Jan 13, 12" data-title="Many Worlds - Research film">May 18, 11" data-title="Child Of Lore">Mar 06, 11" data-title="Lonely Earth">Aug 02, 10" data-title="Into The Fire">Jul 04, 10" data-title="Slice Of The City - Young Filmmakers">Jul 04, 10" data-title="Damien Carlisle Showreel 2009/2010">
May 28, 12" data-title="Infinity's Edge">May 11, 12" data-title="Infinity's Edge (Behind The Scenes)">Dec 04, 11" data-title="Peripheral">
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Upon the release of the trailer for the much anticipated Dark Knight Rises, Nolan’s final Batman film, there was a particular piece of dialogue from one Selina Kyle portrayed by Anne Hathaway which drew connections to the protests seen in Occupy Wall Street and the uprisings of the Arab Spring.
"When it hits, you're all going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us".
(I love that rhythmic tribal like chanting, makes ya wanna tear shit up)
I couldn’t help but remember some pictures of Hathaway taking part in an Occupy protest, and you have to wonder how much of a coincidence could this really be.
The film finished shooting in the middle of November, so the filming has basically coincided with the recent Occupy movement. With the script, Jonathan and Christopher Nolan obviously had a little foresight to see the RISING (ho, ho) tensions between the oligarchy and everyone else, and like any socially aware filmmaker, they would want to mimic current events on the screen, thereby showing that the Nolans have their fingers on the pulse of the public conscious at large. Or, is the parallel simplistic and shallow, with no more than the aesthetic appearance of social commentary?
Some of the very best science fiction is a mirror to real society, sometimes showing us parts of ourselves that we don’t want to see. I can choose to read further into the apparent parallel that the Nolans are attempting to draw. Is Anne’s portrayal then of Catwoman to be representative of a more direct frustration, like in Tracy Chapman’s song, “people gonna rise up, take what’s theirs”, a person who is no longer content for the haves to lord their wealth over the have nots? If Anne’s opinions lead her in support of the Occupy movement, did her political views play a hand in Christopher Nolan picking her for the role of Catwoman?
Christopher Nolan’s Batman films succeed largely in part because of Nolan’s ability to see past the simple theatrics of past portrayals -
(Joel Schumacher's unfortunate pun-filled Batman and Robin),
- Nolan can see past the costume and the gadgets, and he can reveal the deeper themes. In The Dark Knight, the iconic Batman vs. Joker rivalry is not a simple black and white paragon of good vs. evil. It’s about two diametrically opposed aspects of human nature. Wayne is a character who lives and breaths a personal philosophy, he strives to better himself, and to better the environment around him, adhering to strict control over himself and his code. The Joker shows the futility of that control by leading to the downfall of Dent, and by revelling in total freedom from any type of code.
So, what would Nolan’s intention be in mirroring a divided class system, and a world changed by revolutions? If Catwoman is the frustrated 99%, does that mean Batman is the 1%? Previously, we’ve seen Batman represent the worst aspects of the USA. In the last decade, we have seen numerous examples of the US government ignoring international law as well as their own law. Their congress, against their own Constitutional law, has not been called to vote on the participation of any of the wars the country has placed itself in. They have imprisoned people without trial, grabbing them from various nations, and have tortured them. Batman does things that cannot be done within the law - entering Hong Kong to effectively kidnap a criminal, torturing criminals for information, and spying on the people of Gotham. These are things to which some would argue are “necessary evils“, but it also raises the question of how we can trust someone with that level of power to do the right thing? Americans are increasingly losing freedoms for the sake of security. The controversial TSA groping as one example, and the recent bill to imprison US citizens indefinitely.
The Civil War storyline by Marvel comics published from 2006 through to 2007 was an attempt to play on the economic and political tensions of the time, which have only grown since, and parody the divisiveness in society by having superheroes go to war with each other over a question of individual freedom vs. security.
The man many would credit as defining Batman as an adult, gritty, dark property would be Frank Miller with his work in the 80‘s on The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One. He has recently come out very much against the Occupy movement - to a degree that actually almost appears satirical in Miller’s use of stereotyped language to describe those he disagrees with and the fearful paranoia which he holds for Islam.
