Darke Reviews | Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

It actually took me almost two hours to decide what to write about this one. Most of us are familiar with the abomination that was the original trailer. Just in case you wanted nightmares tonight here you go:


This trailer formed one of the few universal truths on the internet, that being Sonic was a horrifying CG mess. The studio all but immediately vowed to fix it without changing the release date. Now if you don’t know much about the industry you’d think “so whats the big deal, its just CG.” I wish that were the case. As it stands most studios are dealing with 11th hour production changes, after already burning the midnight oil and their staff, and are also generally the lowest bid to complete the effects. A not insignificant number of smaller studios go out of business after some productions. So when we complain about horrific CG, like say the Black Panther final fight, that would be an 11th hour (read weeks/days before the release to get it fixed). CATS, which I refused to see even on curiosity (irony?) was in editing up until hours before the premier.

I told you that to tell you this. The studio who picked up fixing Sonic, “Moving Pictures Company” (MPC) and turned THAT into this…shut down its entire studio in Vancouver this December. That’s after the redesign work and the positive comments from the internet from their work. (source: CinemaBlend). Why? Because they barely made a profit from the work.

Image result for sonic before and after


All of this is important to understand when you consider the movie as a whole. It means that one of two things happened with the production. Someone at the head of the studio thought original design was perfect and didn’t need any updates; which implies they didn’t listen to anyone with an inkling of sense or they really didn’t care. Option 2, less likely, but far more insidious, is that they dropped a horrific trailer and knew it was bad but wanted the press. Then spent the money to fix it. The first is more likely and quite honestly more expected. We’ve seen it time and time again and will continue to do so.

What I don’t get is why? Paramount, the studio who is the lead on this production, barely has a leg to stand on box office wise. Not a single movie last year of their eleven broke $100 million. Rocketman was closest at $96 million and is in 32nd place in total gross.. They completely have destroyed any faith in most of their major IPs, like Transformers and Star Trek. This years bets aren’t looking so hot for them either with The Rhythm Section being a massive bomb (still disagree, but facts are facts) and only pulling in 5 million so far (ouch). Like a Boss with a whopping 22 million isn’t exactly stellar when a movie like Knives Out, in its 5th week by New Years, has pulled in 29 million this year. They have 16 movies this year and they have to be banking on the fact that A Quiet Place II does something and Top Gun: Maverick does as well. I mean one of their productions is a new GI Joe movie?

I am talking about all of this to try to help you and myself make sense of what myself and one of my Dark Court watched today. I thought the first twenty minutes or so were actually pretty solid. Good intro for Sonic. Good intro for James Marsden, who this movie owes it’s life to. Comical introduction of Robotnik was ok until he spoke. I leaned over to the member of my Court and was like “ok this movie knows what it is” with a Leslie Neilsen esque Airplane style joint chiefs meeting that checked off more cliches in two minutes than some movies do in two hours. I was wrong. I was so so wrong.  Marsden is the most charming thing in the movie. Sonic is entirely puntable 90% of the time, and the 10% is actually very bearable. If it weren’t for the new look this would be even more of a train wreck than it is.

I am not sure what writers Josh Miller and Patrick Casey (writers of Transylmania, a vampire movie I won’t even watch) were going for. Buddy Cop? Family Road Trip? Pure Kids stuff? A plot? They achieved none of these things. Writing is hard. Trust me I get that, but you have friends, you have others look at it. Hopefully someone goes “so …..I have some questions” and you take that and go. This did not happen. I could maybe fault Jeff Fowler the director in his first cinematic picture, but something tells me he had studio notes, a horrible script, and no one who could help him. Like the direction in the movie is not the worst and Jim Carey when told to combine all his various previous life personalities has to be hard to direct, especially if starstruck, but…yeah.


This movie is a bleeding hot mess. It is not a good movie. It’s not even an adequate movie. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t entertained. There are a few moments of joy and smiles to be found sure, but when those moments are gone the movie is pure cringe. I wish I knew why studios had no faith in Video Game movies. Many popular games in the past few decades have quite a bit of lore and story to them and studios want to ignore it. Yeah there’s actually a story to sonic beyond running and collecting rings.

Instead we’re given yet another “Masters of the Universe” where we put our character on Earth, ignore anything of interest from the original material and create…this.

