Building The Raid

4 05 2016

TR3

For over a year now, it has become evidently clear that there are 2 things I really like. One (given by the status of how much time I have played on it) of them is the PC Game Prison Architect (by Introversion Software). The other one (given by how much I have talked about it) is the Indonesian Action Film The Raid. As a fan of both I thought it might be fun to combine the two. Now, for those of you who know what the two things involve, you may be wondering how I combine a game about building Prisons with an Action film series that mostly takes place in an urban setting. Well, that answer is pretty easy to answer as it happens. Quite a lot of the first act of The Raid 2 takes place in a Prison. Basically, during the first act, there is a fight in the prison yard, when taking a look at the shots surrounding the yard, such as the shape of the prison surrounding the yard, plus the scene where Rama (Iko Uwais) is inside a prison cell, such small details like that gave me plenty of ideas as how to construct a prison in Prison Architect to look like that Prison.

One of the main ideas with a game like Prison Architect is to let your mind flow and almost make a work of art, but seeing as building the prison is only half the battle as you get caught up in prison Management and Administration also, I thought that building a prison based on a Prison I saw in a film would be a good idea. I thought that such shapes and designs could help me come up with something relatively basic, but also help me in the running of a prison on the Large Map game setting. Well after 3 attempts; I have come to the conclusion that it’s not as straight forward as it sounds. Let me explain. Designing prisons based on ones in either real life or even a film as it is probably a real prison, does not mean that something in the real world is going to work in a game, not to forget that it’s just a design, and that it does not mean also that it will equate to the management and administration of a prison too. Those kinds of things come down to service quality, not bricks and mortar.

Prison Admin

On my first attempt to build The Raid, I started out normally. By this I mean I started designing out the look and shape of the prison using the in-game planning tool. This acts like something as like a blueprint sketch, where you can plan out where the walls and objects within your prison are going to go before you start building them. As I wanted to get it right, that was the best Idea. I planned out where Cells were going to be, where showers, solitary, yard, canteens, and other various rooms were going to be, and then I gradually built it bit by bit. In the game, you can acquire grants that provide you with money for completion of a task. It’s a useful feature as the first few prisons you build in the game are likely to have the use of them as money to begin with is short. When a prison is complete you can then go and sell it, and receive money in aid of constructing your next prison. Well, having done quite a few prisons by this point, I had quite a lot to use. In the end, when I did complete the prison, I was nearly out of usable grants, but from what I remember I still had plenty of ownership of my prison. One other way of making money you see is to sell shares in your prison for large amounts of cash, this will reduce your overall ownership of the prison, but it’s a great way of making a lot of money really fast. The other way of doing it quickly is to open your prison early and receive cash injections for the arrival of inmates. Anyway, by the time I thought it was complete; I had near to no money at all or ways to get money. And then things got worse. A fire broke out, and it just engulfed an area of my prison that was strangely made out of rock. Prisoners now had an easy escape route, plus I had no money to fix it, so I abandoned that Prison in the hope that one day I would learn from my mistakes and build a better version.

The Raid 2

Well, recently, back in about February, on the final night of BBC Three as it happens, after a while of not playing this game, I decided to re-install it. After a few games and time to try out some of its new elements such as women prisoners and a finally working Execution facility I decided to try and rebuild The Raid. I went through the same old thing again; design then build bit by bit. One thing about this time I remember though was that I was able to secure a large amount of money and get a lot done before opening it. However, I have sort of forgotten what happened, but given the pictures I took, I believe it had something to do with a Riot. If you look at the canteen area on the below picture, you can see a large area shaded Red, that shows that in that room a riot is taking place, so it’s sort of more like The Raid films, but not exactly great for prison designing. And given by how much money I had, I can bet I was not able to survive. I think in the end, I gave up. I did not stop playing or uninstall the game; I just deleted that save file and start all over again.

The Raid 2 Riot

So, with my having yet another go at building The Raid, I played a few more games in the hope of building up to that again, well I have had one more go. I did things differently this time however. Given by the success I have discovered in imprisoning women as they appear to not riot as much as Men, I thought I would give it a go as a women’s prison. Same thing again, designed it by sketching it out, and then built it from the ground up. This time however, I did not have as much money, so I had to be quick when I did have money. I slowly but surely built up the first bit, and it was going relatively ok.

The Raid 3

Then a riot broke out, and another if my memory is correct. It became clear, that building The Raid was never going to be an easy task. Over the last few games I had actually come up with new ideas on how to design a prison and those ones actually worked out ok, but as the design for this one was so much different, it was not going to be as straight forward. I tried to do things differently by having two separate large canteens instead of one big one, but it was becoming ever clearer, that this Raid was going to plummet before it was even near finished. So just before I wrote this post up, I sold it, and deleted the save before uninstalling the game. Well, I have played on it for nearly 200 hours now (189 to be exact, my most played game on Steam), so maybe it’s time to move on and try something else for a bit. I am not a sore loser or anything, it’s just clear to me that building The Raid time and time again is probably not going to work.

The Raid 3

If anything, this project has taught me, never to design anything in a game based on something in real life. They are two different realities, life and video games, and it’s clear the two are not meant to mix (not unless I get re-inspired when The Raid 3 comes out). Thinking about it, the signs should have been clear. I mean, how many times Video Games and Movies mixed…..have and came out positively. Not to sway your opportunities if you want to try to build The Raid, give it ago, let me know how you get on.

