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All reviews - Movies (44) - TV Shows (2) - Books (1) - Games (11)

Heavy Rain review

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 21 April 2012 07:44 (A review of Heavy Rain)

Unbelievably complex while at the same time being completely human and nuanced, one can’t help but be immersed in Heavy Rain. Brought to being by the creators of the almost-amazing Indigo Prophecy (worth a playthrough), they have truly shown the power of storytelling through video games. By putting the player in control of the five principal characters, the story inadvertently follows them and it feels more natural, not to mention more visceral when action scenes come. While previous games rely on a simple on-a-rail type storytelling which limits the player in obvious ways, Heavy Rain innovates. It mimics the feel of a game in which there is only one ending, but your actions directly affect the direction that the story goes in—often tragically so. But in order for those tragic events to actually feel like they matter, Quantic Dream had to make you care somehow. This was pulled off in subtle but key scenes, where you strive to make your child laugh, or make eggs for someone, but it was also helped greatly by having very realistic facial renderings and lip-synching technology. The way you had to move the joysticks or press and hold buttons may seem arcade-y, but I thought they were effective in their difficulty and awesomeness in those rare cases that you do it flawlessly. There is some really great voice acting by some key actors, however sometimes I heard native accents that seemed out-of-character. Also, in times of stress, simply navigating to another side of a room is made incredibly difficult by the clunky navigation controls. Those points aside, I still loved every scene and look forward to playing through again with this compelling power I have to shape the story in a way that might be completely different now that I know who the Origami Killer is.


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Jeff, Who Lives At Home review

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 11 April 2012 08:54 (A review of Jeff, Who Lives At Home)

The Duplass Brothers have created a wonderful thing in this moving and earnest film, which on its surface pretends to be a lighthearted comedy about a slacker and his aggressive brother, but becomes something much deeper and even cosmic. Jeff is obsessed with his destiny, frustrated with being stuck in his life and is constantly on the lookout for any signs or paths that may lead to something greater. Others pretend not to understand Jeff, or may not even realize how real their masks of indifference have become to them. But they’ve all got their own goals and their hopes and dreams for something far greater, and they’re putting in effort in order to get there in their own sometimes very strange ways. There are five main actors and actresses—each part they play seems perfectly cast for their strengths, and they all give tremendous performances. Without saying much, I will say the ending is earned and it is the reason I love this picture, as Jeff’s destiny becomes his own.


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Dead End review

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 5 April 2012 09:58 (A review of Dead End)

This film is more of a stylized melodrama about wealth inequality on the whole, but the entire project is elevated by [Link removed - login to see]">Humphrey Bogart’s bravura performance. He creates a tragically menacing figure as the character of Baby Face Martin, tragic in that you can see his rough childhood on his now menacing visage. On the run from the law and bitter from the wrongs that society has done to him, he feels a need to harden the boys around his old stomping grounds and becomes the corrupting influence that drives them to crime. All the while, his childhood friend Dave ([Link removed - login to see]">Joel McCrea) tries to teach them to be kind, forgiving, pillars of the community to help unite the poor and the rich and forge a better life for all—though, Dave realizes, such bitterness is hard to quell.


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Fallout 3 review

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 4 April 2012 07:41 (A review of Fallout 3)

Brilliant. Simply brilliant. It took a long time for Deus Ex to be knocked off of the #1 spot of my favorites list, but it was worth the wait. Bethesda has crafted a satirical masterpiece, a post-apocalyptic look into a world scorched by nuclear warfare and a world where survival of the fittest is pushed to its very limits.

Liam Neeson, the familiar voice of your father, immediately draws you in and welcomes you into a semi-recognizable future, locked in a steel underground bunker with a semi-functioning society—and then leaves. So begins your quest to leave the safety of this familiar setting and out into the real world, with all of its dangers.

To me, the most interesting thing to see was not the way groups of people managed to stick together and organize themselves in order to survive, but the bureaucracy that formed around them. The federal government still clings to control via robots patrolling the surface, though no one has seen a the president nor a functioning government for many months forcing a majority of people to fend for themselves. One town may have a sheriff, another run by slavers. One may secede from the US to form their own Republic, another may secede from humanity and live off human flesh. The kinds of details Bethesda reveals about these settlements makes these outlandish ideas seem eerily plausible.

This immersion grants going out and doing quests much more gravity. You actually want to protect this defenseless town from certain death once you learn they are all sixteen-year-olds expelled from another town by some other bureaucracy. And the pleasures of the V.A.T.S. combat system become all the greater. I love the ease of use and the satisfaction of using V.A.T.S. It’s simple, efficient, balanced, and a great way to improve your strategy by pausing and letting you think about what your next best move will be.

While the main storyline is merely adequate overall, it’s bad that they make the game end by completing it. This game is about exploring and doing what you want. Art imitates life, and Fallout 3 is a masterful example. You—not the designers—you prioritize what you want to do.


