Birdman Movie Review

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WARNING: Mild Spoilers

Birdman centers around Riggan. He’s a Hollywood actor who’s fallen out of the spotlight and is struggling to make a comeback. Along the way you discover his other problems and failures. It also covers the story of multiple actors and the madness that happens behind the scenes of a play. For every aspect that goes into this film its central theme is that they all struggle with a sense of lost fame or just flat out growing older. So it feels like a mid-life crises movie for the theater crowd. Then it lightly touches with others frustrations like unwavering movie critics or a daughter they don’t have time for. The madness truly sets in when their main actor gets hurt.

I love weird movies with social and political commentary, but this was a hit and miss to me. Either the jokes were middle school grade crass or very artistically done. The jump between the differences is smooth, but unpredictable. That’s fine, but the crass jokes hamper the artistic style and flow of the film. The other neat thing is that everyone had a joke, regardless of quality, in the film. I thought this was cool since usually in most films it’s only one guy, or small group, being the catalyst for the jokes. But no, everyone was funny at least a few times.

On top of that this is a completely beautifully shot film. It has nearly no cuts in it and looks like one continuous shot. This almost made me feel like I was one of the cast members, although it had a voyeuristic feel since none of them ever interacted with the camera. The extreme closeups of the characters did add to a sense of ‘being in the moment’ with the character. It emphasized that the audience should be paying attention to the characters rather then the background. This was a neat aspect, but the background was hideously distracting since there is a insane amount of detail in just about every scene. One example is when Riggan is talking to his now ex-girlfriend and talking about how they would be bad parents.

The only thing I couldn’t stand about the film, unfortunately, was half the stories political and social commentary. I’ve heard it all before, multiple times, so it came off as completely boring to me. One part of the movie Sam (Emma Stone) freaks out on her Dad, Riggan. She states that he doesn’t matter anymore and pretty much states what he does doesn’t matter. Its a glaring commentary of people innate need to be or feel wanted, when in a dark truth none of them matter to a certain extent. So if you have the slightest clue as to what nihilism is, then this is glaringly obvious to you. Other times it hates on the audience, which is completely hilarious, but it’s still the same boring argument. Either the audience is made of art snobs like the Tabitha character or they just want a shit ton of violence and explosions which is something you hear a few times in Riggans internal rants. Both have validity, both have a important statement to make, but seriously I’ve heard it a zillion times before.

This is probably one the best all around cast performances that I’ve seen all year, maybe even in a long time. Michael Keaton probably gave one of the best performances in his career in this one. He was manic and strange and did it at sporadic levels. It was really well done and convincing. Emma Stone did a grand job looking like a complete washout with some social conscience. This was refreshing since she always picks the goody two shoes roles and how it was written was great. Most druggie characters are either the comic relief or completely assholes to the point where I don’t think I’d care if they recover or not. With her acting and the way the character is written it really does drive home how she’s just struggling to deal with everyone and life itself. Even when she expresses her fear that she doesn’t matter was rather heart wrenching. Zach Galifianakis was fantastic in this semi-dramatic role. Usually he gets handed a role that makes me wonder about the characters emotional or mental stability. This role helped prove he has range. Naomi Watts, like her other performers, is here and there. However in this one she shinned as a struggling performer who’s trying to keep it all together with a weird boyfriend and still make a living. Edward Norton was great as usual, but he’s a like Guy Pearce, Helen Mirren, or John Goodman. They rarely suck in any of their performances. To see a substandard performance would be rare and unusual. Jeremy Shamos and Damian Young shared bit roles, and were funny. However it was a shame they didn’t have more screen time. Also last, but not least, is Andrea Riseborough. She was fantastically creepy as the super unstable girlfriend and as a performer who was too into acting.

The cast and crew should be thoroughly pleased with themselves. They’ve made a hell of a film that covers vast topics in a really cramped time frame. I am forced to give it a lower rating though because I’ve heard it all before. To me it’s like talking to a green peace guy who cries about the environment but then doesn’t go out and plant trees, or any other kind of foliage for that matter, to offset the CO2 caused by pollution hes just complained about. So it’s kinda like more pretentious crying, but I can’t say that as a absolute considering it presents a lot of the philosophical topics in a different light. Even if I didn’t care for it it was done very well with clever black comedy. Also the black comedy is so well done it even gave me a warm cynical smile sometimes without feeling shitty. This is noteworthy since black comedy usually more grotesque or even mean to the point of many people, with a soul, end up hating the punchline.

This is a great thinking film. If you want to find yourself asking questions about life, love, fame, and self importance long after the film, then watch this. This might even be a good piece to analyze later in some art class or a philosophy class. Regardless you should probably see this at least once for the balance character development and the great performance by everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE.

