It’s time for another batch of mini-reviews, this time for both movies and video games.
Animal Kingdom [2010, David Michod]
Australian crime drama about a tight knit criminal family. It limps along for the first half hour or so before finally getting interesting. I liked the second half of the movie, and it had a satisfying ending. But make no mistake, without strong performances from Guy Pearce and Jacki Weaver, this film wouldn’t have been half as good. Still, don’t let the DVD case fool you, this is not an Australian Goodfellas. 6.5/10
Black Dynamite [2009, Scott Sanders]
Hilarious homage to old-school blaxploitation movies. Michael Jai White is badass as Black Dynamite, and it’s good to see him here in the leading role. This movie has excellent attention to detail — the 70’s fashion, poor lighting, gratuitous nudity, random sound effects — everything is in top form. Just a fun movie all around. 8/10
Politically incorrect in every way imaginable, Blazing Saddles is a riot from beginning to end. While some of the jokes occasionally fall flat, there are so many that hit their marks that it’s hard not to like this. I haven’t seen many Mel Brooks movies, unfortunately, but this is a good one. 7/10
Blue Valentine [2010, Derek Cianfrance]
Intense portrait of a young married couple (with a child) who have fallen out of love. Amazing performances from leads Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams carry the film, which is very emotionally draining. I liked it, but I don’t think I would want to see it again. 7.5/10
The Education of Charlie Banks [2007, Fred Durst]
I nearly shut this off after seeing Fred Durst’s name pop up as director (didn’t know it beforehand), but I decided to stick it out. This is a surprisingly decent movie that is aided by solid performances from the young cast of Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Ritter and Eva Amurri. It has some dull moments, and the dialogue occasionally leaves something to be desired, but for the most part this is an enjoyable enough flick. Who would have thought the lead singer of Limp Bizkit actually had something resembling talent?? 6/10
My Year Without Sex [2009, Sarah Watt]
Aussie dramedy that unsuccessfully tries to be both funny and serious at the same time. A thirtysomething mother suffers a near-fatal brain aneurysm, and per doctor’s recommendation she is to not have sex for an extended period of time. Interesting concept, but the movie is painfully slow. There are a few highlights, but they do not happen nearly enough. 5/10
LittleBigPlanet [2008, PS3]
Fun platforming game that reaches levels of greatness due to its massive online community. The ability to create your own levels, upload them to the interwebz and share with others is incredible. There are so many great user-created levels available to play, and an even larger number of homages to other games. I played levels dedicated to Fatal Frame, Dead Space, God of War and Super Mario, just to name a few. I am still working my way through this, but I will definitely be writing more about LBP in the future.
Motorstorm [2006, PS3]
I am not very far into this yet, but I dig the idea of racing against all sorts of vehicles (bikes, trucks, dune buggies, etc.). The tracks I have played are fun, and the mud adds an interesting dynamic to the driving controls. A little dated, but I am enjoying this so far.
NBA 2K11 [2010, Xbox 360]
I still can’t kick my addiction to this game. Easily the best simulation basketball game ever created, and quite possibly the best sports game period. I have been having a blast trying to take my Pistons back to a level of respectability.
Stacking [2011, PS3]
The latest game from Double Fine shouldn’t be fun, but it is. Seriously, I gotta give props to whoever thought making a game with Russian stacking matryoshka dolls would be a good idea. Stacking is far better than it has any right to be. I am still working my way through each level, trying to figure out all of the different ways to solve the game’s puzzles. There is a surprising amount of depth, too, which leads to some good replay value.
The Saboteur [2009, Xbox 360]
I have been playing this non-stop since I picked it up a week ago. In simplest terms, it is a Grand Theft Auto-style game set in 1940’s Nazi-occupied Paris. I love that the game switches effortlessly between black and white (for Nazi controlled areas) and color (for areas with citizens that have fought back). There is a good mix of action, stealth and parkour, and the game has an interesting story to boot. I am liking this quite a bit, and a full review will be coming soon.
Xenogears [1998, PSOne]
I am so happy that this was released on the Playstation Network. I remember renting this a couple times back in the day, enjoying it but never able to get very far into it. One thing that I absolutely love about the current generation of consoles is that they have given us the ability to download old classics. It’s nice to be able to pay just $9.99 for Xenogears since a phsyical copy of the game typically goes for $50+. I am just a few hours into this playthrough, but I have fallen in love with this all over again. The graphics have certainly not held up well, but the gameplay is still great, and I am really digging the story so far. I hope more of these genuine classics continue to make their way to PSN.