Playstation 4 Video Game Review “Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition”

Platform: Playstation 4
Edition: Standard
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Rated: Mature
Release Date: January 28, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Going back to a few years ago, I saw that another “Tomb Raider” was coming out and I definitely rolled my eyes a little. This series was definitely lost its appeal for me and probably many others as well. Well then this amazing new cinematic reboot adventure was released and Lara Croft’s status of queen of video games was rightfully restored. I mean this game was such an improvement over the last in the series and just blew me away. So I thought to myself when I saw about the “Definitive Edition” being released, if it was really going to be worth the upgrade from PS3 to PS4…well, holy cow it feels and looks like a whole new game!

Official Premise: The cinematic action-adventure that forced Lara Croft to grow from an inexperienced young woman into a hardened survivor has been re-built, featuring an obsessively detailed Lara and a stunningly lifelike world. To survive her first adventure and uncover the island’s deadly secret, Lara must endure high-octane combat, customize her weapons and gear, and overcome grueling environments.

First of all, with PS4 you are talking about the game displaying in 1080p Blu ray quality. The game itself isn’t just much crisper looking, the entire game was basically re-engineered with more powerful physics and lighting engines. The visual detail is actually mind-blowing. When I was playing this game on PS3, I thought it looked fantastic. But now going back to PS3, it notice so many difference that I am just more and more impressive with the next-gen version. This game is just beautiful and have never looked better…even on PC.

One of the aspects that really blew me away was the fact that the head and face of Lara Croft were completely rebuilt. It looks like two different people now. The skin is so much more realistic and vibrant. Even to the point that when it gets hot in the environment, Lara sweats. I mean that is just outstanding to me. There is just this overall important in the richness of the colors. I did not think at all that this game could improve as much as a it did. Plus the Definitive Edition allows voice and gesture control (if you have the camera add-on). You can ask for map or name a weapon to equip.

The Definitive Edition also includes all the released DLC for this game like the Tomb of the Lost Adventurer, six outfits for Lara, a digital mini art book, and the digital comic “The Beginning, weapon attachments, multiplayer maps etc. The multiplayer still isn’t super impressive but either way I am more concerned about the single player mode for this game. If you have never played this game, where have you been? I highly recommend this game since it is just such an improvement on PS4 and honestly one of the main reasons, I even purchased the system to be honest.

DVD Review “The Definitive Document Of The Dead”

Actors: George A. Romero, Tom Savini, Roy Frumkes
Directors: Roy Frumkes
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Synapse Films
DVD Release Date: November 13, 2012
Run Time: 102 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

When “The Document of the Dead” was first released in 1985, the documentary by filmmaker Roy Frumkes focused purely on the production of the 1978 film “Dawn of the Dead”. “The Definitive Document Of The Dead” expands more on Romero’s career including work on “Land of the Dead”, “Diary of the Dead” and “Survival of the Dead”. There is a disclaimer in the beginning stating that this film was film over 32 years and the film’s vision has changed over the years. Fans of “Dawn of the Dead” and Romero should already known about this film and respect that Roy Frumkes is a life-long fan of his work. The film as a documentary isn’t Shakespeare but I feel that it does give Romero the credit that he deserves and never seems to get. Synapse Film released a DVD of this film going back almost 15 years now. So this is a welcomed revisit and packaged with a new “Definitive” cut. Also if you are a mega-big fan of this film, there is an Exclusive Limited Edition Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack limited to just over 1,000 copies on the Synapse Website. So that would be the ticket for hardcore fans, if it is even still available at the time of writing this.

“The Document Of The Dead” primary focus is “Dawn of the Dead” and it covers everything from pre-production, production and post-production. Frumkes was there shooting during the production and includes some very intimate interviews with Romero, (producer) Richard Rubinstein, special effects artist/actor/stuntman Tom Savivi, as well as several cast and crew members. I also liked how the film comes around through time and we get to see Frumkes and Romero reunited and reflecting on the film over time specifically during a segment on “Two Evil Eyes”, which showcased on a detailed special effects segment. The new interviews included in this are also a real treat.  Being a horror fan myself “Dawn of the Dead” is so iconic and this is a perfect companion piece to the film itself. This “Defintive” cut really dives further into his career and the film/series over the years…especially with spin-off like “Night of the Giving Head”. Trust me if your a guy, you need to watch this!

