Gothic Dreams – Dystopia

February 22nd, 2015

Gothic Dreams - Dystopia

Here we go with two pics from my artwork catalogue have been featured in the recent book release “Gothic Dreams – Dystopia” by Flametree Publishing. It’s a really cool book that gives young folks the perfect introduction into the field of dystopian scifi stories. May it be books, tv productions or movies. Everything illustrated by some really good work by fellow artists from around the world. I even recognized a couple of the artworks. The book’s price is really affordable and what you’ll get is a book that’s printed on some nice thick quality paper that perfectly serves the artwork it presents.

Find the book here – Gothic Dreams – Dystopia

The featured pieces are: Epica & The Moebius Passage

Regards

signed

Galactic Civilizations 3 Artwork

February 10th, 2015

Late 2014 I began to create a couple of event-screen images for Galactic Civilizations 3. A great game if you’re a fan of scifi exploration and strategy. Every now and then you encounter random events that force you to make a decision that will have a certain impact on your empire. These events needed some background images that sorta set the mood for the event. So I created 4 pictures for four of these events. Some of them were interesting tasks that forced me to go different routes than usual. Beside the usual Vue & Photoshop route I had to try myself a little with 3d modeling (which isn’t something I’m too firm with). It definitely paid off and I’m fairly happy with the results.

Example Event – ‘Beautiful Sunsets’

“The atmosphere of this planet, thick with poisonous particulates, does have the side effect of causing beautiful, even spectacular sunsets, and word had spread through the galaxy of their beauty. A burgeoning tourist industry has developed, resulting in many coughing tourists, ignorant of the dangers of this planet. Your colonists are getting tired of stepping over their bodies.”

Galactic Civilizations 3 - Eventscreen 1

For 1920×1080 Wallpaper Click Here

Example Event – ‘Powerful Drug’

“The flowers of a specific plant on this planet are a powerful intoxicant when ground up or smoked or inserted various places. The drug provides an intense feeling of contentment to all those who consume it, although in a few cases people have been content to walk directly into powerful machinery.”

Galactic Civilizations 3 - Eventscreen 2

For 1920×1080 Wallpaper Click Here

Alright, two pictures for now but more to come! I will update this post with all the images in the future along with a neat Wallpaper Pack. So stay tuned! =D

Regards

signed

Captain Phillips – Movie Review

February 7th, 2015

movie reviewThere are two reasons to watch that movie. For one it’s a rather unique hostage scenario. And secondly it’s about how true piracy works these days and you want to know the background stuff to what truly happened in the events that this movie is trying to portrait. For me personally it was the latter point.

The movie is about a Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), Captain of a container ship that carries food and other smaller goods. Early April 2009 he and his crew start a shipment from Oman to Mombasa. The route they had to take is constantly under attack by pirates from the near Somali coast. Nonetheless it’s relatively safe if you stay on a specific route that’s protected by military. We learn that the crew seems to be new and not too happy with the new captain. That is at least the vibe I got from the movie. Phillips isn’t necessarily a bad captain but he seems a little ‘cold’. He also orders the crew to check the ship’s security measures a second time to avoid problems. We later learn that these measures didn’t do much to stop anyone or anything though. While on track to Mombasa they suddenly discover two fast approaching small ships on the radar. Soon enough they know that it’s pirates. They try a couple of tricks to get away and manage to do so for one day. The next day the pirates attack again and make it onto the ship. Phillips and his crew are doing their best to get them off the ship again. They manage to get the advantage and ultimately force the pirates off the ship, along with the captain. Since Phillips was in the hands of the pirates all the time, he is held hostage and has to follow the pirates off the container ship in a lifeboat. And that’s the point where the movie actually begins. Or let’s say… a second movie begins.

