The announcement came that there would be a second How To Train Your Dragon, and I believe I was more excited than any child ever was. I turned up at the cinema armed with my boyfriend, my boyfriend’s nine year old sister, and my Toothless plushie.
The film went ridiculously quick compared to most films I’ve seen in the cinema (but I’m used to Marvel films, The Hobbitses and the Hunger Games, so that was understandable). But every second of it was beautiful.
Without giving much away for those who haven’t seen it (and why haven’t you seen it yet? You’ve had plenty of time, hop to it!), it was even better than the first one. Toothless gets a hell of a lot more airtime doing all sorts of cute cat-like things, to the point that when I left the cinema, my whole being ached for dragons to be real. I needed Toothless in my life. For real.
In other words, it was good.
There is a whole load of new dragons, and one in particular is almost as cute as Toothless… although we all know that’s impossible.
His name is Cloudjumper. He acts almost like Toothless’ serious older brother, and their relationship is absolutely adorable.
But there was one particular scene that I’m always going to choke up on, no matter how many times I rewatch it (and believe me I will). Some stuff happens. Sad stuff. So sad that I was sat in the cinema, surrounded by dry-eyed children, tears streaming down my face. I would have been full on sobbing if it wasn’t for my dignity. I would not break down in front of a room full of children!
And thank God for 3D glasses making me look cool and unemotional when I was an utter wreck inside.
All I can say is good job, Dreamworks. I may need rehab but at least you created another masterpiece. Easily the best film of the year.
The plot is as clichéd and old as the hills… but it’s executed brilliantly.
Albert Stark is the generic hero left broken-hearted by his unworthy girlfriend – until he meets Anna. Anna pretends to be his girlfriend in order to make his ex jealous. Then of course Stark falls for Anna in the process, only to find out she’s married to the big bad guy – Clinch (aka Liam Neeson, who is as hilariously awkward running with a gun as he was in the Taken films) Big bad guy is defeated, boy gets girl, happy ending.
…But this is a Seth MacFarlane film, and he’s pretty damn good at subverting the expectations. Particularly with amazingly unexpected cameo appearances, it seems. To name a few:
– Ryan Reynolds as a random cowboy with a five second appearance in which he gets shot.
– Ewan McGregor as a Cowboy at the fair.
– Christopher Lloyd – In character as Doc Brown!
– Gilbert Gottfried as Abe Lincoln.
– Jamie Foxx – in character as Django!
…So I was partially bouncing up and down in my seat with excitement when I saw these tip-of-the-hats to some of my favourite movies. And they worked so well!
But MacFarlane also subverts the expectations by taking a cliché, walking us up a familiar path with it, only to throw us off a cliff. For instance, in the usual ‘aha! The big reveal! This is how I cleverly beat you, bad guy!” moment, he’s cut short by the fact Clinch died a while back in his speech, and nobody got to see “how really clever” he’d been.
But most importantly as a comedy, the film was funny. There were a few crude moments – but that’s to be expected. And for once, this comedy’s funny bits weren’t all shown in the trailer. In fact, some of the film’s funnier moments weren’t in it. Stark’s acid trip, the moustache song, and many other hilarities set this film apart from others like it. I couldn’t fault the acting or the casting, and I fully enjoyed it.
Even if your sense of humour isn’t dark or warped, you should be able to appreciate the sarcasm, quick wit and irony in this film. I’d highly recommend going to see this film… Although I’ve probably just ruined a lot of it for you.
As soon as I saw the beauty and uniqueness of Godus, I wanted it. I just wasn’t paying the full £14.99 for it.
It went on sale at the beginning of January and I snapped it up right away. Godus is a game where you literally play God (if you couldn’t guess from the title). You can mould the land, build houses, farms and… well actually that’s about it.
No I’m kidding, there’s more to it than that. You begin in the Primitive Age, and your first aim is to get a certain amount of population, which when achieved gives you more land to build on, or upgrades for you people. Once you have progressed enough, you’ll move onto the next age.