The other big name that many would consider largely responsible for comic books being taken seriously as an adult literary format is Alan Moore. Miller and Moore couldn’t be more different, in terms of style, prose, and political opinion. Moore openly supports the Occupy movement and shows a certain amount of pride in the fact that so many wear the ‘V For Vendetta’ Guy Fawkes masks as symbols of their revolutionary spirit. Moore really tore into Miller. The divisions in society are not just portrayed on the pages of comic books but are present between the authors of those books.
Comic books and superheroes continue to be an effective parody of our real world issues, giving mythical imagery to what are otherwise intangible ideas.
Moore and Miller's best works within comic books are many years behind them and I feel that contemporary comic books of recent years more often than not shy away from more direct social and political issues. Ed Brubaker, to his credit, was ballsy enough to parody the certain members of the Tea Party movement as fear driven racists within the pages of Captain America, of all things.
Only a couple of years previous to this, Belfast born writer Garth Ennis got away with more than heavily implying that George Bush was just one bullet away from the Punisher. Which to me raises an interesting question - could you imagine the shit storm, if the Punisher were to kill a member of the 1% in the comic books? A figure, say, similar to John Corzine, who ‘lost’ billions of his customers money, effectively committing fraud on a large scale against the public, a man who for all intents and purposes belongs in prison. Could you parody a figure like that, and then put them under some cross hairs?
I think that when writers, artists, and filmmakers take bold steps towards commenting on the state of our world, they provide a valuable service in terms of informing and inspiring people, and sometimes even improving the world. Many years later, the message can have all the more relevance, which is revealing of the genius of artists past. George Orwell, Charlie Chaplin, and comic book writer Chris Claremont with his ground breaking work on X-Men. It was Claremont who really laid the ground work for the X-Men as a parallel to discrimination - any kind of discrimination, of people who are different. Claremont did not shy from likening the struggle of the X-Men to civil rights. In the pages of God Loves, Man Kills a man refers to Kitty Pryde as a 'mutie', a black friend of Kitty's asks her to calm down, that it is only a word. To which Kitty responds;
"Suppose he called me a Nigger-Lover, Stevie?! Would you be so damned tolerant then?!!"
Imagine THAT line in one of the X-Men movies.
Read the pages of God Loves, Man Kills, and tell me that the preacher William Stryker’s mad prose does not strike an uncanny resemblance to the rantings of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.
There is a singular brilliant moment in which the X-Men finally confront William Stryker at the end of the book, in which on live television the X-Men use non-violence, they attempt to talk Stryker down, serving as a contrast to Stryker's own hateful and violent acts. It is a moment showing the power of pacifism in the face of ugly bigotry.
A moment like this is severely missing from the films. In fact, in X-Men: First Class, it is hard to see why Xavier's pacifism is preferable to Magneto's action. In that film at least, Magneto is essentially right to do what he does.
The perfect balance in the X-Men mythology is when we understand contrasting views. It is easy to understand why the sight of dead children angers Magneto to the point of wanting to kill those responsible. And later in the book, it is easy to understand why non-violence can be a powerful statement towards those who hate you for virtue of being born. It raises an intelligent discussion on whether or not violence begets violence.
I want to see contemporary science fiction filmmakers and writers being more bold. A superhero story can be light and fun for the masses but it can also send a direct message, a message that can easily be understood and digested even for the children in the audience. Sometimes I don't understand why society seems so afraid to protect children from violent imagery and ugly language when in the correct circumstances it can serve to inform. An example of this in both literature and film would be Harper Lee's story To Kill A Mockingbird. A perfect book, and a perfect film adaptation, that I think parents ought to share with their kids.
I look forward to seeing what kind of social commentary Christopher Nolan is apparently going for in The Dark Knight Rises and whether or not it will be something valuable to discourse or if it will just simply be a superficial pretense.
Film Devour Short Film Festival took place in the Black Box, Belfast and was presented by filmmaker Brian Mulholland. There was a great turn out for the 21 films shown.
One of my favourites of the night was My Dark Side directed by Keith Kopp. I'm a real sucker for sensitive films and this one was really good. Filmmaking itself is used as a part of the story. Throughout the film we enter dreams and memories, as we're shown the personal problems of the projectionist protagonist. In particular, the part of the mime was very effective in delivering a sober theme on suicide. Very smart, very moving film.
