Margera4445

IMDb member since December 2005
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Reviews

Deus Ex: Human Revolution
(2011)

A Shining Example of What an Action-RPG Should Be.
It's been a fairly decent sum of years since the first Deus Ex game came out, and when it did, it's safe to say the game became an instant classic. It's mixture of the frenetic action seen in FPS shooters of its time with the structure of RPG's that saw the player's actions as a definition of the main character's personality gave Deus Ex a feel all its own. When it was released in 2000, the game played with the notions of cyber-terrorism and government conspiracy that were so popular in the wake of the Y2K scare, and the cyberpunk feel only heightened that sense of post-cyberia life. Now, 11 years later, Deus Ex: Human Revolution has a whole new notion, a whole new look, and a wonderfully amazing feel to it that seeks to only inject you deeper into the world that Deus Ex has been built around.

-PREMISE- You take control of Adam Jensen, security chief for biotech corporation Sarif Industries. In the wake of a massive attack on Sarif's HQ, Adam is left bloodied, batter, and half-past dead, but due to the technological advancements made through modern science, Adam's been outfitted by the latest Augmentations - or, as they're better known throughout the game world, Augs. Six months pass before Adam is taken back by Sarif to handle a developing situation with the Purists, a group of activists who stage violent protests against Sarif for their pro-Aug activities. It's through dealing with these terrorists that Adam soon learns there's much more to the attacks on Sarif, and the death of his girlfriend and her team six months ago, than meets the eye. He sets off on a trek from Detroit to China and more to find the missing puzzle pieces in the game of Corporate chess he seems to've been thrust into playing.

-GAMEPLAY- DX:HR is heavily threaded in the idea that you can be whatever character you build yourself to be. You're given a blank template at the beginning of the game, as well as two questions, that will decide which type of character you'll be playing. Adam Jensen is a super soldier of sorts, his augments allow him to walk into any situation armed with some sort of defense. This means that you, as a player, can outfit him to be the ultimate fighting machine or an agent of extreme subterfuge.

Players can outfit Adam's personal augmentation loadout. His enhancement options can range from the simple (muscular, cerebral etc.) to the complex (hacking skills, implanted rebreathers, stealth cloaking devices etc.), it all depends on how the player wishes to utilize Adam's augs in completing the missions he's sent to complete.

The weapons Adam is loaded out with range from heavy weapons (heavy machine rifles, sniper rifles, laser cannons etc.) to personal defense (combat rifles, machine pistols, handguns etc.) and each can be customized to fit the player's standards. Augmentations made to guns can be anything from silencers to ammunition counts, and they all come in handy one way or another.

Arguably the best part about the game is its combat system. Players are left with the choice to go in guns a-blazing or work their way through the levels in a stealthy, deliberate manner. Either way, players will make great use of the expertly crafted cover system. When Adam goes into cover, the camera zooms from its first person perspective, allowing the player to see over and around walls and plan their routes accordingly. The player can sidle along cover and roll or quickly maneuver to the next piece of cover available to them. While moving cover-to-cover can be seamless and fun to perform, the player must always plan their movements carefully as enemies are always on the lookout.

Another excellent aspect to the combat is the takedown system. When prompted, the player can either take down their opponents with a knockout move or a fatality. Both takedown maneuvers are extremely entertaining to perform, however Adam utilizes his own aug energy in performing them, meaning the player must be full up on energy before committing a takedown. Not that it matters much. For most enemies, I found that utilizing the Stun Gun was an extremely useful method for one shot knockouts.

The game has its fair share of boss encounters. As anyone who might've played the Deus Ex series before DX:HR, they would know that boss fights tend to fluctuate between outright difficult and damn near impossible to work past. DX:HR is no different in this respect. A total of four boss fights and about 75% of them will have the player shaking their fists in anger. That is, of course, unless the player is outfitted with the right Augs. Remember, update your augs, operate smoothly, and the excellent gameplay will forgive the occasional 'what the french toast?' boss fight moments.

-OVERALL- The game is a sleek, shining example of what the Action-RPG genre should be. In a world where the Mass Effects and Skyrims dominate such arenas, its easy to see how this game could be overlooked. However, if you enjoyed such series as Splinter Cell or even Metal Gear Solid, then it's hard to see why you wouldn't want to pick up Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

-9/10-

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
(2007)

These Wastes Are Unforgiving.
It's been a long time since I picked up an FPS/RPG that functioned in almost every way you'd want an FPS/RPG to function. That's pretty much the reason 'S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl' made my entire 3 and a half nights of playing it a non-stop and nearly inspirational experience. GSC Game World, a company out of the Ukraine who made some pretty interesting RTS games back in the day, gives us a totally new and unique experience, meshing the exploration and realism aspects of the Operation Flashpoint games with the RPG feel of the Deus Ex series. But that's only part of the appeal that makes S.T.A.L.K.E.R, arguably, one of the best FPS/RPG games to be released.

Let's get a rundown on the storyline of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. You play as an amnesiac adventurer, adventurer being a term to deviate from their more colloquial nomenclature of S.T.A.L.K.E.R's. S.T.A.L.K.E.R is pretty much one great big abbreviation for Scavengers, Trespassers, Adventurers, Loners, Killers, Explorers and Robbers. These STALKER's reside in the wildernesses and broke-down old ruins of the Zone of Alienation surrounding the fallout zone of the Chernobyl incident. Back to the main idea, your STALKER's memory is gone and he's gotta get it back by finding out who Strelok is. The only thing he DOES know about this Strelok character is that he's supposed to kill them, according to the PDA found on his person. So, you lead the "Marked One", as he's known amongst the populace of the Zone, across the forgotten ruins of the Chernobyl alienation zone to get to the title character herself and kill Strelok. Sounds easy enough, right? Screw what you thought about easy.

--Gameplay-- S.T.A.L.K.E.R plays a lot like you would expect an FPS/RPG to play while still maintaining a form all its own. The environment is separated into different areas. Some are named according to their functions, others are named for their real-life counterparts. The Marked One's journey leads you across the Zone of Alienation, through faithfully recreated places such as the Red Forest and even up into the abandoned city of Prypiat. There's even more to discover underground, with some places Marked One comes upon hiding secret entrances to the dangerous remnants of the Zone's turbulent past.

Now, when I used the word 'dangerous' to describe the underground, I felt the need to overstate just how dangerous the Zone is. With the X-Ray engine's capabilities in physics and AI, the Marked One's worst enemies are YOUR worst enemies. Elevation matters even more than you might think. Each bullet you fire at an enemy carries physical weight to it. When firing a weapon, you'll have to be aware of the dropshot, as ballistics in STALKER are mostly as real as it gets. Gunfighting is the most prominent factor the game. Constantly you'll find yourself in contact with more than one vicious bandit or mutant, when I say vicious, I mean vicious. The mutants can act just like the humans can, only they're tougher to kill and twice as likely to completely destroy you. But, when it boils down to it, the ones you should worry about most are the ones shooting guns at you. For instance, if you get into a heavy gunfight and back yourself into a corner, expect to load a save game immediately. Enemies will flank your position, creep out from beneath cover to shoot at you, and even find alternate routes to surprise attack you. Attackers are merciless in their efforts to bring you down, and, unsurprisingly, you should never expect to beat this game without dying at the hands of a crazed mutant. Well-placed shots from enemies lead to blood loss, which can spell trouble for you if your fresh out of bandages.

Pretty much every item in the game has weight to it when carried. It's possible to carry as many as 3 weapons with space still for a fourth, at the expense of carrying less med-packs or food stuffs. Even though this might not seem like a hard choice to make, you should remember that every single item holds particular significance to your survival. Dropping a few health packs for a sub-machine gun? Bad idea.

I felt like it was worth mentioning that I played this game on Novice difficulty and ended up loading a saved game roughly 30-40 times. Yeah. It's that harsh.

--Overall-- Badass, big ass location ripe for the pickin's? Check. Pretty realistic game world capable of being immersed into? Check. Chernobyl? Check. It would seem that S.T.A.L.K.E.R has it all. A new age RPG/FPS that's still new age even if it's five years old. It gives you a character, gives you a goal, then tells you to have at it. And while the combat is too hard to sink oneself into, there hasn't been one sour-faced 'game over' yet. Only somewhat disappointed ones.

