A perplexingly bad new thriller that follows Academy Award winner Halle Berry as she pursues her kidnapped son through Louisiana while talking, crying, screaming, whining and praying to herself in medium close-up for 90 agonising minutes. It is asinine, unabashed garbage, and made with such an absence of skill or dramatic consideration that the reliable incompetence of its writing, direction, editing and acting make for one of the most unintentionally hilarious puddles of genre slop I’ve seen all year.
Well, it is August. What’s it about?
Berry plays Karla Dyson, a single mother making ends meet by working a thankless job as a diner waitress. The diner, needless to say, feeds only rude and difficult clientele, and her son, Frankie (Sage Correa), frequently sits inside while he waits for her shift to end. This is, as far as I can tell, tantamount to child abuse. It’s no surprise then that Karla’s off-screen husband is divorcing her in favour of an upscale new squeeze, and while he’s at it he’d like Frankie full-time, thanks very much. While negotiating the terms of this arrangement in a local park, Frankie is snatched by a couple of scruffy, fat hicks, and bundled into the back of a teal Ford Mustang; Karla gives chase. This pursuit takes up most of the movie and is wonderful, laugh-a-minute stuff. Most of it is filmed an inch or two from Berry’s nose, which is far enough away to take in her bug-eyed, teeth-gnashing overreactions, but too close for the audience to see all the automotive mayhem that’s apparently happening outside the car. At one point Karla leaves the Chrysler to pursue the Mustang on foot, and this strikes me as perhaps the funniest movie moment of the year.
Continue reading Review – Kidnap
Well, this is alright.
I can’t say I was expecting all that much, either. Sure, I like Forza Horizon 2 as much as the next guy – finely-tuned arcade driving mechanics, that lovely balancing, a range of event types, a big, beautiful open space to speed around in. And this is basically just a slice of that; a bit like a demo for it, really, albeit one that mostly repurposes slabs of the game with the movie license awkwardly attached. Shameless cultural cross-promotion is what it is, and I’m not entirely keen, but at least you get a smattering of the movie’s cars and a whole bunch of tortuous, unskippable voice work from Ludacris.
Continue reading Completed #3 – Forza Horizon 2: Fast & Furious
I’m still playing The Crew. More importantly, I’m still having a lot of fun with it. Since I hastily scrawled my first impressions, I’ve been collecting some more thoughts while I’ve been driving around. Here they are in no particular order.
It’s vital that I stress again how enormous and visually diverse the gameworld is. I don’t know if this is the biggest map I’ve seen in a video game, but it’s most certainly up there. Admittedly it’s a world designed to be enjoyed at speed, as if you pull over to take a close look at things you won’t see much fine detail, but still. It isn’t just an aesthetic thing, either. All the different weather effects and types of terrain alter the way your vehicle handles, as well as the style of driving you’re partaking in. I like that I can rumble across the Nevada dunes in a monster truck one mission, then rocket around a proper racetrack in a circuit-spec speed machine the next. If nothing else, The Crew’s world is one of this year’s biggest achievements in gaming.
Continue reading Final Thoughts – The Crew
As insane as it feels to be typing these words, my initial experience with Ubisoft’s new MMO-style open-world driving game, The Crew, has been overwhelmingly positive. I sank about six hours into it this afternoon, and I’ve got some preliminary thoughts I’d like to share before I give it another chunk of my time.
Most importantly, it works. That isn’t something which should be particularly noteworthy, but after the winter Ubisoft has had this year it’s genuinely surprising they’ve released a game that’s actually playable on Day One. I had a minor update to install (I forget the exact size, but it was around 100mb) and that took about two minutes, then I was off. The always-online framework was active; there were plenty of other folks driving around with me, and the option was there to take part in PvP and PvE events if I wanted to. I didn’t test any, but that’s just me. I very rarely touch multiplayer due to my natural dislike of people, so I was paying more attention to whether or not the game would let me ignore these things. And it did.
Continue reading First Impressions – The Crew
It occurs to me that the vast majority of my time in the “new generation” of video game consoles has been spent replaying games I already owned one, two, sometimes three years ago. The terminology is starting to get confusing. Is this a reboot or a remaster? The Game of the Year Edition or the Definitive Edition? Is there a difference? They’re shinier, usually. Sometimes they have all the bells and whistles already attached; additional content you previously had to pay for now available right out of the box (which is where, some might argue, it should have been to begin with). That’s useful, occasionally, for games you missed or expansion packs you couldn’t justify buying. More often, though, it just feels exploitative, like a publisher wringing your neck until yet more coins plink out of your orifices.
2015’s Need for Speed is perhaps the most egregious recent example of the industry’s tendency to rehash old ideas and re-skin old games. It’s a reboot, technically, although one could reasonably argue that every game in this franchise has been a reboot of the one preceding it. There aren’t any recurring characters or sprawling narratives. Each game takes the fundamentals of the previous instalment and either builds on them or takes them in a slightly different direction. We’ve had direct sequels, in a sense, such as the two Underground titles, which is where the series began for most people; and the two Shift experiments, when Need for Speed veered away from the street racing microcosm and set off in a more simulation-based direction. But these are only really sequels in that they’re continuations of a specific style and theme; they’re hardly the next chapters of a riveting saga. This is, partially, what aggravated me about how EA marketed this latest edition – on false promises, and in answer to questions nobody was asking.
Continue reading Review – Need For Speed (2015)