Monday, 21 May 2018

Duckman: The Complete Seasons 1-4: DVD Review

Duckman: The Complete Seasons 1-4: DVD Review


Rating: M
Released by Madman Home Ent

Running from 94 to 97, this adult animated cartoon was a crude blast of fresh air.
Duckman: The Complete Seasons 1-4: DVD Review

Confined to late night BBC viewings in the UK, the titular Duckman was a private eye (played by Jason Alexander) who had more of the self-hating vibe than you'd expect.

With the set comprising some 70 episodes and some great special features, including commentary and animatics, there's definitely a feeling of the full Duckman experience that's worth dwelling on.

And with an extremely high profile guest cast list, there's lots of "that sounds like" moments to be had as well.

But it's in the scabrous tales and the mocking of private eye conventions and tropes that Duckman flourishes, painting everything with a crude afterglow that's hard to deny. And it's funny too - Alexander gives his all to Duckman and the ludicrous situations he finds himself in.

Funny, crude and amusing before South Park et al made it fashionable, Duckman's Complete Seasons are well worth owning if you've even serious about what animation means.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Phantom Thread: DVD Review

Phantom Thread: DVD Review


In 1950s post-war London, Paul Thomas Anderson's latest aims to shine with sleek production values, a pitch-perfect soundtrack from Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood and Daniel Day-Lewis' swansong in acting.
Phantom Thread: Film Review

And yet, the chilly Phantom Thread fails to emotionally engage the viewer with its tale of control, powerplays and a decidedly uncomfortable central relationship.

Day-Lewis is renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock, a fashion icon, and confirmed bachelor who welcomes women into his life as muses, then discards them when they reach the end of their usefulness.

Escaping to the country after delivering a dress, Woodcock meets waitress Alma (Krieps), whose entrance into his life is marred by a clumsiness that juxtaposes his own precision. Taken with her, Woodcock finds new inspiration in her shape and is consumed with the creative joy a muse brings.

However, Alma is strong-willed and refuses to bend to his more curious edges, setting up a conflict that has ramifications for the Woodcock house and empire.

Phantom Thread: Film Review

It's fair to say that Anderson's Phantom Thread has an icy chilliness that some will find engaging, and others will find dis-engaging.

Sumptuously shot, delicately woven, this psychological battle of wills plays out on a frosty background that seems oddly contemporary despite its period setting.

While Day-Lewis' Woodcock is a relatively spiteful enigma, whose insouciance and desire for perfection irritates, Alma's desire to be part of this world and to be the woman who changes the man for the better is a universal theme in all relationship dramas.

Orbiting the pair of them is the Oscar-nominated Lesley Manville, as Cyril, Woodcock's sister and administrative arm of the empire. With relatively little dialogue and the nuance of minor actions throughout, Manville brings a thaw to proceedings as Cyril goes on her own arc.

Phantom Thread: Film Review

But it's Krieps who engages the most here - going from doe-eyed would be suitor to woman determined to get her own way (elements of MacBeth and Lady MacBeth's Florence Pugh spring to mind), her character is one that feels like a reaction of the MeToo movement, a woman whose desires won't be thwarted by a creative fragile apparent genius.

And yet, despite the strong performances, Phantom Thread itself remains somewhat of an enigma, a curio of a film that never quite hits any emotional resonance and feels like you, the audience, are watching a game of chess and consequent strategies from afar.

It's a distant piece, and with its meticulous edges, feels a little too crafted for general consumption. It may be sumptuous, but it's never bewitching at the level it should be. Everyone's functioning at the top of their game, and the pieces are there, but the emotional core of where Phantom Thread should be feels hollow and unconnected and uninviting to anything else. 

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Spacejacked: PS4 Review

Spacejacked: PS4 Review


Developed by Rotten Mage
Platform: PS4

There's something about 8-bit gaming on the PS4 console.
Spacejacked: PS4 Review

It's a perverse pleasure, a throwback to when things were simpler, and inevitably, rather than being how the game looks, it's all about how the game plays.
(Though admittedly, it is a little bit about how the game looks too.)

Rotten Mage's tower-defender style shoot-em-up is a simple pleasure, a bitesize game that hilariously fills out with its roster with a hero called Dave.

Set on a spaceship with invading aliens, Dave, who frequently lets you know didn't sign up for this, is called on to save the day.
Jumping from area to area, putting up turrets (choice - laser, gun or stasis field - or all three), Dave's job is to stop the baddies from overwhelming the main engines.

