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Telltale Tackles Game of Thrones

Telltale forays into TV adaptations bringing Game of Thrones to the video gaming world.  The first installment was released for the PlayStation 3 last week, and fans devoured it.

The six-episode sage follows House Forrester, a less prominent house which the game could really expand on, and how they move through the war ridden world.  The Foresters span the lands giving view points from Ironrath, Kings Landing, The Wall and Mereen as they interact with character prominent in the show. Happily, these characters are voiced by their respective actor.

Iron from Ice introduces player to the key family members in House Forrester. You begin as Gared Tuttle a family squire who delivers the House’s sword when the Lord of the house is killed. The children Ethan, Talia, and Ryon deal with taking over the house and the pressure of Ramsey Snow. Meanwhile, Mira is in King’s landing trying to get help from Margaery Tyrell.

Overall, it is a fantastic game. The controls are fantastic as Tell Tale has learned a lot since that first Walking Dead Episode.  The game is smoother integrating the right and left hand easily. Game-of-Thrones-Telltale-6

The atmosphere is typical of Tell Tale Games, and the opening sequence from the TV show is recreated in the game high lightening the major places on the episode. This is a great homage making the show seem more organic. The only downside to the atmosphere is that many of the background become blurry like hazy paint brush streaks and characters become blurred when walking past these areas.

The plot continues in the Game of Thrones tradition, so be prepared for betrayals and deaths galore. In fact, this episode packs a huge emotional punch reminiscent of the work of George R.R. Martin. Download Telltale Games A Game of Thrones and become immersed in Westeros.

Fall Movie Snapshot

Horrible Bosses 2

horrible_bosses_2Need some adult movie time? This movie is your best bet. When Nick, Kurt, and Dale (don’t say that too fast!) are cheated out of payment by an evil CEO, they kidnap his psychopathic son in order to collect the ransom for their lost money. But of course these guys aren’t smart enough to pull off a kidnapping. Hijinks ensue as the three men run into their old bosses, break into houses, and orchestrate the greatest ransom drop ever. This movie is ridiculously fun, and you’ll leave the theater feeling better about your day.

 

Mockingjay Part 1

15558194588_9309c0692a_kThe studio decided to split the final installment of the Hunger Games, Mockingjay, into two parts giving viewers more time to really see what pain is caused to the victors of the Hunger Games. Katniss must deal with becoming the Mockingjay and leading the revolution while reeling from the horrors of the games. It doesn’t help that Peeta is still in the Capital and speaking about a cease fire. This movie is emotion filled but it’s the weakest in the series. And fans will have to wait a year for the explosive conclusion.

 

Big Hero 6

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This fun, family film is a lot of laughs. Young Hiro inherits Baymax after his brother’s tragic death. The robot is made to be a nurse drone but Hiro gets him ready to do battle against the a villain who has stolen Hiro’s technology and using it for evil. The film blends action, humor, and emotion. A story about what really makes a hero; this animated film is a great solution for family movie time.

 

Gone Girl

4121433fGone Girl is hands down the most anticipated movie of the Fall. People devoured the book about a wife that goes missing and all signs point to her husband killed her. The movie stays mostly true to the book, and the twist is amazing. But the story doesn’t stop there. It continues to twist and turn into the bizarre. Instead of being a psychological look into the minds of married people, it’s weird mind bender. I can say one thing for certain, if you haven’t read the book, you won’t see what’s coming!

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Theirs is the Fury

Everyone is talking about David Ayers’ new project Suicide Squad spreading rumors and guessing at casting. But let’s take a minute to look at Fury, Ayer’s World War II tank crew ode. The film is compelling, sad, and brings to life the true courage of those who worked in the tank squads.

During World War II the Axis’ tankers were far superior to those of the Allies. Most tank squad lasted about six weeks but the story follows a team that has been together for four years. When their gunner is killed, the position is filled by Norman Ellison, a military typist. He has not seen battle and is not used to the brutality. But working under “War Daddy” he quickly sees what the war really is: death and destruction. As the tanks move through the German landscape, Ellison bonds with his team and, when it comes to a final show down, they band together to hold off the Germans.

The cast works well together. Each actor takes their role and makes it their own. You’d never believe that they are the guy from Interview with the Vampire and the kid in Percy Jackson and the jackass from The Walking Dead. Brad Pitt, Jon Bernthal, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, and Michael Peña round out Fury’s squad and each one brings something to their role whether it is innocence, leadership or faith.

