Tag Archives: review

World War Z Review

WWZ

World War Z is, in case you have magically missed out on all the hype, a zombie apocalypse movie which begins in the contemporary USA but then goes globetrotting. It’s about as “based on” Max Brooks’ 2006 novel as U-571 was “based on” genuine historical events, so bear that in mind if you enjoyed the book.

Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a UN Investigator who seems better at staying alive than every soldier he meets. He’s kind of like a Mother Teresa figure, sowing destruction in his wake through sheer coincidence yet remaining largely unharmed. He’s coerced out of retirement because apparently nobody but a retired diplomat is fit for the job. We see how much of a big goddamn hero he is when he’s the only person who can drive fast in gridlocked traffic, and when he saves his wife from the Obligatory Rape Threat even though a few minutes before she’d shown herself to be pretty quick-thinking and badass. Tragically for Gerry the younger of his two daughters seems to be completely stupid, and many of his close encounters of the Zombie Kind are entirely thanks to Little Miss Derpface.

Alas a great deal of the plot requires stupidity from everyone in it. This is one of my no-no’s with storytelling, and World War Z hits it frequently. Gerry’s youngest is a moron, so Action Happens, because Gerry himself is bright enough to get out of Action’s goddamn way. Other survivors they encounter are morons, which mires Gerry further in set pieces which wouldn’t occur if people were as smart as they initially appeared to be. Of outstanding stupidity is the moment which leads to this:

WWZWall

But the stupidity doesn’t stop. Scientists Gerry meets who are ostensibly very bright turn out to actually be deeply intellectually hampered. Soldiers actually seem to fare pretty well on the brains scale in this film, but I imagine that’s only because if a Blockbuster attempts to show American soldiers in any light other than massive heroes right now, it’ll go down about as well booking Gary Glitter for a children’s birthday party.

Gone is the novel’s commentary on US isolationism, government ineptitude and wealth-driven corruption. Perhaps that’ll come in the sequel since, in the movie’s defence, the book is set ten years after the war, whereas the film is set during the outbreak of the virus. Sequel? Why, yes. World War Z has already grossed so highly that a sequel’s been ordered. People will probably pay to go and see it.

Unless you’re really keen on seeing the visual effects on a big screen, I’d save this one until it’s cheaper to watch. It’s not bad, and you probably won’t feel like you wasted your money, but that’s largely because bugger all else is on right now.

WWZWHO

Verdict: 6/10.

Entertaining, spectacular, forgettable.

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Star Trek Into Darkness Review

Poster Collection

This is a damn fine film. You should watch it.

Oh, what, you wanted more than that? Well, see, the Americans don’t have it yet, and in spite of IMDB’s epic spoiler I’m actually trying not to contribute to a Stateside Fan Meltdown. So, no spoilers.

Poster 2

Into Darkness continues the alternative universe introduced by Star Trek in 2009. I think it’s safe to say that if you had a problem with this “reboot”, then you probably aren’t going to be a big fan of Into Darkness either. But I loved Star Trek, and I bloody loved this film too.

Things I like about it:

  • James T. Kirk is very intelligent. It’s becoming clear exactly how he makes it as Starfleet’s youngest ever captain.
  • Kirk’s influence on Spock’s personality is starting to show itself.
  • The film is littered with references and plot hooks from all of Trek canon, not just TOS.
  • At heart, this film is all about morality – very much a part of Roddenberry’s original vision.
  • There’s not a dud bit of acting or casting anywhere.
  • The score, as with the first film, is superb.
  • Visual effects? Perfect.
  • It’s two hours long, but you won’t notice the time pass.
  • Chekov’s face when he’s told to put a red shirt on.

Hangar Bay

Things I’m a little less sure about:

  • I think some plot points were glossed over too quickly and could have used just a couple more lines of dialogue to explain to viewers less familiar with Trek canon.
  • A certain blonde’s boobage felt a little gratuitous.
  • It wasn’t as tightly plotted as the 2009 film.
  • The 3D doesn’t really do much for it other than some spear-throwing at the start of the film.

Enterprise Falling

Obviously it wouldn’t be a Star Trek film without the Enterprise getting shot to shit.

Away Team

And Benedict Cumberbatch? Not stunt casting, I promise you. Look at this man. This man wants you dead:

Poster 1

Verdict: 9/10.

It falls short of a perfect 10 due to a couple of tiny niggles, but I’ll take 9/10 any day!

