Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau - A Film Review

I'd been looking forward to seeing The Adjustment Bureau for almost a year before I finally got the chance to see it. The film was initially slated for a summer release in 2010 and then pushed back to a late fall release. After that, the film was postponed indefinitely. After some time, it was finally announced for a March 4th release.

Now, I love Emily Blunt. In fact, I'm more inclined to see a film if she's in it. Matt Damon's one of those actors who's really hit and miss with me. Sometimes I love him and other times I can't stand him. But the premise of this film and the idea of his character intrigued me.

I was a little worried to see the film after the delays it received. If your film's been delayed twice, is it worth watching? Thankfully, I had no reason for worry. I went in to the film expecting to see a decent film that plays with the idea of free will and fate. I came out with a film I really enjoyed.

David, a hopeful politician played by Matt Damon, has a chance meeting with Elise, a free spirited impulsive young dancer played by Emily Blunt, in a bathroom after he has lost his current race for Senate. The meeting inspires him to deliver a blunt from the heart styled speech for his concession.

Soon after his concession he is preparing to start work with an old friend and member of his political team. A young man is seen waiting for him in the park across from his apartment, having been given instruction to cause him to spill his coffee by 7:05. After this crucial event is missed, David has a chance meeting with Elise where he learns her name and receives her number.

When he arrives at work, he walks in to a 'recalibration' that is happening on his friend. This is when the Adjustment Bureau reveals themselves to him. They are a network of people who cause small things to happen, adjustments in the master plan of the world and all of our lives. They describe things like spilling coffee, internet going out or even cell phones dropping calls as things that are sometimes chance and sometimes the work of the Bureau.

They tell David he is not supposed to be with Elise and he is never to see her again. After burning the number he received from her, they tell him to leave and never tell anyone of the Bureau or they will erase his memory and, essentially, make him insane.

After three years, chance brings Elise and David together again and the push and pull between the Bureau and David begins as he fights their adjustments to be with the woman he had fallen in love with.

In the over all scope of the film, it calls in to question how much free will we as humans have, what could be predestined, whether we're able to change that and who gets to make these decisions. The movie, while not remaining mysterious in the way it operates, was definitely a fun ride to be on. Although I was able to piece together the story quite easily as the film progressed, I still enjoyed the story immensely.

I felt as though leaving the first chunk of the movie described above out and only revisiting this via flashback or description from characters would have left this film in a much more mysterious thriller sort of genre, I do feel that that wasn't the effect the filmmakers were going for. This was a film that was supposed to make you think. Not about the film itself or what's happening in it, but about the context. About your own choices and whether or not they're being influenced from another plane or not.

If you're expecting a thriller or a mystery out of this film, you may be disappointed. It lays it's cards in front of you at the beginning of the movie and allows you to make up your mind about the validity of the story. But if you're interested in the film for the thoughts it may provoke, you'll be pleasantly surprised with how much enjoyment you can get out of it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The NGP Announced - Successor to the PSP

Sony announced today at a press conference for Playstation that their successor to the Playstation Portable, the NGP, will be released in the Holiday Season of 2011. It is unclear if this is a Japanese only date or a worldwide release.

Some features of the NGP include...

  • Higher Graphics - Roughly equivalent of early PS3 Graphics
  • Front and Rear facing cameras 
  • Always-On 3G Data Connection
  • A new cartridge style game storage - UMD officially scrapped
  • 5" OLED Touch-screen
  • Touch Pads on the rear of the system
  • Two analog sticks
There will be location based features implemented that will show you other NGP players nearby and the most popular games in your location. It looks as though Sony has partnered heavily with Google in the implementation of Android-like features in the NGP. They have also planned to launch a Playstation service on Android devices including phones and tablets that brings the Playstation experience to the devices. PSP games and possibly Playstation 1 games will be made available for purchase to play on Android phones and tablets. 

Sony's main goal with the NGP and the Playstation launch on Android is to have a fluid gaming experience. To start a game on your PS3, walk out the door and continue that game on your NGP. To check in on your stats from your phone and tablet. 

Sony's main tagline for the NGP and the Android Playstation launch is...

The power is now in your hands
Head past the break for Sony's press shots!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Beauty Lives - Sarah Slean: A Review

Beauty Lives is Sarah Slean's latest release. The album is a compilation of old and rare songs that had been played live but never recorded in studio. The album features ten songs that were voted on by Sarah's fans. Before the recording process, with the co-operation of LittleSlean, live recordings of several songs were made available and the voting process begun. Between the votes and personal decisions by Sarah, the track listing is as follows...

