The World’s End (2013) Review

Perhaps the best cast of the trilogy!

Perhaps the best cast of the trilogy!

 Get back in your rocket, and fuck off back to Legoland you cunt!

Everyone loves Shaun of the Dead, it was the movie that started The Blood & Ice Cream Trilogy (also known as the Cornetto Trilogy). With zombies being my favourite sub-genre of horror, I loved it to pieces. Then there was Hot Fuzz, a cop movie with lies and deceit around every corner. Hot Fuzz was a great follow-up from Shaun of the Dead, carrying over a similar tone, Edgar Wright’s trademark camera cuts and the humour we come to expect from these guys. Now, 9 years after Shaun of the Dead and 6 years after Hot Fuzz, have Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright delivered a worthy send off to their much beloved series of movies?

The World’s End is a story about 5 friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier, however, little do they know, they have unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival. We’ve had horror/ comedy and action/ comedy, so it’s only fitting we are now treated to their vision of a sci-fi/ comedy. The World’s End feels like a mash-up of Shaun of the Dead and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, I say this because they are always on the run and it’s usually a guessing game as to who is human or not.

Simon Pegg returns like always, this time playing Gary King, a character I struggled to like, much preferring his previous characters in the other 2 movies. I say this because, even though it’s clear Simon Pegg is giving it his all during the movie, his acting is top-notch, I find the character unlikable due to his drinking problem and the way he treats his long-time friends. This is a story of redemption for his character however, and by the end, his life truly does start as he finds his way in life. Nick Frost returns as his best buddy, this time playing Andrew Knightley, a smart (for once!) character that has to learn to forgive Gary for the past and for how Gary’s life has turned out. The friendship of these actors is clearly present on-screen as they fight, cry and redeem each other as the movie progresses. It’s nice to see them together again.

Supporting both Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, we have Rosamund Pike, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine. They all have their own personalities and there’s some fantastic chemistry on-screen between them all. A real standout for me though was, well, everyone. I speak the truth, everyone has some great lines that will have you still giggling after you’ve walked out of the cinema. They all have different relationships with each other and friendship has never been captured this well before, they act like we all do with our friends. There’s also some great cameos too, all of which I’ll let you experience for yourself.

Director Edgar Wright continues to improve his skills as a director with every movie he directs. With The World’s End being his best work yet, from a directing standpoint. The quick cuts have been perfected, casting a shadow over his past work, as the pouring of a beer and water has never been so entertaining. The World’s End is also extremely action heavy, and his work on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and to a lesser extent Hot Fuzz have been put to great use, with fights scenes that flow fluidly, and chase scenes that will get your heart racing.

The writing is actually some of my favourite from The Blood & Ice Cream Trilogy. I think Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright have done a fantastic job with The World’s End. For me it delivers some of the best lines of the entire trilogy and the conversations are some of the funniest I’ve ever listened to. Shaun of the Dead always stood as the funniest to me with most of the humour coming mostly from the actions of the characters and not the script. Hot Fuzz was opposite yet with its more serious tone, it felt a little less funny than it could have been. The World’s End gets it perfect, jokes are thrown out on a constant basis, characters do stupid things and it all just works so well.

Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and daisy’s. The premise of the movie is something I still struggle to accept. It never feels original and to be honest feels a bit lazy. The pub crawl is the real standout, but it ends up fizzling out towards the end as they struggle to survive the towns people and not the alcohol. The Invasion of the Body Snatchers influence is all over the movie too, with the towns people (called Blanks I believe in the movie) shouting and pointing when they’ve spotted a human. It could almost fall into remake territory, but thankfully, enough is different to keep it from feeling like one.

Speaking of these Blanks, the name comes from one of the funnier scenes in the movie as they try to come up with a name for them. However, these Blanks are awfully generic. They have blue blood, and body parts pop off like they would on a plastic toy, they can however provide us with some very entertaining fight scenes with plenty of decapitations and limbs getting torn off. Yet they almost become very interesting when some twins end up getting beaten by Simon Pegg’s character only for one of them to come back with her sister’s legs as arms. This provides an interesting fight scene and something I wish would have happened more throughout the movie. This is the only occurrence though, and it’s a shame, it would have been cool if a large group of Blanks all combined to create something really fucked up. I felt like this could have given them more of a unique characteristic, but it is left unexplored.

