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Wolfenstein: The New Order (Video Game)

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Wolfenstein: The New Order (Video Game)Rated M for Mature

Available for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC

Developed by MachineGames

Distributed by Bethesda


The blade jabs into the back of the knee effortlessly; the searing pain I can only begin to imagine seems of little consequence as the knife is soon yanked out and jammed into the throat. “Nazi scum!” jaws my new hero, B.J. Blazkowicz, through clenched teeth as the blood flies. I linger a minute to watch the lifeless corpse of my former captor, a steady stream of crimson still flowing from the neck long after his life force escapes him. In the world of Wolfenstein: The New Order, violence is golden.

40,894 Shots fired and 884 dead Nazis later, I stand broken and triumphant. The Herculean quest to stop Nazi surgeon Deathshead and his Nazi super machines has left myself and my hero, Blazkowicz, lying shattered. I came out of this game a winner, but I can’t help but feel that my life will be shorter because of the ordeal.

This is the world of Wolfenstein: The New Order. The single-player, first-person shooter makes you earn every step you take. But what is so magical about it is it rests perfectly on the fun side of the border between challenging and frustrating. While the game is going to challenge you, it is never impossible.

A singular example of this is the game’s final level. A great deal of games falter at this point by providing too large of a difficulty spike which seems out of line with difficulty progression of the rest of the game.

However, Wolfenstein transitions into its final stage very naturally. Its difficulty progressed seamlessly into the challenging final level. While the battles are difficult, it balances them by providing extra health and armour. The countless super soldiers you face, while difficult, are an abundant source of armour and more powerful weapons, but only after they are defeated.

While this game hits hard and hits often, it paces it out immaculately. The challenge and rapidity of the battle levels are offset with levels in your safe house. They provide an opportunity to catch your breath with short exploration missions.

Wolfenstein: The New Order counterbalances its gritty gameplay with a very moving cinematic experience. The reward of viewing another of the game’s many cut scenes kept me going through Wolfenstein’s many hellacious battles. The graphics featured in the cut scenes are detailed and beautiful, drawing me into the experience with a camera in constant motion.

With its Nazi super machine content and breathtaking style Wolfenstein: The New Order very much so plays like an exploitation movie directed by Martin Scorsese.

These scenes are accentuated with B.J Blazkowicz’s reflective, yet hard-nosed monologues that seem direct from the pen of Frank Miller. They add depth to Blazkowicz, a hardened war god showing the marks his past have left upon his living self.

The game draws you in with the beauty of its cut scenes, but at the other end of the emotional spectrum, it repulses by providing such a bloody and deliciously violent experience. Pipes jutting through necks and knives meeting Nazi heads are a common occurrence. But just when you think you’ve seen it all, someone’s face gets ripped off, gore dripping furiously in full close-up. This is the single most violent and bloody gaming experience since the Soldier of Fortune franchise.

But what prevents the violence from being gratuitous is the fact that it is centered on history’s biggest scum of the earth: the Nazis. Every thing you do to these soldiers seems justified as they are history’s greatest monster. By giving the player the most heinous enemy in history, the game harkens back to another time when the U.S. Army was a force for good. B.J. Blazkowicz may be a killer, but he’s a heroic killer as he laments his modus operandi: “shootin’, stabbin’, and stranglin’ Nazis.”

While this game does have a lot of nice little touches, in the end they are just that, nice little touches. This is a first-person shooter, and where it will live and die is its combat. Wolfenstein: The New Order places a heavy accent on a strategic approach to battle. To survive the world of this brutal shooter, you need to think before you act. Picking the right way to enter a room, using cover, and retreating are all required if you are going to last any considerable amount of time in this bloody hell on Earth. This is extended into its boss battles, every one of them has a strategy. There is definitely a right way and a wrong way to play this game.

What the game adds to the fun factor of combat is the dual wielding ability, allowing you to wield two bullet-spewing murder machines at once. Killing Nazis is fun so mathematically doing it with two assault rifles at once is twice the fun. Having this great, but very unrealistic ability adds to the super human factor behind Blazkowicz and fits in dutifully with the comic book level violence found throughout.

The only major low point is the game ends in three boss battles; it’s a little much. Due to the overall length of the game (15 chapters), I was in no mood to face a boss battle followed by a two stage boss battle. It’s guilty of misdirection, as just after you defeat Deathshead, you are asked to do it again under tougher conditions. Ending the game on a bait and switch was the only flat note on this sonata.

What is so fantastic about this taste of a bit of the old ultra violence is it is a true single-player experience. There is no data wasted on multiplayer and they put every inch of that extra space into providing a very lengthy and fulfilling single-player game. Finally, a shooter for us, for those who hate the constant run and gun style of multiplayer shooters and want to slow down and soak up every speck of the gleeful brutality. 2014, we have our first Game of the Year candidate.

