Battling Inhuman Opposition in Alien Isolation

Title: Alien Isolation
Developer: Creative Assembly
Distributor: Sega
Platforms: PC, PS4, XBOX One

Verdict: 9 (out of 10)

The following review is based upon my experiences with the XBOX One version of the game.

The motion tracker picks up movement, though there is no discernible location. The erratic pings indicate whatever life form is nearby is coming from all directions. I cannot see it, but I can hear it – in the walls. The ceiling quakes as foot steps are heard on the floor above, dust falling before me as the light flickers, interrupted by the weight of whatever is upstairs. I can only imagine what is pursuing me, but I would rather not, as an animalistic scream, like nothing I have ever heard, broaches the atmosphere. Remaining crouched, to minimize the sound of my feet, I finally get to the elevator, a raucous noise emanating from within as it begins to make its descent. The elevator nearby suddenly opens, and as I approach, two humans make their way out into the open, each suspiciously observing me, their fists raised. We stand off, waiting to see who will blink first. I raise my motion tracker, noticing there are not three life forms in the vicinity of the elevator; there are four. Lowering the device, I spot the tail of an alien life form dangling in the vent shaft behind the humans in front of me, which is retracted as quickly as it appeared, the animalistic cry again piercing through the air. The humans run, the elevator still yet to arrive. The sound of something being torn open is heard over the creaking of the elevator doors, as I rush inside to push the button that will raise the lift, the sound of heavy footsteps approaching reverberating across the walls. The sound of Ripley’s heartbeat is erratic in my ear, and I cannot help but wonder whose is beating faster; mine, or hers? As the elevator moves onward, I heave a sigh of relief. For the moment I am safe, but in less than thirty seconds, the process will repeat again.

This is just five minutes of Alien Isolation, a game which perfectly thrusts you into an atmospheric nightmare, where the hiss of a pipe, the drip of liquid, or the clanging of a ventilation shaft, could be sure signs of the xenomorph’s proximity. This is intensified by the foreboding soundtrack, the unsettling ambiance indicating that something terrible is approaching. That tight knot you feel in your stomach as you find yourself moving down a corridor, is fear, and Alien Isolation cranks up the juice until you’re retreating into your chair, and temporarily forgetting how to control your bladder.

I didn't know tongue was optional on the first date...

I didn’t know tongue was optional on the first date…

For me, I have always been a fan of intelligent horror movies, including recent additions to the genre: Insidious, The Conjuring, Dark Skies and Mama. What makes Alien Isolation so terrifying however, is that you are not watching as a temporary visitor to this fictitious world; you are instead, up to your eyes in it, and in a game that is capable of spanning more than twenty hours, the tension is certainly enough to unnerve even the most hardened horror veteran. I actually had to laugh when my father, who is often bored by horror movies, leapt several feet into the air, the first time the alien came charging down a corridor towards him.

Upon beginning the game with the Kinect attached moreover, I was notified that if I wanted, the Kinect sensor could detect the sound in the room. As an example, if I were to sneeze, speak, or suddenly receive a phone call, the alien would track the noise, rendering the safety of home, obsolete.

What makes Alien Isolation even more disconcerting, is the immense difference it has when in contrast with other survival horror titles, including, The Suffering, The Thing, Cold Fear and Dead Space, where the character is bestowed with a wealth of fire power. In Alien Isolation though, the severely limiting resources and lack of offensive armaments ensue flight rather than fight is the most common response. Again, unlike in these other titles, Amanda Ripley is bathed in fear as she constantly fights for her life, the sound of her heavy breathing or thumping heart bursting through your ears. In this sense, you truly become the character, and in doing do, you not only witness evil, you feel it, crawling up and down your skin.

This is made even more hectic by the situations you are frequently placed in. Occasionally you need to memorize codes to unlock doors, or use a blow torch or specialized device to hack into a locked area (people who have played the Dead Space games will witness a similarity here), all the while attempting to operative covertly and quickly to avoid being detected.

The graphics additionally assist in developing the terror. Sweat covers the faces of human characters during game and in cinematics alike. Locations appear and feel as they have previously in the first two alien films, but especially the original. The cloaking darkness fills you with a sense of despair as you attempt to fathom what could be hiding in its depths, but light itself also fails to provide you with a sense of comfort. Despite been armed with a flashlight (although batteries in the future are apparently no where near as powerful as they are today), I infrequently found myself using it, with even the darkest areas becoming visible after my eyes acclimatised to my surrounds. Unlike in traditional horror movies where the dark is never your ally, in Alien Isolation, if you are anything like me, you will feel marginally safer when in darkness, rather than traversing around with a source of light accompanying you, which serves as the perfect tool to be spotted sooner.

