Dunkirk Movie Review

I’m always excited to see a new Christopher Nolan film out. He’s been using his popularity to direct a wide variety of films, with the Historical War Epic being the most recent. How does his style work in the war film? Does it live up to other war epics? Let’s sink into this, shall we? (Pun totally intended)

Likes:

  1. On a technical level this is a masterpiece of film. Shot on IMAX (which I highly recommend seeing it in if you can) cameras this film is gorgeous to look at. Some might be tired of the desaturated color palette that is common in war films, but this film truly deserves it as it fits the tone of the film perfectly. There is color at other parts of the film where it is needed too. But I must stress this again, if you have a IMAX theater near you playing this movie (or even better a 70mm film screening) it is absolutely worth it.
  2. The sound design maybe a bit on the controversial side as the focus of the mixing is on the chaos of war and visual storytelling, so the dialog is sometimes difficult to hear. That said, the dialog isn’t terribly important as the character actions are what drives the plot forward, not any exposition. The booms are loud, the bullets are deadly and it was truly am immersive experience as the sound really envelops you into the Beaches of Dunkirk.
  3. This is an unusual war film in the fact of how it shows war. The early WWII films were more-or-less action films with clear heroes and a glory that surrounds the conflict of war. The post-Vietnam war films were much more brutal and cynical as it depicted the dehumanizing effects on war. I don’t really think Dunkirk really fits in any of those paradigms. Firstly, this is a war movie about a crushing defeat of the allied troops early in the war before America gets involved. So there isn’t any glory or victory awaiting the troops on Dunkirk. The only victory at this point is survival. This depiction of war is unlike any war movie I’ve seen. It’s fresh and unique to this story where the only goal for most of these characters is to not die.

Likes/Dislikes:

  1. This is more of something I anticipate that people may struggle with than any personal criticisms I have. Like most of Christopher Nolan films, the structure of this film is not at all straight forward. This is something that I love about Nolan films is his use and mastery of structure is the best in the business today. However, some people might get lost as there are three distinct but overlapping story arcs that happen. First is a group of young soldiers on the beach trying to get off the beach and back home. The second is a English citizen and his two sons taking their boat across the English channel to Dunkirk. The final is the story of two BAF pilots fighting the German planes over the channel. Just know that the story is told on emotional beats of each arc and isn’t chronological.

Dislikes:

  1. There is a scene involving a lock that I won’t spoil for you. What I will say is that there was some buildup but the conflict dies down way too quickly. Didn’t really pay off for me.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 3/5

While the blood and gore isn’t nearly on the same level as Saving Private Ryan, this movie is really intense. Suspense is a driving force in the film and it might be much for kids to handle. There is also a couple ‘F’ bombs, but not enough to warrant an R rating.

Overall:

I really liked the film. Again, on a technical level is was a totally immersive and chaotic film that really justifies a large-format viewing like IMAX. The story is tense throughout the film and you can never predict what is going to happen. Especially since Dunkirk isn’t talked about often in WWII history (at least for Americans) as most of the stuff we discuss is the push back on and after D-day. So yeah, I guess this film is an unofficial prequel to Saving Private Ryan if you really want to look at it that way. That said, this is a worthy Nolan film, I can’t say it’s one of my favorites but good none-the-less.

Castlevania Season 1 (Netflex Series) Review

Now that Konami has abandoned many of it’s iconic video game series for Pachinko machines, the future of many beloved series have been put into question. Castlevania, one of the oldest and largest of these series may not have much of a future in video games but perhaps in other media. Netflex has produced an animated series based on the video games (particularly Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse). But is it even worth it, will the series suffer the same fate as other movies and TV shows based off of video games?

Likes:

  1. The animation is pretty solid. It has a bit of an anime vipe to it but I wouldn’t call it anime either. It’s sort of the same style as The Boondocks. They got the setting of gothic medieval Europe down really well too. It’s a very bleak and dark show, which is good for a Castlevania series.
  2. Considering this is only four episodes long, they did a good job at establishing the characters and their motivations. I would say this is more true for Trevor Belmont and Dracula than some of the other but as they are the two main players in the series, I think other seasons could develop them and the other characters further.
  3. Richard Armitage did a great job voicing Trevor Belmont. He was one of the things I really liked about the Hobbit series, and has such a great voice.

