Ori and the Blind Forest: First Impressions

ori-and-the-blind-forest-wallpapersLadies, gents, and other such creatures, news be good! We have an awesome-ass game to review today! Ori and the Blind Forest is the subject of today’s ass kissery. This awesome little ball of luminescent fun is a 2D platformer. You’re Ori, a forest cat-like spirit, running through multiple levels, solving puzzles, and fighting enemies along the way with your little balls of energy.

Naru adopts Ori
Naru adopts Ori

The plot starts off on a stormy night when Ori is released into the world from the spirit tree, Nibel. An ape-like creature called Naru finds Ori and adopts him. They live together for a short while happily, until a cataclysmic event takes place. The tree of life releases a powerful light signal which was meant to summon Ori. However, living and growing up with Naru, Ori ignores the signal. On that night, a vengeful Owl called Kuro steals the light source from the life tree. The forest starts to slowly die, and Ori has to go on a quest to retrieve the light.

First things first. This game is absolutely GORGEOUS. It is a visual orgasm through and through. The colours, textures, effects are absolutely magnificent. Coupled with those, you have a really haunting and beautiful soundtrack by Gareth Coker. The combination of the visual and musical quality¬†really immerses you into a fairy tale world of beauty and wonder. You can genuinely forget that you’re sitting in your chair playing a game, and you can just sink into the innocent and wonderful beauty the narrative delivers. I’m not one to usually rave about graphics, as I do generally feel that they don’t contribute all that much to games. But in this case, they are actually a part of the game. They enhance the immersive and poetic experience of the game. Unbelievably great job, 10/10!

Now, as for the actual gameplay experience, it is also very solid. It’s pretty standard as far as platformers go. You run around, jump over obstacles, fight the odd enemy, try and solve puzzles and tricky obstacles. The controls are pretty straight forward. You have your directional buttons, jump, and shoot. Nothing too fancy or difficult. You also use the mouse to target your enemies, which is also quite easy.¬†Ori Main shot


What makes it stand out as a platformer is all the upgrades and nifty little mechanics. When you complete certain levels, you run into spirit trees, which more often than not will give you some kind of power up. The ability to break obstacles, do a double jump, climb and slide down walls, etc. While most of these mechanics are nothing new to the genre, when integrated effectively, they make the gameplay very¬†enjoyable. Your path forward isn’t always clear, so a lot of times you have to experiment with what you can and can not do, and the ambiguity gives you the feeling that you’re¬†exploring the world rather than just being guided through it, which is a big plus.

Unlocking abilities from the  spirit trees
Unlocking abilities from the spirit trees

There’s also nifty¬†abilities which let you interact with the environment. One such is Bash Attack. Bash Attack allows you to use an enemy or an enemy projectile to give yourself a boost in any direction (which you control with the mouse). It also serves the dual purpose of redirecting the projectile attack, or pushing away the enemy. While in a lot of games like Devil May Cry and God of War this mechanic is nothing new, Ori does it in a way which feels FREE of a determined path. You can use the ability to do some really cool evasive tricks, you can do it to fling your enemies to their death, you can do it to get to some really high-to-reach places. You can do it to just evade attacks, or solve puzzles.

Ori uses Bash Attack to propel himself upwards
Ori uses Bash Attack to propel himself upwards
Ori uses an enemy projectile to make an impossible jump
Ori uses an enemy projectile to make an impossible jump


Again, this is a big plus for the game. I feel like I can¬†explore this world at my own leisure. I can accumulate all these nifty abilities, and just go wondering around at my own pace. I don’t have to worry about following the guided path, accumulating points, or other trivial things like that. I can just¬†immerse myself, and that’s a really big win for any gaming experience.

The leveling system is very simple and straight forward. You don’t have to be a big game buff to understand how it works. You have three different sets of skills: Offensive, Finding resources, Agile abilities. You pick which one you feel like you need at the time, and you just click. This contrasts greatly from games like Final Fantasy where you need 10 years of experience, a PhD, and an optimal combinations simulator to make the right decisions in your ability leveling.

