Justice League Movie Review

Justice League

The world’s finest finally come together on the big screen, albeit it has been a really bumpy road. With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice being a critical failure, and the DCU generally under-performing (with exception of Wonder Woman). Will the previous movies bog down this one and is DC several years too late to the superhero team movie?

Likes:

Luke

  1. I’ll preface this review with the fact that I do in fact like the DC characters more than the Marvel Heroes. So it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed having the DC characters together on the big screen. I really enjoyed these versions of the characters I love. Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg  were all well acted and brought different personalities to the team. While the story may be lacking, the saving grace in this movie for me is the characters.
  2. It doesn’t have the same tone of dread that BvS did. It was a lighter tone in the same vain as Wonder Woman, which I feel is needed for this film.
  3. (Spoiler-ish) Superman does superman things and is likable.

Adam

  1. This was a fun, lighter toned film. This film didn’t take itself as seriously as Dawn of Justice did, but didn’t get as silly as some of the newer Marvel movies have. I felt that it was the perfect blend, and appreciated how they didn’t go too far either way.
  2. I really enjoyed the new members of the team: Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg. They are all interesting and enjoyable to watch. They may not have been developed quite as much as I’d like but in the time they had, I felt that they did a good job.
  3. I felt like the characters were closer to how their characters have been portrayed in the past and in the comic books. Dawn of Justice showed most of the characters in very different way that I didn’t like, but in this movie I feel like we got closer to the source material.

Dislikes:

Luke

  1. The main villain, Steppenwolf, is pretty boring and generic. His motivations aren’t really made clear and it’s the same old renew-the-earth-by-destroying-it plot. The story is fairly weak and predictable. But as mentioned before, the characters sell it and the pacing is good enough that it doesn’t drag.
  2. Not enough J.K. Simmons.

Adam

  1. The storyline was a little lacking and unsurprisingly foreseeable. There was only one part that actually surprised me.
  2. Minor thing, but I don’t like how flash runs. His arm motion doesn’t look natural.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 2/5

This film is your typical superhero action movie, there’s some language at parts and the violence is on par with most PG-13 films. There are a few bits of adult humor that will go over the kids’ heads.

Overall:

Luke:

It’s hard to say if this movie will be remembered in a decade or so. The Avengers was the first of this kind of big superhero multi-franchise team up so this movie will probably be overshadowed by it. However I am very fond of the characters. I love these heroes and to see them on the big screen was a delight even though its slightly above average at best. It’s entertaining, action-packed and should please you for 2 hours. If you love the DC heroes, it’s definitely worth a watch. But if you’re feeling super hero fatigue, then this film will probably bore you.

Adam: 

I did enjoy this movie. I honestly went in with low expectations but was pleasantly surprised. This is definitely one that is worth going to see in the theater. DC is moving in the right direction and I have hope that the DC Cinematic Universe will continue to improve.

 

Spider-man: Homecoming Review

Spider-man has had many faces in the past. Each actor who has played him has had a different take on who Spider-man is. Who is this new Spider-man going to be? We have already had a little taste of who our new Spider-man is in Captain America: Civil War but as we really get to know him in Homecoming how will he compare to the others? Let’s dive in and find out.

Likes:

Adam

  1. This is the youngest Spider-man that we have seen. In Homecoming Peter Parker is a sophomore in high school and only 15 years old. The previous two Spider-men were seniors and high school grads. Having him this young with so many parts of regular life left to figure out and sort through was fun and interesting. We also get the youngest Aunt May as well.
  2. Spider-man doesn’t have all of the answers. He like any kid that age is really trying to figure every thing out. Tom Holland really sells that he is a 15 year old, he does the teenage rebellion, taking on more than he can chew, angst, and so much more so well. He deals with things that every teenager deals with on top of his super powers. It felt very real and relatable.
  3. The way Peter was portrayed as an outsider was way more realistic. In the past two Spider-man series, Peter is usually picked on in fairly exaggerated and violent way. In Homecoming he is more verbally and emotionally bullied which is, in my experience, far more realistic.
  4. The effects and fights overall were really cool to watch and looked great.
  5. It was pretty funny but not too over the top like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was.

Luke

  1. I would say that Tom Holland has become my favorite Spider-man. Not only does he pull of a geeky yet likable Peter Parker, he also has the energy and quips for a good Spider-man.
  2. The villains for the Marvel movies are usually fairly weak (except for Loki of course). I wasn’t sure how they’d pull off Vulture as he was a B-list Villain at best. But Michael Keaton pulled off a performance that made him much more likable and memorable than most other villains in the MCU.

