Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The 4400 Season 1

4400 people go missing throughout the last fifty years or so and all turn up at the same time. But why? The Wild Bore checks out whether this series should have gone missing instead or whether this cancelled show should be brought back itself.

It's a tough break for something originally pitched as an alien abduction piece that goes up at the same time as Spielberg's 'Taken'. In fact, the whole reason why I got it is because I mistook it for Taken. Instead this, which was a present for my girlfriend left lovingly still in it's clingfilm wrap thing beneath other DVD's, gets a fair outing while she's away in New York and giving me a break from The Shield (we HAVE to watch it together by punishment of death).

The original premise is great, people have been disappearing from all over America at different times and suddenly all turn up at once with no memory of what's been happening. The first was a little 8 year old girl taken in 1948 or something, making her the oldest child ever - and the freakiest - because the thing is, they've not come back alone! Bwahahaha! Instead, they've come back with certain powers. Sounds a bit like Heroes? Well, it is a little bit.

The main protagonist is the father of a son who is in a coma after seeing his cousin float away. Oh dear. While the partner he's been assigned with is a lonely scientist obsessed with work - luckily both work for Homeland Security. Their relationship doesn't really get a chance to properly bloom, but they keep the series engaging enough and become a good anchor point to the narrative.

Different interesting social themes come up during this series, racism, immigration, morality etc but the story is actually quite well written. I was engrossed throughout and the pace was fast enough, however it does feel a bit too much like an American soap or a copy off of different TV series' put together. Yes Heroes because of the powers, The X Files because of the male/female sci-fi partnership, but also traces of The OC and more. That's the problem. I feel like it could be so much more and at a meagre five episodes it must be less a season and more a mini-series.

There is quite a lot I like though, the idea of a resort for the 4400 to stay in (or keep an eye on to take advantage of later), the idea of meeting your daughter or old lover thirty years later is heartbreaking, the fact that there's so many of them means that storylines could be limitless and I randomly quite enjoy the title sequence, though I have no idea why.

You do find out why they are there by the end, which I thought would be stretched out a bit longer but it's quite exciting to see where it will go. As an opener, it works, but is in danger of tipping into either the crap area or the sublime cult area that tends to inspire more than succeed. I'm hoping for the latter, but after hearing it was axed after the fourth season on a cliffhanger, I'm guessing it's the former. For the moment, it'll do.

Rating: 6/10

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

She's Out Of My League

A rom-com for people who liked The Hangover, but is this a hard ten or a big fat zero? The Wild Bore checks if this is out of everyone's league.

There's something about this new breed of rom-com's for men that leaves a sour taste in my mouth. That's mostly because it covers up shit with clever 'guy jokes' where fraternity is key but true love for the girl wins all. This latest incarnation of such a formula comes with an unbeknowest British twist because not only is Alice Eve from London, but the director is also British having really only worked as a writer on Fur TV. How did he get this gig? Well, it certainly accounts for the poor editing and general uninspiring directing where luckily performance is key.

That's where She's Out Of My League comes into it's own. I enjoyed the performances of everyone involved and they all worked well and definitely made up for the simplistic nature of the film. Jay Baruchel is perfectly cast and Nate Torrence cracked me up but I really do wonder how much of this was the writing, and I'm guessing it's not as much as I would have liked. Both Sean Anders and John Morris have got Hot Tub Time Machine coming out and I think it will prove to see if they really are any good as they haven't got much of a history in Hollywood, or anywhere.

The story of a geeky nerd getting the hot girl isn't anything new either but it works for the twenty-somethings who have grown up with American Pie but want something more mature than the recent teen fodder, but not too old like the characters in The Hangover. There's the classic montage scene, the breaking up and the final 'we-belong-together' scene - let's be honest I'm not giving anything away here by announcing the tried and tested formula of a million films before it because if you think this might be something different, it's not.

There's not much else to say about this film, some of the jokes did make me laugh. The family and his mates are great and there are some good scenes, but I found the actual relationship rather boring. I didn't really care that much if they ended up together because I was too busy concentrating on everyone else, which makes it a McGuffin of sorts, which I'm guessing isn't what they wanted.

Overall, this film is a great no-brainer to take a date to but you can also go with your mates and not get embarrassed. You will enjoy it but I doubt the people who thought The Hangover was amazing (it wasn't) will go crazy for it just as much and get the DVD, probably best for them to wait for the sequel or keep watching Ed Helms in The Office. It's a nice little picture with a classic gross-out edge, but essentially it's the same old shit as before.

Rating: 6/10

Saturday, 27 March 2010

The Shield Season Six

Having survived the wrath of Internal Affairs, can Mackey and his team seek revenge for a fallen comrade? 'Leave sleeping dogs lie' isn't exactly the Strike Team's motto ...

What with an annoyingly frustrating fifth season behind them, The Shield lets loose with all that pent up anger it's been holding back on for the last few episodes. What I didn't realise is that what was going to be one whole series instead got stretched out and turned into two, which looking back on the fifth series, is probably why it didn't quite work so well. If this had been cut down and originally stayed as one series, it would have been incredible, instead everything felt too long and so now, series 6 makes up for it.

It's as if the Strike Team has been completely pushed over the edge and we're watching them tumble down in a chaotic mess, and it's more of what I like. The series begins with Kavanaugh still banging about but is quickly put to one side as Vic and his team grieve over the loss of one of their members. Not only this, but Vic is being forced into retirement, his replacement is eager to jump in, there's a Mexican massacre to sort out, teenage runaways getting sodomised and tortured, Shane is about to have a breakdown and all the usual drama taking place in the Barn.

The general storyline is Mackey trying to find the culprit who killed his colleague and this leads him down a dark and destructive path, his new replacement is also quite 'hip' and 'cool' but is definitely no Vic Mackey, and realises he has some pretty big boots to fill. It's also, again, a power struggle, Vic doesn't like the idea that he won't be in charge anymore and Claudette is trying to reign him in as much as possible while keeping the station afloat. We also see the darker side of politics and how it can be a dirtier game than on the streets. But essentially, I feel this series, and pretty much all of The Shield, is an account of the downfall of Shane. Sure, Vic graces the covers and is the first thing people think of when they see anything to do with The Shield, but really it's about how he has corrupted Shane and created some kind of monster - and like Frankenstein's monster, he starts to stand up to his creator. Their relationship has it's ups and downs, but as Shane starts getting heavily involved with the Armenians, he realises he is in way over his head and has put everything at risk. His selfish behaviour is at odds with the compassion he feels towards the team and his own family and takes out this turmoil on himself in self-destructive ways. Yes, Mackey is the driving force of the series, but Shane is the result.

There's a good fair bit of action, though maybe not as much as the first few series and the show has definitely took an 'intelligent' turn in that it usually focuses now more on double crossings, staying ahead of the game and manipulating people rather than just catching bad guys - which is good and bad, as you can go through almost a whole episode of just talking heads when you'd rather see some smashing heads. The acting again is great and the storylines are more intriguing than ever, including the side stories of Dutch, Tina, Dani etc. but the problem is that firstly, this series seems too short (11 episodes but still...) and makes a nice change from season 5 but there still feels like a certain bad stigma has carried on through - including Antwon.

This series has definitely jumped forward in terms of quality, but alas not quantity and should it have been mixed with the fifth series as originally conceived it would have been amazing. Instead, there's no real huge event, it's rather all a reaction from the previous series' events so it almost feels like an add-on, or as the producers call it 'season 5.1'. I couldn't agree more.

