Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One is the first Star Wars spin-off film in out post-episode-seven world. It bridges the gap between episode 3 (Revenge of the Sith) and episode 4 (A New Hope), telling the story of how the rebellion gets its hands on the plans for the Death Star.

The first thing to note is that the opening and music are both noticeably different and similar to the core films, helping cement the fact that this is a spin-off.

The film has 3 distinct acts, each of which is focused on a different planet, though there are more than 3, the others bridging or being repeated through the acts.

The first criticism of the film is that I spent a lot of the first act trying to decide which was less convincing - the lead actress, or a particular CG homunculus.1

The overall Nazi imagery has subtly increased again - "They have a child, find it!" cries the villain.
I greatly appreciate the addition to the Star Wars lore that the film provides - e.g. the Empire are mining Kyber crystals (which power Lightsabers) in order to power the Death Star (so is it essentially a moon-sized Lightsaber?)

There is a huge attention to detail evident - from the fantastic sound design of rain pinging off of weapons and armour, to the changing ranks on the uniforms of soldiers over time. There was a lot of perfectionism involved in the production.

The actors are all good (even if some of them take a while to warm up) - the villain is particularly excellent, and it's fantastically refreshing to see Mads Mikkleson cast as a good guy.

The script is a brilliant mix of drama, tragedy, and hilarity. Though everyone gets a fair share, the comedy show is undoubtedly stolen by the droid H2-SO. I don't think anyone could watch this film without laughing.

You may notice that I'm mostly referring to the actors rather than the characters - it is in part because, despite seeing it twice, I can barely remember the character names. I in fact noted that Donnie Yen and Wen Jiang's names are only mentioned a handful of times, and are difficult to hear at those times. Which is a shame, as they were great characters who deserve to be better known.

On the note of Donnie Yen, his fight scenes are particularly impressive and visceral. Unlike some ignorant professional writers, I appreciated that some of those staff blows could shatter bone, even through armour (which was also visibly breaking apart under the barrage of attacks.)

There is some aerial combat, but the vast majority of it is from the perspective of people on the ground. You may recognise this style of direction from the 2015 Godzilla film, which I also liked and was directed by Gareth Edwards as well.

Despite the stellar script and direction, there are some definitely predictable cliches that occur, and on my second viewing I noticed some blatant continuity errors in relation to Forest Whitaker's costume.

Overall this is an excellent film, despite some flaws, with an utterly brilliant ending.

A very strong 8 out of 10.


SPOILERS




1The aforementioned CG homunculus is Peter Cushing, evidently being dead is not the disability it once was. It's just a shame that the textures are so completely unconvincing.

Another issue that I feel I have to state is that C3-PO and R2-D2 have a cameo towards the end, on Yavin-4. This means that Princess Leia would have to travel there to specifically pick them up, and then rendezvous with the fleet at Skariff. I'm not convinced that the timing for that actually works. To me, it's a humongous plot hole that could have been avoided by not having the cameo in the first place.


My final major criticism is that there is absolutely no Kyle Katarn cameo, despite the fact that the beginning features a shot that was very reminiscent of the Dark Forces box cover:



0 out of 10.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is a Harry Potter spin-off where Eddie Redmayne plays Newt Scamander (who I really want to call Scaramanga) visiting New York in 1926 with a suitcase full of magical creatures.
Due to a mix up with a wannabe baker (Kowalski, played by Dan Fogler), some of the beasts escape, and Newt needs to get them back.

Also in New York at that point in time is a religious cult, some almost-Amish people, referred to as "The Second Salemers" - as you can probably tell from the name, they claim that witches and wizards exist, and they hunt them.
At the same time, the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) have rules to prevent normal people (NoMaj-es) from finding out about the magical community. this division is under threat due to the dark wizard Grimwald and his followers, who are causing havoc that is difficult to cover up.

As such, it's rather critical that Newt finds the beasts, both to prevent muggles finding out about magic, and to prevent the creatures getting hurt by people who don't understand them.

The film has a lot of interconnecting plot-threads, all of which get a decent amount of pacing and development. It's quite full, yet never feels particularly rushed. Rowling did extremely well, thanks largely in part that this was written directly as a film rather than adapted from a book.

The acting is excellent, with both a lot of drama and some extremely funny lighter moments. The special effects are fairly good - as is often the case with CG, it's not convincing itself, but the rest of the film is so enjoyable that my suspension of disbelief was not broken.

The only real weak point, in my opinion, was the ending. It had hardly any foreshadowing, and was blatantly done to set up for the next film.

Overall, it was a very good film. The ending feels like a let-down, but largely because we don't have the other films yet. As a standalone film, the ending is poor, but everything else was hugely enjoyable.

Monday, 14 November 2016

The Accountant

The Accountant has an excellent cast, led by Ben Affleck as an autistic savant. Using his skills he's become an accountant, often using an alias and being hired by criminal organisations.
As JK Simmons (as an agent for the US Treasury) puts it: Imagine that you launder huge sums of money. You keep a record of transactions, but most of it is hidden behind codes and euphemisms. Then suddenly you find that some of the money has gone missing somewhere. Ben Affleck is the man you hire to come in and look at your accounts to see where the money has gone.

He gets hired by a robotics company (owned by John Lithgow), after Anna Kendrick has noticed something strange about the accounts.

Amongst this JK Simmons has put another agent (played by Cynthia Addai-Robbinson) in charge of the investigation into exactly who the accountant is, and That-guy-who-was-in-the-walking-dead-and-is-now-the-punisher (Jon Bernthal, I had to look that up) is a mercenary involved with businesses of some description (his first appearance is about him trying to restore the pension funds of the company who hired him).

The mysteries of exactly what is going on are fascinating, the villain's plot is coherent and extremely interesting. The acting is unbelievably good, the action is absolutely incredible. There is a lot of dark comedy, most of it derived from Ben Affleck being unable to understand emotions (so either not understanding someone's reaction, or not reacting in the way you would expect).

This is an intelligent, witty, funny and extremely exciting action film. Go see it.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Batman vs Superman: Ultimate Edition

While I do swear more than I should in real life, I try to avoid it here. I mention this because I want you to appreciate how sincere I am when I say: This film is fucking awful.
It's really, unbelievably bad.

During the events of Man of Steel, Bruce Wayne (played by Ben Affleck) was rescuing his employees from collapsing buildings in Metropolis, which has planted a seed of fear and hate for Superman in his mind.
Lex Luthor has found some Kryptonite off the coast of some tropical location, and is shipping it to himself in Metropolis.

