Thursday, 15 January 2009

The Mist

So, I recently watched ‘The Mist,’ directed by Frank Darabont for the first time and I have mixed emotions about the film. There were parts I thought were excellent and some that were rubbish. I’ve not read the book, but from film reviews, the ending in the book is more open than the films’ controversial end.

There is a typical horror movie start with build up of tension as a mysterious mist overshadows a small community from a storm. David Drayton, his son and other customers are forced to dwell in the store after a man with a bloody nose and injuries runs to the store exclaiming, ‘there is something in the mist!’ As time passes, tensions ascend and after various attacks by a tentacle monster, over-sized insects and a pterodactyl like creature, the group begin to divide and turn against one another. The main cause of this is by Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), a religious activist who suspects the attacks are an act of God requiring sacrifice. She creates a sect from the psychologically pressured patrons. Harden does a spectacular job with the character. The portrayal of the character formed hatred towards Mrs. Carmody and when she did eventually die, the audience naturally cheered.

One thing that really annoyed me was the fact that in the first third of the movie, people kept entering the mist despite seeing the consequences such as disappearances, disembowelled bodies and hearing screams. In reality, I don’t think any sane person would do this in that scenario.

Darabont’s choice of minimal music throughout the movie was a wise choice as the silence definitely sets the mood and has a lasting effect on the audience to create fear. During the end of the movie, as the car drives slowly through the mist in the hope of survival, the powerful song “The Host of Seraphim" by Dead Can Dance is played. I thought this song depicted the end of the line for mankind’s fate perfectly.

The scene showing the tall creature stomping by the car near the end was constructed perfectly. The way it was presented in front of the sun and mist gave it an eccentric silhouette and a sense of wonder.

The ending was hardly gruesome, but it was gruesome in an emotional way and I thought it was rather ironic how a weapon meant for protection ended up being the cause of death for four out of the five remaining characters. I wouldn’t say it was the worst ending, just unexpected and a huge twist. Although the ending was a bit rushed, it creates emotion towards the audience. It made me feel slightly upset and depressed which are the emotions, along with anger that were meant to be experienced by the viewer. Darabont met his aim of wanting the audience to feel the emotions of David Drayton’s.

Overall, the monsters were only a small fragment of the movie. It was more about hope and humankind in addition to the psychological minds of humans and how they react in extreme situations.

The movie was stuck in my mind long after it was over with the recurring thoughts of ‘What if’ questions.

Saturday, 10 January 2009


Creativity is an open topic and can mean many things to people. It allows us to express ourselves individually. I see creativity as producing something new from ideas thought out from experiences and in the mind. When someone has innovative ideas, but does nothing about them, this is not being creative, it is just imagination.

Games manifest creativity through most characteristics. The graphics show what the creative minds of the artists and animators were thinking about how to portray the scenes in the game. Creativity is also revealed from the gameplay, for example, Nintendo Wii’s gameplay is original and it adds to the realistic effect of the player being immersed in the game.

I don’t think creativity has a common face as it lies within the individual to identify what they think is creative. If an idea for a game was original, I would class that as being creative as the concept is fresh as it shows the world something new.

As for who ‘does’ creativity, most roles include some sort of creative side. In gaming, the art director, artists and writers work very closely. The writers’ creativity is input into the storyline of the game or character specifications and profiles. Their writing may be influenced from life experiences or a dream of which they used to produce creative writing. The artists create the concepts, which may be an idea from a selection of experimental images and the art director uses their creative spark to manage what we, the gamers, eventually see and make the final product look appealing to gamers.

The idea that only special, talented people are creative and are born that way, shrink others’ confidence in their creative abilities. There is no such thing as being born with ‘talent’ or natural creativity; it’s a psychological matter. If someone says they want to be an artist, all it takes to be one are opportunities, training, being motivated, encouragement and practise, not ‘talent.’ The same applies to creativity. Mozart trained for 16 years before he produced master work that was acknowledged. The key was practise, do this and anyone can be creative with improvement over time and effort.
There may be, however, a dark side to creativity. By encouraging it, people are steered to detach from society's existing norms and values. Some people are so caught up in today’s norms and values that extreme expression of someone’s creativity could create controversy.

