OXCGN’s Alien Director’s Cut Review


Revisiting the Classic

As Alien Isolation hits shelves, a lot of people will probably be revisiting the first movie in the franchise, Alien, to refresh or renew their grasp of the events before the game. We thought It’d be valuable to provide a bit of a recap and review of the original film, out now on digital stores like iTunes and Google Play, so as to tell you, frankly, why this film is so great in the first place, even thirty-five years after it’s theatrical release.

The narrative follows the crew of the Nostromo; a commercial ship on its way back to earth that makes a stop on a nearby planet to investigate a distress signal. What they discover there throws them into a nightmarish scenario; isolated in space being picked off one by one by a mysterious and terrifying creature. The beauty of the story is its overall simplicity that lets the atmosphere take over.

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The crew is made up of seven people, featuring the talents of Sigourney Weaver, Jon Hurt and Tom Skerritt among others. As they try to work out exactly what they’ve stumbled upon on this planet, and what they’ve indirectly allowed on their ship, we see the cast really come into their own. The central character’s role, that of Ripley, has come to be one of the best bets and iconic performances in sci-fi film, and set the trend for a lot of the female leads we see in more modern films.

The aspect of terror in the piece is the Xenomorph, or ‘Alien’. Even in it’s singular presence, this creature is such a powerful being, near invisible but huge, strong and beyond deadly. As it sneaks around the ship, killing the crew one by one, we are presented with a model for how scary unknown creatures could be. The camera shots used, and the close-ups of the alien in the dark are scenes that even up to today retain a surreal horror. This really is a film that doesn’t feel as old as it is (aside from all that 70’s tech!).

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The notable improvement in the Director’s Cut version of this film is the audio. Besides the few inconsequential scenes and the touched up video, the sound design has been given a new life, which is exactly what is needed to keep this film relevant against its more modern counterparts. From the little creaks and jitters of the ship, the subtle change in tones of the score, right down to Ripley’s heartbeat, all of these little details form a part of the iconic atmosphere this film has become known for.

When all of this comes together in one film, it’s nothing short of a triumph. It revolutionised sci-fi horror at the time, and even know continues to show it’s influence. The original 1979 Alien film is an example of near perfect sci-fi; it manages to create an atmosphere of terror to keep audiences on edge even with the outdated special effect thanks to it’s retouched audio, and its something that even new viewers will get a jump out of.

9/10

The release of Alien Isolation is the perfect chance to revisit this film, with the two working quite well together as complimentary pieces, continuing the tale of Ripley on to her daughter, Amanda. The game works well to capture the vision of the original film, retaining the same atmosphere, and may be the first Alien game truly worth of it’s namesake.

Review conducted via DHD Download Code supplied by Frank PR.

Jayden Perry ©2014

OXCGN’s Braveheart – Limited Edition Re-Mastered Blu-Ray Review


Celebrating 20 years

With a year till the anniversary of the 20th year since Braveheart was released, Paramount Pictures have decided to release a re-mastered blu-ray version, so that audiences across the world can watch the classic at home in 1080p high definition.

Braveheart is based on the tale of William Wallace who seeks to aid in freeing Scotland from its plight of the English led by Edward Longshanks. After seeing his wife murdered under the hand of the nobles of his village, he began a quest to free the Scottish from the rule of the English. With only a hundred man ramshackle army, Wallace uses his battle prowess as well as his tactical knowledge of the battlefield to outsmart the enemy and consequently win the battle at Stirling whilst being faced with all odds against him. Due to this, Edward is taken aback by the turn of events and begins to plot how to defeat Wallace using trickery and such…

Braveheart is released on the 26th of June, in re-mastered limited edition Blu-Ray gift set as well as being available for the first time in Digital HD. So be sure to head into stores and buy a copy to see how the story ends.

Pros:

+ The quality and reworking really enables the audience to feel the emotion

+ More clarity throughout the whole movie

+ Details are crisper, even with the background environment which contained predominantly bleak grey skies and static dark green trees.

+Sound quality was exceptionally enhanced, giving a great sound experience so that you really get into battles and scenes.

Cons:

– A constant graininess to the image is seen throughout the whole film

– Brings new light to the outdated-ness of the film – special effects used in the film were easily seen

– The upscale won’t tend to amaze audiences that are used to movies being made in 1080p or higher

TL;DR

Personally, the movie for me has always been a great, when I heard the film was to be re-mastered for blue ray, my day was made. By using the technology we have now, it has enabled the editors to really bring the essence of Braveheart out, allowing audiences to connect on an entirely different level to the story of William Wallace. The sound quality is amazingly clear and even though there was a graininess to the movie, it never impeded my willingness to watch the movie or distract me from the movie.

8.5/10

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OXCGN at the Movies: Divergent Review


There’s an art to losing yourself…

Divergent is a movie not afraid to embrace it’s subject matter. Based upon a series of young adult novels by Veronica Roth, it manages to keep up a good story, great acting all while maintaining the increasingly darkening tone of the world.

Set in a dystopian world, humanity has been separated into five unique factions to maintain peace, with each faction responsible for different parts of society. These five, Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless and Erudite, represent specific values such as selflessness, bravery or intelligence.

Upon ‘coming of age’ young adults take a test to determine their sorting, then choose a faction, and this is where heroine Triss finds out she doesn’t fall into any one group. She is one of a rare few ‘divergents’, possessing characteristics outside of just one faction’s systems, seen as a threat to the world order. Upon leaving Abnegation and choosing Dauntless, the brave faction, she must fight for survival both in an increasingly hostile faction and amongst the elevated political tensions boiling below the surface.

Triss (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James), the two leads

The story, whilst not bringing too many new things to the formula, certainly crackles along well. It allows the two central actors, Shailene Woodley and Theo James, to perform well in their roles, but the real shame is that even these two have nothing on the leads we’ve seen in rival movies like the Hunger Games.

The young adult influences are very clear throughout, with a budding romance and teenage female lead. These ideas are explored well but not to any great depth. The dark tone of the film is nice to see however, choosing to embrace the world rather than dancing around the darkness for a younger audience.

Visually the film looks great, with each faction having a unique feel and set of colours. From the depths of the Dauntless training fields to the dizzying heights of a zip line scene, there are some really impressive cinematic moments throughout. Similarly the decrepit world has a crumbling beauty to it, with skyscrapers and ruined landscapes contrasting with stark modern structures. The soundtrack is also well put together, even with the large amount of currently popular songs it still managed to compliment the film.

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The stark, modern housing of Abnegation nestled amongst more current day structures of the world.

All in all the movie is a good one, but in a world where similarly themed movies with a higher quality like the Hunger Games exist, it just feels like it should have been more. The story is well done, with enough twists and exciting moments to keep it crackling along well, but occasionally falls short to explain itself. Despite that, Divergent is well worth seeing and provides an intriguing first entry to a whole new world to be explored further in future instalments.

Pros:

+ Strong leads

+ Decent narrative

+ Great visual world

Cons:

– a few poorly explained plot points

– doesn’t add to or surpass similar genre films

7/10

©2014 Jayden Perry