Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

 

I think my main problem with GotG was that it was trying to be different in light of Marvel’s other movie offerings.  This is not snarky, cool Iron Man, or badass, cool Captain America, or rip-rolling good times cool Avengers.  This is trying-to-be-funny cool Guardians, and sometimes, it works, but mostly the lines were too cheesy, missed their mark, fell flat.

Overly used 80s-90s pop music to make scenes more cool/emotional is not good.

They tried to force the group to become friends too quickly.  The bonding didn’t feel earned.  At one point, they actually all said to one other “You are my friend” or “… because we are friends”.  I think what the director was trying to do was tell us that this ragtag band who didn’t have friends before, suddenly became friends, and kinda’ each had their own moments where they sacrificed themselves for each other in an altruistic way – so you’d think “hey these guys could be just as cool as Iron Man, Thor, Capt America, Hulk, Black Widow, and what’s that arrow-shooting-guy’s name?”

Groot was really good, though it was alarming that movie-goers who thought he was endearing, sweet and heart-warming because he could shoot fireflies out of his body, give flowers to little girls that grew from his palm, and wrap himself into a tight ball around his buddies, forgot that he also had the most gruesome and brutal killscenes of any of the heroes.

Nice work Bradley Cooper, Rocket was awesome.

Nice work Benicio del Toro.

Marvel villains still suck.

The action scenes sucked.

Haha Cosmo.

Haha Howard Duck.

Okay I thought I wouldn’t compare it to the Guardians of the Galaxy comics, but it’s important I bring it up a bit.  Sad that they didn’t introduce Mantis (psychic), Phyla-Vell (superwoman-like), Adam Warlock (space magician), pretty much any of the more interesting, colourful characters of the modern GotG series – and I also missed the zany, time-space-universe bending plots that GotG got up to that the more staid Avengers and standard superhero stories didn’t want to touch.  Stuff like time-traveling to parallel universes and whatnot.

Instead, this movie was your standard space-but-not-really adventure with aliens-but-actually-just-humans-with-different-skin-colors against interchangeable-space-villain-with-creepy-make-up, and space could actually be land, and at the end, an Earth-like planet was in trouble.  I mean Guardians of the Galaxy was about saving the universe, not just a singular planet, right?  The ending was pretty much the same last-minute-Hail-Mary-play-by-heroes trope that Avengers used.  Bah.

Would still buy Groot and Rocket LEGO minifigs though.

Review: Sniper Elite V2

 

In Sniper Elite V2, sniping people is as satisfying as popping bubble wrap.  Sometimes, you might miss a bubble because you have to account for things like bullet drop, wind direction, air in lungs, etc.  It’s not that the game is hyper-realistic, but it gave the illusion of “realism” enough that you felt good as you popped all the bubbles as if you were a professional bubble popper.

Sometimes when you pop the bubbles, you get to see inside the bubbles, and the trajectory of your bullet as it shatters ribs/skull/arms/legs/balls.  It felt like those “cutaway anatomy” science books that I used to love reading as a kid.

I liked how hyper-focused this game was on popping bubble wrap, that trying to run-and-gun it like it was Call of Duty would be the fastest way to get yourself killed.  The machine gun and Welrod silenced pistol are very hard to use because of how inaccurate they were made to be, so you were always forced to rely on your sniper rifle.   And it was cool that you could lay traps like tripwire and mines for the bubbles.  This is good restrictive game design.

The bubbles were really dumb most of the time but that didn’t stop it being fun to pop them.

What’s even better, is if you popped bubbles with a friend.  Sometimes you’d coordinate it such that your friend would flank the bubble wrap, throw a grenade in to distract the bubbles, and then you’d storm in from the other side and pop them all.  Sometimes you’d coordinate popping bubbles simultaneously or compete to see who could pop the bubble that was furthest away.

But most of the time, it was slowly creeping around corners, crawling in destroyed ruins, covering each other’s backs and popping bubbles across war-torn Europe together that was most fun.  Sometimes the bubbles would fight back, and it’d be challenging, but we managed to finish the whole game co-op.

This bubble wrap is highly underrated.

Review: The Wolf Among Us Season 1 (Spoiler Free)

 

Telltale Games’ The Wolf Among Us is like a competent murder mystery drama TV show.  It’s got enough in place to make it intriguing, but it couldn’t really be called edge-of-your-seat stuff.  The mystery isn’t really the centerpiece anyway, it doesn’t matter whodunit – where it excels are the characters involved in this “world” like the Big Bad Wolf, Snow White, Bluebeard, the Tweedle bros, the Little Mermaid and other such familiar children’s stories characters.  That’s cool.  It’s like if you wanted to know what happened to Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk after that adventure was over – well, he became a low-life grifter.  Everyone in this world is either sour or douchey.

