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.

Racial Identity in Ghost In The Shell (2017) **Contains Spoilers**

44% on Rotten Tomatoes and $18.6 Million on the opening weekend. With these numbers it is safe to say that the adaptation of Ghost In The Shell is an utter failure, both financially and critically. So why did I love this movie so much? Am I stupid for loving this racially-insensitive Hollywood cash-in or am I seeing something that everyone has missed or ignored? As amusing as it would be to make an article of me facing my own cognitive dissonance to realign my thinking to popular views, I think I’m going to do the dangerous thing: Have my own unpopular opinion and defend it. So here’s why Ghost In The Shell (2017) was great and why everyone missed the point of the movie.

Let’s start with the problem that many people have with these movie: the casting of Scarlett Johansson as Major Kusanagi, a Japanese cyborg counter-terrorist. Hollywood has had a lot of issues of racially insensitive casting for movies throughout its whole history. Blackface, yellowface, and redface were all common place for decades where white actors were put under make-up to play roles that are for other races. This allowed for the spreading of negative racial stereotypes that still continue to this day. While many improvements have been made in our current media, there are still examples of Hollywood whitewashing traditionally ethnic characters like in the live action The Last Airbender and The Lone Ranger. This article is not to defend such practices by any means. Minorities are extremely under-represented in popular culture, even today. However, in the context of the themes, story and world of Ghost In The Shell the casting of Scarlett Johansson was not only justified, it allowed the movie to take a self aware look into how capitalist-driven corporations seek to change our identity for profit.

So in the movie, the plot is primarily driven by Major’s desire to find out who she is. The dilemma of that is faced with being a human-like cyborg but not completely human. In the world of Ghost in the Shell, many people have cybernetic implants. Some like the Major, have a completely synthetic body. So the way that many people retain their humanity is by having a “ghost.” A ghost is the mind, so the identity of a person is linked to the mind or their “ghost.” Both the new and the original movies show the problem with this as memories are hacked and altered by both cyber-terrorists like the Puppet Master or mega corporations like Hanka Robotics. In both films, Major struggles with their own identity as she’s unsure if her memories are her own or is artificial like her body is. The animated film doesn’t seek to answer questions as to the truth of Major’s identity, rather it ends with her finding her humanity by ironically evolving into a higher and completely technological being by merging with The Puppet Master. This is where the live action version differs.

In the live-action version, the central focus is on finding out Major’s identity. In the film, she is introduced as a (presumably American) refugee that survived a terrorist attack, thus giving her the motivation to hunt down terrorists in the anti-terrorism unit Section 9. However, after meeting with hacker Kuze, her identity is put into question and she seeks answers. She finds out that not only is the terrorist attack that killed her parents a fake memory implanted by Hanka, but her real identity (or ghost) is a Japanese runaway named Motoko Kusanagi (surprise!). So yes, The Major in the live-action movie is in fact Japanese, or specifically she is a Japanese Ghost in the American Shell.

So does this justify white-washing Major’s character in the first place? Or, as some of the critics claim, a sloppy means for the filmmakers the hop around a sensitive issue? First of all, the story antagonizes the corporation that kidnaps children, brain washes them with a new identity and then gives them a new body as a means to get profit. I don’t think the film is trying to say that changing a person’s race and identity for your own gain is okay. I’m happy that the filmmakers were ballsy enough to even attempt to be a mirror at Hollywood’s own race problem. Do you know how many actors and actresses needed to change their name to make them sound less ethnic? Charlie Sheen was born Carlos Irwin Estevez, his father’s name is Ramon Antonio Gerard Estevez, you know him as Martin Sheen. That is an example of only one actor out of many that had to change their name. The closure for The Major in the live action movie comes from discovering her real name: Motoko Kusanagi. Only then is she able to connect to the world around her, using not her American shell but through her Japanese ghost.

