Life of Pi - Movie Review

In Life of Pi, we are told the life of Piscine Molitor Patel, or Pi, who allegedly has a story that can make one believe in God. In the hands of an unknown writer, he gives a retelling of how he survived for 227 days at sea, a tale of adventure and discovery, after a horrific accident on a Japanese freighter all the while establisihing a strange relationship with a peculiarly named fearsome Bengal Tiger.

Silver Linings Playbook - Movie Review

In Silver Linings Playbook, Pat Solitano, after being released from a mental institution is faced with the responsibility of turning his life around despite his problems to revive a relationship with his former wife. However, along the way, he meets this girl with problems of her own and by helping her, he might finally find that silver lining.

Les Miserables Movie Review - A Timeless Piece of Musical Cinema

In Les Miserables, we join Jean Valjean, who after serving his 19 year service in prison is now trying to rebuild his life after a kind gesture from an understanding bishop despite attempts at stealing silver from him. He then seeks redemption by taking on the responsibility of caring for a child from which her dying mother, Fantine, entrusted to him. All this in raw musical form.

Take Shelter Movie Review - An intense psychological dramatization of the apocalypse

In Take Shelter, a man is faced with visions of a unique and upcoming apocalyptic calamity and takes the necessary steps to protect him and his family.

John Dies at the End Movie Review - A Dark Comedy filled to the brim with personality

In John Dies at the End, Dave, John and their friends discover a new street drug called Soy Sauce that can send its users across time and dimensions. However, some people return as no longer human.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Apotheon Game Review: A Brutal Ancient Greek Art Game

We've seen this story before. A simple man versus the gods and insurmountable odds. Apotheon strips this ancient story to its very bones and what results is a very simple plot which is easy to follow. Story isn't Apotheon's bread and butter and it understands that by limiting story to brief conversations which serve to give you objectives to accomplish. This is an admirable trait as players who play Apotheon will do it for the bloody gameplay. Basically, the gods have abandoned humanity, causing death and destruction on Earth and Nikandreos with the help of Zeus' wife Hera, in an act of betrayal, plot to kill and dethrone the gods in hopes to save the world from destruction. Nikandreos, in part, is a very one dimensional character. He is for the most part, silent, and follows missions without question. Despite that, the game succeeds at letting the player feel the gradual improvement in strength of the protagonist the more he acquires powers from the gods he had slain.If you need more out of the story, the game provides very brief pieces of lore in the form of tablets scattered throughout the world however, Apotheon doesn't do a good job of making you feel the need to read more about its lore. They contain various information about the symbols or statues you see throughout the game, which are interesting but do not add that much to the experience. To those really into Greek mythology, there is a lot to read up on in the game. I still felt for Nikandreos despite all these little complaints albeit in a very basic way.
Greek painting come to life
The gameplay is part of what makes Apotheon shine and at the same time is also its downfall. Being an action sidescroller, you are provided with a variety of weapons to brutalize your enemies in many different ways. Unfortunately, the impact at which enemies are killed leave a lot to be desired. Though there is a liberal amount of blood on the screen, killing enemies feel generally unsatisfying. Every weapon feels different and all are capable of bringing death to your enemies. The weapons are also very aptly named and add to the immersion. Spears are Doru and Swords are Xiphos. You also have a selection of maces, bows and arrows, a really long spear called Saris and some ally summoning items. Support items are pretty standard fare. You have a multitude of buffs to speed and defense, a health potion and repair kits to repair your armor.

The durability mechanic ensures that you will be switching weapons constantly if you want to keep for as long as possible, for example, that awesome hammer that shakes the ground and deals massive area of effect damage. Switching weapons on the fly to suit your needs is exhilarating and is sure to keep you mindful of the weapons you are carrying. The inventory management though is generally unintuitive. You have four columns with which you can navigate with the use of the lateral directional buttons and each column contains different weapons from melee, to ranged, to utility and support items. Though you can switch weapons at will, it may take a few seconds of fumbling with the dpad to actually get to the weapon you need which may prove frustrating especially during the more chaotic moments of the game. The game also suffers from some bad AI and clunky controls. During a specific boss battle early in the game, the controls work against you, making the encounter more difficult than it should be. Which is a shame since said boss is one of the most unique bosses mechanic wise in recent memory. This may probably be a limitation of the artstyle. Still, the experience of killing these gods can be disappointing. The AI is easily exploited unfortunately and may sour moments that are supposed to be filled with tension. Barring that, the game features at certain points at the game truly special level design.