Leveling up Ori's abilities
Leveling up Ori’s abilities


So there we have it. I’ve only beaten the first third of the game, so I can’t lay down the final word until I reach the end. But as is, the game is fantastic. I’ve loved everything about it through and through. It’s beautiful, it’s alluring, it’s fun to play. It’s simple to understand and play, yet there are parts which will challenge you both in problem solving, and in just accomplishing difficult agile tasks. You get a perfect balance of both. It’s not too hard, and it’s not too easy, and it sure as hell is fun. Also, more likely than not, it will hit the feels. The story seems well written so far, and it definitely gets quite emotional and poetic on a few counts. I strongly recommend it, it’s probably one of the best games I’ve played in the last three years.

Enjoy ūüôā

(HD, please ^^ )


Ex Machina: A Review

Reviewed by Vladi

Ladies, gentlemen, and other such creatures, summer is here and with it the promise of decent cinema. In the glorious month of May there are a few exciting releases. It’s easy to get overshadowed by the hype of blockbuster giants such as Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Mad Max. However, one pretty kick ass movie also came out recently which is well wort our notice.

I’m talking about Ex Machina. The movie is directed by Alex Garland, best known for¬†28 Days Later, and¬†Dredd.¬†If none of those movies add credibility to his name for you, take away this: the man’s a master of mood and suspense. He orchestrates his films very precisely and knows exactly how he wants you to feel and think through each separate scene. In that sense, his films feel very complete and very unified. Kind of like an album that’s an album and not just a casual selection of songs. In that respect,¬†Ex Machina is no exception.

The plot should be no mystery to most people. It is the not too distant future and we are developing AI. Nathan (Oscar Isaac), a search engine mogul invites Calep (Domhnall Gleeson), one of his top employees, over to his house/lab to help him test the most advanced AI made to date, Ava (Alicia Vikander). Unlike simpler AI, she doesn’t have just a narrow question-response programming, but instead she is developed to form a consciousness of her own. So it’s up to Calep to interact with her and to see if she can pass the Touring test, a test developed by Alan Turing to see if an AI can fool a human into thinking that it’s a human. And that’s it.¬†Do robots dream of electric sheep?

I think AI has been addressed a lot of times in cinema, with movies like A.I. (duh), Kubrick’s Space Odyssey, Bladerunner, I Robot, Transcendence, Ghost in The Shell, and more recently, Chappie.¬†And while many of those movies pose good questions about the nature of A.I. and its impact on the human condition,¬†Ex Machina takes it a step further to try and visualize what it would mean to have true A.I. What would it mean to birth a consciousness into our world? What would it mean to give that consciousness access to the internet, the most condensed source of information that we have? And more importantly, what would this A.I. think of us? How would it react towards us. Would it like us or hate us? Would it want to befriend us or destroy us? These are questions that I find can be absolutely chilling if you begin to comprehend just what the answers might be, and this movie does a great job of flirting with some of them.

Am I human? How do I know I’m not a robot?

The pacing is absolutely perfect. No scenes are fillers, none of them drag, and none of them are cheap. The mounting tension is handled very professionally, gradually building without your notice. An effect reinforced by a very solid soundtrack which has a narrative of its own. You could take this movie, play it on mute, and just play the soundtrack with it and it would still make sense. The music fits the story like a glove, and adds goosebumps up and down your spine on more than one occasion.

The cinematography also deserves a nod as the shots are set up beautifully. There’s a strangely calm and quiet grace with which the scenes follow one another. For a movie that’s a thriller, the shots are very calm and composed. Almost meditative. Yet that seems to only draw you into the movie more, making you want to jump in the protagonist’s shoes and make his decisions for him rather than just watch as a spectator.

