Tag Archives: Europe

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. A Nice Sendoff…

After having played these games faithfully over the years, I was kind of disappointed with the way Ezio and Altair’s storyline ended. These two historical badasses have taught me that I can view the wonderful views of Europe and  Asia from my sofa, and I learned a thing or two along the way. And what’s better than playing as a grizzled and gray old master? But what wasn’t great was the quickly knotted and severed storyline that just led Ezio to Altair through Constantinople. With some strange new additions and a lot of DLC I’ll never be able to play (more that I don’t care to), Revelations left a bittersweet taste in the mouth.

The story is quite simple (especially if you recently played Brotherhood). It’s been a few years and Ezio is starting to show his age. Now that is something I was impressed with in this game. To grow older and wiser with a character as the game progresses? THAT’S A GENIUS MOVE. I loved every second of knowing just where Ezio came

A few of the character types for AC: Revelations.

from and where Altair was going. It was an intelligent gameplay device for the series. So there’s now older Ezio, (known as the Mentor) who has come to Constantinople, formerly known as the Byzantine Empire. With warring factions of Assassin’s and hidden Templars vying for the city, it is up to Ezio to lead the charge against the unwelcome squatters.

Gotta love the Creed.

Okay, Ezio’s other purpose for coming to the Middle East. Altair, in one of the best opening videos for the game series ever, left a door locked for his lineage to discover hidden within Masayaf. Ezio rambles some henchmens’ brains and finds the door, only to discover he must find some keys in order to unlock it and find the secret weapon behind it. They’re scattered throughout Constantinople by the workings of Marco Polo and his father. Using book clues and a lot of cutlery, Ezio swings through the rooftops of the city in order to unlock the secret.

Even further in the plot is Desmond. He just hoo-hawed Lucy and is now in a coma inside of the Animus 2.0. With the help of the figment of Subject 16, Desmond must combine his Altair past lives and Ezio past lives in order to come back from the brink.

Ezio struggling a bit himself, on the edge.

Okay, gameplay: It’s the free running slaughterfest you would expect from the AC series. Ezio is older and shows it with his speed and dexterity. What could he need at this point, you’re wondering. 1 simple solution. Hookblade. This new addition to Ezio’s weaponry allows him to zipline through the city and avoid/slay guards at will. Think of it like a cane for an old man (with a blade hidden inside). Combos are as brutal and fresh as ever. Collectibles and city restoration are normal. But there were some problems.

A bit of the hookblade action.

Having to defend Constantinople from the Templars was annoying as poop. Around every corner, one of the Assassin’s Guilds was under attack. And then you’d have to do some Bloons Tower Defense all over their ass, and that took up time and cut away from you actually doing the slaughtering. There were too many missions with the Assassin recruits and having to visit them and wipe their bottoms wasn’t helping anything. And trying to get any semblance of achievements or furthering the percentage of completion in the game was weighed down by silly side missions and a block building game with Desmond. This is why I will always love the original more than any of the others. Missions, flags, and killing at will. There’s none of this side quests, hidden gems, and pampering the city B.S.

Ah yes, the young Altair. Notice the scar above his upper lip. That looks familiar…

With all of these problems aside, it was a pretty weak sendoff for Ezio and Altair. Yes, you walk around as Altair at 80+ doing some elite pwnage (never use that normally, guess I want to seem like a true gamer…)  and some nice explosions to walk away from, but nothing you would expect from the mind blowing storyline this game series has created. You find the goods, and then one of the biggest cliffhangers ever. Assload of credits and back to some freeplay. Damn it all to Hell, with AC3 coming out, you could’ve gotten me a bit more excited. So I’ll leave you with this. Play the game because it’ll make you feel a bit closer to Ezio and Altair. There are some great bits, but far from Brotherhood or AC1/2. The visuals are stunning and the history is rich, and that’s what I play these games for. Enjoy it while you can until you forget about it because you’re too busy hiding boners from AC3. Just a little bit longer… A solid 6.7

Get some of that carnage.

out of 10.

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Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance

The second I saw this trailer in theaters and Ghost Rider is pissing fire, I lost my mind. First, I am a huge Nicholas Cage fan and love all of his work, good or bad. Second, I am a huge fan of the Ghost Rider comics. And this movie came up just at the right time. The first one didn’t do it for me. It gave me a small taste of the Ghost Rider I’m familiar with from the comics, but wasn’t true enough. This one, thankfully, redeemed that for me a bit.

In this installment of what I hope turns into a yearly thing, Ghost Rider is back. With a vengeance. Etc., etc., etc. And this time, Johnny Blaze is trying to hold back his powers. Knowing that, if he unleashes them, The Rider will kill those he loves and hates, Blaze must hold back the demon. This works for a time but soon, his powers are needed to save the world.

Nic Cage is back, with a more badass bike.