All in all, S.T.A.L.K.E.R is one of the coolest, most immersive and innovative games I've played. It takes everything that Fallout wished it could be and shoves it into a radiation-laden room, locking the door behind it. With the nearly horrifying atmosphere underground and the captivating wasteland up above, the Zone is certainly one of my new top ten favorite video game locations. It's safe to say that if you're looking for a game that has survival, intensity and overall fun packed into it, then S.T.A.L.K.E.R will probably not disappoint you.

Prototype
(2009)

Alex Mercer Probably Should've Stayed Dead
Playstation 2 days are relived when you pick up games that include superhero exploits across the whole of Manhattan Island. I'm reminded of Activision's Spiderman franchise that made the comic book action and, by Spiderman 2, web-slinging free-roam an experience worth...well, experiencing. Prototype nearly hits that mark in a faithful bound, but misses it by miles and falls flat on its face...into a barrage of tank-fire, no less.

Like any good superhero story, Alex Mercer's begins as an ordinary man placed in extraordinary situations and given great and foreign powers because of it. Granted, Alex is no superhero. His exploits across the island of Manhattan usually result in catastrophic bodycounts on both civilian and military sides. Either way, when he's around, someone is ending up sliced in two. You take the hooded anti-hero across the island, witnessing firsthand as the Big Apple gets a few bruises in the fashion of an rampant, infectious disease that's taking over people and buildings alike. As the story goes along, it's made clear that it's all Alex's fault. Pretty much -everything- is Alex's fault. That is, of course, except for the game's mechanics and storyline.

-The Big Picture- The storyline is mostly predictable. Alex is a rebellious employee for a big corporation who screwed the pooch big time when he released a crazy virus that starts crawling across Manhattan. Of course, everything goes wrong, Alex gets plugged by a few soldiers and ends up as the shapeshifting warmachine you see here. The virus basically took him over and is now using him as a vehicle. Yeah.

When you get past that crazy mess, you have the ridiculously overdone writing for the soldiers. The lot of which sounds a lot like random words thrown together to mock the codespeak which military personnel use on the radio waves, with threads like "Tornado dog to red crown, target is lighted and sighted." I was half expecting someone to come over the comms with a piece of gold like "Papa bear to big smoke, 10-20 on the cheese whiz, over." but alas, I was disappointed.

Now for the biggest downfall in the game's vast arsenal, the gameplay. While I will go on record as stating that the game's entertainment factor is beyond fantastic, most of it is dashed under the feet of extremely overpowered enemies and horrid AI. The fact is you're playing as an extremely powerful scientific mistake, your strength surpasses anything on the face of the earth, yet each hit you take is equivalent to being shot in the face with a shotgun at close range. You're thrown about by every tank shell and missile fired at you and they fire at least nine million thousand at you per second. Most of every battle you get yourself into is spent on your back, your face, or dead.

The AI, as I mentioned, is even worse. While, at some points, the AI seems to be beneficial to your escaping from the authorities, other times it can be outright annoying. Disguised as a soldier and walking the streets of the infected neighborhoods of Manhattan, I can't tell you how many times it seemed like the tanks were following along with me and firing purposefully in my direction. I wasn't noticed as Alex, I was disguised, and being shot up by shells, missiles, and bullets.

The AI is weak, the storyline is predictable, and the gameplay is entertaining, but the enemies are far too rough. The game is amazing to play for a challenge, to give yourself a quick jolt of entertainment in the form of exhilarating movement and crazy awesome fight sequences, however if you casually game, don't expect Prototype to do much but punch you in the head repeatedly until you die, it'd probably be another to add to the lengthy list of things that are all Alex's fault.

Splinter Cell
(2002)

Warning: Not For the Casual Gamer.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell wasn't the first "sneak in, sneak out, drop a few baddies" game I've played, but at some points in playing it, I can honestly say that I'd considered it being the last. Not because it was bad. Because it was impossible.

Splinter Cell has you playing the role of Sam Fisher, the best-of-the-best super spy in the still fresh high-tech world of 2002. Granted, we're nine years too late, but hey, who's counting? Sam's exploits drag you half way across the globe and back again, with locales ranging from Myanmar to Langley, Virginia sneaking into the headquarters of the CIA themselves. Hell, if there's a game that can make me feel paranoid by pretending to hack into the CIA's mainframe from inside the CIA, it's this one. The locations are rendered almost too beautifully for words and back in the day, the Unreal 2 engine really did realistic to a tee. The lighting and graphics are still up-to-snuff even to this day. The gameplay, however, might be a subject for argument.

While I lauded the AI for their attentiveness, sometimes it was too attentive. So attentive that hiding, hugged against a wall, in a pitch black hallway didn't do jack squash for Sam's well-being. If Ubisoft really wanted to make you a Clancy-esque, super-spy that we read about in his fantastic thrillers, they should've probably lowered the difficulty level by 300%. Even on normal, it was near impossible to get through a level without saving twenty or thirty times. Luckily, you can bind one of your keyboard keys to a Quicksave/Quickload option, making saving and loading, while frustratingly common, a breeze. As I've previously stated, sneaking can sometimes be a bit of a problem as AI can almost always detect your footsteps and, eventually, they'll stumble into you and raise the alarms if you're not careful. Some levels include dogs that sniff Sam out and follow him like...well, like dogs until they find you and you bite you to death while they're masters mercilessly pump you full of lead. That brings us to the moments that arise when the proverbial poop hits the paddles and you need to use your Saturday night special to blow some terrorists to the pavement. The combat isn't in the least ways sleek, however it is entertaining to knock out the lights on unsuspecting bad guys and cap 'em from the shadows. Only problem is, for a super-spy, Sam's aim is terrible and one misguided bullet into the ceiling means that you'll be stuck with a Russian terrorist running to see what that noise was only to find an NSA ninja standing underneath is a still intact lightbulb with absolutely no plan-B in mind. When that happens, you'd better hope and pray that you saved your game before stumbling into the rough part of town.

-OVERALL : 8/10- In the end, Splinter Cell is a game that's focused on stealth and one's ability to stick to the shadows without getting stuck with a gunshot wound. Which is, more than likely, the reason why combat was such a disappointment. All in all, the stealth aspects (minus a couple of technical issues that arise with said aspects occasionally) are probably the best I've seen in a game of Splinter Cell's caliber. If you're a hardcore gamer looking for a challenge, and perhaps a few objects broken in pure frustration, then Splinter Cell is a definite buy. If, however, you -are- a casual gamer that enjoys feeling like a covert operative on a mission to prevent world destruction from the comfort of your home, then I'd advise getting yourself some cheat codes and calling them "government issued field assets". An invincibility code never hurt anybody.

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
(2009)

The Closest You'd Ever Want To Be to the Battlefield.
The games in the Operation Flashpoint series have always stressed realistic battle scenarios. With humble beginnings dating back to the Windows 98 days, Operation Flashpoint has been no stranger to those wishing to play a tactics-based modern warfare video game, and OP: Dragon Rising does not falter from that position.

Set on the fictional island of Skira, a locale mimicking the real life Aleutian island of Kiska, the player is put in the boots of multiple leaders of fireteams that fight their way through an ongoing battle for the island's rich oil reserves. The player is tasked with undertaking missions that range from covertly raiding fuel supplies, rescuing soldiers behind enemy lines and leading assaults into the heart of the enemy's strongholds.

It's pretty obvious what you're supposed to do right from the get go, however the lack of a sufficient tutorial might leave most players inexperienced with Operation Flashpoint's modus operandi a bit confused. Unlike games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising puts you in control of a four man team. A small command wheel supplies you with a wide array of tactics and orders to give your men, such as moving to positions, assaulting buildings, defending marked waypoints and healing team members.

The game sells itself as a realistic, tactics-based first person shooter, and the word realistic is said with extreme emphasis. Bullets fired from players and NPCs alike all react as they would in real world scenarios. Players must aim their weapons according to height and distance from the enemy if they hope to get a good shot in. Players must also tend to wounds sustained on the battlefield, leg wounds, arm wounds and chest wounds begin to bleed rapidly until a field dressing is applied, fail to treat your wounds and you might just get the grand tour of the Pearly Gates while your Men continue on with the mission.

