The Last of Us (PS3 – 2013)

The Last of Us (PS3 - 2013)

It’s twenty years after a zombie-like pandemic broke out across the globe. As Joel, a survivor living in a Boston-area quarantine camp, you have experienced the loss of everything you know and loved in your past life. As a survivor, you’re in a constant struggle for resources and when your dealings land you with an opportunity to smuggle a young girl, who may have the key within her to saving humanity to a band of freedom fighters calling themselves the Fireflies,  you find yourself in a dangerous and intense quest across the continent as you evade roving bands of human scavengers intent on murdering you and taking your possessions and also evading the clickers….humans who’ve been infected with the spores that have turned them into zombie-like creatures which use sonar to hunt their prey.

The opening of this game packs a punch like no other I’ve seen in recent memory. The writing is superb, the graphics are great, the gameplay is seamless most of the time and moves back and forth between gameplay and cutscenes effortlessly.

The enemies are cunning and terrifying. Not since I originally played Fatal Frame or Silent Hill have I been this unsettled within the atmosphere of a video game.

Play this, play this, play this. It’s like The Road mixed with Resident Evil.

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

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The Prestige (2006)

The Prestige (2006) Original Theatrical Release: October 20, 2006
Director: Christopher Nolan

Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and his wife Julia McCullough (Piper Perabo) along with Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) are all assistants to a master magician, all trying to learn his secrets. When something goes awry during a performance and Julia dies, Robert blames Alfred for her death and the two become bitter enemies and eventually master magicians themselves. They are in a magical arms-race, where one tries to outdo the other for supremacy on the stage. When Alfred comes up with a trick the likes of which nobody has seen, Robert becomes obsessed with trying to discover his secret – leading him to dark experiments that no man was ever meant to tamper with.

This is one of those films that sort of flew under the radar. Christopher Nolan hit it big with Batman Begins, but not many people even remember this film or talk about it despite its star power and cool premise. It also came out at the same time as another magician-centric movie called The Illusionist, which some folks consider to be the better film between the two magic movies.

David Bowie as Nikola Tesla was a huge bonus in this movie for me, as well as the always-lovely Scarlett Johansson’s role as Olivia Wenscombe (ironically also a secret agent in this movie, just like she was as Black Widow in Iron Man and The Avengers respectively)….but those are just on a personal level. Bale and Jackman are great at going head-to-head with each other and this is one of Jackman’s best serious dramatic roles to date. It has a heavy sci-fi theme that once you get into is actually really great, and it ends up unfolding like a sort of parable.

Go see it for the actors. Go see it for the great direction by Nolan. Go see it for David Bowie and Michael Caine. It’s good stuff. The only downside, for me, was that it was maybe a little too long in letting the story unfold but on the other hand,  it constantly keeps you guessing and keeps you on your toes.

JOE Rating:

Movie Trailer For The Prestige

Lars And The Real Girl (2007)

Lars And The Real Girl (2007)

Original Theatrical Release: October 25, 2007
Director: Craig Gillespie

Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling) has a problem, and nobody knows what it is. He’s painfully shy, full of anxiety, is super-awkward and can’t even have dinner with his family, let alone have a normal conversation with a girl. When he tells his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and Gus’ wife Karin (Emily Mortimer) that he has met someone over the internet, they are ecstatic for him. However, Bianca is not what they expected. She is a sex doll that Lars ordered online. Lars’ family, friends and the town must now find a way to deal with Lars’ delusional beliefs that Bianca is a real girl who not only talks to him, but loves him back.

I remember hearing about this film a while ago, and since it had Ryan Gosling in it, I sort of shied away from it because he tends to be in a lot of movies I didn’t think I liked him as an actor. However, this film seemed to have such a quirky idea and personality that I figured I’d give it a shot.

First off, I think the premise was the best part about this film. A town set “somewhere” up north, which is somewhat reserved and apparently full of churchgoing people, having to deal with an otherwise healthy and kind individual who is in love with a sex doll….that’s great stuff. What it lacked was the proper focus and execution.

The movie felt like it dragged on forever. I understood what the film was trying to do fairly early on, so to have to watch it all unfold at a snail’s pace somewhat lessened the impact of the film’s idea. Also, they sort of moved “six weeks later” from the point Lars first hears about the doll until he had ordered it, and you don’t really see anything in between. It was the only jarring part of the movie, to me.

Gosling’s acting was great, honestly. The whole cast was acting up a storm, so no complaints on that front.

There had to be a little suspension of disbelief because of certain things, like an ambulance that is willing to pick up a sex doll and waste money/time and potentially interrupt someone’s REAL emergency…all because he is Lars? When he doesn’t even seem to be that well-liked at the start of the film? So, there are things like that in the movie that are somewhat hard to swallow.

It makes for a great date movie, I’m sure…or if you really like Ryan Gosling in sweaters.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Movie Trailer For Lars And The Real Girl