Monday, October 28, 2013

Captain Phillips movie review.

“Everything’s going to be okay” reassures Somali pirate leader Muse during Captain Phillips, the biopic thriller from director Paul Greengrass (United 93 and The Bourne Supremacy/Ultimatum) about Captain Richard Phillips, who captained the Maersk Alabama in April, 2009 when a group of four Somali pirates boarded the ship, and held Phillips hostage in a lifeboat for five days out in the Indian Ocean.

Given that many of us ultimately know the outcome of the situation, we know that, yes, everything is going to be okay. However, writing Captain Philips off for that reason would be unfair. An intense (if perhaps occasionally embellished, as I’ve read of real events) ride from start to finish, Paul Greengrass has crafted his best directed film with Captain Phillips, as well as one of 2013’s unquestionable best.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gravity movie review.

220 miles above the earth, without any oxygen or atmosphere, life in space is impossible. Thus, the stage is set for the latest film from director Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity. Best known for films such as Children of Men, and Y Tu Mama Tambien, Cuaron hasn’t been in the director’s chair for seven years. When this movie was announced, everyone got hyped. We followed all the big news on the project, waited impatiently when it went through development limbo, and for many, the wait was justified. Gravity is far and away one of the best received films of the year (arguably over the also raved 12 Years a Slave). It earned universal acclaim from the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals, has so far raked in almost 300 million dollars in box office revenue from strong word of mouth (including breaking the record as the strongest October opening in history), and has even earned praise from director James Cameron as the best space film ever made. This movie sure has a lot of standards to meet, and I’m satisfied to say it met all requirements. Gravity is not only a masterfully directed and acted piece of extraordinary cinema, it accomplished what no movie, not even any horror movie in at least the last ten years has been able to do… it genuinely terrified me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Prisoners movie review.

A recurring motif in Prisoners, the first English language film from director Denis Villeneuve, is the inner angels and demons struggle within people. Using religion as a prime theme, the film seeks to show what can drive a person over the edge, warping their morality in the process. People can bear crosses, quote scripture, and all that jazz, but under times of intense crises, it’s still entirely possible for them to become obsessive, violent, and reckless under extreme stress. This is the ultimate struggle represented in Prisoners, and that’s only part of what makes this movie so compelling. Haunting, and even blood curdling at times, Prisoners takes influence from the grisly mood of David Fincher’s filmography, and crafts a classic thriller in the process.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pacific Rim movie review.


Not since Hellboy 2: The Golden Army has Guillermo Del Toro stepped onto the scene as a director. In the years since his last directorial feature, credits for Del Toro have been reserved as a producer for various horror films and Dreamworks projects, as well as screenwriting credits like The Hobbit. Needless to say, everyone was excited for the Pan’s Labyrinth and Devil’s Backbone director to sit back into the director’s chair, and with Pacific Rim, his unabashedly giddy love letter to anime and Kaiju media, we finally got our wish. As light and breezy as it is huge and exhilarating, Pacific Rim is enough to make you feel like a kid at Christmas.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Beyond: Two Souls video game review.

I usually start my reviews off with a little history and backstory, but much like the library of French developer Quantic Dream’s several games, writing this review has made me ponder over many choices.

Quantic Dream (owned by frequent game director David Cage) has made games that blend cinematic storytelling and character development with gameplay to serve as further immersion, which includes the spectacular, Fincher-esque thriller game Heavy Rain. One thing that sets QD apart is how they take gaming’s choice-based structure to its fullest potential, giving the player choices meant to make them think hard before deciding. On top of that, they accomplish something that’s practically impossible; they make quicktime events NOT SUCK. As their second project for the PS3, they took a more supernatural turn with Beyond: Two Souls. They went for some inspired decisions, including casting actors Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe in major roles. Much like Heavy Rain, you might expect everyone to love this game, right?

Of course not! Not everyone has to like the same thing, but this game’s reception is especially mixed. Some people have issues with the story, some think the gameplay has hiccups, and there are many – including myself - who simply don’t like quicktime events. It’s not for everyone. However, in my opinion, it’s a more than worthy follow up to Heavy Rain. Beyond: Two Souls is an opus on its own level.