Quick Review : Baby Driver (2017)

This is an exemplary case of style of substance. Edgar Wright manages to blend sound effects and soundtrack to a degree almost extraordinary in its accomplishments. On a technical level, it’s a marvel. To look at and hear, Baby Driver is astonishing. But, but it fails on the levels of story and character. The main character, Baby, is just as quiet as the Driver out of Dive, but he’s simply forgettable. Everybody else is merely there; chess pieces in Wright’s marvel without personality.

baby driver baby
This car has more personality than Baby

Next: the story is something we’ve all seen before, and there’s nothing new or unique to alter our perceptions. I never thought I’d say this about an Edgar Wright film, but more than a few times, I was bored. Also, like many films of its kind, it run out of steam before the third act. Not a bad film by any means, just style over substance and everything else.

Hammy’s Rating: 3/5

Memorable Scene: TEQUILA!

Memorable Quote: ‘Let’s head West on the 20, in a car we can’t afford, with a plan we don’t have’

Quick Review : Castlevania – Symphony of the Night (PlayStation)

My Castlevania journey continues with Symphony of the Night! I bought it on the Xbox Arcade, and I bloody loved it. It takes more than a little inspiration from Super Metroid (one of my all-time favourite video games) and adds RPG mechanics and an array of weapons, shields and armour. As with Super Metroid, it’s a fantastic mix of atmosphere, music and gameplay that makes backtracking thrilling.

castlevania symphony of the night legion
Out of the many memorable bosses, Legion was perhaps my favourite, especially in terms of visuals.

Without ‘levels,’ there’s a desire to keep on exploring. When do you stop? After you’ve acquired an item? After you’ve beaten a boss? Symphony of the Night is almost impossible to put down. It’s a classic fully deserving of the term “classic,” served by a soundtrack that keeps on giving. Yes, the “secret castle” may be a letdown, but you’ll never forget you first playthrough of Symphony of the Night

Hammy’s Rating: 5/5

Click here for my Quick Review of Bloodstained : Ritual of the Night

Click here for my Quick Review of Bloodstained : Curse of the Moon

Click here for my Quick Review of Castlevania (NES)

Click here for my Quick Review of Castlevania III : Dracula’s Curse (NES)

Click here for my Quick Review of Castlevania : Aria of Sorrow

Quick Review : Castlevania III – Dracula’s Curse (NES)

THIS is how you do a sequel. Expand the number of levels and playable characters, and give the player a branching path. Oh, you also make it INCREDIBLY difficult. I though the original was tough, but this…this is infuriatingly difficult at times. If I thought that battle with Dracula was tough in the original, than I had no idea what was coming up with III’s version of Dracula. It took me hours to defeat him!

castlevania 3 dracula
Considered giving up so many times during the final boss battle…and may have thrown my controller a few times as well!

Just like the original, the challenge is sometimes unfair, but never so unfair that it made me give up (although I did consider it at times…). There are moments where enemies appear from nowhere, knocking you to oblivion. It’s as tough as nails, but there’s always the possibility to surmount it. The longevity/repeatability is appreciated, as next time I pick it up I’ll take a different path (and experiment with other characters). It’s surely the finest “pure” Castlevania out there (I consider SotN and its ilk to be impure Castlevanias…)…but dare I play Castlevania II?

Hammy’s Rating: 5/5

Click here for my Quick Review of Bloodstained : Ritual of the Night

Click here for my Quick Review of Bloodstained : Curse of the Moon

Click here for my Quick Review of Castlevania (NES)

Click here for my Quick Review of Castlevania – Symphony of the Night (Playstation)

Click here for my Quick Review of Castlevania : Aria of Sorrow

Quick Review : Castlevania (NES)

Sometimes, you’ve got to go back to the beginning. Thanks to the NES Classic, I did…and what a game to start the franchise! The gothic atmosphere fills the player with dread and uncertainty. You’re sucked in almost immediately…and the insurmountable challenge keeps calling you back. Yes, it’s unfair at times. Yes, the rigid controls constrain your ability to dodge and kill enemies. But there is always a small chance that you can succeed…

castlevania dracula
If you think this Dracula is difficult to kill, wait until the Dracula of Castlevania III …

Unfortunately, there are only 6 levels, worth half an hour of gameplay if you played it from start to finish without dying (an impossible challenge?). It’s a damn shame that the game is so short. From playing its remake to playing the original, you can see the potential in those 6 levels. But that potential isn’t realized until Castlevania III…