It is partially a card based system, in that you collect cards, and once you have enough cards you can use your upgrades. You can find some of these resource cards in chests dotted around the vast map (I’m not kidding, the map is HUGE. I still get a bit lost sometimes).
But the primary focal point in this game is the land. It is the source of all your power! Crush homes, build homes, make pretty cliffs or even art…
It comes in several beautiful layers of colour, that you can shape to your heart’s desire… providing you have collected enough Belief from your followers, which is essentially your money.
This is a very clicky game. You have to click a lot to make the land go where you want, and even then it will sometimes pick another layer by accident. This can get annoying, but it’s not a major issue.
This is especially annoying with houses. I’ve lost count of how many times I accidentally destroyed a building with land whilst collecting Belief. And yet if you TRY to destroy a building in the same way, it won’t let you.
This game was addictive, and before long I’d racked up 21 hours on it, just in the Primitive Age. Because the game is still in Beta (and according to them only 41% complete), it only currently has two playable ages: Primitive and Bronze. Primitive I enjoyed very much: I got to explore and build and play around to my heart’s content.
The Bronze Age is not so fun. As soon as you reach it, a storm begins. This was terrifying because it was the first real change to happen in the game. The visuals were quite cool though. Until it stopped and you realised half your buildings were damaged.
So I set to work repairing them all, and found out instead of population goals, I now had agricultural goals. Apparently if you have a plot of land near a town, it will become a field for harvesting, and only the houses in settlements are safe from the storms (because we all know that farms are most common in towns, and wind can’t damage houses when they’re together).
So yeah. The storms come back. On a regular basis. Every night, in fact. There really isn’t a point in fixing your houses, and there’s not really a point in the houses at all in the Bronze Age. You just need to farm. This was where I got bored in the game. I knew there was nothing after the Bronze Age yet so there was no point in continuing with it.
There were a few glitches in the game, such as the three land expansion cards I received that didn’t do anything. I could see the unavailable land, and it stayed that way. It was quite frustrating because I’d run out of space and couldn’t do anything about it.
Another was the timers on buildings. They would randomly freeze so I couldn’t use the people in them, or during the AI challenges the clocks would reset when I needed those people most. The bots also glitched out several times. They would try to move land but it would be blocked by my houses. They’d keep trying and not get anywhere, which gave me free time to win the battles.
Another annoying thing were my followers. They need stairs made for them to get to any level higher or lower than they already are. But these stairs need to be perfect to them; many times they looked at my stairs, pointed at them, and then died after walking around doing nothing.
The noises in this game are also quite peculiar. There is a heartbeat sound effect when you near your goal, and it’s quite unnerving, like you’re about to be ambushed. Then there’s the noise if you collect a lot of Belief all at once and then stop. It’s the most disappointed sound ever, and I found myself taking it slowly when collecting Belief to avoid this noise. And the followers make a noise like a choking duck when they die.
And dare I mention the creepy conversation the bots have in the battle challenges! You get the impression someone rather old created these people and tried to talk like a youngster. There are even some on-purpose mistakes thrown in too for realism.
The main storyline is that one guy fancies a girl but gets rejected, and another girl’s cat gets hit by a car, then she gets made redundant and potentially commits suicide… and these are meant to be Godus players. Seems promising!
But all in all this is a really fun and addictive game. Because it’s only in Beta, the glitches and bad stuff are forgiveable, and I can’t wait to see what they do with the other ages and multiplayer. I would seriously recommend it.
SPOILER ALERTS! (Though you should have read the books already… so it’s your own fault).
So after a slight mishap of reading the wrong cinema times that had nothing to do with me (honest!), we finally sat down to watch Catching Fire. It begins with a montage of forest images, and then goes straight to Katniss in the woods with Gale. I found this scene a bit of a drab beginning… it seemed pointless, and going straight into the action would have been much better.
