Birdman: Everything’s great. Except for the film. Which is fine.

Birdman_courtesy_Fox_Searchlight

The film is technically brilliant. Things are happening on screen that are worthy of genuine pause where you ask “How did they do that?”, which is something that doesn’t come to mind very often in this age of the CGI spectacular. Now we are so swamped with impossible images it is easy just to dismiss visual spectacle as ‘computers wot dunit’. Whilst this is incredibly ignorant of the hard work a special effects teams put in (something that the film industry as a whole seems guilty of too) it is sometimes difficult to get immersed in the wonder of what is being seen and instead much easier to accept it at face value.

Director of Photography, Emmanuel Lubezki, continues to amaze off the back of long take behemoth Gravity. Although the image never seems to cut, we still see transition in time over a few days, and impossible journeys from the bowels of the St James Theatre through the skies above Times Square and extended New York.

The cast is given a rare opportunity to show off their chops in takes that defy the expectations of what a film crew can maintain. In a way this seems to be the reason why Director Alejandro González Iñárritu chose to shoot in extended takes. We are supposed to see the process of acting happen in real time, both within the characters and the actors playing the characters. It’s all very meta, especially with the casting of Michael Keaton who has protested against claims that his has been actor is a reflection of himself, even though both the character and he are most famous for roles as superheros in films that were released in the same era (in a passing comment by an interviewer in the film it is revealed that the last Birdman film was released in 1992, the same year as Keaton’s last outing as Batman in Batman Returns).

It’s a bit of a disappointment that the overall effect isn’t particularly revealing. The meta is only there for meta’s sake. And Actor’s can be eccentric or even difficult/needy? As an observation it’s hardly ground breaking. And if that’s the message of the film I think Cronenburg takes the prize home for smashing, burning, strangling and poisoning the point home in this year’s Maps to the Stars (2014).

The psychological element of the film is more fitting to an out and out genre film rather than the genre defying drama the film actually is. Keaton’s character is either hallucinating or genuinely has some superhero powers that he shares with the fictional Birdman. When he is alone, Riggan has powers of telekinesis and flight. If this was part of a genre film this could be interesting, but within the context of this comedy drama, whether or not he actually has these powers is almost irrelevant, and more of an excuse to show off what can be done within a long take.

It is an incredibly impressive film, and all of the separate elements are exceptional, but as a combined whole they don’t stand on each other’s shoulders. Cynically speaking it stands a strong chance (and deservedly so) in many categories in the upcoming awards season, but certainly not best film. Not exactly a harsh criticism to say this isn’t the best film of 2014/15 is it? But certainly reflective of a kind of disappointment in this reviewer.

Paddington Bear

Paddington-Movie-Wallpaper

It feels like it has been on the cusp of release for about 2 years! This could be due to the release of a poster about two years ago by an overzealous marketing department. But if this was done to give Director Paul King a bit of breathing space to realise how he was going to put this 60 year old franchise on the big screen, well, fair enough.

King has done an excellent job adapting the franchise in live-action. The sugar rush surrealism of King’s other works – Bunny and the Bull and The Mighty Boosh – has been tamed to serve the childlike wonder of a talking Bear looking for a new home in London.

Unlike a lot of CGI adaptations of an illustrated character, it takes a little while to visually identify Paddington as the actual Paddington from the books. Especially towards the beginning when he hasn’t yet got his signature coat. I never really thought about him being an actual bear with fur and teeth. But after he’s plonked in London, his real-like fur works to fit him in the ‘real’ world: a ‘realistic’ London that is recognizable, if a little well to do.

Ben Wishaw works perfectly as the voice of Paddington, and suggests that Colin Firth was right to step down from the role like the gentleman he is. The rest of the cast represents a smattering of British standards, and a jolly good job they do too. Sally Hawkins is the mum who still has a spark of wonder that her husband (Hugh Bonneville) must remember with the aid of bumbling Paddington. Eslewhere there are roles for Julie Walters as a Mrs Bird the housekeeper, Jim Broadbent as Mr Gruber, and Nicole Kidman doing another baddie turn as Millicent the taxidermist.

Teetering on the edge of twee, King masterfully executes a kindly and sweet adaptation of the old bear. Some bits are maybe a little too much for a younger audience, especially Kidman’s taxidermist intentions, but perhaps my only serious criticism is that for a film that so strongly promotes immigration and multiculturalism… well, there isn’t much in the way of non-white, non-middle-class figures in the main cast.