Official Premise: “George A. Romero, director of the original Night of the Living Dead, is one of the horror genre’s most celebrated filmmakers. Roy Frumkes amazing 1978 documentary Document Of The Dead was an intimate look at Romero’s creative process, with an outstanding collection of interviews, effects demonstrations (courtesy of make-up artist, Tom Savini) and behind-the-scenes footage from the classic horror film, Dawn of the Dead. This newly re-edited and re-mastered 2012 version of the award-winning documentary contains all-new exclusive material including additional interviews with Romero’s family and friends, candid on-set footage from Two Evil Eyes, Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, Survival of the Dead and Many More Surprises! the Definitive Document of the Dead is a loving portrait of a horror legend, and a must-see for any hardcore horror fan!”

The DVD special features are a little bit of a let down since it is missing quite a bit of extras from the previous release. The only extra included on this release is an all-new 2012 audio commentary track with Roy Frumkes. It is fantastic to get a chance to hear a new perspective on the film from the director. I would have also like to had the previous audio commentary with director Frumkes, cinematographer Reeves Lehmann, and narrator Nicole Potter included as well, as well as the twenty minute interview segment from “Two Evil Eyes” with Adrienne Barbeau, George Romero, and Tom Savini. Still though if you already own “The Document of the Dead” DVD you have that already. This is the “Definitive” release with a longer cut doc and a new commentary, so it is all worth it in that sense.

Book Review “Hardware: The Definitive SF Works of Chris Foss”

Author(s): Rian Hughes, Imogene Foss
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: September 6, 2011

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

When it comes to anything science fiction…sign me up. I have always been a fan of the genre ever since my family used to take me to the Sci-Fi Diner in MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studios) in Walt Disney World. There was always just something about the out-of-this-world design that really drew me in. Chris Foss is known for his work in this area with creating some of our times “coolest” sci-fi art.  The book is a beautiful visual journey through his work. Though it if you are looking for supporting text to provide insight into each piece you will be disappointed.

Foss’s unique and groundbreaking science fiction art dramatically raises the bar in the 70’s-80’s. It is known for its realism and invention mixed with his science fiction twist. The art you will find within this definitive work ranging from his trademark battle-weary spacecraft to his dramatic alien landscapes. If you ever read any science fiction novels in the 70’s-80’s, then you are familiar with his novel artwork for sure. I just love his ideas and his creations. I just would have like more background on each image.

This volume features Foss’ work for books by Isaac Asimov, Doc Smith, Arthur C. Clarke, A. E. van Vogt and Philip K. Dick, and film design for Ridley Scott and Stanley Kubrick. Titan Books did a great job of releasing a very sweet looking book overall. The images on the pages are so crisp and colorful that it literally draws you to the page. If you are fan of Foss, you will enjoy being able to view many rare and classic images that have never been seen or reprinted before.

Book Review “Watching the Watchmen: The Definitive Companion to the Ultimate Graphic Novel”

Author: Dave Gibbons, Chip Kidd, Mike Essl
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: October 21, 2008

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I have been a huge “Watchmen” fan dating back to the original graphic novels. When the film came out, which I LOVED, I felt like it literally jumped off the pages of the novel. This is the ultimate visual companion to the amazing graphic novels. You know that this book is going to get some love since it is authored by award-winning artist of the “Watchmen” series Dave Gibbons. We get a chance to dive into his profound personal archives. It is really a must own for all fans of the series, no questions.

It is really rare that you are given this candid of a look into new material. I mean you feel like you are sitting looking through Gibbons’ personal diary. Fans of this series you are going to flip out with the reveal of never-published pages, original character designs, page thumbnails, sketcher, alternate posters, covers and rare portfolio art. The detail in the image are just so crystal clear and high quality. It is the kind of book that you are going to look through and then read it completely and then look through it again.

This book had a lot of love put into it and you can tell. With a series like “Watchmen” it has a very loyal fan base and it’s obvious that Gibbons is a really big fan himself. Props need to also go to Chip Kidd and Mike Essl for some amazing design in this book as well. Props should go to Titans Books for continuing supporting this series and releasing book after amazing book keeping this series alive and continuing to deliver new and exciting release to their fans.