The movie does a lot of things very good and a lot of things very bad. The action sequences and the tension that’s created with the music and the editing works pretty flawless. The director Paul Greengrass is known for his rather dull, almost documentary approach. I can truly recommend his movie ‘Bloody Sunday’ from 2002, about the Irish civil rights protest march that ended in a tragedy in January 1972. You can see where his style comes from. Nonetheless Greengrass is able to produce some striking images especially when he’s working with good actors. Tom Hanks delivers a respectable one man show in this movie. BUt I have to say that his Somali counterparts do leave an impression as well. Once again it’s safe to say that Hanks is certainly one of the best we currently have. Even though I have to say that Phillips as portrayed in this movie didn’t bring up much sympathy. Like I said earlier… his outside appearance felt pretty cold. And I don’t want to mix that up with bad acting. No, this cold’ish feel was acted on purpose I think. Then right at the end when Phillips is rescued Hanks managed to bring his A-game playing a character that’s close to falling apart. That then was the only time I had a ping of sympathy for him. He did go through hell with what he experienced.

The movie generally has a sympathy problem since I have my problem with the pirates as well. Now the movie is over 2 hours long but maybe an additional 10 minutes, to explain the exact motivation of the pirates, would have helped a lot. Instead we get some hints and throwaway lines throughout the movie. If you are a kinda intelligent human being then you know that these poor people aren’t pirates for fun. The western world ruined their livelihood as fishermen and ultimately forced them to become pirates just to survive somehow. But instead of explaining this through a couple of extra minutes they glance over it without bigger explanations. This could have been solved in a quiet moment on the lifeboat when Phillips had enough chances to talk to the pirates. And I don’t care if the actual Phillips didn’t do that in reality. There was a chance to educate some people out there. It would have been also a chance to let the characters shine for a couple of minutes aside from all the screaming and craziness, since the guys who played the pirates did a damn fine job. A group of fairly unknown faces that delivered a threatening and frightening performance.

In the end of the movie Phillips is rescued by a military operation that ends it all pretty ruthless and very bloody. The movie still managed to create some tense moments in the later parts of the film. Now you could argue if Phillips is a hero for saving his crew. I would say no, he’s not. He did a Captain’s job. And the crew was also competent enough to use the situations right to overtake one of the pirates which lead to the retreat to the lifeboat. There has also been controversy that Phillips tried to save fuel via a shortcut that lead too close to the Somali coast. And there is a radar image in the movie that suggests exactly that. But verbally there has been no statement about that in the movie. Which again makes it hard for me to build up some sympathy for Phillips.

Ultimately it’s a fairly good movie. It has some incredibly tense moments that have you on the edge of your seat. The camera work is a mixed bag. While Greengrass is the sorta inventor of the shaky-cam style… it’s overused in the movie. You know folks… I miss the movies where steady shots made you appreciate what’s actually on screen. Unfortunately the movie fails to deliver a worthful message other than “don’t fuck with the western world or we’ll send in our SEAL teams!”. The four pirate characters were interesting enough to explore a little bit more. But it seems they willingly let that one go.

It’s worth a watch but don’t look for a deeper meaning or a bigger message. Greengrass managed to put in some hints here and there but the general public/movie goers won’t read that from the movie at all.

7.5/10

Captain Phillips on IMDb

Virtuosity

January 27th, 2015



Virtuosity

Here we have my first new portfolio entry for 2015 and along with that fact it’s also part of the latest and 25th Exhibit of the Luminarium Artgroup. It’s certainly a little different from my usual Scifi explorations but I really like how this one turned out.

Originally I wanted to do a Scifi scene with this one. A couple of scientists exploring this cave, where some strange floating materials came from the depths. I quickly got away from the scientists and moved more into a fantasy realm with it. I’m not the best with fantasy and this project gave me at least a little bit room to play around in that field. In the end we have a lady, bravely standing on the edge of a cliff, playing with some cool magic skills. I could imagine that she’s training and testing herself there. And from what I can see it’s successful! I wouldn’t want to start a fight with her!

The inspiration for this picture came from a commission I had just finished around the same time. I found the idea of placing a scene in a cave like environment rather intriguing and played around with it until I found a good path to go with. Technically it’s again a mixture of Vue and Photoshop. I had a fun time in Vue finding a good and solid composition. DAZ Studio helped with creating the lady. Photoshop helped to combine all the different elements along with quite some overpainting and fixing that was necessary to make everything sit right in the picture.

