24 June 2008

Jumper Review

Whaddya think? 
Jumper is something of an enigmatic movie - it sweeps into your living room, jumbles the furniture about a bit, and then vanishes, leaving you thinking 'is that it?'. But then when you look about and see what it's actually done, you suddenly realise that it's started off something wonderful, because now you can organise your furniture in a new and exciting way.

To explain my rather odd metaphor, Jumper is a movie full of possibilities that somehow manages to merely set up further ones instead of captilise on its own. There are plenty of good ideas, but it's clear from the short running time that this is only a set up - a precursor to bigger, better things, like the first Bourne movie, or indeed the first X-men film. The only problem is that it is simply not as likeable as either of those, and so it somewhat falls flat.

Story-wise, it's a fairly prototypical superhero film, only it lacks a central aspect of those things - a hero. David - played competently by Hayden Christensen - is just an ordinary bloke who discovers these extraordinary powers, and is subsequently persecuted by a mysterious group called the Paladins, led my the absurd blonde barnet of Samuel L Jackson with the equally absurd monicker Roland. Along the way he meets another jumper called Griffin, and...well, that's about it.

It simply feels like the whole thing has been hamstrung by someone - that there was more of it before the numerous, sequel-minded rewrites happened. What's here is solid - not great, but solid - but it simply leaves you feeling short-changed.

There are good things - the special effects, in particular, are really rather good. The 'jump scars' that jumpers leave when they jaunt from place to place are particularly well done, and some of the fight scenes have the breathlessness that the Bourne Identity had, with the added fun of having a bleached Nightcrawler thrown into the mix.

Jamie Bell is particularly good as Griffin - his confidence in the role completely outshining Hayden Christensen's underserved star power; and Sam Jackson can't help but exude cool despite the ridiculous haircut. But it's hampered somewhat by the ever-wooden Christensen, and a performance from Rachel Blison that might as well have been faxed over on toilet paper.

In the end, Jumper is an entertaining movie; but there simply isn't enough of it to raise it above anything other than a distinctly average one. Worth a look, certainly, but nothing more - unless, of course, a big-budget sequel is made, and then maybe I'll add a couple of points...

Ross' Rating: 5/10

23 June 2008

Rolling Through the Minutes

Whaddya think? 
Ugh, I need a new game! Something! Anything!

Age of Conan...well, it's good, but like all MMO's, I'm starting to tire of it. And the problem is that, unlike WoW, you're character doesn't look more and more impressive as you progress through the levels. I saw a level 80 who looked just like the level 37 who was stood right night to him. Yes, some of the effects look amazing when you get to high levels, but the combat classes just don't have anything to give us real incentive to pursue those higher levels. Yes, fatalities are awesome, but there's only so many times chopping someone's head off can be amusing before it gets stale.

Call of Duty is beginning to get old as well. I'd like to see another map pack, or even a weapon pack - in fact, go with that! A weapon pack would be frickin' sweet if they could pull it off. Maybe two new weapons into each class! Ooooh, I like that idea!

GTAIV...well, it's problematic. I loved the game, but there's simply nothing to entice me back to it. The multiplayer gets old very quickly, and there's no real replay value. Yes, the sandbox mode is designed for replayability, but IV doesn't have the pick up and play factor that San Andreas had. Plus the wanted level system makes it impossible to have really long, drawn out chases, because once you hit 4 stars, you're absolutely fucked - and getting to six is nigh on impossibe! But I may have a crack at it in future.

Considered having another plough through Mass Effect, but if I did do that, I'd want to play Bring Down the Sky, and I cannae afford it. Same with Super Smash Bros, which finally sees it's release here in the UK and EU on Friday. Fuck's sake - the game that I've pretty much been waiting for to sway me onto the Wii, and not only does it turn up when I've got a Wii in easy access, but I can't buy the bloody thing. And knowing Nintendo, they'll probably not manufacture enough copies, meaning no-one will be able to get their hands on a copy for weeks and weeks. Dammit all!

Other things are going well, though - work's definitely picked up, and I can see myself ploughing through it until August rolls around. Then it's festival time, and that - according to my budget, at least - will be nothing short of a godsend when it comes to money. Then September is being taken off to write my damn novel (and go see some family and friends in England, woo!), then I need to either find another job, or get back to data entry until December, when it's festival time again!

That's about it really - a rant on the economy, thinly veiled as generally complaining about a lack of video games. Sly eh?

Bye for now, ladies! (And you gents, too...)

