Friday, February 13, 2009


"Religulous" is a docu-comedy, somewhere between being like that of Michael Moore and Borat. I went in expecting to hate it. The concept of lampooning religion in a Borat-like manner seemed in poor taste to me, but then I watched the film, and was surprised to not hate it, and often laughed.

Now, here's why I didn't hate it: Bill Maher openly adresses the audience what his views are - that he believes Religion to be a detrimental farce, and then he states that the purpose of this documentary is to find out why people believe in religion. Well, here's a secret, his purpose really isn't so much finding out the why, so much as pushing his views of, "come on, we really don't know" to try to cast doubt in his subjects. So, he flip-flops from being nice to them, to attacking their beliefs. Surprisingly, in one instance of extreme attack, brings his subject to hearty laughs.

Yes, Bill Maher is a bit of an ass to his subjects, but he's also consistent - attacking even people who, to me, seemed like he'd agree with. And, sometimes he leaves them speechless, and sometimes they leave him speechless. The most interesting subjects I found were the two Vatican priests who seemed to be wearing attack-proof vests, or something. They were amused by all his assumptions on Christianity, agreed with all he found ridiculous, namely taking the Bible 100% literally. They put him in his place a bit in the sense that Maher wasn't so much attacking Christianity, but an interpretation of it, though, I'd imagine it's the interpretation that most follow. One of the Vatican priests even states that the Bible shouldn't be interpreted as science and I'm betting he also believes in evolutionism, which I'm sure the other Vatican priest also believes.

It should also be noted that Maher doesn't just attack Christianity, but more time is spent on it, and his attacks on the others aren't quite as thorough, and some are easy targets.

The film does go on and on a bit, and uses the occasional tasteless gimick (some out of place subtitles and sound cues), and has two endings.

The first ending addresses the purpose of the film that he stated at the beginning, then the second ending addresses his real reason for the film - that he believes religion is promoting the end of the world and will itself end up being the cause, then he goes on a preachy rant for about 5 or 10 minutes. I liked the first ending, but if he wants to stick with his second, well, it's his film.

So, did I enjoy the film? Yes, I did, but I don't think it'll change too many peoples' minds about religion. Essentially, what you have is a lone missionary preaching his religion of "I don't know, and neither should you". It's an amusing point of view, brings some pretty good laughs, and ends with his closing sermon. If a person's not in his religion, it would be like walking into another religion's church. They might prefer it, and join, but unlike their own religion, the religion of "I don't know" doesn't promise anything cool in the afterlife - no chilling with Jesus, or 100 virgins, or planet of your own. The film actually addresses this, so it knows the film's somewhat futile. Frankly, the film shouldn't be seen as all that controversial, and I think the movie's fine with that. Controversial or not, the film simply wants to present its views. And, I personally appreciated its presentation, regardless of whether or not I agreed with it. Maher, along with every religion, has a right to present their viewpoint, even if Maher doesn't give the others much of a chance.

7.5/10 (if you really must need a rating...)

Author: J-P

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Max Payne

This is a video game adaptation, faithful to the game in premise alone. The premise being that the main character (played by Mark Wahlberg) is a cop who comes home to find his wife dead and baby gone (though, in the game, I believe the baby was also murdered).

Now, I don't remember the rest of the game's plot, just that it had a lot of ridiculously cool action throughout. The movie? Not so much, only in the last 20 minutes. The game's style I remember had sort of a throwback to old film noir, crossed with over the top 80's police actioner. I loved the game's style. The movie? A cool style as well; completely different, but cool. The movie's style is sort of a Sin City knock-off, like a graphic novel film noir feeling (in colour, though barely), but with a cool techno crossed with metal soundtrack. This style fits with the story, policier = noir, drugs = techno metal.

