Wednesday, December 18, 2013

best of 2013: movies

And now it's time for my final "best of 2013" list: movies! I've added a few bonus bits after the top 10 as well. A few notes before I begin:
  • Not all of these were first released in 2013, but that's when I first saw them.
  • Aside from the first two, these aren't necessarily in order.
  • G-Vo, skip review #8.
  • And, as always, your mileage may vary.

1. Life of Pi: After a shipwreck, Pi is stranded on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, and they must struggle to survive against overwhelming odds. An absolutely gorgeous and heartwrenching movie that definitely needed to be seen in the theater for the full impact; the 3D was astounding.

2. Seven Psychopaths: A screenwriter gets tangled up in his friends' bizarre dognapping scheme, but things turn nasty when they steal a gangster's shih tzu. The blackly funny script and excellent performances (especially from Sam Rockwell) made this an awesome surprise; I absolutely loved it. I came very close to naming this my favorite movie of the year, but gave the edge to Life of Pi because of its visuals.

3. Looper: In this sci-fi mindfuck, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, looking less dreamy than usual due to facial prosthetics) is a hitman who kills people sent from the future. But when a surprising person shows up for assassination, he has to figure out a plan. An extremely clever treat.

4. Wreck-It Ralph: Ralph is a video game villain who wants to be a good guy, so he ventures out of his own game into other ones in hopes of fulfilling that quest. But in the process, he unintentionally endangers the entire arcade. A funny valentine to retro gaming.

5. Argo: When Iranian militants storm the American embassy and take hostages, six people manage to escape and take refuge at the Canadian ambassador's home. Back in the US, a CIA agent (Ben Affleck, who also directed) concocts an outrageous plan: get them out of the country by pretending they're Canadians working on a film shoot. Astoundingly enough, this is based on a true story that was declassified by President Clinton in 1997. It won the 2013 Best Picture Oscar.

6. John Dies at the End: This movie is damn near impossible to describe. Basically, there's a new street drug called Soy Sauce that has some very strange side effects, but there's a whole lot more to it than that. I've seen some really weird movies in my time, and trust me, this is one of the weirdest. Destined to become a cult classic.

7. This Is the End: As a party rages at James Franco's house, the apocalypse hits, trapping lots of celebrities (all playing themselves) inside. The ending was a little off, but overall this was the funniest goddamn movie I've seen in a long time. Bonus points for Emma Watson swearing and a hysterical cameo I refuse to spoil.

8. Gravity: Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is working on a space station when debris destroys it, sending her and fellow astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) adrift in space. With their oxygen rapidly declining, they have to try to get to another space station before it's too late. The story takes an unwelcome detour into Hokeytown at one point, but for the most part this is a great movie. It's almost unbearably tense at times, and the visuals are absolutely stunning. If you want to see this, I highly recommend catching it in the theater as I imagine it would lose a lot of impact on a smaller screen.

9. Kick-Ass 2: Dave Lizewski, the teenager who dresses up and fights crime under the name of Kick-Ass, is shocked when Mindy Macready, aka Hit Girl, hangs up her cape and starts living life as a normal high school girl. Dave finds a new group of heroes to hang out with, but when a supervillain called The Motherfucker starts wreaking havoc, it might be too much for them to handle. The first Kick-Ass movie is in my top ten of all time, but I tried to keep my expectations low because I knew there was no way this would be as good. And I was right, but it's still funny and action-packed, and Hit Girl is still freakin' awesome.

10. World War Z: After the zombie apocalypse hits, former UN investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) goes on a mission to determine the cause. Based on the excellent book by Max Brooks, it's seriously intense (I was white knuckling the arm of the couch during one particular scene) and highly entertaining.