18 June 2008

Stuff...and...junk

Whaddya think? 
Okay, so I played the Battlefield: Bad Company demo, and I have one major beef with it...
What the hell happened to good old-fashion controls? Why the hell do people look at something that is perfectly good already, then try and change it and cock the whole bloody thing up?!! Seriously, the controls B:BC are horrendous. Right bumper to change weapon? That's almost as stupid as Frontlines' idea of using the left bumper to reload! I vote for standardisation - the PC has a ridiculously strict set of rules regard key-mapping and FPSs, so why can't consoles have the same?

Saw The Incredible Hulk on Saturday, and that was pretty good - not quite as good as Iron Man, but still solidly entertaining. Will try and post a proper review at some point, though that's not likely to happen in the next week - lots of stuff to do at work, and am also trying to save some creative energy to take a crack at my novel at the weekend. But still, it should see the light of day at some point.

Went down to London to see my Dad on Sunday - organised by my step-mum, which was in turns unexpected and pretty fucking sweet. Was good to get the family back together - my step-mum and sister were there too - and we had a pretty good meal, despite an annoying waiter and a general veneer of shittiness in the restaurant.

Then there's the whole Call of Duty: World at War brouhaha, and am generally not that impressed with it. Yes, the graphics are lovely, and yes it'll probably retain the series' high standard of gameplay and impressive set pieces...but Infinity Ward worked hard to not only wrench the CoD series out of the World Wars, but also to make an absolutely astonishingly good game. So the fact that Treyarch see fit to piss all over that by going right back to where the series came from with the fifth major outing of the series.

So yeah, that's that. Nowt else really. So I shall sign off!

12 June 2008

I demand some booze!

Whaddya think? 
Well, I went to the cinema yesterday! Yay! Saw Gone Baby Gone...micro review!

I enjoyed it! It got a little lost in the middle third - lots of story threads thrown up in the air, and only some of them flashed brightly - but the the first and final parts are really quite something. It could've benefited from a tighter edit, but apart from that I've got very little complaints with the story.

Ben Affleck directed it rather well - he really ingrains the viewer into Boston, making us feel like part of the whole debacle. Casey Affleck is once again on the road to proving himself one of the better actors working in Hollywood today, his Patrick Kenzie making a convincing and interesting journey from relatively innocent to hardened PI over the course of the film. But perhaps the best aspect of it was Ed Harris, searing his way through Remy Bressant like Withnail through Monty's cellar.

Overall, I have to say I really enjoyed it. There are things wrong with it - mainly in the script department - but it shows real promise that Ben Affleck could turn into an absolutely fantastic director. A solid 8/10 from me, methinks.

Not a lot else done. The Incredible Hulk's released today, so I may well go see that tomorrow or saturday, so hopefully will post a review.

That's it!

Bye!

9 June 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Review

Whaddya think? 
So, 2008 has rolled around, and 18 years after the last one, a brand, spanking new Indy film arrives at our cinema screens. What a wait, and totally worth it - more or less...

To summarise the story would probably be to tell you everything you've already read online - but let's go over it any way, mainly to get my word count up! Indy's been shot forward in real time, and it's the late 1950's. World War II's been and gone, and the cold war is now well under way. Unfortunately, Indy's neck deep in it, having been captured by the Soviets and smuggled into a secret location, where they attempt to force him to help in their schemes.

From the get go, it's immediately obvious that there's going to be at least some divergence from the standard Indy formula. Most obviously - and actually, it's the sole divergence - is it's general theme. Whist previous Indy films have taken a more semi-religious fantasy approach, this one seems content to take a vaguely sci-fi one, although there are still semi-religious overtones to it that keep it in line with the first three movies.

Not that this is a bad thing. The story fits in rather well with the over-arching theme of increasingly ridiculous plots as the saga moves forward. Although to be quite honest, the plots passed and waved goodbye to ridiculous a long time ago - that's part of what makes them entertaining, they're pure escapism. It does devolve into deus ex machina towards the end of the movie, but this doesn't detract from the whole experience.

Harrison Ford is once again fantastic as Indy, who - a few creaky acting moments at the beginning of the film aside - is still the hero we know and love. But at the same time, Ford and screenwriter David Koepp subtly change him - he's older, wiser, and unfortunately, a little slower than he used to be. Doesn't stop him from applying a spade to someone's face, but it's still there and it makes for an interesting experience. This is a hero who's past his glory day - think Batman in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns - but still has a few cracks of the whip left in him. Ironically, this is also literally true, the trusty bullwhip only seeing use twice at the start of the film, and then languishing on Indy's hip for the rest of it like an over-paid extra.

