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Blog Movie Reviews Movies/Film

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Movie Review

hobbit-desolation-of-smaugI have to eat my words here. In my review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (which I loved) I said I didn’t care how much they milked the Lord of the Rings franchise. Well I take it back! You’ve milked enough! No more milk for you – I’m cutting you off.

It’s difficult being the middle child in a film trilogy, and Desolation for me felt like a really long set up for Battle of Five Armies. It doesn’t resolve anything by the end, saving it for the next movie, which left me feeling unsatisfied. I have read the book so I feel they could have reached a resolution here whilst still having a cliffhanger and plenty of conflict left for the finale. This would have made it feel more like a complete and satisfying movie in and of itself.

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Movie Review: Gamerz

Gamerz Movie PosterGamerz (spelt with a ‘Z’ to distinguish it from the -much better- The Gamers) is a Scottish indie movie about fantasy role-play gaming (RPGs). I was particularly enthusiastic to see this movie because it’s a British production and I am a British gamer. However it wasn’t what I expected because it isn’t really about gaming, it is a character piece about disparate people from different backgrounds being brought together and the relationships/conflicts which occur between them. The game is a vehicle to bring the characters together.

Gamerz follows Ralph, an extremely isolated young nerd whose parents died in a car crash. He is bullied and downtrodden so escapes into his imagination, creating his own fantasy world in which he is in complete control. When he starts University he takes over the role-play society and becomes Game Master, running an adventure campaign using his own setting and his own rules. The players hang on his every word. Ralph falls for the society’s only female gamer, Marlyn, a sexy Goth who, unfortunately, is as mad as a box of frogs. Also one of the bullys from Ralph’s neighbourhood – the drug-dealing, car-jacking Lennie – wants in on the role-playing action. He, too, is attracted to Marlyn, and soon things start to spin out of Ralph’s control. Will his house of cards come tumbling down?

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Blog Movie Reviews Movies/Film

Movie Review: Mazes & Monsters

This is a 1980’s made-for-tv movie and fulfills all the expectations that come with that description, namely poor quality scripting, acting and special effects. It stars a young Tom Hanks and notably contains footage of the World Trade Center. Based on the novel by the same name Mazes & Monsters is interesting mainly because of it’s social context. During it’s heyday role-play gaming was a much maligned hobby purported to be a form of satanism and blaimed for criminal activities, mental illness and suicides. Players were persecuted, ostricised and anti-D&D groups established to try and ban the game. It’s hard to imagine nowadays that a harmless game of make-believe could provoke such a reaction, but these attitudes were widespread and some still persist to this day. I remember as late as the 1990’s being forbidden from buying a D&D book because it was ‘Devil-worship.’

mazes and monsters - Tom Hanks goes bat shit crazy!

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Blog Movie Reviews Movies/Film

Movie Review: Reiki

I interviewed the Director, Pedro Chaves, while this film was in post-production. It is an idependant movie made on a low budget over a very short time period, and we can only dream about what it might have been were more time and finances available, but we have to take it as it is. The lack of resources shows, but it’s still a real accomplishment with an inspired concept and good production values.

Reiki - The first Belgium Fantasy/Action Movie
Not to be confused with massage or the art of healing, Reiki is a violent film about two rival sets of immortals – “The Order” and “Witches” – able to live on after death by reincarnation, and the one weapon that can kill them perminently: The Sword called “Reiki.”

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Blog Movie Reviews

Movie Review: The Gamers 2 – Dorkness Rising

A Sequel to The Gamers, Dorkness Rising is even better, like the first with all it’s rough edges smoothed off. From the first few seconds Dorkness Rising gleams with professionalism – it’s still an Indie production, for sure, but Dead Gentleman Productions have teamed up with Epic Level Entertainment to produce something to easily rival a cinematic release.

Still from The Gamers 2 - Dorkness Rising, Flyyn's 2nd death

Dorkness Rising uses the same style of storytelling established in the first, switching between in-game and out-of-game perspectives to great comic effect, but this time with a different group of gamers. The plot is entirely separate from it’s predecessor so there is no requirement to watch The Gamers first. A couple of characters recur: Lodge, played by Nathan Rice, is now the DM and originally played Newmoon. Mark (the Red) also makes a cameo appearance. (Hooray!)

