Telltale’s Batman: Enjoyable story, tiresome gameplay

Well written and thought out piece

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This evening I finally got around to finishing Telltale’s Batman game (on the Xbox One), and although overall it was an enjoyable experience, I did have some issues with it. Its strongest element is the story, which adds some unique twists to the typical Batman tale. The story unfolds at a pace that feels right, and there isn’t a lot story wise that feels unnecessary. Everything has a purpose and often a payoff at some point throughout the story.

The game features some unique takes on typical Telltale gameplay, with a system that allows Batman to slow down time and set up a series of attacks that play out through a QTE sequence once completed. The first time this happens it feels awesome. You get to decide how to take out each enemy and once it gets going and you hit all the buttons you’re presented with an action sequence…

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Baywatch Review

Remember how the movie version of 21 Jump Street was a welcome surprise? It was smart and witty with a real heart to it. Well Baywatch is everything we feared that 21 Jump Street would be. No real need to beat around the bush with this one. This movie is horrible. I grew up when the television show Baywatch was on the air. It was that international phenomenon that has made a legacy, for good and bad. The movie does not take advantage of the obvious parody material from the TV show and just makes something completely senseless and wannabe.

What’s the plot? Something about drugs being run through the beach or something like that. It was so generic and forgettable in that sense. Much humor could have been drawn from the fact that they are not cops and just lifeguards. Other than a few jokes here and there about the fact, they just play it straight. Not really pointing at the ridiculousness of the whole thing. Pretty much it plays like an episode of Baywatch just with a few more dick jokes. How many times does Dwayne Johnson use the word “taint” in this movie? I’ve never really heard anyone use that word in real life.

Dwayne Johnson is an actor who can help save any project. Not this though. He is the highlight though and you can tell that he is trying, which goes a long way. Zac Efron is pretty much just playing his character from the Neighbors movies. The rest of the cast are just there and really add nothing to the movie. The one actor that really does nothing is Jon Bass. He seems to be the new Dan Fogler or Josh Gad as the guy who is only there so that they can make fat jokes and just improv (aka scream) when the scene is going nowhere. This is a trope that is tired and needs to go away.

Just rude and crass for real no reason other than to justify the R rating. Every line is filled with profanity and not in the clever way. It is more like the way that little kids curse when there are no adults around. This movie is really trying to get by on that simple fact and fails on all aspects of it as well. More polish could have been spent towards the script to escape the more juvenile aspects of it. I shouldn’t even say juvenile because I don’t even think they will like this.

Also, this movie has a fairly decent budget. The CGI in the movie is terrible. I guess the budget would have went towards the actors. For a film set at the beach, the blue screen background is so obvious in some parts. I can forgive some of the big action pieces that involve fire and such. But not something that could have simply been filmed or had a better background palette.

Arguably this has been one of the worst movies in 2017. It’s unfortunate considering the talent in the cast and even the director. But it’s a big misfire and all cylinders. It’s hard to recommend this to anyone. I doubt even fans of the original television show would like this.

 

SCORE: 3/10

Samurai Jack Finale – One of the Best?

Samurai Jack has finally come to an end. After ending over a decade ago with no conclusion, many thought that we would never see the end of Jack’s journey. After coming to blows with the evil entity known only as Aku, Aku out of desperation thrust Jack into the future where Aku ruled all. The initial series showcased Jack’s role in the future as he wandered through the land in hopes of one day ending Aku and returning to his time.

When the show was revitalized, we learned that fifty years had gone by and Jack has not aged a day due to the means he got to the future. A shell of his former self and one veering on suicide, it was a Jack we did not expect. This was also the case with Aku who had gone into a apathetic depression as he destroyed all the means for Jack to travel to the past in the hopes of Jack’s dying of old age but to no avail. Now both were at a standstill in their journey. Jack, yielded the only weapon that could kill Aku but lost it in a past confrontation. Aku is holding up in his tower in fear that Jack will finally seek him out.

