The Lego Movie (2014) Movie Review – Spoiler Free

What can I say about what is probably the most popular film of 2014 so far. The Lego Movie has shocked everybody with its star-studded cast of some of the brickest a-listers in Hollywood right now. I had the pleasure of seeing this film on it’s first day in British Cinemas, which just so happened to be Valentines Day. Anyway, I digress, today I have the pleasure of reviewing one of the best family films I’ve seen in recent years.

Firstly, I must confess, I did latch on to the hype bandwagon for this film and was keeping an eye for a release date since some-time last year. As a big fan of the Lego games, I was eagerly looking forward to this experimental movie which involved the toys which have kept most of us playing over the last couple of decades. The film built up it’s cast of some really class acting talent – including: the one and only Morgan Freeman, Hunger Games’ Star Elizabeth Banks and Arrested Development’s Will Arnett, as well as one hell of a supporting ensemble which is simply too vast to even begin to list. 

The thing which perhaps fascinated me most about this film was it’s consistent and genuinely amusing humour which was definitely persistent throughout and at some moments, had the entire cinema giggling to themselves like a school-girl. It is an important point to state that the ratio of adults:children in this screening was very much in favour of the former. The humour was stylish, witty and not sparse, which is always a positive, considering the amount of recent comedies which have the humour, but simply not enough over the film to keep you entertained. The humour was very similar to that of the games, so if you’re a fan of the tongue-in-cheek style humour that we’ve seen over the last few years, then this film is right for you.

The other thing I loved about this film was the overwhelming number of actor and character cameos throughout the film: the fact that ‘Batman’ was in fact one of the main protagonists was simply a breath of fresh air to the very controlled cinema that we’ve been seeing in recent years. With Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill starring as Superman and the Green Lantern respectively, this film was definitely not shy to go in all guns blazing in terms of Cameo appearances. Not only was there an abundance of random characters in the Lego Movie but Star Wars favourites Billy Dee Williams (Lando) and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) also voiced their characters for a short moment of the film. 

My final main point is that this film was very aware of it’s target audience, which to be honest, was broad enough to cover all sorts of people: from die-hard comic fans to little children, this film had something for everybody. The self-awareness can be seen by the awkwardness of Jonah Hill’s Green Lantern, which is possibly referencing the atrocity which we saw a few years ago when it hit our screens. The Lego Movie combines the perfect amount of wit and humour with the balanced story and strong characters.

On to the more political and interesting side of the movie now, so if you were looking for a bit of light-reading, I’d consider stopping now. Anyway, this film is practically about a completely totalitarian state run by one dictator – Will Ferrell‘s President Business. The workers in this state have the same routine, eat the same things, watch the same boring sitcoms on TV and listen to the same repetitive, but actually damn catchy, song all day long. After the scene has been set, we get introduced to the Master Builder’s, those who dare to fight back against society, those whose minds have not been censored but the corrupt leader of the city. The master builders are very much independent towards the start of the film but as it progresses, we learn that they are capable of working together and when we work together, we can fight back against even the strictest, omnipotent governments. This is an important message in the film that many minors will not pick up but is definitely important nonetheless.

Anyway, to conclude, I loved this film. With the perfect balance of humour, story and connotations, it is something for the whole family to enjoy and therefore I highly recommend this film.

Thanks for Reading

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Memento (2000) Film Review [Spoiler Free]

In 2000, a 30-year-old Christopher Nolan released what was just his second film on a career which would lead to what are possibly some of the best films we’ve seen in recent years – Inception, The Prestige and The Dark Knight Trilogy. The film I am writing about today is Memento, the psychological thriller concerning a man, suffering from short term memory loss, who, whilst noting down everything he needs to remember through photos and tattoos, is hunting the killer of his wife, who was murdered in the same incident that caused his ‘condition’. I am keeping this review spoiler free, so if you are worried about the clever twist at the end being ruined, you have nothing to fear.