Furthermore, similar to an adventure title, there are lots of opportunities to scavenge random items about the environment which can then be used to build an assortment of pieces, from health packs, pipe bombs, to EMP grenades (which unfortunately require eight separate items to be constructed). Ripley can only carry so much of each item, however, none of it is unanimous, with your character only carrying three of one item, while having the ability to hold five of another. In this sense, your choices on what to craft, are as essential as your choices on which corridor you move down next.

Occasionally though, it is imperative to explore other locations where checkpoints may not be available, for in these areas, equipment blueprints may be uncovered, and if you do not find one, then that particular item will be henceforth unavailable to you for the entirety of the game. Similar to a number of the survival horror titles I mentioned above, rather than the game automatically check-pointing your progress, Ripley needs to do this for herself by finding save stations on her journey, which are normally only located in the direction of primary objectives (hence straying off the path to find items becomes quite the gamble). I know GameSpot in their review mentioned there were few checkpoints available, however I would argue against that. Checkpoints are often spaced rather close together. What makes it so difficult, is that an area that might normally take four minutes to travel through, may take up to twenty, when you are attempting to sneak around an enemy. This leads me to another disagreement I have with the statements made by GameSpot. Their claim, was that you infrequently see the alien. I strongly disagree. Although every person’s experience will be different, there were several missions, one after another, in which all I ever did was see the persistent life form as it proceeded to hunt me down, time and time again.

Bulletproof, and equipped with a very bad attitude, the alien tracks the player not only by sight, but by sound and smell as well. You would think Amanda would have this knowledge herself, and yet, when going to hide in a locker, she violently flings it open, before slamming it closed, and anyone in the vicinity would have to be tone deaf not to hear the ruckus. Hiding, in this sense, as you are sure to discover, is never a permanent solution.

Distractions, including flares, smacking walls with your equipment, and creatable machines that make random sounds, can be thrown to temporarily lure the alien’s attention. The alien however adapts to the tactics that you use, and after a while, rather than choosing to investigate the flare, the creature will instead choose to investigate where it originated. It certainly is no fool, and although the motion tracker helps give an approximate location, not only is this device loud, and very bright, but it isn’t always accurate. On more than one occasion, I confirmed the alien was moving in one direction, but, without my knowing, it double-backed, and I ran right into it.

Humans and synthetics alike also prove a common threat (though there are exceptions, with the occasionally helpful individual), with synthetics especially proving to be a difficult foe to dispatch. Despite having the capacity to be thwarted (you can escape into a vent and travel out the other side without a synthetic knowing), the amount of damage they can take is astronomical, and unless you have a shotgun, or an EMP, it is perhaps a recommendation to avoid acquiring their attention at all costs. Later still, there appear synthetics immune to EMP grenades altogether, making the journey even more strenuous, so even after having mastered a specific technique to defeat a particular combatant, you are then required to again, alter your tactics.

Alien Isolation is a terrifying descent into a stress-provoking environment, and if you happen to suffer from an anxiety disorder like I do, the game does nothing but unnerve you further. Although sometimes environments might feel repetitive, and on rare occasion there may even be a graphical anomaly, Alien Isolation captures vulnerability and terror perfectly in this sci-fi horror masterpiece.

Riddick Review

I never did believe that Pitch Black was the best movie ever, and ironically, even though the Chronicles of Riddick was seen as a flop in the eyes of Universal, it to this day remains one of my all time favorite movies; in fact, it was this particular film that caused me to admire Vin Diesel professionally as an actor and inevitably have an avid fascination with every film he has been in since.

The one thing I have always appreciated about Riddick in general, is that he is the traditional anti-hero, much like Mad Max. Although Riddick is essentially an American creation (and I do not mean to be negative) but Americans always love their heroes – they are always patriotic and willing to lay down their lives to save the day for no reason at all other than the fact they simply can. Riddick will do this of course – but he wants something in return, which is the true definition of an anti-hero.

For anyone who has been a massive fan of the franchise thus far, then like me you may very well have been waiting with bated breath for the better part of a year for the film to finally be released. Riddick is more like the original Pitch Black, and for those like me who preferred Chronicles, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that you wouldn’t like this film – after all, there is still plenty of bad-ass Riddick action going on for any fan of the franchise to enjoy.

