Tomb Raider


Viewed – 18 July 2018  Online rental

I’d say it’s more than reasonable to approach videogame adaptations with a degree of trepidation, as many an attempt in the past has resulting in underwhelming or terrible interpretations of a much loved past-time.  This latest offering, a sort of reboot after the Angelina Jolie movies … stars Ex-Machina’s Alicia Vikander as the plucky adventurer.  Following the disappearance of her father Richard Croft, Lara Croft is leaned on by her father’s company to sign papers regarding the family business and her inheritance.  However this leads Lara to launch her own trip to an uncharted island in a hope of solving the mystery of what her father was up to.

Tomb Raider

The story borrows to an extent from the first game in the recently rebooted franchise which gave us a refreshingly mature take on a character who in the past had become more famous for her polygon tits & ass than the games she was starring in.  Despite the source material however, this movie chooses to take it’s own path, leaving behind much of the personality and depth of story-telling in favour of a rather brainless Indiana Jones rip-off.  Sigh.

Vikander, so nuanced in the aforementioned Ex-Machina and potentially a rising star in the making is only passable as Lara despite those ripped abs and overall likeability.  The movie fails to do anything with her character that we haven’t seen before (rich girl hiding her richness?).  Add to this a terrible villain (Walton Goggins) who seems to do every movie villain stupid thing in the book (like choosing never to actually kill Lara or her Chinese deposable friend (Daniel Wu) even when they’re of no more use to him).  Also with an ending that is all sequel-bate with little to no justification for shady organization ‘Trinity’ being on the island …  I came away disappointed that still, Hollywood failed to deliver the care, respect or talent when it came  to a videogame adaptation.

Avoid – unless you’re a total Tomb Raider obsessive … and even then you deserve better.

Verdict:  2 /5

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All next-gen’d out


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I say all, that is if you don’t count the Wii-U.  The other day I finally picked up a PlayStation 4.  Yes I got a PS4 to go with my Xbox One.  All kitted out for this apparent ‘next-gen’ of gaming platforms, and yes feel pretty good about it.  I hesitated for a long time over the PS4, not because I didn’t think it was a good console.  It’s very much a good console, but at the time I chose the XB1, it was the games, primarily the exclusives and well, familiarity and comfort with the brand that made my decision.  A year on, and well, it’s nice to have something new, isn’t it?

I was very much sold by the new ‘glacier white’ edition Sony had released in wake of Destiny, and thought it was a good a time as any to buy.  The games I feel are still not quite there for me, with exclusives like Uncharted 4 and The Order 1886 still scheduled for next year, and it lacks that killer-app compared to XB1 (Sunset Overdrive, to some extent also Halo: The Master Chief Collection) but I did pick the console up with Drive Club.  I also traded some games to get my hands on Assassin’s Creed Unity, one of the best looking multi-platform titles currently available, and that alone shows off my purchase pretty well.

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– direct capture using the ‘share button’ –

What do I think of the machine as far as how it works?  Slick and familiar are the words that come to mind.  The operating system isn’t as colourful or flashy as XB1, and goes for a somewhat clean and smooth version of PS3’s cross media bar which was never that appealing.  Sony haven’t tried anything radically new here but it functions well enough.  I haven’t got to grips with the ‘share’ button or the Share Factory feature, which is PS4’s version of XB1’s Upload and Record That features, and at first glance they look more clunky (but got to love the screen shot capture feature).  I am also quite disappointed that PS4 does not support external HDD’s for improving the storage space (you can use an external HDD but it only allows back ups and the storage of media, not for playing your downloaded games off …unlike XB1), which could be an issue, and I for one would rather not open up my PS4 to install an internal HDD.  It is very fast at installing games off the Blu-ray though…big difference compared to XB1.

Only the future and playing more games will really prove this machine’s value in comparison to the XB1, and I’ve still yet to see the value in the touch-pad or speaker on the controller (which does feel very nice I might add).  Early days but I’ll report more as I find it.

Glacier White PS4

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.

theevilwithin

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.

Outlast creeps me out


Before any long-term readers start thinking this is turning into a gaming blog, I do actually intend to post some new movie reviews in the next week or so, rest assured.  But for now, on with the gaming!

outlast

I downloaded today after reading many good things and seeing some interesting looking gameplay footage, the game ‘Outlast’ which was released last week on Xbox One.  Formerly available for PS4 and PC, this is a very raw horror experience, where you play as a reporter who is investigating mysterious goings on at an insane asylum.  Typical horror subject matter, but originality isn’t why I was attracted – more the fact it’s meant to be damn scary, something I have only really experienced in a videogame once or twice before (the best being Silent Hill 2).  So just a few minutes of this, with your protagonists heavy breathing, doors that slam! and eerie corridors and NO WEAPONS but for a camcorder and night vision mode … I confess I was actually wondering if I’m too wimpy to carry on playing this way-to-effective videogame.

Only time will tell. 

Silent Hill Revelation


Viewed – 29 June 2013  online rental

I have always been a fan of the video games that this and the previous movie are based on, and having recently picked up Silent Hill Downpour on the XBOX 360, I was tempted to give this, rather poorly rated sequel a day in court.  Continuing on from the events in the first movie, Sean Bean and his daughter, Heather (Adelaide Clemens) spend their lives moving from town to town, with Bean attempting to keep one step ahead of the occupants and spirits of Silent Hill, who have taken an interest in Heather.  When Bean vanishes though Heather realizes its time to find the town her father has spoken so much about and which haunts her dreams in hope of stopping the nightmare.

Silent-Hill-Revelation

Closely based on the critically acclaimed third entry in the video game series, this brash, in-yer-face horror movie perfectly captures the mood and look of the games, and with a feisty heroine in the shape of Michelle Williams look-a-like Clemens and some great set design and make up effects, I found myself having a lot of fun.  For a video game adaption, this does the job well, but as a movie it lacks tension and build up with the director being more focused on throwing freaky monsters and OTT effects at the screen.  This isn’t helped by some very poor CGI, and a story that doesn’t really go anywhere interesting.  Supporting cast members Kit Harington and Carrie-Ann Moss are ok, and Sean Bean is acceptable despite a very dodgy American accent … but the fun here is spotting all the iconic imagery, including a great sexy / freaky nurses sequence.  And that theme is truly haunting.

But this isn’t a movie intent on scaring you and leaving you shaken, but more sending you on a gory, visually dynamic ride (hence the 3D, at least in cinemas) but if you’re a fan of the games, you’ll still get something from it.  Of the memory I have of the first movie, this can’t compare and lacks the skill of French director Christophe Ganz (Brotherhood of the Wolf).  Yet I’d still say see it for the games, maybe not so much for your love of horror.

Verdict: 2.5 /5