Movie Review: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

July 2, 2010 in Movie Reviews by pacejmiller

Twilight hype continues to rage around the world with the release of the third film in the “Saga” — Eclipse.  I just went to see it with my sister who is visiting from out of town.  She’s not a Twilight “fan” per se, but she was excited.  I on the other hand, having read the book at the beginning of the year, was a little more ambivalent about the whole thing, but still wanted to see it.

Well, the third instalment of Twilight fever was a bit of a “meh” affair.  It picks up where the second film left off, with Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) in blissful love with her vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), and neglecting her werewolf best friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), who has a hopeless crush on her.  But all is not well because people are dying under mysterious circumstances in Seattle and it appears Bella is the ultimate target.  Who could it be?  Trust me, it’s bleedingly obvious.

Director David Slade (who directed the impressive 30 Days of Night and the excellent Hard Candy) probably did all he could with this one.  While it contained the most climatic dramatic and action sequences of the series thus far, Eclipse had me yawning and laughing (at the unintentional humour) more regularly than I should have.

The novel version of Eclipse is referred to by many Twilight fans as the best of the Saga, though I personally thought it was very long and not much happened until the very end.  Plus that Bella is really annoying!  So to be honest I thought the movie was better than the book because it only took up 2 hours as opposed to a couple of weeks and still managed to essentially cover all the main points of the novel.

By now we’re all familiar with the core characters and their traits, so we don’t find out anything new about them.  What we have is more of the same old from the last two films (sexual tension and corny dialogue), but even more dramatic and intense.

Bella continues to be torn between two “men” who love her and can’t decide what she wants to do with her life.  I’ve been a fan of Kristen Stewart since Into the Wild, but there’s no denying that she was irritating in this one.  Her acting was better (she showed more range than that singular “I’ve got something stuck in my throat” expression) but it didn’t make Bella a more sympathetic character.  There were many whispers of “slut” throughout the cinema during a couple of scenes!

Rob Patz’s Edward Cullen takes a bit of a back seat in this one, even though he has more screen time than in New Moon.  He is still disgustingly sweet and overprotective, but he felt strangely hollow.  It may have something to do with the constant strain on his face and in his voice.  Give the poor guy some metamucil.

Again, it’s up to Taylor Lautner’s Jacob Black and his ripped bod to save the show.  Lautner has some horribly melodramatic lines, but to his credit, he manages to pull most them off without generating laughter.  He’s the only central character out of the three to develop any sort of connection with me.

The returning cast (such as Billy Burke, Anna Kendrick, Dakota Fanning, Ashley Greene and Kellan Lutz etc) do a solid job with their smaller roles, and it was good to find out the back stories of some of the vampires and werewolves through flashbacks.  However, the casting of Bryce Dallas Howard as the villain Victoria was a terrible choice to replace Rachelle Lefevre.  She has the same long red curls but has zero menace.  A real disappointment considering what a fantastic actress she is.

To sum it all up, Eclipse is a passable effort for the third film of a blockbuster franchise.  Nothing about it is great, but I can’t exactly point to anything that was done too badly.  It gives fans what they want — which is more mushy stuff between the three leads, plus more vampire/werewolf action — but it’s unlikely to turn non-fans into new fans of the Saga.

3 stars out of 5

PS: It was interesting to see several characters sporting Justin Bieber haircuts.

Game Review: God of War III (PS3)

July 2, 2010 in Best Of, Game Reviews by pacejmiller

I just finished playing the third installment in the now-legendary God of War franchise brought to Sony’s PS3 by Santa Monica Studio.  It was a rushed effort because I bought the game in Hong Kong for a friend, who was kind enough to allow me to “test” the game for him first.

I’ve been a fan of the God of War series since the original, and I had a great time with the sequel, both on the PS2.  God of War III is the first of the franchise to appear on the significantly more powerful PS3, and it really shows.  I really can’t say enough about this game because it lived up to all my expectations and more.  Without a doubt one of the most impressive games I’ve ever played.

I had my doubts about God of War III when I first placed the game in the console.  Unlike most other games, there was no grand pre-game intro to demonstrate the prowess of the PS3.  Instead, all you got was the protagonist Kratos’ massive and familiar head.  When I started a new game, that was when the cinematics began, and while it was pretty, it was nothing I hadn’t seen on the PS3 before.  And when the gameplay finally began, it felt very familiar as Kratos wielded the same weapon (but with a different name, ie the Blades of Exile) he had in the two previous games, and the enemies (a few skeleton dudes) weren’t anything new.

This raised alarm bells and had me thinking — were they just milking another title out of the popular franchise with basically the same game but on a next-gen console?

Let me assure you, those doubts were soon put to bed for good with the first boss fight against Poseidon, which effectively takes place on the body of a colossal Titan (Gaia).

(For those unfamiliar with the God of War series, it’s immersed in Greek mythology and is about this guy called Kratos, a warrior who is tricked into slaying his family and turns out to be the son of Zeus.  He’s an ugly anti-hero hero of few words and no mercy, and the whole series he is fuelled by a desire for revenge against the Gods that destroyed his life.  The stories from the three games are linked.)

And so began an eye-opening adventure that took the franchise soaring to a level I had not experienced before.  What the makers of God of War III have done is taken all the best elements from the first two games of the series and charged them up with the PS3 engine, AND added incredible new elements with ingenious innovation and creativity.

Let me try and break these down one by one.

(to read on click on ‘more…’)

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