The 5 Best Film-Based Video Games

Happy Friday The 13th everyone! Now like all of you I’ll be celebrating this most holy of days by killing horny teenagers near a lake somewhere (lake, puddle, it’s all the same). But other people celebrate it differently. Since the days of Jesus fighting a Pterodactyl in the Roman Colosseum, some people have watched some of the Friday The 13th films on this day. So it makes logical sense that I should take advantage, celebrate this by blogging about it. But I’ve never seen any of the films so instead I’m going to talk about video game adaptations of films, because there was once a video game adaptation of the film, and do I need another reason?

5. Goldeneye

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Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. This is the first game everybody talks about when they talk of truly great video games. There’s not a word missing there, that should be “video games based on films”, that’s how good this game is. At the time I’d never watched a James Bond film, and even now I’ve seen one I still think he’s a prick, he’s a sociopathic monster who probably has so many STD’s that he should pretty much change his name to Mydia, Chlamydia. But despite that, I still love this game. It has not aged well however, but that’s mainly because of the lot of the things we found innovative in the game are now standard. Before this game it was normal for weapons and ammo etc just to be laying around, this made ammo collecting logical: you could only pick up what had been dropped by people you killed. Yes, there were a few bits of ammo laying around, but your main source of it was the people you killed. Then there’s the multiplayer. There are two types of people who played video games in the 90’s. Those who spent hours shooting their friends in the head in multiplayer and obeying the “no oddjobs” rule, and liars! Dirty stinking liars!

4. Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy

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This game comes from a different time, whereas modern games help the player, sometimes with tutorials, sometimes with guidance during the game, and sometimes with just skipping parts of it if you find it too difficult. Gaming is now focused on enjoyment, making the player have fun (with a few notable exceptions). It wasn’t always the case, however. Some video games used to make you wonder what you had done to piss off the creators. The biggest genre for this were text adventure games. Games which by their nature were quite annoying: you could spend hours trying to talk to a character before you work out the exact phrasing needed (for example: “Talk to person” wouldn’t be accepted, but “converse with person” would). This game is fiendishly difficult, but also very funny. It will make you laugh, scream in anguish, and then hate yourself, a bit like having sex with a clown. I’m not exaggerating by the way, the game is available here if you don’t believe me.

3. Aladdin

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Oh, should have mentioned, I am not doing these in any particular order, otherwise there’s no way this would be higher than Goldeneye. But it is very very good. A 2D side scrolling platformer that stands out on a console which it seemed like almost every other game was a platform game. I don’t think people can appreciate how hard it must have been for a platform game to stand out in the early 90’s. You were competing against Mario and Sonic at their peaks. The Mario games had some of the best level design in video game history, easing you into an unforgiving game with innovative gameplay that filled you with wonder, whilst Sonic went “vroom” and moved quickly. So for a game to stand out it must be truly great, and this is. I would talk about why, but I already did it here so anything I’d say would just be repeating myself. So because anything I say would be repeating myself, and I don’t like repeating myself I won’t say anything more, because I don’t like repeating myself.

2. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

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Because rarely has a video game of a film been so faithful in tone to the film. Anybody who has played video game versions of films and television shows know that the games can play fast and loose with the themes of the film. For example: there’s a Doctor Who game where you play as the famous pacifist, and go around shooting and killing everyone. In Scarface, crime totally pays, and the Fight Club game has Fred Durst. This game doesn’t suffer from that. It’s a throwback game based on a film which loves 80’s video games. It’s not just the film it uses for inspiration, the graphic novel has a scene where two characters get beaten at the same time and an achievement pops up, if you recreate this in the game, the same achievement pops up. It’s little touches like that which are missing from a lot of games.

 

1. Alien Isolation.

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This game is terrifying, it makes the Alien scary again, which it should be. It should be a fearful beast, it shouldn’t be something you can handle with a few shots from a pistol. This game makes you fear it, and that’s wonderful. You know how highly regarded this game is? It put faith back into the franchise after Colonial Marines, a game so bad someone attempted to sue the makers, and won. Whereas that game had you running around shooting aliens by the hundreds (and just made them into another enemy), this game only has the one alien, and you can’t kill it, all you can do is hide and survive. This is the survival horror game the latest generation has been waiting for. I am in no way saying that the genre is not good anymore, just that it’s mainly indie developers doing it now, you don’t have many major releases anymore (I mean, P.T got cancelled for f*cks sake), most of the franchises people used to turn to for the genre have now changed into more action games, so it’s good to see a game where you’re completely helpless, a game where (contrary to video game logic) exploration and discovery will probably kill you.

