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Blog Movie Reviews Movies/Film

Dark City Movie Review

Dark City is a Film Noire Detective story and Matrix-esque Science fiction movie by the director of ‘The Crow‘. My reaction on watching it was ‘How did I miss this?!’ In 1998, with so many good movies being released and poorly publicized as a teen horror flick, Dark City passed under the radar. In a way it is unfair to describe Dark City as ‘Matrix-esque’, since it predates The Matrix, it would be fairer to say The Matrix is like Dark City.

So, what do they have in common? They are both movies about not trusting/questioning your reality. But I would personally say Dark City goes further with the concept, since it is not just about questioning the current situation, but your past, your memories and the essence of who you are. Non-human ‘agents’ who can manipulate the world chase the protagonist (the roof-top chase in both movies are strangely similar). There’s also a mental training scene. The protagonist is special, one might almost say, unique. *wink*

The point is not to do a direct comparison of the movies, but had things gone differently, Dark City could easily have had the reception the Matrix later received with it’s somewhat derivative knock-off.

The antagonists of Dark City are strange alien beings call ‘the Strangers’ that look like a cross between the Cenobites of Hellraiser and the Gentlemen from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They re-shape the world by an ability they call ‘tuning’. They want to understand humans by taking them apart and putting them back together again, giving them different memories and different lives, to locate the soul. I liked this inhuman motivation. What I didn’t like was that it’s inserted that they need to do this to survive, but it is never explained how this will save them. Are we supposed to feel sorry for them now? I think I would have found their experiments more sinister if it was simply something they wanted, rather than needed, to do.

The cast is a stellar team of mostly British film and TV actors. It’s likely you’ll recognise quite a few of them, even if you have trouble placing from where – which fits the mood of misplaced memories. Rufus Sewell plays John Murdoch; he was part way through the ‘tuning’ when something went wrong and is trying to discover who he really is. Jennefer Connely, of Labyrinth fame, is the female lead and it’s interesting to note that Labyrinth imagery turns up a lot in the movie. I think this is symbolic of the journey to find oneself. Connelly also sings some beautify, offbeat versions of well-know songs. I wonder if these slightly ‘off’ versions are also due to reality being messed with?

The atmosphere in the movie is impressive. It is always night (“What was the last time you remember doing something during the day?”) and the entire enormous City is an intricately built set. When reality is altered the special effect is impressive and eerie. Dark City is effective at world-building and the back story unravels as mystery. You see other minor characters in the background in different roles as clues [SPOILER] that their memories have been altered and they are now living different lives as the Strangers experiment every night. Small visual clues are scattered throughout so rewatching is rewarding to see what you missed. A seemingly insignificant memory from the past leads to an earth-shattering plot-twist.

If you like beautiful, dark, dreamlike imagery then this is for you. If you like conceptual sci-fi that asks you to question the nature of your reality then this is for you.

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Blog Computer Games Game Reviews

Zeno Clash Video Game Review

Zeno Clash is a surreal first-person brawler set in the fantasy world of Zenozoik. You play the role of Ghat who, seemingly, has the whole of this strange world against him save one faithful companion, Daedra. Ghat has murdered a hermaphrodite creature called ‘Father-Mother’ who is, yes, both Father and Mother to himself and a slew of siblings. His Brothers and Sisters will literally chase him to the ends of the earth to punish him for his crime. Daedra just wants Ghat to tell her why.

zeno-clash-ghat-and-father-mother

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Blog Movie Reviews Movies/Film

The Hobbit: An unexpected Journey Movie Review

It’s winter, and with the cold weather and darker days it’s not unusual to feel a bit down in the dumps. That is how I was feeling when I went to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey but it succeeded in lifting my spirits. It is the story Bilbo Baggins, a fussy, stay-at-home Hobbit who has barely been beyond his front door, that is until Gandalf the wizard volunteers him to join an adventure with 13 Dwarves as their ‘burglar’. It is a feel-good film with a lot of humour and a satisfying conclusion, even though it is the first instalment of three films.

Bilbo Baggins is going on an adventure!
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Blog Webcomic Reviews Webcomics

Comic Book Review: The Underfold – Best Apocalypse Ever!

The UnderFold
I found this collection enjoyable to read; I’ve dipped into ‘The Underfold’ online but never gone all the way back to the beginning, so most of this was new to me. One of the things I enjoy about webcomics is that you see artistic progression – the learning process – and as a creator I find this very inspiring because it shows even the greatest Artists come from humble beginnings. It’s unusual for a published book to show this, but in this case it does. In the beginning the art you see are sketches almost anyone could do and by the end it has progressed into a confident and unique style.

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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

Webcomic Review – Jake the Evil Hare

Jake the Evil Hare - A Superhero Webcomic "What happens when a very bad jackrabbit goes good?"

Jake the Evil Hare‘s tagline is: What happens when a very bad jackrabbit goes good? Jake is an Anthromorph, or ‘Furry’ if you prefer, which the comic explains in a ‘Secret of NIMH‘ / evil-scientific-experiment-gone-wrong kinda way. He’s also evil and a bit of a dick, fond of random violence and justifying murder to his own satisfaction, but he is the lesser of two evils and moreover trying to change.

This is a story of redemption althought that’s hard to see at first, largely because Jake keeps acting like a dick – an amusing dick but a dick nonetheless. Jake the Evil Hare is a complete lampoon of the Superhero genre and it’s anti-hero protagonist is probably as anti the Marvel-stlye Superhero as you are going to get.

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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: 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.