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

"Piranha" (1978)

Posted : 2 months, 2 weeks ago on 3 May 2018 08:48 (A review of Piranha)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

When flesh-eating piranhas are accidentally released into a summer resort's rivers, the guests become their next meal.

As it's a creature feature, I didn't expect much. What I got was a mixed bag. Some elements were surprisingly brilliant, like the relationship between the daughter and the camp counsellor, and the plan to distract the guard – which, in a sense, was ahead of its time. But there were also moments that were just plain unbearable, like the actual execution of said plan.

Plus, this movie came out in the wake of Jaws and the influence is undeniable, but the movie itself makes it clear that it's aware of this, even throwing in a Jaws arcade game at the beginning.


My rating: 45%


I won't bother reviewing the sequel, by the way, because there's honestly not much to say. The first movie at least has its moments, but the sequel flat-out sucks. The acting is awful, everything looks cheap, and you'd never guess that James Cameron would go on to become one of the greatest directors of all time.



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"Death Wish" (1974)

Posted : 2 months, 2 weeks ago on 3 May 2018 08:47 (A review of Death Wish (1974))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


A New York City architect becomes a one-man vigilante squad after his wife is murdered by street punks; he randomly goes out and kills would-be muggers on the mean streets after dark.

The release of the recent remake finally gave me an excuse to get around to this one. :-) For me, it wasn't the most exciting film to watch. Personally, the 70s is probably my least favourite era of film, because it's the beginning of the time when grisly subjects and especially profanity were starting to become more commonplace, and they hadn't quite perfected it yet.

However, Death Wish does raise questions about dealing with crime that are still relevant today, especially given what made the news earlier this year. (It's not often that you'll hear me get political, but in this case it's kind of unavoidable.) It points out that America was founded on colonisation and war, so asks what's the point of giving guns to civilians in a nation that's become complacent and no longer needs to fight back. It critiques the justice system but also acknowledges the dangers of letting vigilantism go unopposed: anyone's interpretation of danger could be warped. In the end, it's an impasse.


My rating: 60%



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"Avengers: Infinity War" (2018)

Posted : 2 months, 2 weeks ago on 3 May 2018 08:38 (A review of Avengers: Infinity War)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

I can't help but feel that this movie was oversold. This is not what the last ten years have been building to! This is clearly just part one of two; we still have to wait another year for the real payoff.

I hated how the Russos filmed their action scenes in the Captain America sequels, but I'm happy to report that this time they learned their lesson. :-) The camerawork here is always effective: I could clearly see what was happening at all times. The action scenes themselves are as creative and thrilling as ever; I loved watching the various powers clash.

I like their solution to the issue of having so many players: the cast is divided into groups, each with their own agenda. The movie did feel kind of hollow, though, as the size of the cast left very little room for character development. As a result, they felt more like chess pieces than actual characters.

What sets this movie apart from all the rest, though, is the ending. I won't spoil it, obviously, but I will say it's a marvellous cliffhanger, and it gives me hope that this movie will improve in hindsight when Avengers 4 comes out.

As of right now, my impression is: while still good, it's far from my favourite MCU film.


My rating: 80%



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"Isle of Dogs" (2018)

Posted : 2 months, 2 weeks ago on 3 May 2018 08:35 (A review of Isle of Dogs)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


An outbreak of dog flu has spread through the city of Megasaki, Japan, and Mayor Kobayashi has demanded all dogs to be sent to Trash Island. A young boy named Atari sets out to find his lost dog, Spots, with the help of five other dogs.

Wes Anderson is one of those auteur directors: he has a style that's distinctly his own, and you can always tell when you're watching one of his movies. I'd describe them as eccentric and surreal, but very relaxed about it.

As for this one… This is my favourite Wes Anderson movie that I've seen to date. It's a compelling and heartfelt adventure that flows like a dance at times. The dialogue is uniquely blunt and leisurely, and the stop-motion animation is outstanding.

I'd say, with the possible exception of Black Panther, this is my favourite movie of the year so far.


My rating: 85%



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"The Last Guardian" (PS4)

Posted : 4 months, 3 weeks ago on 22 February 2018 12:15 (A review of The Last Guardian)

The tale of a young boy's friendship with a griffin-like creature named Trico who escaped captivity.

I find one of AngryJoe's catchphrases relevant here: "You done fucked it up!" In theory, an adventure game with a lovable animal sidekick sounds right up my street, but ultimately this game's presentation really annoyed me. But everyone else seems to adore it, so, like my Red Dead Redemption review, I think I'll have to exceed my 250-word limit on this one, because I'll have to work extra hard to explain myself.

