The Call Up (2016): Universally Hated (Review)

Still from The Call UP

Written and directed by Charles Barker (His second time in the big chair and his first feature length film.) The Call Up stars a number of relatively unknown Brit actors and a plot that is three parts CoD and one part Existenz. For whatever reason, this film is almost universally hated by gamers and film audiences alike. 

In a many ways The Call Up is also reminiscent of Gantz, a 2004 Japanese anime where players enter a virtual reality world to battle creatures and monsters. These gamers also died, but to gain entrance, the player had to have died in real life first.

Unlike Gantz, this film’s plot is quite straight forward.

A group of seven online gamers have been recruited to take part in a virtual reality trial run of a new gaming experience.  The participants don special suits and gear to play.

As the game progresses, the volunteers learn that this virtual reality game play  can be deadly. The players love the experience initially but as the game progresses and they begin to die, the whole experience becomes a fight for survival.

Part of the problem may have something to do with the film’s faint resemblance to the Ubisoft video game Haze.  The 2008 video game was roundly panned by critics on both sides of the pond.

The Call Up is not that bad, it may rely on stereotypes to a certain degree but to be fair, the film is not a Shakespearean tragedy. The premise is that the players who enter the game via the virtual reality helmets and gear will die if not given  a media-pen injection in time.

Complaints include the musical score of the film and the acting, which is actually pretty decent considering the actors are all British and affecting American accents.

Critics have been more accepting of the film while gamers, on sites like IMDb, have almost unanimously panned the movie full stop. UK newspaper The Guardian actually quite liked the film, calling it cheap and cheerful.

All the action takes place in one location and if there could be any complaints at all it would be with the A. I. sergeant who barks orders at the players. (The thing actually interacts physically with the gamers as well, beating one and breaking the leg of another.)

The sergeant has a slightly robotic sound as it directs and instructs the gamers on what they should do. It an annoyance to have that sort of character in the game. First person shooters (FPS) have characters which sound quire realistic, actors like Tony Todd, for example, have lent their talents to games like Call of Duty (CoD).

CG in The Call Up is good enough that it carries the storyline well and provides enough believability that the viewer can get caught up in the action. The players who enter this virtual reality world may seem a tad two dimensional but once again this is an action/adventure FPS film, not high art.

There are no “names” in the film and this adds to the action.  The director does a good job carrying the film’s momentum forward and there are no bits that drag.  The Call Up runs for 90 minutes and not once does the film get off track.

In terms of endings the final few moments of the film can be termed an anticlimax.  The Call Up  is a solid 3.5 star film. The concept is entertaining as is the film itself. Streaming on Netflix at the moment the film  is definitely worth a look or two.

The Last of Us Sequel Confirmed?

Poster for The Last of Us
Nolan North, the actor whose voice seems to be in just about every video game made over the last 10 years, and who also worked on the Naughty Dog game The Last of Us, has apparently confirmed a sequel. North, best known perhaps for his work in the Uncharted franchise, another Naughty Dog game series, which (on a side note) will be back in Uncharted 4 with, Troy Baker (from The Last of Us) and Emily Rose is back as Elena Fisher, as well as Assassin’s Creed, from Ubisoft, as Desmond Miles.

In The Last of Us Troy Baker worked as Joel, along with the wonderful Ashley Johnson (aka @TheVulcanSalute) as Ellie and Nolan voiced crazy bad guy David who sounds completely unlike anyone else North has voiced. So it is a nice touch to see Baker “cross-over” as it were to Uncharted territory.

All fanboy gushing aside, North was at MetroCon where he was “caught” talking about The Last of Us 2. A question was posed about whether Nolan had any further Naughty Dog work lined up and he says, “I know they’ve got The Last of Us 2…” If following the link, and the reader does not want to watch the entire video, Nolan says this around 1:06, feel free to jump forward.

This is pretty exciting but also a bit concerning. In terms of games and almost perfect endings, Joel and Ellie’s journey stops where it should. There was no real place to spot an opportunity for sequel city to come in. For anyone who played the game it goes without saying that their world was not going to be a great place to be in by the end.

Still, the voice work of Johnson and Baker gave this “out-of-the-box” gaming experience a reality and empathy that propelled the gameplay into a different experience from most games on offer. The news that Naughty Dog want to return is a mixed blessing for fans of both the company and their games. With Nolan’s “slip” all that remains is for Neil Druckmann and company to provide a little more information for fans.

Until any official word is released, have a look at the remastering trailer for The Last of Us for the PS4:

Playstation 4 Phishing Scams Target PSN Already

Playstation 4 Phishing Scams Target PSN Already

On the day that reports are showing Playstation 4 doing well against the new Xbox One it has been reported that the new generation console has phishing scams that target PSN users already. Thus far the console wars have really been a “two horse race” between Sony and Microsoft, with Nintendo settling on tweaking software and emphasising game playability/popularity.

 

Black Friday PS4 Launch Starts in United Kingdom at Midnight

Black Friday PS4 Launch Starts in United Kingdom at Midnight

Like many other American “traditions” Black Friday has come to the United Kingdom and the PS4 Launch started at midnight in Game stores across the country coinciding with the “new” marketing tradition. While many publications in the UK have questioned the wisdom of English retailers aping American stores and their “official” Christmas shopping period, gamers came out in force Thursday night to line up for the Sony next gen console launch.

 

Xbox One and Playstation Four Would You like Some Nudity with That Glitch

Xbox One and Playstation Four Would You like Some Nudity with That Glitch

Both Xbox One and Playstation Four are having issues. It’s a case of would you like some nudity with that glitch or perhaps some profane language that would make a sailor blush? It would seem rather fitting that glitches from brand new consoles would evoke quite a lot of profanity from the gamer who had just shelled out a major amount of cash for either console. To turn it on and get the “blue light of death” or, in the case of Xbox, “disc drive doom” would certainly cause most consumers to come out with language that could make ears bleed or turn the air a different hue.