Commentary

December 6, 2013

Fly Over: ‘Call of Duty – Ghosts’, and ‘Oldboy’

Call_of_duty_ghosts_box_art

In stores:

‘Call of Duty – Ghosts’

While “Call of Duty” often gets scolded for its rinse-and-repeat gameplay, I’ve always defended the series and given previous games a thumbs-up for enhancing the gameplay.
Whether it’s the storytelling of “Modern Warfare” or the effort to change the COD formula with “Black Ops,” the popular series always finds a way to change up the game.
My defense of the “Call of Duty” franchise has definitely made me aware of the flaws in the series. “Modern Warfare 3” was the last and final straw for me. The game was terrible overall, and I felt like they took “Modern Warfare 2” and just changed the font for MW3. I told myself I would never buy an Infinity Ward “Call of Duty” again.
Two years later, “Call of Duty Ghosts,” made by Infinity Ward, came out. And guess who was at the midnight release of the game? I was. I thought maybe I’ll give them another chance. I should have saved my money for something else worthy of it and my time.
First off, the story in this game sucks. There is no plot to the storyline. One mission you’re fighting underwater, then the next mission you’re fighting in space. Yes I said it — you’re fighting in space, with automatic rifles. How is that acceptable?
“Ghosts” hyped the new addition in story mode, which is the dog, Riley. He’s by your side for the beginning part of the campaign, and you can control him at some parts of the story. There are a lot of Michael Bay scenes in the story mode. What I mean by Michael Bay scenes is explosion after explosion, slow motion kills, impossible stunts, etc.
The ending of the story is OK. I’m not going to spoil it but prepare to have your mind blown. Other than that, the story is weak and a waste of time.
The multiplayer is also OK but nothing to go crazy over. New additions to the multiplayer are the squad points. They basically act as currency. If you’re good in a match, you will earn plenty of squad points. However, if you have an off game, you will earn little to no points.
The killstreaks in this game are horrible. In my opinion, Modern Warfare 2 had the best killstreaks when it comes to variety. Overall, COD Ghosts multiplayer seems rushed and poorly done. I hope that the next “Call of Duty” puts more of their focus on the multiplayer gameplay.
COD Ghosts overall is mediocre. It had so much potential to be amazing and change the COD franchise but winds up being another rushed first-person shooter. There are so much better first-person games out there, but everyone in the world winds up with COD because of the hype built up before the game drops. I hope Activision can turn it around and make an enjoyable “Call of Duty,” but until then, I highly recommend renting this game instead of buying it.

“The bells and whistles surrounding the game are muted and missing, leaving behind that same core without giving you enough new and exciting reasons to come back.”
— Drew Scanlon, Giant Bomb

Oldboy-movie-poster

In theaters:

‘Oldboy’

Spike Lee has taken on a challenging task in remaking the Korean cult classic, “Oldboy,” a beautiful, violent film that is routinely named among the best Asian movies ever made. While I’m not sure it needed to be remade (the outstanding original is only 10 years old), overall, Lee has directed a pretty good American remake, due in large part to the performances of Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen.
The original, from 2003, was directed by Chan-wook Park and was the second installment of his so-called vengeance trilogy, which also included “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” and “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.” The Korean version of “Oldboy” was loosely based on an earlier Japanese “magna,” or comic, of the same name.
The main character in “Oldboy,” portrayed in the original by Choi Min-sik (think of him as the Korean Benicio del Toro, for those who aren’t familiar with him) as Oh Dae-su, is incarnated here as Joe Doucett in a powerful performance by Josh Brolin (“No Country for Old Men”).
After a night of heavy drinking, Doucett, an alcoholic and thoroughly unpleasant advertising executive, awakens to find he has been kidnapped and imprisoned in a hotel room. He is kept in solitary confinement with nothing but a television, and for a while a family of mice, to keep him company. He is soon framed for the rape and murder of his ex-wife, which he follows on the local cable news. He also watches, helplessly, as his 3-year old daughter is placed in foster care.
Doucett is locked up this way for 20 years. During that time, he kicks the booze and makes an effort to turn his life around. He writes hundreds of letters to his daughter, even though he knows they will not be delivered.
When he is finally released without explanation, he embarks on a mission to find find out who imprisoned him and framed him for murder, and why. He emerges heavily muscled from exercising in his room and ready to unleash some serious violence on those who locked him up. What he uncovers is a dark web of deception and intrigue.
The violence — often administered in this movie with a hammer, as fans of the Korean version will remember — is one of the signature aspects of the original and is something Chan-wook Park is known for. In that regard, this adaptation does not disappoint. The entire movie, in fact, stays very true to Park’s original.
Brolin — who brings a haunting emotional intensity and a daunting physicality to the role — is superb, and an enchanting Elizabeth Olsen (the younger sister of Full House stars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) is tremendous as Marie Sebastian, a woman Doucett meets when he is released from his confinement.
Samuel L. Jackson is also great in a small role as the sadistic warden who runs the facility Doucett is confined in.
While “Oldboy” probably didn’t need to be remade, it brings a great story of revenge and salvation to an American audience. Roger Ebert said the original was a “powerful film not because of what it depicts, but because of the depths of the human heart which it strips bare.” It does, indeed, and Spike Lee and Josh Brolin have done right by the original. If for no other reason, this film deserves to be watched.
This film is rated R for strong brutal violence, disturbing images, some graphic sexuality and nudity, and language.

“Spike Lee is at his best when directing someone else’s material — and it’s absolutely true of Oldboy.”
—Gary Susman, Moviefone




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