4 1/2 out of 5

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Desolation Review – The Joy of Being Rescued and All the Surprises That Come With It

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Starring Raymond J. Barry, Brock Kelly, Dominik Garcia-Lorido

Directed by David Moscow


It’s those random, once-in-a-lifetime encounters that only a select few get the chance to experience: when we as regular participants in this wonderful thing known as The Rat Race, stumble across a soul that we’ve only witnessed on the big screen. I’m talking about a celebrity encounter, and while some of the masses will chalk the experience up as nothing more than a passing moment, others hold it to a much larger interior scale…then you REALLY get to know the person, and that’s when things get interesting.

Director David Moscow’s thriller, Desolation follows shy hotel employee Katie (Lorido) and her “fortuitous” brush with Hollywood pretty-boy Jay (Kelly) during one of his stops – the two hit it off, and together they begin a sort of whirlwind-romance that takes her away from her job and drops her in the heart of Los Angeles at the apartment building he resides in. You can clearly see that she has been a woman who’s suffered some emotional trauma in her past, and this golden boy just happens to gallop in on his steed and sweep her off of her feet, essentially rescuing her from a life of mundane activity. She gets the full-blown treatment: a revamped wardrobe, plenty of lovin’, and generally the life she’s wanted for some time.

Things return to a bit of normalcy when Jay has to return to work, leaving Katie to spread out at his place, but something clearly isn’t kosher with this joint. With its odd inhabitants (a very creepy priest played by Raymond J. Barry), even more bizarre occurrences, and when one scared young woman cannot even rely on the protection from the local police, it all adds up to a series of red flags that would have even the strongest of psyches crying for their mothers. What Moscow does with this movie is give it just enough swerves so that it keeps your skull churning, but doesn’t overdo its potential to conclusively surprise you, and that’s what makes the film an entertaining watch.

While Lorido more than holds her ground with her portrayal of a woman who has been hurt in the past, and is attempting to place her faith in a new relationship, it’s Barry that comes out on top here. His performance as Father Bill is the kind of stuff that wouldn’t exactly chill you to the bone, but he’s definitely not a man of the cloth that you’d want to be stuck behind closed doors with – generally unsettling. As I mentioned earlier, the plot twists are well-placed, and keep things fresh just when you think you’ve got your junior private investigator badge all shined up. Desolation is well-worth a look, and really has kicked off 2018 in a promising fashion – let’s see what the other 11 months will feed us beasts.

  • Film
3.0

Summary

Got your eye on that shining movie star or starlet? Better make sure it’s what you really want in life – you know what they say about curiosity.

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Wolf Guy Blu-ray Review – Sonny Chiba As A Werewolf Cop In ’70s Japan

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Wolf Guy UK SleeveStarring Sonny Chiba, Etsuko Nami, Kyosuke Machida

Directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi

Distributed by Arrow Video


As virtually every American adaptation has proven, translating manga to the big screen is a job best left to Japanese filmmakers. There is an inherent weirdness – for lack of a better term – to their cultural media that should be kept “in house” if there is to be any hope for success. Ironically, the stories are often so fantastical and wildly creative that a big American studio budget would be necessary to fully realize such a live-action vision. But I digress. Back in 1975, Toei Studios (home of Gamera) adapted the 1970 manga series Wolf Guy into a feature of the same name. Starring the legendary Shin’ichi Chiba (a.k.a. Sonny Chiba), who at that time was in his prime, the film combines elements of crime and psychedelic cinema, delivering less of a werewolf film (despite the title suggesting otherwise) and more of a boilerplate crime caper with a cop who has a few tricks up his hairy sleeve. I should stress it is the story that plays fairly straightforward, while the film itself is a wild kaleidoscope of strange characters and confounding situations… mostly.

An unseen killer, known only as “The Tiger”, prowls the streets at night slashing victims to death and leaving behind no trace. Beat cop Akira Inugami (Sonny Chiba) is on the case, and he has an advantage over his fellow brothers in blue: being a werewolf. As the opening credits flashback shows, Akira is the sole survivor of the Inugami clan of werewolves after a slaughter wiped out the rest of his kind. Now, as the last of his brethren, he uses his acute lycanthropic skills, under the auspices of the moon, to track down underworld thugs and solve cases uniquely tailored to his abilities. As the lunar cycle of the moon sees it growing fuller Akira’s powers, too, increase to superhuman levels.

Searching for this mysterious “Tiger”, Akira is led into a subterranean world of clandestine government organizations, nightclub antics, and corrupt politicians. One night, Akira is attacked and taken prisoner by a government research lab that wants to use his blood to create werewolves they can control. Only problem is – which they don’t realize – Akira’s blood cannot be mixed with that of a human; the only end result is death. Miki (Etsuko Nami), a drug user with syphilis, comes to Akira’s aid and proves to be quite useful. She holds a secret that has the potential to vastly change Akira’s world but, first, a showdown with the criminal underbelly looms on the horizon… as does the fifteenth day of the Lunar Cycle, when Akira will be made nearly invincible.

