Tag Archive: previews


It’s better down where it’s wetter

At Gamescom, I was able to get my first hands-on with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag‘s single-player campaign. Instead of getting the typical scripted story mission, however, Ubisoft threw me into the middle of the Caribbean Sea for 30 minutes and simply said, “Have fun!” The only limitations? I couldn’t go into Nassau and Kingston yet if I wanted to dock at a major city. Only Havana was available, as well as many of the lesser islands. Of course, the odds of me getting even close to Havana were slim to none, because there was so much to do on the way.

I began the demo on the deck of the Jackdaw, protagonist Edward Kenway’s personal vessel. Eager to try out the revamped sailing mechanics, I immediately took aim at a Spanish convoy protected by some smaller gunships. Looking through my spyglass with a simple tap of a trigger button, I could tell what the convoy was carrying and opened my sails up full, charging rather brashly into battle. While it took me a little time to orient myself to the new aiming mechanics and variety of buckshot, I was fortunate that the bow of the Jackdaw was already heavily fortified, since I plowed headfirst into the aft of one of the gunships. From here, I rained cannon fire on my enemies, easily taking aim with the swivel guns to remove the smaller threats to my crew and using flaming buckshot to quickly wear down my prize’s health.

After dispatching the smaller ships and breaking the main mast of my target, I began the boarding process with a simple button press. From there, my crew let fly grappling hooks that brought our two ships closer together. Once within range, I jumped onto a swivel gun and let some smaller cannon fire whittle down the crew of the opposing ship. Then I jumped across myself and threw another man overboard while stabbing two others in the face with my hidden blade. The ship and its bootywas ours.

Ah, but since it’s a pirate’s life for me, here was the big question: What to do with the ship? Since I’d crashed as soon as the battle began, I chose to repair the Jackdaw and was rewarded with a short scene of my crew carving up the enemy ship and bringing lumber and other supplies onboard my own vessel. I then sailed away from the empty husk and took aim for shark-infested waters.

Here, I decided to do some hunting. From a rowboat, I threw a harpoon tied to a rope at the head of a bull shark. It didn’t take too kindly to that and rampaged in the water—pulling me and my crew deeper into the sea. After several more harpoons, however, I had some fresh shark meat and skin that could surely be sold onshore for some coin.

Then came my most enjoyable part of the demo, when I took the diving bell down into the sunken hull of a ship as I looked for treasure. This segment intrigued me, because it felt so foreign to Assassin’s Creed. Normally, we’re always adding more armor and weapons to our heroor our shipbecoming more and more empowered. Here, Edward strips himself of everything in order to more easily sink with the bell to the bottom of the sea. This leaves him unusually vulnerable to the sea urchins, moray eels, and the variety of sharks that roam the area.

Defenseless, I felt somewhat panicked as I swam as fast I could through the rotted ship’s carcass. My goal? Seven different treasures and two Animus pieces. While no one would tell me what the Animus pieces could do, the ship wasn’t considered picked clean until I gathered them up. I barely escaped with my life as several sharks took chunks out of meI had to punch one in the nose after he clamped onto my leg, which left a trail of blood that began to attract several of the original shark’s friends.

Next, I docked at a small island and took on an assassination contract. Luckily, the target was nearby. I stealthily began to approach my targetmaking sure to tag him with eagle vision—and took out two nearby guards. Unfortunately, I wasn’t stealthy enough and spooked the target, who then proceeded to run to his nearby ship. I took a couple of shots at him with my pistols, but I missedbadlyand had to chase after him in the Jackdaw. After sinking his ship, I collected my bounty and began my seemingly endless quest toward Havana once more.

Unfortunately, my demo time ended here. The session flew by, though, and while I only saw a small portion of everything going on in the world, I felt like I’d done so much. Depending on how you look at it, Assassin’s Creed IV could be a completionist’s nightmareor a dream come true. After pulling up the map and zooming out, I discovered that I’d only covered a very small patch and hadn’t even attempted a single story mission, meaning that Black Flag is easily shaping up to be the largest, most immersive game in the series yet.

Being that it is Thanksgiving weekend, ADMIT ONE is coming out a little early this week in anticipation for this week’s movies. Last week, no surprise came with Breaking Dawn running away with the box office with a staggering $138 million opening weekened. I doubt it’ll have much competition in the near future, but as we start to see a bevy of family films centered around the holidays coming out, I doubt it will have as long a run at number one as it could have had it came out during a quieter time of year.

