Category Archives: Movies

Out This Week

Welcome to another addition of Out This Week, the weekly feature that highlights the week’s biggest new releases in videogames and movies. So read on below to see what’s out, what’s hot and what’s not.

Videogames: 

The Last Of Us DLC – Abandoned Territories Map Pack (PS3) 

TLOU Map Pack

The first batch of DLC launched for The Last Of Us this week, but while it wasn’t the single-player component – which we want the most – we are getting four new maps to play on the great multiplayer mode for £7.99. Even though I’m not a big fan of season passes, I am tempted by The Last Of Us’. They haven’t released what the other two pieces of DLC are going to be included in the £16 DLC, though it’s bound to be another map pack and, hopefully, the single-player component. You also get a 90 minute making of video to sweeten the deal.

Sonic Lost World (3DS/Wii U) 

sonic lost world

There’s been a lot of Sonic games. A lot. At this point in time, there’s more bad Sonic games than there are good ones. Although I only played a short demo at this year’s Eurogamer Expo and I haven’t played the full game yet, I can say that Sonic: Lost World is no Mario Galaxy, unfortunately, that some fans may have been hoping for. It’s received very polarising reviews around the board, though, and it currently holds a 62 rating on Metacritic. So, not the worst rated Sonic game by any stretch of the animation, and maybe a good one to get the kids for Christmas. Speaking of games for kids…

 

Skylanders Swap Force (Wii/3DS/Wii U/360/PS3) 

skylanders swap force

I’ve never played a Skylanders game and I probably never will, because the games aren’t exactly targeted at twenty-year-old males, though If I was a little kid again then I know Skylanders Swap Force would’ve been the talk of the playground. The game looks colourful and fun enough, and it’s actually outshining Sonic with an 85 rating on Metacritic. Interestingly enough it’s been released on the Wii — is anyone still playing their Wii?

 

Movies: 

Captain Phillips  

Tom Hanks Captain Phillips

It seems like it’s been a while since I’ve seen Tom Hanks in a film, and I almost – almost – forgot how good of an actor he really is. Never have I seen an actor portray someone in a state of shock of so well. It’s a powerful film that’s made even more tense just knowing that it’s based on a true story. If you don’t know the true story of what happened to Captain Phillips, then you’ll probably be better off going into the film not knowing the outcome. The pirates in the film all deserve credit as well for bringing the story to life and commanding as much screen time as Hanks. One of this year’s best.

 

Escape Plan 

escape plan

Both Arnie and Stallone have been in their fair share of poor movies as of late (excluding Expendables, of course) but, believe it or not, Escape Plan is the first movie that sees these two action icons slug it out in a good old fashion prison fisty-cuffs. Why on earth 50 Cent is playing a computer expert in the film is beyond me, though, and those who have seen the film are reporting that he’s terrible in it. So listen up, singers/musicians: stop being terrible in movies. Yes, I’m talking to you, Rihanna. Rant over. If you do like your action meaty and your story cheesy, then Escape Plan is the one for you at the cinema this weekend.

 

That’s it for this week, guys, but be sure to check back next week to see what’s being released in the world of videogames and movies.

 

 

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Kick-Ass 2 – Review

If you’ve read Kick-Ass 2 the comic book, then you probably know it’s not up to the same high quality of the first. If you didn’t know, it’s mainly due to over-the-top, unnecessary violence. So suffice to say, Kick-Ass 2 doesn’t live up to the heights of the first. Thankfully though, writer Jeff Wadlow manages to include the story from the Hit-Girl miniseries into the film as well, which nicely sees fan favourite Chloë Grace Moretz get plenty of screen time.

chrs mintz plasse

Kick-Ass 2 is really a three-part tale; we see Mindy Macready dealing with the death of Big Daddy, as she hangs up the cape and cowl of Hit-Girl and tries to lead a normal life of a teenage girl. Kick-Ass/Dave Lizewski joins a team of superheroes known as Justice Forever. And we see the villain of the film Chris D’Amico/The Motherfucker seek revenge on Kick-Ass for killing his father, by forming a supervillian team of his own, the aptly named ‘Toxic Mega-Cunts’. Flipping between characters’ stories really keeps the flow of the film going and makes for a grand scale ending when their paths cross. It’s a nice fresh pace for the 103 minute running-time, filled with violence, laughter and melodrama.