Dave's able to assemble and reassemble turrets in different locations, or build others when enough metal (the in-game currency) is collected to do so. But the trick is to set up the defences and get ready before a timer introduces the waves of attackers.
And then potentially, to disassemble and reassemble in other arenas when waves come in...
Spacejacked: PS4 Review

As Dave deals to the baddies, members of the spaceship are freed from their kidnappers, and offer different kinds of help.
One offers to upgrade blasters, another turrets and another gives him the chance to venture out in a spaceship and collect metal in a mini-game.

To say Spacejacked has a retro charm is to smother it in faint praise.
It's very playable, has 20 levels and really is quite easy to get through - replayability is perhaps more of an issue than you'd realise until later on.

But there are endless survival modes and other challenges as well - there's enough to do in the game if you want to just kick around.

Much like Bro-Force, the graphics are perfectly adorable and also silly as well.
There's charm aplenty in the game, and levels tax you with their commitment to strategy - you can't just wing it, unless you fancy playing a very short campaign.
Spacejacked: PS4 Review

The game never stutters even when the screen's overloaded with creatures, and the guns are going all blazing. There's certainly an addictive touch to the game as well as the fact that it embraces bitesize plays, if you just want to kick back and chill for a bit.

There are challenges within Spacejacked, but the whole thing is never overly challenging - level fails are usually dealt with quite quickly if you're prone to learning.
Ultimately, Spacejacked is a lo-fi indie treat, a reminder that big isn't necessarily better - it's endlessly playable and admirably cute.



YOSHIMITSU THE HONORABLE NINJA PLAYABLE IN SOULCALIBUR VI

YOSHIMITSU THE HONORABLE NINJA PLAYABLE IN SOULCALIBUR VI

YOSHIMITSU THE HONORABLE NINJA PLAYABLE IN SOULCALIBUR VI

BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe is pleased to announce the presence in SOULCALIBUR VI of Yoshimitsu, the most famous cross-over character. SOULCALIBUR VI will be launched in 2018 for PlayStation®4, Xbox One and PC Digital.


The Manji clan's village was located at the bottom of the Holy Mount Fuji. Unfortunately, the clan was destroyed by the ire of a powerful warlord. As the lone survivor, Yoshimitsu, dedicated his life to his clan's martial arts. With his excellent swordsmanship, he was the greatest swordsmen of his time!

SOULCALIBUR VI will be launched in 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC Digital. For more information about the game and other products from BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe please visit:https://www.bandainamcoent.eu, follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BandaiNamcoEU, or join the conversation at https://www.twitter.com/BandaiNamcoEU.

SoulCalibur VI will showcase at Battle Arena Melbourne 10 at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on the 18th to 20st of May. Be sure to come down and check it out!

NEW DETAILS AND SCREEN SHOTS ON CHARACTERS, BOSSES AND LOCATIONS FOR CODE VEIN

NEW DETAILS AND SCREEN SHOTS ON CHARACTERS, BOSSES AND LOCATIONS FOR CODE VEIN

NEW DETAILS ON CHARACTERS, BOSSES AND LOCATIONS
FOR CODE VEIN 

Today, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe introduced two new characters, a new location as well as bosses for the upcoming action-RPG CODE VEIN™.

Yakumo is revealed as a new buddy character. He proves to be an experienced fighter who positions himself in front of the enemy to protect his allies. The Drain Attack, which is performed by his Hounds, makes him a strong companion. Back in the past when he was still human, Mido used him for his cruel experiments. This is why Yakumo despises him even today. Emily Su is also introduced as another new character. She formed a deep bond with Yakumo, because, just like him, she was trapped in the military facility where Mido experimented on her. After she was separated from Yakumo by the Great Collapse, he sets out in search of her.

Moreover, the City of Falling Flame is unveiled as a new location. This city is left in ruins and haunted by an eternal fire. This threat turns everything that is left into ashes. The Thorns of Judgment wind their way through the whole city and players have to avoid obstacles like huge walls of flames and therefore explore everything carefully. The Lost called Blazing Radical, who reminds of a knight, is not the only creature that hides in the flames.

Apart from that, the Successor of the Claw is revealed as a major boss in CODE VEIN. It is a fearsome creature that covers its face with a mask and wields a terrific, burning sword. That's why it is up to the player to always be on guard and avoid its sweeping attacks. Also, this boss can burn the player if he gets too close to his claws and its two tails.

