xannoside: (zombie link)
Strigoi 
directed by Faye Jackson
TL;DR: A wonderful dark comedy involving Eastern European politics, small town isolation, and vampires.  A must-see for lovers of indie-horror looking for something truly different.

I'm not even sure how to describe this film )
xannoside: (ahem)
So I went to see The Adventures of Tintin a couple nights ago with the sister.  I was a little apprehensive; the Tintin comics were an enormous part of my childhood, I still love re-reading them, and the last thing I wanted was for general American audiences to be introduced to the character via some bloated, soul-less adaptation.  That, and the CG looked more than a little uncanny valley.

Well, it wasn't soul-less.  At all.  Giving Spielberg and Peter Jackson every credit, they really worked hard to make this movie shine in every possible way that the books did.  But it is a bit bloated.  Tintin is stuffed to the gills with as much as they could have possibly fit in; the film is an amalgam of Crab with the Golden ClawsSecret of the Unicorn, and Red Rackham's Treasure.  And as an unfortunate result, everything feels a little rushed.  It's a little peculiar because they did a good job otherwise of trying the three together into a single story that could fit in 2 hours.

 Admittedly, adapting a Tintin story into a movie accessible to an audience not familiar with the character is a tough task.  Many of the best Tintin stories (The Calculus Affair, Destination Moon/Explorers on the Moon, The Red Sea Sharks) simply aren't new audience-friendly, and most of the earlier stand-alone stories like King Ottakar's Sceptre and Cigars of the Pharaoh don't feature Captain Haddock, one of the most iconic comic-book characters ever devised.  

There are some stupendous action sequences that fit the books perfectly, being both exciting and slightly slapstick.  Thomson and Thompson are pretty funny as played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and there is a brilliant character cameo by Bianca Castafiore.  I just wish they had let the story breathe a bit.  
xannoside: (ding!)
Saw Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows yesterday with [livejournal.com profile] bigscary and [livejournal.com profile] negativeq.  Really, really enjoyed it, just all in all far surperior to the first one.

It was kind of like X-Men 2.  The first movie was purely for character setup, and that it's out of the way, it's full tilt for fun, action, and breathless set-pieces.

There was even a little more on-screen detecting.  And a lot more, ah, "subtextual" nods befitting the world's most classic bromance. 

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law ham it up enormously, clearly having a fabulous time.  Jared Harris is a fantastic Moriarty, brilliant, classy and yet utterly sinister, Stephen Fry was born to play Mycroft Holmes, and it's great to see Noomi Rapace in a movie based on a book that isn't all about how rape-is-awful-so-how-about-some-more-rape?

Guy Ritchie is a little too fond of both slow-mo and quick-cuts.  While I appreciate the skill that went into choreographing the action scenes, sometimes I'm not sure why directors spend so much time setting up a visual piece only to quick-cut all over the place, or set up a smoothly flowing motion only to randomly slow it down so the audience can see in intimate detail all the particles of dirt make-up added to an actor's face.  

In the end though, the better bits of the movie overcome this handily, and the last 10 minutes could not have been done better.  Highly recc'd.

xannoside: (zombie link)
Triangle
Genre: supernatural/slasher
Chris Smith (who directed Creep) 2009
starring Melissa George and Chris Hemsworth's little bro.

This one is a holdover from my Halloween prep Netflix queue.  I liked Chris Smith's other films, Creep  and Black Death, but I was a little antsy about this one, which gave all appearances of being a generic slasher film on a boat.  I only added it to my queue because it had a stellar reputation quite beyond what I expected of a slasher film.

There's really only two things to say:
  1. This film is a hell of a lot more than a generic slasher on a boat film.  A ton of thought got put into everything, and it shows.
  2. I would be doing a collosal disservice to potential watchers if I reviewed this film in-depth because it's almost impossible to not spoil.
If you like thoughtful atmospheric horror with a supernatural, almost Twilight Zone, kind of feel, do yourself a favor and see Triangle, it's 100% worth it.
xannoside: (Mass Effect)
From a game design standpoint, the Uncharted games are not the greatest games in the world.  Its gameplay has been done better elsewhere, in the likes of Assassin's Creed and action-shooter hybrids like Mass Effect and Gears of War.  It's not even the most seemless action-gaming experience like God of War.

