July 30th, 2003



Two disappointments tonight: Tomb Raider and Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec.

GT3 wasn't a major disappointment, but it was what I thought it would be: GT with better graphics. The gameplay was essentially the same, and the control didn't even feel quite as "tight" - although maybe it's actually more accurate and I'm just used to the original GT feel, it just didn't do much for me. I had to turn off all of the driving assistance and up the "realism" level a few notches just to get it to resemble the first one, and it still doesn't feel quite right. I have a feeling that it's actually more realistic now than it was in the first one, but never having driven a race car at 120 mph in real life, I can't really vouch for that. ;) Regardless, it's definitely got a different tactile feel than GT, and I'm not sure if I really like the differences there. The visuals, of course, blow away the first one, but the visuals are really not that important to me - the first one hits "good enough" in that department.

I've only played it for an hour or so, though, so there's still a lot of potential that I haven't explored. It's definitely a good game, but it just doesn't seem to really do more than update GT a bit. Good, but not worth buying a PS2 for. (Incidentally, major props and thanks to dormando who lent me his PS2 just so I could try it out. That was incredibly generous and just really cool. :) )

Tomb Raider (one) was one of those movies where the whole is much less than the sum of its parts. First off: Angelina Jolie. Not only is she gorgeous, and a great physical match for the original video-game character, but she's also a good actress. She spent over 6 months training for the movie, and most of the stunts are actually her performing them. She obviously sunk herself into this role whole-heartedly, and it shows - she really does a great job of bringing Lara Croft to life.

The cinematography was gorgeous as well - they flew all over the world, and filmed in some wonderful locations. There were scenes filmed in Iceland with miles of white and blue ice stretching on, scenes filmed in Cambodia, and scenes theoretically filmed in England, although I'm not sure if they actually were. There were, of course, also many tomb scenes.

Speaking of tomb scenes, the sets were fantastic. They built these huge sets, hundreds if not thousands of square feet, incredibly detailed, beautifully designed, fully "functional", and proceeded to blow the shit out of them in action sequence after action sequence.

Regarding the action, the film was filled with non-stop action scenes, many of them interesting, many of them at least slightly unusual, and all of them larger than life. One of the most interesting fight scenes was the bungee fight scene - very nicely done, overall.

So it would seem to have everything you'd need for a great action movie, right? It has a powerful, charismatic lead (who also happens to be a babe), beautiful visuals, intense action... there've been pretty good action movies that had less than that and still been worth watching. Don't get me wrong - Tomb Raider is probably worth watching - but only just. Plot and acting isn't all that important in an action movie, and both were passable and certainly good enough for a summer blockbuster type of movie. Somehow, though, all of it doesn't pull together well. Any piece, inspected on its own, would seem anywhere from decent to very good, which should mean the movie itself would be somewhere from decent to very good - but it misses the mark, not even really getting to the "decent" level. But the potential - it just screams out all over, and I found myself hoping that it'd find a way to recover, time and time again, from missing its mark. It never did, and the movie ended with me wondering how they could've taken all of that potential and done such a mediocre job with it.

Ah, well. I've heard TR2 is better than TR, and if that's the case, it just might find the way to succeed. Then again, maybe it'll be like GT and GT3 - same basic thing, just with a coat of fresh paint.

P.S. I freaking LOVE Netflix. In 12 days (including the weekends, where they're closed and the post office is half-closed), we've already seen 5 movies, and I'm expecting at least 2 more by the end of the week, if not 3. At this rate, we'll easily see 12 movies a month, maybe more, all for only $20. Not bad. :)
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Bad Ideas

Burger King has a "nutritional wizard" on their site that lets you figure out how disgusting their food is. I'd vote for that as an official Bad Idea.


Well, for kicks, I put together a standard breakfast meal - Croissanwich w/ sausage, egg & cheese, orange juice, and large hash browns. Total calories: 1095. Total calories from fat: 620. Total grams of fat: 68.

A comparable lunch, "king sized", weighs in at a hefty 1890 calories, 755 of which are from fat (83g of fat!). Yes!

I'm so glad I avoid fast food nowadays. Sheesh.

Check it out for yourself: