Sunday, 29 July 2012

NEWS: Larry David Movie In Works

Pretty....pretty ... pretty good.

At least I hope it will be.

Larry David will be releasing a feature with John Hamm and Michael Keaton in association with Fox Searchlight that will probably be an HBO feature rather than a full on cinema release.

Here's hoping it fairs better than Sour Grapes. Who has actually seen that movie? Can someone lend it to me?

TRAILER: Cloud Atlas

So firstly, the Wachowski brothers are back. Wait, brothers? Well Larry is now Lana and had a proper full on sex change. So ... Lana and Andy Wachowski. Oh and there's a third director - Run Lola Run's Tom Tykwer. This is based on David Mitchell's novel and is a bit like The Fountain, in that it's the same characters through past, present and future and the future looks pretty amazing. To announce the film, a 5 minute trailer has been released because it looks pretty epic and a bit mad. But I love that. Nothing quite like ambition and why not? Take a look below and I'd be interested in what people think

ARTICLE: Silent Hill: Revelations 3D & Why Games To Films Don't Always Work

Welcome to Silent Hill.... Again.

I am a big fan of Silent Hill and when I say, Silent Hill, I mean the games not the film - and when I say the games I mean the first, well ... three - and when I say the first three I mean, Silent Hill 2.

It must be said that Silent Hill 2 was one of the greatest games I've played - mainly because it understood that it wasn't a town, it was a state of mind. Silent Hill doesn't exist - it's where you go to be judged. Never before had the ending of a game hit me with such an emotional shock that it made me reconsider the hours and hours I'd invested beforehand with this character. It was amazing,  however, the rest of the games (Homecoming, Downpour etc. which I've played but never reviewed simply because they are so bad I don't want to relive the experience) have failed to reach the heady heights.

The first Silent Hill was great but more a bag of ideas than an amazing game, if you go back to play it again (you can download from PSN store) you'll see how awful the controls are, the voice acting and all that, but the right feeling was there. It could be said that the first Silent Hill film was similar. It had the right idea, it was a mixed bag of Silent Hill 1 and 2, it just failed because it wasn't scary, there was poor acting and it failed to compel. Visually it worked, but there was no real depth. Why they didn't take the story from Silent Hill 2 is beyond me - and it looks like Silent Hill Revelations is a film adaptation of Silent Hill 3 therefore completely skipping over the best game of the series. Very strange.

There's the running argument that games into films just don't work. The main reason is because you can't simply transfer the ideas to a big screen. Silent Hill works as a game because you invest a lot of time into the people, you are truly scared of dying so you don't have to restart from the last save point, you slowly reveal what happens, and to fit in this process into 90 minutes when it usually takes 9 hours or so is tough, especially when people are so concerned about taking the best bits when Silent Hill works best as a slow-burner, with the pay-off's being more story based than 'monster' based. It's not the monsters that scare you, it's the lead-up and anticipation, it's the humans and their motives.

Silent Hill, like all good horror, knows that these monsters, this world, is just an extension of the psyche of the protagonist but the film made it seems like it was a ghostly alternate dimension or something. It just didn't work.

So we come to Revelations where the main pull is that it's in 3D. Unfortunately, I'm going to the cinema to see it, same as every new Silent Hill game that comes out I have to buy and complete - full well knowing that it will be shit, but there's this hope, this glimmer, that maybe I might be able to revisit that Silent Hill I love and detest at the same time, but every time I'm disappointed.

This trailer speaks volumes in that there's again no depth, but looks great

Sunday, 22 July 2012

REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises

The last of the trilogy is upon us, people are dying to see it, literally, so is it worth it?

No matter what people say, for me The Dark Knight was an incredible film and one of my favourite movies of all time, so it is very hard to think of another Batman film that could trump it. Unfortunately, I don't think this is it.

