Falcon's Blog

Half-Life

Greetings, Half-Life is a first person shooter video game from 1998 that was created by the game developer and publisher known as Valve. Now well regarded as one of the best video games ever made, Half-Life was the first project released by Valve and several expansion packs and sequels, such as Blue Shift, were spawned off the back of its outstanding success. The company would go on to create or publish further classic games such as the Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, Left for Dead and Portal series as well as the sandbox game Garry’s Mod. With the protagonist and cult icon, Gordon Freeman, being a silent lead there is not a particularly large or noteworthy cast of voice actors and actresses involved. Some of the talent behind the scenes include Kathy Levin as the voice for the HEV suit as well as Mike Shapiro as the friendly security guard, Barney Calhoun, and the mysterious G-Man. The atmospheric music was composed by Kelly Bailey who has mostly worked on other Valve properties.

The plot begins with a long and famed, among gamers at least, tram ride in which the physicist Freeman is transported inside the secretive Black Messa Research Facility. After clearing security and putting on the necessary hazmat suit, Gordon is tasked with brining an unusual material in for experimentation. He is instructed by fellow scientists to place the substance under a giant machine for analysis. The machinery explodes causing what is described as a ‘resonance cascade’ which opens up a portal to dimension Xen. The cataclysmic event causes the facility to descend into ruins. Freeman miraculously survives the explosion but he finds himself thrust into action as he must fight his way past terrors such as zombifed colleagues, automated turrets and alien monstrosities that came from the portal.

Half-Life

It isn’t long before the military arrives on the scene with relieved scientists cheering on their apparent saviours. The optimism quickly turns to dismay as the soldiers begin gunning down witnesses and the scientists come to understand the horrifying reality that the government isn’t there to help them but to wipe them out as part of a cover up. As Gordon makes his way to the surface, he is contacted by fellow scientists in the Labmda Complex who believe that they have found a way to shut down the portal but they explain that they will need help in doing so. Freeman answers the call for aid and delves further into danger as he encounters even deadlier foes along his path from both the opposing alien and human forces.

Half-Life provides a good range of enemy AI for the player to combat including slow moving zombies, long tongued barnacles and aggressive headcrabs, most of which thankfully made their way into the direct sequel and continuing episodes. I really enjoyed this game and took a great liking to the retro feel after playing it a few decades after its release. I had great fun with its imaginative sequels as well which expand on the story nicely. It is a bit of a shame that Valve don’t seem to have plans to finish the story, which they left on a dark note in Episode 2, as the world they created is a very interesting one to explore. Despite releasing a prequel game called Half-Life: Alyx as recently as 2020, I believe it is unlikely that the fans will ever get the sequel they clamoured for. After years of the tongue in cheek ‘Half-Life 3 confirmed’ meme being plastered over the internet, it may be for the best as a third entry would find it very difficult to live up to the hype or reputation it is expected to have. At the end of the day, the Half-Life games will always be there to fall back on if players are feeling a bit nostalgic and in the mood for a good old fashioned shooter.

Plot=10/10

Characters=10/10

Graphics=10/10

Overall=10/10

Quote of the Day

Drainage! Drainage, Eli, you boy! Drained dry. I’m so sorry. Here: if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw — There it is. That's a straw, see? Watch it. Now my straw reaches across the room, and starts to drink your milkshake. I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!

Daniel Plainview

There Will Be Blood

Written by Falcon, Thursday 29 July 2021

Fatal Attraction

Greetings, ‘Fatal Attraction’ is a 1987 film that was directed by Adrian Lyne who is also known for directing the popular dance flick ‘Flashdance’ and the renowned horror movie ‘Jacob’s Ladder.’ The film has a strong cast that includes Michael Douglas of ‘Romancing the Stone’ fame as the protagonist Daniel Gallagher, Glenn Close as the infamous villain Alex Foster alongside Anne Archer and Ellen Hamilton Latzen as Beth and Ellen Gallagher respectively. The music was composed by Maurice Jarre who had previously written music for the David Lean epics ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Dr Zhivago’ and who had also worked on ‘A Passage to India’ and ‘Ghost’ to name a few of his projects.

