Posts tagged ‘review’

04/24/2013

Still is the story told, / How well Horatius kept the bridge / In the brave days of old.

by wfgodbold

Macaulay may be no Kipling, but Horatius at the Bridge is still amazing.

Oblivion makes great use of a stanza from Horatius (not, obviously, the lines quoted in this post’s title). Much like The Dude’s rug, it really ties the film together.

Yes, it does star Tom Cruise. Yes, it is in a bleak, blue-filtered post-apocalyptic future.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not a great story.

02/13/2013

Jack Reacher, or the exception to the rule that adaptations are worse than the novel source material

by wfgodbold

The Jack Reacher novels suck.

The action is okay, but the plots are predictable, and Lee Child’s ignorance of firearms is staggering.

If you’re reading a Reacher novel, prepare to be lectured about shotgun cones of death, how a .22 to the back of the head will take a person’s face off, and how FBI special agents are issued long-barreled revolvers.

You can’t escape the ignorance–Reacher was an Army MP, and any time someone is shot or he handles a gun, he inflicts on the reader his munificent experience (as distorted by the British author). Especially glaring is the constant reference to 12 bore shotguns (here in the US, we say gauge, not bore).

The Jack Reacher movie, on the other hand, focuses on the action and plot, and Tom Cruise does not narrate incorrect firearm information.

I wouldn’t have read the first Reacher book if I hadn’t seen the movie first; if I had read the book first, I wouldn’t have seen the movie, and it wouldn’t have been because Cruise doesn’t match Child’s description of Reacher.

It would have been because no book that bad could have been adapted into a movie of any worth at all.

As it is, the Jack Reacher film is a solid action movie, and the books are suitable for leveling that table that has one uneven length leg.

12/22/2012

No one expects the unexpected journey!

by wfgodbold

The first of the Hobbit movies is good–far better than the reviews make it out to be, and on par with Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

That said, it does drag on a bit, and Jackson inserted some scenes to better dovetail the Hobbit with the LOTR movies. Mostly, they work. Radagast particularly seemed forced.

Other additions were welcome–the flashbacks detailing the fall of Erebor and how Thorin Oakenshield got his epithet (which, as a title, seems like it should have been written by Kipling) fit in with the story far better than Radagast’s bumbling.

And though the movie is a bit slow in parts, it does a good job of keeping those slow parts to a minimum and moving the story along. I look forward to the second film, whatever its title may be (I was hoping they would take a page from the 007 movies and follow the credits with “Bilbo Baggins will return in The Desolation of Smaug,” but no such luck).

10/21/2012

In the immortal words of Paul Phoenix…

by wfgodbold

Bring it on, ya aliens! (also, be careful; the embiggened screenshots may have mid-game thpoilerth)

I’m about ready to wrap up my first* playthrough of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and you’ll be happy to know that Earth has been saved from the alien menace.

This time.

Firaxis’s update makes XCOM play a lot like Valkyria Chronicles;** your soldiers can move and then shoot/defend/item/grenade/etc. Different classes (assault, heavy, sniper, medic) use different weapons and have different special abilities. This makes it a lot easier to keep track of who does what – in X-COM, I had to change the characters’ names to indicate what they were best at, which led to soldiers like Col. Wolfgang Krauser 70TU 80AIM.***

The red armor is three times faster than the usual armor.

The strategic layer is more streamlined, too. I would have preferred being able to have multiple available teams (if you build multiple Skyrangers) so that you don’t have to choose between missions. More UFO attacks wouldn’t hurt, either. As the game progresses, it seems like you do a lot of waiting at the geoscape for something to happen (whether it’s an abduction, a terror mission, a council mission, or a UFO). In the original X-COM, the longer the game went on, the more frequent the UFO attacks became, until you ended up getting overwhelmed.

I know 1994 was a different gaming era, but I think that really added to the tension.

Taken as a whole, the updates are generally good. The game is still hard, the aliens are still unforgiving, and your soldiers still die heroic (and sometimes, unheroic) deaths. I’ll probably play Classic next, and then I might even give Impossible a try.

I let a third of the civilians die and it rates my performance as “Good.” Yeah, this is X-COM.

You know, when I have copious free time (which means I can pencil it in for December, I guess).

*For certain values of “first.” I restarted my Classic difficulty Ironman game several times while trying and failing to get a grip on the changed systems, before finally caving in and dropping the difficulty back to Normal (though still Ironman).

**Which played a lot like Sakura Taisen, which in turn played a lot like X-COM: UFO Defense. The circle is now complete!

***Yes, I know Wolfgang Krauser is an SNK character. It seemed like most of the random soldiers I got ended up being German with random German names, and this was all I could think of.

10/17/2012

If you liked Taken…

by wfgodbold

You’ll probably like Taken 2.*

It’s the same style of movie – Liam Neeson is the implacable, righteously angry man on a mission to protect his family, and nothing is going to stop him.

Not even an entire Albanian town.

Though I liked it, I didn’t think it was quite as good as the first movie.

I still recommend it, though. It’s worth it just to see how Liam Neeson’s character MacGyvers his way out of captivity.