MADE ME CRY (OR AT LEAST MIST UP): Looper, Life of Pi, Celeste & Jesse Forever, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Awakening, Wreck-It Ralph, End of Watch, Bully, Les Miserables, The Impossible, Pacific Rim, Gravity, Blackfish

MOST HORRIFYING SCENES: Pretty much all of Compliance; the creepy dude scoping out Mexican prostitutes in Whore's Glory; the home movies in Sinister; the nightmare fuel performance artist in Samsara; Pyramid Head's jailhouse chopping spree in Silent Hill: Revelation; the school bus bullying in Bully; when we first see the back of Naomi Watts' leg in The Impossible; the "L Is for Libido" and "X Is for XXL" segments in The ABCs of Death; the secret bedroom in The Call; the fabricant processing facility in Cloud Atlas; the extreme body modifications in American Mary; the tongue splitting in Evil Dead; the "talking head" in Trance; the achilles tendon severing in Maniac; the "clapping game" in The Conjuring; pretty much all of Blackfish

OVERRATED: Frankenweenie, The Master, Stoker, Spring Breakers  

UNDERRATED: Dredd, Cloud Atlas, The Call  

SEEN IN THE THEATER: Life of Pi, Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim, Kick-Ass 2, Gravity  


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

best of 2013: fiction

And now it's time for my favorite novels of 2013!  A few notes before I begin:

  • Not all of these were first released in 2013, but that's when I read them.
  • Aside from the first book listed, which was my definite favorite, these aren't in any particular order.
  • Oddly enough, this list includes three family members:  Stephen King, his son Joe Hill, and Kelly Braffet, who's married to King's son Owen (also an author).  Man, there's some serious talent in that family!
  • G-Vo, skip the review for #1 because I'll probably have you read it at some point.
  • And, as always, your mileage may vary.

1. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill:  Vic McQueen is a young woman with a talent for finding lost things, although nobody would believe how she does it even if she told them.  One day, she runs into Charles Manx, an old man who picks children up in his Rolls Royce Wraith (license plate: NOS4A2) and takes them to Christmasland.  Which sounds nice and all, except Manx is a type of psychic vampire who drains the children of any joy or kindness and turns them into needle-toothed killers.  Vic manages to escape, but many years later, when Manx takes her son, she taps into the talent she's neglected for years to bring Wayne back.  Of course, Manx and his assistant, the Gas Mask Man, aren't going to make it easy for her.

As I mentioned, Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King, a fact he tried to hide for years in hopes of being judged on his own merits.  I only bring it up here because if this book had been published anonymously, I would have sworn it was Stephen King.  It's creepy, it's strangely touching, and it will keep you riveted until the very last page.

2. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes:  Desperate for money to help out her family, Louisa Clark takes a job as a companion for Will Traynor, a bitter quadriplegic.  I don't want to say anything else because I would hate to spoil this book for you, but I highly recommend it.  Also highly recommended?  Tissues.  I don't often cry over books (which is weird, since I cry at the drop of a freakin' hat), but this one really got to me.

3. Fuse by Julianna Baggott:  Because this is the second installment of the Pure Trilogy, I can't give it a proper review without spoiling things from the first book.  I'll just say it's really fucking great and leave it at that.  I can't wait for Burn, which comes out in February.

4. The Wrath of Angels by John Connolly:  Private investigator Charlie Parker hears about the wreckage of a plane deep in the Maine woods.  There was a very important list inside the plane, and some very bad people with very bad intentions are looking for it.  I gotta say, not much makes me happier than a new John Connolly book, and I really enjoyed this one.  My only real complaint is that there isn't enough Angel and Louis, but there never is. 

5. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld:  Kate's living a comfortable life with her husband and two small children when her twin sister Violet makes a splash in the media by predicting an earthquake.  Kate isn't happy about Violet's claims, because for years she's been trying to hide the fact that she and Violet are legitimately psychic.  It's a great premise, the writing is superb, and although I wouldn't call it a funny book, there were a couple of scenes/lines that made me laugh loud and hard. 

6. Doctor Sleep by Stephen King:  Following the events of The Shining, Dan Torrance is scarred by his father's violence and desperately in thrall to an alcohol addiction.  With the help of AA, he manages to get sober and begins working at a hospice where his psychic gift enables him to console terminally ill patients at the time of their deaths, earning him the nickname of Doctor Sleep.  But when Dan receives a mental plea for help from a young girl, he finally has to face his inner demons...and a few real ones as well.

To be honest, this book runs out of steam (no pun intended, not that you'll get the pun unless you've read it) a bit near the end, but overall, it was really good.  The Shining is one of the scariest books I've ever read (and the movie is THE scariest movie I've ever seen, never mind that Stephen King hates it), so I welcomed the opportunity to spend more time with its young protagonist.