Vue – DAZ Studio – Photoshop – 3607x5000px

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The Luminarium Exhibit #25: Silver

Regards

signed

Luminarium Exhibit #25

January 26th, 2015

The Luminarium Exhibit #25

Here we go with the 25th Exhibit of The Luminarium Artgroup. “Silver” was the topic this time and the interpretation of it amongst the artists in the collective spawned some nice discussions. That didn’t make the inclusion voting easy but still very interesting! Again the Exhibit features some of the best digital art that’s currently on the internet. There is digital art, digital painting, 3d, 2d, photography and music! Congrats to everyone involved!

All of the works, from all kinds of different fields of expertise, surely are a nice source for inspiration! So be sure to check it out – Silver.

The Luminarium: WebsiteDeviantartShadownessBehance

Regards

signed

The Hobbit: TBOTFA – Movie Review

December 30th, 2014

movie reviewThe third installment of a series that did not need to be three movies. Like so many of these artificially lengthened movie series (Hunger Games, Twilight) these days. I went into it without any expectations since the first movie was just kind of there and the second movie had some neat fun moments. Now this third movie felt like an unlimited amount of padding followed by an overlong battle sequence. Was it a bad movie? No, surely not. It was well enough made and had its moments. But I’m really starting to question now if I didn’t enjoy these 3 movies because of the 48 frames per second or the 3d. Because all this useless 48fps (HFR) does is to show me how weak the monster makeup fx were and when and where greenscreen was used. It took me out of the movie everytime. Don’t get me wrong, I was looking at the gorgeous matte paintings more than the actual story because it almost felt as if the movie wants it to be that way. While the 3d is there to give you depth… the HFR works counterproductive and removes depth. It’s so weird to look at and distracts from all the parts that you actually should look at to get immersed in the story.

I want to spare you with story details since there is hardly a story in this movie. Thorin Oakenshield got what he wanted, except some crystal stone (I don’t remember the name anymore and I saw that film 3 hrs ago!) that would make himself as the new dwarf king complete. Now Bilbo has it and smuggles it out of town to the elves who rallied an army to attack Thorin because the dwarfs still own some strange jewelry from them. The elves want it back and side with the humans who just had to flee the city of Laketown, which is now devastated by the dragon Smaug. The bad guys know about the killing of the dragon as well and want to take their shot conquering the Erebor because it’s a strategically valuable fortress.

I’m not sure why I didn’t enjoy this movie more. There is a lot of stuff going on that should have worked. Return Of The King did have almost the same structure, with a giant battle in the second half of the film. On the other hand there was also a complete book to back the story up. The three Hobbit films were made from ONE book. And it was a childrens book. Imagine how much padding was necessary to get this into 3 movies with more than 2hrs runtime each. Too many overlong action sequences that made you numb after a while. And again I ask myself if it’s because of the 3d and HFR. I still have to see the movies in 2d and maybe they’re much better that way. I’m almost sure they’re better that way.

What I did enjoy were the references to the LOTR trilogy. Saurons appearance and how Galadriel kicked his butt. The movie also had some neat humour going on. Even though that one greedy comic relief character did get a little too much attention for my taste. The battle scenes worked fine except for the fact that it all didn’t look dirty enough. Some of the CG work felt odd too. Especially when someone fell off a cliff or down a hill… the animation just doesn’t look right and believable. But that’s not just this movie. But here you have a ton of scenes showing it. The matte painting backgrounds looked fantastic and will not get a complaint out of me. Overall the technical side of the movie left me with mixed feelings. While the LOTR was still rooted in reality and on location shoots… The Hobbit looked more fake than real. Very oversaturated colours and by far not dirty enough. Kind of the Star Wars prequel syndrome. Just not dirty and believable enough.

