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System Shock (1994)
Inventive, terrifying, and engrossing!!
If you ever thought that video games can't be anymore engrossing and terrifying at the same time, look no further than Looking Glass's blockbuster FPS/RPG hybrid PC game System Shock. For its' time, it was the most critically acclaimed game of all time; creating legions of veteran players and the fandom endured for many years to come. Though dated by today's standards due to admittedly clunky controls and standard graphics, but at it's core, the gameplay holds up, even to this day and having just played it for the first time, I immensely enjoyed it. Make no mistake, SS is a hard game and being the seasoned gamer that I am, at times I got stuck and had to consult a strategy guide to get me through some troublesome sections; more than once I admit. But no matter how tough things got, it grew on me and stuck with it till the very end in to my final encounter with the malevolent cyber entity known as SHODAN, one of the best video game villains ever created in the gaming world. With her chilling, distorted voice and cold demeanor, SHODAN will send shivers down your spine when you play the game for the very first time.
So if you want a classic game and not bothered by it's archaic design and clunky controls, give it a shot. However, if you can't get past it's dated gameplay elements, play System Shock 2 instead; a VAST improvement over the first game in every way. And that's not all, Night Dive Studios, which released an "enhanced" edition of SS, is pleased to announce that a remake of the first game with much better graphics, while staying true to it's core gameplay and atmosphere, is in development to be released sometime next year. So if you haven't jumped on the bandwagon yet, right now's the time to do so. Best retro PC game I've played in years, along with Earthworm Jim and Myst.
A Marvel film like no other. An astounding achievement in humor and action!!
They said it couldn't be done. They said "Deadpool" will never be made and I, as well as others, almost agreed. After his abysmal performance in X-crement Origins: Wimperine, the potential of The Merc With A Mouth, was almost terminated without fanfare. Good ol Wade Wilson just couldn't get a break.
Well, after so many trials and tribulations, Deadpool was finally given the green light and lo and behold, he bursts out of the comics and onto the silver screen with spectacular results so vulgar, so violent, so crude, yet so refreshingly simple, that it set the bar for R-rated comic book movies; quite possible for years to come. This film proved that violent superheroes...actually...make that anti-heroes can be immensely profitable; judging be the film's juggernaut box-office success. As an origin story, Deadpool is great, showing us a side to the Merc With A Mouth with a violent, vulgar side to the character, but also surprisingly, with human depth; something Origins failed to achieve. Character development and human pathos combine to make a troubled and flawed jerk with a heart of gold, a very likable and relate-table jerk with a heart of gold.
Yes, the action is bloody, yet great with slo-mo effects and yes the humor is vulgar and narcissistic, but it fits the character very well. But most importantly, is the acting and Ryan Reynolds NAILS it perfectly. I can think of no other actor that is much suited for the role and he is simply perfect; with his manic personality and spot on wisecracks. The film simply wouldn't work without a hard R rating. Thankfully, the studio let the filmmakers run wild in high octane adventure and explosive gravitas.
Props to all involved in Deadpool. It's smart, stylish, and refreshingly original. I'm glad they had the balls to make a R-rated Marvel comic book movie and they achieved it. One of the best films of the year and I can't wait for the inevitable sequel. A second and third viewing is definitely not out of the question. Great film, great cast, great direction. Simply put. Great R-rated comic book movie!!
After the disappointing prequels, Star Wars is back on track.
I know people hate the prequel films; who doesn't. I for one didn't hold Episode 3 in high regard either, but it was at least watchable, to a certain degree. I guess some are not as jaded and cynical as others, but to each his own. For a while, it seem that old magic of the OT couldn't be recaptured or restored to the rightful vision. It seem that Star Wars was doomed to be something of ridicule, rather than the cultural phenomenon that it once was; starting especially of course, with the first film to the last of the OT. But having said that, after coming from seeing TFA, I'm very pleased to report that the force is strong once again in the new film, Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens!! Gone is the cringe-inducing dialog, gone is the stiff, wooden, mechanical acting of the prequels(though they had their moments, but ultimately,uneven)gone is the overuse of CGI without a purpose or support to the story. What is here is what the OT was all about. Well-written characters, superb and at times humorous dialog, great action scenes, but most importantly, a great plot. Without spoiling it, there are numerous twists and turns and even some Easter eggs thrown in for good measure, that while as to remind longtime fans, but surprisingly, add to the overall narrative and it makes the film equally coherent as well as entertaining; something the prequels never achieved despite the high quality production values in accordance with the visuals.
