What’s up with: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

Too often had I read Internet forum-posters declaring they’re going back to play The Witcher 2 (TW2) after trying out a new role-playing game (RPG). This is often accompanied with proclamations of how said RPG is shallow with high praises for the complexity of TW2’s combat and story.

I bought TW2 during the Steam summer sale last year and there it sat in my backlog as its retail price continued to drop. I finally gave it a whirl after the game was updated to version 2.0, making it both more accessible and difficult in the same stroke.

It took me a while to get the game set up so it won’t cause my laptop to explode and an even longer while before I could actually feel myself getting into the game (much, much longer in fact). When I finally finished the game (one of the paths anyway),  I came away with the feeling of how some gamers seem to be confusing a hardcore RPG with a complex story to be one which is inaccessible that is utterly confusing, the understanding for the laud bestowed upon TW2 and its failure to reach above 90 for its Metacritic rating despite all the support and hype that surrounds it.

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The Espionage RPG

When Alpha Protocol (2010) was announced, I was totally psyched. Following the success of Mass Effect 2, another shooter-RPG, I had great expectations of this “Espionage RPG” from the makers of Knight of the Old Republic II and Neverwinter Nights 2. Alas, Obsidian Entertainment’s first foray into original IP territory left many disappointed.

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What’s Up, District 9?

We went to catch both Up and District 9 some time ago. I loved both movies and despite the difference in tone, I believe they have some similarity, aside from the obvious fact that both use CG. More than that later.

Up

[Official Up] [Up @ RT] [Up @ IMDB]

up

I think most people catch the gist of what Up is about from the colourful trailers. What they didn’t reveal was the back-story of Carl, who has probably become everyone’s favourite grumpy old man.

Like:

Story. Some animated features focus too much of the graphics. In Up, the CG is merely a tool to bring out the main star, the story.

Partly Cloud. Up was preceded by a short film in typical Pixar style. Make sure your theatre screens it!

Don’t like:

Squirrels. Everyone hates squirrels.

Trivia:

Russell is Pixar’s first Japanese/Asian-American character voiced by an Asian-American actor, Jordan Nagai.

The villain Charles Muntz is named after Charles Mintz, the Universal Pictures executive who in 1928 stole Walt Disney’s production rights to his highly-successful “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit” cartoon series. This led Walt Disney to create Mickey Mouse, who soon eclipsed Oswald in popularity.

District 9

[Official District 9] [District 9 @ RT] [District 9 @ IMDB]

district 9

There’s very little known about the film even through the trailers except that an alien craft stopped above Johannesburg, there’s gonna be aliens and explosions. So I shan’t spoil it too much for whoever hasn’t watched it. Note that the movie is rated M18 though, even though it seems the one airing here has been cut, so expect your fair share of gore and language.

Like:

Fresh format. As seen in the trailers, District 9 starts off like a documentary or news broadcast. It’s probably scare more people if aired on TV then War of the Worlds back then.

Right amount of CG. I read this comment on a forum thread and have to agree with it. My lecturer said “The best CG is when you can’t tell it’s CG,” and this stands true in District 9. All the aliens in the movie are pure CG and their interaction with the surrounding looks really believable. No offence to Cameron’s fans but in comparison, Avatar’s trailer looks like a CG tech demo.

Dislike:

Gibs. There are excessive scenes with gore! Who am I kidding? I like the gore.

Trivia:

Star Sharlto Copley had not acted before and had no intention of pursuing an acting career. He stumbled into the leading role as Neill Blomkamp placed him on-camera during the short film.

All the shacks in District 9 were actual shacks that exists in a section of Johannesburg which were to be evacuated and the residents moved to better government housing, paralleling the events in the film. Also paralleling, the residents had not actually been moved out before filming began. The only shack that was created solely for filming was Christopher Johnson’s shack.

Sharlto Copley ad-libbed all his lines.

So what’s the similarity in both movies that I mentioned? It’s the same thing that I find lacking in recent media and that is character development. In both movies, we follow the protagonist and watch how they evolve through the movie. Through their encounters and changes, we start to believe in them. I think it beats being introduced to a hero who just blazes through the entire movie and leave feeling empty after 90 minutes in the theatre.

Movies to look out for:

  1. Coraline
  2. 9

G.I Joe

We watched G.I Joe 2 days ago. Man, was it awesome! Nice story, nice graphic effects and cool fighting moves! I’ll pay to watch it again! Go catch it during the long weekends! :) Here’s a trailer to enjoy while you’re here.


Subby hijack!

What I like:

Visual effects. KaPow! The effects for Rise of Cobra were pretty neat. We watched it on digital so it should look better. The only part which looks a little odd to me was the glossy look on the planes used by the Joes. Then again it’s probably to depict their stealth capabilities.

Ninja. Who doesn’t like ninjas?

Two ninjas. Because two is better than one.

Marlon Wayans as Ripcord. I found him funny. Good to know he can still be funny while he’s doing an action feature and not just movie parodies.

Tight leather costumes. I’m a hot blooded male after all.

Pacing. This is how a summer action film should be. BAM BAM BAM. Quick flashback. Back to more gunfights. No time wasted sidetracking to some pointless subplot.

Sequel. I guess I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t watched it but they pretty much set it up nicely for a potential sequel, which will probably be made if Rise of Cobra do well enough.

Lack of slowmo to show the bouncing boobs of a talentless starlet. Hm, some people might put this point as one of the reasons they dislike Rise of Cobra. Whatever floats your boat I guess.

What I don’t like:

Old-fashioned reviewers. A lot of reviewers gave Rise of Cobra bad ratings simply because it’s different from what GI Joe originally was. You claim to be loyal to the brand but honestly, if you like the old stuff so much just watch the old stuff? Don’t cry about how they are destroying your childhood. Boohoo.

Reviewers who review Transformers II the same way. An action flick is an action flick. Do not expect it to be more than an action flick. You don’t expect a disaster film to make you laugh do you? Why do you expect an action flick to teach you the meaning of life?

In all seriousness, I truly believe Rise of Cobra is one of the better summer flicks. Amidst the bad global economy and budget cuts, we should be glad we are treated to such a cinematic spectacle. (There might not be a film adaptation of Subtle Knife :cry: )

The reports of Transformers 2’s suckiness may have been greatly exaggerated

Bumblebee versus Some Decepticon

Bumblebee versus Some Decepticon

It has giant robots, weapons, explosions and women. Surely most people would be satisfied with this. Somehow Revenge of the Fallen has only obtained 22% freshness at Rotten Tomatoes. If anyone goes into the theatre expecting a thought-provoking plot, witty lines, deep characters and artistic cinematography, then I’d say they’re watching the wrong genre of movies. All the reviews (even the one which said the movie was bad) agreed that the special effects were awesome, so just kick back and enjoy things blowing apart and robots beating each other down.

Not that my opinion means anything but I’d give the movie:

7 / 10 Sand-sucking Gorilla-Constructicon

Sand-sucking Gorilla-Constructibot

PS: One thing I don’t understand though, won’t it make more sense to slow-mo the robots fighting instead of Megan Fox running? Sarcasm from me? Maybe.

Review on “The leap years”

We caught “the leap years” yesterday. I was thrilled about it since it’s Singapore’s first english romantic movie and the trailer looked good.

It was a good first attempt at penetrating the english movie industry. The storyline was good (kudos to Dr Catherine Lim) and the quotes from the movie and musings of Li-Ann still resounds in my head. Yeah, I want to buy the book.

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