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My IMDB movie related scores/reviews:
You can't create a post without a body
Interesting comment from a 'guest' poll approval gatekeeper on the Polls forum to me (after my poll suggestions weren't getting up)...this guy:
"Therefore, none of your suggestions will ever be made into polls.
Don't bother posting in this forum again" and
"I'm just going to put you in my ignore list. I suggest you do the same to me".
Those two comments can be found in separate posts in this thread:
http://www.imdb.com /board/bd0000088/thr ead/225011369?d=2250 11369#225011369
Ironically, my poll for the greatest Australian mini-series/short run series did go live not long after...but...since it seems a waste of time to suggest polls which aren't US/"The dark knight" centric I'm deleting my poll suggestions in that forum.
* Libra, if you're reading this, let me know if you still want to continue our correspondence...I had about 3 pages left of your last reply to get through before IMDB did the unforgiveable...I can't even access your profile, your old posts or PM you! If you're still interested, you can email me using this ID I have here and send it to the site signifying very high temperature mail...Bill's site. If you're happy to leave things here, it wsa fun while it lasted!
New criterion: for comedy dramas, it's running time determines whether it makes this list or my "Australian drama" list. I.e. shows which take up a 30 minute time slot will go here, whilst programmes with a 60 minute time slot (on commercial tv) will go in my drama list.
I'll extend this list to include series like "Phoenix" and "Janus" which were some 26 episodes in total screened over two years. My intention is to list programmes that were designed for a short run only, not shows which were axed after a short while due to low ratings etc.
Since this poll went live before I could tweak it, I'll just now add other titles which I would have included in an extended list if I had had that opportunity...I'll mark them with an asterisk "*".
P.S. I could have done a Brownlow style voting system, personally...i.e. top 3, from 1st:
3 points - Through my eyes 2 points - Vietnam 1 point - Seven little Australians
It's a toss up for the top spot between my top pick and 2nd pick. I also could have given "Return to Eden" a spot too. Some other titles have nostalgia value too but it would be too much of risk to name them without revisiting them sometime.
I'm adding today (02/05/2014) box office results for these films via information from Wikipedia. I'll try and add data about how many AFI (i.e. Australian Film Institute) Awards some of these films got as well...but I won't be fanatical about this.
N.B. The A.F.I. Awards are now knows as AACTA Awards! Wikipedia states:
"The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award, known as the AACTA Awards".
Hopefully the following URLs are useful for people looking for box office information on Australian movies:
Various all time box office records:
Current weekly box office results and archives from early 1997:
Weekend and yearly takings from 2000 onwards:
Year on year total admissions and total box office results:
I initially started out giving Wikipedia box office results in Australia for a small number of films but am now using the Screen Australia link for top 100 Australian movies of all time box office returns...which I think Wikipedia maybe citing in any case. The all time box office ranking also comes via Screen Australia's list of the top 100 grossing Australian movies of all time, in Australia.
*N.B. I should point out that the order of box office takings films would no doubt change once you adjust for inflation...which these rankings aren't...see an example of this in my entry for "Crocodile Dundee".
AFI Best film winners and nominees:
I'll now include games that I've played before I got into the habit of reviewing them or games that I just never got around to finishing. These are the games that will appear after the long strong of PS3 titles that fill the top of my list.
IMDB in its brilliance has obscured the "Next" button underneath their self-promotion pop-ups...managed to fix that myself with the shortened URLs but gee, how hard is it for IMDB to create a rule which prevents the "Next" button from being obscured by their advertising links?
[Originally submitted as a Poll but withdrawn as it seems to me only Polls with "The dark knight" as a voting option get approved to go live, unfortunately.]
Titles in alphabetical order.
I'm not including series which had a short story arc, like "Janus" and "Phoenix", which appear in my List for Australian mini-series and short run series. Series which may have only run for one or two years and were axed will be included here too.
Some useful links:
The Last of Us (2013)
The best PlayStation 3 exclusive that I've played and a reason to own it. 85+%
3rd person shooter/stealth game with a sci-fi/horror premise
Various locations in contemporary America (urban, rural, wild). The time that the game is (initially) set in was just a few months after the game was released, so it's now set in the past...until the game moves the story some twenty years into the future...which is still our future, too. When the game shifts to a future time (pretty early on), you get a good depiction of the urban decay which has occurred in the meantime.
Drawing from "truth is stranger than fiction" science, "The last of us" imagines a world destroyed by a horrible pathogen. Most of humanity is wiped out when they become infected by fungal spores which turns them into something akin to "zombies". Whilst there is a kernel of truth to the concept raised here, the game developers have had to (of course) fashion something fantastical in order to make for a compelling game.
We play as "Joel" for most of the game, who is approaching middle age and trying to survive in this post-Apocalyptic world, surrounded by "the infected". Joel has become hardened to this new reality for humanity.
Soon Joel will have to take charge of the young teenage girl Ellie, a situation that neither of them wants. The game is their journey together, fighting off the infected and hostile humans as Joel seeks to meet his end of the bargain when he reluctantly agreed to accompany Ellie to where she was supposed to go to.
Very good. From memory, the visuals had a "grainy" look to them, but otherwise the visuals are top quality. This would be my first review of a game where I mention motion capture...it's of the highest order, for both movement and facial expressions. It sets the high- water mark for this facet of games.
Along with terrific motion capture and facial expressions for the characters in the game, the performances are also of the highest order...another high-water mark for video games.
