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Grann-Bach

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As extreme as you want to be, 24 January 2016
7/10

This is a 26 and a half minute making of feature found on the Widescreen Director's Cut DVD of Natural Born Killers, going into, yeah, you know which picture. It's made up of a series of sit-down interviews, presumably conducted in 2001(certainly Lewis here seems to have...evolved(I'm joking. Calm down.) on what she thinks acting is from Full Tilt Boogie, there calling it "lying", here saying that it's like children playing, creating something), with the main cast and crew, who all have something interesting to say, clips from the film and behind-the-scenes footage.

They comment on how crazy the shoot was(playing random music between takes, filming while driving and on mushrooms, Sizemore actually was hurt, including breaking his nose... and then he was told to keep going, those were real prisoners all around them, that's the leaky sewer of them and their facility, etc.), the media's influence on our lives, violence and our perception(one of the major themes of the subject itself), the ideas and how the distinct stylistic choices were accomplished.

There is a lot of strong language and disturbing content in this, even a little violence(from Vietnam), and not only in the stuff taken directly from the finished product. I recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about the movie. 7/10

3 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
A loving piece, 7 January 2016
8/10

8 dangerous people have to spend nights in the same stagecoach stopover during a blizzard. But can they trust the ones they don't know? Heck, won't violence erupt over the political differences? Bounty hunters Maquis(Jackson, quick) and Ruth(Russell, not trusting) try to keep safe the people they've collected... in particular, the only one alive, the prisoner belonging to the latter, Daisy(Leigh, taunting, set free by her imminent demise – she can do what she wants, all he can do is smack her, and no one but him would dare to, anyway). Is Mannix(Goggins, worth the price of admission by himself... steals the show) actually going to be sheriff? Is the Confederate General(Dern, hilarious as an odd and very old man) volatile? Is Mobray(Roth, delightfully British) really the hang-man? Is Gage(Madsen, secretive) hiding something? And is... Bob(Bichir, short on words, long on laughs)...really the temp?

The cast is incredible, and all show up inspired. I did not expect Tatum to impress me... before I saw he'd be in one of Quentin's. You never know who to keep your eye on, when, about what or from whom the next series of lines will come forth, when someone's double-crossing, etc.

This is a Western murder mystery, using isolation, claustrophobia and paranoia to great effect. The first half is pure build-up, and, admittedly, the reveal doesn't deliver. After the climax, you do feel like more could have been done with what there was. This is not Pulp Fiction. It also isn't as good as the last two Tarantino did. But it certainly is fun, and full of his trademarks... except for chronological jumps, he's more or less retired that since Kill Bill. Witty dialog and speeches, vivid themes, Mexican standoffs, sudden gory violence, it's all here. This compellingly explores the considerable post-Civil War US tensions.

There is a ton of strong language and implied slurs in this. I recommend this to any fan of the genres mixed here. 8/10

Psychonauts (2005) (VG)
Sticks in your head, for better or worse, 18 December 2015
6/10

You are Raz(Steven Horvitz, excited to be there, to feel he has a purpose and isn't a burden like at home), a 10-year-old gifted boy who runs away from the circus to try to sneak into a training ground for those with similar powers to become a "Psychonaut", a spy in that realm. It's disguised as a Summer camp, where you can, not have to, roam, listen to and/or talk with the other children... at least a dozen, each with their own personality, conflicts, relationships including romantic ones. He finds that there is a sinister plot occurring there that only he can stop. Someone stole the brain of your fellow trainee. There's also shared nightmares about a scary figure, who somewhat resembles Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street. Of course, this entire plot starts slow and late, only to dump a ton of exposition on you that then takes away the surprise from every upcoming development. And this happens in the cut-scenes, except for when it doesn't. Most of what you, yourself, do in this doesn't affect the story.

