Posts tagged “review

Edge Of Darkness Review

Originally for Campus Times, not enough room to be printed.

Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) is a well respected Boston detective having put away many drug dealers and criminals in his career.  His daughter Emma Craven returns home for the first time in months to visit her dad. They settle down and have dinner, but upon leaving the house later that night Emma is shot right in front of him by a masked gunman who escapes. Police are quick to assume that Thomas Craven was the intended target. However through investigating his daughter’s death, not all is as it seems. Her boss (Danny Huston)is less than co-operative and  appears to be stopping him, and a strange ‘fixer’ (Ray Winstone) is giving him help for some reason. The more he investigates, the more it seems Emma Craven may have been the target all along…..

Word of warning: I will be comparing this to Taken. Edge of Darkness is the big screen adaption of an old British TV series of the same name, both produced by Michael Wearing.  Mel Gibson returns to the big screen after leaving the acting biz for quite some time, and his first leading role since Signs. The directing wasn’t really working out for you anyway Mel. Thomas Craven is dealing with some serious guilt trips, and Gibson plays him very well. This is vintage Mel Gibson. His Boston accent is probably the best thing in the film, along with his performance overall. The flashback scenes that show old memories of Craven and his daughter are very touching you definitely feel bad for the guy.  The action scenes are fast paced, exciting and very graphic.  I expected a few fist fights and maybe a shoot-out but when they do happen you won’t see it coming. It’s the equivalent of something jumping out and giving you a fright in a horror film. It is unfortunate there are only about 3 or 4 of them in the entire 2 hour long film. Some of the dialogue gets very interesting but doesn’t reach the levels of Frost/Nixon for example, which is what I wanted and was expecting.

Ray Winstone puts on a very good performance but isn’t used nearly enough.  He appears at random moments to progress the plot, but his side-story about not having long to live doesn’t really affect the story as a whole. His role was initially given to Robert De Niro, but De Niro walked out on the first day of shooting due to creative differences. The plot can get a bit complex, and I found myself confused at some points but the film kept going and getting more confusing in its conspiracy theory plot. I’ve mentioned the action scenes already, but as cool as they are it feels like they try to make it up for the lack of action in the last 30 mins. During his investigation Craven uses the same method of questioning repeatedly.”Did you know my daughta?” followed by “Do you know my daughta?” and then maybe “Okay, this guy says he don’t know my daughta but he sez you know my daughta?” Repeat this multiple times in thick Boston accent for the first half of the film.

Now for the fairly negative points. This film is a long, and noticeably long. A general rule of cinema is that if you realise how long a film is, you generally aren’t enjoying it. I got that a few times. All the scenes for very drawn out, probably for dramatic effect that is never quite successfully reached. Overall the plot just reminds me too much of Taken. And I would rather watch Taken. While Mel Gibson is great, to be honest you could have just cut the entire film down to one hour, added 30 minutes worth of Danny Glover and made it Lethal Weapon 5. Edge of Darkness isn’t the worst film in the world but it was disappointing. Mel Gibson investigating his daughter’s death while being watched by some creepy business-type guys just doesn’t compare to Liam Neeson killing the entire Albanian population in a big to get his daughter back. Watchable, but you shouldn’t go out of your way to see it. Seek out Taken instead.

5/10

Advertisements

Final Fantasy 8 Review — Campus Times

Playing: Final Fantasy 8 on my psp

Watching: Big Bang Theory Season 2

Listening: Paulo Nutini

Quote Of The Day: Gerard Doyle – “Hold on a sec my nob is vibrating…..my phone I mean.”

FF8 centres around a young man named Squall who is part of SEED, and a student at a military academy called Balamb Garden .SEED is are basically mercenaries paid by the academy. He and his friends are drawn into an international war, but will also have to protect the world from an evil sorceress who is using the war for her own purposes. Yes I know, it sounds like a weird story but I’ve played stranger games. FF8 might seem strange from reading that basic premise, but after just an hour or two of playing the story and characters are intriguing enough to suck you in and keep you hooked. Originally released way back in October 1999, it was immediately compared to its predecessor Final Fantasy 7. Some people will say that FF7 is the best Playstation game of all time. I’m inclined to agree in parts, but Final Fantasy 8 comes in at least the top 10. I may as well mention that I’m a long time Final Fantasy fan. FF8 was the first one I actually owned, got it for Christmas in 1999, and I still have the original case and discs on my shelf.

