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Alone in the Dark (2008)
Its end episodes ruin everything great that goes before them.
As a PS3 owner, I was at first frustrated when the game wasn't released on my console, then quite impressed when I found out I'd be getting a version that fixes the problems that all the reviews pointed out.
The game is good. It could've been great, had it not been for the last episodes, where the tension and innovation the game has gives way to utter tedium, but sadly this tedium unravels its success.
I really enjoyed many things about this game; the inventory system does something I've been waiting for for years - accurately reflects what a character can actually carry! Much as I hold Deus Ex on a pedestal as one of the greatest games of all time, it annoys me that you somehow managed to conceal a GEP gun in your leather coat...
I also liked the healing aspect, though it annoyed me that Edward Carnby's leather jacket also healed.
The combat is the game's true success - centred around fire, this is a brilliant game which allows you to come up with many ways of killing your zombies. The only true way to get rid of them is setting them alight, but whether you do this by knocking them out and dragging them into a fire, or shooting them with explosive bullets, or using an aerosol can and lighter, Molotov cocktail, or smacking them with a chair/bat/broom/axe you've set on fire is up to you - and it's very enjoyable. There are also several boss battles - which while they can be incredibly difficult, are exciting and tense pieces of gameplay.
The acting is fairly acceptable - Sarah's voice-over often ranges from out-of-context to just terrible acting, but other than that it's pretty good. The script does use "fuck" far too much though - I suspect it may have been written by someone not native to either a) New York or b) English as a language.
The graphics are also quite good. Not on Uncharted levels of beauty, but they're very cool. The stage design is also amazing at times - though it will last you a mere ten seconds of gameplay, there is a point where you have to climb up the floor of a bathroom that is hanging off a cliff 90 degrees from its usual place.
And the game's puzzles range from obvious, to easy, to really challenging - so it's a great range of skills needed, and makes for a much more realistic gameplay.
All these good things, however, are entirely undone by the games end stages. I'm not complaining about an unhappy ending - it's entirely appropriate to the mood of the game - but mostly, the INCREDIBLE frustration one feels having to run around Central Park for five hours burning roots. I don't like to exaggerate, but it ruins everything that goes before it, and I refuse to use the games skip-to-the-next-sequence mechanism (though I do think it's nifty...) The ending is also rather rushed, and it feels disconnected from the rest of the game.
It's a real shame that this happens, because the game has some really amazing points in it. There are many more things I haven't mentioned - that you rarely actually know what to do in the game is in no way a bad thing - you're thrown into this mix with the characters, and have no idea what to do except react as you would in the same situations.
It's a smart game which does some really stupid things. It missed the mark by only so much, but when it missed it fell right into its own abyss.
Lost: The Other 48 Days (2005)
Utterly, Utterly Brilliant.
I love Lost. It's not only of the greatest shows on TV at the moment, but it's also one of the best shows created. Any show which can have a character walk on screen and merely say "The Others are coming," leading you to veritably wet yourself, is awesome.
This is easily the best episode of the series so far. It's harrowing, Action-packed, dramatic and tense.
The opening is brilliant, fooling us into thinking we may merely be watching an ad for a holiday package, and (literally) dropping the tail section on us.
I believe the episode also succeeds in the way it doesn't contain any flashbacks (not that there's time, although I suppose the episode is really nothing more than one big flashback) and it lets us see more of the Others - and they are scary.
Brilliant Episode, can't wait to put it on my iPod.
So atrociously, awfully fantastic!
If someone sits down to watch The Pool expecting brilliant, award-winning performances, excellently crafted tension, superbly scary scenes and a breathtaking tour-de-force film overall, they are severely kidding themselves.
The Pool is astoundingly bad: poor acting; inane dialogue; predictable and uninspired death scenes - but it is awesome! This, ladies and gentlemen, is the absolute pinnacle, the epitome, the very definition of "so-bad-it's-good." The story is this: Students at an international school have finally graduated and are now on their way to the most kick-ass graduation party ever: they are breaking into an amazing swimming pool complex and spending the night there, getting drunk, getting wet and spreading around those hormones as much as possible. But slowly, one-by-one, they start dying. Who is this devious killer? And will anyone live to tell the tale? The reality is this: The Pool is little more than an excuse for beautiful Europeans, Australians and one American to show off their nubile bodies, and to try and get the producers a little bit of pocket money.
