Monday, December 31, 2012

Les Miserables

You know what? This movie is actually okay!

Well, at least it got an applause towards the end, so, I can at least say that people actually enjoyed this movie. But, even from where I stand, the movie is never really boring. Yeah, I could feel it's length after a while, but it kept my attention all the way through.

Yeah...that's about as much as I can say about this movie as a review...

So, let's talk about the musical side of this movie.

The movie plays out as an opera where almost everything that is said is sung. They converse through sing, they think through singing, they have action singing....sort of, basically, everything is about singing.

The thing is, I kind of have an inherent problem where a story is told when it's nothing but singing. Not that it can't be done, but, pretty much all of the times where a story was being told through music, the music sounds kind of forced in order to get something that's coherent to be said. In other words, a lot of the dialogue sounds like "Hey! Look at me I'm talking, but I'm not sure what melody I'm singing, but I'm still singing...sort of..."

I actually have this problem with the few rock opera albums that I've listened to all the way through. The story needs to be told coherently, so, the music kind of takes a hit because of this. I'm probably the only person who was bothered by this, not because I actually know a thing or two about music(I mean, I kind of do, but it has nothing to do with my taste on music), it's just my brain gets frustrated when it's listening to a song and it has nothing to latch on to. Well, it was focusing on how forced the music sounded. This only really happens when people are talking to each other. When people are singing by themselves, it actually does have a flow.

Also, the reason why I could feel like the movie was dragging was because the music kind of gave the movie an excuse to drag out every scene to make sure that we "get" what's going on and what the character's are feeling at the moment. "Holy crap! I just briefly got a glance of someone I think I'm attracted to? Let's sing about it for more than five minutes" or "I'm really sad, let me dwell on this for a really long time in this sad and somber song."

Also, this is just me, but I have a REALLY hard time listening to lyrics when it comes to songs. Most of the time, it's because I can hardly understand what the people are even saying. Here, it was mostly okay, though, there were a lot of times where I was kind of taking a (surprisingly accurate) jab at what was going on based on the context of the singing rather than the actual lyrics. That's just me though, it seems like other people have no problem with this.

If one thing though, it does a pretty good job with big elaborate, musical sequences. In fact, it's pretty fantastic in this regard. My favorite scene was the very beginning where it had big epic music with people tugging on a boat in a very elaborate manner that fit with the music.

Since this is the movie after the French Revolution and the fall of Napoleon, it means there are fun and happy times where Anne Hathaway has to sell her body in order to help take care of her child and Hugh Jackman gets chased down by Russel Crowe, playing Captain Crunch in this movie who is chasing Hugh Jackman because he escaped parole, while also taking care of Anne Hathaway's daughter....because she's dead now.

Like I said, it's a pretty fun and light hearted movie, and will be sure to put a smile on your face for the first 20 minutes of this movie!

All joking aside, the movie did keep me involved and the adults in this movie were incredibly sympathetic. Then again, everybody in this movie is a pretty tragic mess.

I didn't care too much for the love story of Amanda Seyfried and some other bloke who was....just some guy. I mean, some people might get into the whole "Love at first sight" thing, but, all it really was to me was just two fairly attractive people who fancy each other.

Feel free to call me soulless in the comment section now.

Wow....I actually had a lot more to say about this movie than I thought I would.

All in all, it's a pretty emotional journey that will take you through the harshness and cruelty of life with its misery, pain, death, and suffering.

Oh yeah, and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Assassin's Creed 3 - It was kind of terrible!

You might be wondering why my next thing is over a video game when I made this blog for movies while also writing for a video game site already. Well, anything that I say about this game is basically just going to amount as a review and we already have a review written by someone else on that site. So, can I also talk about video games on this thing? Alright, cool!

Anyways, on to Assassin's Creed 3...

It was was really, really awful!

The Assassin's Creed games have always been at least interesting, and there are at least two games I'm willing to say are genuinely good. The first one did have some major problems but it was also something different, unique, and it was running on a pretty great theme. The second game decided to drop the theme, but it looks like they sacrificed it for smoother and better gameplay. Assassin's Creed 2 is probably the best game in the series, but I'd say the first game should get the most recognition for being a well taken risk and all the second game had to do was build on that.