 

 

Chloë Grace Moretz’s entrance as Hit-Girl in the original is one that will never be forgotten, though It’s not all violence for her this time, though, as we see get to see more of the teenage girl that is Mindy Macready and how she’s dealing with life after Big Daddy. She’s killed numerous thugs and gangsters in her life but she’s yet to come up against the nasty personas of a particular group of airhead girls at her school. It all culminates in one particular graphic vomiting scene that really feels unrealistic in contrast with the grounded reality of the film and actually feels dam right unnecessary. Although, yes, the film was on a fairly small-scale budget of $28 million, the vomit trick just felt cheap and tacky. Perhaps a little too much time is focused on Mindy and her ‘Mean Girls’ storyline, but she kicks absolute ass when she’s Hit-Girl. A particular standout from her is a fight scene that sees her going toe-to-toe with a worthy adversary.

kick ass and hit girl

Aaron Taylor-Johnson is likeable as ever as Kick-Ass, though my only real gripe is that he’s 24-years-old and looks a little too old on screen to be playing a teenager in high-school. (I don’t know how they’re going to get around this problem in Kick-Ass 3, but that’s one for the writers to figure out!) If you remember from the first film, Dave Lizewski tried so hard to get with his girlfriend Katie, but she’s awkwardly/messily brushed off towards the start of the film, and there’s not a mention of her thereafter. It does make sense in the brunt of things, as Dave finds a new love in a member of Justice Forever. His relationship status with her towards the end of the film isn’t really clarified however, and is a little annoying not to have clarity there.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse is even more demonic and psychotic in his role as the cowardly, spoilt teenager, as he ditches the Red-Mist gimmick and becomes the world’s first super-villain, The Motherfucker. While not a physical specimen in size, his highest paid member of his team, ‘The Mother Russia’ (Olga Kurkulina) more than makes up for that due to her sheer size, strength and domineering presence on screen.

There’s good performances from everyone throughout actually, but it’s Jim Carrey who’s at the top of his game as the born again Christian Colonel Stars and Stripes, who is almost like the second coming of Big Daddy. Although it’s somewhat of a minor role, he’s presence is felt in every scene as he’s funny, charming and domineering in the role. It’s a real shame that he hasn’t taken part in promoting the movie, because it could well be his best performance in years and it goes well against his typecast.

jim carrey

The film all builds up to an end battle between Justice Forever and Toxic Mega-Cunts, which is both an epic and fitting conclusion, to which Director Jeff Wadlow deserves praise for capturing all the madness that unfolds so well. So all in all, Kick-Ass 2 isn’t as memorable or as fun as the first, however it’s still an enjoyable film that can be loved by both comic fans and casual audiences.

Out This Week

Welcome to another addition of Out This Week, the weekly feature that highlights the week’s new releases in videogames, movies, television and comics in one handy place. So read on below to see what’s out, what’s hot and what’s not.

Videogame of the week – Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (Xbox 360)

Quite simply, you will have never played a game quite like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons before. Simultaneously you take control of two brothers, using the left stick and left analog stick for the older brother, and the right trigger and right analog stick for the younger brother. The control scheme feels very alien at first, and it can become very frustrating during particular points, though look past the controls and you have a beautiful world similar to Fable with a mesmerising story to boot. You can read my full review here – https://scottbarkergaming.wordpress.com/tag/brothers-a-tale-of-two-sons/ 

Brothers a tale of two sons

Also out this week:

Tales of Xillia (PS3) – One for the JRPG fanatics out there!

Movie of the Week – Alan partridge Alpha Papa

Alan Partridge, also known as Steve Coogan and Siegeface, makes his way to the big screen for the first time in Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, which sees him and several hostages held up in a siege at a local radio station after one former radio presenter goes a bit crazy after loosing his job. And that’s the whole premise, really; though in true Partridge fashion, there are plenty of laughs along the way. The simple concept isn’t quite strong enough to warrant the 90 minute running time, and sometimes the plot stretches a bit too thin. However, if you’re looking for a laugh this weekend, then get down to the cinemas for some good old British humour!

Alan Partridge Alpha Papa

Also out this Week:

Percey Jackson: Sea of Monsters – When i first saw the trailer for this film, I actually thought it was a parody of Twilight and The Hunger Games. Turns out it isn’t, but just looks terribly bad.