*I know I said I’d post this last weekend, but I have been incredibly busy. It turns out that those people who said moot court and law review at the same time was too much might have been right.

09/29/2012

When time travel is outlawed …

by wfgodbold

Only outlaws will have time travel!

That’s the premise of Looper, at least – a dystopian near future, where crime syndicates from the less near future send people they want killed. It’s all fun and games until you screw up and let a guy escape.*

The movie is pretty entertaining: it’s got good action scenes and an interesting use of time travel. I suppose I should have seen the ending coming, but I didn’t.

I will say that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Bruce Willis impression was better than Bruce Willis’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt impression. It’s like he wasn’t even trying!

Seriously, though, it’s not a bad movie.

*Why the geniuses in the future don’t just mortally wound the guys and send them back through time bleeding out is never explained. Maybe they have to be able to truthfully say they didn’t kill anyone?

09/15/2012

The funniest bit in Resident Evil: Retribution…

by wfgodbold

Was when Alice (Milla Jovovich) handed another character a gun,* and said “Do you know how to use one of these?”

The response?

“I campaigned for gun control!”

“But do you know how to use it?”

“You don’t understand! I marched against the NRA!”

This conversation, of course, happens in the downtime in between killing zombies and running for their lives.

Once the zombies are at the door, it’s well past time to give up on gun control.

As far as the rest of the movie goes; if you’re the kind of person who watched the other Resident Evil movies, you’re the target audience. And you had better go see it, since Paul W.S. Anderson said that if it does well enough, he’ll make a sixth movie, and that will be the finale!

*KRISS got their money’s worth with their product placement, for sure.

07/26/2012

Sorry, Whedon…

by wfgodbold

But Christopher Nolan is my master now.

The Dark Knight Rises is probably the best way Nolan’s Batman trilogy could have ended (I’ll do my best to avoid thpoilerth), and a damn fine movie.

Sure, it doesn’t have Heath Ledger giving an awesome performance as the Joker, but the entire cast did a great job here (instead of being overshadowed by the dead star of A Knight’s Tale). Bale does a great job (he’s come a long way from Reign of Fire), the villains do a great job, everyone is great.

There are even a few well-done callbacks and flashbacks to the previous two films (if you don’t remember them, I suggest a rewatch before seeing TDKR).

The bulk of the film pays homage (?) to the French Revolution (and Occupy Wall Street (but I repeat myself)), right down to the class envy, the Storming of the Bastille, and sham trials (complete with gratuitous French antique chair for the accused!)*.

If you like Batman, you owe it to yourself to see this movie (I’ve seen it twice!). It’s got the best rendition of Bane (not hard, after Batman and Robin), Catwoman (I still can’t believe I paid actual money to see Halle Berry in that piece of crap film), and REDACTED** in any big screen Batman movie yet!

*And a choice Charles Dickens quote, to boot.

**Thpoilerth avoided!

04/24/2012

If you like horror/slasher movies even a little bit

by wfgodbold

You’ll probably enjoy The Cabin in the Woods.

It hits all the classic tropes, but is self-aware (and yes, there’s a method to the madness). It’s not a parody like Tucker and Dale vs Evil was; it’s more like a deconstruction of the slasher/horror genre.

And since I don’t want to give anything away, I can’t really say much else about it. Go watch it; Joss Whedon doesn’t disappoint.

03/26/2012

Thoughts on Uncharted: Golden Abyss

by wfgodbold

I finished the game Sunday night on normal. Overall, I’d say it was a pretty good handheld adaptation of the console Uncharted experience.

The gyro-assisted aiming was great; I think this would work even on the console versions of Uncharted with the PS3′s Sixaxis controllers. Once I figured out how to use it properly, I was getting headshots more often than not.

There wasn’t much deadtime; the game was good about taking Nate from one action setpiece to the next.

The story was decent; it’s set before Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (the first game), but aside from Elena not showing up at all, you’d never have known.

However, there were some things I didn’t like at all.

The final boss fight was terrible; it combined the tediousness of quick time events with the annoyance of swiping all over the Vita screen. If I wanted to play a touchscreen-based game, I’d have bought a damn iPad. There were plenty of touchscreen quick time events throughout the game, so it’s not like they surprised me with it; but I didn’t like those either, and so I really didn’t like it when I had to swipe around on the screen for five minutes to beat the final boss. If you miss three of the swipes, it’s game over; it’s also game over if you miss the final swipe, even if it’s not the third.

The graphics were pretty good, in spite of the jaggies. It looked better in motion than in the screenshots I took, but the jaggies were still noticeable.

Your sidekicks are morons. They get in the way, and thanks to collision detection, you can’t just walk through them; you bump into them and have to go around. It was especially annoying when they would start climbing down ropes before I could and then when I tried to follow them, I’d roll off the ledge and fall to my death.

I’d say if you’re on the fence about whether to buy it or not, either pick it up used or wait for a sale. It’s good enough to play, and a fun game, but it’s definitely not worth the $50 MSRP. Maybe if it had been made by Naughty Dog instead of Bend, it would have been a bit better; I guess we’ll never know.

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