This week's box office gives you seven movies in total, more than half of which came out this year. New releases like GAME OverDrive and Strenx 2010 sit alongside the undiscovered KAB0M does Playnation and the sometimes overlooked Kaamo5. As usual the feature closes out with a classic piece of gaming movie history sure to cause waves of blissful nostalgia to wash over you or spark your interest in a movie which excited so many when it was released almost a decade ago.
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Name: GAME OverDrive
A compilation of frags from the career of tp|uSports/ forZe captain OverDrive.
I wasn't feeling this movie at all and something really seemed off the whole way through as I analysed each element of it. Firstly the frags are really quite flawed as despite a running of over five minutes we see some kill sequences which really were not worth highlighting. First thing which springs to mind is a single usp kill down the four train outside on de_train. Why this should be shown in a frag movie, with a replay showing the enemy's death animation no less, is beyond me.
Some of the frags on paper were good but the problem is that they all came from laggy HLTV demos, not even the kind which heavily lag but the type where the lag is always consistently on the kills. This means you don't even really feel the impact of the kills or find yourself able to appreciate them. The entire movie felt distanced from me in that sense, as though I couldn't actually touch or feel it because I was separated by some forcefield or barrier. It's crucial that the viewer is able to feel the frags for a movie to work well.
Musically this was a real mixed bag. I love that RATM song but it didn't really do anything amazing for me except replace a potentially bad song over the same piece of the movie. The second track I thought was pretty bad and I found myself liking that part of the movie less. The third track is only used for the closing 1v2 sequence which is a good lead-in to that abomination. The ending for this movie was completely pointless in my opinion. You see bad 'real life' camera footage of OverDrive's two opponents in a 1v2. If this had been really short and their reaction to dying really funny or intense then perhaps it might have had value. Sadly we're instead treated to a drawn out 1v1 where the last opponent seems to be borderline braindead and checks the same two spots again and again before losing the 1v1 while defusing the bomb, hardly thrilling or epic material.
Finally I thought I'd end of the death animations issue because I've noticed this problem has really spiralled out of control in this era of movie editing. There are just way too many replayed kills where all you're seeing is a third person point of view camera, usually from an adjusted angle, showing the enemy's model dying to the shot. Once or twice this is acceptable, or if the player was behind a wall or in some unusual position like falling. Sure, then it might even be a good thing, but this is just overkill of a ridiculous nature and makes the movie become fairly humdrum and boring in places.
Think of the clip on train where OverDrive works his way through inside to connector. Because we're even being shown the replayed animations during the clip the entire thing takes way too long and becomes pretty snoreworthy by the end. Often these moments tended to be a lazy way of trying to crowbar some synching in too.
Thorin Rating: 4/10
Name: Quake Cyber Generation REDUX
Editor: ZeRoQL and Domino
A highlight movie which sees ZeRoQL (The Gate Keepers, Unagi) team up with Domino to create a film about the Serbian's old Quake 3 team, QCG.
I'll say right out of the gate that ZeRoQL is one of my favourite current moviemakers and it seems as though every movie he brings out he's doing things which strike a chord with me and appeal to my own particular sensibilities. So seeing his name on this production, knowing he's made some of the best QL movies so far, means I have to go into it a certain degree of expectations in terms of how good it could and should be. All the same when I saw the premise of it being his old team and knowing the way team movies can sometimes go, having to showcase every member and some not being as skilled as others or not having good footage, I had a few reservations over whether or not this would be a really good movie.
After watching it I have to say it surprised me in some ways, satisfied me in others and all in all left me feeling good about my viewing experience. A lot of the different elements of the movie, from the synching to the music to the frags, weave together to produce a very solid movie which is good all of the time and occasionally really good. I wouldn't be willing to put it up there with the great movies, or even ZeRoQL's best efforts so far, but it's certainly a nice way to spend 10 minutes and one every Q3/QL fan should give a watch.
The music is the first thing which grabbed me because it's a nice drum and bass soundtrack which really helps to amp up certain sections of the movie to the kind of breakneck speed frenzied fragging works really well with. The soundtrack all in all I thought was well chosen and fitting nearly all of the time. The one track I didn't like, the Chase & Status one, I was even able to quickly get over since once the actual action synched to it I found it did its job and was listenable enough. The synching in this movie is well done in many instances and I like the way it felt naturalistic at times instead of being forced or over-the-top.
