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Tomb Raider (2013)
A gritty reboot of the classic franchise that will delight both new fans and old
Console: Xbox 360
Estimated gameplay time (main story): 12-15 hours
When the news came out that the classic Lara Croft: Tomb Raider series was being completely rebooted, I was a little nervous about how they were going to pull it off. As a die-hard fan of the series and an avid collector of everything Lara Croft, I was hoping against hope that this game would be awesome. Turns out, all my worries have been completely put to rest by this amazing new game.
Tomb Raider is, essentially, the origins story of Lara Croft and the story is this: she's on an expedition looking for the lost kingdom of Queen Himiko and the Yamatai when the ship she's on is wrecked on a mysterious island in the Dragon's Triangle (pretty much the Japanese version of the Bermuda Triangle). So begins an epic struggle to escape the island's mysterious inhabitants, rescue her separated crew and get off the island.
Tomb Raider is one of the most enjoyable games I've ever played and arguably the best game in the Tomb Raider franchise. It's the first Tomb Raider to be rated 17+ (MA15+ in Australia) and it certainly shows. There are BIG amounts of blood and gore in this game, and some parts will make you cringe like nothing else (people who've played the game already will know what I'm talking about).
The visuals are utterly gorgeous, pushing the Xbox's capabilities to the limit. There is a simply stunning amount of detail as well, from the dirt and blood that coats Lara at times to the sheer scale of the environments.
Character development is top-notch, especially for Lara, showcasing her dramatic journey from frightened young woman to hardened survivor. She's also far more realistic than she was in previous games, with more believable proportions and skills. Her movements are much more realistic as well, and for the first time she really shows emotion, not just in cut scenes. Voice acting is pretty good across the board, with Camilla Luddington in particular doing some great work for Lara. She really suits the character.
Combat is, frankly, awesome. To start off with you only have a bow and arrow, but even this is a lot of fun. Later on, a pistol, rifle and shotgun are also added to the weapons list. Unfortunately, no unlimited ammo this time around, but that only makes the game even more realistic.
The game is pretty evenly spaced between exploring and combat. And relax, there ARE tombs to explore in this game, but they're not a big part of the main story. A good feature of the game is you can go back to past locations and explore tombs or the general area for more rewards, which unlock weapons and skills.
Overall, Tomb Raider is an amazing, well-written, exciting, realistic and gritty reboot of the classic game franchise. Die-hard fans and new fans alike will love this great game, which is easily one of the best games of 2013 so far.
The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
An excellent historical drama
Director: Michael Mann Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means, Steven Waddington
Story: British and French troops are battling in colonial America, with aid from various native American war parties. The British troops enlist the help of local militia men. A British Colonel gets three native trappers to protect his daughters. A romance begins between one of the colonel's daughters (Madeleine Stowe) and an independent man who was reared as a Mohican (Daniel Day-Lewis). This complicates things for a British officer (Steven Waddington). They all try to survive in the middle of the harsh war.
My brother has been trying to convince me to watch The Last Of The Mohicans for quite a while, and last night I finally watched it. And I enjoyed it immensely. Daniel Day-Lewis is fantastic as the native Mohican named Hawkeye. And that's really to be expected, as Day-Lewis is an insanely talented actor. The other characters are very well acted also, in particular Steven Waddington as the young British officer.
The action scenes are well choreographed, although quite violent, especially in one surprisingly gruesome part (watch the movie, you'll know what I'm talking about). The music is what it needs to be: beautiful in the soft, emotional parts; fast-paced in the action scenes; and often ethnic-style instruments are used, making a tribal sort-of sound that matches well with the native Indian theme and the beautiful, old landscapes. Scenery is a plus in the movie, with plenty of long panning shots of lovely green forests and pristine lakes. There is a medium amount of romance in the movie, although it only really extends to kissing and nothing overly explicit is shown.
All in all, this is quite a fantastic movie. It's superb for anyone who enjoys well-made, fantastically acted historical dramas. I definitely wouldn't recommend reading the book though, as pretty much everyone I know has described it as virtually unreadable. Certainly worth a watch.
A fantastic animated film that will delight children and fascinate everyone.
Spirited Away, otherwise known as the movie that catapulted Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki to international fame, is a terrific viewing experience. While I enjoyed the excellent Princess Mononoke more, I can easily say that this is the better movie.
This movie is about a young, slightly spoiled girl called Chihiro. While driving to her new house, her father accidentally turns down the wrong road. They come to a strange tunnel built into the hillside, and despite Chihiro's protests, both her parents decide to have a look. On the other side of the hill, they come across a strange looking town with no one in sight. Chihiro's father realizes it's an abandoned amusement park, and they begin to explore, although Chihiro herself wants to turn back. While in the amusement park, Chihiro's parents discover a large table set with delicious food, which they immediately start to eat, gorging on it. Chihiro wanders off alone, but then is approached by a young, handsome boy who warns her to leave. She returns to her parents, but is horrified to discover they have been turned into pigs. She is whisked away by the young boy (named Haku), who explains that after dark, the abandoned theme park turns into a refuge and bathhouse for spirits. At his advice, she gets a job in the lively bathhouse under the command of Ubaba, the boss of the house. Ubaba turned Chihiro's parents into pigs because they had gorged on a feast for the spirits. Chihiro begins working in the bathhouse, hopeful that her parents will be turned back into humans before it's too late.
