Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Video Game Assessment: Nier (2010)

So, I bought this game for all of eleven dollars. I want that... no, I need that to be known. Eleven dollars for a fairly new game (only two years old) is basically unheard of. Most games sell for twenty to thirty dollars or more even after five years. Why is this game so cheap? Why is it one of the games that has been forgotten by the masses? Forgotten by the public to sleep in its lonely version of hell for all eternity?

I'm not one for anime games. I like some Japanese games, sure, but they are decidedly not anime. I mean, I had a hard enough time actually playing these anime video games in the first place or watching those anime movies. (I'm going to use anime as an adjective here for a while as I rant.) I mean, sure I liked Final Fantasy IX well enough (although not well enough to finish that game. I hate grinding.). And... uh... I think that's about it for JRPGs and me. I mean, I don't even particularly love RPGs in general. Sure, I like some specific instances or series of RPGs (BioWare, Bethesda, and Obsidian RPGs come to mind), but for the mos part I'm not overly fond of the genre. I mean, sure, the Dragon Age games were fun, but repetitive. Skyrim and Oblivion were expansive, but felt so empty. Mass Effect is great, but is much more a shooting and action game at this point than a serious RPG. And Obsidian is just awesome, so let's leave it at that.

My point here is that although I may talk about RPGs, it's much more about the time required to play the game rather than the game itself. Because I take so much time to play the games I much more willing to rant and rave about an RPG than any other game. And this is why I find my eleven dollar copy of Nier so preposterous. It's absolutely ridiculous that this thing is selling for eleven dollars. It's like a slap in the face that this game has been hidden away while crap games are top on every gamer's radar. Hell, I barely knew about this game until now, two years later, when I happened to hear a little of the game's music and found myself intrigued enough to go spend the measly eleven dollars on the game.

Sure, I had heard things about the game, but I also keep my ears open for games like this, games that get mediocre to crappy scores on game review sites, but seem to have their own small fanbase behind them. Another intriguing thing about this game was the story and character heavy elements that it seemingly had within it. I love story in my video games. I was dubious, of course, because anime... but I found myself giving into the notion of the game.

Now, what can I say about this game? Is it perfect? No. There's a lot of issues here. The sidequests can be and are awful. Leveling up weapons is equally bad. Hell, anything that involves grinding for items is basically awful,but those are extras. I guess if you want to do those things (and you never have to do them) then it will be a slog, but... I think it would be a worthy slog. Look, I'm not here to praise a game up and down, not looking at flaws, but I am also certainly not here to give the review for this game that everybody else seems to give it. I mean, seriously guys? This is why critics are always wrong, be they gaming or otherwise. Don't listen to them. I mean, sure, they can be correct about the big games from time to time, but games like this, games that skirt under the radar, they are almost always wrong about.

It reminds me of the situation the gaming community had with Deadly Premonition. I loved Deadly Premonition. It was one of the best games I've ever played despite the dated visuals and not great gameplay. I loved the game because it had heart. It had something to it that most corporate games don't. It had a feeling that was more than just "go here and kill things." It was a game unto itself. One that could stand all by itself and not take all of the other games' crap. It was not a rehash of an existing game. Sure, it took from Twin Peaks, but why not? Twin Peaks is and was awesome and why not utilize that unique feeling into a video game? And they did. They made it amazing, putting so much more into that game than Twin Peaks ever did in two seasons (and I love Twin Peaks.).

My point in comparing these two games: Nier and Deadly Premonition, is that I didn't know what to expect from either of them. Deadly Premonition looked weird, but was certainly my type of game, a mixed horror genre type of game in a Twin Peaks style, while Nier... well, Nier is part of a genre of games I don't particularly love, relying on anime characters, published by Square Enix... It has many checks against it, is what I'm saying. And yet...

And yet, I don't know if there is a better game out there for story right now. I mean, sure, not everybody is going to be down with the story it tells. It reminds me of a mature version of Kingdom Hearts, and I loved those games. This one, though, is better. The story is gripping, the characters are utterly amazing, the feeling of playing this game is priceless.

The game is slow, I'm not going to give any other impression of it. The beginning is a slow build-up to the main story, introducing characters and plots all over the place while exploring the setting. The sidequests give a good feel to the world even if they can be a slog. They paint an important picture of the entire story, something that not many games do.

I don't know if I've ever played a game that felt half as poignant as this. I mean, yes, Silent Hill 2 does it fantastically, and is one of the saddest games that I have ever played. But Nier does it almost as well, and certainly does it more often. Obviously quality count more than quantity about such things, but the feelings and emotions Nier evokes are outstandingly well done from beginning to end. A world is created and drawn together. These characters exist, no longer characters, but people... and then comes the deconstruction. This game, like some before it, deconstructs the video game media, making it almost into a criticism of video games as much as a hack-and-slash game about killing things.

The mixture of gameplay elements and the story blend together almost seamlessly. Every moment during play, you think, you wonder, you may even hate the random item drops for quest pickups, but there is constant and deliberate thought by the player throughout the game. The characters are ambiguous, the plot is ambiguous... hell, even the gameplay is ambiguous, and I've never been happier to say that. Everything blends together to create a game that is everything as well as nothing, ultimately telling the player that it was all for nothing... and yet, for everything still. It was like looking at real life, even for a moment and finally understanding that there is something bigger than any of us, and that even though one person can screw a lot of things up, there might not be anybody left to put those pieces back together again.

I'm being vague on purpose. The true story is something simple and yet so elusive, like water draining through fingers. It moves and breathes along with the characters, and eventually everything seems to be more complex than it had ever seemed, much like real life. There are no bad guys here, no ultimate evil that needs fixing like in so many RPGs and JRPGs. This "evil" is the evil of randomness, of a bad hand, of fate... of whatever you want to call it. All of these characters own a motivation. All of these little plots make sense despite it being in a freaking video game.

I don't think I've ever truly felt sad for a background NPC before this game came around. I don't think I'd ever felt like crying when a character died or was killed before this game. Hell, only Boromir's death in LotR was strong enough to evoke emotions like that, and this game does it for background characters! I mean, come on!

The story here, I believe it's translated into English, is fantastically done. the translation is easily one of the best from Japanese I have ever seen. The voice actors also shine with their lines, with almost every character in the game sounding real instead of awkward like some video games can sound. Nier himself (the dude on the cover) is just about as strange a JRPG or even regular RPG protagonist as one can get. He's a middle-aged muscle-bound man with a daughter. How strange is that? (Yes, I know the Japanese version has a younger "brother" version of Nier, but I didn't play that version, and therefore have no reason to talk about it.)

