Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Friday, May 30th, 2014

the-hunger-games-catching-fire-dvd-cover-14The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the sequel to the successful first film The Hunger Games. The film adaptations have been inspired by The Hunger Games book trilogy.

Six months after Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark won the 74th Hunger Games, they carry on their lives in District 12 in peace. However, just before the duo are expected to do a victory tour of the country, President Coriolanus Snow visits Katniss and warns her that a rebellion has broken out in the other districts, inspired by their win. As a result, Katniss and Peeta need to express the reasons for their actions, in an attempt to keep the peace.

If you’ve read the book, you can pretty much guess what will happen in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire film. As with the first edition, we were very relieved to find that the films stays true to the books, which will please the fans of the trilogy.

Despite the whole thing being incredibly long to sit through, you’re never short of a new drama appearing out of nowhere to keep you from nodding off in your chair.

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Avengers Assemble

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Avenger's AssembleBack in 2008, the release of Iron Man garnered rave reviews from audiences and critics alike.  This opened the door for Marvel to move forward with bringing its epic universe to the big screen.

The grand plan of having Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk springboard from their own movies into a single all-out action fest, with scope to continue their own stories afterwards, has come to fruition, with the big green guy’s recasting proving the only real continuity blip.

Downey Jr.’s wise-cracking, arrogant but hugely likeable Tony Stark has made for a great Iron Man, even if the second movie was a little weak. Chris Hemsworth has also proved a genius piece of casting for Thor, blending brash with stoic to give viewers a hugely watchable embodiment of the mythological god, and the film was a fast, fun affair.

Chris Evans as Captain America is certainly better than the film itself, as the second half struggles to deliver on a promising start. Evans does a great job of merging the all-American action hero with a man driven purely by his morals, so he looked a smart choice for the role.  It was just a shame that the film came loose.

Edward Norton was entrusted with the role of Bruce Banner. The Incredible Hulk was itself a reboot after the dullard, lifeless effort Hulk from Ang Lee, and whilst Norton’s movie was a stark improvement, Marvel obviously felt he didn’t fit going forward, and recast him with Mark Ruffalo. Rumours suggest it was actually about money, but surely, in Hollywood, the land of charity and low wages, this cannot be true.

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The Hunger Games – Killing time

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

One of the biggest movies of the year has been yet another adaptation, with Suzanne Collins’ young adult novel The Hunger Games getting the blockbuster treatment.

In a post-apocalyptic North America, one boy and girl from each of the outer regions of a rich city are drawn to fight each other until only one remains, in a gladiator-style arena bloodbath ruckus. Once drawn from this annual lottery of death, the children and teenagers take part in glitzy ceremonies, presentations and training as a prelude to the ultimate death match, which is watched with glee by the rich city-dwellers.

Bow and arrow enthusiast Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) lives with her mother and sister in region 12, and when her sister is drawn to take part in the Hunger Games she volunteers to take her place. She not only has to leave her family, but also her best friend Gale (played by Liam Hemsworth, Thor’s younger brother).

The plus point is that she’s actually pretty good at hunting things with legs.

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DVD Rental – Top 10 Favourite Films

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Favourite FilmsWith some highly anticipated, potential mega-hits coming out this summer, including Alien semi-prequel Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises, along with the recently released Avengers Assemble, we thought we would find the Top 10 Favourite Films of All Time, as voted by our readers.

We expected some people would dodge the obvious and somewhat clichéd classics, like Citizen Kane, Lawrence of Arabia and, of course, Piranha 3D. We didn’t expect such a great mix of movies, with horror, comedy, action and romance all getting a look-in.

Yes, the big winner is perhaps expected, but there are some surprises in there, and we think it shows the continued diversity of both modern cinema and the UK’s own film fanatics.

So without further rambling, here is the list, counting down from 10.

10. Blade Runner

Ridley Scott’s revolutionary sci-fi smash-hit, based on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, saw Harrison Ford’s Deckard chase down replicants in a dystopian future. Rutger Hauer gave Han Solo a sound hiding, and Sean Young was great as reluctant replicant Rachael.