Dislikes:

Adam

  1. There were a couple of times when Spider-man is climbing up walls, and running across rooftops where his movements are somewhat unnatural and it is clearly computer generated. But other times he looks great. It would have been better if they could have kept those effects more consistent.

Luke

  1. Yeah we get it, Aunt May is hot. You don’t have to have 3 jokes back to back at the beginning about it.

Awkward Walk-in Meter: 1/5

Adam: This movie was very clean and fun and the only thing that could be frighting at all is the peril that comes from Spider-man’s fights with the bad guys.

Luke: Bullies have a nick name for Peter which is Penis Parker.

Overall:

Adam: This movie was a lot of fun and in my opinion the best Spider-man yet. The humor was there as you would expect from Spider-man but it wasn’t over done. I felt he was way more relatable, and acted closer to how a teenager in this situation would really act. I felt that there was a real good story and arc for our hero. I was surprised by one major twist that I did not see coming and am happy that this one genuinely surprised me. Definitely go see this one and stay for the mid credit and post credit scenes.

Luke: I think this may be equal to or even greater than Spiderman 2 in quality. It was obvious that Sony let Marvel do what they wanted and not ruin it. The humor was on point but still had a solid character arc about Peter learning what it means to be a hero. I was worried about Superhero fatigue until I saw Wonder Woman and Spiderman: Homecoming. So far 2017 has been a solid year for the comic book super hero films.

Mass Effect Andromeda Review

600 Years Through Dark Space

The only experience I have with the Mass Effect series is when I downloaded the demo for Mass Effect 3. I played a couple minutes of it, had to put it down, then it was lost to memory until now. I’m not saying it was a terrible experience. I remember being fairly busy at the time. I was interrupted with something family related and just forgot to pick it back up. Mass Effect Andromeda’s story starts as the story of Mass Effect 2 concludes but before Mass Effect 3 starts. A rather creative approach as a lot of us, at this point, know how fairly hard it would be to continue after Mass Effect 3 . This way, Bioware basically has a clean slate to keep this franchise going. If only it was successful. I purchased the game on release day and before I could pop it in my PS4 to enjoy, it was already being torn apart by reviewers. A lot of which, if not all, were avid fans of the previous installments. Maybe this was just a case of nostalgia and longing for the glory that once was. The very case that plagues the Final Fantasy franchise. Having practically no experience of what Mass Effect really was about, I harbor no expectations and biased opinions towards the latest installment of the series and perhaps I can provide a different insight.

Minutes into the game and I am already annoyed. Aside from minor mission bugs that truthfully, weren’t game breaking in my case, we have dialog, and all kinds of animation issues that start. That’s when I started to truly think about why this game is being ripped apart online.

Dialog:

The majority of which is very cheesy and, for a lack of better description, lifeless. The kind that brings a new and different appreciation for fan fiction authors (not all, but most) out there. Now couple that with lackluster voice acting and you have a recipe for a “skip every scene” button mash.

Animations:

One of the first things you’ll most likely notice is the glaringly awkward animations. Be it your Ryder taking a stroll, jumping, dodging bullets, or just plain talking, its flaw is prominent. At times, my pathfinder runs like a discombobulated clay doll with extremities flailing about seemingly broken. At first, it was actually quite hilarious. But after the 3rd, 4th, 20th time it occurred, it was no longer as well received. It shouldn’t have been from the start but it had amusement value then. Still, the worst of it all was the facial animation. Games like these that offer character customization, play into the vanity of us gamers. At least for me, I try to make my characters as good looking and least comical as possible. I understand that looks are subjective but unless it’s on purpose, most of us want a decent looking character. I will have to look at him or her the duration of my time in the game. First, you are provided with meager options on the customization. With what was provided, I tried my best to create a decent looking pathfinder in a decent amount of time. My Ryder somehow came out with a perpetually surprised look. His eyeballs were ready to pop out of their sockets at any given time. Kinda hard to take him seriously especially in solemn, somber scenes. Why even give the option of customization when you’ll just end up distorting and disfiguring us?