And yet, Uncharted 3, just like the two previous iterations, is one of the most fun, rewarding action-gaming experiences I've ever had whose actual enjoyment blasts it past most of those previously mentioned games as an overall experience.

Big cut demonstrating how much I love this series )

The plot is so impressive, and the action so tight, and the set pieces so awesomely huge, that they could have called this game Indiana Jones Had a Kid Who Isn't Shia LaBeouf and I would consider it a compliment.  To Indiana Jones.

Yeah, I went there.


xannoside: (zombie link)
Isolation
Genre: Monster/Science Gone Wrong
Director: Billy O'Brian, 2005
Starring: Some E-list, but otherwise very competent, British and Australian actors
TL;DR: Surprisingly fun and atmospheric, despite the title not really having anything to do with the film

Read more... )

Now isn't there a film from the same-ish area in Ireland about mutant sheep?  I'll have to look for that one.



xannoside: (zombie link)
So, I meant to start this earlier this once, but I was a bit busy.  The plan is to watch as many horror movies as I feel like watching in the run-up to Halloween, thanks to Netflix, and then review them (inspired in format by Jethrien's much more worthwhile habbit of reading actual books and posting about it)  

There will likely be some actual theatrical trips involved as well, but most of these are definitely not the kind of thing you want to pay actual money to see. :P

Anyways, up first:

Zombies of Mass Destruction
Genre: Zombies
Director: Kevin Hamedani, 2009
Starring: friends & family of the director and 6-8 actors
TL:DR: Fun individual moments, but never really finds its own tone.

Read more... )

xannoside: (Default)
 So, saw Transformers with [livejournal.com profile] trinityvixen  and L&A last night.

Why do we do this to ourselves? (SPOILERS)


Because we never learn... )

There was one single solitary decent shout-out.

"These are the Wreckers, we don't let them off the base because they're assholes."
xannoside: (ahem)
Disclaimer: I love the Nightmare movies. I loved the scares of the original, the campiness of the sequels, the 4th-wall-breaking genre-deconstructing eighth film that no one seems to have seen (but everyone really should see). I think Freddy Krueger, with his demonic laugh and sadistic kills, is one of the best movie villains ever. So when the Nightmare re-make got critic-slashed to bits faster than a co-ed being chased by a possessed Slap Chop, I was expecting a campy hackneyed mess of film that had more in common with Saw, Hostel, and Rob Zombie's lamentable forays into slasher films than the original Nightmare.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Critics hate teenagers )
xannoside: (games)
I picked up Fallout 3 this past week.

Other reviewers, both major magazine reviews and player reviews, have rated this game through the roof. "Best ever!", "Amazing", etc. etc.

I think you know where this is going )
xannoside: (I AM)
Back from visiting the folks. Appreciated the long-weekend, really needed to unwind.

Waiting for me in my mail was Casino Royale on Blu-Ray from Netflix, which I ordered just so I could compare with the DVD I actually own and see whether there was really a major difference between an upscaled DVD and a Blu-Ray movie beyond what only a true videophile would notice.

I've operated, from previous experience in stores and other sources, on the assumption that while there was some very mild difference a true techie (or someone with a 50+ inch screen) could appreciate, overall, there was no real tangible improvement, but I decided to use my netflix account to see what could be seen on a setup I have full control over, against the same source material on DVD, upscaled to 1080i.

Well, long story short, my assumption was wrong. Like, completely.

I don't know whether it's specific to the movie and how it got encoded, or whatever, but the difference is immediately noticeable. It's not quite VHS-to-DVD level of "holy shit!", but it's definitely an "oh my...".

That said, there's no way I'm replacing my DVD collection *any* time soon, but for new releases with big awesome visuals that I really want (like say a BD-version of LOTR or Serenity), I could see myself going Blu-Ray.
xannoside: (games)
Ok, I'm not going to add to the millions of other reviews out there praising Metal Gear Solid 4. By this point, every good thing that has been mentioned has been mentioned, analyzed, and praised.

And it's all true. Every word of it. MGS4 is that good.

However, there is one particularly noticeable area which, for me, is a major quibble: its narrative pacing and structure.

Look, I have nothing against the episodic narrative model. Taking the time to flesh out sub-plots in their individual arcs can work very, very well when you have a lot of material to work in.

But when each episode does almost nothing to advance the plot, all the extra time spent on those episodes makes it harder and harder to sit through each successive one, even when individual plot moments are full of awesome.