When it comes to the world, Apotheon makes use of relatively huge maps with different objectives and places to explore. The player gets to decide which objectives to tackle next. Think of it as a semi open world side scroller. After finishing a few objectives, usually involving the defeat of a god, the story kicks in further opening up a few more objectives until you reach the final boss. Its a very formulaic presentation and for the most part, works. There are some side missions to do but the game doesn't give you a compelling reason to complete them as they offer little to no incentive in return.

Brutal yet unsatisfying
The Greek painting aesthetic is definitely a breath of fresh air in the gaming landscape. The graphics are incredibly polished and even minor details not usually seen at a glance like the persistent wall texture where everything takes place make the game that much more engrossing. The experience is degraded though by some noticable framerate drops at random moments. The color grading changes depending on the area you're in and they fit perfectly with what we know of movies and shows based on Greek myth.

The marching, percussion heavy music instantly drew me in as I started playing. It is adequately powerful and epic and sells the grandiose adventure you embark on in Apotheon greatly.
From the dark depths of the underworld, the bloody crazed halls of Ares, to the mysterious, enchanting forests of Artemis, I deeply enjoyed what Apotheon offered, but unfortunately I also can't help but look back at the moments where I was either frustrated by the controls or disappointed by the AI. The game also crashed constantly, crashing around 8 times throughout my 10 hour journey. I still recommend the game to anyone looking for something quick to play on their PS4, but be prepared to struggle a little while playing.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Snitch Movie Review - More than the action packed film it was marketed to be.

In Snitch, John Matthews' son was set up in a drug deal and is set to be imprisoned for 10 years, and it is up to him to hopefully shorten his son's prison time even if it involves working undercover for the DEA.

The premise of Snitch is simple and it works well because of it. It is in many ways a family movie injected with thrilling action and some surprisngly moving emotional work. The thing that sets this apart from other movies in the same genre is its emphasis on characters and their humanity. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this especially in a movie starred by The Rock Dwayne Johnson whose known for his long wrestling stint and testosterone filled films.

The script was surprisingly good in this one and it showed especially in the characters. I cannot stress enough how the amount of action in the movie was much less than I expected and that was a welcome surprise. Instead you have scenes that build up the characters and develops them all throughout the movie. Ultimately, you feel for their predicament and get heartbroken at times. I wouldn't be surprised if someone cried at certain scenes because the acting for what its worth was amazing. Dwayne Johnson was a bit mellow at times when I expected him to burst out in anger, and their were some scenes that I thought were silly and served no purpose to the story, but it is all good because of the character development.

The Rock proves his worth as an actor in this one.
To complement the mellow Johnson is Jon Bernthal popular for playing Shane Walsh in The Walking Dead. Shane was my favorite character in the series and I was excited to see his first movie after the series. Needless to say, his performance was raw and intense in all the right places. He is a great complement to John Matthew's character and the best part is his story was also fleshed out. In a surprising turn of events, we have two well developed characters on screen with their own stories to tell. It was definitely a treat to watch on screen.

The directing really sold the movie well. Despite some issues with the heavy shaky cam, for the most part I thought the movie really flowed well and the pacing was good. It sort of had that indie feel and look to it as the camera was never stationary and it effectively showed the feel of each scene. It was a short movie to boot which shows that the director knew the story he wanted to tell and cut out all the fluff.

Why did they kill you off in The Walking Dead again?

Overall, Snitch was a very good time. It had its flaws and is obviously not movie of the year material but there was a lot to take away and definitely a lot to think about. I personally am not that much of a fan of all out action movies and thankfully this isn't one of them. It had more heart than I expected but it still kept the tense foreboding atmosphere all throughout. Definitely a flick to check out,

Friday, March 8, 2013

Stoker Movie Review - Provocative and Twisted yet Painfully Satisfying

In Stoker, we witness the death of India's father and how all of a sudden, her uncle, who she doesn't know of, comes into the picture. However, whoever knew the truth about her uncle and tried to get in the way of his relationship with India, dies.

Stoker is the American directorial debut of famed Asian director Park Chan Wook whose most notable movie is Old Boy. It was interesting to see how a director known for his style and movies that are filled to the brim with personality play out in front of a different audience.

In this case, Stoker was a great debut movie for probably the widest consumers of cinema but it still has its own faults probably brought about by a disconnect in culture and technique.

Stoker's narrative isn't its strong point. It does give some great insight into the twistedness and ingenuity in Park Chan Wook's mind but it ultimately falters at some points due to the many conventional plot points which took me out of the experience more than I would have liked throughout the movie. I have read elsewhere theories of supernatural hearing which of course is most likely not the case but is a manifestation of the narrative's shortcomings. In classic cliched fashion, characters had a sense of where each member of the family was despite long distances between them. They show up at the most conventional times I couldn't help but rest my head on my hands at some points.