Some old faces show up along with some new ones. Leia and the gang are back. It's a treat to see Han Solo again, now with a cynical and world-weary outlook after the music stopped; figuratively speaking. The lead character, played by John Boyega, is both effectively acted and wholly convincing as a former Stormtrooper who does a complete 180 in his place in the galaxy and for better or worse, it's very fun to watch. Daisy Ridley was good as Rey, but I'd hoped to see a little more of her. But I was fascinated by Kylo Ren. Not only does he look imposing, but also menacing as the new Sith Lord on the block, with shadowy and ominous Supreme Leader Snoke, to back him up in their evil path to universal conquest of the galaxy.
Sure some of the dialog is hammy and at times corny, as well as some gaps in logic, but that's what to be expected of Star Wars. Why some hold the OT over this film is beyond me,but I guess some people are not satisfied with what this film has to offer.
The only gripe I have is while that some scenes are nice and homage the original trilogy, the film-makers played it a little too safe; not offering more new and unexpected, not being bold enough or try new things. Though this implies that they don't want to repeat the same mistakes as the prequel films, they could've flexed their muscles a little more and go for something more epic and grander than having to rely on homage to what was already established before.
So in conclusion, this is a very well-made and solid film and although veterans of the series may not view it in the same light as the OT, Some,like me, takes a fresh approach. The force is strong again with this one. Hopefully the next film will be bolder, darker, and more daring than ever before.
Max Payne (2001)
Max Payne is simply incredible.
Several years ago, I've seen this game in magazines and TV commercials; normally, I play FPS and racing games, but TPP games? Not so much. But I was instantly hooked on them when MDK,a third person action game created by Shiny Entertainment; known for the excellent Earthworm Jim games among others, was released back in the mid '90s. And boy was it a hit, with it's highly innovative and quirky level design, atmosphere, game-play, and graphics. Loved it to death. Having recently played Max Payne, I gotta say I was quite literally blown away.
Max Payne is a cop with nothing to lose; having lost his wife and infant daughter to a gang of junkies hooked on a deadly designer drug known as Valkyr, that causes mental instability and uncontrollable rage. Three years later, Max transfers to the DEA to uncover the truth about the death of his family. After slaughtering his way through hordes of unsavory organize crime figures, Max begins to uncover a web of lies and corruption that go far deeper than he had suspected. The plot takes twists and turns, which leads him to the ultimate showdown with his most hated nemesis: A corrupt corporate executive.
Without spoiling much of the plot, I'd say it's dripping with neo-noir and crime drama grittiness with a small pinch of, surprisingly enough, science fiction with fantastical elements dealing with Norse mythology and dark fantasy. Not many games are able to blend these elements together, but this game pulls it off really well, with tight and well-written punchy dialog with excellent voice acting complemented with sublime comic-book style cut-scenes that flesh out the world and characters. Needless to say, I was really immersed in this dark and gritty world. Some of the dialog is cliché, but really, what would you expect from a game of this caliber that borrows from Hong Kong action films and hard-boiled detective film noir; which this game has in spades.
Speaking of Hong Kong action, the most widely praised aspect of Max Payne is it's game-play. Never has a game blended Asian cinema into a virtual environment so successfully and experiencing it for the very first time is simply jaw-dropping in it's execution, which is flawless in every way. For a game released in 2001, the game still holds up well, even to this day, where next-gen consoles and PC's are able to deliver very stunning and graphically impressive 3d graphics; which almost has a photo-realistic feel with level design that feels really palpable and plausible, giving the player a real sense of gravitas and verisimilitude. Controls feel tight, responsive, never skipping a beat; even when there's lots of action going on. Although I purchased both the console and PC versions, I went with the PC version; since it allows user-created content, which I've yet to discover. But you really can't do wrong, though both versions are identical, I'd say that the PC version is far superior to the console versions in every way.
It's a great game, but I wish it was longer because the games premise and plot is really interesting. That's the only gripe I have with this game; other than that, Max Payne is one of the best action games I've ever had the pleasure of playing for the first time in years. If you want a game that blends Hong Kong action with a gritty storyline with excellent graphics, then Max Payne is the game to get.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
The best Mad Max film I've ever seen.
I'll keep this straight and to the point. For YEARS I've waited for a film that lives up to the originals. Although Beyond Thunderdome was decent in it's own right, the film lost it's dark and gritty edge due to it's PG-13; a bane on dark, gritty post-apocalyptic films. Well, fear not for I am happy to report that Fury Road, is every bit as dark and gritty as it's predecessors. Tom Hardy does another incredible job as the world weary Max, a man with nothing to lose wandering the arid, desolate Australian wasteland, with little pockets of civilization here and there. Well, the term "civilization" is aptly used loosely here because most of them are anything but "civilized" as these roving band of savages try to eek out a bleak existence by any means necessary and this is the perfect backdrop for the story. With little twists and turns here and there, along with the impressive visuals and riveting action, Fury Road is a crystal clear reminder that CGI and MTV style action does not and should not take the place of a well-written story. Hopefully, a sequel is made. I'm that pumped for it. Best Mad Max film I've ever seen in years. Mad Max is back and he's better than ever.
