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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

Discuss Wolfenstein: The New Order in the comments section below!

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The Shape of Water Review: A Quirky Mix of Whimsy and Horror That Does Not Disappoint



Starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stulbarg, Doug Jones

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

“True Blood,” Beauty and the Beast, and Twilight aside, the notion of romantic love between humans and otherworldly creatures has been a popular theme throughout storytelling history. The ancient Greeks told tales of Leda and the swan, while stories of mermaids luring sailors to their lusty demise were met with wonder worldwide, stemming from Assyria c. 1000 BC. To this day, there’s Creature From the Black Lagoon fanfic that’s quite racy… for whatever reason, some people are fascinated by this fantasy taboo.

The new period film from co-writer/director Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water, dives right into the erotic motif with the tale of how Elisa (Sally Hawkins) and Amphibian Man (Doug Jones) fell in love. (While I personally could have done without the bestiality angle, I do applaud del Toro for having the balls to show what’s usually implied.) Having said that, The Shape of Water is about more than just interspecies passion.

The Shape of Water is a voluptuous, sumptuous, grand, and melodramatic Gothic fable at times (there’s even a lavish 1940s style dance routine!), but mostly it’s an exciting and gripping adventure, pitting the good guys against one very bad buy – played with mustache-twirling (minus the mustache), bug-eyed glee by Michael Shannon. Shannon is Strickland, a sinister and spiteful Cold War government operative who is put in charge of a mysterious monster captured in the Amazon and shipped to his Baltimore facility for study. When using cruel and abusive methods to crack the creature’s secrets doesn’t work, Strickland decides to cut him open to see what’s ticking inside.

Elisa, a lowly cleaning lady at the facility, has meanwhile grown fond of “the Asset,” as he’s called. She’s been spending time with him on the sly, not even telling her two best friends about her budding tenderness for the mute and isolated alien. She relates to him because not only is she lonesome, she’s unable to speak (an abusive childhood is alluded to – which includes water torture). Using sign language, she first tells out-of-work commercial illustrator Giles (Richard Jenkins), then her co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer), about the need to rescue her waterlogged Romeo from Strickland’s scalpel. Needless to say, it won’t be easy sneaking a classified government experiment out of the high security building.

The Shape of Water is vintage del Toro in terms of visuals and accoutrement. The set-pieces are stunning to say the least. Elisa and Giles live in cozy, cluttered, age-patinaed apartments above a timeworn Art Deco moving-pictures palace; Strickland’s teal Cadillac is a collection of curves and chrome; and the creature’s tank is a steampunk nightmare of iron, glass, and sturdy padlocks. DP Dan Laustsen (Crimson Peak) does justice to each and every detail. Costumes (Luis Sequeira) and Creature (Legacy Effects) are appropriately stunning. The velvety score by Alexandre Desplat (“Trollhunters”) is both subdued and stirring.

While the film is a fantasy-fueled feast for the senses, it’s really the actors who keep you caring about the players in such an unrealistic, too-pat story. Jones, entombed in iridescent latex and with GC eyes, still manages to emote and evoke sympathy as the misfit monster. Jenkins is endearingly morose as a closeted gay man surrounded by his beloved cats and bolstered by the belief his hand-painted artwork is still relevant in an ever-more technical world. Spencer is the comic relief as a sassy lady who’s hobbled by her station in life but leaps into action when the chips are down.

Del Toro cowrote the screenplay with Vanessa Taylor, whose credits in the television world are numerous – but she’s probably best-known for her work on “Game of Thrones” – which adds an interesting and feminine perspective. The story definitely feels more comic-book than anything, which is okay I guess, but I prefer del Toro’s deeper delves into history and character (The Devil’s Backbone is still my fave). But, for those who love del Toro’s quirky mix of whimsy and horror, you will not be disappointed.

The Shape of Water is a dreamlike, pulpy adult fairytale that dances on the surface of reality while remaining true to the auteur’s vision.

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Secretions Short Film Review – Anyone For Some Blood and Guts a la Carte?



Starring Zia Electric, David Macrae, Chris Savva

Directed by Goran Spoljaric

Only a select few know the true horrors of one’s basement (hell, I’ve got one that floods regularly) – but in director Goran Spoljaric’s extremely “juicy” short film, Secretions – we see just what lives in a grimy cellar…and what it craves in order to sustain. Anyone have any sanitizer? We’re gonna need it for this one.

Alone and held captive in a dirty-subterranean room, a woman is literally fighting for her life, and due to her being chained at the ankle, it’s painfully obvious that she’s here for the long haul. On the first floor of this residence, a deal is being made, and it’s one that will either help or harm a hopeless addict.

It involves a little handy-work down in the basement, and although it might seem like a light job considering the circumstances…nothing is as easy as it initially looks – anyone for some blood and guts a la carte? The imprisoned woman contains something inside of her that is particularly satiating to the habituated, but it comes at a painful price, which begs the question: what would you risk to scratch an itch?