The film starts with a married man called Daniel, a lawyer, who crosses paths with Alex, an editor for a publishing company, at a high profile publishing event. An instant attraction occurs between the two although Daniel is unable to act upon his desires as his wife, named Beth, is also at the event as his plus one. After a few chance meetings in the workplace, Daniel’s and Alex’s interest in each other begins to grow and they have an opportunity to act on their adulterous thoughts when Beth and his daughter Ellen are having a weekend out of the city. Daniel takes Alex out to a restaurant and after some deliberation on whether he should stay faithful to his wife, he is successfully seduced by Alex as she takes him back to her place and assures him it will only be a short lived fling. Daniel and Alex enjoy each other’s company that night and, under the impression that the affair was over, he slinks out of her dingy apartment during the small hours of the morning while she slept. Alex didn’t share his views and pestered him the next day until Daniel reluctantly agreed to spend the rest of the weekend with her.

Fatal Attraction

Once the weekend is coming to its end, Daniel tries to leave after an emotional Alex begins to berate him for not wanting to stay with her for longer. As he attempts to exit through the door, Alex slits her wrists in a hysterical state. An astonished and panicked Daniel rushes to her aid and bandages her up. He managed to get home after Alex falls asleep but his troubles don’t end there. An apologetic Alex turns up at his office one day and claims that she regrets how she acted. She wants to make it up to Daniel by bringing him to a performance of ‘Madame Butterfly’, an opera they had bonded over during a meal at her apartment. Daniel, knowing his family was back in Manhattan, refused her politely and explained that their brief affair was over. Despite his best efforts to bring the matter to a close, a persistent Alex rings his office continuously and then starts contacting his home number after he no longer takes her calls at work. Much to Daniel’s fear, Alex begins escalating her attempts to drag him into her life and slowly but surely he begins to understand how insane she really is.

If you have yet to see this iconic movie, I would recommend that you watch it at some point as it lives up to its well-earned reputation in my opinion. It is rather deliberate in its pacing at the beginning of the movie, allowing characterization to take place, but that slow burn helps build up the pressure as it creeps along and produces some very intense moments. It also remains well entrenched in Popular Culture with the phrase of ‘Bunny Boiler’ still being used as a descriptor for obsessive women that feel romantically rejected. A pejorative term named so after Fatal Attraction’s most notorious scene. The film was later adapted into a play in 2014 and, as recently as early 2021, there are plans to reboot the movie as a television show for the streaming service Paramount+.

Plot=9/10

Characters=9/10

Special Effects=8/10

Overall=9/10

Quote of the Day

Cops! What the hell do they want? I haven't done anything... lately!

Jack Colton

Romancing the Stone

Written by Falcon, Monday 28 June 2021

GLOW

Greetings, GLOW is a television series that ran from 2017 to 2019 and consists of three seasons. Created for Netflix by Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, the premise was based on an actual wrestling programme that was called the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling which was often simply abbreviated to G.L.O.W. The original show started in 1986 and concluded in 1992. The cast of the dramatization has many members but some of the more prominent roles are played by Allison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Marc Maron, Chris Lowell, Sydelle Noel and Kate Nash. Some of these actresses and actors would have been well established prior to the show, such as Allison Brie, but I believe the success of GLOW may also have launched a few careers of its up and coming stars. The music was composed by Craig Wedren but due to its setting contains a lot of 80’s hits from artists such as Queen, Genesis, Kate Bush and Joy Division.