Acting wise it was fine. Even though there were some schmaltzy moments in it. Richard Armitage sold his Thorin well. Especially in the beginning when he’s corrupted by all the treasury and gold. Martin Freeman does a solid Bilbo again by just being Martin Freeman. The romance between Kili (Aidan Turner) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) works fine too. Even though I found that part very unsatisfying. Yeah I say it… I do enjoy a good romance! I do have a soft spot! But what I find useless is a love triangle for the sake of having a love triangle. Which brings me to Legolas (Orlando Bloom) who is having a thing for Tauriel as well (and who wouldn’t?). Legolas has some of his “look I can fly!” moments in this movie too. In fact… multiple of these moments. I found that cheesy and unnecessary in the LOTR movies and so I do in the Hobbit movies. Elrond (Hugo Weaving) made a short appearance as well and my hopes were up. But as soon as he leaves the movie he’s not coming back. Last but not least we have Gandalf. When we left the theater someone I was with seeing the film mentioned that Gandalf never really used his magic. He’s basically just there to ruin everybody’s day by demanding you to do stuff to save the world. If I would live in Middle-Earth I would try to get as far away from these magic people as possible. They’re bad news everytime they show up and don’t even bother to use their skills to help you.

My ultimate thoughts are that the three movies altogether surely work fine. It’s by far not as epic as the LOTR trilogy but it’s solid entertainment. It will be interesting if there will be a fan-cut out there soon. One that cuts out all the padding and condenses the 3 movies into 2 and much more coherent viewing experience. I’ll keep my eyes open for sure. It would be interesting to talk to an Editor about this new trend in movies. Not long ago the Editor was there to tighten the storytelling and remove unnecessary parts. Nowadays it seems like the rules are turned upside down. Right now I can only say that I enjoyed the second movie most with the first and the third on the same kind of level.

A 7.4/10 for me.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies on IMDb

Interstellar – Movie Review

November 20th, 2014

movie reviewThis movie got a lot of Internet hype. First and foremost for director Christopher Nolan sticking to producing the movie with actual Film instead of Digital Cameras. And the fact that he filmed on 35 and 70mm for IMAX presentation. And from what I heard the IMAX 70mm version really is worth your money. Other than that the audience seems a bit divided when it comes to liking the movie. I certainly noticed that a lot of my online contacts seem to love this movie. I share a lot of interests with them especially art wise. So I was very interested how I would feel after seeing the film. Beware: This review contains spoilers.

It is a very complex film with a lot of themes and stuff going on. To run down the story would just be too much for this short little review. Let’s just say that Earth isn’t what it used to be anymore. I don’t think they mention an exact year but it’s not too far away in the future from our current present time. Things got bad and humanity isn’t doing well. The production of food went down to a rudimentary state and to be a farmer is kind of a dream job in that world. We meet Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former Testpilot. He lives on a dusty farm with his daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy, Jessica Chastain), son Tom (Timothee Chalamet, Casey Affleck) and his father Donald (John Lithgow). By a series of strange events Cooper finds out that NASA still exists and looks for a pilot. The mission is to travel through a wormhole and find a new home for mankind. This spawns some problems with his family of course. Cooper is probably never coming back and especially his daughter doesn’t want him to leave. Cooper decides to go on the trip but promises to come back. There is so much more to the story but I want to leave it there and talk about the movie itself.

It is great to see a movie like this. Especially one that touches on so many scientific questions. It’s not necessarily trying to answer the questions it’s asking but it throws them out there. I’m a scifi fan so I’m familiar with most of the topics in this movie. But I can really honestly imagine that this movie probably widened some of its audience’s scientific horizon quite a bit. Which is fantastic and a superb thing to have nowadays. And that’s the part of the movie that works fantastically.

