Lifestyle and Culture

Wild Card: The Biggest Flop of 2015?

Wild Card: The Biggest Flop of 2015?

Jason Statham rarely garners any positive press from his typecast roles but no one expected the extent the damage his recent film, Wild Card would leave in its wake. Set in Las Vegas, Wild Card traipses through some of the leading casinos on the Strip and racked up a sizeable $30 million in production costs along the way.

Although it’s a little confusing where all that money went, the movie’s projections were also a little confusing. The film was made by Current Entertainment and Quad Films with the idea of being one of the highest grossing films of 2015 – they couldn’t have been further from the mark.

Wild Card is the adaptation of 1985 novel Heat, which was written by William Goldman and is a remake of the film that originally starred Burt Reynolds in his pomp. However, after the two productions companies projected that they would make a sizeable return on their outlay, they never foresaw what was about to unfold.

Jason Statham keeps Vegas safe for the little guy in this second low-wattage adaptation of a William Goldman novel…”
– Scott Foundas, Variety Film

The movie had its domestic release on January 30, 2015 and to most people’s predictions, bombed as expected. But few predicted it would perform as badly as it did. In the United States alone, Wild Card took a laughable $3,200 at the Box Office making it a contender for biggest flop of 2015 already.

However, this isn’t such a surprising statistic from a film in the casino genre. Many films over the last 10 years based on casinos and gaming in general have performed extremely poorly at the cinemas regardless of the cast and budget. Films such as Runner Runner, Poker Night, The Gambler and many more have seen poor Box Office takings let alone reviews.

But what is the most challenging is why this movie genre has become so unpopular. Poker is arguably still increasing in popularity with over 40 million Americans playing weekly and online casino gaming is also still on the rise since its explosion in 1997 through InterCasino, thousands of portals have surfaced online and millions play online daily. The stats just really don’t add up.

So, why are these films struggling so much when the industry and culture it appeals to is prospering? Let us know your thoughts below.

Watch the trailer for Wild Card here:

I Run for Boston

I Run for Boston

by: Oliver Layco

Running is something the majority of people greet with a grunt or sigh. Those who run do so for any number of reasons. Personally, running is a release for me; it’s also something I know everyone can’t do. I suppose can’t is the wrong word; rather, running is something they won’t do. Running is the simplest sport there is, yet it is also the hardest of them all. People who limit themselves to the gym are truly missing out on a different experience. Even those who run on a treadmill aren’t fully experiencing running until they find themselves in the middle of a field or going down a road. This provides a sense of community for those who do choose this life. Whether a friendly nod or lending another runner some water, we all understand each other’s struggle no matter how big or small. Another thing is we are always open to welcoming new runners into our world.

When news of the Boston bombing broke last year, it hit me hard. I don’t know anyone that was directly affected by the attacks, but there was a part of me that broke when I heard the news. Finishing a marathon, especially one as prestigious as Boston, is a feat in and of itself; for some runners it could even be the ultimate goal. Unfortunately, in the world we live in today nothing is safe from the madness. Running is one of my ways to mentally escape any problems that I am facing. To hear that it has been taken away from me was heart breaking. It was just that past summer that the dark sanctuary that we call a movie theater was taken from me. And now with this, I was running out of places to escape to.

However, like that fateful shooting in a Colorado theater, I chose to fight on through it. I chose not to stop running because that would accomplish what the attackers wanted. I continued watching movies and I definitely continued to run. In the process I became a better runner than I have been in years. There was a certain motivation that’s been pushing me to fine tune my craft that I’ve worked on for the past 9 years. Running a marathon is still my ultimate goal, but now that marathon has to be Boston. Sure, I would still love to run the New York marathon or Los Angeles or even some international ones, but I now have an attachment to a city I’ve never even been to. Even my background as a Lakers fan hasn’t driven me from this. I realized that there were bigger things than a sports rivalry and there were people that could use my support. No matter which differences I have with them, I can put down the jersey and lace up my shoes to remember and honor those runners we lost. As the Boston marathon took place today, it was refreshing to see the progress and growth of a community. It is also fitting that Meb Keflezighi was the first American to win the race since 1983.While dark times are indeed clouding our world, it’s comforting to know that people can still band together when needed. In the end, I run for those who lost their lives; those who lost their limbs; those who responded to the victims. In the end, I run for Boston.