Bruce Wayne, somehow knows this (but, hey, Batman is meant to be the worlds greatest detective, who avoids killing his opponents as much as possible) so goes to a party at Luthor's mansion, and hacks into his computer to find out when the shipment is (keep in mind, he's hacking into the computer of a private citizen who has, as far as he knows, committed no crimes)

What follows is an exceedingly long sequence of Batman trying to get the Kryptonite, only to find it was a trap, and Superman kills him.
Turns it was all a dream, and he wakes up to the Flash talking to him through a portal, saying "You were right, don't trust him!"
Not only is this a missed opportunity to inject some humour, by making the Flash pretend to be a ghost, but that is also a dream.
Batman later tells Alfred (Jeremy Irons) about how he fears and hates Superman. This renders the preceding two dream sequences completely and utterly pointless.

Not only that, but if the Flash's warning was meant to be real, then who does it refer to? Certainly not actually Superman, as he is a hero throughout the film.

Anyway, Batman then tracks the Kryptonite shipment to the docks and plants a tracker on the truck, Rather than tracking it, he chases it in the Batmobile, and outright murders several people (who, as I said before, as far as he knows have committed no crimes) including actual innocent civilians. Not only that, but he doesn't get the Kryptonite from the chase, instead using the tracker to get it. Off screen.

So eventually Batman fights Superman, they bond over their mothers having the same name, and unite to fight against Doomsday. Doomsday was created by Lex Luthor using some machine in a Kryptonian space ship to resurrect Zod's corpse. You know, at least Marvel actually try to keep the origins of their characters true to the comics.

They fight him with the help of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot - I hear the shooting took so long because she was often late. They kept waiting for Gadot) in the most boring climactic fight sequence of a comic book film ever.

There is some foreshadowing for the Justice League, in the form of Aquaman and Cyborg (as well as the characters I've already mentioned)

Overall this film is incredibly long, with a lot of the run time being completely wasted on scenes that go nowhere or serve absolutely no purpose. Meanwhile, things which should have been developed are rushed or ignored. The characters have the bare minimum resemblance to their comic equivalents, and I would challenge anyone to find a likeable one in the bunch (apart from Alfred).
The writing is so poor that it can only be described as amateurish, and the action is ridiculously boring.
If I hadn't seen Suicide Squad first, I think this would have made me swear off DC films altogether.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Dr Strange

This latest Marvel entry stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular Dr Steven Strange, a brilliant but arrogant surgeon, who gets maimed in a car accident, ending his career.
Desperate for a solution, he eventually comes to a temple in Nepal, where Tilda Swinton portrays "The Ancient One". There he learns to open his mind to the concept of magic, and trains to master it.
The temple was recently victim to a theft by Mads Mikklesen, who hopes to unleash eldritch horrors upon the world.

Essentially, it fits the same mould of some other origin stories where an arrogant person needs to learn humility in the face of something spiritual, except rather than anything religious it's black magic and utterly mind-bending special effects.
Seriously, it's as if Inception was mixed with LSD, somehow. For the most part they are brilliant, but there are a small handful of effects which look poor, and could break your immersion.

The acting is excellent, with a script that is witty and laugh out loud funny. It was actually very nice to see Mads Mikklesen, who I've only ever seen in serious roles, have a few funny lines and evidently enjoy himself.
Rachel McAdams is also notable as being very funny, in how she reacts to the weirdness going on.

The action is brilliant, though a bit difficult to follow at times, due to a fair amount of it not really taking place within Euclidean geometric space.

While the framework for the story is generic, as it tends to be with these origin stories, the content was more than enough for me to thoroughly enjoy the film.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Inferno

You may remember the previous two Dan Brown films - "The DaVinci Code" and "Angels and Demons"
In The DaVinci Code, Tom Hanks solved some puzzle left be Leonardo DaVinci that lead to a great secret that had absolutely no effect on reality or society at all.

In Angels and Demons, Ewan McGregor distracted Tom Hanks so that he could use a visible amount of anti-matter to blow up the Vatican (as well as, presumably, the entire Eurasian continent)

Now after a 7 year gap, Tom Hanks reprises his role as Professor Robert "Layton" Langdon in Inferno.
The story is that a billionaire who gave a non-copyright-or-trademark-infringing Ted talk stating that humanity is facing a huge problem due to overpopulation has died after jumping from a tower which he was chased up.
The professor has woken up with amnesia, and is unable to remember the past few days, but what is evident is that there is a solution to the overpopulation problem put in place. Is the professor going to be able to stop it, or is he perhaps there to ensure it does get released?

So it's all a bit silly, and doesn't really consider anything to do with the morality involved (the bad guys are the bad guys, it's all black and white), and the use of religious art both as a metaphor and as the puzzle seems a bit of a stretch, but Dan Brown has a degree in classical art and he'll be damned if he doesn't get to use it!
There are a few odd choices for dramatic effect (we need to film this scene during the day, and this needs to happen at night, so we need to say it takes hours to travel the 5 meters between locations), but the film is fun overall.
However, that is in large part due to Tom Hanks. He simply carries the film, elevating it from average to entertaining. It's not a must-see, but is entertaining.


Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

"Ja, Kreacher!" is a German Harry Potter spin-off, about house-elves managing a the household of one of the higher-ups in the Ministry of Magic.

On the other hand, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a film starring Tom Cruise and Colby Smulders. Jack Reacher used to be a major in the army (which he is constantly reminded of) and Smulders is his successor. However, two of her subordinates have been murdered, and she has been arrested for the crime. Now it's up to Jack to figure out what's going on, and sort it out.

While the story is itself a bit generic, a usual failing of similar films is that they don't flow. This film flows very well - all of the events make sense and lead into one another, without any leaps of logic, or characters mysteriously teleporting or knowing things they shouldn't.

Tom Cruise is charismatic as always, while also playing a character who is a bit of an arsehole (presumably due to spending a lifetime in the military) - Smulders' character is similar, so it was enjoyable to see them butting heads, even though it did mean that there was a bit of a lack of chemistry (but that could in part be blamed on the characters being stoic and disciplined)

The film was well-written, exciting and witty. I would strongly recommend it (and since it is a sequel, I really must watch the first one!)

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

The Magnificent Seven (2016) is a remake of The Magnificent Seven (1960), which is a remake of Seven Samurai by Akira Kurisawa, which is in turn heavily inspired by the Wild West genre.

As such, it is perfectly understandable if the viewer feels that The Magnificent Seven (2016) feels that the story beats are familiar, or even generic.

The premise of the film is that there is a particular town which is almost under siege by the owner of a mining company. His cronies are sheriff deputies, they are apparently poisoning the water supply, gunning down people in the street, and intimidating the residents into selling their land for far less than appropriate market value.