8.0/10

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Horrible Bosses 2 Movie Review

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Warning: MILD SPOILERS about stuff.

Nick Hendricks, Kurt Buckman, and Dale Arbus invent a new show gadget and try to market it on a TV show to find investors. Bert Hanson calls them up and invites them to talk about a contract. He tells them to invest in the product. They go out and buy up a shop, employees, and basically put themselves in debt. They go back to Hanson and announce that they’ve completed his order. Hanson informs them that he plans to not buy anything from them so they can go bankrupt and he can buy them out. Since they didn’t sign a contract he doesn’t owe them squat. So this is when they decide to hatch a plot for revenge.

This was only mildly funny to me. The jokes were hit and miss. I found myself only snickering half the time and rolling my eyes the other half. It was like a weird mesh between Always Sunny and Arrested Development. The weirder thing for me is that I even found characters I hated in a COMEDY of all places. Also due to how the script was written I think they underused some talent they had. Although this was a nice stretch for some into other roles in the future I’m not sure it will help them that much. To a certain extent it was like a transition role for some in this film.

Most of the jokes were a strange mixture of everything. I like it, but its a stark smash in the face when it goes from crass humor half the movie to something that’s damn near cute-ish. Also everyone did a decent job delivering said jokes. There was only about two I think were stale, but that’s because it’s a over used bit. In the very beginning they are displaying their new invention and one person is behind a see through shower pumping a water pump. Of course it makes it looks like some sort of homosexual act. Yes funny, but it’s been done a lot. There was another joke that involved Jennifer Aniston‘s character being particularly disgusting and there’s a fine line between doing a smutty character and then there’s the other half where it’s down right repulsive. It comes off either stalker-ish or insinuates rape. To say the least it was a poorly done joke about rape, but I find those kinds of jokes abhorrent anyway. The way it was done was disgustingly cringe worthy. This made me think that she was the worst character in the whole movie. For those who have PTSD problems and ‘trigger words’ consider this your warning. Its at the very tail end of the film if that helps and some at the beginning.

I didn’t mind the acting, but it wasn’t a stretch for many of them. Jason Bateman, whom I’ve never been able to fully watch anything of his, does the same role as many of his other movies/tv shows. He’s essentially the straight man amongst two or more idiots and gets sucked into their stupidity. This is bad because I think he can act, like so many others, and either doesn’t get the diverse roles or just like doing the same crap over and over. Jason Sudeikis, whom I thought always decent on SNL, played parallel to Charlie Day in being completely stupid characters. Sudeikis is strange, loud, and angry half the time and it fits well, but I’ve seen him do this done a few times. Day essentially plays the same role of as his Always Sunny character. They’re both funny, but essentially the same characters. Jennifer Aniston plays a great villain and its welcoming since she’s always been type cast as that damn Friends character for the longest time. That being said she was convincing enough that I hated her damn character. Kevin Spacey was spastic and strange. He brought the darker side of comedy to this movie and did it well. Jamie Foxx seems better as bad guys from the few things I’ve seen him in. His lines in this one seemed a little more genuine. Chris Pine was a decent as a bad guy in this one, but it needs a little work. Or maybe it was the script, who knows.

This movie is a decent comedy. I don’t think it will go down as anything big, but it’ll have enough to give a few a chuckle. It had a mixture of crude, silly, cute, situational, wry, and even slapstick humor. The acting was varied and for some it might be distracting now and then. The story is steady and has some different kind of twists, but might be predictable to some. It’s worth a watch at least once.

6.0/10

Little Inferno PC Video Game Review

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Tomorrow Corporation is selling gadgets world wide. Somehow a freak snowstorm smothers Earth. So they ship out “Little Inferno” and suggest people burn their stuff to stay warm. They do and then they run out of stuff. So Tomorrow Corp finds a way to let them burn things they order Tomorrow Corp and help them make money. In turn they buy more and then burn more, etc. etc.

I like this game, but it’s one of the most exceedingly weird games I’ve ever played. While it is a puzzle based game it does have its fair share of uselessness for a sandbox game. It falls along the lines of The Incredible Machine, but you set it all on fire. Regardless it doesn’t have much of a story. It seems like its going for a anti-consumerist and anti-pollution statement, but it is rather bland due to there not being enough backstory, or even a story to promote said message. You can watch the trailer and pretty much surmise that’s what they’re talking about.