As for the other characters, I'll remain vague. They all have character arcs, some sad, some very sad, and one or two even happily poignant in the end. I don't think I've seen another game with quite the depth of character that this game seems to have. Every character is consistent and wonderfully done from beginning to end. I can't even fathom how that's even possible. I can't think of another game that does that. Even my favorite game KotOR II, suffers from some crappy characters (like Bao-Dur), so this seems almost unsettling to me, almost unreal.

As for other things, well, the gameplay is solid. I like it. There's nothing insane about it, nothing crazy. It's fairly standard, but has some changeups from time to time, becoming a top-down shooter at points, or looking like some old dungeon crawler at other points. Hell, there are also sidescrolling platformer elements to it as well as some absurdly awesome bullet hell gameplay. It's ridiculous, and I love it for being ridiculous.

The look of the game is fantastic even though at times the bloom can be a little distracting. I was playing it, and I found the landscape, although somewhat barren at times, to be fantastically done. I liked exploring it or simply looking at the sky. I can't think of looking at the sky to be a gameplay element in any other game (except maybe Skyrim) but here it looks so good that I can't complain.

The music is what attracted me to the game, and I have to put in a special mention to the FANTASTIC music that's in the game. My God is the music good. I'm considering buying the soundtrack because it's just that good. Hell, I've had the music for the game just playing in the background because I like it so much. I can't think of many other games where I've found the music such a compelling part of the game. Maybe Skyrim again, but there it was two tracks of music in particular. With this game it's every track.

I'm not going to spoil elements of the game, but there are part of it, specifically towards the end, that are... simply put, fantastic and sad, and done the exact right way. I want to recommend the game to literally everybody who can spend eleven dollars on it. It's worth those eleven dollars and so much more. Even if you don't like it, I think you'd find it hard to say it isn't worth those eleven measly bucks.

The game, though, isn't for everyone, and that needs to be known. It's a story-based game that has some weaker gameplay elements to it (which I don't mind in the slightest because if I can play the game then the gameplay is absolutely fine, but a lot of people seem to mind quite a bit about that). This game is not mediocre, but really, really good. Don't go into it expecting a happy ending. And don't go into it if you don't want a gritty and somewhat sadly realistic version of the world. If you hate everything, this might be the game for you, but even moreso if you want something intelligently done that thrives off of a brilliantly done deconstruction of story, game, and characters... then this might very well be the game for you.

I wish I could go all in and ruin the plot, describing just how good the twists and turns of the story is: the King of Facade, Kaine, Emil, Yonah... the bosses (which are incredible and so great to fight), Nier's village, the temples, the way that the game has bookends, the way it all makes sense despite its heavy plot. I think it puts this game a cut above many others. It certainly puts it into my top echelon of games to stay.

Nier, a game that cost me eleven dollars, which I expected nothing from and got a world, you have surpassed not only my expectations, but the expectations of any video game. This is a game that should be played by everybody. I can't recommend it enough. Go and play it if you have that chance, and if you already have then I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Edit: One more thing before I call this review a complete wrap. The pacing of this game s very strange. The first act (before the clear demarcation of the acts), moves very slowly, especially if you are a completionist like myself. Not a ton happens, and most of it is there to introduce the plot, the characters, and the settings. Most of the first act is filler until the end of the act. The bosses are not well characterized, and, in general, it can get kind of boring if you don't know what comes next. But don't give up! All is not lost!

The second act moves at a very good pace, with no real screwing around when it comes to fighting or anything else. Nier, by the second  act, is very strong, able to kill most enemies in a few strikes. Even bosses aren't that much trouble. The game uses those introductions from the first act to build up on characters, plots, and settings. I think it succeeds in this admirably.

The pacing issue is one that I noticed myself, but I think it's actually a great decision by the game, showing a clear difference between the first and second acts in so many ways: in terms of color pallets, pacing, ease of the game, openness of the story, and ambiguity of basically all of the characters.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Movie Appraisal: Chronicle (2012)

So, every year I see about one movie or so in theaters. I mean, mostly they're not even good movies. Two years ago, maybe three I started doing this, not from a conscious effort or anything, but rather because that's how it happened to work out. I already know this won't be the only movie I'll see in theaters this year, what with The Hobbit and The Dark Knight Rises, but it is my first and the one I knew almost nothing about. Expect spoilers in this review. Just a warning.

I had heard some decent things from both reviews and from word of mouth, but I didn't really know what to expect. There are a glut of what seem to be described as deconstructions of the superhero genre. I haven't really seen many of them, and I have no real desire to see any of them either. This is not out of any malice towards the movies, but rather because I simply am apathetic about these movies. They don't usually mean much to me. This movie, Chronicle, is a deconstruction, certainly, but is also a found-footage film done very well, and a pretty good dark high school drama film as well.

The film centers on three high schoolers who find something strange in a a hole underground. The main character Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is a bit of a recluse, a loner, a strange nerdy guy with a lot of issues at home. He is not only unpopular, but is largely unnoticed. The other two characters are the very popular Steve (Michael B. Jordan) and Andrew's cynical cousin Matt (Alex Russell). These three have incredibly good interactions with one another in the first half of the film, and almost make it feel good as a film, rather than dark as it will eventually become.

The first half of the movie centers on both Andrew, his home life, school life, lack of social life, etc. and the interactions and friendships between the three leads. Andrew is the loner, the one who never really had friends. The only person he seems close to is Matt, who also seemingly dislike him. Andrew's father is not only an abusive, unemployed drunk, but he also sees reality in his own way rather than the way it actually is. He is a largely despicable character.

The movie in general can be predicted in advance. Everything can be seen even to the people who are not exactly genre-savvy. It plays out exactly like one would think it would, with Andrew being pushed off the deep end through his home and social lives, a character dying, and a hero and a villain emerging. That being said, although this movie is predictable, it is also very good. I enjoyed it thoroughly, although the ending was not exactly to my liking. I would have much rather liked the father to have died and Andrew to have burnt himself out on his own power. That would have worked beautifully. The way it ended fell flat for me instead.