I just can't wait for the seventh...

Rating: 7/10

Friday, 26 March 2010

Dante's Inferno

Visceral Games unleash Hell on Earth. But is it a piece of gaming heaven or should it be damned forever? The Wild Bore goes to Hell to find out.

Visceral Games, once called EA Redwood Shores, products are getting increasingly popular. Since starting out on the luke warm 007: Everything Or Nothing game on PS2, they suddenly burst out 3 years later with the highly anticipated Godfather game. It got mixed reviews but was generally well received as a parallel storyline to the first film and personally, I quite enjoyed it. After The Simpsons game (which wasn't too bad, but not great either) and an unsuccessful Godfather II game, Visceral got back on track with the release of the amazing Dead Space game. Since then, The Sims 3 (whatever) came out but their original content again made a mark, which is Dante's Inferno.

Loosely based on the first part of the Divine Comedy where Dante travels to Hell, Dante who is a Christian during the Crusades rather than an Italian poet, has sinned quite a bit while he's been fighting and his missus is paying the price for it as she is trapped in Hell with Satan. Basically, you go through the 9 Levels of Hell to get her back with a completely useless old blue ghost guy 'helping' you, or just annoying you.

One thing will come up immediately as you begin playing, it's completely ripped off God of War, which is probably why they were quick to get it in before God of War 3 was released a couple of weeks ago. Press buttons at the correct time to launch devastating moves, tap buttons to get doors open and so on and so forth. But the problem is when stealing a successful formula, you need to make it better and quite frankly this hasn't.

The gameplay is very smooth with upgradeable abilities, moves and what not, but it is very much of the same thing again ... and again. Which is fine if, like me, you like a bit of hack and slash, but near the end where you go through 9 different stages of just killing enemies with certain parameters (in the air, no magic etc.) you almost want to kill yourself with irritation. But the fighting is quite fun, so luckily it works. Other irritating things come up, such as puzzles that aren't quite 100% clear on what you have to do, and at one point it took me 15 minutes to find out that by jumping off a falling lift into a dark space, I'd survive rather than plummet to my death. Again. And again. Over and over. These minor irritations do add up.

You also don't really get the sense of Hell's geography, which might sound stupid, but I want to know how this is all laid out. You seem to wander through one level into the next and I'd feel more satisfied if it was thought about a lot more. There are some good points though, the graphics are pretty damn impressive. The CG cut-scenes look incredible, probably some of the best I've seen maybe, and the general concept art I thought was quite good, but seeing as it's Hell, it felt sometimes way too cartoony and obvious. Though trying to avoid being shat on in the Gluttony level was quite unique. Also taking advantage of the huge beasts is quite fun, but a little boring about the 4th time you do it, and when you're destroying a city it's so slow that you start pushing other buttons to see if you can hurry it up. You can't.

So graphics are pretty good, gameplay is good, the sound is great but what about the story? Seeing as it's based on what some people call the beginning of Italian literature as we know it, surely it cannot fail. Well, it kind of does. I enjoyed the story of seeing your sins, meeting your friends and parents trapped in Hell and the little anime sequences of his past (as if he cannot take his past mistakes as 'real') but I wanted something a bit darker and it still seemed a little like the inside of the cave in Disney's Aladdin rather than a true dark, sinister ugly Hell. It's what you would think a video game set in Hell would look like, so there's nothing that might really surprise you. The whole collecting souls and damning or saving them soon goes from a novelty to a chore and after a while you realise you're wasting time constantly doing it when you'd rather finish killing the enemies.

It's a good 7 or 8 hours worth of gameplay, so if you really wanted to you could bash it out in a day, or a weekend and there's enough to last but it won't be something you'll remember for ages. There's downloadable content, different difficulties etc. but you must have to have loved it if you want to come back to it. It worked as a good filler to quench the thirst of everyone who was waiting for God of War 3, well now that it's here, I'd say go do that instead and if you want a bit more, come see Dante in Hell. It won't rock your boat over, but it might cause some waves.

Rating: 6/10

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Percy Jackson & The Olympians - The Lightning Thief

A fantasy film based on the popular children's book of the same name, we see a young man take a Harry Potter-esque plot through a modern Lord of the Rings world with everything based in Greek mythology. But is it more Zero than Zeus?

For some reason, I came into this film thinking that it would be quite good. I'm obsessed with mythology and a modern take on the old myths seemed right up my street, even if it is a kid's film. Alas, it is not so. Instead Percy, the son of Poseidon, thinks he's dyslexic with ADHD etc. when he knows he can read Latin. Doesn't that seem a bit weird to him? His idiotic friend, who is also his 'protector', is the joke-cracking sidekick, who, seeing as he's really the only black person in the whole thing, came across to me as a servant and it was borderline racism. The annoying girl that he fancies, who is supposed to be an alpha female is just completely lame. But what about Percy himself?

Well, the character is okay. The actor doesn't do too badly, but he hasn't really got that much to work with. But for me, it was about the sideline characters including a great Pierce Brosnan, a sexy Rosario Dawson and a Boromir-esque Sean Bean. But then some ruin it, Joe Pantoliano just glides by as Percy's stepdad, Catherine Keener (whom I usually adore) doesn't really fit as the mother figure and Steve Coogan is absolutely awful as Hades. When he first appears in fire as a huge devil, you almost expect him to go 'Ah haaaaaa!' and his human 'rocker' side made me want to hide behind the sofa in embarrassment rather than fear.

But does it hook you in? Well for something that would have a vast supply of material, that being the best stories in history, you'd think they can't go wrong, but they do. The general plot is somehow, someone has stolen Zeus' lightning bolt and he's not happy. General consensus is that Percy has taken it. Right from the off, there's the issue of how a kid, even a demi-God can steal the most powerful weapon of his from under his nose and why, seeing as there are so many who are aware they are demi-Gods when he isn't, they would think that it is him. Oh because he's powerful? Fair enough. But maybe you should be looking for someone with stealth rather than power? Just an idea. But okay, I'll live with it for now. War in a few days if it isn't found? Come on Zeus, taking it a bit far aren't we?

Cut to Percy at school and loving the water (drink your water kids!) and his crippled mate and wheelchair bound teacher are actually ... strong animal-like beings! Sent to protect him which is nice. But how the hell did they cover Brosnan's horse body in a wheelchair? Magic? Has he got two jobs at the same time if he's running this camp for demi-Gods then? But I'll let that pass. Percy's mother is going out with a complete arrogant slob, which you find out later is because he smells so bad, it covers up the smell of Percy's blood. Umm ... anyone heard of air freshener? I'm sure it would be just as pungent. He can't smell that bad unless covering himself in shit surely? But I'll buy it for the moment.

Once he arrives at the camp, he's lost his mum. Don't worry, it's fairly early on and clear that he hasn't really lost her. But to be honest, he doesn't seem that bothered that she's 'dead'. Instead he's having fun fighting where he's just amazing at everything. Quite lucky then because he's about to go to meet Hades, but to get there you need 3 pearls and visualise where you go so you can get back. Got it? Well fortunately for our 3 heroes, there are 3 pearls and all in the States! Lucky! You'd think maybe Greece? No. After 3 stupid encounters (why not take 2 and get the 2 strong ones to go if time is sparse?) they go and you find out who the Lightning Thief is etc. and then they must go to Olympus. Which is atop the Empire State Building by the way. There's a big battle. The end.