 

So yeah, that’s it. Hope you enjoyed it, and Fuck You Konami

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American Beauty: the secret stoner classic

For a film that won five Oscars (and five big ones too) American Beauty has become surprisingly underrated over the last few years. Now seen (and hated) as an outdated product of the nineties, people look at the dark-comedy classic the same as Forest Gump, or Crash: over done and over sold (I disagree of course).….and though I can’t argue that it is definitely of it’s time, I’ve never seen being able to tell when a film was made as a negative.

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But whether American Beauty is still a great film is not what I’m here to talk about, I’m here to talk about why along with the likes of Friday and Dazed and Confused, American Beauty is a classic stoner film, only made better by the smoking of our little green friend.

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And I don’t just say that because it has pot in it, because it is smoked on screen, but because of how it’s used in the film and relates to its themes and story. It represents freedom (of course): almost every character in the film is seen smoking at some point and it’s always at moments of great discovery or triumph, when they manage, in big or small ways, to break out of the prisons they live in. It’s a liberating force.

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Lester smokes a joint, then that night stands up to his wife for the first time in years. Jane smokes, and she begins to see beyond Ricky’s demeanor leading to their romance. Carolyn fucks the real estate king then has a big’ol spliff. They finally do something about their problems. And doesn’t that bag monologue (which I legitimately find poignant (though the amazing score helps) make a whole load more sense when you realize Ricky is blazed off his ass? Sometimes you need to see things at an angle to really see them…

It’s a very progressive message for a 90s film of its kind, to paint the plant not just as the childish pastime of kids and wastoids, but as a welcome tool to survive the conformity of the suburban day to day, and escape it.

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But it’s not just its use in the movie that makes it a great stoner film; it’s a surprising blast to watch too! Being the closest thing to a comedy to win Best Picture, you really feel the humor in the film when high. In the dark satirical wit a lot of the characters speak in, but especially Spacey’s incredibly deadpan and schmucky delivery which always brings the chuckles, except when he gets dark and you see the layers of Frank Underwood already take root.

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But it’s not just the humor you get into. As fun as it is to smoke and just zoink out on life, using it to open yourself up, to be fully engaged by something is even more satisfying, and the drama and darkness that bubbles beneath American Beauty like boiling tar is made even more potent and relatable.

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From every drippingly dry line, to every sentimental word and look, your pulled into the tragedy of it all, all the lies and broken dreams that have constructed themselves into an idea of a good life. You see so much closer… through the mystic green haze.

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People seem to hate American Beauty as by today’s sensibilities it’s just another film about white guys having white guy problems, like we need any more of those. And it is; that is what American Beauty is about, the secret horrors of the suburban middle class, and it’s one of the best ones at it.

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It’s the film that perfected what so many of the countless other middle aged white men problem films, like Fight Club and The Ice Storm, were trying to say and do. And just because it kind of set the trend of those films off doesn’t mean it should be hated for it; people don’t hate Harry Potter for starting this whole YA novel craze (well not yet they don’t).

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Fan of American Beauty? You should also check out…(stoner quality will vary)

People forget the context the film was made in: it feels and deals with dated issues because that’s what was timely seventeen years ago (though I think it still holds some relevance today), these where the issues and problems in the back of everyone’s mind, and this film brought them to the surface, like a more friendly Blue Velvet.  Is is a subtle film? Not always. But is America always subtle?

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almost every scene has…

Give it another ten years and I bet everyone will have come round again, and like Rebel Without a Cause, Apocalypse Now, and many before it, it will be looked upon as a staple of that era of American history, and a large block in the up-hill fight for weed legalisation.

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“Spectacular”

So next time you feel like time traveling to an era where adults acted like kids, kids like adults, and no one knew what they wanted anymore; light up a blunt and be ready to laugh, cry, and be moved at the funny little tragedy that is American Beauty.

Why I love Zodiac

This isn’t a review; it is a spiel about our love of films and what not. So expect spoilers, biased opinions and general rants.

