Review

Film: Everest (2015)

I entered the theatre expecting to be bored by what - from the trailers – looked to be a predictable disaster movie. But two hours later when the end credits started to roll I was surprised how invested I had become while watching Everest. While I cannot say I was wrong about the predictability issue I still wanted to know who would make it off the mountain alive.

 For those who do not know, Everest is based of a real life event in which two mountain expedition groups become trapped on Everest during a massive storm. The main plot is really that simple, so the film makes up for this by spending most of its first hour focusing on the individual climbers. Explaining things like: why they want to climb Everest, what their home life is like and how they plan to survive in one of the most hostile environments on Earth. Most of the film is presented from the perspective of the main character, a mountain climbing expert by the name of Rob Hall (played by Jason Clarke.) I don’t think any of the main actors give Oscar worthy performances, but the cast does an admirable job making the audience care about the situation. They also seem to understand that they are portraying real people rather than characters, so they all manage to give tasteful performances. 

 Having said that, the film does have a few massive shortcomings that hold it back. For one thing, it does follow the typical disaster formula. This is not a bad thing in and of itself, but it does make it less surprising when things do not go as planned. I was not familiar with the real events when I saw the movie, yet I managed to guess just about every major plot development about thirty minutes in. I admittedly did not get everything right but I still knew basically what was going to happen and if you have ever seen a disaster movie so will you.  

One aspect where the film truly fails is the sound editing. It is hard enough to tell characters apart when they are all covering their faces with thick scarves and wearing similar coats, but when the wind makes it all but impossible to hear what certain characters are saying it is easy to get a little confused. This confusion never lasts long, but it may cause viewers to miss certain plot details.

 Taken from: freeimages.com

Taken from: freeimages.com

But in spite of these problems I am still very impressed with the movie, mainly because it does a good job of making up for its own short comings. The story may be predictable, but that does not change the fact that these people are in a life or death situation. And there may be times when it is hard to tell characters apart, but the scenery makes up for that by basically turning the mountain itself into a character. The whole movie is set against a back drop of gorgeous yet intimidating imagery. Between the shots of the mountain itself and the surrounding area, I can almost recommend the film based on the cinematography alone.

 Everest is nothing that has not been seen before. It is a true story that is being presented in the form of a typical disaster movie and as such most of the major plot twists are not all that surprising. But it still manages to make the audience care what happens, so much so that I managed to find the ending to be both bittersweet and tasteful. You know exactly what you are getting with Everest, but that doesn’t mean it is not worth your time. If the thought of a well made disaster movie with beautiful imagery appeals to you, then there is really no reason not to see this film. Though if you have an interest in mountain climbing, you may lose it by the time the movie is over.


Matthew Versace

IMG_20150530_204201.jpg

Matthew is a mild-mannered, Ottawa-born male. As you may have guessed he spends a lot of time playing video games. When he is not doing that he likes to read and write. He is a full-time student in the Algonquin College Professional Writing program.

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The World of Gaming

From the start my goal has been to prove that video gaming played an instrumental roll in shaping both my childhood and adulthood. This time I would like to do something a little different. Rather than write on a personal story I would like to focus on a global scale. I want to argue that gaming is overall a good thing for society. I will be the first to admit there are some less favourable aspects. There is no use ignoring the horror stories of verbal abuse over Xbox live, or the excessive violence many associate with the medium. I am not going to be able to overturn that by telling a personal story. I must try to look at the big picture.

 Image taken from : Freeimages.com

Image taken from : Freeimages.com

It should go without saying that video games are here to stay. Multiple generations of children have spent hours playing these games and most of them probably have their own gaming related stories, similar to the ones I have been telling. Most of them never outgrew this phase; the average gamer is now in his or her thirties. This is the most prevalent the world of gaming has ever been and what is amazing is that even with so many people playing video games, none of them will have the exact same experience.

If you go on YouTube, you will be sure to find a lot of videos about gaming. Some people talk about games they loved as children, others about games they are obsessed with as adults, others just play games and upload the footage. This has lead to a massive online community with more members than any schoolyard could have ever hoped to have. All of them brought together by shared love of an all too often hated pastime. Turning their own experience into one they can share with the entire world. It is basically the same as my Pokémon story but on a global scale.

I am not trying to apologise for the medium’s crimes. There are some less-than-favourable aspects about video games. But the number of people who love gaming is quickly growing and while there is still much that needs to be improved, the pastime is slowly becoming more inclusive. I know gaming has changed me for the better. In the future having an interest in gaming will be no different than watching television or movies. This means that the shared experience is far from over.



Matthew Versace

Matthew is a mild-mannered, Ottawa-born male. As you may have guessed he spends a lot of time playing video games. When he is not doing that he likes to read and write. He is a full-time student in the Algonquin College Professional Writing program. 

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My Second Player

Playing video games is too often associated with loneliness. In all fairness, I understand where the idea comes from. I’ve already talked about how gaming is a solo experience and this is the image most people will have. But it can also bring people together by creating a shared experience. Unfortunately, it is not always easy for people to understand this type of connection, especially if they do not play video games themselves.

The irony of is, I owe one of the strongest relationships in my life to this supposedly antisocial pastime. My sister is just about as obsessed with gaming as I am. She may not be crazy enough to write a blog series about the subject, but she plays her fair share. For years her and I did not have much to talk about, but that changed when we became obsessed with a game called Fallout 3.