Pretty classic shit story stuff I'm sure you'd agree. But even for a children's fantasy film, it's complete nonsense and you can tell they have tried to make it slightly darker and edgy. Instead it feels bloated, boring with some okayish CG and a complete waste of time. I'm sure it would make great post-Sunday roast viewing when you just want to sit there, but for something with so much money thrown at it, with a popular book behind it, with the whole Greek mythology to keep it interesting and the Harry Potter trend still going strong, you'd think they could do better - and really, they should.

Rating: 4/10

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Leaves Of Grass

A strange film by actor/writer/director Tim Blake Nelson, usually known for playing idiotic rednecks (even playing one again in this), he gets buddy Edward Norton to join him in a tale where the grass is always greener on the other side.

Edward Norton plays a set of twins in this weird drama about a man getting back to his roots. One brother is a top professor in the city while the other has stayed in his hometown of Oklahoma to grow drugs. Both of them are born from an intelligent, but now deceased, father who, like their mother, was a huge pot smoker. The hillbilly brother gets the other one down for an alibi as a drug meeting goes wrong. Whoops. They're both now embroiled in this tale where city boy tries to make amends with his family and, more importantly, himself.

If my little summary there made you think about going to see this. Don't. I couldn't stand it. It's awkward to the point where it almost seems like a parody. The CG of two Norton's in the same room is 90's technology at best sometimes, the whole story is complete nonsense (including a psychotic Jew struggling in debt as a side note) and the idea that he 'finds himself' is literally unfounded. Instead, you just feel like you're watching a stupid sequence of events, if this was anything but Norton (who seems to be doing a lot of shit recently) I just wouldn't have bothered at all. The love interest? Hardly touched upon. His relationship with his mother (Susan Sarandon) stalls before it begins and he doesn't seem to have learnt anything by the end, instead he's just a bit pissed off with it all.

This feels like someone liked the idea of twins, one being smart, the other being a criminal and getting some drama out of it. Even the good turn of Richard Dreyfuss and an appearance by Danny DeVito's daughter Lucy DeVito can't save it. It is bloody awful and Edward Norton, who after American History X and Fight Club was poised to be the next big thing, has instead showed that maybe, just maybe, he's not actually that good, or he just has a shit agent. I mean, come on, Norton as The Hulk was terrible - and he must have been the worst superhero on screen surely. Thoughts?

Overall, not enough drama to be a drama, not enough anything to be anything. At least with some shit action flick, you get some action. The film is as patronising as the Walt Whitman title it decided to have and the textbook pop-philosophy behind it. Leave alone.

Rating: 3/10


Gaming News


Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo has released details on the 3DS set to be released before March 2011 in Japan - so a bit of a long wait I'm afraid. However, the amazing thing is that it will incorporate 3D technology without the need of 3D glasses! It will be fully backwards compatible so no need to throw those old games out either, especially when you can play them in 3D!

Playstation Move

If you haven't heard already, Sony will be launching a movement controlled remote (yes just like Wii or Xbox's new Project Natal) called Playstation Move. Apparently it is unbelievably accurate, uses the 3D space around you rather than just the controls and will blow the others out of the water. But after looking at the launch clip the games look, well, rather shoddy. It's supposed to have worked with Heavy Rain, (which would have probably been perfect) but still, a good peripheral to have, though no doubt will be expensive! I think it's something to wait for ... I doubt anything on release date will be any good. The fact that it also needs the PSEye to work will mean two things - you'll have to buy another peripheral and, unlike Wii's sensor, chances are there will be an ever-so-slight, yet crucial, lag time, though Sony deny it.
Apparently XBox's Project Natal is suffering from a lot of bugs and at the moment it's more of a rush to launch time, fix it later kind of response than a 'let's push the date back to iron out the creases' affair, especially now PS Move is coming. Xbox has become the best selling console again, not far ahead of PS3 but it looks like everyone who wanted a Wii has bought one already as sales dwindle and, what with these new motion releases, could mean Nintendo better hurry with that Wii 2.

Crackdown 2

Microsoft announced Crackdown 2 will be released July 9th for us Europeans, there will probably be more buzz after E3 in June.

Warner Bros / DC Comic Crossover

Warner Bros have opened a new game studio today since the success of the amazing Batman: Arkham Asylum but no titles announced as of yet but will be solely concentrating on DC characters.


Jack The Ripper Game Announced

Visceral Games (fast becoming my favourite production company with Dead Space and Dante's Inferno) are working with EA on a game based on 19th century serial killer Jack The Ripper simply entitled 'The Ripper'. Apparently it will be a download-only title available on both Xbox and PS3. For the moment, I'm looking forward to Dead Space 2 set to be released early 2011.

Mass Effect 2 Content

Bioware will release the Stolen Memory downloadable pack in April for what looks like 560 Microsoft points. Apparently you can access it at any point in the game and it will take about an hour and a half to complete. The Firewalker pack should keep people happy until then though.

Killzone 3

There will be a Killzone 3, but Sony looks set to unleash a huge torrent of stuff, including this, at this year's E3.

USB 360

Microsoft are working on an update that will allow you to store memory on a simple USB stick, much like the PS3. Catch up Xbox.

New Call of Duty

As most gamers realise, the Call of Duty franchise has splintered off under different production companies. The famous Modern Warfare ones are by Infinity Ward (though Infinity Ward will no longer be doing either, so yet to wait and see) and Treyarch (World At War guys). Though Modern Warfare prides itself on using all the jargon, equipment and so on, Treyarch like to think their games are more, well, personal. So their latest installment is set to take place in the Vietnam war, where, unlike MW, your soldiers aren't necessarily highly-trained machines, but human beings. They might not live up to Infinity Ward's hype, but they give it a good go.
In other CoD news, the Modern Warfare 'Stimulus Package' will be released on March 30th it looks like on Xbox LIVE and a bit later on the PS3, it will be around 1200 Microsoft points and have 5 maps, 2 of which annoyingly are already on the original Modern Warfare (Crash and Overgrown).

Final Fantasy XIII

...was the fastest selling game in the franchise after selling over one million units in Northern America in the first 5 days alone. The grand total for the series so far since Final Fantasy was released in Japan in 1987 is a whopping 96 million.
Also even though FFXII (13) was just released FFXIV (14) has already been discussed as being another MMO (like World of Warcraft) - Square did this with Final Fantasy XI, but it didn't really work as well as they thought. Better luck this time?


Monday, 22 March 2010

Survival Of The Dead

George A. Romero's new zombie flick goes back to it's roots. But is it still alive and kicking or dead on it's feet? The Wild Bore finds out.

I don't even think this got a cinema release and instead went straight to DVD. I remember the time when the Romero trilogy was something that could never be surpassed by a zombie film. He rewrote the playbook and was truly the King of the Undead. However, once horror started coming back to the fray, and Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake did well at the box office, Hollywood decided to bring Romero back from the grave to continue his zombie franchise and he brought to us Land of the Dead. Problem was, it bombed. With a fair amount of money behind it, some top actors including Dennis Hopper and a decent PR campaign, this looked like it might do well. Unfortunately, not many people liked the idea of zombies forming an army and invading a human city - it just seemed a bit ... stupid. I thought it was OK, had some good bits and followed the path that Romero set up in Day of the Dead where zombies were starting to evolve. But instead Romero's comeback became rather timid. However, he followed this up with Cloverfield cam-in-hand style Diary of the Dead which was probably the most awful zombie film I've ever seen. So anything after that had to be better than his previous attempt, and so comes Survival of the Dead ...