1) Arthur Christmas – When one child is forgotten on Christmas Eve, it is up to Santa’s youngest son to remind everyone what the spirit is all about and use his dad’s high-tech operation to save the day.

This movie actually has a lot of potential as a holiday animated classic as it looks to bring some classic holiday cheer with a little 21st century know how. The animation looks spectacular and when you cap that off with an all-star cast of British actors like Bill Nighy, James MacAvoy, and Hugh Laurie, this movie has a chance to be enjoyed by kids of all ages. Unfortunately, it has some very stiff competition this weekend and I don’t see it doing better than barely cracking the Top 5, but being the holiday season, it might have a bit more longevity than some other movies coming out and could stay there right up until the New Year.

2) Hugo – Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan must figure out clues left behind by his late father involving the train station in resides in an automaton.

This movie came about for the simple reason that Martin Scorsese was asked by his wife to make a movie his daughter could finally go see in theatres. Combine this with his urge to do a tribute of sorts to Georges Meiles, the French cinematographer of the early 20th century who is considered the patron saint basically of movie special effects, and you look to have what could be the visual spectacular of the holiday season. The meaning behind the film will be lost by most patrons though and all in all seems like a solid kids movie, but I wonder if Scorsese’s tendency for nuance and sub plot will creep up into this film and lose much of its intended audience. Either way, the effects look spectacular and when you have Sir Ben Kingsley spearheading your cast, how wrong can you really go?

3) The Muppets – When the infamous Muppet Show theatre is scheduled to be demolished, the old gang rallies together to put on the wackiest telethon ever devised in hopes of purchasing the theatre and saving it from the bulldozer’s path.

I think this will take the number two spot hands down as this is a movie both adults and children will want to see. Our own Paul Semel gave it a glowing review and it only solidifies my viewpoint that this movie is the first in a long time that the entire family can enjoy. Some jokes may go over the kids’ heads, but that has always been the Muppets way, non-threatening infantile humor for the children with some more intelligent humor for the adults that doesn’t offend anyone. I personally cannot wait to see this and highly recommended this as your Thanksgiving weekend pick of all the new movies coming out. Thank you Jason Segel for bringing the Muppets back.

No surprise to see that Immortals was the one to take down Puss in Boots as the number one movie as it grossed $32 million, but I was surprised to see it slip to third and that Adam Sandler’s latest comedy, Jack and Jill just squeezed on by into the number two spot with a strong $25 million opening weekend. I guess guys in drag is still funny to most people. Of course, this is all going to change this coming weekend.

1) Twilight: Breaking Dawn: Part 1 – A vampire knocks up a human chick and ticks off a bunch of wussie werewolves.

For the same reason that comic book movies do so well during their run, so do these teenie bopper suck fests (pun intended). Because their target audience is so enamored with the characters, that they’ll see the movie multiple times. Every girl between 13 and 30 this weekend will likely see this movie a half dozen times and think it’s the greatest thing ever. I would rather shoot myself in the face. But no matter what my silent protest would do, this movie will still claim the number one spot with ease. I’m sorry, I was raised to be afraid of vampires and werewolves.

 

2) Happy Feet Two – The dancing penguins from the first movie return and look to help a little penguin find his groove while also protecting their frozen home from a new threat.

Being a kid’s movie, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was able to steal the number two spot because another key movie audience, little kids and dragged along parents, will see this over the teen angst vampire garbage above. An all-star voice cast featuring Elijah Wood and Robin Williams highlights a movie that fans of the first will likely enjoy just as much. Don’t expect me dancing my way out of the theatre though. Although I’d still see this sooner than Twilight.

 

Puss in Boots continues to look strong after posting another $33 million last weekend after its $34 million opening weekend to claim the number one spot once again. Tower Heist and A Very Harold and Kumor 3D Christmas debuted strongly though last week with Tower Heist raking in $24 million for the number two spot and Harold and Kumar coming in third at just under $13 million. Don’t expect this top three to remain the same though as some strong contenders are coming out this weekend.