Hammy’s Rating: 4/5

Click here for my Quick Review of Bloodstained : Ritual of the Night (XBox One)

Click here for my Quick Review of Bloodstained : Curse of the Moon (Switch)

Click here for my Quick Review of Castlevania – Symphony of the Night (Playstation)

Click here for my Quick Review of Castlevania : Aria of Sorrow (GBA)

Click here for my Quick Review of Castlevania III – Dracula’s Curse (NES)

Quick Review : Castlevania : Aria Of Sorrow (Game Boy Advance)

As soon as I finished SotN I wanted to play it through again. I wanted to explore, to find things I hadn’t in my first playthrough. Aria of Sorrow is SotN’s rightful successor, capturing its essence without being a mere replica. For one, the storyline is more complicated and compelling. Although the visuals can’t hold a candle the SotN (thanks to the GBA’s limitations), they are still vibrant, colourful and oozing with style. Exploring the caslte here is just as involving, if not more so, than SotN. While the map is smaller, it seems the developers packed a whole lot more into it.

aria of sorrow underground reservoir
When are we going to get re-releases of all the GBA Castlevania titles>

 

Combat is improved as well, thanks to the ‘Soul Set,’ a system where you capture the souls of defeated enemies. These souls give you attacks, abilities and more, enabling greater flexibility in combat.

Is this better than SotN? Another playthrough of both is necessary to decide that. But Aria of Sorrow is a much more compact package…

Hammy’s Rating: 5/5

Click here for my Quick Review of Bloodstained : Ritual of the Night

Click here for my Quick Review of Bloodstained : Curse of the Moon

Click here for my Quick Review of Castlevania (NES)

Click here for my Quick Review of Castlevania III – Dracula’s Curse (NES)

Click here for my Quick Review of Castlevania – Symphony of the Night (Playstation)

Quick Review : Us (2019)

How do you top a directorial debut like ‘Get Out.’ Not exactly like this…what starts out as a straight horror film becomes complicated and packed to the brim with mostly unresolved issues. That’s not to say I didn’t like the film. In fact I loved it…until the third act exposition dump that made everything preceding it nonsensical. After that, I felt deflated and nonplussed. I didn’t care for the ending. In terms of acting, dialogue (bar the exposition dump), cinematography and directing, ‘Us’ is a triumph. If not for the third act, I’d be rating it much higher.

us family
US…or U.S?!?!

I’m not sure if it’s an overly ambitious idea that fails to narratively  and thematically gel together, or if’s it’s just a really daft idea that doesn’t make sense…or perhaps both?Still, it’s an impressive sophomore effort that pales in comparison to Jordan Peele’s debut. Yet it’s more ambitious and packed with crazy ideas that put most other horror films to shame.

Hammy’s Rating: 3/5

MEMORABLE SCENE: Good vibrations!

MEMORABLE QUOTE(s): ‘Who are you people?’

Quick Review : Children of Men (2006)

Children of Men is one of the best films of the 21st century. And no one can tell me otherwise! Alfonso Cuaron assumes a general intelligence in the viewer, thus much of the plot/world is shown in the background, hiding just beneath the surface. More often than not, the foreground is merely a distraction. There’s no opening scroll to tell us that by 2027, humanity is infertile. We only need to be told a few things, here and there. Children of Men is a masterclass in cinema in all areas. The direction and cinematography make the viewing as bleak and unforgiving as the world we are watching. The nerve-shredding tracking shots will have you biting your fingernails off. It’s themes (or looks) haven’t aged badly in the slightest.

children of men tracking shot
Peekaboo!

In fact, in this age of Trump and Brexit, this is a prescient look at our future. Although 2027 looks bleak and unforgiving (and most of the English people depicted are scumbags!), there’s always hopes. In the midst of desolation, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. One of the best films of modern times.

Hammy’s Rating: 5/5

MEMORABLE SCENE: The last tracking shot

MEMORABLE QUOTE(s): ‘I can’t really remember when I last had any hope and I certainly can’t remember when anyone else did either’

‘Everything is a mythical, cosmic battle between faith and chance’

Quick Review : Game of Death (1978)

This is an insult to the legacy of Bruce Lee. It has nothing to do with Lee’s original concept for ‘Game of Death,’ save for the butchered 11 minutes of Lee’s original footage. The plot of this garbage: martial arts actor Billy Lo (NOT played by Bruce Lee, just 2 other actors in shades!) is shot, so he fakes his death and seeks to wreak vengeance on those who conspired to kill him. It’s basically the plot of ‘The Crow’ and features a scene the prefigures how Brandon Lee died. To disguise the fact that Lee had nothing to do with this film (as he was dead), the editors splice footage from Lee’s other films into the film (and, at one point, laughably use a CUTOUT of Lee’s face on a mirror!) and actually uses footage from Lee’s REAL funeral (despicable, no?).

game of death mirror
Yes, this is a real scene from the film! 

