Saturday, 29 March 2008

El Orfanato Espantoso (muy)

I hadn't noticed, presumably due to a low key marketing strategy that many good films fall foul of, particularly if they're (gasp) foreign, that The Orphanage has been out for a week. I was lucky enough to see it back in October at the Fright Fest in London, and made a note to keep an eye out for when it got released predicting huge waves of mega hit-dom. Alas that appears to not be the case, I've heard very little buzz around it, despite the few claims of it being "the new Pan's Labyrinth". Which it isn't. Although, it is in Spanish. And Guillermo was, you know, like the teaboy on set or something.

What it is is a deeply creepy ghost story in a very old-school kind of way. Big creaking houses (an old-school in fact - the titular orphanage). Children with unnervingly real imaginary friends. A sinister old lady with milk bottle glasses. It's all here. Throw in some of the most genuinely jumpy moments in recent cinema, and it makes for essential viewing. I seem to remember sleeping with the lights on that night. And that never happens, cos I'm well tuff. It's ghost children. They creep me out.

So why the low profile? Could it be due to recent real world events that disturbingly mirror some of the film's themes? Or is it just cos the kids can't manage films with subtitles? Whatever, if you can find it at your local cinema I urge you to check this out, as it's probably the best horror film I've seen since the Shining.

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Thursday, 13 March 2008

COD4: The new sickness

I used to be a very sick person. I used to have an illness called Counterstrike. I first contracted the disease some 10 years ago shortly before I went to university, through chance and reckless curiosity. It was virulent. I found my whole outlook on life had to change to accommodate my affliction. I couldn't go out. I stopped calling my friends. My worried parents tried everything they could to take my mind off my condition, but nothing worked. Gradually though, over time, its hold on me has abated, letting me live my life again, although right up until this year I have been susceptible to violent relapses.

Now though, just as my convalescence was going so swimmingly, I have a new sickness. It is called COD4. Contracted over christmas, this condition has all the hall marks of counterstrike. Sweating. Violent rages and swearing. Compelling gunplay. Yes its got me good. Especially with a little something called prestige mode, xp is like crack to me now, feeding my illness. Bad (good?) news is, with new strains about to be released, I may continue to be debilitated by this cancer for a lot longer. Won't someone help free me and others from this condition? No don't bother, it's part of me now. I have to live the best I can.

But to the creators of this affliction, for yes, it was created, I say this:

Dear Infinity Ward
Can I please have:
  • 5 new custom slots
  • 10 new maps
  • 20 new guns (including that sweet minigun)
  • 60 new perks
  • 80 new attachments
  • 100,000,000 new challenges. Including ones for pistols.



PS: would it kill you to give people credit when they down a chopper? I mean, seriously, I need more xp.

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Thursday, 6 March 2008

I am Legend: Damn those misguided suits

For I assume it was such a character who put the kibosh on this alternate ending for I am Legend - spoilers ahoy of course. I really quite enjoyed the film, and it was only the ending that spoiled everything for me. I can sympathise with the filmmakers for avoiding the ending of the book, although I'm sure the cinema going public would have accepted a well adapted version of it, but this seems an(almost) happy medium. It ties up a lot of the good work the film had done earlier, like the apparent intelligence of the floppy cgi putty creatures, using dogs and setting traps etc, and just downright makes a lot more sense. You can even nearly see Smith come to some sort of "realisation", as though he were feeling an emotion that was not his.

The suits here may have fallen foul of a "reverse se7en effect", whereby after some test screening some spotty subordinate poring over the comment slips piped up with "Horror fans like a fucked up ending", and everyone nodded in agreement. While this may be true when properly used, having your hero pointlessly blow himself up with a grenade is fucked up for all the wrong reasons. Lets not even mention the cowardly u-turn, "oh its the hippie commune there's still hope crikey will smith is a legend" finale, wisely culled in this new version, which has hope, sure, but not a lot.

It seems to me that these mainstream films, which really have no excuse for being bad because they're mainstream, should be paying more attention to the integrity of the story according to the progression of its themes and characters, and spending less time ruinously changing things because some test audience "didn't get it."

Update - Warner seem to have managed to get the video taken off gametrailers, but you can still see it at First Showing.

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Monday, 3 March 2008

Would you like some salt on that?

Should you have wandered through previously, you'll know I'm less than happy with the nintendo stars for wii points implementation. So it really raises my ire to receive patronising emails pointing me to online "tutorials" explaining how to redeem my points.

"If you ever experienced any problems swapping your Stars for Wii Points in our Wii Points Card Shop, take a look at the new tutorials we implemented."

The only "problems" I ever had are that you chimps see fit to never make any points available for sale. The "tutorials" make no mention of this potential "problem". In fact, "Step 3" as it's known couldn't be simpler: "Select the wii points card you want to purchase".

Is this a wind-up?

Ninty, I love ya, but by crikey I am going to twist your goddamn nuts off in a minute..

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