I doubt very highly whether the script-writer spoke fluent English. There is a scene when the girl-who-dies-before-the-credits is "investigating a strange noise which she thinks is her boyfriend" is calling out to him, and calls out: "Oliver! I'm getting pretty serious!" I turned to my sister (who was watching with me at the time) and laughingly said: "Oliver! I'm getting pretty serious, however I have not as yet attained the level of seriousness which allows me to say that I am definitely serious, so you still have a little lee-way!" The dialogue is shockingly bad ("Before or after you SLICED and DICED?!") the acting more-so, but the film is nothing but fun.
This is the film you watch with all your mates, getting drunk and taking bets on who will die in what order.
This is the film you watch when you have two hours to kill and can think of nothing else to do.
This is the film that gets the young pre-teenage boys excited because, YES - there are exposed breasts in it! It never holds its self up as quality film-making. I however, hold it up as quality-entertainment.
Please see it - but expect nothing from it. Even your lowest standards won't be met.
Ten heartfelt stars.
Decent - a fun movie, even if it's not the best.
Gotta say, was looking forward to this one - I love Franka Potente and also horror films.
It looked like it wasn't going to get released any time too soon in Australia, so I bought it off eBay (only to look in a video store magazine and see that it's being released on the 22nd of December - a mere three weeks away.) and gave it a watch.
I was already prepared not to be scared too horribly, after reading many reviews, but I have to say, I found it highly enjoyable.
Kate (Potente) is between parties, heading to one where she hopes, among other things, to bed George Clooney. She goes down into the Underground and falls asleep.
Upon waking, she finds the place deserted, except of course for the mad killer who's now hunting her and the people she meets along the way.
Creep is by no means a masterpiece. It is a confused movie, never quite sure when to be scary or not - I know I saw many missed opportunities, not least of all when Kate first sees the titular being. The scene plays as follows: Kate is running through a series of tunnels, with only a torch to guide her. She settles down in one corner, and shuts the light off. Moments later, she turns it on and BAM the Creep is in her face.
The way the scene is played, the Creep stares straight down the camera, with no musical fanfare. It then cuts to a profile shot: the one we left when Kate shut off the light. While the scene is effective, it really only succeeds in making us feel uneasy, as opposed to scared that the Creep is here. Had they done what was obviously the original plan, and had it so that it was the same shot from torch off to torch on, only with the Creeps ghastly face there instead, the scene would have been a good pay off for the tension that had been building up for the entire first act.
However, that aside, the film is fast paced and easy to follow.
I've read many reviews that describe how the film 'descends' into a splatter and gore fest halfway through.
The first half of the film is Kate's world, her trying to get out of the subway, and the film is played as a tense mystery - very little gore (although don't get me wrong, there is still some) and plays as a psychological piece.
The second half, once the Creep is revealed, is a far more disgusting film, grimy, gory and gritty. This is because we have now entered the Creep's domain, and we are treated to his way of life, which, let's face it, ain't awfully nice.
Do a bit of reading and you'll inevitably come across a mention of the 'Surgery Scene'. All I can say is that yes, the scene is disturbing, mainly because it is played so calmly and soberly. It's horrible hearing Mandy's cries for help and her pleading, but there is no real onslaught of music or quick cut camera, and it makes it seem like it is more painful.
In the end, Creep is a movie that you watch, think about, then forget it in place of what you're having for dinner. That said, I liked it a lot and found it very enjoyable, with the exception of the surgery scene.
Definitely worth a look.
Fun. Not a terrific film, but most certainly a fun one.
Underworld is an exercise in style, no more no less. Its plot is simple and is a train track to platforms of cool fight scenes, snazzy special effects and Gothic photography.
Kate Beckinsale is stunning as Selene, the vampire who finds herself caught between the fight to kill all werewolves but at the same time protect the one she loves.
Yes, the dialogue is very frequently quite hokey. Yes, the fight scenes go on a bit long. Yes, the story is very minimal.
But so what? If anyone goes into a film like Underworld expecting Oscar winning performances, an intricate story and hard hitting drama, then they need to find a bracing reality check.
Underworld is escapism. For two hours, you get to submerge yourself in a world of style and ultra-cool. You don;t worry about doing the dishes, paying the bills or replacing the light bulbs.
You sit back, shut off your brain and have fun.
For pure enjoyment, I give it 7/10
Moria Kelly was wrong...
Moria Kelly said in an interview that if you loved the TV show then you would love the prequel. I disagree quite vehemently.
I really really like Twin Peaks, the TV series. I'm not one of these fanatics who knows every word Ben Horne uttered in episode 1.3 or anything, but I really enjoy the show.
I really enjoy the show, mainly for its quirkiness. It's an oddball, funny and intriguing show, at times terrifying (altogther now: BOB) and often very engrossing. It had a light feel to it: the situations never got so bad that there wasn't time for a light quip or two.