Right from the very beginning, the film captures the attention of its audience as Mr. Diesel efficaciously commands the screen as usual with his powerful presence. Originally starting with Riddick being marooned on an unknown world, Riddick not long afterwards remembers how it was that he managed to find himself on such a hell hole.

Riddick, who is tired of running and tired of being the lead commanding officer of the Necromonger horde asks Vaako (Karl Urban) for assistance in finding his home planet of Furya. Instead, Riddick finds himself in the middle of a violent coup for power, inevitably resulting in him being left for dead after the betrayal he didn’t see coming. (Instead of writing a small portion of information about the movie here, I have placed it at the end of the article. I would not call this a spoiler per se, but some people reading this may find the information unnecessary. If you wish to know, proceed to the end of the article).

For the first half an hour of the film, Riddick adjusts to his new surroundings, which includes striking up a partnership with an alien dingo who eventually becomes his companion. Fans of Chronicles may remember Riddick befriending a creature on the planet Crematoria, and this is no different. Perhaps this was deliberately orchestrated to provide some humanity to Riddick’s character, for in previous films Riddick was often fighting alongside Jack and other comrades he met along the way.

Unable to stay forever on the planet, Riddick eventually finds a bounty hunter station and activates the distress beacon which brings two mercenary shuttles down atop of his head. One group is led by the violently deranged Santana (Jordi Molla), whilst the other is commanded by Boss Johns (Matt Nable), and those familiar with Pitch Black may recognise the familial similarity in the name, providing a clue as to why he is seeking Riddick out.

Upon the mercenaries arrival, Riddick’s role overtime becomes a little shorter, appearing every so often during scenes as the film begins to focus primarily on the mercenaries. This can seem a little strange; naming the film ‘Riddick’, and yet the lead character is absent from at least a third of the film, if not more. This may have something to do with the fact that Mr. Diesel seems to be quite the busy actor at the moment, with a sequel to Fast and the Furious franchise in the works and another XXX on the horizon. Perhaps on occasion Mr. Diesel was needed elsewhere to ensure that his other perspective films were released on schedule?

This however does allow the mercenaries to be explored and their opinions of Riddick to be known. This gives the audience the opportunity to decide whether they believe Riddick is the scary monster all of the mercenaries visualise him to be, morals being one of the key principle driving forces of the film.

However, the question of whether Riddick is the real bad guy he is made out to be is overshadowed by the extraterrestrial scorpions that inhabit the planet, who seem to have a fondness for mammals – or more aptly, the meat that mammals have on their bones, and the eventual confrontation between these creatures and everyone else is quite an impressive showdown.

An unnecessary feature of the movie though might very well be that every woman in the film with the exception of one shows off their breasts at one stage or another. Dahl (Katee Sackhoff) additionally is a character that seems to be developed in an incredibly peculiar way. Being very verbose about her sexuality, it is awful strange that Riddick shoots her a few sexual references over the course of the movie, visualising a potential want to have a romantic relationship with her, and her occasional one-liners about this may cause the viewer to wonder whether or not writer David Twohy knows the definition between a lesbian and a heterosexual.

Again, Riddick is more like Pitch Black, but this in no way means that it is not entertaining. The special effects are fantastic, and the tenseness of the film is very well articulated. The addition of more blood for the viewer’s pleasure is enough to empower the action scenes with extra bite, and the occasional profanity allows more realism to be incorporated into the scenes, both of which were absent from Chronicles.

Any fan of the Riddick franchise should feel quite at home with this particular film, and fans of science fiction should additionally have a fair amount of fun with this new addition to the series. The film is left wide open at the end for a sequel, and maybe if we are lucky Universal will put some time and effort (and money) into a possible fourth edition. Fingers crossed!

All in all, I give Riddick a 4 out of 5.

 

INFO FROM MIDDLE OF DOCUMENT: For those who are fans of Karl Urban’s work (and I am one of them) you may be disappointed to learn that Mr. Urban only appears in one scene at the beginning of the feature. Upon Riddick been cast down upon the planet, all of the Necromonger’s leave and you never see them again. I really liked the Necromonger’s as the enemy in Chronicles and maybe we will have the opportunity to see them again if a sequel is promulgated.