9. Alien

Ridley again, and with his success rate for sci-fi it seems guaranteed that upcoming Alien prequel-of-sorts Prometheus should be a classic. This 1979 game-changer is often credited with revolutionising the heroine character, as well as introducing the surprise-shock ending which has become a stalwart in horror. And who could forget that famous chest-burster scene? Grim.

8. The Goonies

The Goonies, helmed by Superman and Lethal Weapon director Richard Donner, featured a young Samwise Gamgee (also known as Sean Astin) and friends trying to find the lost fortune of One-Eyed Willie. You wouldn’t need three guesses to work out that Spielberg is heavily involved behind the scenes in this charming family adventure.

7. The Notebook

This surprise entry doesn’t so much tug at the heartstrings, as yank at them incessantly whilst showing you pictures of kittens. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams do the unrequited, forbidden love thing, then mum gets angry, then the two separate for years only to stumble upon each other, both faced with a great decision to make. But who is telling the story?

6. Crash (2004)

Not to be mistaken with Cronenberg’s mid-nineties gag reflex test of the same name, Crash is an inventive, compelling and beautifully crafted examination of racial prejudices, told through several intertwining stories set in Los Angeles. It really is a modern classic; funny, gripping, engaging, unpredictable and original, Paul Haggis’ movies is simply a must-see, with stellar performances from the likes of Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Matt Dillon, Ryan Phillippe and Thandie Newton.

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Game of Thrones – A Song of Ice and Fire

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

gameofthronesposterBack in 2007, HBO made the potentially risky decision to fund a TV adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s insanely epic set of novels A Song of Ice and Fire. Named after the first book, Game of Thrones is a fantasy-action-drama packed full of twist, turns, chills, thrills and an array of fascinating characters.

The tricky aspect is that, in order to do it justice, you would need to launch millions of dollars into each episode, get an absolutely stellar cast from kids to kings, film in genuine settings, structure the story faithfully and brace the audience for something which doesn’t exactly pander to the usual TV conventions. Luckily HBO has embraced the challenge, and now this studio has the best thing on TV either side of the Atlantic.

Prepare for dragons, incest, violence, gore, prostitutes, swords, sorcery, zombies, wolves and a dizzying amount of sneaky deception within the dynastic struggle which serves as the show’s foundation. There is also a eunuch and a dwarf, who are both utterly compelling, genius characters.

King Robert Baratheon sits on the Iron Throne, ruling the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. He is married to Cersei Lannister, uniting his royal family with riches. Their marriage is loveless, and as he drinks and eats his way to an early grave, she conducts a grim affair with her brother Jaime. Her other brother, Tyrion, is a dwarf, but neutralises any potential ridicule through his sparkling wit and intelligence.

King Robert’s closest friend is Ned Stark, and when the King’s Hand dies suspiciously, the King calls on his friend to serve in the role. This pretty much means Ned will run business whilst Robert gets drunk, sleeps with prostitutes and eats as much food as possible.

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Thor – It’s Hammer Time…

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

thor-posterKenneth Branagh – director of Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, As You Like It, Love’s Labour’s Lost and… er… Thor.

It is perhaps unfair to pigeonhole Mr. Branagh, and he has plenty of movie titles to his name, but his work in performing and directing Shakespeare has dominated his career, so his selection for a Marvel Comics adaptation that has been a long time coming certainly baffled many. But then they gave the Hulk job to Ang Lee, a man known for directing Sense and Sensibility and The Wedding Banquet, and that worked out great.

No wait, that’s not right. Oh dear.

Moving on, Thor is one of the classic comic characters, but has been denied even a single big screen treatment before this effort, whilst Batman is awaiting his seventh Hollywood outing, Superman gets his sixth in 2013 and Spider-Man is chasing the pack with number four.

In all fairness, the man uses a big hammer as his weapon of choice, and it just isn’t as obviously cool as an array of Bat Gadgets, bullet- beating speed or the ability to sling spider-webbing from your wrists. Still, Thor is actually based on the Norse mythological God of the same name, and once you bring deities in, you can have plenty of fun with a big budget.