Nonetheless it is a very heart-warming experience with an important message that isn’t told too heavy-handedly, and disarmingly irony free. Jolly good.

Fury

fury1

Dependable, durable, reliable and weighing about 30 tonnes. A suitable fit for a Brad Pitt vehicle.

The film attempts a tonal balance between ‘War is Hell’, and ‘War is hella cool’, but ultimately ends up falling in the mud. Great fun when our jocular heroes (Pitt, Beouf, Michael Peña, Logan Lerman, and Jon Bernthal) are shooting up “Fuckin’ Nazis”, but less fun when the film points out that war is actually not so friggin’ awesome actually.

Much like Pitt’s other executively produced genre film, World War Z (2013), there isn’t much new brought to the table other than a longer running time, padded out with earnestness.

One thing that is gained through the more po-faced leanings of the film is an excellent characterisation of men gone war ugly. Good performances all round of war film  green eared recruit, fierce commander, God-fearing glasses wearing moustache man, ugly bruiser, and Mexican.

A great spread of male character standards, but this film is no place for women, and, to my memory, features one of the quickest turnarounds from the point of a hero meeting a female character, to falling deeply in love with her, to her being swiftly buffeted into the fridge.

The action sequences are excellent when they do come – Boy’s Own Adventure via Rambo via Saving Private Ryan via Inglorious Basterds. The Tank is expertly realised: a shelter from the storm and a claustrophobic nightmare at the same time. Great sound design too, with grinding gears and rolling of caterpillar tracks with lots of different ways to hear things whistling past your head.

This film would have benefitted from deciding which side of the fence it should be on, because both the serious and fun elements are well realised, but don’t sit well side by side. Otherwise a good solid war film with plenty of good action.

*SCHINK* “Wha-?” *THUD*

One of my most favorite things that can happen in a film is when a character is all, like, minding their own business when something goes *SLIKT* across the screen, and the character looks all startled going “hey what was-” and then they fall into bits.

I don’t think I explained myself very well just there. Hey! Here are some examples!

Shogun Assassin (1980)

Taking it back to 1980, and rocking one of the best soundtracks ever made, Shogun Assassin was a heavily edited compilation of the Lone Wolf and Cub series for western audiences. Amongst this veritable smorgasbord of martial arts and explicit violence, there is one particular scene where Lone Wolf (Tomisaburô Wakayama) makes time amongst his villain-dispatchment to make sure he definitely cut this guy in the head, because he thinks he did, and the guys hat fell apart, but the guys still just standing there… like he’s fine… did he definitely… I thought he did… oh, there it is.

Underworld (2003)

Proving that a rrrrubbish film can be saved by an act of well timed violence, Underworld left me with one memory, and that was the top half of Billy Nighy’s head sliding diagonally off his jaw.  In this scene, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) seems to to gain the upper hand in what appears to be an impossible situation. I can’t remember exactly what that situation is exactly because I scrubbed the film from my mind with steel wool and bleach. She flies at ol’ Bill (*SCHPLIK*) and lands several feet away from him to turn and witness the damage. But hold on; ol’ Bill’s fine. He’s more than fine, he’s really pissy! (didn’t she stab him in the head?) Oh my days he’s getting out some knives! He’s going to fight her with knives! (maybe I was wrong, but I definitely thought she stabbed him in the head?) Oh wait… he doesn’t seem too sure of himself all of a sudden. Oh, there it is.

 Final Destination 2 (2003)

Sometimes they don’t fall into 2 bits. SOMETIMES THEY FALL INTO 3 BITS!!!

Oh wait – 4 bits.

Resident Evil  (2002)

Sometimes they don’t fall into some bits. Sometimes they fall into MANY BITS!!!!!! Here’s Resident Evil proving once again that sometimes the value of a film can be condensed into the time it takes for a ‘something’ to happen to the time it takes for ‘something’ to cause a person to flopple apart in different directions.

The Cube (1997)

Pulling this stunt pre-title eh? Did Orson Welles reveal what Rosebud was before the titles in Citizen Kane? I feel that this is basically the same thing.

 Dragonball Z (1989-1996)

Courtesy of my girlfriend, this is particularly notable for the point of view shot. And it sure is a long time coming. In this scene Trunks (brother of Bra and also male heir of the Briefs dynasty) slices Frieza (son of King Cold) in 2. Please do wiki confirm that last sentence.

