All Posts By

Thomas Fyfe

Pacific Rim Review

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Pacific Rim is a science-fiction epic action film directed by Guillermo del Toro, the director who brought you the well known Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy and many more films. Pacific Rim tells a story in the near future where aliens arrive on Earth, but not from space, instead these aliens rise from the sea and have been waiting there for millions of years to strike.

Pacific Rim was well anticipated with trailers showing epic battles, cool robots and even an appearance from a voice sounding a little like GLaDOS from the Portal series. Some may see similarities to Transformers in the trailers with the explosive action and giant mech suits, but the film is not like that at all, it has so much more to it.

Instead, the movie begins with the alien attacks already under way. The movie builds up the suspense to a big showdown between the aliens called the Kaijus, and the giant mech suits called Jaegers. Jaegers were made in an effort to defeat the Kaijus that were destroying cities across the planet. The Jaegers can only be manned by two pilots that are compatible in order to perform what’s called a neural handshake, allowing them to both control the one mech suit.

The story follows two unlikely heroes, a washed-up former pilot and an untested pilot who are teamed together to drive an old Jaeger in a last attempt to destroy the Kaijus once and for all. The chemistry between many characters, the two main characters in particular, are really strong which makes the last fight that much more intense. Even supporting characters play strong parts in the movie bringing both comic relief as well as key points in the story.

One thing I do have to criticise about the Jaegers is that they are designed as humanoid machines, yet almost always, the fight against the Kaijus are on land. Walking around in water is not agile or fast and it can be seen in the film, why would they design the Jaegers around humans when there are many other predators out their that are designed to be killing machines. Its just a little thing but I couldn’t help but notice it.

In the end, this movie had some awesome moments, a great soundtrack, and a strong cast. You will not be disappointed with this Summer blockbuster.

Monsters University Review

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Monsters University is the latest movie from Pixar. Its a prequel to the classic Monsters Inc. but this time we find out that Sully and Mike were not always friends. Monsters University brings back characters and settings you love but brings a fresh feel to the beloved universe. Monsters University may not be up there with recent greats such as Toy Story 3 but it remains a powerful addition to the Pixar lineup.

Monsters University is the first prequel from Pixar and only the 4th revisit to a previously made universe, this time directed by Dan Scanlon. The original trailers may have been off-putting to some, coming across as a more cheesy comedy with college stereotypes but thankfully the movie has the heart that we love to see from a Pixar film. The film only gently pulls on your heart strings but nostalgic feelings from your childhood may make an appearance.

Monsters Inc. was released in 2001, directed by Pete Docter as the fourth film by Pixar Animation Studios. The concept was genius, what would a world be like inhabited by monsters? The clever use of children’s screams to power the monster city gave monsters a job to collect that scream. The simple notion of having children viewed as toxic gave the plot its premise as a child finds its way into the monster world.

As with any sequel or prequel, the audience are already familiar with the main characters. The prequel gives us a chance to see a side of Mike and Sully that we may not be aware of. Seeing Mike and Sully as rivals is amusing but we also root for them to become the friends we know from Monsters Inc. Billy Crystal and John Goodman return to play Michael Wazowski and James P. Sullivan respectively and Steve Buscemi returns to play Randall Boggs who in his college years is not so mean as he appears in Monsters Inc. Other characters do make the odd cameo but other than the trio, the cast is a whole new set of monsters for us to marvel at, you’re bound to have a favourite in the end.

The plot has Sully and Mike work together in order to stay in the university, they have to make some unusual friends in order to win a scaring contest held by the school. The movie will have you laughing on many occasions regardless of how old you are, this is a movie for everyone.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and look forward to buying it on blu-ray when its released.

Nintendo and Content ID

By | Gameora | 3 Comments

With falling revenue, a small presence at E3 and the Wii U not meeting sales figures, things don’t seem to be doing all too well at Nintendo. Last week, Nintendo made a decision that affected many gameplay channels on YouTube that has sparked a big debate and outrage among many fans. Are Nintendo losing the touch they once had on the gaming world?