Shia LaBoeuf is solid as the young buck that Indy's newfound oldness plays off - with LaBoeuf displaying the easy comedy that made him a fantastic foil for Michael Bay's Hulking Robots™. The references that his character Mutt bring to light - namely to today's pop culture references to the 1950's - is a particularly inspired piece of meta-surrealism. Particularly welcome, though, is Karen Allen, reprising her role of Marion Ravenwood from Raider's of the Lost Ark; and she too is older and wiser. Again, Allen takes a little while to warm up - and considering how late in the film she is introduced, this is something of a hindrance to the pacing - but once her and Ford are bantering back and forth as they're tied up in the back of a speeding Russian truck, you can't help but smile with unbridled joy.

Other famous faces pop up - Cate Blanchet chews, crunches and spits out scenery left right and centre as the primary antagonist. Ray Winstone is Indy's mate from the second Great War and delivers a trademark performance that, whilst good, still doesn't feel like much more than a way to make Indy's journey that much trickier. Criminally under-used, however, is John Hurt - his dry wit and watery voice more or less wasted on the bat-shit bonkers Harold Oxley; although he still brings a few moments of genuinely laugh-out-loud comedy to the character.

But the thing that I enjoyed most about Indy 4 is that Steven Spielberg has remembered exactly how to make an Indiana Jones movie. To say that they were my favourite movies growing up would be a massive understatement - and an even larger cliché - so the fact that this is the case is particularly pleasing. Everything from the wit and charm of the dialogue to the over-the-top sound effects, slightly shoddy special effects and the absolutely bonkers stunts - everything simply rings true of the first three movies. He's remembered that the Indy films are B-movies that are pretending to be A-list - that they're just pure entertainment and nothing more, and what's here is a truly magnificent achievement: a movie that is truly worthy of your attention.

Ross' Rating: 8/10

6 June 2008

Tienes un Web-log?

Whaddya think? 
Right! The Indy review is half-written. Should be up soon. But you know me and the whole reliability thing - doesn't really happen!

3 June 2008

Hurray!

Whaddya think? 
Well! That was fun, wasn't it? Bit of vaguely interesting, pseuo-journalistic travelogue-ing! Had a great time, as you may or may not be able to glean from my wonderfully written thingy...

Distractions aplenty recently. Work's sucked - I'm just distracted, don't know what it is, but haven't been earning nearly enough money in the last couple of weeks. Still, am going to try and pick it up this week! Putting in random gardening crap is still vaguely entertaining though, although I can see what my boss says about it starting to grate after a while. Not sure when it'll start to truly grate on me, so for the moment will stick with it!

Then, of course, there's Age of Conan. It's pretty fantastically fun; and I must mention that there's decapitation in it! The combat is vaguely refreshing after the usual 'click and wait' style of such games; and it's ridiculously, satisfyingly bloody, which is always good. I've gone a barbarian - because, y'know, I'm boring - and am having fun chopping people up! So yup, that's reccommendable. There're still a fuckload of glitches - as is usual for an MMO that's just started - so will post a proper review of it when it's slightly more stable!

Saw Indy 4, and - unlike half the fucking internet, it seems - I really enjoyed it. Was a little jarring that it took a sci-fi route instead of a pseudo-religious fantasy one - that's not really a spoiler, as it's more or less revealed as such in the opening sequence - but apart from that, it was exactly what I was expecting of a new Indy film; more of the same. It wasn't trying to break any boundaries, it wasn't trying to push the medium of cinema - it was just a good old-fashioned adventure romp. Again, I'll post a proper review of it it at some point - I've been concocting it in my head for a while now, and it should pretty much pop out fully formed once I actually sit down and write the bugger.
Watched series 1-3 of Peep Show. Bit hit and miss in my honest opinion - some of it is outright hilarious, and other parts are utter 'WTF?!!?!' moments. The former outweigh the latter, given; but it was a little jarring just how unfunny some of the not funny parts were. Also, the first person camera angle was a little awkward at times, especially when they were doing the more intimate stuff. Still, overall I enjoyed it, so am going to try and get hold of the rest of it!

As for things I've yet to watch - I've got House series one sitting waiting to be watched! That should be good - I've heard nothing but good things about it from multiple, vaguely trust-worthy sources, so will hopefully watch that over the course of the next week.

Now...I have a cupboard to go hide in. Or not, as the case may be. Kek...