* There is a surprising amount of the game that you can approach stealthily and, in fact, sometimes you only learn later (watching videos, say) that some sections that you thought that you needed to go in guns blazing could, in fact, be approached stealthily.
* Apart from avoiding conflict altogether, you can do stealth kills or use firearms. Weapons can be upgraded to be more effective.
Good about the game:
* Sets a new benchmark in games for effectively combining gameplay with the cinematic.
Bad about the game:
* Having purchased the extra difficultly level "Grounded", which is the hardest difficulty level in the game, I have to say that there are some sections of the game which made it seem impossible to be able to progress beyond. Often that was due to the extremely harsh autosave points in some encounters. In other words, there are some extremely tough encounters that you have to go through and the game won't save when you've gotten past the first wave of an attack...you'll only progress to the next section after having defeated all (seemingly never- ending) waves of an encounter.
* On the higher difficulties especially, it's extremely annoying when you're trying to move stealthily around to avoid or combat enemies and your companion (usually Ellie) will move right on top of you, making you unable to accomplish stealth actions. It's just bad AI and makes the characters look stupid). It will also likely lead to your character's death. Your companion can also block exits or get in your line of fire.
Annoying about the game:
* Loading times can be very long. Even more annoying, if you're failing in that section involving shooting the infected when you're upside down, there is an unskippable cutscene which follows when the game has reloaded to the start of that section.
* For a long time it was mysterious to me what a flashing symbol on the screen was for...I worked out it was the torch...which, for some reason, runs out power very quickly.
* Missing cues in the game which help you progress, simple things like how on Earth you get to your boost your female companion to a higher position. The section with the raft is another example.
* Gunplay can be an issue (it was for me). Can be fiddly switching them. I really appreciated one part of the game, where your character is hanging upside down, where you could shoot the infected with the aid of auto-aim. This section was a lot more frustrating on Grounded difficulty where you had to aim manually.
* There was an "on rails" like section of this game, which is a common feature of the Uncharted franchise, but, fortunately, I manage to guess right as to which way to go next, so I didn't have to repeat this section a lot of times in order to progress, like can sometimes happen in the Uncharted franchise.
* You can lose collectibles if you reload.
* Whilst I've scored this game higher than I did for "Bioshock infinite", I have to say that the latter affected me more, as far as the story goes, so I have to say that "The last of us" is the second best game that I've played on the PS3 platform. That being said, both games are so good that all the other games that I've played on PS3 don't really reach the same heights that these do. Both of these games would have justified buying the PS3 console, although "Bioshock infinite" wasn't a PS3 exclusive title.
* I didn't pick Nolan North as being in this game. He's very good in a striking role.
A compelling war story with heart. 75%
3rd person shooter, tactical turn based combat with role-playing game elements.
A parallel Earth, modelled on World War II politics, with the major continent being "Europa" (not "Europe"...although the game does slip up sometimes, with on-screen text having "European" appearing). Being a parallel world, there are anachronistic weapons to be used, as well as some fictional weapons. For instance, one class of fighter, the lancer, has futuristic lances which are modelled on mediaeval lances (in that the ones in Europa can fire rockets to damage or destroy tanks).
You witness the country of Gallia get dragged into The Second Europan War through the eyes of young Welkin Gunther, as he is in the middle of a frolic looking at insects, which he has a deep interest in. The war is a result of an alliance of nations seeking to get the lion's share of an important mineral resource ("ragnite", which is a fictional substance) for their economic and military ambitions. Ragnite has become scarcer, hence the alliance's desire to access it, through military means.
As the son of Gallia's First Europan War hero, General Belgen Gunther, Welkin has some very big shoes to fill, as he gets to lead a diverse squad in defending Gallia and take the fight to the invaders.
The game nicely brings out the backstories of the soldiers in Welkin's squad, as well as other characters that they have to engage with.
Storybook, watercolour, colour pencil art style. Looks nice. The major characters all look distinctive due to their age or physique etc.
All the major characters (as well as minor characters in your squad who you may never meet if you don't rotate your squad) sound distinct and easily identifiable through their voice or the things that they say.
Since I haven't played a lot of games like this, I'd say that it most reminds me of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, as far as the squad system goes and the turn based combat (however, unlike XCOM:EU, your squad can target any enemy when they move).
Your squad can include lancers (a soldier with a lance which has a rocket-propelled grenade type attachment); snipers; troopers (the grunts), scouts (which can move a long way but do a lot less damage in combat) and engineers (which, like scouts, can move a long way and do less damage when they attack, but they can repair your tanks and clear paths of mines). Most of the time Welkin will be be driving a tank, which can do the equivalent of aerial bombardment on enemy positions, should you wish to do that...but such an action costs more points.
Every turn you have a certain number of points to allocate to your squad's actions. You can gain extra points by including certain squad members in a mission or by not using all your points in a turn (so they accumulate to the next turn, allowing your to do more moves in your next turn).
Another difference with XCOM: EU is that Valkyria Chronicles has a real focus on story, which the former doesn't. So, the game is like being told a bedtime story at times, but you still get to have your combat missions too.
As with XCOM: EU, there is permadeath for most of your squad members if you can't revive them with your squad members or a medic.
Good about the game:
The story and characters. I felt genuine emotion when I lost one of my squad (it was unavoidable in the narrative). Thinking I could have done something to save them, I reloaded to an earlier save to do so...but unsuccessfully.
There is a depth to this game as far as dramatic and narrative themes go. Modelling itself on World War II, there are some "dark" moments to this game but more in a thematic way than graphic violence, of which there isn't really any...it's just conveyed through dialogue.