Grown Ups 2 – It took an absolute beating at the American box office and from critics, and it should come to no surprise to anyone who’s seen the awful trailers.

The Lone Ranger – Johnny Depp, much like Adam Sandler, is taking a bit of a beating from film critics at the moment, after a slur of poorly received and reviewed films. Probably one best suited for the kids I would presume.

TV Show of the Week – Breaking Bad 

Well this is it, folks. Breaking Bad’s coming to an end, starting on Sunday (Monday on Netflix in the UK) with part two of season 5 with its final 8 episodes. We all know what happened in the midseason premiere, don’t we? Spoiler: Hank sort of found out that Walter is Heisenberg. This series has been dark ever since it started, and there’s been many lives lost and many drugs made, but will the man who knocks finally be brought down to his knees?

Breaking Bad season finale

Other shows on TV this week: 

Dexter – Dexter’s still plodding along in its last season, though it’s at a bit of a pitstop in its sixth episode and feels a little like we’ve seen this whole process before. Seven times before, in fact.

Ray Donavon – What I like to call the Grand Theft Auto of TV series, as it’s just as crazy, violent and fun as the popular Rockstar franchise. Like GTA? Then check this show out.

Futurama – Leela gets squidification (transforming her into a squid) in this Jack and the Beanstalk (kind of) homage episode.

Comics – Top Pick: Trillium #1

Having just recently read the whole of Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth series (yeah I know I was late to the party!), and being a regular reader of his current run on Animal Man, I’m always interested in a project Lemire’s involved in. After reading the two separate but connected stories in #1 of Trillium, It’s clear from the offset that this book has big ambitions. Much like the second most recently released Vertigo book The Wake, it poses a lot of questions and doesn’t tell too many answers. That, my friends, is called the hook — aka hooking the readers into buying the next issue to find out more!

trillium #1

Also Hot This Week in Comics 

The Bunker – A time travel series with not robots or lasers but moral conundrum and character at its heart. I’m not the biggest fan of black and white books, but The Bunker’s first issue is this good and only 69p/$1, I cannot complain!

Superior Foes of Spider-man #2 – With superior villains come superior problems, as the bad guys are bailed out in what could be the year’s sleeper hit.

Robocop Last Stand #1 – Frank Miller’s incredible screenplay has been brought to life in this hard-hitting Steven Grant (2 Guns, Punisher: Circle Of Blood) penned adaptation. It’s Robocop’s last stand, as it was always intended to be.

Burn The Orphanage: Born to Lose #1 – Street Fighter in comic book form, folks. If you’ve ever wanted to see old school fighting games have a great story, then Burn The Orphanage is definitely for you.

The Films of August (UK)

Ahh, August. The last month of summer and, consequently, the last month of summer movies. As always in the world of cinemas, there’s a wide array of films releasing, which should be enough to satisfy the needs of the average cinemas goer, to the Cineworld Unlimited card faithful.

Red 2 (Aug 2)

Yep, the old age pensioners – or the too old to be in the Expendables gang – have been let out of the retirement home again. I did go see Red in 2010 upon its release and I remember quite enjoying it, but.. I literally can’t remember anything about it or ever clamouring for a sequel. And judging from the critical response it’s receiving in America (where it’s already been released),

Red 2

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (Aug 7)

I am Siegeface. Having seen the trailer multiple times now, the ‘I am Siegeface’ line still makes me crack a smile. And up until about a month ago when I first saw the trailer, I didn’t even know this film existed. I’m glad I know now, though, as it could be spotlight-stealer of August if it delivers from the impressive trailers.