By the way, I asked two friends of mine, both of whom are Asian American, how they felt about the movie. Both of them enjoyed the movie and weren’t bothered by the casting. One of them even said that Scarlett Johansson did the character justice. The anime doesn’t even address her ethnicity so her race doesn’t effect her characterization at all. Ironically the one time it does is the American adaptation because it’s part of her character arc. The big irony in all this though is how everyone is upset that Hollywood changed the identity of the protagonist, and the movie agrees with you wholeheartedly.

If the plot itself isn’t enough to convince you, then I will start talking about the themes of the original animated classic and the cyberpunk genre as a whole. The opening text in the Ghost in the Shell (1995) says that “The advancement of computerization, however, has not yet wiped out nations and ethnic groups.” The keyword in that statement is ‘yet’. The implications are important to understanding the multicultural themes in both cyberpunk and Ghost in the Shell. The original movie, Major does in fact transcend race and nation by merging with The Puppet Master and evolving into a computerized ghost without age, gender or ethnicity. The world of cyberpunk is filled with multiculturalism. Blade Runner is a world full of different ethnicities (primarily Chinese) even though it takes places in a future Los Angles. Ghost in the Shell is a Japan full of multiculturalism as well. Here’s an excellent video essay by The Nerdwriter about how Ghost in the Shell does this.

One of the themes in Ghost in the Shell is developing a world that is truly uni-cultural by the use of technology. When all differences are removed by uniting the world on a global network and controlling our appearance via synthetic bodies. However this may present a problematic dilemma in the current discussion on race. Does this uni-culturalism mean that we should be color blind? What I mean by that is, does the mixture and evolution of multiple cultures mean we must lose our past in order to make a future where no race exists? I think the movie makes that clear when The Puppet Master says this:

“All things change in a dynamic environment. Your efforts to remain what you are is what limits you.”

The difference between the original animated film is that the live action film is about embracing your cultural identity. The ending is Major accepting her past and reuniting with her mother. This is ultimately what I loved about the live-action version is that is it not the same as the original. It is not a remake but an adaptation, which I think it did well for the current discussions on race which promotes the acceptance of one’s heritage, promote diversity and the tolerance toward other’s ethnicity.

So it would make sense for the cast of the new Ghost in the Shell to be multicultural. Many of it’s supporting characters are Chinese, Japanese, Black, and White. It reflects the multiculturalism found in America and (increasingly) in other countries around the world. It may not focus attention on the ethnic characters as much as I’d like but none of them I would say are stereotypical. I mentioned in my review that “Chief” Aramaki, a Japanese character played by a Japanese actor (the great Beat Takeshi Kitano) that speaks Japanese throughout the whole movie, is one of my favorites (pictured below). I think the movie did try to show a world of people of different colors to work together in a much more optimistic way than your typical cyberpunk movie.

The new Ghost in the Shell is not here to mimic what made the original anime great. Instead it took the source material and adapted to a more international and contemporary audience. It’s okay with me if the new Ghost in the Shell didn’t work for you. But I feel like I have to explain myself why I seem to be a minority in how I feel about this movie. I just feel that people are watching the film without reading what it’s trying to say, or worse, not watching it and judging it based off the opinion of others. It isn’t a perfect movie, but it at least got me to not only think about the depiction of race in pop culture but also be a fun and visually stunning movie to watch. I have to give credit to a movie that does that for me.

Ghost In The Shell (2017) Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell

Here’s some context for Ghost in the Shell. 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.

Power Rangers Movie Review

Power Rangers

Better late than never? It’s been a busy weekend for all of us and we were finally able to get around to seeing Power Rangers. As a disclaimer, everyone here at Geek Mind Fusion were at the right age for the power rangers craze during the 90’s. So we naturally loved the show as kids, but how does the movie hold up? It is good, bad or are we blinded by nostalgia?

