Author Archives: Jarrod Cunliffe

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Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me Review

Well, after two seasons before its cancellation, Twin Peaks was a series that fans desperately wanted closure to. So when series co-creator David Lynch announced a film, fans went wild — until the word “prequel” popped up. This was in 1992.

Now, as a huge fan of Twin Peaks, not to mention all things Lynch, I don’t particularly mind a prequel. I actually enjoyed Fire Walk With Me. Any excuse to get back into that town is fine by me. After sitting through it, however, it’s obvious that this harkens more to a classic David Lynch film and less like a Twin Peaks production, which will turn off fans of the series.

Chris Isaak 's Special Agent Chester Desmond knows when somebody's lying and hates this wicked game (couldn't resist).

Chris Isaak ‘s Special Agent Chester Desmond knows when somebody’s lying and hates this wicked game (couldn’t resist).

Set both one year and one week before the events of the show, FWwM begins with the investigation into the murder of Teresa Banks, given the briefest of mentions on the show. Chris Isaak and Kiefer Sutherland portray the FBI agents sent by fan-favourite Gordon Cole (David Lynch) to look into the murder.

It flashes forward to the days prior to Laura’s death and how it happens. This may claim to be Twin Peaks, but it doesn’t feel like it. The locations used are almost unfamiliar, or underused. The R&R diner gets a 30-second shot and the Sheriff’s Station (along with the entire police force) isn’t seen at all.

From there, things just get…well, weird. As this is a film and not network television, Lynch gets away with the sex and violence, but it just feels wrong, somehow. Seeing Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee)  topless may fit well with her character, but it’s uncomfortable to watch.

Fun fact: David Lynch has said that Lil the Dancer is (quiet literally) a red herring whose sole purpose is to spark debate about her meaning.

Fun fact: David Lynch has said that Lil the Dancer is (quiet literally) a red herring whose sole purpose is to spark debate about her meaning.

As for the cast: while many townsfolk return, there are noticeable exceptions: Lara Flynn Boyle chose not to reprise her role of Donna Hayward. Her replacement, Moira Kelly, certainly dresses the part, but the change is obvious. Kyle MacLachlan’s part is reduced to almost cameo status (he feared being typecast) and other favourites such as Audrey, Big Ed, Pete, etc. are nowhere to be found.

As for closure, well, without spoiling anything, you get pretty much next to nothing in terms of what happened after the events of the series finale. But that’s David Lynch for ya!

If you enjoyed the show, or if you just love David Lynch, you might as well give Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me a go. It’s by no means a bad film, just be warned: this isn’t the same trip you took and things are going to get a helluva lot weirder before the credits roll.

3skull

 

TWD-Arcade

The Walking Dead: Game Review

Developed by: Telltale Games
Published by: Telltale Games
Media reviewed: PS3

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve teared up in the last, oh, four or five years. After finishing Telltale Games’ latest production based on Robert Kirkland’s graphic novel, I’ll give it credit for adding another finger to that count.

These aren't zombies; this is Black Friday at Wal-Mart.

These aren’t zombies; this is Black Friday at Wal-Mart.

First things first: this game is set in the realm of the comics, NOT the show. It doesn’t make much difference, as you won’t encounter Rick’s group (well, most of it, anyway), but it is worth pointing out. You play as Lee Everett, a middle-aged man that’s sitting in the back of a police cruiser leaving Atlanta when the outbreak occurs. After your car crashes and you escape your bonds, you come across a young eight-year-old girl Clementine, whose parents were in Savannah when the shit hit the fan. Agreeing to look after her, the duo sets out — and thus begins one of the greatest and emotional duos in video game history.

Broken up into five “episodes,” gameplay is reminiscent of the PC point-and-click adventures of old. Moving one cursor around allows Lee to move, while the other interacts with the environment and characters. Throw in a few quick-time events when the undead start to appear and you’ve got the basic gist.The cel-shaded look makes it feel like a graphic novel and really immerses you into the world, but don’t let the cutesy look fool you: there are still zombies around and there are some absolutely brutal kills to be made.

The most fun is derived from the conversation system and the choices you have to make. Almost every conversation has four options (mapped to the face buttons) and a time limit to respond. You can usually choose the “…” if you’d rather keep quiet, or up to three other responses for the various situations you and your group finds yourselves in. It’s fantastic: do you want your Lee to be headstrong and selfish? Or compassionate and friendly? Do you care about Clementine or is she just a burden on your shoulders? There are so many ways to play and so many split-second decisions to make that multiple replays are practically a given. At the end of each episode, which take about 2-3 hours to complete, Telltale also lets you know by percentage how many players made (or didn’t make) some of the major choices that pop up. And trust me, there are some major choices that need making, often in a matter of seconds.

One of the greatest pairs in gaming history.

One of the greatest pairs in gaming history.

