This week's box office features seven movies, a number of which break into the big numbers scorewise. There's the epic liquid defrag symphony that is "Celestia" and the leaked, never to be fully released, would-be classic from shaGuar "Final Reality 2" as well as a Quake 2 movie which surprises and delights in "EDL4". As is always the case there's a classic movie to complete your day rounding out the piece.
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Name: Final Reality 2 (leaked version)
The incomplete leaked version of the never fully released movie Final Reality 2, which was the sequel to the popular 'final reality'. Created by reflex, best known for 'ruination'. Starring former zEx, NoA and Team3D player shaGuar.
Before I dive into this review I should first say a few words about this movie and the circumstances of its unofficial release. Firstly this movie was never intended to be viewed in this form. This version of the movie is at most 40% or so complete. What I mean by that is that not only were more complete versions created by reflex but also that some of the frag sequences shown in this version were later taken out and replaced with better sequences.
Secondly shaGuar did not want this version of the movie released and was disappointed to see it leaked. From speaking with him since the inception of this project it's likely he would never have released the most up-to-date version he had unless it was fully completed, which will never happen since reflex has abandonded the project entirely and won't return to it. Seeing this early version leaked had no effect on swaying shaG to release the movie and so for the general public this is the only version which will ever be seen.
As a result of it being an incomplete movie there are a few sections of the movie where the screen is black for maybe 10-15 seconds, where frag sequences would have been inserted in the final version. Nevertheless these are infrequent and minor and this is very much still a real frag movie for all intents and purposes, even if it could and should have been better according to the wishes of all involved.
shaGuar is someone is got it when it came to frag movies and understood two key concepts, firstly: that most movie makers don't know enough about the game to pick out good sequences but most players don't know enough about movie making to create good movies. In light of his he always collaborated with talented moviemakers but ensured he had directorial powers to decide what stayed in and which parts weren't working etc. As a result his movies remain some of the best of all time in terms of both frag quality, consistency and effects, for their time. Pairing with reflex for this movie was a logical choice since he had helped the moviemaker secure some of the frags for ruination and that movie had made reflex a big name in the moviemaking world.
Secondly shaGuar understood that for a movie to be more than just good, to be great, it needs to have a lot of emphasis on the quality of its frags. This is where I'll begin my actual review because it's the main reason for you to watch this movie. The frags in this movie are of a high quality and standard. There are a few moments where you see some two kill rounds which aren't as impressive as other kills in the movie but I can also confirm, though I'll say no more, that these sequences actually would have been replaced by better sequences from shaGuar's EG and 3D eras in the final version. Nevertheless I will of course base my score and review on the version we have before us.
You will see a bunch of kills in this movie which are incredible. No movie can boast AWP frags on this level and more importantly against this quality of opposition. n0thing but headshots is a truly great movie but never forget that most of the opponents featured within it are from the CAL-p/CEVO-sp level. The opponents featured in this movie are nearly all top tier, featuring some of CS' biggest names. A good example being the dust2 clip in B where shaGuar sprays down opponents at the door in slow-motion, don't be fooled by the aliases because this is the SK.swe lineup from late 2004. It's one thing to make impressive kills and it's another entirely to make those kills on some of the best players in the game. That's one thing which sets this movie apart from any other CS movie, and likely always will since no top tier players are willing to have movies made of their scrim/practice demos now.
Time and time again we see great rounds with kills which would be the highlights of other movies. Springing to mind are his AWP rounds in B from the classic position on the right behind the double box. Then there's the three close range colt sprays onto Dsky players rushing down inner on train. Or how about his monsterous USP clutch vs. MiBR? That's a good point to lead into the editing of this movie which is clearly very high level work. This editing doesn't get in the way of the kills but rather elevates the action to a more cohesive level in terms of the overall movie and also enhances the quality of certain sequences. That MiBR usp clip is a great instance of how synching is done well, but not in an in-your-face manner, to make an already really good sequence even better.
