Feb 8, 2014

Movie Reviews

Hobbit 2 – This movie is much like the first one, which is to say it’s much like the first 4. It’s good, I like it a lot and have a lot of fun. It has the same flaws the Hobbit had, and the same strengths. I can imagine how people are sick of this by now, but I sure do love the fighty fighty staby staby. I know people say there’s a lot of walking, and… there’s a lot of walking. The CGI, exactly like the first one, is at times brilliant and at times shockingly bad. Like, I just learned photoshop this weekend bad. I have a theory that it’s 3D’s fault. The stupid characters just stand out too much from their environment and it looks way fake and I wonder if that’s because they are being pieced into layers so that 3D can be all 3Dey. But, I haven’t seen them in 2D, so I don’t know for sure, maybe they suck there too. Yet there’s plenty of things that look incredible, I really don’t know why some are one and some are the other. Anyway, it’s exactly what you expect, but if you can’t get enough of middle earth characters and creatures battling, then it’s great.

Pacific Rim – What can I say, it’s transformers vs. godzilla, just like everyone said it was. And that’s pretty great. I had heard that the movie was kind of bad, sans the awesome battles. It’s not particularly good or anything, but it’s not bad. I’ve certainly seen much worse acting, dialog, and plot in movies that got much less hate. It’s just good enough to serve the rest, which is pretty bad ass fights between giant things. Pretty cool.

Oblivion – I actually liked this movie quite a bit. It’s got a very pretty style that combines the white sheen of an apple store with the wasteland of a fallout game, but the parallel works. The story is cool, it tries to twist and turn, but you generally stay one step ahead of it. It kind of falls apart at the end, you really can’t think too hard about that part. But it’s still a cool movie.

Now You See Me – I’m of two minds about this movie. On the one hand, it’s a lot of fun. It’s very funny, it’s a good ride, all that good movie stuff. On the other hand, overly complex movies can never be satisfying to me. It’s just too much to believe that all these intricate things planned a lifetime in advance could possibly work out in just the right order to make just the right conclusion. You really have to turn your brain off to buy that any of this is happening. But while you are there, it’s very entertaining. Also, that main guy was an asshole. Just because you are a clever asshole doesn’t make you not an asshole. And you have to work a lot harder to make your bad guy unlikeable before you can let your star be such a flaming asshole.

Rise of the Guardians – This movie isn’t that great. The first half is kind of a bear to get through, honestly didn’t laugh very often. The second half is better, maybe pushed forward by the story I don’t know. It seemed to get funnier. But still, pretty low on the list of cartoon comedies.

Stand-up Guys – This was a surprise. I thought it was that movie where all the old gangsters get together and do stupid things and say I’m too old for this shit a lot. Turns out, not that movie. Instead it’s Al Pacino and Christopher Walken as old gangsters who do stupid things and are too old, but it’s actually good. Al Pacino is just out of prison and they have a night of frivolity. I really thought it would be corny and dumb, and there’s some dumbness sure, but I actually like the relationship between the guys. Not an amazing movie or anything, but decent.

An Adventure in Space and Time – I’m not positive this counts as a movie, but we’ve watched so much Doctor Who lately, I felt like it anyway. This is a biopic about the creation of the show and the first doctor. We’ve only watched the 2005+ version, so I didn’t know anything about the origin. The movie is very cool. In the end, it’s very touching. There’s some interesting parallels between William Hartnell and the fictional Doctor too, like everyone leaving and him just moving forward. The movie is pretty well done. With the exception of a couple bad moments, it’s written and acted well. Then again, I’m a bit biased because I like the subject matter so much.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Well, this movie isn’t really for me, to be fair. It’s a teenager movie about teenagers, for teenagers. In that context, I think it’s probably a pretty good one. I will always be annoyed with the story about the kid who doesn’t have any friends who… has friends. Or the kid who can’t get a girl who… gets a girl. Those stories are very fake to me, yes they happen, but it seems to me it doesn’t speak to the people for whom it doesn’t happen. But I guess the other version of the story is not very uplifting. So, okay, it’s a teenager movie, and one in which the kid gets things he wants. With that, it’s pretty good and I think it does everything it wants to do.

Monsters University – This movie is very fun. It, like the last couple Pixar movies, is just fun. It’s not amazing like the best of Pixar. It’s not even as good as the first Monsters. But it is funny, it is cute, it is sweet. It’s an above average animated movie. Just a below average Pixar movie (although, that average is dropping).

Europa Report – I actually liked this quite a bit. It’s basically a found footage movie, but not horrible, which is kind of amazing. The conceit is a manned mission to Europa goes awry and Earth loses contact. Then they find all the footage from the mission and we see what happened. So the whole movie is cameras in and around the spacecraft, which is just enough to tell the story, just enough to hide the unknown. The stuff that goes wrong is drawn out, they bounce around in time a little bit to help. For a presumably low budget movie, they do very well by confining their scope. Pretty good.

Moneyball – I liked this movie. Granted, it’s about math and statistics succeeding, that’s kind of appealing to me. But it’s well done as well. It’s not fancy, it’s a pretty straightforward movie. But everyone does a good job and it’s a cool story. So I liked it. Not having much to say makes it seems like I don’t care, but it’s one of the better movies on this list.

Elysium – Another dystopian/utopian future movie. Seems like there’s a lot of these lately. I liked this okay. I guess I had heard such bad things I had pretty low expectations. The first 20 minutes are pretty dumb with the over the top and ridiculously implausible political allegory. But the rest of the movie does what it’s trying to do. I liked District 9 a lot more, to be sure, even though it was also pretty on the nose with the allegory. This one turns in to a video game about halfway through, which is actually pretty badass. Some of the violence is kind of insane, but it’s cool.

