PSRevision: Infamous

Imagine living in a world where our actions are strictly defined as good or evil. You drive to work parading carbon emissions; evil. You failed to give a knockout smile to the often overlooked receptionist with the wonky tooth; terribly evil. The coffee machine is broken, so you offer to collect a round for the office from the ridiculously overpriced alternative; pretty good. However, the only reason you’re doing it is because there’s a promotion coming up and you want your boss to remember you can be counted on during an unprecedented beverage crisis. Er?

Infamous pic

Infamous, the superhero sandbox title from Sucker Punch slaps a thumbs up or thumbs down sticker on every moral decision within its world. You’ll be thrown conundrums which generally amount to protecting civilians by making things harder for yourself, or taking the easier (and worryingly more fun) approach of channeling Satan so you become more powerful at the expense of a few non-descript NPC’s. If like me, you’re regularly trapped inside a Clinton’s retailer crippled by indecision over a birthday card, these moments can spark full scale mental breakdowns. The kind reserved for late-night bus stops and Saturday evening’s spent alone watching ITV.

Picture the scene. A man is storing blast shards inside his locker which you require to upgrade your powers. There’s no reasonable explanation given for this man to greedily hoard such items, but you’re asked to either kill the man and steal his shards or save him and be rewarded with a few shards and a guilty free conscience. Easy, you say. Just grow a pair and blast some lightning in that motherfucker, you say. Well I’m not mental psychopath you guys, and I like to ask questions.

Firstly, what if the man storing all these shards is actually a pawn for the super villain up top? He might be making a living from watching his city succumb to fear and turmoil while he comfortably cosies up under the wholesome glow of a Christmas ham. No minion deserves golden meat stashing goods off the street. Also, what rational human being decides to store electrical charges in a locker anyway? It all sounds fishy to me. Surely we should place him under observation by the Cheater’s team and see if there’s any seedy superhero activity afoot. He might be sticking his major in a generator for all we know. HIS WIFE DESERVES TO KNOW.

This is what I dislike about video games that attempt any kind of ‘morality’ system. No room is left to explore the morally grey area of sticking majors into generators, turning the entire story experience into a two dimensional bore-fest. It’s especially dull when the game practically forces you to pick a side from the outset, leaving the highest powers and upgrades to those who solely devote their playthrough to predominantly good or evil deeds. And how are you rewarded at the end for your efforts? The always terrible ‘good ending’ or ‘bad ending’ — where you’re either riding unicorns into space or trapped alone in a barrel of faeces dribbling out spinach.

I would have enjoyed Infamous a lot more if this system were banished into the cosmic abyss. Once you finally unlock powers like electric skiing and summoning thunder from the heavens, the combat is really fun and sliding across telephone wires over the city is thoroughly satisfying. It even taps into that Assassin Creed style gaming itch of clearing away every icon on the map, even if it does grow repetitive towards its conclusion. There is some terrible side missions however which require stealth, but I’ll forget about them because I’m a forgiving kind of person.

I’ve been informed this morality system still rears its ugly head in Infamous 2 and Second Son, so while I will continue to endure and enjoy its positives through these mental hardships, I will sit quietly and hope this gaming phase is somewhere behind us. Take us on stories which dare to delve into the grey, challenge our perceptions and for crying out loud, stop asking us to pick between the red and blue coloured lightning. I can’t handle this kind of shit anymore.

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PSRevision: God of War 3

I need you back Kratos. I got angry about the Great British Bake Off the other week and I’ve started shouting at the houseplants again because they refused to match my play-style to a character class in Destiny. I’m a tetchy and agitated man, Kratos. I need to indulge in jovial video game violence and wake anew. Just chuck a minotaur our way so I can dance around its throat like a psycho dentist again. I promise it will fix us right up. There’s a good lad.

god of war 3

God of War 3 is the ultimate pallet cleanser. After smashing, gutting and ripping apart every hellish creature in sight, there’s an odd feeling of reinvigoration. Like all you’re previous stresses have suddenly dissipated into the atmosphere like a shitty Airwick. You might need to take a few moments to remember attaching kitchen knives to a set of bungee cords isn’t the most pragmatic way to replicate the thrill outside the gaming world, but over the course of six bloody hours you’re somehow purified of all your seething rage. It’s amazing what punching the face of Zeus can do.

