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'MAJ3R - ONE DAY' review

By Duncan 'Thorin' Shields
May 12, 2010 22:53


ImageFrolanta presents a movie about the French player MAJ3R which revolves around the concept of all the action taking place across one abstract day.

Introduction

There is a solid tradition of good frag movies coming out of France going back as far as the famous aAa movie and coming up through the years to the works of Fistor and flouchy. With MAJ3R being one of the better players in France over the last year or so one should understandably have high expectations for the excitement level a movie bearing his name should deliver.

Name: MAJ3R - ONE DAY
Editor: Frolanta

Technical

The intro to this movie raised my expectations and made me feel like I might be in for something good as it was simple, clean and crisp. Then the edIT glitch track began and all of a sudden I had a bad feeling. That's a great bit of music but in CS frag movies there is a terrible track record of using glitch soundtracks as an excuse for annoying editing, this being no exception. That back and forth, hanging, editing style really grates within seconds of being introduced. It doesn't do anything for the viewing experience as while it is synching up with the music it is doing so in an annoying and off-putting manner. Which brings us to one of the problems of this movie: at times things seem to be done for style purposes which end up compromising the viewing experience.

An example would be the "makes me feel like" clip where we get third person perspectives as those words are overlaid onto the screen in time with the lyrics of the song. Were this a music video for that track this would be a good thing but in the context of this movie it means absolutely nothing. The lyrics have no reasonable application for the scene. Perhaps the event in question was held in Paris but if that's it then that's just a little too abstract for me to waste time with the same words repeated three times from pointless perspectives. Especially as Paris isn't even one of the words overlaid.
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Another example of unnecessary editing which detracts from the flow of the viewing experience is the scene on tuscan where MAJ3R is getting deagle kills from on top of the boxes at A. After he has gotten his last kill the scene lingers on and we get images overlaid one on top of the other with different camera angles and it all goes pretty much nowhere of interest. Again: it synchs with the music but ultimately ends up being mildly distracting or at least a little tiresome as it takes the viewer out of the flow of kills for no valid reason.

It really felt like too much effort was exerted trying to edit each major sequence in a different manner. That's all well and good if all you're doing is showing off your range as a moviemaker but as a viewer wanting to watch the movie for entertainment purposes this doesn't add anything in the movie for me and at times takes away from the atmosphere.

ImageThe overall concept behind the movie of these action all taking place across one abstract day isn't really one which works too well in the end. In terms of pure moviemaking the different colour schemes are well executed and nice to look at but as an actual viewing experience this concept ends up taking away from the action on occasion. For example the scene marked 0:31am on inferno really suffers from sticking with the one day concept as the lighting is at what I'd describe as a 'dusk' level. This makes it difficult to properly see what is going on in a scene which using normal lighting on that map would have been really quite easy to watch.

There are way too many laggy HLTV clips in this movie. It's not even like all the frag clips are clear 10/10s and so one could make a cause for overlooking some of the use of lagged footage. Most HLTV footage has some degree of delay or animation issues associated with it but this movie has some really bad examples of laggy HLTV. Clips which on their own would be good, sometimes even great, become next to nothing due to how bad it is. Showing a headshot isn't enough if the viewer can't properly make out the way the rifle was controlled to produce it. Some of these scenes look like he just flicked his AK horizontally then warped a metre forwards and a guy fell down dead before he fired a bullet.

The first third of the action, which is accompanied by the glitch track, also has no in-game sounds and this is a big mistake. If a movie has a soundtrack which works really well I've no problem with leaving out in-game sounds but as mentioned the editing style combined with that track makes this section of the movie fairly tiresome. The scene with the deagle kills at middle on inferno really suffers from lack of in-game sound. Had it been there that scene would have been a lot more powerful and had that oomph to make you feel something when you watched it.
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Despite these problems this movie is not painful to watch, the different elements just don't gel to produce a great viewing experience. There are creative ideas packed in but only some of them end up being pulled off in a manner which is enjoyable to watch. The way the round on inferno at A is shown when it becomes a 1v1 with 1hp is a good example of a nice idea which is well executed, though even then it felt like the action cut away from the last kill a little too quickly so the full impact of that was lost. The clip on inferno at B against Spain is nicely shown but the laggy nature of the HLTV clip really takes away from what otherwise should have been a more enjoyable sequence.