Alan Partridge Alpha Papa

The Lone Ranger (Aug 12)

The Lone Ranger

Kick-Ass 2 (Aug 14)

The last comic book movie of the year, unfortunately, but has the best been saved until last? Well, Kick-Ass (2010) would be regarded by some as the best comic book movie of all time, and I must say, they have a strong case to be had. My only fear with Kick-Ass 2 is that the actual source material – i.e. book 2 of the Kick-Ass comics which the film is based on – isn’t that great.

kick ass 2

Planes (Aug 16)

This isn’t the Disney film we need, nor is it the one we deserve. However, we are getting it regardless, and it looks awful. Because Cars wasn’t bad enough, Planes had to be brought into the fray. Ships is next, apparently. Sometimes when you’re a kid, you don’t know the difference between a good show and a bad one; hopefully there are some kids out there who realise Planes isn’t going to be good, though.

planes

Elysium (Aug 21)

I’m a fan of Matt Damon. I’m a fan of sci-fi. Though what piqued my interest in Elysium was the director Neil Blomkamp’s involvement, who also wrote the film. You don’t know who Blompamp is? Well, he co-wrote and directed the independent cult hit District 9. Yeah, your interest should have piqued right about now.

Elysium

Jurassic Park 3D (Aug 26)

Dinosaurs in 3D… need I say more?

Jurassic Park 3d

Pain and Gain (Aug 30)

Being a wrestling fan and a fan of Dwayne Johnson, I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a sucker for the films he stars in – well, at least the more recent of ones over the years. Add in a ripped Mark Wahlberg to boot, and you’ve got yourself two star-studded actors in what looks like will end the month of August with a bang.

Pain and Gain

The Wolverine – Review

Hugh Jackman’s back for the 6th time(!) to play Marvel’s most most popular X-Man, and this time it’s a standalone venture to Japan away from the main ensemble of the X-Men. But is Japan a culture shock for Logan? Or does the city of Tokyo welcome The Wolverine with open arms? Well yes, and no.

For folks not in the know, since 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, we’ve had two prequel X-Men films since then (X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: First Class), but The Wolverine is the first that takes place sometime after the events of X3. A film that takes place after the events of a movie that released seven years ago may seem like an extremely long time, but the good news here is that The Wolverine is, essentially, a standalone film, that even newcomers to the series should be able to jump right into and enjoy. The only real tie back to previous films is – spoiler – the reoccurrence of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) through dream sequences.

Loosely based on the 1982 limited series comic book ‘Wolverine’ by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, The Wolverine sees Logan visit an old acquaintance, Yashida, in Japan – whom he’d once saved from a near-death experience during a war some years prior – to grant him a dying wish. Without going into too much spoiler-ish detail, Logan finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and finds himself target enemy no. 1 before he can even get his get claws out.

Wolverine #4

The Wolverine may not be the biggest budget X-Men movie to date, but it is the most visually impressive. Partly to do with the visceral beauty and culture of Japan, and fully to do with director James Mangold’s brilliantly captured action sequences. From James Bond to the Bourne trilogy, we’ve all seen high-octane rooftop chase scenes and larger than life action set-pieces, but the action in Wolverine manages to be both fast and frantic, but yet also manages to feel so grounded and not out of the realm of danger or possibility. A heart-racing train scene is the most memorable of sequences, and is as every bit of fun as it is exhilarating.

Hugh Jackman is psychically ripped – even more so than before – this time around as Wolverine, though it’s not only his hulking structure and physique that stands out on screen, it’s a memorable performance due to the different side we see of Wolverine. He’s at his most vulnerable; his healing powers and immortality have been taken away from him, and it’s the first time in Logan’s life that he is is reduced to a man; a vulnerable man with a target on his back. And there’s a Viper ready to strike.

The Wolverine #3

Svetlana Khodchenkova plays new mutant and main adversary Viper, and is every bit as sexy and seductive as she is cruel and deadly in the role. We don’t get a whole lot of screen time with her in the two hours running time, especially if you want to compare her to, say, a DC movie villain like Bane or Zod, which may disappoint fans of the baddies out there. However, her motives are made clear and her characteristic traits are fleshed out well enough. Although Viper doesn’t get her hands dirty until the end, it’s her ninjas and expert archer, Harada, who do most of the fighting throughout and take part in the aforementioned great action scenes.

 

Luckily for Logan, he’s not alone, though, as newfound friend and love interest Yukiko (Rila Fukushima) and Mariko (Tao Okamoto) – the granddaughter’s of Yashida – are on-hand to help. Both ladies are great in their respective roles and we get enough downtime with them both to get to know them, but they’re tied to one unfortunate problem I found with the film: the slightly convoluted family tree of Yashida’s family. Male figures – father, fiancée, ex-lover – pop in and out of the movie with a grudge held against Yukiko and Mariko, though in the end it becomes a B-storyline and makes it hard to remember who’s who exactly with the main thread of the story taking place at the same time.