It’s therapeutic qualities shine even brighter in this trimmed and refined third instalment. The game length is shorter, the action finally lives up to its epic potential with staggering boss set-pieces and everything looks stunning under the HD graphical sugarcoat. From beginning to end, it’s easily the most thrilling of the trilogy. Blasting you from the clutches of Hades onto the back of a Goliath in a blood-gushing heartbeat.

What makes God of War so special however isn’t just the rush of the action. Sure it helps, but a lot of attention is paid to dressing it all up in a cohesive and satisfying package. Surprisingly clever puzzles creep up amidst the frenzy and while the story often amounts to Kratos simply being pissed off, it is a lot more engaging than many of the po-faced narratives triple A titles normally shoot for. There’s a loveably self aware silliness to God of War, and you can almost hear the guys at Santa Monica Studios chuckling away as you gouge out the eyes of Poseidon with the analogue sticks.

My own lasting memory of God of War 3 is its closing segment; hammering the circle button and watching as you pound Zeus with a flurry of fists until blood is literally blinding your vision on screen. What I didn’t realise is you do this for as long as you wish, and you only initiate the ending credits once you stop the beating. I did this for about 20 minutes, feeling queasy at initial concerns the game had crashed and thinking maybe, just maybe, the ridiculous team who designed this won’t let my experience end until my thumbs convulse out of their sockets.

It was only after some trembling internet research I actually stopped, which made me wonder what would have happened if this kind of mechanic crept up back in 80s or some other pre-internet time period. I’d probably still be there now, writing cover letters with the tip of my nose while stirring a pot of pasta between my toes. Those guys at Santa Monica are bastards. Beautiful, sick bastards.

So for all those who probably don’t read this and believe video game violence is a corruptive part of society. I’d like to riposte your accusations with God of War: the stress ball of video games. Everyone builds up a little bit of anger or frustration inside them, it’s part of the human condition. Now through the wonders of technology we can pile those feelings behind a mythical God who can slice through centaurs like wet lettuce. We should all thank God of War really. All its outrageous violence was just to make the world that little bit more pleasant for us all.

So thank you, God of War.

And thank you, video game violence. :)

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PSRevision: ICO

I’ve always wanted to play Shadow of the Colossus. So when I saw the HD re-release on PS3, I bounded through the air of my local gaming outlet and whispered sweet nothings into the ear of the cashier, waiting until their cheeks bloomed roses. It was only walking away I noticed the other game which came in the package, ICO. A game I assumed was the Big Momma’s House 2 part of the deal, serving as shitacular padding so you feel less guilty about paying for a PS2 remake.

AND BOY WAS I SHITACULARLY WRONG.

ICO

ICO was never on my radar and it’s only now I’ve realised how much of a nincompoop I must have been 12 months ago. That’s right, this relatively pointless journey through game exclusives has transformed into a wholesome ragtag adventure with heartwarming spiritual growth. I don’t want to sensationalise anything, but I’m basically saying video games have an indisputable correlation with our emotional development as human beings. I’ve got the trophies to prove it.

I’m also saying ICO is pretty wonderful. It’s essentially a 5-6 hour escort mission which (pre-spiritual growth) would have sounded worse than someone trying to singe the hairs on my vitals with a yankee candle. Now that idea seems like only a mildly irritating nuisance. You’ll still kick the pram and swing your stick wildly when this mystical lady doesn’t respond to a command, but really, isn’t that an acute reflection of our everyday lives? WOMEN EH?

So ICO can be broken down into pretty challenging puzzles, mild combat that involves mashing square until the black things go away and most importantly, taking in its stunning atmosphere. There isn’t much music in ICO, so every sound effect from clomping footsteps, bereaved cries to the strained push of a block feels oddly eerie and isolated. A strange contrast to some of the pleasant and serene environments within which you have to navigate and escape from.