CODE VEIN is a third-person action RPG that set players into the role of a Revenant. These immortal soldiers were created to counter the threat of mankind that appeared after the Great Collapse, a catastrophic event eradicating most of the population. By injecting human corpses with the Biological Organ Regenerative Parasite, they were brought back from the dead, gaining superhuman capabilities and the ability to revive after death as long their heart stays intact at the cost of losing their memories. Players are tasked to embark into the world with a companion picked from the various residents of Vein to uncover their memories and an exit out of this new demented reality.

CODE VEIN will be available for Xbox One, PlayStation®4, and PC via STEAM® in 2018. For more information about the game and other products from BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe please visit:https://www.bandainamcoent.com, follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BandaiNamcoEU, or join the conversation at https://www.twitter.com/BandaiNamcoEU.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Win a copy of State of Decay 2 on Xbox One!

Win a copy of State of Decay 2 on Xbox One!


To celebrate the release of State of Decay 2, you can win a copy of the game!

About State of Decay 2

The next installment in the critically acclaimed “State of Decay” franchise immerses you in an all-new, multiplayer zombie survival fantasy.

Win a copy of State of Decay 2 on Xbox One!The dead have risen and civilization has fallen.

Not even the military could stop the zombies, and now it's up to you to gather survivors and build a community in a post-apocalyptic world. You choose where to build your base, develop your characters’ abilities, and manage resources in a world where every decision matters, and where you define what it means to survive.

Play solo or team with up to three friends in co-op multiplayer to explore an open world filled with dynamic zombies, human enemies, and the valuable gear necessary to keep your community alive.

“State of Decay 2” is an Xbox Play Anywhere title, meaning a single digital purchase of the game on Xbox One or Windows 10 PC will include the other version at no additional cost.

Features: Experience the Ultimate Zombie Survival Fantasy Game: Play as an entire community — each survivor in the game is their own person, with a unique mix of background traits, skills, and attitudes that determine what they can do, what they want, and what they are willing to do to get it. Use your community’s unique array of individuals to forge a path through the game that is personal to you. Your choices shape the identity of your community, ensuring that no two stories are alike and remember – once you lose a survivor, they’re gone forever thanks to the return of permadeath in “State of Decay 2.” Explore an open, simulated world filled with dynamic zombie and human enemies, friendly survivors to recruit into your community, and valuable resources and gear necessary to keep your people alive.

Survive Together with Four-Player Co-op Multiplayer: Play solo, or for the first time ever in the “State of Decay” franchise, with up to three of friends in co-op multiplayer where each player maintains command of their own personal community and roster of characters. Invite friends to join your game, or drop into theirs. Work together as you explore the deadly post-apocalyptic open world, make decisions with long lasting consequences, and look out for your fellow survivors while sharing the rewards of your accomplishments.


Deep RPG Progression: Develop each survivor's traits and skills to improve their capabilities and strengthen your community. Collect resources to build and fortify your base, unlocking crucial new facilities and valuable community options along the way. Elevate your favorite survivors to leadership roles in your community by heeding their advice and completing their goals, and unlock new community benefits and objectives that suit your leader’s ideals. Manage the relationships and goals of your survivors to build a strong community that has a lasting impact on the future of your world.

To win a copy, all you have to do is email  your details to this address: darrensworldofentertainment@gmail.com or CLICK HERE NOW!

Please label your entry DECAAAAAAAAAAAY

Competition closes June 1st

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 details revealed

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 details revealed



It’s time to soldier up because Black Ops is back! The series which has become the most played in Call of Duty® history as well as a cultural phenomenon around the globe returns October 12th with the release of Call of Duty®: Black Ops 4, a gritty, grounded, all-out combat experience.

Black Ops 4 raises the bar for Multiplayer mode that increases tactical gameplay and player choice, along with the biggest Zombies offering ever with three full experiences at launch, and Blackout, where the Black Ops universe comes to life in a massive battle royale experience featuring iconic characters and locations from all four Black Ops games in a one-of-a-kind offering that is uniquely Black Ops. Published by Activision and developed by award-winning studio Treyarch, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 transforms the established universe played by hundreds of millions of fans with the largest gameplay experience ever created in the series.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is scheduled for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on October 12th. Fans can pre-order now and get access to the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Private Beta*. Black Ops 4 for the PC delivers a fully-optimised experience, which for the first time in Call of Duty’s history will be available exclusively on Battle.net, Blizzard Entertainment’s online gaming service.




CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS 4 DELIVERS GAME CHANGING EXPERIENCE
WITH DEEPEST, MOST ENGAGING CALL OF DUTY EVER

With More than 200 Million Players to date,
The Black Ops Series Returns with All-New Blockbuster October 12th

Call of Duty Partners with Blizzard Entertainment to Bring Black Ops 4 to Battle.net

Pre-Order Now and Receive Access to the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Private Beta

Global Livestream Community Event Caps Biggest Call of Duty Reveal Ever



Black Ops 4 gives our community more ways to have fun with their friends than anything Treyarch has ever created and introduces meaningful innovations to every element of the game, including next level tactical team-based multiplayer, the biggest zombies offering yet and Blackout, where the largest map in Call of Duty history brings together the rich universe of Black Ops,” said Rob Kostich, EVP and GM, Call of Duty. “More than 200 million players have called Black Ops home, and they’ve played for more than 15 billion hours. This is an incredible community that has inspired the development team to take their innovative gameplay design to new heights.” 

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is scheduled for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on October 12th. Fans can pre-order now and get access to the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Private Beta*Black Ops 4 for the PC delivers a fully-optimised experience, which for the first time in Call of Duty’s history will be available exclusively on Battle.net, Blizzard Entertainment’s online gaming service.

The game was revealed earlier today in a livestreamed community event broadcast worldwide across 10 languages, as Activision and Treyarch unveiled an unprecedented first look along with a trove of detailed game information.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 features gritty, grounded, combat, along with new levels of customisation and tactical gameplay, and a variety of new weaponry, maps and modes for the ultimate Black Ops multiplayer experience. The game features the return of the iconic Pick 10 system, along with a series of innovations in weapon controls, combat flow, health regeneration, and player movement. Black Ops 4 goes deeper than ever before into the fiction of multiplayer, where players will explore the world of Specialists – who they are, why they exist, and what battles they fight together – while mastering their gameplay through solo and multiplayer combat experiences. Black Ops 4 features a combination of new and returning Specialists, each with their own unique weapons, equipment and playstyles. Players will be powerful alone, but devastating as a team working together. 

Black Ops 4 is by far the most ambitious title our team has ever created,” said Dan Bunting, Co-Studio Head, Treyarch. “At its core Black Ops has always been about challenging convention and boldly taking our gameplay in new directions. With Black Ops 4, we’ve designed an experience for all play styles and skill levels from casual to competitive. It brings a layer of tactical depth that rewards players for mastery, and just feels so good to play.” 

Celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the original Call of Duty ZombiesBlack Ops 4 also debuts an entirely new and unprecedented Zombies experience that’s the biggest Day One offering in franchise history – with three fully-featured Zombies experiences at launch – IXVoyage of Despair and Blood of the Dead. With immersive new adventures, a brand-new cast of characters and a nefarious new enemy, Black Ops 4 Zombies will feature the deep gameplay and easter eggs that the rabid community of fans devours. It also includes the most customisable action to-date, new systems for creating and completing community challenges, and social systems designed to connect players. Black Ops 4 also reintroduces difficulty levels and an in-game tutorial to onboard new players to the Zombies universe, while giving hardcore players the option of ratcheting up the challenge. Additionally, Zombie Rush is a brand new mode that streamlines the gameplay experience, introducing enticing new challenges to grizzled veterans, while creating a whole new tempo of gameplay for newcomers.

In addition to unveiling Multiplayer and Zombies in today’s world premiere, the team also introduced Blackout – the new battle royale-style experience that combines Black Ops’ signature fast, fluid, guns-up combat, with fierce new levels of survival competition across iconic Black Ops settings re-imagined at a colossal scale. Blackout is an experience unlike any other game or mode in Call of Duty history, where players will have to scavenge, strategise, compete and survive to win. Featuring the largest map ever built in Call of Duty – 1,500 times bigger than Nuketown – Blackout thrusts players into a collision course as they play as classic characters spanning the history of the Black Ops series including the original Call of Duty Zombies Origins cast. Battling solo or in teams, players will engage in diverse combat complete with ground, air and sea vehicles across a gamespace unlike anything ever in Call of Duty. Players will encounter fan-favourite Black Ops map locations and call upon a massive arsenal of Black Ops weaponry and equipment as the winner-takes-all action creates a new way to play Call of Duty.

“The Black Ops community means everything to us, so we knew in order to deliver something really special for our fans like Blackout, with the biggest map we’ve ever created in Call of Duty, we had to push ourselves and our tech to the absolute limits,” said Mark Gordon, Co-Studio Head, Treyarch. “The same goes for our PC community. They have inspired and fueled us to set a new standard on PC across every aspect from dedicated servers and security to full optimisation and polish that’s worthy of both Black Ops and Battle.net.”

