GET EVEN

GET EVEN

I have always had something of a love-hate relationship with horror games. For example, I’m always excited to start up a new horror game, but then once I actually get down to playing it, I start getting way too tense and stuff; there have been times I just totally stopped playing a game just because I couldn’t handle the atmosphere; Amnesia : The Dark Descent and Outlast did that to me, among many others. I don’t even know how I managed to get to the end of F.E.A.R as well. So, with some trepidation, I booted up Get Even. Did I manage to complete it? Well, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this review, now, would I?

We play as the protagonist, Black, with almost no memories at all concerning recent events; the only thing he remembers is trying to save a teenage girl with a bomb strapped to her chest, and failing to rescue her. With a machine called the Pandora fixed to his head, Black tries to get back his memories, and in the process unravel the mystery of the girl. Throughout this journey Black is accompanied by a mysterious entity who calls himself “Red”. Who is this Red guy, and his Pandora tech? What is this abandoned asylum we’re stuck in? Especially considering it isn’t as abandoned as one would like to believe, with creepy, disturbing inmates for company? Lots of questions to start with, and no answers whatsoever. And thus we begin to go down the rabbit hole.

                                                  Goddamn spooky places…

Get Even is a first-person shooter game, so the first thing to deal with would be, how does the gameplay stand up? Well, I’m glad to say it holds up quite well, actually. It starts off as a traditional shooter fare, but with the difficulty ramped up a few notches more than usual. Enemies go down with 1-3 well-placed shots, but so do we. Stealthy gameplay is encouraged, and it is ideal to kill nobody along the way so as not to distort the memories we’re reliving. When we do have to go loud, the shooting mechanics hold up nicely. In addition, Black has a weapon called the CornerGun, one with the ability to, you guessed it, shoot around corners with the aid of a joint at the center of the weapon. With its help, one can chill in cover and still kill the enemies without poking our heads out, as often.

However, Black is more of a detective than a killing machine. For this purpose, he has a smartphone which is way smarter than the normal ones. It is equipped with myriad features such as an IR scanner and a UV device among others. The camera in the phone is also the chief way you get about gathering the required evidence, apart from reading newspaper cutouts and flyers lying around the place. Not just that, though; the camera also locates some irregularities in the memories, and can remove obstacles, put up new ones as cover, or open up shortcuts on the map. It also serves as Black’s gun scope when shooting up people. And at the end of the missions, we get to visit the Evidence Room where we get to view all the evidence we have collected, and this adds an element of replayability for the completionists among us, if they happened to miss some of the evidence during the first playthrough of the mission.

                                       Don’t underestimate this phone, bruh…

The game’s atmosphere is superb. As in, superbly bleak and moody, with dilapidated warehouses, the spooky asylum with the crazy inmates and whatnot. The environment sets up the mood brilliantly, and the soundtrack of the game is just godly. It varies all the way from western classical music to a k-pop type number which kicks in during a mission where stuff begins to go sideways. This soundtrack is quite possibly the best I’ve encountered among the newer games. Added to this, is the choice system in the game. Do you choose to go in guns blazing, or a silent, stealthy approach? Should you let that asylum inmate out of his cell or just leave him in there? These choices make more impact than one would expect.

Not to say that Get Even is completely devoid of flaws, though. First of all, the protagonist Black cannot jump; there are some small obstacles which you think you would easily be able to bypass, but Black can’t vault even the minutest of walls. Also the stealth part of the game could have been executed better; at the very least it could have been improved from being an avoid-the-vision-cones gameplay it ended up being, which seems too barebones in approach to me although it does get the job done.

But when viewed in an overall sense, it is evident that the positives far outweigh the negatives. Pick up Get Even if for nothing, then just to experience the story, which develops in a psychological-thriller style, which totally works for me as I am a hardcore fan of the genre.