You’re basically dragging around this mystical lady called Yorda in the hope of escaping an abandoned fortress. All the while creatures are trying to claim her back as she’s the daughter of the castle’s Queen and naturally, they pop-up at the most inconvenient of times. Mostly when the player is forced to branch away from Yorda to tug a few levers and set the panic wheels in motion. While these moments can become predictable, it never develops into frustration as the enemies are generally quite easy to defeat and the game itself is such a pleasure to move around in.

It might from playing Uncharted 3 beforehand, but it was refreshing to go back to a game which lets the gameplay tell the story. You aren’t chasing cinematic cut-scenes on a dangly rope in ICO and the connection between the characters is organically formed as you participate through the ‘escort mission’ style gameplay. By the end as the threat level to Yorda mounts, an irritable person you have to protect turns into someone you genuinely want to save. A feat to be celebrated considering my volcanic hatred of ‘protect’ missions in games of yesteryears.

To sum up, I thoroughly loved ICO. It was a nice reminder of how stunning games can be away from the explosions, shoot-outs and ‘cinematic’ tendencies of a lot of games today. While it feels like an ‘old game’, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Big budget titles are obsessed with replicating the movies and maybe it’s about time games focussed on their unique storytelling capabilities instead.

So much spiritual growth right now.

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I try to defend Nicki Minaj and this is what happened

I think Nicki Minaj is a very credible artist.

Fuck sake.

Alright let’s step back. We can either see this video as one ass-flinging distraction away from the pretty crummy pop song underneath or, quite possibly, it’s a panicked cry for help. You wouldn’t need to convince a jury that ol’ Nicki likes to draw attention to her gluttonous backside-arous whenever the mood takes her, but have you noticed when that is? HAVE YOU?

Well it’s categorically (mostly) always during the plights of her own solo career. Slotted into a collaboration, the only foul play comes when she’s waxing lyrical about being a ‘f***ing monster’ or dribbling ‘BANG BANG’ on Jessie J’s new single because somebody has to. When she’s isolated, her pretty enjoyable interludes are rolled out and melted under the heat of the spotlight. She can’t handle it. How can she be a vocal velociraptor with all the pressures of being an appealing popstar? She doesn’t have the dainty flower-puffed farts of a Taylor Swift or Beyonce’s thundering growl, so she turns into a lost lamb clinging to her bun-waving white flag.

In other revelations, what if this elaborate marketing machine is just the real Nicki? I had a similar reaction to Anaconda as I do to low-budget horror movies, aka a constant juggling act between being hysterical interest, silent disgust and conflicted arousal. Maybe she’s a pioneer pushing the limits of our own distaste? What if Nicki Minaj is the charming B-movie blockbuster of contemporary pop?

With your mind now blown, I’ll lay on the sentiment.

Basically, I think we might misunderstand Ms Minaj. She might have legions of tit followers on the internet who scream words like ‘SLAY’, ‘BAE’ and call themselves ‘BARBZ’, but she’s a human being somewhere underneath too. And if human beings aren’t allowed to gyrate our pumped behind’s all over the internet, then well, what ARE WE allowed to do?

And to be honest, at least Drake had a whale of a time.

Nicki Drake

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PSRevision: Uncharted 2 & 3

You start, hanging off a train carriage suspended over a snowy cliff. No-one knows how or why, all you hear is that insecure creak telling you to climb forth and follow the yellow-piped road. As you scramble upwards, trusty-looking ledges begin to buckle under the insatiable tension. Carriage furniture starts to snap loose, whiffing past your nose as you leap between the inner sides of this vertical first-class deathtrap. You leap back, forth and all around, avoiding falling stools, lamps, glasses of Blossom Hill and boxes of square teabags. As you finally reach the top, you fling yourself forwards, body in flight, arms outstretched, until you grasp the frosty cliff-face, praying the tumbling carriage overhead doesn’t clap you in the face into the abyss below.Uncharted 2

This is Uncharted; the summer blockbuster of video games. You’ll run through obscene set-pieces, shoot hundreds of bad guys and giggle wildly at Nathan Drake’s quips as he charms every breasted AI in sight. He’s unstoppable. He’d sleep with your gran if her framerate was locked at 60, then snatch-grab your sister while rolling out a burning Aztec temple onto a getaway moose.

