2017 in Film: My Favourites and Least Favourites

__It’s that time of year again: the time when I look back on the year that’s passed and pick out the high and low points of its movie output. This is the seventh time I’ve done a year-end pair of lists like this, and I have to say, this was a particularly interesting year for movies. It started off surprisingly strong. January is usually a cinematic dumping ground, but the first 2017 release I saw was Split, which I thoroughly enjoyed. That trend continued for the first few months: I went to the cinema considerably more often than I had early on in previous years, and hardly anything I saw let me down. But that all changed when, later in the year, I started to catch up on what I’d missed; that’s when the real stinkers began to reveal themselves in abundance. The result was a very uneven year in my experience overall: it was marked by an unusually high-quality output at first, then devolved into a crushing sea of misery towards the end.
__If you’re not familiar with the criteria I set myself, I judge a movie’s release date according to its first public release listed on IMDb. So movies that premiered at film festivals in an earlier year but weren’t released to the public until 2017 are still applicable in my book. Another thing to consider is that movies like La La Land and Moonlight were released early in 2017 in my country despite coming out in the US the previous year. That doesn’t count; I feel like including cases like that would be cheating. Keep in mind also that, obviously, I can’t include movies I haven’t seen, because that simply wouldn’t be fair.

__Before we start, I think it’s time to introduce a new category to this year-end recap: the year’s biggest disappointment. This is where I pick the single movie that, while not necessarily bad, fell miserably short of my enthusiastically high expectations. I’m surprised I never thought to do this sooner, especially in the last three years. Continue reading

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First Impressions Review Diary 30-Dec-2017

__Well, the end of the year is almost upon us. I traditionally post my recap of the best and worst movies of the year on New Year’s Eve, and nothing’s changed; I’ll be posting that pair of lists tomorrow. Just time for one more “first impressions” instalment in the meantime. 🙂 Here’s my take on the last handful of movies I saw in 2017.

__Section one: cinema releases.
__The Disaster Artist (2017). When Greg Sestero, an aspiring film actor, meets the weird and mysterious Tommy Wiseau in an acting class, they form a unique friendship and travel to Hollywood to make their dreams come true. It’s definitely a good movie that beautifully details the challenges of the filmmaking process, but it presents Tommy Wiseau as so insane that I was more fascinated by his journey to realise his vision than genuinely rooting for him.
My rating: 80%. Continue reading

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First Impressions Review Diary 9-Dec-2017

__Welcome back. As I said last time, I recently started a new college course, so the coursework is unfortunately keeping me from devoting mental attention to writing side projects like this, whereas this blog was all I had to focus on earlier in the year. So once again, the best I can do is copy and paste my comments from my Twitter feed. But, on the plus side, Twitter’s new 280-character limit has made it easier for my tweets to resemble mini reviews in and of themselves. For the sake of completion, I’ll also throw in a brief plot summary for each one.
__We’ll be covering the usual cinema releases and movies I watch on the side, but I also finally get to talk about Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy game now that the fifth and final episode has been released. 🙂 I’ve decided to make that the only exception to the copy-and-paste trend: I will be talking about that game at length.

__Section one: cinema releases. Continue reading

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First Impressions Review Diary 4-Nov-2017

__Welcome to another collection of my thoughts on every movie I’ve seen within a certain period of time. These posts are irregular, so there’s no telling how long that time might be. In this case, my last “first impressions” post was over two months ago, on August 26th.
__If you’re familiar with these posts, I’m afraid this will be another lacklustre one, too. I recently started a course at the Galway Community College, so I’m more preoccupied with trying to write for the coursework than for these reviews. Plus, I’ve seen so many movies since I last checked in that I have neither the time nor the inclination to elaborate on all of them. So this will be another instance of me just copying and pasting the comments I post on Twitter, with each title being a link to its IMDb page if you’d like to know more.
__If it helps, some of these will be appearing on my list of the best and worst movies of the year, so I’ll be able to go into slightly more detail then.

__As always, our first category is what I’ve seen at the cinema.
__The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017). The leads’ great chemistry and the slightly offbeat tone make this a bloody good time. My rating: 70%.
__American Made (2017). Well written and ever interesting, but its tone and pacing come off a little too light-hearted. My rating: 75%.
__The Drummer and the Keeper (2017). A well told story of an unlikely friendship that benefits both parties. My rating: 80%.
__American Assassin (2017). Its grounded tone and slick characters seem promising at first, then it devolves into clichés. My rating: 65%.
__Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017). Recaptures some of the magic of the first one, but tonally it’s all wrong. My rating: 65%.
__Mother! (2017). I don’t know what the fuck Darren Aronofsky was trying to pull with this, but I want no part of it! My rating: 45%.
__Wind River (2017). Part murder mystery, part character journey, all hard-hitting and backed by exceptional music. My rating: 80%.
__The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017). Not nearly enough wit or character to obscure its derivative nature, resulting in tedium. My rating: 45%.
__The Mountain Between Us (2017). Uninteresting characters make it largely mediocre, but the ending is a further step down. My rating: 55%.
__Blade Runner 2049 (2017). Almost as poignant and cerebral as the first one, but unnecessarily long and slow-paced. My rating: 70%.
__The Snowman (2017). Tries to be a horror/murder mystery, but fails at both, resulting in an insipid snoozefest. My rating: 40%.
__Thor: Ragnarok (2017). A good continuation of Thor’s adventures, but I did not appreciate the comedic approach. My rating: 65%.

