Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Academic



With Fleur away in Italy this week, I've been availing myself of the services of my PC. I had a Verhoeven night on Saturday, watching Robocop and Starship Troopers, the latter of which I actually watched twice, once with the Director's commentary. I've never really made the effort to watch a film with the commentary on before, as I'm reliably informed that most of them are mind-numbingly banal, but Paul Verhoeven, as we all know, is a bit of a nutter.


The commentary was absolutely fascinating and really reveals just how astoundingly political a film Starship Troopers actually is. There's a very European satirical undercurrent which brilliantly subverts the original material, and the traditional concepts of an All American Action Movie. You could almost hear Verhoeven and the American producer coming to blows as they argued about the symbology of the film - Verhoeven stating that the fascist society of the future was representative of the US's foreign policy, and the producer trying to defend his country and it's politicians.


It was also interesting to hear the producer giving some background on what the preview audiences had said - their reaction to Carmen (Denise Richards' character) was almost uniformly negative, since they hated the fact she dumped the hero (Rico). This was despite the fact that there was a huge double standard, since Rico gets to bed both Dizzy and Carmen and they didn't seem to mind that... Verhoeven's reaction was predictably eccentric - he liked the fact they hated Carmen and refused to change her, as it just made her character seem more like a real person. I was also unsurprised to hear that the biggest laugh in the previews were in the scene where Michael Ironside's character walks in on Rico and Dizzy and tells "Make it twenty minutes."


It's not all been DVD watching, naturally. I reinstalled GTA III on Sunday and played for an hour or two. It's aged quite well since I bought it, but it still seems to pale in comparison to it's younger, flashier brother, Vice City. I doubt I'll ever make the effort to unlock the other islands. Some of the cars feel better than in Vice City, however - it's just great fun driving around the city - particularly in the lightning fast Banshee and the brawny Mafia Sentinel. Shame you can't import them into Vice City, really.


I also replayed through the vast majority of Jedi Academy again on Sunday, this time taking the double bladed lightstaff instead of the dual sabers. It's a very enjoyable game, though it does suffer from a few poor levels. The mutant rancor and swoop missions simply don't work on any kind of level, and as fun as chopping people up with a lightsaber is, there really isn't enough enemy variety. After you've carved your way past the twelfth Reborn warrior on a level, (or fiftieth Stormtrooper) it can get a little tiresome. The individual mission based structure definitely lends itself to be more dipped in and out of (as a game) rather than being something to be played through in a single sitting or over long stretches. Having said that, though, the background plot hangs together a lot better in Jedi Academy than it does in Jedi Outcast. I'll really have to get around to playing online at some point.

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