This is one of the few movies I have ever seen that has a fantastic opening though. The characters seem real when introduced. The plot moves along at a steady and enjoyable pace, and the darkening of the plot is thoroughly foreshadowed even when the story is downright silly. The first half of the movie does have a lot of comedy in it, something I probably wouldn't have enjoyed as much if I hadn't seen it in the theater. I tend to not love comedy, which is why I never do comedy reviews, but the comedy in this one feels very real. Teenagers with these superpowers would play pranks and have fun in these ways. I like that a lot.

The plot is pretty standard and works pretty well. I like how the movie darkens after the death of Steve, and I like the set-up to his death... with the plane scene happening before foreshadowing the whole thing, showing the happiest day of the three characters' times together contrasted with the darkest, saddest day. I thought it was very well done, appropriately sad and terrible, showing how close Andrew was to falling all along, and how Steve was really the one he was relying upon for support. It also shows just how terrible Andrew's father is, being the kind of person to throw Andrew's enjoyment right out the window. Yes, I understand that there are dire things going on at home and everything, but it's not Andrew's fault and there's nothing he can do. He obviously cares about his mother, obviously helps in every way he can. The father is simply a selfish prick who can't see past his own faults. It's terrible.

The cinematography is found-footage, that's certainly true, but because of Andrew's powers, it makes the camerawork almost artsy. I liked it even if in the theater it gave me a headache. I think I would have enjoyed it more on DVD probably. Not much else to say about it then that. I thought it was a good example of found-footage, and mostly very well done all around.

As for characters, here comes some criticisms. I liked both Andrew and Steve. They both came off as heavy contrasts of characters, but could and did get along very well. Their friendship seemed incredibly apparent, and their stage show was one of the  most heart-warming parts of the movie to watch. Both characters had incredibly deep and meaningful antics and dialogue, and both felt very real and very needed in the story as a whole. I thought that they were beautifully done. Steve seemed to be an amazing, heroic type of guy, whereas Andrew is trouble but trying to be the best he can.

Now for Matt. I didn't like Matt. I thought he was superfluous to the entire story and a big huge Marty Stu besides. He is the typical "good guy" character. He has an "arc" that is so apparent it feels like somebody was etching it on a nail they were pounding into my brain. His whole "love" sideplot was unneeded and ridiculous, easily one of the lowpoints of the movie for me. The portrayal of women in the film, especially in regards to Matt, but all around too, seems heavily exploitative, almost showing that girls are only good for sex (making a kid into a man) or being a backup cameraperson. I would have much rather had a female taking the part of Matt and going with that rather than having Matt as the "hero" character. I simply did not like it. It did not work for me at all.

Maybe it was because Matt wasn't very good at anything, or maybe it was because he just seems so "good" and so "righteous" when he put his cousin down for years, never thinking anything more about Andrew than he's weird or a fly on the wall or whatever else. He seemed both insincere and obnoxious. To me he was unneeded and the ending felt worse with him saving the father, killing Andrew, and ending off the film. Andrew should have burnt himself out. The father should have died. Matt should have not existed. Those things would have made the film much better.

I heard in the original version Andrew kills his father like he kills the spider earlier in the film. That would have been fitting. I didn't like how the father got away with everything he did in the end. I felt a little cheated.

The acting here though, despite some character complaints, is very good all around. I think the only person I can criticize is the girl with the camera, Matt's girl. I don't think it necessarily had anything to do with her acting, but rather her part. I hated that part with undying passion. I hated why it was there and what it meant to the story. Dane DeHaan and Michael B. Jordan are really the outstanding players here, but Alex Russell shines as well, especially in the emotional scenes. The father, played by Michael Kelly, also does a fantastic job of making me hate his guts. So, take that for what it's worth.

I liked the movie quite a bit. I didn't love it, but I thought it did a good job at being both different, the same, and quite enjoyable besides. I wish certain things had been different because it would have changed my feelings about the movie quite a bit, but I liked it and would recommend it to people who like superhero movies (deconstruction or otherwise) and people who like found-footage films. It's not necessarily for the whole family with the gore in the film and the brutal family and social life of Andrew, but it works pretty well as an experience.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Series Criticism: Star Wars (Part 1.75: Where did the fun go?)

Okay, now we're getting into the bread-and-butter of my criticisms of the franchise itself. Look, the prequels are bad. We all know that. (Well, besides some writers who want to be controversial and go against the crowd, often saying that the prequels are better because of... uh... reasons? I'm guessing stuff like OH CGI IS BETTER and THE PREQUELS ARE SMART... but come on, does anybody really believe those things?) The prequels failed, maybe not in terms of money, but certainly in terms of support in the thinking people of the world because there was no heart to them.

Now, this is going to get complex and very opinionated, and I can't help that. All of this is opinion, and my opinions can sometimes be controversial or downright insane. Most of my reviews don't really go into some of my more crackpot theories, and I tend to try to avoid complex ideas of what people (actors, directors, writers) were thinking. But sometimes I have to point out when I think people are having fun or when they're not... and also when there are more abstract ideas of what makes something good or bad.

I don't like sell-outs. I like my moral high ground. I like having this idea that nobody ever has to sell out. Selling out=bad to me. And that's the problem. Star Wars was already a franchise based on selling crap, selling media, selling toys to the kids who would see it, but it always had a soul, a heart, in the center of it. Watch A New Hope or Empire Strikes Back and go and tell me that there wasn't a heart to those movies. The actors had passion for their parts. The directors and writers had passion for the story. Yes, they were making money, but there was care for quality. Everybody put in their time and effort. They went to locations and shot their scenes in deserts, in tundras... forests for Return of the Jedi. They built sets, sometimes, like with the original Death Star, from thousands of battleship models put together. That's insane and brilliant. It made the whole movie feel not only more real, but used up in so many ways. It added to the aesthetic which added to the mood which added to why the movies were so good. Practical sets are hard, but they pay off in the end by having stunning visuals that CGI just cannot replicate.

CGI is the bane of existence today. It makes good movies into cartoons and makes bad movies so much worse. George Lucas wanted to push the boundaries of CGI with the prequels and he did. I can't argue that. He pushed the boundaries of what can be done with CGI and movies. The problem is that he sacrificed story, characters, and the Star Wars franchise to do so. You can tell what he wanted. He wanted full control, he wanted to make money, and he wanted the movies to hold up against modern movies in terms of the look of the movies. He wanted to compete with other gorgeous movies, using every trick in his book to make his movies better. He wanted to appeal to every demographic, wanted Star Wars to be KING.