Then we have the emotional component. And yeah, the word ‘component’ describes it best. There is a lot of heartbreaking stuff going on but it often feels very constructed and not really organic. For his past movies Nolan often got criticized that they have a rather cold and technical feeling. And I tend to agree. Did it make his movies bad or less enjoyable? No, they were fantastic. So with Interstellar it felt like he desperately wanted to prove the critics wrong. There are emotional scenes in the movie that work. Especially the one when Cooper says goodbye to Murph. That’s a hard scene and really well acted. But then jump to the end when he finally sees his daughter again… this scene is so desperately trying to be emotional but it feels cold and rushed. If I were Cooper in that situation, seeing my now over 100 year old daughter again, I wouldn’t be able to stay on my feet. The flood of emotion in that moment would bring me to my knees and make me cry. Not even a close reaction from Cooper there. Not a single tear. Instead his daughter (in the movie it feels almost immediately) sends him out to search for Brand (Anne Hathaway) who’s now stuck on an alien planet.

This movie has so many parts I have problems with. In the movie we just left Earth and got through the wormhole and already the main objective is to get back home as soon as possible. The mission didn’t even start really at this point in the film. In the last 5 minutes of the movie Cooper makes the impression as if he’s starting to think that he doesn’t belong into this (for him) future world anymore. Which is, to a degree, relatable. A lot of things changed since he left. So he steals a small spacecraft to fly back into the wormhole to look for Brand on the other side. Why does he need to steal it? Why not setting up a complete new mission? I don’t see a reason why future Earth wouldn’t agree to that. And to go back to the beginning of the film. Even after three days of thinking about the movie I don’t understand the logic of Earth in this movie. We are told that Earth isn’t in good shape. Duststorms and the whole climate changed. Energy is low. And they say that in a couple of generations mankind will either starve or suffocate because there aren’t enough plants left to produce oxygen. But when Cooper is looking for NASA and drives into the mountains… there are forests… lakes… it all looks like it’s supposed to look. Which again is so inconsistent that it just stuck out for me.

For the space part I think what it ultimately comes down to is Exploration. The only moment that feel of ‘adventure’ comes up is when they land on the first planet. There is some freaky tense stuff going on that shows some great concepts and the audience is exploring something new along with the characters on screen. But that sequence were 15 minutes out of a 168 minute movie. I wanted more of that exploration stuff happening. I didn’t get that and I guess that also plays into my mixed feelings about this movie. Show me stuff that will stun me. Amazing vistas in space and on alien planets. And while there are some really great scenes in space that create a lot of scope/scale… I completely missed that when they were on the planets. Yeah there was that giant wave but hey… seen that before. The frozen clouds thing was cool. But I feel that they haven’t done a lot with that idea. That place just looked grey. A really stunning vista view landscape matte painting is what I would have loved to see there. I was literally waiting for something like that. But it never happened. You tell me about realism all you want but I need that in a movie like this one. A visual element of wonder.

Now you could argue that ‘suspension of disbelief’ is crucial for this movie. And I would almost say no to that. I couldn’t get to that point. The movie didn’t let me get there. The movie tries so hard to be sort of accurate/realistic when it comes to its science but it lacks consistency in all the other departments. That’s frustrating because I really wanted to love that movie. Instead it’s just a ‘good’ movie.

So ultimately there are two movies in Interstellar. A scientific movie that manages to play with some really interesting ideas and portayed these very well. And a movie that’s about emotions, love, leaving stuff behind and the struggle to get it back. So when I left the theater I felt that I needed more from both of these movies to fully embrace Interstellar. There are so many ideas and concepts in this movie that it felt like none of it was explored enough to satisfy me. It rarely happens that I leave the theater and immediately am able to pinpoint what’s wrong with a movie. In this one I immediately knew. Which is really really weird for me.

It is a GOOD movie. But it has some problems the movie is not able to make me overlook. And normally I’m the first one going “yeah you know it’s because… blah”. I just can’t do it here. =)

Go out and see it. It will deliver some ideas and concepts that may blow your mind. It’s well acted and technically very well executed. And not 3d… thank god.

A solid 7.8/10 for me.