In fact the entire beginning was quite boring, so much so that I can’t remember much of it. Until they shot the man in District 11. Then things started to get interesting.
The film captured the adrenaline and fear and fire of the uprising perfectly. They did it quite subtly; the scribbled messages and symbols, the secret videos of fighting and massacres… it really gave a feel of a suppressed nation. And the Peacekeepers had a feeling of ruthlessness about them; killing anyone who happened to show the slightest sign of rebellion. We felt along with Katniss the guilt and sorrow she must feel.
The sexual involvement with Gale was overdramatised. I don’t remember her kissing him as much in the book as she did in the film… but the way she kissed both of them didn’t make her look good. She was like every other generic 21st Century heroine – caught in a love triangle (or pentagon in some cases *cough True Blood cough.*
After Gale is publicly whipped and his back is mended by Prim, a television appearance from Snow announces the Quarter Quell; the 75th anniversary of the Hunger Games. This year, the previous 24 victors will return to the arena. Katniss, her mother, Haymitch and Peeta’s expressions were perfect in this scene. They all reacted exactly how they should, and it brought tears to the eyes. Again, at the Reaping, it is painfully sad to watch (despite the humour of Effy Trinket pulling one piece of paper out of an otherwise empty jar).
Effy herself was a lot more likeable in this film. Her dresses are wackier (and there’s more in her wardrobe than Katniss’), but she’s also a bit less ditsy. Haymitch is his usual drunken self, as the books dictate he should be. Some of his quips about alcohol, and drug induced victors are great, and they light the darkness of the story. For instance, in the moment when Peter announces, “we’re expecting a baby,” Haymitch raises his hip flask to him in the audience.
Unfortunately, as I was watching, I remembered the events that were about to happen from the book. I haven’t read it in well over a year, and Cinna’s death came back to me just before the unveiling of the dress. The reveal of the mockingjay dress was beautiful, and his composure, his knowledge of his own self-condemnation was heart-breaking.
However, when it came to the actual scene, it was a bit of a let-down. When his face hit the glass, I was expecting a really gory scene; enough blood and screams to REALLY upset Katniss, but he just sort of lay there whilst they kicked him and then dragged him off with a little bit of blood round his mouth. I don’t think they did that scene justice.
But one thing they did get right was the arena. It was almost exactly as I pictured it; with the obscure clock face and the different, deadly things in each section. The mist was horrible – they blistered to the touch. The monkeys were genuinely terrifying; so much so that half the cinema jumped when one screeched. I never thought I was scared of monkeys. Suddenly I never want to be near one.
Anyway, away from the monkeys.
The casting was spot on. “Nuts” and “Volts” (or Beetee and Wiress) were awesome, but Johanna Mason was by far the best. It was good to have someone who wasn’t compliant to the rules of the Capital, but genuinely angry and a bit of a loose cannon. Jena Malone portrayed her well, and I found myself liking her more in the film than I did in the book.
Finnick’s relationship with Mags is also lovely. Just the image of this young (and rather good looking) man carrying a tiny old woman on his back was so sweet, and it made it all the more depressing when she disappeared into the mist to save Peeta. You could tell she meant an awful lot to Finnick.
The ending was a bit anti-climatic after the big lightning drama and everything falling apart around Katniss. It was an eerily beautiful scene, and I think it would have been better to leave it there… especially when they’re making Mockingjay into a two parter (like every other move franchise is currently doing). But Jennifer Lawrence’s facial expressions say a lot about Katniss’ emotions at the very end of the film.
So overall, I’d give The Hunger Games: Catching Fire a 7/10. It was good, a bit boring to start with but as the action kicked in, it was gripping. They missed next to nothing from the book which is a rare circumstance in film these days (though it may have had something to do with Suzanne Collins being on the production team). I’d definitely recommend going to see it… and reading the books if you haven’t already!!
