Silver Linings Playbook Movie Review

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Pat Solantano one day runs in on his wife, Nikki, cheating on him with a man. In turn he beats the living hell out of the guy. Instead of being sent to prison he is sent to a mental institution for 8 months. There he’s diagnosed with bipolar disorder. After he’s released he is forced by the state to regularly attend therapy sessions and his parents have agreed to take him in. While sorting out his life he runs into Tiffany. She’s another person who’s fell on difficult ties and they bond somehow.

There are three kinds of romance movies that are over played completely. One goes on about how different men and women are, despite the fact that they all have the same base urges and needs. Another is the cliché romance movie that is pretty much 90+ minutes of nothing happening except two forced people to develop chemistry between each other and then maybe 10 actual minutes of drama to bring the two together. All actions are usually 100% predictable. The last is what I call a ‘look-at-the-crazies’ drama where people are screwed up so much they need someone else to compliment their screwed up nature or someone else screwed up to make up for their short comings. This movie is the latter and is why I don’t care for it. The past few years have seen a rise in these style of romance dramas and it isn’t a bad thing, but it’s very repetitive.

Most of the ‘laughs’ seem to be driven from the nuances of the characters, like most movies. But with this film all the laughs are from the negative aspects of the character. Let me give you a example: Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) becomes unhinged after being admitted to the mental hospital. He’s assumed to be more vocal and even make a comment on how he doesn’t censor himself anymore. This leads to a lot of the awkward jokes between him and many people. So if he didn’t go to the institution he basically wouldn’t be making a ass of himself left and right. Another is Tiffanys (Jennifer Lawrence) in your face attitude that is suggested to be brought on, or have a stronger presence, due to her late husbands death. This leads to a lot of the follow up ‘laughs’ after Cooper’s character does something. Its classic comedy setup, but the catalysts for the actions might encourage the audience to laugh at people of the same nature or in similar circumstances. That’s why I’m not labeling this as a comedy.

On top of all this movie is the definition of first world problems. Another way to put it is ‘pretty white people with problems.’ This was the same problem many of the WB shows had and a lot of the horrible 90s sitcoms. The first problem with how he went to the mental institution. He went into his own house and attacked a man in congress with his wife. Other parts of the world I have been too would have basically patted him on the back and let him go. However in this story it was seen as a issue and locked him away despite the fact that he had a just reason to be angry. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Another is Pat’s fathers obsession with American football. This risky betting is not only encouraged throughout the film, but unrealistic. This was cliché considering A) he’s American and B) he placed more importance on the sport then his family, most of the time.

Then the Tiffany character’s only flaw is that she dealt with her mourning poorly and is a compulsive liar. One of the flaws about her that they keep bringing up is that she sleep around. Really you slept around? Well boo fucking hooo for you. At least you got to fuck. Most people aren’t born good looking like her, well off financially, in a privileged country like America, nor do they have the ability to pick up whatever genitalia they want for the night. Gee what a ‘problem’ that must be for her. Sure it’s a obnoxious moral ambiguity of hers, and she even admits to liking being a slut, but she admitted to stopping once she got fired from her previous job. So she, through out the movie, was slowly fixing herself. Yes it wasn’t the best way possible, but she was doing something most people can’t: freak out and correct her own behavior. So why all the characters kept bringing her up as a issue, without giving many details, was very irritating.

Also the Tiffany character is too cliché. She seems to know exactly what to do more then 90% of the time. She shows up at just the right times to intentionally force Pat to make some sort of self realization or help his family get their junk together. Now this wouldn’t be so noticeable if it weren’t for the fact that she seems to be the only one to have this magical ability. Pat’s own therapist doesn’t seem to have that much of impact on the story. No one, except her, seems to be able to be anything other then just background characters and their characters don’t serve a purpose at all, unlike other movies of this caliber.

For reference Juno was a lot like this except they were teenagers. Both of Junos parents helped move the story along, as well as 4+ other characters. Now sure the story is based on the love between two people. Although the thing that really helps most love stories shine is the side characters who not only express their own needs for love, but add to the main character(s) own ideals and even help the character see other sides of whatever situation. Yeah there are a few movies that don’t use side characters to this extent, but the self discovery aspect isn’t so lopsided or forced by the other main character. So debatably if Tiffany didn’t exist Pat wouldn’t be recovering so quickly from a failed marriage. Also you can’t continually imply that the girl is screwed up during the movie multiple times and yet have all her actions are near perfect. It screws up her character development due to the conflicting story elements. I mean for crying out loud Tiffany even brings up how screwed up she is multiple times.

The acting, despite the horrible story, was top notch from everyone. A lot of it was Oscar worthy or to revive a few careers. This is probably Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro‘s best performance. Although Cooper still played a frat brother like role. De Niro was refreshing because usually he’s a mobster, or a complete douche. Here he’s behaving rationally and normal and with this role I think it solidifies him as a well rounded actor. I’m not sure if Jennifer Lawrence deserved the Oscar, because I didn’t see the ladies she was competing against in their movies. However she was notably good, despite how I completely despise the hype behind her. She proved she could give a good range of acting in this film, with a few exceptions. Julia Stiles and John Ortiz were nice additions, but their shining moments of acting were sparse and they deserved a little more screen time.