Don't get me wrong, it's a great movie. The action is great, it's sheer scale and spectacle is incredible but it falls short on a lot of things. Lets begin with the plot, we begin eight years after the Joker and Wayne is a little worse for wear let's say. It's a time of peace and Harvey Dent is still seen as a hero with Batman as the villain, however we are told 'a storm is coming' and Bane brings with him a chaos that puts Gotham in a lot of jeopardy.

Before going any further, I think it's worth mentioning that if you look at the evolution from Batman Begins to the Dark Knight, the leap is rather more significant than you would have first thought. It's worth revisiting both these films if you haven't done so recently, watching Rises, I felt Nolan had tied himself down with having to conclude the story the same as Begins is preoccupied with having to be an 'origins' tale at heart. With Dark Knight, I felt Nolan was able to relax in having established Batman and could have some fun with him and in the Gotham world - something I did not feel in Rises. In fact, I didn't feel Gotham was a character at all.

Of course, the entire Batman saga is not just about the idea of self-sacrifice (the 'symbol'), but also a man conquering his inner demons. Rises deals with this, but not in the same subtle way as Dark Knight. Instead it takes the whole 'humanity is corrupt' nature and exploits it, almost going completely against what the Batman saga has built up so far. When the city is plunged in chaos, I don't get a feel for what is actually going on apart from a few sweeping shots. Where is everyone? What exactly is going on? Why doesn't anyone do anything? I felt cheated and the city in anarchy isn't represented very well at all. It just looks like a few people dithering about every now and then. Even the people trapped don't seem too hard up. In fact it just looks, empty, and I don't know what blowing a lot of stuff up really did as well, apart from ease access to and from the city. Apart from for Wayne of course.

The new flying vehicle the Bat also makes matters worse. The toys that he has played with before in the previous films made some kind of sense in that this could happen in our real world, however the Bat feels a little too sci-fi for me. Also, everything I disliked about Batman Begins comes back up - the League of Shadows, terrorism through the economy (hinted at by Liam Neeson in the Begins), the sense of 'training' (do I have to see him in the middle east again? Even if he seems to be ... oh ... right by a city?) and by introducing characters that I don't want to work at getting to know by a third film. Where Dark Knight had every scene being needed, moving the story forward, being full of action, not a line of dialogue wasted - there were times in Rises where I felt it could have been cut completely, or some parts expanded upon. It wasn't as tight as Dark Knight was in the slightest and not near as interesting or action packed. There's also a bit of humour which was scarce in Dark Knight but feels like the jokes that were on the cutting room floor of Begins - why are we putting jokes in? To alleviate the tension? I like the tension, it's what I enjoy.

So, let's move onto characters. Bale shines again as Batman, going from skinny hermit to the bulky mass he was before but he has lost his enthusiasm. There's not been any real reason for this except for what happened to Rachel, he's made no attempt to clear his name and to be honest, I thought there was very little actual Batman time, he doesn't turn up for a while for a start. However, his journey as a character does conclude nicely and I think with something that befits what Wayne was truly about.

Moving on from this is it gets worse. Even Alfred becomes nothing but a nuisance, and with a script that has some pretty poor dialogue, Alfred definitely gets the brunt of it. Catwoman is boring and tries to be femme fatale but completely falls flat. She talks of her stealing to get by when she couldn't look more posh and well groomed. Her story is just boring, Anne Hathaway not being sexy at all and neither giving much away in terms of depth. All we know is that she's supposed to have a bit of a heart, however when her and Batman are standing together I can't help but feel that I'm definitely watching a comic book movie, something I really wish I wasn't thinking.

Then there's Blake, Gordon-Levitt's cop, who if you ask me, apart from one reason, should have been cut out altogether. These little B stories are nothing compared to Dent's, who actually had an impact on the main narrative. Blake just feels like he's something to keep our attention going while other things are going on. Levitt does a good job but every time he came on screen I was just waiting for the next scene. Same goes with Cotillard's Miranda Tate as, apart from near the end, she's completely disposable.