I was told by the Manager of the theatre he is hearing good things. Maybe if it was from kids, who were having a good time in this. There is just not enough meat here for an adult to enjoy so I am asking who is this movie for?

Should I see it?

If I thought the animators would see even a penny for their work – I would say yes. Since I am not sure – thats a no from me

Would you see it again?

I barely want to remember seeing it now.

So…not buying it.

That would be correct.

Is it really that bad?

It didn’t anger me. It’s just badly put together. I am more annoyed and confused by it than hating it. It exists. It’s on the same caliber as Super Marios Bros and He-Man, but still better than anything Uwe Boll did.

Here – the trailer for the good cartoon. I am going to find my happy place in my crypt.





Darke Reviews | Pokémon – Detective Pikachu (2019)

So two or three weeks ago when I went to the movies, my cinema partners (I really need a tagline for you two), saw the trailer for this movie in front of something else we were watching and looked at me and said “We’re seeing that” almost in unison. I had been generally ambivalent towards it, with a bit of curiosity, but no real drive to go see it. I didn’t grow up with Pokemon, and even then I preferred Digimon at the time. I had no particular affinity for the series of games, the card game, the cartoon, and had never watched the movies prior. Ryan Reynolds is funny, but my history of comedy and such does not a guarantee of watching make. The interest of my friends (fiends?) at least pushed the scales out of balance and had me see this tonight. Did they use their powers for good or for ill?

Was this movie the very best?

What? I always go for the joke/pun question if I can. I’ve played Pokemon Go, I’ve heard the theme song. I said I didn’t grow up with it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know anything about it. Though in a feat that defies logic a movie that not only violates my three writer rule, but punts it across the arena. The movie has a total of seven credited writers between story and screenplay, granted two are repeats and one is the director. We have a story by Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel), Benji Samit (The Tick, One Day at a Time), and Dan Hernadez (The Tick, One Day at a Time). That gives us the baseline for the story and honestly it has a really good through line being as straight forward as it is. This is predominately a kids movie with a lot of material for the millennials (and anyone) who love Pokemon. The story was then polished into screenplay form by Samit, Hernandez, Derek Connolly (Safety Not Guaranteed, Jurassic World(s), and Kong: Skull Island), and director Rob Letterman (Monsters vs Aliens, Goosebumps). The combined pedigree of the movies writing and direction could have either been a hot mess or a 2019 version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

We got Roger Rabbit.

The story of a kid who turned his back on Pokemon and the generally accepted order of the world, then gets pulled back in after the death of his father. He is forced to work with his fathers partner a Pikachu that he alone can understand, where everyone else hears the adorable Pika Pika. He meets multiple colourful characters and Pokemon along the way as the unlikely duo uncover the mystery and discover a bigger plot in the course of their investigation.  Like I said basic, but it doesn’t have to be complex and what is complex is naturally so.

Ryan Reynolds we already know can carry a movie without you ever seeing his face thanks to Deadpool, but can he do it kid friendly? Of course he can; but he doesn’t have to carry the movie. Justice Smith does. This confirms that Justice was not served in Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom. The kid (OK, he’s 24) has some serious range and has to deliver quite a bit of it albeit at a direct surface level for the movie, but he does so. Kathryn Newton who looks far younger than 21 years old, does her best Gracie Law impression as a hard boiled reporter determined to get her story. There are other actors to talk about, but they exist to serve the story and you just need to enjoy.

Now you might have noticed I referenced Big Trouble in Little China and Roger Rabbit so far. The movie shoots for a vibe between the two and nails it. It understands 100% that this concept is ridiculous and is determined to play it all with a straight face. It brings in all the noir tropes and uses them to its advantage with a lampshade big enough to cover a Snorlax. Visually the movie is incredible. We have never seen the CG and real integrate to this level and with this degree of clarity honestly since Roger Rabbit. In literally every shot there is significant CG elements but you forget that as you watch. They work within the context of the world and that’s all that matters. There are a few weaker elements, but they don’t take away from the overall narrative or enjoyment of the spectacle.


The movie was super effective. I have favourite parts, I have parts I didn’t care for as much. There are a few scenes that dragged, but overall myself and my cinema partners tonight had a good time and enjoyed the movie. They both are far bigger fans than I and had the opportunity to be more harsh but they enjoyed it and me mostly blind did as well. I was proud I could name roughly half the Pokemon they showed, then I just listened as the two of them started talking about stuff from the Pokemon first movie. This must be what it sounds like to hear me go on about my cherished nostalgia.