Dislikes:

  1. Speaking about the voice acting, the accents on many of the side characters were confused. Even then, it’s rather nick-picky as the geographical area isn’t clearly defined in the series.
  2. The season as I said earlier, is only 4 episodes long with a total run time of 88 minutes. I wonder why didn’t they just have it be a movie? I was definitely wanting it to be longer. Hopefully further seasons will be.
  3. I don’t know if the sound mixers forgot to compress Dracula’s dialog or what, but he was much harder to hear than the other characters.
  4. While the soundtrack wasn’t bad by any means, it was rather disappointing that they didn’t take any musical ques from the video games, which has some of the best video game music ever created. So don’t be expecting Vampire Killer or Bloody Tears to be playing.
  5. They didn’t break any candles or find pork chops inside the wall.

Likes and Dislikes:

  1. The action is really over-the-top, gory and fun. But there weren’t nearly enough action scenes in my opinion. Maybe it just comes down to me wanting more, which isn’t a bad thing. It felt like one episode only had one minor fight scene which is kinda disappointing.
  2. (Spoilers) Dracula isn’t even the main antagonist in the series, I would say that would be the Bishop and Priest of the church. The thing that bothered me is that slamming on a church for hypocrisy and backwards thinking is done so many times its become a cliche. The thing I did like is later in the show, a demon talks with a Bishop in the church and tells him that it was the hypocrisy and wickedness of the Bishops and Priests that made them lose the favor and protection of God. I liked how it was priestcraft and not the church itself that was evil. It is shown later that there were Priests in the city that was worthy enough to make holy water to fight the demons. So thank you for subverting the expectation and not using the “church is bad” cliche.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 4/5

This is rated TV-MA which is the equivalent of R. The show is really gory and bloody. You’d expect blood in a show about vampires but it’s pretty extreme.  Demons are shown in graphic detail ripping people apart and leaving a gory mess everywhere. There is also a considerable amount of language including a bunch of F bombs. It’s rather light when it comes to sexual content but the violence and language is enough that you better keep the kids away.

Overall: If you’re a big fan of shows like Vampire Hunter D, you’ll fit right in. While it wasn’t a masterpiece by any means, it was a enjoyable show none-the-less. If you’re a fan of the Castlevania games, I would also recommend checking it out. Just be mindful that this show is not for kids and if you don’t handle gore very well you probably shouldn’t see it.

Spider-man: Homecoming Review

Spider-man: Homecoming

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 Spider-man: 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:

Spider-man: Homecoming 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. The story and arc for our hero is good. One major twist I did not see coming, and I’m 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.

Why are we still watching Transformers? (Not a review)

Transformers

I’m afraid that I don’t have anything profound to discuss concerning the Transformers series. I don’t have any psychological reasoning or a hidden message that the Transformers movies tries to teach us to explain why these movies are still making money. This can’t be nostalgia, can it? I wouldn’t know because I was right after the Transformers as a kid. I didn’t grow up with the cartoon or the toys.

All that I know is that after 10 years, Hollywood is still making these movies despite poor reviews and generally a “meh” audience response. It isn’t like anyone I’ve talked to actually likes these movies. The first one was dumb but at least a little fun. The second one was so bad that I swore off the series completely. The only Transformers apologist I talked to tried to talk me into watching the third movie only because “it was better than the second one.” Unfortunately the second one was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. Heck, Dragonball: Evolution was better than Revenge of the Fallen (oh yes, I just went there). At least I could follow what was going on in Dragonball.

The fourth movie was trying to go into a different direction at least, by that I mean statutory rape jokes. Every time one of these movies comes out, I just keep hearing about how terrible they are. I go to Rotten Tomatoes this morning and saw that The Last Knight got a 16% score. Keep in mind that is lower than even Revenge of the Fallen (19%). Granted it could change as there was a review embargo and critics may need to wait until today to see it. Even then, a review embargo usually means that the movie is crap and they don’t want bad review scores affecting opening weekend revenue. Fortunately for us, the internet has sped up the word-of-mouth process to where a review embargo makes little difference.

The thing that irks me is that despite every sequel being a let down, the movies are still making money. A lot of that can be due to international box office revenue. However, the blame is on all of you who go see it. I would include myself to be fair but I haven’t seen a Transformers movie since Revenge of the Fallen. I’m doing my part but not giving them any of my money. In short, stop watching these movies. Let it crash and burn and die already. Hollywood will stop making these movies when we stop going to them, it’s that simple. In a capitalist society like ours, our money is our vote to what we want the industry to provide.

