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The Sandbox: License to Infuriate

The Sandbox: License to Infuriate (photo)

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Savage mutant Wolverine races up a mountainside path and is confronted by a horde of armed soldiers. He slays them with brutal, bloody efficiency, slashing and stabbing with his adamantium claws before being surprise-attacked by a helicopter. Without hesitation, he jumps off a cliff and onto the gunship’s cockpit, narrowly avoiding the spinning rotator blades, to smash the glass window and dispatch the pilot, and then leaps back to land as the airborne vehicle plummets to its destruction. It’s the type of breakneck-intense sequence that Wolverine was born to undertake, a thrilling rush of death-defying acrobatics and animalistic physicality that gets everything right about the character’s extrasensory abilities. And, as anyone who’s suffered through the summer’s first big-budget dud, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” must realize, this scene doesn’t exist in the film. It’s actually an opening passage from the movie’s tie-in video game, which — while not amounting to more than a simplistic, button-mashing hack-and-slasher — manages to do what eludes so many of its disreputable genre brethren. It trumps the cinematic material it’s based upon.

It’s hard to understate how uncommon an occurrence this is. Games based on (and released to coincide with) event films have a track record only slightly more impressive than those of National Socialism and New Coke. From the dawn of the console era, would-be blockbusters have tapped the gaming medium for synergistic money-making opportunities, releasing titles that dovetail with big-screen counterparts to further stoke interest in their properties. Giving gamers the chance to play out the big screen spectacles they’ve been pining to see is a no-brainer, and one that consistently proves lucrative — year in and year out, movie tie-in games have been profitable, to the point where Activision and Acclaim have made a cottage industry out of such products.

But that financial success has to be chalked up to the strength of a particular film’s brand — the games themselves are, in spite of a few rarities, slipshod junk. If the name alone is going to move units at retail, why bother crafting functional gameplay, or putting serious effort into graphics, or designing novel and unique puzzles? The corporate strategy is clear: borrow ideas from some hit game series, take a few key elements from the movie in question and mash them all together with slapdash hastiness in order to get the title on store shelves by film’s theatrical debut.

06022009_Batman.jpgAs a kid, I learned early on to avoid these games. With a few exceptions — 1990’s Sega Genesis adaptation of Tim Burton’s “Batman” was a reasonably good beat-’em-up side-scroller — movie tie-ins were made to be suffered through. In the summer before high school, I became Marty McFly with Nintendo’s “Back to the Future,” only to realize that my memories of the film weren’t accurate: the story wasn’t about traveling back in time to keep my parents together, it was about navigating streets filled with hula-hooping girls and then going to the soda shop to throw milkshakes at people. With, I might add, insane difficulty. Undeterred, however, I pressed forward in my quest for an entertaining cinematic experience.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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