Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait Been meaning to watch this film for ages, and finally got the chance last night. The film follows one game against Real Madrid and Villarreal on the 23rd of April 2005. Zidane is my favourite footballer of all time, so it was interesting to watch just him for nearly an entire football match. I can see non-football fans, or even some football fans, finding the film boring. But, it's actually a pretty good piece of artistic cinema. Don't expect to actually watch a football match when you sit down to view this film though. Zidane was never a charmer, and this piece of film shows him warts and all. He sweats, spits and gives people the eye all the way through the game; much of the match is of him not even touching the ball. It's still interesting to see his interactions with the players around him and see how he's reading the game as it progresses. It's just another day at the office. He hardly shows any emotion at all throughout the entire game, until near the end where he erupts. The match is interspersed with tasteful tunes (the soundtrack is by Mogwai I'm lead to believe) and quotes from Zidane on life and the game of football - some of the subtitles are hard to read thanks to them blending in with the background. I think maybe you have to be a real down to earth football fan (or to have actually played the game) to fully appreciate the film; which I personally did. 8/10 for the film. 10/10 for Zidane as a player - 'cos he da best!
So says Jun Takeuchi. Taken from this article on CVG, it got me thinking once again about the state of the Japanese gaming industry. I've had discussions online and offline with friends about how the west has overtaken the east in terms of overall gaming quality and innovation - this has been the case for the past 5 or so years now. My personal view is Japanese developers are way too eager to try and make games which will directly appeal to the western market and trying to make games with a western theme, while forgetting that a lot of gamers like Japanese games because they were exactly that, Japanese games. Of course this can all be quite subjective and open to interpretation. But there's no denying that the Japanese have lost quite a bit of originality and innovation, while resting on their laurels. As Jun Takeuchi has said, Japanese games need to evolve and fast. What can be done? Less Lost Planet 2, more Bayonetta?!
Avatar First and foremost, as I'm sure all the people have already seen the film will testify, Avatar is a stunning looking film. There were moments where I honestly couldn't tell CGI from the real thing. By far the best visuals I have ever seen. The story is obviously an updated take on a very old tale: outsiders encroaching on native peoples land for either natural resources and/or the land itself. Whether this is a negative like many people have said, is another matter. I personally do not think it was. If viewers make the connection with the Na'vi and our very own habitat destruction while raising their awareness, it can only be a good thing. Though despite this, I imagine many will find this premise slightly pretentious. Regardless, the narative in Avatar is very well done and well paced. The Miyazaki masterpiece that is Princess Mononoke sprang to mind while watching Avatar; what with its emphasis on every living thing interlinking and being as one. I appreciated this aspect to Avatar, because even though I call myself an Atheist, I am very much interested in Shinto (even though Shinto is not technically a religion anyway). Obviously there have been many of our very own native people here on earth, from all corners of the globe throughout the ages, who have followed some sort of Animism and Polytheism. The past decade of terror and the various wars and battles in the Middle East, show their influence in Avatar - despite the fact that I've read James Cameron wrote the basis of the story in the 90's. The Last Samurai is another film which Avatar reminded me of. The Na'vi themselves bear more than a passing resemblance to native; indigenous; aboriginal people here on Earth. This will lead you no doubt to feel they're not alien enough or as I have mentioned, that James Cameron is trying to tell us something. On the subject that the Na'vi can come across as not very alien (in the true sense), I would say that all sci-fi comes from the human mind. The stories, lands, imagery we make up fantasy wise comes from our own shared experiences and our history as humans beings. As a big science fiction fan myself, for the film makers to go to this much trouble in realising the world of Pandora - with its rich, detailed enviornment and wildlife - was an absolute joy for me to witness. I personally watch films to escape (into a different world in this case), and for that purpose Avatar does a fantastic job. Performances for the most part were solid. I've only recently seen Sam Worthington for the first time in Terminator Salvation, and although he isn't exactly going to be winning any Oscars for his recent roles, he gets the job done well enough. He's no doubt a rising star. But yeah, films are subjective and not everybody will like Avatar. Some will see, hear and read about its success and before watching will already have in their heads: "So this is meant to be the best film EVAR, huh?! Well, we'll see about that!" All the time forgetting to switch off a little and just escape awhile. Of course, Avatar will just simple not turn people on or appeal to them; and there's nowt wrong with that. But for me, it was an endearing experience and beautiful one at that. 9/10 I didn't mean for my review to be that long. I do apologise if I bored anyone with my ramblings. I didn't want to go too much into the visuals of Avatar, so I got that out of the way from the start and concentrate on other areas more.
Although it doesn't exactly give much away from the short CGI (with mixed live-aciton, by the looks of it) trailer we've seen so far, I'm looking forward to seeing what the new title from PlatinumGames is all about - Vanquish. I know the genre has been done to death recently, but seeing as Mikami-san is heading the project, I would love it to be an over-the-shoulder third-person action game. It could be downright epic. That's what was lacking in Resident Evil 5 I felt, a Mikami-type figure for all those special little touches and bits of magic that punctate his games. I loved RE5, but it was just lacking something. Something which made Resident Evil 4 a proper classic. I absolutely loved Bayonetta, and it's so good to see all that talent at PG isn't going to waste. I'll definitely be keeping a close eye on Vanquish.