1) J. Edgar – A historical epic about one of the most powerful men of the 20th century. J. Edgar Hoover was the first head of the FBI and served there for almost 50 years, but kept possibly his own secrets better than anything the U.S. government ever wanted hidden.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as the titular J. Edgar Hoover as we see this movie cover much of the man’s adult life from when the FBI is first formed to his final hours. DiCaprio has shown often enough before that he is definitely the man for the job if you want someone playing a historically polarizing or iconic character. His acting chops combined with Clint Eastwood’s own stellar track record for directing movies of this gritty ilk make for a powerhouse combination that should easily earn your bucks this weekend if you’re looking for some drama. Of course, this also had a limited opening two days ago, so you might have already been lucky enough to see this if you live in or near a large city, but for the rest of us, the time to see this is now!

2) Immortals – Revolving around the story of Theseus, one of Greek Mythology’s greatest heroes and the fictional found of Athens, Immortals tells the tale of how he was chosen by Zeus to quell the threat of the evil King Hyperion, better known as the Titan of Light, who is determined to find a mythical doomsday weapon in order to wipe out humanity and free his enslaved Titan brethren.

Greek mythology is always hit or miss when translated to the movies, but Immortals looks to have learned from the mistakes of the Sam Worthington Clash of the Titans remake and is focusing in on the bare bones of this classic story with the conflict between man, the gods, and the Titans, and letting Henry Cavill, who plays Theseus, and Mickey Rourke, who plays Hyperion, to just do their thing on camera. Expect a lot of great special effects and 300-like action as this fantasy action/drama could surprise a lot of people if the geek audience comes out and supports it.

3) Jack and Jill – Jack Sadelstein prepares for the one event a year he dreads more than anything: seeing his overbearing twin sister, Jill, for the holidays. When she refuses to leave though, things go from bad to worse as Jack tries to devise ways to make her want to leave.

I want this movie to be good. I remember how much I used to look forward to Adam Sandler movies coming out in the theater. Unfortunately, this looks like much of what we’ve seen from the SNL alum in recent years. An already tried and tested formula comedy that has been beaten to death so that when Sandler sinks his teeth into it, we’re tired of it even before he’s done promoting the damn thing. And having him dress up in drag only makes it worse. Although many of Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions regulars are sure to be in the film, you also have cameos from some of Hollywood’s elite and seeing guys like Al Pacino in very unusual roles for them could offer some shock value humor, but otherwise I don’t see this movie being anything special for Sandler and company.

No surprise to see Real Steel to come out on top for a second week in a row last week especially against a pair of remakes, but it was a little disappointing to see The Big Year debut in 9th place. But as I forewarned, it just seemed too smart of the average moviegoer. With another trifecta of movies coming out this week, it should be interesting to see if Real Steel can hold off another remake and another seasonal horror movie. Here is this week’s movie previews.

1) The Three Musketeers

The evil Cardinal Richelieu has disbanded the legendary French fighting force known as the Musketeers as part of an evil assassination plot to further strain relations between France and England. Three heroes though know that they don’t have wear a crest to still be Musketeers.

Alexandre Dumas’s classic action/adventure tale is probably one of the most remade movies in Hollywood. I can think of four versions in my lifetime alone, but this looks to be one of the worst. Although a star-studded cast, including Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz as the dastardly Cardinal, is featured in this film, it seems to have gone too over-the-top with the classic story featuring insane technology for the time instead of any real swashbuckling and has almost a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen feel, which is something you don’t want in The Three Musketeers. Steer clear of this.

2) Paranormal Activity 3

Set in 1988, a pair of sisters are able to see and speak with an invisible entity with a malicious nature after their family moves into a new home.

Likely to do the best this weekend just because it is another cheap to make horror movie and Halloween is fast approaching, Paranormal Activity 3 looks to be the exact same movie as the previous two. So if you enjoy being startled by things that go bump in the night, there are just enough surprises and solid special effects in this to probably keep you satisfied and to encourage the makers of this franchise to keep churning these out on a yearly basis for next to nothing. If you’re not afraid of ghosts though, then clearly this movie isn’t for you.

3) Johnny English Reborn

The international bumbling super spy Johnny English returns to action in order to foil an assassination plot against the Chinese premier.

The least likely to do well this weekend I believe, at least here in the States, this movie all comes down to if you like Rowan Atkinson’s brand of movie humor. Lots of physical humor and awkward, zany situations will be seen throughout this Atkinson produced British comedy. If you like any of Atkinson’s previous work like Black Adder or Mr. Bean, the original Johnny English, or spy spoof movies like Austin Powers to begin with, you’ll probably get your laughs from this one as well and won’t be disappointed. Especially if you like sitting in a mostly empty theatre.