Likes:

Luke

  1. The bulk of the movie is about the kids becoming the power rangers. Normally I would rail on it by being filled with tropes and recycled story elements from movies like The Avengers and even The Breakfast Club. But for some reason it worked for me. Others I talked to about the movie felt that the first two acts were superior to the final act. Which you wouldn’t think is the case as the final act has all the action in it. But when your mom is able to remember the character’s names after the movie, you know you did the characterization right in this movie. Not at all what I was expecting from this movie.
  2. This isn’t saying much but this is definitely the best power rangers movie made yet.
  3. Suplexes and slapping.

Adam

  1. I liked how character development was the main focus of most of the movie. I had recently gone back and watched the first episode of the 1993 tv series and the story elements, and characters, were highly laking. I liked how we met these characters and got to the point where we were invested in them.
  2. The production value was pretty good especially when compared to the 1993 series and even the newer 2016 version. The suits and zords looked far more realistic than the toys they used for the tv series. The fighting at the end was so much better choreographed and there was more tension and peril.

Dislikes:

Luke

  1. While I was oddly engaged with the character development during the first and second act, the third act was fun but I think only for nostalgia. The tonal shift between the ending and the rest of the movie can be jarring. It’s like watching The Breakfast Club then having it turn into a Transformers movie during the last 30 minutes. While the ending is campy and true to the original show, the action is kinda boring except for the two moves listed in my number three likes. I found myself laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, but I can’t stop and think of other movies that did the same thing better. The ending was just stopping the bad guy from getting the McGuffin at the product placement by using the power of teamwork and friendship. The Avengers did this better, and Pacific Rim had far-superior giant robot fights.
  2. (Spoilers) Krispy Kreme is the center of all life on Earth (this is figuratively true in this movie).

Adam

  1. Rita. Her premise at the beginning of the movie was ok  but she, overall was off. She was too much of a wild beast in the beginning and was fairly unpalatable.
  2. The bully who picked on Billy. I have had my share of bullies in the past but this guy was way to over the edge. I did enjoy what happened to him in the process of picking on Billy though.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 2/5

Luke:

Most of the movie is your standard-fare superhero movie stuff, with bloodless action and peril. However there are a few off-hand jokes involving masturbation and jerking off a bull. It’ll probably go over the kids’ heads, but for those of us who get it, it’ll come off as juvenile.

Adam:

I agree

Overall:

Luke

I went in expecting this movie to be terrible, with them trying to force in a serious and grounded origin to the campy power rangers. But that ended up being the best part of the movie. The action itself is boring and cliche. I can’t say that I loved or hated this movie, there were both good and bad found in this movie. I guess if you grew up on Power Rangers I would recommend it. I just found it strange that I came to watch the power rangers but I ended up staying for Jason, Billy, Zach, Kim and Trini.

Adam

I went to this movie after just watching the first episode of the 1993 tv series, which increased my appreciation of the movie. I did, however, destroy my nostalgia. I liked the movie overall, enjoyed the characters and their arcs. The production value was pretty good and had it’s funny moments. It doesn’t warrant a second theater viewing but was worth going to see at least once.

Horizon Zero Dawn Review

Come for the Game Play, Stay for the Story

Humanity has reverted back into a primitive, tribal way of life. Lush vegetation has conquered tattered ruins of what was once our thriving cities. Mechanical beasts that resemble creatures of prehistoric times roam the lands. This is Earth now and we follow Aloy, a charmingly strong-willed redhead, on her journey to understanding her existence and how she fits the mold of this world, with the many faces she’ll meet along the way. Some less memorable than others. But I’m more forgiving in this regard as your main focus is the development of Aloy. The ones that truly matter and affects her the most are well done. I’d be more disappointed if none of the characters you meet added the least bit of color to your adventures. To date, I don’t know of any console game that is as visually stunning as Horizon Zero Dawn especially if you have a system that can run it in its rendered 4k.