The frags were on a really good level in terms of consistency and there's plenty of satisfaction to be found in this collection of air-rockets, even including some of the blind/flukey ones. It did feel like some of the double rails were drawn out too much due to the replaying from a third person POV, sometimes that really wasn't worth seeing again, and also there is rail kill where we never get to actually see it from the first person POV which annoys me mildly. I also think those kinds of replays should only be done after the kill and never during the sequence itself as they always take a little bit of steam off the frenzy of the scene.
Another gripe was the Quad damage section which actually was quite pointless for me. I really couldn't enjoy those kills at all due to how much was cut out on either side and how quickly I was shunted into the next ones. That felt like the one part of the movie which was forced as some of the kills were robbed of their feel purely to fit individual beats in the music. Still the sequence was thankfully not too long or overbearing so I soon was able to leave it behind.
A fun movie, hinting at times at being something really good but ultimately ending up being just consistently good with nice moments and a lot of enjoyable elements mingling together in the right quantities.
Thorin Rating: 8/10
Download: gamefront, maverickservers
Name: KAB0M does Playnation
A minimovie of KAB0M playing at Playnation.
This is not a movie featuring a top level player or the efforts of a well known movie editor. Instead this falls into the category of one of those movies picked out when I'm watching random movies in the SK Gaming video section and I come across one with some promise which is worth highlighting here. This is a minimovie with a lot going for it and is an enjoyable watch on many levels.
Firstly the way the movie is put together is satisfying for me as the capture method makes the action feel silky smooth and I'm never bothered by the lag of HLTV kills or unnecessary motion blur. Sure the obituaries are a little bit difficult to read but then again since I know he's not playing against known players it becomes much less of an issue and in fact I think the resolution helps with the smoothness of the end product.
The editing is nicely done and pieces bits together and gets you past boring sections very well so that you don't even have to think about the editing and can just watch the action. The music is nice enough to listen to with this action and worked well with the slow-down done after significant ending kills. The frags are good throughout, obviously you can see he's not playing against high skilled opponents but even so the kills look good and executed well. One or two even are a little more than just merely nice.
A movie which comes from nowhere but delivers a nice enough little experience for the discerning viewer.
Thorin Rating: 6/10
Name: Strenx 2010
A compilation of frags by QuakeLive's most improved dueler over the last year or so: Strenx, who seems to be knocking on the door of the elite four ( rapha, Cypher, av3k and Cooller) harder than anyone else out there right now.
Strenx has established himself as an entertaining player in many regards, from his playing style to his on-camera/interview personality, and one would expect a movie built around him to be high quality. I think this minimovie hits the right spots but just lacks a little here and there to really wow the viewer. Aesthetically it's a nice little piece and the image quality, the colours, the editing and the synching will definitely impress the viewer. This is a movie which feels more like a single entity than separate elements of kills, editing, music and so on. That certainly works in its favour and makes it a nice watch.
The frags are one of the areas where I find myself a little torn with this movie. There are some pretty nice kills and I think they do a good job of showing off Strenx's playing style and strengths. All the same though there's something about them where not enough really give me a kick and make me feel like "wow, what a great sequence" or see sparks flying off the screen due to some magical moment. Instead these kills are good, consistently, and on paper some would be considered really good when you look at the context of the tournament or who they are against. Still on paper is one thing and how it feels to actually experience something is quite another.
I do like this movie because it feels like a effort went into smoothly fitting all the pieces together so it feels quite seemless. The use of 'real life' footage is well done and adds to the feeling of the movie. The music is definitely not my type but I really had no problem with it because it seemed appropriate within the context of the movie and certainly the vibe resonanted with other aspects. All in all maybe this movie is fitting in the sense that like Strenx himself it's good at times, sometimes bordering on really good, but hasn't fully lived up to its potential and you feel like there's still more you could have been given to push the viewing experience to a higher level. I went back and forth on whether or not to give this a 7 but in the end I felt like this was the more reasonable rating long term.
Thorin Rating: 6.5/10
Download: gamefront, sendspace
The fifth movie in the series starring ex- e*star, Junk52 and astralis player Kaamos.
Kaamos was never an elite Finnish player, as his spell in astralis showed, but he was a good semi-elite player and his style of play certainly predisposed him to produce good movie footage. When this movie first came out it felt really nice and was an unexpected surprise with how good it was. Rewatching now I have to say it's lost a bit of its sheen and it's now merely an above average movie which just creeps over into being legitimately good at certain times.