The problem is the movies, at their center, had no soul. There was no reason to care about Anakin or Obi-Wan. Hell, I barely had any reason to care about any of the characters. Anakin was a supreme jerk in the latter two movies of the prequels and in the first he was an annoying kid. Yes, he had some moments of trying to appeal to the audience, like when his mother died and whatnot, but ultimately it failed and fell extremely flat. I don't care about Hayden Christiansen as an actor one way or another. He could have been the best actor ever, his emotions still would have fell flat. Christopher Lee is a case in point. The guy is a very good, very accomplished actor. He's certainly had some bad films, but he's always had dignity in his roles. Compare his role as Count Dooku in the prequels to his role as Saruman in The Lord of the Rings films. There is no comparison. Count Dooku is both lackluster and unneeded. He has no personality, no reason for me to care about him or think about him at all. In fact he's become the punchline to a lot of jokes I make. But then you see Saruman and see that Christopher Lee is a damn good actor who can put in a performance that is simply brilliant. The Star Wars prequels didn't have the good direction that LotR did. That's for sure. But they also didn't have the well-written, well thought of characters. None of them mattered. Yes, we knew the story, we knew what would happen, but did it have to be so full of nothing? I mean, I've seen very few movies where both the settings and characters suffered so much because of issues on the filmmaker's part. Was the plot okay? I have no idea. Maybe it could have been, but the characters were so flat that I didn't care about that either.

Go ahead and tell me there characters are well-done. Go ahead. I dare you. You can't even do it with a straight face, can you? It would make your brain explode to call Anakin or Padme great characters worthy of being etched in history. I mean, Palpatine was the only character I enjoyed watching in the prequels and only because he was evil and didn't give a damn. His complications come from the fact he's playing both sides, acting both good and bad simultaneously. It gives him the illusion of complexity while he remains just as flat and stupid as every other character. Yoda was ruined by the prequels, although I guess everybody knows that by now. Mace Windu was garbage. And do any of the others even matter?

Compare any character from the prequels to the original trilogy and tell me what you get. The original trilogy, is always better. The characters are almost never flat, and the situations and scripts are well done. Watch The Empire Strikes Back and tell me that Luke and Han don't seem like best friends despite spending almost no time in the actual movie together. They do. And yet Anakin and Obi-Wan say they're best friends, spend half of Attack of the Clones together and never feel close at all. Do you see?

The prequels and Star Wars in general has lost their respective hearts and souls. They have sold out beyond comprehension, hoping to sell, to appeal, to look great, to be funny, serious, tragic, comedic... the list goes on and on, but the ending is always the same: the spirit of Star Wars was sacrificed to make room for a "vision," a vision that couldn't work, didn't work, and alienated people away from the franchise. And that's all I can say. The fun of the movies, the enjoyment... the adventure... was stripped out in favor of looks and flashing lights and a focus on a romance that not only didn't work, but couldn't work. The characters were broken beyond repair, flat and dead on arrival. And there was nothing that could be done once that happened.

I used to read the Star Wars novels back in my misspent youth. Most of them were not good, but they weren't brain-crushingly terrible either. They had silly plots sometimes, and each of them (before 1997 or so) seemed to be intent on getting Luke to marry their girl of the month or whatever, but in general, although there were some very high quality ones and some very bad ones, most were humbly mediocre... and that's fine. I still read them. I still pretty much enjoyed them. But after the prequels came out, the whole soul of Star Wars seemed to shift. First it was the genre shifts as seen in The New Jedi Order books with the Yuuzhan Vong, bringing out a focus on both gore, grittiness, horror, and realism that Star Wars had long lacked. These elements were a break from the romantic and adventurous ideal Star Wars had been based upon, but maybe it was time for a change. maybe it could work. There were a few of the books in the, I believe, 19 book series that were pretty good. Some were awful too, but that's to be expected. On the whole though, the books and Star Wars, were stepping on thin ice, pushing the boundaries of what is Star Wars.

The problem was that despite the seriousness, the characters never seemed to change. Luke, Han, and Leia were essentially the same characters from the original trilogy of movies. Their twenty years of character development, relationships, and losses were all but forgotten under the guise of a new series, with new writers trying their best to make these characters their own. And the series fell into what I like to consider at the best of times "Fanfiction" and the worst of times something unspeakable. The things that are called Star Wars novels today are but a shadow of even the worst of the novels of the nineties. And that's terrible. I haven't read any new novels in years... probably since the Legacy of the Force novels, where I became so insulted at the writers of that series that I actually quit Star Wars. How could I not with such egregious violations of the fans' trust? Killing off a popular character in order to prop up an unpopular one? How is that even... I'm not getting into this. My point is that there were a lot of bad decisions and I hope that the teenage girls reading the Star Wars novels now are really happy in just how screwed up the franchise is. It has been a long fall,and it's still going.

Again, the heart of the franchise has been torn out and eaten. There's nothing left but the terrible parts of Star Wars. When no KotOR III established itself, I knew the franchise, to me, was dead, finally. Have there been some good thing in the past few years? Yeah, I guess. I liked some parts of the Legacy comics, and I like the idea of horror and Star Wars combining... but beyond that, I'm done with the series.

In a way Star Wars reminds me of some of my more hated franchises, like Harry Potter, which I felt sold out a long time ago... or, and I may like the webcomic all right, but the soul of it is now gone: Homestuck. Now, these two franchises are certainly, at this point in time, examples, in my opinion, of creators selling out, forgetting original visions, and appealing to the blind mass of fans rather than the art of the thing. Maybe it's just me, but that's how I feel: utterly disappointed in the creators.

I need to take a breath for a while, but Part 2 in which I rant about the early Star Wars expanded universe and Return of the Jedi will be coming soon.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Series Criticism: Star Wars (Part 1.5: Are You Serious?)

I don't know what to say anymore. Seriously, I have no clue. I was originally going to start on a very calm, very rational discussion about Star Wars as a series. I had planned Part 2 to be a very logical and chronological breakdown of where the series went from 1977 until about 1997 or so. And then I heard something that utterly mystified me. I heard a term thrown around about the new 3D re-release of The Phantom Menace that made me angrier and more confused and angrier than I have ever been in life.

