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Spectre (I) (2015)
A Beautiful Joke
28 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
A beautifully shot film that falls apart if you think about it for more than a nano-second.

Some things can be forgiven, like, if all the Daniel Craig era bad guys were all apparently part of the SPECTRE from the beginning how is he just noticing their secret society rings now?

The film suffers from a string of contrivances that make the final third of the film unbearable when your brain realises the surveillance subplot is actually the endgame and no 'twist' is going to make this anything more…It really is just a wafer thin plot tieing set-pieces together. Which would be perfectly fine if it was that kind of film (Tomorrow never Dies), but alas this is another movie where the Baddie is super grumpy at Bond because *insert stupid contrived reason beyond Bonds control here*.

One would think that Sam Mendes and the writing staff can't think of anything original now that they've run out of Ian Fleming books.

So Bond kills some bad guy and then goes to get information from Monica Bellucci because SPECTRE have to kill her now. This is pretty stupid because you would think an evil organisation would look after your family as incentive for you to stay loyal. Not the opposite way round.

Monica Bellucci knows where the super-secret baddie conference room is. Lol, are they even trying anymore.

Christoph Waltz knows he's there. Do you know why, because in Skyfall Javier Bardem didn't show up until over an hour into the movie so this is the attempt to switch it up, oh and to add a mystery for the sake of it in the same way the Lost TV show did. Adds nothing.

So the bad guys know he's there but still allow the discussion of the Pale man/Mr white ..so Bond can thwart their plans. And in all that time they didn't set up a proper ambush or bug his car or anything. Bit pedantic on that last point I know.

Meanwhile in London, buzzwords such as Orwell, democracy, New world order are being thrown around. For some reason it reminded me of the Star Wars Senate from A Phantom Menace. Just so childish and TV show-ish at this point. And also ironic considering the head of the double 0 programme is lecturing anyone on democracy.

Mr White is a good guy now because reasons. Bond doesn't take the surveillance tape from his cabin or burn it down after leaving.

Madeleine Swann is the next link in this wild goose chase. She knows the hotel/apartment where her family vacations. The bad guys catch her but don't kill her. I guess they know about the vacation house too.

Another clue. They go to investigate a dot on a map. Another attempt on their lives. Then they get off the train and just wait. For some reason Bond knows Christoph Waltz really wants to talk with him even though his henchman just tried to kill him…again. Maybe his seen Christoph Waltz last few films and knows he loves to talk.

Apparently, they're connected! And this is super personal. Lucky for Bond, otherwise they would have just been taken out by a sniper.

Then Christoph Waltz tells him his an unstoppable force hitting an immovable object, no wait, something about 2 rats. No, it was a meteorite or something. Same diff.

Did we really need Blofeld to be Bonds adopted brother. Sigh. And does every young man or child that Bond's mentor let's down have to become a super villain now. Can't wait for the next villain that loses to 12 year old James in the school science fair.

Bond escapes because of his bomb watch. Wait, remember in the last film when they said exploding pens were silly…are they making fun of themselves or do they not see the irony. I really don't know anymore.

He just shoots his way out of a base. Exploding stuff everywhere, video game style. I appreciate a cool evil lair and Bond has taken them out in the past. But the set pieces are made to devise a scenario where this looks possible. In this escape Bond is one step away from being Neo.

So back to London. And now we have a doomsday countdown and all the government buildings are empty. No new revelations. Just that Bond chooses to save the girl and doesn't execute Christoph waltz at the end…and then..does he retire? Are you kidding me?

Skyfall was a bit too much of a Dark Knight rip and now this one has to end like DK Rises.

The ego of the director and additional writers is ridiculous. To make LeChiffre SPECTRE, and Blofeld Bonds brother, blow up MI5/6 and have Bond possibly retire at the end is bizarre. It's like they're trying to make this their 'dark knight trilogy' even though half of them had nothing to do with Casino Royale. This isn't your baby. You have no right.