Difficulties range from Normal to Hardcore, normal supplying the player with checkpoint assistance and on-screen aids such as objective locations, ammunition and weapon information, health status and small signals seen emanating from the crosshairs as you hit your targets. Hardcore mode leaves the core of the game intact while robbing the player of visual aids and cues. Looking for a casual gameplay experience? You could play normal mode. Not like it would make much of a difference at all.

The AI is, to say the least, not all that I, however they are, for the most part, relatively sapient. Most of your enemies will stand around like targets until you shoot at them, only then will they turn around and find out where you're firing from before giving you a taste of their firepower as well. Spec Ops enemies act like well trained Spec Op enemies and the lesser grunts, if you will, act just like soldiers. Unlike the games stated at the start of this review, the firepower bestowed upon thine enemies are about as equal to yours as you can get. One bullet to the right area on your player or your squad will mean either instant death or an agonizing, drawn-out, screaming for mercy blood-letting until they're healed up by the team medic. If I'm going to give you any piece of advice here, it'd be this: Steer clear of rushing your enemies. There are way more of them than there are of you at any given point and they all have the advantage. Distances make differences, and close combat should be reserved for those moments when you're equipped with the shadows, your nightvision goggles and the automatic fury of a silenced machine gun.

As previously stated, the game relies heavily on realism. When we say heavily, we don't just mean "Oh, the guns sound like actual guns", we mean "Oh look at my shiny new pist-" before a bullet goes whizzing through your skull from 25 meters away. The run-and-gun, spray-and-pray gameplay that you've gotten used to from your CoD days should probably be left back at base camp before you decide to step foot in Skira.

In summation, if you're looking for a game that offers you the chance to explore what it's like to be a Marine fighting behind enemy lines in command of a group of battle-hardened soldiers that will obey your every command, then Semper Fi, Marine. But, if you're a 'lax gamer with a temper like a lit fuse in a puddle of gasoline, I suggest you waste about six dollars on a rental before deciding to own OP:DR. Seriously.

-Jack Sessna

Zombieland
(2009)

What appears to be a decent z-day movie turns out to be a major disappointment
The first time I saw Zombieland, I thought it was a pleasantly robust zombie flick with a few odds and ends. The first time I actually WATCHED Zombieland, I slowly began to realize a few things:

1. Generic use of the "Patient X" backstory runs rampant in the Z-Movie industry.

2. Watching Woody Harrelson try to act all dramatic tough cowboy is about as painful and cringe-inducing as watching 3 straight seasons of The Office on repeat.

3. Jesse Eisenberg should really quit reaching for the title of awkward teen of the year. Michael Cera already beat you to it, guy.

--Plot-- Zombieland starts out with a lone wanderer from Ohio, stopping to get gas in Texas. Jesse Eisenberg, or better known in the film as "Columbus", narrates over a visually slick opening credit sequence before it's handed off to a super-slow mo sequence with a classic rock background. If that doesn't let you know how flippin' wicked this movie is, I think that the half-naked stripper zombie will cover that without a hitch.

From there, we accompany our awkward hero as he tries to find a potty, only to have his efforts to drop some care packages to the sewer troops doused by a swarm of jogging zombies. From there, we learn that "Cardio" is essential to surviving in the zombie apocalypse, y'know, just in case it ever happens.

After this lengthy intro and a quick peek at Mr. Eisenberg pinching a loaf in his khakis, we get the ball rolling as Columbus stumbles upon Tallahassee, a mean mothertruckin' cowboy with a drinking problem and a fast car. Really, it's just Woody Harrelson. So, they drive off onto greener pastures after a tense but screwy standoff between Tallahassee and Columbus. We even learn of Florida's addiction to Twinkies and how this craving leads them to a small market.

They enter the market in search of Twinkies, but find a couple chubby zombies to obliterate. Once the locals are taken care of, the pair stumbles upon a young beauty, and we're introduced to the character who makes this movie at least watchable, Witchita, played by Emma Stone. The woman beckons them to assist her with her sister, Little Rock, who's been bitten by one of the zombies. Just as Witchita is about to blow her sister's brains out, she decides to follow through with the real plan and jacks the pair's gear.

Everything else from there is a bunch of hijinks and irony and "be wild and different" stuff that would talk too long to highlight. Zombieland seems like one of those unique zombie flicks, but it's really just a generic recreation based on plot alone. Some Joe Somebody gets infected with a virus, it spreads around to everyone, rage-like symptoms and what-have-you. It's like 28 Days Later: Family Edition.

-Overall- Zombieland is just a polished, home-video z-day movie featuring a generic script and a hook on style and finesse with the editing. Some of the acting is solid, but Jesse Eisenberg is like a...like a limp, awkward, college kid noodle trying to act like the socially inept young adult.

While being generic, the script also focused too deeply on character development. I felt once a character was introduced, their intentions were made clear. There was really no way for the viewer to get to know the character themselves. The writers need to allow the viewer to figure out the characters themselves before they offer up a description of what he or she is all about right from the get go.

Aside from those cons, the film was somewhat enjoyable to watch, but from the standpoint of a Z-Movie fan, this one was just too softcore for being advertised as a gory, bloodfest of zombies and mayhem. Hey, at least we got Emma Stone.

-M

June 9
(2008)

One of the more disturbing films of the hand-held genre.
I can remember when I saw the film 'REC' on suggestion from a friend and I was terrified by it. Then, a few months later, I was scrolling through a selection of movies and I found this film. I picked it out and watched it the full way through. By the end, I was in shock by what I'd seen.

Bear in mind, this film isn't award-winning acting or plot, but the style in which it's executed is all but horrid, managing to flawlessly pull off the style of the late 90's, the year being 1999 in the film.

-Plot- A gang of friends decide to go around from town to town causing mischief and mayhem on the locals and catching everything on their hand-held camera. What they don't realize is that the pranks they pulled off on the locals of a town called Boston Mills didn't go unnoticed and, as such, have stirred up the hive. Soon, the trips to Boston Mills become more and more bizarre, leading to the massacre of the four teens by the townfolk in a cornfield. Each teen is killed in some gruesome, maniacal way, one young woman sustained a direct jab from the rough edge of a sledgehammer to the forehead while another received repeated blows to the skull with a rock from another crazed local. Another short film during the credits reveals that the teens were carved up and fed to pigs while their belongings were stored and sifted through by the locals in a shed behind a church.

The plot seems recycled from the 70's crazed killer movies, but the execution is nearly flawless. With solid and realistic acting from most of the characters followed up by a gruesome and truly disturbing ending that you thought would've been tamer, this film is truly a hidden gem in the sinking ship that is the horror film genre.

-Overall- 'June 9' attempted and managed to pull off a P.O.V hand-held film that would normally go along nicely using a regular 35mm. The feeling that you get from the film is that you're accompanying these teens on some sort of adventure that is abruptly halted by a sickening ending. You watch as these four kids you traveled about with are slaughtered mercilessly and you can do nothing about it. These are nightmares that every person has when they'd watch films like Deliverance or even Jason and, for that, 'June 9' will always remain my pick as one of the better horror movies to come out of 2008.

S. Darko
(2009)

A Donnie Darko Tale it is not.
::S. DARKO: A DONNIE DARKO TALE::

Y'see, I picked this one up expecting it to travel down the same road as Donnie's adventure did, but it simply wasn't what I'd hoped for in a "Donnie Darko Tale".

-Plot- Sam Darko, youngest sister of deceased Donnie Darko, has had enough of Middlesex and decides to head to California with her friend Cory. Instead, the girls get stuck in a podunk little town in the middle of nowhere on the way and therein lies the plot. Sam starts sleepwalking, others such as the mysterious Iraq Jack, start seeing visions of the end of the world.

-The Verdict- In short, S. Darko is nothing compared to the mind-bending puzzle that is Donnie Darko. It doesn't have the same feel and instead sacrifices a thought-provoking plot for a confusing, strewn-about mess equivalent to a pile-up. S. Darko has in no way, however, ruined Donnie Darko for me, but a Donnie Darko Tale it is not. If you're lookin' to get stoned and watch a weird movie, then by all means, pick up S. Darko and watch till your brain's fried twice over, but if you're a die-hard Donnie Darko fan looking for a fix of the old magic that Donnie gave us, steer very, very clear.

