Month: February 2014

REVIEW: 21 & Over (2013)

  • Directed by: Jon Lucas & Scott Moore
  • Written by: Jon Lucas & Scott Moore

I remember when I first watched the trailer for this movie. I felt that it had potential, and I was really excited to see the writers of the original The Hangover-movie tackle something focused more on the younger audience. My focus group, I guess. Unfortunately, this movie did absolutely nothing for me. 21 & Over stars Miles Teller, Skylar Astin & Justin Chon as three best friends, on Jeff Chang’s 21st birthday, played by Justin Chon. Initially, I thought this movie might work well – I did somewhat like Teller and Astin as old friends, but their association with Chon’s Chang did not seem real enough.

It didn’t help that the friendship roles perfectly dealt in The Hangover, had been mixed together into these three guys. Skylar Astin’s character was a mixture of Justin Bartha’s Doug and Ed Helms’ Stu. Teller felt like an odd mixture of Bradley Cooper’s Phil and the Stifler-character from the original American Pie-movies. The drunk actions of Jeff Chang made him seem like a mixture of Ken Jeong’s Mr Chow and Zach Galifianakis’ Alan. With that being said, Jeff Chang did seem like a fine character when Justin Chon didn’t try to act drunk. I really like Sarah Wright, who played Nicole, and Francois Chau, who played Dr Chang, and I would’ve liked to see them in more scenes.

Overall, I felt that this movie tried to be like The Hangover too much, and 4 good acting performances were not enough to make me care for the overall plot. I really wanted to like this movie, sadly I did not.

Final Grade: 5.5 out of 10.0. Mediocre movie, too convenient ending.

– I’m Jeffrey Rex

Advertisements

REVIEW: The Last of Us: Left Behind (DLC)

Left Behind

Naughty Dog recently released downloadable content for its new potential super-franchise The Last Of Us. Now, I’m not a huge DLC-gamer, I tend to stick to the originally released story. Going into this story DLC I was very much afraid of it becoming too similar to the Tomb Raider feel, and I was really worried that they potentially would ruin parts of the game campaign I absolutely loved.

As you know, The Last of Us was a 10 out of 10 for me, and I was worried about how I would really react if they released something below average. I was really, really worried. It did not help when I was told one would play as Ellie throughout the game. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ellie – but Joel’s feel was special to me, and I would have loved something like a story DLC focusing on the twenty years prior to him meeting Ellie. Hell, maybe they’ll get to that in a later game . Now, as we move on – please be aware – this coming post is SPOILER filled. Also, know that the original game campaign will also be SPOILED somewhat.

If you played through the original campaign, you might remember Ellie talking about an old friend – mentioning how she got bit. That is one half of the DLC, the other focuses on the immediate period following Joel’s big injury. If you’ve played the original campaign, you should know what I mean – his injury right before winter. The DLC does a nice job of switching at important moments in both stories – and makes the total story theme work perfectly – fighting for life, for love, for friendship – being all poetic […]. Hint. Hint.

Don’t expect a lot with Joel, though you do see the ‘hero’ of the original campaign. Ashley Johnson returns to the game, and yet again is amazing as Ellie. Newcomer Yaani King is perfect as Riley, Ellie’s good friend. Their relationship is the heart of this tale, wherein we see the transformation that Ellie has gone through. Perfect moments include the two girls imagining a Tekken-like game, that hints to the original campaign somewhat. My favourite moment, though, was when they tried out masks. It was just a nice experience to have.

I’ve read other reviews of this DLC, and I do feel like most were right. I totally agreed with IGN’s Colin Moriarty, when he expressed that the combat felt forced – especially near the end of the game. Though there was a great use of the ‘distraction’ technique in this game, wherein you can eliminate danger perfectly by leading the infected to the humans chasing you and Joel.

Overall I felt that the DLC was amazing in story, but lacked a great deal when it came to active combat. The story added feel to the original campaign, and I think it left us at the right point. Some might argue that it wasn’t long enough, that you had to overpay for a short DLC – but I believe that the experience of Left Behind could leave no one wanting in story. Naughty Dog continues to shine.

Final Grade: 9.0 out of 10.0. An amazing stoy shines in a great DLC that forced some combat to appease a small part of its audience.

– I’m Jeffrey Rex

My 10 Most Important Games

Today I’m posting a Top 10 list of great games I’ve played in my life so far. A lot of top 10 lists are biased, even though they promise not to be. This time though, expect a biased list – for this is my own top 10 – not of the best games or of my favourite games, but the most meaningful or important games for me. I have been known as a Sony fan boy, but hopefully you’ll see today that I am much more than that; for Nintendo and PC were my early lovers in gaming before settling down with Sony’s powerhouse franchise, PlayStation.

Honourable mentions include: ThatGameCompany’s Journey (2012), Epic Games’ Gears of War (2006) and Nintendo’s Super Mario 64 (1997).

10 – Game: Grand Theft Auto III. Developer: DMA Design / Rockstar North. Release Year (EU): 2001.