So let's move onto Bane. Firstly, they have cranked up the volume of his mask from the IMAX preview, which is great but then completely jars with the film as it's not mixed into the scene, so no matter what, it sounds like he's standing right next to you shouting in your ear. Bane is the antithesis of Batman, it's his alter ego, his own personal devil. Batman states that he wears a mask for other people, Bane's mask is for himself, but they don't really go into what the mask is actually for. Why is he living in a sewer like the Turtles? Surely the whole point of League of Shadows was that people are inherently evil and Gotham inparticular. Well if Gotham has no crime, why are the League even bothering? If it is because Bane is a madman, then it still makes no sense as he doesn't have any real motive, not even when we find out about his backstory are we still given an absolute clear motive, and it's also very, very creepy. How old is he supposed to be then? It's all very strange.

There is also the fact that all you can see is his eyes, there's only so much eye acting someone can do, even Tom Hardy, and because of his size I was just thinking it was Bronson back again. His talking like a posh English lord is also offputting, why does everything sound so strange that he says? There is also the argument that he has thought up this amazing plan to plunge Gotham into chaos but in no way is this anything like the intricacy of Joker's plans. That's what made Joker so interesting, he thrived on chaos when in fact the whole progression of events were planned with ingenuity. Bane just doesn't cut it - he's not scary, neither twisted and is just a big macho strongman who speaks posh in a Darth vader toy mask. Neither does he make Batman question himself like Joker did, Joker was from nowhere - he was almost an apparition sent to test Batman and it became a personal rivalry. You went away from Dark Knight thinking that if Joker had failed everything, that if he had made Batman doubt his own integrity it would have been worth it. Not the same for Bane. His weird leadership of Gotham for it being to pure anarchy just feels a bit ... stupid dare I say. Why is he so intent on it? I just didn't get it. Joker also truly tested the people of Gotham, all the anarchy and chaos that happened was almost the result of being self-inflicted or taking advantage of people's horrid nature. Rises just doesn't have that depth.

Where Dark Knight was dark in nature, Rises feels like it's been forced to try and be dark, to be completely hopeless and in despair so the 'rising' can be more dramatic - and it is dramatic. You can't help but root for Batman throughout but I really did feel that this last appearance was let down. It was a step backward rather than a step forward and it makes me wonder if they might have used Heath Ledger again had he been alive, would we have had a different film? Perhaps. The film was way too long and takes place over an extremely long period of time where you can't help but think it's all a bit stupid, baring in mind Dark Knight takes place over a matter of days.

I really wish I could sit here and say this film was incredible because a lot of people are. But it's not. It's good but where Dark Knight was perfection, Rises has too much to live up to and loses its way (but it's better than Begins I'd say). It doesn't continue even in the same vein, it's almost as if (apart from Dent/Rachel) it's completely forgotten what happened in the previous film. I really do wish that Nolan hadn't said just three, he could have really explored the world and characters a little longer. I mean, hell, it's been going on for decades in the comics. Not enough action, too much talking, not a great script, ties up ends from first film but loses a lot along the way. Good effort, but next time try harder. Oh wait ....

Rating: 7/10

Sunday, 15 July 2012

REVIEW: Spec Ops The Line

The thinking man's Call of Duty ...

I must say, I'm always dubious about war games that try to emulate Call of Duty but after playing the demo of this game, I found that it was a third person shooter that looked quite cool and was nothing like the Call of Duty games whatsoever. But now, after finishing the game, I found it to be quite a deep and somewhat profound study on war that is the complete antithesis to everything Call of Duty is about.

Firstly, on a completely aesthetic standpoint, the game looks pretty good - but not great. The haze of the sun and sand works well, but it's nothing to write home about. It does have its moments but never was I truly thinking it was a step up - it's definite proof that we need a new console to start pushing boundaries. However, some of the set pieces were impressive and I loved the design.