At the start of this film, in a nondescript location, Moreau (Idris Elba) is a drunken vigilante priest set out to warn a castle full of monks that they are no longer safe and cannot protect a young boy named Danny (Fergus Riordan) who is said to have the Devil within him. He must be kept from evil before the day of reckoning, and, of course, that’s not gonna happen. A swat-like takedown ensues and Danny and his mother Nadya (Violante Placido) are forced to leave the safety of the castle. Moreau performs a dastardly move and protects Nadya and Danny for a while.

Guilty.

Meanwhile, after Moreau escapes from his lofty predicament, he seeks out the help of Johnny Blaze, The Ghost Rider (Nicholas Cage). Confining himself to a shed in the middle of Europe somewhere, Blaze vows never to allow his powers to be used again. When told of Danny’s situation and the promise that Moreau can help remove his powers, Blaze agrees to let The Rider out one more time.

Nadya and Danny are on the run from Ray Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth), a no good gun runner and overall punk who is in league with Rourke, The Devil (Ciaran Hinds). He is successful in kidnapping him a number of times and it is up to Moreau, Nadya and Blaze to save him before it’s too late.

How is this drunk man driving?

I was more impressed with this movie more than the other one. Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman, and David S. Goyer wrote a better script/plot that allowed for more elements of The Ghost Rider universe to enter. Johnny Blaze’s conflicted feelings come into effect in this movie. Although Peter Fonda didn’t come back for Mephistopheles (The Devil), Rourke was a poor substitute. Hinds’ decrepit body was no appeal for a diabolical devil. Blackout was a good addition to the series, although the decaying thing isn’t really a part of it, and Blackout is more a factor in the Danny Ketch/Ghost Rider series. Including Danny as a suggestion for the continuation for the Marvel Knight’s Ghost Rider was exciting, but that Fergus kid was a strange one.

Good old Johnny Whitworth is back!

The writers got most of the powers right, and even added a new one. Leaving out the Penance Stare was a bit disappointing and I really enjoyed that in the last film. But what was cool about this one was the ability for The Rider to create any vehicle into a Hellfire machine. I know it’s not true to the comics, but the CG suggestion of it was pretty badass. What they should have brought in was The Rider’s shotgun which projects hellfire. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

I think where most people got hung up on this movie was Nic Cage’s performance. His performance comes off as over the top manic, and, if he had toned it down, things may have gone over better. His age is also a factor in the movies. A much younger Johnny Blaze probably would’ve been better. And the “Cage stigma” on the film probably stigmatizes the whole thing, but hey, as least it was a more truthful approach to Ghost Rider.

A little bit of the Nic Cage madness.

Other than the Cage’s acting, I was impressed with Idris Elba’s performance in this movie. This English actor badass from the 5th season of The Office as Charles Miner and his hit/award winning show Luther, his acting really attempted to tie down the movie in a more dramatic superhero style. Violante Placido wasn’t bad, although hard to pinpoint where she was coming from in this movie. The most exciting part for me in this movie was the return of Johnny Whitworth to my knowledge in the film world. After having not seen him since The Rainmaker, I was happy to see his good lookin’ mug again. And Ciaran Hinds just came across as some decrepit pedophile, no thanks to a strangeness in his character’s lines.

Get a taste of them comics, G.R. fans.

Other than that, I’m glad that The Rider returned. And Nicholas Cage thought, “Hey, I’ll reprise the role and give the people a show.” With a darker outlook on the Ghost Rider series, I really appreciated this one more than the other. And hope for more. Much more. This Ghost Rider gets a 7.5 out of 10.


Season of the Witch: Get Your Cage On

I'm liking this.

In the same vein as Black Death and watched only a few nights afterwards, I came to the realization as to why this movie didn’t work for me. It’s not Nic Cage or Ron Pearlman. It’s not the lackluster accents put on by the cast. It’s not the Rock ‘n’ Roll ahead approach to the plot. It’s the fact that I didn’t feel that any of these actors were ever meant to or destined to star in period pieces. As in Black Death, Sean Bean was specifically bred and born to play the role of a Medieval knight. In Nic Cage’s case, I’m not at all positive. Sure, Ron Pearlman has wielded a sword in In the Name of a King (come to think of it, even Jason Statham can’t play an English peasant…) but Pearlman’s body size is really only perfect for Hellboy and Blade II.

And, in this manner, I was removed from fully immersing myself and enjoying the plot presented in Season of the Witch. (Original title idea for Scorsese’s

Do you believe this wench to be a witch?

Mean Streets.) I had to watch this though. My goal in life is to watch the entire career of Nicholas Cage in full. All the way from Fast Times at Ridgemont High down to Ghost Rider 5 (I hope…). I’ll take all the good (The Cage Renaissance) all the way down to his money problems (National Treasure and onwards… for now…). Seeing as this Medieval film really fits this quota, let’s dissect it.

Nic Cage and his flowing locks of sultry power.

