Morrowind/Skyrim Theme Piano and Violin Cover

To cap off the night as I recover from that arrow I took to the knee I would like to share one of the many reasons why YouTube continues to be the gift that keeps on giving.

Two very talented ladies decided to take it upon themselves to cover both the main themes to Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim as a medley. To say that they knocked it out of the park would be an understatement. To think they accomplished this by listening to the two themes and creating the musical arrangements themselves without any sheet music just speaks to their talent as musicians.

Source: YouTube

Trailer: Alan Wake’s American Nightmare

One of my favorite video game titles of 2010 was the Remedy Entertainment and Microsoft Studios psychological thriller game Alan Wake. This title was a psychological thriller mashed up with survival horror that was influenced by Stephen King stories and David Lynch’s eccentric tv series, Twin Peaks. It was one of the few games which put a major scare to me whenever I played it which was usually at night. While the game didn’t sell copies in the Modern Warfare 3 level it did sell enough that it gained quite a huge fan following who clamored for more of Alan Wake and his fight against the malevolent Dark Presence. (Lisa Marie’s been trying the gaming thing lately and I must admit that Alan Wake is right up her dark sensibilities). Fans ended up getting two DLC chapters with “The Signal” and “The Writer”.

There had been rumors and talks about a proper sequel in the works within Remedy Entertainment, but such things continued to be unsubstantiated. While a rumor of sequel continued to persist the developers finally announced that there will be a new Alan Wake game, but it wasn’t going to be a sequel. It was to be a stand-alone Xbox Live Arcade title that should keep fans of the franchise happy while a sequel was being bandied about within the studio (I believe a sequel is already in development but still unconfirmed). This latest title was to be called Alan Wake’s American Nightmare.

The trailer for this title first premiered at Spike TV’s VGA 2011 and the game has tentative release date sometime around the Q1 of 2012.

Trailer: Mass Effect 3 “Against All Odds”

Mass Effect 3 is one of the most-anticipated gaming titles for 2012. It will be the third and final title that chronicles the character of Cmdr. Shepard and his fight to save the galaxy against the extragalactic threat of the “Reapers”. It’s developer, BioWare, has been quite busy since the title was first announced with showing gaming fans some tidbits about the game’s development. Most of the trailer which has come out about this game has been a mix of pre-rendered CG animation and actual gameplay footage which at times seems to be quite indistinguishable from each other.

The latest trailer for this game first premiered at this weekend’s Spike TV’s Video Game Awards. To say that the reaction to the trailer was a near-unanimous geekgasm would be an understatement. If there was a game that will pull gamers from their near-obsessive playing of Bethesda’s Skyrim it would be BioWare’s Mass Effect 3. This trailer is all gameplay and shows some of the latest gameplay mechanics (such as the dodge roll moves) during one of the game’s many stages.

I, for one, have already preordered and fully paid my N7 Collector’s Edition copy of this game and will just  have to wait for it’s release date of March 6, 2012.

Trailer 2: Battleship (dir. Peter Berg)

With Skyrim having taken over my life for the past month or so I’ve been quite remiss with my duties on the site, but no more!

To help me catch up on things around these parts I’ve decided to join the rest of blogosphere and post the latest official trailer for what looks like the offspring when Transformers and 2012 decided to mate. What we get is Peter Berg’s ludicrous, but looks to be quite fun, film adaptation of that classic Hasbro wargame toy. Battleship looks to fill up 2012’s lack of a new Transformers film.

Some have begun to call this the Rihanna film, but I rather think that she’s just a piece in the machine that is Hasbro’s latest attempt to rule the entertainment world with their films based on their classic toy lines. I was very iffy about Berg doing this film, but after two trailer and this one showing more scifi carnage and action I may just put this on my “guilty pleasure” list for 2012.

Battleship is set of a May 18, 2012 release date.

Song of the Day: Sacred Worlds (by Blind Guardian)

The latest “Song of the Day” comes from those metal gods who make up the power metal band, Blind Guardian. It’s a song which begins their latest full-length album, At The Edge of Time, and also a reworking of the song the band created for the console rpg title, Sacred 2: Fallen Angel. The song I’ve chosen this time around is “Sacred Worlds”.

The song was originally titled “Sacred” and was introduced in the game the band made it for during a quaint sequence where virtual, fantasy versions of the band do headbanging show in your typical fantasy inn populated by orcs, goblins, trolls and other find gentle creatures. While the original song was great on its own when the band reworked it with a brand new orchestral intro and outro the song took on a more epic sound.

It’s a pretty long song at a running time of 9:17 and is one of the better songs in Blind Guardian’s latest album. It’s also one of thew songs in my Skyrim playlist which I listen to nonstop while playing in Bethesda Softworks’ latest epic rpg title.

Sacred Worlds

The realm’s bleeding
It suffers
Old and weak

No further arguing
There is war at hand
The system’s failing
Engines running

Then after all
I sense the end is dawning
These lunatics deny the truth

I know I will not fail
There’ll be

War it’s now or never
We shall stand together
One by one
This world is sacred
(I’m coming home)
War it’s now or never
We shall stand together
One by one
This world is sacred
I’m coming home

Coming home

You chase in twilight
And you know
You will be on your own
On your own

The misery shown
I’ll be alone in this hour
I’ll face the unknown
Witness the end

I’m bleeding, I’m fading
Here in my final hour
When long-lost memories return
And a voice keeps calling
“All dead and gone
It’s out of hand
Life is in motion”
I’m wishing, I’m fading
“Time to wake up
Face the truth”

I’m sinking
I’m drowning
There’s no doubt, no regret
“Time to reveal now”
This is no illusion
It is real
Carry on the flame
It’s not over now
Watch me, I will rise
Time to reveal now