Weirdly enough, she looks like Pocahontas.

We also have India's uncanny responses to events happening in the movie. For example, as India opens the freezer they have in a very dark and creepy basement I presume, she sees her frozen grandmother staring directly at her, lifeless. She doesn't scream or tell others. We just see her in school the next scene almost as if nothing had happened. But I have to say there were some scenes were I was just at the edge of my seat, mouth agape as the directing and the acting shined through.

I am definitely not messing with anyone with a piercing stare like that.
The acting in this case is what kept the movie safely afloat. India, her mother(played by Nicole Kidman) and her uncle(played by Matthew Goode) gave outstanding performances. Indie in particular played her weird and detached teenager roles quite perfectly given the almost silly kind of character she is. Nicole Kidman had one memorable scene regarding why people have children. The moment she told India that what she wanted for her was the opposite of the inspiring monologue she just gave was bone chilling. But in the end, it was Matthew Goode who stealed the show as India's uncle, Charlie. Charlie exuded a chilling and sinister aura rarely scene in villains who aren't openly psychopaths. Goode clearly tuned in to the nature of the persona he was playing and delivered on all fronts. The way he looks at Indie and her mother were some of the creepiest moments in the movie.

The directing too was incredible. It felt almost like a music video especially in the opening sequences. It flowed really well and it simply grabs you from the beginning and never lets you go until the ending credits. It had some very unconventional cinematography and there was no static shot to really talk about. It was all very dynamic and overall very involving because of this. I would like to commend the cinematographer and editor on this one for their work on Stoker was amazing.

He isn't what he appears to be.

The ending was for the most part satisfying. It made sense in the context of the movie despite it being a little fantastical or bizzarre. It was mellow but tense and I basically went out of the movie house believing that I watched a great movie. No, more like a really great movie.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Hello there! I present to you my first AFTER EFFECTS PRESET I have ever made. Up top is a video tutorial of how to use it. Feel free to ask me any questions about my EYE REPLACEMENT PRESET if you can't use it properly. Also, please leave feedback! It would help me immensely!



Sunday, January 27, 2013

John Dies at the End Movie Review - A Dark Comedy filled to the brim with personality

In John Dies at the End, Dave, John and their friends discover a new street drug called Soy Sauce that can send its users across time and dimensions. However, some people return as no longer human.

The short synopsis above, as trippy and crazy as its sounds, is exactly what the movie is about. In more ways than one, the movie is over the top bizzarre, features strange and uncanny humor and is edgy as much as it is crazy. It is also some parts cheesy and some parts silly but the best thing about it is that the movie knows it is that kind of film and delivers on that concept on all fronts. Well, at least during the first half.

One thing I have to say that really appealed to me in John Dies at the End is the incredibly well made opening scene. The first few moments grip you easily as you try to figure out what this movie is actually about. You get some elements of suspense and action with some drops of horror with a great big splash of crazy. The opening scenes will end and you can't help but say "What the hell am I watching? It's awesome!". Then you are given some more context about the whole gist of the story from which you find out John Dies at the End is really interesting and intriguing and you can't wait for everything else that happens in the movie.

The meat monster. Hilarious.
But sad to say it didn't hold on to the very intriguing philosophical and silly vibe it had going for the first half of the movie. I found myself quickly losing interest as the jokes and scenes became more edgy and the plot just turned in on over itself. It's basically about this new street drug that grants the users the power to see the flow of time and participate in the different dimensions. Then our heroes suddenly realize a supernatural invasion of the world will live in is quietly brewing and it is their job to stop it. The moment our heroes delved in deep into this important plot point is where I lost interest.

I love the questions and concepts posed by the movie like how a word we hear for the first time will resurface again within 24 hours. Another example is the amazing interpretation of time and space by an important Jamaican character and the scene where different types of meat converged to form one hideous but hilarious looking monster. It was themes and concepts like these that I was looking forward to in the movie but they never really delivered on those things. By the end of the movie, everything just went all out crazy which left a bad taste in my mouth. I wish they touched on the time aspect more and gave it more of a foundation since I thought their concept of time was really unique.

I just lost interest by this part.
The special effects though had a cheap B-rate charm to them. I love the fact that they didn't use CG whenever they wanted. They had a lot of practical effects which added to the movie's personality. And this movie is without a doubt filled to the brim with personality.

If you're a fan of over the top and cheesy jokes, genital humor and crazy stories then this movie is for you. However, if you are like me, who has some sort of imaginary limit to the craziness I can absorb then I still urge you to watch it. I am a very eclectic movie watcher and John Dies at the End was ultimately really fun but in the end it just wasn't for me.

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