She’s Crushed – Yikes. I only watched this because Keith from KATG is in it. It’s…. really bad. Not even like enjoyably bad, just bad bad. To some extent it’s just because it’s an amateur movie, which means it doesn’t look as good, isn’t filmed as well. The sound is bad, which is interesting, I don’t know that I’ve noticed that before, it kind of seemed muddled. Even if all that was kind of forgivable, the movie is just dumb otherwise.

Despicable Me 2 – I didn’t think this was very good. I seem to remember liking the first one, at least a little. This I thought was pretty bland. I laughed out loud now and again, but not that often. And since it wasn’t really a redemption story (well, kind of for the one guy), it didn’t have the sweetness of the first one. So, meh.

The Wolverine – Granted, after the shitshow that was the first one, anything is going to look good, but this was decent. I wasn’t super in to it, but I feel like it did everything it was trying to do. Some decently cool fighting. Wolverine actually uses his claws as weapons instead of glorified scissors. The claws still look pretty bad. I don’t understand how in a movie with this much special effects the claws still look like roger rabbit. But that’s mostly when he’s posing (which, to be fair, is about 20% of the movie). In action they look fine and are used healthily (well, unhealthily, but you know what I mean). Still not an amazing movie by any stretch, but kind of on par with the mid-range non-fox marvel movies. The trailer tag was pretty bad ass though.

Video Game Reviews

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – This game is very good. It’s short, Steam tells me 3 hours, but it packs a punch. You play two brothers out on a quest to get medicine for their dad. The mechanical hook is that you control both boys at once, one with each analog stick. That’s interesting and different, and then you do a lot of running around and platforming and puzzle solving. The game is beautiful. The character models and animation are just okay, but the environments are beautiful. You are encouraged to literally sit on a bench now and again and watch the scenery, which I did every time. There’s no words, they speak kind of a simlish thing, but you are never confused about what’s going on. The game is most reminiscent of Shadow of the Colossus, to me. Which is a bit unfair, because SotC is one of my top games ever, so it’s not nice to compare to that. It doesn’t have nearly the sense of awe or scale that SotC did, but it certainly has a very human, very heartbreaking element to it that most games don’t have the ability or will to pull off.

Rogue Legacy – I’m not done with this, but it’s hard to say when you are done with a rogue-like. Presumably there is an end if I can get good enough to beat all the bosses. But I’m not sure that will ever happen (I never beat FTL, after all), so I have to write something sometime. Basically you are a dude exploring a castle, killing monsters, getting gold (to upgrade your stats/abilities/equipment), etc. It’s a roguelike in that the castle resets everytime you die and go back in (although you can pay a dude a % of your money to keep it the same). It’s not as harsh as most RLs, because you don’t loose all your upgrades. Your character does die, and the cute thing is that the next one you play is a descendent of the last one. It’s very fun, very addicting. It’s not special, it isn’t anything as powerful as Brothers. But I have put a few hours into it already and I’m sure I’ll put more before I either beat it or get bored.

Fallout: New Vegas – Alright, released literally 3 years ago, right on schedule! Well, I loved Fallout 3. This is basically the exact same game, near as I can remember. But it’s been long enough that that’s fun. It’s pretty buggy, I don’t know what Bethesda’s freaking problem is. But no bug was game ending, so I guess that’s enough. The world is huge, I put in 55 hours and I didn’t even visit every location, maybe.. 2/3 of them? Certainly didn’t do all the quests. I guess I was ready to be done by the end, but I liked it. I was an NCR guy all the way through, then all of a sudden decided I didn’t trust anyone else to run the Strip. That was kind of fun. Pretty cool over all. Only downside is I’m in no mood to play Skyrim, which finally went on sale on Steam. I’ll have to wait a couple weeks I guess.

Bioshock: Infinite – So, this game is good, but I don’t quite get the game-of-the-year caliber love. It was a pretty slow start, to be honest, I had trouble getting in to the game. I like the bioshock games. I know people love the world-building in the first one. And it was extremely impressive to be sure. But Rapture never wrapped me up like it did a lot of people, it was cool, but didn’t blow my mind. This is kind of the same, except with out some of the awe and novelty of the first one. The game play is much like it ever was, which is to say much like System Shock ever was. The powers are different than before, and some are kind of interesting. I think I’m getting noticeably worse at FPSs, by the way. I’ve never been great, but I could keep up in TF2, usually near the top of a random sampling of players, but not able to compete with anyone who played regularly. But now, I feel slower, with worse aim and worse, I don’t know, situational awareness? Not surprising, I don’t play games nearly as much and they aren’t often FPSs, but still kind of sad. Anyway, the game picks up part way through, by the end I was in to the story, the ending is actually pretty good. Overall, an above average, but not truly outstanding game.

Red Faction: Armageddon – This game is pretty fun. I don’t think anyone thinks it’s amazing, red faction has always been about destroying stuff and this lets you do that. I don’t know how many times you have to tear apart a building piece by piece until it’s not fun, but I didn’t get to that number. The story is just whatever, you are kind of an anti hero who has to defend a bunch of people, many of whom are dicks, from aliens or monsters. But there’s some cool guns and a big mech and a smashy hammer. Fun stuff.

PixelJunk Shooter – I never got around to this one on PS3, wasn’t worth $15 to me I guess. I never played Racers or Monsters, I think, but I did like Eden quite a bit. This one is fun. It’s kind of a more actioney Where’s My Water, which is funny. It’s pretty easy, there’s never really anywhere that is particularly challenging, but that’s okay for a cheap fun game. Good way to spend a few hours.