Interstellar on IMDb

Alien: Isolation – Review

November 11th, 2014

movie reviewThis game was a lot of fun (PC Version)! How can something that scares you and keeps you constantly on edge be fun you ask? Well, that’s the key with these survival games. You have to be a fan and you have to approach this kind of game in a special way. Of course I’m a huge Alien fan and love the universe that Ridley Scott’s Classic introduced in 1979 and was continued by James Cameron in his more action oriented ‘Aliens’. Why I mention the two movies? Because they’re very radically different movies, handling the same subject.

The games industry would of course focus on the action aspect of the Alien franchise and most prominently use the Colonial Marines side of things, we get to see in James Cameron’s film. I must admit that I missed the console and arcade game era and the first Alien game I played was ‘Alien Versus Predator’ that came out in the late 90s for PC. This game was tough. If you didn’t move forward it would keep on throwing hordes of Aliens at you. Something ‘Call Of Duty’ even does today. It’s a cheap mechanic but hey, it was an Alien game… AWESOME! Was it fun? Well… more frustrating. Was it scary? Not so much. A couple of years later came AvP 2. That one was fantastic. I had a good time with that game. Then, nothing for a long time. Two or three years ago then came AvP 3. I bought it expecting to have a good time with it. But it wasn’t. After reading all the bad reviews of the 2013 released ‘Colonial Marines’ game I pretty much gave up. How can these people NOT create an awesome Alien game? Something that solely focusses on the Alien universe, without the Predator aspect. And why does it always have to be the god damn Marines? Why not try something different? Why not focus on what the films made so special and the first movie a classic? The ALIEN!

Well, now in 2014 I would say we finally got the Alien game a lot of die hard fans waited for. It’s not focussing on the Marines and their insane weaponry. No game that wants us to beat the crap out of some Xenomorphs. Absolutely not. Instead you are a young woman who’s an experienced engineer, in an extremely vulnerable situation, just trying to survive. You are the prey of some strange creature from space. And you are not able to kill it. The creature is superior in almost every aspect. All you can do is to avoid it at all costs. If you can’t, there is not much you can do.

Alien: Isolation is set between Ridley Scott’s 1979 ‘Alien’ and James Cameron’s 1986 ‘Aliens’. It tells the story of Amanda Ripley. She’s the daughter of Ellen Ripley who is played by Sigourney Weaver in all the Alien movies. After the events in ‘Alien’ the flight recorder of the Nostromo is found. So Amanda gets contacted by Weyland Yutani (the company that owned the Nostromo) and invited for a trip to a deep space station called Sevastopol. That is where the flight recorder has been brought by a crew of scavengers. Weyland Yutani is a mega-corporation that seems to have a very special interest in everything extra-terrestrial. Amanda of course wants to find out what happened to her mother 15 years ago. So she and a small team want to find out what’s up and are in for a surprise when they arrive at the space station.

The station is owned by a company called ‘Seegson’. Throughout the game we find out more about the history of the station, the company and also about how they wanted to compete with companies like Weyland Yutani. The station was on its way to be decommissioned and so the crew on station is already very reduced when Amanda arrives there. The station immediately has a graveyard vibe to it. Plus the fact that the station has this Alien problem to deal with. For quite some time in the beginning there actually happens nothing in the game. All that’s done there is building atmosphere and kind of tutorial you into the game. Immediately you have a chance to explore the environment and enjoy the fantastic lighting and design. Since the game is pretty much limited to interiors the designers had a lot of resources to use for creating complex lighting and atmospheric effects. It completely pays off. I read one review saying that the game needs a ‘Visitor’ mode… so you can stroll through the station and enjoy the sight. Especially since you don’t have a lot of time to enjoy the environments when the Alien is hunting you.

On your journey through Sevastopol you not only have to deal with the Alien. There are also humans, scared shitless and shooting at everything that moves. We also have the ‘Working Joe’ Android that’s kind of a maintenance bot for the station. These are controlled by APOLLO which is some sort of Operating System for the station. Much like MOTHER for the Nostromo from the Alien movie. These Androids more often than not see you as hostile and try to kill you. Now while you’re able to kill humans rather quickly… the Androids are a different thing. It gets really tricky when you have to deal with the Androids and the Alien at the same time. While other humans can be a welcome distraction to buy you some time when the Alien attacks them… it doesn’t care much for the Androids. Then you need really good timing or an item that helps you to lure the enemy away.

