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Review: Minority Report and Grand Theft Auto San Andreas

March 11, 2011

First things first, if it seemed like that last review was rushed, well, that’s because it was. I was working on it down to the last minute, and I had to go back and re-write the Back to the Future game review because I, in an astounding fit of obliviousness, closed the browser without saving the draft.

So, anyway. Minority Report. Taking place in the mid-21st century, it defines itself early as a neo-noir film, with the overarching themes of predestination versus free will fleshed out from the start. Tom Cruise plays John Anderton, chief of the Pre-Crime division of the Washington D.C. Police Department, and a drug addict whose son was kidnapped and presumably killed fifteen years ago. Now that I see it written out, this role just absolutely reeks of Oscar bait.

After being preemptively accused of premeditated murder, he must flee his former co-workers, and Director Burgess, played by notable Swedish actor Max von Sydow. Along the way he uncovers a plot implicating Burgess in an attempt to set up Anderton, as well as the murders of Anne Livey and Department of Justice agent Danny Whitwer (Colin Farrell). Honestly, it’s not the best movie ever. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent movie, but not one of the best I’ve ever seen. The technology in the movie is very interesting, especially the remote touch-screen system and the automated mag-lev vehicles. The third act, after Anderton is captured, swerves away from the dark tone of the rest of the move towards a lighter, happier ending.

There are theories that this ending is all in Anderton’s head as he is imprisoned for life. Personally, I like this theory, because it seems to be in line with many of Philip K. Dick’s short stories. _________________________________________________________________

What does Grand Theft Auto have to do with this Tom Cruise movie? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. But it is a game that I have played, and that’s the format. The in-game state of San Andreas is huge, spanning three separate metropolitan cities and several small towns and wilderness areas. Overall, the map is four times as large as Vice City.

The game takes place sometime in 1992, and judging by the heat radiating from the streets of Los Santos, it’s in the summer. Carl Johnson (rapper Young Maylay) returns home to Grove Street after his mother is killed in a drive-by shooting. Once home, he reunites with his brother Sweet (Faizon Love), his sister Kendl (rapper Yo-Yo), and childhood friends Ryder (MC Ehit) and Big Smoke (Clifton Powell).

And then there’s the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums, or C.R.A.S.H. unit of the LSPD. These officers are the main antagonists throughout the game, and are really the more memorable characters of the game, as often happens with the bad guys. The unit is led by Sergeant Frank Tenpenny. Tenpenny is voiced by Samuel L. Jackson, who according to a Let’s Play by Jerusalem, “has appeared in every movie ever made, including all those to be made in the future.” And dammit, he should.

In the course of the game, CJ goes from being a street hood who just wants to get back to his new home in Liberty to an inter-state West Coast businessman and rap manager and finally to being a Grove Street O.G. and second-in-command to Sweet. By and large, the missions are well structured, with the notable exception of that one where you ride next to the train with Smoke on the back of your bike, I mean seriously what was up with that one?

The ending can be seen as somewhat of a letdown, what with Tenpenny dying after crashing a fire truck over a bridge and landing on Grove Street. I don’t see it like that, I see it as a fitting end. Tenpenny is ultimately done in by his own arrogance, CJ proves that he cares about Grove Street again by being willing to put a bullet in Tenpenny, Sweet stops CJ from leaving any evidence in Tenpenny, showing his maturity, Kendl is just glad it’s all over so she can get back to managing their investments, and The Truth…well, he’s still one acid flashback away from being in a coma.

As always, your mileage may vary, and the comments section is open for thoughts, concerns, and requests.

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