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All reviews - Movies (157) - TV Shows (2) - Books (4) - Games (30)

"Detroit: Become Human" (PS4)

Posted : 1 month ago on 15 June 2018 08:50 (A review of Detroit: Become Human)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


The plot follows three androids – Kara, Connor and Markus – on their quests to discover who they really are.

Every Quantic Dream game after Fahrenheit (AKA Indigo Prophecy) has struck me as just okay, but I was hopeful that this might be the one that broke the mould. And I'm happy to report that it delivered. :-)

I think it goes without saying that the graphics are absolutely top-notch, as expected.

My main problem with Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls is that the lead characters are boring as hell, so the story falls flat emotionally. But here, it's appropriate that they lack a distinct personality: they're androids, basically machines, so it makes sense for them to be defined by ambitions instead.

I like how, after each chapter, you're shown a flowchart detailing which path your choices led you down. It allows you to get a full scope of just how many possibilities there are, how many events they scripted.

I also really love how the main menu interacts with you. :-)

That said, there are flaws. The writing does lead to some scenes feeling fragmented or lacking cohesion. But the big one for me personally is that Markus's story feels very rushed; the manner in which he progresses to revolutionary leader could have been thought out and paced a little better.

Still, on the whole, I was more than satisfied with this game. It's not perfect, but its effective character writing makes this by far my favourite Quantic Dream game since Fahrenheit.


My rating: 85%



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"Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" (2018)

Posted : 1 month ago on 15 June 2018 08:47 (A review of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


When the island's dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event.

This review will be slightly longer than usual, because the Jurassic Park franchise is so special to me.

When I first saw Jurassic World, I thought it was merely an overwhelming disappointment after a fourteen-year wait – the biggest letdown of my entire life – but watching it again recently, I find it legitimately irritates me. Now that the sequel is out, I have to stop kidding myself. I hate the Jurassic World movies! I hate them!

All the same problems I have with its predecessor are still present here. The characters are just as annoying, and the CGI is every bit as unappealing. The dinosaurs don't look alive; I just feel like I'm watching a video game. Although, thankfully, there are more noticeable instances of practical effects. My favourite scene is when they're extracting the T-rex's blood, if only because it was really there in front of the camera.

But what makes this sequel so much more unbearable is the abundant, blatant stupidity. The premise is insipid and a full-on retread of The Lost World: environmentalism (misguided, if you ask me) versus capitalism. The villains are straight-up cartoonishly evil, and the characters make some monumentally idiotic decisions; the ending in particular is nothing short of rage-inducing.

It also bothers me how they keep claiming the Isla Nublar dinosaurs are the last of their kind. What the hell happened to Isla Sorna? A quote from The Lost World is directly referenced in this movie, so clearly Site B does exist.

There are a few blindingly obvious homages to the first movie, which are just plain embarrassing.

Sadly, my wish for feathered dinosaurs still wasn't granted. They'd better be a plot point in Jurassic World 3, otherwise I'm giving up on this series completely.

Long story short, I really didn't like this movie. I used to think Jurassic Park III was the worst of the bunch, but I'd even take that train wreck over this banal and uninspired waste!


My rating: 35%



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"Deadpool 2" (2018)

Posted : 1 month ago on 15 June 2018 08:43 (A review of Deadpool 2)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


Foul-mouthed mutant mercenary Wade Wilson (AKA Deadpool) brings together a team of fellow mutant rogues to protect a young boy with supernatural abilities from the brutal time-travelling cyborg Cable.

I like the first Deadpool movie a lot. It's like a perfect microcosm of what would happen if Deadpool himself made a movie. The problem this sequel faces is that the first movie really did seem like lightning in a bottle, so the follow-up does inevitably feel like little more than a repeat, an attempt to copy what came so naturally the first time. Even so, it's repeating some good stuff. :-)

My main problem with this movie is that it gets off to a shaky start and takes quite a while to find its footing. I was mostly indifferent to the first half-hour or so, but it was during the big chase sequence after Deadpool assembles his team that the movie finally won me over. I laughed several times during that scene, and remained interested until the very end.

Deadpool continues to be the sardonic antihero we all know and love, but the whole cast surrounding him is also excellent, especially Julian Dennison of Hunt for the Wilderpeople fame. But my favourite character is Domino: there's just something infectious about her nonchalance.

To sum it up, I enjoyed this movie. Though not as fresh as the original, it does present its best elements well enough that they can still speak for themselves.


My rating: 70%



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"Mass Effect: Andromeda" (PS4)

Posted : 2 months, 2 weeks ago on 3 May 2018 09:14 (A review of Mass Effect: Andromeda)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


The Andromeda Initiative sets a course for a new galaxy, hoping to find a new home for the species of the Milky Way.

This game got mixed reactions upon release, and many people declared it a disappointment. And now that I've finally played it myself… yeah, I'd have to agree. While not a bad game by any means, it's quite a letdown after one of the greatest trilogies in all of fiction.

Despite a promising start (I like the idea of things, right off the bat, not going according to plan), the story just never grabbed me like the first Mass Effect did. And I think I know why. In Mass Effect 1, you have a simple, clearly defined goal right from the start: stop Saren. That's what keeps you interested in exploring all these different worlds. But here, it's more of a vague agenda of "find a home somewhere, and also stop this new threat while you're on it". I guess what I'm saying is being an explorer is just not as interesting to me as being an elite police officer.

Everyone and their mother has complained about the character animations, particularly the faces. And, I'd be lying if I said I didn't understand why. I think the first three games used motion capture, which is why the characters felt so alive. But here, they look so artificial that it really is that distracting.

Overall, this game's okay. Not bad, but certainly not on par with the original trilogy.