The story picks up from the army guys who invaded the truck in Diary of the Dead. They decide to go their own way and go to an island off the coast where two warring families once stood. One side wanted to kill all zombies, the other side wanted to keep them around in case a cure is found - they couldn't bare the thought of killing their loved ones and so drove the zombie killing ones away - which is how the army guys find the island. Right, so that's the story but is it any good?

Oddly enough, you can see Romero has tried a bit with this one. The shots, characters and inevitable zombie onslaught are similar to his first trilogy but there are a lot of problems. Firstly, you're not sure who you are supposed to sympathise with, which might be good if done right, but here it just feels like the script asks too much of the audience to keep switching sides. Secondly, there's not that much of a zombie presence, the final frenzy is rather short and unsatisfying. There is also a dire case of bad CG at work, and compared to today's standards, it looks totally whack shack Iraq. Also, why do all these guys on the island speak Irish? It makes it feel rather inbred. Which it probably is seeing as there's apparently only two major families on the whole place!

The army protagonist also just acts a bit too macho, to the point where it's a bit weird and cardboard. The lesbian soldier also first comes on-screen by, well, cumming. Why she is masturbating in front of everyone when they're supposed to be looking for zombies I'll never know. You're also not sure why it's called Survival of the Dead. Is it because they're being kept alive? Or because they're being trained to eat something that's not human so they can survive? The title promised so much more. It's also a story about pride and family - but not really. It's a meek attempt to add some backbone to a lifeless piece. The boy who wants to be a man is just an annoying storyline to keep the young un's in with someone they can relate to, they've got the token minorities in there and an old wise man but it just doesn't cut it. Even the gore looks a bit strange and way too 70's - not in a good way either with bright red paint, I mean blood, and a classic post-Nam 'isn't war so silly' kind of vibe.

Overall, this film is a pretty poor attempt to get back on track. Romero has lost whatever it was that he had and even though this is a LOT better than Diary of the Dead, then unless you are fans of his previous work, you won't want to watch it, and to be honest you shouldn't. There was enough to keep me entertained, but it's definitely for fanboys only.

Rating: 4/10

The Fourth Kind

Probably the most self-aware film in Hollywood, this strange story about a city plagued by UFO abductions includes 'real' footage and is a true story. The message is - believe what you want to believe. Well believe me, it's shit.

As the film opens, Milla Jovovich walks up to the camera to introduce herself as ... Milla Jovovich. She explains that she will be playing Dr. Abbey Tyler and that the following film will mix real footage with reconstructions. The problem is, none of it is true. After doing some research myself while I was watching the film, the whole thing is a pile of bollocks. Anyone with a brain can see things like the fake dates put on the camcorder screen, the excessive acting taking place in the 'real' footage and the fact that it has never popped up before on YouTube for someone who seems to record everything, would be mind blowing.

But let's step away from the false 'Blair Witch' marketing, what's it about? Tyler is a psychiatrist who is helping patients who can't sleep, but there's a lot of people going missing or just going plain crazy - and it's from aliens abducting people. She delves deeper until it starts to get a bit too close to home ... literally. The acting throughout this movie is awful, and the blended 'real' footage looks so completely fake anyway that it's cringeworthy. It's also so, so, SO boring - I wanted to turn it off several times but stuck with it for one thing only. The weird possession scenes actually looked quite disturbing, and those were the only bits I enjoyed. Baring in mind there's about two of them, you can see how it's a tough film to get through. The laughable interview the director has with the 'real' Tyler is awful and there's a threadbare storyline about her refusing to accept the death of her husband and if she is truly mad. The film even goes as far to say at the end what happened to the characters.

This was released at the same time as Paranormal Activity and is proof that no matter how much hype or money you throw at something, shit is still shit. Avoid like the plague.

Rating: 1/10

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Trailer Trash

Taking a look at trailers for films to come, The Wild Bore picks out what looks good and what looks shit in this quickfire round.

Vincere



Based on the story of Mussoluini's wife and charting his rise to power, this film did well at Cannes last year and looks set to be a classic Oscar film - should it have not been Italian. Worth checking out.

Rating: 4/5


Tekken



Oh dear. I was a tiny bit excited about this, but it's yet again proof not to make a film out of the pure basics of a video game. At least Tekken the game had a bit of a good story to it, three generations of men all fighting for power. However, this looks like the classic boy from the slums wins the big tournament. The only reason to watch is to see actors dressed as your favourite characters. That's it. It looks shit.

Rating: 1/5


Repo Men



I hate Jude Law but it looks like I might be able to withstand him in this role as an agent which collects organs in a great futuristic setting. But what happens when his own company asks for their 'product' from out of his body? It's interesting to see if Law can pull off the whole action hero thing that he has tended to stay away from. Overall though, this could be a semi-decent action piece.

Rating: 3/5

The Switch



This rom-com looks like it could be funny....ish. Main good points are that it has Jason Bateman and Jeff Goldblum in (who SERIOUSLY needs to be in more stuff) but unfortunately it has Jennifer Aniston in it (groan). All about a guy who switches his sperm with a donor which will impregnate his bezzie mate. The kid comes out just like him! Oh noooo! It's gonna be shit, but it might be bearable enough to go on a date on. It's by the Little Miss Sunshine people as well, so there must be something in it.

Rating: 2/5

The Greatest



Handkerchiefs at the ready. This weepie looks set to get those spring hearts even warmer as we see young love destroyed and a memory kept alive by a young baby. Pierce Brosnan looks like he gets a decent dramatic role, something he hasn't done for a while British sensation Carey Mulligan proves she's not just a one-trick pony. Doesn't look too soppy, but fairly watchable.

Rating: 3/5

The Mechanic



Basically, another Transporter film right? Well it's classic Statham action as he takes on the role of a hitman but has been training up Ben Foster (whom I love). More explosions, people shooting stuff and a lot of running about. Brain dead stuff and doesn't really stand out.

Rating: 2/5

Eat, Pray, Love



Does anyone remember when Julia Roberts ruled the world? I do. Just. Well here she is again playing a woman who decides to let everything go and travel round the world and open up her mind. That's it. Based on some memoirs that did pretty well or something, I doubt it'll rock your world, but it'll probably make you want to go travelling.

Rating: 2/5


Megamind



This is just a teaser but looks interesting. Animated film by Dreamworks where Brad Pitt is doing a voice, has he done this before? I'm not sure. Will Ferrell, Tina Fey and Jonah Hill are also involved so it might actually be quite decent.

Rating: 3/5

Predators



AMAZING! Can't wait. Robert Rodriguez takes the Predator franchise and makes it his own. With a great cast including (strangely) Adrien Brody, Rodriguez regular Danny Trejo, Morpheus himself Laurence Fishburne, and SHANE from THE SHIELD! Wooo! aka Walton Goggins. This deals with a group of highly trained killers taken to an island where they are being hunted by a whole bunch of Predators. Can't wait for this - fanboy magic! Better be good.