I went into this film with a very sceptical mind, I expected it to be your run of the mill thriller, with ‘that twist’ in the tale that will leave everyone shocked, but after about halfway through, my mind had changed drastically. I knew the film had excellent reviews but, even as a reviewer, I am sometimes extremely let down, so I tend to prepare for the worst. The film got off to not quite the slow start we all know and ‘love’, instead, it was quite the opposite. With a quite intense opening scene, that of course, I won’t ruin, the film uses a clever trick to get you instantly involved and wondering what on earth is going on. I for one, had no clue whatsoever as to what was happening, nor did I care because I knew Nolan would find a way to explain it to even the dimmest of viewers.

Memento has a strange chronological mechanic to it, there are two story-lines, both concerning the same main character – Lennie, or Leonard as he prefers as we are often told through the film. However, one of the story-lines is going forward in time, whereas the other, is going backwards in time, leading to an eventual climax which actually occurs halfway through the overall timeline chronologically. This is indeed very strange, and I am still, despite 24 hours since I watched it, not quite sure what I feel about it. It was extremely clever but I am not sure if it quite had the same effect on me as it has had on many others. I will say though, that this unique feature is definitely one of the reasons that you should watch this film.

The acting was decent too, Guy Pearce did a good job as the main character and all the supporting actors and actresses definitely played their part well to contributing to the overall feel of this film. I was convinced of their acting ability and they thoroughly sustained their character’s role and emotions throughout the duration of the film. I can’t slate it too much apart from the fact that some of the lesser characters were not so consistent, but I cannot blame the actors for something that may be down to the script.

To conclude, I very much enjoyed watching this film yesterday evening. It had a great story, good characters and was visually impressive – the twist at the end was the icing on the cake for this film and I do recommend watching it if you get the chance.

 

Hope you Enjoyed.

A Quick Update

Howdy Y’all

This is just a brief update designed to inform you of my plan for the site and some changes that’ll be happening soon.

Firstly, starting today, I will be attempting to churn out daily film reviews under a new rating system, which shall be made clear in the first review. This is because I really want to get the site going again and I believe my film reviews are the thing you guys like best.

Secondly, I have exciting news. I will be moving all gaming-related posts over to http://startselect.net   They’ve been my sponsors for the last 2 years and I will be writing gaming-based content for them on their site, so keep your eyes peeled!

 

Many Thanks.

The Palace – a Short Story Inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

The Palace

-A Short Story Inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby-

 

It was just my first night in New York and already I had made a fair few acquaintances who lived there. We spent the day in the city, indulging ourselves in liquor and only the finest foods that ‘Le Pachoise Rouge’ had to offer. Incidentally, I later discovered that the French word ‘Pachoise’ is not in fact French at all, so it was a wonder to me how they managed to keep the restaurant’s name so incorrect. When I asked one of my new ‘friends’, Mr Trevor Westwood, he simply stated, “My friend, we all know, but in New York, nobody cares!”, and with that, I knew just the kind of town this place was.

 

After a heavy day of gallivanting around the various roads and plazas of the town, I was just about to head off home when one of the women, whose name escapes me, spoke up: “That rather extravagant fella’, oh what’s his name… Gatsby, that’s the one, anyway, he’s having anotha’ party tonight, maybe we should go and spend the evening there?”. Before I even got the chance to state that fatigue had overwhelmed me, the coupé we were in had sped off again.

 

It was not before long that we arrived at Gatsby’s palace: two large, golden gates stood between us and a plethora of different people. The gates were open and already the party inside was alive and thriving, people were dancing, prancing, drinking and, although it was only half past eight, sticking their tongues in each-others throats. There was a large pool with what seemed to be a bandstand of sorts in the centre, that night’s live performance was from a band which called themselves, ‘The Roaring Twenties’. They played some smooth jazz and the lead singer was a pretty woman of around 25, she wore a colourful hat and a long, cream dress.

