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All reviews - Movies (141) - TV Shows (2) - Books (4) - Games (19)

"Mass Effect 2" (PC)

Posted : 2 months, 2 weeks ago on 4 June 2017 03:28 (A review of Mass Effect 2)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


After being revived from death and having to join Cerberus (a pro-human organisation) without a choice, Commander Shepard must assemble a team, battle a new threat and make tough choices in order to save the galaxy once more.

Mass Effect 2, in my opinion, is a marked improvement on the first game, and the main reason for that is because the entire premise is focused on character development. The goal is to put a team together, so as you get to know the companions joining you on your adventure, you're guaranteed to grow attached to at least some of them. That's how it was with me, anyway. :) Except for Jack, I liked every single member of my squad, new and familiar faces alike, so by the time it got to the climax, I legitimately didn't want any of them to die.

By this point, I'd developed Shepard into a fully-fledged hero who tried his utmost to preserve life and make alliances if at all possible.

Not to mention, this is where I had Shepard find love. Male Shepard and Tali will always be my OTP, because once their romance gets going, every single scene they share together is nothing short of adorable.

To sum it up, this game engaged my emotions in a way that very few other pieces of entertainment have. This is my personal favourite of the Mass Effect trilogy, and potentially one of my new favourite games of all time.


My rating: 90%



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"Mass Effect" (PC)

Posted : 2 months, 2 weeks ago on 4 June 2017 03:26 (A review of Mass Effect)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


In 2183, Shepard, an elite human soldier, takes command of the starship Normandy and pursues a rogue Spectre agent named Saren. It transpires that Saren's goal is to bring back the Reapers, a highly advanced machine race believed to eradicate all organic life every fifty thousand years.

I have to admit, it took me a while to get into this game, because it has to set up an entire universe, so it throws a lot of information at you in rapid succession. I could probably spend this entire review just describing the world of Mass Effect in detail! :) But, to its credit, it never distracts you from the central goal: you're always aware that you're trying to stop Saren. That focus is what keeps you interested in exploring all these different worlds, and the final climax is just incredible.

Now, in terms of the main character… I mostly played Shepard as myself, but with a bit of a reserved and cynical edge, because his back-story involved the trauma of losing his entire squad in battle. I imagined Shepard as someone who knew the cost of war and knew when to be direct and get down to business, but he was far from heartless: he tried to help everyone whenever he could, and very rarely did he lose patience.

Overall, I didn't love this game, but it still held my interest and gained momentum as it progressed, and I was most definitely interested in playing the sequels.


My rating: 80%



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"Wonder Woman" (2017)

Posted : 2 months, 2 weeks ago on 4 June 2017 03:18 (A review of Wonder Woman)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


When pilot Steve Trevor crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana, princess of the Amazons, leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

After three solid disappointments in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, I was willing to give Warner Bros. one more chance with this movie, but this was officially their last one. And… sadly, it didn't quite rise to the challenge, but it made a valiant effort.

The first half sucked, thanks to disjointed editing (mainly during the opening exposition) and some truly painful awkward dialogue. I also got really sick of the constant use of slow motion, and the film makes Diana look naïve for believing bedtime stories.

However, the movie finally perks up when Diana marches across a no man's land. That scene was simply glorious, because it's the first time in these movies that we've seen the characters acting like heroes! :) It's terrific! …But then the movie falters again in the third act, after an extremely predictable twist.

To sum it up, I have very mixed feelings on this movie, which is more than I can say for any of the three DCEU movies before it. But it just doesn't hold a candle to the 2009 animated Wonder Woman, and it still killed any interest I had in seeing the upcoming DCEU entries: Justice League or any of the rest. That's it, I am done.


