Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Fun Fairs, Anime, Little Mix, McFly, Poisonous Algae & Alton Towers?

Last weekend was a very, very busy one for me. I spent the day on Thursday out with my family at a fun fair about 20 miles away from where I live. That was pretty fun. I taught my little brother how to dance to Mambo No. 5 while on a ride. While my other little brother was screaming, "We're all gonna die!" while on one of those small caterpillar rollercoasters for kids. Both of them are terrified of the waltzer. Quick side note, they're both going to Flamingo Land on Saturday. Yeah.

We didn't go on much, nor did I win anything. Although I did catch a Yoshi teddy on the claw grabber things, but it dropped it at the top - obviously. But it was fun none-the-less. Me and my little brother (not the one who's scared of the caterpillar) went on the go-karts with about 6 other kids. Lets just say I started in last, and finished in first. Almost lapping my little brother too! One of the kids hit me into a barrier at one point though. Little shit.

Anyway once the day was over, I left my family and traveled another 25 miles down to my girlfriend (Jen)'s house, where I spent the night. Friday wasn't very eventful. Spent most of the day in bed, or watching TV then went out with Jen to meet some friends. That's it. That's the story of Friday.

Then came Saturday. I had to be up early to go to an anime convention... in Middlesbrough. That's 40 miles away from my friend's house (I spent the night at his house seeing as he was going to it too). Car journey there and back. Oh, did I mention it was a two day event? Car there, car back, car there, car back. That's 160 miles in 2 days.
The convention I went to was a - as I said - 2 day event on Saturday and Sunday called OneCon. It was really, really good for a first year con. The idea of OneCon was to be the revival of another con called NemaCon. I went to Nema last year, and it was without a doubt, the best weekend of my life. Now I'm just imagining Homer from The Simpsons saying, "Best weekend of your life so far." Anyway, stuff happened with Nema which I won't get into here that meant it could no longer be ran. OneCon then appeared. They were hoping to start Nema again from scratch, and just not do what Nema did wrong.

On the first day, we kinda just wandered around and had a look at what there was to do, getting used to the venue, we didn't do much. Although we did go to a martial arts in movies workshop, that was pretty fun. Here's a video that you should definitely watch 'cause I'm in it. I'm the Slenderman wearing the Jake hat fighting Link. We didn't really know what to do then, so we sat down and just waited for something to happen. And then, something did. The guy running the anime screenings popped through a door and told us he was just about to put on a (relatively) new anime and asked if we wanted to come in before anyone else. So we did, and the anime showing turned out to be Attack on Titan - an anime I've been meaning to see for a few weeks now.

Then, seeing as I'm not 18 - I am in four weeks though, which is annoying - I couldn't go to the after party. Which sucks, 'cause the after parties are one of the best parts of the cons. So, we took the 40 mile journey home.

Sunday, was a much better, and much busier day. First of all, there was nothing happening, so we went to the games room and played on some 007: Golden Eye until we were bored. Then went into the main hall for their 'Speed Cosplay' contest. If you don't know what speed cosplay is, you basically have a pile of fabrics and other materials like tape, string, glue ect, and you have 10 minutes to create a cosplay from a certain category. We were very, very lucky. Our category was Adventure Time. So we could have pretty much made any character and probably still won. We chose the ice king.
That's the closest I can find to the full thing. But we won, and got through to the final. We got Final Fantasy as our next category. The team to the left of us got Pokémon, so people naturally voted for them. However, it wasn't up to voting this time, it was a judges choice. We lost. But so did the team to our left! The team to our right won, and I don't know what game they had.

After the speed cosplay, came the skit contest. I love the skit contests, but I won't say anything on it, I'll just leave you with the video of the whole thing.

We went to one more panel called Action Movie Making on a Budget, which was done by the same guys who did the martial arts panel. That was really interesting. But that's just about it for OneCon.

I had to hurry out, I was going to SoundWaves in South Shields, and OneCon had ran an hour late. Put it this way, OneCon was supposed to finish at 5. It finished at 6. It takes me an hour and a half to two hours to get to South Shields from Middlesbrough. The event started at half 5.