Rating: 5/5

Clash Of The Titans



If you haven't seen this already, where have you been? This looks like it will be one of the most incredible films to be released this year. The fact that it is in 3D and iMax means that it might even beat Avatar on the exhileration scale. If you haven't already seen it, then make sure you give this a click

Rating: 5/5

Tron Legacy



My God. This might be the film of the year for me. This trailer is definitely one of the best trailers I've seen (I saw it in 3D and on iMax - incredible). It looks like it has taken all the great things from the first Tron and made it even better. The first Tron was one of my favourite films as a kid and I must have seen it a million times. I cannot wait for this and neither should you. Crazy Heart? Crazy Fart! Let's see Jeff Bridges in his REAL best role ever. Check out the trailer and tell me what you think.

Rating: 5/5

Knight & Day



The Diaz/Cruise team-up sees Tom returning to his action best. This trailer actually looks quite good if it wasn't for Diaz acting like, basically, a silly little girl. Definitely worth checking out. Light hearted action means something you can take the Mrs too without feeling too guilty.

Rating: 3/5

Inception



This will be one of the most talked about films this year. The teaming up of the incredible Christopher Nolan and DiCaprio looks set to rock people's socks off. Take a look at this incredible trailer and see what I mean. You'll be creaming yourself soon.

Rating: 5/5

Cyrus



I'm still not sure if John C Reilly can do comedy. I think it's a passion of his but I'm not quite sure if he can really pull it off. However, this nice little film (which is NOT an indie despite what people are calling it) seems quite funny as Jonas Hill and Reilly go head to head as he dates Hill's mum. Worth a look!

Rating: 3/5

Despicable Me



This has been banging about for a while and I don't know why it keeps getting pushed back, but this latest animation features the voice of Steve Carrell, Russell Brand, Danny McBride and Jemaine Clement to name but a few, so should be good - although the trailer looks poo.

Rating: 3/5

Legend of the Guardians



300 & Watchmen director Zack Snyder takes on a completely CG project as he does his first kids film. About owls. This is based on a popular children's books and is basically about some warrior owls. Not for me I'm afraid ...

Rating: 2/5

Four Lions



I remember meeting Chris Morris years ago and was travelling in a car with him. I asked him what his plans were for the future and he told me he was working on a comedy about terrorists, but that was all he could say. I didn't see anything come up about it until now and this looks absolutely incredible. Watch this clip, it'll make you laugh big time. Promise. Who knew terrorism could be so bloody funny?!

Rating: 5/5

Best Worst Movie




If, like me, you used to stay up as a kid watching Bravo to see all the shit 70s/80s horror flicks that would never see the light of day now. Then you have to watch this. It's tearing up the festival circuit as a documentary about cult favourite Troll 2. Unlike a lot of bad films, this shows how such an awful film can make such an impact on society and delves into the idea of cult films. Check this trailer out, you'll love it.

Rating: 5/5

Hot Tub Time Machine



A bit of comedy where a group of guys travel back to the 80s. Definitely one big nostalgia trip which has John Cusack (not known for his comedy), Daryl from The Office and some other guys in it. Oh and Chevy Chase. It looks quite funny so have a look and see what you think.

Rating: 3/5

Defendor

Imagine Forrest Gump as a superhero but played by Woody Harrelson and what you get is Defendor. But is this alternative superhero movie a bit too alternative?

This is one hell of a strange film. Seeing as I had not seen a trailer or anything for this, I didn't know what to expect - and afterwards I still don't really know what it was. What begins as a comedy ends up being almost some strange kind of drama and left me feeling a bit ... funny.

When we first run into Defendor, he's throwing marbles, awkwardly jumping around and releasing wasps in jars. All of which is quite funny until you start seeing who the man is beneath the mask. He's clearly very thick and his memories are full of sadness, his addict mother leaving him with his bullying grandfather and now with no place to live but at his day job on a construction site. The boss of which is his only real friend, that is until teenage prostitute Angel turns up to squeeze some money out of him.

The story is basically how Defendor, in his quest to find nemesis Captain Industry, gets caught up with some local gangsters who want him dead. Angel takes advantage of him by suggesting she knows where Captain Industry is, all the while he's getting in the way of a crooked undercover cop as well as trying to save the city. Defendor uses his superhero disguise to cover up more than his identity, in fact it's to cover up the truth that he's a bumbling idiot who no-one respects. His boss is a kind-hearted soul who tries to look after him and soon Angel even falls for his soft, kind ways. But is it enough to keep the viewer satisfied long enough to stay through the film?

Well, this is where it all gets a bit confusing. It started off as a comedy and then as you start to realise what a horribly lonely, sad life he leads, you start to feel for him as everyone takes the piss and beats him up. He does nothing but try to be good and his belief that he is more than just Arthur is heartbreaking. By the end, I was getting a bit choked up by it all. Woody plays the character perfectly, but the story is just plain awful and quite poorly directed. Kat Dennings always pisses me off as the hard-done-by rock teen that she is stereotyped for, but the real star is underrated Michael Kelly, who always amazes me when he's on the screen (probably best known for Changeling / Sopranos / Generation Kill).

This weird juxtaposition of comedy with the drama is awkward to say the least. I'd rather it have gone for silly Mystery Men style superhero comedy or kept with the dramatic tale of a less than intelligent man with nothing but a kind soul wanting to do good in the world. Even if through being a superhero. But to take the piss while at the same time trying to make you sympathise with him, leaves the audience in an uncomfortable position. Worth checking out if nothing else is on, but don't go out of your way at all.

Rating: 4/10

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Heavy Rain

A game that was set to revolutionise the Playstation 3 by suggesting the word 'gaming' has gone out the window to make way for what the producers call 'interactive drama' - but does it work?

This is a bold step forward for a game to take. It has based itself purely on the God Of War mode of playing by tapping buttons at the right time but taken it one step further. You, in essence, are using the controller like an extra limb that acts as a conduit into the virtual world. Moving the controller by swiping it to one side could perhaps act as a punch, tilt it slowly to take a drink, shake it to free yourself from a choke, use it as a steering wheel as you drive through the rain at 100MPH or just simply scramble some eggs. Does this method of gameplay work? In theory, yes. I enjoyed throwing the controller about, pushing buttons at the right time, trying to keep hold of some in sequence to keep the action going, but it's biggest drawing point is also it's biggest flaw...

As much as I enjoyed the more menial tasks of opening a fridge and making sure my kid goes to bed in time, it sometimes got a bit annoying and I was getting so used to pushing the buttons a certain way that it started to lose it's edge. It just got a bit too easy. There were also times, where pivotal scenes would come up with certain different options of using your control for different results, and I was slightly confused as to what they meant - one of which caused an accidental death. In the game of course. But these were minor flaws to an innovative way of drawing you into the action - and it was the action that kept me staying there.

It's about 8 or 9 hours of gameplay in total, but I would be hooked for long periods at a time which always makes it feel shorter. It's also divided up nicely in short chapters that keeps the narrative going forward and it's the narrative that is really where this game stands up. It feels like a great crime thriller novel put onto a screen in a way that the film industry could not do. The story of the Origami Killer is a great one, full of twists and turns, and chock-a-block with action. You take control of mainly one of four characters - an old film noir style private eye, an FBI drug addict, a sexy young reporter and a father who has lost his way. Straight from the off, you are already emotionally involved with these characters, they all have problems and the setting of a dark, constantly raining environment reflects the tone of the whole piece. It is about the darker side of human psychology and how we have to deal with the problems of the past to face the future. Deeeeeeeeep. However, there are still things that don't add up. Why was the father (Ethan) waking up in the rain after a blackout? I can only reason/hope that I need to play it again to find out ...