The ending also ended up feeling rushed and cheap. We’ve spent most the movie in mystery as to what is really happening, where these Blanks come from and what they want. Yet in what can only be explained as a ‘here you go’ ending, we are told everything by the voice that is behind the Blanks. All our questions are answered in the space of 5 minutes and all the mystery is immediately destroyed. This particular scene does hold some of the greater laughs of the movie however. It does get better though, as after that scene, we get Nick Frost narrating as to what everyone is off doing now after escaping their hometown. It’s great and has some nice closure to it, especially for Simon Pegg’s character of Gary King. I don’t want to spoil it, but let’s just say I would love a sequel to this movie that focuses on Gary King and what he’s doing now, it would be a lot of fun, Mad Max style… in England.

A particular favourite scene of mine is their first encounter with the Blanks. Taking place in a pub bathroom, its full of great laughs and gratuitous violence. There’s five of them and five Blanks, and with such a small place to film a five on five fight scene, its done spectacularly well. From this point onwards the movie fully embraces it’s sci-fi nature which is just getting interesting at this point, and how they handle themselves after the fight is brilliant too.

Even though The World’s End isn’t the best of The Blood & Ice Cream Trilogy, that’s not to say it isn’t worthy of being part of it. It retains the same comedy gold we’ve come to know and love from these movies. It’s also packed full of violence despite the Blanks having blue blood. Whilst I’d still say Shaun of the Dead is my favourite, I’d say Hot Fuzz and The World’s End are evenly matched. If your fan of any kind, make it your mission to go and see this movie and experience it for yourself. It’s full of passion, love and everything in-between, The World’s End is a big thank you to all us fans who have supported Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg with their trilogy.

8 Pints of Beer out of 10

-ast

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A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) Review

Don't read this review if you liked this movie.

Don’t read this review if you liked this movie.

No, I’m not that smart. I’m just on vacation.

Die Hard is another one of those classic 80’s action movies. I’ll be honest, I’ve seen the first one more times than I’d like to admit, the rest of the sequels however, maybe a couple of times each. The first entry into this franchise still the best in my opinion. When Die Hard 4.0 released, I was optimistic at best, however I enjoyed what it provided even if it didn’t quite feel like a Die Hard movie. Then we receive A Good Day to Die Hard, and after watching it for the first time last night, it’s clear it was money that made Bruce Willis sign on to the movie because it’s a failure, from start to finish.

In A Good Day to Die Hard, we follow beloved action hero John McClane, as he travels to Russia to help out his son, Jack, only to discover that he is a CIA operative working to prevent a nuclear-weapons heist. This causes the father and son to team up against underworld forces. I can’t tell you how much I want this to be enjoyable, even if it was just another Die Hard 4.0, but alas, the reviews were right, avoid this movie at all costs.

Bruce Willis returns as John McClane, and this is by far his worst performance as this character. Relying on jokes that seem to be written by a 12-year-old and the overuse of the vacation line, Bruce Willis never sold me that I was watching a movie with John McClane in it. That vacation line too, how many times do we need to know that he’s on vacation? I don’t think we ever went 15 minutes without him saying that he’s on vacation. Jai Courtney plays his son Jack McClane, and brings nothing new to the table. He simply tries to emulate what Bruce Willis was as John McClane through the 80’s, but without the witty one-liners and an unnecessary serious tone.

As for the villains in the movie, they fail to even compare to past villains of the franchise. Each Die Hard movie up to now has had a villain with personality and decent actors portraying them. Here we get the usual, generic Russian, with an eye on nuclear devices. It makes Die Hard 4.0’s villain look like he could have been an Oscar contender. As for the director, John Moore, he’s done some other movies that haven’t exactly been breakthrough for him like Max Payne, The Omen and Behind Enemy Lines, and he won’t start here either unfortunately.

The action in the movie is heavily assisted by the use of CGI, apart from the car chase in the first half of the movie. Hats off for the car chase, it was nicely done with some great crashes and vehicles flying all over the place. Up to this point you could even say I was enjoying the movie a little. It still didn’t feel like a Die Hard movie though. As for the rest of the action, it all felt random and out-of-place. They simply moved from location to location getting ambushed, or doing the ambushing themselves, it quickly became boring and tiresome.