Now, certainly you could say that I take Star Wars to seriously. Okay. Okay, I'll give that too you. To me this is somewhat serious business because this series defined my childhood, but it wouldn't be so bad if people (George Lucas) would just accept that the prequels were bad and move on. Maybe plan a re-write of the scripts at some point and just remake the hell out of them... but I'm realistic, okay. Kids like these movies. People who were kids when the prequels came out like them. (Not me though.) People who don't think about Star Wars as anything but a bunch of movies might not worry about the implications here, but think about The Phantom Menace as a movie. Think about it as a fun, enjoyable movie, one that has adventure, action, characters, a great plot... and then you realize: HOLY CRAP, The Phantom Menace has none of those things.

I heard this movie called a "classic" this morning, in utter honesty. Wait for that to sink in. A "CLASSIC". CLASSIC. I'm even going to up the font size so you can understand the implications of that word:
Okay, do you see what's wrong here? Despite the FACT that The Phantom Menace is only thirteen years old and has NO right to be called a classic in sheer terms of WHAT? The Phantom Menace is also a very bad movie. I mean seriously, don't go on any tirade telling me to mind my own business or that I'm wrong. It is objective fact that Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace is a freaking terrible movie, or maybe more accurately, it is an incredibly mediocre movie that is either defended to the death by fans or blasted beyond any semblance of reason by those who feel as if it is a personal affront to them.

And you know what? This movie is a slap in the face to every thinking person who fell in love with the original Star Wars trilogy once upon a time. Yes, there will be a ton of people flocking to the theaters to see this movie in glorious 3D, but that's the model, folks. George Lucas is a businessman and he has made it his business to sell his bitter and broken wears to the public just itching for that much more mediocrity. Once upon a time, George Lucas was a visionary, he was the man of the moment, creating classics because he had visions... but as time grew so did his greed, his need for absolute power. He has become his own Emperor Palpatine, desiring control, money, and the finer things in life rather than focusing on the art.

Look at The Phantom Menace. Really look at it. Where is the artistry? Where are the fantastic lines? Where are the memorable and wonderful characters you could love so much?  Where are the sensical plots? Where is the story that has sense and has MEANING? They are all gone, like bitter tears in the pouring rain. The Phantom Menace was and still is a cash in on the hearts and minds of those who still believe in the magic of Star Wars, who still want to hold onto the dreams that the franchise gave us so long ago. Yes, we all wanted to be Jedi or Sith or Imperials or Rebels or anything and everything else... smugglers, stormtroopers, bounty hunters... the list goes on and on, and that's why we hold onto these movies. We want them to be good. We want the prequels to continue the magic when all the magic that is left is from the original trilogy.

I never wanted to be Qui-Gon Jinn or Obi-Wan Kenobi, or little big-headed Anakin Skywalker. I never wanted to beat down faceless droids and believe that I was in some kind of cartoon world. I wanted to have an adventure, face peril, understand what my motivations were. I knew the Empire was bad in Star Wars: A New Hope, but I also saw that not all of them were. In The Empire Strike Back I saw humanity from both sides, and I saw darkness on both sides. Yoda was a hermit, not helping in the war effort at all, sending an untested man, barely out of boyhood, against the entire might of a galaxy of evil. But was Admiral Piett evil? Was Boba Fett doing anything but his job? Did Darth Vader truly wish for his son's death or did he truly care about him?

The Phantom Menace is so one-sided. Good versus evil and nothing in between. One of the greatest pieces of Star Wars is seeing the conflict in human nature, that even someone committed to "evil" can be swayed to see the good in things. Even the Emperor was never anything but a politician who only grew fangs when he couldn't convince first. But then we see "Darth Maul" and what the hell kind of name is that anyway? I guess it's better than "Count Dooku" which just sounds like somebody pet-naming a piece of crap, but it's still horrendous. Darth Vader's name had meaning. The word "Vader" did not mean "Oh my God that is a synonym for bad stuff!!!!!" It was a foreign word for "father" and had meaning. Darth Maul had no meaning, he was simply there to look intimidating, to show that good versus evil is VERY clear cut, and that's never been the case... or at least rarely is.

And then we get "Darth Sidious", General Grievous, and Darth Tyrannus and everything flies out the window when you finally see that George Lucas has lost his mind.

I keep hearing fans of this film call me out as being a "hater", usually in poor grammar with even poorer spelling. I keep hearing them say that I shouldn't complain about this movie if I don't like it, that I should simply forget it exists and move on with my life. Sound advice, I suppose, but absolutely wrong. Things should be called out for being wrong. People should be vocal about what they enjoy and do not enjoy. That is the nature of debate, even if debate can be heavily opinionated and subjective. I do not like the prequels, but I will give them their due when I see things that aren't bad. I liked Kamino in Attack of the Clones. I liked the look of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith and I liked the acting of both Liam Neeson in The Phantom Menace and Ewan McGregor in  any movie that was not The Phantom Menace. And... um... there might be more? I don't know.

My point here is that I am absolutely entitled to bash any series or anything in general that I want to bash. I have done over 130 reviews on this blog, sometimes harshly criticizing, sometimes bashing, sometimes praising up and down, and I will continue to speak my mind and put my opinions out there. Yes, they are opinions, but they are also backed by facts most of the time. Go and watch Red Letter Media's review of all the Star Wars prequels. In many ways they do a better job than I do at putting the negatives of the prequels out there. Mostly it's the format, seeing these things in a video is much easier than reading about a dude on the internet's complaints about stuff.

I guess this all comes back to George Lucas, his desire to remake the series, to have us forget that one time long ago he worked with other people and made something great... but now he can't make anything at all worth any sort of damn. He had other writers working on the dialogue, actors willing to call him out on some of his decisions, a team of cinematographers and editors working tirelessly against him, hardships, money problems... "art from adversity" is a key point here. The settings were all constructed, not CGI, and they felt real, used, workable... the X-Wings had weight to them, they had history. The whole galaxy felt old, felt like it had been running for much longer than humans on earth had been sentient. The lightsabers were silly, seldom used, relics of bygone days... not flashy props for doing silly overchoreographed movesets, not hacking swords that could slice robots like swiss cheese... it was an "elegant weapon" from a "more civilized age".

