Aug 2, 2014

Movie Reviews

Great Gatsby – This movie was much better than I thought it’d be, but unfortunately it’s still not good. It had some good ingredients, but is ultimately kind of a failure. The acting is good, I’m not blown away by anyone, but it’s solid. I actually really like the mix of modern music with old timey parties. For some reason, it works pretty well. Although, it’s going to look absolutely ridiculous in about 5, maybe 10 years. Modern music with old timey parties is cool. Out of date music with old timey parties is lame. But, the movie is very hollow, led strongly by its horrible, horrendous, awful, laughable CG everything. For as much money as this movie must have cost, I have no idea why the CG is so bad. It was obvious from the trailer, it looks like a video game cut scene from 2008. The city, the car chases, the houses, the unnecessary zooms, all of it. And worst of all they occasionally try to have a human in the frame during the CG, which looks really bad. And worst of worst of all, they transition from a human in a real scene to a digital fake human-ish monstrosity in a CG scene. Maybe the movie is better than I think, but under all this bad CG, I really can’t tell. For a little while I considered that maybe the CG sheen was on purpose, to somehow represent the lavish over the top life style. But even the shitty dirt poor part of town, which is anything but lavish, looks shiny and fake.

The Numbers Station – Kind of a random action/spy movie with John Cusack defending a cryptography hut from bad guys. It’s kind of generic, not a lot to say about it, but it’s good enough for a weekend movie.

The Trip – Pretty weird movie. Nominally about two friends (ish) going on a foodie road trip for a magazine. Both are actors and kind of in competition. I think it must be largely improvised, the two guys spend a lot of time going on and on. It is at times really funny. The way they make fun of each other and the banter back and forth is good. They do a lot of impressions. Like, a lot of impressions. It’s hilarious at first. It gets old pretty quick. Although they could do Michael Caine for ever and I’d watch. But the rest of them get pretty tiresome pretty quickly. The movie in general kind of goes on and on, not sure why it had to be nearly 2 hours. But it has a pretty entertaining hour of goodness, it just needed some trimming.

The Internship – This is actually funnier than you’d expect. It’s fully 50% boring and rote. The story plays out exactly like you’d expect and none of it is particularly interesting. But half of it is actually pretty dang funny and some scenes really had me going. Given some of the crap I’ll voluntarily put on my TV, this was pretty entertaining.

Couples Retreat – So, remember the crap I just mentioned? Yeah. To be fair, I’ve watched much worse. It’s just a low quality mainstream comedy. It’s not god awful, there are some funny parts, but nothing I’d miss if I hadn’t seen it.

2 Guns -  I don’t know, I guess this movie was good enough. It has a cool set up with who is on whose side. Eventually it just becomes a bit overwrought and silly. It’s kind of like the writers heard about a mexican standoff and decided to see how many mexicans (metaphorically) they could cram in at once.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters – Meh, just like the first one. Low end YA fantasy. Nothing about it is particularly horrible, it’s not a twilight movie or anything. It’s just a random movie about teenagers with special powers saving the world, not very memorable.

American Hustle – This was okay, really. It’s a weird movie, pretty slow at times. But the actors do a good job. I can’t remember much about it, I have a generally medium-to-positive feeling about it, but I marked it as 2 stars on netflix a month ago, so maybe I didn’t like it. Oh well.

The Lego Movie – This movie is great. I never would have imagined it’d be good, but then everyone said it was, and it’s true! It’s really funny. Kind of a simpsons-like humor where you aren’t really busting out laughing, but you chuckle quitely because something was clever. More funny than the simpsons, though, and a lot of funny references. I liked it a lot, and it even ends up with a very touching ending. Good stuff.

This is Martin Bonner – This movie is reeeeeeally slow. It’s about an older guy who has had a change of life and is now working for a program that helps prisoners readjust to real life upon release and his time with one such prisoner. The two guys do a pretty good job, in a very sedated way. But it’s that kind of movie, so it’s not a criticism. It is an excellent little slice of these guys’ lives and struggles. But it is just that, a slice, so it just ends all of a sudden. No real resolution, you just see a part of their story, and you assume the story keeps going after. Kind of awkward, but obviously done on purpose, so not bad.