Cruise across the desolate remnants of Earth in the new sci-fi feature ‘Oblivion’

 

Title: Oblivion
Distributor: Universal
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Stars: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Leo

More Entertaining Than: Moon

Less Entertaining Than: Avatar

Rating (out of 5): 4

In 2077 the Earth is a desolate waste. An antagonistic alien enemy destroyed the moon, and in doing so, this caused the Earth to turn against the human race; earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. Then the invasion occurred and it was at this point that humanity retaliated with a full nuclear offensive strategy. This ultimately won the war, but the result was the destruction of the planet. Most humans, those that survived, now live on Titan, Jupiter’s largest moon, whilst a few humans stay behind on Earth to watch over its decommission. These small teams watch over the water pumping stations that turn the remaining major bodies of water into usage energy, and additionally ensure that the defense drones that protect these huge operations run flawlessly. The alien scavengers, or what remains of them at least, are still out there and in no way can they hinder the operations humanity has taking place on Earth.

Jack (Tom Cruise) awakes from a dream; a memory actually. Before being stationed on Earth his memory was wiped as to ensure that if captured by the enemy, they could extract no useable information from him about his mission. Julia (Olga Kurykenko) was there, as always, her memory haunting his dreams as he attempts to understand what she means to him.
He makes his way out from the station he resides upon and soars above the ground in an attractive cruiser, whilst Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) remains back at the station to monitor his progress and report everything that happens back to Sally (Melissa Leo) at Command, a mysterious figurehead observing the entire mission. But when Jack is captured by the enemy, he finds himself in the presence of Beech (Morgan Freeman) who opens his eyes to the truth; and in one moment, all that he once knew is shattered completely.

As always, the banter between Tom Cruise and his fellow actors over the longevity of the feature is entertaining, well scripted and timed. The emotional connection that one character has with another throughout the feature is an incredibly powerful drive that keeps the film moving forward. True, the numerous action scenes and very attractive special effects efficaciously aid in establishing the audience’s attention to the film, but it is the emotions that run throughout its heart.

Mr. Cruise often seems to choose roles that involve being romantically involved with a beautiful young woman, and this film is no different. Right from the very beginning the film introduces us to a love story and tells a tale about a love so strong that one doesn’t have to know a person; one doesn’t have to have met a person; one doesn’t have to be even near a person, to love them more than life itself, and this is continued through to the very end.

On top of this, the film is a story of sacrifice and choice and the immense and incredible power of the human will to survive and the resolve to live free without tyranny or oppression from foreign enemies.

Some may be disappointed to note that there are no ‘aliens’ per se to be seen, so don’t go into the film expecting any little green men. Instead, the battles that take place are often between robotic entities that rove to be just as merciless as any alien could ever be.

Adjunctively, one needs to see the film through to the end to grasp the entire storyline, for this is not a stereotypically easy narrative to understand, and the only way to acutely comprehend all that has happened throughout the back story and all that is happening over the duration of the film is to see the feature through to the final frame. Throughout the film some occurrences and story elements may make little sense at all, but I can promise you that by the end, many of those lingering questions will finally be allocated answers. I can also promise you that the film’s conclusion will most certainly leave you smiling.

Apart from being a thrilling sci-fi action romance, the feature is adjunctively proof that actors the likes of Mr. Cruise can still be counted on to appear in films of an astounding caliber and that actors the likes of Ms. Kurylenko deserve more cinematic roles rather than ones on the television.

My Star Wars Episode 7 Rant-a-thon (in which the writer goes insane and is taken away by men in white coats)

 

I have never being one to come out with my own opinion every time an occurrence that could be described as ‘breaking news’ is dropped upon society. So, with that said, perhaps people who read this might find it in their heart’s to forgive me if I suddenly appear hypocritical as I analyse my thoughts on the seventh episode in the Star Wars saga that was unveiled last week.

The biggest thought crippling me so may very well be one that other fans of the sci-fi franchise have thought frequently since the new title was announced: why? Of course, many of them (I know I did) may not ask the question in such a gentle, or be it, formal way, with perhaps a few profanities being blasted at the thought of this new feature.

Let’s face it – and the fans will probably agree with me – Star Wars ended perfectly.

Although I myself had doubts about how Episode Three could successfully lead into the original installment, I was amazed at how well crafted, engineered and written the end of the new series successfully followed through into the old.

Adjunctively, the storyline that pushed the new series along beautifully made sense when in contrast with the original series, with the plot, storylines and characters all coming together in what could only be described as ‘magical’. Although there was a lengthy hiatus between the end of the original series and the beginning of the new, I personally could not have asked for a better Star Wars franchise.