My boyfriend told me I would enjoy Scribblenauts Unlimited due to its wordiness and creativity. He was completely right.
I bought it when it was on sale on Steam for about £3, and it was certainly worth it. I’ve immensely enjoyed creating the most random objects I could to try and complete the objectives. From hydras to dead babies to black holes; your imagination knows no bounds (Well… other than the ‘no profanities’ thing).
And then on top of that, you can give them adjectives! Suddenly you have a fire-breathing dog, or a blind security guard, or a massive angry rainbow unicorn. It is extremely beneficial for you to give Maxwell – the main protagonist – the adjectives “superfast” and “flying.” Failing that, just give him a jetpack: you’ll need to fly to reach some missions.
But let’s rewind back to the plot; I got a bit overexcited. Your grandparents were great explorers, who discovered a magical notepad and a globe that transports you anywhere. These were passed down to you and your sister Lily. One day, a magical man curses you for not showing him any kindness. Over time, Lily will be encased in stone, and you need to do good deeds to get ‘Starites’ which somehow help unpetrify her. The magical notepad creates anything you want, so long as it doesn’t involve genitals, real people’s names, or curse words. The fast travel option is extremely handy seeing as half the time I got a bit lost.
The storyline isn’t that intriguing, but the gameplay is so fun you don’t really care – it is a kid’s game after all, and it’s all about the morals. Though how many kids know what adjectives are these days, I don’t know.
So who is the most powerful game protagonist of all time? My vote lies with Maxwell. Who’s going to oppose a boy who can summon a Cthulu, dragon and nuclear weapons, whilst making himself immortal and overpowered simply by writing that he is? Oh, and there is the little fact he could just fuck you up by giving you adjectives like “limbless” or “dead.” Failing that, he could just make you non-existent. I shit you not.
The missions to get Starites can get a bit repetitive over time. They all consist of, “I want something that does job X. Create it for me.” And it is ridiculously easy to complete these tasks, so much so that I had completed the overall objective of achieving 60 Starites to free Lily before I’d even covered three quarters of the map.
However, there are so many types of people in various settings that you forgive the same-but-different missions and just try to complete them with the most random things you can think of. From pirate ship to haunted house to swamp – they have almost every setting you can possibly think of. They have ninjas, Santa Claus and Paladins wanting you to do something for them.
To name just a few, I’ve pulled a cart along with a hamster, fed a sociologist to a mutant amoeba, and given a religious nut God’s toenail. All of these completed their missions, and sent me into fits of hysterics when they did.
However, they don’t always work. When Neptune wanted something to help him rule the oceans, giving him a dictator wasn’t good enough. When the mountaineers wanted to find something at the summit, apparently God wasn’t what they were looking for. It is quite subjective, but in most cases it will allow you to choose amazing things.
They have some great references in there too; if you type in “nerd” you are given Napoleon Dynamite. You want to Rickroll? Sure, summon Rick Astley. You also meet a certain Hobbit in a volcano who’s forgotten what he’s meant to be doing, and a penguin with a rubber glove on its head, trying to steal a diamond from a museum. It’s little touches like this that make me happy.
So overall, I give this game 6/10. It’s fun and inventive, but repetitive and the storyline is a bit drab. There is a creator system where you can create your own objects and put them on the Steam Workshop, but that too is quite limited, and I found it tricky to get the hang of.
I never considered playing BioShock until I heard about Infinite. It was such a pretty, novel concept and I found myself eager to play it. I got hooked, and enjoyed every moment. The storyline was especially gripping, which not all decent shooters manage to accomplish. It persuaded me to try the previous two games.
The underwater city of Rapture is – in my opinion – nowhere near as pretty as Columbia (though I can forgive it, seeing as Rapture was invented five years prior), but the storyline is much darker, and fifty shades of fucked up. You get thrown straight into the action after surviving a plane crash, only to be attacked by psychopaths in bunny masks.
