Will Preston

Tag: Michael Ironside

Salvation, Redemption and retconned beyond Recognition.

by on Jun.27, 2010, under Films, Review

Terminator Salvation

In a deleted scene, Bale chases a robot completely naked wielding a chainsaw whilst talking about Genesis.

Time travel movies are constantly full of plot holes. There isn’t a film that deals with time travel with a strict and (almost) believable rule. Anything that can change history only happens for sake of the plot, sometimes even braking its own laid out rules for the sake of the plot. Out of all the film series, one has changed its own history so often that it was any wonder that they laid out rules of how time travel works in the first place.

 

James Cameron brought us The Terminator in 1984, and so started a series of retconning and bullshitting. One of the hardest thing to swallow being the paradox in the first one; a certain John Connor sending back his own father in order to conceive himself which currently holds the gold at the bullshit Olympics three times running. The sequel in 1991 raised more questions about the time travel theory and how old John Connor actually was in the second film.

Do the math, people!

For obvious reasons, the third film will not be mentioned.

I have to admit, I was a tad excited about the promotional shots for the fourth film, which decided to nose the time travel aspect slightly aside and deal with the future. In the previous films, no matter how many changes in the past were made, the future was always the same. Rusted pick-up trucks firing mounted guns at robot oppressors whilst rebel soldiers in overalls fought with plasma rifles in a permanently midnight LA. Absolutely no changes threatened to destroy this nice little slice of apocalyptica.

Until now.

Gone are the rag tag resistance. Gone are the make shift vehicles. And gone are the phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range. Terminator Salvation has turned a rebel group into a well armed super force, thus completely discarding any impending fear of certain annihilation (read: Termination) by a seemingly unstoppable robot horde.

Ironically, the only thing stopping their goal from being a simple blow the fuck out of metal bastards with our suspiciously shiny weaponry is the time travel plot linked to previous films. John needs to find his father, Kyle Reese (at this point a teenager), and send him back as granted by his mother’s instructions left to him at the end of the first film. You have to be a fan of the series to understand this.

Ludicrous time travel jargon plot aside, the film is a visual treat, but constantly feels like it’s borrowing a little too much from other pieces of work. At one point in the film, Kyle Reese stumbles upon a band of rebels holed up in a petrol station which is promptly obliterated by a giant people snatching sod (War Of The Worlds?), but not before the rebels escape in some desert worn battle vehicles (Mad Max 2?). Still not satisfied with the negligible reaction from the twitching copyright lawyers, the giant sod unleashes smaller robots to attack it’s prey (Soundwave from Transformers? Cloverfield?).

Plus the whole wondering the wasteland feels a bit too close to Fallout 3 (bandits included), but that’s to be expected.

Christian Bales John Connor is not worth commenting on. Here we have an action hero who could be replaced with plastic bucket, providing the bucket had arms training. He brings little to the role, but at the same time, what else can he bring? A nice surprise was Michael Ironside popping up to remind everyone what lemon and honey could sound like if it could talk. Close your eyes and Sam Fishers in the room ready to deal with your problems!

Helena Bonham-Carter randomly shows up whilst Tim Burton’s back is turned for a couple of minutes in a questionably useless character role and then buggers off again. Sam Worthington’s Marcus Wright was the only interesting character in the film. Before the nuclear decimation, he was sentenced to death as a murder, but not before Helena convinces him to hand over his body to the, then harmless, company of Cyberdyne for scientific research. Waking up several years past doomsday, and mysteriously alive, he seems to be on an unmentioned quest to “find someone.” After an altercation with a bomb, it is discovered that – wait for it – he’s a terminator and not the immortal time wizard that was obviously our first guess.

But the shocks not meant for us, it’s meant for him.

Next comes the the template ‘trust me, I look like an evil robot, but I’m actually good’ story arc. From then on the rest of the story could be summarized on a snotted napkin. Throughout the film there are loads of references to previous films (“Come with me if you want to live” etc.) including a, sort of, cameo by Arnold himself.

If you’re looking for a no brainer sci-fi action romp and need an apology for Rise Of The Machines, press play! Just don’t expect to be surprised…or any of the previous films to seamlessly link in.

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Sam Fisher’s only conviction: He could be a vampire?

by on Apr.25, 2010, under News

Splinter Cell Conviction - 3

Sam Fisher: About to suck someones blood through their neck? Almost...