The Raid 3

Now, let’s end on a reflective piece of music.

GENEPOOL (please have a read of my review of The Raid).

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A Dying Man’s Demand – The Wolverine

24 10 2015

The Wolverine (20th Century Fox - 2013)

What is it like to be alone? I am not talking about being alone for a couple of hours, or away from home, no, being alone for great lengths of time, days, weeks, months or even years. No human interaction, just living with the thoughts going through your head. The things that you must dwell on, the beliefs you have, the reasons as to why you are like this. Then imagine, that out of nowhere someone comes looking for you, and offers you a way out, will you take it?

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Released in 2013 by 20th Century Fox, Directed by James Mangold and Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner; The Wolverine is the 6th film in the X-Men film series, and the second film to feature Wolverine as the central character, instead of the entire X-Men team. While it could be considered to be a sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Wolverine (thankfully) makes no mention to that film, and instead works more as an entirely standalone film. The film’s story is based on the Japanese story saga featured in Wolverine’s own comic series, but also includes references to previous films in the series, namely X-Men: The Last Stand where Logan is struggling to cope with the loss of Jean Grey.

In 1945, Logan (Hugh Jackman) is being kept as a POW in Nagasaki Japan when the Nuclear Bomb is dropped. As the bomb gets closer to him, Logan rescues Army Officer Ichiro Yashida (Ken Yamamura), sheltering him from the blast and nuclear fallout, healing almost instantly. In the present day, Logan is living alone in the Yukon Mountains, tormented by dreams of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) who he was forced to kill. One night, while getting retribution for the death of a Bear, Logan is found by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a mutant who can see people’s deaths. She asks him to come to Japan to see Yashida who is about to die of old age. Although reluctant, Logan goes to Japan and meets Yashida’s son Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada) and granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto). After being given a wash and haircut, Logan goes on to meet Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) who is now a very rich man and head of Yashida Industries, one of the biggest companies in Japan. He tells Logan that he wants his ability to heal handed over to him so that he can live on forever, and Logan can be finally rid of his immortality. Logan refuses claiming it’s a curse and that Yashida doesn’t really want it. During the night, Yashida’s physician Dr. Green (Svetlana Khodchenkova), also a mutant better known as Viper, attacks Logan; he dismisses it as a dream, but wakes up to hear that Yashida has died.

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Logan attends the funeral for Yashida which is watched over by archer Kenuichio Harada (Will Yun Lee), and Mariko’s Fiancé; Noburo Mori (Brian Tee). Suddenly the funeral is attacked by Yakuza men who try to kidnap Mariko. They shoot Logan, who suddenly can’t heal from his injuries. He manages to get his strength together and runs after the Yakuza soldiers, and rescue Mariko. Once they have some distance from them, Mariko tries to make her own way home, but Logan follows her onto a bullet train, attacks some men sent to look for Mariko, and then checks both him and Mariko into a Love Hotel. During the night, after seeing a vision of Jean, he collapses, and is operated on by a vet who manages to heal him of his injuries. Curious as to what is going on, he follows Mariko to her home in Nagasaki where she reveals that in a few days’ time, she will become head of Yashida Industries. Back at the Yashida residence, Shingen is desperately trying to look for Mariko, while Yukio keeps an eye on him. In Tokyo, Harada is revealed to be working for Dr. Green, who desperately wants him to find Logan. Back in Nagasaki, Logan settles into the life of the village, and finds where he was kept when the bomb struck, remembering his time with Yashida. Slowly both he and Mariko fall for each other. The following morning, Mariko is captured by Yakuza. Logan goes in pursuit, but is still hindered by his sudden inability to heal. The men get away with Mariko, but Logan interrogates one of them.

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Yukio arrives to inform Logan, that she has seen how he dies. They go to Tokyo where Logan confronts Noburo who reveals that he has conspired with Shingen to kill Mariko, because Yashida has given control of the company to Mariko, and not him. Mariko is taken to Shingen who ordered the hit on her, but before he can kill her, his residence is attacked by Harada and his ninja’s who take Mariko away with them. Logan and Yukio arrive at the residency, where Logan uses Yashida’s old bed to discover that Dr. Green has implanted something near his heart, preventing him from healing. He performs open heart surgery on himself, when Shingen appears. Yukio attacks Shingen to defend Logan, who succeeds in removing the thing near his heart. Now able to heal again, Logan attacks and kills Shingen.

Logan heads for the village of Yashida’s birth, where Mariko has been taken too. Logan is captured by Harada’s ninja’s, and is strapped to a machine he can’t get out of. Dr. Green reveals that she wants to remove Logan’s healing factor from him and plans to remove his claws using an electromechanical suit of Japanese armour made out of Adamantium called the Silver Samurai. Believing he is working in the best interest of Mariko, Harada tries to prevent her from helping Logan, but she manages to help Logan get out of the machine before the Silver Samurai succeeds in taking off Logan’s claws. Harada and Logan fight the machine, which succeeds in cutting some of Logan’s claws off before killing Harada. Yukio arrives before fighting and eventually killing Dr. Green. The Silver Samurai, although damaged, still manages to remove all of Logan’s claws and begins extracting Logan’s healing factor. At this moment Logan discovers that the Silver Samurai is Yashida, not dead, but alive and begins to feel new life as Logan’s healing is transferred to him. Mariko however, uses Logan’s claws like daggers to disable her grandfather, allowing Wolverine to use his natural bone claws to defeat the Samurai. Succumbing to his encounter, Logan has another encounter with Jean. She asks him to stay, but now believing he has a reason to stay alive tells her No. A few days later, Mariko is made CEO of Yashida industries and bids a sad farewell to Yukio, and then Logan who she wants to stay, still having feelings for him. Yukio decides to stay with Logan as his bodyguard and they both depart.