So, on that note, again, I ask why? Why must a new film be written and directed when obviously, there is no need for it? Of course, those who can smell the tarnished scent of money and power will obviously be able to answer my question. Why? That’s simple – with George Lucas selling the rights to his franchise to the major movie monopoly Disney, it is obvious that this humongous conglomerate wishes to cash in on as much economical gratification as it can.

To renew the audience’s love of the franchise and to prove that life still exists in the old dog, it is a requirement of Disney to release a new film as to whet the appetite of old and new fans alike. However, is it a requirement of Disney to perhaps heinously tarnish the reputation of this inspiring series as well? I certainly hope not.

Additionally, buying the Star Wars brand from Mr. Lucas would not have been cheap – and they obviously require compensation for that which was required to gain such expensive film rights.

Now, Disney fans may read the paragraph that came before the one directly above and suddenly perceive me as a pariah. However, allow me to say this. I don’t doubt that someone could write up a storyline that could perhaps compliment the franchise. I don’t doubt that Disney has the budget or the special effects crew to successfully deliver to the audience amazing graphics and imagery. I simply doubt the point to this entire exercise.

There are other ways that Disney could have brought new life into the franchise (which by the way they are pursuing with talks of a couple new TV shows happening) without them having to develop a new film. So, with that said, here are my questions (and comments) in regards to the idea that I have been generating – why? Additionally, how and what will be involved in the promulgation of this film?

One – Episode six of the saga came out in 1983 – by my count that was quite a while ago. My point? Well, do I really need to elaborate on this obvious ideology?

The actors who portrayed the primary characters in the original franchise would have matured considerably. Mr. Ford, who portrayed the plucky Han Solo is 70 this year, whilst Mr. Hamill who portrayed the revered hero Luke Skywalker is somewhere in his mid sixties, whilst Ms. Fisher, a.k.a Princess Leia being either 55 or 56 (I’m not totally down on the low down).

Now, I realise that with digital effects these days anyone of any age can look brilliant (Digital Jeff Bridges), but even with that said, I cannot imagine Mr. Ford running around a set like he used to, blasting away storm troopers, making out with his girlfriend and cracking jokes with his fellow hairy companion.

On this note, due to the longevity of time between episode six and seven, how do the writers intend to attribute this into the feature? Will the old gang be the lead protagonists once more? Or will they be in the background, with a new group of younger protagonists ready to steal the stage?

Two – Obi Wan Kenobi made several appearances in the original series as the spectral guide to Luke Skywalker, beneficially aiding him in his quest for knowledge and aid. Now, Alec Guinness is unfortunately no longer a part of the acting community, God rest his soul, so who might they choose to portray him in this new feature?

Seriously, Obi Wan Kenobi was in all six of the films! You cannot make another without him! One might imagine that Mr. McGregor could reprise his roll, with some digital effects to age him; however I doubt the likeness will be successful.

Three – Will Lando Calrissian be making an appearance?

What about other characters, the likes of R2-D2, C3PO, Chewbacca and other protagonists from the saga?

Four – Yoda – quite possibly one of the single most lovable sci-fi characters ever conceived. Will Yoda appear as a specter from the Netherworld of the Force? Addendum – Frank Oz earlier this year stated that he no longer wished to do any voice acting roles that involved him portraying the character Yoda. So, if our ‘little green friend’ as a certain Sith Lord once called him makes a surprise appearance in this new feature, who will voice him?

Five – Twilek women. Come on, they’re gorgeous! Will any of them appear? I guess it will be asking too much that Aayla Secura returns from the Netherworld of the force, right?

Six – Does anyone recall the character Kyle Katarn? Those who read the fan fiction may remember such a name, but, more importantly, those who played the ‘Dark Forces’ games certainly will recognise him.

Appearing in the original Dark Forces game as the central protagonist, along with his pilot, Jan Ors, who flew the vessel the Moldy Crew from one mission site to the next, Katarn was initially an Imperial, who came to the realisation that what he was doing was wrong. Becoming a mercenary for the Rebellion, he remained primarily neutral throughout the war effort, however did efficaciously aid the Rebellion by stealing the plans for the original Death Star, and discovering the threat of the ominous ‘Dark Troopers’, who were a significant upgrade of the regular Storm Troopers. Those who played the multiplayer game ‘Battlefront’ will recall this particular character class – well, those who played Dark Forces will remember they were far more bad ass in that – and creepy. Baring in mind I was considerably younger when I played the original game, so to have a giant man in a suit flying towards you with a plasma gun with a rocket launcher attachment was especially creepy.