After the 40 mile drive to my girlfriend's house, then the 25 miles drive to South Shields, we managed to make it. Well, we missed the first two acts and caught the end of the third; the original plan was to make it just in time for the third.
The acts were, The Vamps, Luminites, Joe McElderry, Little Mix and McFly.
I got there just in time to see Little Mix and McFly, aswell as catching the end of Joe's set. All 3 of which were absolutely brilliant. I have to say though, one of the big reasons I wanted to go is because of the huge crush I have on Jade Thirlwall from Little Mix, hence why she's centered in all of these photos...


I apologize for the bad quality, they were the best I could get without the pictures blurring. Except that last picture, I was just zoomed in fully and it focused on that bloody pink eared hair band in the bottom corner. There aren't any pictures of McFly because my camera died.

Monday, we went to Herrington Park, near Sunderland, about 20 miles away. We just walked around and I recorded some ducks for an animation project I've been thinking about for about a year now. Oh, there was a sign saying that there was some unidentified blue-green algea in the water that posed a severe health risk to humans, so that's fun. I'm hoping to start working on the duck project soon, once I can get a plan for a story and some character ideas. We also went to an ice cream parlor, but that's not important.

I finally took the 40 mile journey home yesterday, and now here I am. I can finally relax.

Until Saturday anyway... I go back to work, then I'm going back to Jen's house and then to Alton Towers on Monday, followed by College on Tuesday! Busy, busy, busy.

Oh! My tickets to see and meet Janet Devlin arrived too! I've been wanting to see her live and meet her for about a year and a half, and I get to do both for my 18th birthday! So excited!

Thanks for reading!

- Jake

Friday, 16 August 2013

Well Ain't That Some Scary Sh*t

I am a really big fan of the horror genre. The tense scenes, the adrenaline rush from scares, all of it. But more than anything, one thing I love, is horror games. However, despite my love for these things, I'm pretty hardy when it actually comes to getting scared. For example, I've yet to find a horror movie that actually scares me. I thought The Purge would finally do that, but they went off on a tangent with that one. I've got a whole post on it if you haven't yet saw it. I'm actually beginning to lose faith in horror movies ability to, well, be a horror movie. I have heard promising things from The Conjuring though - infact, my friend told me that the entire cinema screamed at quite a few parts when he saw it. So I'm hoping it'll be good. Anyway, enough about my never ending quest to find an actual scary horror film.

Back to games. There are alot of really interesting Indie horror games out there, aswell as alot of really bad ones. I'm not talking about games such as Slender, or badly done Slender clones. That concept is old and very overused. One example of a bad one comes to mind, a small game named, The Escape. Which, if you've ever played it, you'll know that it was definitely made on the Unreal engine. Made pretty obvious by the lack of custom loading screens, aswell as the default HUD from Unreal. I won't go into detail about that game, but it is truly, truly awful. You should go play it for yourself and just see how awful it is. Just for fun.

Anyway, a couple of really, really good ones come to mind. First off is 1916 - Der Unbekannte Krieg (The War You Never Knew) which is made on the Unity engine, as most indie games are. The idea of this game is that you're a German soldier trying to escape a series of trenches. However, you're not alone. Also in the trenches is a pack of Raptors. This concept could easily be really badly done, and even be laughed at, yet somehow, they've managed to pull it off. There's a constant sense of unease and terror while playing this game, the atmosphere is just brilliant. And the Dinosaurs are not a force to reckoned with. This game does not rely on cheap jumpscares, at all. Well, I wandered around a corner and flipped a brick because there was a Dinosaur only feet away from me. The whole thing is very tense and very fast paced. It all sums up to a really great game. The creator(s) did a really great job on this one. Play it for yourself.

Secondly, is a small game called, Toward The Light - which is again, made on the Unity engine. This one was made for 7DFPS last year. The concept is really simple: you're in a cave, you have to get out of the cave. You also have a flare gun loaded with 7 flares, which you're told to use wisely.
As you're walking through the cave, you become aware that you're not alone. There's a slight pitter-patter of footsteps behind you. You stop. Silence. You look around. Nothing. You continue through the cave. More footsteps. Then you start hearing other noises, small rocks falling around. Just building and building up this feeling of dread.
The lack of music, constant reminder that you're not alone and dead silence when you're still combined with the claustrophobia of the surrounding darkness creates this amazing atmosphere of dread and a desire to escape. Not a desire to beat the game, a desire to escape, as if you're actually part of the game. The immersion is fantastic.
Eventually, you come across a small tunnel in some rocks, as you climb through, a light is visible quite a distance away. Instinct automatically tells you to sprint towards the light, but as soon as you do, a loud roar is heard right behind you and fear takes over, all your sense of reasoning is gone and all your mind lets you do is run.