RATING : 8.5/10

PROS :
– Great plot and progression
– Nifty plot devices
– Atmosphere and environment
– Godly soundtrack
– Choices dictate outcomes

CONS :
– stealth gameplay is meh
– guy can’t even jump

 

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Baby Driver (2017)

Baby Driver (2017)

I don’t often watch movies, and certainly not right on the release date, preferring to instead spend my time gaming, or possibly watching anime or some good TV series. But this movie did rack up some talk, and I was free, even for my standards, so I thought, why not? Well, let’s get right down to the matter, and talk about how Baby Driver fares.

The protagonist’s name is Baby. Yes, you read that right, it’s Baby. So, what does he do? Baby works as a getaway driver for Doc, but is trying to get out of this stressful business. Why doesn’t he, you ask? Well, Baby happened to dump Doc’s merchandise on one occasion, and now Doc’s put him to work as the driver for all the heists he pulls off. Baby’s driving skills happened to be the only thing that saved him from taking a bullet to the head. And Baby comes with his own quirks. He’s always listening to music on his iPod, whether he’s just chilling at home with his foster dad or buying coffee for his heist mates or even during intense car chases where he’s drifting like crazy and pulling off 180-degree turns with a practised ease. Actually, his habit of listening to music started from his childhood itself, and was more of a necessity than anything else. When he was a kid, Baby was involved in an accident in which he lost both his parents and has since then been suffering from tinnitus, a condition in which the patient’s ears constantly ring. He uses music to drown out the noise.

One fine day, Baby meets a waitress at a coffee place and a love story begins between the two of them. And he’s also managed to pay off all that he owed Doc, by working as his driver for a bunch of heists. He now wants to get out of the nasty business he’s been embroiled in for so long, and lead a new life with his lover and his foster dad. But then he’s forced into participating in yet another heist by Doc, and this time round the odds seem a bit too long for the heist to succeed. Can Baby get out, once and for all, from this life of crime?

                                           So, that’s the plan. Baby, what do you think?

The story of Baby Driver is passable and gets the job done, for the most part. However, the plot progression has been achieved pretty well. However the movie drags a bit around the halfway mark, where the romance track kicks in. The action in this film is pretty slick, I must say. Chase scenes of all kinds were impeccably well done, and this is the shining point of Baby Driver. The car stunts are damn good, and makes you think about what The Fast and Furious series could have been, instead of the mindless set-piece montage it seems to have become. Another thing that was amazing, was the soundtrack of the film. It’s on point all the time; not only that, it also does a great job establishing Baby’s character. Watching the other thieves’ consternation at Baby’s seemingly carefree demeanor is always oddly satisfying. the humor is good too; and there is no overdose of it , a trap a lot of movies seem to fall into these days.

The acting in Baby Driver is pretty good, I would say. Ansel Elgort is awesome as the mostly-silent, music-loving Baby. CJ Jones as Baby’s deaf-and-dumb foster dad is good in his role; the silent banter between father and son is entertaining to witness. Kevin Spacey as the heist leader Doc, is witty and satirical, but underneath it all lies a menacing persona. A role he plays to perfection. Jamie Foxx as the volatile Bats is cool, and so are Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez as a pair of lovers robbing their way through the city. Lily James plays Deborah, Baby’s love interest, and does well too. But clearly, the standout performances come from Ansel and Kevin Spacey; it is their show throughout.

If you guys want to see something uber cool but somewhat grounded in reality, Baby Driver would be a good choice, in my opinion. If you happen to be going to the cinemas,better make Baby Driver the reason for this excursion.

RATING : 8.2/10 

PROS :
– Cool action sequences
– Humor is well done
– Ansel Elgort and Kevin Spacey are epic
– Awesome soundtrack

CONS :
– Plot is nothing special
– Film drags a bit during the middle part

 

John Wick : Chapter 2

John Wick : Chapter 2

The first iteration in the John Wick franchise was brutal and gory, yet the story was solidly made. John Wick, a retired contract killer, is reluctantly pulled back to his ways of old when the son of a Russian mafia don steals his car[a present from his deceased wife] and kill his dog. And we got to follow Johnny boy’s quest for revenge and oh boy, what a movie it was. So of course, I went in to the theater with high expectations.