The story begins with aspiring actress Ruth who is struggling to secure traditional acting roles despite her best efforts. Her situation is similar to her friend, a fellow actress named Debbie, who complains that she is often only offered more lewd roles and so the two are empathetic towards each other’s plights. One day Ruth is invited to apply for an unusual audition. Ruth turns up at the agreed place, a gym which is already occupied by other women trying out for some roles like her, and is unsure of what she should expect from this potential job. The director arrives not long after. He is a cantankerous man called Sam Sylvia who is best known for his gratuitous horror films and who has a penchant for chain smoking and heavy drinking. He explains to the gathered women that the show is a wrestling programme in which they are required to fight each other. Sam offers the invitees the opportunity to leave after hearing the nature of the show and a large number of them do so.

GLOW

Ruth, needing a steady pay check, decides to stay on. After a rocky start with Sam who doubts if she is a good fit and cites her lack of fighting skills as a reason, Ruth tries to prove that she is willing to learn the wrestling moves and that her acting background would be beneficial to the theatrical nature of the show. Sam is eventually convinced to include Ruth through a strange set of circumstances when an enraged Debbie barges into the gym and demands to know if Ruth had slept with her husband Mark. Ruth, feeling guilty by her betrayal, confesses that she did so in a moment of loneliness and weakness. Debbie lunges at her friend and begins hitting Ruth. Sam, upon witnessing the spectacle, visualises the scene in front of a roaring crowd and realizes that he has his star wrestler and the villainous heel in front of him.

This is one of my favourite shows of recent times and a large part of that is due to its colourful 1980s setting but also because it has very good characterisation which gets the audience to easily root for its characters. The large cast of characters is handled very well and works very much in its favour with even the more minor roles getting a satisfying amount of screen time or development. This makes it all the more frustrating that Netflix decided to cancel its fourth and final season claiming the Covid pandemic would make filming such close proximity wrestling scenes as too expensive and difficult to shoot. This isn’t the first show that Netflix has cancelled that I was enjoying for they had also axed the excellent Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance after one season and I would not be surprised if they were quick to discontinue others in the future as well. There are some hopes that GLOW’s storylines can be wrapped up in a film but a few of the cast members, despite pushing for it, remain sceptical if it could be done. Regardless of its premature conclusion, GLOW is a fantastic show that I would recommend you watch if you have yet to see it for yourself.

Plot=10/10

Characters=10/10

Special Effects=10/10

Overall=10/10

Quote of the Day

Immigrants! That's all they do, you know - just drive around listening to raps and shooting all the jobs.

Malory Archer

Archer

Written by Falcon, Wednesday 26 May 2021

The Elephant Man

Greetings, ‘The Elephant Man’ is a 1980 drama film that was based on the life of Joseph Merrick and was directed by the surrealist movie maker David Lynch. It boasts a strong cast which includes John Hurt as the titular ‘Elephant Man’ John Merrick, Anthony Hopkins as surgeon Frederick Treves and the Graduate’s Anne Bancroft to name a few. For some reason, the script calls ‘the Elephant Man’ ‘John’ despite his name being Joseph. The music was composed by John Morris who had worked on numerous Mel Brooks films such as Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Silent Movie and Spaceballs. Mel Brooks was a producer of ‘the Elephant Man’ but had purposefully decided to be left uncredited in the off chance that his name would confuse the expectations of viewers as he is mostly renowned for his comedic movies.

The plot begins in the East End of London where Frederick Treves has successfully located the deformed Merrick performing in a freak show. Before Treves can get his eyes on the famed man hidden behind the curtain, the police close down the show to the annoyance of the ringmaster Mr Bytes. Treves eventually tracks down Bytes again who is living in a dirty hovel with John and sees first-hand the horrid conditions that Merrick is forced to live in. The surgeon pays Bytes a large sum to have John attend his office for a while in order to inspect him as a medical curiosity. The impoverished Bytes, motivated by financial gain, agrees and Merrick is inspected by Treves as part of a medical lecture. It was believed that this ‘Elephant Man’ was a man of limited intellectual capabilities and Treves hoped that this was the case, fearing the opposite to be a nightmarish scenario for Merrick. John is returned to Bytes after Treves had displayed Merrick’s unique physicality to his surgical peers.