-Final Score- 3/10 The good: *Good looking actors. *Pretty rad special effects *Weirdness level's off the charts.

The bad: *Terrible, Confusing Plot *Wooden acting *Horribly obvious and unnecessary Donnie Darko references.

The ugly: *Pretty much the entire hour and forty three minutes.

RENT OR BUY? Rent for sure, but only if you're looking for something to get stoned and pass out to.

Lost
(2004)

Once Upon A Mysterious Island...
Every once in a blue moon, you see a television show that's actually worth watching. 24 gave us a dramatic look into a rough day-in-the-life of a CTU agent, Heroes sent us on a journey with the lesser known, realistically portrayed superheroes of modern America even up to reality shows like Ghost Hunters which let us peer into the supernatural haunts that invade our world day in and day out. But, coming back to the fictional realm, there's this one particular show on television that truly may be the heart and soul of drama, mystery and suspense. A show that not only weaves a tangled web that slowly and methodically untangles itself in ways you'd never thought you'd be able to see before. A show who's story could move you in each sense of the word. That show, my friends, is LOST.

LOST began with an innumerable amount of plane crash survivors who crawled from the broken wreckage of their Oceanic Flight 815 onto the sandy shore of the mysterious, unnamed island we've come to know and love. We followed the antics of Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, and many others as they embarked on a journey that would send a sane man's mind into a tailspin. Beyond the dank rainforests populating the island's ridges and hilltops was an evil that couldn't be described, a shrouded past that had never been unearthed until that day. The story of LOST took you deep down into its heart and ensnared you from start to finish. It explored the aspects of life we rarely consider, fate and time travel, everything we've seen in television and movies or books but never actually thought about. The story and characters formed something of a familial bond between the viewer and the characters themselves. Every episode, every suspenseful, waking moment of each character became a fight for everyone involved, on-screen and in your own living room. Each moment became more and more difficult to wrap your brain around, and just when it seemed like you were going to lose your sanity, something clicks into place and you come out feeling nothing but satisfied at the outcome, like you've overcome a battle of wits.

LOST is sure to be one of those shows that will go down in the books as "the Heartbeat of 21st Century television". And now, as it nears its closing moments, it shall be sorely missed, but not forgotten.

The Way We Get By
(2009)

"The Way We Get By" will have you laughing and tearing up all at the same time.
Aron Gaudet and Gita Pillapully brings us this heartwarming documentary chronicling the lives of three Marine greeters at the Bangor International Airport in Bangor, Maine.

Bill, Joan and Jerry get up in the middle of the night to the crack of dawn to greet, as well as wish good luck upon, the servicemen and women departing and arriving to the battlefields in the Middle East. In between greeting the men and women of the Marines, the three face their own trials and tribulations.

Bill is 82. He's been diagnosed with prostate cancer as well as tumors on his ribs and jaw. He lives alone and his sadness for being alone is unmatched. He seems to find solace in greeting the men and women returning from service.

Jerry has his own set of troubles. He lost his son when he was only ten, his heart isn't what it used to be and his only companion, a dog named Flannigan, is taken from him after a long term illness. After all he's been through, however, he still finds time to get up and greet and entertain the hundreds of Marines that walk through the gate at Bangor International.

Finally, Joan, a grandmother who's two grandchildren are off to serve in the Army, suffers from chronic back pains and a disliking to seeing the soldiers off, still takes her time to travel to the airport and greet them.

A story like "The Way We Get By" gives us a glimpse into the lives of three ordinary, elderly people who forgo any and all of their troubles to give the returning and departing servicemen and women a chance to hear "welcome home". And it's people like Bill, Joan and Jerry who show us what it means to be a true American, who show us that a bumpersticker saying "Support the Troops" isn't enough. Because if they can take time out of their days to stand and wait for the troops to come home, then anyone can, and this film is evidence of that.

Fallout 3
(2008)

A Violent Sashay Through the Ruins of the Nation's Capital
Now, some can take a moment and say that this game is promoting the utter demolition of the US of A and others can say that this game is a violence-filled catastrophe that begs the question "Why do we like seeing brains and eyeballs splash against our screens in ultra slow-mo?" I say this game is nice little walk through what the post-apocalyptic backyard of Washington, D.C could've looked like had the Red Scare been totally right in every respect. The game has a sense of nostalgia while keeping to the tried and true form of blowing everything to bits and asking questions never that we've seen a hundred times over...and it executes every part of it almost perfectly.

In the gun-toting RPG developed by the minds who brought us the brilliance that is the realistic sword-fighting, cave-spelunking of Oblivion, you play a young man who emerges from one of the many underground "vaults" dotting the post-nuclear wasteland to find his (or her) father, who's left the vault in search of something that's completely unbeknown to the rest of the vault-dwellers. Leaving the vault-in-turmoil, you venture through the nuclear-draped wasteland of our nation's capital. 50's music pumps through a radio station who's signal is in need of repair. Walking down the road a piece, you meet a flying robot, tossing out words from the "president" John Henry Eden, who seems pretty content with gratifying everyone that everything is gonna be a-okay in the capital wastes. You know that's a bunch of baloney and you haven't even been out of your hole for more than 10 minutes. Walking up a dirt sideroad, you come across a makeshift town called Megaton. The door, which has been fashioned out of two aircraft wings and an jet engine, open up as a clunky old robot greets you with a friendly "Howdy, partner" in a voice not different from Mr. Stephen Hawking's. You enter the town, and a man named Lucas Simms states that he hasn't seen one of those vault uniforms you're wearing in ages. That's when you realize just how interesting things are about to get.

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CONCEPT (10/10) The storyline of the game is very rare for Fallout 3's genre. Starting from early childhood, going through a brief period of being a baby, to being a 10 year old, to taking an aptitude test as a 16 year old, and eventually leaving the fault at 17, you can develop and relate to the character you create. The story is well-written, definitely a mark of professionalism instead of just leaving the character in an extraordinary situation with guns. The game is a major test of morality, earning you karma points or losing you karma points ultimately depending on what you choose to do. Should you help the talking tree? Or leave it to another eternity of torment? It sounds weird now, just wait till you're there.

MUSIC (10/10) While you can choose to blow supermutants apart while listening to the voices of the 40's and 50's like The Ink Spots or Cole Porter, you can also listen to the dulcet tones of an old woman's Stradivarius violin or the haunting ambiance of Inon Zur's composition. Zur does well to reproduce a sound that feels like it's being carried along the winds of the wastes, or echoing through the worn hallways of an abandoned vault. The music never becomes repetitive or annoying, instead, you may find yourself humming "Way Back Home" by Bing Crosby while you're hanging with friends. While this will get you many weird looks from your peers, it may just be the bridge across the age gap.

ENVIRONMENTS (10/10) Whether it be an abandoned military installation or a small village, the environments of the Capital Wasteland are never dull or lifeless. It was a joy to explore the endless array of unique locations that are reminiscent of what used to be D.C. The city itself is beautifully reproduced. Climb the steps of Capitol Hill, walk down Pennsylvania Avenue or loot the many remaining office buildings, trainstations and homes of olden days D.C. The possibilities are endless and unique, just be sure to bring your hunting rifle.

GAMEPLAY (9/10) The gameplay is definitely a modern marvel of the video gaming generation. Leaving little to expectation and more to imagination, your required to actually survive your experience in this survival RPG. The one thing that upset me the most was that you cannot level up past a certain point, leaving many of the perks to be experienced in a second game, also once the story ends, the game ends, unlike Oblivion in which you could continue exploration.

CHARACTERS (10/10) Fallout's characters, whether it be a random settler or an actual story character, are anything but lifeless. Their emotions and actions are felt by the gamer in ways that are normally absent in shooter games of Fallout's intensity. If you kill a character, you're going to either feel righteous in your actions or feel like a douchebag for shooting that settler in the face.

----------OVERALL------------ 10/10 Fallout 3 is definitely a game for the ages. It's won Game of the Year more than 80 times, a well-deserved amount. Bethesda took their policy of "Go anywhere, do anything" to extreme lengths with this game. With gratuitous violence, a gripping storyline, amazingly rendered environments, unbridled exploration, shiny new technology and a kickass fighting system, Fallout 3 offers little upsetting points and more fun and exciting gameplay that's rarely seen in a game of this genre. Fallout 3 really sets the bar for FPS/RPG games. I hope to see more like this from Bethesda in the future.