The general story is the Origami Killer preys on small children and drowns them in the rain. But there's something darker afoot as the father's all seem to either disappear or keep silent ... Moving from action to emotion to thrills, chills and spills the game flows naturally into a deep, multi-layered tale that keeps every aspect of the audience happy. It's dark subject matter also brings up the question of what you would do in such a situation - you can easily walk away from certain scenarios, but it will affect the outcome of the game and it's this aspect that will keep me coming back to Heavy Rain now that I have finished it. However, there is one major flaw with this impressive set-up - and that is that you don't seem to die. Seeing as the perspective shifts, you sometimes find it difficult to invest too much into one character. The only person you relate to the most is the father, mainly because he gets most of the fun stuff. But the problem is that, if you know whatever happens you won't 'lose' as such, it takes out the jeopardy of playing the game. It got to the point where I was thinking, I could potentially do anything and the story will go on regardless, which means that the sheer terror your characters go through doesn't come across as much as it should. Which is a shame, because at some points I felt like I was in Silent Hill - alone, a bit scared and not sure what would come at me at any second. The movement and camera angles work, but can be frustrating at times, you find yourself walking like a retard (no offence) following the direction of your head, which is just weird. You can also forget that you can change the camera angles, which means sometimes you're standing around wondering what to do next, until you see an icon in the corner of your eye that you need to change angle to see. Apart from that, the cinematic quality of the game is amazing - the 24-esque multi-window control pieces reminds me of Metal Gear Solid 4 and the general feel of the game is very smooth regardless of it's few flaws. The directing is incredible with great camerwork and some incredible set pieces that really do make the game.

You can tell an absolutely huge amount of work has gone into this from the great (British) casting to the graphics through to the writing. Everything works wonders and for it's sheer originality, it has set a benchmark for others to stand up to. Gaming might sound childish, but interactive drama is definitely for the grown-ups. The future of gaming starts here - get on board!

Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Alice In Wonderland

The much anticipated Tim Burton twist on an old tale already made famous by Disney comes at the public in gorgeous 3D. But is it more style over substance? Short answer. Yes.

Like a lot of people, I was looking forward to this until I saw the trailer which looked rather, crap. It seemed to make the audience gasp in wonder at how it looks rather than showing an actual film, but I still held on to hope. Who can say what the story was about when they saw the trailer? But talking about trailers, I saw this at the Waterloo iMax in 3D and the trailer for Tron 2 beforehand was absolutely AMAZING. I would probably pay the entry fee again just to see those 2 minutes of genius. It looks incredible in 3D, even more so in iMax and, even though the black and white skin under neon lights is gone, it still looks dark and moody. I can't wait!

Anyway, what of Alice? well, what makes this strange is that this is some sort of weird sequel to the first one. Which means that it's a coming-of-age story taking place after a coming-of-age story. But this isn't Through The Looking Glass either, so it's not even really a sequel ... how mind boggling!

So what of Alice? Well the story is about a girl changing into a woman. Her body changes, literally growing and shrinking (a physical metaphor for her struggle between childhood and adulthood), she has no help from home and has to fend for herself in a chaotic, dangerous world. There's an obsession with time and scheduling ("You're late!"), with rules ("Eat Me"), with responsibility (slaying the dragon) and to not lose your head. Literally. So what of Burton's world? Well it certainly looks pretty but what I loved about the original Disney film, and the book when I read it yonks ago, was that it was quite dark. There was a macabre undertone throughout and a lot of black humour, but this time there's none. As great and cartoony Wonderland looks, it actually makes it a whole less threatening. Why did they do it? It's a safe line between the darkness Burton is known for and the happy colours that Disney is known for and makes it an amalgamation that felt a bit awkward.

So what actually happens? Well story wise, it's complete nonsense and full of plot holes. All you need to know is good queen, bad queen and that's it. It was absolutely frustrating to watch one scene stumble into another. The girl who played Alice does a decent job though, but her awkward fight scenes and that terrible dance at the end was cringeworthy. Depp keeps everything flowing nicely as the Mad Hatter albeit his Scottish accent that turns up when he's angry. It's a bit strange and the dance at the end again? Awful. What were they thinking?! Depp is clearly enjoying the character but since when has the Mad Hatter been so key to events? What I loved about him beforehand is he would turn up and piss about, he had no idea what was going on, even when he turned up in court later on in the original - but in this he's almost some kind of Morpheus figure. It just doesn't work and his role as a missing father figure for Alice is a bit weird as it comes from the fact her Dad did the crazy thing of ... trading with Thailand! The maniac! The voice acting is alright but the real shining stars are Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway. Why? Well let me tell you. Please. Let me.

Bonham-Carter as the Queen of Hearts is great. She's the petulant child with a big head (literally) that Alice is trying to get away from and once she sees what that's like face-to-face, she doesn't like it. Hathaway was the only funny thing in the whole movie, her (fake) gracefulness, maternal protection and heavenly presence is the woman Alice wants to be. Kind, sweet and elegant. Alice's real journey here is not only becoming a woman, but 'finding herself' as the blue caterpillar might put it. She is not sure she's the 'right Alice' to begin with and even goes under the guise of a childish name of Um until, somehow, getting the guts up to find her identity in the world.

But why come back to Wonderland now? Well, the real adult world and all it's fakery (mirrored in Wonderland by the plastic falseness of the Queen of Heart's crowd) is shown in a big engagement party for Alice that she's not even aware of. It is the true turning point of having to stand up for herself if she's to make her mark. You go girl! Every character is similar to someone in Wonderland, you can figure it out quite easily. It's not hard.

In 3D this was great, it worked well and didn't make me feel too sick for most of the time but it just wasn't enough to meet even 3D Avatar - which was better as a film in more than one respect. Alice In Wonderland was funny in places, didn't really make any sense, wasn't dark or as dangerous as it should have been and could have been a whole lot better. This might sound like a poor example, but when Dorothy goes back to Oz in Return To Oz and people tell her it's got really bad in Oz, it definitely has got really bad and that was a whole heap darker, and better than this. When Depp says it's got bad, nothing has actually changed storywise from what could have taken place first time round surely? Have they just got a bit fed up of their Queen? The end of the film almost made me want to hide I felt so embarrassed. Very distressing, cheesy and I had to almost look away before my confidence in Burton finally disappeared for good. Watch it for the 3D, but if you just want to see it as a film and you haven't got any kids or anything, don't bother. If you've watched it once, you won't want to watch it again. The fact it's 3D gives it an extra mark. Otherwise it's a 4 for effort (visually).

Rating: 5/10

Monday, 15 March 2010

The Shield Season 5

As one star fades another rises. So enters Forest Whitaker as the Internal Affairs lieutenant after the Strike Team. But he has no idea what he's about to get into.

This whole series is basically Vic against Forest's character Jon Kavanaugh and it's a complete act-off that Michael Chiklis (Vic) relishes in. The idea is that they are still getting looked into from the death of someone who died in the very first pilot episode. Vic is usually ten steps ahead of everyone else and Jon isn't used to it. In fact, he just plain hates it. Soon personal lives start to creep into the mix and it all gets a bit crazy. Vic will do anything not to get caught, but more than that, he'll sacrifice whatever it takes so that his family, both blood and work, will not suffer - and I mean anything ...