That’s important though. The movie did evoke that in them and me who is only cursorily aware of the story was still entertained. This very much is a kids movie as I mentioned before, but there is a lot for all ages in here. Maybe one joke didn’t land for me, but that’s not a bad average. Again as I mentioned in the deeper dive the movie is visually gorgeous with so much computer generated but feeling like a real lived in world. Much props to the visual effects houses on this one.

Should I see it?

If you like Pokemon, played Pokemon, or just want something that isn’t as heavy as Endgame? Yes. Bigger brighter screens recommended. There’s a lot to take in.

Would you see it again?

Yeah probably. Not likely, but I would.

So would you buy it then?

Absolutely. I could see myself watching this a few more times in the comfort of my home.

Is it that good?

It has flaws sure, but the overall package is really solid. This isn’t a great movie, but it absolutely is good family entertainment that uses a licensed property in a good way.

One last…

Actually question for you readers! ….Should this be considered a Video Game movie? If so…..sound off below on Facebook or the comments here.

…also if so – you might have your best adaptation yet.

Darke Reviews | Rampage (2018)

The video game movie. A long Hollywood tradition of pain and misery, with rare gems rising to the top of a pile of well something. Much like I opened with on Tomb Raider a few weeks ago there are video game movies that don’t suck; that said they usually have a story to them. There are only a few movies based on games started in the Arcade first; and we don’t talk about Double Dragon in polite company.

Yes – thats The Chairman on the right…

The hair. The eyebrow. It’s too much dahling.

So here we have Rampage. Someone, somewhere thought lets take the game of three mutated humans turned monsters beating up Illinois cities and turn it into a major motion picture event. Then someone else said “Ok. Here’s $50 million dollars.” I think I am in the wrong line of work some days when I point stuff like that out.

So should you insert a coin to start?

The movie has a total of four writing credits thus invoking my Rule of 3 for writers rooms. The story was by Ryan Engle who disappointed me with The Commuter and Non-Stop for Liam Neeson. Engle also gets a screenplay credit with three other men. Carlton Cuse (San Andreas, Brisco County Jr., Colony), Ryan J Condal (Colony,  Hercules), and Adam Sztykiel (Due Date, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip).  With this combined pedigree and multiple writers on a concept such as Rampage, this movie should be an absolute train wreck with wildly shifting tones, weirdly spliced scenes, and cringe inducing dialogue; and somehow its not.

Rather than humans who mutate into the monsters, they have animals mutate into significantly larger aggressive hybrid animals. The humans should be and largely are second fiddle to the creature carnage the movie brings. The dialogue is not much, but a few of the lines really work and will make you laugh – especially with some of the delivery. This is not a complex movie here and the concepts are simple and the writers played into those strengths to their benefit with only a handful of human driven moments that do “ok”. The real surprise was the fact the movie addressed consequence for actions (karmic and otherwise) a few times and left me and my partner for the night rather pleased.

Now the humans themselves are, ok its the Rock, you just want to see the Rock. It’s all good. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is charismatic as ever here, knows full well the movie he is in and delivers everything the trailer promised you and more. Naomi Harris does well with her role as a Doctor who had her hand in the creation of the mutagen and she  holds her own with him. The final standout is Jeffrey Dean Morgan ( Supernatural, The Walking Dead) who also knows what sort of movie he is in and goes for the most fun, hammiest – yet entirely in world and in character – performance he could. He worried us at first, then when they let him cut loose he just is all kinds of fun.

Director Brad Peyton (San Andreas, Cats & Dogs 2: The Revenge of Kitty Galore) clearly has a love for mid and late 80’s action movies. He shoots sequences that are nothing short of absurd but played straight, and straight sequences with a sense of humor. There’s an early scene (non spoiler dont worry) where a guy is handed three weapons in the span of a minute walk from his car to a chopper as if its nothing, all the while some action hero music from Predator or Commando plays in the background. If you pick up on it – you’ll laugh at the ridiculousness of it, if you don’t you will be rolling your eyes at just how close to over the top it is.

