Archive for the Review Category

Lesbian Vampire Killers Review

Posted in Films, Review with tags , , on 5 March, 2009 by J-Man

 

Best. Film. Title. Ever. These are my thoughts as I look with joy at the tickets to Lesbian Vampire Killers clutched in my claw-like hands. Full disclosure: I know Matt Horne, so while I may be slightly biased, I did in fact enjoy Lez Vamp Killers. The super-secret-film-biz-people-only screening meant I was sitting amongst some of the most cynical people in the industry, and despite the fact most of them are cold husks of the people they used to be, soulless automatons desperately trying to claw their way into Cannes or Tribeca (the ones doing so bathing in the waters of glory, the others roaming the streets sorrowfully, devoid of a distributor), most of them did in fact laugh out loud (or LOL, as the internet would say) at the jokes in LVK.

lesbian-vampire-killers-ukposter-full1

The plot is a piss-take on your generic vampire story; vampires have taken over an isolated hamlet, and a descendant of a warrior must slay them to free the yadda yadda yadda. Thankfully Homosexual Blood-seeking-creature Slayers understands that this stuff will instantly bore even the most devoted vampire fanboy, so within the first five minutes we have half-naked lesbians making out, hilarious decapitations and of course the obligatory lesbian sex jokes.

While usually I dislike the generic piss-take film, Female-loving Blood-drinker Hunters manages to pull it off without resorting to the god-awful jokes you’d find in something like Epic Movie. While Corden plays the usual recently-fired-slacker, he does it with such a degree of charisma and acting that my cynical preconceptions evaporated within the first 20 minutes. Horne acts as the foil to Corden; the over-sensitive and polite guy being exploited by his girlfriend. The fact that he acts so meek at the start means his jokes at the end are all the more funnier.

Corden generally overshadows Horne comic-wise but in acting ability they’re about equal, and work well as a duo. The other actors, specifically MyAnna Buring and Paul McGann are competent, but never equal the main duo.

Not to say the entire film was great; it clearly is very, very low-budget. The scene in which Horne gets dumped appears to be have filmed in an empty wooden shed, the main cottage where they stay looks like its made out of cardboard, and all the forest sets look the same.

However, this is only noticeable when you look closely at the film. The direction pretty much covers it up well, with shots mainly being on the actors, and there are few static shots that are long enough to let one truly see the sets.

What the direction couldn’t cover up, however, is the awful special effects. Still, if you’re coming to a film called Lesbian Vampire Killers expecting something with the special effects of The Dark Knight, you should probably take a reality check.

No, these flaws are all acceptable, but the main problem is more evident; the script. It was perhaps a little under-developed. After the fourth scene of the two running through a forest being chased by (admittedly sexeh) vampires, I was starting to get a little bored. For me the first half was the best, where we still had the amusing dysfunctional relationship between Horne and his girlfriend, as well as the hilarious group of pretty-but-dumb art students. If they had perhaps fleshed the script out, and had the characters being picked off with more than just a few scenes in between, I would have been on the edge of my seat throughout, as it is I was entertained, but the ending just didn’t live up to the beginning.

In short, see it with friends, and don’t take it too seriously. As a light-hearted comedy, it’s great.

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Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Posted in Films, Review with tags , , , , , on 2 February, 2009 by J-Man

vicky_cristina_barcelona

This is one of those films that without a doubt, certainly and absolutely, will divide people. Its like Burn After Reading in that its an observation of human psychology, politics and philosophy (although in Burn it was more about morality). Here’s the premise, without spoilers: 2 american tourists go to Spain, are approached by Javier Bardem, and offered a weekend of wine, candle-lit dinners and… well… sex.

The plot progresses from there, the 2 american tourists acting as each other’s foil. Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is the sensible one, with perfect ideas of what she wants from love, and Cristina (Scarlett Johnasson) is the wilder, bisexual one, with a more Nietzschean approach to love, resigned to suffering, but knowing she could obtain some happiness from it.

Throw in the womanizing, bohemian Javier Bardem as Juan Antonio, and the neurotic and crazed Penelope Cruz as his ex wife, and you have a pretty damn good romantic drama, with love quadrilaterals, depressing looks at the committment involved in marriage, and philosophical bitterness.

Bardem and Cruz absolutely nail their roles, creating a completely believable yet dysfunctional couple, who’s desire for Cristina add another dimension to what could have been a plain ol’ three-way love triangle.

Woody Allen brings great direction, creating a beautiful portrayal of rural Spain, but this is eclipsed by the story, which takes a dominant role over the aesthetic part of the film.

Some called this a return to Woody Allen’s classic humour, but I totally disagree. Not once did I laugh (not necessarily a bad thing), compared to Love & Death where I giggled every other sentence.

So why will this film divide people exactly? It’s the ending, and it brings to mind There Will be Blood. You’ve invested in the film, care about the characters, want some conclusion, and it’s just open-ended and vague. Now as a film buff I can deal with that, but others won’t. They’ll stomp their feet and wonder why its not a happy ending, and how nobody’s learnt anything, and that its the directors job to literally tell you what happens, giving no room for any personal creative thought.