Another hit at the festival was 3 Minuteswritten, directed, and edited by Marie Claire Cushinan. This is the 3rd or 4th time I've watched this and the part with the 'muppet' still makes me laugh. It's best not to know the story. It's extremely simple and yet very effective, and when the film comes full circle its a satisfying conclusion that answers the odd behaviour of the female protagonist.
Hard to choose between my favourites but here's another one - The Dizzle Diariesdirected by Aaron Bulter and Ryan Ralph. This mockumentary is in the vein of Spinal Tap and is a real good display of Belfast humour. Aaron Butler plays the lead with a good sense of sarcasm, and throughout the laughs are pretty constant and the timing is spot on - a credit to both the writing and the editing. It's very school boy type humour, reminds me of secondary school.
There's a some non-PC jokes and it works because the protagonist is established as an idiot. Much like how Cartman from South Park can get away with so much. Even though the sound could benefit from some post-production work and the lighting is over-exposed in places, the sharp writing, directing, and the performances from the leads make the film work.
Next to be reviewed is Aye, Dead On! by Andrew Burns, a short horror comedy about two metallers retrieving their guitars in zombie populated Belfast. Some imaginative effects and cuts in this film. Their conversation about needing weed in the zombie apocalypse was amusing though I'd say the film ends too quickly, I'd have liked to see more zombies get fucked up.
Angelica by Ronnie McQuillan is a real showcase of stunning cinematography. The shallow focus and excellent lighting make this a very cinematic experience. The story is simply about Angelica, a young woman in a foreign place, cut off from family. Very good composition in the bus, it really emphasises her loneliness. There is a whole backstory here that is left hidden to the audience and it leaves me with an uncertain suspense as to the fate of the protagonist. Really beautiful film and certainly one of the best of the night.
The winner of the Audience Choice award was comedy film The Young Person's Succesful Guide To... directed by David Fleming and written by Johnathan McCoy. A lot of people turned up to vote for this one. Timmy and Douglas play two losers who show up to the popular guy's house party hoping to change their luck with women. Ross Chambers playing the part of Chad is the best thing in this film, insulting everyone in his path. He plays an 80's cliché that reminded me of Ben Stiller's performance in Dodgeball.
The Beast directed by Ryan Ralph is a short horror comedy about a hunter and a tv host searching for a Werewolf in the woods. I think the fight scene is the funniest moment and the performances are suitably hammy. I think the film would be better without the opening scene, as the better jokes come later on.
Filmmaker Aiden Largey had a number of films on show. The first, No Getaways, is a bank robbery gone wrong story. Or is it? The film displays what can be done with a low budget, showing off a full SWAT team and a shootout. It's not a Heat level production but nevertheless
its impressive to see what young filmmakers can pull off. I can't wait to see more of Aiden's work in the future. I wanna see a Largey film with millions in the budget. There's a large film feel throughout No Getaways.
Aaron Corry shot from behind the scenes on No Getaways to create The Unmaking Of, which gives us a taste of the ambitiousness of filmmaker Aiden Largey. It's good to see how much work went into this, we see the kind of problems that the audience would never be aware of, like the difficulty in getting the right location. The documentary also shows the great buzz that can take place during a shoot.
In Aiden Gault's The Five Stages (up online in two parts - 1 - 2) , a young man is informed that he is going to die - by none other than Death himself. There's some decent laughs in the film but its a little long and somewhat difficult to hear during certain scenes. The plot was clever though and I'm encouraged by this flick to see more work from Aiden Gault in the future.
Buck Furyis co-directed by Ally McKenzie and Darragh Haddock. The title character is something of a legend, perhaps only in his own mind, and seems to be a master of exaggeration in his story of confronting car thieves. It's partially filmed in documentary style, with Buck Fury recounting his tale to a camera crew. The editing of the action reminded me of scenes from Kung Pow: Enter The Fist. There are several funny 'tough guy' clichés which Robert Render as Buck delivers convincingly and overall the film was good fun, a real crowd pleaser. Another of the top films of the night.
Pill Poppingdirected by Brian Mulholland features the characters of McKeever and Jones - two metal heads on a night in with some magical pills. Is it a drama about drug abuse? No, its a comedy. One is trying to convince the other to go hunting for beaver. Pretty light hearted and laid back.
Here's a second round of short film reviews, from the second Brain Wash short film festival held in Manchester, back in January.
