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Gareth von Kallenbach (202 KP) rated the PlayStation 4 version of Red Dead Redemption 2 in Video Games

Jun 19, 2019  
Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2
2018 | Action/Adventure
With a canvas as large as the Old West and a reputation for building massive interactive worlds; to say that expectations were high for Red Dead Redemption 2 would be an understatement.

Thankfully Rockstar was more than up to the task and have crafted the ultimate Wild West adventure simulator which gives gamers so many choices along the way.

Playing as a member of the gang forced to take refuge from bitter cold and hostile enemies, players get a tutorial in combat, hunting, riding, and various other skills they will need to survive. In time, players will forge their own path which can involve any number of options from collecting bounties, robbing trains, helping people, and more.

There are countless side quests to go with the main story and each frame of the game is stunning and epic with its sweeping vistas and scenic locales. You truly get a sense of how big the map is by just seeing the time it can take to travel from one locale to another.

Along the way players will upgrade their gear and can find new horses including some rare ones indeed which will take some effort to obtain.

The horses themselves are impressive as they simply are not there to provide transportation, but are vital characters that players need to bond with and develop a solid relationship in order to survive. Bandits and Lawmen are not the only dangers facing players, as there are numerous dangerous animals from Wolves to Bears which players will encounter.

The game does require a solid investment of time as it is not something you can sit down and play an hour at a time. Players will have to pay attention to cut scenes and travel often to get to needed areas and to collect vital resources. While some may find it a bit slow starting out; once you get a couple of chapters in; things really get rolling.

The graphics and sound are highly detailed and very immersive and I remember my wife thinking one segment of gameplay was animation until she saw my weaving style of horsemanship on display.

As I write this, Rockstar has started Beta access for the Online portion of the game which gives players even more options to enjoy. Playing with and against other players is a big draw but naturally some balancing and adjustments will need to be made. I found myself on a mission recently that once I completed the first part, I was unable to locate where to go and what to do next. This was further complicated by restrictions on leaving the mission area. I also attempted to go Lone Wolf and shoot up a town to see what happens as players often do in Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto Series.

Instead of fleeing from the expected mob of Lawmen, I was told that my mission had failed due to the Law being alerted.

It would be nice to be able to customize the controls as I at times found the combat mechanics a bit tricky as I play most of my shooters on a PC and having to be precise or score multiple hits on a moving target with the weapons of the era and a Dual Shock 4 was a bit challenging.

That being said; Red Dead Redemption 2 is a stunning achievement and one that has to be experienced.

http://sknr.net/2018/12/04/red-dead-redemption-2/
  
Safe (2012)
Safe (2012)
2012 | Action, Drama
8
7.0 (2 Ratings)
Movie Rating
I’ve returned with another movie review for y’all and it should certainly come as no surprise Whatsoever that my review covers the latest edition to Jason Statham’s growing resume of action Movies. After 3 delays for its U.S. release, “SAFE” has finally arrived.
“Safe” is first and foremost an action film as one would expect from Statham
But somehow he always seems to up his game with even better actions scenes which are brilliantly Choreographed.

Some of which will have you laughing at the ineptness of his enemies
Or to the point where you’ll cringe at the very thought of the pain the characters might be going through. But as always, it’s worth it. This time, they’ve even thrown in more of a storyline and a plot twist or two that would peak Tarentino’s interest.

From writer/director by Boaz Yakin and executive producer Kevin Spacey and producer Lawrence Bender (Of Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Bastards fame), Jason Statham stars as Luke Wright. A garbage man turned second-rate cage fighter and former NYPD officer. Upon leaving the NYPD after testifying against corrupt NYPD detectives, Luke drifts from garbage man to Mixed Martial Arts fighter.

In order to support his pregnant wife. Upon winning a fight that he was supposed to lose the bad guys decides to make an example of him by brutally murdering his wife and unborn child. If this was not bad enough, the bad guys then tell Luke that they will murder anyone he comes into contact with as is illustrated when they later kill a homeless man Luke gave his shoes to.

Meanwhile, Mei (Catherine Chan) a young math prodigy, is forced to be a ‘counter’ for a Chinese triad (in essence instead of using computers, the triad forces her to memorize everything from money for drug transactions to police payoffs etc.), in order to keep the triad from killing her mother.

Upon learning of the death of her mother, Mei escapes but with the knowledge of the entire organization retained in her memory the triad hunts her down through the streets of New York City while also trying to avoid the same thugs who terrorize Luke as they have discovered who she is and want to use everything she knows to bring down their competitors.

Luke, mourning the loss of his wife and unborn child nearly commits suicide by jumping in front of a subway when he witness Mei being chased through the subway by the same goons who killed his wife.

After realizing that he is the only one who can protect Mei, Luke begins a brutal rampage through New York City battling all who stand in the way and pose a threat to Mei.