 Ghost Ship (2002)

And then there’s this.

Grand.

The Miserable, Miserable George Romero Zombie Film

 

Sad Bub

**For the purposes of this blog I am only focusing on the first three films Of Romero’s Living Dead franchise. Also SPOILERS**

“You’ve got to see this film! A guy’s head gets pulled off!” This was the kind of recommendation from my older brother that lead to me watching all sorts of excellent schlocky films in the pre-DVD era, when video servings of the grotesque were like precious treasures hidden in rental shops and car boot sales. Oh the great opportunities to indulge in the muck and mire of a teenage imagination: Evil Dead  1+2 (1980, 1987), Brain Dead (1992), and the entire John carpenter oeuvre amongst others. However, There was one series of films amongst this morbid bunch that didn’t allow for the unmitigated glee that should come with violent obscenities.

George A. Romero’s Living Dead franchise (not to be mistaken for The Return of the Living Dead Franchise of course – guffaw) left me with that Sunday feeling:  emotionally exhausted; in serious doubt over the ability of humanity to achieve any good in this world; and knowledge that the only thing on TV evening is Time Team with an over enthusiastic Tony Robinson. Romero provided ample levels of violence, certainly on par, if not more so than his peers. (check out Private Torez’s demise in Day of the Dead (1985)! His head gets pulled off!! Right off!!!). But the violence in Romero’s franchise sits atop a foundation of social commentary which reflects some very, very low opinions of the walking living.

Zombie films have been around for about as long as the talkie picture. White Zombie (1932) is an early contender for the first entry in the genre, which was primarily a star vehicle for Bela Lugosi as a witch doctor using Haitian Voodoo to control an army of shuffling minions. The Zombie film’s emphasis on a leading villain with a power over the walking dead wasn’t shaken off until decades later with the introduction of George A. Romero’s Living Dead Franchise. Romero dismissed the diabolical antagonist figure as a means of projecting horror onto cinema screens. Instead, he replaced it with an apocalyptic setting where zombies were serving no-one but their own appetites for human flesh. In doing so the charge of malicious intent was cut out of the picture. Why the zombies were attacking became irrelevant. Romero looked for horror elsewhere: by shrinking down American society and putting it under attack in confined under siege spaces he and removed the thin layers of civility that held the social contract together to uncover the ghoulishness of the living.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) reflects heavily on the race relations of late ’60s America. A cross-section of American society converges on a country house to seek refuge from the zombie onslaught: urban and rural, blue and white-collar, black and white. The only black character in the film (Ben, played by Duane Jones) has all the makings of a leader but his authority is consistently undermined by a white-collar Harry, who insists on staying locked in the basement with his family and refuses to aid the struggle going on upstairs. Harry puts this microcosm of American society under threat through his unwillingness to engage with a very clear and present danger, and instead puts his efforts toward ensuring that a Black minority doesn’t hold any sway over him or his family. The power struggle between Ben and Harry ultimately leads to the downfall of all of the protagonists when Harry finally gets hold of the rifle that has been in Ben’s possession throughout the film with disastrous consequences.

Throughout the film we see emergency TV broadcasts following the home guard clearing out the zombie threat. These men are presented as trigger happy hillbillies, who are taking too much satisfaction in the gun-play that the occasion warrants. When they make an appearance at the film’s conclusion they gleefully gun down the remaining zombies and shoot Ben, the remaining survivor, in the head as he peers out of the slats of a barricaded window. In startlingly reminiscent images of a lynching, the credits roll over grainy freeze frames of the home guard dragging the body of Ben with meat hooks onto a pyre of zombies. Romero has commentated that the film was built on the foundations of the social climate arising from events surrounding the civil rights movement, and has observed himself that the first he heard about the murder of Martin Luther King was over the radio as he packed the last cans of film into his car to find an investor.

With Dawn of the Dead (1978) Romero placed mass-consumerism in his sights. The film is set in a shopping mall, which was a a fairly new curiosity when the film was made. Initially identifying the Mall as an ideal point of defence, the characters begin to lock themselves into a materialistic nightmare of their own design, displaying a greed that is only matched by the gormless hunger of the zombie hordes. As the characters increasingly lose sight of their survival in the face of unadulterated consumerism, the soundtrack reflects the absurdity of the situation by juxtaposing footage of the marauding zombies with a jaunty muzak number titled The Gonk. The Director’s Cut accentuates the pointlessness of human greed by stretching out montages of the survivors searching for the perfect wardrobe, kitchen wares, guns, and DIY tools to the point of empty tedium. Their lives increasingly appear shallower throughout the film, and less worthy of saving.