After a couple of too long, boring and barely necessary tutorials, the actual levels begin. The few there are – that would be fine if this went for one mood, instead, it goes for all that it can in those, meaning, yeah, not that many. And while you may do a little detective work, you are helping insane people deal with their issues. This is something that could have been done before and without you, and would not be required at all if you got for free the favors that they offer after you've been in their mind. I mean, this is a pretty big deal. Can we focus on that? Anyway, that does mean that you are moving through the bizarre, absurd, creative, unique and surreal mind every time you "go in". In one, a 50's suburban neighborhood that you move on like a series of Möbius strips, overrun by G-men, all claiming to belong, working the sewer, the road, or the like, with their suit and shades clear for anyone to see, and there are cameras hidden in lawn ornaments that every so often pop out and snap a shot, the top of every car has a radio transmission tower. You'll find yourself inside at least one old-fashioned game, like a game of cards. Or a board-game, where there are three layers, or sizes. First, you look at it set up, you could grab it with a hand. Then you get onto it and get an overview. Finally, you're smaller than the pieces for it, and can knock on a door of a house that you could have had in your hand seconds ago. You'll see neon, encounter dogs and wrestlers. A few of them, you can choose which order to do them in. They're all memorable. They do, sadly, all overstay their welcome and lean on one mechanic too much. It helps a little that they each have a different one.

Since you've been learning acrobatics, you can grab, shimmy and climb ledges, walk or swing from tightropes, slide swiftly down lines and double-jump. Though there are numerous elements vital to making something like this be enjoyable, the game-play is ultimately what I consider to be the single most important one. Unfortunately, here it is... just OK. Without it, it might as well be an interactive movie or the like. 3D, compared to 2D(which recent demos of Rayman, both Legends and Origins, does, and it's so much more comfortable. So it can, and sometimes is, still being done like that today), makes it far harder to do the action/adventure plat-former. Much less do it well. And a lot of the early examples of this didn't yet know how to deal with it. Sonic, Earthworm Jim, Prince of Persia... this is, thankfully, far better than those. The problem is that the added dimension opens it up, and with more to take in, the momentum comes and goes. Or dies entirely. The camera has big problems. Even with the sensitivity maxed out, the mouse will sometimes move it very slowly, *too much so*, it *will not* keep up, there are even times where you have to constantly, laboriously, manually adjust it. Worse, the Marksmanship Blast aiming is awkward, and, with this issue, not fast enough. There are a few times where you have static views forced upon you, where the direction you go in either shifts suddenly as it pops to a different place, and/or just makes it hard for you to tell which one you'll be going in. That hardly ever leads to your death, it's mostly in areas safe from harm. A few places, it can't "follow you" into a small room, so you can't see anything until you leave it again. Completely unacceptable.

You'll gain psychic powers such as: telekinesis: pick up small items, enemies and the like, and throw them, such as for attacks. It is a strange decision to force you to hold down the key... why not allow toggling? And you adjust the predicted path with the movement ones...why? Levitation: it's the "running" feature, with a ball of energy under your feet. You can use it to Float, gradually getting closer to the horizontal surface, as you inch further in one of the four directions while in the air. You can set some things on fire. These can either be awarded by completing certain missions or by gaining ranks. You can assign three of these to your controller or keyboard for quick use. All earned ones are available at any time through a selection screen. You can't pick which ones you get. You save up for certain things, it's not really "choice", just something to earn, which is perfectly fine, makes it more accessible.

There is some creepy, disturbing and twisted material in this. I recommend this to fans of old school entries into this already unforgiving genre. 6/10

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Of Leifelds, oddly specific guns and dictators reborn, 29 November 2015
8/10

Linkara, his entourage and a few of the Channel Awesome gang go into space to help the non-responsive crew of the first manned exploration of Jupiter. There's something going on out there... and it ain't right. The bland title notwithstanding, I always say, if I was at all into story lines, there's no doubt Lewis does the best ones. That's why I don't stop watching when his videos go in that direction. He masters comic book plotting. This builds on To Boldly Flee, you really have to have watched it and at least some of the show to follow along... and throughout this, I will be comparing the two. As far as movies of Treks to Stars go, this is not just Search for Spock with various Star Wars films thrown in, albeit it does resemble The Motion Picture, and nothing ever should.

This is to a greater extent about people, characters, and they have better arcs. It helps that it greatly limits how many TGWTG people he brought. Well, for the ride itself. Back on Earth, a number of them do get cameos. Their personas are all captured equally as well, and they're both chock full of references to their various fandoms and bodies of work. And this is actually feminist! Every women here has her own voice, is strong, in control of her own life, and isn't an object, heck, isn't sexualized at all. Simply because there's no reason for that to be in this. We have a far scarier, creepier villain, because he's taken seriously.

