The Blind Side

Rich white lady helps poor black guy. This is a feel good movie designed to help wealthy white people in America feel better about themselves. This is based on the true story of Michael Oher who is inexplicably legally adopted by a wealthy family and who goes on to be incredibly good at American football.

It is clear that what is less remarkable is how a young black man from a poor background should overcome the odds to be such a successful person, but rather how a white woman should be so generous. This movie should be about Oher, but it is not, it is about Leigh Anne Tuohy – played by Sandra Bullock as if Erin Brockovich was a rich woman. It came as no surprise to me to hear that the role was originally offered to Julia Roberts.

The movie gives very little detail on who Michael Oher is and seems content to leave him as a mysterious young man who is not comfortable talking about his past. If that were in any way forgivable, what is worse is that the film makes little attempt to explain the seemingly random generousity of Tuohy to adopt Oher in the first place. The best you get is the implication she did this because she is a good Christian, but that is clearly unsatisfactory in terms of story telling for us to simply take at face value. Ironically, the only moment of turmoil in the film where the Tuohy’s are accused of taking him in as a means of securing his playing services at their favourite college is the most logical and credible explanation put forward.

The movie is saccarine sweet in its feel good moments. The moments are just too much and left me feeling a little nauseous.

I am not trying to take away from the remarkable nature of the story of Michael Oher and the Tuohy family. It is based on a true story and that much is not in dispute. However it feels like the director knew he had solid good subject matter, and did a poor job converting this into a well told story, instead relying on it to be implicit enough to do the job for him. So what should have been a slam dunk, turned instead into one of those lame lay ups that bounces along the rim a bit before meekly dropping into the basket.

This was not my kind of film, and from the make up of the audience that sat in the theatre with me, it was clear that the film appeals to different people. The closer you are in spirit to an over 40 year old woman, the more you will enjoy this.

In fact, let this be the barometer for determining how much you are like a 40 year old woman.

Three stars

Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2

The sequel lived up to all expectations, and in many cases exceeded them. This game is wonderfully immersive, richly detailed, and exceptionally beautiful. It is fun, action packed, but also thoughtful, intelligent and absorbing.

Some of the weaker parts of the original game, such as the planet exploration via the awkward Mako vehicle and the ridiculously cumbersome inventory system have been done away entirely. The adequate shooting mechanics have been tightened up significantly, and the small technical glitches such as the texture pop ins have been fixed.

For me the best part of Mass Effect is the amazingly detailed world you play in, the strength of the characters you interact with and the overall story. What is particularly special about Mass Effect 2 is that your experience is in many ways unique to you. Not only do the decisions that you make throughout the game affect the way in which the story unfolds, and each player has the ability to affect their story in different ways at many points, but the decisions you made in the original game also affect the way in which the story unfolds in this one. By allowing you to import your save game from Mass Effect 1 the story picks up from the ending you created in the original and carries through, and as the game progresses the impact of your decisions are integrated into the narrative.

This creates so many different threads that the story can run along and it will be interesting to see how all these threads continue to run into the third game. The overall gist is the same, but the manner in which it plays out can be quite different.

I played this game for over 40 hours, including a single day where I played for 13 hours non-stop, it is that addictive, and yet still I find myself wishing it was longer. Some additional downloadable content is in the works, and it can’t come soon enough.

One of the best games I have ever played. Five stars.