Stop pretending that this one might be the one that is good, we have 4 movies as proof that the series isn’t going to improve. Sorry I don’t have anything substantial or meaningful to this rant, but there is nothing substantial or meaningful in these movies either. If you want to watch a fun action movie that is good, go re-watch Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman Review

Wonder Woman

To put it mildly the DC Cinematic Universe has had a rough start. With the mixed bag of Man of Steel to the outright disappointment in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. There’s a lot riding on the new addition to the DCU, the first live action film of Wonder Woman. Does this movie give the most popular female superhero justice, could it save the DCU?

Likes:

Luke

  1. One of the biggest complaints of the DCU is that the films doesn’t depict the characters truthfully, which I agree in the case of Superman (a future article may come about this). One of the advantages of being the first movie for a character is that this movie isn’t going to be compared to other films. So the movie wasn’t compelled to reinvent the character, but rather was able to depict Wonder Woman in the same way as the current comics and animations do. So to answer the question earlier, yes, this movie does the character justice. This isn’t a super broody or edgy version from the 90’s comics, but rather the beginning of a naive but never-the-less heroic character learning about the world of man. It is refreshing to see a superhero movie look back to what made superheroes powerful story devices in the first place. In short, they got the archetypes right.
  2. One of the concerns I had with this movie was that it was going to be full of post-modern feminist crap. I don’t mean the egalitarian feminists but the misandry-fueled feminism. I was fully expecting very male character to be depicted as idiotic, cowardly, hate-filled brutes. However, they depicted the men in the film in a very human way, where indeed there was corruption but also valor. They also made Wonder Woman heroic by doing heroic things and not just by the virtue of being a woman. This is a clear example of how to do female superheroes, which is to treat them as heroes going through the heroes journey and getting the archetypes right.
  3. The actions scenes were incredible. There was something really refreshing about it and had an energy that isn’t seen much in modern action movies. I think there are two reasons for this, firstly is the context of the action. The best action movies are always character-driven. You actually care about the action because we care about the characters, which is why the action scenes in the original star wars trilogy were more memorable than the prequels. Secondly is that they actually took the time to properly choreograph and block the action scenes to make the action scenes easy to understand, get the action grounded and not rely on shaky-cam or overloading the shot with too many moving parts.
  4. The color grading was good, I was a bit worried since the war scenes looked nearly black and white, but there is color where it makes sense. The beginning on Paradise is very vivid but becomes muted when they get to the war. It made sense why they did it and I thought it looked great.

Adam

  1. One of the problems that I have had with the DCU is that it is just to serious and dark. The lack of humor (Batman vs Superman) is exhausting. Wonder Woman has remedied this. There was a fair bit of humor and it is all played out very well. Humor isn’t there for the sake of humor but is is all there for a reason. There is a lot of laughs that accompany Diana learn about the world of men. She never looked dumb or inferior, but it showed her innocents and naivety.
  2. Diana’s growth was very interesting to watch. You learn that she is very smart, and has a lot of knowledge that many others don’t. But as she starts to interact with Chris Pine’s character and ends up in the world of men you see how they she didn’t have a lot of our problems to deal with. As the movie goes on you see how she starts to adapt and learn how to survive, blend in and live in our world.
  3. The action scenes where amazingly done. I don’t think that I have seen this type of style before, it was very clean and easy to follow. However it kept me on the edge of my seat and looked amazing.

Dislikes:

Luke

  1.  I can’t think of anything that I really disliked about this movie. Maybe the London scenes might be a bit dull but I think it played an important part in teaching Diane about the world of man, her relation to it and what she needs to do to fit into that world. So nothing major here.

Adam

  1. The only things I had a little problem with was exactly what Luke said. The contrast from Paradise to London was so extreme that it was jarring. It was for a purpose however so it was forgivable.

Awkward Walk-in Meter: 3/5

Luke:

There is a lot of attractive woman in tunics during the beginning. But nothing that’s intentionally provocative. In fact, there is a scene where there is more nudity of Chris Pine than the ladies (which is zoomed out and covered). There is talk about sex in one scene but nothing too graphic. The violence actually has weight to it but it isn’t bloody or excessive. The language is minor.

Overall:

Luke:

Just when I thought I was getting superhero fatigue after watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it was actually the DCU movie that pulled me out of it. And the reason it did was that it went back to basics. The director Patty Jenkins said that she wanted to go back to character over spectacle with this movie and it clearly shows.