First, some bad news: Sonny Chiba never attains full werewolf status. This is not that movie. Sure, he growls and snarls and sneers and possesses many of the traits of a werewolf but in terms of physical characteristics he more or less remains “human” the entire time. Yes, even during “Lunar Cycle Day 15”, a.k.a. the moment every viewer is waiting for, to see him turn into a wolf. Instead, he just winds up kicking a lot of ass and taking very little damage. To be fair, a grizzled Sonny Chiba is still enough of a formidable presence, but, man, to see him decked out as a full-on kung-fu fighting werewolf would’ve been badass. The film could have done better at tempering expectations because it builds up “Day 15” like viewers are going to see an explosion of fur and flesh, instead it’s just plenty of the latter. Aw, well.

Lack of werewolf-ing aside, the film plays out a bit uneven. The opening offers up a strong start, with The Tiger attack, wily underworld characters being introduced, and a tripped-out acid garage rock soundtrack (which I’d kill for a copy of). But Second Act Lag is a real thing here and many of the elements that may have piqued viewer curiosity in the first act are scuttled, and although the third act and climax bring forth fresh action and a solution to the mystery it also feels a bit restrained. Then again, this is Toei, often seen as a cheaper Toho. Wolf Guy serves as a good introduction to Akira Inugami and his way of life, which makes it a greater shame no sequels were produced.

Presented with a 2.35:1 1080p image, Wolf Guy hits Blu-ray with a master supplied by Toei, meaning Arrow did no restorative work of their own on the picture – and it shows. Japanese film elements, especially those of older films, are often notorious for being poorly housed and feebly restored. This transfer is emblematic of those issues, with hazy black levels, average-to-poor definition, minimal shadow detail, and film grain that gets awfully noisy at times. The best compliment I can give is daylight close-up scenes exhibit a pleasing level of fine detail, though nothing too eye-popping. This is a decidedly mediocre transfer across the board.

The score fares a bit better, not because the Japanese LPCM 1.0 mono mix is a beast but because the soundtrack is so wildly kinetic, exploding with wild garage rock and fuzzy riffs right from the get-go. Dialogue has a slight hiss on the letter “s” but is otherwise nicely balanced within the mix. Subtitles are available in English.

“Kazuhiko Yamaguchi: Movies with Guts” is a September 2016 sit-down with the film’s director, who reflects on his career and working with an icon like Sonny Chiba.

“Toru Yoshida: B-Movie Master” is an interview with Yoshida, a former producer at Toei who oversaw this film and many others.

“Sonny Chiba: A Life in Action, Vol. 1” covers the man’s career up to a point, with the remainder finished on Arrow’s other 2017 Chiba release, Doberman Cop.

A theatrical trailer is also included, as is a DVD copy of the feature.

Special Features:

  • Kazuhiko Yamaguchi: Movies with Guts
  • Toru Yoshida: B-Movie Master
  • Sonny Chiba: A Life in Action, Vol. 1
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Wolf Guy
  • Special Features
2.8

Summary

While the film might be a bit of a letdown given what is suggested, fans of bizarre Japanese ’70s cinema – and certainly fans of Chiba’s work – should, at the least, have fun with this title.

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Inside (Remake) Review – Is It as Brutal as the Original?

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Starring Rachel Nichols Laura Harring

Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas


While the directing duo of the cringe-inducing and original 2007 French grand guignol thriller Inside have gone on to refurbishments of their own—Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo recently helmed a retread of Leatherface’s origin story—their flick now has an American stamp on it with the release of the remake, also titled Inside.

A cheerless Christmas eve sets the stage for heavily-pregnant widow Sarah’s (Rachel Nichols) oncoming ordeal. It’s a frigid and snowy night. She’s got a huge house to herself, following the accidental and violent death of her husband. She wants to sell the home that was meant to hold a family, to forget the nascent memories it once held. But she’s got to ride it out until the baby is born. While Sarah is lonesome, she won’t be alone. She’s got her genial gay neighbor nearby, and her mum is going to come and stay with her for a few days. Oh, and there will be an unexpected visitor too.

When a shadowy, seemingly stranded stranger (Laura Harring) knocks on the door pleading to be let inside, Sarah instinctively balks. She even calls the cops. But the woman leaves and all seems well. Crisis averted. Sarah puts the housekeys in the mailbox outside for Mom, and goes to bed. Big mistake.

Mystery Lady shows up at Sarah’s bedside armed with chloroform, an IV bag, and a case full of sharp-and-pointies (sorry, ’07 fans… those implements do not include a pair of scissors). The horror unfolds and the expected yet lively game of gory cat-and-mouse ensues. Then the tete-a-tete becomes a body-count chiller featuring one shocking moment after another.

Nichols is fantastic in the role, giving it her all. When the original Inside came out eleven years ago, she was starring in another French-helmed horror, P2—also set on Christmas eve—and she stole the show. She does the same here but with a less-intense adversary. Harring’s killer character, unlike her European counterpart, has a lot to say—which takes away from her initially mysterious manner as the minutes tick off. Still, the girl-on-girl action is a welcome change from the usual gender dynamic one sees in these things. Both deserve kudos for their performances.

While Inside isn’t a died-in-the-wool “Hollywood” remake (Miguel Ángel Vivas directs, while [REC] co-creator Jaume Balagueró wrote it) it feels like one. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end). However, Inside is still a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it.

  • Inside (Remake)
3.0

Summary

Inside is a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end).

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