Posts tagged “times

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.



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… 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.


Twas Two Months Before Christmas…

Watching: The CollegeHumor Show

Listening To: Rage Against The Machine – Killing In The Name of (FUCK YOU X FACTOR)

Quote: “Watching Matilda. Its kind of like Carrie for kids.Perfect Christmas viewing.” — Simon Pegg

Twas’ two months before Christmas, and all through the town,

The shops were all stirring, as my face showed a frown.

The sale signs were hung in shop windows with care,

In hopes that the shoppers soon would be there.

People rattling present lists off of their heads,

While hoping for warmth and a nice night in bed.

And me in my costume, looking like a bell end,

Had just started celebrating Halloween weekend.

When up in the sky, there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the pub to see what was the matter.

Away to red square I flew like a flash,

Tore past all the tools, flashing their cash

The moon on the top of the new carousel,

As all the commotion began to raise hell.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a tall scary man, and he struck me with fear.

With long white beard, he descended so quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.

More rapid than eagles the crowds they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“What the fuck’s going on!? Its only Halloween!

I’ve got something to say, I don’t care if its mean!

I’m sick of this shit, it’s not even November

I’ve got two more months off, cant ye wait till December!?

Year after year, Christmas starts so early

You can hold off till late November surely.

I’m still on my holidays, can’t you respect that?

I’m an old man, I’m big and I’m fat!

I need time to get ready, and presents to find

You just don’t seem to get, are you people blind!?

Christmas is a time for good will and cheer,

And it should only come but once every year.

The shops and business insist on making it last two months,

Taking parents, shoppers and children for chumps.

It makes me feel sad in my big jolly belly,

The Coca-Cola trucks aren’t even on the telly!”

Tears swelled up in his twinkling eyes,

As he looked straight at me, took me by surprise.

“Young man”, he said, “you may look like a tool

But surely you agree with this stubborn old fool?”

I pondered his argument, and responded as such:

“You make a fair point boy, I’ll give ya that much,

It pisses me off when they start in October,

With ads and decorations the whole town over!”

He gave me a smile, then ruffled my hair,

Booming his voice, he announced to the square,

“Things have to change, and you know that they should

If you don’t wait a while, I’ll stay home for good.”

He turned to the crowd, and waited for a response

They turned towards Santa, and all spoke at once.

“You make a good point, we don’t want you gone,

We’ll wait till the Late Late Toy Show from now on”

His face sprang a smile, to us all gave a whistle,

And away Santa flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, as he flew out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”