It’s an absolute travesty of a film. Save from a silly but entertaining motorbike action sequence and the butchered 11 minutes footage of Lee’s original footage, there’s nothing to salvage this garbage. Simply watch the re-edited version of Lee’s original footage instead.

Hammy’s Rating: 1/5

MEMORABLE SCENE: Perhaps the motorbike scene…?

MEMORABLE QUOTE: Errr…pass!

Click here for my Quick review of The Big Boss (1971)

Click here for my Quick review of Fist of Fury (1972)

Click here for my Quick review of Way of the Dragon (1972)

Click here for my Quick Review of Enter The Dragon (1973)

Quick Review : Enter The Dragon (1973)

Can any of Bruce Lee’s films be considered great? Although I’m a big Bruce Lee fan, I’d say no. They are carried by the fight scenes alone. ‘Enter The Dragon’ is no exception, but at least it’s a decent film outside of the fight scenes. The increase in production values helps as well. This was Lee’s first (and last) major role in a Hollywood film. The plot is a B-level Bond story, but involving a Shaolin Monk (Lee, as, well Lee!) instead of James Bond and a martial arts tournament. It moves along at a swift pace, and has a toe-tapping soundtrack. Of course, whenever Lee’s fists and feet start flying, the excitement reaches heavenly levels. The film starts with a taster: Lee v a young Sammo Hung (and also an insight into Lee’s philosophy: “Don’t think, FEEL!”). But the most ferocious and entertaining fight scene in Lee vs goons in the cave, where he utilizes nunchuks and a bo as well as his limbs to fend of a horde of attackers.

enter the dragon too busy
(About death) When it comes…I’ll be too busy lookin good!

The film may well be remembered for the ‘Hall of Mirrors’ fight scene that concludes the film, but apart from looking fantastic, it’s a subdued affair (due to the big bad guy being Shih Ken, around 60 years old at the time). Still, Lee’s finest film, one that you can watch the whole way through without wanting to skip to the fight scenes!

Hammy’s Rating: 4/5

MEMORABLE SCENE: Hall of Mirrors!

MEMORABLE QUOTE: “Boards don’t hit back!”

Click here for my Quick review of The Big Boss (1971)

Click here for my Quick review of Fist of Fury (1972)

Click here for my Quick review of Way of the Dragon (1972)

Click here for my Quick Review of Game of Death (1978)

Quick Review : Fist of Fury (1972)

Lo Wei and the cast of ‘The Big Boss’ improve and fix some of the flaws of their first film with ‘Fist of Fury.’ Sure, the melodrama and implausible plot turns are still there, but on the whol the story is more engaging and the acting more solid, than in ‘The Big Boss.’ Also, Lee as Chen Zhen kicks ass within 15 minutes of the film starting! There’s little build-up, but it’s ample enough (a Chinese man slapping and provoking Chen). But that first fight scene…what a scene. Perhaps one of cinema’s best fight scenes. Chen takes out an entire school of karate students in an extended and superbly choreographed fight scene. We are then made to wait and wade through Chen disguising himself several times before another superb fight scene, which is deflated by a dull conclusion. However, that final shot of Chen jumping towards the police (and the screen) with a flying kick in PHENOMENAL

fist-of-fury-movie-review-bruce-lee-taunted
Don’t upset Bruce Lee!!!

Of course, Lee is the star here, looking even more impressive and fluid than in ‘The Big Boss.’ His acting seems less stiff as well. In terms of fight scenes, ‘Fist of Fury’ contains perhaps the purest and best fight scenes of Lee’s career. I could take or leave the story and characters, but the fight scenes…oh, the fight scenes!

Hammy’s Rating: 3/5

Memorable Scene: Chen taking out an entire school of karate students!

Memorable Quote: ‘Eat. This time you’re eating paper. Next time it’s going to be glass.’

Click here for my Quick review of The Big Boss (1971)

Click here for my Quick review of Way of the Dragon (1972)

Click here for my Quick Review of Enter The Dragon (1973)

Click here for my Quick Review of Game of Death (1978)