The Lion Kind 3D slipped from the top spot last weekend only to see another kids movie, Dolphin Tale, take number one while Moneyball continues to wait its turn in the number two hole. Courageous and 50/50 also had very strong showings to round out the top 5. This weekend should be interesting though as only two big movies are coming out and so we only have two previews for you (there was no way in hell I was going to preview Human Centipede 2). Can they shake-up the Top 5 or will all the hype and publicity both these new movies have been getting be all for naught?

1) Real Steel (Buena Vista)

Ten years into the future, the sport of boxing has died and in its place has arisen robot boxing, which allows 10-foot tall metal titans to pummel each other in ways humans never could. One of these former human boxers, not knowing anything but the fight game, finds that he is not nearly as good with a control pad as when he was the one actually in the squared circle. But with a little faith from his son and a bunch of spare parts, this down-on-his-luck scrapper looks to make one last run at glory.

When I first heard of this movie, I admit that I groaned. Loudly. But the more I think about it, the more I admit it has an appeal there that might make it an actual decent movie. Or at the very least, when you describe something as Rock’em Sock’em Robots crossed with Transformers and Rocky, you have something that will interest a good amount of the viewing audience for at least its opening weekend. Starring Hugh Jackman as the down-on-his-luck boxer, this movie has a lot of entertainment potential as long as it doesn’t take itself too seriously in the end. And blows up a lot of robots.

2) The Ides of March (Sony/Columbia)

An idealistic PR man for a new presidential campaign starts to get a taste of the seedy underbelly that is the American political landscape as he and his candidate get closer and closer to election day.

With as much turmoil and debate that surrounds the American political process now, this movie, which looks to poke holes in the process and shed a little light on the flaws of our government, might make a bigger splash that we would initially think and has Oscar nods written all over it. With a star-studded cast including George Clooney as the suave new political candidate and who also co-wrote the screenplay and is directing the movie, this drama could be a sleeper to keep an eye on at the box office and could catapult Ryan Gosling into the Hollywood elite depending on his performance. Throw in dramatic powerhouses Paul Giamatti, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, and Jeffrey Wright and this movie has winner written all over it in my book.

Amazingly, The Lion Kind 3D has taken the top weekend spot two weeks in a row and last week’s strong favorite, Moneyball, has had to be satisfied with a backseat position. Could this weekend’s newcomers hope to make a dent in the standings and overcome the re-released animated favorite and this instant baseball classic?

1) 50/50 (Summit Entertainment)

Loosely based on the true-story of a 27-year-old diagnosed with cancer and how he coped and overcame his disease with the help and hijinx of his family.

Normally a very dramatic subject, this light-hearted uplifting take on perseverance looks to see Seth Rogan and Joseph Gordon-Levitt play off each other like a classic comedy duo with Levitt as your typical straight man and Rogan as the bumbling buffoon with a heart of gold. Quick witted one liners wrapped in this heart-warming tale of family and friends coming to the support of a kid facing his final curtain should be a strong contender for your box office bucks this weekend if you’re looking for a laugh or something more light-hearted to see with your significant other. It also is good to see that Rogan might actually be funny in something for the first time in a couple of years.

2) Courageous (TriStar)

Four police officers give their all for their jobs and protect the streets as best they can. But when tragedy hits close to home and they realize that they may be giving a bit too much to their professional careers, their faith in themselves and each other will be tested.

Although the standard cop drama is not my cup of tea, this one looks to be well made with a lot of lesser known actors to help pull off the gritty real-life feel the movie goes for. Of course, it’s pro-Gospel message could give it a strong appeal in certain regions of the country and turn off large parts of others, but it is easily the least likely to do much at the box office this weekend because of it’s limited release in less than 1200 theatres (most blockbusters are released in 3200-3600 theaters). This sleeper drama could be a good change of pace from your standard action/drama flick, but if you’re against heavy religious overtones, then you’ll likely want to steer clear of this one altogether.

3) Dream House (Universal)

Soon after moving into what they thought would be their dream house, a couple and their kids learn of horrific murders that took place within the walls of their home and that the former residents might not have left when that happened.

Just another in a long line of films with a super-natural evil lurking in the residence, Dream House has mediocre (at best) written all over it. Even with real life married couple and acting powerhouses Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz starring, you have to ask yourself if the only reason they took these roles was so they could work together on a project shortly after their nuptials. There are plenty of better horror movies still out in the theaters or coming out in the coming weeks, so if you’re looking for a scare, you can find something better than this one for sure.