For the PC, Treyarch is co-developing with Beenox, who together are working closely with Blizzard to optimise Black Ops 4 for Battle.net. Black Ops 4 represents the largest development team assembled for a PC title in the series. Black Ops 4 on PC will have uncapped framerate, 4K resolution and HDR, support for ultra-wide monitors and the ability for players to extensively customise the performance and visual quality for their specific hardware. In addition, players will be able to select from pre-set control options, including options for left-handed players, or fully customise the keyboard and mouse controls to their preference. In addition, Treyarch and Beenox worked closely with the team at Blizzard to incorporate Battle.net’s social systems, security, and server stability into Black Ops 4, to prepare for the release on Battle.net on October 12.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is published by Activision, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), and developed by Treyarch with additional development support from Raven Software and PC development with Beenox. For more information and the latest intel check out: www.callofduty.comwww.youtube.com/callofduty and follow @Treyarch and @CallofDuty on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook.

About Treyarch
Treyarch is an award-winning video game studio, driven by the desire to create epic gameplay experiences that are enjoyed by as many video game fans as possible. It is an approach that has helped to make the studio behind the Call of Duty: Black Opsseries of games, an industry-leading developer. Call of Duty: Black Ops set an entertainment launch opening record upon its release in 2010 and continues to be one of the best-selling games of all time, according to NPD and GfK Chart-Track; Call of Duty: Black Ops II set world-wide launch day records; and the studio’s most recent Call of Duty: Black Ops III held the biggest entertainment opening weekend of 2015, and was the #1 console game globally for the calendar year. Additionally, Treyarch is the birthplace of Call of Duty’s Zombies. Treyarch is wholly owned by Activision.

About Blizzard Entertainment
Best known for blockbuster hits including World of Warcraft®, Hearthstone®, Overwatch®, the Warcraft®, StarCraft®, and Diablo® franchises, and the multi-franchise Heroes of the Storm®, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (www.blizzard.com), a division of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), is a premier developer and publisher of entertainment software renowned for creating some of the industry's most critically acclaimed games. Blizzard Entertainment's track record includes twenty-one #1 games and multiple Game of the Year awards. The company's online gaming service is one of the largest in the world, with millions of active players

About Activision
Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision is a leading global producer and publisher of interactive entertainment. Activision maintains operations throughout the world and is a division of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), an S&P 500 company. More information about Activision and its products can be found on the company's website, www.activision.com or by following @Activision.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements: Information in this press release that involves Activision Publishing's expectations, plans, intentions or strategies regarding the future, including statements about the expected release date, pre-orders, features, functionality and gameplay of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, are forward-looking statements that are not facts and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Factors that could cause Activision Publishing's actual future results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements set forth in this release include unanticipated product delays and other factors identified in the risk factors sections of Activision Blizzard's most recent annual report on Form 10K and any subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. The forward-looking statements in this release are based upon information available to Activision Publishing and Activision Blizzard as of the date of this release, and neither Activision Publishing nor Activision Blizzard assumes any obligation to update any such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements believed to be true when made may ultimately prove to be incorrect. These statements are not guarantees of the future performance of Activision Publishing or Activision Blizzard and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond its control and may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations. 

*Actual platform availability and launch date(s) subject to change. Beta may begin on different dates for each platform. See www.callofduty.com/beta for more details. Minimum Beta duration is 3 days. Limited time only, while beta codes last, at participating retailers. Internet connection required.

†Sales and/or downloads, based on internal company records and reports from key distribution partners.



# # #

God Of War: PS4 Review

God Of War: PS4 Review


Released by Santa Monica Studio
Platform: PS4

Kratos is back and bigger than ever before in the eighth outing of the God of War series.
God Of War: PS4 Review
This is..........Kratos!

The game's already been universally lauded, with many stating its narrative and gameplay are second to none.

It's hard to dispute this - but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Loosely, Kratos finds himself in the Norse world this time, as opposed to the Greek mythology that dominated the series before. Along with a young son, Atreus, Kratos is mourning the loss of his wife, Atreus' mother and facing a quest to return her ashes to the highest peaks of the nine realms.

However, while it looks initially like the reluctant father / son duo are hoping to be left to mourn, a stranger appears - and Kratos' past threatens to overwhelm him.

God Of War's strength in this latest iteration comes from the way the pieces have been pulled together.

