Monthly Archives: November 2011

To The Moon Review

[To The Moon

Developed by Kan Gao
Published by Freebird Games
ESRB: Not Rated – Contains Some Mild Language]

This Review Is Spoiler-Free

Let’s face it. I love video games as much as the next guy, but if we really want to see the medium move forward in maturity and complexity, developers will have to start expanding their scopes in storytelling and thematic material, or else we’ll be stuck in the glut of perpetually saving the princess and shooting brown people forever. And while we have made significant strides with games like Catherine, Heavy Rain, and Braid bringing us experiences unlike any other, we’ve still got a long ways to go. And it will be hard for new original ideas to come out of the woodwork when a game like Modern Warfare 3–the ultimate in gray, “realistic”, brown-people-massacring military pandering–is not only the fastest selling game of all time, but also the fastest selling entertainment item in general…ever.

Thankfully, however, the indie game department has allowed for anybody with a unique voice and a knack for programming to let their creative visions shine, with games like Braid, Limbo, and Bastion becoming mega-hits on XBLA and PSN, and small flash games like the works of Thomas Brush getting some recognition.

Today’s indie darling that wishes to expand the thematic material in video games is To The Moon, a game created with the on-the-cheap RPG Maker software, that tackles the story of two scientists who utilize the technology of implanting artificially crafted memories into the minds of elderly people in their deathbeds so they can “live” the desires they never had. To do this, Dr. Watts and Dr. Rosalyne must travel backwards, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-style, through the memories of the slowly dying Johnny Wyles to find the source of his desire to become an astronaut and go to the moon.

I hate to sound like a hipster douchebag, but I actually heard of To The Moon long before Phil Kollar’s excellent write-up. I didn’t see any trailers, all I saw of the game were some screenshots of the game and a detailed description of the game’s premise. And that was enough to sell me on it. Upon hearing the Kaufman-inspired premise and learning of the game’s emphasis on mature thematic material including mental illness, the relationship of an old couple being traced back to its origins all the way to childhood, and the harsh realities of life causing a man’s dreams to crumble before him, I was so in for this game. It was exactly what I wanted, a game that dealt with mature themes in a poignant way. Sure, it was made with RPG Maker, but I can deal with gameplay limitations so long as the story is good.

Now, upon completing the short, four hour experience, I am incredibly mixed. As much as I’d like to recommend this game to anyone due to its ambition and its high-points, I must acknowledge that To The Moon is a maddening game. There were times when I was playing one of the most emotionally affecting, heartfelt, and achingly sentimental interactive stories I’ve ever experienced, but there were also times when I was being subjected to ridiculous amounts of schmaltz, horrendous dialogue, and incredibly out-of-place webcomic humor that would’ve even made Tim Buckley cringe.

Let me give you fair warning, dear reader, that this review is not going to critique the gameplay of To The Moon, for not only is it not the point of the experience, but also because it is so practically non-existent and unobtrusive that it isn’t worth critiquing. Since the game wishes to be treated as an interactive story, I am going to be criticizing that story the same way I would the story of a film, novel, or television show: With depth, regard to all of its themes, and deep analyzation. If you think I’m being too harsh on the game, remember that I’m giving this game the same level of thought I would any other work of art, which is more than can be said for a lot of today’s gaming journalism these days.

With that in mind…I don’t even know where to begin…

When I said that there were moments of genuine emotion in To The Moon, I meant it. When the game decides to fire on all-cylinders with its subject matter, it can be powerful, to say the least. The way it depicts the relationship between John and River is heartfelt, tragic, and most importantly of all, feels genuine and real. Everything involving these two characters are the game at its strongest. To me, it reminded me of movies like The Notebook and Atonement, films that are incredibly sappy and overtly sentimental, but still ultimately work because you can buy into the core relationship.