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I gots da fing, boss! Blood Bowl Team Manager Review

Blood Bowl Team Manager

I’m down with punching an Elf in the face as much as the next guy, so I had a go at Blood Bowl: Team Manager recently.

Opening the box, everything was as nicely produced as any other Fantasy Flight product. Excellent artwork, good quality cards, and a rules book which makes sense. No nasty surprises in there.

Gameplay is simple. You have a row of pitches, and a hand of cards which represents the players available to you to place either side of a pitch. Pitches offer different rewards for both attending and winning, but only two players can be involved on any single pitch, so you gain an advantage in going first by picking the pitch with the rewards you want to aim for over the next five rounds.

Each player takes a turn in placing one of their team in an available slot, and each turn takes as many cards as you start with that round – first round takes seven turns, second takes six, and so on. Cards have their abilities written clearly on them, so there’s rarely a need to refer back to the rulebook once you’re underway. Common abilities include beating the snot out of an opposing player, grabbing the ball, or cheating.

Cheats are represented by little tokens which you put on a team-member who is cheating, and they aren’t revealed until a match is over. These could include your star player being sent off for said cheating, but more often than not give additional fans or star rating to that player. Star rating’s what you need more of to win a match, but fans are what you need to win the game overall.

Overall I wasn’t really keen on this game. It suffers the problem where if you begin winning early on, you steamroll ahead of the other players and their ability to catch up by the end falls further and further behind. Winning yourself Star Players to add to your team early on vastly seems to be of more use than aiming for Staff or Team Upgrades (certainly from those which came into play during our game, at least), and the theoretically balancing aspect of Cheat Tokens only ever saw two cards sent off for bad behaviour. More often they led to matches which were close suddenly becoming vastly in the cheating team’s favour.

Verdict: 6/10.

It wasn’t bad, I just wouldn’t choose to play it if another game was on offer.

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Zombies! Leg it! Last Night on Earth – Review.

Last Night on Earth

I haven’t bought a boardgame in a while, so the other week I had a chat with our FLGS and walked away with this: Forty bob of zombie fun. That’s pretty damn reasonably priced for boardgames these days, so I gathered some willing victims and we set about fighting the undead hordes.

I was impressed on opening the box. Flying Frog have put a lot of thought and effort into this game, but they also aren’t scrimping on the physicals. Regular (hero and zombie) cards are thick and laminated, plastic pieces are nicely modeled and moulded, the board is wonderfully detailed, and the Scenario and Character cards are hefty pieces of dense card which won’t bend easily. Plus this game comes with its own soundtrack CD. Yes, while running around desperately trying to survive the zombie apocalypse, you can listen to some very good, atmospheric music which neither intrudes on nor makes the game any more serious than it intends to be. Everything in this box contributes in some positive way to the game overall. All art is shot using models who’ve gotten brilliantly in-character for each piece, and overworked in a painterly style. Even the art for various card abilities features the characters who are in the game itself.

It was easy to set up, easy to learn, and easy to play. We ran through the basic starter scenario, “Die, Zombies, Die!” which is weighted in the townsfolk’s favour, with two players handling two Heroes apiece and two handling Zombies. The heroes we randomly pulled out – Nurse Betty, Father Joseph, Billy, and Sheriff Anderson – complemented each other very well, and we clumped together in a small building so that we could be exchanging items and healing each other without too much effort. Betty got herself a shotgun and turned into some kind of ninja, Sheriff Anderson kept throwing away empty pistols then picking them up again the next turn (he really did have the shittiest rolls I’ve ever seen), and Father Joseph was being quiet and mild-mannered until he picked up a baseball bat, at which point he flipped out and started playing whack-a-mole with Zombie heads.

All in all our first game lasted around three hours with four players, and was awesome good fun. It’s really well thought-out, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and players aren’t left sitting in the lurch while others take their turns because cards in your hand might be usable in all kinds of situations. The other hero player saved Betty’s arse with a First Aid kit during my turn, and the Zombies were frequently enhancing each others’ zombies with their own cards.

You get several scenarios in the box, as well as advanced cards for both Heroes and Zombies, giving this game some serious replayability. Flying Frog then also have additional downloadable scenarios on their website, totally free. You can go buy expansions, but I’m thinking the core box plus the website freebies are enough to keep this game going for several plays before even needing one.

Verdict: 10/10. Highly Recommended.

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