Dawn… supposedly offers a happy ending: two survivors rid themselves of the mall and board a helicopter to seek pastures new. But where are they going?! This always troubled me, and left Romero slightly unsure himself. He filmed an alternative ending where one of the survivors shoots himself as the mall is overrun by zombies, and the last remaining survivor jumps up into the rotors of a helicopter (Watermelon SFX appaz). THEN, as the credits rolled the helicopter would putter out to show that they wouldn’t have had enough fuel to escape anyway.

The third installment of the franchise, Day of the Dead (1985), is a big old commentary on the militarisation of society. The film is set within a military silo staffed by a small group of soldiers and scientists, where the soldiers are most definitely the bad guys, bullying the scientists with threats of violence if they don’t find a cure quick. However, it isn’t just the scientists who are subjugated by the army. By this point in the franchise zombies are representative of a global underclass who outnumber humans four million to one, and are treated horrifically by the small minority of humans that remain.

The scientists perform grueling acts of vivisection on the zombies in an attempt to find a cure, a task which seems especially cruel in the face of its hopelessness. The cruelty aimed at the zombies is accentuated by the character of Bub (Howard Sherman), a zombie who shows signs of remembering being a human. His ability to recognise faces, appreciate music, and even attempt speech suggests at a humanity that will be gained by the zombie race whilst it is depletes amongst the dwindling race of human survivors. In the face of this the cruelty inflicted upon the zombies the inevitable zombie showdown resemble more of an uprising than an unwarranted act of violence, with the zombies identifying that they have a greater case for survival than the last remains of humanity.

Romero’s biting (you know, like a zombie? What a zombie does?) social commentaries are one of the few things that the current zombie revival has not taken up – at least not with the same zeal that it has adopted the tongue-in-cheek absurdity of slapstick violence inherent in the zombie genre. Whilst Romero’s trilogy certainly comes with a healthy smattering of violence, what makes it so distinctive are the subtexts which hide within the splatter, providing the films’ true horror. How dare he. I just wanted was to see a guy’s head get pulled off.

 

Sad Dawn

 

 

Boob to Willy Ratio

“Everywhere I look, something reminds me of her” Naked Gun (1987)

When I watched the first episode of Game of Thrones, years ago, I couldn’t believe that I had just seen a penis on my telly.  In a sex scene of all places!  I pointed at the screen.  At the penis.  On my telly.  Extraordinary.  It got me thinking about male nudity in tv and film.  I ran my eyes through my film collection and realised that I didn’t own a single title with a visible penis in it, and all the more pertinently I knew this for a fact because I would most certainly remember if I did.  But, with the lightening quick speed of cold treacle, my brain also made the association with female nudity.  Yes there is more female nudity than male nudity in tv and film. Duh. But the imbalance is staggering.  My film collection is full to the brim with boobs.  Subtle boob, gratuitous boob, gritty boob, realism boob, exploitation boob, partial boob, demon boob, multiple lots of boob, lady with triple boob; these are just some examples from a small book case of DVDs.  One might say that is a great thing that the boob has been so expressive in cinema and TV.  Forlone Masculinists may well look at their crotch and despair that cultural depicications of the penis on screen are either for hilarity or a signpost that things have gotten seriously serious (SHAAAAAAAAME, 2011): Poor masculinists.  However, the omnipresience of boob in anything rated 15 or above is not about a celebration of the expressive boob, but something more lazy and lame.

No industry has a better understanding of the spectrum of taboo than cinema and tv.  It’s not just an understanding of what must be avoided to appease censors, but what what the fringes of a taboo are, how far they can be pushed, and what associations a taboo may carry; these understandings are just as important in the construction of a good narrative, in which controversy is just one part.

TV and filmakers have such a good understanding of the taboo of nudity that they categorise its use with a Victorian precision.  The human anatomy is broken down into a list of acceptability and is displayed strategically to prevoke particular reactions from the audience.  TV and film makers place the boob on the spectrum of cinematic taboo between the bum and genitalia.  Is this why there is more boob than penis on my telly?  Could it be that the male anatomy lacks this middle ground in the taboo spectrum and therefore the boob is used as a convenient shorthand for titilation?  In visual culture the man bum is, in theory, on equal pegging as the lady bum; the man chest has nipples, but lacks the oomph of the lady boob; and the penis has nuclear properties that are equally – if not more – controversial than the vagina.  If it is the filmaker’s desire to get a reaction from an audience the bum simply doesn’t carry the impact desired for a nude scene and the penis is just too much in the other direction.  But if this were true there should be way more man arse than there is lady boob on my telly.