For starters, I never got into the story. Right off the bat, it provides no context whatsoever, right down to the player character being a personality-free blank slate (that's one of my biggest pet peeves). I wasn't invested in the journey because I had no clue what kind of world the game was presenting, how normal it was for people to see fantastical creatures like Trico, or why we were going to the places that we were; I immediately wondered why we were going towards the ruins instead of away from them and off into the wide world. The minimal narration did nothing to help; in fact, it was often downright useless. I think I would have preferred if there'd been no dialogue at all, so it was all left open to interpretation.

It was probably because of said lack of investment that I very often found the puzzles inscrutable. Again, I had no idea what the ultimate goal was, or exactly what the character and game mechanics were capable of. I had to keep looking up a walkthrough, and my response, more often than not, was, "How was I supposed to know I could do that?!" Compare that to my all-time favourite game, Portal: that too is all about puzzles, but the components and mechanics are introduced gradually, allowing you to grow accustomed to each one in turn and recognise which ones to call on later. The Last Guardian, on the other hand, has no such learning curve, so I was repeatedly left clueless about where to go or what to do. No one else seems to have this issue, though; I've since watched Let's Plays where the player immediately figures out everything that stumped me. So, once again, I think it all stems from my finding the story so unfathomable. I never got into the game's mindset because it didn't do enough to invite me in.

I had some major issues with the controls, too. Not only were the directional controls very floaty, making it hard to steer the character at times, but I found the button functions to be counterintuitive. I've been told that it uses the Japanese button mapping, and I simply never got the hang of it. I'm used to the circle button (or, for Xbox players, B) being the universal command for cancel. In the menus that was the case, but in the game, I kept instinctively pressing circle to let go of ledges, plus I sometimes pressed X to jump and ended up letting go by accident. And don't even get me started on climbing Trico and especially trying to jump off him!

Speaking of which, I didn't even like Trico, partly because of my overwhelming frustration with the gameplay and partly because I simply never found him cute (I'm assuming it's a male). He just doesn't have very expressive eyes. I know the idea was to make him seem like a real animal, but he's clearly a work of fantasy, so why not go all the way? (Not to mention, I found it hard to take him seriously as an adorable companion when he made the same sound effects as the raptors from Jurassic Park!) That and his reaction time to given commands is often so slow that, half the time, I couldn't tell if he was flat-out refusing or if the AI was just being difficult. Sometimes, I could swear the game was glitched, that the AI was just straight-up broken. And yes, that's all I saw him as: just an often uncooperative AI.

But, with all that said, it wasn't an entirely negative experience; I did enjoy parts of it. The graphics really succeed in making the landscapes look stunning; in fact, this was the first game to convince me to use the PS4's share function to post a few screenshots. :-) One personal highlight of mine was the first hanging eye section, which brought out in full the vertigo I get from looking up at high things; whenever I had to look skywards while climbing, I felt distinctly sick. I also liked when you have to avoid the gaze of the rotating suits of armour. …Actually, I've just realised something: all my favourite sections are when you get separated from Trico! Maybe it's because those parts are usually self-explanatory.

In conclusion, I'm sorry to say, I'm not a fan of this game. I honestly thought I'd enjoy it, but it turned out to be one of the least fun gaming experiences I've ever had. For me, it was a vicious circle: my investment was killed because it wasn't intuitive, and it wasn't intuitive because it wasn't engaging.


My rating: 45%


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"Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series"(PC)

Posted : 7 months ago on 16 December 2017 11:34 (A review of Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series)

The Guardians of the Galaxy discover an item of great power and must protect it from Hala the Accuser, who wants it for herself.

Now, I've made it no secret that I'm not a fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. When I first heard that Telltale would be adapting that title next, I was apprehensive at first, but hopeful at the same time, given Telltale's track record. And I'm happy to report that, once again, they struck gold. :)

To put it simply, this game counters every issue I have with the movies. For starters, I like these versions of the characters far better than their film counterparts – especially Mantis, the most adorable ball of adorable ever! :) And not only is it funny, but it waits until you're already in the carefree comedic mindset before introducing the heavy drama involving Peter's mother, thus making it truly gut-wrenching. See, that's how it should have been done!

The graphics may be Telltale's best yet. The characters look fully three-dimensional, and you can even see the detail on Drax's skin.

Still, there are some minor things that really bug me. Not to spoil anything, but the team disbands at the end of episode four, and the reason I got for Gamora leaving is incredibly flimsy. And the final episode, though still satisfying, is far from Telltale's strongest finale.

But, that aside, I still consider this one of my top Telltale favourites simply because it delivers everything I felt the movies lacked.


My rating: 95%


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"Until Dawn" (PS4)

Posted : 10 months, 4 weeks ago on 24 August 2017 06:30 (A review of Until Dawn)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

A group of teenagers spend the weekend in a ski lodge on the anniversary of their friends' disappearance, unaware that they are not alone.