By the final episode, Jack had fallen in love with Ashi, the daughter of Aku. Being the daughter of Aku proved to be his downfall as she had all his powers, which included time travel. Using her abilities to transport herself and Jack to mere moments after Aku initially sent Jack to the future. Without missing a beat, Jack finally ended his enemy. What next? Jack and Ashii are to be married but of course things will not go smoothly. Since Ashi was born in the future and Aky was killed in the past, she was a walking paradox. Fading away at her and Jack’s wedding, Jack is left heartbroken.

Despondent once again, Jack is next seen wandering. This time he stumbles upon a cherry blossom tree where a lady bug lands on him. A bittersweet smile comes upon his face and the series ends with a image of Jack under the tree.

Like life, most things are bittersweet. Jack’s life has never been easy. The day he was born was the same day that Aku came to be. Spending his whole life training to be the one to defeat Aku, he almost succeeded before being sent to the future. Spending fifty years in the future making no connections (despite living an impact on the people he encounters lives) and when he finally does, she turns out to be the daughter of his arch nemesis. Their love was destined to fail but it certainly left a mark. So while he may have defeated his arch nemesis and thus created a better future, he has lost a lot. The woman he loved is gone and presumably most of the people he encountered in the future as that no longer exists. Being in the future tainted Jack as he was forced to take other living beings’ lives. Let’s not forget that Jack while being in his 20’s, he is mentally somewhere in his 70’s. He has lived a lifetime.

But the ending was good as it showed that there was still hope in the world. The cherry blossom reminded Jack of Ashi and how it symbolized her change from cold blooded killer to a caring person. Showing that while he has lost a lot in his very long life, this is still a better future than what we came back from. That there is still hope in the world and that the sacrifices and loss were not for nothing. It was a beautiful finale to a great animated series.

Alien: Covenant Review

The Alien franchise is back once again. The follow up to 2012’s Prometheus, Alien: Covenant, is more or less a return to form for the Alien franchise. Ridley Scott, who directed the first film and Prometheus is back in the director’s chair. This film aims to combine the best elements from Alien, Aliens and Prometheus. Does it effectively do that? Not really. Does that mean it’s bad? No it does not.

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The film follows the colonist ship, Covenant, as they are woken up from hibernation due to a freak accident. As they are drifting in space and not wishing to go back into cryo sleep, they discover a beacon from a planet that should show no signs of life. Who sent out the signal? None other than David 8, the android from Prometheus and the sole survivor of that crew. But not everything is what it appears to be and with this film being an Alien film, you know that something is just drifting in the background and ready to strike.

First thing, this movie is gorgeous. Who would have known that just a wheat field can look hauntingly beautiful? The cinematography is top notch and you can see every penny being spent on the screen. This does effectively set the mood for the film. That things are beautiful but also the underbelly of dread as things are not really what they should be. Without giving away too much, mummified bodies have never looked hauntingly beautiful.

The plot of the movie is bare bones as it is in the quick synopsis that I gave earlier. You can tell that the criticisms of Prometheus being too heady was probably taken to heart. But this is where the film runs into problems trying to have its cake and eat it too. It kind of wants to continue to delve into the philosophical stuff established in Prometheus but at the same time wants to have the horror from Alien and the action from Aliens. So the movie has key and great moments in those individual moments but it doesn’t really gel all that well. If there is a sequel to this (and thus another prequel to Alien) then they can probably figure out the right balance to everything. In fact, you should watch the prologue videos released online that are probably deleted scenes rejiggered to be prologue shorts to help flesh out the film.

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When it comes to the actor’s, this is Michael Fassbender’s movie. He plays dual roles here as David from Prometheus and a new android Walter. As mentioned earlier, David is the only survivor from Prometheus but if you remember that movie, he was not. So what happened in between? The dichotomy between the two androids gives the movies some of the best scenes in the movie. The only problem is that the movie is supposed to have some mystery concerning these characters but it is obvious from the get go especially if you have seen Prometheus.