Most of these films are still making their way around festivals which would explain why all but one here are not online. I think once a short has got all the life it can from festivals and screenings it should be made easily available for the eager online audience. Some in the art community look down on the idea of placing your films online, but really it can be a great form of exposure. James Rolfe started on youtube and now he has almost 100 thousand grand raised from donations alone for his first feature film.
The event changed location to the Cord Bar and attracted hipsters from far and wide like moths to a flame.
Rikki Davis and Leopold Dewolf bring us the stop-motion animation Plastic, which takes place in a kind of totalitarian CCTV limbo. The film manages to give a very creepy vibe in the minimal setting and also has a subtle ambiguous nature that leaves a lasting impression. I couldn't say more without spoiling it, so if you have just under 3 minutes to spare - watch it!
We have Virgins, by Jack Turits. The trailer is online. Though I can't watch it again now, I remember it well enough. The story is about two virgins about to do the dirty for the first time with the awkwardness of such a scenario being the emphasis. It was very, very simple and I remember that the dialogue was fairly minimal. Through the performances of the actors there are several unspoken questions (as far as I remember they were unspoken) about whether or not these young individuals are ready, whether or not they're in love with each other or are they just carrying on with a sense of pressure and societal obligation. It was pretty decent but the film didn't leave a strong impression on me. The story didn't really go anywhere.
Also shown in the festival was Kate Shenton'sZumba, a Chaplin-esque romantic comedy featuring a clown and his inflatable sex doll. I'll comment more on it in the future, if it emerges online someday.
This was the first time that Brain Wash Manchester had an Audience Award, and it went to the film Worm from filmmaker Ryan Vernava. Worm is a somewhat noir style detective story revolving around a missing child, although the film soon plants both feet into surrealism. With UK Film Council funding behind it, its well produced, but overall I found the film a little dull.
For me, the best film of the night was The Furred Man, directed by Paul Williams. It's won 10 awards so far, so it ain't doing too shabby. The title, a clever pun on noir classic The Third Man (I guess, maybe there is no intended similarity), is an incredibly clever horror comedy, with a man dressed as a werewolf accused of murdering campers in the woods. Very well written and it features a great twist. You're lead to think one thing yet its something else and it ties together very well.
I haven't updated my blog in a long, long time so I've decided to go back in time, and review films from each short film festival I've been to since 2010.
Starting with the very first Brain Wash Manchester festival, back in Augest of last year. I shall continue to update the page as I track down the films shown.
Let's start with The Ghost Village Project, a short documentary on a never used village on the west coast of Scotland that has simply been empty for over 30 years. The film was made by a group of talented artists called Agents of Change who sought to take this space and remake it into an art gallery.
The composition of the shots are excellent and along with the ethereal music, and the pace of the film, give a sense of the character of this village as a desolate, ghostly ruin. Even before the artists got to work, I find there's a certain beauty in the emptiness, and my first inclination would be that the place should be used to film a horror. Luckily, the artists involved were more imaginative, and have turned a place that was an eyesore for locals into an effective urban space for art. Very enjoyable and informative.
Next up is Faden, directed by Martin Koddenberg with cinematography by Nandor Otvos. The story is a horror that deals with a theme seen in films like Pans Labyrinth in which a young girl escapes into fantasy and dreams to get away from her real life problems. It's a well produced film in that most of the effects look good and the standard of make-up, camera, and lighting are of a professional standard. But I find aspects of the film to be too obvious.
I'm pretty much going to go into full film student snob mode and incessantly nitpick from a film study perspective. But yes, for one thing, I think the music is too much. As soon as it begins, and the piano comes in, it sounds like stock horror film music. That along with the obvious creepy little girl is too much, too soon in the film, and the cut to a flashback is very cheesy, it isn't very smooth at all.
I think that a key element in a good short film, not ALL good short films, but certainly as a general rule subtilty is the key. These aren't feature films. Short films are a different creature. When a film is 3 minutes long, its probably not a good idea to have so many scene changes with different emotions behind them. The visuals are decent though, it would make for a good music video.
The best film of the night was Off Season, directed by Joe Randall-Cutler, nominated for Best Short Film in the BAFTA awards 2010. Everything in this film is on another level, the production is of a much higher standard. It stars Bill Sage, who has acted in American Psycho, and hit US shows such as Law and Order and Boardwalk Empire. Off Season features a lonely vagrant with a dog as his only companion, and a threat that awaits them in the barren snow.