Spirited Away won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film and it's not hard to see why. Every frame is filled with color and life and the characters are ones that you'll remember for a long time. As always with Studio Ghibli movies, the music is brilliant, with wonderfully beautiful songs like the piano solo "Inochi No Namae" (The Name Of Life) and "Always With Me", which is played during the end credits. A common theme that runs through Studio Ghibli movies is that of a strong female character. It's refreshing to see an anime girl that isn't loud and annoying. Chihiro is a great character: she's brave, smart and likable, with lots of life and spirit.
Spirited Away is (in my opinion) one of the greatest animated films ever made. Children will watch it for the vibrant color and animation, and adults will watch it for the compelling storyline. Whatever your age, you are sure to love this movie.
This movie is the reason I love anime
I first watched Princess Mononoke a year ago, when a friend of mine recommended it to me. I'd never really liked anime, but I gave it a shot anyway, because it looked interesting. Within in the first twenty minutes, I was hooked.
The story takes place in an old-style Japan setting. It's about a young prince in a village called Ashitaka. One day he fights and kills a boar demon that was threatening to destroy his village, but in the process he is gravely wounded with a dangerous curse. The curse fills him with hatred; pain, a lust for violence, all this as it also slowly starts to kill him. Shunned by his village, he is forced to leave and search for a cure for the curse. He goes on a journey to the far-off mountains where the boar demon supposedly came from, hopeful for a solution to his problem. When he gets there, he discovers a town that is mining from the mountains and the surrounding forest, but they're slowly destroying the forest and all the creatures that live there. While staying in the village, it's attacked by a pack of wolves and a young girl called San, who lives with and was raised by the wolves. They're defending the forest and all the creatures that live in it, especially the magnificent forest spirit, which the villagers plan to kill in order to destroy the forest. Ashitaka decides to stop the villagers from killing the forest spirit because he knows the forest is sacred and beautiful, but he wants to avoid violence at all costs. Princess Mononoke has the title of being both the first anime film I ever saw, and also one of my favorite anime films of all time.
The artwork and animation is gorgeous; the landscapes are beautiful and vast, the forests simply amazing, the characters excellently designed and the violent yet incredible battle scenes are drawn attentively, down to the last, tiny detail. For some anime movies or TV shows, I've noticed the English dub is poor compared to the original Japanese audio, but in this movie the English dub might even be better. The voices match the characters very well, even though they're speaking in American accents.
The music is part of my main love for this movie. As a musician, I often listen more keenly than others to the background music for movies or TV shows. And I can say this movie has one of the best original scores I've ever heard. The music is oriental in style, as can be expected of an anime film, but the main thing I love about it is because it sounds so different to any other piece of music I've heard. With some American movies, the music is very dramatic and beautiful (think Lord Of The Rings), but it's still undeniably film music because it's predictable in parts. However, with Princess Mononoke, the music was unpredictable, but still brilliant, almost to the point of sounding like a piece of real classical music. The music suits every situation perfectly; it blends into the scenes so well that it almost seems to become part of that scene.
In summary, Princess Mononoke is an absolutely brilliant movie, and one that should not be missed. I know that Spirited Away is considered the best of the Studio Ghibli films, but personally, I enjoyed Princess Mononoke more. It's darker, richer in music, artwork and is more adult than Spirited Away. It's one of the best animated films I've ever seen.
An awesome Disney movie for so many reasons ...
Finally, Disney has a great feminist character! Disney has created a beautifully artistic and cultural movie, with an excellent story, in the form of Mulan.
The story: Mulan is a young Chinese girl preparing for a life as a housewife, but she knows she's far too strong-minded to be something as menial as that. When the Huns invade China, her father (the only male in the household), is selected to fight in the army, despite the fact he has old wounds that prevent him from fighting properly. Determined to save her father, Mulan disguises herself as a man and takes his place in the army.
This movie has been a personal favorite of mine ever since I saw it when I was a little girl. Since I watched it, Mulan has constantly been a role model of mine: she is a girl who's brave, who will do anything for her family, a girl who dares to be different, and a girl who dares to follow her dreams, and her heart.
But the character of Mulan isn't the only awesome thing about this movie. The other characters are excellent and not at all one-dimensional. Eddie Murphy - who voices the tiny, jive-talking dragon Mushu - is hilarious most of the time. Shan-Yu has to be one of the best villains Disney has created in a long time. Shang is interesting, but is possibly the weakest, least-developed character of all.
The music is wonderful, the battle scenes are epic, the song items don't interfere with the story at all, and the detail is beautiful. My only complaint is that it could have been a bit longer. I would have liked some more development within the story and with the separate characters.
