Category Archives: Films

Cumberbatched Into Darkness

It’s a Thursday, there’s precious little on TV – why not take in the latest trailer for “Star Trek Into Darkness”?

Image

This would be the “Empire Strikes Back” of the reborn “Star Trek” movie franchise, then?  I’m guessing so, what with the doomy tone, Benedict Cumberbatch‘s messianic sociopath running amok and blowing up half of the planet and the gloriously blatant shuttle craft/Millennium Falcon riff showing up in this two minutes and 15 seconds of face-melting, nerd glee.

Oh, and if you’re into that kind of thing, Alice Eve‘s character apparently can’t afford clothes.  Hollywood double standards, how do they work?

Have a new poster for the movie whilst you work that one out…

"Star Trek Into Darkness" - none more dark, squire...

“Star Trek Into Darkness” – none more dark, squire…

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Films, Geekery

“Tomb Raider” – Lara’s Renaissance

To quote Lady Croft herself, "I can do this..."

To quote Lady Croft herself, “I can do this…”

TL;DR verdict? “Tomb Raider” is a fantastic game.  Buy with confidence.

Whether or not Lara Croft‘s latest Crystal Dynamics game is a true entry in the series or such a departure that it constitutes an adjunct spin-off is worthy of further discussion, but the title stands on its own.

It’s a little too early to start shouting about ‘game of the year’ considerations but this latest Lara adventure is a cinematic adventure of such quality that it rivals generation-defining PS3 titan “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” for sheer thrills, visual splendour and storytelling.  Given that the second Nathan Drake game is probably in my top two games of this generation, that’s no small complement.  I’d hope to see this title get it’s due come the end of the year, but I suspect that “Bioshock: Infinite” has game of 2013 all wrapped up unless the shipped product has been somehow inadvertently swapped out in the disc-pressing stage for a tie-in “Smurfs” shovelware effort.

Katniss who?

Katniss who?

Having listened to this week’s episode of the “Weekend Confirmed” podcast, I know that redoubtable host Garnett Lee will disagree in particular with my estimation of the story, and he’s entitled to feel misgivings towards it, but I really feel that this tougher survival story achieves the difficult balance of giving equal importance to character and plotting, pitching a younger Lara Croft through the proverbial mill whilst sketching out some of the elements of her persona in a way which should please long-term fans and players who’ve never picked up a “Tomb Raider” game before.

No game is perfect and often bears the hallmarks of influence . This game at least has the taste to be influenced by really good stuff. As well as the aforementioned Naughty Dog‘s awesome PS3 adventure series, you can pick out gameplay mechanics popularised by Rock Steady’s “Batman”games (Lara has a ‘detective vision’-like ‘survival instinct’ which highlights useful equipment and environmental tools), a gear and skills upgrading system which recalls latter-day “Call of Duty” multi-player perks and the foreboding dread of classic survival horror title “Resident Evil 4” as well as a scene in a charnel pit which is right out of Neil Marshall‘s magnificent horror film, “The Descent”.

The gore and combat can get a little overwrought, it’s true, and might put off some long-time fans who’ve felt that Lara is better when she’s exploring and traversing than when she’s sneaking up on some misogynist cult member and sticking arrows in his gullet but I see this as a real step forward for the character and a tantalising glimpse at what Crystal Dynamics might do with next-gen hardware – the PS3 version that I’ve been playing is utterly beautiful to behold.

Lara’s next game (and the inevitable “Uncharted 4”) might just be the reasons that I pick up a PlayStation 4.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Films, Gaming, Geekery

Neptune HS Pirates B-ball Rules!

Image

 Watch your noses, 09ers – Veronica Mars is back.

Yep, the erstwhile snarky private eye, mama of Backup and SLR-wielding bad ass was reborn yesterday when series creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell took to crowd-funding site Kickstarter to raise funds for a low-budget “Veronica Mars” movie to wrap up stories from the show left hanging so egregiously when the CW dropped it after the third series.

In a result which perhaps points the way forward for beloved geek properties felled in a untimely fashion by uncaring corporate masters, the hoped-for $2 million baseline budget for the project was joyously reached in a mere ten hours.   Creative people being able to take their niche wares to an audience who wish to back them?  It’s Beethoven-era artistic patronage rendered feasible by digital connectivity, so it is!

Somewhere, a Browncoat’s ear has begun to twitch…

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs, Films, Geekery

What Joss Did Next…

"Much Ado"

So, how do you follow-up last year’s barely seen, low-budget success d’estime, “The Avengers”?  It came and went from theatres in about a week, hardly made a dent at the box office.   I don’t blame you for never having heard of it.

Ahem.

Luckily, somebody’s decided to let Joss Whedon out of movie jail and given him the chance to make amends for bombing so badly last time out by making something with sure-fire commercial potential – a can’t-miss, four-quadrant, summer blockbuster of a flick.

He’s only gone and made a Shakespeare adaptation!  Why, you’d almost think that he’d just made a billion dollar superhero smash and thus had carte blanche to follow his muse, call in some mates and make the Bard relevant to Generation Twitter.  Such absurdity!  It’s almost as if you have to direct a successful movie version of “Much Ado…” in order to be allowed the keys to the House of Ideas movie toy box…

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Films, Geekery, Movie Trailer

“Star Trek Into Darkness”…earlier?