To sum up the movie briefly it is Grand Theft Auto meets “The Transporter” in New York City
minus the sex, drugs, and the modified Audi with the V-12 rocket engine.

There are plenty of shootouts, fight scenes, car chases, in even some intrigue to keep you thinking. A most excellent movie if you’re looking to take a break from the sunny weather and take refuge in a cool air-conditioned movie theater as the film is more than worth spending your hard earned cash on.
  
    Clash of Crime Mad City

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Kyera (8 KP) rated The Rose Society in Books

Feb 1, 2018  
The Rose Society
The Rose Society
Marie Lu | 2015 | Paranormal, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Young Adult (YA)
8
8.5 (4 Ratings)
Book Rating
This is the second book in the Young Elites series. Adelina has been cast off by the Dagger Society and the darkness in her heart is consuming her. Accompanied by only her sister, who she discovered is also a Young Elite like her, Adelina sets out to form her own version of the Dagger Society - the Rose Society. The crown prince is dead and Adelina focuses all of her rage and vengeance against Teren. She and Violetta have been practicing with their abilities and are stronger than before.

About one-quarter of the way through the book and it has hit its stride already. It is more immersive than the first, which seemed to suffer from slow pacing. Now that the plot has been established, it seems to allow the author more freedom with writing and storytelling. A number of new characters are introduced like Queen Maeve and her brothers, an unnamed charlatan, and the infamous Magiano.

Magiano is a greedy thief, but you can't help but be a little charmed by him. Adelina plans to surround herself with other Elites so that her Rose Society can flourish. She sets her sights on Magiano whose power is <spoiler>mimicry. He is able to copy the powers of the other Elites</spoiler> Unfortunately, he is not eager to abandon his life of solitary thievery and challenges the sisters. If they succeed, he will join them. Will his skills as a thief give him victory or will Adelina be able to weave enough illusions to secure herself an ally?

Her acts may even gain her the support of others, thus growing her society. But mercenaries aren't the most loyal of followers. Adelina causes chaos during the theft and must flee with Magiano and her sister. During the course of their escape, they discover another Elite, called <spoiler>Rainmaker, or Sergio. As his Elite name suggests, he can control the rain. His abilities are impressive enough to brew fierce storms and call down deadly lightning strikes</spoiler>. Her Society may be called Rose, unlike the Daggers she left behind, but she is much more ruthless and cold than her more violent sounding counterparts.

Queen Maeve has the ability to <spoiler>bring people back from the dead and she plans to do so with Enzo. Whether he will be the same Enzo as before his death or be utterly changed by his new bond with the Underworld, Maeve cannot know. </spoiler>

Adelina's love for Enzo and introduction of Magian leads to a typical love triangle. Enzo may have died, but Adelina still pines for him and it show. Despite those feelings, she forms a connection with Magiano and it complicates their relationship because "caring for a scoundrel is a dangerous thing." Magiano plays the role of the rogue with a hidden heart of gold, like Sinbad, Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles or Flynn Rider (*cough* Eugene Fitzherbert *cough*) from Tangled. He is a thief and a trickster, who is seemingly on in it for the money but over the course of the novel his heart gets in the way.

The battle is painted so vibrantly that it plays like a movie in your mind. The anticipation is palpable, each attack makes you catch your breath - who is going to die? Who will be victorious? The action and revelation in the book keep the reader hooked until the end.

Recommended, but you need to read the Young Elites first book for the story's foundation to be build... otherwise the story won't be as affecting and probably won't make sense. The conclusion of Rose Society leaves the reader intrigued and wondering what happens in the third novel.
  
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
2016 | Action, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
This is not the first Star Wars spin-off, but it is joining a legacy of sub par entries to the franchise, certainly as where the big screen has been concerned, with two Ewoks movies and The Clone Wars TV pilot come movie to contend with. But Rogue One is first to take on the mantle of a blockbuster and attempt to compete with the very best of the Saga, if not join them.

In many ways, Rogue One is the prequel that we have been waiting for, taking place directly before the original movie, A New Hope, Gareth Edwards of Monsters (2010) and Godzilla fame, has managed to create a fan boy's dream following the events which are mentioned in the opening crawl for that classic movie, the theft of the Death Star plans which would ultimately lead to Luke Skywalker's "shot in a million" to destroy the moon sized planet killer.

But here, the task was to both take Star Wars in new new direction as well as to flesh out the story of the Star Wars saga itself. They manage to pull this off with the only real complaint being the pacing which is sporadic at best. With a combination of contrived plotting and uneven pacing, the starker, war movie which this is, can feel at times, like a check list of everything that fans have wanted to see on the big screen since 1983 and as such, runs the risk of being a vacuous, through-away movie, the "greatest hits" as it were.