With story twists you’ll see coming from a mile away too, the story is no better than the poor action that it attempts to give reasoning to. Not once do we see the Russian police intervene with any of the chaos created by our two American heroes. The filmmakers even give hints obvious hints right before the twists just to make sure you understand what is about to happen. A Good Day to Die Hard felt like a movie made for a young audience.

At the end of the movie, they even pass by a pool that is boiling due to radiation, they are in Chernobyl after all, only to end up falling in the pool 15 minutes later. I was shocked to not see either of them emerge for the pool with extra arms or legs. It was total stupidity on their part too for not wearing any protective clothing from radiation. Full of stupid, unbelievable moments like this, moments that Die Hard is not really known for, apart from Die Hard 4.0 perhaps, it was an insult to my intelligence.

Whatever happened to the survival scenario that Die Hard made so famous? Other movies copy it, so they move away from what made the franchise so successful? Whatever the reason, I wish I had never watched this movie. It has tainted the Die Hard name, betrayed long-time fans. A clear cash-in, A Good Day to Die Hard is a movie you will want to avoid if you are a fan of the rest of the movies.

3 Vacations out of 10

-ast

Rampage (2009) Review of the Past

Most cover art for this movie is great!

Most cover art for this movie is great!

Why don’t you make me a Double-Espresso… Macchiato… with extra foam?

Any movie fanatic with interest in video games will know the name. The name that has destroyed most fans hearts. The name we dread to be attached to future video game movies. The name is Uwe Boll. Now before you close this page and look away in horror, or perhaps even throw your monitor out the window. I’m here with a review of a movie that was actually not bad. At least for Uwe Boll standards. The only other movie he made that I got any enjoyment out of was Postal, and that was only down to its complete craziness. With Rampage however, Uwe Boll has made a film I didn’t want to like, had no intention of watching, but I did all those things anyway, and I’m glad I did.

Rampage is pretty straight forward on paper, about a man with a thirst for revenge, he builds himself a full body of armour from Kevlar that looks surprisingly awesome and goes on a killing spree. Sounds pretty straight forward, but, there is much more to the movie than that. The writing and editing of the movie help with this a lot. This is more than just a simple killing spree movie, and the trailer totally gives the impression that’s all your going to get whilst watching it, take it from me though, this is a smarter movie than you may expect.

The main focus of Rampage, the heart of the movie is Bill Williamson played fantastically by Brendan Fletcher. He carries the whole movie on his shoulders and does an amazing job of portraying a likable, yet twisted character, that is much smarter than he may show. This guy literally starts to just kill people, innocent people going about their daily lives. For that, I had a hard time thinking why I would even get behind this character as I knew what he was doing was completely awful. The opening 30 minute of the movie however is just like a day in the life of Bill Williamson, and he is having trouble, both at home and at work. Not to mention all the little things that you feel he buries deep within himself like the lack of extra foam in his macchiato and having his drink spilled on him by a carless fast food waitress. All of this and more, despite how little this justifies going on a killing spree, helps with getting behind the character.

As for the rest of the cast, the acting is acceptable at best, no-one feels as fleshed out as Bill and I get the feeling they’re there to simply dress the scene and help with the dialogue. The only exception is Bill’s friend Evan Drince, played by Shaun Sipos. He may not have a huge presence in the movie, but he does pop up from time to time, whether in a phone conversation or seeing him rant about the world in his vlogs. He’s never explored enough to care for his well-being, but he has a great presence on-screen when with Bill, the dialogue flows naturally between them.

When is said this may was an enjoyable Uwe Boll movie, I wasn’t pulling your leg. This may be his best work, that’s still not the best thing in the world but it’s a step in the right direction. With Rampage he has shown he can write and direct an enjoyable movie that doesn’t have to rely on an existing franchise and fanbase to gain an audience. This may have been back it 2009, but for his sake, I hope he keeps along this path and does more original movies with some great, witty writing.

However the camera work in Rampage is all over the place, there’s nothing new here, but Uwe Boll thought it would have been nice to have a shaky cam during the shooting scenes. Whilst I really liked the look of the camera just sitting behind Bill as he walks the streets, causing all kinds of trouble, it’s not always . Whenever he runs or speeds up, the camera work becomes very sloppy and it’s hard to focus on anything. Anyone with motion sickness will want to stay away. The pacing for a 87 minute runtime is okay at best too. With the opening 30 minutes of building relationships and characters, we have several, few seconds long, flash forwards of the chaos that is to come, this no doubt is the keep the audience enticed, a cheap but somewhat effective technique.