Spoljaric’s direction here focuses on the victim – and while you’ll probably be wondering exactly who that is during this quickie’s 11-minute duration, it doesn’t detract from its powerful display. Gritty, grimy and ultimately gruesome – these Secretions are the ones that simply cannot be washed off – maybe I’ll give a little turpentine a shot, as something’s got to get these damned stains out – YUCK.

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Mindhunter Review: The Best Netflix Original Series to Date



Starring Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv, Hannah Gross, Sonny Valicenti, and Cameron Britton.

Directed by David Fincher, Andrew Douglas, Asif Kapadia, and Tobias Lindholm.

A few weeks back Netflix premiered all ten episodes of David Fincher’s new serial killer series “Mindhunter” on their streaming service. Being that Fincher is one of our favorite directors we added the series to our queues as soon as possible. And this past week – after recapping and reviewing all 9 episodes of “Stranger Things 2” – we were finally able to sit down and enjoy the (much) more adult thriller series.

What did we think? Find out below…

First off we should get a few things like plot and background out of the way. “Mindhunter” is based on the best-selling non-fiction novel of the same name by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. The book was optioned by none other than David Fincher and Charlize Theron and quickly thereafter snatched up by Netflix. The series is executive produced and (mostly) written by Joe Penhall.

The plot follows a young FBI agent played by Jonathan Groff who, after an incident in the field, is set to be a teacher at Quantico. Kinda boring. Especially for a guy under thirty. Quickly, however, the young agent joins forces with a seasoned pro, played by Holt McCallany (Fight Club) in a star-making performance, and together the two tour the country educating local police on the proper protocols established by the FBI.

That is, until the day that our young agent gets it in his head that he wants to interview Ed Kemper. Yes, That Ed Kemper. From there the series becomes the story of the FBI and its very beginnings of psychological profiling. The series even goes so far as to lay out the tale of how the term “serial killer” was first coined.

In the hands of any other filmmaker, this semi-procedural thriller would have, most likely, not been our cup of tea. But in the hands of master director David Fincher, “Mindhunter” is quite possibly the most riveting police procedural to ever hit the small screen. Hyperbole, we know. But come on, have you seen Fincher’s Zodiac?

Yeah, now picture that motion picture spread out over the course of ten glorious hours and you’ll have somewhat of an idea of how much fun(?) it was to spend the better part of our free time last week in the grips of such as series.

First off special mentioned needs to be thrown at the killer cast of “Mindhunter.” Each actor is phenomenal. From our hero agents played by Groff, Holt McCallany, and Anna Torv, the series only gets better with powerhouse after powerhouse performance hitting us from the likes of Jack Erdie as Richard Speck, Adam Zastrow as a lonely (possible) rapist, and Joseph Cross and Jesse C. Boyd as a pair of (possible) ladykillers.

Oh, and Cameron Britton as Ed Kemper. Oh, boy. Cameron Britton as Ed Kemper.

I could spend this entry review telling you guys about how chilling, disturbing and utterly riveting Cameron Britton’s performance as Ed Kemper (aka The Co-Ed Killer) is, but you really need to see it for yourself to get the full picture. The series has more than it’s fair share of spine-chilling moments, to be sure. But none are so chilling as any and ever given scene which features Britton as Kemper. Give this man all the awards. Today.

Given the tight performances by the entire cast – including solid turns by the lowest day player – “Mindhunter” would be a crowning achievement for Netflix. But add in some of the top directors working today (including, in addition to Fincher, Andrew Douglas, Asif Kapadia, and Tobias Lindholm) and beautiful 2:35 cinematography by Erik Messerschmidt and Christopher Probst, and you have a series so jaw-droppingly cinematic, you’ll be amazed this never played in theaters. And was never meant to.

Overall I cannot think of one negative thing to say about this new Netflix original series.

Well, maybe one thing: Hannah Gross as Debbie Mitford is a dull character. This is not a jab at Gross as an actress. But her mostly one-note, under-developed character is forced to spend the majority of her screentime merely portraying “the girlfriend.” Which in a series like this means she merely functions, for a majority of her screentime, a receptacle of exposition once our hero returns home after a long day.

But other than that one aspect, this Netflix original series is top quality from end to end. From the spooky pre-credits insights into the growing storm that is Dennis Rader aka the BTK killer to the season’s finale sequence set in Kemper’s ICU room, “Mindhunter” is a chilling – and frankly scary series that you won’t be able to shake for months.

And most, if not all of the scares, come courtesy of long dialogue scenes – which are anything other than boring.

In the end, Mindhunters is a series that we cannot wait to see continue forward come season two. Fincher has reportedly stated that Charles Manson will play a pivotal role in the second season, and we are actively counting down the days until we can visit that character… From the comfort of our Netflix account.

“Mindhunter” is a must-see. Get ahead of the game. Watch the series tonight.

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