Articles from Around the Web

PS3 Recap: The Last of Us

PS3 Recap: The Last of Us

by: Oliver Layco

You could probably see this one coming from a mile away, but the last game on my meaningful PS3 games has to be The Last of Us (and yes I was planning on saving it for the end for that purpose). Naughy Dog makes an appearance again and for good reason. They’ve treated a story based game the exact way that I would expect from a video game. They’ve again crafted a beautiful story filled with moral dilemmas and a gorgeous world to boot. The story follows Joel and Ellie as they make their way across an abandoned United States in hopes for a cure. Along the way, they encounter the infection in forms of zombies named Clickers. Occasionally, and actually quite frequently, they encounter the more fearful humans along the way. This is the one game that I’ve ever played that’s made me tear up within the first 15 minutes. If you strip down the story to its core, it’s nothing really special; but the way they incorporate different elements makes it probably the most memorable story told of this past generation that I’ve played. As for the world that we get to traverse, it is done exactly like their real life counter parts. From the streets of Boston all the way to the mountains of Salt Lake City, they are all beautifully done and evoke the right emotion. None of this could be done without the sound. I’ll start with the obvious and say the voice acting here was exceptional. Troy Baker appears to be everywhere, yet he can change his voice on a whim to bring his character to life. He adds a grizzled personality and really brings to life what happened to Joel. As for his counter-part in Ashley Johnson, I still find it surprising that a 30 year old actress can voice a 14 year old girl. She certainly holds her own when given the chance. I’m also looking forward to the DLC that will be released soon that looks like it will be centered around her. All the other characters they meet along the way also contribute a fair amount where they fit right into the story. A nice little surprise is also the inclusion of Nolan North of Uncharted fame as one of the characters. This all being said, I suppose I should go into what makes it a game. The gameplay here is a standard third person shooter with some welcome additions. For basic game mechanics, it’s just the basic run, crouch, go behind cover; not much you can really change there besides making it precise and they did that. I’ll admit there were times where aiming and movement felt a little off, but that could have been on my part. The one addition I liked was a echolocation type of ability. Basically, a player can sense where other characters are in a level as long as they’re making sound. This really helps out when you’re deciding whether to attack or try to sneak by as much as possible. One other aspect I liked was the in game menu screen. Since players had to craft items or heal in real time, it added another level of tension to the gameplay. As for the online, it’s actually enjoyable and was probably one of the longer ones I stuck around with for awhile. It was different and had a mini story that made it more appealing for me. One mode that was missing since last I played was a zombie mode. Players have been clamoring for a mode where the Clickers enter the stages at random times and a team would now have two enemies to battle. I could keep going on and on and mention other parts like survival mode and other parts, but I already did that in my full review here! So if you haven’t picked up The Last of Us, there’s this thing called Christmas coming up and you should definitely put this on your list! And with that, the PlayStation 4 is among us. It seems like this last generation went by in a flash and I was barely there for it. However, a new Uncharted has already been announced in the works for the PS4 so when that day comes, I shall be ready.

Articles from Around the Web


 

PS3 Recap: Mirror’s Edge

PS3 Recap: Mirror’s Edge

by: Oliver Layco

A recurring theme throughout my little list of PS3 greatest hits is that I didn’t hear about games until a year or so later. This holds true for the fourth title on my list which is Mirror’s Edge. While it did receive critical success, it didn’t receive great commercial success. When I first picked this one up, what drew me in was how they would weave a game around the concept of parkour, or free-running. That sort of activity has always peaked my interest and is still something I would like to get into at some point. As for how it’s executed in this game, it is done pretty perfectly; even just the running mechanics are done really well. The motions are fluid and the only hiccup that can mess up a players’ flow is the mistiming of a button press. However, that is one of the biggest achievements and annoyances throughout the game. While you’re running along you could pull of a successful combo of run, jump, turn, jump and be ecstatic that one second to frustrating yourself by tripping over something you overlooked. At the end of the day though, it’s a welcome challenge to the player to try and perfect their skills in this game. As for the story, it actually felt pretty decent. The players control a runner named Faith. She lives in a world where there is virtually no crime, but the government in charge watches everything and is in control of all communication. The main theme that I got from this game is questioning whether or not people would give up certain freedoms for safety. As for Faith, she is part of a rebel group that chooses to forego all forms of electronic communication to get in contact with other groups. The government catches and is constantly trying to bring these groups down; chaos ensues and while Faith is delivering packages she is always on the run from the government. It’s a pretty simple concept and unfortunately too short. I would have enjoyed running around more and being given more chances to explore the world. Hopefully when the sequel is out on the PS4 it’s a more expansive world. One other nice change they did was they had Faith be a girl. While this shouldn’t be that big of a deal, there are very few games where the main character could either be a girl or boy and they went with the former; so props to EA for that. As for the world this is set in, it’s a very monochromatic style. Just the overall art style is very shaded and it fits. Different sections in the game are usually color coded with the only other color present is a white background. While some may be put off by this plain style, I think it’s beautifully done and in some ways reflects the society that is present. After beating the main story, the only options are to play through the story again and there are some time trial stages; although, there honestly isn’t much else they could do with this. There’s no realistic way they could incorporate an online mode so this suffices and the perfectionist in players will have them returning and mastering the routes. I’m looking forward to the sequel of this one on the next generation of consoles and how they retain the simplistic look yet make it look better. Hopefully also it receives more commercial attention so that more players can experience this.