The Wolverine #2

Unfortunately The Wolverine’s biggest disappoint is its very final act, which plays out like a bad videogame boss battle would. Yes, for whatever reason a huge steel machine is pitted against Wolverine to conclude, to as expected results. The generic battle is a real shame, too, as it’s the only real major slip-up to an otherwise anything but generic X-Men movie. A great ensemble of women, fresh new foes and, once again, a great outing from Hugh Jackman make The Wolverine a must-see movie and the surprise comic book movie hit of the summer.

Score: 8.7/10

 

 

 

The World’s End – Review

Pegg, Frost and Wright are back for the third and final film in the cornetto trilogy, The World’s End, which may not have as many memorable gags and laugh out loud moments as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz that came before it, but its bold approach to the sci-fi genre is a memorable one and serves as a fitting conclusion.

world's end pub

Whereas Nick Frost usually plays the eccentric, comedic/over-the-top character, the roles have been reversed this time around as it’s Pegg playing the outlandish, self-obsessed Gary King who gets the brunt of the laughs, with Frost taking somewhat of a backseat and playing the more mellow (well, mellow for the most part) Andy as the settled-down business man. And it’s a dynamic character change that pays off, as Pegg certainly seems to have embraced the boisterous nature of Gary King as he looks like he’s having a great time doing so on-screen. It might just be his best performance since his lead in Run, Fatboy, Run. And although the beloved duo Pegg and Frost aren’t alone in the fil – as they’re joined by childhood friends Oliver (Martin Freeman), Peter (Eddie Marsan) and Steven (Paddy Considine) – it’s really the tale of the group of friend’s frontman, Gary King.

Pegg

Four out of the five friends have all grown up and changed considerably since leaving school 20 years ago, and they have now settled-down; married, kids, financially-secure jobs. But Gary, on the other hand, hasn’t grown up; quite the opposite, in fact, as he’s living the life of a rockstar; a lonely, unsuccessful, seemingly washed-up one that every can see – except for him that is. Think of a Jay-like character from Inbetweeners, but instead of the obsession with girls, the obsession is with himself. Gary clearly has some deep, psyche problems which get explored as the film goes on, which certainly ads a dark layer of context that we didn’t get in either SotD or Hot Fuzz. It’s at a counseling session that he has the epiphany of recreating one special (failed) night again with his childhood friends: the golden mile (a pub-crawl consisting of twelve pubs, ultimately ending at The World’s End.)

 

Twenty years on and Gary King and the gang (would make a great band name, add it to the list) have revisited their childhood hometown, Newton Haven, and are out to accomplish what they couldn’t do as teens: reach The World’s End. It’s only a matter of time before they realise something’s not quite right in in Newton Haven and its townsfolk, and from here the sci-fi element is brought into play and the film’s taken into high gear. And thanks to the sci-fi element, the film almost becomes like an adulterated version of Doctor Who, mainly thanks to the villains, which wouldn’t have felt out of place on the BBC on a Saturday night. There’s no doctor to save the day, but it’s up to the (now drunk) group of friends. And despite danger on the fray, Gary has vowed to make it to The World’s End, captivating in many very impressive bar-brawl action sequences, which director Edgar Wright deserves kudos for, for capturing them so well.

The World's End Blank

If you’re going into The World’s End just looking for a straight up comedy then you may leave disappointed though, as there aren’t many standout laugh-out-loud moments. What you will leave with, though, is a personal heartfelt story of friendship (with the added dose of sci-fi for good measure, of course.) Thanks to clever and witty writing, there’s plenty of little quips and one-liners to more than justify its position in the comedy genre. Gary’s failed attempt to jump over the fence (a callback to Hot Fuzz) feels like the biggest unnecessary and doesn’t payoff, but it’s hardly a major complaint. For the most part, I had a stupid Gary King-like grin on my face as the story, and the trilogy, played out. If you’re a hardcore fan of SotD and Hot Fuzz, then suffice to say you’re going to get the most out of The World’s End. But even if you’re not, newcomers should still have a blast. And it’s true what they say about time flying by when you’re having fun, as the film’s 110 minute’s whizzed by like no tomorrow.

 

8.5/10