Big Eyes Review: The Story Is In The Eyes

bigeyes

Tim Burton’s Big Eyes is an interesting departure of the director’s famed portfolio from the gloomy scenery animated type stylization films of his past. The story of Big Eyes is engaging to another level for Tim Burton as it is based on a true story, and though that does not always make a film great, it works to make Big Eyes relatively enjoyable as well in a different sense.

Big Eyes underscores the true story of Walter Keane (Chrisopher Waltz) who was an artist that received national acclaim for his art that centers on children with ‘big eyes’ in a sort of morbid portrayal of the world in which the eyes tell a thousand stories. Eventually, everyone finds out that Keane is not the charming salesman with a talent in painting that he tried to represent himself as, but one of the most popular plagiarists of his time considering his wife Margaret (Amy Adams) had been drawing the iconic style of paintings all along. Big Eyes not only works to provide a look into the social stratum of the 1950s and 1960s, but also serves as a biopic into Peggy Hawkins aka Margaret Keane’s life and struggle. Big Eyes veers towards the awakening of an artist, along with giving a general glimpse of her tough and difficult situation with her husband trying to take credit for her drawings and putting her down due to the gender politics of the time. It was a “man’s world” and Margaret Keane’s ethical stance grew stronger the more fame accumulated.

Suddenly, Margaret was the one seeing Big Eyes everywhere in the world as her life and struggles became chaotic in her pursuit to be recognized for her talents along with being truthful to her daughter as a modern day feminist example of never letting society define who you are. As predictable as the stoyline was, Big Eyes is all about telling a story which happened in the real world even if it is not entirely engaging and feels shortchanged from the years of struggle of the primary protagonist of Margaret. Big Eyes carries an intense legal and real-world plot prose with terrific acting by the cast and a storyline that may deviate from complete details, but is nevertheless a decent enjoyable narrative.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars




Posted By: Usman Ihtsham
ON Saturday, January 3rd, 2015
8:25 AM



WhatIfGaming Game Of The Year 2014

Hello fellow readers!

WhatIfGaming 2012 Game Of The Year Awards

While in the past we have used Bestof.whatifgaming.com to announce our winner, we want to aim for more simplicity this year and skip right to the winner of our awards panel’s decision. Every year passes by along with the new releases of that year, but few titles remain an exception and stay in our hearts forever. The WhatIfGaming 2014 Game of the Year title is the best in what it does and should be played at least once by anyone that seeks the best. The WhatIfGaming Game of the Year Award has descended from the sky once again to graciously token its honor to only the most worthy video game titles, and creators. Part of the “WhatIfGaming Prizes,” considered the Nobel prizes of gaming, the WhatIfGaming Game Of The Year Award is a prize emblem trophy chosen with extreme care and precision by notable industry developers and lastly finalized by the WhatIfGaming Team personally. 2014 is over, as sad as it is to say. It is time to look ahead but still look back time to time and remember 2014.

Expand>




Posted By: Usman Ihtsham
ON Wednesday, December 31st, 2014
11:23 PM



The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies Review – The Return Of The Mediocre King

hobbit

Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies has arrived and with it comes the finale to the longest running franchise this side of planet earth. Middle-earth is still the ever-expanding fantasy land of mountains, lush greenery, and tons of factions each with their own agenda. The action is all here in the final chapter of Jackson’s prequel trilogy, and though it does exactly what it says in the title – it sadly falls short of its own ambition.

The mood that Peter Jackson embeds within the start of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is one of sullen shock at the impending doom of Lake-town by Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), completely upset at being made an object of revenge for the Dwarfs ever since he took the Mountain. He sets off and sets Lake-town ablaze, for an opening of quite catastrophic proportions. The set pieces of the opening were rather small, but at the Mountain there was no set piece bigger than the acting performance by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) in a delirious state of having finally acclimated to the impending kingdom that lays before him.  Bilbo Baggins argues that they have ruined Lake-town, and the scene is cut short with its harsh discordant cut to Lake-town burning, thereby adding more tension and prose to the opening.