The Elephant Man

Bytes, a sadistic drunkard, was intoxicated when the ‘Elephant Man’ came home and in an angry phase badly thrashed John. Fearing he had beaten his prized ‘possession’ too harshly and threatened his future income in the process, Bytes asks Treves to inspect John and falsely claimed he had suffered a fall. Treves advises that John needs to attend a hospital and manages to convince a cautious Bytes, concerned that his livelihood was being taken from him, to let Merrick comes under his care. John is brought to London Hospital and his unsettling appearance startles the nursing staff there until they gradually become accustomed to his presence. As time goes by, Treves eventually gets John to open up and socialise after a very difficult beginning in which Merrick was thought to be cognitively impaired. The two form a genuine friendship as John Merrick becomes a celebrity, after being visited by a famous actress, with the rich and powerful of British society hoping to meet the curious man.

I really enjoyed this movie and while it was much more grounded in reality than Lynch’s other works, there were definitely a few scenes that were reflective of his distinct style. The choice to shoot the film in black and white was a good idea in my opinion and it produced an impressive atmosphere. Another aspect I thought was interesting was that Treves, upon contributing to Merrick’s rising celebrity status, begins to fear he is similar to Bytes as he is letting people gawk at Merrick. The only difference Treves perceived is that John was being a ‘freak show attraction’ for high society this time around rather than the common man. I thought this was an interesting parallel for the script writers to emphasise. If you haven’t seen this one before it is one to watch.

Plot=10/10

Characters=10/10

Special Effects=10/10

Overall=10/10

Quote of the Day

I believe in that alpaca farm. The alpaca is the dog of the future.

Albert ‘Pops’ Solomon

The Goldbergs

Written by Falcon, Tuesday 27 April 2021

The Hellbound Heart

Greetings, ‘The Hellbound Heart’ is a horror novel by renowned author Clive Barker and is probably better known by the name of its 1987 film adaptation and its numerous sequels, ‘Hellraiser’. The relatively short book was written in 1986, one year before the movie’s release, and the film remains fairly faithful to its literary source but does contain some key differences. Some of these discrepancies include name changes to major characters and characters having alternative relationships to each other. In the original ‘Hellraiser’ movie, some of the main cast include Ashley Laurence, Claire Higgins, Andrew Robinson, Sean Chapman and Doug Bradley.

The book starts with Frank Cotton, a hedonist on the lookout for sensual pleasure, who believes that he has experienced all the joys the world can give him. As such, he follows rumours of the Lerchand Configuration which is a puzzle box that is said to open up another realm of unfathomable sensation. This realm belongs to the Cenobites, beings who participate in disturbing sexual activities that mesh pain and pleasure. Frank, after tracking down the puzzle box in Dusseldorf, brings it back to his grandmother’s home in England where he manages to solve the puzzle. He comes face to face with the outlandish appearing Cenobites who take him back to their horrific dimension after he agrees to go with them. The Cenobites warn Frank that he can’t escape their pleasurable torture after he accepts their offer. Sometime later, Frank’s brother, Roy, and his wife Julia move into the same house that Frank disappeared from.

The Hellbound Heart

Julia and Frank had engaged in an affair a week before her wedding to his brother. Julia had never stopped wanting Frank and her relationship with Roy was beginning to suffer as a result of these longings. While Roy was in the attic, the room in which the portal opened, he managed to cut himself accidently and his blood spilled on to the floor. This blood allows a zombie-like Frank to return to Earth, escaping the Cenobite realm, in a much weakened state. His presence attracts the attention of Julia and Frank, in spite of his horrific appearance, eventually manages to inform her of what had happened to him. He explains what he needs to return to his normal form, bodily fluids and blood, and manages to seduce Julia into brining men into the attic to kill them for his benefit. As this is going on, one of Roy’s friends, Kirsty, begins to suspect that Julia is having an affair behind her husband’s back and she decides to investigate into it further.