After those two games, the series felt like it didn't know where it wanted to go after that, other than be a series with a really dopey conspiracy story. Brotherhood and Revelations were more or less padding out Ezio's story, but at least they not only wrapped his story, they also wrapped up Altair's story, which was a really pleasant surprise.

So, now, we can get into the third installment in the franchise.....and they not only threw everything that was interesting about the series, they really wanted to put all of the problems the series has been dealing since the beginning on full display. Problems I had with the series, like story structure and major pacing issues, seem to have been amplified while the strengths that the series has been running off of, like assassinating guys and the parkour style of exploring, has been shoved off into a corner and are not the focus of the game anymore.

The entire game is really just a bunch of cut-scenes that are loosely tied together by a bunch of small mini-games. This wouldn't bother me as much as it would sound like, but the story that focused on in this game is boring. So, they try to make sure that the things they make you do make sense in context of the story. So, you'll be commanding armies, riding along with Paul Revere in order to let people know that, yes, the British are coming, and you'll be doing battles on ships. Actually, the ship battles are the coolest part of the game and the few times I actually wasn't bored. You control the movement of the ship and you get to tell the gunners when to fire. And during the times you have to fight more than one ship, the battles can be pretty intense. It sounds like it could be a basis for a really cool pirate game.

Other than that, the game part is more along the lines of you getting from point A to point B in order to continue the story. And since the game seems to be son interested in its dopey story, lets tear it apart.

Like I said earlier, the games have suffered from major pacing issues, but since this is the first game to actually let the story get in the way of the gameplay, it becomes one of the biggest problems this game has. The game is really all about you experiencing the founding of the United States, so it makes sure to put every recognizable event into the game while also trying to connect it all together with a barely there over-arching story involving a conspiracy with an antagonist that the main character Connor has to go through.

It doesn't help that Connor manages to be an even more boring character than Altair in the first game, but at least with Altair, they passed him off as some sort of stoic and silent bad ass. Here, they actually try to make a protagonist as a fully developed character....and it comes off as a literal check list of the Hero's Journey. Except, they don't even do anything with the character still, he's the same boring character at the beginning as is in the very end. And the worst part is, you don't even get to play as him until a FULL THIRD OF THE GAME! And by the time you do, they spend way to long making sure they establish his character motivation and training before he actually even becomes an Assassin. It probably takes about 5 or 6 hours until the story finally starts going anywhere.

A lot of people were excited when we found out that the new character we were going to play was a Native American. Think of all the interesting things story-wise they could have done to make this something special. They could have tackled issues involving the relation ship between the people who were colonizing America and Native Americans. Unfortunately, they decide to go with the boring route where they don't even try anything interesting, rather just make sure that we know that the Americans are the good guys and the British are the bad guys. The main character, Connor, is the one helping the Americans out.

Remember how I said that you don't get to play as Connor until a full third of the game? Well, the first third is you playing as Connor's father, a British man who is a part of the Templars, who are the bad guys in the series, and they are going on this sort of quest with a magical key to help unlock this magical temple of some sort. It turns out, the key can't open the temple, but he got help from Connor's mother, who is Native American, and then you can imagine what happened to where you get to play as Connor. The weird thing is, this story line is actually slightly more interesting and better paced than the story line Connor is in.

I guess I can say, during the times I'm feeling more generous, is that once the game is finished reading its own rule book, the game does finally gets better and it is slightly amusing to see all of the historical events that take place in this game. But, at the same time, it's really not all that engaging. This can be blamed on minimal gameplay, a really sketchy story, and the series forgetting what made the games good in the first place.

If anything, the combat has improved. It's the most fluid combat in the series. Each game, the combat becomes less about people standing around and waiting for the other guy to make a move and more about actual fighting. You are given new tricks to deal with enemies and you can even counter attack two people at once. The combat isn't as good as the two Arkham games or Dark Souls, but the game is finally at a point where the combat isn't bothersome anymore.