This horror is reminiscent of John Carpenter's The Thing as both feature an isolated snow covered landscape. Bill Sage loots various abandoned cabins, and walks between them seemingly for miles. Each scene is gorgeous. As he sits with his oil lamp in the darkness, the word chiaroscuro comes to mind.
The pace is perfect, there is a genuine rise in tension and suspense. The threat is kept largely unseen throughout and I think the film is a great show case for the art of subtilty. This is evident in the shots chosen and the sound design. It's very nicely cut too, with the camera following the protagonist through the snow into pure white, which cuts to the next scene perfectly. Joe Randall-Cutler really gets it. Highly recommended for horror fans or any fans of good short films.
I dreamt of a zombie apocalypse (I've had many zombie apocalypse dreams) in which I was on the top floor of a sky scraper with other survivors. In the distance, we could see white balloons floating towards us from beyond a layer of fog, and attached to the strings were supplies. We sent our own balloons back the same direction, with notes attached. We continuously received new supplies via these balloons but our mysterious benefactors did not respond to our notes. At one point, they sent books, however, the books fell to the street level. I had to venture outside to retrieve them, risking my life. I remember running from zombies, running into a hut and trying to blockade it. I remember little else.
Immediate impressions. Clearly influenced by The Andulusian Dog, and I'd also say influenced by the slasher flicks of Italian horror. Very contemporary horror film. It plays on the source of horror being abnormal, against nature, a demon fetus. The film is mostly slasher but with a supernatural twist. The creature keeps coming back.
Metroid: Other M is a worthy entrant in the Metroid series, a seriously fun game, and artistically and technically a great mixture of old and new.
I'd have to say the Prime series is stronger. However, I definately recommend Other M. Depending on your tastes, if you prefer a faster pace and more action compared to the slow pace and heavy exploration of the Prime games, you could very well prefer Other M.
Other M puts a lot of emphasis on platforming and action, and while exploration and puzzle solving are still present, it's not as prevailant (or as strong) as other entrants in the series. It is not entirely linear, but most of the time you'll be pretty sure of where you're supposed to go.
In regards to the gameplay, some were confused before the the release on whether or not the game is 2D with 3D aiming.
Well, much of the game plays like a two-dimensional sidescrolling platformer, like the original Metroid, and Super Metroid. The main difference with Other M, is that the environments are three-dimensional. Samus can move in every direction. Sometimes the camera view will change, moving to the back of Samus, or the front of Samus, but for the most part it is a side-view.
The Wii remote is held like a classic controller, but you can change to first-person view by pointing the Wii remote at the screen - this is done for firing missiles, or for aiming blasts at some particular point, or for simply looking around the environment.
Noticably missing is scanning, which was a big feature in the Prime games. Scanning revealed interesting tidbits of information about the technology, races, and story of the games. I was sad to see this was not present in Other M, but it would have slowed down the pace of a game that is meant to be fast.
In place of scanning are events which require the first-person view to spot some sort of key thing in order to progress. One or two of these were on the irritating side. It reminded me of that Blade Runner game that was on the PC, with the photograph puzzles, looking all over the photograph, trying to figure out just what on Earth you're supposed to find.
Switching between the side-scrolling view, and first-person view can be awkward at first. On numerous occasions, it is vital to use missiles to hurt enemies, and in the heat of battle when I tried switching to first-person, I found myself looking at the ceiling, while the enemies are kicking my ass. Frustrating, but it doesn't take long to get the hang of it. And when you do get the hang of it, switching between the 2 perspectives is smooth and intuitive.
New to the series is the dodge feature. Simply tap a directional button at the correct time, and Samus will stylishly dodge enemy attacks. A very useful feature that I took advantage of to avoid damage many times, and it makes combat that much more exciting. Also new is lethal strikes. When an enemy has been sufficiently weakened, usually showing this by lying down, Samus can run at them with her gun charged which will activate a fancy finishing move.
The boss fights are very strong and what we've come to expect from the series. Bosses will have certain patterns and weak points, some bosses will be more granduer than others. I have no complaints with the boss fights. There is a good amount of them, and they're nicely varied.
One of the other big changes in the series is a voice for Samus, and the expansion of cut scenes. Typically in the Metroid series, you mostly just got to see Samus enter her ship and head to a location, then at the end of the game leave the same way (with stuff exploding behind her). Now, there is a fully fledged script, with multiple characters, twists and turns, and more character and history for Samus than we had ever seen.