With people watching their every step, more gang murders and serial killers, The Shield is just as gritty as ever. Except for one thing, this whole internal affairs thing? It takes up pretty much the ENTIRE series where, by the end, you just want it to be finished. It's a shame as Forest's character (who does physically seem to lose a lot of weight during the process) is a man obsessed, someone who likes being in control and when Vic is around, that's hard to do. He doesn't like getting played and he gets played - a lot. This series isn't as much about the Strike Team as it is about the downfall of Kavanaugh. It's almost Shakespearean sometimes (in a way) but sometimes Forest's acting is just too much for me. I feel like I'm definitely watching an Oscar winning actor rather than a TV character. Which is fine, but sometimes you don't have to turn it up to 11.

With a mesmerising final episode (the end of which is given away in the Disc 3 Special Features instead of final disc - idiots), it is a series which truly tests morality. You want them to get through but in essence, the Strike Team is guilty and Kavanaugh is doing the right thing. In this way, the viewer is almost entwined with the moral guilt running through the entire series. But I do have a problem with it all, Aceveda is trying to keep both sides happy but is more an irritant than anything. He pops up to cause nuisance and goes away again. Claudette is having a physically rough time and the new cop under Julian seems to be a mere distraction to split up the scenes. There's more little storylines like this, but really I wasn't too bothered - and that's the problem. This series is so focused on the Strike Team worming their way out of the situation, that it loses the facets that keep people coming back. It feels like a bloated chapter in a long book and even with the force of Whitaker, some amazing scenes and quite an engrossing storyline, it almost becomes too preoccupied with itself. I can't rate it as high as the other ones, but is still a decent watch. Also with Antwon returning to the fray, it gets put down another mark.

Rating: 6/10

Bioshock 2

The sequel to the BAFTA award winning game, it is already being touted to win again at this years awards ceremony. But does it live up to all those top reviews? The Wild Bore delves deeper into Rapture to find out ...

I loved Bioshock when it first hit our screens. I remember playing the demo before it came out sitting round my mate Ben's place, the burning plane, the abandoned lighthouse. It struck me as one of the most original FPS (first person shooters for all you others out there) made. I always think the key thing about any film, game, even song etc. is that it is made up of little works of genius that other pieces would base the entire concept over. For instance, in Bioshock, the Little Sister element of 'saving' or 'harvesting' these little fucked up girls could have made the entire game. But instead you have these amazing powers that you pick up along the way, which could have been a game in itself etc.

I did have some faults with the first game though that I was hoping the second would answer to. Mainly, by the end of Bioshock I was so powerful that nothing could hurt me, including the final boss whom I expected to absolutely batter me, but instead it took me almost no time at all. Secondly, I kind of understood the story, but did get lost often with what was going on. All I knew is I had to kill the bad guys. So has the second one made up for this? Not really ...

What I loved about Bioshock 2 is what I loved about the first one. The art deco setting, the fact it's all underwater, the amazing AI, the dark atmosphere, the horror element - but that's just it, I've seen it all before. So what's different? Okay, the AI has been boosted more, the enemies take cover etc. and all that, but there's also the fact that there's new enemies. In terms of the narrative, why didn't I see these new guys in the first game? I might have missed something where they explained it but I don't think so. Where would they have suddenly sprung from? You're also a Big Daddy and, to be honest, it hardly makes a difference. Yeah yeah, I know that you kind of lumber about a bit, that you have your drill, but I hardly EVER used my drill. I might as well just have been the guy from the first one but with new weapons. There was nothing that made me feel like a Big Daddy except for carrying the Little Sisters (yes I saved each and every one and got Adam from all the bodies for those in the know). Though sometimes I thought they did this on purpose - often the light shines from behind you and you see your shadow and you stare at it. Is that really me? This huge mechanical monster? Which, in a way you won't have in any other medium, would also be what your character is thinking. Clever, clever, clever.

The Little Sister element is a great little side project, but sometimes I just found it annoying. She will lead you to a body to extract Adam (the good stuff you want) and you protect her while there is an onslaught of enemies. Every. Single. Time. It gets quite tiring as for each Sister there's two bodies, which means that on average, as there are 3 Little Sisters in each level, you're potentially doing it 6 times each time. I just thought this was a bit much and made me just want to kill them, but I'm too sweet.

The other problem was again the story, I kind of knew what was going on, but if you told me to run you through it, I couldn't. I don't know how but I just feel they should make it clearer with what's happening. They summarise things usually through some kind of audio log which means instead of explanations, you get anecdotal summaries, which you don't always want to listen to. I enjoyed what I understood, but generally all I knew is I had to get from A to B for some reason.

The end was also quite satisfying story-wise and gameplay wise, but really the final 'onslaught' was nothing anyone couldn't handle and by that time, I was again ridiculously powerful. I had passed about 20 First Aid Kits on the final level because I just didn't need them. There's no real jeopardy. It's funny because I was talking to 'muh lady' the other day and she was saying how she didn't like the idea in games of re-doing things until you get them right and I explained that a lot of the time, you enjoy it, not if it's near-impossible, but the fact that you have to work twice as hard to do it and the satisfied feeling you get afterwards makes it even better because you know you deserved it. This is why people often see retro games in rose-tinted glasses, you really did have to earn it in those days because it was pure gameplay instead of the overall evolution of the industry today where everything counts. I wonder what you guys think ...

Anyway, other improvements is the hacking element. Instead of the 'pipe' hacking, you just have to time a needle against a colour. Easy enough and far quicker than before. An auto-hack tool and gun to do it make it a lot more fun than before. The graphics also look great and the gameplay is very smooth. You can shoot and fire your plasmid abilities at the same time, which I'm not sure you could do in the first one. There's also the online capability which, as I'm not hooked up to XBox Live yet (I will be) means I'm not able to do, but I've heard mediocre things about. True?

So what really makes this stand out from the crowd? Well, the story is good if not somewhat discombobulated, the gameplay is once again flawless, the graphics are incredible and the general tone of the game is as dark yet delightful as always. It's major fail? I've seen it all before in the first one. This return to Rapture under the guise of a Big Daddy does work, but I wish they'd branched out a little more. Why not an alternative Rapture? Perhaps a huge sea vessel like an underwater Dead Space? I don't know. If you haven't played the first one, I'd give this a 10, but as it stands it only gets a ...

Rating: 8/10

Friday, 12 March 2010

Shutter Island

The latest offering from Scorsese and DiCaprio looks set to be their best yet. Based on the book by Dennis Lehane, this psychological thriller keeps you on your toes throughout and features some of Scorsese's best work yet. But does it come together or is it as lost as well... Lost?

I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of the Scorsese/DiCaprio partnership. I LOVED Gangs Of New York, but didn't like The Aviator and thought The Departed was everyone wanking on each other's faces. I also have a problem with DiCaprio's acting, this whole broody, tough guy thing doesn't really sit well with me and looks pretty similar in all the films. Just stick him in a different costume. But every now and then he comes out with a corker - and this is one of them. Though in theory, it is still the same as everything I've just said, it just works well here.

The whole point of the narrative is that there are many twists and turns and you're not sure where it is you're going, much like DiCaprio's character, but the general story is that Shutter Island is basically one big asylum. One of the girls in it has gone mysteriously missing but as DiCaprio delves deeper, he doesn't like what he sees...

It's tough to do a review on this film when anything you potentially say could give the game away. I thought I had predicted the outcome about 20 minutes in, but then got stumped again, and came back to it and so on and so forth. For this guessing game alone, it worked wonders on my mind. In fact, even after I left, I felt like I needed to sit down for an hour to really figure it out. Not in a bad way, but in a like 'ahhhh, I seeeeeeee' way. DiCaprio's troubled Teddy is incredible. His flashbacks and dreams are Lynch-esque in quality and full of clues and metaphors. Fire, water and other elements being the main culprit. You could sit and study this film endlessly and this is what makes it close to a classic.