The control system though is somewhat irritating. Often, I find myself sprinting to standing and trying to find cover and trying not to die, it makes for a completely annoying, rough ride that could have done with being a bit more refined. Five years ago, I might have let a control system like this get by, but not nowadays. Also, the team squad based techniques are good, but somewhat pointless. It feels like an afterthought rather than an integral part of the game.

The AI had its moments but what was really annoying was when your AI team-mates would be dying asking for your help and they have run off ahead or stayed behind leaving you, through no fault of your own, to have to save them. It could be argued this is somewhat 'realistic' but, it's not, it's a mistake in my eyes I'm afraid.

That's the surface stuff, which can all be forgiven when it comes to the story and other nice little details that they've thought about. If you don't know already, The Line is set in a post-apocalyptic Dubai. The city had undergone a huge sandstorm and the 33rd battalion, under a General Conrad, were told to evacuate the city. However, there was no trace of the survivors or the 33rd. They then get a message saying that the evacuation was a failure and the losses heavy, so Walker and his two squad are told to recon the area and report back. But then, it all goes a bit wrong...

The game is loosely based on Heart of Darkness (Conrad being an obvious indicator) and therefore of course, more importantly, Apocalypse Now. Once you enter Dubai, you see that it's a complete war zone between the locals and the 33rd led by Conrad who have now taken over the city. You also see that the CIA have got involved to keep things under wraps so a full scale war between America and UAE doesn't break out and soon you find yourself being targeted by everyone in this crossfire.

The Line is essentially a commentary on the full horror of war. Your squad are not happy that they keep delving further when they should just leave and report back. They are, after all, killing American soldiers. After a traumatic event, events start to spiral out of control and, as a result, the game becomes a piece about Walker's fragile state of being. His actions, and ultimately your choices, soon put him on a path that he cannot recover from. This isn't a gun-ho ballsy Team America piece, in fact it's shows how disgusting, futile and ultimately evil war is - even by trying to become the hero you become the enemy. There is no such thing as a 'good guy' in war and, even as you battle your way through the game, by the end the city is in complete ruins. To justify war, you've had to destroy everything.

It's an introspective piece on Walker, a friend of Conrad's, who blames the General for all the evil that has occurred but as the game progresses you physically look worse and worse. Also, the little quips and in-game dialogue gets more heated and more desperate and it's a beautiful touch to the disintegration of Walker's mind. Even the menu appears different each time you turn it on, from the upside down flag, to a man keeping watch, to him dead with the city on fire, to an empty desolate space depending how far you have progressed in the campaign. Depending on what you do, you will get a certain ending of about five, none of which are 'good'. My one for instance ended with the city alight and completely destroyed - the result of me trying to do what was right.

All in all, The Line is about how far a man will go to prove his worth not only to other people, but more importantly to himself. We like to believe we are good people, but are we? Or do we just blame our bad decisions on other people? It's completely downbeat, it's horrific and no way do you ever feel like a hero. Instead you come away feeling slightly disgusted, slightly awkward and like you've just screwed everything up. It doesn't help that loading screens have strange messages like 'How many Americans have you killed today?' and 'You're still a good person.' I never got a chance to play the multiplayer mode but if you like a good action piece with a bit of gritty, harsh character assassination then it's definitely worth playing.

Rating: 7.5/10

Monday, 9 July 2012

NEWS: Behind The Scenes of The Dark Knight Rises

It's sooooo close!

Some new footage and other bits and pieces

NEWS: Michael Fassbender in Assassin's Creed Movie

Assassin's Creed movie is going forth with Fassbender staring as our young hero as well as co-producing it with his company DMC and Ubisoft Motion pictures.

Oooooh, how exciting. Finally a movie-based-on-game that might have some real clout behind it.

Ubisoft have been highly protective with the project and even Spielberg was attached at one point until Ubisoft pulled out to reain having creative control. Maybe that's because of the debacle that was Prince of Persia?

Of course, it could also just be hype to get Assassin's Creed III coming out, or is that the cynic in me?