All the prequels are are flash, like tacky Christmas decorations all over someone's house. There are no characters to relate to. Why did Anakin have to build C-3P0? Was that a good plot decision? Did it make the movies flow better? Did it make them make more sense to you? Because to me it was dumb, even when I first saw it, it was dumb. Why couldn't Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon be one character? Why couldn't Boba and Jango Fett be one character? Why couldn't the clones make more sense? Why did the romance have to be so painfully horrible? Why is Jar Jar the only thing about these movies that anybody ever thinks of as wrong when he is the only character who actually experiences a freaking character arc in the movie? Yes, he's comic relief, and no, he was never fun to watch, but why is he blamed for the failure of the movie when if everything else went right he'd be remembered like the Ewoks, maybe not ridiculously fondly all the time, but as a cute sidekick that kind of work and was all right, I guess.

The point is that nothing worked. Nothing. Everything was done terribly. The podrace was unneeded and terrible, the plot contrived and ridiculous. They could have pawned off their own ship and bought a new one. Or for another idea hired someone to take them to Coruscant... I mean, come the hell on. Why go through all of the confusion when simpler ideas were out there. The answer: flash and spectacle. Story never mattered only the look, only the CGI, only how far they could make this movie look like a cartoon rather than like Star Wars. And in the end it is a cartoon, a cartoon with some live action actors who do terrible jobs all around.

Star Wars gave life to an entire genre. It made people believe in something fantastical. It brought people together as both fans and lovers of the movies... and then the prequels shattered the illusions... it broke the piece. George Lucas took a bat to my dreams, to the ideas that I once held. I could have always believed that the prequel trilogy would have been great and epic, the fall of a Republic and the beginning of an Empire. The Jedi, an order of monks bent on studying the religion of the Force, falling into darkness one-by-one. A terrible galactic conflict involving clones that tore families apart... and the ending of an age. Religion was gone, replaced with confidence in machines, in the work of man. This was a fascinating idea, but one that never came because of flashing lights, cartoon characters, lacking plots and dialogues, and a man in charge who only cares for money, not for the art, not for the fans who made his movies the powerhouses they are today. Every word out of George Lucas' mouth is venom of the worst and most vitriolic kind. He hates those that question him, that deride him, that speak against the perfection that he MADE with his blood, sweat, and tears... and he can change what he wants. They're his films. He owns them. He made them. He acts like a spoiled child, one that cannot see why people loved his films and why they are so upsettingly bad now. He cannot see that we have great criticisms here, that we call him out on these bad ideas because we care, because we love the movies and cannot understand why they have to be changed every five years. Why does George Lucas' "vision" of Star Wars have to impede the movie that I originally saw? Why do I have to see the spectacle, the flash, of these movies rather than just enjoy the stark reality that I fell in love with so much the first time I saw them?

George Lucas, please stop. I know you'll never read this, and I doubt even if you did you would even understand a single argument that I make here, but as a fan of the series, as a person who lost all faith in Star Wars after Revenge of the Sith, I beg you, as one writer to another, as one person to another: do not ruin this.

The problem is, you already have ruined it. I simply have chosen to ignore everything you've changed or done over the last however many years. And that, to me, is victory enough. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Series Criticism: Star Wars (Part 1)

I start off this with a piece of concept art for the last good thing in Star Wars, Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. It's a video game, and my favorite video game of all time, for reasons that I'll kind of get into here, and get way more into whenever I review this fantastic game. I start with the last great thing to come from Star Wars because it came out nearly seven years ago. And yet a lot of Star Wars has been coming out since. Very little of it has been any kind of quality, and for the most part, it has essentially kicked the fan of the series that I once had been in the teeth. I can't be the fan I was. Hell, I can't even be a fan at all.

Once this series stood for something. Back in the old days, days I don't even remember, when there were only movies, some comics, some action figures, and maybe a book or two, this series stood for something great. It was a series with infinite possibilities, an entire galaxy at the disposal of a great writer, a great thinker, and it was available to the masses. At one point you could watch the movies and know exactly all there was to know or care about in Star Wars. I've reviewed the original Star Wars movie, and I'm pretty sure I've made some of my feelings on the series known already. Star Wars was once great. Hell, the first time I saw A New Hope it was in theaters when the special edition came out in 1997. I probably saw it before then, my dad was a fan of Star Wars too, but the first time I really remember it, I was eight and I was in a crowded theater, loving the movie, falling into it every bit as much as I could fall into a good book. I fell in love with Star Wars from that moment on. I ate it up. I saw The Empire Strike Back, easily one of the BEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME, in a nearly empty theater at midnight, possibly the most appropriate way to watch that bleak film. And then I saw Return of the Jedi and fell in love with the characters and the story all over again, even if ROTJ does have its own issues.

I believed in Star Wars. I believed that it could be great, that it was great. I believed that there could be a galaxy far, far away... a long time ago... that housed Jedi and smugglers, and amazing spaceships, and everything else. Wookiees, Hutts, Greedo, Darth Vader, Grand Moff Tarkin... the list can go on and on. My point here is that I fell into the same TRAP that a lot of people did. I believed in Star Wars, and I believed in George Lucas. And today, I believe in nothing but lies.

It wasn't the prequel trilogy that broke me. No. Of course none of the movies were good, but I saw them when I was young. I knew things were wrong, but I never hated the movies. I still don't. I wish they didn't exist, and I treat them as if they don't exist, but I have ambivalence for them, not hatred. They didn't single-handedly ruin Star Wars, and they certainly didn't ruin the original trilogy for me. What they did was bring Star Wars into the mortal realm, the realm of fallibility, the realm of not being the best. Star Wars fans have, for years, wondered what the prequels did... why did they have to be so bad? Why did the acting have to suck? Why CGI? Why everything? The problem is that the times- they are a-changing. I know plenty of people who love the prequels, despite my own disgust with hearing that. I know plenty of people who like the prequels more than the originals. I know it's a travesty, but it happens. The reason for this is that the times are different. People have their opinions and even if they are wrong, they're opinions.

So, the prequels are simply white noise to me. They didn't affect me, didn't bring about some kind of change. I didn't watch the screen and believe in this unbelievable universe. Instead it brought the harsh reality to my young mind that Star Wars wasn't real. It wasn't real.

It wasn't real.