The Story

     The story may be at first, slow, but the aesthetics of the environment that the game walks you through is distracting enough that you really won’t notice. After about 2 or so hours in, the story picks up, piling on more questions to the questions you already have to grip your curiosity. It is an open world and, as such, offers many distractions. The game, however, delivers enough sense of urgency that you are compelled to stay focused and not wildly distracted like you would be in oh–Skyrim, for instance. Depending on one’s efficiency, that main quest line can be finished in 30-40 or so hours.

     Of course, there are dangers lurking beyond that hill cresting the sunset; most of which will be machines. Perhaps some bandits roaming the trails looking for their next meal. Fear not, Aloy is trained in range combat with various bows, slings, traps, wires, and ropes along with a spear should the fight come close. A wide enough array of strategies can be employed against different types of enemies. What worked for your current adversary may not dent your next challenge. You can approach situations stealthily if a more frontal assault is not to your style. There are plenty of patches of tall grass to ambush unsuspecting robotic lizards from. It is refreshing and keeps the game from going stale too soon out of sheer repetitiveness–something that plagues a lot of action RPG’s of late. You can even arm yourself with weapons torn off from certain enemies.

    The System

     Usually, games with aesthetics of this caliber, fall short on either combat system or storytelling. Guerrilla games exceeded expectations, if not lived up to the hype, with this game; especially for their first title that is not their usual genre. But it’s not all praises and accolades for Horizon Zero dawn. The game offers little to no incentive at all in terms of replayability. Everything can be achieved in this game, from the plethora collections of data logs entry to enrich oneself in deeper lore of this world, to sidequests, ultimate equipment, and trophies in the first playthrough. Unless you want to just have another go at the storyline to see how NPC’s would react through different dialogue options but that is really nothing a quick “save and reload” trick couldn’t remedy. That is not to say, you can’t continue your adventure after the main storyline. By all means, go out and hunt more challenges. Parkour your way above mesas and cliff tops and take a moment to enjoy and immerse yourself in Horizon Zero Dawn’s breathtaking vistas, if nothing else.

     So, buy or rent? This one really boils down to personal choice. I’ve come to love collecting the games I play. This may have been influenced by the fact that I work a lot and my time is stretched thin between that, family, and life in general. I like the convenience of having my copy, digital or otherwise, ready to pop in for some play whenever I get a bit of free time. As I’ve mentioned before, the main storyline itself can be done in 30-40 something hours. If you have a long 3-4 day weekend saved up, you can easily binged play through this. But with quality this good, best to make room for it on your shelf.

 

Beauty and the Beast Review

Beauty and the Beast

Back in November of 1991 Disney released their animated version of Beauty and the Beast which won Oscars for best original score and best original song. The very first full length animated feature film nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Nearly 25 1/2 years later Disney has brought this classic film to life in a live action version of the film. Will this movie live up to one of the most beloved movies of all time? Let’s take a look.

Likes:

Adam

  1. The music. All of the classic songs are included and relatively unchanged but there are a few places where the beats are slightly different which adds a bit of freshness to these wonderful songs. There are also several new songs that go well with the rest of the movie.
  2. Emma Watson. The new Belle knocked it out of the park. She was the strong, smart, independent, warm woman that we expect Belle to be. Plus her singing voice was spot on as well. I think that Disney made the right casting choice.
  3. The changes. This movie is a little longer than its predecessor so there is some extra content. Some of it is taken up with the extra songs but there is also some extra story in between the musical numbers. Overall I liked most of the changes because the motives were made clear for many of the characters. Many of these scenes added a little more depth to the characters.

Luke

  1. I was worried that the singing would be not up to par, because big actors/actresses doesn’t guarantee good singing voices (Les Miserables anyone?) but that was not the case. Everyone had a great singing voice and the songs were equal and perhaps even better than the animated classic in some cases.
  2. While the story is more or less the same as the animated version, they did add some plot details that helped explain some plot holes that was there previously. While it only really bothered people who over analyzes cartoons (like me), it was nice that they did address some of plot holes from the original. Some of the additions didn’t work for me but I’ll get to it later.