However, let’s compare To The Moon to another movie that might not seem appropriate for comparison: Donnie Darko. Many have described Richard Kelly’s mind-bending directorial debut as “one of the greatest teen movies ever…with a bunch of sci-fi bullshit thrown in”. And if that is true for Darko, then To The Moon is one of the best video game romances ever…with a bunch of sci-fi bullshit thrown in. Except while the sci-fi bullshit worked in Donnie Darko‘s favor because it was enigmatically ambiguous, the sci-fi bullshit works against To The Moon because it seems slightly unnecessary.

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However, let’s get to the root of the sci-fi bullshit…sorry, I’ll stop referring it by that term. Firstly, while the interactions between John and River feel genuine and heartfelt, if a bit on the maudlin side of things, the interactions between the two scientists, Dr. Rosalyne and Dr. Watts, are contrived and unfunny. The two provide commentary on the many different memories that they sift through, which leads to some “hilarious” banter between the the live-wire Watts, and the straight-faced Rosalyne, who has to put up with her pill-popping, insensitive blowhard of a partner. There were moments where I’d be incredibly moved by a scene of John consoling to River, which would then be interrupted by a “witty” remark that Watts makes about landing on his ass after falling off a lighthouse, or even worse, references to Street Fighter, The Incredible Hulk, and Dragonball. It felt like strips of a bad webcomic were being spliced into frames of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which is the equivalent of Schindler’s List being periodically interrupted by an out-of-left-field musical number.

Then there’s the sci-fi plot itself. If Donnie Darko had a brilliant set-up for its sci-fi elements that was marred by an ambiguous pay-off (Though I personally loved Darko‘s open-ended conclusion, just for the record), then To The Moon’s sci-fi subplot is a haphazard set-up that doesn’t really kick in until the final third of the game. Most of the game doesn’t even really involve too much of the concept of implanting artificial memories into a dying old man. Instead, rather, it opts for using the concept as a framing device for portraying the relationship of River and John in a backwards, Memento style way, slowly revealing clues of what caused certain things in the relationship to form. Which is all well and good, except it makes the sci-fi subplot more of an irritating distraction than a fluid component in the grand scheme of things. To be perfectly honest, the game would’ve been better off if it didn’t focus on the sci-fi aspect at all. If Memento can teach us anything here, it’s that you don’t need a memory machine to play the story backwards. Simply focus on what makes the game unique, i.e. it’s focus on an on-going relationship between John and River, and the extraneous sci-fi stuff can be saved for a story that suits it better.

The concept doesn’t truly pay-off until an admittedly devilishly clever twist involving a tragic incident in Johnny’s childhood that finally takes advantage of the memory-implanting concept and brings up some sweet revelations involving the origins of Johnny’s relationship with River, and his desire to go to the moon.

Unfortunately, however, this satisfying pay-off is for naught, because it leads to an ending that ultimately rings hollow. What should’ve been a moving emotional climax turns into something of a cheat because (aside from a ridiculously cheesy, saccharine vocal song) it refuses to acknowledge the moral implications of its concept. I haven’t compared the film to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind yet, which is definitely one of the game’s biggest influences, so I might as well start here.

Without spoiling either the film or the game, In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, writer Charlie Kaufman acknowledges the implications that something as severe and damaging as memory erasure could do, and makes a point to show the viewer the true importance of memory: That even despite all the bad times, they make us stronger, and provide lessons on how to get through life. The end of To The Moon, in comparison, doesn’t acknowledge the implications of giving this man false memories. I can see it working like the ending of, say, Tim Burton’s Big Fish, where it’s an amalgamation of all of the protagonists dreams and desires communing in one place to say one last good-bye, but it doesn’t work on that level either because it’s told through the perspective of the annoying scientists rather than getting more intimate with John (those last 7 words were poorly put together, I’m sorry).