There are also stronger emotional performances and scenes, that, like the exciting action, is never undercut by an insistence on always being funny. There's depth where you wouldn't think there would be. It gets existentialist. This explores themes of the scope of what's going on, comparing it to their regular lives, and, as per Mr. Lovhaug's deeper stuff, it's smartly written, intelligent, not preachy, honest and self-analyzing. Honestly, especially early on, some of the jokes in this are dry, he left too much of his wit behind in the reviews themselves. Near the end, he joins a select club of especially awesome people. It's faster, more intense. Again we get great, cool FX, make-up and designs. Here, a little of it is pushed to the point where we can tell how they did it. They juggle the many elements well. This comes to a running time of 120 minutes, or 113 if you don't count the end credits.

There is some swearing, violence and disturbing content in this. I recommend this to any fan of those involved. 8/10

Shadow Warrior (1997) (VG)
Noisy with some complex aspects, 27 November 2015
7/10

You are, well, the title. The best of your kind. As many others of them, you're security for a large corporation... Master Zilla's. He has become corrupted by his immense power, and now plans to take over Japan using creatures summoned from the dark side. You quit as a matter of honor, and find yourself a target. Of course, given what this actually is, there is no real plot.

While it is enjoyable to play, this is an average example of its subgenre. It is the lesser of the three BUILD engine releases, the other two being Duke Nukem 3D, a classic, and the solid horror Blood. It does add things not in those. You get to drive and fire the cannon of a tank, blowing holes in walls to proceed, man a machine-gun-armed patrol boat to mow down enemies, and more. There are climbable ladders, swimming underneath as well as on the surface of the transparent water, and to add to the typical key-hunt, you also turn machines on or off, activate switches, levers, elevators, doors, find your way through areas. Thus, you can't just run mindlessly through, you will have to approach it focused. Say, did you/something/someone just blow up something explosive, typically a barrel, possibly opening a path? Has it recently? No to both? Then it for sure will soon.

There is some good enemy AI, and they may take cover. You'll take on and out, among others, humanoid demons, some of them crawling on walls and lunge to and from them and at you, ninjas, ape-like monsters, koi, hornets, and flying ghosts, you'll literally see one arise from the guy you just killed. You can stunlock a number of them, and can sometimes have to. This tends not to put too many of them in one spot, so with skill you can bypass without too much frustration. You can shoot bunnies and most objects, be they still or moving. There is plenty of gore, violence and blood in this. You can slice some of them in two! Or knock them into the air with your bare fists! There are 4 difficulty settings, it will test you even on the easiest... and it gets insane on the higher ones! There is not much replayability, with no randomization or bonus modes, albeit there are hidden areas to locate. There is some cheap challenges, such as unexpected detonations right by you, either static ones or enemy ones, but saving every so often, since you can anytime, fixes that. If you don't load when dying, you'll respawn at the start of the current, losing everything you've picked up, including bonus health, armor, etc. so for those that want that making it even tougher, there you go. And keep fall damage in mind.

Your hands, a Katana, and Shuriken, 3 thrown at a time, are all you have initially. That might make you think this has you sneak through it, but really, you're moving from place to place, blasting away foes, many of which also use non-stealthy weaponry. You can throw smoke and 'blind'. If or when you pick up a second one, you can dual-wield Uzis. There's a riot quad-barrel(fire one, or all four, at a time! Click the select number twice to shift between them) shotgun. A missile launcher, which can be used for heat seekers... even nukes! The mandatory grenade-launcher, they bounce before explode, for ledges and around corners. This has the first sticky bomb in one of these, it's a prox mine: and why yes, it *can* attach to living beings, as well! It didn't come back in the genre until years later! That's just criminal. There's an Eraser-like railgun... that can't go through even thin walls or obstacles! The head and heart of certain enemies can be used as weapons, summoning a zombie for a short time, and, three modes, for example throwing fireballs, respectively. They could easily be more interesting: this doesn't have a real stand-out, to me, like the Doom Plasma Gun, which is essentially an assault rifle that fires energy, and the DND Ripper Chaingun, a multiple-barrelled carried machinegun. Like the other 90's FPS', you sometimes miss, for example, a regular rifle, a lot of your weapons are short-range and/or immensely powerful and thus have very little ammo. This uses of 3D voxels instead of 2D sprites for them. You have to empty the clip to reload. You very quickly get a hold of almost all of them, and though you are of course limited by ammo, you can use even the biggest ones very early on, takes some of the fun out of that, albeit it makes sense if you "die"(and you have unlimited lives), since restarting means you have to start over on collecting them.

