Looking within…


Well this past week or so I have been playing The Evil Within.  This is Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami’s latest foray into the world of survival horror and marks a return to form for the genre following the poorly received Resident Evil 6 and the cut & paste Silent Hill reboots.  I am enjoying it a great deal and it really feels suitably freaky and gruesome.  Mikami is a master at videogame design and pacing and this has it in spades.

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Atmosphere is superb and the story, for what it is … is fairly vague and trippy (the game jumps from one hallucination to the next and levels don’t follow a linear path as far as narrative is concerned).  There is a hub level where you save your game but this is also weird … a hospital or mental asylum where only a single (sort of attractive) nurse keeps you company and you go back and forth from the various levels by looking into a mirror.  You can also upgrade your abilities and weapons here by sitting in a chair that locks you in securely and clamps some sort of thing on your head … very Saw.  This game borrows heavily from various sources but has influences from Saw, Japanese horrors like The Ring and The Grudge and even The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  It’s like a greatest hits of horror – and I am loving it.

Take a look at this gameplay demo for a good idea of this game’s tone:

The game is fairly lengthy also and I am in chapter 7 so far and know there are at least 11 chapters in total along with a new-game plus mode which I’m guessing lets you replay chapters with all your upgrades intact.  The game keeps to the Resident Evil formula with you having very limited ammo, getting weak from running, you can die very easily and you need to scavenge for supplies by opening boxes or breaking crates.  There are also a few basic puzzles to keep you occupied.  The main draw here though seems to be the boss battles, something Mikami is especially good at, and so far I’ve faced such creations as a chainsaw wielding psychopath, a freaky spider-lady and a rabid mutant dog … shudder, all brilliantly staged with plenty of clever foreshadowing (you get to creep past the dog’s massive cage in one sequence as it sleeps, leading up to a very tough encounter with the angry mutt).

If you’re after a game that’s a real throwback to the heyday of survival horror but with the big-budget stylings of Hostel or Saw … this has it.  It’s not easy, will challenge you but if you enjoy this style of game you’ll love every second.

Edge of Tomorrow


Viewed – 21 October 2014  Blu-ray

There’s something about Tom Cruise’s latest foray into blockbuster territory that feels like it’s late to the party.  Mech-suits – didn’t Avatar or Elysium do this already?  And don’t get me started on the Groundhog Day plot.  But I digress.  This has Cruise as a Major in the army who reports on the war against an alien race that has invaded earth.  On a routine visit to report on the latest onslaught, he suddenly gets shoehorned into battle against his will.  Only thing is once on the battlefield and seriously outnumbered by the enemy, Cruise (or Cage as his character is named) discovers that getting killed is only the start of the longest day of his life.  Along the way he meets up with war hero Emily Blunt who may just know why he’s repeating his day over and over again.

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Cruise is decent in not a particularly demanding role…he gets to shoot aliens a lot and look sort of awkward in his mechanised suit, but surrounded by a group of clichéd ‘grunts’ he stands out (despite an entertaining Bill Paxton).  Better is Blunt, one of the more interesting and has to be said bad-ass of the current female acting crop and her presence means this movie had echoes of Looper what with it’s time-paradox storyline.  It’s not as clever as that movie though and lacks any real depth to the characters or especially the aliens who just look like throwbacks to The Matrix’s sentinels.  More interesting is the repeating day plot-device which director Doug Liman plays with wonderfully and at times the getting-it-wrong moments are quite funny (Cruise daringly rolls under a passing tuck … with a resulting splat). 

I would have liked more of a love story-angle to Cruise & Blunt’s partnership (it’s certainly hinted at) and maybe some more detail on the aliens … and just why the day is repeating all the time left me saying … er, what was that again?   However, the movie makes up for such shortcomings with several superb action sequences (the beach stuff is like a futuristic Saving Private Ryan) and on a decent set up, with a big screen and surround sound…this packed a punch.  Just a shame it’s fairly basic characterisation and copy-cat ideas prevent it from being a classic.

Verdict:  3.5 / 5

Twin Peaks to return!!


Twin Peaks

I can hardly believe it but a show I have always been fond of from quite a long time ago is the cult favourite Twin Peaks.  Well imagine my glee when reading recently that show creators David Lynch & Mark Frost had decided to bring back this show after 25 years.  Wow.  Sort of as a result of a growing online petition on Facebook and probably due to the fact David Lynch hasn’t done anything that notable since 2006’s INLAND EMPIRE … this is now going to be a reality.

Here’s a little teaser from Showtime who will be making the project for an initial eight episode run in 2016.  I can hardly wait!  Fantastic News.

A small update


Posts are a bit slow at the moment.  Life gets in the way and all that shizzle.  I have had a bit of personal stuff going on that has proved rather stressful and combined with work being particularly busy too, this blog hasn’t been top of my priorities.  That’s not to say I wont be posting plenty in the coming weeks, with some gaming on the agenda to get my hands on such as Sunset Overdrive and possibly The Evil Within.  Also I need to get around to that Studio Ghibli movie The Wind Rises at some stage.

Other than that I am watching some TV.  Just started Gotham which has reached the UK shores a bit later than my American neighbours, and first impressions?  Cool but felt very ‘nineties’ in style.  I intend to stick with it though.  I am also watching Orange Is The New Black, currently going through season 2 and loving it.  Other than that I am on the final season of Boardwalk Empire, a show I think has begun to lose it’s way somewhat and I’m not surprised this is the final season.

Well that’s all from me for now.

Craig.

The Green Mile


Viewed – 10 October 2014  Blu-ray

15th Anniversary Edition

I really have no clue as to why it has taken me so long to see this highly acclaimed movie.  Following in the wake of Frank Darabont’s industry defining Stephen King adaptation The Shawshank Redemption, the same director tackles another King story.  Originally published in a series of small novellas, The Green Mile was a sort of experiment and follows the story of an elderly man in a care home who recants his time as a prison officer in charge of the inmates on death row; specifically his time in the company of convicted double murderer John Coffey.  Tom Hanks plays prison warden Paul Edgecomb and is perfect casting in my opinion, as is the late Michael Clarke Duncan as the imposing but gentle-giant Coffey.

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This well shot and atmospheric movie gathers together several solid performances and a powerful, magical tale that certainly left it’s mark on me.  The fate of John Coffey, the mystery surrounding two dead girls and an unexplainable ‘gift’ kept me mesmerised.  Hanks is as complex and believable as always and in the closing moments truly excellent (seriously, I cant watch Hanks cry … I just can’t).  It’s one of the most emotional films I have seen in a long while and yes, brought a tear to my eye.  It also gets fairly disturbing in places, mainly surround the cruel character of Percy (you may recall him from his stint as ‘toobs’ in The X-Files …).  But don’t let that put you off as this is one of those stories that is tragic but also life-affirming and made with real passion for it’s source material.  Essential viewing.

The Blu-ray is mostly impressive.  The movie itself is in fairly good condition but for a slightly smudgy colour pallet (this may be intentional) and detail overall is good, with only occasional softness creeping in on distant and wide shots.  Close-up detail is often excellent.  Sound is in Dolby Digital 5.1 and is pretty decent if a little lacking in the surrounds.  Yet the big plus here is the extras consisting of a feature-length documentary named ‘walking the green mile’ as well as a commentary by the director, several deleted scenes and a trailer.  Not too shabby for a modern classic.  Packaging could have been better though.

Verdict:

(the movie)  5 /5

(the Blu-ray)  4 /5