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The Wolverine has an interesting story and setting. It’s not like other Super Hero movies in that there is some great villain with a devastating plan to conquer the universe. Even more strangely it’s a very different setting as compared to other films in the X-Men film series. What has been founded about the other films in the series is that the main plot characteristic that flows from one film to the next, even if it’s not the main plot, is the story of Mutant’s fighting for freedom from a world that hates them. The Wolverine does make mention of this, but not all the time. Neither does it contain an arch super villain. It’s rather grounded and surrounds a group of characters which are all anchored down by one other. The setting and story of the film is that of Logan having to live with something he has done. The Death of Jean Grey, something that he was directly responsible for, but because of his feelings towards her and that he did it for a reason, not in cold blood, he is finding it hard to live on by himself, and being immortal he has no choice but to do that. So what happens? He gets dragged into a very different world, one that wants him, for something he knows nothing about. It’s not that he has walked into it, but rather, it wants him. What keeps him there though is an interesting idea. He doesn’t necessarily need to remain there, he doesn’t even want to, but something happens to him, that causes him to stay. This then explodes in your face and a story gets told, and a plot unravels as something is definitely going on, but then behind that, there is something even more sinister. It eventually wraps up but with a change to our protagonist. This plot then, like mentioned before is not a stereotypical, or common story as in it does not follow its predecessors, but is more a personal story line surrounding one character and how what he does affects those around him. It’s a really interesting story.

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I like how the film has kept its characters down to just a few. The Wolverine features a stellar cast of predominantly Japanese actors while also including others of different backgrounds and includes well known characters and the actors who have played them previously. It’s not without its casualties however. Harada and Noburo stand out in particular. Noburo seems like a comedic character on purpose; a light relief for the audience in what is rather an intense film. He just does not seem to serve any major purpose rather than A: to be made fun of and B: to offer some direction for the characters to follow as things begin to unravel. Brian Tee has done an excellent job though from what he has been given to do. Harada on the other hand is a complete mystery. I just don’t know what to say about him. He is played well again, and is an interesting character to look out for; I just think more explanation could have helped, including why he changes his mind in the end. What is his purpose for doing what he is doing? On the plus side he is interesting and adds a mystery depth into a film that goes from a theme of political and corporate corruption, into a story about genetics and desire for immortality. One plus The Wolverine has over X-Men Origins: Wolverine is that it hasn’t tried to desperately include well known, maybe even legendary or iconic characters from the Comic series. In Origins it tried really hard to include well known faces and enemies such as Gambit and Emma Frost, but it just didn’t need some of them. The Wolverine on the other hand really only introduces roughly one new character, and all the others are pivotal to the story and are featured in the story. OK, I have not read the Wolverine comics the story is based on, but it has strived to not bog the audience down in introducing seemingly pointless characters. I am of course talking about Dr. Green. I have no real knowledge of this character or her place in the comics, I do however really like her. She is an interesting blend of a comic style super hero like villain, but also possesses the brains to concoct a plan, like a true villain. She like many characters is a mystery, but one that grows to become the films secondary antagonist. She is Sinister, and like many a good villain possesses powers that are both deadly, and prevent her from being killed. She is very much a villain that you love to hate, one that you can’t wait to see defeated, but are not disappointed when it feels like the moment is never going to happen. Alongside her is of course series regular Jean Grey. While she does not appear in a physical sense, more rather being a hallucination, she does give the story and Logan in particular a sort of grounding. Something for him to deal and come to terms with. Her appearances arrive at the right time too, a sort of stand in to think about what is going on.

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It’s probably fair to say that the film has more than one villain. In fact it has lots, but while some work together, there are those who work on the other side. What am I talking about? Well, Shingen. Shingen is a very selfish character. A rough man who shows no real affection for those around him and only thinks about himself, something that is stirred on by the desire for the control of Yashida Industries. He is the films first virtual hurdle as he is the reason for the Yakuza’s involvement and becomes a video game like first boss. He is nowhere near pleasant and much like the film’s other villains is not a man you show the least bit sympathetic towards. While this could be initially seen as more his upbringing and view towards Logan, it begins to be seen that little bit more as time goes on. Once he has been dealt with though, it’s time to face the stories real villain. Yashida is the reason for Logan being there, he is the reason for everything bad that has happened so far. It all leads to one climactic battle with Logan. Taking on the persona of the Silver Samurai, Yashida uses it to finally attain what he has wanted. While he starts out as an old man and seems rather thankful and pleasant, his real motives come quickly, but he is able to mask them behind a sort of reasonable idea. He then disappears as he is believed to be dead, but the moment he is revealed to still be alive is a great shock, a big surprise. It’s the film’s ultimate Plot Twist. His transformation into his younger self is near seamless and the way he talks is just magnificent. He has such a sinister voice that provides for me, one of the most memorable quotes in the entire film (“Hold on… We are almost there!“).