I enjoyed this book but I believe watching the movie first helped me understand what was going on with the more surreal moments. Two more sequels were written, which I haven’t read, although they were published much later on from the first one. These are ‘The Scarlet Gospels’ which was published in 2015 and ‘Hellraiser: The Toll’ in 2018. Aside from ‘The Hellbound Heart’, Barker is also known for penning ‘The Forbidden’ which was later made into the horror film ‘Candyman’ in 1992 with Virginia Madsen and Tony Todd. This film, like Hellraiser before it, also spawned further instalments.

Plot=7/10

Characters=6/10

Wording=8/10

Overall=7/10

Quote of the Day

Well, thank you, pal. The day I get out of prison, my own brother picks me up in a police car.

Jake Blues

The Blues Brothers

Written by Falcon, Monday 22 March 2021

Gran Torino

Greetings, Gran Torino is a 2008 film that was written by, directed by and stars Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood as the primary protagonist, Walt Kowalski. The cast also includes Bee Vang and Ahney Her who are both performers of Hmong descent that made their acting debut with this film. Other cast members consist of Christopher Carley, Doua Moua, Brian Haley, Geraldine Hughes, John Caroll Lynch and a brief cameo by Scott Eastwood, one of Clint’s sons. The music was composed by Kyle Eastwood, another of Clint’s children, and Michael Stevens who worked on the soundtracks for various films including ‘Million Dollar Baby’, ‘Letters from Iwo Jima’ and ‘Invictus’. Stevens’ discography is mostly comprised of other Eastwood productions.

The plot begins with Walter Kowalski, an aging Polish-American veteran of the Korean War, who is recently widowed. Following his wife’s funeral, it becomes apparent that he has become rather emotionally detached from his immediate family. From one of his sons trying to get him to become a resident in a retirement home against Walt’s wishes to his granddaughter eyeing up his Gran Torino and attempting to talk him into giving it to her, it is clear that Walt is disgusted by his families’ actions. Walt, along with his elderly dog named Daisy, are trying to enjoy their twilight years in Detroit when a new family move into the neighbouring house. The new Asian arrivals are treated with hostility by the set in his ways Walt who had grown to hate those of Oriental heritage during his years on the frontlines.

Gran Torino

Detroit, once populated by working class white families, experienced a significant exodus many decades ago that means the area is mainly populated by Asian families in the modern day and crime has become rife. As such, the emergence of the Lor family is an unwelcome reminder of how Walt’s world is changing. Thao, an adolescent member of the Lor family, does little to ingratiate himself with Kowalski when he is pressured into trying to steal Walt’s Gran Torino as part of an initiation into a local gang. The attempt goes poorly as Walt, armed with his old service rifle, discovers Thao in the middle of his grand theft auto. After the confrontation and as part of his penance, Thao is forced by his family to work for Walt and is ordered to undertake odd jobs around Kowalski’s house. Despite an uneasy start in their relationships, Walt eventually begins to warm to Thao and his sister named Sue who tries to educate Kowalski in Hmong culture.

I really enjoyed this movie, despite its relative predictability, and found it to be quite different to the other work’s in Eastwood’s filmography that I have seen so far. I thought Walt was particularly well characterised and it was entertaining to watch his relationship with Thao, a much younger man from a very different cultural background. I was especially interested in the previously stated fact that it was the first performance for Bee Vang and Ahney Her. This is mostly because having such main roles being played by first time artists could have easily been disastrous but it thankfully worked in Gran Torino’s favour as they both gave solid portrayals. I haven’t watched much of Clint’s later movies but after this one I’d be interested in exploring them further, especially those he has directed himself.

Plot=8/10

Characters=8/10

Special Effects=7/10

Overall=8/10

Quote of the Day

They're not gonna catch us. We're on a mission from God!

Elwood Blues

The Blues Brothers

Written by Falcon, Tuesday 23 February 2021
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