Whilst Skyfall was littered with plot holes this movie is possibly worse. Plot holes require a script that's tight enough to expose inconsistencies; this is just stuff happening because the next dumb thing needs to happen. What does Bonds connection to Blofeld have to do with a SPECTRE mass surveillance plot? Nothing. It reminds me of the SouthPark episode where they get manitee's to choose 3 random topics and mash them together to make a family guy episode
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Is this a good Bond movie?
30 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
A car chase, rooftop chase, apartment fight, Boat scene, Opera shootout, plane scene, elevator bust-up,hotel shoot-out.. all in 106mins of a psychopath Bond on a revenge rampage, whilst unravelling an evil plot, pissing off special branch and the CIA& losing some friends on the way

Is this a good 'Bond film'? Probably not-Bond isn't cheerful and charming enough throughout. Is this a good film about Bond? Yes.

I love the James Bond formula of the exotic locations, the gadgets, women with innuendo names, genius villains&crazy strong henchmen trying to blow up the world.

However this is primarily a character driven story of Bond coming to terms with the Vesper situation, Did she betray him, why? who was her bf? It's only at the end of the movie you realise that this definitely was Bond's primary motivator. Having all the bond formula in this story would dissolve the whole revenge/ solace flex.

The action scenes are fast, ruthless&angry- they are a metaphor for his emotions. The action scenes themselves tell a story instead of being self-contained forced but really fun set pieces. Due to the Bond's 'accidental'casualty count the audience&M are left wondering if Bond has gone over the edge.

The other aspect of the plot is what the Green Planet front are up to.There is also no world domination via one plan but a more up-to-date realistic organisation. They are clearly bad but their plan is unclear. Is it land?government? oil?-It ends up being the water supply of a country. We take this confusing journey with Bond. Therefore, fittingly, the name of the organisation is Quantum. Greene Planet is simply one of many 'evil'plans they have. The name to me also conveys how small Bond is to this organisation, he is not the their centre of attention until the end- The bad guy doesn't invite him to dinner& reveal his plan...Similarly Bond doesn't care about Greene (until he kills Field's), he wants what he knows about Vesper. There is nothing over the top about Greene, his just in charge of this one Quantum project, a grimy small French businessman.

The CIA are 'in bed with Greene' &so are aspects of the British government too. Bond is ordered to stop but they are clearly up to no good. Motivated by his revenge and/or his duty he continues anyway.

This reminds me of a Mathus quote where he speaks of good and evil becoming 'blurred' and an Ian fleming quote from Casino Royale

"Today we are fighting Communism. Okay. If I'd been alive fifty years ago, the brand of Conservatism we have today would have been damn near called Communism and we should have been told to go and fight that. History is moving pretty quickly these days and the heroes and villains keep on changing parts."

Greene, Greene Planet &their relationship with governments are a perfect up to date example to Fleming's quote in the real world.

Bond's relationship with M is tested. Especially after Agent Field's death. Field's (a Bond girl) was a woman bedded by Bond within 5 minutes of meeting her, classic 007 style. However her death is cleverly used to further Bond's character development. Covered in oil, M questions Bond if he even cares. In turn the audience questions it. Bond comes back and confirm's he does with a heartfelt speech. There was more character development in 5 minutes of QoS then most Bond's combined (as their should be because it's part of the origin story!).

The Bond girl he meets on the way, Camille, mirrors Bond's pain - she wants revenge too. Probably the closest a bond girl has got to being Bond's equal since Xenia. She actually gets her revenge by herself...she just needs saving because of her one weakness of fire from her childhood. Oh&Bond doesn't bed her at the end because that wouldn't make any sense. This is perhaps the most forward thinking Bond for women, just because Camille was sleeping with the bad guy doesn't mean that Bond automatically gets to bed her. Compare this to the sex slave in Skyfall...

At the finale of the film the revenge count stacks up. Bond want's Greene for vesper, but he also wants revenge for Field's death and the head of Police for Mathus' death, and Camille is after the General for murdering her family.