 

Around the pool, there were more people, many of them had ‘that look‘, the look of someone who made more than triple the average wage and nearly all of them had a glass or beverage in their hand. There were multiple bars dotted around the pool and around the outside of the manor and I presumed that there were probably more inside the house itself.

 

The house was majestic, much wider than any I had seen in my life and certainly a lot taller than many others on this stretch of Long Island. There were many windows, presumably one for each room, possible more. Some were lit, some were not but I guessed that they cannot have been occupied as it seemed the life of the party was outside. My party and I sat down at a table on the upper terrace, the table itself wasn’t overwhelming, it was littered with candles and drinks and tissues and drinks, not the most pleasing sight. We were sat there, talking about this and that, for the best part of an hour before I offered to dance with one of the women we were sitting with, she was roughly the same age as me, about 28 but had a young face. She had long blonde hair and a smile that could cheer up even the darkest of days.

 

We danced for about 20 minutes, the music had an addictive, pulsating vibe to it and I am afraid I got rather caught up in it all. Before I knew it, I had had a bit too much to drink and I cannot remember much more from that evening. All I can remember though is the man who said Goodnight to me at the end of the evening. Jay Gatsby.

 ~fin~

 

So this marks my return to writing properly, I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported me and kept reading over the last few months. I’d like to give a big shout out to the WeHateMovies Podcast (You can find them here), they’re utterly hilarious and worth a listen if you enjoy my film reviews.

 

Anyway, hope you enjoyed

 

~S

I’m Back Baby

So I now have a brand new SSD which means, unfortunately for y’all, that I will be writing again.

 

A lot has happened since I last wrote, especially the guys at WHM Podcast talking to me about mentioning them, so be sure to give them a look @ https://www.whmpodcast.com     

 I managed to salvage work on End of Dayz, which is good news, meaning I can start writing that again.

Hopefully I have a few big writing projects on the horizon, which should become a reality.

Only other thing: I’m on the lookout for iOS Developers and decent marketers, so if you’re interested, e-mail me @ volvicgaming@yahoo.co.uk

 

Thanks Guys

~S

Interview with Richard Boeser of Sparpweed – The Creators of Ibb and Obb

Firstly, a big thanks to Richard for taking time out of his schedule to answer these questions for me a few weeks ago. So, without further ado, let’s get stuck in!

To those who don’t know, what is Ibb and Obb?

ibb & obb is a two player cooperative platform puzzle game. The whole game is designed around the interaction between the two players and the double gravity world they’re in.
Everything in the game requires the two players to work closely together. Taking out enemies, solving puzzles, finding secret diamonds, it all can’t be done on your own.

Why did you decide to make Ibb and Obb? What was it that made it special from other ideas?

The first concept for ibb & obb was created during my graduation project. I had many different ideas, but this one stuck out. Mostly because the double gravity world is an original mechanic that is easy to understand, but can still lead to very complex situations.
Also it seemed to fit perfectly with the idea of two players working together which is a setup that is a lot of fun and to me it feels that hasn’t been explored enough.
Immediately from the first idea it felt like the core concept would be interesting enough to build a full game on.

What made you choose PS3 and PC as platforms for the game?

You can play ibb & obb online, but we feel that the most fun way to play is together on a comfy couch. That setup allows you to easily discuss your strategies and, maybe more important, you can high five your friend. The typical tv-couch setup is most found with consoles. So we were primarily looking for a console to develop for. PlayStation3 had our preference because we felt ibb & obb’s atmosphere fits the PlayStation brand. Sony was also the first console producer that showed real interest in the game and they’ve guided us well throughout the whole process.

The PC release is technically quite easy for us and it is a good market nowadays. The typical PC setup might suit ibb & obb less, but it will be great to be able to offer the game to such a big audience.

What’s the story behind Sparpweed?

Sparpweed is a two man studio, consisting of Roland IJzermans and me, Richard Boeser.
We met while we were studying industrial design. We discovered a shared interest in game design and both steered our graduation projects towards game related topics.

