The Elder Blog: Tomb Raider (2013)

I honestly forgot about this blog series of mine. There’s been several games I’ve played between Assassin’s Creed and now (such as LEGO: Jurassic World and Just Dance 2015), and I’d have loved posting about those. Maybe some other time.

Anyway, I’d never been a huge fan of the Tomb Raider series. I’d of course played a couple of the games over the years, but they were largely forgettable for me. I don’t even remember which titles I played. Anniversary maybe? Point is,  was largely bored by it. So two years ago when I heard about the reboot, I rolled my eyes and asked why they even bothered anymore. I thought Lara Croft was a lost cause, because people only liked her for one reason, and it wasn’t her story or gameplay, which is a horrible reason to make games.

Earlier this year, a friend let me borrow Uncharted 3. It was a life changing experience. Maybe I’ll do a post on that one someday, but it was the most intense, cinematic game I’d ever played. So when I was looking at the Gamefly page for Tome Raider, and several reviews compared it to Uncharted, I immediately added it to my Q. I wanted to at least try it.

Within the first TWENTY SECONDS the intensity of the game made me realize that this wasn’t going to be a forgettable game. In the first ten minutes of the game, Lara goes from being on a ship, peacefully, to falling and being impaled on a bar (in her side), being washed onshore and immediately knocked out, waking up hanging upside down and having to free herself. The rest of the opening level has her clutching her still-bleeding side, covered in blood and dirt. The end of the opening level has her standing on a cliff overlooking the island as the title appears (like the beginning of Arkham Asylum, when Batman overlooks the asylum as the title appears).

That’s just the first ten minutes. I remembered from the old games that hardly anything bad ever happened to her. Now here the first thing that happens to her is she gets impaled and bleeds. I told a friend I love what they did to her character and she gasped, to which I said, “…storywise, not the torture”.

I really do love what they did to her character. She’s now a real person. When she makes her first kill, she freaks out because she’d never killed anyone before.

The game has been compared to Uncharted, as I said earlier, and that includes the fact that Lara should have been dead long before you have the ability to control her. She goes through so many things that would kill a normal person (being thrown against a wall from an explosion, explosions engulfing her while she runs…these were during cutscenes, not gameplay). But I guess that’s part of the fun of video games. If it was totally realistic, no one would play it, because then it’d be boring.

Not to mention the continual upgrades to the weapons keeps the gameplay interesting. I always favour archery in gaming, and this is no exception. I was shooting at enemies with my rifle and it was going everywhere, not hitting anything. Then I switched to my bow and got headshot after headshot. So fun.

If you haven’t played this game yet, I highly recommend it. I give it 8/10.

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Can A Remake Be Better Than The Original?

I have been thinking about posting this ever since I did my review of Carrie last Halloween, when I compared the original with the remake and determined that the remake was superior to the original. I had several people upset about that, saying that remakes can never top the original, just on principle alone. I got to thinking about that, and thought it was a little funny to automatically dismiss a movie just because it’s a remake.

Let’s look at the example I’ve been giving for weeks now, as I’ve been preparing to write this. John Carpenter’s The Thing. This film is considered one of the greatest sci-fi horror films ever made, and for good reason. Even though it was made in 1982, the effects still hold up today and can still terrify. In 2011, another film was made also called The Thing, and every review of it I’ve read slammed it for being a remake of a classic. I doubt those people actually saw it, because it was clearly a prequel. But anyway, my point is… The “original” is actually a remake of a 1951 sci-fi horror film called The Thing From Another World.

So this means that a remake has be considered better than the original for over thirty years now. Most people don’t even know of the 1951 original, but the fact remains that The Thing is a remake that people love.

What about my review of Carrie that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, and which lead me to write this? Is it possible that the remake could be better than the original? I had a discussion about this with a movie buff fan the other day, someone who always has an open-mind, and got her to realize that story and character-wise, Carrie (2013) is far superior to the original.

