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Category Archives: Film

(Bonus post! Don’t worry, it’s all back to games after this.)

“How was the movie?”
“The movie?”
“The Facebook movie.”
“Uh, it’s pretty good, but immediately smacks you in the face with Sorkin dialogue.”
“Sorkin dialogue?”
“Yes.”
“As in Aaron Sorkin?”
“No, as in one of the many other famous Sorkins working on the film.”

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Toy Story 3 is probably film of the yeaOH WAIT

Memo to all mooks: Do not point firearm directly at the person you are trying to kill. Especially not at this range.

I’m surprised to see detractors of Inception trying to pick plotholes or have a go at the story, when it has such flawed, unnecessary and frankly shameless action sequences.

The cartoonish Rambo style bad guy aiming was ridiculous. From the foot-chase to the video-game-esque snow level. Whether the bad guys had handguns, automatics or even sniper rifles. Meanwhile the heroes naturally have almost perfect aim and the more bad guys there are, the easier it is to knock them out with one punch.

There was one glaringly farcical scene where a suit shoots several times with a handgun at a stationary target on a stairwell, yards apart with a clear line of sight – and every bullet misses!

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[Extra post tomorrow for the other film worth going to the cinema for this year.]

Let’s be honest with each other. There’s no need for me to fully review or even recommend Toy Story 3 because it is Toy Story 3. With that out of the way…

This is like one of them metty-fors.

It’s kind of shameful that an animation studio making movies marketed at children has a better track record, more creativity, more imagination and more mastery of the medium than anyone else in the industry. From their effortless use of the old ‘show, don’t tell’ rule to really emotionally moving the audience.

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[I should have another game design post for next week where I will be taking on the horrors of dungeon crawling! For now, here’s something that’s been in my drafts for a while.]

The title may sound make it sound like pr0n set in medieval times, but it’s actually a 2007 anime film that I happen to have caught recently.

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There seems to be an unwritten rule that no film adaptation of a video game can ever be good. In over fifteen years, we have yet to see one video game movie get past even 50% critical approval on Rotten Tomatoes.
But you know what really doesn’t help? Picking the wrong games. Gears of War is a punchline in video game storytelling and art design. It exists entirely for its gameplay – largely multiplayer. So the fact that there’s a Gears of War movie in the works is as ridiculous as casting a white American as the Prince of Persia!

Rather than looking at story, adaptability or just the substance of the games themselves, video game movies seem to get greenlighted based on other criteria:

  • Is it popular/Is it marketable? (Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter, Prince of Persia)
  • Does it have tits? (Dead or Alive, Tomb Raider, Bloodrayne)
  • If you’re Uwe Boll it’s just “can i maek movie with this name? i will also put tits in it” (Oh, there’s one or two)

In spite of this process and the unwritten rule, here are five games that could hypothetically make a good basis for a film adaptation:

5. Broken Sword

I've probably mentioned how much pre-rendered backgrounds kick bum.

After an explosion in a Parisian café, American George Stobbart gets embroiled in a globe-trotting adventure of Templar conspiracy. He teams up with French journalist Nicole Collard, he crosses paths with a Syrian assassin and he travels from France, to Ireland, to Syria, to Spain and to Scotland.

The first Broken Sword game (subtitled Circle of Blood or Shadow of the Templars depending on where you are) was a solidly made PC adventure game – recently remade for the Nintendo DS – that told a charming story. The game’s structure and length mean it would be extremely simple to adapt it straightforwardly to the big screen. All you’d have to do is make some general cuts, have Nico travel alongside George and maybe tweak the ending.

Besides, with lines like:
“Woah! Don’t shoot! I’m innocent! I’m  an American!”
“Can’t make up your mind, eh?”

How can you go wrong?

The closest we got: The Da Vinci Code

Tom Hanks is above this.

Annoyingly, this is the reason Broken Sword is last on the list. It’s about an American in Paris, who teams up with a French brunette, with a mysterious assassin following them as they travel to uncover a Templar-related mystery solving puzzles along the way. And that’s just the major similarities. So a Broken Sword movie based on this game would be accused of ripping off the Da Vinci Code, right?

Well, the Da Vinci Code novel was released in 2003, while Broken Sword was released seven years earlier in 1996. Coincidence? Or maybe…OMIGOD IT WAS JESUS ALL ALONG!

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E3

One of these is a more accurate portrayal of the respective product.

Grimly Enthusiastic is on the cutting edge of gaming news! Well, as in the edge furthest away from the centre in which everyone stopped talking about E3 a week ago.

Tardiness aside, here’s a summary of everything that mattered:

  • The Nintendo 3DS sounds terrific. Just a shame us Joe Public types can’t actually see what it does.
  • Crysis 2 looks notably awful.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops looks annoyingly better than expected.
  • Portal 2 looks good and Portalicious.
  • Disappointingly The Last Guardian and Agent are nowhere to be seen.
  • Even if the first half of the trailer was boring, Metal Gear Solid Rising looks very interesting. Although it’s a bad sign when the most exciting part of E3 is precision watermelon slicing.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker – the story

Even my raging man-crush on Big Boss can't save this game.

First off the bat, I’m a big fan of Metal Gear Solid 1 (which might have some of the best writing this side of Grim Fandango) and 3. I didn’t care for Metal Gear Solid 2’s nonsense, that’s praised only by the kind of people that pretend to understand post-modernism. Metal Gear Solid 4 then tragically followed a similar route with a dreadful train-wreck of a plot and a ninety minute ending that might as well have been a parody.