Nintendo is now using YouTube’s “content ID match” to claim many Let’s Play videos featuring footage from their games. The debate started when YouTuber Zack Scott (channel: ZackScottGames) posted an open letter to Nintendo criticising their decision:

I just want to express my feelings on the matter of Nintendo claiming not just my YouTube videos, but from several LPers as well.

I’m a Nintendo fan. I waited in the cold overnight to get a Wii. I’m a 3DS ambassador. I got a Wii U at midnight when I already had one in the mail. I’ve been a Nintendo fan since the NES, and I’ve owned all of their systems.

With that said, I think filing claims against LPers is backwards. Video games aren’t like movies or TV. Each play-through is a unique audiovisual experience. When I see a film that someone else is also watching, I don’t need to see it again. When I see a game that someone else is playing, I want to play that game for myself! Sure, there may be some people who watch games rather than play them, but are those people even gamers?

My viewers watch my gameplay videos for three main reasons:
1. To hear my commentary/review.
2. To learn about the game and how to play certain parts.
3. To see how I handle and react to certain parts of the game.

Since I started my gaming channel, I’ve played a lot of games. I love Nintendo, so I’ve included their games in my line-up. But until their claims are straightened out, I won’t be playing their games. I won’t because it jeopardizes my channel’s copyright standing and the livelihood of all LPers.

So what is content ID and how does this affect people? YouTube’s Content ID service allows big companies and content publishers to automatically detect when someone has used their content in a video. They can then choose whether to remove this video or monetise it. Monetising it puts advertisements before, during or after a video and the money made goes straight to the big company. Nintendo have chosen to do this meaning that any ‘Let’s Play’ video about Mario for example will provide an income for Nintendo.

Now this is where people debate. Many have said that it is Nintendo’s game so surely they own the content and deserve the money for it. While others, including myself and most people who create these gameplay videos are completely against this. Some LPers do actually depend on the revenue on their videos. For some, its another way of making money, and for the big YouTubers they do it full time. Let’s Play videos are a great way of free advertising, it shows a company their fans enjoy the game and want to play it. For indie developers its a huge way of getting your game known. Sure, big companies like Nintendo don’t need the advertising for their games but taking away this goodwill and controlling gameplay content is very discouraging to a lot of LPers out there. For some LPers they’ll just simply move away from Nintendo games and play games from their direct competitors.

Let’s Play videos are (usually) not just gameplay clips, the LPers add their own commentary and personality into the videos, and now they are to get nothing back. Does Nintendo really need any more money?

Nintendo responded to the recent discussions with:

As part of our on-going push to ensure Nintendo content is shared across social media channels in an appropriate and safe way, we became a YouTube partner and as such in February 2013 we registered our copyright content in the YouTube database.

For most fan videos this will not result in any changes, however, for those videos featuring Nintendo-owned content, such as images or audio of a certain length, adverts will now appear at the beginning, next to or at the end of the clips.

We continually want our fans to enjoy sharing Nintendo content on YouTube, and that is why, unlike other entertainment companies, we have chosen not to block people using our intellectual property.

For more information please visit www.youtube.com/yt/copyright/faq.html

In a tweet from Mojang’s founder Markus “Notch” Persson on the subject, he stated that YouTube approached them about a very similar matter.

The fact YouTube are reaching out to other game publishers and offering the same thing is quite frightening. What’s scarier is the fact that Notch would even find this tempting. Mojang, in my opinion, usually represent good business values like freedom of content. Imagine if YouTube approach EA with this same offer? Could it be that one day a YouTube channel has a very little choice of games to play in order to survive economically?

I hope Nintendo have a change of heart, or at least other publishers will see the criticism and learn from Nintendo’s mistakes.

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

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Star Trek Into Darkness is the sequel to the 2009 reboot of the Star Trek franchise. J.J. Abrams returns as director and many of the 2009 cast also make a return. The sequel performs just as well as the original and from some aspects does better. J.J. Abrams truly proves he can take source material and make it awesome for a wide audience and sets a high expectations for his work on the upcoming Star Wars sequels.