After five episodes playing as the compassionate, selfless Lee, I was left feeling such an emotional rush that I haven’t felt in a video game since the original Metal Gear Solid (I had a thing for Meryl). Unlike the countless silent protagonists or super soldiers that you’ll play as in games lately, you’ll actually care what happens to these characters. Unless you’re a complete sociopath, that is. By the time the credits rolled and the final post-credits scene played out, I was eager for Season Two.

There are a few glitches that pop-up and unfortunately, some of them were game breaking. In episode four, for example, I couldn’t leave a particular room without falling through the floor. I had to reload an earlier save twice just to avoid it. Annoying and immersion-breaking, yes, but forgiven once you get back into things.

If you didn’t download the game episodically when it was released, there is a disc version now available for $29.99 — an absolute steal for the amount of gameplay, replayability and pure emotion you’re getting with this package.

4skull

Twin_Peaks__Season_2_(1991)

Twin Peaks (Season Two) Review

Created by: Mark Frost & David Lynch
Media Reviewed: DVD

Welcome back to Twin Peaks!

After the brilliant, albeit short, debut season for Frost & Lynch’s small town murder mystery (view the Season One review HERE), season two was all but inevitable. Yet, sadly, the full length of this season actually detracts from what made the first so special. There are plot lines that bear little importance, and ABC’s demand that the killer be revealed early on in the season leaves the remaining episodes scrambling to tie-in. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still plunge in to what is still one of the quirkiest and best shows ever to hit the air.

Carel Struycken as The Giant, just one of the many supernatural beings that Cooper encounters.

Carel Struycken as The Giant, just one of the many supernatural beings that Cooper encounters.

[Spoiler Alert: Although I won't ruin the major revelations of this season, I do need to discuss some of what happened at the end of season one. Fair warning.]

STORY ARC AND BIG BAD

After the amazing season one finale, things are a bit chaotic around Twin Peaks. Cooper lies bleeding in his hotel room; the mill has burned down, leaving Catherine and Josie missing and Shelly and Pete hospitalized; Nadine is in a coma after overdosing; James is in jail after being framed by Bobby…the list goes on. For the first few episodes, catching Laura Palmer’s killer is still very much the focus. However, the aforementioned request by ABC means that investigation is over just one-third into the season. The new “big bad” takes the form of Cooper’s former partner, Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh). Earle is a formidable and psychotic opponent, with a deeper connection to Cooper that I won’t spoil. There are several plot lines that secondary characters go through that act as filler — which becomes quite obvious. These characters seem to lack much of the charm and Idiosyncrasies they held in season one. As such, these plots fall flat, most notably James’s encounter with a married woman that isn’t all she seems to be. I’m also not a huge Heather Graham fan, so her appearance (and subsequent love interest in Cooper) was unfortunate. Thankfully, all of these can be forgiven after watching the series finale. Without a doubt, this is the most disturbing, horrifying and chilling series finale I’ve ever seen. It more than makes up for the inherent lack of supernatural occurrences throughout this season. Some people may not care for its cliffhanging, but I absolutely love it.

CAST

Kyle MacLachlan as FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper
Coop is just as good this season as last. MacLachlan’s charm shines through, even as Cooper begins lying wounded on the floor.

Michael Ontkean as Sheriff Harry S. Truman
Once again, Ontkean is the perfect companion for Cooper and we get to see a more personal side of Harry late in the season for reasons I won’t reveal.

His high school chess club was cancelled after he kept murdering his opponents

He was kicked out of his high school chess club because he kept murdering his opponents.

Kenneth Welsh as Windom Earle
Cooper’s former partner that went insane arrives in Twin Peaks and serves as a satisfying foil to the good-natured Dale. Earle “plays” chess with Cooper as part of his twisted scheme. Welsh does a fine job in portraying a psychopath that wants to not only hurt Cooper, but has a darker motive behind his misdeeds.

David Lynch as Gordon Cole
A minor character, Lynch turns to acting as Cooper’s superior Gordon Cole. Essentially comic relief, Cole’s use of double hearing aids leads to cliched misunderstanding gags, but is just another addition to the kooky cast.

Just like last time, I won’t detail the remaining cast, as there are just far too many. Needless to say, they each go through some rather “interesting” events and issues (Keep your eye out for David Duchovny).

 

Miss Twin Peaks. Insert your own joke here.

Miss Twin Peaks. Insert your own joke here.

BESTS AND WORSTS
Unlike last season, this time I have no problem saying the best episode is the series finale “Beyond Life and Death”. It’s tough to say why without spoiling pretty much everything, but trust me; it’s incredible.

Worst is a lot more broad. After Laura’s killer is revealed, the series struggles to get back to an over-arching plot-line. Windom Earle’s arrival gives the law enforcement something to do, but minor characters suffer this transition, as the writers try finding other things for them to do. I can’t narrow it down to a specific episode; sadly, there will be a few that might leave you wondering if the wheels have fallen off.

FINAL WORDS
If you manage to stick with the show from the pilot all the way to the series finale, you’ll be able to overlook the few flaws and missteps that occur. This is a breed of show that is an endangered species. Frost and Lynch have crafted an incredible town that, once you enter, you’ll never want to leave.