When the film ends, Bond finds what he was looking for and gets his Solace, and becomes the more well rounded Bond we know. M say's ' I want you back'. Bond says 'I never left'. Then the Bond intro happens. This is when you realise what the whole point of the film was if you were still confused.

So much stuff is crammed into 106 minutes, it's amazing! However the problem with this film was that the vesper's death and betrayal happened at the end of the previous film. Then this film was too short and moved so fast that the references and reminders of his motivation just couldn't sink in. That combined with the addition of Bond&audience unravelling a mystery evil plan was information overload. When I first watched the film I was confused, later I watched it back to back with Casino Royale and I fully appreciated it.

This is not a classic Bond film. However it's a brilliant much needed part of the collection that I love. I expected a classic Bond films to follow this one but they went with skyfall rebooting Craig's Bond's feeling all over again. Now I'm unsure about what to think about what direction the franchise is taking- you can't keep having character development Bond movies, that's not what Bond is about- His already a well rounded super spy. You can have it in the originally intended origin story but now can we get back to normal Bond please - you know the Bond that has managed to last 50 years.
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Hitman: Blood Money (2006 Video Game)
Hit-man fully evolved
23 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This game was ahead of it's time. The creative level design, AI, manipulating the environment, tools and balanced all these things together to form a great game that you can easily immerse yourself in

You are thrust upon a small sandbox to experiment with. A street, a hotel, a club, a party. your mission; use your tools, knowledge and things you discover to assassinate a target. You are given information before hand to help you - a drug deal is taking place kill the buyer etc. and you see what's going on and adapt. As you walk around trying to find out more information and gain access to restricted areas by means of sneaking and disguises you may think to yourself shall I take up a sniper position, or should i disguise myself and get in close, plant a bomb..pretend to be the drug dealer. You can do all of these things- most of them are even accommodated with their own bonus cutscene.

I was actually surprised when I saw some donuts and I thought I wonder if I can poison them and make the FBI agents eat it.... well you can!... accompanied by its own cutscene

I was standing outside a villa thinking there's a drain pipe..leading to a window but surely it's just graphic decoration and 2006 games are restrictive maybe I shouldn't even try...and omg it let me climb it!

In the opera level someone is performing Tosca(i think).there's a scene where a fake gun is fired at the target. They do multiple rehearsals, you start thinking to yourself if I time my sniper fire to that shot can I get away with it..and proceed to gain access to the perfect sniper spot. Or you think can I replace the gun with a real one? will that work? Or you think maybe I can take the shooters place and go up on stage. All these things you can do. It's not over the top obvious as you are unsure it will work.

There is no pop-up alert saying 'shoot now', or 'do this'. You have to have had paid attention to the previous rehearsal to time it right. The anticipation before taking the risk of executing the final part of the plan (that might not be in the mechanics of the game-but surprisingly is) and the thrill when it goes to plan is what makes this game unique even to other hit-man games

And you don't have a silly radar- you have to physically look at who's around you. Also you can't suddenly make a sniper rifle or assault rifle disappear under your clothes, like the latest Hit-man. They try to keep the game realistic which adds to even more to the immersion

Hit-man games are not story driven yet there always is a loosely held together story that provides the end level climax. Only after you realise there were a few clues all along. For a game not known for it's story there really is a great ending that ties everything together. I didn't even realise it hadn't ended till a few days later when I had an epiphany and went back to it.

One of the best video game experiences I have had - and I got round to playing it in 2010 (because my PC couldn't play it in 2006). 4 years late is a long time in video game years but I was still in awe..that's how good it was
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Hitman: Absolution (2012 Video Game)
Same path as splinter cell conviction
23 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Oh Hit-man, my poor hit-man what have they done to you I loved hit-man 1, was blown away by 2, thought 3 wasn't much of an improvement and Blood Money (4) is still one of my favourite games to date. I was also one of the few defending the 'sexy nun' marketing campaign. The marketing is for idiots but the game will be good, just like with blood money I said.