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The Wolverine does something that I don’t feel like I have been able to do with the other film’s in the series so far, that being I feel like I can actually for once connect with the character of Logan. In the past he has been a narrator, a supporter, practically everything to even a cameo, but for the first time, I feel like I am able to just connect with him. I once read a quote (trying so hard to find it while writing this, I think it’s from Blake Snyder’s book) which said that film was about a person changing from who he starts off as. From the moment it begins, it’s about Logan living an existence he just wishes would end. A never-ending cycle of death around him done to those he loves. He just can’t live like that anymore and just gives up. As the film goes on; this stays pretty much the same until his relationship with Mariko really takes off. He begins to see more about himself and those around him. He begins to discover new things and realise that life is not what he sees it as and as the film reaches its dramatic conclusion; he has gone from a man who wishes not to live anymore to someone who has found reason to continue living. You feel for him, you journey with him, you experience with him. Such a brilliant character that until now has only just scratched the surface, revealing a character that is more than meets the eye. Something that has always been there, but now has come to light.

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Which brings us neatly round to Mariko and Yukio. Let’s start with Mariko. Mariko is the granddaughter of Yashida, and the un-wanting heiress to his company. She very much does not want to get involved, until Logan shows up. It’s around her that the films really begins to kick off as the struggle for control of such a powerful company revolves around the one who is about to get it. Her relationship with Logan starts off rather awkward but leads to a relationship between each other. She is a character that begins to bring out the good side of Logan, one that has been hidden for quite a while. He begins to leave his shell; much like Mariko begins to leave hers to become the film’s brightest star. On the side though is Yukio. Someone who doesn’t have a shell, someone who presents herself as whom they are from the moment they first appear. She is quick to build a relationship with Wolverine as a guide and friend, someone he knows he can trust. She cares greatly for him, but thinks of Logan as nothing more than a friend. She is very protective and caring for Mariko too as they both sees each other as sisters. The screen time these two shares is unlike anything the series has presented so far. Here we have two extraordinary characters played by two fantastic actresses. They are very different in persona with Mariko being more like an adult, and Yukio possessing traits that are more teenage like. Mariko is rather vulnerable, while Yukio is not afraid to fight. But while they are different, they are both nice and pleasant. They have no real flaws to make them seem mean or horrible and from the get go you care greatly for them. They possess a real on-screen presence that can’t be forgotten, and you don’t want to neither. While I have said over and over again in previous that some characters/actors are really enjoyable; these two stand out more than most. Two fantastic characters I can’t get enough of. There has been no announcement about whether or not they will be appearing again in the future, and I think it will be really sad for the characters not to be revisited or invited. I can’t state enough how enjoyable these two characters are. They are two such special characters, played by two terrific actors, ones whose portrayal I don’t want to forget. Two of the best and enjoyable film performances I have seen of any film.

Tao Okamoto and Rila Fukushima

There is one other character though I just have to mention. While this is more setting than character, much like how London can be a character, so can Japan. I love Japan, I have never been, but out of a list of things I want to do, go to Japan is right up there. The Wolverine makes great use of shooting such an amazing country. While there are some terrific set pieces like the Yashida residence and facility, Japan as a setting is the best bit. From the night lights and inner city shots of Tokyo, to the panoramic views of Tokyo (even shots of the city at night in the rain). Like across the river at the Yashida Residence, or the view from the hills showing that while it is a colossal city, it still has boundaries and when looked at from afar, can be such a beautiful sight. But it’s not just Tokyo, Nagasaki is beautiful too. Add to this the cultural life of those who live there, the food (which I really want to eat when I see it), the beliefs, the mixture of modern and the past, just everything is so spectacular that I can’t get enough of what I am seeing. Much like how a character is not just what you see, Japan is not just a setting, but a character too.

Tokyo

Much like past films in the series, The Wolverine uses a spectacular amount of Special Effects, possibly more than those before it. While films like First Class and Last Stand in particular use shots and moments of large things being moved like a Submarine and a Bridge, the effects used in The Wolverine are more up close and personal, such is the tone of the film. It has its big moments like the effects of the Silver Samurai, to moments more close up like Wolverine with a Sword in his stomach. These effects all look incredibly realistic. It’s closer up and personal effect means more can be seen in terms of detail. Because of this extra level of detail, a lot of the films effects look more overly polished and finished, making them stand out more in comparison to the other films in the series. Particular effects I think are definitely worth looking out for include The Dropping of the Atomic Bomb in Nagasaki; to the Bear that Logan knows. Not to forget the films set pieces too. While these are small in number, that is not to say that they are bad or terrible. The film’s final battleground, that of the Yashida Laboratory is particularly superb. There is another kind of effect too, that is the films numerous actions paced and intense fight scenes. All beautifully choreographed and presenting a contrast between fist and sword fights, to elements of parkour to a fight on top of a moving bullet train/Shinkansen. While the fights are slowed down and more visible in the final fight, they are no means bad in comparison. All the fights in this film are amazing and remind me of such fight scenes as in Ong-Bak and The Raid 2.