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Easily the best poster, and of course its the one you can’t get.

I’m not sure where my love of mysteries started, probably from a childhood (and teenhood, and adulthood) of watching Scooby Doo, nothing major, but a place to start. Now, from LA Confidential, to Memories of Murder, it’s hard to think of a mystery film I haven’t seen, (but please don’t try, I hate having to face my lies) but Zodiac is one of, if not, the best.

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Right out the gate I’ve gotta say, it’s my favorite Fincher film, followed closely by The Social Network and Gone Girl (yes you read that right, neither Se7en nor Fight Club do I consider his best). And Zodiac is a near three hour, investigative murder mystery journalism film, where they never catch the killer. And damn it’s riveting. It’s that last bit, about the Zodiac never being caught, being one reason to why I love and find this film so re-watchable (I watch it almost Bi-monthly). As unlike almost every other serial killer flick, when you know who did it, you can never not know, no matter how enjoyable of a film it is, the first watch is usually the best. That’s part of what makes Zodiac special, though it hazards a guess at who the Zodiac was, and follows it through with compelling, even satisfying evidence, you never know 100%, so with every watch your still looking, thinking, trying to see if there was anything you missed that could lead you to the Zodiac.

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I really don’t have any deep problems with any of Fincher’s films, I just thought this made a good image….Expect maybe Se7en!

It also features one of my favorite scenes in cinema, it happens in the last fifteen minutes of the film (I love it when the best part of the film is near the end, it’s something to look forward to during it), and it doesn’t feature a gun fight, it doesn’t move me to tears, it’s not shot in partially amazing fashion; it’s just two guys (Gyllenhaal’s cartoonist and Ruffalo’s detective respectively), sitting in a café, as Gyllenhaal lays out the entire case, the entire film in front of us. Every complex facet of evidence, every casual event, all the major characters, it’s all led to this, and it’s explained in a perfectly written scene, with an enthrallingly intense turn from Gyllenhaal, till it climaxes with this films closes thing to a big reveal. And god it’s satisfying.

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Never has the choice over salt or pepper been so intense.

This scene also sums up why it’s my favorite serial killer film, and the tagline summaries it perfectly too. “There’s more than one way to lose your life to a killer”. It’s a film about obsession, and how it can eat you alive. Unlike films where you’re worried about the characters  dying, there’s rarely a moment where you think someone’s going to be killed (outside the victims obviously),  but as it unfolds and the characters (mainly Gyllenhaal) fall deeper and deeper and deeper, even when its all said and done, you can’t help but wonder. Can they live again?

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Now I know it’s not cool to care about Academy Awards, and I get it, overall they’re pretty cheap with whom and what they consider worthy (no love for Jake Gyllenhaal unless he’s macking on a cowboy it seems). But at the same time, they do tend to choose pretty good films, and Zodiac easily should have been a major awards contender in 2008, for directing, writing, acting (Robert Downy Jr especially), cinematography (the usual Fincher staples), and the reason it wasn’t I completely put on the studio. They released it at the wrong time, and advertised it the wrong way. Selling it as a fun, messed-up, thrills per-minute serial killer film (Se7en cough, cough) and releasing it in spring; instead of in Oscar season (October-December) and as the investigative drama it is (All The President’s Men meets Citizen X), what the makers always intended it to be. But though I blame them for this, I can see why they did it. Coming off the big hit of the very enjoyable thriller Panic Room, and Fincher’s last serial killer film being a massive hit, I see why the studio treated it like they did. They wanted another Se7en, even though Fincher gave them something much more.

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It’s films like Zodiac that made me pretty happy when I heard Fincher’s series with HBO had fallen through, because despite how much I like House of Cards, and have heard that Utopia is a great show, I didn’t want Fincher’s spending all his time on a TV series when he could be making more films like this, or Gone Girl, or The Social Network. TV’s amazing right now (check out last weeks post on Breaking Bad, wink, wink), with a lot of hugely talented people creating epic feats of fiction, so we need to make sure Film stays great, and Fincher’s pretty good at that.
(Yes I’m aware he’s still producing the TV Show Shakedown and Video Synchronicity (both which sound really good), but who the hell knows at this point, and at least he’s not directing the entire series.)