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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy review

Posted : 5 years, 7 months ago on 22 March 2012 09:36 (A review of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)

A deliberate, steadily-paced film that gives you just enough time to figure out the last clue before revealing yet another in George Smiley’s (Oldman) maddening search for a mole within MI5. Tomas Alfredson’s paranoid spy drama is soaked in lingo, leaving you puzzled as Smiley must have been. The gift here, alongside the already stellar ensemble cast, is the fine actor of Gary Oldman, who silently communicates with us, helping us piece it all together. He comes off as a brilliant man, thorough and subtle—completely committed to his profession of finding truth through the lies. You may want to come prepared, but I enjoyed having to work a little bit to figure out who the mole was alongside Oldman—it certainly helped gain a closer perspective of how it must feel to be in such situations with literally no one to trust and other people’s lives at stake. If you’ve got any envy for that, you may lose it after seeing this film.


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Down by Law review

Posted : 5 years, 7 months ago on 15 March 2012 10:17 (A review of Down by Law)

Jim Jarmusch directs this indie gem in gorgeous black and white, and we feel his passion for his work: this is one of those wonderful films where the characters are tailor-made for the actors portraying them. And what fine actors they are—Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Roberto Benigni pour their essence into these three unfortunate men, and it is a treat to watch their personalities clash. But there is more beneath the surface. Each has their own story, their own reasons for innocence while in prison. It’s not their fault, they all say. And we can relate to them because, while flawed, they each have a spirit, a plan for the future if the world would get out of their way. We see them clash, but are they clashing? Or are they seeing their own flaws in each other and feel forced to grow? As they escape, we root for them not because we believe they will go back to their old lives of pimping, drinking, or cheating. We root for them because we want to leave our own flaws behind.


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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest review

Posted : 5 years, 7 months ago on 8 March 2012 06:37 (A review of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest)

R.P. MacMurphy is sent to an asylum. He isn't crazy. Watch what happens. One of only three movies to have won "The Big Five" Academy Awards for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay--yet this film is the only one that deserved them all. It is hilarious and often times frustrating to see MacMurphy struggle to connect with the patients in the ward. They are all just so used to droning away with their daily routine. MacMurphy (Nicholson) cannot and will not adhere to this and tries desperately to shake them free of it. He tries to teach them to take risks and stop being so afraid. Though at every turn, Head Nurse Ratched is there to reintroduce her brand of "therapy," pacifying any sense of defiance MacMurphy instills. This film delivers in every scene and has one of the most memorable endings ever.


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Minecraft review

Posted : 5 years, 7 months ago on 2 March 2012 06:40 (A review of Minecraft)

An evolution, a challenge to the modes of traditional gaming, and an achievement unmatched by countless top-tier development studios—and it was all brought together by a small, independent game developer named Mojang. Yes, this little retro-gem that brought unexpected riches to a small deserving few also brings riches into every home it’s played in, because in this world, YOU are all that matters. Where other games try to hook you with a neat story or flashy cutscenes, Minecraft does not. Like all art, it imitates life, but in Minecraft’s case, much more literally. You are dropped into an infinite world made of small cubes and left to fend for yourself. In Minecraft, much like a silent film, a lot can be said without saying anything at all. There is no god directing you, no personified evil, no plot that threatens the beautifully styled world that you now gaze upon—nothing but the threat of starvation and shelter from the night. What is the point of life? Everyone has their own answers, based on their past and the way they were raised. Minecraft mimics this idea—along with your home and your tools, you forge your own destiny. Will you farm? Will you mine? Will you explore? Will you build? Will you kill? Will you destroy? Will you shepherd your earth, or will you rape it? Here, like in reality, there are consequences. Dig too deep, take too greedily and you may die in the lava-lit darkness under a pile of gold and diamonds, or drive a species to extinction. Minecraft will help you tell your story.


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Bronson review

Posted : 5 years, 7 months ago on 28 February 2012 09:15 (A review of Bronson)

Director Nicolas Winding Refn tells the true story of Charles Bronson (formerly Michael Peterson)—Britain’s most violent prisoner—and does the impossible: with great ease, we are able to relate to Bronson not as the monster he is put forth as, but as the man behind it. Bronson wants to make a name for himself. This is not an uncommon dream among humans, however, his methods for achieving this dream is anything but. He views prison not as punishment, but, as he states it: it was an opportunity and a place where soon every native was gonna know my name. Passed from prison to asylum back to prison and even back out onto the streets, no one can or tries to understand him until he is allowed to express his ideas through art. This is a magnificent film, one that will unleash the Bronson within you—because believe me, sometime you will need it.


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Children of Men review

Posted : 5 years, 8 months ago on 17 February 2012 06:23 (A review of Children of Men)

In the not-so-distant future, where women across the globe are infertile and humanity is witnessing its own dusk, Theo (Clive Owen) must help a pregnant woman escape from the oppressive British government and find the last glimmer of hope that is the Human Project. Cuaron shows his supreme skill in this nearly hopeless film, with long and masterfully executed scenes with no cuts or edits, building genuine suspense and surprise in real-time. In a world torn by war and sadness and depression, we are shown the power of the innocent laughter of children in the playground. Power enough to stop a war. Power enough to start one.


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