I mean, you’d probably let him too. His mix of Hollywood good-looks, ability to pull-off two shirts at once and extensive knowledge of archaeology is something young men burdened with reality can only dream of. Games as a medium offer unique perks when faced with characters like Nathan ‘dreamy’ Drake however, either you guide them through the righteous path of saving the world, or you watch them fall under that jeep during a high-speed chase on sadistic repeat.

However you decide to enjoy Uncharted 2 or 3 (I skipped the first because the rest of the world seems to have forgotten about it), you’ll find it’s a rapturously grand old time. Sure, the gunfights feel like a showdown between Fisher Price toys and the token ‘guy in armour’ enemies are pretty dull, but it does pretty splendidly what it sets out to do. That is, provide a fun and breezy piece of entertainment jam-packed full of explosive moments which pull off the Hollywood blockbuster schtick better than most movies today.

Saying that, I did leave Uncharted feeling strangely disconnected from it all. The constant stream of action hit a point where it felt like I was tied to a rope and dragged across a series of cinematic triggers. Look, blast down that helicopter, run past those armoured goons, catch up to that aeroplane, cue zippy one-liner cutscene, blow up that tank, oh, did you want to look for secret treasures? Oops. Watch out for that spider swarm, there’s a red barrel over there, shoot it quick and toss back that grenade. Oh wait, this isn’t Uncharted 3 yet. WHAT?

While you can often smell Uncharted’s game designer pushing you on with a bag of party poppers, I appreciate it’s a design choice. That’s cool. Personally I prefer The Last Of Us which, while still incredibly linear, has an atmosphere and some breathing space where I didn’t feel so bad exploring every last corner of its world for silly collectibles. Uncharted 3 shows an attempt to experiment with the ‘mood’ through some trippy desert sequences, but it unfortunately still amounts to pushing forward on the analogue stick and waiting for the sparks to fly.

This all sounds a bit downbeat, but I still really enjoyed both titles for different reasons. To cut this stream of nonsense and prove it to your cynical heart, I’m going to lay out my favourite things about each game below in a simple ‘pros’ system which all the reviews seem to love these days. It’s efficient, easy on the eye and mildly lazy; everything I love in an article.

Uncharted 2

+ The shoot-out train bit

+ Climbing in the mountain with the guy who can’t speak English

+ Getting angry because you can’t throw back those pissing grenades

Uncharted 3

+ The sandy bit

+ Nathan Drake’s neck scarf

+ Getting angry because you CAN throw back grenades and they hit the pissing wall.

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PSRevision: The Last Of Us

The infected apple of the Playstation’s eye, Naughty Dog’s The Last Of Us is seen as a crowning achievement of the past generation. Bestowed with previously mythical gaming awards like ‘best performer’ and ‘best story’, it catapulted narratives in the medium to an island of newfound integrity built on a sea of Cormac McCarthy novels. So as Sony gears up to release a remastered PS4 version, does it still stand up despite the passage of time which has clawed at our sour cheeks?the last of us

Silly questions deserve silly answers, so of course it bloody plums my goat. I actually finished The Last Of Us a while back, but because of my tragic need to ingest new titles during the post-release hype storm, I’ve failed to garble some words about it. It deserves one hell of a garble too. While it is everything you’ve probably already heard; moving, visually stunning, terrifying with a brilliantly bittersweet aftertaste, one thing The Last Of Us is not, is a Christmas game.

Cast your mind back to Christmas Eve 2013. Tinsel curled around trees, golden paper littered house-bound wrapping stations and warm alcoholic drinks were the ‘hip’ thang. As Winter stroked its frosty finger over door handles nationwide, everyone huddled around the box and waited on the usual promise of crowd-pleasing television. Once Rod Stewart’s Christmas show appeared, many thought festive cheer had been cast into fairytale. A term whispered by pixies in the woods under nightfall and scratched into stone walls by horny aborigines. It became a cutesy phrase for a simpler time, when a food coma in front of the TV wasn’t a psychological weapon.