I had some concern that this would interfere with the sense of isolation and atmosphere that I so love about the games. I'm happy to say that this wasn't the case. They balanced out the cutscenes well, and overall there wasn't actually that many of them. When they happen, they're fairly long (though not Metal Gear Solid long), and make for a nice change of pace before getting back into the gaming again. The cutscenes actually feel rewarding when they happen, it gives you another reason to keep gaming to see the next revelations in the story. And when you are gaming, there is definately the classic sense of isolation famous in the Metroid games. I was nicely impressed by the atmosphere they can create in what is for the most part a side-scrolling platformer. Certain events are activated which change the perspective or camera view that in a way reminded me of classic Resident Evil. I was at the edge of my seat.
There have been drawbacks to giving Samus more character. I will try to explain without spoiling anything. I'm not one of these nerds that believes Samus shouldn't have a voice. When I had the opportunity to play a demo a couple of months before the release of the game at a convention, a couple of nerds passed me and one said "dude I can't believe Samus just talked", in the most patronising nerd voice you can imagine. It was groan inducing. No, I don't mind Samus having a voice at all. However, at several points in the game, I felt they made Samus too weak. They overly emphasized a stereotyped feminity, without emphasising strengths as a character. They had the opportunity to show off a female badass that can knock heads as well as, or better than, any man, and they kind of blew it.
To be clearer - it is obvious to me that the Metroid series is very influenced by the Alien series. Ripley is the perfect example of a female character in which her strengths as well as her feminity are balanced excellently.
Sometimes, less is more. It was better, I think, when we didn't see much of who Samus is, it allowed us to project our own assumptions about the character onto her, while making the one or two small pieces of information more poignant. I recall an implication in the Prime games that Samus was raised by the Chozo, a bird-like alien race. So you kind of imagine her as this strong loner with tragedy in her past - her family died while she was young, and the Chozo are now extinct. In Other M, she acts in ways I hadn't imagined her acting. She is overly protective while at the same time relying too much on others, she allows herself to be bossed around at the detriment of her own safety and success of her mission, she is too sensitive to the words of others, her narration sounds like the diary of a 15 year old girl, etc etc.
The story was by no means terrible. But it suffers from the same cheese factor as many games, like the Resident Evil games. At least with the Prime games there was none of that cheese. There was much more room for subtlety. We went from hardly ever seeing Samus underneath the suit, learning sparse details about her, never hearing her voice, to this overly sexualized, sterile, child-like anime character.
The cutscenes are gorgeous. I'd say they are easily on the same level as PS3/360 games. I'm sure some techno-geek could point out why its not, but at least to my eye, I thought the cutscenes were excellent looking. And I really liked the cinematography. I think it's clever how modern video game designers not only make video games more cinematic, but they keep up to date with filmmaking trends. In Other M, you'll see some fast zooms, soft focus, etc.
The comparisons between Metroid and Alien have probably never been stronger than in Other M. Samus is shown to be protective of female survivors in a similar way that Ripley was protective of Newt. There is that theme of lost motherhood, with the game opening up showing the baby Metroid that believed Samus to be its mother. There is a scene in Other M in which Samus enters a room full of hatched Metroid eggs, very reminiscent of the eggs from the Alien series, and there is a Metroid queen that has a similar transparant sac for hatching Metroids with, to the Alien queen.
I found it very strange that there was this build up to a confrontation with Ridley, but in the end, we're cheated out of a final confrontation.
In regards to exploration, the map system isn't as complex as it was in the Prime games. In the Prime games, you could move and look around a three-dimensional map which was helpful for showing off the different planes that existed in some of the rooms. In Other M, the map is a top down view, two-dimensional. There are one or two rooms where I would have found a three-dimensional map helpful, however, on the whole the level design in Other M is more simple. I remember as well, that every single corridor and room in the Prime games was labelled in some way. This is not the case with Other M. I like the smaller details, but this is a nitpick. I was frustrated by the presence of a yellow arrow in the top right corner of the screen where the mini-map is, showing the way to go. So many games now seem to be doing this. I don't want to be lead around like that. Let me explore and figure it out.