Article from Around the Web

PS3 Recap: Batman Arkham City

PS3 Recap: Batman Arkham City

by: Oliver Layco

Batman has long been my favorite superhero. Maybe it was when I was first introduced to him through Michael Keaton or when I heard him through the voice of Kevin Conroy. Needless to say, he never had a proper video game done for him. Superhero games in general have normally been a failure with the exception of the Spiderman games that came out with the movies. My long lost brother J.D. Cook first introduced me to Arkham Asylum when we were living together in college. From when I first played it I was hooked from the start. The environments that RockSteady have created in this world captured the feel of the Batman universe perfectly. Then the combat system itself was exceptionally fun. I didn’t even want to bother with stealth missions because I always wanted to beat up these guys. This is probably why I was better at combat maps while Mr. Cook was better at stealth missions. Anyway, I played through that at least two times when I was at school with him and by the time I went home for the summer I bought my own copy. The amount of villains they included fit their story perfectly. Then there were those pesky riddler trophies that I had to collect. This game was probably the first one that had me obsessed with trying to collect everything. It was a nice challenge to try and figure out how to use my skills as Batman to get it. Then the fact that Mark Hammil was voicing The Joker was the icing on the cake. With the way this story ended, I was looking forward to how they would improve upon it for the sequel. As Arkham City was announced I was curious how they would fare expanding it to a more open world design. My first introduction to this game actually came by the way of New York Comic Con! After leaving that demo that I played I was optimistic they wouldn’t disappoint. Now, since I was living with someone who also had a copy for his system it took a steady rotation of both of us so that we could both play it. They refined the combat so it was even more precise and somehow became more enjoyable. This time around my biggest kicker would be how they would keep players interested yet not lose the aspects that made the first entry so successful. They did this through their open world, refined combat, and brining in even more material from the Batman universe. Now this could have went the wrong way where some villains or ideas felt rushed, but even the little easter eggs felt thought out.  Arkham City is definitely my favorite entry in the series. This brings us to this year’s Arkham Origins. Initially I wasn’t stoked about this one because RockSteady wasn’t going to be the developer. They passed the tools and engine down to WB Montreal. However, as more footage and information came out I succumbed and preordered it. Two other notable departures from the series were Kevin Conroy and Mark Hammil. The new voices for Batman and the Joker would be Roger Craig Smith and Troy Baker. I had no problems with the voices, and at times they did sound like their predecessor’s. As for other aspects, I really liked the bigger world they gave us to soar around in. However one gripe I did have came to my beloved combat; the biggest issue for me would have to be the counter window. It feels like I have a little less time to react to enemies’ attacks; and then if I’m mid punch on someone else and press counter for another attack, it doesn’t work anymore. That’s my biggest peeve that I’m still getting used to even after beating the game. The riddler collectibles this time also provided cool background on different characters, but as for the final showdown with him, there was none; so that was a giant letdown. Everything else felt fine really; story was good enough to still keep me interested and there was one moment that had me holding my breath. Overall though, I will have to put this entry at the bottom of my list. It was still an enjoyable game but when compared to the other two there are some continuity issues I keep thinking about. However, I still love the game enough and I may be crazy enough to try I Am the Night mode!