The story is atmospherically dark, gritty, and violent, and sometimes a character would say “Fuck” or rip off someone else’s arm and I would go, “Whoa, this is atmospherically dark, gritty and violent”.  For a cel-shaded cartoon-esque game that is.  The artwork is tight though – dig those opening credits, man.  The controls feel a bit janky at times, especially walking around in the world, but the clicking stuff is alright.

As this is an adventure game with multiple paths, you get choices.  The choices are not bad, you get to say some cool stuff, but for the most part, this is a self-contained story so the outcome at the end of the five episodes is not a groundbreaking gamechanger, just some “I learnt some deep shit about the characters of this world and myself”, and a “nice job Telltale Games for bringing the Fables series to life.”  The final “puzzle” to the mystery at the end of the final episode feels a bit confusing and throwaway though.

Look, The Walking Dead Season 1 is the best shit ever for a reason (and won Game of the Year – which I predicted).  The story was crazy good, it didn’t use characters from the main canon series, so Telltale Games could fuck ‘em up if they wanted to.  And then your choices in that game had deep implications moving forward into Season 2.  The Wolf Among Us had to be a self-contained story because it is supposedly a prequel to the comics series.

But you should play this game because 1) it is better than a lot of the other shit out there 2) the Fables world is cool, and 3) Telltale Games is legit.

Review: The Raid 2

Gareth Evans knows his kungfu.  Gareth Evans was very meticulous with the use of whooshes in the film each time a fist or foot or head connected with another body part. Whoosh.  Whoosh.  That made the kungfu more kungfu-ey.  It looked like the actors and kungfu people were really in love with the way they moved, that it looked like a supremely choreographed dance, more than a dirty brawl.  That’s good.

I don’t have much to say of the plot, it’s very Takeshi Kitano in its gangster trappings.  That means to say it’s very Asian gangster-y, though am not sure why there had to be Japanese yakuza in Indonesia but I guess Gareth Evans knows more about that than I do anyway.  I like that there were colorful assassins for our main hero to beat up, including a chick in shades wielding two unwieldy hammers – and that final fight – that is worth the ticket admission alone.  By the way, there’s gratuitous violence.  I also like that Gareth Evans was also messing about with the framing and composition of his shots, some looked dope.  Pushing his capabilities is good.

The Raid 2 is a different beast from The Raid.  Didn’t get me overly giddy with excitement and thrill as the first one did, and the plodding story bits just made me want for it to get on to the next fight scene, and the next.  But it is still one of the best kungfu movies ever.  If I was hosting a cool hang out at my cool home one cool night with some cool friends, I might turn to them and say “Hey, wanna’ see a cool action movie?”  They’d be a bit bored of the story bits, but they’d ooh and ahh with the fighting.

Like I said, Gareth Evans knows his kungfu.

Review: Transformers [whatever number] – Age of Extinction

Stand together or face extinction. As in the end of the Transformers franchise with this drivel.

I spent a lot of the movie wanting to leave.  But my friend was asleep and he said that we should just try and survive it.  But he got to sleep and I couldn’t, so I had to balk every 2 seconds at the shittiness that was flying off the screen.

Anyway, if you want to waste almost 3 hours of your life go ahead.  A lot is wrong with the film, most of the plot is incoherent, it feels like Michael Bay himself doesn’t give a shit about Transformers anymore, because he’s got Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles now.  I also wonder why he bothered to make this when Pain and Gain was so good.  Marky mark was also reading through his lines really fast, like he only had one expression: out of breath deadbeat dad.  I’m starting to think Marky mark thinks that if he wants to get dramatic and angry at someone in a movie, he must read his lines at them really fast.

“I ain’t got time for you, see how exasperated I am?  This is my exasperated voice.”

There’s also Steve Jobs, a really-too-young-to-be CEO Chinese chick who also happens to know kungfu, two dead weight characters (Marky mark’s daughter and her Irish boyfriend), the worst use of Ken Watanabe and John Goodman ever, Optimus Prime kills Kelsey Grammar, rides a T-Rex, and proceeds to fly into outer space signifying the mind-blowing end to a shitty film.  Optimus himself hates humans for pretty much most of the film, so I don’t blame him for wanting to get out of there.

Also Shia over Marky mark.

Review: Frozen

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Finally caught Frozen on the plane.  It’s aight.  Overrated to be frank.  Thought that Anna had all the character development while Elsa had none.  I managed to hold off from hearing Let It Go this whole time, and when it finally got played, I was like “meh”, there are better composed musical centerpieces out there.  Lots of people travelling up the mountain for not much to happen, and then for them all to come back down the mountain again.  Why couldn’t they have just had everything take place on the mountain when everyone made the trip up?

I get that this is a slight tweak on the Disney formula – yeah the handsome prince may not necessarily be all that good, but come on, Anna still had to end up with someone at the end did she?  Couldn’t the sisters just like fuck off and do their own thing since they discovered their true love was the strongest?  Anyway, the sister act wasn’t all that convincing.