__Now, normally I’d divide the movies I rent on DVD and the miscellaneous movies I watch on the side into separate categories. However, since moving to Galway, I no longer have access to anywhere that offers DVD rentals, so I have to find other ways to go about watching those movies. Therefore, every movie I haven’t seen at the cinema will henceforth be grouped into one section.
__John Wick (2014). The action scenes are competently shot, but the tone, story and characters never won me over. My rating: 60%.
__Flatliners (1990). A middling movie: overwritten and overacted dialogue, but some good ideas showcased in the second half. My rating: 50%.
__The Bye Bye Man (2017). Boring characters, boring story, boring attempts at scares – it’s just boring all around. My rating: 35%.
__Going in Style (2017). Just what I expected: an unremarkable crime caper that’s inoffensive enough not to get mad at. My rating: 60%.
__Sleepless (2017). A thriller so overwhelmingly dull that it’s like it’s aware of how derivative it is. My rating: 35%.
__Colossal (2017). A just plain bizarre movie that starts out promising before turning into something entirely different. My rating: 55%.
__A Cure for Wellness (2017). Overlong and frequently derivative, it’s neither scary nor particularly thrilling. My rating: 45%.
__John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017). It bored me to tears; I was even less invested than I was in the first one! My rating: 45%.
__My Name Is Lenny (2017). A rather pedestrian biographical drama with a puzzlingly overacted lead performance. My rating: 55%.
__The Void (2017). After a promising start, it takes a sharp turn into perplexing nonsense halfway through. My rating: 50%.
__Beauty and the Beast (2017). A pathetic, almost note-for-note copy that only reminds me how much better the original was. My rating: 20%.
__T2 Trainspotting (2017). It’s the rare long-delayed sequel that works, because the passage of time is a key driving force. My rating: 80%.
__The Boss Baby (2017). Not a fan of the plot or the animation, but it’s generally harmless and often quite funny. My rating: 50%.
__Free Fire (2017). Consistently holds tension fairly well, but its impact is lessened by all the dreaded shaky cam. My rating: 65%.

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My Top 15 Favourite Video Games (Updated)

__A while ago, I posted a whole slew of top ten lists on this blog, the first of which was my favourite video games. Well, that list has recently gone through quite a few changes, not the least of which is that I’ve expanded it to a top fifteen, so I decided it was worth posting the updated version.
__Just to reiterate, while I did grow up playing games, and still maintain an interest in it today, I’m not what you’d call a gamer. (Actually, my best friend John’s a far more avid gamer than I am, and it’s thanks to him that I came across many of the games on this list in the first place.🙂) But, with that said, I have played several that strike me as real masterpieces. So many, in fact, that I came up with five runners-up that I felt deserved to be highlighted in the list proper instead of briefly commented on at the end, so I decided to expand the list from a top ten to a top fifteen.
__I should point out, by the way, that most of these games aren’t exclusive to the platforms I specify. Most modern-generation games are released for every console, as well as the PC. I’ve played several of these games on multiple platforms; I’m just listing the ones I like best.
__So, without further ado, let’s get started. 🙂 Continue reading

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Top 15 Reasons I Believe the ME3 Indoctrination Theory

__Let’s talk Mass Effect 3 again. 🙂
__Ever since I played through the whole trilogy last May, Mass Effect has pretty much become my obsession as of late. Some of you may recall that I, like so many others, was so displeased and downright outraged by the ending of Mass Effect 3 that I posted a two-thousand-word rant about it on my blog before I reviewed the game itself.
__But I realise now that my intense hatred for the ending was simply because I took it at face value. Yes, at first glance, the ending is a confusing mess littered with plot holes and offensive to everything the Mass Effect series stands for, but a certain fan theory that really caught on has found a deeper meaning in it that understandably went over most of our heads. The Indoctrination Theory is the most popular theory out there that attempts to make sense of the ending, and now it’s gained one more supporter in me, thanks mainly to CleverNoobs’ trilogy of documentaries on the subject. Fans have come up with a whole suite of arguments to back it up, based on hints dropped throughout the game. And I’m here today to list the ones that I believe most strongly.
__Now, I’m sure this goes without saying, but this post will contain heavy spoilers. So if you haven’t played Mass Effect 3 (hell, the whole trilogy) yet, I highly recommend you do so before reading this.
__So, for the rest of my fellow Mass Effect fans, let’s go. 🙂 Continue reading

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First Impressions Review Diary 26-Aug-2017

__Welcome to another batch of mini reviews, consisting of all the movies I’ve seen and all the games I’ve played over the last month or so. 🙂

__Let’s start at the cinema.

It Comes at Night (2017)
It Comes at Night__As an unnatural threat terrorises the world, a family’s social order is tested when another family arrives seeking refuge.
__First of all, the title is a bit of a misnomer: whatever “it” is, it doesn’t come just at night!
__From a writing standpoint, I won’t hesitate to give this movie a firm thumbs-up. I love how these characters approach the situation in an intelligent, resourceful manner; it might actually be the most realistic depiction of a survival situation I’ve seen since Night of the Living Dead.
__Unfortunately, the performance lets it down considerably for me. I’m not a fan of thrillers that adopt an unnaturally hushed, reserved tone; I prefer when they’re a bit more energised and, you know, thrilling.
__So it’s definitely a good movie, but too slow-paced and understated for my taste.
__My rating: 70%. Continue reading

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