Katherine Waterston as Daniels Branson fulfills the Ripley-esque role. She is the voice of reason in the film and one who wisely tells the others to not go to the planet. Billy Crudup is always a solid actor and he is the Captain of this ship but also a man of faith. In this future, being a person of faith is looked down upon as hinted in the previous film. The true standout has to be Danny McBride. Known mostly for his comedic efforts, though he has done dramatic roles, this film gives a good mixture of both. The pilot of the ship who has some comic relief but gets serious when things get serious as well.

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Now since this is an Alien film, how are the aliens? Well the classic Xenomorph and Facehuggers have returned. But in addition there is also something called the Neomorph. The Neomorph brings a new element of horror as we have never seen anything like this in the franchise before. If you played Resident Evil 7, it is reminiscent of the some of the creatures in that video game. But Ridley Scott is also utilizing a good mix of practical and computer graphics to get the best out of his creatures to establish a true horror in them.

This is ultimately a solid film and a solid entry into the franchise. Even in his bad films, there is always a level of polish and professionalism that goes into a Ridley Scott film. From the direction to cinematography to music and acting. There are all solid across the board. But there are still some rough patches that do not put it into the upper echelon of the franchise either. If you enjoyed Prometheus, I think you will enjoy this. If you did not enjoy Prometheus, I think you will definitely enjoy this. I do hope that this movie does well if only to get a conclusion to the story arc started in Prometheus.

 

SCORE: 7.5/10

Doomsday Clock Revealed

The time has finally come for Doctor Manhattan’s meddling with the DC Universe to be revealed. Ever since DC Rebirth in 2016, there have been strong hints about who meddled with the DC Universe. As of this writing it still has not been fully confirmed in story as to who it is. It has been strongly been hinted to be Doctor Manhattan. I figured that it might be a misdirect and it still might be but writer, Geoff Johns, specifically mentions Doctor Manhattan by name.

The mystery of why the good Doctor has been doing what he’s doing is one of the biggest mysteries since Rebirth. Multiple heroes and villains have been kidnapped and kept in a prison for unknown reasons. Characters that have powers beyond the extraordinary such as Mister Mxyzptlk are aware of a bigger threat but are seemingly unaware of the more finer details such as the who. Then there is the character of Mr. Oz who has been appearing since before Rebirth and is seemingly a key to solving the mystery with a special interest in Superman

Superman has seen the biggest change since Rebirth happening. Recently the older who appeared post Crisis on Infinite Earths and the younger one who appeared post Flashpoint have fused into one being with a mix of both characters’ histories. Geoff Johns mentions how the contrast between Doctor Manhattan and Superman is the key conflict between the two. With Doctor Manhattan whose powers are so extreme that he has become alien to humans despite being one. Superman, the alien, despite his abilities embraces the humanity.

It is refreshing to see a major DC Comics storyline revolve around Superman. It should be important to remind people as to why Superman is important and necessary despite being a “goody two shoes” and “boy scout” when he really isn’t either of those. The contrast between two beings that people relate to Gods will be interesting to see. Superman cannot have a fist fight with Doctor Manhattan who can atomize beings with a simple thought. So what will their conflict ultimately boil down to?

I will be heading to my local comic book store to check out what this story leads to. How it will shape the DC Universe going forward.

The Defenders Tease A Return

 

If you watched the second season of Daredevil, then that imagery will look very familiar to you. It is obvious that this is teasing the return of Elektra. The assassin was killed in the final episode of the second season but her body was snatched away and locked in a coffin for purposes that are yet unkown. Elodie Yung, who plays Elektra, basically confirmed her return. It was known that the character would be appearing in The Defenders but to what extent and purposes is still unknown.

 

After Phase 3, What’s Next For The MCU?

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It’s well known that after the fourth Avengers movie, things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be different. Not just in universe but also in real life. Many of the stars of the movies will no longer be contractually obligated to appear in the franchise. Who knows what story will affect these characters we have come to know for almost a decade now. Just the one thing for certain is this: change. Change is coming whether we like it or not. President of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige has said that he is not even sure if the Marvel Studios films will even be categorized in phases anymore.