FIRE WALK WITH ME fails to capture the same mood as the series, despite having the same characters.
Sheryl Lee is very good as Laura, the girl who is so cursed that she can only save herself by dying to escape the clutches of BOB and her abusive father, and she manages to convey Laura so well that we feel every punch she does.
The rest of the cast are a let-down. Moira Kelly, while good, just isn't the right replacement for Lara Flynn Boyle. The first half hour, involving Teresa Banks does nothing but delay the movie: it sheds no new light on the situation.
And the characters have become caricatures. Bobby is a pain, James is under utilised, as is Donna and Shelly and Norma are barely in it. Jacques is given too big a role and Dale Cooper is a completely different character: sullen and morose as opposed to the screwball Coop we know from the series.
When we finally get into the swing of things, the last days of Laura's life are dreadful to watch, because we know how it ends. Her death scene is brutal and disturbing, as is most of what leads up to it.
Ray Wise is terrifying as Leleand, Frank Silva less so than in the series, although he still manages to elicit a chill down my spine.
It's also quite irritating being back in Twin PEaks and only dealing with the characters we don;t care for. I miss Sheriff Truman, Lucy, Josie, Audrey and Pete. I miss the mystery of the series, and the oddball humour. Instead we have a washed out wasteland of confusing scenes and nightmarish imagery.
I would be giving this movie a generous 5, if it weren't for the beautiful scene of, after her death, Laura in the waiting room, as she discovers she's been accepted into the White Lodge and is being guided by the angels. It's still disturbing, seeing as she's dead now, but I found that scene tender and moving.
Other than that, it is a disappointment coming to it after such an excellent series.
American Psycho (2000)
An absurd movie....although I liked it a lot
Having seen and read the Rules of Attraction, I investigated Bret Easton Ellis a little further and found out that he wrote American Psycho (I was aware of the book's existence and also the film's, but I was unaware that he had written the piece) and I decided to see it for myself.
I have not read the book, so I may have missed something vital, but I certainly enjoyed what I saw.
Christian Bale is excellent. Indeed, he saves the movie; everyone else is decent, but play like back-up singers to Chirstian Bale's main show. The way he portrayed Patrick in such subtleties and quiet complexities perfectly compliments the character, and he certainly seems to have enjoyed playing the part.
American Psycho is actually a much more worthwhile film than the cheap trailer would have one suspect: the trailer plays as a cheap slasher flick, whereas the violence is almost second party to the satire of the 80's and yuppie way of life. Particulalrly memorable in my mind is the scene where Patrick is in the men's room and manages to goad the man in the next stall enough to stick his head over and demand "Do you mind?! I am trying to drugs here!" such is the chagrin of his disturbance.
The film is also vaguely comical (not least of all in the scene where Patrick entertains Paul in his apartment. All together now: "Hey Paul! AHHHHHHHH!") and is just light enough to keep the violence in equal balance.
Without this vaguely comical tone, which in turn adds the absurdity I spoke of, the violence would be exploitative. However, some of the film is quite disturbing, and I'd recommend that all conservatives stay clear of this.
However, certainly see it for Christian Bale's brilliant performance.
Avoid the incredibly lackluster sequel.
An irredeemable, vile piece of trash.
Basic structure of a story: Beginning, Middle, End.
Sometimes this structure is played with, and we get Memento or Irreversible and the story plays backwards. Sometimes it's just not linear, a la Pulp Fiction. Regardless, they all have a beginning, middle and end.
This is the first film I have ever seen that doesn't have an end.
Beginning: Girl's best friend is expelled.
Middle: Girl needs to cope without best friend.
End: Non existent.
Not that having an end would've saved this film, but at least it would have been complete.
It's an exercise in apathy; we get a party-mix of characters, and they all turn out to be duds. Boring, vain, vapid and pallid imitations of people.
And here's the action within this film: NOTHING HAPPENS. Nothing at all happens. Mischa Barton tries to talk with a plummy English accent, Dominique Swain whines a lot and Brad Renfro receives a blow job from some old guy. End of movie.
By the time the credits rolled, I had a horrible feeling that many prisoners must feel: periods of time, those precious minutes of our life, have just been wasted.
The only passable point (and that is a very emphatic ONLY) is Brad Renfro. He acts well. Lacey Chabert I tend to like, but no luck here. Due to good work in other films, I will forgive Mischa Barton this travesty, but I hope all cast members were slapped in the face for their involvement.