  1. Count Me Out
  2. Everything By the Gallon
  3. My Song
  4. Ogoni Star
  5. Sadie
  6. Closer
  7. Hooligans
  8. The Right Words
  9. I Do
  10. Glenn Gould Song
The album, overall, has a very cabaret and melancholy feel. The songs mostly seem to centre on a feeling of longing and regret. The album felt personal on first listen to me and it's definitely an album to sit down with a glass of wine and lament with. 

Some of the stand out tracks for me upon first listening was Count Me Out, The Right Words and Glenn Gould Song. After listening more and more to the album, Ogoni Star, Closer, and My Song also put themselves forward as well. 

Sarah's writing style takes such an insanely personal situation and puts it out as something very open and relatable piece. Count Me Out talks about being in a one-sided relationship. Where one person is so madly in love and the other just wants out. The song sounds as though it could be a whiny, self-satisfying type of song. But it comes across as a beautifully relatable piece. 

Sadie is an anthem to Sarah's future daughter. It tells the girl to be brave and strong, unlike her mother. To not let the issues she or the world goes through to weigh down on her like they have on herself. It seems to be a madly personal song but the song is so innocent and sweet it's really more of a self-empowering anthem. A reminder to be strong and believe in yourself. 

Closer is a song that relates to me on a madly personal level. It describes an unhealthy relationship that you just can't seem to get out of. The fear in taking the step away to be healthy and safe. 

Overall, I think this is a great introduction to Sarah Slean and is a really empowering album despite the sad tone that runs throughout it. It's available online through iTunes, Amazon and other digital retailers and in physical form from her official site: 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

FFXIII-2 Announced

Square Enix announced today at an event held in Japan that Final Fantasy XIII-2 is in production and will be released in 2011. It is unclear if this release window applies to Japan only or whether it will be an international release in 2011.

Little has been released about FFXIII-2. The new logo above shows a character who is said to be similar to Lightning in temperament. It is rumoured to be a man with purple hair.

Official Trailer

Screenshots below!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tron: Legacy - Film Review

So I went to see Tron: Legacy on opening night with a few friends. The first thing I have to say is that the visuals were amazing. The budget for Tron: Legacy definitely set new standards for visuals in a modern-age film. The CGI was seamless and the use of 3D wasn't tacky or half-assed. It felt immersive, which is how 3D should be done.

Now those of us who've seen the original Tron, you're in for a treat. The additions they'd made to this world many of us have become enamoured with are, to be put simply, drool-worthy. Everything is richer and more electronic feeling. Gone are the days of hand-drawn animations overtop of film cell. This is a new generation of Tron that still feels remarkably like the previous one.

If you're in to the visceral side of film making, this is a treat for your senses. The sound is beautifully balanced, the visuals crisp and clean and the overall design is a film designers dream.

The plot of Tron: Legacy is more of what you'd expect. Not to say that this is a bad thing at all. A program gone renegade, the resistance fighting against them, etc.

The film also does a great job of setting itself up for those people who didn't see the original Tron in the opening scenes. We see Kevin Flynn explaining the world of Tron and telling him all about the improvements and things he's done since the first film. He's turned CLU in to a mirror image of himself that has AI thought potential to help him run things while he's not around with Tron.

In the mean time, you can guess what's happened. CLU has become corrupt, believing that his assignment of creating the perfect world no longer includes Kevin Flynn. So when Kevin enters The Grid, CLU terminates Tron, Kevin's protector, and sends him on the run.

Unfortunately during this time, when a portal opens in to this world it only remains open for about eight hours and once the portal is closed, it cannot be opened from the inside. Kevin becomes stuck there. In the real world, Sam Flynn, Kevin's son, grows up without a father and becomes some-what of a recluse. Despite owning major shares in his father's company, he remains out of the company.

After one of his father's old colleague's, Tron's original User, receives a page from a line that's been dead for nearly thirty years Sam heads to his father's old Arcade and is sucked in to The Grid. The rest of the plot advances along with Sam, Kevin, and Quorra, a program part of the small resistance, attempting to get out of The Grid to shut down CLU from the outside.

Many revelations about the world of Tron are made during the film and I don't want to give away too much of the plot before you go out and see it, but while it's not the most amazing plot out there, it fits well in the film and puts forward the best experience you can expect from a movie like Tron: Legacy.

Over all I'd have to give the movie a great recommendation. If you're in to technology, saw the original or are just curious about what it might be like, go see it! I think it's something everyone can enjoy,