that inanimate objects speak to her and tell her to do things. These directions are usually for her to do some good in her life and give her direction but instead of being specific they are cryptic and she has to figure out what they mean and why she has to do it, usually making some missteps along the way. It also makes her seem crazy and unreliable to her family and friends leading to further struggle.

Unfortunately my describing it cannot do it justice and I feel that Fox had the same issue which made it hard to market. The lead actress labeled the show as “Joan of Arcadia on acid” in an interview and I would say I have to say I agree. This is far from anything else seen on TV and I’m sure that is why it did not do well, much like Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies. These are great shows for people looking for something new and original, and unfortunately it’s just too “out there” for your average audience. I highly recommend checking out the DVD set, which is usually sold for around $15-20 and deciding for yourself.

As for the quality of the DVDs themselves, they look just fine on a standard definition TV but the extra compression to fit more episodes on one disc becomes very apparent on an HDTV. The episodes are roughly 45 minutes each so to fit the 5 or 6 per disc they had to make sacrifices on the video and sound quality by using lots of compression. It looks grainy and blocky at times, with colors being more washed out and “bleeding” but overall watchable. I am sure this was all done as a way to produce the DVD set at a cheaper cost to use less discs and since this is the only release I’m sure the show will receive it is the best we will get unfortunately. I cannot fault Fox for this since releasing the show was a risk with it being a canceled show, but at least now people can own it and see 9 episodes that were never aired.

4/5 stars – An extremely well written and acted show that was canceled before its time. Highly recommended for those looking for something unique in their TV watching. Not the highest quality DVDs, but well worth the price.

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Indie Games Wednesday – XBLI Review: Physics Lab

This week’s review is not going to be a typical review because Physics Lab is not a typical “game.” Physics Lab is basically a sandbox program that allows you to create objects and play around with the physics engine. If this interests you, read on. If you just want to be able to play a game with clear objectives, a beginning and end, etc, then look elsewhere.
When browsing through the Indie Games new releases as I do most days I stumbled across Physics Lab and I thought it sounded like a cool idea. Lucky for me the nice guys over at 2.0 Studios actually sent me an e-mail a couple days later saying they liked my site and wanted me to check out their game. They were nice enough to send me a free copy and I played around with it for a couple weeks to get a grasp on this overwhelming program. While overwhelming may seem like a bad thing at first, it just means that after you get passed the learning curve you have quite a powerful program to work with. You can create various objects through the use of shapes, springs, and pins and make them interact in various ways based on physics. You can make stars that you just want to throw around, boxes you want to knock over, or even make machines like a car that drive around and shoots down other stacks of boxes. Just mess around and have fun with it is the name of the game, but it is not a game creator and therefore you’re basically just making “scenes.”

Kumoon As soon as you start he the game/program/app/whatever you’re greeted to some nice physics with the logo and options on springs bouncing around with balls falling down. You can pick New, Load, Credits, Controls, Tutorials, 2.0 Codebox (click here for info on that), and Other Games (ads for the other games from 2.0 Studios). All these options are self-explanatory and just lead you to various sections. The tutorial section is just a series of videos. They are not interactive which would have helped me a lot more than just a video since I learn by doing, but there is still a wealth of information there. There are quite a few of them to watch and are broken down into just over a minute for most of them so it’s not information overload each time, but sometimes they do go through some of the stuff quite quickly (especially since you are just watching a video and not doing it so you have to remember all that stuff by the time you load up the game proper). On a side note some videos just end on a static shot, some fade to black, one even faded to black yet kept running for another 15 or so seconds. I do not recommend trying to use this program at all before watching the videos and reading the controls for it. Check our more indie games on Sc0tt official website, also check his latest releases and get kill shot bravo cheats.

Onto the controls themselves, they complex but you can do so much with them. You can zoom in/out, setup a grid, draw objects, copy/paste, delete, move, add more objects, and modify various specs of the object like mass, gravity, etc. There is a ton that this program can do and they did a great job trying to map things to a controller and not a keyboard like most other programs of this nature. Once you get the hang of it you will be able to work rather quickly at making the objects and modifying things as you see fit. Once done making your creations you can save them for later use, but there is a limit of only 10 slots. I understood limitations like that back on consoles with memory cards but it did not make much sense to me when you can have a hard drive to store many more creations. With the wide variety of things you can make in the game, you would think you would want to be able to store as many as possible to show off to friends. Maybe (hopefully) this is something that can be fixed in an update. [UPDATE 2/4: I just got an e-mail stating that they will be upping the amount to 50 in a patch] I also had the game crash a couple times, but for the amount of time I played it was very minor.

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This is a great set of tools for those that just want to play around with some physics and create some cool scenes, but it is not for everyone. I had fun playing around with it for this review and I will definitely be playing with it some more and maybe having some like-minded friends over to work together and create some things so had I not got the game for free I would have gladly paid the 240 MS points ($3) that they are asking for it. If anything, you’re helping contribute to the studio that can hopefully make more games using the wonderful physics engine that they have created. No rating for this review since it’s not really a game and its usefulness is based on how much you like to just play around. Click here to go to the official Xbox.com listing and add it to your download queue.

Tech

TV Premiere Review: V

V premiered Tuesday night on ABC with lots of hype and praise behind it.  After watching it, I’m not quite sure why.  For those that don’t know, it’s a remake of the 80’s TV mini-series about a group of alien visitors (hence, V) that claim to come in peace and offer up new technology and medicine to help Earth out.  Due to their peaceful nature and wanting to give they gain lots of followers in the world that want to do whatever they can to help out.  One of the ways they help out is spray painting red Vs all over the cities to be “A symbol of hope.” Now we all know they are up to something so that’s not a real shocker and when the humans find this out they have groups out to stop them but the followers won’t make it easy.  In the original series it wasn’t revealed until later on that they were hostile and were actually reptilian in nature instead of human looking but these two facts are given right in the premiere episode of the remind.  This makes me wonder if they have other twists up their sleeve coming in the future because so much is given away right away that I don’t know what I’m “looking forwards to.”

 

I can see why they remade this now though other than the obvious “there are no more original ideas” theory.  If I hadn’t already figured out that they are playing off of post 9/11 fears of terrorism (as opposed to the original’s cold war era fear) they start the show off with “Where were you on 9/11?”  The rest of the show makes no reference to 9/11, and I was almost thinking that maybe they were going to try and have this happen instead of the terrorist attacks on the WTC and maybe have the WTC show up in the show.  Guess what, nope.  They purely put that there to stir up emotion.  To complete the slap in the face of being obvious there are characters that are looking for sleeper cell terrorists and guess what….  they’re aliens!  There are other things that bothered me too like the fact that it was trying to be “hip” and “cool” by having Facebook fan pages and a character that becomes a follower because he friends wants him to.  I think it’s a bit obvious why the friend keeps getting him in trouble, but maybe that’s just me.  For fans of Firefly you will see Morena Baccarin and Alan Tudyk as well as the girl that was Supergirl in the WB show Smallville and Joel Gretch from The 440 and the Taken mini series.  Add in Elizabeth Mitchell from Lost and you can tell they are trying VERY hard to get sci-fi fans to watch this show.  They got me, and the ratings have apparently been the best debut of the season, but will people continue to watch?

Below is the episode for you to watch and see for yourself.  Feel free to leave comments.  The show has a 4 day delay and I am not sure how they will post future episodes.  ABC has been very strange about their series being on Hulu.

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