Jacob

  1. One of the most beautiful Disney films ever made. The art direction was top notch with the set design being well crafted and thought out to create the feeling of the film.
  2. The changes made to Maurice helped him to be a more relatable character, less nutty professor and more Geppetto. The more fleshed out relationship between him and Belle was a nice addition as well.

Dislikes:

Adam

  1. The Beast was good for the most part and looked good when he moved like an animal. However, when he moves in more human ways, he seems clunky and awkward. The CG for that movement wasn’t on par with the rest of the movie. Beast also mumbled a lot of lines which was a little annoying.
  2. During Gaston’s song I felt like Gaston and LeFou were constantly being drowned out but the music and background singing which made it harder to understand the lyrics.

Luke

  1. (Kinda Spoilers) The back-story of Beast’s childhood was phoned in and didn’t really play a big enough part for it to make any big difference. It felt like they tried to explain Beast’s inner demons by simply saying, “oh its daddy issues.” It needed to either be a bigger part of the story or just removed entirely.
  2. The CG furniture characters were too complex in their design. While it looks more realistic the way they did it, there is a charm to the simple designs of the animated characters that was lost in this version. Their emotions didn’t come across as easily as their 2d-animated counterparts. Some might even find them more creepy than enduring.

Jacob

  1. They didn’t give Beast a name so everyone including Belle calls him a Beast through out the whole movie. Even though Beast’s arc was proving to everyone that he wasn’t a beast. The horse even had a name (Phillip if you need to know).

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 1/5

Adam:

The awkward moments are the three “Gay” moments that the Director mentioned in an interview. These moments are all harmless and most likely will be missed unless you are really looking for them. Even then they are very quick not offensive.

Overall:

Adam:

I really enjoyed this Beauty and the Beast. It was a great adaptation of the most beloved animated film ever. I was satisfied with it but I know that it will always suffer from being compared to the animated version. However, it is totally worth going to see in the theater and enjoying with the whole family.

Luke:

I enjoyed the movie overall as well. It’s a faithful adaptation to the animated classic with some plot additions that seemed to be made for the purpose of addressing the cinema sins review of the original. However it’s hard to say if this movie really stands on its own as it’s more-or-less the same movie and story. I call to question if a live action remake was even necessary as the original still stands on its own as one of the best Disney films ever made. If your a fan of the original you probably already saw it and I’m sure you loved it. If your not a fan, I don’t know if this version would really win you over.

Jacob:

I also enjoyed the movie, and the wonderful production design should be nominated next year for an oscar.

The Lego Batman Movie Review

The lego batman movie

This review is a bit late I’ll admit but I just saw it again for the second time and wanted to talk about it. There are a few pieces of evidence that suggest this movie takes place after and is tied to The Lego Movie, but it is mainly it’s own stand alone movie. Now we have the task of seeing how it holds up as a lego movie and also a Batman movie. Lets see how it does.

Likes:

  1. I enjoyed the humor a lot. This, like The Lego Movie, did not take it self seriously at all. The movie sets it self up with humor right in the beginning which sets your expectations right at the start. They refer to older Batman movies throughout and also reference many other pop culture figures. Plus the more you know about the various other characters in the movie the more funny references there are to catch.
  2. This is a great family movie. I love that my kids can come with me to this movie, laugh and have a enjoyable time, and I do the exact same thing. This movie was made well enough that while it is a kids movie there was still plenty to entertain me as well.
  3. It is neat how they are able to keep the world fairly true to how legos work. Aside from the characters who have some more freedom in their arms, every thing else works how legos would work. Certain things that would be a lot more dramatic in real life are less dramatic because the legos just click together.

Dislikes:

  1. My only real complaint is that the story is fairly predictable. I guessed the overall plot well ahead of time, I was not surprised by the twists, and foresaw the character arcs a very short time into the movie. Though considering this is a kids movie this is more forgivable.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 1/5

This is a kids movie. There is really nothing to worry about unless you have an older person walk in that never played with Legos. Then it is a little awkward just due to having to explain what legos are.

