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Review: Interrogation: You will be deceived (PC)

"I am the one who's asking the questions!!!"

Review: Legend of the Skyfish (PlayStation 4)

What's in that tackle box? Lure, trusty fishing pole... a review? Now what's that doing here?

Movie Review: Beast of Burden


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Beast of Burden (UK Rating: 15)

Beast of Burden is a mostly single-location thriller starring Daniel Radcliffe, Pablo Schreiber and Grace Gummer. The film tells the story of Sean, a desperate man trying to make some money to save his wife's life. In order to do this, he needs to fly a plane somewhere and ensure the cargo is safe when it arrives. He's clearly a man who has made mistakes, and even more so, a man who loves his wife. All the while, he has the people who want him to deliver the cargo, and federal agents who want to intercept the cargo, making the situation even more stressful.
 
Beast of Burden is a highly conflicted film. Sean (played by Radcliffe) wants to just focus on the mission at hand. Between the cartel he is delivering for, and the DEA agent (played by Schreiber) he is also, secretly, delivering for, he doesn't have the time to focus on the mission at hand. This would be more tense if the film weren't trying to juggle so much. Mix in some calls with his wife, Jen (played by Gummer), and this film is largely about watching a man freak out on the phone while flying a plane.
 
This isn't entirely set in one location, but the majority of the movie is set within the cockpit of the plane Sean is flying. These shots are mostly fine, and the tension is generally pretty good. The scenes outside the plane aren't particularly good though. Single-location movies (which this almost is) have phone calls in them all the time. Something like Buried uses phone calls to great effect, and there's no cutting to the caller's location.

Beast of Burden cuts to these locations enough to result in any tension previously built in the plan being completely deflated. Now, instead of seeing a man struggle to fly a largely broken-down plane, we're in the office of the DEA agent watching him eat, or with Jen, watching her feel sick. All the tension is taking place elsewhere, and it makes these excursions feel like gigantic let downs.


 

None of this is helped by the performances or script. Radcliffe's American accent is... okay, for the most part. It's not very believable, but he commits to his lines, which makes up for the somewhat shoddy accent work. Gummer does a good job portraying Jen, but Jen is an awful character. She whines about unimportant things, she's very rude and snippy with Sean, and most of her dialogue just feels pointless. In fact, much of the films dialogue feels pointless.
 
Conversations never really have time to breathe, instead being ellipses filled oral sputtering from characters who are largely blank canvases with a sign that reads "Insert Human Here." Sean is a man who has made mistakes; Jen is almost a stereotype of the "human female," always nagging and threatening to leave -she's more concerned at one point about making sure Sean knows what kind of wine she and her friend were drinking than any rational person would be.
 
...Then there's the DEA Agent, Bloom. He's also a terrible character, portraying the stoic, unfeeling government robot of a man who's just interested in doing the job and being done with it. He doesn't care if the things he's promised go awry because he did something incredibly stupid, he just wants the job done. He says things that make you hate him, and the film never justifies this. He's just a bad person, and his presence in the film feels completely unwarranted, especially after the ending.

Side note, there are two instances of gun fire in this movie that make no sense. The first has Radcliffe shoot something, to death, that seems logically impossible. The second occurs because... reasons? It's like one of the actors was told he had a real gun, panicked, and then everyone decided to keep it as a plot device.

All of this really falls on the script. The directing is merely ok, and the performances are just fine. The script though, fails at almost every turn. Fun ideas are never explored, such as repeated calls to Sean from an insurance company, which almost brought some levity to the film. Instead we get, mad call from Jen (because she's a woman), a mad call from the DEA agent (cause he's a no-nonsense government type), and then mad calls from the cartel leader earlier in the film. The one person who doesn't call Sean mad as hell is the one person who should be - but there's nothing like a calm and calculated bad guy to raise the tension, right? Please.
 
Beast of Burden does feature some tense moments, and it's not the worst movie you could spend 90 minutes with. It is, however, poorly written. There's a moment involving a gun and a window that is laughable, and these kinds of moments break up this movie. The performances are fine for the most part, and the directing is largely okay. The real gut punch here is the script, and its failure to contain anything imaginative, consistent, or even realistic. It just basks in clichés and plot holes, and while it's a tolerable watch, that's about it.

 

Movie Review: Singularity


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Singularity (UK Rating: 12)

Don't you just hate when a company creates robots to save humanity and then becomes evil and ends up wiping it out? It's the worst, right? Singularity is another film about an evil corporation, or at least one with a crazy CEO, who ends up dooming humanity. Like many other films with this plot line, it follows two survivors, Calia and Andrew, as they attempt to reach a sanctuary. All is not what it seems though, and that evil CEO is monitoring them closely, trying to find the last of humanity to snuff it out.

Singularity has some interesting ideas, though nothing particularly innovative. Sadly it squanders every last one of those ideas, and manages to be a film that's entertaining for all the worst possible reasons. For a sci-fi thriller that's about the death of humanity, this film manages to be so unintentionally funny that if it were a comedy there would be something almost brilliant about it. It's not though. It's a very self-serious film, and it's painful to watch it try to be so.

Beginning with the cinematography, as it's probably the best thing (from a technical stand point) about this. It's mostly competent, but during action sequences, the shaky cam is nauseating and very erratic. During one chase sequence, it becomes very hard to even tell what's going on, as the shaky cam seems to be mounted to a short skunk having a panic attack. That is to say, it's low, and it is bringing all the 'shaky' one could want from their shaky cam.