What I really like about the synching in this movie is that it has a subtle quality to it. It's all done very naturally for the most part, finding sections which fit that part of the music in how they play out and lining them up so the key moments synch to parts of the music but without having to constantly fast-forward or skip to those moments. On top of that reflex doesn't shove it down your throat by insisting on synching with every beat in a section of the music, he lets the synching go while part of the clip plays out and then it resumes later at the significant moment. Moviemakers could learn a lot from a movie like this.
There's also some wonderful editing to bring light to certain sequences, such as shots through walls. Good examples being shaG's double onto zEx players at mid doors on dust2 and his spray through the wall at ramp on nuke. Thanks to the use of flashing into wallhack mode for a brief moment we get an added appreciation for these wall kills, as opposed to just seeing them as obituaries flashing up. I also liked the way on the x6tence deagle clip he focused the eye on the kill itself each time to highlight it. Finally this is one of the few movies which did third person build ups well, with the eco killing against Lunatic-Hai and the inferno 1v3 CPL clip vs. EYE being examples which spring to mind.
Musically this movie knocks it out of the park too. This isn't at all the kind of music I'd listen to out of choice but it's worked into the overall concept of the movie so well that it becomes seemless and works to establish a cool atmosphere around the proceedings and keep the viewer locked into the experience.
Obviously it is not the perfect movie and it's a shame everyone will never be able to see what this movie could have been at 100% completion. Nevertheless we have before us a cool movie with a lot of positives going for it and few flaws overall. Had this movie been completed in my opinion it would have been the best Counter-Strike movie ever created.
Thorin Rating: 8.5/10
Name: Na`Vi Edward@IEM5
A compilation of kills from Edward at the IEM V World Championship where he helped his team Na`Vi repeat as champions.
In general I think movies about single players from single events are a pretty flawed concept. The only way I think it works is either if it's really short, only containing genuinely good footage, or if it is a movie about an entire team and thus there's more to work with. When it comes to individual players even the likes of a neo or a f0rest putting up an MVP performance isn't going to get to more than 2-3 minutes until some filler frags or ecos or two kill nonsense gets thrown into the mix.
That's basically what this movie, as with all of the others of this specific kind, ends up being about: some good kills mixed with a lot of average filler kills. Sure within the relative context of the match or round some of these two kill body shots with an AK would have been really important or impressive. In a movie though all things rely upon the aesthetic and are judged objectively by the eye. There are a small amount of legitimately good sequences in this movie and a lot which are just ok or nothing to write home about.
Still I didn't say this was a bad movie or a boring viewing experience. For a player of this stature it's still worth watching their kills from an event, especially when they were so pivotal to their team winning the title. It's also the case that the moviemaker did a good job of creating an overall package and putting pieces together slickly. All in all the editing helps bring this movie up to a higher level than purely the frags alone should command and thus it ends up being entirey inoffensive, a decent watch for those who know what they're getting into from the title.
Thorin Rating: 5/10
Name: Fragged by Keep3r
A movie featuring frags from keep3r, a player who famously defeated Cooller at ASUS Winter 2004 and took a map off toxic at ESWC 2005. One of the 'Fragged by' series released on the cyberfight website.
As far as the 'Fragged by' series went I think this one got the least exposure or made the least impact. Admittedly keep3r was a significantly less well known player outside of the CIS region than any of the other players featured in the series and also this movie was not one which would blow people away. All the same those who didn't get to see it first time around can get their chance now.
This is very much a watch once and throw away kind of movie. Think of it more like a run of the mill action movie you just watch to pass some time and because you're familiar with the star. There are some nice kills from time to time but many are just average or have aged a bit and suddenly that single air rocket doesn't seem so good or that jumping rail has become commonplace.
Thorin Rating: 5/10
A compilation movie of kills from season four of the EDL (European Duel League) featuring the likes of Damiah, Purri and provi.
It's impressive to me this many good kills could come from a single duel season but then again it helps when you have some of the best Q2 players of all time playing. It's not even that the kills themselves are all out of this world. There are some sequences which are really good but it's more that even the lesser kills are fitted into sections where they make sense and work as part of an ensemble with other kills, the section featuring a lot of successive single rails being a good example.
There are some really nice sequences and kills. Of course everyone, even those who don't know much about Quake 2, know someone like Purri is going to produce great kills but I think the standout for me in this movie is Damiah. He's a special player and it seems like every movie he is featured in his kills end up being the best. This movie is no different as he has a ton of great kill sequences and shots.