This movie was a lot of fun. It is beautiful to look at, it will get you thinking, it will explore a very interesting concept, and it will probably disturb you on a few occasions, something that I think is the hallmark of any good sci-fi-the ability to shake your confidence in the world you live in. 4/5, very well made. Go give the theaters your money!

By the end of this movie, this scene should probably haunt you. Despite the movie being a thriller, there’s a lot of moments that just stand out on their own. Just so well constructed that they put you in a temporary state of awe and wonder.

Daredevil: The Series

Review by: Vladi Ardenski

So, living through the drought of springtime cinema, I decided to turn my gaze towards TV series so that I can make it through my movie withdraw. So I decided to spend a¬†week in between Game of Thrones episodes to see Netflix’s Daredevil. A friend of mine recommended it and said it was a good watch. And shamelessly having nothing better to do with my time, I pursued this endeavor openheartedly.

Marvel’s Daredevil needs little introduction, but for those of you unaware, it is the origins story of Matt Murdock. Having suffered an accident as a child, he was blinded, but the toxic material that touched his eyes gave him extensively heightened senses. He can hear people’s heartbeats, any noises around him create a sonar-like experience where he can technically see without seeing. He is very strong and agile, and well versed in hand to hand combat.

Having his father murdered as a child, he decides to become a lawyer so that he can fight for justice. Along with his best friend Franklin “Foggy” Nelson and their mutual friend and colleague, Karen Page, they try to bring down the crime lord, Wilson Fisk, more commonly known in the Marvel universe as the Kingpin.

The episodes are done quite well and keep you asking for more. The characters are interesting and intriguing. Both Karen and Foggy have their own significant place in the story, and aren’t just mere sidekick backdrops as is common in other TV series. The main lead is done very well also. Charlie Cox does a great job being both charming and intriguing. He has¬†an interesting duality going on for him. One moment he’s a quiet dignified lawyer, placating you with his calm and soothing voice, the next he’s beating some guy senseless, telling them to get their shit together with a Batman voice. Also, red Ozzy glasses. +5pts.

What’s a good superhero without a good supervillain? Vincent D’Onforio knocks it out of the park as Wislon Fisk, Daredevil’s main adversary. I gotta say, I think his performance is the best by far in this whole show. He is a big, mean looking guy, yet he seems so vulnerable and morally conflicted at times. I really didn’t know to make of him for the first few episodes. Then slowly, bit by bit, you see his violent psychopath come out. And even then, he bounces between the two personalities, always keeping you guessing which one you are going to get. Very fun character to watch. Great performance.

I gotta say I enjoyed this series quite a lot. It isn’t no Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad, but compared to some of the other superhero¬†series we’ve gotten, (Gotham anyone? *shudder*) this show is pretty decent. The action is fun and well choreographed, the dialogue and character interactions are well done, and there’s more than a few moments where the episodes end on such a high note that you just gotta say “f*ck work/school in the morning” and play the next one. In my humble opinion, the show starts to loose a bit of steam near the end. The phrases “I have to protect this city,” “I will rebuild this city,” “This city needs me,” “Fisk can’t get away with it,” become one too many to bare. And to be fair, it’s an origins story, so it does a lot of setting up for Season 2, and there is more than one interesting plot point that really has me looking forward for more.

Also, Rosario Dawson is in this, and if like me, you think she is some ancient sex Goddess born again, being the epitome of all that is sexy and awesome, you’ll probably enjoy her appearances.¬†

Rosario Tax.

Chappie: A Review

Do androids dream of electric sheep? Do celebrities make bad actors? Does a dog lick its own balls? Yes, and so does Chappie. 

Chappie is a film written and directed by Neill Blomkamp. It stars Sharlto Copley as Chappie, Dev Patel as Deon Wilson, Chappie’s creator, and Hugh Jackman as an angry, steroid ridden, ridiculously terrible antagonist who doesn’t deserve a name. Also, Die Antwoord, but more of that later.