If you want to play this for yourself, stop reading this now. Go play it, then finish this

On further inspection of this game, I've discovered that there is no monster or any real danger at all. The game is literally just a cave, your character, a flare gun and some sound effects.
What I find really interesting, is that I was more scared playing this game, than I have been playing any other horror game or watching any horror movie.
This game's atmosphere contributed to the whole experience. Which just goes to show, that horror games (and movies) do not need to rely on cheap jumpscares to make it scary. Infact, jumpscares aren't scary, they're startling.
But in this game, once I heard that roar, adrenaline took over, and I was generally terrified. The more work that goes into the atmosphere, the easier it is to immerse the player/viewer, and the easier it is to startle them, constantly have them on their toes, or make them scream like a bitch.

However, there is a problem with the game. As brilliant, immersive, and just terrifying as the atmosphere is, once you realise there is not monster and you are alone, the sense of danger is gone completely. If an actual monster were to be introduced - aslong as it was well done - Toward the Light could become absolutely terrifying.

I spoke with the creator a while ago on Twitter, this is the conversation:
@Jake_Jopling: @TheFuntastic Just played Toward The Light, I freaked out at the ending, haha. Will it be made into a full game? It has ALOT of potential! (:
@TheFuntastic: @Jake_Jopling glad you enjoyed! Have ambitions to do more, but real difficult to get enough time off work to make games ;) 
So hopefully there will be some developments to this game! If you want to play it, link's here. Also, I do believe there is a Toward The Light 2 in the making, it was part of 7DFPS this year. However, it is unfinished. The creator has decided to hold the game back, instead of trying hurry and make it in time for the challenge. Which I am very happy with, the game that has scared me more than anything is getting a sequel with extra care put into it!

So I'm pretty excited to play the second one! I mean, personally, I lost it while playing the original.

And here is, probably the funniest playthrough of the first game so far. Just watch from about 5:30 onwards.

Anyway, that's pretty much all I wanted to say.

Oh! For the record, I am yet to play Amnesia: The Dark Descent, solely because it doesn't get on with Intel's integrated GPUs at all, and I can't afford a one that's more suited for gaming. But I'm getting a new laptop at the end of the month which should be able to play it. But Amnesia: Machine For Pigs is coming out in September, so if my new laptop can run it, I'll probably try that too.

Thanks for reading!

- Jake

Friday, 9 August 2013

D23 Expo 2013 | Pixar

As you're probably aware, D23 Expo is this weekend. AKA yet another huge event in California I can't go to. *Sigh...* Anyway, a few hours ago Pixar had their portion of the presentation. And seeing as Pixar are (rather obviously) my favourite animation studio, I'm only going to talk about their presentation.

Pixar's portion started off with Lasseter coming out onto the stage to roaring applause and a standing ovation. Ofcourse, wearing no less than a Hawaiian shirt. But not just any Hawaiian shirt. A special, Monsters University Hawaiian shirt. Oh yeah.
"A studio is not the building it's in. It's the filmmakers inside that make up a studio. And we're all inspired by one person: Walt Disney."
- John Lasseter (D23 Expo)
 Now, I'd just like to point out how Lasseter said that he is inspired by Walt Disney (understandably). One of Disney's actual colleagues (Joe Grant) compared Lasseter to Disney. Infact, claiming him to be an image of Walt.
“You had, such a remarkable man in Disney, with the great intuition that he had. He seemed to know everything ahead of time. I find the same thing there with Lasseter, he's pretty much a... an image of Walt.”
- Joe Grant (The Pixar Story) 
Back to the event. Bill Hader (the voice actor of the slug in Monsters University that "can't be late for class on the first day".) joined Lasseter on the stage to announce an upcoming short film - Party Central, which will debut in cinemas/theatres before The Good Dinosaur next year. It's apparently Mike and Sully returning to party with the Oozma Kappas. I'm not sure on the time period though. I have a feeling it's between Monsters University and Monsters Inc though.

