Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review wrap-up: Loads of stuff

The bridge of weeks connecting 2010 and 2011 has proven to be a bit busier than I expected. I’ve been able to take in a lot of "stuff"; I just haven’t had the time to review any of it.

As such, it’s now time for one of my world famous review wrap-ups wherein I gloss over several movies, games and CDs deserving of far more attention than I’m currently willing to provide. Here’s the quick rundown.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
(Video game) I’m a huge Castlevania fan, so even knowing LoS was going to be a re-launch of the series, it still took me a while to get used to the idea of everything being so different. Despite my fanboyish reservations, LoS succeeds as an action/adventure title with gorgeous graphics, a sweeping score and a crapload of content. While it borrows heavily from the God of War brand of combat, LoS surpasses that series in a lot of ways, creating a more complex, yet fluid means of destroying a wide variety of opponents. There’s loads of epic boss battles, an interesting story that sadly falls apart at the climax and it’s just plain fun to play. Don’t go in expecting the series you grew up with and you should be in for a 15-20-hour action rollercoaster.

More reviews after the break.

The Butchers and the Builders: Salvation is a deep dark well
(CD) A friend recently turned me on to these guys and, after just a few tracks, I knew they had found a new fan. Similar in style to Mumford and Sons, The Butchers and the Builders rely less on harmony and more on hard, driving drums and energetic guitar and banjo riffs. Southern folk rock is once again the best way I can think of to describe the sound but, once you hear it, you’ll want to keep listening.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
(CD) This is damn, dirty hippy music, but I can’t help but love it. The songs feel a bit contrived at times, but these guys fake it so well you can’t help but imagine them touring the country in a VW bus, braiding each other’s hair and playing music each night by a campfire.

True Grit
(Movie) I’d put True Grit in my top five films of 2010, for sure. Great performances from an amazingly talented cast and razor sharp writing overflowing with moments of great humor. True Grit not only proves the Western isn’t dead, but it finds itself seated amidst the very best the genre has to offer.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One
(Movie) I’ve always said that if any Potter book had enough story to be broken into two movies, Deathly Hallows wasn’t it. The best acting and directing in the series is wasted on too little substantial content. Much of what we see here could have been trimmed and likely combined with a slimmed down version of Part Two to create a single, stunning three hour finale. Instead, this first half feels like a precursor to the “real” movie; entertaining but mostly unnecessary.

Tron: Evolution
(Movie) Tron: Evolution is best described as one of those movies that isn’t as good as I had hoped, but far from being as terrible as I had feared. There’s plenty of eye candy, a gorgeous soundtrack and an adventure that, while peppered with plot holes, does a decent job of carrying the film from start to finish. It’s a popcorn flick with a coat of 3D that makes it worth a theater visit. Like Avatar, though, I’m willing to bet I’ll enjoy the film more sans glasses and viewed in all the crispness of glorious HD.

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