7. Poppet by Mo Hayder:  A rash of self-harm incidents rock a British psychiatric hospital.  The inmates, when questioned by staff, blame a mysterious creature they call The Maude.  A dedicated staff nurse calls Detective Jack Caffrey to investigate, and nobody is prepared for what they find.  Typically excellent fare from one of my favorite authors.  Word of warning, though:  it spoils a few things from previous books, so if you want to dip your toe into Mo Hayder's catalog, this isn't the one to start with.

8. Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet:  Patrick Cusimano lives with his brother Mike and Mike's girlfriend Caro.  Mike has never really forgiven Patrick for calling the police on their father, who killed a little boy while driving drunk.  A goth girl named Layla takes a shine to Patrick, and all of their lives (plus that of Layla's bullied sister Verna) intersect in ways they couldn't have imagined.  A beautifully written book that I absolutely loved.

9. The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan:  Violet is a young half-Chinese, half-American girl living in Shanghai in 1912.  Her mother, a celebrated madam, falls in love with a man who betrays her and sells Violet to a rival courtesan house.  Violet struggles to survive her new world, all the while wondering what happened to her mother.  This novel suffers from occasional purple prose, but I still really enjoyed it.

10. The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes:  Harper is a serial killer who's obsessed with murdering "shining girls", his term for young women with great potential.  He finds a house that opens onto other time periods, which allows him to murder and then escape into another era.  But a young woman named Kirby survives his attack, and she won't stop until she brings him down.  Imagine Looper crossed with The Silence of the Lambs, and you have this beautifully creepy book.  It's really good.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

best of 2013: nonfiction

Unfortunately, it wasn't a particularly good year for nonfiction, so this list has only 5 titles as opposed to the usual 10. 

The standard notes before I begin:

  • Not all of these were originally released in 2013, but that's when I first read them.
  • These are listed in order of preference.  (Hey, it was easy to do with only five of them!)
  • And, as always, your mileage may vary.

1. Gulp by Mary Roach:  The queen of weird science turns her attention to the alimentary canal, covering everything from fecal transplants to the bouillon enema Lenten loophole.  (Oh, I ain't spoiling that for you.)  Roach is by far my favorite nonfiction writer, and she serves up another awesomely icky, hysterically funny, and informative tome.

2. With or Without You by Domenica Ruta:  In this memoir, the author writes about growing up with her mother Kathi, a charismatic alcoholic and drug addict who veered between doting on her daughter and treating her like garbage.  Searingly honest and beautifully written.

3. The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things:  Jezebel is probably my favorite website, so I was eager to get my hands on this book, and it did not disappoint.  In characteristic snarky fashion, it covers everything from the important (abortion rights, Judy Blume, menstruation) to the proudly cheesetacular (Sweet Valley High, VC Andrews, and of course their feud with Scott Baio and his wife, who infamously referred to the writers at Jezebel as "lesbian shitasses" on her Twitter). 

4. Rookie Yearbook One edited by Tavi Gevinson:  The teenage girls of my generation had Sassy, the magazine that assured us we could look good and like boys without sacrificing our feminist principles; the teenage girls of today have Rookie, which is kind of like Jezebel's little sister.  This collection includes fashion spreads, essays covering everything from street harassment to thrift shopping (including a genius tip for trying on pants in a place without a dressing room), and guest appearances from awesome folks like John Waters, Joss Whedon, and Miranda July.  Even if you don't quite fit into their demographic (which is certainly the case for me), you'll find much to enjoy here.  I also read Rookie Yearbook Two last month, and that's also worth a look.

5. Her by Christa Parravani:  In this memoir, the author tries to unpack the life of her twin sister Cara, who died of an overdose at the age of 28, and describes how she had to reinvent herself because she didn't know who she was without Cara.  She writes, "To see the world apart from her was to be there only by half."  Wonderfully written, but almost unbearably sad.

Monday, December 02, 2013

media update: November

And how was your Thanksgiving weekend?  Mine was quite lovely, for the most part, although it was somewhat marred by the noisy renovation next door and the news about Paul Walker.  Not only was he a member in good standing on my laminated list, but he also starred in some of my favorite movies (if you haven't seen them, go rent Joyride and Running Scared stat) and by all accounts seemed like a good guy, so that was some shitty news. 