Nothing could have prepared me for that disappointment. I was a lonely child, a nerd of nerds, a reader of novels at a time I should have been reading crappy little  pop-up dog books or whatever. "See Spot run (away from Darth Maul, what a terrible name)." I was holding onto Star Wars, putting it up as some kind of king of stories, of movies, of everything... and the day that I learned it was a broken series was the day I also learned that nothing in this world was perfect. I became cynical so long before I ever should have. I brought myself into horror, into other pursuits that were far removed from the atrocities of Star Wars. You think, my reader, that you have seen war crimes? No, not until you read some of the Star Wars novels, not until YOU UNDERSTAND the worst the world has to offer. Let me proceed, but I warn you, if you haven't been a big part of the Star Wars fandom or fanbase or whatever over the course of the last fifteen years or so, much of this will not make any sense to you. I speak of Yuuzhan Vong, New Jedi Orders, comics, Karen Traviss, the deaths of characters for convenience, and how so many characters never change, never evolve, never adapt, and... at eighty are just the same as they were at thirty. I talk of character assassination, galaxy destruction, the butchering of stories, and an absolutely broken fanbase that simultaneously praises and hates.

"Tell me a story of how greatness falls." That is the statement that initiated this writing, this "article", this diatribe on the good things that can turn so bad so quickly. It's not that the series fell from grace, or even that it broke apart just as it was on top. Instead it was a downward spiral. It was as if the series that was so dear to many of us was addicted to something terrible. Call it CGI, call it overdone and contrived plots, call it terrible romance plots, or fanfiction styled writing. Hell, call it what it is: a trainwreck. I loved Star Wars once, at a time when I could dream beyond the stars and see the world full of infinite possibilities. I used to think about what other wonderful worlds there were, if Luke ever found more Jedi, or if he truly would be the last. I used to think about what would happen now that the Emperor was dead and the Rebels would celebrating it up with a bunch of teddy bears. Would there be Ewok pilots? Would they have an embassy or something? What about Jabba's palace and all of his dancing girls?

What I'm saying is that the universe felt so large because it left me asking so many questions, but not caring about the answers. I can truly say that Star Wars is the series that gave me the desire to first start writing. It was also the series that sparked me to do this blog for the internet. I didn't want to blast the prequels or yell or rant or hate, I just wanted to be able to speak my mind, to say that I have been disappointed, fans of Star Wars have been disappointed. Some people may read this, may agree, may even like it, but I wish that people who had control over the franchise would read it. I wish that they could understand that Star Wars was never about gimmicks and crappy romances and appealing to the masses. It was a world of infinite possibilities. It was an action space fantasy about a ragtag group of rebels facing off against some terrible empire, even if the Empire seemed as okay as the rebels. Yes, some Imperials were bad like Tarkin and the Emperor, but most were simply regular guys. Some didn't even want to face off with the rebels. And the rebels probably had the same kinds of good and bad people too. Look, it created a realistic world where people acted like people and the universe made sense, not like the YOU ARE EITHER GOOD OR EVIL sense that the prequels gave to Star Wars.

Darth Vader wasn't evil, he just had different ideas. He disagreed with Obi-Wan and he disliked incompetence when his time was limited. He was focused and driven. Obi-Wan's term of describing him as "twisted" works well and fits. Then you look at Darth Maul. Yeah, not really feeling the complexities there. You can compare the bland and lackluster, almost confounding, General Grievous (What a name...) to Grand Admiral Thrawn from Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy of novels. How can you even compare the two characters? How can they even be seen as comparable at all? Yes, both are commanders of military things or whatever, but General Grievous is an absolute travesty of a character, whereas Grand Admiral Thrawn is a well done morally ambiguous "antagonist" to the main characters. He is both well-written and well thought out, which can be easily said for all of Zahn's characters, most of Michael Stackpole's characters, and Aaron Allston's characters in the X-Wing series before he became a big part of what is wrong with the Star Wars expanded universe.

So, this is my first part of an entire series analysis and criticism of Star Wars. I'm just getting started, giving you an introduction. I have no idea how many parts this will be, but next time I'll be focusing on where Return of the Jedi screwed over Star Wars, and the expanded universe stuff that came out until around the time the prequels came out. We're going to touch upon some incredibly awful parts of Star Wars, including Kevin J. Anderson, Barbara Hambly, The Crystal Star, Luke's love life, and the end of an age. Stay tuned...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Movie Appraisal: The Book of Eli (2010)

Here is a great example of the post-apocalyptic genre in film. I'm not saying that there aren't a lot of post-apocalyptic media that aren't good, but this movie altogether is very well done in almost all the ways it could be. It's a very well put together movie from beginning to end, showing that Mad Max-esque movies still have a place within our society and culture. It's still meaningful. Hell, it may have even more meaning than ever before. The end of civilization will always be meaningful. Most people have probably thought about it, probably considered what they would do if the world ended tomorrow. This is the kind of movie that shows what could happen after the end. I mean, with it now being 2012, when is a better time to enjoy the post-apocalyptic genre? I've been hearing since I was too little to understand that the Mayan calendar called for the end of an age this year. That always was pretty cool for me. Maybe it won't be the end of the world, but it's certainly something, wouldn't you say? So, yes, I do enjoy this genre when it is done well, and this movie is certainly a well put together film.

Now, the post-apocalyptic genre is very interesting. I'm a big fan of some of the stories involved. I basically hate all the "this is how the world ends" disaster films (ie 2012, Independence Day... etc.), but I love "after the end" films. This movie takes a lot from earlier movies and media of the genre, but also tends to hold its own in regards to story, characters, and filmography. Obvious parallels can be drawn here, again, with Mad Max, especially with many of the costumes, the cars, trucks, and motorcycles used throughout the movie. There are a few shout-outs and obvious influences from A Boy and His Dog, which is probably one of my favorites of the post-apocalyptic genre. This film shows a lot of similarities between the Fallout series of games. I mean, this could easily be Fallout: The Movie, because of how closely related this movie seems to be to the Fallout series. And I love the Fallout games, so it makes me like this movie even more.

V for Vendetta is another movie I thought about after I saw this film. The plot might not be exactly like it, and the setting is certainly all different, but the older male character taking the younger female character under his "wing" is a pretty obvious parallel. Both V and Eli have very obvious followings and neither really get to see where their labors will end up, while the younger women get to see what the future will bring, and possibly even get to lead the future in their own ways. Look, I saw parallels, all right? In general the movies feel very similar even if they aren't all that similar in general.

Blindness is a pretty huge theme in the movie, not just the blindness of the eyes, but blindness in many other ways. Blind faith, blind conviction, blind rage, blind paths, blind trust... the list can go on and on. I loved how far the film seemed to delve into the subject of blindness. Kind of obviously, sight blindness comes in a lot in the movie. At least one of the major characters in the film is blind, but the concrete blindness seems to parallel the blind faith of Eli (Denzel Washington), the blind and rage-inducing conviction of Gary Oldman's Carnegie, and the blind trust in Eli of Solara (Mila Kunis).