Chris Nolan outshines himself once again.
If there ever was a time that movies can be magical, thought-provoking, emotional, humorous, and at times, dark and disturbing, then this would be it. A work of genius on all levels, Nolan's latest bundle of joy is "Interstellar", one of the best films I've ever seen coming from the impeccable caliber of Nolan's pedigree for bringing out best acting performances against the backdrop of stellar and awe-inspiring visuals.
The plot goes like this. Earth is in a bind and the only way to save what remains of humanity is to travel to the farthest reaches of space, to find the answers to mankind's salvation. But along the way, stunning revelations and deep character emotions are brought to the surface as the fate of humanity hangs in the proverbial and perpetual balance.
I won't say too much about the plot, and although it starts slow(which to some viewers may be off-putting but for me it was perfect)the more it unravels the more exciting and enthralling it is to witness. And all of this wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for Nolan's impeccable directing, sharp and well-written dialog, along with the best performances from Matthew McConaughey, Michael Cain, and of course, Anne Hathaway. With this caliber of acting talent, nothing can go wrong;especially a film of Nolan's making. There is action, but it is not as prevalent in Nolan's earlier films, and for me, that is refreshing; making the audience focus more on the story and characters, rather than the wham-pow theatrics of other films. There's a time and place for such things, but here, it is all the more welcome.
Although I'm sure some will say that this film borrows from other films, and to an extent, I somewhat agree. But this film is something really special to see. Not only do we get discussions on sacrifice, the nature of mortality and morality, heroism, and longing for a more innocent time, but also on many scientific theories on wormholes, interstellar travel, the vast and often, loneliness of space,and hope in the face of despair and anguish, and Nolan handles these themes with style and grace with many heartwarming moments of warmth and love. As a fan of science-fiction, I love this film wholeheartedly. And even I was convinced that some of what's in the film could one day become science fact: What if man can travel much farther in space then we are capable now? What if we can discover 3 to 4 dimensional space? And what if we can achieve time travel? These are questions that this film leaves, and though there are no easy answers, it is nonetheless, absolutely RIVETING to even think about such possibilities as to what can be achieved.
I'd say this film is like a Greek tragedy of man challenging the gods and whether or not they will succeed in such a feat. But after seeing this film and being absolutely BLOWN AWAY by it, I'm just anxious to see what Nolan and co come up with next. "Interstellar" directed by acclaimed director Christopher Nolan, is one of the best films I've seen this year and is bound to be a timeless classic.
Best Godzilla film in years!!!
Wow, what an incredible movie. Granted, the characters are a bit one-dimensional, but the human drama and sense of peril is much more believable than Roland Emmerich's shlock 1998 remake; which despite having some entertaining moments, never captured the dark tone of the 1954 classic monster flick that introduced to the world one of the most beloved and iconic monsters of all time, the G-Man!!! I came in with low expectations, but when all hell breaks loose and the situation becomes more and more dire, that's when things get REALLY exciting. The fight between Godzilla and the Mutos, is nothing short of exhilarating. I only wish that the fights were longer and more intense and not so much focus on the human characters, but in the case of this film, it's justified in getting the audience to have sympathy for the human protagonists, but me personally, I was more enamored with the G-Man, than the humans; mainly stemming from the fact that I'm a HUGE Godzilla fan, and have been wanting to see a film in his original glory for years. Thankfully, it delivered, and by the box-office business this film is doing, we'll be seeing the G-Man in another massive monster mash in the future.
Great film. Best one in the franchise I've seen for a long time.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Surpasses the first film in many ways than one.
Having just seen ASM 2, I say wholeheartedly that the second film is leagues BETTER than the first film. There's more drama, suspense, some dark moments, but perhaps the same comic-book like feel; something that Sam Raimi's films had, but never really delivered on it's premise. Thankfully however, Mark Webb and co, gave us a film that will be remembered for ages.
Even though there are three villains in this film, they are all superbly developed and well acted, something Sam Raimi's infamous Spiderman 3 SPECTACULARLY FAILED TO DO on SO MANY LEVELS. This film when you watch it gives you the sense that the movie is more understandable and therefore plausible in it's premise and execution. True, there are some rough spots in the film, but that does not in any way, shape, or form, take away from the experience.
One has to feel bad for Shailene Woodley, who was supposed to appear in the film as Mary Jane, Spidey's love interest for the uninitiated, but given how many characters and subplots are in the film, this was a wise decision on the film -makers part; after all, we wouldn't want to suffer through the same fate as Spiderman 3, would we? And unlike James Franco's take on Harry Osborne, Dane DeHaan gives a MUCH better performance. With his menacing stare and cold, blue eyes, he felt really intimidating as Spidey's future foe.