The MP is limited and dead. There are a few mostly minor bugs and glitches. The graphics are pretty good, can get it on today's graphics cards and high resolutions without it pixelating horribly, and it runs well. That, and the two expansion packs are all that you get by buying this, instead of using the (legal) free Steam version. Wanton Destruction at 3 and a half hours, and Twin Dragon at 4. They chiefly feature additional levels, and they're slightly less polished than the main ones. Included are a plane that seems like it might crash soon that you don't get to stay on the inside of, a palace, a maze and various plants and the like. Like the regular ones, they're hard to find your way through, usually bordering on, and sometimes crossing into being, obnoxiously so.

There is a lot of material that is tremendously offensive to Asians. Why did the decades around this view being non-PC in humor as an end unto itself, rather than a means to open the debate, to bring up things that could be improved, you know, kicking up instead of down? I recommend this to those who *must* play all of these. 7/10

24 out of 54 people found the following review useful:
The temperature shifts many times, not always appropriately, 19 November 2015
8/10

A commando unit is sent into the Capitol, now under siege, partially evacuated, overrun by refugees and entirely empty of glory and every bit splendor having faded to shades of grey. Their mission is to put an end to the tyranny. To assassinate President Snow(Sutherland, deliciously evil).

There are entirely too many characters, and darlings that have been left alive, in the least critically trimmed of the four films - this feels strangely disconnected from the others. The production values, talent and scope on display fail to distract from that. As a final chapter, it's fair. Almost every single farewell feels flat and rushed. Essentially, no one has anything to do, not to mention that the new ones, thankfully largely undeveloped anyway, are utterly superfluous. Everyone in the love triangle do find themselves in extreme emotional situations, and certainly the still unstable and potentially homicidal Peeta makes for an immensely interesting element. But it is only with these three, and these two parts could and should have remained one three-hour picture.

The themes are explored rather well, and this fits in an impressive amount of solidly done fiercely political, anti-war messages that are surprisingly relevant, considering it's all there in the book, which came out in 2010. It is clear that this wants to motivate for real-life campaigning to affect foreign policy, and one can only hope it does just that. Satire, clever writing and excitement yet again come through and elevate what might otherwise be "good... for YA" to a truly compelling piece that truly has something to say.

There is a lot of brutal, disturbing violent content in this, pushing the PG-13 rating about as far as it can be. I recommend this to any fan of the series. 8/10

Expectedly convenient, 13 November 2015
8/10

This is a feature-length, 2 hour 19 minute(or about 90 seconds less if you don't count the credits, but you should definitely sit through them), making-of documentary on the 2-Disc Special Edition DVD of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, concerning, guess what picture.

It features interviews with cast and crew, behind-the-scenes footage, film clips(including of one or two bits that didn't end up in the finished product, and not only from this movie), concept art and previsualization. It goes into doing a sequel and without the original director to boot, turning a first person perspective written work into something that has to show things the protagonist doesn't see and do without narration, the differences between it and the first one, designs, location shooting(one set was built on an unused floor of an operating hotel!), acting(Malone's passion paid off!), bringing back those who made the earlier entry great, costumes and make-up, the water scenes, stunts(the spin was real!), Hawaii, post, sound and VFX. Yup, there's some of the usual lovefest. Thankfully, most of it is earned.

There is some disturbing content in this. I recommend this to anyone who wants to learn more about how this was put together. 8/10

And we weren't let down, 10 November 2015
8/10

This is a feature-length, 2 hour and 2 minute, making-of documentary on the 2-Disc Special Edition of The Hunger Games, about, yeah, you know which movie. It features behind-the-scenes footage, sit-down interviews with the major characters' actors and the crew, clips from the film, script excerpts, storyboards and tests(be they stills, pre-visualizations or drawings). We're taken from early preparations all the way to the premiere.

