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DVD Movie Review: Conor McGregor: Notorious

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Conor McGregor: Notorious (UK Rating: 15)

Conor McGregor is a modern athletic legend. Thanks to his sky rocketing career, and his impressive record setting achievement, he's become a figure that many think of as soon as they think of UFC. It's not surprising. He has an intense, but somehow charming personality. His laugh is loud and genuine, and he surrounds himself with an excellent crew. Many of his closest friends are also on his team, and his girlfriend, Dee, is a constant cheerleader in his corner. A movie about this group of people, then, all cheering on Conor's sky rocketing career, should be a wonderful experience, right? Sadly, it's really not.

The problem is that Gavin Fitzgerald has turned out a film that sticks so adamantly to being a humdrum documentary that it fails to make much of its subject matter resonate. The end result is a viewing experience that would feel at home as a one-time special on MTV in the mid-2000s. It's so by the books that by the time it's over, it's hard to really remember anything of importance. This is sad, because it results in glossing over the fights that made McGregor so famous, in favour of showing him train, and inflating his ego.

There's nothing wrong with admiring the star, but this is ninety percent of what the film does. Even in what should have been the most humbling moment, the dip if you will, it manages to quickly gloss over McGregor's failure. Instead, it almost immediately jumps back into building McGregor's image up, resulting in a moment that loses all of its weight. Consequently, his return to his former, more confident self is robbed of any sense of power. Sure, you don't want them to make it feel scripted, but here it manages to feel conceited. Like the film is so uncomfortable not building up the McGregor name, it skitters past it, holding its breath for a few moments rather than getting right back into the fun.

Sadly, the whole of Notorious is like this. Everything feels so much larger than life that it actually robs the film of its ability to make you believe it. This isn't to say Conor's accomplishments aren't astounding, as they clearly are. This is just to say that for something that was shot over the course of four years, that clearly wants to dig deeper into its subject matter, it never really exposes anything you couldn't find on YouTube, or a well calculated Google search. Actually, this does expose something interesting about his first major fight that was kept from everyone but his team. Still, this probably won't make you any more a fan of the film, so much as it makes Conor's accomplishments later in the film that much more impressive.

Aside from this, though, there are a couple of weird, almost scripted, sounding lines, and McGregor's struggle to get to fame as a younger man is brushed over far too quickly. However, this isn't a terrible documentary, just an underwhelming one. If you're a fan of McGregor's, or of UFC in general, add a couple points because you're clearly the audience this is aiming at. Sadly, it doesn't seem interested in roping new fans in, simply getting the existing ones more pumped up. This begs the question, though, of is this just a 90-minute commercial about Conor McGregor? Unfortunately, that's all too often how it feels.

Conor McGregor: Notorious is a fairly by the books documentary that seems less interested in feeling and more interested in plugging. This is a shame, because almost everyone in the film is interesting enough that this could have had some really interesting moments throughout. However, thanks to the director spending most of his footage just filming everyone talk about how great McGregor is, few of the moments truly feel like they matter.

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DVD Movie Review: The Transfiguration

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The Transfiguration (UK Rating: 15)

To fully appreciate what The Transfiguration does, one must go into it with the right mindset. While the film toys with horror, it is much more accurate to refer to it as a drama. Following vampire obsessed Milo, a young orphan living with his older brother, this film tackles several subjects. Abuse, optimism, gang violence, love, and moving on are all important themes The Transfiguration attempts to address, and for the most part, it does this splendidly. Unfortunately, its shortcomings are too abundant, and too obvious, to simply ignore. After a run in cinemas back in April via Thunderbird Releasing, the movie landed on DVD in August, and Cubed3 checks out whether you should dash out to pick it up.

Milo (Eric Ruffon) is an outcast. The kids at his school chase him and bully him, just as a gang in his neighbourhood does. Milo finds solace in vampires, being an absolute savant when it comes to not only their history in cinema, but also them as creatures. One day, when returning home, he meets Sophie (Chloe Levine), a girl who is just moving into his apartment building. She is, much like Milo, an orphan, moving in with her grandfather, an abusive old man. Their relationship is interesting to follow, as it feels natural.