The hit-man formula evolved and was perfected (for it's time) at blood money. You are put into a small sand box environment i.e. an opera house. You have the run of the entire opera house and use your guns, sneaking, poison, fibre wire, rifle, bomb, disguises and whatever you find on site to find a way to complete the assassination in a very creative and balanced level. There was a simple background story that loosely tied the assassinations in various exotic locations that had it's climax at the final mission.

So what's changed.

well instead of location based levels that a story very loosely hinged together we now have a story driven game. Which has some how resulted in the entire game being in 2 locations of the states only.

The story is awful with these 'kayne and lynch' style crazed over the top characters, that jump up and down and talk about 'limp' genitalia...because apparently this crude rubbish is very artistic and clever. The same studio that brought us the flops of kayne and lynch don't have any other ideas. Their better staff must of left after Blood money. This type of bad guy can be done well, see max payne 1

One of the plot devices of the story is agent 47 being framed for murder....his a Hit-man...??!!?!

The poor excuse for a story also allows for short A to B sub-level missions..where your mission isn't to assassinate anyone but to make it between 2 points avoiding cops/guards. This isn't hit-man this is splinter cell, MGS, and deus ex:hr...and these games do it better and with a story worth following. The A to B missions are linear..having the choice of 2 obvious linear paths just makes it ever so slightly less linear.

So after 2 A to B sub-level missions and loading screens that pretend everything before never happened (sometimes reseting all your guns, items and clothes?!?!)the game finally gets you to your assassination stage. After holding your hand all this time by telling you 'you must use this lift and only this lift to go up' it will continue to do so unless you turn off 'hints' on options. The assassination sub level is 1/3 of the size of previous hit-man games, it is a simpler less creative environment to decipher or explore. A few of these are actually good, but there are only a hand full of these kinds of missions and they are short anyway.

Some of the other sub-missions involved finding fuses for a generator and getting from the entrance of a pub to the bartender by punching people....It's as ridiculous as it sounds. Uncharted can do it because it's an adventure platformer...but Hit-man?

gameplay mechanics; AI has been improved. Some effort that wasn't misguided went here. People respond to you running, react to your outfit, investigate noises -but don't investigate if they see you throw something that made that noise, react to pools of blood, get suspicious of your outfit....all these AI behaviours are accompanied by their own unique dialogue that also feeds into the suspicion system. It is very impressive. The best I have experienced if I ignore everything else about the game.

However they over compensated for their linear, shorter, less complex levels by making it very easy for your disguise to be seen through. People of the same outfits can see through your disguise in less then a second close up or longer if far away. This makes sense and you can use 'instinct' to cover your face for a short time. However instinct runs out&doesn't regenerate unless you do something special.

So you go past guard A with instinct...instinct runs out, then guard b that is in a totally different area will break your disguise. To add insult to this already broken system your disguise can be broken by the back of your head from a distance or different room, in a dimly lit and/or crowded area within 3 seconds?! The AI was advanced enough for total immersion but then they tweaked the rules damaging all their hard work.

As I said earlier it must of been done on purpose to extend&camouflage their short linear game.

Why would they take this approach for the game? My theory- their new glacier graphics engine had priority. The graphics are amazing& detailed and the lighting is the best I have seen on my console. There are also levels with large crowds of people-also very impressive. To keep the graphics this good to appease certain audiences& showing off their 'lots of people mechanic' each level area had to be made smaller, so this sub- level hold your hand journey was adapted.

Another blood money can't be made without either streamlining or hints for the wider audience . I just assumed that's why they had their 'hints' &see through walls system, but then they streamlined the game too.

The next Hit-man will apparently be made by Square Enix Montreal studio. Let's hope they don't take the same direction as IO interactive.

As a hit-man game this gets 4, as a standalone game it gets 6. I settled on 5
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