But is the realm of the movie that affects you. Ayer doesn’t shy away from the hard truth of war: violence and cruelty ran rampant. Soldiers on both sides committed offenses. You see the terror in their eyes. You realize how desperate the Allie was coming for soldiers near the end of the war. You see the struggles of having les advanced equipment. This is not a feel good movie but an ode to those who served.
I had some one tell me the movie was missing something. Not a lot of time is spent the men’s home lives. They don’t reminisce 1413227235_4much about their lives at home but pictures of their loved ones are clearly shown. This helps keep the story in the now and focusing on the present action. But the biggest thing missing is there is no happy conclusion at the end of the film. There is so write up about how the team managed to complete their task and win the war. This is because Fury is a fictional tale. Ayers used a composite of different stories about tank teams to create this one story. So while it doesn’t give you the kind of closure you expect from most war movies, it is still a brutal look at a different section of the military during WWII.

Overall, Fury is a moving film. It looks at the complex world of war with realism. You hate the characters and you love them. It helps us realize what people did to secure our freedom, something we often take for granted.

By the Book: Horns

Joe Hill is an amazing writer weaving unique tales of the macabre.  Through his various novels and comics, Hill has made a name for himself outside of being Stephen King’s son. It is no surprise that his materials have been made into a movie. The adaption of his novel Horns hit theater for Halloween but lacked the intricacies of the novel.

horns-book-coverThe movie follows the same basic premise. Ig’s girlfriend is killed and he is the prime suspect of her murder. The evidence neither clears nor condemns him but he must deal with a town that persecutes him anyway. One drunk, emotional night, Ig wakes up not remembering what he did the night before but finds horns growing on his head. These horns have the ability to make people tell him their darkness secrets, bringing out the devil inside them. The story follows Ig as he adapts to his new talent and as well as solves the mystery of his girlfriend’s murder.

The movie is enjoyable but never reaches its full potential. Unfortunately, Keith Bunin, the screen writer, decided that lots of changes needed to be made to Hill’s tale. The problems start immediately as the movie opens with gushy platitudes and fuzzy emotions that would never appear in Hill’s work. This continues to be a flaw throughout the film, each change softening the edges too far. And it’s not just the additions that hurt the film. Bunin chooses to cut vital information that leave major plot holes. Spoiler: the movie never explains how the horns came about.

Ironically, as most of the changes of the book are the movie’s down fall, the best scene actually does not take place in the book. horns_ver5_xxlgThe movie is at its height when Ig uses his powers to make paparazzi battle themselves to Marilyn Manson’s cover of “Personal Jesus.” This scene manages to define the theme the movie is trying (but never manages) to portray: revenge, though sweet, causes our downfall.

Daniel Radcliffe is the perfect Ig brining to life the description of the character from the book, and the character is pretty spot on. But most of the other characters are warped. Juno Temple’s Merrin is a travesty of the original character and I know the book version would have a few choice derogative terms for her portrayal. She’s not the only one changed. The brother becomes more melodramatic and the true villain is skewed from the start of the film. The characters needed none of these changes, and it detracts from the tale that Hill was actually trying to tell.

The movie is enjoyable if you haven’t read the book but I would never suggest it to you. Instead I would send you straight to the bookstore or library. Horns is a dish best severed in paper format.

Ultra-Violence and the Equalizer

Hype set up Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington’s latest pairing. After Training Day, critics were chomping at the bit for this TV show modernization. The trailer for the vigilante justice film The Equalizer had fans lining up. However the film fails to hit any emotional note but instead is moved forward by unneeded ultra-violence.equalizer
Robert McCall lives an ordinary and simple life. He spends his days working at a home store and spends his sleepless night at a diner reading. He has a peculiar habit of timing himself at everything and shows various signs of OCD, so Bob is a little off, but seems like a nice guy. But then a teen hooker and acquaintance of his is beaten nearly to death, and Bob decides that he must do something about it. He takes on the pimp and his four goons in a matter of minutes. This starts a trail of actions leading him further into the mobster world.
The original series in the ‘80s was known for its violent realism but this movie goes beyond that. But there is no deep purpose for the level of violence bestowed on the bad men. There was no philosophical discussion of them deserving such brutal ending such as being hanged by barbed wire. It is just the tool the movie uses to entertain culminating to a Walking Dead-esque massacre. Fugua hopes that through violence and editing you will miss the flaws in the film.
These flaws include a lack of buildup. It takes forever for the plot to establish itself. In an effort to show what a basic and simple guy he is, too much time is spent showing his mundane activates from encouraging co-workers and washing his dishes. Its great pay off when he finally plays karma to the pimps, but the story gets dragged down into the organized mob. Instead of developing the character or taking a new spin on the lone hero, viewers watch him show a shot class into one of the villain’s eyes.
I was truly disappointed in the film as I loved Olympus Has Fallen. But this movie not only failed to channel the ideals from the TV show but it failed to be anything other than a man violently killing bad people.