After Smaug is dealt with (we won’t spoil how here), Jackson shows a Middle-Earth clearly divided amongst the line of broken promises, and the salvation of people in a role-reversal as the refugees come pouring in from the now ravaged Lake-Town to an embittered and delusionally greedy Thorin who “would rather have war.” Luckily for all involved, Sauron’s army of orcs descend upon everyone for control of the mountain, which is said to be strategic point. The storyline pacing remains rather simple in its plot focus towards the beginning which is appreciated, but just seems to lose all sight of character development that was the grace of the original Lord of The Rings Trilogy as the Battle of the Five Armies begins. As a result, the majority of the film was an uninteresting war with a predictable storyline of redemption as a leader all while falling by the wayside of a lesser scope to the original trilogy in terms of the Battle of Helm’s Deep. After the huge war is over, we cannot help but feel the central concept of this finale to the The Hobbit trilogy as completely underwhelming to the audience and something that leaves nothing but more to be desired for all the wrong reasons.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars




Posted By: Usman Ihtsham
ON Sunday, December 28th, 2014
6:57 PM



Rome’s Catacombs – The Journey of A Lifetime

catacombs1

Rome is a mystery on its own. But the greatest mystery of them all is the one under the vast Roman Colosseum, where there’s an ancient civilization buried deep.  It’s time we here take you beneath Rome’s underground and into the heart of a once very living civilization.

Starting from the 10th century B.C., Rome kept on multiplying in size until well into the 5th century. A historian by the name of Vegetius wrote on the military decline at this time, and Rome wanted to show its vast power to its people still in the form of sites such as Circus Maximus, the Baths of Caracalla and even the Mouth of the Truth. The original street level was still preserved from the buried and flooded ancient civilizations, and nowadays you can find shops sprawling the upper city amongst Rome’s seven wonders.

The catacombs are the underground cemeteries where Christians would bury their passed on loved ones, especially considering the religion itself was not tolerated at that time due to the idolism that early adopters of Rome’s cultures supported. Currently, Rome has many catacombs similar to those in France, with seven being available for the public’s eye. A nearly 65-foot advertised graveyard and a 12 mile walk over 37 acres is what you will find here according to the guide book. There are popes, clerics, and many unnamed people’s graves and the feeling is almost downright spooky as you traverse cautiously and wearily through the terrain. Quite possibly the best thing people will find in the tombs are the Crypt of the Popes, where 3rd century pontiffs are laid to rest – something encapsulating and a bit saddening at the same time. Nowhere in Rome do you truly see the archaic history than you do in the catacombs.

One can also explore the Catacomb of Priscilla, based on the noblewoman who donated her land for the cemetery for reasons unknown. This site has morbid frescoes that are still in-tact, and has the first image of the Virgin Mary (or what is considered to be the first). The Office of Tourism – Rome provided us a guided tour for the catacombs called the Walks of Italy’s Crypts – which allowed us not only early access to the tombs, but to bypass a good amount of the security checkpoint line. A guided tour also allows native English speakers to truly understand what they are seeing and is a benefit to all.

So, what are you waiting for? It is time to see the early Greek-Roman world and explore the underground catacombs of the beautiful city of Rome for a different and slightly darker look into history. Get the incredibly guided tour by Walks of Italy Tour Company, explore the Crypt of the Popes or Mithraea even. The catacombs and their daunting presence await your glancing eyes.

This article has been published courtesy of The Office of Tourism – Rome




Posted By: Usman Ihtsham
ON Sunday, December 28th, 2014
9:41 AM



Sunset Overdrive Review: The Apocalyptic Fun Has Just Begun

sunsetmain

Insomniac Games has been creating some of the best franchises for Sony Computer Entertainment for a long time – most notably Ratchet & Clank along with Jak & Daxter. This time, they take their creative genius over to Microsoft with Sunset Overdrive – an open world action adventure which features zombies and a lot of heart in every part of the city. There is action here that ranged from jumping on railways speeding you to one dimension of the city, while being able to thrive and call the world your own.