We all sought refuge in our own unique ways, so I chose to immerse myself in a world where human civilisation was at the brink because a viral infection was turning everyone into fungal explosions. A creepy, pleasingly violent and scrupulously tense place where my natural equilibrium could be restored. But as I reached the game’s bleak ending, the idea of sitting around a table pulling crackers and testing how many sherry’s it would take for G-ma to hit the deck, seemed almost impossible to deal with. I was sucked into this grim world of relentless survival and no amount of Roy Wood was bringing me back.

It was odd, because I took a while to warm to the game initially. After the emotional slam dunk opening, the game loses a bit of steam in setting up the world, introducing the game mechanics and pushing the two central characters together in a natural way. Once these shackles are loosened and the relationship between Joel and Ellie begins to collide with other survivors however, the game quickly blazes back into remarkable territory and never lets up.

I’ve had a fair amount of time to nurse my opinion on The Last Of Us, yet I still remember it just as fondly as when I completed it. It isn’t the nerve-shredding moments against the Clickers that stick out in memory either, but the quieter moments between Joel and Ellie. Whether it’s the bickering during a cruise down a desolate highway or some of their little exchanges as you scavenge through rooms in abandoned houses, it’s a game that pulls you into the little details despite the monstrous picture blowing up around it.

That isn’t to say the game is short on memorable gameplay sequences, the cat and mouse chase between Ellie and David might be one of the most tense I’ve ever experienced. A face-off where you desperately try to outflank a lone man with a machete inside a burning restaurant, all while trying to avoid broken plates or debris that could give away your position. I found myself not driven by wanting to progress or to hear the satisfying twinkle from a new trophy, but because I actually wanted Ellie to get her own back on this twisted nut job. Even despite the uncontrollable organ circus which was booming beneath my rib cage.

In not so many words, I loved The Last Of Us. It brought ruin and misery to my Christmas spirit yet still remains a beloved gaming chestnut inside my soon-to-be-collapsed heart. I’m unconvinced on the idea of a sequel, yet if they announced one tomorrow I’d rain bricks from the sky like a satanic pigeon to get my paws around it. Even if my crime of passion pleas are not accepted in a court of law, at least I’d be locked away in another space where I could play The Last Of Us all over again.

You know, in those prisons that let you play video games all day which totally exist?

STFU.

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Mario Kart 8 bangerz

How would you define joy? The Oxford English Dictionary calls it a ‘vivid emotion of pleasure arising from a sense of well-being or satisfaction’. Maybe it’s a beloved memory, like waking up on Christmas morning or bashing the shit out of Hungry Hungry Hippos. Well whatever your definition, it’s wrong. Joy is an audio file from Mario Kart 8, and it’s here to re-evaluate all our miserable lives.

It has everything. Bouncy brass sections, scaling guitar riffs, groovy bass lines, thumping drum breakdowns and even a ruddy saxophone. If there was a musical formula to cause unstoppable contortions to the human body, this song would be the experimental explosion that was locked away in the test phase. Confined to a dark bunker underground in fear that our race would forever flap around in leafy bamboo skirts atop country hills, halting our progression as a civilisation.

This is only the intro music too. If you trawl through some of the remixed music tracks from retro courses, you’ll find jams that will make you believe someone is suspiciously grooming your ear lobes. Hearing the reworked version of the N64’s Rainbow Road theme somehow caused the same gasping relief as seeing brown sauce dolloped on a platter of cheese on toast. Then there’s Yoshi Valley. A track that is pushing me towards learning to drive, solely so I can wind down the windows and bounce past opposing vehicles smacking a steel drum on the passenger seat.

It’s further evidence that when Nintendo soundtracks are flexing their fully orchestrated guns they’re almost untouchable. Super Mario 3D World and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze were both bombastic treats in the music department, elevating both packages into even more memorable delights. It’s an area of video games that is often overlooked by many, but when executed right, astonishing music can turn great titles into gold-standard classics.