Overall:

I really enjoyed this movie because I went in to with the expectation to laugh and have fun. This is not a serious movie so it shouldn’t be looked at through serious lens. Batman is a different style than others which makes him interesting, unique, and great to watch. This is a movie to go to with your family and have a fun time together. Bring the kids in your life and have a good time.   

Kong: Skull Island Review *Updated*

March is a heavy month for movies, so expect reviews weekly. It’ll die down in April as there isn’t much in the way of movies. So while we tend to focus on geeky movies on this site, it is very appropriate to have King Kong here. The original King Kong was a hallmark film that inspired countless filmmakers including Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg. You have Kong to thank for the movies such as Lord of the Rings and Jurassic Park. So how does this film hold up?

Likes:

Luke

  1. If you want a movie to turn the brain off to and let it entertain you, this movie will fit the bill. It’s a popcorn movie that will keep you entertained and excited for 2 hours. The action is exciting and at times, gloriously over-the-top. I was laughing during many off the action scenes just because of the utter shock of what I was watching. If you don’t take the movie seriously you’ll find yourself having fun.
  2. Samuel L. Jackson ironically was one of the most nuanced and deep characters in the movie (not hard in this movie but we’ll get to that in a moment). Playing a war hero from Vietnam who’s so devoted to military life works well for him. There were some interesting pieces of dialogue that were kinda easy to miss but where his motivation was revealed. I understood why he was doing what he was doing.
  3. The CG was good in this film, where if you like to see spectacle you will get it. I don’t think the art direction was on par with Jackson’s King Kong, but it was still very gorgeous to watch on IMAX 3D.
  4. Movie is at a comfortable 2 hour length, not 3 hours like the Jackson version.
  5. Japanese Katana because why not?

Adam

  1. I agree with Luke in that it is a great popcorn movie to just relax and enjoy. It can make you feel compassion for several of the characters but it doesn’t send you into a rage or sob fest.
  2. I like the way they conveyed that Kong wasn’t  just a wild mindless beast but had intelligence and feelings. He wasn’t as flushed out Peter Jackson’s King Kong but they did at least begin to show that he was a bit of a character instead of an unfeeling force of nature.
  3. Tom Hiddleston was fun to watch. This role is a bit different than his role as Loki from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it was enjoyable to see some of his diversity. His character was not as flushed out as I would have like but overall was good in this movie.
  4. Again going to have to agree with Luke. Japanese Katana. It had some amazing scenes.

Dislikes:

Luke

  1. As it is with all popcorn movies, this movie excels at what it’s made to do but leaves some shortcomings in some story elements. The biggest one being the characters. All but two don’t feel like characters but rather stereotypes made to serve as plot elements. No one is really the driving force for the plot, but rather vice versa, where the plot is dictating what the characters do. There’s only really two characters that I liked, first was Samuel L Jackson who I mentioned in my likes and John Reilly’s character. Who I’ll talk about in detail later.
  2. There was a lot of exposition made in the movie that was clearly made for a future movie in mind. Because few of it really paid off in the movie we were actually seeing. I try to keep this reviews spoiler-free so I won’t mention any specific things.
  3. Kong didn’t feel like a character as much as Jackson portrays in his film. Granted this movie is considerably shorter, there aren’t many scenes that Kong can come off as more than a force of nature. There were scenes where they tried but still feels a bit flat.
  4. This one might need explaining. So the current climate of film economics has moved to an international market. By this I mean China is now one of the biggest consumers of films in the world. Hollywood being a business, wants in on the Chinese market. China has strict guidelines and limitations toward its imports including movies. To get around this, Hollywood co-produces with Chinese Film Production companies. On top of this, they add Chinese characters (who are big Chinese stars) to appeal to the Chinese market. This isn’t a big deal but it isn’t handled well in this film. The obligated Chinese character in this film does nothing. It doesn’t make sense for her to be in this movie other than to be one of the scientists (which you could easily combine two of them and nothing would change). If you have to put her in, at least make her do something! I’d be interested to know if she plays a much bigger role in an edited version of the film played in China.