I know I will not fail

I’ll go on forever
All that really matters
Blessed realm
This world is sacred
(I’m coming home)
War it’s now or never
We shall stand together
One by one
This world is sacred
(I’m coming home)

Yesterday’s gone
There’s no today, no tomorrow
I’m raised from the dead
The ritual failed

There at the gates
I’m left alone in this hour
Driven insane
I am left alone

And now I drown in deepest shadows
While the golden hall is sealed
I’m wishing
I’m fading
And I’m part of the machine

My eyes are the eyes of a dead man
And I feel the unholy stream
The source of my power
I’m in control

I will live forever
All that really matters
Find the one
This world is sacred
(I’m coming home)
War it’s now or never
We shall stand together
One by one
This world is sacred
I’m coming home

I spread my wings
But keep on falling
I should have known
I can see it coming
The war is over
There’s whispering in the wind
Just let me out of here
There is no way
There’s no end
While all the suffering goes on
All that I know
Is that I’m not insane
It’s not over

Trailer: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

I will admit right here and right now that I really enjoyed G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra when it came out in 2009. I know that it was really panned by critics and many film-goers, but I thought it brought the cartoonish action of the original cartoon to life. I wasn’t too thrilled with some of the casting choices, but overall I had fun with the film. I wasn’t really the only one who enjoyed it since it made quite enough in the box-office to warrant a sequel. This sequel looks to bring in only a few people from the first film (Channing Tatum, Ray Park and Lee Byung-hun as Duke, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow respectively) while bringing in a new cast and, most important of all, a new director and writers.

Jon Chu, fresh off the success of Fast Five, took on this project and from the trailer shown above it looks like he has injected the very same fun action he did for the Fast and the Furious franchise. It’s going to be interesting to see if the action in this sequel follows the same cartoonish (lasers and stuff) kind they had in the first film or will Chu and crew go old-school action and just go with bullets, bombs and rockets. If they go with the latter then I am all for it. Plus, it has “The Rock” as Roadblock. That alone had me as ticket-buyer on Day One of it’s release.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is set for a June, 29, 2012 release.

A Dangerous Quickie With Lisa Marie: The Descendants (dir. by Alexander Payne)

One thing that always happens at Oscar season is that certain films will be so embraced by the critical establishment that even daring to challenge their opinion to even the slightest degree will be interpreted as some sort of cinematic heresy.  These are the films that make you feel as if Roger Ebert is standing directly behind you, holding a gun to your head and commanding you to enjoy and be moved by what you’re watching.  Last year, that film was The Social Network.  This year, at least for me, it’s The Descendants.

One reason why The Descendants has been so praised by the critics is because it’s seen as being a film about “real people” and “real life.”  It’s advertised as a film with no easy villains and no easy heroes.  This is the type of film that people tend to praise for not falling into specific genre.  However, those critics are wrong because The Descendants is a pure genre film, make no mistake about it.  It is the latest entry in the Mediocre White Man film genre.  The MWM genre tends to center on middle-aged white guys who are comfortably upper middle class, have quirky relatives, and have been afflicted by ennui.  The protagonist of the MWM film usually narrates the action for us and tends to spend a lot of time explaining how he’s managed to structure his life for maximum efficiency while, at the same time, shutting himself off emotionally from the rest of the world.  Over the course of the MWM film, the protagonist is usually forced to deal with some crisis that makes him realize that 1) he’s getting old, 2) his safe life has become a prison, and 3) there’s not much he can do about it.  The MWM film will feature at least one or more scenes featuring our protaganist either aimlessly running or standing still on an escalator with a blank expression on his face while some old song from the 60s or 70s plays on the soundtrack.  

MWM films tend to do well critically because most critics are mediocre white men themselves.  They also do well with the Academy, probably for the same reason.  And, don’t get me wrong.  There have been some excellent MWW films released over the past decade.  Sideways, Up in the Air, Thank You For Somoking, and even Michael Clayton are all excellent MWM films.  The problem isn’t that The Descendants is a MWM film, the problem is that it doesn’t really bring anything new to genre and even the film’s most effective moments feel awfully familiar.

In The Descendants, George Clooney (a mainstay of MWM genre) plays Matt King, a wealthy attorney living in Hawaii.  Matt’s wife is in a boating accident that leaves her brain-dead.  Matt, who has always been “the backup parent,” finds himself forced to take care of his two daughters (Amara Miller and Shailene Woodley) while going from island to island to inform people of Elizabeth’s impending death.  Along the way, he discovers that Elizabeth has been having an affair with a sleazy real estate agent (Matthew Lillard) and he’s forced to confront the fact that he hasn’t always been the best husband or father.  There’s a lot of quirky and funny moments and there’s a lot of sad moments but they’re never feel quite as genuine as the film seems to believe.  Instead, they often feel more like they were just put there to satisfy the demands of the MWM genre.  The end result is a film that too often seems to mistake ambiguity for insight and which ultimately seems to be more safe than honest.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that The Descendants is a bad film.  Much like The Social Network, it’s a good film that also happens to be very overrated.  Director Alexander Payne keeps the story moving and, as predictable as the film may be, it’s still well-acted and occasionally well-written.  Though I thought a lot of the dialogue was a bit too spot-on perfect (this is a film where even the inarticulate characters sound calculated), the script features enough good one-liners to keep the film entertaining.  Amongst the cast, Robert Forster is poignant as Elizabeth’s grieving father (and his “I’m going to hit you line,” is perfectly delivered) and Judy Greer makes the most of the thankless role of Lillard’s wife.

In the end, I guess the Descendants is a lot like an old middle school crush.  He’s so cute and appealing that it takes a while of digging and soul searching before you can admit that there’s really not much going on there.