This of course brings us to our creatures, Lizzie, Ralph and George. They look GOOD. Yes, you know they are CG, but the effects team blended them into the real world rather well. Your brain tells you this is computer, but it is interacting with its environment like its there effectively. The people in that environment look part of the scene (most of the time) as well. Its good use of colour correction where they brought up saturation levels just right.  While were on the topic of technicals, the action is magnificently glorious and easy to follow. There sound designers deserve a raise as during loud sequences you can often hear someone in the background saying something entertaining. You will find plenty of game easter eggs as well to a pleasing degree.


Rampage gave me everything I wanted and a good bit more. This is the grab the popcorn and a drink of choice, sit back, turn the brain off and enjoy for an hour and a half. There’s not much more to say about it – it is just sorta fun and kept the promises the trailers made.

So should I see it?

Yeah. It’s a good time at any price. I would be curious how DBox or XD sound plays with it, I think they’d enhance the experience.

Will you see it again?

Being honest with myself, probably not in theatres, but before you ask yes I am going to buy it.

So the video game movie is good?

Yes, because it doesn’t try to rise above its overly silly concept but also doesn’t deride it either. It embraces it and all its merits and flaws and runs with it with abandon that should be cherished. It’s not quality cinema folks. Some movies can just be there to purely entertain and this does that in spades.

If you have the time and inclination go on a Rampage this weekend.


Darke Reviews | Tomb Raider (2018)

Ah the video game movie. A classic in the cinema, usually panned by critics and laughed at by audiences. Movie studios have a history of abusing the video game titles to the point that the reputation has stuck, but let me present you with some that actually don’t suck.

  • Silent Hill – Not the sequel with its hug off.
  • Mortal Kombat – fight me on this one. Its fun. It hits the beats of the game. Christopher Lambert is awesome.
  • Resident Evil – again the first one. Captures the spirit of the game. The sequel isn’t completely awful. The rest…oof.
  • Tomb Raider – the original Angelina Jolie one. Watch it again and tell me exactly how off it is from some of the ridiculous premises of the video game series itself?
  • Warcraft – It was dull, not bad.

So now we have a new Tomb Raider, clearly based on the the 2013 relaunch of the franchise and with a surprisingly high budget of $94 million – that is still less than was spent on Assassin’s Creed.

Should it have stayed buried?

Written by Geneva Robertson-Dworet, who makes this her first script to screen. It doesn’t look like it well be her last though, as she’s attached to cartoon to film adaptation Visionaries, ROM, MASK, and comic book films Silver & Black and Captain Marvel, and a 2021 Dungeons and Dragons movie?  With this list, I had to dig and find a bio for her to make sure it wasn’t some kind of Alan Smithee, but there’s even an Interview. Which is fantastic as we need more female screenwriters in the geek zone. I’d love to interview her some time myself. She sounds awesome.

Also on the script duty is Evan Daugherty, who gave us Snow White and the Huntsman, Divergent, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The picture of this movie comes together now. Geneva also gets a screenplay credit, along with Alastair Siddons (thats an awesome name) who makes this his first theatrical outing with only Tresspass Against Us (2016 film with Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson).

They pick up and took running with the task of literally adapting the 2013 game story to the screen and tripped.  They did get the new Lara right personality wise. They got her first kill right (guys not a spoiler. You see her fire the bow at people…you think she missed?). They just forgot about a few things in the process. Getting to the point for one as its nearly 40 minutes into the movie before they make it to the island and while some establishing of who Lara is is required it drags too long. Then once on the island, they neglect to truly show her resourcefulness which is one of the key elements of the game. No one can reasonably expect to see her dealing with wolves, deer, rummaging through chests and upgrading her weapons and equipment for the two hours, but – escalation would have been nice. Showing she’s not just book smart, athletic, but also cunning. They really did forget that.

I don’t mind some of the character study and the reluctant hero, but there was too much of that and not enough well….tomb raiding.

Director Roar Uthaug gets some of the blame for that. I am a fan of his 2015 film The Wave, which is about a landslide caused Tsunami in his native Norway. It too is more of a character study with good pacing around that, then the event , then the after effect. Had I known the director going in I may have managed my expectations a bit more, but it wouldn’t have changed my opinion too much. Between the script and the overall pacing of the film, plus an Act II plot that is totally unneeded the movie just comes across kind of flat.