Adam

  1. There were a few character arcs that were not my favorite. Like Luke mentioned, Samuel L. Jackson’s acting was great and he was one of the best developed characters, however I didn’t care for where he ended up at the end of the movie. John Goodman’s character was another one of those arcs that easily could have been so much better.
  2. I like to take my kids to as my movies with me as I can but from a father’s perspective this movie is not one I would take my kids to. There are a lot of jump scare and enough frightening images that I wouldn’t feel comfortable bringing my kids who are both under 8 to this movie.

Like and Dislike:

Luke

  1. John Reilly is really the only one that shows much emotion or has a sympathetic reasoning behind his actions. I like this character but he is absent for nearly a third of the movie. Telling his story about living on the island for over 20 years would have made a more interesting movie than the one we saw.

Adam

  1. I second that.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 1/5

Luke:

Near the beginning there’s a short scene inside a brothel/bar but nothing is explicatively shown. The rest is harmless enough, it’s your typical action violence from a PG-13 rating. Oh and there’s one F-Bomb, and it’s oddly not from Samuel L. Jackson.

Adam: 

On top of what Luke mentioned I’d say the violence is a little more than say your average Marvel movie. The violence is mainly creature violence and because of that there was more blood and some visible lose of limb and one impaling.

Overall:

Luke:

It’s no surprise that this is a typical action blockbuster. No one is going into this movie to watch a character-driven drama (go watch Logan if you want that). So if you want a popcorn movie, then that is what you will get, it is an entertaining 2 hour adventure. Granted there have been blockbusters that are not only fun but have good characters too. So it is a bit disappointing for Hollywood to easily abandon character and plot for action and spectacle when you can have both. One such movie was actually Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Which by the way is superior in every way, except for the length. It isn’t a bad-bad movie though, but I guess a good-bad movie, where if you don’t take it seriously, you will have fun.

Adam:

Like we have mentioned above it is a great popcorn movie and is a lot of fun to watch. The plot isn’t complex and the characters aren’t super deep but it is still an enjoyable watch and a great escape from everyday life. There is an extra little scene after the credits that goes into something not too well developed in the movie so it worth staying for.

Movie Review – Logan (2017) *Spoiler Free*

Welcome to the GMF movie reviews! Here we’ll go and do some reviews for the geeky movies to come out during the year. Since we’re not registered film critics, we won’t be able to go to pre-screenings and get these reviews out the day it’s released. So you may have a wait a few days or so since we’re watching the movies the same time you are. So we’re going to try and do reviews a bit differently than others may do it. It’ll be in a list form for the likes and dislikes, sometimes it’ll be me solo and sometimes the others will chime in. Lastly I would like to make a meter for “awkward walk-ins moments.” What I mean by that is the moments when your S.O., parent, kids, grandma, etc walks into a movie at the most awkward time. Not only for inappropriate content but also for just other bizarre stuff you may find in a movie. I think some people might find that useful when planning to see a movie. So let’s get into the review of Logan!

Logan

Likes:

