Max Payne: Possibly the worst film of 2008

Well, just returned from seeing Max Payne and still trying to process what I just experienced. Okay, if there is one thing I like almost as much as video-games its movies so I've seen a fair share this past year, some of them really terrible such as "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" and "The Mummy 3". But wow, Max Payne is almost certainly the worst film of 2008. And that isn't just because it completely fails to live up to the source material (more on that in a minute), but its just an extremely poorly made piece of film-making. From the script to the acting to the action sequences, everything is unbelievably bad.

Alright, I'm a big fan of the Max Payne games. I've beaten both of them several times and really enjoy the over-the-top action and awesome sense of style those games convey. In contrast, aside from a minor scuffle in the opening five minutes of the film there is literally no gunfire of any kind until the forty-five minute mark. Think about it, a game that is essentially all about insane gunfights turns into a movie with no action whatsoever for half of its running time. Furthermore, when the guns actually do start firing there is none of that style or absurdity that makes the games so great. There is one sequence approximating bullet-time but its underwhelming in every respect. Wait a second, ITS A MAX PAYNE MOVIE, ITS SHOULD BE ALL BULLET-TIME ALL THE TIME!!! Sorry, but seriously, that was the game's main hook and its completely neglected in favor of endless scenes of poorly delivered, terrible dialogue. Following is an example (minor spoilers, but really, who cares).

Mona Sax is holding Max at gunpoint, convinced he is responsible for her sister's death

Max Payne: We're looking for the same person!
Mona: Yeah...YOU!! (smacks him in the face)

...think about that for a second. Oh, did I mention Mona is played by Mila Kunis of "That 70s Show" fame? Needless to say, she can't really play a convincing Femme Fatale. Not that it matters as Mona is really a pointless character in the film, which doesn't even attempt to develop the love story between her and Max featured so prominently in the games. In fact, I'm going to sum up everything in this movie that is actually derived from the games. Don't worry, its a short list.

1) The character's names
2) The basic premise involving the murder of Max's family and a pharmaceutical company being behind it (though this isn't resolved by the end of the film, possible sequel?)
3) At one point there is a club named Ragnarock.
4) It ends on a helicopter landing pad atop a skyscraper (minus the battle with a helicopter...)

Thats pretty much it. I guess you could argue the film maintains the noir look and feel but its handled so poorly and takes itself so seriously it really doesn't reflect what made the game good.

I simply don't understand how Max Payne was turned into such an uninteresting mess of a movie. The game its based on is basically an interactive action-movie, borrowing a great many elements from John Woo films like "Hard Boiled" or "Hard Target". So all you need to do is make a movie like that and there you go, not try to make it a dialogue-driven mystery story.

I'll close with another list, this time of better Max Payne-related things you could spend your money on.

1) Buy both Max Payne one and two for 15 dollars through Steam (if you were to factor in snack costs, actually cheaper than seeing the movie)
2) See "Wanted" in a budget theater near you. It provides all the absurd action and bullet-time this movie should have had.
3) Rent (or perhaps buy) "Shoot 'em Up". Not a great film, but one that at least captures the fast paced, action-filled feel of the Max Payne games.
4) Watch or re-watch "Hard Boiled" or any other John Woo film (other than MI2 or Windtalkers). 
5) Buy some plastic guns at a dollar store and dive around your living room while making gun sounds with your mouth.
6) Buy two meatball subs and give one to a homeless man. You'll feel good about yourself and have a hearty meal.

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Freezepop is awesome

Just had to drop a line about Freezepop. Was a fan prior to seeing them live at PAX but that really cemented it to the point where I wanted to purchase all their albums and regular their site and whatnot. Well, I ordered a couple albums about a month ago and they accidentally sent a copy of one I already owned (Future Future Future Perfect). I sent off an e-mail mentioning the mistake and Liz Enthusiasm herself replied apologizing for the mistake and assuring me the right one was on the way. I couldn't believe the lead singer of the band was taking care of seemedly minor business like that. It just made me that much more of a fan and also feeling kind of bad I didn't just quietly order the correct one again. Oh well, they may have lost a copy of Future Future Future Perfect but I gifted it so hopefully they'll have a new fan sometime soon.

Anyway, the catalyst for writing this was I finally got Freezepop Forever in the mail and its awesome. So, yeah. Done.

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Kraznor's even later and even more irrelevant PAX 2008 Blog

Alright, its time to finish this. Its been about six weeks since PAX and 3 weeks since I last wrote anything about it. At this point things are far hazier so I'm going to mention whatever still stands out to me after all this time, proving it was a memorable and worthwhile thing to mention.