Bad about the game:
The most horrible thing about this game is that you can't skip the AI's turn to get to your turn...if the AI has a lot of points it can use to make moves, the waiting time can seem interminable.
* For some people, a game design choice will really make their blood boil, but if you're "hardcore" and after a challenge, you may enjoy it! I.e. some of your potential squad members have certain traits which can render them ineffective at times in battle under certain situations...or they may become less effective in battle. What kind of traits? Allergies...prejudices...bias, etc. I had to look up many of their conditions in a dictionary!
* Very occasionally I had to go online to see videos or explanations of how to progress in certain parts of the game.
* I did get annoyed when on my upgrade path to discover that I had missed a lot of opportunities to upgrade my weapons because I hadn't of noticed that you could scroll down for more upgrade options! Sheesh!
* As with XCOM: EU, you can miss enemies when in point-blank range!
* One of the voice actor's names was familiar to me...April Stewart...I just looked her up on Wikipedia and it turns out that I know her name from the TV cartoon "South Park". Wikipedia also says that she voices two characters in Valkyria Chronicles.
* I was surprised to see in the end credit for the game that Nolan North voiced a character.
* The Federation ambassador sounded a bit Churchillian to me.
* Your squad is Europan...so why do they sound American?
* An animal character in the story brought to mind "Poochie", from The Simpsons!
Alien: Covenant (2017)
You know the drill by now...but now the plot holes are starting to bother me: 70%
This sequel to "Prometheus" and prequel to "Alien" treads the well-worn path of films in this franchise: a spacecraft intercepts a distress signal and changes its course in order to investigate...and then the crew come face-to-face with the horror that is the alien species which will either eat them or use the humans' bodies as a means of incubating its alien offspring.
Since it's been many years since I've seen "Prometheus" (I saw it during its cinema run as well), I have to say that I'd already forgotten the details of it when I sat down in the cinema to watch this latest instalment. For that reason, I'd suggest that you watch "Alien: Covenant" soon after watching "Prometheus", if you can, unless you have a really good memory! That being said, I did recognise Guy Pearce from the previous film...but drew a blank later on in the film when the character Elizabeth Shaw is mentioned...and she was the main character from that film! In other words, I couldn't remember what happened to her at the end of the previous film.
When I saw a trailer for this film many, many weeks ago, I have to say that I did find it misleading...it started off as if it was a film about humans colonising a new planet and then the trailer seemed to morph into an ad for a new "Alien" film. It made me wonder if I had missed some sort of break between trailers for two different films. I'm still wondering if a scene from that early part of the trailer was actually in the film! That being said, yes, "Alien: Covenant" does start the story off with a spacecraft (the "Covenant" of the title) travelling through space, carrying a cargo of breeding age humans, to colonise a new planet. Apart from one male, all the other humans are in suspended animation (anabiosis), seeing as the planet that they are going to is so far away. This being part of the "Alien" franchise, you know that things are going to go pear-shaped pretty quickly!
At times you wonder if the narrative is just meandering, like the spacecraft repair scene...but it is actually tight, as it moves the plot forward...eventually.
The ending of "Alien: Covenant" is obviously the starting point to another sequel, but I do wonder how well it will explain the aftermath of that ending as well as providing a bridge to the events of the original "Alien" film. i.e. presumably there is a lot at stake with the ending of "Alien: Covenant" but I'm not sure that there was any signs of how that played out in the original "Alien" film. It just seems going around circles, which isn't really satisfying, from my point of view. Going around in circles...yet another distress signal...with yet another spacecraft going to investigate, like a fly into a Venus flytrap...with yet more lethal aliens to encounter.
From memory, I found the earlier film hard to follow and looking at my review for it now, that is confirmed, along with some other elements of the film which I had forgotten. Even though "Alien: Covenant" tries to spend more time explaining the origin of the aliens, I have to say that that often raised more questions than it answered for me! It mentions "the virus" and I have to confess that I have no memory of that concept being used in "Prometheus"! There's also scenes of what looks like fungi being trodden on by humans, which releases what I assume to be "the virus"...and that really doesn't make any sense to me. Is it a virus? Is it fungal spores? How does this all hang together? Okay, let's talk about all the other things that bug me about this film...the plot holes, if you will, or just the absurdities
One thing that bugged me a lot in this film was just how rapidly large, lethal aliens developed in such a short time. Of course, this is narratively driven, as the film wants to focus on a very short period of time and it's "required" for the aliens to develop quickly as a result. Well, that just made me wish the film was set in another context! E.g. on a farm, where the alien could prey on livestock...or small children...before it was big enough to kill even armed adults. Perhaps this was still an issue in the original "Alien" film...but I suppose it was just less pronounced in how quickly the alien grew to a scary size.
Also, in this film the alien seems different in kind from previous films in the franchise...it's more akin to a psychopath in a slasher film than something that needs to kill humans in order to eat or create offspring.
Even though I shouldn't have thoughts like the following, I can't help myself! Okay, I'm having problems with the notion of just how sustainable a human-alien co-existence would be. It seems to me that the aliens would be an existential threat to humanity...in which case, if they no longer have any prey, how on Earth are aliens themselves going to continue multiplying?
* The end credits have an "In memory of" for Julie Payne. Not sure who she is.
* Katherine Waterston as Daniels "Dany" Branson is good...she is small in stature but continues the franchise's form in having strong female characters...she's the alpha female, so to speak.
