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Iron Criterion
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Will write for food
Will write for food

62 followers
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New Review: Deadpool 2.

Iron ventured to the cinemas recently to watch a grown man in spandex form a touching relationship with a 15-year-old kid.
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New Review: The Wicker Man (2006)

It's World Bee Day. It was either this, or Bee Movie.
The Wicker Man (2006) Quick Review
The Wicker Man (2006) Quick Review
thecrusadesofacritic.com
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The gameplay trailer for RAGE 2 has been revealed, and thus far it appears to have embraced the anarchic punk ethos which the 1st RAGE kept at arm’s length. RAGE 2 looks set to take the post Mad Max setting (the emergence of New civilisation jostles with skull and metal wearing bandits), and combine it with the DOOM reboot’s gameplay. The end result is set to be loud, fast, and colourful: the Fury Road of gaming. Everything the original should have been.

Most importantly, it looks FUN. Yes, a FUN game is being made: in a foreign brothel somewhere, an EA executive has choked to death on his own coke-vomit.

All this isn’t to say that I didn’t like the original game (released in 2010 and was the first new IP from id Software for quite some time). It’s just that, despite the wild apocalypse-punk aesthetic and furious gunplay, the game had the character of a Munford and Sons gig. RAGE had this marmite thing going on. Not a ‘you either love it or hate it deal’. But rather that it was brown, bland, and probably had a funny taste to it should you eat the disc.

RAGE is a First Person Shooter which takes place in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Probably America, 100 years after an asteroid destroyed most of everything. It’s one of those weird post-apocalyptic settings where no one particularly struggles, and rocking babes can walk around covered in sauce pans and bits of metal and not get raped to death. However, whilst the majority of the human race got to discover what happens when the rocks fall (hint: everyone dies), a select few were placed into cryogenic sleep.

You (no, not you you) awaken from your slumber to discover the world as you knew it has gone; everyone you know is dead; bandits, cannibals, rapists, and mutants, rule the land; and an encroaching technocratic authority called...The Authority (Fuck it, let’s just call them the Galactic Empire) is attempting to bring everything heel. Instead of doing the sensible thing and braining your traumatised ass, you grab a gun and kick ass with John Goodman. By which I mean you do endless fetch quests for John Goodman’s character for the 1st third of the game.

Immediately it was apparent that RAGE wasn’t quite the game it was hyped up to be. It can best be described as a cross between Borderlands and Fallout. But being a early open world shooter, RAGE hadn’t quite got to grips with the idea that open world meant giving the player stuff to do. In RAGE the open world got you from A to B to sometimes C. The maps were quite small and locations were reused regularly. Most objectives boiled down to: go here and kill this fool covered in skulls and metal, or go here and collect X. The main side quests weren’t much better. Mere distractions such as Death Race 2000 style racing (which was so shit, players avoided it like a man holding a puppy outside of a windowless van) , and post-apocalyptic parlour games like handy knife and one of those weird Magic the Gathering style card games (in which someone has apparently taken the time to make cards out of people they have encountered).

But the main issue with the maps was that if you’ve seen one square meter of post-apocalyptic landscape, you’ve seen them all. I already know what ruined industry and destroyed communities look like RAGE: I’m from the North of England.

And yet for all its bland and repetitive world and missions, there was something I quite enjoyed about RAGE. Maybe because the setting mixed Mad Max style tribal murderers with Metro 2033 mutants, and threw in a shades of Blade Runner. Like a version of Borderlands created for non-autistics. It wasn’t have good as it could have been, but then it wasn’t as bad as it could have been either. RAGE 2 looks to build on the first RAGE and give it that oomph it desperately need. It’s chaotic looking, outlandish, and colourful. It’s punk as imagined by middle-aged marketing guys.

Still, failings aside, RAGE holds up today for its technical workings and gameplay. Not the shitty vehicular combat, though. It certainly looks pretty too, something which I believe is now known as the Amanda Knox defence. The backdrop and sky were one big texture (a megatexture) which meant that whilst static, they looked the business. And the animations, particularly if an enemy is killed or injured, were amazingly varied and detailed. Unrivaled by most modern games in that aspect. To this end, the arsenal choice (from explosive pistols, to Super Shotguns, to pulse rifles, to crossbows and weaponised fidget spinners) is on point. Unsurprising, given its pedigree.

If the game had been called something else, people may have been kinder to it. But calling your post-apocalypse game RAGE is setting up expectations you just can’t meet. It’d be like having an online dating profile with a bio which claims that you fuck like a shark.
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In the process of catching up with some recent films he's missed, Iron takes a look at Mute​.

A film which is like Iron himself: quiet, brooding, and probably listens to Carpenter Brut.
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For some reason, I never got around to watching Green Room when it was released a few years back. I’m not sure why; Green Room is directed by Jeremy Saulnier, who directed Blue Ruin, a film I liked. It seems Saulnier and I are kindred spirits. Grim Bastards who’d think a happy thought was an aneurysm. I had heard this one was pretty grim too. SPOILER: It is.

Green Room is about a down-and-out hardcore punk band, who are invited to play at a venue run by people with an unhealthy interest in small moustaches, Trump, and outdated German policies. Yes, American Nazis. Or more accurately, racist skinheads. The gig goes surprisingly well. It’s only after the show when one of the audience members is killed that all goes tits up. The band end up trapped in the venue’s Green Room (what, you thought this was about a room in the Hulk's house?), under siege by Nazis. Nazis who are led by Patrick Stewart. Yes, old Jean Luc Picard has gone the way the rest of the French did in WW2 and surrendered to fascism.