My rating: 65%



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"Batman: The Enemy Within" (PS4)

Posted : 2 months, 2 weeks ago on 3 May 2018 09:11 (A review of Batman: The Enemy Within)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The Riddler has returned to terrorise Gotham City, but his gruesome puzzles merely foreshadow an even greater crisis. With the arrival of a ruthless federal agent and the return of a still nascent Joker, Batman must navigate uneasy alliances while Bruce Wayne undertakes a perilous series of deceptions.

I loved Telltale's first Batman game because it made it very clear that it was doing things its own way, taking some huge risks with established continuity – and they paid off, because the story was legitimately well told. This sequel continues that trend, boasting more clever surprises for hardcore fans, especially a unique interpretation of Harley Quinn.

The choices mainly revolve around maintaining healthy relationships while undercover in a gang of criminals. Personally, I tried my best not to antagonise anyone – not even Amanda Waller, who was directly threatening Batman. I was looking for an opportunity to double-cross her later.

However, the main thing I took from this game was the final episode. Normally, Telltale games offer only minimal differences in choice scenarios because, realistically, there's only so much you can programme. But here, depending on the ending of episode four, the Joker can either become a vigilante or a villain, resulting in two entirely different episodes except for the last two or three scenes. To tell you the truth, I'm stunned.

In conclusion, I thought this game was every bit as good as the first one. Better? I don't know if I'd go that far just yet.


My rating: 90%



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"Uncharted 4: A Thief's End" (PS4)

Posted : 2 months, 2 weeks ago on 3 May 2018 09:08 (A review of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Thrown back into the dangerous underworld he'd tried to leave behind, Nathan Drake must decide what he's willing to sacrifice to save the ones he loves.

First of all, Naughty Dog games always have absolutely stellar graphics. The attention to detail is mind-blowing.

The main strength of the Uncharted series is still going strong: I never get tired of these characters. Even though, as always, by biggest investment was in Nate and Elena's romance, the heart of the story this time truly is the relationship between the two brothers. The villains are just as fascinating; their scenes together are excellent.

I just adore the dialogue writing in these games. I love how snappy, clearly meticulous and yet so very natural-sounding it is.

This one also introduces several new gameplay mechanics, most notably the grappling hook. But the big one for me was the inclusion of stealth sections, of which I always took advantage whenever possible because that's my preferred playing style.

As usual, however, the game's main shortcoming is the overabundance of gunfights, which were an eternal source of frustration for me. Several times, the game had me tearing at my hair, thinking, "I am so sick of people shooting at me!"

To sum up, this is a fine conclusion to a solid series. How does it compare to the others? I'd say all four games are pretty much equal, but my personal favourite is still Uncharted 3. (And no, I haven't played The Lost Legacy.)


My rating: 80%



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"Fearless" (1993)

Posted : 2 months, 2 weeks ago on 3 May 2018 08:56 (A review of Fearless (1993))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Max Klein's personality is dramatically changed after surviving a major airline crash.

This is a fascinating look at PTSD and how you're never the same again after a near-death experience. It makes Max fascinating to watch throughout because you know his mental state has been affected, so you're always wondering how he's going to react in a given situation. The general idea is that he feels invincible, so he's constantly tempting fate.

My favourite aspect was Carla's storyline, which provides an interesting contrast of how differently the tragedy affected someone else and how she deals with it.

Sometimes it drags, and Max's logic is occasionally hard to follow, but it all builds up to a great ending.


My rating: 75%



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"Justice League: Gods and Monsters" (2015)

Posted : 2 months, 2 weeks ago on 3 May 2018 08:55 (A review of Justice League: Gods and Monsters (2015))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

In an alternate universe, very different versions of DC's Trinity (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman), who operate outside of the law, are framed for the murders of prominent scientists and the government decides to take them out.

This is a fantastic original story by Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett, featuring alternate, darker versions of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. It's a murder mystery where our three leads are the prime suspects, and at first our only reason to root for them is the knowledge that they're innocent. As the film progresses, though, we get to know them better, and they do start to show their true colours.

Plus, I legitimately did not see the ending coming. In the case of Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (which I watched not long before this), I'd be lying if I said I didn't suspect it, but here I never would have guessed.

I love this movie. This is right up in my top three DC animated favourites, along with Wonder Woman and Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.


My rating: 90%



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"Annihilation" (2018)

Posted : 2 months, 2 weeks ago on 3 May 2018 08:52 (A review of Annihilation)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don't apply.

Despite its intriguing sci-fi premise and some excellent moments (like the bear scene), overall it's kind of dry and it comes off as a bit pretentious: it's clearly trying to make us think, but not about subjects that I'm particularly interested in pondering.

While the good elements – the overall creativity and the superficially exciting scenes – were strong enough that I quite enjoyed it overall, there are two things severely holding it back for me: the characters are boring as hell, and the CGI looks like it's straight out of a video game. Now, to be fair, in the case of the latter, that might have been a budget issue, but it still ruins the illusion.

I prefer writer/director Alex Garland's previous effort, Ex Machina, by far.


My rating: 65%



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"Batman: Gotham by Gaslight" (2018)

Posted : 2 months, 2 weeks ago on 3 May 2018 08:51 (A review of Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (2018))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

In an alternative Victorian Age Gotham City, Batman begins his war on crime while he investigates a new series of murders by Jack the Ripper.

I haven't read the comic, but from what I understand, this was the story that pioneered the notion of the Elseworlds tale: taking familiar characters and putting them in an entirely different scenario.

As a film on its own, this is another good addition to the DC animated movies roster. It delivers everything you'd expect of a Victorian-era Batman versus Jack the Ripper: a legitimately good mystery, plus one of my favourite takes on Selina Kyle ever.


My rating: 80%



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