On the surface this is not a game that should be bringing people together. Its story is set in an alternate timeline where the world was destroyed in a nuclear war and hundreds of years later civilization has just about crumbled. The player must find a way to survive in the hostile wasteland while avoiding the horrible monsters that call it home. This should not be a premise that strengthens bonds; not just because it is incredibly bleak but also because there no multiplayer. For some reason people love this series, myself – and more importantly my sister – included.

 Photo taken from: Freeimages.com

Photo taken from: Freeimages.com

I got the game for Christmas and played it for hours at a time and yet my sister always seemed to be ahead of me. I would go off and complete a well-hidden side-quest and then run upstairs to brag, only to find out she had completed the quest weeks ago. She just has an easier time with this type of game, but I’m not writing this to whine about my own lack of skill. Before this point in our lives my sister and I did not share a lot of common ground. It’s not that we weren’t close, we just did not seem to have much to talk about. Now we talk all the time and not just about video games either. This is what non-gamers tend to misunderstand. Gaming may be a solo experience, but it can also be the starting point for a powerful friendship.     


Matthew Versace

Matthew is a mild-mannered, Ottawa-born male. As you may have guessed he spends a lot of time playing video games. When he is not doing that he likes to read and write. He is a full-time student in the Algonquin College Professional Writing program.    

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To Catch 'em All

 Taken from: freeimage.com 

Taken from: freeimage.com 

When I was a kid I witnessed something huge, something that managed to define a generation of children and make a permanent change to pop culture. I am, of course, referring to the international phenomenon known as Pokémon.

It is easy to forget what a big deal this franchise was when it first came out. Granted, it is still unbelievably popular and marketable but it is no longer the all-consuming entity it was twenty years ago. When the Pokémon games first came out it became unavoidable. Kids couldn’t stop talking about it and their parents had to either find a way to drown it all out or embrace it full force. There was a Pokémon anime, Pokémon movies, Pokémon toys, Pokémon bed sheets, and let’s not forget the all-important Pokémon underwear. I think I even saw Pokémon coasters at one point. It is enough to drive you crazy when you think about how strange the basic premise is, yet this humble video game managed to take over the world and for about a year or so it looked like it would never disappear.

In the middle of all this was me, possibly the last kid in my school to find out about Pokémon. There was no build up, one day I got to school and literally everybody was talking about this weird Japanese cartoon where people catch animals in balls and make them fight. I had to see what they were talking about; otherwise I would have been the only one who was left out. Soon, I was right there with the rest of them, catching strange monsters and then bragging about it to my friends.

I guess every generation of kids has its own version of the Pokémon craze, but this particular generation can boast something no other generation really can. We never really outgrew it. Pokémon is still popular with kids, but the honest truth is that the franchise makes its real money off adult fans that still play the games. When I was a child it was more than a game, it was an invitation to be part of a greater community of fans and all these years later it is still bringing people together. All someone has to do is admit to being a fan of Pokémon and that creates an instant connection brought about through a shared experience. A connection that no other medium could have provided.


Matthew Versace

IMG_20150530_204201.jpg

Matthew is a mild-mannered, Ottawa-born male. As you may have guessed he spends a lot of time playing video games. When he is not doing that he likes to read and write. He is a full-time student in the Algonquin College Professional Writing program. 

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The Adventure Begins

I’ve heard it all before. Video games rot your brain, they make kids violent, they will turn you into an antisocial. This negativity has been surrounding video games for over thirty years, but it has become especially noticeable over the past decade. I will be the first to admit that spending too much time indoors staring at a television screen is never a good thing, but I’ve been playing video games for most of my life. Not only have I turned out fine – more or less - but I also think the experience has made me a better person.

 Image source: freeimages.com 

Image source: freeimages.com 

Most gamers start out when they are young, about seven or eight years old and in some cases even younger. I’m no social scientist, but I don’t need to be one to tell you that anything that takes up a large part of a child’s life will play a large part in determining what kind of person that child grows up to be. There is a stigma that suggests any kid who plays video games will have no friends. But in my own experience the opposite turned out to be true.

I remember when I was in third grade my mother bought me a game as a reward for having a good report card. The game was Paper Mario and I spent the whole summer trying to beat it. If I had been an adult when I first played the game I probably would have beaten it in a few days, but to a little kid the simplest things can be a challenge so I felt a real sense of accomplishment as I progressed. By the time I was finished I knew the game inside and out. This is where things changed.

A good friend of mine had bought the game a few months after I had, and he wanted advice. So, every Wednesday I would go over to his house after school and help him beat a section of the game. This turned a single-player game into a shared experience and a simple video game turned into an adventure. I’m a quiet person, so the sense of empowerment I got from becoming this friend’s coach was a totally new feeling. The game made a strong friendship even stronger and actually helped me become more social. This is why I feel most of the stigma surrounding video gaming is unfair, so with this blog I will do my best to overturn that view.

 


Matthew Versace

Matthew is a mild-mannered, Ottawa-born male. As you may have guessed he spends a lot of time playing video games. When he is not doing that he likes to read and write. He is a full-time student in the Algonquin College Professional Writing program.  

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