My rating: 55%



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"Alien: Covenant" (2017)

Posted : 2 months, 2 weeks ago on 4 June 2017 03:15 (A review of Alien: Covenant)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

Prometheus was a movie that I liked at first, but now, looking back, I still think it's visually stunning but I can't get past what complete morons the characters are. This sequel, while not devoid of stupid decisions on the characters' part, doesn't take their brainlessness to nearly the same extreme. But this one has its own problem: the characters have little to no personality at all. As a result, you don't care about any of them – they really are just there to be alien fodder – which drains the film of any real excitement.

Once again, the androids are the most interesting characters. I'd say you don't necessarily need to watch Prometheus to get into this one, because the opening scene tells you all you need to know about David and explains his actions later on.

But I think the worst scene by far is the nighttime fight scene in the field. I really thought Ridley Scott was above the shaky cam and sloppy editing bullshit that we see so often today!

And the ending… if you don't see it coming from a mile away, then you're clearly not even trying!

On the whole, though, I'd still say I liked it just a tad better than Prometheus. Both films are equally middle-of-the-road, but I'll take bland over insultingly stupid any day.


My rating: 55%



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"Ghost in the Shell" (2017)

Posted : 2 months, 2 weeks ago on 4 June 2017 03:12 (A review of Ghost in the Shell)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: a human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world's most dangerous criminals.

Let me preface this by saying I haven't read the Ghost in the Shell manga – I've only seen the classic 1995 movie – so I came at this movie from a different perspective than a hardcore fan might: I was simply comparing one movie to another. As a remake, it gave me a somewhat different story, yes, but it came across to me as an extremely derivative one. A cyborg getting flashes of memory from their past life and trying to figure out their identity? Now, where have I heard that before? Yeah, you get my drift: the plot is literally just RoboCop! Any similarities to Ghost in the Shell are purely superficial references, like the invisible street fight, the underwater scene and the climactic tank battle. (Speaking of which, that scene seems surprisingly so much smaller and less grandiose than the animated version.)

Even the villain is a letdown: gone is the fascinating Puppet Master, to be replaced by just another victim of the corrupt system.

I liked the original film, but it didn't wow me like it did so many other people. But even so, I found this movie to be an insult to its predecessor. It's dull, uninspired, and apparently owes more to RoboCop than it does to Ghost in the Shell.


My rating: 40%



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"Moby Dick" (Herman Melville)

Posted : 4 months, 3 weeks ago on 29 March 2017 11:27 (A review of Moby Dick (Usborne Classics Retold))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


You all know the story: sailor Ishmael tells the story of the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaler the Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick, the white whale that once crippled him.

I'm sure this goes without saying, but this is considered one of the all-time great literary classics. However, I confess, I'm not talking about the original text here, but a retelling from Usborne. I tried to read the original, but I'm afraid the old-fashioned writing style was incomprehensible to me; I'm not a scholar by any means.

So I don't know how much of the text the new writer, Henry Brook, kept intact, but he certainly conveyed the build-up to the voyage, the enormity of the ocean, the sense of isolation, the passage of time and, most importantly, Ahab's ever-growing obsession.

Some lines can be taken as great life lessons, like how no one should be too proud to obey a few orders because, "All of us are slaves to our stomachs, aren't we?"

Many people have noted the book's Shakespearean influences, and I'm no different. In particular, the idea of Ahab thinking he's invincible because of the apparently nonsensical prophecies is right out of Macbeth.

All in all, this Usborne Classics Retold version is the ideal way to experience the story for a casual reader like me. It's not perfect, but I can now see what made Moby Dick so influential, and it's still an engaging read.


My rating: 80%



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"Ghost in the Shell" (1995)

Posted : 4 months, 3 weeks ago on 28 March 2017 08:27 (A review of Ghost in the Shell)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg policewoman, and her partner Batou hunt a mysterious and powerful hacker known as the Puppet Master.

This movie, often considered one of the greatest anime films of all time, has been on my watchlist for a while now, and the new American remake gave me the perfect excuse to bump it up the list. :)

Much like Get Out (which I just reviewed), this is another one that I felt, while still fun to watch, was far more interesting for its themes and topics for conversation. In fact, I watched Chris Stuckmann's review after seeing the movie, and his insights and analyses are just superb, bringing up stuff I would never have even thought of.