As such, one of the residents seeks help and a group of seven characters, starting with Denzel Washington, get recruited into trying to save the town.

The acting can only be described as top-tier, the action scenes are fantastically entertaining, and the special effects are so convincing you'd swear they're injuring real horses.

Unfortunately there are some reveals that seem to come out of nowhere. For example, Ethan Hawke plays an obviously troubled ex-gunslinger. Towards the end of the film, he mentions to his friend about an ominous owl. It's a bit of a throwaway line, almost inaudible, but the owl is obviously meant to be some paranoid hallucination that has been haunting him for a long time.
Such things really needed a bit more foreshadowing.

Some of the deaths were very "Hollywood" - i.e. characters taking far too many bullets, and being far too mobile afterwards. This only serves to inflate the actor's ego and break my suspension of disbelief.

Also the ending seems bizarre in terms of tone.

Despite some flaws, I thought that it was an extremely entertaining and very well made film. Definitely worth a watch.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Infiltrator

The Infiltrator stars Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo  and Amy Ryan as undercover CIA agents trying to take down Pablo Escabar's drug operation in the 1980s.

The film is gripping from start to finish, a fascinating "true" story with completely believable characters. Bryan Cranston channels a little but of 'Walter "the best acting I've ever seen, signed Sir Anthony Hopkins" White', but most definitely more on the side of "good" (whilst also being a flawed human being trying to balance his work with his personal life)

Honestly, all of the acting in the film was top notch. The soundtrack was incredible, and the sound design particularly stood out in how masterful it was.

It's difficult to describe without spoiling what happens in the film, but it is really an example of brilliant film-making. Every single element is near flawless.

Do yourself a favour and watch it.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

War Dogs

War Dogs is based upon an interview in Rolling Stone magazine and stars Jonah Hill and Miles Teller (Mr Fantastic from Fanborestic) as Ephraim and David respectively.

David works in Malibu as a masseuse around the time of the second gulf war, but meets up with his old friend from high school (Ephraim) and joins him in his small weapons contracting business called AEY.
In the past most of the military contracts were given to companies associated with Dick Cheney, but since the corruption became public knowledge all of the contracts were put up for auction. While there is still insider trading with the biggest contracts, a lot of the smaller stuff gets ignored, which is where AEY comes in. Such small companies are considered to be feeding off the scraps of the war industry, they are called "War Dogs", hence the name of the film.

The film is extremely funny, fascinating, and incredibly convincing as a true story. The actors all put in fantastic performances, and special mention has to go to Jonah Hill for having the second most annoying laugh in the Universe.

I highly recommend this film.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Sausage Party

Sausage Party is an animated film written by Seth Rogan and Jonah Hill, and is about talking food. The premise and sense of humour is set up very efficiently, opening with a song about how they want to be taken by the Gods (human beings) to the Great Beyond (outside of the shop) where "We cannot possibly overstate how certain we are that nothing bad happens to us in the Great Beyond!"

It's a difficult film to review, as I don't want to spoil any more jokes than I have - part of the hilarity coming from the punchlines being unexpected.

It can be said to be a film about atheism, blaming pretty much all of the ills of the world on it. While I disagree (i.e. without religion, we'd still find whatever differences there are between people and use it as an excuse to fight) I do think it has a good message about blind faith versus evidence.

In short, it's a thoughtful, foul-mouthed, raunchy-as-hell, hilarious comedy, and I enjoyed every single minute. If that sounds up your street, go and watch it.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

The BFG

The BFG is a story written by Roald Dahl, which was adapted into an animated film in 1989, which I loved as a child. I think that my dad must have been a fan of the book, as it most definitely informed his patois as I was growing up.

The story is about a young orphan named Sophie, who one night discovers a giant, who kidnaps her and takes her to the "Giant Country". While other giants want to eat humans, this giant is a perpetually disappointed vegetarian who gives people dreams.

If you are unfamiliar with the story I don't want to spoil too much for you, but it's one that can be enjoyed by adults and kids of all ages.

The new film, directed by Steven Spielberg seems to be a very faithful adaptation, much like the 1989 cartoon. The main differences being that it's live action, blatantly directed by Spielberg (though I can't put my finger on why), and does not feature a musical interlude about farting.

If that sounds good to you, then I suggest you watch it. If you really want the farting song, perhaps you should stick to the 1989 version.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Suicide Squad

I haven't yet seen Batman vs Superman, but I have heard that the dour atmosphere didn't resonate with viewers, prompting a massive re-write of Suicide Squad.

It shows.

The first part of the film is spent setting up the characters, and it takes quite a while.
The next part of the film is spent setting up the characters. Again. It, too, takes a while.

Generally, the first act of the film is terrible. It has awful editing, largely noticeable by the very jarring changes in the soundtrack. It was also very evident that a large chunk of the soundtrack is made up of old songs, forcing them to the forefront. It is almost as if the film is simply an excuse to renew the licences on the songs.

The main chunk of the film is actually quite solid and very enjoyable. Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) are the main heart of the film, putting in genuinely good performances. Harley's relationship with the Joker (Jared Leto) is quite like what I remember from the Batman cartoon and the games. It's somewhat sweet, but it also feels like Harley is paradoxically disposable to the Joker (which is the closest the film comes to touching on the abusiveness of the relationship)

That's not to say that the main chunk is without it's flaws - it also has plot-holes, with characters suddenly being idiotic, and things happening for the sake of plot convenience.

Overall, it's a fairly good film, but you'll have to shit through 20 minutes of utter dross before it gets any good.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Star Trek Beyond

This is going to be difficult to pick apart, as it's a really solid and entertaining film. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Star Trek Beyond is the best live action Macross film I've ever seen.

Seriously, they are incredibly similar:

The protagonists are drawn into a fight with creatures that are somehow connected to humanity.
Said creatures are focused entirely on conflict.
Thus the film focuses about the question of whether peace or violence is better for the progress of the species.
Of course, it is optimistic, saying that while violence is inevitable, peace is better and should be striven towards.
Music is used as a weapon.
People die, and it is genuinely touching.

It is quite obvious that Simon Pegg wrote it, with a greater than usual emphasis on Scotty, and a joke which seems very reminiscent of Dr Who (when The Beatles were referred to as classical musicians)

The film is not perfect, but I find it very difficult to think of any particular criticisms. It's funny, thoughtful and entertaining, with very good special effects.

I'd recommend watching it.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Ghostbusters (2016)

Before release

When the new Ghostbusters film was announced, I saw the announcement surrounded with rhetoric that the all-female cast was to counter the "imbalance" or the first films. In my opinion, pushing equally hard in the opposite direction is not a way to be progressive. "Two wrongs don't make a right" as the adage says.