Gameplay:

Andromeda offered multiple classes to choose from that one can either customize according to play style or just settle for presets. Each class had its own passive and active skills, both defensive and offensive. I had a blast disposing of those that refused to be nothing more than a pebble in my shoe in fun and creative ways. It complimented the plethora of weapons Andromeda provides quite well. Where its lacking is armor. There are only a few to choose from and you can upgrade them to max. You’ll need points that can be earned through missions(main and side), exploration, and discovery to upgrade your weapons and armor, so choose wisely where you allocate these points. The combat itself was average but I wasn’t expecting it to be breath taking so it did its job. There isn’t much more to say really. One aspect I had nothing to gripe about.

Story:

The potential for something amazing exists in Andromeda. I mean, quite literally, there’s a new galaxy for it. You travel over 600 years through dark space trying to escape the threat of extinction in Mass Effect 2. You awake from cryostasis to find yourself at war with a genocidal alien race. You are tasked with the title of Pathfinder and all the responsibilities that comes with it. It is your burden to find a new home for the thousands of humans and aliens alike that boarded this expedition. You’re in a monumental adventure, making history, and you would think that your decisions would actually matter. Outside of the main story line and even in some cases, within in it, it doesn’t. Colonists are being plagued by deserters turned bandits in a recent uprising. You, the Pathfinder, finds a path to quell the injustice and you receive a very forgettable display of gratitude. And if that wasn’t insulting enough, such tasks and requests are duplicated in the rest of the habitable planets in the galaxy. There is no real consequence to the decision you make despite the game’s effort in urging you that there is. You do your valiant grandeur. Speak your eloquently moving speech. They move on indifferently, in most situations,  and so do you to the next rehashed, reskinned call for help. I’ve noticed differences in dialog, so there’s that. Perhaps these adventures would be more meaningful and colorful if you brought along people to share the fun with. Well, you can have up to 6 characters that you can cycle through to form your party of 3 and go pathfinding. Each have their own unique backstory dictating their interactions with your Ryder’s decisions. Given the right response, sex, and preference, you can even have romantic relationships with them. Some of their conversations between each other can be humorous while others, annoying. I didn’t have any favorite and experimented with different combinations especially when doing their own personal quests to earn their utmost loyalty and still came out with generic results.

Replayability:

I suppose sense of ownership and responsible expenditure saw to it and made sure I at least finished the game getting as much as I can out of my investment. But at some point I had to tell myself that the fun was exceedingly fleeting when it was there and the rest resembles a Saturday morning chore. Some games rely on their replayability values through grinding for the best armor and the best weapon to own everyone that looked at you funny. And even in that same monotonous grind fun can be found if implemented correctly. A modicum amount can be found here and I feel like I’m being generous with that. It does have online multiplayer function. But it has microtransaction temptations and nothing you accomplish there can be transferred to your offline file. It might as well be its own separate game.

Overall:

Andromeda was fun–sometimes. But it was overwhelmingly disappointing; mind you I came in to this game with no expectations so that’s saying something. Don’t rent it, don’t buy it. If you must, I’d say wait for that huge price drop and hope that they had fixed the abundance of flaws (I’d list more but they do go on) that is littered throughout the game.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Review

Unlike the title of the fifth pirates movie, seemingly dead franchises still have tales to tell. It’s been 6 years since the last pirates movie and 10 years since the ending of the Will Turner trilogy. This movie takes place 19-20 years after At World’s End. So was the brief hiatus what the series needed to turn out a sequel that wasn’t lackluster? Does it stack up with the first pirates movie (the only good one)? Let’s find out, eh shavvy?

Likes:

Luke

  1. The story is not a standalone Jack Sparrow adventure like the previous movie, but actually continues off the original trilogy where Will Turner is the captain of the flying dutchman, still cursed to ferry the dead at sea (an ending that I absolutely hated). The story continues with his son, Henry Turner, seeking the Trident of Poseidon, that has the power to break his father’s curse.  I love that the film is basically seeking to fix the ending that I hated so much.
  2. The new villain played by the brilliant Javier Bardem, is truly a foe worthy of his infamy among pirates. The problem that many of the previous pirate movies had (except the first one) was the insistent of adding antagonists to the point where it’s hard to keep track of everyone’s motivations. This movie starts off as having a secondary antagonist but half way through the movie is taken out of the picture. I was relieved to say at least the plot wasn’t a muddy mess that the previous movies were. By the end of the movie, it was very clear who the protagonists and the antagonists were.
  3. The action scenes were dynamic and unique. Some were really outlandish but I had to remind myself that this was a movie about ghost pirates seeking a mythical trident. If you loved the silly action set pieces from the previous movies, then you’ll be right at home with this one.