The movie takes place in Johannesburg, where crime has been rampant. With the help of new police Scout Droids, however, the government has been able to establish order again. Deon Wilson, brilliant young programmer is the designer of these scouts. And while happy with his success, he is more interested in creating AI that can feel and think for itself. An AI that can develop its own emotions and own personality. Enter Chappie.

On the other side of town, we have Die Antwoord, a small group of heist criminals. They get in a bit of trouble with the local gangs, and need something short of a miracle to get out of a massive loan that’s hanging over their heads. How can they hope to steal enough money in time to pay their way out of death? Enter Chappie.

For those of you unfamiliar with Die Antwoord, they are a South African hip hop duo known for their explicit lyrics and music videos. They have a pretty crazy¬†sound and image. Apparently the director was a big fan, so he decided they had to be in his movie. But to act a certain role, or to do a small cameo? No. They are more or less the main characters and spotlight of this film when Chappie isn’t yammering away in his awesome South African accent. They don’t even act, they just play themselves. And while they can be highly entertaining at times, there’s no hiding the fact that they are plain ridiculous.¬† They can’t act, and their personas don’t really have a place in this movie.

To the movie’s credit, it asks a lot of interesting questions about AI. It brings up the notion that personality, human or otherwise, may one day be boiled down to a highly complex mathematical algorithm. It asks some good questions about what makes us truly human, truly ourselves and not someone else. It makes a very good case for sentient machines being more than just that. In that regard, the movie truly does deserve a thumbs up.

Also, I would be doing a great disservice to Sharlto Copley if I didn’t mention how good his performance was in this. Any scene we have Chappie in, it’s hard to imagine that somebody actually¬†acted out his performance. That he wasn’t just merely created like that, the perfect, endearing, little robot. His mannerisms, gestures and voice are absolutely spot on. Any scene he’s in, he absolutely steals the screen for the better. He could actually make me forget about the Die Antwoord parts of the movie and make me feel like I’m watching a good film again. However, inevitably, the Die Antwoord parts kept coming in, louder, and dumber in sequence.

Much like District 9, Blomkamp’s last successful film, you have a very good idea and concept which is executed very poorly. The narrative simply doesn’t carry its own weight. The writing is outright laughable in many parts. Any scene with Hugh Jackman is absolutely cringe worthy. Don’t get me wrong, Hugh Jackman is a GREAT actor. But in this film, everything he has to work with is a train wreck. Even the tone is all over the place. You go from Disney/Spielberg “aww” moments, to slapstick comedy, to people being graphically disembodied, to heart-wrenching drama… It really feels all over the place. The movie’s tone and direction are definitely not unified and defined.

If you got a Friday night to kill and there’s nothing better, this movie might be worth your dollar. It should give you a few good laughs, make you ponder a question or two. As long as you don’t take it too seriously, you might actually enjoy yourself. But don’t look for a proper film here.

Sorry, ol’ Chap.



Eulogy for Tinder

Late night drunken swipers,
Harbingers of cheesy pick-up liners,
Sugar daddy seekers,
And enthusiastic dick picsters,

This song is for you.

The infamous “Fuck You” screen of “Give Me Money.”

We are gathered here today to celebrate the death of noble Tinder. To speak of the countless crappy dates and one night stands this service has provided would not do its three year life justice. For those of you noble enough not to have used this app, I salute you. For others of less noble and slightly more desperate temperament such as myself, in the last two days we have had to face the harsh truth: the death of our hated friend.

For you noble few who have not tread the Tinder roads of desperation, Tinder is a “dating” app created in 2012. It works on a very simple principle. You are shown pictures of people, and you swipe left if you aren’t interested, and swipe right if you are interested. Once you like someone who also likes you back, you are able to start a chat conversation with them. It’s a relatively shallow app, but it did what dating apps are supposed to do, and that’s getting people to meet and talk. Profile accounts are usually made up of silly emoji, height requirements, where’s Waldo picture hunts, and the overall immaterial. So why the grief for this silly little app? Because despite it’s numerous shortcomings, it provided a very simple and somewhat fun way of meeting people.