What does end up working in the end, however, is the final shot of the game, which I will say is downright brilliant, not only because it hearkens back to what made the game good in the first place (i.e. John and River’s relationship) but because it actually does acknowledge the implications, it acknowledges that the memories implanted into John’s head are a lie, it brings in an undercurrent of heartbreak and melancholy that felt fittingly emotional, and it does all this and more with such a simple, beautifully executed visual cue, without any dialogue, that is nothing short of brilliant.

Despite all of my gripes with the game, I hate to make it sound like it’s bad. There truly were moments of real heart and emotion in the game that I’ll remember forever. However, there were also some other good things that I forgot to bring up…

The soundtrack (excluding a previously mentioned cheesy, saccharine vocal song) is lovely, teetering on the edge of maudlin, but still grounded in the game’s rich atmosphere. The visuals, despite being made with RPG Maker, can be stunning at certain times. One bit involving star-gazing was particularly beautiful. And one thing that most people might miss, the world building is very smart, with little things hinting at other aspects of the game’s near-future universe that are clever and even plausible. One detail that I really liked was when Watts is describing the game of Whack-A-Mole to Rosalyne, who’s never heard of it before because “it was a great game to blow-off steam before FPS was invented”.

But let’s do something I haven’t done yet: Defend something that I’m positive some people will complain about. Many people will describe the game’s attempts at tugging heartstrings to be “sappy”, “saccharine”, “maudlin”, “forced”, and other words that I used to describe the dreadful vocal performance that’s near the end of the game. To that complaint, I must reply with the ever so popular, “Yeah. And…?”

Yes, the game is ridiculously sentimental, there’s no denying that. I did, after all, compare it to The Notebook. But what makes it work is that it comes from a very genuine place in the creator’s heart. You can just tell that this story clearly means something to whoever it was that wrote the game, even the references to Animorphs and the terrible Street Fighter and Final Fantasy references point that out. You know what else is overtly sentimental and sappy? Forrest Gump. But it works because of how earnest the entire thing is. As sentimental as the game gets, at no point does it ever feel disingenuous.

Final Verdict: To The Moon is an emotional roller coaster ride. When you’re not being bombarded in some bad dialogue, unfunny humor, and obtuse sci-fi trappings, the game is an emotionally satisfying experience that, despite its many flaws, deals with issues that I don’t think any other game, indie or not, has ever dealt with as thoughtfully before. Is it worth the $12? Well…no, it’s incredibly short, doesn’t have much replay value aside from experiencing the story again, and it still has glaring flaws, but if it is ever on sale, or part of a humble indie bundle, I strongly suggest you at least give it a chance. An imperfect, but lovely little game.

That is all.

See ya next time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for the 20th time. You had the whole universe pegged, Clementine…

NOTE: There is a post-credits epilogue in the game that suggests that To The Moon is only episode one of what could potentially be a series of games following the memory-implanting exploits of Dr. Watts and Dr. Rosalyne by introducing what is, quite frankly, an interesting but dumb twist. Considering these two characters are the weakest parts of the game, and the twist doesn’t offer a whole lot of info on what could happen next, I’d suggest keeping your excitement levels cautiously low until more information is revealed.

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Skyrim First Impressions

Well, Skyrim is out, and everyone has already overused the whole “I was gonna do such and such today, but Skyrim is taking over my life” shtick to its bludgeoning point to the point that it’s officially unfunny anymore. To give you guys some backstory, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Oblivion. I couldn’t get into it for some reason. It might’ve been the dated graphics, the fact that there were clearly only 6 voice actors in the game, the fact that I simply just don’t give a damn about fantasy in general,the repetitive, easy-as-piss combat.

I went back to it for a second chance, and I was definitely able to get more into it a second time if you really get into the quest and soak in on how massive the scope is, but it all paled in comparison to what I thought was a superior Bethesda RPG: Fallout 3. Fallout 3 had a few of the same problems Oblivion had, but it was so easy to get lost into its wasteland, and the VATS slow-motion kills managed to never get old, and you really had a feel that each thing you did impacted the world around you.