Said items can be crafted. Molotovs, Noisemakers, Pipebombs and Healthpacks can be crafted with materials you find throughout the station. But be careful not to waste them! Other items like ammunition for your Revolver or Flamethrower cannot be crafted of course. There is also an Electroshocker that helps to disable Androids for a few seconds. That allows you to violently beat them down. That’s a pretty intense scene. You could also shoot them but you need a lot of ammo and that would be wasted. Overall it can be said that it’s best to avoid contact with the bad guys at all. Often enough that’s not always possible. And that’s what creates these stressy scary moments that make your heart-rate explode.

Something this game also does is reinventing ‘how to open doors’ in games. I don’t know exactly how many doors I opened in my playthrough but it were a lot. It didn’t bother me much since it’s probably a realistic thing for a station like the one we’re on. It also shows that Amanda is an engineer that knows how to use her skills. Which brings me to a game mechanic that also creates a lot of tension. Actions need time. When you open a door, pull a lever or even save your game… it takes its time. It’s often only a couple of seconds. But when you’re at a savepoint and you hear that sound of the Alien appearing behind you, that creates quite a thrill. Or when you’re looking around in a room trying to find resources and a quick peek on your motion tracker tells you the Alien is about to show up… that sprint to hide in a nearby locker at the very last splitsecond… very thrilling. Then sitting in that locker and watching how that creature is trying to find you and how it (almost paranoid) looks around in that room. That are the moments I always wanted from an Alien game. It’s that cat and mouse game with something that will eventually catch and kill you. Luckily it’s just a game!

Since I liked what Creative Assembly did with this game I looked around watching and reading a lot of reviews. When the game is criticized then it’s very harsh. AI problems, GFX problems, unfairly placed savepoints and the Alien being too predictable. At this point I would have to ask: what version of the game these critics actually played? I encountered none, really NONE, of these problems. Especially the Alien AI is remarkable and only in very rare cases predictable at all. The game can be unfair if you don’t play by its rules and have a good amount of patience. And I guess patience is something that becomes lost more and more? Looking at today’s media… I guess so. And unfair savepoints? I had no problems. This game simply wouldn’t work if you were able to save at all times.

The game does have flaws. Human characters in the game aren’t very fluidly animated. As if they wanted to save some cash by not investing it into some solid motion capture. Civilians you sometimes encounter don’t feel like persons and are nothing more than placeholders. A wasted opportunity to create some emotions for the survivors on station. Also, while I personally didn’t mind it much, I have to admit that it uses a lot of backtracking. Some locations have to be visited multiple times to do something or to get something. There were two or three times where even I thought that it’s a little too much. On the other hand it’s a nice way to let you see and explore more of the station. I wished they also would have had a little more interaction with the station personell in general. There is a passage at the beginning with an NPC that was actually nicely done. Maybe it’s an idea for a sequel to implement a mission where you have to find a person and try to protect them. That would be a nice chance to bring in a character (other than Amanda) you actually really care about.

Ultimately, yes it’s not a perfect game. But when it comes to the Alien material it’s the best we ever got so far. Creative Assembly took some risks with creating a game that’s so different in its game mechanics than any triple A title that’s out there right now. Even with the difficulty on Easy it’s not a sleepwalk through the game. There are a couple of passages that can be quite tricky. When you find the right flow though and use everything you have to distract enemies… you have good chances to make it. It’s also important to use your map and really check out the environment for escape routes or places to hide. The game gives you enough to understand when to be quiet and hide or when to go out and look around. It’s a game that believes in its audience and I think it already found its audience. And that specific audience loves the game. I do love it!

There is a lot to like in that game. It’s not flawless and some might call it repetitive. But I still enjoyed the hell out it. For me it’s the perfect connection between the movies Alien and Aliens.