Speaking of horror remakes, let’s talk about Halloween. On Halloween 2013, I sat down and watched every film in the series (except Halloween III, because it shouldn’t even count as one). From Halloween to Halloween: Resurrection, then Halloween and Halloween II. I’d heard so many negative things about the reboot movies that I nearly just stopped at Resurrection. But I’m glad I watched them, because it’s a fresh take on an old story. We know the story of Michael Myers. The reboot gave us a different look at his character. Not only that, they got Danielle Harris,  the little girl who played Jamie in Halloween 4 and 5, to play the lead in both, as a new character. It was brilliant, and an excellent easter egg for those paying attention (and as I had just watched all eight previous movies, I caught it right away). I actually might do a Casabloga over the reboot movies now that I think about it, because I love what they did with them. Michael isn’t some supernatural monster, he’s a human. He only wears his mask when he’s about to kill, and yet you still rarely see his face.

I should get off that movie before I go ahead and review it here.

Let’s change direction slightly. A remake doesn’t have to be better, but can it at least be good? My first thought is the Total Recall remake. On the surface it’s a good movie. Most people hated it because it’s a small-scale version of the original. The 1990 original has Schwarzenegger saving a whole planet. The 2012 remake has Colin Farrell saving a city. Much less at stake, and in the end all that happens is the bad guy is defeated. In the original, Mars has new life as it’s given breathable air. Much more satisfying ending. But does this make the remake bad? I don’t think so, because I still found it enjoyable. Even saw it in theater.

Part of the problem, I think, is comparing. Sure, the Psycho remake totally sucks, but we can’t help comparing it to the original. Especially since it’s meant to be a shot-for-shot remake. At least the director admitted it was just an experiment and that it failed. But it’s still a bad remake. Is it possible to remake Psycho and it be good? I’m sure that it is, but we’ve yet to see it happen. Who knows, maybe after they complete the series Bates Motel we’ll get a modern-day Psycho remake made in that version of the franchise. Based on how good that series is, I’d definitely love to see that.

So what about you? Are there any remakes you think outdo the original?

Casabloga: It Follows

As I said in my review of The Ring, I don’t really like modern horror movies very often. Mostly because they try too hard to be scary, and there’s no subtlety anymore. Films like Alien and Psycho are so scary because of subtlety. If the Xenomorph was out in the open throughout the entire duration of Alien, it wouldn’t have been scary. If we knew about Norman Bates’ history at the beginning of Psycho, it wouldn’t have been as scary (it’d still be scary, just not as much so).

Nowadays, movies have to rely on shock and jump scares to get a reaction. A loud bump followed by screaming in Paranormal Activity might scare you for a second, but once the moment is gone you’ll be laughing at yourself when the camera shows Katie was screaming at a spider. You’ll forget about it moments later, and it won’t really effect you.

Then you also have CGI filled messes, like [fill in the blank with literally any horror film of the past ten years]. The effects are never good, and they end up being laughable instead of scary. I’d say my friend and I laughed all the way through Freddy VS Jason, but at this point I’m pretty sure those are deliberately trying to be campy.

So when I heard everyone going on and on about this new horror film called It Follows I just had to see, I rolled my eyes and said, “Pass!”. It wasn’t until a friend (the one who laughed with me as we watched the aforementioned Freddy VS Jason all those years ago, and who groups the horror genre in with the comedy genre) told me that the film used practical effects, and was “totally creepy!” that I started paying attention. I had to make sure he wasn’t being sarcastic, because he said it over Facebook and you can’t usually tell when someone is being sarcastic in text.

So I added it to my Gamefly Q, because I use my Gamefly account to rent movies for some reason. I was very eager to watch this movie, but I had no intention of doing a Casabloga over it. As soon as the credits started rolling, I asked Cortana to show me It Follows logo, so I could use it here. She…uh…

Cortana

…could use a little improving, Microsoft. I ended up just getting a screenshot of the one in the movie.

I really don’t want to spoil anything about this movie. I had nothing to go on except the trailer, and everyone saying how creepy it was. I recommend going in knowing as little as possible. But I just have to praise this movie so much!

But for the sake of not giving too much away, I’ll just focus on one thing. In the very first shot, I got the feeling of the original Halloween. Maybe that was just me, but I rarely see real neighborhoods in films. Not a backlot or massive set (Wisteria Lane) or anything, but an actual, people-actual-live-here neighborhood. I went in knowing it used practical effects, and the first shot just felt like the most real thing I’ve seen in a movie in longer than I can remember.

And that’s just the first shot.