Black Dynamite (2009) Well, what can I say about Black Dynamite? How about, Tarantino and Spike Lee, eat your hearts out?! Fantastic take on the Blaxploitation genre. Stylish, ludicrous, cheesy, melodramatic and above all else funny. I did not expect to see Michael Jai White in a film like this, ever. He's usually so serious in his roles, but he plays his Shaft-type character extremely well. MJW is actually... funny. It's great seeing another side to his acting. He plays a righteous brother who is out for revenge when the mob kills his brother (blood brother). He's super cool and he knows kung-fu. Drives a $5000 car and wears a $100 suit. So many laugh out loud moments, I couldn't count. He uses a massive revolver, too. So so refreshing to see a film like this that isn't trying way too hard while coming across as pretentious. Every detail is there, from the on-the-fly production where Boom mics get in shot distracting the actors, to the sudden cutting of scenes and continuity errors (all done very well, may I stress). With MJW, you know you're going to get some decent moves where the fighting is concerned. Complete with comedy grunts also. This film is pure under-the-radar comedy gold. I urge everyone to watch it. Black Dynamite - 9/10.
Blood and Bone (2009) Very good underground street fighting movie set in the hood (though don't let your prejudices put you off from watching it). Good cast of actors for the most part - Michael Jai White, Eamonn Walker (who I loved as Kareem in OZ and is generally underrated I feel), Julian Sands, Nona Gaye and... Bob Sapp. :lol: For once, Michael Jai White isn't underused and performs his fight scenes extremely well. As with all good fight films, the fighting should be of a high quality throughout with the acting usually playing second fiddle. I say that, but the acting is solid enough for the most part. For such a big muscular bloke, MJW is quite nimble on his feet and bouncy. His kicks are of a really high quality, along with locks and snaps punctuated here and there. The story isn't exactly going to win any scriptwriting awards, but it isn't too shabby and is easy to follow, while not being convoluted like a lot of these type of films can be. It's good to see the West making strides in the fighting film genre. They're slowly moving away from the rigid, and now tame and boring, structure of Seagal, Van Damme and even Wesley Snipes. I hope these new crop of fighters keep up the high quality. For anyone who likes a good all-around martial art movie with a decent story, I can certainly recommend it. Blood and Bone - 8/10
This game is good, very good! I've noticed abit of slow-down, especially when entering a new area (I'm playing the 360 version by the way). Also when things get quite crowded it'll slow-down, but nothing major. The game definitely reminds me more of DMC rather than Ninja Gaiden. How you use and buy items, breaking objects and the general feel of the game is very Devil May Cry. I've not long got a sword though, which makes it feel similar to Ninja Gaiden in that respect - charging the sword up and unleashing hell, etc. Even though I've only been playing it for a few hours, I still prefer the combat mechanics in Ninja Gaiden. I can't see that changing any time soon really. But damn, the combat in Bayonetta is SATISFYING! Great little touches are sprinkled all over the place. I've died a number of times, a few times thanks to missing a quick-time event. :evil: I think like Devil May Cry, what the game really wants you to do, is to get to know each chapter so well you don't have to use any healing items and can blitz it without hardly getting hit, all within a quick time. In Ninja Gaiden, I try not to use any health packs and rely on health dropped from enemies or in breakable objects - but health seems to be rarely dropped in Bayonetta. Bayonetta is a pure assault on the senses. The combat is sooooo satisfying. Most of my rings/halos have gone on buying moves/techniques. Bought some superb looking moves so far, which I won't go in to here. The game gives you plenty of ways to dispatch the enemy, without feeling like you've got too many moves that your head is spinning.
So I've finally got to play the demo of one of the best combat games the world has ever seen (or so says the early reviews). Spent 30 or so minutes with the demo, and it was absolutely fantastic. The combat, which is the main thing in these type of games, is sublime. LOVE dodging at the last minute to activate Witch Time, I can see that sort of thing never getting old. So far from the demo alone, I prefer it over DMC4 which felt very slow in comparison to my personal favourite: Ninja Gaiden. Presentation is top notch, along with the visuals and sound. Day one purchase for me, definitely.
So, anybody else getting this? I've honestly been paying NO attention to the game, at all. I remember keeping track of the first game, and it did really interest me. But I never ended up buying it in the end, probably because of the repetitive nature of the game and the combat looked abit stiff, along with other games taking up my time. After reading some reviews and watching some gameplay from the sequel, I must say it's looking and sounding vastly improved and fun to play. Ubisoft have meant to have fixed nearly all the issues of the original.
I was asked what my favourite films were of the current decade on a forum I am a member of. After some thought, I came up with these 10. I'm sort of happy with the 10 I've chosen, though don't pay much attention to the order they're put in. 1. The Piano Teacher (2001) 2. Amelie (2001) 3. Spirited Away (2001) 4. Pan's Labyrinth (2006) 5. City of God (2002) 6. Secretary (2002) 7. The Last Samurai (2003) 8. Pitch Black (2000) 9. Black Hawk Down (2001) 10. 28 Days Later (2002)