The first part of the movie feels a lot less strong than the ending part. Fragwise there are some kills which have aged quite a bit, the alley spam train sequence comes to mind, but one should not overlook that there are still some really good AWP kills in this movie. A few of the train AWP scenes still hold up against pretty much anything from modern day, if not quite always at that kind of a level in terms of craziness. This is a movie which looking back on could have done with a bit of trimming fragswise and as a result would have made more of an impression even now.
In terms of editing it's done well enough and when it came out it felt fairly fresh and well put together. There's nothing in your face or incredible about the editing but it does it's job and gets you from point A to point B without wondering what's taking so long or feeling too outdated. Musically the movie is decent enough most of the time, though there was a period in it where the guitar aspect was a little too whiny for me.
A solid movie which might not seem so impressive or exciting now but still has its moments and still deserves a watch by those who've never seen it before. It's also nice that we get to see plenty of teams and players on the receiving end of kills who were known back during this time period, so it's not just against randoms or bad players.
Thorin Rating: 7/10
A minimovie featuring kills by the legendary TaZ, one time in-game leader and famous player for Pentagram/MYM.pl/AGAiN/FX.
This isn't a good movie in any regard and it isn't a must watch either. It is however decent enough and with some charms which make it worth a watch if you like TaZ. What I think this movie does best is use clips which capture TaZ's playing style, which has always been unique but effective. Fragwise I had a lot of time for this movie, even when it resorted to showing me eco frags. Even most of the eco scenes have their own merit in this minimovie.
The action was captured so it can seem a little blurry around the edges at times which I don't like but otherwise the editing and production seem acceptable. The music is pretty vanilla but it isn't offensive to the ear beyond that. A nice little three minute or so blast of TaZ kills which turns out better than I'd expected going in even if it has problems and isn't ever going to be considered a good movie.
Thorin Rating: 5.5/10
Classic movie magic
Name: ClanBase Eurocup III 'the movie'
Editor: Amsterdam Wob
Game: Q3 and CS
A movie highlighting action from the ClanBase Eurocup III LAN finals featuring Quake teams such as unmatched, All-Stars and iCE cLIMBERS as well as the two Counter-Strike finalists exousia and TAMM.
This is a very old movie but it's also a bonafide classic that still stands up as a fun movie to watch even today, closing in on a decade after its release. This was one of the earliest Quake movies, certainly one of the earliest Counter-Strike movies, and the level of effort which went into making it cannot be overlooked. I strongly remember reading somewhere that Amsterdam Wob had had to individually insert and synch up the weapon sounds in this movie. Nowadays we take them for granted as they can be captured easily enough but this was a huge step at a time when it was standard to simply have the kills with no in-game sounds and instead purely music playing in the background.
This is a really well edited movie and should reasonably still be considered one of the best in terms of setting up the atmosphere and using music and synching to create something beyond the sum of its parts. From the first frag sequence, of stelam, with its uptempo metal soundtrack matching ferocious and nonstop fragging to the graceful gliding switch to the ghost in the shell soundtrack and a more slow-paced scene. This moviemaker really had an ear for what kind of music to pick to complement his editing style and the action contained in that section. Each piece of music elevates the action so that exciting action is coupled up with the right kind of atmosphere and becomes even more entertaining.
The Counter-Strike section has suffered the most from the passage of time and is basically just eco frags, which themselves were completely worthless under the Charges Only rulset, but even then that section doesn't last too long and also for those with a nostalgia for that era it's nice enough to see a little bit of that version of CS. The movie closes strong with a nice bit of tense in-game action from the ic-unmatched dm7 map and that restores some of the pace and excitement of the movie.
Sure time hasn't left this movie untouched or without any signs of decay but what is more impressive is how good it still is as a movie and how effective its different sections are. It also helps that it has a really good soundtrack for the kind of action it displays. If you've never seen it you owe it to yourself to give it a watch and if you've seen it before you need to relive it and discover just how many scenes were ingrained in the annals of your memory.
Thorin Rating: 7.5/10
What rating would you give each movie? Leave your answers in the comments section.
'Gaming at the movies' will return on Wednesday with another batch of movies to excite, infuriate and entertain you.
@Thooorin on twitter.
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