On The End Of A Quill

On The End Of A Quill

Monday, July 19, 2010


Robert Rodriguez and Director Nimrod Antal attempt to give the Predator franchise back some cinematic credibility after the unpopular Predator 2 and the downright woeful Alien Vs. Predator movies. Twenty three years after Arnie nearly came a cropper in the wilds of Guatemala we find ourselves deep in the jungle again being hunted by predators even bigger than the one in the first movie. This time the jungle is on an alien planet where a race of predators has dropped off a random group of humans so that they can skin them for sport.
This film isn’t a reboot, the character Isabelle gives a full account of what happened in the first film and if you look closely you might spot the odd Alien skull lying around. It’s set in modern day but being on an inescapable alien planet means they could get away things that wouldn’t exactly mess with continuity. If the AvP world has some sort of continuity to maintain of course!
Okay it’s not a remake but does a pretty good job of trying to remake the first movie, gang of soldiers getting picked off one by one while looking for the thing that’s hunting them. Some scenes are very reminiscent of the first movie and very reminiscent of a lot of action movies in general. The plot does not have any huge twists and some things can be seen from a mile off. It’s a by the book action flick really. Raised to above average by the acting of some of its stars.
Adrien Brody as Royce is a lot better than I expected him to be, he does dip into his best deep ‘I am Batman’ voice at times but that aside he does a good job as de facto leader. Topher Grace is the understated, quite one. Yet you knew he was going to turn out to be the craziest killer of the lot. Alice Braga, last seen in I Am Legend, is the other of the longest surviving trio and does a solid turn as the only female in the cast. Rodriguez staple Danny Trejo makes an appearance but is dead after about ten minutes and I can’t remember if he said anything of note. Another character that kicks the bucket is Laurence Fishburnes Noland. He appears, says he has survived for ten seasons of the predator hunts then proceeds to lock himself out of his home and gets blown to bits by a predator, a very strange few minutes. They muddy the predator lineage with some predators using weaker predators as bait and Noland describing them as different as dogs and wolves. They hunt for sport where as in other movies it was hunting more as a rite of passage. Also there are not as many predators in this movie as the trailer would have you believe? While the scene with Royce caught in the predators sight is in the movie, it’s only one gun trained on him, not a dozen or so. Why are trailers doing that nowadays? All this being said I guess I was satisfied with Predators. It wasn’t as good as it could have been but it was better than it had any right to be. Action movie fans will get a kick out of it and Predator fans can feel they finally get a half decent movie they wouldn’t mind paying good money to see. But as Little Richards ‘Long Tall Sally’ plays over the end credits, it only serves to remind you that it isn’t as good as the original.

Monday, July 5, 2010

FIFA '96 32X

Here I get around to talking about a game that I got when I finally picked up a 32X during Christmas 1995. The 32-bit Megadrive add-on had been out just over a year, having seen a release the previous November. There was still only a handful of games to pick up for the system. I wanted FIFA because the previous years instalment on the Megadrive kept me occupied for months, what a great game that was. And with the awesome power hidden inside the £170 Sega mushroom add-on, I could sample the new virtual stadium technology without shelling out twice the price to get a 3DO or a Saturn.
Unfortunately to begin with the game didn't work. It would load up to the title screen then when I could get in, I would select quick game only for the match to start with a big green pitch and no players! So, I thought I must have put the 32X together wrong, but no, that wasn't it. Back to the shop for a replacement cartridge, again it refused to work. Next time I brought the 32X back to the shop. Then after about four weeks of waiting I got my, now working, 32X back. Finally 32-bit gaming was in my grasp.
After all this waiting, it's well into the new year now at this stage, the sense of disappointment when I finally got around to playing the game was massive. How could it all go so wrong? It had all the leagues, real player names, various camera angles to choose from. It was missing the commentary but that you can get over if the game played well. Which it didn't! Your players never seemed in control of the ball, you take a shot and the goalie would just dive slowly to the ground with ball in hand, no matter what angle the shot was from, while the camera shuddered to that end of the field to catch up. It looked awkward, untidy and above all unfinished. It was said EA released the game before the 32X became totally unprofitable just to make some money back on it and it was not in a 100% finished state.
Another nail in the coffin for this game was the inability to save your league. You had to sit through a whole season in one sitting. FIFA 95 on the Megadrive had four save states if I remember. On the Options screen you will see a Restore option at the bottom, click in and what do you see? A password input, but you only get a password during Cup competitions. Cups that might only last at most 5 or 6 games. What was the whole point of that?
Now after spending £45 on the game I was not happy, it was a broken mismash, it had the 16-bit intro and titles, while having a poor mans 32-bit ingame engine that didnt match the Saturn or Playstation versions. EA didnt trouble the 32X market again and it limped on for another year before it was all but forgotten. I picked up quite a few 32X games at the time, the next game I bought was the much better Star Wars Arcade, but I only knew one other person who had one. FIFA '96 was by far the worst in my opinion.
It was also only released in europe, it was advertised as coming out in north america but lucky for them they were spared its release. FIFA 97 found its way to all major platforms of the day, sadly the 32X was a only a major discounted, major disappointment by then. Oh what might have been?