The atmosphere of this movie is well crafted and the music fits the speed of each section of the movie very well. I like that the music selected has simple melodies which work well with the kinds of shots and scenes we're shown. Plus the pace is well matched at all times to fit the action which is unfolding. Even the reggae closing section is beautifully done. One of the best Quake 2 movies I've seen, and all compiled from a single EDL season which is highly impressive.
Thorin Rating: 8/10
Download: Quakeunity, ilja.balabin.net (right click, save-as)
Name: neo - The One
A compilation of kills by former a-Losers and mouz player neo. Created by the legendary kaLa, of 'Mousesports - Ready, willing & able', 'restOck4' and 'mousesports 2005' fame.
I'll come out right at the start and let you know I think kaLa is/was quite an overrated moviemaker. I did enjoy both of his mousesports movies but some of his other movies, including this one, always received far too much fanfare in my opinion. Many times his work has been a case of style over substance as far as I'm concerned. That said this was a big release back in the day and even still has qualities about it which make it an interesting piece.
This is one of the first movies where every piece seemed to be in place: it had someone who would go on to be a famous moviemaker producing it, the player himself was involved and provided POV demos for nearly all of the sequences and it came out while the player was highly esteemed for his individual skills. When a-Losers headed to CPL Summer in 2003 the big storyline was that we'd all be watching to see how Johnny_R would do after having left/been kicked out of mouz.
Instead when the German team finished 3rd at that event it wasn't Johnny_R we were all watching, or even an emergant Blizzard, but rather it was neo and his incredible skills who had dropped all of the jaws. It became quickly apparent that neo was one of the best German players by far at the time. So when this movie came out it was of course eagerly snapped up by everyone wanting to see more of this talent, who naturally was wearing mouz colours by the next CPL.
As I mentioned before this is a movie where the player himself was involved in the production and so he provided POV demos for nearly all of the scenes. This is huge, especially for the time period but even now, as it means we get the highest possible quality footage for these sequences rather than HLTV footage which is never of the same quality or feel. As a result this movie stands up fragwise a lot better than the HLTV movies of its day. Fragwise I wouldn't say it's really good, it can't really stand up to modern movies and the quality one can now expect of a highlight scene. Still the consistency is there and there are good kills, there simply are very few which are exceptional or have any wow factor to them.
In terms of editing the movie is well put together but there's not a whole lot going on technique-wise which is worth talking about. It's mainly simple cuts and speed-ups to kills. I am not a fan of the drawn out opening sequence which means it takes about two and half minutes before we see a kill from the first person POV, that always seem indulgent to me. Still for its era this was a well edited movie and for those who get caught up in these things it's understandable why they raved about it.
Musically it's so-so, decent enough music but not necessarily fitting of the scenes. Not that it stands out as out of place but rather that it's simply music behind the kills without that much interaction.
A solid movie which was stood the test of time in terms of the viewing experience even if it has aged in quite a few places and was never the work of genius many suggested it was.
Thorin Rating: 6.5/10
Game: Q3 Defrag CPM
A Defrag movie highlighting runs from Arcaon which are all, or once were, world records on those maps.
This might well be the best Defrag movie I've ever seen, certainly one of the most satisfying. The runs are impressive and most importantly they produce a high-like feeling during the more aesthetically beautiful sections of the map where the player can really build up to incredible speeds. In Defrag movies speed is like a drug and the faster the player goes the more speed the viewer wants and the more he laps up every twist and turn. The really incredible moments in Defrag movies are those where you feel the speed being cranked up more and more until your eyes feel barely able to keep up with the turns. At that level a blissful feeling overcomes the viewer and he doesn't want the run to stop. This movie has that and will leave that kind of adrenaline junkie satisfied at its conclusion.
The visual appeal of this movie is huge even beyond just the speed and each section and map looks beautiful. The editing is cleverly done so we have colour changes and contrasts between maps and all in all everything flows very seemlessly from one part to another. One could be forgiven for imagining this was one continuous run with teleporters which instantly lead to the next map and continue the run. Of course it isn't but that it can create that illusion shows how successful this movie is. This with a longer than usual running time yet which once it's over you wonder where all the time went. I wasn't bored for a moment and few movies can crack the 10 minute mark and boast that.