Dead Man's Shoes
(2004)

A Brother's Sacrifice, A Quiet Descent Into Madness.
--DEAD MAN'S SHOES-- I've always had a knack for British drama, even though I can't understand half the things they say in some films from across the pond, I always like the way it's filmed. It's edgy and raw while staying on track and not relying on too much action and full out violence as an American film. Dead Man's Shoes does just that. It keeps the edge on and the violence to an all time low.

Paddy Considine(Hot Fuzz) plays Richard, an ex-British military man with a chip on his shoulder. It seems that while he was off fighting the good fight, the local gangsters had too much fun with his mentally challenged brother, Anthony, played brilliantly by Toby Kebbell(RockNRolla) in his breakthrough, BAFTA-nominated performance. With this in mind, Richard sets out to make those who did it pay. The local drug-headed gangsters, Sonny, Herbie, Tuff and Big Al, are encountered by Richard, who starts out by scaring the men using tactics that include staring at one through a window wearing a gas mask, trashing one of their flats and lashing out at one in a pub. After they realize he mean's business, he breaks out into the big leagues, killing one off as a message. Eventually, Richard takes to the gangster's drug stash, drugging a few and killing them off as they tripped out on heavy doses of psychoactive drugs. It's a darkly humorous and violent film that shows just how far a brother is willing to go for the protection of his family.

The Signal
(2007)

Don't Sit Too Close, You'll Rot Your Brain.
The Signal is an independent film with a lot of heart. Horror movies like this are usually more about the blood than actual plot. With twists and turns at every scene, this movie explores the possibility of an electronic malfunction creating mass chaos.

--Concept-- 8/10 While we've seen this concept of electronics causing us to go screwy, the idea that this can cause us to become violent but able to rationalize seems a bit new. A signal can cause people to not realize reality, to lose all sense of right and wrong essentially leading to chaos instead of some far-fetched supernatural event involving ghosts or monsters. It's almost as if the storywriters explain that the everyday items we use such as mobile phones or televisions can unlock the dark, violent urges hidden in each and every one of us. It's a used-before concept, but a unique take on it.

--Writing-- 9/10 The writing in the film isn't overly ridiculous, instead it's humorous at points, and stupid at others. Take the character Jim, a man who shows up to the New Year's Eve party that was indefinitely canceled. He can't seem to see through his own wants and needs to the real picture. That everything around him is falling down. It's almost satirical, and that's what you need to see in some of the horror movies rather than the usual "Hack everything, run away, get murdered" scenario normally seen. However, there could've been some areas of improvement.

--Visual/Audio-- 10/10 The artistic quality of the film is very well done. Guerrilla-style filming mixed with the filming that we'd usually expect to see in a regular movie. The audio matched the actions on screen well, in the scene where Mya leaves the apartment building, her music on the CD player is playing over the scene, reflecting her attempt to blur out the madness around her. The music, mostly ambient pieces, put you in the scene with the character, creating a feeling to the scene. Disturbing yet brilliant.

OVERALL 8/10 The film is beyond astounding for an indie gore flick. Offering scenes that will rock you to your core and scare the bejesus out of you. It hardly lacks in any department, humor is present while not being too corny, rather a "what the hell are they talking about" humor rather than a "Heard that joke before" type. The acting wasn't too fake looking, however, in some portions, it was rather hard to watch. The film-making and writing are especially well done. It switches between what's happening and what happened to update you and keep you in check on what's going on without making things too confusing. For a quick fix on the jumpy, bloody, don't-trust-him horror, I'd suggest picking up this title for those rainy, thundery nights.

--J.P

The Strangers
(2008)

Because you were home.
In February 2005, three strangers entered the lives of a couple. Kristen McKay and James Hoyt.

The Strangers isn't everything that you'd expect in a horror movie. While most people were hoping there would be an endless array of gore and hack-and-slash terror, the film introduced to us a not so new brand of psychological horror in a new fashion. James Hoyt (Scott Speedman) and Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler) come home from a friend's wedding reception. Both upset from an event that occurred not a few hours earlier. After speaking in broken conversations, they eventually in each other's embrace, only to have their only real romantic moment be interrupted by a knock at the door. It's 4:05 AM, a girl stands in the dark on the front porch, asking if "Tamara" is home. James tells her that there's no one by that name at the house. The girl leaves. A few moments after, James leaves to take a drive. Kristen is left alone. After opening a beer, putting on a record and exploring the house a little bit, a loud bang is heard. The girl is back, once again requesting to see Tamara. Kristen tells her she's already been at the house. The girl responds with "Are you sure?" before leaving. After the experience, Kristen changes into her casuals and calls James to inform him of the girl's return, only to have the phone cut out on their conversation. While smoking a cigarette, awaiting James' return, a man with a mask seems to find his way into the house, Kristen has no idea he's inside. Eventually, the stranger confronts her through a glass door. The night has only begun for Kristen and James as these strangers play with their minds and lead them on the fight for their life.

--8/10-- The Strangers offers well done scares and countless times of Psychological kicks to the skull. I found myself at times looking over my shoulder to be sure that a man in a burlap sack mask wasn't watching me from behind a wall. After I was reassured the man was nowhere to be found, I continued watching the movie. Bryan Bertino, a first time director and writer, gives us a peek into the dark machinations of a psychopathic family who seems to get off on psychologically torturing and then murdering people by entering their homes and breaking them down by making sounds and generally making their presence known. One of the greatest things about this film is, unlike other horror movies, this could actually happen. Someone could actually enter your home and kill you. Probably not as advertised in the movie...but it could definitely happen. Let's see Jason or Michael Myers do what The Strangers did.

Dead Rising
(2006)

A fun game, but WAY to demanding.
*-Dead Rising-* Rated: M for Mature Released by: Capcom

Dead Rising is a sandbox game released by the zombie masters of gaming, Capcom. It's also ONE of the reasons I got an Xbox 360. When I heard they came out with a different brand of zombie game that let you kill them at your own pace, I was ecstatic. And sure, they let me kill some zombies, but the "at your own pace" was a particularly hard concept to find in this game.

The game places you in the shoes of freelance photojournalist Frank West as he travels through a Colorado shopping mall infested with the undead inhabitants of the small fictional town of Willamet. As you land on the roof of the shopping mall from a helicopter, you're met by a man that says that you've found your way into "hell" and indeed you have. You must hack, slash, smash, maim, gouge, and hop your way through a sea of swarming zombies while completing different goals to get the full case (or story) on what EXACTLY is going on in this village before 72 hours is up. If you don't, you're cursed to spend eternity in the evil shopping mall.

CONCEPT - 10/10 - granted that a sandbox zombie game is probably the best thing since sliced peanut butter and jam, the concept is amazing. You can hack and slash your way through different parts of the mall and even take pictures of the undead denizens of Willamet. Just beware, your weapon could break at any time or run out at any time.

IN GAME SYSTEMS - 7/10 - By in game systems, I mean the inventory, saving and timing systems. The entire game is based on how much time you have left, which is bad for me and the rest of anyone who just wants to explore things at their own pace. The saving system is bleh...while it offers the ability to start a new game with the same level and inventory slots as you had your last save, there is no autosaving, and dying in the game is not that hard, making saving and fighting a hassle. You also have to writhe and twist your way through massive hoards of zombie menaces and random survivor/psychopath encounters making time not only a virtue, but a burden. A good thing about this game is, if you manage to find yourself facing the last remaining seconds of an important time-based game-moving goal, you can always let it go, go into free roam mode, fight off some zombies with no interruptions and gain more level points, only one problem - Saves are shut off during this time, making item collection crucial. The game modes seem to be way too demanding and in game tasks are a little on the hard side.

ACTING - 9/10 - The acting is OK. But I feel as though the voices were dubbed in American without any attention payed to the mouths making it seem a little unrealistic. Then again, this is a zombie game, so what am I complaining about? :P

OVERALL - 7/10 - Again, this game is an awesome step up from the normal "run and gun" zombie game, but the enemies are a little too hard to battle, combat is a tad bit flaky and tasks are just too demanding. I like the direction this is going though, and I feel that a sandbox zombie game in which you must survive and fight your way through to live withOUT difficult and demanding tasks may be in the immediate future. For now, I think I'll stick with Resident Evil.