Each chapter of MGS4 is basically the same: Snake looks for Liquid, shit gets in his way, there's a few long, long references to previous game plot-threads, Snake talks philosophy with someone, boss fight, Snake doesn't manage to stop Liquid yet. Rinse and repeat.

It's pretty much the like someone thought the narrative structure of MGS2 was awesome and decided it could only be more awesome by making it bigger and longer.

So much effort went into the gameplay and mechanics that it's a little jarring how little (relatively) went into making the plot fun to experience, especially for a series that prides itself on its atmosphere and philosophical pondering.

It's especially disappointing after MGS3. One reason why I loved MGS3 so much was because the plot pacing was perfect. Every single thing that happened moved the story along, subtly building into an amazing crescendo of action and emotion that contributed towards creating the best action-game experience I had ever played.

Unfortunately, it seems like Hideo Kojima just didn't realize just how much he had improved his formula with MGS3, and the fourth game, despite its overall magnificence, suffers from it.
xannoside: (world ends with you)
In January, if someone had told me that Spring 2008's killer game ap would be a Squaresoft game, I would not have been surprised.

If they had told me it would be an RPG using a twisted, cracked-out combat system that could only be described as the unholy union of Okami and DDR with a snort of cocaine on top, set in a strange cross-dimensional other-space which looks exactly like Shibuya city, has a premise which is possibly the genetic chimaera of Battle Royale, Gantz, the Matrix, and Shojo Kakumei Utena, and stars emo Harajuku labelwhores as the protagonists...I would have said they were crazy.

No, actually, I would have said that even the crazy train had left the station, and that the only thing left was totally fucking crackers nightly express to psychotic-ville.

But it's true.

Take notice, boys and girls, the world ends with you.
xannoside: (games)
Well, the conclusion is I'm pretty bad at keeping up with LJ, and even worse at posting. In any case, I felt that this was a pretty good opportunity to get a couple more reviews in, especially for a couple of games that old-school Final Fantasy fans have been waiting for:

First up, Lost Odyssey, from the makers of Chrono Trigger, then Sepiroth and Cloud return in Crisis Core )
xannoside: (games)
I'm getting a GameFly account. That's the only way to keep this up without spending all my disposable income.

Anyway, today's review (and the last game I'm actually buying until after 2008 begins) is of Mass Effect by Bioware for the 360.

Short version: It's almost exactly the same as KOTOR...not a bad thing )
xannoside: (games)
As I finally clear out my backlog of recently-acquired games, I have finally come to a game that I have been eagerly awaiting for at least a year (and is the subject of my icon for this entry, courtesy of Penny-Arcade.com): Assassin's Creed.

Developed by Ubisoft Montreal, the same folks responsible for the revamped Prince of Persia games, Assassin's Creed is a sandbox-play, mission-designed third-person action game with a pretty fascinating meta-twist, which, 2-3 hours into the game, has yet to truly reveal its purpose.

...
I'm trying to stay spoiler free, here.

Clearly, someone over there has a liking for Arabic bad-asses )
xannoside: (games)
I picked up Halo 3 a few weeks ago. Like many games that I pick up, I rarely have time to play it, usually fitting in an hour here, an hour there.

I confess, this is the first time that I have ever actually owned a Halo game. I have played both previously for short periods of time in a variety of places. I enjoyed them well enough and I have always been a fan of over-the-top tournament-style shooters.

Let's be clear here: if you've ever played video games more than a couple times in the last 5 years, you at least have an impression of whether you like Halo or not.

So how is Halo 3? )
xannoside: (games)
First up on the initial assessment list is Bioshock, a game which tries to answer the question of what you would get if you combined Ayn Rand with Captain Nemo and surrounded this new bizarre being with bored geneticists...no, really.

Watch the billionaire's initials )
xannoside: (ahem)
I confess that I have a real tough time writing in this thing. I rarely have time to read my friend's page, let alone post silly things. That said, the times in the last few years when I was able to do this regularly generally made me feel better when I was down, more organized when I was frazzled, and more creative in general.

So in an attempt to get used to writing in this thing again, I'm going to start reviewing games again with slight change in the old formula.

Each game will get two reviews: an initial impressions and then a final review after I've either beaten it or gotten sick of it.

This isn't really meant to be valuable to anyone in particular but if anyone draws any interest, I thank you in advance.

Upcoming: Bioshock

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