Archive for October, 2010

Review: Paranormal Activity 2

If you didn’t like Paranormal Activity, then you probably won’t like Paranormal Activity 2. On the other hand, if the first one scared the pants off you, be ready to keep the light on at night. Paranormal Activity 2 is, in almost all respects, an ‘amped up’ version of the original. It’s louder, more tense, and a little more story-driven. But is it scarier?

Connecting to the original through family ties (‘Katie’ in the original is the sister to Sprague Grayden’s character here), PA2 delves a little deeper into the backstory of the characters and the “why?” of the story arc. While the writers and the director, Tod Williams, under the guidance of Oren Peli – the first film’s writer/director, never explain everything, they give you just enough to understand what’s going on. And, yes, if you’ve seen the trailer, you know that the baby plays a huge role in the “why” of what’s going on.

But if you’re even mildly interested in seeing this movie, you probably don’t give two squirts about the story; you want to know if this is scary, or at least just as scary as the original. That’s actually a tough question to answer, as it depends on your definition of ‘scary’. To me, the original was unnerving in a way that made your skin crawl whenever there was a nighttime scene, and especially whenever you heard that low-frequency hum that precedes every instance of paranormal activity in the house. Here, that creepiness factor is gone, and it was a smart move by the filmmakers. It’s like that old adage, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” The flick didn’t want to try and scare you with the exact same tricks twice.

So what did they do with this one? They took it up a notch. Instead of the slow build of the original, the activity happens early on, and hits harder. The demon, or whatever it is that’s plaguing these families, has a very specific goal in mind, and it will do anything and everything to achieve it. The entity makes its presence known, despite the husband’s best efforts to ignore or explain it. It’s like, instead of letting you know it’s there by poking you, this thing is now in your face and ready to scream to let you know it’s there. Whatever it is, it’s angry and very, very hostile.

And, instead of waiting until night falls, the entity has no problems attacking during the day. In fact, quite possibly the scariest jump-out-of-your-seat moment happens during the day. It’s a brazen move by the filmmakers, like saying, “The first flick made you keep your light on at night, now we want to make you afraid of being alone even during the day.”

Paranormal Activity 2 is a step in the right direction for the series (or, dare I say, franchise?), even though it’s just a more in-your-face version of the original. The story is intriguing enough that there’s most assuredly going to be a part three, and the scares are genuine. Yes, familiar problems with the original follow this one, such as some moments of ridiculousness (seeing someone lifted in mid-air while still holding on to something is ripe for a “Benny Hill” parody), and the issue of ‘if you don’t believe in this, then it won’t scare you.’ Still, the movie will get more than a few good freak-outs from you. The cast seems a little more natural than in the original (the benefit of having someone with a little more experience like Sprague Grayden), and the sound design is still top notch.

See this with a group; it’ll be the most freaky, scary fun you’ll have at the theatre this year.

9/10

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October 21, 2010 at 12:19 pm Leave a comment

Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor‘s been out for nearly a week, and the reviews have been fairly mixed. Some people hate it, some think it’s alright. Most see it as a step in the right direction, but “it’s no Call of Duty”. Having spent considerable time with the game, I’ve come to realize that maybe the game is being unfairly pooped on, at least from the single-player campaign perspective.

I know, it’s inevitable that any FPS set in the ‘modern era’ is going to be compared to Call of Duty. I get it. In fact, I think a game like Medal of Honor should be held up against something like Modern Warfare 2. After all, that game did a whole mess of stuff right: tightly-paced (although almost nonsensical) storyline, memorable scenes (the Moscow airport, falling from a helicopter into an inhospitable Brazilian slum, and defending a freaking Burger King from Russians), and plenty of explosions.

However, not every first-person modern combat game needs to be “Michael Bay’d”. The relatively slow pace of MoH that was dissed by some is, to me, a welcome change. If I want the Call of Duty experience, I’d go play Call of Duty. I enjoy that series (except for the third one) and I look forward to Treyarch’s CoD: Black Ops. But, for a franchise that is trying to be more ‘faithful’ to the war experience, I expect Medal of Honor to be a little more…tactical. For the most part, that’s what I got.

Sure, the single-player isn’t perfect. I’ve run into my fair share of bugs and glitches, and the first few levels are a little boring, but it does enough right that I would recommend this game to others. Starting at Mission 5, “Belly of the Beast”, the game starts to take a considerable turn from being ‘average’ to being ‘pretty good’. Right off the bat, it may seem like a level from CoD: Rangers hunkered down behind rocks, foreign-speaking enemies lighting up the landscape with gunfire, bullets smacking into the ground around your feet. But once the game separated my squad and I from the larger battle, I started to notice things the game hadn’t shown me yet: how the enviornment dictates the way you fight.

FOR THE REST OF THIS POST, AND FOR MY THOUGHTS ON THE MULTIPLAYER, CHECK OUT MY STAFF BLOG AT 1UP.

October 19, 2010 at 5:32 pm Leave a comment

The League of Coffee

Or

“The League of Extraordinary 1UP-ers”


October 12, 2010 at 2:35 pm Leave a comment


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