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Something though I feel a bit lacking is the Soundtrack (composed by Marco Beltrami). In the past I have mentioned how the soundtrack in the series is known for standing out and being memorable. But even now as I write I am finding it tricky to think about it. I can remember some bits and bobs like the fights in Tokyo and Nagasaki, the drive back to Tokyo, the outer exterior of the facility and the final fight with Yashida. But it’s only really the film’s end credits theme that stands out. Something that sounds heroic with a cultural style woven in. It makes me think a little bit of the ending of Jurassic World. The way that the film is just a constant inventiveness that ends on a theme that is absolute calm. One that in a way is telling you to breathe. The Wolverine’s end credit does this by having something that is just calm and feels like an end, a good one.

Altogether, The Wolverine is a magnificent film; one of the series most standout moments. Containing characters that you will both love and hate from start to finish and tells a story with nearly an unending number of plot twists that don’t leave any loose ends. It’s a standalone film, that’s one thing that is so good about it. It’s a film that doesn’t necessarily require any previous knowledge or understanding in order to enjoy it as it is all provided for you here and now. It’s a film that you can just pick up and play. I really do recommend this film; it has something for everyone and is so well constructed and written that there is plenty to get your steel claws into. It’s a story filled with Political and Corporate Corruption, Desire, Greed, Lust; but also a film about forgiving ones self, finding a purpose as well as more importantly, friendship, love and compassion. I really want to watch it again, right now.

GENEPOOL





Deadpool Trailer

12 08 2015

Deadpool Comic-Con

Last week a trailer was released for the upcoming X-Men spin-off movie: Deadpool. It was not the first time I actually saw that trailer as I did see a trailer from Comic-Con shown many weeks ago which was filmed by someone with a personal hand-held video camera, or more likely phone. I was a bit annoyed at the time as I didn’t think it was all that fair for lots of news coverage to be made around a movie trailer no-one else would see for several weeks. I did see some of that trailer though, and couldn’t wait for both the movie and a proper trailer release. Well now there is a proper trailer release, so now I can take a much better look at it.

Deadpool Car

I am no stranger to the character of Deadpool. I have known about him for over 10 years now after I first saw him in my copy of  X-Men: The Ultimate Guide book, but back then I did not know all that much about him. It was not really until maybe 2008 that I began to learn more about him thanks to the Wolverine and Deadpool comic series published by Panini Comics. I didn’t read or buy it, but the name sort of began to stick more. My first real sighting of him was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I knew he was going to be in it, but despite not reading a single comic with him in it, I knew that wasn’t Deadpool. The Deadpool movie though has been talked about since despite no real progress until last year. My interest in the film was a bit low, until about a year or 2 ago when I found a video of a man dressed as Deadpool gate-crashing the announcement of the Deadpool Video Game. After that, about year ago now, I found more videos from that including Deadpool walking around the Comic-Con convention centre area.

And the numerous videos of him visiting  HQ.

These little videos though made me that little more excited when the announcement of the Deadpool Movie came nearly a year ago now. Well the film’s trailer is here, so let’s have a look.

The trailer begins by looking into the life of Wade Wilson who is dying of severe levels of Cancer and volunteers for a procedure to cure him of it. Things then begin to take a twist as somebody suggests he could become a super hero, to which main star Ryan Reynolds makes a little joke about him being in the Green Lantern movie. It shows him going through the procedure before it changes angle completely to show a man in a red and black costume who loves to hurt people. It pretty much continues from there on with Deadpool himself appearing with the movie title card at the end talking to the audience, or breaking the fourth wall as its known (much like the character does in the comics).

Colossus

I really do like this trailer. It’s funny and has Ryan Reynolds appearing in a similar role to his appearance in Blade: Trinity (but mostly in a verbal sense rather than action). It contains a lot of dramatic and emotional elements plus lashings of action and fighting sequences that make me think of The Raid and The Raid 2, particularly the car fight scene from 2.

The suit looks terrific, and much like all X-Men films since appears to ignore what happened in Origins. The trailer also includes the appearance of X-Men Legend Colossus. I quite like that too, as while he is not to be played by Daniel Cudmore in this film, I think that throughout the X-Men film series, Colossus has been a very underrated and underused character, and it’s nice to see that he will be in this film, in what capacity is unknown (at least to me) at this time. And above all else, it’s actually Deadpool in this film. From the way he talks, to the way he fights, and even a brief glimpse of his powers. But the best thing of all, the trailer; everything in it and about it just looks so violent, awesome, loud and outrageous, makes it one of the most stand out cinema trailers to date and could make Deadpool one of the most stand out films of 2016. It combines comedy with extreme levels of violence. It just looks absolutely Fantastic. Expect it to be a 15 rated film in the UK when it gets released early next year.

Deadpool (20th Century Fox - 2016)

GENEPOOL





Top 10 Films of 2014 – Part 2

20 03 2015

Film Reel 2014

Continuing on from Part 1; here are my Top 5 Favourite Films of 2014. That’s about all there is to say really. Don’t forget, please feel free to comment, Like, and Rate the post too. Enjoy.

Transformers: Age Of Extinction (Paramount Pictures - 2014)

5. Transformers: Age of Extinction – I absolutely love the Transformers films. Each time a sequel was announced I was so happy and have enjoyed every single one of them. Age of Extinction though is by far the best one to date. Easily the most enjoyable and memorable film in the series to date culminating in a very long film but in my opinion better than the previous 3 put together. The only issue I had with it was that it could have been a bit more violent, but sadly not. A great cast of characters, both human and robotic which includes human stars Stanley Tucci, Mark Wahlberg, Kelsey Grammer and Nicola Peltz. The transformers themselves also featured a great cast which including series regulars Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and Megatron; now Galvatron (Frank Welker) but also new members including Hound (John Goodman), Drift (Ken Watanabe), Crosshairs (John DiMaggio), Lockdown (Mark Ryan), Stinger and best of all; The Dinobots. One amazing film which instantly jumped up my list after I saw it.