Star Trek Into Darkness takes place not long after the first film. When an act of terror threatens the federation, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt into the far reaches of space to capture who is responsible for the attack. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto return to play Kirk and Spock respectively with Benedict Cumberbatch playing John Harrison, the film’s villain  The chemistry between the Kirk and Spock was part of what made the 2009 reboot so popular. Their different cultures make them opposites but work well together, even if they do get into the odd disagreement or two. Again in this film their friendship is tested and becomes one of key strengths in the movie. All the characters are played really great, there is characterisation for many characters, some that you may not expect and its balanced very well.

The film started off in a different tone to what I was expecting. Seeing a futuristic London made me think I was watching an episode of Doctor Who. A large part of the movie’s introduction was set on Earth so it was nice to see how things operated when we weren’t seeing the crew in space. I felt the movie got better as I watched it, and the movie even managed to trick me a few times which not many can. The movie does not hold back on action either, from the start we’re shown the crew of the Enterprise trying to stop a volcanic eruption in an exotic planet. It really felt like something from the TV series where they got into all sorts of mischief. The Enterprise’s entrance does not disappoint and for me its one of the funniest and most impressive shots in the movie. I felt like geeking out at a lot of the action scenes.

The sound in this movie is what really impressed me the most. The music score is amazing, I found myself humming the theme tune for days. It builds up the drama wonderfully and really drives through in the action scenes. Of course, anything by Michael Giacchino is bound to impress me. The sound editing and sound effects also stood out. I don’t usually say the sound is the first thing to compliment a film on but I found myself saying “wow, the sound in this is good” many times during the film. The Enterprise’s engine noises are like music to my ears.

 

While not a big follower of the Star Trek universe as some, I was very impressed with Star Trek Into Darkness. Its a great sci-fi adventure which I will be looking forward to add to my Blu-Ray collection. It’s also made me very excited for the upcoming Star Wars sequels as now I know their in the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing.

From Up on Poppy Hill Review

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From Up on Poppy Hill (Kokuriko-zaka Kara) is the latest Japanese animated film from Studio Ghibli. The film, directed by Gorō Miyazaki, takes place in 1960’s Japan and tells the story of Umi Matsuzaki who attempts to save her school’s clubhouse from demolition.

Umi Matsuzaki is a young girl living in a boarding house. She helps with cooking and looking after her siblings while her mother is working abroad. Throughout the movie we are revealed information of Umi’s father who was killed in the Korean War. Umi befriends a boy named Shun who writes for the school’s newspaper. With the approach of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the school’s clubhouse is set to be demolished so together they set out to renovate the building and convince the school’s education board to prevent its demolition.

The film explores the relationship of Umi and Shun as they bond through their time together. The movie concentrates more on the exploration of this relationship between characters rather than the plot itself. The film sets a very gentle mood and deals with issues of young love and enduring hardships. The setting and characters feel real which is what makes us connect with them.

Poppy_Hill_1

As with every Studio Ghibli film the audience is treated to beautiful animation and environments and characters we can connect with. While From Up on Poppy Hill does have the Studio Ghibli charm to it, but due to the nature of the story the true imaginative and magical worlds the studio is known for creating are absent from this. Instead we are shown a more realistic 1960s Japan and an experience of the culture around that time.

The director, Gorō Miyazaki, is the son of Studio Ghibli’s co-founder and acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki. His directing début was Tales from Earthsea, an adaptation of Ursula K. Le Quin’s Earthsea book series. However this film was met with mostly negative reviews. From Up on Poppy Hill does make up for that and shows he has the potential to make good movies and perform well as a director.

While this is not the best Studio Ghibli film I’ve seen it still performs well as a movie and would recommend it to those who like a gentle paced, feel good film.

From Up on Poppy Hill was released in Japan in July 2011, an English dubbed version was released in the US on March 15, 2013.