So let me simplify things; this isn’t a conventional film. Neither was Blood or Burn, and this is in the same vein, so if you didn’t like those two (brilliant) pieces of cinema, you’re not going to like this one.

However, the soundtrack is absolute gold, with spanish guitars and female vocals singing tales of love (pienso, hablo poco espanol) over the well directed film. There’s no numerical rating for this one, because it will most certainly be different for each viewer.

Heretic Pride Review

Posted in Music, Review with tags , , on 2 February, 2009 by J-Man

So here’s the second music review on EG by popular request (actually it was just Dom asking for it). It’s the album Heretic Pride by the Mountain Goats.

Sax Rohmer #1

In my opinion, the first song of an album has to show what the rest will be like. You need some lyrics, some choruses, some acoustic guitars etc. Sax Rohmer has all of these, but twists it in a peculiar way. Kinda depressing lyrics, mixed with happy and cathartic drums and acoustic guitars makes an incredibly good sounding track.

San Bernardino

Here’s the song for the softies – a tale of love amongst “yellow and blood red bits; like a kaleidoscope.” There’s no hint of sorrow in this track, but there’s a sacrifice of energetic sounds, for a slightly more repetitive group of strings. There’s twinging of guitars, and is that a violin I hear? (I listen to the songs as I write this, to be as accurate as possible. You may also have noticed I never use the music jargon for 2 reasons; I don’t know it, and it’s slightly exclusive to solely those who know it.)

Heretic Pride

The track which the album is named after, and its probably the best. While the Goats never blast me away with their melodies, the lyrics are just incredible. They fit in perfectly, are sung with conviction, and engross me every time I hear them.

“Crowds grow denser by the second
As we near the center of the town
And they dig a trench right in the main square right there
And they pick me up and throw me down”

This song is probably the best, due to the fantastic story backing it. Its also a great example of a typical Goats song.

I’ll finish this review later by editing the post, I’m a tad busy right now. Expect part 2 within the day or by tomorrow.

Quantum of Solace Review

Posted in Films, Review with tags , , , on 24 December, 2008 by J-Man

Verdict: Utter genero-action film.

Quidditch of Solarium

Oh boy. This is gonna be a tough one. Maybe I should do a Zero Punctuation thing, and make this into a mini-podcast of my hatred for this film. Then again, my microphone is broken, so I’ll make do with this keyboard. This is basically a lesson in how not to make a Bond film. Go back to the Sean Connery days of Bond, and there are 3 things that are apparent in every film; social stealth, gadgets (including cool cars), and finally a certain level of suave-ness. Quantum of Solace has none of these. There’s not a single scene without action, which I would usually appreciate, but the fact this means a sacrifice of story and character development means I began to loathe the non-stop gunfest that is “Quantum.”

Moving on, Daniel Craig is the most unenthusiastic Bond I have ever seen, trumping my deep-seated enmity towards Pierce Brosnan. Aside from the non-stop pouting, he’s now a cold-blooded, merciless terminator. In every other scene he either kills innocent policemen just trying to do their job, or performs some feat that would require the strength of Hulk Hogan to do in real life. An example would be when he sends a motorcycle flipping through the air by simply slapping the handlebars with his palm. Or when he snaps off a metal doorknob with apparently no effort. Finally, if you’re going to have Craig scarred, bruised and bloody after every scene, make sure there’s continuity. Last time I remembered, you can’t heal multiple lacerations to the face in less than 24 hours.

In fact, I no longer classify the Bond series as original. The fact that if you put Quantum of Solace and Bourne Ultimatum together and can’t see the difference (like me) greatly pisses me off. And they didn’t even plagiarise correctly! Where Ultimatum had a strong story which actually provided proper motivation for the protagonist, Quantum of Solace provides the plotline “Holy shit there’s some baddies in some South American country let’s go shoot them!” As for the use of “all 4 elements” that the director never shuts up about in his interviews, no-one gives a shit whether the action is at sea or on land, as long as it’s good. In fact, it seems they’re trying to compensate for the dire story by throwing on so many novelties that it just gets boring. Director: If you switch to a different country every 10 minutes, you lose the effect.

Well, I’m past my preferred word count of 400, but you need to be warned about this film. Even if you didn’t go to the cinema to see it, and are just wondering whether to pirate it or not, don’t. Actually, do. It’ll rob the director of the money he doesn’t deserve. Note: this is in no way an endorsement of piracy, just a joke. *Cough*

Far Cry 2 Review

Posted in Gaming, Review with tags , , , , , on 22 December, 2008 by J-Man

So, it’s taken me an embarassingly long time to finish this (due to my annoyingly short attention span). I seem to recall reviewing this a long, long time ago, but I had a look at it and decided to rewrite it. It was a 2 page affair, and pretty decent, but I think I’ll compress it for EG. It’s interesting in that you do actually have control over the story, with the game frequently letting you choose who to kill (or less commonly, live).