So Behmen (Nicholas Cage) and Felson (Ron Pearlman) are two ex-crusaders. And to say that, I mean that after many wars, these two decided all the killing wasn’t worth it anymore. And I gotta say, some pretty pimp-ass helmets as well. They look like cauldrons. Whatever floats your boat. So these two ruffians hustle it back to Germany just in time to find that the Black Plague has hit Europe. (Actually accurate that a lot of Crusaders missed that bit in history.) Discovered in some barn area that they are wanted by the Church, these two duel for a quick second and then are whisked off to meet with Cardinal D’Ambroise (Christopher Lee).

Haggard as ever and possessed by the plague, the Cardinal orders these two men to escort a suspected witch to a hidden monk’s shindig house in order to LIFT THE ENTIRE CURSE OF THE BLACK PLAGUE. All because of one girl?

Read, Deballsack!

Unlikely… But that’s beside the point. So the two agree to avoid jail/death, and they assemble their Super Squad. First up we got Debelzeq (Stephen Campbell Moore). This is pronounced De-ball-sack. Unfortunate, but an actual name. One of the more believable period piece actors, Moore brings a bit of the clergy to the screen. There’s Eckhart (Ulrich Thomsen), the soft-spoken man with a heart of gold. He obviously can’t last. And there’s Hagamar the thief (Stephen Graham). He’s really not worth mentioning.

Robert Sheehan, the last bastion of hope in this film.

And then there’s the star of the show. Young altar boy turned knight, Kay von Wollenbarth (Robert Sheehan). This new up and coming actor stars in one of my favorite shows in the U.K., Misfits. This show (which will be reviewed soon) is a wonderful breakout role for Sheehan, and he has proved his mettle since then in Killing Bono and Red Riding. He’s really not given a chance to shine in this film with the limited script, but you’d barely recognize him. If only his Irish accent could flow from those lips in every film.

So, on this whirlwind roller coaster adventure, in every twist and turn, lives are at stake. Is Anna (Claire Foy) truly a witch? Or something more? Will Behmen and Felson survive? Only watching this movie from start to finish in hopefully one sitting will tell…

There’s really not much to say about anything else in this film, so I’ll summarize. The acting is a period piece, without a sense of the period. English accents failed to veil whatever was going on at the time. If those were even accents… I love the Cage, but when you want some Cage action, you expect a bit better from him. This one was toned down and I commend him for that action, but some more terror and mania was necessary. This supernatural film came across as realistic at first, and moved towards the CGI graphics and buffoonery towards the end. It seemed as if the movie was going in two different directions from start to finish. I don’t blame the actors or what was attempted onscreen, I would say the flaws started from the writing/pre-production phase. So, cast and  crew of Season of the Witch, you gave it your all, but you let Nicholas Cage down. And for that, the Cage vehicle of dastardly deeds gets a measly 3.3 out of 10.

This haggardly crew must fight the witch in this touching film of evil.


Bunny and the Bull

This movie came to me as a change of pace from jolly ole London. Straight from the director of The Mighty Boosh and Come Fly With Me (two BBC series I love, can’t go wrong with Noel Fielding or Matt Lucas) Paul King, this little movie, Bunny and the Bull is the story of agoraphobia. Stephen (Edward Hogg) travels through his past and towards his front door to face the past that created his fear of leaving his house. Hurt feelings are uncovered and adventures in the weirdest ways are had, and I loved every minute of it.

So let’s see… Stephen goes on a cross-Europe adventure with his friend and gambler Bunny (Simon

Bunny & Stephen on their outrageous adventure.

Farnaby). For all you Boosh fans, Farnaby played pie face and Howard Moon’s twin in The Mighty Boosh. His outlandish acting is required again as Bunny, an unlikeable character needed to drive Stephen from his rut and his home. There are some great parts to this movie. Like, first of all, Stephen’s England flat doubles as a OCD’er’s paradise. Every item used in his home, every routine, is boxed and categorized for later sentimental value. Its quite a sight to see. And what comes in contrast to this to bring Stephen’s life to a screeching halt?

What's going on here, Julian Barratt?

The most amazing animated backgrounds and interactive panels. Stephen and Bunny slip into couches, ride around in crabs, and cross maps in search of what Stephen has been missing. This quirky comedy comes with a dark side that is finally faced at the end of the film. And, although you may not like the way it ends, it brings a conclusion that Stephen, and hopefully the audience can live with. Liberation.

There are some great cameos in this film! Richard Ayoade (former Boosh shaman and now IT Crowd

The Amazing Noel Fielding!

star) plays a Museum Curator in Germany, specializing in cobbling and shoes. There’s Julian Barratt as Atilla, the Russian madman obsessed with dog’s tit milk, and Noel Fielding, as Javier the failed Spanish matador. With all these Boosh actors, what could be wrong with this quirkily dark film? Yes, you end up hating Bunny. Yes, you feel frustrated with Stephen’s insecurities. But it all comes together in the end. This movie deals with standing up for yourself. With taking a chance. With getting up after love and loss, sadness and fear strike you down. Because, as this movie would suggest, it’s always important to bet again on the long-shot.