On the plus side, four days off work!  And four days spent with G-Vo watching a metric fuckton of TV/movies, eating delicious food, and playing Deadpool.  It stars Marvel's most foulmouthed antihero, and although the action is standard boilerplate, the dialogue is hysterical.  Gotta love any game that includes the direction "Press X to make a stink pickle".

Asterisks denote something I particularly enjoyed or found especially worthy of my time; your mileage may vary.


1. The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison:  Jodi and Todd have been together a long time, but their relationship is swiftly falling apart, and Jodi makes a fateful decision.  (The back cover spoils it, but I won't.)  An interesting portrait of a marriage in decline, but I doubt I would have finished it if I hadn't been hard up for reading material at the time.

2. The Valley of Amazement* by Amy Tan:  Violet is a young half-Chinese, half-American girl living in Shanghai in 1912.  Her mother, a celebrated madam, falls in love with a man who betrays her and sells Violet to a rival courtesan house.  Violet struggles to survive her new world, all the while wondering what happened to her mother.  This novel suffers from occasional purple prose, but I still really enjoyed it.

3. Altered by Gennifer Albin:  Because this is the second novel in the Crewel World trilogy, I can't give it a proper review lest I spoil things from its predecessor.  It was a bit disappointing, though, and the surprise appearance of a historical figure near the end made me laugh, though that wasn't the book's intention.

4. Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts:  Postapocalyptic YA novels are a dime a dozen, but this is something different:  a PREapocalyptic YA novel.  An asteroid is hurtling towards Earth, spelling almost certain doom for our planet.  Three teenagers (Zan, Caden, and Sienna) use their last days to tie up the loose ends of their lives.  It reminded me a lot of The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, and although it's not as good, it's still unusually well written for a YA novel, and way better than the cheeseball cover would lead you to believe.

5. Dust by Patricia Cornwell:  When a body is found zzzzzzzz....

Oh, sorry, did I fall asleep?  No surprise considering that this book was fucking BORING.  It makes me sad thinking how good Cornwell used to be, but apparently she's one of those authors (see also James Patterson) who used to be terrific, got famous, and then thought "Now that people will buy a book with my name on the cover no matter how shitty it is, I'm just going to sit back and count my money, mwahahahahaha!"  Stephen King's been writing since the 70s, and even though he's written some clunkers, I've never gotten the feeling that he isn't trying.  (Okay, maybe Dreamcatcher.)

Side note: On page 19, we're treated to this line:  "I sit up in bed and sort through files inside the master suite of our nineteenth-century home that was built by a well-known transcendentalist."  In addition to being clunky and weird, it sounded familiar to me.  So I did a search on my diary, and in my January 2012 review of Red Mist, I quoted this line:  "As my FBI forensic psychologist husband put it last night while cooking dinner in our historic Cambridge home that was built by a well-known transcendentalist..."

Patricia, seriously, I gotta ask: WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THE TRANSCENDENTALIST?


1. Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward:  A heartbreaking memoir about five young men the author knew who died far too soon.

2. The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things*:  Jezebel is probably my favorite website, so I was eager to get my hands on this book, and it did not disappoint.  In characteristic snarky fashion, it covers everything from the important (abortion rights, Judy Blume, menstruation) to the proudly cheesetacular (Sweet Valley High, VC Andrews, and of course their feud with Scott Baio and his wife, who infamously referred to the writers at Jezebel as "lesbian shitasses" on her Twitter). 

3. Ivan Ramen* by Ivan Orkin:  In 2007, the author opened a ramen shop in Tokyo.  His shop was popular at first because people were curious about what an American would do with such a beloved Japanese staple, but it turned out that the dude could cook.  Part memoir, part cookbook, it's a very interesting book and includes some majorly fapworthy pictures of food porn.

4. Rookie Yearbook Two* edited by Tavi Gevinson:  Another excellent selection of essays and photos from Rookie.


1. No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! by Nico Tanigawa

2. Sleeping Moon by Kano Miyamoto

3. Good Morning by Ritsu Natsumizu

4. Judge by Yoshiki Tonogai

5. A Bride's Story* vol. 5 by Kaoru Mori

6. Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Search Part 3* by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru

7. The Freddie Stories* by Lynda Barry

8. Puella Magi Oriko Magica vols. 1-2 by Magica Quartet and Mura Kuroe

9. Soulless by Gail Carriger and REM (not the band, obviously)

10. Yotsuba vol. 12 by Kiyohiko Azuma

11. Rin-Ne vol. 13 by Rumiko Takahashi

12. Demon Love Spell vol. 4 by Mayu Shinjo


1. The Conjuring*:  When a family discovers that their house is haunted, they call upon Ed and Lorraine Warren, famous paranormal investigators, for help.  A delightfully spooky thriller, though I agree with many reviewers that the little scares (like the "clapping game", which was seriously unnerving) are more effective than the larger ones.

