TL;DR – A buggy experience that even when you power through it, you find a mostly surface-level game failing to delve into the world they had created
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Warning – Contains scenes that have been reported to induce seizures
Cyberpunk 2077 Review –
To be honest, I was wondering if I was actually going to write this review. The discourse around this game has been unpleasant, to say the least, and what difference would be one more voice howling into the void make. I mean, I even found myself cleaning the house to put this off. But in the end, I paid full price for this game, a game that was clearly not ready for release, and also this is my profession, so I kind of owe myself and the working hours I put into this game to contextualise that into words.
So to set the scene, in a boardroom, on the streets of Night City, or in my case on the northern outskirts of the city, we meet V (Gavin Drea/ Cherami Leigh) as his car is being put together. He is a nomad but without a clan or family anymore and is just trying to get ahead. One uppity sheriff later and he is on the way to meet his contact Jackie Welles (Jason Hightower). All V has to do is smuggle this little crate into the city, and he will have enough money to set himself up. There is just one border crossing between him and freedom … what could go wrong. When he thinks he has survived that skirmish, he is offered a chance to put together the heist of a lifetime involving the mysterious Johnny Silverhand (Keanu Reeves). From this point forward we will be looking at the game as a whole, so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.
TL;DR – A fascinating game full of interesting places, solid mechanics, and many bugs
Warning – Contains scenes that have been reported to induce seizures
Cyberpunk 2077First Look –
It took longer to get to us than anyone including the developer planned, but today the world finally got their hands on CD PROJEKT RED latest work Cyberpunk 2077. I must admit I came into this game with a little hesitation, a lot of people had recommended to me The Witcher 3, and well I bounced off that game as if it was Henry Cavil’s torso. But given this was a new franchise and new genre for the company, it was the perfect place to get it a second try.
Now before we dive in, we need to make a couple of clarifications. The first of which is that this is a ‘first look’ not a full review. I have spent a couple of hours with the game and enough time to get a sense of the world and the mechanics but not a deep dive into the story which will come in our full review. Also, I am playing this game on PC, so your experience may vary depending on your console or the rig you are playing this on.
So to set the scene, on the outskirts of Night City, we meet V (Gavin Drea) as his car is being put together. He is a nomad but without a clan or family anymore and is just trying to get ahead. One uppity sheriff later and he is on the way to meet his contact Jackie Welles (Jason Hightower). All V has to do is smuggle this little crate into the city, and he will have enough money to set himself up. There is just one border crossing between him and freedom … what could go wrong.
TL;DR – Charming, awkward, delightful, weird, and a hell of a good time.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – Stay for the mid-credit song
Well, Netflix is currently creating a niche for itself with the romantic comedy
genre and today we get to look at another entry into this lineup. However,
while some might feel that this is the service limiting itself, I don’t, especially
when we get gems like this. Today we look at a film that completely knows what
it wants to be, and how best to use their main leads to achieve that as we dive
into the world of garage bands and upmarket transcendent Asian restaurants.
So to set the scene, we open in on Sasha (Miya Cech) who lives with her parents
in San Francisco but often spends time alone because her parents work for long
hours at their shop. However, Sasha is not really alone because her best friend
Marcus (Emerson Min) lives next door and his parents Harry (James Saito) and
Judy (Susan Park) teach Sasha about cooking and the joy of using scissors for
everything (seriously scissors are an amazing tool in the kitchen). For years
they were best friends until one fateful day when Sasha (Ali Wong) and Marcus (Randall
Park) became a bit more than friends and then it all fell apart. Fifteen years
later, they are both in completely different places in their lives and in different
relationships when their old friend and Sasha’s business partner, Veronica (Michelle
Buteau) puts them on a collision course with each other.
TL;DR – It takes everything that worked in the last two films and took it up to 11
Score – 5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
One of the first reviews we ever wrote back in the day was for the first John Wick
film and since then we have really had a love affair in this world of under the
table dealings, societies in this world but out of this world, visual
storytelling, and neon rock operas. This is a world that is told in
part by creative directing, interesting stories, and also the sheer determined
strength of character that is Keanu Reeves and everyone in the whole cast and
crew that make the character of John Wick shine. Today we get to look at the
third film in the series that has John at his lowest and discovering there are
more places to fall.