It’s almost as though the industry has sleepwalked into a paradoxical comfort zone when it comes to nudity; a predominantly male industry that has fought censorship from the Hays code onward to show what it wants to see (mostly boobs).  And now the censors have become more lenient the industry is left with a bulldozed and protected form of nudity in the boob, and lacks the will to fight the cause for other less marketable forms of nudity.  But this denies a certain responsibility on the part of the industry.  The industry isn’t ignorant to the impact of the boob; an actress’s contract can pivot on nudity clauses.  Every boob we have seen on telly and in cinemas has a small history of a very considered approach from the film maker.  As gratuitous as some of the displays of boobs may seem, in terms of a nude scene the boob has to have some context, even if it is to be gratuitous.  Every boob that is seen is meant to be seen, and at every level of the film making process – from the script, to set, to editing suite – the boob has been considered and given the green light. No boob has ever found its way onto the screen by mistake.  It is this evident awareness that makes the imbalance of the boob:willy ratio so weird, and frankly a bit creepy on an industrial level.

There is a new trend in particular that bothers me. When the boob isn’t being used to display a medieval subjugation of women (GoT) or background distraction for scenes of prolonged dialogue (I’m looking at you The Sopranos), the most recent and oft repeated use of the boob is to display it in a bedroom as a projection of ‘disarming honesty’ between a man and a woman in a private context. Gone are the days when everyone on TV shared beds fully clothed (Friends), and we now move on to a new dawn when a wee flash of a boob is shorthand for cajj romance.  I call bullshit.  I desire – nay DEMAND-to see more penises within the context of the bedroom on TV and film to level this imbalance.  I’m not denying the use of taboo to tell stories, and I have to acknowledge that – by design or no – the penis is more confrontational than the boob. Also, I am aware that when it comes to finding solutions to any gender issue it is rarely a case of flipping gender expectations because constructions of gender are less dichotomous and more complex than they may seem. But fuck it, this skew is too much, and I’m nowhere mature enough to find an adult solution. So I reckon… I dunno… 3:1?

Until then:

Predator Minigun 2 terminator 2

Storytelling, Videogames, and Cinematic Imitation

Vinewood

Have you ever noticed how film adaptations of video games are mostly rubbish? Of course you have. And so has everyone else. In fact, a quick google search will show an extensive list of people making just that point. That is not what I am here to say (wait, where am I?). It is largely accepted that the video game industry has been treated poorly by the movie business, to the point of callousness. Where else but this hellish misunderstanding of the two mediums could give such prosperity to the likes of Uwe Boll? No. I am here to say that the video game industry has to take a step away from the great works of the film industry. Take a step right back I say, get over the terrible things that have been done to you in the name of film and grow up.

The relationship between these two industries has always been a bit testy. It would be fair to say that there is a longer history of film makers damaging the reputation of video gaming. Videogames have risen in an age of entertainment when cinema ROOLED. Coupled with gaming’s appeal to geek culture, the video game industry’s insecurities (amongst its fans at least) were often provoked by the world of film. In 1978, when Richard Donner was showing the world that a man could fly, the gaming industry hadn’t advanced much further than two lines knocking a square ball at each other. And when film moguls finally acknowledged the appeal (financially anyway) of gaming culture, they wasted most opportunities to achieve the visual spectacle that gamers yearned for, and made rubbish films instead. The list of casualties is extensive, and often held up as crimes against the gaming industry: Super Mario Bros, Street Fighter 2, Resident Evil, Doom amongst others. But now the gaming industry has the tools and skills to compete visually with the world of film and tell the stories that they have been desperate to tell for 40 years. Well-earned I say. Problem is that the stories they want to tell are rubbish.

It’s a bit rich to criticise the films listed above when one looks at the source material. The stories are unimaginative, the characterisation is very limited, and the script often particularly bad. There’s very little to build an actual story from. Let’s go through the list:

Street_Fighter_Movie_13

Street Fighter 2 (1991)– the only reason story even comes into this game is to imitate narrative closure at the game’s end, as well as providing some scantily clad characterisation in the form of the heroes motivation. The script serves as an early example of the problems in translation in video games. The film, Street Fighter (1994) was filing in a lot of gaps to make a cohesive story, and ultimately stretched the storytelling qualities of video games too far.