This is the film to watch if you want to see all of the actors at their best. The steady character development is welcoming and will surely draw many in to watch further. However, the draw back is the story. It has pointless long montage scenes. The main drive for many of the punch lines is based upon the characters major flaws and it seems to laugh at them rather then with them. Also the context of the story is terribly forced, cliché, and one character made me question the believability of the story due to their actions. Also a lot of the dialogue is forgettable.

I’m sorry, but this is a really boring story.

5.5/10

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The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds 3DS Video Game Review

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Once again Hyrule is thrown into chaos when multiple people go missing. It all starts when Link witnesses a warlock named Yuga kidnapping, you guessed it, Zelda. Yuga states that he’s going to use her tri-force power to resurrect Gannon, and then disappears into a crack in the wall. Link then ventures through a dark void as a painting and winds up in Lorule, a alternate world of Hyrule. There he meets Princess Hilda who tells him in order to stop the resurrection of Gannon, and the distruction of both worlds, he needs to find the 7 sages that are trapped in paintings spread through out her kingdom.

This is probably one of the better Zelda stories to come out in a while. It plays complete homage to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, in many ways. So to a certain extent it seems like a sequel to the game. The story is a lot different then most of them, with the exception of the sages and how they hold some kind of magical power. To a certain extent the ending was worth seeing a lot of borrowed things from A Link to the Past.

It borrow some of the bosses, weapons, the alternate version of Hyrule, and characters. I didn’t mind the characters so much as I did the bosses. The bosses help define every Zelda game ever made. The most memorable thing about them is the fact that just about every boss is different and has unique ways of killing them. Even a few of them were down right scary. But when you see 6 of the 11 original bosses it kinda kills the experience of the new story.

Although one of the best dungeons EVER was in this game. It was the theifs den in Lorule. It was completely different from most of the dungeons ever made. It even had a NPC who helped you out a few times. It was nice for them to add this to the game, but since they didn’t expand on the NPC’s character development it was kinda a waste. This is something they should have expanded more on, and the Lorule town.

The other great thing about this one is that it plays a lot like most of it is a open world environment. You can casually switch between worlds and choose whatever dungeon you want at whatever time. Yes there are a few that won’t let continue until you have certain items, but 90% are bought from a merchant in your old house in Hyrule. So you become quickly over powered. Despite this fact the dungeons seem a little harder then the original so having all those tools doesn’t matter sometimes.

The strange thing is that they have random mini games through out the game. They don’t have a whole lot of depth, to me many of them just weren’t fun, and some had a stupid premise. One mini game was to avoid flying chickens. No. Really. You just walked around and avoid chickens. It was insanely easy. Another is driven around collecting rupies by whatever means. The only one that is challenging, frustrating, and fun, is the baseball game where your goal is to smash vases with a baseball. Although I have no idea how it works and has its own flaws.

If you have a 3DS this is a must have. The new mechanics let you chose just about whatever dungeon you want to do first. The graphics don’t add a whole lot of depth, but it’s still nice to see one of the most iconic video game characters of all time in 3D. However the art itself is great and adds a super colorful cartoonish feel to the world while still maintaining some kind of seriousness. The story is probably one of the better to come along in a while and the twist at the end is really nice. If you don’t screw around and do just the main story I think you’ll be in for a surprise. All in all you have about 5 days worth of playing if you don’t use any help and constantly grind on it.

This is a real treat for any Zelda fan or anyone who’s a fan of adventure games.

9.0/10

Gunpoint PC Game Review

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Gunpoint is 3 rd person stealth game based on the fictional life of Richard Conway, a freelance spy (not legal kids). A firearms producer hires him to investigate a death of one of their employees. He reluctantly accepts. The police start to follow him and accusing him of said murder. Other people start to catch on and suspect his involvement with multiple breakins and the skills he presents. Along the way you pick up upgrades and more skills to help you with each mission.

The story is your basic “someone died and people blame you” scenario. Also had one of the most dramatic and comedic openings I’ve ever seen in a videogame. As much drama it has in the game it has a nice equal balance of comedy. Gunpoint gives you the option to make the story as serious or as funny as you want. Some comedic events are even thrown into the achievements, and how the achievement is written. The only good thing about the story is that due to all the choices it doesn’t get boring and you don’t have to read all the extras in the game in order to get the full story. However, some of the dialogue was cliché at times.