But I feel that it skirts this issue and manages to stay on the side of narrative integrity, just about. We finally see Darth Vader, post Episode III for the first time in a life action film since 2005, something which the prequels failed to deliver and whilst at first it seemed to be a crowd pleasing cameo, by the finale, it paid off perfectly, as did the resurrection of the late Peter Cushing's Grand Moff Tarkin, with the aid of ground breaking, if not morally questionable CGI effects. This was also used to bring us a cameo from Princess Laia (1977) to great effect.

Also, integrating stock footage of the original Red and Gold Squadron pilots from Star Wars (1977) and the demise of the original Red 5, who's place Luke Skywalker would assume, were all nice touches.

In the end, at best Rogue One serves to turn the original Star Wars movie into and two part epic, with this movie seamlessly leading into the opening of Star Wars but how does it hold up in its own right?

Well, it is entertaining, well acted, if not let down by Gareth Edwards' slightly uneven direction, but how the notorious re-shoots, which have clearly left several key shots form the trailers on the cutting room floor and possibly changes the finale significantly, effected this is as yet unknown, and Michael Giacchino's slightly over the top bombastic score, Rogue One will certainly be an entertaining and action packed entry into the Star Wars universe.

But the true success of this film lies with its expansion of the Saga as a whole, bridging the less popular prequels with the original trilogy for the first time on the big screen, taking on finally, what J.J. Abrams' The Force Awakens (2015) deliberately chose not too. Hopefully Episode VIII (2017) follow in the same vein, finally repairing some of the issues which Lucas' much derided prequels, which at their heart, may have had much more to offer than Lucas' poor direction let us see the first time around.
  
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Shoplifters (Manbiki Kazuko) (2018)
Shoplifters (Manbiki Kazuko) (2018)
2018 | Drama
10
8.7 (3 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Last month I had the opportunity to attend a screening of Shoplifters, following its huge success at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The film was written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, and follows a large, multi-generational family who are living on the brink of poverty. They live in a cramped, very basic apartment in the heart of Tokyo, where those able to work all band together in a desperate attempt to keep the family sheltered and fed.

As the title suggests, some members are petty criminals and frequently shoplift from local supermarkets and convienience stores in order to survive. It’s become a talent in the family, passed down from father to son and almost feels like a bonding exercise when you witness the way they work together. The family leads a simple life, justifying their actions by telling themselves if the theft doesn’t bankrupt the store owner, then they can survive without the items they took. It’s a way of clearing their conscience and seems to work very well. Osamu and and his son, Shota are the major players in the art of shoplifting, and are literally partners in crime.

Their lives change when they encounter Yuri, a young child who is outside in the freezing cold and looks malnourished. Despite the fact they already have too many mouths to feed, Osamu makes the decision to take her home and give her food and shelter. It soon becomes clear that Yuri has suffered abuse, based on the marks on her arm and her very quiet and timid behaviour. They decide to keep her as part of the family, fearing for her wellbeing.

This decision makes life even harder for the family as they have to evade the police both when shoplifting, and when going out in public with Yuri, as she soon becomes a missing person. This selfless act forms the rest of the film, resulting in a gorgeous 2 hours of cinema.

I was completely blown away by Shoplifters and its intimate portrayal of family life. As the film progressed, I found myself bonding with the characters as an audience member. I enjoyed seeing them on screen and going with them as they went about their daily lives. Each character has so much depth, their own wants and desires and their own secrets, to the point where they feel real. It could have easily been a documentary based on how close we are to the subjects, and how much we learn from them. Their character development is just stunning, and events in the third act left me in a stunned silence as we discover some harsh truths about the family.

The visual style varies from scene to scene, switching from clean and clinical streets to the cramped, messy apartment and back again. We are given a well-rounded and contrasting look at Japan’s capital and the people that live in it. The family have next to nothing but their bond is strong, doing everything they can to keep each other happy and healthy. We see them enjoying a day at the beach and watching the fireworks, activities that are both free and a lot of fun. The film certainly places a strong focus on life’s simple pleasures, and gives you a sense of gratitude throughout. Though harrowing in places, the happier moments radiate from the screen and leave you smiling to yourself because of how beautiful and convincing they are. It’s truly an emotional rollercoaster.

I have never seen a film quite like Shoplifters and though its pacing is slow, the bonds between characters and the deep exploration of their lives is enough to keep you glued to the screen throughout. It is certainly deserving of its Cannes win, because of its deep, thorough and complex exploration of family life. It will warm your heart and break it soon after, leaving you wanting to stay in their lives by the time the credits roll. This is a must-see.

https://lucygoestohollywood.com/2018/11/25/my-thoughts-on-the-2018-palme-dor-winning-film-shoplifters/