  1. A very emotionally charged movie. It’s rare for a movie like this to be as engaging on an emotional level like this. It’s a similar feeling after watching a deep character-driven drama (makes sense after figuring out that the director also made the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line). While this isn’t what you want for all movies, this was a breath of fresh air for the superhero genre. The Dark Knight was one of the only superhero movies that had a ending that was both inspirational and a bit depressing like Logan did. Coming to watch a typical X-men movie? This is not what you’re looking for.
  2. The acting was fantastic. Hugh Jackman truly nails the character of Wolverine in this movie. The creative freedom they had in this movie allowed Jackman to go to places emotionally that he wasn’t able to before. Patrick Stewart also does a great performance as Professor Xavier, which was very different from his other performances with the same character, but for the context of the story it made sense. You see them both given it their all for this movie.
  3. I could feel that the filmmakers and actors actually cared about making the best movie they could. I already mentioned the acting but even the director James Mangold had some energy put into the movie that was absent in The Wolverine. This maybe because Mangold had a lot more creative freedom than in The Wolverine which was an ok movie at best.
  4. While both previous Wolverine films had some major pacing issues, the pacing in this movie is spot on. It’ll give you breathing room when you need it. Then will crack up afterwards and keep your attention throughout the whole movie.
  5. Grounded superhero movie done right. Other X-men films struggled tonally cutting from flashbacks of Auschwitz to melodramatic comic book slock. This is not the case for this movie. It knows it’s a serious film, and it stays serious throughout.

Dislikes (or rather what others might dislike):

  1. There isn’t much exposition to explain why the world is the way that it is. Some of it is explained but it isn’t spelled out for you. So some of the backstory might be hard to follow. Also it does rely a bit on you understanding the X-men world. So if you’re brand new to X-men you may want to watch the original X-men movie first.
  2. The violence is up to 11 on this movie. THIS MOVIE IS RATED R FOR A REASON. The claws are used and depicted realistically in this film. Don’t pull a Deadpool and take your kids to this. This movie is not for them. There are plenty of ‘F’ bombs and ‘S’ bombs here too.
  3. My friends that came with me were emotionally overwhelmed after seeing this movie. It isn’t a fun movie to watch. This didn’t bother me as I was happy to actually feel something after a movie for a change. However it’s not really a positive emotion. If you go in expecting an emotional and darker movie, that is what you will get.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 4/5

While the movie lacks sexual content and suggestive costumes like the other X-Men movies, this movie is full of profanity, bloody gore and action. This is a hard R and is not for kids.

Overall:

Logan is a rare film, it’s a film where the studio took a chance and let the filmmakers make the movie they wanted to make. It’s hard to tell if it’ll pay off like Deadpool did but it did expand what can be done in the superhero genre. There have been dark superhero movies before but not to the level of being considered a heavy drama like Logan was. If you grew up with the X-men movies like I did, I think you can go in and appreciate the arc that was made for Wolverine. His solo movies have been duds up until now. Not only is this by far the best Wolverine movie, but it might be one of the best X-men movies yet.

Redefining Geek – The Who and Why to GMF

Welcome to Geek Mind Fusion. As the first formal blog on this website, I feel it should be an introduction to who we are and what we wish to accomplish with this website. Firstly, an introduction to the GMF team. Adam is the creator of GMF, he’s also our primary programmer and producer who keeps us all on track. My name is Luke, Adam’s younger brother, and content creator. Jacob, who’s the youngest brother is the ideas guy. Then there’s Troy, our art and design guru and Shem, who helps with Marketing.

The common ground we all have is that we are geeks. But the irony is that we are all geeks for different things. We have passions for both a variety of things and some that we share. We aren’t all sports geeks like Shem, and Jacob is the only one who plays D&D. Several of us are geeks for Star Wars, superheroes, movies, and video games but the level of geekiness is different for each of us. I’m a huge Batman geek for example, even though I think all of us are at least a fan.

This dynamic we have is something I believe every social group has. Differences that are held together by one thing, passion. For a geek is someone with passion. And life would be boring without passion.

So really what we want to do is not only redefine geek but to find common ground in our passions. We want to be inclusive to all kinds of geeks if that be your typical video game geek to even your sports geeks.

We are working to produce content for a wide variety of areas from pop-culture to even some more obscure things. This content includes blogs, podcasts, apps and whatever crazy thing we come up with during a “geek-out” moment. 

We invite you to join us in our discussion on all things geek and keep an open mind for the next thing you might find passion in.  Stay tuned for more.