The Croods (2013) – 7/10 CG animated adventure movie

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Cast / crew
Actor, Director and Writer Belt: Chris Sanders
Director and Writer: Kirk De Micco
Nicolas Cage: Grug
Emma Stone: Eep
Ryan Reynolds: Guy

The Croods (2013)

Grug Crood’s world is about to come crashing down around him. His teenage daughter, Eep, is gaining her independence and questioning some of his rules against new things and curiosity. On top of that, the world is about to come crashing down around him. Literally.

7/10

Chris Sanders, with this and How to Train Your Dragon (he also did Lilo & Stitch for Disney which had promise and style but big tonal problems), has moved himself into the list of directors it is certainly worth paying attention to. There are a good number of very funny moments and a generally nice tone. Nicolas Cage provides another great piece of voice work (after Astro Boy). But the title! The title is just awful. I don’t want to see a crude film on the big screen, especially not one marketed at children. This is absolutely not crude at all. (Surprising, given that it is a Dreamworks Animation project.) That said, it’s certainly not without plot or character problems. It promotes rebelliousness and disrespect for your father and the idea that they are less wise and insightful than their children; a bafflingly common Hollywood theme. You can become an independent adult without arguing and fighting and being impertinent and disrespectful but you never get that message from Hollywood. And the parting message seems to be "Follow the sun" which, I shouldn’t have to say, is remarkably nonsensical advice. Anyway, while The Croods is blighted by typical Hollywood morals and a dreadful title, it’s easy to look past that and see a fun, funny, warm-hearted film.

This movie contains comic violence

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Gran Turismo: The Real Driving Simulator 6 (2013, PS3 exclusive) – 9/10 driving game review

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Cast / crew
Director and Producer: Kazunori Yamauchi

Gran Turismo: The Real Driving Simulator 6 aka GT6 (2013)

9/10

Whether coaxing an unwanted Prius into 1st, manhandling a Stratos, marveling at the grip on a Mazda Roadster Touring Car or experiencing cornering speeds that seem beyond human comprehension in the Red Bull X-Series, GT6‘s driving experience is sublime. Every car is a joy to drive and this trumps every shortcoming the game has. On easier difficulties the AI let you win by ostentatiously slowing down (though I’m they removed this from Seasonal Events), the sound is highly variable, the track editor still doesn’t exist eight months after release, none of the career races feature standing starts or qualifying or racing exactly, the ultimate endurance races have been cut short by about 23 1/2 hours and they shouldn’t have wasted processing power on the worthless damage modelling. On the plus side, the graphics are astonishing for PS3, the lighting is wonderfully improved over GT5, the dynamic weather and time of the day is exemplary, the photo mode is as engrossing as ever, the track list is unmatched in quality with a superlative selection of original tracks backing up the old real-life stalwarts (Grid: Autosport is close), the car list is unmatched in quantity, hundreds of the car models are unmatched in quality and the (Dualshock) driving experience is totally unmatched: exquisite, an unending treat, a masterclass in response and communication.

Classified 3+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 3 or over.

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Basil: The Great Mouse Detective (1986) – 5/10 Disney animated crime detective movie review

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Cast / crew
Vincent Price: Professor Ratigan
Barrie Ingham: Basil
Val Bettin: Dawson
Susanne Pollatschek: Olivia
Candy Candido: Fidget
Diana Chesney: Mrs. Judson
Eve Brenner: The Mouse Queen
Alan Young: Flaversham
Music: Henry Mancini
Director, Producer and Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Burny Mattinson
Director and Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: John Musker
Director and Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: David Michener
Director and Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Ron Clements
Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Pete Young
Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Vance Gerry
Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Steve Hulett
Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Bruce M. Morris
Character Animator and Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Matthew O’Callaghan
Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Melvin Shaw
Original Book Series Writer Basil of Baker Street: Eve Titus
Original Book Series Writer Basil of Baker Street: Paul Galdone
Supervising Animator: Mark Henn
Supervising Animator: Glen Keane
Supervising Animator: Rob Minkoff
Supervising Animator: Hendel Butoy
Animation Consultant: Eric Larson

Basil: The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

Basil takes on the case of Olivia Flaversham whose toymaker father has been kidnapped by archenemy Ratigan.