Not that Alicia Vikander doesn’t sell being Lara. She does. She has the physicality I was hoping for, she happens to be one of the most beautiful women in the world (in my opinion), can act and is able to deliver on parts of the script or scenes that are otherwise weak. She feels like a reasonably real person in this rather than pure action heroine. She makes a fantastic Lara and yes, is better than Jolie in the part. Dominic West (Centurion, Punisher War Zone) is mostly wasted in his role as Lord Croft, as is Walton Goggins. I like Goggins, his turn on Justified has given him plenty of opportunities on the big screen such as The Hateful Eight, Maze Runner, and American Ultra. He tries but the script and probably some editing hamper him from fully realizing as the villain.

Which brings us to the technicals which I just have to sigh. The Visual effects are better than the first trailer and in 3D some of them look rather nice. The pacing is horrific however, which comes down to the editing and scenes decided to keep in. Which brings me to something that I think half the critics will pick on when they get the chance – DONT OPEN WITH NARRATION IF YOU ARE GOING TO INCLUDE IT WORD FOR WORD 10 MINUTES LATER. There will be some who complain the fight scenes are too dark, but I am oddly ok with it when its night and you are fighting. What I am not ok with is shaky cam, plus night, plus quick cuts. Pick One. Pick two maybe, but you can’t have all three and let your fight be appreciated.


It’s not the best video game movie. It still isn’t the worst. It comes across as a solid meh. Tomb Raider commits the worst sin it possibly could – it was dull. There’s joke reviewers make when you do remakes and reboots, don’t include homage to the original material – it just make us think of a better movie. The same is kind of true here. There are so many calls to the game, but they fail to commit to actually delivering on the promise the game did. They fail to give us tomb raiding, clever and educated Lara. All I was thinking of watching this was how much I’d rather be playing the game.

They tried guys. They did. I give them credit for it, because I can see the effort put in. I can see what they intended to do, but I have to judge on what they did do.

Should I see it?

Matinee at the very best. 3D not needed, otherwise you can wait til it’s on Netflix or your source of choice.

Will you see it again?

Not in theatres no.

So you’re buying it?

There’s enough I do like, despite the dissection above that odds are good I will.

Ok, but its a video game adaptation what did you expect?

I get that. I do. You can’t take a 10 hour plus game and cram it into 2 hours, but you could have done it better. When 40 minutes are wasted with set up and establishing the character in ways that could have been done shorter or more effectively. When you don’t fully commit to your adaptation in a meaningful way that embraces some of the true supernatural weirdness of the games you’ve done some thing wrong.

How does it compare to the other two?

Since the reboot takes a more realistic tone while still embracing the supernatural it’s not apples to apples. The original movies were over the top and so were the games. It worked. This just doesn’t quite as well. It’s watchable, but not nearly as fun as watching Angelina Jolie and Sir Jorah flirt while threatening each other.

Next week?

I am bracing for the impact that is Pacific Rim 2. I don’t think it looks great from the trailers on a visual front and when I want to see Giant Robots beating on Giant Monsters and other Giant Robots – you need to LOOK good. It’s a time I want some style over substance.

Darke Reviews | Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)

Final review of January. Final (?) chapter of the Resident Evil franchise which began 15 years prior.  It seems this month, which is usually relegated to dump slots for the studios has, in addition to its usual role, begun serving this year as the franchise test for long running, often lamented, or forgotten franchises. We had Underworld, xXx, and now this. To their credit each of them have been able to maintain their original star, despite waning bankability as a name. Technically Diesel is still bankable, but only within known franchises. His forrays outside of his own franchise have not done well, even if they were fun. Granted the franchises he is in (Furious, Guardians of the Galaxy) might as well print money. Jovovich is not so lucky, and I was surprised to find she hadn’t been in a major project for a few years. So this makes her first major on screen appearance in almost 5 years, again as Alice.

So should this movie have been put down before it started?

The film is written and directed by the man who started it all…and somehow continued it all – Paul W.S. Anderson, not to be confused with critical darling Wes Anderson. Paul, is also the one who…gifted us..yes thats a good word, with the Death Race remake and AVP: Alien vs Predator and Pompeii. Conversely, he also gave us from the directors chair, Soldier and Event Horizon. In my review of Pompeii I covered that I find most of his bad movies guilty pleasures. Actually, they aren’t bad – they just aren’t cinematic masterpieces. Which is acceptable, as some movies are there to help you escape. It’s why, despite critical and audience appraise I won’t see Hidden Figures. The story is incredible, the acting incredible, the pain very real. The history more relevant than ever, but I often find myself in the movie to escape the real world and real world scenarios. Even with that need for escapism I expect, and so should you, a certain level of quality and care.