As far as origins stories go, I hold this as high as the first Iron Man movie. Maybe not as high as Batman Begins, which I do have a soft spot for as it’s one of my favorites, but it is easily the best DCU movie to come out so far. Patty Jenkins needs to direct more big Hollywood movies, not because she’s a female filmmaker but she’s a good filmmaker that happens to be female. I now have hopes that the DCU can be saved, at least there is now one solid movie from it.

Adam:

I was hoping that Wonder Woman was going to break DC’s current streak and it did. The tone of this one was so much better and more natural. There is always humor in life even if it is in the little things. This film was still more serious than many of the Marvel movies. It still had it’s light hearted parts and laughs naturally placed through out. The journey and self discovery that Diana goes through was enjoyable and very well executed. This is by far the best DCU film thus far. If DC continues down this path then we have a lot of good films to look forward to.

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 of 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, the 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 the 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 breathtaking 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 come 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 storyline 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 has 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 a 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 an 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 into 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 are littered throughout the game.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Review

Dead Men Tell No Tales

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. Dead Men Tell No Tales 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:

Dead Men Tell No Tales was 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.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The first Guardians of the Galaxy was one of those great surprises that Marvel pulled out. Many people didn’t know about them and the hype wasn’t as big surrounding it. No one knew what to expect. It quickly turned into a favorite for many fans and introduced some very untraditional and very funny heroes. As we move on to Vol. 2 how will it compare with the first and fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Likes:

Adam

  1. The comedy. This is really one of, if not the funniest Marvel movie to date. I laughed so much during this movie. Drax is always getting a laugh for his social ineptitude. Quill for his ill timed boasting and his love of retro things. Rocket and Groot are always such a good funny team.
  2. The Relationships. In this movie they explored and deepened the relationships between many characters. Now they didn’t go super deep but I was amazed at how many characters we gained a greater understanding about, and how much relationships grew between the characters.

Luke

  1. I’m happy that they actually brought color into a Marvel movie. While the first Guardians movie had color, they turned up the saturation quite a bit. Ironically many excuse DC of lacking color in their movies, but the fact is that the Marvel movies are really flat when it comes to color grading. This is not the case with this movie where there are dark tones, bright tones and an entire spectrum of color. This is easily the best looking Marvel movie to date.

Dislikes:

Adam

  1. Space Jumps. In this movie they use a technology previously unseen, space jumps. The design of them is cool looking, but was confusing to me. It looked to me like they were breaking through a holographic wall and there was no sense speed or how far they were going. It also leads to a very goofy scene with Rocket part way through the movie that I didn’t care for.

Luke

  1. I don’t know why Disney has the need to introduce the antagonist late in the plot. It’s usually for some shock twist in the form of betrayals or motivation reveals. The main antagonist reveal is so obvious that the twist doesn’t feel earned. There also seems to be too many different sub-antagonists in the film that it starts to give me flashbacks to the pirates sequels.
  2. The ending is drawn out way too long. It was one of the few sober scenes and even then they tried to push too much comedy into it. The comedy for the large bulk of the movie was quite great actually, but the ending it just seemed inappropriate for the scene’s tone.
  3. There wasn’t much tension for the third act, as we go in knowing the a third movie has been approved and that the guardians are going to show up in the third Avengers movie. This is a problem with superhero movies as the planet destroying (in the case of this movie, galaxy destroying) super villain plot can’t happen for the sake of future movies. There could have been a more personal conflict to end the movie (like Civil War for example) where failure is actually possible (setting a more dire situation for the next film). Then the ending could be a lot more suspenseful.

Like & Dislike:

Adam

  1. I like how this movie shows just how powerful the guardians are. We see to a greater extent what they are capable of and they can do some really cool stuff. They show off their skills and it is awesome when they do. However there is a scene with Drax that I feel was just too over the top with how much punishment he can take with out a scratch.

Luke

  1. The post credit scenes are a bit overkill. There are a bunch of them and most of them are references to obscure comic series. There are two that I do like though, the first one then the middle one. Those are pretty funny.

Awkward Walk-in Meter: 2/5

Adam:

There was a scene with what was implied as a android brothel but with nothing really shown except for a character finishing buttoning up his pants. The whole scene was very brief. There was also a little more language than normal and some talk of male genitals.