Some of FF8’s strongest points are in its set pieces, characters and soundtrack. The opening two to three hours stand as one of the best openings for any game I’ve ever played. It gives you a brief introduction to characters, setting and gameplay, and then throws you into your SEED training mission. Pass it and Squall and friends will become fully fledged members of SEED. Travelling to the town nearby, you’re ushered onto a boat and given a mission briefing about the town you are going to have to liberate. Sound simple enough. Then the game switches to an FMV. Squall is out on deck and looking into the distance out of shot. Jets fly overhead, silhouetted against the glow of the full moon. He holds a map up in front of him showing the town and the battle plan, then leaves it down to reveal the town and the upcoming beach landing. Explosions are going off all over the site as your ship smashes through a wall in the bay and grinds to a halt on the beach, which is then filled with SEED members charging into the town. I could go on and on but that’s just within the first few hours of the game, and let’s just leaving the town is even better than the entrance. There’s not much detail I can go into with the story without spoiling something so just give it a chance and you’ll be drawn in.

The game is filled with exciting set-pieces and plot twists to keep you playing, unfortunately I can’t say the same for Squall. I can’t stand him. It should really go as a general rule of thumb, that your main character should be someone the players like and want to see succeed. I wanted to grabby by his scruffy head and smack some sense into him. Squall begins the story being quiet and moody and doesn’t really talk all that much, except to himself. Any normal character would end up changing somehow by the end of the game, like everyone else in the game does, but he stays moody the whole way through, bar a few parts where he does anything to rescue/defend the love interest called Rinoa. There are some genuine funny and exciting moments that stand out in the game, but every now and then it feels like Squall isn’t even there. It doesn’t cause a massive problem, nor does it ruin the overall enjoyment, but I’d rather have a proper hero than a moody teenager.

The soundtrack to the game is another strong point. Battle themes are fast paced and exciting, and the background music for towns is catchy and relaxing every now and then. I can’t say the same about the combat system though. Complicated is an understatement. You can summon guardian forces to help you out in battle and its pretty helpful except for when it takes nearly a minute for them to finish their snazzy attack, and all you want is to see how much damage it did.FF8 gets rid of the traditional ‘MP’ points found in almost every RPG, and replaces them with actually having to draw magic from enemies and points around the game, and then use them e.g. I draw 4 thunders from an enemy, and I can use thunder 4 times now, or I can use it to give me more health by equipping it to my health in the menu…….yeah I’ll just stick with saying it’s complicated. You’ll need the tutorials but getting your head around the system will mean you can take full advantage of it and make your characters super strong nearly halfway through the game.

Back when it was released, this game was pushing graphics to the limit. The FMV sequences are still better than most CG movies and go all out for scale, but the character models do look a bit blocky and grainy now. At the time we all had small televisions so it wasn’t really noticeable, but in the age of HD it can get annoying but rarely gets in the way. Another problem I’ve had since I got the game is the 4th disc. If you download it you’ll just choose a setting that tells the game you’re on the 4th disc. Anyway, once you get that far in the game, without spoiling the story all I can say is you aren’t allowed back into any towns or places around the game world apart from the final area. Not cool. I want to continue going around the place before I finish the game but you’re forced forward pretty much. The story ends up having somewhat too much of an emphasis on ‘love’ and ‘friendship’ towards the end, and I don’t think it really fit in with the war story the game starts out with. The villain of the game, the sorceress, is also rarely seen. She’s talked about through the game but it seems strange to have some almighty powerful villain that only shows up at pivotal points.

The game was originally released on 4 discs for the Playstation, but the reason I chose to review this is that the game has been re-released for download on the Playstation Store. So now you can download it for PS3 or PSP for €10, and that is an absolute steal for over 30 hours of gameplay. If you’ve played a Final Fantasy game before you owe it to yourself to spend a measly ten quid on a Playstation classic. If you haven’t played a Final Fantasy game before, then I’d highly recommend this or Final Fantasy 7.  It’s not my favourite Final Fantasy game, comes just outside my top 5 and it won’t convert people to RPG games but it’s definitely worth a try if you don’t want to spend all your money on the next Medal of Duty Call 17.

9/10


Paranormal Activity Review

I first saw The Blair Witch Project when I was 12. It scared the crap out of me. And because I’m an idiot, I thought it was real footage. It was only 2 or 3 years ago I discovered out it was only made to look like that. Paranormal Activity was shot in the same manner, like a documentary. The film focuses on young couple, Micah and Katie. Katie believes the house is haunted so Micah sets up a camera in the bedroom (doooorty) to see if anything is actually haunting them. The film is basically the footage captured on the camera.

To give a little back story Paranormal Activity was originally released to film festivals back in 2007 having been made on a budget of $15,000. By 2008 it made its way to DreamWorks and Stephen Spielberg. It scared the hell out of him, and he commissioned a remake for more cinemas. However when they screened the original film to a select audience, people left the screening they were so scared. The original film stayed, bar some changes to the ending, and was released in America in October making $103,847,000 , the most profitable independent film ever.