It seems to want to blend multiple sub genres of the stealth games/movies/what-have-you and does it rather well. You can run and gun many of the mission (not recommended) or you can sneak in and out of the building without anyone noticing. In truth this is where it shines: the game play mechanics. The controls are easy to grasp and you can quickly develop your own exploring/spy style of investigation without the game penalizing you for not exploring the way they wanted you to. You can trade bought upgrades once you have them for other ones if you don’t like them. So eventually you can find a combination of a few and complete insanely hard levels, with some strategy, while catering to your skill. This is unlike most games where it only allows you so much range skill wise.

Like they offer the ability to change the wiring of a building, silently breaking glass, and make silent landings while jumping from high buildings. Did I need them all? No. So I didn’t have to buy many of them in order to progress through the levels. After a while I was able to obtain enough money to buy them all, but even then it feels like cheating. Regardless its good to just have it as a option to make the levels harder if I wanted too.

The 8-bit graphics actually shine through in this game. It made it feel like I was playing a old cabinet arcade, which was a great nostalgic feeling. The building, background, and small details like street lights are simply beautiful and makes the world feel huge. The graphics also don’t seem to cut on the processor and are easy to render. So anything that loads quicker on my PC is always a good thing.

Gunpoint is definitely something you’ll want to pick up if you’ve ever been a fan of stealth games, since there are so few of them. The music is a nice jazz temp which adds to the whole spy world feeling. The controls are beyond easy to master. The story is great, although not completely different from most of the spy genera. But most importantly: it’s fun. The only problem is that it’s short, especially if you are skilled at any kind of stealth game.

8.5/10

Home PC Video Game Review

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Warning Some Spoilers

Home is psychological thriller about a man with sever amnesia who wakes up in a house full of dead bodies. He stumbles around and has the choice to interact with various clues. The foreboding atmosphere continues to drive him towards answers, but they are muddled due to the answers he finds seems to only open about a million more questions. At each site he discovers more dead bodies while try to piece together the past. Finally he slowly gathers enough evidence and that he has memories to remember who he is and what he needs to do: go home and check on the safety of his wife.

This is a strangely dark and a completely creepy chose-your-own-adventure game. It slowly draws you in with every creek from the house you wake up in to the narrowed visibility provided by the flash light you find. Even the muddled pixels add some fright to the game due to their crude art stile and seems to compliment the confusing situation. The creepiest thing about this game it places ‘what if’ ideas in your head while you stumble about and find clues amongst the derelict town. Also some of the timing of certain events will give you a quick jump scare. It even excels at giving really high quality background noise that is just creepy and could mimic any walk in the woods at night.

However it has a few draw back. Like the main character seems rather daft. Like he’ll continually complain that he feels like he’s being followed, paranoid or whatever and then everything possible just makes his statements creepier. Despite this, he doesn’t walk faster after this. Sure he complains about his hurt leg, thus a reason not to run, but there doesn’t seem to be anything in the game to fix it or shut him up about it. So despite being scared shitless he doesn’t show much signs of emotion. He doesn’t begin to visually sweat, jitters, or anything.

I know it’s hard to pixelate characters faces, but dozens of other artists have been doing this for years. So due to that lack of detail/art the text narrative takes away from the moment because there isn’t any follow up action. Its like you’re reading a internal monologue but he just seems to poker face his way past a entire town full of dead bodies. This is unrealistic. Also some of the shading is bland. There’s a few areas that are identical to one another leaving a few areas boring just to look at. Then there are a few larger areas that have no interactive objects nor areas to enter and serve no purpose to the story at hand.

Other times, the in story character development is a little wonky. Like despite how completely scared out of his mind he claims to be, he stops the player from telling him to leave a area and states something like he needs to ‘settle the issues’ or whatever. If he was really that scared he’d be hauling ass to the nearest town/hotel/anything to get away from it all. The character will even encourage the player to explore the area more by saying certain hints a key times. This completely takes away from the mystery element of the game because he’s so BLUNT about it. A few times it said something along the lines of “I wonder if I should have picked up [x-item].” It’s like “really game?”

Meanwhile I’m sitting there thinking he has no purpose to encourage the user to stick around. He has no recollection of who he is, no memory of a good bit of his life, and the place is filled with dead bodies. The issues are settled because EVERYONE IS DEAD and the dipwad should run before he winds up dead too. He even mentions this at the camp site, but he still waddles about in the dark woods in the middle of the night while stumbling over more dead bodies. So it’s counter productive to basically tell the gamer what to do when the whole purpose of the game is to explore.

Despite these complaints it really is OK, but not great. Its really different play a game that lets you decide just about every action of the character, but makes it tedious. The mood is completely dreary and everything does it’s best to enhance that experience, with few exceptions. I wouldn’t pick it up for more then $5 due to how short it is and it won’t scare most people. Its more along the lines of a ‘thinking mans’ horror game, but I found it obnoxious since it leaves a lot of unanswered questions due to its too broad of a ‘chose your story’ approach.

This is entertaining in the end, but is short lived.

5.0/10

Cat: Horror, Adventure, Mystery

Tags: Benjamin Rivers