There’s something of that here. I get the impression, unlike Uwe Boll, he isn’t doing it for a paycheck. There’s a passion here for this world and this universe he’s crafted over six movies. Granted, from a writing standpoint he’s retconned (Retroactive Continuity adjustment) multiple elements of the story between 2002 and 2017 and this is no exception. The first 8 minutes of the movie, yes I checked my phone, are literally retelling and adjusting the story accordingly to bring everyone up to speed – much like the last two Underworld movies did.  I wonder if anyone is planning to see this who hasn’t watched the others though? The plot is about as thin as cheese cloth, but unlike the past several films when it comes to our heroine herself and her arc – there’s caring involved. I was pleasantly surprised to find that her arc was brought full circle and while she’s still a killing machine – she is not a totally invincible killing machine. I won’t say there’s a lot of complexity but there is a much slower focus as the movie progresses.

Now….while the storytelling and pacing of the movie are surprisingly richer than I thought, the um…camera work for fights and monsters. Yeah, so that was a choice.  It is next to impossible to see what, if anything, is going on for 90% of the fights and creature shots. I understand that the budget is lower, I understand you have a grand vision, but I would caution you to to figure out how to make more practical. If you can’t make it look good – figure out another way!

From an acting perspective – it’s Resident Evil 6. None of the performances are going to really help the careers, buuuuuut – they won’t hurt them either. Everyone is absolutely serviceable from an acting standpoint. Why am I not spelling each and everyone of them out? If you’ve seen the franchise you know why – if not, well…I won’t say more. There’s one call out however, and it isn’t Ruby Rose. It’s our new Red Queen as played by Ever Anderson. Yes, that is her name and yes, she is the daughter of the director and Milla who have been married since 2009. She actually does a good job as the homicidal AI and brings a surprising element to her. So nicely done there as she still had to have the chops to pull it off on her own, even with her father as the director.


I rather enjoyed Fallout: Raccoon City. It was a good wrap to the franchise if they keep their word. It is not a good movie, it is certainly not a bad movie – but I found I was not rolling my eyes through it. Some of the effects are good and the chances taken with the characters actually work surprisingly well. It bothered to care to set a good pace and when it goes practical does so nicely. There was real tension and some of the camera work was not horrible.

This probably comes in as the 3rd best of the franchise for how it looks and feels and the overall effort put into it.

Not a bad way to end January

Should you see it?

Do you like the franchise? Yes. Just…not in 3-D

Otherwise – no.

Will you buy it?

Yeah, I have the others so might as well. Beyond that no.

Anything else?

I really hope this is the last one. Please?

Darke Reviews | Assassins Creed (2016)

Nothing is True.
Everything is Permitted.

Forewarning. I have played through the Ezio Trilogy of the video game twice. Played through AC3 once which was a slog and lost interest during AC4 as I didn’t find the actual plot engaging. That’s right folks, this is a video game turned movie. We all know there are only a handful of exceptions to the rule that these will be horrible.

  • Silent Hill
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Warcraft (it wasn’t horrible!…just not great)
  • Resident Evil (again not horrible. even good)

You can argue Mortal Kombat, but I’ll fight you. It’s fun. It’s actually pretty good for the 90’s. The litany of crimes against video games largely began with Super Mario Bros., but really took off with Uwe Boll rampage through the German tax code and movie industry with beauties like Alone in the Dark, House of the Dead, Bloodrayne, and more.

So does Assassin’s Creed break the curse or should it have stayed in the shadows?

Looking behind the curtain as usual, we have the invocation of the three writer rule. Michael Lesslie (Macbeth 2015), Adam Cooper (Exodus Gods and Kings, Allegiant), Bill Collage (Exodus Gods and Kings, Allegiant). Now Allegiant was so bad and droll I didn’t even have the energy to write a review for it. But did they do a bad job here? Actually…mostly no. They went with as an original story as they could tell. You see when adapting a story based game like Assassins Creed, or say Mass Effect, you have to be original. You won’t tell the story that got to the heart of a player that made it their game. You need to make it YOUR story, but in their universe. They succeeded here. It has all the right story elements to tell me this is AC, but their own story for it – mostly.