So Skyrim was announced last year during the VGAs, and while I was definitely excited for it, I wasn’t as pumped as the rest of the community. Oh sure, I thought all the new mechanics they announced were major improvements over Oblivion, and I loved the demos I saw, but I was unsure whether it would suck me in the same way Fallout 3 did.

So after playing the game religiously for two days straight, I’m confident in saying that Skyrim outdoes every single game Bethesda has ever made. This is to Bethesda, what The Tree of Life was to Terrence Malick this year: Their entire careers have been building up to this point, and now that they’re here, I’m proud to say that, as of now, Skyrim is my GOTY. Hands down.

Rather than going into a full review (It’s impossible to review a game this massive only a couple days after release), I’m going to describe some of the things that happened in my time with Skyrim.

So, I knew from the get-go that I wanted to be a stealthy Khajiit Thief/Archer for a couple reasons. 1.) I find anthropomorphic animal designs cool when they’re not made by yiff-ers, 2.) being stealthy and taking your time with your sneak attacks is much more satisfying than going in guns swords/spells blazing on all cylinders, 3.) The easiest way to get rich in a Bethesda game is fencing all the stolen stuff you’ve knicked, and 4.) I didn’t want to play any of the humanoid looking races because of my usual misanthropic attitudes against humanity (Also, in any game you can be a human, but this is the only game where you can be a fucking dinosaur or a cat-person).

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The game begins with you, in typical Elder Scrolls fashion, being a prisoner, only with a slight twist. Whereas the intro in Oblivion was very representative of the game as a whole, Skyrim’s introduction isn’t the best representation of what the game would be like since it’s so heavily scripted, and the game’s best moments are always improvised or created by the player.

Once the world does open up, however, it captures how I felt when I stepped out of the Vault in Fallout 3 where it seemed like the possibilities were limited only to your imagination and the game’s code, and you were free to roam around in your little playground and do whatever you wanted to do and be whoever you wanted to be. And this game does that better than any other Bethesda game to date.

For starters, the graphics are actually good this time around. Nothing’s really that wrong with Fallout 3 (Though Oblivion certainly has its graphical hiccups), but the animations were awkward, the environments in both games had a tendency of being repetitive, conversations with other NPCs put you in that awkward zoomed-in uncanny-valley talk that was always creepy, etc., etc. This game, however, is insanely detailed. While Oblivion felt like a very generic fantasy setting, Skyrim actually has a personality and atmosphere to it that sets it apart. Everything from the mist rolling from rivers, to the butterflies that you are able to catch and use as alchemy ingredients, are all filled with the utmost attention to detail, and really instill a sense of wonder in your brain holes.

One of my main problems with Oblivion was that for a game that really wanted to immerse you in its world, it was one of the least immersive games ever made. Fallout 3 was better at immersing you, but still had a lot of game-breaking bugs and glitches on release. Skyrim, of course, has the occasional bug or glitch, but none of them have ever been game-breaking yet. And the game is so good at immersing the player through mood and atmosphere and that sense of wonder and possibility that the minor glitches are forgivable, making for Bethesda’s first truly immersive experience.

Happening on the nearest village, I was given a quest (Which you’ve all seen in the demo) to catch a thief and retrieve a golden claw for a merchant. Upon doing this, I accidentally stumble upon a dragonstone that teaches me some mythical word. After that strange experience, I give the claw back, make my way to Whiterun to advance the main quest, whereupon I’m at odds with a traditional fire-breathing dragon. While the dragons have been heavily touted in the game’s marketing, this battle was piss-easy thanks to numerous distractions from the other soldiers, all dying for me while I focused all my arrows at the hulking, scaly beast.

Upon killing it, I’m given the power to “shout”, and use the dragon language as a power, which is beyond satisfying to use, even though the power itself is very basic.