* Looking at my notes for "Prometheus" I noted the stupidity of the crew in that film...with this current film, I have to note how the latter part of the film is just Murphy's law writ large (ignoring the franchise trope of how humans keep coming into contact with the aliens!).
Binary Domain (2012)
An entertaining and amusing 3rd person sci-fi shooter. 72.5+%
3rd person shooter with a sci-fi premise
Japan, 2080 AD
You play as Dan, a member of an elite "Rust crew" (a military style force) which takes action against people or organisations which breach the New Geneva Convention, specifically dealing with breaches concerning the research into, or the manufacture of, robots which could pass for humans (known as "hollow children" in the game). Occasionally you will meet "Hollow children" in this game, but the set pieces of this game usually involve battles against ridiculously large robot bosses! Most of the time you have to destroy humanoid looking robots (although these are not "Hollow children"), so this game is a departure from a lot of combat games where your enemies are humans.
During the game you can swap the two Rust Crew which accompany you for most of the game and you have 5 to choose from, not including some non-Rust Crew characters. One of your Rust Crew members is a humanoid looking robot...with a thick French accent!
Games which were brought to mind by Binary Domain included Mass Effect 2 (for the former's "trust" system, which bears a slight similarity to the latter's "loyalty" system, as well as for the cover system in combat); Metal Gear Solid sequels (for boss battles) and Uncharted (for gameplay). I could throw in, perhaps, Dead Space, for how the characters move but I'm not too certain on that front, as I stopped playing Dead Space quite early on, due to finding the gameplay frustrating.
Very good, although not outstanding like AAA (triple A) games can be. No complaints from me, in any case. The action is obviously funnelled at times, so you can't always explore environments.
Amusing introduction as far as the dialogue goes. One character, known as "Big Bo" often says "A'ight" and "Booyah!"...which reminded me of the Ali G character, from "Da Ali G show" on TV. The script is serviceable, not aiming for the heights of games like Uncharted 2. Aiming for fun, the characters aren't really designed to have any great depth to them.
Good about the game:
* Playing on the normal difficulty setting, this game is a lot of fun. Some elements of it reminds me of the Uncharted series but I think that this game surpasses it in how the gameplay and narrative/cinematic elements hang together.
* Interesting philosophical themes concerning artificial intelligence.
* Collectible items are numbered even the ones that you didn't find and you can replay chapters which are indicated as having the collectible that you are missing. Even though I didn't use this system for that purpose, I assume that you have to annoyingly replay an entire chapter to find your missing collectible. So, that part counts as a bad thing about the game, i.e. an ability to go to a specific part of a chapter to find a collectible would be welcome.
* Enemy attacks can have good signalling at times, helping you to stay alive long enough to defeat them.
* Cutscenes can be skipped.
* Enemy AI is good.
Bad about the game:
* On a few occasions on the normal difficulty setting, the gameplay did get frustrating. However, when I played it on the hardest difficulty level available to you after first completing the game, the whole experience becomes intolerable. I've stopped playing the game twice, so far. Somehow I managed to progress past one section which I was finding impossible, and now I'm stuck at a section where you have to defeat a giant robot-motorcyle boss. It's the lack of save spots/checkpoints which are the real killer in this case...the difficulty is so great because the battles are interminable and if you die, you usually have to start right from the beginning again.
* I've favourably compared this game to the Uncharted series for the things that it does better than it, but, on the other hand, the parts of this game which I dislike the most (frustrate me) are those parts which remind me of those Uncharted moments which I hated in that game! The first Uncharted game had a section where you jet ski up a river. I hated that. Binary Domain also has a jet ski section. Which I also hate! Really, I just find the lack of save spots/checkpoints in the game to be totally unacceptable, especially on the harder difficulty settings. It really makes playing the game unpleasant and I wouldn't criticise anyone for just giving up the game in frustration and never returning to it.
* Like Uncharted, from memory, Binary Domain also can have frustrating camera angles, not giving you a good perspective of the gameplay, forcing you to fight the camera all the time, in some sections of the game.
* Beating bosses can feel random.
* I recommend this game, especially on the normal difficulty setting, which isn't frustrating too often...but on the harder difficulty settings it may prove impossible to beat unless you are an elite game with a masochistic streak!
* Either late in 2016 or maybe in early 2017, I had a look at the online part of this game. There are still people playing this game! That surely is a positive comment about this game, right? I didn't actually play this game online though. One player I saw was Level 50...so, really hardcore.
* Dan kind of looks like the male version of Shepard in Mass Effect.
* Rachael reminded me visually of Boss in "Metal Gear Solid 3".
* Squadmate says something like 'Is there no end to these enemies?'. Seems so!
Crysis 3 (2013)
The best game in the trilogy and a good way to end the story. 75%
Genre: First person shooter with a sci-fi premise.
Like Crysis 2, you're in New York City, which is in lockdown mode. The year is 2047, 24 years after Crysis 2.
Since this is final instalment of the Crysis series, it's obviously the conclusion of the human Nanosuit soldiers' war against the technologically advanced alien Ceph occupiers and the human Crynet organisation, which seeks to rule the Earth with absolute power. Nanosuits are technologically advanced suits which grant the wearer advantages in combat, like temporary invisibility, brute strength and other things of a similar nature.
* The usual high, Crysis series standard, but, on PS3, without the "Wow!" factor that I felt when first playing "Uncharted 2". Maybe "It's so good that you don't even notice it!"?
* Character models look excellent in the cutscenes.
* Illusion of wide open spaces in New York.
B grade dialogue at times, e.g. Psycho's comments.