Next up is the acting. It can often be difficult to muster up the kind of callous apathy one needs to tear into someone's performance that some bad acting warrants, but in the case of Singularity, it's a hard truth. The performances here are extremely bad. Calia is probably the best of the bunch, and the actress portraying her never seems to be sure what she wants to do with the part. That could easily be blamed on the bad script, but that'll have to wait a bit.

Andrew's performance is the most obviously bad, with all of his panicked looks appearing closer to someone who's just been told that "Jessica called off, so we need you to work her shift too" - definitely not the look of someone who is facing down a giant death machine. Even when he's just existing, whether it be a nice moment of peace or he is deep in thought, he never seems particularly committed to bringing anything to the character other than getting the lines out in a timely fashion.


 

John Cusack plays the aforementioned CEO and his performance is generally the funniest. He always looks half asleep, and most of his scenes are relegated to him staring at the protagonists from a distance and pushing his pointer finger into his chin. His dialogue is ridiculous, often coming off like a smug guy at a party telling a young girl how he's not allowed to take AP Bio next semester cause he would make the other students look bad.

The dialogue throughout this movie is astounding. There's no real misuse of technical terms or fake science jargon like you might expect, which is nice. However, there's a lot of waxing on about existence from Cusack and his brother, Damien (who may give the best performance of the film, by the way, though that isn't saying much). Andrew offers nothing of real value to any conversation, and again, Calia has the most to say, but also has the worst line in the whole movie. If you watch this film, keep on the lookout for the line, "You're the most dangerous thing that's ever existed." It might not sound too bad, but in context, it's so baffling inept it's deserving of being memed.

Calia also gets voice over time where she explains painfully obvious thing after painfully obvious thing. Exposition in this film is handled with all the subtlety of hiding rocks in someone's spaghetti. Ii's either Calia prattling on about something that is blatantly obvious, or the opening moments of the film where the film has on screen text to lay out the little bit of background you might actually need to know what's happening.

Then there's the actual story, and boy howdy, does that miss the mark too. For a film that's so overloaded with standard tropes (oblivious boy gets saved by battle hardened girl, humans are just as scary as machines, evil corporation destroying humanity, etc.), it fails to do any of them correctly. Character decisions are just meant to move them from place to place, rarely making anything even approaching sense. Often moments that are meant to build tension fall apart due to glaring plot holes or characters acting in a way only poorly conceived movie characters could.


The films special effects are, surprisingly, mostly alright. There are certain effects, like explosions, this film doesn't handle particularly well, but the look of most of the monsters is fairly ok. Fight scenes are a wash though, being boring and poorly choreographed. Again the camera work does them no favours, especially during a revelatory scene about Andrew. Thanks to shoddy editing though, which results in much of the film feeling like a summarized version of itself, all the pros are quickly lost under an enormous pile of cons.

 Singularity has one saving grace, and that's that it's an unintentionally hilarious movie. It will induce laughs, either from its terrible dialogue, its subpar performances, or its ridiculous plot points. There are some good ideas here, but they are handled so poorly, that you'll likely find yourself not caring in the slightest. For a laugh, it's a passable treat. For literally any other reaction, this is a failed experiment that will wipe out the enthusiasm of almost any viewer.

Review: Fractured Minds (PlayStation 4)

A poem to those who suffer from an unlikely source, Fractured Minds come to the PS4, and Cubed3 tries some immersion therapy.

Movie Review: Teslafy Me


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Teslafy Me (UK Rating: Unrated)

Teslafy Me is a documentary that explores the life of the great, and by many accounts, underrated, inventor, Nikola Tesla. An immigrant who came to USA and was one of the minds behind the so-called 'Current War,' Tesla's life was a mix of high successes and ultimately disappointing lows. Teslafy Me tries it's best to, in just over 60 minutes, encapsulate this man's achievements, but never really manages to accomplish any of its own.
 
From a cinematography standpoint, this is extremely pleasant to look at. Shots of city streets and skylines are heavily peppered in, presumably as a reminder of Tesla's achievements. They are directed impeccably, perfectly framing each moment on the screen like a moving work of art. Additionally, the film uses a lot of historical footage, especially of Tesla's rival, Thomas Edison, to great effect. Amidst all of this, though, the narrator manages to get his lines out, and really not much else.
 
This is a very rudimentary documentary, and the narrator's performance is so typical, it does nothing to elevate the experience as a whole. Perhaps a slightly more nuanced or emotional performance would have done some good, but by all accounts, this is the same kind of narration you'd expect from any other science documentary. Furthermore, the documentary fumbles audio a lot. Even though the audio for the narrator is easy to listen to, several of the interviews simply aren't. While most are fine, several of them are difficult to hear or scratchy sounding. Interviews in this film aren't great to begin with, but this failure is instantly noticeable and extremely annoying.

 

 
Worse yet, the interviewees are all over the place in terms of their actual relation to Tesla. This is even more bizarre considering very few of them get any real screen time. Between a celebrity numerologist and an actress, it feels like the film needed to find anyone who knew anything about this guy and just stick them on screen every chance they got. Many of the people being interviewed aren't really doing anything other praising Tesla and his triumphs, so they just feel redundant.

This isn't to say every interview or bit of exposition isn't ultimately interesting. It just would have been nice if they had taken some time to focus on those interviewees. Ultimately, this film fails to be great or even memorable due to its short runtime. By all accounts, this is a pretty traditional documentary, and if you find Tesla interesting, it will serve you just fine.

Teslafy Me is about as paint by numbers a documentary as one is likely to find. This makes its shortcomings very bizarre, and its runtime makes them very noticeable. The film is shot beautifully, and the subject matter is interesting. However, thanks to redundant interviews, run of the mill narration, and audio issues, this is really just a subpar documentary with pretty paint on top of it.

 

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