Branagh’s movie adaptation of Thor sees the eponymous character (played by Chis Hemsworth) banished from the Godly realm of Asgard by his all-conquering uber-powerful father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). He is slapped with this punishment when his rash actions bring about the threat of war with the neighbouring Frost Giants of Jotunheim. He was all set to be handed the title of King, but felt the urge to start a ruckus due to an overabundance of machismo.

His scheming brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) takes the opportunity to bring about his own plans for ruling the kingdom, once Odin suffers some kind of random collapse. Meanwhile, a disgruntled Thor finds himself landing on Earth with the commoners, much to his displeasure, but his father Odin was kind enough to send his big beast of a hammer, called Mjolnir for some reason, along with him. In a little bit of Sword in the Stone-type drama, Thor will only be able to wield this weapon and its power once he is worthy.

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Skyrim – Rock and Scroll

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

skyrim

Bethesda’s latest instalment in the Elder Scrolls saga has arrived, and Skyrim sets this new story around 200 years after the events of predecessor Oblivion. You play one of the Dragonborn; a rare occurrence of a human with the soul of a dragon, that only appears whenever the world is in danger.

So begins your adventure of dragon-slaying, dungeon-crawling, bandit-beating fun that will take you across a map of epic proportions. From the frozen peaks of the mountains, to the luscious greenery that adorns the forests, every corner of the world that is Skyrim feels unique, boasting breathtaking detail and a mind-bending array of intricate touches.
The hundreds, if not thousands, of dungeons, ruins and tombs that fill the world of Skyrim create a grand and immersive setting. Once you’ve completed one dungeon, there always seems to be another to conquer, and each has its own original aesthetic. The gameplay also involves a new, convenient mechanism which means that you will always be sent to places you haven’t already visited, so you will always be encountering new locations and dungeons.

Clearly, dungeons are only one aspect of this truly open-world experience. Within this world you are able to create your own weapons and armour, and adorn your bodily defence with special enchantments to improve your abilities. You can mix potions to strengthen you and your skills or weaken your enemies, as well as hunt animals for the skins and meat to create food with healing properties and even join a number of guilds to perform special tasks. The game’s progression, and that of your character, appears infinite.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

pirates-of-the-carribean-4-poster1Anyone who claims to be able to resist Captain Jack’s inimitable mix of swagger, swordsmanship, salamander and anti-sobriety must be off their Jolly Roger. It is a testament to the character and the actor that Jack ‘Sparrah’ can almost single-handedly pull this franchise through some serious scriptwriting issues and the excruciating presence of Orlando Bloom’s William Turner.

It is hard to believe that Johnny Depp nearly walked because the execs at Disney thought he had gone mad when they saw early footage of his daft pirate. The series would have experienced a short drop and a sudden stop had Sparrow been sacrificed, or played straight by a less creative and more submissive actor.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was a refreshing surprise blockbuster, whilst follow-up Dead Man’s Chest had some great moments but got a bit tangled in its own fishing net. The second part of that story, and third entry in the series, At World’s End, also had some nice set-pieces but the story was contrived and needlessly complex thanks to the writers’ attempts to have everybody double-cross each other to the point of storytelling redundancy. All the way through, Jack Sparrow was great, thankfully.

A wise move, then, to give Jack a new stand-alone story without the irksome William Turner or his posh tomboy squeeze Katherine Swann. The general plan of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was to reduce the needless complexity, keep up the laughs and action and give Sparrow plenty of screen time. Too much of a good thing could be bad, but never with Jack… sorry, Captain Jack.

Loosely (very loosely) based on a novel called On Stranger Tides, this film sees Jack in search of the Fountain of Youth, with the Spanish and King George II also keen on the prize that would see skincare products wiped off the face of the Earth. King George II sends his surprise employee Captain Hector Barbossa, once again played by the wonderful Geoffrey Rush, on an expedition to beat the Spanish to the Fountain. In general, everyone wants to get to the Fountain, but there is a little more to this legendary elixir of life than meets the eye-patch.