I went in expecting an interactive slasher flick, as that's what the game had been marketed as, and, since I'd heard the player's choices played a major part in it, I was looking forward to being able to craft a horror story where the characters were actually smart. :) But it turned out to be something much more intriguing than that. I loved finding clues and piecing together the mystery of what the characters were up against, and it proved to be quite a fascinating back-story. And do I even need to say I didn't see the major plot twist coming?

As with any good horror title, the atmosphere is just perfect, from the outdoor snowscapes to the dark corridors and caves.

It's hard to choose my favourite character, but I really liked the developing romance between Chris and Ashley; I was rooting for that to work out. But I can tell you this: the only character I flat-out disliked was Emily. God, I hated her!

The only thing that keeps me from loving this game is that a lot of the dialogue doesn't flow naturally; I doubt even conversations in real life would be this scatterbrained, no matter how panicked people were.

But aside from that, this is a grade-A horror story, and a masterful showcase of choice- and consequence-based gameplay.


My rating: 80%



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"Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception" (PS3)

Posted : 10 months, 4 weeks ago on 24 August 2017 06:27 (A review of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Nathan Drake embarks on a quest in search of the Atlantis of the Sands while battling an ancient sinister organisation.

Each of the Uncharted games stands out for different reasons. The first one had the best characters, the second one had the best cinematics, and this one has the best overall story. The plot always kept me interested. The entire Rameses section turned out to be one big cul de sac, but for the most part, every scene flowed together quite naturally. Not to mention, we get some insight into Nate's past.

I love how the desert section was handled! You feel like you're right there in Nate's shoes.

One of my favourite aspects was reading into Nate and Elena's relationship. I've absolutely shipped those two since Uncharted 1, and was overjoyed to know that they were married between games – even if they are separated and estranged by this point. I never stopped hoping they'd work it out, though; they're just too perfect together.

Finally, this game incorporates stealth more than either of its two predecessors. Now, that's more my playing style: avoiding combat rather than engaging in it! :) Unfortunately, way too often, I couldn't see any feasible way to get through an entire area stealthily, and the series' usual stress of gun combat would start all over again.

In conclusion, I'm not sure how many will agree with me on this, but this might actually be my favourite of the series so far.


My rating: 85%



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"Uncharted 2: Among Thieves" (PS3)

Posted : 10 months, 4 weeks ago on 24 August 2017 06:24 (A review of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Nathan Drake goes on a quest for Marco Polo's lost fleet, and must rely on those closest to him in order to find the Cintamani Stone.

This sequel is essentially more of the same, so it doesn't feel quite as fresh this time, but some elements are done better. The already impressive graphics, for example, have taken a further step up, the final boss fight is much more enjoyable, and the gameplay has some astounding new innovations.

It begins with one of the greatest opening sequences I've ever seen in a game: an injured Nate has to escape from a train dangling over a cliff by climbing up the outside of the carriages. And that's where this game really shines: there are some amazingly dynamic gameplay sections that make you feel as if you're playing a massive blockbuster action scene.

Just like with the first game, its only letdown, I felt, was the shooting sections. I always dreaded the next one because they each made for a highly stressful time, and the sheer amount of them was just plain draining. The only exception, I found, was using a turret or mounted gun, because having one fixed viewpoint made things much simpler somehow. The rest of the time, because of the third-person view, I found it nigh impossible to move and shoot at the same time.

Overall, I'd say it's about equally as good as the first game: it offers some improvements, but the first one felt unique and unprecedented.


My rating: 80%



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"Uncharted: Drake

Posted : 10 months, 4 weeks ago on 24 August 2017 06:20 (A review of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Treasure hunter Nathan Drake embarks on the adventure of his life searching for the legendary treasure of El Dorado while fighting a group of mercenaries.

This is basically a classic treasure hunt adventure story, but one with great characters. Every single character is instantly appealing and joyous to have an adventure with.

Also, knowing that this game came fairly early in the PS3's life cycle makes the graphics that much more impressive; they gave a supreme demonstration of what the console was capable of.

In terms of gameplay, I loved exploring the environments and solving puzzles. There was one part where, no joke, I actually started singing "I am so smart" like Homer Simpson! :) My least favourite aspect was always the gunfights, because I'm just not that kind of gamer; I simply don't have fun shooting and being shot at incessantly – plus I'm a terrible shot.

Elena is made into a damsel in distress towards the end, and I'd be lying if I said that didn't bother me, but then, I really did want to rescue her because I genuinely liked her as a character.

I thoroughly enjoyed this game – or at least, all the parts that didn't involve using guns. I love the graphics, I love the story, I love the sense of adventure, but above all, of course, I love the characters.


My rating: 80%



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