Gone Girl (20th Century Fox - 2014)

4. Gone Girl – When I heard that Gone Girl was coming, I was very interested for one reason more than most; David Fincher was directing it. I had seen the book on shop shelves in train stations for a while now but did not know what it was about. I heard a brief scene on the radio, but then I went to see it. It is a hard film to talk about because in essence, the story involves a really horrible person doing something extremely outlandish to get revenge on the person they married, and in the end getting away with it, forever. It reminds me a lot of a story I heard about the production of the original Alien film, where Ridley Scott wanted the Alien to win by killing Ripley, maybe back then he couldn’t do that, but after the release of Gone Girl; he can now. Gone Girl is an extremely good film and one of the best of 2014, but it’s hard to say that I like it as that statement, just sounds wrong. The film did have some great characters from Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike but top marks (in my opinion) have to go to Carrie Coon for the part of Margo. Brilliantly directed by David Fincher and thoroughly gripping. I don’t think I have been to see a film and heard that much gasping from the audience until I saw Gone Girl.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (Lions Gate - 2014)

3. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1The Hunger Games series continues with the release of Mockingjay Part 1. While I do not fully agree with Hollywood’s part 1 part 2 philosophy of making films as it is mostly just a form of making more money more than anything else; I am however OK with The Hunger Games doing it as it prolongs one of the best film series not just to date but in movie history (at least to me). I was unsure of where the film was going to be split though. Having finally finished the book series back in April I came up with an assumption, and I was right to about 5 minutes. While in essence Part 1 just covers the first half to just before the third part of the book, the film I felt was a lot like the first Hunger Games film. While I still prefer the first two films to this one, the essence and feeling captured in Mockingjay Part 1 reminded me a lot of why I particularly liked the first one and several scenes felt like the first film was being revisited. When it was all over I was singing The Hanging Tree song chorus out of the cinema and all the way home. The films main stars continue to provide excellent characters for the film, plus plenty new characters to enjoy too, but stealing the spot light is still the dynamic duo of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and President Snow (Donald Sutherland). With the scene now setup from another spectacular film, it leaves the stage open and ready for the final act; I’m probably going to cry when it’s all over.

The Raid 2 (XYZ Films - 2014)

2. The Raid 2 – I had heard about The Raid but had not seen it by the time The Raid 2 came out. I went to see 2 at The Dukes in Lancaster and got a huge shock within the first 10 minutes or so which makes it, quite easily; the most violent film I have seen to date. From start to finish it was one huge compilation of fights involving lots of blood, broken limbs and people getting killed in the most brutal of fashions. But the film was another thing as well, it wasn’t just an extremely violent film, it was also FANTASTIC. Really good story telling, terrific fights and spectacular martial arts sequences, brilliant action moments including one amazing car chase taking place inside and outside more than 5 cars and at least one motorbike and on top of that truly terrific characters including series protagonist Rama played by Iko Uwais and especially so to the character of Hammer Girl played by Julie Estelle. Simply Fantastic and Brutal, Awesome.

Godzilla 2014 (Legendary Pictures - 2014)

1. Godzilla – My year in 2014 can be summarised by my excitement and expectancy to one particular film. From the first trailer to opening night, the one thing I was most looking forward too was the New Godzilla, and I wasn’t disappointed one bit. I saw it on the big screen 3 times during its release. Every second was movie gold to me. The film was led by a really good cast including Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston, Sally Hawkins, Elizabeth Olsen, David Strathairn and (briefly) Juliette Binoche. But the biggest star was of course Godzilla himself. While it does take a while for him to appear on the screen in full force, the film includes little sightings and mentioning’s of him here and there including the terrific opening intro, but while it may take time for him to appear in full view, it makes that first moment in full view all the more special and spectacular. While it has been pointed out that he had little screen time, I feel he had plenty for now, and overall was a great introduction for new audiences. For me though I was more pleased over that it wasn’t just a creature called Godzilla or looked like Godzilla, but that it was Godzilla on-screen, right down to the iconic Atomic Deathray. One absolutely, fantastic film that I consider not just the best film of 2014, but also; one of the best, Godzilla films.

GENEPOOL





Pulling A Trigger Is Like Ordering A Takeout – The Raid

11 03 2015

The Raid (XYZ Films - 2011)

What is the best way to evict a block of flats full of criminals? You could simply serve an Eviction Notice and then have an Eviction Day where you remove those who reside inside it. Alternatively you could just get a swat team together of 20 cops or so and then evict the place room by room. This idea does sound a lot more promising given the circumstances of the residents; however this plan could also easily backfire, as shown in The Raid.

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Written and Directed by Gareth Evans; The Raid (or The Raid: Redemption as it is known in America) is an Indonesian Martial Arts Action Film which has to go down as one of the all-time greatest action movies in the history of cinema. To be honest I have only recently seen this film. I had heard of it before, but it was not until I saw The Raid 2 (my second Favourite Film of 2014) back in May that I wanted to and got round to seeing the first Raid film.