From the Reviewer's Square JP

[Rec]
(2007)

Scariest Film Ever Made
When Cloverfeild came out, I expected it to be the defining moment in the POV genre. Then, a friend turned me onto this film, Rec.

The movie follows a night with reporter Angela Vidal and her cameraman Pablo as they follow a small group of firefighters to an apartment building in Barcelona as part of a television program called "While you're Asleep". As soon as they get to the building, they bash their way into a small apartment room owned by an elderly woman. The woman stands disheveled in the moonlight as firemen and a couple of police officers approach carefully. Blood drapes her nightgown and her face as she breaths heavily. Pablo and Angela follow nervously behind the crew. As Pablo turns on his camera light for a better look, the woman becomes increasingly disturbed eventually breaking out into a fit of hysteria and biting the officer in the neck. They manage to subdue and flee from the woman with the officer in tow. As they treat his wounds, they learn that not only is there a crazed woman in the building, but special forces and health teams have cordoned off the area, repeating over a loudspeaker that this is just for safety precautions. The crew, Angela Pablo, and the residents of the apartment building soon realize that there is no way out of the situation and they must face their fears to survive whatever and whomever is in the building with them.

Concept - 9/10 - While the movie has its intense scares, original storyline and average acting, the concept of the movie is not a "never-before-seen" deal. The ending credits to the movie seem to draw away from the intense realistic feel of the movie overall. But the filming and acting are almost top notch.

Acting - 9/10 - Yes, Cloverfeild did NOT outrank this movie on the acting scale, but at some points, there was a bit too much drama to some parts. Otherwise, the acting in all of the characters were top notch and believable.

Atmosphere - 10/10 - The screams of infected humans echoes through the long winding staircase of this small building, the dark recesses of the rooms and halls of the building are draped in the sounds of radio chirps cause by the special forces team outside of the building, and the feeling of claustrophobia is extremely present as the knowledge of no possible exit or rescue overcomes all of the characters. The infected humans aren't there for cheap scares, when you see one, you have no idea what they'll do until they do it.

OVERALL - 9/10 - The atmospheric quality and thrilling nature of this Spanish film make it the most terrifying adventure into the "infection" genre that I've ever witnessed. The creatures of the infection are so scary that I might not be able to sleep for quite some time. But the essential horror and beauty of the film is marred by its sometimes over-dramatic acting and realism-damaging end credits. Definitely a must-see for ANY hardcore horror lover.

Zero
(2001)

So Scary I never beat it.
It takes a lot to scare me into not watching or playing something the full way through. I managed to get through Silent Hill 3 with the lights off in total darkness, but this game still took me to my unhappy place and tied me to a chair there. I was hooked for 3 months trying, hoping I could muster up the courage to get to the end. But I never did. Constant hours of watching over my shoulder, Pausing to turn on the light and look around the room if I heard even the faintest of noises. This game is, by far, the scariest game ever made.

The game is set in the mountains of Japan, in a manor designed for ritualistic purposes. Many have gone in, none have returned. And when Miku Hinasaki's brother disappears after entering the house, she will stop at nothing to find him. She arms herself with a camera found on the inside of the house. A strange, old camera. The camera obscura. She ventures around the old, creaky house. Taking pictures of certain objects when suddenly, the spirits of ages passed awaken to welcome Miku into her new home. Miku's only chance of survival is this soul-catching camera that, when it captures the photograph of a spirit, traps the spirit's soul inside of it. She will snap photos of the spirits around the house as she uncovers the truth revolving around the mysterious ritual that overtook the residents of this mountainside manor.

CONCEPT - 10/10 - usually when you hear of a game in which you earn points for snapping photos of ghosts, you think "Family friendly Halloween game". Well, I can assure you, this is anything BUT a family friendly Halloween game. This is what REAL Japanese horror is. If it's your first time experiencing it, be prepared to shet yourself.

ENEMIES - 10/10 - Wow. that's all I can say. The ghosts are amazing. You don't even know when they come out at you. They'll just pop up anywhere and you have to attempt to snap a photo of them. Most of them can be fast, some of them can be slow. You'll have to have a quick eye to get them all.

MUSIC AND SOUND - 10/10 - This was the most nerve racking thing ever. The sound in some parts of the house make you want to turn on your light to continue playing. Whomever did the music...well done.

OVERALL - 10/10 - Buy some adult diapers and portable flashlights for this game. You'll need everything you can to reassure yourself that it's only a game. or is it?

F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon
(2005)

This game should be changed to NSMP - Nearly S**t My Pants
When I traded my friend TimeShift for F.E.A.R, I expected it to be this crazy shoot-em-up, out of your mind thriller that never relented for a second. Of course, it was a crazy, shoot-em-up, out of your mind thriller that relented for a little bit then kicked your sorry ass into oblivion.

The game follows you, the "F.E.A.R Operative", the "New Guy", the "Rookie", or as the boys down at Monolith call him "The Point Man", as he goes out on his first task with F.E.A.R, a secret special ops outfit designed to take on supernatural threats to national security. When a man goes insane at his place of business, killing employees and taking over the Replica clone soldiers using his mind, they send you in to clean up and take out the trash, and you do just that. Using your sophisticated focus ability which enables you to slow down time and kill people with more accuracy, you go through the high tech zones of Armacham territory. Armacham, if you didn't know, is a high fallutin' science corporation hellbent on creating clones controlled by mind powers, and it's their want for this that starts this mess. Now realizing what forces you face, you must make it through the slums, Armacham HQ and a secret facility to find the mastermind behind the release of the clone soldiers and take him out before the supernatural threat grows from just one town to the entire country.

CONCEPT - 10/10 - I've gotta say, little girls, no matter where they be, have creeped me out since The Shining when "Come play with us, danny" rang through the surround sound of my living room. And the concept of a supernatural force in the form of a little girl in a red dress seemed a li'l creepy to me. Especially when I found out that this li'l girl could blast me out of a window using her mind powers to blow up everything possible. This game is about as entertaining and as gripping as ((And yes, I'm going' there again)) Half Life 2. I'd recommend it for anyone who's into gory horror stories and little girls lunging at you with the intent of spilling your throat juice all over the tiled floor.

ENVIRONMENTS - 9/10 - The environments were well done. but seeing the same corridor for 10 minutes straight got a li'l nerve racking.

ENEMIES - 10/10 - I have to say bravo for the AI demonstrated in the enemies of the game. They really outdid themselves. You can hide from enemies, sneak up on enemies, and they'll interact the way another player would. only complaint, the same enemies appear to often in the same places. But still, that doesn't hide the fact that these were some pretty kickass enemies.

OVERALL - 10/10 - If there's ever a game that makes me turn on my closet light and check twice under my bed, it's this one. This game really shook me and that's a lot to say for a game like this. It will freak you out and you will have to play it in the dark to get the full essence of it. But a li'l game character like Alma, the dark, creepy li'l red dress girl from the game, and the exploding hallway scene will never cease to amaze gamers and this game will never cease to shake gamers to their core.

Silent Hill
(2006)

Here we go again...
Let's just say for a moment that the Silent Hill series in completely bankrupt, over. It's done. Now, they are trying to sweat out money from any pore that they can. Now lets snap back to reality. Silent Hill is still a major franchise with over a thousand fans and it's still going strong. Yet the director of the Brotherhood of the Wolf, an award winning film, has produced this razzie-worthy video game adaptation film. Now, don't get me wrong. While the movie deserves it's fair share of point-outs such as it's accurate usage of the characters and environments, the film still derives from the game and lacks the strength and ability to move the audience that was seen in the game.