Where they fail though is continuing to use the Apple of Eden McGuffin. They could have made up their own artifact that Abstergo and the Templars wanted and the Assassins have to protect. Slight spoiler, but if you didn’t figure it out from the trailer – the Assassins are the good guys. The logic fails sadly extend to the characters who shift motivations inexplicably and without sufficient justification. The other, perhaps biggest failure is the contrast between past and present. People play the game to spend 80% of their time in the historical period, the other 20% is dealing with the framework and setup for how it all happens – the Templars & Assassins in the modern age still clawing for supremacy over each other and the lives of the planet. The movie reverses this with more time in the modern period than the past.

Sure in the past they give us beautiful fan service that the players of the games will like (or wince depending on what you thought of the section). You have your carriage chases, leaps of faith, rooftop runs, blades, darts, ropes, all of it. It made me happy to see so much of the game realized in a live action environment, but this excitement was dampened by poor filming and bringing me back to the “real world” in the middle of scenes.

Which leads into the next failure, the directing. Justin Kurzel. Director of the Snowtown Murders and Macbeth (2015 version) shows what I can only judge as having been done in an altered state. He apes styles of three or four other directors, that shouldn’t be combined together. This is where production behind the scenes things lie to us. Knowing that the Leap of Faith was done practically was amazing. The final execution could have been CGI and we may not have noticed due to the intense colour correction, computer enhancements, and outright computer built worlds and lighting. Oh the lighting was so horrific through this. There were a handful of inspired shots that meant little because they were ruined by either a bad cut or bad effect. I mean when 2004’s Nightwatch (really good by the way) has a better pan down on a mass combat than this does twelve years of technology later – we have a problem. The colour correction made me want to join the Brotherhood and off someone.

The acting is…flat. No one is in it. It’s not as bad as M. Night Shaylaman directing flat, but not too far off. That’s a horrible thing to do to Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. Jeremy Iron’s doesn’t care anymore and quite frankly neither do we. He’s just fun to watch when he’s allowed to go full Ham on Rye. Sadly he does not here. What impresses me though is how diverse the cast is; while sadly the mains are Caucasian, the rest has some really good diversity and characters that are at least interesting if not under utilized. I really wanted more of Ariane Labed’s character Maria (the awesome female assassin from the trailer) as she was engaging and believable.

Another point in the movies favor is that in all the past life sequences they speak Spanish and Latin. They didn’t shortcut this and I have to give them props here. The costumes were good. The idea on how to visualize the Animus was kinda cool. The city running scenes were what I expected and looked appropriate.



Assassins work in the shadows to protect the light. The movie wasn’t quite ready for the light. It’s not horrific and I was entertained for the better part of the viewing – but it also wasn’t that good either. The directing and camera work were largely poor and the CGI environments were under rendered. It’s surprising to find out this movie cost $125 million to make because I cannot tell you where the money went. Character motivations were all over the place without a good plot reason to support them. The nods to the video game are good and there’s some nice little easter eggs.

It isn’t a crime against the AC Games -it’s actually very true to them –  or movies in general, but it also isn’t worth a theatrical viewing either.

It’s not great, its barely good – but at least it wasn’t BAD.

Should you see it?

Netflix, streaming, rental…yeah if you like the games.

Going to buy it?

Probably…depends how I feel the day it comes out. May wait for discount bin.

So…double feature?

I watched this BEFORE Passengers, so I wouldn’t let my feelings for that garbage interfere with this. It did however make me want to play the game again this weekend.

Anything else?

It’s cute they think they will get a sequel.

Darke Reviews | Warcraft (2016)

Tired of me yet? 3 movies. 3 days. 3 reviews. The roller coaster that is my life has had my butt in a theatre all this week, even the guy checking me in at the movies tonight asked me, “hey weren’t you in that same theatre last night?” Thanks Ben. Now…we have a movie based on a video game. Probably one of the most popular video games ever made, though myself I have never played it. I know plenty of people who did, my game was City of Heroes, and I was a one game kinda gal. So much like with books, I have no experience, no background, no anything about the lore here to make me like it more or less based on changes made to achieve film. This is the extent to which I know Warcraft: Slaughter Your World.

Of course, we cannot forget that video games have a sordid history in being converted to film, with far more misses than hits as Hollywood really just doesn’t respect the material even if it is there. Don’t get me started on Uwe Boll, he might challenge me to a boxing match.

Does Warcraft break the mold or are audiences going to need heals after seeing it?