Day 2

Alright, first thing I recall about day two was meeting Ryan Davis and Vinny Caravella in the flesh. Saw them several times on day one but they were all rolling in a large group and I didn't have the nerve to say anything. Just two of them was far more approachable so I briefly chatted with them. Vinny asked what my favorite game of the show was and I mentioned seeing Dead Space but neglecting to play it. Another Giant Bomb fan cut in and I just let that happen and walked away. Still, glad I said something at long last.

Later, while eating lunch, I briefly chatted with a girl dressed as Raz from Psychonauts who happened to notice my Double Fine shirt. Was a nice costume, complete with bacon and merit badges. Tim Schafer himself actually posted a story about her on the Double Fine website, so that was neat.

Attended the Giant Bomb panel, which was very enjoyable despite the fact I had to stand at the back (I'm kind of visible in one of the photos Vinny took, so I really was there). Saw that animated clip Rich Gallup showed but wasn't in the video of the panel. Looks pretty funny, involves dinosaurs in gun turrets and buildings exploding. In short, awesome.

Waited in a massive line for a good half hour to see "The Wizard" only to find out the DVD wasn't working and they were going to watch "Tron" instead. I left and instead saw "12 Monkeys" which I hadn't seen in awhile. While I did enjoy this, turns out I missed MC Frontalot which I now regret having seen some videos of what he is all about. Oh well, hope he is there next year.

Managed to get into the Fallout 3 presentation though I missed a good chunk of it. Still, game looks awesome and Bethesda gives away awesome stuff, so that was time well spent.

Day 3

Day three was the shortest and least interesting day, though I guess thats to be expected what with the show ending and all. Entered a draw to win a "lifetime" supply of Brawndo as they sold out very early and I could't buy any (really wanted to try it after hearing the Giant Bomb guys discuss it).

Accidentally caught about thirty minutes of the Wil Wheaton panel which was really awesome. That guy is a great story-teller and I fully intend to attend the panel next year, provided he returns. I was there to see Omegathon Round 5, which I did see. Man, Jenga is intense when the stakes are high. Edge of your seat excitement which sounds absurd but you had to have been there to get it.

Later in the day I waited a good long time to see the final round of the Omegathon. Big question was what game would be chosen, turns out it was Vs. Excitebike which I personally thought was kind of lame but whatever. It wasn't even close, so it wasn't that fun to watch either but whatever. It was still cool being in a room packed with people watching a NES game being played on a big screen and cheering and whatnot. I hope to one day live in a world where video game tournaments of this nature are televised and real sports are a thing of the past.

Anyway, thats about it. In conclusion, PAX is completely awesome. Many, many awesome little things happened over the course of those three days. Awesome costumes, awesome games and an amazing sense of community that I've never experienced anywhere else. Honestly, kind of a life-changing experience. I have never been prouder to be a completely obssessed videogame enthusiast and I fully intend to go to PAX 09. Hope to see you there, would-be reader.



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Kraznor's Ridiculously Late PAX 2008 Blog, Part 1

Yes, it was close to a month ago and I’m only now getting around to mentioning anything about my time at PAX ’08, but that’s only because I just got the pictures I took while I was there and really wanted to include some. Sadly, that looked really messy so I’ll just add them to my profile (the good ones anyway). Anyway, here is a chronological re-telling of all I saw and did at the show.

 

 

Okay, the first day officially started at 2PM but I headed down to the convention center around 11AM just to see if anything was already going on. When I arrived there were already several thousand people waiting, so I got my pass and bag of pamphlets and got in line. I actually spent a great deal of time in lines during my time at the show but this was far from a bad thing, largely due to the positive vibe that permeated the entire place. Every single person in that building was a gaming fanatic just like me so it was really easy to just start up conversations with complete strangers due to that frame of reference.

 

The only other experience I’ve had that approximated being with such a like-minded group was waiting in line for the Wii outside Wal-Mart two years ago, but this was so much bigger and better than that. It seemed like one of out every three people there was carrying a DS or PSP with them, so there were multiplayer matches happening all over the place on all kinds of different games. I regrettably did not bring either of my portable consoles to the show on days one and three due to an irrational fear of theft. Reflecting back on it, I don’t think that was a legitimate concern as there were “enforcers” everywhere and a real feeling of camaraderie with everyone there. Definitely bringing them next year.

 

Anyway, eventually everyone in line flooded onto the show-floor and I proceeded to check out some games. I’ll just throw up a list of games I played and my impressions of them in a later post, just to avoid dry descriptions of mediocre games.