Roland graduated first and later acted as a mentor on my ibb & obb project. A while later when ibb & obb had started to get some attention we decided to team up and founded Sparpweed with the goal to transform the ibb & obb prototype into a full game. Sparpweed is still just the two of us. For ibb & obb we teamed up with different other parties, like Codeglue, Kettel, Tomasz Kaye and different guest artists.

What do the words ‘Ibb’ and ‘Obb’ mean?

ibb & obb are two characters from a book called The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde. In the book the characters start of as generics. They have no distinct personality, gender, or any feature that sets them apart from the rest. Also their names have no capitals. Through the course of the book they develop their characters.

For us it was important that the names of the characters could not be linked to a certain language or gender. It’s up to the players themselves to decide what ibb and obb are.

After Ibb and Obb, what can we expect from Sparpweed?

For now we’ll be busy working towards the PC release of ibb & obb. We’ll spend some time on Chalo Chalo too, a 4 player tactical racing game. There are other prototypes that we might continue on, expect some smaller projects first.

Finally, What tips do you have for any aspiring game developers out there?

Build prototypes and keep iterating on your ideas. Start with the gameplay and let other people play even when the prototype still looks crappy. If they like it then, they’ll love it when it gets its looks. Start with simple ideas, even a simple game takes a lot of work to finish.

Well that’s it folks! Hope you learnt lots! You can check out Ibb and Obb at http://ibbandobb.com

Thanks for reading!

~Sam

A Quick Apology

Hello Beautiful People,
Yes, even you. I am writing today to apologise for… Not writing recently. Unfortunately my laptop hard drive is having problems and I cannot access my laptop – I also have a lack of money right now. Therefore, my only method of writing is via iOS… Which is not fun.

Anyway, this is just a note to say I’ll be absent until I win the lottery… Or Christmas comes.

Sorry,
Sam

Kick-Ass 2 (2013) Film Review

It has been a while since the original Kick-Ass film, which I enjoyed, and I was thoroughly looking forward to the sequel. I made a trip to the cinema and was not disappointed – despite the fact that the film was not as comical as the first film. Anyway, here’s today’s review!

The acting in this film was average – nothing amazing but it wasn’t poor. Chloe Moretz and Aaron Johnson did well – as did Jim Carrey and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. I can’t slate the acting too much except for the fact that it was just generic ‘comedy’ film acting. Acting Rating – 7/10.

The story in this film was pretty good – it had some interesting parts and throughout the film I was kept excited and interested – instead of distant and tired. The story was fairly reminiscent of the first film but had some interesting concepts added to the base design. Story Rating – 8/10.

The cinematography in this film was nothing special either – there was no shaky cam, which is always a benefit, but there were no outstanding shots either. There were a few slow-motion camera shots that were interesting to watch but apart from that, it was fairly basic. Cinematography Rating – 7/10.

I really enjoyed the music in this film – from a collection of original scores which acted as backing music, to a whole separate album of actual songs – including Korobeinki – The Tetris Theme – which I picked up on almost instantly and poked the person next to me in the cinema until they heard me whisper “WHY ARE THEY PLAYING THE TETRIS THEME?” Music Rating – 9/10.

This film was fairly creative – as are the comics – this was something which was fairly exciting and was something different to every other superhero film that is out there at the moment – but it was maybe riding off the first film’s back a bit too much. Creativity Rating – 8/10.

The special effects in this film were mainly blood and gore – and the odd explosion or two. I can hardly complain about this but there was not much variety in what the special effects were used for. My only complaint was a bit of shoddy green-screening towards the latter moments of the film. Special Effects Rating – 8/10.

For a comedy film – I did not laugh anywhere near as much as I did during the first film – this film was much more serious and dealt with many more serious matters than the first film did. For that reason – I have graded this quite low on the basis that it was supposed to be a comedy film, not a drama. Comedy Rating – 6/10.

