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

"Don't Hang Up" (2017)

Posted : 1 year ago on 8 July 2017 07:16 (A review of Don't Hang Up (2016))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


An evening of drunken prank calls becomes a nightmare for a pair of teenagers when a mysterious stranger turns their own game against them – with deadly consequences.

I think this movie might have set a record: literally the moment I saw the main characters, I immediately despised them! I hated their habitual prank calls just for online popularity, and I hated them all the more for being so loud and rambunctious. So at first, I was fully supporting the stranger when he started punishing Brady: he deserved it. I drew the line at the kidnapped parents, though – which also made me think, "Well, Brady, now your antics have put innocent lives in danger! I hope you're proud of yourself!"

I had slightly more sympathy for Sam because he seemed to have much more of a conscience, plus he was smart enough to spot the clue that gave the game away.

I'll give the movie some credit for trying to buck the trend of horror characters acting stupidly. Our heroes try to do the sensible things almost immediately, but they're prevented from either calling the police or leaving the house. But the things the villain pulls get to the point of absurdity; you start to wonder, how exactly did he hijack the cell phone signal, and how does he have that much control over the house's power?

Overall, it's just another disposable horror flick. It tries to be smarter than the genre's average, but that also ends up being its undoing.


My rating: 45%



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"Spider-Man: Homecoming" (2017)

Posted : 1 year ago on 8 July 2017 07:13 (A review of Spider-Man: Homecoming)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter-ego Spider-Man, as a new threat, the Vulture, emerges.

Like many others, I was glad when I heard Marvel Studios would be doing a Spider-Man movie; I hoped they'd show Sony how it was done. And for the most part, they did. :) This is, hands down, the best depiction of Spider-Man we've ever seen in a movie: Tom Holland perfectly captures both the humble high school geek and the wisecracking hero.

The narrative is streamlined and focused, too. The overall theme is of a lowly hero trying to prove he's good enough for the big leagues. I also noticed that Spider-Man was at his most competent when he was trying to help people; while fighting criminals, he consistently got his ass kicked. And, while I appreciate that focus on valuing life, it did get kind of frustrating seeing the hero constantly fail. I'm all for imperfect heroes, but this movie went way too far.

However, my biggest complaint with this movie is, during the action scenes, there were some moments that were filmed so hectically that I couldn't see what was happening. I'm really getting sick of that!

Overall, it's not perfect, but still a solid, terrifically fun adventure that kept my interest thanks to a hugely likable cast of characters, led by hero who unquestionably felt like Spider-Man.


My rating: 85%



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"Baby Driver" (2017)

Posted : 1 year ago on 8 July 2017 07:11 (A review of Baby Driver (2017))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

As this is a heist drama, the only way I could do justice to the story would be to describe the whole plot, and obviously I'd rather not do that. :) But it's not so much the details of the heist that hold your attention: it's the characters. Every single character is so brilliantly written and realised that you remember and grow attached to every single one. And on that note, the performances are all top-notch. Ansel Elgort is great as the eponymous Baby: he's equal parts funny, aloof and vulnerable, and his chemistry with Lily James is superb. One of my favourite cast members is Jon Hamm as Buddy, who's probably the character who changes the most over the course of the narrative.

But what makes this truly special is Edgar Wright's direction. He's simply one of the best directors working today, and his flawless eye for camerawork and editing is once again on full display here. Just don't go in expecting the full-on comedies he's done before. Yes, there are comedy elements, but they're there to enhance the connection to the characters so that we fear for them later on.

And yes, they do play the Simon & Garfunkel song the movie's named after. :)

I loved this movie. I'd say it's definitely a top contender for my favourite movie of the year so far.


My rating: 85%



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"Batman: The Telltale Series" (PS4)

Posted : 1 year ago on 24 June 2017 01:33 (A review of Batman: The Telltale Series)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


Bruce Wayne struggles to deal with newly surfaced damning family secrets while, as Batman, fighting a new threat: a militia group calling themselves "the Children of Arkham".

When I first heard that Telltale was going to do a Batman game, I suspected it might focus more on Bruce Wayne than Batman, which would better suit Telltale's style – and it'd be a welcome new approach. I predicted correctly, and the result didn't disappoint. :) The problems he has to deal with as Bruce Wayne in this story are, quite simply, stellar.

That's not to say it doesn't deliver on the Batman front, though. In particular, if you choose to visit Mayor Hill as Batman, the resulting scene is too cool for words! :)

Now, spoilers here, but what I love most about this game is how creative it gets with the Batman mythos, with some ingenious new twists. I love its idea that Bruce Wayne and Oswald Cobblepot were childhood friends. I love Bruce questioning the foundation of his entire crusade after learning the truth about his parents. I love who they picked for the Children of Arkham leader's identity, and the deeply disturbing reason why. And I love the Joker treating Bruce as a friend and partner in their first meeting, which adds a whole new dynamic to their future relationship.

