Liar Liar | Dragon Age: Origins, "The Battle of Redcliffe"
Rubber-faced fun and a battle against the undead - just to be clear, not at the same time...
MOVIE REVIEW // Liar Liar
Movie summary: A fast-track lawyer can't lie for 24 hours due to his son's birthday wish after he disappoints his son for the last time. (IMDb)
I have to just add a little something to that summary up there that a lot of comedy pieces do when there's a 'no lie' effect in place (the 'truth serum' scenes in Ant-Man and the Wasp the most recent I can remember), which is that Fletcher's (Jim Carrey) son's wish actually invokes compulsive truth-telling, with him offering up comments he wish he hadn't been said even when there's no need to do so.
That is just a clarification though, and not a criticism, as it does lead to even more genuinely hilarious scenes than there would've been otherwise. It's a pretty simple premise, but Liar Liar mines that vein of comedy for all it can and does pretty well out of it, mainly thanks to Carrey's performance, which includes some great physical comedy in addition to the often-fantastic dialogue.
If only Carrey had been reined in, I think this movie could've gone down as a comedy classic, but some very funny moments are let down as he just keeps going to excess, or even just skipping the build-up and going straight into shouty, manic mode. It's a fine line to walk and the movie does handle it well for the most part, as it is very funny, but I think certain moments might annoy some rather than amuse them.
The only real negative is the relationship between Fletcher's ex-wife, Audrey (Maura Tierney), and her boyfriend, Jerry (Cary Elwes), which comes across as a little weird. Audrey's ready to move across the country with him and her son, Max (Justin Cooper), even though she clearly doesn't like him as much as he likes her - that relationship just never seems healthy at all and only seems to exist as something else for Fletcher to worry about rather than giving Audrey something more substantial to do.
Liar Liar is a fun enough movie that could've been great if Jim Carrey had been reined in just a little bit during his wilder moments - there are a lot of very, very funny moments in this movie, but there could've been so many more. Also, the sub-plot about the ex-wife and her new partner isn't exactly brilliant and hardly sends the best message.
[7/10 - GOOD]
GAME PLAY // Dragon Age: Origins, "The Battle of Redcliffe"
I was surprised playing through this section about how long it took, because I'd completely forgotten how much there was to do in the village before taking on an army of undead at night. I'm not skipping any dialogue in this playthrough, and also exploring conversation options as I think my character would (it's called a role-playing game for a reason) and there is a lot to get through here.
Hell, the moment I arrived, Alistair decides to reveal that he was actually King Maric's son and related to Cailan, who fell with the Grey Wardens in the slaughter at Ostagar. I can't remember what happens if you don't have him in your party when you arrive, but it was nice to be surprised again by something old, because I'd completely forgotten about this aspect to his character.
There's also another link between the Human Noble origin and a character in the main game as Bann Teagan, the brother of Alistair's adoptive father, Arl Eamon, recognises Elissa because of her family. Again, it's been a while since I played Origins before this, and even longer since I played any other origin story, so it is a genuine surprise that there are so many connections to the origin I chose - are there this many for the others?
Moving on to the action, there's a lot of people to speak to, side quests that can be completed, and preparations to be made in advance of the impending attack at night. What I thought was going to be a very short section before the battle ended up taking over an hour due to the sheer amount of things you can do, which was actually very pleasing, and another one of those moments that made the world of Thedas feel that little bit more substantial than other game worlds.
However you prepare, the attack comes at night and, thanks to knowing how terrible the AI is for NPC characters, I switched to controlling Wynne for the battle to heal as many as possible - the reason being there are different lines post-battle that depend on how well you do in terms of keeping people alive. Unfortunately the NPC AI is so bad that I still couldn't keep everyone alive, with three soldiers dying.
The problem is that the AI doesn't take into account environmental dangers - such as the oil you use to light barricades on fire that the friendly NPCs just wander into as well, setting themselves alight - nor the number and positions of the enemies, often moving to stand in the middle of a crowd and being reduced from full health to a corpse while I was in the middle of healing another idiot who'd wandered into danger.
Despite the losses, it was still considered a pretty good outcome by the game, leading to Teagan showing Elissa a secret route into Eamon's castle that was still defended and infested by the undead. He couldn't come with the group though, as Isolde (Eamon's wife) arrives and asks her to come with him, as her son - who she reveals has magical powers and is behind the undead - wants him to come.
Just a side note here: I don't know whether it's because Dragon Age: Origins is an old game struggling to run on a newer system or if the mods I have installed are to blame, but there were a few texture issues with NPC character outfits here and the reason for the screenshot chose above, The conversation with Isolde was the worst for this, as her outfit and a knight in the background kept flickering into different textures and I didn't want to risk crashing the game, so zipped through it as fast as I could.
Back to the plot, Teagan goes with Isolde as Elissa and allies take the secret route, massacring the undead and opening the castle gates to let Eamon's knights help out, also releasing a mage Isolde had hired to teach her son to hide his magic, but who had also poisoned Eamon at Loghain's request - said mage is named Jowan, and you'll get more of his backstory if you play through the mage origin.
Phew, that's a lot! All started thanks to Isolde not wanting to send her son away to the Circle of Magi. She does end up paying for it though, by being a sacrifice for a blood magic ritual performed by Jowan that can send another mage into the Fade to confront the demon controlling Connor, Isolde and Eamon's son. There are multiple choices you can take here with very different outcomes, but Elissa chooses to send Wynne.
And Wynne does not take it well, being a very proper mage - she is neither pleased at taking part in a blood magic ritual, nor being used as effectively bait to lure the demon away from Connor and her relationship with the Warden is seriously damaged by this. Regardless, she goes through with it and speaks to both Eamon and Connor, before confronting the demon behind everything.
Again, there are multiple choices that can be made here which I won't spoil, because you can be really evil if you want to, but - playing Wynne as she has been portrayed so far - I just attack the demon without negotiating, finding it more than a little tricky thanks to Wynne having very little in the way of offensive spells. Still, she obviously comes out on top and... the game crashed.
Reloading it and now knowing what to do, Wynne makes short work of the demon despite the lack of options when it comes to dealing damage and Connor is saved, although Isolde dies as a result. It's then time to think about Eamon, with you being sent off to recover the Urn of Sacred Ashes if you haven't already done so, because the Arl isn't waking up without them.
As Elissa has already done so, there's actually a pretty funny moment as Teagan says you'll have to go on an epic quest for this possibly non-existent item, warning of the dangers and possible futility of your efforts, only for the Warden to go "yep, done it already" and utterly astonish the Bann as you can immediately go and awaken Eamon and filling him in on what's been going on.
He's very thankful to you for saving his son and his own life, also asking what should be done with Jowan - Elissa chooses to send him back to the Circle of Magi rather than free or kill him, aware that this will probably mean he will be stripped of his emotions and made a Tranquil as a result. It's one of those 'lawful' moments that still feels pretty bad, but he did play a part in the deaths of many others and his life will still be spared.
After that matter is settled, Eamon brings up the idea of a Landsmeet, a gathering of Ferelden's nobles, so they can present Alistair as a claimant to the throne due to his royal lineage - which he is not happy about, but can't argue with as the other option is falling in line with Loghain's orders and having to follow his commands. Elissa brings up multiple alternatives to spare Alistair, but Eamon shoots all of them down.
That effectively wraps things up for a while, as the Landsmeet can't happen until the Warden has got all the help from the treaties collected in the Swamp of Sorrows what feels like an age ago now. With a bunch of new side-quests to do too, there's plenty to be getting on with, so it's time to head to the second dreariest part of the game after the (skipped) Fade: Orzammar and the Deep Roads.