Is it a good movie, though? Well, 20 minutes of action in the end does not make this an action film, so what we're left with is a mystery thriller, which is neither mysterious or thrilling. Typically in mystery/thrillers many possible solutions are dangled infront of the audience, making them guessing at which is the right one. In this movie, however, there's only one possible solution, and more and more of it is presented. It's like getting a pet rat that is covered with a blanket, and you have to guess what it is. The tail's presented, and most people will say, "hey, it's a rat!", but some rodents have that sort of tail too, so it's back is then shown, well, there's hardly any question now, then the head's shown, and it is a rat. The movie expects surprise. And you might be if you've never seen a rat before (or in this case, a police thriller before).

So, expect heavy boredom through most of the film. Oh, and expect to raise an eyebrow at Jackie from "That 70s Show" playing... what? A dominatrix assassin? It's weird. And the plot about the drugs, well, I don't want to spoil it (yes I do, but I won't), but it's pretty weird too (even if it's obvious, it's still weird). And neither of them are weird in a good way. Though, their badness made the blandness more entertaining.

The film isn't atrociously horrible, I'll give it that. And, I enjoyed the last 20 minutes and was almost convinced the film was decent because of it, then I remembered the rest, and shuddered...


Author: J-P

Thursday, February 5, 2009

2 Game Reviews: Afro Samurai & Prince of Persia (PS3)

Yes, it is strange that the first set of reviews on a Movie Reviews site are for games, moving on:

Afro Samurai (PS3)

The controls are clunky and kind of broken, but managable.

The foes you'll be fighting are repetitious and predictable - one kind you can easily kill by just kicking then finishing off with a heavy attack, another kind by just hitting the light attack button, another kind by kicking, then light attack then heavy, repeat. Oh, and you can be killed without ever getting hit sometimes.

The voice acting is pretty good, though alot of the time it doesn't feel like the character on screen is actually saying what they're saying (the audio's usually directional, except for a lot of the dialogue isn't and really feels disconnected).

The camera takes turns controlling itself and letting you control it. If you point your right pad to the left, the camera moves right, up, it moves down, and there's no option to change that schematic, or to change anything in the game - like brightness, sound effects, subtitles, nothing. That, and you usually can't tell who's fighting you from where, but just randomly pushing buttons solves that.

Visually, the art design's pretty good, but the animation is often clunky, weird, and usually unconvincing (watch for foes running with swords - who carries swords like that?!). And a lot of the cutscenes can't be skipped, so if you die a lot in one area you have to watch the same lame cutscenes over and over.

The platforming is a chore, as is fighting as it's tedious. The story is taken from the movies, which I thought was bad to begin with. And the much advertised slicing foes feature isn't as special as it sounds.

Overall, the game isn't atrocious, but it isn't really worth playing either. It should probably be noted that there's a lot of gore, nudity, and language, like a lot.


Prince of Persia (PS3)

The worst thing about the game is the characters. They're flat, with interchangeably random moods, and have barely anything worhwhile to say, and talk A LOT.

The main point of the game is to get to certain areas marked with a circle and explode what looks to be light from out of yourself, that heals the land. Fine. But usually when you get there you could easily just head straight to the spot and do that exploding healing, but instead your characters will stop for innane banter and wait for a villain to come.

The game consists of doing this some twenty or so times, over areas that all look about the same, and you can only access about 5 areas at a time, then you have to stop go over the areas you've just beaten and collect small glowing star-like things. Like at least a hundred of them, then the next 5 areas are unlocked. And, that's all you'll be doing, collecting star-things, and playing what looks like the same level 20 times.

Oh, and you fight the same 7 or so villains over and over and over. And I don't mean they look the same, I mean they are the same. There's no real sense of accomplishing much.

Now, on to the good. It's kind of fun for about an hour. The platforming is overly simplistic, sometimes not even listening to your command (doing something ridiculously dumb instead), but usually working okay to well enough. And, the day scenes are a beaut'.

If there's a demo available, play that around 10 times instead, and it would be as though you've played the whole game.


Author: J-P