The action scenes are really spectacular and no pun intended, AMAZING!!! Never once was I bored throughout the entire runtime of the film. It's properly paced and intrinsically plotted with hints and bits of pieces for die-hard Spidey fans to discover; with some Easter eggs thrown in for good superhero measure. Tight direction and well choreographed, there's a great sense of tension and excitement to behold the on screen hijinks. I liked some of the slow-motion shots and they highlight the action; giving the film depth in it's perception of character and action-driven scenes and although not everyone will find them to their tastes, I think they work wonderfully in showcasing Spidey's acrobatic abilities which are greatly taken from the awesome source material.
So is The Amazing Spiderman 2 better than the first one? The overall answer is an AMAZINGLY enthusiastic YES!!! Mark Webb has done a really good job on giving us a sequel that goes in-depth of Peter Parker's psyche while also giving ample screen time to the villains and other character's involved in the titular hero's life. If the ending is anything to go by(which I will not spoil by any means) then we can expect more greater things to come in the overall narrative of this rebooted series. For once, three villains on screen are given screen time of character development and to be fair, it was a huge risk, but the risk payed off thanks in part to the well-written(and at times, humorous) plot and screenplay. Best sequel to a beloved superhero I've ever seen and by the impressively AMAZING box-office results, roll on Amazing Spiderman 3!!! Great job everyone!!! Great and AMAZING job!!!
Captain America is back and better than ever!!!
Having just seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I gotta say this sequel surpasses the original in so many ways. In it's place of an adventure yarn filled with WW2 action is a modern day political thriller with a dash of Cold War with superhero theatrics that work wonderfully with it's main cast and well-written and gritty script. I liked that the film touched on themes such as privacy, loyalty, rediscovering your past while also facing the future, and many dangers. So if you liked the first film, you're gonna love this sequel. It's a well made film that really ups the stakes for Cap and his allies and enemies wrapped up in a nice package of political intrigue.
SiN Episodes: Emergence (2006)
A brief, but fun shooter.
The original action-packed FPS "SiN" was a truly groundbreaking game of it's time; featuring real-world locations, tight controls, a damage system that targets specific parts of enemies,a sexy villain and much more. However, it was sadly overshadowed by the critically acclaimed Half-Life. Then came the expansion pack, Wages of SiN, that continues the adventures of John R. Blade, as he fights Gianni Manero, a mob boss that is trying to take over Freeport City with his army of mercenaries and mutants in Elexis Sinclaire's absence. Though, it's only 3 hours long, it at least satisfied the appetites of fans of the series.
Now comes SiN: Episodes. The game was released on the promise of more stories to come in the future. Many plot points are strongly hinted at throughout the game, such as Jessica Cannon's mysterious connection with secondary antagonist Victor Radek, the whereabouts of Elexis Sinclaire, and her plans for Blade, but sadly they are to remain unresolved since Ritual Entertainment, the creators of the series, went bust several years ago. A reboot of the series was planned at some point, but it remains to be seen whether or not to be in progress. With so much potential for a franchise utterly gutted, I was left(among with many fans) cold.
Despite being the only episode released thus far, Emergence has a lot of good things going for it. The controls are tight, gameplay is challenging, the graphics are nice, crisp, and decent, and the sound and voice acting is top-notch; the major gripes being that the SP campaign is too short, not a lot of enemy variety, and only 3 weapons to carry. In one of the later levels, you get to see Freeport City with VERY strong hints that exploration of the city(for the first time in the series) would be possible. But due to Ritual now being a casual games company, sadly such possibilities are dead in the water. As for the story, it's very comic-bookie in nature, with a dash of Robocop and Demolition Man, with some funny social satire jabs at corporatism and big business. Had the series continued, we might've gotten a deeper perspective of Freeport City and the main characters as well. If Lara Croft can get a well-deserved and more refined revival, then so can John R. Blade; a relatively obscured hero of the FPS genre whose presence is strengthened by the charismatic, yet ruthless dark-haired Elexis Sinclaire, a combination of brains and beauty that is without a doubt, a PERFECT match for Blade.
Having played this on PC, I gotta say, for what it is, it's a fun shooter. It's a real shame that it should've been a true sequel to one of my favorite FPS. With a full sequel, the world of John R. Blade, would've been fully fleshed out and more coherent(how Blade was captured by Sinclaire remains unclear)with more variety; especially with the enemies and locations to fight in. I haven't played Half-Life yet, but from what I heard, it's a fantastic game that SiN equally should've gotten the praise and admiration that it deserves. Still, it's cool to play as a bad-ass action hero blasting mutants like nobody's business and SiN fits that role perfectly.