In my opinion, an immense amount of creativity was portrayed by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954). She was one of the most influential painters of the middle twentieth century. She studied medicine and never thought about being an artist until encountering an accident that left her bedridden more months at a time. To pass the time, Kahlo painted her thoughts, experiences, sexuality and pain (physical and psychological) onto canvases and became an artist.

I tend to express my creativity from my interests and experiences I have encountered in this world. Creativity doesn’t just happen; you have to explore and embrace the world around you to become influenced and inspired to create something exceptional.

Monday, 5 January 2009


Gameplay is all in the mind of the player. Whatever makes them feel in control and entertained in the game with an outcome could be considered as gameplay. There is a huge change in gameplay from the past 10 years. Qualities such as the complexity of the game and more controls of it are changing. You have Tetris, an addictive game that was played just using the arrow keys, there are PC games that use almost every key on the keyboard for the functions and then you have console games that use gamepads. They all have different controls for gameplay, but at the end of the day, it is the gamers’ choice as to what type of gameplay suits them. Personally, I prefer gamepad console games, simply because they are specifically designed for gameplay and provide more enjoyment from the game.

I remember when I first started playing fast paced games; I had a tendency to move with the gamepad during gameplay thinking it may help me to beat my opponent, but of course, it didn’t.

Companies are forming new ways to make the whole gameplay experience as realistic as possible. Take the Nintendo Wii, for example, their console has transformed gaming with the controller to give the player an opportunity for a new type of gameplay. Wii games such as ‘Red Steel’ and ‘Ghost Squad’ are first-person games that allow players to submerge themselves in the game. Gamers play as though they themselves are in the game experiencing the events firsthand which creates realism that most gamers crave. In ‘Quantum of Solace’ multiplayer, the first hand players’ aim is to eliminate each other. The first hand experience means that the gamers do not see the whole character until either player is dead.

Gameplay is important depending on the type of game being released. Games that concentrate on the gameplay more than any other aspect such as Wii games wouldn’t create a huge fuss about graphics being absolutely perfect with a high poly count.

I don’t think there are a definable set of rules for gameplay, because if there was, every game would be more or less the same.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Story and Character

From the television series Prison Break, the character Michael Schofield stands out. He intentionally commits a crime in order to be arrested to the same prison as his brother, who is falsely accused of murder, so he can break them both out. Of course, along the way there are obstacles but the way the character thought of an effective plan to get out of the dilemma is genius. It is unexpected which grabs the viewers attention, leaving them surprised as to what might happen next. The acting by Wentworth Miller is excellent but most of the credit goes to the writers of the Prison Break as the character is very dependent on the script.

Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight is an amazing performance. He portrays the character to be a sadistic mastermind determined to show the world its chaos and corrupt society. Ledger’s depiction of the Joker is not dependent on the script. His looks, use of body language and actions give the impression of his villainous character. One aspect of his character that stands out is when he licks his lips in the style of a reptile. Underneath it all, I could not see Heath Ledger; all I saw was the Joker, which is a sign of an outstanding actor.

A rather unusual storyline I encountered was from the movie ‘Brazil’ directed by Terry Gilliam. The plot is based on Sam Lowry, an agitated man in a futuristic society that is needlessly complex and inefficient. He dreams of a life where he can fly away from technology and overpowering government, and spend eternity with the woman of his dreams. Sounds simple enough, but I found various scenes such as a man being engulfed by paper a bit bizarre…

I am quite open about the types of storylines I enjoy, but I am keen on stories that leave me in a deep thought at the end of the movie because after watching a movie, I don’t want to just forget it and move on to the next. I research the movie and end up finding interesting background information such as the director’s experiences that influenced the film. Donnie Darko is a movie that’s out of the ordinary. It made me think back and analyse the film long after it finished, which a majority of movies are lacking.