The directing is fantastic and even though Scorsese isn't known for 'horror' (and this film isn't really horror - and yes you could say Cape Fear was horror, or even Taxi Driver etc. etc.), he does amazingly well using horror tricks. With the island being a monster itself and the fast sweeping camerashots, amazing scenery and cinematography you cannot fault - I'd say it works in every positive aspect on Scorsese's entire career into one movie. Everything about the entire place is threatening. But I would not say it's his best film ever.

The film this reminded me of the most, and for more than one reason, was Kubrick's 'The Shining'. Not only is Scorsese's directing very similar, fast shots of what's to come, the lighting, the framework and the general feel, but to me, it almost felt gothic and even noir. It comes as no surprise then that Scorsese made the cast watch Laura and Out Of The Past before shooting as you can feel that vibe pulsing through it. It also deals with the idea of paranoia, government cover-ups and even the Cold War. It also has slight shadows of the latest incidents of Guantanamo Bay - but this might be reading into it a bit too much.

What struck me the most was probably the incredible score by Robbie Robertson (I think it's him). It worked perfectly with every image on the screen - it added a dimension often dismissed in the grander scheme of things and is living proof that a score can help or hinder a film. In this case, it puts it on a whole other level similar to There Will Be Blood.

The acting is flawless and Ben Kingsley ambiguous doctor is perfectly crafted. The story itself blows my mind, the fact that the opening shot of the boat coming through a white fog makes it clear - there's nothing outside this island. You don't know anyone's background, you don't know what's happened or about to happen, it bursts onto the screen and from then on, it's completely relentless.

So why isn't it perfect? Firstly, the ending was great, but I wanted it to disturb me more. But maybe that's just me. It also felt, without giving it away, slightly easy and a little ridiculous. But it still worked. There was so much I loved about it that I maybe felt a bit like I didn't really want it to end. Maybe it could have worked as a TV series? I don't know. But it didn't feel open-ended enough to keep me guessing, neither rounded off enough for me to leave satisfied. It also takes the risk of alienating the audience and maybe making them irritated. But instead I'm in this limbo where I'm like 'I really enjoyed it, but what could have made it better?' and I can't really answer it.

Whatever the case may be, I will definitely watch it again - even just to see it once more now knowing how it ends. But it's a great piece of cinema that proves Scorsese is still one of the best American directors around and with people like Tarantino making, let's be honest, shit, it shows that some people are out there taking chances and showing how it's done, no matter what their age.

Rating: 8/10

Dakota Fanning?

She even goes lesbo with Kristen Stewart in new film "The Runaways". Did I miss a point where she went from a little girl to a woman? Or puberty as it's known.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The Shield Season 4

The fact that I'm running through the entire lot of The Shield is proof enough that this series has a lot to offer, but by this season the characters are well worn-in, so what can be done to mix it up a bit?

Well firstly, your best bet is to get some kudos by drafting in some established acting talent such as Glenn Close. Her new captain is astoundingly well formed and you can tell Close has a point to prove. She brings a lot of weight and depth to the entire series and proves that American TV is overtaking Hollywood in risks and overall quality. The Shield would only work on TV and though there are many good films dealing with the same subject, by getting to season 4 this set shows that characters need time to fully develop in front of your eyes, and it's quite a sight to see.

Vic almost takes a bit of a back seat in this series to let some others breathe a bit more. After his problems with promotion, there are signs that he's close to packing it all in - that he's ready to self-destruct, but when bigger problems come into play, then he gets his priorities straight. Close's Captain is fantastic and a great counterpart to Vic, she understands him but doesn't necessarily agree with him, which is probably the best way to deal with him. She also knows you have to break some eggs to make an omelet and usually those eggs are someones balls. Hey yo!

But this really doesn't live up to the last series. The main issue being is that the main bad guy is 'that funny black man' from the Scary Movie films but you might know him as Anthony Anderson. His character becomes anything but intimidating. How the hell does anyone take orders from this guy? He ruins it all and make the whole thing seem like we just needed a friendly black face rather than someone who would believably be a bad-ass cop killer. You're just waiting for him to crack a joke any second and it feels like he's trying to prove his acting chops. Which isn't right for The Shield. There must have been better talent out there. He's not exactly Stringer Bell.

Shane also comes into his own again. His character gets better and better and when watching the behind-the-scenes footage, you can see why. This guy takes his character seriously. Dutch also earns himself some respect from the department, even when taking the risky move of going out with Vic's ex. But the overall narrative is Close's character seizing assets belonging to criminals to auction them, and then hand the money back into the police and the community. But this causes more problems than you think. Aceveda is also going off the rails a bit and his power trip goes through the roof. So there's enough parallel storylines to keep the short-term viewer interested as well as revealing new secrets about characters we thought we knew well.

Overall, this doesn't shock as much as the last series but Glenn Close takes centre stage and chews up everything around her. However, Anderson's Antwon character just buggers it all up really. Not exactly a let down, but could have been better.

Rating: 7/10

Ninja Assassin

A martial arts film that tries to appeal to Western audiences like Ong-Bak did, this offering from director James McTeigue - known for being an AD on a lot of Wachowski movies - instead becomes a gore-fest you can simply live without.

The film centres on a young ninja called Raizo (played by the sensation that is Rain, named one of Time's Most Influential People In The World and one of the biggest global Eastern pop stars) who has come from a training camp where young children are taught ninja skills through what seems like a horrible amount of pain. It's kill or be killed and no-one can leave.

In a series of flashbacks, we see he falls for one of his female students and there is a bitter rivalry between him and his brother. Their father of which, leads this ninja clan. These ninja's have been around for ages and are the best in the business. But Raizo isn't all he seems...

The plot is really thread-bare thin, but it's just enough to keep it going. It does conjure up a few questions though. Why is it that Raizo's first kill of some really fat guy becomes a messy affair after so much training? Why does it suddenly go supernatural near the end? Who cares because really, it doesn't matter. If you've picked up this film, it's to watch some brains-not-included action. Which it delivers. Kind of...

Let's put it this way. It's no Ong-Bak, and not just because of the CG. The fighting scenes are good and Rain, who began his career in dancing, looks incredibly ripped, but there's a lack of real technique, instead there is a LOT of blood - and I mean a lot. But it's not the kind of blood you're used to, instead for those who watch Beat Takeshi's amazing Zaitoichi, it's more like that. Completely CG, almost too-fluid blood of a bright red colour. Like it's kids paint. But in some weird way it does work, and some of the many ways people die are fun and creative but for me, it played almost like a God Of War game - your circular knife on a chain thing just seems to kill everyone. Raizo also seems to be able to take on loads of these ninjas, but you don't know why he's that hardcore - he does well in his flashback training scenes but you wonder how tough these guys are if one of them can take out the lot.

Also the use of an English man, an American woman, a Japanese clan, Korean actors all speaking English in a Berlin setting makes this seem a bit too try-hard to appeal to everyone, and instead appeals to no-one. It feels a bit awkward at times but, as much as I might knock it, I didn't really get bored at any point - if this was a better director with some better actual fighting scenes then it could have been better, but as it was, it scrapes out of being completely awful.

Rating: 4/10