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So, now that I have my shouts, I take a carriage ride to Riften in order to join the thieve’s guild, make a crapload of money stealing and fencing other people’s things, get some awesome specialty thieve’s guild armor, light enough for sneaking but strong enough for fights, etc. I soon get a hang of how flexible Bethesda has made the leveling system, and my thief becomes a hybrid of the typical thief abilities like archery, sneak, lock-picking, and pick-pocketing; but added into the mix is an emphasis on one-handed weapons, and destruction magic. This is truly a game that lets you play the way you want to play.

One of the thieve’s guild jobs I get requires me to go to a city named Markarth. At first, it seems like I’m just going to be doing just another heist mission, but as soon as I enter the city walls, I realize things are going to be much different than expected.

I’m going to start spoiling some cool shit that’s better experienced when discovered by yourself, so before I describe my experiences in Markarth, I’d advise anyone who’s reading this and owns the game to go and visit it as soon as possible, and you will be treated to an interesting sight the second you walk in.

So here’s a detailed account of what happened at Markarth…

The first time you enter Markarth, you witness a man randomly stabbing a woman by a jewlery vendor, and then running away babbling about “The Forsworn”. Then, a mysterious man gives you a note to meet at the Shrine of Talos where he tells you there’s a conspiracy. On my way to the Shrine, I overhear this guy saying that someone has been performing Daedric magic in a house, and he saw nobody leaving it. When one of the citizens refuses to investigate the crime scene with him, I decide to go with him.

At first, it seems simple enough, until all of a sudden, everything gets all Poltergeist, all the furniture, pots, pans, potion vials, etc. are flying at me trying to attack the two of us, and a ghost forces me to kill the man I was investigating with. I’m then led to a shrine that imprisons me in a cage, where some Daedric being orders me to find a priest to finish a ritual of some sort. I decide to put that on hold to investigate the Forsworn Conspiracy quest.

When I’m finally allowed to exit the Paranormal Activity house, I go to the shrine, back to my initial objective, where I’m told that the Forsworn conspiracy starts. Investigating clues behind the murderer and the victim, I’m led into a treasury house where a man who knows something about the victim is eating in his room, when all of a sudden, everyone inside is freakin’ possessed (or they were part of the Forsworn the whole time) and begins attacking all of us.

After fending myself, I get to the information about the killer, who might have been possessed as well, in which I’m led to an elderly man’s house named Nespos. Talking with Nespos and saying that I know all about his plan to bring back the Forsworn, he tells me that everyone inside the house is actually a Forsworn member, and the second I end the conversation they’re all going to kill me.

After fending them all off, I go back to the guy to tell him what I learned, when it turns out the guards are in on the whole conspiracy (Paid plentifully by the leader of the Forsworn), and I can either a.) fight the guards or b.) quietly get thrown into prison. Seeing how my health potions and healing items and such were all completely buttfucked by the previous encounters I had, it was either get into prison and find a way to escape later, or die.

So, I’m in prison, and a completely new questline is given to me in which I have to conspire with all the other prisoners for an escape plan. Part of this plan is trading Skooma for a shiv, killing off one of the labor prisoners who’s not of use to the head-honcho anymore, etc. Now, the plan is in motion.

And these are all just the side quests.

Even the god damn side quests are given variety and personality. You can really feel Bethesda putting their all into this game, pulling no punches and going all out with their potential, and it doesn’t disappoint. At the time of this writing, I’m still stuck in the prison and ready to execute the escape plan, but even though I’ve probably done about 30 quests or possibly even more, I still have about 30 more still waiting to be completed. The amount of content in this game is mind-numbingly huge.

All in all, I’m just completely in love with the game, I can see myself spending years playing it and still not seeing everything the game has to offer, and don’t even get started on DLC. It’s a massive game that deserves all the praise it’s getting, and it is now my new addiction. If you start seeing a slump in my grades this school year, it’ll probably strongly correlate with the amount of time I spend with this game.