What's really weird is how Desmond's story line is not only more interesting than the rest of the game, it some how manages to be the best moments that the series has provided. Desmond is the guy in the future who is experiencing his ancestors' memories in order to help train to be an assassin and to also help find the secrets their ancestors carry. And there's hardly anybody who actually likes this part of the game. And yet, this actually plays as one of the better parts of the game now. While there are only three missions involving Desmond, those missions focus more on what Assassin's Creed has usually been focusing on. So, think that one over for a minute. Desmond's part in this game feels more like an Assassin's Creed game than the main part of the game.

And for a game that's called Assassin's Creed, the amount of times the story involved Assassinating people could be counted on one hand.


Guys, no one is as surprised as I am as to how much I disliked this game. All of the good moments this game has only comes in short bursts and the rest of the game is just one long boring sludge to get through. The only reason to play this game is to just see how much weirder the ending is than the last games, as they do keep on getting weirder with every game for some reason. It does look like there are going to be more games, but, frankly, I'm really worried right now on what they're going to do next. I'm really hoping they can redeem themselves afterwards, but seeing how a lot of people responded with this game makes me thing that they feel like they're going in the right direction. And the fact that this game has been getting as much positive reception as it has, while also being a nominee for game of the year, is......interesting.

Ok. Phew. I had to get this off my chest. Oh, and this probably isn't going to be the last time where I talk about video games on here, but, don't worry, new movies are way more accessible to me than new games, so this is still going to be more movie focused if you honestly care about that.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Django Unchained

It's a Quentin Tarantino, do I really need to spell it out for you?

Go see this movie!

The thing about Tarantino films is that it's actually kind of hard for me to pinpoint exactly what makes his films so good. All of his films are incredibly unique and enthralling while also breaking a lot of story telling rules that most movies tend to follow. And, lately, he has been doing grind house style revenge movies, though, they have been incredibly smart and well written grind house style revenge movies. To add to those kinds of movies, we have Django Unchained.

Taking place two years before the Civil War when slavery was still a common practice, Django is found by Dr. Schultz who is looking for help finding people that Django knows. This allows Django to be free and to help Schultz with his Bounty Hunting profession. It also gives Django a chance to save his wife. And...things kind of play out from there. The movie plays out like a Spaghetti Western, though, it takes place in the, I guess you can call it a southern....or a Quentin Tarantino movie.

Seeing that this is a revenge movie, of course you're going to see a lot of people a part of the slave trade getting brutally murdered, and with this being a Tarantino film, the movie is not afraid to get incredibly violent. In fact, there are a couple of scenes that are incredibly painful to watch. I'm not going to say too much, it's a thing you'll have to see for yourselves, but I guess you can say that this movie has....balls to the wall action.(snark)

One of the things about this movie...and Tarantino movies in general is that it's not afraid to be deliberately paced in its story telling. This does lead to movies being over two hours long, but the story telling is so sharp and well paced, it never feels like an overly long movie.

The most interesting thing is how all of the action scenes play out and how they aren't exactly the most important things in the movie. They are there to service the story and they are also few and far between. What the movie focuses on is the characters, showing us how badly the slaves had it, and making sure that the dialogue plays the biggest role in the conflict of this story. be honest, my take on the movie definitely shows my inexperience with movies, as the title suggests. There's not a whole lot of insight I can give on this movie that I'm sure other people can. But, what I can say is that it's a really, really, really good fun family movie for people to enjoy during the holiday season. It strikes a chord with everybody, rich conservatives will like, grandma will like, your racist dad will like it, and so on.

But, as I've said before, it's a Tarantino movie, do I really need to say how good this movie is?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Tale of Thirteen Dwarves and a Burglar

Well, I lead on to the fact that this was the first movie I was going to talk about, and I'm sure for the two of you who read my last blog figured that out. I'm not sure what to think if you didn't.....

So, as you know, I'm going to be talking about 1977's The Hobbit.

Psshh, as if. I'm actually going to be talking about a good movie today. Here's the actual movie.