Eventually the trailers came out, and they made the film look atrocious.
They mention that "30 years ago New York was saved by 4 friends", pitching this film as a sequel. They featured a few jokes, most of which seemed incredibly unfunny.

"How hilarious! She's implying that the ectoplasm went into her vagina! And she's a woman! A woman being crude is funny, right?!" You know, gross out humour that isn't funny in the first place, let alone when relying on the gender of the person for shock value (which would of course only actually shock people who haven't ever talked to a woman in their entire life)

Oh, she licked her gun, and the test of the main gun didn't have enough power, curving downwards. Both are going to be interpreted as phallic, aren't they?

Oh, the black actress is basically being a completely racist stereotype. Remember how Ernie Hudson's skin colour informed his entire character in the original? You don't? Good, because it was completely irrelevant.

Oh, the film is going to feature the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man at some point... who crushes the actresses... Yet they don't die...


Overall, the trailers and marketing made the film look like an unfunny, racist, slightly sexist cartoon, claiming to be a sequel to the original. Something strongly attempting to convince me it's progressive, whilst actually being unfathomably regressive.
The marketing made the film look atrocious, is what I'm trying to say. This was extra frustrating because if one were to dare expressing such an opinion, it would seem that legions of internet denizens would descend to accuse you of being a misogynist. Ad honinem is far easier than debate, or appreciating that people have different opinions, and this easy route is unfortunately extremely popular.

After release

Wow! That was surprisingly good!
Whilst most of the stuff from the trailers is in the film, the trailers were incredibly misleading. There is some crude humour, but that is a very small proportion of the film.
They largely stay away from sex jokes - the aforementioned bit where they test the main gun was just left with a "that was disappointing", so kudos.

Patty, as played by Leslie Jones, does not actually portray a racist stereotype. She plays a very likeable character, and does it very well.

Holtzman, the engineer, is a genuine delight as well. I'm particularly fond of a section where she's dancing around in the lab to something in the vein of WHAM! or Lionel Ritchie, and when it's switched off she makes a comment about thinking it was Devo.

There is a lot of new technology in the film, which is really cool.

There is a very large variety of ghost designs, perhaps inspired by the cartoon. Once again, very cool.

All of that being said, there are some definite negatives.
Some of the jokes fall completely flat. For example, the characters are in a meeting and about to be kicked out of the University. While the person in charge is getting ready to say "two words", the main characters are predicting what he's going to say... while sitting about a metre away from him. Not only would he be able to hear exactly what they're saying (and should react accordingly) but it's simply not very funny.

Despite absolutely not being a sequel in any way, shape or form, the film does make many references to the first film, but then doesn't go as "big". When looking for a base of operations the team are offered the fire house, but because they can't afford it they settle for a room above a Chinese takeaway.
The climax of the film takes place in a hotel with a dark history, sort of like the first film (which was apartments)... but they don't leave the ground-floor.
It keeps comparing itself to the first film, and then intentionally not doing things as well.

Which makes the villain even more of a conundrum. He's a white nerd who has been bullied, and is a fan of a book that the main characters published. Some have interpreted this as a metaphor for fans of the original films, with the film directly attacking them. Whilst I didn't interpret it that way, it is completely understandable.
To me, the villain was a caricature of the people who posted the more toxic comments on the trailers on youtube. Whilst this may make it sound like I enjoy wearing headwear to block RFID signals, because the film references youtube and comments as well, it made me think that the blow-back was artificially inflated in order to make the people who watch the film dislike the villain (hey, it's easier than actual characterisation).

The cast from the original film have cameos, but Bill Murray's is utterly terrible. Allegedly he only appeared because Sony were going to get litgious if he didn't - and it shows!

Conclusion

Overall I thought that this film was surprisingly funny, though that might be because my expectations were extremely low. Your mileage may vary, depending on your interpretation. Mine was that this is funnier but not as scary as Ghostbusters 2, but inferior to Ghostbusters 1 in pretty much every way, including the special effects.
The marketing was beyond misleading, and was in fact outright lies. Sony should fire whomever made the trailers.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence

The original Independence Day is a fun 3-hour film by Roland Emmerich released in 1996, wherein aliens attack Earth, but are defeated by Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith using a computer virus. This is a big plot-hole in the theatrical release, but was apparently covered in deleted scenes.

It was a little bit flawed, but well put together and really enjoyable.

Now, 20 years later, we have a sequel.

The story is that Earth has implemented alien technology into our own, essentially becoming something like X-Com. We have achieved world peace, have fusion drives, and an outpost on the moon.
Since the first film, all of the aliens on Earth have been catatonic due to not having their leader controlling them (except for some in Africa, which hunted humans, because this film doesn't want to be consistent).
All of the characters who were psychically assaulted by the aliens in the first film have been having visions and headaches, and think the aliens are coming back.
They do, and things explode.

Those things include Canary Wharf. I know that it would need to be recognisable, otherwise the viewer won't care, but why Canary Wharf? Surely with alien technology at our disposal we would build something better than the Shard?

The film makes no attempt to build up characters, possibly on the assumption that most of it was done in the first film, but also makes no effort to build up suspense.
For example, there is a familiar character from the first film, who gets established as being somewhere unspecified in a couple of seconds. Then, when things are starting to get exciting, this character is in peril. However, it was not established that they would be in peril, they just are, and then there is a resolution in a matter of seconds.
This feeling of being rushed and lazy pervades the majority of the film.

China is a pretty huge market, which films now specifically cater to. That isn't a problem in itself, but this film does not handle it well.
There is a Chinese female pilot in the main elite squadron, but there is nothing particularly memorable about her. She presumably had a name, her uncle works on the moon, and she is the love interest for another character.
At the end they get together, but in doing so they didn't share any development or growth, unless it was off-screen. It just is.

The film has a couple of homages to films in other genres, a bit like the first one did, but all it does is remind the viewer that they could be watching something better.

Brent Spiner reprises his role as Dr Okun, who has been in a coma for 20 years. If you remember the original, he was the main researcher in area 51, who admitted that alien technology was way beyond ours.
So why is he surprised when an alien calls humans primitive? That's just inconsistent and terrible writing.

The morning before seeing it, I watched Chris Stuckman's review of the 1990s Captain America film:


At the climax of that Captain America film, there are two fights going on, and the camera cuts between them and different angles so quickly (less than a second per shot) that it comes across as a completely inept attempt to try and be exciting, instead making the audience physically ill.

Independence Day 2 also makes this mistake, especially at the end.