Visual

Some of these sequences certainly deserved to be in a frag movie purely on the merit of the skill it took to produce them in-game and how they would have looked with no lag. The issue is that the lag is so bad on some sequences that it completely removes any of the enjoyable parts of the action and is at other times mildly annoying enough that it prevents the viewer from just letting go and being carried along through the movie's stream of kills. That jerky action and those missed moments of would-be footage really take the viewer out of the movie over and over.

There are a couple of scenes where the first three kills become pretty much nothing due to what is missing thanks to the lag. The first which springs to mind is the burning nuke terrorist clip where MAJ3R AKs one coming from ramp to radio room entrance. The only kill in this sequence which is left with any satisfaction attached to it upon reaching the viewer is the last kill. Likewise the same happens with the 'makes me feel like' sequence. Those first kills are unwatchable thanks to the jerky lag which is way off from the gun animations and only the last kill manages to satisfy.

Then there is the problem of having scenes which aren't appropriate for the frag movie of a skilled player. Despite the movie running for just under six and a half minutes there are a number of sequences of eco killing. Not good eco killing either, as hard as that is to find, but pointless 'fish in a barrel' type eco killing. The first scene of the movie sees MAJ3R killing glock-wielding terrorists with his colt from behind the cover of a wall which he keeps ducking behind while shooting them one at a time. Later in the movie we see him kill four players holding USPs who are in the carpets/window room area on inferno. The only thing which makes this sequence at all significant is the fact the dying players are fnatic members. That alone is not nearly enough to make this entertaining action warrenting space in a frag movie I'm afraid.

There are two eco killing scenes against H2k which are really pointless. Firstly MAJ3R is spraying with an AK, appalling HLTV lag in tow, down from catwalk through the crack of the lower B arch onto ecoing players running through his crosshair. This really isn't a scene anyone needed to see.

ImageEven a good, and creatively shown, sequence in the movie suffers from being followed with 'fish in a barrel' level kills. I am referring to the H2k dust2 scenes where MAJ3R is in B. Firstly we see him killing H2k members who are in the tunnels but behind a wall and thanks to the way it is displayed we get a nice view of why these are good kills. The very next scene though is from the same match and see MAJ3R spraying through smoke directly into the tunnel and killing ecoing enemies with his colt. This is up there with the most mundane eco aces you'll see flooding any and every gaming video hosting service.

There are some kills which are genuinely good and watchable. The sequence at ramp on nuke against Denmark is a good example. The problem is that these are too far and few between. Scenes either have too much lag, fall victim to the way they are edited or feature guys with no guns getting killed in fairly obvious and lacklustre ways.

Audio

Apart from the movie this is a good soundtrack. I love the edIT track on its own, I like the Beastie Boys track, the ghost town track is nice and the more electro-ish tracks are catchy enough. In the context of the movie the edIT track ends up becoming annoying thanks to the editing. The ghost town track works well but isn't with us long, a shame as it gives a nice flow despite having been used in other movies. The other tracks don't stand out but they also don't fall flat. All in all the soundtrack is one of the more positive elements which helps make this is a watchable movie which is inoffensive enough most of the time.

The transition from the edIT track to the beastie boys track doesn't work and seems a little jarring, that move quickly between the two really took me out of the movie for a moment and seemed sloppy.

Overall

Thinking of what I said about the deagle clip at middle on inferno lacking oomph due to no in-game sound I can't help but think that's perhaps the most simple and intuitive way to describe the problem with this movie at times: even when the soundtrack was good and I was watching kills which were high quality the movie didn't manage to connect with me and make me feel the kind of excitement or energy that a good frag movie should. Instead I felt distant at times, as though I was watching a demonstration film showing off the skills and technique repertoire of the moviemaker but which just happened as a side concern to be featuring CS footage.

It felt as though certain scenes were included to show off specific techniques and certain frags were included because they may have been great in real time but regardless of the fact HLTV lag ruined them. Add in a barrage of unnecessary eco killing, including some fnatic name-dropping, and it feels like the efforts applied to creative editing weren't enough to make up for the lack of real wholesome meat you could sink your teeth into and savour the taste of.

Not a bad viewing experience and not a good viewing experience, simply an overall average and at times annoying at other times inoffensive six minute watch.

Thorin Rating: 5/10

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