Adam

  1. Captain Hector Barbossa was magnificently played by Geoffrey Rush. The amount of acting that he could do with just his facial expressions and how much he could convey was simply amazing. He went through the whole range of emotions and I love the arc that he has made through the series. Any time that he is on screen is great.
  2. The effects for this movie were top notch. The way Captain Salazar and his crew looked and what they were able to do was just amazing. The overall look of the movie was beautiful.

Dislikes:

Luke

  1. While the new characters aren’t as boring as the previous movie, the next generation probably won’t have the lasting effect as the original characters. Carina, the new female lead was pretty good as the scientist astronomer which is different for the series. Henry Turner was just a less interesting Will Turner though. Jack Sparrow is beginning to lack his charm. They set up Jack to be a washed up has-been who is a dying breed of pirate which would have been interesting had they not promptly dropped it once the adventure started and he went about doing his usual thing. They really need to find a new angle for him, or maybe give him an arc for once, like the first movie.
  2. I don’t like the implications that the post credits scene made. The ending of this movie was quite satisfying and they’re trying to muddy it up with sequel bait.

Adam

  1. I was very disappointed with Jack in this film. In all of the other films he is almost always in control of the situation and if something doesn’t quite go his way he has back up plans. In this film he very rarely seemed to have a plan and when the plans he did have went wrong he didn’t have backup plans. I agree with Luke, he lost some of his charm and also some of his wit.
  2. The post credit scene was completely sequel bait and, I feel, didn’t make any sense based on how the movie ended. They are making and exception to the films resolution just for the sake of a sequel.

Awkward Walk-in Meter: 2/5

Luke: There is some suggestive humor in it that will likely go over the kid’s heads. Pirates drinking rum is a mainstay of the series. Some parts might be too scary for the little ones. It’s your typical PG-13 movie.

Overall:

Luke: It’s safe to say that this movie is the second best pirates movie to date. Not hard to do as the last three were pretty lackluster. There are a lot of things this movie does right that the previous movies failed to do but it still doesn’t live up to the charm of the original pirates movie. If you were disappointed in the ending of At World’s End, you will want to see this movie as it delivers a much more satisfying conclusion for all your favorite characters from the first pirate films. So while this movie wasn’t great like the first movie, it was at the very least good.

Adam:  This was a good movie and a good attempt to return to what the was so good about the first film. It didn’t quite make it there but there was still a lot of good in it. There was several touching moments that were lacking from many of the other films and several character arc were excellent. The ending of the movie was extremely satisfying and clean. If you are a fan of Curse of the Black Pearl then go see this one in theaters.

Ghost In The Shell (2017) Movie Review

Here’s some context for this movie. It’s based off the classic anime film in 1995 with the same name. It’s a landmark anime classic that became cyberpunk stable. The deep philosophical themes elevated it past a cartoon and into one of the most beloved sci-fi animated films ever made. I recently watched it for the first time several weeks ago to prepare for this movie. I can say that I became a fan and watched the second movie and a few episodes of Stand Alone Complex, the TV anime series. So how does Hollywood’s adaptation compare to one of the most important anime ever made?

Likes:

  1. Let’s first address the elephant in the room concerning this movie. It’s been given a lot of backlash from fans of the anime for its controversial casting of Scarlet Johansson as The Major, a Japanese character being played by a white actor. I can understand why many people are upset by this. It follows a trend in Hollywood movies that white actors are needed to promote a film and casting minorities into major roles is financial suicide. Even though there are several examples where this isn’t the case, it has been an issue in American films since forever. If you are a fan planning on boycotting this movie because of the casting, I will ask you to reconsider. Without getting into spoilers, this is actually addressed in the film and I personally think they handled it brilliantly. I really want to watch this movie again with some Asian friends of mine and have a discussion about how this film dealt with the white-washing and get their opinions on it. I plan on writing about this further in detail with spoilers included next week when I get to have this discussion. I don’t wish to have this get political but our mission here at GMF is to promote inclusiveness across the spectrum of Geek culture. I think racial inclusivity is very much a part of that. I think this discussion will be both interesting and important. So yes I recommend seeing this movie so you can prepare for that discussion as well.
  2. That said, I think Scarlett Johansson’s performance of the Major was very well done. She had the confidence in her abilities and intellect that made her a badass. At the same time she showed the lack of confidence in her humanity that drove her to get answers about her identity and purpose in life. Both features that are shown in the anime.
  3. The main reason why I went to see this movie is because of the production design and it does not disappoint. This is the anime in live action, the sets are both beautiful and disturbing as any good cyberpunk should be where ads are littered everywhere but sitting behind the flashy holograms is a society that is dirty.
  4. The supporting cast I believe were all true to the characters in the original anime as well espeically Batou and Aramaki (The Chief). Aramaki by the way is played by Japanese actor Takeshi Kitano, speaks japanese throughout the whole movie and like the anime, is a badass that doesn’t take crap from anyone. I loved that character and how he was played in this.
  5. The pacing on this movie was good, I was engaged throughout the whole movie.