Anyways, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a movie that if you have some sort of semblance of a decent taste, you would have seen it by now. And if not, should go do that then. Seriously, the movie is about as good as you would expect. It's not going to be as good as The Lord of the Rings that came out ten years ago, but, then again, can anything be as good as that?(Spoiler: That answer is no)

The biggest worry that's probably on the minds of people is how they're going to stretch this movie into three movies. Well, they start by making sure that the story is going to work for a movie. While the book is actually genuinely pretty awesome, the book had nothing but one event after another that only felt vaguely connected while also having the only people that felt like characters being Bilbo, Gandalf, and maybe Thorin. This is okay for what basically amounts to a book for kids, but it would make for a movie that would never really quite work. So, to fix that, they just started adding in a whole bunch of things actually makes it feel like that everything that happens in the movie feel like it actually matters.

The basic plot is that a Dragon named Smaug took over a Dwarven kingdom, and it's up to Fili, Kili, Dwalin, Balin, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Ori, Dori, Nori, and Thorin Oakenshield(didn't even have to look their names up!) to take back their home while dragging along a protagonist named Bilbo Baggins. Who's bright idea was that? They might as well have brought a dummy along with them. At least they would have something to hit along they way. Anyways, it was Gandalf's bright idea, but even Bilbo thought it was a stupid idea. With this in mind though, it helps make this movie feel complete because of Bilbo's character arch.

That was the basic plot in the book, but it was also the only plot in the book. For those who have read the book, then you know that meeting up with Smaug isn't even the penultimate point in the book. Plus, that part happens in the second movie. You see what I mean about a bunch of barely connected events that keep the story together in the book? What helps is what looks like is going to be the over-arching story involving the events that eventually lead up to The Lord of the Rings. They include a character that helps out, named Radagast, who is having dealings with a Necromancer that appears to be an early version of Sauron. They also create an Antagonist involving the Orcs that the Dwarves had to battle prior to the events in the movie. This makes sure that the actions scenes that are in this movie are there for a reason other than just for the sake of it.

To be honest, I'd actually say this is WAAAYY better than the book. For one thing, not only do the events in this movie feel like they're connected and that they actually matter, the characters are actually characters in this movie. Bilbo is even a more worrisome and inadequate adventurer than he ever was in the book. They even give a back story to Thorin Oakenshield, making him more as a hardened soldier which helps makes sense of him kind of being the leader of the group. Gandalf is the one who always has to help them get them out of trouble though.

It's really nice to see all of the Dwarves distinguishable, as in the book, the only two Dwarves I can remember having any sort of description were Thorin and Bombur(because Bombur was the was the fat one). Whenever the Dwarves needed to say something important, it was mostly worded as "'But what about such and such' the Dwarves said" Here, in the movie, they all have their own parts and they all have personalities. Sure, the movie never really bothers to make sure you that you know which Dwarf is which, but they are all recognizable from each other and they also have their distinct fighting styles.

I guess I'm having a special kind of appreciation, because, the thing is, I'm actually a Dwarf......whenever I'm playing a fantasy game and I get to choose my own character. But, I could probably pass for a dwarf in real life. I have a beard, I get drunk all the time, and I never wash.

I've been comparing the movie to the book a lot, but, taken on the movie's own merits, it's an incredibly fun adventure movie that's also really clever and funny and it also has one of the best battle scenes I've seen a really long time. The movie is paced well and it's never boring. I...freakin'....loved this movie! And, chances are, you already know if you're going to like this movie anyway. Just like Tintin from last year, I doubt this is the only time I'm going to see this movie over the break. The only problem I have with the movie is that a lot of the special effects feel rushed, and I would have preferred it if most of the bad guys in this movie weren't just CGI characters, but the movie is so well directed that this is easily overlooked. I also especially liked the amount of violence in this movie. There was a lot of heads getting cut off in this movie.

So, we've waited a long time and it's finally here! And it's AWESOME!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Anyone excited for the new Hobbit movie?

Coz' I am.....

Oh, hai! I'm Sean Conner. As you can see, I started a new blog. I'd explain what you're going to see on this new thing, but if you saw the title, you can take a wild guess.

I have another blog lying around here...somewhere, but I'm going to keep that one a little more general and less focused. Here, it's going to be about my inexperience with movies.

So, there ya go!

Oh, and I dare you to take a guess what my first review is going to be.