By the Book: The Maze Runner

Very rarely does a movie adaptation do the book justice. For every Hunger Games there is a Mortal Instruments. Luckily, The Maze Runner does well translating the literary onto the big screen.

the_maze_runner_book_cover_01Thomas awakens in a moving elevator not knowing who he is or where he is. He is introduced to a group of boys named The Gladers, the inhabitants of a lush valley. But beyond the valley is The Maze, a dangerous puzzle that the boys try each day trying to figure out how to solve and escape captivity. Thomas is just the many is a long line of boys who are sent to this world not knowing their purpose. But then suddenly things change when girl is dropped off along with a note saying she will be the last. Suddenly, the game seems even more dire.

The movie makes minimal changes, usually to facilitate the movie’s action. The biggest change is the complete removal of Thomas and Teresa’s telepathic link. In fact, Teresa herself is mostly down played.  In the book she is unconscious when she arrives. In fact, she talks to Thomas telepathically and tells him that her appearance has triggered “The Ending.”  This is the first of many clues that she and Thomas are not only linked but that they have something to do with what is happening to these boys. The two make use of their telepathy many times throughout the series, so it will be interesting to see how this deletion changes the aspects of the other movies.

The movie is a beautiful representation of The Glade and The Maze. It looks exactly as I hadMV5BMjUyNTA3MTAyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTEyMTkyMjE@__V1_SX640_SY720_ envisioned it except for The Maze walls. Due to filming limitations, you can see the ends of the massive walls but this allows for gorgeous Ariel shots of not just The Maze but the boys’ habitat in relation to The Maze. The production team manages to make the whole area beautiful yet unsettling.

The casting fits perfectly. The group of boys in the book has a wide variety of nationalities, ethnicities and ages, and the movies portray this well. No character is white washed and except for two of the actors, everyone is a relative unknown. This helps when casting an isolated, post-apocalyptic movie. It seems more real when Tom Cruise isn’t being reborn every five minutes. My favorites include Patricia Clarkson and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Love Actually, Game of Thrones). Clarkson is perfect as the tester who makes a short but impactful appearance about the boys’ origins, and Brodie-Sangster is perfect as Newt, a fan favorite. He balances the aspects of being a leader as well as a scared teen boy well.

The Maze Runner made almost all of its $34 million budget its first week, and the sequels have been ordered. In fact, another Game of Throne actor (Aiden Gillen) is set to join. Here’s hoping the sequels will be as true to their book origins as this one was.

 

 

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Life, Death, Beth

Life After Beth looks at love and zombies. Unlike a similar zombie love story, Life After Beth does not get existential nor does it give a point about life. Instead the dark comedy starts off entertaining but then plods along like a zombie in the last stages of decay.

Zach is emotionally lost after his girlfriend Beth dies from a snake bite. He visits with her parents and plays chess with her father to help them both mourn. Then suddenly the Slocums stop answering the door or the phone. Zach finds out that Beth is alive. At first he thinks Beth’s death was a hoax but then it becomes apparent that the girl he knew has changed. She is in fact a zombie. Zach is faced with conflicting feeling: relief that she is back and fear for what she has become.

The set up for the movie is great. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy loses girl. Girl comes back to life. Boy gets girl back.

It’s an interesting concept that makes you think about what it would be like if your loved one did come back. The movie is balanced with humor to keep it from becoming a mushy mess. But then the movie takes a weird turn leaving behind the emotional struggle Zach goes through.. A second love interest is awkwardly added in and more zombies arrive.  . Had the movie the movie just followed Beth and Zach, the film’s themes would have been more clear and the movie would have been more enjoyable.tumblr_n8vggp44841qgbfyko4_1280

The best part of the film is Matthew Gray Gubler as Zach’s spaz of a brother.  A security guard for the neighborhood, Kyle pines for more and is always ready to put a perp down. Gubler captures the spaz aspect easily and it is fun to see him more than the nerdy Reid from Criminal Minds. Gubler handles the humor with ease and gives the best performance in the film. John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon dazzle as Beth’s confused parents but the rest of the cast falls short of truly capturing their character with finesse and grace.

Funny but often absurd, Life after Beth tries too hard to be more than a typical zombie flick.  What begins as a supernatural dark comedy turns into a zombie cliché mess. It’s worth a watch but it isn’t going to be a landmark of the genre.

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The True Gift of the Giver

In 1993, Lois Lowry wrote the world of dystopian future in a way that children could understand. Most of these tales were saved for adults reading science fiction, making statements to people who had already grown into their world. The Giver gets on the level of the younger generation helping them develop real ideas about free will, love, and hate.  This novel is a segue for future authors such as Suzanne Collins. This Newbery Medal winning book is the latest in YA adaptions.

