Friday, May 16, 2008

Oh god oh god oh god oh god

Via Rock, Paper Shotgun:
“I’m working on Beyond Good & Evil 2. We have been in pre-production for a year, and we’re carrying out research as a small team. But for the moment, this is at outline stage, Ubisoft hasn’t given its agreement yet.
We want to be in the continuity of the first: a large variety of play types, lots of emotions in the gameplay and from the supporting characters. This time we are dealing with the future of the planet, the rapport with the animals…”

Beyond Good & Evil is one of those games that should have been bought and loved by everyone, but mysteriously failed to find widespread adulation. Everyone went reaching for the Zelda comparisons when it came out, and not only because our lovely protagonists has a predeliction for wearing green, but instead of traversing some cod-medieval world, you get an alien planet filled with talking pigs, sharks, rabbits and most memorably, rastafarian rhino mechanics. It's about as charmingly Gallic and oddball since anyhing this side of Little Big Adventure. And instead of a lttle fairy-boy, you control an intrepid, charming journalist investigating the abuses of the military controlling the planet.

Why yes, I have a crush on Jade. I'm not ashamed to admit it. You'd have one too, if you'd played it instead of leaving it to wither on the store shelves.

You can start rectifying this lamentable situation by giving the demo a whirl. Or just go straight to hunting down a retail copy.

PS: Ubisoft, if you don't give Ancel a green light, I will BURN YOUR SHIT DOWN. You don't want your shit burnt down, do you Yves?

Friday, May 9, 2008


Shouldn't we be getting fed up with these found footage movies yet? Diary of the Dead, Cloverfield, and now this little Spanish horror flick. Wouldn't it be better if we said "Yes, you're tapping in to the zeitgeist, we're all a bunch of voyeurs. Well done! But Cannibal Holocaust did it almost twenty years before Blair Witch introduced it to the general public, so you're really not as clever as you think you are.", gave the director a tripod and told them make a proper movie instead?

A small team are following some firemen through the night for a local TV show called "While You're Sleeping". Halfway through a very quiet night, they get called to open an apartment. An old woman has been screaming something fierce, and they fear she's had an accident. Once inside, terrible things start happening, and when they make their way down with the first casualties, the building's been surrounded by police and is in the process of being quarantined. They're not getting out.

[REC] hits familiar beats for anyone moderately familiar with the horror genre, but it's genuinely well executed and the actors do a good job with what they have to work with. Being confined to mostly one building and one situation, the script doesn't let them display a lot of range. The most developed character unsurprisingly ends up being the the sassy anchorwoman, and Manuela Velasco has no problem holding the camera's attention. Clocking in at a snappy 80-something minutes, the latter half is almost constantly escalating tension. Aside from some shaky exposition about the ultimate cause of the events, there's very little to complain about here.

So shouldn't we be getting fed up with these found footage movies yet? Well, no. Not when they're this good.

And like every non-English language horror film released lately, it's getting a Hollywood remake. Although unless that footage of military people going in is trailer-specific, they've obviously already cocked it up. Have a Spanish trailer instead:

Monday, May 5, 2008

Iron Man

Observant readers might have have deduced that I really, really like comics. I'm a lot more ambivalent about the superhero genre, despite - no, because of - its ridiculous dominance of western sequential art. Obviously there's been some great work done in the genre, and you'll have to pry my copy of Watchmen from my cold, dead fingers, but having 90% of the output consist of people wearing their underwear on the outside of their pants really does nothing but stifle the medium.

The recent glut of superhero movies has elicited similarly mixed feelings, although that's more to do with their rather varieable quality than their role in the grand sceme of any industry. Batman Begins? Fucking brilliant, despite the obligatory descent into action in the third act. Spiderman? I never got further than the embarrassingly awful Forrest Gump bit on the bus before switching off the telly. X-Men? The character introductions were mildly diverting, but then the movie suddenly ended. X-Men 2? Aces. X-Men 3? No. Just no. Fantastic Four? I watched it on an airplane, and almost walked out. And I can't be bothered with Superman in any shape or form, except for when Batman beats the snot out of him in The Dark Knight Returns.

Thankfully, Iron Man is definitely belongs in the upper echelon of superhero movies, despite having a host of problems. The plot's another tired superhero origin, there's some serious handwaving going on with the whole shrapnel/heart situation, and the movie seems to attempt some geopolitical relevance before settling on being irrelevant fluff, leaving some of the earlier ripped-from-the-headlines images from Stark's captivity sitting uncomfortable and isolated.

(I don't mind people tackling controversial subjects in movies, and I didn't blink an eye at the suicide bombing/subway stuff in V for Vendetta for instance. But silly as it was, V was resolutely political. I start to squirm a bit when people drop stuff that reminds you of people getting beheaded on camera in fun popcorn fluff. Maybe I'm just getting overly sensitive in my old age.)

But all those objections melt away in the face of Robert Downey JR living it up as an irresponsible playboy (The man has a stripper pole in his airplane! Tony Stark really is a genius.), delivering zingers with impeccable timing, and constructing his Iron Man suit in almost pornographic detail.

Sadly, it occured to someone that this was in fact a comic book movie costing millions of dollars, and they had better get back to the plot and have a big robot slugfet to resolve it because that's what the kids want, and my interest waned. Jon Favreau is a sensible enough director to get the special effects out of the characters' way, but when it comes to delivering enough visual spectacle to amuse in a fight even when the outcome's given, he isn't up to the challenge.

The result's an uneven movie that's usually a ton of fun, mostly thanks to Robert Downey JR's performance (although he has some capable suppport from Gwynneth Paltrow and Jeff Bridges) before evaporating in a limp climax, and then suddenly rebounding with a brilliant final scene. I don't know if it deserves quite all the adulation it's getting, but it's more than worth the price of admission.

Still alive

Although the resolution to keep the posts coming was neither a triumph nor a huge success.

But despite all the evidence that points to me be being incapable of making regular posts, and the fact that I've probably alienated anyone even remotely internet meme-savvy by making Portal references, I'll not done with this blogging thing yet. Maybe the third time's the charm?