4) What’s Your Number? (Fox)

A woman looks back on her past 20 relationships and wonders if one of them could have been “the one” and if she let him get away.

I look at this and I ask myself, why? Why is Captain America (Chris Evans) doing this movie? Why do horrible rom-coms like this ever get green lit? Why must I bother even looking at this on my list of new releases? WHY? This movie looks beyond generic and has ‘awful’ written all over it. If you have a girlfriend who wants to see this movie, do whatever you can for her to avoid it. Cook her breakfast in bed, give her a foot massage, do whatever you can to escape probably the worst one hour and 46 minutes of your movie going life. Or maybe go rent some more bearable rom-com to appease her, but if you willingly accept going to th

Much like last week, it looks like we have a pair of strong possibilities to come out ahead in terms of being worth your viewing pleasure and we also have a pair of stinkers. So grab your popcorn and a soda, kick back, relax, and check out my movie previews for this upcoming weekend!

1) Moneyball (Sony/Columbia)

Based on the true story of the late 1990s-early 2000s Oakland Athletics, Moneyball follows how General Manager Billy Beane was able to turn one of the cheapest organizations in baseball into a winner for several years while teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers were trying to buy championships.

Living in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area for the past 25 years, I was always aware of how my Yankees were considered the “evil empire” and how everyone rooted for this perennial underdog Oakland team. And they did push us and others to the brink a few times. But always came up short in the end. Still, Billy Beane changed baseball for a time and it was a great story to see these rag tag misfit players come away with AL Western Division Championships. If you’re a fan of baseball and are older than the age of 15, you’ll probably really appreciate this story and to me this is the must see movie of the weekend.

2) Abduction (Lionsgate)

Triggered by seeing his face on a missing persons’ website, a young man will uncover a giant conspiracy on his quest to find out the truth about himself and where he comes from.

This movie seems completely unbelievable and this is coming from a guy that worships Star Wars and Batman. You expect me to believe that this kid from Pittsburgh goes from being a mild mannered nobody to a super-spy in an instant after his home gets invaded? No radioactive bugs, cosmic rays, or being from another planet? And what was with that scene with him at the Pirates game running around a crowded PNC Park? Going back to our first movie, anyone who knows baseball knows that there hasn’t been that many people at a Pirates game in 20 years. It’s really a shame that tremendous supporting cast with Alfred Molina and Sigourney Weaver will be wasted, but I still can’t believe they’re casting the werewolf kid in other movies now. Are they banking on his teen fan-base following him into other franchises? All in all, Abduction has flop written all over it.

3) Dolphin Tale (Warner Bros.)

Based on the true story of a boy who helps develop a prosthetic tale for an injured dolphin after it was caught in a fishing trap.

Would it be insensitive to say I’m eating a tuna sandwich right now? Anyway, this might appeal to a very young audience as it has Free Willy written all over it and I loved that movie when I was seven. Now, not so much. What kills me the most is this is “based on a true story”. I would love to get the dolphin’s point of view on this whole thing. Seeing it show up to the movie premiere and flop down the red carpet in a nice suit and tie. But you can’t. Because it’s an animal. And at the end of the day, animal stories hold no real value for me in terms of entertainment. This is a 200-word article buried a dozen pages back in the NY Times, not a feature film. I think it’ll do alright this weekend because little kids will eat it up, but I don’t see this as being anything more that a solid kid empowerment movie and so I’m personally steering clear.

4) Killer Elite (Open Road Films)

After his mentor is taken hostage, a retired member of Britain’s Elite Special Air Service will do everything in his power to get him back, including taking down an entire top-of-the-line hit squad, and get to the bottom of the kidnapping.

Although this looks like a somewhat generic action movie, I’m actually very interested to see it because of its all-star cast of Robert DeNiro, Clive Owen, and the current king of the over-the-top action film, Jason Statham. Big explosions, lots of elaborate action sequences, and some cool fight scenes and stunts, has me rather curious to see just what this movie is all about. Although I still expect Moneyball to easily win the weekend, I think this could quietly sneak into a number two or three spot depending on how many guys are looking for their action fix this weekend. It definitely has a lot more potential to be entertaining than Abduction, that’s for sure.