The film begins with John Wick cleaning up the last remnants of the Russian boss’ family, and the boss’ cousin makes a truce with John for his life. John returns back home with his car, but then meets a ghost from the past. When John was trying to retire from being an assassin, he made a deal with Santino D’Antonio, one of the big names in the underworld, sort of. Now D’Antonio has returned for the favor he is owed. D’Antonio’s target : his own sister, who was set to inherit the seat among the big fifteen. John respectfully declines, stating he has left the world of killing for good, but D’Antonio doesn’t like that. He blows up John’s home, with him inside it; John barely manages to escape from the ensuing inferno.

But he couldn’t very well skip out on the contract he’s been offered, as he owed D’Antonio the favor, and the Continental guidelines also support the aggressor. Leaving John Wick in a contract which he just couldn’t back out of.  But as complicated as this may be, there are even more complexities in store; D’Antonio has set on John a tail in the form of Ares, a lady with a stare that could punch through you like daggers. Pretty soon the film turns into the good old killfest like in the first film, but this is not mindless, not by a long shot. As John races around from Rome back to his home town, there is only one thing he can be sure of; everyone is after him. As they say, it isn’t paranoia if everyone is out to get you.

                                                      John Wick and the pills guy…

As it was in the first film, John Wick 2‘s strength lies in its action scenes. The hand-to-hand combat scenes and the gunfights are shot with style, and there is an undeniable sense of efficiency in the way John Wick disposes of his would-be killers. This is action at its finest. But it is not just the action; the story is pretty good too, unlike many other action films where the plot takes a back seat, if even that. Also, the main character of John Wick is more fleshed out now in this second iteration. I just love how everyone stands up and takes notice of John whenever he’s around. Acting is decent too; Keanu Reeves does great as John Wick, the reluctant assassin. Ruby Rose as the mute-but-menacing Ares is cool as hell. Also has a Laurence Fishburne doing a cameo, which got half the theatre screaming “Morpheus!”. Importantly, it is not every action movie that has an atmosphere as charged-up as this.

In the end, I’d say this is one of the best action movies to come out in recent times. I like the fact that John Wick 2 doesn’t rely on cheesy CGI and unnecessary explosions to keep the action rolling. And it does the job a sequel should do; improve upon the original in every way. If you happen to like action, then wait till you get a load of this!

RATING : 9.7/10

PROS :
– brilliant action scenes
– solid story
– electrifying atmosphere

CONS :
– extras do a kind of crappy job, sometimes

 

Nocturnal Animals [2016]

Nocturnal Animals [2016]

I finished watching Nocturnal Animals about an hour ago. And I must confess, it was a mind-screw type of film in some aspects. Best thing about it, is I’ve always liked such films. Also, I’m a sucker for Jake Gyllenhaal’s films; they always have the element of the psychological in them. Does this film by Tom Ford match up to those other films I like?

Susan Morrow is an insomniac; can’t sleep at night even if she put her heart and soul into it unless sleeping pills are also popped in concert with that glass of water she’s just had. But Susan’s problems are not just confined to insomnia, her personal and professional life[she’s an art gallery owner] both have started feeling really dull and unsatisfactory to her. But things start changing when she receives a manuscript of a novel her ex-husband had been working on for some time. The name of the novel? Nocturnal Animals. As she starts reading the novel, she is drawn deeper and deeper into the story, to the point where she is so immersed that something happening in the outside world would startle her back to life.