I quite enjoyed Green Room. It doesn’t exactly set the world alight but it does try to separate itself in a number of ways. This is most apparent in the excellent cinematography which exploits every kind of green filter and green imagery. Green Room is more of a dark horror comedy than full blown horror. And part of the humour comes from it being set in the woefully underwhelming world of the local band. If you’ve been in a band or know people who have, then the early scenes of the band travelling miles in a cramped van to play to a venue of 5 unenthusiastic people, only to be paid $6 dollars each for their trouble, will hit home. As will the dark, dank, and uncomfortable Nazi clubhouse. I’ve been to enough venues where you’re scared to touch anything and are terrified of that one guy who starts awkward confrontations with everyone.

Saulnier is keen to subvert the expectations for this kind of ‘they all fall one by one’ affair. One of the Nazis is built up for this heroic face-heel turn, only to be killed moments later. The band, all punks, are revealed to be normal people with hidden depths, and despite being 4 guys to 1 girl, none of them seem to be fucking. There’s a Chekhov’s gun set-up involving an attack dog which in any other film would be there for the brutal ending, but here the twist is just sad. And Patrick Stewart as a leader of Nazis/Skinheads seems like stunt casting, but his affable yet evil performance is striking.

I’d give it my recommendation, simply for the fact it’s different and also because it doesn’t fuck around. Saulnier makes it clear just about everyone involved will die, and horribly too. One guy gets his stomach slashed open with a box cutter, the (almost) token girl is ripped to shreds by a dog, and another guy almost gets his arm entirely hacked off. Brutal \m/.
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An ageing Iron attempts to get down with the kids and reviews Fortnite. The kids then proceed to beat his ass with their superior gaming skills.
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So, I made the mistake of watching Day of the Dead: Bloodline​ the other day. The second remake of George A Romero's seminal, Day of the Dead. Bloodline was an irredeemably garbage film. A film which possessed none of the original's claustrophobic militarismo atmosphere; was weighed down by god awful porn-parody level acting (with such little chemistry between the lead actors it was as though they were recorded in different rooms and simply edited into the frame); and had a plot driven by stupid mistake after stupid mistake. At one point the main character gets one of her solider colleagues killed because she wanders off to collect a photo from a room she knew had a zombie in it.

It's the same basic plot (zombies overrun Earth, survivors hide in a secret base and try to cure the infection, military rule with an iron fist) but dumbed down to the level of Idiocracy. The writers even turned the Bub sideplot - one of the more compelling aspects of the original - into this thing about a zombie evolving over his infection due to the awesome power of his boner. The first DoTD remake (released in 2008 and starring Ving Rhames, and Nick Cannon) also made this same mistake with the Bub character. And as awful as the 2008 film as a whole was, at least some attempt to be reverent to the material was made. This new version of Bub, called Max (decently played by Johnathon Schaech, admittedly), starts off as the would-be rapist of his nurse Zoe (our protagonist), and utters lines of pure sleaze like "sucking me dry...like a vampire" during a blood-test. Things only get more disrespectful of Romero's creation when Max actually becomes a zombie.

There are some decent, gory kills and zombie effects (something in 2018, surely any competent filmmaker can achieve), which lend the whole affair a vibe closer to those low-rent Italian Zombie movies of the 70's and 80's by the likes of Lucio Fulci than the chad Romero. And gore effects do not necessarily a good zombie film make. Not a Day of the Dead film, anyway. Day of the Dead is the bleakest, most nihilistic and most Hobbesian of them all. It's not supposed to about models cosplaying soldiers and scientists, and military leader guys being a dick for no reason when their makeshift society is basically doing alright and life is pretty much going on. It's meant to be THE end of humanity, not a low-stakes middle of the season The Walking Dead episode.

At worst, Bloodline absolutely rapes a classic to death. At best, it's an incompetently made movie on every conceivable level. The cast are miscast, the characters undeveloped, the story patched together, and the tone all wrong (there's these cheesy BBC TV drama style music tracks which play over EVERY scene). The film's worst crime? Well, there's calling the 'zombies' the cringe-worthy 'rotters'. But I'd go with the fact that, despite shitting over Romero's legacy to sell a bad film, I could completely envision a post-Land of the Dead Romero making this film (if he were still alive). And that just makes me sad.
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And now for something entirely different (which I'll regret starting later): A play-review of the Lone Wolf gamebooks.
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I saw Ghost Stories l last night and wanted to scramble together a few thoughts whilst on my tea break at work. Ghost Stories is an anthology film focusing on things going bump in the night (plus a rather odd 2nd segment about running over Satan), with a wrap around about a professor with a hard-on for telling people they're wrong. It's a decent enough flick drenched in old school atmosphere. The sort of palpable, existential dread you feel on Sunday evening knowing you have work the next day.

Ghost Stories mixes the traditional supernatural with English folklore, crises of faith, and the gloomy urban entropy of post-Thatcher England (grim pubs, rotting industry, and dank caravan parks) - think any small UK shithole North of Manchester (modern Gothic, really). Mix in a few solid performances from recognisable faces (Andy Nyman, Paul Whitehouse, Martin Freeman...I suppose), and you have a watchable film. A sort of Amicus Productions-lite affair, minus the schlock set dressing.

The downside was that it relied heavily on jump scares - not unlike the dickhead of the group in a slasher film. And the ending, whilst it's as brutal as a 1970's coming of age film, it comes from nowhere. This descent into utter bleakness should be expected when the film is based on a play by Jeremy Dyson (one of League of Gentlemen's creators/writers), adnittedly. But it's the specific manifestation the bleak ending takes, that makes it such a left field turn from the rest of the film. In the end I felt of this film how my dad must think of me: weird, creepy, gloomy, and completely missing its potential.
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In this edition of Gaming's Best Levels, Sam looks at Nightmare Creatures. A game which was like a uni lecture on Gothic Horror, but was more about the ass-kicking and less about middle-aged professors claiming the red curtains represent femininity.
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