Then, The Good Dinosaur's teaser was shown, aswell as concept art. I've been looking forward to The Good Dinosaur for about 6 months now - since I found out about it. I've loved dinosaurs since I was a child, and this film combined 3 of my favourite things: dinosaurs, animation and Pixar. It's essentially, what would happen if the dinosaurs never died, and lived alongside humans. Some dinosaurs included are going to be Ankylosaurus and Parasaurolophus - the main character is an Apatosaurus. All the dinosaurs are going to be farmers, each functioning as actual farming equipment. The cast has also been announced:

  • Arlo (Main character): Lucas Neff
  • Spot (Human): Unknown/Unvoiced
  • Poppa: John Lithglow
  • Momma: Frances McDormand
  • Cliff: Neil Patrick Harris
  • Forrest: Bill Hader
  • Ivy: Judy Greer
The last 3 are Arlo's siblings. That's right. Neil Patrick Harris. I think I've just fell even more in love with this film. Also, another film with Bill Hader in (the slug from Monsters University again).

Peter Sciretta from SlashFilm tweeted:
"Pixar's Good Dinosaur first footage looked very beautiful, not very cartoony, almost like a segment from Fantasia."
 It has been confirmed that Arlo befriends a caveman named Spot - the first human he's ever seen.

Then, they started talking about Inside Out, another one that I'm quite excited about. And actually includes another one of my favourite things! Pete Docter's head. If you don't know anything about it, basically, it's a story being told from the inside of a little girl's mind.
"This is one of the most unique films I've ever been associated with."
- John Lasseter 
It has been revealed that the child is a young blond girl named Riley who loves Hockey and is being forced (presumably) by her parents to move to San Francisco. Which, can I just point, is highly convenient for Pixar - with their studio being within driving distance of San Francisco. However, the main setting it actually inside Riley's brain.

Also, Riley is not the main character either. The main characters are the emotions inside her mind. They were originally going to be solid, bodied characters, distinguishable as different emotions by their colour. This idea has been scrapped and now the characters are going to be a kind of 'collection' of orbs that move around in a way that suits the emotion. The emotions work in a headquarters of sort, watching everything Riley sees from a screen.
"To really reach an audience, there needs to be some truth in a film."
- Pete Docter 
Again, the cast has been released:

  • Joy (Main Character): Amy Poehler
  • Anger: Lewis Black
  • Fear: Bill Hader
  • Sadness: Phyllis Smith
  • Disgust: Mindy Kaling
Bill Hader appears to be beginning a love affair with Pixar...

Onto Finding Dory. Basically, it's going to take place a year after Finding Nemo and it's about Dory trying to find her parents. That's basically it. Nothing else. Except there's a whale called Baily.

And the cast list.

  • Dory: Ellen DeGeneres
  • Marlin: Albert Brooks
  • Jenny (Dory's Mother): Diane Keaton
  • Charlie (Dory's Father): Eugene Levy
  • Baily the Beluga Whale: Ty Burrel
Hader had managed to sneak onto stage by this point and began making jokes about how if he's in any more films he could be Pixar's lucky charm. At which point John Ratzenberger (who's been in all 14 of Pixar's films) came onto the stage, followed by a marching band, glitter cannons and confetti, claiming himself to be Pixar's lucky charm. Then he explained to Hader how to be a lucky charm. Andrew Stanton made it clear that Hader is NOT in Finding Dory. Then, Ratzenberger and Hader walked off the stage to You've Got A Friend In Me.

This is why I love Pixar.

All they do is just mess around.

And they SOMEHOW get the job done. Perfectly.

And get to #1 in the box office.

14 times in a row.

Even with Cars 2.

Anyway, finally, was Toy Story of Terror. A 30 minute TV Halloween special which will air on the 16th October on ABC.

And that's it. Then they moved onto Disney talking about Frozen. But I won't be talking about that.

Thanks for reading!

- Jake

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Teddy Bear Walk Sequence | 3D CGI Animation

Recently, the College I go to held an art exhibition. I had two pieces in the exhibition (would have been 3, but there was a slight mess up) - an animation, and a comic. They were both final pieces from 2 different projects. Both of which were about Depression. Ontop of that, I wrote an essay on artists with Depression for my Art History class. If you don't know anything about Depression then I highly suggest you look into it, or ask me about it or something. Anyway, that's not the point.