Then, in the sequel, Dark Forces II Jedi Knight, Katarn discovered his family’s connection with the force and trained himself to become a Jedi, fighting against the ruthless Sith Lord Jerec and his numerous municipals. It was where this story ended that the fan fiction began, with Katarn befriending Luke Skywalker, the two of them establishing Jedi training temples together, although Katarn, fearing the dark side of the force, eventually handed his light sabre over to Skywalker and turned away from the powers of the Jedi.

My point – will the seventh film introduce characters that were not in the original film series, but played significant roles within the other forms of media based texts that were conceived in regards to the original Star Wars universe, such as Katarn, Ors, and others?

If so, they could rehire Jason Court, who played the character of Katarn during the cinematics of the second game, and, who additionally is the person that all versions of Katarn have being based upon since the release of the second game.

Other characters could very well be Zac, Tash and Uncle Hoole from the Galaxy of Fear franchise, after all, often in almost each text they did interact with the lead protagonists from the original film franchise, and it was Luke Skywalker himself who convinced Tash through his amazing Force abilities that she should attempt to control her own and become the Jedi she always wanted to be – just a thought.

Seven – Will the vile Huts be present in the feature?

Eight – Will characters the likes of Ahsoka Tano and others who were specifically in the Clone Wars TV show make an appearance in the film?

Nine – In regards to the Sixth question, in which I made reference in the dark Jedi Jerec, it is obvious that the universe is potentially filled with other members of the Sith code. My point? With the death of the lead antagonist at the conclusion of the Star Wars saga, who will take up the role in this new feature?

Ten – An overview, rather than a question; Disney are most notably known for the creation of features that are targeted towards a younger generation. True, films the likes of Tron Legacy and John Carter are quite mature in regards to other features and are enjoyable for all ages, not that their other films are not, but Disney will always ensure that their films can appease a younger market, not just an older one. Might this factor get in the way of successfully developing a new Star Wars feature that is reminiscent of its predecessors?

Thank you for reading. I hope my rant did not prove too deranged.

Also, I would like to mention one final statement – when the seventh film is released, I will attend the theatre and watch it on a cinematic screen, and if the new film proves to be a spectacular blockbuster, I will personally develop a new post saying how wrong I was to rant about it and how meticulously well conceived the film was. If the film doesn’t prove to be a blockbuster – well, don’t hold your breath on any positive posts being postulated in regards to it.

What thoughts do you have on the development of a seventh Star Wars film? Do you believe it to be necessary, or a waste of time and money?

Do you agree with any of my rants, from 1 – 10? What are your opinions? What might you want to see in this new feature that was present in the original six films?

I would like to know your thoughts!

It’s been a long time coming: John Carter on DVD and BluRay Review

 

I realise that the film ‘John Carter’ has been out for some time now, a statement which is probably most true for any country that does not begin with ‘Australi-’, but over here in the land of down under, John Carter only recently made its way onto DVD and BluRay. I had been originally planning to see the feature at the cinema, but the reviews of others inevitably put me off. Even Disney itself, the major corporation involved in its orchestration had explained two weeks after the release of the film in America that the project, which had consumed a budget larger than 400 million US dollars had only raked in a total of 140 million over the course of the two weeks it had been out in the US.

So, with that said, I personally did not want others to be blinded by the bias of reviewers like I was. I usually am not the kind of guy to be influenced by the words of others (the Age back in 2009 gave Avatar a 3/5 for Chrissake!), but on this one occasion I have to admit that I unfortunately was, and am not too impressed with this at all. All I can say is that from now on I will try to do my best to keep an unbiased opinion, and not be influenced by the words of those who are no doubt paid to critique the shit out of anything and everything, and be quite negative about it too.

As for myself? Well, after what I have written, and what I intend to write, I think it would be quite obvious that I actually enjoyed the film. Yes, after been influenced by the fact that it would seem a large percentage of reviewers loathed the product, I wanted to create a piece that reflected my own, rather contradictory opinion to the stereotypical normality. I mean, none of the pamphlets from major stores around where I live have even advertised the unveiling of the product on DVD and BluRay which officially came out on the 4th of July. With those kind of marketing practices, things are looking kinda bleak for John Carter’s future.

For those who have not seen the film, John Carter is a sci-fi, romantic action extravaganza in the tradition of films the likes of James Cameron’s Avatar, Disney’s Tron Legacy, Dances with Wolves with Kevin Costner, and the Last Samurai with Tom Cruise. The feature is based upon the novel ‘a Princess of Mars’ by legendary sci-fi writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, who wrote an entire series, comprised of eleven novels. If you have read the book and are familiar with the series, then you may enter the film with many expectations and may come out disappointed, so I would suggest you walk into the film with little to no expectations and wipe clean from your mind any prior knowledge you have on the subject matter.