There’s one thing that me and Sam Fisher have in common; we both do our Splinter Cell-ing in the dark. When I Splinter Cell (verb) it’s in the dark confines of my room in front of the XBOX, mind. Everyone’s favourite Solid Snake for people who don’t like ‘Metal Gear Solid’ returns in the second game to the series to actually have a storyline. I was shocked myself. Whilst the first three games were generic and concerned itself with an over arching mission than a strong narrative, ‘Splinter Cell Conviction’ gives a progressing story with some indulgent cinematic moments. The whole game plays out like a long episode of ’24’ rather than a typical Tom Clancy game. The story continues directly after the last game, ‘Double agent’, where Sam has left his NSA branch Third Echelon due to frankly being fed up over the death of his daughter (run over in a drunken hit and run accident), as well as shooting his long running boss, and “friend”, Lambert in the face.

Now on the run from Third Echelon and other forces of interest, Solid Sam finds himself in Malta after getting a tip about more information on his daughters killer. This cues an intervention from being bullet ridden dead by Anna Grimsdottir (“Grim” for short), a long running character who will be as familiar to players of the series as a picture of the New York sewer system painted pink. So we no have a guy constantly using his mobile phone in pursuit of a killer whilst a tech support girl yells things at him down a phone; yes, it’s basically the new series of 24, complete with added “interrogation scenes”. And by “interrogation”, I mean “torture”. And by “scenes”, I mean “mini-wrestling match”. Even Michael Ironside’s vocals for Sam bear a slight resemblance to Jack Bauer. Thank go he wasn’t chasing a bomb as well. Actually he kinda was, but it was an EMP weapon. Does that still count?

Anyway, away from potential copyright infringement and onto the game play. It’s rare that a sequel to a game is made simultaneously simple, yet difficult. Gone are the gadgets that made every single level of previous games a walk through if you knew what you were doing. Also gone is the light sensor. Instead, if you enter pockets of darkness, the screen turns black and white whilst enemies stand out brightly in colour, something that reflects on Sam’s trained ability at hiding in shadows and working in the dark. Which brings to question about previous games: Why did he even uses the night vision goggles as all? I was never able to enjoy the graphics of the early ‘Splinter Cell’ games due to viewing every level in grainy black and white “enhance-o-vision”. The levels could have been rendered on a an Atari and I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference due to the fuzzy vision and the screen being 80% pitch black. But now that graphics have improved to such an extent, the developers couldn’t bear hiding their lubberly rendered work behind Sam’s shite-vision goggles. The graphics do look nice, but nothing much has improved since ‘Double Agent’. Except maybe a tweak on frame rate. But really there is no dire need for a major graphic overhaul.

There has been a gameplay overhaul, however, in the form of the “mark and execute” mechanic. Now instead of aiming clumsily to take out a group of bad bastards in a hurry, you can plan ahead and let Sam do the rest of the work. He’s nice like that. The only eyebrow raising aspect of it is that Sam needs to perform a hand to hand take down in order to “store” an execution. The executions themselves are fantastic, providing you have “marked” a good amount of enemies. It’s got the same appeal as the VATS system from ‘Fallout 3′; an option to automatically kill your enemies stylishly without having to worry about direct input. Sam’s new super power hasn’t bored me yet. So he’s hiding in the dark with super-human vision and gaining superpowers by doing unspeakable things to peoples necks? Is he a vampire? No. Not yet. I think they’ll save that for the next one. Hopefully.

After completing the twisty-turny-twentyfour-y plot, the game treats you to more extra co op and skirmish missions than any other splinter cell game. The only thing lacking is a sufficient multiplayer death match mode. Mano a Mano is the flavour, but you can choose to have grunts litter the place with snappable necks. The co op missions themselves follow a prequel leading to the main story. With a friend, you take the role of two other splinter cell agents with action man faces and an alternative costume wardrobe that questions how seriously they take their missions. You can infiltrate a heavily armed Russian embassy in your bloody jeans and tee shirt. I’m not complaining about the casual nature of the clothing, but if you’re going to offer an unrealistic alternative costume, then why not go the whole hog and allow you to engage in a gun fight dressed as Adolf Hitler in a nappy. I refuse to buy another Ubisoft game until my suggestions are taken note of.

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