That is all.

See ya next time. Now if you’ll excuse me, FUS RO DAH.


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Tower Heist Movie Review

[Tower Heist

Directed by Brett Ratner
Starring: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, and Matthew Broderick
MPAA: PG-13 – For Language and Sexual Content]

Well, the reason why there wasn’t a review last weekend was because I was at a college field trip at San Diego. But fear not, people who actually follow my work for some weird reason, for I have seen a new release and plan to review it for you all. The only problem with that is the movie in question was so boring and forgettable that writing a review will be a challenge. But hey, a good challenge should never be turned down, unless that challenge is who can rape the most orphans in a school bus, so I accept.

So, Tower Heist is a something something about some guys doing stuff and things…god damnit, where’s that Wikipedia page, I need help…

Okay, so Tower Heist begins with a man named Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) who manages the help for a gigantic building known as The Tower (Which, apparently, is owned by the Crackdown 2 naming committee). The man who lives on the penthouse of The Tower, named Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) is caught attempting a Ponzi scheme. Because of this, all of the employees’ investments are pretty much screwed over as a result. Shaw is put under house arrest in his penthouse until he can be proven innocent/guilty, but Kovacs wants to give the employees the money they damn well deserve. So he enlists the help of a criminal known only as Slide (Eddie Murphy) to help them conduct a robbery on The Tower, and get payback. And so a heist movie ensues…

If anything about Tower Heist is interesting, it isn’t so much the movie itself as it was the story of how it was made and a certain…scandal that erupted over Comcast.

BACK STORY TIME! The original concept, which was pitched by Eddie Murphy himself, involved an all-African-American cast robbing the Trump Tower. Before you know it, the whiteys came in and fucked Murphy’s shit up, and it eventually became an almost entirely different movie about a bunch of middle-class white people (with their 2 crazy, black sidekicks) robbing an even richer white person who has no regard for said middle class–this way, the incredibly thick audiences can still root for the thieves while still having fun with the whole heist scenario.

Then there’s the whole Comcast deal, in which Universal actually wanted to release the movie 3 weeks after its theatrical opening via home-viewing through Comcast’s on-demand system. There’s nothing entirely wrong with this idea. It’s just that they planned to have it cost a buttfucking $59.99. Yup, they expected people to pay $59.99 for one movie.

Combine that with the fact that it’s directed by Brett Ratner, who’s never made a great movie (even his enjoyable movies aren’t really memorable or worth anyone’s time), and there was really nothing that could possibly make me want to see this film, even though I like Ben Stiller, and I like Eddie Murphy (When he’s in full-on Eddie Murphy mode, not when he’s on Pluto Nash/Meet Dave mode).

But hey, let’s stop stalling by talking about the behind-the-scenes crap (I seriously was stalling) and let’s actually start talking about the movie itself which I still barely remember.

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So…I didn’t even really want to see this movie, in fact, this was one of those rare cases where I was legitimately forced to view it (It was part of the College trip, and the supervisors didn’t want anyone to get out of their sight, so it was either watching it and having a review for you or attempting to fall asleep amidst the super-loud surround sound theater). So what happened was this: The logo popped up, I realized the mess I got myself into, and then just thought to myself, “Okay, movie. All you have to do is be entertaining. If you can do just that, that one simple thing that a heist movie should do, then I won’t strangle myself, okay?”

So you shouldn’t be surprised to see that, by the rope burn markings on my neck, I was absolutely bored with Tower Heist the minute it started. There really isn’t much to say about this movie other than it’s just really, really boring. It’s a pretty bad movie. It’s not offensively bad, but I still find it offensive in that cynical, Hollywood type of way, where the people who made this clearly thought that slapping on an A-list cast, but without giving them any real jokes or material to work with, was enough to call it a day.