Nonetheless, an awesome Disney movie!
La fille du puisatier (2011)
A nice, sweet French movie
I happened to catch this sweet film at the Alliance Francais French Film Festival in Adelaide today, as my French class went for an excursion. I was pleasantly surprised. The Well Diggers Daughter is a simple story: set during World War I in France, the young daughter (Patricia Amoretti) of a poor well digger falls in love with a young, handsome, rich pilot (Jaques Mazel). They share some moments together, but almost immediately he is called away to fight on the front line in the war. He leaves and three weeks later is presumed dead, due to his plane being shot down in flames and crashing behind enemy lines. Meanwhile, the young well diggers daughter is now pregnant. Shocked, her father disowns her and sends her to live with her aunt.
The Well Diggers Daughter was a nice, feel-good movie about family and young love. All the characters were very well acted, in particular the father (who I'm pretty sure was actually played by the film's director).
The scenery was just gorgeous. In almost every scene, there were these beautiful wide, establishing shots of the countryside, which always had a lot of trees, barely any civilization and lots of sunshine and waving grasses.
The music was also great. I noticed in the credits that all the music was composed by a personal favorite: Alexandre Desplat, who actually wrote the music for New Moon (that was a bad movie, but the music was beautiful).
The only problem I have with this movie is that it was a bit cheesy. Especially at the end, everything was sorted out perfectly fine, with everybody happy. And rather abruptly, the character of Jaques came back, perfectly fine, from the war, where he was meant to have died. I was disappointed by that, not that he lived of course, but that everything was suddenly just fine.
It was an enjoyable, sweet film about family and love.
Probably The Worst Episode So Far ...
I, like many other people on IMDb, am a huge fan of How I Met Your Mother. I've been a fan ever since the show started, back in 2005, when I was just eight. I've always loved the blend of humour and sarcasm as well as the amazing characters. Barney has pretty much become close to my favourite character in any TV series or movie. The show's always been consistently great as well.
So it was a mega disappointment to see this episode. I'm not sure what went wrong, but it was very disjointed, like someone had done a bad editing job. The plot was all over the place and pretty bad. And I barely laughed at all, which is a rare thing for me.
It's not just this episode though. How I Met Your Mother has been decreasing in quality as of late, and my guess is that it's because the show has now reached it's seventh season. It's started to become less about the actual story of how Ted met their mother and more about random things that don't tie into the plot at all!
The show is slowly but steadily running out of laughs and good plot points as well. In the first couple of seasons, the humour was brilliant, the stories great and even the slightly corny sentimental sum-up at the end of each episode was still nice. Now, everything feels rushed and stale, and this episode is a perfect example of that.
How I Met Your Mother is getting old fast. As a loyal fan, I'll keep watching, but I really hope it gets better soon.
Could have been really good . . .
Okay, first things first, I actually liked this movie to begin with. The story is pretty simple, that of aliens coming down to Earth to abduct all the humans and make the planet their own. People see this mystical blue light and are entranced by it, and then they get sucked up by the alien spacecraft. This story is focused in LA, and a group of friends are recovering after a very late party, when the aliens first attack. After a couple of friends are abducted, the group has a choice. Either stay in the apartment, and stay sort-of safe, or make it across the road to a boat, where aliens cannot reach them (aliens can't go over water for some reason). The first impression is pretty cool, with the rad special effects and the people getting sucked up everywhere, and people yelling and stuff. But a couple of things quickly let the movie down. Number 1: Turk dying (yes, I know the actors real name is Donald Faison, but he'll always be Turk to me). Turk was by far the coolest actor and his death was both unnecessary and annoying. If the writers had bothered to put in such an awesome character, why did they have to kill him so quickly (he dies in the first 30 minutes)? Number 2: The completely wacky and stupid things that happened for the rest of the story. The end is completely stupid and so is a lot of stuff that happens. I kept waiting for this movie to get better, but it didn't. As a fan of classic films, this is only my opinion, so fans of the science-fiction genre will probably get some form of entertainment out of this.
The Master of Disguise (2002)
Not the best, but definitely not the worst.
I accidentally taped this movie one night a long time ago, when I was about 9 or 10. I watched it the next day, and I thought it was hilarious. Granted, that was 4 or 5 years ago, but I still think it's a pretty funny movie. Dana Carvey is a comedic genius, and I thought his part in this film was fantastic. The fact that he masquerades as a lot of slightly retarded and incredibly funny characters is probably the reason why. I look at this movie and I think, now why couldn't I do that? This movie is definitely aimed at audiences who love low-brow, stupid comedy, but for a movie that is aimed at those people, it is actually fairly good. It could have been a lot worse. With quite a few laugh-out-loud moments, this movie redeems itself from the amateur acting, many goofs, and silly storyline. The acting is . . . reasonable, for a movie of this standard, and although the storyline is beyond silly, it fits the whole comedic theme of the movie. So, this movie will be okay for anyone who doesn't mind stupid comedy and is just looking for a laugh.