This Week’s Film/Games Reviews — 31/08/09

August 31, 2009 § Leave a comment

This week I will be reviewing Shadow Complex for XBLA and a film – I don’t know which one yet, but I’ll update the site when I come by that information.

Happy Bank Holiday Monday, everyone.

Quote of the week:

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

(Henry David Thoreau, American poet, writer and philosopher.)

[Addendum: looks like it’s going to be THX 1138 (1971) for review this week.]


‘Taken’ (2008) 600 Word DVD Review

August 27, 2009 § 2 Comments

Score: 4 out of 5

Bryan Mills’ (Liam Neeson) seventeen-year-old daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), is kidnapped while vacationing in Paris. Mills also happens to be a former spy, and he’ll be damned if he’s going to let a bunch of Eastern European thugs take his daughter away from him. So, guess what? In true vigilante form he goes down there to rescue his daughter while raining down great vengeance and furious anger on those who perpetrated this wicked deed. As high concept exploitation films go, Taken pretty much ticks all the boxes. The only thing missing is Harrison Ford running around, screaming at the terrorists bad guys, “I want my daughter back!” Instead, we’ll have to make do with Oskar Schindler over here.

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'Alone in the Dark' Xbox 360 Review

August 25, 2009 § Leave a comment

Score: 2 out of 5

You can’t fault Alone in the Dark for its ambition or for its production values, but for everything else it attempts to do, it does it badly; for every unique innovation it presents, it almost always, unfailing, counterbalances it with something to piss you off. Alone in the Dark isn’t a total disaster, but neither is it any good.

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This Week’s Film/Games Reviews — 24/08/09

August 24, 2009 § Leave a comment

This week we’ve got Alone in the Dark being reviewed for the Xbox 360 as well as a look at Taken (2008), last year’s revenge thriller starring Liam Neeson. Unfortunately, having already played through most of Alone in the Dark, I can tell you now that it’s not going to be a positive review, and I’m not all that keen on Liam Neeson, either, so I’ll remain skeptical about Taken. Liam Neeson? Revenge thriller? The two don’t seem to mix on the face of it, but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Quote of the week:

I’m supposed to act like they aren’t here. Assuming there’s a “they” at all. It may just be my imagination. Whatever it is that’s watching, it’s not human, unlike little dark eyed Donna. It doesn’t ever blink. What does a scanner see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does it see into me, into us? Clearly or darkly? I hope it sees clearly, because I can’t any longer see into myself. I see only murk. I hope for everyone’s sake the scanners do better. Because if the scanner sees only darkly, the way I do, then I’m cursed and cursed again. I’ll only wind up dead this way, knowing very little, and getting that little fragment wrong too.

(Fred/Bob Arctor, A Scanner Darkly.)

‘The Chronicles of Riddick’ (2004) 900 Word DVD Review

August 23, 2009 § Leave a comment

Score: 2 out of 5

It saddens me to say it, but, whatever way you look at it, The Chronicles of Riddick is not a good movie. To say the film is disappointing when compared to Pitch Black is an understatement, as it is nowhere near as interesting or as well produced as that movie. On the other hand, it also fails as an epic, sci-fi fantasy adventure, not living up to the expectations of the genre.

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‘Call of Duty: World at War’ PC Review

August 21, 2009 § 7 Comments

Score: 4 out of 5

Poor Treyarch – always in the shadow of its allegedly more talented sibling, Infinity Ward. Treyarch’s name is one that has become synonymous with inferiority or slapdash effort. Along with Climax Group (they of Silent Hill: Origins fame) and Ubisoft Shanghai (they of, well, that train wreck), Treyarch seem to have garnered an unfortunate reputation among gamers.

Now, I’m not here to argue whether that’s a fair reflection of the company or not, but what I will say is that Call of Duty: World at War is a really great game, and Treyarch do have something to be proud of here. Its single player campaign may not have quite the same impact as Call of Duty 4’s, but it’s got its share of spectacular moments. The multiplayer, likewise, is of the same high standard and possesses an almost identical levelling up component, allowing you to gain access to new weapons, perks, and other unlockables. But there’s also a new competitive co-op mode, too – never seen before in the series and which, for the most part, works quite well. Lastly, there’s this thing called Nazi Zombie mode, where you and three other buddies team up and hunker down in a level, defending against incoming waves of Undead – essentially, a smattering of Left 4 Dead with a smidge of Horde mode from Gears of War 2.

Fundamentally, it’s the exact same gameplay in Call of Duty 4 transferred into a World War II setting, with more stuff. And, hell, I don’t think you can really consider that a bad thing. You could say that it’s just a cosmetic overhaul, but Call of Duty 4’s core gameplay and multiplayer were, and still are, sublime. The old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, applies here, so why go and change a winning formula? (Answer: you don’t.)

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This Week’s Film/Games Reviews — 17/08/09

August 17, 2009 § Leave a comment

This week I will be reviewing Call of Duty: World at War for the PC and The Chronicles of Riddick on DVD. Having just completed the Xbox 360 version of Assault on Dark Athena, I’m really psyched up for seeing this film. I’ve heard it’s had mixed reviews, so I’m trying to keep my expectations low, but I’m still quite looking forward to it.

Quote of the week:

He would rage and he would cry, my lost soldier.  And I said to him, “There are two of you, don’t you see?  One that kills and one that loves.” And he said to me, “I don’t know whether I am animal or a god.” But you are both.

(Roxanne speaking to Willard in bed, Apocalypse Now! Redux.)

Now, I’d like to talk about this quote for a moment. You’ll only find these lines in the Redux version of the film, and although there are many, many more eminently quotable lines in this movie, this always seems to stick out at me the most. The reason is that it pretty much encapsulates the entire premise of the film: the idea of the human being divided between two selves, between creation and destruction, life and death. I personally find the entire scene at the French plantation very interesting, especially in considering that it was cut from the theatrical version. I am sure there must have been good reasons for this – issues of running time and pace, probably – but there’s something interesting, to me, about a couple of lines, inconspicuously hidden in a discarded scene, that are actually quite significant.

Of course, this isn’t the only time the entire theme of the movie is echoed through the mouths of its characters. Right in the beginning of the film, General Corman says to Willard that

it must be a temptation to be God. Because there’s a conflict in every human heart, between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil. And good does not always triumph. Sometimes, the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature.  Every man has got a breaking point. You have and I have them.  Walter Kurtz has reached his.  And, very obviously, he has gone insane.

This again reinforces the idea of a kind of duality within the human psyche and the possibility for every human being to inhabit evil. Interestingly, here, it seems that the general is indicating that “every man has got a breaking point” at which one will be corrupted – a certain sense of inevitability or futility is hinted at.

At the end, though, we see Willard accomplishing his mission and it is made very obvious that he has almost come to his “breaking point”, or even perhaps is already there. In killing Kurtz has Willard taken the final step? Has he crossed that last line, and does he have the ability to turn back from the threshold? While the film is extremely dark thematically, the ending is surprisingly optimistic under closer analysis. Willard makes the choice to return home with the last (barely) surviving member of his crew and rejects the temptation and allure of the kind of insanity Kurtz is offering: the power of absolute freedom, to do anything one wishes at any given moment, without consideration of the rightness or wrongness of an action; freedom from conscience, from judgment, from the self. And in light of all this, Willard makes the decision to keep his humanity – or what’s left of it.

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