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Blu-ray Review: Interstellar

March 27, 2015 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
Interstellar
Alright, alright, alright…

Fresh off his success with the Dark Knight Trilogy, along with a little Inception sprinkled in, Christopher Nolan served as both writer and director on his latest project, Interstellar. It was one of those rare films in which, no matter how many trailers we saw, we really never got a great feel for what the film was about. Critical response was strong, but with a newborn at home it came and went in theaters without us getting a chance to see it.

Now, with the film releasing on Blu-ray on March 31, it’s time to rectify that and find out if Nolan’s first directorial effort since 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises is worthy of the praise it received.

THE PLOT

Set sometime in the near future, Interstellar finds Earth devastated by famine, the result of sweeping global climate change, and society now centred on agriculture. It’s here we find the widowed Cooper (played by Matthew McConaughey), along with his father-in-law (John Lithgow) and two children, tending to a farm. His daughter, Murph, is having troubles with a “ghost,” which Cooper determines is actually providing them with a set of coordinates.

Upon tracking these coordinates Cooper finds the remnants of NASA. The program is now headed by Dr. John Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter, Amelia (Anne Hathaway), who proceeds to let Coop know the severity of the problems: Earth is dying. Their only hope is to send a crew into a wormhole, apparently created by an advanced race trying to help humanity survive, to find an inhabitable world for people to colonize and eventually repopulate the species.

From there, Interstellar splits its time between the space mission and those left behind, including Brand, Murph (Jessica Chastain) and her brother Tom (Casey Affleck). If it seems odd for those actors to play Cooper’s children, that’s explained by having time move at dramatically different speeds with one planet potentially costing the crew 51 Earth years in a one-day cycle. The divergent storylines unfold in an interesting way, and they help keep the sci-fi grounded in emotional connections.

THE GOOD

We’re big fans of plausible fiction, and the way Interstellar’s future is presented is a good example of that. Rather than some mysterious plague or Third World War that has turned the world into a post-apocalyptic cliché, it’s just normal people doing what they need to do to survive while trying to maintain a sense of normalcy. Plus, as noted, the story does a nice job of balancing some weighty science fiction by keeping concepts like love and family front and centre throughout.

The phrase “all-star cast” has been driven into the ground over the years, but there is ton of quality actors and actresses at work here starting with McConaughey, whose efforts in films like Mud and Dallas Buyers Club (not to mention True Detective) have pretty much erased the damage he did with Failure to Launch, Two for the Money and so on. Caine and Hathaway, who both worked with Nolan on Batman, do well, and there’s even a strong turn from Matt Damon.

With a reported budget of US$165 million it should come as no surprise that the special effects are excellent, whether within the craft, the vastness of space or on alien worlds. Once again, everything is grounded in reality, so don’t expect laser weapons or Prometheus-style synthetic lifeforms, but there is still some cool stuff, including the weird robot companions TARS and CASE.

THE BAD

While you can nitpick items here and there, by far the biggest issue we had with the film was the dense amount of scientific information (real or fabricated) to digest. A lot of times in movies you’ll be given a very technical sounding piece of information, only for a character to break it down into bite-sized relatable bits so you at least have an idea of what they’re talking about. That’s often not the case here, and it becomes increasingly difficult to follow the further you go.

It reminded us of the second and third entrants in The Matrix, which cast aside the cool mystery surrounding the virtual world for exposition heavy dialogue that never seemed to go anywhere and served only to delay the next fight. There aren’t any massive action sequences in Interstellar, but the complexity of the plot’s technical aspects weigh things down and had us scratching our heads at the late twists instead of just going with the flow.

OVERALL

Interstellar is probably best categorized as “thinking man’s science fiction.” It sets the table quite well and offers plenty of interesting moments, even if eventually all the chatter about worm holes, five-dimensional space and using gravity to communicate across space and time gets a bit exhausting.

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Video Game Review: Game of Thrones, Episode 3

March 25, 2015 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
When last we left House Forrester, Asher had reunited with his uncle and was seeking a sell-sword army, Mira was getting in over her head in King’s Landing with her efforts to aid her family, Gerard Tuttle was walking in Jon Snow’s footsteps at the Wall and Rodrik was being bullied by the insufferable House Whitehill. Thankfully, unlike The Lost Lords, The Sword in the Darkness starts moving the plot forward in significant ways.
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Video Game Review: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

March 20, 2015 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
While Final Fantasy has moved away from turn-based combat, it still maintained a number of similarities such as allowing you to queue up actions and stat-based encounters. All of that is out the window here, as Type-0 HD is straight real-time action. You control one member of your three-person team at a time and are able to switch between them on the fly with the d-pad. Each offers a unique weapon and skills, and you’re free to mix and match your pairings.
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Video Game Review: Ori and the Blind Forest

March 11, 2015 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
In classic Metroidvania fashion, obtaining new skills grants access to new areas. For example, a feather allows you to glide across long divides or maneuver through serpentine spike pits — feats that would’ve been otherwise impossible. Later, it can be used to ride wind currents. It’s this cleverness that really allows Ori and the Blind Forest to stand out. The game offers multiple uses for Ori’s abilities and consistently asks you to string them together in different ways.
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Video Game Review: Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart

March 7, 2015 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
Being unabashed lovers of Final Fantasy Tactics and other games of that ilk, we readily embraced the turn-based combat of Hyperdevotion Noire. Beyond the genre standards of movement grids, special moves that draw from a pool of skills points, damage bumps when attacking from behind and enemies inflicting adverse statuses, Hyperdevotion also brings a few tricks of its own to the table.
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