It's weird to me, that the level design of the Prime games were more complex, the maps more complex, the game a lot less linear, and they only set a marker on the map very rarely and only when it was clear that you were stuck. If you were wandering aimlessly for something like ten minutes, the game has some setup reason for showing you the way in the map ("scanners detect seismic activity!"). Even then, you still had to bring up the map screen, look at where the marker is, and figure out how to get there. In Other M, a much more linear game, you are always told the direction to go in. This is a Metroid game. I want to use my brain, and figure it out. It's not like it was ever THAT hard. Yeah, it was challenging sometimes in previous games, but challange is GOOD. Why are game makers forgetting this? Do easier games sell better? In Prime games it was a simple enough process of deduction - "Okay, I've just unlocked the super missile, let's bring up the map here and see which doors are unlocked with this". That's another thing that bugs me - the map screen in Other M doesn't tell you half as much, it doesn't tell you what doors are unlocked with which weapons, but the game is linear enough that it doesn't become a problem.
Slight spoilers here. One of the more ridiculous things in the game from a story perspective is that Samus doesn't use a lot of her weaponry because she has been forbidden to do so by a Federation commander, for really nonsensical safety concerns. Events will happen, and he will announce that such and such a weapon has now been authorized for use. It's somewhat insulting. During certain boss fights, it sure would have been useful to have super missiles, or the wave beam, or the screw attack, and so on. And this Commander is a person that supposedly cares about Samus. Sure, having Samus' suit get damaged or her weapons taken away is cliche but it is much preferable to simply being authorized to use certain weapons. In fact, in previous games there was a much greater sense of achievement when you unlocked weapons and suit upgrades. You really felt like you had earned it.
There is plenty of opportunity to explore, but there just doesn't seem like the same level of insentive. Sure, there are hidden items - but you're always told by a blip on the map when a hidden item is in a room. It's not as much of a challange to locate them. And for collecting them, you only really seem to unlock more stuff for the gallery screen (which is unlocked upon completion of the game). The Prime games made you work your ass off for unlockable content. From completing the game with no continues, to 100% items and scan collection, you would get secret endings. From what I've read, that doesn't seem the case with Other M.
There aren't as many puzzles, or as many complex puzzles. They are present, but definately lacking. You remember the intricate magnetic rail puzzles in the Prime games? Nothing remotely like that in Other M, in fact the morph ball puzzles have been completely dumbed down.
I can't decide if the mixture of classic sidescrolling and first-person view is a step up or a step down from Prime. From an artistic point of view, I think the Prime games look better. And while Other M achieves a level of atmosphere, I think the Prime games have more.
I even think the music from the Prime games was better, and much more memorable. The Prime soundtracks are wonderfully ambient.
You can guess that I'm fond of the Prime games. They're an excellent set of games, the first 2 certainly worthy of 'game of the year' type accolades. They're each in their way vast quests, with the 2nd game, Echoes, being the most challanging, ultra hard game in the series, while the 3rd game Corruption is the weakest of the series. I'd place Other M somewhere with Corruption.
But don't get me wrong.
Overall, this is a Nintendo game. Well designed, clever, intuitive, fun, well worth the money to play and complete. It's fast paced. Fans of the series will enjoy it. Fans of action platformers in which a little brain work is required will enjoy it. But for those expecting the same level of challange of the other Metroid games, or the same level of lengthy quest, will be somewhat disappointed and craving more.
It is my hope that Nintendo takes this game and gives it a meaty sequal. The pieces are certainly here for a bigger and much more satisfying adventure.
"Through a doorway, sunlight falls softly into a room, only partially revealing the interior space. We can clearly see that many feet have passed over this floor. Is the open door an invitation to step outside or to come in? Either way, what lies waiting to be discovered? What is present here and now? The transition from the known to the unknown is a recurrent theme in Bullock's photography. 'Mysteries lie all around us', he said, 'even in the most familiar things, waiting only to be perceived. If I photograph in such a way that I meaningfully evoke a sense of the known and the unknown, I feel I have succeeded.'
Pre-festival - I have recieved the news that Lonely Earth will unfortunately not be a part of the Foyle Film Festival.
However, I've also got the news that Lonely Earth will be in the Brainwash Manchester film festival, starting on October 26th. It's a great feeling to know my film will have some life outside my course back home. http://www.facebook.com/brainwashlondon
Post-festival - Some great films. The best by far being the Bafta nominated Off Season.
