Games

The Movies: Stunts and Effects

G. Christopher Williams

The substance of Stunts and Effects is only as good as the property on which it rests.

Publisher: Activision
Genres: RPG
Subtitle: Stunts and Effects Expansion Pack
Price: $29.99
Multimedia: The Movies
Platforms: PC
Number of players: 1
ESRB rating: Teen
Developer: Lionhead Studios
US release date: 2006-06

It seems appropriate that The Movies: Stunts and Effects' release coincided with the opening days of summer. Indeed, it is the splash, flash, and sizzle of special effects and daring stunt work that seems typically to be the bulwark of real summer movies. Art imitates art.

Alas, though, much like the stunts and special effects in real movies, the substance of Stunts and Effects is only as good as the property on which it rests. It adds a superficial layer of fresh new content to The Movies, but how much you enjoy it will depend on how substantive you may have found the initial game. I reviewed The Movies when it was released, and found it to be a solid, enjoyable purchase at the time. Thus, for the most part, I have enjoyed playing the expansion.

While the expansion does contain a few handy tweaks, it brings largely one new element to the table: the hiring, training, and utilization of stunt people at your studio. Since, the game is chronological (silent films to talkies to further developments in film technology), the newer content largely emerges late in a campaign; with the 1960s comes the ability to acquire stunt people for your studio and the arenas for which to train them in. Thankfully there is a handy quick start option for veterans of the game, thus allowing instant access to all of the expansion pack's newest features.

The new arenas are rather physically demanding and zooming in on your stunt person will generate a few visceral blockbuster movie-esque thrills. These workers will be burned, beaten, and otherwise harassed until they are ready for the big time -- real stunt work. Watching the poor bastards can be amusing the first few times around, and this brutal conditioning justifies a new measure of these characters attributes -- a condition meter that, when it begins dipping low, necessitates sending your new stunt people for a little rest and repair at another new location, the hospital.

However, the player may have little time to enjoy the pyrotechnics given this added complication to a game that already requires some pretty frantic multitasking in order to properly micromanage a thriving studio. Those stung by The Movies emphasis on heavily overseeing all aspects of the filmmaking biz may be put off by this added layer of complexity.

In addition to the aforementioned complications added by the expansion is also the issue of stunt successes and failures. Any scene in a film that contains stunts has a difficulty rating. If your stunt people are not sufficiently trained, they may blow the stunt -- leading to a lower overall rating of the film.

My chief complaint with the game is largely the length of time and manpower required for most of the higher end stunt scripts. Your studio may languish a bit as you work on the long, arduous process of producing a stunt-filled spectacle for the viewing public. The only saving grace of this interminable production time may be that it is fairly easy to train stunt people during filming as they only need to appear in scenes that involve stunt work. Thus, some efficiency, which is the biggest stress of any simulation game (but especially so in The Movies), can be maintained by improving stunt people's skills between takes.

On the whole, the additions largely amount to more flash than substance, which does at least remain true to the nature of the subject matter. Like their real counterpart, Stunts and Effects seems likely to aid in squeezing a few dollars more out of consumers over this summer. As I noted before, art imitates art.

7

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image