However, do not allow the ‘Disney’ logo to upset you. Recently in my opinion, Disney is becoming more and more mature in the creation of products that are able to provide the entire family with entertainment. The children can enjoy the comedy and the visuals, and the adults can appreciate the detail of the storyline. Everybody wins, and I think Disney deserves an ocean load of Kudus for being able to accomplish such a thing.

The film revolves around, as the title might suggest, a young man named John Carter who is a Captain in the days when the wild west was beginning to die away. Originally trained and hired to fight in the Civil War, and later still the Native American Indian tribes of America and later still anyone else the army and the country wanted from him, he returns home to find it is not quite what he left.

Played by Taylor Kitsch, who at the moment is seen as Hollywood’s antagonist, the film is already given a bad reputation with all of the unbelievable jargon that has been hurled against this actor. With almost all of the films he has happened to star in over the past couple years visualised as flops, and with the media witting articles the likes of ‘Kitsch for Kitsch’, which is just downright mean for lack of a better word (in Britain, kitsch means ‘shit’, so one can understand what this article is attempting to illustrate), things are not at all looking too bright for the future. I however am yet to see Battleship or any other feature Kitsch has happened to star in, so I cannot comment on any such arguments that have been made against him or his acting in these particular movies, or the issues that are associated with the films he has chosen to participate in.

Hired once more by his government not long after his return, Carter feels more comfortable however wanting to look into a ’cave of gold’ he has discovered, money being something of grand significance to him and his prime motivator in these dark times.

Escaping from his captors and pursued by Native Americans, he finds his way back to his ‘cave of gold’, only to be set upon by an alien visitor who instantly attempts to take his life, Carter been forced to defend himself. Unfortunately for him, in all of the confusion he happens to trigger a teleportation device that sends him from Earth, all the way to Mars, which is quite unlike the planet that we know and love.

The world is at war, with three great super powers vying for a piece of the pie. These include the likes of the peaceful people of Helium, the imperial, antagonistic forces of Zodanga, and the eight foot tall, four armed, green skinned aliens known as Tharks, who are a combination of the Navi from Avatar, the Twi’lek from Star Wars and a Walrus from Earth.

Upon arrival on Mars, Carter finds he has the impressive ability to leap incredible distances, and is additionally endowed with formidable strength to match. All of this is due to his human bone density and his weight on the planet’s surface. Initially captured by the Tharks, the tribal leader of the clan, Tars Tarkas, played by Willem Defoe, sees exponential potential in his abilities, and later, the other factions on the planet too recognise the potential that he carries. The title of the film moreover, and the ‘JC’ symbol, would suggest that Disney is heavily attempting to endow the character John Cater with a sense of extraordinary Godliness.

Discovering from the Tharks the war that has raged upon the planet, it is no surprise that Carter initially refuses to participate, knowing full well the repercussion that he was forced to endure in his past from fighting back on Earth, which is rather beautifully portrayed throughout the course of the feature in flashbacks. Ironically enough, after said refusal, Carter inadvertently happens to walk straight into the war upon having a chance encounter with Helium princess Dejah Thoris, played by Lynn Collins.

Discovering that the people of Helium are in mortal danger at the hands of Zodanga, Carter find he has quite a decision to make after appearing on the radar of Mar’s enemy number one. Sab, played by Dominic West, is the Zodangan Warlord who is attempting to reign supreme, and decides that he will spare the people of Helium a grizzly fate if Princess Thoris chooses to marry him. Escaping from his vile clutches, which I guess was her way of saying ‘hell no!’, she falls into the hands of John Carter, later explaining to him that she can help get him home, which is exactly where he wants to go back to.

However, she, like many of the characters of the film, has an ulterior motive. She wants Carter to help her people, just like Tarkas wants him to help his. Funnily enough, the other antagonist in the film, Matai Shang, played by Mark Strong, wants Carter to get back to Earth as well, fearing his abilities could prove quite resourceful in the battles that lie ahead and could ultimately destroy the plans that he and his shadowy brethren have put in motion.

Discovering that the way back home may not be as easy as ‘one, two three’, Carter finds that he can either sit back and watch Mars inevitably destroy itself, or choose a faction to fight beside. Due to the fact that the film is based around a war, it is safe to say that the film is partially more violent than other Disney features you may be familiar with, with a small portion of blood almost always covering a certain part of your hero’s faces.