This is how the movie starts off. Once Susan begins reading the novel, a new phase of the film begins; the film now keeps switching between Susan and the happenings in the novel she’s reading. In the novel, Tony Hastings is out with his wife Laura and their daughter India for a camping trip out in Western Texas. But during the night, an altercation between the holidaying family and a group of delinquents turns unsavory, and quickly the situation turns horribly wrong. So basically, on the one hand the viewer sees Susan leading her mundane life with the regular staff meetings and discussions and such; on the other hand a thriller is playing out with Tony trying his best to keep his family safe.

                                                            This guy is freakin’ intense…

The plot is pretty much on point here, and the way the two arcs are handled deserves special praise; nowhere does it feel like either one of them is dragging. Also the reminiscences Susan has about her past life, are also well melded into the storytelling. Also, the eerie atmosphere of the novel when contrasted with Susan’s elaborate living conditions, makes for some sudden but great transitions between the novel and real life. Acting deserves special mention in this film; my man Jake Gyllenhaal does it again, as he has done so so many times. His double act as the novelist ex-husband Edward Sheffield and the terrified  family man Tony Hastings makes for a great watch. So is Isla Fisher’s Laura, Tony’s wife in the novel. But my personal favorite in this film was Amy Adams, who played the insomnia-ridden Susan. She is amazing in every which way throughout the film. By the way, watch out for Aaron Taylor-Johnson too, he’s the X-factor for this movie. He’s the most psychopathic character I’ve seen since Jake’s Nightcrawler, I think.

So, what do I say? If you are a fan of psychological thrillers, then you’ll definitely love this film. Although I must say, Nocturnal Animals seems like a film which will lead to polarizing opinions from the viewers. Let me know how you felt about the film.

RATING : 8.8/10

PROS :
– plot progression is neat
– smooth transitions
– great acting all over
– mind-screw

CONS :
– not for everyone

The Chaser(2008)

The Chaser(2008)

I have said it before, and I will say it again; Korean films are a blast to watch. Not because they are entertaining or fun; no one who has seen movies like Memories of Murder or Oldboy will say anything contrary to my statement. No, they are a blast because they are really intense pieces of art, which will make you question everything and assume not a single thing. Or maybe it’s just my awesome choice at picking out the cream of the Korean offerings, but anyways. Let’s get into The Chaser now, without further ado.

The film begins with the former Task Force detective-turned-pimp sending out one of his girls for business, if you know what I mean. But the guy is also getting paranoid about his state of affairs, as two of his call girls have quite probably just escaped without giving him any information of their whereabouts. He wants to tighten up his protocol to ensure these incidents do not repeat in the future. Unluckily, the girl who the pimp has just sent out, is also on her way to meet him. I don’t think I will be able to tell you readers any more about the plot, as some key details might be spoilt for those of you who wish to see the film. But I can assure you of one thing; it is pretty twisted and messed-up on a different level.

                                                                           The chase is on!

This is a different kind of film from the normal, as we already know the antagonist at the outset itself. Something I haven’t often seen in the suspense thriller genre. The screenplay ought to be tight, which is a requirement for this type of film, and thankfully the film delivers on that front. Also, this is quite possibly the Korean film with the fastest pacing I’ve seen yet. And the acting is spot-on, I must say. All the characters are fully fleshed out, from the pimp to the antagonist to the call girl and her kid daughter, to the police.  It is as if they are living in their roles. That might seem a bit cliche, but that is god’s honest truth. And the story is based on some real-life events, which honestly does throw up some red flags about the existence of hope in this world. This is some really depressing shit.

Overall, I’d say this: if you have watched a few Korean film, chances are you’ve watched this already. If you haven’t, guess what; it’s time for you to do yourself a favor already. And those of you who don’t[or haven’t yet] watched Korean suspense thrillers yet, this is a great way to initiate yourself into it.

RATING : 9.7/10

PROS :
– top-notch acting
– insane pacing
– pretty dark and disturbing

CONS :
– may be too dark for some

 

PEAKY BLINDERS [SEASON 3]

PEAKY BLINDERS [SEASON 3]

The third season of Peaky Blinders picks up about two years after season 2’s thrilling climax. Let’s check it out now [Note : Don’t read this if you haven’t seen the second season of Peaky Blinders].