A few days ago, Tinder decided to release a new patch that would provide users with the¬†option¬†of upgrading to Tinder Plus. Tinder Plus provides several new features such as Passport, a feature which lets you change your location whenever you want, with the purpose of hooking up with people in different countries and cities. You are on a business trip to Moscow, and you want to make love to man like bear? Say no more. You’ll have a hairy, tall Cossack waiting for you at the airport. Also, you can now go back on your swipe if you swiped yes/no by accident, making sure you don’t miss out on that one special (really hot) person that you feel you might have had a genuine connection (seen them naked) with. ¬†And lastly, you can swipe “yes” to as many people as you want.

BUT WAIT, Mr. Author dude, isn’t that already part of the App? Well, my thoughtful reader, t’is not the case any longer. While Tinder originally didn’t have a swipe ceiling, the new Tinder Plus has ~100 likes before you are blocked from further liking for 12 hours. But it doesn’t HAVE to be this way, you can pay the low monthly fee of $16.99 (Canada), or $30.00 if you’re above 30, just to remind you that you are old, less in demand, and have money that you can give us.

For anyone who uses this app, you’ll know that ceiling is way to low, and to viably use this app to find a decent hook up or date, you need at least two to three times that number. This is a pay-to-play in disguise. It’s when a developer releases a “free” app, which you can technically use for free, however, to really enjoy or benefit from said app, you have to pay. You’re given just a little taste of what you want, and then you’re shown the barrier you can cross for only the small, monthly fee of $X.

I have a job, I make enough money to enjoy a decent life. But to pay $16.99 to just swipe through pictures is absurd to put it at its lightest. There are many alternative apps (maybe not as popular) that provide the same service and more for free. I’m sure that within the next year we’ll see the stocks of Tinder plummet, and some new copy-cat rival will take over what was until now a very popular and lucrative business.

Like most new upstarts, they tried to rise too fast, too greedy. Rest in cyberspace peace, Tinder, thou greedy devil.


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (The Movie on Fire That Burned Down Horribly)

Ladies, gentlemen, and other such creatures, today we look at the film (loose use of the word) that is¬†Mockingjay: Part 1 of the¬†Hunger Games series. For those of you who don’t know – nah, let’s cut the shit, you’ve all heard of this steaming turd, let’s get right into it. We pick up from where¬†Catching Fire left off. Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence has been rescued from the last Hunger Games by the rebels. I’m sure they have some other name, but really they are just a backdrop for Katniss’ emotional turmoil, so they’ll remain “the rebels.” Finnick and several others have also been rescued and brought to the underground headquarters of the rebels at District 13. Katniss is reunited with Gale, played by Liam Hemsworth, and her family. She is introduced to President Coin, played by Julianne Moore, which urges Katniss to spearhead their own propaganda campaign against President Snow, and in return offers to save Peeta. Though as they only report stuff that’s¬†actually happened, I don’t know why they bother calling it propaganda, but hey, it sounds more political that way. The plot conflict comes in the shape of ol’ whiny, mumbling, unsure-of-himself-and-highly-annoying Peeta. A dumbfounded Katniss stares at a TV screen as Peeta seems to have become President Snow’s face of propaganda, pleading with the other districts to not take part in the rebellion and be complacent with the Capitol. The rebels show instant anger towards Peeta, and Katniss has to reconcile the fate of her friend and the responsibilities she now bares as the face of the rebellion.

Peeta does what Peeta does best – whine and look crushed.