Moreover, just like with Avatar, one look at the film will forever alter your perception on what a Hollywood film company can accomplish in a movie. The film’s special effects are absolutely flawless, unsurpassed even, and are beautifully detailed, the vibrant world of Mars coming to life before your very eyes with unbelievable description, the sheer intoxication of the visuals being something out of a dream. The gorgeousness of the design is only surpassed by the feeling that surrounds you as you watch the feature and are mesmerised by the physicality of its design, for you won’t just see the beauty of the Martian planet, but feel it, as it travels up and down your spine.

This is to be expected from a film with the Disney logo on it, and just like with other Disney features, the way the film is written will be able to appeal to all ages. There are moments of humour, both verbal and slapstick that will appeal to children and adults alike, and about half the time you will find yourself chuckling at one thing or another. If you’re not chuckling, then your mouth will probably be partially open as you gasp in awe at the special effects as mentioned previously.

That is not to say however that the action is not present, which it certainly is. There are pieces of sci-fi mumbo jumbo been utilised by all manner of races and some pretty quirky flying vehicles that are a combination of butterflies meeting the winged beasts from Avatar. The characters however feel more happy using swords rather than guns, and that makes for some brutal close up and personal scenes. Well, brutal by Disney standards at least, which is not saying much because the ability to draw blood in a film with the Disney logo is about as easy as pulling teeth out from a live Great White Shark. On occasion though, these fight scenes may end too soon, and leave you wanting just a little bit more.

Humour, action and special effects aside, the film works best when it is being straight up romantic and emotionally powerful. Yes – as with many Disney products there is a romantic story to be found which is one of the more powerful themes, and you keep wondering when and if something might happen. When Disney is playing with this concept seriously rather plan toying around with other ideals in a more comedic manner the film is no doubt at its best. I will admit, the film will not draw you to tears, but you will no doubt feel touched by the affection and deeply connecting storyline that is told during these moments of Disney greatness. By the end, you may feel that it is one of those cheap, romantic endings, but who really cares when you are on the verge of bawling your eyes out?

Moreover, in regards to the actors, Defoe does an impeccable job, as per usual in his acting, proving not only that he can successfully act his way out of any situation, but that he is just as capable as playing motion capture as he is playing in a normally filmed feature. Lynn Collins on the other hand plays a ravishing blue eyed alien princess, who, with her gorgeous good looks and her fancy sword fighting skills will no doubt have the hearts of fan boys racing across the globe, and for numerous different reasons.

Additionally, Samantha Morton appears in the feature too as Sola, a fellow Thark and a sweetheart who is frequently tortured for putting toes out of line, who joins the fight with Carter and the others when the going gets serious. As usual, Morton proves she can change her accent as easily as I can change my clothes.

As for the other characters, almost all of them are not quite as well focused upon as those previously mentioned, and sometimes you might have to wonder why Disney even bothered to choose such a star studded cast when one, their parts are quite small, and two, due to the digitalisation of the characters, half of the actors you won’t even be able to recognise. I mean, if you were not told that Tars Tarkas was been played by Defoe, you probably wouldn’t even suspect him to be in the film period.

One thing I would note that could have perhaps been done better is the heightening of the film’s bad guys. True, they are present, but the film focuses so strongly on the major protagonists and barely has enough room for the stories of the enemy that at times you may find yourself forgetting them entirely. However, when they do appear, they often make up for their lengthy hiatus by attempting to do something either really cunning or quite unpleasant, and Matai Shang is especially an intelligent villain who is capable of even besting the one, the only, John Carter in a couple instances.

As for the release of the film on BluRay and DVD – as with many Disney features, the dialogue between characters is often incredibly soft. However, as soon as the music pipes up and the actions starts rolling, your choice to put the volume up to ‘32’ seems to have been a bad one as you find yourself blown across the room by the sheer thunderous force of the digitalised sound quality.

All in all, I cannot find too much at fault with this film, and perhaps that is my deteriorating eye sight, but I am at a loss as to why other reviews manage to criticise the living tissue out of this feature. The film has supposedly been in the works for about two years and has jumped around from one company to the next, and if you ask me it has almost certainly been worth the wait to finally add it to your movie collection today.

Oh, and be sure to keep an eye out for John Carters’ Martian pooch – quite possibly one of the most amazing animals ever in cinema who is destined to join the ranks of Lassie, Beethoven and Lucky.