Good about the game:
* Unlike Crysis 2, this has replay value and I was actually interested in chasing trophies...using or upgrading the Nanosuit!
* The AI has improved over the comically bad at times implementation in Crysis 2. E.g. the CELL AI are in some ways smarter than they were in Crysis 2 and at least there aren't the glitches that the previous game had, either...well, there was just one Ceph which tried to walk through a blocked door continuously...maybe the developers put that in for people who wanted a bit of Crysis 2 nostalgia thrown in?
* The Ceph don't really work together to defeat you, which is a blessing, as on the harder difficulties I'd personally find it extremely challenging and frustrating if they did.
* Story information is provided by data which you can choose to read or listen (good) to but sometimes it's not quick enough to open and you can find yourself not being sure on how to find it again via the menu (bad).
Misjudgements in the game:
* 3 button presses to start the game! I think that you have to press a button which then brings up this sequence: "Press Start to begin", with the next option being "Resume game".
* No "Save" option for the game (it autosaves at checkpoints) and...sometimes you don't trust the game!
* Opaque on how to achieve Secondary Objective in the "Gods and monsters" section, as far as the cooling towers requirement went. There was nothing on the HUD to indicate where to go or what to do on that front.
* It could have been signalled better on how to progress at times. E.g. even though I had acquired the weapon to attack a communications tower, it wasn't obvious to me that I had everything that I needed and what I should do next...so I felt that I had to lookup up a video online which showed you what to do.
* For some reason the Ceph Stalkers attack you even when you are in stealth mode.
* The Alpha Ceph battle gets tedious with all the reloading of autosaves that I found myself doing (due to dying) but fortunately the game does enough checkpoint saves to prevent it from becoming an intolerable imposition on the poor player. I thought I'd need to look at an online video to help me progress past this section but fortunately I didn't need to do that. I think that my note on this section says that an object which provides you with power-ups necessary to progress past this section are hard to see.
Bad about the game:
* Glitched trophies. I didn't get the trophy for having all weapons and attachments. Even though I'm sure I satisfied the requirements for this trophy, it seems that there is some (unmentioned) method of confirming that you have the weapon attachment which you do in fact have. Extremely irritating. Presumably I'd have to replay the game from scratch (no saved progress) in order to do this...and only by slavishly following an online video on how to do this "properly"...i.e. watching the ENTIRE game on video and following it PRECISELY. Absolutely pathetic. It's the worst kind of grinding, scavenger hunt which games can employ.
* Feeling that I needed to look up videos online on how to progress at some points. E.g. for killing the Ceph Mastermind. Also, I need to consult a video to get to the Control Tower...twice!
* Interminable VTOL sequence (a flying gunship)...it gets frustrating trying to progress to the next stage of the game when you keep dying in it! I.e. some more checkpoints in this sequence would have been appreciated.
* Annoying hack at the part to do with the Nexus (for the turrets, I think)...I found it impossible.
Initially I found the controls daunting and wondered if they were different to the previous games, but I must have come to terms with them anyway (I'm writing this review almost a year after I completed the game).
After my negative review of Crysis 2, it was pleasing that the final game in this series marks the high point of this series. Unlike Crysis 2, with it's interminable length, Crysis 3 encourages replays due to its much shorter running time (hmm...but actually...looking at my trophies for these two games, it seems that I completed Crysis 2 quicker than I did Crysis 3...but maybe I put more hours into the former?). In any case, Crysis 2 FELT interminable, which is my complaint). Also, I could be bothered going after trophies in Crysis 3, unlike for Crysis 2, which were of a "Who cares?" variety.
* An in game NPC's ID card expires in 2099...about 52 years from the game's present!
* Easter egg after the end credits.
Sounds like a really stupid game...I'll give it a miss...,
Since I haven't played this game and don't intend to, I wont score the game here.
These are the reasons that I think that the game is stupid or troubling:
1) The story concerns North Korea invading the U.S. Righto. So it's science fiction or fantasy then. North Korea is a tin pot little nation that wouldn't be so stupid as to do that. The scenario seems unintentionally funny. Maybe they could just go the whole hog...intentionally funny. For example...have the U.S. invaded by one of: New Zealand, Micronesia, The Small Magnetic Islands or...Canada. There'd be a ready made sequel...Micronesia could call in Macronesia to help them defeat the Americans; The Small Magnetic Islands could call in The Large Magnetic Islands, etc.etc.etc.
2) The whole point of shooters is to 'triumph against the odds'...to defeat a superior force with superior weapons. And how does North Korea fit the bill?
3) Conceptually the game is like those agit-prop movies of Sylvester Stallone...be it in "Rocky IV" or "Rambo II"...just an excuse for a masturbatory, jingoistic American fantasy. I boycotted Stallone movies for a while after seeing the demonised Russian fighter in "Rocky IV" and gave "Rambo II" a miss for engaging in that kind of 'alternative' wish fulfilment over the Vietnam War...where, in their Hollywood dreams America could finally get one over the Vietnamese.
4) If you really wanted a 'triumph against all odds' game, surely playing as the Vietnamese against the U.S. during the Vietnam War would be the PERFECT scenario, right? But America doesn't make games like that...there must be some sort of 'negative' effect in having America as the enemy, right? So...it has propaganda value then? You'd think so, wouldn't you? The U.S. military is involved in making war themed video games as a recruitment tool for those poor young adults who get to fight for the rich, white man. Now, since North Korea is never likely to invade the U.S...this game would great agit-prop for the U.S. military to recruit poor young adults to...invade North Korea one day, right? I mean, the game would have primed them for this...demonising North Korea...all those unspeakable acts they did to Americans in...this video game.