Milo, however, has a secret life that he leads. As the film opens, viewers get to see Milo sucking the blood out of a man's neck in a bathroom stall. He follows patterns as he kills other people, seemingly needing to keep a good schedule to ensure he kills regularly. This storyline comes with some difficult to answer questions that make the film both more powerful and weaker… but more on that in a bit.

This is because the central theme seems to be Milo, a young man, balancing his home life, his love life, and his secret life, over the course of one summer. Milo is clearly a disturbed teenager, having witnessed an unspeakable tragedy. Director Michael O'Shea frames the tragedy well, leaving the audience with fleeting glimpses of what happened, and what seemingly led Milo down the path he is on. This works even better when, a little under halfway through, an event occurs that changes the whole dynamic of the movie.

Really, The Transfiguration gets most of its strength through its ambiguity. For most of the film, you might wonder if Milo is, indeed, a vampire, and that O'Shea is redefining the rules here. Morally, though, Milo does things that are truly bad. There's no doubt about it. However, the film never forces you to decide how to feel about him, as he usually follows up doing something bad by doing something good. However, it isn't just here that the film manages to succeed.

The Transfiguration deals with everything in a very unvarnished way. Things just are. Milo's mental state may be the result of his environment, or the myriad of tragedies he's had to suffer, but it feels like O'Shea either feels unqualified, or that it's not his place to answer. Milo and Sophie being in an interracial relationship is merely coincidence, hardly important enough for anyone in the film to bring it up, beyond mentioning she's a white girl on occasion, and wondering why she lives in the neighbourhood. What's more important is how Milo responds to these things.

Milo couldn't care less that Sophie is white, nor does he seek to blame the world around him for his faults. After witnessing a rather violent act committed by the gang in his neighbourhood, he knows he has to keep quiet, as he can't be perceived as a snitch. Milo feels like a real human being, as do most of the characters. No one feels like a sketch or caricature, instead feeling honest and raw, and the picture is all the better for it.

Even the violence is remarkably sparse, used as a reminder that Milo's demons are very real, and very threatening. Again, it isn't made clear whether or not he is a vampire until the very end. Michael O'Shea has crafted a thoughtful film that, instead of making statements, frames one young man's experience, and allows you to come up with those statements on your own. It's fantastic, and so uncommon in film these days, because The Transfiguration never tells you how to feel, it simply sets the facts in front of you, hoping you will come to a conclusion as the events proceed. Thankfully, the performances are fantastic, and the writing is positively outstanding, so this is able to carry that naturalistic vibe safely over the finish line.

Sadly, though, it isn't without its blemishes. There are far too many scenes that come off as useless, mostly with Milo walking aimlessly, or going to the bathroom. Listening to him explain vampire movies can get tiresome, also, as he really focuses on one adjective to describe them most of the time. It almost becomes a catchphrase for the character, and that seems needless in this instance.

Also, the film has a hard time framing the motivations of some of the characters accurately. Milo's older brother, Lewis, comes off as both brash and caring, and it's hard to tell if he's using tough love sometimes, or he's just mean. The leader of the gang is also confusing, seemingly being a genuinely nice guy, while also being ruthless, and even occasionally kind of dumb.

The most annoying part, though, is the shaky cam. While this can make a film feel more raw and lifelike, here it gets distracting and frustrating. Too often, shots hang too long, making this effect all the more irritating than it was previously.

In order for one to truly enjoy The Transfiguration, they must be willing to accept that the movie gives no easy answers. While it can occasionally be too ambiguous, the line it tows is honest and real. It deals with themes like race and class structure by being blunt and it deals with mental illness by making no excuses. If you want an honest opinion on the film, then, you're going to have to watch it for yourself. Why? Well, without witnessing the horror that Milo is privy to, it is difficult to say with any certainty you could come to your own conclusions. Fortunately, the film is all the better for it.

Review: Trulon: The Shadow Engine (PlayStation 4)

CCG meets RPG in this charming mix up title. How well does it play its cards?

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