In the film, Rose Dasilva(Replacing Harry Mason from SH1) and her daughter, Sharon(Replacing Cheryl Mason from SH1) make their way to Silent Hill, a small resort town in Toluca County, West Virginia to see if they can solve the mystery behind Sharon's sleepwalking issue. While stopped at a gas station, Sharon is approached by an motorbike officer, Cybil Bennett(Same Character in SH1), who believes that Sharon is a missing person and Rose is her captor. A few minutes pass before Sharon and Rose continue their journey to Silent Hill. While driving down the road towards Silent Hill, Rose realizes she is being followed by the motorbike cop. She sees a sign pointing to Silent Hill and speeds up. A chase ensues followed by Rose breaking through a roadblock into Silent Hill territory. The officer is lost in a fog. Rose is relieved to have lost the officer, but suddenly, relief is broken by loud white noise coming through the car stereo. Rose attempts to shut off the radio, taking her eyes off the road. Before she knows it, she is swerving to avoid a young girl traversing the desolate road. She crashes her jeep and is knocked out. She awakes in a fog, Sharon is gone, and her only chance of finding Sharon is to go into town. She wades through the blinding fog, soft petals of ash fall onto her face like snow. As she enters town, a old scraggily woman named Dahlia(Same Character from SH1) welcomes her in an odd way. After showing her a picture of Sharon, Rose is attacked by the woman, who seems to think Sharon is her own. Rose manages to escape the madwoman and continue her search. Coming upon a small shopping street, she notices the image of a young girl. thinking it's Sharon, she quickly pursues. She comes across an entrance to an alleyway and descends down a dark stairwell that she saw the young girl enter. While descending, a siren sounds, and she is dropped into the nether-realm of Silent Hill.

ACTING - 1/10 - Surprisingly poor acting really marred the beauty of this film. Had the acting and script been a little less wrought with emotion and bad lines, I might've been able to watch this the full way through without cringing.

MUSIC - 8/10 - Using Akira Yamaoka's music in this film was a very good choice. I'm glad to see that they didn't use their own brand of music because Akira's is Silent Hill exclusive. You can't duplicate it. The only major problem I had with it was that some of the music was used at awkward moments.

DESIGN - 6/10 - I like how the design was close to Silent Hill's in appearance, but too many of the characters seemed to be made up. Cybil and Alessa are really the only accurate people in the story, but Dahlia was way too overdone. Set design was fairly well done and the monsters were freakish in well played Silent Hill fashion.

OVERALL - 5/10 - I gave it a 5/10 because while the sets and characters were almost very well played, the acting was excruciatingly bad. It was like watching a High School play almost. The actors seemed too cued and organized like they were forcing their lines. It's definitely a well played horror film, but if you're a die hard Silent Hill fan, look away.

Untraceable
(2008)

It wasn't a ripoff of Saw...But it was Much Better than it.
Saw comes at you like a amateur horror film. Broken bits of plot leave you wondering "What's that?" and "Who's that?" But Untraceable is a movie that was completely broken off from the normal course of horror/torture films.

In the film, Diane Lane plays FBI agent Jennifer Marsh of the Portland Cybercrimes Unit, an organization designed to help catch and arrest criminals responsible for illegal software over the net. While working on a case, Jennifer is assigned to a website called Killwithme.com. After logging on and watching a poor helpless kitten being tortured with flypaper, she shrugs it off as a simple sick joke designed by a person with issues. But when a man is killed live on the internet, she knows she must find the person responsible and shut it down. Numerous attempts to shut down the website failed. The IP addresses come from all over the world, blocking out foreign signals and only allowing American IP's to watch the gruesome torture-fest. Jennifer begins to realize there's no way to shut down the site. Soon, one of her own partners is taken hostage by the madman, leaving them with the cryptic message "Our Suicide" before being slowly boiled to death in sulfuric acid. Jennifer notices that a video on a DVD of evidence gathered by her partner before his death has the name "Rush Hour Suicide". Watching this and doing research, she finds the killers identity and the search is on.

CONCEPT - 9/10 - Nothing we've never heard of before, but definitely a step up from Silence of the Lambs or Saw. The best part about it is that cyberkillers are real and this could actually happen, I'm glad we've decided to pick something real instead of the latest "Cat n' Mouse" movies ACTING - 8/10 - Some parts of the acting were choppy, some parts of the script sounded like something a high schooler would write. But it was definitely unique and new. As far as acting goes, Colin Hanks and Joseph Cross play possible some of the best roles in this movie.

OVERALL - 7/10 - Yes, I realize that my tallies for this film have been counting down from 9, but this film wasn't exactly an Oscar winning thriller. It didn't match wits with Silence of the Lambs, but it really made Saw look like a high school film. If you're looking for a good thriller to watch this year, I'd advise this film. But if you're looking for a fast paced action movie, don't pick this one up.

28 Weeks Later
(2007)

Welcome to the Revolution in Zombie Horror
Zombies began as shambling reanimated dead who's favorite word as well as food was Brains. Then, they became shambling, slow-paced, white-eyed reanimated dead with death on the mind. Now, they are welcomed to us as sprinting death machines that will mow you down and not relent for a second until you're one of them.

In 28 Days Later, everyman Jim awakes from a coma that shielded him from the new world order as well as a wardrobe. A fateful disease consumes London with the power to turn even the nicest of people, some devoted to god if I remember the church scene, into raging, bloodthirsty mobs of sprinting terror. After escaping the pandemic with some survivors, Jim is welcomed into a house filled with British soldiers who would kill you as much as look at you. Jim and two other girl survivor swiftly escape the crazy army men as they are swarmed by zombies, bringing an end to that tale. Now, a new one emerges.

As England is declared relatively "safe" from harm, NATO Forces from America begin repopulating with new and familiar residents. The Infected die from starvation bringing the disease's vengeful course to an end. However, one loose end may bring about the disease again. A man named Don escapes an infected raid on his farmhouse, leaving behind his wife and survivors. Days later, he arrives in the city and takes up a job as a maintenance man in the Residential Block used for housing survivors. His children, Tammy and Andy, arrive after him to stay in the cordoned block of the city. One day, the children take a motorbike and leave the safe zone to the outer zones to find their old home. While exploring, they discover dead bodies from the infection among other things. Arriving at their old place of residence and exploring the inside, they discover their mother, scraggly and slightly infected, however, a unique genetic disorder has kept the infection from fully taking her. They bring her back to the laboratories to figure out how she is not infected. Discovering that her son, Andy, may be the key to the cure as he possesses the same genetic trait as his mother. As they study her blood and keep her locked in a safe room, Don enters unauthorized to speak with her and apologize for leaving her behind. She recognizes Don and seemingly accepts the apology, kissing him...but transferring the virus into Don through her saliva. Don, who is without the genetic trait, immediately becomes infected, vomiting blood and showing signs of the disease. He bites and mutilates a restrained Alice, the asymptomatic carrier of the disease, and the second available cure for the infection. Don escapes into the surviving population, beginning the course of the disease once again. Now it is up to an American nurse and a NATO Special Ops officer to get the children out of the city, specifically Andy, the only known cure to the virus.

CONCEPT - 10/10 - It's a step up from the documentary-like 28 Days that led us through an odd course of events, and a very good way to kick off the new Fast Zombie Horror genre.

MUSIC - 10/10 - I know there isn't a whole lot of it in there, but the beginning part of the movie had me out of my seat with the fast paced guitar/piano music.

ACTING - 8/10 - Well, the acting was okay, could've been better, but nothing to complain about.

OVERALL - 10/10 - A great movie and a great display of things to come in the Z-day genre. I can't wait to see other 28 remakes and maybe some use of the fast zombie style in other movies. This'll be a great tradition and an excellent addition to anyone's horror collection.

Be Kind Rewind
(2008)

A Silly Film with a Heartwarming Ending
When I watched the trailer for the movie, I thought it was another feeble attempt at the kind of comedy that Napoleon Dynamite supplied us with. A dry script with a lame story. But this film supplied us with a different brand of comedy, giving us the tongue-in-cheek humor of ND while showing us what happens when people work together.

Mike (Mos Def) has been left in charge of a video rental store, that is believed to be the home of legendary jazz artist Fats Waller, by his boss Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover), who goes away on an annual memorial party for Fats. Before Mr. Fletcher departs, he warns Mike about keeping the selfish sometimes paranoid Jerry (Jack Black) out of the store for fear that he might break everything in it or ruin business. One day, Jerry walks into the store, covered in camouflage and hatches a plan to Mike about how to sabotage a power plant, which he believes his controlling his mind. On the night of the sabotage, Mike ditches Jerry for fear of being caught in the act. As Jerry attempts to destroy the power plant, his plan backfires and he is electrocuted. The next day, Jerry enters the video store, touching all of the tapes and destroying them as a result of being magnetized during his electrocution. With all of the tapes destroyed, Jerry and Mike devise a plan to remake the films using a camera and homemade special effects. Between all of this, Mr. Fletcher finds that if he doesn't repair the necessary parts of the Be Kind Rewind video store, they will demolish it to build a condominium.