This was the first really violent game I played, I think. At least the first game wherein I noticed violence and/or a change in feel. Now this was not the first ‘GTA’-game that I played, but the first one that I truly loved. I still have fond memories playing it on my old PlayStation 2, and to see the leap gaming has taken since then has been absolutely amazing.

9 – Game: MediEvil. Developer: SCE Cambridge Studio (PS Exclusive). Release Year (EU): 1998.

This game feels really old to me in memory, but it is one I remember loving. Maybe it was the feel, maybe it was the gameplay – but something kept me going playing this early on as a gamer. Sadly, this series is not really breathing today.

8 – Game: Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. Developer: Naughty Dog (PS Exclusive). Release Year (EU): 2001.

This was the very first game I played on the PlayStation 2, and I absolutely loved it. The PlayStation 2-generation symbolises the era in which I became something more than a Light Gamer, this was the era in which I began walking on the road to becoming a Heavy Gamer. I’m actually not sure how the Jak-series is looked upon generally, but I absolutely love that era in gaming.

7 – Game: Pokémon Yellow. Developer: Game Freak. Release Year (EU): 2000

This game series has been really powerful to my generation, both my generation of gamers and for simple anime-interested in my generation. It is the touchstone of the genre for me, the paramount level for Pokémon I’ve witnessed.

6 – Game: Bomberman 64. Developer: Hudson Soft. Release Year (EU): 1997.

I’ve counted 4 best friends in my life, and the first of these was Kasper from Copenhagen, Denmark. Kasper introduced me to a lot of things in gaming, one of these things were Bomberman. I would call this game addictive, and it really was for us year round. Today I get really nostalgic just thinking about the times we spent with this little game.

5 – Game: Gone Home. Developer: The Fullbright Company. Release Year (EU): 2013.

This last year was a big one for gamers of all types, and for me two stood out, one’s number 1 on this list and the other is this one. Gone Home is special for what it does not do, rather than for what it does. I’ve said before that you must play this game not knowing what it is really, for the story is simply amazing, and I’d hate for anyone to get that ruined.

4 – Game: Mario Kart 64. Developer: Nintendo. Release Year (EU): 1997.

This was another game Kasper and I played a lot, especially at his place. I think every kid, who acknowledges Nintendo, has a special spot in his or her heart for Mario. This game solidified his place, along with characters like Luigi. I vividly remember switching between Mario and Luigi every time we started a new race.

3 – Game: Tekken 3. Developer: Namco. Release Year (EU): 1998.

Remember when I said GTA3 was the first violent game I played, well evidently that is not true – but these games did not feel real to me, I guess that is why. This is probably the game I played the most with my sister growing up. My sister is not a gamer, I’d say she is way too casual to call herself that, but these types of games my sister always gets hooked by. To this day I remember how we nicknamed the characters fighting, and how, frankly, she’d beat me up when she was Yoshimitsu.

2 – Game: Crash Bandicoot. Developer: Naughty Dog (PS-Exclusive). Release Year (EU): 1996.

I think this was one of the first games I ever played on a console. I remember sitting in a Copenhagen apartment in my sister’s room (for some reason our PlayStation One console was in there) playing this all day long, my sister even enjoyed the game, as I understand. It is amazing for me to see how much Naughty Dog has ‘shaped’ me as a gamer in my life. For more on the developer, I suggest, and highly recommend, IGN’s piece on its history by Colin Moriarty.

1 – Game: The Last of Us. Developer: Naughty Dog (PS-Exclusive) Release Year (EU): 2013.

I’ve talked about this game a lot for a long time, and I’ve even blogged about it numerous times these last months, I believe. It is deserving of all the praise in the world. Writer Neil Druckmann, and the rest of the Naughty Dog-team, created a world that blew me away. But before commenting on the game itself, let me talk about the build-up briefly. It feels like ages ago it was announced formally, though I think it was in 2011 at Spike’s Video Game Awards – anyway, I believe that’s when I heard of it the first time. I was instantly hooked, and for a very long time this was the game I was anxiously waiting for, hoping for. I might say that it ruined other games for me, for in the time between the announcement trailer and the launch of the game I always focused on it – sat there waiting – Dualshock 3 in-hand. Eventually it released/launched in 2013, and my expectations were big – I, myself, thought I would be disappointed, thankfully that was not to be. PlayStation 3’s Swan Song The Last of Us is for me the greatest game personally, but also the greatest game I’ve ever played. Why? It is the perfect mix of gameplay, multiplayer, story and art in games. From the opening moment of the game to the much-discussed ending I was hooked emotionally. It has become my favourite game of all-time. I honestly don’t believe I’ll ever love a game more than this, but then again – who knows what Naughty Dog’s up to. For more on the game, read my award section for 2013 wherein the game received high praise as well.