It goes into it as an accurate-yet-medium-fitted adaptation, making sure it is intense rather than "fun"(this *is* about teens forced into killing each other!), the much-maligned too hand-held-and-shaky-cam, casting(J-Law gets to prove she can carry one of these... And Banks was a truly inspired choice! Tucci, Harrelson, I could go on), sets, design, action(that was almost purely the stars, not stunt performers! "Xander! That's the real one!" And most of that fire in the forest? Yeah, that was actually there!), locations, budget, special effects, post, distinct sound-work and how all of that has to be carefully planned.

Of course, you do have to sit through some of the obligatory lovefest. That includes when they talk about Lenny Kravitz - just try to listen to that without cracking up! Most of the time, it is entirely earned, and they do actually detail what their thoughts on things were and how they approached the different challenges of the production.

There is some disturbing content and a little moderate language in this. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys the series and wants to know more about how the silver screen entries were shaped. 8/10

Next time we see each other, we *have* to go somewhere interesting, 30 October 2015
4/10

Weyland(Henriksen, entranced, he must have figured third time's the charm for a bad take on this role) is looking into and for something ancient. Again. Oh, it gets worse. A colony on a planet owned by his corporation is attacked... yup. It must be the only story Rebellion knows to tell. At least this time, there's a hint of a plot. A boring, pointless, nothing of one, that flatly ends with a hint for another one, one that we'd rather have seen. Instead of following up on where we left off, because, why would you put creativity, thought and effort in, when the money will roll in regardless? You hear that, fan-boys? They couldn't care less! This is as lazy and phoned in as they come. That's not enough? Wall-Crawling is broken!

This does OK at balancing the three. This time, their meeting doesn't need to happen, and if we didn't want to see them face off – thankfully, not showy and wrestler-y, no, all lethal, no one would show up. They're all enjoyable enough to be. Well, when there's other people involved. Otherwise, it gets old within minutes. And that's in spite of the excessive streamlining, that significantly cuts down the variety from how exotic this is supposed to be, and has you wondering what the point of this even is. Why not Classes, Rules? You don't get to Facehug or Chestburst, and the PredAliens, Praetorians, Queens, etc. are all in the hands of the remarkably stupid AI. The graphics are fine. This does try to look, sound and feel like the films. It desperately wants to get some of the love we have for them. A lot easier than giving us something of its own. "Scrap", not book.

The license is why we're here. Let's be honest. Well, it's what got our attention, anyway. Why this lasts, beyond the hour and a half Xeno campaign, the 160 minute Marine one, and the remaining two hour one, is the multi-player. Ignoring the steep learning curve, that everyone else has it down already, the fact that today, essentially no one plays any other mode than the Species Deathmatch(TDM, with you and your brethren against the rest), you'll find one, maybe two, servers with people on it at any time, and that, even those, are limited to the 6(!) maps that come with this. That's unless you, against all better knowledge, pay for the two DLCs, which add two each, that, with a single exception, I didn't see played in the two weeks I wasted on this. Actually, they do add another two per. Playable only in the Survivor mode, which you can, and almost definitely only will, try yourself. If you don't get your wallet out, there won't be more than 2 for that one. It's v2.0 of their Skirmish. Well, with a lot of the cool stuff removed. Every limit you reach in this, that didn't have to be exactly the way it is, was the wrong place to put it.

If you go for Pyramid, you are in for a treat. The walls move, stairs that go in or back out, every few minutes. Yup, like in the terrible movie that this, for reasons I will never comprehend, fits into its continuity. Then again, I have no clue when this is set, so who knows. Anyway, here, it's great. Of course, it's the only one that has anything to offer. That goes for the six levels that the 3 share. Yup, they couldn't be bothered to do different ones for them. Sure, one might break something another one breaks, that's about it. Oh, and the "story", the entire napkin of it, is told in full only if you subject yourself to them all. Forget compelling characters, fitting themes, nemeses that have amazing boss fights, and not uninspired ones that baffle you with their placement and choice of who or what you take on.