Please, I implore you. Avoid. Don't fool yourself into thinking "I'll make up my own mind". My sister told me to never see this, and I ignored her, wanting to make up my own mind. That was a bad decision.
I have never hated a film. There are many I don't like, but I have never hated a film. Until I saw this.
Quite possibly the greatest movie I have ever seen.
Of all the films I've seen in my sixteen sweet years of existence, none have struck such a chord with me as Bound has.
I'd heard of it before in relation to the Wachowski Brothers, but also due to it being one of Christopher Meloni's first film roles. I searched high and low for it, and found it in my video store, much to my delight.
Gina Gershon is Corky. Corky has short hair and an attitude, with tattoos that are displayed marvellously by her Singlet tops, or covered by her leather jacket. Factor all these things in with the fact that it's a woman, and you come to one obvious conclusion: Corky is a lesbian. She doesn't do much to hide this fact, nor should she need to.
The film opens with a brilliantly filmed single-take of a closet. We descend down into it, passing the clothes on the racks to the shoes on the shelf, down to Corky's unconscious, bound and gagged body.
We then flash back to the beginning of the story.
Jennifer Tilly is Violet, the woman that Corky so generously holds the elevator door open for. She enters the elevator with Corky, closely followed by Joe Pantoliano, who is Caesar. Caesar is Violet's semi-mobster boyfriend. He works for the mob, but merely stands around watching the dirty work be down by the real mobsters.
Corky is moving into the apartment next door to Violet, renovating it as her first job on the outside. She has just served a five year prison sentence. The chemistry between Violet and Corky is instantaneous and electric.
As Violet leaves the elevator, Corky watches her walk down the hall, and it seems as though violet is walking in such a provocative way quite on purpose.
Before long, Violet has either seduced or been seduced by Corky, depending on how you look at it, and the two have an incredibly strong bond.
After being home when a man she has always liked is sadistically tortured and murdered in her bathroom by the mob (including Caesar), Violet decides she wants out of this life.
She goes to Corky with the proposition of stealing the (upwards of) 2 million dollars that the mob has obtained, and Caesar is keeping for safe keeping, all the time pinning the blame on someone else.
Christopher Meloni is Johnnie Marzonne, son of the mob boss, and rival of Caesar. Johnnie flirts endlessly with Violet, much to Caesar's chagrin, so he seems an obvious choice to pin the blame on.
Of course, such a brilliant plan must go wrong somehow, and the two women must deal with the kinks in their scheme.
' To tell you anymore would be to ruin the film, something I will never intentionally do. Needless to say, I loved this movie.
The plot is intricate and so very clever, and the acting is superb. Gina Gershon exudes copious amounts of sex appeal, while Jennifer Tilly is pitch perfect as Violet, the girl who's not anywhere near as ditzy as they thought.
Joe Pantoliano is also good, acting out the swings from ultra panic to blind rage with tremendous ability.
Christopher Meloni (who I find it hard to say a bad word about anyway) is also great as Johnnie: playing the half-wit son of the mob boss without making it a clichéd caricature.
The Wachowski Brothers pay a tremendous amount of attention to detail, and I wonder just how long they spent planning each shot of the film. It's a beautifully filmed piece of art.
Of course, the film relies heavily on the relationship between Corky and Violet, and I've heard a lot of ridicule form people despising the (rather explicit) lesbian sex scenes.
As a sixteen-year-old, I honestly can't complain about the sex scenes, but in all honesty: they are completely pivotal to the story. The film would not have worked the same way as if Violet had been attracted to a man, or vice versa.
As Bound finished, I found myself utterly and completely satisfied. An intricately woven, edge-of-your-seat thriller with lavish production design, and moments of genuine humour.
The only thing I can complain about is that the film has not made it onto DVD in Australia. But I will be buying it the second it does.
Utterly and completely 10 out of 10.
Rated R18+ for Medium Level Violence, Medium Level Sex Scenes.
Once and Again (1999)
Consistent and Great
Once and Again is a pearl of a show. It's always interesting, and more importantly, realistic.
I started watching it as my sister had a crush on Shane West, but by the second episode I watched, I was hooked. Expecting it to be nothing more than a lightweight excuse for Shane West to act moody and broody, I found that instead it was a show where I saw that he actually can act, not to mention all his co-stars.
Easily the most impressive is Evan Rachel Wood, showing to me (before Thirteen was even an idea) that she had a tremendous amount of talent, I found her story lines to be compelling, and her to be exemplary in them. Indeed, it was this show that made me want to see Thirteen so much, so as I could see her performing again.
But I won't ramble.
Once and Again is brilliant, and if there was ever a show that should be continued, this is it.