This game just sounds like a total onanistic American wet-dream.
I'm giving it a miss.
Emotional. The best X-Men movie of the series (that I've seen). 85+%
I became interested in seeing this film after I saw Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart interviewed on ABC TV's (Australia) "Lateline" programme. Here's the link to that interview (01/03/2017), with a transcript and video of the segment:
I'm surprised to see that it looks like I've only reviewed "The Wolverine" at this site, which I scored 72.5+%, however, I have seen the first X-Men film in the series, at least. Which is to say that I'm a casual viewer of this franchise and I'm not particularly invested in the characters, so for me to like a film in this series so much speaks volumes for what they've accomplished here. It's a movie which effectively manipulates your emotions, in a way that other, lesser films, attempt to do, but fail, for example "Star Wars: The force awakens".
Seeing as "The Wolverine" was the last X-Men related film in this franchise that I've seen, I can't say that I've kept abreast of what's happened in this universe. By the looks of it, the mutants of this world are no longer a force. The reasons why are, presumably, covered in previous instalments of this franchise. In any case, there seems to be a little expository dialogue by the characters to help you understand what's going on better.
Logan (The Wolverine) and Charles Xavier (Professor X) are living in less than ideal circumstances. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart are both very good in the physicality of these now older, more feeble mutants (maybe that's not so much "acting" from Stewart!). Jackman's Logan looks a bit like Saddam Hussein, just after he's emerged from his "spider hole" (foxhole)!
The major narrative arc of this film concerns Logan having to unwillingly escort a young girl to safety from what looks like a paramilitary operation which desperately wants to capture her. Visually, the film has touches of movies like Mad Max 2 for its vehicle action and it probably has similarities to an American Western which is regarded as a classic, but which I don't think that I've seen. In case naming that film might provide some spoilers, I'll refrain from doing that, but this film does show clips from that old movie and even reiterates dialogue from it. There's a scene with Logan and his ute which reminded me of a similar scene involving Basil Fawlty from the TV series "Fawlty Towers", but stripped of the hilarity of that earlier Britcom. There are actually some amusing scenes in this film...an unintentional example of that was Logan at a funeral near the start of the film...seeing what he does with litter, the phrase "Keep America tidy" popped into my head! It should also be pointed out that the film does get "meta" at times...there's an interesting series of comic books which appear in this film!
There was an enjoyable interlude in this film with a family which invites Logan, Charles and the girl to dinner. Seeing as what the family looked like, I did wonder how things would develop and my hypothesis was borne out, as far as the family was concerned.
Back to the topic of emotion in this film (as a viewer response)...it's delivered. Near the end of the film, there's a scene where Logan enters the fray. Whilst it didn't fill me with joy, it was pleasurable, which is unusual in these kinds of Hollywood superhero or action movies where they aim to produce this feeling in you...but fail. The last scene featuring Logan also produced an emotional response in me, of a different kind. Again, the contrast with "Star Wars: The force awakens" is marked, where the scene designed to produce that feeling in you failed to deliver it, again.
* A Johnny Cash song opens the closing credits. For a moment I thought that the song was "A boy named Sue"...which would have totally spoiled the moment! Firstly, I'm not that familiar with Cash's music, but I did realise that I knew the song that he was actually singing (vaguely). Interestingly, the credits list the song's writer as "John R. Cash" and the performer as "Johnny Cash"! Also interesting was hearing the line, perhaps for the first time, concerning what the singer was kicking against...I had heard it before with regard to Australian alternative artist Nick Cave...but looking up that phrase now on Wikipedia, it seems that perhaps both Cash and Cave were referencing a bible quotation, surprisingly, rather than it being a case of Cave referencing Cash. Just looked up the name of the song that Cash sings in the end credits, "The man comes around"...it mentions that Cave actually sang on that Cash album of cover songs!
* I have no idea how or if this film differs to any comic book treatment of the life of Logan. Whatever the case, I do like how this film deals with his story.
* It's possible that the Lateline interview has Jackman mentioning that he wanted this film to be rated "R", for artistic reasons. Here in Australia, it has an MA15+ rating, which means that children under 15 years of age can't see the film except with an adult accompanying them. Interestingly, the "R" rating which this film gets in the US means that children under the age of 17 can't see the film, except with an adult accompanying them. As for this violence, the film does get quite bloody but doesn't reach the point of requiring the next restriction in Australian ratings, "R", for people 18 years of age or older. Not even being accompanied by an adult would allow somebody of under the age of 18 to be able to view such a film.
In closing, I appreciated the sombre, gritty nature of this film and the lack of the previous instalments' risible elements, such as bizarre mutant abilities (like controlling the weather, ffs!).
A soothing game but with some frustrating moments...
This is downloadable game from PSN, the online PS3 store.
Sand dunes, snow fields, ruins, mountain.
You start in the middle of nowhere and must make your way towards a mysterious objective...for a mysterious reason.
Character models are simple and cartoon like. The sand modelling is quite sophisticated, and at times looks quite sumptuous...I have in mind the times the sand glistens in the sun...due to moistness...or something. Basically a mixture of impressive visuals and some simple character design.
There is a nice, meditative aspect to the soundtrack...very...Zen...if that's the right word. Peaceful, in other words. The playable character only emits a sort of "beep" noise. Sand storm noises sound convincing too.