Overall:

Adam:

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. I was laughing for so much of this movie and like how they did stick to using old songs for the sound track like the first one did. There was a lot of good character growth but every one keeps their personality and I was able to gain a better understanding of many of the characters traits. Make sure to stay to the very end because there are 5 post movie scenes sprinkled through out the credits. Is it as good as the first one? I haven’t decided yet and will need to go back and see it again to decide.

Luke:

I agree with Adam where the movie, much like the first one, is a fun and entertaining movie. However the first one was different enough to be fresh, this one kind of felt like a bunch of other movies I’ve seen before. While it is the most visually stunning of the Marvel films, it lacked the deeper subtext, emotional core or ingenuity that has made other movies stand out in the superhero genre (i.e. Logan, The Dark Knight, Civil War). But it is still a fun popcorn movie that you can have a good and fun 2 hours.

What does Luke’s statement in the The Last Jedi Teaser mean?

Personally I find it rather futile to guess and speculate the meaning behind a 1 minute teaser designed to market a movie. Ironically I find people who really hate spoilers are also ones trying to piece together a story out of the limited footage revealed in a trailer. I say, just wait for the movie to come out and you’ll find out. However, as the hypocrite that I am, I’m going to speculate on the new teaser for The Last Jedi with this article including a click-baity title. Why? Because this website needs more views and I’m going to indulge your need to speculate to get views. Firstly, if you haven’t seen the trailer already go watch it here:

I don’t know why these Star Wars teasers require a jump-scare at the very beginning. Anyways, the big thing that people are going on about is the statement Luke makes at the end of the teaser.

I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end.

People have been freaking out over the meaning of this statement. Did Luke turn to the dark side?! Has he become so defeated from the betrayal of Ben Solo that he’s giving everything up?! Is he Rey’s father?!

Well, lets take a step back and look at the Star Wars series as a whole. Some facts to be aware of before I give my educated guess as to the meaning of Luke’s statement. George Lucas was heavily influenced by Joseph Campbell when creating the Star Wars universe. Joseph Campbell is an anthropologist who studied mythology from all around the world. His studies were not to discover the differences between them but rather the values, meanings and purpose behind these myths that is shared by the whole world. He wrote several books but the one most important to this discussion is his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

In this book, Campbell discovered a structure that is shared by mythology all over the world. This is known by many as The Hero’s Journey or The Monomyth. This structure has been influential to storytellers all over the world and is used heavily by films, books, television and video games. A textbook example of the Hero’s Journey is actually the first Star Wars film. George Lucas was in fact one of Campbell’s students in school and was very familiar with the themes, meanings and structure found in mythology as outlined in Campbell’s book. Here’s s basic outline of the Hero’s Journey:

http://www.sfcenter.ku.edu/Workshop-stuff/Joseph-Campbell-Hero-Journey.htm

Several lectures can go into each step so I won’t attempt to go through the whole thing in detail. For the purposes of our discussion though, I wish to focus attention on Apotheosis (it’s misspelled on the diagram). Apotheosis is the process of a man (meaning the overall broad sense of humanity) becoming a God. In the context of the screen-writing, it’s a transformation that is made that allows him/her to reach beyond a stage of ignorance into a stage of knowledge, giving them power to achieve a goal that the hero has set out to do in the story.

So how does this have anything to do with the The Last Jedi teaser? Reading deeper into Campbell’s work helps you to understand the mythic context behind Apotheosis. A large portion of the text talks about the concept of the unity of opposites which can be summarized in the concept of the Yin Yang. If you don’t know, Yin Yang is a symbol of a eastern philosophy that two seemingly contradictory elements are actually two sides of one great whole. According to Campbell, apotheosis is a stage where both opposites come together to form a God using the example of the Male-Female Gods of mythology. God in many religions represent many contradictory sides, a God of creation and destruction, of time and eternity, light and darkness, justice and mercy and so forth.

So let’s bring it back to Star Wars, where the central conflict with the series has always been the light side versus the dark side of the force. In the prequel trilogy, the Jedi council speak about a chosen one destined to bring about the “balance of the force.” Because the prequel trilogy was poorly written, they do not explain what that actually means. Many in the series interpret that to mean the destruction of the dark side. But how does that bring balance?