The big screen adaptation brings the story of Jonah to life. As he graduates from school, Jonah learns a lot about his world he never knew. Set in the future, the peaceful Community follows specific rules that keep people from deviating from the norm and doing anything that could crush the delicate peace. The Community knows that it must not forget the past, and designates one person to be the Receiver of Memories. Jonah is chosen as the next Keeper, and he trains with the current Keeper. Jonah learns about colors, love, war and free will. He realizes that the Community is not as perfect as it claims to be.

The Giver has faced a lot of criticism for its lack of thrills. But this movie is not The Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies. The central themes are about peace and free will. It is a statement about violence without using violence to combat it.  Jonah is motivated by love to change the world. He sees the whole spectrum of what can happen when humans have emotions and he decides it’s a gift people need. The book is twenty years old but it still applies today. We have a lack of empathy for our fellow man as a society and often fall on negative emotions and rely on violence as our answer.Jeff-Bridges-Brenton-Thwaites-The-Giver-Movie

The movie is also visually attractive and different from others in the genre. The Community starts in black and white and colors only revel themselves as Jonah learns about them. This gives a very organic feel to how one dimensional the society is.  Unlike many dystopian socials, the set is not barren and desolate. The homes look futuristic but real, and there is plant life prominently featured. This set dressing gives a distinguished look of a very different kind of story.

The Giver is a poignant story that deals in emotions. Emotions of the characters as well as emotions of the viewer. Seeing the world again through Jonah’s eyes gives hope.  And that is the true gift of The Giver.

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Locke In

Tom Hardy has received massive critical acclaim in his newest movie Locke. An indie British flick, Hardy is the only man you see on screen. The movie is thought provoking but lacks the bite it needs.

Locke follows Ivan Locke on his hour and a half drive to London.  On that drive Locke decides that he must do the right thing so someone’s life does not end up like his. But as he drives he must deal with the fallout in his life and has to realize how many other lives are on the line. Locke finds that not only his home life but his work life is on the line as well.

It’s clear to see why the critics love Locke. Hardy is a magnificent actors and this real time excursion allows him to showcase his full acting tool box. He easily and believably runs the gamut of emotions and makes viewers feel each one. Because of this the movie leaves you with a visceral feeling as your drive away from the theater (or from your home as the case may be). Viewers truly see how easy it is too lose everything you know; how one mistake can cause you to loose your job, your family. Locke excels at making you think and feel.

What Locke does not do is giving viewers a satisfying ending for a man and his transgressions. Ivan Locke is unlikeable. It’s hard to imagine that he was ever more than he portrays himself in the movie though it is fun to see him move towards a nervous breakdown. But there is no payout.  His punishment is too pedestrian to be art and that is what viewers expect from this film.

Hardy walks the fine line of commercial and critical success even though he is not yet a household name. He chooses roles that allow him to fully become the character, but sometimes that isn’t enough Sometimes viewers just need to feel good about a movie.

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Some Girls Just Seem Smart

Every so often, a body of work comes along that is truly a great example of a certain genre or medium. Often the producers of such work cannot recreate subsequent projects with the same quality no matter how much the fans the want it. Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element is a masterpiece in the science fiction genre that combines a fantastic story with brilliant execution. But many of his subsequent movies leave a lot to be desired. Lucy is a perfect example of this.

Scarlett Johansson stars as the titular Lucy, a girl caught up with the wrong crowd. She inadvertently delivers a batch of new drugs to a kingpin who then uses her as a mule to transport them. But Lucy is beaten and the drugs leak into her system overriding her neurons and activating new parts of her brain. She develops amazing powers but learns she must have the drug or her body will literally dissipate.

The move is odd and hard to describe. The goal was to be an intelligent look at something that is often theorized in science. What if humans could use all their bran instead of just 10 percent we currently use? But the movie isn’t as smart as it thinks it is.

The biggest issues are the multitude of plot holes. She can tell what’s going to happen outside a building because she can read everything around her? Great. But then how come she doesn’t know someone a block away is following her? This is just one of the many instances that Besson just changes the facts to suite his plot purposes. Even Lucy’s words ate the end of the film are contradictory to points the made earlier in the movie.j4b3g305e1nl-is-scarlett-johansson-s-lucy-just-going-to-do-this-the-entire-movie

On top of this, the movie is interspersed with other aspects of the animal world to parallel human evolution. They are implanted into the movie jarring you away from the actual action of the movie. The filmmakers throw the comparisons in your face making sure you understand what they were trying to say.  The movie is about as subtle as Shark ado.

The film tries hard to balance humor, action, and dramatic plot line but it can’t seem to handle all three. The climax goes very much into the metaphysical leaving you confused of its purpose. Had Lucy just been cool action flick or a sci-fi drama, think I would have enjoyed it more. And no, Lucy, I don’t know what you are trying to say.