I’m Jeffrey Rex

REVIEW: Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

  • Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée
  • Written by: Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack

Academy Award nominated movies tend to arrive in Denmark very late, sadly. The premiere of Dallas Buyers Club was only on the 6th of February 2014. With that being said, I was lucky enough to go one day earlier to an ’early showing’ at Cinemaxx in Copenhagen. My expectations were high, and I told my sister that she should expect a great movie too. The hype surrounding this movie in the States is massive, but it seems that it is nowhere near that level in little Denmark. Later I’ll explain what I mean, but first and foremost, let me announce that some spoilers will occur. You have been warned.

I have some interesting notes about the theatre experience later on, but let’s just go over the plot. Matthew McConaughey stars as a somewhat ’stereotypical’ Texan rodeo-worker, Ron Woodroof. Ron is living in a Rodeo paradise in 1985, lots of female sexual partners, great ’manly’ friends and a happy-go-lucky gambling lifestyle. Then he is hit with a stroke of realism, He is diagnosed with HIV, something he shrugs off as being a simple mistake. He keeps on living like he wants to, but life catches up to him and he finally understands that he only has a single month of living left. The search for a life-saving drug sends him to the hospital yet again, and here he meets Jared Leto’s ’Rayon’, a trans woman with a strong attitude. These two people learn to work together as they try to earn money and save lives in the process of selling drugs unapproved by the FDA.

Leto and McConaughey stand out in this character-driven story, one that is not necessarily written amazingly, but is simply executed perfectly by all-in actors, McConaughey and Leto. That is not to say that the writing is bad, but you do sometimes feel like you might be watching something else than an Academy Award nominated movie. I fear Jennifer Garner is a huge reason why. Her character is really important as the flower of Ron’s life, a doctor fighting for him and Rayon. Still, I fail to see her as a strong actor in this role, and the fact that she’s given nothing personally to get this role shines through. Her performance bothered me, for McConaughey and Leto simply were that impressive.

Cinematography-wise I would have done certain things differently, especially at the end of the movie. Also, there are some odd editing choices in this movie, and some serious time jumps that go too far. Still, as a character-focused tale, this works. I used to say something like Bale’s performance in The Machinist was the perfect example of an actor giving his all for the role, now I think McConaughey and Leto have beaten that drive in Dallas Buyers Club. To truly appreciate what they’ve given, research them; watch some of their movies. McConaughey is totally different in movies like Magic Mike and Sahara, and that transformation is unbelievable. Leto’s transformation is no less, but knowing his story it does make sense. His performances in Requiem for a Dream and Chapter 27 stand out – go watch them.

I rank this movie above The Wolf of Wall Street, and by Gravity. But these movies are graded for different reasons. One is an amazing Goodfellas-on-coke updated version for today’s audience, the other a cinematographically masterpiece. Whereas Dallas Buyers Club is proof that we still have great acting coupled with a will to give it all.

Quick notes on the theatre experience:
– The screen felt too wide.
– The theatre-go’ers had no idea what movie they were about to see. I heard the following conversation: “What was the movie called again? Dallas, something?” “Yeah, it’s with McConaughey and it’s about cowboys. It should be good.” “Yeah, he was pretty in Magic Mike!”
– Who brings a 10-year-old kid into this movie?

Final Grade: 9 out of 10. A movie about retaking life; spearheaded by amazing personal transformation for McConaughey and Leto.

-I’m Jeffrey Rex

What am I reading? 1 of 6

The following post is the first of six revolving around what I am reading (comics) in 2014. Every post will cover two months, and therefore this one will cover January and February.

My ‘Getting Back Into Comics’-post received good feedback. I was adviced to return to my Spider-Man roots, as well as to dive deeper into the world of Gotham. I’d say that I followed both advices somewhat. You know I am still in the process of reading the Guardians of the Galaxy, but I have yet to pick up the latest issues of it, therefore I will not go in-depth with that series in this post. So, Drax & Co. will have to wait for now. However, I did get to pick up some Marvel comics.

Yes, Carnage. I opened my former post with a picture of the said villain, and though I did not get to read more about Carnage in a traditional setting, I am now happily returning to Carnage – this time as the sole villain in this series. To be completely honest, I have not gotten around to reading this in January, but it will be read during the month of February, as I try to, not only return to comics, but to return to Marvel fully.

Owls, Owls, Owls.

Moving on now to something that blew me away. The New 52 was really interesting to me, it would allow me to get re-familiarized with some of the great heroes and villains of the DC-universe. I believe Scott Snyder is doing this Batman-run, and it really is amazingly entertaining for me. The opening issue has an ominous feel to it, and it just fits so well into my current mood and, of course, to the universe itself. Every cliffhanger I’ve read has been of the highest quality, and I can honestly say that without overestimating its level of writing. This series alone has me excited for DC Comics as a whole.

I’d love to go further into the story of the New 52 Batman, but I will not be spoiling anything in this post. Perhaps I will have a spoiler-filled review of Batman sooner, not 100% yet, though.

What have you been reading? Sound off in the comments, have any sort of opinion on the series’ I’ve mentioned, please give your opinion in the comments-section.

– I’m Jeffrey Rex