The film is set in the slums of Jakarta. Police officer Rama (Iko Uwais) is a member of a 20 strong swat team squad led by Sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim), Officer Bowo (Tegar Satrya) and Lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno). Their mission is to raid a block of flats and capture crime lord Tama Riyadi (Ray Sahetapy) who lets out his flats to criminals hoping to evade the authorities. His building is like a fortress and supposedly today’s mission is not the first time something like this has been done. Tama also has two lieutenants; one said to be like a Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) and the other called Andi (Donny Alamsyah) who has control over him – and is also Rama’s brother. The swat team arrives and quickly gains access to the building. They briefly detain a man who is trying to deliver pills to his sick wife before proceeding to clear each floor and all of its residents one by one. Just as they clear the first few floors, the team is spotted by a young kid who manages to raise the alarm. Tama tells the buildings residents of the situation and calls a few people from around the area to prevent the team’s escape.

The team is then ambushed by the residents who kill a great number of them. Jaka learns from Wahyu that the operation has not been officially sanctioned; as such, no reinforcements will come to their aid as they do not know where they are. The remaining officers take refuge in an apartment where Rama creates an escape route by hacking away at the floor with an axe. Bowo gets injured in the chaos and Rama takes out a large number of residents by using the fridge as an explosive device. The team then splits up with Rama taking Bowo to safety and Jaka, Wahyu and Dagu (Eka ‘Piranha’ Rahmadia) go hide in a shower block. Tama meanwhile sends Mad Dog and Andi to go empty the dead resident’s coffers to pay for the buildings repair. Rama takes Bowo to the apartment of Gofar (Iang Darmawan); the man they detained earlier. He reluctantly hides them in a wall space. A machete gang then come looking but do not find them. Rama leaves Bowo to look for Jaka but then runs into the machete gang. He fights them off in an epic struggle only to find himself having to run away from another group. He is then found by Andi.

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Jaka meanwhile is cornered by Mad Dog. Wahyu and Dagu flee with Mad Dog challenging Jaka to a fight, which Mad Dog wins with ease. Rama tells Andi that he knew Andi was there and tries to convince him to come home, telling him that he is going to be an uncle to Rama’s son. Andi though decides to stay, but tells Rama to wait until the coast is clear. Mad Dog drags Jaka’s body back to Tama. Tama however spots Andi with Rama and Mad Dog turns on Andi and takes him prisoner. Rama meets up with Dagu and Wahyu and suggests they go after Tama to get safe passage out of the building.  They fight their way up the building, through a narcotics lab and to Tama’s room. Rama sees his brother being beaten up by Mad Dog and splits to help him out. Mad Dog releases Andi just so he can fight both brothers. Mad Dog gains the upper hand and is about to win until Andi stabs him in the neck weakening him enough to kill him.

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Wahyu meanwhile finds Tama but betrays Dagu by killing him. He takes Tama hostage, but Tama tells him he knew about the operation for several days and tells Wahyu that he has been betrayed by his higher-ups. Wahyu kills Tama, before he tries to kill himself, but runs out of bullets to do so. Andi gives Rama tape recordings of Tama taking bribes from corrupt cops to be used as evidence. Rama tries to convince Andi one more time to come home, but Andi tells him that while he can protect Rama in his world, Rama could not do the same for him. Andi uses his power over the residents to grant safe passage for Rama, an injured Bowo and a detained Wahyu out of the area.

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The Raid’s story and setting is actually quite simple, at least to begin with. The setting of a raid means there is plenty of moments for action as well as break points to explain story elements and delve into characters’ lives. The film’s setup in its first act-30 minutes is pretty much all done and the film gets going very quickly. The character development that takes place within this time is rather simple in itself without revealing too much and does not take too long to get to the core themes and setting of the film. The story does get a little more complicated as it goes along but it gives plenty of moments of reveals and questions answered so nothing goes unanswered by the film’s end while also leaving enough detail in to allow a future film. Iko Uwais character of Rama is brilliant setup and ready within the first 5 minutes and his character is explored a lot with in the first 30. Beginning with his personal life, his wife and expected child not only shows that he is in fact human instead of just being a cop. These scenes also give the audience reason to root for him as well as feel for him as he has something to live for, and as an audience member you want to see him survive what he is going through.

Iko Uwais

The Raid has a lot of really enjoyable primary and secondary characters. Sergeant Jaka is enjoyable from start to finish. While his character is of the hard-nosed leader of the operation along with Wahyu, he has a great deal of compassion for those under his charge. While from start to finish his hard-nosed outlook on the current situation is ever-present his caring side always blossoms. His death at the hands of Mad Dog is a compassionate note for the film as from start to finish he remains one of the film’s best characters.  Andi meanwhile is an interesting character. His position is an interesting contrast to that of Rama and being his brother adds a little of flavour to both characters and the situation. While Rama is obviously a good honest person trying to do his best, Andi is in a position of power within the Indonesian underground. Andi however does a moral level of humanity in him as he still cares for his brother and helps him leave, but also has a level of control of Mad Dog which prevents him doing something completely brutal. Mad Dog meanwhile is completely like his name sake. He rarely talks in the film at all but has a deep level of mistrust of Andi as well as a high level of respect of Tama. Mad Dog sort of sees the situation as an opportunity to do what he loves, which is that of fighting his way and killing people. Much like Jaka, Mad Dog is extremely enjoyable to watch, particularly during his fight sequences but also when he hardly does anything at all. He has a strong on-screen presence and adds a touch of flavor as well as conflict to the scenes he is in. His enjoyment for a fight also brings a lot of promise for the films huge amount of action and fight scenes.