As part of the animation project, which was a 2D animation, I was required to experiment with other forms of animation. For example, zeotropes, stop frame, flip books ect. I already had a basic knowledge of how to use a free - but yet again basic - 3D animation software called Anim8or. Their website can be found here. So I decided to try and improve my skills from basic to slightly-more-than-basic. Seeing as 3D computer animation is what I want to do once I finish College. 

So I did. I decided to try and model the character I was planning on using in my final project. The little teddy bear on the right. Solely because it seemed, and was, very easy to make. I just imported a few spheres, converted them to meshes and morphed the spheres until they were the correct shape for the appropriate body part. Then just added on some solid textures. Then came the skeleton. I built a very simple skeleton with one bone for each limb and changed the joint limits to move each limb 90 degrees forwards or backwards. The final part of the modelling was adding each body part to the corresponding bone. Then finally, came the fun part. Animating it.
Seeing as the bear only had one bone per limb, and it was just a matter of simply tweening each limb, making a walk sequence couldn't have been easier, making this a very easy way for me to actually find out what I can do with 3D animation before moving onto more complicated (but still open source) programs such as Blender. Which I will move onto fully when I get the hang of it. For now, I'm stuck with the basics.

The program is so easy to use, I highly recommend it to anyone just starting out with 3D computer animation, the website also includes some tutorials.

As simple as the animation is, my College lecturer thought it was brilliant. Well, maybe not the animation, but more of the fact that I'd managed to just pick up Adobe Flash and a 3D animation software without any training or help whatsoever - excluding tutorials on the internet. So hopefully it'll add a few extra marks the project!

So, that's it for this post. I'll probably upload the final animation when the project has been officially marked, incase they think I've just took it off the internet or something.

Thanks for reading!

- Jake

Friday, 2 August 2013

Enrolling to Monsters University

Monsters University
Director: Dan Scanlon
Run Time: 103 Minutes
Genre: Animated/Adventure/Comedy

I saw Monsters University recently and now I've decided to write my thoughts on it (This isn't very much of a review, it really is more of just my thoughts). Now, as a guy who wants to be an animator, I have companies I like and companies I dislike - looking at you, Disney (as it is now, anyway). I do try to keep an unbiased opinion, but if you haven't already guessed, I really, really love Pixar.

So needless to say, it was fantastic! I honestly loved every second of it. The thing I loved most about it though, was the fact that it wasn't just an underdog story. I had this idea throughout the whole thing that the ending was just going to be Mike training some monsters - with no aptitude for scaring - to win the Scare Games. And I was quite disappointed when I was right.

Then came the plot twist. But we'll get to that.

First of all, it was a tiny thing, but I loved the fact that they kept the opening title sequence in the same style as Monsters Inc.'s. Brilliant little touch. Now, onto the film. The movie opens up introducing a young Mike as the obvious protagonist. Shown to not fit in anywhere and told he doesn't belong. Not belonging is a key theme throughout the film.

As the film progresses, it becomes clear to the audience that this is a film about trying to change who you are through dedication and hard work. However, despite everything, this doesn't work. No matter how hard they try, they can't change themselves. What they can do, is discover things about themselves along the way and use them to their advantage, for example Don Carlton's suckers. The film gradually transitions from trying to change who you are, to accepting who you are. Although, this transition never applies to Mike.

There's something very interesting about the entire theme of a movie changing, all of the characters realising that they can't change themselves, yet the only one who hasn't realised is the main character.

While everyone else learns over time, Mike has to learn the blunt, cold, hard way.

Now, remember, this is not a generic underdog-wins-it-all story. Far from it. This is a story about working your way up from the bottom, when you have nothing to lose. That is what this film is really about. I'm gonna be really cheesy and horrible now.
"Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, others have greatness thrust upon them."
- William Shakespeare
As if I needed to say who's quote that is. Anyway, this story is very much about those who achieve greatness through hard work. If you watch it, you'll understand the point I'm trying to stress here. Pixar have left a very strong message in there.

You cannot change who you are. But you can learn to use the traits you already have to help you.

And no matter how hard you try to learn something, no matter how much you know about the fundamentals of a subject, you might not be very good at it. For example, you might know all there is to know about a specific martial art, but when it comes to actually doing it, you might find that you're hopeless at applying the knowledge. Infact, an even better example, in the LucasArts Computer Graphics Group (now known as Pixar) John Lasseter was the only actual animator there. He was surrounded by all of these people with PhDs and a highly extensive knowledge of animation, but they couldn't actually animate to save their lives. Get it?