Scifi & Fantasy Calendar 2015

October 31st, 2014

Scifi & Fantasy Calendar 2015

It’s this time of the year again! Yet again this years calendar contains pics that are new and pics that are personal favourites/classics. Some even featured in magazines or books from AROUND THE GLOBE! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. I’m sure all of these pics will be a nice companion to your (hopefully) glorious and successful year 2015!

For More Info
Click Here
Scifi & Fantasy Calendar 2015

Regards

signed

Snowpiercer – Movie Review

October 15th, 2014

movie reviewHere we have a movie that first got my attention through some internet buzz it received throughout the year. A movie that didn’t get a wide release and only made it into selected theaters. It turned into a sort of ‘insider tip’ and I placed it on my radar. Now that radar made ‘blip’ and I had a chance to see it. I even watched it twice. It’s a very solid production that certainly would have made its budget back in no time. It even did (world wide) with just its limited release. Studio interference held it back. Which is a shame.

The movie is about a train that carries the last small portion of humanity that’s left on Earth. Due to an experimental try to reverse global warming, Earth turned into a refridgerator. In said train it’s a strict hirarchy that separates poor from rich people. After 17 years and lots of attempts to overthrow the rules it’s time for another uprising. The poor people, living in the back of the train, forged a plan to break through to the next part of the train. Of course the more privileged population of the train wants to keep the less privileged in check. With passion and some luck the orgainzed attack is a success, they make a first step and break through the first line of defence. But it’s a long way to the front. We follow a small group and learn a lot of things about what the train is about and how it all works. Which is a good thing, as we learn this new stuff step by step along with the characters we follow. Every now and then a new secret is revealed and moves the story smoothly from beginning to end.

I think it is a movie with some high ambitions. It wants to make a point about the current state of humanity or civilization. How a civilization works. What a civilization has to do, to be successful. There are sacrifices to make. And do these sacrifices define humanity? And ultimately… (and maybe I’m reading too much into it) are we worth it to be saved? All these ambitious questions crammed into a scifi action movie. Does it manage to get it right? Well, I would say ‘almost’. For movies this ambitious there are higher standards than for just an action movie. There are a couple of things in the movie that fall apart if you think too much about. The movie does explain a lot of things and tries to justify why things are how they are. And depending on how much you’re willing to think about it, these explanations work or don’t. I think the term “Suspense of Disbelief” is appropriate here. If you’re able to suspend your disbelief then this movie will be a fun ride, along with some challenging topics. Topics that couldn’t be more current if you’re willing the check the news and how our civilization is also more and more separated between poor and rich.

Beside these serious topics it’s also an entertaining movie that gets a lot of things right. A lot of nice fight sequences with good action. Very creative play with the idea that we’re on a train. Given the fact that there was only very limited space to organize the shots, the camera work is nicely done. There definitely is some good filmmaking on the screen. Also on the screen are some nice VFX shots of a frozen outside world. Mountains, landscapes and cities that once were full of life now lie dead in a white sheet of snow. The execution of the VFX shots is ok and completely sufficient to the needs of the movie. So from a technical point of view it’s a pretty well done film.

There are also a lot of big names in this movie. Ed Harris, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton and Chris Evans. I like all of them and I have to say that everybody did a very fine job in this movie. Chris Evans, who’s the main protagonist, has a chance to show that he got some range as an actor. He did that in earlier films like “Sunshine” (which I love) but I feel that since then he did not have a real chance to do more emotionally enganging parts. I want to see more of that Chris Evans. The other names aren’t just there for one scene either. No ‘stunt casting’ so to say. All of them play important characters and are significant to the plot of the movie. It’s a strange and great combination of actors that does indeed work well.

So all in all it’s a movie I would recommend to everyone. Yes, there are details in this movie that don’t make 100% sense but why should it? It brings up valid topics that are worth some discussion. And if it manages to invoke these discussions amongst people that normally don’t talk about topics like in the movie… job successful. GO see it if you have a chance!

7.8/10

Snowpiercer on IMDb