Over years of creation, director Cory Barlog has reimagined and revamped the franchise, giving it a heft that is an evolution of its prior hack and slash ethos. And it makes sense - later in life, people have regrets and wishes over something they'd done before; certainly, Kratos' rage and destruction of Greece in prior games gives him the emotional weight he needs.

But Barlog is to be commended for never once losing the depth needed for the game these days - it's engaging as it is beautifully rendered; a sign that Santa Monica simply aren't content to rest on laurels, bringing both nuance to Kratos and to his surroundings as well.

The emotional beats feel right here, and the story hits the ground running right away - familiarity with Kratos and his past perhaps helps, but it's testament to what the studio's done that it proves to be so damn engaging even without prior knowledge.

The biggest change is the loss of Kratos' twin swirling blades that he'd previously used, the Blades of Chaos. Replaced with an axe, that appears to have elements of Thor's Mjolnir, Kratos has moved with the times.

Light and heavy attacks are still there, with the rage-metre to be filled as well.  Combat is easy, and also taxing with hordes of enemies, but the bluster and violence that has been the norm is still thankfully there.

There's much that harkens back to what Kratos was and also much that lets you see what it is now.
God Of War: PS4 Review

This is a series that's got bigger every time, and while scope and scale this time are nothing to scoff at, the fact it's dwelt on the intimacy this time around, adds much to what's needed within. Graphically and narratively, it feels a lot like the best elements of The Last Of Us' twosome combined with the wondrous landscapes of Horizon Zero Dawn.

Granted, the sidekick kid can get a little irritating, but to see the two of them working together in combat and side-by-side is a nice touch. Though the repetitive dialogue from Atreus during fighting may occasionally make you wish you could silence him a little more often.

But it's in the more subtle touches and the "feels" where this God Of War succeeds. An early scene in which Atreus has to learn about killing animals and where the injured stag looks pleadingly at him from the ground actually had this reviewer close to tears.

Ultimately, God of War is all about the journey this time around - and it's one that's easily worth taking in its latest outing.

This is the kind of game which screams out for Game Of The Year - and while accolades are easily bandied around, this one is well deserved.

Everything about God Of War fits together - its story, its combat, its emotive soundtrack and its journey all churn in one gaming pot to provide an experience that's second to none.

Make no mistake, Kratos and the God Of War hype is real - and if you're serious about gaming in any shape or form, you need to own and envelop yourself in its immeasurable pleasures immediately.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Breathe: DVD Review

Breathe: DVD Review


It would possibly have benefited first time director Andy Serkis to have taken potentially another subject for his debut.
Breathe: Film Review

The wannabe inspirational true story of Robin Cavendish (played by Andrew Garfield) is perhaps a little too close to home for Serkis, whose friend Jonathan Cavendish is the producer of this film.

But then perhaps, there may not have been as much empathy and tenderness in parts of this deeply sanitised biography (and almost hagiography) of Cavendish, who was left paralysed by polio in Africa in the late 50s.

Against all medical advice, his loving wife Diana (The Crown star Claire Foy) drags him out of the clinic, respirator and all, to give him a shot at living in his trapped condition. Defying the odds, and with plenty of homecare, Cavendish begins to live a life again - and sets out changing conditions for others suffering a similar condition.

Breathe: Film Review

Intended as inspirational is no bad thing, and certainly swathes of this mix the humour of French hit The Intouchables with a sort of British stiff upper lip cum don't let the biggers grind you down ethos that in parts it's hard not to get swept along with.

Foy is the dazzling diamond of the piece - and the film's title Breathe, as well as referring to the necessity of Cavendish's condition could also refer to the life breathed into him by one woman's unswerving devotion and belief. Equally, Garfield, along with plummy English accent and confined for parts of the film to act with nothing but facials and head nodding manages to imbue Cavendish with both understandable frustration and desperation as the depression sets in.

Serkis keeps things light, starting the film with a dizzying meeting, courtship and marriage of Diana and Robin which sets the pace. Along with a dual role for Rev star Tom Hollander, there's plenty of breezy laughs and 40s style Englishness to just about keep the twee from rotting your cinematic teeth.

Along with some top down shots, Serkis keeps the tone going and the atmosphere jovial.

But when the inevitable darkness calls, that's half the problem with Breathe.really starts to become noticeable.

Breathe: Film Review

It's very much a sanitised view of what a life-changing condition can do to those involved and Serkis relies on the japes of the darker moments to make it all feel slighter than it should. At 2 hours, there's no arguing that a maudlin and depressing feel could turn Breathe into a slog, but by going too far the other way (perhaps at the insistence of the producer and with his personal history to the subject), the film's levity becomes its undoing and the triumph is battered by a beautific desire to simply be English about it and laugh it all off.