Yayan Ruhian

Tama meanwhile is a very casual villain who does not appear to really lose his rag and is calm for most of the situation. It makes a nice change from criminals and gangsters constantly losing their rag and instead having a level of enjoyment and exuberance in what they do. Tama’s situation and presence also allows him to have an extra level of commitment to what he does as well as a level of enjoyment. Especially in the early moments when he calls for help, tells the residents his offer and takes in what the cost of repairing the place is. Gofar meanwhile is a nice example of what good honest folk are forced to do in a situation when they have next to little or no money at all. Gofar and his wife are forced to live in the terrible conditions of the flat they have chosen; however it is clear that they might not have an option. While the police’s outlook on the situation is that it is full of criminals, there is also their failure to understand what motive is behind people’s choices and that not everyone is a bad person. Gofar, though grumpy, does have a little bit of compassion for the police’s plight and does believe in the goodness of other people, particularly Rama, who he hides and looks after Bowo while Rama looks for the others.

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Wahyu meanwhile is a symbol for the corruption in the police and the desire to be one of the higher-ups and not necessarily a grunt, even though his look and age shows a modicum of respect his way, especially how Jaka initially feels towards him. Wahyu however is there to get his chance at the big time when in reality his actions are just going to bring bad news and disaster to him, both from the corrupted and the uncorrupted with in the police. While she may only get one scene, Rama’s wife (Fikha Effendi) does add a nice touch to the Rama character. Without the scene with her in it would have been harder to feel for Rama’s character. Her presence in the scene is one of caring too, but as the situation of the film is yet to be revealed, her ending shot reveals a level of sympathy for Rama but adds a question for the audience to think about before it is answered very shortly. Several of the film’s minor cops have a nice brief moment here and there, but one of the characters that of particular notice is the machete gang’s leader (Alfridus Godfred). He is a brutal killer and leader. When he searches Gofar’s apartment, his attitude in his language towards him is a brilliant scene. He is unrelenting and horrible and gives a savage depiction of a brutal killer. His on-screen presence is almost as if not as strong as that of Mad Dog. He is more of a mid-level boss character to the film, next up being Mad Dog but adds a level of spice to the action and human scenes but also adds a level of longevity to the film to allow it to continue without being too quick a film and increase tension and expectancy for the audience towards the film’s final moments.

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The Raid’s soundtrack is nicely composed by Mike Shinoda (though this is the soundtrack for The Raid: Redemption). It features many brilliant pieces for specific moments while also maintaining a similar theme in themselves and to the film’s situational theme. The opening piece for instance starts with a more peaceful harmonious note than to its ending which brings a level of severity to the situation and prepares the audience for what is about to begin. The film’s soundtrack in general is quite similar to one another but helps to ramp up the tension but also give a level of background activity to the situation and help to place it. A few that really stood out for me include the opening serious drumming beat, and the moment where Tama calls in help from the neighbours.

It has a lot of similarity to the films credits score. The credit’s score itself starts off rather peaceful as it begins when the violence is all over. It then builds to a point and as the film truly ends, it leaves on a high note of acceptance and relief as the situation is over, even if the future is uncertain. The film’s soundtrack altogether is rather enjoyable and well worth a definite listen out for.

The film’s action moments though are quite easily its most enjoyable and stand out feature. The level of violence is at the level of extreme at its lowest point. The level of extreme violence though plus the effects of what this violence does to the characters, including their injuries is something of a necessity as it makes this film really stand out from the start. The level of violence also makes the film incredibly realistic and shows a high level of detail in the film’s choreography, and make up. It also gives the films characters an extra level of detail in the Martial Art of Pencak Silat which is on show and choreographed by the film’s stars Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian. While to the casual observer the violence could look unnecessary, over the top and uncalled for, the martial arts on show as well as the result of the films violent actions give it that extra level of detail that makes this film truly stand out. Alongside this violence includes terrific use of weapons and moments including the jump out of the window, the machete through the wall and every fight scene featuring Ruhian and Uwais. Alongside this though there are some other brilliant scenes that do not rely on violence including the early shots of the Jakarta slums and the rain pouring down on the van.

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The Raid is altogether one fantastic film. It’s level of violence and action could be a turn off for many a movie goer, but it’s more than just huge amounts of violence. It’s a film with a great level of emotion and drama in a simple but detailed and interesting story delivered by the films terrific cast. The setting is rather simple and so is the story but still maintaining enough mystery too adds twists and turns. The films characters are all terrific in their own spotlights with plenty of showcased reasons to cheer and root for them as well as boo them and enjoy their brutal ends. The soundtrack is a fitting choice for the film and has been well crafted and composed. The level of violence is at the high point of realism and one that any film made since The Raid is going to struggle to replicate and provide. It’s an all-round great film with each point delivering as well as backing up each other point too. The Raid is a truly brilliant action film that is definitely worth a watch for both fans of action movies as well as unseasoned action movie goers. While its level of violence will undoubtedly put many people off, but for those who are willing to stomach it, are in for a real treat.

GENEPOOL








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