Tag Archives: 2012

Extracted (2012)

extracted

Extracted is director Nir Paniry’s feature film debut. The science fiction flick takes place in the near future where a scientist named Tom (Sasha Roiz) has created a machine that is able to read and display the thoughts and memories of another person. When a test demo goes wrong, Tom is trapped inside the mind of Anthony (Dominic Bogart), a prisoner convicted of murder. There’s much more to the plot than this but saying anything else would ruin the surprise.

For a feature film debut, this film is excellent. The writing is really well done and the story stays pretty well grounded within its own rules.so the resolution of the movie doesn’t feel like a cop out. The film seems to draw a heavy inspiration from other science fiction film, The Cell (2000) is one that instantly comes to mind. Having a fairly low budget, the director/writer focused on making a film that was heavily centered on story rather than on a visual spectacle and he delivered.

Being the heart of the film, the actors didn’t shy away from the spotlight. Both lead actors Sasha and Dominic gave excellent performances that helped the movie deliver its emotional core. Dominic Bogart’s performance as Anthony was particularly noteworthy because of how crucial his character was to the plot of the film. Even side characters like Martino (Frank Ashmore), Anthony’s estranged father, seemed excellent and pretty genuine for the most part.

Nir Paniry’s feature debut is a solid film and there is really not a lot of negative things that I could find in this movie. Extracted is an excellent example of what a good science fiction movie could look like without having to rely on flashy visual imagery. This film is far from winning any major awards but it is a movie that keeps the audience hooked with excellent storytelling. If you are tired of seeing the same type of big budget Hollywood movies, Extracted might just be the film for you.

TL;DR: Small budget science fiction movie that relies on story telling rather than special effects. A good movie to watch if you’re in the mood to see something on Netflix.

Rockit Raccoon Rating: 7/10

Rotten Tomatoes: n/a

Metacritic: 61%

IMDB: 6.5/10

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Anna -Extended Edition (2012)

Anna-Extended-Edition

Anna is a psychological horror video game. The plot is really vague and a bit hard to follow but you start off in what appears to be a dream. Now being a horror game, you would expect a creepy atmosphere to begin with but this game actually starts off the opposite way. After a small intro by the main character, who is in search of Anna, you start off outside an old looking house but the environment around the house is beautiful. Grass is lush green, the small creek is next to the house is crystal clear, and the sky is blue. This type of environment does nothing to scare the player and actually seems odd compared to the tone of most horror games.

It’s only after walking into the house that you see the first real signs of the horror aspect of this game. What really stands out is that despite the creepy interior of the house, the music does not fit at all. Instead of your typical Silent Hill-esque track, there is really mellow music. Somehow this makes the game more unsettling than if there was generic horror music. Another thing to add is that the developers of this game really found a way to make the player feel uncomfortable without using jump scares (I only recall coming across  one) but by instead setting an uncomfortable ambience. The appropriate way to describe this game would be creepy, not scary and that’s not a bad thing at all. Another thing to point out is that there’s no real enemies or monsters chasing after you. It’s not like Amnesia or Outlast where you occasionally run into an enemy and hide. In Anna, you might be exploring a room and all of a sudden the room will change and often times get creepier. Between weird symbols, wooden mannequins, and a few ambient noises, Anna creates a very unique horror game atmosphere (with some pretty good graphics) that’s terrifying to navigate through.

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The introduction level

I wish I could say this game had the potential to give games like Silent Hill or even Amnesia a run for their money but it falls short in a couple of areas. The gameplay is puzzle based and actually reminded of games like 999. The main problem that this game had was the fact that instructions to progress where extremely vague. Throughout the entirety of the game, your character picks up several books that the player would then have to read. Often times reading things like this is optional but in this case they are sometimes essential to try and figure out how to move forward. The worst part about this is that the texts found in the books are not exactly brief. The next part of the gameplay that bothered me had to do with your inventory. Like most puzzle games, you are required to pick up certain tools to solve the puzzles in each room. Early on you are completely swamped with items that have no clear use. Often times throughout, I found myself trying out every single item blindly on random objects hoping to see if they somehow fit together.  To top things off, there were several items that were never used (at least in my play through) and there was even an instance where if I hadn’t done something in the very beginning of the game I would’ve been set back a bit having to go back and forth from one room to another.

The second part of where this game falls short is the story. Keeping up with the plot in the game is extremely confusing, it often seems like there’s 2 or 3 story lines going on at the same time. Even after beating the game, it’s not clear who the main character is or even the history behind the house that you are in. Furthermore, it is never really specified during what time period this is taking place. First guess for anyone would probably be modern day (seeing as how one of the items in your initial inventory is a phone) but what happens in the story would probably point to an earlier time period.

Anna is an interesting game and vastly different from other horror games that I’ve played. The story, after doing some research, is actually quite interesting but extremely convoluted. The solving puzzles is frustratingly (and unnecessarily) hard and the instructions to go forward are almost non existent unless you turn on the help key and even then the clues are a bit cryptic. Anna shines giving an extremely unsettling atmosphere and it genuinely made me want to stop moving forward or going back into certain rooms, something that doesn’t happen too often (or often enough) when I play this type of game. The game itself is actually quite short IF you know what you’re doing. I look forward to seeing what Dreampainters, the developer, has in store for their next game. Hopefully they’ll be able to learn from their mistakes and make an even better game.

TL;DR: Decent horror game with a unique atmosphere. Major drawbacks with gameplay and story might not make it too enjoyable.