The script and the direction of the film was literally fantastic. I mean, no, the script was not anything incredibly special, but for a movie of this type it was poignant, meaningful, maybe even life-changing. I'm not a person who would call myself God's faithful, but even I had to pause after this film and wonder a little bit about what faith, even blind faith, would mean to me. It was like opening an old and creaky door, and, in general, it gave me a feeling of peace. And that's what this movie evokes: peace even in the end of the world, even while there are action scenes, death, misery, and all other things. There's an overall feeling of "this could be peaceful" and "it doesn't have to be this way if we don't want it to be." I like that. I like that a lot actually.

The contrasts in the filmography as directed by the Hughes brothers is stunning to watch. I love how the colors of the world seem to work. The high contrasts between the characters and the backgrounds, or certain features in the landscape really worked for me. Taking yourself away from all of that, you might just say, oh that's a mighty shiny sky, but it works for the style of this film. It makes it almost fantastic... almost religious in a weird sort of way, as if Eli is constantly followed by the light of God.

This brings me right into religious symbolism. I'm not going to go deeply into this, but I think it needs to be explored a little. This is a religious film, there's no going around that. Is it religious in a good way? In a bad way? Well, that's a much more complex answer. I think it was trying to show that religion can be good or bad. The way Carnegie wanted to show religion was quite obviously a bad way of using religion, but the way Eli seemed to explore religion seemed equally unhealthy throughout the film even if it was not as harmful. Eli kept the book and himself safe, even at the expense of others. How is that taking religion into account? He even says so himself towards the end of the film. One of the most striking scenes of this in the film is towards the beginning when a gang of post-apocalyptic bikers come and kill a man and rape the woman traveling with the man to death. And Eli knows what's going on. He realizes what will happen, and he justifies it to himself that it isn't his problem. He's right there, close enough to help, but he doesn't. The morality has shifted. It's not about helping others; it's about keeping oneself safe. It something that Eli, even as the good guy of the film, has forgotten. He doesn't think about others, not really, only himself, and that is a failure of society. He reads without doing, but that is his failure as a man. He develops throughout the course of the film, every bit as much as Solara does. It may not be as obvious. It may even be quite subtle, but he sees his own failings as a person. He sees where he screwed up, and in the end he tries to save Solara and it ends up eventually costing him his life. It is quite the road to redemption that he walked, but he did it because of the calling he had, because of what he felt was important. It's an incredibly complex moral issue, and it was an absolute pleasure to watch.

The movie has some great moments in it. I won't spoil them. I think the movie is good enough not to spoil, not to go around and say, man this is how it ended, isn't that neat? No, I'm going to encourage people to see the movie, but I can say that the movie is very well done. Certain scenes are incredibly memorable and the characters, like the characters from many other films, will remain with you. Is this the best post-apocalyptic movie of all time? No. Story of all time? No. Is it derivative? Certainly. But what it does, what it accomplishes is a new way of storytelling. It complicates factors, not just showing a good side and a bad side. There is not a single character in the movie that can be considered wholly evil. Everybody is simply trying to survive, get what they want or feel they need. Carnegie is obvious a big jerk, but he is a jerk who is trying to rally a community, maybe even a city, together. There is law and order under him, no mindless killing in his town, but is that better or worse? Yes, there is prostitution, and no, he doesn't seem to treat everybody well, but it seems as if most people are happier than they would be in the wasteland where cannibalism is king. Again, the morality of this movie is well done, and I think the characters are all very complex creatures.

Talking about characters has to lead me into talking about acting. I think the acting here is very good. Gary Oldman is obviously Gary Oldman. He's hamming it up like he almost always does. He's reminiscent of the Gary Oldman in The Fifth Element or in Léon: The Professional. It's kind of a pleasure watching him act even if he really is quite a hammy guy. Denzel Washington is the heart and soul of this movie. His acting carries so much weight here, and he's obvious, by far obviously, the man of the movie. He does such a great job in bringing the character of Eli to life, through little things: ticks, compulsions, desires, needs... Eli doesn't feel like a character, he feels like a man, and that is always fantastic. Mila Kunis also does such a good job in this film, even though she is very obviously overshadowed by the other two men. I liked her for the most part, and if we compare her character to Natalie Portman's in V for Vendetta, I have to admit that I prefer the job Mila Kunis does here, just like I preferred her in the crappy film, The Black Swan. Another actress I should mention is Jennifer Beals, who really shines as Solara's mother, Claudia, who also happens to be Carnegie's lover. She plays the part with a lot of dignity and grace, and, in general, fits well with the movie. I do feel that her character was the one that caused me to guess the ending of the movie though. I mean, it was pretty obvious what was going to happen after she turned up.

So, despite all of my praises, there are some negatives. The filmography is mostly very good, but the boat scene towards the end (you'll know which one I mean if you've seen the movie) is incredibly awkward to watch. The green screen is incredibly apparent and just took me right out of the movie as if I had never been in it. Honestly, the whole ending of the movie was a bit forced and overdone. Some parts of it I liked, but I simply thought it went on too long. I would have preferred a more ambiguous ending without some much time wasted on spooling around. But that could be my personal taste... even if I'm right. I also thought that the pacing could be incredibly strange at times. I mean, it worked really well early on, but once Eli gets to the town, the pacing gets weird. I wish that Eli would have been the only character that was followed around until Solara gets captured near the end of the film. That would have given it a much better pacing. It was jarring to be introduced so suddenly to characters that I didn't know after spending a good portion of the beginning of the movie with only Eli as our companion on the journey. Also, the character of Claudia really didn't have that much to do, so she did seem shoehorned into a few scenes, the shampoo scene (especially with how Carnegie treats her afterward) is an especially confusing one... as well as her bringing Eli food and water... although I guess that makes more sense if she has a good sense for people... or something? Again, I thought Jennifer Beals did a great job here, but the script itself seemed strange. Again, none of these negatives are going to push me into saying this is a bad movie by any stretch, but it does have some issues that keep it from being perfect and I feel as if I do have to mention them.

This movie is generally very good. If you like the post-apocalyptic genre, check this movie out, you won't be disappointed.