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Rage – Don’t Look Back In Anger…

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

_-rage-xbox-360-_1Rage is one of those games that didn’t seem to get much justice when it came to advertisement, but that doesn’t mean it disappoints. Developed by the guys at Id Software (Doom, Quake, Wolfenstein), and produced by Bethesda Softworks (Fallout, Elder Scrolls), this game boasts one of the most famous teams in the games industry, and you can tell that there was a lot of loving attention paid to every aspect of this game.

Now, before I get started, I would recommend anyone playing this game to install it to the hard drive of their console. Standing in at 22GB on 3 disks for the Xbox 360 version (or 8GB per disk on the PS3), it is a huge game, with the graphics making up for most of the size, and you will see why.

The Rage intro does a great job of showing the story so far; an asteroid is on a collision course with earth, and everyone is put into stasis chambers called Arks (Fallout’s vaults anyone?). Straight from the get go you can see how visually beautiful this game is, and my other half thought she was watching the start of some mega-bucks blockbuster. Everything from packs of sweets to mutated bosses has had each detail considered, examined and rendered to perfection. In short, Rage has definitely set a new bar for the standards of video gaming graphics.

There is, as with 99% of games, a little tutorial on the controls (look up, look down, run around in circles, blah blah blah) followed by a little mission to introduce you to the game’s mechanics. The controls are about as straightforward as they come; anyone accustomed to playing FPS games will feel right at home. However, even though there are plenty of areas you will be running and gunning (Rage isn’t another run-of-the-mill cover shooter), this isn’t where Rage truly shines, although this aspect remains great fun. Being a sandbox game, inevitably some areas are limited at first until you do a mission to blow/open up whatever is in your way. As a result, vehicles are a must, and the controls for driving are as responsive as ever, making it easy and entertaining to drive.

Throughout the course of playing the game you will find a lot of influences from the projects that both companies have under their belt, most notably of which are Bethesda’s open-world RPGs. There aren’t any RPG elements within Rage but there is still the option for side quests as well as the main story missions. This means that you can make that little bit more money, enabling you to be more prepared when engaging the main missions. This also means that you won’t be getting bored anytime soon, and will probably be spending a lot of time doing the side quests just to upgrade your guns/armour/vehicles.

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Dead Island – Island Holiday Gone Bad…

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

dead-island-coverAny one of us can remember seeing the appetising trailer for this game almost two years ago; it was beautifully crafted as a non-linear sequence of a little girl’s transformation through death to zombie, before attacking what would appear to be her parents. So began a plethora of rumours and speculation that was the intense hype for Dead Island.

Created by Polish company Techland, most famous for their Call of Juarez series of games, Dead Island can be best described as Dead Rising, Borderlands and Left 4 Dead having a messed up party on a tropical island. Calling it an FPS/RPG/horror survival hybrid would just be too much.

Where to begin? The first thing you’ll see when starting the disc up is the typical intro. Now I would personally recommend watching this, if not for the brief introductions to each character, or the extremely poor, but undeniably amusing Australian accents, then just for the music. Central character Sam B’s sole rap hit Who Do You Voodoo? offers a playful reference to the earliest known mention of a ‘zombie’, as voodoo witch doctors were thought to create mindless slaves using reanimated corpses.

From here you will enter the main menu and upon choosing New Game you will be met by the 4 protagonists; Sam B, Xian, Purna and Logan. Each character has a very different, and quite interesting, backstory. Unfortunately, these stories aren’t explored in the game itself; there aren’t any skeletons in the closet for these guys. The characters’ differences are defined by their strengths, weaknesses and entertaining observational anecdotes. Each character also levels up RPG-style, and with each level comes a point to use in one of three skill trees, and these differ between characters. There is no way to reselect your skills, but just because you’re stronger doesn’t mean things get easier, not a chance! The enemies level up with you, meaning the difficulty can actually increase.

Aesthetically, this game is a breathtaking spectacle; after the typical tutorial you can pretty much go wherever you want, and you are treated to a rendering masterclass as you explore this sinister location and its unwelcome surprises. The zombies themselves have a multi-layer damage system, which means that as you push them further into the eternal rest, they actually show the signs of physical damage – marks from a good old fashion club-beating, vicious slash wounds from your trusty blade and even the complete loss of limbs.

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