As the violence in the Rampage, there’s quite a bit of it as you’d imagine. Most, if not all of the effects are real too, not something added in with a computer later on. Each bullet wound explodes with a crimson red bang and some of the knife wounds pour crazy amounts of blood. There are even some explosions within the movie and they are done fantastically as well. Sending both people and cars flying through the air, they become a welcome break from all the shooting. Then the writing has that wittiness that Uwe Boll can be known for. He usually lays it on thick in his past movies but here it’s very subtle and smarty done. The acting helps delivers the lines in a more natural manner, but the writing deserves just as much praise as the actors do.

I had ideas in my head as to what might happen at the end.  to be honest I had ideas as to what might happen throughout the whole movie. But it kept proving me wrong and doing something unexpected. As the end of the movie grew near, I did manage to put all the pieces to together, and when I thought about it, it was rather smart and unexpected. Of course, due to the nature of the movie, you couldn’t quite call it a happy ending, but one I found myself happy to watch.

Uwe Boll have delivered a good movie. A small sentence I never thought I’d write. Postal was okay, this is good, and if he keeps going, maybe one day he’ll make his masterpiece. Rampage isn’t for everyone, and it has its problems. But when your set your expectations so low, it’s easy to be surprised by the outcome. I expected a movie of glorified violence, but instead got one that talked about issues that we are facing in the world today, with overpopulation, global warming and low energy resources, it’s all there and it can be pretty scary.

7 Perfectly Good Macchiato out of 10

-ast

Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero (2013) Graphic Novel Review

Cancelling the Apocalypse, one flying punch at a time!

Cancelling the Apocalypse, one flying punch at a time!

Travis Beacham, screenwriter of the fantastic Pacific Rim, believes that the story is in the world, and not the other way round. He states this in his lengthy introduction to the graphic novel, which is a fascinating read in itself. This being his first attempt at actually writing a graphic novel, does he do the world of Pacific Rim justice? Is he able to write a compelling story about the early days of the war against the Kaiju? After reading the whole thing, one thing is for sure, Travis Beacham has delivered an engrossing story of loss and triumph.

In Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero, we follow reporter Naomi Sokolov as she interviews several people responsible for the success of the Jaeger program. We’re also treated to seeing a more in-depth look at some of the characters from the movie including Idris Elba’s character, Stacker Pentecost. From his recounts we’re able to see what he lost during the first few years of the war, we also see the early days of the Becket brothers and the impact of adopting Mako Mori, played by Rinko Kikuchi in the movie, as a daughter.

The graphic novel flows from page to page despite this containing 3 separate issues. The first details the first contact with the Kaiju and the effect it had on the people around there at the time. It also sets up some of the tragic events that will help flesh out some characters actions later on. Secondly we have the beginning of the Jaeger program, the tests they ran and the effects the program had the character, with relationships being tested and destroyed along the way. Lastly we come the story of Stacker Pentecost and his days as a Jaeger pilot. Through his story we get to see how the Becket brothers became to work so effectively as a team and what they had to deal with being brothers.

All the stories contained within are highly compelling, making you exited to just turn the page and see what happens next. However, there’s not much action happening as you read. They are very few and far between, it helps as we get to see these characters more and what they end up going through. But more action and longer battles with the Kaiju would have been nice. Perhaps a few extra pages in each issue to focus on this would have excelled my enjoyment of reading it a little more.

As for the artwork, it’s a beautifully drawn and coloured graphic novel. Whilst not being the best I’ve ever seen, emotions are conveyed effectively on the characters and the little action we do get, is just as visceral looking as it was on-screen. It does have a more colourful and brighter presentation than the movie, and to be honest, I’m not quite sure whether or not that’s a good or bad thing. If anything I’d say I’m indifferent about it.

If after seeing Pacific Rim in the cinema, you want more. Then this graphic novel is the perfect item to fill in the void. It’s an enjoyable read and will make you think a little differently about some of the characters in the movie, that totally being a good thing. If you can find it for a comfortable price your happy with, then do not hesitate, pick this up and read it. Whilst not necessary to read before the movie, even though it’s a prequel, I’d actually recommend reading it after the movie just so you know these characters that they’re showing you a little better, it may also make it a little easier to follow as you’ll understand the world more.