Super Mario Bros. (1993) does have the makings of a great story, which I think the filmmakers had a good crack at. I mean, how did two Italian plumber siblings find themselves in this eternal struggle against a world of dinosaurs and sentient mushrooms in a bid to save a princess from a giant spiky turtle dragon? Interesting premise, no? And Bob Hoskins (RIP). While the film was a big swing and a miss, it’s not as though any of the games in the Mario universe were ever telling a better story. The game follows the template of the maiden in distress story with no deviations, which works well for a medium that is not primarily aimed at telling a story. The game hardly provided the filmmakers with a cohesive story that only required pointing a camera at. The production of the film is a well-documented disaster with the budget exceeding millions before a final draft of the script had been submitted. But Hollywood egos and money chasing studios aside this failure can be put down to the fact that the Mario Bros was trying to retell a story that didn’t exist in the first place.

super-mario-bros-movie

The filmmakers of Doom (2005) seem to have identified the lack of a story in the source material from the start and instead tried to imitate the game as a game and resulted in a curiously uncinematic experience. It tried to tell the story using The POV device that is used in the game as a first person shooter.

 This managed to displace the viewer as a film watcher and also as a game player. It is not a criticism when I say that gaming is a more selfish medium than film. Gaming has a stronger emphasis on allowing the player to control a characters reaction rather than films emphasis on an understanding of the characters motivations; one seeks total immersion and the other aims to invoke empathy. This film didn’t achieve either of these things, because it fell in the chasm that separates the storytelling abilities of the two mediums that this scene thoroughly highlights.

Now that games have the technology to imitate the look of film the game industry has taken what appears to be a no-brainer decision, and focused more on cinematic storytelling. Now it isn’t uncommon to find 2 hours of a game’s running time that is taken out of the control of the player and replaced with cut scenes; boring, predictable, and largely rehashed scenes from rubbish 90s/00s films. Some games have even reduced the players involvement by telling them what buttons to press to progress through a cut scene in the form of quick time events.

The counter argument I’ve heard is that the spectacle is enough. In fact, it is possible to watch the game like a film! How lovely! Thing is, that is complete bollocks. And if you agree with that premise, you are hogging the controller and should give someone else a go

Jason Melvin, you are a shit boyfriend. And why aren’t women playing games in these ads?.

If we are to apply Sturgeon’s law (that 90% of everything is crap) I would say that the 90% of films that are bad tell a story better than the leading 10% of video game titles. I’m not saying that games shouldn’t tell stories, because all art forms, to a degree, say something about the human experience. Instead I’m being critical of the gaming industry’s obsession with telling cinematic stories.  My favourite games have terrible stories, flat characters, and terrible scripts. Christ, Watch this. Watch all of it! The world of gaming is a billion dollar industry but is incapable of showing a realistic development of character over the course of a games running time, which can be in excess of 10 hours. Listening to Max moan and MOAN over the hours it takes to complete the game’s storyline is grating to say the least. I wasn’t rooting for him, and the games completion (like almost all games) was set on his survival to progress through the game. And in terms of visual aesthetic, the developers have just taken Tony Scott’s Man On Fire (2004) hook line and sinker. It’s not a great film, but cinematically it achieved everything it set out to do 7 years before Max Payne 3 came out, and did it considerably better.

uncharted-3-wallpaper-elena-love-646x325

Let’s focus on one of the gaming industry’s most often cited examples of how gaming is overtaking cinema in its storytelling: The Uncharted series. It was playing these games, which I enjoy very much, when I realised that naggling irritation I felt when I played the biggest releases of the gaming industry was a reaction to the rubbish films I was being made to watch rather than play. When the cut scenes are edited together to make a narrative without gameplay the story is a mash-up of Sahara (2005), Vertical Limit (2000), and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001). All of which are not remembered too fondly (I actually quite like Vertical limit. shut up.), but I think it is fair to say that when each of these titles is directly compared cinematically to the Uncharted series, they win every time on the charge of best dramatically told cinematic story. And when the crème de la crème of any entertainment or art form cannot hold up against bloody Sahara, it’s time to take stock.

sahara_poster_1024