Ultimately, Breathe may be a film about the human possibility and of endurance, but it's also won that sacrifices its smaller moments for a mish-mash of tone, even choosing to throw a right-to-die debate into the mix in its death throes.

All in all, Breathe's fallacies are greater than what unfortunately its lead actors bring to the table - and while its intentions are good and true, its cloying sentimentality and desire to breeze over reality ironically finds the film narratively gasping for breath.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

All The Money In The World: DVD Review

All The Money In The World: DVD Review


It's hard not to view All The Money In The World without the fog of controversy that's clouded its admittedly quiet release ahead of the awards season in 2018.
All The Money In The World: Film Review

The tale of the kidnapping of Paul Getty inspired by true events and through the lens of Sir Ridley Scott has been blighted since it was unleashed.

Wrapped in a furore after Kevin Spacey's JP Getty had to be digitally removed and was recast as Christopher Plummer following sexual misconduct accusations against Spacey, the film was further hit by a row over pay parity when Wahlberg netted 1500 times more for his co-star Williams in subsequent reshoots.

Interestingly, what plays out on screen in the adaptation of John Pearson's 1995 book Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty is actually both sickly compelling and stultefyingly overlong.

All The Money In The World: Film Review

For those unaware of the 1973 kidnapping of the 16-year-old Paul, grandson of oil tycoon JP Getty (Plummer, in a commanding and cruel presence from the moment he shows on screen) the story follows the back and forth between the kidnappers, Paul's mum (Williams, all grace and clipped diction) and the investigator Fletcher Chase (Wahlberg, solid and dependable) hired by Getty to return the kid at the lowest cost.

Playing like an episode of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, the film's strength comes from its performance of both Williams and Plummer - and a compassionate turn by French actor Romain Duris - rather than for the strength and depth of its story-telling.

A few flashbacks give some heft to the emotional backstory within, but Getty's particular cruelty feels surface-deep, even if Plummer's nuanced veneer bristles with intolerable cruelty and distinct inhumanity.

But the film's strongest is Williams, a non-showy turn that has both poise and vulnerability as the mother caught in the middle of a tycoon determined to stand his ground and a situation threatening to reek of tragedy. A few lip trembles here and there amid a distinctly controlled performance from Williams grants the film the emotional edge that it so sorely needs and shows once again, that she's an actress of fine form and prestige in whatever projects she chooses.

All The Money In The World: Film Review

Ultimately, Scott's chopping back and forth in the story robs it of some its initial tension, though the suspense does build up at the expense of any true character depth - Wahlberg's CIA agent and subsequent change of mind is the worst served by the script and story choices.

In the final wash and when viewed away from what's clouded it, All The Money In The World could have used a slight cull and some tighter editing to ensure it keeps its vice-like grip tighter wound. It's a compelling, fascinating story, but bereft of some of its richer emotional edges, it teeters dangerously - and unfortunately - close to indifference. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Deadpool 2 : Film Review

Deadpool 2 : Film Review 


Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, TJ Miller, Morena Baccarin
Director: David Leitch
Deadpool 2 : Film Review

Deadpool is back after scabrously smashing box office records for R-rated superhero films with his 2016 debut outing - and it's no spoiler to say it continues the laissez-faire attitude, opening with Deadpool's severed arm flying out of the screen, middle finger firmly pointed in the air and heading towards the viewer.

In this sequel, which is actually at times, a more mature yet immature piece, Ryan Reynolds' scarred hero is looking at starting a family with his beau, Vanessa (Baccarin).

However, his plans are irrevocably changed when he's pulled into a side mission to save fire-flinging mutant Russell Collins (Hunt For The Wilderpeople's Julian Dennison, stepping up into the big league) from a time-travelling Terminator type, Cable (Brolin, this film's MVP in the back stretch, despite his initially monosyllabic ways).
Deadpool 2 : Film Review

Once again ramping up the irreverence and meta-touches, Deadpool 2 has no desire to conform to the norm, despite at its heart, being a film about family, in all its many dysfunctional ways.

Atomic Blonde and John Wick director Leitch packs in some truly solid action pieces, that pop and sparkle with slow-mo and frenetic moments aplenty, but yet which are so carefully choreographed that they don't fly by in  a blur, but impress with their pace and dazzle.