That's exactly what this film is about.

What you can do with that knowledge though, is use it to assist those who can do it. Be the brains behind the show.

All in all, the message behind Monsters University is that just because your skills aren't suited to do a certain thing, it doesn't mean they're not needed somewhere else. Everyone has different things that they're good at.

Sorry if this didn't make much sense I couldn't really figure out what to write...

Overall Rating: 4/5

Thanks for reading!

- Jake

Thursday, 1 August 2013

The Blue Umbrella

The Blue Umbrella
Director: Saschka Unseld
Run Time: 6 Minutes
Genre: Romance

In the cinema, before Monsters University, there was Pixar's short film: The Blue Umbrella (which, may I add, I have been wanting to see for the last 6 months). So I'll talk about that in this post, and Monsters University in another post. I have to say, it was absolutely brilliant! I think it has became my favourite Pixar short, overtaking Burn-E, Presto, Partly Cloudy and La Luna.

For anyone who is yet to see it, I'd like to stress the point that it is constructed solely of CGI. The director wanted the short to be photorealistic which is certainly not what Pixar traditionally do.

The idea of The Blue Umbrella is that the city comes to life when it starts raining. It starts off with the rain pitter-pattering to the tempo of the soundtrack, then the music starts and the city 'wakes up'. The music is called The Blue Umbrella Suite by Jon Brion (feat. Sarah Jaffe) and it's perfect for the short. You can buy it on iTunes here. Along with the rain, the umbrellas come up. The city block is filled with hundreds of black umbrellas. This is where, among all the black umbrellas, one blue umbrella pops up and shakes the rain off. Now, I'm not sure if it was Pixar, or the fact I've been waiting about 6 months for this, but there was an instant connection to the umbrella.

I won't ruing anything on The Blue Umbrella, but the storytelling is brilliant. Pixar seem to have a knack for telling amazing stories without the use of words at all, ie. Wall-E, Up, Partly Cloudy, La Luna, Presto. The use of the music contributes alot to it too.

I don't really know what it is, but there's something about the whole thing that just instantly made me fall in love. It's such a basic concept too (Blue Umbrella meets Red Umbrella - instant romantic spark) yet the whole short is so complex. It's clear that alot of hard work went into every last part of it. Even the (not-so-detailed-blurred-out) backdrop and the hidden faces of people behind umbrellas because they're too difficult to do, even for Pixar.

If there's one thing Pixar are good at though, it's bending things to their will. When the two owners of the Blue and Red umbrellas separate, how do the umbrellas get back to each other? Simple. Wind. They took full advantage of the weather conditions by allowing the Umbrella to catch the wind and force himself out of his owners hands, then allow himself to be carried along until he finds what he's searching for: his soul mate.

While I'm on the subject of the weather, Pixar constantly used different types of rain to set each mood. For example at the beginning, it was just light rain, as everything was slowly waking up. Then, later through the short as he's floating through the air searching, the rain is fast, but soft and light. However - when things turn bad - the rain is heavy, merciless and unrelenting. The rain itself has became a crucial part of the storytelling, almost like a character in itself.

I won't ruin what happens, but I will say that it ends with a happy ending. Although, it was originally not going to, but they couldn't leave him in the state he was.
At the end, the music stops, there's just the rain; light but relentless. And then, something good happens. The music starts again, softer now, bringing with it an overwhelming joy into the hearts of everyone watching.

I don't know what Pixar have planned for their next short, but they're really going to have a tough time if they want to top this. In just 6 minutes, Pixar managed to make me fall in love with an umbrella, fear for his life, and be overjoyed at the fact that he found love.

Again, an umbrella.

So just to finish this all off, The Blue Umbrella is absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend that you see it, however you can. Cinema, wait for it to be released, whatever. Just watch it.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Thanks for reading!

- Jake

Friday, 26 July 2013

Too late for The Purge?