During filming their remake of Rush Hour 2, Jerry and Mike meet a Laundromat employee's sister, Alma (Melonie Diaz). While making the movie, Alma learns that Jerry is magnetized, freaking out when Mike tells her he's radioactive. Jerry takes an entire bottle of aspirin, almost killing himself, but drinking an entire bucket of salt water helps him, not only combat the effects of an entire bottle of aspirin, but urinate the magnetism out of his body. With the magnetism gone, and Alma as a new friend, she agrees to help them with their operation. But not all things go as planned. Upon Mr. Fletcher's return to the video store, he tells Jerry, Mike, and Alma that they must discontinue their operations and upgrade to DVD's instead of VHS cassettes. Mike refuses to let his work go to waste and continues to work his way, this time, transferring all of their finished and sweded films to DVD format while still keeping the VHS tapes. Business runs smoothly, until the government gets wind of their actions and shuts them down. With the sweding business out of the question, Jerry, Alma, Mr. Fletcher and Mike must find a way to raise money and save the video store, which, according to Mr. Fletcher, was not the birthplace of Fats Waller, it was just a story he told Mike when he was a child. After thinking about ways to save money, they finally plan to make a video, about Fats Waller's life. However, it would be totally inaccurate, by mildly entertaining. Instead of including just themselves in the film, they would use the entire neighborhood of Passaic, NJ to make the film.

CONCEPT - 9/10 - The concept of the film is a little odd. Going from Science Fiction to Romantic Comedy to Heartwarming Dramady over the course. However, it kept me mildly entertained.

CHARACTERS - 10/10 - Jack Black and Mos Def are the best actors I've ever seen. However, Mos Def decided to bring back his "16 Blocks" nasal voice in this film. Jack Black is an awesome companion because of his realistic "What about me..." Attitude. Alma is like an every-girl, she's not pretty, but not too unattractive. A big step up from including plain actresses with hot bods and tight curves in a film like this. Danny Glover gives an overall decent performance as Mr. Fletcher. Although, he might be getting a little old for the movie business.

STORY - 7/10 - However entertaining the story was, it really shifts in balance from the start to the finish. What may seem like a silly comedy with dry laughs turns into a movie about working together and seeing the tough times through. I didn't like the instant transition. But, it did have some entertainment value.

OVERALL - 9/10 - Michael Gondry has wow'ed me with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and has definitely made me laugh and cry with this film. I can't wait to see more like this from him.

FROM THE REVIEWERS SQUARE JP

iCarly
(2007)

A Surprisingly Good Kids Show
The last time I watched a Kid-Oriented sitcom was Boy Meets World, since then, I've found every other KOS packed with dull humor and sickening life lessons that people never listened to. Then, as a suggestion from a friend, I watched this new show entitled iCarly. The show stars Miranda Cosgrove of the short-lived Drake and Josh fame as Carly Shay, who, with her friends Sam and Freddy, hosts a web show entitled, you guessed it, iCarly. The show consists of random yet entertaining stunts, interviews, and just plain wacked out humor. But behind the scenes, Carly deals with boys, arguing with her friends, and dealing with her ne're-do-well older brother Spencer, who is her guardian while her father serves in the navy.

CONCEPT - 10/10 - iCarly is a surprisingly entertaining sitcom. Jerry Trainor is hilarious as he spouts random ideas for inventions that almost never work. I've only seen a couple of episodes, but they've all made me laugh at least once or twice. I really hope this carries on for a few seasons.

CHARACTERS - 10/10 - The characters are well written and the kids who play them are surprisingly good at acting. I won't hesitate to watch an episode or two because I like to see Spencer slip up all the time.

OVERALL - 10/10 - Since this is a sitcom, there isn't much to say about it. Other than it's a wonderful show for the whole family to watch. As a 17 year old, that's saying something. It's brand of humor can entertain age groups of 12 to 120, I can't wait to see how far it can go. That being said, I hope for at least 6 seasons.

From the Reviewers Square, JP

The Movies
(2005)

A Fun Game with Some Flaws
The Movies was a game that seemed so interesting to me. I've been trying to make machinamas since I could figure out a computer. With this game, Lionhead Studios gives you the power to sit in the directors chair and direct your own films. Hire people to write scripts, or make your own with the Custom Scriptwriter. Make feature-length movies, include your own cast and give them make-overs, names, and put them in your movies.

CONCEPT - 10/10 - An Awesome concept for a game. It really is a wanna-be director's wet dream, excuse the terminology.

GRAPHICS - 8/10 - The graphics are semi-par. Not the best, but not the worst. Think The Sims. People are well designed, you can see stubble on male faces and the hair on people's heads have strands instead of being one plop on bushy hair. Movie props are a bit boxy, especially the cars. But, nothing to really complain about.

INTERACTIVITY - 7/10 - While they do give you the chance to make your own movie, the scenes are mostly compiled of pre-animated sets instead of custom animation, which makes movie creation a little odd and editing especially difficult. But you learn to get used to it and you can make wonderful movies. If all else fails, you could make the most ridiculous movie every compiled of random out-of-place scenes.

SOUND - 9/10 - Some of the sound is brilliant, while other songs are a little annoying. The radio DJ's that pop up every once in a blue moon are semi-humorous and crack a few funny ones.

OVERALL - 8/10 - As for the game itself, it's an awesome idea with some minor flaws. I can't wait for the sequel.

Bridge to Terabithia
(2007)

What Wonderous Things Happen When We Keep Our Minds Open
The Bridge to Terabithia was on a sitting on a shelf in Best Buy on the day of my niece's 6th birthday. She had heard about the film and said, "I wanna get this one!". As promised, we purchased it and went to my house. After finally fumbling to unwrap it, we put it in the DVD player and started it up. Now, usually, when watching a Disney movie, I say to myself, "Cant wait for some more 'believe in yourself' crap to come out and nip me in the bud.", but this time, it was different. It was about believing in something much bigger than myself. Here is my review of Bridge to Terabithia.

Jess (Josh Hutcherson: Zathura) is a young boy who lives in Northwestern America on a vegetable farm. He goes to a small school and is met by constant bullying by two boys. One day, while sitting in class, Jess meets a new girl, Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb: Because of Winn Dixie). Although she is met with much hostility from Jess, Leslie constantly follows him and attempts to form a friendship. In the middle of the school day, Jess competes in a race with some of the bullies as well as Leslie, who tops all of the boys, including Jess in the race. At the end of the day, Jess learns that Leslie happens to be his new neighbor as well as classmate. Leslie challenges him to a race through the pasture and Jess agrees, send his sister home to play with dolls. As they race, they come to a stop in a small forest. There, they find an abandoned rope hanging over a small crick. They swing on it to test the strength before swinging to the other side. They swing across the crick and walk into the forest. As they make their journey, Leslie decides to play a game. But what starts out as a game, turns into a magical world that's only entered through an open mind and a creative eye. The imagination of these two is the bridge to a new world...The Bridge to Terabithia.

CONCEPT - 10/10 - A wonderful children/family film. So much of the situations that are shown in this film happen to kids everywhere, and if they watch it, they can learn that stress in life can be put behind them by keeping an open mind and having a sense of imagination.

STORY - 10/10 - A refreshing story of friendship and love. The most saddening end to a movie since My Girl when Jess loses Leslie to an accident but keeps up his strength to see that Terabithia is still alive shows that even if you lose someone, you can still produce great things.

CAST - 10/10 - AnnaSophia Robb and Josh Hutcherson together are like two peas in a pod. Josh is an amazing actor with a lot of talent, I can't wait to see him in the movies of the future. AnnaSophia is a beautiful actress with a stunning knack for acting. Her smile really lights up the screen. She could be the next Dakota Fanning, if not better.

This movie really touched my heart and made me feel like I had been looking back at what I used to do as a kid. I hope that so many kids who have seen this film understand the message that it conveys.

From the Reviewer's Square JP

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