Now we have Peace Walker and it seems that this series needs to be put down. Quickly. Because it’s all gone in some horrible Star Wars prequel or Compilation of Final Fantasy VII direction.

Somehow, in the space of 1964-1974, we’ve gone from a fantastic and well told story about soldiers in the Cold War to a magical world of AIs and giant robots, already as advanced as much as they are in 2014!

The times they are a-changin'.

Characters with names like Pacifica Ocean and genuinely – Hot Coldman. Pointless and retcon-esque connections to other games, Otacon’s father shows up with the same face and voice as Otacon, everything about the now half-Japanese Miller, etc. Lines like “[the magical second part of the singing robots’ AI]’s not using it’s head…It’s using it’s heart.” It all makes Portable Ops look like a realistic and logical tale!

One of the biggest problem is that there is no gap to be bridged between Metal Gear Solid 3 and the original Metal Gear.  The whole point of Snake Eater’s ending was that you could infer everything about Big Boss’ future from it. So to have both this and Portable Ops show Big Boss slowly figuring out what we all comprehended six years ago and dicking around with the words “Outer Heaven” – is all just a waste of time.

Fullmetal Alchemist

Not an image representative of the series, but it's SO AWESOME ANYWAY.

The Fullmetal Alchemist manga ended this month, with the anime adaptation soon to follow. It’s been a nine year journey, but uniquely – it never just had story arcs and it wasn’t like a TV series where the quality waned with every season that passed. It was just one fantastic 108 chapter adventure with consistent quality, and I enjoyed every step of it.

The final chapter served as a nice wrap up for everything. (And it hilariously made some “shippers” angry)

I actually wanted to post a specifically beautiful image from the final chapter, but didn’t want to spoil anything. Because if you haven’t read it, you really should. It’s funny, it’s clever, it’s moving, it’s action packed and it’s very much worth your time.

It’s just a shame you won’t have to endure the monthly gripping cliffhangers we did.

Dollhouse

If you've seen Dollhouse, I bet you know what episodes these are from.

What they say is true; Dollhouse starts off awful and at times – very stupid. It’s also true that it gets good, the characters become likeable and it has flashes of absolute brilliance. (Albeit with a period of ‘stupid-but-watchable’ in-between)

After one particularly enjoyable episode, the show gets downright gripping near the end of season 1 – in an episode featuring a great cameo from Alan Tudyk. Season 2 has a rocky start, but offers ‘Belongings’ (episode four) which was just terrific television. The final season was also jammed with a lot of plot and generally felt to have been rushed given the expected cancellation. But despite it jarringly edging into sci-fi territory, it served to give the viewer closure and did so appropriately.

The Epitaph episode at the end of season one is interesting from a writing standpoint as it seems the writers didn’t expect another season, so the episode is filled with ideas for the future of the series while still leaving things open.
It’s also worth mentioning that there’s impressive acting from certain members of the supporting cast. The oddly named Enver Gjokaj particularly shines with surprising versatility.

Dollhouse is difficult to recommend. You have to sit through hours of the bad to get to the good. But personally, I’m glad I did.

Film reviews for the Twitter generation

The military never thought to just kick it in the face.

Cloverfield:
Unlikeable characters (that all look freakishly similar to each to other) make for a meaningless waste of time in which 50% of the script is the name “Rob” being endlessly repeated.

Jet Li’s Fearless:
Enjoyable until you look up Huo Yuanjia and discover that basically none of it actually happened.

Finally

Did I miss anything in my E3 round-up? Do you have any thoughts on the gameplay in Peace Walker? Any thoughts on the new banner image? Let me know in the comments!

Sherlock and Holmes together again!

Robert Downey, Jr. takes to his role (as Jack Sparrow’s obsessive compulsive brother) brilliantly, with a strange but “syoot-able” accent. I was also shocked at how the film managed to make Jude Law much less punchable, maybe even…Likeable.
The story is just good enough, but the humour and dialogue (save a few questionable moments) really carry the film. This is in large part due to the rapport between Holmes and Watson.
It’s worth mentioning that the ending hits totally the wrong note. It should have been a Batman Begins-esque exclamation point, not a whimper.

Yeah, I don't know either.

The action is fun, but a good portion of it is directed and edited in that horrible twitchy camera “let’s just focus on some flailing arms rather than actually seeing what they’re doing”.
It’s also a shame that Holmes’ analysis and prediction in fights, never comes up again. It felt like it was building to something, rather than just being a gimmick to be used twice.

Sherlock Holmes uses the Victorian version of V.A.T.S.

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…Is fun.

That’s it. Reviewed.

Okay, I do have nitpicks:

  • Michael Cera* has an annoying voice and is very Michael Cera in it.
  • The part where that guy gets shot got waaaay too surreal.
  • There are some logical problems, especially in the funfair.
  • The romance is made out to be deeper than it should be.
  • I hate fast zombies. It defeats the point of zombie movies. (Sidenote: the original Dawn of the Dead is the best horror movie ever)
  • Michael Cera kind of beats you over the head with an obvious point at the end.

And some other things. But nitpicks are nitpicks. The film is a good ride. It’s well worth the hour and a half, it doesn’t tend to waste a second, it’s stylish and it’s funny.

Oh, and I just found out Woody Harrelson was awesome. To top it off, it turns out he’s a vegan as well.

Anyway, I’d say this brings it up to four good films for 2009.

*It’s totally the same guy. He just changed his hair and tugged his chin.