Article from Around the Web

PS3 Recap: Red Dead Redemption

PS3 Recap: Red Dead Redemption

by: Oliver Layco

Next on my list of PlayStation 3 greatest hits is Red Dead Redemption. Cowboy tales never sparked an interest in me; no movie, TV show, or song changed my mind over the years. Even when my sister first bought Red Dead Redemption, it wasn’t on my radar. One reason being because it was a western tale; the other being it was made by Rockstar and I never liked their games. Grand Theft Auto never appealed to me because it didn’t seem like it was made for a good story but rather everything else you could do in the game. However, when I first started playing Red Dead Redemption I fell in love right away. What initially drew me in were the vast vistas of the old American West. Whether it was sunrise, during the day, sunset, or at night the country side really felt like it was mine to explore. Although the world was vast that they created for us, it didn’t really feel that big to me when I was riding on horseback through the plains. The overall feel, especially with the music, made me feel like I was John Marston. Speaking of John, I was really feeling for him throughout the whole story and I just wanted him to be back with his family. While the story was nothing we haven’t seen before anywhere else, I think what separated it in terms of video games was the western setting. They brought in so many characters throughout my time in this world, yet none of them felt too rushed; it felt like each had a good balance that fleshed out their character properly. Even the characters who I particularly didn’t like I didn’t like them because of who they were; there are other games where I don’t like characters because they seem unnecessary, but everyone played a role in this one. Even the side missions didn’t feel out of the way for me. While some of them were mundane like herding cows, they would ramp it up by having you herding them in the rain! Then you would also have to make sure none fell off the cliff, or at least not that many fell off a cliff. One other side mission I really liked was to collect the four horses of the apocalypse! There was so much they offered players to do in this that it really was time consuming. I know I didn’t complete this one to 100%, but I poured so much of my time into it that I still felt satisfied. I was also really impressed because of this; normally when I play really long games there’s a point where it felt like they were dragging it on when it could’ve ended a couple hours ago. Here, you could be gambling, hunting, or just looking for treasure and still feel like playing for another 20 hours. Then just when you think you’ve played as much as you could, Rockstar released Undead Nightmare. Now you could play as a cowboy, but kill zombies! This was a perfect piece of DLC and I think it was actually the first DLC I bought. There was just enough story to justify the purchase and they brought back several characters from the main story. I loved running through the environment and just wanting another horde to come get me. I’m already rambling, but there’s so much that I loved about this game I could probably go on for another page but I shall not. I’ll just leave it at this and say that if you haven’t played this game then you need to pick it up. I think it even comes bundled with Undead Nightmare now!

Article from Around the Web

PS3 Recap: Uncharted

PS3 Recap: Uncharted

by: Oliver Layco

With Sony set to release the PlayStation 4 this Friday, I want to look back at the games/franchises that have defined my PlayStation 3 experience. Now, I didn’t get on the PlayStation bandwagon until this generation, so I missed out on franchises that spanned the PS1 and PS2. Even with that, I didn’t get my PS3 until I think 2009; a full three years into its lifespan. That being said, none of these articles will be in any particular order.

My favorite franchise that I have played repeatedly this generation is the Uncharted series. I was first introduced to Nathan Drake (Nolan North), Elena Fisher (Emily Rose), and Victor Sullivan (Richard McGonagle) in 2010; even that is three years after the initial release of the game. By that point is was already critically acclaimed and I knew I had to get it. Needless to say, it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship I would develop with these characters all the way until Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. At its core, what really drew me into this franchise was the fact that it felt like I was playing through an Indiana Jones movie. Drake came off as this cocky treasure hunter with cheesy one liners who would end up with the girl. The only difference between him and Doctor Jones is that he would actually take things from museums as well. Being the first game in the series, Drake’s Fortune didn’t have the refined gameplay that Naughty Dog would master by the end of the series. By the time Uncharted 2: Among Thieves came out, I was giddy with anticipation. As I became familiar with the characters again, Naughty Dog would really ramp up the action in this one. Overall, I would consider it the best in the franchise. While there are still flaws within this one as well, it was the most balanced out of all three. Right from the get go when you have to climb up a train that’s hanging off the edge of a cliff, the action never lets up until the credits roll. Naughty Dog has really mastered a balance between a good story and player interaction. Even though it’s a very linear storyline, there’s a level of involvement that has the game absorb you. They also managed to successfully introduce a few characters; and this is a smart move on them because they could have easily introduced too many characters. With the finale of the PS3 era of Uncharted upon us, I decided to cough up the extra cash for the collector’s edition. While it was going to be near impossible to top what they did in Among Thieves, Naughty Dog did as good a job as possible with Drake’s Deception. Personally, the weakest point for me was the villain and the too over the top action sequences. While it was crazy to play through, looking back I can say they were a bit much. That still didn’t take away from the fun factor that I had when I played through this one several times. For this one, I feel like they tried to combine different elements from the first and second one and it mostly worked. In the end as I was riding off into the sunset one last time as Drake, it really felt like a bittersweet moment knowing it would be awhile, if at all, that I would play as him again on a console.

Article from Around the Web