The Purge
Director: James DeMonaco
Run Time: 85 Minutes
Genre: Thriller

Seeing as I've just started and the last *new* film I saw was The Purge, I'm gonna talk about it. I'd been looking forward to this film for quite a while. To me, the concept seemed - and was - brilliant. If you don't know already, basically one night every year, 21st March, the US have a "Purge". All crime is legal. The reasoning for this is that it apparently gives people an outlet for all their rage, why commit crimes illegally when you can just wait until the Purge to do everything legally; this is including murder.

Now, the film starts out on a really, really good premise, and just got better. For example the opening scene, in my opinion, was brilliant. It opens to (what's supposed to be) CCTV footage of previous Purges. Essentially images of people beating each other up and shooting at each other, as to be expected when havoc ensues. The interesting part is the music. Accompanying these scenes is this happy, cheery, calm song, as if it's suggesting that the Purge is literally just a normal thing, part of their every day lives.

Then the film starts. The first half of the movie was really brilliant, the second half... not so much. But we'll get there. It begins with the Father (Ethan Hawke) driving home on the day of the Purge, which lasts 12 hours, from 7PM - 7AM. He stops to talk to neighbours, conversing about casual things such as the event happening in less than 2 hours in which thousands of people will be brutally executed. Which makes the whole situation alot more unsettling. There's even a guy walking his dog. This event really has just became the norm. Also, ontop of this, the radio reporter is also talking about it as if it's nothing - infact, he even gets a caller to tell him his Purge plans. Which ofcourse are too hunt down and kill his boss.

Then the Father returns home to very attractive wife (Lena Headey) and everything's fine. He comes bearing 'good news' which he shall tell the family at dinner. Again, everyone is just going about their daily lives as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening.

It's now the Mother's turn to speak with the neighbours, she talks to them about the annual Purge party she usually throws, but she isn't thrown one this year as she wants to just have a quiet night in with the family. Now, I find this very interesting, has this event really become the norm, or do people just try and distract themselves by having parties or having a night in with the family to ignore what's going on, if they pretend it's not happening, maybe that feeling of guilt mixed with terror will go away, right?

Anyway, the film continues, they make it very clear that this is a regular, normal thing, and that's something I really, really, really like about this film. Eventually the house goes into lockdown. Oh, also, the Father owns a company that provide security for houses, specifically built for the Purge. Meaning that this event has become such a usual thing, that people have started making money out of it. This movie really has the human race (as a whole) summed up perfectly. Now that the premise for the Purge has been set, let's get to the actual event. This is when it gets really good.

As I'm sure you're aware, the annoying twit of a son (Max Burkholder) disarms the security to give sanctuary to a homeless man. Who then disappears into hiding somewhere in the house.

Now for my favourite part: the bad guys. They are first shown casually walking down the street together, one of them firing an fully automatic assault rifle. However, they're all wearing (very creepy) blank, smiling masks. They're obviously searching for the homeless man. The leader of the bunch (Rhys Wakefield) rings the doorbell to speak with the family. They listen to him via the CCTV camera above the door.

This guy, he's one of the best actual villains I've seen in a long time. He describes himself - and his companions - as young, well educated people who just want to Purge, as it is their right to do so. They explain how the man they have given refuge is nothing but a homeless pig who deserves to be sacrificed. All the family have to do, is give them the homeless man, and they will leave them alone. And honestly, I would bet any money that he would've kept his word. But if they didn't... well, they had the means to break into any house they like, no matter how much security it had.

The thing about this guy is, he isn't evil. Antagonists like this are absolutely brilliant characters. He literally just wants to do what he has been told is right. He has been told for a good majority of his life, that this is a good thing. The Purge is helpful. He has been brought up knowing that it is his human right to do whatever he likes on that one night.

Also, not too long later, he issues another warning to the family, in person this time. The Father is at the other side of the door, trying to explain that they are looking for the man. During this conversation, one of his companions gets angry and shouts to the family. The antagonist does not hesitate to shoot him before turning to the Father and politely saying, "Please bear in mind, Mr Sandin, he was my friend. You, are not." Now, this kind of suggests that not only does this guy think he's doing right, he also has sociopathic tendencies. So essentially, the antagonist of this film is a deluded sociopath. And that is brilliant.

Back to the film. Obviously, the family weren't going to put their own lives at risk for a homeless stranger.  They sought to find the man, who would have been caught sooner if it weren't for the brat of a son (again). But eventually they caught him, tied him down to a chair and normally that would be that. They would give the homeless man to the bad guys, the bad guys would leave them alone, and that would be that. But that wouldn't make a very good film now, would it? This is when the film goes downhill...