My anticipation for Mario Kart 8 has certainly hit the rafters thanks to the music. The early glowing reviews may have helped a little bit, but after all a new Mario Kart is the much needed cup of tea during a console cycle. Reliable, satisfying and when mixed with the right amount of graphical sugar, oh so sweet. So gather your friends, clear the throat for an intense verbal showcase and remember what video games are really all about. Being a dick and loving every passing second.

(Here’s that Rainbow Road track, if you used to have an N64 I’d keep a cold cloth to hand)

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PS-Revision: God of War 1&2

As I currently work my way through old Playstation titles that I’ve tragically missed as an Xbox 360 owner, I’ve decided to share my experiences with each exclusive as they dance between my fingers and thumbs. It’s a series of posts that I’ve decided to bunch up under the PS-Revision title, or PSR for short. I know you enjoy a good acronym, so that one’s on the house.

THE HOUSE OF SPARTA.god of war 2Coming into the God of War HD collection for PS3, my expectations were pretty high. Kratos now stands toe-to-toe with other signature Playstation icons like Lara Croft, Crash Bandicoot and that rapping dog made out of paper, there must be something pretty special about the series to achieve such a loving place in the hearts of Sony aficionados. Turns out, that something is getting vexed to the max and clapping minotaurs into Greek architecture. And it’s really bloody fun.

It’s oddly lethargic too. My nights for a couple of weeks involved nestling up on the sofa, bundling up frustrations collected throughout the day and channeling them into the decapitation of a giant cyclops. It helps that you control a character that just seems to be permanently pissed off too. Kratos shouts his way through encounters with mythical gods, tears open undead spleens and even climbs around walls like he’s cursed with an everlasting bonk on. He’s brilliant, and I think a Kratos dedicated section should be included in every form of digital entertainment.

Having been spoilt with Bayonetta and its insane array of bosses however, some of the God of War beasts did feel a little underwhelming. The first title in particular, which starts out with a battle aboard a ship with a three-headed dragon waits until the closing moments before it cranks up the ‘epic’ dial again. God of War 2 does fix this, with a generally more fulfilling experience that flings you from one spectacular scenario to another without much breathing space, but I never felt the crippling fear that comes from an overwhelming boss fight in either title.

I think back to the lake monster of Resident Evil 4 or the battle with Gohma in Ocarina of Time, and I was terrified. Chest-pounding, get me out of here, I’m going to throw up an anorak, terrified. They’re relatively simple too, but as is the case with any first date, it’s all about the first impression. Our mind needs time to imagine the unthinkable, to revel in the worst case scenario so anything that emerges will become the fresh face of hell itself. You’ll stagger over to the table, sit down gushing with sweat before an accidental brush of the boob during an overenthusiastic welcome. These are the boss battles you remember. The ones that cause panic before they’ve even begun.

This gut-wrenching build up is ruined by the instant cinematics that play as soon as you enter a room that’s geared for a boss fight. I want to walk in an area, take in the scenery, imagine what’s going to trigger that cute little animal to turn into a five-headed death machine, and then shake out a nervous dump in the corner. It’s a niche ask, but I’ll throw it out there in the hope that a game developer reads this and meets me halfway during this epiphany.

While I’m yet to play God of War 3, my time with God of War 1&2 (mostly two) has been very much enjoyed. The combat has the best mix of gore and button-bashing satisfaction around, and even the puzzles are surprisingly decent for an action title. It also holds the crown for some of the most bizarre quicktime events I’ve seen, from mashing someone’s face into a stone tablet to watching a bedside lamp rock back and forth as Kratos performs sexual acts with two ladies. A sequence that, looking back, might be the most understated sequence across the entire game.

Alright the latter was an optional mini-game, but you’ve got to collect all the Trophies right?

RIGHT?

:(

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The ‘Never Let You Down’ music theory

I think I just posted a link to Rita Ora.

Did that just happen? Just listen to it once and cast the memory of this blogpost into the darkest pits of your mind. You’ll feel clean, I’ll feel clean and the whole world will continue to spin until everything rots into a giant toffee apple orbiting the Sun.

Only problem is, that pop dynamite ear worm is still nagging away isn’t it?