5/10

Minor Disney animation which makes up for some slow moving and uninteresting segments with a decent climax inside Big Ben and a couple of good songs ("Let Me Be Good to You" and "Goodbye, So Soon"). It’s also probably the only animated Disney movie where the hero smokes and a character offers to take off all her clothes for you. The Big Ben sequence also boasts Disney’s first blending of CGI with character animation; Ratigan’s run through the gears of Big Ben’s clock mechanisms remains superb to this day. Apart from this final section, though, the animation is merely adequate. Disney animations are generally famed for their smoothness, fluidity and convincing weight and movement. It certainly looks like corners were cut in the frame rate, especially with the Queen automaton.

This movie contains violence

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Grid 2 (2013, Steam on Windows PC) – 7/10 racing game review

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Cast / crew
Chief Game Designer: James Nicholls
Lead Programmer: Gary Buckley
Producer: Iain Strachan Smith
Producer: Toby Evan-Jones
Design Manager: Matthew Horsman

Grid 2 (2013)

A new racing series, World Series Racing or WSR, is looking to make it’s mark on the international stage and needs a driver to start making headlines with his preternatural skill and achievement. Your time has come.

7/10

There is a problem with all the cars feeling like they go at the same speed (a billion miles an hour) and there is not much differentiation in handling between cars meaning you don’t really develop an understanding with particular cars. On top of this potentially-bland driving experience, most of the non-driving aspects of Grid‘s single player game have been moved to the multiplayer or sidelined; I feel that this loses the extra interest, atmosphere, identity and personality of the Race Driver series and it isn’t restored using a flashy video with your name on it here and there. Fortunately, the driving experience just escapes blandness by making every car on the knife-edge of control and the racing experience is never less than completely thrilling. That’s not to say that it’s always fun or ever convincing. The handling is unpredictable, always, and as soon as you start getting into the faster cars it is a largely miserable if still heart-pumping experience. The game looks fantastic with a nice range of infuriatingly forgettable and interchangeable locations (Chicago, Miami, Barcelona and Paris, specifically; the real tracks are fine). There are plenty of race types (including a great overtake challenge mode) and there is a mammoth career mode to go through as well as a satisfying online mode.

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Infamous: Second Son (2014, PS4 exclusive) – 6/10 open-world superhero fantasy action game review

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Cast / crew

Infamous: Second Son (2014)

Seven years after the death of Cole McGrath, the problem of conduits didn’t go away but, thanks to the D.U.P. finding and imprisoning all the new conduits (now labeled bio-terrorists), things seem to be under control. One day during a D.U.P. prisoner transfer, three bio-terrorists escape and one of them comes into touch with Delsin Rowe. Literally. Rowe responds by absorbing some of the conduit’s smoke powers and heroically passing out.

6/10

How important is atmosphere? Ask Infamous: Second Son which, without it, is just a shopping list with game systems that feel well-designed but just aren’t engrossing, a muted echo of a city that doesn’t feel big enough, and a meaningless morality system that is embarrassingly unconvincing. The combat is only moderately engaging. There’s effort to keep you on your toes but it fails to be fun by being more disorienting than anything. Infamous: Second Son never asks the player to do anything; you just follow the markers on your map and your stupid moral choices are stupid and transparently meaningless and change only the game’s coda. So, without best-in-class combat, you have nothing to engage your brain. On the plus side, the Good run-through cut-scenes with your brother are excellent; fun, convincing and snappy with neither party doing anything particularly unbelievable. (On an Evil run-through they’re the same and, so, shockingly unbelievable; don’t play this on Evil.) The Good coda is quite touching. Second Son‘s major calling card is, however, the graphics. They are fantastically crisp and intricate with the effects work on Delsin’s powers routinely wonderful. Pulling the neon out of a sign is gorgeous and you never tire of seeing it.

This game contains strong fantasy violence, unpleasant scenes, adult dialogue, sensuality, bad language

Classified 18+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for adults who have reached the age of 18 or over..