You get a few characters who pop in from time to time. Who give some back story, but are mostly useless. Like one lady who turns out to be your neighbor, Sugar Plumps, but she doesn’t say much more then Hello and then asks for items. She eventually gets weirder as the story goes on, but its nothing unusual if you’ve already accepted the dreary world. Then there’s the Weatherman who is virtually useless. He gives the forecast for the weather for the next few days, but since you never go outside I don’t see the point of him at all. Sure his character could be hinting at the anti-consumerist and anti-pollution statement in the game, as mentioned before, but I’m not interested in politics when I play a game unless they are vital to the story like Metal Gear Solid.

Many of the puzzles are damn simple. It combines almost a match the objects and a reverse pictionary game, where its words instead of pictures, and you have to guess the combination of things to burn. Like in the first book in order to solve one puzzle you have to find two things to burn simultaneously that match the theme. In a way its like poetry for pyromaniacs. They’re fun, but they aren’t required in order to play the game. In all honesty the game isn’t possible to fail. So you can play it as much as you want or as little and avoid the puzzles all together. The thing that distracts from the puzzle is the disturbing nature of some of the puzzles. Some when combined you can hear whatever it is scream as its set ablaze. Or the explosion will be so bright it will wash out the screen for a bit.

The graphics and art style are probably the most notable things about the game. They are consistently dark and mulled. The crudeness of the figures are almost reminiscent of those ‘troubled kids’ you see in all horror movies. You know they draw ugly frightening bears and they come to life or something. Some would even say it’s reminiscent of Tim Burton’s art style, but his has a round features to it while this has a crude grease pencil look followed by someone’s tormented 5th grade scrap booking project. Sometimes the creatures are too damn dark and it seems that the artist forgot to use his white crayon to highlight details on the item. Other times it gives you a odd cozy feeling while still feeling mildly disturbing. Now since the things you buy to burn come to life and scream in pain while you’re burning them it just makes it that much more creepy. Its like the items want to be burned. It sounds evil in a way, but its funny/odd to observe.

I can’t recommend this to everyone, because it’s a weird puzzle game. I like these kinds of things, but it has maybe 4 hours worth of play time total. So if you can stand a mild morose atmosphere and teddy bears crying as you burn them alive then this is at least worth a try. If you can find it for $5 I’d say it’s worth it. There isn’t any replay value, but it is a fun and very creepy experience. I wish I could give it a higher rating because it is really a fun game, but it doesn’t have enough story for me to warrant it.

6.5/10

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards: Reloaded PC Video Game Review

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WARNING: Spoilers and stuff. Things.

There isn’t a nice way to say it so here it is: Leisure Suit Larry is a schmuck. A womanizer. A skirt chaser. A manwhore. His goal for this evening is to get laid. So he scoots around town trying to find a woman. He makes a few enemies along the way and even assaults a whale. But all the excitement ends in a hot tube.

For those who weren’t born after the 90s Larry has been around for quite some time. Apparently this time he’s jumped into a time machine and went back to relive his first game. Regardless, the dork is out for you know what. Its a fun romp to live again in nostalgia-ville and listen to some jokes of yesteryear. The good thing about it is that it’s like playing a old favorite game, or even a favorite movie. The down side is that it seems like it’s missing some of the cursing and nudity. Yes, it’s kinda schmuck-ish to complain about this kind of thing, but that kinda added to the charm of the original. To use a modern day reference it would be like if Glenn Quagmire (from the Family Guy TV show) got his own videogame and he wasn’t as gross or out right disgusting. The whole appeal to Larry is that he was the underdog who you, after a while, cheered for when he has a smutty good time.

Most would morally object to this game and I understand that. However, Larry is the kind of schmuck that everything just about bites him in the ass in a hilarious way. So I would even recommend this for women who hate misogynistic men. To a certain extent it might be a weird dream for women like Anita Sarkeesian. Another cool thing about him is if he dies, which can happen a lot, you are immediately brought back to your previous position. But in all honesty it isn’t as shocking, or bad, as some of the other things that has come out through out the history of time. To say the least the controversy that’s always surrounded the Larry games is absolutely unwarranted. This game is like a wet fart during someones speech in class. It pokes at the silliness of sex while not showing any.

The graphics are great. It’s has some stale cartoonie details that aren’t animated. However it doesn’t take away from the story itself or the atmosphere. Which is another thing: the atmosphere almost gives a kinda fun vibe to it being a game about sex. Yes there are some blatant sexual themes to the artwork, but its very smoothly done so that there isn’t any nudity. Its almost done in style of a perverted cartoon shown on HBO.