After the successful coup on Derby Day to take over Sabatini’s racetrack gambling business and the killing of Major Campbell[along with Tommy’s all-too-close an encounter with death], we jump forward in time by about two years. Grace returned at the end of the second season, and the first episode begins with Thomas Shelby getting married to her. During the reception, a Russian refugee comes to the Shelbys and gives them a code for a money-exchange meeting between Tommy and an unknown other. Also, Tommy has entered into a deal with Father John Hughes and Co., not something Tommy wanted to be a part of, but something he can’t really help in his current situation. With the tensions between the Soviet and the British factions within the country increasing, Tommy is forced into a conspiracy  in which he has to plan and play both the sides to get out safe and sound. Can he and his Peaky Blinders gang survive this?

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                                                            One of the cool scenes…

Far as the setting and atmosphere are concerned, no worries about the creators messing them up; they do a clean job of conveying the conditions of the times perfectly, and the early-mid 1920s have been recreated well. But this was only expected from a team which has been consistent over two previous seasons. Also the pacing of the story has only increased, which is all to the better. Acting is top-notch as always. Some new characters have entered into the Peaky Blinders saga now. Chief among these are Paddy Considine playing Father John Hughes, and Gaite Jansen as Princess Tatiana Petrovna; both being nothing short of amazing. Just see for yourself, as revealing any details about their roles might spoil some of the sense of discovery to the viewers.

If you’ve watched and enjoyed the previous two seasons of Peaky Blinders, then there should be little stopping you from getting into the third installment as well. Great stuff as usual.

RATING : 8.6/10

PROS :
– even better pacing
– amazing new characters

 

PEAKY BLINDERS [SEASON 2]

Anyone who has watched the first season of Peaky Blinders and enjoyed it, ought to sign up for its next installment too. So without further ado, let’s jump into this. [Note : If you haven’t watched the first season of the show yet, you might find some spoiler here, so keep away!]

The plot picks up after the dramatic happenings of the first season, with the guns being found thanks to Grace’s spying from the inside of the organization, followed by her taking her leave from the country, off to America. About a couple of years after these happenings, we return to the show, just in time for Freddie Thorne’s funeral. While they were attending the funeral, someone blows up the Shelby pub. When Tommy goes to confront those who he thinks were behind this atrocity, he winds up in yet another conspiracy, this time of an even greater magnitude than the one before. As if that were not enough, Tommy’s old, old friend, Chester Campbell, now a Major, makes his way back to Small Heath to settle scores with Tommy.

Also, Tommy’s plans of expanding his business to London is met with hostility by the Italian gangsters working under Sabini. So, to get a foothold in the city of London, Tommy decides to join hands with a Jewish gang working under Alfie Solomons, a difficult man to predict at the best of times. Arthur is losing his mind due to recurrent flashbacks of his experiences during the war, and Aunt Polly is trying to make contact with her long-lost children who had been forcibly taken away from her. So basically, a lot of stuff is under foot.

Anyone who has watched the first season of Peaky Blinders should feel right at home with the sequel’s pacing too. The plot is solid as expected, and the character development is brilliant. New characters make their way into the show, and at least two of them are awesome choices. Tom Hardy plays Alfie Solomons, the Jewish gangster, and his depiction of the role is intense, to say the least. Finn Cole’s role of Michael Gray is careful and calculated, and the actor fits into the role like it was made for him. And all the familiar cast is great as usual, no complaints there. Arthur Shelby’s role has now been more fleshed out, a welcome addition, if somewhat unsettling to watch.

Overall, a great follow up to a great show. Watch it immediately if you have watched the first season.

RATING : 8.3/10

PROS :
– all the positives of the first season
– new characters are great