So to set the scene, at the end of John
Wick Chapter 2, John found himself in a very precarious
position. Someone had Marker on John (Keanu Reeves) forcing him to do his
bidding (killing his sister) and then turned on John putting a contract out on
his life for the before mentioned killing of his sister. After fighting his way
through New York he arrived back at The Continental Hotel and though warned by
the Manager Winston (Ian McShane) John killed the man on hotel grounds one of
the few unbreakable rules in their universe. Winston gives John one hour of
life before he is excommunicated from the organisation and this is where we
open. John is running through the streets of New York as the skies bucket down
because the Gods are at war. He is trying to get to the New York Public Library
but as one of the Bowery King’s (Laurence Fishburne) henchmen calls out tick
tock, tick tock John.
TL;DR – Today we countdown my Top 10 films of all time; from towns where there are a lot of ‘accidents’, to all forms of Sci-Fi, to do you know the man with six fingers on his right hand, and everything in between.
Recently I watched the CineFix crew countdown their Top 10 films, and it had me thinking what are mine? Now it was at this point where I of course naturally spiralled as how can you reduce thousands of films that you have seen into only a Top 10. Just before I threw my hands up in resignation and chucked in the towel I happened to catch an episode of Movies with Mikey on how he determined the best sequel. With this in mind I wondered if there was a set of criteria that I could use to categorise the films into a list that I would be happy with, and after some work, I came up with the following criteria that work for me.
Films that are beautifully constructed
Films that mean something to me
Films that are always re-watchable
Films that have added to my love of the craft of cinema
With this criterion in mind I went through all the likely candidates and with a bit of a struggle I think I have been able to come to a final list, well at least until I change my mind next week, which is always a chance.
TL;DR – John Wick was the gold standard for action films and John Wick Chapter 2 continues this with brutal action, and a deeper insight into this fascinating world.
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
Now it should come as no surprise that I love the first John Wick film, from the action, to the world building, to the sheer commitment of Keanu Reeves put into preparing for the role. Indeed I wrote a whole article on how it sets the gold standard for Worldbuilding and Visual Storytelling. The issue is that when you love the first film it is always a bit difficult to look at a sequel with an objective lens, on the one hand, you may be blinded by rose tinted glasses, or you may judge it harshly because nothing can live up to the expectations the first film made. With this in mind, I approached John Wick 2 cautiously but I am still happy to say while it did not quite live up to the first film it is still an amazing film in its own right. Its action is still as good as the first, we delve deeper into this world they are creating, and we get to see what happens when a movie is perfectly cast.
TL;DR – John Wick is a masterpiece of balancing storytelling and worldbuilding without resorting to multiple exposition dumps or clunky dialogue exchanges.
When you are making or adapting some form of narrative medium, whether it is a book, video game, TV show, online video series, or a movie, two of the most important narrative facets are storytelling and worldbuilding, however, they can often find themselves in conflict with each other. I think we have all played that video game that is crammed full of lore, around every corner is another audio log sitting there for you to digest and thus the story gets lost in at that worldbuilding. Conversely, people fall in love with the worlds you can create, as much as people love Harry Potter, they are also enraptured with the whole Wizarding World, #HufflepuffForLife, so if you focus just on your story and don’t build the world around you, you’re going to have a shallow narrative and a missed opportunity. So how do you rectify this issue, well you could do what Snowpiercer and others have done in the past and gone with an opening newscast, or narration, or like the grandmaster of it all Star Wars, and have it all in your opening crawl. Or you could go with the Game of Thrones route and hide your exposition in sex scenes hoping that nudity will keep people engaged, and indeed you may even coin a phrase with ‘sexposition’ in the process. Or you could follow John Wick’s lead by crafting a strong narrative while also building a fascinating world. Now as we will be dissecting John Wick for this analysis, and since we will be focusing on the story, there is no way we could do that and not have any spoilers, so if you have not seen it yet, firstly go watch John Wick, but also you may not want to proceed any further, or do, I’m not your boss.
TL;DR – A really good action flick and an example of world building done right.
Score – 5 out of 5 stars
John Wick has been out on DVD/Digital Download for some time and with a sequel now on the cards, I thought I would have a look back at one of the better action films in recent times.
The basic plot of John Wick is that the titular character John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a man who was once in deep in the Russian mob, and through an impossible act he freed himself and settled down with his new love, only for her to pass away. The last thing his wife did was buy John a puppy so he could move on from his grief. The son of the Russian Mob boss Iosef (Alfie Allen) mistakes him for an easy mark, this is an error, a grave error.