The quality of everything: writing, special effects, acting, directing all greatly deteriorate as the film goes on. By the end it felt like it was simply box-ticking. Like they had a checklist of things that films of this genre do, and were hurrying to do each one.
Which is made even stranger by the fact it was also directed by Emmerich.

It feels like there is a huge amount of footage missing, and I wonder if perhaps the budget ran out part way through. That would go some way to explaining why there was a decent (though slightly lazy) first act, while the rest of the film felt rushed and looked abysmal.


My rating? Don't bother.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

An open letter complaining about Amazon.com

Dear Amazon,

At the time of writing I am filled with anger and frustration.

You see, I am a fan of the Zero Escape games, and I was very much looking forward to the release of the third one: Zero Time Dilemma.

As is usually the case with these, there was a special edition announced which included the game and a replica of the watches the characters wear within it, for no extra cost.
As usual, it was only available in the US, evidently being a deal with amazon.com specifically.

Since I had no indulged in the watches for the previous games, I decided to do so this time, especially as it is the last in the series. So I placed my pre-order for the PSVita version (as the Nintendo 3DS is region-locked) within hours of being able to do so, on June 25th 2015.

As I live in the UK, I then proceeded to live the following year without visiting Amazon.com at all (instead visiting the .co.uk version, which has different data) during which time my credit card expired (but I was sent a replacement one with the same number). As you might expect, it didn't even occur to me to update my payment information.

Then finally, on Tuesday 28th June 2016 the game was released. However, my game was not sent out, as there was a manufacturing issue with the watch, so they were waiting for stock.
Helpfully, Amazon emailed me telling me this, and that they were therefore going to send the game and watch separately, and even give me a $10 voucher as recompense.

I emailed Amazon pointing out that I live in the UK and thus might get charged by customs twice rather than once. They offered to refund me the cost of any secondary customs charges, which was very generous of them.

Then on Friday 1st July at 22:34 GMT I received an email telling me that I would receive confirmation when my order ships. At exactly the same time I received an email telling me my order was cancelled due to my credit card being declined.

I was at the cinema at the time, and eventually went to bed without checking my email until the Saturday morning, when I started panicking.
I changed my billing information to be accurate, but could not access the order, as Amazon for some reason only lets you see cancelled orders if they were placed in the last six months, rather than if they were cancelled within the last six months.

I emailed Amazon in the morning to explain the issue, but did not get a response for a fair few hours (at which point it was a poorly formatted boiler-plate message about shipping - evidently whomever was in charge of responding didn't actually read my message.)

In the afternoon, before I received the unhelpful response, I started a chat session with a customer service representative (who shall remain nameless as I harbour no resentment towards particular people in this story).
They were also unable to help, first of all offering me a free replacement watch. Whilst generous (especially if I had decided to take the piss and order a Rolex, which I didn't because I'm not that kind of person) I felt this missed the point. It wasn't the fact I didn't have a watch, it was the fact that I was not allowed to have the watch I had ordered, and was forced into this situation without any warning or leeway.

Eventually the representative told me that the game and watch bundle would come into stock on Prime day. I specifically asked twice if they were telling me that some of the very limited stock of this bundle was kept back especially for Prime day. After asking for the second time, and a very long wait, they told me that was the case.

I contacted Aksys, the publisher of the game, via the contact form on their website if they could verify that information for me, but I did not hear back.

Now Prime Day has come, and has been going for over 12 hours. Currently the product in question has not appeared on the list of available deals, nor does it look likely to.
Much as I would love to spend 24 hours waiting for something that seems unlikely to happen, I have to be reasonable about this, and give up.

As such I have missed out on a product that I ordered well over a year ago, both due to my mistake, and due to Amazon's atrocious user experience and sub-par customer service.

However, I believe Amazon can (and should) learn from this experience - what follows is my advice on how to drastically improve Amazon from the customer's perspective:

My Advice to Amazon:

1) Warn customers that their payment methods are due to expire.

You undoubtedly store this information, so it would be very helpful to warn customers that their credit card details are about to become invalid.

2) Introduce a grace period for failed orders.

You should give customers a reasonable amount of time, e.g. 24 hours, to correct mistakes on a failed order, rather than just instantly selling the potentially very limited stock to whomever next comes along. Their money might be just as good as the first person's, but since they placed the order it's safe to assume they actually want the product.

3) Fix the cancelled orders interface.

In the last fortnight it appears Amazon.com have changed the wording on the cancelled orders interface, but it remains incorrect on the Amazon.co.uk interface. In both cases there is a link to view all orders, so you can go through your history, but my cancelled order still does not show up. I would still argue that the interface should show orders that were cancelled in the last 6 months, as the date when the order was created is completely irrelevant to what the user would want to see.

4) Don't lie to your customers.

Evidently in my chat with the customer service representative I was lied to so that I would stop complaining. A simple case of "there is nothing I can do" would have been far preferable to telling me to wait a week and then waste my time trawling through a haystack of deals to find a non-existent needle.

Hopefully if you follow my advice above, your service will be vastly improved, and you can prevent yourselves from losing customers in the future.


Sincerely,

Joseph Dowland

Friday, 17 June 2016

Zelda: Breath of the Wild

This year at E3 Nintendo demonstrated their newest Zelda game, Breath of the Wild.
As soon as I saw the trailer I started theorising on when it takes place on the timeline, and it appears many other people have done the same, even making videos about it.

Never one to not leap on a passing bandwagon, I'm tempted to make a video, but doing so takes a lot of time and effort. I'm definitely lacking in the former at the moment, so instead I'm writing this post.

The Zelda timeline as written in the House Historia spurs into three due to Ocarina of Time:

One where Link is defeated by Ganon/Ganondorf.
One where Link defeats Ganon in the future, then disappears when he travels to the past.
One where Link, now a child again, gets Ganondorf arrested and executed before he manages to actually commit a crime.

As a side note, I find this a bit problematic. Twilight Princess takes place in that last timeline, and Ganondorf gets exiled to the Twilight dimension. However, since he was arrested and executed before Link drew the Master Sword from the pedestal in the Temple of Time, unlocking the seal on the Sacred Realm and allowing Ganondorf to touch the Tricorn, the Triforce should be safely locked away. But it isn't. Unfortunately some mental gymnastics are required, like saying that time operates differently in regards to the Sacred Realm.
The truth is, Nintendo don't care about this as much as the fans do.

In Ocarina of Time, when Link first draws the Master Sword from its pedestal, Rauru the Sage of Light tells him that he wasn't old enough, so his body hash been kept safe for 7 years.
Whilst it could simply be interpreted as him being unconscious for that long, the fact you can go backwards and forwards through time says to me that Link's consciousness was transported through time, but his body wasn't.