To conclude, this film was similar to the first film but in some ways, very different. It was this mixture that made me uncertain of whether or not I liked the film. Anyway, I’m going to rate this film Three and a Half Stars.

 

P.S. You can donate to me here – there are awesome perks for donating, so check it out HERE

Top Ten Video-Game Soundtracks

Feeling Musical? No? Well, now you will be – today I’m going to be running through my top ten video-game soundtrack pieces, in order! Some you will expect, some not so much – but you’ll definitely recognize most of, if not all of these entries, without further ado – let’s begin!

Number 10: Uncharted – Nate’s Theme

This combination of strong drum beats and an epic melody help sum up the Uncharted game series in one tune – definitely a contender for a higher up position but I felt that there were some more worthy candidates for the top spots.

Number 9: Skyrim – Dragonborn (Main Theme)

This epic battle-inspiring piece is certain to lead you, the Dragonborn, into glory and defeat the evil dragon Alduin. The nordic chanting and climaxing-melody provides the perfect accompaniment to this brilliant game!

Number 8: Modern Combat Domination – Main Theme

Perhaps the one you didn’t see coming, very Hans Zimmer-eque in style and sounds like it should be straight out of a Call of Duty game – this piece is superb, just a shame it isn’t available to purchase on iTunes.

Number 7: Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty Theme

MGS has always been good for it’s music, but I made sure that I only chose one piece per game franchise for this top ten – so I chose the Sons of Liberty Theme – give it a listen and unlike number 8, this is available to buy on iTunes! Yaay!

Number 6: Halo 3 – One Final Effort

Many of you would recommend other pieces from the Halo franchise but One Final Effort is my personal favourite – a combination of upbeat piano and epic battle theme – One Final Effort is not to be missed!

Number 5: Street Fighter 2: Guile Theme

Did you really think I’d miss this out? It goes with everything for god’s sake! This retro SNES tune is sure to provide a fitting soundtrack to anything you do on a daily basis – from making coffee to dealing drugs, wait, scrap that last part.

Number 4: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Gerudo Valley Theme

When I remembered I could only pick one theme from the LoZ series, I knew I was in for a tough decision – I expected that the triumphant piece would come from Ocarina of Time… and here it is! The Gerudo Valley Theme – this fast paced tune has a nice clapping beat in the background with a lovely melody also.

Number 3: Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Icarus: Main Theme

It would’ve been so easy to rate this in second or even first but alas, it only managed third on my Top Ten. Icarus is the perfect epic theme to match Deus Ex – with melody which could inspire anyone to save Malik – Icarus deserves it’s place on my Top Ten.

Number 2: Tetris – Korobeiniki

Did you really think I’d miss out this? Out of all the music I had to choose from – I could not forget Korobeiniki, the Tetris Theme – the perfect fit to placing falling blocks. Get it? Perfect FIT? Hahaha – I’ll leave now.

Number 1: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: Main Theme

Before I get called a ‘n00b’, ‘cod fanboy’ or whatever, I would like to say this: I’m not the biggest Call of Duty fan, I’ve played a few of the games, but only for the Campaign mode – I put this at number one – for two reasons. Hans Zimmer and How awesome the piece is. If this track doesn’t make you want to save your country – I don’t know what will!

 

Thanks For Reading/Listening and I hoped you enjoyed it! Remember, if you want to help me out – check out my GoFundMe Page – It means a lot – http://www.gofundme.com/3wjmbw

 

[SPOILER FREE] Ten Reasons Why The Last Of Us is One of the Best Games Ever Made

Hello Everyone! Today I’m switching things up from the norm and giving you a special post. I’ve recently been playing a game called ‘The Last of Us’ – a brand new, Zombie-survival-adventure game made exclusively for the PS3. Upon reading about all the hype surrounding this game, I bought it and instantly fell in love. In-fact, this is up there as one of my favourite games of all time. So, here’s 10 reasons why it is so brilliant.