Let’s go back earlier in the teaser when Rey talks about seeing the light and dark, the balance. Luke tells her that there’s more to it than that. Here’s where I start speculating on how Luke has changed over the years in exile. I believe he discovered that which one who was raised by the Jedi could not understand. That the force is not divided into light and darkness but is both all in one. Where Anakin failed to bring balance to the force, the reincarnation of the chosen one seen in Rey (they both are expert mechanics, pilots and force users) may in fact bring balance to the force. But in order to do that, the Jedi, who represents the light side of the force, can no longer exist. It doesn’t mean that Good needs to give into Evil, but rather the Jedi need to transcend the exclusive use and study of the light side and become one with the force as a whole, both light and dark. This would also mean the end of the Sith has to happen. Perhaps Anakin did fulfill his role as chosen one by ending the Sith by killing his master and himself. Leaving the end of the Jedi to his son and his reincarnation, Rey.

So worry not Skywalker fans, I do not believe that he has turned to the dark side. Rather I think he discovered a secret to the force that the Jedi and Sith have ignored for centuries. In fact, according to non-canon Star Wars history, both groups came from one group of force users who practiced in both light and dark sides of the force and sought true balance with the force named the Je’daii. So perhaps Rey will do what Anakin could not, which is to fully bring balance to the force and end the conflict between the light and dark sides for good.

Again, this is all speculation. But there is strong evidence that this is the direction they will be going. Unfortunately we’ll have to wait until December to find out for sure.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review

It seems that everyone has been playing this game or at least have been bombarded by memes, secrets videos and the like. So I don’t know how much more I could add to the conversation. But I have had people tell me this is what they wanted so I will go ahead and give my two cents.

Some disclosure, I played the Wii U version as I didn’t want to bother waiting until now when the Switch starts to be more available and I really needed to justify my Wii U purchase as I bought it solely for two games, Smash Brothers and Zelda. So I will not be reviewing the Switch as many other reviewers have done. So lets dive into this!

Likes:

  1. The real star of this game is the world of Hyrule. No game has fully realized a place since Skyrim. The map is not only massive but it is diverse. Each area is distinct and different from the rest of the map. A lot of open world games tend to take a copy paste approach to the world design to save time. Nintendo really used the game delays to their advantage and made a spectacular world. It is a place you want to spend time exploring and discovering little secrets hidden across the kingdom of Hyrule. There is no doubt that this game will become the definitive representation of Hyrule. Every part of the world is beautiful in its own unique way and there will be moments where you finish climbing to a hill or tower, see the area and have your breath taken away by the beauty of it all.
  2. Most Zelda games have been built around some sort of gameplay gimmick (such as time-traveling, sailing, dimension hopping, or motion controls) this was really a return to the very roots of the Zelda franchise: exploration. The gimmick in Breath of the Wild is exploration and open ended gameplay. This game accomplishes that spectacularly. You start in one area that is closed off and acts as the tutorial for the rest of the game. Once you leave this area, you are free to do whatever you want. There is only one real goal in the game and that is to destroy Ganon.  Everything else is optional. Granted this things are highly encouraged to do since the side quests and shrines are designed to help you get stronger and ready to fight Ganon. But many speedrunners have gone to fight Ganon with nothing more than 4 hearts and a stick. You could even ignore the main quest and spend hours looking for ingredients and recipes to become a master chef. The game rarely forces you to go into a linear path and no one person will approach this game the same.
  3. As big as the world is and the freedom the game gives you, it is a major shock how stable this game is. Even great open-world games still have many bugs and glitches as QAing games like this is really difficult. But Nintendo did a great job in making this the most stable open-world game I’ve ever played. There were only a few times where I had major frame-rate drops but otherwise they were only brief and not game crashing. You don’t see NPC walking into walls or fall through the floor. While that means there may not be as many funny glitches that many Bethesda games are known for, there are plenty of other funny moments in the game that makes up for it.
  4. With a game this open-ended, you’d think that the story is nothing more than an afterthought. But the story is one of the best in the series. One of my favorite quests was looking for areas on the map that will help Link recover lost memories. Doing this will unlock cutscenes that give backstory to Link, Zelda and many other major characters in the game. The Zelda in this game is one of the best portrayed in all the games, even Skyward Sword. But aside from the memories, the world itself tells many stories as to what happened to Hyrule 100 years ago. For example, there were times where I’d stumble upon several decayed guardians (the spider robots seen the marketing material) with rusted swords in the ground, a display of a battle long ago. It’s an additional testament to the world design and how well thought out it was.
  5. You will get your money’s worth with this game. I played over 105 hours to beat the game and there is still plenty of things I can do. There are 4 main dungeons, 120 mini-dungeons (shrines), 900 korok seeds, several armor sets and upgrades for them and plenty of side quests. By far the biggest Zelda game yet.

