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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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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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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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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!)