8 Awesome Kaiju Designs out of 10

-ast

Pacific Rim (2013) Review

Prepare yourself, no really, DO IT.

Prepare yourself, no really, DO IT.

Today at the edge of our hope, at the end of our time.  We have chosen to believe in each other!  Today we face the monsters that are at our door, today we are cancelling the apocalypse!

Giant Mechs? Check. Giant Monsters? Check. Failure to blink due to the sheer amount of visceral action on-screen? Check. I sit here finding this review to be the hardest to write. Not because I can’t make my mind up over the movie, but because all I want to do right now is watch Pacific Rim again. I want to feel the rush again. If a movie could ever be classed as a drug, this is it, and I want more.

My most anticipated movie of the year, Pacific Rim is finally here. From instantly falling in love after seeing the first trailer, to being tortured with each trailer released since then, I could hardly contain my excitement as I sat awaiting the movie to start. Not only can you count on Guillermo del Toro to create a fantastic movie, but with a cast just as strong, Pacific Rim was always destined for greatness. Many may argue that it delivers nothing but mindless action and a shallow story, clearly made for children. However, if you want to simply be entertained this summer, then nothing will quite match the level of Pacific Rim.

To combat the giant Kaiju that have emerged from a portal in the sea, a special type of weapon, called Jaegers are created. Controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge, this is mankind’s violent and effective answer to the Kaiju. But even then the Jaegers are proving nearly defenceless in the face of the relentless Kaiju assault. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to their last hope against the mounting apocalypse.

Headlining this movie is Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket, a Jaeger pilot with a tragic past. For an actor that I’ve not seen much, I was pleasantly surprised with his performance. He delivers on all fronts, being a sympathetic, tragic, but awesome Jaeger pilot. He doesn’t go overboard into the typical action hero role, making for a lead character I liked. Idris Elba plays Stacker Pentecost, a Jaeger pilot from the early days of the war turned commander. Everything he touches is gold, and it’s no different here. Idris Elba is a fantastic actor and thankfully he gets plenty of screen time, with some of the best dialogue in the whole movie. Charlie Day is another personal favourite of mine and here he’s playing Dr.  Newton Geiszler, a scientist with a big interest in the Kaiju and how they work and think. As expected, his character is very much the comic relief of the movie and Charlie Day does what he does best, delivering a laugh in each he occupies.

As for the rest of the cast, Rinko Kikuchi plays Mako Mori, someone with a tragic past and a vengeful hatred towards the Kaiju. She fits in as a great companion to Charlie Hunnam’s character, with a strong relationship being built throughout the course of the movie. Ron Perlman also makes an appearance as the fantastically named Hannibal Chau. I wanted more of his character in the movie, and it’s a shame we don’t get to learn more about him and his past. One slight misfortune about Pacific Rim is the lack character development for the rest of the Jaeger pilots. They’re so interesting but we get little to no information on them, this was definitely needed as the Jaegers started to fall, lessening the impact of their loss.

Guillermo del Toro has some great work behind him, perhaps my favourite being Pan’s Labyrinth. But his work with the Hellboy licence was fantastic and his attempt at a Blade movie with Blade II wasn’t too bad either. Pacific Rim easily exceeds all his past work however. It truly is evident this is was his passion project. Just from watching the movie, you can see that he loved making every single part of it. If the ideas where there, I believe he’d happy making many more Pacific Rim movies in the future.

As far a the story goes, it delivers enough to care for some of the characters, giving reason to their actions and emotions. What it delivers the most, is a great back story, as this movie takes place many years after the first appearance of the Kaiju. The opening to the movie, narrated by lead actor Charlie Hunnam, tells us what has happened in the past, both detailing humanities victories and losses through the first few years of the war against the Kaiju. This is something that is explained and detailed in the graphic novel, Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero (Review Here), it fleshed out the events in the movie much more, I recommend picking it up. As for pacing, despite a 30 minute crawl through the mud after the explosive opening, the rest of the movie is full of eye-popping action and brief, but effective character interaction.

You could argue it’s not hard to mess up a movie were you have giant Mechs fighting giant Monsters. But this is Guillermo del Toro’s vision of that, and that, as you may know due to his expertise on great monster design in past movies, goes a long way. Not only are the fight scenes between the Jaegers and Kaiju completing amazing to watch, but they’re extremely impactful, with the sound design and quality of CGI sealing the impression of realism as punches crush bones and metal. The diversity of the Kaiju help too, with fights in water with marine based Kaiju, to fights above cities with flying Kaiju. Same can be said for the Jaegers too, as some specialise in hand-to-hand and others having access to many different weapons, both melee and projectile.