1: Naughty Dog

Naughty Dog are known as the company responsible for some of the most popular games franchises ever – Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter and Uncharted. The two game directors for The Last Of Us: Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann both had major involvement with Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3 – two ground-breaking PS3 exclusives that also impressed me. Naughty Dog truly raised the bar with this masterpiece and I hope they don’t stop there.

2: Gustavo Santaolalla

This is the man responsible for the soundtrack of The Last of Us. The two-time academy award winner for best music created a unique blend of adventure and action into this score, which perfectly matched everything the game was about whilst being something that you can quite easily listen to outside of the game. The acoustics particularly impressed me, reminding me of the score to the BBC Show ‘Sherlock’

3: The Feels

This game had a clever knack of making anyone burst out into tears and bawl like a baby in the most random places – it catches you by surprise and hits you hard, right in ‘the feels’. I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t played the game but trust me, you’re in for one emotional rollercoaster when you do play it – all credit goes to Naughty Dog for producing a game which can, truly, make grown men cry.

4: Realism

Naughty Dog made sure that this game felt realistic to the player – almost all of the locations in the game were exactly the same as their real-life counterparts. Even ‘Lincoln High-School’, which you visit in-game is designed similarly to the real ‘Lincoln High-School’. Even the ‘Cordyceps‘, the fungus which infected and wiped out a majority of the world, are real. Cordyceps are fungus which take over the body of the host and control their every move, when the creature, typically an insect’ dies, the cordyceps sprout out, looking for a new host. It’s things like this, which make the game so realistic.

5: Joel and Ellie

Joel and Ellie are the main characters of The Last Of Us. Joel is an experienced man who is the main playable character for most of the game and Ellie is a Fourteen-Year-Old girl who Joel is tasked with the transport of to the ‘revolutionary group’ called ‘The Fireflies’. The characters are motion captured and voiced so perfectly, you can feel the emotion from the models, not to mention the fact that both characters are incredibly likable, which is always a plus.

6: Exploration

Don’t you hate it when you play a game and the only buildings you can explore are the ones which are key to the game progressing? Well, The Last Of Us has it’s limitations but a majority of buildings can be searched, explored and looted. This just adds to the immersion of the game-play whilst not delaying the entire story from progressing. There’s the perfect amount of accessible buildings which means you don’t spend your entire time looting buildings but still get that exploration element that so many games lack nowadays.

7: The Ending

So many games these days have linear, blunt and obvious endings which don’t leave the player interested once the game is over. However, the ending to the Last of Us is open and has many different interpretations. There is not much I can say without breaking the Spoiler Free element of this post but let me just say this, the ending will leave you hanging and desperate for more.

8: The Controls

I have never seen a control layout like this before and I must say, I like it a lot. It’s completely different to your average third-person action game and has a lot of nifty functions that are not available in many games. I dislike games with glitchy controls but The Last Of Us was brilliant – the fluid movement of the characters and unique combat controls made the game so much better.

9: Design and Graphics

The graphics in this game were absolutely phenomenal – it was almost movie-like how detailed and realistic the graphics were. Nearly all of the locations looked so aesthetically beautiful that I just had to stop playing for a while and admire the landscapes. This may sound ridiculous but I was truly amazed by the level of detail and design that this game had. Definitely one to look out for, for all you design-buffs.

10: The Main Menu

This is perhaps the most bizarre entry on this list but I have my reasoning. You can quite often tell the quality of the game by it’s main menu. The menu looked beautiful and just made me more excited about this game. I spent about two hours just listening to and watching the main menu. The ambiance in the background, the visual detail and quality, absolutely outstanding.

To Conclude, this is probably one of the best games you will ever play and I will certainly re-play this game a hundred times over.

If you liked this, I appreciate it if you share it with your friends and family – if you enjoyed gaming-based content, feel free to tell me and I’d be happy to produce more! My Twitter is @Cynical5urvivor – Ask me any questions you have!

 

-Peace-