I don’t usually do scary films, or creepy/horror films in general. I hate the way they only scare you by making stuff jump out at you. The only horror film I liked lately was Drag Me To Hell which was horrifying just by being creepy and scary. No jumping out at you. Just scary. Paranormal Activity is like that. It won’t jump out at you. It will scare you. It will creepy you out. You know something is going to happen, but not what will happen or when. There’s no big monster or demon to frighten you. It ignores the horror film clichés like a group of people in the woods or a serial killer. There’s no gore, CGI or costumes either. It’s just a young couple trying to find out what’s going on in their house by recording everything that happens. And it’s terrifying. I had trouble getting to sleep after watching it because I kept thinking I could hear something in the hall walking towards my door or at my window. You become scared by what’s not even there. I’m finding hard to describe the way the film works at this point. I’ll just finish by saying you owe it to yourself to see Paranormal Activity. This is a rare film that only comes along once in a while. Appealing to both horror and casual fans alike, even the sceptics will be pleasantly surprised.


2012 Review

Divorced man trying to win back his wife and kids from stepdad. Government being stubborn and thinking only about themselves. Guy falling off a cliff and hanging on by one hand when everyone thinks he’s dead. Crazy guy predicting the end of the world. Directed by Roland Emmerich (he did Day After Tomorrow and Godzilla), 2012 has every possible cliché a disaster movie could have. Most of the time this ends up as a good thing. Unfortunately when it comes to 2012, the film is so cheesy with its acting and scenarios it goes from cool film, past so bad its good territory, and ends up in the “at least the CGI was good” region. And that’s probably the only standout high point about this film.

I haven’t seen John Cusack in a film since 1408. And he was pretty good in that. But I kind of feel sorry him this time. Poor guy is stuck with some of the worst lines you’ll ever hear in a disaster film. Lines like:“It’s not just California… it’s the whole world!”. Woody Harrelson plays the crazy guy predicting the government conspiracies etc and he ends up being one of the better parts of the film. Harrelson plays the role like he knows the entire film is ridiculous and is quite entertaining. Danny Glover, who I haven’t seen since Predator 2, is supposed to be a representation of Obama but spends the film performing his lines like he has a pole up his arse. He spaces everything out. “We….have a….situation….gentlemen”. GET ON WITH IT. I know he’s meant to be serious and dreading it but I’m falling asleep here. I just kept thinking of him shouting “Riggs!” in Lethal Weapon and giggling to myself.

For all its faults 2012 isn’t the worst disaster movie I’ve ever seen. That would be The Happening or The Core. There is a somewhat underlying comedic tone to the film, which is funny for a joke or two but characters sometimes make jokes at the worst possible time. Falling off a cliff worst possible time. However, I’ll give 2012 its due in that you do get your money’s worth purely from the CGI. Its excellent. And once they get the basic premise out of the way (something about the earth heating up) , you’re given a massive CGI destruction set piece every 15 minutes to keep you interested. Better than Day After Tomorrow by a long shot, but it’s no Independence Day.

2 Roland Emmerich’s out of 5.


Jennifer’s Body Review

Watching: Law and Order SVU

Listening To: The Fratellis

Quote: ” Hey wanna play a game? Games called its the fifties and you’re a woman.” — Harley Jordan

Jennifer’s Body is kind of a dark comedy and horror film. But it’s clear the only reason anyone is going to see this is for the super awesome plot. Megan Fox stars as Jennifer Check, a possessed teenage serial killer/demon who specializes in “offing” her male classmates as her best friend ‘Needy’ tries to stop her. And by “offing” I mean she has sex with them then kills them. It sounds like the best plot for a horror film EVER…..but sadly it fails to completely take advantage of its star and premise.

Ever so slightly nsfw....

The jokes and wisecracks are hit and miss and at times you get to see that Megan Fox has a small bit of comedic flair, even though this seems to be the wrong film for her to show it off.

Dialogue is well written at times even though it’s not going to be the most important thing in a horror film. At times it ends up feeling like a B movie, rather than a horror film with an A list star. Oh yeah there’s a girl on girl kissing scene as well, did I forget to mention that? Lasts for about a minute but it rivals Cruel Intentions and that’s saying something. You’ve probably stopped reading at this point and are either on your way to buy a ticket or look up the scene online. I expected a lot from this from seeing the first trailer, as anybody would, but ultimately Jennifer’s Body fails to be scary enough or funny enough to make a great movie. Worth a look if you’re a horror fan, otherwise go rent Drag Me To Hell instead and be really scared.