Based on the characters by Blizzard game designer Chris Metzen, Warcraft was adapted to the screen by screenwriters Charles Leavitt (In the Heart of the Sea, Seventh Son, K-PAX) and Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code). While I did not personally see Heart of the Sea, I heard pretty consistently it was a slog, I know that Seventh Son was so bad they pushed it out a full year from its initial release date and hoped no one would notice. Jones for his part does have the critically acclaimed Moon in 2009, Source Code was pretty bland. Why am I focusing on these failures so much? Because they hold one of the most, if not the most significant flaw of the film. I can feel it’s running time. What is worse it felt *longer* than it actually was, like extended cut Return of the King long.

Story wise, it’s ok. Having no familiarity with the terminology beyond Horde and Alliance didn’t really hamper me. I pretty much was able to figure out everything in time with the movie and they (wisely) did not over explain anything. Point in fact, they barely explain anything at all. This is a strength of the film, letting the story flow pretty naturally and hope the audience follows along with it. The downside of that is that it has a lot of ground to cover so the film ends up stuffed to the gills with material. Had it had exposition as well….? Yeeesh.  There are a few beats of the film that fall flat and a hole or two you could fly a Dragon through; conversely, there are moments that had everyone laugh, cheer, or go “oooh” with a wince. Which means they drew the audience in – this is good.

Continuing into our bag of holding, we have other mixed blessings. I was only able to stand a single human in the entire movie. One. The friggin mage. Ben Schnetzer (The Book Thief) plays Khadgar, and while a little flat I at least found I liked his character at least. Travis Fimmel (Ragnar from Vikings) as Anduin Lothar is just insufferable; which may be how he is written, but the man can act and he was all over the place which I lay on Jones head in directing. Dominic Cooper (Preacher, Dracula Untold) as King Llane Wrynn was mostly wasted, but gave a solid performance. Even Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma, Pandorum) didn’t quite deliver as I know he can in the role of the warlock Medivh.

The same, cannot be said of the Orcs. Toby Kebbell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) absolutely sells it as Durotan leader of one of the Orc tribes. Daniel Wu (Europa Report) also nails the voice and mo cap work as the evil Gul’dan. Clancy Brown could have phoned in his performance of the warband leader Blackhand, but didn’t and we are all thankful. Paula Patton (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, 2 Guns)  starts off strong as Garona, but gets a little simpering into Act III which was bothersome for an otherwise awesome character, but overall she was a solid performance.

As with the game, since you could play either side they have to show both sides, with the Horde side being “evil” but not…bad? Due to that and who they focused on as characters I found myself preferring the Horde arc and characters a thousand times more than I did the Alliance side.

The one technical aspect I was worried about I needn’t have been. I forgot I was looking at Motion Capture CGI creations on more than one occasion through the film. It wasn’t flawless, but it was amazingly well done computer work to render what they did so consistently and be able to do so in wide daylight shots. The scenery, while being almost entirely CG was expansive and to the credit of the writers of both game and film, really sold me on a world that I could envision. They may have failed in other areas, but they did give me a living, breathing world that I could see, understand, and even would want to interact with. The fights are both watchable and in some cases brutal, but there was a distinct lack of hyperactive shaky cam.


The movie is a solid…”It’s ok.”. There are so many nods and winks to game and lore fans, even I who knows little could see them. It runs long and flattens in the wrong spots sadly. It is absolutely not the worst video game film ever made. It would, and should, make it into anyone’s top 5 on production value alone. The money sunk into this shows and I am happier for it. It bored me at times, but when it wasn’t I was engaged.

I’d like to say I liked it more, but I didn’t. The fans around me did though. It *is* good, and above a meh. If I had been engaged by the characters on both sides more I think I would rate it higher. I do think it will make bank though.

Should you see it?

If you aren’t seeing Now You See Me 2? Sure. Matinee only 3-D optional.  If you are a fan of the game and lore: See it. 3-D. It was worth it in that aspect.

Will Jessica buy it?

Honestly? Yeah probably. It is something to throw on in the background while you are focusing on other things. You’ll look up and smile at a moment or pause to watch a fight.

Which side would you pick?

My brain says Horde, but my heart goes Night Elf.

What’s next?

I get next week off as only Central Intelligence and Finding Dory are coming out. Reviews return with The Neon Demon and Independence Day Resurgence. Followed quickly by Legend of Tarzan and Ghostbusters.