Unfortunately, I felt the highlight of the movie for me, and possibly best fight scene, was at the about halfway through the movie. I say unfortunately because I expected something big at the end, a giant fight with impossible odds and crazy Kaiju. Instead we get some generic Kaiju and a first look at a Category 5 Kaiju. I expected Godzilla himself to pop up from the portal as the first ever Category 5 Kaiju, all we got however was a larger Kaiju we never get a good look at due to the location of the last scene. As for the amazing fight scene mentioned, lets just leave it a boat sword, you’ll know the scene from the trailer, but the fight is simply incredible. As for the 3D in the movie, it may have been converted in post-production, but it was pleasant to watch and they did a great job at implementing it, with debris flying straight at you at a constant basis during battles.

Guillermo del Toro has delivered a movie full of passion, created for that little version of you deep inside. Hopefully talked about for many years to come, this movie has the making of quickly becoming a cult classic amongst movie goers. Up until this point, Man of Steel was the best movie I had seen this year so far. After experiencing Pacific Rim however, the title for ‘Best Film of 2013’ has a new contender. Obviously, I will have to watch both Man of Steel and Pacific Rim a few more times when they’re released on Blu-ray at the end of the year to make a fair decision. Do yourself a favour and go and experience a movie that will no doubt be best experienced in the cinema.

9 Boats used as Swords out of 10

-ast

Hotline Miami (2013) Review

Get ready... To die.

Get ready… To die.

Version Played: PS3

I’ve said before that I wasn’t around for the 80’s, but it must have been good as we now have yet another game influence by the time period. Not just that, but Hotline Miami is also heavily influenced by 2011, cult classic, Drive. A movie so entertaining and violent, it’s hard not to enjoy it. But do all these influences make Hotline Miami a good game? No, they make Hotline Miami a fantastic game, one you should have downloading right now. Released on PC at the end of 2012, only now do we see a port of the game on PS3/ PS Vita, with cross-buy no less!

The story of Hotline Miami is a big surprise for me, being extremely twisted and fun to play through. You’ll play as an unnamed character that fans have come to name ‘Jacket’, due to the distinctive jacket he wears. You’ll start off at Jacket’s apartment, and will listen to your phone messages that give you instructions to go somewhere and kill some people. These messages are always discreet, asking you to pick up your dry cleaning at a certain address, when really they’re asking you to go and kill someone there. They are a great read, and can lead to some laughs along the way.

Once at your destination, your then tasked with picking a mask to wear to hide your identity. These masks, all of different animals, give you a perk of sorts, some let you survive a few extra shots, others let you start with a weapon. There’s even a mask that is exclusive to the PS3/ PS Vita versions of the game, a mask that turns the game black and white but leaves in the bright red of the blood, giving a very ‘Sin City’ feel to the game. From here, you have to enter the area and kill everyone inside, one that’s done, you’ll go to somewhere like a V/H/S rental shop or a pizza place and get something for free off your friend there. Then the process repeats itself, with the story moving along with it.

Straight to the point, I respect that.

Straight to the point, I respect that.

All that killing would actually become quite tiresome if it wasn’t for the amazing soundtrack too. Being upbeat, electric and 100% 80’s style, it can get you bobbing your head and tapping you feet in no time. The music makes the game pretty hypnotic too, killing to the beats of the music as it loops in the background. Whilst I’d still say that Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon had the better soundtrack of the year so far, I still recommend you pick up the soundtrack as soon as you can.

Then there’s the top-down, 8-bit inspired graphics. From the face close-ups, to the violence taking place on-screen as you murder your way through the level, they are a joy to look at. My worry with this style of graphics is losing some to the detail and not being able to make something out that is relevant. Thankfully, the visuals here are extremely polished and bring back memories of playing the first couple GTA games on the PS1. For that, I couldn’t thank them enough, and the graphics help sell that 80’s feel more so than todays HD textures and detail.

Colour everywhere!

Colour everywhere!