The music of this movie is wonderful and really one of the big reasons everything comes together so well. I've always loved drum and bass music in frag movies and I think this kind of liquid works particularly well in Defrag movies because it's so smooth, can run a melody for a long time and the drums tend to be consistently satisfying. The second track in particular in this movie takes the whole affair to another level and becomes euphoric in the feeling of integration with the movie. Even if you don't like Defrag movies or have never seen one before this is one to give a try. Lovely lovely stuff.
Thorin Rating: 9/10
Download: Quakeunity (1080p), pldx (720p - 50fps)
Stream: Quakeunity (1080p), pldx (720p - 50fps)
Classic movie magic
Name: n0thing but headshots
A frag movie starring n0thing, current EG and former Turmoil player. Created by highfive, the man behind the 'da bears' movie.
This is the best CS movie ever made. When someone who plays another game suggests to you that there are no good CS movies this is the one you direct them to. While the shaGuar movie I reviewed first in this feature had the dream setup this one is as close to it as you can get considering normal factors. You have the up and coming player very skilled player who is willing to use all the footage he has at his disposal, a competent moviemaker who can put it all together and crucially you have a player who understands he has to save up very good footage until he has enough for an entire movie to be made out of it.
That last point is really worth emphasising because with the amount of footage n0thing had most other players in his position would have had at least two movies made, over the span of a year or so. Each would have killer footage but then there'd also be filler frags and pointless ecos. This movie has none of that. Despite being almost 50% longer than a typical full length fragmovie this movie is practically filler-free and contains wall to wall top shelf frag footage. No movie in the entire world can boast this level of consistency in terms of the frags. I never thought any movie could top the first two wallenberg movies in terms of the kills but this one manages it.
Every conceivable insane kill is contained in the movie, or at least it feels that way when viewing it. Incredible AWP no scopes, wall shots, colt sprays, pixel perfect one shots, flawless bursts, masterful usp spam and impossible deagle headshots. This movie can give it to you any way you want it. Take even a third of the kills in this movie and put them into the movie of any other well known player and people would be raving about it as one of the best movies released. Yet in this case you have barely any drop off between all the impressive and insane sequences in the movie. The frags in this movie are so good that the movie practically became a knock on n0thing for the first few years of his career.
n0thing's raw skill is so high in this movie that the CAL-p level opposition he shreds (CAL-p in relation to the CGS players before their exodus from 1.6 that is) that when he attended major tournaments people were expecting him to do the same things every round against the likes of f0rest, Sunde and cogu. Of course that wasn't going to happen and when you throw in cheating accusations which went back a year or two, and likely have some degree of merit to their claims, and it's easy to see why people thought n0thing was one of those "movie players". Of course since then he's established himself as either the best or second best player in North America and has produced a nice back catalogue of rounds from real LAN tournaments to show his skills are transferrable.
The editing in this movie is well done and manages to experiment with different ways of setting scenes up without ever really getting in the way of the action itself. There are some nice set pieces to be viewed which use techniques we've seen before but in an effective manner to carry us from one part of the movie to another. The use of cutting away to show people being killed behind walls or running up to setup the scene is especially well done in this movie. The soundtrack works very well, althought I think the final track perhaps is a bit of a stretch. Many of these songs now likely have an indelible link to this movie due to how good it was.
Amazing frags, effective editing, nice set-pieces, a good soundtrack and an up and coming player hitting his peak skill-wise seen through POV footage. Really there's not a whole lot more you could ask for in light of the fact once players get to the absolute top tier you'll never seen scrim footage out of them again, and movies in general become much scarcer from them in terms of those directly involving their cooperation. The best CS movie to date and the best collection of frags captured to date.
Thorin Rating: 9.5/10
Download: cybergamer, gotfrag
What rating would you give each movie? Leave your answers in the comments section.
'Gaming at the movies' will return next Wednesday with another batch of movies to excite, infuriate and entertain you.
@Thooorin on twitter.
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