Entertaining Platt: The Grey

January 29, 2012 § 3 Comments

Image Beware, for here there be spoilers:

My pal Josh suggests that the supporting cast of The Grey started dying off once they learned whatever important lesson they were expected to glean for themselves.

I’d like to think it was that symmetrical and metaphysical, but if that’s the case:
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Entertaining Peery, The Grey. Carnahan (2012)

January 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

I will go ahead and help potential viewers of this film thinking that the film is a “Flight of the Phoenix” (1965)/(2004) in the snow… with wolves. Heck, it is not even “The Edge” (1997).

Joe Carnahan seems to be taking a break from films like “Smokin’ Aces” and the “The A-Team.”

This film is not, in my opinion, an action/adventure film, as it is advertised, or a thriller as some have it billed. I would say it falls much closer into the metaphysical thought-provoker film category. Dare I say, Art film? This is not a bad thing, especially how “The Grey” worked for me.

The title alone, which is not referenced in film, made me think of the book, The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis which deals with similar issues that I think “The Grey” tackles. The book’s narrator finds himself in a shrouded, joyless, city: “Grey Town” very much represented by the night-clad and otherworldly oil complex where the film’s grim narrator Liam Neeson has exiled himself. After a short and ill-fated plane ride, the characters find themselves in the deep Alaskan/Canadian wilds, or they might as well be in C.S. Lewis’ Limbo.

With that said, while viewing the film, I didn’t take anything at face value, and most likely a different viewer will have a different experience.

Some aspects of the film I noticed that further reinforced my take on the film are the camera work and how scenes are setup. For a film set in a vast and harsh wilderness, the alienating wide-angle vista shot is simply not used, with first-person camera work the rule more often than not. The film is almost entirely shot in close-up on the characters. As the above average film student will know, this is to establish empathy with the characters and this is a film interested in how the characters handle their situation.

Carnahan also taunts a recent film convention, and one he has used often, in that the chatty comic relief is flat out rejected by the main character and is one of the first to leave the party. The humor that exists is human and does not feel like prefab one liners.

What the audience learns about the characters is what the characters ultimately learn about themselves in the course of the film. Once they learn this, they often leave the party. Hence, its not really about fighting the wolves. In a lot of ways the wolves are manifest of the human characters’ inner struggles and is reflected by the fights with the wolves being depicted very frenetic and shot too close up to see what is really going on.

Even so, the film does have an even measure of Liam Neeson bad-assery. Oh yeah, stay until the end of the credits! (At least I’m told there is a last few seconds scene, I missed it and can’t comment or verify.)

Rating: 4.5 stars if you like to think about what you are watching
2.5 if you are expecting a Liam Neeson action film.

by Josh Peery

Entertaining Platt: Star Wars: The Old Republic

January 26, 2012 § 2 Comments

It's growing on me...

I’ve been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic since launch. My 30 days of free play time have come and gone. And I shall continue with my subscription.

Sure, in many ways, SWTOR is World of Warcraft with a Star Wars skin. But, for someone like me who has been a Star Wars fan far longer than I’ve enjoyed Warcraft, that’s not a bad thing. In truth, SWTOR seems more to me like Star Wars Galaxies (rest in peace) with a WoW skin.

I’ve played a smuggler named Stamper on the Lord Adraas server up to Level 22. Here’s how it all breaks down for me so far:

* I love the class storyline concept and execution. I enjoy that I’m becoming immersed in an adventure that matches the kind of character that I want to play, and I really like the fact that it carries me from world to world. Getting my ship wasn’t a simple matter of stopping by a vendor when I hit Level 20 – I had to experience a series of adventures that led me to the goal.
* I really enjoy the sidekick idea. On WoW, I was partial to hunters for a long time because I liked having a pet to help deal damage and distract bad guys from hitting me. But in SWTOR it’s even better, because the sidekicks have their own stories and they evolve too. It also makes adventuring around the galaxy a lot less of a hassle, so I don’t have to bug other players for help until I get to group content. By the same token, it also makes fights feel more epic because the two of us tackle four or five bad guys at a time.
* I’m partial to the writing. The dialogue’s really good overall for the characters I’ve met, but I also enjoy hearing what my smuggler has to say in different situations. As often as possible, I go for the smartass route.
* I could do without most of the cut scenes. I’d prefer that those be reserved for the big-ticket missions or the class storyline missions. If you’re just sending me out to kill 20 Gundarks, you can do that without two minutes of conversation options. Still, I admire the effort that went into doing that much quality control work – writing, voicing, implementing, and testing it all must have been a major undertaking.
* Space combat’s slowly growing on me. At first, I kind of hated the on-rails style of the space battles in SWTOR. Really, each of these missions are similar to the Burning Crusades “fly around and bomb things within X time” missions. But the more I play them, the more I get into them. I’d prefer something more free-form, but right now it’s better than no space flight at all.
* The community’s pretty great. So far, I haven’t run into anything quite like WoW’s old-school Barrens chat. We’ve got the RP channel for dedicated roleplayers. And I’ve lucked into the best Star Wars guild ever: <Has A Bad Feeling About This>.

So, I’m having a great time and I plan to stick around. Drop me a line if you’re in-game!



Entertaining Platt: Storage Wars

January 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

As you can see, I'm crushing the competition!

So, as Josh might’ve mentioned, we’ve been pretty addicted to Storage Wars lately.

I’m also glad he mentioned that I’m stomping everybody in the leaderboards, because that saves me having to say it over and over and over again. I’ll just say it over again: STOMPING.

My girlfriend Catherine got me hooked on the A&E series. So when I learned that there was a Facebook game based on it (and using some of the personalities who appear in the show), I decided to give it a shot.

I’ve been hooked ever since.

Things I like about it:

  • Sort of a slot machine. You get a few lockers to investigate and click a button until money comes out (or you lose money, if you take risks on crappy storage units).
  • Bonus “concentration”-style challenges. I love the little bit where, as the clock ticks down toward bidding, you have to hunt for dollar signs in the hopes of getting a bonus.
  • Hidden prizes. I really liked the addition of treasures in some units that you want to find to amp up the value of a storage unit. HINT: One reason that I’m kicking so much butt on the leaderboards is that I only really play the auctions when I have treasures to find, and I almost always have a Magnet booster in my inventory to make sure that I know a treasure is in the unit. When there’s treasure, I bid until I win and I don’t relent. When I don’t have a Magnet, I can usually count on clues from the game itself with pop-up text relating to one of the treasures, but this doesn’t always happen.

Things I don’t like about it:

  • Visuals get awfully repetitive after a while.
  • Progression isn’t as intuitive as it should be. For example, when I beat all the storage units on the current map, it opens access to the next map – except sometimes I’ll go to the newly opened map and see that the location is still locked. It’s not clear whether I need to be a higher level or if I’ve failed to complete content in the previous map.

Definitely worth playing if you like a slot machine-style game that you can pick up and put down rather casually.

Entertaining Peery: “Storage Wars” by Eyes Wide Games

January 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

If you have watched A&E’s reality series “Storage Wars” and liked it, then I have the casual game for you! Atlanta’s Eyes Wide Games has developed a great little Facebook game that has me and Wes addicted. (Wes is currently kicking my ass and is at the top of the leaderboard, grrrr…)

You might say: “Hey, all Facebook games are alike.”  Usually I’d agree with you, but in Storage Wars there isn’t any grinding fish, harvesting crops, invading your enemies, or matching rocks in sets of three.

Like the TV show, the game is a mixture of scavenger hunt, strategic bidding, cash and equipment management, and skullduggery.

So give it a try, add me as a friend, I’ll send you free stuff. (probably)

In the meantime, keep an eye open for new offerings from Eye Wide Games!

(yeah, that pun kinda sucked)

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