As a casual viewer, my impression is that the narrative is solid, and of course the animation is consistently outstanding, but the sequence before the unidentified female cyborg shows up serves no apparent purpose and just grinds the movie to a complete halt.

One thing that threw me off was that it ended far sooner than I expected. It turned out the DVD cover had given a much longer run time than the film actually has: 125 minutes instead of 83.

In conclusion, I enjoyed this movie, but I don't quite think I'm ready to consider it one of my favourite animated films, at least not yet.


My rating: 80%



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"The Wolverine" (2013)

Posted : 4 months, 3 weeks ago on 28 March 2017 08:21 (A review of The Wolverine)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


When Wolverine is summoned to Japan by an old acquaintance, he is embroiled in a conflict that forces him to confront his own demons.

I thought I should watch at least one of the other Wolverine movies before Logan, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine has such a bad reputation that I didn't even think twice about choosing this one.

If you're just expecting an action movie, a string of cheap thrills, that's pretty much all you'll get. The narrative doesn't really do anything compelling with Logan's character aside from raising the stakes by taking away his healing ability, leaving him much more vulnerable.

Personally, I was far more interested in figuring out where this movie fits in the X-Men film series timeline. Well, the Jean Grey hallucinations answered that pretty early on: it takes place after X-Men 3. There's also a teaser at the end that finally bridges the gap between the original trilogy and Days of Future Past.

Overall, I'd say it's the definition of good but not great. It's a lot of fun, but not much more.


My rating: 75%



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"Power Rangers" (2017)

Posted : 4 months, 3 weeks ago on 28 March 2017 08:16 (A review of Power Rangers)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


A group of high school kids get infused with unique superpowers and harness their abilities in order to save the world.

First, let me answer the most obvious question. I did not grow up with Power Rangers. I was the right age for it when it came out, but I was just never interested. But the few reviews I saw for this movie, oddly enough, recommended it more to non-fans than to fans. I can see where they're coming from.

By far the film's biggest strength is the characters. It really takes its time to set them up, flesh them out and make them genuinely likable.

And, while it's refreshing to see a blockbuster that's driven by characters rather than action, the visual aesthetic lets it down for me. The bulk of the film looks dark and monochromatic, and the camerawork is pretty shaky, so it's not very appealing to look at.

Then, in the third act, when they finally become the Power Rangers and the action kicks in, it's every inch the CGI shitfest I surmised from the trailer. I've said this before and I'll say it again: I am so tired of effects that are supposed to be live action looking like video game graphics – and PS2 graphics, at that!

So I commend this movie for successfully taking a very silly franchise seriously, but it still falls into many of the same traps I complain about with movies these days. For me, the end result is just okay.


My rating: 60%



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"Life" (2017)

Posted : 4 months, 3 weeks ago on 28 March 2017 08:13 (A review of Life)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form in the soil samples from Mars, which now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.

This movie, I'd say, is just generally competent. The script is well written and keeps the tension going, but the characters aren't really interesting enough to separate it from the myriad of sci-fi horror out there. Though I do like how none of them are overtly stupid; whenever someone does the wrong thing, it's merely out of ignorance. Also, thinking about how much time they must spend in each other's company, how close they must become, makes it easy to feel their heartbreak when one of them dies – let alone two within the space of half an hour!

There's nothing cartoonish about the violence; it feels very grounded and grisly.

So I spent most of the movie admiring the craft but hardly on the edge of my seat. …And then the ending happened! I'm not going to say exactly what happens, but I have to say, it came across like a cruel, sick joke! That was a "fuck you" ending! However, I don't think it detracts from the enjoyability of the film as a whole.

Overall, it's good, but nothing special.


My rating: 70%



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