The graphics are beautiful, and in my personal opinion superior to Crysis’. The gameplay is also brilliant, albeit difficult at first. I think its fair to say that the problem with Far Cry 2 is that for every brilliant idea they put in, they half-ruin it. Take wound treatment, for example. Sick of the “regenerating health” mechanic so common in other games, I was looking forward to pulling bullets out of my own limbs, but it turns out that the real system is far less imaginative. It amounts to this; if your health is low, tap H. Your character will lean over and pull a bullet out of his arm with his own teeth/push a bullet through his arm with his own index finger/ram pliers into a gaping hole in his arm and pull the bullet out.

And then there’s gun jamming. Apparently enemy weapons degrade to an unusable point when their owners die, despite working perfectly up to that moment. You have to purchase your own weapons and visit arsenals to get even half-reliable weapons. Or there’s vehicle repairing, where you have to fix your own vehicles if they take too much damage. Like the wound system, it amounts to tapping a key and watching your character repeat an animation.

It’s incredibly frustrating that a game could have been so brilliant, yet squanders its ideas. Oh, not to mention the buddies, who’ll over-complicate a mission so much I ended up killing every single one of them, and that’s before the bastards betrayed me (oops, spoilers).

Nevertheless, Far Cry 2’s single strength easily pulls it back from the abyss of mediocrity, that being the combat. It really is based on tactics rather than reflexes, which is refreshing in our world of Call of Duty and Halo. The fire is the best I’ve seen in any games, making World at War’s flamethrower look more like a pack of matches compared to Far Cry 2’s. While vehicular combat is weak, it’s easy to simply get out of your car, shoot an rpg at any pursuers and drive off.

Many have suggested that the frequent enemy outposts slow down the game too much, but if you think what Far Cry 2 would be like without them, all I imagine is a beautiful but empty world with rare gunfights. Besides, the combat is the best part of Far Cry 2, so why do people want less of it?

Ubisoft also appear to working on some new DLC (downloadable content added to the game after release), which shows Ubisoft’s efforts to improve their existing products.

Waltz with Bashir review

Posted in Films, Review with tags , , on 20 December, 2008 by J-Man

In short, this is my film of the year. It’s consistently brilliant throughout in every way I can think of, and it definitely sits among my top 10 films.

waltz_with_bashir

In my typical fashion, I’ll deal with the technical side first:

fucking brilliant.

Moving on… Nah, I kid. The artwork is gorgeous, using my favourite technique of all time; using colour to represent emotions. The washed-out yellowness at the climax of the film suited it perfectly, and the frequent use of this brings beauty to what could have been an entirely bleak film. The animation is great, although it isn’t rotoscoped the animators have still been able to show emotions on the faces of all the characters.

In fact, the film is solely based on characters, rather than events. The centre of the plot is a former Israeli soldier with amnesia, pushed into searching for his past through hallucinations of a certain massacre he witnessed. He does this by talking to other people who were involved in the war, and thus allows the film-makers to explore different narratives and storyline while still relating it to the protagonist of the film.

It can be bleak in parts, depressing in others and uplifting in none, but that doesn’t stop it from being emotionally affecting and moving. I think an 18 rating is too high, there’s only 1 scene with sex, and the worst part is the real pictures of the massacre. I’m going off-track here, but surely images of an event that actually happened shouldn’t be concealed from us. Sadly genocide happens, and we can’t just pretend it doesn’t for the childrens’ sake.

Anyway, the film wraps up nicely by showing us the reality rather than the hallucination. It’s a deep film, and I recommend you see it. Definitely worth a BAFTA, hell, even an Oscar.

Hancock review

Posted in Films, Review with tags , , , on 20 December, 2008 by J-Man

One of my most anticipated films is Watchmen, becuase it deals with the idea of superheroes becoming more like unstoppable fascists, superior to mere mortals. I thought Hancock’s story would be along similar lines, just reversed, with him despised by the people he’s trying to save. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a steaming pile of-

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Anyway, let’s deal with the technical aspects of the film – production design is boring, camerawork was tedious, sets unconvincing, performances rubbish, special effects average, character development was almost non-existent and there was not a single funny joke in the whole fucking film. Hancock starts off with a dead-beat hero hated by all for being shit at his job, and he remains shit throughout the film. I disliked the character throughout the whole film, and felt totally disconnected, almost pleased when he died. Oh  wait, he doesn’t. Towards the end of the film you think they were going to go in a whole new direction by having the protagonists die, but it turns out that they survive, despite the plot of the film stating they should fucking die.

It’s equivalent to HAL suddenly rebooting at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Then again, they probably just wanted to have the option of making a piss-poor sequel then releasing it during a national holiday so the director has some more money to buy alcohol and can stay off the streets. Where he belongs.