This is very important.
The trailer for Breath of the Wild features a Korok. These are plant creatures which the humanoid Kokori from Ocarina of Time eventually changed into by the time of Wind Waker.
These characters so far have only appeared in the Wind Waker timeline, which is the "adult" one where Link defeated Ganon as an adult, then disappeared.

The opening of Wind Waker states that Ganon was resurrected, but the Hero of Time (Link from Ocarina of Time) didn't reappear to fight him, so the Goddesses flooded Hyrule.
The reason Link didn't reappear is because though his body existed, his consciousness was missing.

The trailer features a voice telling Link to wake up, and apparently the beginning of the game involves Link waking up in some kind of cryogenic chamber.
I believe this is adult Link's body that has been preserved since Ocarina of Time.
However I have no explanation as to why it can move without his consciousness. Maybe it's been so long thar young Link is dead, but having someone resurrect into their own body but it an alternate timeline is a very odd and barely coherent concept.

I haven't seen the gameplay footage from the demos yet, as I'm oddly reticent to sit through five hours of other people playing a game. However, from screenshots I've seen, there is an old man who looks like the King from Wind Waker who starts you on your quest, and refers to "Calamity Ganon". Does this mean something, or is it just reusing a similar character design?
Since the environment appears to be the flooded Hyrule, but not flooded at the time, but also very devoid of humanoid life, does this mean that this takes place after Hyrule is no longer flooded? Long after the end of Wind Waker? Or is it before?
If the latter, it would imply a doomed quest, so I doubt it.
Maybe this is another split, on the Wind Waker line? Currently we have no reason to believe so, but Skyward Sword featured time travel, and some sci-fi elements that are similar to what we've seen so far.

To quote Bob from Reboot: "No-one knows for sure, but I intend to find out!"

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Warcraft: The Beginning

I have not played any Warcraft game, with the exception of World of Warcraft, which is incredibly boring due to it's nature as an MMO.

So when I went into Warcraft: The Beginning, I knew nothing about it, apart from it being based on the games and directed by David Bowie's son.

The story is that the Orcs are coming to the (world? country? continent? dimension? planet? The film is very unclear) of Azeroth using "fell" magic, which requires living sacrifices to work and corrupts the areas in which it is used.
The Orcs, being war-like, want to ravage and conquer, taking more prisoners so that they can bring yet more Orcs through.
The current denizens of Azeroth, who are primarily human, are not fans of this idea.

That's about as much as I can say without going entirely into spoiler territory. This is in part due to the fact that the film covers so much in it's two hour run-time that it seems incredibly rushed.
It's an odd paradox, where the film feels overly long, but extending the length so that events could be better paced would have made it feel shorter.

The story seems very cliched, but it does make some very courageous moves, which is should be applauded for.

The film features of a lot of CGI, but once again it's so pervasive that it's doesn't detract from the suspension of disbelief.

Apart from the pacing (which was a severe issue), the only major flaw I can think of is in the sound design is at times poor, with the noise of magic spells being cast being far louder than the things characters are saying.

There is a good sense of humour pervading throughout the film, including a joke in regards to a particular WOW spell.

There are also other references but these are a bit more flawed. For example, a particular demon appears who I think I've seen in artwork surrounding the games, and was obviously recognised by the fans of the games, but it was completely lost on me, especially because the film made absolutely no effort in explaining it.

Conclusion

Overall, I found that I didn't care for this film. It did too much in too short a time, and would have greatly benefited from further development in almost every area of the story. The film does deserve some praise for being willing to buck the trend and not be formulaic, but in the end was not much more than average.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Imagine me in 1991, 5 years old, watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. Shredder has managed to get the same ooze that created the titular turtles, and is about to use it to create two mutant underlings.
"I'm going to see Rocksteady and Bebop in a film!" I probably thought, excitedly.
He uses the ooze, and everyone in the cinema is greeted by Count Duckula, and Man-bear-pig.



Fast forward just under 25 years. I'm going to turn 30 very shortly, and I am sitting in the cinema again, seeing Bebop and Rocksteady on the big screen, and having my seat intermittently kicked by some little shit young child who evidently has no manners.

Dreams do come true, but they're never perfect, and often quite late. Much like getting Lego Sonic the Hedgehog.

I think I should specify some important context:
I do not care for Michael Bay. At all.
I remember enjoying The Rock, but I wouldn't say it's memorable.
I think I've seen Bad Boys 1 & 2, but I don't remember them.
I have seen all of the Transformers film, and despised all of them. In fact, when I saw the fourth (which was the second one I saw) I sincerely spent the last hour of the film praying for the sweet release of death.

However, I have greatly enjoyed both of the recent Turtles films. This is probably due to Bay only being a producer, and not actually being in a particularly influential role.

Special Effects

Once again, this is an effects heavy film. For the most part it is passable - not great, but because it's constantly there it's not jarring and doesn't take you out of the film. However, there is one particular section in a river, and I swear, the effects were unbelievably good!
It's odd, most of the time wet textures are what ruins good effects or graphics, where everything, no matter what the texture is meant to be physically like, looks like it's covered in slime.
Not so, here. Honestly, it almost looked as if the Turtles were animatronic puppets like in the originals.

Megan Fox

Megan Fox reprises her role as April O'Neil, once again looking and acting far more human than in the Transformers films. She isn't just a damsel in distress, but takes an active role in events (but sometimes it doesn't work out so well).
There is a short (and early) section shown in the trailers where she dresses in a schoolgirl outfit, and the camera lingers. However, contextually, though obviously still for the male gaze, it doesn't seem anywhere as exploitative as you'd expect from a Bay film (it's in fact a distraction for the purposes of espionage).
For the rest of the film no such thing happens, so it at least gets it out of the way early.

Camera Work

The camera work in the film is actually really good - the action scenes don't shake the camera too much, so the action is easy to follow.
At the end, when the film is reaching the climax, the dutch angles come out. Dutch angles are when you tilt the camera to indicate that something is horribly wrong, but they only work when contrasted with normal shots (hence why Battlefield Earth is both terrible and amateurish).
I noticed it, and felt impressed. The director uses his tool-set correctly.

Casey Jones

Casey Jones is played by the guy from Arrow, as the audience was loudly reminded by the shitling young person sitting behind me. I honestly can't remember how Jones was in the cartoon, but I do remember him in the first film. There is a definite contrast here, as the character is less of a charming badass.
Shortly after he is introduced, he points out a plot-hole with the events that are happening, which is somewhat appreciated - if the film didn't point out "this is stupid, but necessary for this scene to work" it could be used as a criticism against it.