2. Monsters University:  In this Monsters Inc. prequel, Mike and Sully meet at college and instantly clash.  But they have to put their differences aside in order to win the Scare Games and stay in college.  It's very cute and has a few funny moments, but the script could have used some punching up.

Side note:  G-Vo and I weren't too impressed with the short ("The Blue Umbrella") before the movie until we found out that it was completely computer animated.  We seriously thought it was 95% live action!  So that kicked up our opinion a few notches, because that was amazing.

3. After Earth:  A thousand years after Earth has been rendered uninhabitable, the fearless General Cypher Raige and his son Kitai (Will Smith and Jaden Smith) crash on the planet.  General Raige is too fucked up to go anywhere, so he sends Kitai on a dangerous mission to find the rescue beacon and get help.

This was a huge commercial and critical flop, and maybe it's a case of lowered expectations kicking in, but I actually enjoyed this movie.  The special effects are (mostly) pretty good and I cared about the characters and their plight.

4. Lovelace:  This biopic tells the story of Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried), who went from a naive young woman to the first porn superstar after her manipulative and abusive husband (Peter Sarsgaard, playing the kind of nasty sleazeball he does so well) coaxes her into doing Deep Throat.  Excellent performances, but man is it depressing.

Side note: Netflix's description of this movie includes the line "The supporting cast includes all manner of Hollywood A-listers stepping into meaty roles."  Netflix, I see what you did there!

5. The Hangover 3:  About the only good thing I can say about this movie is that it's better than The Hangover 2, which is pretty faint praise.  That's like saying my last bout of diarrhea was better than my last migraine.    

6. The Internship:  After Billy and Nick (Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson) lose their jobs, they manage to snag internships at Google, where they have to beat a much younger and smarter group of interns in hopes of winning actual jobs.  It's predictable and basically a 2 hour advertisement for Google, but it's also MUCH funnier than I thought it would be.  Shit, I laughed more in the first ten minutes than I did during all of The Hangover 2 and The Hangover 3 combined.

Side note:  if you rent this, be sure to pick the unrated version and not the theatrical version; unlike most movies where they're trying to make you think it's something extra sexy/violent and it's just some random convo that the MPAA didn't review, it actually makes a huge difference for this flick.

7. Frances Ha:  Frances is a young woman trying to navigate life and love in New York City.  Greta Gerwig has always been the best part of everything I've ever seen her in (House of the Devil, Lola Versus, the execrable Greenberg), and this movie is no exception; she's got a luminously daffy presence.  There isn't much of a plot, but it's worth seeing for her.

8. The Heat*:  An uptight FBI agent (Sandra Bullock) is sent to Boston to track down a drug lord.  She's paired with a crass cop (Melissa McCarthy) who doesn't like having her territory encroached upon.  The two leads play really well off each other, and it's often uproariously funny.

9. Paradise:  After she's badly burned in a plane crash, Lamb (Julianne Hough) turns her back on her church and her conservative family and decides to head to Las Vegas, where she plans on making up for lost time by doing all the things she's been forbidden to do her whole life.  She meets a grumpy lounge singer (Octavia Spencer) and randy bartender (Russell Brand) who decide to help her with her quest. 

This was written by Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult, Jennifer's Body), and like all of her movies, the dialogue tries too hard to be clever and quirky.  And I thought it was far too convenient that Lamb's lovely face was magically spared in the crash, though I guess there's no point in getting someone who looks like Julianne Hough for your movie and then covering her up with makeup and prosthetics.  And the only way you won't guess what happens at the end is if you've never seen a movie before. But it does have some great lines (3 of which wound up in my 2013 best movie lines post) and Russell Brand is particularly charming in this, so if it sounds interesting to you, give it a whirl.