The homeless man decides to stop struggling and tells the Father to protect his family and give him to them. Then boom, sudden change of heart from the Father. They decide they're going to leave the homeless man tied to the chair and fight any intruders. Great idea, Dad!

So the bad guys literally rip off the security systems and enter the house. This is the part I was really, really looking forward to. This is the part it had all been building up to.

And they ruined it.

In all honesty, I was expecting a horror film. And in all honesty, it should have been a horror film. It would have been alot better if they filled this whole section with tension and suspense. Maybe a few jumpscares. I'm sure if the rest of it was done right they could get away with it. They had built it all up, they had this great platform, and they dropped it.

Instead preferring the all out action scene. Don't get me wrong, I do like action, but this wasn't even good action. It was repetitive, predictable and just boring to watch. The thing that irked me more than anything about it was these are people who have claimed they participate in the Purge every year. Yet they can't handle themselves against a family who have probably never took arms before?

Every time a family member almost dies, something convenient always happens. Every time. The most used one in this film is another family member comes along just at the right moment and shoots the attacker. Get used to this, it happens alot.

Now, if you're yet to see it, please stop reading now. There will be spoilers. I will say this though: from here on out, it's just downhill until the Purge is over.

However, among all my bitching about this part, there was one part that I really liked. The father fends off an attack from two people, killing them both, and the music goes silent. There's no tension, no suspense, just a sense of relief. He then goes to leave the room, but just as he does, the main antagonist appears and stabs him.

The atmosphere at this part was perfect. The family member had fought off an attack and was relieved. There was no music playing anymore, everything seemed fine. And then out of nowhere one of the family members is stabbed. The antagonist then thanks the family member for their sacrifice and kisses them on the forehead before leaving him/her to bleed to death.

The rest of the family each find the father at the bottom of the staircase, still bleeding out. They're all with him, grieving as he passes away. This is when all of the bad guys come in and are about to kill the family.

Admittedly, I did not see this one coming, but I knew the family wouldn't die. They've tried to keep them alive for too long to just kill them off. The neighbours burst through the door and shoot all of the bad guys (surprise, surprise, the bad guys got shot right before they were about to kill one of them!).

This part however, I did see coming. The Mother thanks the neighbours for saving them when all of a sudden the neighbours turn and tell them that they weren't there to save them, they were there because that family were their's to kill. When asked why, so they could cleanse themselves of the hatred and anger that's built up inside them.

Now, I just want to say something... no. Just... no. I think these guys were so wrapped up in showing that humans are despicable creature (which they are, as a whole) that they seemed to forget that there are actual decent people in the world who would not kill anyone given the chance.

For these neighbours to turn on their friends just because they can is absolutely ridiculous. But, I'll move on from that before I get into a rant about that...

Anyway the neighbours are about to kill the family, then completely unexpectedly (sarcasm) the homeless man appears with a gun and tells the neighbours to back off. Which they do. The man leaves the neighbours' lives in the Mother's hands, and as an actual decent human being she lets them live.

The film gets better from here now! Now that the Purge is over. Well, almost.

Five minutes before the ending of the Purge gives room to one of the most badass scenes in the whole film, which I won't spoil, but it is really great. I shant spoil the ending either.

This is not the end of the film completely though. As the credits are rolling up, there are news reports of the Purge coming in. They document the events of the previous nights as if they're announcing sports scores! Which again, brings us back to the start, reminding us that this is a normal thing. It happens every year. It's just business as usual.

And that's basically it, I think. Overall, it was a good film. Brilliant concept, even better starting grounds and the build up was amazing. However, the climax of the film was, in my opinion, very weak and could have been done alot better. But I really like the ending too.

Overall Rating: 3/5

What does everyone else think? And should I do more film reviews?

Thanks for reading!

- Jake

Thursday, 25 July 2013

First post!

Well, I've finally got this thing set up. Took a while, they don't really make it easy for the new guys...
Anyway, I doubt anyone will actually see this, but whatever. I'll probably use this as my little space to bitch and rant about things. Mostly to do with films or video games, but I will probably also use it to complain about life-y things. You have been warned.
So yeah, that's it really. Toodles.