Expand>




Posted By: Usman Ihtsham
ON Monday, November 24th, 2014
9:03 PM



The Division Developer Insider: “We Already Downgraded A Few Things”

Division Downgradeathon

We will not reveal our source dev (whose employment we confirmed and vowed we would not reveal the identity of) but the info should be taken with a grain of salt as a result. Today, I have the ultimate displeasure to inform the public that apparently the E3 demo of The Division was running on a PC and will be downgraded overall. Developers often overshoot for the moon and end up delivering next to nothing in terms of the visual garbage that the final retail copies end up becoming (Far Cry 3, Watch Dogs, Dark Souls II in comparison to their non-downgraded counterparts). This sort of false advertising and marketing absolutely has to stop. It is a vile and dementedly sick way of companies to make money off of people who obviously preorder because the game is visually impressive. Yes – some may claim “gameplay weighs in more” but this is arguable.

He tells us the following:

We really loved the reception to the demo we showed on the PC version at E3. Currently as it stands, there is definitely a lot of push coming from publishers to not make the experience so different on consoles as to alienate people into thinking that next generation is not as powerful as PC. This is probably what happened at Ubisoft Montreal. I think that while making stability changes is definitely important, it does not completely obliterate a lot of enhanced rendering applications.

Right now we already took out quite a lot of screen space reflections from the game and are working on asset management the best we can given consoles have that great unified memory. Naturally we will also be using online servers and have to produce a synchronization that higher graphics add to the latency so it had to be turned down. To me it still looks good, but not as good as the original reveal. I am sure as we get closer to launch and the actual console versions of the game featuring SD (Snowdrop) that it will start to seem all too obvious to people especially those on PCs. I just wanted to write and let you know that it definitely is not just stability but marketing politics plays into this a lot as well.

UPDATED 2nd Response from The Division Developer: Truth be told in regards to your question that while ‘Yes’ the lead platform is the PC, we simply cannot have such a big gap. As you know when the first WATCH DOGS Review was published by that one site, Ubisoft called it a “false review” and I am sure everyone can see how bad that sounded when they saw the game did look marginally better than something that was a last generation GTA IV. But no, they will not admit that they practice this or actively downgrade a game. It is much easier to say they removed things for stability which is often a lie as you can tell by the post-issues which are expected in any production we do.

Also to answer your 3rd question, no…they will never fully disclose what was removed from what build as no laws ask them to do so in terms of consumer rights. If we as developers published that information in very real terms for the consumer such as “Replaced particle fog simulation with 2d layer simulation in 3d space, removed particles from all explosions, lowered explosion volume multiplier by 20x, removed X # of trees and civilians, etc.” we would be out of a lot of sales and probably it would actually require too much time to deliver on the current hype that a lot of downgraded games see which look incredible with a vertical slice.  I do share this in the hope’s that my colleagues and publishers and a lot of people who make false promises and do demonstrations which wrongfully create too much hype that they cannot deliver on ultimately stop doing such things. I want to see the industry actually move forward and not be so full of itself by promising too much and delivering too little. Regards

Our insider who is currently in the graphics technical division at Ubisoft Massive in Sweden contacted us because he too is sick of the practices that a company like Ubisoft has become all too known for. If Ubisoft denies downgrades have not happened and uses the lame excuse that “it is for the gamers and stability we did what we did” then there is certainly no reason for the PC/console parity to exist because currently the downgraded Watch Dogs runs sub-par still which is an utter joke. Everyone knows “next generation” currently as it stands is utter marketing BS. Of course, a lot of the uneducated folks out there feel this is more. Next gen, means next gen! If this is the case, PC raw throughput has the greatest power of any console despite having lower development focus (due to piracy). Essentially if it is not obvious by now: Next Gen has diminished any chances of making graphics leaps for the marketers to make more money on “next-gen” until the next next-gen comes out. It is a great marketing hype that is all too common in the gaming industry.

Bottom line: Publishers  and developers – stop lying and rely on actual gameplay that is close to the real thing to do your marketing for you. And if you did remove a lot of features that affected the stability of the game, make sure to release a full disclosure of what this is before the game comes out. Oh wait…but then you would not see as many sales. Tsk tsk.




Posted By: Usman Ihtsham
ON Thursday, November 20th, 2014
4:24 PM