Will Arnett

Will Arnett proves once again to be really good comic foil. He might be type-cast, but he's brilliant at it.

Bebop and Rocksteady

Yes, Bebop and Rocksteady are here! Yes, they are annoying, but being incompetent comic sidekicks that's kind of the point. Bebop is played by Gary Anthony Williams (who I recognise but I'm not sure what from) and Rocksteady is played by Seamus "The Great White Shark" from WWE.
Though Rocksteady having a strong Irish accent is different from the cartoon, it doesn't feel out of place (except for one scene where he says "Whoops, my bad" - I'm not sure why. Maybe the lips didn't quite match)
Overall I think they were done well.

Throught the film, the liquid that can transform things (like the Turtles into humans or Bebopy and Rocksteady into a warthog and rinocerous) is referred to as "Ooze" - from this it seems fairly evident that the film makers were very aware of the second original film (and the disappointment that arose from it) and so were trying to, not make up for it, but make sure that they didn't repeat the same mistakes.

Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry plays Baxter Stockman, who is probably going to get mutated into a fly in the next film. The only reason I bring this up at all is that I watched someone's review where they mentioned him as a negative.
I hate him donning a fat-suit and being an unfunny racist stereotype as much as the next man, but let's be fair - Gone Girl proved that he is in fact a really good actor.
Here he does a perfectly fine job.

Conclusion

All in all, though this wasn't a particularly good cinema going experience for me, it was a genuinely entertaining film that basically felt like the cartoon had come to life.

One terrapin out of a mongoose.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

X-men: Apocalypse

X-men: Apocalypse is an interesting film, partially in how it can be compared to Captain America 3, which was released at roughly the same time.
Whereas Captain America was, as described by some outlets, a political thriller disguised as an action film, X-men is undoubtedly and unashamedly a popcorn action film.
This is not to say it isn't a good film, though. It knows what it wants to do, and does it well. Mostly.

The film sees the latest iteration of the X-men cast (Fassbender et al) facing off against the semi-titular villain. Semi-titular because, though he is known as Apocalypse in the comics, cartoon, and games, in this film he is known exclusively as En Sabah Nur.
He is a mutant, possibly the first one, who transfers himself between bodies, absorbing the abilities of the mutant he transfers into in the process.
This is done using some kind of gigantic machine, which seems to be less of him using a mutant ability to transfer (which one would presume would not require advanced technology to utilise) and more using some kind of alien technology - the idea is not developed at all, but could hint at things to come in future sequels (as aliens are involved with the X-men, sometimes)

At the start of the film, his performs this process transferring himself into an immortal mutant, but is buried until modern day (1983) by some Game of Thrones cameos.

I have seen some people criticising Apocalypse's design, which features some nice Egyptian inspired-features, mixed with alien-looking technology. Imagine Stargate, but with a blue tint. Yes, it looks a bit silly, but a lot less silly than this:

I don't want to get into describing what happens in the film blow-by-blow in detail, but there are a few points I want to make.

Religion

Apocalypse is buried in ancient Egypt to cries of "Death to the false god!" indicating that he has convinced his followers that he is a deity, which is pretty much par for the course for ancient Egypt.

In the teaser trailer (above) Apocalypse has a speech about the names he has been known by, which includes "Yahweh". In case you are unaware, "Yahweh" translates to "I am" and is the "name" of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God. The implication clearly being that the fictional Marvel universe (which includes a multitude of other Gods) is not according to the mythology of western religions, or perhaps leaning towards Gnosticism (the concept that a God did create the Universe, but then left, and the interactions humanity has had with "God" afterwards was actually a malevolent imposter)
However, in the finished film that name (and "Ra" if memory serves) is removed. Apparently the studio misplaced it's testicles between producing the trailer and releasing the film, which is a huge shame to me. Come on, guys - push the envelope a little.

Jubilee

Like many people, my first exposure to the X-men was through the saturday morning cartoon, and which used Jubilee as the audience proxy for the first few episodes.
Interestingly she does appear in this film, quite a lot. I think that the writer must have known that quite a lot of fans would be curious to how she is portrayed, and to that end turned her into Maggie Simpson in all of the "future" episodes of the Simpsons. By that I mean that literally every time she was about to talk, she would be prevented from doing so. I'm not sure how I feel about that, as it was somewhat funny, but it felt a bit like I was meant to be the butt of the joke.

Quicksilver

He's back, and he is utterly hilarious! If it weren't for his dour representation in Avengers: Age of Ultron, I would be wondering why good-guy speedsters seem to be universally light hearted comic relief.

Jean Grey

In another example of the influence on Game of Thrones, Jean Grey is played by Sansa Stark. She is a perfectly competent actress, but evidently has a little bit of trouble with the particular American accent she was attempting. This is obvious, and a little bit distracting, because in some scenes her dialogue was ADRd and it doesn't quite match up.

Wolverine

Not a spoiler as it's in the (final) trailer, but the eternal Mary-Sue that is Wolverine is in this film. He is done very well, though, particularly because it's an extremely minimal part with barely a line of dialogue.

Special Effects

As mentioned before, this is a less cerebral film than Captain America, and much more spectacle. As such, the film makes liberal use of CGI, which is expensive. The vast majority of it looks really good, or at least convincing enough.
However there are a couple of scenes of a shipping yard which, to be frank, would look more convincing is scribbled on a napkin in crayon. They are unbelievably bad.
The thing is, since it's only a couple of scenes - literally no more than a minute of footage - I am left wondering why it wasn't edited out of the final cut?

The Horsemen

Apocalypse has four mutant henchmen, like the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. One of whom is Archangel, who has a transformation sequence featuring a heavy metal song, as if to say "Hey, look at this guy with his METAL wings. Isn't this so freaking METAL?"
Since the guy looks like a literal child, not really. In fact, it just seems off.

Conclusion

I honestly really enjoyed this film, despite a few mis-steps. It's not the most intelligent, but it is a really solid action film, with Fassbender continuing to be a fantastic Magneto.
As the film itself says, the third one is always the worst. This is perhaps not as good as First Class and Days of Future Past, but is far better than The Last Stand.
Since the next one planned is a third Wolverine specific film (the two so far being at most so bad they're good) I'm not too hopeful about Wolverine 3.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War is thankfully not called Captain Am3rica despite being the third one.
One of the things I particularly like about (some of) the Disney-Marvel films is how, despite being "childish comic book shite", they don't shy away from considering complex ethical or political issues.
This is one of those films.
The film starts off with an action scene, making excessive use of shaky-cam. I would also be struggling (and possibly arrested) were I chasing after Scarlett Johansen as fast as the camera-man was. The team are chasing after a group of terrorists stealing a McGuffin (that literally never gets explained) and there is some collateral damage.
Due to this, and the Avenger's previous adventures, they are deemed by the world at large to be too dangerous, and thus they are asked to become controlled by the UN or to retire. That's right, it's not the "superhuman registration act" in this.
This is the one of the main plots of the film (there are a few plots going on concurrently) - lines are drawn with some characters wanting to sign up to UN control, and others disagreeing with it on the grounds that politicians have agendas and are temporary (even if they are just now, their successors might not be)
As you might expect, Captain America is on the side of freedom, rather than politicians.