I’ve tried to explain to myself why Rita Ora’s latest single has had such a tight grasp around my listening lobes recently. It’s perfectly natural Adam. It’s why these things sell so well. She just caught you at a vulnerable time, watching the Michael McIntyre chat show in a glum hotel room desperate for any kind of positive escape. You’re a victim Adam and you need support.

But then I found an explanation that made sense of my iTunes library and didn’t completely crush my own self belief. Any song entitled “Never Let You Down” or with some mild variation on the words, is guaranteed to be an absolute banger. It’s a music formula that seems to have gone unnoticed for years, stemming across genres from rock to hip-hop and even to album tracks that you perhaps weren’t even aware of. It’s a joyous thread that transcends diehard fanatics from every musical spectrum into one beautiful music-loving happy family.

HONEST.

If you don’t believe me, I’ve cherry-picked some examples below into an intentionally ‘thread’ like fashion. This metaphor is going to sing dammit.






Alright WordPress just does it like that, but I’ve delivered a scenario where the Honeyz followed by the Beatles seems perfectly reasonable. What else could you possibly want?

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Oscars 2014 Preview.

The Oscars are a drag. We know it, whoever has sat through its three hour running time knows it, heck we’re pretty sure the actors/actresses know it too. So let’s look ahead to the ceremony and see what will most likely pan out at this year’s event, saving us all the bother and giving us time to bleed the radiators.wolf of wall street2

As with every academy award season, a handful of films have been thrusted into the limelight for our viewing chops. This year sees the plights of slavery going against sci-fi blockbusters like Gravity and drug peddled stockbrokers in The Wolf Of Wall Street. That’s without mentioning the surprise turnaround of Matthew McConaughey in the Dallas Buyers Club, or the impressive belly acquired by Christian Bale for American Hustle.

But who is going to come out on top? While many will be hoping to see Leonardo DeCaprio claim his long overdue Oscar, judging by the relatively conservative academy panel, we’re perhaps more likely to see Chiwetel Ejiofor bag the best actor gong for 12 Years A Slave. His performance ticks all the academy boxes of surefire Oscar success; tender, historic, brutal and no sign of cocaine abuse off a lady’s caboose.

Judging by the winners of the Golden Globes back in January, the best actress nods will be plucked from a pool of Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o. If Adams wins, expect baskets of tears and a slightly overlong tale of triumph, Blanchett will charm us into a coma, Lawrence will ramble like an excited puppy and Nyong’o will be so surprised she’ll explode into a fountain of confetti.

In fact the whole event looks set to be a bit too lovely this year. Talk show extraordinaire Ellen DeGeneres is presenting, so don’t expect anything quite as outlandish as Seth MacFarlane singing “we saw your boobs” with a gay men’s choir like last year. Pharrell is on board to sing ‘Happy’ from Despicable Me 2, but we’ll be deprived of classic Essex bantz courtesy of Adele. Happy, Ellen and no Essex bantz? What kind of Oscars is this?

If history at the academy awards has taught us anything however, it’s that the truly bizarre moments sometimes have to drip from the bosom of spontaneity. Who could have predicted in 2011 that hosting duo Anne Hathaway and James Franco would drop more clangers than a politician in a council estate? Let’s not forget when George Clooney awkwardly claimed in an acceptance speech that Hollywood contributed to the awareness of AIDS and the civil rights movement. Smug levels that made an entire room of Hollywood A-listers feel a little flustered.

So our enjoyment of the 86th Academy awards essentially relies on an intern screwing up the batch order of Iceland Chicken Goujons for the pre-party buffet. Bale will kick off, Dame Judi will throw her Dench credentials to the wind and the whole evening will dissolve into a ticking time bomb waiting until Jonah Hill cracks out the “lemmons”. In a world where the Oscars aren’t such a sick-inducing parade of the beautiful, this would be a fairly reasonable prediction. As it stands the “biggest entertainment celebration of the year” will most likely amount to a pat on the back for Gravity and 12 Years A Slave, featuring a guest spot from Jennifer Lawrence falling down the stairs again.

That bathroom definitely needs grouting.

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