Rockit Raccoon Rating: 5/10

Metacritic: 55/100

GameRankings: 49.13%

IGN: 5.5/10

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Hotline Miami (2012)

Hotline-Miami-Vita

Hotline Miami is a game that’s tough to describe in one word. It combines some of the traits from stealth games and marries it to a fast-paced, violent gameplay that is surprisingly fun to play. The game itself is heavily inspired by Drive (2011) and is not ashamed to flaunt it. Nicolas Winding Refn, the director of Drive, even appears in the game’s credits.

The game itself is similar to the original Grand Theft Auto where you controlled the character from a bird’s eye point of view, an angle that’s cleverly used in this title to help plan out your massacre. Your main character throughout the game is a nameless protagonist that uses different types of masks when going in to do his job. Each one of these masks gives the main character abilities such as running faster, finding more guns, and even starting out with a knife. Each level you’re tasked to kill every person in the building. Neon combo indicators, an assortment of weapons, and executions make this one of the most addicting games I have played in a while. Instant level restarts are also another reason why this game was hard to put down. Upon death, the simple press of the button will reset the stage and give you another chance to rush through the level.

The game was not without a good soundtrack. With a mix of Electronic and experimental music, the background music was something that added fuel to the fast paced action of Hotline Miami. Sun Araw, Jasper Byrne, and M.O.O.N. all come together to deliver an incredible soundtrack that fits perfectly into the neo-noir style of Hotline.

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Hotline Miami also has a strange narrative woven throughout. The story is not particularly eye pleasing due to the fact that the whole game is told in a 16-bit format but there’s enough mystery to keep someone paying attention. As the story progresses it becomes more and more confusing. The only advice I would be able to give someone is to just wait until the end when everything is explained properly.

The only other flaw, besides the loose story, that stuck out to me had a little to do with the enemies. I love that both the protagonist and the enemies in this game seemed to follow the same set of rules, one of them being the one hit kills, but there were a lot of times when the gameplay felt more punishing than anything. You would break into the room and kill everyone and all of a sudden you would die because an enemy off screen shoots you from the other side of a glass wall that was beyond your line of sight. I understand that this may be used as a throwback to older 16-bit games but it just felt plain wrong when you were in the middle of a long string of combos and you died because an enemy sniped you from the other side of the map. Certain things like this make Hotline turn into more of a memory game than an organic, adaptive one. I personally do not mind in this case but I’m sure there’s more than one person out there that prefers a more organic mode of play rather than a memorization game.

Hotline Miami is not a perfect game but it’s an extremely addicting one. The adrenaline packed gameplay mixed with a great soundtrack make this game loads of fun to play. Levels are split into sections that are short enough to complete in a few minutes but the gameplay is fun enough to keep you playing for hours. The frustration that this game brings you (due to repeated deaths) makes each level extremely gratifying to beat, a feeling that not all videogames can give. Despite the weak story, the gameplay makes it so that you can go back and try to get bigger combos and high scores.

TL;DR: Extremely fun game. Worth the money if you can spare it, if not you can always wait for a Steam sale.

Rockit Raccoon Rating: 8.5/10

Metacritic: 85/100

Game Informer: 7.75/10

IGN: 8.8/10

GameRankings: 85.36%

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Dredd (2012)

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The reboot of Sylvester Stallone’s infamous Judge Dredd (1995) was actually not as bad as I thought it would have been. This time Judge Dredd is grittier and more intense than its mid-nineties predecessor. For those unfamiliar with the films or the premise of the comic strips its based on, the story takes place in the future where judges are the only form of justice in the futuristic mega cities. These specially trained police force not only have the powers to judge but to also execute sentences how they see fit.

In this particular storyline, Dredd (Karl Urban) is given a rookie (Olivia Thirlby) to take on patrol in order to assess whether she is fit to be a judge or not. Their investigation of a triple homicide leads them to a building that is controlled by a gang led by a woman who is called Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). Upon making an important discovery, Dredd and the rookie become trapped in the building they went to raid and have to get ready to fight off the gang members that are trying to kill them.

The first thing about this movie was that the 3D elements in this movie weren’t as noticeable as they are in other films. Apart from a few stylization elements in order to emphasize drug use in a couple of scenes, there’s nothing too gimmicky. The second thing that stuck out to me was how faithful they remained to the comic strips. Judge Dredd never once removed his mask during the entirety of the movie. Not only was this a nod to the comic, it also served to make Dredd seem more menacing and invincible.

The action in this movie was over the top in some parts but it did not seem completely out of place because of the setting everything takes place in. Ma-Ma, the main villain of the movie was played by a woman which doesn’t happen too often and not only is she evil, she’s also a smart leader with a weakness for violence. In short, one of the more memorable bad guys I have seen in a while. I was a little disappointed that although the director, Pete Travis, had such a good villain, he did not seem to elaborate her character a little more. Despite this, the action in Dredd never gets boring and is actually pretty consistent all the way through so you don’t really get a chance to dwell on the “what if” questions.

Overall, a great sci-fi/action film that runs in the same vein as Robocop. Karl Urban’s portrayal of Judge Dredd was similar to what you would expect of Batman and this isn’t a bad thing. Although the story isn’t too deep, it’s executed smartly enough to keep you at the edge of your seat until the very end. Despite a few minor setbacks, Dredd gives me hope that in this age of reboots there may still be hope for good ones.

TL;DR: Relieved to know that there are some reboots worth watching. Great Sci fi movie.

Rockit Raccoon Rating: 7.9/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%

IMDB: 7/10

Metascore: 59/100

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