Dislikes:

  1. This movie had a few things that didn’t make sense like why they designed an interrogation collar that made it possible to bring one’s own neck. Then there was a character action or something that didn’t make sense that I can’t remember. But overall its pretty nit-picky things.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 3/5

While the nudity was turned down considerably from the original to get the PG-13 rating, there are still plenty of spots where there is synthetic skin showing. Granted having an android body doesn’t include nipples, so it didn’t really count I guess? The cloaking suit The Major wears is skin tight but is covered. Overall it is actually tastefully done though. The violence is a bit harder than your typical PG-13 superhero movie but the blood which was in the trailer was cut out of the film. I would be interested to see if they release an R or Unrated Version down the line.

Overall:

The worst thing this movie could have been is boring, predictable and untrue to the source material. Fortunately none of these things are the case. As you can tell I actually loved this movie. I can’t say that it’s better than the original but it succeeded as an adaptation. I think a lot of critics are seeing this movie as a remake which is unfortunate. The philosophical themes of this movie on identity are different and unique to this version (which I will write about next week). So it doesn’t seek to imitate or replace the original but be its own unique version of the setting and characters of the beloved anime with an international lens. If you go into this movie with that mind set you will probably enjoy it. Again, if you are a fan that is boycotting for the whitewashing, do reconsider and check it out. You may be surprised with how smart this Hollywood blockbuster actually is.

Rogue One is Here!

The Holiday season has come and gone and we have received our now annual Star Wars gift. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was released on Friday December 16 (December 15 if you were able to catch an early screening). It is about the events that happen immediately before Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope. It is a stand alone Star Wars movie that is not one of the episodes. Let’s take a look at our Likes and Dislikes.

 

Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert! 

DO NOT READ ON IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS. 

Adam –

Likes

  1. I like that you weren’t hit head with an explanation for everything. In the Prequels I felt like there was so much exposition explaining everything. In A New Hope there are many things that are just mentioned but not explained like the Kessel Run and (initially) the Clone Wars. It left a lot to imagination. Jyn’s time with Saw growing up is not explained very much, and Mon Mothma and Bail Organa reference both Obi-Wan and Leia with out actually mentioning their name, to name a few examples.
  2. The more I think about it the more I like how they showed the darker side of the rebellion. Cassian killing an informant just to keep him quiet, General Draven ordering Jyn’s father killed, Cassian’s confession for the Rogue One strike team. It makes the rebellion just so much more realistic and believable.
  3. Darth Vader. I felt like this Vader was closer to the Empire Strikes Back Vader, not taking crap from anyone and more fully using his powers. I absolutely loved the scene when he appears in the rebel ship and starts taking on the the troopers.
  4. The space battle over Scarif. I loved the use of the classic X-wings and Y-wings, especially the use of the ion bombs to disable the Star Destroyer. I also loved the way they showed how desperate the situation way when they used a Blockade Runner to ram the Star Destroyer down into the shield generator.
  5. K-2SO. He was funny, sarcastic, full of personality, and ended up having a big heart.

Dislikes

  1. Saw Gerrara. I didn’t feel Saw was a well developed character and he seemed to out there. They could have gotten around using him.
  2. Saw’s mind/feeling reading beast, Bor Gullet. It was made out to be this menacing thing but is was short lived. Then the side effects of “going out of your mind” were overcome by 1-2 min of conversation.
  3. Princess Leia. I love the fact that she was in it but I didn’t like the lingering shot on her face. They did an amazing job. I was impressed with how close they were able get her face to the original Leia but it was still in uncanny valley and it bothered me. I would have been happier if they would have just shown her from the back.

My initial feeling for this movie was “Meh it was good. Not in my Star Wars tops but definitely not the worst either”. However as I have been thinking back on the movie, seeing it the second time and  playing parts of it back in my head, I have grown to like it more and more.