Honestly, that’s the best I can do without vomiting and hating myself as a pseudo-reviewer. The reality of this film is that it’s¬†EXTREMELY boring. I’m not one for mindless violence or action for that matter, but in the first two films you at least had the actual games to keep you entertained. I was highly skeptical of this franchise as it seemed to me like another¬†Twilight¬†teen fiction. However, female colleagues and friends vehemently and loyally swore otherwise, convincing me that there’s a lot socio-political factors at play which makes this series worthwhile. Well, NO. While I have to watch Katniss’ inability to make one adult decision and put the fates of thousands before the fate of just one of her friends, I have to watch what I can only accurately sum up as a dystopian American Idol. What dress will Katniss wear? How can we bring out the¬†angry¬†Katniss, how can we bring out the¬†true Katniss, the¬†Katniss that will¬†INSPIRE. And while I’m watching this and trying to figure out what’s the least disruptive way to kill myself in a movie theater, (after all I care about my fellow movie goers,) I get glimpses of one of the two scenarios. A whinefest between Peeta and Katniss, or a somber, brooding Katniss being comforted by Liam Hemsworth, whose only purpose is to be a handsome shoulder to cry on.

*Wipes away tears* You got a lot of heart, girl, and a lot of spirit. Your singing was good, and you look fabulous. Now if you just work on that 10-year-old attitude of yours, you can be a real star! 7.4! *que audience applause*

I’m not going to get into the ending of the movie so as not to spoil anything, but I will say this: under logical scrutiny, just about every premise on which the writing hangs falls apart at the slightest touch. It’s designed poorly, it has plot armor all over it, and makes this feel like a Saturday morning cartoon as opposed to a dystopian film. In reality, people die, and not just the ones we introduce 5 seconds before we kill them. In reality, cruel and intelligent dictators don’t make silly gambits that a Bond villain would. In reality, this is just silly teen fiction and its socio-political context is so absurdly black and white (rich vs poor, good vs bad) that even a high schooler should laugh¬†at this. Boring, poorly made film. 6/10, don’t waste your time. BUT, there is Natalie Dormer in it with a bad-ass haircut and tattoos. So we got that going for us, which is nice.

All hail the goddess, savior of lame films!

***SPOILERS*** Just food for thought for those of you who’ve seen the film. Let’s be honest, if this was actually written to be remotely realistic, with a competent dictator, Gale and every other commando rescuing Peeta would have entered that building only to see crossbowmen on the parapets with Rains of Castamere playing. G bloody G.

This man would get shit done. The Thirteen Kingdoms would be under his foot before you could say ‘shits gold.’

Unbroken: Movie Review

Ladies, gentlemen, and other such creatures, today we look at the film that is¬†Unbroken, directed and produced by Angelina Jolie. It’s based on the non-fiction novel by Laura Hillenbrand called¬†Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.

The story is that of Louis Zamperini, a US Olympic runner, who falls captive to the Japanese during the second World War. We follow his journey from his Olympics debut to his inevitable capture. We see the struggles of his fellow soldiers and himself as they try to preserve¬†what small piece of humanity they can in the brutal and dehumanizing conditions of the P.O.W. camp. The camp is run by Mutsuhiro “Bird” Watanabe, a young and bitter corporal, who goes to great lengths to punish and humiliate Louis, mostly because of his status as an Olympic athlete. Two strong wills collide, as¬†we watch the power struggle between these two men; one a captive, the other a captor, and both unrelenting.

So, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. The movie is well polished, the scenes are set up nicely with a good pace. Jack O’Connell’s performance as Louis Zamperini is alarmingly strong. He show us a great range of ability and skill as he goes through the highs and lows of the character’s emotional journey. He makes acting look easy, and he is absolutely flawless in every single shot he’s in. Nothing but respect for the man. The rest of the cast did similarly as well, though none really stood out as much. Corporal Watanabe, played by Takamasa Ishihara seemed to be a bit over the top in most of the scenes he was in, but perhaps that was just director’s take. Even so, he gave a pretty solid performance as well.