As for gameplay, it’s essentially a twin-stick shooter. I’ve played many of these in the past on various consoles, and most of them have controlled wonderfully. However due to the precise nature needed and the high difficulty in Hotline Miami, I had my doubts. Those doubts were put to rest pretty quickly, it may take a few chapters to really nail the feel for the game as it’s so fast paced, but once you have, the game became a joy to control and with the inclusion of a lock-on button for more precise aiming, you’ll be slaughtering your way through the levels in no time. Despite that though, I feel a keyboard and mouse would still be the most ideal way to control the game.

At just £6.49, it’s impossible to state just how much game you’re getting for your money. I’ve been playing it for so long, completing the game several times and collecting all the secrets, masks and weapons, let’s just say spending £20 still would have felt just as fair. There may not be any extra modes apart from the story chapters, but there are a few extra chapters that are just for fun and a scoring system gives extra incentive to replay and get those A+. The scoring system goes off the combos you’ve managed to pick up during the level as well as time bonuses and how direct you were. This scoring system is what helps unlock some masks and extra weapons that will be available in the chapters.

SPLAT!

SPLAT!

I could talk for hours on the topic of Hotline Miami, a game costing just £6.49 giving me just as much enjoyment as a £40 game. The indie scene is a major player in the games industry moving forward, and if they keep developing games as crazy and unique as this, then I can’t wait to see what pops up in the near future. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is the sequel to this amazing game, and whether or not it will come directly to the PS3/ PS Vita alongside the PC release is yet to be announced. Due for release at the end of 2013, I cannot wait to get my hands on it. So treat yourself, whether on PC, PS3 or PS Vita, pick up Hotline Miami, support the indie and put that mask on, it’s going to be a long night.

96 Animal Masks out of 100

-ast

NECA – Predator – Jungle Disguise Dutch Figure Review

If it bleeds, we can kill it.

If it bleeds, we can kill it.

NECA bring yet another Dutch figure to their Predator line. With 2 Dutch figures in the previous Series 8, Series 9 brings us 2 more, and this is a review of possibly the best of the bunch. Based off his appearance towards the end of Predator, this figure of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch character features him in his infamous mud camouflage with the makeshift hunting weapons he makes to help him in his battle with the Predator. The head sculpt here is just a perfect as previous sculpts. We are treated to a new body sculpt however, this features leaves and the cracked mud of the surface of his skin, it looks amazing and when combined with the muddy paint application, it’s definitely of its way for figure of the year.

This must be some of the most accessories we’ve received with a NECA figure I can think of. Contained within the packaging is 2 spears, one with a knife and one with an explosive attached to the ends. Both are fantastically detailed and the choice is yours as to which you have him holding. We also receive his bow and some arrows that can be stored on the bow itself, and whilst underused in the movie itself, it is a real highlight as it can both be held or put around his body so he has it visible on his back. The main attraction is the torch he comes with, it’s very detailed with a transparent flame that gives it a great look when displayed.

NECA's 2013 masterpiece?

NECA’s 2013 masterpiece?

As with the most recent NECA figures, this figure has over 25 points of articulation, giving plenty of display options. NECA are always moving forward in this department and it shows, not only do we have lots articulation, but it’s all hidden rather well. Exposed joints can always make the item look cheap and unpleasant on the eyes. Thankfully NECA isn’t afraid and are confident in their ability to hide them effectively.

I touched upon the paint earlier, but I think NECA deserves more attention in this department with this figure. Jungle Disguise Dutch is mostly grey with brown highlights. Yet even with the limited paint and colour on the figure, it’s truly an eye-catching piece. From the illuminating white of his eyes, to the bright orange of the torch, everything works. It’s hard to talk about sloppy paint work with a figure that is meant to look rough and dirty, so from what I can see, everything is in order and there was not a problem I could find on it. They even went out their way to put a small sliver of blood running from the corner of his mouth.

AAAaHHHHHHHHHHHH...

AAAHHHHHHHHHHHH…

With the way the Dutch figures have been selling, there will be more, there’s already been a confirmation of a 1/4 scale Dutch in the works from NECA. Avid NECA fans would have noticed talk on Twitter to Carl Weathers himself about a Dillon figure too. The future is looking good for Predator fans like myself, NECA have a licence that offers the re-usability of parts like nothing else before it, giving us fans more to collect. We already have Kenner homages and AVP figures announced, what else could we see from NECA in the future of this line? One thing’s for sure though, I’ll be there waiting for those surprise announcements.

Verdict: Must Buy

-ast