 

Alright, so I was on the show-floor for about an hour and a half when I started feeling pretty hungry. I exited the show-floor only to walk past all the Giant Bomb guys, who must have just arrived at the show. I just glanced, did a double take and then kind of scurried away. I don’t know, I just couldn’t handle seeing all those dudes from my favourite website and podcast live and in person like that. I later saw them all walking around the show-floor with Rich Gallup and once again didn’t say anything. I actually feel pretty stupid about it now but whatever.

 

After all that nonsense, I waited in line for nearly an hour to play some Left 4 Dead. It was worth the wait though, as the game really is a lot of fun, even though I didn’t know any of the other guys in my squad. Definitely looking forward to this one.

 

Then I made the mistake of stopping by the “Dead Space” booth without actually playing the game. There were maybe three people ahead of me but I really wanted to check out the Telltale games panel about “Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People” so I didn’t stick around. As a result, I never got to play the game at the show as there was a really long line at all times from that point on. Still, from what I saw peering over people’s shoulders as they played, it’s coming along pretty well and should be a good survival horror game.

 

The Strong Bad panel was pretty enjoyable, though some of the questions asked during the “Q and A” portion were pretty stupid, but I guess that’s to be expected. After hearing the guys from Telltale talk I decided I really ought to play the Sam and Max games so I ended up buying seasons 1 and 2 at their booth later on.

 

Around 9PM the concerts began and this turned out to be one of my highlights of the show. First came “The Oneups”, a band I’d never heard of but they sounded pretty good, playing an assortment music from a bunch of classic games including “Castlevania II”, “Chrono Trigger” and “Duck Tales”.

 

The next act was the main reason I attended the concert portion, “Freezepop”. They actually sound really good live. At one point they asked everyone in the crowd to hold up their PSPs, DS’, iPods etc. and the result was a pretty awe-inspiring site that my fuzzy pictures hardly convey. It was one of those awesome things that could only happen with a room full of unashamed nerds and I was really happy to be there for it. The encore they played was also completely awesome, starting with “Less Talk More Rokk” and closing with Europe’s “The Final Countdown”.

 

After that was Jonathan Coulton, who I’d never heard of prior to the show but I can now say I’m a fan. My favourite of his was probably “Creepy Doll” or perhaps “Mr. Fancy Pants” largely due to the goofiness of it. Actually, my favourite part of his performance was Mr. Coulton himself, as he would talk to the crowd a lot, even addressing individual things people shouted out at him. It was pretty neat, he really is quite funny.

 

Anyway, that’s pretty much day one of PAX. The concert ended around 1:30 AM, I bought some Freezepop stuff and then headed back to the hotel around 2AM.
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PG-13 Max Payne film? I bid you good day sir... (storms out)

Okay, I know it is never wise to actually anticipate the release of a film based on a video-game as that has never turned out well in the past but I was legitimately intrigued by the "Max Payne" adaptation starring Mark Wahlberg. However, according to a story I just read over at Kotaku the director's intent was to make a PG-13 rated film. Sure, it currently has received an R-rating but the fact that it just barely obtained such a rating is outrageous. A game based on the gritty, noirish Max Payne DEMANDS an R-rating. I want all kinds of slow-motion carnage, some gangster language and as gritty a tone as possible. I'm really disappointed to hear they were aiming for a low rating this whole time. I don't know, this spells doom for the movie and my belief that it may actually be kind of good has been severely shaken.

EDIT: Well, its official. As of September 26 this film is officially PG-13. Ugh.

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Xbox 360 Lifespan: 1 year, 11 months

Well, I thought I'd found the one Xbox 360 from that initial batch of systems that was immune to all this "Red ring of death" madness but if finally happened. Curious thing is, I installed the Mercenaries 2 patch mere seconds before it died. It downloaded the patch, rebooted the game and then choked and died. Maybe the patch did it or it was just a coincidence, I don't know. Either way, its seems I will be without an Xbox 360 for about a month, which has never happened before. Still, getting it repaired seems like it won't be to difficult, there is no cost and it should only take three weeks plus mailing time and whatnot. Still, I'm thinking this may be some message from the fates to upgrade to an Elite. Its dropping in price in two days and that install feature is coming up with the fall update and that would basically require a bigger hard-drive. I must think about this.

Oh, and even though no one reads this I plan to go really in-depth regarding my experiences at PAX 2008 in the near future, just waiting on obtaining some pictures I took at the show (borrowed a camera).

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