Clash of wills, Takamasa Ishihara and Jack O’Connell

What the movie really lacked was direction. While the first set up of the film isn’t too bad, with the plot unraveling at a steady pace, the latter part of the movie feels like one big drag. Not a lot of development happens, and the story’s pace slows down to a crawl. And for about 30 minutes or so, we just have torture scenes followed by motivation scenes in constant succession. And with a lack of character or plot development, this quickly becomes dull, and as a viewer you grow numb to any awe or inspiration you should be experiencing.

Angelina Jolie doing directing things, because, yeah…

Also, as most “inspirational” movies, this movie wants you to take a lot at face value. We have one or two scenes where Louis is being reprimanded by his family for his hooliganism, and is subsequently told that he’s capable of better things if he would only try. Next scene he tries, ergo said attitude for life. I understand that the movie is supposed to cover roughly 15 years of a character’s life, and that screen time is limited, but as a viewer I feel I am being cheated. Maybe it’s simply this genre of film, and not the director, but again, this felt weak. The movie tries to awe with its ques of epic soundtrack and cheesy lines as opposed to actual character development and drama. For that, it gets some ‘fail points.’

All in all, it’s an average movie. Nothing special, nothing too horrible. If you have any interest in the history of Louis Zamperini, or simply that time period/topic, you might like this movie. It’s worth its money if nothing else. If you’re standing in front of the showtimes board at the theater and you’re juggling between this and¬†Madagascar, Horrible Bosses 2, Night at The Museum 2, and other similar garbage, you might as well spend your money wisely and watch this. Otherwise, meh.

Angelina Jolie with the real Louis Zamperini. It’s based on a “True Story,” therefore it must be good. Right? Wrong.

Inherent Vice: A review

Ladies, gentlemen, and other such creatures, today we look at Inherent Vice!

This little gem of creativity and absolute mind fuckery is brought to us by Paul Thomas Anderson. For those of you unfamiliar with this cat, he’s the guy who brought us¬†There Will Be Blood (2007) and¬†The Master (2012).

While I’m not an absolute fan of all of his films, credit must be given where credit is due. When you watch a Paul Thomas Anderson film, you know you’re watching just that. He has his own style, and his own way of moving along narrative that greatly stands out from other film makers. He wrote the screenplay for this film based off the novel by the same name by Thomas Pynchon, and it’s very noticeable. The pace of the film fits the narrative like an old shoe, as P.T. Anderson takes us tumbling through the wacky, pleasantly¬†quirky, pot-induced story he has to tell us.

We do our best to follow the story of Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) as he tries to track down his missing ex-girlfriend, Shasta Fey Hepworth (Katherine Waterston). She’s recently got herself involved with Michael Z. Woflmann (Eric Roberts), local real-estate giant. But wait, there’s more! Upon a surprising visit, Shasta asks Doc to help foil a plot to institute Wolfmann in a mental hospital, a plot devised by his ambitious and greedy wife. Bit wait, there’s more!¬†Amid this tangled little chaos, we also have Coy Harlingen (Owen Wilson), a saxophone player for a fictional band, presumably dead, government informer, and ex-heroin junkie. He has a few leads about what happened to Wolfmann, and consequently Shasta, and he agrees to help Doc out if Doc keeps an eye on his wife an daughter.

Conspiracy in the 70’s was groovy.

If you’re thinking “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?”, don’t bother rereading that paragraph a second time in the hopes of unearthing sense. The plot is more twisted and intertwined than grandma’s knitting. That was my best attempt at a simple synopsis. We also have cops, informers, killers, nazis, hookers, lawyers, all with their little parts in this plot.

Doc’s a daily connoisseur of marijuana, this being set in the 70’s and all, a proper hippy. While he’s stoned more often than not, you as the audience member feel as though you are, too. Confusion and humour reign supreme as you try to make sense of each new piece of information. And when you can’t, it’s OK, you resign yourself to one of pot’s handy philosophies – Shit be cray, but surely¬†it will¬†make sense in the end.