Navigating the world of the game involves walking, sand-skiing at times, floating and, at times, teleporting. It's good when you can sand-ski, or float about, but this is only momentary...would have been nice to have prolonged periods of sand-skiiing, for example.
There are some puzzle solving aspects to this game too...as in how to get from point A to point B, or how to reach something desirable.
Good about the game:
* The relaxed, peaceful nature of the game.
* The soothing score.
* The way the tone/atmosphere of the game transitions towards the middle of it.
* Learning about the game...playing online, I unintentionally revived a real player's character...in the world of the game it was a nice moment. Not a word of thanks from the other player though! (or should I say not a "Beep!" of thanks?).
Misjudgements of the game:
* Some moves can be frustrating...e.g. trying to land on an object from a great height is made grindy by the camera not being your friend...a process of trial and error. In other words, it's not matter of skill and practice to reach your target, but more of dumb luck.
* Towards the end of the game the camera angles become a real impediment towards achieving your objective, which is really annoying and frustrating...e.g. there's a part where you have to cross a bridge...if you don't make it to the other side, you have to trudge a while to get back to the same position. Just annoying.
* This game has the ability to be played online. I started one game online and when I returned to it a week later, I found out that the game didn't 'remember' that I was playing online...so, only when I was at the last stage of the game did I realise that I wasn't online...it did seem pretty quiet up to that point!
* I got a trophy for returning to the game a week after I logged off...a pretty fracking pointless trophy!
This is a game that I think you have to be in the mood to play, or in a certain mindset to find pleasurable. I was enjoying the game but when I returned to it on my first (solo) playthrough, I did get annoyed with the game and quit. Maybe I had indigestion or something? Having some frustrating elements to the game certainly played a part in that decision to quit the game for a while in any case.
It might be best to get this game as soon as you can, in case you want to play online...not sure how quickly the popularity of the online game will decline. You may find playing online useful, as far as learning things from more experienced players.
Rogue One (2016)
An adequate fan fiction story with a megabudget 70%
Rogue One sits between "A new hope" and "Revenge of the Sith" chronologically. If you're new to the entire Star Wars franchise, where should you begin your viewing? From my point of view, either with this film, Rogue One, or Star Wars: A new hope (episode IV). I came into this franchise at the beginning, with "A new hope" and as a young person I found it exhilarating. Having seen that movie multiple times since (nearing double figures without the ridiculous number of viewings that the hardcore fans are capable of...going into the dozens), I'm confident that "A new hope" would stack up well for modern viewers.
Apart from Episode III of the prequels, that trilogy was very underwhelming. Rogue One isn't as exhilarating as I remember "A new hope" being, but as an adult, I did find a couple of humorous moments in it which made me laugh...from memory the comedy in "A new hope" was pitched to a younger audience. That being said, I suggest starting with the original trilogy (episodes IV-VI) and if you're still keen, see Rogue One next.
What's the story in Rogue One? It comes across as a bit of fan fiction, as in it writes a backstory to things that have happened later chronologically in the world of this franchise, but earlier in the release history of the franchise itself. It could also be accused, perhaps, of justifying one element of "A new hope" which was always subject to some mockery by those who thought a bit too much about the logic of the story. This might be the first Star Wars movie to not open with that iconic scrolling text introducing the story we are about to see, accompanied by John Williams famous score.
Anyway, in Rogue One, an Imperial troop carrier lands on a planet. When we initially see that, it looked to me like it was one of those remote control toy spaceships...it just didn't look believable. Later on, you realise that it's meant to be very large and capable of carrying a troop of soldiers. That was really the only time in the film that the special effects were unconvincing. In Star Wars, the Empire (the Imperial side) is the dominant force in that galaxy and they believe themselves to be upholding order but they're obviously the "bad guys" as they are ruthless in fighting for total control of the galaxy.
The Imperial forces are looking for someone on that planet. In the movie we learn from the Rebels (the Alliance which is opposed to the Empire...regarded as "terrorists" by the Empire, no doubt) that the Empire has a weapon being built which is dubbed the "planet killer". The person on that planet which is being sought by the Empire is someone who can help them build that ultimate weapon.
Early on there's quite a bit of jumping around from one location in the galaxy to another as well as jumping from one time in the chronology to another. This made following what was going on difficult, although eventually one of those chronological jumps did me the favour of letting me know that the girl who I saw earlier on the planet was now the adult woman I was seeing on the screen. Perhaps that could have been made clearer earlier on. Also not clear...I was wondering the family on that planet were somehow related to the most recent Star Wars movie, "The Force awakens". Still not sure about that, but unlikely, in any case.
The rest of Rogue One concerns the attempts of the Rebel Alliance to thwart the Empire's plan to use their weapon with planet destroying capabilities. There's a lot of action, the vistas are impressive, with a painterly look to them and occasionally the 3D images look alright. The film is nowhere near as impressive on the 3D front as Avatar was, and that earlier film's use of 3D was most impressive in the little things that it did, the subtle things. In other words, I don't think that it's extremely important to see Rogue One in 3D.
There are some moments in the film which I suspect will be used in a video game, should a video game be brought out to tie-in with this film. i.e. you will be replaying those scenes from the film in the game and perhaps seeing cutscenes which match the film too.
* There are a lot of English voices in this film, as in the characters sound like they are from England. There's a French sounding voice too. Although I haven't seen the particular Japanese franchise, one of the characters in Rogue One brought to mind the Japanese character Zatoichi. I had to search online for that character's name...by typing in his attributes...you'll know him when you see him, I suspect.
* Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn has a significant role in this movie. I just mention this because recently another Australian actor, Peter Sumner, who was in "A new hope" died. There was an interesting article about Sumner, following his death, which dealt with his Star Wars history (see Sydney Morning Herald, 23/11/2016, "Peter Sumner, Australia's link to the original Star Wars, dies at 74", by Garry Maddox).
* There are some implausible moments in Rogue One, like when the woman who helps the Rebels brings out a weapon in front of her "allies" for the first time.
* You can finally hear John Williams' famous score...a little while into the closing credits.
In summary, this is a decent entry in the Star Wars canon, which doesn't reach great heights but doesn't embarrass the franchise like the first two prequels did. The droid K-2SO was entertaining and reminded me a bit of C3PO...and Marvin, from the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy.
There are some familiar faces too and you do get to see them...eventually.
A very good thumbnail sketch of The Beatles, from The Quarrymen to Sgt. Pepper 90%
Even though I regard The Beatles as the greatest musical act of all time, I haven't really delved into the minutiae of their history. So, as someone who has watched the odd documentary about them and listened to stories about them on the radio, I have to say that Ron Howard's documentary here was very good in that it covers much of the band's history and covers some of the landmark incidents that the band is famous (or infamous) for.
That being said, the revelations in this documentary are rather anodyne, compared with the startling revelations of the ABC TV (Australia) documentary "When The Beatles drove us wild", especially with regards to what band members got up to sexually during their tour of Australia in 1964, when the promoter lucked onto signing them for a bargain-basement price (just before they became a worldwide phenomenon). There are no stories of their sexual exploits in Howard's film and you wonder how the band could have survived if their debauchery in Australia (and elsewhere, no doubt), had been covered by the media. The ABC documentary suggested from memory that there was a kind of "understanding" between the band and the media in Australia not to cover those kinds of sexual activities.
What you do get in Howard's documentary is lots of photos and film of the band, including their time in previous bands, like The Quarrymen (which featured John Lennon, later joined by Paul McCartney and later still, George Harrison). There are also photos and film of The Beatles' early days in Hamburg and The Cavern. All the band members feature in current interviews or old interviews with those members who have died before the making of this documentary. The significant figures involved with the band are also featured (briefly) in interviews, people like their manager Brian Epstein and record producer George Martin ("The fifth Beatle").
Throughout the film, there are quite a few songs by the band which get played. Most of the time you don't hear the entire song, but it's long enough to be enjoyable. You also get to hear demo versions of songs or rehearsals or out-takes from recording sessions.
If you're obsessive about The Beatles, there might not be too much that is novel for you in this film but for the uninitiated there are lots of topics which get raised which the studious types can further research at their leisure. Personally speaking, some of the topics raised here I was already familiar with but may have forgotten about, meaning that I enjoyed being reminded about it. For instance, I was vaguely aware of some incident involving Imelda Marcos, the First Lady of the Philippines when The Beatles toured there. Other topics were new to me, like the protests arising from the band being booked to play at the Budokan stadium in Japan. Sometimes what I thought I knew was challenged. For instance, I thought that The Beatles' concert at Shea Stadium marked the end of their touring career because the crowd noise was so excessive that the band never wanted to have to deal with that again (the bonus feature at the end has reasonable sound quality for that concert). In the documentary, however, it's mentioned that their concert at Candlestick Park in the US was their last ever proper concert.
The landmark controversies do feature in this documentary, including the band's infamous "butcher cover" artwork for their single release "Yesterday and today" as well as John Lennon's notorious "bigger than Jesus" utterance which seemed capable of derailing their success...well, at least in their biggest market, the US.
An interesting aspect to this documentary is the focus on the many firsts that the band achieved, including being the first band to play stadiums (Shea Stadium), John Lennon accidentally inventing the use of backward played tape on albums, The Beatles being the first act to have the top 5 selling songs in the US singles chart and most noteworthy of all (and a surprise to me) was that The Beatles collectively overturned America's apartheid policy in the South to have non-segregated seating for their concerts there.
Lastly (as far as the documentary proper goes), it was interesting to hear that the band weren't always confident that they would be successful...they had their doubts, and John would go through a motivational chant to lift their spirits. Also, maybe it seems obvious, but I wasn't aware how autobiographical (and literal) Lennon's song "Help!" was. No other songs are discussed in this manner. I do have vague memories of a story on FM radio about their song "If I fell" (from memory) being autobiographical too...a song secretly intended to communicate with Lennon's lover, as he contemplated leaving his wife, I believe.
The only "complaint" I have of this documentary is that it would have been good to have revisited some clips from previous documentaries. E.g. there was one which featured Lennon talking to a fan, I believe, who was convinced that The Beatles had written a song about him...Lennon had to explain to him, like Jesus to a child, that that couldn't possibly be true (if I recall). One Australian documentary I saw had footage of one of their Australian concerts (Festival Hall, Melbourne?), where I heard an undiscovered gem of a song "It won't be long". Nothing like that in Howard's documentary. I do remember one "Parkinson" interview, I think, with Paul McCartney where he asked Paul about their songwriting influences. Paul mentioned their education, which was interesting...until Parkinson unfortunately changed the subject.
It was great to be reminded of the wit of the band in their press conferences...some funny comments from them.
A soccer crowd at Anfield spontaneously singing a Beatles song during a game.
Footage of Ringo really hammering the drums enthusiastically.
The band were mostly stoned when shooting their film "Help!".
Their record deal was lousy.