Deadpool 2 : Film Review However, it's still sadly fair to say that, in among the relentless Easter eggs and references, Deadpool's superhero world is still depressingly a boys' club (occasionally an unashamedly puerile one at that), and even the introduction of Beetz's Domino, with her own scenes to shine, seems initially more cursory than a full-on commitment the likes of which were offered to Negasonic Teenage Warhead in the first.

Thankfully, Beetz seizes with veritable aplomb the moments afforded her, and her central part in one action sequence more than capably demonstrates that women more than deserve their time to shine in these superhero films. It's a large case of women being used as narrative devices, rather than standalone characters that disappoints greatly here.

Horrendously sidelined or blatantly tossed aside, the portrayal of women in this film is a continuing worry - for a film that snubs conventions and that could use the meta to its advantage, it's extraordinarily tame at coming forward when it truly counts.

And yet, for all of its messed up family vibe and the manic intensity being ramped up in comparison to the first, and for reasons which are too spoilery to delve into, Deadpool 2 very occasionally nearly gets lost in some of the heart that's on show.

Granted, for every moment that comes close to sentiment, there's Reynolds' Wade cocking a snook to the audience; but unlike others of its ilk, where the flippancy overrules what few stakes there are, this actually works in Deadpool's favour.

Reynolds delivers an on-point performance, relishing every moment to shine, and allowing every snark and meta-touch to settle. As the film initially takes a little time to get going, Reynolds is saddled with a lot of the exposition, but as the messed-up narrative finally settles on a course for something of a bullseye, he more than delivers as his character doubles down on what made the first a R-rated hit.
Deadpool 2 : Film Review

Equally, New Zealand's Julian Dennison plays it more straight than you'd expect as Russell Collins. Essentially a warped mutant riff on and extension of Hunt for the Wilderpeople's passed-around-care Ricky Baker, Dennison shoulders a lot more of the dramatic, sidelining the comedy for something with a great degree of empathy and pathos in parts, for what little time he has (given he's more a cypher than a central character).  Brolin's Cable is a welcome presence too, with the straight man to Reynolds' quipping Merc-with-a-mouth.

While Deadpool 2 hits a bit of a lull in the final run, with quips starting to grate, and a feeling of repetition starting to overwhelm (certainly the post-credits sequences will leave you both laughing and scratching your head as you analyse the implications / relevance for what's happened over the past 2 hours), it's simply a film that fires on all cylinders and delivers what you'd expect - especially if you loved the first.
Deadpool 2 : Film Review

Once again, the Merc with a Mouth is a vehicle for the irreverence and the flippant, a blockbuster that offers puerile easy relief to an overly and increasingly pompous genre.

But be aware, it's not an entirely clear case that a third helping should deliver yet more of the same - and with its portrayal of females still something to be mastered, and a feeling of deja vu hitting the end, it's obvious that in future, this franchise may need to put its money where its continually smart mouth is.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Loving Vincent: DVD Review

Loving Vincent: DVD Review


Unfairly robbed of the 2018 Academy Award for the best animated picture, Loving Vincent deserves credit for blazing a trail and being innovative - even if its story holds it back.
Loving Vincent: Film Review

Told through rotoscoping (as used in the likes of A Scanner Darkly), it's the story of a Postman's son who comes to the last hometown of painter Vincent van Gogh to deliver the troubled artist's final letter and ends up investigating his final days there.

While Van Gogh is believed to have committed suicide, Armond begins to believe that Vincent was murdered rather than what was the conventional wisdom.

Using swirling imagery and in the style of Van Gogh's works proves to be a masterstroke for Loving Vincent, and the work done by the hundred-plus animators on the film literally drips from the screen.

Images dance from the screen, enlivened by the flicker of the projection - and while occasionally it feels a little like some of the big names stand out more, looking like animated entrants into Van Gogh's paintings themselves, the film's visual are awe-inducing, and the best way to celebrate Van Gogh's work.

Loving Vincent: Film Review

It very much feels like the paintings have been brought to life in front of you.

But unfortunately, some of the leaps of the story-telling and the narrative don't allow the film to provide the depth it's aiming for unfortunately.

Weaving in people doesn't harm, but the story barely progresses beyond its shocking idea that the death was misunderstood - and occasionally some of the scenes feel a little like they've been shot in front of a screen, and edited into the paintings style to continue the effect.

Ultimately, the emotional depth (or lack thereof) of Loving Vincent is what lets it down - its visuals are astounding and the oil painting aesthetic has truly raised the bar for what animation could do.

It's just a shame that the narrative couldn't keep up.