You get introduced to a guy named Atlas… and I fell in love with him straight away. Not just because of the picture on his recording, but that suave Irish accent was beautiful. I was willing to do whatever he said.
I love the recordings aspect of BioShock; I like the noise it makes as it plays them, and it gives good insight into the plot and the minor characters we never really see (in their sane state). There are some pretty nasty ones too, like Dr. Suchong’s experiments with mind control – we hear him telling a young woman to break a puppy’s neck, and her compliance several moments later.
The Little Sisters and Big Daddies are adorable. I hate having to kill the Big Daddies to save the girls, but it’s necessary. It gives you the option to acquire more ADAM to spend on upgrades by harvesting them, but I don’t know how anyone could be so cruel. Especially after hearing her say, “nooooo, Mr. Bubbles!” Besides, they leave you teddy bears with 200 extra ADAM for saving them, so you don’t need to harvest them. The only difference is a different ending… where you are horrible and practically take over the world.
The camera idea was quite cool. It reminded me of the Dead Rising system, and it was an interesting concept that taking pictures gives you bonuses against enemies. However, I quite often forgot about using it. Similarly many of the weapons I didn’t bother using. They were superfluous when I have Plasmids, a pistol, machine gun and shotgun.I hardly used the grenade launcher, chemical thrower or crossbow.
The abilities were cool too. Admittedly I found some quite useless, like Enrage (which never seemed to work for me) and Security Bullseye. But the shock, fire, ice and wind Plasmids were all good. It was quite annoying that you could only carry so many of them at a time and had to go to your nearest gene bank to swap them, but I just left off the ones I disliked.
There were a couple of things I wasn’t keen on in the game. The hacking system was a right pain in the ass and no fun at all. It’s basically a timed puzzle, and you have to switch the panels round until the tubes align. Most of the time the liquid moved too quickly and the machine short circuited. It was easier just to find automatic hack tools. Secondly, the wallet limit was annoying. 500 dollars wasn’t much when 40 rounds of machine gun ammo cost 60 dollars. Thirdly, those damn security cameras and their autobot flying turrets. They’re not very powerful, but they’re certainly annoying. However, without the cameras the game is much too easy.
I had been growing a sneak suspicion that Atlas wasn’t necessarily the good guy he was making out to be. But I hoped for the best so I could continue listening to his lovely voice. However, when I finally met Andrew Ryan, the so-called main antagonist of the game, he explained the truth to me: Atlas wasn’t all he claimed to be. He had brainwashed me with the phrase, “would you kindly?” A wash of realisation hit me and I realised he was right – the game had literally brainwashed me into not noticing the phrase. I was amazed. It’s probably something to do with me falling in love with him saying, “would ya coindly?” Yes. Yes I would. And then his voice was replaced by the rough American accent of Frank Fontaine. I had lost my lovely fictitious Irishman.
Although I was happy the Little Sisters helped me out and then led happy lives, nothing REALLY happened. The end of Infinite (I won’t ruin it for the people who haven’t finished it yet) had me reeling with shock with its ending. At least they’ve improved since Bioshock’s ending I guess.However, despite this shock revelation, I found the ending severely disappointing. Because they had this big reveal, the ending had nothing to give and it was very anticlimactic. I had to fight the League of Legends Brand character that my Atlas really was. Sadly, this was achievable with only 8 crossbow bolts, 4 injections to drain ADAM from him, and 1 first aid kit. It was one of the easiest final bosses I’ve ever faced.
Overall, I’d give this game 7/10. It was really enjoyable to play through, but the ending totally let it down. It had an intriguing storyline, good combat system and I liked the moral choice of saving the Little Sisters. I managed to complete the storyline in nine hours, but that was with thorough looting for diary entries. If they sorted out the hacking system too, I’d have given it higher, and I would have liked achievements to be available, but there weren’t (I played on PC). Definitely worth the time though.