Overall, I wouldn't say it's the best I've seen from Telltale story-wise, but it's still on par in terms of characterisation, respect for the franchise in question, and subverting your expectations.


My rating: 85%



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"Dragon Age: Origins" (PS3)

Posted : 1 year ago on 20 June 2017 06:33 (A review of Dragon Age: Origins)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


An Archdemon is amassing an army of Darkspawn, and the player, one of the last remaining Grey Wardens, must work to unite the fractured armies and save the land of Ferelden.

If you're one of this game's many fans, I'm afraid I must disappoint you: I can't quite concur. At times, the game almost won me over. I always enjoyed talking to my companions, especially developing the romance with Morrigan, and I loved some particular sections: the Sloth Demon level (in theory, at least), the Brecilian Ruins, the escape from Fort Drakon, and the riddles protecting the Urn of Sacred Ashes. I could probably write a further 250 words or more just about my character's personal journey. :)

But it's all ruined by the most frequent gameplay mechanic: the combat. I hate this game's combat system with a fiery passion! Your attacks are sluggish, and the enemies seem to have an unfair advantage because they swarm you in insanely big groups and attack faster than you can fight back – or heal, for that matter! Maybe I'm just not a good enough gamer, but in any case, it's for this reason that I haven't yet seen the ending: because I found the final boss battle to be so gruelling that I knew my efforts to beat it would enrage me to the point that it would be hazardous to my health!

So my overall impression of this game is mixed at best. I enjoyed myself somewhat, but only when I wasn't fighting.


My rating: 65%


Actually, after writing that comment that I could probably go into detail about my character's personal journey, I decided to do just that. :) Check my blog post [Link removed - login to see] for a detailed account of how I played and what I felt was going through my character's head. But spoiler warning: I will be talking about some things that happen near the end.



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"The Walking Dead: A New Frontier" (PC)

Posted : 1 year, 1 month ago on 4 June 2017 03:35 (A review of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


A teenage Clementine and a new survivor named Javier are brought together when a new threat worse than the dead arises.

Telltale's original Walking Dead game is still one of their finest achievements, a true masterpiece of emotional and choice-based storytelling. I wasn't a big fan of The Walking Dead: Season Two, though, because of how perpetually downbeat and depressing its tone was. This third season has a very different tone to the first two: it's heavy on action and excitement. I have heard complaints that it relies more on action than emotion, but I'll gladly take that over wallowing in melancholy like Season Two did. Besides, it still doesn't hold back on the emotional gut-punches, especially at the end of episode one.

Telltale's graphics are definitely getting better; there's a noticeable improvement in the character models here.

Now, I'm going to give a minor spoiler alert here, because I just have to comment on the ending (or at least the one I got). To my surprise – and relief – it ends on a hopeful and relatively upbeat note. Some people might see that as a cop-out, but given the nature of this franchise, and especially after having just played Mass Effect 3, I for one needed a happy ending!

In conclusion, I'm happy to say, Telltale's The Walking Dead is back in my good books. :) A New Frontier is definitely not as good as Season One (nothing can top that), but much more to my taste than Season Two.


My rating: 85%



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"Mass Effect 3" (PC)

Posted : 1 year, 1 month ago on 4 June 2017 03:30 (A review of Mass Effect 3)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


The Reapers, built up since game one, have attacked the galaxy in full force, and Commander Shepard must work to unite all the surviving races against the enemy.

I love how the three Mass Effect games can be clearly distinguished from each other. This one is basically a war simulator, with a focus on managing your assets and making alliances to unite a fleet against the Reapers. Each time you open the galaxy map, you can see the Reapers present in more systems.

By now, my Shepard had fully become the hero the galaxy needed: a peacemaker who possessed the intellect to unite bitter rivals, but still had no sympathy for the Reapers. That doesn't mean he didn't feel the pressure, though, of so many people counting on him.

I have to admit, the main thing I wanted out of this game was for Shepard and Tali's relationship to work out. I desperately wanted to see them end up happy together – and to hear Shepard tell Tali he loved her, just once.

But now let's address the elephant in the room: the ending. I must fully echo the assessment you've most likely heard abundantly: I hate the ending with a fiery passion! I already wrote a two-thousand-word essay on my blog explaining why (see [Link removed - login to see]).

But aside from the ending, I was still very impressed with this game overall. It's every bit as fun, captivating and emotional as the other two. I just wish it had all ended differently.


My rating: 85%



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"Mass Effect 2" (PC)

Posted : 1 year, 1 month 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 : 1 year, 1 month 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 : 1 year, 1 month 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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