Dislikes:

  1. There are a handful of gyroscopic puzzles that use the control’s gyroscope to solve. These are frustrating above all other puzzles in the game. The controls felt off and I hate it when Nintendo tries to force motion controls into my zelda games (it was tolerable in Twilight Princess but frustrating in Skyward Sword). Again, there are few of these and they are completely optional.
  2.  The rain. The fact that it rains in the game is totally fine, but there are drawbacks when it rains. One, climbing cliffs is practically impossible when it gets wet from the rain. Ok, so lets make a campfire and wait it out, oh wait, the wood gets wet and you can’t make a fire. So you’re stuck on a cliff edge and have to wait 5 real life minutes before the rain stops (if it does at all). I might be able to forgive this if it only happens a few times in the game, no, it happens all the time. So much so that it almost feels like the weather programmers deliberately coded the rain to come when you’re climbing something. I wouldn’t care if the game allowed you to wait it out like Skyrim does. But you have to build a campfire to do that and it’s impossible to do during the rain. It sucks you out of the game when you have to sit there and wait for the rain to end before you continue your adventure.
  3. Speaking of weather, lightning can be annoying as well. Because not only is mother nature precision aiming death bolts at you, it’s also raining. The solution is to equip non-metal gear but the problem is that most of the best weapons in the game are steel. So there were times when I was caught in a storm without any wooden weapons which makes it hard when you get ambushed. However, there is a set of armor that makes you immune to electricity that changed everything. Then I would run into a group of enemies just more lightning struck and laugh as my enemies are destroyed around me. But unless you know where said armor pieces are and have the materials to upgrade them, you won’t being having fun in the lightning storms until late in the game.
  4. It took me a while to get used to the controls, as a Zelda veteran, the control scheme for most of the games have been fairly consistent since Ocarina of Time. The controls are very different in this game and it was quite a learning curve for me. But after several hours and accidentally whistling while sneaking I managed to get the hang of it. The interface on the menus weren’t the best either has you had to sort through a bunch of crap to find the items you wanted to cook.
  5. I don’t know why Zelda insists on doing stealth segments. Half the reason why I swore off stealth games for so long was because of crappy stealth from Zelda games. Hyrule Castle in OoT, Gerudo Fortress in MM, Forsaken Fortress in WW, the list goes on. While the stealth in this game is improved from the last games, it’s still frustrating when your forced to do it during certain moments in the game.

Both Liked and Disliked:

  1. The gear durability system is mostly hated by fans. While I do like how the game forces me to try out different weapons, I think it could have been improved. I would have liked to have seen a durability bar on the gear so I know how much use it has left, being able to repair weapons, or doing a quest-line allowing you to make unbreakable weapons (The Master Sword while technically unbreakable, loses its charge after prolonged use, which is the exact same problem). For a game that encourages agency in it’s gameplay and exploration, I think it should allow you to use the weapons you like. At the very least, they should have increased the durability of all gear as they always seems to break quickly and at the worst possible moment. I also found myself not using my good weapons out of fear of them breaking. Again, this is not as bad later in the game when you expand your inventory and good weapon drops become more regular.
  2. These is easily the hardest Zelda game in recent memory. The game is especially brutal at the beginning of the game where there are several enemies that can one shot you. It can be really frustrating for new players. However, much like Dark Souls, the game rewards you for overcoming the odds. You really get a sense of accomplishment when you go back to an area that gave you trouble and totally wipe the floor of those pesky blue monsters. Near the end of the game I finally got courageous enough to take on Lynels (which are the hardest enemies in the game) and felt awesome dodging their attacks, shooting them in the face and stabbing its back while its trying to buck you off. So if your struggling with the game, keep it up and you’ll git gud.

Overall:

If you love open world games, you cannot do better than this game. The world and player choice are the best anyone can offer. This is definitely a worthy title for the Zelda franchise. Is it my favorite Zelda game? I don’t know if I can really say that as it’s very different from the other Zelda titles. Majora’s Mask still holds a piece of my heart (pun intended) since it was the game that got me into the series. But this is definitely the best 3D Zelda title since then. Unless you already have a Wii U, I would just play the Switch version. The differences aren’t big enough to say one is better, but the Wii U is dead at this point and there’s no point in buying one for Zelda alone.