Back to Basics

I love the MCU but even I’ll admit that things have become overblown. Almost every movie involves the world at stake. Now with the culmination of the Thanos/Infinity Gauntlet storyline, it would be the perfect time to scale things back. With the recent successes of Logan and Deadpool, it would be foolish for Marvel Studios not to take notice. Those films were done on relatively smaller budgets and told more intimate stories that yielded both critical and financial success. Showing that not all of these movies need to have climaxes with large explosions and full of computer graphics.

More Standalone Films

 The nature of interconnected movies is the biggest draw of the MCU. But you can also see how it can be a double edged sword. This basically makes it that every film more or less to service the films that came before it and after. Just like the comic books that inspired them, not every story is connected with one another. Sometimes these heroes just get into their own adventures without it having to effect a future story and especially another hero’s films.

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The biggest out of place moment in Ant-Man was the scene where he had to steal a certain object. Who did the object belong to? Howard Stark who is currently deceased so it now belongs to Tony Stark. Where did Tony happen to have it stored? In the Avengers’ headquarters. Who just happens to find him and fight him? The Falcon. The scene was fun but it really served no real purpose other than to set up Ant-Man’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War. It has no real effect on the plot.

New Faces Take The Lead

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Robert Downey Jr. has been the face of the MCU since the first Iron Man movie in 2008. His appearances in the franchise make him one of the highest grossing actors in Hollywood. His cohorts such as Chris Evans are not that far behind him. They have effectively become too expensive especially Downey. Actors also want to do other things with their careers other than appear in these superhero movies. So now the with contracts running out after the fourth Avengers movie, it is time to phase out these older heroes in favor of new ones.

It’s no real shock that Marvel Studios started introducing new heroes such as Ant-Man at the end of Phase Two and new heroes such as Black Panther, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange at the beginning of Phase Three. There are still those upcoming such as Captain Marvel played by Brie Larson on the way. So as major and supporting heroes continually get introduced, you can see a cycle forming. Older heroes will be phased out in favor of the new ones who will eventually become the old heroes and so new ones will be introduced. This way giving the audiences something new and not exhausting them of the heroes who came before and building up anticipation.

The Future

One thing for certain about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is change. The change is coming in one way or another. Who knows what shape or form it will take? The MCU is much different now than when it sarted. Imagine how it will be in another five years. That may be scary for some but change is also necessary. I personally cannot wait to see how this film franchise/universe changes.

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Trailer Takeaway

To be blunt, I was fairly underwhelmed for the trailer to The Last Jedi. Don’t get me wrong, it was a beautiful trailer. It looked gorgeous and you can’t beat a John Williams score. But there was nothing really there to grab me either. Nothing is going to top the feeling when it came to the trailers for The Force Awakens. We didn’t think we would get any more Star Wars films when those were announced. So that level of excitement will never be matched again.

But watching the trailer it leaned heavily on Luke Skywalker. That makes the most sense considering that he was the most important character in the previous movie who only had a cameo with no spoken lines. Though the trailer really gave away nothing in terms of plot and that is probably for the best. We see Kylo Ren looking emo, Finn is still in a coma, the First Order and Resistance are at war. The biggest takeaway is Luke training Rey in the ways of the Force and seemingly wanting the Jedi Order to end.

The Jedi Order ending seems to be something that is being explored in the new canon. In his appearance in Star Wars Rebels, Yoda makes a comment about how the Jedi got it wrong. Ahsoka also mentions how she is no Jedi yet still fights on the side of good. There is also the Bendu who makes it very clear his disdain for Jedi and Sith alike. It is also implied people such as Moz Kanata are Force users and the Force influences people such Chirrut Imwe. So this will be a new avenue to explore and help keep things fresh so as to not repeat things done in the Legends continuity.

There were some things that I found interesting in the trailer though. The bit with the AT-AT’s (though I know that’s not what they’re going to be) and the visual spectacle of them on the horizon was gorgeous. It also looks like a full on war is going to happen between the Resistance and the First Order. I think there is something cool about two fringe groups dictating the future of the galaxy as a whole. So there are still things there I want to see but it was only a teaser. I can’t be too critical of it. I also think if this is the only trailer, I would be okay with it. The less I know, the better.