It's a little embarrasing having my work up there for everyone to see. I can see so many things wrong with Lonely Earth. But there's no sense in making films if you're not going to show them.
As soon as I have access to a Mac, I'll update my showreel to feature some of his track from the film. I couldn't have asked for anything better.
Fortunately, I got the music in time to send my film off to the Foyle Film Festival, and more recently I sent my film to the Filmlab Festival. They're both quality festivals with a lot of competition so let's hope Lonely Earth gets a screening in at least one. An award wouldn't go amiss either!
Besides shamelessly promoting Lonely Earth, I've been writing scripts for my next short film, and working in the media industry in any way I can. I've done some runner work for Wild Rover and some supporting artist work for Stirling. Both experiences were enjoyable and informative in their own ways, and in particular with Stirling I had a good look at a high production televised fiction from behind the scenes.
I'll be going to Manchester on the 18th September to take my journey as a film student to the next level. Hopefully, it won't be too long before I work on my next short. I'll miss my friends and family back home, but I'm very excited about the future.
· Writer, Director, Editor - On the short film Lonely Earth. Screened at The Odeon on 10th June 2010.
· Camera Assistant and 2nd Unit Camera - on the short film Hope. Screened at The Odeon on 10th June 2010.
· Producer, Director, Editor – On the short documentary Slice Of The City - Young Filmmakers. · Story, Camera, Editor – On the short silent film Into The Fire currently on permanent exhibition at the Folk and Transport Museum.
· Production Manager – For Crucible Pictures Ltd on the short film Prophet. Producers Paul Hamilton and Keith O’Grady. April – June 09.
· Writer, Director, Editor – On the short film I, want shot on the 23rd and 24th January 09. Screened at Storm Cinema 4th June 09.
Motion Pictures and Film | Manchester, United Kingdom, GB
I'm a Belfast resident and recent university graduate from Manchester Metropolitan University where I gained Bachelor of Arts 1st Class Honours in Contemporary Film and Video. This year, I've been accepted into Queen's University to do a Masters in Film and Visual Studies. That doesn't begin until September, and in the meantime I am very keen to gain work and experience in the film and television industry.
Proficient in Final Cut Pro 7, Soundtrack Pro, DVD studio Pro, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Microsoft Suite including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe Photoshop, & Flash, Mac OS 9 & OS X. Still Photography - Canon 1000D. Video Cameras - Sony PD150, Sony Z5, Panasonic HG-HMC 151, Canon 7D Research and writing.
I have written, edited, directed, and shot multiple short films screened in festival in Belfast, Northern Ireland and Manchester, England.
Transcriber and Runner / Stirling Film + Television Productions Limited
I transcribed raw footage of interviews for the television factual series Cracking Crime - The Cold Cases.
In addition, I was present on location helping to loaded and unload a van with camera and lighting equipment and gripping cables for the camera crew.
Script Editor / Crucible Pictures
I provide an in-depth analysis on plot, structure, character, genre, tone, synopsis, theme, and give suggestions for script improvements.
Production Assistant / Crucible Pictures
-Camera operation during casting -Responsible for assisting cast with their needs, such as parking and directing them to the location -In charge of room set up for casting, and resetting the room Assisted the Director with casting decisions -Clapper on set, keeping track of scenes and takes -Assisted with setting and resetting the sets and assisted the camera crew
Production Assistant/Camera Operator / Wolf Gate Media
-Responsible for cast and crew general needs, such as ordering meals -Assisting with moving and set-up of camera and lighting equipment between locations -Camera operation during night time shoot -In charge of maintaining the shot list for the Director and clapper duties
Runner / Tern TV
I was tasked with spreading the word of a new programme called 'Fat Chance', and I spent time in Coleraine, Lisburn, and Belfast seeking contributors to the show.
Supporting Artist and Runner / Stirling Film + Television Productions Limited
I appeared as an extra on several episodes of 'Seacht' as well as helping to setup a studio for filming.
Runner / Wild Rover Productions
Generating interest and locating participants for 'The David Meade Project.'
Production Manager / Crucible Pictures
I helped to organize crew, actors, and locations for a short film titled 'Prophet', directed by Paul Hamilton. This was the summer after my first year of HND Media and it was a huge challenge, a lot of trust and responsibility rested on my shoulders. This film was one of the most important learning curves of my career.
The Manchester Metropolitan University
BA (Hons) Contemporary Film and Video