This movie’s a riot to watch. Not only is it ridiculously fresh, but it’s funny as hell, too. It reminds me quite a bit of the¬†Big¬†Lebowski(1998). Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is very akin to that of Jeff Bridge’s. He’s a kind-hearted hippy trying to make sense of a mystery through his stupor of alcohol, drugs, and poor judgement. Also, Josh Brolin is absolutely HYSTERICAL as the “bad cop” Christian F. “Bigfoot” Bjornsen. He’s the cop with the haircut you can set your watch to, and the “twinkle in his eye that says civil rights violations.” He’s the exact opposite of Doc in just about every way imaginable, and it’s really fun watching the two have a go at each other. Also, what with the sexual innuendos of phallic objects in his mouth and pent up rage, Josh Brolin should tickle your laugh muscles more than a few times.

Josh Brolin doing what he does best, going to work on phallic symbols

Well, there’s nothing for it. Through muddled kiss-ass, we’ve arrived at our conclusion. This movie ROCKS! It’s hella’ funny, it’s fresh as freshly rolled grass, and it keeps you captivated with the bizarre, hilarious, mildly questionable, and positively entertaining. Normally, I can point out exactly what elements about the movie make it good, but in this case, I’m at a complete loss. It’s just a colourful and tangled ball of fun and awesome. GO SEE!

Exodus: Gods and Kings

Reviewed by yours truly,
The V lad. 

Ladies, gentlemen, and other such creatures, today we look at the EPIC fail that is Exodus: Gods and Kings. Like most things Ridley Scott, it’s grand, massive, and epic. Thus, its failure is of equal proportions.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, this movie’s the story of Moses (Christian Bale) liberating the Jews from Egypt. While not a religious person myself, the movie’s trailer struck me as engaging. It looked like a different take on a very old story, and the promise of Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton (playing Ramses) bouncing off one another really peaked my interest.

What the trailer didn’t show, however, is a myriad of pointless scenes which drag and drag in place of any character development or captivating drama. Any engaging scenes which Bale and Edgerton might have had together were replaced by several small plot lines with very little importance or consequence. None of the characters (save perhaps for Moses) are developed throughout this movie. Things happen, and you are supposed to be into it. You’re supposed to buy into every bit of drama on sheer face value.

You have one or two scenes where you see the Jews getting whipped, therefore you should care deeply about them. You see two quick scenes with Bale exchanging eyes with his love interest, Zipporah (Maria Valverde), and two minutes later they are married, and suddenly I have to care about his relationship with his family. We see Ramses throw a few tantrums, and suddenly I have to find him unappealing. All in all, very weak development and writing.

In between that, we get about 20 minutes of CGI porn, where you just watch God destroy stuff. And while each of the scenes is¬†done quite well, twenty minutes is a bit much. Then again, it could have been worse, they could have filled it with more bad writing. Perhaps I shouldn’t complain.

Ramses’ army being swallowed by the Red Sea. An hour and a half into the movie, I wished I was joining them.

It’s sad to see that the person who brought us¬†Gladiator,¬†Aliens, Bladerunner, Hannibal, and American Gangster¬†made something so appallingly poor. I recognize that I’m not religious and that this is a religious movie. However, I think that anyone who has faith would probably not like this movie, either. You don’t really follow Moses’ path to spirituality and the discovery of God. Nor does it really focus on the hardships and struggles of the Jews, and their relationship with God. Instead, Ridley Scott seems to be caught with his pants down between the two paths a film maker could have gone with this film. Either you do what Ridley Scott does best, and you focus on epic medieval warfare with little plot involved, or you make this a religious themed drama. What you don’t do is try and do both, and leave the audience with a bad taste in their mouth.

I can’t believe that such a cast and such a director produced such a turd, but here we are. All in all, a very bad film, and a shitty watching experience.¬†At least with¬†Robin Hood you could turn your brain off to the horrendous writing and be mildly sedated by the violence. In this film, you’re going to be bored for two hours and constantly guessing (and hoping) which scene will be the last.