10. Man of Steel:  I really wanted to love this Superman reboot, but it took far too long to get going and some of the special effects are cheesy.  It's not bad, but it's the only one of Zack Snyder's movies I've given less than 4 stars on Netflix.

11. The To Do List:  After graduating from high school, uptight bookworm Brandy (Aubrey Plaza) decides to make a list of sexual activities she'd like to do before college.  It's very raunchy and often quite funny, and the early 90's soundtrack is boss, but you've seen variations on this premise done a thousand times before.

12. White House Down:  In the second "White House under attack" movie this year, Channing Tatum is touring the White House with his daughter when some serious shit goes down.  Fortunately, Chay Tates is a boss and saves the day.  (Um, sorry, spoiler alert I guess.)  It's really stupid, but it's fun.  For optimal enjoyment/suspension of disbelief, do as G-Vo and I did and split a bottle of wine before viewing.

13. We're the Millers*:  A pot dealer is asked to pick up a shipment from Mexico, so he recruits a stripper, a teenage runaway, and his dorky neighbor to come with him and pretend to be his family, figuring that he'll be less suspicious that way.  Complications ensue, of course.  Much funnier than I thought it would be.

14. The Way Way Back:  Shy teenager Duncan goes on vacation with his mother, her asshole boyfriend (Steve Carrell), and Asshole Boyfriend's daughter.  He finds refuge at the local water park, where an employee (Sam Rockwell) takes Duncan under his wing.  I thought it was a little overrated, although Sam Rockwell is awesome as always. 


1. "Here Be Monsters" by Ed Harcourt:  This is the song that plays during the joke ending of Silent Hill Downpour.

2. "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" by Skrillex:  I'm not a dubstep/EDM fan, but I love this song because it sounds like something Transformers would bang to.

3. "Fuck U Betta (Chuckie Club Remix)" by Neon Hitch


(This was a really difficult game to review, but Kotaku had the same problem, which makes me feel a little better.  If you'd like to see their review, it's here.)

Ever since she was born, Jodie Holmes has been connected to an unseen entity she calls Aiden.  They're bound together by a spiritual umbilical cord of sorts; if he gets too far away from her, it causes her great physical and emotional distress.  When Jodie's powers become too much for her foster parents to bear, she's sent to a military base and raised by paranormal researcher Dr. Nathan Dawkins.  As she gets older and more in control of Aiden, the CIA recruits her, but she quickly discovers that she doesn't always agree with what they want her to do.


  • With the exception of an ugly texture here and there, the graphics are beautiful.
  • Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe did the voices for their characters in addition to the mocap, so the voice acting is excellent.  They have the biggest roles and stand out the most, but offhand I don't remember any bad performances from the supporting cast.
  • For the most part, the storyline is really interesting, and there are several genuinely touching moments; I teared up more than once.
  • Couch co-op!  I played Jodie and G-Vo played Aiden during our first playthrough; obviously we'll be playing it again and switching roles. 
  • Having a pet poltergeist made for a fun addition to the gameplay.  Aiden can go through walls to eavesdrop or unlock doors from the other side, move things around, possess people, and even heal Jodie and protect her from bullets or long falls by creating a force field around her.


  • The creator, David Cage, also did Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain, which is my second favorite video game of all time and one of only three I'd give a perfect score.  (For the record, the other two are Silent Hill 2 and Resident Evil 4.)  So I can't say that I didn't know what I was getting into, but it really is like playing a movie at times, especially since the main characters are so obviously Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe.  You may be wondering why I'm counting this as a negative, but it took me out of the fictional dream.
  • The gameplay can be a bit simplistic at times and frustrating at others.  And unlike Heavy Rain, where literally every character could die and the game would go on without them (not a spoiler; deaths in that game are overwhelmingly due to the choices you make), Jodie is apparently impossible to kill, which makes things a bit too easy.
  • I can't explain this next point in detail because it is a MASSIVE spoiler, but I had a major problem with something that happens near the end.  It genuinely bothered me.


At one point, Jodie is making dinner, and during the scene where I was chopping vegetables, G-Vo said "Coooooooooooking Mama!"  You kind of had to be there, but I was rolling HARD.

Overall, Beyond: Two Souls is a solid game that fans of Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain need to check out.  Much better than the former but inferior to the latter, it's a hybrid of both that's well worth playing.