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People – Get this, Simon Pegg plays a jackass. No no, really, he plays a total self absorbed asshole who only wants to be contrarian, drink, and get some. And then by the end of the movie, he realizes the error of his ways. Spoilers, but not really. But it’s actually a decent movie. Nothing to be exciting about, but funny at times and it runs through it’s admittedly standard story fine. I guess it’s a romantic comedy, but it’s mostly about the latter, which it only has some of. But hey, it has Kirsten Dunst, and it’s not a total disaster, I take that as a measure of success.

Video Game Reviews

Skyrim – I finally played Skyrim and it’s all it’s meant to be. I didn’t do a lot with mods, but I did install an alternative inventory management system cuz the default one sucks. And an advanced lighting one because why not. But I didn’t install anything to change the gameplay or story. The game is pretty great, pretty much exactly as I remember oblivion. I’m not sure what, if anything, is different between the two. I guess the voice thing, but I almost never used that. It is fun to blow someone off the top of a mountain, but the rest of the shouts are meh. I did eventually run out of juice, I played the damn thing for 116 hours, according to Steam. Around 100 I started pushing on the main quest because the value of becoming Thane of every town with more than 10 citizens seemed to wane. I never did the vampires, the thieves, the dark brotherhood, all the daedra, and I barely started the werewolves. It wasn’t that it wasn’t all fun, I had just played so much. It is officially my most played game on steam, beating out star trek online, which I’m shocked to discover I had over 100 hours of. So, yeah, I obviously loved it, but there’s not much I wouldn’t be bored off after triple digit hours.

Octodad – This went on sale just as I was winding up Skyrim, and it seemed like the perfect palette cleanser. It’s a goofy physics game on the vein of surgeon simulator or QWOP, but not so hard. You control an octopus who is pretending to be a man and you complete various mundane tasks. But you control your “feet” and “hands” with some goofy physics so the challenge is to do things without destroying your surroundings or prompting suspicion. It’s silly, but it’s fun. There’s a co-op mode, dunno what that’s about, each person controls an arm? The game is very short, I beat it in a couple hours. I guess I could go back and get all the secrets but that’s silly. It’s funny that I paid $5 for 2 hours here and $7.50 for 116 skyrim hours. But that’s not a reflection on this being a bad deal, skyrim was just an amazing deal.

Zeno Clash – I’m way behind on this one, but it went on sale at some point. I admire what these folks were trying to do. It’s super hard to make a first person melee game. It’s interesting, but not all that fun. The controls are mostly uncomfortable and annoying. The style of the game is certainly unique. It doesn’t really mesh with me, and I don’t know why. I feel like they deserve a lot of credit for being totally different. But mostly I was just trying to get through the game, not super enjoying it.

Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall – I quite liked the first release of SR. It had it’s limitations, for sure, and parts were a bit rocky. But I love the world too much not to love a chance to play in it. This game, technically, is basically exactly the same. Theoretically they added options and fixed stuff up, but I played basically the exact same character (mostly mage), so it seemed pretty similar. Things were a little smoother, but I didn’t really have too many problems the first time around. Most annoying thing is how crazily slow saving is, not too bad a primary complaint. People made a big deal of the story, and it is pretty good. Certainly had me hooked in more than the first game. The way it plays out is pretty good, and the admittedly binary choice at the end is a good one. The other “better” aspect is you are supposed to feel more like a shadowrunner, that didn’t really work out. Yeah, you could choose your missions a little bit, but there was a pretty short list, and you had to get through the majority of them to progress the story, so that makes it a lot less optional. It was better than the first game, but still wasn’t much different. I’m playing a community campaign now that is much more of the get a random job style. The list of jobs is pretty small, there’s just not that many types of missions you can have. But it’s fun, I’m not sure if I’ll play through its whole story before I get bored, but we’ll see. Anyway, I love shadowrun, I wish I could play it pen and paper again. This game is as close as I’ll get, so I like it.