Hmm...badge-y...

Hmm…badge-y…

In the UK, we might suffer through hilariously terrible weather for most of the year, must bear at least some responsibility for unleashing Simon Cowell, One Direction & Robert Pattinson on an unsuspecting globe and can’t keep a shop open to save our lives, but know this, global peeps –

We’re getting “Star Trek Into Darkness” a week early!

Ignore that date on the poster above – the second “Trek” adventure from J.J. Abrams is now out in the UK on 9th May 2013 – which is going to come as scant consolation to all the people in the Den of Geek comments section, linked above, who have booked days off work  and holidays on the basis of it coming out a week or so later.  Nerds, eh – gotta love ’em…

5 Comments

Filed under Films, Geekery

Oscar gets it right…

Image

It’s funny how time changes you.

There was a point where the Academy Awards were quite a big deal for me.  I did my best to see nominated films, had an opinion on buzzed-about performances and genuinely looked forward to the ceremony itself, even with the cheesy, self-congratulatory, megawatt pageantry which is so frequently inherent in the telecast.

That ship, it would appear, has sailed.

The still above, from Disney‘s glorious animated short subject winner “Paperman”, represents the only major award winner that I saw at the cinema prior to the ceremony this year.   Attached to “Wreck-It Ralph“, it didn’t do anything more revolutionary than tell a simple love story without words and

Which means that I’ve missed out on “Argo“, “Life of Pi“, “Zero Dark Thirty”, “Les Miserables”, “Silver Linings Playbook”, “Django Unchained” and “Lincoln”.  And I’m mostly okay with that.

I will definitely get around to watching “Zero Dark…” as Kathryn Bigelow can do little wrong in my eyes, and I’ve enjoyed everything that Ben Affleck has done as a director, but I can’t get excited about the sort of films which have been nominated in the last few years:  Vaguely Traditional Musical, Obligatory Mainstream Hit, Ersatz, Quirky Pseudo-Indie Flick, Crossover Foreign Arthouse Piece – these, it seems,  are your options when it comes to February and the solemn bestowing of Little Gold Men.

And that is my problem – the woefully predictable Oscar Bait which surfaces in the Autumn and defines the race from thereon.  There’s simply no room for a genuine surprise, as even a left-field entry like “Beasts of the Southern Wild” has all edges removed and uncomfortable, below-the-surface truths obscured by the PR hive-mind in order to pitch an alternative, life-affirming narrative about debuting actress Quvenzhané Wallis.  It’s the equivalent of patting the cheeky little kid on the head and ignoring all the stuff about post-Hurricane Katrina communities because that awkward stuff doesn’t exactly uplift.

Grumpy old man – moi?

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Films

“Wreck-It Ralph” – the ultimate video game movie?

Image

Video games and movies – traditionally uncomfortable bedfellows, wouldn’t you agree?   Made on the cheap, by inexperienced directors graduating from making adverts and frequently starring actors who would clearly rather be doing something else, the list of video game adaptations is a list of movies which aim low and miss even that humble goal.

So, perhaps, a different strategy is required?

Disney‘s “Wreck-It Ralph” is a movie set in the world of arcade games, has cameo appearances from many classic gaming characters and does such a good job of imbibing the essence of video games and utilising the best aspects of film that you wonder why in the name of Mario Mario anybody would want to make a cheap cash-in action flick out of an FPS when they could be doing something far more worthwhile – and financially lucrative – like this.

The film follows the titular anti-hero, voiced wonderfully by John C. Reilly, who toils as the archetypal bad guy in 1980’s arcade game “Fix-It Felix Jnr.”  A combination of career fatigue, hostile co-workers and a lack of cake prompts Ralph to experience a mid-life crisis and our protagonist realises that he no longer wants to be bad.  As noble an ambition as that is, the video game world needs antagonists and Ralph soon realises that he’s going to have to take matters into his own gigantic, 8-bit hands by winning a medal and reaping the spoils which come from ascending an arcade game’s leader boards.

Sweet Wheels, pint-size.

Sweet Wheels, pint-size.

Though steeped in nerdy video game arcana – oh hai there, Konami code! – “Wreck-It Ralph” functions best as a propulsive action adventure with a simple and mostly unobtrusive moral about the importance of not judging books by their cover, and is well served by a talented voice cast.  Reilly is impeccable as the sad sack wannabe nice guy, Sarah Silverman is just on the right side of the cute/annoying divide as game glitch Vanellope, as ostracised by the other characters in her kart racer game “Sugar Rush” as Ralph is in his digital home.

You don’t need to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of arcade gaming, home consoles and game trivia to get the most out of “…Ralph” – sensibly, this film concentrates on inhabiting the world and giving a layer of delightful referential subtext for fans to geek out over whilst allowing a young audience to enjoy a blisteringly-paced adventure with so many primary colours on screen during the “Sugar Rush” race sequences that you’ll think you’re having some sort of acid flash-forward.

A must for gamers, a safe bet for family audiences and a fine addition to the ongoing canon of Disney animation, “Wreck-It Ralph” is a deftly-made, charming example of what the House of Mouse does best and illustrates the combination of artistry and storytelling which marks them out from their competitors in the overcrowded CG animation field.

3 Comments

Filed under Films, Gaming, Geekery