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Blog Movie Reviews

Movie Review: The Gamers

The Gamers is an Independently produced comedy by Dead Gentleman Productions, and focuses on a group of student role-play gamers (I can confidently say they are playing Dungeons & Dragons – I recognise the books). It fully embraces the concept of this being a game and interchanges between the game-world and the real-world, which adds much of its humour. The Gamers succeeds in accurately showing what the experience of gaming is like: to the outside viewer just a bunch of nerds sitting around a table, but once you enter that imaginative world you see it is much more, and a ton of fun!

Role-players sitting around a table from the movie The Gamers

The Movie is very much carried by its humour, the plot itself isn’t very robust being a basic defeat the villain, rescue the Princess cliché but nonetheless serves as a good vehicle. Likewise the characters are very stereotypical but that’s okay because it’s what the movie is making fun of.

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Movie Review: Dungeons & Dragons 2 – Wrath of the Dragon God

After the atrocity of Dungeons & Dragons the Movie it’s doubtful whether any sequel ever had lower expectations than this. Fortunately things could only get better. Wrath of the Dragon God could not be more different from its predecessor, and it’s gratifying to see criticism being used constructively.

Mages casting spells

Set in Ismer a century on the city is unrecognisable, but Damodar, the blue-lipped henchman (minus the blue lips) and only recurring character (played by Bruce Payne), plans to destroy it. It seems Jeremy Irons cursed him with undeath (justification for blue lips if ever I heard one) so Damodar, seeking revenge, locks him in a room with the first movie playing on a continual loop recovers the magical Orb of Thingamabob to awaken the sleeping Dragon God.

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Blog Movie Reviews

Movie Review: InAlienable

Dr. Eric Norris (Richard Hatch) is infected by an alien parasite producing a tentacled offspring which shares his DNA and embarks on a legal battle for custody over the ‘child’. An interesting and original concept full of promise but which fails to fulfil its potential.

inalienable

There’s a rumour that Director Robert Dyke kidnapped the Stars from a local Sci-Fi convention and held them at gunpoint until the filming was complete. Okay, so I made that up, but this movie is jam-packed with actors from Star Trek, Babylon 5, Stargate and Battlestar Galactica to name but a few. And, honestly, playing a game of star-spotting is probably to only way you’ll make it to the end.

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Blog Movie Interviews

Interview with Director Cisco Davis Jr. on ‘The Peculiars.’

Director and Producer Cisco Davis Jr. talks about The Peculiars – an Indie Superhero film set to start filming this autumn. Something peculiar is coming…

First things first, What is The Peculiars about?

The Peculiars is a actually a spin-off of my webcomic “The Pure and Hidden Truth” (www.pureandhiddentruth.com). It tells the story of a team of crime fighters based in Baltimore City that have just gone public as they take on their first big challenge of facing off with a domestic terror cell of dangerously imaginative mimes.

I’ve long suspected Mimes to be evil! Interesting villains to say the least; Mimes can do amazing things with their bodies. Have you cast actual Mimes and what feats can we expect to see from them?

During the casting process when I was casting the lead villain and and “henchmimes” I was very disappointed that I was auditioning ordinary people for these roles. And then I lucked out one day when I got an e-mail from an actual professional mime from New York! A week later the person came down to Baltimore for dinner and to talk about the movie and was cast on the spot for the lead villain! What’s cool is that the actor is a professional mime and can coach other villain actors during filming. I don’t want to give away too much of what these mimes are capable of but let’s just say that the phrase “dangerously imaginative” alludes to the very real possibility that their “miming”
of various actions or wielding certain objects could pose a serious threat to our heroes… 😉

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Blog Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Dungeons & Dragons (2000)

I’m starting to believe that Dungeons & Dragons is to film what Macbeth is to Theatre: cursed. Invoke the name and you spell disaster. Perhaps you’ve seen the 80’s cartoon series or Dragons of Autumn Twilight? They were bad, to be sure, but this is worse – far worse than you can possibly imagine. Which, believe it or not, is sort of it’s charm; it keeps you watching with morbid fascination to see just how bad bad can get.

Blue lipstick? Bugger me!

The movie’s tag-line was ‘This is no game,’ and truer words were never spoken. The classic role-play game is only conspicuous in it’s absence from the production that bears it’s name. A few scant elements were incorporated from the source matter, but those inaccurately, so what was intended as fan service comes across as a kick in the teeth.