The plot and characters are about as paper-thin as…well, paper. What makes it even more frustrating is that the seeds of an interesting movie are here. There’s a backstory that’s hinted at between Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy’s characters in which they actually knew each other as kids, but ended up in completely opposite ends of the social spectrum. This is never brought up again. Eddie Murphy’s character and Casey Affleck’s character double cross the other heroes of the film, but then literally join back up with the protagonists instantaneously. The fact that they were switched from good guy to bad guy to good guy…is never brought up again. Matthew Broderick is a Wall-Street expert who is evicted from his apartment and becomes homeless. This is never brought up again.

Hell, there are a lot of economic themes bubbling underneath the Bernie Madoff-inspired concept that any American audience member, mainstream or not, can identify with…and the movie does nothing with any of them.

Okay, I get it. Brett Ratner is one of those “turn off your brain” type directors who’s more into letting the audience “have a good time” rather than really engaging the intellect, but some effort and thought needs to be put into a film. It is entirely possible for a really fun movie to have a lot of smart themes and ideas underneath it. Look at Inception. It’s a smart movie, but it’s also got amazing action and a good heist in it. And it made somewhere north of $800 million at the box office.

The thing is, good actors, interesting characters, and interesting themes can still make a fun movie, but it can also make that fun movie even richer and more compelling. It maddens me when I hear that people find Drive boring because of its Sunday-stroll pacing, when it has crazy talented actors like Ryan Gosling and Carrey Mulligan doing some of their best work, a great visual look and style, an awesome bubbling tension, and even some great action sequences: All of these things can still gain the audience’s interest and attention, but instead, everyone decides to act lazy and not even pay attention to THAT kind of stuff.

See? I just went off-topic and you probably didn’t even really care that much. Okay, back to the actual movie:

If there is one thing that the movie has going for it, it’s Eddie Murphy going back to pure Eddie Murphy mode. While I found the movie boring for the most part, Eddie Murphy gave the film a much needed injection of personality to keep me from falling asleep. Though, to be fair, it wasn’t that all of Eddie Murphy’s jokes and scenes were any better. It’s just that his delivery was actually funny. So yeah, it wasn’t really so much that the jokes were funny, but that the way he said his lines was pretty funny. Still not much to celebrate about.

The actual heist is beyond disappointing. It takes a lot of effort to screw up a heist sequence in a movie. The thing is, there are a lot of factors that go into a heist, and any sane, intelligent human being would acknowledge those factors. Brett Ratner doesn’t. The characters aren’t remotely smart enough to handle a heist as big as the Trump Tower (I know it’s called The Tower in the movie, but shut up, it’s basically the Trump Tower), and the film doesn’t make it convincing that these people would even remotely succeed at it, either.

The pay-off has some interesting ideas for fun heist sequences such as moving a car from a penthouse to the bottom of the building, but somehow manages to make even that boring. I honestly couldn’t believe it. It was actually pretty hard to watch. It was like watching Homer Simpson making cereal with just corn-flakes and milk, yet Homer is so god damn stupid that it somehow spontaneously combusts into fire.

In fact, that’s a good summation of the entire movie, so I might as well skip on over to the…

Final Verdict: There are some really funny actors in this movie, a good premise, and some interesting ideas that could be utilized in this picture, and director Brett Ratner is so untalented that he simply can’t do ANYTHING with them. I know, it sounds like I genuinely despise this movie, but I don’t really. I just find it incredibly forgettable, bland, and downright boring. What I do despise is the Hollywood “I don’t give a fuck” mentality that was put into the making of this picture, and how it was able to screw things up even with promising things for the movie to take advantage of. While Eddie Murphy (and even Gabourey Sibide, surprisingly enough) do have some funny moments, it simply isn’t enough to save this movie from…

…you know what, I already forgot what I was doing here. I’m going to make a sandwich.

See ya next time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to call up Lacuna Inc. to erase all my memories of this movie. I’ve already forgotten most of it, so why have it pop back up again? Bye!

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