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards: Reloaded isn’t a totally forgettable experience. Its just that it is the exact same as before. The humor is the same. It’s the kinda smarmy tongue and cheek jokes that some will love and some will hate. The graphics are even more wonderfully cartoonie then before and the voice acting is still top notch. If you can find it for cheap I’d recommend picking it up if you haven’t played it already.

6.5/10

Zafehouse Diaries PC Video Game Review

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Something has caused a Zombie Apocalypse. A group of people are stranded in a random town somewhere on Earth. They have secure their home of their choosing and put their petty differences aside in order to survive. In some scenarios they have to figure a way out of town. Other times they just have to not kill each other long enough to get a helicopter ride out.

I know a lot of people praise this game, but I hated it. I found a lot of this to be appallingly unrealistic or it felt like the game set itself to GOD mode. For example: there isn’t enough of any kind of supplies, EVER. So people either bleed out due to wounds or die of starvation. Now with the obesity rates around the world climbing this is a little difficult to believe that NO ONE has food other then ‘snacks’ half the time. The town, no matter where its rendered, seems to have a zombie population the size of New York City, even on ‘easy’ mode. Then the main mission, which is escape the town, is virtually impossible due to the incompetence of your crew.

The people you control are randomly generated, but are woefully utterly useless nearly 60% of the time. No one seems to be competent in anything remotely useful. So there’s a good chance that the game will give you 5 people who have 5 out of 5 star rating for watching zombies, but no one has higher then a single star for building a barricade to prevent the zombies from getting in. Other times I’ve encountered scenarios that no one knows how to make traps or they have really poor hand to hand combat skills. So unless I want to use a gun and attract even more zombies the ENTIRE TEAM would died within 5 days. Even then they’d all die once they ran out of ammo anyway.

Other times they all seem to hate each other for petty stupid reasons. This absolutely doesn’t make any sense at all. Sure humanity is petty and stupid and kill each other for just about any reason. However, everyone seems to know really intricate details about one another regardless of actually establishing a dialogue or back story. So apparently all AI in this game are physic knows everyone else likes, dislikes, skills, financial background and much more. Now I’ve seen some pretty miraculous things in my life: like how tragedy can bring enemies together. This displays the EXACT OPPOSTE to extreme and unrealistic perspective.

On top of that their actions are completely unrealistic. One time a huge hoard of zombies broke into the house. Sometimes it takes a few days for everyone to fight off the group and then rebuild. Instead two women who hated each other decided to break into a fight, during the zombie invasion. You’re reading that right: as the zombies were tearing everything limb from limb these two morons decided to fight each other. The saddest part was that they were the best fighters of the group. Oh and guess what? They all died! Another time someone snuck out during the middle of the night, FOR NO APPARENT REASON, and then came back bitten. Another time a guy went for a walk, who wasn’t known for his athleticism, and got killed. Now the game does a great job on who does what and it was noted he didn’t take any means of defense despite the fact that we had a few machetes and guns and that little fact that THE TOWN IS SURROUNDED BY ZOMBIES!

The graphics are kinda standard for a indie game. It feels more like you’re playing a board game or a zombie version of Dungeons and Dragons in some respect. That’s cool and all, but after a while it gets a little stale. Instead of seeing your characters full body you give a description of everything. It just gives a ugly mugshot like picture of the character. Then the profile is usually disappointing. Instead of stating anything useful it gives very generic information. Like “Steve loves poodles and grew up in a rich family. He ‘secretly’ hates the middle class and circus midgets.” Now any negative things stated in someones profile you are pretty much guaranteed to have. You’ll have a middle class circus midgets in the group somewhere. Anyway it’s next to worthless information. Sometimes it’ll have a footnote up in the upper right stating a large negative or positive quality, but it rarely is fruitful in any way.

Due to the game play mechanics it feels like a spreadsheet sometimes. But don’t get me wrong: this is actually the neatest part of the game. They tell everything through a journal or how you can command your group through quick commands on the right side of the board. However, it felt like a windows prompt that helped you do maintenance on your computer rather then playing a game. Since the characters have no sense to do things on their own you have to tell them to do everything. Also in order to help them progress on whatever you click a watch to speed up time. It’s neat that it’s the “Go” button, but you have to pay attention to everything or else the jobs you assign them or you can easily send the group to their death rather then just scout a area.

Out of all the zombie based games I’ve played this was the most frustrating, short lived, and possibly worst gaming experience I’ve had. It isn’t impossible to play, but it certainly isn’t possible the way the game randomly generates some groups. It does require strategy, but in order for any strategy to be effective the people participating in it have to be competent and not behave like 4 year olds. While I do applaud them for their game play design and simplistic graphics I’ll have to say nothing excuses them from this poor of a experience with such stupid AI.

2.0/10