Batman: Arkham Knight Review

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Reviewed by Mason Manuel

            There was a time when the involvement of Batman meant certain death for video games. There was no one who could seemingly grasp the true unstoppable force of Bruce Wayne’s alter ego while still accounting for his most prevalent weakness of not being a super powered being. Even if they could, no one could find a way to make a player feel that they had control over the awesome might of the Batman. And then the players were gifted with Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Asylum and superhero games would never be the same again. I would argue that no one has even come close to reaching the standard that Rocksteady has created for their Batman saga and I strongly doubt we will see one soon. Because now we have the finale to Rocksteady’s Batman trilogy, Batman: Arkham Knight and holy s**t, it’s a beauty. Continue reading Batman: Arkham Knight Review

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Hitman: Agent 47 Review

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Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)

Directed by Aleksander Bach

Starring: Rupert Friend, Zachary Quinto, Hannah Ware

A Hit for a Select Audience

By Mason Manuel

This weekend my wonderful girlfriend from Real Red Reviews of all people suggested that we go see Hitman: Agent 47 Unbeknownst to her, I was already planning on seeing this movie alone amongst my fellow nerds because I figured she would hate it, with her not being a gamer and all. Pleasantly surprised, I agreed to her proposition and went to the theatre. When we finally saw the film, I was loving a great deal whereas my girlfriend… well, not so much. Herein lies the main flaw of Hitman; Gamers will love this adventure, others will not.

Agent 47 centers around an agency of assassins which has genetically enhanced their members to be stronger, faster, and above all, smarter. Agents are created from birth and instead of names are given numbers, hence our protagonist’s title. 47 is a famed killer among the assassin world and is known for always closing his contracts, no matter the odds. This time around his targets are twofold; the creator of the agent program and a seemingly ordinary woman named Katia van Dees. Those familiar with French may realize that her name sounds an awful lot like “Quatre Vingt Dix” which means the number 90. As it turns out Ms. Dees was part of the same agent program as 47 and has all of the same skills, only upgraded by 43 versions (yay for math!). The unlikely duo is eventually forced to go head to head with the illusive criminal organization known as Syndicate, which has also taken an interest into the creator of the program. 47 and Dees must fight for their very lives in order to contest the criminal super power and finally bring justice to their bloody world.

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Boy, I sure hope this movie is a hit… man. Seriously just kill me.

Judging 47 is something of a dilemma for me. On one hand, the movie perfectly realizes its’ video game origin (The garrote wire! The Italian suit! The twin custom pistols!). On the other, the film has a rather lackluster plot with a number of forgettable characters who have rather large roles in the game. First, the positives. Rupert Friend plays a surprisingly excellent Agent 47. His cool and collected manner is as impressive as his methodical brutality and will have you shivering with anticipation at intense moments. Friend’s physicality and icy blue eyes finally give the big screen the 47 that gamers know and love. However, he would just be another guy shooting dramatically if not for the interesting addition of Hannah Ware. In a pleasant turn of events, Ware’s character Dees is more capable than 47 and proves this in a number of scenes that focus solely on her assassin skills. Ware plays the sleeper agent role with enough disbelief to be a good conduit for the audience but thankfully doesn’t take long to start kicking ass. She makes a welcome addition that will hopefully be seen in later iterations.

Also worth note are the stellar action sequences. Most of the fights stay grounded and raw which adds some fun cringe worthy moments at the sound of a breaking bone or a puncturing knife. The most notable of these can be found in the film’s opening sequence where 47 meticulously plans and executes a plan to isolate a high value target. Unfortunately, not all of the action stays so lifelike. Some action scenes are ruined by hastily done CG animations which pull you out of what is otherwise a decently choreographed fight sequence. Also disappointing is the lack of stealth sequences. Hitman games have traditionally been stealth based and yet the film focuses more on the Die Hard style of shooting everything that moves. In the isolated moments where stealth is a key factor, the kills and nail biting anticipation create some of the best moments of the film. Something about seeing the assassins successfully pull off an intricate kill makes the action so much more satisfying. Fingers crossed that they improve this in later iterations.

For gamers, the action, characters, and story are probably what you look forward to the most. For the most part, the film delivers on these first two at least. For regular movie goers, you look more for story and fun cinematography along with an engaging story and it is here where Agent 47 will lose you. The plot is convoluted at best and the villains are easily the weakest players on screen. Even Zachary Quinto who I was convinced would be the saving grace of the movie disappoints with the material he is given. His character John Smith is underdeveloped and has a need to be better than 47… for some reason that is never explained. The head of the evil corporation (Thomas Kretschman) is made to be this evil, Voldemort level bad guy but has maybe ten minutes of screen time and does nothing but talk manically. You basically have to force yourself to ignore the plot, otherwise your head will be swimming with strange character motivations and  illogical developments.

If you are a fan of Square Enix’s Hitman then see this movie. There are fun nods to the player’s strategy (cheesy costume changes, variety of weaponry, ect.) littered throughout the hour and a half long run time. If you are not a gamer, probably best to steer clear. All of your nerd friends will be geeking out and you’ll be sitting there asking yourself why you payed 12 dollars for this. A 6.7 out of 10.

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