The human weapons are too weak. End of sentence. Oh, unless there are as many of you as of them. That's very rarely the case, and where's the fun in that, anyway, isn't it "me taking down them"? This does go for the modern FPS thing of carrying capacity. Your... *sigh* infinite... ammo... pistol, and either two rifles or a Smartgun, and that's it, so choose wisely. Range, damage, speed, etc. Well, there's only 6. Total. Counting those. You know, because 8, 10, that was just too much content. The Predator has 5, not 6 or 8. Best I can come up with is that it's too even it out. That can be done in far better ways.

The awkward rock-paper-scissors mêlée is how a lot of the one-on-one goes down. You don't put away anything to engage in it, so it's always available. The attacks go as follows: Quick, which can be blocked but stops Heavy, which otherwise hits, and hard, at that. Lunging has you throw yourself before striking, and may knock down your target, opening them up for you to finish them off. One way to do this, leaving you very vulnerable that also instakills, is the Grab. Look on – you can't do anything else until it's done – as you tear out a tongue, snap a spine, penetrate a body or the like. Of course, where the '79 original introduced the rapey imagery, this puts it in the hands of the player. If sexual abuse is in a game, and I'm not saying it shouldn't be, it should be treated with respect. Follow up on it, explore how it affects the victim. Don't reward it, put it up as something cool you get to do.

There is a lot of strong language, and a little gore, that, though brutal, is limited to aforementioned finisher, in spite of it being everywhere else in the franchises in this. If you've already thrown up by now and are back to check, I don't recommend this to anyone. 4/10

6 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
In the top 3 of these, 23 October 2015
8/10

The Fleeges move into a house and strange things start happening. Can they protect their daughter? That is the theme again, this time focused on the child's mind. Leila(George, another in the line of creepy and incredibly well-acted, kids, in these) grows increasingly distant, even non-responsive, to her worried parents. She's talking to something they can't see. With the naked eye, that is. In the basement they find a series of 20-year-old tapes that may help explain things, and that we instantly recognize. With it is a spirit photography camera, and, yet again, surveillance is set up to watch the vulnerable person sleeping. That is this particular entry's new, creative element, and is the most interesting in all of them. It can only cover so much, and when it's stationary, it might not show something vital, and they're forced to cut to a regular one, and we immediately worry about what we now can't make out. And while we can, no one else can see the other dimension and its activity, when they aren't looking through the viewfinder. And that's where the daring idea, and its 3D(which you *have to* watch this in), comes into play. We now actually see a little of what is affecting things. *And*. It breaks the fourth wall and is right there for us to reach out and touch. In a mockumentary! And yes, it will come right at us. This is the final chapter. It required(not just "took") six films(if you go in blind, you will just barely be able to keep up! I hope someone tries it, it's gonna be one heck of a ride) to get us here, and it all comes together. The signs are there from right away, they're taken seriously, outside help is called in and has significant expertise... if evil wins this time, it's going to have to bring all it's got.

This could have broken too far from the formula. The supernatural being more aggressive and overt could have made this stray. I'm completely satisfied, as a fan of the series who's willing to call it out when it doesn't live up to expectations. 2 was a classic sequel, going bigger thinking it equals better, and only barely needed to exist. 4 went all teen, showed signs of franchise fatigue and was generally not up to par. And The Marked Ones, as fun and surprising as it is, it being a breath of fresh air for these doesn't cover up that it's essentially Chronicle with a Latino cast. The original could be better, and clearly was made with no pretensions of being the start of something this big. Heck, even 3 isn't perfect. And I could never have guessed that this would pay off on every hint, every set up aspect, every single twist and turn of these. Sequel-baiting so rarely leads to this level of closure. Every character has some personality, development and distinguishes themselves from the rest. One is a comic relief, there's a skeptic, and their actions can have us going "nooo, that's a huge mistake!". But they respond to what's going on, taking it seriously, and not capturing it "just to see", for documenting. They are active, not passive, and always go for solving, not "explaining away".

There is a lot of strong language and some violent and disturbing content in this. I recommend this to anyone who'd go for a found footage fantasy horror with the special glasses. Watch it with a crowd and sleep with the lights on. 8/10


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