The second primary plot involves Cap trying to track down the Winder Soldier, with the film taking a surprisingly long time to reach the teaser scene from the end of Ant-Man.

There is also a third story running alongside (and occasionally rubgy-tackling the two) about Black Panther, a member of royalty from the fictional African nation of Wakanda, and who is simply fantastic.

There are, of course, multiple action scenes over the course of the film, which have the habit of getting steadier (and therefore easier to process) as the film goes on.
This is largely because they become more and more CG focused as the film progresses, and you know what? It works!
The best demonstration of this is a fight between all of the heroes in an airport, which looks utterly convincing. Of course, people can't fly, or change size, so conceptually you might not be able to suspend your disbelief, but the actual graphics used are utterly fantastic. So much so that many people, including myself, were surprised to learn that it was entirely green-screened!

In fact, throughout my viewing, I was completely immersed, until a point very close to the end, but I think that was due to my sitting quite close to the front, making my neck hurt. Were I further back I think my immersion wouldn't have broken throughout the entire film.

Spiderman does make an appearance, and was actually handled very well in my opinion. He was very talkative, rather than witty, but I felt that improved over time, as if his becoming witty is itself part of his character development. So he was slightly grating at points, but got better.

Overall, I really enjoyed this film, despite it's faults, and the Captain America films continue to be a high point of the MCU.

4 skeins of wool out of an alpaca.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane

In 2008 J.J. Abrams released a film called "Cloverfield", a found footage film about a handful of New York residents surviving a giant monster attack. If you could get past the shaky-camera potentially giving you motion-sickness, and the fact that digital video cameras don't work the way the do in the film, it was very enjoyable. I personally really liked it.
At the end of the film two particular things happened:
  1. The US military drop a nuclear bomb on the monster, but audio at during the credits indicate that the monster survived the assault. (Though Abrams says it didn't... ffs.)
  2. A scene from Cony Island before the monster attack show something falling from the sky into the ocean. From the ARG and the spin-off manga, we know that this was a satellite that woke up the sleeping sea monster in the first place.
Now, 8 years later, we get another film - "10 Cloverfield Lane". That wasn't always the film's name. The initial script was called "The Cellar", and then once Abrams got involved it was called "Valencia" as an alleged smoke-screen.

The thing is, it really shows. By having the word "Cloverfield" in the title, it makes a heavy implication as to the content - that it would be related to Cloverfield in some way, perhaps as a sequel.

Spoilers begin.

The film stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Ramona Flowers) as Michelle, who while driving along the road, running away from her now ex-fiancée, gets run off of the road. Moments earlier the radio talked about power outages on the southern-seaboard (for those who were confused, like me, that probably indicates the south-eastern area of the US) which does not include New York, but I suppose the EMP from a nuclear bomb could potentially cause effects like that. Or a giant monster attacking power stations?

Anyway, Michelle then wakes up in a survivalist shelter owned by Howard (John Goodman). Goodman is amazingly creepy and psychotic throughout this film. He is nothing short of fantastic.

The other resident of the shelter is Emmett (John Gallagher Jr) who is decent enough, and describes seeing a flash of light on the horizon unlike anything he's ever seen before (hmmm... nuclear bomb exploding on a rampaging monster?)

The majority of the film takes place in the shelter, with Goodman claiming that there is some kind of attack going on outside, that the air is contaminated, and he himself having terrifying mood-swings. It's brilliant, though there was room for improvement (his obsession with thinking of Michelle as a surrogate daughter indicates some massive trauma that doesn't get developed, but also a really creepy sexual edge that also doesn't get used. He could have also spied on Emmett and Michelle by listening through the air-ducts, but did not.)

In addition to that Michelle has to wear his young daughter's clothes, which (as my friend pointed out) seem really baggy on the 5'8" 31 year old woman. That just doesn't seem right.

Without spoiling too much of the film, for the longest time in this creepy kind-of horror film, it seems that the events going on outside could be explained by the existence of Cloverfield, and the film seems like a really good sequel, a solid 8/10

Spoilers lessen

Then Michelle gets out of the shelter, and everything goes to shit.
By that I don't mean things escalate (though they do), I mean that the film becomes awful, and it becomes evident that this film has absolutely nothing to do with Cloverfield at all.
The ending is just absolutely terrible.

Summary

Unfortunately this film is good for the first three acts, but just goes completely insane in the fourth.
What, four acts? Why yes, because it's like two completely different films mashed together.
The majority of the film is a solid 8/10, but unfortunately the unbelievably awful ending drags the entire film into 5/10 territory.

If you do decide to watch this film, walk out the moment the main character does, and don't expect it to have anything to do with Cloverfield.

Calling it "10 Cloverfield Lane" is nothing but a cheap ploy to get you to see it in the hopes that it's related.
The only way this is related is if this is meant to be a franchise of unrelated anthology films.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Dragon's Dogma

On a similar note to the Souls games, Dragon's Dogma has had a PC re-release. Not only that, but it's a really good port, and I even have the graphics card Eurogamer tested it on.
It should run beautifully on my computer.

Apparently Capcom have said that if it does well, they might consider bringing Dragon's Dogma Online to the west.
While I don't particularly care about, and largely dislike MMOs, more of this franchise is a very pleasant thought.

Hell, maybe if it does well, Capcom will finally finish Deep Down? I really like the look of that one.

I never actually finished Dragon's Dogma when I had it on the 360 - the endgame difficulty, combined with my desire to 100% every game, resulted in me getting frustrated and a bit bored.
It is a fantastic game, with some flaws.

However, since I already bought it upon it's initial release, got the expansion pack, and I have both via Playstation Plus, I'm hesitant to pay £30 for it on the PC.
I really want it to succeed, but I also really want it to drop to a more justifiable price.

It may seem somewhat petty, since upgrading the graphics to the degree they have is no small feat, but it is still less effort than writing the script and designing the entire game, like they did the first time around. Plus, it's 4 years old. So spending the same amount of money on it as I did 4 years ago isn't justified, in my opinion.