Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Raid 2

The Raid 2 is the follow up to the surprise hit, The Raid (or The Raid: Redemption). It had a whole lot of hype behind it, with the first film already considered an action classic by many fans of the genre. After watching the trailers for the The Raid 2 you could tell this movie was going to be different to the first, a sweeping, operatic crime epic whereas the first one was small and contained. It could have gone either way…but it didn’t and the end result is just astounding.

The Raid 2 picks up a few minutes after the first film ended. So needless to say, watch that one first! It jumps straight into things, with protagonist Rama being sent into prison to gain the trust of a mob boss’s son. This is where we discover the biggest difference between this film and its predecessor. The Raid 2 has a substantial plot, and a great plot at that. The first film had hints of a bigger story but mainly focused on Rama kicking ass through a block of flats. This time we follow Rama and meet a collection of interesting characters, unlike the first one which seemed to have so many character purely to have them killed off. This film strips away the first film’s simple, claustrophobic setting and becomes something a lot bigger. To many it may lose a bit of the simple charm that made the first one such a success, but to me it became a crime epic. Almost like an Indonesian version of a Scorsese film.

The action in The Raid 2 is just phenomenal. The fight choreography is so well done, it’s like watching a dance. It’s mesmerising and you can really see the hundreds of hours that went into planning it, and they were all worth it. The action scenes are fantastic, be it a gunfight in a warehouse, a car chase on a busy highway or a prolonged fistfight, each fight is even more imaginative than the last. The action scenes are perfectly paced as well. They stay around for the perfect amount of time and don’t outstay their welcome. They’re also so varied that each one feels like its own set-piece. They are placed throughout the movie well too, never allowing the pace to slow or the audience to get bored.

The directing is also superb. Action films live or die depending on the directing. If the audience can’t tell what’s going on then it’s a pretty crappy action film. That’s not a problem here. Welshman Gareth Evans directs each fight so well, you don’t get lost for a second. No matter how long the fight, you watch with your eyes open the entire time. It’s just such a sight.

The villains of this movie are worth mentioning. The two I’m thinking of are Baseball Bat Guy and Hammer Girl. These two are two classic villains, each with their own “thing”. You can probably guess what they are. The former kills people with a bat and baseball and the latter, well she has to be seen to be believed. They seem to be straight out of a classic action movie, and they are a lot of fun to watch.

The Raid 2 lives up to the hype set by its predecessor and surpasses it. It’s violent, it’s epic and it is astoundingly entertaining. It may be a tad overlong for some people (with a runtime of two and half hours), but fans of the genre will be more than happy. If you liked the first, you will defiantly like this one. And if you have not seen it go find both of them and watch them right now!

The Raid 2 gets the full five stars. I wish I could give it more. It’s an intense, often beautiful rollercoaster ride through the underworld of Jakarta. A must watch for action fans, but also recommended for everyone else.


Jack Bumby

The Raid 2 at CeX

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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Oppo N1

Although the Oppo brand is relatively unknown I certainly tip my hat to them. In my opinion the Oppo Find 7, is one of the best smartphones on the market hands down and the OnePlus One, made in conjunction with the CyanogenMod team, also stands it’s ground in a saturated market. Both are also criminally underrated and unknown. Not only have they earned my respect but they deserve worldwide recognition for their push of fantastic hardware at impressive prices.

One of their most recent offerings, the Oppo N1, was unveiled in October 2013 but despite being on the market for close to a year it’s almost impossible to find. I think when Oppo designed the N1 they didn't really spend any time designating their core audience or thinking about who would use it and for what purpose. Regardless, this is a big and simple mid-range smartphone, packed with a surprising level of value, close in size to the Note 3 and Spen, and definitely not for those with small hands.

It packs an attention grabbing camera, design, and some pretty respectable specs and I was excited to use it… until I finally got my hands on it.

The Oppo N1 comes packed with a modified version of the Android operating system; ColorOS. It’s not fluid, looks like the Touchwiz (Samsung’s proprietary UI) and seems to predominantly excel in making your device slooooooooooow. Gestures don’t always register correct and, to add insult to injury, it doesn’t even look good, with many of the icons looking like they’ve been drawn by a 10 year-old. Sure you can change the skin, by it should be an option, not a necessity to stop you from clawing your eyes out.

As mentioned above the phone itself is huge with a 5.9” screen, matching or even slightly bigger (approx. 0.2 inches) than those seen on the LG G2 or G3 and, for some reason, very large areas around the screen. It is, without a doubt, the biggest smartphone I’ve ever seen, even bigger than the G Flex but with a smaller screen. Despite a decent size the quality is poor, even at a resolution of 1080x1920 the 373 ppi leaves the screen noticeably lacking in quality and lacking any eye catching colours.

Beneath the screen the Oppo N1 sports the Snapdragon 600 chipset, a Quad-core 1.7GHz 300 Krait processor and a very middle-of-the-road 2GB of RAM. Specs that are certainly nothing to write home about, and as software (games, apps, etc) becomes more complex, only promises to become slower and slower than some of it’s rivals. I even experienced slow down, crashes and bugs just using ColorOS, sometimes having to wait between 3 and 5 seconds to unlock the phone from standby.

The only place the Oppo N1 shines is the camera. With a formidable 13 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, and dual-LED flash, it can even contend with it’s better known rivals. Even the bemoaned ColorOS uses the camera in interesting ways that other smartphones don’t such as long exposure shots, which filters the light to a maximum of 8 seconds and shoots. Combined with a tripod and this feature can lead to some really interesting and artsy shots, if that’s your kind of thing, and excels in lowlight and nighttime conditions. As well as these features the Oppo N1 camera swivels, meaning it acts as both the back facing and front facing camera, meaning you can get 13MP shots for all your selfies as well, currently something not offered by any other smartphone… yay.

Technical Specifications:
  • Size: 82.6 x 170.7 mm x 9 
  • Display: IPS LCD, 16 million colours 
  • Memory: 16/32 GB RAM 
  • Operating System: Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) 
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 
  • CPU: Quad-core 1.7 GHz Krait 300 
  • GPU: Quad-core Adreno 320 
  • Camera: 13 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels 

All in all, the Oppo N1 is not great. If you want a big phone with a big screen, mid-range specs, an impressive camera but only just an acceptable level of quality, then this is good for you. Otherwise I’d say you can get far better smartphones out there.

Filipe Alves

Oppo N1 at CeX

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